Daily Archives: January 19, 2014

The Long-Stalled World Economy Shifts into Gear


The global economy is finally emerging from the financial crisis. Worldwide, growth came in at an estimated 2.4 percent in 2013, and is expected to rise to 3.2 percent this year. This improvement is due in no small part to better performance by high-income countries. Advanced economies are expected to record 1.3 percent growth for the year just finished, and then expand by 2.2 percent in 2014. Meanwhile, developing countries will likely grow by 5.3 percent this year, an increase from estimated growth of 4.8 percent in 2013.

The world economy can be seen as a two-engine plane that was flying for close to six years on one engine: the developing world. Finally, another engine – high-income countries – has gone from stalled to shifting into gear. This turnaround, detailed in the World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects 2014 launched last Tuesday, means that developing countries no longer serve as the main engine driving the world economy. While the boom days of the mid-2000s may have passed, growth in the emerging world remains well above historical averages.

High-income countries continue to face significant challenges, but the outlook has brightened. Several advanced economies still have large deficits, but a number of them have adopted long-term strategies to bring them under control without choking off growth.

There is also guarded optimism about the Euro Zone, where growth rebounded in the middle of 2013, and will likely expand by 1.1 percent in 2014 after two years of recession. Given Europe’s difficulties over the past six years, even modest growth provides a sense of hope. In the United States, despite a disappointing employment report for December, the vast majority of economic data look strong, and we expect growth to jump from 1.8 percent in 2013 to 2.8 percent this year.

Yet, several countries remain vulnerable. Unemployment in southern Europe remains concerning, particularly the percentage of highly educated young people who can’t find good jobs. In the developing world, accelerating poverty reduction will require governments to adopt structural reforms that promote job creation, boost investment in infrastructure, strengthen financial systems, and shore up social safety nets for the poor.

Adding to these concerns, the decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve to taper its monetary stimulus poses significant risks for developing countries. We saw this past summer that even the fear of the taper spooked markets and caused investors to pull capital out of emerging economies. Fortunately, the Fed’s recent announcement hasn’t led to a similar market reaction to date, but capital flows to emerging markets could still become more volatile going forward.

The most likely scenario remains encouraging: A smooth and modest tapering, with capital flows to developing countries decreasing gradually and growth and financial stability remaining broadly stable. Our downside scenario, which is much less likely, suggests that if long-term U.S. interest rates jump quickly, then capital flows could fall by 50 percent or more for several months.

The extent to which the taper affects capital flows to developing countries depends to a large degree on the kind of capital flows they receive. For instance, foreign direct investment will likely prove less sensitive to the taper than bonds or equities. Importantly, most capital flowing into China comes in the form of foreign investment. As a result, China is less sensitive to our taper scenarios. Domestic factors will also have a significant bearing on how hard countries are hit, which is why developing countries need to move quickly to adopt reforms that will reduce economic imbalances and financial vulnerabilities.

It’s also worth pointing to the bright spots highlighted in our Global Economic Prospects report. Despite the tragic and ongoing flare-ups in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole represents one of the world’s most promising economic stories. Overall, the region grew by 4.7 percent in 2013, and we expect growth to accelerate to 5.3 percent in 2014.

The continent’s demographic structure is also evolving in a way that will likely encourage strong growth going forward, as more young people are entering the workforce and boosting potential output. Capital inflows have also ticked-up, as governments improve their business climates. Generally speaking, the forecast for Africa looks good.

So, for now, when I look at the outlook for the global economy, I see cause for optimism. My hope is that the policymakers charged with driving and sustaining global economic prosperity have taken on-board the hard lessons learned from six years of weathering extreme turbulence.

(Photo Credit: bigbirdz/Flickr)

Posted by:Jim Kim

The Social Media Exchange


I would play with my dog, but I think I’ll check Facebook first. Cha-ching. I have this funny idea, but instead of sharing it with my co-worker, I’ll just post it on Twitter. Cha-ching. I would try to resurrect this stuttering conversation, but I need to see how many likes my latest Instagram post has accumulated first. Chaaaaa-ching.

Many times throughout the day, we exchange our time and energy for social media currency. We’re not even aware that we’re trading most of the time. And sometimes, our social media trades are bad business.

I love social media. The connections, ideas, and opportunities it creates are revolutionizing the way the world works at every level. But as I hoard notifications, retweets, and likes, I worry about the effect of social media on the moments of our lives—the ones we’re missing.

I use my phone as an alarm, and when I wake up I almost immediately check my email, social media, and texts. But while I mine my precious social currency on my phone, I’m missing the sunlight streaming in through the window. I’m missing the sounds of the morning. I’m not remembering what I was dreaming about in the night.

We may not think of it as such, but our time and energy are the most valuable currencies we have. We only ever have this moment once, and then it’s gone. We only have today once.

