Archive for May, 2013

30 may

Your Online Information: Is It Really Private and Safe?

RobertCordrayWith today’s technology it’s easier than ever to surf the web, keep in touch with friends and family, purchase goods online, and do all sorts of things anywhere and at anytime — simply by touching the screen on a smartphone. However, quick access and easy navigation can create a false sense of security that our personal online information is always private and secure.

Truth is, as the tools and techniques of computer hacking become more sophisticated, experiencing a security breech on your computer that puts your private and personal information at risk is probably only a matter of time. Here’s a look at some simple safeguards you can take to help insure that your sensitive information remains as safe and private as possible.

Rethink Social Media Safety

You may think your information is private and safe on social networking sites. You may also assume that when you post pictures, status updates, or details about your family vacation, that this information is only being shared with those you know. But you would be wrong. A case in point is Facebook, which has begun selling access to its users personal information. For a price, companies can sift through Facebook’s base of 900 million members, pulling out email addresses, phone numbers, and other personal bits of information, all to help them create more targeted advertising. Search engines such as Google also pull information from social networking sites, and that information could come up during searches of your name. When using social media it’s critical to understand that whatever you share, including the dates you’ll be away from home on vacation — burglars love this — becomes public domain.

Reconsider Cell Phone Security

With mobile apps for just about everything, our smartphones allow us to shop, bank, navigate, email, and connect on social media while we’re on the go. But the downside is, unlike our computers, smartphones do not come equipped with antiviral software, which can mean easy access for hackers. So we really need to think before conducting online transactions with our smartphones. Another area of security concern is the apps that we download. More and more apps have been found to contain advanced malware, which is difficult to detect without antivirus or malware programs on phones.

We also need to pay attention to the permissions requested by common phone applications, as we are allowing access to our personal information — such as who is calling us, who we call, where we are located, and possibly even what we are doing on the internet. It’s a good idea to look over the requested permissions for every application to make sure you are not granting access to things you want kept private. Finally, most smart phones are equipped with GPS and many users don’t realize that when they post images online those images contain geo-tags, which are embedded by the smartphone. These geo-tags give out your location even down to your address, which can make you vulnerable and could potentially put you in danger.

Reevaluate Email

With recent increases in email hacking, it’s important to reevaluate the content of your emails to make sure you’re not including sensitive information. Generally hackers will gain access to send spam to your contact list. But a hacked email account could be an indication that there may be a key logger program or other program on your computer, which could potentially give out passwords to banking sites and other important pieces of information.

Remember that you should never send credit card information, social security numbers or other sensitive information through your email. Should a hack occur, run a scan of your system immediately and change all of your passwords — making sure that the new passwords incorporate numbers with upper and lower case letters for highest security.

Reenlist Safety Software

Viruses used to primarily be a threat to computer performance. Now our personal information — even our very identities — are being targeted by criminals and hackers. It’s imperative to install an up-to-date anti-malware program on your computer and do regular scans for viruses, malware and spyware to ensure that your sensitive information remains private and protected.

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Posted by Robert Cordray on May 30th, 2013 in General, New Directions, Technology | No comments

30 may

Gifting Responsibly

JennaSmithGifting gives me great pleasure. I like to get everyone something special for their celebrate their day. I’m the kind of gal who comes back from a trip to with a suitcase full of souvenirs to give to my mom, my mentors, and my mailman. I never worried about cost, giving feels so good and generous. Until one day when taking a look at my credit card statement I realized I nearly gifted myself into the poorhouse!

I learned my lesson the hard way: moderation in everything, even generosity. Giving beyond my means stretched my budget thin for a little while. Now I approach gift giving more sensibly. I still aim to please. Now instead of simply swiping a card at the store, I exercise a little more creativity and spending smarts to show people that I care.

Opt For Experience

While I once felt pressure to pile my nieces with the latest in toys, now I focus on giving them an experience they never forget. I give them “Auntie Day Outs,” we’ll hit a nature reserve, fly a kite, and have a picnic. My area is full of low cost and free activities for families and kids and I take full advantage of it.

