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Why You Need More Vitamin D In The Winter

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Winter is upon us and so is the risk of vitamin D deficiency and infections. Vitamin D, which is made in our skin following sunlight exposure and also found in oily fish (mackerel, tuna and sardines), mushrooms and fortified dairy and nondairy substitutes, is essential for good health. Humans need vitamin D to keep healthy and to fight infections. The irony is that in winter, when people need vitamin D the most, most of us are not getting enough. So how much should we take? Should we take supplements? How do we get more? And, who needs it most?

I am a medical microbiologist and immunologist who studies the functions of vitamin D in immune cells. My laboratory has been interested in figuring out why the immune system has vitamin D receptors that determine which cells can use vitamin D. In the immune system, vitamin D acts to improve your ability to fight infections and to reduce inflammation.

Where to get your vitamin D

Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin since it is made in the skin after exposure to sun. The same UVB rays that cause a sunburn also make vitamin D. Sunscreen, darker skin pigmentation, clothing and reduced daylight in winter diminish the skin’s ability to make vitamin D. The people who experience the biggest seasonal swings in vitamin D levels are fair-skinned individuals living in the northern regions of the U.S. and at higher latitudes around the globe where there is very little daylight in winter.

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But those most at risk for low vitamin D levels are people of color and people living at higher latitudes. Dark-skinned individuals are more likely than fair-skinned individuals to be low for vitamin D year-round because the darker skin blocks the UVB rays from producing vitamin D. However, even in dark skinned individuals, vitamin D is lowest in the winter.

In the winter, in addition to high vitamin D food, adults should take additional vitamin D from foods and/or supplements to get at least 600 IU per day of vitamin D. People who have dark skin or avoid sunshine should eat more vitamin D year-round.

Food rich in vitamin D. photka/Shutterstock.com

Vitamin D is important for bones and your microbes

Originally, doctors thought that vitamin D was only important for bone health. This was because the vitamin D deficiency caused bone diseases like rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults.. However, in the 1980s scientists discovered that immune cells had receptors for vitamin D.

My group’s research has shown that vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining health in the gastrointestinal tract. Higher levels of vitamin D reduce susceptibility to inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s disease, gut and lung infections in animals and people.

My colleagues and I have discovered that one of the ways vitamin D functions is by keeping the microbes in the gut healthy and happy. Vitamin D increases the number and diversity of microbes living in the gut, which together reduce inflammation throughout the body.

Low vitamin D levels are associated with inflammatory bowel disease in humans. Researchers have found that inflammatory bowel disease patients in Japan have more symptoms in winter than during other seasons.

Why is vitamin D more important in winter?

In the winter, humans are exposed to more infections and spend less time outside. Exactly how much vitamin D healthy adults should have is debated. Some authorities recommend from 200 IU per day to 2,000 IU per day. In the U.S., the Institutes of Medicine recommends 600-800 IU per day for adults, while the Endocrine Society states that optimal vitamin D status may require 1500-2,000 IU per day. In the winter, people have a reduced ability to make vitamin D when they go outside, so amounts of at least 600 IU per day of vitamin D from food or supplements would help maintain vitamin D status at summer levels.

But, just like many things, too much vitamin D can be harmful. Vitamin D toxicity does not result from too much sun or food. Because of the risk of skin cancer, dermatologists and other health professionals do not recommend unprotected sun exposure to boost your vitamin D. Instead they suggest supplements. But vitamin D toxicity can occur if an individual takes too many.

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The experts that set the national intakes of vitamin D for the U.S. recommend that adult individuals take no more than 4,000 IU per day of vitamin D to avoid toxic side effects. Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium from your diet, but when vitamin D is too high, calcium levels in the blood go up and that can lead to kidney disease.

By consuming more vitamin D during the winter your gut microbes will be healthier and you’ll be more resistant to infection and inflammation year-round.

Distinguished Professor of Molecular Immunology, Pennsylvania State University

 

Source: Why you need more Vitamin D in the winter

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Louis Vuitton Buys Second-Biggest Rough Diamond Ever, Eyes Top-Five Jewelry Position

FRANCE ORANGE

In a surprise move that points to an increased focus on the jewelry business, the luxury fashion giant has bought the Sewelo diamond. Could Louis Vuitton be about to trade fine leather for fine jewelry and cash in on its prime position on Place Vendôme?

Towards a leadership position in fine jewelry

Just two months ago, Louis Vuitton parent company LVMH announced the acquisition of Tiffany for a record-breaking $16.2 billion, providing a significant boost to its watches & jewelry business, currently the smallest division in the group’s portfolio. Now, Louis Vuitton itself has paid an undisclosed sum for the largest stone mined since the Cullinan diamond in 1905.

It follows a declaration of intent in 2018, when the house hired former Tiffany Design Director Francesca Amphitheatrof who has sent the Vuitton jewelry offering in a much bolder direction. Although the house is a relative newcomer to the fine jewelry business, producing its first fine pieces 19 years ago, as Louis Vuitton CEO Michael Burke told the Financial Times, the recent moves are all part of the company’s jewelry business strategy to become “one of the top five players” in the notoriously competitive $270 billion jewelry market.

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A $19 million stone?

