5 New Year’s Resolutions For Your Mind

Every year, New Year's resolutions revolve around health. Exercising more, or eating better. Here are five resolutions to make you better emotionally, which is step one, and has been ignored too often.

1. Meditate.

The ability to clear your mind. To not think about your business, spouse (lack of one), kids, parents, whatever. When you realize how often things creep into your mind when you're trying to focus, you realize how often you truly aren't focused. In meetings when you should be lasered in, and you're not. It starts with meditation. My advice is start short and free. Two apps that are good are Calm and Headspace. Make sure to turn your ringer off and spend three minutes with guided mediation. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon when you lose focus again.

2. Write. 

As E.M. Forster said, "How do I know what I think until I see what I say?" Writing your thoughts down when you're dealing with a problem just plain helps! Whether it be firing someone, a client situation, reorganization, a new venture....just write. It can be pen and paper, a Word document, a PowerPoint or on your phone. Just write your thoughts.

3. Reflect.

I stole this from Harry Kraemer. Kraemer is the former CEO of Baxter and current professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. At the end of every day, whether it be 5 or 6 pm, or 9 or 10 pm, think. Reflect on your day. What you did. Who you spoke with. What you achieved. Think about the past and reflect. It will help you gain clarity for tomorrow.

4. Listen.

It should be self-explanatory, but it's usually not. You've hired people to work with you. You pay vendors and advisors. You have a board or peer group. Listen. Want to hear bad news. Don't think about your retort and being defensive....listen to what they are saying. Ask them follow-up questions to get them to go deeper. Listen, and learn.

5. Scream. 

Not at anyone! Just scream. For 30 seconds. It shakes up your head and your body. It gets your blood and adrenalin pumping. It's been studied and shown that it actually changes your mood. It's awkward. It's weird. It's uncomfortable. And it works. Do it in your car. Do it in the shower. Find a place. You will feel better!

Happy 2018!

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‘What a year it’s been’: Trump lauds major feats of 2017 in end-of-year video

Donald Trump has posted a video summarising his first year in office, which gives an insight into what the president sees as his biggest accomplishments as 2018 begins.

Beginning with martial drums and numerous shots of the Marine One helicopter, and US soldiers keeping watch over the president, the three-and-a-half-minute clip focuses first on Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the supreme court – one of his best decisions in the eyes of conservatives, but a move viewed much more nervously by liberals.

Donald J. Trump
(@realDonaldTrump)

What a year it’s been, and we're just getting started. Together, we are MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! Happy New Year!! pic.twitter.com/qsMNyN1UJG

December 31, 2017

The video then skips to footage of Trump speaking to victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and holding up a Puerto Rican flag – glossing over his lengthy dispute with authorities in the US territory over the perceived weakness of the federal response to Hurricane Maria there compared to the aid given after disasters on the mainland.

A quick out-of-focus shot of Trump chatting to Theresa May at the G20 in Germany also airbrushes a tricky relationship – most recently when her criticism of his decision to retweet messages from a British far-right group led to Trump tetchily telling her she should focus on “Radical Islamic Terrorism” and not on him.

As the controversial speech he made in Poland in which he said “our civilisation will triumph” plays, Trump is shown at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, the city he recognised as Israel’s capital this month in the face of almost unanimous opposition from foreign allies, who view its status as a key part of future negotiations with the Palestinians.

Trump goes on to hail jobs figures (whose strength can be overstated), the rise in the stock market (which he has been accused of using as “a substitute metric for success given his anemic poll numbers”), and his recent tax cuts (which favour the rich and corporations), as well as his idiosyncratic campaign to politicise the phrase “Merry Christmas”, before ending with an excerpt from a speech he made to the US air force in which he told personnel, “For America, the sky is never the limit,” as the camera lingers ominously on a fighter jet.

Trump’s social media team has made a habit of releasing short videos to mark what the administration considers key events. This new year one is perhaps less avant-garde than the recap of Trump’s trip to Asia in November, which featured backwards footage of local cyclists and slo-mo clips of the president striding along red carpets, all soundtracked by a tune that recalled Hans Zimmer’s Rain Man soundtrack. And it is slightly less jingoistic than his iMovie-style slideshow of his trip to the G20, which included a song based around his campaign slogan “make America great again”.

