Is Your Leadership Training Working? Here’s How to Look at It

What many organizations fail to come to grips with is the fact that “leadership” is more than just the here-and-now team that currently occupies the executive suite.

Studies by Deloitte, in fact, speak to the problem. While 86 percent of business leaders understand an effective leadership pipeline is critical to their organizations’ future, 87 percent lack confidence in their succession plans. In fact, more than half say a shortage of future leaders has hurt their business. When businesses spend over $15 billion on leadership training, something is clearly out of kilter.

A leader has more than a fancy title and a corner office. A leader is someone who can inspire and motivate others and make them eager to follow, who actively seeks advice and perspective in order to make the hard decisions, is authentic and trustworthy, thoughtful and empathetic and communicates well. A “leader” can just as easily be found on the factory floor as that corner office.

The challenge is to recognize those who have the potential and help them develop it. And then make sure that the training is working.

The problem lies in several areas.

One problem comes in the form of training initiatives styled in the one-size-fits-all manner. Further, required competencies are typically neither specific, nor necessarily aligned with what the business needs. Do you really need innovators – whatever those are – when your organization is so siloed that its future lies instead with skilled bridge builders who can bring people together?

Your culture and long-term strategy are among the most important indicators of the types of skills, capabilities and mindsets that need to be fostered in your leaders. As a result, leadership training should be grounded in the specific competencies your particular organization needs to ensure it moves forward. That way a culture of leadership can embed in your organization and ;any the foundation for success.

From there, another issue needs to be tackled: that of ensuring your program is mindful of the time-honored axiom: What isn’t measured isn’t managed. And so it goes with your leadership training. How effective is yours?

Ideally, you should use two approaches to evaluate your progress: one qualitative, the other quantitative. These approaches should tie back to your results-oriented, leadership training goals, and they should be evaluated against solid benchmarks.

Qualitative, of course, has to do with non-numeric outcomes, or impressions and feelings. To that end, feedback is key. How do your developing leaders feel they are doing? Can they identify areas where they’re falling short or exceeding expectations? And how do others who work with them feel? Are they seen as authentic leaders? This is how – through quizzes and surveys – you monitor behaviorial change so you know what skills are taking and where reinforcement might be needed.

Quantitative measures are more-by-the-numbers, hard-and-fast indicators that your program is working…or not. These can include tracking retention rates or engagement levels. Specific achievements can be monitored, as well.

Talent is a terrible thing to waste. The way to keep that from happening is to apply more rigor to your leadership training program and how you measure its outcomes. Remember that an investment in leadership training is not simply taking a product out of the box, but rather thinking about who you are as an organization and what you need. Only then can you thoughtfully program and deliver the kind of training that will impact your culture and your success for years to come.

Buying research chemicals online – Safety tips

The online drug trading is an industry by itself. Interestingly, there are competitors that do not keep any stones unturned in proving that one is better than the other. There is open competition virtually and this is what makes it a real challenge to zero-in on the right vendor when it comes to buying research chemicals.

Every other website is competing to offer the best product online on the basis of certain parameters like purity, quality of customer service and support, promptness with which the products are delivered, professionalism, prices, and hassle free- mode of payment.

Buying research chemicals or any chemical for that matter can be quite tricky and challenging. This is because most importantly, you have to comply with the norms that govern the privacy and safety, and security in dealing with these products.

There are a set of regulations that you have to comply with. In this write up, let us find out how you can purchase the same without hassle. The information has been provided in a bulleted form for better clarity. Read on.

Tips for buying research chemicals online

Go through the following points for better insight on the subject-

 

  • Do your home work (due diligence)

 

Prior to hitting the ‘submit’ button for making payment or the ‘place order’ button, it is best to carry out thorough research about the vendor from whom you are planning to make the purchase. If possible, you can shop around for a few and then settle for the one that you think will meet your requirements.

There are few parameters that can help you to compare the services and products offered by different vendors. These parameters include quantity, quality, past track record of the vendor, online reviews, and last but not the least cost.

 

  • Getting in touch with the seller

 

You can also contact the seller directly. There are various options like live chat, emails, instant chats, and so on. It is best to talk to the seller directly. In this way, you will come to know whether or not the vendor is genuine.

