Make Working from Home Productive and Liberating

Working from home is a reality for a fast-growing portion of American workers. It can add flexibility, drive higher productivity and reduce company costs related to maintaining physical facilities.

However, it also comes with challenges. If you have worked from home, you have most likely encountered issues collaborating and communicating with colleagues in multiple locations. While there are multiple technologies aimed at helping remote workers and increasing their productivity, they can at times thwart it.

All too familiar with productivity, remote working woes and how to address it, CyberLink created U, a collaboration tool that integrates online presentations, video meetings and instant messaging whether working remote or down the hall from one another.

“It’s a place to hold online meetings, have presentations and chat with your colleagues that doesn’t come with the messy installation fuss and technical errors associated with other options out there,” said Richard Carriere, CyberLink’s general manager and senior vice president of global marketing. “It brings the best of social media, such as emojis, ease of use and the flexibility to have impromptu interactions, to a business environment, in a unique way that heightens communication and collaboration across users.”

According to commissioned research by polling firm YouGov, nearly half (43 percent) of U.S. office workers think it’s harder for remote workers to be seen in the workplace than non-remote workers.Office workers think it’s twice as difficult, when working remotely, to make strong relationships with bosses and coworkers while collaborating effectively. In fact, 1 in 6 think remote workers are less valued by the company, more than 1 in 3 think remote workers miss out on office culture and 1 in 5 think they get promoted less often.

There are also technical difficulties workers can encounter when using the technology solutions of the past. Of office workers who said disruptions and working with a solution that’s incompatible with the demands of a remote workforce today had impacted their work, the most prominent included:

  • Nearly half (42 percent) have misinterpreted the tone of written communication (email, instant messaging, etc.)
  • Nearly half (40 percent) said an important call had been dropped
  • 1 in 3 (31 percent) have been late to or missed a meeting because of a tech failure and a nearly one-quarter (22 percent) because it was too complicated to join
  • More than one-quarter (28 percent) have used the wrong version of a document
  • About 1 in 4 (23 percent) said an important video meeting had dropped
  • 1 in 5 (21 percent) mistakenly “replied all” to an email

To help address these issues and others, all of U’s offerings create virtual counterparts to in-person scenarios, in turn allowing workplace culture, creativity and dialogue to resonate beyond the physical workplace and to all workers, despite location. Learn more at . (Family Features)



5 Tips for Entrepreneurs to Keep Customers Engaged

Entrepreneurs, it’s time to stop and give yourself a pat on the back. Small business owners know it’s a life that can be high stress and sometimes even uncertain. But here’s one encouraging fact: Small businesses are doing a lot to keep Americans employed and the economy humming.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, firms with fewer than 500 employees account for 99.7 percent of all businesses in the U.S. And the SBA finds that 60 percent of new job creation comes from small businesses.

Still, one of the top challenges that small businesses face today is attracting new customers and keeping existing customers engaged. That’s what pays the bills, of course. Part of that solution is always looking ahead so you can capture their minds and hearts, so you can then capture the sales — with these five simple tips for small business success.

Be a joiner: If you haven’t already, become a member of your local chamber of commerce as well as neighborhood business groups. These often host special “Shop Local” events and promotions, which give you a way to participate and gain extra exposure from their marketing efforts. These groups also offer events and opportunities to network, help you to stay apprised of local trends and allow you to discover new opportunities to collaborate.

Cross-promote: Pair up with a second business in your neighborhood and find creative ways to work together. Collaborate on sales and special offers. Make your customers’ lives easier and put together gift baskets and share the proceeds. Or invite someone from a different business to teach an in-store class or workshop. Take the guerrilla marketing approach and host a joint scavenger hunt, with clues left around the community for a big prize. When you pool your ideas and resources, the possibilities are endless.

Market in-house: Getting the word out doesn’t stop at your doorstep. When customers enter your space, it’s a great time to tell them more about your services and products. “Digital signage” isn’t just for big companies. Deliver your message in vivid color and create an interactive experience with LG’s touch displays, perfect for menu selection and point-of-purchase. Commercial displays are better for businesses than a plain old consumer TV; they offer simple ways to post a warm welcome message with your business name and logo to create an inviting, personalized experience. Consider affordable options like “commercial lite” TVs from LG that have a USB Auto Playback feature, so you can build custom playlists to entertain and inform your customers. Things like an inspirational idea reel or quick tips and facts can position you as the trusted local expert.

