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0 comments | Posted by: Spencer on May 24, 2012 | Categories:
Abby Marks Beale has been teaching speed-reading for over 25 years. She’s written three book on the subject (including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Speed Reading) and founded Rev It Up Reading, her online speed reading course for students and professionals. Abby stresses that speed reading is a teachable, strategic approach toward learning and a simple gateway for opening up opportunities: “It’s allowed me to branch out and do more in my life.”
Why is speed reading so important?
[laughing] To whom?
How about students and professionals?
For college student and high school students, and anyone going back to school to further their education, the thing most people have a really hard time with is reading academic material. We’ve never been really taught how to read that material.
Speed reading is a strategy. It’s not speed for speed alone, but speed for encouraging focus and concentration.
When I talk about speed reading, I’m talking about redeveloping your reading skills to become the best reader you can be. That’s through different techniques, using your eyes and hands, and understanding how things are written.
For businesspeople, it’s more about managing a huge reading workload on paper and on screen. So many people who I meet, when I tell them I teach speed reading, they say, “Oh, I could use that.” Nobody’s had strategy lessons in reading. Everybody loves it when I tell them they can learn to speed-read.
At what point did you decide to teach speed reading?
I hated reading. I never felt satisfied when I read. I would reread and reread, but I didn’t feel like I got much out of it. Even through my undergraduate years, I didn’t know this stuff. I struggled like everyone else did. Once I had my degree, I got a job with a company that taught kids speed reading and study skills. So I got trained in how to do it, and I worked in this company for a couple years. At one point it occurred to me: It’s not just kids who need it. It’s adults. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after I left the company, but I knew there was a niche here. I even offered it to the company I worked for, but they turned me down. So I said “I’ll do it myself.”
That was 25 years ago. I really felt strongly about it. I still do. It’s so simple; it really isn’t hard. Just a little bit of education that goes such a long way to developing reading skills.
What differs between a speed reader’s approach to reading versus an average reader’s approach toward reading?
One difference is that non-speed-readers are passive, mindless and unconscious. People who speed-read are active, mindful and conscious. So if you think of the difference between the two approaches, it’s huge. Speed readers are engaged with what they’re reading: How and what they’re reading, where they’re reading it, what strategies they’re using to read, instead of “I’ll just let my brain soak this in.”
I’ve known these skills for 25 years. I still need to mentally tell myself what to do when I’m reading. It never becomes a natural thing, because a natural thing is passive, mindless and unconscious. And this works.
So why isn’t this skill taught as part of regular school or university curriculum?
That’s a question people have asked me for 25 years. I can only say, number one, people don’t know about it, and number two, budgets. As a school administrator, if you don’t have the knowledge, you’re not going to search for the money for it. Schools probably feel like they give enough of the basics, and they can’t afford more. But it would make students’ lives easier. It should be taught in teacher colleges, especially those for teachers teaching in high school. I have an online course that takes seven hours. Don’t tell me you can’t fit that into your curriculum! It’s not like a 45-hour course. You don’t need that much time to get enough of the basics.
I think a lot of people inversely correlate speed reading with retention. How are these two skills related?
What I help people understand is that when you read, the eyes and the brain have a conversation. They’ve been talking the same way for years. When we show people how to move their eyes differently, their brain hasn’t yet caught on. There’s a temporarily drop in retention, at least on the conscious level. It takes a little while for the eyes and brain to create a new conversation. People understand that it’s a temporary dip; sometimes it takes a day, and sometimes it comes back within the four hours of class. But there’s this feeling of “I’m not in Kansas anymore. I’m not as confident about comprehension.” It’s all about the unlearning process.
People are reading differently than they used to—shorter amounts, in quicker bursts of time, online or on tablets. How are people’s changing reading habits and media affecting the way you teach speed reading?
I have, thankfully, a colleague—Pam Mullan, an assistant professor at a college. Pam did her dissertation on reading onscreen. I met her about 12 years ago. She’s helped me come up with simple adaptations to the paper method for reading onscreen. That’s been the biggest change.