We should drive a hard bargain for our most valuable resource, but often times we trade it away without even thinking. I think we’ll have had the experience of consciously logging out of Facebook and then inexplicably finding yourself back on it a few minutes later.

When we check Facebook instead of talking to the person next to us, is that a good trade for us? Are we hard-wiring ourselves to document our experiences instead of simply enjoying them?

I attend a meditation retreat every year where I turn my phone off and leave it off for 14 straight days. It gets harder every year, but it also becomes more necessary every year. The present is where life happens. It’s the only thing we ever have.

Sometimes social media is just bad business—for ourselves and for the people around us. I’d like to gently suggest to you—and to myself—to be a little more mindful of when you’re mining for social media gold. Turn your phone off for an hour, if you dare. What does your apartment really sounds like? What does your office smell like? How did the sun feel on your face on the way to the subway? Life is measured in these moments.

Drive a hard bargain, friends. Your time and energy is the most valuable currency you have.

Written by

Writer, Blogger, and Flanel Shirt Enthusiast. One of these titles may or may not be true.

Is Ethical Hacking even Ethical ? by Terry Cutler


We have been seeing cyber crime all over the news recently. President Obama and President Xi of China recently came together for a summit in California to discuss their future relationship, particularly in regards to their cyber warfare; the American NSA leaked information about the PRISM Program , and the list goes on. Many fear for the safety of their country and governments, but how about your businesses?

Data breaches are one of the most detrimental problems a business of any size could experience. Having a service like Digital Locksmiths perform a penetration test could save companies from serious financial losses of up to $42.7 billon.

The biggest question that arises after suggesting such a service is common: is Ethical Hacking even ethical? I mean, you are allowing someone to break into your system. This could involve some sneaky tactics like social engineering where we trick a user by doing something like clicking on a link they shouldn’t open, or by having them give us their password over the phone. It might seem drastic, however, we believe that this is the best method in testing the security of your establishment.

The first thing to know about the hacking community is that it has three subsections: the Black Hats, Grey Hats, and White Hats.

Black hats: these are the guys you need to watch out for. They hack for the purpose of destruction with little care of the final result. They are usually interested in defacing, stealing, or exposing your information and/or property.

Grey Hats: while they’re problematic and have the potential to be dangerous, Grey Hats aren’t necessarily trying to wreak havoc. They are more likely trying to hack for the purpose of proving they can. However, they still might accidentally damage your content on their way in or out.

White Hats: That’s us, the good guys! We’re the ones you hire to check and make sure everything is secure in your networks. We have all of the nasty skills of a Black Hat, but we only use these skills with your permission and with your best interests at heart. To properly test your systems, we need to do everything that a black hat would do. The difference is that you know that we’re doing it. We are employing a type of esoteric morality that entrusts us to use our skills to achieve the greatest good, and we have been properly trained and educated to act in such a way. To put yourself in the mindset of a Black Hat hacker is the only way adequately test the security quality.

It is important to outline with your Penetration Testers the processes that they will go through to test your networks, and have it approved by the most senior executive to ensure the safety of the company. You also need to understand that they may find access to areas with sensitive information. However, trusting a Penetration Tester is like trusting your doctor; we will have you sign thorough contracts trusting us to keep your information confidential.

Chris Kirsch, a product marketing manager at Rapid7, compares Penetration Tests to doing a crash safety test on a car:

“You might have really smart engineers. They are putting the car together. They are focusing on safety, but you don’t really know how safe the car is until you actually do a crash test. A crash test is seemingly quite scary, but it actually is the only way to find out how safe the car is, how secure the car is.”

Preemptively hiring a Penetration Testing services firm is an assurance that all of your company’s information and property is completely safe and inaccessible. After all, you don’t want to wait until it is too late.

What are your thoughts on this ?

Continue the conversation on twitter @terrypcutler

Be sure to connect with me on LinkedIn ! http://www.linkedin.com/in/terrycutler

Written by

I’m a Certified Ethical Hacker, Internationally known TV Media, Author, Trainer, Speaker,Dad with Digital Locksmiths. @digilock and http://t.co/on0sVCmVTR

Bits of disconnected genius


My first few days of using Medium were confusing. I had no clue where to start and there were some concepts like “collections” and “recommend” that had no context.

Worse though is the bigger picture. What exactly is this thing and how is it going to transform my reading and writing experience online?

I’m an older dog so this new trick would require some perseverance. Over the next few days of using it I started to see bits of genius. At first I thought Medium was a glorified cross between Twitter and Pinterest, but then I started to see how things connect together.

This is how I see things:

A collection is absolutely the equivalent of a blog. Whom ever owns the collection controls content and publishing rights. It also gets a vanity URL which will come in handy as people start to build audience.

