Working Remote? These Are The Biggest Dos and Don’ts of Video Conferencing

Tim Robberts | Getty Images

As more and more businesses go remote, these are ways to be more effective and efficient on conference calls. Update: Since this story originally ran, the worldwide coronavirus outbreak has made video conferencing an essential component to keeping businesses running. This story originally ran in 2017, but the advice is as relevant as ever.

Here are 10 do’s and don’ts that I believe elevate the overall experience of a video conference.

Do: Mute your microphone whenever you’re not speaking — even if you’re alone in the room. Background noise can be an annoying distraction and stifle any meeting’s flow.

Do: Be aware of your video settings. Check if your microphone is muted before delivering a two-minute monologue that no one will hear.

Don’t: Position your camera too low, too high or hooked onto a different monitor. Weird camera angles can be very distracting — and unflattering — during video conference calls. Make sure your camera is eye level and on the monitor you plan to use for the conference.

Do: Make sure your room is well lit (side lighting is the best). Few things are worse than having a professional meeting while feeling like you’re talking to someone in a dungeon. Use natural light from windows or simply turn on the overhead light in the room to brighten up the conference.

Do: Wear appropriate clothing. I know it can be tempting — especially if you work from home — to wear a work shirt and athletic shorts but dress as if you’re meeting face to face. You never know if you’re going to have to get up suddenly or if your camera might fall. So wear clean, professional clothing for your video calls.

Do: Your wall art or decorations should be work-appropriate and your surroundings clean. If your room looks like a college dorm room after a bender, clean it or find a different room. This also includes your desk! Avoid having multiple coffee mugs, dishes and trash on the surface.

Do: Test your microphone before you video call, especially if it’s an important meeting. Test it by video conferencing your colleague before the meeting. Nothing is worse than trying to share something critical, and not being able to communicate clearly because your audio clarity and volume are poor.

Do: If you’re in a group call without video, introduce yourself before you talk. Consider something like “Hi it’s Jim, I have a question.” While several programs will notify you as to who is talking, conference line numbers will not. Therefore, be polite and introduce yourself.

Don’t: Check or read emails or peruse articles while on the video call. This also includes doing additional work beyond the call. It’s easy for other participant’s to tell if you aren’t fully focused and present during the video call.

Do: When you’re talking, look into the camera instead of looking at yourself talking on the computer screen. It will help others on the call feel like you’re 100 percent engaged and present.

It’s important to remember that video conferences are essentially in-person interactions that allow businesses to communicate more effectively.

By

Source: Working Remote? These Are the Biggest Dos and Don’ts of Video Conferencing

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The Weird and Wacky Things You Can Claim On Your Tax Return

Image Credit: The New York Public Library on Unsplash

This is the second in a three-part series on tax filing that looks at how business owners can maximize their tax savings. Here’s the first part.

It’s nearly the end of the tax year, and that can only mean one thing; it’s almost time to lodge your tax return.

Sure, it can be a stressful and time-consuming chore to get all your receipts together, even more so if you then choose to lodge your return yourself rather than using an accountant. Still, the chances are at the end of it, you’ll get a nice refund cheque back from the ATO to spend on your next holiday or to pay down your debt.

The key to maximising that refund is to make sure you claim all the deductions you’re entitled to. Most of those will relate to things you’ve purchased as part of your job or business. The general rule is that if a purchase is made to enable you to earn income or to operate your business, you can claim a deduction. Some of those deductions will be obvious, but some could be just a bit unusual….

Can you seriously claim a tax deduction for your pet pooch? Well, probably not. But there are circumstances where a deductible dog could be a real possibility.  If your business uses a guard dog to keep your premises secure, a dog is indeed deductible. It’s regarded as a capital asset of the business, and you can claim an immediate deduction for the whole cost using the very generous temporary full expensing tax break. Obviously, it needs to be a dog suitable for the purpose; a poodle is unlikely to cut it. The same logic applies to dogs on a farm, such as a sheepdog.

If you’re a professional performer (actor, musician, dancer, magician, circus performer, etc), there are all manner of strange deductions which you might look at claiming. Mime lessons? Absolutely. The cost of ceremonial swords? Certainly, if you’re a professional sword swallower. Acting classes, dance classes, musical instruments, magic tricks….if you make a living on stage or screen, a whole world of odd and interesting claims opens up to you.

Most offices these days have an array of pretty pictures dotted about the place, often in customer focussed spaces like reception areas and meeting rooms. Using the temporary full expensing tax break, you could be looking at an immediate tax deduction for your business for that fine canvas you’ve had your eye on. Just make sure it really is used in your business.

If the ATO finds out that the picture you claimed was in your office reception area is really hanging in your lounge room at home, your business will lose the deduction and end up paying more tax plus some interest and penalties! Again, provided they are used in a business context (perhaps as part of a communal recreation room in a factory or office), they should be deductible. If you just plan to put them in your own rumpus room at home, however, forget it!

