Great Single Player Card Games

May 18, 2017

Card games are a great way to pass the time with a group of friends, but they can also be great fun just by yourself.First of all I will address what makes single player card games so enjoyable. Single player card games have been around for hundreds of years and are a core part of western society. People enjoy them for a number of reasons, the more basic games, such as Klondike and clock solitaire are simple and accessible for most people, this is what makes them so fun, all you need is yourself, a little time and a deck of cards.Some people enjoy the challenge placed by the more complex card games, some find playing single player card games relaxing on a cool summers day. The choices are endless and this is what makes them such a good hobby – once you’ve learnt a couple of single player card games they can amuse you for hundreds of hours, simply because each game is always different, no game of solitaire is the same, and with the number of varieties that are out there, single player card games are one of the best hobbies around.Card games have evolved over the years, today when most people think of solitaire games today, many people would immediately think of the digital versions for computers, and this is a natural occurrence and overall a good thing for single player card games, as times change they need to stay current, however, there are still millions of people who play the “old-fashion way” with a standard deck of cards.

When can I play single player card games? Some single player card games are short (10-15 minutes) while others can range from 30-45 minutes. Once you’ve learnt a number of both complex and simple games, you can choose which to play depending on your time frame.For example if your on holiday and you’ve got a few minutes before your going to the beach, a quick game of Klondike can be the perfect time killer. Whereas if your on the boat on your way to your holiday, a nice long game of La Belle Lucie may be more suited.Now I will attach a brief guide of how to play Beehive Solitaire, which a fun, interesting variant of solitaire:Shuffle the pack. Then, holding the cards face down, count off 10 cards and put them in a pile face up on the table, with only the top card showing. This is the beehive.Deal off the next 6 cards, placing them in 2 horizontal rows of 3 cards each. This is the flower garden into which you try to get the bees, or cards in the beehive, as well as all the other cards. Hold the remainder of the pack in your hand, face down.The object is to combine all the 52 cards in sets of 4 of a kind, such as 4 Threes, 4 Jacks, and so on, by grouping them in sets of 4 in the flower garden, and removing each set when it is completed.Play: With the cards laid out as described, begin to send bees to the garden. If the top card of the beehive is the same in value as any car in the garden, place it on that card. Then the next card in the hive being uncovered may be used if it has the same value as any card in the garden.No card is ever place on the beehive, since the object is to use up all its cards as quickly as possible. Cards are placed only on the 6 garden cards.If 2 cards in the garden have the same value, place one on top of the other, and fill the vacant space with the top card of the beehive. When all the cards of the same value, among the cards on the table, have been combined, deal off 3 cards from the pack in your hand, placing them in a pile face up, with only the top card (the third card from the top of the pack) showing.This will begin a working pile. If the top card has the same value as any card in the garden, place it on the garden card, and use the card it uncovers in the working pile if it, too, has the same value as any in the garden. When you complete a set of 4 cards of the same value in the garden, such as 4 threes, remove it, put it to one side, and fill the vacant space with the top card of the beehive.

When there are no more cards in the beehive, fill a vacant space with the top card of the working pile. Go through the pack 3 cards at a time, placing them face up on the working pile and using as many as you can on cards in the garden, building sets of 4. Then turn over the working pile and go through it again, 3 cards at a time.To win the game: If you combine all the cards in sets of 4, you win. Then turn over the working pile and go through it again, 3 cards at a time. However, if you have gone through the working pile without being able to use a single card, you lose the game.Overall single player card games are one of the best hobbies still around today, they stimulate your brain, are excellent for practising your problem solving skills and have been shown to increase your IQ, so give them a try!

Franchise Agreements, Governing Law and Jurisdiction Issues

May 13, 2017

In franchising franchisors can end up spending huge monies on attorney fees and worse off find them selves simultaneously fighting legal battles in multiple jurisdictions over often frivolous lawsuits brought on by non-performing franchisees and their professional parasites.After watching other franchisors become legally embattled it became apparent to me that our company needed a hedge in this issue. Although we never had this problem I witnessed other franchise get off their game and lose focus on the market and their companies. So, I decided to add this clause to our franchise agreements;

7. MISCELLANEOUS7.1 Governing LawThis Agreement has been accepted and made in the State of ________, United States and all rights hereunder will be governed by and interpreted under the internal laws (and not the law of conflict of laws) of the State of Arizona.7.3 WaiverA waiver of any default or breach of any provision, term, covenant, or condition of this
Franchise Agreement will not be a waiver of any subsequent breach of the same or any
other provision, term, covenant, or condition.Any waiver of any provision of this Agreement must be set forth in writing and signed by the party granting the waiver. Any waiver Franchisor grants will not prejudice any other rights Franchisor may have, and will be subject to Franchisor’s continuing review. Franchisor may revoke any waiver, in its sole discretion, at any time and for any reason, effective upon delivery to Franchisee of ten (10) days prior written notice of revocation.By written notice, Franchisor unilaterally may waive any obligation of Franchisee, their principals, or the guarantors.

Our consent, whenever required, may be arbitrarily withheld if Franchisee are in default under this Franchise Agreement.——— ———— ———–If you are a franchisor perhaps you should run this by your attorney [professional over billing parasite-opinion] to see if such a concept would be right for you. Often these clauses are not allowed in many jurisdictions, but if you’re a dealing with International Interests or regions in country where such clauses are allowed it might be something to ask your lawyer about, who knows? Consider all this in 2006.

What Is the Relevance of Technology?

