News this week

I’m a reader, and I often stumble across references to things I never heard of before. These are some things I’ve recently learned about:
Square – a new company that allows merchants to accept credit card payments using their iPhone or iPad, or Android phone. The service is free to initiate, the company provides free apps and card readers. I purchased something from a merchant using Square last weekend. He swiped my credit card through the card reader attached to his iPhone. The signature field came up on his iPhone screen, and he offered to send a receipt to my phone. I had seen Square mentioned recently in a newspaper article, and had downloaded the app, and received the free card reader. It was fun to see it used in person. Now I just have to find a willing participant to let me swipe a credit card! The fee to merchants is 2.75% per swipe transaction.
Microloan – This type of investing was pioneered in third world countries to finance small businesses, often operated by women, with loans in the range of a few hundred dollars. Now microloans have come to the West, only the loans are slightly larger, typically in the range of a few thousand dollars. This article in USA Today explains. I was familiar with this concept used in developing countries, but did not know this is available closer to home.

Angel Investing –  I read about “angels among us” in a recent issue of Entrepreneur, and not being a business school graduate, was not familiar with this term. Turns out there are three kinds of investors for start-up companies. The first is “FFF,” also known as family, friends, and fools. The second category is angel investors, individuals who typically invest a few hundred thousand in exchange for partial ownership. The third type of investor is the well-known class of venture capitalists, who typically finance to the tune of millions of dollars.
Threading – This is a hair removal process, (see this explanation) originally practiced in India and other Eastern cultures. I was strolling through a mall in Seattle a couple of weeks ago and saw a threading kiosk. The staff…not sure if you would call them “threaders”…were practicing this art for removal of facial hair, eyebrow grooming, etc. I got my eyebrows done. I can report it tickled a little bit, made the tip of my nose twitchy, but didn’t really hurt. It ran about the same price as waxing, and seems to last as long. The woman who took my payment said there are threading kiosks in malls throughout Seattle. I believe she said they have eleven locations. What a great reminder that there is always something new (or new to me) on the horizon ready to establish itself in the marketplace!
Life mapping – I mentioned this in my last post. I’m just beginning to do a little reading on this topic, but basically, this is a systematic approach to help you determine what you want out of life…what your goals are, what you would like to change, and how to get from where you are to where you want to be. Using similar tools to those used to facilitate corporate strategizing and planning of mission and vision statements, the corporate speak is brought down to a personal level. I found some books on this subject through Amazon, but life coaches would definitely be another great resource to tap into if you’re curious.

Flipboard – Flipboard is an app that turns various internet sites like Facebook and Twitter into a magazine format presentation. On an iPad, you literally swipe to turn the “page” and move from one screen to another. It’s a fun way to view social media sites, and there are a variety of other services offered too…recipes, news…you can build your own Flipboard based on the accounts you add and, best of all, the app is free.

I have to say, given my choice of entertainment options, reading wins every time. You always learn something new, and the variety is endless. I never know where I’ll end up when I read. Something catches my eye, stirs my curiosity. One sentence leads to another, and suddenly I’ve discovered a whole new world. Or some obscure tidbit of knowledge. Either way, the fun is in the hunt, and in the range of discovery. And the vehicle for reading doesn’t matter…books, magazines, digital, paper…I can get lost in a Williams-Sonoma catalog, or immerse myself in theology; spend a few minutes reading about the latest technology, or become absorbed in ancient wisdom of philosophers. Reading is a gift of my childhood. Growing up in Asia in the 60s and early 70s, tv was not an option. Reading was the default pass time, and that has served me well. So glad I didn’t have a tv as a young kid. I might have really missed out!

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