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Get Paid For Listening – The Power of Communication in Business – A Story

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Recently, a friend recited to me a beautiful story. A Story richer in meaning then most I have read or heard. It is a story of a girl, her father and a certain old man. In retrospect, the moral of the story could probably be the source of the wisdom that saved Toyota, the world’s largest automobile manufacturer, when it recently faced its biggest threat yet….a sticky accelerator.

Effective communication entails good listening: A story

There was a girl, who like it is the case with most daughters, held a special place in her father’s life. Naturally so, they spent a lot of time together. The father of the girl being a good parent, always took effort to make time spent with his daughter as wholesome as he could.

Since the girl was not yet at that age where awkward conversations on her menstrual flows would have dominated the conversations, her father chose to use the long periods of time they spent together, to pass on lessons that he considered to have held him in good stead through out his life.

The lesson on the art of communicating

Among many other things, the girl’s father chose to stress to his daughter, the art of listening.

So it came to be that the little girl acquired extraordinary listening skills. Even at an early age, her friends would frequently marvel at how she could clearly remember conversations that they had ages ago. The little girl got so good at listening, that she could effortlessly recite both past and present conversations with an exactness that was astounding as it was envious.

What was the point of all this listening?

It happened that an old man, lived next door to the girl and her father. Every morning, the old man and the girl’s father would converse over the short picket fence that the two shared for hours on end. This ritual had been an event that doted the entire existence of the little girl. As a consequence of its routine nature, it had become hardly noticeable to the girl. In fact, if you were to ask her, the conversations mattered little to her. To our little listener, all that was just mundane adult talk.

As the girl grew up, she became better at her unique gift, it soon caught the attention of her teachers, strangers and inevitably her father. The girl, on her part, saw no better use for her gift in listening, save for it being a means by which she could amuse friends and foes alike. To her, it was just another thing.

However, her father had other plans. He decided to task the girl further. After making it known to her how much she had made him proud, he asked one more thing of her: To start listening to what the old man said.

The father also made it a point to make it clear to his daughter that the task would only be completed when she knew what those morning conversations were all about.

In doing this, he (the father) explained to her (the girl) that he appreciated how much she could remember and subsequently recite, but he still required more from her. For her to accomplish this extra bit, all she had to do was to listen to the old man.

The moral of story

Time passed and the girl indulged herself in her new task. Finally, after a while, her father came to her and asked her if she had found out what it is that the conversations the he and the old man usually had were about.

Instead of the usual recital the girl would have normally performed, she had this to say, “The old man talks of many things. Most, are about his many the many regrets of his life.”

At this juncture, father looked at his daughter and had equally fewer words, ” Now go forth my daughter and listen to the birds, listen to rocks…..listen to the universe.”

Role of communication in Business and the workplace

Communication serves as a medium upon which business transactions occur. It enables market needs to be assessed, products to be subsequently developed, distributed & marketed and disputes arising from business transactions to be settled. The sum product of which is that communication is the paper upon which business deals are struck.

In today’s globalized economy, communication is of particular importance. This is principally because companies increasingly need to understand new clients and work in cultural environments that different from those in their home countries.

Quite often, cultural and language differences come in the way of communication. For example, a common expression like a smile may be easily mis-interpreted in some parts of the world. While it is commonplace to think of a smile as a sign of happiness, in most African cultures, a smile may be an indication of embarrassment. This is especially so if the person smiling appears recoiled, facing the ground or perspires in otherwise ambient conditions.When a similar breakdown in communication occurs in the workplace, the concerned organization faces the danger of failing to meet its objectives.

On a lighter note it is said that in earlier times, exposure of the teeth, as as one does when smiling, indicated aggressiveness; a fact that early explorers realized too late on encountering indigenous tribes.

Eye contact is another example, while eye contact is desirable in American culture; in Japan, insisting on eye contact may be seen by the other party as impolite and deemed an intrusion of personal space.

On Communication courses: Effective Communication is best learned when both taught and experienced

The importance of effective Communication in business is stressed in many of the lecture rooms where future CEO s, CFO s, MD s and Company Presidents are nurtured. Communication studies is also an integral part of MBA courses and is also offered as a stand alone course in many business schools, colleges and universities.

On the other hand, it is an open secret that Business coaching, the in vogue phenomenon in Small & Medium Enterprises development, is entirely dependent on good communication.

The signs could not have been anymore obvious, this apparent “obsession” with communication in the spheres of business training, highlights the axle- rod- like kind of importance of communication in any form of business including even Online trading portals.

Now that we have appreciated the gravity of this issue, I will not turn this article into another rant or attempt make it some pathetic semblance of a classroom; but in keeping in with the manner of my start, I will profile, regurgitate and contextualize the thoughts of more esteemed individuals. The thoughts of leaders drawn from across the board who at some point cared to speak on this diverse and critical subject.

My wisdom for this unusual approach, stems from recognition that the situation at hand is far from the expected. In spite of the range of communication theories developed in the recent past, effective communication still remains an elusive condition. A condition, that we have seen to be an absolute must for starting, growing and succeeding in business.

This approach should not be seen as a mockery of formal training regimes, as it in essence heavily borrows from such tried and tested programs. In addition, it is my view that communication theories dispensed in business schools and in training workshops (aimed at developing human resource), offer the student the added advantage of acquisition of a deeper understanding of the subject area. This deeper understanding, equips learners with more flexible communication and interpersonal skills.

However, it is of note that most of these training opportunities are offered at a premium. This makes them largely inaccessible to most would be entrepreneurs and business owners.

Communication Etiquette

Q:What is communication etiquette?

As a matter of necessity rather than a form reprieve; entrepreneurs can utilize simple, easily understood and accessible tools to improve their communication skills. An area where improvements can be made in order to ensure profitability in business is communication etiquette. The key in understanding etiquette lies in understanding what effective communication entails. Viewing it in this light, any behavior or act that stands in the way of communication is then considered to be uncouth. To enable us put this in perspective, we need to consider the words of a man who is acclaimed for his prowess in the trade of communication. Irish literary Critic, Playwright and Essayist- George Bernard Shaw. I

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw- Winner of the 1925 Nobel Prize for Literature, image via Wikipedia

A: George Bernard Shaw’s articulations enable us to crystallize the “Etiquette” in business communication into four guiding self- explanatory principles that must be considered when communicating:

* What is being communicated i.e the Message.

