New Year’s Resolution: To Lose The Blinders And Walk Towards The Light

Love this inspirational post from Mark Armstrong…

Mark Armstrong Freelance Humorous Illustration for Marketing Communication Editorial and Social Media

I was scrounging around for a year-end post, and had one of those “happy accidents,” sometimes referred to as serendipity. I found an old illustration (circa 2006), and I also came across a quote by Saint Francis of Assisi. You may recall that Francis made an appearance in a recent Christmas post. Here’s the quote:BlankVertSpace.8pixels

It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.BlankVertSpace.8pixels

Here’s the illustration:

illustration of angry blind man with cane groping and walking past signpost indicating two basic paths either into sunlight with life, love, song, optimism, positive attitude, or into darkness with death, negativity, hate, pessimism, and sour disposition, you've got to take off blinders and choose wisely to support your mental health and affirm others

It wasn’t a commissioned illustration– just an idea of mine: namely, that we are often blind, and choose unwisely.

Our anger and arrogance blind us to the light, and make us our own worst enemy. Here’s a detail image:

detail image of illustration of angry blind man with cane groping and walking past signpost indicating two basic paths either into sunlight with life, love, song, optimism, positive attitude, or into darkness with death, negativity, hate, pessimism, and sour disposition, you've got to take off blinders and choose wisely to support your mental health and affirm others

Our walk is our preaching, whether we wish to preach or not. We are constantly preaching to others, and preaching to ourselves. Francis knew our “walk” was much more powerful than our “talk,” because he also…

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10 Incredibly Simple Things You Should Be Doing To Protect Your Privacy: Forbes

10 Incredibly Simple Things You Should Be Doing To Protect Your Privacy

Kashmir Hill, Forbes Staff

Welcome to The Not-So Private Parts where technology & privacy collide

The Verizon version of the Apple iPhone is dis...
Please tell me you have a password protecting this.

Over the weekend, I wound up at Washington, D.C.’s Trapeze School with a group of friends. Before one of them headed up a ladder to attempt a somersault landing from the trapeze bar, she handed me her phone and asked me to take photos. “What’s the password?” I asked. “I don’t use one,” she replied. My jaw dropped as it often does when someone I know tells me they’re choosing not to take one of the very simplest steps for privacy protection, allowing anyone to snoop through their phone with the greatest of ease, to see whichever messages, photos, and sensitive apps they please.

So this post is for you, guy with no iPad password, and for you, girl who stays signed into Gmail on her boyfriend’s computer, and for you, person walking down the street having a loud conversation on your mobile phone about your recent doctor’s diagnosis of that rash thing you have. These are the really, really simple things you should be doing to keep casual intruders from invading your privacy.

1. Password protect your devices: your smartphone, your iPad, your computer, your tablet, etc. Some open bookers tell me it’s “annoying” to take two seconds to type in a password before they can use their phone. C’mon, folks. Choosing not to password protect these devices is the digital equivalent of leaving your home or car unlocked. If you’re lucky, no one will take advantage of the access. Or maybe the contents will be ravaged and your favorite speakers and/or secrets stolen.  If you’re not paranoid enough, spend some time reading entries in Reddit Relationships, where many an Internet user goes to discuss issues of the heart. A good percentage of the entries start, “I know I shouldn’t have, but I peeked at my gf’s phone and read her text messages, and…”

2. Put a Google Alert on your name. This is an incredibly easy way to stay on top of what’s being said about you online. It takes less than a minute to do.Go here. Enter your name, and variations of your name, with quotation marks around it. Boom. You’re done.

3. Sign out of Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, etc. when you’re done with your emailing, social networking, tweeting, and other forms of time-wasting. Not only will this slightly reduce the amount of tracking of you as you surf the Web, this prevents someone who later sits down at your computer from loading one of these up and getting snoopy. If you’re using someone else’s or a public computer, this is especially important. Yes, people actually forget to do this, with terrible outcomes.

4. Don’t give out your email address, phone number, or zip code when asked. Obviously, if a sketchy dude in a bar asks for your phone number, you say no. But when the asker is a uniform-wearing employee at Best Buy, many a consumer hands over their digits when asked. Stores often use this info to help profile you and your purchase. You can say no. If you feel badly about it, just pretend the employee is the sketchy dude in the bar.

