Unlike Last Season, Early Schedule Will Challenge Cubs In 2017

The celebration has ended, the 108 year drought is over, and baseball on Chicago’s North Side should return to normal. In other words, fans of the Cubs can go back to worrying.

Several big concerns face them as they look toward the 2017 season, in addition to the nearly impossible task of topping the World Series Championship they earned in October. No team has won the Fall Classic back to back in this century, although a much shorter span than the Cubs endured between titles.

That trip to the World Series was made easier by the early schedule, an arrangement the Cubs will not enjoy next April. Chicago did not play a winning team until April 18 against the Cardinals, which was their fifth series of the season. The Cubs did not play another winning team until May 2, when they played the Pirates. Spending the first month against the likes of Cincinnati, Arizona, Atlanta, and Milwaukee would provide nearly any team with the confidence needed to carry them through the most important stretch of the season. To emphasize just how important a hot start is, examine the National League from last season.

All four of the teams who reached the Division Series posted winning percentages over.700 during the first week of 2016, led by the Cubs and Nationals winning eight of their first nine games. The Giants were victorious in six of their first eight, and the Dodgers won seven of their first ten.

The advantage of opening against non-contenders will not be available to the Cubs in 2017, when the early part of their schedule features matchups against the only two teams that had winning records against Chicago last year. They open in St. Louis on April 2nd, a Sunday night game between the two rivals that will be broadcast on national television.

What could make that initial series even more troubling for the Cubs is the strong possibility that one of their most exciting players from last year will be playing for the opposing team. Center fielder Dexter Fowler, Chicago’s spark plug at the top of the batting order, is a free agent. Many baseball writers have projected St. Louis as the most likely team to sign Fowler. After the series in St. Louis, the Cubs must play the team that nearly eliminated them in the NLCS. The Dodgers, who won both of their regular season series against the Cubs in 2016, have the opportunity to avenge their playoff loss on the opening weekend in April.

The hot start Chicago used to build momentum for their World Series run last year is far less likely to befall them in 2017, simply because of the competition. Instead of opening against last place clubs like San Diego and Cincinnati, the Cubs will be tested right out of the chute by teams expecting to be contenders.

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Are You at Risk of Being “Uberized”?

If you’re like many Business Owners and Leaders you probably feel pretty good about the position you hold in your market… so did the taxi cab companies and drivers before Uber became a reality. Now they are scrambling and trying to find a way to survive… even to the point of trying to get political help in different cities to stay afloat.

Disruption and Commoditization have impacted virtually every industry today. There probably isn’t a single industry that hasn’t been impacted by a disruptive organization entering their market and stealing some of their market share. Uber is an excellent example but there are many others that have been equally disruptive. Companies such as LegalZoom have taken billions of dollars away from attorneys over the past several years. They captured and disrupted a document and transaction-based business and turned it into a commodity by substantially lowering the pricing of document preparation… impacting attorneys all over the country.

Amazon was an early disruptor to the entire book business… taking significant market share away from Barnes and Noble and Borders who were recognized giants in the book industry. And we certainly can’t forget about Blockbuster’s demise when Netflix entered the market. They were the unquestioned dominant leader in video rental and were virtually replaced overnight by an unknown company with a new disruptive business model that matched the needs of customers at substantial savings.

Even though these examples are in completely different industries there is one common thread that runs through all of them… they didn’t believe anyone could disrupt their dominance in their market. While it’s awesome to believe in your product or service, it’s dangerous to think there isn’t someone waiting in the wings to take away your position. Unlike any other time in history, we are now seeing new companies coming into traditional industries from many unrelated areas and establishing a disruptive model and capturing significant market share. This trend is only going to continue now that it has shown massive success over the past few years. So what can you do, as the leader of your business, to either avoid or minimize the impact of this potential disruption?

