What is the Meaning of Integrity?

What is the Meaning of Integrity?

I know you have all heard it before. "That guy has absolutely no integrity," or "that company has no integrity," or "I value my integrity the most." Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but most of you probably have no idea what integrity even is. It is like one of those ubiquitous label words that everyone uses but nobody knows what it means, like hipster or culture.

To some it means honesty. "If you lie, then you have no integrity." To others it means showing up on time. "If you make a plan, then have the integrity to keep it." And still, to others it means having balls. "He didn't even have the integrity to fire me face to face." So in my confused exhaustion and feeling somehow that my integrity has been slightly compromised in a recent incident, I decided to hunt for the meaning of the word. I started where everyone should start such a journey, the dictionary.

in·teg·ri·ty (inˈteɡrədē/) noun
1. The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
2. The state of being whole and undivided.

So, in order to define integrity we have to define moral "uprightness", which kind of reminds me of a tight ass pastor who preaches the good word by light and beats the devil out of his daughter at night. Not the kind of integrity I was thinking of. Strike one.

I went to the second definition and therein found my key to clarity. The state of being whole. The state of being undivided. Ahh.

To be whole, as in to be holy, as in to adhere to the word of God, as in to listen to one's own voice, as in to listen to one's own word, as in to undivide that which is divided, as in to connect the heart with the mind, as in to listen to the heart, as in to be undivided in mind and spirit. A building has integrity if it has a sound foundation. A relationship has integrity if it has honesty and transparency. A business has integrity if it is built upon the backs of those who listen deeply to their own heart, obey their own sense of what is right and protect what they know need to be protected.

Things to think about - Are you protecting your integrity? How do we do that in business culture? Why does it matter?

 

Everyone Needs Quality Photography

Everyone Needs Quality Photography

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Since we have been expanding our reach into many more sectors of business and development, we have begun to notice the desperate need for great photographers and curators of photography. Even though there is now a crazy upsurge in the sheer number of websites selling stock photography, it seems that most of the clients we are working with these days have a natural aversion to stock photos. It is understandable. Stock photography does well to portray a clean and professional front face, but does little to reassure the consumer that you have anything to actually back it up. So, in light of this gaping hole and vital need with many of our clients, I have done my bit to research and develop some professional photographic techniques.

Ok, maybe I'm showing off a little, but so what. Why not let people know what is happening over here. Anyway, I am letting everyone know that we are indeed in the photography biz too now. So, if you are looking for anything from product shots to shots of your business or storefront to portraits or artsy photos, let us know and we can help you.

Here are a few shots I took on my global tour last month (actually at the zoo last week but it sounds better to say I work for national geographic or something). Anyway, if anyone wants to use any of these photos in their business ads or site, let me know. I am sure we can work something out. And let me know what you think in the comments.

Onward and Upward.

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The Road to Innovation Starts Here

The Road to Innovation Starts Here

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Anyone who says innovation is dead is clearly not following what is happening in the world today. Not only is innovation alive, it is thriving, and apparently it is also well funded. The question is, in this fast paced world of technological leaps and bounds, how does the small business owner stay current? How do we find a corner in a competitive marketplace filled with cheaper and faster options?

Ever since I was a child, I loved to solve problems, and it all started with games. The game I played with my dad? Triple digit multiplication tables in our heads while we sat on the porch in the summer sun. My mom and I used to play Games Magazine puzzles until we pulled our hair out. It was fun and it was challenging, but the challenge was the fun.

These days, I can't even find a Games Magazine and calculators have pretty much made mental math obsolete. Why do I bring this up? Because, challenges are the seeds of innovations. Any business or product concept that solves a current problem is bound to be a good one. Just look at this indiegogo video from TechCrunch at this years CES 2105 only a week ago. These guys are making millions from simple ideas that solve little problems people didn't even realize they had.


So what is really happening here?

UBER is practically replacing regular taxi companies. AMAZON is killing local retail stores. NETFLIX and AMAZON produced TV shows that just last night won top prizes at this years Golden Globes!!! And just as many small business owners run away and are run out of business by these technological innovations, there are thousands more popping up every day seizing their slice of the pie with a new found innovation. So how can we keep up?

