Archive for December, 2013

19 dec

6 Ways to Find a New Primary Care Doctor

RobertCordrayOne of the most important decisions you can make for yourself and your family has to do with choosing the right doctor. As such, it’s not a decision to be made lightly. After all, there’s so much riding on the decision and so many different factors to consider that many people would rather put off the choice for as long as possible. However, many people have absolutely no idea where they should even be looking to find a new doctor. These people may often settle on the first doctor that they find, completely unaware that other options are available. So, in an effort to give these people (and anyone else who might be interested) a better chance at finding a doctor that is perfect for their situations, here are six different ways to find a new doctor beyond wandering into the first office you come across.

1. Ask the people you trust

If your friends, extended family, or other loved-ones that live in your area are satisfied with their doctors, then ask around and see if you can get any good references. You might end up simplifying the entire process if you can get a great referral right off the bat.

2. Check online reviews

If you’re not getting anywhere with the people you know, extend your search outwards to include reviews from people you don’t know. The internet is a great tool when it comes to finding the right doctor, in part because you can use it to find sites that post patient reviews and ratings of doctors. They’re generally easy to use—simply provide your location and what kind of doctor you’re looking for (“primary care doctor in phoenix,” for example), and see what kind of returns you get. Alternately, you can search for reviews on specific doctors and see what previous patients have to say. ZocDoc, Patientfusion and Yelp are good places to look for reviews on your local doctors.

3. Use a hospital referral service

If you want to know where to find a good doctor, you might as well go straight to the source. The hospital is absolutely chock-full of people who know more about medicine than you do, so checking to see if they offer a doctor referral service makes perfect sense. If they do, the hospital will be able to put you in contact with a doctor that is not only well qualified and highly rated, but is also nearby. If your hospital doesn’t offer a doctor referral service, then consider asking the staff for personal recommendations.

4. Request a list of covered doctors from your insurance provider

You’d have to involve your insurance provider in your decision eventually, so you may as well just start with them. Your insurance company will be able to give you a list of which doctors are covered. Once you have a few names, you can do a little research and look for reviews.

5. Ask your current doctor

If you’re going to be moving and need to find a good doctor in a new area, consider asking your current doctor if he or she knows and could recommend anyone. There’s a good chance that your current doctor may have a trusted colleague or friend to which you could be referred. Even if your doctor doesn’t have anyone in mind, he or she might still be willing to do some checking around for you in order to find someone who will meet your needs.

6. Check the phonebook

This probably shouldn’t be the first place you look, but if none of your other attempts at finding the right doctor have panned out, then the phonebook (or its internet-based equivalent) can at least give you another path to follow. Just be sure that you do all of the necessary follow-up research once you find a few promising names. After all, just because a doctor has an advertisement in the yellow pages, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s the right choice. Only use the yellow pages as a starting point, and follow up with a more thorough investigation afterwards.

Finding a doctor can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. With a little effort and lot’s of patience, you’ll be able to locate the right primary care doctor for you and your family. Let’s just hope that you don’t have to move again any time soon…

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Posted by Robert Cordray on December 19th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No comments

19 dec

How to Become a Natural Leader

JennaSmithPeople aren’t born leaders – they become them. Like many other life skills, leadership is something you learn; with the right tools and education, anyone can master the four components of true leadership:

  • Effective communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Ethical reasoning
  • Goal setting

If you work on cultivating these four key areas, you will soon find yourself increasing your natural ability to lead and guide others. Whether you hope to use leadership skills to motivate a team at work, or to help mentor young people in a youth group, you will quickly find that improving your leadership abilities helps increase your groups’ results. Being a leader, after all, isn’t about bossing people around or telling them what to do; it’s about working together to get a job done.

Here are a few recommendations to improve your leadership skills:

1. Take a leadership course

There are numerous, highly effective leadership courses available, from the Dale Carnegie leadership course to the leadership development program offered by the Army and Navy Academy. Whether you are a student, a working adult, or a full-time parent, there are leadership courses that fit your schedule and your budget. Look for courses that focus on the four components of effective leadership listed above.

2. Engage in specific activities to build leadership strengths

There are specific activities that help build each of the four primary leadership strengths. For instance, to build your communication skills, try playing the Mine Field Game:

  • · Blindfold a partner and verbally lead him or her through a “mine field” of small objects
  • · If the partner touches one of the objects, you lose the game
  • · If you communicate well, helping your partner avoid the mines and reach the other side, then you both win!

3. Seek out opportunities to lead

Leadership education means nothing unless it is paired with tangible, real-world opportunities. If you are a student, see if you can lead an initiative in student government or in your residence hall association. If you are in the workforce, ask if you can take a leadership role on a project or on one of your company’s committees. Then, use your leadership skills to unify your team around the pursuit of a common goal – and work together to accomplish that goal.