It’s well established that you can claim a deduction for the tools you use in your trade. But depending on what your trade is, your tools could be very different to the hammers, spanners and drills usually claimed. If you work in the adult industry, you could be looking at a deduction for sex toys, lube, and “accessories”. You can only claim the business use element of course; if you use them in your personal activities, forget the tax deduction.

If you’re an exotic dancer, you could even consider a deduction for fake breasts; whilst we’re not aware of anybody making such a claim in Australia, it’s been successfully done in the USA, and there’s no reason in principle why it couldn’t be done under our law. Expect an awkward conversation with the ATO if you try it though. The key to claiming any tax deduction is to keep records such as invoices, receipts and bank statements.

If you are claiming something unusual, expect to be challenged by the ATO but if the way you earn your assessable income is aligned with the items you’ve claimed a deduction for, you should be OK, no matter how strange it is. And one final piece of advice; if in doubt about what you can claim, talk to a tax adviser at H&R Block, who’ll be able to give you specific guidance on your situation.

By: Mark Chapman

Source: The weird and wacky things you can claim on your tax return

Critics by eFile

See various ways to save money as well as how to save on taxes. Keep more of your money! Then, prepare your current year return on eFile.com and see how well your tax planning and saving went during the year – eFileIT.

Read below for various real-life scenarios to claim a tax break you may not have thought of.

  • Pets: There are some notable expenses you may be able to deduct relating to pets or animals:
  • Moving Expenses: If you lost your job and are relocating to start a new job, these moving expenses are tax deductible if you are an active duty military member or if you are an employee who has reimbursed expenses dated before January 1, 2019 and did not claim them on a prior tax return. The expense of moving your cat, dog, bird, or other pet from your old to new home is treated the same as moving your other personal properties.
  • Guard dog: If you have a dog that watched over your business location, pet care costs may be deductible as business expenses.
  • Pest control: A cat or other animal that keeps your business free of pests may come with deductible pet care expenses.
  • Foster or shelter volunteering: fostering animals may be eligible for charitable contributions and volunteer mileage is generally tax deductible.
  • Farming: the IRS may allow you to depreciate your farm animals as they age if they are used for breeding. The IRS once allowed a Louisiana farmer to depreciate the costs for his ostrich.
  • Service animal: expenses for a service animal may be deductible as medical expenses.
  • Cat Food Expenses: Under certain conditions, the cost of cat food might be considered a legitimate deductible expense. A junkyard owner bought cat food to attract local stray cats in order to drive away mice and rats. He claimed it as a business expense and it was approved by the IRS. The average house cat will likely not qualify because the cat would need to perform some task associated with the upkeep of a business.
  • Parenting, Lifestyle, Home:
  • Clarinet Lessons: A parent was able to deduct the expenses for clarinet lessons for her child because she claimed it corrected her child’s overbite. This was based on a 1962 case where an orthodontist argued that playing the clarinet helps correct a child’s overbite, thus allowing it to be claimed as a medical expense.
  • Babysitter Expenses: A mother claimed her babysitter expenses as a deduction because she was performing charitable deeds while she was away from her child. This would mean that you pay somebody to look after your child while you perform volunteer work for a charity. In this case, the tax court rejected and overruled an IRS revenue ruling when, despite not having the money go directly to a charity, a parent used the baby sitter expense as a charitable contribution while volunteering for a charity.
  • Leftover Wedding or Party Items: donated leftover decorations, food, flowers, or attire can be donated and may be deductible.
  • Family Wages Deduction: if you run a family business, wages you pay your kids may be deductible as business expenses.
  • Legitimate Business Expenses:
  • Cost of Body Oil: For one bodybuilder, it worked. He claimed a deduction for the cost of body oil that he used in competitions. The IRS didn’t seem to have any problem with this as it was a legitimate business expense.
  • Cost of Breast Implants: In 1994, one erotic dancer’s attempt to get more tips led her to undergo breast augmentation surgery. She then proceeded to deduct the expense from her taxes. A tax court judge ruled in favor of the dancer, stating that the implants were a stage prop, and thus a legitimate work expense that can be deducted.
  • Lawn Care Expenses: These expenses might be deductible, but your house will have to be your workplace and the state of your lawn would have to have relevance to the performance of your business. In one situation, a sole proprietor successfully deducted lawn care expenses as business expenses because he met his clients in his home office.
  • Private Airplane Expenses: A couple owned and rented out a condo that was a 7 hour drive away from their primary residence. To save time and money, they bought a private airplane and were able to deduct airplane expenses, like fuel and depreciation for business use, for the property management trips to their condo. However, it turned out that the expenses increased the overall loss on the rental condo.
  • Business Trips: Any business trip viewed as “ordinary and necessary” to the course of doing business by the IRS is eligible for a travel expense deduction. In one case, the owner of a dairy took a trip to Africa to conduct research on wild animals, and successfully claimed it as a business expense because it was relevant to his business.
  • Whaling Boat Repairs: Whaling boats need repairs and, since 2004, captains of whaling boats can deduct up to $10,000 for repairs, equipment purchases, and other expenses associated with the business. However, starting a whaling business to claim a deduction is not a smart move. Whaling is banned by the United States government and only certain Native American tribes are allowed to engage in it.
  • Medical Expenses:
  • Swimming Pool Costs: If you have a medical condition that would improve with a swimming pool exercise regimen, your swimming pool expenses might qualify as a deductible medical expense. This happened in the case of an arthritis patient who was prescribed to swim regularly in order to treat his condition. He installed a swimming pool on his property and deducted the expenses from his taxes. After some investigation, the IRS approved the deduction, but if the pool were used for recreational purposes, it wouldn’t have been approved.
  • Sex-Change Operation Expenses: A man who was diagnosed with gender-identity disorder (he felt he was a woman trapped in a male body) wanted to deduct almost $22,000 in out-of-pocket medical expenses for various surgeries—including hormone therapy, sexual-reassignment surgeries, and breast augmentation—in order to become a woman. The tax court decided that the hormone therapy and the sex-change operation in the amount of $14,500 was a qualified medical tax deduction. However, the expenses for the breast augmentation was not; it was deemed nondeductible cosmetic surgery by the court.
  • Medical Expenses to Quit Smoking: You might qualify to deduct expenses for smoking cessation programs, nicotine patches, stop-smoking aides, and other programs geared towards stopping smoking.
  • Costs for Getting in Shape: Weight-loss expenses may be deductible if a doctor signs off on it and claims that your life might be in danger if you don’t start exercising and lose weight. The cost for remedies that help you drop a few pounds, improve your heart rate, or reduce your cholesterol might all be deductible.

