Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

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(Reuters) – The Senate, eager to notch an election-year victory by boosting small business growth, is moving toward prompt passage of a measure that overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives last week.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said on Tuesday he would avoid a prolonged debate and accept the legislation that passed the Republican-controlled House by a vote of 390-23 last week.

The bill aims to encourage job creation by making it easier for small firms to raise capital. But it is not expected to make a major dent in the high U.S. unemployment rate.

“We’re not going to have a knock-down, drag-out fight” on the measure, Reid said on the Senate floor. “If everybody loves the House bill so much, that’s what we’re going to vote on.”

Later, asked by a reporter why Democrats were abandoning their plan to introduce their own jobs bill, Reid cited practicality. “I think a (House) vote of 390-23 was fairly very significant in my thought process,” he said.

The move could also disarm Republican criticism that Democrats were delaying approval of the House jobs bill, at a time when millions of people are unemployed and the national jobless rate is 8.3 percent.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has warned that if Democrats drafted a “contentious” version instead of taking up the House bill, they would be sending two messages:

“First, that they’re just not serious when they say they’re focused on jobs. And second, that they’d rather spend their time manufacturing gridlock to create the illusion of conflict.”

With Congress facing near record low approval ratings, both parties are eager to convince voters they are working to aid the economy’s recovery.

However, much bigger measures aimed at job creation have stalled in the chamber and moderate Republican Senator Olympia Snowed announced last month she would not seek a fourth term because she was weary of the dysfunction paralyzing the chamber.

The House-passed bill would make it easier for firms to solicit private investors and relax filing requirements associated with initial public offerings.

A senior Senate Democratic aide said Reid will likely try to add an amendment that would reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank, something Republicans have opposed.

If the amendment fails to get folded into the bill, the Senate will still move to pass the overall legislation this month, the aide said.

The Ex-mi Bank, established in 1934 by President Franklin Roosevelt, provides financing to U.S. exporters to make sales that are viewed as too risky by private banks.

Its charter is generally renewed for four or five years at a time, but the bank has been operating on temporary authority since October, and has run afoul of Republicans who have branded its mission as “corporate welfare.”

(Reporting By Alexandra Alper and Richard Cowan; editing by Tim Dobbyn and Todd Eastham)

Official Link:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/13/us-usa-congress-capital-idUSTRE81R1N320120313

On Tuesday, I shared the first installment of my article recounting Social Media Day  — an event sponsored by the teams at GTX Marketing and Fresh Consulting. I was honored to share the piece not only with my readers, but also folks like Mike Whitmore and Kathy Ireland. I was thrilled to see Part One circulating on Twitter and shared via friends on Facebook. Once again, the themes put forth at Social Media Day were brought home to my front door. If you share it, they will come.

When we re-convened after lunch, Jenny Kuglin (@jenkuglin) content manager and social media maven for Fisher Interactive, shared a story about news anchor, Kathi Goertzen. Kathi’s story highlighted the human connection people associate with a brand. In this case,KOMO News and Fisher Communications. Kathi had been off-air for some time in recent years as she battled (and continues to fight) a brain tumor. Kathi was hesitant to return to a place in front of the camera due to disfigurement from her disease. Jenny knew that people were curious about Kathi so the communications team at Fisher helped Kathi launch a Facebook page, which as of this article, has over 71,600 fans. She can also be found on YouTube, Twitter (@InspireHopeCure), and via her website. Nothing tangible is being exchanged, but Kathi has a story to share and people want to hear it. Content is king.

Though, in the words of Rod Brooks (@NW_Mktg_Guy) “Content is gold. Kings die; gold lives forever.” The theme of the afternoon was story and Jenny, Rod, and Paul Anderson(@ProLango) did a wonderful job of introducing the sociable side of social interaction. Yes, we were all on social media because we run businesses or work for companies where marketing and social presence matter. But few of us participate in social media with the intent to NOT make friends, as many of us enjoy when our interactions move off-screen to the in-person realm.

Rod stated, he is 90% personality, 10% business when it comes to social media. His advice, “Bring yourself to work.” Be genuine. Travel. Engage with the world. Be quirky and interesting. Rod talked about the wild success of the Northwest Profiles series of commercials and cards based on stereotypical Northwest personality types. Pemco realized that people didn’t necessarily want to talk about insurance, but you know what? “People want to talk about the neighbors,” said Rod. That became the key to Pemco’s marketing success and social amiability.

