Financial Crisis Affects Timeshare Industry

The current global financial crisis has created a troubling situation for timeshare owners. As most sectors of the economy are feeling the squeeze, the nation’s timeshare industry is being pounded from both sides as banks cut back on lending and consumers cut back on spending.

As a result, at the same time as individuals have to deal with stagnating or falling incomes, deteriorating retirement funds, and a higher cost of living, timeshare resort companies that are feeling the pinch are passing their financial burdens on to the consumer.

Consumer Spending

Currently individuals, families and companies are severely cutting back on leisure and travel spending faster than was anticipated, reports Bloomberg.com. The October 23rd article notes “forecasts [show] that the deterioration in leisure and business travel is accelerating as corporations and consumers contend with higher food prices, declining home values, job losses and scarce credit.”

Lisa Ann Schreier, author and expert on the timeshare industry, says that people simply do not have the disposable income right now. “People are scared, “says Scheirer. “And with the credit crunch, it will be harder and harder for people to finance timeshares. I think the time-share industry for too long has thought itself recession-proof, and I don’t think so.”

The Frozen Credit Market

If the timeshare industry did at one time consider itself recession-proof then that is certainly no longer the case. The timeshare industry is strained not only because consumers are spending less but also due to the fact that this industry has largely relied on mortgage-backed securities.

David Siegel, Company President of Westgate Resorts, the largest privately held timeshare company in the world, attributes his company’s “financial squeeze” to the fact securities are no longer being bought.

In a September article in the Orlando Sentinel, Siegel explains that the timeshare companies “[keep] money flowing through lines of credit that are then paid off when [these companies] bundle and sell their mortgages as securities” says Siegel. “All of a sudden no one is buying those securities.”

Siegel’s Westgate Resorts employs more than 10,000 individuals nationwide and has had to recently shut down much of its sales and lay-off hundreds of workers.

Two other major players in the timeshare industry that are worth noting here, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. and Wyndham Worldwide, have seen profits and sales fall, with Starwood’s timeshare sales falling 11 percent in the third quarter. Starwood, the third largest US lodging company, has cut employees, shut sales centers and trimmed expenses at Starwood’s Sheraton and Westin hotels.

Wyndham Worldwide has laid off hundreds of employees, ranging from marketing directors, to managers, to financial analysts.

All of this has prompted the timeshare industry to ask the government to step in.

As reported in an October 29th Orlando Sentinel article entitled, “Time-share industry seeks relief,” American Resort Development Association (ARDA), a timeshare trade group, is asking the federal government to step in and guarantee time-share mortgages in exchange for an insurance fee.

Howard Nusbaum, CEO of ARDA, warned that the timeshare industry was “selling itself out of business.” “If our business model gets interrupted, that costs jobs,” said Nausbam.

“It’s not good… for timeshares if there’s not liquidity in the marketplace.”

Like any business these days, it’s hard for timeshare companies to get money. And now it’s becoming increasingly difficult for these companies to use their customers’ mortgages to raise cash.

In the recent past timeshare companies were able to leverage their current income to build more timeshare units in different locales in order to magnify profits. This strategy worked well in good economic times but unfortunately multiplies the draining effect when credit is scarce and when revenue decreases.

What this means for timeshare owners

With consumers spending less on travel and with the freezing of credit markets, lodging and timeshare companies, including Westgate, Starwood, and Wyndham, are turning to the one place where they can recoup some of their losses – timeshare owners.

It is understood that at any time and for any given reason timeshare resort companies can require timeshare owners to pay special assessments. It is also understood that maintenance fees are not capped and are subject to increase at the timeshare resorts’ discretion. Over the past few months there have been reports of timeshare owners receiving special assessment fees of $1,000 to $3,000.

Chad Newbold, President of VI Network, Inc., one of the nation’s largest facilitators of vacation properties, reports that the current economic conditions, the increase of fees for the 2009 use year, along with unprecedented special assessment billings and a diluted resale market, has created the perfect storm for the timeshare industry. This storm has caused a record number of owners simply wanting out which he predicts will undoubtedly result in yet another sharp increase in maintenance fees for the 2010 use year.

For many it had seemed safe to assume that the upfront cost to buy a timeshare – averaging over $19,000 in 2007 – plus annual maintenance fees would have been enough to finance the operation and management of any timeshare resort complex. But as more and more timeshare owners are hit with these special assessments this assumption has been turned on its head. Timeshare owners are feeling taken advantage of as they are having to pay even more “leisure and travel” expenses at a time when they can least afford to do so.

