Wednesday 31 December 2014

decision making cartoon


Decision making for entrepreneurs/business owners can be difficult, time consuming, arduous, fractious and distracting.  This article discusses a method for clarifying decisions and streamlining decision making.
There are four parties to every business decision:
- The facilitator
- The approver
- The contributors
- The informed parties
1. The facilitator – this person pushes everything, keeps the schedule, facilitates meetings, and makes sure the lines of communication stay open. There can only be one of these at a time.
2. The approver – There is only one of these for any decision. This is the final authority for the decision, they have the responsibility for the delivery of the business outcome of the decision. In some very rare cases you can have more than one approver, this requires a high degree of trust between the approvers and they need to have a single vision of the desired outcome. The approver needs to be designated pre-decision.
3. The Contributors – These are the individuals that execute the decision. The contributors have the technical expertise to provide input to the decision. It is very important to understand that the contributors do not need to agree with the decision, however, after the decision is made the facilitator and the contributors must support the decision. There should be 5 or less contributors.
4. The informed parties – The fourth group are those that are informed of the decision. They have no vote and no say. The facilitator is responsible for communicating the decision and the business outcome of the decision to those affected by the decision.
It is also important to understand that this process can also be used to drive efforts to produce business outcomes, not just decisions. with the contributors being the architects of the design, the facilitator keeping the schedule and coordinating actions among the contributors and informed (often implementers), the approver having the final say over the outcome quality.
Paying careful attention to the make-up of the decision team will greatly influence the quality and speed of the decision. Good teams produce good decisions… consistently!



We’re always negotiating whether we realize it or not.   It’s a part of our daily lives with our family, friends, colleagues and customers, yet we can always learn to do a better job at it.
These are 5 simple rules to help make the transaction more pleasant for you and whomever you are negotiating with.

1.     Always Ask
You not only ask for what you need, but what you want.  If you don’t ask for what you want, you may never get it.  This applies to both those making the offers as well as those receiving them.  So many of us miss out on opportunities by simply forgetting this simple rule.
2.     Know What You Want
This also entails what you don’t want, but you have to know what it is that you are after.  Having a clear understanding of what your desired outcome is will help you as you go through the negotiating process.  There could be several outcomes, therefore you need to decide on your priority interests and rank them as it is important to remember to trade items of less importance in order to secure items of more importance.
3.     Prepare For Your Negotiation
You need to be prepared before you start negotiating, therefore you need to research and gather information to help guide you through the several outcomes that could arise.  Having the knowledge and knowing how to act in the moment will give you an edge as you start to negotiate.  Lack of planning often appears at the negotiating table as too much reliance on demands and being reactive.  Good planning, on the other hand, can provide you with the direction needed to effective problem solving at the negotiating table.
4.     Know Who You Are Negotiating With
Aside from gathering information on what you want your end result to be, we often forget to find out about who we are negotiating with.  Through your network of help, ask colleagues or business partners if they know the person you will be negotiating with and what advice they have for you.  It’s usually a mistake to approach negotiation as a casual encounter without much forethought.
5.     It Should Be An Ongoing Relationship
In sales, those who are successful are the ones whose offers are accepted.  Sounds simple, but in order to do this, you must build relationships with your customers.  As you negotiate your offers with your customers, it is important to not only focus on the tactical issues but also the longer-term strategic concerns to ensure an ongoing relationship.  In order to develop these ongoing relationships, an atmosphere of trust needs to be established so that even when the negotiations are settled, both sides feel like their concerns were taken care of and not taken advantage of.


If it’s time to move things to the next level with your new partner, but you’re nervous about how to let him/her know, there are some simple steps to break the ice…. without seeming too forward.

First, it’s helpful to figure out what type of intimacy you want more of: experiential or sexual.

Experiential intimacy is when a couple is actively involved in doing something they enjoy doing together—whether it’s dancing, hiking, cooking, painting, or gardening,” says Dr. Ava Cadell, a world renowned love guru, author and president of The American College of Sexologists International. “In these instances, they are interacting mentally, physically, and emotionally.”

For some women, this is all it takes to maintain a fulfilling relationship early in the game. Other women, however, crave physical stimulation.

Sexual intimacy is a slow burning passion that can include a variety of activities, such as caressing, kissing, massaging, oral pleasure, or sexual positions while eye-gazing with one hand on each other’s heart,” explains Dr. Cadell, who also founded Loveology University, an online resource for sensual knowledge. “This is a synchronized energetic exchange that results in deeper intimacy with a heart and soul connection.”

So if you’re hoping to steam things up in the bedroom, but aren’t sure how to make that happen naturally, here are 6 tips that relationship coach and author of Celebrating Single and Getting Love Right: From Stalemate to Soulmate, L. Joan Allen, came up with to help you initiate a passionate night.

1. Make fleeting physical contact with him. For example, brush his hair back away from his face.

2. Engage in flirtatious banter that leads the conversation in an intimate direction.

 3. Make a bold request, like “Shut up and kiss me!”

 4. Wear something that bares a little more skin than usual, such as a sexy, low cut dress.

5. Serve foods and drinks that are known to be aphrodisiacs, such as oysters, chocolate and red wine. Then light a few candles to set the mood.