It’s this easy!

5. Encrypt your computer. The word “encrypt” may sound like a betrayal of the simplicity I promised in the headline, but this is actually quite easy to do, especially if you’re a MacHead. Encrypting your computer means that someone has to have your password (or encryption key) in order to peek at its contents should they get access to your hard drive. On a Mac, you just go to your settings, choose “Security and Privacy,” go to “FileVault,” choose the “Turn on FileVault” option. Boom goes the encryption dynamite. PC folk need to use Bitlocker.

6. Gmailers, turn on 2-step authentication in Gmail. The biggest takeaway from the epic hack of Wired’s Mat Honan was that it probably wouldn’t have happened if he’d turned on “2-step verification” in Gmail. This simple little step turns your phone into a security fob — in order for your Gmail account to be accessed from a new device, a person (hopefully you) needs a code that’s sent to your phone. This means that even if someone gets your password somehow, they won’t be able to use it to sign into your account from a strange computer. Google says that millions of people use this tool, and that “thousands more enroll each day.” Be one of those people. The downside:It’s annoying if your phone battery dies or if you’re traveling abroad. The upside: you can print a piece of paper to take with you, says James Fallows at the Atlantic. Alternately, you can turn it off when you’re going to be abroad or phone-less. Or you can leave it permanently turned off, and increase your risk of getting epically hacked. Decision’s yours.

7. Pay in cash for embarrassing items. Don’t want a purchase to be easily tracked back to you? You’ve seen the movies! Use cash. One data mining CEO says this is how he pays for hamburgers and junk food these days.

Red is bad

8. Change Your Facebook settings to “Friends Only.”You’d think with the many Facebook privacy stories over the years that everyone would have their accounts locked down and boarded up like Florida houses before a hurricane. Not so. There are still plenty of Facebookers that are as exposed on the platform as Katy Perry at a water park. Visit your Facebook privacy settings. Make sure this “default privacy” setting isn’t set to public, and if it’s set to “Custom,” make sure you know and are comfortable with any “Networks” you’re sharing with.

9. Clear your browser history and cookies on a regular basis. When’s the last time you did that? If you just shrugged, consider changing your browser settings so that this is automatically cleared every session. Go to the “privacy” setting in your Browser’s “Options.” Tell it to “never remember your history.” This will reduce the amount you’re tracked online. Consider a browser add-on like TACO to further reduce tracking of your online behavior.

10. Use an IP masker. When you visit a website, you leave a footprint behind in the form of IP information. If you want to visit someone’s blog without their necessarily knowing it’s you — say if you’re checking out a biz competitor, a love interest, or an ex — you should consider masking your computer’s fingerprint, which at the very least gives away your approximate location and service provider. A person looking at their analytics would notice me as a regular visitor from Washington, D.C. for example, and would probably even be able to tell that I was visiting from a Forbes network address. To hide this, you can download Tor or use an easy browser-based option like HideMyAss.com.

These are some of the easiest things you can do to protect your privacy. Ignoring these is like sending your personal information out onto the trapeze without a safety net. It might do fine… or it could get ugly. These are simple tips for basic privacy; if you’re in a high-risk situation where you require privacy from malicious actors, check out EFF’s surveillance self-defense tips.

Great insights for all of us today…..

Veranda Lane Success Blog

One of the most painful questions that I’ve ever been asked:

“What are you hobbies?”goalsetting

Why? Because, it makes me squirm. My go-to answer has always been “Work. Work is my hobby, because it’s all that I have time for.” What an awful life I was living! I woke up, went to work, came home, did more work, slept, then started it all over again. During those days, I abandoned the other aspects of my life: family, spiritual growth, community involvement. All of these were a distant second to climbing the corporate ladder. 

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Hacking The Human Brain: What Every Marketing Professional Needs To Know

Hello friends — I hope you had a joyous Christmas Day that was relaxed, and full of family, love, and much too much wrapping paper.  I want to introduce you to Mark Armstrong, an illustrator whose blog I happily happened upon this afternoon. His drawing skill is quickly obvious, and after just a paragraph or two, his wit likewise becomes apparent — I now follow his blog, markarmstrongillustration.com, and you may want to do the same.

