Awesome Commencement Speech

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No truer words have been said.  Please share this with all of your graduates!  Text is below.

 

President Powers, Provost Fenves, Deans, members of the faculty, family and friends and most importantly, the class of 2014.  Congratulations on your achievement.

It’s been almost 37 years to the day that I graduated from UT.

I remember a lot of things about that day.

I remember I had throbbing headache from a party the night before.  I remember I had a serious girlfriend, whom I later married—that’s important to remember by the way—and I remember that I was getting commissioned in the Navy that day.

But of all the things I remember, I don’t have a clue who the commencement speaker was that evening and I certainly don’t remember anything they said.

So…acknowledging that fact—if I can’t make this commencement speech memorable—I will at least try to make it short.

The University’s slogan is,

“What starts here changes the world.”

I have to admit—I kinda like it.

“What starts here changes the world.”

Tonight there are almost 8,000 students graduating from UT.

That great paragon of analytical rigor, Ask.Com says that the average American will meet 10,000 people in their life time.

That’s a lot of folks.

But, if every one of you changed the lives of just ten people—and each one of those folks changed the lives of another ten people—just ten—then in five generations—125 years—the class of 2014 will have changed the lives of 800 million people.

800 million people—think of it—over twice the population of the United States.  Go one more generation and you can change the entire population of the world—8 billion people.

If you think it’s hard to change the lives of ten people—change their lives forever—you’re wrong.

I saw it happen every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A young Army officer makes a decision to go left instead of right down a road in Baghdad and the ten soldiers in his squad are saved from close-in ambush.

In Kandahar province, Afghanistan, a non-commissioned officer from the Female Engagement Team senses something isn’t right and directs the infantry platoon away from a 500 pound IED, saving the lives of a dozen soldiers.

But, if you think about it, not only were these soldiers saved by the decisions of one person, but their children yet unborn—were also saved.  And their children’s children—were saved.

Generations were saved by one decision—by one person.

But changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it.

So, what starts here can indeed change the world, but the question is…what will the world look like after you change it?

Well, I am confident that it will look much, much better, but if you will humor this old sailor for just a moment, I have a few suggestions that may help you on your way to a better a world.

And while these lessons were learned during my time in the military, I can assure you that it matters not whether you ever served a day in uniform.

It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status.

Our struggles in this world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward—changing ourselves and the world around us—will apply equally to all.

I have been a Navy SEAL for 36 years.  But it all began when I left UT for Basic SEAL training in Coronado, California.

Basic SEAL training is six months of long torturous runs in the soft sand, midnight swims in the cold water off San Diego, obstacles courses, unending calisthenics, days without sleep and always being cold, wet and miserable.

It is six months of being constantly harassed by professionally trained warriors who seek to find the weak of mind and body and eliminate them from ever becoming a Navy SEAL.

But, the training also seeks to find those students who can lead in an environment of constant stress, chaos, failure and hardships.

To me basic SEAL training was a life time of challenges crammed into six months.

So, here are the ten lesson’s I learned from basic SEAL training that hopefully will be of value to you as you move forward in life.

Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Viet Nam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed.

If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—rack—that’s Navy talk for bed.

It was a simple task—mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection.  It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs—but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day.  It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.

If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

During SEAL training the students are broken down into boat crews.  Each crew is seven students—three on each side of a small rubber boat and one coxswain to help guide the dingy.

Every day your boat crew forms up on the beach and is instructed to get through the surfzone and paddle several miles down the coast.

In the winter, the surf off San Diego can get to be 8 to 10 feet high and it is exceedingly difficult to paddle through the plunging surf unless everyone digs in.

Every paddle must be synchronized to the stroke count of the coxswain.  Everyone must exert equal effort or the boat will turn against the wave and be unceremoniously tossed back on the beach.

For the boat to make it to its destination, everyone must paddle.

You can’t change the world alone—you will need some help— and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.

If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.

Over a few weeks of difficult training my SEAL class which started with 150 men was down to just 35.  There were now six boat crews of seven men each.

I was in the boat with the tall guys, but the best boat crew we had was made up of the the little guys—the munchkin crew we called them—no one was over about 5-foot five.

