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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Transforming Stress, Unexpected Change and Uncertainty into New Opportunities: Interview with Elaine Bontempi, Ph.D.

The ever-increasing pace of change, combined with new displacing and disruptive technologies that involve digitalization, robotics, widescale automation and more, is requiring everyone to rethink how they live their lives and how they earn a living. In all cases, individuals may feel under pressure, out of control, and fearful.

Welcome to an interview with Dr. Elaine Bontempi, who talks to us today about transforming a stressful situation into one that builds confidence and open doors.  She talks about the psychological and physical costs of doing nothing, and the benefits of developing a plan and a new philosophy. 

1.  What is your name and your background?

Elaine Bontempi, Ph.D.
My name is Elaine Bontempi and I have the following background. My website is here: https://www.drbontempi-coaching.com/

Ph.D.: Educational Psychology
Focus: The role of culture in motivation & learning

M.Ed.: Educational Psychology
Focus: The role of culture in motivation & learning

M.A.: Human Relations
Focus: Multicultural Counseling

B.A.: Health Psychology
Minor in Sociology (Contemporary Social Issues)

•    Over 15 years of experience teaching graduate & undergraduate courses in Psychology, Human Motivation in Learning, Human Motivation in Work & Leadership, Human Learning, Cultural Diversity, Leadership, Contemporary Social Problems, Social Psychology, & Ethics

•    Over 10 years of experience designing, implementing & evaluating educational outreach and training programs for non-profits, Dept. of Education, government institutions and businesses

•    Academic & Life Coaching

2.  What are your areas of expertise, and how did you get interested in them?

My areas of expertise are in Psychology, but in particular, Motivation, Health, & Well-Being.

Specifically:
•    Motivation & psychological well being
•    The role of goals and psychological well-being (not all goals are created equally, and although society really pushes some goals, the pursuit and attainment of certain types of goals actually undermines well-being).
•    Motivation in the workplace
•    At risk teens
•    Eating disorders
•    Overcoming anxiety without medication
•    Stress management
•    Coping with aging and/or terminally ill parents
•    Grief & loss
•    Spirituality and well being

How did I become interested in these topics? I would say that I have always been interested in what makes people tick, so to speak, as well as health, and general well-being. Growing up as an athlete, you learn the importance of goal setting, self-regulation, and motivation. However, these are limited tools because as we grow older, we encounter challenges and life transitions, and many of these are quite uncomfortable as we are stretched outside of our comfort zones. Of course many of these transitions are inevitable and are part of the maturation process. However, even anticipated mile markers can act as barriers to our growth and self-actualization if we lack a healthy mindset, coping skills, and self-regulatory strategies

3.  How do people manage change today? What are some of the negative ways that people cope with change? What are better ways?



Photo by Humphrey Muleba from Pexels

The ways in which people handle stress vary considerably from one person to the next. Each person has a unique set of experiences, coping mechanisms, abilities, and values that all contribute to how one handles stress. In addition to individual differences there are some general group differences that can be seen as well, as a result of cultural norms and gender socialization. 

Some of the negative ways that people cope with change and stress include smoking, drug use/abuse, alcohol use/abuse, compulsive spending, over or under eating, eating unhealthy "comfort" and junk foods, excessive use of sugar and caffeine, sleeping too much or too little, sexual promiscuity, overworking, lashing out at others, and violence.

However, there are definitely healthier ways of handling stress. The first step is identifying the sources of stress in your life, as well as your attributional style. Do you have a tendency to place the blame for your stress on others, do you feel that you have no control over your circumstances, or do you recognize that although you may not be able to control events, you can control your reactions?

There are different approaches to changing the stressful situation--you can either avoid the stressor, or sometimes you can alter the stressor. For example, you can often times avoid a stressor by simply learning how to say "no." Often times, we feel compelled to say "yes" to everything in order to please others, or to avoid looking incompetent or lazy. It is imperative that you learn to recognize your limits and say no to things that will result in too much stress.

If you are unable to avoid a stressor, you may choose to alter the situation. An example of altering the situation might include expressing your feeling in a different manner. For example, rather than bottling up emotions and letting them fester and brew, find a friend or counselor that you can talk to. Or, it may mean changing how you express your emotions, or even regulating your time so that you are less likely to feel stressed out from having too much responsibility and not enough time to accomplish the things you have committed to.

You can also learn to adapt by using healthy stress management techniques, and/or accept the stressor.  Adapting to the situation often means learning how to use emotional regulation strategies for healthier coping, which often times involves changing your interpretation of the event that you perceive as being stressful. Is the stressor really that important or are you putting too much emphasis on something that really, in the long run, doesn't mean much? The old saying, "learn how to pick your battles" may apply here.

 Sometimes you simply have to accept things that you cannot change but find work arounds. Focus on the things you CAN change rather than getting upset about things you cannot control. For example, if you are responsible for the caregiving of a sick child or aging parent, you probably won't be able to change or avoid the stressor. However, you can change your reaction. You will need to accept that your child or parent is ill and needs help, and re-arrange your schedule in order to meet these demands. If you are still responsible for other obligations then it may be necessary to adapt to the stressor by seeking outside help to assist in caregiving, recognize that you as a caregiver, also need to maintain a healthy lifestyle, learn to manage time more efficiently, and never overlook the importance of self-care.

Some of the healthier ways in which people handle stress include:
•    social support networks including family and friends
•    support groups, spirituality and prayer/meditation
•    learning the art of forgiveness
•    spending time in nature
•    getting regular exercise (cardiovascular exercise in particular)
•    eating properly and getting plenty of sleep
•    applying biofeedback
•    practicing yoga
•    spending time with pets
•    writing in your journal
•    working outside in the garden
•    painting/sculpting/drawing
•    dancing
•    playing a musical instrument
•    scheduling time for self-care such as massage/Reiki/ acupuncture
•    practicing mindfulness
•    learning time management
•    accepting there are things you cannot control
•    embracing a positive attitude
•    avoiding too much caffeine
•    avoiding abuse of alcohol, drugs or nicotine
•    seeking counseling, etc.

Certain counseling techniques such as cognitive evaluative therapy might be helpful in thought stopping behaviors and replacing negative thinking with positive thoughts. Behavioral therapy can also helpful in reinforcing positive behaviors and extinguishing negative ones. Exercise can play a very important role in improving anxiety and depression. Especially something as simple as walking daily. Exercise increases the production and release of serotonin and dopamine, both neurotransmitters play an important role in maintaining a healthy and positive mood.

