Four Ways To Shift Automation From Tactical To Transformative

Organizations must transcend piecemeal approaches to business reinvention and design processes around people — tightly linked from the front to the back office, advises Girish Pai, who leads Cognizant’s Intelligent Process Automation practice.

“Going digital” has long been touted as a silver bullet for delivering better customer experiences and streamlining processes. Automation has become the go-to approach for solving immediate pain points, mainly in the form of tactically deploying one-off robotic process automation (RPA) initiatives to make our jobs a little easier and/or more efficient.

While achieving short-term gains, this piecemeal approach to process reinvention creates complexity due to disconnected strategies, siloed pilot projects and an incohesive technology strategy, among other factors. More importantly, it complicates businesses’ ability to adapt and inject fluidity into operations — characteristics crucial for delivering the future of work right now.

Old ways of thinking about automation just won’t cut it anymore, and the decentralized business world emerging from the pandemic has increased the pressure to deliver.

However, we’re finding that businesses are overwhelmingly ill-prepared for this journey. According to our research, 60% of companies have implemented or piloted automation technology, but only a tiny minority (8%) have said they’ve achieved automation at scale.

To unlock new value, opportunities and growth, organizations need to focus on the “why” of automation to achieve business results. They need to design processes around people — customers, employees, partners, suppliers — fused together from the front-office to the back-office, across all functions. Here’s how.

Anchor end-to-end process redesign to business outcomes and ensure scalability.

Organizations typically approach automation by looking for opportunities to increase speed or take complex manual tasks off their hands. It seems logical — but if they’re automating processes that just don’t work, they’re merely automating inefficiency. As customer journeys become more complex and competitors accelerate innovation, it becomes even more important to exert strategic oversight into automation initiatives.

End-to-end process change doesn’t work when organizations focus arbitrarily on finding opportunities for automation. They should first determine their overall business goals, identify inefficiencies in existing processes and then create automated systems that can scale. To succeed, they need to weave together people, processes, experiences, data insights, intelligence and technology via an automation fabric that masks complexity from users, simplifies orchestration, brings together disparate emerging technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing and intelligent document processing, and drives adoption and collaboration.

We recently worked with a healthcare provider to reduce its claims denial rate and improve net collections. We used process mining tools to identify bottlenecks and process issues, then ran possible intervention simulations to build a business case for business change.

This allowed us to create a strategic blueprint for implementing process changes, automation, monitoring and people enablement. Using RPA, optical character recognition (OCR) and artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) technologies, we were able to reduce the claims denial rate from 17% to 12% and improve net collections from 23% to 30%.

Because automation was deployed strategically instead of tactically, the processes behind the technology are efficient and will remain stable through growth periods.

Take a people-first approach.

As businesses adjust to a digital culture, they need to prioritize the human beings working alongside software and bots (i.e., digital workers). A one-size-fits-all approach to education and upskilling doesn’t work with a multigenerational and distributed workforce. Creating a people-first automation plan requires accommodations for skill level, comfort with technology and the state of innovation.

We worked with a claims processing organization to help it navigate this type of culture change. By analyzing the day-to-day challenges and dependencies of users, we created a customized training program that showcases how technology can reduce effort and improve decision-making. We prioritized initiatives based on ease of implementation and scaled them as technology understanding improved.

By prioritizing the needs of the workforce as new technology is deployed, the business will not only enhance time-to-adoption but also create a better customer experience through skilled employees, more efficient claims handling, greater cost savings from reduced penalties and more resilient operations.

Use modern technology to create modern experiences.

Digital is enabling companies to break traditional industry boundaries, introducing supportive and complementary offerings that create seamless purchasing environments for customers. But in doing so, they’re no longer just delivering products — they’re delivering experiences.

This means that back-office metric optimization can no longer be disassociated from front-office customer interaction and overall process change. The customer experience must be at the core of how processes are managed.

One leading medical device company struggled to educate customers on the features of its new devices. Because users’ health was involved, the company needed access to accurate information as quickly as possible. After reviewing patient, caregiver, payer and supplier personas and journeys, we helped create a blueprint for simplifying the interaction across ecosystem touchpoints.

We introduced chatbots, remote monitoring and AI-based patient safety services. By centering decisions around customer needs and expectations, the company was able to create a seamless user experience that reduces friction.

Guide widespread digitization with high-level strategy.

Automation is becoming more pervasive in enterprises. Low-code automation tools are rapidly entering the market, making it easier than ever to create digitally connected ways of working.

