How to Create & Host a Webinar

webinar1As the Internet becomes more and more ubiquitous in the workplace, webinars – or what some refer to as “online seminars” – have become increasingly popular. Educators and marketers have embraced webinars as a forum for spreading their message; sponsors find their effectiveness and long shelf-life appealing; and attendees are learning to take advantage of their low cost and convenience.
 
If you haven’t introduced webinars into your marketing, customer service, or employee training efforts – whether you’re running a Fortune 500 company or a one-person operation – you may be missing out on a significant opportunity.

Understanding Webinars

Simply stated, a webinar is a multicast, interactive audio-video seminar over the web that offers the opportunity to give, receive, and discuss information. According to an ON24 survey, the average webinar in 2013 attracted 433 registrants. Almost one-half of sponsors participating (49%) in a 2013 poll by MarketingSherpa ranked webinars and webcasts as the most effective marketing tool they used, well above mobile apps (35%), blogs (27%), press releases (21%), and social media marketing (18%).
 
Webinars first appeared around 1994 and have become increasingly popular as costs of production have dropped and technology for communication with broad audiences has improved. More than 80% of the webinars in the ON24 study had in excess of 200 attendees, while 15.2% had more than 1,000 attendees.

It’s important to understand the distinction between webinars and other Internet-based forums, such as online meetings and podcasts:

Online Meetings

Also called web meetings, videoconferencing, teleconferencing, and virtual conferencing. In online meetings, a range of 2 to 30 participants are simultaneously involved in the discussion, which can be a corporate board meeting or project team discussion. Companies typically use online meetings for brainstorming, where participants familiar with a subject can provide input and discussion on the topic at hand.

Podcasts

Sometimes called webcasts, these are usually broadcast without interactivity. The word “podcast” is a combination of “broadcast” and Apple’s then-revolutionary “iPod,” which could play digital video and audio files. The availability of low-cost, high-quality cameras, as well as video and audio recording software, enables businesses of all sizes to advertise their products and services cost-effectively via this platform.

Benefits of a Webinar to Sponsor and Participants

Webinars allow sponsors to communicate a message to hundreds of participants in real-time. As a consequence, they are equally popular with educators and students, marketing professionals and potential customers, and business trainers and employees.
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Their advantages include the following:
 
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5 Steps to Better Problem Solving

problem-solving1Modern humans are the greatest problem solvers the world has ever seen. While our predecessors developed primitive tools to better live in their environments, humans are the first to develop the mental acuity necessary to transform their living space. As a consequence, we thrive around the world, altering hostile, barren desert lands and freezing climates into hospitable habitats with growing populations.
 
Of course, problem-solving abilities vary considerably from one individual to another – some of us excel in resolving overarching dilemmas, while others are more adept at making basic day-to-day decisions. Researchers at the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan believe that difficulty solving problems tends to stem from the following two issues:

Inaccuracy in Reading

Incorrect interpretation of a problem can stem from perceiving it without concentrating on its meaning. It can also result from reading unfamiliar words, overlooking important facts, and starting to address it prematurely. Simply stated, many people have difficulty framing a problem accurately at first and consequently develop inadequate or incorrect solutions.

Inaccuracy in Thinking

Ancients Greeks called the ability to properly reason “logic.” Today, we sometimes refer to this ability as “pragmatism”—a system of thinking to determine meaning, truth, or value. Poor decisions result from a lack of clarity so that irrelevant information is considered in the problem-solving process. We sometimes pursue solutions that do not meet our intended goals, or we fail to break complex problems into understandable parts when time constraints force us into premature decisions.
 
Each of us makes decisions every day that affect our happiness, careers, and satisfaction with life. By learning and practicing the skills of proven problem solvers—and following the necessary steps— you can boost your self-esteem, reduce interpersonal conflicts, and lessen overall stress.
 
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The Rise of the Robot Investment Advisers

online investingIn the past five years, a new type of financial advisor has emerged to compete with traditional investment advisory firms. Funded by venture capitalists, these new advisors exploit the latest technology to offer competent investment advice in exchange for drastically reduced fees.
 