While commoditization is difficult to combat with products and services over a long period of time, there is at least one alternative that appears to withstand the test of time and delivers differentiation in the market… your CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

It is difficult to continually come up with new products and services to satisfy the ravenous appetite customers have today. Just when you think you have the best and leading edge product or newest service, someone comes in and “one-ups” you and takes away the leading spot. While you might remain there for some period of time, it is difficult to remain at the top for extended periods of time. Apple is one of the few that has been successful at this… but it took them many years of living in the shadow of Microsoft and others before they became the dominant leader. Today, Microsoft is in this unenviable position and trying to fight their way back to the top… especially in the race for the Cloud.

But these are behemoth companies… not the SMB market. They can throw billions of dollars at innovation and products and hope they find a winner. The small and mid-sized business (SMB) can’t be this frivolous with their cash and making too many product/service mistakes can wipe out a business before anything comes to fruition. The proven alternative to this madness is to focus on the ONE THING that is completely in their control to design and deliver… their CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

Customer Experience has both short and long term advantages. It is something that can be created and implemented within the year but last for many decades to come when implemented properly. And by properly I’m not talking about telling all your employees they need to be nicer to the customer… that never works for the long term… every company can be nice to their customers if they try. This isn’t the answer… this isn’t the differentiator… but it’s on the right track.

Creating a customized CUSTOMER JOURNEY that is built upon a very well defined Customer Experience Process (something we call Customer Experience Mapping) is what allows companies to reap these rewards for many years into the future. Think Disney… they created “the happiest place on earth” and continue to deliver this experience year after year after year. This didn’t happen by holding a meeting and telling all their employees and characters to be nicer to their guests… it happened because they have a very well defined Customer Journey that is built on a foundation of a well-designed and executed Customer Experience.

Nordstrom did the same thing many decades ago. They started selling shoes… then clothing… all at high prices. But they started with a very distinct process inside the organization for delivering an incredible customer experience day in and day out. Zappos followed this same model… sold shoes… one of the ultimate commodities in the clothing industry… and they dominate today. They don’t give discounts and silly things like “one day only” sales (every day)… they simply deliver a remarkable Customer Experience to every customer every day… and their customers love to buy from Zappos. And it has worked out pretty well when you consider they went from zero to over $1 Billion in revenues in less than 10 years and were sold to Amazon for more than a billion dollars. Not a bad model if you ask me.

One way to avoid being COMMODITIZED and losing customers is to design something even new entrants can’t copy… the experience you offer. If your Customer Experience is so incredibly amazing and remarkable… WOW… every single day with every interaction, this creates immediate differentiation and a long tail of success. It is the ultimate weapon against commoditization or even new entrants into a market. For a new disruptive entrant to take away market share they would need to be so much better and cheaper than anything you offered… which is difficult to do today. And for those of you that are saying to yourself right now, “Yea but we’re different, we do a good quality job and treat our customers well so we aren’t at risk,” I would offer you some instant advice… take the blinders off and get real with looking at your business. This is living in a fantasy world… this isn’t looking at your company from the eyes of your customer… they are seeing something very different. And if someone came into your market today and offered a completely different (and awesome) experience to your customers at or below your price they would be gone in a heartbeat.

Achieving long-term dominance doesn’t happen by “being nicer to your customers” and thinking you have created differentiation… you haven’t. Being CUSTOMER OBSESSED and creating a process based CUSTOMER JOURNEY that has a well laid out and documented CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE PROCESS at the heart of it is what will help you avoid being “Uberized.” This strategy gives you differentiation, uniqueness, and a special place in your customers heart and mind… it gives you the “long tail” of success.

I would strongly and passionately encourage you to learn more about why and how this is completely different than what you are probably doing today. If there was ONE THING TO FOCUS ON IN 2017 it would be to create a strategy based around a well-planned Customer Journey which incorporated an incredibly awesome Customer Experience by Mapping out all the experiences your customer will receive when they interact with your business (there are usually over 20 for most companies in the SMB market). If this is of interest and you want to learn more, let’s grab coffee and I can share how some of the best companies in the world have followed this path… for decades… and still dominate in their industries. I think you will find it a fascinating discussion…

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Real Talk on Overcoming Addictions

There comes a point in your life when you say “enough!” The fight within becomes so unbearable that you say.” No more, that’s it I’ve had it.” You’re done being a victim. A quick shift in consciousness appears. You hit rock bottom.. There is no way but up. You realize that you have to look yourself in the mirror and get real with yourself and become the person you know that you can become. Decide now and realize that “one day” is an illusion, “one day” never comes. Do the things that need to be done, now. The drugs, the sex, the feeling sorry for yourself, the hypocrisy, the porn, the lying, the whining and complaining needs to become a thing of the past.

