Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Why Firing Clients is Sometimes a Good Idea"

Imagine a world where all of your clients value what you do. A world where every client you have doesn’t try to lowball you and negotiate your rates down, and a world where these clients pay you on time, refer you to their friends, and keep coming back for more business.

Now wake up. You’re in the real world. Sure, you hopefully have some really great clients, but there’s a good chance you have a few who are less than ideal. It’s inevitable. We’ve all dealt with bad clients, but most of us just force a smile and put up with it. The bad client makes every interaction you have with them totally miserable, but you just don’t have the courage to cut ties with them and send them packing.

That’s because we’ve been taught that the customer is always right. We’ve been led to believe that we have to bow down to the customer and do whatever he says, but that’s just not true.

The truth is firing bad clients is almost always a good idea. Sure, it might temporarily cost you, but by focusing your business on attracting ideal clients, you’ll weed out the bad ones and eventually build up a strong base of profitable clients who are a pleasure to deal with. And guess what? Good clients tend to refer other good clients.

So, just what makes a bad client? You know the signs. They’re usually:

    * Cheap and pushing you to lower your prices

    * Slow to pay

    * Complaining about your work and demand constant attention and coddling

    * Threatening to take their business elsewhere

    * Asking you to do more work than what you agreed to

    * Difficult to get in contact with, but expect you to be available at their beck and call

I don’t know about you, but I started my own business to get away from overly demanding, abusive “bosses”. Now, I’m in a position where I can choose who I do and don’t work with, and I take full advantage of that fact.

You should do. You’ll be happier, and your business will be more profitable as you won’t spend all of your time managing terrible clients.

How to Fire Bad Clients

Hopefully, you agree that firing bad clients is a good idea, but just how do you go about it? While you might really want to drop a “F*** you” bomb on them, that’s probably not the best idea for your business’ image.

Here are some more appropriate ways to fire bad clients.

    * Make sure you’ve fulfilled your contractual obligations—Before you can fire the client, you need to make sure you’re in a good legal position to do so. If you’ve delivered everything you’ve agreed upon, feel free to move forward.

    * Explain that the relationship isn’t best for both parties—Without getting nasty or blaming the client, simply explain that you feel the client would be better served taking their business elsewhere. You can even refer them to other companies if you want.

    * No means no—As a freelancer, I’ve fired my fair share of clients, and I’ve had many try to win me back by offering to increase my rates or just be a better client. A few times, I’ve bitten and taken the client back, but every time, the same issues popped back up. Trust me when I say this—A bad client will always be a bad client, no matter how much they’re paying you. Stick to your guns and end the relationship.

Have you ever fired a client? Do you think it was a good decision?

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pointers: How to weather typhoons


• Keep note of emergency hotlines in your area. Hotline numbers are: 734-2118, 734-2120, 911-5061, 912-5668 (National Disaster Coordinating Council); 527-6136 (Coast Guard); 16220 (Manila Electric Co.); 136 (Metro Manila Development Authority); 143, 527-0000 (Philippine National Red Cross); 931-8101 (Department of Social Welfare and Development); 117 (Philippine National Police); 1626 (Maynilad).

• Store an adequate supply of food and clean water. Prepare food that need not be cooked.

• Keep flashlights, candles and battery-powered radios within easy reach. Should you need to evacuate, bring clothes, first-aid kit, candles/flashlight, battery-powered radio, food, etc.
• Examine your house and repair its unstable parts.

• Harvest crops that can be yielded already.

• Secure domesticated animals in a safe place.

• For fisher folk, place boats in a safe area.

• Monitor the news or your local weather station for updates on the storm situation, when it will hit and how strong it will be.

• If floods or landslides had previously occurred in your area, secure your appliances and other belongings and head to evacuation centers. Also, consider if you are on or near heavily saturated ground, which is very susceptible to mudflows and debris.

• If you think your area is relatively safe, locate the main power switch of your house and be ready to shut off electricity in case of flood.

• Move to higher ground. Move away from creeks, streams, rivers and storm drains to avoid possible flash floods and landslides. Flash floods can sweep over an area without warning, and you may only have minutes to get to safety. Note that flash floods can occur up to 12 hours after heavy rains.

• Check your gutters to make sure they are clear of leaves and debris. You can opt to leave some possessions with someone who is not in a flood-prone area.

• Move vehicles to higher ground. Make sure these have enough fuel and will start quickly in case of emergency evacuation.