3.  What are some of the major stressors in our world today and how do they change over one's lifespan?


Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile from Pexels

We are facing many stressors in the world today. It seems like our world is shifting so rapidly that people are struggling to keep up with the transitions, and as a result sometimes it seems that the world has gone mad. Climate changes that are causing major shifts in weather patterns, mass immigration and migration, racism, economic uncertainty resulting in layoffs, downsizing, closures and job loss, global migration, political polarization, mass shootings, etc. are just a few of the global stressors.  We are also seeing alarming trends concerning the use of social media and depression/anxiety/suicide. A sociological phenomenon known as “upward social comparison” is wreaking havoc on peoples’ self-worth and self-esteem, as they are comparing themselves to the lives of others represented through reality television and social media. Even though these profiles are considerably altered through selective use of highly edited photos, and the “highlight” reels of one’s life, people are often left feeling deflated and dissatisfied with their own lives when comparing them to the self-marketed profiles of others in Facebook and other social media platforms.

Other stressors are small, daily things such as dealing with traffic and long commutes, office politics, paying bills, screaming children, juggling obligations between work, family, and/or school, etc. These types of stressors don't tend to score big on the "life stressors" chart, but major transitions in life, even if they are perceived as positive, can take a larger toll and undermine well-being.

Major transitions in life include events such as graduation, marriage, birth of a child, changes in career (new job or loss of job), relocation, divorce, empty nest, changes in health, loss of a loved one, natural disasters, war, unhealthy relationships, aging parents, etc. Studies have repeatedly shown that as people grow older, their health declines more rapidly if they do not have a social support system. This is a growing problem as people are living longer, but often more isolated lives. Adult children are often scattered across the globe as job opportunities take them away from the same town as their parents. This is especially common in individualistic cultures such as the United States and western European cultures, that place value on independence and competition rather than on community and harmonious interdependence.  Nursing homes and assisted living centers in the US are filled with aging, forgotten parents.

4.  What are some of the stresses related to taking care with aging parents or relatives?

Photo by Matthias Zomer from Pexels

 Taking care of aging parents or relatives can be a particularly stressful job, as it can leaves one feeling physically and emotionally drained. As parents get older, their physical limitations decrease, thus their need for support increases. Their needs are multi-pronged and may include financial costs associated with healthcare and nutrition, mobility needs (ie, a parent may go from using a cane to a walker, to a wheelchair, and ultimately being bedridden), etc. As their needs increase, the demands placed on the caregiver also rise. Seeing a parent who was once vital and independent regress to a state of dependence can be difficult to watch, and it tends to cause a shifting in the dynamics of the relationship as roles are reversed.

This can seriously tax the physical and emotional reserves of anyone caring for an elderly parent, but when personality changes associated with aging and dementia are also present, it can especially stressful. It may also be particularly stressful on the caregiver if they are trying to juggle their own responsibilities of work, family/relationships, health, etc. In most cases it leaves the person responsible for caregiving feeling emotionally and physically drained, thus one of the most important things for any caregiver to remember is the importance of self-care. If the caregiver overlooks this it can quickly erode both the physical and emotional health of the caregiver. Thus, relying on some of the above mentioned strategies for stress management are imperative. Getting proper nutrition, plenty of sleep and exercise, spending time in prayer/meditation, having a strong support system of one’s own, and learning how to say “no” to increasing demands by sharing the responsibility with other family members or hiring help are very important.

5.  What are support networks?  What happens when people lose their support networks?


PHOTO CREDITS Photo by Tristan Le from Pexels

Support networks refer to the psychological and physical support provided by a social network. Social networks can include close friends and family members, tribal members, social activity/group such as a book club, community support groups, or even a religious community. Social support networks can provide a variety of resources ranging from emotional support, financial assistance, prayer, or help with daily tasks. Those who have high quality or quantity social networks tend to show decreased depression, anxiety, loneliness, drug/alcohol use, and a lower risk of mortality in comparison to those who have low quantity or quality of relationships.

Poor social support has been also linked to cardiovascular disease, lowered immune system, and altered brain function. Although there are individual and group differences, women often have closer support networks due to the differences in how men and women are socialized. While gender roles are changing, women are still more likely to be socialized as nurturers and caregivers, and playing support roles rather than placing emphasis on competition and independence. As a result, women’s health tends to benefit as they grow older as they are much more likely to have a social network for support. Men tend to rely on spouses and children, but if neither are around as they grow older, they are much more vulnerable to the ill effects of having a limited support network.


Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Argentina: Overcoming Debt Challenges and Rebuilding with Infrastructure and Innovation

Of all the countries in the world, perhaps no country more embodies “debt trap” and then “default on sovereign debt” than Argentina. Argentina’s national banks defaulted on their first loan only a few years after independence from Spain in the 1820s when the Minister of Finance obtained loans to pay off war debts. The loans were considered usurious, and the ensuing crisis resulted in a 33 percent devaluation in 1827, and then 68 percent in 1829 (Argentina Country Risk Report, 2019). Unfortunately, these were not to be the only loans that quickly became unmanageable due to high interest rate and impossible terms, and which deeply damaged the Argentine economy.

Later, however, the time from 1850 to 1930 was very prosperous for Argentina, which, thanks to its prosperous agricultural sector, and the infusions of investment capital into infrastructure (railways) and industries. At one point, Argentina was the seventh largest economy in the world, and its inhabitants were the 10th wealthiest.  In addition, the country benefited from being perceived as a safe haven for money and resources fleeing war-torn and newly communist countries in the world.

However, there was a slowdown in the 1930s, inspiring in 1943 a coup d’etat by Juan Perón, whose goal was the empowerment of the poor and working class. Argentina was not invited to the 1944 Bretton Woods conference that established the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank because Argentina had not yet joined the Allies in World War II. In fact, Perón was against joining the group and considered the effort "imperialistic.” Perón was overthrown in a rival coup in 1945. In 1946, he was narrowly elected President. His government was accused of repression.

Argentina finally officially joined the International Monetary Fund in 1956. In the meantime, the Argentine government continued its idealistic utopian socialist transformation through modernization approach which so typified the first half of the century in rebuilding nations. There was an emphasis on large infrastructure projects and in state-owned industries that employed many thousands of people in the administration of the nationally owned utilities and social services.  The ensuing deficits led to a need for liquidity, and then the first waves of large loans. Waves of economic problems were accompanied by protests and activism, resulting in repressive governments.


