The 4 Best, and 3 Worst, Sweeteners to Have in Your Kitchen – 1 – MSN Health – Nutrition Slide Show

All of us want to make our life a little sweeter…Just make sure your sweetener choice isn’t actually making your life shorter.

Very fascinating (and terrifying) new data from MSN Health.

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Seth’s Blog: Three things clients and customers want

Not just the first one.

And not all three.

But you really need at least one.

1. Results. If you can offer a return on investment, an engineering solution, more sales, no tax audits, a cute haircut, the fastest rollercoaster, a pristine beach, reliable insurance payouts at the best price, peace of mind, productive consulting or any other measurable result, this is a great place to start.

2. Thrills. More difficult to quantify but often as important, partners and customers respond to heroism. We are amazed and drawn to over the top effort, incredible risk taking on our behalf, the blood, sweat and tears that (rarely) comes from a great partner. A smart person working harder on your behalf than you’d be willing to work–that’s pretty compelling.

3. Ego. Is it nice to feel important? You bet. When you greet us at the door with a glass of white wine, put our name in the lobby of the hotel, actually treat us better than anyone else does (not just promise it, but do it)… This can get old really fast if you industrialize and systemize it, though.

This explains why the local branch of the big insurance company has trouble growing. It’s hard for them to outdeliver the other guys when it comes to the cost effectiveness of their policy (#1). They are unsuited from a personality and organizational point of view to do #2. And they just can’t scale the third.

Put just about any business with partners into this matrix and you see how it works. Book publishing, for sure. Hairdressers. Spas. Even real estate.

The Ritz Carlton is all about #3, ego, right? And on a good day, there’s a perception that the guys at Apple are hellbent on amazing us yet again, delivering on #2, taking huge career and corporate risks on our behalf. As soon as they stop doing that, the tribe will get bored.

(There’s a variation of ego, #3, that comes from being in good company. This is what gets people to sign up for Davos, or to choose ICM as their agent. Your ego is stroked by knowing that only people as cool as you are part of this gig. Sort of the anti-Groucho opportunity. Nice position, if you can get it, because it scales.).

It’s tempting, particularly for a small business, to obsess about the first—results—to spend all its time trying to prove that the ROI is higher, the brownies are tastier and the coaching is more effective. You’d be amazed at how far you can go with the other two, if you commit to doing it, not merely talking about it.

What if we all were to focus on these things? Can you imagine the impact we could have on our customers, on our communities, on the collective good?!

Delivering real (not just perceived) results, routinely creating WOW moments, and making others feel important. What a nice (and profitable) way of doing business.

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Amazing Posts: 50 Things Everyone Should Know

