May 2nd, 2016

If you haven’t tried yet, you’re in for a treat. Fiverr is a global online marketplace where freelancers offer to perform an amazing variety of tasks and services, starting at just $5.00.

Need a whiteboard-style video for your website? A new logo? Help creating a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation? Then you need to check out Fiverr.

To get started, just go to And for best results, follow these five rules:

1. Steer clear of bad gigs – Buying hundreds of backlinks for your website might sound cool… Then again, you might be in for a nasty surprise. If a gig seems fake, it just might be… Find another gig.

2. Shop around – Compare different sellers and use the “Favorites” feature to build a shopping list before you buy.

3. Examine closely – Check reviews, response time, number of gigs completed and gig details. Questions? Ask the seller before buying.

4. Communicate clearly – Save time by spelling out in exact detail what you want in your order.

5. Accept nothing less than perfection – Top sellers are often happy to make revisions until you’re happy.

Okay? Ready, set…go save a boatload on your first Fiverr gig!

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May 1st, 2016

“Everyone looks so much better when they smile.” – Jimmy Fallon, host of the legendary The Tonight Show

What a meteoric ride Jimmy Fallon has had to the top!

How did this son of an IBM machine repairman get to the chair once occupied by maybe the most legendary figure in comedy TV for 30 years straight, Johnny Carson?

He did it through exceptional networking.
In the span of about five years, Jimmy went from a Saturday Night Live alum, unsuccessfully navigating Hollywood, to a late-night star and host of NBC’s The Tonight Show, one of the most respected franchises in entertainment. This did not happen by accident…

Fallon’s meteoric rise is partly due to his intense focus on developing relationships with people who could advance his career.

Another key? Fallon worked his butt off.
While still a computer-science major at Albany’s College of Saint Rose, he performed comedy at small clubs and obsessed about the comedy industry.

Through a connection with his former employer at a New York alternative newsweekly, his audition tape reached Hollywood agent Randi Siegel, who had ins with the crowd at Saturday Night Live.

Siegel found 21-year-old Fallon’s performance to be charmingly amateur, but she could see that he was naturally talented. She gave him a call and was surprised to hear, after introducing herself, “Randi Siegel! I know who you are!”

Randi was so impressed by his knowledge of the comedy industry and enthusiasm that she agreed to take him on as a client. With Siegel’s connections, Fallon was able to eventually get hired as a cast member with SNL in 1998.

At SNL he developed the relationship that would define his career.
The show’s creator, Lorne Michaels, is so powerful and respected in the industry that cast members are often intimidated by him. As a rookie, Fallon was no different, but he wanted to befriend Michaels. So after every show, he went over to Michaels and thanked him for the show.

Michaels developed a rare friendship with Fallon. Following the drama of Conan O’Brien’s short stint as host of The Tonight Show, Michaels decided that his trusted Fallon would take the renowned position.

Fallon made a point of connecting with former Tonight Show host Jay Leno and would ask for advice. Leno said, “Most people in show business think they know everything. They don’t really listen to the other person. ‘Respectful’ is the best word I can use for Jimmy.”

His approach worked.
Since starting in February 2014, Fallon has attracted around 4 million viewers each night, with a much higher share of the 18-49 demographic than his predecessor.

What Fallon did is a) he worked hard (let’s not forget that), and b) he networked brilliantly by asking questions of others, listening, acting on their advice, showing gratitude and being a genuinely good human being.

So, who are three connections you dream of networking with in order to boost your success?

Guest article provided by:

Darren Hardy is the visionary force behind SUCCESS magazine as the Founding Publisher and Editor, and is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of what has been called “the modern day Think and Grow Rich”: The Compound Effect—Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success ( and the world-wide movement to onboard 10 million new entrepreneurs through his latest book The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster–Why Now is the Time to #JoinTheRide ( Access Darren: and get free daily mentoring:

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April 30th, 2016

Read This eBook To Discover:

  • What VoIP is, how it works, and why the phone company may force you to switch to a VoIP phone within the next 3-4 years.
  • 4 different ways to implement VoIP and why you should never use 3 of them for a business phone system.
  • Hidden costs with certain VoIP systems that can negate any cost-savings you might gain on your phone bill.
  • 7 revealing questions to ask any VoIP salesperson to cut through the hype, half-truths, and “little white lies” they’ll tell you to make the sale.

