The history of our world in 18 minutes. David Christian

Backed by stunning illustrations, David Christian narrates a complete history of the universe, from the Big Bang to the Internet, in a riveting 18 minutes. This is “Big History”: an enlightening, wide-angle look at complexity, life and humanity, set against our slim share of the cosmic timeline.

Source: Ted.

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The Simple Secrets of Business Growth People Forget . Shawn Doyle

growth

Last month, my business hurdled across the thirteen-year mark. Business is fantastic. Revenue and profit are at record levels. Lately, other people have begun noticing my prosperous little business and started asking questions.

“What is your secret?” They ask. “How have you built your business from nothing to something? ”

These questions made think about the fundamental principles I used to build my business. Here are the six I came up with.

1. Listen to your customers

It’s not what you want to sell; it’s what your customers want to buy. The best ideas (if you are listening carefully) come from your best customers. I have a leadership development program that I conduct for my clients across the country. One day, I got a call from a training director.

He said, “This may sound crazy, but would you be willing to license your program to us so we can conduct it on our own?”

Fast forward to eighteen months later, and I have two large clients on multi-year licensing agreements for my products, and I have several more we are talking to now. Translation: generate additional revenue without having to be present. I don’t know if I ever would have thought of this on my own.

2. Do your homework

When I work with a client, I do my homework in advance on their industry, company, issues and challenges. In the internet age, information is available at your fingertips. During a recent training session in Charlotte, a participant complimented me on my knowledge of their business. After, they asked me to do an additional 15 days of training for them this fall.

Preparation is the mark of a professional. Some people still don’t prepare, and this can be one of your distinctions.

3. Deliver

A few months ago, I flew from Philly to Portland to facilitate full-day training for a client. Every connecting flight was delayed and delayed and delayed. I finally landed at 3:30 a.m., got to the hotel at 4:30 a.m. and fell asleep at 5:30.

I was back up at 6:30 and started training at 8:00. I did a full-day training session for 40 people on a one-hour nap.

Did they know it? Nope.

Perform no matter what. No excuses. No whining. When you deliver despite the challenges and difficulties, it is also a chance reinforce and enhance your reputation.

4. Control overhead

Sheryl Crow once said, “This ain’t no country club: This is L.A.”

Similarly, a business isn’t a social club. I don’t have an expensive office lease or tons of overhead. I run lean. If you can’t be disciplined with expenses and overhead, then maybe you shouldn’t be in business.

5. Stay sharp

I belong to and participate in three industry groups, and I invest in attending two to three conferences each year. This kind of activity keeps me sharp and in the loop on what is going on in my industry. In the last three years, some of the ideas I have gained at these conferences have had a huge influence on how I operate my business.

If you go and keep an open mind, a new idea or two will jump start your thinking. The investment in staying sharp can pay off ten fold. It has for me.

6. Pick a niche

Ok, let’s face it: You can’t be all things all people. Your marketing budget isn’t big enough, and it’s too difficult. I decided a few years ago to specialize in training and speaking about leadership. The response to this approach has been incredible, and I now have dozens of clients on multi-year contracts.

Most people would rather hire a specialist than a generalist.

My goal is to become the training and coaching resource for leadership. I am currently developing a website and several products just for that. Pick a niche small enough to own but large enough to be profitable.

Those are the six biggest lessons I’ve learned in business so far. I am sure I will learn much more in the next thirteen. It is an exciting place to be, owning a growing and dynamic business. Some nights, I am so fired up, I can’t sleep (in a good way). As Oprah Winfrey once said, “When I think about the future, the future is so bright it burns my eyes.”

It’s how I feel right now. I hope the same for your future.

Now make something happen.

Shawn Doyle

About the author: Shawn Doyle is a professional speaker, author, executive and life coach. Two of his books have been Amazon number-one bestsellers, and his books have been translated into 10 languages. He is the president of New Light Learning and Development, a company that specializes in leadership-development programs and executive coaching. Some of his clients include NBC, NASA, Disney, Comcast, Kraft, Microsoft, The Marines and Lockheed Martin.

Source: Entrepreneur

How to use apostrophes (’) – About words

 

Using apostrophes in the wrong way is one of the most common punctuation errors for native speakers of English as well as for learners.

If you remember these three simple rules, you will avoid mistakes:

1) We use apostrophes to show who something belongs to, e.g. This is Tom’s hat.

2) We also use them for contracted forms, to show that something is missing, e.g. It’s raining.

3) We do not use them for plurals!! If you are in an English-speaking country, you will see many signs in shops and cafés advertising ‘tomato’s’, ‘pizza’s’, ‘sandwich’s’, etc. This is incorrect, and you will lose marks if you do this in an English exam!

These are the main rules to remember, but here is a little more detail:

We usually add ’s to singular words to show who or what something belongs to: my mum’s car, the dog’s tail, Harry’s school.

We also add ’s to plural words that don’t end in ‘s’: women’s books, people’s opinions.

For plurals that do end in ‘s’, we simply put an apostrophe at the end of the word: the animals’ owner, my parents’ house.