The munchkin boat crew had one American Indian, one African American, one Polish America, one Greek American, one Italian American, and two tough kids from the mid-west.

They out paddled, out-ran, and out swam all the other boat crews.

The big men in the other boat crews would always make good natured fun of the tiny little flippers the munchkins put on their tiny little feetprior to every swim.

But somehow these little guys, from every corner of the Nation and the world, always had the last laugh— swimming faster than everyone and reaching the shore long before the rest of us.

SEAL training was a great equalizer.  Nothing mattered but your will to succeed.  Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status.

If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.

Several times a week, the instructors would line up the class and do a uniform inspection.  It was exceptionally thorough.

Your hat had to be perfectly starched, your uniform immaculately pressed and your belt buckle shiny and void of any smudges.

But it seemed that no matter how much effort you put into starching your hat, or pressing your uniform or polishing your belt buckle—- it just wasn’t good enough.

The instructors would fine “something” wrong.

For failing the uniform inspection, the student had to run, fully clothed into the surfzone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand.

The effect was known as a “sugar cookie.” You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day—cold, wet and sandy.

There were many a student who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain.  That no matter how hard they tried to get the uniform right—it was unappreciated.

Those students didn’t make it through training.

Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill.  You were never going to succeed.  You were never going to have a perfect uniform.

Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform you still end up as a sugar cookie.

It’s just the way life is sometimes.

If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.

Every day during training you were challenged with multiple physical events—long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, hours of calisthenics—something designed to test your mettle.

Every event had standards—times you had to meet.  If you failed to meet those standards your name was posted on a list and at the end of the day those on the list were invited to—a “circus.”

A circus was two hours of additional calisthenics—designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit.

No one wanted a circus.

A circus meant that for that day you didn’t measure up.  A circus meant more fatigue—and more fatigue meant that the following day would be more difficult—and more circuses were likely.

But at some time during SEAL training, everyone—everyone—made the circus list.

But an interesting thing happened to those who were constantly on the list.  Overtime those students-—who did two hours of extra calisthenics—got stronger and stronger.

The pain of the circuses built inner strength-built physical resiliency.

Life is filled with circuses.

You will fail.  You will likely fail often.  It will be painful.  It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.

But if you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.

At least twice a week, the trainees were required to run the obstacle course.  The obstacle course contained 25 obstacles including a 10-foot high wall, a 30-foot cargo net, and a barbed wire crawl to name a few.

But the most challenging obstacle was the slide for life.  It had a three level 30 foot tower at one end and a one level tower at the other.  In between was a 200-foot long rope.

You had to climb the three tiered tower and once at the top, you grabbed the rope, swung underneath the rope and pulled yourself hand over hand until you got to the other end.

The record for the obstacle course had stood for years when my class began training in 1977.

The record seemed unbeatable, until one day, a student decided to go down the slide for life—head first.

Instead of swinging his body underneath the rope and inching his way down, he bravely mounted the TOP of the rope and thrust himself forward.

It was a dangerous move—seemingly foolish, and fraught with risk.  Failure could mean injury and being dropped from the training.

Without hesitation—the student slid down the rope—perilously fast, instead of several minutes, it only took him half that time and by the end of the course he had broken the record.

If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.

During the land warfare phase of training, the students are flown out to San Clemente Island which lies off the coast of San Diego.

The waters off San Clemente are a breeding ground for the great white sharks. To pass SEAL training there are a series of long swims that must be completed.  One—is the night swim.

Before the swim the instructors joyfully brief the trainees on all the species of sharks that inhabit the waters off San Clemente.

They assure you, however, that no student has ever been eaten by a shark—at least not recently.

But, you are also taught that if a shark begins to circle your position—stand your ground.  Do not swim away.  Do not act afraid.

And if the shark, hungry for a midnight snack, darts towards you—then summons up all your strength and punch him in the snout and he will turn and swim away.

There are a lot of sharks in the world.  If you hope to complete the swim you will have to deal with them.

So, If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.

As Navy SEALs one of our jobs is to conduct underwater attacks against enemy shipping.  We practiced this technique extensively during basic training.