Reputation is important. Receiving recommendations will promote your content which will build viewers to your collection. You can also choose to submit your content to other people’s collections which expands exposure. This crossposting lets you “guest blog” on more popular collections and use those to build your audience.

Unanswered questions

1. How does one promote their content outside of Medium? This is the part I’m struggling with. I’d like to see domain mapping for collections. I should be able to point my personal domain to my collection.

2. How does one track performance? If I write something great, I should be able to track its performance within Medium. Preferably I’d like to connect my Google Analytics account to my Collection.

3. Does cross-posting to multiple collections hurt ranking in Google Search? Isn’t this duplicate content going to drag down performance?

Conclusion

I love the direction that you folks are headed and I think there is a ton of potential here. Writing on Medium is a pleasure with its attention to details, great visual design and simplicity. I think there are some challenges as it grows more popular and I’m interested to see where you take it.

Written by

3x startup exec, mobile expert, Capital Factory mentor, DEMOgod winner, with a moviestar girlfriend.

Published November 21, 2012

If You Can’t Explain it Simply


Discovering your product identity beyond formulas.

There’s an identity crisis in the startup world. Startups have absolutely no idea what they do any more, or at least that’s how it seems. There are far too many startups using the “X forY” formula for describing themselves, causing an apparent lack of individuality in the industry. If you can’t describe yourself without name dropping other startups, do you really know what you’re selling? And if you don’t know, who does? And how is your customer supposed to know? It’s truly awful to think that the amazing startups out there, which represent such unique work by such amazing talent are selling themselves so short to their investors and most importantly, their customers.

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.

If you can’t describe what you do in a simple manner, you really don’t understand what you do. Understanding the “what” of what you do is easy. That’s where the “X for Y” formula comes in and is relatively effective. It’s the feature list, the market you’re in. But selling a product using the what is incredibly ineffective. If someone’s looking to buy your product, chances are they already have an idea of what you do. Determining and selling on the “why” and “how” are so much more effective. Standing for things, be it good design, simplicity, a particular experience or something else is what customers buy into.

The most successful companies in the world don’t sell the sum of their parts. They sell on the experience, the individuality. If BMW sold cars by advertising that they’re a car manufacturer first and foremost, would they sell many cars? Why would one buy a BMW over an Audi, or even a Chevy. They’re all car manufacturers, what separates them? Now, what if they sold cars on the premise they’re the “Rolex for Automobiles”? It’s more descriptive, but what separates a BMW from other luxury car manufacturers? Why would one buy a BMW over a cheaper Cadillac? The reason BMW sells so many cars is because they don’t sell cars. They sell the“experience” of their cars. Nest doesn’t sell thermostats. They sell feelings. Apple doesn’t sell computers, they sell an ideal. Facebook doesn’t sell information on your friends, they feed our nosiness and curiosity.

If Facebook sold itself to initial users as a “Better Connected Myspace”, how far do you think they’d have gone? Sure, using another company to describe what you do is easy and effective at painting a quick sketch. But it doesn’t go far, it doesn’t motivate action or paint a portrait of your brand and the service you offer. It doesn’t illustrate what makes you different. It doesn’t answer the most important question in marketing. The “Why”. Why should people want your product? Why do you exist? And more importantly, why do you deserve my business?

By not answering the why, you’re producing a dictionary definition of what you do. Remember, dictionary definitions are almost always boring. They don’t sell products using dictionary definitions. You become just another company doing X. If you can’t convey to the customer what you’re doing differently, can’t sell them on what you represent, and can’t find a way to convey all this to them simply, you have no idea what you’re selling. And frankly, you don’t deserve their business.

When customers buy your product, they should be subscribing to something unique, original. They should be buying it from someone with passion for what they’re doing. If the best you can do is tell them “You’re the X for industry Y” you’re not trying hard enough. You don’t deserve their business, and in many cases, they won’t give it to you. Anyone can combine ideas, anyone can be an “X for Y”. To survive, you have to be something more. You have to sell an experience, you have to sell something unique. Not unique as in not having existed before or being an entirely new type of product, but a unique experience. BMW wasn’t the first car company. Even if you are the X forY, what does that make you? How are you really different from all the other Ys out there? What does that mean to your customers? If you can’t answer those questions, you’re either going in the wrong direction or haven’t thought hard enough about it.

If you haven’t figured this out yet, and it’s okay if you haven’t, think hard about it. Determine what makes you unique, what takes you beyond the “X for Y” formula into something that truly deserves to exist and makes a lasting impression on customers. Make that your mantra. Your customers deserve it, and so do you.


PS: An easy way to measure this is by how many people hate you. If you’re not making anyone mad, you’re probably not standing for anything. Look at the brands mentioned and think of the number of people who absolutely despise BMW, Apple and Facebook. Whether you like them or not, they’re successful because they represent something greater than the sum of their parts.