Claim Your FREE Copy Today at


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April 29th, 2016

In less than 60 seconds, you are about to learn 10 things that could save you days – or even weeks – of downtime, not to mention the undue stress on your company, and potentially thousands of dollars lost, due to a data disaster…

Use this article as your checklist in a conversation with your IT consultant to assure that your business has the right plan in place to get back up and running quickly if and when disaster strikes.

1. Keep a written plan. Simply thinking through in ADVANCE what needs to happen when things go south on you, and documenting it, can go a long way toward getting your network back up and running quickly if it gets hacked, flooded, or compromised by human error or equipment failure.

Outline the types of disasters that could happen, and a step-by-step recovery process. Be sure to include a budget, what to do, who should do it, and how. Store printed copies along with key contact information and login details for essential websites 1) in a fireproof safe, 2) offsite at your home, 3) at each key employee’s home and 4) with your IT consultant.

2. Hire a trusted professional to help you. Trying to recover data after a disaster without professional help is business suicide. One misstep can result in weeks of downtime, or permanent data loss. To improve your odds of a quick recovery, work with a pro who has experience in both setting up your plan and helping you recover when a loss occurs.

3. Have a communications plan. What if your employees can’t access your office, e-mail or phone system – how should they communicate with you? Make sure your plan details the alternatives, including MULTIPLE ways to stay in touch.

4. Automate your backups. THE #1 cause of data loss is human error. If your backup system depends on a human being doing something, it’s a recipe for disaster. ALWAYS automate your backups so they run like clockwork.

5. Keep an offsite backup copy of your data. Onsite backups are a good first step, but if they get flooded, burned, or hacked along with your server, you’re out of luck. ALWAYS maintain a recent copy of your data offsite.

6. Be able to access and manage your network remotely. You and your staff will be able to keep working if they can’t get into your office. Your IT manager or consultant can quickly handle an emergency or routine maintenance. And you’ll love the convenience!

7. Image your server. Storing your data offsite is great – but bear in mind, if your system goes down, the software and architecture that handles all that data must be RESTORED for it to be of any use. Imaging your server creates a replica of the original, saving you an enormous amount of time and energy in getting your network back in gear. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about losing your preferences, configurations, or favorites.

8. Document your network. Network documentation is simply a blueprint of the software, data, systems, and hardware that comprise your company’s network. Let your IT manager or consultant create this for you. It’ll save you time and money in the event your network needs to be restored.

It also speeds up everyday repairs and maintenance on your network when technicians don’t have to waste time figuring out where things are and how they’re configured. Plus, it may help with insurance claims in the event of losses due to a disaster.

9. Maintain your system. While fires, flooding, and other natural disasters are certainly a risk, it’s ever more likely that you’ll experience downtime due to a virus, worm, or hacker attack. That’s why it’s critical to keep your network patched, secure, and up-to-date. And don’t forget: deteriorating hardware and corrupted software can wipe you out. Replace and update them as needed to steer clear of this threat.

10. Test, test, test! If you’re going to go to the trouble of setting up a plan, at least make sure it works! Hire an IT pro to test monthly to make sure your systems work properly and your data is secure. After all, the worst time to test your parachute is AFTER you jump out of the plane.

Need help getting this Disaster Recovery Plan implemented?

Contact us for a FREE Backup & Disaster Recovery Audit.

Topic Newsletter
April 29th, 2016

Hate waiting for pages to load on your smartphone? There’s an “AMP” for that.

