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Uncertainty is energy of life

Power of Uncertainty

The Power of Uncertainty

“Uncertainty and mystery are energies of life. Don’t let them scare you unduly, for they keep boredom at bay and spark creativity.” – R.I. Fitzhenry

Uncertainty can be challenging but ultimately it’s what keeps life meaningful. Uncertainty is…

  • Stressful and exciting
  • Fear invoking and empowering
  • Unnerving and confidence building

The process of uncertainty is called life. It’s what keeps things interesting, engaging, and fulfilling. If you knew what to expect at all times, my guess is you’d get bored, very bored. Yes, of course there are plenty of areas where we don’t welcome uncertainty. From simple things such as having your morning coffee taste just right to knowing your car will start to more major things such as getting a clean bill of health from your doctor each year.

You may feel uncertain when you step into the unknown and decide to be your own boss, start a family, buy a home, change jobs, or even sign-up for a class. I felt lots of uncertainty when I left my finance job in NYC and started a new career as a Business Coach, and then again when I moved from NYC to Los Angeles. I also built a lot of confidence by making it through each of these transitions. You have to step through the phase called uncertainty to create something bigger in your life.

Many people condition their mind to view a change in their situation as a bad thing when in reality it’s neutral. The event only takes on a positive or negative spin when we classify it. Typically, we are excited for “positive” events and uncomfortable with “negative” events because they fall outside our comfort zone. Feeling unsure or being in the uncertain phase is similar to being outside your comfort zone.

People who turn ideas into action agree that the magic happens outside your comfort zone.

Here’s why uncertainty can be a good thing in your life:

1. Uncertainty Leads to Major Breakthroughs

Think about major shifts and successes in your life. Were you 100% sure of the process the entire time or did you have some doubts?

One of my clients had a catering business in NYC that was highly respected but she was always struggling to get her next gig. She wanted something better for herself. She researched other careers and together we decided that her strengths matched a career in Residential Real Estate. Everyone told her it was a difficult time to enter the NYC market, and it was, but she was determined. She became a broker at a well-known company and became Rookie Broker of the Year in 2011. She’s on track to be the top broker in the office this year and, most importantly, loves her career. She had to step into the unknown to discover what she could accomplish.

2. Uncertainty Leads to a Confidence boost

When you successfully move through challenging periods such as starting your own company, changing careers, losing weight, or taking on a new project, you gain one more data point and prove to yourself that you can do it. These are called “wins” and they need to be acknowledged. There’s nothing new about the concept of uncertainty just that it pushes you outside your comfort zone, which is naturally an uncomfortable feeling.

We all have uncertainty in our lives — sometimes we just need to remind ourselves of what we’ve achieved and leverage these wins to build confidence.

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3. Uncertainty Leads to Growth

After 25 years, Oprah said goodbye to her #1 rated talk show. Few people would part with this level of success to start a network. There’s much doubt around the network but they continue to take small steps forward each day. Oprah always wondered what her initials could be used for and when she started her network, OWN, it finally made sense (OWN = Oprah Winfrey Network). All achievers and entrepreneurs have to move through uncertainty to continue to grow.

The simple truth is that you need uncertainty in your life because it’s the fuel that helps you Live in Your Top 1% and reach for your highest potential.

TOP 1% BOTTOM LINE: Challenge yourself to condition your mind to realize that uncertainly leads to extraordinary opportunity and potential. Becoming comfortable with uncertainty is one of the key ingredients to success. And to share your best self, you need to produce genius level work and continuously move through these transition periods.

“Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man (and woman) to unfold his powers.” – Erich Fromm

Bob Parsons® 生活和工作成功的16 条准则

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1.

离开安乐的环境。

我相信,当我们身处安乐的环境之中时,将不会取得任何成就。我听有人说:“但离开舒适的环境令我没有安全感。”对此,我的回答很简单:“死人才需要安全感。”

2.

永不放弃。

当第一次尝试某件事情时,通常都不会取得成效。但你的所作所为没有取得成效,并不意味着它不会成功。这仅仅意味着,你的工作方式可能不正确。如果事情非常容易,每个人都能成功,那你也将不会拥有任何机会。

3.

当你准备放弃时,目标往往已近在咫尺。

中国古语云:“行百里者半九十。”意思是:“在即将成功前,放弃的诱惑是最大的。”

4.

对你担心的任何事情,不仅仅是需要接受可能产生的最坏结果,而且要度量究竟哪些坏事可能会发生。

只有在极少的情况下,才会出现无法度量的最坏结果。在很早以前,当我用光所有金钱努力拯救帕森斯技术公司时,我的父亲说过:“罗伯特,即便不成功,天也塌不下来。

5.

专注目标。

记住古老的谚语:“有志者事竟成。”

6.

