Happy National New Jersey Day!

New Jersey was the third state to join the Union on July 27.

When Giovanni Da Verrazzano first explored the shores of the Atlantic coast and what includes New Jersey, he discovered diverse communities of people who were later called the Delaware Indians.

New Jersey’s first European settlement was founded in 1660 by the Dutch, but in 1664 the British took control. At this time the land was divided into half and named the New Jersey after the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel.

Leading up the American Revolution, the colony as a whole was equally divided in its loyalties to the crown. There were just as many colonists riding the fence as there were supporting the rebels or supporting the king.

Due to New Jersey’s central location among the thirteen colonies, more battles during the Revolutionary War took place here than any other state.

While the state was the third to enter the union, it was the first to sign the Bill of Rights.

During and after the war, New Jersey industry grew. Innovation and technology take place in New Jersey. Menlo Park fostered the ingenuity of Thomas Edison.

While industry and innovation grew, so did its population. Today it has the highest population density of any state in the United States.

While it may be an industrial powerhouse, its nickname the Garden State is precise. New Jersey supplies the world with cranberries, blueberries, and tomatoes.

Let’s celebrate!

Teachers deserve better pay

Did you know that 60% of teachers cannot survive on their salary!

It’s not that U.S. teachers are underpaid; the median income for the country’s 1 million high-school teachers, for example, is more than 50 percent higher than that of the general population. But relative to peers with similar levels of education, teachers are falling behind. In 1994, public-school teachers made only 2 percent less than college graduates in other fields; by 2015, the gap was 17 percent.

 In more than half of the country, after adjusting for inflation, average teacher salaries have declined since the start of the century. In West Virginia, where pay has dropped by 8.9 percent since 2000, teachers went on strike in late February, forcing lawmakers to pass a 5 percent pay increase for the next school year. Teachers’ unions in Arizona, Oklahoma and Kentucky plan similar walkouts if their demands aren’t met.

Many have had to take 2nd jobs just to survive—this is true of many respectable careers that just cannot provide for a family these days without the help of a 2nd or 3rd income. Teachers shouldn’t have to work second and third jobs to make ends meet, as many say they do, even in states with low costs of living.

Have you considered seeking that additional job? Rather than have to add many more hours to your already stretched day, or change careers, there is an answer to helping supplement your family/personal income by helping others to be healthier from the comfort of your own home. One that I and many others are enjoying every day!  Sometimes it is just a matter of educating the educator!

Success Factors your home-based business needs to succeed and grow

Do you want to create additional income?  You’re probably well aware that there are others like yourself who are seeking the same thing.  There are so many options available, but basically only four different kinds of business models, each having its own set of pros and cons. 
 
Conventional employers offer commissions or wages and small private businesses typically are all based on exchanging your time for ‘transactional’ revenue.  Neither of those allows much of a chance for you to ‘leverage’ or ‘scale’ your business. 
 
Franchise ownership typically requires substantial cash investments and expertise that most people do not have. 
 
That leaves a host of business opportunities that are very popular offering independent status as a ‘representative’ or ‘agent’ under the broad category of ‘marketing’ and requiring some degree of team building and leadership.

There are many questionable and unrealistic opportunities being pitched these days.  One of your first priorities should be to work with a team that has carefully investigated many of the various business models that are out there.  You should have a clear ‘roadmap’ to find and work with a successful business that brings proven value to the marketplace, fits one of your areas of interest and has developed a proven program for on-the-job training so you can earn income while you learn the strategies for succeeding at your business.

You’ll need to learn how to increase the number of people who say yes to becoming a life-long customer and/or decide to work with you as a business partner. That means you also need to find the ingredients necessary to have a sustainable product line that will generate passive income for a life-long business. Then there’s the most important question: What role does value play in a product line with a business attached to it and how do you spot it?

When it’s appropriate to talk with a business person about the search that many people are doing right now to find a reliable business opportunity, they will appreciate having this list of Success Factors. The logical question to ask next, after a thoughtful review of these 12 points, is my question at the end.

1. Company track record.  How long has the company been in business? What are the company’s annual sales statistics each year since they began their business? Does the company print average income statistics for business builders? It should and you should ask for them. Proof of long term sales, success and growth is critical in choosing any business.

2. Financially sound. Does the company have outstanding debt? Joining a company that is debt free is highly recommend to lessen any risk.

3. Strong management team. What are the backgrounds and credentials of the management team? Look to join a company run with integrity and strong leadership.