Innovation Starts NOW

We cannot force change and, at the same time, resistance to change is futile. The answers to these difficult questions are all reflected in nature. Whenever there is a need, an organism fills the need. Whenever there is an imbalance, something rushes to fill the void and create the balance. So here is your task.

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Take a moment today, and every day, and sit in a comfortable place with no distractions. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. As you exhale, feel yourself getting further and further away from all your daily chores and duties. Feel your business and life receding in the distance as if you are blasting off in a space ship leaving your house and your work and your life behind. As you turn around and look back at yourself now from the outside, notice what may be imbalanced and what may be lacking. Are you avoiding something that has been nagging you? Are you ignoring something that you know needs your attention?

You life and your business is like a tiny ecosystem that is intrinsically connected to the larger ecosystems that create our economy. What is not flowing and how can you get it to flow again? Take a few minutes to face your challenges and see them as opportunities for innovation. Become the wide-eyed, curious and inspired child anxious to solve the problems and win the game, and innovation is born.

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Do not fool yourself into thinking that it is NOT possible or that you CANNOT be innovative. You are the seed of original thought. You can do it and you will! Just go out there and solve the problems that you face with a smile on your face. You will see! Right now, you are creating something truly magnificent.

6 New Year’s Resolutions for the Enlightened Entrepreneur

6 New Year’s Resolutions for the Enlightened Entrepreneur

business-guruIt is official now.  We are all online.  Even this remote Himilayan Monk climbed up to the highest rock so that he could get a good wifi signal.  And as we move forward into the age of technology, how can we maintain the wisdom of the sages?

Here are 6 possible New Year's Resolutions for the Enlightened Businesses of 2015.

1. Cultivate Presence at Work

I am a firm believer in the power of morning meditation.  This is especially true for entrepreneurs and small business owners as the demands of the day can often get overwhelming.  All it takes is fifteen minutes a day to sit in a comfortable location and breathe with your eyes closed.  I tend to use a Vipassana style meditation technique to observe things as they are, but any technique that helps you to get present for that moment will help.

Then throughout the day, use the simple breathing technique whenever you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed or anxious about a decision or a project.  One simple breath can really help to balance your energy and bring you back to your center.  Presence and Mindfulness not only help us stay healthy in a higher stress environment, but they also increase our productivity and effectiveness.

2. Learn to Say No

I have spent many years in service and dedicated to helping people around me.  One of the hardest things for me to learn how to do over the years was saying no.  Often times, I found myself agreeing to terms and conditions that I didn't feel 100% percent about or going the extra mile for a client when it felt a little bit out of balance.  The first time I denied a new client, I was amazed at the feeling of liberation that it gave me.  I realized that I did not have to say yes all the time and accept conditions that were not optimal.

The same can be said for all aspects of your work relationships.  Not every client, employee, partner or project is in alignment with you or your company.   Saying no is often the most loving and thoughtful thing that you can do.  Boundaries are healthy and necessary for maintaining a productive and comfortable workplace and life.

3. Stay Tuned In to your Passion

It's is always important to remember what it is that you are working for.  Is it some creative ambition, family, love, knowledge or service?  Why did you get involved in this in the first place?  Sometimes people confuse the idea of "Passion" with the idea of "Goals".  For example, if you find yourself saying, "My passion is to make alot of money,"  then you have probably lost touch with your true passion.

Finding and recalling your passion each day will help you to find inspiration which is a phenomenal motivator.  If you are feeling lethargic in the morning or have a hard time getting out of bed and getting to work, it may be because you are lacking the passion.  Those who are passionate and inspired about their lives and their work and their job will have more energy and more overall motivation.

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4. Create Collaborative Models

Nature is an incredible model for business that is often overlooked.  Ideas of Biomimicry and Economics of Nature have been around for a few decades and yet still people tend to forget their application to business.  In nature, many organisms live in what is called symbiotic harmony.  In fact, it is true that without a certain micro-organism that lives on our skin, we would get severe sunburn every time we walked out of the shadows.  These kind of organisms need us to survive just as we need them.

