How to Extract Prejudicial Data from a Political Survey by Yael Ben-Shachar?

How can you extract prejudicial data from a political survey? That was the challenge I faced when I began my summer internship with Tobias Konitzer of the Stanford Communications Department. At first, I was unsure about how a mathematician like myself could contribute to a study about politics. But I was both surprised and delighted to find out that math was the secret ingredient in solving the problem.

Before digging into the work itself, I first had to master a challenging statistical program called “R”, which would play a major role in helping us squeeze bias out of existing poll results.  I also had to learn the ins-and-outs of a proprietary algorithm that Tobi had developed for collecting and organizing large-scale data quickly and accurately.

Still, I had my questions about what we were attempting to do. I asked the project head: “How can polls be biased when the data is a reflection of the people being polled? And, if there is bias, how are we supposed to ferret it out?”

“Most people view polls or surveys as sources of scientifically-developed data,” Tobi explained. However, the history of political polling tells us otherwise because results frequently underperform our expectations. For example, pollsters were far off-base in the recent Brexit vote by British citizens. Furthermore, while the average national results of the Obama vs. Romney presidential election were largely accurate, many individual polls were consistently wrong.”

“If polling is a science, how could so many polls provide contradictory results, and how could polls such as those in the United Kingdom be so far off the mark?” I asked.

Tobi had the answer: “Bias of one form or another is often built into the polling instruments themselves,” he told me. “Such bias can result from the choice of questions posed by pollsters, how those questions are phrased, the groups that are selected for the sample, the size of the sample, and whether polls are self-selected or randomly selected in a scientific manner by a third party.”

Now, this project was getting interesting, and Tobi had my full attention.

The goal of my summer internship at Stanford was to use “R” to mathematically strip all possible bias out of a poll for the upcoming presidential election, and thus produce a more accurate result. The data we used was biased towards one side of the political spectrum because the poll was published on a website viewed almost exclusively by voters who shared that point of view. I used the algorithm to manipulate big data sets containing demographic data for both Republicans and Democrats. Then, I put my math skills to work, using the “R” program to squeeze out biases. After a substantial amount of work, we began to see different results, and my concerns about our ability to actually find and remove bias faded.

Several weeks into the project, I was thrilled to find that the polling data began to shed its built-in favoritism and actually lean towards the opposite side of the political spectrum, as was reflected in more well-regarded polls. With additional work, the data would eventually contain almost no bias, making the polling much more objective and reliable.

Although the results we were seeking seemed anti-intuitive at first, it turned out that the meticulous process we used, helped along by my love of and expertise in math, could achieve what had seemed impossible when we began. Additionally, I realized that I had developed a new skill set using the “R” program and Tobi’s algorithm for data collection and analysis. These skills could have applications in many other areas, including data gathering for school assignments, or analyzing future polling results.

I now realize that our work could have a genuine impact on the accuracy of critical information and that math could be even more powerful than I thought. Meanwhile, I’ve personally learned to take most polling data with a grain of salt.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Yael Ben-Shachar is a senior at a Silicon Valley High School. Volunteers for Boys and Girls Club teaching students math and reading skills and training other volunteers. Works with special needs children, specifically a boy with autism all year.
Learned how to squeeze prejudicial data out of large polls using sophisticated statistical programs at Stanford.
She is a Journalist for her school newspaper.

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Analyzing Gene Expression in Cartilage Cells for the Treatment of Osteoarthritis by Isita Tripathi

 (Image – Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 9th edition.)

As a high school student, my preconceptions were that lab work only involved the wet-lab responsibilities of pipetting, centrifuging, and cell culture. But with hands-on lab experience, I soon realized that there is so much more that goes into a biological research project in order to make it both effective and applicable. With the intersection of biology, statistics, and computer science, the possibilities have expanded to include precise processing of information, changing the way in which we look at the human body and revolutionizing the field. Realizing that we are on the precipice of the new era of “big data,” I immersed myself in gene expression analysis as part of the biomedical research I undertook in the Lab of Orthopaedic Surgery at Stanford; I am eager to share my findings.

Almost 10% of the American population is plagued by osteoarthritis, the most common chronic degenerative condition affecting the joints.

In osteoarthritis, the cartilage that normally surrounds the ends of bones breaks down, creating increased friction between the bones in a joint, and resulting in swelling and extreme pain during movement. The problem remains that once osteoarthritis commences, the cartilage continues degenerating and inflammatory processes further damage the existing cartilage.

Unlike our skin, cartilage does not naturally regenerate and repair itself, making osteoarthritis a downward spiral of pain if left untreated. That is why an increasingly popular target of research is stem cell cartilage repair. While one option is to take neonatal chondrocytes (cartilage cells) and place them into the adult body, this form of stem cell cultivation is often considered unethical. However, if researchers can create induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and provide them with the proper transcriptional factors, cell culture, etc. to differentiate into chondrocytes in vitro, then these cells should be able to replenish the supply of damaged cartilage cells in vivo, acting as neonatal cartilage cells. Although many labs have established this procedure, nobody has perfected it to the point where the iPSCs would have sustained success in the body. The only way to do so is to gain more knowledge on exactly what makes each type of chondrocyte different from one another, and then study these variances to discover methods for improving existing forms of treatment.

With my project at Stanford, I was able to take a step towards answering this fundamental question. During the 10 weeks of my internship, I conducted a data analysis project on the microarray data from an ongoing project on chondrocyte differentiation at the lab. The goal was to denote significant differences and patterns in gene expression across neonatal, normal adult, iPSC, and osteoarthritic chondrocytes.

