India Debt Collection Business

October 31, 2016

Until the emergence of debt collection business, debt collection in India, was never treated as a specialized job and was always treated as one of the jobs that legal departments of the banks and financial institutions were required to undertake. A typical legal department of an organization would approach the collection job strictly as a legal issue rather than as a revenue collection measure. Litigation would be the only tool used for recoveries and no other tool was either known or used by the industry. Litigation as a recovery measure always had its own limitations due to long and winding court procedures the Indian legal system is always criticized for. On the other hand, foreign banking firms introduced the concept of specialized debt collection services. Debt collection services became one of the many services that began to be outsourced to specialized agencies. The collection business had a very humble beginning and it barely qualified as a specialized service.However over a period of time with the emergence of India as a global outsourcing destination the domestic businesses also adopted the outsourcing as an efficient business tool. With the result today, the third-party debt collection industry plays an important role in the Indian economy. The industry employs hundreds of thousands of Indians as collection professionals, who are servicing several industries ranging from banks, to telecom service providers to insurance companies. Typically, only small recoveries arising from periodic billing defaults by the customers are outsourced to the collection agencies. Not only the collection business has become a direct source of employment to thousands but its contribution to the economy is more pronounced because it helps infuse money back in the economy that otherwise would have remained uncollected. The economic benefits of third-party debt collection are significant. Citibank is the pioneer in introducing third party collection techniques in India.The debt collection industry in India also has grown sharply this year as higher borrowing costs; rising inflation and the general slowdown in the economy force more companies and individuals into difficulties. Underlying debt has gone through the roof and lenders and organizations increasingly want to move any bad debt off their books. Whether it is a high street bank, a credit card lender or a mobile phone company, growing numbers are turning to professional debt collectors in a more difficult environment.The debt collection industry in India is growing at a faster pace and is surely poised for growth. The credit card outstanding have shot up by a whopping 87% at USD 6114 Million during this year, from USD 2844 Million in the period year ago. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which regulates the banking industry in the country encourages banks to shift bad loans off their books more quickly because they will be required to hold more capital against risky assets that may default.COLLECTION INDUSTRY – UNREGULATED SCENARIOThe collection business has its own inherent shortcomings due to unregulated and primitive nature of this business in this country. The persons employed in the industry are untrained both in soft skills and legal skills. Being unregulated, the procedures are not standardized and there are no industry specific checks and balances. Still litigation is used as the last resort tool for recoveries. However the industry has been accused of manipulating the legal system to their advantage by using courts as their agents of recovery. It is seen that big corporations with large volumes of recoveries have unwritten understanding with the local courts at the lowest level. With the patronage of minuscule minority of pliable judges simple civil defaults are registered as criminal cases thus pressurizing the debtors into paying the dues. Slow and long civil recovery court process has no takers in this age of instant results where revenue targets are the most sacrosanct. Under such strict and cut throat environment, there is pressure on the banks to keep their account books healthy therefore such aggressive and extra-legal methods are employed for quick recoveries.

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GOVERNMENT / RBI INTERVENTIONDebt collectors in the past had a lot of leeway and it wasn’t uncommon for collectors to embarrass, harass or humiliate debtors by adopting extra-legal measures. In the absence of any regulatory regime the courts had to step in by laying down guidelines for the industry to follow. After the intervention of judiciary, the RBI woke up to the need of regulating the unruly collection agencies and laid down its own guidelines for the banking industry to follow.The guidelines prescribed by RBI are enforced against the banks that have contractually employed collection agencies. The banks in turn via their contracts with the collection agencies ensure that the RBI guidelines are followed. Now, under the RBI guidelines it is illegal to threaten violence or cause harm to debtor, use obscene language, or repeatedly use the phone to harass debtors. In addition, collection agents cannot seize or garnish a consumer’s property or wages without recourse to court procedure.The following are few of the core underpinnings of the collection process. These are the norms formalized by the top bank in India – RBI.1. DSAs/DMAs/Recovery agents to get minimum 100 hours of training.2. Recovery agents should call borrowers only from telephone numbers notified to the borrower.3. Each bank should have a mechanism whereby borrowers’ grievances with regard to the recovery process can be addressed.4. Banks are advised to ensure that contracts with recovery agents do not
induce adoption of uncivilized, unlawful and questionable behavior or recovery process.5. Banks are required to strictly abide by the codes pertaining to collection of dues.RBI in the draft guidelines issued for banks engaging recovery agents, has asked banks to inform borrowers the details of recovery agents engaged for the purpose while forwarding default cases to the recovery agents.The Reserve Bank of India has also considered imposing a temporary ban (or even a permanent ban in case of persistent abusive practices) for engaging recovery agents on those banks where penalties have been imposed by a High Court/Supreme Court or against its directors/officers with regard to the abusive practices followed by their recovery agents. An operational circular in this regard has been issued in November 15, 2007.Other LawsStill the non banking debts collection business is outside the purview of any regulator. There are no licenses or registrations to be obtained from any regulator to pursue collection business in India. The extant guidelines applicable to banking industry are found inadequate as they address only the problem of debtors’ harassment and the guidelines do not regulate the industry as such. The Government is well aware of the need of having a specialized legal mechanism for recovery of institutional debts which has become a huge problem for the entire banking industry.Every bank is grappling with the non-paying accounts, known as Non Performing Accounts (NPA) in the Indian banking parlance. The problem has taken enormous proportion and threatened the economy. Creation of Debt Recovery Tribunals in the year 1993 was a step in the direction of facilitating fast recoveries by the banks . The intention behind creation of such Tribunal was to ensure that banking industry was provided with its own recovery mechanism that was part of the legal system but at the same time exclusive to the banking industry. Bank debts above USD 22,727 could be recovered through the Tribunals.However, over a period of time it was realized that this new mechanism did not yield the desired result since the recoveries were still slow and due to shear volume of work, the Tribunal became like any other court. The whole objective of having a fast track and efficient recovery mechanism was therefore defeated. Bank debts still remained a major problem to be solved since it affected the entire economy of the country. The Government felt the need of having a mechanism that was minimally dependent on the courts for effecting recoveries since the legal system could not be reformed overnight. Therefore instead of reforming the court procedure the government did some clever thinking and came up with a legislation that minimized the intervention of court and empowered the banks with special powers using which the recoveries could be affected.The government thus came up with a new law Scrutinization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act) where under the banks are allowed to liquidate security given by the borrower for recovery of their dues. This law also paved the way for creation of asset reconstruction companies that take over the security interest of the debtors. These agencies are thus another form of debt collection agencies that have been institutionalized.The need to share credit information among the banking industry was also felt in order for the industry to benefit from each other. Thus Credit Information Companies (Regulation) Act was enacted in the year 2005.INDIAN LEGAL SYSTEM AND COLLECTION PROCESSESThe Indian legal system is absolutely fair and assures justice to the party involved. There are remedies available under the law to collect the debt, if the debtor does not agree to pay under normal circumstances. The creditor may file a suit for his recovery. Debts based on written contracts could be recovered by following fast track procedure. If the debtor is a company, creditor / his lawyers may apply in the ‘Company Court’ for winding up of the company due to non-payment of substantial amount of debt. Summary trial is another way. The process may take time-1 to 2 years. Evidences are recorded appropriately and produced in the court of law, whenever required. There is also the arrangement of appeal to be filed at later stage.
US OUTSOURCING SCENARIOIndia has attracted many technology jobs in recent years from Western nations, particularly the United States. Now, it is on its way to becoming a hub in another offshore outsourcing area – debt collection. According to the industry report, units of General Electric, Citigroup, HSBC Holdings and American Express have used their India-based staff to pursue credit card debt and mortgage payment by calling defaulters.

