Clips and Links to Clips


Here are a few articles and links to articles that I’ve published the last couple of years. The format is still a bit wonky, so consider this a work in progress. I’ll add to this page as I find more clips I want to share.  If you are interested in using my services, feel free to email me at kafrancis1969 (at) yahoo (dot) (com).

Links To Articles

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/role-accounting-start-up-business-44.html

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/goals-business-communication-113.html

http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2010/05/13/jobituary/

http://www.mademan.com/mm/10-signs-she-not-you.html

http://www.interactmedia.com/seo-copywriting-blog/bid/64644/5-Tips-For-Creating-Killer-SEO-Content

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-connection-between-alzheimers-and-memory.htm

Miscellaneous Articles

Learning Styles

No two students learn alike. Some students prefer hands on training, while others like to listen to lectures and directions provided by the educator. Tailoring a teaching style to a leaner’s style will improve the student’s performance and reflect well on the educator professionally.

Types of Learning Styles

There are three type of learning styles.

Kinesthetic, or tactile learners like to learn by doing.

  • Active and like to take frequent breaks
  • find reasons to fidget and move about while learning
  • rely on what they can experience
  • prefer a hands-on learning style

Auditory learners learn by listening.

  • They prefer to listen to lectures,
  • hum when they are bored
  • like to read aloud
  • take notes and absorb the material.

Visual learners learn my watching and envisioning tasks.

  • tend to sit in the front
  • find things to focus on when bored
  • prefer presentations with color and graphics

Some learners are a combination of the three, but normally one of the learning styles is the dominate style.

Testing for Learning Styles

Testing to determine a student’s learning style consists of having a student answer several questions pertaining to how they like to learn. Some tests are more complex than others, but as long as the pertinent questions are asked, an educator can figure out his students’ learning styles. Once the educator has this information, he can tailor his teaching curriculum to include all the styles to suit his student.

Learning Style Tests

Here are a couple of free resources for testing for student’s learning styles.

Penn State University

http://www.personal.psu.edu/bxb11/LSI/LSI.htm

24-question test which can be taken on the webpage. The student answers the questions and then presses “Submit.” He style is determined and there are explanations about each style under the exam.

Learning Style Online

http://www.learning-styles-online.com/inventory/

One of the more detailed learning style inventory exams on the Internet, the exam takes roughly a half-hour to complete. Upon completion, the student will receive a detailed analysis and advice and tools to adapt their learning style to their school environment.

Wright State University

http://www.wright.edu/~carole.endres/learnstyles.htm

The test has 13 questions, and the student should pick the answer that best suits them. Each response as a letter assigned to it: K for kinesthetic, A for auditory and V for visual. At the end of the exam, the student tally the number of responses he has to each letter, the highest number of one letter designates which learning style best suits the student.

LDPride

http://www.ldpride.net/learningstyles.MI.htm

Learning style inventory exam.

Why Is Knowing a Learning Style Important

A student who is frustrated in school could be that way because his learning style is not being engaged. Although the traditional teaching method is lecture, with some visual and audory aids thrown in, an educator that can adapt to meet the needs of her student swill be a much more effective educator. Some educator balk at the idea of changing their teaching habits. They give reasons such as:

  • They are convinced they know what is best because they have been teaching a a period of time.
  • They do not want to change their teaching methods out of pride.
  • They aren’t sure how to adapt.

All educators need to do everything they can to instruct their students the best way possible, and this might mean adapting to a new teaching style. Assessing student by administering a learning style inventory will accomplish that. And the bottom line is that all students deserve the best education possible.

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Why You Should Love Karl

Meet Karl. Karl is a nice guy. He’s married and has two kids. He coaches for his son’s little league team and is the Vice President of the PTA. For all intents and purposes, Karl is just your average guy.

But Karl also has a secret. He’s not just your ordinary guy who goes to work and comes home to his family every night. Karl, in many ways, is a superhero.

