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5 Reasons Science Says You Seriously Need to Take a Break

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I am about to hit the road with one of my oldest friends for a weekend away from the rest of the world.

We do this every year…with varied results. Sometimes we have an amazing time relaxing. Other times, we push each other to the brink as only lifelong friends can. Mostly, it’s a combination of the two. And I need it.

For these couple days each year, I am no one’s wife or mother or employee. I am just me, rewinding to when I was 18 and wanted to be a writer, just as I was when my friend and I first met.

Life becomes simple, and when the weekend ends, I feel recharged, refreshed and re-inspired.

Do you take planned breaks in the action like this? Research says not as much you should. In America, 54% of all workers did not use all of their allotted vacation days, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Please don’t do that. The scientifically-backed mental and physical benefits of time off can not be underestimated.

Related: 50 Motivational Quotes From Disruptive, Trailblazing, Inspiring Women

You don’t have to go far or spend a lot of money to experience those benefits. Here are some simple ways to create your own little retreat and get your groove back.

1. Read something for fun

You must escape your world and enter another one to really get outside yourself. I am mainly a fan of business books and biographies, so this time of year I need to read fiction. Reading just for fun is, well, fun, but it also gives your brain power a boost. Researchers at Stanford examined people’s brain activity while reading Jane Austen and found increased blood flow to the regions of the subjects’ brains associated with focusing on tasks. We can all use a little workout to strengthen our ability to pay attention to details and get things done, right?

2. Walk it out

Vigorous work outs will strengthen your body, and leisurely strolls will strengthen your ability to chill. It is hard to be distracted by problems plaguing you back in the office when you’re distracted by natural beauty right in front of you. Walks force you to clear your thoughts, and I’ve often found that I come out the other side feeling a little more fit and a lot more calm.

Related: Best Advice For Entrepreneurial Women

3. Cook a meal

Sure, we eat out a bunch when I’m on these weekends away, but some of the best meals my friend and I have had involved chopping simple ingredients and pouring wine right there in our kitchen. I am no chef, so I’m talking about spaghetti, jarred sauce and pre-made garlic bread. But still, there is a nice simplicity to making something myself with no rush and good music playing in the back ground. And bonus, cooking and eating meals at home can improve your health overall, according to the CDC.

4. Go offline

This will be a new one this year. No email or social media for three days. I will have my phone so people can text in an emergency, but that’s it. Instead of trying to capture memories on Instagram, I want to be present to take some pictures in my head. The National Health Service in the UK found that people who take a week off of Facebook showed more overall satisfaction with their lives. And who couldn’t use a little more of that?

Related: 12 Habits to Dramatically Improve Your Sleep

5. Don’t do anything

I would tell you to try meditation like me, but I can’t calm down enough to do it myself. This is a helpful guide — maybe you’ll have better luck. (I’m trying, really!) And trying really is the point. Taking a quiet moment or two to just breathe forces you to stop thinking about the bills or all the work coming in the months ahead. It’s brief, but those two minutes of mental vacation can make all the difference for me.

So as the summer winds down, you don’t have to head off to the South of France, but you do need to get out of your own head. I’m going away with one of my best friends in the world — what will you do? Make sure you take some time to reset and refresh, and when Monday comes, you’ll be ready to restart.

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How to Stay Calm Under Pressure

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He started playing poker at 18 and was winning championships by his early twenties. Despite millions in winnings, world recognition and playing at the high roller tournaments, Fedor Holz is leaving professional poker at age 24.

He’s focusing his energy on creating easy-to-access training on high performance mindset tactics. And I was fascinated to learn why.

When I met Fedor a few weeks ago, he had just finished in the top rankings of a huge high roller tournament in Vegas. But instead of talking about poker, we mostly talked about how he stays grounded when so much is at stake. We also discussed how he learned to honor his decisions, even when they turned out to cost him a game.

I loved getting Fedor’s perspective on what it takes to become great at a specific skill, but he was also honest about what it costs. I was especially interested in what he said about the skill of removing emotion from actions and how that can turn out badly in the rest of a person’s life.

Whether you’re interested in poker or not, you’ll learn valuable insights about performing at a high level in anything in Episode 544.

Subscribe on iTunesStitcher RadioGoogle Play or TuneIn.

This story originally appeared on Lewis Howes

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Why Kicking Out Counterfeit Crooks on Instagram Is So Important

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Would you spend over a thousand dollars on a pair of sneakers? There are plenty who would — a pair of Adidas Yeezy’s comes with a price tag of $1,000 or more. For those who are less flush, the market has become flooded with knock-off fakes. These are promoted via comments and sponsored ads on sites like Facebook and Instagram.