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US debt collection agencies are the newest to start outsourcing their work to India and are satisfied with the results produced by the polite but persistent Indian experts. After insurance claims and credit card sales, debt collection is a growing business for outsourcing companies at a time of downturn in the US economy when consumers struggle to pay for their purchases.Debt collection is a vital and growing component of US economy. There is more than $2.5 trillion in outstanding consumer debt. As a result, the third-party collection industry makes more than one billion contacts with consumers each year. Recently this year, more than $39.3 billion in debt was returned to creditors.Indians have the advantage of lower salaries and other expenses, which cut drastically costs of collecting debts. Debt collectors in India cost as little as one-quarter the price of their US and European counterparts and are often better at the job. Many such Indian firms run 24-hour services. Indian debt-collection companies comply with strict regulations on operations in the American and / or European markets.
SUMMARYIndia has a long way to go in establishing a mature collection services industry. The collection business needs to be regulated and empowered with legal powers to become an effective tool. Already, there is a realization in the country that court dependent recovery is an inefficient way of way of debt collection. Creation of Assets Reconstruction and Securitization Companies under the SARFARESI Act is a step in the right direction of recognizing debt collection as an independent and specialized business function. While some progress is made for the bank debts but still for a large volume of unrealized non bank debt there are no professionally managed and regulated third party collection service providers. Non bank debts are largely unsecured that makes it even more difficult to realize. No big corporations and business houses are interested in acting as collection agents without there being an attraction of valuable security asset. Lawyers can fill this gap by providing collection services for non bank debts. Indian law does not permit contingency fee that makes the business less lucrative. India is therefore ready to benefit from foreign experience, expertise and ideas to create an efficient debt collection industry of its own at par with global status. This need is more felt now by India due to its global ambitions wherein India must adopt globally recognized practices and models. Transnational businesses need a uniform operating system for seamless transactions. Efficient debt collection industry will only instill confidence in companies doing business with Indian companies. Collection professionals have this challenge facing them of creating an efficient system that reduces people’s dependence on court supported recoveries.

‘Sexting’: A New Crisis for Relationships?

September 25, 2016

‘Sexting’… So what is it anyway? ‘Sexting’ by definition is sending or receiving sexually explicit messages or photos by mobile phones or other social media. This is a trend that has increased steadily through the years as more and more people have utilized phones as their main method of communication. In fact, 88% of adults have engaged in some kind of ‘sexting’ within the context of a relationship according to a paper called: “Reframing Sexting as a Positive Relationship Behavior.” 2Is ‘sexting’ more common than we believe or are these research studies just turning up coincidences with this type of behavior? Emily Stasko, at Drexel’s University in Philadelphia, surveyed 870 heterosexual individuals and found that more ‘sexting’ was associated with a higher level of sexual satisfaction. 2These are just two studies, you might say, and don’t represent the population at large. Well, another way to look at this is that technology is something that most people (in larger cities or suburban areas) concentrate on daily. People are very involved with social media on mobile phones, computers & tablets. They are using these social media applications for various reasons (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat, etc). Is there any reason to think, even for a minute, that people are not using technology to date or enhance their present relationships? People all over the country (and the world) have access to texting/messaging, social media, and video chatting (Facetime, Viper, etc.). It is extremely easy to use any of these modalities in the context of a relationship.So how do people view ‘sexting?The problem is that not everyone defines ‘sexting’ the same way. Is it the sending of sexually explicit or provocative messages? Is it primarily the sending of sexual images? Some people see it as one, the other or even as both. This has been unclear because there have been various opinions about the subject. ‘Sexting’ may not be limited to just messaging but could also include the use of Twitter, Facebook, Skype and Facetime, as well as, other social media platforms. This could also mean sending sexually explicit video or showing nude body parts while video conferencing. This complicates matters even more and broadens the current definition.Most people have really warmed up to the idea of ‘sexting’ and according to the research, previously cited, a very high number of people have engaged (and continue to engage) in this behavior. These research studies and surveys have focused on how ‘sexting’ can improve relationships and rekindled sex lives. However, there is a darker side as well. This article focuses on those individuals that use ‘sexting’ as a way of seeking excitement, sex, and/or attention outside of their present relationship. The lines are sometimes blurred with regards to virtual or internet relationships because they are not viewed as being “real.”Is ‘Sexting’ outside of a relationship considered cheating?That is a good question. We already know that ‘sexting’ or sending these sexually provocative messages can really enhance a committed relationship. However, what happens when people send these types of messages outside of a committed relationship? How is ‘sexting’ viewed among the general population?”A 2013 Huffington Post article of 1,000 U.S. adults found that 85 percent of women and 74 percent of men consider ‘sexting’ a form of cheating.” 1′Sexting’ outside a relationship can be exciting especially for those individuals that are looking for ‘that extra something’ in their lives. Perhaps these individuals love their spouses or partners but seem to have ‘lost’ the passion or excitement in their relationship. For other individuals, maybe they are looking to find someone else online or in a virtual sense (i.e. via texting, online websites or other media) that they can flirt with and is considered “safe.” That could fall into the “grass is greener on the other side of the fence” scenario. A person may be very happy or mostly satisfied with their partner but think that they might be able to find something better outside their relationship.Other scenarios could include men or women that seem to feel as if they are invisible to their partners or spouses due to over demanding careers, children, mental illness, physical illness, alcoholism, etc. These individuals may find that through ‘sexting’ with a 3rd party that they can feel loved, desired and even sexy. It is through this media (and possibly other reasons) that people justify their actions and tell themselves that they are not cheating because there is no physical relationship.Is this behavior wrong? Is it cheating? There are various reasons why an individual may decide to engage in ‘sexting’ outside of his/her relationship but what is the intention exactly? Some people may believe that due to the virtual nature of ‘sexting’ that it isn’t necessarily wrong. ‘Sexting’ doesn’t have to involve physical contact and it could just be chalked down to a simple fantasy (or something that they don’t intend to pursue). It may have started as something very innocuous (like work-related messages sent to a colleague, coworker or fellow student) but then it moved forward to a more sexual type of relationship.However if a person is deleting texts, hiding cell phone bills, or being secretive about this virtual relationship then it seems that he/she has become more involved with someone other than a spouse or partner. This person is now thinking about another person, sending pictures to that person, and possibly wishing he/she could spend time with that other person. If we are looking at the health of a marriage or relationship, any time someone else becomes involved, that health has now been compromised. We could also argue that the commitment toward the relationship or marriage has waned because of the 3rd party that is now part of the equation.Case Examples:Maria and Thomas (not their real names) have been married for 3 years but have been together for about 12 years. Thomas had been dealing with anxiety issues for his whole life but had developed a drinking habit to numb the intense feelings that he dealt with on a daily basis. This drinking problem had become so bad where Maria had found him passed out on the couch a few times after work and he spent a good amount of time drinking with colleagues. This situation caused her to feel very detached and distrustful of Thomas. She didn’t feel as if Thomas loved or desired her and that his drinking had become his new relationship. Maria decided to contact a former male friend from school with which she began a ‘sexting’ relationship. She never sent any sexually explicit photos of herself to this other person but the messages they shared were very provocative.Maria never had any intentions of actually cheating on Thomas but she just felt lonely and unattractive. She sought companionship with someone that showed interest in her and chose to continue this ‘sexting’ relationship for a couple of months. She mentioned that this person made her feel sexy and desirable. She also felt good that someone was interested in her and although this person requested to meet her in person, she never did. Maria had some guilt that she was busy sending messages to someone other than her husband yet she continued. She got so frustrated with Thomas that she even ‘sexted’ this friend of hers while her husband was next to her on the couch.Now, although this behavior of Maria’s was not having a physical affair it was an emotional affair. Maria was tired of trying to get through to her husband about his drinking and lack of interest in her. She spent a good amount of time looking for affection outside her relationship because her husband was not available to her. When Thomas found out about this ‘sexting’ relationship that Maria had started, he was devastated that she would do such a thing.Maria made the decision to seek therapy to discuss her concerns and disappointment in herself and her relationship. Obviously she realized that while her marriage was not in the best state that she needed help to put things into perspective. After a few sessions, Maria wanted to bring her husband to join in the sessions. These sessions were spent having both of them discuss their feelings and how they were each disappointed with one another. Maria was able to discuss how she felt undesirable and lonely while Thomas received validation for his anxiety issues. Thomas was confronted for his alcohol abuse and how that was affecting their relationship. This couple was able to communicate, forgive each other and move forward.—A second couple, Julio and Gabrielle (not their real names) were not so lucky. Julio started ‘sexting’ with another woman he met online just after the birth of his daughter. He had been unhappy with Gabrielle for some time however just didn’t know how to communicate his feelings. He had come from a family in which communicating feelings was highly discouraged. So while his wife was pregnant and tired a good portion of the time, Julio was online looking for some attention.At first, things were very mild. He sent a few texts here and there just looking to see if other women were interested. However, once his daughter was born, Julio spent a lot of time on his phone. He ‘sexted’ with a particular woman with whom he had a connection at work and in the car. He also deleted all of the messages because he didn’t want his wife to become suspicious or to find them ‘by accident.’ So he was able to keep up this front for some time…a good 6 months.However, one day he wasn’t so careful. Julio forgot to delete some messages and his wife looked at his phone while she was up in the middle of the night feeding the baby. She was appalled and devastated at what she found. Gabrielle chose not to say anything right away because she wanted to see if she could catch him or get him to admit to this behavior. And one day she was able to do just that. She found him in the bathroom taking pictures of his genitals and sending the pictures & messages. She confronted him on the spot and but he denied ever meeting up with this woman. Gabrielle realized that they needed some serious help and sought therapy.She communicated that she loved Julio and wanted to keep their marriage intact but was not going to accept this type of behavior from him. Julio was able to finally, after some encouragement, to communicate that he had been unhappy with Gabrielle for years. He stated that he only married her because she had become pregnant with his daughter but he didn’t feel that the two of them were very compatible. She also found out in therapy that Julio had lied about meeting up with the woman that he was sending messages to and that they had been dating. It was at this point that Gabrielle and Julio decided to separate because their relationship was not reparable.So what should you do?If you have found yourself interested in finding attention outside your marriage or relationship, it is important to ask yourself some important questions.What do you want to accomplish? What are your intentions? Have you found that you are not interested in maintaining your marriage or relationship? What is the reason you are trying to connect with someone else? Are you looking for some attention because you are not getting it at home? Are you seeking out something more exciting or compatible than your partner/spouse? Or is your relationship salvageable with the help of someone who can encourage better communication and engagement? Are you just looking to make you’re your partner/spouse jealous? These questions need to be answered before the relationship deteriorates past the point of no return.If you decide that you are simply not interested in continuing with your present relationship, then some honest dialogue needs to occur with your spouse or partner. It is important to communicate your feelings and to allow this other person the opportunity to hear that the relationship is over. This allows your partner to start the process of grieving the relationship and eventually moving on. Hopefully, you are able to provide some support and compassion for your spouse or partner and allow for a more amicable separation.————-However if you have recently found out that your spouse or partner has been involved in a ‘sexting’ relationship, it is important for you to maintain composure. It is completely normal to have intense emotions regarding the situation however it will not help in the communication process. Please ask questions about this other relationship and find out about your partner’s intentions. It is important to know if your spouse or partner is interested in continuing with your relationship and ending the other one or not. It is helpful to have an objective 3rd party there to help both of you to determine in which direction you both want to travel.Emotions will be high in either situation especially for the person that has just found out about this outside relationship. If you are too deeply hurt by your spouse or partner’s ‘sexting’ relationship to stay with him/her, then this must also be addressed. Each person deals with highly emotional situations in different ways. One couple might be able to communicate effectively even in difficult situations while another couple might not be able to be in the same room together. So it is important to know how your spouse or partner will react in this situation and find a way to come to a workable conclusion that best fits both of you.ConclusionSince ‘sexting’ has become such a popular activity among adults in monogamous relationships and with those that are dating based on the research provided in this article, it is important for everyone to be more knowledgeable regarding the topic. The research shows that ‘sexting’ can enhance a monogamous relationship. The case examples show two different scenarios that can ensue. If people are unhappy in their present relationship and choose to utilize ‘sexting’ to find excitement with another person, the end result could be relationship or marital dissolution.Couples are encouraged to seek out help. A counselor, therapist or psychologist can help couples to find their way through this situation. If a relationship has been extensively damaged by ‘sexting’ (through which a physical relationship may or may not have begun), there are important feelings on both sides that need to be addressed. Depending on the desires of both people involved, these relationships can be saved but does take time to rebuild trust and confidence. Since most of these relationships consist of one (or both) persons seeking out someone else, it is vital to encourage verbal communication about the things that each person views is lacking in the relationship. Feelings need to be communicated and each partner or spouse needs to have the opportunity to express him/herself. Forgiveness plays a HUGE part in this type of situation. Each person has to ask him/herself if forgiveness is an option and if so, they can proceed toward creating a new relationship together. They can do this by spending time together and discussing how to satisfy each other’s needs. Only after these important issues have been brought up can the couple begin to move forward on a new path toward happiness.References:1. Rebecca Adams, “A Look Inside The Insidious and Adulterous World of Sexting,” Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/02/sexting-cheating_n_6185288.html?utm_hp_ref=sexting2. Rachel Zimmerman, “Sexting Among Adults May Be More Common Than You Think, Survey Suggests,” WBUR’s Common Health Reform & Reality, http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2015/08/sexting-adults-relationships