For Tobias Kormind, managing director of 77diamonds.com, the choice of stone with which to make a move towards leadership is surprising: “although this diamond is remarkable for its record size, Louis Vuitton have chosen a stone of relatively low quality, suggested by the black color of its current rough form. It will be interesting to see whether they break it into many smaller stones or try to create a few larger ones. I estimate the value of the stone to be between $6.5 million and $19.5 million, but it is unlikely to yield top-quality diamonds.”

The Sewelo diamond was found in the Karowe mine in Botswana in April, by Canadian mining company Lucara Diamond Corporation using state-of-the-art X-ray technology. Weighing in at an incredible 1,758 carats, it is the second-largest stone ever found, next to the Cullinan at 3,106 carats, mined in South Africa in 1905.

It has now sold in nine months, in contrast to another find by Lucara, the 302 carat Lesedi La Rona, which they tried to auction at Sotheby’s. “Lucara is trying to break diamonds out of their traditional route to market,” says Kormind, “the Lesedi La Rona failed to sell at auction as the diamond cutters stayed away and non-experts were not prepared to bid.” It was eventually sold privately to Graff Diamonds for $53 million in 2017, two years after being mined.

The diamond is classed as “near gem” and of variable quality, pointing to inclusions that could dictate how it is cut. Lucara have signed a partnership with Louis Vuitton and Antwerp-based HB Company to support the cutting and polishing of the stone later this year, after a three-month study to determine optimal cuts. In return, they will have a 50% interest on the resulting diamonds and 5% of retail proceeds to be reinvested into community initiatives in Botswana.

Cutting a baseball-sized diamond

While the Cullinan was cut by Joseph Asscher into nine major stones, some of which ended up in the British Crown Jewels, and the Lesedi La Rona produced 67 separate stones, speculation abounds on how the Sewelo will be cut and used, which according to Burke will not happen until it has a buyer. Ilan Kaplan, CEO of iSparkle, a Johannesburg-based high-end diamond house believes that “a diamond of this size will yield tens of polished diamonds of different sizes,” although “it is impossible to say for certain.”

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The cutting process itself is complex: “It will be planned with state-of-the-art diamond-scanning technology to produce a 3D image on which to simulate cutting options. The final cutting decision will be made depending on maximum profitability and saleability of the resultant polished pieces,” says Kaplan. A highly experienced master diamond cutter will follow the plan closely with a laser saw and each individual stone will be polished. “With a diamond of this size and complexity, this process could take well over a year,” he finishes.

Right now, the stone is a long way from that. At present, it is coated in carbon and what lies beneath is a mystery which makes cutting it all the more difficult. The purchase is a move that is not without risk for Louis Vuitton, but it represents the kind of eye-catching big bet that had made LVMH the world’s premiere luxury group, and Louis Vuitton its most valuable luxury brand.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

As a Paris-based writer and editorial consultant for the luxury industry, I have spent my career strategizing and creating content and communications for organizations ranging from start-ups to multinational corporations. Ex-Condé Nast, where I launched and edited the international edition of Vogue.fr, I now help luxury brands better define their positioning through editorial and social, and write about lifestyle and culture for editorial titles. I have a particular interest in independent jewelry design, and write about the new jewelry scene in the face of changing notions of luxury.

Source: Louis Vuitton Buys Second-Biggest Rough Diamond Ever, Eyes Top-Five Jewelry Position

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‘Rich’ Or ‘Poor’ Clothing Affects Split-Second Decisions About Competence

Humans are famously judgey—it’s one of our more unfortunate traits. It wouldn’t be so harmful if judgments, especially first impressions, weren’t formed so quickly (i.e., in less than a second), so prone to error, and so hard to break. To this end, a new study from Princeton University finds that first impressions of a person’s competence can be strongly affected by the clothes he or she is wearing, and can be made in a tiny fraction of a second. And, the study found, even when people were paid to ignore clothes as a relevant factor, they couldn’t.

The study was published earlier this month in the journal Nature Human Behavior.

The researchers carried out a number of experiments to look at the effect of clothes on perceived competence. They showed participants pictures of people from the shoulders up, wearing either “rich” or “poor” clothing, though none of the clothing items the respective groups were really extreme examples of either (ratings of the different types of clothing were also validated by testing them out on another group of participants beforehand).

People wearing rich clothing (e.g., suits and ties) were judged, again and again, as being more competent than people wearing poor clothing. Even when rich clothing was informal (see photo), it still triggered higher ratings of competence than informal poor clothing.

And even when participants were expressly told to ignore clothing, or paid to ignore it, they still made the same competence judgments. The same was true when participants were given information about the professions and incomes of the people in the pictures, to try to counteract the bias. Finally, it occurred when the participants were given varying amounts of time to make a judgment, from 0.129 seconds to one second.

The study obviously has lots of real-world application, namely that already-disadvantaged people might face more disadvantage if they cannot afford “rich” clothing. “Poverty is a place rife with challenges,” said study co-author Eldar Shafir in a statement. “Instead of respect for the struggle, people living in poverty face a persistent disregard and disrespect by the rest of society.

We found that such disrespect — clearly unfounded, since in these studies the identical face was seen as less competent when it appeared with poorer clothing — can have its beginnings in the first tenth of a second of an encounter.”

