Saturday, June 29, 2013

You're Fired..... It's Not What You Say!

Statics show every American will be fired at least once in their lifetime. Well, if you're on the other end of the spectrum- firing someone can be hard. But, it doesn't have to be. There are some phrases that you can avoid using. These phrases will help the firing goes as well as it can without escalating into an office crisis.

1. Don't say "this is really hard for me." Remember, it isn't personal, it is business. Firing someone because he or she didn't perform well isn't a hard decision to make.

2. We're going in a different direction. This sentence is not a valid reason to let someone go. In fact, the best thing you can do for the person you are firing is let them know where he or she failed so the action can be corrected in the future.

3. "We're cutting staff." Don't say this unless it is true. Lying about this can lead to a lawsuit.

There are times to say what is really on your mind. When you're firing someone- remember, this isn't one of those times. Personal reasons can lead to issues within your company so be direct and be swift.

Twyla

Friday, June 28, 2013

Don't Start A Business.

Chances are you know many dreamers. These are people who love to talk the talk but never will walk the walk when it comes to business. These people are too busy reviewing the numbers and trying to consult and learn about ever risk involved with their potential business venture. While we all want to navigate the waters of business as accurately as possible, it just isn't possible.

People who are afraid to take a chance on themselves will never have anyone else truly interested in investing in them. I'm noting my top 5 "I'm going to start a business but...." excuses. Yes, I have heard them all!

1. I have no money. I laugh at this because I came from nothing. Literally, nothing. And, I'm not alone. Richard Branson started Virgin with $200 dollars. Money is no factor for those who don't have it. Like Nike said - just do it.

2. I'm waiting for the economy to turn around. This is a lame excuse, too. When is the economy going to ever be right to start a business? Businesses are challenging. Most don't make money the first one or two years. There will never be a set of perfect circumstances to help your business get off of the ground. You have to make the most of the economy, not be afraid of it.

3. People say it won't work. Do you do everything people tell you to? If so, you need more help then my blog can offer! My own mother told me I wouldn't amount to.... anyway, don't be afraid to define yourself. After all, it is more scary to be defined by others.

4. I don't want to quit my job until I have money rolling in. Well, then you're not committed to your idea. Again, there are no perfect circumstances. You have to sacrifice things to get a business off of the ground. If you can't walk away from your job, you're not fit to run a business.

5. I need more input. No one is going to give you their business secrets. Advice yes, secrets no. So, you will never have a blueprint as to what is going to work and what is going to fail. Don't let a quest for input allow opportunities to pass you by.

Twyla

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Worst States to Be An Entrepreneur!

If you're like me, you want to succeed in business. But, did you know there are a few states that can actually hinder your ability to be an entrepreneur? It's true!

Wisconsin is a bad state to start a business in. Why? Well, education. A good business owner needs lots of employee support- which apparently, according to several studies anyway, isn't available in Wisconsin. Entrepreneurs should also stay away from is Iowa. There is nothing wrong, business wise, with Iowa. The problem is people aren't flocking there. The same with Indiana. These two states actually have great tax rates when it comes to business, but since people aren't running to them to live- businesses are failing. Why would entrepreneurs look to Iowa or Indiana to grow businesses when there are no customers? It doesn't make sense, which is why these are two places to stay away from as an entrepreneur.

Last on my list (which actually makes it the top place to run from) is Maine. This is one state that penalizes entrepreneurs with a lot of licensing fees, taxes, employment red tape,etc. In addition, Maine doesn't have a huge population, which means if you aren't offering services or products via the Internet- your company's consumer base is going to be limited.

Starting a business is hard enough. Location is everything, literally! If you pick not only the wrong physical location- but the wrong state to license your business in- you could be dead in the water before your first customer walks through the door!

Until next time,
Twyla

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Public Speaking - Exposing the Scams!

Part of my career has been, and still is, speaking at public events. I'm invited to talk to groups of all sizes almost on a daily basis. But, this industry is also plagued by scam artists. If you're thinking of hiring a public speaker, or even becoming one, let me share some tips with you to avoid being scammed.