4. Unique consumable products. Are the company’s products products that people actually need, use, run out of and repurchase month after month? Do the products have any trademarks or patents allowing for exclusive rights (meaning no other company can copy them)? If the products are not consumable, meaning something that a person would only buy once, then that is a business that will not be viable long term. If the products are consumable but not necessarily a genuine need, that will reduce your chance for long term success. Products that are truly needed and consumed monthly make for a solid business model.

5. Wide market appeal. Are the products something everyone needs and uses? If the products are specific for a certain gender, age group or body size for example, you reduce your market potential.  It’s not something for everyone.  If you choose a narrow niche product, you must ask yourself if you are comfortable excluding customers that are not attracted to that niche.

6. Competitive prices. Are the products comparable in price or less expensive than the competition? If they are too expensive, this is not a business that will produce ongoing great results.  What will you do when you find competitors with equally high quality products that are reputably offered for a lot less cost?  You may be loyal out of sheer stubbornness but your customers will run to the competitors.

7. High customer reorder rate. Does the company share its reorder rate? This means one thing. How many customers that purchased from the company last month, reorder again the following month? If the re-order rate is low, the business will not be viable as new customers simply replace your old customers producing no real growth or a secure, residual income. Know that it will be difficult to find this information from most companies directly.  Don’t make a decision until you know this important piece of the business model you are considering joining.

8. Low initial investment. If the cost to join or start your business is too high it makes for more risk and difficulty in attracting customers and business partners.  If a start up fee is high and a ‘customer acquisition bonus’ is also high, beware of what might be a “Ponzi scheme.”  Many so-called ‘ground-floor opportunities’ have attracted many hopeful participants, only to tragically end in the loss of much time and money for the vast majority of eager business partners.

9. Low monthly requirement. If there is a high monthly requirement, customers and business builders may end up storing an inventory of products they do not need. If there is a low monthly product purchase requirement, then customers are getting what they need for personal use each month.  From a business standpoint, you know customers are purchasing each month.  That creates the freedom of true residual income.

10. Rewards for leadership development. Does the company reward you for helping others in your business succeed? If there is any way the company could remove business building partners from your business because of their success, be very careful about joining. There should never be potential for you to lose great partners.  Also, be sure that you receive a reward for the business created by all of the customers that you personally bring to the company.  There are many companies that cleverly take away productive customers and business partners from hard working people just like you.

11. Risk-free – Is everything 100% guaranteed? If not, could you seriously advise someone to join you?  Be sure the guarantee is long enough to adequately test-drive the product. Check to see how the company handles returns and refunds. You will be so much more satisfied with your company when you can confidently tell your prospective customers that you know from personal experience about their excellent customer service and refund policy.

12. Anyone can be successful.Is the business plan set up for anyone to be successful at any time? If it’s a company that says Ground floor opportunity, or Get in Now, be wary. If only the people who join at the beginning can be successful, then eventually people will get hurt.

The only real question after considering this list is this:
“which one of these factors would you take off the list if you were going to seriously consider working with the company?”
If anyone seeing this list knows someone they care about is considering working with a company as an independent representative, they might be wise to consider: “how does that company measure up?”  If we are honest with ourselves, nothing can match the conviction of ‘certainty’ that is backed up by verifiable data and experience.  All the above points are relevant particularly to the one who has a long term commitment in mind.  That’s why we should be just as eager to ‘prove all things’ in this part of life as we should be in any other.

If you are serious about researching further on this topic in preparation for making a decision about where to invest your valuable time, be sure to contact me at barbara@hayseedscreative.com or visit   for more information.

Fake Amazon reviews draw fraud charges in groundbreaking FTC case

A supplement company paid a third-party website to write misleading reviews about a weight-loss drug

The US Federal Trade Commission has successfully brought the first ever case against using fraudulent, paid Amazon reviews to falsely advertise an online product, the agency announced Tuesday evening. The company in question, named Cure Encapsulations, Inc. and owned by Naftula Jacobowitz, paid a third-party website to write five-star Amazon reviews for a weight-loss supplement called garcinia cambogia. The plant, native to Indonesia, is widely mischaracterized as contributing to weight loss, but is in fact known to cause acute liver failure.

Cure Encapsulations paid a website called amazonverifiedreviews.com to keep the product’s Amazon rating above 4.3 out of 5 stars, with reviews stating that the supplement worked as a “powerful appetite suppressant” and “literally blocks fat from forming.” The FTC found those claims to be false and unsubstantiated.

“People rely on reviews when they’re shopping online,” Andrew Smith, the FTC’s director of consumer protection, said in a statement. “When a company buys fake reviews to inflate its Amazon ratings, it hurts both shoppers and companies that play by the rules.” The FTC first filed its complaint on February 19th, and reached a settlement in just under a WEEK.

