Panama 2009 – My First Adventure Outside the USA

In the summer of 2009 I made my first trip outside of the Country. At the ripe age of 39, I boarded a plane and headed to Central America. I’d never been though customs, immigration and had a naked passport. I wondered if the representative at the desk would question where I’d been for the previous 39 years, thankfully he didn’t.

Confession Time – I immediately fell in love with the thrill of landing in a foreign location and soaking up all the ambiance. I fell in love with the fun of working remotely from an exotic destination and even the thought that only my team knew where I was and the clients I chatted with had no idea.

My loving and fun guide on this adventure was my fantastic partner, Tomie who had previously visited Panama on several occasions. While this was my first trip, I’d been there many times in books, magazines and via the web. I began to look at moving to Panama when after the summer of 2004 in Central Florida I endured weeks with no power after 3 hurricanes visited. Shortly after that summer I learned that there were no hurricanes in Panama, plenty of infrastructure, friendly people and warm weather.

We ventured into the old City of Casco Viejo, out to the beaches of Santa Clara and into the jungle 3 hours down a winding road from Santiago. We boarded a speed boat and enjoyed an entire day and night out on Tobaga Island. From the condo we stayed in we could see the ships as they waited in line to go through the Panama Canal. While on the island we enjoyed an entire Saturday and Sunday with no internet, it was absolutely liberating.

In 7 days we ate, drank, swam in the ocean, enjoyed siestas and made some new friends. We happily lived without our Blackberries, or as I use to call them, Crackberries. Oddly enough the first two days without checking the silly thing to see if someone sent me an email was tough, then well it was actually liberating. Along the way we enjoyed wifi at most hotels, I was easily able to connect with my team, answer client questions and even make phone calls.

I learned a valuable lesson that I don’t think I could have here in the states where my phone easily let’s me get interrupted all day long. I learned that while I’m pretty important to some people, everyone who wanted to connect with me had no problem waiting a few hours or even until the next day or so to get a reply. Not responding with in seconds or minutes to an email didn’t make the earth spin out of control or my business to suffer. It actually helped me gain focus, clarity and some much needed relaxation.

Fearing the unknown often times keeps us stuck, makes it impossible for us to enjoy the life we truly want. Life is meant for us to enjoy it ~ so make a list of the places you want to visit, the things you want to do and start doing them.

Top 10 Internet Marketing Trends for 2011

The dawn of 2011 gives us the perfect opportunity to predict the top 10 internet marketing trends for the upcoming year. The 90’s was the decade of the internet, and since then we have seen new layers, tools, and worlds built on top of the world wide web.

Social networks dominated the past decade, apps came on top of that, and 2011 will bring even more areas of digital interaction and communication.

And just to have some fun for the holidays, I decided to turn them into some of the cheesiest puns and rhymes ever assembled in a blog post. If you can’t stand the rhymes, I’ve put a real title right next to them.

So here’s my take on the top 10 trends (in order) for internet marketing in 2011.

(1) No more game layer naysayers (The sculpting of the “game layer”)

Seth Priebatsch, the founder of SCVNGR, plans to build a “game layer” on top of the world. Things like rewards programs, board games, social games and check-ins have all come to make up the idea behind a game layer.

This game layer is a way to influence consumer behavior, by turning everything into a game. Wherever you go, whatever you buy will be built into a sort-of game dynamic that will reward you in multiple ways.

This game layer will be the most important trend to watch in internet marketing in 2011, as companies like SCVNGR and Four Square become a bigger part of the consumer process.

(2) Even more apps perhaps (Mobile apps continue to “suburbanize” the internet)

The internet has been compared to the wild wild west with its initial lawlessness and quick expansion. With the introduction of apps, the internet is being tamed into smaller communities – suburbanizing the internet in a way.

Jeff Cormier ( wrote an article today about how mobile apps are projected to experience 60% growth by 2014. In addition, revenue from mobile apps will increase from $4.9 billion this year, to $35 billion by 2014, according to an IDC report.

So we will see even more apps in 2011. Apps mark the beginning of the taming of the internet into organized mobile programs, and 2011 will continue this trend.

(3) All bets off, all Groupon (Downward pricing pressures on SMBs from Groupon-like sites)

As Groupon continues to roll out sites for more and more cities across the country, the “group coupon” phenomenon continues to sweep the web.

Thousands of other coupon sites have also popped up. I Am Hungry, for example, offers restaurant deals around your area. With apps for Facebook and mobile devices, these types of sites are spreading like wildfire.

