Blog Archive

The Kaizen Approach – Your Blueprint For Long-Term Success

 

Rooted in Japanese philosophy, Kaizen is a long-term approach to change based on implementing changes in small increments. Used by many different businesses, like manufacturing plants, it seeks to improve efficiency and quality by applying small, incremental process changes. By applying continuous incremental improvements, the business will grow and thrive.
The word “kaizen” is derived from “kai” meaning change, “zen” meaning good. The history of Kaizen began after World War II when Toyota applied the concept in its production process. It became very popular in Japan in the 1950s, and it continues today as Kaizen groups.
Although Kaizen was developed for the improvement of business, it can be applied to personal goal setting as well. In a similar fashion, if you apply short-term, incremental achievements toward your goal every day, you will eventually build better habits over the long-term to accomplish the goal you’ve set for yourself.

Start Accomplishing Your Goals The Kaizen Way

Good habits are fundamentally linked to effective goal setting. The Kaizen approach helps us to build good habits by teaching us to apply a small step every day toward our goal. Eventually the good habits will replace the bad ones and you will maintain consistent gains.
Start by breaking down your goal into small parts. Each day, accomplish a very small percentage of each part. For example, if you are writing a book, decide on a writing schedule and stick to it every day. Set a realistic number of words you will write each day and write at least that amount every day. These small steps will be more manageable for you and a lot less intimidating.
If you apply small percentage increments each day, the changes will build on each other until you will eventually notice a major gain. Try it yourself. Set a 3-month goal for yourself. Start by getting just 1% accomplished each day. Yes, it’s a tiny amount but it’s doable. Focus on the practice instead of the performance. Each small percentage will build on the last, and in three months’ time you will notice a 100% improvement from where you started.
Source: LifeHack

Lisa Learns 4 Ways to Improve Her Strategic Thinking Skills

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If you've ever received feedback that you "need to be more strategic," you know how frustrating it can feel. To add insult to injury, the feedback rarely comes with any concrete guidance on what to do about it. One of my coaching clients, Lisa, a vice president of HR, was in this situation and explains, "I was just told to think bigger picture and to be more strategic. It felt like I had been given the definition of a word by using the same word. It just wasn't helpful."
So what specific steps can you take to be more strategic in your current role?
Start by changing your mindset. If you believe that strategic thinking is only for senior executives, think again. It can, and must, happen at every level of the organization; it's one of those unwritten parts of all job descriptions. Ignore this fact and you risk getting passed over for a promotion, or having your budget cut because your department's strategic contribution is unclear.
Once you've accepted that it's part of your job, focus on developing four key abilities that demonstrate your strategic prowess.

Know: Observe and Seek Trends

Lisa wasn't seeing the big picture. Because of the amount of work she had and the pace at which she needed to get it done, she often took a "heads down" approach to her job and failed to "lift up" and observe both internal and external trends. She was missing key information that could help her focus, prioritize, and be proactive in addressing talent issues for her fast-growing company. Because Lisa approached her job in a transactional manner, simply getting the next hire, she didn't recognize that she needed a completely new approach to recruitment and retention.
In order to be strategic, you need a solid understanding of the industry context, trends, and business drivers. An intellectual appreciation of the importance of bringing in current data and seeking trends isn't enough. You also have to:
  • Make it a routine exercise to explore and synthesize the internal trends in your day-to-day work. For example, pay attention to the issues that get raised over and over in your organization and synthesize the common obstacles your colleagues face.
  • Be proactive about connecting with peers both in your organization and in your industry to understand their observations of the marketplace. Then, share your findings across your network.
  • Understand the unique information and perspective that your function provides and define its impact on the corporate level strategy.

Think: Ask the Tough Questions

With a fresh understanding of trends and issues, you can practice using strategic thinking by asking yourself, "How do I broaden what I consider?" Questions are the language of strategy. Lisa came to appreciate that her life and prior experience gave her a unique, yet myopic, strategic lens. So she pushed herself to ramp up her perspective-taking and inquiry skills. By becoming more curious, and looking at information from different points of view, she was able to reduce her myopia and see different possibilities, different approaches, and different potential outcomes.
For example, when working on an employee retention project she asked herself, "What does success look like in Year 1?"  "What does it look like in Year 3?" "What could impact the outcome in a negative way?" "What are the early signs of success/failure?" "What do business partners need to understand to ensure its success?" and "Do the outcomes support the broader goals of the organization?" By asking these tough questions first, she recognized that she could better engage with colleagues and senior executives early on in ways that would benefit the project — and would help shape the perception that she was thoughtful and strategic.