As part of the settlement, Cure Encapsulations has agreed to never again make a “weight-loss, appetite-suppression, fat-blocking, or disease-treatment claims for any dietary supplement, food, or drug” unless the company has “competent and reliable scientific evidence in the form of human clinical testing” to support its claims. The settlement also prohibits the company from misrepresenting endorsements, including whether a review or testimonial is from a real customer who purchased the product.

Cure Encapsulations must now inform Amazon that it paid for reviews, itself a violation of Amazon’s rules around promotional content, and must also notify all customers who purchased the weight-loss supplement. To keep the company in line, the FTC is imposing a $12.8 million fine, with only $50,000 due today and the remainder used as a way to enforce the judgement and in the event Cure Encapsulations misrepresents how much money it has on hand.

Amazon, in a statement given to The Verge, said its pleased the FTC is taking action. “We welcome the FTC’s work in this area. Amazon invests significant resources to protect the integrity of reviews in our store because we know customers value the insights and experiences shared by fellow shoppers,” a company spokesperson said. “Even one inauthentic review is one too many. We have clear participation guidelines for both reviewers and selling partners and we suspend, ban, and take legal action on those who violate our policies.”

Fake Amazon reviews have been known as a problem for years, but regulators have shown little interest in cracking down on the practice until this recent suit. That’s pushed Amazon to go after the review sellers themselves, including filing individual lawsuits against sellers on freelance job sites like Fiverr. Yet the FTC’s latest action sets a firm precedent that the agency is willing to go after companies that abuse online markets and platforms like this. It’s not clear whether the agency has the resources to curb the behavior behind some of the biggest bad actors on sites like Amazon, but the settlement sends a message that companies like this can’t rely on the trusted veneer of these marketplaces to excuse false advertising.

The FTC has shown a growing interest in abusive practices in the tech industry in recent months, far beyond the low-level scams of fake Amazon reviewers. Earlier today, the FTC announced it would be forming a task force with 17 staff attorneys to monitor and take action against anti-competitive behavior in US technology markets. The task force appears focused on the increasingly centralized power of a few Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook.


Luck of the Irish…or is it?

I know a number of people who seem to have more than their fair share of good luck. Winning laptops, cars and innumerable trips, auction gift baskets, 50/50s, you name it, they seem to be lucky more than others.

Are they born under a lucky star and the rest of us simply not?
Do the gods smile on only a few favorites?
No. According to science, we make our own luck.

The matter was studied by psychologist Richard Wiseman, professor in the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. In his book The Luck Factor: Changing Your Luck, Changing Your Life Wiseman explains what makes some people lucky and others not. Just so you know, it’s not the good fairy, or providence.

We have the power to bring good luck into our own lives
After years of intensive interviews, experiments and a scientific investigation with more than 400 volunteers, Wiseman concluded that we make our own luck. He also discovered the underlying principles of luck and how we can apply it to our lives so we can all experience more good fortune in our lives.

He placed advertisements to find people who consider themselves exceptionally lucky or unlucky. He then analyzed their minds and their lives through interviews, their diaries, questionnaires, intelligence tests and laboratory experiments to find out what distinguishes the lucky from the unfortunate. His findings revealed that luck is not a magical ability or the result of random chance. Nor are people born lucky or unlucky.

“Instead, although lucky and unlucky people have almost no insight into the real causes of their good and bad luck, their thoughts and behavior are responsible for much of their fortune,” says Wiseman.

His research revealed that lucky people generate their own good fortune via four basic principles:

  1. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities.
  2. They make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition.
  3. They create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations.
  4. They adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.

His groundbreaking work puts good fortune in our hands if we are prepared to pay attention to these four principles.

Lucky people expose themselves to chance opportunities
They are not afraid to meet new people. Because they meet new people they expose themselves to more opportunities. Lucky people tend to be extroverted and enjoy connecting and relating to other people. In social situations they don’t stick to the people they know. They are keen to speak to anyone.

Wiseman relates the case of one volunteer who decided he must change his habit of always speaking to the same people at social events. So he chose a color before the event and made up his mind that he would only speak to people wearing that color!

Lucky people see opportunities that others might miss

Wiseman conducted a fun and simple experiment to uncover this quality in lucky people. He asked volunteers to flip through a newspaper to find out how many photographs it contained. That was that, just a simple, boring counting exercise that ostensibly had nothing to do with luck.The group of unlucky people took about two minutes to count all the photographs; the lucky people took just two seconds.

Why was that?

