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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Some thoughts on growing a business

If your business does something that brings an influx of new clients then that’s great, but it doesn’t mean your work is done. You need to keep that momentum going by figuring out what consumers want next.

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If a business stands still for too long then it ends up in a rut. Perhaps you’ve already achieved some level of success in your company, whether it’s a small business or a large organization. However, success can only be maintained if a company is willing to “change with the times”. Nothing remains the same in the world of business. The entire concept of selling commercialized goods to a consumer market is based on the idea of growth. People want newer and better versions of the things they already own if they’re going to part with their money. That’s why the businesses which remain on top have mastered the art of reinventing themselves over and over again. They might be selling identical or near-identical products to the things they were selling ten years ago, but the important thing is that they repackaged their service. They evolved.

You need to grow, in other words. If your business does something that brings an influx of new clients then that’s great, but it doesn’t mean your work is done. You need to keep that momentum going by figuring out what consumers want next. Your goal is to find a gap in the market and then find the next one. Once you’ve found a profitable solution to a consumer problem, every other company in your industry is going to copy what you did so that they can emulate your success. You might have some loyal clients who become accustomed to your goods and services, but your customers in the wider target market might simply choose whichever business is offering the cheapest or newest deal in your industry. That’s why you’ve got to stay on top of your game. Continuous growth is the key. And if you want to make that an integral part of your business then here are some thoughts on expanding your company.

Start investing to improve your business.

Your business can’t grow until you put something back into it. Maybe you started your company from the comfort of your home, or maybe you got a few friends together because you had a great idea. Whatever the case, your humble beginnings may have served you well in the early days, but there’s only so far you can get with limited resources and limited people. At some point, you’re going to need more employees, a bigger office, and other improvements that all cost money if you want your company to grow. You want to deliver a more extensive service to a wider client base, but that’s going to require some investment on your part.

However, if your company is still small and its profits can’t quite stretch to cover the necessary improvements you had in mind then perhaps you could look into alternative means of financing your next big business venture. You might even want to look into the property market to open up a new source of income that would fund the necessary business investments you had planned. You might want to check out this new launch property as a good place to start when trying to turn over a healthy profit outside your business. Property is a smart way to invest your excess funds. The point is that you need to find some way of funding business improvements. Investments are a necessary risk if your company is going to grow.

Become a more productive company.

One of the best ways to grow as a company is to increase your levels of productivity. And you can do that by putting the focus on your employees. Motivated people work harder, so you need to keep your workforce happy. You could give them incentives such as a bonus or a free lunch for working hard. You could even spruce up the office so as to create a more pleasant working environment. Above all else, you need to remember that your employees are people and they want to work for people. You create a much more loyal workforce when you demonstrate that you care about your workers as more than statistics or machines that keep your business running. You need to humanize yourself as the boss. That doesn’t mean you need to be friends with everybody in the office, as a professional relationship is still important if you want to ensure that you’re respected in the office. However, respect is a two-way street; you need to recognize the value of your workers. Your members of staff will be far more productive if they feel that they’re valued as individuals in a personal and a professional sense. The more productive they are, the great your company’s growth.

Of course, happy workers might still struggle to be as productive as possible if you don’t optimize the way in which they work. If you’re overloading your members of staff with too many different tasks to complete then you’re not putting their work hours to good use. You might want to make things easier for your employees by automating certain processes in the workplace. Repetitive tasks only waste precious hours of the day, but such tasks are also irritating for your members of staff. You can both make lives easier for members of your workforce and create a more productive work environment by automating certain administrative tasks that take up time during the day. If you let technology take control of generating invoices and other tasks then your workers will have more time to devote to the more technical aspects of their job roles. Your company will be more productive, and your employees will be happier.

Get ambitious with your marketing techniques.

You need to get ambitious with your marketing style if you want your business to grow. Use the internet to help you out; if you advertise a good enough deal then people will spread the word online for you. You could offer coupons and discounts to people who refer your business to your friends. You could also target new markets by offering incentives and deals to certain demographics. Perhaps you could offer 20% off your products to students in order to reel in a younger audience, for example. It all depends on the nature of your business, of course. The point is that incentivizing consumers with deals is a great way to spread the word about your business. If you use social media properly then people should share your posts and spread the word for you. And if they get discounts for doing so then they definitely will.

Connect with existing and potential customers.

We briefly discussed this in the point above. Impressing customers can be a marketing technique to spread the word about your business and increase your client base, but it can also be a way of making a direct connection with the target audience. This will help your business to grow because it’ll improve the reputation of your brand name. Excellent customer service is a good way to start with this, of course, but you can go deeper than that. You could send handwritten letters to clients as a way of thanking them; this requires more time and effort than an automated response. It’ll show your customers that you really value them.