* When to say it i.e the Time.

* How to say i.e the Form of communication medium.

* Whom to say it to i.e characterization of the Recipient.

The what, the when, the how and the whom-so to say are the guiding beacons that should be sought by any business owner groping in the darkness of ineffective communication.

Practising these four principles entails being a good listener.

Why good listening equals success in business

According a theory fronted by a scholar in the field of communications, Hayakawa, the quality of communication is directly influenced by the quality of listening. The listening referred to here involves more than simply hearing the sounds of words and maintaining a polite silence while at it, or the perfect recital of words like the girl in the story above did. It involves actively pursuing the meanings intended by the conveyor of the message, with the sole aim of attempting to interpret the message from the perspective of the conveyor of the message (refer to story end).

An apt allegory for this would be found in the common saying ” to wear someone else shoes ” only that this time you would have to walk in them as elaborated in Hayakawa’s description of what listening should entail below:

” Listening means trying to see the problem the way the speaker sees it – which

means not sympathy, which is feeling for him, but empathy, which is experiencing

with him. Listening requires entering actively and imaginatively into the other

fellow’s situation and trying to understand a frame of reference (life experiences)

different from your own.”

This approach to listening is rooted in the premise that a word may hold different means to different people in lieu of their life different life experiences. A common example cited to illustrate the power this knowledge holds in conducting business is the hilarious fiasco that the entry of a leading European confectionery company into American markets turned into. The company had chosen the unfortunate name- “Zit” which in American urban language refers to a pimple, the kind that troubles teenagers.

Here, the company failed to listen and thus failed its first hurdle. This is because communication in business begins at the point when the business is christened. By failing to listen by considering the different life experiences of this new market (American Market), the company did not consider the what, when, how and whom principles mentioned above. The result was catastrophic to say the least, a confectionery company ended up sending out the wrong message to the market- that of a quirky dermatological condition instead of the joy that confectioneries are associated with.

How then can an entrepreneur learn to listen thus improve communication between him/her and his business contacts?

Tip One: Be aware of cultural differences to effectively communicate in business

How?

-Recognize that the conveyor of the message holds different perspectives and belief systems from your own.

-Avoid making rush conclusions based on your own spontaneous perceptions and prejudices.

Tip Two: To achieve success in your business by employing effective communication-Empathize

How?

-Make a point of seeking the meaning as it is to the conveyor.

-Ignore your own belief systems and step into the shoes of the speaker and wear their lenses.

-Tactfully ask clarifying questions and avoid being obnoxious while at it.

-Sputter the conversation with periods where you, in subtle ways, repeat (just like the girl in the story) what the conveyor of the message has already communicated. This should always be inter- mixed with seeking clarification from the second party on whether they agree with your interpretation of the matter.

Tip Three: Have Courage: Learn from “Courage the Cowardly Dog”

To summarize it all, the words of one of the world’s most famous leaders- Britain’s wartime prime minister, Winston Churchill

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

Fans of this cartoon network show, know “courage” well. If you don’t this is an opportunity to practice what we have already considered to entail good communication. Get your son/daughter, younger brother/sister, younger niece/ nephew, basically anyone who you know watches the show including adult acquaintances and listen as they introduce you to courage.

All the same, Courage is a complex, anxious and freaky looking dog character who lives with his master Eustace and his master’s wife Muriel in a desolated farm house. Their home is frequently stalked by danger which comes in the form of various devious characters and beasts possessing eerie powers.

Courage despite being a rather cowardly dog, quite often saves his masters from demise. Somehow, he is the only member of the family who is knowledgeable of the haunted nature of their house. He’s unable to talk (remember he is a Dog!) and is easily startled, but he always manages to overcome these handicaps and warn, sometimes ferry his masters to safety whenever the unwelcome visitors drop by.

Likewise, in learning to communicate well, and also to provide a platform for tips 1 & 2 to apply, courage on the part of the listener (entrepreneur?, Business owner?) is important. This is because according to some schools of thought, the listener Hayakawa’s model is in danger of being influenced by the belief systems of the conveyor of the message. This influence becomes negative when it erodes gains that the listener had earlier made as the individual may lose their own principles (that they have developed over many years).

Tip Four:Understanding body language to effectively communicate and boost your business

How?

– Consider the SOFTEN approach.

“Use non-verbal communication to SOFTEN the hard-line position of others: S = Smile, O = Open Posture, F = Forward Lean, T = Touch, E = Eye Contact, N = Nod.”

Anonymous

As a norm borne out of routine, most entrepreneurs are like the general populace, are one tracked. This means that they recognize, interpret and utilize only one form of communication- verbal communication. This is because most people fail to visually recognize an accompanying form of language; the language of body language, a form of non – verbal communication.

Personal space, pacing, position, posture, para-language, facial expression, gesture, touch, locomotion, eye contact, adornment, context and physiological responses like sweating and flushing of the cheeks, are some of the different categories of non- verbal communication.

All these forms of non verbal communication are vital tools to the discerning business owner. How? You might ask. Hopefully thoughtful consideration the following examples of everyday business scenarios might help,

Scenario 1: When making that deal, How shifty are the eyes of the the other party?

Scenario 2: When hiring that much needed labor,how much of eye contact occurs?

While you ponder on the possible subtle messages that can be picked by carefully analyzing the body language of the second parties in the scenarios above, it should be noted that body language is a constellation of symbols. These symbols only communicate (bear meaning, when collectively viewed rather than when they are analyzed in isolation, just like as it is the case with verbal forms of communication. The bottom-line is that any particular body gesture should be interpreted in the context of the whole. This is because any one particular gesture may have many meanings and can thus be easily mis-interpreted when analyzed singularly.

Tip Five: Join the band wagon- Neuro Linguistic programing (NLP), the new front in Communication

You have probably heard of Derren Brown, a famous television host, illusionist and entertainer, who is among the range of celebrities that front, utilize and nature this pragmatic form of thinking. It has even been claimed in some circles that the allure of one of Tv’s favorite babes- Marylin Monroe comes down to NLP.

what is Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)?

