Wednesday, 27 September 2017

American Education Still In Trouble

Education can be your life’s greatest treasure. It’s something nobody can take away from you. For years, parents struggled to send their children off to school whether they have the support of the government or not. Education enabled their young minds to think out of the box and learn things they would never have known had they stayed at home and not frequent the four corners of the classroom. Educated people have a wider understanding of life as they learn what makes the world go round. However, getting an education remains to be a big hurdle that many families face until today.

You can change your life with a good quality education. Unfortunately, it may come at a high price tag. But as the world progresses and technology starts to take over the world, society needs more educated people to help run the affairs of the state and most businesses too. The government has been doing its part in subsidizing the children’s education for decades now, so Americans continue to be globally competitive someday. Then there is a growing middle-class that does not always rely on the government for help in putting their kids to school. Yet despite all these changes, many still struggle to get an education in America, more so in other parts of the world.

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus chastised the state Senate on Wednesday for fighting improvements to public education and called on this summer's special session to include work fixing the state's beleaguered school finance system.

Straus said he hopes school finance is added to Gov. Greg Abbott's special session call, which currently includes 20 issues, including a committee to study school finance but not a demand the Legislature pass a series of fixes pushed by the House this session.

The San Antonio Republican told a ballroom full of school board members they should complain often and loudly to pressure state lawmakers to prioritize public education and branded the House as the chamber that "still believes in public education."


The education system is in dire need of reforms to address the issue of underfunding in public schools. It also won’t help that the education sector is included in the list of President Trump’s budget cuts considering that many are already struggling to meet the growing education needs of today’s youth. If this goes on, more Americans will go into adulthood lacking the education they need to find better jobs for their families and struggle even more in their day-to-day lives.

In a stinging speech that slammed the Senate's focus on school vouchers and bathroom bills, the San Antonio Republican told a hotel ballroom full of school board members that they should pressure state lawmakers, and run for election to the state's upper chamber.

"In many ways, your hands are tied and state government is holding the rope," he told more than 200 attendees at the Texas Association of School Boards during their opening dinner at a conference to review legislation from the 2017 legislative session.  "One of my biggest concerns coming out of this year's session is that we are starting to send the wrong signal about who we are as a state."

Branding the House as the chamber that "still believes in public education," Straus said he had looked forward to speaking at the Wednesday night conference so he could be around elected officials who are "sincere, hard-working and committed to education. It's quite a change for me," he said to laughs in the Marriott Rivercenter in downtown San Antonio.


Legislation is needed in order to realize these reforms not only when it comes to funding but even when it comes to the hiring and firing of teachers too. Meanwhile, the controversial bathroom bill is likewise taking up too much time of the legislators that it shadows other more important issues faced by educators and the school system in general. Even issues on property reform taxes should also be addressed as many schools get funding from them rather than from the federal government itself.

The government should no longer turn a blind eye to the myriad of problems faced by schools nowadays. The president may not value the importance of supporting the education of the youth but it does not mean that his opinions speak for the reality we all face. After all, he is a billionaire who has probably been out of touch of reality for the longest time as he looks down on the masses from his high-rise Trump Towers. Meanwhile, many kids will lose the opportunity to advance in life because one person in power thinks otherwise.

The following blog article American Education Still In Trouble was initially published on


Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Maximizing Technology In Building Your Business

Technology is a major force in our ever changing world. It defines the era we are living in and provided the tools mankind needs for further progress. If you just look around you, you can see different types of technology dominating the market. Smart technology, for instance, is the hottest tech these days and a favorite of many because of the endless opportunities it offers to just about everyone who owns a smartphone or smartgadget and has Internet access. Technology is rapidly advancing. If you are a business owner, make an effort to keep abreast with all these advancements to fuel your brand’s growth and reach a wider audience. Remember that the competition is doing it too, so you better get on it now than be left behind by everyone else.

With the population explosion, many entrepreneurs have also opened up more innovative businesses to meet the growing needs of the public. But since you’ll have a hard time dominating the market through conventional means, most business owners tap technology to give them an edge over others. For instance, make use of social media to get in touch with people and communicate the essence of your brand. You also have to distinguish which platform is best for your business because different channels work differently too. You can reach out to more artsy minded people for your arts and craft business on Pinterest while most generic businesses can do well on Facebook.