  1. The word “queue” is the only word in the English language that is still pronounced the same way when the last four letters are removed.
  2. Beetles taste like apples, wasps like pine nuts, and worms like fried bacon.
  3. Of all the words in the English language, the word ‘set’ has the most definitions!
  4. What is called a “French kiss” in the English speaking world is known as an “English kiss” in France.
  5. “Almost” is the longest word in the English language with all the letters in alphabetical order.
  6. “Rhythm” is the longest English word without a vowel.
  7. In 1386, a pig in France was executed by public hanging for the murder of a child
  8. A cockroach can live several weeks with its head cut off!Human thigh bones are stronger than concrete.
  9. You can’t kill yourself by holding your breath
  10. There is a city called Rome on every continent.
  11. It’s against the law to have a pet dog in Iceland!
  12. Your heart beats over 100,000 times a day!
  13. Horatio Nelson, one of England’s most illustrious admirals was throughout his life, never able to find a cure for his sea-sickness.
  14. The skeleton of Jeremy Bentham is present at all important meetings of the University of London
  15. Right handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people
  16. Your ribs move about 5 million times a year, everytime you breathe!
  17. The elephant is the only mammal that can’t jump!
  18. One quarter of the bones in your body, are in your feet!
  19. Like fingerprints, everyone’s tongue print is different!
  20. The first known transfusion of blood was performed as early as 1667, when Jean-Baptiste, transfused two pints of blood from a sheep to a young man
  21. Fingernails grow nearly 4 times faster than toenails!
  22. Most dust particles in your house are made from dead skin!
  23. The present population of 5 billion plus people of the world is predicted to become 15 billion by 2080.
  24. Women blink nearly twice as much as men.
  25. Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian, and had only ONE testicle.
  26. Honey is the only food that does not spoil. Honey found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs has been tasted by archaeologists and found edible.
  27. Months that begin on a Sunday will always have a “Friday the 13th.”
  28. Coca-Cola would be green if colouring weren’t added to it.
  29. On average a hedgehog’s heart beats 300 times a minute.
  30. More people are killed each year from bees than from snakes.
  31. The average lead pencil will draw a line 35 miles long or write approximately 50,000 English words.
  32. More people are allergic to cow’s milk than any other food.
  33. Camels have three eyelids to protect themselves from blowing sand.
  34. The placement of a donkey’s eyes in its’ heads enables it to see all four feet at all times!
  35. The six official languages of the United Nations are: English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Spanish.
  36. Earth is the only planet not named after a god.
  37. It’s against the law to burp, or sneeze in a church in Nebraska, USA.
  38. You’re born with 300 bones, but by the time you become an adult, you only have 206.
  39. Some worms will eat themselves if they can’t find any food!
  40. Dolphins sleep with one eye open!
  41. It is impossible to sneeze with your eyes open
  42. The worlds oldest piece of chewing gum is 9000 years old!
  43. The longest recorded flight of a chicken is 13 seconds
  44. Queen Elizabeth I regarded herself as a paragon of cleanliness. She declared that she bathed once every three months, whether she needed it or not
  45. Slugs have 4 noses.
  46. Owls are the only birds who can see the colour blue.
  47. A man named Charles Osborne had the hiccups for 69 years!
  48. A giraffe can clean its ears with its 21-inch tongue!
  49. The average person laughs 10 times a day!
  50. An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain

More Amazing Facts

How many can you check off that you knew already?!

Make yourself smarter…or at least give yourself something to talk about at your next mixer…

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The Best Small Business Investment You Can Make | BNET


Truly your greatest asset~~none other like it!!

Have you made a deposit in the “account of you” today?

Isn’t it time? The compounding interest effect of just investing 1% of your time in YOU on a daily basis will truly astonish you.

Start today and reap the rewards!!

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Top 5 Reasons an MBA is a Bad Investment | BNET

For years, an MBA degree has been seen as a first-class ticket to the management fast track. People spend $100,000 (or more!) to earn the degree, confident that it will propel their career into overdrive.

Even so, the once-golden MBA is quickly losing its luster.   Let’s face it: the degree has been WAY over-hyped, MBA curricula are out of touch with real-world demands, and many programs have a culture that fosters some awful management habits.

With that in mind, here are the top five reasons your MBA may not be worth the money you’ll pay for it.

CLICK for the first reason »


Illustrations by Sergey Oganesov

Ouch!! Sometimes the truth hurts. Having watched my college-age children experience the pain of 6-figure debt, I definitely share the opinion that “old-school” degrees are truly living up to their name: antiquated, outdated, and over-rated.

Could this be the end of higher education as we know it? Food for thought, as you ponder this article from BNET.

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10 Small Business Tax Mistakes That Will Cost You | BNET

There’s not an entrepreneur on the planet who likes thinking about taxes. I know, it’s only February, so you’re likely still in deep denial about April 15. But it’s time to get organized! Almost every aspect of your business has tax ramifications and if you don’t know what they are, you’re inviting trouble down the road (can you say “audit?”).

For tips, I recently spoke to Sandy Botkin, a CPA, attorney, former trainer of IRS attorneys, and the CEO of The Tax Reduction Institute in Germantown, MD.  He’s also the author of “Lower Your Taxes — Big Time 2011-2012.” Botkin shared 10 common tax misconceptions that both fledgling and experienced small business owners are guilty of. How many of these phrases have you uttered?