First, get a contract and a payment. This may seem obvious, but I have heard horror stories from newbie speakers and event planners. Don't be afraid to ask for a contract and a deposit. If the other party can't provide this, don't go for it. Too many people have been burned within this industry based on the promise of payment after performance. Contracts are a must and deposits are a must. Never demand payment in full, never accept no payment at all. A 50/50 payment will make both parties involved accountable when it comes to the contract's execution.

You should become affiliate with MPI to avoid any funny business. If you're not speaking at an event sanctioned by a member of MPI, you need to keep your guard up until you become familiar with the client. Not familiar with MPI? Click here for a list of what it is, the types of members you could be working with, and more!

Finally, don't send advanced material without a deposit. There are some meeting planners who like local, cheaper talent. But, this talent might not have the right message. So, the meeting planner has you send your material at no cost (pending a possible job) and then turns that material over to a cheaper, less qualified speaker to present. You should have a video clip on your website- or at least relevant information that will give a planner the basics of your presentation / talk without providing all the materials up front.

Being a public speaker isn't easy. There are a lot of speakers out there, contracts are sparse. You have to protect yourself and your brand from scams. Follow my above steps and you'll be less likely to become the victim of one.

Tywla

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Resources for Non-Profits Businesses.

I have received several questions about nonprofit resources. Well, I am happy to help. Below is a list of linked resources if you have, or are thinking about starting, a nonprofit business.

First, you should know about your industry. There is a news source online, well several. I prefer Charity Channel. You can access it by clicking here.

Next, evaluate your idea. You can download a free document on how to evaluate your nonprofit idea, before it materializes, by clicking here.

Got volunteers? Chances are you will need them. Don't fly by the seat of your pants once the nonprofit is up and running. Sure, you will need employees. However, volunteers are the business' backbone and the greatest ambassador for your group / business. Click here for more info on how to get volunteers, manage them and keep them coming back!

Finally, you want to check out this resource and become part of it. What is it? The National Council of Nonprofit Organizations. This Council is a network of dozens of state and regional associations ranging from large to small, well-established to just starting up, in all fields, including technology, social service, education, health, and cultural activities. Click here to visit the official webpage.

Starting a nonprofit business or organization can be very rewarding. But the law requires a lot from you. Please check out the resources I provided and then get with a mentor within the industry.

Twyla

Monday, June 24, 2013

The 411 on Disasters

My business is working to help prevent and recover from disasters. Sure, this is the simple definition of it all- there is more to my job and what my company can do. However, I often get asked about the types of disasters, if there are warnings, and what to do during a disaster.

Below is a simple guide on the types of disasters that can occur (at least the most common).

Hurricanes

Hurricanes are violent areas of low pressure forming in the tropical Atlantic Ocean from June to November. Hurricanes have winds of 75 miles per hour or more and are accompanied by torrential rains and along coastal regions storm surge.
Hurricane Classifications
Hurricane strength is classified using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Damage Potential Scale. This scale correlates hurricane strength to barometric pressure, windspeed, and storm surge as shown in the table below. The Scale can be accessed by clicking here.

Tornadoes

Tornadoes are powerful, circular windstorms that may be accompanied by winds of 200 or more miles per hour. Tornadoes may range in width from several hundred yards to more than one mile across. Parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida are at highest risk of tornado strike.
Tornado Classifications

Tornadoes are classified using the Fujita Wind Damage Scale. You can view this Scale by clicking here.

Earthquakes

Earthquakes are a shaking or trembling of the earth, caused by underground volcanic forces or by breaking and shifting of rock beneath the surface. Although the area of greatest earthquake risk is the west coast, where tectonic activity occurs along the San Andreas fault, other areas of the United States are also at risk of earthquakes.
Earthquake Classifications
Earthquakes are classified as small, moderate, major, or great based on the Richter scale (a measure of energy released during the quake). The Richter scale has a logarithmic base, so each increment on the scale is multiplied by a factor that is 10 times larger than the previous factor. To view this Scale click here.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

How to Get a Business Loan.