Hacking The Human Brain: What Every Marketing Professional Needs To Know

SEPTEMBER 7, 2012

A recent illustration for The Partner Channel Magazine, which focuses on marketing and salesmanship. It was for an article entitled Why People Buy.

The author defined marketing as applied psychology, and began by asking this question: How do you get inside of people’s heads to get them to buy from you? A rather visceral image immediately sprang to mind. Here’s the final:

humorous illustration for Partner Channel magazine about salesmanship and making sales and marketing skills and six essential traits needed for getting inside customer's head, showing salesman with briefcase opening trapdoor on man's head and about to descend ladder down into man's cranium to access his brain

A more interesting question, perhaps, was this: What tips the scale to get people to buy from you instead of your perhaps equally competent competitors? The author went on to discuss 6 psychological triggers that influence the way people buy and behave. Here’s a brief summary:

1. Reciprocation: Give to get. You comment on my blog, I’ll comment on yours.

2. Commitment: Small sales lead to bigger. A satisfied customer will ask you to take on on bigger, higher-paying jobs.

3. Social Proof: Evidence that people like you and your work: sales, commissions, testimonials, enthusiastic followers.

4. Liking: People buy from people they know and like. Reach out, join groups, be friendly and courteous.

5. Authority: We buy from people who project it. Good manners, good grammar, knowledgeable blog posts all project authority.

6. Scarcity: The ol’ limited time only: People will buy it today if they’re afraid it might not be available tomorrow.

I decided to incorporate these buzzwords into the illustration by running them around the perimeter of the face. Photoshop’s ability to string text along a path came in handy here. I could then adjust the path to align the text perfectly along the head’s contours.

There’s something amusing about “Reciprocation” curving along someone’s nose. Here’s a close-up:

detail image of humorous illustration for Partner Channel magazine about salesmanship and making sales and marketing skills and six essential traits needed for getting inside customer's head, showing salesman with briefcase opening trapdoor on man's head and about to descend ladder down into man's cranium to access his brain

You can see some slightly thicker lines running through the brain. They define its four principal lobes: frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal– what you’d see in a medical diagram. It makes me smile at myself for being such a stickler for detail.

I wanted the brain to be anatomically correct. Why? Because the humor in the drawing depends on the reader instantly recognizing the brain for what it is. It has to look the part, even if it’s only a “cartoon brain.”

It’s the old maxim: one has to know the rules before one can successfully break them. A humorous illustrator has to know what something really looks like before he can draw a credible cartoon version of it.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

What do you think? Ever heard anyone coming down that little ladder into your skull? Is blogging a form of salesmanship? one that requires us to pay attention to these same psychological triggers?

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

Happy Birthday To Folksinger Patty Larkin And Her Machine Gun Guitar

Paula Deen, Twinkies, And The National Debt 

Ring Around The Rosary, We All Stand Together

footer for all future blog posts showing picture of blog author Mark Armstrong, along with short bio and contact information
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Good Advice for All of Us …..

Fun Goods for Awesome Living

If you don’t travel that much, chances are you’ve had no problems greeting others with a handshake, a hug, or a simple “how are you,” regardless of their culture. But at holiday parties, the mix of strangers, friends of friends of friends, extended family, and other unfamiliar persons might lead you to encounter someone from another culture whom you might not be all that sure how to introduce yourself to or converse with. Though it’s impossible to cover every culture you might encounter, here’s some of the basic body language rules to keep you from becoming acquainted with no one’s friend, trouble!

The Handshake

Most countries have conformed to the Western introduction of the handshake. Even then, there are many variations with the duration, strength, and what should or can accompany the handshake. For example, you might smile when you shake the hand of a Chinese person, but they might…

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The Heart of Innovation: The Value of Confusion

 

I feel so much better, now – I thought CONFUSION was a BAD thing….not so, maybe?

 

 
Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at December 20, 2012 01:44 AM
 

December 20, 2012


The Value of Confusioniphone-confused.jpg

Are you confused about how to proceed with your hottest new idea or project? If so, take heart! Confusion is not always a bad thing. In fact, it’s often a necessary part of the creative process.

