Attention Shoppers!

Yes you looking at the Ragu!

We have all be using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) for some time.  We started this journey with Garmins, Tom Tom’s and other devices specific to on dash installation.  They worked pretty well but you needed to continuously update the street files to get the most out of these devices.  Then the car companies started to install in dash navigation systems.  I do not know about you, but these interfaces always seemed complex and unusable to me.

Then of course, these capabilities became part of our smartphone applications.  We first had Google Maps, MapQuest, AmAze and of course Apple Maps (Much better now)  Then we were introduced to social GPS with Waze, but they were purchased fast by Google. All great apps and all free.  Are you spending any money on Garmins or Tom Tom’s anymore?  Not me 🙂 And of course our phones themselves have Location Based Services, so retailers and the like know where you are and can send you advertising and other content

Now we are moving this indoors with Apple’s iBeacon technology.  What is iBeacon?  It is an indoor positioning system; a network of devices used to wirelessly locate objects or people inside a building.  Apple has already rolled this technology out to their retail stores.  It uses Bluetooth technology, which by the way is of course enabled on all smart phones.  Now there is a coincidence 🙂 This technology will provide the retail store with your exact in-store location, enabling them to communicate directly in the moment of your purchase decisions.  Yowsa!

On Monday, iBeacons were introduced with supermarkets Safeway and Giant Eagle.  inMarket’s (The company providing the solution) iBeacon Mobile to Mortar platform sends out a variety of information to iPhone-owning store visitors, so long as they’ve opted in to use the service via one of its compatible apps, such as CheckPoints.  By enabling the service, shoppers can expect to receive notifications to their Apple handset such as discount coupons, loyalty rewards, and reminders about what to pick up.  The technology was previously introduced in Macy’s through a relationship with shopping application Shopkick.

We are no longer lost in the supermarket.  We know where you are, always.

Webman

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The Gift of Feedback

I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays.  Time to get back to work 🙂

As the new year begins, I am looking for your feedback to help guide the content for the blog in 2014.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

During the last month I have become a huge fan of Songza.  Check it out at http://www.songza.com.  The Music Concierge will guide your listening based on your mood, time of day and style that you are interested in.  If you have not used it, give it a try.  As a big fan of 80’s music, I stumbled across one of my favorite songs from that era, Images of Heaven by Peter Godwin.  Tried to buy it on iTunes but no luck.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Take a listen and enjoy 🙂

Happy New Year!  All the best in 2014.

Webman

Will the government raise your debt limit?

So let’s see how this one works.

Our government makes commitments to spend money it does not have.  Then it has to go out and borrow the money.  All of this spending has led to a boatload of debt; more like a cruise ship or a fleet of cruise ships.  Our national debt is now $16.7 trillion.  Interesting to note that in 2006, then-Senator Obama called a proposed increase in the debt ceiling at the time a “failure of leadership,” when Republican President George W. Bush was in office. The borrowing limit has since been increased seven times during Obama’s term in the White House, from $11.3 trillion to the current $16.7 trillion, for a net increase of $5.4 trillion.  That is a lot of zeroes and an awful lot of spending, don’t you think.

The U.S. has started using final extraordinary measures to avoid a breach of the nation’s debt limit, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said as he pressed Congress to increase borrowing authority “immediately.”  Lew, in a letter addressed to House Speaker John Boehner dated yesterday, repeated that the measures will be exhausted no later than Oct. 17.  When that happens, “we will be left to meet our country’s commitments at that time with only approximately $30 billion,” he said, “far short of net expenditures on certain days, which can be as high as $60 billion.”  So on some days we spend upwards of $60 billion.  That’s some big bucks.

I think the way it works for most of us is that we actually make a budget.  We calculate our monthly income, estimate our planned and unplanned expenses, what we want to save or invest and then we see what type of other discretionary income we have.  I am quite sure this is how the majority of those 800,000 furloughed government workers manage their budgets and also how many of you manage your budgets.  Oh that’s right, our government does not have a budget.  The last time that we had a full-on, real-life federal budget that was signed into law was 1997. Bill Clinton was president, and Newt Gingrich was speaker of the House.  By my calculations that was 16 years ago.  16 years, no budget.  We don’t need no stinking budget!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsdZKCh6RsU

No budget, no restraints on spending, government is shut down, government workers are not getting paid and the solution is to figure out a way to raise the debt ceiling so we can borrow more money.  And this resolution may or may not result in getting the government open again.  How it is that or leaders can continue to get away with this?