每天做每天的事情。

无论你的境况如何糟糕,只要你不是想得太远,而是专注现在,你肯定能度过难关。慢慢来,总有一天你会克服所有困难。

7.

不断奋勇前进。

永远不要停止投入,永远不要停止进步,永远不要放弃尝试新鲜事物。当你放弃改善你的组织时,它就会开始走向死亡。循序渐进地,每天逐步提高目标。请牢记日本人的“持续改善”理念:积少成多,聚沙成塔,你终将获得伟大成功。

8.

当机立断。

请记住巴顿将军的名言:“今天即可认真执行的好计划,要远比明天的完美计划好得多。”

9.

衡量每件意义重大的事宜。

我发誓这是完全正确的。任何受到衡量和关注的事情,都会有所进展。

10.

任何无人管理的事情都会恶化。

如果你想知道你还没有发现的问题,花少许时间密切观察一下你从来没有检查过的领域。我保证你想知道的问题肯定在那里。

11.

关注你的竞争对手,但是更要关注你自己的业务。

当你观察竞争对手时,请记住,由于距离相隔很远,所以对手的每件事看起来都完美无缺。即便我们的地球,如果你在太空中足够远的地方观看,地球看起来也像个井然有序到处和平的地方。

12.

不要任人摆布。

我们的社会拥有法律和平等竞争的赛场,你拥有的开拓事业的权利与其他人一样多。

13.

永远不要期望生活是公平的。

生活是不公平的,你需要自己实现突破。你付出代价(即车费)才能登上公交车,当你认为这类事情很公平时,你的事业肯定会取得成功。

14.

用自己的方式解决问题。

你会发现,只有通过自己提出解决方法,你才会建立起竞争优势。索尼公司的共同创始人井深大说过这样的至理名言:“跟随在他人后面,你永远也不会在技术、经营或其它事业上取得成功。”我常常用一句古老的谚语来提醒自己,它的大意是“聪明的人会坚持己见”。

15.

不要太苛求自己。

放松自我。通常,我们取得的成就至少有一半要归因于好运气。我们中没有任何人能够随心所欲地控制事态的发展。

16.

总有微笑的理由。

找到微笑的理由。毕竟,你还幸运地活着。生命是短暂的,我很同意我弟弟的说法。他时常提醒我:“人生苦短,我们要尽量享受快乐!”

© 2004 Bob Parsons版权所有。保留所有权利,转载经过许可。

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Happiness is a Choice

There are some people who seem to think that happiness is the result of all the right wheels turning at just the right time. You’re walking down the street, find twenty dollars, get a compliment from a stranger, meet the perfect guy or girl (and don’t totally make a fool of yourself), go to your favorite store and get 50% off, etc., etc.

It’s easy to be happy when everything seems to be going your way, but I think that defining happiness that way reduces it to a byproduct of luck, or an accident, which it is not. In fact, I might even argue that luck is a byproduct of happiness, if I was in a particularly feisty mood.

Happiness doesn’t just happen.

Some days are good, but there are probably more days that are just mediocre or plain bad, and it’s on those days that the true nature of happiness is revealed. Have you ever met someone who stayed positive, even when they’re having a bad day, and everything that can go wrong seems to be going wrong? If you’re having a bad day, too, just being near someone like that can be uplifting (although for others it is annoying, but that usually just stems from jealousy).

People who are able to smile even through the worst of times have learned a very important lesson, the same lesson I stated above: Happiness doesn’t just happen.

Happiness is choice.

That’s right, a choice. Not an accident, not a charitable gift from the universe. Of course, it’s nice to receive those gifts, and easy to be happy when you do, but happiness is about choosing to see the adventure in every moment, choosing to understand that there will always be a light after the dark, that there is always good in every situation and every person, no matter how grim things may seem.

That’s the key to happiness: choosing it. It’s not an easy choice all the time, and it very well may be the last thing you want to do sometimes. When grief strikes, or when you just can’t seem to catch a break, sometimes you just want to sulk and stay upset, perpetuate the sadness. It’s a natural response, but it isn’t a required behavior, it’s a choice. And choosing to be happy will make you a better, stronger, wiser, more longsuffering person.

We always have the choice to be happy. Learning to change our attitude is frustrating, but worth it in the end. When we choose to be happy, things tend to work in our favor, and luck seems to be on our side; and even if things don’t happen the way you want them to, if you choose to be happy, you can accept situations for what they are and make the most of life, no matter the hand it deals you.

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16 Rules for Success in Business and Life in General

Bob Parsons® 16 Rules for Success in Business and Life in General

1.

Get and stay out of your comfort zone.

I believe that not much happens of any significance when we’re in our comfort zone. I hear people say, “But I’m concerned about security.” My response to that is simple: “Security is for cadavers.”

2.

Never give up.