The ship attack mission is where a pair of SEAL divers is dropped off outside an enemy harbor and then swims well over two miles—underwater—using nothing but a depth gauge and a compass to get to their target.

During the entire swim, even well below the surface there is some light that comes through.  It is comforting to know that there is open water above you.

But as you approach the ship, which is tied to a pier, the light begins to fade. The steel structure of the ship blocks the moonlight—it blocks the surrounding street lamps—it blocks all ambient light.

To be successful in your mission, you have to swim under the ship and find the keel—the centerline and the deepest part of the ship.

This is your objective.  But the keel is also the darkest part of the ship—where you cannot see your hand in front of your face, where the noise from the ship’s machinery is deafening and where it is easy to get disoriented and fail.

Every SEAL knows that under the keel, at the darkest moment of the mission—is the time when you must be calm, composed—when all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bear.

If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.

The ninth week of training is referred to as “Hell Week.”  It is six days of no sleep, constant physical and mental harassment and—one special day at the Mud Flats—the Mud Flats are area between San Diego and Tijuana where the water runs off and creates the Tijuana slue’s—a swampy patch of terrain where the mud will engulf you.

It is on Wednesday of Hell Week that you paddle down to the mud flats and spend the next 15 hours trying to survive the freezing cold mud, the howling wind and the incessant pressure to quit from the instructors.

As the sun began to set that Wednesday evening, my training class, having committed some “egregious infraction of the rules” was ordered into the mud.

The mud consumed each man till there was nothing visible but our heads.  The instructors told us we could leave the mud if only five men would quit—just five men and we could get out of the oppressive cold.

Looking around the mud flat it was apparent that some students were about to give up.  It was still over eight hours till the sun came up—eight more hours of bone chilling cold.

The chattering teeth and shivering moans of the trainees were so loud it was hard to hear anything and then, one voice began to echo through the night—one voice raised in song.

The song was terribly out of tune, but sung with great enthusiasm.

One voice became two and two became three and before long everyone in the class was singing.

We knew that if one man could rise above the misery then others could as well.

The instructors threatened us with more time in the mud if we kept up the singing—but the singing persisted.

And somehow—the mud seemed a little warmer, the wind a little tamer and the dawn not so far away.

If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope.  The power of one person—Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela and even a young girl from Pakistan—Malala—one person can change the world by giving people hope.

So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.

Finally, in SEAL training there is a bell.  A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see.

All you have to do to quit—is ring the bell.  Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock.  Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims.

Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT—and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training.

Just ring the bell.

If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.

To the graduating class of 2014, you are moments away from graduating.  Moments away from beginning your journey through life.  Moments away starting to change the world—for the better.

It will not be easy.

But, YOU are the class of 2014—the class that can affect the lives of 800 million people in the next century.

Start each day with a task completed.

Find someone to help you through life.

Respect everyone.

Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up—if you do these things, then next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today and—what started here will indeed have changed the world—for the better.

Thank you very much.  Hook ‘em horns.

5 Ways to Improve Your Business Today

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My view while writing this post

There are a lot of ways to improve your business, but I have a few pet peeves that I see all of the time that could be remedied with very little effort or cost.  However, they will have a huge effect on your business no matter what business you are in.

Get a Domain Name and Use It

This is my number one pet peeve.  I get a business card from someone and the email is XXXXX@gmail.com.  Why?  It only costs $9.99 to register a domain name and $5.00 a month for Google Apps.  You can even get email from the host you will pay to host the website you are going to create in the next tip.  Is is much better to have XXXXX@<mygreatbusiness>.com!  Think branding people!  You need to get your name out there every chance you get.  What better way than to have it on your email address?

Put a Website at Your Domain Name

Now that you have a domain name, get a hosting company, like DreamHost, to host your new domain name and put up a website.  This isn’t complicated, you can have a website up and running in a day doing everything yourself.  You don’t have to have a complicated site for it to improve your business, just one where customers can find you and your services and get in touch with you.  I will be putting up a tutorial soon on getting a basic site up for your business.  Stay tuned!

