Solar Energy In Nigeria – Time To Get Down To Business

Many Nigerians believe the only way to solve the age long electricity crisis in the country is through independent power generation, as they have since lost faith in the government’s ability to decisively solve this problem that has significantly stunted the growth of the Nigerian economy for years now. Well it will be difficult to blame people trying to meet basic electricity supply needs and also keep businesses running without much hassle.

As we now know the environmental threats and inconveniences power generators cause, it is quite encouraging to see some effort from the government, research institutes and private stakeholders on the development of alternative energy sources for power generation. Solar energy, which is the most abundant of all the available renewable energy sources, has been making raves of late and I believe it is about time we started taking the prospects of this energy source more seriously.

Considering the current issues with unbundling the power sector, deregulation and increase in generating capacity, we can begin to pick some positives from the evident change in approach by some factions of the government regarding solar energy. Do not get me wrong, Nigeria’s interest in solar energy dates back to decades ago but the subsequent effect before now has been drastically minimal.


Besides the abundant oil and gas resources that we currently hold, Nigeria is still fortunate to be situated in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region described by the International Council for Science as having the world’s best solar resources. Nigeria has 485.1million MWh/day of solar energy in natural units and we enjoy an average of 6.2 hours of daily sunshine. Despite this, approximately over 60% of Nigeria’s 170 million people lack access to electricity supply. Our main sources of electricity come from hydro and gas and we currently have an installed capacity of 5,600MW of electricity but generate less than 5000MW due to a myriad of issues.

The use of solar electricity systems aids the capture of solar energy using photovoltaic (PV) cells which convert the sunlight into electricity. This resource has been found to have the capability of providing more power than all the fossil fuels we currently hold if properly harnessed and used to generate green and cheap electricity. Eventually, it can play a part in reducing our huge dependence on fossil fuels like crude and gas for power generation.


According to the United Nations, rural-urban migration in Sub-Saharan Africa will have increased by 87% in 2030 from the 1950s. Putting Nigeria in mind, this will definitely mount more pressure on the existing electricity infrastructure which has not been significantly improved for decades now despite the government’s target to generate 297, 900MW in the year 2030.

One of the key challenges in investing in solar energy is the initial capital outlay which is high. According to reports, solar panels are expensive to install and maintain. Dr Aliyu Modibbo Umar, the former FCT minister was quoted as saying it costs up to N500, 000 per panel and another source says it costs up to N200, 000 to maintain. Nonetheless, more recently, the cost of solar technology has reduced by 40% in the last two years. Our neighbours Ghana last December announced plans to build the biggest PV solar power plant in Africa generating 155MW and will increase its generating capacity by 6%. According to Blue Energy, the UK firm behind this deal, the reduction in costs and an enabling feed-in tariff policy played a key role in helping the project kick off.

Another challenge being faced in the use of this energy source is the maintenance and day to day running of the solar infrastructure. There appears to be insufficient personnel with the technical wherewithal to manage these facilities and ensure they are running up to speed. In 2005, there was a remarkable feat achieved by the Lagos State government in solar energy installations when a rural solar electrification project was launched at Onisowo Village in the Amuwo -Odofin Local government Area- a village that was cut off from the national grid. In the past two decades, states like Zamfara, Bauchi, Benue, Bayelsa and Rivers have also partnered with the World Bank and the Energy Commission of Nigeria to carry out similar projects in rural communities across the country. Despite the complaints on the efficiency and maintenance of these facilities, we have seen that we have the capability to put these structures in place which we can pick positives from and definitely build on.


It is of great importance that we speedily tap into alternative energy sources that are cleaner and safer due to the country’s vulnerability to climate change. Since we have established existing and growing interest in this technology, the government needs to assist significantly in funding domestic solar energy research in research institutes and universities. Government subsidies will also be helpful in the importation of solar panels and other equipments that cannot be manufactured locally. This will support independent investors and individuals who have interest in the energy source.

Borrowing from the UK’s feed-in tariff concept, the government can also encourage independent electricity generation through solar panels by providing more incentives for consumers and suppliers who choose to invest in this source. It will always be soothing to the ear when you know you will get rewarded for generating your own electricity. Installing and understanding this infrastructure is still considered by many as technical and expensive, but through extensive awareness programmes and public and private sector initiatives, this process can be simplified and will eventually become cheaper to install and use in the long run.

Finally, on affordability, Nigerians have shown that they can invest money on power generation when presented with a better alternative. We can see the percentage of people using power generators and inverters in both rural and urban cities in Nigeria which gives us a picture of how they will handle the prospect of solar energy if the installation process is simplified and equipments are cheaper and readily available.

Arnold Palmer The Man Beyond The Golf Course

To most, Arnold Palmer is best known as the legendary golfer who dominated the golf course for many years. To others, he is a successful business executive, sportsman, aviator and spokesman. To his family, he is a dedicated and devoted man with a loving heart. Above all, it is his personality and down-to-earth demeanor that has made him one of the most popular and accessible notables in history.

Arnold Palmer’s golfing success came about in a way that few others will ever experience themselves. During the 1960s, he was named as ‘Athlete of the Decade’ by the Associated Press. After racking up 92 championships in professional competition, 62 of which were won on the U.S. PGA Tour, Arnold Palmer quickly became a household name.

During his time away from the tee, Arnold Palmer developed a keen business sense and developed a variety of interests in various fields. Among them, Arnold Palmer Enterprises, which is a multi-division structure that handles his commercial business. In addition, Palmer has become involved in automobile and aviation service firms and remains the principal owner of a car dealership in his hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Since 1971, Palmer has been the sole owner and president of Latrobe Country Club.