Sometimes the truth hurts and sometimes the truth about yourself needs to be revealed. Lying to yourself and waiting on something outside yourself to save you ain’t gonna happen. You save you. Only the individual knows his or her truth. The doubts and fears are brought to the surface. We all know what we have to do in order to save ourselves. We have to go to the place that we don’t want to go. We have to get uncomfortable. The shift in thought becomes freedom. Look within and find the source of your misery. Face that demon and overcome it. We can be shown the way to end suffering, but it’s up to us to make the first step. We have to man up. Start with the small things and then gradually do bigger things. Start being grateful for the things you have now. Act the part or fake it till you make it and become liberated. There are people in the world who have so little and they are so happy. Happiness is a state of mind. Act happy, act free, become an actor. Don’t tell others your intentions either. Shut your mouth and move in the direction of right thought and actions. There are people in the world with every luxury that the world provides and they are miserable as hell. Happiness is not in material objects, otherwise those with the most wealth and stuff would be the happiest.

The kingdom of heaven is of no use if we think we can bring our vices with us. Heaven is a mindset. The old self, thoughts and habits associated with that old self has got to go. A new self has to be created. It can begin with a creation of a new attitude, a new way of seeing things and deciding to let go of things that don’t serve us any longer. Life is a journey and we all have obstacles to overcome. Dwelling on the past is useless. Leave the past in the past where it belongs.

Winston Churchill was the prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955 and he has a famous quote that reads, “If you are going through hell, keep going.” Don’t stop in hell and extend your visit, move on. Hell is a passing phase and for those who know where the keys to heaven are can enter. Heaven and hell are states of mind. Get tired, get fed up and do the things necessary to leave hell and enter heaven. Pray, meditate, read books, listen to motivational talk and fight to overcome temptation with everything you have. Change the way you think now. Stop listening to useless opinions, negative commentary from so-called experts. Resist being distracted by things that have nothing to do with the improvement of your life.

Learn from your mistakes and look forward to the future you want. Leave the past in the past. Get out of your comfort zone and get talked about. People gonna talk about you anyway, they’re talking about you now. Realize that not everyone will like you. Don’t take it personal. Not everyone like God, so why would you be any different? It’s almost 2017 and it’s time out for playing.

Technology is available almost everyone on earth. If you live in an industrialized nation, then there are no excuses if you want help for your addictions or destructive habits. The internet is full of free information and videos on practically any subject. YouTube is a great source for getting help in overcoming addiction. There are people from all over the world that will give free advice and tips. Just as technology can be used for bad, technology can also be used for good. I love technology, because it has helped me in overcoming a very bad addiction. I am free now. It took hard work, praying, meditating, counseling, books, videos and going deep within. Start with noticing the silent self talk within. Be aware of the voice in your head and watch it. The voice has always been there, notice the voice and separate yourself from that voice. Look at the voice from a distance. Silence yourself and resist falling asleep. Silence your electronic devices and spend time alone and watch your thoughts. You will start to think about what you are thinking about. Realization of the false self shows itself. Next, you will see the addict, the complainer, and that false self for what it is. A new way of seeing is revealed. If you have ever said,”what was I thinking?” That realization is a glimpse into consciousness awakening.

Going through hell can be a great teacher. Decide now and change your mind. Quit playing and realize that life is passing regardless. Get fed up and make the change for a better life now. Do what you know you should do. Free your mind now.

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The Features Of Soccer Cleats

Soccer cleats refer to a firm ground soccer shoe, fitted with studs or cleats to provide traction on most grass surfaces and outdoor soccer fields.