Be Responsive

This is another biggie.  There is no excuse for not being responsive to customers.  None.  With very few exceptions you should be able to respond to a customer within 24 hours.  Even if you have to let them know that you are busy and will respond later, at least say something.  If you are indeed to busy to respond within 24 hours then it is time to get an assistant.  Customer service should be number one in your business, if it is not, you are leaving money on the table.  I would much rather do business with a responsive company that has a good product than with a great product with horrible customer service.  Remember, if your customers are happy, they will bring you more customers.

Empower Your Employees

Loosen the management hold on your employees and you will be amazed at what they can do.  Every employee in your company should have the power to make something right for a customer without having to ask a supervisor.  Of course this should be regulated depending on the level of employee, but each level should have a dollar amount that they can personally authorize to make a customer happy.  If a customer comes with a problem the last thing they want is to be passed up the chain.  They want you to make their problem right so they can happily get on with their day.  If refunds or replacements are easy, the unsatisfied customer will more than likely bring repeat business just because you were so pleasant to deal with when they had an issue.  Remember, a customer’s value is much more than just the present transaction.  Figure out the lifetime value of a customer and you will see how much making their pain go away is worth.

Take a Vacation

We all want our business to succeed, but we can’t be business 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  Take some time away from your business to decompress.  You can even use that time to strategize about ways to improve your business, but you need to get away from it all for awhile, and that doesn’t mean just a weekend.  Bill Gates, when he was running Microsoft, would take a couple weeks each year where he would go off and be by himself to decompress and think about his business.  He would do this without fail every year and swore by the process.  If the richest man in the world can take time away from his business, you certainly can let go for a bit.  You will be amazed at how refreshed you will be when you return and the ideas that will come to you when you are away.

There you have it, five things that you can do today (Ok maybe four and one that will take a bit of planning) that will have an immediate effect on your business.  If you implement these things, I promise you that you will see a definite improvement in your business.

Guest Post: Goldilocks Goals: How to Make Your Dreams “Just Right”

Like many people, I have a lot of goals. Some of them are big and long-term, which means they mostly live on the back burner. The other goals (making sure the house is clean, driving my oldest to soccer and baseball practices) are smaller, and hover at the forefront of my thoughts.

One of my biggest goals (and also perhaps the farthest toward the back of my activity list) involves writing. I’ve always been a bit of a closet writer, though slightly less closeted since I’ve begun blogging. I’ve got two sci-fi/fantasy novel manuscripts written (though unpublished and never really shown to anyone), and I’ve had an idea for a third for about a year now. I’m even hoping to apply to the Clarion or Odyssey writers’ workshops in the next year or two (could my family cope without me for a chunk of the summer? Do I risk taking a leave of absence from my work?). Despite all these writerly hopes, I haven’t really worked toward actualizing them recently. So many “What ifs” get in the way of starting this third novel, or even trying my hand at writing a short story.

Books
(All the books on my coffee table. Should one of them be mine eventually?)

So what am I going to do about all the questions I keep asking myself?

Downsize the Dream and Chuck the “What ifs”

I think one big change I need to make in my thinking – and something you should think about too if your dreams are BIG but all the “what ifs” keep blocking your path – is to completely lose sight of the gigantic overarching goal. I need to stop asking myself questions like “What if this novel is as bad as the other two?” and “What if I really like this and want to try to do more with it than abandon it in a desktop folder?” and “What if I get caught partway through and have no idea where I want to end up?” Instead, I need to plop myself in front of my computer with a cup of coffee, and start. Start with a few letters, a word, and hopefully build it up from some muddy clay to at least a couple bricks that could, eventually, comprise an entire wall.

Sometimes it’s vital to stop thinking about the forest – or even the entire world in my case – and focus on one little leaf on a sapling.

But then another question arises. When, amidst the helter-skelter of family ballyhoo and brouhaha, of career intrigue and excitement, is the best time for a creative (and frivolous) pursuit?

Anytime and Always

Time is probably the most precious commodity in the world. When we think of our valuables we generally think of diamonds, or fancy electronics, or our families. But an argument can be made that time is probably the most prized of them all. How do you weigh time spent on goals with your family, career aspirations, and personal pursuits? How can I weigh another hike with my family, researching new methods in bed bug treatment, and learning piano or French? I’m constantly struggling to find a “balance,” mostly just kicking my legs as fast as possible and hoping I stay afloat.