The authors urge that effective strategies to counteract bias be researched further. In the meantime, some practices already in place may help: making certain decisions about job applicants or students based on resumes or other “on paper” criteria may reduce at least some of the bias.

“Just like teachers sometimes grade blindly so as to avoid favoring some students,” said Shafir, “interviewers and employers may want to take what measures they can, when they can, to evaluate people, say, on paper so as to circumvent indefensible yet hard to avoid competency judgments. Academic departments, for example, have long known that hiring without interviews can yield better scholars. It’s also an excellent argument for school uniforms.”

But there’s still a lot at stake. Humans likely evolved to make very quick decisions based on physical attributes, and we’re still trying to overcome that “ability,” as it can be wholly inaccurate and a contributing factor to persisting inequality.

“Wealth inequality has worsened since the late 1980s in the United States,” said lead author DongWon Oh, a PhD student at the time of the study. “Now the gap between the top 1% and the middle class is over 1,000,000%, a mind-numbing figure. Other labs’ work has shown people are sensitive to how rich or poor other individuals appear. Our work found that people are susceptible to these cues when judging others on meaningful traits, like competence, and that these cues are hard, if not impossible, to ignore.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

I fell into writing about health shortly after grad school, where I realized I didn’t want to work in a lab for the rest of my life! My main areas of interest are the brain and behavior, as well as what influences the decisions we make about our health, and how we can change it over time. As an undergraduate, I studied English Literature and Biopsychology at Vassar College, and got my PhD in Biopsychology and Behavioral Neuroscience at CUNY’s Graduate Center in New York City, where I grew up and live now. My work appears in other publications, including the magazine of the University of Chicago’s Business School, YogaGlo.com, TheAtlantic.com, and the American Psychological Association. Please email me at alicegwalton [at] gmail [dot] com or visit my website www.alicegwalton.com

Source: ‘Rich’ Or ‘Poor’ Clothing Affects Split-Second Decisions About Competence

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Linkedtify 2020 How To Become a LinkedIn Professional Marketer

I’ve been working on cracking linked in for over 3 years. I saw how the traditional social media outlets were slowly fading and growing saturated. I knew there would be a new way to build lists for free and I was going to find it no matter what. So here it is, after 3 years of learning and 8 months of testing… I can confidently bring you…

Search content in your niche then post on Linkedin’s newsfeed and blogs and see your views and engagement go up. Just sit back and relax while our systems do the work for you. Schedule and drip out amazing content daily.

Grab immediate attention with a persuasive headline and entice people to view the rest of your profile where you can showcase your products and services and get them clicking through to your website. With the Linkedtify software you will be able to create great looking Linkedin Company Banners And Linkedin Group Banners Pages.

You’ll know exactly what to say after someone responds to your message. You get a variety of messages to choose from.Message follow up series that converts…even if you’ve never written “sales copy” in the past (TIP: Our copy-and-paste templates make it quick, simple, and nearly-impossible to mess up.)

When someone views your profile on LinkedIn, you’re immediately alerted and you’re shown exactly who’s viewed you. Use to message app to reply with an effective message.LinkedIn the newest and most effective way to build a list in 2020 And heres why

LinkedIn is Full of Business owners, Entrepreneurs, Marketers and High Earning Professionals. Statistics show that the average LinkedIn user earns $100,000 a year!And they are ready and willing to buy your…Marketing services ,E-books,Courses,Trainings,Coachings,Software Consulting..Anything you can think of! The thing is getting them to join my group on linkedin is really a three step process.

And they mean business!

You won’t find much fluff, spam or cat videos on LinkedIn. These people are serious, and if you are too, you will do business with them. They are actively looking to grow their value ad worth, and a lot of times you have just what they need…they just don’t know you..yet.Take Advantage of Microsofts newest $26Billion Investment Yes, Microsoft bought LinkedIn!Yes, they paid 26 billion dollars!Yes, that is a ton of money!

But that means they saw LinkedIn potentially being worth 50 or 100 billion.This makes it a worthy investment, and if Microsoft sees that you should too.It’s no wonder why they chose LinkedIn.Did you know.Linked In is the Top lead generator of all the social media platforms..LinkedIn makes up of 80%+ of a businesses social media leads…Over Facebook’s and Twitter’s 6% and 12%

LinkedIn allows you to see who has viewed your profile, and network with them. This is huge. Imagine being able to network with the cold traffic that comes to your website, you’ll be able to convert that customer better right? Same concept applies here
These people are in your circle. You can freely and openly network with them. They will be crucial to growing your circle in order to reach more people. You will be a MASTER LinkedIn Listbuilder by taking full advantage..

Have you been playing around on Facebook and other social media sites for 4-5 years and finding that your success is not as it used to be? This is natural for the web. Technology and social platforms are evolving and innovating so rapidly that sometimes it can be hard to know what still works and what doesn’t.  ​

But with Microsoft buying LinkedIn at over $26 Billion , you can assume that all of Microsoft’s technologies and engineers will be hard at work to make LinkedIn a top competitor with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc…

Source: https://linkedtify.convertri.com/fe-2

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Three Ways CPOs Can Master Complexity and Get Ahead in 2020 and Beyond

Deloitte CPO survey

The business landscape in 2019 is a more complex place than ever before: Between trade “wars,” the ever-increasing pace of technological change, global economic and political uncertainty, and the ongoing struggle to find and retain the best talent, Chief Procurement Officers (CPOs) around the world face a litany of new, challenging risks.