Speak: Sound Strategic

Strategic thinkers also know how to speak the language. They prioritize and sequence their thoughts. They structure their verbal and written communication in a way that helps their audience focus on their core message. They challenge the status quo and get people talking about underlying assumptions. Those that are really skilled walk people through the process of identifying issues, shaping common understanding, and framing strategic choices.
If this sounds complex, that's because it is. But there are ways you can start honing these skills:
  • Add more structure to your written and verbal communication. Group and logically order your main points, and keep things as succinct as possible.
  • Prime your audience by giving them a heads up on the overarching topics you want to address so they are prepared to engage in a higher level conversation, not just the tactical details.
  • Practice giving the answer first, instead of building up to your main point.
Lisa didn't realize that the way she spoke created the perception that she was not strategic. She set about changing that. First by focusing her one-on-ones with her CHRO on higher level discussions and leaving tactical issues to email. She chose one or two strategic areas to focus on.  and made sure to frame issues in the context of the CHRO's and the CEO's top priorities.

Act: Make Time for Thinking and Embrace Conflict

In the early phase of our work together, Lisa kept a jam-packed schedule, running from meeting to meeting. She found it difficult to contribute strategically without the time to reflect on the issues and to ponder options. Recognizing that she was not bringing her full value to the table, she started to evaluate her tasks based on urgency and importance as outlined in Stephen Covey's 2 x 2 matrix. She stopped going to meetings she didn't need to be at. She blocked out thinking time on her calendar and honored it, just as she would for other meetings. And she fought back the initial guilt of "Am I doing real work when I'm just sitting at my desk thinking?"
Lisa also practiced other key skills. She learned to embrace debate and to invite challenge, without letting it get personal so that she could ask tough questions. To do this, she focused on issues, not people, and used neutral peers to challenge her thinking. To manage the inevitable ambiguity that arises when you ask more questions, Lisa also learned to clarify her decision-making criteria, allowing her to better act in the face of imperfect information.
The quest to build your strategic skills can be uncomfortable. At first, you might feel like you're kicking up sand in the ocean. Your vision will be blurred as you manage through the unsettling feelings that come with challenging your own assumptions and gaining comfort with conflict and curiosity. Once the dust settles, however, and you're able to contribute at a higher level, you'll be glad you took the risk.

Nina A. Bowman is a managing Partner at Paravis Partners, an executive coaching and leadership development firm. She is a contributing author to the HBR Guide to Coaching Employees.
 

Today's Inspiration: Obstacles Can't Stop You

Image result for quote on challenges

 
OBSTACLES can’t Stop you
PROBLEMS can’t stop you
Most of All
OTHER People can’t stop You
The Only one who stops you
Is YOURSELF

Technology: What is Blockchain and BitCoin? How it Works

Is blockchain technology the new internet?
The blockchain is an undeniably ingenious invention – the brainchild of a person or group of people known by the pseudonym,  Satoshi Nakamoto. But since then, it has evolved into something greater and the main question every single person is asking is: What is Blockchain?

By allowing digital information to be distributed but not copied, blockchain technology created the backbone of a new type of internet. Originally devised for the digital currency, Bitcoin, the tech community is now finding other potential uses for the technology.
Bitcoin has been called "digital gold," and for a good reason. To date, the total value of the currency is close to $9 billion US. And blockchains can make other types of digital value. Like the internet (or your car), you don't need to know how the blockchain works to use it. However, having a basic knowledge of this new technology shows why it's considered revolutionary. So, we hope you enjoy this what is Blockchain guide.



What is Blockchain Technology?
"The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value."
Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016)



A distributed database
Picture a spreadsheet that is duplicated thousands of times across a network of computers. Then imagine that this network is designed to regularly update this spreadsheet and you have a basic understanding of the blockchain.
Information held on a blockchain exists as a shared — and continually reconciled — database. This is a way of using the network that has obvious benefits. The blockchain database isn't stored in any single location, meaning the records it keeps are truly public and easily verifiable. No centralized version of this information exists for a hacker to corrupt. Hosted by millions of computers simultaneously, its data is accessible to anyone on the internet.
To go in deeper with the Google spreadsheet analogy I would like you to read this piece from a blockchain specialist.
Blockchain as Google Docs



"The traditional way of sharing documents with collaboration is to send a Microsoft Word document to another recipient, and ask them to make revisions to it. The problem with that scenario is that you need to wait until receiving a return copy before you can see or make other changes because you are locked out of editing it until the other person is done with it. That's how databases work today. Two owners can't be messing with the same record at once. That's how banks maintain money balances and transfers; they briefly lock access (or decrease the balance) while they make a transfer, then update the other side, then re-open access (or update again).With Google Docs (or Google Sheets), both parties have access to the same document at the same time, and the single version of that document is always visible to both of them. It is like a shared ledger, but it is a shared document. The distributed part comes into play when sharing involves a number of people.