The key is to empower those closest to the process challenges with design and execution guide rails to holistically integrate and optimize disparate technologies as they learn, build and scale experiences and process transformation rapidly.

While the growing accessibility of automation offers a panoply of process optimization opportunities, the ease of use of low-code automation should not override the need for high-level strategic planning. To truly power customer-driven business decisions, organizations need data — and lots of it. If departments within your organization are approaching automation independently, data can quickly become trapped in siloes — making it impossible to efficiently gather the insights required to eliminate friction points.

Never lose sight of the “why” in automation

As process digitization evolves, it will become even more important to understand the “why” — not just the “what” — behind automation initiatives. Efficient process digitization requires a balancing act between effective technology adoption and enterprise-wide oversight.

By taking a fused, end-to-end automation approach, businesses can cut across siloes and enable data to flow freely between departments, creating an opportunity to thrive through better decision-making, reduced costs and greater business innovation.

To learn more visit the Intelligent Process Automation section of our website or contact us.

Girish Pai is a seasoned digital and transformation leader with over two decades of experience and a strong track record of delivering strategic business outcomes for clients globally across industries. Girish heads the Intelligent Process Automation Practice for Cognizant Digital Business Operations, leading the charge to create next-gen digital solutions by leveraging technology to simplify, reimagine and transform processes. Girish holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Manipal Institute of Technology, India. He can be reached at Girish.Pai@cognizant.com or on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/girishpai/

Source: Four Ways To Shift Automation From Tactical To Transformative

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3 Tips for Increasing Happiness at Work

Given that many of us will spend up to one-third of our lives at work, it’s not surprising that happiness at work is a topic of concern. Research shows that our happiness at work determines how motivated, productive, and engaged we are.

As an ACHIEVE trainer for the Psychological Safety in the Workplace workshop, I have had many discussions with participants and teams about workplace well-being and satisfaction. I am often asked, “What actions and circumstances best lead to happiness at work?” 

The answer? Happiness at work is complex. Various influences and factors contribute to our well-being at work including organizational culture, the alignment between our values and the organization’s, and the level of job compensation and security.

While some of these factors may be beyond our control, happiness can be enhanced through specific behavioural and cognitive practices, referred to in positive psychology as “positive interventions.”

Here are three positive interventions you can use to increase your happiness at work:

Strive for the Happiness Zone

Research shows that 40 percent of personal happiness results from our own actions, behaviours, and thought patterns. This 40 percent zone is where you have some control over your happiness and where practicing positive interventions will be most helpful. However, this practice will be different for everyone. Some people are happiest when they accomplish a goal at work, while others feel most happy when they are connected and collaborating with colleagues. It’s important to understand which activities contribute to individual happiness at work.

Prioritize the behaviours, actions, and conditions that lead to a sense of well-being during the workday.

One way to begin is to prioritize the behaviours, actions, and conditions that lead to a sense of well-being during the workday. Take note of activities that seem to uplift your mood during the week. Carefully observe your workdays, becoming mindful of the activities, behaviours, or situations that create a sense of a good day versus a bad day. Look for a pattern across the days and weeks. Are there certain activities, situations, or circumstances that consistently seem to contribute to a positive workday? Make a conscious effort to prioritizing doing more of them.

Focus on Meaningful Interactions

The importance of interpersonal connections at work is noted in ACHIEVE’s book, The Culture Question: How to Create a Workplace Where People Like to Work. People are more apt to feel satisfied and engaged when they have positive relationships at work.

A first step to creating meaningful connections at work is to improve your listening skills and increase the depth and value of your interactions. During a workplace interaction, consciously choose to actively listen to what someone has to say and invite them to share more during the conversation. Researchers refer to this as listening generously – we allow the person to have the entire spotlight to feel genuinely listened to and validated.

Simple responses like “That’s great, I’d like to hear more,” or “It sounds like this is important to you, I’d like to learn more,” can make a team member feel more valued, resulting in increased well-being at work. As the listener, you feel good too because you are creating a more meaningful interaction. Remember, the more connected and positive interactions we have with work colleagues, the happier our work experience.

Generate Gratitude

Completing a gratitude exercise even once a week has been proven to increase happiness over time. There is no better place to practice gratitude than at work, given the amount of time we spend there.

People are more apt to feel satisfied and engaged when they have positive relationships at work.

One of the most simple and effective ways to practice gratitude is by keeping a gratitude journal. Record the things in your workweek you felt grateful for. Examples may include compliments you received about your work, small wins or accomplishments, or completing a difficult task. To make this team-based, try keeping a gratitude jar.