Although his love for other business ventures occupies much of his time, Arnold Palmer signed on as a consultant to The Golf Channel, which first aired on cable networks in January 1995. Over the course of more than 40 years, this golfing great has given his approval on more than 200 new courses throughout the United States and the world. His business ventures and golfing participation keeps Palmer busy and on the move for most of the year. Luckily, he is a skilled aviator and often mans the controls himself onboard his Cessna Citation X jet aircraft, which he commonly uses for travel. After having dedicated so much to the world of aviation and his local community, the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport was named in his honor.

Speaking of contributions, Arnold Palmer has given much to the sport of golf and it’s fans. In turn, the sport has given back. In 2004, Palmer received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush during a White House ceremony. In addition, he is a charter member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and a member of the American Golf Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the PGA Hall of Fame, which is headquartered in the sunshine state of Florida.

During the 1980s, Palmer played a significant part in the fundraising activities that led to the creation of the Orlando-based Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Women. Today, Palmer divides his time between Pennsylvania, which he primarily enjoys during the warmer seasons, and California. For fans, Arnold Palmer is one of the most gracious sports figures in history. A willing autograph signer and a kind-hearted gentleman who always has the time to shake hands or pose for a photo, Arnold Palmer is a fan favorite both on and off the golf course.

Trust – What Creates it & How Do You Maintain it Today?

Trust is the state of readiness for unguarded interaction with someone or something. Trust is built and maintained by many small actions over time. Trust is telling the truth, even when it is difficult, and being honest, authentic, and reliable in your dealings with customers and employees. Trust exists on many levels in an organization: with the direct manager, with the leadership, with the team and with the company.

Times are tough and you can’t afford not to have it today, but you will find that it is harder than ever to build and maintain. Employees are increasingly skeptical and daily exposés about ‘leaders’ who clearly are not trustworthy only makes it tougher.

Individuals must have a capacity for trust based on his/her experiences (with the current manager and company as well as with previous employers). The experiences we each have develop or diminish the capacity and willingness to risk trusting others. In the current business environment, there is a continuing decline of trust in companies and leadership overall. Employees watch the news, hear stories and wonder constantly if “it” (being laid off, denied a promotion or raise, having their project stopped, shutting down the company, etc.) is going to happen to them.

Individuals must perceive and believe in the ability of others they work with to perform competently at whatever is needed. During tough times, this belief in others tends to erode especially when communications are lacking concerning how changes impact the organization and success. Couple that with the increasing amount of communication about all the problems in the economy and you quickly have a lopsided equation with the negative far outweighing the positive. Employees are deeply concerned about who is going to be the next company or ‘leader’ exposed in some sort of scandal or unethical behavior.

Lastly, but incredibly important to trust, is a belief that the actions, words, direction, mission, and/or decisions are motivated by mutually-serving rather than self-serving motives. Employees have to know you care about them and are considering their best interests as well as the company’s. During tough times, there is an even greater likelihood that employees will fill in the blanks with negative intentions if they are not getting constant communication about what is going on, how the company will still win and what is in it for them to stay, work hard and remain productivity. In almost every breakroom around the country today, employees are wondering how some leaders and senior managers are asking for and getting multi-million dollar bonuses as they are laying off employees and their businesses are failing by every measure. What kind of beliefs does an individual have to justify that sort of behavior and why would you expect me to believe they will ever consider my interests?

There are critical leadership & management behaviors to build and grow trust in today’s environment:

Act with integrity – Consistently conduct yourself in an honest and trustworthy manner; treat people with respect and dignity; keep your word; remain approachable; set an example for others to follow; protect the interest of all employees; do the right thing for the organization.

Be teamwork oriented – Demonstrate co-operation and trust with colleagues across organizational boundaries; establish strong working relationships to deliver positive results; help to create and maintain a strong feeling of belonging in the team; share expertise, successes, and relevant information with others; identify barriers to teamwork and work with others to overcome them.

Listen- Attend to and convey understanding of the comments and questions of others; remain genuinely interested in what others have to say; suspend your own assumptions and consider various beliefs; have patience to wait for people to finish.

Provide ongoing feedback – Objectively observe, analyze, and share perceptions of other people’s performance to reinforce or redirect behavior to improve performance and business results; provide feedback that is timely, specific, behavioral, balanced, and constructive; realign people/teams quickly; set clear and high expectations and act as if employees are capable of living up to them.

Strive for results – Hold yourself accountable for results and focus on instilling that same attitude and level of action in others; act to realize ever-increasing levels of excellence; seize opportunities as they arise; take ownership for resolving difficult situations; refrain from thinking it can’t be done and focus on how to make it happen.

Focus & prioritize – Determine priorities and give full attention to what is most important; set trivial tasks aside; know what to accomplish on your own and when to involve and delegate to others.

Be self aware – Set high personal standards; know your own strengths and development needs; ask for ongoing feedback and coaching; be willing to admit to and learn from mistakes.

Motivate others positively – Create a climate where people want to do their best; let employees know how important they are to the business; empower others by sharing ownership and visibility; recognize and constantly communicate effectively with others on what it will take to get to the next stage.

Communicate effectively – Communicate constantly and cascade key messages throughout the organization. Communicating includes telling employees where they stand, how the business is doing and what future plans are. Other key messages should include what is staying the same (what can provide a sense of comfort) and why you will still win despite everything else going on in the world. The more transparent you can become, the better. With the increase in social media, transparency in business is expected. Secrecy breeds suspicion. Whenever information is kept close, both the intent and the actual content become open to misinterpretation. Provide as much information as you can comfortably divulge as soon as possible in any situation.

It won’t be easy to recover and rebuild trust in many organizations. Great leaders and managers can do it, but employee skepticism is justifiably at all time high. Are you doing the right things?

Which Platform Is Better for Your Business – WordPress or SquareSpace?