Imagine the number of legal documents that should be used that way. Instead of passing them to each other, losing track of versions, and not being in sync with the other version, why can't *all* business documents become shared instead of transferred back and forth? So many types of legal contracts would be ideal for that kind of workflow. You don't need a blockchain to share documents, but the shared documents analogy is a powerful one."




Blockchain Durability and robustness
Blockchain technology is like the internet in that it has a built-in robustness. By storing blocks of information that are identical across its network, the blockchain cannot:
  1. Be controlled by any single entity.
  2. Has no single point of failure.
Bitcoin was invented in 2008. Since that time, the Bitcoin blockchain has operated without significant disruption. (To date, any of problems associated with Bitcoin have been due to hacking or mismanagement. In other words, these problems come from bad intention and human error, not flaws in the underlying concepts.)

The internet itself has proven to be durable for almost 30 years. It's a track record that bodes well for blockchain technology as it continues to be developed.


"As revolutionary as it sounds, Blockchain truly is a mechanism to bring everyone to the highest degree of accountability. No more missed transactions, human or machine errors, or even an exchange that was not done with the consent of the parties involved. Above anything else, the most critical area where Blockchain helps is to guarantee the validity of a transaction by recording it not only on a main register but a connected distributed system of registers, all of which are connected through a secure validation mechanism." 
– Ian KhanTEDx Speaker | Author | Technology Futurist

Transparent and incorruptible
The blockchain network lives in a state of consensus, one that automatically checks in with itself every ten minutes.  A kind of self-auditing ecosystem of a digital value, the network reconciles every transaction that happens in ten-minute intervals. Each group of these transactions is referred to as a "block". Two important properties result from this:
  1. Transparency
    data is embedded within the network as a whole, by definition it is public.
  2. It cannot be corrupted
    altering any unit of information on the blockchain would mean using a huge amount of computing power to override the entire network.

In theory, this could be possible. In practice, it's unlikely to happen. Taking control of the system to capture Bitcoins, for instance, would also have the effect of destroying their value.


"Blockchain solves the problem of manipulation. When I speak about it in the West, people say they trust Google, Facebook, or their banks. But the rest of the world doesn't trust organizations and corporations that much — I mean Africa, India, the Eastern Europe, or Russia. It's not about the places where people are really rich. Blockchain's opportunities are the highest in the countries that haven't reached that level yet."
Vitalik Buterin, inventor of Ethereum


A network of nodes
A network of so-called computing "nodes" make up the blockchain.

Node
(computer connected to the blockchain network using a client that performs the task of validating and relaying transactions) gets a copy of the blockchain, which gets downloaded automatically upon joining the blockchain network.
  
Together they create a powerful second-level network, a wholly different vision for how the internet can function.
Every node is an "administrator" of the blockchain, and joins the network voluntarily (in this sense, the network is decentralized). However, each one has an incentive for participating in the network: the chance of winning Bitcoins.

Nodes are said to be "mining" Bitcoin, but the term is something of a misnomer. In fact, each one is competing to win Bitcoins by solving computational puzzles. Bitcoin was the raison d'etre of the blockchain as it was originally conceived. It's now recognized to be only the first of many potential applications of the technology.

There are an estimated 700 Bitcoin-like cryptocurrencies (exchangeable value tokens) already available. As well, a range of other potential adaptations of the original blockchain concept are currently active, or in development.




"Bitcoin has the same character a fax machine had. A single fax machine is a doorstop. The world where everyone has a fax machine is an immensely valuable thing."
Larry Summers, Former US Secretary of the Treasury




The idea of decentralization
By design, the blockchain is a decentralized technology.
Anything that happens on it is a function of the network as a whole. Some important implications stem from this. By creating a new way to verify transactions aspects of traditional commerce could become unnecessary. Stock market trades become almost simultaneous on the blockchain, for instance — or it could make types of record keeping, like a land registry, fully public. And decentralization is already a reality.

A global network of computers uses blockchain technology to jointly manage the database that records Bitcoin transactions. That is, Bitcoin is managed by its network, and not any one central authority. Decentralization means the network operates on a user-to-user (or peer-to-peer) basis. The forms of mass collaboration this makes possible are just beginning to be investigated.


"I think decentralized networks will be the next huge wave in technology."
Melanie Swan, author Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy (2015)


Who will use the blockchain?
As web infrastructure, you don't need to know about the blockchain for it to be useful in your life.
Currently, finance offers the strongest use cases for the technology. International remittances, for instance. The World Bank estimates that over $430 billion US in money transfers were sent in 2015.

