The Gift of Giving Is a Gift in Itself

August 28, 2016

The act of giving a gift can elicit a multitude of positive emotions to the giver, that indeed it is quite possible that they experience more pleasure than the recipient of the gift. It has been found that giving gifts is an important interaction that strengthens bonds between family and friends. Giving to others strengthens one’s feelings for these people, and also makes one feel more loving and caring.Pursuing the ideal gift can be a taxing experience. Once upon a time, one would have to literally travel from store to store searching for the perfect gift. Apart from the time and effort consumed by the travelling, it was never quite easy to compare and contrast the possibilities in one’s mind, as one was relying on memory of the entire details of each potential gift. Now, with the advent and advantage of online shopping, this one daunting part of gift giving is no longer necessary. The requirement of physical travelling has been eliminated as one merely sits in front of a computer or other Internet browsing device and searches for the perfect gift. Alas, the choices are endless, and not always as organized as one would wish. However, once one has narrowed down the choices, one can actually revisit each choice and compare the images of the potential gifts, and eventually make a selection.

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Giving comes from within, and no matter who the recipient of the gift is, the actual selection of the gift should be a heartwarming process. Knowing the person’s likes and dislikes, wants and needs, circumstances, and events in their life deepens the emotion behind the gift selection process. Giving a gift however, should not be a process that comes with a hardship to the giver. An aura of competitiveness and the need to impress has overshadowed the gentle and caring act of gift giving. For instance, if one is searching for a gift for their brother in law who is an avid golf player, the normal search would begin in the world of golf in the universe of the Internet. However, remembering that your brother in law was recently promoted, and his peers all carry classic name brand fountain pens encased in handsome leather cases, would certainly have some influence on your gift selection thought process. Between the golf equipment and the fountain pen and it’s accessories, an instant “astronomical price” headache begins to form.A mistake often made by many is that they set a price tag on the gift they are going to purchase before they actually make the purchase. In the name of budgeting that is actually a great idea, but unfortunately, we are in the times of “competitive” gift giving, and some people feel the need to outdo others in the extravagance of the gift purchased. It is absurd that many people actually spend money they cannot afford to spend on gifts simply because they are trying to create an impression. The heartwarming experience of the giving of the gift has not been experienced, and instead has been replaced by a aggressive and competitive approach. After the gift has been given, there will certainly be an uncomfortable feeling for as long as that charge remains on the credit card.Very few people remain unscathed by these recent changes in the economical status worldwide. To increase one’s debt in order to compete with others, or create an extravagant impression is not only ridiculous, but also makes the giving of the gift actually an unpleasant experience from start to finish and beyond. Returning to the example of one’s brother-in law, let it be assumed that a new set of golf clubs and an expensive fountain pen with a leather case is entirely out of one’s budget. A less expensive and more personal gift would surely make the selection process a much more personal and enjoyable one. There is no rule that dictates we must cater to the indulgent tastes or more affluent means of others. The art of gift giving must come with the desire to please the recipient with the gift, to take pleasure in the selection of the gift, to keep the cost within one’s budget and means, and to select a gift that will be admired and used.

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Unique gifts for the home or for personal wear are always a warm and sincere gift. Many handmade gifts are available for purchase at reasonable prices via the Internet. They range from hand crocheted tablecloths, to custom made jewelry, to silk floral arrangements, and many home décor items. All of these items are ones that will actually be used instead of being a “showpiece” such as a fountain pen that never actually makes it out of the beautiful leather case. As much pleasure as the gift recipient will receive from their gift, the giver will also be pleased whenever they see the gift being worn or used. A set of throw cushions that was given as a gift will always please the giver every time he or she visits the home of the recipient and sees the throw cushions in use. Truly, these types of gifts are those that are described as “The Gift That Keeps On Giving”.

Start Your Italian Vacation With Roman Art History

October 31, 2016

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.

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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.

India Debt Collection Business

October 31, 2016

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.

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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.

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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.

Benefits of Holidays and Vacations

November 2, 2016

As a frontline medical practitioner for over 20 years, I have been actively encouraging and motivating my patients, relatives, friends and other people to take holidays and vacations on a regular basis. Except for those people who have serious medical conditions, there are no restrictions to travel and enjoy holidays. Even the elderly, disabled or pregnant women (within 28 weeks of pregnancy) can travel as much as anybody else. The benefits of holidays and vacations are numerous, both short-term and long-term, but most people fail to appreciate the benefits. As a result, only a small percentage of people worldwide travel and harvest the benefits of holidays and vacations. Research has shown that even workers who are offered paid vacations by their organizations do not take advantage of such offers to take some weeks off their work.In this article, I will briefly highlight some benefits of holidays and vacations.Longer and healthier lifeA recent survey conducted by the State University of New York has shown that people who take holidays regularly every year reduce their risk of early death by about 20 percent. The survey also revealed that those who did not take any holiday in 5 years faced the highest death rate risk, along with higher incidence of heart diseases. This can be explained by the fact that during holidays people are happier, relaxed, carefree, spending more time with family and loved ones, and away from the regular stressing environment. A happy relaxed life increases longevity.