These people saved money by claiming deductions and taking advantage of tax breaks. Now, here are some more practical ways to save money on your taxes.

Strange Tax Breaks from Across the U.S. and Around the World

Find state specific tax breaks below as well as other stories from the United Sates and countries with their own tax codes.

  • States: many states have their own tax code which are often full of bizarre tax deductions and other rules.
  • In Wisconsin, cloth diapers are not subject to sales tax, but disposable diapers are.
  • In Texas, cowboy boots are exempt from the sales tax, but hiking boots are not.
  • In Ohio, a corpse in a mortuary gets makeup applied on it without getting taxed, but a living person is taxed for the makeup that gets applied in a beauty salon.
  • In South Carolina, one can get a $50 deduction if they donate a dead deer to the poor.
  • In Maryland, oyster farmers get a tax break, but those who farm other types of shellfish don’t.
  • Hawaii gives a $3,000 tax deduction to those who grow state-approved trees.
  • People who were persecuted by the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923 were exempt from taxes in California (learn more about the history of taxes in United States).
  • A business owner bought a racehorse and claimed it as a business expense. No, he was not in the horse-racing business; he claimed that he needed to entertain his clients and that a racehorse would do just that. The economic stimulus package allowed for a tax deduction as large as $25,000 to be claimed for buying a racehorse, but the deal expired without creating many new purchases.
  • In one case, the use of a yacht was deducted as a business expense because the owner tried to impress his customers and encourage them to do business. Maintenance and cleaning of the yacht, however, was not allowed to be deducted because the IRS code prohibits it.
  • One man who owned several properties hired his girlfriend to manage them. She looked for furniture for the houses, made sure the proper repairs were made, and managed his home. He was able to deduct $2,500 of the $9,000 he paid her as a business expense.
  • A dentist submitted fraudulent insurance claims. When the fraud was discovered, she was ordered to pay the money back as well as serve some time in jail. However, she was able to deduct her repayment to the insurance company as a business expense. That is because the repayment was done to compensate for a loss sustained by the insurance company and therefore was not considered a fine.
  • A man was arrested for drunk driving after he wrecked his car; he had waited to sober up—but obviously not for long enough. His insurance company refused to compensate him for the wrecked car because he broke the law. The driver, however, was able to deduct the cost of his car as a casualty loss because he acted reasonably. If he hadn’t waited to sober up, then it would have been gross negligence and thus nondeductible.
  • In 1981, a drug dealer from the Minneapolis area was caught in possession of large amounts of cocaine, amphetamines, and marijuana. He was arrested and later audited; the tax audit found that he owed $17,000 in taxes. The drug dealer argued that he should be able to deduct a significant amount of the back taxes as business costs incurred by running his business from his home. He was successful in getting a deduction, but still went to jail for drug possession.
  • A man working for a graphic design agency bought a pair of skis from Yamaha Snowmobiles, a company for which he was making a catalog. He used the company discount and then successfully deducted the skis as a business research expense.
  • A hair stylist successfully deducted the entire cost of her wardrobe that she wore while working with her clients as a business expense.
  • Across the world: various countries abide by their own tax code which has certain odd rules.
  • In Germany, one can deduct bribes. While the deduction is seldom used, it does exist as part of the tax code. All one has to do to report it is disclose their name and the name of the official that they bribed.
  • The United Kingdom gives tax breaks to video game companies that create “culturally British” games. The criteria for being culturally British is not very clear; the game must score a minimum of 16 out of 31 points on a test that has been designed to measure the cultural content and contribution of the game.
  • In the Netherlands, those who study and practice witchcraft can claim a tax break given out by the government. It has existed for quite some time, but in 2005 it gained the attention of the public after a judge upheld the tax break in court.
  • During the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, stadiums and businesses in the immediate area surrounding them were exempt from the value added tax as well as the income tax from profits. This allowed FIFA to keep more of the money for itself. Critics did not care for this measure, however, as it deprived the government of South Africa of tax revenue associated with the World Cup matches.
  • In Italy, almost a third of all men over 30 still live at home. To encourage them to move out, the government issued a 1,000 euro tax break to those who rent their homes. However, the problem is considered to be tied to the difficult job market in Italy that prevents young men from obtaining jobs that will support their independent lifestyles. Critics say it’s unlikely that the tax break will encourage many young Italian men to move out on their own.