But this week, I’ve got a big goal for myself. Anytime I have a few minutes, I’m going to dash to my computer, open the text editor, and focus on my little sapling. I may not get anything written, but I’ll be actively working toward my dreams, in baby steps, and you never know: I may surprise myself with that third manuscript.

Author bio: Maya Rodgers currently leads a satisfying career in pest control (lately she spends most of her time in termite treatment), where she fights bugs and plots how insects will feature in her next novel manuscript. To encourage, embolden, or be entertained, visit her at www.petsandpests.com.

How Are Your Goals Coming?

How are your goals coming along?

I just marked one of my lifetime goals off of my list, traveling to Moscow.

I have always wanted to visit Russia, especially Moscow, and I got the opportunity a few weeks ago.

The architecture was beautiful, and the people were very friendly.

It was quite frustrating not being able to read any of the signs or understand the language, but I booked a half day tour with an English speaking guide, and got to see some amazing sights.

Have your written your goals down this year?

What about your lifetime bucket list?

If you don’t write them down they aren’t goals, only dreams.  Get them written down and start crossing them off of your list!

Guest Post: How to Find Peace in Your Home

It seems like the world’s tempo is accelerating in a way that makes us unable to control our lives. We are either too busy, too stressed out, or too confused about our emotions and the result is a negative feeling that we have at the end of the day.

There are things making us unhappy that are out of our control: a horrible boss, losing a job, an illness of someone close to us. But there are ways to improve our general situation and to feel better, even if we can’t solve those big, burning problems at the moment.

The first step to creating a better life is to find peace in your home.

Things that make us unhappy in our home

There are some things that really bother us in our house, but either because we’re busy with other things, or because we don’t know how to recognize our needs, we are blind to them.

Those issues can be:

  •     A messy house
  •     A partner who isn’t much involved in house matters
  •     Furniture and room decorations that you don’t really like
  •     Not enough windows and light
  •     Not enough guests

These are only a few things that can really bring you down without you even realizing what’s bugging you. Sure, you can see that your bathroom needs cleaning, but until you really clean it, you won’t know how much it’s been going on your nerves.

Redecorate your home

Take a look at your house, all its rooms, and think about what you could change. If your apartment is too dark, you need to open it up somehow. Don’t use curtains or shades, remove furniture that stands in the way of windows or make another window if you have to – but you really need a lot of light coming in.

Try painting your walls a more cheerful color, spray-painting your wood furniture to make it look vintage, buying or making new stuff to warm up the room. Use interesting and original ideas to redecorate. These remodeling activities can be very cheap if you and your partner agree to have a fun DIY adventure. They can also be very therapeutic, especially if you work listening to some great music.

Talk to your partner

If your partner is the main problem things aren’t better organized and more fun at your home, you need to talk to him/her about it. Don’t make the conversation sound like an accusation, but rather as a constructive idea how you can improve your lives. You can discuss it over a romantic dinner with candles, nice music and wine that won’t look like a bribe but as a demonstration of how you should enjoy your home and your time together in full.

Author bio:

This article was written by Allison Moody, a writer, avid reader, amateur dancer, food lover and many other things. She is currently working on promoting her new FREE online app Labeley that lets users design their own beverage labels.

 

Guest Post: 5 Reasons Why You Can’t Fulfill Your Dreams

Almost everyone has heard the famous saying, “You can do anything you set your mind to.” While this is an encouraging statement, is it true?

It’s not as easy as just coming up with something you dream of doing, and then making it happen. There’s much more involved in turning a dream into a reality.

Knowing why you can’t achieve your dreams can help you know what to fine tune, so you have a better chance of achieving them.

Check out these reasons why you can’t fulfill your dreams, so you can start working on how you’ll achieve a dream that’s possible for you.

#1: You Don’t Know What They Are

Have you thought about your dreams lately? Most people lead such hectic lives that they seldom sit back to think about what they would love their life to be like.

You can’t change your life if you don’t know what to change.

Take some moments to think about what you really want to change in your life. Knowing what you want to change is the first step, and it’s the one that you must take.