Yet there is also virtually unparalleled opportunity to master that complexity in the new year, obtain a competitive advantage, and turn these challenges into opportunities. So where does the modern CPO start?

Deloitte’s 2019 CPO Survey has uncovered three key areas where CPOs can invest smartly in their businesses, make strategic changes, and move forward with confidence to thrive in an uncertain world. By partnering effectively with the business as a whole, embracing disruptive digital technologies, and addressing talent challenges, CPOs can become masters of complexity.

Work With – Not Just For – Business Leaders

Business partnering is not just a key priority for technology leaders, human resources, or other relevant stakeholder relationships CPOs have. Increasingly, the procurement function – which connects the business to suppliers in every corner of the globe and is more entwined than ever with business strategy – has begun to lead business strategy and take a vocal role in the C-suite. Where ten years ago procurement was often not even considered a component of the C-suite, let alone a leader, today’s CPOs are more influential than ever before.

Significant challenges accompany that responsibility. Only 26% of CPOs surveyed described themselves as “excellent” internal business partners, a slight increase from 24% in 2018. IT, finance, and operations were most likely to rate procurement effectiveness as “excellent,” which demonstrates some strength in key business functions. For others, business partnering can open the door to more effective procurement strategies and wider business value.

One key place to start is digital. Only 14% of procurement organizations report “always” being involved during enterprise-level digital strategy, and a further 31% report “usually” being involved. These barriers to digital alignment can hinder successful procurement strategies in the age of complexity. Yet businesses that achieve digital alignment, integrate procurement into enterprise-level strategy, and align its strengths to the right business priorities are well-positioned for success.

Embrace Technological Change

Technological mastery is a well-known competitive advantage in business today – frankly, it has been for decades. The digital landscape for procurement, however, has evolved rapidly even in the last few years, as CPOs expand beyond process automation to leverage deeper analytics tools for faster and deeper insights.

There is room to grow. Fifty-eight percent of CPOs are aligning their digital strategies to both their own objectives and to business strategy overall; in our survey, 74% of “complexity masters” (top performing organizations) did so, suggesting that those who can align digital tools with business priorities will be most successful.

How are CPOs transforming procurement? Sixty-eight percent are improving and automating processes with modern IT applications, and 59% are extending innovative digital procurement tools to stakeholders and suppliers – effectively expanding the reach of their own digital investments to improve processes across the board. Analytics, at 59%, was seen as the most impactful technology area over the next two years as organizations look to predict and navigate volatility across the marketplace.

Solve the Talent Question

To add to this uncertain landscape, many CPOs are now contending with thin budgets, fewer resources, and insufficient talent. Fifty-five percent of respondents said it was now harder to attract talent over the last 12 months. Perhaps not coincidentally, only 46% of CPOs thought their teams could sufficiently deliver on procurement strategy.

As procurement increasingly takes center stage to navigate global complexity, “soft” skills are in high demand to connect the dots between disparate elements of business strategy and to navigate increasingly ambiguous challenges.

Training, recruiting, and unconventional talent partnerships all offer clear opportunities to close that gap and improve skills. Supplier collaboration and business partnering – both essential to executing procurement strategy and “leading” the way for the enterprise – emerged as a key priority for training, with 64% of CPOs aiming to train in this critical area. No other “soft” skill scored more than 38% in the survey.

This year’s survey also found an increase in contingent labor in the “complexity masters” organizations. Twenty-eight percent of these respondents are drawing upon contractors, on-demand category expertise and offshore centers to meet their growing talent needs. CPOs can tap new options to improve their talent situation; the question is how effectively they execute on an unconventional talent strategy to adapt alongside today’s landscape.

Become Masters of Complexity

Procurement is at a crossroads. As complexity rises in global business, CPOs face new and fast-moving challenges for which their expertise is more important than ever. That presents an opportunity for global CPOs: Master complexity to offer smarter counsel, develop more effective procurement strategies and transformational capabilities for the business, and reap the benefits to leapfrog competitors.

Fortunately, CPOs know where to start. By partnering with the business effectively, embracing technological change, and leveraging training and new talent sources to build a strong and flexible talent pipeline, CPOs can lead their organizations into the future with confidence.

This piece was co-authored by Lee Barter, partner, Deloitte Canada, Americas sourcing and procurement leader; and Ryan Flynn, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Brian is the leader of Deloitte’s US Consulting Industrial Products & Construction Sector as well as the leader of the Global Sourcing and Procurement Practice. In his two decades of experience, Brian has taken a personalized approach to building consulting practices, collaborating with clients, driving engagements and (above all) measuring value. He has a proven track record in global business development, operations/business strategy advisory and non-traditional approaches to creating client value. Brian is particularly experienced in industrial/consumer-related industries but has also worked across industries and sectors. Additionally, he is fascinated by the convergence of expertise, capability and technology in creating a new breed of integrated client solutions.

