July 6, 2008
I monitor my credit score regularly. While I wouldn’t say that I live in fear of identity theft, I am aware of it, and would like to avoid it. Carrie has had some problems just because there is another Carrie Martin in Tacoma with her same birthday who is not a fine, upstanding citizen with good credit.
The scoring method has been shrouded in mystery and I have always been intrigued by the process. (You know I love to know how things work!)
Ron at the Wisdom Journal (a great blog that I have repeatedly suggested you should investigate) has a great article that is an interview of a FICO expert that explains this stuff in simple terms for those of us who weren’t finance or economics majors.
I recently had the great pleasure and honor to conduct an email interview with Barry Paperno from www.myFICO.com. Barry is an expert in the field of credit scoring. My questions were selected from things I personally wondered about, as well as some questions I’ve been asked by readers in the past. Here is the interview in its entirety.
1. What EXACTLY is a “credit score?”
A credit score is a number that summarizes your credit risk based on a snapshot of your credit report as of a particular point in time. The credit score that matters is the “FICO” credit score, developed by Fair Isaac Corporation and most commonly used by lenders, which uses a range of 300-850 with the higher the score, the lower the risk.
2. What are the components of a credit score? (what information is evaluated and how is that information weighted?)
The five main categories of information that FICO scores evaluate, followed by their estimated weights, are:
- Payment history (35%)
- Amounts owed (30%)
- Length of credit history (15%)
- New credit (10%)
- Types of credit used (10%)
It’s a great interview. Read it all here.
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I don’t think that anyone necessarily plans to be alone and lonely; sometimes it just happens. Perhaps it’s because they got caught up in a career race, or they live somewhere with a limited dating pool. Maybe they’ve been dating the wrong person, they’re divorced, or perhaps it’s because they have simply postponed couplehood until nearly everyone they know is paired up, and the ones who aren’t simply don’t look appealing. However it happens, there comes a day when as satisfying as being a singleton may have been, they suddenly realize that they…are lonely.
My friend Judie at Gear Diary is doing a series about online dating. She is a grown woman, with a grown child, and a growing business. She would like to have some companionship, as would, I am sure, many of you.
She has published the first in a five part series. This one is about how she is choosing which service to use.
Part 2 is about writing your profile. (I will add links to the remaining posts as I get them.)
My favorite online dating comment is from a client. She sent an email to eHarmony after having used their service for a few months. It went something like this:
I did as you asked. I filled out all the forms and was completly honest. I am pretty sure I told you that I am really shallow and that looks are improtant to me. Why do you keep sending me ugly men?
May 14, 2008
I haven’t gotten into digital music. I don’t have an iPod and I don’t want one.
I know. You are stunned.
How can it be that the girl who so loves technology can be so behind the times in this arena?
I like the album as a concept. I like the idea of musicians creating a complete piece of art. Where one song leads to another and the songs together tell a bigger story. I was never one to listen to just the “hit” song on an album. I buy CD’s and if I want, I can copy them to my computer or my PDA.
If all we do in the future is sell individual songs, what motivation is there to create the art that is an album? I find that sad. I know that things change. I know that what I want doesn’t matter and I try not to complain about it.
One thing I particularly love is cover art. I like having a visual connection to my music. In the world of the single song, album cover art becomes irrelevant, and that makes me sad, too.
Is Album Art Dying?
The music industry has undergone more drastic changes in the past 25 years then the previous 125 years before. In 1982, the compact disc was introduced to the public and replaced the need for LP’s and cassette tapes. With the introduction of Napster in 1999, music downloading has steadily become the recommended way to obtain music. Consumers no longer have to go to their local record store and buy music; it is now just a mouse click away. Moreover, there is no need to purchase an entire recording as you can now only purchase the tracks you want to listen to.
According to an article posted on Seeking Alpha in January of 2007, digital sales are showing a steady increase while album sales continue to decline. As this digital trend maintains momentum, will the need for album covers eventually be phased out like records were? Is visual art in music packaging dying?
Album art has long been just as important as the music on the record. Can you imagine a different cover for Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon or Nirvana’s Nevermind? The album cover evokes what is inside and you can almost hear the music simply by looking at it.
I don’t see how a one inch square photo can give me the same thrill as a big LP did, but I will try to keep up with the times so that you all don’t call me an old fart.
The technology I do like is satellite radio. We have Click! cable at the salon, I have Sirius in my car and the husband has XM in his. I like not having commercials, and I like having someone else mix the music. Not knowing what is coming is interesting to me.
May 5, 2008
Got $300 bucks sitting around you don’t know what to do with? Maybe you would like a pair of these.
Posted on 30 April 2008 by Judie Lipsett
I first saw a post regarding a concept shoe with convertible heels on Book of Joe back in 2005, and now it looks like an easier to operate variation of the same idea has actually come to pass. Say hello to CAMiLEON, a company which produces women’s shoes with heels that can adjust from a pratical walking height of 1½” to a sassy 3¼”.
CAMiLEON’s heels contain “mechanisms that hold it into place for both the high heel and low heel positions and a stainless steel rod, which runs through the entire length of the heel. The portion of our heel that is stowed underneath the arch region of the shoe, when in the low heel position, is actually made out of aluminum. Additionally, every heel is coated with 6 coats of paint, resulting in a beautiful high-gloss finish. While essentially every other brand of attaches its heel to the shoe with nails, or nails and glue, we attach every heel with four screws.”
