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COVID-19: Massive list of resources for Texas professionals

(BUSINESS NEWS) This is a resource list compiled to help any business tackle the various challenges that coincide with a global pandemic like COVID-19.

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Austin skyline

Well, that escalated quickly. We were saddened by the cancellation of SXSW which for 34 years has brought thousands of people to Austin to celebrate interactive, music and tech. Many entrepreneurs, artists and small business owners thrive on their exposure and sales during this two-week festival. Many bars, restaurants and shops rely on this additional foot traffic each year.

Some amazing person quickly pulled together ilostmygig.com where people could report in about the wage, they were losing due to the cancellation of the festival.

Not much later, we may have been complaining about our daily commutes in Austin traffic and the next told that our workplaces were closed, and we would need to start having meetings on Zoom, Skype and MS Teams and work remotely for an indefinite time.

Schools and daycare may have also been closed, with not much notice, so people are balancing doing this new work from home all the time while having a child/children home too. Others in Austin were not sure what their workplaces would do and sat by their emails at 11pm on Sunday night.

We know this sudden shift in our daily lives hurts. This hurts everyone whether you’re a full-time employee, small business owner, local artist and maker, restaurant/bar owner and/or self-employed. A Small Business Friends ATX group quickly pulled together a webinar with resources for their community and we have permission to share here. Many of these are also an attempt to support some of our small business owners in our world here in Austin, TX.

We hope this list provides you with some great ideas and/or resources to do while the world around us in uncertain. This is by no means an exhaustive list (and is highly relevant to Texas) but could also offer you ideas to seek out in your community. Either way, it’s a great demonstration of the power of community – whether in real life or online.

Erin Wike, Career Coach and Lecturer at UT Austin, Owner of Cafe Con Resume and Small Business Friends ATX Co-Founder (Austin-based owner):

TEXAS – Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program

Disaster Unemployment Assistance During or After Natural Disasters

Design Your Life Workbook – If you need some help with design thinking prompts and guidance on how to explore new opportunities in your business, this guided workbook helps you to draw out what potential there is in an easy format and at your own pace.

Super U Podcast (also on Spotify) (Austin-based owner)
Erik Qualman’s Super U Podcast has tons of great tips on personal/digital branding and stories of people bringing out their superpowers. The March 16 podcast is about Online Classes and Online Learning during Coronavirus Quarantine. He also shares great tips on Instagram (short sound bites)
(And shameless plug, Erin Wike is interviewed on the 2/26 episode about The Modern Resume and Aligning your Passions with work).

The Prowess Project Certification
16-hour certification on teamwork, interpersonal skills, technology and Project Management principles. (Austin-based owner)

Doers Shakers Makers
Sierra Bailey’s Podcast has tons of great tips for tiny, talented business owners around content marketing, scaling, time management, etc. (Austin-based owner)
She also has a free Facebook group and virtual meet ups.

Google Analytics 101 for Small Business Owners (recorded webinar via YouTube)

Social Media Today has a story about LinkedIn Learning
In the coming days, we will make 16 LinkedIn Learning courses available for free including tips on how to: stay productive, build relationships when you’re not face-to-face, use virtual meeting tools (Microsoft Teams, Skype, BlueJeans, Cisco WebEx and Zoom), and balance family and work dynamics in a healthy way.

LinkedIn Learning has a ton of resources too about learning Google Analytics, Digital Marketing trends, Excel, etc.

Remote Resources by Facebook Education
If you’re looking for reliable content to share with your members on the prevention of coronavirus, or dealing with anxiety surrounding the virus, we’ve compiled some helpful information from leading health authorities.

Lynn Chang, Owner of Career Zen where East meets West in her approach to helping people with their Career Journeys.

  • 20 minutes of restorative yoga is equivalent to a 2-hr nap. Doing this everyday can improve your mindset and wellbeing. Waterfall pose. You can find other yoga and meditation videos from the Career Zen YouTube channel. Leandra Blei Photography filmed and edited the meditation ones!
  • I wrote The 10 Day Career Cleanse to help us during stressful, chaotic times at work. Through inner zen and harmony, we can more easily tap into creativity and innovation for our businesses. Jessica Hagemann of Cider Spoon Stories (Austin-based owner) was my editor!
  • Need some extra money now? Remote Side Hustles, Work from home jobs through Rat Race Rebellion, Disaster Unemployment Assistance for small businesses. I’ll have more resources and special offerings to share as we go. Here’s my FB business page for reference.
  • Remember that your path to success is naturally paved with unexpected twists and turns. Stay focused on your vision and use your talents to better the world!