The same is true in Business, if you want to survive as a small business, look for ways that you can support the other small businesses in your community.  When an opportunity arrises for a trade or a collaboration, take it.  Cultivating these kinds of relationships create a lasting foundation for your business to prosper.  In any situation, there is always a win-win scenario that can truly benefit all parties involved.

5. Take the Time to Work on your Business

Working on your business and working in your business are two different things.  Most small businesses and entrepreneurs create a product or a service that comes very naturally for them.  Often times it is easier to get swept up in the day to day production of the company rather than looking at the larger picture.  As such, many times we because cogs in the machine that we created rather than the machinist.  The business machine that you built and are currently running is not just a series of brilliant cranks and levers and wheels.  To keep the machine running optimally, it is vital to fine tune the machine as a whole.

As Michael Gerber mentions in his Emyth books, a great resource for any entrepreneur, take the time to look at the larger picture of what you are creating.  How can you get more production for less money?  How can you optimize the lead generation process?  How can you create more swift invoicing processes and homogenize the communications within the company?  How can you make this business even more efficient?  This year, take the time each week, or even each day, to take a step back and look at what you are creating.  How can it be better?

 

6. Leave Room for Innovation

ideaIf it works, don't fix it.  Yeah that is true, but that can also be economic suicide in a marketplace driven by innovation and technology.  Many times, business owners find a certain groove in their day that works.  You might think to yourself, "This is just how I do it because that is how I do it, and I am not changing that!"  This kind of stubborn mentality can be very beneficial when you are starting off and everyone is trying to steer you in a thousand other directions, but once you do find your rhythm, it is vital to remain open to innovation.

There are tools being created every day that can speed up all the processes of your business.  We can help you with many technological innovations from social media integration and automatic emails to mobile apps and online software that makes you look really pro for less money.  We have seen things that work and things that don't, but we are always open to new suggestions and possibilities.  Innovation is really the cornerstone for creating enlightened businesses that will thrive into the next generation.

It's happening with everyone from the big business financiers to the monk with the mac book pro, so let's all help each other have the best year yet.

Indigo Children

Indigo Children

Indigo Children

IndigoChildren.com is an online resource for todays indigo generation. It is a lifestyle brand and magazine blog that features articles on lifestyle choices, healthy living and astrology. The site has been an ongoing collaboration with its founder and pioneer, Abby Oliver, and has been growing by leaps and bounds since its inception. We worked on the design and copy for the site from its early days as a logo. The site has three different authors that contribute regularly and automatically creates weekly emails in MailChimp through an rss feed. The site also has a very popular "take the test to see if you are indigo" with an automatic calculation and autoresponder. Currently the site is getting over 60k in monthly traffic.

This site is also 100% responsive.

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My Math Cards

My Math Cards

My Math Cards

MyMathCards.com is designed as a one page splash representation of a mobile education app. The site includes video, screenshots, testimonials, team profiles, and a contact form. It was designed to match the branding of the app itself and is coded with HTML, PHP and JQuery.

The site is 100% Mobile Responsive.

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Holy Love

Holy Love

Holy Love

Holylove.tv is a collaborative website of artists, musicians, writers and photographers. Members of the community can list their images, songs or works for free. It is set up as a user based site where content is created by users as they fill out a series of questions. Once the submissions are approved, they go live on the site in their respective categories. The site also features events that are pulled through an rss feed. The site also features a fixed top bar menu that changes size when it is scrolled. The site was designed as a custom wordpress template.

This site is also 100% responsive on all devices.

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Setting up an imap email on your iPhone

Setting up an imap email on your iPhone

Here is a brief tutorial on how to use your new email address on your iPhone.

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Step 1

Find your way to your settings menu.
Hopefully you don't have more than 30,000 unread emails in your inbox already as I do ;-( ...

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Step 2

Look for your Mail settings menu.
So far so good.

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Step 3

Add a New Account.
Easy... Moving on now

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Step 4

Select "Other Account".
For iCould, Google, Microsoft exchange, Aol and Outlook emails the setup is way easier and probably does not need a tutorial as you will soon see.

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Step 5

You just want the first option here ... add a mail account.