When Kanye West tweeted “you probably got bootleg Yeezy’s on right now,” followers responded in typical Twitter fashion, with a torrent of abuse from all angles, but when it came to real brand loyalty, sneakerheads were split. Die-hard fans rebuked the fakes, though others have been tempted by prices as low as $99.

A year later, these social commerce scams are running riot online, fueled by social bots and a growing underground counterfeit economy, hijacking brand advertising efforts. Andrea Stroppa’s “Social media and luxury goods counterfeit investigation revealed that 20 percent of Instagram posts for luxury brands feature counterfeit or illicit products.

At BrandBastion, we conducted an investigation into Instagram counterfeiters to examine the risks brands face on social media and what they can do to fight it.

Social media’s safe harbor for organized crime.

The luxury online retail market is estimated to reach $41.88 billion by 2019, according to Bain & Company. It’s impressive, but just a fraction of the booming business of the $461 billion global counterfeit goods market funding large-scale criminal operations. Stroppa’s investigation explains how exploitative practices force women and children to work in inhumane conditions, in turn powering illegal gangs, dictatorships and global terrorism.

Related: Evolve or Die: Luxury Brands Must Embrace Digital To Thrive

Organized crime has entered the digital realm, with counterfeit trade visible on the most popular ecommerce platforms and social media streams. These operations are largely based in China, Russia, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Ukraine, though technology allows them to target global audiences.

In the U.S., the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) mandates that so long as platforms have an effective takedown system, they are not liable, putting pressure on brands to protect themselves. Until now, this has mainly impacted selling tools such as eBay, Alibaba and commerce-friendly social network WeChat, to the detriment of luxury brands like Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton and Gucci. But digitally-savvy fake sellers have graduated from basic host services like eBay, finding global reach and big profits as commerce takes off on social media. Complete with new mobile-oriented features like Instagram’s Shop Now and Buy buttons, these networks are becoming serious selling tools for counterfeit criminals.

As online sellers invest in social growth tactics, the frauds are hot on their heels, armed with ad campaigns and bots, retargeting their users and flooding sites with illegal goods. This social media safe harbor creates a playground for fraudsters using aggressive tactics, even hijacking a brand’s own social media posts or ads to target audiences with counterfeit copies.

The Instagram comments scam.

BrandBastion examined a sample of 36,000 comments from the Instagram posts of 12 top luxury brands — Salvatore Ferragamo, Manolo Blahnik, Marni, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Fendi, Jimmy Choo, Burberry, Balmain, Versace and Dior — with a combined reach of more than 62 million followers.

One in 18 comments included a serious threat for brands. Major dangers included 729 (2.03 percent) comments leading to direct counterfeiting from some 94 counterfeit sellers; 1,013 comments (2.81 percent) contained spam and scams; and 208 (0.58 percent) had brand attacks from avid activists, at times launching brand boycotts. Some retailers fared worse than others; 8.27 percent of Saint Laurent comments contained a brand threat. On the other end of the scale, Dior had 3.37 percent brand threats, though with a significantly larger following and greater posting activity.

Related: U.S. Shuts Down Huge Online Dark Web Market, AlphaBay

Counterfeiters borrow images scraped from online searches, newly embed fresh information to appear unchanged, and, armed with purchased fake followers, they often appear legitimate. Fraudulent accounts post comments such as “Check out my page Got All Designer” along with contact details, such as instant messenger chat IDs, enabling encrypted conversations with so-called “salespeople.” The OECD reported that sellers post these goods via complex routes, preying on transit hotspots from “countries with weak governance and widespread organized crime such as Afghanistan and Syria.”

Fighting fire with fire.

Instagram is cracking down on fake accounts, purging millions of spam and bot accounts and using proactive tools such as spam detectors and blocking systems. But by cloning and replicating content, fresh accounts pop up every day. This proliferation of content keeps moderators busy in a cat-and-mouse chase. Meanwhile, the responsibility of tackling new social media fraudsters largely rests on law enforcement agencies, brands and innovative technologies.

A digital ecosystem to target counterfeit sellers is in early stages. Informal name-and-shame accounts on Instagram, such as @fake_education and @yeezybusta reveal identified fake sellers. Online community forums like Scamadviser, Realscam and Scamwarners allow both retailers and consumers to name and shame known offending domains. Flipping community activism on its head, third-party services and blockchain technologies, such as startup Blockverify using the bitcoin currency infrastructure, also verify goods and track sales.

The downside is that lack of formal regulation facilitates a free-for-all of independent forums and competing businesses. Moreover, uneducated consumers are often not deterred by fake labels and are unaware of real threats from criminal operations. One in four consumers report purchasing counterfeit products online —  and these forums can even aid their search for fake products.