Source: Three Ways CPOs Can Master Complexity and Get Ahead in 2020 and Beyond

 

The ADA’s “Vague” Definition Of Disability Is A Feature, Not A Bug

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In October 2019, the 8th Circuit Court ruled in an ADA case against Dollar General that a worker could be considered disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act even if she doesn’t specifically identify herself as “disabled.” The plaintiff’s precise diagnosis is less important than her fairly obvious need for the kinds of accommodations that help people with disabilities do their jobs effectively.

This is just the latest example of the remarkable practicality of the ADA’s definition of disability.

Gatekeeping has always been a preoccupation in disability policy and culture. What, exactly, do we mean when we say someone is “disabled?” Is disability always a medical condition that can be measured precisely? Is it a cultural designation defined by being treated in a certain way? Or do we need to rely on lists of approved conditions that do or don’t qualify as officially “disabled?”

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When the ADA was developed in the late 1980s and passed in July, 1990, it embraced and helped define a distinctly inclusive definition of disability, using what has been called a “three-pronged” definition.

In its Technical Assistance Manual on the ADA, the U.S. Department of Justice explains:

“To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability, which is defined by the ADA as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.”

To understand what makes this definition of disability revolutionary, it’s important to dig deeper into how this definition works.

  1. The ADA covers people with any physical or mental impairment. This is critical, because at that time it was passed and still to an extent today, it’s not uncommon for people to treat physically impaired, blind, deaf, and mentally or intellectually impaired people differently, often unequally. The ADA’s definition helps to undercut these divisive hierarchies within the broader disability community.
  2. The ADA applies to people with “significant” impairments. This is still something of a judgement call. But the gist of it is that very minor impairments like nearsightedness, and simple things you’re just not good at really aren’t what we have in mind when we talk about disabilities.
  3. People who aren’t actually disabled can nevertheless be materially harmed by disability discrimination. So non-disabled people can sometimes be protected by the ADA as well. Examples include: the non-disabled spouse or family of a disabled person; people with a visible condition, like facial disfigurement, that doesn’t significantly impair, but can inspire disability prejudice; and people who once had a significant long-term condition but don’t anymore, like someone who at one time had cancer but doesn’t anymore.

The practical, flexible way the ADA defines disability may be the law’s strongest, most socially significant quality. But it has also been one of the law’s most controversial aspects. Critics have long asserted that the ADA definition of disability is too “vague.” The Supreme Court more than once ruled accordingly, for a time narrowing how the law’s actual scope.

Then, in 2008, Congress passed the ADA Amendments Act, (ADAAA), reinforcing the principle that the ADA definition of disability should be interpreted broadly. Jinny Kim, Director of the Disability Rights Program at Legal Aid At Work in San Francisco explains:

“Under the ADAAA, the question “should be whether [covered entities] have complied with their obligations,” and, “… the question of whether an individual’s impairment is a disability under the ADA should not demand extensive analysis.”

There are both weaknesses and strengths in the ADA’s definition of disability today.

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First of all, the laundry-list of specifically excluded conditions added to the original bill to secure key votes for passage (mostly conditions related to homosexuality, gender identity, and a hodgepodge of sexually-related crimes and disorders), do not hold up well today, either morally or legally. They read as petty betrayals, and don’t even make any practical sense, given the ADA’s core idea of functional impairments regardless of cause or diagnosis.

The ADA’s nuanced approach to disability opened the door for courts to narrow the definition, which for awhile they did until the 2008 ADA Amendments Act clarified and strengthened the principle of a broad and inclusive definition.

Also, what are viewed by some as completely appropriate advancements of disability rights protections to previously unprotected disabled populations have often been popularly portrayed as evidence that the ADA is an ill-defined free-for-all opportunity for anyone to claim “special treatment.” Even though they are exactly the kinds of questions of practical effect the ADA was specifically designed to resolve rationally, headlines asking whether previously ill-defined conditions like obesity and anxiety “count” as disabilities under the ADA often carry an undercurrent of irony and disdain.

On the other hand, the functional, inclusive approach to defining disability did mostly spare the disability community itself from many bitter internal battles that would have raged if people with each disability type had to fight their way into ADA protection. Newly-identified and better understood conditions have rightfully come under the ADA umbrella without much difficulty or opposition from more established disability groups.

Opting for a set of criteria instead of a list of conditions was also part of a larger historical trend. For the last several decades, the disability rights movement has been moving from a system of fractured and competing disability groups based on medical diagnosis, towards a broader disability community with a shared outlook based on the diverse but similar experience of practical barriers and social stigma. The ADA both reflected and accelerated this evolution.

Finally, a more open-ended definition of disability allows the ADA to deal with disability discrimination no matter who it harms. It underscores that it is a civil rights law available to anyone, not just to a pre-selected, finite group of people.

Essentially, the ADA defines disability not so much as a population, but  in terms of a kind of experience … the experience of ableism.