Almost nothing works the first time it’s attempted. Just because what you’re doing does not seem to be working, doesn’t mean it won’t work. It just means that it might not work the way you’re doing it. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and you wouldn’t have an opportunity.

3.

When you’re ready to quit, you’re closer than you think.

There’s an old Chinese saying that I just love, and I believe it is so true. It goes like this: “The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed.”

4.

With regard to whatever worries you, not only accept the worst thing that could happen, but make it a point to quantify what the worst thing could be.

Very seldom will the worst consequence be anywhere near as bad as a cloud of “undefined consequences.” My father would tell me early on, when I was struggling and losing my shirt trying to get Parsons Technology going, “Well, Robert, if it doesn’t work, they can’t eat you.”

5.

Focus on what you want to have happen.

Remember that old saying, “As you think, so shall you be.”

6.

Take things a day at a time.

No matter how difficult your situation is, you can get through it if you don’t look too far into the future, and focus on the present moment. You can get through anything one day at a time.

7.

Always be moving forward. – Change Your Life

Never stop investing. Never stop improving. Never stop doing something new. The moment you stop improving your organization, it starts to die. Make it your goal to be better each and every day, in some small way. Remember the Japanese concept of Kaizen. Small daily improvements eventually result in huge advantages.

8.

Be quick to decide.

Remember what General George S. Patton said: “A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”

9.

Measure everything of significance.

I swear this is true. Anything that is measured and watched, improves.

10.

Anything that is not managed will deteriorate.

If you want to uncover problems you don’t know about, take a few moments and look closely at the areas you haven’t examined for a while. I guarantee you problems will be there.

11.

Pay attention to your competitors, but pay more attention to what you’re doing.

When you look at your competitors, remember that everything looks perfect at a distance. Even the planet Earth, if you get far enough into space, looks like a peaceful place.

12.

Never let anybody push you around.

In our society, with our laws and even playing field, you have just as much right to what you’re doing as anyone else, provided that what you’re doing is legal.

13.

Never expect life to be fair.

Life isn’t fair. You make your own breaks. You’ll be doing good if the only meaning fair has to you, is something that you pay when you get on a bus (i.e., fare).

14.

Solve your own problems.

You’ll find that by coming up with your own solutions, you’ll develop a competitive edge. Masura Ibuka, the co-founder of SONY, said it best: “You never succeed in technology, business, or anything by following the others.” There’s also an old saying that I remind myself of frequently. It goes like this: “A wise man keeps his own counsel.”

15.

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Lighten up. Often, at least half of what we accomplish is due to luck. None of us are in control as much as we like to think we are.

16.

There’s always a reason to smile.

Find it. After all, you’re really lucky just to be alive. Life is short. More and more, I agree with my little brother. He always reminds me: “We’re not here for a long time, we’re here for a good time!”

“Copyright © 2004 Bob Parsons. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission.”

Quick Way to Change Your Mental State

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A few years back, I was sitting with two friends at a dinner table. The talk turned to body language, and how it affects your mood. I proposed a simple experiment, which the others accepted.

So I put a huge all-teeth-bared grin on my face. One of my friends put a frown on his face. And the third one simply behaved normally.

Over the next couple of minutes, the wildest thing happened. I started having the time of my life. I was joking around, laughing, enjoying myself. The friend with the frown became grumpy and pissed. We eventually aborted the experiment, and took some time to get everyone in a friendly mood again.

The only downside for me was that after holding that a grin for about 15 minutes, my cheeks hurt. But I was laughing anyway!

Everybody knows your mental state affects the way you hold your body. An unhappy depressed person will slouch and look at the ground. But some people don’t realize the opposite is also true. It’s a feedback mechanism. Putting your a smile on your face will make you feel happier.

Try this for yourself

The above is all nice on an intellectual level. But you won’t truly internalize this idea until you try it for yourself.

That’s why I propose a quick little experiment you can try right now.

Really, give it a shot! You’re reading this blog because you want to change your life. And guess what, changing your life takes action – just passively reading and hoping it to change your life is like reading a cooking book, and somehow expecting to become a master chef without actually cooking any of the recipes!

Okay, here’s what I propose.

Firstly, think of something that makes you mildly-to-moderately uncomfortable. On a 0-10 scale of discomfort where 0 means “zzzz” and 10 means “Eeeek!”, this would be about 3 to 6.

Take the time to really picture the scene. Feel it. Then, as you’re getting really into it… stop! Just notice how uncomfortable you felt on the 0-10 scale. Remember this number.

Next I’d like you to stand up tall and straight, with your feet firmly on the ground, shoulder-width apart. (If you’re in a situation where you can’t stand up, just sit up straight). Pull your shoulders back. Hold your head up high, like an emperor.

Next take three slo-o-o-ow, deep, breaths. After that, keep breathing deeply, and put a big smile on your face.