Obtaining a business loan in today's economic culture is challenging. You might have perfect credit, but that doesn't mean you will get a great rate- if a loan at all. I've complied some tips to improve our chances for getting a business loan.

Start off by knowing your debt ratio. One of the most basic measures of a company’s creditworthiness is the Debt Service Coverage ratio, which shows a firm’s ongoing ability to keep in control both debt and interest. The Debt Service Coverage Ratio, defined as EBITDA divided by a firm’s current portion of long-term debt and interest expense, is an extremely important metric for predicting default.

Review your net sales. If sales are low you have to consider one of two options. First, increasing profitable sales and lowering production costs – take time to identify and implement. "Lowering production costs often involves finding ways to get raw materials or key services more cheaply or to use less of them. Or it can mean identifying new, more efficient methods of producing a good or providing a service," according to Karen Berman and Joe Knight.

Finally, If you can show less debt and less spending, you have a better chance for getting a business loan versus a person with perfect credit but a high amount of debt.

Twyla

How to Avoid Investing in Friends.

Have you ever been placed in an uncomfortable position by a friend? It happens a lot. And, it can cause the loss of a friendship. Many business owners and CEOs are often approached by friends and relatives with investment opportunities. You don't have to be uncomfortable anymore. You can say no and maintain the relationship.

I put together a few easy tips to help you say no to bad investments without becoming the bad guy.

1. Don't say no right away. If you say no right away your friend will resent you for not even considering the idea. Ask to see a presentation packet and take it home. Do look it over. Even if you already made up your mind and are going to say know. After all, this is your friend and he or she deserves an hour of your time. Jot down a few ideas where the presentation packet can be improved upon. The next time you see your friend, bring back the packet with the notes. Explain that you don't feel you are the right person to invest in this project. Provide your friend with your notes and suggest he or she keep trying to obtain other investors because the idea has promise.

Don't, whatever you do, blame your spouse. This will cause friction in the relationship with your spouse. You can tell your friend no without using your relatives as a scapegoat. Another trick is to tell your friend that you're not considering investments at this time but you will be happy to help him or her promote the idea to other investors via social media. If you can become involved with the concept by providing resources and not money, your friend will feel like you are investing in the business concept.

There is never a right or wrong answer when letting a friend know that you will not be forking over cash to promote their business concept. Remember, it is not what you say but how you say it!

Happy Saturday,
Twyla

Friday, June 21, 2013

How To Get Free Office Supplies!

Pinching pennies isn't a bad thing. Business owners should know how to budget and barter, especially when it comes to office supplies. I'm listing some free advice on how to get office supplies legally and without paying a dime!

Glue Dots. Need to stick things.... click here and receive a free sample of Glue Dots.

Need pens? Accu-line will provide you with a free sample pack. Just click here.

Need to direct mail your neighborhood? Click here and the post office will provide you with all the info you need for free.

Use Intuit? Click here for a free iPhone reader.

Are you a non-profit organization? Click here for free office furniture.

You can find free office furniture, among other things, on The Freecycle Network. Check it out by clicking here.

You should also set up a Google alert for the term "free office supply samples". This will keep you in the loop when offers crawl across the web.

Happy Friday!

Twyla

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sales Tactics That Fail.

If you're in business, you have to sell. You're either selling your company to clients, investors or other businesses. Thus, you have to know how to sell. I've learned what works and what doesn't work over the years. If you want to amp up your sales, try these tactics and stay away from the failures I've listed.

Be exciting. Don't fail your business by being boring. Presentations that are too long, even if they have substantial information to offer, will not result in a sale. Cut to the chase and present what is exciting about your company and/or proposal. You can work out details later.