My first challenge was learning to use advanced gene expression softwares that I had never encountered before, such as dChip and MetaCore. And through this process, I realized there was so much more about the project that I had yet to learn, so I read as many articles as possible, scrounging for information that could help me tackle this process further.

After mastering the programs, I began making excel sheets that compared the data from different chondrocytes based off of fold change (a comparative measure) and probe set values (microarray data indicating levels of gene expression in a cell). Then, I created lists that denoted which genes were most heavily expressed in one chondrocyte, but under expressed in the other. Entering this information into a pathway analysis, I was able to visualize which kinds of genes made two chondrocytes different. To my surprise, I found that the difference between osteoarthritic and normal adult chondrocytes was that the cartilage cells plagued with osteoarthritis were actually expressing many of the genes that neonatal chondrocytes expressed. And through digging into this information, I landed on the very core problem of osteoarthritis: the remodeling of the extracellular matrix.

Essentially, each chondrocyte is in its own microenvironment that facilitates cell signaling and proper nourishment of the cells. As the cartilage begins to degenerate, inflammatory processes are a signal to the cell that something is wrong. In order to combat this issue, the chondrocyte begins changing the components of its extracellular matrix, the barrier that separates the cell from the outside environment. However, this changes the microenvironment within the cell, exacerbating the condition instead of helping. Perhaps suppressing the expression of some of the key genes involved in ECM remodeling, such as MMP2, would allow the cell to revert back to its original microenvironment, and even “reverse” osteoarthritis.

Although I thought I had found something original, my mentor informed me that this has been a target of research for quite some time–but nobody has been able to control or change ECM remodeling effectively. Still, I refused to be discouraged. With some more digging, I found that one of the genes highly expressed in osteoarthritic chondrocytes was a gene that was supposed to be suppressed completely 6 weeks after birth. And the only information about this gene is that it codes for opioid receptors, which manage pain perception in the brain.

Many studies had published this up-regulation of the “PENK” gene, yet none had actually explored its potential. But maybe the key was not reversing ECM remodeling or even trying to replenish damaged cartilage. I figured that the first step was to control pain and the progression of remodeling. After compiling all of the information I could find on PENK, I suggested that its high expression levels could be utilized as an internal mechanism for pain relief in osteoarthritic patients if the gene was expressed in the iPSC chondrocytes. Or maybe removing this gene would help cease ECM remodeling, prohibiting further cartilage degeneration.

While I had initially set out to make a revolutionary discovery in the field of osteoarthritis, I instead generated new ideas on how to tackle the problem, becoming proficient in terms and ideas that had never existed until the beginning of my summer. As I approach the next four years, I hope to continue my work on osteoarthritis and develop projects that can morph my the research proposals I made using microarray data into positive action.

But one of the most important things I learned throughout last summer was that past the contentment associated with making concrete discoveries, research provides the opportunity to expand the creative capacity of our minds, pushing us to think and plan in novel ways. Even after finding information there is always more to uncover, because regardless of your level of education or social status, research thrives on one leveling commonality. Everyone must keep exploring; there is always more to find.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Isita Tripathi is a senior at a Bay Area High School. She worked as a student intern in the Lab of Orthopaedic Surgery at Stanford, where she has cultivated her passion for medical research. In addition to pursuing a career as a surgeon, Isita aspires to continue performing her flute and learning Spanish during her college years.

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The Success Story of the Owner of a Synergy HomeCare Franchise by Saili Gosula

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My name is Saili, and I am the owner of a Synergy HomeCare franchise.  My business is now 6 years old, and I’ve gotten to the point that I feel that I am running a real company, and that I can delegate and provide a living for a lot of people.  It’s like a real company now!  I even took 3 weeks away for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.  I did work some, for sure, but I was able to go to another country, spend time with family & friends, watch a bunch of soccer games, read 4 books, and get a tan.

I want to start at the very beginning – going back 50 years ago to a couple of different continents.  My parents are Indian, and I grew up in Brazil.

In Brazil at the time I was in high school opportunities for college were very limited, so they had a strict process for kids identifying their interest and then applying to college in that specific field. Admittance was based on a large test of all the subjects you ever learned in school, weighted based on the field you chose to study.

The problem is we were 16 years old when we had to choose what we would do for college, and changing majors was not permitted. You had to start over and get re-tested if you did that!  So being a math wiz from a math family, I decided I would study computer science.  I had never seen a computer in my life, but I’m a bit competitive. That was the most sought after field, with 30 slots for the entire state, and I was going to try for that.  I got in, started college in Brazil, but then ended up coming to the US. I moved straight from Brazil to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where I went for college.  I ended up with a double major in math and computer science, and a masters in computer science.

I got a job right out of school and worked in several companies over the next 20 years in several IT roles.  I started out as a programmer, analyst, then consultant, and then project manager.  I even did a 2-year gig in HR at one company because it had grown so fast under me, and the people trusted me with their problems.  I learned a lot in those 2 years in HR.  As a matter of fact, all of those different jobs I had over the years prepared me for what I do today.

In my last job in corporate America, I was director of inventory systems for Gap, Inc.  If my systems did not work, no clothes went to any of the Old Navy, Gap or BR stores worldwide.  It was a good job, with lots of recognition and visibility, but the product that I delivered was not exciting to me. The most important thing I did was getting jeans to the store on time.  As the years went on I kept thinking that what I was doing wasn’t really a good fit with the person I was becoming over time.

