Brain Breaks: How to Ensure Concentration

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and a key focus is Health/Wellness. When you’re focusing on a thought-intensive task the brain can become tired and fatigued like any of your body’s muscle groups. It’s thus important to understand how to manage it to get your maximum productivity. The following contributed post is thus entitled; Brain Breaks: How to Ensure Concentration.

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When you’ve been struggling to concentrate for the last ten minutes and would like to get back to work, it’s definitely time for a break. While it sounds strange, a good break is going to help you to get that work done when you finally sit down again – and you’ll be able to focus a lot better than you did before you got up earlier.

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Here is a handful of ways to help you to take in all that information and feel rejuvenated enough to even remember it in a day or two. It does require some work outside of that break as well but you’ll get there, in the end.

First: Have a walk

When you’ve been sitting in a stuffy study room for a while, what your brain needs more than anything else is fresh, crisp air. Go for a walk, for example, so that you’re able to get some exercise too while you’re at it; the fresh air and the extra exercise will definitely help you to take your mind off whatever you’ve been studying.

The point is that, besides from needing some time off in order to have capacity later on you will also need that break to remember what you’ve been reading earlier. While you’re going for a quick jog or having a longer walk while pondering what to have for dinner, your subconsciousness is working hard on storing away everything you’ve been learning.

It’s the kind of stuff you’ll enjoy when it’s time to use the information you’ve been gathering and you’ll increase your chances of remembering everything a bit better.

Next: Have some fun

Breaks shouldn’t just be about walks and fresh air, though, but it really will help if you opened that window. Get some entertainment instead, for example, and treat yourself to this without getting distracted by simply setting a timer while you study. Read for an hour now, watch your favorite series for half an hour afterwards – or go for shorter intervals than this, if you please.

If you desperately need a new show to watch, as we all do once in a while, it’s a good idea to check out BestVPN guide. These people can help you out with getting access to a variety of other shows so that you can get the most out of your breaks when it’s finally time to enjoy yourself a bit.

Talk to someone about your topics

While it might not sound like a brain break immediately, this is actually going to help your brain to store some of that information and remember it more easily. Just sit down with someone patient and explain what you’ve been learning as if you were their teacher.

Don’t bother with the stuff you don’t know too well and, by all means, avoid opening that book or that webpage to double check what you’ve been saying; the point isn’t to learn, it’s to remember. By the end of this chat, you’ll have a much better idea about what you know really well and what you need to study a bit more so that you’ll be able to use your time a lot better when you need to get back to those books.

What It Takes To Be A CEO

Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) wield a lot of power and control whole industrial sectors.  Their decisions greatly impact the lives of those under them and their influence even rivals that of politicians. They must possess a select collection of skills to ascend their positions and be successful. The following contributed post is thus entitled; What It Takes To Be A CEO.

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To be a CEO is one of the biggest responsibilities in the world. You have a whole company relying on you, and you have your own lifestyle to support through it. But everyone thinks that’s just as easy as setting up a business, figuring out how to run it, and then helping it along its way. Oh no, this is far from what it takes to be a CEO. To be a CEO you have to have so many qualities and skills, that this article truly won’t cover it. If you’re not a CEO at the minute, and you’re just thinking of becoming one, then you really do need to have a general insight of what it takes to be a good CEO. There’s no point setting up your own company if you’re not the right person to do it. If you have your own company at the minute, there’s also no point in moving forward if you don’t know what it takes to be a good CEO. So, let us enlighten you, and show you what we think it’s going to take!

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The Right Skills

You definitely do need the right skills if you’re going to be the best CEO for your company. We’re talking skills like communication, problem solving, and working under pressure. You might think you have all of this at the minute, but we think there are always areas that can be improved. To make sure you have all of the necessary skills, and that you perfect them, we think you should take some business management courses. Don’t think there’s just one that will tell you all, there’s so many different management courses you could go on to make sure you’re the best. Even if it’s just you at the minute, the courses won’t be teaching you how to lead, they’ll be teaching you how you can run a business more than anything!

The Right Vision

The vision you have is essential, and please don’t tell us it’s focused around putting millions in your bank account. Of course this is going to be the end goal, but it shouldn’t be the vision. The vision should be what you think your company should be doing in a few years time, and how you want it to expand. Jos Opdeweegh is a businessman who has been successful throughout his career, and has now wrote articles on the vision that business owners should have, and what they shouldn’t have. If the focus is always on money, the bigger picture of the business could be lost sight of.