Jen, this time Jen Houston (@JHouston89) of Waggener Edstrom’s dynamic communications team, stepped on stage and delivered another talk relevant to the theme of story. “Content is the currency of influence,” said Jen. People still desire eye contact and human connection. Among her many morsels of social media advice, “Be a content guerrilla.” Pics, travel, drawings on napkins — capture your life and essence of who you are — this is your brand and your story. Know who your audience is and track where those people are. Monitor your brand and be engaging. “Nuance is necessary to engage.” Choose the channel that  best allows you to tell your nuanced story and bring value to your audience.

Jeff Dance (@Jeffdance) of Fresh Consulting delivered a talk about creativity and storytelling. Logging ideas is good for our brain. Drawing images is also good for our brain. Basically, we should strive to engage in a dance that complements both hemispheres of our brain. (Think  of the “Liger” from the famous movie, Napolean Dynamite.) People are craving meaning and simplification — and people remember stories. Where can we tell our stories, beyond the social media platforms discussed up to this point? In the About Us page on our websites. On WordPress analytics, the About Us page was the #1 most-visited page besides the homepage. Customers want to know who you are and what you bring to the proverbial table. Jeff closed with the sage advice, “Be educational, be useful, be entertaining … or be ignored.”

Heidi Miller (@heidimiller) was the final guest speaker and imparted valuable wisdom about the social media exchange. “Be yourself, share a picture of yourself, and don’t be a jerk,” she advised. Heidi reiterated what Rod had said — there’s no need to be all business. Share your integrated self, ask questions and engage in conversation with others. Don’t delete comments — EVER! As mentioned by Mike and other panelists — you must monitor your brand your social presence constantly. If an issue should arise via your social media network, one to two hours for a response is ideal, but more than twenty-four hours is too long. Heidi illustrated examples of TSA and Domino’s Pizza properly responding to customer feedback via a very public platform. There are polite ways to engage with even the most angry customer and your image depends on your response and handling of a situation.

Social Media Day was a blast to attend and and honor to photograph. I gained so much valuable information that my assistant and I have been working overtime trying to implement all the tidbits, buttons, and tags that we learned that sunny afternoon last weekend. Technology is changing the world we live in and I welcome the opportunity to keep up and engage. Thank you for reading and “walking with me” as Kathy Ireland stated at the event. If content is gold, I am feeling pretty golden right now and I can’t wait to share more stories, photos, and backs of napkins from my upcoming travels and photo shoots. If you’re new to Twitter, remember to follow the people mentioned in this piece (via the links provided or “@” symbol after their name). Of course, you can find me onFacebookYouTubeTwitter, and Pinterest.

Catch you on the social side.

~Trishann Couvillion (@fire_eyes) Fire Eyes Photography

About trcouvillion

Best Corporate Event Photographer and Business & Headshots Photographer in Seattle. Event Photography for many top Seattle and Silicon Valley companies work with Trishann Couvillion of Fire Eyes Photography and well known individuals such as Steve Ballmer; CEO and President of Microsoft, Dennis Miller, Christopher Gardner, Michael Lewis and many others have been photographed by her. Check out her Corporate Website @ http://www.fireeyesphotography.com

A Fresh Approach to Media, Part One

Social Media Day was a one-day event organized by Fresh Consulting and GTX Marketing, both Seattle-based companies. Fresh Consulting specializes in strategy, design, and technology services for businesses and GTX Marketing focuses on innovative Web design to strengthen business brands. Last Saturday, hundreds of attendees sat in the southwest corner of the Century Link Events Center to listen to the social media mavens that Fresh Consulting and GTX Marketing had invited to share tips and strategy in this digital age.

Rod Brooks (@NW_Mktg_Guy), senior marketer for Pemco Insurance, acted as emcee for the day and if the Starbucks coffee in the Bassett Furniture sponsored lounge hadn’t woken the morning’s attendees, then Rod’s taxi-yellow suit was sure to do the trick. He shared some statistics about consumers, how to advertise to your intended audience, and parted with the advice: “Know your talkers; give them something to talk about; make it easy to share.”

Mike Whitmore (@mikewhitmore) stepped up to the podium to introduce his friend, Kathy Ireland (@KathyIreland). Mike had been blogging during his late wife’s battle and eventual death from cancer. It was via those blog posts and the Twitter platform that Mike and Kathy formed a friendship and business connection.