How IT Companies Can Effectively Manage Client Hardware

September 19, 2016

Despite the emergence of “The Cloud”, local hardware will always be required. Even the most basic small business client has a router, a network switch, a PC and one or more printers. Other clients may have Firewalls, Servers, Plotters, Multi-Function Units and any array of other hardware – most of it IP-enabled.Multiply that by multiple clients, and you’ve got an awful lot of hardware that becomes really easy to waste a lot of time and effort trying to manage – if you’re not organized.From Chaos to OrderThe first step in bringing order to the chaos is to buy a Label Printer. My personal favorite is the P-Touch Handheld range from Brother. Anything that you can easily carry with you, plug into the mains (battery operated is fine – but batteries run out, and you then start to forget to label things) and print labels will do the job. If you have more than one engineer, buy them all label printers and get them to label them with their own names – they’ll be more inclined to look after them.Next, organize a time for an engineer to visit client sites with his labeler at the ready – grabbing and labeling anything and everything with a power plug on the end and making a written note of each to take back to the office.(Talking of power plugs, get your engineers into the habit of labeling these too, especially servers. Clearly knowing which plug belongs to a PC and which to a monitor is a real benefit when you’re crawling under a dark desk on a dirty floor trying to work out what to unplug and what not to.)Why Labels?But why bother labeling things?

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Firstly, you’re acknowledging the existence of a device. If it’s labeled, you know about it and can document it for future reference.Secondly, when new hardware “mysteriously” appears at a client site and a client calls you for support on it (probably outside your support contract) you can save yourself a heap of time trying to work out why Windows 7 Home Edition is installed on it rather than a Business O/S.Thirdly, labeling hardware speeds up the support process. If a user telephones the Helpdesk to say they can’t print to “That printer in the corner of the office”, then you can ask them to read the label and quickly identify which printer it is that they’re trying to print to.What to label?What the label says depends on the hardware, but the label should help you easily identify the hardware in question. Some examples:-PCs – Workstation name, Fixed IP address (if applicable)
Servers – Server name, Fixed IP address, Domain name
Routers/Firewalls – External IP address, Internal IP address
Network Switches – Internal IP address, Management IP address
Local Printers – Locally attached Workstation name
Network Printers – Fixed IP address, Queue Name (//Server/Queue)We’re not going to worry about Workstation and Server naming schemes, IP address ranges or any other standards just yet. Right now we’re focusing on documenting what’s already out there.In some cases the engineer won’t be able to identify network equipment. Rather than ignore the hardware, they should label it as “unidentified” and raise a support ticket or make a written note to investigate how to identify it later.This takes some time, especially if you have a lot of clients – but it’s time well spent. You should make this type of ‘discovery work’ a part of the on-boarding process of every new client, as the time spent discovering hardware now will pay dividends when you’re supporting that same hardware later – perhaps in a time-sensitive situation.Document your findingsGoing forwards, make it a policy that from now on, every piece of hardware you deploy to a client site should have a label on it.Document your findings. If you have an RMM tool such as GFI Max, then you’ll already be able to scan networks for devices. Supplement this automated information with your own findings.Pretty soon you’ll have a good overview of the hardware at all your client sites. It’ll make supporting the client, both remotely and on-site, a *lot* easier.The use of the labeler as a force of good doesn’t stop there.Hardware in the WorkshopWhenever an engineer brings a piece of hardware back to the Workshop for troubleshooting, it needs to be labeled. You might label it with the client’s name, a brief overview of the issue, and if you’re using a ticket system, the ticket number.This might sound obvious, but how many times do engineers walk back into the office, drop off some faulty hardware and then get distracted by something else? In this scenario, a colleague may be left scratching his head over who the hardware belongs to and why it’s here, or worse, think the hardware is “spare” and go and re-use it for another job they are working on…

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Talking of spare hardware – it’s worth creating a process to deal with this too. I like to create an area of the workshop that is specifically for Hardware under Repair, Hardware under testing, and Hardware for disposal. Then, as hardware comes in…If it’s hardware that is to be sent back to a manufacturer under RMA, it’s labeled as such and placed in the “Under Repair” area of the workshop.If it’s hardware that may be faulty and required testing, a ticket is raised for this and it’s labeled as “For Testing” and labeled with the appropriate ticket number. The hardware is then placed in the “For Testing” area, and you can confidently give your newly employed Junior Technician something productive to do on his first day in the office.If it’s hardware for disposal, it’s labeled with the fault and marked as “For Disposal”. It’s placed in the “For Disposal” area of the workshop and once every few weeks you arrange for a specialist IT disposal company to collect the pile and dispose of it in an ethical and environmentally-friendly fashion.Save Time With LabelsThe amount of time IT companies can waste trying to re-use faulty hardware that has simply been left lying around, or re-testing known faulty equipment is mind-blowing.A simple system of labeling such hardware saves hours of wasted time.I hope this article has helped to describe how armed with a label printer you can build the basis of a series of systems that lay out how your business deals with client hardware.

