Archive for October, 2013

28 oct

3 Common Marital Problems and How to Deal with Them

RobertCordrayNo two people are exactly alike, and when it comes to relationships, this is a good thing. After all, it’s generally the differences that make a person unique and exciting. However, when two people have been together for a long time, those little differences that used to seem so charming can start to get a little old.

This is especially true when a couple decides to make it official and settles down into marriage. Those who have been married for many years can attest that the wedding bond is a connection like no other. And like no other relationship, it can enrich your lives in countless ways, but only if you both work at keeping it strong.

So, in the spirit of making sure that your marriage stands the test of time, here are three common relationship problems, and how you and your spouse can work together to overcome them.

1. Money troubles

Let’s just get this one out of the way. A recent study performed by researchers at Kansas State University has concluded that the leading cause of divorce are issues relating to finances—arguments about savings, spending habits, important purchases, salary and employment, and pretty much anything else associated with the “root of all evil.” Disagreements regarding money may often stem from other marital issues, such as spousal roles or clashing priorities.

However, sometimes an argument about money is just that. When dealing with finance issues, it’s important to remember that money only has real value as a means to an end. Your foremost goal in marriage should be the happiness of your spouse. If spending habits are causing friction, then sit down with your better-half and discuss the issues at hand. Be sure to keep things civil, and be willing to reach compromise. Consider opening a joint account into which you can deposit the bulk of your earnings (say, 90% or so), and split the remaining percentage between two separate accounts. Each spouse will be able to use one of the accounts for whatever they desire, thus eliminating the burden of using joint money for unnecessary purchases.

Remember, your marriage is more important than a few extra bucks spent or saved, so if you find that your money habits are causing problems, be mature about it and be willing to make some changes.

2. Intimacy issues

Much like money, intimacy problems in a relationship may be symptomatic of other existing problems. Although the mainstream media tends to casualise sex, the truth is that the physical act of love is an incredibly intimate experience. If there are issues regarding trust, hurt feelings, resentment, or any number of other issues, then time in the bedroom may become embarrassing, uninteresting, or even downright unpleasant. However, increased sexual activity between partners can also be a way to bridge communication gaps and address some of these other problems. As such, if your schedule doesn’t allow for much spontaneity, then you might consider setting aside a certain amount of time every evening or two for couple intimacy—you’ll be able to work out any friction or kinks that you might have in your marriage with a little kinky friction.

If you find that there are problems associated with the act itself, then there are any number of therapists or websites that you can visit to get a few pointers (just make sure you’ve got your antivirus software running and up to date). Marital aides can also spruce up a humdrum sex life, and if men find that they are having trouble lasting long enough to get the job done, premature ejaculation treatment may be the way to go. And although sex is certainly important, don’t skimp out on the other areas of romance either. Regular date nights, in addition to the everyday kindnesses and compassion that are so important for letting your spouse know you care will also help your marriage last.

3. Children

It’s been argued that the main purpose of marriage is to provide a secure and safe environment in which children can be raised. Unfortunately, some new parents see the arrival of their little ones as the end of youth and the death of their social lives. Well, you know what? To an extent, they’re right. Children require a lot of time and energy, and have a way of demanding your undivided attention for most, if not all, hours of the day. Well, suck it up. When you chose to bring an innocent life into this world, you took on a responsibility that far outweighs your need to stay out late and party. Of course, that’s not to say that you and your spouse couldn’t benefit from a little bit of time away.

Stresses involved with children have a way of wearing down emotions, and because parents (generally) know not to take out their frustration on the kids, they often turn on each other. Instead, plan for some quality away-time where the two of you can catch your breath and recharge. At the same time, be sure that you’re not constantly looking for ways to escape your kids. Plan family activities, and make sure that your children know that you love them and love to be around them. They’ll grow up all too soon, and then you’ll have to beg them to hang out with you. Above all, don’t look at your children as another ‘problem’ that needs to be fixed; see them for what they are: the best and most important parts of your life.