• Make sure there are no items outside your house that can be thrown by strong winds and hurt or kill. Board up or cover windows. Secure trees close to your home with ropes so they don’t fall and crush your roof. Trim branches that may snap off and injure others.

• Immediately charge all essential electronics like cellular phones, which you will have to use in case of emergencies.

• You should have a 72-hour survival kit stocked with essential supplies, including flashlights, battery-operated radio, weather radio, spare batteries, at least three gallons of water per person, ready-to-eat food, canned goods, can opener, first-aid supplies and medicines. Also stock up on clothes, including raincoats and rubber boots.

• Prepare special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members and your pets as well.

• If applicable, keep copies of your home or insurance papers inside sealed plastic bags.

• Prepare your escape routes. Practice what you will do in case of floods, flash floods or landslides. Map out safe routes where you can get from your office to your home. Coordinate with your neighbors.

• Decide on a meeting place away from your home where you and your family will gather if you need to leave your home and family members become separated. Prepare escape gear like floating devices, snorkels, swimming gear or inflatable rafts for worst flooding scenarios.


• Stay alert and awake. Many deaths, particularly from landslides, occur while people are sleeping.

• Keep your radios tuned to a local radio station and follow all instructions. If you are told to evacuate, move out of the house or building to safe, high ground.

• Turn off all electricity using your breaker box (main power switch) and turn off the main gas valve. Disconnect any equipment that uses water (like washing machines and dishwashers). Never leave fires unattended.

• Never walk or swim through swiftly moving water. Avoid flooded areas. Floodwaters that are above your knees are dangerous. Turn around and go back to higher ground.

• Never try to cross floodwaters standing or in a vehicle. Water that is 2 feet deep can carry away most cars, including Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs). If you find floodwaters on the road, turn around and find an alternate route. Abandon your vehicle immediately if it becomes surrounded with water or the engine stalls. Seek higher ground immediately.

• Try to stop water from entering your home by putting plugs in sinks and baths and weigh them down with a sandbag, pillowcase or a plastic bag filled with garden soil or a heavy object. Plug water inlet pipes with towels or cloth.

• Attempt to keep contact with your neighbors to make sure everyone is safe and so that you can pool (and later ration) supplies when the situation calls for it.

• Be especially alert when driving. If your car is swept into the water and submerged, do not panic. Stay calm, hold your breath, force your way outside, and swim to the surface.

• If you are swept into fast-moving floodwaters outside of your car, point your feet downstream. Always go over obstacles, never try to go under. Do not enter floodwaters.

• Watch out for collapsed pavement, mud, fallen rocks and other indications of possible debris flow.

• If you are stranded on something above floodwaters, such as a tree or building, stay put and wait for rescue. Call for help if you are in danger.


• Even if the storm is clear, keep listening to weather reports and only return to evacuated buildings if you are told it is safe to do so. Beware of sharp objects and pollution in flood water.

• If your house was damaged, make sure it is already safe and stable before you enter.

• Beware of dangerous animals, such as snakes, that may have entered your house.

• Watch out for live wires or outlet immersed in water.

• Report damaged electrical cables and fallen electric posts to the authorities. Report power meters that have been submerged in floodwaters to Meralco.

• Do not turn on the main power switch or attempt to use electrical appliances that have been wet, because there are hazards of electric shock and fire. Allow several days for extension cords, connectors and other wiring devices to dry completely. Use rubber gloves and wear rubber sole shoes when removing mud and dirt from the main circuit breaker or fuse.

• Avoid water-borne diseases. Assume that any water in flooded or surrounding areas is not safe unless local authorities expressly declared it to be so. If there is no safe water supply for washing, use bottled water or disinfected water (by adding five drops of liquid household bleach and let sit for 30 minutes).

• Before entering an area that has been flooded, put on protective clothing to avoid contact with floodwaters. Decrease the risk of mosquito or other insect bites by using repellants. Throw away all food (even canned ones) that had come in contact with floodwaters.

• Stay away from landslide areas until local officials say it is safe to enter. Watch for flooding, which sometimes follow landslides and debris flows.

• Once permitted to enter landslide areas, check your house’s foundation and surrounding land for damage. Replant damaged ground as soon as possible because erosion can further lead to flash flooding.

• Do not let water accumulate in tires, cans or pots to avoid creating a favorable condition for mosquito breeding.—Compiled by Almi Ilagan, Inquirer Research

Sources: Pagasa, ABS-CBN News, American Red Cross, DZMM, Philippine Red Cross

Friday, October 15, 2010

Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s Disease

fresh coconut halves on beach  How worried should drug companies be about supplements eating into their monopoly profits? A lot—as this story will show. Please share it with anyone you know who is suffering from Alzheimer’s or is worried about it.
Of course, just about everyone worries about Alzheimer’s. It currently afflicts 5.2 million people in the US and is the seventh leading cause of death. The cost of treating it is estimated at $148 billion.