The blockchain potentially cuts out the middleman for these types of transactions.  Personal computing became accessible to the general public with the invention of the Graphical User Interface (GUI), which took the form of a "desktop". Similarly, the most common GUI devised for the blockchain are the so-called "wallet" applications, which people use to buy things with Bitcoin, and store it along with other cryptocurrencies.
Transactions online are closely connected to the processes of identity verification. It is easy to imagine that wallet apps will transform in the coming years to include other types of identity management.


"Online identity and reputation will be decentralized. We will own the data that belongs to us."
William Mougayar, author The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology (2016)

The Blockchain & Enhanced security
By storing data across its network, the blockchain eliminates the risks that come with data being held centrally.
Its network lacks centralized points of vulnerability that computer hackers can exploit. Today's internet has security problems that are familiar to everyone. We all rely on the "username/password" system to protect our identity and assets online. Blockchain security methods use encryption technology.

The basis for this are the so-called public and private "keys". A "public key" (a long, randomly-generated string of numbers) is a users' address on the blockchain. Bitcoins sent across the network gets recorded as belonging to that address. The "private key" is like a password that gives its owner access to their Bitcoin or other digital assets. Store your data on the blockchain and it is incorruptible. This is true, although protecting your digital assets will also require safeguarding of your private key by printing it out, creating what's referred to as a paper wallet.

A second-level network
With blockchain technology, the web gains a new layer of functionality.
Already, users can transact directly with one another — Bitcoin transactions in 2016 averaged over $200,000 US per day. With the added security brought by the blockchain new internet business are on track to unbundle the traditional institutions of finance.
Goldman Sachs believes that blockchain technology holds great potential especially to optimize clearing and settlements, and could represent global savings of up to $6bn per year.



"2017 will be a pivotal year for blockchain tech. Many of the startups in the space will either begin generating revenue – via providing products the market demands/values – or vaporize due to running out of cash. In other words, 2017 should be the year where there is more implementation of products utilizing blockchain tech, and less talk about blockchain tech being the magical pixie dust that can just be sprinkled atop everything. Of course, from a customers' viewpoint, this will not be obvious as blockchain tech should dominantly be invisible – even as its features and functionality improve peoples'/business' lives. I personally am familiar with a number of large-scale blockchain tech use cases that are launching soon/2017. This implementation stage, which 2017 should represent, is a crucial step in the larger adoption of blockchain tech, as it will allow skeptics to see the functionality, rather than just hear of its promise."
–  George Howard, Associate Professor Brown University, Berklee College of Music and Founder of George Howard Strategic


The Blockchain a New Web 3.0?
The blockchain gives internet users the ability to create value and authenticate digital information. What new business applications will result?
Distributed ledgers enable the coding of simple contracts that will execute when specified conditions are met. Ethereum is an open source blockchain project that was built specifically to realize this possibility. Still in its early stages, Ethereum has the potential to leverage the usefulness of blockchains on a truly world-changing scale.
At the technology's current level of development, smart contracts can be programmed to perform simple functions. For instance, a derivative could be paid out when a financial instrument meets certain benchmark, with the use of blockchain technology and Bitcoin enabling the payout to be automated.
  • The sharing economy
With companies like Uber and AirBnB flourishing, the sharing economy is already a proven success. Currently, however, users who want to hail a ride-sharing service have to rely on an intermediary like Uber. By enabling peer-to-peer payments, the blockchain opens the door to direct interaction between parties — a truly decentralized sharing economy results.
An early example, OpenBazaar uses the blockchain to create a peer-to-peer eBay. Download the app onto your computing device and you can transact with OpenBazzar vendors without paying transaction fees. The "no rules" ethos of the protocol means that personal reputation will be even more important to business interactions than it currently is on eBay.
  • Crowdfunding
Crowdfunding initiatives like Kickstarter and Gofundme are doing the advance work for the emerging peer-to-peer economy. The popularity of these sites suggests people want to have a direct say in product development. Blockchains take this interest to the next level, potentially creating crowd-sourced venture capital funds.