But he returned to that theme with the message that accompanied his new year video, telling his 45.5 million followers: “What a year it’s been, and we’re just getting started. Together, we are MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! Happy New Year!!”

Whether the thought that Trump is just getting started will delight or terrify you in 2018 may depend somewhat on your political persuasion.

As midnight approached, the president followed up with a tweet that recalled last year’s infamous new year’s message focusing on his “many enemies”.

The enemies, and indeed haters, still got a mention, but there was room this year for friends too – and even the “Fake News Media”.

Donald J. Trump
(@realDonaldTrump)

As our Country rapidly grows stronger and smarter, I want to wish all of my friends, supporters, enemies, haters, and even the very dishonest Fake News Media, a Happy and Healthy New Year. 2018 will be a great year for America!

December 31, 2017

What Are the Best Ways to Build Candor on a Small Team?

What are the best ways to build candor on a small team? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Mills Baker, Product Design Manager, on Quora:

A first point: nothing you do will be effective unless everyone agrees that candor is valuable, that its benefits are worth its costs. After all, for every improvement to e.g. information transparency or coordination or hypothesis preservation, there is a potential cost to individual personalities, emotional and creative safety, and so on; and these costs are real even when subtle. As such, it's worth having explicit reasons for pursuing candor both to persuade people to work on it at all and to have a framework for thinking about its benefits and costs in an aligned, collective way.

I won't provide any arguments for (or against) candor here, as they'd not be strictly germane to this question and the issues involved are sufficiently complex as to merit their own discussion. But for what it's worth: I'm personally sensitive to candor's costs, and I'm ambivalent about the fetishist notions of candor popular in some circles. I do think correctly understood and practiced, candor is immensely positive, but I dislike that caricatural kind of candor that seems to mostly appeal to already-expressive personalities and cliques, the variety that encourages jerks, domineering tyrants, and so on. It's also vital to respect genuine differences of personality, taste, culture, and etiquette; for every person that is thrilled to "speak their mind", there are others who can feel crowded out, ignored, bullied, or disadvantaged in various ways by such a mandate.

All that said, assuming you have an explanatory framework justifying candor and want to respectfully build it on your team, the next point to remember is that teams are made of individuals, and from an individual's point of view, "candor" can mean two things:

  • The individual is candid with others; and/or
  • Others are candid with the individual.

One of these is a more naturally palatable experience than the other! Indeed, the only reason why we're not all naturally candid at all times with others is that we (accurately) predictively model their reactions: they will not like it, and they'll then be candid --or worse!-- with us.

As such, building candor is often more about demonstrating how to accept candor than it is about showing how to be candid. Leaders can do this by encouraging reports to be candid and demonstrating how they themselves accept such candor, even if they disagree or feel bad about it, sharing the tools they use to do so (for example, something as simple as "I try to wait one day to respond to challenging feedback" can be tactically useful for people to consider doing).

The hardest part of candid exchanges is avoiding reaction and remaining calmly open; the reason this is hard is because we're conditioned to react to the treatment of our utterances, ideas, and criticisms as treatment of ourselves. But if you accept that people are not their utterances or ideas --that these change over time; that these all come from elsewhere and wind up elsewhere; that your team's work is more like the scientific process than some "test" where the "good people" are separated from the "bad people"; that good information and ideas and perspectives can come from anywhere; and so on-- it gets much easier. Note that these are abnormal concepts for a work environment, and in many team contexts talking about "what the self is" will seem bizarre. But if we want people to change their ingrained, socialized norms, it may be necessary to challenge the bases for some of those norms.

All that said: if you can establish a baseline expectation that everyone ought to be able to accept candid feedback and direct communication --an expectation you hold yourself to to an even higher degree, one you meet even when it's painful for you-- you can then move on to encouraging increasingly candid feedback.

So to sum:

  • Show that you can and do take candid feedback and direct communication, remaining focused on how it can help improve your work and the product even when it's discomfiting.
  • Encourage everyone to trust that the team is committed to accepting candor, and therefore to be more candid (when it's useful).
  • Be mindful of the need to show the benefits to the team; keep an eye out for instances in which candor leads to improved outcomes or processes or skills.

