Getting Off the Muddy Path

I recently had a dream where I was running a race. The course was muddy, and we were running uphill. There was a pack of runners ahead of me and I was in the middle of the second pack, eating the dirt kicked back at me. A car was driving up the course to the left of us and spitting mud all over the runners. I remember thinking to myself, in this dream, that I needed to get off this muddy race track and take that other path up the hill where the cars won’t be. So I did and it was a much more pleasant run. The hill and the race were still hard, but I knew I had made the right choice.

Today I am excited to move forward with Information Out Loud as a fully independent information professional venture. I have flirted with this idea off and on for a decade. I’ve worked at it part time and no time. I’ve been running in the mud long enough and ready to break from the pack and take my own path to success.

Why now? I have lots of reasons – some personal, some professional, some based on careful consideration and some on my gut. The summer is beautiful here in Virginia and I have a lovely view from my home office. I’m off the hamster wheel of commuting and the daily grind of a 9-5. I need the challenge to my brain and my psyche.

In any event, I know I want to take this shot. I have the skills, experience, and drive to turn a professional career of research, information management, and knowledge into a successful and rewarding life.

Please reach out to me if you have questions or needs and you think I can help. See the About and Services pages on this site to get a sense of what I do. Then let’s connect so we can chat about how my skills can bring value to your business and make your clients happy, impressed, and successful.

The AIIP Conference Experience

Recently I attended the AIIP annual conference in Pittsburgh, PA.  It was my first time at this conference but it won’t be my last.  The Association of Independent Information Professionals support people like me who provide information services to businesses.

I went solo, not knowing anyone at the conference, packing all my introverted anxieties into a single carry on that barely fit in the overhead bin.  At the airport, I met another conference goer and we shared an UberX to the hotel.  She was a well seasoned independent infopro and immediately made me feel at ease, welcome, and included.  She set the tone for the weekend for me.

My five takeaways from the conference:

  1. Support.  The level of support from AIIP is amazing, if you want to take advantage of it.  They provide partnerships with information vendors and database providers so I can provide better research to my clients.  They answer questions for solopreneurs and provide an outlet for figuring out what’s next for my business.
  2. Networking.  Associating with like minded people gathered for a weekend to discuss the ups and downs, ins and outs of the information business was worth the price of admission.  I met first timers like me, long time professionals with experience and a history of running successful information businesses.  My LinkedIn account hasn’t seen this much new traffic in a long time!
  3. Education.  The programming of the conference was geared to both first timers like me, as well as seasoned business owners looking for a new edge.  Discussions were about partnerships, collaboration, client management, new tools, and finances for consultants.  I learned a lot about the process of being an independent information professional.
  4. Community.  Friendships were forged during the down-time at lunches and dinners and social events.  Opportunities to relate to each other as regular people were outstanding.  I’ve never felt so comfortable talking to so many new people than I did at this meeting.
  5. Confidence.  Individuals offering their stories and business tales of successes and lessons learned instilled in me a new level of confidence that I hope to translate into a better and more confident Information Out Loud.

All in all, it was a wonderful conference and I look forward to sharing my successes at next  year’s AIIP conference in New Orleans!

 

 

Background Check

 

One of the most frequent requests that I am asked is to do a background check to track down people and addresses.  Over the years, I’ve come to rely on a few good sources, but I recently decided to branch out and take a look at other services.

One that I have found and like is KnowX, a LexisNexis company.  http://www.knowx.com

KnowX is the place to start for finding information about businesses, people and assets, and can help you discover any critical relationships between them. Run a background check on a business, locate assets, investigate property value and more using public records from across the nation compiled from official data sources.

KnowX provides some searches for free, some for a fee, and offers subscription models as well.  I recently had a list of people who my client needed to locate current addresses for.  Searches on KnowX found probable hits, but the cost to view the full records was $2.95 per name.  To be more cost effective, I purchased a 24 hour unlimited pass for the ultimate people finder at $19.95.  I was able to look at almost 100 addresses in my research.  The option to follow leads that might not look promising at the first level without having to think about the cost per address was great for my research and a bargain for my client.

Public records research can be time consuming and tedious.  A service like KnowX that collects and organizes documents from all over the country including real estate records, professional licenses, court documents, and more is a valuable tool for any background check research.

If you have any research needs that involve background checks, contact me and I can help you find accurate information at a cost effective rate.

3 Search Engines that are not Google

Need three quick search engines to break out of the Google habit? Try these:

Wolfram Alpha – a computational engine that will give you historic weather data, compare chemical properties, or compute scientific calculations.

DuckDuckGo – Worried about privacy? DuckDuckGo is a search engine that will not track your searches and the results are surprisingly accurate and fast.

Biznar – search the deep and invisible web for business related results.

Which Books Do You Read?