How to Make It As a Fitness Model!

August 23, 2016

So You Wanna Be a Fitness Model?People that follow my stuff know I generally write about nutrition, supplements, training, and other topics that are more science based than subjective topics, such as what is covered in this article. I decided to shuck my science geek persona, and write on a topic I know will be helpful to thousands of would be and want to be fitness models.As well a known “hard core” science based no BS writer, why I am writing what some will perceive as a “fluff” article? Over the years I have gotten hundreds, perhaps thousands, of gals that ask me via email, letters, or in person “how do I become a fitness model Will? You have been in the business a long time, surly you of all people should know.” I get this from newbies and I get this from women that have been at it a while but have been unable to “break in” effectively.The fact is, I have been in the fitness, health, and bodybuilding biz a long time, and though I am known as a science and nutrition based “guru” type, I have trained many a fitness athlete, and judged fitness and figure/bikini shows for the NPC, Fitness America, Fitness USA, and other federations as well as given marketing and business advice to all sorts of athletes, including fitness models. So, it’s not as far fetched as it might seem that I am going to use this space to cover a non scientific topic, which is, how one goes about being a fitness model.This article will be useful to both experienced and novice types looking to “break in” to the biz. If you are already a professional and successful fitness model, I am sure you may still glean some useful information from this article.First the bad news, there is no one way to become a successful fitness model. There is no single path or magic secret. There are however some key things a person can do to greatly improve their chances of “making it” in the fitness biz as a model, and perhaps using that success as a launching pad to greater things, such as movies, TV, etc.Several of the top fitness models (Trish Stratus and Vicki Pratt come to mind but there are many others) have gone onto careers in entertainment of all kinds. Bottom line, though there is no magic secret to being successful as a fitness model, this article will be about as close to a blueprint for success as you will find.”Do I need to compete?”This is a question I get asked all the time and it’s not an easy one to answer. In fact, the answer is (drum roll) yes and no. The person has to deicide why they are competing in the first place to answer that question. For example, do you need to compete if your goal is to be a successful fitness model?The answer is no. Many of today’s well-known fitness models have never competed, or they competed in a few small shows and it was clearly not part of their success as fitness models. However, competing does have its potential uses.One of them is exposure. At the upper level shows, there will often be editors, publishers, photographers, supplement company owners, and other business people. So, competing can improve your exposure. Also, competing can make sense if you are trying to build a business that is related to your competing or will benefit from you winning a show.For example, say you have a private training gym you are trying to build. Sure, having the title of say Ms Fitness America, or winning the NPC Nationals and being an IFBB pro, will help your reputation and the notoriety of your business. There are many scenarios were it would help to have won a show for a business or other endeavors.On the other hand, it must be realized that winning a show does not in any way guarantee success in the business end (and it really is a business) of being a fitness model. The phone wont ring off the hook with big offers for contracts. Also, it’s very important to realize that it’s common that the 4th or 6th or 8th place finisher in a fitness or figure show will get more press than the winner. Why? Though the winner might have what it took to win that show, it’s often other gals the editor, publishers, supplement companies etc, feel is more marketable.I have seen it many times where the winner was shocked to find she didn’t get nearly the attention she expected and other girls who placed lower have gotten attention in the form of photos shoots, magazine coverage, etc. Something to keep in mind when you ask yourself the important question “do I need to compete and if so, why am I competing?” Answer that question, and you will know the answer to the heading of this section. Winning a title of some sort can be a stepping stone, but it is not in itself any guarantee of success in the fitness industry. It’s like a college degree; it’s what you do with it.Now. If you compete for the fun of it, then by all means go for it, but the above is focusing on competing as it relates to the business aspect of being a fitness model.

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Right body, wrong federation?Ok, so after reading the above you have decided you are going to compete, or will compete again. If you don’t plan to compete, you can skip this section. The biggest mistake I see here is so many gals have the right body for the wrong federation. Each federation has its own judging criteria and a competitor will do poorly simply because they didn’t bother to research which show would be best suited for them.I will give you a perfect real world example of this. Recently I judged a show whose criteria for the figure round was the women should be more on the curvy softer side with some tone, vs. being more muscular and athletic with less bodyfat that other federations might allow. At this show one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen came out. She was very proportional, great muscle tone, lean, and athletically shaped with narrow hips and waist and wider shoulders. How did she do at this show? She didn’t even place in the top ten!Why? Because she was not what we were instructed to look for and didn’t fit the criteria. After the show I informed her that she looked great, but this may not the federation for her. I told her she had much more of an NPC type body, where a little more muscle, athletic build, and less bodyfat is rewarded.The following week I was judging an NPC fitness, figure, and bodybuilding show and there she was. How did she do? She won the entire show with all judges voting her number one unanimously.Conversely, if your body type tends to be more rounded and toned, but with a little more bodyfat, wider (but not fat!) hips, you may be better off competing in say the Fitness America Pageants. If you are going to compete:(1) find out exactly what the judging criteria is for that federation and(2) go see those shows as a spectator for several different federations and see which one your physique, style, etc will fit into best.(3) You have to decide if you truly have the athletic abilities to compete in a fitness competition (which requires a routine) or a figure/bikini competition.I often see women who would do well in a figure show but really don’t have the athletic abilities do the routines required to be competitive with other athletes in the show. Some shows will allow you to do both competitions and some wont.Networking 101: dos and don’ts…In so many respects, this is the area that will make or break you in any business, and yet, people in the fitness industry do an amazingly poor job at it. If you don’t network and market yourself properly, you can pretty much forget about having any real success as a fitness model, or a success in virtually any business. For the sake of space, we will stick to fitness.When I first started out, I was a self marketing machine. I could be found at every show I thought might be an opportunity, walking the isles of trade shows, bodybuilding, shows, fitness show, and others. I gave out a zillion cards and I took a million home with me, and followed up on each and every one. I went to as many industry related meetings, outings, parties, etc. as I could get into. I now have the reputation and experience in the industry that I don’t have to go to such a show unless I feel like it, or have meetings, but they were quite helpful in the beginning.I am always amazed at the number of fitness models who contact me who have never even been to the Arnold Classic Fitness Weekend, or the Mr. Olympia, or the trade shows like the NNFA Expo West and others. If you want to make it in the fitness business you sure as hell had better treat it like a business.I have seen many a pretty girl who wants to be a fitness model who thinks if they stand there looking pretty long enough, someone is going to offer to put their face on the cover of a magazine. News flash, there are millions of beautiful women out there and to be noticed, you have to hussle to get that business like everyone else by networking your butt off, or having a good agent (if you can afford such a thing) who is doing it for you.Pick a few major industry shows to attend (some of which were mentioned above) and go to them every year. Have a plan of attack of exactly how you plan to market yourself and network. Many fitness models, bodybuilders, etc see a show as one big party. If that’s you, then have fun at the party, but don’t think you are really marketing yourself as a serous business person or athlete.Another thing that always amazes me is the number of fitness models who either have no business cards, or have some cards they printed up on their bubble jet printer at home! They ask me to help them or what ever and I say “give me your card” and they look at me like “I am so pretty I should not need a card you fool.” This attitude turns off editors, photographers, writers, and industry people faster then if they found out you were really a transvestite. Don’t do it. For every pretty girl out there who thinks the world owes them a favor, there are 100 who are ready to act like professionals.Ever wonder why some fitness model you know is doing better than you are even though you know you are prettier than her? That may be why…never ever go to a show to network without good cards, bios, and professionally done head and body shots you can give to said editors, publishers, photographers, industry types, etc. Don’t stand around looking pretty assuming they will find you, find them first and introduce yourself. And of course it should go without saying you should be in good condition and have something of a tan to look your best.You want to go to the shows and party? Fine, but do it in private after the work is done and don’t make a fool out of yourself at some industry sponsored get together. Hell, I was virtually poured into a cab at last years Arnold Classic after going to a sushi place with some well know industry types and companies owners (you know who you are!) but at least no one saw me! We had our own little private get together after the show to let loose.Let me give you one final real world example of how NOT to market yourself. Last year I was on retainer as a consultant to a mid sized supplement company. The owner of the company asked me if I knew a couple of fitness model types that could work his booth for a trade show. In fact, he requested “unknowns, some new faces people had not seen yet but had real potential to grow with the company.” I went and found him two such gals I thought fit the bill.He offered to pay their flights, room, and food plus a thousand dollars each for the days work. The two girls were told to be at the booth 9am sharp. The night before at the hotel, I saw the two girls getting in a cab at 11pm or so dressed to kill, clearly on their way out to party. The next day they showed up at the booth an hour and a half late and hung over! What was the result of this? (1) it embarrassed me to no end as I had recommended them to the company owner (2) they would never get work from that company again (3) they would never get any work from me again and (4) they would not get a reference from either of us for other jobs.I see this type of thing all the time in the fitness biz, and it’s not limited to fitness models. Amazingly, a few weeks after the show they emailed me and the company owner wanting to know when their next job would be! Amazing…Who loves you baby?If there is one universal truth, it’s that the camera either loves you or it does not. Any professional photographers will tell you this. For some unknown reason, some people are very photogenic and some are not. Truth be known, there are some well known fitness models (who shall remain nameless as they would probably smack me the next time they saw me) who are not all that attractive in person. It’s just that the camera loves them and they are very photogenic, but not terribly pretty in person.Conversely, I have seen the reverse many times; a girl who is much better looking in person than in photographs. Such is the fate of the person who wants to be a model of any kind, including a fitness model. If you find you are not very photogenic, keep working with different photographers until you find one that really captures you well and pay that photographer handsomely!Now, to be bluntly honest, there are also some want to be fitness models who are not “unphotogenic”, they’re just “fugly”! There are some people out there who have no business trying to be fitness models. It does not make them bad people, it just means they need to snap out of their delusions and find a profession they are better suited for, like radio personality….”How do I get in the magazines?”This section sort of incorporates everything I have covered above, and adds in a few additional strategies. For example, as I mentioned before, competing in fitness shows and or figure/bikini shows can increase your exposure, thus getting the attention of some magazine publisher or photographer. Networking correctly at the various trade shows may also have the same effect, and of course having a good portfolio done by a photographer that really captures your look, a good web site, etc., will all increase your potential for getting into the magazines, or getting ad work, and so on.However, all of these strategies are still somewhat passive versus active in my opinion. It’s still the fitness model waiting to be “discovered.” As far as I am concerned, waiting is for bus stops and pregnancy tests. Success waits for no man…or woman as the case me be. So, after all the above advice is taken into consideration as having an added effect to getting you magazine coverage, what else can be done?For one thing, you should read and be familiar with all the magazines you want to be in so you know who is who and what the style of the different magazines are. I can tell you right now, if say the Editor-in-Chief of a good sized fitness or bodybuilding publications and says “hi, I am the Bob Smith what’s your name?” and the fitness model has no idea who Bob Smith is, Bob will not take kindly to that. Why should he? You should know who the major players are in the publications you want to be seen in. He is doing you the favor, not the other way around. You should know who the major players are and actively seek them out, don’t wait for them to “discover” you.