Almost 30 years after the ADA was signed, this flexibility is still a feature of the law, not a bug, It should be embraced, not criticised by the people the law protects, and by businesses, employers, and others called upon to provide inclusive accessibility and equal opportunity for people affected by disabilities of all kinds.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I am a freelance writer with lifelong disabilities and 22 years experience as a service provider and executive in nonprofit disability services and advocacy. I write about disability practices, policy, politics and culture. I also co-coordinate #CripTheVote, a Twitter-based discussion of disability issues and electoral politics. I have a B.A. in history from Dartmouth College, and an M.A. in Rhetoric and Communication Studies from the University of Virginia.

Source: The ADA’s “Vague” Definition Of Disability Is A Feature, Not A Bug

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In short, you need to be ADA compliant. Because authorities aren’t messing around one bit. If you think it’s a game, let me assure you that it’s not. Everything is coming under scrutiny. Websites, apps, and pdfs included. All of these are susceptible to lawsuits and litigation. There’s so many benefits to having access to ADA Comply. After you get access today, the only regret you’ll have is that you wish you would have had access sooner.

For example, you’ll be able to:

Listen, most local marketers just continue to offer services that are highly saturated. That’s why they don’t get anywhere. Sure, people need a website and some SEO work done…and maybe even a bit of social media here and there.But ADA compliance is a MUST. These local businesses can’t be without it or they’ll get sued big time.This puts the leverage back in your hands.You’ll be offering a service that local businesses would be foolish to pass up unless they want to pay the stupid tax.

Heck, you could even say that these businesses will chase you down when they see how much they have to lose.But even if you already have some local clients, just think of the money you can add on to your bottom line by offering ADA Complyto them as well!

3 Effective And Low-Cost Marketing Strategies

Business team working together on whiteboard at brick wall in office

While marketing in today’s digital world provides many more options for businesses, it also makes it more difficult to know where and how to spend your marketing dollars. And when startups are competing with larger companies who have extensive marketing budgets, it can be especially intimidating to figure out how to win over consumers. Let’s take a look at how businesses can implement low-cost marketing strategies that still get results.

Pivotal Relationships Are Key 

Instead of attending low-budget networking event after event, give your time and attention to strategic functions that could lead to beneficial partnerships. Invest in attending high-caliber conferences or becoming a member of trusted organizations.

Also, be sure to research which organizations or groups the high profile individuals in your industry are a part of, and see if you can join those communities. You can use social media platforms, such as LinkedIn or Twitter, to reach out and engage with movers and shakers as well. This can increase the chances of meeting and developing pivotal relationships with individuals who have leverage in your industry. Above all, make sure you’re adding value to the people you meet as opposed to asking for favors or advice.

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Focus On The Product And Service

Word-of-mouth marketing is extremely powerful and effective, and that’s because it isn’t easy to obtain and isn’t a marketing ploy that a corporation has carefully crafted. Word-of-mouth marketing impressions result in five times more sales than paid media impressions. Not to mention that consumers are more likely to trust and buy from a brand recommended by a friend.

But without a rock solid product or service, and a near-flawless customer experience, it is difficult to get people to tell their friends about your brand. Hosting focus groups, or using feedback software like SurveyMonkey or TypeForm can help you pinpoint what customers would like to see changed about your product. And it’s important to pay attention to reviews on sites like Google and Yelp to see where your product or service could be refined.

Word-of-mouth marketing drives $6 trillion of annual consumer spending and is estimated to account for 13% of consumer sales.

That’s why it’s important to always be listening and improving – by doing so, you may find your customers do all the advertising for you.

Be Flexible, Yet Calculated

A great deal of the digital advertising rat race is caused by brands constantly hopping on the latest marketing trends just because others are doing it. Seeing competitors running Facebook ads doesn’t mean you should throw money into Facebook advertising the very next day. For one, the ad may not be converting as well as you suspect. Secondly, every brand is different. And lastly, getting a potential customer’s attention can be very challenging on a platform like Facebook where users are scrolling through to catch up with old friends or simply share a life update.

Be flexible and open to experimenting with new and creative ways to advertise your company – but also be meticulous in your ROI calculations. This way, you’ll know which avenues to double down on the next time you’re putting together your marketing budget. You might find your referral system is driving 90% of your company’s leads every month, which implies you can pump the brakes on more traditional forms of advertising.

If you have the right connections and your product solves a big enough problem, you might even find that you don’t need to advertise at all – the key is to find out what’s best for your business.

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When all your ducks are in a row in terms of advertising – creative concepts, prospect targeting, brand messaging, high-quality imagery and crisp copy, advertising can work wonders for a company of any type.

Marketing and advertising works, which is why the U.S. digital advertising industry alone is valued at $192 billion. Yet, if you’re strategic and crafty enough, and focus exclusively on relationship-building, your product, and word-of-mouth marketing, your company can significantly minimize advertising spend.

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I am the CEO of Studio 15, a socially responsible fashion brand. After leaving behind a 15-year career in the corporate fashion world, I started a company that focuses on doing good and supporting women. It’s Studio 15’s mission to promote and collaborate with other female-owned businesses and to support female entrepreneurs in developing countries through a partnership with Kleos MFG, a non-profit organization.

Source: 3 Effective And Low-Cost Marketing Strategies

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15 Innovative Ways Businesses Can Leverage Gamification

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Gamification is the application of elements typical of game playing in areas that are not usually game-related. There’s a growing trend in business to gamify tasks like training and team building to encourage and incentivize employees. Companies have also looked into gamifying their marketing efforts, allowing customers to have fun and feel a sense of accomplishment when they engage.