“Because the second page of the newspaper contained the message: “Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” This message took up half of the page and was written in type that was over two inches high. It was staring everyone straight in the face, but the unlucky people tended to miss it and the lucky people tended to spot it,” says Wiseman.

It gets more unbelievable. Just for fun, a second large message was placed halfway through the newspaper. This one announced: “Stop counting, tell the experimenter you have seen this and win $250.” Again, the unlucky people missed the opportunity because they were still too busy looking for photographs.

Lucky people practice “counterfactual thinking”

Counterfactual thinking is thinking that goes against the facts. Psychologists use it to refer to our ability to imagine what might have happened, rather than what actually did happen, as “counterfactual.” In many a case, when it concerns lucky people, it means that in the face of something bad happening, lucky people interpret the event as lucky.

In one of Wiseman’s experiments, he presented volunteers with some unlucky scenarios and looked at how they reacted.
One such scenario was to imagine being shot in a bank robbery.

How would lucky or unlucky people interpret such an event?

“Unlucky people tended to say that this would be enormously unlucky and it would be just their bad luck to be in the bank during the robbery. In contrast, lucky people viewed the scenario as being far luckier, and often spontaneously commented on how the situation could have been far worse. As one lucky participant commented, “It’s lucky because you could have been shot in the head – also, you could sell your story to the newspapers and make some money.”

It all goes back to attitude and your perception. It’s all based on what you perceive and believe.

So how lucky are you?

5 Critical Roles In Your Business

As you begin to establish your new business, there are critical roles that must be fulfilled in order to assure or at least give you a bigger chance of success. If you have the luxury of a large, quality pool of team members from which to choose, you may have these resources on your existing team.

Most new businesses do not have the advantage of having existing team members that can accomplish these tasks, so the alternative is that you must fill these roles yourself with an eye to recruit with these necessary roles in mind. The attached Forbes article tells us that these roles must be filled and identifies what they are and why they are indispensable.

You are the de-facto leader as a founder of your business. As its primary coach, you must lead in a way that creates love and respect for the way that you lead. Your first task is to find an expert who knows the industry, the market, and the products and is able to communicate those to the rest of the team.

The financial guru who keeps track of the income matrices and expenses that the team deems worthy of taking on. This person may be domestic to the team or be an external resource. Most entrepreneurs are busy with the everyday tasks of being leaders, so there is a need for a strategist who is skilled at navigating the future and guiding the enterprise into a profitable and fulfilling enterprise.

Finally, there is a need for the executer that takes ownership of the company’s plans and monitors their progress in the day-to-day operation. The executer understands, fully, the company’s expectations and how they are performing from one day, one week, one month and one year to the next. The executer knows what needs to be done, when and how.

As we have said, earlier, sometimes in start-up and new business endeavors these roles must be filled by the founder with an eye to the future as you recruit for your team. A lot of work in the beginning and the use of some outside resources that are available to you can fill those roles in the short or even the long-term and can lead to great things in your business.

Forbes Article

Maintaining Your Personal Energy

No matter who you are or what you do; your energy levels (and motivation) will hit flat spots. This article from Whole Life Challenge will give you some insight and tips on dealing with these energy flat spots and reenergize yourself when they “rear” their ugly heads.

The energy we refer to is not just physical. It is a combination of physical, mental, emotional and professional phenomena. Physically the signs can be fairly obvious; fatigue, headaches, slowing of reflexes and even blurred vision. Mentally and emotionally, it can produce moodiness, irritability, and lack of focus and concentration.

All in all, these symptoms can dramatically affect your personal and professional lives. It can even make you more susceptible to illness and disease. It is easy to see why guarding against these energy “valleys” is to your advantage. But, how do you do it?

Physically: Eat well, move well, and sleep well. Manage your ultradyne rhythms (our energy cycle repeats every 90-120 minutes). Take regular breaks; a 5-minute walk, stretching, and deep breathing can all help. Avoid distractions; believe it or not, multitasking is a myth. It is not efficient or productive.

Emotionally: Emotional and mental levels can be restored, by feeding your mind. Stop negative self-talk. Be conscious and aware of the things that drain you. Make a list of the things that uplift you and do them often. There are people who drain your energy, avoid them and connect with the ones that make you feel happy. Finally, set some time aside to decompress.

Professionally: Manage the physical mental, and emotional challenges you face daily and it will manifest solutions to your professional energy problems. My company has a coaching construct, which allows me to turn to others whom I respect for advice and support. But remember, these flat spots are, for the most part, temporary so do not let them defeat you. Victory is around the corner. 

www.wholelifechallenge.com/your-personal-energy-plan-how-to-protect-manage-and-boost-it/