Related contents:

How much will tax cuts save me? Has this economic strategy worked elsewhere? Will interest rates ever return to level… Sky News

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Money Has Never Felt More Fake

Calvin Becerra went viral earlier this year for a less-than-ideal reason. He got bamboozled out of what he claims is some $2 million in cryptocurrency and NFTs and complained on Twitter about the incident. Scammers pretended to be interested in buying one of his NFTs in a Discord channel and tricked him by saying they could help him fix a problem with his crypto wallet. During troubleshooting, they raided his wallet. The experience, he says, “felt like death.” He’s gone to great lengths to get the stolen digital assets back, paying hundreds of thousands more dollars to retrieve the tokens, including, most importantly, his three bored apes.

For many outsiders, it’s hard to grasp paying so much money for a trio of cartoon monkeys once, let alone twice. At some point, you’ve just got to let sunk cost be. But Becerra, 40, insists it’s worth it — he believes in NFTs, or at the very least, the moneymaking power of them. “They’re important to me because of the value that they will continue to increase by,” he says. “They’re huge.”

He’s right that NFTs — non-fungible tokens, little digital assets that exist on a blockchain — are having a moment. What’s not really clear is why. Then again, everything about money feels a little strange at the moment. Between NFTs, crypto, and GameStop, AMC, and other meme stocks, money has rarely felt more fake. Or, at the very least, value has rarely felt so disconnected from reality.

The concept of value is a fuzzy one, and valuation is often more art than it is science. Psychology has always played a role in money and investing — and there have always been bubbles, too, where the price of an asset takes off at a rapid pace and disconnects from the fundamental value. As Jacob Goldstein wrote in Money: The True Story of a Made-Up Thing, all money is sort of a collective myth. “Money feels cold and mathematical and outside the realm of fuzzy human relationships. It isn’t,” he wrote. “Money is a made-up thing, a shared fiction. Money is fundamentally, unalterably social.”

The social aspect is clear in much of what’s going on now, whether it be a group of investors on Reddit trying to take down a hedge fund betting against GameStop or people paying thousands of dollars to claim ownership of digital art they could effectively have for free. But why certain groups of people have trained their focus on certain items is hard to parse. Becerra insists there’s a utility to the apes — there’s merchandise, events, and he sees having them as the “new world flex,” like a watch or a nice car. “Everything’s hype, a social media world, right?”

Lately, the hype aspect of money has felt more true and important than ever.

It’s been a weird year in money

Historically, the economy was theoretically based on labor and value creation at the individual level, and on the structural level, voting shares in companies based on their financial fundamentals and future value, said tech industry veteran Anil Dash, CEO of the programming company Glitch. But that idea died long ago. “A machine is what it does, and the purpose of the system is the output of the system. And the purpose of our financial systems … is to create ever more detached financialization that can just generate what the industry calls wealth and what the rest of the world just doesn’t see.” In other words, the confusing status of value today is a feature, not a bug.

You can see this clearly in the markets in 2021. One of the first big stories of the year was the GameStop saga, and it was a fun one. An army of day traders on the Reddit forum r/WallStreetBets drove up the price of the game retailer’s stock in a matter of days, forcing halts in trading and costing some hedge funds that had been betting against the stock quite a bit of money. They rallied behind a guy who goes by Roaring Kitty; in one YouTube video about GameStop, he pretended to smoke a cigar while wearing a cat mask.

There have been all sorts of efforts to ascribe some bigger takeaway to the GameStop story — perhaps it was a populist uprising or a sign that there was something very broken in the market. But generally, most of the efforts to pull a concrete meaning out of GameStop fall flat. It was a relatively ephemeral incident where, as is often the case in investing, there were some winners and some losers. GameStop’s stock price has remained relatively high, compared where it was before January 2021, because enough investors have stuck around to keep it there.

GameStop has come to epitomize an era of meme investing, where ordinary investors are piling into stocks and cryptocurrencies and digital assets not necessarily because they believe in the underlying value of the thing they’re buying (though some do) but instead because it just seems like a thing to do. Dogecoin or NFTs or stock in theater chain AMC get popular online or in their social circles, and they turn around and think, why not?