 6. Give him a little gift that shows you’re into him. If you’re not sure what to buy, try giving him cologne and then tell him, “I can’t wait to find out what this smells like on you!” Or, you could buy him a tie. After he opens it, draw him close as you slowly tie it around his neck and then pull him in for a passionate kiss. Keep it to use in the bedroom later!

7. If you’re a woman who has trouble showing emotion, talk to your partner over a cup of coffee in a place where you can be alone. Tell him “I’m feeling close to you. Are you ready to take the relationship to the next level?,” suggests Allen. With any luck, his answer will be yes!


Sex. You’re doing it wrong. At least that’s what some women are dying to tell their partners. Even the most experienced of men may make a mistake or two in the bedroom from time to time and some end up fumbling more times than their favorite football team.
So what are the top four mistakes men make in bed?

We asked relationship expert Stacey Nelkin, founder of

“Most women complain that men don’t listen and it translates into the bedroom as well,” says Nelkin. “Perhaps it stems from the male ego, which tells them, ‘I know it already’ or ‘I know it better than she does.'”

Next on her list? “Not warming up the engine properly before putting the foot on the accelerator,” says Nelkin.

In other words – foreplay, foreplay, foreplay! “Insufficient foreplay can undermine the entire act of sex,” she Ways says. “We women need it more than you guys do!”

“Men can be lazy or forget that although they may actually like smells, most women don’t want their men to smell anything but clean and fresh,” says Nelkin. “Shaving and waxing help, too. (Ouch!)”

“Use your voice,” suggests Nelkin. ” Barry White got laid more than a good Persian rug and we women can get very turned on by a sexy voice in bed–especially if it can tell us what it’s going to do.”

So what do you do if your man’s got it all wrong? Well, remember laying it on the line can be deflating–in more ways than one. “You can NEVER tell a man that he’s doing it wrong,” Nelkin warns. “You need to tell him how you like it and how good it feels when he [fill in the blank]. Give him positive feedback and he’ll learn quickly what you like and don’t like.”

Remember, Nelkin adds, we’re all at our most vulnerable when we’re naked. “Men have a LOT of ego invested in their ability to be a good lover,” she says. “They need to hear from us that they are good enough – and yes, big enough, too!”


It may be the secret to experiencing phenomenal sex… and the key to having an even better emotional connection with your partner. “Slow Sex,” an offshoot of the slow food movement, seems to go against the grain of our cultural bias. We tend to place a premium on doing everything faster.

Yet going “slow” can be very satisfying– especially for women.

Women take an average of ten to twenty minutes to become aroused enough to climax, depending on the method and the individual woman, according to Dr. Debbie Herbenick, PhD. This can be a problem when you’ve been with the same person for more than just a while. The hormones that made a “quickie” hot when you started dating disappear over time, leaving many women unfulfilled.

Because we tend to view sex as a performance based activity, it creates a lot of pressure to “perform according to the norm.” This has two outcomes: it makes men worry that they’ll finish too soon, and it makes women insecure about taking too long. I believe there’s a different approach to sex that not only takes the pressure off of everyone and dramatically increases everybody’s pleasure, but actually has the potential to change the way we live our lives outside the bedroom as well.

I suggest an approach to sex that makes a deeper intimate connection, rather than orgasm, the main point of a sexual encounter. This approach is rooted in Tantric philosophy, where the focus is on finding the Divine in everything, including sex. At the very least, using these tips will give you a chance to get better acquainted with how your body responds to sensual stimuli and will increase your emotional connection with your partner.

1. Start by putting aside 10 minutes to gaze into each other’s eyes. This isn’t a staring contest; the goal is to bring you closer. Sit comfortably facing each other and gaze into your partner’s non-dominant eye. Most of us a right handed, so you’d gaze into his left eye. It’s ok to blink, and you can even try a smile. Don’t be surprised if this is a little challenging at first; we’re not used to gazing deeply into another’s eyes.

2. Breathe together. As you get more comfortable gazing into each other’s eyes, add your breath. Just let your own breath come naturally, in and out through your nose if you can. Your partner will adjust his breath to match yours. You can place your hand on his heart, and he can have his hand on your heart, if you’re having trouble synchronizing your breath.

3. Have some cuddle time. Dedicate at least thirty minutes to snuggling and cuddling with your clothes on. You can kiss, but don’t go past “second base.” Don’t be discouraged if you don’t make it the full thirty minutes! If your partner gets impatient, lighten things up with humor.

4. Next, bring out the massage oil and take turns giving each other a back rub. Use long, slow strokes with moderate pressure and don’t go below the waist. After at least five minutes, you can rub your chest along his back.

5. Learn How to OM: Last, but not least, consider learning how to “OM.” Author Nicole Daedone teaches the practice of OM, or orgasmic meditation. In Daedone’s new book, Slow Sex: The Art and Craft of the Female Orgasm she explains the practice– which combines the tradition of extended orgasm with Zen Buddhism, mystical Judaism and semantics.

According to Daedone, “OM is a practice of being fully present in the moment. Its a practice that strips away the thoughts of what should be, and engages you in what actually is. By putting your full attention on the point of contact between the two of you, everything else drops away except the sensation in the connection.

