Thursday, July 30, 2015



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Author discusses communication challenges, proposes solutions

Posted by Elena del Valle on July 24, 2015

Message Not Received

Message Not Received


Photos: book cover Wiley/Luke Fletcher, author Sean Sunkel

We often blame misunderstanding across cultures and languages on communication. Even among speakers of the same language sometimes there are formidable barriers. Cultural differences, abbreviated messages in limited length media such as emails and social media can lead to truncated or unclear messages. Such communications issues and at times failures represent business costs. The McKinsey Global Institute report estimate for the cost of bad communication is nearly $1 trillion (referenced in Chapter 4 of Message Not Received).

Phil Simon, who specializes in technology and has authored several books, is convinced communication within businesses is not working properly. In Message Not Received Why Business Communication Is Broken and How to Fix It (Wiley, $35), a 236-page hardcover book published this year, he explains his concerns and offers solutions.

In Chapter 4, he says that although he considers emails indispensable there are issues related to that type of message that users are often unaware of, such as its lack of nuances and emotional depth. Because of that they are sometimes not the most appropriate method for complex discussions. He points out that emails may also be the cause of legal concerns, foster internal competition, be too copious to process and manage, and have poor search functions.

“I knew that e-mail fails us on several levels, but I was unaware of the extent of the problem,” Simon said by email. “As I discuss in the book, e-mail gives the false appearance of one-to-one, in-person communication. For instance, consider a 2006 series of studies by two psychologists, Justin Kruger, PhD of New York University and Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago. In short, Kruger and Epley wanted to determine if people were as good as they thought they were at discerning the subtext of a message. Participants were only able to accurately communicate sarcasm and humor in barely half—56 percent—of the e-mails they sent. And if that isn’t bad enough, most people had no idea that they weren’t making themselves understood.”

Phil Simon, author, Message Not Received

Phil Simon, author, Message Not Received

When asked why he wrote the book he replied, “I truly believe that we’ve reached a tipping point, and my research confirmed as much. Employees have never been more overwhelmed, the subject of Chapter 2. They’re being asked to integrate more content, more messages. They’re checking e-mail on weekends, holidays, and vacation (when they take it). They’re constantly on call, barely able to keep their heads above water.

Fortunately, there’s a two-fold solution, and I didn’t see any book out there that attacked this problem from this particular angle. First, we can embrace simpler language. There’s no reason to use terms “value-add use cases” and other linguistic atrocities. Beyond that, everything need not be communicated via e-mail. New, truly collaborative tools like HipChat, Smartsheet, and scores of others make it easier than ever to communicate effectively. And let’s not forget the ability go old school. Sometimes, an in-person meeting or phone conversation is the best way to proceed. Far too many of us seem to have forgotten that.”

The book is divided into eight chapters within four main parts: Worlds Are Colliding; Didn't You Get That Memo? Why We Don't Communicate Good at Work; Message Received; and What Now?

“Many business folks routinely forget their audiences. They forget —or have never heard of—the curse of knowledge. We’ve all seen IT people who seem to speak a different language when dealing with non-technical employees. What happens?” he asked. “Employees roll their eyes, tune out, or simply don’t understand what’s taking place. On the web, there’s no shortage of mind-numbing, vacuous marketing copy. Marketers and salespeople often speak in buzzwords and then wonder why their prospective clients don’t pull the trigger. Rare is the person who communicates perfectly, myself included. We all would benefit from using simpler language and minimizing our e-mails.”

Simon advises organizations about communication strategy, data and technology. He is also author of The Age of the Platform.


Message Not Received

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Book lists volunteer work vacation opportunities

Posted by Elena del Valle on July 17, 2015

Volunteer Vacations

Volunteer Vacations

Photo: Independent Publishers Group

Are you tired of going on vacation to the same place every year? Do you yearn to do more than just lounge on the beach every day during your getaway? If so a different kind of break might appeal to you. Every year people dedicate their free time to worthy causes and many of them pay for the privilege. Some are families traveling together, others are seniors with time to spare, and many are people with few or many skills seeking a way to make a difference on their time off from work.

In Volunteer Vacations: Short-Term Adventures That Benefit You and Others, 11th Edition (Chicago Review Press, $18.95) Doug Cutchins, Bill McMillon, and Anne Geissinger share an extensive list of 150 organizations offering such volunteerism opportunities. The 431-page softcover book published in 2012 includes a foreword by Ed Asner.