How much higher special assessments and other fees will rise is uncertain. But one thing that is certain is there is no time like the present to weigh the pros and cons of timeshare ownership and consider some options. There are viable solutions out there for anyone considering whether or not to keep their timeshare. One company, Timeshare Relief Inc., has been in the business of getting people out of their timeshare contracts since 2001 and they guarantee that their customers will never have to pay another timeshare fee. Other options available to timeshare owners, such as reselling a timeshare by listing it online or through a resales broker, require money upfront and provide no guarantee that the timeshare will sell. In tough economic times, a guarantee can go a long way.

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Exploring The Forex Trading System

Most people are familiar with the most basic form of Foreign Exchange Trading. They know that when you travel abroad, one of the first things you do after disembarking is to find the nearest place for currency exchange. Depending on the country you call home and the country you are visiting, currency exchange will leave you either richer or poorer based on the exchange rate.

Nowadays however, Foreign Exchange Trading, or Forex, has taken on another meaning. If you hear two people excitedly chatting about Forex in an elevator or coffee shop, they are most likely referring to a type of investment trading that is growing in both popularity and esteem.

How It Works

Basically, Forex trading is how investment traders speculate regarding the trends and fluctuations in currencies. If a trader is able to stay on top of trends and accurately predict the disparities between pairs of currency values, they can make considerable profits through Forex trading.

For instance, the USD (US Dollar) and EUR (Euro) is a very commonly traded currency pair. If you had reason to believe that the USD will drop in value compared to the EUR then you would “go long” and purchase EUR/USD. If, on the other hand, you predict that the USD will rise in value, then your reaction would be to “go short”. Of course, this is just a very basic example of the principles of Forex; experienced traders keep track of many different currency pairs simultaneously using Forex Trading Systems.

All foreign exchange trading is done through a Forex broker. These brokers handle the trades and place them on the open market by networking with banks. Because of the fluctuating nature of currency exchange, Forex is a very dynamic form of investment trading. Also, unlike the international stock market, Forex is open throughout the day. The primary reason people engage in Forex is, of course, to make a profit. However, many are motivated to stick with it because of its thrilling nature.

Best Strategies for Up-and-Coming Traders

Although many people are able to supplement their incomes through Forex, it is by no means a quick and easy way to get rich. Using the Forex Trading System correctly takes time, experience, and patience. Those who are new to a Forex Trading System will need to spend time getting familiar with the jargon and tuning into ever-changing currency trends. Some general tips for newcomers to the Forex scene include:

Select a Forex Trading System that accommodates and adapts to the dynamic nature of the market. If you are using a software package to manage your trades, you will be best served by a program that keeps pace with the lightning fast changes that occur in currency trading. There is also a lot to be said for software that has a clear, easily understood format so you aren’t struggling to keep track of what’s happening in the market.

When you first dip your toes into the world of Forex, a good rule of thumb is “less is more”. This means that you should start small with your trading and build up slowly from there based on your successes. For instance, focus your initial efforts on a single currency pair and use that experience to inform future trades. Along those same lines, don’t use the maximum amount of leverage when you are new to Forex; that’s a sure-fire way to rapidly accumulate losses. Instead, begin with small leverage ratios and gradually increase as you become more experienced.

If you really want to stay on top of trades and trends, you will need to use a Forex Trading System that will send you messages regularly. This will allow you to immediately take advantage of trends and reap the financial benefits.

Most Forex brokers allow you to use a trading demo to get some practice before actually investing any money. Take advantage of these demos as they can give you a feel for currency trading in a risk-free environment.

Foreign Exchange Trading can be difficult to master, but with a level head, an effective Forex Trading System, and patience, you will be rewarded for your efforts.

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Apple Hotline – Case ID Vs CS Code

Many times, when we have technical problems, we call Apple Hotline for support to determine if it is a hardware or software issue. If it is a software issue the Hotline will provide support. If it is a hardware failure the Hotline will ask you to bring the hardware for a warranty exchange at one of the Apple Authorised Service Centres.

Everything we make a call to Apple Hotline, a Case ID will be issued to us. A Case ID is a reference number that refer to your report with the Hotline. That is it. It’ss a reference number for your reported case.

When a user is told by the Hotline he has a hardware failure, the user happily bring down the faulty device to the service centre and expect a replacement. Sad to tell all Apple owners, calling Apple Hotline and given a Case ID do not entitle you to any free or warranty hardware replacement at any centre.