In 2016, one such experiment, the Ethereum-based DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization), raised an astonishing $200 million USD in just over two months. Participants purchased "DAO tokens" allowing them to vote on smart contract venture capital investments (voting power was proportionate to the number of DAO they were holding). A subsequent hack of project funds proved that the project was launched without proper due diligence, with disastrous consequences.  Regardless, the DAO experiment suggests the blockchain has the potential to usher in "a new paradigm of economic cooperation."
  • Governance
By making the results fully transparent and publicly accessible, distributed database technology could bring full transparency to elections or any other kind of poll taking. Ethereum-based smart contracts help to automate the process.
The app, Boardroom, enables organizational decision-making to happen on the blockchain. In practice this means company governance becomes fully transparent and verifiable when managing digital assets, equity or information.
  • Supply chain auditing
Consumers increasingly want to know that the ethical claims companies make about their products are real. Distributed ledgers provide an easy way to certify that the backstories of the things we buy are genuine. Transparency comes with blockchain-based timestamping of a date and location — on ethical diamonds, for instance — that corresponds to a product number.
The UK-based Provenance offers supply chain auditing for a range of consumer goods. Making use of the Ethereum blockchain, a Provenance pilot project ensures that fish sold in Sushi restaurants in Japan has been sustainably harvested by its suppliers in Indonesia.
  • File storage
Decentralizing file storage on the internet brings clear benefits. Distributing data throughout the network protects files from getting hacked or lost.
Inter Planetary File System (IPFS) makes it easy to conceptualize how a distributed web might operate. Similar to the way a bittorrent moves data around the internet, IPFS gets rid of the need for centralized client-server relationships (i.e., the current web). An internet made up of completely decentralized websites has the potential to speed up file transfer and streaming times. Such an improvement is not only convenient. It's a necessary upgrade to the web's currently overloaded content-delivery systems.
  • Prediction markets
The crowdsourcing of predictions on event probability is proven to have a high degree of accuracy. Averaging opinions cancels out the unexamined biases that distort judgment. Prediction markets that pay out according to event outcomes are already active. Blockchains are a "wisdom of the crowd" technology that will no doubt find other applications in the years to come.
Still in Beta, the prediction market application Augur makes share offerings on the outcome of real world events. Participants can earn money by buying into the correct prediction. The more shares purchased in the correct outcome, the higher the payout will be. With a small commitment of funds (less than a dollar), anyone can ask a question, create a market based on a predicted outcome, and collect half of all transaction fees the market generates.
  • Protection of intellectual property
As is well known, digital information can be infinitely reproduced — and distributed widely thanks to the internet. This has given web users globally a goldmine of free content. However, copyright holders have not been so lucky, losing control over their intellectual property and suffering financially as a consequence. Smart contracts can protect copyright and automate the sale of creative works online, eliminating the risk of file copying and redistribution.
Mycelia uses the blockchain to create a peer-to-peer music distribution system. Founded by the UK singer-songwriter Imogen Heap, Mycelia enables musicians to sell songs directly to audiences, as well as licence samples to producers and divvy up royalties to songwriters and musicians — all of these functions being automated by smart contracts. The capacity of blockchains to issue payments in fractional cryptocurrency amounts (micropayments) suggests this use case for the blockchain has a strong chance of success.
What is the IoT? The network-controlled management of certain types of electronic devices — for instance, the monitoring of air temperature in a storage facility. Smart contracts make the automation of remote systems management possible. A combination of software, sensors, and the network facilitates an exchange of data between objects and mechanisms. The result increases system efficiency and improves cost monitoring.
The biggest players in manufacturing, tech and telecommunications are all vying for IoT dominance. Think Samsung, IBM and AT&T. A natural extension of existing infrastructure controlled by incumbents, IoT applications will run the gamut from predictive maintenance of mechanical parts to data analytics, and mass-scale automated systems management.
  • Neighbourhood Microgrids
Blockchain technology enables the buying and selling of the renewable energy generated by neighbourhood microgrids. When solar panels make excess energy, Ethereum-based smart contracts automatically redistribute it. Similar types of smart contract automation will have many other applications as the IoT becomes a reality.
Located in Brooklyn, Consensys is one of the foremost companies globally that is developing a range of applications for Ethereum. One project they are partnering on is Transactive Grid, working with the distributed energy outfit, LO3. A prototype project currently up and running uses Ethereum smart contracts to automate the monitoring and redistribution of microgrid energy. This so-called "intelligent grid" is an early example of IoT functionality.
  • Identity management
There is a definite need for better identity management on the web. The ability to verify your identity is the lynchpin of financial transactions that happen online. However, remedies for the security risks that come with web commerce are imperfect at best. Distributed ledgers offer enhanced methods for proving who you are, along with the possibility to digitize personal documents. Having a secure identity will also be important for online interactions — for instance, in the sharing economy. A good reputation, after all, is the most important condition for conducting transactions online.
Developing digital identity standards is proving to be a highly complex process. Technical challenges aside, a universal online identity solution requires cooperation between private entities and government. Add to that the need to navigate legal systems in different countries and the problem becomes exponentially difficult. E Commerce on the internet currently relies on the SSL certificate (the little green lock) for secure transactions on the web. Netki is a startup that aspires to create a SSL standard for the blockchain. Having recently announced a $3.5 million seed round, Netki expects a product launch in early 2017.
  • AML and KYC
Anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) practices have a strong potential for being adapted to the blockchain. Currently, financial institutions must perform a labour intensive multi-step process for each new customer. KYC costs could be reduced through cross-institution client verification, and at the same time increase monitoring and analysis effectiveness.
startup Polycoin has an AML/KYC solution that involves analysing transactions. Those transactions identified as being suspicious are forwarded on to compliance officers. Another startup Tradle is developing an application called Trust in Motion (TiM). Characterized as an "Instagram for KYC", TiM allows customers to take a snapshot of key documents (passport, utility bill, etc.). Once verified by the bank, this data is cryptographically stored on the blockchain.
  • Data management
Today, in exchange for their personal data people can use social media platforms like Facebook for free. In future, users will have the ability to manage and sell the data their online activity generates. Because it can be easily distributed in small fractional amounts, Bitcoin — or something like it — will most likely be the currency that gets used for this type of transaction.
The MIT project Enigma understands that user privacy is the key precondition for creating of a personal data marketplace. Enigma uses cryptographic techniques to allow individual data sets to be split between nodes, and at the same time run bulk computations over the data group as a whole. Fragmenting the data also makes Enigma scalable (unlike those blockchain solutions where data gets replicated on every node). A Beta launch is promised within the next six months.
  • Land title registration
As Publicly-accessible ledgers, blockchains can make all kinds of record-keeping more efficient. Property titles are a case in point. They tend to be susceptible to fraud, as well as costly and labour intensive to administer.
A number of countries are undertaking blockchain-based land registry projects. Honduras was the first government to announce such an initiative in 2015, although the current status of that project is unclear. This year, the Republic of Georgia cemented a deal with the Bitfury Group to develop a blockchain system for property titles. Reportedly, Hernando de Soto, the high profile economist and property rights advocate, will be advising on the project. Most recently, Sweden announced it was experimenting with a blockchain application for property titles.
  • Stock trading
The potential for added efficiency in share settlement makes a strong use case for blockchains in stock trading. When executed peer-to-peer, trade confirmations become almost instantaneous (as opposed to taking three days for clearance). Potentially, this means intermediaries — such as the clearing house, auditors and custodians — get removed from the process.
Numerous stock and commodities exchanges are prototyping blockchain applications for the services they offer, including the ASX (Australian Securities Exchange), the Deutsche Börse (Frankfurt's stock exchange) and the JPX (Japan Exchange Group). Most high profile because the acknowledged first mover in the area, is the Nasdaq's Linq, a platform for private market trading (typically between pre-IPO startups and investors). A partnership with the blockchain tech company Chain, Linq announced the completion of it its first share trade in 2015. More recently, Nasdaq announced the development of a trial blockchain project for proxy voting on the Estonian Stock Market.