A seller that has been dealing with these chemicals for long is expected to be aware of the nuances of the same and will be able to give you satisfactory answers.

 

  • Examine products with utmost care

 

When you are browsing through the list of research chemicals so that you can order them, go through the finer aspects carefully. For instance, the appropriate dosage, quantity, and quality as mentioned above. Since, you are buying them online, it is easier to get duped. As such, you have to thoroughly check the credentials of the seller so that you know that you will receive authentic products through shipment. In other words, there must be no room for unprofessionalism.

 

  • Shipping policies

 

Even before you make the payment, just make sure that you are thorough with their shipping policies, refund, and payment options and policies. In the event, you want to replace or change any product, you will know whether or not replacement is allowed or makes sense.

 

  • Shipping methods

 

Find out how you are going to receive the shipment and most importantly, how long will it be before you have it delivered at your door step.

 

  • Payment mode

 

This is one of the most essential aspects that you need to take into account just after quality of the products. If you happen to talk to one of the professionals while chatting live, you can ask the mode of payment and the one which is safer and prompt. Find out which mode of payment best applies in your case.

How to Effectively Keep Track Of Your Funds

If you intend to stay on top of your finances, you’ve to know where your money is going. “Keeping your finances in order is a matter of organization and budgeting beyond anything else,” comments Phil Gibbons, an employment lawyer in North Carolina. “No matter how much you make, if you don’t have a budget, you’ll find yourself constantly running short.”  The best way of creating a budget is to find a technique of keeping track of how much you make, and how much you spend each pay period, and figure out how much you have left over. That way, you’ll know what you can spend on frivolities, and how much you can save each month.

Although budgeting can seem tedious, there’re many ways of making it easier, if not effortless.

Budgeting apps 

Your phone is a good start. Apps like Mint can assist you in creating a budget and keeping track of your money. Mint is a free tool which connects your investments, bank accounts, and other spending to help you monitor and assess your income and expenditures. It also alerts you if you’re overspending, and gives you a report of how well you stuck to your budget each month.

Mint also enables users to input debts and assets manually. Manual accounts are a superb way of keeping tabs on debt or income that might not be linked to your online accounts, like cash, wages or tips.

However, Mint, it isn’t the only app available. Mvelopes, for instance, is a subscription service which can sync up your accounts and monitor every dollar. Mvelopes has packages from $4-$79 per month, with some offering options like financial coaching and debt reduction.

You can as well as use Spending Tracker, an app which asks you to log every purchase, and notifies you how much you require to earn each month to save or break even.

It’s therefore important to find an app, which works well for you as it really comes down to preference.

Offline budgeting tools 

Those warring to use online tools can pay for budgeting software like Quicken. With Quicken you have to categorize everything like setting up a budgeting system and applying labels to expenses and income. But it can be the best way to maintain a budget for years. Users can download information from their account, banking and investments, then analyze and keep track their finances over time.

You can use simple Excel spreadsheets as well, to keep tabs on spending.

The Envelope Method

If you’re tech averse and choose to stay offline, you can just keep track of your budget by hand.

Those who mostly use cash might want to try the envelope approach: Label envelopes with expenses or bills—“rent,” “food,” “savings,” “utilities,” “entertainment,” etc.—along with their exact costs. Then fill the envelopes with their respective amount of cash. Once you exhaust your “entertainment,” envelope, it means you’ve spent your entertainment budget for the whole month.

The aim is to ensure every cent you bring in is proactively allocated and accounted for. As each bill comes due, just find the corresponding envelope and settle the bill either directly, or by a cheque or deposit.

This system may seem annoying at first, but with time, the monthly upkeep will become natural. At least try to keep track on your finances for a year. I can almost guarantee you’ll be shocked at how much you save when you’re paying attention.

How To Spend Less Money This Summer On Cooling

Summer does not give the homeowner a break when it comes to utility bills. You just go from having a heater to run to having central air or air conditioners to run. Your air conditioner does a ton of work in a home, from keeping it cool to helping keep the humidity down in your home.