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Improvement in mental healthOne study conducted by the Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield and published in Wisconsin Medical Journal showed that women who went on frequent vacations had lower susceptibility to depression, tiredness, or tensions and they were more satisfied with their marriages. Women who took rare vacations displayed higher stress levels in their homes, felt more exhausted and tired and slept lesser. It is without doubt that regular holidays will not just unwind people from the stress accumulated during the day to day hectic life in the short-term but also will improve the overall mental and psychological well-being of an individual in the long-term. Many researchers have shown that depression increases the chances of heart disease. Since holidays provide a break from the normal boring routine, they also help in relieving the symptoms of depression.Revamping of relationshipsThe always busy, work-obsessed and chronically duty-minded culture of people of modern life has indeed taken a heavy toll not only on our physical and mental health but also on our relationships. People do not have much time to spend with their partners, children or families. As a result, there is disharmony in the family, children are not looked after well and there is increased tension between partners, which has resulted in increased number of separations, divorce and other marital conflicts. Taking regular breaks from work and enjoying holidays and vacations not only revamps the strained and estranged relationships but also renews, revitalizes and strengthens family relationships and bonds.Improvement in self-confidenceWhen we travel, we encounter various types of situations and meet different kinds of people. Such encounters improve our self-confidence. It also helps improve our social skills and prepare us for unexpected or unknown.Creative inspiration through holidayingWhen we do the same thing again and again, it becomes monotonous and stereotyped. This is what has happened to us in today’s world. We have become victims of monotony that has gradually crept into our system and destroyed our creative abilities, new thinking processes, and inspirational opportunities. When we travel, we come across new situations and different environments. Such situations can induce and help develop the creativity within us.Increase in productivity Many studies have shown that holidays not only motivate people to work better but the relief from the monotony also rejuvenates people, resulting in higher productivity.Seeking adventureHolidaying is a time to pump adrenalin for many adventure lovers. This is a chance to make their dream come true and try many daring sports and adventures, such as, bungee jumping, water rafting, surfing, mountaineering and many others. Such adventures give people a sense of achievement and happiness.

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Mental and psychological escapeMany people these days view holidaying as a form of mental or psychological escape. The change in atmosphere, climate, scenery, quiet surroundings, slow pace of life, and clean air is regarded by many travelers as pathway to happiness and spirituality.Improve physical fitness, and lose weight tooObesity has become a global epidemic. Holidays and vacations can at least induce people to do some form of exercise. They have more time and any form of physical activity (and away from TV and video games!) can help lose weight. If they can continue the same sort of exercises once they are back home, it can at least help people change their habit and lose some weight at the same time. Losing weight not only improves the physical fitness and appearance of a person but also reduces the chances of getting depression, some cancers, heart diseases and other conditions.In conclusion, holidays and vacations not only bring joy, excitements, fun and break in the usual monotony of life, but they also have far reaching effects in the long-term including improvement in physical and mental wellbeing, longer and happier life, revamping relationships, improving self confidence and productivity, and instilling creative inspiration within us.

Use of Drones in Aerospace/Defense

October 9, 2016

The development of unmanned aerial systems, or drones was initially for military purposes. As these aerial systems did not require an onboard pilot, they were seen as a useful weapon on the battlefield. Not only does a drone decrease the mortality rate of the soldiers, it also provides the military a chance to spy on the enemy in a discrete manner.Drones have become an important component of national defense for the following reasons.· A drone is an unmanned vehicle, that is, it does not require any one to be on it to be controlled. This is possible because it can be controlled using a remote control. Though it is mandatory that it is still controlled by a trained pilot, it does not require the pilot to go with it.

