6 Great Ways to Unplug and Feel Better

You’ve just lost your phone and you’re in full-on panic mode. When you locate said electronic device, all is well. You heave a sigh of relief. All of this begs the question: why and how have we become so dependent on our phones? Though going without a phone entirely is probably not necessary, or in some cases realistic, here are a few ways to ease off your addiction – and why unplugging is so important for your overall well-being.

  1. Don’t Take Your Phone to Bed
    Research shows that blue light from the phone screen makes it hard to fall asleep. Wayne Conn, a sleep coordinator at Texoma Medical Center, claims that it wakes up the brain and causes it to be overstimulated, much the way exercising before going to bed prevents our bodies from relaxing. Here’s an idea: put the phone down two hours before you retire for the evening, maybe in another room. If you need to make a call, use a land line. When you do this, chances are you’ll sleep better and wake up refreshed.
  1. Let Go of FOMO
    FOMO is the acronym for “fear of missing out”. In fact, Larry Rosen, psychology professor and author of The Distracted Mind, told CNBC that most people check their phones every 15 minutes or less for fear of not being in the know about whatever local or world crisis might be in play. Truth is, if it’s that important, you’ll hear about it on TV, the radio or from a friend. Acquiescing to this phenomenon creates anxiety and interferes with your ability to focus. To avoid all this stress, let go and let live.
  1. Set Alarms to Wean Yourself Off
    Relegate your phone checking to certain times, which might be after work or after dinner. Next, set alarms on your phone during these times so that you can take one deep dive into your phone, respond to emails and comment on social media. Better still, Rosen suggests a radical idea: tell friends and family that you might not be responding to messages as quickly as you used to. Talk about liberating! No longer will you be a slave to the virtual world.
  1. Remove Distracting Apps from Your Phone
    To avoid accidental time-sucks, remove apps that seem to lure you in and hold you hostage, such as social media sites and games. Instead, deploy apps for reading or learning a new language. If you really want to see who has had a new baby or been on a fabulous vacation, you can do it on your desk computer or laptop. The takeaway? Now when you’re interacting with your phone, you’ll be contributing to your mental health and personal growth, rather than taking away from it.
  1. Rely More on Smart Speakers
    Step away from the screen. Give your thumbs a rest. Use your voice to do the heavy lifting with smart speakers like the Amazon Echo or Google’s Home Products. These blue light-free devices can answer virtually any question you have, as well as turn on music or a podcast. When you’re not glued to your phone, you’ll enjoy life a whole lot more.
  1. Try Replacement Therapy
    Finally, instead of reaching for your phone, pick up a book. Talk to your coworker, spouse or neighbor. If we’re honest, human interactions far more satisfying than a tiny rectangular screen.



Common Errors and Oversights When Evaluating a Business to Buy

When it comes to selling a business, it’s never a bad thing to be too careful. In fact, according to Forbes’ contributor Richard Parker, 50 percent of business acquisitions fall apart during the “due diligence” phase, where many current and future obligations exist. With such a high rate of deals that fall through, what are the most common reasons that business acquisitions end up failing?

Learn About Business Obligations Pre-Purchase
One of the many reasons a business deal breaks down is due to either the seller not being transparent or the buyer discovering things about the business’s existing obligations, such as the level of debt or a full accounting of outstanding bills. 

This brings up a larger concern of how to determine if a business is a good fit. First, generate many questions to ask. This includes finding out details about the business structure, the company’s outstanding bills, agreements and client contracts and how each of these items will be addressed. For example, if there’s a lease, will it be transferred and renewed as part of the business sale? Is the building's owner on board and part of the contract to renew the lease after the sale and transfer has completed? 

Another consideration, echoed by Parker, is to determine how many customers the business currently has and what the company will be doing to keep developing clients. Is the business on time with bills or are there vendors with outstanding invoices that might be holding back product, thus preventing existing customer orders from being fulfilled? 

Parker uses the example of looking at a company and how the majority of its revenue comes from a single government contract. As long as the company has ongoing marketing and sales efforts to gain new clients to expand its client base when that contract ends, it can make reasonable budget and staffing projections depending on how fast new clients are acquired. However, if such efforts are not implemented, a lack of new clients can put a squeeze on future cash flow. 

Other considerations include understanding how the new ownership will affect existing and future obligations. For example, have all existing debts and business correspondence been disclosed to the potential buyer? If there's an indemnification clause in the purchase contract for the business, and the business is subject to collections from an unpaid vendor or is later sued, if the indemnification clause is not fully understood, the new owners might contest indemnifying the previous owner.

An additional consideration is to determine how the business' ownership is structured and how it will impact unforeseen events. Depending on the business entity, creating a fair operating agreement that sets expectations for all owners can minimize many issues, especially for businesses with more than one partner.

One example of an important clause for business owners is how major decisions are made. Are these decisions made unanimously or are they made with a majority of partners? Without a clear set of expectations for how major decisions will be made, partners could walk away with hard feelings, looking to sell their ownership share unexpectedly.        


How Will the Markets be Impacted by Trade in 2019?

With talks of changing existing trade deals by then candidate Donald Trump now a reality with President Trump, America has taken a different path for international trade. Seeing mixed results during negotiations, global and domestic stock markets have been shaken and are subject to ongoing volatility. Today, foreign trade talks are in flux, and it’s unknown how different deals will affect the stock market in 2019.

Impact for U.S. Automakers’ Trade with South Korea
In the five years since the Korea Free Trade Agreement has been in effect, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) explains that the entire trade deficit grew to $9.8 billion in 2017, up 57 percent from $6.3 billion. Looking at goods only, America's trade deficit with Korea grew by three-quarters during the same time frame, from $13.2 billion to $23.1 billion.