You could even give away something valuable on your business’ website in order to entice people to try out your business before they spend any money. Again, it’s all about making a connection with the customer. The best way to do that is to give them something that you can afford to give away for free but which is very valuable to them. This will make them feel as if your business really cares about rewarding its clients. Plus, they’ll return to your business to buy more goods and services if they liked the initial freebie. If you make a real connection with your clients then your business will naturally start to grow.

Health & Wellness

Between 16% and 18% of preadolescents have ideas of suicide

Up to 18% of preadolescents have ideas of suicide, with the main risk factors including depressive symptoms, anxiety and compulsive obsessive disorder.

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Up to 18% of preadolescents have ideas of suicide, with the main risk factors including depressive symptoms, anxiety and compulsive obsessive disorder. This is according to “Suicidality in a Community Sample of Early Adolescents: A Three-Phase Follow-Up Study”, done by Voltas, N., Hernández-Martínez, C., Arija, V. and Canals, J.

In the study, the researchers studied a group of 720 boys and 794 girls who studied in 13 schools in Reus. They were monitored during three developmental periods: 10 years old, 11 years old and 13 years old. At the beginning of the study, the students answered a series of psychological tests that were used to detect which of them presented emotional symptoms related to depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). From their responses, two groups were created: one group at risk of emotional problems and a control group.

The disorders were diagnosed with standardised international criteria and the boys and girls were monitored to see how suicidal ideation developed throughout the research period.

The figures were quite stable. During the first period, 16% of the students stated that they had thought about suicide, of whom 33% stated the same one year later. In both the second and the third period, ideas of suicide were expressed by 18% of the students surveyed. The risk of suicide was determined in a personal interview and was present in 12.2% of the children with an average age of 11 years old. Although there were no differences between the sexes, the severity of the suicidal behaviour was greater in boys.

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The researchers also observed what factors predicted suicidal ideation and they found here that there were differences between the sexes.

“In boys it is previous depressive symptoms which determine subsequent suicidal ideation,” says Núria Voltas, one of the researchers involved in the study. In girls, on the other hand, it is a combination of anxiety symptoms, OCD and the family’s socioeconomic situation.

The results of this research, published in the scientific journal Archives of Suicide Studies reveal the factors that can trigger ideas of suicide in this age group. “Our results will enable us to have greater control over this particular aspect and take prevention measures in preadolescents, who are going through a period of considerable vulnerability,” she concludes.

This is a noteworthy study, considering other – and earlier – studies have repeatedly highlighted how members of the LGBTQIA community are greatly affected by suicide. In 2018, for instance, a study from the University of Arizona noted that 50.8% of transmasculine adolescents between the ages of 11 and 19 have attempted suicide at least once, while 41.8% of nonbinary adolescents – those who don’t identify as exclusively male or exclusively female – have attempted suicide.

Still another study – also done in 2018 – that appeared in Pediatrics noted that almost 14% of adolescents reported a previous suicide attempt, with disparities by gender identity in suicide attempts. Female to male adolescents reported the highest rate of attempted suicide (50.8%), followed by adolescents who identified as not exclusively male or female (41.8%).

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Still another study – also done in 2018 – that appeared in LGBT Health found that a total of 37% of trans respondents reported having seriously considered suicide during the past 12 months and 32% had ever attempted a suicide. Offensive treatment during the past three months and lifetime exposure to trans-related violence were significantly associated with suicidality. 


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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Let’s talk about… orgies, says director Rod Singh

“Even within the gay community, there is this certain stigma on those who engage in orgies, or those who are highly sexual,” said director Rod Singh of Cinema One Originals 2018 movie “Mamu; And a Mother Too”. This is why he wants to “reclaim that narrative.”

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“Even within the gay community, there is this certain stigma on those who engage in orgies, or those who are highly sexual,” said director Rod Singh of Cinema One Originals 2018 movie “Mamu; And a Mother Too”. “Maybe because it doesn’t have a story. Like when people talk about orgies, all they know is just a group of people having sex.”

This is why, Singh said, he wants to “reclaim that narrative – that there is a story happening in orgies – that just like any other romantic relationships, there is a story happening in (people engaged in) sexual activities. I want to challenge the mindset of those who are sex-negative and communicate a very simple message: Sex is a language.”

Ad this is what Singh intended to do via gay dating app Blued’s new series, OrG! (Come & Play). Blued funded “Mamu; And a Mother Too”; and in return, Singh pledged to produce a series for Blued, thus OrG!