And no, that’s not a misspelling of “app”…it’s an acronym for Accelerated Mobile Pages. As you may have noticed, there’s a little problem with the mobile web… You click a link on your smartphone, eager to consume the content… What shows up is a spastic jumble of jerky images, videos and ads as the page loads…eventually…if you care to wait. (40% of people bail after three seconds.) Google’s new AMP Project aims to fix that. “AMPed” pages load almost instantly with simple, easy-to-consume format. To see it for yourself, pull our your smartphone and visit

– Copyblogger

Virtual Reality – Useless gimmick, or valuable marketing tool for your business?

According to investment firm Piper Jaffray, there will be $5.4 billion worth of virtual reality devices on the market by 2025. The uses for small business are limited only by imagination. A roofing company, for instance, could, with this technology, give their prospective customers a live virtual tour of their roof, demonstrating its condition and places where they need to replace shingles – without having to climb up on it. A roofer could also show a prospective customer what various colored shingles would actually look like on the roof by placing a hologram on it. Think VR is some far-fetched future techno-dream? Pull out your smartphone and check out “Monocle” on the Yelp app.


Encryption in The Cloud – How safe is your data?

Cloud technology can add a whole new layer of protection to your data backup system. However, it’s important to recognize that there’s one key difference between cloud service providers that will determine how safe your data is. When stored data – aka “data at rest” (vs. data in transit) – is encrypted, some cloud services keep the decryption key in their software. If hackers get that key, they can get your data. That’s why it’s important when selecting a cloud service provider to be informed about their security measures. before choosing, compare encryption methods. It pays to know that your company’s digital property is safe – and will be there when you need it.


Laptop, Tablet…Or 2-in-1?

Are you toting around two devices – a laptop to get serious work done and a tablet for a little Baldur’s Gate or Facebook action? If you’re in the market for a new laptop or tablet, it’s time to consider getting a 2-in-1. Like an SUV or Swiss Army knife, 2-in-1’s offer supreme versatility. Windows 10 was built for these machines, and with prices, power and battery life now falling in line with laptops, you can save time, money and weight with a 2-in1. Unless you’re a high-end gamer or graphics pro, you owe it to yourself to check out the latest versions of these new mobile gadgets.

– Laptop Mag

Topic Newsletter
April 1st, 2016

More Glitches Ahead

Software bugs have been around for a while now. But with so much new technology going online—often without sufficient testing—the interactions are getting harder to predict. A glitch grounded 5,000 United Airlines planes for two hours. Other glitches have halted trading at the New York Stock Exchange. And a glitch at Netflix caused this off summary: This Disney film follows a gentle, crippled bell ringer as he faces prejudice and tries to save the eyes of individual dinosaurs.” Unlike software bugs, which can be tested and corrected, glitches happen when technology breaks in unexpected ways. Bottom line? No need to abandon technology—just monitor systems and communicate with IT managers more frequently.   – Harvard Business Review

Naturally Successful People “Sprint,” Then Relax

An American schoolteacher who moved to Finland in 2014 was skeptical of the Finnish practice of giving students 15 minutes of free time every hour. Until he tried it. He was astounded when they wernt from dragging their feet to having a bounce in their step and more focus in their studies. The makers of DeskTime, a software that tracks employee time use, studied the habits of the most productive 10% of their 36,000-employee user base. The surprising results? They work for 52 minutes like a sprint. During the break they tend to go for a walk or a tune out, rather than checking e-mail or Facebook.   – Reader’s Digest

Your Tech: Productive…Or Distracting?

With constantly evolving technologies, it’s getting harder to know where your time is best spent. To help you stay on track, here are three questions to ask about any situation in your business where technology is involved. 1) Who’s the right person to handle this? For example, let your IT partners help employees with tech support questions. 2) Will this save us time and money? Cloud-based productivity solutions, for example, can give you firm access to the resources of big IT without the need to build it yourself. 3) Is this making your job easier or harder? Syncing devices, for instance, could free you and your sales force from the desk to meet with customers.   – Entrepreneur

What’s Your Business Missing By Not Accepting Bitcoin?