Be mean. Yes, don't be too nice to potential clients. Being too nice can make the client feel like you're desperate for the sale. When you're overly accommodating clients tend not to respect you or your services much. So, be firm and polite, but not overly nice.

I read this one on Inc.com. And, I have used it. The article states that a sales person, "uses his or her neocortex, part of the brain that can handle complex reasoning and data analysis. But the potential customer processes those messages through a more primitive, instinct-aware part of the brain. Consider car marketing: no one wants to hear about gas ratios or complicated navigation systems; they want to know how they'll feel tearing down the highway at 90 miles an hour. Unless asked details, stick to emotion and narrative when selling."

Don't be too available either. If you respect your time, so will your potential clients. In fact, they will feel lucky to have you on their team. When you walk into a sales pitch, tell them you only have 30 minutes to talk with them and answer questions. At the twenty minute mark wrap up your sales pitch, mentioning you have another meeting with potential clients, and that you would love to provide one-on-one service when they sign the deal.

Although these tactics seem harsh, the nicer versions have failed me in the past. Save yourself from learning the hard lessons I subjected myself to. Be firm with potential clients and your sales tactics won't fail.

Until next time,
Twyla

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

FEMA & Your Business.

Let't talk turkey. FEMA may have to help your business recover from a disaster one day. We can't predict unexpected weather events or other emergencies. But, we can prepare for them. As a business owner, you should understand what role FEMA plays in disaster recovery. I speak more about this topic in my up coming book. However, I'm going to list the basics below with some resources. Print this document out and keep it with your other emergency related docs.

Links

FEMA & The IRS. Click here.

FEMA's Official Business Protection Webpage. Click here.

Text Messages from FEMA

Hurricanes: text HURRICANE to 43362 (4FEMA)
Home fires: text FIRE to 43362 (4FEMA)
Wildfires: text WILDFIRE to 43362 (4FEMA)
Tornadoes: text TORNADO to 43362 (4FEMA)
Earthquakes: text EARTHQUAKE to 43362 (4FEMA)
Winter storms and extreme cold: text WINTER to 43362 (4FEMA)
Power outages: text BLACKOUT to 43362 (4FEMA)
Floods: text FLOOD to 43362 (4FEMA)
To search for open shelters: text SHELTER and a Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA)

General monthly safety tips: text PREPARE to 43362 (4FEMA)

If subscribing to more than one list, please send a separate text for each disaster type you would like to subscribe to. There is no limit to the number of lists you can subscribe to. Sending STOP will automatically unsubscribe you from all our lists. You can re-subscribe to the list(s) of your choice one-by-one. Updates are bi-monthly and are meant to help businesses and people prepare for and respond to a disaster.

Again, I discuss FEMA and Homeland Security in my upcoming book. To sign-up to buy it first, please click here: www.authortwylagarrett.com

Until next time,
Twyla

Saturday, June 15, 2013

3 Good Steps To Start A Business.

Starting a business can be as simple as 1, 2, 3. Here are the basics tips to get started with a business.

1. Don't give up. Too many business owners will get frustrated within the first year. Things will go wrong, you will spend more than expected, you will deal with employees and clients whom aren't honest. Don't let all of this detour you. Stay in the game.

2. Don't take out loans you can't pay back. If you need to get creative with financing, do so. If you need to pay yourself 1/2 of what you were paid working for another employer, do so. If you have to get a second job, do it. Don't, however, take our high interest loans that will doom your business.

3. Don't copy someone else's business plan. Too often I see people download a business template online or use a friend's template. Each business is unique to their owners specific goals and circumstances. You can't mirror someone else's plan so don't try to do this.

If you don't give up, stay away from high interest loans, and remain unique- your business has a fighting chance.

Until next time,
Twyla

Friday, June 14, 2013

Free Business Classes- Where to Find Them Online!

As business people, we are always on a budget and super busy- right? Right! Well, I've dug up some amazing resources to help you attend business school online and for free.

Start with Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. Their Small Business Development Center offers more than 90 free online business courses to self learners. Courses cover a wide range of business topics, including accounting, advertising, business planning, finance, management, marketing, sales, and small business tax. Click here to visit the school.