In the meantime, I started doing lots of work with non-profits, community organizations, and school PTAs – and I loved that stuff!  I was coaching soccer, a volunteer webmaster for a theater company, on the board of the theater company, and eventually president of the board of the theater company, creating yearbooks and playbills, and spending way too much time volunteering on top of my demanding job.  Even within Gap I used to lead all the volunteer events for our very large IT department, and planned all our social events.  I never stayed within my box.  The thing is that I loved being part of the community, and I would stay up all night because I believed in what I was doing.  I knew I had to do something different, but it is very difficult to leave a good paying job with lots of prestige, 6 weeks of vacation, and all kinds of benefits that large corporations provide.

And then I got laid off.  I was scared but also so excited!  This was the defining moment when I was free to reinvent myself.  I actually had been hoping for this opportunity because I knew I’d get a nice severance package that would buy me time to figure out what to do next. This was my chance.

I pretty much knew that I wanted to own my own business.  I felt that everything I’d done up to that point – the computer skills, the HR, the management, the team-building, the event-planning, the yearbook and playbill editing, the budgeting and project management, and the board experience at the theater company – it gave me enough of a well-rounded skillset that I could run a company.  But what was I going to do?  I couldn’t come up with an idea.  I knew I wanted to use my one greatest strength – my people skills.  That was the # 1 requirement.

So I ended up going to a franchise broker.  They reviewed my priorities, which were: community, seeing the impact firsthand, creating jobs, managing people, and finding something I could be passionate about.  They brought me a few ideas, and through a 60-day process I ended up buying into a Home Care franchise.

I am going to explain briefly what we do because I am not here to sell, but it helps to understand how this was such a good fit with what I was looking for:

I own Synergy HomeCare, which is a provider of 1-1 caregivers.  We provide caregivers that go into people’s homes and help them with the little things they can’t do for themselves, or that are difficult for them to do for themselves. The bulk of our clients are seniors, but we do serve people of all ages, including children. For our seniors, we help them with personal care such as bathing, meal preparation, medication reminders, transportation, errands, and going to the grocery store.  We do short, occasional visits, which we call respite, or we can be there 24×7, or anything in between.

So 6 years ago I decided to do something that I’d never done before, something I had no formal training in, and that my college education definitely did not teach me how to do.  The franchisor did provide training, but then you’re on your own to get your own clients and caregivers.

People used to tell me that I had a lot of guts to make such a change.  At the time I must have had this puzzled look on my face because I didn’t understand that.  To me, it was a matter of survival.  I couldn’t go on giving so much of myself to something I didn’t believe in.  I needed to feed my soul.

But it was really hard in the beginning!  Being a people person in IT, I was popular.  Mine was the office that people walked into all the time to talk to someone, or ask work questions. My phone was always ringing, and my email was always full.  Then I started the business, and I was in this tiny little office by myself.  Nobody stopped by, nobody called, and I questioned my decision. I felt a little scared . . . and lonely.

What I did to compensate for this was that I started networking.  I joined a networking group, and I have been with that group for almost five years now. It was a community of business owners, and I could trust the people in that group to actually provide services for me as well. I then felt that I wasn’t as alone.  And I loved to find reasons to refer business to other people in that group.

After that I tried a few other groups. Now I am also very active in the Chamber of Commerce for our city, and that is another wonderful group. I always look forward to talking with these people. I go to business mixers and chat with both people I know as well as connecting with new people, and now I am no longer lonely at all.

To be truthful, I’m a crazy networker.  It really helps!  It may be a little uncomfortable at first, but it grows your business, and you learn who you should partner with. And the more you go the easier it gets. Everybody is there for the same reason – to expand their network.

The other thing that was hard in the beginning was doing everything myself.  It was exhausting!  I was on call 24×7, and my mind was spinning from all the different things I was responsible for.  I started paying people right away to do things for me.  I was fortunate that my circle of friends included competent people excited to help me start my business. I paid them, but not what they were worth. I also started paying my high-school-aged son to work in our office.

Eventually I hired full-time staff.  I almost always hired the next person before I could afford them – I just knew that I couldn’t grow without them. And none of my office hires came to me in a traditional way, by applying for a posted job position. I would meet someone that was available and just know that this person would be a good fit for my team. I couldn’t afford not to have them! This enabled growth.

My staff is top notch. I can be out of the office all day and know that the company runs smoothly without me.  Oh, and gradually I’ve worked myself into a place where I am never on call anymore, though I am always the escalation point.

I now have five full time office staff that help run my operation. I always have a couple of part-time people that are available to help when needed.

Now we have about 60 caregivers working for us, another 100 that we consider active and available, and another 400 that have worked for us occasionally in the past who we could possibly call on again. In our 6 years in business we have served over 600 clients.

Advice

Find out what your strengths are, and find a career that uses those strengths. It will feel much more natural, and you will be better able to sustain your effort in it.  Me, I am a people person to the extreme, so I chose a profession that would have me always talking to people, connecting with people, understanding people and having them entrust me with their most prized assets – their parents. I can connect with all the different people that all different levels, and that makes me very successful in this field. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Saili Gosula is the owner and Executive Director of Synergy.  She had a successful career in IT until 2009.  Always an avid volunteer in the schools and local non-profits, focusing on people and the community eventually became more important to her.  She made a career switch.  She is passionate about her new career in home care.  She differentiates herself by her tirelessly giving and positive approach.  This has quickly helped her to grow her business and provided her with many loyal fans and followers, across clients, associates, and employees.
Saili@SHCSanMateo.com
www.synergyhomecare.com/SanMateo

 

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“The Last Wizard of Eneri Clare” by April Lindevald

ss-20160930-april-with-book-pic1On the exact date of my 60th birthday, a time when others are winding their careers down and thinking about retirement, my first novel was published!  Self-published, to be accurate, but still, a physical  item in my hands, the culmination of eight years of loving labor, finally real, and beyond exciting.