When implemented wisely, gamification can boost both enjoyment and results for everyone involved. Below, 15 members of Forbes Technology Council detail the most innovative uses they’ve seen companies make of gamification, as well as strategies that have worked for them.

1. Uncovering Existing Metrics

It’s too easy to confuse gamification with game-like mechanics. Gamification doesn’t require any narrative filter, just a sense of progression and reward. The clever ways I see it used inwardly revolve around applying comprehensible metrics to things that already existed—dev teams often don’t see the praise account managers do, for example, so showcasing that in a cumulative way can do wonders. – Artem Petrov, Reinvently

2. Incentivizing Teams To Attain Goals

I use scorecards with every team I manage. I’ve used a scorecard or scoreboard to set a goal for a team to complete such things as a certain number of unit tests within a week. Set a goal for the team at the beginning of the week, with the prize for achieving the goal by noon on Friday being that you will get everyone pizza. Make the first goal relatively easy to achieve, then raise the goal slightly next week. – Patrick Emmons, DragonSpears, Inc.

Forbes Technology Council is an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology executives. Do I qualify?

3. Motivating Individual And Collective Behavior

From my perspective, the optimal way to leverage gamification is to reward both collective and individual behavior. Companies need to embrace a model that motivates and empowers from the bottom up, ultimately providing timely and value-add recognition that motivates an individual on a personal level, but also at the same time encourages the group at a larger level so they remain engaged. – Andres Angelani, Cognizant Softvision

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4. Increasing User Engagement

Gamification within a product makes the user experience more engaging and personalized. Especially for business-to-business, software-as-a-service solutions, games can transform ordinary business processes into tools for team motivation and appreciation. We have a leaderboard that recognizes team members who complete the most work orders in a month with badges. We’ve found this to be successful for team building. – Ryan Chan, UpKeep Maintenance Management

5. Improving Online Visibility

To increase the online visibility of Nike, the brand created a system of points that people received for their sports achievements. Users were encouraged to share their results online. Eventually, it helped many people become healthier, and Nike’s popularity grew big time due to plenty of shares and mentions all over social media. – Daria Leshchenko, SupportYourApp Inc.

6. Getting People To Talk

A good tech company should be holding retrospectives on a regular basis. It can be difficult to get people to talk about failures and wins in a meaningful way. Using a retrospective game to get people talking works wonders. There are a handful of useful texts out there that describe these games and how to use them on your teams. Once you get the hang of them, make your own. – Kevin Batchelor, Complete Merchant Solutions

7. Improving Tech Adoption

While implementing a new CRM system, our firm created a game to score users on their adoption (e.g., points were awarded for entering an opportunity). This competition unlocked the huge investment while empowering our team to learn. It was so successful that we ended up creating a new external product based on the game that gives clients one consistent, engaging way to learn across enterprise systems. – Matthew Lieberman, PwC

8. Encouraging Employee Social Media Participation

We’ve seen significant results through the gamification of employee participation on social media. We use an employee engagement platform for social media that puts competition front and center through visible leaderboards where everyone can see how their participation stacks up. We then publicly recognize the most active participants to build a culture of social selling, sharing and engagement. – Jed Ayres, IGEL Technology

9. Reinforcing Socially Conscious Office Policies

Everyone in the office wants to follow the rules, but occasionally they may slip up when working in a hurry or juggling multiple activities. One company uses a custom matching game to remind employees about the stringent recycling policy and to tell them what goes in the trash and which plastic is acceptable for the blue bins. Employees can have fun while helping the environment at the same time. – Arnie Gordon, Arlyn Scales

10. Making Boring Things Fun

We’ve used gamification for a variety of things: social events, migrating systems, finding bugs, etc. While this has worked well, we use it cautiously as it can sometimes distract when people “play the game” instead of committing to the purpose. Use games when just completing the task is good enough and long-term motivation isn’t a success criterion for the activity. – Ram Prayaga, mPulse Mobile

11. Driving Corporate Performance

We’ve seen dozens of customers use gamification to create a culture of voluntary learning across locations and job titles and aimed at specific business goals. But the most fun example was just this week when the CEOs of two of our customers, both regional grocers, challenged each other to accumulate the most points for knowledge growth across their entire organizations in the next year. Game on! – Carol Leaman, Axonify

12. Making Every Employee A Brand Ambassador

get paid to play games - membership cardWe created an internal “brand warrior” program at a major consumer entertainment company ahead of a globally anticipated product launch. Employees earned experience points and levels based on the product training they completed. All employees were eligible to participate, and XPs gained could be used at the employee store. This way every employee is a brand ambassador. – Michael Thiessmeier, Enjoy Technology

13. Improving Security Training

Introducing a gamified security training platform in your business has proven to be extremely successful. In a fun and intuitive way, team members learn how hackers try to breach companies by essentially “hacking” one another within the platform. This leads to a better understanding of cybersecurity and better results than typical companywide security training. – Joshua Ferry, CloudInsyte