Many small businesses owners find that the fast-paced growth of the technology industry can make it difficult to know the right time to adopt new tools. But few understand that waiting too long, or lagging too far behind the curve, can have a real negative impact on business. According to recent report from Boston Consulting Group, Lessons on Technology and Growth from Small-Business Leaders, “…research shows technology leaders far outperform their peers in the marketplace,” and, “created jobs almost twice as fast as other small businesses. Technology leaders also increased their annual revenues 15 percentage points faster than companies with lower levels of technology adoption.”

In order to stay competitive, create jobs and increase revenue, small businesses need to seriously consider technology trends and how to leverage them. In addition to growing the bottom line, here are five ways small and mid-sized companies can use technology to grow their businesses.

Reach customers

There are numerous cloud-based technologies that can help a small business grow by more efficiently reaching customers and creating leads. Low-cost applications exist to help manage contacts, accounts, pipeline and opportunities. More robust software may include marketing applications to create more revenue generating email campaigns and providing analytics to help get the right message to target audiences. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube can also be used to promote products and services. Many of these technologies are often low cost or even free.


Over two billion people use social media daily. That’s a lot of people you can easily tap if you just maximize what these social channels can offer. It might seem like a piece of cake but it is challenging to break the Internet if you don’t have any idea on what you are doing, what your company has to offer, and what direction you plan on taking your business. Build your social media presence and target the right traffic for your brand. You can even make use of technology to raise capital for your start-up venture. Crowdfunding does that for you. There are a lot of business opportunities but there are many things to consider as well, so don’t rush in and plan how you wish to maximize technology to make it work for your brand and not the other way around.

Business users were once the first to experience technology. PCs were the norm in the office and on the factory floor long before computers were in use at home. The business user accepted technology at the pace that the business doled it out. That was then. Over the last decade the consumer technology market leapfrogged the business world. Traditional business has been struggling to keep up with its technology savvy employees, and its customers’ expectation for easy information access and seemingly effortless multi-channel transactions utilizing their device du jour.

Relevant business technology is all about software now — specifically customer-facing software that eases information/transaction access, and software bundled into the company’s product or service offerings that add innovative, unique function. That software-defined customer experience and connectedness is crucial to future business vitality. The composition of a “product” has been expanded to include software. A firm’s customer experience needs to be managed in a product management context. Product management in a software defined world must confront the increasingly shortened time frame between innovation and commoditization. Speed to market is crucial.


Even small American businesses are now heavily dependent on new technological solutions and social media innovations in promoting and building their brand and even in regularly reaching out to their customer base. The web continues to innovate as we speak and you really have to devote a great deal of your time, money and effort in harnessing tech to your company’s advantage and in streamlining your business efforts. Open up your mind to various possibilities offered by the web because that is when real growth takes place.

Maximizing Technology In Building Your Business was initially published to NC Blog


Friday, 22 September 2017

What’s In Store For The 2020 Olympics

Life would be so boring without exciting and adventurous activities like sports. Although not everyone are gifted enough to be athletic in build, talent or skills, we all know how to appreciate many of these sporting events that interests us or captures our fancy. Athletes devote a great deal of their time in honing their skills especially if they compete in prestigious events like say, the Olympics. The prestige of winning medals in such competitions can be the highlight of any athlete’s career and determine their path in life.

Every four years, a host country is tasked to prepare for the Olympic Games that were originally held in Athens, Greece. The next Olympic Games or otherwise known as the Games of the XXXII Olympiad will take place in Tokyo in 2020. Being the host country is both a big honor and a responsibility. For this event alone, a budget of 400 billion Japanese Yen was set by the Japanese government to spend for all the hosting preparations.


Commenting on the decision, IOC President Thomas Bach said: “The fascinating new events that we approved today, together with the five new sports that were added to the Tokyo 2020 programme last year, represent a step-change in the Olympic programme. I am delighted that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will be more youthful, more urban and will include more women.”

The EB decision will lead to a net increase of 15 events, an overall reduction of 285 athletes from Rio 2016, and the highest representation of female athletes in Olympic history. In Tokyo, the number of mixed events will double from nine in Rio 2016 to 18. All new events will make use of existing venues.

Today’s decision is a significant step towards achieving the 50 per cent gender balance at the Olympic Games in both athletes and events, as clearly stated by Olympic Agenda 2020.


Sporting events like rowing, canoe, weightlifting, and shooting are now gender-balanced as well as in athletes for the same four events along with two more – judo and sailing. Freestyle wrestling, mountain bike, and BMX racing have also become gender balanced at a discipline level. Mixed events add more spice and excitement to the Olympics while the adding of events like BMX freestyle and skateboarding indicates the desire to tap a more youthful audience, which happens to be the biggest chunk in the global population today.