Truth is the greatest turn on; the truth of sensation and desire. There is no room here for judgements or resentments, there is just the two of you remembering you are intimately connected.”

Each of these tips can stand alone. You may breathe together, then skip the cuddle time. Or you may decide to stop after cuddling. You might decide to incorporate breathing together into your daily routine. Remember, the idea is to increase intimacy, and intimacy has two sides: erotic and emotional.

Both are important to long term happiness in a relationship. Just remember to take it slow.



We over at Your Straight Male Friends never claim to be relationship experts. But we are dudeexperts. We’ve got you covered there.

I have an inbox full of emails from ladies trying to understand the men in their lives. As I recently sifted through them, I noticed one particular question over and over again: Why do guys seems to vanish after a few dates? Well ladies– sometimes it IS something that you are doing or saying that makes a man want to run for the hills.

Here are some potential early-in-the-relationship dating fumbles that set an alarm off for most guys. Stop yourself before you make one of these mistakes with a man you just started dating.
Ex-boyfriends will come up. And from my perspective, exes should come up. I’ve always found that knowing a little bit about the ex and why that relationship didn’t work out is healthy and informative. You can learn a lot about a person by listening to how they talk about their former partner. But when that “talk” makes it obvious that you are still carrying a torch for your ex-boyfriend– or worse, you show symptoms of stalker-like aggressiveness, you won’t be getting a call back. What you should be getting is therapy.


Sure, it’s perfectly reasonable to want kids. But no guy wants to be sized up for fatherhood at the outset of the courtship. There’s a hint of desperation in bringing up the topic too early. Even if you’re THINKING about babies, keep it to yourself. Let me be totally honest here. Those first few weeks of a new relationship, men are thinking about two things: “Do I like and respect this woman enough to pursue a long-term relationship… and when are we going to have sex?”


Parental introductions are a major step. Nothing puts the exclamation point on the statement, “We’re a couple!” quite like meeting mom and dad. And most dudes are not down for that with just a few dates logged in. Don’t push– it comes off as desperate and manipulative, especially within the first few weeks of dating.


Some people can’t help themselves. They just have to manage every situation. That behavior repels guys, in particular. Don’t try to dress him, don’t try tell him what to eat, don’t try to get him to exercise… or to get a job. You started going out with him in whatever state he was in, accept him or move on. Don’t fall into the typical trap, “He’d be perfect if I could just get him to change….”


You’re not a couple until you’re a couple! Four dates in and you’re changing your Facebook relationship status? That sound you hear is the screeching rubber and a sonic boom as that guy cracks the sound barrier trying to get away from you. Have “the talk” about where the relationship stands at some point, but give yourself and him the time and space to enjoy the launch of this blossoming romance. It’ll all happen in time. Or it won’t.


This is a delicate subject, so tread lightly. This conversation can be uncomfortable to most long-term partners, imagine how odd it is to the new guy to be getting grilled about his sexual history after just a few dates. It’s an absolute requirement to have this talk at some point, but it’s got to be handled delicately. And whatever you do, unless he’s asking or is turned on by the info, do not offer up the intimate details of your sexual exploits… the dude does not want to hear it. And he’ll make sure he won’t by not dialing your digits again. Ever.
culled from:


In this day and age, we wouldn't be surprised if you considered your phone an integral part of your love life. After all, it can line up dates for you with the swipe of a finger or make it easy to broadcast to the world that you're in love, with the help of emojis and kissing selfies.
But just because your phone is third-wheeling your love life doesn't mean it's helping it—it actually might be the exact opposite. In a new study out of Brigham Young University, researchers asked 143 married women about their use of technology…and their responses highlighted just how harmful so-called "technoference" can be to relationships. A whopping 70 percent of respondents said using a cell phone interrupted their interactions with partners—and these couples also fought more frequently.
If that sounds familiar, you're definitely not alone. Here are just a few times your phone was a major c**k block—A.K.A. all the times you should unplug.
1. When you left it on the nightstand in the middle of getting frisky and your grandma called. Because there's nothing quite as scarring as looking over mid-thrust and seeing grandma's smiling face on the incoming call.

2. When you refused to turn it off during a date and got distracted by an onslaught of work e-mails. You're lying to yourself if you think you won't eventually respond to your boss's note.  
3. When you decided it was important to broadcast romantic moments on social media. While they were happening. "You're proposing? Wait, stay down on your knee. I must Instagram this."

4. When you checked your phone during a fight. Yeah, because that'll help resolve the issue.

5. When you texted about important issues instead of talking about them. Whether it's romantic declarations or arguments, believe us, texting is not the right platform to get serious.

6. When Kim Kardashian: Hollywood took over your brain. We know, we know. You want to rise to A-List status—but, you know, real-life relationships are more important.

7. When you got a little overzealous about stalking him on social media. Nothing ruins a relationship like obsessing over the girl who keeps liking his prof pics.
 8. When you decided to text to look cool at the bar. Unless you want to put a big 'DO NOT APPROACH' sign over your head. Otherwise, you're not doing your love life any favors. 


