Q&A with Maren Kate Donovan from Zirtual

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Maren Kate Donovan is the founder and CEO of Zirtual, a San Francisco company that matches up executives and professionals with virtual assistants. Born and raised in Las Vegas, Maren came up with the idea for Zirtual at a 24-hour cafe on the Strip in Vegas. She got her start selling jewelry on eBay and has run various online businesses since her 18th birthday. Zirtual received $2 million in funding from the VegasTechFund, a start-up incubator created by Zappos founder Tony Hsieh. Below, Maren answers a few questions about how she manages her time and what she gets out of virtual assistance. Continue Reading

How To Survive a Work Conference (like an Introvert)

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So your boss insists that you take a free trip to Phoenix to get caught up on the latest marketing trends. And you hate hobnobbing. With a passion. This is your foolproof guide to getting out of that convention center or hotel ballroom with your sanity intact. Engage on a limited basis Sharing ideas with other people in your industry is very smart. And even in this interconnected digital world, you need face time to really get to know people. Even if you think this whole thing is a boondoggle designed to line the pockets of hoteliers and event organizers, there has to be real actionable intelligence somewhere. Know what you want to find out before you go. Google attendees. Make a plan for engaging with those people and stick to that plan. WiFi If you don’t have it, get it. If the hotel is too cheap to provide you with free network access, get Googling on your phone and figure out how to tether (use your phone as a mobile hotspot). And put your laptop to work. Check your work email. Continue Reading

Why Work With Children?

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Do you want to help shape the next generation positively? Do you love working with children? Are you able to communicate really well with them? Then working with children might be just the right career choice for you! Here are a few highlights to help you in your research and decision-making. A choice of roles Children's workers generally collaborate in some way with social services providers in the community and also in schools. The careerplanner.com website indicates that child care workers look after children in private homes, child care institutions, schools and businesses. They are responsible for feeding, bathing and dressing the children, and monitoring their play. Child care workers play a vital role in helping children's development, and encouraging them to understand themselves and other people. They are also often required to maintain records on the medicines and meals given to the children, as well as other relevant activities. Other child-related jobs include early Continue Reading

5 Ways to Stay out of the Hair of a Combative Coworker

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The workplace is crawling with a menagerie of characters. The quiet one in the corner who only comes alive at the office Christmas party. The “Good Morning!” guy, the dude who is way too loud and boisterous for 8 o’clock in the morning. And the one with a chip on their shoulder and a persecution complex, always itching for an argument. That erratic behavior may seem irrational, but it can sometimes be an actual strategy, developed over years to keep people at bay. Angry outbursts and aggressive behavior can provide a substantial defense shield for the insecure. That is generally what you are up against when faced with a contentious colleague. Here are some strategies for dealing with that type of headache. Embrace the Inane Small talk may be the last thing you want to engage in with anyone, be it your morning coffee connection or your co-worker. But embracing and getting better at the art of talking about nothing can keep you in a decent relationship with even the most backstabby Continue Reading

Mind All Over the Map? Here Is How I Focus

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Focus is an elusive attainment. When you notice that you are concentrating, that very thought will take you away from task you are supposed to be concentrating on. “Wow, I haven’t wanted to check my RSS feed in a long time. Almost 15 minutes!” you think as your mind wanders away from the Excel sheet on your monitor. Bringing your attention back to your work is essential, whether you want to get ahead or just get everything done so work thoughts don’t creep into your head after-hours. But there are ways to control your mind, at least to some extent. Breathe deep and dive in with me: No, really. Breathe deep! Think that yoga is just for suburban housewives? Think again. Learning to control your breath can bring you a certain amount of control over all your systems. It can clear your mind and allow you to focus on the task at hand. Don’t trust me? Then listen to the yogis: proper breathing is key. Continue Reading

The Worst and Best Things to Say to Your Boss

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Your boss holds enormous power over you. A lot of sway when it comes to your salary, your daily duties and your future prospects. All of which means you really need to manage that relationship. Every word you say has the potential to launch you into upper middle management or sink you to the depths of the unemployed. So, no pressure, right? Now that you’re nice and relaxed, let’s go over what are the worst and best things to say to your immediate supervisor: Worst “You are an undermining character with no scruples and I am convinced that you want me to get you coffee for the rest of my working life.” Best “I have learned a lot from you, but I want to try to transfer to another department. I think it is the best choice for both of us.” Sometimes moving on is the best option for both you and your overlord. You get to breathe again and they get to suck the youthful energy out of another unsuspecting, eager entry-level analyst. It may be tough to pull it off, but best for your sanity Continue Reading

Using Technology to Create a Fun Business Meeting

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Business and staff meetings are not something that many members of the workforce look forward too. While these meetings are important in order to keep a company running smoothly, they are not always fun for those who have to participate in them. However, business owners and managers can now integrate technology based solutions into these traditional gatherings. Blue Jeans  allows clients to purchase the technology to create a fun meeting through video conferencing and cloud based solutions. Owners can also invest in mobile technology that allows the meetings to take place no matter where the owner or staff members are located. Benefits of a Fun Meeting The benefits of a fun meeting are numerous both for those involved in the meeting and the person or group of people running it. Fun meetings can result in happier workers. Happier workers are known to be more productive then workers who may not be pleased. The meeting will seem to go faster. Remember the class in school that Continue Reading

6 Signs You Are in the Wrong Career

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You wake up dreading each day at the office (or in the classroom, or behind the wheel of the bus, or behind the bar). That dread can be a clue that you are doing exactly what you shouldn’t be doing. No matter how you obtain that much-needed paycheck, being in the wrong job can have deleterious effects on your psyche, relationships and physical health. Here are 6 signals you might be in the wrong profession. The alarm clock induces a miserable feeling. If you can’t open your eyes at 6 am without being bombarded with anxiety about website performance and your sysadmin duties, it is probably time to explore your passion for pottery. On that note… Midnight musings are centered on your professional purgatory. Waking up in the middle of the night sucks, but it’s worse if that time is filled with visions of interdepartmental monthly meetings filled with droning speakerphones and sanctimonious colleagues, it should send you right home to sell all of your used goods and start that rainy day Continue Reading

How to Stand Out Above the Crowd

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There are few hurdles that both brick and mortar stores and eCommerce sites have to cross in order to become successful. The largest of the common hurdles is marketing. It doesn’t matter if you are having a bake sale or are trying to profit from your creative clothing designs, marketing is essential to your success. Potential website visitors need to know that you exist and where they can find you in order to become your customers. Creating an Eye Catching Website Prior to your first batch of product going into production, it is important to understand how to market a product online. After all, even the most impressive product ever will not turn a profit, if nobody can find it. One of the most important aspects to consider for your online marketing plan is the design and functionality of your company’s website. It is after all the page you want potential clients to find when they search for your type of product or service. Designing a successful eCommerce page combines some of Continue Reading

No Website? No Problem! Why You Should Start One Today

Does the thought of creating a website make you break out into a sweat? Maybe you have operated a successful business for years, but your foot traffic has slowed down considerably lately. You have not raised your prices and you are still providing the same great service, so why is your business sinking? Could it be that your competition has a website, but you don't? Maybe you already know that you desperately need one, but do not even know where to begin. Well, believe it or not, building an attractive, professional, and user-friendly site that will benefit your business is not as difficult as you think. Continue Reading