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Posted by Robert Cordray on October 28th, 2013 in Relationships | No comments

28 oct

Transitioning to Self-Employment

JennaSmithA wise friend once told me that the paycheck is the end of ambition. But I wasn’t lacking motivation when I decided to pursue my dreams.

I am analytical and require a plan for everything I do. So the first thing I did was head over to the small Business Administration website to their advice on how to get started. This is what I found out I didn’t know:

· I didn’t realize my business plan would be so comprehensive, including demographics I wanted to target and detailing the organizational structure of my business.

· I underestimated the amount of capital I would need to start my blog.

· I had not thoroughly researched the technology available to me, and I found some small investments I could make to save me time and money in the long run.

Once you’ve decided what you want to do, and you’ve put some thought into a business plan, iron out the back-end so you can launch the right way.

Tax Concerns

The scariest part of my first year was taxes, but the IRS has a rule to help you figure out what you might owe. If your total estimated paid taxes is greater than $1000 you must pay quarterly taxes, so make sure you check the IRS website and get the dates those taxes are due.

Also, get a tax person.

It might seem 1040 EZ to get these forms filled out, but someone with experience in the industry can help you find deductions.

You’ll need to fill out a 1040, and use Schedule C to figure out what you might owe; then apply any self-employment taxes that are applicable in your state. These numbers will all differ based on your income bracket, whether you are married, and what kind of deductions you take.

Savings Accounts

For short term savings accounts, you can use your brick and mortar bank but an online savings account may save you more money. You probably should not transition all banking online, but stashing a few thousand from your savings in an online account earning one percent interest is better than what most banks are offering.

Accessibility and liquidity are huge, so before you start investing, make sure you have a clear idea of how you want to grow your savings. A Roth IRA is a tax-safe method of retirement savings, while CDs can help grow your money in the short term. Read up these options at Schwab.com.

In the meantime, keep an account for your business taxes and payroll account.

Setting a Budget

One of the first lessons you need to learn is how to pay yourself. You should establish a regular payday and stick to it. Pay yourself the same every payday. That’s the hardest part.

From there, it’s all about keeping spreadsheets for things like household income versus spending. If you’re not good with numbers, let your spouse handle the bookkeeping.

Billing Clients

The next difficult aspect of freelancing is getting paid. In a perfect world, all clients would pay on time and you would never have to dispute charges. But this is not a perfect world and sometimes you will need to call people with friendly reminders. Keep your calls short, be subtle and remind the client that work was done and payment is expected.

Use PayPal to send invoices to clients, and utilize the built-in feature to remind customers when an invoice goes unpaid.

Providing Estimates

Providing quotes and estimates for your work will get easier with time. For beginners, review competitive market rates through sites like Glassdoor, Craigslist, Indeed and other job query sites.

Always detail what you are doing and how you are being paid for that time, and get an agreement in writing before you begin the project. Be careful that you do not hand the project over to your client before you are paid for the work, and always act with integrity if you want to keep your clients coming back for more.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on October 28th, 2013 in Career | No comments

24 oct

The 8 Startup Keys to Confidence

Kerrigan2At a recent MIT Enterprise Forum, I was asked for confidence tips to help startups.

For over three decades, I have helped people become more confident and successful at work. Success depends largely on our ability to grow and change without feeling vulnerable or resistant in the process.

Here are 8 key tips to start:

1. Know your value: How does your product or service improve your clients’ or customers’ condition? Many entrepreneurs experience anxiety in selling their ideas, but when you focus outwardly on how you help others, it builds confidence in you, your company and your audience.

2. Be able to convey that value in human terms: Don’t sound like a presentation, resume or speech. Again—think outside yourself. Think of your audience. Use terms to help them envision successful outcomes.

3. Understand that everything is marketing, so become socially savvy: Real business happens face-to-face, so you need to feel confident in building rapport, relationships and trust. These are important with investors and clients, and are the hallmarks of leadership too.