Here’s what you need to know: on the plus side, bitcoin allows direct transactions between end users and product or service providers. That makes it fast and free from transaction fees. It’s also extremely difficult to counterfeit, and virtually guarantees user anonymity and security. And promoting that you accept it could enable you to tap into a lucrative demographic. On the other hand, since bitcoins aren’t maintained by a single repository, daily exchange rates can fluctuate rapidly. A bitcoin payment you accepted yesterday could be worth half as much today. That, along with a lack of regulatory oversight and ambivalence toward bitcoin by the U.S. Treasury Dept, suggests a wait-and-see approach.   – CBS Pulse

Topic Newsletter
March 31st, 2016

Basic RGBSo, what’s about the size of a deck of cards and prints instant photos from your smartphone – with no ink needed?

Yes, there is such a thing, and if you guessed the new Polaroid Zip, you’d be right.

Selling for $129.99, it prints full-color 2×3-inch prints with an optional peel-off sticky backing. Each print costs about 25 cents and they look okay, all things considered – just don’t expect ink-jet print quality.

How does it not need ink? It uses Polaroid’s Zink zero-ink paper, embedded with cyan, yellow and magenta crystals. They turn into the appropriate colors when activated by a heat process. And since there’s no ink, there’s no stickiness, smearing or waiting for photos to dry.

Connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth, then just shoot and print!


Topic Newsletter
March 30th, 2016

A while back I did a huge favor for someone and never heard anything from them… Zip, zilch, nada, nothing. Just a simple “thank you” would have been nice…but they acted as if it was expected of me. To say that I was disappointed is putting it mildly.

To me, disappointed is a very powerful and scary word. You see, disappointed can turn into other “dis” words, such as disgruntled, discouraged, disenthralled, disillusioned, disheartened and possibly even dissatisfied with our current personal or business relationship. I might start noticing that this relationship (business or personal) is really all about YOU and how YOU can benefit; the words reciprocation or gratitude don’t seem to be in your vocabulary.

Everyone likes to be remembered, thanked or appreciated for doing favors, going above and beyond, being courteous, considerate, thoughtful or kind. Being “taken for granted” stinks. Forgetting to show any kind of appreciation for someone who did something for you…that they didn’t have to do…can end up causing you problems later on. You will never know when someday you may need a helping hand, and all those people you took for granted and/or never thanked might NOT be so readily available to help you out.

Francesca Gino, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, did some research on gratitude and looked at 41 fundraisers at a university, all receiving a fixed salary. The director visited half of the fund-raisers in person, telling them, “I am very grateful for your hard work. We sincerely appreciate your contributions to the university.” The second group received no such expressions of gratitude. What was the impact of the director’s thanks? Gino said that “the expression of gratitude increased the number of calls by more than 50%” for the week, while fund-raisers who received no thanks made about the same number of calls as the previous week.

Organizations and leaders who miss chances to express gratitude lose opportunities to motivate people that actually cost them nothing. Simply stated: gratitude is free and profitable. People may not show that they are upset about not being thanked…but when the time comes for them to help YOU out again, they may just be a little too busy that day. You can transform your relationships, business, and personal life with the Power of Gratitude! Never underestimate the power of a “thank-you” and never pass up on the opportunity to say those two words.

“It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy.”
– Anonymous

Guest article provided by:

Author Robert Stevenson 2Robert Stevenson is a highly sought after, internationally known speaker. He is the author of the best-selling books How to Soar Like An Eagle in a World Full of Turkeys and 52 Essential Habits For Success. Robert is a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and is a former All-American Athlete. He started his first business at 24 and has owned several companies. Robert has international sales experience dealing in over 20 countries, and his client list reads like a Who’s Who in Business. He has shared the podium with such renowned names as Generals Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf, former President George H.W. Bush, Anthony Robbins and Steven Covey.