Meet with your wife, husband, domestic partner or significant other this weekend and ask them to just raise the debt ceiling on the family finances.  Tell them this is what the government does and they work for us.  If they can do it, we can do it.  Let’s see how far that conversation will get you.

Webman

Nice Face

Facial recognition software will end privacy once and for all.  Your face now provides marketers and the government with the ability to link that fabulous mug shot you put on Facebook to everything there is to know about you.  That’s right.  You thought you were just posting your smiley face for your friends to see?  Not exactly.

Queue the music:

The government has some restrictions with facial recognition software, but they are spending a ton of money to figure this out.  Retailers on the other hand have the ability to use your face to send you promotional offers – the linking between the on-line world and the off-line world.  Europe has tougher rules (You need to opt in there), but here in the US, the technology is way ahead of the law.  Even if you have never put your own picture up anywhere in the internet you can be found if you were included in any picture any one has ever taken of you.  So yes, Grandpa or Grandma who have refused to embrace anything digital and still read the paper in the morning, have been digitized and are therefore searchable.

A company called redpepper (www.redpepperland.com) has started a program called Facedeals.  Here is how it works.  Facial recognition cameras are installed at local businesses. These cameras recognize your face when you pass by, then check you in at the location. Simultaneously, your smartphone notifies you of a customized deal based on your Like history on Facebook.  Creepy?

Yes, there are companies out there today that are putting all the little fragments of your life together, both on-line and off-line to get to know you a little better.  They might know you, but you will never know them.  Minority Report is much closer than you might think.

Webman

“Sustainabell” Value

Over a cup of coffee on Sunday morning, I will occasionally watch the show, Sunday Morning on CBS.  The show has been on forever and is often filled with very interesting topics, opinions and perspectives. You can learn more about the show at http://www.cbsnews.com/sunday-morning/

Yesterdays show was focused on architecture, focusing on new designs that look old among other topics.  The story that captured my attention however was about bells.  Yes, church bells.  Talk about sustainabell value (see what I did there) 🙂

The Pontificia Fonderia Marinelli (or Marinelli Pontifical Foundry, Marinelli Bell Foundry) was founded in 1339 in the Apennine hills of Italy. The village of Agnone, where the foundry is located, “has a tradition of foundries that dates back 10 centuries.”  The current leaders of the family business are the brothers Armando and Pasquale Marinelli.  They are the 26th generation of Marinelli’s to lead the family business.

The foundry typically produces up to 50 bells a year and currently employs around 12 people.  The firm’s managers still apply the same lost wax casting technique that the firm’s founders used nearly a thousand years ago. The artisans use wax to transfer the bell’s designs onto a brick “core” slathered with clay, slightly smaller than the bell to be forged. Another layer of clay is applied to form a “false bell”. After this hardens, the wax inside is melted, leaving the imprint of the design on the inside of the false bell. Molten bronze, at a temperature of 1,200 degrees Celsius (2,200 degrees Fahrenheit), is poured into the space to form the bell.

Amazing, just amazing.  Everyday we read about businesses trying to build sustainable companies.  Looks like the Marinelli family has figured that out.  For more information about the foundry and the family, please visit their website at http://www.campanemarinelli.com/inglese/index2.php

Enjoy the day.

Webman

Think Better

As humans, we are challenged everyday to think.  To solve a problem or maybe “think outside the box”.  🙂  Some days we think great; on others we are looking for that little boost, that little something extra.  Sometimes we have a little more coffee, thinking that might help.  Or that afternoon chocolate hit maybe.  Might a little music might help?  Mozart, Beethoven, the Human League?

Well there are actually quite a few ways to stimulate your cognitive performance.  Did you know that there is a Human Cognitive Project (HCP)?  Researchers worldwide are collaborating (Neuroscientists, clinicians, teachers, and academics) to advance the field of neuroscience.  Did you know that there is a company called Luminosity (www.luminosity.com) that now has the world’s largest and fastest growing database on human cognition?  he database currently includes over 40,000,000 research subjects and over 780,000,000 cognitive game plays. Their scientists mine this data to uncover insights that help them improve the efficacy of the Lumosity cognitive training program.  And yes you can subscribe to their services.