The Service Centre’s decision supersede the Hotline and the Case ID is just a reference number for your case. It only proves that you have logged a call to the hotline, not an agreement to carry out the repair. The authorised centre is bounded by the laws of Apple warranty, for which anything not of electronic failure is not covered under warranty. The only thing that can overwrite the authorised centre’s decision is a CS Code.

CS Code is Customer Service Code issue by the Customer Relations Officer. This CS Code will only be given if the Customer Relations Officer is satisfied that the issue is not under mishandling or the repair is given under good will. The CS code can then supersede Service Centre decision and even a free replacement for out-of-warranty hardware.

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Sell Junkyard Auto Parts and Make Money From Home

A lot of people make some serious money from home selling junkyard auto parts. My husband’s been doing this for a while now and just loves it! I’m still amazed at how untapped this market is. Maybe because when you sell junkyard auto parts you’re not sitting at a computer all the time?

But working from home doesn’t always mean making money online or just from your computer, especially if you’re doing any type of arbitrage deals.

And there are thousands of people looking for cheap auto parts online. Why not get in the game and be one of their salvage auto parts suppliers?

This is business that you really don’t have be a mechanic or detail specialist to make some real money, especially if you’re just dealing with interior or exterior restoration parts or basic engine parts.

For example, a head rest is a head rest. Unscrew some parts and pull it out. Door panels are door panels. Unbolt them from the hinges and take it off. Engine components may be a bit trickier but you can always go on YouTube and find out what the parts are, what they do and even how to remove them.

But even in this type of a business, you may want to specialize in a niche. What do I mean by a niche when it comes to used auto body parts? Pretty easy. Here are some ways to drill down a niche just by specializing…

  1. … in a particular make and model of vehicle
  2. … in sports cars
  3. … in truck parts
  4. … in engine parts
  5. … in exterior body parts
  6. … in interior restoration parts

Just think about all of the parts that go into building a vehicle, whether it’s a truck or car. Some parts are even interchangeable between makes and models. For example, I needed a new front fender for my 2001 Mercury Villager. Did you know that the 2001 Nissan Quest has an identical body to the same year Mercury Villager?

They do! So my husband took the parts off of a junked Quest and replaced the fender and front light assembly on my Villager.

The cup holder assembly in my Villager cracked too. But instead of replacing that unit, he found a narrow console with built-in cup holders from a Dodge SUV that fit perfectly between the front bucket seats of our Villager. Same color and texture as the interior of our car; that console looks like it came with our van!

So now we have three “new” cup holders in the front, and two additional cup holders for the rear seat, from one $10 used Dodge console.

You will have to do some research on eBay before going out and spending money. You can’t just go out and buy any junkyard auto parts and expect them to sell. There are some steps involved to making this a profitable at-home business.

  1. First, get a price list from your local salvage yard. Look for the least expensive parts on the list.
  2. Look up the parts on eBay and filter by Sold listings. Take an average of what those parts are selling for and see what your profit margin is. For example, if it’s going to cost you $10 to buy the part and it’s selling on average of $85 or more, and there are a lot of them being sold, you’ve got a winner.
  3. Take into consideration how much time and effort you want to put into pulling the parts off the vehicles. Some parts are pretty easy and you’ll only need a couple of screw drivers on hand. Other parts can be rather tricky, depending on whether you’re dealing with interior, exterior or under-the-hood parts.
  4. Another thing to think about is the weather! Here on the east coast it gets really blustery during the winter. And in the spring, it can get pretty muddy out in the yard. So you need to make sure you’re dressing for the weather – be prepared for anything.
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Speaking Well – Four Steps To Improve Your ESL EFL Students Speaking Ability

Mastery of English as a second or foreign language (ESL or EFL) comes down to how well a student speaks. He may write well, for example, get high marks on tests, or even have an accent nearly identical to a native speaker; but if he can’t express ideas, opinions, or instructions clearly in a conversation, few would call him proficient. Language is for communication after all, and that primarily means speaking.

As teachers, we continually assess the strengths and weaknesses of our classes. We then take this information and develop effective lessons, always working towards greater communicative ability which maintains a balance between fluency (getting the words out) and accuracy (using grammar and vocabulary correctly). What follows are four steps which serve as a model in planning lessons that give students ample practice time with the language. These steps also work towards free use of the language. Before the four steps, conversational ability should be defined, though.