Kathy, a former supermodel who exudes femininity and poise, shared her background in modeling and how it prepared her for the thick skin required to succeed in business. She stated that, “all the rejection” was one of the gifts of her modeling career. Though she is one of the most successful women in today’s business world (regularly touted on topForbes lists) Kathy also experienced nights spent at the airport while traveling for business with her husband and business team because they couldn’t afford to stay in a hotel. “Whatever material things you have to give up is not a sacrifice — it’s a  bold investment,” she stated.

She learned the value of investigating reputations and getting to know who you’re really doing business with before starting a partnership or affiliation. Also she knew she had to, “Ask powerful questions to get powerful answers.” Regarding social media, Kathy didn’t like the Twitter term “followers,” rather she prefers to call them “people who walk with me” and states, “You have the information that they need. Give it to them.”

Kathy concluded her talk by opening up the floor to questions. One of the best came from a young girl in the audience who asked Kathy, herself a mother, what she would teach her kids about business. Kathy, clearly charmed like the rest of the audience, offered: “Treat others like you would want to be treated. Be kind. Be a good listener. Give 110%. Give more than what’s expected. Work hard.”

Mike Whitmore once again took the podium and launched into the value of video content in business. Imagery and storytelling create conversation around your product and the product can be and should be a subtle component of your imagery content. Mike told a story about Keith Ferrazzi (author of Never Eat Alone) and how, once again, a personable connection made via Twitter translated to a “real world” chance to meet and engage. Mike said Keith was a “genuinely nice human being” and Mike loves the book and encouraged everyone to pick up a copy.

Mike’s advice: “People are talking about your brand. Know what they’re saying.” Monitor your presence on the Web and make sure it is an accurate reflection of your business. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and now Pinterest are the top sites with which businesses and consumers engage. On a given day, 400K people sign up for Twitter. If you’re a business and don’t have a presence on these sites, you should!

As Mike spoke, I paused to look at the event attendees around me. From the moment the event began, Seattle’s social media savvy in the audience had been tweeting up to the minute accounts from the show to the Twitter hashtag “#nwsocial.” It’s amazing the ability people have to pay attention, or half attention to a speaker while tweeting to theiraudience. Every speaker mentioned in this article has a Twitter handle after their name. If you’re not on Twitter yet, they’re the people you should follow and begin to watch how they use hashtags to reference a current trend. Here’s a Twitter primer from Mike:

@ symbol : Used before a person’s name or handle, it’s how you tweet to them publicly.
# hashtag: A way to sort data and follow a meme or trend.
bit.ly: A shortened Web address. Makes links friendly to Twitter’s 140-character per tweet limit.
RT”: A retweet. A way of saying, “I like what you said,” and then sharing it with your followers.

Twitter is microblogging; you need to tweet. Mike also shared his approach to Twitter called being the “GAP.” Genuine. Accurate. Positive. 96% of people ages 18-35 are on a social network. Businesses want to market and engage with that demographic. Twitter can be intimidating to some as you begin to get comfortable with the platform, but if I can do it, you can too!

Stay tuned in the coming days for Part Two of Social Media Saturday where panelists and speakers discussed the value of content and storytelling. Can you tell a robot did not write this piece? This type of content and exchange between people like you and me is something we cannot outsource and something only humans can bring to life.

~Trishann Couvillion (@fire_eyes) Fire Eyes Photography

About trcouvillion

Best Corporate Event Photographer and Business & Headshots Photographer in Seattle. Event Photography for many top Seattle and Silicon Valley companies work with Trishann Couvillion of Fire Eyes Photography and well known individuals such as Steve Ballmer; CEO and President of Microsoft, Dennis Miller, Christopher Gardner, Michael Lewis and many others have been photographed by her. Check out her Corporate Website @ http://www.fireeyesphotography.com

Do you need a business Loan for your company?  Are you over extended and cannot get a loan through a Bank or Private Funding? If so, this is a great opportunity to expand your business, pay off debt, buy that vehicle you may need, buy more inventory or just use the money for what ever you may need it for.  What’s the catch?  None, just have a credit score above 600, no collateral needed, no signup fees and cash within 7 business days!   For more information click here.   We want to help your business grow and thrive during this “Down Economy”.