May 16, 2017

“Technology in the long-run is irrelevant”. That is what a customer of mine told me when I made a presentation to him about a new product. I had been talking about the product’s features and benefits and listed “state-of-the-art technology” or something to that effect, as one of them. That is when he made his statement. I realized later that he was correct, at least within the context of how I used “Technology” in my presentation. But I began thinking about whether he could be right in other contexts as well.What is Technology?Merriam-Webster defines it as:1a: the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area: engineering 2 b: a capability given by the practical application of knowledge 2: a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge 3: the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor Wikipedia defines it as:Technology (from Greek τέχνη, techne, “art, skill, cunning of hand”; and -λογία, -logia[1]) is the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal, handle an applied input/output relation or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, including machinery, modifications, arrangements and procedures. Technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species’ ability to control and adapt to their natural environments. The term can either be applied generally or to specific areas: examples include construction technology, medical technology, and information technology.Both definitions revolve around the same thing – application and usage.Technology is an enablerMany people mistakenly believe it is technology which drives innovation. Yet from the definitions above, that is clearly not the case. It is opportunity which defines innovation and technology which enables innovation. Think of the classic “Build a better mousetrap” example taught in most business schools. You might have the technology to build a better mousetrap, but if you have no mice or the old mousetrap works well, there is no opportunity and then the technology to build a better one becomes irrelevant. On the other hand, if you are overrun with mice then the opportunity exists to innovate a product using your technology.

Another example, one with which I am intimately familiar, are consumer electronics startup companies. I’ve been associated with both those that succeeded and those that failed. Each possessed unique leading edge technologies. The difference was opportunity. Those that failed could not find the opportunity to develop a meaningful innovation using their technology. In fact to survive, these companies had to morph oftentimes into something totally different and if they were lucky they could take advantage of derivatives of their original technology. More often than not, the original technology wound up in the scrap heap. Technology, thus, is an enabler whose ultimate value proposition is to make improvements to our lives. In order to be relevant, it needs to be used to create innovations that are driven by opportunity.Technology as a competitive advantage?Many companies list a technology as one of their competitive advantages. Is this valid? In some cases yes, but In most cases no.Technology develops along two paths – an evolutionary path and a revolutionary path.A revolutionary technology is one which enables new industries or enables solutions to problems that were previously not possible. Semiconductor technology is a good example. Not only did it spawn new industries and products, but it spawned other revolutionary technologies – transistor technology, integrated circuit technology, microprocessor technology. All which provide many of the products and services we consume today. But is semiconductor technology a competitive advantage? Looking at the number of semiconductor companies that exist today (with new ones forming every day), I’d say not. How about microprocessor technology? Again, no. Lots of microprocessor companies out there. How about quad core microprocessor technology? Not as many companies, but you have Intel, AMD, ARM, and a host of companies building custom quad core processors (Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm, etc). So again, not much of a competitive advantage. Competition from competing technologies and easy access to IP mitigates the perceived competitive advantage of any particular technology. Android vs iOS is a good example of how this works. Both operating systems are derivatives of UNIX. Apple used their technology to introduce iOS and gained an early market advantage. However, Google, utilizing their variant of Unix (a competing technology), caught up relatively quickly. The reasons for this lie not in the underlying technology, but in how the products made possible by those technologies were brought to market (free vs. walled garden, etc.) and the differences in the strategic visions of each company.Evolutionary technology is one which incrementally builds upon the base revolutionary technology. But by it’s very nature, the incremental change is easier for a competitor to match or leapfrog. Take for example wireless cellphone technology. Company V introduced 4G products prior to Company A and while it may have had a short term advantage, as soon as Company A introduced their 4G products, the advantage due to technology disappeared. The consumer went back to choosing Company A or Company V based on price, service, coverage, whatever, but not based on technology. Thus technology might have been relevant in the short term, but in the long term, became irrelevant.In today’s world, technologies tend to quickly become commoditized, and within any particular technology lies the seeds of its own death.Technology’s RelevanceThis article was written from the prospective of an end customer. From a developer/designer standpoint things get murkier. The further one is removed from the technology, the less relevant it becomes. To a developer, the technology can look like a product. An enabling product, but a product nonetheless, and thus it is highly relevant. Bose uses a proprietary signal processing technology to enable products that meet a set of market requirements and thus the technology and what it enables is relevant to them. Their customers are more concerned with how it sounds, what’s the price, what’s the quality, etc., and not so much with how it is achieved, thus the technology used is much less relevant to them.

Recently, I was involved in a discussion on Google+ about the new Motorola X phone. A lot of the people on those posts slammed the phone for various reasons – price, locked boot loader, etc. There were also plenty of knocks on the fact that it didn’t have a quad-core processor like the S4 or HTC One which were priced similarly. What they failed to grasp is that whether the manufacturer used 1, 2, 4, or 8 cores in the end makes no difference as long as the phone can deliver a competitive (or even best of class) feature set, functionality, price, and user experience. The iPhone is one of the most successful phones ever produced, and yet it runs on a dual-core processor. It still delivers one of the best user experiences on the market. The features that are enabled by the technology are what are relevant to the consumer, not the technology itself.The relevance of technology therefore, is as an enabler, not as a product feature or a competitive advantage, or any myriad of other things – an enabler. Looking at the Android operating system, it is an impressive piece of software technology, and yet Google gives it away. Why? Because standalone, it does nothing for Google. Giving it away allows other companies to use their expertise to build products and services which then act as enablers for Google’s products and services. To Google, that’s where the real value is.The possession of or access to a technology is only important for what it enables you to do – create innovations which solve problems. That is the real relevance of technology.

Outsource Your Online Business Creation And Focus On Marketing

May 18, 2017

When marketing online, you will tend to try to do everything by yourself in order to save money. Good if you are expert in everything that you intend to do but you are just wasting a lot of time and effort if you are new and try to learn everything. What you should do is outsource those skills that you do not possess and concentrate on your online marketing efforts.Imagine putting all your hard work into creating your online business and when you are done, the results are nothing but mediocre. If you are not good at something, admit it and get someone who is good at doing it to do for you.