THE version of 3-on-3 coming to the Tokyo Olympics in three years isn’t exactly the same game seen on so many local playgrounds.

The IOC on Friday added 3-on-3 to the Olympic program for 2020 in an effort to give the games a more youthful and urban appeal. Basketball and Olympic officials hope the half-court game is as successful as beach volleyball — a smaller, faster version of the 5-on-5 sport.

World governing body FIBA had 3-on-3 in the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympic Games and in the 2014 edition of the event in Nanjing, China, the sport now becoming the first Youth Olympic discipline to be included in the Olympic program.


The introduction of the 3-on-3 basketball as an official Olympic sport is also a strong indicator that the committee also wants to give sports enthusiasts what they want to see, their favorite game of basketball. This move only goes to show that basketball is increasingly becoming a popular sport all over the world. However, basketball fans should not get disappointed if the basketball game they see on the Olympics is far from what they see how this game is usually played.

The Olympics committee is doing their best to maintain the importance and popularity of the Olympics considering that fewer cities are willing to host it and that its audience are mostly the older demographics. This is the main reason why new and more youthful sports were added into the line-up – to capture the attention and interest of the younger people if they want to stay relevant in an increasingly changing world.

What’s In Store For The 2020 Olympics See more on: NC Blog


Sunday, 17 September 2017

Your Skin Needs Some Summer Lovin’

The skin is the largest body organ and is the first barrier to microorganisms so we don’t easily fall prey to bacteria, viruses, etc. Aside from that, the skin also serves an aesthetic purpose. After all, it is the first thing people see when they meet you. People can form judgments on you by simply basing it on the way you look. And as the summer season welcomes everyone, we should take extra precaution in caring for our skin because the intense heat of the sun can do it a lot of harm. Aside from the threats of skin cancer, the very idea of having sun spots or skin tags at an early age isn’t a pretty sight at all.

We can’t deny that the summer months nowadays are hotter than they used to be. Climate change has a profound effect even on the seasons that winter is colder and summer is definitely warmer than what we are used to. The thought of spending hours out in the sun may be a refreshing change for the months we’ve been cooped inside the house but it can leave you sweating like crazy and feeling hot from the inside out. Hence, wearing sunscreen is non-negotiable or risk suffering from painful and ugly sunburns that can ruin your physical appearance for a while.

We all want flawless skin, especially during summer. When temperatures rise and the air is dry, fresh skin becomes even more important. There are thousands of beauty products that promise to give you clear and glowing skin. Instead of relying on these products, you can try some simple and easy home remedies to improve your skin’s overall health and appearance. Here’s a a few simple ways to make sure that your skin stays soft and clear:

Lemon is one of the best ingredients that you can use to promote clear skin. The citric acid in lemons helps keep the skin clear by removing dead cells, and its vitamin C content helps reduce dark spots by increasing the cell renewal process. Lemon also has bleaching properties that will help improve your overall skin complexion. (Side note: you can also use lemon to lighten your hair during the summer!)

Apply fresh-squeezed lemon juice to your entire face and neck. Leave it on for 10 minutes and then wash it off with lukewarm water. After this, rub cucumber slices on your skin to soften and moisturize it. Do this daily or every other day.
Another option is squeeze the juice of one-half lemon and mix one to two tablespoons of raw honey in it. Apply it on your face, leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes and then rinse it off.


Aside from having to deal with the scorching heat of the sun, the humidity is a major bummer too. It’s why wearing loose cotton clothing and short-sleeved shirts, shorts and skirts are outfit staples during the warm summer season. It allows you to sweat and cool off and stay sane the entire day. However, it also means you’ll be showing off more skin than before and exposing it to the harmful rays of the sun.

Between the chlorine-spiked pool water, dank camping-tent air, and endless stream of cold brews (of all varieties), summer tends to do a number on your skin. So if you’re over the age of 25 and are still mostly using one bar of soap to clean and moisturize every part of your body, now is probably a good time to, ahem, expand your repertoire. And a vitamin C serum is a very good place to start.

As we’ve mentioned in the past, a serum is something you use after you wash your face but before you moisturize to give your skin some extra help where it needs it most. Think: acne, wrinkles, and dryness. Vitamin C is a common ingredient in all skin-care products because of its awesome ability to reduce discoloration, stimulate collagen production, minimize fine lines and wrinkles, and protect your skin against future sun damage. Whether you’re spending your summer chilling on a boat or mowing the lawn, this multi-tasker ingredient, in this powerful form, is precisely what your face needs right now.