Here are ten ways to improve your cognitive performance:

  1. Drink Coffee
  2. Drink Wine
  3. Sunlight
  4. Allow Your Mind to Wander
  5. Talk to Yourself to Find Things
  6. Dance
  7. Eat Better
  8. Play Tetris
  9. Exercise
  10. Starvation

Starvation, strange but true.  If you are cramming for that exam or have a big presentation, having your stomach growl a bit is a good thing. Scientists at Yale Medical School performed tests on mice and found that those who were hungry performed much better on cognitive tasks.

Are we mice or humans?

Original article can be found at http://listverse.com/2013/07/15/10-easy-ways-to-boost-your-cognitive-performance/

Start the day by thinking a little better 🙂

Webman

Space, The Final Frontier

This happened yesterday.

PayPal, the e-commerce business that allows for online money transfers anywhere in the world, announced the launch of PayPal Galactic on Thursday. Intended to make universal space payments a reality — and help Kirk pay for that warp drive tune up — PayPal Galactic plans to bring together leaders in the scientific community to prepare and support the future of space commerce.

‘We are confident that Captain Kirk would use PayPal’s galactic payment system to pay for Enterprise’s repairs.’- Anuj Nayar, the senior director of communications and social media of PayPal

In recent years, privately-owned space tourism programs such as Virgin Galactic and SpaceX have made strides in opening the experience of space exploration to the general public.  In the hopes of being the world’s first and preferred monetary system that reaches into space, the company has partnered with the SETI Institute and other members of the scientific community to answer questions about the future of space commerce.

The need for such a payment system already exists, according to PayPal. Astronauts living aboard space stations still need to pay for life’s basic necessities. No matter how far from — or above — home they are, the astronauts are still responsible for them.

As both SETI and PayPal share the same goals of exploring space and developing an interplanetary system, the company strongly feels that partnering with the sky-watching Institute will address the critical issues and make the payment system a reality.

On another galactic note, we had a super moon this week.  Check this picture out:

Supermoon

“To the Moon Alice.”

Enjoy the weekend.

Webman

Why Trust is Critical?

“The glue that holds all relationships together – including the relationship between leader and the led is trust, and trust is based on integrity.” – Brian Tracy

It is impossible to have effective and productive working relationships without trust. Trust is critical for every business and for every team.  Today, associates work in teams on a daily basis. They rely on each other to succeed, to meet the ever changing demands of their clients, to leverage each others expertise to solve business problems in real time.  Teamwork involves trust among team members and between management and associates.  Trust is the cornerstone of success.  Without it the team will fail.  When one member of the team undermines trust, it sets the entire team back on it’s heels.

So why is it that team members undermine trust by divulging confidential information?  Why is it that team members, after being told specifically that the conversation they just had was confidential, go running immediately to others to share the information?

Do they not care about the success of the team?  Do they place their own needs above the needs of the team?  Do they believe that there is an “I” in team?  Whatever the reason, the fact remains that this type of behavior negatively impacts the teams ability to win.  Plain and simple.

Webster’s Dictionary defines trust as the “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.” The key to the survival of a business is trust. Trust is a critical issue in any type of relationship because a relationship without trust is not really a relationship at all.  A team that does not build a trusting relationship is not an effective team. Trust forms the foundation for effective communication, associate retention, motivation, and instills passion and commitment to exceed client expectations.

Trust, honesty, clear goals and collaboration are the keys to success on any team.  Everyone on the team plays a critical role, but these key elements are the foundation that needs to be built upon.  Team building is not always the easiest task to accomplish, but without it there is no Team, only “I’s.”

Webman

Instant Karma

A favorite song by the Plastic Ono Band, aka John Lennon and friends.

But now we have “Karma” technology, as in “peer to peer” wireless.  Cool huh!

When you switch on your tablet or laptop and the wireless Internet access you need is just there. Automatically, everywhere, every time.  Viola!

No more searching for hotspots. You’ll just get to browsing, and the days when passwords or daily- or monthly-pass payments stood in the way of productivity are no more.  So just as the song states “Instant Karma.”

Karma-Hotspot-3

Here is how it works.  Users buy a compact $79 hotspot device (the first units shipped last January) and they create an account. Switch on the hotspot and you get 1 GB of bandwidth to get you started. After that, it’s $14 per GB — no subscriptions, pay-as-you-want-it. And the access is mobile. Walk down the street with your Karma hotspot and your access goes with you.