Suspicious mortgage fraud activity that occurred at least four years ago induced filings in the third quarter to spike 20% from a year earlier.

Financial institutions filed 19,934 suspicious activity reports involving mortgage loan fraud  in the three months ended Sept. 30, up from 16,567 in the same period of 2010, according to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

Nearly 62% of the filings in the quarter involved suspicious activity that began at least four years ago. In the year-earlier third quarter, that figure was 24%. Instances of alleged fraud stem largely from mortgage repurchase demands and filings from depository institutions related to originations during the height of the housing boom.

Reports of suspicious activity also involved loan workout or debt elimination; questionable refinance or loan modification attempts by borrowers or others targeting distressed homeowners; and Social Security number discrepancies submitted in the original loan application and the workout request.

The enforcement network found that 5,728 reports filed in the third quarter, 29% of the total, included activity that occurred between October 2009 and September 2011.

In January, President Barack Obama announced the formation of amortgage fraud task force headed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. In the March issue of  Housing Wire magazine, Christopher Whalen discusses Schneiderman’s role in investigating fraud and malfeasance in the financial markets, which he says should be understood separately from Washington agendas.

FinCEN said the top five states with fraud reports by per capita and in the third quarter were Hawaii, California, Nevada, Florida and Delaware.

The top five counties were Santa Clara County, Calif.; Honolulu; Orange County, Calif., San Bernardino County, Calif. and Palm Beach County, Fla.

“As housing markets look to recover, criminals persist in their efforts to prey on struggling homeowners, while financial institutions continue to uncover apparent fraud as they work through their portfolios of earlier mortgages now in default,”FinCEN Director James Freis said. “FinCEN will continue to monitor these reports and work closely with law enforcement to help them track illicit actors.”

________

Hopefully this will wake some homeowners up that mortgage fraud is a huge problem even in our current market.  There is no question from 2000-2007 that the majority of the fraud that caused the entire mortgage meltdown was the biggest issue, but we need to pay attention to what is still going on with mortgage fraud and foreclosure fraud today.  Don’t ignore it, you could greatly improve your financial situation.

Robo-signing is no question a huge problem these days, but now through our law firms access to new technology using the Bloomberg Financial Platform and our certified auditor we can provide the proof and leverage you need to negotiate better terms with an equity position in your home. Or if necessary file a strong warranted law suit against your lender or servicer using our legal horsepower at very affordable flat fee prices to fight back and win.

In fact, the Bloomberg terminal can provide the homeowner information regarding chain of title and securitized loan trusts for our clients. Finding out if you have back end wrong doings or fraud after your loan was sold on wall street is really what will give you the proper leverage.  In some cases maybe even proving you have a broken chain of title that could award a quiet title action releasing you of your current debt obligation.

Did you know that banks and loan servicers may not have the right to foreclose on a home or even collect payments from the homeowner?  Many loans were placed into securitized trusts but the lenders but the lenders may have violated the trust regulations;  the note and deed of trust may have been separated;  and the trust may even been paid off.  Lenders won’t share this information, but we can find it and determine whether the lender is acting unlawfully or fraudulently.  And again that is where the Bloomberg Financial Research Platform comes in!

Find out how we are different!  We do not do government loan modifications, so you can be current or behind on payments.  In addition, you don’t need to show a hardship proving your current income to qualify which can make the process impossible to get approved for.  Not to mention most government loan mods are trial periods anyway. Also keep in mind you will not get a principal reduction, or if you are behind on payments they will just tack it on the end of your loan balance making your equity position even worse, no thanks.  And a large majority will just say sorry you don’t qualify for a permanent loan modification down the road after you paid them on the trial period, then you will be forced into a short sale or even eventually being foreclosed on. We can also negotiate down substantially second mortgages or lines of credit.

So don’t be fooled by these banksters, stand up and fight for your legal rights!

So don’t wonder of you were defrauded doing nothing about it, take advantage of our FREE preliminary loan audit and see if we have a case to move forward to finally getting you remedy with your particular situation.

The banks hide the loan trusts…we find the loan trusts!

 

Sincerely,

Tom Self
Paralegal- Magnum Law Group
www.BankFraudBlog.com

Don’t get me wrong: I love SEO and we do a lot of SEO work. However some businesses turn SEO into an obsession, and that’s a big mistake.