This might feel silly to you. Good. In fact, that’s excellent! It means that doing this is unfamiliar to you. Which means you will learn something by doing this exercise!

Holding exactly this body language (standing up tall and straight, shoulders pulled back, head up high, breathing deeply and smiling), think of the same situation as before. Make sure you keep the same body language and keep breathing deeply!

After thinking about the same situation for a few moments, notice how you feel. How uncomfortable are you, on a scale from 0-10?

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You will find that you simply cannot recreate those feelings in their full strength. It’s going directly against the wiring in your neural system to feel uncomfortable while holding comfortable, confident body language.

Okay, now that you truly get how this works, let’s bring out the trump card. The “What if” game!

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The “What if…” game

Before I share the “What if…” game with you, I want to make one thing clear. It is NOT a way to permanently boost your confidence, motivation, or any other desirable mind state.

It works absolutely brilliantly for giving you a quick, big boost in your mental state. But it’s not meant as a long-term solution.

If you want to feel, for example, more confident in the long term, you’re much better off gradually building your confidence. Yes, it’s slower, but it has a lasting effect.

The “What if…” game, on the other hand, is brilliant whenever you need a quick, immediate boost.

All clear?

Alright!

The “What if…” game is very simple. Whenever you want a quick boost in a desirable mental state, just ask yourself the following questions. I will use confidence as an example, but you can substitute motivation, peace, or any other desirable state:

  • When in the past have you felt supremely, asbolutely confident? How did you hold your body? How did you move? Change your current body language to be more like that.
  • Think of any idol of confidence in your mind (for example James Bond). Imagine stepping into their body, and looking at the world through their eyes. How would you then behave? How would you gesture? What expression would you hold on your face? What thoughts would be going through your head?
  • What if you were feeling supremely, unstoppably confident right now? How would you hold your body? How would you speak to others? What would your thoughts be?

And as you answer all the above questions, and take the time to imagine them, let your body language change. Move the way you would move if you were unstoppably confident. Gesture they way you would. Breathe the way you would.

With practice, this game will take you less than a minute to complete. And it will give you a powerful surge of confidence, or whatever other desirable mind state you’re focusing on.

Use it wisely, for with great power comes great responsibility! 😉

Top 9 Tips for Manage Your Household Like a CEO

What does a company’s CEO know that you don’t?

Usually, top executives have an arsenal of tips and tricks for managing their employees most effectively. And, if a household is like a business, you, as Mom, are the top executive of your household, or MCEO, if you will.

We spoke to some women who pull double-duty as both Mom and CEO to find out the most useful, effective tips they’ve brought home from the office.

From managing babysitters to finishing to-do lists, their insight can help your household (not to mention your office) run at peak efficiency, saving both time and money.

1. Be Solutions-Oriented

Instead of just refusing your kids’ request or disapproving of their behavior, be clear about what they should be doing. “Don’t just say no, or accept no,” says Deborah Michael, founder of North Shore Pediatric Therapy. She points out that blaming and screaming won’t get an executive, or a mom, very far. (Work-wise, employees respond better to “Do this instead” than to “That’s terrible. You shouldn’t have done that.”) We went more in-depth about her preferred method of managing underlings, which involves the ABCs of behavioral training.

2. Always Have a Backup

Always have a Plan —or Person—B.  Margelit Hoffman of Hoffman Productions keeps her ear to the ground, always looking for new talent. In the workplace, it means keeping an eye out for promising new hires, and at home it means staying on alert for great babysitters, lest her go-to sitter fall through. “Always be looking. I’m learning the hard way to use this idea when it comes to babysitters. There always comes a time when you need backup.”

3. Limit Your To-Do List

Chandra Clarke, co-founder of Scribendi.com, recommends keeping ‘to-do’ lists short. “If you set yourself (or someone else) a task list that has ten items, and eight items get crossed off, that is actually an 80% success rate, but it still somehow feels like a failure,” she says. “We keep it to a ‘top three,’ which is updated daily. If you get your top three done, then you feel great, and anything else you get done feels like a bonus. Restricting it to three items really forces you to prioritize.”

4. Go High-Tech
In her office, Fashion Forward Maternity CEO Erin Lewis uses Google Calendar to sort out competing schedules, travel and appointments. Now she’s instituted it at home as well. “My husband and I both travel for work, and I’m currently finishing my MBA,” she says. “We have two children, two part-time nannies and a daycare schedule to follow, so we give everyone access to Google Calendar. That way we can plan ahead and  look back and make sure we’re planning enough fun family time.”

5. Be a Winning Team

Nellie Akalp, the CEO and co-founder of CorpNet.com, finds that operating as a team provides the most success, especially in her family of six. “At the office we work as a team. Then, when things go right, we all get to share in the company’s success. It’s the same at home–every member of the family fulfills his or her responsibilities (like setting the dinner table, cleaning the house, making beds, taking out trash, cleaning up after the dog), and we all get to share a comfortable home.” To encourage the teamwork mentality, she rewards good behavior by allowing the family to choose a fun activity they would like to do as a group instead of rewarding individual members.