When it comes to trade with the Republic of Korea, recent negotiations have opened up additional export opportunities for U.S. automakers to maintain some domestic advantage, along with additional export opportunities to the Republic of Korea. Existing U.S. tariffs of 25 percent imposed upon South Korean trucks will last until 2041, instead of the original date of 2021. Other benefits from the renegotiation include South Korea allowing the doubling of American car imports to 50,000 annually.  

Negotiating the New NAFTA With Mexico and Canada   
The USTR also reported finalized negotiations as part of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), mandating that three-quarters of auto parts be produced in North America, including the United States. The deal also requires that 40 to 45 percent of auto parts be produced by workers making at least $16 per hour, increasing the likelihood that production is within the United States. 

The renegotiating of NAFTA with Canada has preserved many existing tariffs, including those requiring that all food and agricultural products with zero tariffs under the North American Free Trade Agreement remain so. Furthermore, the USMCA has established additional markets and "new tariff rate quotes" for American products.

The new agreement is focused specifically on providing American producers of eggs, dairy and poultry with increased market access in Canada in exchange for Canadian agricultural producers having access to expanded markets in the United States for their dairy products, as well as peanut and processed peanut products, and sugar and sugar-containing products.

While negotiations with Canada and Mexico have opened more markets and promoted higher wages for workers within and outside America, the USMCA is still awaiting congressional approval. This new agreement has generated optimism for increased exports, higher profitability for businesses, and higher wages for workers that may stimulate consumer spending. However, there is less optimistic news when it comes to negotiating with China. 

The USTR imposed $200 billion in tariffs of 10 percent on Chinese goods on September 24 of this year, which are scheduled to rise further to 25 percent on January 1, 2019, yielding total tariffs on Chinese goods at more than $250 billion. The impasse in trade talks shows that tariffs can hurt both consumers and businesses using higher-priced commodities on the other end, regardless of the trade partner.

One example is that while car manufacturers may benefit from increased export opportunities in the case of South Korea, with increased costs for labor and materials such as steel or aluminum, the increased opportunity of exports could be offset by having to increase costs for consumers or lower profit margins. Thus, the unpredictability of trade can negatively impact consumer spending and confidence, along with business earnings expectations, giving investors pause.

Beware: Malware Installed in Fake Software Updates

In our current environment of hacks, breaches and viruses, it’s standard operating procedure to install all software updates as soon as you receive them. Unfortunately, this practice has created a new opportunity for scammers to sneak in malware.

Recent cases have involved fake Flash updates. When prompted to update to a new version of Flash, a cryptocurrency miner called XMRig is also installed. Unlike other types of malware, this strategy actually installs the new Flash update so the user might not detect unusual activity. Meanwhile, XMRig works undetected in the background to use the computer's resources to generate a popular privacy-focused cryptocurrency called Monero.

Malicious cryptomining, also known as cryptojacking, is the act of hijacking another computer’s CPU/GPU processing power. Cryptomining requires a constant internet connection and consumes loads of electricity, causing a computer to overheat to the point of damage and data loss. That’s why cybercriminals target other computers for immoral purposes. By concealing a cryptomining application within a common upgrade, the hacker can continue to use the hijacked computer’s resources without the owner’s knowledge.

Security Pitfalls
This strategy reveals the importance of staying on top of software and computing issues, and recognizing that not all security apps are effective. Some are even complete frauds, designed only to infiltrate your system – so it’s very important to vet any ad-blockers or other downloads before installing them.

In some cases, the security software can create vulnerabilities, doing your computer more damage than good. For example, applications might require access to your personal information, such as browser history, personal files and unique identifiers, to function. The software may need some of this information to run properly, but it also could be culling more data than necessary for the purpose of selling a profile of you as a user.

Also be aware that not all security tools are equal. Some might detect and block different strains of malware, but not all of them. This can give you a false sense of security when, in fact, your computer it is still vulnerable. A study conducted in 2017 revealed that it was not all that difficult for a seasoned software designer to create malware that could bypass 95 percent of antivirus tools for Android.

While virtual private networks (VPNs) are designed to establish a secure connection through a remote server, another study found that nearly one-fifth of mobile VPN apps did not encrypt user traffic at all.

Recognize that the app industry is not highly regulated, so security software available in app stores may not work as well as their developers claim. They could have limited application and are not be updated regularly to prevent infiltration by hijackers. Or, a cybercriminal may even purchase the software and have access to its users in order to harvest personal information or disseminate malware through future updates.

To help protect your electronic devices from malware and other cyber breaches, consider the following tips.

  • Download apps and updates from well-known app stores, which do a better job of vetting developers.
  • Don’t go crazy installing every cool app you see. Stick to a few that you use most often.
  • If you get a notification to download a new update, go to the website to verify and install from there.
  • Be diligent about keeping your operating system updated.
  • Don't click on links from untrusted sources.

Finally, choose an antivirus software from a well-known vendor. Read its product description and online reviews. Be sure you understand what it does as well as what it doesn't do. Also consider what type of permissions it requests and whether or not they make sense. Once installed, be sure to keep the software updated as required.

Surviving Through Multiple Generations

Although family businesses boost the economy and make up more than fifty percent of the nation's GDP, they struggle to survive past the second generation.

This article discusses a few ways family businesses can thrive through multiple generations.

To view this article, click the following link to access the original content.

Their answers are easier to understand.
Charlie Glas