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If you look at the masthead inside any magazine, it will tell you who the publisher is, who the Editor-in-Chief is and so forth. The mailing address for that magazine, and often the web site and email, can also be found. What is to stop you from looking up those names and mailing them your pictures and resume directly? Nothing, that’s what. If you see a photo spread you think is really well done, what is to stop you from finding out who the photographer is and contacting them directly and sending them your pics? Nothing, that’s what.My point being, you want a get a break in the business, make the break, don’t sit there thinking it’s looking for you, because it’s not. Be proactive, not reactive! Luck is the residue of design. Be successful by design. As my older brother used to say to me as a kid when I told him I was too scared to ask out a pretty girl “what’s the worst that can happen Will? All she can say is no.” That’s the worst that can happen to you also.Beware of web idiots, schlubs, morons, perverts, scum bags, and sleazoids!This part is sort of self-explanatory but worth mentioning. As with all industries that deal in entertainment based media (e.g., television, theater, modeling, etc.), the fitness industry attracts its far share of web idiots, schlubs, morons, perverts, scum bags, and sleazoids, to name just a few.There is also the class of person known as the schmoe, but we will leave that for another place and time. Point is you want to meet the right people while not getting involved with that group of worthless types who will only drag you down, delay you, or just flat out screw you up and over.For example, a guy comes up and says he wants to “shoot you” for the magazines, but what do you really know of this guy? He has a camera and some business cards, so that makes him a photographer right? Wrong! If someone want to shoot you and they are not a well-known name (and you should know who the well known photographers are because you researched that already!), find out who they are. Do they have references you can call? Girls you can contact he has shot before and were happy with the work? What magazines has he published in? Does he do it professionally or as a hobby? That type of thing.Another thing I see is the big web scam. I’m amazed how many girls get scammed by these web idiots. Lesson here is you get what you pay for, so when some person wants to build you a web site for free, you are getting what you pay for. Yes, there is good money to be made on the ‘net, and the net can be great for marketing yourself and making contacts, but most of it’s a scam.You are better off paying a good web designer and web master who has experience with other fitness model types and has references you can talk to. I can’t tell you the number of girls who have been screwed over by some internet thing that went to hell, like the “fan” who volunteers to build a free web site and either runs off with any money made from the site or puts their picks on porn sites and any number of other things that made them regret like hell ever agreeing to the site in the first place.Clearly, I can’t go down the list of all the possible pitfalls of the web idiots, schlubs, morons, perverts, scum bags, and sleazoids out there to be found in the entertainment business, but you get the idea. Be careful!Conclusion.Well that pretty much concludes my down and dirty guide to the basics of “making it” as a fitness model. Of course there are tons of business related issues I could cover and tricks I could give, but the above is the best advice you are going to find in s small space and will do more for you-if properly followed-than you may realize.Good luck and see you in the magazines!More articles like this at:FIGURE/FITNESS MARKETING EXPLAINED

Rep V. Direct: How to Best Organize a Sales Team

September 9, 2016

Sales executives are constantly searching for the ideal structure of the sales team. Should the team be composed only of direct sales people? Should the team be composed only of manufacturers’ representatives? Experience shows that a hybrid sales organization, composed of a blend of direct and indirect sales employees (manufacturers’ representatives), combines optimal performance, cost effectiveness and flexibility.If one observes several sales organizations over an extended period, she’s able to see that relatively often, sales executives make sweeping changes to those organizations, from all direct to all rep, and from all rep to all direct. Invariably, the observer is able to note that sales management ultimately reverses many of those sweeping changes. Sometimes sales executives benefit from observing changes made by others. Unfortunately, too many sales executives develop the understanding of the benefits of a hybrid organization by making one or more poor decisions and then repairing the organization after problems surface. The most durable of sales organizations are those that use a hybrid technique, employing a mix of both direct sales staff and manufacturers’ representatives. Sales teams composed entirely of all direct people or entirely of manufacturers’ representatives are generally not ideal.Why “Direct Only” Teams Are Not IdealMany CEOs and executive teams believe that the best way to build relationships with customers is with a sales team composed only of direct employees. In this example, sales staff cannot be distracted with unrelated business and other product lines. No one can blame the inexperienced CEO and executive team for thinking this way. A salesperson is able to devote 100 percent of this time to the company. A direct sales team suffers from far fewer distractions than a rep sales team. However, experienced CEOs and executive teams understand that they must thoroughly look at a direct sales team before converting to it. Direct sales teams are quite expensive to train and support. The company must support offices in all major markets. Those offices bring along with them assorted costs: rent, administrative support, office equipment, utilities, etc. A competent manager who can work well and represent the company without direct supervision must manage the office. The company must train and occasionally upgrade each office manager.When sales are growing, the office manager must hire and train new sales staff. The company must train the manager in hiring and training techniques. The company must also train the office manager in firing techniques, in hopes of avoiding legal problems.As sales grow, the office must expand to meet growing demands upon the sales office. Cost of sales rises as sales grow. Sales, however, do not grow forever. Ultimately, sales flatten and roll over. Sales usually roll over earlier and more abruptly than hiring plans. Sales may dip at anytime during the year, but hiring plans are usually set at the beginning of each calendar or fiscal year. As a result, hiring is sometimes still underway when industry and office sales are falling. Such dynamics create an environment whereby cost of sales, (as measured by the total cost of running the sales office, divided by the total revenue that the office generates, expressed as a share of sales) rises rapidly.