4. Mentor a young person (or seek out an adult mentor)

The teenager/adult mentor relationship is invaluable for building leadership skills, and both the young person and the adult learn how to be better leaders through the process. When you join a mentor relationship, both the mentor and the pupil are able to bring new perspectives to problem solving and goal setting. The young person learns from the adult’s experience, and the adult learns from the teenagers’ fresh perspectives. Both complete the mentor relationship ready to take these new skills back to their peer teams and become more effective leaders as a result.

5. Stand up for an important cause

One way to quickly become a leader is to stand up for an important cause. Maybe you’re a student who wants to improve school lunch quality, like Martha Payne of Never Seconds. Maybe you want your company to institute a better recycling program. Maybe you want your community to build a new park where children can play. If you find a cause in which you truly believe, you often do the work of building leadership skills without even thinking about it.

It’s easy to become a “natural leader”—all you need is an understanding of what makes a leader, and consistently practicing each of leadership’s four key areas.

Leadership education is key to living a successful life, so explore opportunities to build your leadership skills and then seize real-world opportunities in your life to lead.

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Posted by Jenna Smith on December 19th, 2013 in Career, New Directions | No comments Read related posts in ,

14 dec

5 Misconceptions Regarding Online Holiday Shopping

RobertCordrayWith a lot of people going crazy with their holiday shopping, many of us are stuck looking for the best deals and the hottest items without having to deal with the large crowds, cold weather and congested parking lots. It’s not always easy to find a solution to our holiday shopping problems, either. Most people think that the quickest and easiest solution to their holiday shopping woes is to shop online. While that may be true in many circumstances, it is not always the answer.

It doesn’t matter if you’re using high speed wi-fi or even an SSL proxy to help you or your clients during the holiday shopping season, you still need to fully understand how online shopping works. There are certainly pros to getting your holiday shopping done online, but there are a lot things that people don’t completely understand. Here are five common misconceptions of online holiday shopping.

There Are Still Lines

Even when you do your shopping online, there’s a chance you will still have to wait in a line. Especially if you’re doing your shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday when there are a lot of other online deal hunters, you might have to wait in a line to check out or to enter the site. It’s a lot better than standing out in the cold, hoping to get into a store that may or may not have the product you want, but it’s still going to require a time commitment from you.

The Site Might Not Have Your Product

After waiting in those lines and having thousands of people checkout before you, the product you want might not even be available. Many of the most popular items aren’t sufficiently stocked in stores or on the internet, and lots of holiday shoppers are left scrambling to find a way to get the can’t-miss item of the year. Just because you’re shopping online and can’t see the crowd that is shopping with you, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a crowd there. There are plenty of people online who are looking for the same item as you. Get to the site as soon as deals and discounts are applicable, and hope for the best.

Sizing And Style

This is a problem more with clothes than anything else. While the pictures may look nice, you never know how something is going to fit on you, the color and lighting of the pictures might make it look one way, but when it arrives on your doorstep it looks completely different. This can also be a problem with electronics. It’s probably a better idea to go look at electronics before you actually purchase them. You’ll know the exact size of what you’re buying, plus you’ll have the advantage of looking at and feeling the product before you actually purchase it. While many people understand this factor of online shopping, it’s still considered a common misconception.

Shipping

When you buy something over the internet, it doesn’t just magically show up the next day. It could take over a week to get to you, assuming that the whole shipping process works out perfectly. Your order could be lost and could take longer than you anticipate it to. If you want it to arrive in a timely manner, you’re going to have to pay for it. You might even have to pay for it regardless of when it arrives. The price that the website is showing you is seldom the price that you’ll actually pay.

Selection

You may see something that you love in a store, but can’t purchase it for whatever reason. You figure that they will have it online, so you go online, search for the product and it’s not there. Oftentimes there is a wider selection online, but that isn’t guaranteed. You might be looking for a product or a color that is in-store only, or that the warehouse has run out of. You may have a larger selection, but that selection doesn’t matter if they don’t have what you want.

Good luck this holiday season, and enjoy your shopping.

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Posted by Robert Cordray on December 14th, 2013 in Technology | No comments

14 dec

Rehab: A Matter of Attitude

RobertCordrayIn the U.S., one in every 12 adults suffers from alcohol dependency. In addition to that, tens of millions of Americans suffer from addictions to illegal drugs, prescription medication, and even over-the-counter chemical substances. Alcohol claims approximately 2.5 million lives every year worldwide, while illegal drug-use results in about 200,000 additional deaths around the planet in the same amount of time.

There’s no way around it—chemical dependency is a very real danger. However, there are steps that addicts can take to try to get their lives back on track. One of those steps involves enrolling in a drug rehabilitation clinic.

