Tag Archives: online resources

Keeping Skills Sharp: Is Online Learning for You?

You can’t ignore it. Competition is ever present in the business world, and you have to stay sharp and alert to deal with threats and to seize opportunities. To do both, you not only need information, but the understanding and discernment to use that information to check which way the wind is blowing.

One way to refine your mastery regarding your niche, your customers, and your market, is to study. Not just do research, but  using the path of deliberate, self-paced, self-directed education to promote your growth and experience inside and outside of your business,  to promote both depth and reach.

Fortunately, we have an over-abundance of choices now.  You  won’t even be strictly required to  enroll unless you think it’s the best option for you. With all the free resources available, at the most basic level, if you have stable internet access, the time, and the perseverance, you can start as soon as you want.

Things have become very much interconnected in our world today;  Even a small event happening far away can ripple out in unexpected ways. Change comes faster, and entrepreneurs are hard-pressed to keep up and manage all the shifts, side-steps, and set-backs that come from that. Continuing education is a great help in learning to use change to our advantage — but you still have to be the one to choose.  This isn’t high school any more.  No one can choose for you, and you have to do the work or it simply won’t get done. Continue reading Keeping Skills Sharp: Is Online Learning for You?

Making the Leap From Employee to Entrepreneur

22 September 2012, by A. Cedilla

How do you lay the foundations for a new business — one of your very own — while you’re still employed?

  • You’ve been thinking about it for quite a while now. Especially on those days when it seems everyone in your office (and out of it) is breathing down you neck with their impatient follow-ups for Things Owed, Things Past Due, and Things They Need Right Now. When you hit your limits, you just want to shut them out, or snipe at them to shut up, and just walk away.
  • You long for the freedom to pick your own hours and sleep when you need to, instead of trying not to suffocate in traffic. You want to be happy on Mondays, not morose on Sundays because, yes, you guessed it, tomorrow’s a Monday. You don’t want to keep doing what you’re doing now. You want to make something new, do things your own way.
  • You want something more. You want to be in charge of your life and where it goes, and you believe having your own business is the way to do it. And something is just telling you it’s time to make a serious change.

And you’re making plans to do so.

On your lunch break you fill pages with scribbles about your ideas, and draw a lot of contingency plans. After work you squeeze all the free time you can into doing the research, making contacts, crunching the numbers, and preparing the paperwork. As you plan, you keep working. You know you have a great idea, but it takes time to get things up to speed, since you still need to work and save some fall-back money, and well as store up more capital for your business idea.

What else can you do to make the break easier for everyone concerned? Continue reading Making the Leap From Employee to Entrepreneur

How Do You Play The Game?

14 July 2012, by A. Cedilla

“Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.” – Voltaire

Face it, we really do work better when we have a clear view of what we have and how much of it is there. For example, take deadlines.

One rather immature way of dealing with a deadline is procrastination. It’s exciting and intense to do things at the last minute–ohmygodthePRESSURRRE!!--but then again dealing with the fall-out and the let-down afterward can be quite wearing after a while, not to mention the havoc it plays on schedules and other activities you’d rather be doing.

When you have only this much of something, you pay attention to how you use it, and when you use it. This applies to everything –time, money, energy, tasks.

It’s a mind game, a test of will, mental agility and focus: to make do with what you have in order to to get you what you want. Ever hear the one about a boatman needing to transport a goat, a wolf and a bag of cabbages across the river*? It’s something like that, only more complicated. Continue reading How Do You Play The Game?

A Postscript to Education

30 October 2011, by A. Cedilla

A while back we posted the following entries:

  • Free Classes Online! (Or, Rethinking Education) – “Hard times do ease up, however, and while you can’t predict the future, you still decide your own fate. You do what you can to keep going, and if that means going for more education, you still have options.”
  • Taking Action (Rethinking Education 2) – “There’s no time better than the present to train yourself to being flexible and open to change. This is something you have to teach yourself, and no course or college can give it to you.”

While these articles touched on the various choices available today for people looking to continue their education, today’s discussion touches on a different aspect of the issue:

  • One, what does it mean “to be educated”?
  • And two, what will it mean to educate yourself?

What does it mean, to be “educated”?
This is a very old question, and one which has been hotly debated by the great minds of history, but for today, What Must An Educated Person Know? (The Personal MBA) is an excellent staring point.

Usually when people talk about “getting an education”, they’re talking about college, when in fact college is an institution that facilitates education but isn’t a guarantee of it (face it, we’ve met people with very nice degrees who can’t handle PowerPoint, or exhibit common street-sense).