Website building is no longer a tedious task. Tools like WordPress and Squarespace makes it very easy to build a website. 25 percent of the world’s entire website is built on WordPress which is an interesting number in itself. This 25% include around 1.2 billion websites in total. Squarespace has its fan following. Although it does not have as many features as WordPress yet because of its simple interface and better marketing options, it is popular among many users. Though, not billion but still several million developers use SquareSpace. Many surveys have been conducted to find which between two tools is the best regarding overall performance. Many of these surveys confuse the first time user instead of clarifying. That is why the few pros and cons of both the technologies are mentioned below:

WordPress Pros:- Community and Flexibility

As we know that majority of the users in the world uses WordPress compared to Squarespace, the community and online support are just great in this case. Starting from its initial versions such as 2.9 to its latest version 4.8 WordPress has never disappointed its users. Even today many of the users use the older version of WordPress because it was smaller in size and yet almost error free. Starting from the WordPress Codex to different Facebook groups are all filled up with enthusiastic developers and experts.

Learning new things about WordPress is very easy and interesting. This strong community network can help anyone anywhere. Anyone can get any level of advice from this strong community network and that too free of charge. Another best thing about WordPress is that the user doesn’t need to hover here and there to pay the hosting fees, the hosting fees can be paid on itself. Apart from this, there is a beginner guide available on WordPress for the first time developers and fees for such people is only 60$ / annum. This is just the starting fees it can increase in the upcoming years.

WordPress Cons:- Security and Complexity

One of the biggest question for the first time developers is that whether they should host their website using or they should go with the self-hosting. This is a common dilemma faced by every first time user. Majority of the user among the total 25% sites in the world uses the free hosting from They have created website which provides the best customization options as well as lower hosting fees. Here the biggest con is that the customization options that are provided by WordPress are a lot more complex than its rivals Wix and Weebly. Even the hosting fees for basic websites using these tools is very less compared to WordPress. Also, for WordPress site owners can it is vital to stay updated to the latest version. Otherwise, they might have to face security issues in the long run.

Squarespace Pros:- No Tech Skills Required

The best thing about Squarespace is that no prior coding knowledge is required to develop a website. Building websites using WordPress still needs some prior knowledge of computer science or programming. Whereas any newbie can develop Squarespace website. It provides a wide range of temples and functions which we can add to our website. The backend is very powerful, and it can handle every heavy template that is provided in its library. This can create one of the most beautiful website experience for the visitors. The templates of Squarespace are so popular that they are being used in Squarespace sites as well.

Squarespace Cons:- Cost and Ownership

The cheapest plan for a self-hosted WordPress starts from $5 per month whereas the basic plan of Squarespace starts from the $12 per month. This is even more than the double of WordPress. Though paying such a high amount to Squarespace, our website is not exactly in possession of them. Hence in any case if the website goes down for some reason, Squarespace does not own it and because of which our data will be lost. Apart from this, there is no migration option available in Squarespace so, whenever the user wants to migrate the site they have to start building their site from scratch.


For the people who do not have any prior knowledge of programming and need to make a minimal static website with a very fewer chance of making the change in the website in future are suggested to use Squarespace instead of WordPress. Because it provides one of the simplest user interfaces with more default templates and functions. As there are very fewer users with such a requirement majority of them chooses WordPress to build the website.

For the people who want to make money out of their website in any form including affiliate marketing or by conversion of customers they choose WordPress to build a site because it is a little bit tough for the first time users, but it is going to be beneficial for the rest of the time until the user wants the website to shut down. It is one of the oldest website building and hosting tool so, the kind of trust WordPress has gained is second to none. Because of its reliability today many big news sites or business site where change is the only constant thing are still using WordPress. WordPress is only recommended for the people who want to build their platform and are into the long race.

Why Every Business Needs a Blog

If you have just started to look at the internet as a means of promoting your business, chances are you have been focusing on your website. While websites are the cornerstone of online business however, they are not the only essential, and if you really want to boost your business online, you should also be focusing on a blog.

If you are worried that a blog sounds technical or difficult, don’t be! The word ‘blog’ is actually a shortened version of the term ‘web log.’ They were originally used a little bit like online diaries, where people could post information about their daily lives, but these days, blogs are big business!

Unlike your website, which usually remains at least partially static – with the same information on it all the time – your blog is something that is easy to update. Whenever you have news, reviews, product information, or special offers to relate to your customers, for instance, you can simply log in, and post it, without having to do a complete redesign of your website!

Blogs can also be free standing, using a blogging platform, or they can be integrated into your website itself, by adding a blog page to your site. Either way, however, they fulfill several important functions.

Firstly, they keep your customers and site visitors up to date with the comings and goings of your business. If you add what’s known as an RSS feed to your blog, those news items can even be delivered directly into your clients and visitors email inboxes.

Secondly, they make sure that the content on your site is regularly updated, and that it stays fresh and relevant. This is one of the key factors that search engines use when ranking websites, and as the saying goes ‘content is king.’ So if your website does not change often, your site could be suffering in terms of page rank, and a blog could be the solution to that problem.

Third, there’s the opportunity to have a more personal form of contact with the people who visit your site. While websites are typically written in a very business like style, blogs are usually more informal, and it’s a great way to add a little bit more of your personality to your site.

Finally, they are a means to generate additional revenue on your site. In most cases, blogging platforms allow you to integrate third party advertising links to your blog, which will pay you every time someone clicks on them. There are also other options, like in text ads, or even platforms that work as third party advertising networks, putting bloggers in touch with advertisers who would like their products mentioned in blog posts.

Essentially, blogs are a means for on and offline business owners to have much more dynamic content and information on their sites that they can update quickly and easily on a daily basis, and that will boost their search engine rankings, by increasing their keyword density on their site, and their unique content.

They’re also a separate earning mechanism for many business owners, as well as a means to inject a little personality into an otherwise bland website.