Conversation involves the following: using the language, listening to the language, processing the information, and then responding to it. The purpose of the conversation affects the process, as does the place and the people involved. Compare English spoken to open a business meeting with English used to order at a restaurant. This language then differs from what may be needed during the business meeting, or to complain about the quality of the food.

From these examples, we can infer that a good speaker uses grammar and vocabulary effectively and accurately. We should also consider the context of the grammar and vocabulary, and how it can add nuance. For example, when, why, and to whom would a speaker describe business meetings in the following manner?:

Example A: “Even though our weekly meeting with those R&D people can be boring, I know how important it is. Let’s face it: it’s a necessary evil.”

Example B: “Ugh! Our weekly meeting with those R&D people drives me up the wall!”

Someone who speaks well would similarly understand when to use different grammar points. Native speakers “just know” the language, even if we can’t always give the whys and what fors of grammar or vocabulary. Lessons which involve speaking activities should always strive to build and reinforce these skills. In time, decisions in language usage like the above become more regular, or even subconscious.

Preparation: Allow the students to prepare for the tasks ahead with an effective warm-up. This gives everyone in the class ample opportunity to get their English wheels turning. Adequate time translates into fewer mistakes while you’re presenting and drilling the target language, so comprehension and use of the new language increases.

Present: Next present the topic for discussion, target grammar, or any vocabulary selected for the lesson. The warm up can serve as a springboard into the topic. For example, write on the board any synonyms of today’s key words used by the students, and then introduce the target vocab. Or if you focus on grammar, write several sentences from the warm up that will highlight the target structure. In both cases, information from the warm up gets recycled, thus providing a more efficient use of class time. The grammar or vocabulary becomes more memorable, too, because of the link to the initial conversations.

Practice: After the presentation, ESL / EFL students need to practice the new material. It’s unfair to expect them to make use of the new language without adequate practice. Drills work to achieve automatically, even at higher ability levels. Tightly controlled drills with new grammar points or vocabulary lay the foundation and provide examples. Activities should then move into freer and freer use of the language, which will allow each student to integrate the lesson material with pre-existing language.

Free Use: You should always work towards real use of the language. Whereas the first part of the lesson focuses on accurate production of the language, it’s done to then allow better practice of fluency (getting the words out). Activities at the end of the lesson allow students to select vocabulary and grammar structures, and to tie the day’s material with previously studied language. These activities also let upper-level learners apply strategies, use gestures and body language, and adjust their language for the intended audience or listener.

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Natural Asthma Relief – Apple Cider Vinegar

A natural asthma relief comes in the form of apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar, known as the “wonder medicine”, has been used since ancient times to cure ailments. It has been used to aid and promote a variety of number of health benefits, including promoting longevity! And if you are suffering from asthma, regular intake of it will help you feel much better.

Just take a spoonful of it every day, and you will reap all the health benefits that comes with it. If you do not like the taste, you can put the spoon right to the back of your mouth, beyond your taste buds, and just swallow it quickly. Otherwise, you can mix it with a glass of water and some lemon to hide the taste. Usually, after a few days, you will get used to the taste and may even begin to enjoy the acquired taste.

Another way that you can take it is by heating it slightly and take it with some honey. Make sure that you heat it over the stove, and not in the microwave, as this will change the molecular structure of it and cause it to lose its efficacy. Do not over heat it, just heat it slightly with some honey to make it more pleasant for you. This will soothe your throat and bronchial, and ward off the irritation of the throat that cause those nasty coughs that accompany asthma.

By taking this regularly, you will find your health improving drastically. Whenever you feel an asthma attack coming on, take one tablespoon mixed in water and sip it slowly. You will find that the wheezing will lessen considerably. If it does not stop, take another spoonful with another glass of water, and breathe deeply. Apple cider vinegar contains a potent supply of potassium which can help relief symptoms like running nose, sinus, excessive mucus formation and watery eyes. You will find that it will clear your breathing passage.

However, natural asthma relief remedies can only do so much for you, if you do not get rid of the cause of the asthma itself. If it is work related asthma due to stress, you may need to find alternative jobs in the long term. So many people are suffering from asthma that it is becoming a rather alarming disease to society. We need to take preemptive measures to put a stop to this.