Have you heard of Evelyn Wood? If you’re under 30 or 35, you probably haven’t. Evelyn Wood started the speed reading concept in the 1950s. She used to have physical offices all across the country that taught these classes. She’s become the name associated with speed reading. She passed away in 1995. People still ask me, how does my program differ from hers? Okay, she’s dead, number one—and I respect everything she did, but I’m not like her. The primary difference is the Internet, the electronic reading we have to do, compared to what people did in her day.
What do you love about your job?
I’ll be honest. I’m very passionate about speed reading. And after doing it for 25 years, and writing some books, I’ve maxed out with what I can do with it, except share it more. I’ve taken my speed reading and love of reading, and I’ve learned another profession.
I’ve become a homeopath. I’m not doing homeopathy full-time. I’m making this transition slowly. Because I’m confident in my reading, anybody who knows anything about homeopathy knows that there’s an incredible amount of reading material associated with this field. Over the past several years, I’ve had to add three bookcases to hold it all. It’s incredible. You have to be confident in your reading skills in order to jump into this profession.
What I love the most about speed reading? It’s allowed me to branch out and do more in my life.
0 comments | Posted by: Spencer on May 22, 2012 | Categories:
Roof Diagnostics Inc. are solar-panel installers who, early-on, identified solar energy’s efficiency, affordability and security. To home owners who qualify, they install solar panels for free, and the company’s been growing by leaps and bounds. “Every day, I’m helping create a cleaner, more efficient America,” says Kelcy Pegler Jr., RDI’s vice president. “That’s something I can be proud of.”
How did Roof Diagnostics’ solar focus come about?
Kelcy Sr. started this roof consulting company in 1994. We went from roof consulting to commercial maintenance to full-fledged roofing contracting in the commercial world. When we moved offices, our new building was in a high-end residential area. On our first day at the new office, we got a knock on the door. It was one of our new neighbors, asking for help with their roofing. We had to say “No, we don’t do residential roofing.” But after that first week, we’d turned away six people. We couldn’t afford to keep losing that money. That was 12 years ago.
I started with Roof Diagnostics, getting us automated, into the technology age, and got us to go paperless. We looked at solar and wanted to get into it, so we partnered with a third-party solar service provider. And after one year working in the solar installation business, we became the number-one solar installer in New Jersey: We lead New Jersey in sales in installation of solar systems.
How does your solar business model function, from a homeowner’s perspective?
First, we know that a homeowner is going to buy electricity. For people that qualify for a solar system—that means a facing-south, customer-owned home, and having decent credit score—they buy electricity from our solar company. First thing I tell them is, it’s going to be less expensive. Our customers know how much their energy will cost in 20 years. That’s the real power of solar—knowing how much your energy costs over the years. The same thing cannot be about your utility bill. The powerful question we ask is, “How much is your power going to cost in the next five years?” The answer is always, “I don’t know. However much my utility company charges me.” But with solar, we know it’ll be cheaper.
A lot of talk surrounding solar revolves around inexpensive Chinese imports and the difficulty this causes manufacturing. As a solar installer, how do you view this equation?
We live in our industry just like other players live in their industries, and we deal with existing market conditions. Currently, China makes competitively priced products at good quality. Our market functions like other markets—with supply, demand and everything in between.
Where will the domestic solar industry, and Roof Diagnostics, be five years from now?
The market is maturing. We’re accessing the more mainstream public every day. We’ve already gone through the early adopters and innovators. Now we’re tapping into the Regular Joes and soccer moms. They’re moving ahead with solar and choosing it as an alternative to their energy company. That’s a good place to be.
Ultimately, we’re changing the way we buy power in America.
We’re not looking to replace or go off the grid. But our problem, everyday is that we don’t have enough energy. I mean that specifically. California, for example, doesn’t have enough energy. Every summer, they have brownouts. We don’t, nationally, have enough energy. To reduce the burden on our grid, we need to create our own energy, and we need to do it in a renewable way. That’s where we target our focus.
How will solar affect the United States economy and culture in the coming decade?
Nationally, it affects job creation. In March and April this year, we’ve hired more than 50 people. We’ve been growing at an astronomical pace. That growth is here to stay. They’re permanent jobs. We’re hiring professionals. We hire architects, engineers, system designers—permanent jobs that help people support their families. Contrary to popular belief, our people are really professional permanent employees. We’re having a positive effect on the job market.