In the article, things like majors, extra-curriculars and internships aren’t even touched on. According to Joshua Kaufman, being educated is all about skills acquisition and practice. Continue reading A Postscript to Education

Taking Action (Rethinking Education 2)

27 August 2011, by A. Cedilla

Part one of “Rethinking Education” is a starting point meant to show you just some of what’s available online in terms of free educational opportunities.

This follow-up focuses on the planning and action phase, and one very important factor to consider is this: you need a new approach to getting and continuing your education, wherever you decide to take it.

  • You need a degree to get to the next level in your organization, but you’re already working full-time.
  • You need a degree, but you’re not sure which one would really help.
  • You have a degree, and it’s not paying off the way you thought it would, so you want to get another one.

A) Rethinking Education

“Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” – Einstein

Rethinking in this context is not to rehash, but to look at the issue from another level. Assuming you’ve gone through basic elementary schooling, however long ago, you have to understand that the way you learned things then is different from the way you’re expected to do things now. The old systems can’t handle the demands of the emergent new reality. You can’t exclusive rely on old methods of learning when you’re expected to adapt to the changes facing you now.

Many brick-and-mortar schools are accused of inflating the employment rate of their graduates to attract more students. Online schools, on the other hand, still have to battle the image of being diploma mills, studying “online” not being seen as serious as “actually going to college.” Education is in a slow state of flux, and while it’s changing, we still have to figure out what we want to learn while the old rules are breaking down. Continue reading Taking Action (Rethinking Education 2)

Free Classes Online! (Or, Rethinking Education)

20 August 2011, by A. Cedilla

We’re all going through some really hard times right now. What with the current economy and the job market being flooded, it’s hit and-and-miss-miss-miss when you send out resumes or answer want ads. People are expected to do more work for longer hours at whatever pay they can negotiate for, and nobody can help it, it is what it is.

An article in the New York Times states that an M.A is the new bachelor’s degree. Ph.D’s, M.A’s and B.A holders are competing fiercely over available positions and job openings, and even when you get a foot in the door, you can be turned down for being over-qualified for one job and yet not be qualified enough at another.

What do you do?
For those who can still afford to, one tactic is to go back to school –or stay in school longer — to A) Wait out the flooded job market while getting their degrees or B) Train in another field and get more marketable skills

First Issue: Student loans…

Which lead to the second issue: Little to no money to spare.
If you’re already burdened with any kind of financial obligation, the thought of adding more to it is unthinkable. The phrase “buried in debt” is only the tip of the iceberg.

Hard times do ease up, however, and while you can’t predict the future, you still decide your own fate. You do what you can to keep going, and if that means going for more education, you still have options. Here are some articles to get you thinking about how to approach the issue. They all have numerous links to schools and universities that offer on-line courses, many for free.

Note from the source: “OEDb currently contains reviews of 1,024 programs from 83 accredited online colleges. […] our database only lists accredited online colleges so that you can be sure that these degrees will be respected by potential employers. Our database allows you to sort reviews by program, college, or degree level.”

A side-issue: Little to no time
Many reputable schools and universities have their own version of free online courses (YMMV, of course, check the LifeHacker link). But, as always, TANSTAAFL. In everything you do, you get what you put in. You want an education, and whether it’s free or as cheap as you can get it, you still have to make the time to actually study. No excuses.

You can also get college credits for what you already know. CLEP accreditation ( CLEP stands for College-level Examination Program) is one way of getting accreditation for skills and talents you’re already practicing. Fluent in a second language? Already working? Looking to shift fields? You would be one of many who choose to leverage life experience into educational advancement.

What I hope you take away with from this article is this: You are more than the circumstances in your life and you don’t have to let them define you.

If you’re unsure — you can’t, you don’t have the money, you don’t have the time, etc — then take the time to sit down and think, really think, about the choices you still can make to better yourself, if not change your situation (yet, anyway).

You’re not powerless.

Or worthless.

Assess your situation, see what needs to be done to make it better, and take a good look at the activities that are pulling you down.

Still here?

So, you want to go back to school. What do you want to walk away with? Do you want to save money? Increase your hire-ability by a skills-upgrade? You want to follow your passion?

If all you want is to save money you don’t have to have go back to school to do it. You can just polish your skill-set in the areas of your life where you can save a buck. For example , TooTiredTeacher has a few easy recipes up on YouTube, and she’s just one of many, many people who freely share cooking lessons. Taper off the take-out, learn to cook, and you can save money.