When you don’t have central air and you need to have two or more air conditioners in your home, your electric bill can quickly add up. That will lead you to want to find ways to keep your home cool while keeping your bills down. Here are some ways to do just that.

Keep The Shades Drawn

When the sun is shining bright outside, keeping the blinds or curtains drawn can help you keep your home cooler (throughout). The sun is warm and it makes the things it shines on warm (OK, it’s really hot, but it feels warm this far away from it).

You can do the opposite when it’s colder outside but the sun is shining, open the shades and let the light shine in. You may not like the dark, but keeping the windows covered will keep the house cooler, and you can always just turn on a couple extra lights when needed.

Set A Decent Temp

If you prefer to let the light in or at least some of it, you can try to just set your thermostat at a specific temp that isn’t too cold. You want it to keep your home comfortable, as opposed to chilly. Instead of putting the air on 60-something, set it above 70. That will be enough to cut the humidity in your home and make it tolerable.

Throw on some shorts or a t-shirt if you’re up moving around. The more you move the warmer you can get, but you need to find a way to deal with that warmth that doesn’t mean turning the temp down, and thus making your utility bill higher.

Let Some Fresh Air In On Cool Nights

Turn your air conditioner(s) off at night and open the windows. Of course, there are some nights when it’ll stay over 80 degrees Fahrenheit overnight, but on the nights it’s less than that, open up the windows! Fresh air will do you some good.

The sounds of the bugs and frogs outside might be just the sound you need to help you sleep better as well.

Invest In Some Cool Stuff

Get some fans to help circulate the cool air you do have in your home. Wear lighter pajamas at night. Put away the flannel sheet sets. Invest in some cooling pillows (they do exist). And, if you spend much time with a laptop on your lap, get a cooling pad for it or you’ll feel like you’re sitting in direct sunlight even with the air conditioner on!

Tips on Living Affordably in Major Canadian Cities

A lot of people don’t really consider moving to the cities in Canada for financial reasons. Top cities across the country, including Toronto and Vancouver, are famous for being expensive. In reality, however, it is easy to live affordably in any major Canadian city. The growing economy and better living environment also make these cities perfect for families.

Royalty Free Photo

Whether you’re already living in a city of your choice or you’re exploring the idea of moving to the country, these next few tips on living affordably in Canada will help you keep your monthly expenses in check. Let’s get started, shall we?

Live Close to Work and Use a Bike

Many – if not all – Canadian cities are friendly to bikers. Taking a bicycle to work is something that a lot of people do. Not only will you be healthier, but you can also save a lot of money on travel expenses. After all, driving your own car, especially on a daily basis, will quickly jack those living expenses up really quickly.

Finding a place closer to work is also a very good idea. There are a lot of incredible places available for rent regardless of the city you choose, so this too should be relatively easy to do. If you’re taking a job in Toronto, for instance, an excellent apartment in Toronto, Ontario, is your best option.

If you still need to take a car ride occasionally, rely on ride-sharing services and car-op. Services like Modo and Car2Go are very reliable, plus you now have ride-sharing apps like Uber providing you with more options and instant access to rides.

Be Smart About Your Expenses

Another important tip to keep in mind when you’re trying to keep living in Canadian cities affordable is to be smart with your expenses. For starters, you can save a lot on groceries by shopping at the right stores. Take advantage of coupons and deals too; there are apps and websites you can rely on to find the latest deals on everyday items.

Shop online whenever possible. Amazon and other online retailers also deliver to all major Canadian cities, so you can save even more by taking advantage of online deals. Shopping online is also a great way to save on larger purchases now that there are plenty of special offers (i.e. free shipping and bonuses) to use.

Buy Used Whenever Possible

One last great thing about Canadian cities is the lively second-hand market they have, both online and offline. Weekend markets are filled with a wide variety of items in great condition, from a barely-used microwave oven to a chic set of chairs to complete your living room. Craigslist and similar sites grant you access to even more preloved items to choose from.

These are all easy tips to implement, but they can help you save a lot of money and make living in the main Canadian cities affordable. Be meticulous about your expenses, keep track of the deals and special offers available, and it will be easy to keep monthly costs low without sacrificing comfort.