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When a sales office has healthy sales, the company can manage its cost of sales and support them at a predetermined level. If sales grow for a long period, the company can manage the office to cut cost of sales. The sales office can benefit from economies of scale. A sales office supporting 20 salesmen doesn’t need more copiers, fax machines and conference rooms than an office supporting only 10 salesmen. Unfortunately, sales ultimately roll over. It is difficult to cut costs immediately. The office manager must usually see several months or quarters of declining sales before realizing that he must cut costs, including headcount. During this time, cost of sales rises, sometimes well above tolerated levels. The sales office manager and the company cannot cut costs quickly. Which is a chief reason that totally direct sales teams are undesirable.Why “Rep Only” Teams Don’t Yield Peak PerformanceRep only sales organizations afford a number of benefits to the sales executive. The sales teams are already in place. Hiring and firing of salesmen is not the direct responsibility of the sales executive or his regional sales managers. Manufacturers’ representatives generally hire and fire as sales move up and down. The cost of running a rep only sales organization rise and fall directly with the level of sales. A significant benefit of the rep only sales organization is that cost drops immediately when sales drop. It’s possible to accurately forecast cost of sales as a share of total revenue. Cost can never get out of control by hiring too many salesmen, buying too many computers, or leasing too large an office; not infrequent problems for direct sales organizations.Manufacturers’ representatives are not always the panacea for companies looking to hire or expand a sales organization. Large customers often demand direct sales staff; not indirect staff from a manufacturers’ representative. Large customers view their largest suppliers as strategic partners, and like the ability to communicate directly with those suppliers. Communications is sometimes slower and less clear when a customer must communicate with a manufacturers’ representative, who in turn communicates with the supplier. Customers may set the style with which they deal with suppliers as part of their purchasing strategy. For example, they may decide to deal with no more than two or three suppliers on any commodity and to deal with those suppliers directly. This disallows conducting business through manufacturers’ representatives. A supplier must recognize and honor such a strategy, or be ready to suffer undesirable consequences. A supplier must never turn a tin ear to a request from a customer demanding direct sales representation.Large suppliers view their largest customers as strategic partners, and like the ability to communicate directly with those customers. They view the delay when communicating through a manufacturers’ representative as an unnecessary burden. When large suppliers invest management time with strategic customers, they do not want to dilute that investment by sharing management time with manufacturers’ representatives. The incapacity to offer direct coverage to strategic customers is the primary reason that a sales team composed only of manufacturers’ representatives is unattractive.First and Foremost: Do No HarmRecognizing that something is wrong, many sales executives make bold, sweeping structural changes to their sales teams. Fire all reps and hire a direct sales team. Fire all direct salesmen and hire a network of manufacturers’ representatives. Either approach will certainly repair some problems. More than likely, however, extreme changes are very prone to creating new problems of equal or greater scale.Why do so many companies replace one poor-performing sales organization with another that destined to yield performance that is no better than the original? The two most common reasons are inexperience and weakness of the sales executive compared to the rest of the management team. Perhaps the inexperienced sales executive has risen through a single company with an all-direct or all-rep sales force. Now, managing the global sales organization, he opts for sweeping change from all-direct to all-rep, or from all-rep to all-direct sales without benefit of understanding thoroughly the benefits and problems with either a pure-rep or pure-direct organization. Alternatively, the inexperienced sales executive may have developed his management skill at a company employing an all-direct sales organization. He may not feel comfortable managing if hired into an all-rep company. No one can fault a sales manager if he sees massive problems and concludes that he must make sweeping change to an all-direct sales organization. Only inexperience allows him to make a major, highly disruptive change.Another reason companies make dramatic changes in the structure of a sales organization is that the sales executive is weak. If cost-of-sales, expressed as a share revenue is too high, the CEO, the rest of the executive team, or both can apply pressure on the sales executive to affect change and cut cost. If the sales executive lacks the strength to defend his team or the structure of the sales organization, he merely becomes the messenger, not the manager.

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The message to the sales executive feeling pressure to make sweeping change in a sales organization is to adhere to the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm. Any sweeping change imposed upon the structure of a sales team will initially be disruptive. Make sure to justify the disruption and be very sure that the change, once implemented, is most likely irreversible. Sweeping change brings disruption, higher cost of sales and lower productivity. All of this might be worthwhile. However, if a sales manager imposes sweeping change and then reverses course within a year or two, disruption from the reversal is much greater and more costly. A reversal of an organization change brings with it disruption, higher cost of sales and lower productivity just like the original change. However, an organizational reversal can erode the sales team’s enthusiasm. A company can handle disruption, higher cost of sales and lower productivity if repaired relatively quickly. Repair of an unmotivated sales team takes much more time.”Hybrid Sales Teams” Work BestA supplier always looks to optimize its sales organization. If a company continuously focuses on cost of the sales organization, use of manufacturers’ representatives is mandatory. The benefits of manufacturers’ representatives are too great to ignore. However, manufacturers’ representatives may not satisfy the requirements for some customers. Strategic customers demand direct interface, excluding the use of reps. The best alternative then, is to merge some of the best features of both a rep and a direct sales organization. Implement a direct sales team to cover the sales to all strategic customers, while simultaneously bringing about a sales team of manufacturers’ representatives to cover all other customers.A hybrid sales team benefits from the cost effectiveness of manufacturers’ representatives. The same team can deal directly with strategic customers. The sales executive may take advantage of the non-disruptive flexibility when adding or deleting customers on strategic customer list. A secondary benefit of a hybrid sales organization is bench strength. Well-seasoned, top-performing direct sales personnel represent a talent pool from which from which to draw regional sales managers.ConclusionExperience shows that a hybrid sales organization, composed of a blend of direct and manufacturers’ representatives combines optimal performance, cost effectiveness and flexibility. The most durable sales organization is one that uses a hybrid technique. Sales teams composed entirely of all direct staff or entirely of manufacturers’ representatives too often underperform.

Temporary Tattoos A Permanent Solution

October 29, 2016

These days, more and more individuals are deciding to permanently leave their mark – on their own skin. If done by a qualified tattoo artist, the risks may be minimal. Unfortunately for many, however, unsanitary equipment or later appearing infections are creating big problems for tattoo enthusiasts.Not so long ago, temporary tattoos were something that was found in a bubble gum wrapper or in the toy section at the local retail store. Why? Because children loved to have their own tattoos, but only the safe kind that would wash away and cause no permanent change. Now, some adults are beginning to think that kids have the right idea. Temporary tattoos are no longer just for children and in fact are now often available as longer lasting, adult skin tattoos.

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The one thing that all temporary tattoos have in common is, you guessed it, they are temporary. There is no risk of contracting an illness or the tattoo site becoming infected, which is a very promising thought to those who are health conscious. Temporary tattoos are not only safe, but they are easy to remove with nothing more than soap and water. This is a big contrast to the permanent images, which require medical attention for removal.If an individual is almost certain that they wish to have a permanent tattoo placed on their body, they may want to try a temporary tattoo first. In order to find the right design and placement, some individuals are finding the temporary tattoos are a terrific way to experiment with various designs and areas at a very affordable price. Once a permanent tattoo is done, the only way to have it removed is through surgery. Rather than going through the process a dozen times before finding the perfect tattoo, some adults are deciding to try out a temporary tattoo and the conveniences of washing it away with a few swipes of the soap.Quality temporary tattoos, in many cases, look exactly like the real thing. These can be found online or possibly at a tattoo parlor directly. Before purchasing a permanent tattoo, the customer should be certain that the symbol is one that will be admired for life. Some individuals tattoo the name of their significant other only to find that, years later, the relationship is over. Many people are staying away from personalization for this very reason, but others still celebrate their love by putting it in writing – literally. Whether or not a tattoo is personalized, the depicted image should be one that is special and meaningful so that it will always be treasured.

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This article is to be used for informational purposes only. The information contained herein is not intended to be used in place of, or in conjunction with, professional medical advice or recommendations for tattoo placement. Before deciding on getting a tattoo or having one removed, the patient must consult a licensed medical doctor for medical advice and/or to determine the best course of action for his/her individual healthcare needs.

Planning Strength and Speed Training For American Football

October 27, 2016

American Football, like many other sports, has a history of coaches with a poor understanding of the sport’s demands inflicting upon players the necessity to run laps of the pitch, and engage in other forms of training at odds with the sport’s unique demands. With a constant stop start style to the play, with the average play lasting no longer than ten seconds, followed by a much longer rest period, its demands are closer to traditional sprinting and weight training methods, than sports such as Rugby or Boxing, where there is a much greater endurance element required. At the same time, the sport has a big element of lateral mobility and technical considerations to consider, absent from pure speed or strength sports.This article will look at ways to incorporate speed and strength training methods to assist a player looking to improve his speed/strength during the football off-season. Each element will be considered individually. Given the wide range of requirements for the different positions in football, this article will focus on training planning for a typical week for Linebackers, Backs and Strong Safeties, although the advice is applicable to most positions except Kickers and Offensive/Defensive Linemen. Even then, many of the elements would remain broadly similar for these positions.Strength TrainingMost American Football players today will already place a large emphasis on strength training as this has been emphasized for a comparatively longer time in the sport due to the ever increasing demand for larger and stronger athletes. This does not mean that players should automatically follow the training advice handed out in bodybuilding magazines, or follow a generic college training program. Unfortunately, most college programs suffer from being overly simplistic due to the need to try to train 40 or 50 athletes at once in a facility. This type of training leads to the most simple, easy to administer programs being handed out to athletes, rather than the most effective. Similarly, athletes who believe bodybuilding programs can enhance sports performance may potentially gain some muscle size but at the expense often of relative strength and speed going down, as well as a decrease in joint mobility if emphasising single joint exercises. Additionally, bodybuilding programs’ emphasis on training to failure and exhaustive work on individual muscle groups will lead to less energy being available for the high intensity, explosive work which football demands.Split Training vs Whole Body TrainingMost players will often follow a typical bodybuilding protocol where individual muscle groups are trained once per week with very high volume. Unfortunately, while this may work under certain circumstances for bodybuilders, football players cannot afford to adopt this method. Most significantly, this method of training makes it very difficult to integrate training with the demands of improving other elements vital to success in football. For example, many bodybuilders will train back, quadriceps, hamstrings on separate days. This will mean for most of the time players will have insufficient energy to perform their other drills, sprint work etc due to excess muscular fatigue. Furthermore, split training will mean the central nervous system is always under stress from constantly performing high intensity activity leading to impaired recovery and ability to perform other drills outside the gym with the required intensity.