The Ability To Lead

The ability to lead is definitely something we want to finish the article with. You have to be that person that your whole team can come to in a time of need, not just when it’s to do with business. We think that’s really what it takes to be a true leader. If you can’t be that person who anyone can come to, you’ll be the person that anyone turns against. There really are some terrible CEOs that bring a company down because they just can’t lead.

Should You Buy To Rent Or Buy To Let As A New Property Owner?

Two of the key focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. There’s a lot of power in buying property and getting into the real estate game. When you buy property, you have the option of living in it, or ‘letting’ (renting). The following contributed post is thus entitled; Should You Buy To Rent Or Buy To Let As A New Property Owner?

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Recently we discussed some of the considerations that you need to make before you decide to invest in property. One of the most important choices is whether you buy to rent or buy to sell. Each poses different advantages and disadvantages. So, let’s explore each of these possibilities and think about which one is right for your needs.

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The first option is to buy and the main benefit is that you can immediately see a financial boost from this decision. At most after buying, you will need to keep the property for a few months. After that, you can resell and hopefully gain a substantial add on to the price you paid.

The other big bonus of buying to sell is that you will not need to worry about the responsibilities that come from letting out a property. Becoming a landlord is certainly not going to be for everyone and the issues that you’ll face can cause a great deal of stress in your life. By making a purchase to sell almost immediately or at least in the first year, you can cut this issue out completely.

That said, there are other problems. If you invest in a new property, then you will likely need to make this investment with a loan. The problem here is that even after you sell, you might not see a significant gain due to the amount you’ll need to pay off in interest to cover the loan.

Instead, you may be better off purchasing a fixer-upper. The issue here is that you can end up with a money pit. As such, you will need to be very careful about choosing the property before you commit to a purchase. There’s a thin line between a property that will be great for flipping and one that will leave you in debt.


The alternate possibility would be purchasing a property to let. The big benefit here is that you’ll have a long-term additional income for your accounts. You’ll get money every time rent is due which can provide a nice cash cushion.

However, you will have plenty of responsibilities including ensuring that a property is safe. For instance, you will need to make sure that you invest in the right equipment from As you might have guessed, this also means more costs and it’s not just about the changes you will need to make to any property you invest in.

You’ll need to pay for a property management team as well. The good news is that by doing this you can get what is essentially going to be a hands-off experience when investing in property. You won’t have to worry about issues with completing fixes, showing new tenants around or accessibility. All this will be covered by your management team.

We hope this gives you an idea of the two main options when you are investing in property that you can consider. Using this advice, you can decide which one is right for your needs. You can learn more about buying to rent on

Are We Heading For A Recession And How Can You Prepare?

Two of the key focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. I didn’t learn until later in life that there are five economic/business ‘cycles’ and whenever there is a ‘Prosperity’ there will eventually be a ‘Recession’, so this isn’t all magic and chance. Once you know that there will be recessions in the future, you can think about how to prepare for them. The following contributed post is thus entitled; Are We Heading For A Recession And How Can You Prepare?

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Are you worried about the potential threat of a recession? It’s understandable if you are because the last time one rocked the global economy, a lot of people suffered. Savings were lost, businesses crashed, pensioners were left penniless and people lost their homes. The last time we had a serious recession was in 2008. Now, you may not be aware of this, but the economy is pretty much like a rollercoaster or a constantly repeating bell graph. It climbs up, remains at roughly the optimum point for a while and then comes crashing back down. It’s a system that never fails and while we can’t predict when the next recession will hit, we know one is coming. However, there are a few questions that need to be answered.

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Will it Be As Bad As 2008?

By economists 2008 is counted as a severe depression for some parts of the world including the UK and America. It was devastating and while it’s not quite the worst case scenario, it wasn’t too far off. So, you would be forgiven for panicking about whether or not another could potentially hit sooner rather than later with this magnitude. The good news is that currently, economists are not predicting a severe recession similar to the Wall Street Crash which actually bordered on a depression. If that happens then it will be a complete shock with very few people actually predicting it. We say very few because there’s always someone that sees this type of collapse coming. You can read more about this on

What Are The Signs A Recession Is Coming?