Note that improving one's capacity for candor may have long-term benefits that you cannot point to immediately for members of the team. You can also emphasize those. Being able to clearly and directly communicate useful information no matter the emotional tenor of the situation is obviously a great skill to have, and one you'll need in leadership and which is helpful in life generally, so it's to everyone's benefit to work on it.

This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

Is Bitcoin a Good Investment Heading Into 2018?

Should I invest in Bitcoin? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Auren Hoffman, SafeGraph CEO, on Quora:

There are two questions one should think through.

1. Will Bitcoin become a long-term trusted store of value?

Whether one should invest in bitcoin or not depends on whether you think Bitcoin will become a long-term trusted store of value.

If it does become a long-term trusted store of value, BTC should trade around $2,000,000 a coin (depending on how many coins are lost and are actually in circulation). That is over 100x the price of where BTC is today.

If BTC does not become a long-term trusted store of value, its likely price will be close to zero (unless it becomes a "cool" collectible... which is a possibility).

So if you think BTC has a 10% chance of becoming a long-term trusted store of value, it is a good investment with a nice expected return. It is still very risky but professional investors should invest some small portion of their portfolio in this case.

If you think BTC has a 1% chance of becoming a long-term trusted store of value, you should not invest.

If you think BTC has a 0.001% chance of becoming a long-term trusted store of value, you might consider a short.

2. Bitcoin is a religion... how good are the evangelists?

Like all stores of value and collectibles, Bitcoin is a religion. It is like gold or a Rembrandt painting... it has no cash flows so its value is only what others think it should be.

And like all religions, Bitcoin has evangelists and early disciples.

Bitcoin has a few things going for it in this regard:

1. The savior, Satoshi Nakamoto, is unknown and potentially not alive anymore. So we can only attribute wonderful things to Satoshi and cannot see her/his faults. If Satoshi Nakamoto eventually becomes known, it will make it harder for Bitcoin to become a true religion and this harder to become a long-term store of value.

2. Early bitcoin disciples and enthusiasts are super smart, great at marketing, and mostly were already very wealthy before bitcoin. There are about 1000 people that were very early public Bitcoin backers... at least 50 of whom were already worth over $100 million before they got into Bitcoin (and a few were billionaires). These people are incredible connected, smart, media savvy, good at PR, and tapped into the world of finance (some run large financial institutions). They are "rebels" in a sense but they are also very much part of the establishment. They have the ability to help get Bitcoin to go mainstream.

Should you invest in Bitcoin?

I'm not going to give advice on that. In even the best-case scenario, Bitcoin is incredibly risky... so if you do invest, you should go in expecting to lose all of it.

This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

Why Digital Marketing Is Crucial to Your Business’s Success

What are the pros and cons to a career in digital marketing? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Mario Peshev, CEO of DevriX and SME Digital Consultant, on Quora:

Digital marketing is a fairly new field which aims to improve the digital presence of a business and support the brand across different digital outlets (also transferring to the offline world).

Professional marketing teams engage in different activities in the digital landscape, including:

  • Content (blog posts, articles, whitepapers, research studies, ebooks, sales page copy, email newsletters, social media campaigns, SEO).
  • Creative (engaging photos and featured images for content, infographics, charts, photos, video).
  • Stats (analytics, KPIs, goals and targets, conversion funnels, customer LTV).

Large enterprises excel at building outstanding marketing campaigns that combine the inbound marketing landscape with advertisement, on-site presence at events (as sponsors, speakers, volunteers), PR and other outbound campaigns.

One of my favorite resources covering the entire scope of marketing in large organizations is Chief Marketing Officers at Work by Josh Steimle. The book contains 29 interviews with CMOs at some of the leading brands out there, including GE, Spotify, Target, The Home Depot and Harvard Business School.

Digital marketing can and should be employed in organizations of all sizes - from solopreneurs and freelancers through small and medium-sized businesses to large enterprises. The art of building corporate identity or even a personal brand depends on successful and creative marketing strategies online.