Topic Newsletter
March 29th, 2016

ITbuyersguide_reportmockup_300dpiYou will learn:

  • The 3 most common ways IT services companies charge for their services, and the pros and cons of each approach.
  • A common billing model that puts ALL THE RISK on you, the customer, when buying IT services; you’ll learn what it is and why you need to avoid agreeing to it.
  • Exclusions, hidden fees and other “gotcha” clauses IT companies put in their contracts that you DON’T want to agree to.
  • How to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting to avoid disappointment, frustration, and added costs later on that you didn’t anticipate.

Claim Your FREE Copy Today at


Topic Newsletter
March 28th, 2016

candy in cloudsSecure data backup, greater reliability, better resource and growth management options, and improved collaboration are just a few of the reasons to take full advantage of cloud computing today.

Yet understanding the choices you have can help you avoid some VERY costly mistakes you could wind up seriously regretting later. To help you move forward with confidence, here are some important points to consider.

Three “Flavors” Of The Cloud

Not all cloud models are the same. A cloud environment that works for a dental practice with a half dozen locations may not be entirely suitable for a new law firm with just a single office.
In determining what the best cloud model is for your organization, it’s important to know how cloud services are structured.

Basically, there are three types of cloud: public, private, and hybrid.

Public Cloud Services Offer Flexibility And Lower Cost

A public cloud comprises a collection of data storage and software services that can be accessed on an as-needed monthly basis, somewhat like an electric utility or fitness club. It houses data facilities outside the corporate firewall that you access through an Internet browser without having to make any initial or ongoing capital investment.

Well-known examples of public cloud services include Google Drive, Microsoft Office Online, Apple iCloud and Amazon Cloud Drive. They provide data storage and, in many cases, web apps.

Public clouds are best used where a high level of privacy is not required. They can provide access to a growing pool of newer technologies that would not be affordable if developed individually.

Private Clouds Support Highly Specialized Apps

A private cloud resides within an organization’s firewall, and is typically owned, managed, and supported by that business. IT resources are available to members of the organization from their own data center.

Private clouds can support highly specialized and/or privacy-restricted applications, like medical-records software for a health-care organization concerned about HIPPA requirements, for example.

And, while it can be more expensive to set up initially, a private cloud may deliver a higher ROI in the long run since you’re not paying for ongoing shared services.

Hybrid Clouds: Balancing   Complexity With Flexibility

Merging the flexibility of public cloud services with the control of a private cloud, a hybrid cloud can provide the ideal infrastructure for some organizations.

A hybrid cloud enables you to put some of your apps and data – archives and e-mail, for instance – in a public cloud, and the remainder in your private cloud. This provides the cost savings and benefits of the public cloud while retaining the customization and security advantages of a private cloud.

While it can be more complex to deploy and manage than a pure public or private cloud, a hybrid cloud may deliver the best blend of control, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness for some organizations.

So Which “Flavor” Is Right For You?

There is no perfect solution – each type of cloud has its own pros and cons. That being said, here are a few key factors to consider when determining the best approach for your particular business:

>  Public cloud solutions are best suited to the flexibility and budget requirements of smaller businesses that want access to the kind of IT resources that bigger organizations can afford, without the cost of development and ongoing support and management.

>  A private cloud, managed and supported by an in-house IT team, may be ideal for your organization if control and privacy are of paramount concern.

>  A hybrid cloud could be the ideal solution for any enterprise that wants to manage sensitive data in-house while availing itself of third-party software and data storage for uses where the data involved isn’t as sensitive.

How To Get The Best Professional Help

While hiring a cloud-computing expert can prove extremely beneficial in the long run, it’s critical to work with a professional who has depth of experience in all types of cloud environments.

We’ve helped Bay Area companies set up and run cost-effective, powerful and secure cloud networks.

For a Free Cloud Readiness Assessment,  contact us at (408) 483-1881 or email [email protected]

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