Source: BlockGeeks

13 Steps to Pursuing your Dreams [Quitting Your Day Job]

 

Everybody has that one thing that they love to do in their downtime.
There are some people out there who want to design.

Some crave to write, some itch to build, and some desire to bake. Everybody has something that they love and are good at doing.

Many individuals have even considered how exciting it would be to be able to get paid to do that one thing they like to do.

What a dream that would be; yet it feels unattainable. Is it out of your reach, or is it possible?
 

Sometimes we are forced to go with the flow in life to survive, and we end up in jobs that we never imagined for ourselves.

Sometimes we intentionally pursue the career that we are in, and it doesn’t turn out to be the lifestyle that we thought it would be, or we get burned out.
It just doesn’t feel right.

Most people do nothing about this feeling.
Most are willing to go to work, bore through their job, and come home.
They do this all to do the same thing tomorrow.
You are not that type of person, though.


Maybe you are thinking it is time to finally pursue the unattainable dream.
Whether that dream is building a carpentry business, starting up a blog, or opening a zoo, some steps must take place before it can become a reality for you.

Some of these steps are practical, and some of them are spiritual.
Together, they will get you where you want to be in life: pursuing your true passion.
 

The first few steps require a sense of spiritual self in order to truly consider your feelings and commitment to pursuing your passions.

Do yourself a favor and truly do some conscious thinking on these steps.
It would be unfortunate to sacrifice the stability that you have with your job only to find your dreams lacking.

The next steps are financial and business-minded preparation.
These steps are important to confirm that you are able to pursue your dream and still live comfortably.
You may find yourself altering your idea of what is comfortable in order to make the new lifestyle work, and that’s okay.