To be honest, I’m breathing a sigh of relief that summer is in the rear view mirror. While I love the easy-breezy feel and long days, I’d get pangs of anxiety about having to reveal my vampire white, tree trunk-type legs and ‘bat wings’ because of my skimpier wardrobe. Now that fall is here, I can better hide my imperfections under my curvy bootcut jeans and sweaters and not feel so painstakingly self-conscious.

None of my friends would actually know that I worry about this, and truth be told I’d be kind of embarrassed to tell them. Objectively speaking, I probably come across as a relatively confident person who doesn’t seem super-concerned about my appearance (e.g. I’m usually dressed casually without a lot of makeup and my hair thrown up in a bun). And I don’t discuss weight that often, because I don’t like to showcase my insecurities and flaws, but WOW do I secretly get down in the dumps about the way my body looks and feels sometimes.

In the grand scheme of things I know that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a size 2 or 20 as long as you’re healthy, but sometimes I wish that my body type was different. Whenever I see a woman with a long, lean body I get sort of envious about how great she looks in EVERYTHING, and annoyed that I’m naturally kind of short and stocky. There’s only so much you can change with diet and exercise.

Then I snap back to reality, scoff at my vanity and think about the ‘big picture’ of how lucky I am to be healthy. Yet despite this outlook, I still find myself muttering horrible things to myself about my appearance in the mirror.

8 Ways to Love Your Body Right Now
Me and my daughter Anna

I didn’t quite realize how self-critical I was being until my 5-year-old daughter started repeating my comments aloud (and in front of my husband no less!). I was horrified, not just because of the bad example I’ve been setting for my daughter, but because she’ll realize what a hypocrite I am. Since birth, I’ve been telling her how perfect she is and how she should love herself, while I’m busy tossing clothes around my bedroom screaming, “I’m too fat to wear this!”

Do you know just how damaging consistent negative self-talk is to your health? Simply seeing and saying negative words stimulates the release of destructive stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters, according to Mark Waldman and Andrew Newberg, M.D. authors of Words Can Change Your Brain. These neuro-chemicals immediately interrupt the normal functioning of your brain, impairing logic, reason, language processing and communication.

And the more you focus on these negative words and phrases, the more you can damage key structures that regulate your memory, feelings and emotions. You’ll also disrupt your sleep, your appetite and ability to experience long-term happiness and satisfaction.
Recently, a Tumblr blog went viral that was a reminder to love and embrace your body, no matter what size you are, as long as you’re healthy. Brittany Miles battled and overcame an eating disorder, and her path to self acceptance and perspective on weight is refreshing. In celebration of her positive attitude about body image, I spoke with Maria Bucaro, author of Love Your Body Now! Lose The Weight of Self-Hate Gain the Yummy-ness of Goddess-ness about 8 key steps you can take toward appreciating and respecting your body RIGHT NOW.

1. Stop talking about dieting, getting “stuff” done to your body and all around complaining about how you don’t like what you see in the mirror. Stop thinking about it, stop talking about it with other people and especially stop talking about it with yourself.  “Talking about what you don’t want just keeps getting you more of what you don’t want,” explains Bucaro. “Start talking about what you like about your body, what makes you feel good and ask a friend how you can support each other in feeling good.” Focus on what you do want and you’ll get more of that in your life. Bucaro just completed 100 days of celebrating loving her body along with some other women. She also has a Facebook group where you can get inspired and support each other in body image issues.

2.  Assume responsibility for everything that is going on in your reality right now. When you do, then you have the power to alter your reality by changing your thoughts. No one’s opinion matters. Only your opinion matters, which means you get to decide what is beautiful. You get to choose how you see yourself. “If you want to see yourself as beautiful, then consciously begin to see yourself as you want to be,” advises Bucaro. “Begin creating the beauty you truly want by holding the intention of beauty, knowing that you are beautiful right now.”

8 ways to love your body right now3.  Be kind to yourself and your body. Treat yourself like you would treat your best friend. It is not about punishing yourself with physical exercise for the sake of losing weight. It is not about lifting weights and suffering. There is nothing wrong with lifting weights or going out for a run, if you’re happy to do it. It’s about what feels good and is joyful. Your body is craving movement, not punishment. Your body is craving love, not battle. Treat your body well. Explore what you love to do. For example, Bucaro loves to swim, ride her bike and take nature walks. Think about what turns you on and lights you up…and go do it.

4. Listen to your body. It knows what it wants. “Sometimes in order to hear my body, I need to ask it a question,” says Bucaro. “The question can be, ‘What do I want to eat? Do I want another glass of wine? What kind of movement do I want to do today?’ “This really works and it might take a little time to hear what the body is saying, mostly because that little voice that we all have is trying to override what the body is really saying. Be still and listen.”
5. Physically love your body. Your body is filled with pleasure centers. We often focus on the pain, or what is feeling unpleasant. “Begin to focus on what feels good and your body will respond,” suggests Bucaro. Rub your eyes, stroke your hands, caress your belly (yes, even the rolls!) or whatever feels good for you. At the same time, talk to your body, expressing gratitude for all that it does for you.