Invite your colleagues to join you in recording things they are grateful for. Use sticky notes, or if you are a virtual team, post something on a virtual collaborative whiteboard. On Friday, go through the notes. The best part of this simple exercise is the immediate uplift in mood and perspective shift that occurs from recognizing just how many things went well during the workweek.

Workplace happiness takes effort and practice, but the result is improved well-being, greater productivity, and stronger workplace connections – all of which can result in decreased stress and more work satisfaction. Happiness at work is truly worth the effort.

By:Jennifer Kelly

Source: 3 Tips for Increasing Happiness at Work | ACHIEVE Centre for Leadership

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How to Deal With Your Childhood Trauma As an Adult

Recovering from trauma is hard no matter when it happens. However, if adversity happens during childhood, it can be especially hard to overcome. Unlike adults, children have very little control over their environment. If a child is living in an abusive home, their ability to remove themselves from that environment is extremely limited, whereas an adult will usually have more emotional and financial resources with which to escape.

Meanwhile, children are still learning what healthy relationships look like, as well as how to cope with difficult situations. If a child is growing up in a household where abusive behavior is the norm, this can skew their understanding of what is and is not acceptable within a relationship. Even when the trauma is unavoidable, such as a death in the family or a major illness of a family member, children are still developing their coping skills, which makes it that much harder for them to process what has happened.

So how can adults who experienced adversity in childhood process and deal with that trauma now that they’re grown?

How to measure your childhood trauma

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) quiz, is a measure of childhood trauma. The test itself is short—only ten questions—and asks about family adversity growing up, including physical or sexual abuse, neglect, and about family members with mental health struggles or substance abuse.

The higher the score, the more likely a person is to develop chronic health issues during adulthood, such as anxiety, depression, diabetes, asthma, cancer, obesity, coronary heart disease, and substance abuse. People who score a 4 or higher have a significantly higher risk than those who didn’t experience childhood adversity.

If you do have a high ACE score, knowing that these early experiences can have a negative impact on your health and well-being as an adult can be quite discouraging. However, it’s really important to remember that your ACE score is only an indicator of what you went through, not a guarantee of what your future will look like.

“Just because a person has experienced several ACEs, that doesn’t necessarily mean later problems are inevitable, that just makes them predisposed,” said Genevieve Rivera, executive director of the American SPCC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating parents and preventing child abuse. “We do have strategies, practices, tools, and routines that can help us to rewire our brains and our bodies.”

Start by seeking out professional help

“If you have a trauma history, if you have experienced childhood adversity, what you can do is get connected with support ahead of time,” said Melissa Goldberg-Mintz, a clinical psychologist and founder of Secure Base Psychology, PLLC. “That’s something you can do preventively.”

For people with high ACE scores, there is a strong probability they will develop issues such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, anger, and suicidal impulses. That is why it is essential to be proactive about seeking the mental healthcare you need. “It’s really important to have a professional in your corner to help guide you through,” Rivera said.

Seeking help is often the first, most essential step for working through the lingering effects of childhood adversity, and it can serve as a foundation for establishing a healthy, functional life.

Learn to recognize and develop healthy relationships

“Connection is the best medicine we have,” Goldberg-Mintz said. If a child going through adversity also experiences a warm, loving relationship—whether it’s a parent, grandparent, or caregiver—this will often provide a protective buffer against developing issues later in life. “The single best way we know how to deal with emotional pain is through connecting with people we feel securely attached to,” she said.

Adults who didn’t experience a loving relationship as children, however, can still work on developing healthy relationships later in life, which can help stave off some of these outcomes. Humans are social creatures. We crave connection, and if we don’t get it, our mental and physical health can suffer. Developing an understanding of what healthy relationships look like, and what the boundaries and expectations in those relationships should be, is key.

Make your physical and emotional well-being a priority

Given that childhood adversity can result in a number of chronic health issues later in life, whether physical or mental, it’s important to focus on caring for your physical and emotional well-being.

“You want to make sure your basic needs are being met,” Goldberg-Mintz said. This includes getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy diet, and connecting with others. “If you’re not getting your basic needs met, you are going to be more vulnerable to these bad outcomes.”

This can be challenging, especially because conditions like depression and anxiety make getting enough sleep or exercise especially difficult, the more you can focus on your own physical and mental well-being, the better.