The good news is that getting a blog is not difficult or time consuming at all. There are plenty of free blogging platforms, like WordPress and Blogger, that you can use to set up a free blog, and you can easily link to them from your main site. Blog platforms are also very user friendly, and even people with only a rudimentary level of technical knowledge about the internet can use them to create posts, run advertising and set up RSS feeds.

It’s interesting to note that these days; many online businesses choose a blog as their primary online presence, rather than using a traditional website. That’s because blogs are much easier to create and manage for the ordinary person, and their informal style tends to attract a wider audience. Some well-known blogs, in fact, earn their owners hundreds of thousands of dollars every month!

If you don’t have the time to manage your own blog, there are even freelancers out there who, for a fee, will create, manage, and add content to your blog daily or weekly, so it’s entirely possible to automate the process completely.

In fact, these days, having a blog is almost as important as having a website and its well worth the effort for any business owner who is using the internet for a part or all of their marketing plan to start blogging sooner, rather than later. It’s easy, informal, and usually free to start a blog, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be using it as a part of your online marketing efforts!

Outsourcing Your Payroll Can Save You Time and Money! What Can Outsourcing Your Payroll Do For You?

It is that time again; time to process your payroll. Why not make that headache go away and see what outsourcing your payroll can do for you. It does not matter rather your business is big or small hours can better be spent on the operational and financial aspect of it. Payroll itself can be time consuming, and with law as, changing on a regular basis in this difficult economic time this is just one more thing that you cannot afford to make mistakes that will cost you money. This is because so many factors play into it like; full-time hourly, part-time hourly, seasonal, salaried part-time, and the list keeps going. To top it all off you have vacation accruals and even bonuses to configure, not to mention handling the direct deposits and manual checks. After all that than you have taxes that come up. No wonder just the thought of payroll and getting everything ready for payday can give you a headache. 
Take a moment and see how much time and money that you spend processing your payroll. There are many business’ still tracking their payroll for their employees in spreadsheet, hand-written checks or in the worst case not paying payroll at all. Processing the payroll by hand can become a full-time job by itself, not only have to do it weekly or biweekly, and sometimes monthly there are other deadlines and commitments that have to be met. Quarterly and annual requirements, which easily can be forgotten, the potential penalties that you may incur can put your business in financial distress. With all this payroll information in it’s ever changing from; daily posting, hours worked, vacation pay, sick leave pay, accruals, union reports and requirements, employee changes that all have to be recorded into the payroll system. This process may take a lot of time and effort but it also lacks the efficiency. The only easy part of the whole process is the check writing. By streamlining your payroll process, you can save a substantial amount of time and money, and add to the bottom line. Outsource your payroll to a payroll processing company. 
There is that light at the end of what seemed like the darkest of all tunnels. After all, just remember that the purpose of a payroll processing company is to utilize the wide range additional tools and professional expertise that can help your company. It can help with things like; efficiency, reduce costs, access the information you need at your fingertips and the most important thing, getting your employees paid on time. So if you want to take the hassle out of processing your payroll, look at outsourcing your payroll and see just how much of a difference it can make for you and your business.

Twitter For Freelance Writers – Tweet With a Plan

The world of freelance writing is changing fast; Twitter, the micro-blogging platform, is a great way to keep up to date with the changes. But beware: if you’re using Twitter, tweet with a plan — otherwise Twitter can be a fun time-sink and much less useful for your career than it should be.

Here are four tips to help you to build your writing success with Twitter.

1. Use Separate Accounts for Business and Personal Tweets

Did you know that you can have as many Twitter accounts as you wish? Make use of this facility. You need to separate purely personal tweets for your family and friends, from business tweets.

On your personal Twitter account, tweet away on your shopping, the music you’re listening to, and the sandwich you just ate. On your business account, make useful contacts, network with other writers, and get writing jobs.

2. Set Goals and Achieve Them

Once you’ve separated business and purely personal, it’s time to set a goal for what you want to achieve. You can set as many goals as you wish, but each goal should have a deadline, and once the deadline has passed, take a few minutes to write a short report on your success, or failure.

A word about “failures”: I’m a big fan of failures, simply because with any goal worth achieving, you’ll FAIL your way to success… there’s no other way to achieve success than by shooting at a goal and missing.

You can set goals for anything, but let’s say you’ve found a Web site or magazine you love, and for which you think you could write. On your business account, tweet using hash tags to enquire about the company (more on hash tags below.)

Usually you’ll get a tweet back within moments, often from someone in the company asking how they can help you. This is much more effective than writing a query email or letter.

3. Use Hash Tags to Attract Attention from Your Target Audience

Hash tags are a way to tag your tweets, so that your tweets can be indexed and found. Tagging is simple, just prefix your topic/ tag with the hash sign: #.

Here are some examples:

You want to tag a tweet about Twitter: #Twitter

You want to tag a tweet about writing: #writing

You want to tag a freelance tweet: #freelance

4. Measure Your Success

It’s easy to waste time on sites like Twitter, for minimal results.

For example, I’ve chatted with several writers who were thrilled that their follower count was increasing day by day. But when I asked: “How’s that helping you?” they didn’t have an answer.

Building a big follower count can be useful if that’s a goal which will serve a purpose for you. Often however, follower counts are only used as a measure because they’re highly visible.

It’s much more useful to measure your success by the goals you’ve achieved — research you’ve found, sources who contacted you, writers with whom you’ve formed a relationship, editors who’ve contacted you… Twitter can help you to achieve your writing goals, as long as you tweet with a plan.

Brand: You, Creating and Self-Marketing Yourself to Find a Job During Tough Times

A career brand is an image that portrays you as an expert in your field, attracts your ideal employer, and reveals how you can help their business. How can you promote your career brand effectively, to stand out among increasing competition in the workforce? Self-marketing!