Written by

Start upper from Toronto. Developer, designer and drinker of too much Diet Coke. I also like trains. Twitter @connerfritz. Web www.connerfritz.com

The Twitch TV Phenomenon Is Bigger Than You Think


Who would’ve thought watching people play video games could be so lucrative?

http://readwrite.com/2014/01/18/the-twitch-tv-phenomenon-is-bigger-than-you-think#awesm=~otmnOJvJyKEitt

January 18, 2014 Play

If you aren’t a gamer, it’s wholly possible that either you don’t “get” Twitch or you’ve never even heard of it—but that won’t last for long.

Twitch is a website and community where gamers watch gameplay videos uploaded and streamed by other gamers. It’s kind of like a huge virtual couch—one that can seat a million onlookers at once. On a random friday, a live stream of League of Legends, a cartoony-yet-deep online multiplayer strategy game, boasted a quarter of a million simultaneous viewers.

How fast is Twitch growing? Really fast. According to new statistics from the last year, Twitch users watched 12 billion minutes of gaming on average each month in 2013. Twitch boasted 45 million unique viewers per month, which was more than double number of viewers tuning into Twitch on a monthly basis in the year prior. What’s more impressive: More than half of all users (58%) spend more than 20 hours a week on Twitch, while the average user watches an average of 106 minutes of content a day.

Twitch.tv is currently dominated by PC gaming, but with Twitch support built into the PlayStation 4 and coming soon to the Xbox One, those numbers won’t be slowing down any time soon.

Twitch Is Big Business—And Small Business Too

Like YouTube, Twitch offers a partner program that allows popular users to get a cut of the ad revenue they generate. Of its 900,000 monthly broadcasters, 5,100 are partners.

Like YouTube, Twitch has its rockstars—often legendary, crazy-good gamers who undertake epic challenges or offer a creative twist on the business of playing games. Partners broadcast to Twitch on a regular schedule, some even daily, with several of them raking in enough dough in shared revenue to quit their day jobs. One partner, the father/son pair behind the handle “FatherSonGaming,” broadcasts gameplay from titles like Call of Duty: Ghosts seven days a week to 98,000 followers.

Of course, it’s not all about the little guy. Beyond individual channels, Twitch teams up with companies like Riot Games, publisher of the wildly popular League of Legends, to host epic international gaming championships that feel like a cross between flashy, big-budget boxing matches and the “Magic: The Gathering” tournaments in the back of your local comic book store. These competitions, or “eSports,” have high stakes just like their athletically-inclined peers: The League of Legends tournaments, for instance, dole out $2 million in prizes to its winners.

The explosive growth of gaming videos online is powered by obsessive subcommunities and fascinating viral phenomena. Like anything with a social layer, these videos have their own language and customs. According to Twitch’s new report, “speedruns,” in which the goal is to finish a game as fast as humanly possible (often employing every cheat and workaround in the book) continue to soar in viral popularity and could even evolve into their own live, organized eSport.

Twitch is a platform on which feats of gaming skill and viral oddities flourish in equal parts. Want to watch someone play the entirety of retro classic Super Mario 64 in a breezy five hours? Maybe you’d rather tune in with half a million gamers the world over for a live stream of a StarCraft match, complete with big budget ESPN-style commentary and analysis. All signs suggest that 2014 will be a banner year for Twitch’s massive “niche” gaming community.

http://readwrite.com/2014/01/18/the-twitch-tv-phenomenon-is-bigger-than-you-think#awesm=~otmnOJvJyKEitt

Dissecting CrossFit


We like to live in a world of healthy ‘extremes’. One day we love and live for a certain style of training, dieting, or lifestyle- and the next, we condemn it. For example; 50 years ago smoking was a source of health and vibrancy, 15 years ago dietary fat was evil, and 5 years ago most people believed running on the treadmill was the best way to lose weight. The bottom line is that the world of health and fitness is a confusing one, and most of the general population tends to attach themselves to specific sets of ideals- never really stopping to actually research the pros and cons of any specific ‘trend’ and how it can help or hurt them.

Enter CrossFit. The most abundant and controversial fitness ‘trend’ that has been picking up steam over the last 5 years. Many people swear by it, and many people swear that it is the current downfall of the fitness industry. What you don’t see, however, are the people who are unbiased and unattached enough to admit that there is some good and some bad in the CrossFit world- and the admission of the instance of either isn’t a compromise of your ideals and personal philosophy- rather, it is a sign of critical thinking, logical process, and understanding why something may or may not be ‘for you’

A little about me

My name is Tommy Caldwell and I am the founder of Hybrid Fitness in London, Ontario. We are a growing brand in Canada that takes a very unbiased approach to fitness and health. We understand that there is value to be found in many facets of training, and the key to health isn’t going to be found by sticking to one specific philosophy ‘religiously’, but rather taking the good from many sources of information, filtering out the bad, and creating individualized plans that work for you- hence a ‘Hybrid’ of many different fitness philosophies.