Here are 3 types of business creation steps you can outsource.1. Website DesignIf you know zilch about HTML, PHP, FTP, etc; you shouldn’t really look into learning all of them. While they are good knowledge to possess, sometimes it is better to get a website designer to do them for you.There are many web developers online and the prices of website creation are not that expensive unless of course if you are looking to do a huge website.2. Graphics DesignIf you cannot design graphics, then stop pretending to be an artist. Graphic designers online have now become more sophisticated and with the advent of terms such as Web 2.0, the learning curve has been longer than ever if you want to do the same.What you can do is either but graphics which have been pre-designed and insert them on your websites or simply get a custom graphic designed for you. You will certainly appreciate the more stunning designs that can be created by graphics designers.

3. Writing ServicesWell, not everyone can write well. Thus you can always hire writers to write the content of your website for you. Armed with experience and mastery of the language plus an eye for researching about various topics, writers can make your job easier and you do not even need to reach out for a pen or type away endlessly on your keyboard.While there are many other services which your can outsource like search engine optimization and website submissions, you will do well to pay for such services and focus on your marketing instead.

Private Banking Services Vs Retail Banking

May 19, 2017

Private banking is a much more personalized banking service given to individuals who invest substantial sums, typically over U$S1M. The most noticeable difference between retail and private banking services are that private clients receive customer service on a 1-1 basis via a relationship manager or a private banker. Wealthy individuals with private accounts can expect to meet their bank contact in person, and have direct phone access to a relationship manager. Usually the private banking arm of a bank is separate from the retail banking arm and the service is completely distinct.A private bank is one that is not incorporated. Private banks are favoured by conservative investors because the directors are personally liable, and more likely to be cautious in managing client funds. Financial institutions like these are sometimes family owned and only cater to the very rich. One of the reasons why wealthy people choose them is their confidentiality – a pledge to maintain client records secret. For some it is a case of not wanting to be targeted by criminals, lawsuits or corrupt governments. Others use this secrecy to shield income from authorities like the IRS and evade tax.

Many of the world’s private banks are found in Switzerland because of the strict bank secrecy laws and sophistication of Swiss financial services. Small banks in countries like Switzerland are also more likely to keep their client records secret because they limit their operations to within the country’s bank secrecy laws.Not only private banks offer private banking services – in fact some of the biggest providers of private banking and wealth management services like UBS, Credit Suisse and the Barclays are not privately owned. Private clients of these huge banks can take advantage of their in-house trading and research departments, and sometimes choose to have almost all their assets managed by the bank. This way they expect much higher returns than those given by a simple savings account or certificate of deposit.Types of Private Banking ServicesUsually only very affluent clients demand wealth management – where private bankers manage an investment portfolio for a family or an individual. The fee for this service varies from bank to bank and is charged yearly as a percentage of the total amount invested. The return of a portfolio will also depend on the standard of the private banking service. While some will provide excellent returns, others will continue to charge high fees while investing client funds in the bank’s own investment funds, regardless of whether or not this is beneficial to the client.

A popular alternative to wealth management is Self-Directed private banking, where the client manages his own portfolio, at times calling on advice from the bank. The advantages of this type of account are lower fees and greater personal control.Inheritance and tax planning are extra private banking services provided either directly or by referral for an extra fee.

India Debt Collection Business

May 7, 2017

Until the emergence of debt collection business, debt collection in India, was never treated as a specialized job and was always treated as one of the jobs that legal departments of the banks and financial institutions were required to undertake. A typical legal department of an organization would approach the collection job strictly as a legal issue rather than as a revenue collection measure. Litigation would be the only tool used for recoveries and no other tool was either known or used by the industry. Litigation as a recovery measure always had its own limitations due to long and winding court procedures the Indian legal system is always criticized for. On the other hand, foreign banking firms introduced the concept of specialized debt collection services. Debt collection services became one of the many services that began to be outsourced to specialized agencies. The collection business had a very humble beginning and it barely qualified as a specialized service.However over a period of time with the emergence of India as a global outsourcing destination the domestic businesses also adopted the outsourcing as an efficient business tool. With the result today, the third-party debt collection industry plays an important role in the Indian economy. The industry employs hundreds of thousands of Indians as collection professionals, who are servicing several industries ranging from banks, to telecom service providers to insurance companies. Typically, only small recoveries arising from periodic billing defaults by the customers are outsourced to the collection agencies. Not only the collection business has become a direct source of employment to thousands but its contribution to the economy is more pronounced because it helps infuse money back in the economy that otherwise would have remained uncollected. The economic benefits of third-party debt collection are significant. Citibank is the pioneer in introducing third party collection techniques in India.The debt collection industry in India also has grown sharply this year as higher borrowing costs; rising inflation and the general slowdown in the economy force more companies and individuals into difficulties. Underlying debt has gone through the roof and lenders and organizations increasingly want to move any bad debt off their books. Whether it is a high street bank, a credit card lender or a mobile phone company, growing numbers are turning to professional debt collectors in a more difficult environment.The debt collection industry in India is growing at a faster pace and is surely poised for growth. The credit card outstanding have shot up by a whopping 87% at USD 6114 Million during this year, from USD 2844 Million in the period year ago. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which regulates the banking industry in the country encourages banks to shift bad loans off their books more quickly because they will be required to hold more capital against risky assets that may default.COLLECTION INDUSTRY – UNREGULATED SCENARIOThe collection business has its own inherent shortcomings due to unregulated and primitive nature of this business in this country. The persons employed in the industry are untrained both in soft skills and legal skills. Being unregulated, the procedures are not standardized and there are no industry specific checks and balances. Still litigation is used as the last resort tool for recoveries. However the industry has been accused of manipulating the legal system to their advantage by using courts as their agents of recovery. It is seen that big corporations with large volumes of recoveries have unwritten understanding with the local courts at the lowest level. With the patronage of minuscule minority of pliable judges simple civil defaults are registered as criminal cases thus pressurizing the debtors into paying the dues. Slow and long civil recovery court process has no takers in this age of instant results where revenue targets are the most sacrosanct. Under such strict and cut throat environment, there is pressure on the banks to keep their account books healthy therefore such aggressive and extra-legal methods are employed for quick recoveries.