Before you begin self-marketing, you need to understand:

1. What you are going to market about yourself

2. Who you are going to market yourself to

3. Why you are going to market yourself to them

This article offers some important tools to develop your career brand and understand your self-marketing plan.

Goals of Self-Marketing

1. Provide direction to help eliminate trial and error. As a result, save time and money.

2. Network with key industry players.

3. Identify your transferable skills. Marketing these skills, not just job history and accomplishments, puts you in higher demand (i.e., more interviews).

4. Determine what other industries your transferable skills fit into. The industry you are in affects the success of your career. Market yourself in growing industries (green-collar, biotechnology, nutrition, IT). Steer away from dying 5. industries (textile, printing, newspapers, steel manufacturing, etc.).

6. Resolve any setbacks that hurt your career and prevent you from getting interviews. Fix your resume so it does not portray you as “a job hopper”, “lacking education”, or “unable to advance at a company”.

Create Your Own Mission Statement

Just as mission statements provide direction and purpose for companies, individuals can benefit from having their own personal mission statement too.

Your mission statement says what is important to you. Write yours before starting a career to get on the right path and connect with companies that have similar values and beliefs. You can revise it or write a new one at a career crossroads. Its sense of purpose is great motivation!

What to include:

1. Goals – Aspirations in life (short-term and long-term)

2. Core values – Who you are and what your priorities are

3. Successes – Professional, personal, etc.

4. Offerings – How you can make a difference for the world, your family, employer or future employers, friends and community

Integrate Assessments into Your Career Branding

Career and personality assessments reveal consistent patterns in your traits, characteristics, strengths, preferences, and skills. The assessment results may lead you in a new career direction. If you have an established career, they tell you how well your traits and branding messages align with your career path.

Present your distinctive and noteworthy traits to your targeted employers. Remember that not all recurring patterns contribute to good branding (e.g., introversion). Disregard any pattern you feel is not really you.

Incorporate the assessment results into your career branding materials: resume, cover letter, elevator speech, interview responses, portfolio, business card, etc. Convey a consistent branding message throughout all of these materials. But you can use different branding statements for different industries.

Tag! You Are “It”!

Self-marketing is not just about selling your specific skills. Everyone has skills. They get you in the door, but not necessarily get you the job. There can be 100 or more applicants per job posting, and they all have the same or better skills as you. How can you stand out as “the one”?

Develop a tag-line. A great tag-line tells people exactly what a product is and how they will benefit from using it. This is what employers want to know about you! Specifically, how you will help them make and save money. Tell them how much money you helped a previous or current employer make or save on a given project, sale, or time period.

Dear Career Journal…

Did you have a diary or journal when you were young? It helped you express feelings when no one else would listen, or when you did not want anyone else to listen! Similarly, a journal can help and guide us in our professional adult life too.

Writing in a career journal allows you to set aside time to think and learn more about yourself and your career. Just as when you were younger, using a journal allows you to express emotions (good and bad) about career progress. When you read past entries, see how far you have come!

Use your career journal to:

1. Write your personal mission statement

2. React to self-assessment tests

3. Do a SWOT (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats) analysis

4. Evaluate your current situation

5. Reflect on your successes and failures

6. Devise career goal ideas (breaking into a new career, as a volunteer or consultant)

7. Think about career alternatives

8. Establish daily or weekly career-related objectives or tasks

9. Develop action plans to achieve your objectives and tasks

10. Make checklists

11. Record network contacts, job interview results, etc.

12. Develop job correspondence material (cover letters, resumes, thank you letters, etc.)

13. Practice job interview questions and answers

14. Gather salary information

15. Jot down ideas and information you like and want to use in the future

16. Record things you want or need to learn, skills to improve upon

17. Discover and explore your workplace values

18. Record your job-related likes and dislikes (and employers’ likes and dislikes)

19. Note lessons learned

20. Develop ways to improve the workplace

21. Review job-search trends

22. Develop plans for achieving promotions

23. Document the career paths of your peers that you want to emulate

24. Prepare for job performance reviews

Do not keep your career journal at your workplace. Keep it at home on your computer or in a notebook. Try to set a regular time of day to work on your journal, maybe right after work. Maybe before work to get yourself motivated and focused on what you can achieve that day!

Your journal is always ready, and no matter where your career path leads you, you can continue to use it throughout your professional life.

Key Marketing Tools:

Strategic Marketing Plan

Your plan answers these questions:

1. What have I accomplished, where am I now, and where will my career be if I do not take action?

2. Where do I want to go with my career?

3. How do I get to where I want to go?

4. How do I put my plan into action?

5. What do I need to change if I am not getting success?

Market Research

Understand trends in your career field. Consult resources such as the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. Interview industry professionals. Study the companies you would like to work for. Use this information for your cover letter, resume and job interview.

Marketing Mix

You are probably already familiar with the 4 P’s of marketing, or the “marketing mix”. The 4 P’s are product, promotion, place, and price. Translate these in terms of you and your career for job search success.


You are the product with unique characteristics, features, and skills. Expose your “product features” in your tag-line and resume. Let employers know your work experience, leadership experience, professional memberships, technical skills, education and training.

Make sure that your on-line marketing tools (i.e., Facebook or Myspace) are cleaned up and employer ready. You do not want a potential employer to see something on your personal networking sites that will land you in trouble.

Do not forget “packaging”, to properly present yourself and your credentials to potential employers.


This is your cover letter, resume, phone calls, correspondence and interviewing. Promotion tools include anything that you can use to get a job interview and ultimately get a job offer.

Be memorable by utilizing multimedia marketing like email, follow-up phone calls, or try using regular priority mail envelopes to send resumes, cover letters and other “marketing materials”. This increases your career brand and distinctiveness.