Sonya Strattman (Austin-based owner)
Success Strategist for Women in Business
Creator of Women in the Business Arena podcast and program

  • Sonya will have several podcast episodes on dealing with the current environment starting next week. Look up Women in the Business Arena on your favorite podcast app or visit: https://sonyastattmann.com/listen
  • She also has some very specific episodes on topics that will support you during these times.
    1. 3-part series on Navigating business with kids off of school, with illness, etc. Episodes 110-112 starting here.
    2. Overcoming fear EP105.
    3. The Inevitability of Discomfort and How to Move through it EP127.
    4. Deconstructing Stress EP134.
    5. Facing Discouragement & Rising Again EP132.
  • For those in a service business, she has a quick quiz that can help you determine where to focus your attention right now for the most results. Sonya also has accompanying training for each result.
  • Women’s Facebook group called Women in the Business Arena (same as the podcast). You are welcome to join and ask me her questions.

Ruoyun Xu Killian (Austin-based owner)
Founder of C3Nami, a Digital Marketing Agency.

  • Her company is currently working on potentially offering free 20 min advice calls to see how they can support people more on an individual level, but you can always email her, and she will do her best to answer questions.
  • Article about twitters advice on how to adjust your tone during these times.
  • Facebook hub for small businesses.
  • Official City of Austin website.
  • CDC website
  • We here at The American Genius feel the struggles of this time, we hear hundreds of stories each week and know it can be scary living in such uncertainty. We share these resources not only to help you through these hard times, but to show that others are working on, around, and through the problems along side you.

    This list is mostly centered around businesses but the more important element in all of this is you. Take care of yourself and business will return to normal, so wash your hands, stay away from others for the time being, and maybe you can actually catch up on that sleep you’ve been lacking for years.

Erin Wike is a Career Coach & Lecturer at The University of Texas at Austin and owner of Cafe Con Resume. Erin is fueled by dark roast coffee with cream AND sugar, her loving husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs. She is the Co-Founder of Small Business Friends ATX to help fellow entrepreneurs + hosts events for people to live a Life of Yes with Mac & Cheese Productions.

Business News

Age discrimination lawsuits are coming due to the pandemic – don’t add to the mess

(BUSINESS NEWS) Age discrimination is spreading despite intentions to help, and employers need to know how to proceed in this unprecedented era.

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Ageism void

Before the pandemic, age discrimination was prevalent in workplaces. The EEOC reports that in 2018, about 6 out of 10 workers aged 45 years and older say they experience discrimination on the job.

A 2015 survey found that 75% of older workers found age an obstacle in job hunting. COVID-19 made the situation much worse.

Not only do older workers deal with discrimination, but they are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from the virus. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, older workers were hit the hardest by job loss during the pandemic, which is unusual during a recession. As offices reopen, employers need to be careful to avoid age discrimination in rehiring.

Lawyers expect age discrimination lawsuits to increase.

Last September, Harris Meyer published an article in the ABA Journal that predicted a “flood of age discrimination lawsuits” from the pandemic. Employers who have good intentions by keeping older employees out of the workplace to protect their health are still guilty of age discrimination.

What can employers do to avoid age discrimination?

It may be fine line between making sure you don’t discriminate based on age while offering ADA accommodations. The first thing employers should do is to know what laws apply based on their location. Some states exempt employees over 65 from returning to the workplace out of safety fears, meaning that those employees can still get unemployment. Other states are cutting benefits if employees don’t return to work, regardless of age.

There are some jurisdictions that have passed legislation about which workers have the right to be recalled. Next, review your own policies and agreements with laid off and terminated employees. You may want to consult legal counsel to make sure you’re covering your bases.

As you rehire, whether you’re bringing back former employees or hiring new team members, do not make hiring decisions based on age. Keep good documentation about your decisions to terminate certain employees. If you are citing poor performance, make sure to have a record of that. Don’t terminate older employees who have bigger salaries just because of lower sales. Monitor your words (and that of your hiring team) to avoid bias in hiring and firing.

Provide accommodations or not?

According to the SHRM, “Workers age 40 and older are protected from bias by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; however, that law doesn’t require employers to make accommodations for safety concerns.”

Still, employers can provide flexibility for workers, but it largely depends on the type of job. Reaching an accommodation for an office worker will be much easier than accommodating a sanitation worker.

Employers should assume that workers aged 40 and older can return to work. When the need for help is raised by the employee, enter negotiations for accommodations. Don’t initiate the conversation, and absolutely avoid any references to age.

Know that the environment may change as the pandemic continues to affect workers.

Be thoughtful about your hiring practices moving forward to avoid costly litigation from age discrimination.

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Business News

Missing office culture while working remotely? This tool tries to recreate it

(BUSINESS NEWS) This startup just released new software to help you reproduce the best parts of in-person office interactions while you work from home.

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Loop Team product page, trying to create an office culture experience remotely.

Are you over working from home? Feeling disconnected from your co-workers? Well look no further: The startup Loop Team just released a tool that reproduces the office culture experience virtually.