14. Improving A Company’s Security Posture

CISOs use gamification to improve their company’s security posture by encouraging employees to participate in the cybersecurity program. As risk owners complete security-related tasks they get points that accumulate toward incentives. Leaderboards and other public-recognition methods drive a deeper sense of risk ownership throughout the organization and aid in reducing the company’s breach risk. – Gaurav Banga, Balbix

15. Enhancing The Employee Referral Process

One of the most impactful aspects of any business is hiring the right talent. For example, our HR team has gamified the employee-referral process, awarding prizes based on phone interviews, in-person interviews, job offers and accepted offers. With this shift, we are set to exceed our hiring goals, and great employees tend to bring similarly talented people. – Guy Bloch, Bringg

Forbes Technology Council is an invitation-only, fee-based organization comprised of leading CIOs, CTOs and technology executives. Find out if you qualify at forbestechcouncil.com. Questions about an article? Email feedback@forbescouncils.com.

Source: 15 Innovative Ways Businesses Can Leverage Gamification

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Three Basic Steps To Plan Your 2020 Content Marketing Campaign

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Any savvy marketer knows there is a lot more to content development than writing a blog and haphazardly publishing it to your company’s website when you have time. To create and execute a content marketing campaign successfully, your content should have a carefully crafted purpose and be planned out well in advance.

Great content delivers the exact information your prospective customers need, when and where they need it — and one of the best ways to accomplish this is with a full-fledged content marketing campaign.

For many business professionals, this process is much easier said than done. Below, we’ll explore a few basic steps to get your 2020 campaign started:

1. Consider Your 2020 Goals

At this point in the year, your team has likely already mapped out a strategic plan for your organization in 2020 — from strategizing how you will manage your online reputation and what (if any) leadership changes will take place, to new technology you will implement to streamline processes.

Before planning your content marketing campaign, it is essential to consider the goals your team has set in place for the new year, and how your content will complement them and drive results.

If you have not already, identify your focus for 2020. Are you targeting a new market demographic? Have you made changes to your products or services that you plan to promote? Are you offering a new promotion?

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The answers to these questions will dictate your focus. From there, you can identify the keywords someone might use to search for information about your services and what blog content would resonate best with your target audience.

For example, when one of our clients, an alternative online ratings platform, set a goal to change its core messaging, our agency shifted the company’s entire campaign. The client wanted to shift from promoting how alternative ratings can drive new leads and instead focus on how the ratings market is transforming to meet the changing needs of today’s consumers. Our team took this fresh messaging and developed blogs, emails and social media posts to complement and promote the client’s new focus with great success.

2. Research Your Buyer Persona(s)

Never lose sight of your buyer persona(s) when planning your content. While you now have a primary focus in mind for your content, it is still important to consider the pain points your prospective customers are experiencing, and address these challenges in all pieces of your content accordingly. If your content does not speak to your persona, your campaign will likely suffer and may not drive the ROI you desire.

According to HubSpot, “A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”

Research the market demographics of your audience. Take into consideration customer demographics, behavior patterns, goals and motivations. Be as detailed as possible. What social channels do they use regularly? Where do they like to spend their free time? What products or services are most valuable to them? What’s the most challenging aspect of their daily life that you are trying to solve?

These questions will not only help you determine who your content should be targeted toward and how it should be promoted, but they will help you craft specific blog and offer topics that position your business as a valuable resource.

For example, with the alternative ratings platform, our research found that its buyer personas — decision makers and senior-level marketing managers — were not only struggling to understand why alternative ratings were important but also why their internal online reputation management efforts alone were not yielding the results they desired.

3. Plan Your Content

When I talk about content marketing, I do not just mean blogging. While blogging is an integral component of your campaign, your strategy should also include social media, emails and drip campaigns, downloadable offers, and landing pages.

That being said, a campaign often begins with engaging blogs that then lead prospective customers down the marketing funnel. With your 2020 focus and buyer persona in mind, it is time to determine a series of blog topics that support and promote your goals while addressing the pain points of your target audience.

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For example, when the alternative ratings platform shifted its messaging, our team developed an extensive list of blog topics to support the change. Instead of topics like “Five Ways Alternative Ratings Can Drive Leads to Your Business,” we brainstormed topics like “Why Subjective Ratings Are on the Downfall, and How Your Business Should Respond” and “Why Your Online Reputation Management Efforts Aren’t Working.”

These topics not only promote the company’s new messaging, but also address some of the core pain points of the company’s buyer personas.

Once you have your blog topics in place, things should begin to flow more easily. From here, you will develop supporting social media posts, targeted email campaigns and downloadable offers that help tie these pieces together while promoting your organization’s products or services.

Planning What Works Best For Your Business

While the basics of developing a strategic content marketing campaign are similar across various industries, the implementation of this strategy will vary depending on your business and location and the market demographics of your audience.

Ultimately, you must map out what will work best for your organization and buyer persona(s). Setting up and growing a successful content marketing campaign takes time, patience, creativity and organization. If you follow these steps to get you started, executing your strategy for the new year won’t be as daunting as it seems.

Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?

Owner of Criterion.B, overseeing client strategy and company culture.

 

Source: Three Basic Steps To Plan Your 2020 Content Marketing Campaign

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