We are almost at the point with all of these sites that you could always get a meal at half price. For 2011, look for the Groupon and I Am Hungry-type sites to put downward pricing pressure on small service businesses (especially restaurants).

(4) Online privacy issues and miscues (Online privacy becomes a huge issue/opportunity)

Access to data is an essential part of the idea behind Web 2.0. Having up-to-date information on people is the key to targeting search results, advertising, and offers. However, when will this go too far? 2011.

The Federal Trade Commission just released a report this month about protecting consumer privacy. This movement covers an idea to implement a “Do Not Track” program for consumers. This would be a technology that would allow consumers to tell websites to not track their activities and information.

As this movement plays out, look for online privacy to be a huge part of the web in 2011.

(5) Boob Tube out, YouTube in (Increase in online video marketing)

Faster internet connections, easy share capabilities, better video search, link integration, and YouTube channels – these all point to an even bigger emphasis on video marketing. A video going viral is the dream of every marketer, and it’s easier to make those videos and easier to have them spread.

Pew Internet Research says that 7 in 10 adult internet users have used the internet to watch or download a video. In addition, videos can help increase search rankings and have a major impact on SEO.

With all of these factors coming together, online video marketing will become mainstream in 2011.

(6) Local becomes focal for search engines (More emphasis on local search)

Over the last few months of 2010, we’ve seen local results take a bigger role in Google SERPs (search engine results pages). Tools like Google Places and Yahoo! Local make it easier for businesses to gain exposure for their certain keywords and now have placed more importance on those listings.

By incorporating Google Tags into Google Places and offering statistical insights for your place listing, Google is telling small businesses that local search will become even more important in 2011. This makes sense considering that the goal of a search engine is to deliver the best results for each search. What good would a plumber in Seattle do for a homeowner in Boston?

(7) 2011 Twitter: More litter, less glitter (Major change in the Twitter model)

A San Francisco Chronicle article came out today revealing statistics about Twitter. As the article states, Only 8% of American adults use Twitter and less than 1/4 of those users are “heavy” Twitter users.

Twitter’s goal to become the world’s largest media company, therefore, is too far out of reach.

It seems that Twitter has been most successful in the celebrity-realm, as people can get an insight into the lives of their favorites stars. The celebrity element, however, is not mainstream enough for Twitter to survive solely on that niche and its goal to become THE media outlet seems out of reach. So where does Twitter go from here?

Well, we’ve seen the introduction of “promoted tweets” and the new Twitter profile in 2010.

What does 2011 hold for Twitter? I am predicting declining participation rates on Twitter, more dead profiles, and potentially a serious change to make money and increase participation.

(8) HTML5 goes live (The release of HTML5 and its impact)

HTML5 is currently under development by the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group. The latest HTML revision will make it easier to incorporate multimedia into websites.

The impact on SEO will be interesting to follow in 2011. The new <> tag, for example, will make it easier to segment new posts for online periodicals like blogs and online magazines. Search engines will most likely place either more or different emphasis on these sorts of tags.

(9) Online communities = new opportunities (Market Research continues to change)

Typical market research reports are generated over a long period of time and result in 1000 pages of somewhat outdated data. Online communities are a newer way to conduct real-time market research from a group of about 200-500 consumers that represent the target market for that specific brand. These people will answer key questions and discuss certain topics associated with a product before it launches, for example.

Companies like Communispace and MindGauge allow brands to gather consumer insight quickly. MindGauge’s website describes the difference between traditional market research and online communities by saying, “Rather than an independent source gathering information, respective managers will begin to integrate the community into all components of their projects.”

Although this powerful insight tool has been around for awhile, we are predicting that more dollars will be devoted towards this kind of tool in 2011.

(10) The cloud starts to reign (Cloud Computing continues to spread)

Although “the cloud” does not really fall under internet marketing, its impact on agility for sales forces and IT departments is undeniable, so it found its
way into the top ten. The days of building custom-made business apps and software are gone with companies like Cloud computing allows businesses of all sizes to get better systems up and running, faster and cheaper than custom-built software.

For 2011, even more clunky and expensive IT systems will be scrapped for the cloud and collaboration will be brought everywhere through mobile devices.

2011 should be the fastest year in internet marketing. Many more trends will occur that could change the landscape of internet marketing for businesses of all sizes.

What do you see as the biggest trend for 2011?