The book provides some basic information about voluntourism, the work and vacation combination. Each listing profiles the organization, its mission, projects, year founded, number of volunteers in the previous year, work they do, locations, costs, duration, and type of skills they seek. There are also short descriptions from past volunteers about their personal experiences on a project.

The charitable organizations in the United States and abroad are diverse and host travelers for a variety of projects and lengths. Vacationers can participate in projects such as searching for sea turtle nests in Greece or Taiwan, for example, or teaching English in a remote village.

When the book was published McMillon was a freelance writer for Odyssey magazine. Cutchins was director of service and social commitment at Grinnell College, and Geissinger was a part-time photographer.


Volunteer Vacations

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Podcast with Susan Deehan, chairwoman, Tim Deehan, president, Actionable Intelligence Technologies, about how white collar crime goes largely unsolved

Posted by Elena del Valle on July 6, 2015

Susan Deehan

Susan Deehan, chairwoman, Actionable Intelligence Technologies

Timothy Deehan

Tim Deehan, president, Actionable Intelligence Technologies

Photos: Actionable Intelligence Technologies

A podcast interview with Susan Deehan, chairwoman, and Tim Deehan, president, Actionable Intelligence Technologies, is available in the Podcast Section of Hispanic Marketing & Public Relations, HispanicMPR.com. During the podcast, they discuss how white collar crime goes largely unsolved with Elena del Valle, host of the HispanicMPR.com podcast.

Susan and Tim are cofounders of Actionable Intelligence Technologies. She has developed an award-winning proprietary software that helps law enforcement agencies and forensic accounting firms around the globe find and prosecute large, complex financial fraud schemes, and recover money back to the victims. Tim works in product development, operations and sales at the company.

To listen to the interview, scroll down until you see “Podcast” on the right side, then select “HMPR Susan Deehan and Tim Deehan” and click on the play button below or download the MP3 file to your iPod or MP3 player to listen on the go, in your car or at home. To download it, click on the arrow of the recording you wish to copy and save it to disk. The podcast will remain listed in the July 2015 section of the podcast archive.

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Hedge consultancy executive discusses Cayman Islands options

Posted by Elena del Valle on June 26, 2015

The Cayman Edge

The Cayman Edge

Photos: cover Alex Nereuta, author Hans van der Post

Investors looking for opportunities that don't follow the mainstream market trends sometimes choose independently managed private funds. That is one reason to buy into an offshore fund. Diversity is another, according to Gordon Casey, managing director of hedge fund consultancy Front Shore.

“While everybody is hoping for returns that are higher than the market, the truth is that there is great value in having an investment that is completely independent from the regular investment options,” Casey said by email when asked about the advantages of Cayman Islands investments.

“Diversity is a goal in and of itself and that’s the main reason. Having said that, fund structures in the Cayman Islands are used for many other purposes – including the structuring of private funds only intended for a very small group of people who want to invest together, family funds where all of the assets owned by a family are put into the fund structure and the family heirs, as such, are given shares in the fund. And lastly, for people who live in geographic areas with strict exchange controls but have made substantial gains internationally and do not want to repatriate their funds yet, a fund offers an efficient way to invest those gains outside of their core business – whether for private, corporate or family planning purposes."

Gordon Casey, author, The Cayman Edge

Gordon Casey, author, The Cayman Edge

In The Cayman Edge How to Set Up a Cayman Edge Fund (OneWord Publishing, $19.99), a 169-page softcover book published in 2014 he discusses the subject in detail. He wrote the book for fund managers wishing to setup a fund in the Cayman Islands, although he also hopes it serves as a useful tool for students of finance seeking information about the hedge fund industry in general, and new entrants to the industry who want to get a head start. The book is illustrated in color and divided into 18 chapters, two introductions and eight appendices.

“When I entered the industry in 2001 there was very little in the way of guides or literature on funds, and these days you can find everything online but it’s scattered across the websites of industry organisations, law firms, administrators and general interest articles,” Casey said. “The book is an attempt to consolidate all of the information (with pictures!) into one place – the book that I wish I had been given when I first started and a book that I can continue to use as a reference tool myself.”

While many of the more successful funds require a minimum of one million dollars to start, the most common funds require a minimum investment of $100,000, he explained by email. In the book, he describes six types of funds and seven service providers. Casey has been running Front Shore since 2004.