At Hybrid we aren’t a CrossFit Gym, but we do run a CrossFit program for athletes who want to compete in the ‘Sport’ of CrossFit. We run a program that is specific to our own principles, and we do a pretty damn good job.

I, however, was one of the greatest skeptics of CrossFit when it started growing in the industry, and it was a long road to deciding to run a program out of my gym. The difference was that I chose to sit down and critically analyze the positives and negatives of the ‘sport’ and see if there was a way that we could create a program that focused only on the positives that CF had to offer, and shut out the negative aspects that the ‘Kool-Aid drinkers’ embrace seemingly without much rational thought. I’d say we accomplished that goal successfully, and we currently have 60 athletes who are strong, mobile, and healthy- and they didn’t get there by following the standard CrossFit model.

These are the main aspects I learned about and filtered through in order to build an unbiased, badass CrossFit program that is safe, effective, and original.

CrossFit is not for 90% of the population that is involved in it

The ongoing claim that ‘CrossFit is for everyone’ was the first idea perpetuated in the brand that I found to be fundamentally false. Here is the reality.

If you have ankle mobility issues: Don’t do CrossFit

If you have hip mobility issues: Don’t do CrossFit

If you have shoulder mobility issues: Don’t do CrossFit

If you can’t overhead squat: Don’t do CrossFit

If you aren’t already sound and strong in all basic movement patters: Don’t do Crossfit

If you are new to fitness: for god’s sake, don’t do CrossFit

One major flaw that exists in CF is that in most ‘boxes’ there isn’t an alternative for those who should not be going through the movements that come standard in the sport. Snatches, Overhead Squats, Thrusters, or even basic squatting patterns are not safe for the average immobile person- but if all you offer at your gym is CrossFit and your doors staying open relies on the income of new members, are you really going to turn away a potential client who can barely even sit in a chair? No, you won’t. And that is how you end up with a gym full of weak, immobile people going through dangerous movement patterns that would take at least a year to properly learn from the beginners stage.

Point 1- CrossFit is not for the majority of people who are interested in it or participating in it. However, if you have a gym where people can learn the general fundamentals of training (and no, 4 week on ramps don’t count) then you can always have CrossFit available to members who excel over time and are truly ready to perform those core movements. CrossFit should be a program- not the sole purpose and function of a general fitness facility.

Popularity+Lack of Regulation x Course Frequency=Lots of bad, Little Good

The second issue I found with CrossFit is that the growth of the brand was too fast for the regulation of the affiliates. Since thousands of people could go out, get a cert, and open up a gym of their own for less than 20k- it resulted in a shit load of terrible gyms and a few good ones.

The CrossFit certification doesn’t even teach you how to assess movement on a joint-by-joint basis and determine when someone is ready to perform the patterns that the sport demands. Without that information or experience in applying those principles you end up with a bunch of unqualified people determining whether a high risk, complicated set of exercises and workouts is ‘OK’ for the general population to perform. This has ended in a series of YouTube videos with CrossFitters performing ugly, complex exercises in high reps when they can’t even perform 1 repetition of any exercise properly.

This sort of reality makes it easy for anti-CrossFit coaches to express the dangers of the brand and movement- which they will of course take any opportunity to point out, and rightfully so.

Point 2- Most CrossFit gyms are run by coaches who don’t understand the basics of movement or proper assessing a person’s adequacy in movement patterns. This ends in a mass amount of dysfunctional movers performing loaded exercises under the guidance of a second rate coach that ‘doesn’t get it’. If CrossFit is ever going to gain respect in the coaching community it must teach proper assessing as the most important educational priority, and it must have a system of regulating its professionals.

Good People are Replacing the Bad

I’m not a fan of Greg Glassman, and it may be unfortunate that he was the personality and face behind the creation of CrossFit. He really makes it easy for those who want to point out the fundamental issues with his brand.

But, I don’t have to be a fan of Greg Glassman because the brand has far outgrown him and taken on a life of its own. When I think of CrossFit now, I think of Glen Pendlay, Kelly Starrett, Coach Burgener and soon Dimitry Klokov will join that list (as he is now running Oly-Lifting seminars for CrossFit Athletes).

The brand is drawing in really good coaches- and with that, the standard of the brand will improve. CrossFit will get better, not worse with these sorts of professionals seeing the value in it.

Point 3- CrossFit started with bad leaders, but those leaders are quickly being replaced with quality coaches. You can decide whether you want to have poor Internet mentors, or amazing ones.