6. Get the Information Upfront

Ask for all of the information before making a decision. At work, Sandi Webster, a Principal at Consultants 2 Go and former Director at American Express, needs all of the information and total cost upfront to see if there’s room in the budget for what her employee wants, and when raising her niece, she asks for the same. She started asking why her niece needed the requested treat/toy/outing at age three. “By the time they’re teenagers, they’re used to you explaining when, where, how (How do they expect to get there? How much will it cost?) and who (Who is going to chaperone? Who is going to be there?).”

7. Stick to the Schedule

Petplan co-founder and co-CEO Natasha Ashton finds that her employees work best when they know exactly where they stand and what to expect. She structures the office to disrupt her employees’ schedule as little as possible, and applies the same diligence to her son’s schedule: When he was only six weeks old, she created a spreadsheet detailing his routine, and has been similarly conscientious for  years. “Children hate nothing more than uncertainty,” she explains. “Even when we’re traveling for work, we make sure his routine isn’t disrupted. He always has the same mealtimes, bath time, story time and bedtime. Relying on his schedule gives him the reassurance he needs to thrive.”

8. Treat Personal Finances Like a Departmental Budget

Linda Drumright, CEO of DecisionView, treated her children’s spending like a company budget when she sent them off to college. “Before they left, we sat down and listed every single expense we could think of in an Excel spreadsheet, estimated the monthly cost, and I gave them the appropriate amount of money. They were able to take ownership over the funds and choose how the money was allotted. We re-evaluated the expenses every summer and, surprisingly, it was easy for them to stick to the budget.”

9. You Have to Be Trusted to Be Trustworthy

Don’t be afraid to trust your kids with challenges. Raising four teenagers, Drumright found that she had to take the leap and trust them when it came to curfews and driving, even when she was nervous. In the workplace, that means trusting an employee to take on a challenge so she can grow professionally; at home, it means trusting your children to take on increased responsibility and prove that you were correct to trust them in the first place. “If you’ve done your job as a parent, you should be able to trust your children. The only way to find out is to try,” she says.

Best sites and apps to discover fresh new music

“What kind of music do you like?” is something that you’ve most likely been asked and have questioned others at some point in your life. Perhaps you like dance, pop, rock, or even dance-pop-rock. In today’s fast-paced, interconnected world, it’s easy to access a wide selection of media, so it’s fairly acceptable to like an expansive variety of genres that are constantly being reinvented. But, where does one consistently find new and enjoyable music? With so many artists out there trying to have their sound heard, it can be difficult to hone in on music worth listening to, which is why having an extensive array of media outlets providing insight can come in handy. Today, we bring you the best sites and apps to help you refine your search and discover the latest music to grace your ears.

1. Spotify


Spotify is a multi-platform app that is an excellent source for not only listening to your favorites, but to aid in your discovery of new music. It allows you to keep a collection of music in your own digital library. You get unlimited access for the first 6 months. After that, there is a limit of 10 hours per month, unless you purchase a monthly subscription. You can create your own playlists and even share what you’re listening to across several social networks like Facebook and Twitter. On the main page of the program, you can always find the latest album releases and take a listen to figure out whether you like it or not. Each artist you click on has a “Related artists” section that introduces you to other artists with a similar sound. Additionally, you can click on “Start Artist Radio” which plays an automated track list of similar artists.

2. NPR Music


NPR Music is National Public Radio’s extensive site devoted to music. There are several headings under this main page that offer expert critiques and exclusive peeks into the best music out there today. All Songs Considered is part of the highly respected music section of NPR where host Bob Boilen and producer Robin Hilton release a weekly podcast by the same name that shares the best new music for the masses to discover. The program’s blog is updated frequently with articles pertaining to album reviews and upcoming shows and tours the duo are looking forward to. In addition, Tiny Desk Concert is an excellent source for hearing an eclectic mix of bands spanning different genres performing live (often acoustic) sets by Boilen’s desk in the NPR Music office.

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3. TuneIn


TuneIn is a site that offers over 50,000 different radio stations to listen to from around the world. While the site also provides listening channels for those interested in talk radio and sports broadcasting, there is a vast section designated for music stations, categorized by location, genre, and even sub-genres to help listeners find what they’re looking for. Whether you’re in the mood for a basic Top 40 in your city or you’re looking to expand your horizons on global hits on the other side of the earth, this free service will aid you in your musical discovery. There is also a handy app available (TuneIn Radio) for your on-the-go devices.