For singular words ending in ‘s’, you can add either ’s or – for more formal writing – just the apostrophe: Tess’s phone number, Ben Holmes’s friend, Dickens’ novels.

We often use apostrophes at the end of the names of jobs when we are talking about the place where they work: go to the doctor’s, the greengrocer’s.

In contracted forms, the apostrophe shows where one or more letters has been left out. For example, I’d can mean I had or I would, and they’re means they are. These forms are not suitable for very formal writing, where it is better to write the words in full.

Another very common contraction is n’t, which is short for ‘not’ and is used to make negative words such as isn’t, wouldn’t, and haven’t.

Finally, there are two words which probably cause more problems with apostrophes than any others: it’s and who’s. These are contractions and are short for it/who is or it/who has:

It’s very cold in here.

It’s been a long time since we met.

Who’s coming to the park?

Who’s got the camera?

For talking about possession, we use its and whose:

Look at that chair – its leg has broken.

Whose shoes are these?

Apostrophes may look complicated, but really the rules about their use are quite simple, so I hope this blog has made them clearer. Do leave a comment if you would like help with any other aspect of punctuation, grammar or vocabulary.

Source: About words – A blog from Cambridge Dictinary

Albert Einstein Quotes

einstein

 

On scope

“Nature shows us only the tail of the lion. But there is no doubt in my mind that the lion belongs with it even if he cannot reveal himself to the eye all at once because of his huge dimension.”

 
On certainty

“As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”

 
On humility

“As a human being, one has been endowed with just enough intelligence to be able to see clearly how utterly inadequate that intelligence is when confronted with what exists.”

 
On relativity

“When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute — and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity.”

 
On common sense

“Common sense is nothing more than a deposit of prejudices laid down in the mind before you reach eighteen.”

 
On success

“If A is a success in life, then A equals X plus Y plus Z. Work is X; Y is play, and Z is keeping your mouth shut.”

 
On mystery

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed.”

 
On solitude

“My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. I am truly a ‘lone traveler’ and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude.”

 
On imagination

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

 
On motivation

“The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. Without the sense of kinship with men of like mind, without the occupation with the objective world, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific endeavors, life would have seemed empty to me. The trite objects of human efforts — possessions, outward success, luxury — have always seemed to me contemptible.”

 
On education

“The aim [of education] must be the training of independently acting and thinking individuals who, however, see in the service to the community their highest life problem.”

 
On ambition

“Nothing truly valuable arises from ambition or from a mere sense of duty; it stems rather from love and devotion towards men and towards objective things.”

 
On learning

“Most teachers waste their time by asking questions that are intended to discover what a pupil does not know, whereas the true art of questioning is to discover what the pupil does know or is capable of knowing.”

 
On thinking

“I very rarely think in words at all. A thought comes, and I may try to express in words afterwards.”

 
On life

“A happy man is too satisfied with the present to dwell too much on the future.”

 
On curiosity

“The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

 
On the role of science

“One thing I have learned in a long life: That all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike — and yet it is the most precious thing we have.”

 
On the hustle

“The only way to escape the corruptible effect of praise is to go on working.”

 

 

Source: 25 quotes that take you inside Albert Einstein’s revolutionary mind. Business Insider

 

Podcasts: The English We Speak. BBC World Service

english-we-speak

Every week, they look at a different everyday English phrase or piece of slang in this fun three-minute programme. From BBC World Service. Click here.

 

How I Decreased My Weekly Office Hours From 40-plus to Less Than 8. Jeff Rose

espiral

You sit down at your desk ready to destroy your workday. You brew a pot of coffee, break out your calendar and dive into your most important task.

And then it happens. The phone rings, or a co-worker stops by to say “hey.” Maybe your boss swings by to ask about those TPS reports.

Whatever type of interruption you face, you’re annoyed. And if you work in an office, you know exactly what I’m talking about: Just because you’re sitting behind that desk and have already “clocked in,” everyone thinks it’s perfectly okay to engage you. Unfortunately, these random engagements can absolutely kill your productivity.

Not only can they knock you off task, but they consume your mental energy for the day. I didn’t notice how much time I was losing before I had kids, but I notice it much more now that I have four. And yes, being a parent has severely limited my ability to endure small talk and mindless babble. Parents, you know what I’m talking about: 20 minutes in the hallway talking about last night’s game. A co-worker lamenting over workplace stuff. A leisurely lunch invite that turns into a two-hour affair against your will.

This is the type of stuff that can waste your productivity and reduce your potential.

Creating space and forging a new path

After a few years of enduring these wasted moments and opportunities, I was convinced something needed to change. I wanted to get out of the office more, but to accomplish nearly the same amount of work. More importantly, I wanted to stop wasting so much time, when I could be home with my family or out enjoying life.

At first, I thought that leaving the office more often would be an impossible feat. I mean, how could leave more often yet still accomplish the same level of work?

Sure, I was the CEO of my own wealth-management firm, but that didn’t mean I could come and go as I pleased. If I wasn’t in the office, what would my clients think? Was my team even capable of running everything in my absence? What if something went wrong?