The Cayman Edge

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Survey indicates low media trust of public relations workers

Posted by Elena del Valle on June 17, 2015

 

How often PR workers misled media survey

Survey: How often PR workers mislead media - click to enlarge

A recent report from a digital media and blogger placement company indicates that the relationship between public relations workers and media is poor. According to The Media Influencers Report of digital journalists, 90 percent of digital journalist respondents said they have been misled by public relations workers. Almost a quarter of them said such behavior happens often.

On average three out of four respondents said they use third party video. The highest percent among media channels, perhaps not surprisingly, was television where 93 percent of respondents said they use video provided by a third party. At the same time, when it came to video provided by public relations practitioners respondents indicated proper disclosure of content was a concern.

Twitter and Facebook top the list of social networks journalist respondents said they rely on for story ideas. Other sites that follow, they said, are LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.

The Media Influencers Report, the result of an online survey via Survey Monkey of 300 reporters and producers at TV, radio, newspaper, magazine, web media and bloggers, was recently released by D S Simon.

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Retired executive shares his secrets to success

Posted by Elena del Valle on June 12, 2015

Behind the Mask

Behind the Mask

Photos: Xlibris Publishing

Before retiring Donald F. Hastings led international conglomerate The Lincoln Electric Company out of a severe financial crisis into record sales and profits. He is convinced his success is due to unexpected strategies of sharing the risk, respect and wealth with all employees.

In Behind the Mask: Embrace Risk and Dare to Be Better (Xlibris Publishing, ) a 207-page softcover memoir penned by his daughter Leslie Anne Hastings, he discusses his career path, shares his opinions about good management strategies, and challenges the modern views of corporate America. They wrote the book for "anyone who is struggling with a person or situation in his/her life that seems insurmountable. There is always a solution."

“I may be David goading Goliath, but I believe layoffs, in general, are a sign of catastrophic failure on the part of management,” Hastings said in a press release. “To please Wall Street, we are dehumanizing business to a point that is unconscionable. It’s lazy and it’s bad business. I believe human beings are the single greatest resource a company has,” Hastings said. “Of course there’s a risk in taking care of your people, but being creative and taking risks is what inspired management is all about!”

When asked what the biggest surprise from the publication of the book was Leslie Anne said by email, "That the book was so well received on so many levels. Most people read the book in one sitting! Everyone who reads it takes away something different- from ideas and philosophy to courage and humor. It's a really fun read!"

Before retiring Donald F. Hastings led international conglomerate The Lincoln Electric Company out of a severe financial crisis into record sales and profits. He is convinced his success is due to unexpected strategies of sharing the risk, respect and wealth with all employees.

Donald and Leslie Anne Hastings, authors, Behind the Mask

Donald and Leslie Anne Hastings, authors, Behind the Mask

According to his biography, Hastings, chairman emeritus, The Lincoln Electric Company, was dubbed the Silver-Tongued Mesmerist by his customers. Leslie Anne Hastings, a graduate of Stanford University, was the voice Behind the Mask.


Behind the Mask

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US, Austria study finds news media may influence racial bias

Posted by Elena del Valle on June 4, 2015

Temple Northup, University of Houston

Temple Northup, Ph.D., assistant professor, University of Houston

Photo: University of Houston

Two academics who studied the effects of media in the United States and Austria believe longterm exposure to news may influence racial bias. The results of their three studies were recently  published in a 20-page article titled Effects of Long-Term Exposure to News Stereotypes on Implicit and Explicit Attitudes in the International Journal of Communication.

Temple Northup, assistant professor at the University of Houston's Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, conducted the United States portion of the study while Florian Arendt at the University of Munich in Germany conducted the research in Austria. The study in the United States focused on possible bias toward African-Americans while the two studies in Austria addressed possible bias against foreigners. The researchers believe the influence of television news was likely greater than print news among study participants.

“The two countries were selected due to access of available data for a comparable news stereotype that exists in both countries,” said Northup in a press release. “In the U.S., a large body of research indicates crime is overrepresented on local television news relative to the actual amount of crime that actually occurs in a community. Previous content analyses conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of California, Santa Barbara have shown that that African-Americans are overrepresented as criminals on local television news when compared to their actual crime rates. In Austria, research has suggested foreigners are overrepresented as criminals in tabloid-style daily newspapers.”