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One of the earliest signs of a recession is a low level of spending and high unemployment rates. Currently, in countries like America, employment rates are actually high and people are continuing to spend. Indeed, with the festive shopping period in full swing, businesses haven’t seen a slow down although there are noticeable changes as can be seen on

In fact, Goldman & Sachs recently reported that as long as consumers continue on this trend, the fears of a potential recession can be ignored. Ultimately, the general public can keep the economy swinging high. This will actually offset other issues such as failing stocks and high interest rates. Those issues are currently on the market right now and without a high level of spending, we could still reach a recession even before 2018 ends.

There is one important distinction here though with spending. Spending is only a good sign if people can afford it. One of the main causes of the last depression was people spending money they didn’t have and buying homes or investing in property that they couldn’t actually afford. Ultimately, this leads to an economy being built on something that’s no more stable than a house of cards. Eventually, it will come tumbling down.

How Can Private Individuals Plan For A Recession?

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First, if you are living in rented accommodation, inquire with your landlord and check whether they own the property outright. They are under no obligation to tell you this, however many will, to provide you with the peace of mind you need. If they own the property outright, there is less chance, they’ll lose it and you’ll be forced to move out during a recession. If you are currently paying a mortgage on your home, make sure that your budget is flexible for changes and that you will be able to afford a significant increase in costs.

This is all about saving. You need to make sure that you saving as much as you possibly can through the months or years leading up to a recession. It’s crucial that you have a solid amount that you can fall back on if the economy does take a turn for the worse. If you are worried that a recession is on its way, it’s time to cut out the luxury purchases. Instead, you need to make sure that this money is being kept and not just kept but invested.

Any money that you do save should not remain stagnant and must be invested in the right areas. For a recession, you need to focus on the securest and firmest investment possibilities. There are a few choices to consider here.

You can learn about some of the possibilities on sites like One option would be gold. Gold is often considered to be the only true currency because unlike other possibilities it doesn’t rise or fall in value. This means that if you invest in gold, your shares will ultimately remain more or less constant and that’s exactly what you want

Property is another choice that is largely considered to be secure. When you invest in property, it’s important to choose a property that you can afford and that is not going to negatively impact your finances. If you do need to take out a mortgage, you need to make sure it fits your budget and that the rent or resale more than covers the cost.

How Can Business Owners Prepare?

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For business owners, it’s all about cutting costs. When a recession hits, you might experience a severe drop in level of customer interest or the number of customers making purchases. If this happens, then your business model needs to be able to handle the change. The best way to guarantee this is to make sure that your business budget is as tight as possible. Ultimately you need to streamline your company and reduce wastage as much as you can.

You might also want to think about increasing levels of flexibility in your business model. You can do this if you cut out some of the more expensive and permanent parts of your company. For instance, you should think about getting rid of the business model and instead working from home.

The businesses that tend to be hit most by a recession are those selling luxury products and services. If this describes your company, then do consider thinking about refocusing your efforts on delivering budget-friendly options that all clients and customers can afford. You can learn more about selling luxury products on

We hope this helps you handle the potential threat of a recession as a private individual and potentially a business owner.

Ensuring Your Employees Give An A Star Performance

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and to of its key focuses are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. A major part of growing and maintaining your organization is hiring and then properly developing your staff. Doing so will be advantageous while not doing so will have an adverse effect on your overall operations. The following contributed post is thus entitled; Ensuring Your Employees Give An A Star Performance.

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When hiring your employees, you should understand by now the importance of not rushing the process. There are so many things that you need to look out for in order to make sure that you’re choosing the right candidates for the job. You need to ask the right questions, be a good judge of character, and follow up references given to you so that you can essentially have a second opinion on what you’re already thinking. But it doesn’t stop there. Once you have decided who is going to be part of the team, you need to turn them into your business warriors, as they are now the face of what your business, and any mistakes they make will not only reflect it, but it’ll reflect you too. Your faith lies in their hands, so while small errors happen from time to time, you want to avoid all disasters so that you stand a good chance at having the success you want and deserve.

Here are some ideas of how to ensure that your employees are giving an A star performance every single day.

Train them to perfection
If for any reason your employee’s aren’t up to scratch with the latest software or tools, then it is down to you to make sure they learn, and properly. Fortunately, you can offer them all the Onsite Microsoft Excel Training they need, without them even having to leave the office and miss out on anything else that’s happening. So whether you opt for group training, one on one, or taking a complete beginner and turning them into an expert – you don’t have to worry about wasting any valuable time as you will have what you need right at your very fingertips.