1. Consider long-term effects of your soul

Your dream job may be something that you’ve always loved doing on the side.
With no financial commitment and stability found elsewhere, this activity may even serve as a stress reliever for you.
Will it continue to be that for you if you are dependent upon this activity as your source of income?
Sometimes, the moment something becomes your job, it is much harder to enjoy.

If it is not worth the risk of losing the stress-relieving qualities of your hobby, consider sticking with your day job.
If you’re sure that you’ll truly enjoy this dream for the foreseeable future, you may be ready to take the plunge.

2. Gain approval from those important to you

This step may be a controversial one for you, but it doesn’t say gain approval from everyone.A cartoon family
Some people will think you are crazy for leaving stability to pursue your dream.
These are usually the people satisfied with trudging through life with a mediocre attitude.
You are pursuing your true passion, which is admirable, but you will need support.
If you are married or in a committed relationship, your partner will probably be affected by this decision, too.

He or she deserves to be a part of your choice.
You will need support if things don’t always go your way, and they probably won’t ALWAYS go your way.
Your partner will be the shoulder to lean on when things get discouraging, and the first person you tell about successes.
You may also have another family member or mentor whose opinion you trust.

Tell them about your desire to follow your dream and read their reaction.
Those who love you will be honest with you, and are not as harsh as strangers.
If a person cares about you and your happiness, they will do all they can to help you pursue your passion.
Opinions on this endeavor matter when it comes to people who are truly important to you.

If this dream will cause you to lose relationships, carefully consider whether it is worth it.
Remember, it’s always worth being positive even when loved ones are being negative.

3. Consider the commitment this dream will require from you

Signing a document if commitmentThink about how long it will actually take for you to get a good start on this pursuit.
If it is something that could take decades to get ahead, consider whether you are willing to make that type of commitment.

If you are not at the point in your life where you can commit time to something so lofty, maybe you should lower your expectations of this dream.
So if, after all of these considerations, you are still committed, you can move on to financial preparation for pursuing your new life.

The next few steps are guidelines to help you take a close look at your money situation.

4. Write down short-term business-related goals

You may scoff at the idea of actually writing down your goals.
If so, type them out or record your voice saying them out loud.
Having those short-term goals in either a visual or audible form will help your focus.
 

These goals may be “Make budget spreadsheet” or “Purchase domain”.
They need to be small goals that you can complete easily, which will put you one step closer to your dream.
As you complete these goals, you can check them off of the list, cross them out, or delete them.
This action tends to be encouraging and will motivate you to cross more off the list.

5. Write down long-term business-related goals

Just like short-term goals, it is important to have visual or auditory proof of these goals.Person writing list of goals, close-up of hand
Since these goals are designed to take a long time to achieve, writing or typing out a list might be more feasible to control.
These goals should be the larger scope of what you hope to accomplish with the overall dream.

For example, if you are hoping to eventually be the largest supplier of chocolate-covered cherries in your state, write it down.
If you are hoping for your business to someday donate $1 million to a Coats for Goats charity, write it down.
Of course, these particular goals may not be your forte, but you must have long-term goals if you’re willing to give up your career for this dream.

Write them down.

6. Track monthly spending

Now we begin the number crunching to decide whether it is financially feasible for you to follow your dreams.
Write down every single monthly bill you pay, and how much it costs.
If the cost varies, write down a high estimate for cushion.
Then calculate a budget for other costs like groceries and eating out.

Don’t forget to include any medications you pay for, a monthly budget for clothes, or daily lattes.
Anything that costs you money on a regular basis needs to be in front of you on this list.

Prioritize what costs are important, and if it isn’t crucial, now may be the time to cut it out of your life.
Total up these costs, and hold onto that number as your monthly household loss.

7. Estimate income from your prospective new job

If you have not started producing any income at all yet from this dream pursuit, this may be a difficult step.
You’ll have to calculate a simplistic profit/loss report for this one, but the point is to get an idea of how much you’ll be gaining or losing by going from your current job to your dream.
Don’t forget to include how much you’ll be saving on gas, and daily lattes, if you’ll be working from home instead of commuting every day.

You’ll also be less tempted to eat out if you’re still at home, as opposed to sitting in an office.
You also need to calculate what you’ll be spending on startup costs though.

If you’ll need to get a new computer to handle the business, add that in.
You may need to start up a website, meaning you’ll purchase a domain name.
Combine that into your costs.
Factor in any other income for the household, if relevant, then compare this income to monthly spending.
Are you coming out ahead?

8. Make sure it’s the right financial timing

Man planning his financial goals with an abacusEven if the numbers add up, there are still situations that may make this leap inappropriate for you or your family.
Weigh the options carefully to make sure that this decision will not put you all in a tight spot.
Maybe your partner has been hoping for a new baby.
Consider whether a bun in the oven would affect your monthly costs enough to put financial strain on your family.