You can also look into acquiring more handy skills like changing the washer in a faucet, or fixing leaks. Check this out: Types of Skills Everyone Should Know (Popular Mechanics).

 

Passion is great, but it’s not a guarantee you can pay the bills. Cal Newport has quite a few things to say about passion at his blog, StudyHacks.

Free-Ed.net says it best: Formal education is not sustainable for a lifetime, but lifetime learning is essential for surviving today’s volatile job market and tomorrow’s long period of “retirement.”

Go visit the links, read on a bit about how other people are dealing with the situation, and in part two we’ll discuss what practical steps you can take to get the learning you’re after.

Like this article? Found it helpful? Bookmark Jrox Entrepreneur for more helpful articles, and visit Jrox.com to learn more about Affiliate Marketing and get access to your own Affiliate Software and eCommerce Shopping Cart.

 

How To Sell Your Brain

13 June 2011, by A. Cedilla

Getting data straight-up from the Information Highway can be like trying to drink from a fire-hose. You’re more likely to drown than get your thirst fully satisfied, so the SOP is to skim the first few results from Google search, then make your way from there.

As it is, for a consumer it’s all you can do to keep your head above water when it comes to timely and relevant information, aside from filtering out junk mail and spam. As for managing the information you do consider important enough to keep — there’s an entire industry devoted to helping you do just that.

As an entrepreneur, however…you have heard the saying about the staggering growth of information in the world, right?

New stuff comes up all the time. YouTube has been reported to host 100 million video streams per day, and that’s just one site. A New York Times book-review expounded on the glut of data, which has led people to entertain a “[…] sense of information that enables [them] to claim that a copy of the daily New York Times contains more information than the average 17th-century Englishman encountered in a lifetime.”

But even if the anecdote is apocryphal, you have to admit it paints a very vivid image. So where are you in all of this? What about your brain?

Stay with me.

Centuries ago, a hand-copied, leather-bound book was like a sports car. Only the rich had the wealth to buy books, and the measure of your fortune could be gauged by how many you had. A shelf of books was akin to having Jay Leno’s garage. A library? You belonged to one of the elite families of the time, or were possibly a member of a religious order in charge of copying books by hand and keeping them safe. Even if you couldn’t read them well, if you had books, you had power.

Now, you have technology, education, and access to both via the internet. You’re reading this, aren’t you? Stay with me, I’m setting it up. Here we go:

  • If power is force applied to action, and “knowledge is power”, then knowledge without application is data. Information, out of touch and out of context is useless. Trivial. What’s the deciding factor?

Your brain. To be precise, how you use it to apply the information and stored experience you have to resolve specific issues. You learn, you can share what you’ve learned. {more}To wit:

  • Flylady.net offers cleaning schedules, e-reminders and advice on how to lead an organized life in a clutter-free house, as well as a forum where members can share their problems and offer solutions and support.
  • Study Hacks shares insightful advice on how to study with the least amount of pain for the most gains. In addition, Cal Newport, the blog owner, also makes it a mission to help people figure out their priorities and real goals in getting the education they want.
  • The Simple Dollar‘s Trent Hamm gives financial advice on issues such as saving on home-made meals to the best kind of insurance to get at different stages of your life. He also shares his experiences and history in applying the things he’s learned to his personal finances, documenting his insights from when he was single, to his current life as a married father of three.

Each of these sites fulfill a need for people who have despaired of dealing with clutter, establishing good study habits, and taking care of personal finances. Their popularity lies in the value of the common-sense, real-life applicability of the solutions they offer and the insights they share. So, it’s not your brain per se that we’re aiming to profit off of, it’s the orderly information that you’ve synthesized from what’s in it.

Still with me? Do you see where I’m headed with this?

No one knows everything. No one can.

Knowing means understanding at one level. Wisdom means using the insight gleamed from the patterns of understanding to resolve or view a situation. So while you can’t know everything, you can know enough to use the patterns you’ve absorbed to put more order into the universe. You’ve got wisdom — insight. You can share it , you can pass it on …and you can also profit from the process.

The internet is a world-wide web — of data and people. One person can have terrabytes of data just for his personal collection, video, music, photos, work related data and personal projects, so how much data would you estimate is accessible on the Internet? Petabytes? Exabytes? How much are we talking about?