The weirdness enters when you start judging yourself for being confused. Then, instead of benefiting from this normal stage of “not knowing” you end up in endless rounds of self-talk, procrastination, and worry.

What IS confusion, really?

Technically speaking, it’s a state of mind in which the elements you are dealing with appear to be indiscriminately mixed, out of whack, or unable to be interpreted to your satisfaction.

Everyone from Einstein to Mickey Mouse has had this experience. It comes with the territory of trying to innovate.

Most of us, unfortunately, have a hard time acknowledging it.

“Not knowing” has become a euphemism for “ignorance”. And so begins our curious routine of appearing to know and giving bogus answers — to ourselves and others — in a pitiful attempt to mask our confusion and maintain a sense of control, brilliance, and selfhood.

Confused.jpg

Our discomfort with not knowing prevents us from mining the value of this potentially fertile time of dislocation.

Picasso understood. “The act of creation,” he said, “is first of all an act of destruction.”

Great breakthroughs often emerge after times of dissolution, chaos, and confusion.

Wasn’t the universe itself created out of chaos?

llya Prigogine, a leading brain researcher, describes this phenomenon as the “Theory of Dissipative Structures”. Simply put, when things fall apart, they eventually reorganize themselves on a higher level (if they don’t first become extinct).

And while this transition stage certainly looks and feels like confusion, what’s really happening is that the old structures are giving way to the new.

Lao Tzu, one of China’s most revered sages, knew all about this:

lao-tzu.jpg

“I am a fool, oh yes, I am confused.
Other men are clear and bright.
But I alone am dim and weak.
Other men are sharp and clever,
But I alone am dull and stupid.
Oh, I drift like the waves of the sea,
Without direction, like the restless wind.”

Somehow, he knew that things needed to be a little mixed up for there to be space for something new to enter his life. He knew that sometimes it was wisest just to let life unfold — and that any knee-jerk attempt to clear up what he perceived to be confusion would only leave him with his old habits, patterns, and routines.

There is no need to fight confusion. Let it be.

It’s a stage we must pass through on the road to creation. Fighting confusion only makes it worse — like trying to clean a dirty pond by poking at it with a stick.

And, besides, even while our conscious mind is telling us we’re confused, our subconscious mind is processing a mile a minute to come up with some amazing solutions. In the shower. While we’re exercising. Even in our dreams.

Look at it this way…

First, we refuse (to have our status quo threatened). Then, we getconfused (trying to sort out all the new input). Then, we try todiffuse the process (by regressing or denying.) Eventually, we getinfused (inundated by new insights). And, finally, we get fused(connecting with previously unrelated elements to form a new and unified whole).

Your next step?

Allow confusion to be what it is — the catalyst for new and more elegant outcomes.

And if you really can’t stand the confusion, here are seven simple things you can do to go beyond it:

1. Take a break from the problem at hand
2. Identify what’s confusing you. Name it.
3. Talk about your confusion with friends
4. Seek out missing information
5. Redefine your problem, starting with the words “How can I?”
6. Pay attention to your dreams and other clues bubbling up from your subconscious
7. Maintain a longer term perspective (“this too shall pass”)

Idea Champions

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Photo
Illustration

 

Is Your Life a Masterpiece or a Meaningless Existence?

At this time of year, it seems normal for all of us to look back at the year, sometimes several years, and reflect on where we are and where we want to be. Sometimes we feel satisfied, other times we are disappointed in our progress. This year, as we end 2012 and begin 2013, read the story of Bob Geldof – of where he began and where he is today.  It gave me profound inspiration, and hope – I hope it will do the same for each of you.  – Rosemary

Is Your Life A Masterpiece Or A Meaningless Existence?

Written by 
Categories: Purpose and Passion

I had the pleasure to  hear a keynote presentation from the enigmatic

tonight and I was mesmerized by the passion, dreams and the vision that permeated his words. The topic:

“Reaching your Dream: A World Icon’s Insight On the Secret To Success”

English: Bob Geldof

English: Bob Geldof (Photo credit: Wikipedia

He told how his mother had died when he was six years old and  how he and his sisters had to cope as his father, the travelling towel salesman was absent from the family home while travelling all week to support his family.  He attended good schools due to his fathers sacrifice as Bob and his sisters coped at home on their own. His passion and purpose for making a difference started when he was 13 when he and a friend started  a  movement against apartheid in South Africa. The reason he started this was the intellectual  absurdity of judging or making someone less of a person for the color of their skin.. he saw this as being as stupid as making someone less, for wearing a strange colored jumper or for having orange hair.