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· The US military has been using drones to search for terrorists in Afghanistan and have proved how useful they are for conducting covert military operations.· Drones can be used for various purposes such as searching for hidden terrorists, gunning the terrorists down in their own areas and searching for the hidden landmines using hyperspectral imaging sensors.· Keeping an eye on the air space of the country.· Keeping a check on the borders of the country without threatening the lives of the most precious soldiers.The use of the US Army’s Global Hawk in the combat field of Afghanistan has already made news. This has triggered a race between countries to own and develop this technology as soon as possible. Countries like UK and China and India are already way ahead in the research and development of drones for their respective defense forces.The use of drones even by the army is not only for combat and espionage purposes. This technology is largely being developed for the times when a crisis hits the nation. The military is trying to use drones in areas that have suffered fire or earthquake where the military and air force is called in to rescue people. This is the humanitarian aspect of the use of drones. Drones are sent in difficult to reach places to search for survivors. When the images from a drone shows the presence of any survivor, special teams are sent in to carry out rescue operation. This has saved many lives and is sure to save a number of lives in future too.

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The countries that are trying to be the controlling factors in the world need to have this technology soon. UK has started by bringing together all of its top engineers to develop homemade UAVs and there were news about the flight of their first UAV named Taranis.The use of UAVs cannot replace the fighter jets or the satellites, however, they can be used for surveillance missions that can’t be performed by fighter jets as they are too big and therefore can be spotted quite easily by radar. Drones are definitely one of the “must haves” for any good army in the future.

Is Learning Tennis Important?

August 18, 2016

Learning tennis can start at various ages. Some pick it up at a tender age of 3 – 4 years old. Others do not have the opportunity until later in life. Nevertheless, learning tennis is important for all ages, especially for kids for the following reasons and arguments:• Tennis is a form of exerciseNo matter how you see it, tennis will always give you some cardio work out which makes it a form of exercise. Tennis involves running, sprinting at times, stretching for the ball, power and grace. It not only requires physical agility but mental prowess as well. I thoroughly enjoy tennis as it gives me a good work out;• Tennis stimulates the mindFor most people, tennis is merely a physical sport. Nothing more. But, if you look closely, you will realize that tennis requires more mental toughness and mental alertness than one would think it requires. For the competitive player, it is easily more than 80% mental than physical. Choosing the correct shot at the appropriate time is more important than just whacking the ball hard. This requires the mind to be nimble and agile to quickly discern the appropriate shot to make in order to win the point.

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• Tennis improves your social network and self esteem.We are all human beings. We require to be amongst people. Tennis will give you that opportunity to mingle and interact with people in a fun and engaging environment. It will help you to form or enter an already established social group. It helps to build you up as a person too. Not all of us are champion tennis players. That said, being able to hit a tennis ball well at times certainly gives me a sense of satisfaction and raises my self-belief a little more. It allows you to make more friends and feel that you belong.• Tennis improves your mental toughnessTennis, unknown to most players, requires one to really focus and execute an action within a split second. For competition players, tennis helps to improve their self worth and esteem. One has to be able to lose graciously, pick one self up and move on in life to the next match. Losing helps to humble oneself. It teaches one how to lose and yet be happy about it. One has to realize that here is more than life than just winning.• Tennis is good for young kidsIf you have the ability, let your kids try tennis at a young age. It will help to build them up physically and mentally. Tennis will open doors for these kids ie they may be able to get scholarships to various universities. It will help to toughen them up mentally. Of course, the physical aspects of tennis training will also make one stronger and fitter.• You could learn tennis and be a coachTennis can be a means for making a living for some. Ideally, a competitive player, once retired or being injured could decide to take some coaching courses and become a tennis coach. Coaching can be rewarding financially but more importantly it can also be beneficial emotionally as you see your charges grow up to be men or women of stature in society. For some, tennis could give you an extra bit of income while you are studying in university.

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• Tennis can be a businessApart from being a coach, there are many business aspects relating to tennis. One can open up a sports shop selling tennis gear and equipment. You can sell tennis rackets, tennis shoes, tennis bags and many other items related to tennis. You could start and run a tennis club with membership fees. It can be quite lucrative and fun at the same time. Organising tennis tours to various tournaments globally can be another venture to look into.Ultimately, if you ask any tennis enthusiasts what he thinks of tennis. You will get the answer that tennis has become a part of his life because of all or some of the reasons above. So, what are you waiting for? Sign up for your first tennis lesson and you will not look back again!. Happy Playing and Learning!

Budget Travel and Hotel Considerations – Travel Industry Making Changes To Compete For Consumers

October 20, 2016

If you are like most Americans, you having difficulty saving money while prices are rapidly increasing; things like college tuition, food and fuel. So, when it comes to traveling you are looking to shave off costs and find ways to travel on a budget, and well, no one can blame you for that. What you may not be aware of or have not considered is that in the travel business; everything from airlines and rent-a-cars to tourist destinations and hotels are trying to find better ways to accommodate the budget traveler.

