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    Archive for the 'Entrepreneurship' Category

    When cause-and-effect met humanity and changed the world

    As the 17th century dawned, cause-and-effect was merging parallel universes.

    In the Old World, a decision by a group of Leiden Separatists put them on a circuitous journey. Meanwhile, in the New World, a manchild named Tisquantum was born to the Wampanoag Indians.

    Both the Separatists and Tisquantum became very important to America’s future, but not before their lives would change and intertwine in ways not to be imagined by either.

    Photo credit to BGCNT.net

    Photo credit to BGCNT.net

    Seeking religious freedom, the Separatists crossed Europe and then the Atlantic. On their odyssey they would steel their convictions, which proved handy in the New World.

    Incredibly, Tisquantum crossed the Atlantic six times, first as a hostage and later as an interpreter. On his odyssey, Tisquantum learned Old World languages that, combined with his New World survival skills, would contribute to his rendezvous with destiny.

    During their journeys, both experienced a name change: The Separatists became Pilgrims and Tisquantum became Squanto. And as the Pilgrims prepared for their first Atlantic crossing, Squanto made his last.

    Arriving at his birthplace in 1619, Squanto found that his entire village and family had been wiped out by an epidemic. On the day after Christmas, 1620, with the Mayflower Compact in hand, the Pilgrims came ashore at what is now Massachusetts, on a place they named Plymouth, after the city where their voyage began.

    The Pilgrims’ first winter in the New World was brutal; less than half of the 102 colonists survived to spring. Then on March 16, 1621, an Indian named Samoset walked up to the Pilgrims and said, “Hello, English.” Very soon he recognized these sad-looking folks needed help from someone who spoke their language better.

    The two universes finally converged and cause-and-effect met humanity as Samoset brought Squanto to the Pilgrims.  In one of the great moments of serendipity, it turns out “Plymouth” was the very spot of Squanto’s ill-fated village.

    Squanto spent the rest of 1621 befriending the Pilgrims and teaching them how to survive in the New World. It’s clear that his contribution was critical to the survival of these important American forebears.

    When the courage and convictions of one group of individuals converged with the humanity of two others, something special happened: Part of the foundation of the most benevolent nation in history was born. This week we give thanks for these individuals and the blessings that have accrued to us 393 years later.

    Write this on a rock … One person can make a difference. Happy Thanksgiving.

    Jim Blasingame is author of the award-winning book, The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance.

    Celebrating two milestones

    If you will permit me, today I would like to talk about a couple of milestones of which we’re kind of proud.

    On Monday, November 17, 1997, I began broadcasting The Small Business Advocate Show for two hours Monday through Friday, and ever since that first day the program has been nationally syndicated. This week we’ll celebrate our 17th anniversary and the beginning of our 18th year on the air.

    In January 1998, we began simulcasting our show on the Internet, which makes us one of the pioneers of Internet streaming. We’ve been archiving our show since 1999, including multiple on-demand streaming options. In 2007 we added the ability to podcast all current and archived interviews.

    This Monday will be my 4,421st live broadcast since we began — including all the holidays (next week I’ll broadcast my 18th consecutive live Thanksgiving Day show). Since that first broadcast, I’ve conducted over 17,600 live interviews with small business experts and entrepreneurs. When you hear me talking about making sure that you’re passionate about the business you start, if you didn’t already, now you know I practice what I preach.

    From the beginning, my primary programming goal was to focus on the fundamentals that are important to successfully starting, operating and growing a small business, and to make all of the things we do available to you for free. On that last note–the free one–I must say thanks to our outstanding corporate partners, without whose support the free part would not be possible. I especially want to thank our Presenting Sponsor, Insperity, for ten great years together.

    For my work on behalf of you over the years, I’ve received a number of national awards from organizations such as the U.S. Small Business Administration,FORTUNE Small Business magazine, TALKERS magazine, the American Chamber of Commerce Executives, the Association of Small Business Development Centers, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, and New York Enterprise Report.

    Also this week, we’re celebrating the 15th anniversary of this publication, The Small Business Advocate NEWSLETTER. This week’s edition, Volume XVI, Issue 1, represents 780 consecutive weekly issues since 1999. Thanks for being a loyal subscriber.

    Finally, thank you for your support, comments, many words of encouragement and especially the honor and privilege of being your Advocate. I’m already looking forward to the rest of our journey together. More than anything else, I want you to know how proud I am of you as a small business owner and what you have accomplished.

    Nothing I do as The Small Business Advocate is about me — it’s all about you, my heroes, small business owners, regardless of where you live on planet Earth.