Get social: Raise your presence on your social media accounts. Use this platform to inform and even entertain current and prospective customers, and they’ll turn to you as the expert. Turn on your smartphone’s video camera and give a rare peek behind the curtain. Increase traffic by announcing a flash sale or giveaway. And during big social media events, expand your reach and potentially your community by using hashtags.

Upgrade your tech: Sometimes, the busyness of life and running your own shop can mean we neglect the things that make a great impression. Take time for an objective critique of the appearance and functionality of your space. Get sleek and streamlined with a much-needed tech upgrade, with a new LCD desktop monitor like LG’s 32-inch 32MU99. Its show-stopping, vivid display offers true-to-life image rendering, thanks to the shadow detailing and richer colors. It also busts the clutter with its space-saving features, such as an ultra-thin panel and a single-cable delivery system that transfers audio, data and power. Upgraded tech with dazzling display is a sure way to make a favorable impression.

Small businesses have lots of technology options to enhance their business today. To learn more, visit (BPT)

Hotel Granduca Austin Appoints Executive Chef and Rolls Out New Food & Beverage Program

Hotel Granduca Austin, the Tuscan-inspired boutique hotel and member of The Leading Hotels of the World, recently announced the launch of its new food & beverage program, helmed by newly appointed Executive Chef Will Packwood. The hotel opened in the Westlake area of Austin, TX, in November 2015.

Chef Will Packwood

Chef Will Packwood (Photography courtesy of Ashley Huff)

Named Food + Wine’s Best New Chef in 2001, and having been recognized in publications, including Bon Appetit, Delta Sky Magazine, Texas Monthly, and more, Packwood boasts more than three decades experience. In his role at Hotel Granduca Austin he will oversee Visconti Ristorante & Bar, the hotel’s 70-seat restaurant, as well as all banquet food production. Most recently, Packwood, a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, worked as private chef and consultant at La Tavola in Austin, where he designed and taught recreational and professional cooking classes, created and personalized menus for clients, and provided operational and creative consulting to various operating restaurants. Prior to that, he worked as a culinary, baking and wine instructor at the Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Austin.

Hotel Granduca (Photography courtesy of Michelle Gardella)

Hotel Granduca (Photography courtesy of Michelle Gardella)

“At Hotel Granduca and Visconti Ristorante & Bar, we are always searching for individuals who exhibit outstanding leadership qualities, as we are committed to providing an extraordinary guest experience,” said Larry Bundy, general manager of the hotel. “Mr. Packwood is a great asset to the hotel and Visconti Bar & Ristorante and we are thrilled to have him,” he continued.

Soon after appointing Executive Chef Packwood, Hotel Granduca Austin rolled out new food and beverage programming for the restaurant, bar, and in-room dining designed by Packwood himself.

“As a chef of Italian cuisine, I believe you have to fully understand the culture, appreciate the ingredients, combinations, even the people behind that culture,” says Packwood. “My goal in developing this new food and beverage program is to showcase my experiences, as well as Italy’s passion for food and dining.”

Serving  breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily and brunch on Sundays, Visconti Ristorante & Bar’s new menus emphasize traditional Italian cuisine with an innovative twist:

  • Breakfast: Breakfast showcases Italian-inspired dishes such as Eggs Bruschetta, featuring grilled focaccia topped with scrambled eggs, roasted tomatoes, and prosciutto; Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes topped with macerated raspberries and creme fraiche; and Il Benedetto, a dish made of poached eggs, asparagus, Italian ham, and hollandaise, all atop a delicious crostini. The breakfast menu will also include the classics – steak and eggs, pancakes, Belgian-style waffles, as well as juices, smoothies, and pastries.

  • Lunch: This newly revamped menu showcases craveable and quick lunch fare, including pizzas, like theNapoli,a pizza made with tomato, mozzarella, Gaeta olives, capers, anchovies, and oregano;a Baby Spinach-Grilled Tenderloin salad; and entrees, including Grilled Beef and Pork Spiedini, sandwiches, pastas, and more.