Give them the support
Sometimes we can wake up on the wrong side of the bed and be in an awful mood for the rest of the day. Sometimes it can be a lot more severe than that, and yet you may not be able to tell the difference when it’s happening to someone else other than yourself. This is why you need to be a supportive boss that gives their staff all the help they need and require when times get hard. Keep your office door open when you’re not busy, and let everyone know that you’re there to help or even just listen when they need it. While professionalism should always be in your mind and working attitude, we’re still human.

Create weekly or monthly incentives
There is nothing wrong with creating a little more incentive when it comes to your employees finishing and completing tasks to the best of their ability. Of course, one could argue that they’re there to do the job brilliantly regardless of what’s on offer, and while this is true, having an incentive gives people that extra kick up the bum they may need to motivate themselves and be a force to be reckoned with. What you offer doesn’t have to be huge – it can be as simple as a nice bottle of wine up for grabs, or cinema tickets.

Why You’re Not Reaching Your Full Potential As An Entrepreneur

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and two of its key focuses are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. Becoming an Entrepreneur is often easier said than done as it calls individuals to use ‘muscles’ they never knew they had. There are several things to consider. The following contributed post is thus entitled; Why You’re Not Reaching Your Full Potential As An Entrepreneur.

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It’s not easy to be an entrepreneur. What started out as a drive to bring your ideas to life has now turned into something that’s much bigger, and it’s not always enjoyable. There’s the pressure, for starters, which, what with all the tasks you need to complete and so on, can quickly begin to feel quite overwhelming. In order to be the best entrepreneur that you can be, you need to reach your full potential. But how do you get there? Below, we take a look at a number of reasons why you might be held back.


You’re a Boss, Not a Leader

You began as a solo entrepreneur, but pretty soon you took on employees, and now there’s a team of staff! Here’s the thing, however: being a boss isn’t going to take your business to the next level. Being a leader is. Alas, you’re not handed a guidebook when you take on staff that tells you how to lead them. If you’re micromanaging your staff, or you’re not hiring correctly in the first place, then you’ll be keeping yourself in a lower gear. Hire people who are more talented than you are; they’ll bring you up.

Wasting Time

There are a lot of tasks that need to be completed if a company is going to be successful. However, nothing says that you’re the person who needs to be in charge of them. In fact, it’ll be better for your company if you’re not handling the time-consuming or complex tasks, as it’ll free up your time to work on things where you can actually contribute something positive. Instead of wrestling with your technology, for instance, you should hire a company that offers integrated technology services. Instead of spending time figuring out the latest marketing strategies, hire a company to handle it for you. The same can be said of accounting, answering calls, and so on. These tasks will be managed, and you’ll have more time to work on tasks that involve your skills. It’s a win-win situation.

Too Many Good Ideas

To be an entrepreneur doesn’t mean having a good idea after a good idea. It’s being able to tell which ideas are worth pursuing and which should sit on the sidelines. If you have too many good ideas, and try to put them all into practice straight away, then all that’s going to happen is that you’re going to end up with a bunch of half-baked ideas floating around the company. Commit to just one idea, and make sure you’re doing it well.

The Ego Rules

You do need to have some ego in order to be an entrepreneur. After all, you need to believe that the world needs whatever you want to offer it, even if deep down you know that this isn’t really the case. But once you’ve actually set up the company, it’s worthwhile limiting the importance of your ego. It’ll only hold you back, and make you blind to the good ideas of other people.

What You Should Know About Business Automation

Three of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money, Business/Entrepreneurship and Technology. There is a lot of talk these about the increased role of automation in the business world. There are some important considerations to think about in terms of incorporating automation into your operations. The following contributed post is thus entitled; What You Should Know About Business Automation.

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You can’t turn a corner in today’s business world without hearing about automation. By utilizing automation, you can increase the speed, efficiency, and accuracy of your business processes. Things like marketing, recruiting, and time saving can become a breeze, and you and your team will be able to focus on more important work.

Here, you’ll find what you need to know about business automation so you can do it effectively. Take a look and see what you can learn below:


Ensure You Understand The Processes That You’re Automating
If you don’t fully understand the process you’re supposed to be automating, you won’t be able to do it effectively. Make sure you evaluate the process and change it where necessary.

Let Your Team Test Out Solutions
Assign a team to your automation solutions, allowing them to experiment to find the best tools and then test and implement them gradually. Remember to help your team adopt these new automation processes, too. An automation process will only work as well as the team who use it. Most people don’t like change, and it can be hard. Remember to build in change management and training to any workflow automation you introduce. By clicking here your team can begin their exploration of processes that can introduce reduced costs and time savings.