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Cool Shades And Blinds For Your Home Sweet Home – A Beginners Guide

So, you are in the market for new window treatments, the catch-all phrase for almost any kind window shade or blind. Or, maybe you’re in the market for new window coverings, which implies the latter plus drapes and curtains. Still confused? Stay with me. This article is intended to give you a basic primer on the words and qualities of the major choices available to consumers these days within the window blinds and shades consumer market.

The good news for those in the market for new window shades, blinds or curtains is that there is a plethora of choices these days. You can fulfill just about any decorating desire you have. The bad news is there is a plethora of choices, enough to give you a headache and send you running for an over-priced decorator.

The wrong shades or blinds can make a room look terrible, or at best terribly average. The right ones will compliment your décor and really make a room look beautiful. There are other considerations though, there’s price, energy efficiency, opacity (see-though), even durability. It is my belief that once armed with a little information you can skip the costly decorator and choose the right window blinds or shades that will work within your budget as well as compliment your room or home.

First things first, here are the major types of window blinds: mini blinds, vertical blinds, panel track blinds (also called sliding window panels), shutters (also called plantation shutters), wood blinds and faux wood blinds. And, here are the major types of window shades: cellular or honeycomb shades, woven wood or bamboo shades, roman shades, roller shades, solar shades and pleated shades. Basically anything with a slat or louver (shutters) is considered a blind, whereas, window shades have a continuous length of fabric or other material and can be rolled up. Lastly there are drapes, also called drapery panels or curtains, no further explanation is required.

On the lower end of the price spectrum there are mini blinds and vertical blinds. These are the ubiquitous choice for millions of homes across the world. They work well, look decent and are relatively affordable, especially if you buy vinyl. For more durability consider aluminum mini blinds. If you are interested in vertical blinds and want more insulation, consider cellular vertical blinds.

Continuing on the point about insulation, cellular shades, also called honeycomb shades are designed to act as an insulator for windows. Their honeycomb fabric structure creates air pockets like many other types of insulation. Cellular shades come with single, double or triple cells, depending on how much insulation you want. The price obviously increases with more cells but it is worth looking into because the long-term cost savings are significant.

Pleated shades look almost identical to cellular shades but simply lack the honeycomb structure and therefore most of the insulating properties. They are therefore less expensive then cellular.

Wood blinds are similar to mini blinds with three main differences: they generally have larger slat sizes and are made from wood, usually basswood, as opposed to aluminum or vinyl and, they are more generally more expensive then regular mini blinds

Faux wood blinds are made from either PVC plastic or are a wood composite. They look almost identical to regular wood blinds but are less expensive and will not warp, crack or fade an important detail for hot and humid areas like kitchens and bathrooms.

Plantation shutters come in both wood and faux wood and have louvers, as opposed to smaller slats. These are the classic shutters you see in the old homes of the south, thus the name, plantation. They tend to be on the high-end of the price spectrum but could very well be one of the nicest types of window treatments. They can actually add more value to your home.

Woven wood shades and bamboo shades are a type of roller shade generally made from natural materials like bamboo, grasses, wood or weaves. Roman shades are similar to woven wood shades but come in fabrics like denim or silk and can either roll-up or fold-up via pleats. Both options are in the mid-price range depending on materials and options.

Roller shades are usually fabric and come in different levels of opacity from sheer to blackout. They are simple to use and generally affordable. Solar shades, also known as solar screens are kind of like window tinting for home windows, except that they roll-up. They’re great for windows with views. They filter light in greater or lesser degrees while still allowing see-through. They block harmful UV rays as well as heat gain.

Sheer shades are kind of a hybrid between a shade and a blind. They come in horizontal and vertical configurations. They can roll-up like a shade of you can close the blind portion just like you would on a mini blind or vertical blind. They feature two sheer fabric facings over soft fabric vanes – imagine the functionality of a blind within a roller shade. Sheer shades offer a lot of versatility and are in the mid-to-high price range of roller shades.

Lastly there are panel track blinds. They are much like vertical blinds only with larger panels or vanes which are usually fabric, woven wood or a solar screen material. They operate on a wheeled track system. The panels range in width from approximately 48″ to 192″ and in lengths to fit most windows and sliding doors. Panel track blinds can also act as a cool room divider. Panel tracks are more expensive the regular vertical blinds but certainly are more unique

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Three Types of Graphic Design

1. Visual identity

The relationship of a business/organization to its audience is known as branding. Brand identity is the way an organization conveys its personality, essence and tone, plus its emotions, experiences and memories. Similarly, visual identity graphic design is the brand identity’s visual elements that function as the face of a brand – so it can convey such intangible qualities by means of images, colors and shapes.