OrG!’s story revolves around a group of gay men engaging in an orgy, as they select their invitees, negotiating their desires and preferences. One of the members of the orgy, a medicine graduate named Ram, is secretly dating Niko, a filmmaker in his mid-20s. His orgy group finds Niko attractive and decides to invite Niko to join the group. As Niko slowly becomes more entwined in the setup, his romance with Ram begins to crumble, leading Ram to resolve that the only way to win Niko back is to tear apart his friendship with his sexual partners.

Aminin na natin (Let’s admit), while we aspire to be an empowered community, marami pa din talaga yung (many of us remain) backwards. When I say backwards, yung mga (those who are) sex negative. Isa na siguro sa mga issues na ito ang (One of the issues here is) orgy. I’ve read and heard a lot of gay people saying something negative about orgies. And with this series, I want people to re-evaluate their views,” Singh said.

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Singh added that perhaps many people look negatively at orgies because “in most cases, alam lang natin na (we just know that) it’s a group of highly sexual individuals having sex kaya ganoon na lang siya ka-stigmatized (which is why it’s extremely stigmatized). Tapos marami din na ina-associate yung (There are also many who associate) orgy with drugs and promiscuity. Sa series na ito, babaliin ko yun (I’ll break those). That orgy can just be a group of friends, with different character sketches, no drugs, it’s safe, and there’s a story.”

For OrG!, there are eight episodes with a running time of five to seven minutes per episode, with the short time considered as “somewhat of a limitation”. But Singh said “I just hope that (the audience) will dig deeper. I am hopeful that at the very least… they will have a new view on orgies kasi may story na siya (because it already has a story).”

In the end, Singh wants people – particularly members of the LGBTQIA community – to recognize that “sex between two people is okay. Sex between three people is okay. Sex between five people is hot,” he laughed.

For the curious, download Blued.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Career options that could benefit your family

More and more people are seeking a better home and work balance and a change of a career could be the ideal step in which to take it.

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Sometimes you can find that your career is far from flexible in terms of getting more quality time with your loved ones. You may have changed as a person over the years, but your job hasn’t, and the hours may still be long or unsociable, the stress and pressure may still be high and not much changes, and generally you might not feel passionate about. This means that more and more people are seeking a better home and work balance and a change of a career could be the ideal step in which to take it.

But what careers or opportunities could you consider? Here are some of the ones that you could consider. 

Sometimes you can find that your career is far from flexible in terms of getting more quality time with your loved ones.
IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay.com

Working in the health and fitness sector

One of the first things to consider would be a career in the health and fitness sector. Often personal trainers are self employed, but you could also be employed and only work certain hours, making it very flexible and enjoyable. Not only could it be flexible in terms of hours, but it could also help you to change your lifestyle in the process. You might start to focus on your diet and what you eat, and of course, your fitness will be affected. Giving you the best of both worlds. 

Training for the army or navy seals 

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It may sound like a bit of a left field suggestion, but the army or navy is one consistent employer that are always in need of decent people. People that are prepared to work hard and do something they feel strong and passionate about. You may be wondering how much do navy seals make or how much of a salary can you expect from the army, and thankfully there is a lot of information online. Full training is provided, making it a possible option for many to consider. 

Starting your own business

The next thing to consider would be starting your own business. Perhaps you have had an idea for some time, maybe you like the idea of taking some of the skills you already have and doing things yourself. A business might seem like a lot of work, but many people start these ventures at home, which could mean that you choose the hours you work. Maybe evenings or early mornings to get things done. It could be a great way to earn a living for your family while being present for the important moments. 

Working freelance

If a business sounds a little scary right now you could still consider working for yourself by working freelance. Maybe you have skills that are in demand, perhaps you like the idea of trying something new? Working freelance is a great way to cut out the middleman and bank more profit in the long term. You take on the projects you want to work on and choose the hours in which you work them. 

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Train as a teacher

Finally, if you still feel like a secure employment is the way forward then one great career option that could work around a family and for the future is to train to become a teacher. This gives you the school vacations off, and it gives you the chance to work in a school environment which in turn, could help you when it comes to a child. It might be a more long term plan, but it could certainly be the career change that you want and need. 

Let’s hope that this has given you something to think about in terms of your career prospects and the next step. 

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Health & Wellness

FDA warns public on dangers of injectable whitening products like glutathione

The FDA stated that there are numerous side effects on the use of injectable glutathione for skin lightening, including toxic effects on the liver, kidneys, and nervous system.