I have always loved fiddling with words and telling stories, from the time I was very small, and scribbled, “The Misadventures of Lorelei,” about a very curious dachshund (loosely modelled on those in our household), with pictures to match.  But I also loved the stage, and so became a professional classical singer, performing, recording, and touring the world.  Whenever friends and family would tell me that I had a gift with language, and should try my hand at being an author, my standard answer was that I appreciated the compliment, but I had nothing important to say.

Eight years ago, I discovered I finally DID have something to say that wanted expression. I am an avid lover of the fantasy genre – books, movies, TV shows.  I love being transported to a far-away place and studying the complexities of human nature from a fresh perspective.  It concerened me that in almost all fantasy works, the good guys defeat the bad guys, sometimes through great sacrifice and strenuous effort.  BUT, ultimately they triumph by chopping the heads off of the bad guys, just as the other side would have done.  What, I thought, distinguishes them, then, from the other side?    Look around at our world!  What are we teaching the next generation?  That there is only one way to win the day?  That the only response to evil is a fist, or a sword…or a gun?  Don’t we believe that the values we say we cherish are enough to beat back darkness – faith, hope, love, creativity, intellect, resourcefulness, community —  in the final analysis, do we not trust them to carry any real power?

I asked myself, “What if there was a good adventure story where the good guys were not allowed to use violence and warfare to achieve their ends?  What would they do instead?  Could it at least provoke a new conversation about what we believe as a culture, and who we want to become as a people?

The moment I put pen to paper, the characters appeared and started dictating the book, beginning to end, in vivid detail. Whether one’s subconscious kicks in, or someone is really out there channeling through you, they were very real to me, and became friends that I could not wait to sneak off and spend time with.  I argued with them, and they told me to shut up and write what they told me.  They surprised me with events I had not planned.  And thank heavens, listening to interviews with successful authors convinced me that this is a common experience; I was not losing my marbles.

A year later it was done.  The next seven years were spent typing, revising, editing and polishing.  Every moment spent in that world was sheer joy for me.  Now it is time to share the results with the outside world.  “The Last Wizard of Eneri Clare” is an epic story about wounded and insecure people who have encountered life’s blows, but somehow manage to dig deep and find their inner courage.  They band together and form a community, pooling their strengths and talents to move forward.  There are many subplots embracing themes of second chances, redemption, compassion, forgiveness, and a healthy dose of humor too.  There are dragons, wizards, and water sprites, unicorns and talking beasts, a little romance and a healthy dose of magic along the way.  AND a pitched battle unlike any you have ever read about or seen before.

I hope you will give it a look!  The book is suitable for readers from age 13 up, and is available now in hardcover, softcover, and digital formats through Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and Bookstore.balboapress.com.  You can find out more about it on my website:   www.aprillindevald.com , or at facebook.com/lastwizard2016 .

And for those of you who may be approaching an end of some of the earlier chapters of your life, don’t let anyone ever tell you it’s too late for you to have something meaningful to say!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
APRIL L. LINDEVALD has led an adventurous life as a classically-trained singer, recording and touring with the Grammy Award-winning Gregg Smith Singers, and appearing for many years with the New York City Opera. She is also a busy intuitive counselor, and author of the popular column “Creating A Magical Life.” Additionally, she has released a CD of her original inspirational songs. April is a lifelong spiritual seeker. She resides on Long Island with her educator husband, Brian Abrams, and their dog-kids Max and Cookie.
Contact her at aprlsngs@optonline.net

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Never give up! by Inna Rosputnia

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Inna Rosputnia was born and growing up in Ukraine at a time when it was a battleground between communism and democracy. A personal experience of this conflict, including poverty, struggling and intolerance — as well as a personal fascination with philosophy shaped Inna’s thinking in later years and influenced her successful strategies in both finance and philanthropy.

Inna graduated from 2 Universities and have Master Degree in Economy and International Relations. She began her career in finance field in 2007. In 2008 Inna became a Head of Financial Risk Insurance Department at Alfa Insurance IC (Ukraine) that is a part of Alfa Group Consortium – one of Russia’s largest privately owned investment groups, with interests in oil and gas, commercial and investment banking, asset management, insurance, retail trade, telecommunications, water utilities and special situation investments. Inna began trading futures, commodities, and stocks in 2009. She is working with individuals and families as well as institutions and corporate clients. Inna also makes investments in commercial real estate in different countries. Her real estate portfolio includes office centers and hotels.

Inna has been active as a philanthropist since 2013, when she began providing funds to help women in Africa to attend Universities and start own business. In 2016 Inna joined Cherie Blair Foundation for women, where she is working to promote gender equity, the values of open society, human rights, transparency and empower women.

Inna is the author of a book “Basic Instinct of Woman-Trader”, published in Russian and English languages in 2016. Her articles and essays on markets, financial planning, politics, society, and economics regularly appear in newspapers and magazines, like The Business Woman Media, Financial Magnates and other.

Here is the link for online sale of the Russian version:  https://www.amazon.com/x41E-x441-x43D-x43E-Russian-ebook/dp/B01I1PCR3S#nav-subnav

The English version will be available in late September 2016. You can pre-order the book on her website:  http://ladyf-trader.com/my-book/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Inna Rosputnia – A futures trader and wealth manager, working with individual and institutional clients; founder and CEO of Lady F Wealth Management. I graduated from two universities and has a Master degree in Economy and International Relations.