4. Remember that no one succeeds alone: Reach out and up for help. ASK. It’s OK to not know. Success is always a team effort. Whether it’s your family, friends, co-workers, or coach—we all need support. When you get answers, you help yourself, your team and your business. You become a problem solver, not a problem generator.

5. Learn self control: Confidence comes from self control. You cannot control what happens to you. The only thing you can control is you—your thoughts and how you react to things. Also, learn to release control of those things at which you don’t excel. That’s how you build teams and business.

6. Trust instinct and common sense over technology: Hone and use your ability to interact. To listen and comprehend. To read a room and the street. Don’t let handheld devices replace your instinct, and allow social media to replace social grace, and distraction to replace engagement.

7. Kick the perfection addiction: The wonderful–and terrible–thing about technology is that you can make changes easily, so don’t over-think, over-analyze and over-finesse everything. Move forward by prioritizing according to the revenue line, market share, and customer satisfaction.

8. Believe in yourself: Confidence comes from the inside out. If you don’t believe in you and your company, how can you expect others to? One great saying is, “The first sale is to yourself.” Amen.

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert in workplace success who helps growing businesses and private clients develop the practical skills and confidence they need for high performance and productivity. Based on her 25 years’ leadership experience, Michelle provides an invaluable road map for conquering fear and doubt, navigating change, and solving day-to-day challenges. This results in higher efficiency, improved leadership and teamwork, and stronger professional and revenue growth.

In addition, Michelle writes and speaks on the role self esteem plays in achieving success and produces and hosts a series for public television, Workplace Confidence. More at: www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.michellekerriganinc.com

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Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on October 24th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , ,

24 oct

Furthering Your Career

RobertCordrayWe’ve all been stuck at a dead end job. You go to work, but you don’t like it and you don’t think that it can take you anywhere else in life, right? The problem is that many of us are scared to quit and enter a job market that is shaky at best. Something’s gotta change, and it doesn’t look like you’re leaving your job, anytime soon. It appears that the best way to attack things is to try to climb somehow. But how? There are a few different ways. Let’s investigate:

Go back to school

School is a hassle, I know. It’s expensive, out of the way and you’re oftentimes forced to rely on unreliable people to get things done for you. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement. By furthering your education, you’re opening up career paths that you might not even know about. You’re also forcing your company’s hand to either promote you or give you a raise, both of which are better than your current situation. Ask your boss if they’ll pay for your schooling. You can even opt to audit a class at a local community college and just learn a new skill or opt for some courseware and teach yourself a new skill set in your spare time. Who knows, you might even pick up a new hobby!

Do your best

As cliché as it is, doing the best that you can do at your current position is never a bad option. Maybe the lack of options has you feeling down, and maybe your production level hasn’t been up to snuff. If you perform the best that you can at your current level over a period of time, something is bound to open up. The company might be growing and looking to promote from within, or maybe an executive is looking to retire or move to another company. Either way, if you’re always doing your best, you’ll be noticed and your name will come up as a potential hire for the position. You’ll also need to make sure that your job is being noticed. Sometimes you may be overlooked, but if you are doing a good job, tell your boss. They’re bound to recognize you somehow.

Express interest in a promotion

Doing your best and making sure that you’re being noticed is a good thing, but sometimes it’s not enough. Tell your bosses that you love the company. Tell them that you would like to grow in the company and that you’ll do whatever it takes. You may think that you’re making it obvious by your outstanding work, but sometimes it’s nice to give your superiors a verbal notification too. They’re smart people, but they can’t read your mind. Work hard, tell them that you want to grow, and things will work out.

Be outgoing

Succeeding in your job likely involves being good with people. If you’re outgoing and nice to everyone, people are bound to like you. Being a good people person is a good skill to have in and out of the office. Whether you’re asking a worker to accomplish a task or selling something to a client, having a way with words and treating people in a nice fashion can get you far in life.

Ask questions

Learn something new from your coworkers and bosses. Ask them to teach you a new skill or something about their position. The more you learn about the company, the more valuable you become to them. It also shows your company’s executives that you’re willing to expand your skill set and learn new things. All of that is very valuable and necessary in order to get a raise or a promotion.