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This leaves two options. The first is to adopt a lower/upper body split and the second is to adopt a full body training program. Both options have their advocates. Splitting the body into lower/upper will mean legs get trained twice a week meaning five days are left for rest. By only training legs on those two days, a greater volume of work can be performed on training days compared to a typical whole body approach consisting of hitting the weights on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday basis, where because of the increased frequency and need to train upper body as well, leg training volume would need to be reduced.Depending on the athlete’s needs an upper/lower split is usually more useful for increasing strength and muscle size as many will struggle to maintain the intensity needed for a long, whole body training workout. A sample lower/upper body split would be as follows:Sample Strength Training SplitMondaySquats 4 x 4-6
Romanian Deadlifts 4 x 4-6
Step Ups 2 x 8
Pullthroughs 2 x 8
Ab Rollouts 2 x 8TuesdayIncline Bench Press 4 x 4
Hang Cleans 3 x 3
Shoulder Press 2 x 6
Pullups 2 x 6
Tricep Extensions 2 x 8
Barbell Curls 2 x 8ThursdayPower Cleans 5 x 3
Snatch Grip Deadlifts 3 x 5
One Legged Squats 2 x 6
Glute Ham Raise 2 x 8
Hanging Leg Raises 2 x 10FridayClose Grip Bench Press 3 x 5
Pullups 3 x 5
Incline Dumbell Press 2 x 8
Seated Row Machine 2 x 8
Tricep Extensions 2 x 12
Dumbell Curls 2 x 12Speed TrainingSpeed training for football players needs to consider the fact that football sprints are usually of much shorter duration than sprinting in track and field events. At the same time the body mechanics of football players will be different to those you see in top class sprinters.Having said that, a speed training program for football players will have a large degree of overlap with that of Olympic athletes but with a limited requirement for the type of speed endurance work performed by sprinters during the summer track season. Instead a football program should primarily emphasise acceleration techniques with a smaller component of top speed work so that for the rare occasions that a full sprint is required, the player is able to maintain his top speed for longer.Although there are many differing views on how to train speed, the approach used by Charlie Francis[i] is one which works well for integrating the other aspects of football training.Speed Training Template for Off-SeasonMondayWarmup – 5 min general warmup
Mobility Exercises – 10 min
Running Drills – 10 min
Start Work – 6 x 10m (Practise a 3 point or 2 point stance and perform a maximal 10m sprint)
Acceleration Work – 6 x 20m (2 or 3 point stance and accelerate through to 20m)
Acceleration Work – 2 x 30m (Run from standing start to 30m)Rest times between sprints should be 2-3 mins for 10m work, 3-5 min for 20m work, and 4-6 min for 30m work to ensure full recovery is attained.The astute reader will notice the sprints are combined on a day where the weights pushed will be heavy. Depending on the athletes needs, they could sprint in the AM and do the weights in the evening or vice versa. Both approaches will work. The main factor behind placing sprints on the same day as weight training the legs is to allow for greater CNS and muscular recovery. Trying to sprint on separate days (e.g. on Tue) would mean the legs still being fatigued from the day before and then having less rest before the next weight session for legs. By contrast, combining weight training with leg work on the same day is something sprint coaches usually recommend.TuesdayWarmup – 5 min general warmup
Mobility Exercises – 10 min
Running Drills – 10 min
Tempo Work 8-10 x 100m @60-70% speedTempo training is running the distance at a sub-maximal speed and walking the next 100m. It is very important both for active recovery (recovering from the previous day’s exertions), learning to run in a relaxed manner (many athletes strain too much when sprinting maximally), and for overall conditioning and fat loss (the intervals being approximately similar when running/walking, as the work/rest time in football and in fat loss protocols such as Tabata).WednesdayWith another high intensity day scheduled for Thursday, Wednesday is a time to rest and recuperate. Some mobility and drill work is okay for those who need it though.ThursdayWarm-up – 5 min general warm-up
Mobility Exercises – 10 min
Running Drills – 10 min
Start Work – 6 x 10m (Practice a 3 point or 2 point stance and perform a maximal 10m sprint)
Acceleration – 3 x 20m
Acceleration – 3 x 30m
Top Speed – 3 x 50mThursday’s sprint training session is partnered with a relatively low load, explosive lifting weight training day. The sprint distances complement the weights by being of a greater distance and speed. This is the day when the football player will work his maximum speed but we keep acceleration work in, albeit at a reduced volume, as acceleration is a very important factor for football as well as helping to warmup the body for the top speed work. Rest times can be up to 10min long for the top speed sprints. The work conducted has to be of a high quality with full muscular and CNS recovery between sprints the aim of the athlete.FridayTempo Work – 8-10 x 100m
This day is a repeat of TuesdaySaturdayWarm-up – 5 min general warm-up
Mobility Exercises – 10 min
Running Drills – 10 min
Start Work – 4 x 10m (Practice a 3 point or 2 point stance and perform a maximal 10m sprint)
Acceleration – 3 x 20m
Acceleration – 2 x 30m
Top Speed – 2 x 50m
Top Speed – 2 x 60mSaturday is the day when we should be at our freshest. There is no weight training prior to training and we are furthest removed from the draining effects of the heavy weight training conducted on Monday and Tuesday. There is a greater emphasis on top speed work this time with an increase in the distance up to 60m. This should be the time the athlete is setting his best times.

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SundayRestGoing Past a WeekAt this point it should be pointed out that the approach given is for a sample training week in the off-season. Strength and speed training should still be periodized as normal. A favored approach of many programs is to gradually increase training volume and intensity before incorporating a week of reduced volume and intensity to allow for supercompensation and CNS recovery to take place. A 3/1 split of hard training followed by an easier “unloading” week will help promote continued improvements rather than trying to constantly add weight/sets/sprints to the program which will only lead to stagnation.At the same time, other exercises and techniques will usually be incorporated to provide the athlete’s body with new challenges but the overall goal should remain the same which is to increase strength and speed over the long haul. Although it will be easy for a beginner to make rapid improvements in both strength and speed following a structure such as that outlined, at some point it is likely that either the weights or the speed work will have to be reduced in volume (although not intensity) and maintained so that the other quality being work can be emphasized.Most 100m sprinters will usually go from a program where strength increases are emphasized in winter to one where weight training is restricted to maintenance only so that full attention can be devoted to maximal speed work during the summer months.Of course, for American Football players, they may have a differing view on which element needs emphasizing but the fact remains that given that neither strength or speed improvements in-season are realistic, the player should look at his off-season training program and consider which variable he needs to work on the most. Then, he can perform a greater or lesser amount of speed or strength work as deemed appropriate by him and his coaching staff. For a strong athlete with limited speed this would mean reducing the volume of his weight work on his training days and training speed first in the training day, when the CNS and muscular system is freshest. On the other hand, a weak, fast athlete may wish to perform a limited amount of speed work and increase his weight training volume so that he can bring up his strength levels quicker.Other FactorsMany other factors beyond how the athlete structures his training are important including mobility drills, nutritional support, supplementation, recovery and regeneration techniques, and technical work. Although these are beyond the scope of this article, each element should be implemented carefully. Please check the other articles at this site for further reading.[i] The Charlie Francis Training System (1992)

Finding the Right Assistance For Your Technical Translation Service Needs

August 8, 2016

You are about to embark on your quest of testing the accuracy of personal document translation services and technical translation services that several nearby translation firms brag about. Since you have just received a Russian research journal from your colleague in Russia, and you plan to use it as a direct reference for the study you are making for your masters class, you want to make sure that you will get your money’s worth from the translation job you will be submitting to a translation firm. Of course, you wanted to find the right assistance to address your translation needs. So what do you need to do first, before you submit the research journal for intensive translation? Below are some tips to help you find the right translation firm to satisfy your needs:

Ask for a portfolio or look into what services a translation firm could provide. A company portfolio usually summarizes what a company is capable of doing for its clients. Thus, a translation firm’s portfolio should include the services they provide their clients and customers, what particular field do they specialize in, as well as vital information on what type of documents they usually translate. These are important things to be included in a translation company’s portfolio so that clients could be properly guided on what services they should avail, and help them decide whether or not they should entrust their documents to be translated to this company.