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Good Job: How to Accept a Compliment by Mildred Lynn McDonald

AAEAAQAAScappy Women Mildred Lynn McDonald blog 2016-06-07

*This post was originally published in UCSC (University of California, Santa Cruz) Extension in Silicon Valley Project Management blog.

I’ve never had a problem accepting a compliment, so it came as a surprise to discover that many people find this basic interpersonal skill challenging and uncomfortable.

After a bit of reflection, I decided that cultural orientation aside, accepting compliments is second nature to me. Why? Because I don’t try to figure out the reason behind the compliment, other than the goodwill that is presented to me “in the moment”.

At first glance, this might seem naive, but I assure you that accepting these little bouquets of acknowledgment with a smile and a sincere “thank you” has served me well over the years with both friends and co-workers.

As author Maya Angelou once said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

I believe that this sage observation captures the essence of accepting a compliment exponentially because when a compliment is received with grace and generosity, both the giver and the receiver feel good. Really good. Hmm, perhaps this is because as human beings, we are simply “wired” that way. I’d like to think so.

Trouble Accepting a Compliment? Here’s a Tip

If you find yourself stammering, filling the air with pregnant pauses, or discarding many of the compliments that come your way, here is a tip: When receiving a compliment, try to clear your mind and focus on the other person rather than yourself. Think about it. If you focus on the other person, you are not making a judgement about your worthiness to receive a compliment, the accuracy of the compliment or anything else that might make this potentially enriching interpersonal exchange “less than” it is. Plus, and this is a big plus, you are now in a position to make another human being feel good.

We all know what it feels like to deliver a genuine compliment to a friend or co-worker only to have our words diminished by “Oh, it was nothing.” or “Anyone could do this.” or “It is OK, but I really wanted to do xyz.” It can make you feel so let down … just like a deflated helium balloon!

If you have trouble accepting a compliment and are asking yourself “how to” accept a compliment in a positive way, check out these scenarios by K.T. Bernhagen:

  • For a job well done: “Thank you. I was hoping this was what you were looking for, and I really like it too.”
  • For a speech, performance, article, or work of art: “Thank you. I really enjoy (writing, performing, speaking, whatever), and I’m glad you liked it!”
  • For your help: “Thank you. I’m so glad that I could help.”
  • If you caught a mistake that was missed by others: “Thanks for noticing. I’m glad I caught it, too.”
  • In any other situation: “Thank you. I appreciate it!” Enough said.

Here are a couple of other scenarios for your toolbox by author Jack Griffen:

  • If someone says “You deserve it”, consider replying with: “I’ve had a good example set for me. You have given me a lot of support. It’s meant a lot.”
  • If someone says “I don’t give praise lightly”, consider replying with: “I know you don’t. That’s why I am thrilled with your remarks. They mean a great deal to me.”

Like most things in life, all you will need to master the art of accepting a compliment with grace, generosity and goodwill is a little time, attention and practice.

I’d like to end on a comical note, so here’s a quote about compliments by the incorrigible Mark Twain: “I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always feel they have not said enough.” Ha!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mildred Lynn McDonald – Catalyst & Life Coach | Internet Radio/Podcast Host & Producer

Mildred Lynn’s life adventure whisked her across North America, through the industries of Health & Fitness, the executive halls of Fortune 50 high tech companies, and into the intriguing arena of Life Purpose, Energy Medicine and Environmental studies. She has an advanced degree in Science & Nutrition, training in Adult Education, graduated as a Certified Integrative Coach, and currently combines all three as a Healing Conversationalist.

The common thread has been a love of people and the sincere desire to help everyone live their passion, find balance, and experience life fully and completely. With a little time and patience, she transformed her passion, intuitive gifts, and coaching skills into a vibrant mentoring and life coaching practice. Today, it is her great pleasure to produce/host four popular Internet Radio shows/podcasts devoted to all things mind-body-spirit on BlogTalkRadio, iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher and Podbean. Website: http://healingconversationswithmildredlynn.com

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The Forecast Called for Sprinkles (How I Came through My Personal Tsunami) by Pam Turkin

Quote: Don’t carry your mistakes around with you instead place them under your feet  and use them as stepping stones to RISE above them.
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My name is Pam Turkin.  I am a mom, a wife, a daughter, a baker and admittedly, a serial entrepreneur.  For as long as I can remember I was always doing something.  There were studded gloves and children’s phone books and Forrest Gump T-shirts to name a few.  Most of these early businesses kept me busy enough to stay at home with my kids. That was always my goal.  I never was trying to create anything more than a bit of extra income for my family.

When my kids were very young, my first marriage fell apart and I found myself the sole supporter of my family.  I did what I had to do and went to work.  Though it was hard for a single mom, I relished the opportunity to be involved in a growing company where there was opportunity everywhere.  I joined the marketing team and learned quickly that I had found a place for my creativity to shine. I learned all that one could learn about the marketing of a successful brand and I also found the love of my life, Todd, while at that company.

Through my career I worked with many brands: Ralph Lauren, Caterpillar, M&M MARS and Nike, to name a few.  I was always intrigued by the power of a name and what it could mean to individuals.  I traveled extensively, working with many big box retailers and listened to their challenges.  During this time I also began to notice the “cupcake craze” starting on each coast of our country.  I would travel home to Detroit on the weekends and tell the tale of the endless lines at places like “Sprinkles” and “Magnolia Bakery”.

HOW COULD SUCH A LITTLE GEM MAKE SUCH A BIG SPLASH IN THE FOOD WORLD?
My curiosity morphed into action, and I decided that Detroit needed a “gem of their own.” Just Baked was born.  I spent a year crafting recipes and testing them on my five teenage children and their army of friends, and when this hobby became a business I knew I was on to something special.