CrossFit as a sport is not more dangerous than any contact sport

At Hybrid we don’t promote CrossFit as a means of general fitness for the average population- we promote it as a sport based option for very fit people who want to compete in the sport of CrossFit.

We do this because we can’t justify the average person performing high-risk movements with load when they could get in way better shape safer, and faster with a general mobility and lifting program. However, for those who want to compete in CrossFit as a sport, we treat them just like any other athlete.

I don’t judge boxers, fighters, hockey players, football players, or rugby players for the needless dangers they put themselves in for the sake of competition. How can I- I used to be one of those same athletes?

CrossFit isn’t any different in the sense that you can’t stop people from putting themselves at risk when they want to compete in something- and as a coach it is your job to help them prepare in a way that keeps them as safe as possible for as long as possible.

This is the approach we take at Hybrid. We are taking in athletes who have already decided that CrossFit is something they are going to do. We are merely going to help them compete as safely and as well prepared as possible.

Point 4- CrossFit as a sport is just like any other contact sport and should be treated as such. We are not sensible judges of what sports are ‘good and bad’, and it is our responsibility to help our athletes prepare and keep them safe- not to tell them what sport they can and can’t compete in.

Limelight Problems

Lastly, I found that in the end CrossFit is really no different than any other set of gyms in the industry- it is merely more popular than most right now and therefore it has greater responsibility and takes greater ‘heat’.

If you go to a big box gym- a goodlife, an LA Fitness, a Golds Gym, or even the majority of small box specialty gyms in North America you are going to find awful trainers, zero culture, no structure, and poor overall instruction. This isn’t a standard that was built by CrossFit- this is a standard that was built by the fitness industry.

There isn’t a single brand or chain of gyms in this world that is well regulated and has a consistent quality of coaching, environment, education, and service. Why would anyone expect that CrossFit would be any different?

It is up to the consumer to wisely determine the quality and effectiveness of any given space- and the smart, diligent people will find one of the very, very few good gyms- and the rushed undereducated person will end up (happily) in a bad one.

The only difference with CrossFit is that the brand is massive and has a ton of affiliates. The ratio of good gyms to bad gyms hasn’t changed- it just happens to be that now the majority of gyms are CrossFit gyms.

Point 5- CrossFit hasn’t increased the amount of bad gyms in this world on a percentage basis- it has merely increased the overall number of gyms in general- thus bringing us a few great places and a lot of bad ones.

Conclusion

I think CrossFit is an excellent choice of sport and training for a small percentage of the population- assuming that the small appropriate population can find a good affiliate with good, safe coaching. That task is just hard to do.

What CrossFit is not, however, is a baseline general fitness program for the average person looking to get in great shape safely and effectively. It is not for athletes of other sports, it is not for the aging population, and it is not for the majority of the population who are deconditioned, immobile, and confused.

Regardless of either of those points you need to sit down and find out what is or isn’t ‘for you’. Write your goals down and logically decide why a certain style of training or movement is your best way to get from A-B.

The process has to be justified in a sensible way- you can’t just convince yourself that something (like CrossFit) is for you merely because you’re set on trying it.

There are lots of bad facilities and coaches in this industry. CrossFit represents a lot of those culprits, but so does every other brand/style of gym in the world. Inform yourself, be diligent, and make your own decisions based off an individualized approach that works for you.

Twitter @hybridtraining

Written by

Founder of Hybrid Health, Producer of the #outlawsofhealth, #healthoptimized and #broscience shows, writer, health philosopher, animal lover, Dogma Smasher.

Don’t make your failed New Year Resolution ruin the whole year


Today is all you’ve got — make the best of it

You were supposed to go to the gym yesterday. You didn’t.

You resolved not to eat Double Cheeseburger for lunch. You did.

You planned to reach Inbox Zero before leaving work. There are still tons of mails to be sorted.

A week into the new year, and all your resolutions look broken. You have failed. Or have you?

One of the greatest obstacles to self-improvement is how we let our past failures sabotage our present actions. “I couldn’t do it yesterday — looks like I’ll fail today as well”. That’s utter nonsense.

If your current situation is the result of your past actions, your current actions are the only things that will affect your future. This is a simple but powerful idea. Let me explain.

Suppose you have resolved to lose 20 kilos in 2014. You have to stay away from Double Cheeseburgers if you want your weight under control. Suppose in a moment of weakness, which all of us are prone to, you have caved in. What could you do?

  1. You could feel depressed, lose all motivation and indulge more. That’s the end of your new year resolution. Try again next year.

2. You can tell yourself — can’t change the past, but can make amends for the past wrongs. No Cheeseburgers and a 2-mile extra run this evening.

Option 2 is what I call “Forget Yesterday, live today” principle. You can only learn from the past, can’t change it. No point in making today miserable for what you did yesterday.

Are you giving up after a few misses?