Don’t get discouraged at your current job. There are ways that you can get around your dead end job. Work hard, study up on the company and your position, and execute it to the best of your ability. Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to business success.


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Posted by Robert Cordray on October 24th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No comments

16 oct

Make Change an Evolution, Not a Revolution

MaricleMaricle3A young woman was telling me recently how torn she feels about whether or not to leave her boyfriend. They have been together for years, but now they spend less time together, he isn’t supportive, doesn’t like her friends, and gets jealous when she wants to go out without him. Should she leave him? Sounds like a no brainer, right?

Not really.

Each one of us follows a set of routines and habits that make up what we think of as our “reality.”

Consider this: there’s a consistent pattern to how you get ready in the morning, when and how you contact friends and family, where you get coffee, and where you go out for fun. What I am suggesting is that this young woman’s current habits make her boyfriend seem like integral part of her life. She texts him, talks to him, and may hang out with him on the weekend. Despite the fact that they no longer get along, they have habits that keep them connected. She is uncomfortable with their lack of connection, but the habits of their relationship are still comfortable, and therefore she has not changed them yet.

Because our habits and routines are so ingrained, we don’t have to consciously think about them.

This creates the sense that our reality is fixed, when in truth, it’s highly impacted by our habits.

Someone who is outgoing and seeks adventure likely has a different view of themselves and the world than a person who is a homebody. However, if either of these people wanted to change, a first step might be to slightly shift a habit or two.

As our experiences, interactions, and what we see changes, so does our perspective, and therefore our behavior and feelings.

If you think you want to change something, you might experiment with shifting one small habit and see what you notice.

For example, this young woman might be subtly avoiding conversations with men in order to not anger her jealous boyfriend. Perhaps she might experiment in low-pressure situations with making small talk, such as with the barista who makes her coffee, or the man in the elevator. She might notice that these men are kind to her and make her laugh. She might even feel desirable. Wouldn’t that experience shift her view of herself and her “reality?”

Sometimes change is simply peeking around the corner to see what else is there. We tend to think of change as big, sudden, and sweeping, but frequently change is more evolution than revolution. We have to prime ourselves for change through mini exposures to new experiences. This allows us to experiment slowly, deciding what we like and don’t, therefore incurring minimal risk. That’s a change most of us could tolerate.

DISCLAIMER: This information is not a substitute for professional psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content provided by Maricle Counseling and Amy Maricle, LMHC, ATR-BC is intended for general information purposes only. Never disregard professional medical or psychological advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you read here.

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Posted by Amy Maricle on October 16th, 2013 in Career, Health, New Directions, Relationships | No comments Read related posts in , ,

16 oct

The Future of Viruses: Smartphone Malware On the Rise

RobertCordrayIn less than a decade, smartphones have gone from being nonexistent to just about the only phones on the market. And with each new development, they are becoming smarter and smarter, and a more and more essential part of our lives — but up until now we all sort of took it for granted that a smartphone is secure. After all, who ever heard of a phone with a virus? However, as is natural with something that is so widespread, hackers have started to take advantage and figure out ways to infiltrate handheld devices.

In fact, the lack of security on most smartphones has made this a big problem in recent years, and one that is only getting worse. It makes sense — how many people do you know with the threat intelligence to put antivirus protection on their phone? And since most of us use our phones far more than we use our computers, we put them at greater risk to increasingly advanced malware.

Need proof? NQ Mobile released a study that they conducted of malware threats in the last few years. In 2009, there were only 1,649 malware discoveries. In 2010, it rose to 6,760, but in 2011 it jumped up to an incredible 24,794 discoveries, and incase you think that it might plateau, consider that the next year, 2012, saw 65,227 discoveries of malware, which means if anything it is only getting worse. What is more, the United States is the fourth most infected country, behind China, India and Russia.