Mary Newport, MD, has been medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at Spring Hill Regional Hospital in Florida since it opened in 2003. About the same time the unit opened, her husband Steve, then 53, began showing signs of progressive dementia, later diagnosed as Alzheimer’s Disease. “Many days, often for several days in a row, he was in a fog; couldn’t find a spoon or remember how to get water out of the refrigerator,” she said.

They started him on Alzheimer’s drugs—Aricept, Namenda, Exelon—but his disease worsened steadily. (It should be noted that the latest research shows that the various Alzheimer’s drugs, like Aricept, have proven disappointing, with little real benefit and often distressing side effects.) When Dr. Newport couldn’t get her husband into a drug trial for a new Alzheimer’s medication, she started researching the mechanism behind Alzheimer’s.

She discovered that with Alzheimer’s disease, certain brain cells may have difficulty utilizing glucose (made from the carbohydrates we eat), the brain’s principal source of energy. Without fuel, these precious neurons may begin to die. There is an alternative energy source for brain cells—fats known as ketones. If deprived of carbohydrates, the body produces ketones naturally.

But this is the hard way to do it—who wants to cut carbohydrates out of the diet completely? Another way to produce ketones is by consuming oils that have medium-chain triglycerides. When MCT oil is digested, the liver converts it into ketones. In the first few weeks of life, ketones provide about 25 percent of the energy newborn babies need to survive.

Dr. Newport learned that the ingredient in the drug trial which was showing so much promise was simply MCT oil derived from coconut oil or palm kernel oil, and that a dose of 20 grams (about 20 ml or 4 teaspoons) was used to produce these results. When MCT oil is metabolized, the ketones which the body creates may, according to the latest research, not only protect against the incidence of Alzheimer’s, but may actually reverse it. Moreover, this is also a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), drug-resistant epilepsy, brittle type I diabetes, and type II (insulin-resistant) diabetes.

So Mr. Newport, not being able to get into the drug trial, started taking the coconut oil twice a day. At this point, he could barely remember how to draw a clock. Two weeks after adding coconut oil to his diet, his drawing improved. After 37 days, Steve’s drawing gained even more clarity. The oil seemed to “lift the fog,” and in the first sixty days, Dr. Newport saw remarkable changes in him: every morning he was alert and happy, talkative, making jokes. His gait was “still a little weird,” but his tremor was no longer very noticeable. He was able to concentrate on things that he wanted to do around the house and in the yard and stay on task, whereas before coconut oil he was easily distractible and rarely accomplished anything unless he was directly supervised.

Over the next year, the dementia continued to reverse itself: he is able to run again, his reading comprehension has improved dramatically, and his short-term memory is improving—he often brings up events that happened days to weeks earlier and relays telephone conversations with accurate detail. A recent MRI shows that the brain atrophy has been completely halted.

Let’s take a moment to consider what actually happened here. Synthetic (patentable) Alzheimer’s drugs have failed. A drug company reluctantly decides to put a non-patentable natural substance (medium-chain triglycerides derived from coconut or palm) through an FDA trial. It works. But, darn it, a smart doctor figures out that a natural food can be substituted for the super-expensive drug. Not only that, the ketones from natural coconut oil last in the body longer than the drug version—eight hours instead of three hours. This is enough to make a drug company start worrying about its future. What if this natural health idea really catches on? Goodbye to monopoly profits!
Coconut oil can be found in many health food stores and even some grocery stores. One large chain sells a non-hydrogenated (no trans-fat) brand of coconut oil in a one-liter size (nearly 32 ounces) for about $7. It can be purchased in quantities as small as a pint and up to five gallons online. It is important to use coconut oil that is non-hydrogenated and contains no trans-fat. We would also strongly encourage the use of virgin oil (chemicals used to extract non-virgin oil are potentially dangerous, and better still, virgin organic, still quite reasonably priced.)

For more information, see Dr. Newport’s website. Sadly, you will not find any information on ketones, or the use of coconut oil or MCT oil, on the Alzheimer’s Association website.

Coconut oil is not the only natural product that has the potential to turn Alzheimer’s around. We will cover some other ones, and drug industry efforts to steal some of them, in a future issue.