The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a free accounting course. he course provides an overview of fundamental accounting topics. Course materials are easy to understand and take approximately 30 minutes to review. You can access the free course materials by clicking on the course name below. When you have finished the course, you can request a certificate of completion from the Small Business Administration. You can find the course by clicking here.

MIT offers a free technology and communication course. The self-guided course includes video lectures, lecture notes, assignments, and exams with solutions. You can access the free course materials by clicking on the course name below. You can access this course by clicking here.

So you see, there are free and valid resources for business school online.

Happy Friday,
Twyla

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Benefits of Hiring the Disabled.

There is this misconception within the business world that alludes to hiring the disabled as a hassle. It is a real fact. Business owners are not sure what the laws are; they're usually unsure as to what ADA requests need to be made and not made. Plus, there is a stereotype associated with being disabled, which hinders more business owners each and every day. You see, hiring the disabled is a win-win. You create a job for someone who needs it and your company has an asset with experience not only within your industry- but with overcoming challenges. Disabled people make great employees and their unique points of view actually make this group of workers more valuable than someone who does't have a physical or mental disability.

In addition to gaining some great talent, there are other benefits of hiring disabled employees.

First, businesses can deduct the cost of making their facility more accessible to disabled workers, such as removing barriers or installing ramps, and small businesses may be eligible for a disabled access credit. They may also qualify for the work opportunity credit, which is available to companies that hire workers with special employment needs.

According to SmallBusiness.com, "From a public relations standpoint, hiring disabled workers can create a more positive image for your business. If you operate in a small community, you can quickly establish a reputation as a company that offers a more diverse workforce. This may make you more attractive to prospective employees, customers and business associates."

Plus, your workplace will become more tuned-in with the culture of tomorrow. More and more companies are allowing employees to work from home. Starting this practice with a disabled person can actually help your company adapt to new work-from-home guidelines.

Other benefits disabled workers bring your business: They create more efficient and effective business processes.
The can develop and implement management strategies to attract and retain other qualified talent.
They will help you use technology in new ways to increase productivity.

And, here is a link for more info on the IRS' website.

Twyla

Monday, June 10, 2013

How to handle a natural disaster or act of violence at work.

I help businesses and government agencies prepare for and prevent disasters of all types. But, for those of you who can't hire IME's services, here are some basic steps to handling a disaster event at work.

Start with signing up for the American Red Cross' First Aid|CPR |AED classes. The website reads, "Would you know what to do in a cardiac, breathing or first aid emergency? The right answer could help you save a life. With an emphasis on hands-on learning, our First Aid/CPR/AED courses give you the skills to save a life. All course options align with OSHA’s Best Practices for Workplace First Aid Training Programs and are available in classroom and blended learning formats. Certification is issued upon successful completion. Free online refreshers are available with all course options."

2. After attending to any urgent medical needs, revert into your company's Emergency Protocol. If you haven't developed one yet- do so. Not only does this act help you save money on company insurance, it saves lives!

3. If the incident is a violent one, or a verbal bullying issues, report it to law enforcement. You may have survived the incident (or witnessing it), but the same person can commit the act again- or escalate it by returning with weapons hours later. Take notice and report all minor acts of violent of verbal abuse to law enforcement and have the employee removed from the building.

4. Know key state and national resource numbers. During a violent or natural disaster it is possible for communication lines to go down. Don't be lost without resources. Physically write down key numbers to employees and resources and keep them in your purse or wallet.

5. Have guiding principals in place to address disasters at work after the fact. These should include, but not be limited to;
- Treat all matters seriously.
- Don’t victimize anyone who was a witness to a violent act or the victim of a natural disaster by improperly question them.
- Act with impartiality towards all parties, avoiding any personal or professional bias.
- Consult with health and safety representatives.
- Document the process, recording all meetings and interviews with details of who was present and agreed outcomes.