Look out for testimonials and satisfied clients who could attest to the credibility of a translation firm. To further help you in finding the right translation company to assist you in your translation needs, you need to search for testimonials of satisfied clients of these translation service providers. These testimonials will help you analyze which among these translators provide the best services and perks, so that you could decide on which to choose. Also these testimonials will give you insights on what translation jobs are usually provided to these companies and help you evaluate whether you will go to one of these translation firms or not.

Try out their service by providing them a simple job order. If there are no testimonials regarding the capability of these translations firms to provide personal documents translation services and technical translation services, then you might as well test their capabilities by using simple translation job orders. If you have the finances and the time to individually test the capabilities of these institutions through a trial and error method, you will be properly guided in finding the best translation firm able to provide you the level of service you require.

Look at the qualifications of the hired translators. By looking at the qualifications and skills of the translators of a company, you could readily see which field they excel in. This will help you evaluate and compare whether or not your document for translation is in line with the expertise of the company, so as to assure you that you will eventually get the best translation results.

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By simply using these four steps, soon you will find the right translation service, either technical or personal documents, that will fit your own requirements and translation specifications, to get only the best results that correspond to your money’s worth.

Private Banking Services Vs Retail Banking

September 24, 2016

Private banking is a much more personalized banking service given to individuals who invest substantial sums, typically over U$S1M. The most noticeable difference between retail and private banking services are that private clients receive customer service on a 1-1 basis via a relationship manager or a private banker. Wealthy individuals with private accounts can expect to meet their bank contact in person, and have direct phone access to a relationship manager. Usually the private banking arm of a bank is separate from the retail banking arm and the service is completely distinct.A private bank is one that is not incorporated. Private banks are favoured by conservative investors because the directors are personally liable, and more likely to be cautious in managing client funds. Financial institutions like these are sometimes family owned and only cater to the very rich. One of the reasons why wealthy people choose them is their confidentiality – a pledge to maintain client records secret. For some it is a case of not wanting to be targeted by criminals, lawsuits or corrupt governments. Others use this secrecy to shield income from authorities like the IRS and evade tax.

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Many of the world’s private banks are found in Switzerland because of the strict bank secrecy laws and sophistication of Swiss financial services. Small banks in countries like Switzerland are also more likely to keep their client records secret because they limit their operations to within the country’s bank secrecy laws.Not only private banks offer private banking services – in fact some of the biggest providers of private banking and wealth management services like UBS, Credit Suisse and the Barclays are not privately owned. Private clients of these huge banks can take advantage of their in-house trading and research departments, and sometimes choose to have almost all their assets managed by the bank. This way they expect much higher returns than those given by a simple savings account or certificate of deposit.Types of Private Banking ServicesUsually only very affluent clients demand wealth management – where private bankers manage an investment portfolio for a family or an individual. The fee for this service varies from bank to bank and is charged yearly as a percentage of the total amount invested. The return of a portfolio will also depend on the standard of the private banking service. While some will provide excellent returns, others will continue to charge high fees while investing client funds in the bank’s own investment funds, regardless of whether or not this is beneficial to the client.

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A popular alternative to wealth management is Self-Directed private banking, where the client manages his own portfolio, at times calling on advice from the bank. The advantages of this type of account are lower fees and greater personal control.Inheritance and tax planning are extra private banking services provided either directly or by referral for an extra fee.

Dysfunctional Environments: What Is A Dysfunctional Environment?

November 3, 2016

When it comes to describing a dysfunctional environment, it might help us to also look at what a functional environment might look like.Functional EnvironmentA functional environment then; would be an area that is conducive to growth. Somewhere that not only supports and encourages an individual to be themselves, but also allows them to.Here, one can express who they are and feel safe doing so. Positive feelings and thoughts are also more likely to occur in this environment.Dysfunctional EnvironmentThe dysfunctional environment on the other hand would be somewhere that doesn’t allow for the above to happen. Where the individual doesn’t feel supported or acknowledged in anyway, let alone in a way that honours who they are. This might be an environment that forces one to constantly compromise their values and themselves.The word door mat comes to mind here; with boundaries being nonexistent in this environment. Feeling and thinking negatively is also something that might seem to just happen; coming on like a parasite, without reason or warning. Despair is also another common consequence from being in this type of environment.Conscious And Unconscious EnvironmentsWith both of these examples we can see that one is an environment that could be classed as conscious and the other is an environment that is the complete opposite.By this I mean that the dysfunctional environment is an environment where behaviour and the effects of that behaviour go unnoticed. The people in the environment have little, to, no awareness of their actions or to the damage, which is being carried out physically, emotionally or mentally.

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Standing UpPerhaps if one were to comment or mention how they felt to the person or persons in the environment, they might be dismissed or ignored. This of course all depends on how dysfunctional the environment is.The Frog MetaphorThis is a story that is helpful in explaining the insidious nature of the dysfunctional environment.It is about a frog that is put in a pan and is cooked so gradually that it doesn’t know or notice the difference in temperature. And after this slow rise, the frog dies. It was oblivious to what was happening and its imminent death. It became comfortable and numb to what it was experiencing.So How Does This Relate To Dysfunctional Environments?Within this environment one will notice at first that it is draining to them. However unless one takes the steps to break away or steps out of the environment so that it can be seen from another perspective, they might start to feel comfortable within this environment. With their original state of mind and aliveness; fast becoming a distant memory.Now this could be because of a gradual drip feed approach or the slow cooking approach mentioned above. It might also be because it is an environment that feels comfortable and safe to them; as absurd as this sounds. It is reminding them of their history and what hasn’t been looked at.Is This How It Is?One might have never been in a functional environment. This makes it difficult in seeing contrast and in being able to compare it to other environments in their life. One might believe that this is how life is and that there is no such thing as a ‘functional environment’ or that it’s not possible for them.HistoryWe all have our own history, some parts that are likely to bring us feelings of happiness and other parts that might cause feelings of anger or resentment. This is history that won’t just disappear; it has to be faced in some way. That could be by directly facing something or by the assistance of a therapist for example.Pulled To Our PastWe will naturally be drawn into environments that are mind unconsciously associates as being what is safe to us. These environments won’t always be places that empower or honour who we are. They will be environments that mirror the behaviours, feelings and thoughts of our childhood.AssociationsThis is because of the nature of the mind and how it gets attached and creates attachments. What was experienced as a child becomes what is familiar and safe to the ego mind; regardless of if it is functional or not. If these associations are functional and beneficial, then what will subsequently happen is one will usually end up in environments that are at least moderately healthy and functional.Unhealthy AssociationsHowever if these are associations that are not so healthy or functional; one is likely to find that they are ending up in the same environments. Environments that are disempowering and don’t reflect what they consciously want or what their heart calls for. Where their energy is being taken and no energy is being returned.The Childhood EnvironmentAbove I have mentioned about our later environments mirroring the behaviours feelings and thoughts of our childhood environment if they have not been processed.

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Common themes of those years will continue to appear and play out in our present day environments. These might be themes that our unique to us; challenges that just seem to appear over and over again.A Recent StudyI recently read about a group of rat pups that were genetically predisposed to be more fearful than other strains of rats. If these rats were left with their biological mothers, they were likely to be fearful and stressed. However after placing these rat pups with other rat mothers that were not fearful; they grew up without fear.The Power Of The EnvironmentNow these might be rats that were talking about here, but what this shows is the power of the environment in shaping how we see ourselves and in who we become.There is always talk of nature vs. nurture and on the effect genetics have on life, however through the study of epigenetic’s genes have been found to require a trigger to be activated and that trigger is the environment. It is the environment that is making the difference.Choosing Our EnvironmentsChoosing our environments and therefore the people we have in our life and spend our time with is incredibly important to our own wellbeing and in achieving our dreams.The natural tendency of our mind will be to return to what feels comfortable and to what is familiar.Who We AreWhat happened in or childhood or what has happened in our past doesn’t have to define our life or who we are. That is something we can do in each moment of our life.