Calculate Your ROI
Although automation can make things much easier when you have it up and running, it’s not always going to be simple. You need to make sure you estimate the time/cost savings that the automaton process will give you, compared to the time and costs it will take to automate the process. Is the amount of time it takes to recoup that investment acceptable?

Consider Security Risks
Anything that is automated and digitized can also be hacked. Automation makes things so much faster for you, but it can also make things much faster for an attacker. Make sure you think about security in advance and plan for it.

Go Slowly And Prioritize
Automating your workflow takes a lot of upfront time and resources, but if you go about automation the right way you will recoup this. However, there are learning curves involved, so going slowly and prioritizing is key. Make a list of what will have the biggest impact on your company and how much work/effort/rich is involved as you implement each one.

Keep It Simple To Begin With
You can’t always predict the issues you’ll run into with automation, so it’s best to start with something simple. You’ll avoid wasting time and resources and you’ll even learn things you didn’t know about your organization. You can carry these lessons forward when you start off simple and it’ll help you to prepare for bigger things will maximizing your productivity gains.

Ensure You Have Super High Quality Control Standards
Automation will have bugs just like any other computer system. These bugs mean you must have a degree of quality control so you can monitor and measure effectiveness and ensure each process is working as expected.

Why You Just Can’t Attract The Right People To Your Startup

Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. An important part of any business/organization is attracting the personnel you need to for it to achieve its mission. The following contributed post is thus entitled; Why You Just Can’t Attract The Right People To Your Startup.

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The early days in most startups are a lot of fun. You’re usually among a team of people you respect and admire and with whom you get on well. There’s a degree of necessity in this: you need to get on so that you can pay back angel investors and venture capitalists.

But over time, startups need to take on more people, whether it’s to develop new products or support the work of the core employees. And here’s where the problems can start. New people joining an organization can often cause conflict and chaos. New arrivals may leave after several weeks if they’re not happy with the conditions. And you, as the founder, are left with the headache of trying to find somebody else to fill the role: something that’s often expensive to do.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you might not be able to find the right people for your business, and how you can fix it.


You Have A Poor Brand Or Reputation

Today’s labor market is entirely different from the labor market of the 1970s and 1980s, yet many businesses still operate as if nothing has changed. For starters, there’s far less unemployment than there was in the era of unionization and coal mining. There are many jobs, and workers have a lot of choices. Low unemployment means that workers can demand higher wages and find better jobs more easily than ever before. They don’t just have to stick with the same employer, decade after decade.

Secondly, talented people know that they’re capable. They know that they can show their CV to another firm and get a job with them quickly. Companies are crying out for people with the skills necessary to drive their businesses forward: there’s a chronic shortage right now.
Startups, therefore, need to be savvy. They can’t just rely on the fact that they provide jobs to attract people to work with them. There’s far too much choice available to people these days, especially at the high end of the market. People who are in-demand can pretty much choose who they work for and when.

Startups, therefore, need to think about how they appear as both a customer and an employer brand. Google, for instance, is one of the most attractive companies to work for in the world because of the well-known job perks the company offers to staff. Incredible office spaces, health cover, exciting days out, time each week to pursue side projects: you name it, the company does it.

Lower down the skill ladder are other companies like Zavvi, which offer excellent pay and conditions for warehouse workers, in stark contrast to some other online retailers.
Successful startups are those who can market their desirability as an employer. It’s not just about great pay: it’s also about what it’s actually like to work at your organization. Most workers would be willing to sacrifice a lower paycheck for a great relationship with their manager, for instance.

Building an employer brand isn’t as difficult as you might think. If you’re a new company, try becoming a member of the employer review site Glassdoor. Glassdoor allows employees to post reviews about their experience of working with you. Their reviews often reveal a lot about the company culture, how they can expect to be treated, and whether their peers would recommend working with you.

You Don’t Do The Basics Right

It’s no secret that startups can be chaotic. When Elon Musk and Peter Thiel were working on Paypal, it wasn’t unusual for them to put in 90-hour weeks. But just because running a startup is difficult, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get the basics right. Just as you would judge an applicant on any spelling or grammar mistakes they made on their CV; high-quality people will do the same for you.