GOVERNMENT / RBI INTERVENTIONDebt collectors in the past had a lot of leeway and it wasn’t uncommon for collectors to embarrass, harass or humiliate debtors by adopting extra-legal measures. In the absence of any regulatory regime the courts had to step in by laying down guidelines for the industry to follow. After the intervention of judiciary, the RBI woke up to the need of regulating the unruly collection agencies and laid down its own guidelines for the banking industry to follow.The guidelines prescribed by RBI are enforced against the banks that have contractually employed collection agencies. The banks in turn via their contracts with the collection agencies ensure that the RBI guidelines are followed. Now, under the RBI guidelines it is illegal to threaten violence or cause harm to debtor, use obscene language, or repeatedly use the phone to harass debtors. In addition, collection agents cannot seize or garnish a consumer’s property or wages without recourse to court procedure.The following are few of the core underpinnings of the collection process. These are the norms formalized by the top bank in India – RBI.1. DSAs/DMAs/Recovery agents to get minimum 100 hours of training.2. Recovery agents should call borrowers only from telephone numbers notified to the borrower.3. Each bank should have a mechanism whereby borrowers’ grievances with regard to the recovery process can be addressed.4. Banks are advised to ensure that contracts with recovery agents do not
induce adoption of uncivilized, unlawful and questionable behavior or recovery process.5. Banks are required to strictly abide by the codes pertaining to collection of dues.RBI in the draft guidelines issued for banks engaging recovery agents, has asked banks to inform borrowers the details of recovery agents engaged for the purpose while forwarding default cases to the recovery agents.The Reserve Bank of India has also considered imposing a temporary ban (or even a permanent ban in case of persistent abusive practices) for engaging recovery agents on those banks where penalties have been imposed by a High Court/Supreme Court or against its directors/officers with regard to the abusive practices followed by their recovery agents. An operational circular in this regard has been issued in November 15, 2007.Other LawsStill the non banking debts collection business is outside the purview of any regulator. There are no licenses or registrations to be obtained from any regulator to pursue collection business in India. The extant guidelines applicable to banking industry are found inadequate as they address only the problem of debtors’ harassment and the guidelines do not regulate the industry as such. The Government is well aware of the need of having a specialized legal mechanism for recovery of institutional debts which has become a huge problem for the entire banking industry.Every bank is grappling with the non-paying accounts, known as Non Performing Accounts (NPA) in the Indian banking parlance. The problem has taken enormous proportion and threatened the economy. Creation of Debt Recovery Tribunals in the year 1993 was a step in the direction of facilitating fast recoveries by the banks . The intention behind creation of such Tribunal was to ensure that banking industry was provided with its own recovery mechanism that was part of the legal system but at the same time exclusive to the banking industry. Bank debts above USD 22,727 could be recovered through the Tribunals.However, over a period of time it was realized that this new mechanism did not yield the desired result since the recoveries were still slow and due to shear volume of work, the Tribunal became like any other court. The whole objective of having a fast track and efficient recovery mechanism was therefore defeated. Bank debts still remained a major problem to be solved since it affected the entire economy of the country. The Government felt the need of having a mechanism that was minimally dependent on the courts for effecting recoveries since the legal system could not be reformed overnight. Therefore instead of reforming the court procedure the government did some clever thinking and came up with a legislation that minimized the intervention of court and empowered the banks with special powers using which the recoveries could be affected.The government thus came up with a new law Scrutinization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act) where under the banks are allowed to liquidate security given by the borrower for recovery of their dues. This law also paved the way for creation of asset reconstruction companies that take over the security interest of the debtors. These agencies are thus another form of debt collection agencies that have been institutionalized.The need to share credit information among the banking industry was also felt in order for the industry to benefit from each other. Thus Credit Information Companies (Regulation) Act was enacted in the year 2005.INDIAN LEGAL SYSTEM AND COLLECTION PROCESSESThe Indian legal system is absolutely fair and assures justice to the party involved. There are remedies available under the law to collect the debt, if the debtor does not agree to pay under normal circumstances. The creditor may file a suit for his recovery. Debts based on written contracts could be recovered by following fast track procedure. If the debtor is a company, creditor / his lawyers may apply in the ‘Company Court’ for winding up of the company due to non-payment of substantial amount of debt. Summary trial is another way. The process may take time-1 to 2 years. Evidences are recorded appropriately and produced in the court of law, whenever required. There is also the arrangement of appeal to be filed at later stage.
US OUTSOURCING SCENARIOIndia has attracted many technology jobs in recent years from Western nations, particularly the United States. Now, it is on its way to becoming a hub in another offshore outsourcing area – debt collection. According to the industry report, units of General Electric, Citigroup, HSBC Holdings and American Express have used their India-based staff to pursue credit card debt and mortgage payment by calling defaulters.