It took me a while to realize I was consumed with limiting beliefs. Fortunately, a few amazing entrepreneurs and thought leaders made me realize the error of my ways. First, I read Tim Ferris’ book The 4-Hour Workweek and realized what was possible. Using the strategies in his book, I could reduce my time in the office significantly, right? Second, I joined a coaching program called Strategic Coach. The program introduced me to the concept of “creating space.”

One exercise we did involved tallying up how many free days we had taken in the last year. Why? Because they said we needed to learn to “create space” in our lives. And, to create that space, we had to give ourselves a break and some time off. Over time, the mental exercise of “creating space” allowed me to figure out what was important in my life, then outsource the rest.

Third, I started listening to productivity geniuses like Michael Hyatt. Highly productive entrepreneurs aren’t born that way, Hyatt says. They learn to become ultra-productive by mastering their environments. According to Hyatt, constant interruptions and distractions are the number one obstacle entrepreneurs face as they check off their to-do lists and work toward their goals.

And that is a shame, Hyatt say his websites. “Entrepreneurs and executives like us have too much value to contribute to our businesses and the people that matter most in our lives to let distractions drag us down,” he says on.

Just listening to experts like these taught me to “create space” and step away from my situation, to a certain extent. From there I set out on a path to limit distractions and build a better workday. Over time, I brought my office time from 40 hours per week to less than eight hours, with no impact to my productivity and even greater earnings over time.

How did I do it? Five ways.

1. I hired strategically. Although I already had a director of relations on staff, I added an associate advisor, as well. The associate’s job was to be “me” when I wasn’t there — giving expert advice to our clients and providing the service they deserve.

This is where I think a lot of small business owners fail. Scared that no one could ever stand in their shoes, they refuse to outsource their most important work. But, if you want to reduce your hours, this step is crucial.

It took a while to get everything set up. For several months, I had to work 60-hour weeks to teach this new hire everything he needed to know. But once the hard work was done, I had a trusted and polished counterpart to lean on.

2. We started documenting our processes. Eventually, I learned I could make my life easier by streamlining processes I did over and over. A tool that I stumbled on, Sweet Process, helps you create processes for everything in your business.

Using this tool, we began creating processes for higher-level tasks such as opening new accounts. From there, we created processes for making bank deposits and processing client contributions. Once we got all the higher-level tasks squared away, we even created systems to take over the small tasks in our workday.

Creating all those processes takes a lot of work up-front work, but once you’re done and new people you’ve taken on are trained, you never have to do these things again. Even better, if you eventually have to hire someone new or replace someone, your documented processes can serve as a training manual.

3. I “created space” and scheduled time for being away from the office. Once I hired more people and created processes, I had to schedule time for being away, to see if my new strategy could work. So, that’s exactly what I did — even though I had to force myself to leave the office.

At first, I spent time hanging out at a coffee shop or working from home. That way, I could test my new employee’s abilities without stepping away completely. Once I felt more comfortable, I started taking Tuesdays off. Then I started added more “off days” to my calendar each week. Eventually, I was down to just eight hours in the office each week, yet everything was still running smoothly. And yes, it felt great!

4. We improved communication. Before I reduced my hours, I had used email, texting and Google Chat as my primary sources of communication. This worked fine for a while, but we eventually realized we were losing conversations and details this way.

Then we stumbled on Slack. Slack allowed us to create channels specific to certain needs for our financial advisory firm; we could conduct ongoing conversations by searching past ones for details. Where we had once lost important information and conversations, Slack kept all of our correspondence in one place.

5. We reviewed actions and looked for ways to improve. Just as happened in the military where I participated in After Action Reviews, I created a process for weekly reviews in my office. We didn’t review one other’s work per se, but instead, how the week had done in general. How was our communication? Did everything get done? Did anything fall through the cracks?

By highlighting any gaps in our communication and planning, we could find ways to improve. And that’s exactly what we did. Over time, we improved everything from our daily communication to results for our clients.

Final thoughts

Where I once felt I could never step away from the office, I now work less than 8 hours each week at the office. And as the final nail in the coffin and proof that everything I outlined here works, we have drastically improved our profitability as well. In fact, Alliance Wealth Management (my firm) is on pace to grow revenue by 31 percent this year.

With more time on my hands, I am now able to be a better father and husband. In addition, I’ve created space and time to do something I have always wanted to do — which is to create a course geared toward financial advisors who want to become a force to be reckoned with in the online space. And you know what else? My course, The Online Advisor Growth Formula, is on track to add $100,000 in revenue to my business this year.

This fact underscores the idea that more work hours doesn’t always mean greater results and that, sometimes, less is more.

None of this could have happened if I had never stepped away – and if I had never listened to the savvy productivity experts who forged this path for me.

If you’re tired of working more to accomplish less, make sure to listen to the experts that study productivity like it’s their job (because it is). You might feel “stuck” working too many hours now, but a few small changes can make a world of difference.

Jeff Rose
Certified Financial Planner, Author and Blogger
Source: www.entrepreneur.com