Karl is an insurance guy.

Now, before your eyes glaze over and you scoff at the idea, think about it. When your car rolls into a lake or lightning strikes your house, after 911, who do you call? Who do you depend on to help you sort it all out?

Uh huh. You call Karl or one of the other 400,000-plus insurance agents in the United States (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010).

Not convinced? Here’s an example. Let’s say you fall in love with a house in Brentwood, all four bedrooms, three baths’ worth. Are you really going to write a check for 10 percent down and get a mortgage for the balance without insuring it? Of course, with a mortgage, you’re legally obligated to do as much, but this is a job for Karl. He can research the available coverages and find you the best rates that you can afford. Karl’s a pretty good guy for doing that. Now, let’s say the unthinkable happens. You’ve got friends and family over for a barbeque. A stray ember catches the wind and ignites the curtains, and before you know it, your beautiful Brentwood home is ablaze. The house isn’t destroyed, but it’s going to take more than your checking account balance to fix it. Who ya gonna call?

Karl!

Getting the point?

Karl, the insurance guy is the one who has the power to take you from a bad situation and make it better.

When your policies are up for renewal, Karl finds you a better rate. You love Karl.

When your car breaks down on the 405 and the tow to your mechanic in West Los Angeles is free, you love Karl because you let him talk you into getting the tow rider.

When your nosy neighbor slips on your driveway and sues you, Karl informs you that your insurance will cover her medical bills. Again, you love Karl.

Karl is your hero. And unlike some superheroes, you don’t have to put a signal into the air. A simple phone call will do.

So, the next time you see Karl, pat him on the back and buy him a cup of coffee. And review your policies while you’re at it.

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Business Articles

How To Buy a Short Sale Home

Buying a home with negative equity (also known as a short sale) can be a challenge. Many times, the homeowners are behind on their mortgage and trying to sell the house to avoid foreclosure. This can cause the homeowners to do things that are not necessarily in the best interest of the buyer. However, with some research and patience, buying a home with negative equity can mean a substantial savings for the buyer.

Step 1

Determine whether the home has bank preapproval for the sale. For a short sale to be completed, not only do the buyer and seller have to agree on a price, the mortgage holder (the bank or mortgage company) has to agree to the terms as well. The mortgage lender is essentially being asked to take a loss on the sale, so when seeking a short sale home, it is safer to go with a home that already has approval from the lender.

Step 2

Be prepared to make a cash offer. Short sales are most successful when the potential buyer has the money on hand to pay the lender. In some cases a preapproval will be sufficient, but it is best to have financing in place before making an offer.

Step 3

Get an inspection. Most short sale homes are sold “as is.” so the inspection will not lead to negotiations about repairs to the home. However, an inspection will determine exactly what it is you are getting for your money. Legally, a homeowner is required to list defects when selling a home, so an inspection will also ensure that the seller is being truthful about the condition of the home.

Step 4

Be patient. After a price has been agreed upon, the mortgage holder has to agree to the amount and terms of the new mortgage agreement. This process can take some time, from a few weeks to a few months. Also, the lender may make a counteroffer, and that offer might not be agreeable for the buyer.

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Empowered in 2013 & Beyond: Helpful Assistance Programs for Women in Business

We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s a man’s world.” At one point in our history, men were the business owners and the chief breadwinners. If women worked, it was in careers such as teaching, nursing or cosmetology. And for the most part, women were employees, not owners. But the tide is turning. According to SBA Administrator Karen Mills, 30 percent of all businesses are owned by women, and the revenue from the companies top 1.2 trillion annually. From childcare to technology, women are blazing a trail in business ownership. This increase in female-led enterprises has spawned a sector of lending and assistance programs which cater specifically to women in business.

Types of Programs Available for Women

Women have always had the entrepreneurial spirit, but financing for women in business can still be hard to attain. The assistance programs below are specifically tailored for women that want to start or build their small businesses.