You may be pleasantly surprised and be comfortable pursuing your dream at home with the baby, avoiding daycare costs.
If you have lots of credit card debt, you may want to pay those off in advance of quitting your day job.


Taking a financial risk while you’re already behind may cause lasting damage to your credit.
Your patience will pay off in the end.
If none of these types of financial possibilities apply to you, the financial timing might just be perfect for your endeavor.

9. Embrace the level of spending appropriate for your new income, while bulking up an emergency fund

Assuming your income is greater at your day-job than it will be starting out your dream pursuit, you may want to plan for an unpredictable, bumpy road ahead.
There might be bad days, but there will be good days too.
You may already know that you’ll have to tighten up the monthly budget.
If you start now, you can get practice in saying “no” to the unnecessary expenses, while saving a little in the present.

The excess you save can go into an emergency fund.

A goal amount for your emergency fund would be an excellent addition to your short-term list from step 4.

Reaching your goal amount can be your deadline representing the day you can actually put in your letter of resignation.

10. Get professional advice

This step is very specific to the dream that you are pursuing, but it may not be a bad idea to seek professional advice.
If you have never started a business and you plan to, you might need to speak to a lawyer.

An accountant or financial advisor could also give valuable advice to get you heading in the right direction.
You are pursuing your passion, but you need to make sure you are doing it the right way.


Taxes, legalities, and contracts are not things you want to mess up, especially if you’re the one in charge.
Being in charge means being the one to hold accountability if things sour, and that could put a damper on your pursuit of happiness.

11. Get your feet wet first, wade in, and then dunk your head

If possible, when the time comes and you know you’re ready to chase your dreams, do so gradually.

Maybe you can transition to a part-time position at your job first.
If you could commit the other days of your week to your dream job, you could ease in to being full-time.
 

Not all positions would allow this kind of flexibility, but it would be ideal.
This could help you adjust accordingly financially, and get you settling in to your new lifestyle personally.
 

For example, say you’re going from working in a wall-street cubicle surrounded by hundreds of people, to working at home.
It can be a big social adjustment to spend so much time alone. If you want to be more sociable, check out our social badass article.

If you’re pursuing your true passion in the meantime, though, it may make you happier than you’ve ever been.

12. As you’re starting out, focus on what is important

Don’t get so wrapped up in your dream that you forget to be part of your reality.
If you have a family of your own, embrace them.
They were probably your muses in the first place.
Do not neglect your friends either.

They could be a great source of support if there comes a time when you need them.

If you neglect your relationships when you first start out, they may not be there when times get tough.
If you’re starting a business on your own for the first time, it’s easy to become consumed with doing your best for your company.
After all, you’re the only one you can hold accountable.

Don’t forget to maintain a healthy balance of your personal and professional life.
If you burn yourself out, you’ll disappoint yourself.
You are doing this to gain happiness, not lose it.

13. Define goals for YOUR future

This may seem similar to step 5, but that step is about business-related goals.
You also must consider goals for your personal future and how they fit into your passion.
If you plan to have a house full of children, don’t involve yourself so much in your professional life that you forget about building your family.

Maybe you want to lead a life full of volunteer work in your spare time.
Leave time for the things that feed your soul. Even when you are following your dreams as a profession, don’t lose sight of your sense of self.

Your New Life

Man writing his dreamsThe new life that you are preparing to build may contain an entirely new mindset.
You might find yourself having to prioritize your spending in a way that you are not used to doing.

You may feel a little isolated sometimes without an office full of people surrounding you.
It might get a little disappointing occasionally when things do not go your way.
But never forget that you are living the dream.
With your new lifestyle, you may have more time than you think to having to expand other pursuits.


Maybe you will be able to go another direction and chase another source of income.
Many of those individuals with self-sufficient jobs find themselves led in other directions at some point.

If this is the case, start at step one and go from there.
So many people are out there in the world, wishing they could achieve what you already have.


You are the example for people trudging through a life they may not have chosen.
You have built up the courage to leave your day job and follow your dreams.

Conclusion

Sometimes we find ourselves in a position in life that we never expect, but you are not stuck.
You are never stuck, even if it takes a bit to build up the courage to leave.
Follow your heart and pursue your dreams, and do it wisely.
As mentioned before, everybody has that one thing that they love to do when they have downtime.

And what a dream it will be when people pay you to do what you love.
Whether writing, building, baking, or opening a zoo is your forte, I sincerely hope that these steps help you achieve your goals.

Article Source: SelfDevelopmentSecrets