Visual identity graphic designers work together with brand stakeholders to design logos, color palettes, typography and image libraries that represent the personality of the brand. Aside from creating regular business cards and company stationary, designers usually come up with visual brand guidelines (style guides) that provide the best practices and examples of visual branding used across different media. These guidelines help ensure the consistency of the brand all through future applications.

2. Marketing and advertising

Graphic design to majority of people represents the designs made for marketing and advertising. Businesses rely on best marketing efforts to influence the decision-making process of their target audience. Effective marketing allows people to engage based on their needs, wants, awareness and satisfaction of a product, service or brand. Since visual content is more engaging to people, graphic design helps businesses/organizations communicate and promote themselves in a more effective way.

Marketing designers work together with business owners, managers, directors and marketing professionals to come up with assets for marketing strategies. Some work as freelancers while others work as part of an in-house team or creative group. Other designers specialize in a particular type of media like magazine ads and vehicle wraps or create a wide variety of collateral used for print and digital. They used to be focused on print but their role has developed to add more digital assets to be used particularly for content marketing.

3. User interface

User interface or UI is the way users interact with a device or an app. UI design is the process of designing interfaces to make them simple to use and give great user-friendly experience.

A UI comes with everything a user interacts with – like keyboard, mouse and screen. However, in terms of graphic design, UI design’s focus is on a user’s visual experience and the design of graphic elements, such as buttons, menus and micro-interactions, among others. It is the job of a UI designer to create a balance between aesthetics and technical functionality.

UI designers work on mobile apps, desktop apps, web pages and games. They work hand in hand with user experience (UX) designers, designers (who know how the app works), as well as UI developers – who write the code so it could work.

4. Publication

Publications that come in long-form pieces communicate with viewers by means of public distribution. They used to be in print medium like books, magazines, newspapers and catalogs, but there has been a significant increase in digital publishing in the last decades.

Graphic designers who specialize in publications coordinate with publishers and editors to make layouts that have carefully chosen typography and accompanying artwork, such as graphics, illustrations and photography. Publication designers may either work as a freelancer, creative agency member or part of a publishing company.

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Evaluate Team Performance and Determine Training Needs

Many organizations struggle with how to tell if their teams are effective. Others who are just starting teams or have had working teams for some time wonder what type of new or follow-up training they should provide to the teams in order ensure effectiveness. Both needs can be met by developing a method of evaluating the teams.

Each team should participate separately in the evaluation process and it would be best if the individual member’s participation is anonymous so members do not feel pressured to rank everything as going well. Anonymity will aid honesty in the process. A process without honesty will not yield valuable information nor help lead to the desired results.

The easiest and quickest method for individual evaluations is a form-based survey. A standard form will provide a way to continually monitor the team needs on a quarterly basis. A good standard evaluation will also make it easier to compare teams since all teams will be measured in the same way for training purposes. A good team evaluation form will ask questions about team roles, meetings, and group performance with numbered rankings to determine training needs. An example ranking could be 1 for team always does this, 2 for often does, 3 for sometimes, 4 for occasionally does, and 5 for never does this. For individual team growth, the evaluation form may also include space for questions specific to the type of team, such as project completion issues or work team attitudes and behavior.

Asking questions about the team and assigning ranks will help to determine if additional training is needed. If the example ranks above are used, then where the team ranks a question at a very high number, this would indicate a need for immediate training in this area. If the rankings are very low numbers, then additional training may not be needed or can wait until the team decides it is needed. For a middle ranking, the team does need some training, but the need is not as immediate unless the ranking changes.

What type of training is necessary based on evaluation rankings? If the ranks were associated with roles, training to offer can include soft skills like leadership, methods for encouraging participation, conflict resolution, time management, team stages and roles, communication, giving and receiving performance feedback., interpersonal skills, personality differences, diversity, or education on empowerment with authority and accountability. Technical skills that may be required for specific members doing certain roles include taking minutes or writing progress reports, computer applications, organization, quality and statistics. For meetings, the higher rank should indicate the team needs training in holding effective meetings, decision-making, or techniques for idea generation and problem solving.