Strengthen your resiliency

Resilience is the capacity to recover from adversity quickly. Some children who experience adversity are able to develop resilience, while others have a harder time. “Research shows that even just one supportive parental figure in a child’s life goes a long way toward helping them build this resilience,” Rivera said.

However, for those who struggled to build resilience during childhood, it’s still possible to develop these skills as an adult—and that goes back to seeking professional help and focusing on building those healthy relationships. Resiliency has a way of developing naturally when we do those things.

“We all have resiliency inside us, but we have to work on building it,” Rivera said. “Research has actually shown that our bodies experience a positive biological response when we’re surrounded by healthy relationships.”

Source: How to Deal With Your Childhood Trauma As an Adult

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Facebook Adds Photobucket and Google Calendar To Its Data Portability Options

Facebook has today announced that it has added two new destinations for when you want to move your data from the social network. In a blog post, the company said that users will be able to move their images to Photobucket and event listings to Google Calendar.

The TYI tool exists to get a copy of your data off Facebook, be that your photos and videos or notes and posts stored on the service. There’s already support for Google Docs, Google Photos, Blogger, WordPress, Koofr, Dropbox, and Backblaze, but the list has now grown to include Google Calendar and Photobucket.

Product Manager Hadi Michel said that the tool has been “completely rebuilt” to be “simpler and more intuitive,” giving people more clarity on what they can share to which platforms. In addition, users can now launch multiple transfers, with better fine-grain control on what they’re choosing to export in any one transfer.

This is yet another feature piled on to the Data Transfer Project, an open-source project developed by Google, Facebook and Microsoft. Facebook users can already send their photos to Google’s own image-storage service, as well as Dropbox, Blogger, Google Documents and WordPress.

This is, in part, a way to address the long-in-progress ACCESS Act, which would enable users to transfer their data to any competing platform. Facebook says that it calls on government to “make clearer rules about who is responsible for protecting that data as it is transferred to different services.

The addition of Photobucket means there’s a new destination for your photos and videos, but Goolge Calendar has been added specifically to support the transfer of events data for the first time. That way you can continue to track which events are happening and set notifications for them in Calendar without needing to manually enter them all first.

Facebook is also touting a “completely rebuilt experience,” which was implemented to make it easier to see the available destinations and specifically which types of data can be transferred to them. It’s also easier to retry transfers, start multiple transfers simultaneously to the same destination, and there’s new filters to make it easier to “precisely select” the data you want to transfer.

Matthew Humphries

By: Matthew Humphries

Source: https://uk.pcmag.com/

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How to Overcome Your Fear of Failure

A client (who I’ll call “Alex”) asked me to help him prepare to interview for a CEO role with a start-up. It was the first time he had interviewed for the C-level, and when we met, he was visibly agitated. I asked what was wrong, and he explained that he felt “paralyzed” by his fear of failing at the high-stakes meeting.

Digging deeper, I discovered that Alex’s concern about the quality of his performance stemmed from a “setback” he had experienced and internalized while working at his previous company. As I listened to him describe the situation, it became clear that the failure was related to his company and outside industry factors, rather than to any misstep on his part. Despite that fact, Alex could not shake the perception that he himself had not succeeded, even though there was nothing he could have logically done to anticipate or change this outcome.

People are quick to blame themselves for failure, and companies hedge against it even if they pay lip service to the noble concept of trial and error. What can you do if you, like Alex, want to face your fear of screwing up and push beyond it to success? Here are four steps you can take:

Redefine failure. Behind many fears is worry about doing something wrong, looking foolish, or not meeting expectations — in other words, fear of failure. By framing a situation you’re dreading differently before you attempt it, you may be able to avoid some stress and anxiety.

Let’s go back to Alex as an example of how to execute this. As he thought about his interview, he realized that his initial bar for failing the task — “not being hired for the position” — was perhaps too high given that he’d never been a CEO and had never previously tried for that top job. Even if his interview went flawlessly, other factors might influence the hiring committee’s decision — such as predetermined preferences on the part of board members.

In coaching Alex through this approach, I encouraged him to redefine how he would view his performance in the interview. Was there a way he might interpret it differently from the get-go and be more open to signs of success, even if they were small? Could he, for example, redefine failure as not being able to answer any of the questions posed or receiving specific negative feedback? Could he redefine success as being able to answer each question to the best of his ability and receiving no criticisms about how he interviewed?

As it turned out, Alex did advance to the second round and was complimented on his preparedness. Ultimately, he did not get the job. But because he had shifted his mindset and redefined what constituted failure and success, he was able to absorb the results of the experience more gracefully and with less angst than he had expected.