Make sure that you do the following:

● Check your website for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Pay particular attention to the candidate-facing parts of your site. If you’re not a native speaker, find an internal colleague or external professional to proofread your content for you.
Make sure your emails are well-written. Good email writing is a hallmark of a professional company and a signal to high-quality people that you are an excellent employer. Yes, it might seem trivial, but people who don’t know you or your startup usually have very little to go on, and so any obvious and silly grammatical errors may count against you. Make sure that your HR staff knows the difference between “your” and “you’re” – a particularly common mistake.

Your Recruitment Process Does Not Respect Applicants

Some companies are still stuck in the past, believing that there are thousands of people lining up to take a job with them, no matter how rude or obnoxious they are. Firms will host application days where candidates attend mass meetings together only to be berated and ridiculed by company bosses.

Startups should avoid this kind of thing altogether and instead focus on investigating each promising individual based on their merits. They should also be respectful of candidates’ time. That means reducing the length of the application process and ensuring adequate notice of any interview days or on-the-job assessments.

You’re Not Using The Right Recruiters

Inexperienced startups can fall into the trap of thinking that all recruiters are the same. But labour hire is a multifaceted process that involves creating the right linkages to relevant people and knowing where to look. Too many startups focus on building links with a single recruiter, without really thinking about whether that recruiter specializes in the right areas.

Using the wrong recruiters can result in all kinds of headaches for startups. The first issue is the fees, which can be quite substantial. But the main problem is not getting the people you need with experience to drive growth in those critical early months and years. It’s people who drive growth, and so when it doesn’t materialize, it can have a severe impact on your overall business.

You’re Focusing Too Narrowly


Many inexperienced entrepreneurs believe that they must get the people with the exact qualifications and experience that they need, and with a personality that fits their company. If not, they should just keep on looking. But it turns out that this might not be the best strategy.

Elon Musk has repeatedly said in interviews that he wishes that he hadn’t paid so much attention to candidate’s CVs in the early days. He would often find that somebody would have the technical skills on paper, but that they just wouldn’t be very good at their job or fit in with the people around them. Over the years, he found himself regularly surprised by people who weren’t particularly good on paper, but ended up doing exceptionally well once employed in his companies.

Companies, especially startups, shouldn’t expect people to come to them fully-fledged. Instead, they should view candidates as a work-in-progress: something that requires further development as time goes on. Smart entrepreneurs choose people they believe have the potential to develop into the leaders of the future rather than just people with the right skills on paper.

Your Job Advertising Is Boring

If you’re trying to attract exciting, talented people to your organization, you need to give them a reason to read your job ad. Just stating the salary and listing bullet points of the responsibilities of the role is hardly inspiring stuff.

There are all sorts of ways that you could add a bit of “oomph” to your advert:

● Give them a flavor of your company culture. People want to work in exciting, stimulating environments where people are friendly and engaging. If this describes your startup, say so in your job ad, and make it clear that you want people with a similar approach to work as you.
Talk about purpose. Talented people are rarely satisfied with going to work to get a paycheck. They want real meaning in their lives. If your startup is trying to do something that will make the world a better place, then talk about this in your ad. Make it clear that the candidate who gets the job will have meaning and purpose in their role.
Use exciting, personable language. Finally, it’s worth thinking about how you present the job. Many startups believe that they have to be as dry as possible to come across as professional, but doing so is unlikely to attract the most interesting people. It’s much better to use exciting language and to really tell a story about what the job entails. Draw them in – don’t push them out.

You Haven’t Described The Role

Newbie entrepreneurs sometimes struggle to accurately define roles in their businesses, just because their needs change all the time. A startup that needs a software programmer may not know exactly what kind of programmer they need, or what additional responsibilities they may have.

Unclear job ads can lead to employing unsuitable people who leave after a couple of weeks when they realize that they cannot do the work. Be precise about what you need in your advertisements, or consult with external recruiting professionals if you’re not sure.

The Future of Fuel

One of the major focuses of my blog is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). An area that has long been of great interest globally is energy. Fossil Fuels have been the chief energy source for our planet’s ‘First World’ countries, but with increasing world populations there is concern that we will exhaust our natural global supplies. What are our options going forward? The following contributed post is entitled; The Future of Fuel.

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Image Credit: Unsplash

Whether you believe in climate change or you are one of the <1% of people who remains unconvinced, what is clear is that our fossils are running out. With the USA now considering expanding the search for oil to the Arctic, it is obvious that at some point we are going to stop finding reserves that have taken millions of years to appear.