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For instance, many airlines have had their fuel prices boosted to record costs and many family budget and business travel hotels are making changes in management and in their operations. Recently, Choice Hotels named a new COO and President; Stephen P. Joyce, 48. Additionally they named a new Executive VP of Global Branding. Why, because they know that they must hold their American clientele and find ways to cut costs, while still attracting their overseas travelers who are paying in high valued currencies.There are many ways to cut costs in traveling and staying on a budget and hotels, rental car agencies and airlines are working very hard to compete for fewer travelers with fewer dollars, while still retaining a profit. Easier said than done, especially when jet fuel has almost tripled in cost since 2000 and recently the number of families traveling on vacation is being cut by a good 35% this summer, all due to cash strapped consumers, credit crisis and outrageous fuel costs. Airline Industry analysts are predicting one or maybe two major airlines filing bankruptcy in 2009 and some hotel chains have pulled back construction of new hotels in many locations.

7 Easy Steps to Conducting Your Marketing Research Plan!

September 9, 2016

Marketing research is a process used by businesses to collect, analyze, and interpret information used to make sound business decisions and successfully manage the business. In other words, it links the consumer to the marketer by providing information that can be used in making marketing decisions (i.e. B2C or B2B). This can not be implemented without the use of a MIS (Marketing Research System) to gather, sort, analyze, evaluate, and distribute needed, timely, and accurate information to marketing decision makers.Here are the steps to implementing a marketing research process.1. Ask yourself if there is a real need for marketing research. It’s not only the first step to take but a very critical one as well! Research takes a lot of time due to the overload of secondary information available on the Internet. It’s ideal to think that it takes months or even a year to completely finalize a marketing research agenda. The other factor you will need to consider is the cost of doing it, especially if you hire an agency to do it for you. What you want to compare is the value of the information vs the cost of the information. If the value of the information is worth the cost and time of doing it, then by all means, go for it buddy!If you’re still unsure, here’s a few quick guides to go by to determine that marketing research is not needed:a) The information is already available

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b) The timing is wrong to conduct marketing researchc) Funds are not available for marketing researchd) Costs outweigh the value of marketing research2. Define the problem. This is the most important step (assuming you’ve decided to do marketing research). If the problem is incorrectly defined, all else will become wasted effort! Keep in mind that the need to make a decision requires decision alternatives. If there are no alternatives, no decision is necessary. For example, let’s say your sales are down by 30%, therefore becoming a problem with your revenues. Your alternatives may be to see how well ads #2 does compared to ads #1 in terms of sales. Use secondary data sources to develop ideas further into the research.Here’s a powerful technique to use in order to pinpoint important problems and receive information all in one: create a focus group! Here’s why:a) it generates fresh ideasb) allow clients to observe their participantsc) understand a wide variety of issuesd) allow easy access to special respondent groups3. Establish objectives. Research objectives, when stated effectively, can provide the information needed to solve the problem you have from step 2. All of your objectives should be what you want to study in your market research and specific as possible.Here’s a quick checklist of what to include in each and every objective:a) specify from whom information is to be gatheredb) specify what information is neededc) specify the unit of measurement used to gather informationd) use the respondents’ reference to re-word the question4. Determine research design. There are 5 different designs you can choose from to get the information you need, such as descriptive, exploratory, causal, and diagnostic research. Descriptive research describe market variables. Exploratory research allows you to get information in an unstructured way. Causal studies is to try to reveal what factor(s) cause some event to happen. Diagnostic research focuses on the sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction.5. Choose method of assessing data. Secondary data is more easy to access than primary data, such as online surveys. However, if you are into the traditional way of doing data collection (i.e. telephone, mail, F-2-F), they all still have a place in marketing research. The questionnaire that you present to the respondents must be worded clearly and unbias.Here’s a few pointers you want to remember when creating the forms for your questionnaire:a) use nominal, ordinal, interval-Likert, interval-S-D, interval-Stapel, and ratio measurementsb) questions pertaining to each research objective (step 3)c) questions pertaining to attribute, attitude, or behavior

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d) have 1 open-ended question (I would definitely keep this at a minimum, if I were you)6. Determine sample plan and size. Your sample plan should describe how each sample element is to be drawn from the total population. The sample size tells how many elements of the population should be included in the sample. In other words, the purpose of the sample plan is to give you representativeness, while the sample size gives you accuracy!Here’s a small but important task to take to prevent or minimize nonsampling errors from occurring: validate your participants by re-contacting!7. Analyze and report the data. It’s always good to go back and run tests on the information you have to screen out errors that may occur. Once you have all that you need for the research (pie charts, bar graphs, statistics, survey, etc), you want to be sure to create a report of it. Carefully present the research report in a way that communicates the results clearly, yet accurately to the client.Remember marketing research is all about connecting the dots. The more information you know about your consumers, the more you bridge together with your consumers. The more closer you bridge together with your consumers, the more miles you create for long-term customer relationships. Go for it!