Set approach goals (not avoidance goals). Goals can be classified as approach goals or avoidance goals based on whether you are motivated by wanting to achieve a positive outcome or avoid an adverse one. Psychologists have found that creating approach goals, or positively reframing avoidance goals, is beneficial for well-being. When you’re dreading a tough task and expect it to be difficult and unpleasant, you may unconsciously set goals around what you don’t want to happen rather than what you do want.

Though nervous about the process, Alex’s desire to become a CEO was an approach goal because it focused on what he wanted to achieve in his career rather than what he hoped to avoid. Although he didn’t land the first CEO job he tried to get, he did not let that fact deter him from keeping that as his objective and getting back out there.

If Alex had instead become discouraged about the outcome of his first C-level interview and decided to actively avoid the pain of rejection by never vying for the top spot again, he would have shifted from approach to avoidance mode. While developing an avoidance goal is a common response to a perceived failure, it’s important to keep in mind the costs of doing so. Research has shown that employees who take on an avoidance focus become twice as mentally fatigued as their approach-focused colleagues.

Create a “fear list.” Author and investor Tim Ferriss recommends “fear-setting,” creating a checklist of what you are afraid to do and what you fear will happen if you do it. In his Ted Talk on the subject, he shares how doing this enabled him to tackle some of his hardest challenges, resulting in some of his biggest successes.

I asked Alex to make three lists: first, the worst-case scenarios if he bombed the interview; second, things he could do to prevent the failure; and third, in the event the flop occurred, what could he do to repair it. Next, I asked him to write down the benefits of the attempted effort and the cost of inaction. This exercise helped him realize that although he was anxious, walking away from the opportunity would be more harmful to his career in the long run.

Focus on learning. The chips aren’t always going to fall where you want them to — but if you understand that reality going in, you can be prepared to wring the most value out of the experience, no matter the outcome.

To return to Alex, he was able to recognize through the coaching process that being hyper-focused on his previous company’s flop — and overestimating his role in it — caused him to panic about the CEO interview. When he shifted gears to focus not on his potential for failure but on what he would learn from competing at a higher level than he had before, he stopped sweating that first attempt and was able to see it as a steppingstone on a longer journey to the CEO seat.

With that mindset, he quickly pivoted away from his disappointment at not getting the offer to quickly planning for the next opportunity to interview for a similar role at another company.

Remember: it’s when you feel comfortable that you should be fearful, because it’s a sign that you’re not stepping far enough out of your comfort zone to take steps that will help you rise and thrive. By rethinking your fears using the four steps above, you can come to see apprehension as a teacher and guide to help you achieve your most important goals.

By: Susan Peppercorn / Harvard Business Review

Susan Peppercorn is an executive career transition coach and speaker. She is the author of Ditch Your Inner Critic at Work: Evidence-Based Strategies to Thrive in Your Career. Numerous publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, the Boston Globe, and SELF Magazine have tapped her for career advice. You can download her free Career Fit Self-Assessment and 25 Steps to a Successful Career Transition.

Source: Pocket

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References:

17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd  What Is Creativity?

We All Have It, and Need It 

How to Think Critically: 5 Powerful Techniques 

What Are The Levels Of The Mind And How To Improve Them 

How To Improve Short Term Memory: 7 Simple Ways to Try Now

7 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd

  Is There a True Measure of Success? How to Define Your Own

  How Do You Measure Success: 10 New And Better Ways

  50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn

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Google Maps Offensive Continues as Apple Begins Mapping New Regions

While Apple Maps is said to be a solid alternative to Google Maps, it’s not necessarily a secret that Apple’s app isn’t quite here yet. Especially outside of the United States, as Apple has often been extremely slow when it comes to rolling out new features for users who don’t live in the company’s home market.

Apple Maps, for example, has already received massive updates in the United States, including better maps and new features like traffic information with road signs and traffic light warnings, but this new experience continues to be available in limited markets.

But on the other hand, the iPhone maker is working tirelessly to expand Apple Maps to more markets, as the company itself knows it’s pretty much the only way to compete with Google Maps.

And more recently, Apple sent its fleet of Subaru Impreza used for data collection to Austria, with the mapping process due to start today. The company hasn’t shared any information on how long the entire process will take, but according to local media, Apple just wants to focus on vehicle-based data for now, so foot mapping wouldn’t take place. as part of this first step in the process.

This is probably a sign that Apple wants to improve the navigation component of its app, although time will tell how quickly the new data will be available to users in Austria.