This includes everywhere employers can access you. How are you reaching employers or people who can connect you with employers?

1. Internet job-searching and applying to job postings

2. Cold calling

3. Networking with current and former coworkers, colleagues and alumni

4. Speaking with recruiters at staffing and employment agencies and company HR departments

5. Visiting your university career centers and alumni offices

6. Attending professional association meetings and seminars


Price includes all aspects of the compensation you can receive from potential employers, as well as your strategies to get the price you want, and that the employer feels you deserve. Your price not only includes salary, but also insurance, benefits, paid time off and perks.

Call in the SWOT Team!

Performing a SWOT Analysis, used in marketing planning, is helpful to use in your career planning. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It answers:

1. What are your Strengths and Weaknesses (in your internal environment)?

2. What are Opportunities and Threats in your career field (external environment)?


Internal, positive aspects which you can capitalize upon, such as:

1. Work experience

2. Education

3. Technical skills and knowledge (e.g., computer skills)

4. Personal characteristics (e.g., superior work ethic)

5. Strong network of contacts

6. Involvement with professional associations and organizations

7. Enjoying what you do


Internal, negative aspects that you plan on improving, such as:

1. Lack of work experience

2. Inconsistent major with the job you are looking for

3. Lack of specific job knowledge

4. Weak technical knowledge

5. Weak skills (leadership, interpersonal, communication, teamwork)

6. Weak job-hunting skills

7. Negative personal characteristics (e.g., no motivation, indecisiveness, shyness)

8. Weaknesses identified in past performance appraisals


External, positive conditions out of your control, but you plan to leverage or add value:

1. Field trends* that create more jobs (e.g., globalization, technology)

2. Field needs your set of skills

3. Opportunities for advancement in your field

4. Location

5. Strong network


External, negative conditions out of your control, but you may be able to overcome:

1. Field trends* that diminish jobs (e.g., downsizing, obsolescence)

2. Companies are not hiring people with your major/degree

3. Competition from college graduates with your same degree

4. Competitors with superior skills, experience or knowledge

5. Competitors who attended better schools

6. Limited advancement in your field (too competitive)

7. Limited professional development in your field

8. Find hiring/employment trends in your field. Go on-line to ABI/INFORM, Business News Bank, and Lexis/Nexis.

After completing your SWOT Analysis, add the results to your Strategic Marketing Plan. Also, use your SWOT results to develop the following in your Plan:

1. Career goals

2. Marketing strategies

3. Action plan with deadlines

The Elevator Speech

The Elevator Speech is a clear, concise introduction that can be delivered in the time it takes to ride an elevator from the top to the bottom of a building. It can be as short as 15 seconds or as long as three minutes. Write down your Elevator Speech, and practice it so it comes naturally. Be ready to deliver it!

Use it at:

1. Networking events (including “unconventional” ones, like shopping)

2. Career fairs

3. Cold calls to employers

4. Voice-mails

5. Your current workplace, when you encounter the higher-ups

6. Job interviews when asked, “Why should I hire you?” and “Tell me about yourself”

Your Elevator Speech includes:

1. A greeting

2. Your name

3. Your industry or field

4. Accomplishments, background, qualifications and skills

5. If you are graduating soon, what school and what degree

6. What you want to do and why

7. Why you enjoy what you do or want to do

8. What interests you about the listener’s company/business

9. What sets you apart from others

10. Your tag-line that you developed!

11. Your mission statement that you developed!

Finally, capture their interest and request action.

1. At a career fair: “May I have your business card, and give you my card and resume? Can you add me to your company’s interview schedule?”

2. Networking: “What advice do you have for me? What employers do you suggest I contact?”

3. On a cold call: “When can we meet to discuss how I can help your company? May I send you my resume?”

Thinking About Becoming a Professional Poker Player?

Becoming a professional poker player is difficult. Not only do you have to be good at the game you have to have a good business head. To that end you have to learn to treat your beloved card game as a business, rather than a pastime which in the past you have been good at.

If you are thinking about becoming a pro read this first.

Business Element

Like most businesses there will be good times and bad times. You must be prepared for the latter and use the former to offset your losses. Professional poker playing also needs capital like any other business, and for poker this means having a substantial bank roll.

To that end you must try and work out how much you will need to maintain a steady income from playing poker. A highly competitive profession if ever there was one. From the income figure you can estimate how much you will need to bankroll your career as a pro player.

Every player has a severe losing streak no matter how good they are. You must be able to deal with this financially.

You are going to be self employed. This is scary and hard at the best of times, and rather than making a sale, you are going to have to win a considerable amount of money to make your business thrive.

Evaluate Evaluate

To become a pro and a better pro, you have to be able to honestly evaluate your play style after every game. Ideally, having an honest opinion from someone you trust is best. A fresh, unbiased pair of eyes will be able to tell you if you are leaking too many tells, if your bluff was too obvious, and generally pick up on your weaknesses. In essence you must be able to take criticism and be honest with yourself to know when your big loss was down to you. All of this will improve you as a player.

As a professional poker player constant improvement is needed. Otherwise it is a long walk to the poor house and back into mainstream work.

The evaluation of your poker play should have already started. If you can find a mentor or at least someone you trust who understand the game, so much the better. Many players record their games in the form of notes. How much they staked, how much they won, nearly every statistic you can think of. They then refer to them constantly.


Many professionals started our as good amateur players and realised that playing a game they love for a living would be a good way to live. The chances are you are of the same mindset. On the surface there is edginess to the lifestyle that is very appealing. A little like being a spy. The reality is however, that it is a business and a job. In ten years time will you enjoy the game so much?

You may not ever view the game again like you do at the moment. A point to ponder perhaps?

Social Life

Once you embark on being a pro your social life will be centred on poker. Poker will dominate: Your friends will be poker players, your partner will be from a poker background, and even your pets will be able to shuffle cards. You will study poker when you are not playing it, and your maths will improve.