Information is Beautiful on the books everyone must read:

Which books should everyone read? Information is Beautiful’s David McCandless shows how graphics have the answer

Do Top 100 Books polls and charts agree on a set of classics?  I scraped
the results of over 15 notable book polls, readers surveys and top 100’s. Both popular and high-brow. They included all Pulitzer Prize winners, Desert Island Discs choices from recent years, Oprah’s Bookclub list, and, of course, The Guardian’s Top 100 Books of All Time. A  simple frequency analysis on the gathered titles gives us a neat ‘consensus cloud’ visualisation of the most mentioned books titles across the polls. Do you agree with the consensus?

Check the data and analysis here: bit.ly/BooksEveryone

Research: David McCandless & Miriam Quick
Additional Design: Matt Hancock

Inspirer in Chief

Monday, February 21 is President’s Day.  Here are some thoughts and inspiration for today.

“The human mind is our fundamental resource.”  —  John F. Kennedy

“I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” — George Washington

“I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study paintings, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain. ”  — John Adams

“I cannot live without books. ”  —  Thomas Jefferson

“One man with courage makes a majority.” — Andrew Jackson

“The right of resisting oppression is a natural right.” — Andrew Jackson

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing. ”  — Theodore Roosevelt

“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, “Certainly, I can!”  Then get busy and find out how to do it.”
— Theodore Roosevelt

I found these quotes at Great Presidential Quotes.

Visual Map of the US Budget

Are you a visual learner?  You may benefit from this NY Times infographic of President Obama’s 2012 Budget Proposal.  $3.7 trillion never looked so good!  You can zoom in and explore different agencies and see where your money is being spent.  Rectangles are sized by proposed spending and colors indicate percent change from previous year. Darker red rectangles represent bigger drops from the 2011 budget and darker green greater increases.

E-Reader Sales Expectations

Yankee Group‘s latest forecast predicts global e-reader sales revenue will grow from just $1.9 billion in 2010 to $8.2 billion in 2014, while unit sales will rise from just under 11 million in 2010 to nearly 72 million in 2014.

The forecast also predicts:

  • Worldwide installed base of e-readers will double each year.The installed base will grow at a CAGR of over 100 percent, from 12 million in 2010 to 127 million in 2014.
  • Europeans will snap up e-readers. The installed base of e-readers in Europe will grow at a CAGR of 143 percent from 2010 to 2014. The installed base of smartphones will grow at only 19 percent over the same period.
  • The average price tag for e-readers will fall. By 2014, the average retail price for an e-reader device will be $114, down from an average of $182 in 2010.
  • E-reader sales will generate more revenue in Asia-Pacific than in North America by 2014. In 2010, North America accounted for 57 percent of all e-reader sales revenue, while Asia-Pacific garnered only 34 percent. By 2014, Asia-Pacific will account for 49 percent of all e-reader sales revenue, while North America will account for only 39 percent.

Do you need market trend reports and data to help you succeed in business?  Contact  Tim for research help.

The Learning Effects of Monitoring

From the Working Knowledge blog at Harvard Business School, a recent working paper investigates the relationship between monitoring, decision making, and learning among lower-level employees.

Executive Summary:
It’s a challenge that all good managers face: How do you strike the right balance between encouraging autonomy among your employees and mitigating the risk that they’ll make bad decisions? Using both field and quantitative data from the MGM-Mirage Group, this paper discusses how management controls affect the learning rates of lower-level employees. Research, focusing on hotel casino hosts, was conducted by Dennis Campbell and Francisco de Asís Martinez-Jerez of Harvard Business School and Marc Epstein of Rice University. Key concepts include:

  • Tightly monitored employees were less likely to make independent decisions, even if their job descriptions allowed them to do so. They were even less likely to adjust their decisions to account for information they could easily show to their superiors to justify those decisions.
  • The lower frequency of experimentation in their decision-making leaves employees in tightly monitored environments with few opportunities to learn. The researchers question whether employees in these micromanaged environments made up for the lack of experimentation by paying more attention to and learning more from each experiment.
  • The researchers found strong learning effects among employees in settings where they were monitored by their bosses somewhat loosely. In settings where they were more tightly monitored, employees learned very little.

Download the full paper from the website. [this link is to a .pdf file.]

 

(Thanks to DocuTicker for bringing this to my attention).

53% of Adults Use Wikipedia

Pew Research reports that more than half of all adults on the Internet use Wikipedia to find information.   This is a great resource to check on trivia, dates, and quick facts.  But when you are looking for authoritative, in-depth, well-researched information it may not be a good idea to go to Wikipedia for answers.  It is best to turn to a trained professional who can search hundreds of commercial databases and online indexes, as well as find the perfect print resource (i.e. a book) or person to whom you can have a conversation about your business information needs.

Information Outloud is that resource.  I can take your information conundrum and find factual, authoritatve, supported research and provide you with an answer or a direction to solving problems.  Contact me and let me show you.