The good news is that Apple is indeed making very good progress when it comes to expanding Apple Maps to more regions. Right now, this is one of the biggest shortcomings of using Apple Maps compared to alternatives like Google Maps, as the preloaded app on iPhones still lacks map data. updated and new features in many major markets.

Apple has yet to confirm Apple Maps’ expansion in Austria, but expect to see the company’s Subaru Imprezas on the streets of the country for several months.

After Apple hinted it was parting ways with Google Maps for its own proprietary system and application, Google is firing back, announcing it has new mapping technology ahead of Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference. In an invite sent to press last week, Google promised to “show off some of the newest technology and give a sneak peak at upcoming features,” according to CNET.

No word yet on whether the mapping technology will be for Google’s Chrome browser or for android phones or both, but mobile support seems likely. Will Google’s new application include something similar to Apple’s powerful new 3-D mode, which, according to 9-to-5 Mac, boasts “beautiful, realistic graphics”? Stay tuned as Map Wars 2012 continues.

Source: Google Maps offensive continues as Apple begins mapping new regions – OLTNEWS

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Critics:

The Google Maps apps for iOS and Android have many of the same features, including turn-by-turn navigation, street view, and public transit information.Turn-by-turn navigation was originally announced by Google as a separate beta testing app exclusive to Android 2.0 devices in October 2009. The original standalone iOS version did not support the iPad, but tablet support was added with version 2.0 in July 2013. An update in June 2012 for Android devices added support for offline access to downloaded maps of certain regions, a feature that was eventually released for iOS devices, and made more robust on Android, in May 2014.

At the end of 2015 Google Maps announced its new offline functionality, but with various limitations – downloaded area cannot exceed 120,000 square kilometres and require a considerable amount of storage space. In January 2017, Google added a feature exclusively to Android that will, in some U.S. cities, indicate the level of difficulty in finding available parking spots, and on both Android and iOS, the app can, as of an April 2017 update, remember where users parked. In August 2017, Google Maps for Android was updated with new functionality to actively help the user in finding parking lots and garages close to a destination.

In December 2017, Google added a new two-wheeler mode to its Android app, designed for users in India, allowing for more accessibility in traffic conditions. In 2019 the android version introduced the new feature called live view that allows to view directions directly on the road thanks to augmented reality Google Maps won the 2020 Webby Award for Best User Interface in the category Apps, Mobile & Voice. In March 2021, Google added a feature in which user can draw missing roads.

In 2005 the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) complained about the potential for terrorists to use the satellite images in planning attacks, with specific reference to the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor; however, the Australian Federal government did not support the organization’s concern. At the time of the ANSTO complaint, Google had colored over some areas for security (mostly in the US), such as the rooftop of the White House and several other Washington, D.C., US buildings.

In October 2010, Nicaraguan military commander Edén Pastora stationed Nicaraguan troops on the Isla Calero (in the delta of the San Juan River), justifying his action on the border delineation given by Google Maps. Google has since updated its data which it found to be incorrect.

On January 27, 2014, documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA and the GCHQ intercepted Google Maps queries made on smartphones, and used them to locate the users making these queries. One leaked document, dating to 2008, stated that “[i]t effectively means that anyone using Google Maps on a smartphone is working in support of a GCHQ system.

References

How to Buy Happiness (Responsibly)

The great reopening offers ample opportunity to lift your spirits if you have some money to spare. Here’s how to do it right. Bring on the nationwide spending binge. Half of all people over 18 in the United States are now fully vaccinated. Tens of millions of them are emerging, blinking in the springtime sunshine, and heading straight for restaurants, movie theaters or a flight to somewhere — or anywhere, really.

It is true that millions of people are still trying to get their hotel jobs or theater gigs back. But collectively, Americans are holding on to a larger share of their income than they have in decades.

That leftover money is a kind of kindling. We may look back on this moment as a once-in-a-lifetime period, when many millions of Americans felt that money was burning actual holes in their pockets.

It is an unfamiliar sensation for many of us. “There is a puritanical streak that runs through all aspects of money in America,” said Ramit Sethi, an author who focuses more attention than most on spending well in addition to saving intelligently. “And most of the conversations start with no.”

But we should consider the strong possibility that saying yes right now could bring a true improvement in happiness. So this column — and another one next week — will be about maximizing it through strategic spending.

The conversation begins with “Yes, and … — with perhaps with a side order of “Yes, but …” To help us all get there, I called on some of my most thoughtful contacts among people who talk, think or write about money. And I made sure to ask them this: What are you doing yourself?