Spending these days together has truly enriched our relationships. The one on one time gives me a chance to get to know the girls. They both are so creative and so funny! And so different–the youngest loves to go on long hikes or bike rides; the oldest always want to go to the main library or the history museum. The experience and memories we make far outshines the thrill of them tearing paper off something they might get bored with in a week!

Bargain Hunt

I never even used to look at price tags. I guess I thought it made me seem wealthy. Now you can’t stand between me and a good bargain. I keep my eyes open for great deals when I go out, and make sure to check clearance racks and sale piles. I swear I have a talent for making exactly what I want appear at half price. The trick is to stare really hard.

Of course, the internet makes find deals a snap. I find amazing sales all the time online. I recently found great coupon codes for gift baskets to send to my aunt who lives on the other side of the country. I sent her a Breakfast & Bubbles gift set that fit exactly within my spending budget once I applied the code.


I make a lot of gifts at home know. I have to be careful though because making my own gifts can easily get as expensive as buying them. Handmade gifts are especially good for things like holiday gift giving because it is easy to make a lot of little trinkets at once. Lately I hand print sets of coasters.

I also started making my own greeting cards to send for holidays. Part of reducing my gift spending means that certain people on my list only get a card. Hand making each card allows me to personalize and ensure that the recipient still gets something special.

Gift giving still makes me happy, and I still allot space in my budget to make sure I can afford to be generous. I stick to the budget, though. It allows me to give presents responsibly!

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Posted by Jenna Smith on May 30th, 2013 in Family, Finances, Personal Stories | No comments

30 may

5 Tips to Help in the Battle for Sobriety

RobertCordrayThe decision to go to an alcohol rehabilitation center is the most important thing an alcoholic can do to set the foundation for a more successful future. Everyone has heard of the guy (or girl) that is constantly going in and out of long term drug rehab. Alcoholism is a disease, but it can be cured if the person with the problem takes the right attitude and approach into their rehabilitation. Here are five tips that can help successfully beat the addiction:

Approach recovery day-by-day, step-by-step. Every recovering alcoholic needs to have the desire to stay sober forever, but if this is their only concrete goal they will probably be overwhelmed. The better approach is to start small, with incremental and measurable goals. For example, on day one of rehab make the goal that you won’t drink the entire day or the entire week, depending on your current drinking habits. Stay positive, even when you relapse and immediately focus on hitting another rehabilitation benchmark.
Enlist the help of a support network. During rehab the support network can be developed among others that are also in rehab, as well as the counselors, therapists and other support personnel at the rehab center. After leaving the rehab center this support network becomes even more important. Enlist the help of friends and family and those in the twelve-step meeting. If all else fails a drug and alcohol abuse hotline can also offer support.

Bring an item of inspiration or comfort with you. Overcoming an addiction is difficult. It is amazing the emotional support that an item full of sentimental value or something that is particularly can be. This could be a picture of family or possibly a picture of a beautiful place in the world that the person can visit once the addiction is overcome. A favorite book or movie or even article of clothing can also work well.
Do not expect to be perfect, a recovering addict won’t always have the same desire or attitude. It does not matter how much they want to become sober, occasionally everybody falters emotionally.

When this happens the idea of indulging may sometimes seem like the only desirable thing in the world. Do not worry. These thoughts are normal and these cravings can be overcome. This is why a strong support network and personal items of comfort are so essential. Remember the presence of a craving does not mean it has to be acted upon.
Network. Network. Network. Before leaving the alcohol rehab center they should make sure to get local referrals so that treatment can continue. Depending on which therapies work best, like acupuncture or acupressure, they should get the telephone number or addresses of places that offer those services so that when a craving hits they will know exactly where to go for stress relief. They should also get a referral for a local therapist, twelve-step group and any other group that will be needed to build a strong support network. Another option is to live in a sober living home, which is a place that recently released recovering alcoholics can go for mutual support.