Motorsports Engineering Schools in North Carolina

October 18, 2016

If you’re interested in a career in racing or automotive technology, you might be considering a motorsports engineering school or program. Great decision! The specialized education that a motorsports engineering program provides will give you a leg up on your future career prospects, and set you on the fast track to a great career in racing!Here, we’re highlighting motorsports engineering schools located in the great state of North Carolina.One of the biggest advantages to attending a school in North Carolina is the close proximity to the heart of racing country. NASCAR is the fastest growing type of racing in this country, and there’s no shortage of interest in NASCAR in North Carolina, especially in the Charlotte area. All of the major NASCAR race shops and many of the main manufacturers for the industry are located in or near Charlotte, making it the perfect place to look for an internship and future job.

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NASCAR Technical Institute, UNC-Charlotte, Belmont Abbey College, Central Piedmont Community College, and Forsyth Technical Community College are all located in North Carolina. Most are in or near Charlotte.The University of North Carolina – Charlotte is located, obviously, in Charlotte and it is one of the best motorsports engineering schools in the country. It is one of the few schools that offer a bachelors of science degree in motorsports engineering, and it offers required specialized education in motorsports along with applied knowledge in both laboratory and real-world settings.Belmont Abbey College offers motorsports management minor, which is a bit less technical than a major motorsports engineering program like UNC-Charlotte’s degree. Central Piedmont Community College offers a high school for college credit with a certificate program in automotive systems with a specialization in motorsports that can be applied to a major four-year college.

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Forsyth Technical Community College offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in race car technology, while the NASCAR Technical Institute, which has multiple locations, offers technical certificate programs that relate to motorsports technology.Any of these programs will help get you on the right track towards a career in racing and motorsports, along with giving you a variety of applied technical knowledge and skills that you can use in a number of different career paths. A motorsports education is the first step to realizing your dreams in racing, and attending a program in the heart of racing country is a great step in a positive direction.

Effective Business Management Unites Education and Training with Corporate Coaching

August 30, 2016

Business management spends billions of dollars in corporate training and education. According to a report released in early 2006, the U.S. corporate education and training market exceeded $46 billion. Additionally, business management and leadership training captured the largest percentage of program dollars with developing new and existing management along with succession planning. (Source: Bersin & Associates)With training budgets increasing and the additional focus on leadership and management development because people do not leave organizations they leave managers, achieving higher levels of positive return on investment (ROI) makes sense. Research supports that to increase training ROI begins by including coaching as an effective tactic.In a 2001 study completed by Dr. Merrill Anderson, of MetrixGlobal, for a Fortune 500 company coaching can produce a 529 per cent ROI. Additional studies since that time confirm the positive affect of coaching. Business management executives are now employing a new learning strategy that combines education and training with coaching. This is initiative is corporate coaching. So what is corporate coaching?

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Simply speaking, corporate coaching extends existing learning or what some call training by infusing one on one executive coaching within the education, training and development sessions to achieve performance improvement that generates a positive ROI. Corporate coaching is always aligned with the strategic plan and the organization’s current goals and provides a vehicle to reinforce current learning as well as a way to make necessary course corrections through both individual and team perspectives. Corporate objectives are achieved much quicker allowing for a better competitive advantage.NOTE:What corporate coaching is not – any program that cannot be aligned to the strategic plan and lacks a structured process that does not focus on pre-determined measurable results.How does corporate coaching work? The answer to that question is “that depends.” Corporate coaching is flexible and may be included within the training schedules or upon completion of the training. The real issue is to find a corporate coaching process that is results focused and uses proven tools that build the What’s in it for me (WIIFM) leading to the What’s in it for us (WIIFU). Effective corporate coaching works to further internalize the identified learning objectives and quantifies those efforts on a regular basis through consistent goal achievement.

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How do I find a corporate coach? That is a very good question since many coaches whether a certified coach or not are now offering corporate coaching services. Possibly, the best way is to find a coach who:
Is results focused
Has a demonstrated record of success that is quantifiably measurable
Has both proven developmental processes and tools that work with the strengths of your organization.
Remember, companies win because of their strengths not their weaknesses. Corporate coaching allows you to further capitalize on those very strengths that made your company what it is.