Neuro linguistic programming explains the interaction of human perception organs (the Neurological system e.g brain, nerves, eyes, ears), language (and societal norms) and belief systems ( social rules which represent the programming aspect). NLP explains how these factors collude to construct reality for any given individual.

To illustrate this further, it is worth considering the description of the tenets of NLP by one of the pioneers of this field Richard Bandler

“You want to become competent at whatever you do. That does not mean to get phobics, who shake in their boots while their blood pressure blows through the roof, to believe,”This is not fear.”

The object is to get them to stay calm and alert, and to stay in their own lane, and to drive across the bridge, which remains standing.

Ask yourself; “Can we build better?” To build those things we have to be able to suspend whatever belief system we already have. Keep it out of the way…

Those things get very, very personal. We’re talking about basic beliefs regarding human capability. Here’s the only truth about that. Nobody knows.”

This statement by Richard Bandler encompasses the original constructs of NLP. It urges individuals to be aware of the interactions between their Neurological system, language and societal programming in order to fully understand their own perceptions of things i.e their reality.

In NLP it is believed that by understanding these interactions, individuals can be able to alter one of the course of how they behave when they encounter a given stimulus. It therefore gives individuals the ability to control their natural spontaneous response to challenging situations and chose to behave in a manner that is more appropriate and beneficial.

For instance, public speaking posses an insurmountable challenge to many. Palpitations, drenching perspiration and un-explained tacyponea are all common observe-ables in most individuals when asked to address a public platform. The triggering event for the un-wanted chain of events (sweating, palpitations etc) in this case is easily identifiable as public speaking! From this point then it becomes possible to avert it by reconstructing our reality as far as public speaking is concerned and stop perceiving it as a noxious situation but as an opportunity.

That may sound a little confusing but the scope of NLP is beyond this article but numerous sources of information on the subject can be readily available on the Internet such as the Derren Brown videos on You Tube. It is worth checking them out as NLP. This is more so when you consider that NLP was developed as an attempt at finding ways in which individuals can become more successful by studying and learning from the lives of highly successful individuals.

Developed in 1970 America, NLP has been in use since then and based on scores of evidence, has been shown to be an accurate body of knowledge. Recently, Individuals and business leaders have begun taking courses on mastering the stipulations of NLP and subsequently utilizing them for a range of needs.

For instance, NLP has been found to be of much relevance in the communication studies, scholars like Dimmick have identified the importance of the prepositions that NLP in communicating. This is because it has been shown to enable the user understand reality as it is to the conveyor of the message. This as we have already seen, enables good listening and communication.

Using Effective Communication In Advertising your Business

One of the pillars of effective advertising is the pristine application of the concept of anchoring. Anchoring is a concept grounded in NLP, it involves persuasion of individuals into performing an action of your own interest, by exploiting a person’s prior experience of an event/ symbol (such as the use of images and other audio- visual media recognizable to a particular market to trigger the market into the action that the seller desires).

For instance, colors hold symbolic meanings; green usually denotes the earth, nature, life, environmental conservation and more recently green energy. A product aiming to appeal to environmentally conscious individuals may opt to have green as the color of its packaging. This may also explain why green is the colour a commonly used for the recycling logos found on the packages of many household items.

Another common use of anchoring in advertising is using catchy phrases that bear certain meaning to people of a given cultural identity to sell a product. An example that easily comes to mind is the phrase “catch a big Mac” used in advertising burgers of a leading fast food franchise.

Effective Communication: The case of the Toyota Car Recall

Recently, the world’s largest car manufacturer had to perform a recall on several of its popular brands following worldwide reports of a defective acceleration pedal that posed a hazard to its customers. It should be noted that in business, the possibility of product recall is always real even in settings where quality control measures are well organized and high manufacturing standards are adhered to. This should awake us to the fact that the Toyota situation is in no way unique to Toyota.

According to a report published in 2003 by the British Retail Consortium, these events (product recalls)usually occur without warning and in occurring, they present serious challenges to the reputation of a company and its brand. This puts the future profits of the company at risk as the brand as elementary business informs us that a brand is the primary way via which companies communicate with their focus markets.

According to the same British Retail Consortium report, communication is central in handling a product recall. The step critical in ensuring a successful product recall process is the setting up of an information management system. This system should be easily accessible even from remote locations. The information system should enable fast gathering of crucial information such as serial numbers, make, batch numbers and the distribution area of the defective product.

The response team during a product recall, should be furnished with proper channels of communication to ensure smooth running of the process. A good information management system also enables the affected company to control the information accessible to the public. This allows the company room to minimize damage to its brand and other prevent the effects spilling over to unaffected products that they it could also be producing.

A good information management system enables tracing of products. Product tracing in a recall, starts with investigating the origin of the raw materials used in manufacturing the product through its distribution chain and ending at its consumption.

Toyota managed to emerge from this fall back as testified by their recently released financial results which showed a strong run emanating into a profit of 2billion US dollars; an amount similar to what the recall process had cost the corporation whose home is in Detroit’s sister city in Japan- Toyota. On top of this, Toyota suffered a 16million US dollar fine for poor management of one aspect of communication. Despite its efforts, including its president Toyoda’s tearful defense of his company in front of a senate committee, Toyota still stood guilty for failing to suffice regulatory authorities with information of a possible break in its quality chain leading to deaths in America. Such, is the cost of mis-communication.

How is this helpful to a small business owner?

Product recalls have been used here as a marker for the range of draw backs that a company can suffer during operations. Entrepreneurs can pick this example and extrapolate its lessons whenever their company has to resolve a dispute with a customer, supplier and even regulatory body.

Online Business is the business of effectiveness in communication

In the words of the entrepreneur turned mogul, world icon, role model, philanthropist and self- confessed nerd turned “most popular kid in the playground”; the world’s most successful entrepreneur- Bill Gates:

“I think it’s fair to say that personal computers have become the most empowering tool we’ve ever created. They’re tools of communication, they’re tools of creativity, and they can be shaped by their user”………

“I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in.”