Source: Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provinces_of_Argentina

Economic Decline: In such a situation, economic growth was difficult if not impossible. Between 1975 and 1990 real gross domestic product feel by almost 20 percent, which had a very negative effect on the entire country, but most pronouncedly on manufacturing, which entered into continuous decline in the 1970s. The government attempted to level the playing field by creating a wall of tariffs and by instituting protectionist policies. Instead of incubating the domestic companies, the result was a lack of investment, a loss of competitiveness, and finally a loss of markets.  Argentina, which was once known for the high quality of its manufactured goods, began to shutter factories as they could no longer stay open, even when heavily subsidized.

Almost every decade has been marked by a dramatic economic crisis, often marked by devaluation, hyperinflation, a default in national debt, with corresponding erosion of credit-worthiness.
As of September 2019, Argentina's external debt stood at around $101 billion (The Times, 2019). The currency has been devalued again, resulting in an exchange rate of $US 1 to 56 Argentine pesos, from 25 to one US dollar a little over a year before.

 
What is it like to try to have a business in Argentina during times of devaluation of the currency? What is the impact on the supply chain? 


Argentina has a history of high external debt, and it has been borrowing for infrastructure projects and also to service existing debt.  According to many analysts, Argentina "is almost certain to default on its $100 billion of debt again" (Aldrick, Sept 3, 2019, The Times). South America's second largest economy has been in trouble financially many times since it joined the IMF in 1956.

Specifically, Argentina has been bailed out an astonishing 22 times since 1958 and has defaulted on its  loans nine times since independence in 1816. Slow or reduced payments to investors have been “de rigor” since the 1960s until even September 2019 when the maturity on short-term government loans was extended without negotiation (Sanders 2019).

President Macri's initial strategy involved having Argentina reenter global markets, pay off "vulture funds," and ask the IMF to audit funds (with the idea of more loans).  He also tried to balance the budget by increasing the amount paid to the government for services (utilities, etc.), and to restrict the flow of capital out of the country. The resulting devaluations made Mr. Macri extremely unpopular, and his loss in the primary elections further weakened confidence in a challenged economy.  The goal in early September 2019 was to refinance the debt. However, the country remains deeply divided between Macri's reformist party and the socialist / populist party (Kirchner, etc.) which has been accused of corruption and mismanagement (Argentina Country Risk Report, 2019).

What happens when the IMF requires the country to service its debt?  Usually there is an austerity plan with the goal of a balanced budget (prioritizing paying off debt). However, IMF austerity plans in Argentina have an unhappy history.  What has happened in Argentina is a devaluation of the peso, lack of buying power, poverty, lack of capital investment, and labor insecurity.  The country falls to an even lower level of productivity, due to uncompetitive products, falling productive capacity, obsolete and inefficient factories, lower level of human capital (due to lower social and education services (Mariza, 2019)), falling levels of confidence, and widespread financial institutional instability. But, faced with few options, the country tends to accept "loans of last resort" in order to service debt and avoid wholesale seizure of assets (Koch & Perreault, 2019).

Infrastructure Leveraged for Economic Growth:  Investing in infrastructure and marketing support for innovative products offers an alternative.  First, productivity must improve in the short run. There are a few ways to do so, which include conducting bid rounds in order to develop mineral and petroleum resources.

While it can be argued that the country often receives insufficient proceeds for licensing multinational companies to develop mines and oil fields, this is often the best approach in the short run. Indeed, this is an approach that Argentina has used, with success.  They have attracted investment in the Vaca Muerta shales, and five separate provinces are currently seeking investment in order to develop their oil and gas. In a recent international oil and gas congress (AAPG's International Conference and Exposition), executives from ExxonMobil, Equinor, Shell, and others were unified in their message that they were increasing their investment in Argentina and would continue to do so if the government could assure positive conditions. They also suggested maintaining Argentina's policy of maintaining a posted minimum price of $75 per barrel of oil, which de-risks the investment a great deal.

Second, boosting agricultural production in order to increase exports and facilitate import substitution is a possible strategy. However, years of neglect in the infrastructure have made transportation, processing, and warehousing difficult (Berlinski, 2019). Supply chain coordination is lacking, and so the fail-safes and protections that could be implemented to help de-risk the enterprise and protect against extreme weather, harsh conditions, and the need to store and hedge, are not possible.

A third strategy has to do with creating a global platform for Argentine innovation. The "Silicon Pampas" can develop new products to license, including such innovations as new systems for intelligent oil and gas operations. In fact, Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales (YPF) has created a spin-off company, YPF Tecnología (https://y-tec.com.ar/Paginas/home.aspx), which invests in start-up and mid-development products. New technology and innovations include innovative pumps, control systems, smart operations systems, and more. Intellectual property has been protected by means of patents. In addition to technologies used in drilling, completing and producing oil and gas, Y-TEC has developed alternative energy solutions, new process for processing and purifying contaminated water, and new approaches for developing monitoring systems using satellite and remote sensing for better management of the arid, fragile environment where many of Argentina’s oil and minerals are found.

The strategy is not without its own difficulties. Devaluation and inflation, along with protectionist policies regarding imports (extremely high duties) make it difficult to import the raw materials and equipment needed for the startups, and it becomes necessary to obtain painfully complicated licenses and exceptions.

Loans for Infrastructure:  Many of Argentina's loans have been for infrastructure, and in fact the so-called "vulture loans" (ones where the loaning entity refused to renegotiate or restructure, thus requiring Argentina to repay the entire principle and interest, often at a high rate of interest), have been for infrastructure. 

Unfortunately, there has been a long history of problems with loans for infrastructure projects; first, the interest rates can be very high, and second, there can be cost over-runs and excesses; third, additional affiliated fees, permits, and licenses can slow development.  The World Bank currently has a number of infrastructure projects in Argentina on the books:

Selected Examples of 
World Bank Projects and 
Operations for Argentina   
                                                                 Total Cost           World Bank Commitment   Approved
Northwestern Road Development
Corridor Project                                       $US 311.00 million      US$ 300.00 million    2017

Metropolitan Buenos Aires Urban
Transformation                                        $US 125.00 million      $US 100.00 million    2019

Salado Integrated River Basin
 Management Support Project                 $US 375.00 million     $US 300.00 million    2017

Argentina Renewable Energy
for Rural Areas Project                             $US 240.09 million    $US 200.00 million    2015

Matanza-Riachuelo Basin Sustainable
Development Project (Sewers in BA)        $US 1000.00 million    $US 840.00 million    2009

Urban Transport in Metropolitan Areas     $US 187.60 million    $US 150.00 million    2009

Argentina First Inclusive Growth
Programmatic
Development Policy Financing                 $US 500.00 million    $US 500.00 million    2018
           
(The World Bank, 2019. http://projects.worldbank.org/)           

Challenges:  It is very difficult to keep politics out of economic development, and so some of the investments may be more politically expedient than truly productive in terms of economic development.