The next 7 years were a whirlwind of great adventure as we grew from one small cupcake shop to nearly 20.  There were investors and partners that advised us to take the business in directions I never dreamed it would go. It grew quickly and with great momentum and enthusiasm, as we cemented our place in the bakery world.

Looking back, I can now see that the company was growing at warp speed and somewhere along the way, I lost myself. I lost my direction and let the business wander from the core goals that it had been started with.  And true to many businesses that lose their way, it all came crashing down in an instant.

LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT JANUARY 5, 2015.
It started like the many days leading up to our demise: with fear and apprehension. I had taken a few days to go visit my mother out of town and hopefully clear my head to allow the next course of action to become clear to me.  But on this morning it would be different. My oldest son called, with tears in his voice and told me of my partners’ decision: “they closed the business mom,” he said, “it’s over.”  Though I heard the words I could not process what I had heard. How could that be? My partners had pulled their funding during a major expansion, without warning or explanation. I was devastated. Without warning or financial backing, we were now on our own trying to figure out how to save the jobs of dozens of people who depended on Just Baked to feed their families.

I was crushed.

I spent a good deal of 2015, as I like to say, “Laying on my bathroom floor”.  I went over what had happened like a bad horror movie on loop, always ending up in a wounded place I couldn’t seem to shake.  There were calls from interested employers, new business opportunities but I was not able to see past the wounds that were still there.  I listened, but knew I wasn’t able to accept any of the kind words that people tried to motivate me with.

I do remember one phone interview in which the owner of a very large local business on the other phone said these words.  “Pam, you are not done yet.  This last business prepared you for the next BIG adventure.  You still have greatness in you.  I am not going to hire you, go figure out what’s next.”  At the time I thought he was crazy.  I would NEVER do this again!  But looking back on that call, I heard those words often over the year as a kind and gentle reminder that I would be OK again.

And then the impossible happened. I was on a call with one of my oldest and dearest friends who was “stuck” in her life. As I had done often before, I began to brainstorm with her about all the opportunities she had at her disposal to go out and create a business for herself. And just like that, I began to dream again.  Not about her new business, but about one I had been contemplating.  I had been thinking about a new idea but had given up on myself to properly execute it. However, in this moment it all came pouring out of me like a bathtub that had hit the top and couldn’t help but spill out on the floor.  I did my research and realized my idea was solid.  I left my comfort zone and shared my idea with a few trusted mentors, who encouraged me to get up and move on.

SO HERE IS THE PART WHERE WE ALL CAN STAND AND CHEER.
I would like to introduce Rise Baking.

Rise Baking Pam TRise Baking is a monthly baking subscription service that ships premium ingredients with original recipes directly to your door. The process is simple. Each month you will choose recipes that suit your taste. Then, your shipment will arrive fully stocked with pre-measured and color coded ingredients making the baking process simple.

Rise Baking is a new business that I collaborated on.  I have taken all of my baking skills, knowledge and love of real food, and created a program that will allow any home baker to rival a professional one.   I am very proud of Rise Baking for many reasons, but mostly because it shows that anyone can pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start over again.  I had many kind local entrepreneurs who encouraged and helped me develop Rise Baking as well as encouraged me to believe in myself and get back up again. I plan to do that BOLDLY.

Everyone makes mistakes, and though I’ve made many, I have learned a lot.  I hope my story continues to motivate all the entrepreneurs, dreamers and doers out there to remain positive and to create your story the way it CAN and SHOULD be.

Anyone can “RISE” again even after the most difficult of circumstance and I plan to do just that!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Pam Turkin, Chief Baking Officer of Rise Baking (http://www.risebaking.com).  I am a 54 year old women who has built a successful cupcake retail brand to 20 locations.  In 2015, I lost my business overnight when my partners pulled their funding during a major expansion.  It took me many months to pick myself up but I did!

I created Rise Baking.  Rise Baking is a monthly baking subscription service that ships premium ingredients with original recipes directly to your door. The process is simple. Each month you will choose recipes that suit your taste. Then, your shipment will arrive fully stocked with pre-measured and color coded ingredients making the baking process simple!

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How to Align Your Organization’s Strategies, Products, and Services to Address Climate Change by Marianna Grossman

Marianna-G20132016 promises to be a breakthrough year for global action to address the challenge of climate change. In December 2015, representatives of many of the world’s countries gathered in Paris and agreed to significant action for both developed and developing countries. Now the challenge is to make the changes to our energy systems and how we design, make and distribute products and services. This is the year to push for dramatic advances in the way we manage and use water and how effectively we protect natural resources and ecosystems, including forests and oceans.

We applaud the leadership of California’s Governor Jerry Brown in establishing the Under2MOU for states, provinces, counties, cities and others to dramatically reduce green house gas emissions (GHG) and to catalyze action for energy efficiency and clean energy sources.

Pope Francis authored an important call to action in his encyclical, Laudato Si. This inspiring document was issued on June 18, 2015 and urges all humankind to undergo an ecological conversion, to care for our common home. There is no business case for destroying the planet. And moral values require that we protect the precious Creation on which all life depends.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals issued in Sept. 2015 lay out a vision for a world that works for all people: to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.

The Climate Mobilization is new group working to raise the bar for climate action, recognizing that we are facing a global emergency and must act accordingly to transform our entire economy to be regenerative and to end use of fossil fuels, to protect forests and to ensure a habitable planet for all.

As the United States elects a new President in 2016, Minerva Ventures is working to bring climate action to the forefront of the discussion of our shared goals and priorities. Every business leader should be pushing Congress and our political candidates to put forth bold policies and plans for a rapid transition to a clean energy economy and a sustainable future.