“For a huge swath of the retail world, the mentality has merged of what is trading versus what is investing versus what is essentially just gambling,” said Tyler Gellasch, executive director of Healthy Markets, a nonprofit.

The scenario has generated quite a bit of fingerwagging from Very Serious People who say what’s going on is beyond the pale, that investing is supposed to be about underlying value and the real, tangible worth of a thing. NFTs and Shiba Inu coin, they say, are clearly fake. At the same time, so is so much of what’s going on in finance and the economy already — including the spaces the Very Serious People occupy.

During the 2008 financial crisis, for example, exotic financial instruments created out of subprime mortgages among Wall Street and banks helped take the economy down. They also revealed regulators to be asleep at the wheel. Very recent history makes it hard to take the Very Serious People in finance and government seriously as responsible stewards of the global economy. The financial industry has gone to great lengths to create new financial products with the potential to do more harm than good in the name of making more money.

“To have a boomer burn down the planet and then have them wag a finger that crypto’s bad for the environment? Please, that’s absurd,” Dash said.

“Money feeling strange in 2021 is based on a decade of money slowly feeling strange for lots and lots of different people throughout the world,” said Lana Swartz, an assistant professor of media studies at the University of Virginia who focuses on money. “We’re at a stage where the government and financial institutions are revealed to be less dependable than we ever imagined they would be, so why not YOLO?”

A made-up quote from a 2021 Onion article gets at the attitude:

NFTs might be bizarre speculative bullshit, but what isn’t? Aren’t we all just finding ways to turn everything that exists into something we can make money off of? I might be throwing away thousands of dollars on NFTs, but you’re throwing away thousands of dollars on TSA PreCheck or lottery tickets or donating to political candidates or raising children. Critics will say NFTs are wasteful and can be used for fraud and other crimes—fine, yeah, find me something that isn’t?

The view may be nihilistic, but in the current scenario, it isn’t entirely wrong. So much of the economy feels like a scam — the gig economy, student loans, the hope of retirement, a 9-to-5 job. Consumers are always being tricked and squeezed by corporations. The promise of the middle class is fading fast, so for a lot of people, it just feels like you might as well lean into whatever financial chaos is available to try to hit it big. If housing prices are so high you’re never going to be able to own a home, why not try your hand at real estate in whatever the metaverse is?

Crypto feels like a scam. So does a lot of the economy.

It’s easy to be dismissive of the current state of casino capitalism, where random people are just tossing random money at random anything. It’s also relatively easy to recognize that this landscape is likely to be one where there are few winners, and the winners are probably going to be the people who were already winning, financially.

“For every one person that makes money, you have 100 people that have lost money. It’s basically just a giant wealth redistribution scheme,” said Stephen Diehl, a software engineer in London who recently laid out a scathing and widely read critique of the crypto asset bubble. “Why it seems so fake is nobody can quite figure out what these things are, and they’re being presented to different people with different stories.”

Dash is one of the originators of the NFT concept, but he worries about the clearly fraudulent nature of some dealings in the market. “They had to coin the phrase ‘rug pull’ to describe the fraud that happens in NFT communities because that type of thing is so common. What does that tell you?”

Value is ultimately a story, one we tell to ourselves and to others. In the United States, we’ve convinced ourselves of the story of the dollar, which is backed by the full force of the US government. But it’s ultimately just a piece of paper. Cryptocurrencies and NFTs and AMC all come with their own stories, which, admittedly, can be on the kooky side.

There’s more to the current money landscape than dogecoin and meme stocks that makes the whole thing seem a little fake. The stock market soared during much of 2020 and 2021, even during the depths of the pandemic, making it hard not to wonder what the whole thing is for. The federal government was able to deliver a lot of money through monetary and fiscal relief to keep the markets — and regular people — afloat. It’s a lesson that when the government needs to find money, it can. But whether or not the influx makes money feel fake depends on your perspective.

“Isn’t this the year that money has felt most real?” said Mike Konczal, director of macroeconomic analysis at the Roosevelt Institute. “Child poverty cut in half, unemployment insurance capable of giving workers actual bargaining power for a change, real wage increases across the majority of people, wealth doubling in the bottom 50 percent.”

It’s a strange place we’re in, which might explain why these tangible improvements don’t seem to dislodge national feelings of alienation. The state of the world and the economy can feel really hopeless. There’s mass distrust in institutions and in government, and economic mobility is increasingly hard to achieve. We’re in the midst of a pandemic that doesn’t look like it’s ever going to really end. NFTs feel like a scam, but then again, so does everything.

Becerra appears determined to stick with NFTs, despite having been very publicly scammed. After all, he’s gone to great lengths to get his bored apes back. When he talks about them, he vacillates between speculator and true believer, in one moment saying he plans to sell them if the price gets high enough, in another talking about them with quite a bit of affection.

