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In this free information age, how can you get paid to be a speaker?

(Business News) Being a speaker on any topic can be tough in an age where all information is free – but is it really? Perhaps now with information overload, the timing is perfect.

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Speakers and knowledge workers in the new era

For many years, the primary bottleneck of business was information access. If I just knew more things I would make better decisions and those decisions would make me lots of money! Who would claim that today? No one. We are no longer living in the information economy. Information flooded the market much like the way baseball cards did in the early ‘90’s, completely removing the value of my extensive collection in the process. So what does this mean for us?

Nobel Prize Winning Economist Herbert Simon wrote in 1978, “A Wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”

Today, attention is the scarcest resource in the market: for your customers, your employees, your family, and for you. And like all scarce resources, we pay for it. We will pay for people to pay attention to the work we can’t get to (consultants). We pay for people to pay attention to us (counselors). Attention is a precious resource.

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I spend the vast majority of my time on the road speaking to companies and organizations. You want to know the dirty little secret? I say nothing that they can’t find elsewhere. It’s not just me. No one is speaking about anything that can’t be found somewhere online…for free. And yet, my job has never been more safe. That’s because I’m not being paid for information. Don’t get me wrong, people think that they are paying for information, but they are wrong. And people who think their information is what will get them paid will end up back in their parents’ house like the rest of my generation.

Want to get paid? If you are a knowledge worker, you will succeed or fail based on two simple principles:

1. How effectively did you filter the information?

The information your company needs is available. It’s free. And it will take a lot of time, money, and attention to find it. It’s like trying to find a seahorse when scuba diving. I’ve been scuba diving more than fifty times. I’ve never seen a seahorse. They are small, they are camouflaged, and those bastards hide well.

The internet has given us access to more ideas, concepts, facts (and lies), anecdotes, and funny cat memes.

Enter you: the successful knowledge worker. For a small fee, you can give them the 3 things that they can do today to improve their bottom line. Not only is this information particularly insightful, but you’ve distilled it into three easy-to- remember principles. The 3 F’s you call them.

Will they pay for that? They should, and sometimes they will. But they might not. And that leads us to your second key success determiner.

2. How well did you present the information?

Richard Lanham, a Professor of Rhetoric at UCLA, once asked how black and white text would ever hold the attention of a generation brought up by dancing and singing letters from Sesame Street.

I can speak as one of those kids. Sesame Street was the least entertaining TV show of my life. If only Sesame Street was the problem. You could be the most boring presenter of information in history and still have a shot.

But it’s not. And you don’t. The second reason companies will pay for a speaker is because that speaker can capture the attention of an ADD filled audience to ensure that information actually does something. If you want to be a successful knowledge worker, you have to learn to present your information well. Is your information structured well? Is it emotionally engaging? Do your non-verbals reveal excitement about the topic? Would you want to listen to you?

It’s that simple

Filter well. Present well. Then stop talking. And get paid.

Curt Steinhorst loves attention. More specifically, he loves understanding attention. How it works. Why it matters. How to get it. As someone who personally deals with ADD, he overcame the unique distractions that today’s technology creates to start a Communications Consultancy, The Promentum Group, and Speakers Bureau, Promentum Speakers, both of which he runs today. Curt’s expertise and communication style has led to more than 75 speaking engagements in the last year to organizations such as GM, Raytheon, Naval Academy, Cadillac, and World Presidents’ Organization.

Business News

Bose is closing their retail stores, but we haven’t heard the last of them

(BUSINESS NEWS) Over the last 30 years Bose has become so well understood by consumers that they don’t even need retail stores anymore. We hear them just fine.

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Over the next few months, Bose plans to close all of their retail stores in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia. The company made the announcement last week. With 119 stores closing, presumably hundreds of Bose employees will be laid off, but the company has not revealed exact numbers.

However, this shouldn’t be taken as a sign that the maker of audio equipment is struggling to stay afloat. Rather, the move marks a major change in how consumers purchase tech gear.

When the Framingham, Massachusetts-based company opened its first U.S. retail store in 1993, it was making home entertainment systems for watching DVDs and listening to CDs. According to Colette Burke, Bose’s vice president of global sales, these first brick-and-mortar locations “gave people a way to experience, test, and talk to us” about Bose products. “At the time, it was a radical idea,” she says, “but we focused on what our customers needed and where they needed it – and we’re doing the same thing now.”

When a lot of this equipment was new, consumers may have had more questions and a need to see the products in action before purchasing. Nowadays, we all know what noise-canceling headphones are; we all know what a Bluetooth speaker is. We’re happy to read about the details online before adding products to our virtual shopping cart. The ability for Bose to close its retail stores is probably also an indicator that Bose has earned strong brand recognition and a reputation as a reliable maker of audio equipment.