Let us know how we can help you address the risk of climate disruption and how you can take more leadership to create a more prosperous and resilient future for all. Join us on 2/24/2016 for an event to discuss the Resilient Path.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/resilient-path-meetup-tickets-21282511565

Contact: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mariannagrossman

Twitter: @MGrossmanSV

Website: www.minervaventures.com

Email: mgrossman@minervaventures.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marianna Grossman works with companies, cities and other agencies to align strategies, products and services to address climate change at the scale. For nearly 7 years, she led Sustainable Silicon Valley, a multi-sector network applying ingenuity to create a sustainable region and world. Formerly, she was Partner for Innovation and Sustainability at Minerva Consulting and had corporate roles in the automotive, computer and semiconductor industries. Board Service: Transportation Choices for Sustainable Communities, Sustainability Committee of the SF Bay Area Super Bowl 50, ILFI California Congress, Climate Music Project and climate advisory council for City of Palo Alto. Education: MBA, Yale University. BA, cum laude, with distinction in Policy Studies, Dartmouth College.

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Lawyer Up or How I Launched a New Career at Age 50 — and you can too! by Kate Allure

Kate Allure b&w (3) No, I didn’t become a lawyer at the ripe old age of fifty, but I did start a new career as an erotic romance author. In the two years since, I’ve published two books with a respected publisher, Sourcebooks, and established a brand as the author of “Sizzling Romance for Smart and Sexy Women.” In August my second book, Lawyer Up, launched. In writing it, I guess you could say I got to play with lawyers, in my mind anyway.

I never in a million years foresaw that I’d become a professional authoress of steamy stories. It’s been both a joy and a challenge. I’ll admit my achievement didn’t spring out of nothing—I had a non-fiction writing background—but still it took guts and a bit of luck…and that secret ingredient—foot surgery—to get where I am today (more on that later).

But first, here’s how it happened: Years ago I stopped working as a professional fundraiser to care for my two young, special-needs boys. Then, much later, when their care was well in hand I prepared to go back into grant writing with a new, more personal, focus on autism. But then, foot surgery laid me up for several weeks and I found myself writing salacious stories with the mood-enhancing aid of pain meds to help me dream up sexy situations…around doctors, of course. Eventually, the result became my debut book, a trio of stories published as Playing Doctor.

However, jumping back to where I had story nuggets, a fiftieth birthday looming ever closer, and a desire to try something new, I found that writing fiction was fun and freeing and so different from what I’d been doing, but it also required a giant leap of faith to pursue it professionally.

You only live once!
Live life to the fullest.
Everyday is a new beginning. bla bla bla.

All clichés but still true. Ask yourself, do you want to get to the end of your days and wish…wish things were different, wish you’d given it a try, wish you didn’t regret might-have-beens? Not everyone is in a place where they can launch a new career mid-life (and in today’s longer living, I’ve decided that fifty is going to be my mid-life), but for those of you that don’t have any real excuses, time’s a wastin…

If you’ve a dream job or goal that seems out of reach, I urge you to start taking steps toward making it a reality. I can’t promise you’ll succeed, but if you don’t at least try then it definitely won’t happen. And you just might find, as I have, that the effort is as much fun as the achievement. As we say in our house, “No duff sitting!” So, if you have a dream—little or big—here are some basic ideas to get you going:

Start Today
• make a plan and list every step needed to achieve your goal
• inventory your skills and weaknesses; be realistic
• don’t forget to solicit support from friends and family (you’ll need it during setbacks and periods of self-doubt)
• strategize for laying the ground work, whether filling in education/experience gaps or networking in a new field

While the happy-pills and free time recuperating were the catalyst that got me started writing fiction, afterwards I had to take concrete steps to turn my new hobby into a career. For an author this includes attending writing conferences to meet industry professionals, pitching to agents and editors, accepting and incorporating editing feedback, and more.

In my fundraising past, I’d sold other people’s art and now I was selling “me!” Scary stuff. Being told to “take a breath” in my first ever pitch appointment and then to “stop talking” when I didn’t seem to hear that she’d ask for my full manuscript felt awful, but I picked myself up and went back to pitching to anyone who would listen. So, I guess I’m not saying it’s going to be easy and you must want it badly, but still I think I would have regretted more always wondering what might have been. Ultimately, I went home with eight prospects, and surprisingly received an offer from the first lady who I’d pitched. Serendipity. You never know what’s going to happen.

So, for whatever your dream, do the research to find out how to enter the field as well as take inventory of your skills. If something’s lacking you’ll need to make plans to get the education or experience required, but that can be the first step in your plan.

Put the Steps In Your Calendar
• schedule yourself to implement at least one step every week
• expect that you may have to readjust your schedule at times

A plan’s worthless if you don’t do it, so make sure you do something, no matter how small, every week. For a writer this is making sure that you write something every single day. For you, it might be something different, but just make sure you keep moving forward.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
• there will be disappointments, so be ready
• keep striving, but be flexible—success might take a different form than you expected
• celebrate yourself for the effort and for the wins
• Don’t Give Up!

Setbacks may require you to alter your plan but other times you may leap ahead unexpectedly. I have a non-fiction project that hasn’t sold, but I’m exploring self-publishing. It’s a setback but I’m not giving up on something I believe in.