Until next time,
Twyla

Saturday, June 8, 2013

IME is Hiring Law Enforcement Personanel

IME is hiring fifty (50) former or retired law enforcement personnel for our domestic and foreign training department. IME has been contracted to provide instruction to National and several International Police departments on the following course subjects listed below.

All trainers must be able to obtain a valid US Passport and can reside anywhere within the US. Our rate of pay ranges from $70 - $80 per hour plus all per diem. All Course Material has been developed, so the instructors just need to deliver the lesson. Each course is 20 hours in length (4 – 5 hour days). Once you are qualified as an IME trainer, you can provide instruction several courses if you desire. If interested please forward a detailed CV/ resume with call contact information to tgarrett@ime-mts.com for immediate consideration, many courses will start July 7, 2013.

Training Course

Basic security procedures in fire incidents
The limitations on using gun power from legal prospective
Vehicles inspection
Surveillance operation
environment, health and safety System
The investigation of sexual crimes
Skills to trace the perpetrators and wanted
Introduction to Criminal Investigation investigators and elements of the new investigations
Information security field
Iris skills
Constituent border ports
Dealing with the criminal communications
Rosary Foundation
How to use the ladder fire brigade
Attribution of basic life for children (ITLS)
Investigation of cyber crime
The process of criminal investigation and collecting evidence
Police Operations in crisis and disaster management
Ethics and behavior of members of the CID
Skills, a sense of security to the traffic police
Dealing with mass casualty incidents
Procedures for dealing with reports of kidnapping
Investigate the crimes of kidnapping
Identify and analyze the priorities for crimes
Security measures and the protection of ports and airports
Skills arrest and Inspection
Develop the skills of a sense of security
Rescue in the valleys and flood
Basic criminal investigations patrols
Search in economic crimes
Banknotes examination

Friday, June 7, 2013

Free Templates for Your Business.

Business owners have to save money. It is the very thing that helps us fund marketing campaigns, make corporate donations, and it can help us meet a great potential employee's pay requirements.

One way to save money is to save on business forms and templates. Entrepreneur.com has some amazing free templates that can get any business headed in the right direction. To access the free business forms please click here.

There are other free resources and forms that business owners have access to, thanks to the Internet. I also like Score.org because the website offers templates and online presence tool kits. The website also offers online workshops that are essential for every new business owner.

If you're a new or seasoned business owners, the two websites mentioned above are worth investigating. Not only can they save you money, they can provide you with new networking and growth ideas.

And don't forget, I'm hosting a free online webinar in July. You can sign up now by clicking here.

Happy Friday,
Twyla

Thursday, June 6, 2013

My Personal Website is Up!

I'm so pleased to announce that my personal website is up. You can find it at AuthorTwylaGarrett.com or HireACorporateSpeaker.com

This website is offering a free webinar for people who want my business advice. The webinar will take place in July and you can sign up now via the website. Also, if you're looking for more information about me, my companies, my speaking programs and/or personal coaching, the website offers a lot of information that can answer all of your questions!

I look forward to talking with all of you at the webinar.

Twyla

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Business TV Shows... What I Am Watching.

There seems to be limit on the amount of business related television shows out there. Sure, most of the business shows are staged, but you can still learn something from them. I decided to make a list of my favorite business TV shows. After all, even when I am relaxing- work and business are always on my mind.

Parks and Recreation. I love this show because it shows just how strange inner office relationships can get. It has business as the backdrop but really is funny.

Mad Men. Who doesn't love this show. If you haven't watched it yet- you're missing out. This show is all about workplace drama.

I am including The Office (both American and British versions) on my list. Sure, it isn't running any longer but reruns are available. There is one of everyone in every real office when watching the fictional version on TV.

I took a break tonight from our normal business conversations. Why? Well, in the next few weeks we will be diving into some pretty heavy business topics and I thought (especially for a Wednesday) that a TV break is well-deserved.

Twyla

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Save Your Business From Disaster!