Colored Diamonds: What to Know When Making Your First Investment

Like the old song says, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” These days, the beautiful and increasingly rare colored diamond can be an investor’s best friend, too.

Many investment counselors recommend including hard assets like diamonds in one’s portfolio.

Hard assets, which include things like oil, natural gas, gold, silver and real estate, can be an excellent inflation hedge.

Fancy colored diamonds have historically outperformed other hard asset classes. They’re recession-proof and they’re a good option for people looking for assets to hold on to for long-term growth.

Prices for the higher grade categories of colored diamonds have increased in the past 12 years, and the price for pink diamonds in the Fancy Intense color category has increased 1,000 percent for the same period.

Most people picture the traditional clear, colorless stone when they think of diamonds. But, diamonds come in a spectrum of colors — pink, blue, orange, purple, black and other shades. The colors are formed by trace chemical elements and particulates during the crystallization process: the presence of boron creates the blue diamond, while nitrogen produces orange and yellow ones.

The Argyle Diamond Mine in Western Australia is one of the world’s largest diamond producers. It’s the major source for the extremely rare and valuable pink diamond. Less than 1 percent of the Argyle diamonds are pink, making them highly desirable to collectors and diamond connoisseurs.

The Argyle supply of diamonds is being rapidly depleted and the mine is expected to cease operation in 2018. This in turn is driving global demand for colored diamonds — especially the pink diamond — and prices are expected to increase tenfold by the time the mine shuts down.

There are several key points to consider when investing in colored diamonds.

Grading A Colored Diamond

Color grading is one of the most important factors when appraising the value of a colored diamond. There are three criteria. Hue is the main color of the diamond: there are 27 hues. Tone refers to how light or dark the color is. Saturation, or strength of the color, is ranked in nine categories, from Faint to Fancy Vivid.

Physical Characteristics That Determine Value

Color diamonds are rated for clarity, which is a term that refers to the absence or presence of imperfections in the stone.

The price of a diamond is proportional to its carat weight.

The cut of a colored diamond isn’t a factor in pricing, but it does have an effect on color and carat weight. For example, the radiant cut produces a more even distribution of color.

Growing Your Investment’s Value

Setting an investment diamond into jewelry can increase its value. Higher demand for jewelry pieces drives up the resale price.

Although no two diamonds are alike, two that appear to be very similar can be sold as a pair at a higher value.

Authenticating Your Investment’s Grading

When buying a colored diamond, make sure that it has a grading report certificate from a reputable gemological organization.

Four Guidance Points to Building Successful Family Business Governance

A 2014 survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 71 percent of family-owned businesses didn’t have procedures in place to resolve conflict issues.

Statistics such as these make it all the more imperative that family members in business together set up a clear and agreed-upon structural plan, a constitution for business governance as it were.

Items in this structural plan can include mission and vision statements, an employment policy, strategies to develop the next generation of leadership for the business, a liquidity policy, a succession plan, and information regarding any shareholder meetings.

Understandably, the details of what is relevant when it comes to successful family governance can change from business to business.  With that said, the below guidance points can prove useful for a wide range of family-run organizations. 

Independent Board of Advisors

Many family businesses have boards of directors comprised mostly or entirely of family members. Although boards of directors with this kind of composition can be successful, independent, non-family-related directors do bring value. 

Some family businesses ensure more balanced boards of directors through policies that limit the number of family directors.  Some also compliment their family board members with non-equity holding directors. If the governance structure doesn’t allow for outsiders on the board, setting up an advisory committee to the CEO that is composed of individuals recruited from outside the family may bring fresh perspective and expertise.

Avoiding Conflict During Management Changes

Policies that encourage meritocracy are certainly beneficial to any family-run company, especially when it comes to setting boundaries and avoiding conflict during times of management change.

The reality is that leadership change happens in most businesses.  Intelligently-run organizations understand this reality and plan ahead to make leadership transitions as smooth as possible.

To build on the previous point, outside directors and advisers can help make management changes smooth, after all non-family related advisors or directors can provide both the perception and the reality of objectivity during leadership selection decisions.

Regardless if a business is hiring new management from within the family or outside of it, new management should be in line with the organization’s culture and should be evaluated based on core leadership qualities like respect, integrity, quality, humility, passion, modesty, and ambition.