Brian Thompson, a financial planner in Chicago, was prepared for this moment. He generally has two questions at the ready: What do you want to spend your money on? And why are you really spending it?

There are no wrong answers, Mr. Thompson said. “I always come from the approach that there is no judgment, and I try to come with empathy to help people clarify what the money means for them,” he said.

Paradoxically, the first thing to think about here is saving. Paulette Perhach said it better than I could here in her classic 2016 article exhorting everyone to build a freedom fund. (“Freedom” is my word — she uses an F-bomb, if you’re trying to find it via internet search.)

Savings aren’t just for when your car breaks down or you get sick. Having a freedom fund means you are not beholden to someone else — whether that’s a significant other who is treating you like garbage or a boss who is harassing you or otherwise making you miserable.

“This is about power, and power comes in a lot of different forms,” Ms. Perhach, an essayist and a writing coach, told me this week. “It comes from options. From looking at life and making sure one person does not have so much say over the outcome of your finances that you would have to tolerate behavior that goes against your own self-respect.”

Every few years, I reopen my well-worn copy of “Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending,” a book from 2013 by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, for a review session. This time, I called Professor Dunn, a member of the psychology department at the University of British Columbia, to help me along.

A first principle of research in this area has generally been that buying an experience brings more satisfaction — and less buyer’s remorse — than buying stuff. In the years since the book was published, Professor Dunn said, this conclusion has largely held up for people with more money, though it can be less true for people farther down the socioeconomic ladder.

So what types of experiences should we be making a priority?

After a year marked by loss, I adopted a narrow approach focused on things that I might not have a chance to do again. I will never attend another John Prine concert or again eat food touched by the hands of Floyd Cardoz, both of whom were among the many we lost to the pandemic.

But there are things I can do instead that aren’t likely to recur, like attending my friend’s swearing-in ceremony as police chief in another state. And I’m prioritizing a trip with my daughters to the Great Barrier Reef (using approximately 9,000 years of frequent-flier mile savings) before it is no more.

Professor Dunn endorsed my plans, and the need to get out into the world again. “The only experiences I’ve been having are Netflix and DoorDash,” she said.

Professor Dunn lost her mother, Winifred Warren, to lung cancer in September and has a plan to celebrate her someplace other than a Zoom chat. Soon, she’ll get over the border to California and dine with her aunt and her mother’s best friend at the famed French Laundry — where Ms. Warren had been hoping to go herself, once she got better.

But just because so much fun seems available again all at once, it doesn’t mean you should pursue it all simultaneously. People who have reasonably high incomes — but the proclivity to go the immediate gratification route — can rack up quite a bit of debt,” Professor Dunn said.

Indeed, credit card issuers are licking their lips in anticipation of whatever orgy of spending ensues this year. Ms. Perhach found herself impulsively buying concert tickets recently and was inspired to pen a warning about the behavioral science of overspending for Vox.

The gratification doesn’t necessarily last long — and can even be wiped out by the dread of any new debt, she said. “I’ve done trips with an undercurrent of ‘I’m about to be in trouble,’” she told me this week. “And that’s not a great recipe for fun.”

If you are among the many lucky millions who are better off financially than you were at the beginning of 2020, consider how good it might feel to give something away.

Minnie Lau has spent much of the past year helping her accounting clients in the San Francisco Bay Area spend and save the windfalls from initial public offerings and other stock winnings in as tax savvy a manner as possible. Both they and she have done quite well. They did nothing wrong and have nothing to apologize for.

But amid so much death, fear and suffering, coming out ahead still leads to conflicted feelings. “My ill-gotten gains are going to the food bank,” Ms. Lau said of the money she has made investing this year. “People should not have to line up for food. Didn’t California just announce that it had a surplus? What kind of crazy world is this?”

Everyone else I talked to this week felt a similar urge. Professor Dunn recalled being overwhelmed with gratitude after receiving her coronavirus jab. Now, she’s a monthly donor to UNICEF’s vaccine equity initiative. Ms. Perhach is supporting VONA, which helps writers of color, while Mr. Sethi busted into his emergency fund to donate to Feeding America and match his readers’ donations.

Mr. Thompson, the financial planner, has given money to help people who are both Black and transgender — a segment of the population that he believes needs more help than most. And he’s redoubling his efforts at work to reduce the racial wealth gap.

“If I can help more people build more wealth to pass down, it is a way of serving my purpose and helping people in the process,” he said. “And I think that takes more than just giving. It means systemic change.”