An often failed strategy has been privatization of the long-condemned as inefficient, state-run monopolies (utilities, etc.).  However, while privatization did have the effect of reducing the country's overhead, many of the state-run monopolies eventually can run the risk of becoming de facto private monopolies (or oligopolies).

Laws designed to protect workers are sometimes circumvented because they carry with them high taxes and severe penalties for letting a person from their job. As a result, an underground labor market has begun to supplant the formal labor supply. Much work is done off the books and consists of short-term employment. Not only do the employees not receive the benefits of a regular employee, they have no assurance of regular employment, and the pay tends to be much lower.

Conclusion
Recovery Plan: A recovery plan can leverage infrastructure projects and combine them with innovation (new technologies and communication), supply chain improvements, and productive linkages with local and international markets.

Now that there are certain sectors of the population that are facing food insecurity, and there are serious issues of hunger, an economic recovery plan will need to incorporate provision of nutrition and basic health coverage for the vulnerable (children and elderly), as well as nutritious meals for the workers.

A recovery plan should include the following items:
1.  Improved infrastructure, beginning with roads and sustainable electricity.
2.  Coordination between production (agriculture and extractive) and needed infrastructure.
3.  Targeted innovation and new technology developing in conjunction with infrastructure and production (agriculture, smart operations, mining, oil and gas, medicine, tourism, pharmaceuticals, marketing).
4.  Collaboration and partnering with global marketing networks for developing short-term and long-term markets for products and services.
5.  Private-Public Partnerships to help develop infrastructure, but in a way that protects workers and markets, and generates local employment (avoid importing all the workers, etc.).
6.  Restabilization of the financial sector, in order to attract investment as a "safe haven" investment, which may need development of cryptocurrencies.
7.  Innovation in supply chain operations, and the use of blockchain for assuring integrity, source, supply.
8.  Leverage the geographical position of the Tierra del Fuego, etc. to develop high-tech surveillance, monitoring, and strategic operations, in conjunction with allies.

Once the key elements of a recovery plan have been identified, steps can be taken to build out a critical path and a workflow. Using as many new techniques from supply chain management and risk management can be quite helpful.  In addition, it is useful to develop probabilistic models that can help one simulate the outcomes of different scenarios and then develop plans. 

References
£83 billion towering debt pile crippling Argentina’s economy. (2019, August 31). Daily Mail, p. 105. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.ou.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=n5h&AN=138348395&site=ehost-live

Argentina Country Risk Report. (2019). Argentina Country Risk Report (pp. 1–59). Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.dbproxy.tamut.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=137086139&site=eds-live

Berlinski, N. (March 19, 2019). Roads to prosperity. Fixing Argentina's crooked architecture. Prosper: Notes on the Future of Development from CSIS. https://csisprosper.com/2019/03/19/roads-to-prosperity-fixing-argentinas-crooked-infrastructure/

Country Reports - Argentina. (2019). Argentina Country Monitor (pp. 1–59). Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.dbproxy.tamut.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=133895584&site=eds-live

Koch, N., & Perreault, T. (2019). Resource nationalism. Progress in Human Geography, 43(4), 611–631. https://doi-org.dbproxy.tamut.edu/10.1177/0309132518781497

Mariza, Nazla. (August 19, 2019). The future of low-skilled manufacturing labor in Industry 4.0. Prosper: Notes on the Future of Development from CSIS. https://csisprosper.com/2019/08/19/the-future-of-low-skilled-manufacturing-labor-in-industry-4-0/

Mexico Infrastructure Report. (2019). Mexico Infrastructure Report, (3), 1–60. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.dbproxy.tamut.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=137341628&site=eds-live

Sanders, P. (2019). Argentina Seeks to Extend Debt Maturities as Reserves Tumble. Bloomberg.Com, N.PAG. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.ou.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bsh&AN=138321238&site=ehost-live

The World Bank (2019) World Bank project. The World Bank, 2019. http://projects.worldbank.org/)

Friday, August 09, 2019

Beyond TurnItIn.com: Interview with Serhii Tkachenko from UNICHECK

Many educators are familiar with the phenomenon of plagiarism as a form of dishonesty in the classroom. Plagiarism is wrong for many reasons, but eventually it is the cheating person who is ultimately negatively affected. Using this unfair method in your study will lead to a lack of knowledge and blindspots in qualification.

We caught up with Serhii Tkachenko, CEO at UniCheck, to talk about the role of technology in education and how his team is transforming the quality of education in the world.

Serhii Tkachenko, UniCheck
Susan: What is your background?

Serhii: My career path has been evolving in a multi-faceted way: I have worked as Head of Sales Department, Partnership Manager and Business Development Manager. This diverse experience gave me the exceptional knack for managing a multidisciplinary and challenging project. I am passionate about innovation and quality of education and my aim is to help people become well-educated and successful.

Susan: What is Unicheck?

Serhii: Unicheck creates innovations in the area of plagiarism detection services, authorship verification, and checking of source code for plagiarism. We offer cloud-based plagiarism detection software with advanced functionality to education institutions.

Our work is based on a deep understanding of our users’ needs - manual tasks such as checking the sources in an academic work are meticulous and time-consuming. By providing an automated solution for these routine tasks our tool allows students and teachers to focus on the priorities of the educational process.

Unicheck is integrated in all major LMSs which makes the usage experience smooth and convenient both for students and educators.




Susan: What makes Unicheck different and better than other plagiarism detectors?

Serhii: We develop a community-driven product and our team is always open to our partners’ comments and queries. We listen to our clients’ needs and implement new features that would cater to them.

Our competitors provide results for a submitted paper in 24 hours which is excessively long in the days when information spreads immediately. Unicheck offers a comprehensive similarity report in just four seconds per page.

Unicheck is cloud-based so it provides users with system updates on the go. Any new feature becomes available to our customers once we release it. At Unicheck we strive to comply with all personal data regulations, that's why we have moved to the Amazon cloud to process the user data in the regions that are close to client’s physical location.