6. Before you get out of bed in the morning, choose one thing each day that you love about your body. Is it your eyes? Your shoulders? Your hips? Your lips? What do you love about your body? Love it right now. “Exaggerate how much you love it – go on, no one is watching ( and if they are, who cares!),” says Bucaro. “Throughout the day, think about the part that you love, and when you use that part and appreciate it, do the happy dance!”

7. Jiggle the jiggle or whatever you find disturbing about your body. Have fun with your body and love it. In other words, lighten up! “This is something we do in the Love Your Body Now workshops and it’s amazing how powerful this is,” explains Bucaro. Put some music on, and look at what you don’t like. Now turn it around and make it your friend. Big nose? Wrinkles? Fat? Weird toes? Dance with it, laugh with it and have fun. It’s the only body you’ve got, so enjoy it and be kind! “If you want to take it to the next level, do it with a friend,” suggests Bucaro. “BUT make sure it’s a loving and supportive friend who understands what you’re doing.”

8. Gratitude. Think about all of the things that your body is doing right now, without you even having to think about it. Blood is being pumped and oxygenated, waste is being taken care of, food is being digested, breathing in and out with out stopping, even when you’re asleep (and so much more!). “Arms hug, legs carry you to loved ones, lips kiss and smiles can change a life,” Bucaro reminds us. “Heart opens, hands hold and caress and comfort, eyes look into your loved ones soul. Ears hear the music of your baby’s giggle and the music of a symphony. You’re a part of that symphony of life. Express gratitude for yourself, your life (whatever it may look like), and for those around you.”
culled from:
What is it about a fresh start that brings out the extremes in us? Whether a new year, a new job or hobby, even a new home.

We start with great intentions and enthusiasm for our adventure. We are all plans and lists and throw ourselves into it with excitement. We tell ourselves ‘I will start as I mean to continue’. A diet which starts with ‘I will stick to this for a month’ becomes a diet of exceptions… ‘well, I’ll have to drink for Sarah’s hen night and the wedding is the end of the month’ and then there is a friend’s birthday dinner and a family BBQ…. Why not check your diary at the beginning and be realistic?

Play the 80-20 rule. If I stick to my plan 80% of the time I will achieve my goal. Life happens…plan for it and accept you can’t put things on hold.

We often focus on the fun elements or the visible parts. Like I have a friend who was so excited to move into her first home…. She had dedicated hours to decisions on the décor; cushion covers, tiles, sofa…. she got so carried away she forgot to get insurance or re-direct her post.

As a result all the admin hit at once and she was miserable for a week rushing around trying to pay overdue bills and source insurance. Make sure you are seeing the big picture so you can enjoy this exciting new time of your life. There are checklists on the internet for almost everything.

And when we have got over the initial enthusiasm interest wanes, results may not be visible quick enough and others encourage us to bend the rules. Ensure you have a clear timeline of what you are committed to doing when & how you will know when you have achieved it.

When starting to learn a new hobby… swimming for example, do you want to enjoy this once a week, become more confident in the water for your holidays, do you want to be on a competitive swimming team? Set your expectations and measure yourself regularly.

It is also worth considering those around you – our nearest & dearest want the best for us but sometimes also want us to stay the same & not change. Let them know & solicit their support. If they don’t cooperate or put down your efforts ‘this will be the same as the last time, you’ll never succeed’ have a back-up phrase ready – ‘I respect that’s your opinion but I have taken a different approach and know I will succeed.’

So how can we maintain our efforts?

Start with goals in mind – be realistic, honest & relevant.
Apply the 80-20 rule.
Ask what you are procrastinating about? Why? What are you resisting?
Listen to internal & external doubts – are they realistic & challenge them
Have fun & enjoy the journey
culled from:
The average small business owner can be found renting an office or office space in a town (urban) or on the town’s periphery (rurban). Another type of business owner is the entrepreneur working from home in a rural [an undeveloped or lightly developed and sparsely populated area] setting, perhaps using a virtual office. They may have their incoming phonecalls and mail “processed” by a service provider whilst dealing with the outbound selling and administration themselves.

Despite a thriving business, the small business owner can often work in isolation. This is more prevalent amongst rural business owners.

Generally chores and errands are managed in bulk, reducing the exposure a rural business owner may have with the real business world. Thank goodness for actual customers!!!

The Good bits:

I work in a bucolic setting. This allows me to take a walk at will to clear my head.
I can go to the bank and schedule meetings to suit my day
I have no one to answer to
I don’t have ticket sellers calling to my door every 5 minutes
If I don’t complete a task, it can wait until tomorrow
I am not restricted to the hours 9-5
The Bad times:

See “The Good” above – too many “Pink Elephants”
The Ugly truth:

I have a plan, but no-one to share it with and get feedback
I have great ideas, but am not aware of the resources available
Who have I to share general or specific concerns with?
Who will reassure me that I am doing a good job?
Who will show me the value of my successes?
The Lesson?

Enterprises have an abundance of resources to make use of. There are plenty of resources out there for the rural business also. The trick is to avail of them.
Rural entrepreneurs should make a conscious effort to meet, advise and seek advice from others in their field. Network, network, network. Get yourself out there. Dedicate as part of your business week, a casual business meeting or a networking group where you can share concerns and fears, or enthusiasm and success stories.
Celebrate achievement and success – always.
In my next post, I will detail some of the resources available to rural business owners and discuss some of the myths about running a business in rural Ireland.