It is easy to forget about your skin and neglect it with the long list of activities you’ve got lined up this summer. You may aspire to sport that glowing and dewy sun-kissed look but you may end up looking sunburnt along the way especially if you don’t take precautions before going out in the sun. You can’t afford to dilly-dally when it comes to skin care. You have to stick with it without fail every single day because your skin isn’t as infallible as you’d like to think it is. Give it the lovin’ it needs and you’d have no problem looking your best all summer long.

The post Your Skin Needs Some Summer Lovin’ is republished from Naked Conversations Blog


Sunday, 10 September 2017

Growing Terrorist Threat In Southeast Asia

We’ve all heard about wars waged by ISIS in the Middle East but it seems that the threat is about to hit Asia hard as these Muslim terrorists have started expanding their caliphate. For almost a month now, the Philippine government is battling the Maute rebels that have pledged allegiance to ISIS in the battleground that is now Marawi in the southern part of the Philippines. It is being led by Isnilon Hapilon, who has a $5-million bounty on the head and included in the US list of most wanted terrorists. Innocent residents of this inland city have been evacuated but some have already fallen along with Philippine soldiers who came to their aid and are in hot pursuit of the local terrorist group.

It’s not ISIS fighters yet who took over the city but it has been a while since they have started recruiting in this part of the world. There were even other neighboring Asians like Malaysians and Indonesians who joined the Maute group during the attack, which is why the entire island of Mindanao has been put under Martial Law. As the Islamists are losing the battle on their turf (especially in Syria), they were reportedly planning to move and create a new terrorist hub in Southeast Asia. It is indeed very alarming news for the many Southeast Asian nations who aren’t equipped to deal with this kind of terrorism.

Southeast Asia's jihadis who fought by the hundreds for the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria now have a different battle closer to home in the southern Philippines. It's a scenario raising significant alarm in Washington.

The recent assault by IS-aligned fighters on the Philippine city of Marawi has left more than 300 people dead, exposing the shortcomings of local security forces and the extremist group's spreading reach in a region where counterterrorism gains are coming undone.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress last week that a long-running U.S. military operation to help Philippine forces contain extremist fighters was canceled prematurely three years ago. Small numbers of U.S. special forces remain in an "advise and assist" role, and the U.S. is providing aerial surveillance to help the Philippines retake Marawi, an inland city of more than 200,000 people.


Many homes and properties have been destroyed as the government continues to strike the terrorists from the air. The Islamic State will not easily give up without a fight and they will try to bring as many as they can down because of their radical and otherworldly views in life especially religion.

Survival has become a daily battle in Marawi, the capital of Mindanao’s Lanao del Sur province and whose mostly Muslim 200,000 population make the city the biggest Islamic community in what is otherwise an overwhelmingly Catholic country. Villarosa, a teacher in Marawi, was handing out wedding invitations when black-clad fighters of what the locals call Grupo ISIS swarmed the streets. She ran, hid, and took shelter in a nearby house with 38 other people. Outside, she heard, her workplace Dansalan College was burning, and Christians were being killed. “We rescued ourselves—no military,” says Villarosa. “We had to run, walk, crawl.” Seven of her colleagues, including the school’s principal, were unaccounted for, but, low on food and water, and with news that the military was set to bomb the area, Villarosa decided to get to the sanctuary of city hall. “It looked like a movie outside, it looked like The Walking Dead,” she says, referring to the post-apocalypse U.S. TV series.

The battle for Marawi began on May 23, when the Philippine military tried to capture Isnilon Hapilon, the head of a southern militia that has pledged loyalty to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. But the army met fiercer than expected resistance. Allied with another pro-ISIS brigade called the Maute Group, Hapilon’s fighters took a priest and his congregation hostage, freed prisoners from the local jail, and overran the city. More than three weeks later, the fighting persists, hundreds have died—militants, soldiers, civilians—and hundreds more residents remain trapped in the city. Many have no electricity or running water. Food stocks are diminishing fast. As residents seek safety, much of Marawi has become a ghost town.