  • Dinner: Visconti’s new dinner menu features three sections: Starters, Pastas & Risottos, and Entrees. Starters include Tuna Crudo with roasted red pepper, capers, salsa verde, garlic emulsion and mint and a Carpaccio paired with pickled fresno and artichokes, arugula, tonnato, and black pepper oil. Saffron-Ricotta Gnocchi with a Ragu alla Bolognese and Parmigiano Reggiano, and Roasted Corn-Zucchini Risotto topped with toasted cornbread crumbs, stracchino, and basil,can be found on the Pastas & Risottos menu. Entrees showcase dishes from light to hearty, including Branzinowith broccoli rabe, roasted potatoes and tomato, and preserved lemon relish, and a Trio of Grilled Pork featuring pork tenderloin, belly, luganega, sweet corn polenta figs, arugula, and herb oil.

In addition to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Executive Chef Packwood and Hotel Granduca created new bar, dessert, and in-room dining menus.For more information, call (512) 306-6400 or visit

5 Ways to Boost Engagement and Productivity in the Office

Step into the office of the future on the first day of work, and the things that you expect in a traditional workplace are not going to happen here.

There’s no landline, no file cabinet, no bulletin board. The employee is never taken to an assigned cubicle. In fact, it’s highly unlikely that employees will spend much of their day in the same chair.

The forward-looking workplace design discards all the usual trappings of the traditional office that lock employees into physical departments with seating arrangements, moving toward an open design. While perks such as catered lunches and ping pong tables are getting attention for changing workplace culture, it’s actually the power of technology that is quietly transforming the way we work. Technology is a tool that gives us a fluid and flexible use of time and space, changing how people get the job done.

“Eventually, the open digital workspace design will not be simply nice to have, it’s becoming more and more expected. It’s going to become mandatory if you want to attract top talent,” says Donna Kimmel, the senior vice president and chief people officer of Citrix.

Welcome to the era of the open workspace, where people can work and collaborate anywhere in the office, wherever they need to be. What do these modern workspaces look like? These are the five traits they have in common:

They ditch the cubicle farm: It’s no longer necessary to spend the day alone in a cubicle rooted to one spot for access to a desktop computer or landline phone. Today, you can easily and securely access, store and share your information from anywhere whether you’re on your laptop, tablet or mobile phone. Without the need for space-wasting cubicles, your building space needs are reduced, in some cases up to 50 percent. And a collaborative environment is created when walls are torn down and open seating arrangements invite conversation and brainstorming.

They accommodate work needs: Because technology frees knowledge workers from being rooted to a single cubicle, the new way is to offer an entire floor of flexible workspaces that accommodate various needs and styles. For example, one day an engineer could be working at a long table with fellow engineers, vendors and a project manager. The following week, that engineer might duck into a small privacy room for a marathon session of focused work.

They invite collaboration: Unlike the traditional cubicle farm, a flexible workspace sends a different message to the team. It invites conversation and innovative ideas by actively engaging with colleagues throughout the day, rather than rushing through a meeting agenda and hustling out.

They increase employee engagement and productivity: Flexible workspaces send a message that employees are entrusted to do their jobs wherever they feel most productive. Great leaders know and understand that their actions speak louder than words. Things like corporate policies and company culture send powerful messages to employees about how they are seen in the organization. With feelings of increased autonomy and trust often come increased levels of employee engagement. Once they have autonomy, the magic starts happening.

“… The data tells us — greater autonomy leads to better engagement, better engagement leads to greater productivity, which leads to better bottom-line results,” says Amy Haworth, director, organizational readiness at Citrix.

They embrace BYOD: That is, bring your own device. Sure, many employers may still provide hardware, but as workspaces become more flexible with a burgeoning work-anywhere ethos, employees simply wish to access their work platforms using their own laptops, tablets and mobile devices.

Luckily, it is now much easier to give employees seamless access to documents and networks safely — without draconian security measures to slow connections and processing speed. And as information, applications and work resources move to the cloud, businesses can securely deliver them to any device that has a secure network connection.

For example, Citrix offers a suite of solutions, including Citrix Cloud, XenApp, XenDesktop and ShareFile that makes BYOD secure without sacrificing user experience. If you are interested in learning more, visit

The benefits of the redesigned workspace are numerous, says Kimmel.

“They break down barriers between managers, employees and departments. The increased, casual encounters make it easy to approach others to ask questions, make suggestions and solve problems,” says Kimmel. “As a result, work gets done more quickly, and employees and managers alike report higher productivity.