How does your franchising fit into this model?
The barriers to entry in solar can be difficult to surmount. Our franchise model helps people get into the roofing solar world.
In the New York Times article that mentions Roof Diagnostics, Dickon Pinner says, “It’s not clear to me that anyone yet has cracked the code of scaling the business massively.” What do you think is key to cracking that code?
I think it’s really customer awareness.
Right now, I think it makes sense that there’s a lot of regional powers in solar. We function in the Northeast—New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts. Don’t forget, nationally, we’re limited with the states that have feasible solar opportunities. There’s somewhere between 7-13 feasible solar states, depending on who you ask. Within those, there are a few players that play in multiple states. As the nation becomes more favorable to solar and renewable energy, so will businesses that function in more states. If more states were solar-able in our area,we’d be functioning in those states. If there was a clear chain from here to California, we’d consider the value proposition of being a national company.
What’s the most important challenge facing your business?
I think it’s just the awareness of the customer base, and for state and federal regulators to realize that we’re a viable option. I think we’ve got a lot of traction away from the early days. The critique of solar was once “How much energy are we really offsetting?” In New Jersey, we’ve exceeded the RPS—the renewable portfolio standards. We’re exceeding the most aggressive RPS blueprint for the state. The answer is, we can make a lot of solar energy.
With that being said, a lot of people think we need incentives. We don’t. We just need an equal and fair playing field. If we received the same treatment as oil, coal and gas, we could function in the market better. We just want fair treatment compared to competing sources of energy.
What do you love most about your job?
I love helping people replace their old, dirty and expensive energy, with new, clean, inexpensive solar power. Every day, I’m helping create a cleaner, more efficient America. That’s something I can be proud of.
People in the know understand it’s an energy crisis we’re in. Some people say “Come on.” But we are. You talk to people who are in the know about energy, and the issues are all trending negative. All of them. There’s no surprise that in every modern presidential election, energy is always a topic. Because it’s really a big issue.
Solar has its niche no matter what. I bought a Chevy Volt last week , not so much because I wanted to save money on gas, but because I like the statement it makes. I’m part of a revolution, doing something differently than we’ve doing all these years. And there’s enough people like me that solar’s here to stay.
AnswerConnect has always advocated going paperless. You’re hard-pressed to find a printer in our office. (Well, there is one. It’s tucked away and used so rarely the sound startles nearby associates.) We prefer the easy access and improved collaboration of Google Docs and other cloud-based software. Then there’s the sense of satisfaction that comes with the huge decrease in our annual waste production.
So it was only a matter of time until we phased out paper bills. New clients are automatically enrolled into our paperless billing program, and we’re currently working on switching over all of our existing clients. Here are a couple reasons why you may love the new paperless billing as much as we do:
It’s much easier to organize bills on a computer desktop than on a wooden one. Paperless bills mean no more clutter. Take a look at your desk. It’s possible you’re a naturally organized person and your bills are stacked and filed neatly away. Or it takes fifteen minutes of digging through drawers to find a bill when you need it. Either way, no more bills accidentally ending up in the recycling bin or getting lost between the desk and the wall. Your bills are archived, organized and accessible from any location.
Paper makes up the largest percentage of municipal solid waste. In 2010, paper and paperboard made up 29% of municipal trash in the United States. Office buildings are responsible for a hefty portion with the average office worker using approximately 10,000 sheets of paper annually. We’ve done our best to reduce our contribution by virtually eliminating office paper, but generating monthly paper bills for thousands of clients adds up. Paperless billing felt like the next step.
AnswerConnect strives to be a green office. We’ve switched to non-disposable dishes in our break room and energy-efficient bulbs in our light fixtures. We’re thrilled to make another change that is environmentally beneficial, cost-efficient and convenient for our clients. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment or sending us an email to email@example.com.