Everybody loses in wars. Only the terrorists feel an evil sense of satisfaction in wreaking havoc to our modern world. It’s the civilians that suffer the most because some may die and many get injured and they often don’t have any more homes to return to aside from finding yourself in a limbo as the war drags on. Barely a year into office, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has worked hard to address the drug problem of the nation but he now faces a different even bigger-scale problem that requires help from other nations like America. The Islamic State isn’t giving up that easily, so the war drags on and the government will do its best to wipe out these terrorists and establish peace and order in the war-torn city of Marawi.

For now, everything is put on hold. No more worries over trade and business when it’s the people’s lives in danger. Businesses, big and small, are non-existent. In its wake, you can hear fighter jets dropping bombs on suspected Maute hiding spots or the continuous sound of gunfire. Everyone fled their homes to spare their lives from the brutal attack of the Maute militants who even dare raised the Islamic State’s flag in the city. Christians are killed. Their Muslim brothers and sisters teach the Christians various Muslim prayers in an attempt to spare them from the Maute’s wrath. While many are hopeful that the government can take control of the situation, many can’t still breathe a sigh of relief until that day comes.

The post Growing Terrorist Threat In Southeast Asia is available on The Naked Conversations Blog


Monday, 4 September 2017

What’s With The Brand

If you look at today’s market, it can get nauseous since probably millions of businesses compete for the public’s purchasing power. Yet regardless of your business, you are nothing without your brand. The market is increasingly becoming competitive, so you need to have an effective brand that people can easily remember and relate to. It is the brand that separates successful and profitable businesses from the ones that don’t make it to the cut. Your brand communicates what the business is about, what you offer, and what sets you apart from the competition.

Your brand mainly talks about your promise to consumers. First and foremost, you need to define your brand before worrying yourself over other aspects of the business. However, you don’t realize it or get the answers in one go. It is more often than not a self-discovery journey, much like a trial and error thing before you can hit the jackpot. To find out the answers you are looking for regarding your brand, you must first be able to define your company mission. Then, list all your products or services and identify its various pros and cons. Know the public’s perception or pre-formed notion about your company. Are you happy with what they think? If not, what do you want to change and how do you intend to do it?

The Harley-Davidson bar and shield is arguably one of the most recognized logos in the world. It’s on everything from shirts and hats to teddy bears and coffee mugs. And oh, by the way, it’s also on the company’s motorcycles.

That’s a brand, and the highest evolution of the species. People not only recognize the logo, but exactly what it stands for: terms like “rebel,” “rugged” and “individual” immediately spring to mind. When a brand reaches that pinnacle, customers connect with it on a much deeper level, and identify with those traits. The brand has become an experience. Don’t make the mistake, however, of assuming that branding of this kind is only for Fortune 500 companies.

Brand consistency is instrumental in the healthy development and progression of any business, including Laundromats. A positive experience with your brand improves customer satisfaction and can help scale positive word-of-mouth that’s absolutely priceless.


Always do your research first to save yourself from committing many mistakes you could have avoided in the first place and conserve your time, effort and money. Know your market and identify your target. The next most sensible thing to do is to get your own brand logo so that people can easily identify you from the crowd. Also, think of the message you want to communicate or appear alongside your logo. These may be petty things for now but you’ll realize later on how crucial they are to your success.

If you could get your hands on it, you probably wouldn't even recognize Influence & Co.'s first logo. Graphics, colors, fonts, logos, and messaging change over time, and that's normal. But after a while, the customers who stay with your business year after year expect a certain look and feel. With 90 percent of buying decisions made subconsciously, that consistency is key to quickly and emotionally connecting with customers as your business grows.

Brands like Coca-Cola and Nike have managed to maintain consistency over decades in business. Even with subtle changes in design over the years, there is a basic look that remains consistent.

But your brand is more than a logo. It's everything that represents your company, from your personal branding and the content you create to your mission, the employees that humanize your brand, and everything in between. As you grow your company, maintaining your brand's consistency can be a challenge. 


Many things will change but one thing should remain the same, your brand should speak about the values you also value in life and should not change even if your business grows to an exponential level. You ought to communicate the same message over and over again regardless of the passage of time if you establish set policies or SOPs that everyone in the company should observe – without exception. From setting up business emails for everyone to generating businesslike logos and templates, it gives outsiders the message that you are a cohesive team and you know and are consistent in what you are doing.

And as the company grows, learn to delegate tasks. Micromanaging will just exhaust you and keep your attention away from more important things that you need to personally oversee. There are much more reasons as to why branding matters a lot and you probably know it by now. Get all these issues taken care of as soon as you possible and you can start reaping the benefits of your hard work sooner rather than later.

The post What’s With The Brand is available on