1. “I can do it myself.” “Most small business owners do not have the tax knowledge they need to stay out of trouble, but they won’t pay for planning,” says Botkin. “They’re cheap so they use TurboTax.  But TurboTax won’t represent them if they get into trouble.” Sure, as a member of the profession, Botkin has a vested interest in recommending that you hire a CPA. Maybe you really are capable of doing your own tax planning. Maybe you can also rewire your office, build your own website, and represent yourself in court. That doesn’t mean you should. Just sayin’.

2. “I keep my receipts so I don’t need a tax diary. Every small business owner must keep an accurate tax organizer, says Botkin, and it’s not the same thing as an expense log. “A tax organizer has all the questions that the IRS requires you to answer about travel, entertainment, and other expenses. It will bulletproof your records and eliminate procrastination, and if you’re audited, it shifts the burden of proof to the IRS,” he says. Anything that allows you to feel smug in the presence of an auditor has got to be worth its price, which is not cheap in this case. You’ll spend over $100 for a decent tax organizer/diary.

3. “Yay! A big fat refund. Many people are thrilled when they get a big check from the IRS. Wrong reaction, says Botkin.  “A refund means you’ve given the government interest-free money for a long time,” he says. “If you have withholding, you want to adjust it to the point where you get very little refund.”

4. “I’ll just borrow a little from employee withholding. When they’re short on cash, it’s often tempting for small business owners to dip into the trust fund that’s used for employee withholding and Social Security. “Many employers think ‘ this is my money,’” says Botkin. “It isn’t. If they borrow from withholding or Social Security, they are personally liable, with huge potential penalties.”

5. “Let’s make everyone an independent contractor. Employees are expensive. Independent contractors, not so much. So why not make everyone independent contractor? It’s not that easy, says Botkin.  “If you’re going to designate a worker as independent you have to treat him as independent,” say Botkin.  Typically, independent contractors can make their own hours and have control over where, when, and how work is completed. If the IRS determines that you incorrectly designated an employee as independent, you may be subject to penalties for not collecting Social Security taxes, and for more than 40% of workers compensation for the specified time period.

6. “I can pay myself whatever I please. If you’re incorporated, not really. Say you typically pay yourself $100,000 a year. After a good year, you decide to increase that to $300,000. “You have to substantiate a reason for the increase, or part of the money can be disallowed by the IRS as unreasonable compensation,” says Botkin. “Then it can be taxed at the corporate level, and distributed as a dividend. And then you’ll pay tax on the dividend.” Ouch!

7. “My bookkeeper would never steal from me.” “It’s vital for every small business person to have one person who writes the checks and another person doing the accounting, and never the two shall meet,” says Botkin. He says that he’s met hundreds of small business owners who have had their bank accounts cleaned out by embezzlers. So unless you have a trusted family member handling all your finances, make sure that you have different people handling accounting and accounts payable. Nope, this isn’t a tax tip per se, but drop the ball on this one and you won’t have to worry about paying taxes because you may not have a business.

8. “That can’t possibly be deductible. Not so fast! The dry cleaning for the suits you wore at that business conference in Duluth?  If you were away overnight, it’s deductible, says Botkin. A movie and dinner with friends, with whom you also talked business? Also deductible he says, even if your business discussion didn’t occur at dinner, but within the same 24-hour period as the social engagement.  Just make sure it’s all documented in your tax diary (see #2). Educate yourself on all the juicy deductions you may be missing out on.

9. “This isn’t a hobby, it’s a business. Say the “business” you started, selling seashell picture frames online, consistently loses money (those trips to Cape Cod are expensive, after all). The IRS may decide that you don’t have a business at all, but merely a hobby. In that case, you’ll no longer be entitled to the same deductions. “They’ll also disallow your losses,” says Botkin. “The government is the biggest bookie — they’ll subsidize your losses, but they want part of your profits.”