“I’m not holding this forever. I don’t care about those apes that much, you know?” he said. He knows the hype could fade. Maybe that will take the sudden value of his cartoon monkeys with it; maybe it won’t. However, he considers the apes to be “blue chip” NFTs, a designation that in the stock world would put them on the same level as well-established major corporations such as Apple and Berkshire Hathaway. “That’s why someone like me, who has money, invests only in the blue-chip ones.”

Most of this is probably a bubble

Becerra, who describes himself as a motivational speaker, high-performance coach, and entrepreneur, compares the current moment in crypto to the 1990s. “This is our dot-com boom,” he said. Of course, the dot-com boom ended in a bust.

It’s impossible to look at what’s happening in investing now and not think that that the prices on many of these assets are divorced from their actual worth. The value of random NFTs and cryptocurrencies skyrocket seemingly out of nowhere, sweeping up hundreds and thousands of people in the process. Sometimes, the bubbles burst fast because the investment falls out of fashion or it winds up being a pump-and-dump scheme, where fraudsters are creating a buying frenzy around certain assets only to suddenly dump them and flee. The broader crypto bubble is still inflating.

If NFTs and crypto, as a concept, prevail, it’s unlikely all of the current projects and fads will. Everybody’s hoping they’ve got a golden ticket, or at least a gold-plated ticket, that they can sell before everyone else realizes what they’ve got is a fraud. Some people in the industry acknowledge that most of this stuff is likely to implode.

“The parallels with the dot-com boom are very apt, the reason being that like 99 percent of these coins out there are going to be worth zero in 10 years. But the ones that remain, the companies that remain … those are going to survive and create long-lasting things that change our lives,” said Jim Greco, managing director of crypto trading at Radkl, a digital trading firm. “Amazon survived the dot-com boom.”

If you buy into the idea that a lot of this investing is pretty divorced from reality, then the question is how long this lasts. For now, the music’s still playing, so people are dancing. How long the song keeps going depends on how long the people holding onto the assets can keep singing.

“It’s really incumbent on people who hold these investments to perpetuate their value, whether that’s through evangelizing to other people or by building systems to make it usable and useful and relevant,” Swartz said. “But then in order to realize the value, to translate it into money, you have to sell it.”

If and when the bubble around some of these hyped investments bursts, a lot of people are going to get hurt and lose money. In NFTs, evidence suggests those who are already wealthy and powerful are the ones ruling the roost, just like in the stock market. While there are true believers in crypto projects, so much of it is just speculation, and venture capitalists and hedge funds are more likely to win the speculation game than the little guys caught up in the mania.

Hilary Allen, a law professor at American University who specializes in financial regulation, said the risk around so many speculative and contrived investments on the market is more tied to the potential ripple effects. Essentially, is the current moment the dot-com bubble or the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis?

“If it’s just a dot-com bubble, it sucks for the people who invested,” she said. “But if it’s 2008, then we’re all screwed, even those of us who aren’t investing, and that’s not fair. It really depends on who’s getting into this and how integrated it’s getting with the rest of the financial system.”

Emily Stewart

Emily writes about the intersection of business, politics, and the economy. She is specifically interested in how people experience the forces of capitalism and money. Prior to joining Vox, Emily covered politics at The Street, including the rise of Donald Trump and the stock market’s reaction to politics and policy. She graduated from Columbia University and resides in Brooklyn, New York.

Source: From crypto to meme stocks to NFTs, money has never felt more fake – Vox

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The 7 Weaknesses That Could Be An Entrepreneur’s Hidden Strengths

 

Have you ever been told to turn it down a notch? To back down or chill out? To be less loud, less daring, less weird? Have you ever been worried you’re too much to handle or that you come across as a tad full on? Have you ever been called intense, obsessed or rebellious?

In a world mired in conformity, standing out makes you a target. Most people just want to keep their head down and be part of the herd, so those who dare to be different often find themselves on the receiving end of disapproval, even punishment.

Schooling teaches us to stay in line. Social media stomps on anyone who expresses an unpopular opinion. Managers flag personality quirks as weaknesses and advise you to “work on them” in performance reviews. After a while, even if you have brilliant visions of the future and the execution to match, it can become tempting to keep your head down and your dreams small.

But what if those perceived weaknesses were actually your biggest source of strength? What if the qualities that seem provocative are really your superpowers? That’s what Sunny Bonnell and Ashleigh Hansberger think, and in their book RARE BREED: A Guide to Success for the Defiant, Dangerous, and Different, they make the case that the world’s oddballs, mavericks and troublemakers are often its creative geniuses and change agents.

As founders of leadership and brand consultancy, Motto, that has worked with brands including Virgin, Google, Microsoft, Hershey’s and Twentieth Century Fox, Bonnell and Hansberger put forward that such weaknesses should be celebrated, and that entrepreneurial geniuses tend to be the ones who don’t fit in and aren’t afraid to stand up and speak their minds.

Bonnell and Hansberger call these people Rare Breeds. The duo says that thinking with a rare breed mindset enables entrepreneurs to demand more of themselves, their careers, and their companies. I interviewed Bonnell about the seven rare breed virtues often considered vices.