And celebrate your successes. I had a glass of champagne when I got my first offer and then when the book published I threw myself a launch party. When you work so hard to achieve something, you need to take a moment to enjoy the success. Chances are you’ll be back struggling again fairly soon. For me this took the form of rewrites on the second book. I changed editors and in the end rewrote my second book, Lawyer Up, four times. It was a frustrating, emotional period, but I’m thrilled with the end result—a vastly superior book. RT Book Reviews, the gold standard of romance reviews, thinks so to, upping my second book to four stars (the first received a respectable three). Recognize that struggle and setbacks can move you forward too as long as you don’t give up.

Start Today!
Yes, I’ve already said that, but it’s the most important thing you can do to realize your dream. Get started on it today. And don’t forget that there’s an element of luck in everything. If you don’t succeed at first, cut yourself some slack and just keep going.

WARNING — this paragraph is X-rated. As an erotic author I sometimes get asked how I do my research? (wink wink) Obviously, research is important in any field, and today the Internet makes it super easy to learn anything…I mean, seriously, anything! But nothing is as useful as “hands-on” research, and in my field that can be quite…pleasurable. I’ve discovered a whole new world hiding right in plain sight. It’s name is Fetlife and that’s all I’m gonna say, but you can Google it. Oh, and while you’re at it, search on “bunny flogger.” It’s heavenly!!! (believe me, it’s worth three exclamations). Besides researching, I’ve enjoyed writing steamy sex scenes that fit the different professions—doctors, lawyers, and coming up, strong men who work with their hands (yum). In Lawyer Up, I had a great fun writing a sizzling scenario set in a New Orleans courthouse late at night—the stories title, “Of Writs and Writhing,” kinda sums it up nicely.

So this leads to my final piece of advice—if you’re not having fun, you’ve got to rethink your goals. Life really is too short to waste time pursuing dreams that don’t fill you with joy, maybe not all the time but at least some of the time. I’m having a ball with my new career and that’s just as important as any money I make.

You may have noticed that I didn’t really address starting a new career at fifty. That’s because age shouldn’t be a factor at all, unless the looming birthday spurs you to action. Whether your twenty or sixty, if you want something you should go for it. Be realistic about your abilities, but don’t let a mere number stop you.

I’m truly grateful for the encouragement of my friends and family and for the good fortune that has helped me launch a new career at age fifty. AND, you can do it too—at whatever age you are.

Good luck and enjoy!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kate Allure writes erotic romance fiction and is the author of the Meeting Men series for Sourcebooks about real women meeting handsome professional men as they go about their everyday lives—and the fun they have behind closed doors! Her non-fiction writing included working for American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet and penning a weekly arts column. Beyond writing, Kate’s passions include traveling and exploring all things sensual with her loving husband.
Kate’s website: http://www.KateAllure.com
Kate’s fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/KateAllure.Sizzling.Romance
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KateAllure
Watch Kate’s new Playing Doctor book trailer: https://www.facebook.com/KateAllure.Sizzling.Romance/videos/vb.603530653080063/664317833668011/?type=2&theater or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHXNhKO8wpg

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Finding Women in the Information Systems Environment by Beata Green

Beata GREENThere is a marked gap between the number of male and female students enrolled in computer science in schools. That means very few women are entering into a computing career. Moreover, this is a concern, because the lack of women in information systems careers can actually slow down the economy. Not only that, but the risk trickles down to companies who are missing out on the more diverse teams that studies say will make their businesses more successful.

There are a host of benefits to acquiring female talent, one being better returns. Women, when placed in general leadership positions can offer far higher returns to shareholders and investors.

The fact that there are fewer women in information systems means that they can be very difficult to find, let alone attract for a business. However, there are ways to locate the talented female coders you seek.

Explore Different Networks
Do you currently know any female developers? If you don’t, chances are you won’t be able to use your existing networking channels to find them. Instead, try and connect with individuals from other networks, and explore your opportunities there.

Support and Encourage Existing Female Talent
Are there women who are already working for your organisation that would be a good fit in the developer role? Identify the strengths and qualities you want in a female developer, and then set about finding and interviewing them. Ensuring that potential female developers feel supported and encouraged will help them to feel more comfortable with new challenges.

But the challenge lies not only in finding women to work for your company; it will also require a change to the way your existing company culture is structured. It also requires you to effect a change in how women developers are perceived by those who already work for your company.

Change Your Company Culture
If you are currently working with teams of male coders but want to harness female talent, a culture change will likely be necessary. Many business owners believe that new female team members will simply adapt to the existing company culture. However, this won’t be beneficial to the new team member or to your business. To make any team member feel welcome, you must understand how they communicate, and then learn how to communicate in their language. That includes new female team members.

A Non-Competitive Environment
A non-competitive culture can provide far more benefits to your company than a competitive one. When everyone is on the same playing field, individual talent can be utilised far more efficiently. This kind of environment places importance and value on all team members, and can present a much more welcoming place for coders of all genders to work.

Don’t Change the Focus for Female Interviewees
Believe it or not, talking about the work-life balance your company offers will not impress female interviewees. A woman engineer, coder or developer will be interested in the challenges they will be solving at your company, just as male interviewees would. If you have a set of especially difficult challenges that you are dealing with, put the spotlight on these at the interview.

Some studies suggest that even simply removing any gendered pronouns from employee communication before handing it to your team can be enough. When management shows no gender bias, it can set an example for employees. Although this may seem like a simple solution, it can go a long way to communicating to existing and potential employees that you are interested in talent, regardless of the gender from which it may originate.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Beata Green is Managing Director of HeadChannel Ltd., London based bespoke software development company. She is responsible for overall strategic direction and overseeing the company’s continuing growth, building closer client relationships and maintaining best working practices. She enjoys brisk country walks with her red fox labrador and then relaxing in front of a TV crime drama with a glass of red wine.

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