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It sure took them a while, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has – finally – warned the public on the dangers associated with the use of injectable lightening agents such as glutathione.

In an advisory dated July 5, 2019 – FDA Advisory No. 2019-182 – the FDA noted that “in the Philippines, several health and beauty salons, wellness spa and beauty clinics are offering all kinds of beauty enhancements, services and skin treatments. It is alarming that they also offer services such as intravenous drip or infusion using skin lightening agents including reduced glutathione, vitamin C and other injections.

“To date there are no published clinical trials that have evaluated the use of injectable glutathione for skin lightening. There are also no published guidelines for appropriate dosing regimens and duration of treatment. The FDA has not approved any injectable products for skin lightening. Injectable glutathione is approved by FDA Philippines as an adjunct treatment in cisplatin chemotherapy.”

The FDA stated that there are numerous side effects on the use of injectable glutathione for skin lightening, including toxic effects on the liver, kidneys, and nervous system. “Also of concern is the possibility of Stevens Johnson Syndrome. Injectable glutathione is sometimes paired with intravenous Vitamin C. Vitamin C injection may form kidney stones if the urine is acidic. Large doses of Vitamin C have resulted in hemodialysis in patients with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency.”

Other potential risks include transmission of infectious agents, such as HIV, hepatitis C and B. This is of particular concern when non-medical practitioner administers this treatment or done in a non-sterile facility.
Photo by Jair Lázaro from Unsplash.com

And given that glutathione affects the production of melanin (the pigment that gives the human skin, hair and eyes their color), “there are (also) theoretical concerns about the long term skin cancer risk.”

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Other potential risks include transmission of infectious agents, such as HIV, hepatitis C and B. This is of particular concern when non-medical practitioner administers this treatment or done in a non-sterile facility.

The FDA is urging people to consult ONLY a board-certified dermatologist, and avoid buying injectable products online and from being lured to a promising effect of medicines as beauty products.

“Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any side effects and report it to FDA at pharmacovigilance@fda.gov.ph or via online reporting through www.fda.gov.ph.” The Center for Drug Regulation and Research may also be reached at (02) 809-5596.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Facial plastic surgery in men enhances perception of attractiveness, trustworthiness

The findings suggest that both men and women undergoing facial cosmetic surgery can experience not only improved perception of attractiveness, but other positive changes in society’s perception of their persona.

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In the first of a kind study, plastic surgeons at Georgetown University Medical Center found that when a man chose to have a nip or a tuck on his face, it significantly increased perceptions of attractiveness, likeability, social skills, or trustworthiness.

The study, published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, shows that men benefit from facial cosmetic surgery in much the same way as women: other people find more to like in that new visage. However, the study did not show a significant impact on perceptions of gender (masculinity), whereas a similar study performed with women in 2015 showed a significant increase in ratings of femininity.

“The tendency to judge facial appearance is likely rooted in evolution, as studies suggest evaluating a person based on appearance is linked to survival–our animal instinct tells us to avoid those who are ill-willed and we know from previous research that personality traits are drawn from an individual’s neutral expressions,” explains the study’s senior investigator, Michael J. Reilly, MD, an associate professor of otolaryngology at Georgetown’s School of Medicine. Reilly is board certified in Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery and sees patients at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

“Taken together, our findings suggest that both men and women undergoing facial cosmetic surgery can experience not only improved perception of attractiveness, but other positive changes in society’s perception of their persona,” he says.

In recent years, men in America have changed their social attitudes about “appearance maintenance” from one bordering on narcissism to somewhere on a continuum of well-being, Reilly adds. Men are now 15-20% of the cosmetic surgery market, but many preferred male facial features are the opposite of what is prized on a female face. For example, it is believed that attractive male features include prominent cheekbones, a square jaw and prominent chin, while attractive female features are round cheeks, softer contours, wide smile and large, wide eyes.

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“Our studies are deigned to see if this is indeed true,” Reilly says.

In this study, 24 men underwent facial cosmetic surgery by one of two Georgetown surgeons — Reilly and Steven P. Davison, MD, who is also a co-author. The men had one or more of the following surgeries: upper eyelid lift (upper blepharoplasty), reduction of lower eyelids (lower blepharoplasty), face-lift, brow-lift, neck-lift, nose reshaping (rhinoplasty), and/or a chin implant.

These men, who paid for their own surgery, agreed to the use of their before and after photographs for research purposes. Six surveys were designed, each of which included eight photographs (4 before surgery, 4 after surgery. No survey contained both of a single individual).