Online Content producers can utilize communication skills in increasing their audience and subsequently their revenue from traffic tied portals like Google AdSense and yahoo ads. Those attached to Online publishing portals (where freelancers, bloggers and Online writers find a home to write while earning money) like Triond, Bukisa, e- How articles, Helium and Obuolo should consider mastering communicating online as it at the heart of their trade. In similar fashion to the instances discussed earlier, their success in the cyberspace and resoluteness of their brand in the crowded blogosphere is dependent on how well the master communication.

SEO is communicating with search engines

It may surprise many that the much talked about Search Engine Optimization techniques are nothing more than ways in which Online publishers can communicate effectively with search engines.

The other popular technique employed in Online business to increase site traffic, the sharing of articles on social networking platforms like Stumble Upon, Facebook and Digg; rely on quality communication between members of those social networks, Internet users and providers of Online goods and products.

Mao Tse-tung on listening and communicating:

In wrapping up this rather lengthy subject it is worth musing on the words of the founding father of modern China Mao Tse-tung:

“We should never pretend to know what we don’t know, we should not feel ashamed to ask and learn from people below, and we should listen carefully to the views of the cadres at the lowest levels. Be a pupil before you become a teacher; learn from the cadres at the lower levels before you issue orders.”

-Mao Tse-tung

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How To Find A Good Social Security Disability Lawyer

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Man is a social animal. He cannot do away with his society completely and live an isolated life. He may need the help of his society at some point of time or the other. Keeping this in mind you need to pay for the social security all your life, so that if you are disabled or unable to earn your living at a later stage in life, you will be able to enjoy the benefits of social security disability insurance. However, claiming social security disability insurance is not an easy job and requires professional help.

Here are some of the ways to find a good social security disability lawyer:

Ask your friends and family. You can also talk to your relatives and neighbors. They are always a good source of information. Being your well wishers, they will never try to mislead you. Hence you can get the best kind of feedback from them. If you are lucky, you will find out that one of them may have come across such an expert, and can provide you with all the necessary details about him.

Another method which you can easily adopt is to look for your service provider on the net. The Internet is one of the best ways to find out what you need. Browse through the official websites of law firms that provide the services you require. You should carefully read all the information that is given about them on their websites. This will give you a clear idea about the law firm, and help you decide whether you should hire their services or not. Check to see if the service providers have testimonials written by satisfied customers. This is a good way of finding out what the customers, who have already opted for their services, feel about them. Moreover, it is advisable that you choose such a law firm which has efficient lawyers, offering their services to clients for a long time. Experience is an important factor that matters a lot while taking such important decisions. Lawyers who are well experienced in taking care of social security disability cases for a long time, will be in a better position to be able to help you get the best benefits possible.

Another effective way to find out the best professional of your choice is by talking to other lawyers. You may be knowing another lawyer who offers some other kind of services. However, being in the same profession he will easily be able to give you a referral of a reputed lawyer who can help the client make a claim for social security disability insurance. You can then easily fix an appointment with him and check whether he will be able to serve your purpose well.

If you are in need of a lawyer who can help you get the benefits of insurance policies related to social security disability, Martinsburg WV is the best place to start your search.

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Collaborative Divorce or Cooperative Divorce?

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Introduction

“Collaborative divorce” is the new buzz word in family law practice. Its proponents enthuse about better and less costly settlements, greater client satisfaction, fewer accounts receivable, and less stress in the practice of law, than they can achieve through a conventional approach to family law disputes. How realistic are these claims? What are the down sides of “collaborative divorce”? Does the concept of “collaborative divorce” present ethical pitfalls and possible malpractice minefields for the unwary practitioner?

Lawyers who participate in the “collaborative divorce” movement use methods borrowed from more established alternative dispute resolution procedures to resolve family law disputes without litigation. However, unlike more accepted dispute resolution procedures, in “collaborative divorce” the lawyers and their clients agree that they will not engage in formal discovery, will voluntarily disclose information, and will settle the case without court intervention of any kind . They assume a duty to inform the attorney for the other party of errors they note in opposing counsel’s legal analysis or understanding of the facts. If they are unable to settle the case, both lawyers must withdraw from representing their respective clients and the estranged spouses must start over with new counsel.

Good Lawyers Routinely Practice Cooperatively

Even the most enthusiastic supporters of “collaborative divorce” concede that the concept of settling cases rather than litigating them is hardly novel. Capable family law practitioners have always directed their effort and creativity toward reaching agreement rather than duking it out in court. It isn’t news to anyone that litigation is expensive – sometimes prohibitively so – and that the most satisfactory settlements derive from skilled negotiation between capable counsel rather than a court-imposed resolution of disputed issues. How does the idea of “collaborative divorce” differ from what experienced practitioners do as a matter of course?

Courtesy. The commitment of lawyers and parties to treat each other courteously is not a new one. Capable attorneys consistently endeavor to work cooperatively with opposing counsel to identify and value assets, set and meet scheduling deadlines, and otherwise facilitate resolution of the case. They respect legitimate positions taken by the other party and encourage their clients to be realistic and respectful as well. They are willing and able to compromise, and they are creative in crafting acceptable resolutions of disputed issues. “Collaborative divorce” supporters intimate that their process is unique because lawyers commit that they will not “threaten, insult, intimidate, or demonize” other participants in the divorce process. Good lawyers don’t do that now. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, which historically has provided a model for good practice nationally, has promulgated “Bounds of Advocacy” that set a high standard for professional courtesy and cooperation.

Emotional cost. “Collaborative divorce” proponents say their process is designed for parties who don’t want to go to war and who don’t want “to hate each other for the rest of their lives.” This description fits the vast majority of family law clients, including most of those whose cases end up in court. Clients almost always care about the emotional cost of adversary proceedings, and about the impact of the divorce action on their children and other family members. To suggest that people who really care will give up the protections provided by court oversight is to do a vast disservice to most of our clients.

Financial cost. “Collaborative divorce” supporters want to reduce the costs of the process by streamlining the discovery process. This also is not a new idea. Good lawyers have always sought to keep formal discovery to a minimum, to share costs of appraisals, to stipulate to values, and to cooperate in other ways to keep costs down. Many experienced practitioners routinely utilize mutually agreed upon short-form interrogatories, four-way meetings, joint telephone or in person conferences with experts, and other such collegial arrangements.