  • 8 (a) Business Development – The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a nine-year program to help women succeed in business. In a mentor-mentee type setting, the program is broken down into two parts: Years one through four are the development stage. Mentors help new business owners navigate though start-up and growth of a new business. Years five through nine is the transition stage, where mentors help a business which has made it through the first tough years to continue to thrive. Having access to an experience business owner who has “been there” is invaluable.
  • Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Concern (SDVOBC) – Also formed by the SBA, this program helps disabled veteran business owners procure contracts in both the public and private sector. If you are a female and you were disabled while serving in the military, the programs for women offered could be of great benefit.
  • WOSB Federal Contract Program – The Women Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program is an offshoot of the Women Owned Small Business designation offered by the SBA. The assistance programs allow contracting officers for federally funded projects to set aside a certain number of contracts for women-owned businesses. To be eligible for this program, a business must first be classified as a WOSB. To qualify as a WOSB, the business must have a woman or women who hold at least 51-percent ownership, be a US citizen and be classified as a small business by the SBA.
  • HUBZone – This program was developed to help women-owned small businesses that are located in underrepresented areas gain government contracts. So, if your business is based in Walla Walla, Washington, and you wish to bid on a government contract, this program can help you be as competitive as a company in Chicago or Philadelphia.
  • Womens Business Development Center – If you are a woman with a business in the midwest, this organization’s assistance programs have a wealth of information, contract leads and tools to help you grow your businesses. In December of 2012, they also became a micro-lender for women-owned small businesses.

How These Assistance Programs Help

Owning a business is not easy. Sometimes you need help to stay afloat, whether you are a new business or an already established one. The assistance programs listed above can help with all aspects of business ownership, such as attaining financing, networking with other women business owners and finding sounding boards for new ideas. Your business does not operate in a vacuum, so as its owner, you shouldn’t isolate yourself, either. Take advantage of these programs for women and help your business succeed.

 Assistance Programs for Women in Business

Women currently own 30 percent of all businesses enterprises, yet financing and advice can be hard to find. These programs women start and stay in business.

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Can My Vehicle Be Exempt From Chapter 7 If It Is Paid For?

When you file for chapter 7 bankruptcy, a court-appointed creditor representative, referred to as a bankruptcy trustee, can order the sale of your personal possessions to pay your creditors. However, there are exceptions to what can be sold. These exceptions are called exemptions, and their type and value vary by state. If you want to keep your car after filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must determine if your vehicle meets an exemption rule.

Value of Vehicle

Before you can determine if it is possible to keep your car, you must know its value. Websites such as Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds let you enter information about your car, such as the make, model, amenities and general condition, and will give you an estimate of your car’s worth. Another option is to take it to a dealership and ask how much they would give you for trade-in value. You can also check classifieds both in the newspaper and online for cars that are the same make and model of your own to get an idea of the sales prices.

Vehicle Exemption

Every state offers property exemptions for people filing for bankruptcy. The type, amount and method of application varies. One such exemption is a vehicle exemption. Not every state offers one, but in states that do, a vehicle that is less than or equal to the amount of the exemption is protected from creditors. For example, Delaware has a $15,000 exemption on vehicles used for employment purposes. Most states, however, offer an exemption between $1,500 and $5,000.

Less Than Exemption

If your car is worth less than the exemption in your state, the car is automatically safe from being sold to pay creditors. For example, Alaska offers a vehicle exemption of $3,900. Therefore, if you own your car free and clear and it has a Kelley Blue Book value of $3,000, then the car falls within the exemption and is protected from creditors. It is not included in the asset list to pay financial obligations, and the bankruptcy trustee cannot order you to sell it to pay creditors.

More Than Exemption

Continuing with the Alaska example, if you own your car free and clear and it has a Kelley Blue Book value of $5,000, your car is worth more than the $3,900 exemption Alaska allows. The bankruptcy trustee could order you to sell the car. You would retain the amount up to the exemption and the remainder would be used to pay creditors.