This is an aspect you need to think about to become a professional. Are you prepared for the change and sacrifice?


If you have not worked it out already, you are going to have look at poker as a business. This means working out percentages to the nth degree and then perform in tournaments. You will start to think of the game statistically and indeed start to study your own game in the same terms. This is common to most gambling.

Summing up

A career in poker is hard. Make no mistake big losses and incredible lows are coming your way. There will be times when you wonder why you thought it was a good idea.

With a clear steady mind however, a good business head, and a mentor or friend who is willing to help you, you might just make it.

Communication Effect

The system of sending information or message from one place to another place is communication.

Understand the meaning of communication and system of communication. Understand about the familiar developments like Mobile, Fax, Computer, E-mail, and Telecommunication.

In ancient times it used to take many days to send a message or information to distant places. But today we can send messages to any part of the world quickly due to the development in the field of communication. The message may be in the form of written piece, sound, picture or movie. Today man uses Telegraph, Radio, Television, Telephone, Fax, Mobile, Videophone, Pager etc., through telegraphy, message can be sent in the form of words. For example: If you want to send a message “Happy Birthday” to your friend. Go to a nearby post office and send the message to his address. This message reaches your friend in few hours. The most common device used for communication is Telephone. We can converse with a person anywhere in the world through a telephone. Depending upon the distance between the communication people, service of the telephone is divided into three categories. The system of sending information or message from one place to another place is known as telecommunication. Through Fax, written material and pictures can be sent. Telephone calls are grouped as local-calls, Subscribers Trunk Dialing, International Subscribes Dialing. Through internet one can access the required information from any part of the world. The modified form of postal service is e-mail.

Speaking through the telephone while driving a vehicle or even walking is not a surprise. Here the mobile phone acts as a receiver and transmitter. The radio waves are set up between the two people, who are communicating with each other. Fax is a modified version of telegraph. The written material pictures can be sent through Fax. For Ex: If you want to send a cartoon story to a news paper, feed the fax machine with your data. The cartoon story written on a paper is transferred to the fax machine at the news paper office through telephone line as it is For this you should know the Fax number of the news paper office.

Every individual needs to be well equipped with the tools to communicate effectively, whether it is on the personal front, or at work. In fact, according to the management gurus, being a good communicator is half the battle won. After all, if one speaks and listens well, then there is little or no scope for misunderstanding. Thus, keeping this fact in mind, the primary reasons for misunderstanding is due to inability to speak well, or listen effectively.

Communication is a process of exchanging verbal and non verbal messages. It is a continuous process. Pre-requisite of communication is a message. This message must be conveyed through some medium to the recipient. It is essential that this message must be understood by the recipient in same terms as intended by the sender. He must respond within a time frame. Thus, communication is a process and is incomplete without a feedback from the recipient to the sender on how well the message is understood by him.

There are a lot of communication barriers faced these days by all. The message intended by the sender is not understood by the receiver in the same terms and sense and thus communication breakdown occurs. It is essential to deal and cope up with these communication barriers so as to ensure smooth and effective communication.

It is of utmost importance not only to communicate but also effectively communicate. Please throw some light on the first instance where Lisa was not suitably promoted. She did give her presentation, she did communicate, then why was she denied her promotion? She did not effectively communicate. The trick is not only to communicate but effectively communicate. And if you can effectively communicate, the world is all yours.

Communication process is a simple process where a message is being transferred from a sender to the receiver. The receiver after receiving the message understands the message in the desired form and then acts accordingly. Not every individual is born with good communication skills; it is inherited in due course of time as the individual passes through the various stages of life. Communication skill is an art which has to be mastered to make one’s presence feel, stand apart from the crowd and emerge as a strong leader in all facets of life.

Don’t always depend on verbal communication at work place. After any verbal communication with the fellow workers, make it a habit to send the minutes of the meeting or the important points through e-mail marking a cc to all the participants. Always depend on planners, organizers and jot down the important points against the date set as the deadline to complete a particular task. During presentations, the addressee must use whiteboards, papers and the participants also must carry a notepad to avoid forgetting any point.

Intra-personal communication skills: This implies individual reflection, contemplation and meditation. One example of this is transcendental mediation. According to the experts this type of communication encompasses communicating with the divine and with spirits in the form of prayers and rites and rituals.

Interpersonal communication skills: This is direct, face-to-face communication that occurs between two persons. It is essentially a dialogue or a conversation between two or more people. It is personal, direct, as well as intimate and permits maximum interaction through words and gestures. Interpersonal communications maybe:

Focused Interactions: This primarily results from an actual encounter between two persons. This implies that the two persons involved are completely aware of the communication happening between them.

Unfocused interactions: This occurs when one simply observes or listens to persons with whom one is not conversing. This usually occurs at stations and bus stops, as well as on the street, at restaurants, etc.

Non verbal communication skills: This includes aspects such as body language, gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, etc., which also become a part of the communicating process; as well as the written and typed modes of communications.

communication like group discussion. Remember you are not the only one speaking in the group discussion; there are other participants as well who are vying for the limelight. You might get only a single chance, and you just can’t afford to miss the opportunity to create that first impression, and as they say first impression is the last impression. An individual might have complete knowledge about the topic assigned to his group, might be well aware of what is happening around him, but if he can’t effectively communicate his ideas to others, he will fail to create his mark. The way an individual communicates his ideas has to be very impressive for him to live up to the expectations of the deciding authorities.

Teddy appeared for an interview with a reputed media house. He had been eyeing for this company for quite a long time. He fared extremely well in the face to face rounds and was looking forward to getting selected in the organization. Unfortunately something else was in store for him. He could not get through the GD Round. He was exceptionally good in academics, had a healthy professional background and even expressed his ideas in his best possible way in the group discussion. The problem was in his communication level. He did try his level best but failed to impress the interviewer and thus lost out on his dream job.

