Best Tech Gifts To Give And Receive

Best Tech Gifts To Give And Receive

Not sure what gifts to give this year? You can never go wrong when you wrap up technology. We have a few ideas for every member of your family.

Google Home

The stylish Google Home smart speaker is the hot new rival to compete with Amazon’s Echo. It features the AI-powered Google Assistant, which responds to voice commands by tapping into an ultra-advanced neural network. It can play music, answer questions, set timers, and control all of your connected applinces, among other things. Ok Google.

Cozmo

Who says AI technology is just for adults? Cozmo is a real-life robot that has a one-of-a kind personailty that evolves the more you play with him. Powered by a sophisticated artificial intelligence, Cozmo is self-aware and is capable of recognizing its owner and expressing feelings. If you like to dig further into robotics, you can utilize a developer platform to add even more features to Cozmo. This is one gift you may buy for your kids, and find you can’t live without one too.

Roku Express

The ultra-compact Roku Express is the perfect gift for those family members who still haven’t experienced the joy of having smart TV at their fingertips. This gadget will support all major streaming services, as well a multitude of content channels.

Google Wi-Fi

Tired of dealing with spotty Internet connection? Google Wi-Fi makes connectivity easy. Network Assist is intelligent software that is built into Google Wi-Fi to provide you with the fastest possible speed. And because it adds intelligence to the process, it consistently looks for ways to optimize performance.

360 Fly Action Camera

When you can’t get enough of the action, the 360 Fly Action Camera is the perfect addition to help you capture crisp 360 degree footage with a resolution of 2,880 by 2,880 pixels. This little gadget comes with 64 GB of built-in memory, as well as a built-in gyroscope, accelerometer, smartphone app controls, and a GPS antenna, all tucked into a water-resistant shockproof body. You can connect both with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Nomad Key

The Nomad Key is the ultimate minimalist and portable charging cable. This compact, yet fully capable Lightning or Micro cable makes it easy for charging your devices on the go from any USB port.

Smart Wi-Fi LED Bulb

This Wi-Fi enabled LED bulb by TP-Link doesn’t require a connectivity hub, so it’s incredibly easy to use. It’s compatible with Amazon Alexa devices, and provides smartphone controls using real-time tracking.

BioLite SolarPanel 5+

The SolarPanel 5+ allows you to capture sunlight and store it as power for later use in its 2200mAh onboard battery. You can power phones, tablets and ore with this ultraslim 5 watt panel. The size and the price make it a perfect addition to every backpack in your family.

 

Creating An Intelligent Office

Work smarter, not harder.

If you’ve taken and efficiency classes you’ll know this is a time-honored practice.

Still, the concept of working smarter, not harder is evolving all the time. A few short years ago improvements may have evolved around software and ergonomics. Now we use cloud-based technology that allows us to work from anywhere, and apps that can multifunction and automate much of what used to take precious time to accomplish.

A smarter work environment today can include many things. Improved working space? Got to have it. A large investment in the latest technology? That’s a given. A security system to take away risk? Mandatory. Consider these as you’re making improvements to your office.

Good design starts with the needs of employees

Ask an employee what they need to be more efficient and they will most likely tell you. It can be something as simple as a better office chair, or something more complex like a program that will help keep their workload more organized. They might not understand the details of how to achieve it, but they usually can provide insight into how to do a better job. Your job then becomes finding the best solutions to improve working conditions. Employees buy into a lot of strategies if they understand it’s for the ultimate benefit of the company, and will improve their lives in the process.

Effective design continues with the needs of the customer base

Just as importantly is your revenue source, your customers. Yes, they may love what you do, but is it the most effective way to get what you have to deliver? How can you improve to make the experience more effective? What can build a stronger rapport and help them become bigger fans? Technology is often at the heart of an improvement to make things better, faster, more productive, more efficient. Ask them what they love about you and how you can improve it and you’ll usually find your improvement points woven within.

Seamless transitions

How many systems do you have in place? Current applications make it simple to streamline many of the processes you use every day. An intelligent office looks for insight on how to use as few of systems as possible to manage and organize large amounts of data, as well as restructuring your technology to be as easy to use as possible. That’s why system integration is so important. That’s why cloud-based systems are essential to today’s working environment. And with a proficient security plan in place, you’ll ensure your data retains integrity every step of the way.

What changes have you made to create an intelligent office?

Why Leaders Should Always Mentor

Why Leaders Should Always Mentor

Every day we strive to learn a little bit more. It may be something simple, or a complex task.

But as we weave in and out of our daily practices, it all comes together in a unique way. We think differently. We understand how things fit together. We see the flow in an entirely distinctive way from others around us.

Chances are you’ve never sat down and contemplated all you know. It’s not something we consider. Until someone around us asks a question, and we pay attention to the answers we can provide. That’s the day you change. That’s the day your leadership skills move to the next level.