“In the end, employees report greater satisfaction, which leads them to stay with a company longer.” (BPT)

Meet Esteemed Contributing Writer Lauren Reid

Lauren Reid is an Account Executive at C. Blohm & Associates, a PR and marketing agency based in Madison, Wisconsin. She began her PR career in higher education, which led to her tenure at CB&A. For the past year, Reid has spent her time developing and executing visibility campaigns for education clients. When not at work, she enjoys exploring local hotspots and spending time creating DIY home projects.

Lauren has contributed the information article in our July / August 2017 Issue titled Sculpting a Generation of Makers which we invite you to read.

4 Keys to a Successful Side Hustle

Deciding to join the leagues of entrepreneurs launching a part-time small business can be a major personal and professional step. It’s a way to stretch your creative muscles, build new skills, earn extra income from home and potentially unlock additional possibilities for you and your family in the future. It’s also a significant investment of your time and talents, which is why it’s important to choose the right “side hustle” for you.

Most part-time small business owners get started because they want extra income, low-risk wages, flexibility and the opportunity to contribute to the common good. However, these benefits are not enjoyed evenly across the many different types of businesses you may be considering. Learn to ask smarter questions about these highly sought-after benefits to make sure you find the right fit for you and your family:

  1. Extra income: Many people seek a side job with a specific, money-oriented goal in mind. That can be increasing the monthly household income, saving toward a down payment for a new home or going on a vacation. In order to make the income you want, it’s important to look at how much you can expect to earn on an ongoing basis. Look for a side gig that solves daily problems around necessities like cooking or eating to ensure your services are in-demand year-round.
  1. Low-risk wages: The ideal side job is easy to start without heavy investment or training. An independent consultant business, for example, can provide low start-up costs, easy ways to join and the built-in appeal of an already established brand, so you can get to earning extra income faster. Before jumping on board, take time to learn the start-up costs associated with any part-time gig and how long it will take you to learn the necessary skills to recoup your investment.

“Starting a business can be a very expensive thing,” Pampered Chef consultant Rachel Hanson said. “I was looking for something that was affordable and gave me everything I needed to get started.”

  1. Flexibility and family time: Being your own boss allows you to decide when you will work and when you won’t, but some side gigs require work during “high-traffic” times that can detract from the freedom you are seeking. Be sure to pick a side hustle that fits your schedule and can be done at any time – or even from the comfort of your own home – if flexibility is important to you. 
  1. Work with purpose: If you get your drive from a powerful sense of purpose, like improving people’s health or bringing families together, a side job that makes an impact is likely to give you the job satisfaction you need to succeed long-term. There are many franchise and direct-sales businesses that have strong charitable partnerships so you can give back locally while you earn extra cash. Beyond charitable work, look for roles where you are teaching important skills or solving common problems for your customers, beyond simply selling products.

Learn more about opportunities for creating your own part-time business at (Family Features)

Interview Tip: How to Answer “What Can You Offer Us That the Other Candidates for This Job Cannot?”

Recommendations from Go Resumes.

“What can you offer us that the other candidates for this job cannot?”
• Interviewers often use questions like this to determine if you have an inflated view of yourself or possibly a tendency to be overly critical of your co-workers.

• Showcase your strengths without implying that you are above everyone else.

• Qualify your answer by beginning with a disclaimer that you don’t know the qualifications of the other applicants, then assert how your qualifications make you a great choice for the position.

Featuring John Fagerholm, Employer Defense Attorney in Our InNetwork Spotlight


John Fagerholm Employer Defense Attorney, Los Angeles, California

John Fagerholm, Employer Defense Attorney, Los Angeles, California

Who He Is:  John is an entrepreneur and business expert with a bar card to practice law, but is most interested in the business of law.  Lessons learned from the successful practice of law enhance his understanding of what works and what does not work.  Lessons continue to provide a valuable educational resource to hone legal and business expertise.

Lessons Learned As Entrepreneur:  It’s important to know your clients and understand their habits, and be adaptable.  These attributes are of particular importance for prospective new business owners who need to develop a deep understanding of their customer base, preferably before they start selling.  Fagerholm says, “You can have the best product or service, but if you have little understanding of your customer, your selling may not be as effective as it could be”.

Importance Of Empathy:  Besides making you human, empathy and sympathy will help connect you to your customers, employees, partners and anyone else involved in your business.  Fagerholm says, “Outside of business, I have had countless inspirations from hearing stories from others about a problem.  Applying empathy allows for the exchange of more data.  Often new products and services are born out of an attempt to solve problems”.