Andy is looking forward to his 100th birthday next May


When you need advice, you ask someone who knows best. When you need life advice, you go to someone who’s seen it all. And who could be better than a great-grandfather with 99 years of life experience?
Andy is looking forward to his 100th birthday next May
Andy is looking forward to his 100th birthday next May
Andy Anderson, a 99-year-old grandpa, has had quite the incredible life. He has experienced love, loss, triumph, and failure. And through all of that he has continued to remain himself and keep people laughing while he’s at it.
Here’s grandpa’s full list of 25 life lessons we can and should all apply:

  1. Always maintain a good sense of humor.
  2. Never be too good to start at the bottom.
  3. Exercise every single day, even when you don’t feel like it.
  4. Don’t spend more money than you make.
  5. Drink orange juice every day.
  6. Love at first sight is not a fable.
  7. Having a bad job is better than having no job at all.
  8. Eat around the mold; don’t go wasting food.
  9. Your family is the most precious thing you will ever have in life.
  10. Eat sausage every day — it worked for me.
  11. Your life is delicate, and if you neglect yourself, you’ll spoil. That’s what cheese taught me.
  12. Don’t ever be afraid to be your true self.
  13. Everyone has too many clothes. Wear what you have and quit buying more.
  14. You must be able to forgive, even if it’s difficult to do.
  15. Save your money now and spend it later.
  16. Love is not always easy; sometimes you have to work at it.
  17. Find something comical in every single situation.
  18. If you’re faced with a problem, don’t delay trying to figure it out. But if there’s no way to figure it out, you have to forget about it.
  19. Make sure you’re doing what you love; don’t be afraid to follow those dreams you have for yourself.
  20. Education is important, but not necessary. Life can be an education in itself.
  21. Explore your world and stay curious.
  22. Try not to take yourself so seriously.
  23. My full name is William Bradford James Anderson, and my initials always remind me to ask myself, “Why be just anybody?”
  24. Have common sense. Think about the most reasonable answer to every situation. If you don’t have common sense, you’re a bust.
  25. Life is a gift that you must unwrap. It’s up to you to determine if what’s inside will lead you to happiness or dismay. You have the power to make that decision for yourself.
  26. Andy is looking forward to his 100th birthday next May, which he hopes to spend with his family. “I feel pretty good about getting older. I may be 99, but I am still learning and experiencing new things everyday. You never stop learning. Age is not just a number, it’s a badge of all my life experiences.”

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Havana_Cuba_GettyImages_Walter-Bibikow.jpg - Walter Bibikow/Getty Images 

President Barack Obama just announced that the U.S. will seek to normalize its relationship with Cuba – where travel restrictions for U.S. visitors have been limited for decades. Many are asking themselves if this means that travel to Cuba is now legal. But truth be told, nothing has really changed. Travel to Cuba may be easier, but the same restrictions still hold for U.S. visitors now as they did before the announcement, but many are hopeful that they will soon be relaxed even further, and tour operators are letting their sentiments be known.
"President Obama's announcement today that the U.S. and Cuba are to normalize relations will undoubtedly lead to an eventual expansion of our tour programs to Cuba," says Richard Krieger, president of The Isramworld Portfolio of Brands. “This historic development reflects enormous potential to have a positive impact on tourism to Cuba and in turn give American travelers the opportunity to experience firsthand the rich Cuban culture. We are already on the ground working with our Cuban partners prepared to welcome more tourists as this situation progresses. Until then, our current programs are operating in full swing and more popular than ever.”
Tauck CEO Dan Mahar noted that the company recently lengthened its Cuba journey due to its popularity.
“Cuba has been incredibly popular with our guests since our very first departures in 2012,” said Tauck CEO Dan Mahar, “and we’re thrilled to be offering an enhanced and expanded itinerary there. Guests traveling to Cuba with us for the first time will now enjoy a much more comprehensive experience, while our past travelers to Cuba will find plenty of new experiences and new reasons to plan a return journey.”
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For U.S. citizens interested in visiting the country, here are some tour options if you are considering a visit.
Latour, a part of Isramworld’s family of brands, has been offering Cuba tours since 2013. The company is committed to encouraging a meaningful exchange between U.S. travelers and the Cuban people. Latour offers many different options for travelers to Cuba, including tours for general travelers, LGBT travelers and travelers interested in Cuba's Jewish heritage and community.      
Latour’s programs feature interactions and meetings with the Cuban people, include roundtrip airfare between Miami and Cuba, eight nights' accommodations, ground transportation and airport transfers in Cuba, most meals, a Cuban visa and health insurance.
Tauck’s new Cuba journey, available for 2015, has been extended to a 13-day trip (from $7,465, double occupancy, plus airfare). Visitors will spend three nights in Havana, two nights in Cayo Santa Maria, three nights in Camaguey, one night in Holguín and two nights in Santiago de Cuba.
During the trip, Tauck guests will learn about the Cuba’s history through discussions with local experts. The role of the arts in Cuban culture will also be highlighted throughout the journey and Tauck has arranged for its guests to personally meet a wide array of artisans. Guests will also learn about daily life in Cuba in discussions with local restaurateurs, printers and fishermen as well as during a visit with a local family in the small village of La Maya.
G Adventures
G Adventures is offering a sailing adventure to Cuba. Get to know this off-limits country like you never have before on G Adventures unique seven-day journey through the islands of the Canarreos Archipelago onboard a catamaran. Check out massive flocks of flamingos and parrots, snorkel the crystal-clear waters in search of colorful fish, relax on the beach, and dine on some of the freshest seafood you’ll ever have. Eight days, $1,899 per person.
Mountain Travel Sobek
Mountain Travel Sobek is offering a nine-day Cuba Cultural Discovery trip. Guests will meet locals from all walks of life, including artists, teachers, farmers, cigar-makers, economists, historians and more. They will be able to exchange ideas with people as well as visit off-the-beaten-path tourist gems such as Vinales, with its lush tobacco fields, and Muraleando, an artist community. Guests will also experience contemporary culture at UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Old Havana and Las Terrazas. Departures for 2015 take place in January, February, November and December. 