Transparency

To prosper, businesses need to raise financing from time to time and if a company is still private, that usually means depending on a bank to provide a loan. Family-run firms that insist on maintaining a veil of secrecy over their affairs will find it difficult to raise the financing needed to grow.

The so-called “family premium” — the idea that family-owned and -led businesses are stricter when it comes to standards, capital distribution and governance — is typically only applicable to entities with high levels of transparency. Conversely, opaque firms trade at a discount because investors simply don’t know enough about that business, especially those firms with governance practices that may be questionable in other respects.

A Well-Organized CEO Succession

When examining large family-run corporations that have failed in the past, CEO successions, or rather failed CEO successions, have played an unfortunate pivotal role.  When considering the integrity of their own CEO succession process, businesses should ask three questions: one, how vigorous is their candidate selection process and does it allow for the inclusion of multiple candidates?  Two, will all family members who are significantly part of the business be involved in the selection of the new CEO?  Three, what is involved when it comes to integrating and developing the successor in his or her new role as CEO? 

The latter point should be particularly emphasized if a new CEO is being introduced into the business who is not part of the family.  After all, this will be a leader who will not only have to efficiently and successfully integrate into the company, it will also be someone who will need to integrate into the family business dynamic and navigate the occasionally choppy waters of inter-family relationships.

How to Improve Your Condo Without Spending a Fortune

Trying to improve a condo is a hard task, which takes a great amount of time and patience. Knowing what you have to do before you even take the first step will save you from a lot of financial, emotional and physical stress – so it’s worth familiarizing yourself with the details. Be smart about it, and consider following the seasoned tips and advice from Louie Santaguida, who’s been in the real estate industry for many years.

 

Plan Well and Think Ahead

 

Taking note of everything that you want to change in your condo is the most crucial step, as aimlessly trying to redesign and redecorate a room might cause more harm than good. If you keep the change open-ended, you have the chance of being able to improve upon it later on. Checking things such as the furniture, appliances, space and even the wiring involved is a must.

 

Keep It Simple

 

If you plan to make a lot of changes, make sure that they’re simple and don’t pose a great amount of risk. In the event that something doesn’t go as planned, you have the option to take a step back just as easily as you did stepping forward. If you try to amaze yourself with one big change after the other, you might even find yourself homesick. Completely redoing the layout of a room might prove to be overkill, especially if all you want is to have more space.

 

Re-purpose Rooms

 

Condo units that have neutral colored rooms are more open to repurposing, while moving furniture around your condo also gives you the opportunity to clean up. The dirt that has built up over time is hard to notice when you’re already used to looking at the same thing everyday.

 

Tidy Up

 

To expand on the previous advice, cleaning your home might seem like a basic task at first. However, a thoroughly cleaned interior will look a lot different compared to what you see everyday. Consider using a vacuum, power cleaning tools, and replacing carpets if you have any. You’ll notice how fresh everything looks afterwards – after all, there’s a reason why the phrase “good as new” was coined.

 

Get Rid of Things

 

Hoarding is something that can be very difficult to notice until it’s too late. If you find yourself having less and less room to wiggle in your condo, then it might be the time to throw some things out. Look at the items that you haven’t used in the past few months, and decide if you’re even going to use them in the future. If the answer is no, then consider storing them in your building’s storage area (if available). Your closet might be piled up with clothes that you never use; why not donate them to charity? The fewer clothes you have, the smaller the closet you’ll need, which ultimately gives your home more space for other furniture.

Three Things Your Business Needs In Case Of Emergency

There are some investments a business needs to make in order to save money over time. Those include things that help keep your business externally and internally safe. You want to protect your business from theft, but you also want to protect your assets, like computers and products. Theft isn’t the only thing that can “damage” your stock or your computers.

A power surge or a fire could have great consequences and severely damage your business and your livelihood. Taking all of these risk factors into consideration, here are some investments you should make for the safety of your business.

Protecting Your Power

When it comes to power outages all sorts of bad things can happen to a business. A power surge could damage all of your computers and even the microwave in the breakroom. That’s why it is important to plug everything in through surge protectors, and why it might be wise to invest in an uninterrupted power supply system of some sort.