Self-Awareness Can Transform Your Leadership Skills

Most of us fall into leadership in the normal way. We work hard, get promoted. Eventually, we’re put in charge.

Then the training begins. To be an effective leader, you’ll start honing in on critical leadership skills. Becoming a people person. Lead instead of following. And become a lifelong learner. You change. You grow. More out of necessity than anything else.

But to become a great leader requires feedback. You can’t dish it out without knowing the impact it has. And the more you learn about how you impact those around you, the better you can be at helping them move forward too.

Communication is key. Provide guidance. Ask questions. Deliver direction through discussions and problems. This is a two-way street. Watching how a mentee uses your insights will only give you more value in what you know. Things you take for granted can suddenly become valuable teaching material. Because you think about things in a unique way.

Mentoring Separates Doers From The Leaders

A part of a leader’s job is to watch for hidden talent. To find the diamonds in the rough. The employees that can easily be taken to the next level, given more responsibility, and become a leader in their own right in the future. It’s always an ebb-and-flow environment, one that helps your organization continue to grow.

We’re in a crossover business society right now. In almost all organizations, departments are transcending upon each other, creating more sophisticated alliances between each.

In the IT world, for example, some of the most interesting projects they can take on no longer happen in the IT department. It’s in other areas, like marketing or finance. IT leaders are figuring out that creating self-serving internal policies and programs no longer work across the board. Instead, IT is taking ideas and suggestions for better service, better performance, and integrating solutions into every department company-wide.

Someone in marketing may have an MBA, be well versed in strategic business applications, and have an excellent understanding of systems design. But what they’re missing is the skills needed to move to the next level.

The mentor/mentee relationship can bring talent across the board, and make them richer, more diverse employees that can offer greater benefits overall. With a little training, a little coaching, they can move your company into a solid, profitable direction.

How do you develop the mentor/mentee relationships within your organization?

Could Telecommuting Boost Productivity Of Your Medical Staff?

Could Telecommuting Boost Productivity Of Your Medical Staff?

Telecommuting is becoming a widely accepted practice throughout all industries. Surveys show that more than 13 million people here in the US currently telecommute for at least part of their workweek. And research suggests that as many as 45 percent of all positions are prime candidates for telecommuting.

This can benefit both the employee and the employer in many ways.

For the employee, it means they can wake five minutes to 9, grab a quick cup of coffee and be settled into a chair and busy at work with little interruption.

For the employer, they can have a much wider draw for potential employees, choosing specific people to meet specific needs based on their resume, not on their geographical location.

But while some industries – media, IT, finance, accounting – have embraced the telecommuting concept effectively, other industries lag behind.

Healthcare is one of them. Since a lot of the healthcare process involves patient interaction, the industry hasn’t been receptive to allowing people to work from multiple locations.

The key to its success is with the changing technology. Telemedicine is enabling doctors to treat patients from remote locations. Advanced billing and practice management technology is allowing offsite employees to secure administrative roles.

Like many other decisions made within a successful medical practice, working remotely has its pros and cons.

As a manager, providing the best work experience possible for your staff is always top of mind. Again and again, studies show that remote workers are 10 to 15 percent more satisfied with their jobs and are more loyal to their employers than their office worker counterparts. And by allowing some of your staff to telecommute, you can reduce office expenses including utilities, workspace, and even salaries.

Because people won’t have long commutes in and out of the office, they often have more time to do the things required at home, and are better able to split their work/personal time effectively. Which means in many cases they become more focused at work, and are often more productive in their accomplishments.

Of course telecommuting solely starts with having a flexible position. While it won’t work for the people that meet with people directly throughout the day, the most obvious place to start is with the admin department – medical billing, data entry, patient follow-up, and the like.

The key to allowing more flexibility throughout the office is starting with an advanced, secure web-based IT solution. Chances are your billing and patient management programs are mostly electronic, but how secure are they when accessed remotely? How effective is your security when a program is accessed through different devices – an employee’s smartphone or tablet – or accessed in a non-secure area, such as a coffee shop?

If your employees have been requesting working remotely, or if you’ve considered using it to reduce your expenses, the best place to start is by giving it a shot. Ease into it with a test period in order to understand your needs. We can help you by supplying a thorough list of procedures and resources that should be in place before your first employee starts up her computer in her home office.

Then keep a close eye on how well it works for the two of you. Clear and open communication is the key. The more you learn, the easier it will be. And you may quickly discover that it can open up a world of benefits you never considered before.

Do any of your employees telecommute? What’s been your biggest concern?

Improving The Service Quality Of Your Business

In some aspect, every business is a service business. Making sure a customer is handled effectively from beginning to end is the key to a happy customer. But many businesses struggle to keep this process in top shape. While even tiny improvements can have a big impact on both retention and increased satisfaction, it won’t happen if you don’t spend the time putting a plan in place.