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Step 6

Ok, now for the juicy stuff. The first field "Name" will be the name that people will see when they receive your email. The "Email" and "Password" are of course self-explanatory. The "Description" will be how the account shows up on your iPhone.
You can change all this later in the settings as well so don't worry if you don't know exactly what you want it to be yet.

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Step 7

You really want to select IMAP in this case to make sure that any activity on your phone will also appear on your computer and ipad etc.
The difference between IMAP and POP is essentially that for IMAP you will be moving files around on the server where as for POP you will just be pushing and pulling from the server. To understand this more completely read this link.

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Step 8

For hostname if your website is hosted with bluehost, you will find your box number in your bluehost cpanel settings. You can also use your domain as your server (i.e. mail.singingbear.net in this case) but it is best to use the box number to avoid any certificate issues. If you are using a different hosting platform, you can probably use something like mail.YOURDOMAIN.com. Check your host server for details.

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Step 9

After you his enter, it make take several minutes for your account to verify. The reason it takes so long is because the service is looking for the appropriate port for your incoming and outgoing servers. On mac mail and outlook you can define the specific port to speed up this process. Once it has been verified you should see a screen like this. At this point your mail is set up. Follow the next 5 steps to make sure that your phone is synced with your desktop, in other words when you delete a message on your phone you want it to get deleted on your desktop as well.

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Step 10

You have to go back to your mail settings page. You should now see your account on the list. Click on your new account name. In our case it was BEAR Music.

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Step 11

On this screen you want to click on your account name ... follow the red arrow.

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Step 12

This screen is a where you are able to change all sorts of settings for your new email on your iPhone. Scroll all the way down this screen to the last option where it says "Advanced" and click there.

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Step 13

Here you simply have to assign your Drafts to go to the drafts folder on your server (in stead of your phone) and the trash to go to the trash folder on your sever, etc. This way, the information will get filed away on your server and therefore all of these changes will be reflected on your desktop as well. I hope this helps you get set up. Leave any comments below if you get stuck and I will try to answer them. Thanks.

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Are You Offering Too Many Choices?

Are You Offering Too Many Choices?

I run into this kind of question every day in my profession. What exactly should I offer my clients or my customers? Although it might seem more intuitive to offer your customers a million options for your products and services, studies actually show that less choices equates to more overall sales. Sheena Iyengar in her TED talk below helps us to see that in a world inundated with hundreds of choices we all must make every day, people are simply less and less likely to take the time wading through options to find their golden ticket.

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Sheena Iyengar, professor of business at Columbia, relates a study conducted by her team on the market impact of the overwhelming choice. She actually found that a tasting table of 6 flavors of jam will far outsell a table of 24 flavors. The bottom line is that by diluting your option menu with too much variety of items will only work to make the chooser more confused and less likely to buy. Have you ever been at one of those restaurants with a bible sized menu of unlimited options? It can actually create a wave of stress and anxiety just to seen all those options in one place.

Part of our job in providing specialty services or products is finding and offering only a handful of the best possible options. So, if you are wondering how to apply this to your business, just ask yourself, "What is my absolute best product or service?" In other words, if you were buying from yourself, what would you buy? Often times that is exactly the first and only thing you should offer your customers.

The Age of Responsive Technology

The Age of Responsive Technology

Things are moving way too fast in the technological world. Don't worry, everyone is overwhelmed. Even the biggest tech firms in the world are concerned that they might not be "with the times". What does it mean to be with the times ... to be RESPONSIVE! So, what is RESPONSIVE DESIGN?

We used to just say mobile friendly, and even as little as 5 years ago this seemed like a revolutionary concept. Actually it was in Finland in 1996 that the first ever mobile devices accessed a website and only in 1999 that it became commercially available in Japan. According to a 2013 report from Walker Sands, the percentage of website traffic coming from mobile devices jumped from 17.5% in Q3 2012 to 23.1% in Q4 2012. An early 2010 ITU (International Telecommunication Union) report said that with the current growth rates, web access by people on the go — via laptops and smart mobile devices – is likely to exceed web access from desktop computers within the next five years (Wikipedia).