Ron Lieber

 

 

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/

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Critics:

Money management is the process of expense tracking, investing, budgeting, banking and evaluating taxes of one’s money which is also called investment management. Money management is a strategic technique to make money yield the highest interest-output value for any amount spent. Spending money to satisfy cravings (regardless of whether they can justifiably be included in a budget) is a natural human phenomenon.

The idea of money management techniques has been developed to reduce the amount that individuals, firms, and institutions spend on items that add no significant value to their living standards, long-term portfolios, and assets. Warren Buffett, in one of his documentaries, admonished prospective investors to embrace his highly esteemed “frugality” ideology. This involves making every financial transaction worth the expense:

1. avoid any expense that appeals to vanity or snobbery
2. always go for the most cost-effective alternative (establishing small quality-variance benchmarks, if any)
3. favor expenditures on interest-bearing items over all others
4. establish the expected benefits of every desired expenditure using the canon of plus/minus/nil to the standard of living value system.

References

Why Emotionally Intelligent People Embrace The Rule of First Things First

I have a recurring nightmare. It goes like this: I’m 16 years old again, back on my old newspaper route. But there’s a major problem: I’m late. I’ve overslept. Now it’s 6:43, and I have 150 newspapers to deliver by 7:00 a.m. If I don’t, I start getting complaints. It’s an impossible task. A wave of immense anxiety immediately follows. Followed by a feeling of pressure, all over my body.

At this point, I usually wake up in a cold sweat–thankful that all of this was simply a dream, until … I realize the dream is related to a real-life situation. The true source of the anxiety, and a real-life feeling of “overwhelm-ed-ness.” After facing this situation over and over, I’ve discovered a rule that helps me to push through those negative feelings, move forward, and do what I need to do.

I like to call it “first things first.”

First things first

When I find myself in an “impossible paper route situation,” I tell myself:

Focus on first things first.

In other words, I narrow my view so as to focus on the first few things I need to do. This allows me to avoid getting overwhelmed by the sheer vastness of the situation, or the huge mountain of tasks before me.

Instead, I make a new list of only two or three things that I need to get done that day.

Then, I look only at the first one, and start chipping away.

First things first has many benefits, but here are four of them:

1. It keeps you moving.

When you have more work than you can handle, the temptation is to not do anything.

But by creating a new list of just two or three tasks, things look manageable again. You regain control of your emotions, allowing you to once more be productive.

2. It builds momentum.

Think about that feeling you experience once you finish a task. Then another. And another.

Next thing you know, you’re hooked. You see results, so you keep going–because at this point it’s easier to keep going than it is to stop. This is what famous psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes as “flow”–that highly focused mental state conducive to productivity.

Once you start building momentum …

3. You see more clearly.

In my nightmare, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, there is no tunnel. Just an unscalable mountain.

But once you start building momentum, you build the tunnel. Once you make enough progress, you can clearly see the path forward.

And once you see the path, it really starts to get good. Because now …

4. You believe.

Things are no longer dark.

The impossible task is no longer impossible.

Seeing the path forward turns into hope, and hope turns into reality.

Following the rule of first things first is how:

Entrepreneurs turn complex problems into simple solutions–and then build companies out of them.

Championship sports teams claw their way back from huge deficits.

Singers turn melodies into albums.

Authors turn words into books.

Artists turn sketches into masterpieces.

And paperboys finish their routes–even when they get very late starts.

Source: Why Emotionally Intelligent People Embrace the Rule of First Things First | Inc.com

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Critics:

Motivation is what explains why people or animals initiate, continue or terminate a certain behavior at a particular time. Motivational states are commonly understood as forces acting within the agent that create a disposition to engage in goal-directed behavior. It is often held that different mental states compete with each other and that only the strongest state determines behavior.

This means that we can be motivated to do something without actually doing it. The paradigmatic mental state providing motivation is desire. But various other states, like beliefs about what one ought to do or intentions, may also provide motivation.

Various competing theories have been proposed concerning the content of motivational states. They are known as content theories and aim to describe what goals usually or always motivate people. Abraham Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs and the ERG theory, for example, posit that humans have certain needs, which are responsible for motivation.

Some of these needs, like for food and water, are more basic than other needs, like for respect from others. On this view, the higher needs can only provide motivation once the lower needs have been fulfilled. Behaviorist theories try to explain behavior solely in terms of the relation between the situation and external, observable behavior without explicit reference to conscious mental states.

See also

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