Rebellious

The rebellious kids in school often found themselves in detention. They were reprimanded for disturbing others, labelled as difficult and their prospects were limited because they couldn’t sit still, be quiet or follow instructions. In business, however, a rebellious streak can be a huge advantage.

“Rebel leaders have zero tolerance for ‘we’ve always done it this way’ thinking,” explained Bonnell. “They push against authority, precedent, and tradition. They hurl themselves against the walls of business-as-usual to see what breaks and they hold the key to innovation.” Rebels question and test with no regard for ego, leading to the breakthroughs that others miss.

Audacious

Cheeky, cocky, above their station. Audacity can be synonymous with arrogance, not an endearing trait for winning friends and influencing people. But Bonnell says it’s a key tool in the entrepreneur’s toolbox, held by rare breeds, who are “brimming over with nerve and audacity.”

This unashamed audacity means they “see realities other people can’t see. They have the sense that they have capabilities others lack and they’ll gleefully dare the impossible, especially if you tell them it’s impossible.” Daring to attempt the impossible is what separates those who create the future from those who are surprised by it.

Obsessed

Not only is obsessed a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated, but the term is also synonymous with entrepreneurs who go on to be successful. Obsession is a badge of honour they wear with pride, not something to be embarrassed by.

According to Bonnell, obsessed rare breed entrepreneurs “are the ones all-in, always on, 24/7” and it shows in everything they do, whether it’s “practicing pitch lines in the shower, scribbling equations on the walls of the shower, or agonizing over punctuation.” This obsession, over time, leads to greatness.

Hot-blooded

Villains in movies are hot-blooded. The phrase is usually associated with violence, anger and a lack of control. But for rare breed entrepreneurs, explains Bonnell, this trait can work in their favour. Hot blooded individuals have “passions that run so deep nothing else matters. They’re activists, champions, avengers, and people you don’t want to cross.”

No one sleepwalked their way to changing the world. No one passively made a huge difference. No one reached new heights with zero effort. Hot-bloodedness, a hunger for more and being raring to go, when channelled in the right way, can be a resounding advantage. How are you using your drive?

Weird

Throughout schooling, being labelled as weird was social suicide. Weird was not the goal, mainstream was. Popular, universally liked, with plenty of friends. Weirdness meant eating alone, being picked last and having no date for prom.

In entrepreneurship, however, weird is desirable. According to Bonnell, weird rare breeds are often “unapologetic oddballs who hang out at maker fairs and comic cons. They see the world from odd angles and through strange filters, they think around corners and make ridiculous intuitive leaps.” They don’t care about fitting in and being normal, they feel lonely in crowds but at home with fellow geeks. Geeky and weird are the new cool, but not all are confident enough to embrace their quirks.

Hypnotic

Intense and severe with a penetrating gaze sounds more like a scary headmaster than an inspirational entrepreneur. Whilst leaders might wish to seem relaxed, friendly and in touch with reality, the best can apply their hypnotic charm.

Many great entrepreneurs were said to be hypnotic in their approach. Steve Jobs had his “reality distortion field,” which convinced his team to achieve the impossible on many occasions. Whilst this can be interpreted as manipulative, it wasn’t intentional.

His unwavering passion made hypnosis inevitable. Bonnell said hypnotic rare breed entrepreneurs often have “disconcerting levels of charisma” and “find it easy to sway and spellbind others up to—and sometimes, beyond—the point of manipulation.” Leaning into your hypnotic powers might bring your team to your level of certainty in your cause.

Emotional

Emotional, in business, has connotations of irrational and unreasonable. If you argue with your heart, you lose your head. Remaining cool, calm and collected in the boardroom is seen as desirable. Losing your temper, crying at work or being affected by news are weaknesses to be strengthened.

Bonnell puts forward that wearing their heart on their sleeve could be an entrepreneur’s hidden strength. Leaders who “weep at everyone’s pain but also find joy in the small things” might unlock new ways of amassing a tribe, inspiring a team and creating a culture of openness. Emotion, empathy and vulnerability could be the source of leaps forward in your business.

Navigating your notorious personality traits can lead to incredible breakthroughs and triumphs in business and in life. Reframing your weaknesses as strengths might be the source of unlimited success and the happiness you didn’t know was possible.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

I founded a digital agency in 2011 that was acquired in 2021 and write books and articles on entrepreneurship. Books include Daily Me, Stop Acting Like You’re Going to Live

Source: The 7 Weaknesses That Could Be An Entrepreneur’s Hidden Strengths

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5 Reasons Why You Should Care About iOS 15

Surprisingly, last week is the first in a while that Apple Beta Program participants didn’t see a new build of iOS 15. Public Beta 8 was released two weeks ago, with the anticipation that the golden master would be released to testers a week after.

That didn’t happen. Instead, all signs point to the golden master being released this week in conjunction with the Apple iPhone event happening tomorrow, September 14. It might even skip “golden master” altogether and go straight to public release later this week.