In other words, consumers are less and less inclined to need to check out equipment in person before they buy it. For those who do, Bose products can still be purchased at stores like Best Buy, Target, and Apple. But overall, Bose can’t ignore the fact that their products “are increasingly purchased through e-commerce,” such as on Amazon or directly from their website.

In a statement, Bose also said that it has become a “larger multi-national company, with a localized mix of channels tailored for the country or region.” While Bose is shutting down its retail stores in several continents, it will continue to operate stores in China, the United Arab Emirates, India, Southeast Asia, and South Korea.

Burke said the decision to close so many retail stores was “difficult” because it “impacts some of our amazing store teams who make us proud every day.” Bose is offering “outplacement assistance and severance to employees that are being laid off.”

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Business News

Finally the American workforce is now mostly women!

(BUSINESS NEWS) Women officially make up more than half the workforce, but that doesn’t mean total equality. So what does this tipping of the scale mean?

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Equality for women has finally been achieved: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women now make up more than half of the workforce! That’s it, that’s the article.

Kidding. Just because women are currently in the majority doesn’t mean all their problems are solved.

First, it’s worth noting that although women currently make up more than half of employees on payroll, that number is slight (50.04% to be exact). Not to mention, women are very likely to fall back in the minority once construction – a male dominated profession – picks back up in the spring.

Still, the number of women in the workforce has been growing over the last decade. While jobs in manufacturing – another male dominated field – are dwindling, jobs in education and healthcare are growing. When it comes to K-12 teaching, for example, women are more likely to fill teaching roles. Women also dominate in nursing.

Not to mention, women are earning more degrees than men!

That said, despite this progress, women as a whole are still getting paid less than men. Part of the reason lies in the types of careers that women end up in. Those female-dominated fields we mentioned earlier? They don’t typically pay well. Plus, there’s that pesky glass ceiling that still exists in some fields. Remember, there are more CEOs named John than female CEOs.

It’s also worth noting that the information collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics only covered people on a payroll. That means the growing number of freelancers aren’t being accounted for in the report. Freelancing has become a great way for individuals, often women, to stay home and care for their family while also earning money. It would be interesting to know how freelancers shift the balance, both in employment and income.

Finally, there’s the invisible labor that women often contribute to society. According to the UN, women account for 75% of all unpaid labor – which includes things like childcare, meal prep and cleaning. This is vital labor that is not accounted for by studies like that of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and sheds light into another reason why women might still have lower pay than men, on average.

So, yes, the fact that women make up over half the workforce is something to be celebrated! That said, we’ve still got work to do on the equality front.

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Business News

Interview escape plan 101: Because you definitely need one

(BUSINESS NEWS) A job interview should be a place to ask about qualifications but it seems more people are asked about their personal life. How do you escape this problem?

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“So, why did you move from Utah to Austin?” the interviewer asked over the phone.

The question felt a little out of place in the job interview, but I gave my standard answer about wanting a fresh scene. I’d just graduated college and was looking to break into the Austin market. But the interviewer wasn’t done.

“But why Austin?” he insisted, “There can’t be that many Mormons here.”

My stomach curled. This was a job interview – I’d expected to discuss my qualifications for the position and express my interest in the company. Instead, I began to answer more and more invasive questions about my personal life and religion. The whole ordeal left me very uncomfortable, but because I was young and desperate, I put up with it. In fact, I even went back for a second interview!

At the time, I thought I had to put up with that sort of treatment. Only recently have I realized that the interview was extremely unprofessional and it wasn’t something I should have felt obligated to endure.

And I’m not the only one with a bad interview story. Recently, Slate ran an article sharing others’ terrible experiences, which ranged from having their purse inspected to being trapped in a 45 minute presentation! No doubt, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to mistreatment by potential employers.

So, why do we put up with it?

Well, sometimes people just don’t know better. Maybe, like I was, they’re young or inexperienced. In these cases, these sorts of situations seem like they could just be the norm. There’s also the obvious power dynamic: you might need a job, but the potential employers probably don’t need you.

While there might be times you have to grit your teeth and bear it, it’s also worth remembering that a bad interview scenario often means bad working conditions later on down the line. After all, if your employers don’t respect you during the interview stage, it’s likely the disrespect will continue when you’re hired.

Once you’ve identified an interview is bad news, though, how do you walk out? Politely. As tempting as it is to make a scene, you probably don’t want to go burning bridges. Instead, excuse yourself by thanking your interviewers, wishing them well and asserting that you have realized the business wouldn’t be a good fit.

Your time, as well as your comfort, are important! If your gut is telling you something is wrong, it probably is. It isn’t easy, but if a job interview is crossing the line, you’re well within your rights to leave. Better to cut your losses early.

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