4. Pitchfork


Pitchfork was launched by Ryan Schreiber nearly two decades ago in 1995 and has maintained its strong and loyal following. The site is a leading force in covering content about underground and independent music. While its main focus lies in indie rock music, it certainly plays a part in turning small, unknown bands, into breakout hits that crossover into the mainstream. For anyone interested in being the first to know about a band before they become popular, Pitchfork is the site to go to. It offers breaking interviews and extensive album reviews that are rated from 0.0 (the worst) to 10.0 (the best). The site also includes a “Best New Music” section where it features a frequently updated list of the best new tracks, and is known to offer full streams of albums before they are released.

5. Shazam


Music is constantly around us and Shazam offers a sure-fire way to make sure you discover the artist and track name of the song you hear, wherever you are. The app allows users to discover, explore, share, and even buy music with just a few clicks. All that’s required for the app to recognize a song is an internet connection. It has an extensive library of music that can identify songs in over 30 languages. With the additional new feature called LyricPlay, you can even see the lyrics to over 30,000 popular songs in real-time, turning your listening party into a sing-along.

6. Pandora


Pandora is a well-known site that has replaced the traditional radio for many in search of a continuous playlist of music that suits their tastes. This internet radio of sorts functions on the Music Genome Project, which represents a decade-long collection and analysis of music, allowing the program to identify up to 450 distinct musical characteristics. Through this carefully classified database that is continually growing, Pandora is able to customize a favorable radio experience for users, according to the song, artist, or genre with which they choose to start their musical journey.

7. The Hype Machine


The Hype Machine started as an experimental project in 2005 and has since grown into a business followed and run by avid music fans. The site serves as an aggregator of the best music blogs out there. The hundreds of blogs that the site pulls from include posts about new, underground music acts as well as reviews of mainstream artists. The blogs they carefully curate and share often contain MP3 links which can all conveniently be streamed on the site. While the Hype Machine itself doesn’t offer downloads of the MP3 files, it supports artists by providing iTunes and Amazon links to purchase their tracks. Another neat feature includes the ability to create your own customizable playlist with the vast library of music on the site.

8. SoundCloud


SoundCloud is more than just a site that offers streams of music. It is a self-proclaimed “social sound platform.” The audio networking and communicating site allows anyone to upload their music and share it with everyone. Exploring the site can really introduce you to the latest, emerging artists and perhaps discover a new, experimental sound you haven’t heard before. The great thing about SoundCloud, other than its social sharing capabilities, is its open and interactive community. Within a sound clip, fellow listeners can leave comments ranging from their ecstatic response to a crescendo to their disappointment in lyrical repetitiveness.

9. thesixtyone


Like SoundCloud, thesixtyone offers an arena for up-and-coming artists to upload their music and share it with the masses. It allows artists to showcase themselves and get direct feedback in accordance with their music’s popularity among listeners. The way thesixtyone operates is similar to a social game. The most user-elected favorite song is featured on the homepage. Users get to up- or down-vote a song, determining what makes it on the main page when anyone visits the site. It’s a great way to discover new music and contribute to what others get to hear. Adding more to the gaming aura of the site, participation is encouraged in the form of rewards in which you can “earn reputation, level up your influence, and collect badges.”

10. VEVO


VEVO is a music programming platform that has a special partnership with YouTube, allowing its services to reach over 200 countries. It also has ongoing deals with major music labels to share music videos of the latest and most popular artists across a number of genres. If you’re feeling out of the loop and need to refresh your contemporary musical awareness, the main site can confidently help out with its “charts” section listing the top artists, videos, and staff picks. Additionally, VEVO has a mobile and tablet app, and can even be viewed on your TV by linking it to your Xbox profile where you will have access to the entire library of over 11,000 artists.

How to Build Positive Friendships

Building Positive Friendships: Modern Tools & Old-Fashioned Self-Understanding

“How can someone you’ve never met possibly be considered a friend?” This challenge was posed to an old friend of mine, one who has “been there” for me in person in years past and now stays in touch via the internet. But can it actually work the other way round? Can we make “real friends” through technology, meeting them in person only later, if at all? Are the friends we make through non-traditional means actually “real friends”?

Modern technology has changed almost every aspect of life, and so it’s no small thing to consider: What exactly is a friend? What types of friends do I want? Who are my real friends? The answers deserve careful thought and reflection. No two people are going to come up with exactly the same definitions, filters and requirements. Whether we consciously know it or not, we all have a set of rules and definitions for friendship.

These rules are so much a part of us that we may get knocked for a loop when our “friends” do things that violate our rules—which may or may not be *their* rules. So how do you sort out it all out? In building a positive life, friendship can be one of the best parts of our world. It’s worth taking the time to understand our own minds and hearts. The best place to start is by taking the time to get to know what the terms “friend” and “friendship” mean to each of us.