So soon, everyone will get their hands on iOS 15. Some of the tentpole features, like the updated Maps app, redesigned Safari, and “all new” Notifications are either underwhelming or controversial. Plus one of its biggest features, Shareplay, which lets you share your media during FaceTime calls, is sidelined till iOS 15.1. So why should you care about the latest OS from Apple?

Here are five things that you’ll actually use that make iOS 15 worth getting excited about.

1. iCloud+ Makes Browsing More Secure

OK, boring stuff out of the way first. Everyone says they want to be more secure but no one actually cares. They share their email. They reuse passwords. They connect to any WiFi hotspot, even if its name is “H4CK3R-4-LYFE.”

Apple’s iOS has had strong password suggestions for a while now, but iOS 15 goes even further to keep you from your own worst habits. iCloud+ has a Private Relay feature that acts like a virtual private network (VPN). Basically, it hides the location of where you’re connecting  to the internet and who you are, even from Apple. You can’t use it like a regular VPN to spoof a location (say, if you’re trying to convince Netflix you’re in a different global region). But if you’re advanced enough to be doing that, you probably don’t need Private Relay to begin with. This feature is for those who want to be safer online but don’t want to mess with the nuts and bolts.

Hide My Email is the iCloud+ feature that you’ll actually notice and use. Rather than provide your real email to every random form and newsletter on the internet, this will let you mask your email with a fake address that’s then routed to your iCloud email address.

2. It’s Easier To Find Things Shared With You

“Oh, I’ve seen that trailer. My buddy shared it with me. One sec.”

Scroll, scroll, scroll

“Hmm. Maybe not him? Maybe my brother?”

Scroll, scroll, scroll

“Not him either. Huh. Um. I know I’ve got it. Hold on…”

Sound like a familiar scenario? With so many links, photos, and videos being shared with us on a daily basis, it’s easy to lose track of just what we’ve received and from whom. That’s why the persistent Shared With Me category in iOS 15 is an absolute gift. Now, there’s a whole list of shared links available when opening a new tab in Safari. Looking for pictures?

The Photos app has a shared category as well. Same with the TV and Music apps. Granted, the last two probably won’t see as much use but it’s still nice to have a convenient list of things that you want to check out in the app where you’ll most likely use it.

Speaking of sharing, if you frequently share multiple photos in Messages, they’re now organized in an aesthetically-pleasing stack. It’s a minor, but welcome, change.

3. Photos Are Way Better

The Photos app gets some major quality of life improvements in iOS 15. The auto-generated memories are better and seem to surface more of the images you care about. They can also use real music from your Music app! Now if you want to use Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend” for that memory about your dog, you can, rather than being stuck with generic upbeat instrumental music.

Photos are smarter as well, letting you dive deep into images and identify things like animals, plants, locations, and people. Plus you can finally copy text from images! No more flipping back and forth between an image and Safari to enter the name of that weird restaurant that you took a picture of. Select the text in the image, then copy, paste, and search. It’s especially useful for those acquaintances that love to send you screenshots of web pages rather than the actual web page address.

4. Anyone Can Join FaceTime Calls

FaceTime is a lot of fun but until now it’s been an Apple-only affair. With iOS 15 you can create a share link that lets anyone join your FaceTime call from their browser, no matter what device they’re on. Of course, if you’re joining that FaceTime call from an iOS device, there are all kinds of new enhancements to calls – better audio, video, and, eventually, real-time screen sharing. It’s like Zoom, but more focused on the social. If you prefer to do your FaceTime calls via Memoji, you’ll appreciate the new clothing options (among other new customizations).

5. Focus Lets You Instantly Transform Your Phone

Do Not Disturb and Sleep Mode were wonderful innovations that helped us wrest time back from our phones. The new Focus mode is like that, but with even more utility. Now, instead of just silencing notifications, you can create an entire home screen just for that mode.

Want to have a Fitness mode that surfaces weather, workout, and health widgets, plus your fitness and music apps? Create it and when you activate the Fitness focus mode, your phone will transform. You can also set it to let people know that you’re working out (or driving or whatever). And while there are several different types recommended, you can also make your own. It’s an easy way to embrace task-based layouts.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are even more features coming to your phones when iOS 15 is released to the public later this week. Be sure to tune in to the Apple keynote tomorrow to check out the iOS 15 release announcement (and all the new iPhones!).

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

I’ve been writing about technology, gadgets, and pop culture back before Apple had even thought of the iPhone. I’ve seen the rise and fall (and rise again) of Apple. I’ve watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate… In addition to Forbes.com, I am a contributor at TheRoarbots.com. As a technical writer, I specialize in deciphering the undecipherable, untangling the kraken-like documentation tangles that software companies find themselves in, and teaching users how to successfully navigate their products on the other side. I also enjoy playing in superheroic worlds of my own creation (you can find out more about my fiction endeavors at AnthonyKarcz.com). You can find me on Twitter (@sunstreaker84), Facebook, and Google . If there’s something you want to see me tackle, drop me an email at: anthonyATanthonykarczDOTcom.

Source: 5 Reasons Why You Should Care About iOS 15

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