Start With Motivating Your Employees

People don’t buy from your company; they buy because of a relationship they have with someone in your company. No matter how much they need what you offer, if a customer has a bad experience with an employee, they will find another company to support their needs.Improving The Service Quality Of Your Business

Good employees create good business. So spend the time necessary to make them the best they can be. Start with the onboarding process and bring them into your company with open arms. Employees shouldn’t be thought of as a “one job” employee. Instead, teach them every aspect of what your company does, and how they fill a little piece of the big picture. If an employee feels like they are an important part of the team, they are more likely to go out of their way to provide their best work performance level possible. It’s not just a job – they enjoy what they do.

Also make sure you have a plan in place for what quality service means, and have a way to teach that process to your employees. Don’t assume that employees retain the information from year to year. Update your training and provide new concepts to employees along the way. Remember, if you don’t actively define what quality service means within your company, chances are your employees are using their own version. And more than likely the two don’t align.

Talk To Your Customers

Customers will tell you what they think of your company, of your customer service process, and even offer suggestions for change. You just have to ask. Yet keep in mind that your customers are busy people, and won’t give you feedback unless the process is easy.

Talking one on one is the easiest way. Wherever you have one on one contact with a customer, ask for feedback. What can we do to be of better service to you? What can we provide that we don’t already offer? Simple questions can provide you with a world of information from very smart people that see your business through a different set of eyes.

Also remember that in this technology driven world, you can learn a lot by monitoring what people are talking about online. Do you have a Twitter account and use it well? Do you monitor review sites to learn of complaints? If you haven’t taken to the online world to connect with your customers, it’s time to learn easy ways to connect and stay in touch with the people that can have the biggest impact on your business.

Update Your Quality Service Tools

When was the last time you chose to work with a company and had complaints about the way the business functioned? We do it all the time. It’s easy to look into another business and see ways to fix a problem when you don’t live inside the business every day.

Turn those concepts back on your own business. Are you doing all you can to provide quality service every day?

  • Do you have user friendly websites that allow your customers easy access to the information they need most, both from the website and through secure logins
  • Do you have point of sale systems in place that make it easy for a customer to complete the sale both online and off
  • Do you have security features in place that protect customer information from potential hacks?

Think like your customer. Then service them in the same manner you prefer to be serviced by the companies you do business with. Quality service is an ongoing process. If you work at it a little each day, you’ll keep your customers and employees happy for the distance.

8 Ways To Become A Well-Read Person

8 Ways To Become A Well-Read Person

Have you ever watched an experienced networker in action? They circle the room, warming up and making friends with everyone they meet. Not only do they put on a happy face and show true interest in what the other person is saying, they seem to be able to carry on a conversation about a wide range of topics.

When you’re knowledgable and well-read, conversation comes naturally. You don’t have to stretch for the next topic or the next thing to say. When you become a seasoned conversationalist, your clients, colleagues and acquaintances find you easy to be around.

So how do they do it? After all, networkers aren’t born; they’re made. It’s a skill that’s teachable and easy to learn with just a little bit of work each week. It starts with the ability to have intelligent and interesting things to say. And you can do that in a number of ways.

1. Subscribe to a daily newspaper
Subscribing to a daily newspaper doesn’t mean doorstep delivery any more. If your office subscribes to The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, start there. Or sign up for a digital edition, most offer them at reduced rates. If you travel, pick up a local paper and learn what’s happening in different locations. Or use RSS feeds to follow the news from different parts of the world.

2. Read a good book
Several hundred thousand books are published each year here in the United States, and that doesn’t take into account all the books that are self-published. While it would be impossible to read each and every one of them, you can find the best of the best by looking at the top seller lists each week. The New York Times, Amazon, even magazines like Inc and Entrepreneur put out best seller lists to help you select the most interesting books on the market.

3. Multi-task
It’s hard to fit in everything you would like to do in a 24 hour time period. If you don’t have time to read, chose an audiobook instead. You can download it to your phone or tablet and take it with you everywhere you go.Whether on your commute to work, or your 30 minute workout after work, listening to something new can give you more than enough tidbits to share over dinner later that night.

4. Podcasts are the new books
If you haven’t had a chance to listen to a podcast, you’re missing the newest wave of technology. Though podcasts have been around for years, they are once again picking up steam – which means you’ll find a podcast about anything of interest to you. Head over to iTunes and browse through the hundreds of possibilities. Or check out one of the many apps that cater to podcasts – how about Stitcher?