So what does all this mean for us, the little guys in a big technological world? Its time to GET RESPONSIVE. That means, making your website easily accessible and navigable by any device. There are a number of new themes on WordPress that can help an entrepreneur on a budget accomplish this goal, but everything has is quirks and inconsistencies. Here is an example of a site that we recently developed for Joree Rosenblatt, a fantastic mindfulness education expert and up and coming author.

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We developed her site from scratch as a child theme of the WordPress 2013 theme that comes installed with the new versions of WP. If you really dig through the css code of the Twenty-Thirteen Theme, you will see a whole section devoted to different media sizes. The code will look something like this @media (max-width:700px) { css code here }. We base our designs on iPads and iPhones, because that is what we have in the office. For us the media sizes are 768px or less for iPad and 359px or less for iPhone. With some simple tweeks, we were able to get the site to show up differently on all three devices as pictured above.

Another key to responsive design is steering away from Flash. At this point, Flash is rapidly declining and will soon be outdated since it is not available on most devices. Also, as you can see from the animation on Joree Rosenblatt's site, it is not necessary to use flash to arrive at the same results. However, doing something as elaborate as Jim Carrey's website in HTML5 is probably close to impossible (if you haven't checked out Jim Carrey's site before you have to do it but on a Computer Only). However, you can accomplish quite a bit of animation and interactivity with css, html5 and javascript - all legible by devices.

Things are moving fast, and it is very easy to get overwhelmed. The best we can do, sometimes, is respond to the the changes as they arise. If you are a small business owner or a blogger or just an individual on a budget, give us a call and we will make your designs responsive for a fraction of the cost of the other big firms. Call us today.

The Best Time to Send an Email

The Best Time to Send an Email

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Even after the development of social media, google ads, affiliate systems and an overwhelming number of other options for marketing your product and service, direct email campaigns are still the best avenue to get the word out. But everyone's question is always, "When is the best time to send my email campaign?"

While there remain many debates on the subject, we found this 2012 study conducted by Experian global information group that gives some insight into this question. And despite all the debates and misconceptions, it turns out that the highest open ratio, click through ratio and transaction ratio across all businesses comes in fact in the evenings and weekends. Maybe that is because everyone tends to send emails during the week and in the morning, as you can see by the volume on the chart.

Check out the results yourself:

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According to this chart, a higher ratio of emails are engaged on the weekends than during the week. That might be because of the sheer volume of emails that are sent during the week as opposed to the weekend. Let's face it, we get completely bombarded with emails on Monday morning, so many of them just get swept under the rug. I mean, how many emails can we actually open and read, right? This past Black Friday and Cyber Monday I think I received almost a hundred emails from the collective big-marts like Best Buy, WalMart, Target, Staples etc. (I don't even know how they ever got my email.) So what did I do, "Delete, Delete, Delete, Delete, ..."

But, on the weekends, when I'm sitting there twiddling my thumbs on my iPhone with my daughter at the playground, I occasionally check out those one or two emails that come filtering down the pipeline. Especially if they have a fun twist to them.

Perhaps the same reasoning could be applied to the results from the "Time of Day" study.

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I attribute these results to one of two possibilities. Either people are opening more emails on the evening and weekends because they are sitting at home playing Candy Crush on their phones at the time and have nothing better to do or more emails simply get opened when fewer are being sent. And although it may depend greatly on the type of business you are conducting, as in entertainment emails get opened more on weekends and business emails are opened more during the week, it doesn't hurt to look a little bit more closely at these results. And maybe, it would be a good idea to give it a shot and see if it works.

READ THE FULL STUDY HERE

CONTACT US TO HELP YOU WITH YOUR EMAIL MARKETING CAMPAIGN

UHSS.net

UHSS.net

UHSS.net

University of Health and Spiritual Sciences is a fully functioning interactive site designed as an online school. The site is currently maintained as a blog. The home page has been full customized with fading in and out testimonials (a widget designed by us) that are easily updated and changed by the sites administrator through a testimonials form. Also the site features a home page list of current blog entries with the most recent blog entry including a featured image. This site was built over a year ago as a child theme for the twenty ten wordpress factory theme. There is enough functionality through WordPress and the user database to run full features online school through this platform. We hope to work with UHSS in the future to make this a reality.

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