Homestead Exemption

If your car is not completely covered by the vehicle exemption in your state, you may still retain ownership of the vehicle through the Homestead Exemption. The exemption is for property such as a home or land. If you do not own a home, or your home is covered by the Homestead Exemption, but has a remainder, the remainder is applied to your car. For example, the vehicle exemption in Alaska is $3,900 and the Homestead Exemption is $70,200. You own a home with $60,000 in equity and your car’s Kelley Blue Book value is $10,000. After the $3,900 exemption is applied, it is still overvalued by $6,100 and therefore is not exempt from being sold to pay creditors. However, since you have $10,200 left over from your Homestead Exemption ($70,200 minus $60,000), this amount can be applied to the remaining $6,100 equity of the car. This makes the car exempt from creditors.

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Examples of Business Letters That Deliver Bad News (Bright Hub article)

Article by  KAFrancis

Although it is not the best part of business, sometimes bad news has to be given to people and other businesses. However, writing the letter does not have to be torture. This article gives examples of ways to deliver the bad news so it is at least easier to take.

Bad news is as much a part of business as balance sheets and finding new customers. It is the reality of business: not every transaction will go well. Business relationships run their course. Not everyone can be hired. Delivering bad news is not a pleasant experience, but there are ways to lessen the impact and avoid burning bridges. We have included some bad news business letter examples below.

 When delivering bad news to employees or customers, it is important to soften the blow as much as possible. This is one of the few times in business writing when burying the lede is recommended. Most bad news letters consist of three parts, with each part being a paragraph. The first paragraph is used to provide a positive feeling about the letter. The second paragraph presents the bad news. The third paragraph offers any alternatives or solutions that might be available to the reader. We have broken down our bad news business letter examples in the three sections below.

First Paragraph

Use the first paragraph to thank the reader. For example, if the reader was a  job applicant that was not hired, the first sentence could state:

“Thank you for your application to XYZ. We had many qualified applicants and we gave your application careful consideration. As you are aware, there were only a handful of positions, therefore the hiring decision was that much more difficult.”

If the reader is a vendor whose services you will no longer be using, a sentence such as this could be generated:

“We have enjoyed a positive and profitable working relationship between [reader’s company name] and XYZ. Over the last ____ years, we have found your company to be a great help in fulfilling our clients’ needs. Your assistance has been invaluable.”

For a reader that applied for credit with your company, the first sentence could read:

“Thank you for your recent application for credit with us. We thoroughly reviewed your application and gave it careful consideration.”

The key to the first paragraph is to make the reader feel as if their time, service and patronage was appreciated.

Second Paragraph

Delivering bad news is akin to removing a Band-Aid. It is better to remove it with one steady motion. At this point, there is no reason to not to get straight to the point. Using the examples from above, the second paragraph could read something like this:

Job applicant: “Although we were impressed with your qualifications and skills, we have chosen a different candidate for the position.”

Vendor: “As you are aware, the economic climate is changing, and therefore we are forced to examine our current needs. Although we have enjoyed a successful working relationship in the past, we find that we are no longer in need of your services. This is no reflection of the quality of your goods — we are simply going in a different direction.”

Credit Application: “Unfortunately, we are unable to extend credit to you at this time.”

It is best not to explain more than you have to. That approach could be construed as adding insult to injury to the reader.

Third Paragraph

Offer any alternative, solutions or suggestions you might have. Again, using the examples above:

Job applicant: “We will keep your application on file for six months and contact you if it is a match for another position. We appreciate your interest in XYZ and wish you well on your job search. Feel free to visit our job board anytime.”

Vendor: “We greatly regret the ending of our working relationship. If the current situation changes, we will gladly contact your company in hopes of resuming our use of your services. We wish your company continued success.”

Credit Application: If in a few months you would like to reapply for credit, we would welcome the opportunity to review your application. Until then, best wishes.”