I took a look at some of the styles offered on their site, and I have to tell you that I like what I see. The Mary Jane shown in the conversion process is actually one of my favorite styles, and I also like the Mariella shown below. I love the idea of a lower heel for daytime that can convert into a dressier heel for evening.
April 27, 2008
Texas and Georgia are six years old now. For a Great Dane, that’s not young. Georgia is as spry as ever and has only a small amount of gray in her black coat. Texas, The Old Man with lots of gray, occasionally shows signs of a painful hip. It’s by no means debilitating for him, and he seems perfectly fine except for a handful of times a year when he seems to really be in pain.
My sister has worked in the veterinary industry for ages and has recently become involved in the holistic area of veterinary practice. She is currently in the planning stages of opening an integrative practice where animals can be treated with the best of all modalities.
When Texas had his last episode this week, I emailed her for advice on what direction to go for the poor old guy. Her answer was so thorough and helpful, that I thought I would share it here in case any of you had similar troubles.
March 17, 2008
We all know there is business advice available on the internet, but for many of us, we don’t know where to begin looking for the answers. I found a publication put together by Hewlett Packard that is a collection of advice from online business writers. Not only is the publication full of good advice, it is a great list of experts (full of links to their websites where you can get even more help!) I am a big believer in taking advantage of all the free information you can find.
It is always easier to travel the road if you have tales and tips from those that have gone before.
A Letter from the Publisher of Small Business Trends
Welcome to our first—but not last—eBook featuring tips and advice learned from 100 savvy readers.
It was humbling to see the breadth and quality of these reader-contributed pointers. The knowledge of many is far greater than the knowledge of one. No matter how much one person might know, it pales when compared to the wisdom of those who live and breathe the need to go out and get and retain customers every day in order to put food on the table.
I’m reminded of the narrow margin for error under which most small businesses operate. As one reader said, “Market or die! When you’re a small business owner, if you don’t succeed at marketing, your business literally could die.”
And small businesses have to make everything count. As George Langan, CEO of eXpresso (www.expressocorp.com) told me, “When you’re on a tight startup budget, you can’t afford a $2,000-a-month marketing mistake.”
Throughout the submitted tips, I noticed three themes over and over:
1. Simple and inexpensive tools are more popular than complex or pricey approaches.
“Duh!” you might be thinking. “Isn’t it obvious that entrepreneurs and small businesses, being on tight budgets, would favor low-cost approaches?” Well, yes and no. What was surprising is just how many of the tips cost literally nothing but your time. A large proportion of others, such as those that focused on using business cards or blogging, can be done for hundreds, not thousands, of dollars. So don’t be tempted to throw up your hands and say “I can’t afford marketing.” You can.
2. Authenticity, friendliness and relationships matter.
When you count your customers in the single or double digits, as opposed to the thousands or hundreds of thousands, relationships tend to matter much more deeply. The importance of smiling and being friendly was brought up again and again. Doing something nice for others and being yourself were common themes. Most small businesses are NOT about mass marketing campaigns. Instead, we rely on attracting and retaining a relatively small number of customers to be successful. A solo consultant or small Web design firm may have as few as five or six regular customers. For small businesses, investing in relationship building goes a long way.
3. Creative online marketing plays a key role.
We drew tips from those who are active online, so on the one hand you might think that the results would naturally be skewed toward online marketing. And to a degree I suppose that’s true. But I was surprised by the sophistication of the online marketing—especially on limited budgets. Some of the online approaches are very detailed and go far beyond the plain-vanilla “create a nice Web site” type of advice. A number of the small-business marketing techniques represented in this document get into advanced online marketing, including social media marketing.
I just read a story (with pictures) written by a young woman about her devastating salon visit and her oath to never visit a male hairdressser again. Objectively I can say that a.) she is percieveing her end result differenly than most of us would and b.) the gender of the hairdresser had nothing to do with what happened.
I want you to read it because it will help you understand that what you see and what the client sees are often different.
This client states that she only wants a maximum of 2″ cut from the bottom. She also makes it a point during the cut to chat about past cuts that had gone awry where she ended up too short. When you have a client in your chair that is giving you these signals, please heed them! Hairdressers have a reputation for being scissor happy and for wanting to chop off long hair. Please do your best to listen to the client and when they give specific requests, please grant them. If you think the client needs more length removed, explain what you think and why and then let them make an informed choice. My favorite technique is to turn them around and use a hand mirror to view the back of their hair. I show them where the cape can be seen through the hair and suggest that the hair might look thicker if we trimmed it up to that point. It is often effective. (I know that to us their is no difference between a “cut” and a “trim” but to many clients there is. Try to pick up on their cues.)
When they say 2″, I grab my old-school plastic comb from the back of the drawer (you know, the one you used in beauty school that has the inch markings on it) and I show them 2″. Then, using the comb as a guide, I cut 2″ off the bottom and show them the hair I removed. Next I ask them if that is OK. Now we can proceed with the rest of the haircut and the client can relax.
When you meet a client who has already had bad salon experiences, handle them gently. Talk them through the process so that they feel that they are being heard.