“We’ve looked at a lot of the interactions that happen when you’re physically in an office — the visual communication, the background conversations, the hallway chatter,” said Loop Team’s founder and CEO Raj Singh in an interview with TechCrunch. “[W]e built an experience that effectively is a virtual office. And so it tries to represent the best parts of what a physical office experience might be like, but in a virtual form.”

Singh’s company, founded pre-COVID, is posed as a solution to feeling “out of the loop” while working remotely. During the pandemic, where virtually all of us are working from home, this technology is needed more than ever.

How it works is by essentially recreating an office experience on a virtual platform. Somewhere between Zoom and Slack with some added features, Loop Team lets you know who’s free to chat, who’s in meetings, and allows you to have private discussions using audio, video, and screen share. It’s ideal for working on projects together.

Loop’s layout is unique in the sense that it is designed to show you conversations in a clear, direct way – exposing relevant items and hiding the rest. Also, employees who miss meetings have the ability to review what they missed, making it perfect for companies that hire across time zones.

The platform was made available December 1st free of charge, but Singh is hoping to introduce a paid version next year. Pricing will likely reflect team size and should remain free for teams of 10 or less.

I’m a big fan of software that allows you to feel closer and more connected to your co-workers. Do I think anything will ever compare to a true, in-person office experience? Definitely not. That being said, I value this kind of progress, especially since I don’t think office culture en mass will make a return any time soon, regardless of vaccinations.

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Business News

What’s DMT and why are techies and entrepreneurs secretly taking the drug?

(BUSINESS) The tech world and entrepreneur world are quietly taking a psychadellic in increasing numbers – they make a compelling case, but it’s not without risks.

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DMT

Move over tortured artists and festival-goers, psychedelics aren’t just for you anymore. An increasing number of professionals in Silicon Valley swear by “microdosing” psychedelic substances such as lysergic acid diethylamide(LSD) in efforts to heighten creativity and drive innovative efforts.

This probably isn’t a shock to anyone following trends in tech and startups, particularly the glorification of the 8-trillion hour workweek (#hustle). But business owners, entrepreneurs, and technologists are also turning to other hallucinogens to awaken higher levels of consciousness in hopes of influencing favorable business results.

Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is growing in popularity as business leaders and creatives flock to Peru or mastermind retreats to ingest the drug. It exists in the human body as well as other animals and plants. In his book DMT: The Spirit Molecule, Dr. Rick Strassman says “this ‘spirit’ molecule provides our consciousness access to the most amazing and unexpected visions, thoughts and feelings. It throws open the door to worlds beyond our imagination.”

The substance is commonly synthesized in a lab and smoked, with short-lived effects (between five to 45 minutes, however, some say it lasts for hours).

Traditionally, however, it is extracted from various Amazonian plant species and snuffed or consumed as a tea (called ayahuasca or yage). The effects of DMT when consumed in this manner can last as long as ten hours. Entrepreneurs are attracted to the “ayahuasca experience” for its touted ability to provide clarity, vision and inventiveness.

Physical effects are said to include an increase in blood pressure and a raised heart rate. Users report gastrointestinal effects when taken orally, commonly referred to as the “purge.” The purging can include vomiting or diarrhea, which makes for interesting conversation at the next company whiteboarding session.

Users are subject to dizziness, difficulty regulating body temperature, and muscular incoordination. Users also risk seizures, respiratory failure, or falling into a coma.

DMT can interfere with medications or foods, a reason why many indigenous tribes that work with it also follow specific dietary guidelines prior to ingestion. Not paying attention to diet or prescription medication prior to consuming ayahuasca or DMT can lead to the opposite of the intended effect, potentially even causing trauma or death.

So why the hell are people putting themselves through this ordeal?

Many claim profound mental effects, often experiencing a transformative occurrence that provides clarity and healing. Auditory and visual hallucinations are common, with reports of geometric shapes and sharp, bold colors. Many report intense out-of-body experiences, an altered sense of time and space or ego dissolution (“ego death”).

Studies have indicated long-term effects in people who use DMT. Some report a reduction in symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Subjects in an observational study showed significant reductions in stress after participating in an ayahuasca ceremony, with effects lasting through the 4-week follow-up period.

Subjects also showed improvements in convergent thinking that were still evident at the 4-week follow up. People who consume DMT generally chronicle improvements in their overall satisfaction of life, and claim they are more mindful and aware after the experience.

It’s important to note that dying from ayahuasca is rarely reported, but that doesn’t rule out the risk. It’s also illegal in the states, explaining why groups flock to Peru to visit licensed ayahuasca retreats or why technologists buy DMT on the dark web to avoid detection.

For those considering a DMT journey (and we don’t recommend it based on the illegal nature and health risks), it’s critical to gain a full understanding of the potential risks prior to consumption.

For more reading:

This story was first published here in June, 2019.

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