Online Auto Insurance Quotes: Identifying the Affordable Options

For millions of people, getting the right insurance cover for their cars is complicated by the intricacies of their own situations. Securing cheap policies does not necessarily translate to good business, since bad quality of coverage takes from whatever savings might have been made. With easy access to online auto insurance quotes, the best coverage with the biggest savings can be found.

It is impossible to ignore the effect that the Internet has had on the insurance industry. Competition has ensured that greater deals than ever are now to be found quickly. It is an answer to the demands of the everyday consumer, so providing free instant online quotes has become a standard offer.

Speed is assured through comparison sites, which feature the best auto insurance policies that match to the information provided in the application form. But knowing what to look for is a key component to finding the best possible policy.

Finding Insurance that is Affordable

As with everything else, consumers want to find insurance policies that are as cost-effective as possible. But there are specific risks to watch out for, with the small print of any insurance policy showing an affordable policy to be an expensive one in the long run. By getting an online auto insurance quote all of the details can be examined quickly.

It is in the small print that extra charges and costs are discovered. And with free instant online quotes, the cost of checking out these deals is minimal.

Some little extras might be charged that have little effect on the affordability of a policy, but it is not advisable to accept them. The fact is that no-one should have to pay for quotes, so steer clear of any auto insurance quote that comes at a price.

The Pros of Using The Internet

Searching online is the fastest and most simple method of tracking down great deals, but that does not mean the job requires no effort. Comparison sites sift through thousands of quotes in a matter of seconds, with the best online auto insurance quotes according to your own preferences presented in tabulated form for easy reading.

Getting fast access to the most suitable policies available is great, but it is important to carefully read the details provided. The preferences will provide a good guide to the best deals but it is necessary to examine these free instant quotes online before identifying the right one to choose.

It is never a good idea to take the first auto insurance shown on the comparison table. Each policy is different, and there may be some minor details that are unsuitable. It may turn out that option 7 in a list of 10 is the right one.

Identifying the Affordable Option

So, how can the affordable online auto insurance quote be recognized against the dozens of others? Your own situation is a key to that, since it is your specific location, income and driving habits that dictate the degree and type of coverage that is necessary. The premium is set in accordance with these elements, and can be paid in one go, or over a number of installments.

Of course, by getting free instant quotes online, the first step is already covered. But it is the information entered in the application form that is most telling – information like how often the car is used, your address and if any supplementary drivers will use the vehicle. Also, if comprehensive cover is needed, or additional features like personal injury and property damage liability.

The cost of the auto insurance policy can be reduced by dropping some features, but remember should anything happen, the cost must be covered independently – which is very expensive.

What is Heart Disease – Can Garlic Protect Us From More Than Vampires?

People have used garlic for thousand of years to prevent many illnesses, among them heart attacks, high blood pressure, and many more as well as to ward off vampires. Well, although modern research has not confirmed yet that rubbing garlic on doorknobs and window frames can protect us against vampires or evil spirits, it has confirmed what our ancestors believed about the health benefits of this herb: its consumption can protect us from many ailments.

Unfortunately, for several decades, the widespread use of antibiotics has ignored the medical properties of garlic. Lately, however, interest in garlic has escalated and nowadays research is focusing on the role garlic plays in the prevention and control of heart disease.

How can garlic help prevent and control heart disease?

Through the following mechanisms:

1. Garlic can lower your high blood pressure

High blood pressure is one of the health conditions where garlic treatment brings the fastest results. Studies suggest that garlic dilates blood vessel walls, increasing the diameter of the arteries. Garlic also helps prevent high blood pressure by stopping blood cells from sticking together.

In a clinical trial, the subjects ingested standardized garlic powder capsules for four years. The results showed a 9 to 18 percent reduction in plaque volume and a 7 percent decrease in blood pressure. This resulted in an increase in the diameter of the arteries by 4 percent, which is associated with an 18 percent improvement of blood flow. These effects of garlic resulted in a risk reduction for heart attacks and strokes by more than 50 percent.

2. Garlic can lower your blood cholesterol

Studies indicate that the populations that eat garlic consistently have the lowest level of blood cholesterol. Pennsylvania State University showed that men with high total blood cholesterol were able to lower its concentration by 7 percent and LDL, the bad cholesterol, by 10 percent when taking garlic supplements. The study indicated that the sulfur compounds in garlic were responsible for the results, especially S-allylcysteine, which prevents the formation of cholesterol by the liver.