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 Robert Cordray on May 30th, 2013 in Health, Uncategorized | No comments

17 may

Ariane’s Four Talks on Change

ArianedeBonvoisinHello! I’ve just added to YouTube four (4) videos that I wanted to share on Navigating Change. Some of them are nice and short, only five minutes long. If you’ve got a cup of tea and your journal, you can watch the hour-long talk I recently gave on “The 9 Principles of Change,” to a group of 500 executives. I cover personal, professional, health, family, relationship and financial changes. Enjoy and please share with anyone you know who is going through a change, thinking about a change, struggling or helping someone else with a change!

Click here to view Ariane’s Overview of Change.

Click here to view Ariane’s Questions about Change.

Click here to view Ariane’s The First Principle of Change.

Click here to view Ariane’s The 9 Principles of Change.

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 Ariane de Bonvoisin on May 17th, 2013 in Ariane, Career, Diet and Fitness, Family, Finances, Global/Social Change, Health, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality | No comments

16 may

For Women Who Want to Be Leaders: Change Begins and Ends with You

Kerrigan2Recently, I attended a symposium focused on women entrepreneurs. The big questions were: Why aren’t there more women entrepreneurs? More women CEOs? More women at the top?

Of course, the first target of discussion was men. They are the problem.

Ladies—this is wrong and you know it.

As I listened to cries of “men don’t treat us as equals in the board room”, and “they don’t take us seriously,” the first reason came to mind: it’s how we perceive ourselves that matters. Trust me, I’ve chaired enough high powered meetings where I’ve been the only woman, and, anyone who knows me knows I can hold my own. That’s because I don’t look around the room and say—“wow, these are all high-powered men.” I just see them as colleagues, teammates, equals.

We are never a minority, unless we think like one.

So, change #1: Think of yourself as an equal. Stop walking into the board room with preconceived ideas, a chip on your shoulder, or looking for differences. We are all created equal.

Now—back to the meeting….. While there was a loud cry of inequality, a female law partner, who headed the panel, told a different story.

This woman spoke of her experience as an associate moving up the ranks, always being backstabbed by other women associates. She vowed that when she made it big, she would help other women, because she knew what it felt like to be hurt. I’ve seen her in action. She kept her promise.

Moral of the story: once you storm the citadel, don’t shut the gates behind you.

Which brings me to change #2: Women need to be better team players. Maybe the guys have an advantage because they’ve played more team sports as kids. I’m not sure. I am sure that leaders need to be exemplary team players. In some of the talks I’ve given, we’ve discussed great attributes of team players, and how to assess ourselves. The top descriptions are: reliable, supportive, positive, adaptable and accessible. Does this describe you? If it doesn’t, then remember: the only person you control is you. Your thoughts. Your behavior. That’s how you become a better you, a better teammate, a better leader.

And this brings me to change #3: We need to stop trying to change, correct—or should I say, “fix”—other people. C’mon—if you have a husband, boyfriend, or significant other, you know what I’m talking about.

I was just in a creative seminar where we were broken out into groups. My group contained four men, one other woman, and me. Our task was to come up with our own book titles, and then help each other develop chapters. We were to get our creative juices flowing by collaboration and free thinking—no editing our thoughts. The guys shared ideas without any judgment. Then the other woman chimed in. Many of her ideas were great, but, she spoiled it by constantly criticizing the way I spoke. She told me not to start any of my sentences with the word “but”, and constantly interrupted my creative flow by trying to correct me. But, I wasn’t looking for her to change me. I was looking for her to help me.

You see, no matter how much we might try, the only people we can control and change are ourselves. We can’t control men, the world, injustice and bad things that happen to us. The only things we have power over are our own thoughts and actions.

Taking control of ourselves in a more supportive and less critical way gives us more confidence and self esteem. That’s what it’s really all about.

When we change ourselves for the better, and feel good about who we are, there are no barriers. Positive change begins and ends with us. And there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it!

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan. All Rights Reserved.