More than 150 participants (mostly white, between the ages of 25-34, and with a college degree) who reviewed the photos were not told of the study’s intent. They were asked to rate their perception of each patient’s personality traits (aggressiveness, extroversion, likeability, risk-seeking, sociability, trustworthiness), attractiveness and masculinity.

The research team built a complex multivariate linear mixed model to be able to assess participants’ reaction to a specific surgical procedure — rhinoplasty (nose job), for example — while controlling for changes from additional procedures done on other areas of the face.

Researchers found that chin augmentation was the only procedure that did not have an effect on perceived attractiveness, masculinity or personality. The authors believe this was due to the low number of study patients undergoing this procedure. The other procedures showed the following changes, among others:

  • Upper eyelid — increased likeability and trustworthiness
  • Lower eyelid — decreased risk-taking
  • Brow-lift — improved perception of extroversion and risk-taking
  • Face-lift — increased likeability and trustworthiness
  • Neck-lift — increased perceived extroversion and masculinity
  • Nose — improved attractiveness
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The statistically significant findings overall reflected increases in attractiveness, likeability, social skills and trustworthiness.

“It is really interesting that different anatomic areas of the face have varying degrees of contribution to overall personality perception,” Reilly says. “And it is also noteworthy that the study did not find a significant change in masculinity. Just one procedure, a neck-lift, was found to enhance that trait.

“This suggests that the current menu of cosmetic procedures for men are likely not as gender-enhancing as they are for women,” he says. Reilly’s study in women examined the same cosmetic procedures in 30 white females and found a significant increase in femininity for many of the procedures.

“Cicero described the face as the ‘mirror of the soul,’ meaning that a person’s physical appearance is the personal characteristic most obvious and accessible to others in social interaction — so it’s not surprising that subtle changes in neutral facial appearances are powerful enough to alter judgments of personality, “Reilly says.

Reilly says more study is needed in order for cosmetic surgery to reach its full potential. “Optimizing patient outcomes will require a broader understanding of the potential changes in social perception that can occur with surgery.”

Additional study co-authors include Keon M. Parsa, MD, a resident at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital; William Gao, MD, a former resident at the hospital; and Jack Lally, MD, of Brooke Army Medical Center, Texas.

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Health & Wellness

Seeing greenery linked to less intense and frequent cravings

The findings add to evidence that points to the need to protect and invest in green spaces within towns and cities, in order to maximize the public health benefits they may afford.

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Being able to see green spaces from your home is associated with reduced cravings for alcohol, cigarettes and harmful foods, new research has shown.

The study, led by the University of Plymouth, is the first to demonstrate that passive exposure to nearby green space is linked to both lower frequencies and strengths of craving. It builds on previous research suggesting exercising in nature can reduce cravings, by demonstrating the same may be true irrespective of physical activity.

Researchers say the findings add to evidence that points to the need to protect and invest in green spaces within towns and cities, in order to maximize the public health benefits they may afford. They also suggest the causality of this link needs to be investigated further.

The study, published in the journal Health & Place, is the first to investigate the relationship between exposure to natural environments, craving for a range of appetitive substances and the experiencing of negative emotions or feelings.

It involved academics from the University’s School of Psychology, with support from the European Centre for Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter.

Leanne Martin, who led the research as part of her Master’s degree in Plymouth, said: “It has been known for some time that being outdoors in nature is linked to a person’s wellbeing. But for there to be a similar association with cravings from simply being able to see green spaces adds a new dimension to previous research. This is the first study to explore this idea, and it could have a range of implications for both public health and environmental protection programs in the future.”

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For the research, participants completed an online survey that explored the relationships between various aspects of nature exposure, craving and negative affect.

Among other things, it measured the proportion of green space in an individual’s residential neighborhood, the presence of green views from their home, their access to a garden or allotment; and their frequency of use of public green spaces.

The results showed that having access to a garden or allotment was associated with both lower craving strength and frequency, while residential views incorporating more than 25% greenspace evoked similar responses.

The study also measured physical activity undertaken within the same time frame that cravings were assessed, showing the reduced craving occurred irrespective of physical activity level.

Dr Sabine Pahl, Associate Professor (Reader) in Psychology, added: “Craving contributes to a variety of health-damaging behaviors such as smoking, excessive drinking and unhealthy eating. In turn, these can contribute to some of the greatest global health challenges of our time, including cancer, obesity and diabetes. Showing that lower craving is linked to more exposure to green spaces is a promising first step. Future research should investigate if and how green spaces can be used to help people withstand problematic cravings, enabling them to better manage cessation attempts in the future.”

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