As the above analysis indicates, the goals espoused by “collaborative divorce” lawyers do not differ in degree or in kind from the goal of the vast majority of the family law bar. Most lawyers try a cooperative approach first. Most lawyers agree – and most of their clients concur – that resolution of issues by settlement is preferable to litigation. And in most cases, lawyers and their clients resolve disputed issues by agreement and do not resort to the courts.

The Limits of Collaboration

Despite the most concerted efforts of capable counsel, we all know that not all cases settle, and those that do settle sometimes don’t settle easily. All of us have encountered the frustration of the last-minute, courthouse steps agreement, after completion of all the work and stress of trial preparation. Why is it that some cases don’t settle until the very last minute, and some cases don’t settle at all?

Unsettled Legal Issues. Legitimate reasons to resort to litigation are not always evident at the beginning of a case. Much appellate work involves issues the existence of which – or at least the seriousness of which – did not surface until significant discovery and negotiation had occurred. Where the law is unsettled or where counsel genuinely disagree about the appropriate interpretation and application of the law to the facts of their case, it is not only reasonable but necessary to ask the judge to intervene. Cooperative counsel can reduce the complexity and expense of litigation by limiting contested issues, stipulating facts where possible, agreeing in advance to the admission of exhibits, declining to engage in delaying tactics, and other behavior that is both practical and considerate. Lawyers can commit themselves to conduct the proceedings without animosity and can counsel their clients to be courteous to the other side. But the court has the last word on interpreting and applying the law.

Reality Testing. All clients say they want a “fair” result and many of them genuinely mean it. But they may have a very self-absorbed definition of “fair.” Many years ago Leonard Loeb, whose wisdom and example have greatly influenced the development of a civilized standard of practice for family law attorneys, pointed out an important truth: “Sometimes the hardest negotiation you have to engage in is the one with your own client.” A client who simply cannot see the broader picture despite counsel’s best efforts may require the reality therapy of a temporary order hearing, or a pretrial with the judge, or a deadline for responding to formal discovery, in order to be capable of backing down from an unreasonable stance so settlement negotiations can proceed.

Scheduling Orders. We have all represented a left-behind spouse who does everything possible to avoid or at least delay the divorce, or a party who is preoccupied with business affairs or other family problems and just can’t get around to dealing with the work and decision-making implicit in the divorce process. If one party would prefer that the marriage continue, or if completing the action is not a priority, the court may need to facilitate progress in the case by issuing a scheduling order and setting deadlines. Counsel can cooperate by being reasonable and courteous in setting initial deadlines and in agreeing to extensions where necessary. The process need not be – and usually is not – antagonistic.

Financial Disclosure. A client may, deliberately or inadvertently, fail to disclose assets without the rigorous attention to financial detail that formal discovery entails. Surely we have all had the experience of finding forgotten assets when a client produces the records necessary to back up his or her interrogatory answers. In other circumstances, the client and/or counsel may need the assurance of due diligence in discovery in order to be comfortable with a proposed settlement, especially where the estate is complex or the assets are substantial.

Stability. Then there is the personal factor: divorce presents a significant life crisis for most of our clients, and we see them at their most vulnerable and most needy. The commencement of a divorce action is often accompanied by anxiety, guilt, an danger, and may throw a family into chaos. If one party’s antagonism toward the other is so overreaching that he or she is unable to proceed rationally and courteously, interim court orders may be the only way to achieve a level of stability that permits collaborative discussion of the long-term issues presented by the case.

In each of the above situations, the legal system provides structure and finality, and often sets the stage for the ultimate negotiated resolution of the matter. Court processes, rather than being an impediment to settlement, often facilitate it.

The Effectiveness of a “Collaborative Divorce” Approach

Do “collaborative divorce” techniques provide an effective response to the above limitations? Unfortunately, they do not.

Reality Testing. A client whose sense of “fair” is out of kilter with that of the other party and the lawyers will defeat the collaborative process, and both sides will have to incur the expense and delay of starting over with new counsel. Reality testing through a temporary order hearing or a pretrial with the judge is not an option in “collaborative divorce.” The lawyer representing a difficult client must either advocate for the client’s unreasonable position or take a public position adverse to the client’s view. An attorney cannot ethically make either of these choices, The first is at least arguably frivolous; the second violates the requirement that we advocate diligently for our clients. Proponents of “collaborative divorce” have not provided a solution to this ethical dilemma.

Delay, Expense, and New Counsel. A client who wants to stall progress in a “collaborative divorce” can do so indefinitely, until the court threatens to dismiss the action and the party wishing to proceed must then retain new counsel to request a pretrial. Again, both sides incur the expense and delay of bringing a new attorney up to speed. The attorneys who know the facts and have established rapport with their clients cannot continue to be involved. How can this result benefit anyone?

Diligence. Lack of due diligence in discovery may subject the attorney to a malpractice claim [see Helmbrecht v. St. Paul Ins. Co., 122 Wis.2d 94, 362 N.W. 2d 118 (1985)], may violate the ethical requirement of diligent representation, and may make the client uneasy about signing on the dotted line. In complex cases and cases in which there is a disparity in the spouses’ respective familiarity with or involvement in financial affairs, the security of formal discovery is not available to help resolve “collaborative divorces.”

Timely and Efficient Court Intervention. If there is sufficient antagonism that experienced counsel are unable to negotiate an agreement, or if one party refuses to comply with an agreement, court intervention is necessary. Under the “collaborative divorce” approach, both lawyers must withdraw just at the time that an attorney who knows the case is most effective.

Malpractice Issues

In collaborative divorce, the parties and their respective lawyers sign a single contract, at least arguably creating obligations of each lawyer to the other attorney as well as to both clients. The collaborative law contract puts each lawyer in privity with both parties and with opposing counsel, creating a basis for contract claims to which an attorney is not exposed in standard practice. Moreover, the collaborative divorce contract assumes, though it does not specifically state, that each client completely waives his/her attorney’s obligations to maintain client confidentiality and not to inform the other party or lawyer of his/her legal, factual, or strategic errors. Yet, the contractual commitments required for “collaborative divorce” eliminate these obligations and substitute in their place obligations to disclose and to inform that are at least theoretically actionable either as contract claims or negligence (malpractice) claims.