US debt collection agencies are the newest to start outsourcing their work to India and are satisfied with the results produced by the polite but persistent Indian experts. After insurance claims and credit card sales, debt collection is a growing business for outsourcing companies at a time of downturn in the US economy when consumers struggle to pay for their purchases.Debt collection is a vital and growing component of US economy. There is more than $2.5 trillion in outstanding consumer debt. As a result, the third-party collection industry makes more than one billion contacts with consumers each year. Recently this year, more than $39.3 billion in debt was returned to creditors.Indians have the advantage of lower salaries and other expenses, which cut drastically costs of collecting debts. Debt collectors in India cost as little as one-quarter the price of their US and European counterparts and are often better at the job. Many such Indian firms run 24-hour services. Indian debt-collection companies comply with strict regulations on operations in the American and / or European markets.
SUMMARYIndia has a long way to go in establishing a mature collection services industry. The collection business needs to be regulated and empowered with legal powers to become an effective tool. Already, there is a realization in the country that court dependent recovery is an inefficient way of way of debt collection. Creation of Assets Reconstruction and Securitization Companies under the SARFARESI Act is a step in the right direction of recognizing debt collection as an independent and specialized business function. While some progress is made for the bank debts but still for a large volume of unrealized non bank debt there are no professionally managed and regulated third party collection service providers. Non bank debts are largely unsecured that makes it even more difficult to realize. No big corporations and business houses are interested in acting as collection agents without there being an attraction of valuable security asset. Lawyers can fill this gap by providing collection services for non bank debts. Indian law does not permit contingency fee that makes the business less lucrative. India is therefore ready to benefit from foreign experience, expertise and ideas to create an efficient debt collection industry of its own at par with global status. This need is more felt now by India due to its global ambitions wherein India must adopt globally recognized practices and models. Transnational businesses need a uniform operating system for seamless transactions. Efficient debt collection industry will only instill confidence in companies doing business with Indian companies. Collection professionals have this challenge facing them of creating an efficient system that reduces people’s dependence on court supported recoveries.

Rep V. Direct: How to Best Organize a Sales Team

April 29, 2017

Sales executives are constantly searching for the ideal structure of the sales team. Should the team be composed only of direct sales people? Should the team be composed only of manufacturers’ representatives? Experience shows that a hybrid sales organization, composed of a blend of direct and indirect sales employees (manufacturers’ representatives), combines optimal performance, cost effectiveness and flexibility.If one observes several sales organizations over an extended period, she’s able to see that relatively often, sales executives make sweeping changes to those organizations, from all direct to all rep, and from all rep to all direct. Invariably, the observer is able to note that sales management ultimately reverses many of those sweeping changes. Sometimes sales executives benefit from observing changes made by others. Unfortunately, too many sales executives develop the understanding of the benefits of a hybrid organization by making one or more poor decisions and then repairing the organization after problems surface. The most durable of sales organizations are those that use a hybrid technique, employing a mix of both direct sales staff and manufacturers’ representatives. Sales teams composed entirely of all direct people or entirely of manufacturers’ representatives are generally not ideal.Why “Direct Only” Teams Are Not IdealMany CEOs and executive teams believe that the best way to build relationships with customers is with a sales team composed only of direct employees. In this example, sales staff cannot be distracted with unrelated business and other product lines. No one can blame the inexperienced CEO and executive team for thinking this way. A salesperson is able to devote 100 percent of this time to the company. A direct sales team suffers from far fewer distractions than a rep sales team. However, experienced CEOs and executive teams understand that they must thoroughly look at a direct sales team before converting to it. Direct sales teams are quite expensive to train and support. The company must support offices in all major markets. Those offices bring along with them assorted costs: rent, administrative support, office equipment, utilities, etc. A competent manager who can work well and represent the company without direct supervision must manage the office. The company must train and occasionally upgrade each office manager.When sales are growing, the office manager must hire and train new sales staff. The company must train the manager in hiring and training techniques. The company must also train the office manager in firing techniques, in hopes of avoiding legal problems.As sales grow, the office must expand to meet growing demands upon the sales office. Cost of sales rises as sales grow. Sales, however, do not grow forever. Ultimately, sales flatten and roll over. Sales usually roll over earlier and more abruptly than hiring plans. Sales may dip at anytime during the year, but hiring plans are usually set at the beginning of each calendar or fiscal year. As a result, hiring is sometimes still underway when industry and office sales are falling. Such dynamics create an environment whereby cost of sales, (as measured by the total cost of running the sales office, divided by the total revenue that the office generates, expressed as a share of sales) rises rapidly.