Friendship is one of the best aspects of life. That said, certain friends are certainly much better than others. A real friend and fake friend can be hard to distinguish, but they are very different! Real friends are people you can go to for anything. You know they will always be on your side, through thick and thin. Fake friends might as well be scum of the Earth for all the support they will give you. Use this guide to figure out if your friends are your realfriends!
1. Support you in all your endeavors
A real best friend will encourage you with anything that you try! Whether it be taking up square dancing, or changing your career path, a real friend will be there every step of the way.
2. Love your dorky personality
We all have those dorky things we do on a regular basis. A real friend loves those things! In fact, if they are a true real friend they just might join in withyou!
3. Forgive you for anything
Sometimes you royally screw up. With fake friends, a mistake can cost you a friendship. Real friends will know that sometimes you’ll mess up. They will forgive you because they value your friendship more than your (temporary) mistake.
4. Always have your back
It isn’t a matter of who is on the other side, what the issue is, or if you’re in the wrong – a real friend will stand by you no matter what. They always are on your side and will fight for you with no questions asked. That’s just what a real friend does!
5. Let you explore your interests
As we grow, we discover new interests, and sometimes they seem very unlike ourselves! Fake friends will make fun of you and tell you to stick to the status quo. *cue High School Musical song* A real friend will let you do your thing and encourage you to explore this new part of yourself.
6. Know all your little quirks
We all have little quirks about ourselves (IE: we are cranky in the morning, we get flirtatious when drunk, we eat too many dinner rolls, etc.) that only our true friends know about. No one else knows you quite like your real friends. The fact that they notice those little quirks about you is a good sign!
7. They constantly keep in contact
Fake friends will only contact you when they need something or want to know some juicy gossip. Real friends will contact you wherever and whenever because they are always interested in what’s going on in your life. They don’t have to know the latest gossip about your relationship. They might just want to know what you had for lunch today.
8. They keep your secrets
If you can trust anyone to not gossip around town about your dark little secrets, it’s your real friends. Fake friends will treat your secrets like it’s nothing sacred. A real friend values your confidence, and will not tell anyone.
9. Don’t have to dress to impress
If you have to put on really nice clothes, do your hair, and make sure that you smell nice just to hang out – then you know you have fake friends. A true friend will let you come over in sweatpants with unwashed hair. The worst they might do is make a joke, but they won’t really care at all. They just want to spend time with you. Real friendship is measured in how gross you can look when you hang out!
10. They make time for you
It doesn’t matter if they only have an hour between work and their pottery class, a real friend will let you come over for a drink any time. It isn’t a matter of time, it’s a matter of they want to spend time with you, rather than having time to themselves.
11. Always have a shoulder to cry on
A big difference between real and fake friends is how they deal with your ups and downs. If you’re feeling down, a fake friend will pat you awkwardly on the shoulder and try to change the subject. Your real friends will wrap you in their arms and listen to you blubber all night, if you want them to. Real friends are there for you, whether you’re happy or sad.
If you’re trying to decide whether your friends are genuine or not, hopefully this guide helped you decipher which kind of friends you surround yourself with! It’s time to get real.
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Working from home takes discipline, discipline I thought I had.   I have just moved into an office and out of my home office.  The home office had been my dream for years, to work in a more relaxed atmosphere, and it worked for a while.

There are pro and cons working from home; the first thing to consider is your own personality.  Do you need someone else to motivate you to work?  If this is the case you might be much better in an office or even just working for someone else.

Can you shut out all distractions and work away, and do you have the space at home?  It is no good thinking that box room under the stairs will be fine one you have jammed in a desk – this might work for a week or so, but soon you will find yourself with the laptop on the couch in the middle of the day.  Bear in mind the kids may be at school at this time of year, but what is going to be like come the summer?

If you have enough space and it is quiet, you are very motivated on your own, and you don’t mind long periods of isolation – then working from home might be for you.

I have just moved myself into an office, a shared office with people in complementary lines of work.  After working at home for the last three years I had noticed my productivity level going down and down quite dramatically.