Assume that Attorneys A and B and their clients have agreed to proceed with a “collaborative divorce.” Attorney A makes a mistake that disadvantages client A and benefits client B. If Attorney B fails (deliberately or negligently) to correct the error, can client A sue Attorney B for malpractice? If Attorney B corrects the error, to his/her own client’s detriment, can Client B sue Attorney B for malpractice? Does the existence of a “collaborative divorce” contract provide a defense to malpractice? Does it increase malpractice exposure by permitting each party to sue both lawyers?

If, unknown to Attorney A, Client A fails to provide full financial disclosure and thus disadvantages Client B, can Client B sue Attorney A for malpractice? Can Client B sue Attorney B for failing to take steps to discover the omission? Can Client A sue either or both of the attorneys for malpractice if the nondisclosure was inadvertent and would have been discovered through standard formal discovery, and if the effect of the error is that the judgment is vacated and litigated with new counsel with Client A held liable for Client B’s additional costs?

If Attorney A fails to spot an issue that would likely be resolved in Client A’s favor, does Attorney B have a duty to raise the issue? If Attorney B fails to do so, can Client A sue Attorney B for malpractice? If Attorney B raises the issue, can Client B sue Attorney B for malpractice?

Have you notified your insurance carrier? How will you pay for breach of contract litigation and possible judgments against you that your malpractice insurance does not cover?

“Collaborative Divorce” May Increase the Cost of Divorce

“Collaborative divorce” is marketed as a cost-saver for clients, but is it really? We all know that settlement is less costly than litigation. The issue is not whether “collaborative divorce” is less expensive than litigation, but whether it permits participants to spend less than they would if they employed more conventional settlement approaches. Most lawyers try informal discovery first and proceed to interrogatories or requests for document production or depositions only where informal attempts have failed or where the information provided is suspect. Most lawyers schedule contested trials only after repeated attempts to arrive at negotiated settlements. Most lawyers genuinely believe that better and more creative settlements can be achieved through negotiation and creative planning rather than through a court-imposed resolution. Virtually no good lawyer chooses litigation as the first and best option.

In a conventional divorce, the lawyer who has worked up the case, who knows the client and the facts, and who understands the interpersonal dynamics of the case, can use this knowledge base to proceed if necessary to a litigated conclusion. In “collaborative divorce,” if negotiations fail the clients have to begin again with new counsel and pay a new lawyer to learn the complexities of the case. If the clients have a relatively simple financial situation, they probably can’t afford to pay twice. If they have a complex situation, the time and expense necessary to duplicate or recreate the financial analysis and valuations will likely be outrageously high. In some cases, clients may save some money, though there is no evidence that “collaborative divorce” is less costly or less time-consuming than any cooperative settlement approach. In other cases, however, overall costs will skyrocket, and the time it takes to complete the process will be significantly extended because of the duplication of effort entailed by substitution of counsel. And while “collaborative divorce” proponents suggest that its practitioners will have fewer uncollected accounts, one may reasonably question whether clients who are forced to change lawyers will fully pay both sets of counsel.

Is “Collaborative Divorce” a Better Process?

Advocates of “collaborative divorce” say that clients are motivated to learn problem-solving strategies because there are no “court threats.” In some cases that may be true. Experienced attorneys know, however, that with many clients it is precisely the ability to schedule court dates and set deadlines that provides the impetus for settlement. Cases often settle only when delay is no longer possible and the time for gamesmanship is over. We’ve all had the experience – probably on both sides – of dealing with a client or opposing party who stubbornly sticks to a position until trial is imminent. Clients who employ more efficient problem-solving strategies do so in most cases because they understand that they will get the best results that way, and a contested trial date need not be scheduled in order to negotiate a settlement. There are no “court threats” because they are able to resolve their differences without the looming specter of a contested divorce. Moreover, where the bargaining positions of the respective clients are unequal – one is more financially experienced, or more legally knowledgeable, or simply more intimidating – the reality of “what the judge will likely do if we go to court” may be crucial to a fair settlement.

“Collaborative divorce” supporters also claim that clients are “more satisfied” with the results achieved with the collaborative approach. It’s not news that clients are more amenable to and more willing to comply with the terms of an agreed settlement than one that is court imposed. But what is the evidence that clients are “more satisfied” with a collaborative settlement than with a settlement reached through conventional cooperation and negotiation?

“Collaborative divorce” proponents contend that the process offers a way to practice law that is “more positive, more challenging, more rewarding, and more fun” than conventional practice. This is simply not the case for those of us who have historically settled most of our cases creatively, without having to give up the option to litigate if negotiations break down, or to dodge ethical issues, or to assume additional malpractice exposure..

Cooperative Divorce

The attorneys who are spearheading the “collaborative divorce” movement have adopted this idea with the best of intentions. They are looking in good faith for a more humane and less stressful way to deal with the sturm und drang of marital dissolution. They are legitimately frustrated with the waste of time and duplication of effort that goes into simultaneous settlement negotiations and trial preparation. They want to make a hard time easier for their clients and for themselves.

We can work toward these goals without running afoul of ethical rules, increasing malpractice exposure, and refusing to use the available resources of the court system appropriately to facilitate negotiated settlements wherever possible. Let’s call it “cooperative divorce.”

The “cooperative divorce” practitioner would:

Respect all parties and counsel and treat all participants courteously.

Respond promptly and in a straight-forward way to requests – both formal and informal – for information. (No paper bags full of unsorted documents, receipts, and junk mail in response to a request for production of documents; if you need an extension of time, explain why and ask for it rather than leave the opposing attorney to guess when he or she will hear from you, etc.)

Cooperate with rescheduling requests, requests for extensions, and the like as a matter of common courtesy. Everybody needs a break sometime.

Tailor information requests to the information needed for each specific case, rather than sending blanket, form discovery documents or routinely scheduling depositions without a specific purpose.

Educate his or her client about the other party’s rights and perspective, rather than simply supporting the client’s position regardless of its merits or the realities of the case.

Encourage the client to take a broad view and consider relationship issues. Help the client focus on the issues that can be resolved within the legal system and discourage justification of the client’s bad behavior on the basis of the estranged spouse’s total lack of redeeming qualities.