Unicheck architecture, Amazon Web infrastructure, and support services make our tool the most reliable (99.9% uptime) and scalable cloud-based plagiarism detection software in the industry.

Susan: Who uses Unicheck? Please describe a few successful use cases.

Serhii: Unicheck is used by middle schools starting from 6th grade, high schools, colleges, and universities. More than 1,500,000 students and 100,000 educators from 69 countries worldwide trust Unicheck.

When we think of our client, we always think of people. Our client is not an academic institution but an individual end user: teacher, student, IT specialist integrating our software in a particular school, or a representative of the school administration. We address the needs of the people: we deliver the software that helps students become successful; that helps teachers focus on personalized approach to each student. Talking about an IT specialist, we want to make the process of integration smooth and seamless. Caring about the concerns of an administrator, we make sure that our pricing policy is reasonable.

It is a huge honor and responsibility to create a product that brings change and value to society. I believe Uniсheck is one of those products as it is already elevating the quality of education standards in 1,100 academic institutions globally.

I think the most successful use cases are when our product can actually change the educational process for the better. By helping to detect plagiarism, we encourage the administration to review the internal processes and curriculum. Utilizing our tool, administrators can take data-driven decisions to implement positive changes.

Susan: Are there any "off label" uses or potential uses for Unicheck?

Serhii: Basically, Unicheck can be used by any content writer to ensure correct citing, it helps bloggers and SEO specialists to avoid text plagiarism as well. Some other interesting use cases include looking up for matches in legal documents or product barcodes in retail databases.

Susan: What are your goals with Unicheck?

Serhii: We strive to reduce the overall rate of plagiarism by raising awareness about the problem and providing an efficient solution to fight it. Our mission is to create community-driven software that makes students well educated.

For the last 3 years Unicheck has been growing nearly x3 times - at large, it is thanks to a word-of-mouth communication. Instead of winning customers through strong marketing strategies, we focused mostly on product quality and service excellence.

Susan: Can Unicheck be used to help detect mental illness in student writing?

Serhii: We believe that our technology has the potential to not only raise the level of academic integrity but to address other social issues. For example, our Reseach and Development department is working on an innovation that will help detect traces of racism, sexism, or any other kind of discrimination in the text. Identifying these symptoms will help point out an existing problem.

Susan: Can you recommend a few good books to read?

Serhii: My favorite business books are “Harry Potter” and “Lord of the Rings” :-) They will teach you how to reach your goals and how to treat people in a generous way.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Creative Writing Workshop #2: Uncovering Hidden Realities, with strategies for your workplace writing

In this second of our series of workshops, we explore seeing things an a brand new way. Try out these writing prompts and worksheets, all designed to kick start your creativity and develop "flow."  As an added benefit, you will find that creative writing strategies are highly effective in developing new ideas for scientific, technical, and business problem-solving.

July 16 workshop at the Coffee House at Cherry Street, Tulsa
Pattern Recognition:
Creative writing is a lot like machine learning. The raw data is processed multiple times until patterns form, and those patterns can be assumed to have meaning. The intriguing part of poetry (and all literature) is the interpretive process in which the reader finds patterns and suggests meaning even if / when the author was not conscious of generating them. At the same time, part of the author’s craft involves creating patterns through recurring juxtapositions and repetitions. 

Generate 15 random words. You may use randomwordgenerator.com

Then, look at the 15 random words that you have generated.  Can you make any sense of them?
Arrange the words, then add 15 more words (of your own choice or also randomly generated), but place the new words in a places that make sense.

Examples: 
The Idea of Order at Key West” by Wallace Stevens

How can I use this technique for my work?
Sometimes your message gets lost because you have too many words, especially in the case of proposals, resumes, and web presence. To help you focus on what really matters, select 15 key words. Then, work with them and make them really convey your message.  Remember that less is more. You may wish to let the words stand alone as bullet points that link to pages that have more details.

Repetition:
“There is no meaning without repetition.” – J. Hillis Miller.

The repetition can be something that approaches an incantation (as in the case of Poe’s “The Raven”) or can be a color, symbol, or set of images or characters. For example, a series of characters may appear at different times, and each is a trickster figure.

Try it out! Write a narrative and deliberately incorporate repetitions, then see how each repetition starts to affect that way that one reads and interprets the work.

Examples:
The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
White Noise by Don Delillo

How can I use this technique for my work?

As you write a report, design a report, or create marketing materials, keep in mind the following:

1. Engage your reader / audience quickly with the main idea

2. Make sure your topic sentences in your body paragraphs or pages connect to the main idea

3.  Repeat the main idea, but with each repetition, add a facet to it. (For example, the main idea can be “a great deal”, and then you can elaborate with separate pages / paragraphs on price, efficiency, return on investment, experienced team, track record, etc.)


First workshop / July 9 / Coffee  House at Cherry Street, Tulsa
Minimalist Experiments: Juxtapositions
In the first part of the 20th century, minimalists (influenced by the Futurist Manifesto by Marinetti and others), “outlawed” most poetic devices. They preferred “found art” – the equivalent of the “objets trouvees” somehow bundled together.

The same works for poetry: find everyday words and phrases, and then place them in ways that they suddenly “pop” and reveal something unexpected. In the 1980s, the “Language Poets” took the earlier minimalist fashionings of William Carlos Williams, the Dadaists, and Futurists to unfasten language from its denotative moorings.

Try it out! Select two or three words or concepts and then write a work that includes them several times. Here are a few:  QuikTrip, OXXO, feral cat, ginger smoothie

Examples:
Complete Destruction” by William Carlos Williams
Advent” by Rae Armantrout

How can I use this technique for my work?
Think of how you can put “found objects” together to create something completely new. Here’s “Debris Collage” by Swiss artist Jean Tinguely, in which the title in French "Débricollage" contains a nice play on the words "debris," "collage," and "bricolage"



Débricollage by Jean Tinguely

The goal is to juxtapose or bring together seemingly unrelated ideas or concepts in order to create something completely new, and to encourage people to see things from different perspectives. 
So, be sure to keep your copy spare, use lots of white space, and incorporate useful and thought-provoking images that make your readers want to ask questions.

(check out The Adventures of Tinguely Querer )

Conspiracy, Urban Legend, or a Hidden Truth?
"There is a necessary relation between the fictions by which we order our world and the increasing complexity of what we take to be the 'real' history of that world." Frank Kermode, The Sense of an Ending.