When a sales office has healthy sales, the company can manage its cost of sales and support them at a predetermined level. If sales grow for a long period, the company can manage the office to cut cost of sales. The sales office can benefit from economies of scale. A sales office supporting 20 salesmen doesn’t need more copiers, fax machines and conference rooms than an office supporting only 10 salesmen. Unfortunately, sales ultimately roll over. It is difficult to cut costs immediately. The office manager must usually see several months or quarters of declining sales before realizing that he must cut costs, including headcount. During this time, cost of sales rises, sometimes well above tolerated levels. The sales office manager and the company cannot cut costs quickly. Which is a chief reason that totally direct sales teams are undesirable.Why “Rep Only” Teams Don’t Yield Peak PerformanceRep only sales organizations afford a number of benefits to the sales executive. The sales teams are already in place. Hiring and firing of salesmen is not the direct responsibility of the sales executive or his regional sales managers. Manufacturers’ representatives generally hire and fire as sales move up and down. The cost of running a rep only sales organization rise and fall directly with the level of sales. A significant benefit of the rep only sales organization is that cost drops immediately when sales drop. It’s possible to accurately forecast cost of sales as a share of total revenue. Cost can never get out of control by hiring too many salesmen, buying too many computers, or leasing too large an office; not infrequent problems for direct sales organizations.Manufacturers’ representatives are not always the panacea for companies looking to hire or expand a sales organization. Large customers often demand direct sales staff; not indirect staff from a manufacturers’ representative. Large customers view their largest suppliers as strategic partners, and like the ability to communicate directly with those suppliers. Communications is sometimes slower and less clear when a customer must communicate with a manufacturers’ representative, who in turn communicates with the supplier. Customers may set the style with which they deal with suppliers as part of their purchasing strategy. For example, they may decide to deal with no more than two or three suppliers on any commodity and to deal with those suppliers directly. This disallows conducting business through manufacturers’ representatives. A supplier must recognize and honor such a strategy, or be ready to suffer undesirable consequences. A supplier must never turn a tin ear to a request from a customer demanding direct sales representation.Large suppliers view their largest customers as strategic partners, and like the ability to communicate directly with those customers. They view the delay when communicating through a manufacturers’ representative as an unnecessary burden. When large suppliers invest management time with strategic customers, they do not want to dilute that investment by sharing management time with manufacturers’ representatives. The incapacity to offer direct coverage to strategic customers is the primary reason that a sales team composed only of manufacturers’ representatives is unattractive.First and Foremost: Do No HarmRecognizing that something is wrong, many sales executives make bold, sweeping structural changes to their sales teams. Fire all reps and hire a direct sales team. Fire all direct salesmen and hire a network of manufacturers’ representatives. Either approach will certainly repair some problems. More than likely, however, extreme changes are very prone to creating new problems of equal or greater scale.Why do so many companies replace one poor-performing sales organization with another that destined to yield performance that is no better than the original? The two most common reasons are inexperience and weakness of the sales executive compared to the rest of the management team. Perhaps the inexperienced sales executive has risen through a single company with an all-direct or all-rep sales force. Now, managing the global sales organization, he opts for sweeping change from all-direct to all-rep, or from all-rep to all-direct sales without benefit of understanding thoroughly the benefits and problems with either a pure-rep or pure-direct organization. Alternatively, the inexperienced sales executive may have developed his management skill at a company employing an all-direct sales organization. He may not feel comfortable managing if hired into an all-rep company. No one can fault a sales manager if he sees massive problems and concludes that he must make sweeping change to an all-direct sales organization. Only inexperience allows him to make a major, highly disruptive change.Another reason companies make dramatic changes in the structure of a sales organization is that the sales executive is weak. If cost-of-sales, expressed as a share revenue is too high, the CEO, the rest of the executive team, or both can apply pressure on the sales executive to affect change and cut cost. If the sales executive lacks the strength to defend his team or the structure of the sales organization, he merely becomes the messenger, not the manager.

The message to the sales executive feeling pressure to make sweeping change in a sales organization is to adhere to the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm. Any sweeping change imposed upon the structure of a sales team will initially be disruptive. Make sure to justify the disruption and be very sure that the change, once implemented, is most likely irreversible. Sweeping change brings disruption, higher cost of sales and lower productivity. All of this might be worthwhile. However, if a sales manager imposes sweeping change and then reverses course within a year or two, disruption from the reversal is much greater and more costly. A reversal of an organization change brings with it disruption, higher cost of sales and lower productivity just like the original change. However, an organizational reversal can erode the sales team’s enthusiasm. A company can handle disruption, higher cost of sales and lower productivity if repaired relatively quickly. Repair of an unmotivated sales team takes much more time.”Hybrid Sales Teams” Work BestA supplier always looks to optimize its sales organization. If a company continuously focuses on cost of the sales organization, use of manufacturers’ representatives is mandatory. The benefits of manufacturers’ representatives are too great to ignore. However, manufacturers’ representatives may not satisfy the requirements for some customers. Strategic customers demand direct interface, excluding the use of reps. The best alternative then, is to merge some of the best features of both a rep and a direct sales organization. Implement a direct sales team to cover the sales to all strategic customers, while simultaneously bringing about a sales team of manufacturers’ representatives to cover all other customers.A hybrid sales team benefits from the cost effectiveness of manufacturers’ representatives. The same team can deal directly with strategic customers. The sales executive may take advantage of the non-disruptive flexibility when adding or deleting customers on strategic customer list. A secondary benefit of a hybrid sales organization is bench strength. Well-seasoned, top-performing direct sales personnel represent a talent pool from which from which to draw regional sales managers.ConclusionExperience shows that a hybrid sales organization, composed of a blend of direct and manufacturers’ representatives combines optimal performance, cost effectiveness and flexibility. The most durable sales organization is one that uses a hybrid technique. Sales teams composed entirely of all direct staff or entirely of manufacturers’ representatives too often underperform.

Purchasing a New Automobile

May 7, 2017

Should you be considering the purchase of an automobile, there are some common traps that you will be smart to elude. Continue reading to find out how you can obtain the best deal from your bargaining.As you are dealing with a salesperson at an automobile dealership, you want to make certain that you maintain the position of control. Making sure that the salesperson is aware of the fact that you are looking solely for the best price with no regard for loyalty to any dealership should keep him off balance. You must drive the dialogue.As you affirm your place as the one controlling the negotiations, do not forget that the salesperson is not your buddy. Do not establish an amicable relationship with a salesperson until you have signed the forms and the deal is done. Up to that time, he is just representing the dealership in your particular business deal.

The salesperson surely will try to create a friendship with you since such a personal empathy will increase the probability that you will agree to unfavorable prices and terms. It is for this reason that you must maintain the relationship as a serious business transaction.Performing some research before you go to the dealership will help your bargaining position. Check the newspaper for advertisements showing prices for the automobile in which you are interested. You can also obtain good insight by finding the Kelly Bluebook value of the vehicle.Should you be determined to discover just exactly what the vehicle is going to cost, find several previous customers who purchased the automobile you want and examine the terms of their sales contracts. With this data, you can calculate the best cost for your automobile by contrasting baseline price plus the cost of add-ons.