10. “I can’t afford to hire my kids. Well, sure you can. Especially your kids who are in college. Pay them a reasonable wage for the work they perform (Botkin paid his daughter to build and maintain his website, for instance), and you’ll be able to deduct their wages as a business expense. Then, suggests Botkin, have them use the wages to pay for college. Voila! You’ve just made college tuition deductible. Also, remember that up to $5,800 in income is tax-free for your children.

Do you have some tax advice to share with your fellow entrepreneurs? Let’s hear it.

Further reading:

Image courtesy of Flickr user numberstumper, CC 2.0

The best way to take charge of your business is to “do the hard thing first”…or, as Brian Tracy famously coined the phrase “Eat That Frog!” Of course talking taxes is about as sexy as picking your nose in public, but the smart entrepreneur proactively plans for this inevitable business reality, and profits in the process.
Best selling author Sandy Botkin, former trainer of IRS attorneys, gives these 10 Small Business Tax Mistakes That Will Cost You. The best defense is a good offense: make sure your business strategy doesn’t fall anywhere on this list.

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Feb 10, 9:20 PM EST

APNewsBreak: Amazon closing TX center amid dispute

Associated Press

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Online retail giant is closing a suburban Dallas distribution center and scrapping plans to expand Texas operations after a dispute with the state over millions of dollars in sales taxes, an executive informed employees Thursday in an e-mail obtained by The Associated Press.

Dave Clark, Amazon’s vice president of operations, writes in the e-mail that the center will close April 12 due to Texas’ “unfavorable regulatory climate.” Amazon spokeswoman Mary Osako would not say Thursday how many employees work at the Irving distribution center.

Texas contends Amazon is responsible for sales taxes not collected on online sales in the state. The comptroller’s office last year demanded $269 million in uncollected sales taxes from the company. The case is currently pending before the State Office of Administrative Hearings.

“We regret losing any business in Texas, but our position hasn’t changed: If you have a presence in the state of Texas you are required to pay sales tax, just like any other business that has a presence in Texas,” said Allen Spelce, a spokesman for Texas Comptroller Susan Combs.

Spelce said Texas loses an estimated $600 million in Internet sales taxes every year.

Amazon has been the target of numerous lawsuits filed by states seeking sales taxes on online purchases made from within their borders.

Clark also said in his e-mail that the company was “previously planning to build additional facilities and expand in Texas, bringing more than 1,000 new jobs and tens of millions of investment dollars to the state, and we regret the need to reverse course.” Texas employees who are willing to relocate will be offered positions in other states, Clark said.

“We’ve had ongoing communications over the years encouraging Amazon to expand their business in Texas, and we recently encouraged them to stay in the state,” said Katherine Cesinger, spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry. “We are always mindful of the tax burden on families and businesses in our state, and it is important that Texas clarify the laws regarding this issue to further strengthen the reliability of our tax system and to protect Texas jobs.”

The Irving distribution center, known as a fulfillment center, opened in 2005. During Amazon’s fourth-quarter earnings conference call last month, CFO Tom Szkutak said company had 52 fulfillment centers after adding 13 in 2010.

The Alliance for Main Street Fairness, a lobbying group for small businesses working to eliminate Internet sales tax loopholes, criticized Amazon’s decision to close the Irving center.

“Texas retailers collect and remit sales taxes every day – whether the sale happens in a store or online,” said Danny Diaz, a spokesman for the group. “ was asked to play by the same rules, and has responded by eliminating hundreds of Texas jobs. Amazon could have chosen to collect the sales tax as Texas retailers do, but instead they opted to protect their special sales tax loophole to the detriment of hardworking families.”

Associated Press writer Danny Robbins contributed to this report from Dallas.

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Amazon shuts down in Texas! Are the rumors true? Is Amazon done in the Lone Star State? What does this mean for your online business? And what could it predict for the economy as a whole?
Read this breaking news to discover this surprising move by the online giant.

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