If science fiction is to be trusted, we need to find alternative energy solutions if we want to continue to develop incredible technologies.

Clean energy sources such as wind turbines, solar panels and other methods are all idea for producing electricity. The downside of this is that for technologies not connected to the grid, large batteries will be required to store the energy while disconnected. This means that all types of transport will have to balance being weighed down with the distance they are able to cover.

Why is Clean Energy for Travel So Important?

At the moment, the aviation industry contributes around 2.5% of carbon emissions each year and this is set to rise to around 22% by 2050. This is an enormous problem because while global demands for fast air travel increase, the threat to the environment is significantly raised.

A similar problem is presented in ocean travel. Ships crossing the seas take passengers and goods around the world but every trip introduces pollutants to the water. While you might be able to use oil water separators to limit pollution the amount of oil that escapes, the fact is that the risk of any oil spillage is still very much present.

Even short car journeys are ever more problematic as the air quality of large cities deteriorates as more and more people choose to drive themselves rather than take a bus or train. There have already been rapid advances in electric car technology but much more research is required if we are to achieve the infrastructure necessary for a full transition.

What Are Our Options?

More investment into methods to create clean electricity is already underway, especially in China where a capacity of around 130 GW has already been installed, knocking their already ambitious targets out of the water. This is great news as it means that greener technologies such as electric cars, buses and trains are much more likely to succeed.

But what about air travel?

Well, the research may be in its infancy but there are some promising results coming from experiments into what is being termed ‘ionic wind technology’. With this theory, it could be possible to launch and fly planes long distances in a carbon neutral way and, crucially, with no moving parts. Rather than a combustion engine, the plane uses long thin stems of wire to pass an electric current. This current ionizes atmospheric nitrogen which, when it collides with “normal” neutral air generates thrust.

We may be not be looking at warp drives or ion drives just yet but with the ideas that are floating around at the moment, Science Fiction may not be so unbelievable after all.

Johnson C. Smith University opens its new center for multidisciplinary STEM education and research revisited

I originally published this piece on October 23, 2015 – a shorter version on the Examiner and then this extended version on Dr. Matthew Lynch’s Edvocate. My alma mater Johnson C. Smith University had recently opened its new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) center at Homecoming 2015. It was a very impressive facility compared to those that were available to me and my classmates when I was a student there from 1995-99.

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“The collaboration was strong between the administration, the faculty, and the students to make sure that we had a building that not just reflected the heritage and history of the past, but also what the future would be for this great University,” said Harvey Gantt, one of many speakers on hand for the opening of Johnson C. Smith University’s (JCSU) new Science Center. “Dr. Carter actually had a lot to do with choosing the design approach,” Mr. Gantt continued. “We gave him several alternatives, and when we showed him a rendering of this elevation of the building, in less than 10 seconds, he said, ‘That’s what I want on this campus!’”

On Friday, Oct. 23, JCSU opened its new Science Center with a Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting ceremony as a part of its 2015 Homecoming festivities. The ceremony took place on the walkways between the University’s new structure and its older Rufus Perry Science Hall. The ceremony consisted of:

• A welcome by Monroe Miller (Chairman of the JCSU Board of Trustees);
• An invocation by current student Sydney Henry (Class of 2017, Biology and Chemistry);
• Remarks by: Steve Keckeis (Vice President of Messer Construction), Malcolm Davis and Harvey Gantt (Principal and Principal Emeritus of Bergman Associates), student Jennifer-Lynn Phipps (Class of 2016, Computer Science Information Systems), and Charlie Lucas (Board Member of The Duke Endowment) and finally;
• Closing Remarks by Dr. Ronald L. Carter (President of JCSU).

“The time has now come to cut the ribbon to a new world experience. I can just hear the voices of the freedman who put the bricks in place by night over at Biddle Hall. As they look over here, I can hear them saying this day, ‘Well done! Well done! Well done! Our future holds high,” said Dr. Carter during his closing remarks prior to chanting three times, “J-C!,” to which the audience replied, “S-U!,” the signature call and response of the University’s students and alumni.