0 comments | Posted by: Spencer on May 15, 2012 | Categories:
Edward Kantor is president of Empire Diagnostic Solutions, a mobile diagnostics company that early-on identified information technology’s potential for smarter, faster medical diagnostics. Closing the time-lag between medical test and patient report can, when you’re dealing with a serious illness, sometimes mean the difference between recovery and exacerbation: “In diagnostics,” Kantor says, “it’s all about how fast you process your work that affects the final outcome.”
What does Empire Diagnostic Solutions do? How does your approach differ from other diagnostic equipment companies?
We are an IDTF organization. That stands for “independent diagnostic testing facility.” We are licensed by Medicare. That already puts us apart from other diagnostic companies in the same field.
We do medical diagnostic tests of patients. We have over 200 doctors in the [New York] metro area who we work with. When patients see a doctor for a procedure, we come into the doctors office and perform those tests on the premises. By definition, we’re a health care provider, because we’re registered with Medicare. We deal with various diseases, abnormalities and pathologies of the vascular structure and abdominal organs, and cardiovascular diseases. In general, we do ultrasound diagnostic testing, which covers the entire body from head to toe.
To set ourselves aside from other companies, we have obtained all the possible accreditations that a diagnostics company can have in this nation. There is ACR, there is an ICAVL—the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Vascular Laboratories—then there’s also AUIM. All these four accreditations are very tough. ACR is the gold standard of imaging centers. Mobile diagnostics never really went for it, because it’s tough and nowhere is it required. But we decided to have it to show that our quality is the same as that of a hospital imaging center. It’s the same thing for the other two. The IAC-accredited vascular surgeons have to go through [obtaining ICAVL accreditation], so we went though it as well, to demonstrate that our quality is the same as a vascular surgeons’.
First, we stand apart by being IDTF, and second, by having all the accreditations. Some companies have one but not the other. On the East Coast, we’re the only ones who’ve achieved all four accreditations. IAC posted us as their number-one company on their website to show that this mobile company has achieved accreditation.
Third is our technological advancement. The goal is to provide better care, faster, more accurate results and be the dominant company on the East Coast.
How has the personalization of digital technology affected EDS?
It has changed the way we approach business dramatically. Information technology is the biggest part of our company, a branch—actually a separate company—called Universal Software.
Based on our experience in health care, we’ve developed our proprietary workflow application. This was built to simplify your daily workflow of office routines. So many things go into processing patient data: from data entry, document management—scanning—to sorting it to various physicians, to billing—insurance companies—and receiving payments, scheduling, logistics, equipment tracking. On any given day, we have about 27 mobile units on the road, with 30 techs carrying those units. So we have very solid business logistics built into that application.
Two years ago, we were using various applications—just regular folders for scanning patients, on hard drives. Our scheduling was done on paper. It took so long. We were only working with 80 doctors, doing 1,500 tests a month. Now we do 4,300 tests per month and we work with 200 doctors. And our staff hasn’t increased, because of the implementation of that workflow application that we designed.
It’s accessible from the iPad. Referring physicians have access to it, because it’s a cloud-based. They can pull up patient reports in seconds.
How will EDS operate differently in the next five years?
When we started our business six years ago, we jumped a couple years ahead of ourselves. Everybody else was still using thermal printers to print ultrasound images. We invested in the PACS system. PACS [picture archiving and communication system] is a radiology-based digital system that allows you to, once you acquire an ultrasound image, keep it digitally, and the physician can receive these images. We invested in this system; we spent thousands of dollars; we decided early-on that we wanted to be digital.
Then we saw an opportunity to build our own application, because we had the knowledge and the capability. We hired a very intelligent programmer. And it turns out, after two years, that we’ve built a product that’s now universal, for any mobile radiology group—not knowing back then that we were going to have a separate product to deliver, and now it’s selling already on the market. We’re going to continue to innovate our workflow application. We have a very extensive backlog of all the features we want to add. A sales and marketing module, analytics for profitability, all of this will be entered into workflow application.
When I say “it saves time in processing,” I mean that it saves time in getting the final result. In diagnostics, it’s all about how fast you process your work that affects the final outcome. If we take a day or two days to process a file, that patient result will come back in 3-4 days to the physician. To be able to process this data within a day and generate a result by the next day, that beats the national standard and it gives better patient care. Some abnormalities are severe, and they require immediate results. We can often provide 3-4 hours turnaround time.