Drug rehab clinics provide intensely structured routines, safe and soothing environments, and personal therapy, in the hopes of helping chemically dependant individuals overcome their addictions. But are these centers really the shining beacons of hope that they’re supposed to be, or are they just revolving-door resorts that offer no real results?

It’s a question worth investigating. After all, when one sees drug-addicted celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan ducking into rehab clinics on an almost monthly basis just to keep from having to serve jail time, it tends to tarnish the overall reputation of the establishments themselves.

The answer, however, is not a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ For one thing, every addict is a unique individual, with unique dependencies and triggers. What works for treating one person may have absolutely no effect on another. With that in mind, it becomes important to recognize that no treatment is 100% effective when dealing with addiction. And the fact is that many who enter rehab come out of it no better off than they were at the beginning. So, what is the deciding factor in whether or not a rehabilitation program will be successful?

Well, those who’ve managed to defeat their chemical addictions will tell you that it all comes down to one hard-to-master point: attitude.

Rehabilitation will only work for those who are serious and determined enough to do their part. Those who enter rehab unwillingly, or who go through the motions but secretly scoff at the procedures, will simply find that their addictions are waiting for them on the outside. At the same time, there are those who enter rehab with a desire to make a real change in their lives, only to get discouraged and give up on the program when things get hard. It is the will to conquer and the determination to reach a difficult goal that makes all the difference in drug rehab. For those who are willing to give it all that they’ve got, drug rehabilitation really does work.

If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction, consider one of the country’s fine rehabilitation clinics. Do some online research, read about the personal experiences of others who have fought their dependencies and won. Take control of your life, make a commitment, and kick your habit before it destroys everything you care about. After all, the only thing standing between you and freedom is a choice. Choose to confront your problems head on, and choose to do so with the right attitude. The road may turn out to be difficult, but when you come to the end of it and look back on all that you’ve accomplished, and you gaze forward towards the years of freedom stretching out before you, you’ll be thankful that you chose to walk it. Because, when it comes to overcoming addiction, rehab is the best way to go—as long as you have the right attitude.

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Posted by Robert Cordray on December 14th, 2013 in Health, New Directions | No comments Read related posts in ,

05 dec

Three Financial Surprises in a Divorce Case

JaredDiamond

Divorce is one of the most significant financial challenges that some people may ever face. Many people anticipate some of the major financial costs involved in a divorce, such as alimony payments and child support payments. There are a number of other economic costs that many times are either underestimated or totally unaccounted for.

James Evans, a divorce attorney in Austin, spends a great deal of his time preparing clients for all the financial impacts of a divorce. “Many people appreciate the short-term hard costs, the ones that show up on your bank statement in the first three or four months,” he says. “But there are some other costs that are lost in the shuffle, probably because divorce is such an emotional and financial shock.” Mr. Evans tries to schedule at least one appointment with every client at which money matters are the sole item on the agenda. “A lot of what I try to do is create awareness, as well as remind my clients to plan ahead,” concludes Austin-based divorce attorney, James Evans.

Legal fees

Many people do not realize how quickly legal fees can mount up. Mediation can be an important way to slash both the length of time in the case’s life-cycle and the actual dollar costs: one study found that mediation may reduce time by up to 860 days and the actual bill by up to $9,500.00. Think for a moment about all the things you can do with that much time and that much money.

The cost savings is directly proportional to the mediator’s success rate. When mediating a divorce, try to use an attorney-mediator with experience in family law if at all possible.

Credit score

Although divorce itself is a legal proceeding which has no impact on your credit score, the financial impact of divorce on a credit score can be significant:

  • Many people do not understand that the divorce only transfers legal title of the property in question. Assume that Mike and Jenny bought a house together during the marriage; they are co-borrowers on the note. Jenny may have received legal title to the house, but Mike remains on the note. If Jenny falls behind on the payments, the bank may very well come after Mike for the delinquent amount.
  • Other spouses understand this dynamic all too well, and use it as a weapon against an ex-spouse. If Mike was angry at Jenny for whatever reason, Mike may stop making payments on a joint credit account to ruin Jenny’s credit rating.

Consider re-financing joint debt to remove an ex-spouse’s name from the note, both to avoid future liability for the other person’s missed payments and shield yourself against a vindictive ex-spouse. If refinancing is not an option, remember that you have the right to add an explanation to any negative item on your credit report. Explain that the negative reference is due to a divorce and that you are an innocent victim in the matter.

Asset depreciation

A dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow, and some people fail to properly account for this maxim in a divorce property settlement. The tradeoff between spousal support payments and equity in a capital asset is a good example. Rental property that is worth $100,000 today may be worth substantially less in five or ten years, because inflation erodes the equity, so spousal support payments should be high enough to compensate for the difference.

By identifying and reacting to financial realities before they become financial problems, transition to single life can be much easier financially.

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Posted by Jared Diamond on December 5th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No comments