We quell our existential anxiety by means of telling stories, or at least putting a nice, neat beginning, middle, and end on it. Aristotle wrote in Poetics that plots must have a beginning, middle, and end, something that was echoed by the Roman, Horace, who took Aristotle’s ideas even further and insisted on the “unities” of harmony, proportion, and narrative structure.

These highly ordered ideas were revived at a time when the French were making order from chaos with Louis XIV, the Sun King. Nicolas Boileau’s  L’Art Poétique (1674) was a tremendous influence on poetry and drama in both France and England and effectively ushered in Neoclassicism in literature.

The 20th century largely abandoned the early structures, and yet the mind still seeks the “unities,” to the point that the mind will impose them even when they are left unstated or jumbled.  Some authors deliberately leave out parts, and they let the reader fill in the gaps.

Write a quick story that explains something very odd about the town you are living in now, or in which you lived earlier.

How can I use this technique for my work?
Keep in mind that our minds are structured to crave stories, and that is why a compelling story (even if a complete urban legend or conspiracy theory) will appeal to people more than simply a list of facts or statistics, even though technical details are important as evidence to back up your story.

So, include a story in your presentation.

1. Include a story – make it interesting and engaging. Think of your audience as you create the title of your story. “We beat the odds.. “ “The t-shirt that saved a thousand cats, dogs, and parrots.”

2.  Analyze your audience. What are they going to expect, and what are their competing narratives? If you’re dealing with a controversial topic,  you can expect that your audience will have a countering story which they will potentially consider to be the ultimate authority (not yours). So, be sure to refer or accommodate their story.

3. Consider using engaging graphics.



https://www.slideshare.net/beyondutopia/underpaid-royaltiesconv/1

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Creative Writing Workshop #1: Seeing Things in a New Way

Once you've seen a tornado, you never look at a severe storm alert in the same way. Alerts are no longer abstractions - they have the roaring wind, blinding rain, and golf ball-size hail as their concrete objective correlatives.

It's refreshing to be able to see things in a new way, and many times, creative writing strategies can help you alter your perspective.

In a recent workshop that took place at the Coffee House on Cherry Street, a diverse group came together with the goal of building creativity and seeing how we could apply them in every day life. Organized under the auspices of Tulsa Geological Society, AAPG, and Humanities Institute, the workshop emphasized using examples from literature, especially literature that explores the sciences and psychology, to help teach oneself to re-perceive the world around us. 


Changing places:
Think about reversing activities or changing places.  You may wake up one day and find that your self and consciousness are now inhabiting the body of the white German Shepherd you teased as you walked the fenced yard it protected.

Examples: 
Heart of a Dog, by Mikhail Bulgakov
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, by Mark Twain

Write from the perspective of a different person:
Consider yourself to be another person and write as though you were that person. It can be in any form; a dramatic monologue, or simply thoughts.

Examples:
The Book of Disquiet, by Fernando Pessoa
“Cuchulain’s Fight with the Sea” by William Butler Yeats

Disjunctive modifiers:
Vivid descriptions by creating modifiers that clash and do not seem to go together, but they make you see things in a new way.

Examples:
A Route of Evanescence” by Emily Dickinson
Abstentions” by John Ashbery

Mangled Quotes

Find quotes from a person that is more or less famous, and first, respond to it (as though the quote were an introduction) and then modify it for your personal entertainment.

Examples:
Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
   Thou art not so unkind
      As man’s ingratitude;
        William Shakespeare

“Happiness is not an ideal of reason but of imagination” – Immanuel Kant
“No man's knowledge here can go beyond his experience” – John Locke
“He who thinks great thoughts, often makes great errors” – Martin Heidegger

Recommended Books: 
Levin, Lynn, and Valerie Fox (2019) Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets, Vol. 2. Texture Press.

Nash, Susan Smith. (2013) Writing for Human Relations. Texture Press.  (free Kindle version)

 Recommended Energy Leadership MBA (100% online, low tuition options) AACSB Accredited. Information page. Texas A&M University Texarkana.





Sunday, May 12, 2019

Remembering George Economou (1934-2019): The Magic in the Gaps between the Words and Worlds

Today, we take a moment to remember George Economou, poet, literary scholar, and translator, who passed away in early May at the age of 84.  George, who was quite unusual in his broad range of scholarly endeavors (poetry, translation, medieval literature, modernism, and classical Greek), produced a fascinating work, Ananios of Kleitor, which we contemplate here, along with his life.

George Economou
A conversation about Sappho
I’ll never forget a conversation I had with George Economou one evening when I was visiting his wife,  Rochelle Owens, and him in Philadelphia.  I had taken the train that winds its way down the Hudson River from Albany, New York, where I was living and working at Excelsior College. I had just completed a study of Classical Greek and Latin literature and had been immersing myself in Sappho.  It always surprised me that the classicists could fawn over Sappho when all that remained of her manuscripts were very small fragments and scraps.

“How can anyone possible assess the merit of the poetry of disconnected scraps, fragments, partial phrases and words?  And, how do you know which goes with which?  Do any of them actually go together?  Are they from separate pieces of parchment or papyrus?”
George went into a long discussion of how it was possible assess the poetic merit of a work even if all you had were disconnected, disjointed bits of distressed papyrus.

Scraps of papyrus and a rediscovered minor Greek poet
This conversation took place a few years before Ananios of Kleitor was published. He was, I believe, working on it… Ananios of Kleitor was (in theory) an extremely scholarly investigation of long-lost papyri, found by German investigators working in Egypt in the 1930s. The fragments were assembled on the page of the book to represent how the scholar had pieced them back together. In doing so, Economou discusses the life, times, contexts, and accomplishments of an ancient Greek poet, Ananios of Kleitor, with bawdy details as well as technical preoccupations. The poem fragments, when rendered as a full poem, turn out in some cases to be erotic (even pornographic), you would never guess it by looking at the minimalist layout of seemingly random words and letters.  The overall impression reminded on of the early 20th century DaDa and concrete poetry. 

But, back to the question, which George had clearly been considering in-depth for some time: “How do you know what goes in the gaps?  And, how do you know if it’s any good?”

The introduction to Ananios of Kleitor explains just how the gaps (and even intellectual lacunae) are filled; he describes the way that people attach well-known narratives or quotes from anecdotes in the cultural consciousness to a quote. The extreme exigesis reminds one of Borges and Nabokov.