Remember that the dealership needs your business more than you need the dealership! They cannot simply scare up another customer, but you certainly can locate another dealership should you not get satisfactory terms.Lastly, do best to exude confidence via your speech, actions and even your stance. Demonstrate to the salesperson that you have no self-doubt whatsoever, and he will not have the opportunity to use it against you. Do not forget that you are in charge! And never agree to buy the vehicle until such time as you are satisfied with both the vehicle and the terms of the sale.

Start Your Italian Vacation With Roman Art History

May 2, 2017

You have chosen to go to Italy for your vacation this year, to find that ancient Rome which is said to assert, even these days, its influence in all areas of our cultural, intellectual, and technical life. In a sense, you are delving into your individual roots, even in the event you also plan to check out the contemporary scene, the shops, the restaurants, the bustling cities. You are individual experiences at home have prepared you for an appreciation of the modern, but are you prepared to appreciate the historic civilization of Rome, the artifacts which are left of the empire and that stand out as visible reminders of bygone times? In the event you wish to fully appreciate that past, prior to you go, take a little time out of your hectic schedule to study Roman art history, Roman painting, Roman sculpture, Roman architecture, in order that once you stand just before it, its speaks to you as it spoke to individuals Romans long ago at the dawn of Western man.

As soon as you open a book on Roman art history, you will find that the Romans have been lovers of Greek art. Outstanding in literature, poetry, history, philosophy, the Romans seemed to let their fascination with Greek art dominate their entire outlook on art, so significantly to ensure that numerous art historians fail to see something that clearly sets Roman art off from Greek art. To some extent, this is true. The Romans imported Greek art from every age of Greek art, from the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods. Not only did they import these styles, but they also imported Greek artists to produce new operates for Rome. Roman writers on art in individuals times hardly wrote something on Roman art, but they wrote copiously on Greek art, lauding it as the height of artistic endeavor. So fascinated have been they by the Greeks, the Romans did not even record the names of their individual artists, yet the art criticism from people times lavish praises on the Greeks: Phidias, Praxiteles, Polyclitus and other famous Greek artists. Entranced by the Greeks?who would not be?the Romans had been without question, artistic imitators of the Greeks.You may well do well when preparing for your vacation to Italy to give some consideration to Greek art history, seeing how influential the art of Greece was in Roman art history. Perhaps, if you’re going primarily to witness the artistic tradition of the West, you may do just too to very first visit Greece, Athens, in order to obtain a full sense of the origins of Western art.In the event you have time only for Rome, you will still be exposed to the Greeks styles expressed through the vision of historical Rome. Your reading in Roman art history will also help you distinguish individuals contributions that happen to be distinctively Roman?yes, they did expand on Greek art, creating a specifically Roman expression. The Romans had been not able to totally eliminate their personal unique history from their operates. The influence of their Etruscan forefathers emerges in a lot of the sculpture and architecture of the later Roman period. Read a history on Roman art and learn far more on what distinguishes Roman art from Greek art. Once you stand previous to the temple of Sibyl in Tivoli, outside the Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia, inside the Colosseum, inside Pantheon of Rome, you will see much more than architecture; you will see historical Rome.

The Fine and Performing Arts & Education

May 14, 2017

Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. (Paulo Freire)I see too many public service commercials-today-exhorting us to support the Performing and Fine Arts in public education. We, as a nation, have evidently become so low-brow, or unsophisticated, that we can no longer see the need for Art education in our schools. So now, we have our children pleading with us, on television commercials, to keep Art education alive. This is a sad state of affairs for us and our children, because art is what truly separates us from the beasts and allows us to rise above the mundane drudgery of life. As many others, I believe art should be at the center of education and not just because it’s good for us. Art stimulates a child’s cognitive and affective domains, as well as their motor skills, which leads to learning, discovery, creativity and motivation.Academics are very important, of course, but too often they only stimulate a very small portion of the student’s mind and heart. There are three, basic domains of learning: the Cognitive (mind), Affective (emotions or feelings) and Motor-Skills (hands-on). These three domains are key to our thinking/reasoning, learning, problem solving and creating. A healthy mind (Cognitive) is capable of taking in, retaining and processing information, which can then be applied, if retained and used, to the individual’s life. Emotions and feelings (Affective) are closely connected to an individual’s learning, because they aid in retaining and applying information, as well as stimulating the desire to learn more. Seeing, hearing, speaking, the ability to write, walk and run are all part of the individual’s Motor-skills. Without these three domains, learning, needless to say, would be impossible. Reading, writing, math and the sciences stimulate the cognitive and motor skills domains quite effectively, but the affective is too often short changed.If we think back to our school days, then we should be able to remember that the memorization of facts and successfully spitting them back out on tests was our main concern as students. This is very much a part of the learning process, and I’m not denying that, but where does the Affective domain play a significant part in this teaching process? In much of this way of learning the affective is absent, and-therefore-much of the educational material, which has just been learned, has no real application in the individual’s life and is forgotten. I remember very little about higher level math, the periodic table and scientific jargon. Why is that? It didn’t relate to my life nor touch me in a deep way. This is not to say that I, or anyone else, shouldn’t have taken math and science classes, but what I am saying is academics are less effective than they can be, because they tend to ignore the Affective domain.