3. Garlic can lower your blood platelets

Platelets are tiny cells in the blood that, when arteries get damaged, rush to the lesion site to repair them. They become sticky and form a clot. Unfortunately, although platelets’ intentions are good, these clots are the first step toward the formation of a thrombus, an accumulation of platelets and protein. A thrombus may in time obstruct the flow of blood in the blood vessels. Studies have shown that small doses of garlic can prevent platelets from becoming sticky and piling up together. In a study carried out by Liverpool John Moores University, the subjects experienced a reduction of platelet stickiness after ingesting 5 milliliters of garlic extract per day for 13 weeks.

4. Garlic can reduce your plaque in the arteries

Plaque starts to form when arteries are damaged. It is made up of mounds of fat and debris deposited in the wall of the arteries that reduce the space available for blood to circulate. Plaque keeps growing and with time may block the flow of blood in the arteries.

One study showed that continuous intake of high doses of garlic powder capsules for four years reduced the plaque volume by 5 to 18 percent. It is also a fact that most people between 50 and 80 years of age have an increase in the amount of plaque. During the four years this study lasted, the volume of plaque remained constant in people within this age frame demonstrating that garlic has a preventive as well as a curative role in heart disease.

5. Garlic is an antioxidant

Garlic has been shown to protect blood vessels from the destructive effects of free radicals. Ankara University of Turkey conducted a study to investigate the effects of garlic extract on the oxidation of red blood cells. For six months, 11 patients with atherosclerosis ingested a daily dose of 1 milliliter of garlic extract per kilogram of body weight. The study showed a reduction on the level of oxidation of red blood cells in the patients.

How to get the medicinal properties out of garlic

To get the medicinal properties of fresh garlic, however, you must follow several steps, a “protocol” as I call it before consuming it. Here is what you need to do

– Peel the cloves
– Cut them in small pieces
– Crush them in a mortar.
– After you have crushed the garlic, let it sit uncovered in the mortar for 10 or 15 minutes before you put it in the food. This allows the formation of allicin, a compound necessary to unleash the medicinal properties of garlic.


Remember that people around the world, especially those who enjoy few chronic diseases, use garlic extensively in their daily diets. A truly wonder of nature with more than 200 chemical compounds, garlic has been a crucial contributor to the curative effects of the Mediterranean diet. So, how about going back to the basics and put some garlic in your life as a preventive measure for heart disease?

Building a Drug-Free Environment for Teenagers

Teenagers fall prey to using illicit drugs because they are tempted to try these drugs. They believe that taking such drugs will help them attain pleasure and stay active. Unfortunately, they are unaware of the negative effects of using drugs on health and are putting their lives at risk.

Drug abuse is harmful for teenagers:

The harmful consequences of teen drug abuse include increased risk of getting addicted to drugs later in life. Since their body and mind is still in a developing stage, their health can seriously get affected by drug abuse.

Short-term consequences of drug abuse include blurred vision, nausea, glazed eyes, increased fatigue, sudden weight loss or weight gain, mood swings, etc. Long-term consequences include kidney, lung and liver failure, brain damage and high blood pressure leading to heart attack, stroke and death.

Most common drugs used by teens:

There are different types of illicit drugs that are generally used by teens. These drugs are very harmful and may lead to serious health problems. You need to know them to protect your teen from drug abuse.

Some commonly abused drugs include

•Tobacco products
•Prescription drugs

Parents and school/college authorities should keep an eye on teens:

Adolescence is a stage in life when significant changes in body and mind occur. Teens find it a pleasure in taking any kind of risk. If they are with the wrong crowd, they can get into drug abusing habit. Therefore, parents and school/college authorities should monitor their teens’/students’ behavior. If they notice that the teen is gradually changing his or her behavior, immediately take necessary action.

Some common behavioral changes

•Fall in academics
•Rebellious behavior
•Change in friends
•Change in appetite
•Lying to get away with things
•Neglecting physical appearance
•Unexplained need for money

Parents and school/college authorities should watch out for these changes. If they do notice any of these changes, they need to confirm the drug abuse. For this they can take help of drug testing kits. Once drug abuse is confirmed they need to speak to their children.

Initially, if parents get to know that their teen is abusing drugs, they should talk to him/her and explain the negative effects of drugs, because teens at a tender age are very rebellious. Parents, therefore, should handle the situation very carefully.

Even after the parents’ intervention, if the teen is adamant and does not want to mend his/her ways, it would be appropriate to take him/her either to a counselor or a rehab center.