Prepare seriously for settlement negotiations; do the homework that is necessary to conclude the case. Run after-tax cash flow schedules and marital balance sheets; put together comprehensive parenting plans, update financial statements – as if the case were going to trial instead of a negotiation session. Too often we contribute to delays by being unprepared to negotiate effectively.

Keep his or her word. If a cooperative lawyer commits to provide information or a document draft by a certain date, he or she does so or makes a courtesy call to explain an unavoidable delay. If a cooperative lawyer makes a proposal in negotiation, he or she does not renege on the proposal on the table and retreat to a more favorable position for his or her client.

Use the legal system as a resource to help settle the case if appropriate.

Understand the rich menu of alternative dispute resolution resources and recommend their use as appropriate.

Maintain a civil and courteous approach. If litigation is necessary, stipulate where possible, cooperate with the admission of exhibits, accommodate the other side’s expert witnesses, and advocate for his or her client without becoming antagonistic.

Most good lawyers do most of these things most of the time. But we all slip up on occasion. Committing to “cooperative divorce” avoids the problems of “collaborative divorce” and improves the practice of family law.

Thanks to Gary Young, Allan Koritzinsky, Linda Balisle, and Margo Melli for their input and support of the “cooperative divorce” concept.

This articles provides general information only and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. Nor does this article imply any attorney client relationship. This article is for informative purposes only and may not apply in your state, please consult an attorney in your area.

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Internet Business Secrets – The Power Of An Automated Money-Making System

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I was reading an email by a pretty high-profile marketer recently and he brought across what I thought was an excellent point. The truth is, I’ve been an advocate of having an automated business system online, as that is the best way to fully make use of the Internet to generate a stable income.

Having a sales system (or marketing funnel or whatever it is you call it) ensures that your business is powerful and reliable. Moreover, this system goes out to work for you.

A sales system, for those of you are not sure what it is, is the funnel your customers go through when they experience your business. This includes your website, your order form, your download page or order confirmation page, your bonus products, your email follow-up system, your customer support, and everything else your customer experiences.

On the Internet, unlike in offline sales, it’s not you yourself that’s generating the sales, it’s your machines! It’s your autoresponder, it’s your merchant account, it’s your web page.

Once you set it up and put your input into (say creating a web page), the ‘thing’ goes out to work for you and generates sales for you.

When you combine these factors, it comprises a system. And that system is powerful leverage.

Marketing and traffic is important, but so is your marketing system! So before you even start marketing and advertising your business, ensure that you have a marketing system in place, that will ensure your business gets off on a very strong footing that almost guarantees your future profits.

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How to Make Money Online by Proven Methods of Successful Internet Marketers

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Technology is changing daily at a very fast pace. Business is using this changing technology to improve their sales. Online Businesses and internet entrepreneurs can incorporate different techniques to use the internet to make money online; These techniques are not limited to but include; (1) Affiliate Marketing; (2) Surveys; (3) Software/Game Testing; (4) LinkShare Applications; (5) High-Powered Sales Promotions; (6) Multi-Level Marketing (MLM); (7) Gambling.

I have researched for years which online businesses have become and continue to be successful. Some businesses can be successful with very little thought but get lucky and are at the right place at the right time. They are what I call “fly by night” ventures in which someone has an idea and is able to get people to buy in to them and the founder makes a lot of money. They don’t last. Many of these are associated with the late night TV show promotionals in which you will see an authority figure such as a Doctor or PhD who says their product will help you become smarter, physically more attractive or lose weight to be glamorous. They all have web sites that continue the hard sell and you as a buyer must be astute not to be taken advantage of. These can be high-powered sales promotions or multi-level marketing (MLM) programs that sound great on the surface but underneath are pretty shacky. You might say these methods are not very ethical but many start-ups are not regulated and the result can be “let the buyer beware”.

Some are established, well founded organizations that have structure, purpose and missions with logical business plans. Those include Affiliate Marketing, Software/Game Testing and many LinkShare Applications. These are the ones that have well thought out business plans and will be around for the long term. I recommend you investigate these techniques if you have a desire to sell or test products.

Other online businesses are as simple as having you, as a consumer take surveys for money, click-on-links to make money or you can also find gambling opportunities for you to hopefully win money. Remember that gambling is money that is risked for possible monetary gain (“Great souls have wills; feeble ones only have wishes.”) and these internet business techniques, although well established and in many cases lucrative, utilize hooks to suck you in and make you believe you can beat the odds to make money online.

I have been successful at Affiliate Marketing and recommend this approach. All techniques can be investigated and you can make money doing them. But there are no free lunches in this world and you will need to work very hard and persistently to find the right technique for you.

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Things To Know When Selecting An Online Casino

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Online casinos are nothing but the online version of the conventional casinos. The popularity of online casinos is increasing tremendously in recent times. Online casinos enable the gamblers to play their favorite casinos games from the confines of their home. If your a casino enthusiast and want to play online then these tips would help you find the right US casino sites online.

1. While choosing an online casino the foremost thing to do is to check whether the casino has a good registration process. The registration process should be such that it should do a complete identity check and it must keep all your personal details secured. Some online casinos require you to give your own user name and the casino provides (administrator defined) password. It is advisable to not join such casino because the administrator defined password can be easily cracked and they can be easily manipulated.

2. While choosing a casino you must also consider the money security factor. You must choose a casino that offers you fund security. You must choose an online casino that uses reliable and authentic tools for money transfer.

3. To avoid any problems you should carefully read the contract details before joining. You can easily distinguish authentic casinos from others by their contract itself. These legitimate casinos have a detailed specification of their contracts. You should not join a site that refrains from giving its terms and conditions as chances are high that they can be fake.

4. Once all your security concerns are sorted out you can choose a casino that offers the best gaming experience and offer a high quality user interface.

5. You must choose a casino web site that provides a good payout scheme. You can also check an online casino directory for sites that provide good online casino bonuses.

6. Last, make sure the casino site accepts players from the country you live in. Not all casinos accept US Casino players for example so make sure the site accepts players from your country.

Once you have selected an online casino you will want to earn money and be successful at it. The key lies in learning the casino basics. The following tips would help you to be great gambler:

1. Before you start gambling on online you must pre-determine the amount with which you would play. Effective money management is the most basic tip to be a competitive gambler. If you set a limit for yourself you will lose less money and only what you can afford.