#2: Your Dreams Are Unrealistic

If you’re 50 years old and have never played a day of tennis in your life, it’s likely you won’t be able to fulfill your dream of winning at Wimbledon. This is quite obvious, but other examples may not be as apparent.

Consider how realistic your dream is…

This may not be easy, and is a big reason why people seek coaching these days. Some people will think their dream is unrealistic because they fear failure, not because it cannot be done.

#3: You Don’t Have Natural Talent

Just like in the example of wanting to win at Wimbledon, if you don’t have a talent in tennis, it’s likely you won’t be able to fulfill your dream. While at times you can learn a skill, there are some things you can’t learn, and it just has to come naturally to you.

Think about your dream and the types of skills and knowledge you need for what you want to do. Then consider whether that is something you can do with the talent you have.

#4: You Don’t Have Enough Time

Some dreams take decades to materialize and others not so long. It’s true that some people can get on the fast track of success, it’s not the case for most people.

Think of someone living the dream you want have and then, consider how long it took that person to achieve that. This will give you a good idea of how possible it is for you to make your dream a reality with the time you have before you do others things in life, such as retire or get too old for it.

#5: You Don’t Think You Can Achieve Them

Finally yet importantly, the fifth reason why you can’t fulfill your dreams is because you don’t think you can do it. Many people put up a roadblock to success because they don’t feel they’ll ever make it. They don’t want to try to achieve them because they fear the ridicule of failing not only from others, but also from themselves. If they don’t try, they don’t fail.

Fear of failure is understandable. However, it’s a common reason why most people never fulfill their dreams. They don’t ever try new things, so they never move forward towards a life they want.

The only way you will achieve your dreams is if you think about them, fine tune them to meet your capabilities and time and take risks. Sure, you may fail along the way to your dream, but if you continue on making adjustments along the way, you can reach the success you want in life

Marcelina Hardy is the staff writer for the iNLP Center, which offers live and online training in Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Visit iNLP to receive a free coaching session.

Guest Post: How Do I Image SEO?

ImageSEO

Images are more than just decorative additives that can turn a webpage into an engaging piece of information. They are also perfect assets that can be used to gain some love from the search engines. I have often seen many places where people overlook the search engine optimization of images whereas they can be used to drive traffic not only from the image search but also from the normal universal search results. However, benefiting from image SEO means you must implement some SEO tactics, including using the right anchor text, alt text, descriptive tagging, and few others. These are not hard though; if you can optimize a webpage, there is nothing so new about optimizing an image than playing around with your primary keyword. Here are few tips I have created to guide you towards better image SEO.

Use the Right Image

Using an image for any purpose online should start from searching and using the right image. Just like some images can skyrocket the stickiness of a webpage, others may do more harm than good. Hence the right image must compliment the rest of the content on the webpage. Notably, while most people use to Google out images for their blog posts, it is important you note that companies and sites can take legal action against you if you use an image that you don’t have the permission to re-use. This is why you must create an image yourself, buy license for your images or search and use royalty-free images or creative commons. Personally, I prefer using the creative commons search in Flickr for free images and iStockPhoto to buy license for those I can’t really pass by.

Optimize the File Name

Why leave an image name as 000000000039.jpg when the name can be changed to something that blends with the content of the page. There is no secret to optimizing the image name except to use keyword rich words as your filename. If your blog post is optimized for “Panda Update,” ensure that the image filename reflects that. Additionally, all the images on your site must be of common filetypes like .JPEG, .GIF, .PNG and .BMP and must be placed in one file on your site. This helps the search bots to easily identify and include them in search results. For instance, all the images I used on my review blog where I share reviews about digital product creation services like Mixbook and Pinnacle Studio bear the product name as their filename. This is also what each review page is optimized for.

The Alt Text

This is the first image optimization technique I learnt. Many of us do ignore this section when using images online. Even if you are using a text image, the search bots can’t yet see and categorize it based on the texts, but depends on the surrounding descriptions like the alt text, tags, filename and others to associate it with any keyword. Hence the alt text or tag must be optimized with the same keyword you have in the filename. This is very important.