A generator is also a good idea for a business, and you can get ones that will kick right on the moment the power goes out. This is especially important if you have refrigerators or freezers that help keep items your business deals in at certain temperatures. A grocery store with no backup system might go out of business with just one extended power outage.

Protecting From Fires

Don’t just rely on smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Yes, your business does need these things, but you need more than them. With electrical equipment constantly plugged in and running, overheated can happen and can lead to fires, as can faulty wiring.

Since you won’t always be in your office/building, you need something that can protect from fires when no one is there to grab the extinguisher. Investing in a sprinkler system can be a wise idea. If you have a lot of electronic equipment you may want to look into a non-water system.

Security Protection

You also need security protection for your business, whether you deal with cash or just have a good deal of expensive equipment within the building. Retail stores can start their protection with a loss prevention department and doing regular inventory. You also want to put in some

kind of system that lets employees discreetly alert authorities in case of a robbery.

It’s also wise to invest in a security system that works when no one is in the building. This means having an alarm system you need to set each night when the last person is leaving the business. It may also mean having some security lights that stay on 24/7, even over the weekend when no one is around.

Your business is your livelihood, so invest money into keeping it protected.

Estate Planning for the Internet Age: Keeping Your Online Assets Secure

As paper continues to be replaced by plastic and more purchases than ever are made on the internet, families must increasingly plan for the future by taking a hard look at their “digital assets” and how best to protect them.

Online shopping and banking has become the norm in 2017 — Amazon is the nation’s ninth-largest retailer, according to the National Retail Federation, and a late 2015 survey from Bankrate showed that four in 10 account holders hadn’t visited a physical branch of their bank in the last six months, a trend that will only trail upward in the years to come.

Despite this shift into the digital sphere, many Americans tend not to consider the connection between their online presence and their estate. It’s a mistake that can have consequences for the loved ones who are left to sort through their affairs; the 2017 Identity Fraud Study released by Javelin Strategy & Research in February found that 15.4 million U.S. consumers lost more than $16 billion to fraud in 2016, and account-takeover losses increased more than 60 percent between 2015 and last year.

Much of that fraud now occurs without access to a physical bank card or checkbook, from ransomware and data breaches involving entire stores and hospital systems to the email phishing scams and cyberattacks that made last year a record year for fraud both on and off the net.

The problem becomes even more complicated when stolen data can’t be recovered because its owner is deceased. Online accounts that people might never consider in their estate planning can become a headache when hacked — your iTunes account is linked to your checking account, after all. Ensuring that your personal information is safe in the Information Age means covering your bases and making your accounts accessible to the right people.

While planning for the distribution of your estate after your death is never fun, it is the first and most important step to making sure your assets are used as you see fit after you’re gone. For most, that means divvying up property, giving power over for bank accounts and bequeathing the key to a safety deposit box. In 2017, it should also mean giving out passwords and setting out language in your will that establishes set guidelines for managing your online presence.

While a growing number of governments are enacting laws that clarify the rules for executors managing virtual accounts, the fact that most online accounts are governed by a terms-of-service agreement and subject to the privacy laws of the territory in which they’re headquartered means people should seek legal advice regarding their PayPal account just as they would about their house or car. Many of the most popular websites are based outside Canada, creating the potential for a conflict in laws that should be taken into consideration during the estate planning process.

Tools offered by a service that allow secondary access to an account are an easy way for people to ensure that their loved ones have access after their death. A prime example of this is Facebook’s legacy contact feature — a person can establish a legacy contact who has permission to manage his or her account after their death by taking a few minutes to change their account settings.

If these tools aren’t available on the platform or aren’t utilized, control of a decedent’s online accounts are governed by what is laid out in his or her will. Failing that, an account’s service agreement dictates what happens to the account, and generally, access is limited to the person who agreed to the service.

Imagine it: months after someone’s passing, a fraudster gains access to their still-active Amazon account, spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars before their grieving family realizes what has happened. It’s a scenario that can be avoided with the proper planning and foresight, and a consideration that shouldn’t be overlooked in the estate planning process.