For years I had failed in my “Go to the gym everyday” resolution. Then last year I realized that my approach itself was fundamentally flawed. If you think of it, it’s almost impossible to go to the gym everyday. There will be days when I’ll be sick or traveling. So I did two things — rephrase the goal to make it less restrictive and stopped beating myself when I failed to stick to my resolution once in a while. My new goal became — “Exercise regularly”. You might say this is too vague. But this actually gave me the flexibility. It didn’t matter if I missed my exercise a few days in a row. As long I was back in my routine, it was OK. Also, I could now do some quick freehand sets at home on days when it was not possible to go to the gym. No longer could I give up on the goal because I’ve not been able to be at it for a few days.

It’s only human to fail — don’t expect that you’ll be able to stick to your resolution every day of the year. So forgive yourself — don’t be too self-critical. Get up and start doing things now. There are still plenty of days remaining this year.

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Educationist, technopreneur, musician. Lover of good food and fine art.

Published January 11, 2014

VP Of Product Michael Sippey Is Leaving Twitter


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Twitter’s Vice President of Product Michael Sippey just announced that he’s stepping into an advisory role at the company, then moving on to, well, something else.

In a company email that Sippey also posted on his blog, he said he realized that “it was time to move on” after discussions with Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and COO Ali Rowghani. Sippey doesn’t go into too much detail, but he hints that he wants to be at a smaller company again: “I’ve spent most of my career working at startups, helping them scale and having a direct hand on the product.”

It sounds like team members at Twitter have been frustrated with the product leadership, at least according to AllThingsD’s Mike Isaac and our own Matthew Panzarino. Isaac described the problem as a lack of a clear path for moving product changes “up the ladder at an efficient pace,” while Panzarino suggested that there was an over reliance on user testing.

Sippey’s post says that as an advisor, he will be “helping with product strategy, providing input on the great work the team has lined up for 2014, and helping [COO] Ali [Rowghani] find a new head of product.” It sounds like that’s mostly a transitional role, because afterward, he’s “excited to go figure out what’s next.”

Sippey has been at Twitter since 2012. He was previously at blog platform Six Apart and then at Say Media, the media company formed from the merger of Six Apart and VideoEgg.

[Image: Flickr/Joi Ito]

http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/17/michael-sippey-leaving-twitter/

Investors Drop Big Money On Dropbox So It Can Beat Box


http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/18/dropbox-grows-up/

Posted 1 hour ago by (@joshconstine)

Dropbox is raising between $250 million and $400 million at a $10 billion valuation according to the Wall Street Journal and Re / code. Why? Because Dropbox has spent the last year rebuilding its product to make it work for businesses, and now it’s time to sell that product. How? Because a source says Dropbox has been doing well and felt it had the buzz behind it to take advantage of an easy fundraising market.

The money could also fund poaching top talent from other tech giants and big acquisitions. But with more competition than ever, Dropbox needs to do a big enterprises sales push before potential customers jump into bed with Box, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive, or Amazon WorkSpaces.

Dropbox Grows Up

Dropbox built its name as a light-hearted consumer product. “Your files everywhere” was its motto, cutesy pencil drawings were its style, and its mascot? A Tyrannosaurus Rex wielding an AK-47…riding a shark…with a bald eagle on its back. The company even has a statue of the T-Rex in its San Francisco office’s foyer. Notice the lack of anything in this branding that would give businesses the assurance that Dropbox is secure, scalable, and great for complex teams.

Yet in terms of becoming a techie-household name, its viral strategy worked. Handing out gigabytes of free storage for signing up friends let it grow quickly. By November 2012 it had 100 million users. A year later, it had doubled in size to 200 million. Plus the fun-loving culture helped it poach big names like Google’s Guido Van Rossum – the father of Python, and veteran Facebook designers Soleio Cuervo and Rasmus Andersson.

Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired

But Dropbox couldn’t shake its amateur reputation. A year ago, I’d hear businesses say the Dropbox didn’t have the permissions and security features it needed to make sure employees only had access to the right files and to watch who was downloading what.

Dropbox apparently heard those criticisms too. And it saw the heaps of money it could make in enterprise. For personal use, most people get enough gigabytes of space for free to satisfy their needs. If they wanted more for free, they could recruit friends and score storage bonuses. Few laymen need its $9.99 a month Pro plan with 100+ gigabytes of room. But at around $175 a year per enterprise user, Dropbox could quickly grow its bottom line.

So over a year ago, Dropbox embarked an ambitious quest to rebuild its product architecture. The goal was to enable users to simultaneously access their personal files as well as an overhauled version of its enterprise service from the same account.

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In November 2013, co-founder and CEO Drew Houston unveiled the new Dropbox For Business. He highlighted dual-wielding of personal and professional files from the same account, powerful permissions controls, Sharing Audit Logs that detail what each employee is accessing, blocks for preventing unauthorized sharing, and options for transferring an employees files to someone new or wiping them from all their devices if they leave the company.