Converting your thoughts into words is an art and one has to master it to win over the trust and confidence of the assessor. One has to very sensibly and carefully choose the right words to share his thoughts with the other participants and make his points clear. Never use slangs, instead go for some corporate jargons or professional terminologies for the desired edge. Also avoid cracking jokes in between as it is considered highly unprofessional. An individual must not stammer in between or chew half of his words. Speak clearly and your voice must never be shaky. There is no one who will beat you there, so why to get afraid of a group discussion?

No one will ever deduct your marks if you greet your fellow participants well. Use warm greetings and never forget the handshake on meeting. These gestures actually help in breaking the ice and create a bond among the participants. Someone has to begin the discussion, so why not you? Take the initiative and start the discussion. Introduce yourself and your team members well. Never believe in personal favors. If any participant is unwilling to speak, do not force him unnecessarily. If someone has spoken well do not hesitate to give him a pat on his back. Such non verbal communications sometimes go a long way in boosting the morale of the participants. Be very confident to win over the trust of the interviewer as well as the other participants.

The pitch and tone must also be taken good care of. You are speaking not for yourself, but for others to listen and respond. Always ensure that you are audible to one and all. Every participant must be able to hear you clearly and understand what you intend to convey. An individual must also learn the art of voice modulation. Don’t keep the same pitch always; learn to play with your tone as per the importance of the word or the sentence. If you want to raise a question to your fellow participants, it must also reflect in your voice. Avoid shouting or being too loud in group discussions. You are here to voice your opinion, not for fighting. Keep your voice polite, soft but convincing. Never sound unintelligent or foolish, as the interviewer has a constant eye on you. Do take care of your punctuation marks and the flow of words. It is no harm to take pauses or breaths in between sentences. Never repeat sentences as it will lead to monotony and others will tend to ignore you. Don’t just speak for the sake of speaking.

Always remember there are other individuals also who are participating in the group discussion. They may not be from the same background as you are, might have an altogether different thought process, but you have no right to make fun of their views. Always respect their opinion. If a participant is speaking, never criticize or oppose him in between. You will get your time to speak, and please wait for your turn. An individual has to be very patient, calm, dignified, sophisticated and above all professional in his approach. The individual who passes the information to others for sharing his thoughts and ideas with them is called the sender. (First Party) The individual who receives the information from the sender and responds accordingly to give him the feedback is called the receiver. (Second Party). In the process of communication the information must reach the receiver in exactly the same form the speaker intends to. If the recipients fail to provide feedback to the speaker, communication is considered to be ineffective and incomplete.

Communication is neither transmission of message nor message itself. It is the mutual exchange of understanding, originating with the receiver. Communication needs to be effective in business.

Communication is essence of management. The basic functions of management (Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Directing and Controlling) cannot be performed well without effective communication. Business communication involves constant flow of information. Feedback is integral part of business communication. Organizations these days are very large. It involves number of people. There are various levels of hierarchy in an organization. Greater the number of levels, the more difficult is the job of managing the organization. Communication here plays a very important role in process of directing and controlling the people in the organization. Immediate feedback can be obtained and misunderstandings if any can be avoided. There should be effective communication between superiors and subordinated in an organization, between organization and society at large (for example between management and trade unions). It is essential for success and growth of an organization.

Communication gaps should not occur in any organization. Business Communication is goal oriented. The rules, regulations and policies of a company have to be communicated to people within and outside the organization. Business Communication is regulated by certain rules and norms. In early times, business communication was limited to paper-work, telephone calls etc. But now with advent of technology, we have cell phones, video conferencing, emails, and satellite communication to support business communication. Effective business communication helps in building goodwill of an organization.

Business Communication can be of two types:

• Oral Communication

• Written Communication

Oral Communication – An oral communication can be formal or informal. Generally business communication is a formal means of communication, like: meetings, interviews, group discussion, speeches etc. An example of Informal business communication would be – Grapevine. Oral communication implies communication through mouth. It includes individuals conversing with each other, be it direct conversation or telephonic conversation. Speeches, presentations, discussions are all forms of oral communication. Oral communication is generally recommended when the communication matter is of temporary kind or where a direct interaction is required. Face to face communication (meetings, lectures, conferences,

interviews, etc.) is significant so as to build a rapport and trust.

Written Communication – Written means of business communication includes – agenda, reports, manuals etc. Written communication has great significance in today’s business world. It is an innovative activity of the mind. Effective written communication is essential for preparing worthy promotional materials for business development. Speech came before writing. But writing is more unique and formal than speech. Effective writing involves careful choice of words, their organization in correct order in sentences formation as well as cohesive composition of sentences. Also, writing is more valid and reliable than speech. But while speech is spontaneous, writing causes delay and takes time as feedback is not immediate.

Advantages of Written Communication

Written communication helps in laying down apparent principles, policies and rules for running of an organization.

It is a permanent means of communication. Thus, it is useful where record maintenance is required.

It assists in proper delegation of responsibilities. While in case of oral communication, it is impossible to fix and delegate responsibilities on the grounds of speech as it can be taken back by the speaker or he may refuse to acknowledge.

Written communication is more precise and explicit.

Effective written communication develops and enhances an organization’s image.

It provides ready records and references.

Legal defenses

An effective and efficient communication system requires managerial proficiency in delivering and receiving messages. A manager must discover various barriers to communication, analyze the reasons for their occurrence and take preventive steps to avoid those barriers. Thus, the primary responsibility of a manager is to develop and maintain an effective communication system in the organization.

Remember effective communication is a necessity in today’s challenging scenario and the above tips definitely go a long way in improving one’s communication skills.

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