Millennials are the largest group of consumers online. They spend approximately 18 hours a day consuming media, part of the research conducted showed that they spend 223 minutes a day on mobile.

Generation Z is also joining the digital force now - with teenagers up to age twenty-two now using different channels such as Snapchat and Instagram for communication and forming opinions of the surrounding world.

Professional marketers can identify their target market and build a sensible strategy based on their product or service. This could be instrumental to any business striving for growth and establishing dominance among their competitors.

Moreover, an experienced digital marketer could be instrumental for any type of business. This allows flexibility for professional consultants supporting different organizations or launching their own products or professional services (being able to sell themselves).

The negative end of digital marketing is the lack of structure.

Everyone can freely offer marketing services nowadays. There are no formal certification courses or training programs that are adopted by the corporate world. Every teen can offer social media marketing services or content writing - without the right background or actual experience.

Most organizations also struggle with the actionable KPIs for their business. Simply growing the number of blog posts on your site or the number of followers won't have a direct impact on your sales or ad revenue.

For example, a traditional digital sale is usually formed through three factors:

  1. Traffic
  2. Conversion rates
  3. Cost

Increasing the traffic may seem like a natural way to grow the sales of a business. However, the equation is more complicated. Traffic that doesn't target the right audience at the right step of the buyer's journey won't lead to a sale and will decrease the conversion rates.

In fact, decreasing the traffic may increase the total revenue. Better targeted campaigns can double or triple the sales of a business, reduce the bounce rate per page, and increase the exposure in SERP rankings.

This complicated process requires a lot of research and experience with different campaigns conducted for other businesses. Since the number of experienced digital marketers is small overall, businesses end up hiring recent graduates or marketing assistants, relying on them for increasing the digital footprint of a business.

Or even worse, relying on a random agency online that offers marketing solutions without offering case studies showcasing their success stories.

So, the market is flooded by self-proclaimed influencers and rockstar digital marketers who often fail to deliver when they land a job.

All in all, digital marketing is crucial to every business. Most self-taught marketers don't have practical experience that allows them to provide professional services that make an impact for a business. Customers are also clueless, expecting results quickly at a low cost.

The lack of standardization or best practices online lead to a chaotic digital space with plenty of dissatisfied customers.

Fresh graduates interested in digital marketing can succeed by joining reputable organizations and learning from experienced marketers. Thoroughly reading about the marketing landscape is incredibly helpful as well.

Different businesses can benefit from different strategies (depending on their niche, target audience, and their competitors) and working with different businesses often helps testing various strategies and measuring the results of each campaign over time.

Just don't buy every single digital marketing ebook or course out there. Most of those are carefully designed to attract a large audience of people buying into false assumptions and fake stats.

This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

Avoid Being Seduced by this Common Mistake: How to Attack Your Way to Your Next Win

Most people respond to winning or success by taking their foot off the gas. The extremely successful respond to success by pushing even harder. Greatness comes from this attack mentality, and you can train yourself to develop it. 

The greats have learned to use success, rather than be seduced by it. The seduction of success refers to the tendency for people to be lured into less action when they experience success. It's the old phenomena of "it worked so well I stopped doing it." The best time to move to the next level is when you have the momentum of success in your favor. 

A professional golfer I worked with was a great demonstration of the attack mentality in the midst of continued success. This young man was quickly becoming a rising star on the PGA tour. He was relentless about getting his strict training regiment done daily, and he was consistently having "significant money finishes." Rather than laying low and taking it easy after he played well, he made a commitment to himself to train an extra 10 minutes per day the week following a tournament during which he made the cut. When I asked him about the impact of this extra practice, he said, "It's actually a little easier for me to do a little more when I'm winning. I'm not as tight, it's not as much of a grind. It definitely boosts my confidence."

I have found that when mentally tough people experience success, they determine the number one most important reason for the success, and then they attack just a little bit more on that one thing. When normal people start winning, they have a tendency to attack a little less. This is the number one difference between people who win occasionally and people who win consistently

The next time you find yourself nailing a presentation or bringing in great numbers for the month or having a win as a parent or spouse, ask yourself the following two questions:

  1. What is the number one thing I did that contributed to the win or success?
  2. How can I increase my effort toward that one thing by 10% during the next day?