The beefed up Dropbox For Business product is rolling early this year. Its viral consumer strategy has given Dropbox a foot in the door with employees at companies around the world using it personally. But scoring huge enterprise installations with hundreds or thousands of $175 a year seats is still a war won with a sales army, and that takes capital to hire soldiers and generals.

Fundraising In A Frothy Market

Dropbox FundingLucky for Dropbox, right now the getting’s good. Spurred by massive, hundred million dollar-plus funding rounds for Pinterest, Uber, and its enterprise competitor Box, a source close to the company tells me Dropbox wanted to strike while the iron was hot. Facebook’s share price resurgence and Twitter’s blockbuster IPO have also contributed to a frothy market where it’s easy to raise big money for cheap at big valuations. The thinking is that this window could close eventually, and no fast-growing company wants to be left with a thin wallet when that happens.

The source tells me Dropbox’s strong momentum made the new $250 million to $400 million raise a lot easier. 2x year-over-year user growth; high-profile talent poaches; and interest in its enterprise potential all likely contributed the hype.

Dropbox has closed the $250 million investment led by BlackRock and featuring previous investors, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Douglas MacMillan. Re / code’s Liz Gannes says Dropbox may pull in another $100 million to $150 million from big mutual fund Fidelity and T. Rowe Price. The funding builds on the $250 million Dropbox raised in 2011 from Goldman Sachs, Sequioa Capital, Index Ventures, and Accel Partners.

The new financing will bring Dropbox to between $507 million and $657 million in total funding.

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Spend Money To Make Money

Now that Dropbox has plenty of cash and a product fit for enterprise, it can get serious about sales.

First, that means staffing up with proven sales execs. In late 2012 it poached Kevin Egan who built and led Salesforce’s sales team for the last 10 years. More recently, Dropbox has been beefing up its business development team, which could help it establish partnerships and integrations with other popular enterprise software products and mobile device makers. It just poached Henri Moissinac, Facebook’s director of mobile partnerships, and Tom Hsieh, who helped Spotify partner with a variety of companies.

dropbox-1The funding could help Dropbox pay for these types of key hires, which can often require offering big compensation packages to get execs to leave cushy tech giant jobs. It could also fill out their teams with sales infantry. Dropbox expanded from 200 to 500 employees over the course of 2013, so it’s not scared to grow its head count.

With a deeper sales bench, Dropbox can focus on recruiting new enterprise clients. The company says that over 4 million businesses use Dropbox, though it’s not clear to what extent. Most companies on Dropbox’s customers page are on the smaller side. The real cash cows are huge company-wide installations with hundreds of subscriptions at Fortune 500 companies.

To win these clients Dropbox will have to beat Box and its charismatic leader Aaron Levie. Box cites only 200,000 business clients, but despite Levie’s penchant for punky red converse sneakers, his company has a reputation for the security and permissions features enterprises want. That’s how Box has signed big names like Procter and Gamble, Nationwide insurance, LinkedIn, and MTV. A quick glance at the home pages of Dropbox (above) and Box (below) say a lot about where their focus has been to date.

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Dropbox will also have to fend off Google Drive, which benefits from its integrations with Google’s other enterprise offerings, SkyDrive which fits with businesses using Microsoft’s Office suite, and Amazon WorkSpaces with its affiliation with Amazon Web Services. Each of these companies’ empires give them an advantage over Dropbox’s independent platform.

Houston and his CTO Arash Ferdowsi will have to make up the gap with nimble product development and savvy marketing. They’ll also have to minimize outages like the one Dropbox suffered last week which scare away enterprises.

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston

As more and more companies enter the big data age, and as media files continue to grow, enterprise cloud storage, sharing, and syncing is becoming of increasing interest to enterprises. Dropbox’s modern bottom-up distribution method gives it a beachhead, but it will still need money to finance traditional CIO wine-and-dining.

A few hundred million extra dollars could also help Dropbox buy more full-fledged products like its acquisition Mailbox, as well as smaller teams like Endorse, Snapjoy, and Sold that can bring special features or expertise to its staff. If Dropbox can identify holes in its enterprise product (one big one right now is synchronous collaboration) and fill them with acquisitions, it could be more appealing to prospective clients.

Last year, there was widespread speculation that Dropbox could IPO in 2014. But going public is a lengthy, clumsy process, and who knows whether the market will be as friendly by the time Houston and Ferdowsi might ring the bell in New York. With plenty of combatants vying for the increasingly-powerful enterprise storage throne and venture capital there for the taking, it makes sense for Dropbox to fill its war chest now.

[Images: Ariel Zambelich/WiredJDLasica]

http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/18/dropbox-grows-up/