While the new Science Center will now be the hub on campus for all scientific coursework and research, the older Perry Science Hall will now be the home for the new Metropolitan College, JCSU’s new department for educating non-traditional students. Some features of the new Science Center include:

• 10 fully equipped labs for Biology, Chemistry and Physics courses and research;
• Four Centers for new science and technology curricula including: the Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainability, the Center for Bioinformatics/Biotechnology, the Center for Medical Informatics, and the Center for Analytical Research and;
• Seven classrooms of various sizes and setups which stay true to JCSU’s commitment to small class sizes and individualized faculty attention.

“This building has been a vision for almost five years. Magdy Attia, Perrin Foster, Monroe Miller, Tom Baldwin and I would sit and dream about it. We knew that it had to be somewhere here on this part of the campus. That vision just had a momentum and Magdy would sentence it in very eloquent ways such that donors started paying attention and saying, ‘This can be done,’” Dr. Carter said afterwards during the open house. Throughout the ceremony, he and the other speakers emotionally paid homage to Dr. Magdy Attia who recently passed away. Dr. Attia, once a Computer Science faculty member and then an Administrator, was a key figure in the conception of the new Science Center.

“Opportunity awaits those who want to work,” said Jennifer-Lynn Phipps in closing to the audience at the ceremony. Ms. Phipps will graduate in 2016, and then work for John-Deere as an Information Technology Integrator. “Remember Smithites we are not only here to smash the mold, but we’re also here to develop ourselves and change the world!”

One of the more intriguing aspects of the new Science Center is the Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainability. The Center is focusing its work on: Wind, Solar and Bio-fuels, and Food Security, specifically helping lower income communities have better access to quality food. Dr. Philip Otienoburu is in large part the University’s expert in Environmental Science issues, a distinction once held by the late Dr. Joseph Fail, Jr.

“It’s all about energy sustainability. We’re looking at future generations and how the environment is going to be protected from the different things that we do to it,” said Dr. Philip Otienoburu. “Long-term sustainability involves not only environmental issues but also social and economic issues as well. How are people going to build resilient communities as the climate changes for instance? How are people going to feed themselves? As you will see a lot of our programs here involve, ‘Food Security.’ This is why we have the Aquaponics and Community garden which is a partnership between JCSU and the surrounding neighborhoods.”

Aquaponics is a polyculture system of agriculture where you grow crops and cultivate fish in one closed loop. The waste produced by the fish, which is for the most part Ammonia, is used to fertilize the crops,” said Dr. Phillip Otienoburu discussing a component of the University’s Energy

Sustainability research work. “In Aquaponics, you use bacteria to make the biological conversions to convert Ammonia into Nitrites, and then the Nitrites into Nitrates which the plants need to grow. We’ve been doing this for about three years now during which we have expanded into Haiti, where we were looking to help communities that were devastated by the earthquake in 2010.”

“The science education here at JCSU has become much more technologically advanced since the late 1990s. As you can see in this building the instruments have become much smaller and in some ways more affordable and we’re able to generate more data. That said, it still involves engaging nature, collecting data and constructing good experiments,” said veteran Chemistry Professor, Dr. Timothy Champion.

“While we still have quite a few students coming in wanting to do Pre-Med, some do change their minds and think about getting Ph.D.s once they have a chance engage the science and do some research,” Dr. Champion continued. “At least in the Biology and Chemistry side though, we also need to prepare some of them for the job market. We can’t fall into the trap of trying to produce copies of ourselves – that is more Ph.D.s. If a student doesn’t go to a Graduate or Professional school there are still jobs out there, so a lot of what you’re here seeing is our wanting to build more sellable skills for the students that they can immediately apply to the job market.”

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As you can see below, I wrote a story about how I earned my STEM degree which focused on my graduate studies at the University of Michigan, post JCSU. I’m currently working on a piece revisiting what I learned at JCSU as it was a also a valuable part of my journey. There were numerous learning points there scientifically.

If you’re a JCSU alumnus and have a background in one of the STEMs, I’m starting a Facebook group called “JCSU Alumni STEM”. I envision it as an ecosystem where we as alumni can give back to JCSU’s current students through: answering any questions, helping them find jobs, and also simply serving as a science forum for the Golden Bull community. If you have something to offer, please join when the group opens up.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed this one, you might also enjoy:

The story of how I earned my STEM degree as a minority
A look at STEM: What are the Basic Sciences and Basic Research?
The transferrable skills from a doctoral degree in the basic sciences
• A look at STEM: What is Regulatory Science?
• A look at STEM: What is Inhalation Toxicology?
• A look at STEM: What is Toxicology?
• A look at STEM: What is Pharmacology?

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