Questions related to group performance could indicate a need for a facilitated process to aid in developing group purpose or mission statement and goal-setting. Or training in time management, project planning/management and possibly detailed instruction on procedures, process flow analysis, or policy may be required. If specific team category questions were added, the resulting numbers for those questions will determine the specialized training necessary. For example an Information Technology project team may need project management training or some members may need training on a specific computer language or application. Whereas a team of change agents or a problem solving team may need change management, customer service, domain analysis, or problem solving techniques.

After the training has been taken by the team members and after a few months have passed. Re-evaluate the team to determine if the training is being effectively used or if a refresher is needed. Keeping team performance evaluated and the members trained are keys to successfulness and effectiveness of teams in an organization.

NOTE: A free group evaluation form for use by teams is available for download from http://www.shirleyfinelee.com/FreeForms.htm.

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Yoga and Gratitude

Gratitude is something we often forget about on a day to day basis. Sure, we try to maintain it, appreciating that we have things that we want, like good jobs, and grateful that we don’t have things that we don’t want, like bird flu. But, no matter how hard we try to have it, in every day life it’s easy to lose; gratitude often falls through the cracks like the ease of car keys becoming lost in the cushions of a couch.

Gratitude is a virtue or law that manifests gratefulness, appreciation, and thankfulness. It is thought of as the first law of attraction, the springboard from which a pathway towards moment to moment self awareness gains momentum. It is what allows us, as human beings, to grow.

When it comes to yoga, some may assume that gratitude means tipping your instructor at the end of class. However, gratitude and yoga actually go hand in hand, with each affecting the other. This actually makes a lot of sense, considering both gratitude and yoga are strong advocates of self awareness and mindfulness – they on are the same team, coaching each of us on how to ease into the flow of life, rather than bumping up against life and losing sight of what we are thankful for.

Yoga promotes a person’s emotional and physical well being. And, as studies have shown, so does gratitude. It’s as if both are vitamins for the soul. Yoga and gratitude both improve a person’s ability to handle stress (which directly impacts physical health) and improve the way a person interacts with others. Both also rid the body of negative emotions, replacing them with positive ones. When this happens, good health generates itself.

Many people likely find gratitude in exercise at the end of a workout, grateful that their arduous routine is over and they feel refreshed. But, yoga isn’t merely about working out, and it’s not just about exercise.

Yoga and gratitude are on the same wave length, as if cast from the shell of positive thinking. Gratitude, because it’s a way of looking at things, and yoga, because it teaches people to embrace the present moment, are naturally able to enhance each other. Gratitude is a way of deeply appreciating the full spectrum of life – the good and the bad, the joy and the suffering. Yoga provides a mindful practice to invite one to respond to the full spectrum of life from the highest place with in oneself. Gratitude teaches people to gain peace of mind. So does yoga. Because both gratitude and yoga feed off of each other, practicing the two together will enhance the benefits of each one. Yoga is a practice that opens the gateway into the wellspring of gratitude that resides within you.

But gratitude isn’t limited to yoga, of course. Being grateful in all aspects of life is essential to a person’s well being. Appreciating your family, your friends, your job, and anything else conducive to happiness facilitates your physical and emotional health.

But, just like other things that are important to health – exercising, eating right, getting adequate sleep – the concept of gratitude can be one that is hard to make adhere. Like mentioned before, gratitude can be easy to lose in the couch cushions of life. But, there are a few tricks of the trade aimed at helping gratitude flourish.

Setting aside a few moments a day, perhaps five or ten minutes, to just reflect on what it is you appreciate today can be helpful. Another thing that can be helpful is getting a small notebook and writing down three or five small things that you are grateful for, like the sunshine, the time to reflect, clean clothes, and a warm cup of tea. Writing is a great tool for self reflection, writing down thoughts of what are you thankful for helps you cultivate gratitude. So much of our health and overall well being is determined by the way we think, programming our brains will program our lives.

Many of us still remember, as children, roaming the halls of our elementary school and walking underneath a sign that read, “Attitude is Everything.” Rolling our eyes at it in childhood angst, we probably didn’t buy this concept. But, as adults, we’ve come to realize that it turns out to be true. Remember, “For Everything, Give Thanks.”

TWISTED is a medical yoga studio at the Center for Osteopathic Medicine in Boulder, Colorado. Twisted integrates osteopathic medicine, hatha yoga and mindfulness practices to teach optimal balance between physical, mental, and emotional health. It aims to educate and help people to live a healthy life from the inside out. Rehabilitation programs offer a comprehensive treatment regime for the whole being, empowering each person one breath at a time to stimulate the body’s natural healing potential.

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