The first year was great, there was a freedom in being able to just walk to my room and sit and work.  I used this year to discipline myself, work every day, planning my time and my week.  The second year was the best, I managed to combine a relaxed home life with a life style business.

During the third year it all changed as the result of my work moving from a life style business to something more substantial, for some reason at the same time my motivation levels dropped and I noticed myself having less interaction with the world.

Since moving into an office my motivation has picked up again.  However the biggest surprise is the amount of work that I can get done in an office compared to home.  I had missed how all the little distractions slowly start to build up.  Now there are very few distractions and I have the added benefit of sharing ideas with others in similar fields.

New beginning for your finances


The year 2015 is around the corner and many have started preparing for the New Year. Any serious organisation would have wrapped up, or is in the process of wrapping up their 2015 business plan and budget. Beyond financial projections, they have a resource backed plans to support those projections. Having excellent financial goals for next year, but like castles in the air, they need foundations under them to become real.
As an observer of human behaviour, I find it interesting that companies envision their future and go to work while most individuals look for a way to predict the future they are not ready for. We get excited if we come across someone who claims to see into our future. Many have fallen into the hands of prophets, seers, marabouts, and imams, who have cashed into our fascination about the future to smile to the bank. While organisations predict their future by creating it, we look for our future to come to us.
Studies show that the top two things when it comes to New Year resolutions is weight loss and improving personal finances. Both have something in common, as in most other areas of life – you have inner work to do to make it happen. There is nothing wrong with your New Year’s resolution. The issue is that there is a mismatch between the price you are willing to pay and the full price required, and unlike some other merchandise, you cannot have it until you have paid the full price. There is nothing wrong with setting a goal to buy a Range Rover Evoque next year. It is doable. People are doing it. The snag is, you need to be willing to put down something in the range of N35m. If all you can come up with, or are willing to spend is N6m, then the amount you have is unrealistic. There is nothing like an unrealistic goal. What is unrealistic is the price you are willing to pay. If you are not ready to step up your game, then forget about that goal.
What price are you willing to pay?
Your current reality is a reflection of the price you have paid so far. Your current money management skill is a reflection of what you have learned and practiced regarding money. If you desire to step up, then you need to pay the price to upgrade yourself. Change happens when you change. If you do not change, you will not be able to sustain new habits. The main reason most New Year’s resolution lose steam is because the old you is trying to achieve new things, same as a JS1 student trying to do home work meant for an SS2 student. You cannot carry out that load because you have not developed the capacity required. Rather than try to carry a bigger load, your energy is best invested in building your capacity. Changing on the inside builds your capacity. That is why continuous learning and development that brings about change is crucial to progress. When you stop learning, you stop growing.
If you truly want a new beginning for your finances in 2015, you need to be ready to pay the price to learn what needs to change, and then do it. There are no quick fixes or silver bullet. In an era when packaged take-aways have become the norm, we are no longer disposed to do the work we need to do to get the result we desire. We look for short cuts. We look for someone who has done their work to tell us what to do.
There is no alternative to financial education, if you want to make sustainable progress financially. Experts recommend we spend at least three per cent of our income on personal development. This includes financial education. We ought to spend more on books, tapes, seminars etc that we do on fashion or phones etc. Change starts on the inside. If you do not change your input, your output will not change. What price are you willing to pay to turn your finances around? What change do you desire? Where are you now? Where do you want to be next year?
Bring an end to financial struggle
We naturally assume we know what we are doing, and our way is the only way. We cannot use the same method that got us into trouble to get out of it. We have to be willing to be open to other ways. When you decide to change the way you handle money, and follow the correct principles, you will start to see changes. You cannot get away with impunity when it comes to natural laws.
Financial illiteracy is the root of financial struggles. When you don’t know the difference between assets and liabilities, you acquire liabilities thinking they are assets and sentence yourself to a lifetime of financial struggle. Conventionally, an asset is a tangible or intangible item that has value, something you can cash in. The financially literate do not look at it that way. They look at current cash flow. Potential cash flow is wonderful, but it does not put food on the table or pay your bills.
An asset puts money in your pocket while a liability takes money away from your pocket. What determines whether an item is an asset or liability is the direction of cash flow, not the item itself. In how many ways does money enter your pocket? Does it enter one way and flee seven ways? If you study your expenditure pattern, how much of your income goes into acquiring assets?
Most people consider their home is an asset. One of their biggest goals in life is to own a home. Due to this mindset, a lot of people sink their life savings in building a home. This often becomes an abandoned project, leaving life savings in a limbo. Sadly, many die leaving behind the project for their children to decide what to do with it.
Whether you have completed your home and live in it or not, your home is not an asset until it puts money in your pocket. Same goes for your car, boat, golf clubs, curved TV, iphone 6 etc. If you could only delay gratification first, build assets and use the cash flow from the assets to pay for your liabilities. If money keeps leaving your hands and does not come back, you will end up a poor man.
If you want 2015 to be different, you need the miracle of repentance from your financial sins and turning a new leaf. 2015 will become what you make of it. As the saying goes, you have the knife and the yam. How you cut it is up to you.