Supposedly, the provenance of the papyri was a German library’s special collection, and one immediately thought of the Vermeers and other classics collected by the Nazis (along with a number of brazen forgeries). The layer upon layer of ontological uncertainty is intriguing for many reasons. I was reminded of the prolific schizophrenic forger of renowned artists’ minor works, and when finally exposed (he made the mistake of forging the same work five or six times, and then gifting them to different museums, not thinking about how they might issue press releases that would make some recognize they had the same gift), he had duped more than 40 museums in the United States. 

George did not go as far as to fabricate papyri or have extensive photographic plates in his book (or on the publisher’s website), but I suppose he could have done so.

Classical Greek, Medieval, and Modernist / Postmodernist mergings
In doing so, Economou gives a living example of the rhizome-type quality of texts (those which appear in on the page and those which remain in what Derrida might call the “trace” of signification).  But, instead of being incredibly obscure, Economou made the abstract deconstructivist notion a living, organic example.

The rhizome has interconnected roots beneath the surface, just as the fragmentary piece of a well-known quote or extract from song, literary work, folklore, or even quotes from drama or film, will trigger what is in the mind(s) of the audience. It is the mechanism behind the dialogical imagination as described by Bakhtin.

And, even as you erase the words between those in a well-known phrase, you leave the “trace” and full erasure is never possible.

Economou, who loved the intertextualities between periods of literature (even when the relationships were antagonistic or appropriative), was extremely rigorous in pointing out all the references and inter-textualities in Dante and Piers Plowman, not just to other works of literature or antecedents, but also to religious and philosophical belief systems. The tension between appropriation and appreciation were always a matter of the political realities of the day. Dante, Boethius, and Rabelais were just a few of those who spent some uncomfortable moments in prison for the various ways they subverted authority. It was interesting to see in Dante, in particularly, how the blend of Greek and Christian personae led to layer after layer of interpretative possibilities (and their subversions and reversals).

Lifework: Translating Piers Plowman
In addition to working with medieval and 20th century texts (which often resituated themselves in the medieval), George was a prolific translator.  In one course I took from him, we examined theories of translation and took “translation” to anything that is transported from one side to another. In doing so, we looked at Lawrence Venuti’s ideas about translation, which could be considered “interpretation” and thus a work of art as viable as the original.  Such was obviously the case in many of the translations of Dante.

Now we live in a world of Google Translate, and I believe there is a privileging of the literal, rather than the artistic or interpretive version. Economou, who was a friend of Louis Zukofsky, pointed to Zukofsky’s homophonic translations of Catullus, which focused only on the sound of the words, and rejected altogether any sense of denotative meaning.

In doing so, Zukofsky forced a return to the actual sound of poetry; the meanings we spontaneously weave from the sounds when they hit our verdant minds.

And, in the gaps in the texts from Ananios of Kleitor, we have a chance to return to what our own minds contribute to the meaning-making process. Those gaps are filled in with projections from our own mental libraries and emotional repositories.

What is fascinating about Ananios of Kleitor is that we see the process of gap-filling, as Economou creates ruptures in the text itself, opens up gaps, lets the reader mull the gaps, filling in from his or her own repositories. Then, the reader is able to see the filling-in process of the author himself, in his notes, findings, inter-textual discoveries, and scholarly detective work. All is a construction, and the suggestion is that both construction and the disruption of meaning are intentional – until they’re not.

I’m very sad that Dr. George Economou passed away. He touched my life in many ways, first as a refugee from the earth sciences who for some odd reason wanted to follow my Bachelor of Science degree with a Master of Arts in English.  Dr. Economou was the chair of my thesis committee, and then when I followed with my Ph.D., he was the chair of my dissertation committee.  More than that, he and Rochelle were deep friends, guides, and inspirations. Dr. Economou placed in my hand the keys to a locked door that, once unlocked, changed my life with an infinitude of tools and texts.

And, deep abiding admiration and friendship. 

Susan Smith Nash
Tulsa, Oklahoma



Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Interview with Raven Howell: Children's Book Writer and Artist

Inspiring children to feel good about themselves, to express their creativity, and to embrace nature are some of the goals of Raven Howell, a children's author who lives and works in the beautiful Hudson Valley of New York.

1.   What is your name and your background? 
My name is Raven Howell and I live and work in the Hudson Valley, NY. Writing for children has always come naturally to me. I’m also the daughter of a poet. Creativity, writing and all the arts were encouraged in our household during my childhood. As a full time author, a lot of my time is spent in classrooms, working along students with learning disabilities, and presenting workshops in libraries.

For the past 25 years I’ve been specifically focused on children’s stories and poetry, releasing picture and poetry books, and writing regularly for many kids’ magazines such as Highlights for Children, Cricket, Ladybug, Jack and Jill, High Five, and Humpty Dumpty. Before that, my work also involved writing verse for greeting cards, and I enjoyed being a songwriter and working in publishing at Atlantic Records in NYC.




2.  What is the name of your book and what is it about? Greetings is the title of my latest release, a picture book for preschool through K. Written in lyrical rhyme with bright, colorful illustrations, it melds the seasonal joys that occur between nature and children.



3.  What inspired you to write it?
Two things inspired my writing Greetings. I credit my mother for instilling me with my love of nature and the seasons. She was the first to teach me tenderness and awe with the new sprung sprout, an unexpected rain shower, or the magic of patting and rolling snowballs for snowmen. I learned appreciation for the slinky green inchworm or sneaky fox in the woods. I wanted to share that joy with the preschooler! Also, my publisher was in the midst of expanding their children’s book division, and a concept book was the perfect fit.

4.   What is special about it?
Greetings is a special combination of being a concept teaching book as well as poetry! The reader is not only taught the four seasons, but taken on a journey through the year exploring sights, sounds, smells, touch and even taste.

5.   Can you give a few examples of people who have successfully used the approach?
Preschool and K class teachers have used the seasons to help students understand cycles. It can be an “Ah-ha” moment when a child starts experiencing the world as it runs on cycles of time, day and night, and the seasons.

As far as parenting is concerned, what’s a better way to inspire your child to physically go outdoors and explore nature and get exercise than to encourage them with the gifts of the seasons? A teacher who had been given a pre-release copy of my book mentioned how it helped her students relate to nature better and in turn relate to the environment in their own lives.



6.   What are your plans?
I have many book events during this school year until the end of June, and am scheduling presentations for the fall already. Some of the events coming up: I will be at the Blodgett Library in Fishkill, NY on May 11th, The Millbrook Literary festival on May 18th, Hellertown Library in Pennsylvania on June 21stand sharing my books with underprivileged children at the Beacon Book-reading Blast-off June 26th in NY. My book events are coupled with fun children's activities including a simple magic marker/water dropper craft the kids create into weather clouds and seasonal suns!