This is how and where you can sell your brain. The ocean of data out there is too big for any one person to master effectively. That’s why we have niches and communities. Like minds gravitate to each other, sharing experience and information of the things that interest them. If they can’t find the information they need, they go looking for it — and there’s a big ocean out there, remember — so when they look, they look for a source of relevant, helpful information.

This is where you come in.

Okay, you have an issue in your life. An issue, an interest, a hobby, a crusade, whatever. Let’s call it a Guffin.

You love your Guffin, and want to tell people all about it.

You despise your Guffin, and wish nothing more in the world than to make sure no one else gets to experience having the same Guffin in their lives. Failing that, you want to assure other people that they’re not alone in having that particular Guffin afflicting them, and that there are ways to deal with them.

You think Guffins are awesome and deserving of more study, so you want to talk to other people with like-Guffins. In your interest, hobby, crusade, you learn the ins and outs of your particular Guffin.

That’s what you have: distilled experience in your particular Guffin. When you make an effort to understand the nature of your Guffin, you put in the time and mental labor (thinking, obsessing, pondering, planning, visualizing etc.) and physical labor (drafting, making, writing, producing, etc. )

“Can you explain in a way that people can easily understand?” Answering the question asks you to go back to your experience and training in analyzing, deciphering and distilling the relevant information into a usable picture, and then present it . The entire process asks you to use the following skills:

  • Analyze and decipher – One meaning of decipher, aside from “decrypting code”, is to render something cryptic or unintelligible into something understandable.
  • Present and communicate – Presentation skills get attention and keeps it. Communication skills share in a concise, coherent package.

Knowledge and experience allows you to summarize by identifying usable relevant data on which to base an assessment and recommending a course of action. You learn by experience, and that takes time. You don’t have the time? Find someone who put his time in and ask him.

OR, if you’re that person who put in the time, you can set yourself up as the Go-to Guy, using this equation:

(Time + Knowledge) Experience = Expertise

Where knowledge leads to a developed insight, a learned “gut”, and experience molds a unique perspective, a feel for the subject like no one else. And experts get paid for their advice about Guffins.

They can fill in the missing pieces, explain what’s happening behind the scenes, give possible solutions and recommend the best option. Teachers in trade schools impart their skills and experience to their students. Financial experts use theirs to track trends, predict them, and try to stay ahead in the markets. Writers reach out to their readers on their websites and blogs.

The ways in which you can communicate your skills and knowledge over the internet are varied, and depend on your strengths and the purpose of your website, as well as the value of what you’re offering.

And that’s how you can sell your brain.

Like this article? Found it helpful? Bookmark Jrox Entrepreneur for more helpful articles, and visit Jrox.com to learn more about Affiliate Marketing and get access to your own Affiliate Software and eCommerce Shopping Cart.

Save Money, Spend Time

28 February 2011, by A. Cedilla

It’s very easy to take advantage of all the many conveniences that modern technology and services offer. Drive-through’s and delivery services, fast food, concierge services, convenience stores, on-line banking and shopping …you don’t even have to leave your house. And if you’re going on vacation, you can even get house-sitting services, and pet-sitters for your fanged, feathered or furry darlings.

Now, if you’re the type who thinks nothing of using services like these because you’re on a level of financial security where you can afford not to think about it, that’s cool.

But if you’re burdened by a nagging feeling that you’re working to pay for the life you have yet to live — being so busy working you have no time to spare to enjoy the life you’re working for — then you need to take some time to think about what you’re doing.

A few hours of study and preparation can save you money, time and stressing out.

It’s in the research and preparation. Old sayings bear this out: “A stitch in time saves nine,” and “For want of a nail, the kingdom was lost,” or the more modern “Prior preparation prevents piss-poor performance.”

In other words, thinking things through works. Paying attention pays off.
Continue reading Save Money, Spend Time

Protecting Yourself On-line 2

26 April 2010, by A. Cedilla

Here are more links with security tips, this time with great stuff from Lifehacker.com.

On passwords:

Assorted phishing and protection tips:

Continue reading Protecting Yourself On-line 2

Protecting Yourself On-line

23 April 2010, by A. Cedilla

Here’s a little compilation of useful articles from an excellent resource, MakeUseOf.com, to give you a few helpful suggestions on more secure browsing and internet use.

Whether you’re doing business or buying stuff, you can check out the following articles for safety tips on account security and credit card protection.

Your kids need to keep safe as well, and here are a few suggested sites you can visit for more information on how to do so: Continue reading Protecting Yourself On-line