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert consultant and coach who specializes in helping clients achieve workplace success by developing the practical skills they need to improve their confidence, performance and productivity. More at and

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Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on May 16th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

16 may

What to Expect When You’re in Rehab

RobertCordrayThey say that when it comes to drug addiction, the hardest part is admitting that you have a problem. That may or may not be true, but whatever the case, once you’re willing to work to change your life, you’re at least facing in the right direction. If you’ve become addicted to dangerous substances, this might mean making the decision to enroll yourself in a drug rehabilitation program. But even though rehab may be the only viable path back to a happy life free of chemical dependency, many sufferers chose not to attend because they have no idea what to expect. In 2009, only 2.6 million—11.2 percent of those who needed treatment—chose to enroll at a specialty facility. So, for those who think that rehab might be the answer, here’s a quick rundown of what’s waiting for you when you decide to seek professional help in fighting your addiction.

First off, rehab isn’t nearly as prison-like as it is often depicted on film and television; you’re not going to be wrapped in a straightjacket and locked in a padded room until the chemicals have left your system. In fact, one thing that many people don’t realize is that every person who enrolls in reab is free to leave at any time. Honestly, you can just grab your things and walk out the door. Even if you’ve been ordered by a judge to attend rehab, you can still leave. Of course, there may be consequences that you’ll have to deal with (including possible jail-time), but at no point will a guard tackle you and drag you screaming back into your room.

Once you arrive, you’ll be be interviewed by a counselor so that the medical staff can assess what kind of treatment will work best for you. Remember, these people are trying to help you, so the more information you can give them the better. Now is not the time to be guarded or embarrassed; be totally honest with them and don’t omit anything. Certain medical tests, such as blood work or urine tests might also be required. This process will not only allow the center to determine the best approach to helping you overcome your addiction, but will also let them know how long your treatment should be.

The next step involves removing the drugs from your system. This is commonly known as detoxification. This can be done a variety of different ways. Often times medications are used to help the patient come down from the chemical dependency slowly, so that withdrawal symptoms don’t become too intense. Other facilities may take the “cold turkey” approach, and simply provide the patient with a safe and monitored environment in which to weather the storm. However, many clinics are actually requiring that a patient detoxify before being allowed to enroll.

Detoxification is an important step in overcoming addiction, but it is not the only step. Detoxification by itself is not treatment. There are more components to addiction than just the physical dependency. Drug addiction (and alcohol is as much of a drug as anything that can be snorted, smoked, or injected) also occurs in the mind. So, the next step at most rehab centers is one that focuses on education. The patient is trained to recognize his or her addiction for what it really is. It is at this stage that patient-denial is confronted and defeated. Patients are also taught about the physical impact that drug use has upon their bodies, and are forced to confront the reality of the effect drug use has on family and society.

Next, you can probably count on therapy sessions designed to teach you how to function normally without drugs. These sessions may be held on an individual basis (one-on-one with a trained counselor), or in a group setting. Group sessions will allow you to recognize that you’re not alone in your struggle, and will also give you a chance to connect with and support/be supported by others who are facing similar problems.

Additionally, studies have shown that including family members in the treatment process significantly increases the likelihood that a patient will be able to remain clean and sober. Not only does it help to have the support of loved ones, but it is also important that the family members be educated as to the best ways to help you get well.

Once your time in the rehab center is over, you’ll still be expected to continue the program on your own. Your counselor may recommend additional, regular therapy sessions or medical treatment. You’ll be expected to be able to recognize and avoid situations that may trigger a relapse.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about rehab is that the staff is there to help you. They want you to be comfortable, and they hope to see you make a full recovery, so don’t fight them. Trust in their expertise, and always keep your eye on the prize. A sober life is possible, but you’ll have to work for it.

About the Author: Hyrum Taffer is a freelance writer with a great deal of experience in drug addiction/recovery. After counseling in an Arkansas drug rehab and gaining much personal experience and a lot of research, Hyrum became dedicated to help others benefit from his writing.

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Posted by Robert Cordray on May 16th, 2013 in Health, New Directions | No comments

04 may

Workplace Confidence: Quick Tips in Career Confidence

Kerrigan2I spoke at SUNY Purchase recently, and it was painfully obvious how much students need help as they get ready to enter the corporate world.