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Self-Understanding

While there are no right or wrong answer to these questions, knowing your answers will help you build the friendships and the kind of life you want:

  • What makes a good and true friend?
  • How should they treat me?
  • How should I treat them?
  • What do they need to do or be before I trust them with my time, my possessions, and my private business?
  • Are they a friend if we don’t meet or spend time in the old-fashioned way?

Many friendships grow over time in terms of trust and intimacy. You can wind up being friends with someone that may not register when you first meet them. Friendship can sneak up on you, surprise you after years of acquaintance, and become much more than you ever expected.  Others are almost instantaneous bond. There’s no set pattern, but if take the time to learn what you need to get and give in friendships, your chances of cultivating positive and lasting ones are all the stronger.

Communication

There are many different types of friends that we might have in the course of a lifetime. Each holds the potential to enhance our lives and allow us to enhance theirs. Above all else, friends of every sort and level are cultivated with communication of some kind.

Within our world of technological marvels, there are more and better tools for meeting people, sharing interests, and making friends of all sorts than ever before. Whatever shape our friendships take, they’re brought to life and sustained with communication.

It may take only a few words, a good deed, or single shared grimace to bring a friendship into being that will last a lifetime. Or it may be the work of many years and conversations, and countless hours over equally countless cups of coffee. The method is much less important than the quality of that communication. There are as many ways to make friends and keep them as there are people in this world. Your mileage will vary.

We do take a risk when we trust, whether it’s in person or via technology. There are always going to be those who would take advantage of our generosity and capacity for friendship. Still, it’s a risk that I consider well worth the gamble. There are basic precautions to be taken with any new relationship—or even existing ones. A good dose of sensibility goes a long way, but that being said—there’s a whole world of people to discover.  And you never can tell where the friends you just haven’t met yet are going to be found.

Are Internet Friends ‘Real’ Friends?

So to answer the challenge posed earlier: I would have to say—- speaking for me and my definitions—absolutely! Someone that I have never once looked upon with my own eyes can be a good and true friend. I can and do have wonderful friends that I’ve never met in person and might never in this life. The joy that they bring is just as special as the joy that I get from the friends that live across town.

Can it be rightly said “That it’s not the same thing?” Of course it can—but then I don’t expect every friendship to be a carbon copy of every other. Everybody who has earned the title of “friend” in my life had earned it for unique reasons, under unique circumstances, each as individual as the person involved. Every relationship that deserves the crowning title of “friendship” is going to have its own particulars. So if the method of meeting and communication isn’t one my grandmother had at her disposal, then it’s just one more really cool thing about living when we do.

So, sit down by the fire some night, brew a hot cup of tea, and treat yourself to the positive experience of defining your own terms and kicking around a few questions on the nature of friendship for yourself. And who knows, maybe a friend will want in on the conversation — and whether they join you in person, by phone or other techno-marvel, revel in their  company.

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4 Personal Assistant Apps Like Apple’s Siri

what_is_siri_personal_assistant_apps.jpgSure, Siri can be a nice thing to have when you need to look up a quick fact or text a friend while you’re on the road. Just because Apple’s digital assistant has gotten so much hype, however, doesn’t mean you need to run out and buy an iPhone 4S in order to get your own portable personal assistant. While Siri is certainly the most well-known mobile assistant in town, there are quite a few out there that run on older iPhones and Android or Windows Phone mobile operating systems.

evi_app_left.jpg1. Evi

Price: 99 cents for iPhone, free for Android (beta)
Download: Evi for Android or iPhone Evi is a relatively new kid on the block, but probably the closest you’re going to get to Siri in terms of functionality. Just like Siri, you ask Evi questions and get answers. Evi is capable of doing basic web searches plus more complex tasks like helping you look for a restaurant or find the nearest ATM. You can ask Evi questions via text or voice, and you can rate the answers Evi gives you to help her learn and become even more intelligent.
2. Vlingo
Price: Free

Download: Vlingo for Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone Much like Siri, Vlingo can help you find restaurants near where you’re located, perform web searches for information, and email or text friends. Vlingo takes the role of personal assistant a little further than Siri, however, by also allowing you to update your Facebook and Twitter status from the app. A free version of the app allows for simple web searches, while the paid $10 version adds speech-to-text functionality.

3. Dragon Go!

Price: Free
Download: Dragon Go for Android or iPhone
Dragon Go is integrated with popular web services like OpenTable, YouTube, and Pandora, allowing you to interact with those services simply by talking to your phone, much like you do with Siri. The app can be used to perform tasks like buying movie tickets or performing web searches to look up facts. Findings can then be shared with your friends via Twitter, Facebook, Skype, and Gmail, all without leaving the app.
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4. Iris
Price: Free
Download: Iris for Android

Iris is a voice-activated personal assistant for Android that is integrated with services such as YouTube, Twitter, and Bing. You can ask Iris to do things like call or text your friends, search for restaurants nearby, play music, find news, or pull up your favorite cat video from YouTube. The Android-only app requires you to have both Voice Search and TTS library installed on your Android phone to work; however, most Android phones come with both preinstalled.
Use what you’ve got
Don’t forget that phones running Android 2.2 and higher have built-in voice functionality from the get-go. You may not even need a new app, if you’re looking to execute basic spoken commands and translate your speech into text.