In the first study in the United States 316 participants completed the Implicit Association Test (IAT), a controversial tool used in psychology to measure hidden bias people may have but are unwilling or unable to report. After completing the IAT, participants answered a question about their explicit (conscious) attitudes towards African-Americans, as well as how many hours of local television news they watch per day.

“The two countries were selected due to access of available data for a comparable news stereotype that exists in both countries,” said Northup. “In the U.S., a large body of research indicates crime is overrepresented on local television news relative to the actual amount of crime that actually occurs in a community. Previous content analyses conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of California, Santa Barbara have shown that that African-Americans are overrepresented as criminals on local television news when compared to their actual crime rates. In Austria, research has suggested foreigners are overrepresented as criminals in tabloid-style daily newspapers.”

There were 489 participants in the first Austria study for which researchers used the same data procedure. Respondents reported how many days per week they read the specific newspaper under investigation. The researchers concluded that exposure to the tabloid-style daily newspaper did not increase the negativity of implicit attitudes. There were 470 participants in the second Austria study. The academics concluded that reading content specifically about crime had a significant effect on implicit attitudes toward foreigners among respondents who said they often read crime articles.

While stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination are found across the world the impact of media on consumers remains to be clearly defined. The researchers concluded more studies are necessary to better understand the issues “before an earnest attempt to reduce these negative outcomes can be undertaken.”

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California orchardist discusses his gold strategies

Posted by Elena del Valle on May 29, 2015

Going for Gold

Going for the Gold

Photos: News & Experts

The more debt our country accumulates the more money it needs to pay the bills. The economy has been poor and the government's solution increasingly has been to print new money with no collateral to back it up, leading many to believe the situation will worsen in the coming years. The deterioration will force our government to offer less to its citizens and charge them more in the form of taxes to pay the accumulated and growing debt, says William A. Storum, J.D., author, Going for the Gold Preserving Wealth, Lowering Taxes (Book Publishers Network, $21.95).

As that happens our currency will loose its worth to inflation; so will other so called hard currencies that have traditionally been considered safe havens, the author says in the book. He believes one way to protect our assets from the devastating losses such shifts would bring is to invest in gold. Given the limited supply of the precious metal many rely on it for the possible proverbial rainy day when the economy collapses and paper money becomes worthless.

William Storum, author, Going for Gold

William Storum, author, Going for the Gold

Storum points to many examples of economies falling on difficult times and countries with worthless currencies. He illustrates a period in our history in the last century when our government made owning gold by private citizens illegal, forcing people to sell their gold to the government and earning a profit on the difference a year later. He suggests strategies to accumulate gold bullion and invest in gold stocks and instruments in tax smart ways in order to safeguard our savings in case financial disaster strikes.

The 307-page softcover book was published in 2014. The author is an orchardist in California. He has inactive California Bar Association and California Board of Accountancy inactive licenses. There was no contact information on his book website.


Going for Gold

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Listen to podcast with Alejandro Monteverde, director, Little Boy, about his film

Posted by Elena del Valle on May 18, 2015

Alejandro Monteverde, director, Little Boy

Alejandro Monteverde, director, Little Boy

Photo: Metanoia Films

A podcast interview with Alejandro Monteverde, director, Little Boy, is available in the Podcast Section of Hispanic Marketing & Public Relations, HispanicMPR.com. During the podcast, he discusses his film Little Boy (see With video New film about believing in the impossible) with Elena del Valle, host of the HispanicMPR.com podcast.

Alejandro is a Mexican writer whose first feature, Bella, won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, and brought him the American by Choice Award for its positive contribution to Latino art and culture in the United States. His second feature, Little Boy, was picked up for general release by Open Road and had its debut in theaters nationwide April 2015.

Little Boy, produced by his company, Metanoia Films, tells the story of a boy willing to believe the impossible in order to bring his father back from World War II. Alejandro is developing his next film, The Hidden Ones. It is a dark international thriller about a brilliant killer murders the twelve holiest monks on earth and the young FBI agent who dives dangerously deep into the killer's demonic world. He and his wife Ali Landry, an actress and former Miss USA, live in Los Angeles with their three children.

To listen to the interview, scroll down until you see “Podcast” on the right side, then select “HMPR Alejandro Monteverde” and click on the play button below or download the MP3 file to your iPod or MP3 player to listen on the go, in your car or at home. To download it, click on the arrow of the recording you wish to copy and save it to disk. The podcast will remain listed in the May 2015 section of the podcast archive.