It doesn't take much of a push to continue the momentum of the win. Just commit to an extra 10% for one day. Take the opportunity to allow momentum to work in your favor, rather than stopping it in its tracks. 

Most people wait to work harder until they are behind or losing. Think about how little sense this makes. When you are losing, you are already fighting an uphill battle. Remember, the best time to move to the next level is when you are winning. Identify a way to attack even harder after your next win. Do this and you will find that the wins will start to come faster and more consistently. Attack, always attack.

6 Tech Trends to Keep an Eye on in 2018

 2017 has been a volatile year--especially in the digital space. From hackings to bitcoins, we saw the full spectrum of disruptions and innovations over the past year.

With the approaching New Year, the volatility from 2017 will, no doubt, shape the tech trends we see in 2018. These trends have the potential to change how we live, work, and play in the future. The only trick is trying to determine which of these technologies will really take off.

As someone who lives and breathes digital each day, I'm constantly asked which tech trends are coming around the corner. Over course of 2018, you can bet that I'll be keeping a close eye on the following.  

Blockchain

This is a major trend you'll want to monitor. Closely. Never heard of blockchain before? Don't worry, you're not alone. According to the Harvard Business Review, blockchain is "an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way."

Basically, this tech keeps an immutable record of everything, so it's been the perfect platform for cryptocurrencies--and one of the reasons why digital currencies have survived for this long.

However, blockchain's uses don't stop at digital currencies. This tech is being integrated into other technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT), social media, and more. And the reason blockchain is such a great platform is that it makes things more secure and improves tracking. So, for example, using blockchain with IoT would result in a safer and more practical application when it comes to connecting your home or business to the internet.

Security

Cybersecurity will become a much bigger issue in 2018. Current safety measures for identity theft and identity protection need improvement--just look at all the hacks that occurred in 2017. The data that was stolen this past year will affect us in 2018, so you can bet legislators and companies will want to crack down on security. And any new security measures will absolutely affect business operations across industries.

Fintech

Stemming from the two points above, fintech will also continue to explode this year.

Digital currencies aside, we'll see a general and practical improvement in the way we send and receive payments in 2018. Companies like Venmo will make the payment process quicker and easier, and it will all be done via a smartphone.

American Express and other well-known "points program" companies will be making a push to make their "points" a type of currency. Case in point: You can now use your Hilton points to buy things on Amazon. Even Amex points are more widely accepted than ever and we're only in the early days with this new approach.

Augmented reality

Virtual reality (VR) made waves in 2014 when Facebook announced it was investing in the tech. Then in 2016, several different VR headsets hit the market. But the problem with VR is that the tech still requires a lot from the end user. You have to wear the clunky gear and have a high-speed, sophisticated computer to even run the software. Not to say that VR isn't mind-blowing--it is--but before this tech really takes off, I think it's more accessible cousin, augmented reality (AR), will take root first. And we can expect it to do so this year.

Why? Well, the simple answer is that AR doesn't require the same investment VR does. In fact--as we witnessed with the Pokemon Go craze--most consumers already have all the tech they need for AR with them at all times.

And because of its accessibility, we'll start to see AR show up more in the retail and shopping space in 2018. You'll be able to do things like walk into a dealership, hold up your smartphone to a car, and watch as it changes to the color of your choice on the screen.  

Artificial/Augmented Intelligence

Yes, AI has been around for quite some time, but this year we will continue to see this incredible tech get integrated into more everyday applications and tools. We're already seeing this in the way online ads recommend products or how Netflix presents you with movies it thinks you'll like. This tech will only continue to improve and impact our lives.

Net Neutrality

I know this is a hot-button issue, but it's one to definitely take note of in 2018--no matter which side of the debate you stand on. Regulating the Internet is something that will impact businesses around the world, so I encourage any entrepreneurial-minded person to read up on the latest legislation. Knowledge is power.

Final word

We're coming out of a very rocky year, but 2018 is filled with potential. For any company or entrepreneur who either wants to avoid disruption or shake up an entire industry, you'll need to keep a close eye on the latest tech trends. From there, simply determine which trend best aligns with your business and invest when it makes sense.