Brand managers need to be able to monitor new social media accounts using keywords, images, handles (or account names) and trending hashtags to uncover brand violations. New accounts often have similar names, posting behaviors and messages, and third-party forums also provide new leads. It’s important that brands also have community moderation checks in place when it comes to their own content and community engagement, to ensure that sellers aren’t getting a free ride through hacking their own ads and posts.

Related: Lax Online Security Can Destory Your Brand Overnight

As fake sellers adopt new technology to mimic and automate brand posting behaviors, artificially-intelligent moderation tools help businesses to uncover the crooks. It’s a battle of the bots, cross-referencing masses of data and identifying trends in order to uncover new threats and scams.

Counterfeiters that have traditionally focused on luxury brands are branching out to all industries. While footwear is the most frequently copied, fraudsters plagiarize anything from high-fashion handbags to popular wines, automotive parts, chemicals, medication and even fresh fruit. With brands like Adidas, Louis Vuitton and Chanel fighting fakes and launching high-profile courtroom disputes, it draws attention to the crisis. Declaring war on this criminal activity, intelligent technology and anti-counterfeit partnerships seek to take control, cleaning up social media and kicking out those counterfeit crooks. It’s a new wave of rebellion against organized crime masquerading as luxury produce and trusted household goods.

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6 Fatal B2B Sales Mistakes You Must Avoid

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B2B sales can be incredibly rewarding and lucrative — if you know what you’re doing. Unfortunately, most salespeople in this field make the same few mistakes again and again. When everyone around you is making the same missteps and blunders with B2B selling, it can be extremely difficult to know how to fix your approach.

If you’re looking to overhaul your strategy for B2B sales so you can start to crush your competition, it’s time to start actively avoiding the most common B2B sales mistakes out there today. Here are the six fatal B2B sales mistakes you’re probably making:

1. Selling to low-level buyers.

It may be easier to get in front of buyers and purchasing managers than C-suite prospects, since you never have to deal with a gatekeeper in order to reach them. But those low-level buyers don’t have the power — or the budget — to tell you “yes.” In fact, they’re only really good at telling salespeople “no.” You won’t make money selling to low-level buyers in B2B sales, so make a commitment to seek out high-level decision makers who can actually say “yes” to what you have to offer their businesses.

Related: Want to Make Your First Sale? These Entrepreneurs Share How They Did It.

2. Highlighting your product’s features and benefits.

There was a time when prospects cared about the features and benefits of your product. But they simply don’t anymore. Prospects today only care about the results and outcomes you can create in their world. More specifically, they want to know how you can solve their key challenges and deepest frustrations. Instead of highlighting your product’s features and benefits when selling to businesses, focus on specific outcomes your product or service can help your prospects achieve.

3. Giving proposals with only one option.

One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make in B2B sales is putting together single-option proposals. There are two major problems with these proposals. First, they don’t provide any context, which compels prospects to shop around to determine the value of your solution. Second, customers who really want to invest in a premium option will be limited to a lower-tier solution. Instead, provide a three-option proposal — ranging from the lowest end option that will still solve their problem to a higher end option with the most value — to boost your average sale size and the number of deals you close.

Related: 7 Tips for Getting More Sales Meetings With Prospects

4. Relying solely on the phone and internet.

There’s been a big movement in B2B sales towards selling online and on the phone. In some cases, this can be efficient and helpful, but if you’re selling an expensive, high-end product or service that requires a serious investment, you simply can’t skip out on meeting face to face. Hop on a plane if that’s what it takes to sit across from a valuable prospect. You’ll increase your close rate many times over, and being able to close big deals at huge companies is well worth the cost of travel.

5. Failing to clarify your value proposition.

Every time a B2B prospect asks what exactly it is that you do, you should have a quick and rehearsed response that succinctly describes the value you create. Clarify, script out, and memorize your value proposition. This is the only part of your sales presentation you have to memorize, so there’s really no excuse for hazy, rambling answers to this question.

6. Rushing to offer deals and discounts.

Low prices only attract bad prospects in B2B sales. Your ideal customer cares about value, not price, so quit offering deals and discounts. It only lowers your value in the eyes of your prospects. Instead, focus on the value you create, and be proud to offer the premium solution on the market. This attitude will attract the type of customer who values you for years to come.

Related: 6 Strategies for Avoiding the ‘Race to the Bottom’ Price War You Don’t Want to Win 

Which of these mistakes have you been making in B2B sales? How will you correct your mistakes and start crushing your sales goals? Check out this free Ultimate 3-Step Prospecting Call Template for more powerful sales advice.

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