The first soccer shoes were ordered by King Henry VIII in 1526 when he wanted another pair to play football with. One that was tougher than his ordinary shoes. As the game got formalized in the mid 19th century, so did the accessories one needed to have while playing the game, the most important of which were the football shoes.

Vulcanization of rubber was an important invention for the manufacture of cleats whose primary purpose was protection of the players’ feet. And so on from there, many innovations and generations later, football boots have come to represent the advancement of shoe making technology and materials and its importance in football, a game which enjoys absolute popularity amongst all the nations of the world. Today’s soccer cleat

Is not built so much for protection as for performance enhancement of the player! It does not even cover the ankle of the player. The cuts and organization of the studs are to suit different purposes. Amateur players use plastic studded cleats for hard ground. A wet ground requires detachable studs for better grip. These could be metal, plastic or rubber. Rubber soles are provided for indoor football shoes and there are special shoes for artificial turf.

Football blades where the studs have blades facing in different directions to minimize ankle injury to the wearer and deliver excellent grip are also an innovation that has drawn flak for causing a disproportionate number of injuries to other players.

A combination of synthetic fibers with or without leather is used for the upper, nowadays, with emphasis on the lightness of the boot. Carbon fiber as a new material, provides extreme lightness and is extremely flexible.

Additional features have been introduced like rubber ridges and shaping the boot for the ball enhance the player’s performance. There are shoes fitted with microchips that capture’s the player’s performance metrics and transmits it to a tablet or PC.

The latest is the environmentally friendly shoe, made with recycled and renewable material. This is also extremely lightweight.

Football cleats of the Future – Some interesting crystal ball gazing

· One young player predicts that the cleats of the future will have retractable studs, allowing him to use them as ordinary shoes· Autolacing capabilities which will be good – the wearer, after tying the laces steps back into the heel of the shoe. While stepping back, he pushes a lever which lock the laces in place. Then the lever is disconnected in case the player steps back again while playing.

· Recyclable material and carbon fibers used in building aircraft will definitely be the order of the day in creating lightweight boots that contain material used in the last world cup! Not only that, each pair of boots will be recycled and rebuilt to suit that customer’s requirements.

Boots that fit like a sock… such silhouettes will be more in demand for better performance and comfort.

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Tips And Tricks To Market Your Website

New Year is ready to knock your doors with new dreams, challenges, and opportunities for your business. No matter, how many mistakes you have done in your past year, it’s time to correct them all. This may give a kick-start to your career and let you touch the new heights in your business. The first thing you should keep in mind is that creating a website is not enough, you also have to spread it around the world, so, it can create opportunities. Marketing is a daunting task that you cannot overlook anyhow, so, here are some proven ways that can help you to market your website in 2017, which allow you to rock on the internet with your distinct identity. Optimization Is The Key: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an important and unforgettable factor for the success of your website. It may increase the visibility of your website, so, the first and foremost thing you need to do is optimize your web pages, content or social links for search engines. It helps to market your website in all over the world by the mean of increasing its ranking on different search engines.

Breathtaking Design That Catches The Eyes: Another way to market your website over the internet or intranet is by creating mesmerizing and inspiring design that catches the eyes of its visitors and pulls them to go through your website once. The design is the soul of your website that helps in its marketing. Always give a look and add functionality to your website that attracts human and web spiders as well.

Spread It To The World With Social Media: Nowadays, social media is ruling the market it helps to viral any news in a few seconds. So, you should also take its help to market your website. You can easily create your business pages on different social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and many more and get quality traffic to your website. Content Is The King: Last but not the least method to market your website is by creating engaging and inspiring content to post on your website that gives your visitors a reason to come back. Always remember unique content not only open the doors for new visitors or retain the existing ones but also give search engines a reason to crawl your website, which in result increase its ranking.

These are some simple tips and tricks you can use to market your website in 2017. So, what are you waiting for? Use it and get ready to touch the new heights in your business.

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