5. Sign up for a class
There is a world of opportunity right outside your door. Classes don’t need to be expensive or even a great distance from your home in order to open up your eyes to new opportunities. Check out your local parks and recreation center in your community. A community college offers a wide variety of classes, and often have adult learning opportunities that can teach you something new in one evening. Don’t have time to attend a class? Stream it instead. You can find many opportunities online to watch via telephone, webinar or even through video. You can even learn new ideas quickly by following and watching TED videos every week.

6. Find new local events
As a networker, its easy to get into a rut, going to the same events over and over again. When you see the same people, its hard to find new things to talk about. Switch it up and find new groups in your area. Use sites like Meetup to find events happening all around you. Don’t limit it to business or groups a mile or two from your home. Do a few searches based on your other interests too. Business comes from being out there and connecting with new people. Who says you can’t do that on a hike, or sharing a glass of wine at a tasting?

7. Visit museums and cultural centers
Have you taken advantage of all the resources in your community? You’ll find many historical and cultural exhibitions in your area with just a simple search. You can join the museum and be the first to every exhibit that comes to town. Or take a tour to learn more about the native culture; you can find tour guides in a variety of places, even your local greenhouse may offer talks on native plants.

8. Stretch outside your comfort zone
It’s easy to fall into a rut, doing the same old things over and over again. Yet the more you venture out to learn new things, the more you’ll be able to share what you learn about. If a colleague mentions a class that sounds interesting, consider signing up too. If an acquaintance talks about a new hobby that sounds interesting, investigate how you could give it a try. Be curious. Ask questions. These are often skills we had as children, yet have lost as adults. The more inquisitive you are, the more you’ll grow. And the more you’ll discover about the world … and yourself.

How To Add More Time Into Your Day

How To Add More Time Into Your Day

Have you ever sat back at the end of a busy day and wondered exactly what you accomplished? Sure, a lot of things came across your desk. You had a great lunch meeting filled with potential promise. But what did you truly accomplish?

The trickiest part of the time management process is finding all of those time wasters that kill your efficiency and rob you of the opportunity to do more in less time. We all want more time – its our most valuable resource. But in reality, how you use each moment of the day is what controls your effectiveness as a worker, and as a leader. If you learn to focus in on results rather than action alone, you’ll soon be able to choose the thing to follow through on that will benefit both you and the company the most.How To Add More Time Into Your Day

Action, Not Reaction
One of the biggest time wasters involves going into crisis mode when a big event occurs. Rather than planning and having things run smoothly, a telephone call or a simple statement from a client or employee can set the fires burning, and suck everyone in the office into problem solving mode. Reaction not only takes top priority, it stops productivity in its tracks as it pulls you away from other things that truly needed to be done.

Yet studies consistently show that many of these crisis situations can be solved with a little bit of foresight and planning. When a crisis happened, what caused it? How was the problem solved? Instead of reacting, completing the task, and pushing it aside to play catch up on other tasks, spend time evaluating the situation. What could have been done to avoid the crisis altogether? What’s missing in your system? In almost every case there are certain procedures that if implemented properly, would have been enough to avoid the situation. Learn from your mistakes. Implement new procedures and stop the next crisis from occurring before it ever has a chance.

Outcomes, Not Details
Leaders like to be in the know; understand what is happening from every direction. As we start out in a work environment and continue to grow as we learn and age, it can be difficult realizing that details aren’t necessarily our friends. Details take time. Details mean specifics. And in many cases, the specifics simply don’t matter for what a leader needs to know.

Leaders need to know when the task is complete. They need to understand the consequences of doing the job the wrong way, and make sure procedures are in place to avoid the bumps. Yet when it comes to the outcome, the only thing that truly matters is that the task is complete, and the end result is acceptable to all parties involved. The details don’t matter. Release control over the details, and you’ll give yourself more time to do what you truly need to do.

Control Technology
One of the biggest time savers we have is also one of our biggest time wasters: technology.

Those little devices we carry around with us everywhere make us more productive than ever before. They also have the potential to chain us to the office 24/7, and suck us in to doing things way beyond the scope of what truly needs to be done.

To gain control over technology, start by assessing what programs you truly need to be more efficient. In some cases it may mean evaluating new tools to provide you with better access to the things you need most.

Next, take the time to develop a plan for how you deal with technology. Rather than glancing at your phone every time an email comes in, pre-establish select times for email viewing: 7:30 am, noon and 4pm are good times to evaluate what’s happening during the day, but also gives you freedom to not be fixated on the little chimes that are bound to interrupt. You can also establish phone and texting timeframes, and answer questions and communications that come in during these specified time periods.

By establishing time frames in your mind, you’ll quickly learn to express your preferences to the people that contact you the most. If an assistant has an important question at 10am, she’ll know texting is the best way to get an answer quickly, and won’t expect an email response and get frustrated when it doesn’t happen. It’ll also set the stage for you to communicate with the people around you in a manner most friendly and conducive to letting you operate at your top efficiency level.