At the age of 16 he was working in soup kitchens in his city in Ireland to help the disadvantaged. He left high school feeling like a failure with his father wondering where he had failed his geeky son. He proceeded to travel and started a newspaper with great success in Canada despite being an illegal immigrant and was consequently discovered by the Canadian Mounties and then thrown out of the country by the authorities.

Back in the UK he thought “I am quite good at this publishing thing” and  started another publication and went to the bank to borrow some money and was told to come back when he was 40. Out of desperation he started a band and the rest is history. For the next 10 years his band “The Boomtown Rats” went on to be one of the most successful bands in the world.

In the mid “80′s”  he came home after his latest single was not turning into the success he was used to. On coming back home he turned on the television and happened upon a  BBC documentary about a famine in Ethiopia, with sudden insight his life before this moment suddenly seemed meaningless.

He flew to Africa to observe the situation first hand, then returned to England and gathered numerous British pop stars together to record a charity single under the name Band Aid; that song, “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” became the best-selling U.K. single of all time, and inspired a similar 1985 U.S. single “We Are The World”.

His life had become a masterpiece. The essence  and kernel of his passion had emerged when he was 13 and he hadn’t realised it then, but as the German Poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said:

“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.”

Are you following your passion or are you just turning up?

Read more at http://www.jeffbullas.com/2010/05/16/is-your-life-a-masterpiece-or-a-meaningless-existence/#Q5MHhIylMR5JTcRZ.99

5 Ways to Begin Designing Your Life in 2013

week 49 - Plans

week 49 – Plans (Photo credit: Sweet Dreamz Design)

5 Ways to Begin Designing Your Life in 2013
Tim Brown December 20, 2012

Great designers don’t just do design, they live design. Like them, we can learn how to practice design thinking principles both at work and at home.

As you start designing your life in 2013, here are five ways to begin:

1. Be optimistic, collaborative, and generative.
There’s something wonderfully gratifying about creating something new, whether it’s an award-winning design or a home-cooked meal.

2. Think of life as a prototype.
Conduct experiments, make discoveries, change as needed. Any process can be re-examined and tweaked. Look for opportunities to turn a process into a project with a tangible outcome.

3. Don’t ask “what?” ask “why?”
Instead of accepting a given constraint, ask whether this is the right problem to be solving.

4. Demand divergent options.
Don’t settle for the first good idea that comes to mind or seize on the first promising solution presented to you. Explore divergent options—and then set a deadline so you know when to move on.

5. Once a day, deeply observe the ordinary.
Make it a rule that at least once a day you will stop and take a second look at some ordinary situation that you would normally look at only once (or not at all). Get out in the world and be inspired by people.

Happy designing!

(Artwork by Martin Kay / IDEO)

Best and Worst Months To Be Born If You Want To Be the Boss

Business & Money

There’s been much research and writing over the years about the positive and negative affects of birth month on various aspects of life, few as well known as Malcolm Gladwell‘s 2008 bestseller Outliers: The Story of Success. Now comes word that having been born at certain times of the year might help or harm your chances of becoming a boss. (Which means, once again, that it’s all your parents fault if you fail!)

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5 Biggest Leadership Lessons From 2012

Business & Money


This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources, and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

It’s been quite a year for leadership lessons. Any one of a multitude of events in 2012 (Hurricane Sandy, The London Olympics, Benghazi and its fallout) would provide a case study in how to lead–and sometimes, sadly, how not to.

Here are my personal top five leadership lessons from 2012:

1. Institutionalize your Vision (with a capital V).

It’s over a year since he died, but Steve Jobs was still handing out leadership lessons in 2012.

The question everyone began asking almost immediately his sad, early death was announced was: “Will Apple survive the loss of its Visionary founder?”

This year showed that, while the jury is still out as to whether it will be exactly the same company or not, Apple…

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