By giving the reader options, even though the reader is disappointed, it provides something to reach for in the future.

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FTC Rules Upfront Payment For Debt Settlement Companies Is Illegal

For years, when you contracted with a debt settlement company for assistance with dealing with creditors, you were required to make an upfront payment to the settlement company. The fee was so the company could get started working on your case, and would have funds available to use for negotiations with your creditors.

But far too often, the debt settlement companies were unable to work out a plan with creditors, and the person seeking relief was back where they started with their creditors, if not in a worse position, since most debt settlement companies advise their customers to not continue to pay creditors during negotiations. This meant that instead of just being responsible for the past due amount, there could also be additional interested and legal fees if the creditor sought relief through the court system. And to add insult to injury, the debt settlement customers was not entitled to a refund from the debt settlement company.

However, this practice changed when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ruled that debt settlement companies could no longer charge up-front fees for services. The rule took effect October 27, 2010.  The rule stipulates: “ A for-profit company selling its services via the telephone may not charge customers fees until it “successfully renegotiates, settles, reduces or otherwise changes the terms of at least one of the consumer’s debts.”” The ruling does not, however, cover Internet-based or in-person sales, nor does it cover actual non-profit credit counseling services. This ruling was aimed specifically at the area where the most scams occur.

Other parts of the ruling went into effect prior to October 27th. On September 27,2010, for-profit debt settlement companies were also required to:

  • Legally represent their services.
  • Make full-disclosure about services offered and their costs. For example, providing a pay-off time of debts for their customers, how they negotiate settlements with creditors, and how much customers will have to pay for their settlement. Companies are also required to inform their customers that theur credit score will drop as a result of a settlement, and that in some cases, their creditors could still sue for remaining balances.
  • No bait-and-switch. Companies cannot advertise a special and then pitch a more expensive deal if a potential customer calls.

Cheers and Jeers

As you would expect, consumer protection organizations are pleased with the FTC ruling, while the debt relief industry is predicting the end of their ability to assist those who are in need of their services. Although the ruling will have an impact, the depth of that impact has yet to be revealed.
Reference

Prater, C. “FTC Bans Upfront Fees For Debt Settlement Firms”. Credit Cards.com: http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/ftc-debt-settlement-rules-1282.php. 2010.

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I’ll Call You — 10 Reasons Men Are Still Single

If you are a man that just can’t seem to find that special someone, this may be for you.

I have always had a bevy of male friends, and when I got married, I inherited my husband’s. The majority of these men is well-educated, intelligent, and have good jobs. They are also clueless where women are concerned. I am constantly amazed when these men tell me that they would settle down if the right woman came along, complain that they can’t keep a girlfriend, and yet do everything in their power to drive women away.

I spend a lot of time with my perplexed friends, and find that I explain the same things repeatedly. There seem to be common themes that cause men to stumble on their way to a long-lasting relationship. Therefore, I have decided to share a few pearls of wisdom that I have imparted on my male friends. So, for the guy who just cannot understand why they have not found “the one”, here are a few areas in which you can brush up on your dating skills.

1. Three words guaranteed to get you labeled as a jerk: I’ll call you. You think that when you have no desire to see a girl after the first date, this is the safest way out… but you are wrong. One of my friends used this line constantly until one female he blew off followed him to a Laundromat, stole all his clothes and left him a note stating, “Bet you want your clothes back. Don’t worry, I’ll call you.” Guys, please do us a favor, be honest. If you don’t want to see us again, try “I really enjoyed spending time with you, maybe we can get together again sometime”. Pay close attention to the wording. The maybe makes it noncommittal, giving you an out. However, if you have no intention to call us, don’t say you will.

2. If the battle between old-fashioned manners and new-age feminism erupts, always side with manners. Open the door! In these days of feminism and equality, I can understand how this concept can be confusing. Here’s a tip: if you are approaching a door with a female and she hesitates, even for a split second, reach for the door. Most likely she will smile, say thank you and give you a few bonus points for politeness.