Given the evolving field of health care in the United States, how might EDS adapt?
Originally, when Obama proposed Obamacare, two things came to my mind. First, it’s going to create competition for private insurance. Right now, private insurance is not regulated. They all follow the same criteria, but they all have high fees. If Obamacare is released, they’re going to have a much lower rate, to attract more people. Private insurance companies will have to become competitive. That’s the first thing to my mind—it’ll create healthy competition for the private insurance industry.
Secondly, due to Obama’s health care rates being so low, and because it’s going to be mandatory to have insurance, it’s going to increase the amount of people who are insured, which will increase our business. More patients will be able to go for testing that currently do not, because they pay out of pocket. But having so many millions more people insured, it opens so many more avenues for us to serve patients that we’ve never been able to access before.
What’s been a major business challenge, and how are you approaching it?
This constant game of bringing new accounts to the business. You can’t really say, “I have 200 doctors now; these are my clients, and I’ll be okay for the next five years. All I’ll do is service those doctors.” That’ll never work in this business. The doctors might move to a private office. They might move to another state. They might exhaust their patient population. But that’s the nature of the business, and I would never call it an obstacle.
We solve this by constantly having people marketing our services, in the field. We bring in 8-10 accounts per month.
We have over 60 employees, and half of them are in the field—that includes the technologists and sales and marketing. These rest are in-office, doing processing and management. We have Christmas party events and annual company outings, where the whole company participates in activities. We have various company holidays and national holidays that we all celebrate together. It’s a very family-like approach. I like to treat everybody like family, and I think they answer back with the same respect.
What do you love about your job?
I love being part of the process. I’m here early in the morning, before everybody gets in. My most productive hours are from 7:30-9:00 in the morning, and then from 5:00-7:00 pm. That’s when I’m by myself. I can knock out things I need to do. From 9:00-5:00, I’m involved in every department. I love being in the action and solving problems and issues during the day, being involved with routine operations, and being part of the team.
0 comments | Posted by: Terri on November 17, 2011 | Categories:
Phone message answering services are joining the ranks of modern-day business tools, like email and cloud storage, that are building paperless offices.
Paperless offices make tremendous economic and environmental sense, which explains why more and more businesses are making the shift. The environmental benefits are obvious. By reducing paper manufacturing, you reduce deforestation, pesticide and herbicide use, soil loss, fragile monoculture forests (which are susceptible to disease and pest epidemics, unlike robust polycultures) municipal solid waste, water and air pollution—it’s a long list, which plenty of brand-savvy businesses will happily recite to tout their supposed environmental commitment.
Even government offices at all levels throughout the United States are going paperless to increase efficiency and reduce waste. The Indiana General Assembly, for one, is trying out paperless legislature. They hope to make a difference by reducing the “11,400 pages for each bill the legislature considers.” Schools are beginning to follow suit by replacing paper and textbooks—which are extremely expensive for schools—with iPads and “open textbooks,” available online and (for the moment) free.
Whether environmentally friendly or greenwashed, brand-savvy or not, every profitable business and viable organization cares about their economic bottom line: Paperless offices are more efficient, agile and, yes, cheaper.
Consider file cabinets. When offices archive their information digitally, rather than filing cabinets and physical folders, information becomes infinitely easier to access, edit, share and archive. No more bookshelf-sized filing cabinets; paperless offices store their records in secure online servers. No more printers, no more boxes of paper and no more expensive printer ink or toner.
Or consider written documents. Letters have been mostly replaced by email and chat. Printed documents are becoming rare; now, with shared applications, collaborating and editing takes place online instead of on hard-copy. Smart phones and tablet apps are replacing calendars, planners, index cards and notebooks.
And because written messages can be illegible, and paper is easily destroyed or misplaced, phone message answering services are replacing the humble “While You Were Out” memo.
When a remote operator takes a message, they can send it instantly (by email or otherwise) to one person or a group of people, anywhere. Message recipients can then access that message online, regardless of their location, and they can hang onto it as long as they want.
A phone message answering service is one of many steps toward a completely paperless, more efficient office. But it’s a crucial one.