If you’re not keen on the apps above, let us know what you’ve found in the comments below.

Top 5 Sites To Bring Your Ideas to Life

Have you ever felt like you had an idea for the next big thing, but no way to see it through? Inventions and creative projects require time, planning, expertise and money. You might have loads of the first three, but if you don’t have the last one then your idea will never become a reality. Or worse, someone else will do it first. But that doesn’t have to be the case because there are some great websites that can help you take your ideas to the next level. Check out these 5 great sites that can help bring your ideas to life.
Kickstarter.jpgKickstarter
Like the name implies, Kickstarteris a great place for creative people to kickstart their projects. Since its launch in 2009 the site has helped fund thousands of new products and projects. Kickstarter is ideal for inventors, artists or anyone creative. Projects relating to art, design, film and technology tend to succeed.

How it works:
Kickstarter uses an “all or nothing” model of crowd funding. So if a project’s goals aren’t met then money never changes hands, which minimizes risk for all parties. Each fundraising page has a video, a goal and a deadline. Backers are given rewards based on their contribution, which can be anything from a credit on the company’s website to a prototype of a product.

Success Story:
The creators of Coffee Joulies raised $306,944 (about 32 times their original goal) on Kickstarter. Because they raised so much money they were able to manufacture their product in the USA.
Lucky-Ant.jpgLucky Ant
Lucky Ant puts a hyper local spin on crowd funding by focusing on local businesses. Every week the site features a small business that needs money in order to expand or offer new services. The idea is that by supporting local businesses, people are investing in their own neighborhood. Currently Lucky Ant on serves New York City.
How it works:
Similar to Kickstarter, Lucky Ant campaigns each have a goal and a deadline. Business owners can also offer rewards for different pledge amounts, such as free products or services.

Success Story:

Manhattan based fitness studio, Bari raised $5,000 in order to trademark their unique workout program. Without funding the owners had no way to protect their brand, but now, who knows–Bari may become the next P90X or Zumba.

Quirky.jpgQuirky
Unlike crowd funding sites, Quirky doesn’t help fund good ideas–they actualize them. Anyone with an idea for a product can post it on Quirky for a chance to turn it into a reality.

How it works:
Anyone can post an idea, which then gets evaluated for 30 days by the Quirky community. Behind the scenes, the site is constantly tracking which ideas are the most popular. If the Quirky staff finds a popular product that they think might actually succeed, they’ll mark it “under consideration.” Every week at least 2 ideas are chosen to go into production. Ideas that aren’t chosen can be resubmitted to Quirky or taken elsewhere.
RocketHub.jpgRocketHub
RocketHub sets themselves apart by offering two distinct services, FuelPad and LaunchPad. In the FuelPad section of the site users can seek crowd funding for their projects. In the LaunchPad section creative folks can throw their hat in the ring for a chance to win an incredible opportunity.
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How it works:

The FuelPad works a bit like Kickstarter. However, rather than employing an “all or nothing” model RocketHub lets you keep all of the money you raise regardless of your goal. The LaunchPad section features auditions for great opportunities. Creative people can submit their case for why they should be chosen for a specific opportunity. A panel of judges review each submission, fans vote on their favorite submissions, and a winner is chosen. Past opportunities include spending a week making music at the Gibson Music Retreat and working with famous publicist Arien Rozelle.

Success Story:

While most people use RocketHub to fuel a creative project, the creative team behind the web series Extra Credits asked their fans to help pay for surgery for one of their teammates. Their original goal was $15,000 but they raised nearly 7 times that amount. Thanks to the overflow the Extra Credits team now plans to support indie game developers.

IndieGoGo.jpgIndieGoGo
Unlike some other crowd funding sites, pretty much anything goes on IndieGoGo. You’ll find everything from creative projects to people who need help paying for medical treatment. Since the site was started in 2008 it has helped raise millions of dollars across 60,000 campaigns.
How it works:
Anyone can start a campaign, whether it’s for a cause, a business or a project. Each project has a goal and a deadline, but the creator can keep the funds even if their goal isn’t met. Different contribution amounts often can come with different perks, like hand written thank you cards or a product.
Success Story:
The creators of the eMAKER Huxley 3D printer raised $158,685, exceeding their goal by almost $130,000. Thanks to their success on IndieGoGo, they were able to develop innovative open source 3D printers and make them available to the mass market at a reasonable price.
Did we miss any great sites that help you get an idea off the ground? Tell us in the comments.
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