How to Climb the Corporate Ladder

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It’s good to be the boss. People in charge of an organization not only make more money, but they also have happier family lives, are more satisfied with their work, and worry less about their financial futures, according to a 2014 Pew Research report. Those in the top levels consider their employment a “career,” not just a job that pays the bills.

So what can you do to get a promotion to those top levels? There are a number of steps you can take to improve your chances of advancing your career, whether with your existing employer or a new one. Your long-term success depends on having as many options as possible and being prepared when an opportunity arises.

11 Ways to Advance in Your Career

Getting to the top of the corporate food chain becomes increasingly more difficult in the higher tiers of management. In many organizations, average performers in the lower ranks can expect some promotions by merely being competent and building tenure. Attaining more senior positions or advancing at a faster rate, however, requires the following strategies, at the very least.

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Fake News

8 Ways to Determine If a News Story Is Reliable

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Fake News

During a 2017 interview on the Christian Trinity Broadcasting Network, President Donald Trump claimed his use of the word “fake” to describe the media was “one of the greatest of all terms [he’d] come up with.”

While he was mistaken about his creation of the phrase “fake news,” Trump’s frequent use of the epithet to describe news media has no doubt popularized the label — and may have even led to the phrase’s inclusion in the database.

It may seem at times like fake news is an epidemic unique to our current political climate, but it’s actually been around for centuries. Let’s take a closer look at what it is, how it spreads, and what you can do to detect it.

What Is Fake News?

As its name suggests, fake news is false or counterfeit information reported in a newspaper, news periodical, or newscast.

Fake news differs from satire, farce, or hyperbole in that it’s a deliberate attempt to spread misinformation and manipulate public opinion for political, financial, or social gain. Inaccurate content is packaged to appear as fact, thus duping the audience into believing it’s true.

A story doesn’t have to be totally made-up to mislead; it’s enough to present subtle misrepresentations, critical omissions, or out-of-context information. Examples of recent misleading or false information include claims that:

  • President Barak Obama was born outside the U.S.
  • Senator Ted Cruz was bribed to pass legislation that put America’s public lands in the hands of the Koch brothers for mining and other business pursuits.
  • The Affordable Care Act established a “death panel” to determine healthcare benefits for the sick and elderly.
  • Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump for President. (A later report revealed that the Pope supported Hillary Clinton.)
  • Millions of illegal voters voted in the 2016 presidential election.

All of the above have been labeled false by fact-checking organizations like PolitiFact, FactCheck, OpenSecrets, and Snopes, yet there are still those who believe these stories to be true.

Why does fake news spread so rapidly? As Craig Silverman of Neiman Reports writes in the Columbia Journalism Review: “[T]he forces of untruth have more money, more people, and… much better expertise. They know how to birth and spread a lie better than we know how to debunk one. They are more creative about it, and, by the very nature of what they’re doing, they aren’t constrained by ethics or professional standards. Advantage, liars.”

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How Warren Buffett Makes Decisions – The Secret to His Investing Success

warren buffett investing chartWarren Buffett is considered by many to be the most successful stock investor ever. Despite the occasional mistake, Buffett’s investing strategies are unrivaled. In 1956, at age 26, his net worth was estimated at $140,000. MarketWatch estimated his net worth at the end of 2016 to be $73.1 billion, an astounding compound annual growth rate of 24.5%. By contrast, the S&P 500 has grown at an average rate of 6.79% and most mutual funds have failed to equal the annual S&P 500 return consistently.

Buffett has achieved these returns while most of his competition failed. According to John Bogle, one of the founders and former Chairman of The Vanguard Group, “The evidence is compelling that equity fund returns lag the stock market by a substantial amount, largely accounted for by cost, and that fund investor returns lag fund returns by a substantial amount, largely accounted for by counterproductive market timing and fund selection.”

Since the evidence shows that Buffet has been an exceptional investor, market observers and psychologists have searched for an explanation to his success. Why has Warren Buffett achieved extraordinary gains compared to his peers? What is his secret?

A Long-Term Perspective

Do you know anyone who has owned the same stock for 20 years? Warren Buffett has held three stocks —Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo, and American Express—for more than 20 years. He has owned one stock—Moody’s—for 15 years, and three other stocks—Proctor & Gamble, Wal-Mart, and U.S. Bancorp—for over a decade.

To be sure, Mr. Buffett’s 50-year track record is not perfect, as he has pointed out from time to time:
Berkshire Hathaway: Pique at CEO Seabird Stanton motivated his takeover of the failing textile company. Buffett later admitted the purchase was “the dumbest stock I ever bought.”
Energy Future Holding: Buffett lost a billion dollars in bonds of the bankrupt Texas electric utility. He admitted he made a huge mistake not consulting his long-term business partner Charlie Munger before closing the purchase: “I would be unwilling to share the credit for my decision to invest with anyone else. That was just a mistake – a significant mistake.”
Wal-Mart: At the 2003 Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting, Buffet admitted his attempt to time the market had backfired: “We bought a little, and it moved up a little, and I thought maybe it would come back. That thumb-sucking has cost us in the current area of $10 billion.”
Even with these mistakes, Buffett has focused on making big bets that he intends to hold for decades to come. A longer time horizon has allowed him to take advantage of opportunities few others have the patience for. But how has he been able to make these successful bets in the first place?
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Is Going to College and Getting a Degree Worth It? – Pros & Cons

college degree money
James Smith, a 2015 graduate of the University of Texas, continues to live at home while working as the manager of a local dry cleaning establishment. He struggles to make his monthly $282 student loan payments, a significant portion of his biweekly take home pay of $807.
With a B.A. in history, James expected to find a job with a research organization or large corporation. He had been reassured by college counselors that history majors were in demand because businesses needed employees who could read and write with critical thinking skills. To his dismay, neither school interviews nor extensive mailings of his resume have resulted in any realistic job offers.
Chris, James’ best friend, disliked school and had no interest in college. With rising oil prices driving up the demand for oil field workers, Chris quickly found work as a roustabout for $18 an hour after high school graduation. Four years later, he is making $60,000 on a drilling crew. Chris has an apartment, a new pickup truck, and money in the bank.
Today, James wonders if college was worth it. He hasn’t found work in his chosen field and still depends on his parents for room and board. He is stuck in a job with few benefits and no prospects for advancement.
Students today are paying more to attend college and earning less when they graduate. Is it still worth the money, effort, and time?

Cost of a College Education

According to The College Board, the average cost of an academic year in an in-state public college in 2015-2016 was $24,061 including room and board. An academic year at a private university averaged $47,831. According to the Complete College America Alliance of States, the number of students graduating with a bachelor’s degree in four years ranges between 19% and 36%, depending on the university.
The average graduate spends an extra half to a full year to graduate (4.4 to 4.9 years), adding to the base costs of attendance. As a consequence, the typical cost of an undergraduate degree is well over $100,000, not including the lost income for the extra years spent in school, or interest incurred in paying back loans.
It’s imperative to determine if the exorbitant price tag is worth it.

Aptitude and Commitment

While college is ideal for some people, it’s not for everyone. In 2015, almost 30% of graduating high school seniors decided not to attend college. Of those who choose to attend, only half graduate within six to eight years, according to the Department of Education.
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