And although brand loyalty is all the rage right now, don’t think that your favorite operating system will save you. Apple’s iOS, Microsoft Windows, and Google Android all have certain protections in place for their users, but the cyberattack evolution means that they are no longer enough.


You might be tempted to turn to certain apps in order to get greater protection for your device, but be careful, as many of these apps are designed specifically to trick you into downloading them and perhaps even entering personal information that will be used by hackers to steal your money or identity. As a result, anti-malware protection is not enough. You need to be aware of all of the ways in which hackers might attack your device. Here are some to watch out for:


  • Phishing - it might be spelled differently, but fishing is not far from the methodology used for this sort of attack. The hackers will try to “catch” you through trick emails and links that appear legitimate. On phones, hackers might also try to bait you with fake apps that will serve little or no purpose, but steal your information.

  • Denial of Service – Denial of Service (DoS) attacks are cyberattacks that flood all areas of a network, computer, or device, and prevent you from using any services such as email, online accounts, websites and so on. Hackers may use your device to carry out such attacks on others. Antivirus software is the best way to prevent such attacks.

  • Vulnerable Apps - make sure that you are only downloading secure and reputable apps. Even if they are not fake apps developed by hackers, hackers may use certain apps on your device to get into your private information. Double check the reliability of any app that stores any of your personal information.

There are many other ways that hackers can attack your smartphone, and they are coming up with new techniques everyday. If you want to protect your identity and private information, it is a good idea to look into getting the necessary protection for your mobile device, from a trusted source.

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Posted by Robert Cordray on October 16th, 2013 in Technology | No comments

16 oct

3 Ways to Get a Free College Education

RobertCordrayIf a degree is what you’re after, then going to college is really the only way you’re going to get it. After all, many companies won’t even take a look at your resume unless it includes a reference to college graduation in easy to read letters across the first page. However, that little piece of paper doesn’t come cheap. In fact, some college educations can end up costing more than $60,000 per year. On the other hand, there are ways to get the same level of know-how without having to pay a dime. It may sound like a fairy tale, but the reality is that if you know where to look, you can get a top-notch education for free. Here are three ways to get a college level education, without having to pay college level costs.

1. Go to Antioch College

Antioch College is a private liberal arts college in Ohio that was founded in 1850. Beginning in 2012 and continuing on through 2014, Antioch will waive all tuition fees for any new enrolling students for the entire four years of their college career, through the Horace Mann Fellowship. This is being done in an effort to attract students because as the college has recently fallen on hard times. It was forced to close its doors in 2008, but thanks to help from dedicated alumni, it was able to renovate itself and reopen in 2011. So, if you’d like to go to college but you don’t know how you’ll ever get the money together, then this may be your shot. Just hurry, because 2014 isn’t far off at all.

2. Consider financial aid

If you come from a low income family, it’s generally possible to receive help with tuition, housing, supplies, etc., all through the school itself. However, most of the time this means that you’ll still be paying for a portion of the costs. But if your family earns less than $60,000, you may qualify for a completely free education. Many Ivy League schools offer free tuition to low income students. Some schools may still have you work off the money in jobs around the college, and others may also require you to pay for living expenses, but compared to the full price of four years at the university, those are small sacrifices to make.

3. Online

Both of the above options are fine ways to get a diploma without having to sell all of your possessions just to scrape together enough cash. If, on the other hand, all that you’re really after is knowledge, then you have a few other options. The Internet is an amazing thing; it basically contains the to3 Ways to get a free college education

tal sum of all human knowledge and is almost totally open and accessible to anyone with a computer. Just by spending a few hours a day on sites like Wikipedia and YouTube, you could learn enough a tremendous amount about any given subject. Of course, if you need something a bit more structured, many colleges offer free open courseware. That means that many of the classes they offer, including texts, lectures, and tests, are available online through the university website. You can “enroll” in them and start learning whenever you feel like, at no cost at all. These may not give you any certification, but they’ll sure help you get that free education you’ve been wanting.


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Posted by Robert Cordray on October 16th, 2013 in Career, Finances, New Directions | No comments