    Lead a vision and a business

    As an entrepreneur, you are your organization’s visionary - the creator of the dream, and the energy and spirit behind its fulfillment. As the operator of the business you’ve created to deliver your dream, you are the steady hand, the voice of reason, the challenge master, and the bull’s eye where the proverbial buck stops.
    The great French writer, Victor Hugo could have been talking about us when he wrote, “The human soul has still greater need of the ideal than the real. It is by the real that we exist, it is by the ideal that we live.”
    In your role as an entrepreneur, you have greater need of the ideal, which is your vision, your passion.  As the operator of your business, it is by the real that you exist, which are the operating fundamentals you must practice.
    You must be able to move successfully between these two dimensions as you create, operate and grow your businesses successfully. Too much ideal and you have no critical mass.  Too much real and you have nothing new, too little excitement, and probably not much fun.
    The ideal and the real:  Create - operate - have fun.

    What’s really important?

    The following quizzes, and the subsequent paragraph, are attributed to the late Charles Schultz, creator of the comic strip, Peanuts.  I’m passing along his thoughts because I think it’s important that we realize what is really important in life.
    Quiz 1:
    1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
    2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
    3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.
    4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
    5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
    6. Name the last decade’s World Series winners.
    Quiz 2:
    1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
    2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
    3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
    4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
    5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
    6. Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.
    “The applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.  The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones who cared.”
    This is Jim again. As we go through life, let’s make sure our goals and priorities include caring about and serving other people, not just about other things.

    Be a single-issue voter for your small business

    Americans are afforded a privilege which, while not rare on Earth, is certainly unavailable to billions of other Earthlings: We’re allowed to vote for those who represent us in government.

    The words “privilege” and “allowed” are used with a purpose: the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to vote, but does not require us to do so. If voting were a legal requirement, in the 2000 election 100 million Americans could have been arrested, as pundits lamented the “Vanishing Voter” phenomenon.

    But with all of its faults, no one can say America is hidebound. In the span of a decade, the Vanishing Voter has been supplanted by the Engaged Voter. We’re experiencing one of the most promising phenomena of the current age: increasing fervor and investment of the American electorate in the political process.

    Say what you will about the Tea Party, it has not only given voice to those who hold dear conservative values, but to paraphrase Mr. Newton, it has engendered an equal and opposite reaction from those who inhabit the left side of the political spectrum. Ironically, this vociferous differentiation has placed greater import on the new electoral power brokers, independent voters.

    Nothing bad happens when Americans get fired up about the political process, regardless of whether they spin to the left or the right, or mark time in the middle. Feeling pressure to take a political position typically manifests in becoming a more knowledgeable voter. If America is to ever solve its many challenges, those solutions will be demanded by an informed electorate who hire representatives to serve them, rather than anoint a self-serving political class.

    Something good would happen if small business stakeholders were as politically organized and influential as other single-issue groups, like unions. If small business were a country, Wikipedia would describe Small Business USA like this: Population: 125 million (owners, employees and dependents). Economy: Largest on the planet. Contribution to society: Significant. Organized political influence for its own interests: Negligible.

    What’s wrong with this picture?

    With so much to contribute, Small Business America has many reasons to catch the tide of electoral fervor and become more involved in the political process. With so much at stake—challenges and opportunities—we have even more reasons to make our positions known to those who would represent us, rather than accepting policies we’re given by those who could rightly assume we don’t care.

    Write this on a rock … Be a single-issue voter for your small business.

    RESULTS: What are your future plans for offering health care to your employees?

    The Question:
    What are your future plans for offering health care (HC) benefits to your employees?

    36% - We have and will continue to offer HC benefits.
    11% - We currently have HC benefits, but plan to discontinue.
    31% - We don’t have HC benefits and won’t provide them in the future.
    0% - We currently don’t provide HC benefits, but plan to start.
    22% -  We don’t have employees.

    Jim’s Comments:
    Of our respondents who have employees, those who provide healthcare benefits are not far below those who don’t.  I’m taking that as a good indicator. The response that is troubling is that 11% are currently providing coverage but plan to stop, plus no one reported they were planning to start offering healthcare benefits.  Part of the reason might be associated with economic conditions, but based on what we’re learning, it’s my opinion that the imposition of Obamacare is also involved.
    I’ve been very outspoken about my opposition to Obamacare. Unfortunately, every day that goes by Obamacare continues to affirm my predictions that it’s a bad alternative to what we had and what could have been done to accomplish real reform. On my radio program this week I asked healthcare policy expert, Grace-Marie Turner, President of the Galen Institute, if 2015 was going to be the worst year yet for Obamacare? She said every year is going to replace the previous one as the worst year of Obamacare. Click here to listen to our discussions.