So, here are a few quick tips from that discussion:

—Always reach out and shake hands when you are meeting someone for the first time, and look them in the eye. Eye-to-eye contact establishes trust. And dress appropriately–-meaning business attire. Companies see you as an extension of their brand, so they want someone who will represent them well.

—In today’s business world, most professionals will experience change at alarming rates, and will probably change careers multiple times. So, as you are your own brand (You Inc.), from your very first job to your very last, you want to make a great impression on everyone you work with. I recently ran into a top executive I worked with at Sony who I haven’t seen in years. He didn’t remember my name right away, but he beamed because he remembered how he felt about working with me—terrific! My brand brought back good memories for him, and he immediately asked for my card.

—Never think you’re too good for any job you start in. No matter how menial, you want to do your best and leave a good impression. You never know if you will meet these same people later in your career. Trust me–it happens. So, don’t have an attitude of “I’m too good for this position.” Take it for the experience it is—have more gratitude than attitude.

—There is opportunity everywhere, so be open and receptive! I know of a consultant who was asked to speak at a meeting that he thought inconsequential. However, he decided to do it as a favor. There was a woman in the audience who liked his message and hooked him up with her husband. P.S.: That little speech brought him 400K worth of business.

A lot more came from that talk—look for more tips to come!

And–good luck out there!!!

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan. All rights reserved.

For over 25 years, Michelle Kerrigan has been helping clients achieve workplace success by developing the practical skills they need to improve their confidence, performance and productivity. Based on her own leadership experiences, Michelle provides an invaluable road map for conquering fear and doubt, navigating change, and solving day-to-day challenges. Michelle also writes and speaks about the impact self esteem has on success, and is currently working on a series for public TV about workplace confidence. More at and

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 Michelle Kerrigan on May 4th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,

04 may

What Good Branding Can Do for a Company

RobertCordrayA brand is defined as a name, logo or other physical symbol that separates one company’s product from those of others. This is what makes branding such an important part of any successful business today. Your brand is what sets you apart from the competition. It is what sets the tone for the company’s image and the personality that you want to convey. It can do more for a business than almost any other single thing.

Good Branding Creates Unity

No business can succeed if it is not unified. There are a number of ways to create unity within a company, but it gets harder as a company gets bigger. Even with the largest companies however, if the company has a good brand and a clear mission, that alone can be enough to unify the employees. As a business owner, one of the best things that you can do is to create the sort of brand that your employees will be proud to wear on their name tags and on their shirts.

Creating A Sense of Professionalism

A professional demeanor is important for any business. It is hard to be taken seriously in a burgeoning marketplace, and customers and clients will lean more towards businesses who portray the image of the highest professionalism and best quality available. This is hard to do if you are working out of a nondescript building and handing out business cards branded with clipart. Even just a sign with your very own logo can be enough to give your company headquarters a professional touch.


The most obvious effect of a good brand is that it greatly improves marketing efforts. Once you have a solid brand, you can place it on office walls, stationery, clothing, name tags, custom banners, car decals, and anything else. The better your brand, the more sought after it will become. Sometimes a brand can become so popular, people will pay to advertise it – by buying and wearing clothes that display your brand, or bumper stickers for their car.


And this sort of phenomenon is a part of what is known as brand loyalty. Brand loyalty can be a powerful force in today’s marketplace. When people are forced to choose between many products offering a similar service, they often go for the “known” brand, or the brand that they trust. Think of the example of British soccer team Chelsea FC. Chelsea’s kit manufacturer Adidas recently started preorders for next year’s jerseys. Adidas launched an entire campaign based around Chelsea fans’ loyalty to the Chelsea brand. They have not even released the design yet. Although sports teams are different, this kind of loyalty can follow other franchises just as easily.

From Small Startup To Main Player

The power of a good brand is so strong that it can be the difference between a startup staying small, and becoming a big business. A company is irrevocably linked with its brand, for better or for worse. So if you want a good company, create a good brand.

About the Author: Robert Cordray is a freelance writer and expert in business, marketing and branding. With over 20 years of business experience, Robert is now retired and hopes others can benefit from his writing.

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 Robert Cordray on May 4th, 2013 in Career | No comments