Your Karma Wi-Fi signal is available to other people within range who are seeking a Wi-Fi connection. All they have to do is log on via your hotspot and sign up with the company. They would get a free 100 MB, and for more, they can pay as they go. Cool thing is, you would get 100 MB free as well.

That’s an underlying idea worth noting. The more you share, the more free bandwidth you accumulate. Peer-to-peer wi-fi, the next big thing?

Enjoy the day.

Webman

Toxic Leadership

We have focused on leadership and the key attributes of great leaders so far this week.  Today we will look at the worst type of leader and raise your awareness to the behaviors of insecure leaders.

For many of us that have been in the workforce for a few years, we have experienced many different types of leaders.  There are those that are inspirational, motivating, thoughtful, mentors and unafraid to build great teams with people that are more skilled then them in many areas.  Then there are leaders that do not belong in a position of leadership – Insecure leaders.

Insecure leaders are dangers. Dictionary.com shows the reason why these leaders can be dangerous. Insecurity is defined as being, “subject to fear & doubt, anxious, a risk & danger, and not firmly or reliably placed.” When insecurity is present in a leaders life it becomes a cap to their influence and effectiveness. It hurts the people around them, and the organization.

Insecure leaders are highly threatened by the truth, by facts, by transparency and by honesty.  In order to protect their lofty, undeserved positions of power, they campaign against talented people that pose a threat to their positions.  They lie, they commit to tasks that they never deliver upon, they mislead co-workers, they fail to communicate, they miss deadlines, they undermine all positive things and worst of all, they are toxic to the companies they work for, creating environments of distrust and ineffectiveness.  They make excuses about every deadline they miss or every project they fail to do because they say “I was too  busy”, “I have too many other things to do”, “I did not understand the process”, or “I don’t care about the process, I just needed to get something done”.  Of course, all that means is that the people that know how to get it done right will now have to fix it, wasting much more time and creating both employee and client dissatisfaction.

Insecure leaders like to distract employees and business partners by focusing on tasks that are not important or do not create customer or employee benefit/value.  They want to find that one nugget of information that substantiates their beliefs so they can use it to their advantage and create a hostile environment.  This is how they maintain control.  This “rope a dope” technique of focusing people on unimportant, irrelevant topics is part of their modus operandi to distract their co-workers from focusing on their leadership and managerial inadequacies.  They are the masters of publicly agreeing to key strategies in meetings with their bosses, only to undermine these decisions in conversations with their subordinates.  You might hear a statement like, “Although this was the agreed to decision, it will never work”, or “This is what I committed to, but let’s do it this way.” Have you heard any of these before?

A leader who is insecure cannot successfully lead those around them. This is because their actions, attitude, and motives are controlled and driven by their personal insecurity. Below are some negative characteristics and unhealthy aspects of an insecure leader:

  • They control people, systems, polices, and are micro managers.
  • They avoid partnering or hiring smart, talented, and people better then themselves.
  • They create an insecure work environment.
  • They avoid moving outside of their comfort zone.
  • They resist personal, organizational, or team growth or change.
  • They avoid calculated risks because of the fear of failure.
  • They don’t encourage or empower their people.
  • They guard against building open and strong relationships.
  • They see others through their insecurity.

Great leaders and great companies identify this type of leader immediately and take action.  The behaviors are painfully obvious.  Great companies rid themselves of these insecure leaders and more importantly, stop hiring people with these traits.  Great leaders do not listen to these insecure leaders, they do not fall for their unhealthy charm or their “opinions” of other co-workers that are threatening to their existence.  Insecure leaders do not care about the company or their co-workers.  They only care about themselves, their careers and feeding their egos at the expense of others.

No person or leader, however good they might be, is exempt from potentially becoming or being insecure. This is why it’s essential to be able to identify and eliminate insecurity from our life. To do this I suggest:

Lead yourself – The most important person you can lead is yourself.  An important aspect to leading is to become self aware. This mean you are aware and comfortable with your strengths, weaknesses, personality, temperament, and emotions. You know you have been uniquely made and you accept it. A powerful way to avoid insecurity is to be aware and have control of your inwards thoughts and dialog.

Develop trusted relationships- The people in your inner circle will either lead you forward or hold you back. This is why it’s essential to build friendships with secure, positive, and confident people. When you have trusted relationships, those people can help you spot areas you need to change (Insecurity is one area) and be a support for you.

Do you know any leaders like this?  If you do, call your CEO now and tell them.

Webman