Anchor Text

You may be asking how an anchor text applies to images. I have seen several places where people link to images with keywords like photo, image or any other generic text that doesn’t really describe what the image is all about. In this case, search engines won’t know how to categorize the link and image. But imagine that you used an anchor text that describes the image, you are not only telling the search bots what message the image is carrying and when to include it in search results, but also revealing to readers what they should expect to see in the image.

Avoid Over-Optimization

If you are yet to wake up to the demands of the recent penguin update, it targets keyword stuffing (over-optimization). SEO has suddenly turned into a two-edged sword which will reward your site if done well or hurt your site at the slightest wrong step – it is just a matter of when. To this end, you should avoid stuffing the filename, the alt text or tag and the anchor text with your keyword. While keeping these forms short and as descriptive as possible, I use the keyword only once in each case and have never had any penalty for it.

Think that optimizing your images is a waste of time? Think again! Just like normal webpages, you can also optimize your images not only for search engines but also to increase user experience.

Author Bio

Steven is an internet marketer with a strong experience in SEO and SMO. He is the main editor at the VeryBestSoftware.Net, where he shares his assessments on various online services like photo sharing platforms, photo booking sites and remote printing for businesses.

Guest Post: Developing Your Leadership Skills to Help Find Your Peak

Are great leaders born or bred? Sure, there are those that seem born naturally charismatic who attract followers from the playground all the way to the board room. And as evidenced through many politicians and celebrities, those charismatic, magnetic people can easily self-destruct while many of the quieter, more serious sorts end up in the most responsible positions.

Why? Because there are as many diverse approaches to leadership as there are people, and the style is often situational. Despite style, it’s the fundamental principles of leadership that endure over time.

Too often, leadership is confused with management. Leadership and management are two entirely separate things, but the tendency to group them together can lead to confusion for those looking to take on a leadership role.

Management is about completing tasks in the most efficient way possible. This can mean developing and managing resources, including employees. The main goal is to streamline processes and improve return on investment with the bottom line always in mind.

Leaders, on the other hand, focus on blazing the path to new territory. They aren’t overly concerned with the details of how they are going to get to where they want to go. Instead, they tend to focus on what they can achieve when they reach their goals. They think about the future, not how to get better results from current processes.

A recent example of good leadership can be taken from the late Steve Jobs, who lead Apple into new territory by focusing on the development of products that were the first of their kind. He didn’t concern himself, at least initially, with the manufacturing process of iPhones. Instead he focused on communicating his vision to his top employees, leading them in the development of the technology that would make it possible. He had a single-minded focus on creating the products he saw as being the future of Apple.

That’s leadership. Overseeing the supply chain and logistics of getting the iPhone from the manufacturing floor to market is also important, but that’s management.

Effective Leadership Begins with Certain Character Traits

There are certain character traits vital to those wishing to become great leaders. There are no shortcuts that can substitute for these qualities – working to develop them is the price a good leader pays to become successful.

Honesty. A person who fakes his or her way through professional life can, admittedly, succeed for a time. But eventually employees and peers detect the cracks in the façade. Honesty about where a leader wants to take an organization and transparency in the methods used to achieve it are central to the success of any good leader. Think, for example, of politicians – the most effective are those who have clear objectives and are elected by a majority who agree with those objectives. Those who say one thing during the campaign and do another when in office often find themselves in trouble with voters.

Forward-looking. Leaders do not dwell in the past, on mistakes or successes. Leaders look toward the future and ascertain the best direction for the company, based on the core values of the leader and organization. They are concentrating on where they can go, not where they have been, both as individuals and as leaders of the company.

Intelligent and inspiring. Nobody wants to follow someone who is clearly not caught up on the latest happenings not only in their industry, but in business strategy as a whole. Staying smart in these areas is a necessity for a leader. Being an inspiration is a tougher task, but if a person bases decisions on reasoned thought and not emotion, and also shows the sort of dedication and stamina under duress that others will find admirable, they are on their way to becoming inspirational leaders.

Broad-minded. While the ultimate goal is always in mind, a good leader also seeks out a diverse set of people from whom to seek advice and who also have input on the final strategy.