The fatal flaw of an SEO fixation is that it takes your eye off the ball. SEO is about traffic. Traffic is important, but it’s not the goal. The fundamental purpose of Internet marketing, as I see it anyway, is conversion.

First CRO, Then SEO

A typical scenario, and one that makes no sense to me, is when a firm spends tons on SEO and pennies on conversion rate optimization (CRO). They’re driving more traffic to their site – but so what? If their lead generation site features ho-hum offers or no offers at all, people won’t inquire. If their e-commerce site has baffling navigation, people won’t buy.

For companies like these, even sizable increases in search traffic will fail to translate into a meaningful increase in conversions. The result:

  1. A significant part of the SEO spend is wasted
  2. Companies grow dissatisfied with their SEO program
  3. Companies change their SEO strategy or hire another provider
  4. The cycle of ineffectiveness continues

That companies should tune-up their sites for conversion before launching into a big SEO program is as obvious as can be – so why do so many people miss it? I’d love to know your thoughts about this, but here are some of the reasons I see:

Why Companies Fixate on SEO, Not CRO

  • Ego problem one. Companies want to see their name as the number one result on Google for their pet keyword phrases.
  • Ego problem two. Companies tend to feel their products and services are so awesome that the mere mention of them on their website will have prospects stampeding to the order desk. They don’t recognize the need for compelling offers, intuitive navigation, and an all-around positive user experience.
  • Monkey see, monkey do. The world is inundated with SEO practitioners and SEO advice. Most companies are led to believe that SEO is indispensible, that their competitors are doing SEO, and they will get their butts kicked if they don’t participate.
  • Monkey don’t see, monkey don’t do. In contrast, how many CRO gurus are out there banging the drum for their extremely important discipline? They are badly outnumbered, and as a result, fewer businesses come to fully appreciate the value of their specialty.
  • Easy and accessible metrics. Traffic and ranking statistics are easy to grab and easy to grasp – on the surface, anyway. A company sees traffic and ranking trending up, and figures the program must be working.
  • Fuzzy lead tracking. Conversion tracking, on the other hand, is rather tricky to set up properly, which is why a lot of small and midsized firms have little or no idea where their web leads are coming from. That being the case, they have no way to formulate a conversion optimization strategy
  • No appetite for offers. Due to budget constraints, decision-by-committee, lack of imagination or a number of other reasons, firms have a tough time coming up with offers that are big enough and creative enough to win the hearts and minds of visitors.

Conversion Isn’t The Only Problem

This could be a post in itself, but I’ll just mention in passing that SEO can no longer be executed in isolation; for SEO to succeed today it must be thoroughly integrated with other marketing disciplines in addition to conversion optimization – most notably, with social media.

There are still too many SEO campaigns that fail to leverage social sharing, and fail to include meaningful and strategic content creation. Programs like these simply cannot succeed.

Companies need to look at online marketing holistically, rather than trying to pick and choose specific disciplines to invest in. This sounds logical, just like putting the CRO house in order before diving into SEO. And yet, how many small and midsized firms actually have a holistic strategy?

How to Stop Feeding the SEO Habit

Again, I am not suggesting that SEO is bad or that companies should suspend SEO activities while they shore up other aspects of their marketing. SEO is something that must be done continuously; it has a cumulative effect. So rather than stop or suddenly change gears, take these actions to make a smooth transition from SEO-obsessed to SEO-balanced.

  • Do a CRO audit. If a business looked at a comprehensive set of conversion optimization recommendations, I think it would be quite shocked to see how much room for improvement there was – and the tremendous upside of making those improvements. If that’s the case with your site, remember that a new investment in CRO will be partially offset by improved results from your existing SEO program.
  • Do a holistic strategy review. As I said earlier, it’s unproductive to arbitrarily decide which marketing activities to emphasize. SEO is only valuable in terms of how its ROI compares to other activities, and is in many ways reliant on other activities to maximize its own ROI. Whether yours is a $100,000 business or a $100 million business, the best results come from a strategic approach.

Going through these exercises will put you in a much better marketing frame of mind.

Where do you see SEO fitting in to your marketing strategy? How do you see the relationship between SEO and social media evolving?

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Chicken Panini and Spinach Orange Salad

Posted: 21 February, 2012 in Food

Chicken Panini and Spinach Orange Salad.