Just as technology changed the full-service brokerage industry by lowering transaction costs and enabling online trading, it will also ultimately change the practice of investment advisors by automating portfolio management and investment advice. According to Grant Easterbrook, analyst at Corporate Insight, “These newcomers offer average Americans access to low-cost advice and investment solutions with fewer potential conflicts of interest and greater performance transparency.”

The Rise of the Virtual Advisors

Automated online portfolio management services – what many have dubbed “robo-advisors” or virtual advisors – have been available for the past decade. They offer convenient, transparent portfolio management for accounts both large and small through easy-to-use websites – and all for 20% to 30% of the cost of traditional advisory firms. According to Institutional Investor, Corporate Insights estimates that this group currently manages almost $17 billion in U.S. assets.
 
Robo-advisors generally share a common philosophy of money management:

Passive Investment Strategy

Based on the concepts of Nobel Prize-winning economists Eugene Fama (Efficient Market Hypothesis) and Harry Markowitz (Modern Portfolio Theory), robo-advisors do not attempt to “time the market” by projecting its direction up or down. Nor do they try to pick “winners” and “losers” of individual stocks. They invest in broad sectors of securities or market indexes—exchange-traded funds (ETFs)—to diversify risk and secure average stock market returns.

Algorithm-Based Advice

Robo-advisors rely on proprietary software to automatically create and maintain portfolios of index funds. These portfolios are designed to fit broad client investment goals, and are tailored to factors such as age, risk tolerance, expected retirement date, and so on. For example, the criteria to select a specific portfolio might be based upon a goal, such as retirement, to be achieved by a certain future date, with the ratio of equity to debt securities based solely on the time-frame between the investor’s current age and retirement age.

Extended Investment Term

According to Betterment, an analysis of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index between 1928 and 2014 indicates that the longer people stay invested, the less loss they risk and the greater their possibility of gain. For example, about a quarter of all one-year investment periods between 1928 and 2014 experienced losses in value, while less than a tenth of the 10-year investment periods resulted in a loss. Similarly, the median cumulative return was substantially greater for 10-year holding periods than one-year periods. In other words, the longer you stay fully invested in a broadly diversified portfolio, the greater your chances of gains.
 
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The Future of Automobiles & Car Technology

photo by Steve LagrecaIn a single century, the introduction of the automobile has spurred massive changes in American culture, the communities in which we live, the environment, the economy, and personal independence. Every aspect of daily life has changed, from the places we live, to the food that we eat.
 
Automobiles, increasingly available to anyone, have blurred social class distinctions, expanded markets, and stimulated the economy. The industry directly employs more than 2.6 million people and, according to Auto Alliance, accounts for 3% to 3.5% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).
 
The American love affair with cars is evident in the number owned. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there were more than 250 million registered vehicles in the United States in 2012, or one for every American over the age of 18. The average household owns 1.75 vehicles. Drivers traveled more than 2.8 billion miles over 4.5 million miles of roads and highways and 605,471 bridges in the nation that year.
 
Consumers can choose from a plethora of manufacturers of cars, all of which produce different makes, models, and body styles. The vehicles can then be further customized by color, engine type, transmission, interior design, and type of wheels. In addition, there are thousands of auto repair shops, high-performance mechanics, and body customizing shops ready to fulfill the dreams of any automobile owner.

The Negative Impact of Automobiles on Modern Life

For all of its contributions to modern life, the automobile has also wrought considerable negative consequences for individuals and society as a whole:

Expense

The purchase and ongoing operation of an automobile is one of the biggest expenditures that the typical person makes in a lifetime. Automobiles account for about one-sixth of a family’s budget, more than food or healthcare and insurance combined, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS reports that in 2010 the average passenger car in the U.S. was 11.4 years old and was driven 11,318 miles while burning $2,132 on gas and oil. Furthermore, drivers spent, on average, $787 for repairs and maintenance.

Deaths and Injuries

According to the United States Census Bureau, since 1990, more than 10 million accidents involving cars occur each year, causing more than 30,000 deaths per year. While the rate declines each year – reflecting improvements in design and new technology – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the cost of accidents in 2010 was $871 billion.

 
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