Emergencies can happen in business. The best offense is a great defense. I've jotted down a few ways to prevent a disaster when it comes to running your business. If you have some tips- please share them with me. I love learning new things and I can share your suggestions with my Twitter followers, too.

First, never leave financial items to a single person. Always have a few people cross checking financial work. You should spot check accounts vs. work, too. And, have a Forensic Accountant review your financials every once in a while. Don't ignore or not spot check accounts because you don't understand one financial concept or another. If you don't understand your finances, or business finances, take a class and become involved. There are dishonest people out there. Knowing how to spot them is key.

Change your company passwords every sixty days. You also have to be careful as to who has passwords and to what account. More so, don't keep your personal and private business matter passwords running the same as employee access passwords. I knew a lady who ran a company and her password to everything was "5679". Employees who had access to Twitter used "5679" as the password per her direction. Well, she had to fire one employee. This employee hacked into her personal Facebook page, business voicemail, and banking accounts using the password "5679". Always change your passwords and never mix your personal passwords with employee access passwords.

Document everything. If your company doesn't have an HR department then documentation is going to be your friend. If you have to discipline an employee or notate a potential client issue then document everything as it is happening. Don't put documentation off to later. Details will be forgotten. Details that can save your company from being sued.

I'm getting ready to host a free seminar soon on the web. If you're interested, please email my marketing team at:

Helene@JumpStartInk.com

Until next time,
Twyla

Monday, June 3, 2013

Why the Government Can Improve Using Social Media.

Our Government has to catch up. I mean, social media can help our Government run more efficiently. Why? Well, social media is the world's biggest, most instant communication tool. This means everything when it comes to warning the public about a potential threat or natural disaster.

The Federal Social Media Community of Practice launched a Social Media Accessibility Working Group to collaborate with and deliver programs for accessibility communities and social media leaders across government. While this effort is a step in the right direction, I don't think spending hours, if not months, reviewing how to use social media is going to help utilize a tool that is updated second by second.

Here are my tips to help our Government connect better with the public:

1. Include ways to contact your organization, such as your 800 number, an online “Contact Us” form, or general contact email address for more information directly on your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. profiles.

2.Use the Twitter API or Embedded Timelines feature to display your agency's tweets on your .gov site. Embedded Timelines feature on Twitter appears to have accessibility built-in even for those who do not have JavaScript.

3. All videos should have closed captioning. YouTube has a feature that will automatically caption videos less than 10 minutes. To increase accuracy of the YouTube machine translation, your video will need to have very clear-spoken words and little background noise.

These tips to help our Government improve using social media are just the tip of the iceberg.

For specifics, please contact me for a complimentary consultation.

Twyla Garrett

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Is Productivity Your Enemy? It Might Be!

Here is sit on a Saturday writing about productivity. I can because I've completed all my work for the week. Yes, I have the weekend off. This doesn't mean I am sitting around doing nothing. I am using my extra time to be productive. Let me write a blog, research new business ideas, seek out old clients that may use my services- see, I'm taking charge of my destiny. Are you? I've found people who are "too busy" to accomplish anything really use that phrase as an excuse to not do anything. "Too busy" is starting to be the best excuse for people who like to dodge responsibility. But, if you are trying to be productive and just can't get it right then follow the following tips. I promise these tips will help you become more productive!

Write down your tasks- all of them. This is going to start off as becoming overwhelming. As you take count of each unfinished, yet important, task- you will begin to feel buried alive. Don't! Once you have all of your tasks on paper- number them in the order of importance. Next, write down which numbers need be completed daily, which ones have to be finished within the next week and then which ones have 3-6 month results goals. Schedule accordingly. Don't leave work until you are finished with each daily scheduled goal.

I find this method helps increase productivity, keeps you focused on your goals, and helps you not be overwhelmed every single day of what has to be done.

Need more help? I'm offering a FREE business consultation to the first three people to follow me on Twitter and DM with the word "productive".

Happy Saturday,
Twyla

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