I contend that the Arts use all three domains effectively, and they can-therefore-stimulate the student to apply, as well as retain, what they’ve learned. Creativity is key in this process. The Performing and Fine Arts have a distinct advantage-educationally-in their ability to allow students to create as they learn. In painting, students are in the process of creating at the same time they’re mixing colors and learning brush techniques. The same applies to sculpting and photography students. Many middle and high school music directors are-now-using computer programs to stimulate their students to compose as they learn to play and sing. Dance and theatre programs are examples, as well, of applying skills as their students learn. This artistic, educational process employs the cognitive and motor skills domains, but it also stimulates the affective. The art student experiences the sense of joy and satisfaction that comes from successfully learning, and then being able to immediately apply this knowledge in a very personal way. The Arts can enhance a student’s ability to express their emotions in a very positive way. These students have ownership of what they have learned and are able to express this ownership through creativity. The Performing or Fine Arts student is motivated-educationally-beyond just memorizing facts and passing tests, because they’re using their newly-acquired knowledge to express what lies deep in their heart and mind.Surprisingly, the arts and sports have much in common, educationally. The basketball or football player, as well as the long-distant runner, learn their skills while applying them. The learning of physical techniques and immediate application reinforces the athlete’s desire to learn and perform even more. In team sports, such as football, baseball and basketball, the student athlete learns to work with others to produce a product, or team. The young athlete learns that the whole, or team, is greater than the sum of its parts, or players, as do dancers, actors, singers and instrumentalists. As in performing ensembles, these young athletes experience the joy that comes from accomplishing something special with others. They learn, in a very intimate way, responsibility towards others and that the team is dependent on the very weakest athlete, as well as the strongest and most gifted. There’s really very little difference between a football player and a band member, when it comes to being responsible and understanding that it takes everyone-involved-to be successful. This is such a valuable and wonderful lesson, and it is learned primarily, through the affective domain.Educational collaboration between artistic disciplines is a great way for young artists to learn while they create. The pairing of young instrumentalists with dancers and visual artists, or actors with singers, can open up a whole new world of artistic exploration, discovery and creativity. These collaborations can become a great vehicle for learning and motivation, as any arts teacher who has experienced this process will testify. The educational process becomes more important than the outcome, or testing results, because it is in the process of exploration, discovery and creativity where learning really occurs. The educational outcome is secondary, because it is only used, in this case, to measure curricular goals. The motivation for and enjoying of learning comes through the process of collaboration, exploration, discovery and creating.In academia, the emphasis-today-is placed more on the outcome, or testing and grades, which, in my estimation, is a huge mistake. Academic instructors could learn much from their counterparts in the arts. The government and its politically motivated, educational policies, of course, stands in the way of any successful, corrective change to academic teaching methods. Political agendas, such as, “No child left behind” are meaningless and worthless to students and teachers, because they’re not concerned, as they so hypocritically claim, with the success of the individual learner. Instead, these agendas are merely an attempt to soothe the fevered brows of unsatisfied constituents.I will agree with academic teachers that their process seems to be more set in stone than with the arts, and the only real way they can measure educational outcomes is through testing. There has to be a way-however-to allow a math, science, English or history student to become more involved in the process of learning. English teachers have a distinct advantage, since they could use writing essays and poems to instill a sense of ownership in their students. Their students-then-could use their essays and poems to collaborate with young composers, actors and dancers, as an example. Even though it would be difficult, science, language and math teachers could also seek these same avenues for educational exploration, discovery and creativity, which would-then-hopefully-lead to a student’s retention/application, ownership and motivation. This, of course, will be impossible, as long as we allow our government to force academic teachers to teach-solely-towards the outcome, or “standardized” testing.American students, every year, fall farther behind their counterparts around the world, academically and intellectually, while their parents and teachers continue to buy into the educational propaganda, which is spewed out by the American-political machine in Washington. Every year, Art education becomes less and less important in our schools, because of it’s effectiveness in producing students who can think, reason, question, learn and create. Realistically speaking, Art education may be perceived as a threat to those who run this country and desire a race of middle-class, mindless, unquestioning and unsophisticated robots.

Education is the responsibility of the parents first and foremost, and if parents aren’t capable or willing to fight for their children’s education, then I guess America is doomed. If I were a parent-today-there would be no way I could allow my child to be intellectually molested by our current, public-education system. My child would either be home-schooled, at best, or in a private education system.The Roman Empire was one of the greatest and long lasting nations in the history of the world, and yet, as the Roman government declined, then so did its human values and arts. There is only one piece of music remaining, one mere fragment, after one thousand years of Roman culture. Rome literally disintegrated from within, because of a corrupt government and decaying society. The United States is less than two-hundred and fifty years old, and we’re already starting the lingering slide into governmental corruption, cultural ignorance and decay. Perhaps, it’s too late to save our society, but if it isn’t, then it’s time to start rebuilding what we have allowed to be torn down for the last one-hundred and fifty years. If it isn’t too late, then we must begin to rebuild our values and education system. Our values and education system may not have been perfect, in the past, but they were worthy of being fixed, properly.Most successful, world cultures, throughout history, have been measured by the quality of their philosophers and artists far more than their forms of government and technological advances. If we disappear as a nation, in another century or so, what will we be remembered for? What will be our legacy to the world?Art does not solve problems but makes us aware of their existence. It opens our eyes to see and our brain to imagine. (Magdalena Abakanowicz)In my estimation, art is an integral part of being human and-therefore-is integral to human education. If we die to our affective inclinations, then we cease to be human in any real sense, and the results of this can be seen on MTV and its “Hip-Hop” generation. Money, material objects, self-absorbed egos, low-life affections and brutal power will never make us more human, if anything these extrinsic motivators will simply and affectively dehumanize us. “The one with the most toys in the end,” loses! Art education can help us to see ourselves, the world and-yes-God more clearly. We are more than flesh and blood, and our affective, as well as cognitive, attributes are exhorting us to remember this truth. The arts should be at the center of our children’s education, and our children shouldn’t have to plead with us to give them what they need and desire!

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