3. Don’t expect Suzie Homemaker unless she knocks on your door. Don’t expect a built-in laundry service just because you are dating someone. This does not guarantee you all the perks of marriage or co-habitation. If she is making a trip to the laundry room and offers to take a load of your clothes with her, that’s fine. However, do not assume that since you are dating then your dirty clothes are her responsibility. This also holds true for trips to the dry cleaner.

4. Don’t get creative on a first date: Dinner and a movie, good… TV dinners and the fight on pay-per-view, bad. Unless you are completely confident that the woman likes a good fight on TV, you might want to take a more traditional approach. For the most part, women are not impressed by your wealth of knowledge about uppercuts or technical knockouts. Until you know your woman well, I would avoid the “manly” activities.

5. Use the manners your mother taught you! Yes, you have to use a fork! Table manners are very important to most women, so unless you are trying to make her run screaming from a restaurant, you might want to brush up on etiquette before the first date. Learn what each utensil is and use it accordingly. However, you don’t want to go overboard either. I once dated a man that ate everything with a knife and fork, including pizza and southern fried chicken. We did not date long.

6. When faced with a double-edged sword, fall on the duller blade. If we ask you if we look fat, the answer should always be a quick and decisive “NO!”. Guys, realize that when asked this question, you are not supposed to search your mind for an honest or tactful answer. We realize it is a trick question, and that there really is no way for you to escape unscathed. The correct answer to this question should always be no. Lie if you must, unless of course the outfit just makes us look horrible, then you need to run to our closet, grab another outfit and declare that you would like us to wear it instead because it’s your favorite outfit and we look incredible when we wear it.

7. Two is company, three is a crowd, four or more is a deal breaker. I’m glad you love your mother, but does she have to know what we do on every date? Your friends are nice people, but must they accompany us everywhere we go? Men that cannot date a woman without getting the seal of approval from family and friends or cannot go on a date without someone else tagging along probably should not be dating. If you are on a date, then it should be the two of you, and/or another couple.

8. You may think you are getting away with something, but you are wrong. Blowing off a date to work late is understandable, blowing off a date to hang out with the guys will get you single. If you would rather go out with your friends instead of spending the evening with your girlfriend, admit it. The only lie you are allowed to tell is #6 above. Any other lie will get you in hot water. Women always find out. A friend found out that her boyfriend had gone to a strip club with his buddies, two hours away in another state… within fifteen minutes of his arrival at the club. If you just have to tell a lie about working late, when you get caught — notice I said when, not if, own up to it. Don’t make it worse. We will not only know the truth, we will have pictures, and a signed legal document from the friend who sold you out. When you’re busted, take your lumps like a man.

9. Even if you can’t dance, fake it. Most females will dance to fast songs in packs. We don’t normally care if you know any of the latest line dances or dance moves. However, as soon as the first few notes of a slow song are played, you had better be standing at the edge of the dance floor waiting for your cue. If we have to track you down, it will get you in hot water. If we have to beg, it will get you on the couch. If our tracking and begging still result in a no, we just might have to seek out a male more willing to accommodate our wishes.

10. Memories are acceptable, but shrines make us nervous. Having keepsakes from previous relationships is fine… keeping a picture of your ex-girlfriend on your bedside table next to the unopened love letters marked ‘return to sender’ is bad. This should be a no-brainer, but for those of you that just don’t get it, I will explain. We know you have past loves. However, if you still have pictures of your ex decorating parts of your home, then perhaps instead of a new girlfriend, a nice dog would be better.

If you follow these rules, your social life should improve. One more thing: Don’t try to impress us. Be yourself. We don’t want a guy that will constantly sweep us off our feet or is always trying to solve our problems. We want a guy that we can relate to, a guy that we could consider a friend. If the relationship progresses from there, all the better.


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