Noteworthy Strength:  His ability to navigate through fear. He makes an effort to “Spock” everything potentially having risk.  He removes the emotion and determines if the reward is worth the risk, and that is the extent of it. He’s not without fear.  He is human.  He just understands why it’s there and doesn’t allow it into his daily life.

Meaning Of Success:  Success means leaving a legacy of helping others help themselves.  Success means focusing on leaving something good behind which others can model as a reference to obtain their success.  Success means doing something great with the time each is allotted on earth.

Peruse our May / June 2017 Issue here.

Featuring Ken Collis, CEO of TLK Fusion in Our May / June InNetwork Spotlight

Ken Collis, CEO of TLK Fusion, Los Angeles, California

Ken Collis, CEO of TLK Fusion, Los Angeles, California

Who He Is:  Ken is the definition of what most would want their boss to be.  He is kind, energetic, and driven to not only produce results for his clients, but also his employees.  A rare trait among corporate America where stories of cost cutting abound for the benefit of already swollen coffers.

Appeal Of The Finance Industry:  From years of marketing experience at Clear Channel to his monumental success with the development of, Collis has always had an affinity for building successful platforms for businesses.  A seeker of knowledge, he maintains his edge through daily self-improvement through reading educational books pertaining to marketing and business.

Power Of Mentorship:  Mentorship could be considered the keystone to Collis’ business management approach.  He invests time each week to spend time with, and educate his employees to mold them into more successful individuals.  He desires for the improvement of all of his employees and it shows with the careful attention he provides to them.

Important To Be Adaptable:  Collis has realized first hand, the necessity of being adaptable.  In a world traditionally governed by physical marketing and telemarketing, the digital revolution certainly weeded out those who were incapable of adapting.  His desire to be on top of things has enabled his company to not only survive, but thrive in the modern world.

Peruse our May / June 2017 Issue here.

What You Should Know About Becoming a Landlord

So, you think you want to be a landlord? With the decline in homeownership over the past few years, the rental market seems to be holding strong; however, before you jump in, you need to know that property ownership is a lot different than being a landlord, so you’ll  want to make sure you’re aware of a few basics, as well as what you’ll be responsible for. Here are a few tips to help get you started.

How to determine returns

While managing a property can potentially be profitable, you’ll want to make sure you do your homework before investing.  If you haven’t already purchased property, you’ll not only want to research the current market, you’ll want to know which areas and locations will have the highest returns. Additionally, you’ll have to factor in how much you’ll need to charge in order to cover the expenses of maintenance, property taxes, the mortgage and the like.

The importance of screening tenants

While you may not have to live with them or see them every day, you don’t want just anyone occupying your property. Poor credit, a history of eviction or criminal offenses, or employment are details you should want to know before handing over the keys to your property. Make sure you run a background and credit check, which should give you a solid idea of the person applying. In addition, why are you moving, why is your monthly employment, how many people will be living on the property and asking if they can provide references from employers or previous landlords are also good questions for landlords to ask potential tenants.

The necessity of being in close proximity to the rental property

It’s best if you live close to your property so you’ll be able to check in from time to time, assess repairs, or show the space to possible renters. If this kind of thing doesn’t sound so interesting to you, than you may want to consider hiring a property management company to take care of the those kinds of day-to-day details. However, if you are planning on being your tenant’s primary contact for any sort of issue, you probably won’t want to have to drive more than an hour to check out the problem or to supervise any sort of maintenance.

Learning the law

Depending on the state you live in, there are specific landlord-tenant laws which cover issues from access level, deposits and anti-discrimination. It’s important that you read the fine print as many new landlords skim housing laws and often miss some very important details that could potentially lead to legal disputes in the future. Make sure you know how much notice you need to give renters before showing up to inspect the property or how many days renters should be given to gather their belongings should you need them to vacate. Fair-housing violations go way beyond just discrimination, so make sure you’re aware of the details that pertain to your state and don’t end up in a trap. 

How to enforce timely rent payment

Make sure you set a good precedence when it comes to paying rent. Tenants should know exactly when rent is due, where it should be delivered, what form of payment is expected and the consequences for not paying on time. It’s usually good practice to require tenants to pay a late fee should they fail to deliver or for checks that bounce. Cultivating healthy relationships with renters doesn’t mean you have to be miserly, you just don’t want to get into a situation where you begin allowing partial payments for someone who lost a job and end up getting in tight financial situation yourself. Be friendly, but be firm.