2. To start winning you should be very patient and be aware of other players moves. You can take advantage if you see other players are on a roll and you can increase your bet and increase your chances of winning.

3. If you are a beginner you must always start with games that require only limited experience. Though these games usually do not pay big winnings, they will help you to become a good player and allow you the opportunity to gain experience. You should not play complex games until you are ready and experienced enough. Once you have gained confidence of winning in these games you can go on to bet on games which requires higher skills and knowledge.

4. A very important tip to be successful while gambling on online is to know exactly when to stop playing. If you are reckless and continue to bet even when you are losing continuously then you can lose a lot of money. You must immediately stop betting when you are on a losing streak.

You must be aware of these facts and you must utilize the above mentioned while you gamble on online casinos.

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UL 2050 Certification – What it is and How to Get It

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Developing a UL 2050 Room

Anyone already in the security business knows that getting a certificate from Underwriters Laboratories is no small task. On the contrary, getting a facility “certificated” is a lengthy and labyrinthine process that requires achieving a host of the highest standards and ongoing inspections to maintain them.

That said, it is far from impossible. Hundreds of security companies are certificated nation-wide and thousands of UL 2050 certificated facilities are in operation.

This article is primarily meant to assist those businesses looking to develop a UL 2050 room by compiling all of the necessary information in a single place. However, those who already own and operate these secure facilities, but are looking to change their security company, can also benefit.

A Brief History of UL 2050

In 1993, the United States Department of Defense developed a set of standards and guidelines for securing its classified material, information, and equipment to be developed, stored, or maintained by a government contractor. Specifically, these standards were laid out in something called the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual or NISPOM. This meant that in order to do work for the DOD, every contractor’s facility needed to meet these particular standards and procedures.

Around the same time, an independent organization called Underwriters Laboratories developed a set of standards that would meet and often surpass the standards laid out in the NISPOM. The result was Underwriters Laboratories 2050 or UL 2050.

2050 has no particular meaning except it’s how UL refers to this specific level of security. The DOD recognizes UL’s meticulous standards and UL, in turn, is authorized to certify security companies to create, monitor, and inspect Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities or SCIFs.

SCIFs and Who Uses Them

At it’s core, a SCIF is any room or facility that will be used to research, manufacture, store, or support any projects, information, equipment, or personnel for any branch of the Armed Services or other agencies. Usually they imply classified information or materials, but while this may conjure images straight out of James Bond, these can be anything from a computer or chemical lab to warehouses and woodshops.

These SCIFs are almost always used by government contractors or those hoping to become one by bidding on military and government projects. Indeed, UL 2050 is the standard for the Department of Defense. Any company looking to work with the DOD, the Armed Services, or any of the other twenty-two government agencies must have a UL 2050 certified SCIF. Since these contracts are far-reaching and often insulated by a national budget, the demand for UL 2050 certified SCIFs typically remains fairly constant even in times of economic downturn.

Getting a Business UL 2050 Certified

Firstly, it isn’t a business or company that gets UL 2050 certified, but rather a specific room or facility. UL 2050 means that the SCIF has been constructed and inspected to meet UL specifications that take as their basis the DOD’s NISPOM. Whether it’s one or one hundred, this must be done separately for each SCIF.

However, and this is key, it is not UL that issues the certificate. Underwriters Laboratories deals directly with specific security companies. Each security company goes through a rigorous process of validation and certification to achieve what UL calls “CRZH” certification. CRZH doesn’t stand for anything, but refers only to the code UL assigns to this type of certificate.

The security company, by virtue of its CRZH certification, is authorized to consult, construct, inspect, monitor and certify a SCIF within a specified radius of about a four-hour response time, or 200 miles. It is the security company that sponsors a facility for certification and issues the UL 2050 certificate.

The First Step

The very first step toward UL 2050 certification is to contact a CRZH certified security company. UL maintains a directory of such companies on their website. Simply, type in your location information and “CRZH” into the “UL Category Code” and you will be given a list of all certified companies in your area. Keep the scope of the search broad by using only state or country information. This will return more results that may apply to you in a 200-mile radius.

Once you contact the security company, negotiations begin for the kind of SCIF you need for what you’re looking to do. Typically, this will start with an inspection of the proposed site and then proceed to what systems and changes will need to be implemented.

It is impossible to overestimate the importance of this security company. A SCIF must be constructed according to precise standards. Each step of construction, programming, electronics, and monitoring must be done by companies with their own particular levels of certification and quality. A CRZH security company is an invaluable resource for finding trusted companies from builders to alarm monitors.

Consulting a CRZH certificated security company as early as possible allows a business to develop realistic budgets and determine competitive bids for government contracts.

Cloud of Mystery

Anyone looking to develop their first SCIF may be put off by how unclear the public information is. Cost, for example, is rarely discussed in any finite terms until well into the process. The reason, simply, is that the cost must be determined on a case-by-case basis according to what changes need to be made to meet UL 2050 standards.

Similarly, the standards themselves, described in a single UL publication, are one of the most highly controlled documents in the nation. Due to the level of security concerned, a copy can only be issued when a security company registers with UL. Even then it will only be given to a designated employee that is verified by address and contact information and the copy he or she receives is individually numbered and cataloged. Needless to say, the consequences of duplicating or leaking the security standards of every DOD and Armed Services project in the country are dire indeed.

After Online and Long-Term

Once the room is developed, the security company is responsible for inspecting and monitoring the facility to ensure it meets and maintains UL 2050 standards. Underwriters Laboratories will execute their own inspection of each aspect of the facility. After the facility has been approved, the security company is authorized to issue an official UL 2050 certificate.

This certificate is a kind of bond ensuring that the facility will operate by UL 2050 standards and that the security company issuing the certificate will facilitate and ensure that level of operation. To do so, the security company will perform periodic inspections of the facility, as will Underwriters Laboratories. These inspections are often unannounced and will occur at least once a year by both organizations.

Consequently, it is critical to have a security company you trust. Not unlike other services, a good security company should have an extraordinary commitment to quality in installation, service, and response. The stakes, after all, rank into the millions of dollars in government contracts.

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