Leadership Methods Can Vary by Situation

There are as many different variations on good leadership as there are good leaders.  For example, Microsoft’s Bill Gates became known for utilizing an intense, analytical style in governing his employees. His superior vision and ability to build a winning, cutting-edge management team lead to a culture of excellence at Microsoft, which dominated the computer industry for decades.

Others excel at creating empathy for the customer. Jeff Brazos, founder and CEO of Amazon, is famous for requiring managers at all levels of the company – including himself and his executive team – to spend two days a year in the call center, listening to customers and learning about their experience interacting with the online retailer.

Despite the fine-grain details and differences in leadership styles, most fall into one of several categories. The best leaders often use a combination of two or more of the following methods.

Authoritarian. This is the method in which a leader decides how things will be done, then effectively communicates it to the employees. This is not to be confused with bossing people around, which is something a good leader never does. Rather, in this case the leader knows the ultimate goal clearly without needing outside advice.

Democratic. Here, the leader seeks advice from others before formulating a plan. This method works well when a leader wants to get buy-in from employees. However, leaders should not appear indecisive or in need of others to provide them with direction and ideas.

Delegate. Some leaders also choose to delegate authority to others for certain areas of the business operation. This can be necessary for larger businesses and not so effective in smaller operations where a more hands-on approach might be necessary.

Whatever style a leader chooses, the important thing is to stay true to the core traits and values that make a leader who he or she really is. Employees will be able to see the authenticity and will respond.

This guest post was provided by Dean Vella who writes for University Alliance on topics pertaining to the subjects of leadership skills training and negotiation training .

Using LinkedIn to Grow Your Small Business

I am not sure how many of you out there are familiar with the business networking site LinkedIn, but if you’re not you should be.

LinkedIn is a social networking site focused on the business community that was started in 2002.  It currently has over 161 million members, and is getting new members at 2 per second.

This isn’t like the other social media site such as Facebook and MySpace, LinkedIn allows you to connect and network with high level decision makers.  At one point the average household income of the members was $104,000.

As you can see, LinkedIn can provide valuable connections for your small business.  However, directly connecting to others is only the tip of the iceberg.  LinkedIn also provides groups you can join to connect to others based on industry, interest, or affiliation.

By joining these groups, you automatically are pseudo-connected to everyone in the group.  You can send them invitations directly since you are in the same group.  You are also able to create and join in discussions within the group.  The more active you are in a group, the more you are recognized.

In addition to joining groups, you are able to create your own group.

As the owner of the group, you are now able to send messages to the entire group.  This is key because these messages go into the members actual inbox, not their LinkedIn inbox.  This is a great way to quickly build a massive email list for your small business. Many people create local groups and have in person group meetings as well as just connecting online.

There is also the benefit of finding employees for your small business through LinkedIn.  Many job seekers head to LinkedIn to find their next position.  Executives from all of the Fortune 500 are represented on the site, and the sites job board is very active.

In future articles I will explore specific areas within LinkedIn.  From creating or beefing up your profile to creating and running your first group.  You can also join my group on LinkedIn, The Small Business Success Network.

I hope to see you there!

30 Ways in 30 Days to Find Your Peak – Day 30: Forgive

Welcome Back! If you are just getting started, I suggest you go back and review the previous posts in the series here.

Well, here we are at the end of our 30 days.  Have you enjoyed it?  I know I have had a wonderful time coming up with these articles, I hope you have enjoyed them as much as I have.

If you would like to see more of this type of series, please let me know in the comments.

Forgive

I have saved one of the most important ones for last.  By doing this, you will improve not only your life, but another person’s as well.

There are so many people out there that feel that they have been wronged in some way and are unable to forgive the other person.

Holding on to things like this can destroy your life.  While it is sometime very hard, you have to forgive these people.

If possible, you should let them know that you are forgiving them, because more often than not, they realize what they have done and are just too proud to say they are sorry.

I will bet if you start by forgiving them you will get an apology in return.

I know there are those of you that are saying that I don’t know what you went through, and you are right, but I do know that if you really look at it, you  are getting no benefit from holding that grudge against that person.

So why not forgive them?

No action steps for today, but you know what you need to do, so just go and do it.

Thanks for sticking with me for the whole month, I hope you have gotten something out of the 30 days!