I also have another book release in June, a picture poetry book for readers ages 5 and up. It’s titled Glimmer, Sing of Sun, and is a companion book to Shimmer, Songs of Night. Presently I'm writing six fractured fairytales for a publisher's new imprint. My website is a good go-to for updates, information on all my available work, and teaching tips. I hope you’ll check it out! www.ravenhowell.com

A big thank you for the opportunity to share and participate!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

PreDoctoral Fellowships Offered by Humanities Institute


Humanities Institute has established a Predoctoral Fellowship program which may award up to $30,000 to each fellow.  Following a highly competitive application and selection process, each fellow pursues research in conjunction with interdisciplinary humanities courses. Fellows will also receive free tuition.

The mission of the Humanities Institute (HI) (http://www.humanitiesinstitute.org) is to provide high-quality humanities education free of charge.  Over the years, HI has developed an extensive array of courses, articles, and studies written and developed by experts and commissioned directly by HI for the purposes of developing a unique body of knowledge
.



Art Nouveau by Antonio Gaudí - Barcelona - Casa Battlo - mosaic battlements
Art Nouveau by Antonio Gaudí - Barcelona - Casa Battlo - mosaic battlements
In addition to making its library of resources available to the public free of charge, HI also has developed high quality courses and certificates, which consist of lesson plans and assessments. They can be used by professors for their courses.  In addition, the courses are used in conjunction with HI’s certificate programs.

HI courses are taught by HI by Ph.D.-credentialed experts who work one-on-one with students.

To apply for the Predoctoral Fellowship, please visit the website, and send your materials to admissions@humanitiesinstitute.org. If you have more detailed questions, please contact the Humanities Institute's founder, Dr. Turhan Baykan (tbaykan@aol.com).  He is happy to answer your questions and discuss your goals and aspirations.

The Importance of a Humanities Education

The humanities matter now more than ever, in a time of rapid change across the spectrum of human endeavor. The study of the humanities helps us develop an appreciation for multiple points of view, and to approach problems with flexible, creative thinking.

To study literature, history, philosophy, the arts, we learn about different cultures and how civilizations are born, develop, and evolve. We also explore how and why a knowledge of the humanities is foundational for development and application of organizations, business, math, science, and technology.

Studying humanities develops multi-disciplinary, multi-faceted thinking skills, and an ability to think about the future, its opportunities and challenges, and to approach them with fresh insights and wisdom.
The Mysterious Stone Kingdom of the Great Zimbabwe
The Mysterious Stone Kingdom of the Great Zimbabwe



Art Nouveau by Antonio Gaudí - Barcelona - mosaic
Art Nouveau by Antonio Gaudí - Barcelona - Casa Battlo - mosaic battlements



Monday, April 22, 2019

These Are the Slides You Need to Include in Your Next Pitch Deck

You will need a strong pitch deck in your quest to find funding and commercialization partners for your new technology or business idea. Welcome to a discussion with Rae Steinbach, The Funding Circle, about the perfect pitch deck. 


Businesswoman, Consulting, Business, Meeting

A strong pitch deck is an invaluable tool for any entrepreneur looking to attract small business funding or an investment, and there are countless examples available online detailing the various strategies startups use in their presentations. Many entrepreneurs aren’t aware of the factors that are most important to potential investors, so it’s crucial to consider things from their point of view when designing your pitch.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to a successful pitch deck, and it’s important to remember that what works for one business may not be as effective for another. That said, you should consider including these fundamental slides in your upcoming pitch deck.

Your Problem

Finding a problem to fix is one of the most crucial steps involved in creating a successful business, and the problem you plan to solve is just as important to your investors.

Connect your idea to real-world situations and needs that investors can relate to. Numbers and strategies are important too, but every strong pitch fills a critical need in the market.

Your Solution

Following the explanation of the problem you plan to solve is the way you plan to solve it. Solution slides are all about explaining how your idea changes the way people approach your problem.

Demonstrating your solution typically involves showing how your service or product would be used. Again, this section ties the big ideas from your other slides in with real-world examples and shares a clear value.

Your Team

Investors are used to hearing about the next big thing, but what they’re really interested in is what makes your team the right group for the job.

Your team slide should highlight the main contributors along with their expertise and relevant experience. If you’re still looking for new members, use this slide to identify the positions you need to fill and what they will do for your business.

Your Competition

Competition is critical to the success of any business, especially for startups that are still building their brand.

Including a slide about your competition gives you a chance to talk about other ways users are solving the problem your business targets and how your company is different. You’ll be able to highlight any competitive advantages and demonstrate why you’ll succeed over other businesses in the same niche.

Your Investment

The point of a pitch deck is to encourage investment, so you should add at least one slide on investment near the end of your presentation.

This slide is meant to explain how much investment money you need and how it will contribute to your short- and long-term goals. You can also mention others who have already invested in your business.

More than 600,000 new businesses are founded every year in the United States alone, and investment is crucial to growth and stability in the early phases. Adding these critical slides to your upcoming pitch deck will tell investors everything they need to know to feel confident in your startup.

*****
About Rae Steinbach: 
Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing.
 



Monday, April 01, 2019

Flared and Stranded Gas Solutions: Mini LNG Plant

--> First, there was horizontal drilling, then massive multistage hydraulic fracturing. Then "smart oilfield" with factory drilling and remotely operated operations dramatically improved productivity.

This was good, except that production outstripped pipeline capacity, especially for gas. It also glutted already saturated markets, resulting in a price collapse. The best thing to do with gas was either to flare it or not produce it all, and neither option was good for companies that counted on cash flow from operations to pay for their capital expenditures and private equity financing.

Martin was in a bind. He raised money for two different projects. One was a plan to go into the Panhandle Gas Field and drill horizontal wells to liberate the gas left behind by vertical drilling.

"Fish in a barrel," he gloated inwardly. And, it worked.  What he had not counted on was the terrible condition of the 40-year-old pipelines that had weathered price collapses and negligent owners.  He had "stranded gas" unless he wanted to pay the midstream company to update the system.

"Good grief," he said.  "I might as well buy my own midstream company." But, buying a pipeline did not make sense. After all, he did not know how long the gas production would hold up. or at what production volume.

Martin's other project was equally challenging. He drilled horizontal wells in the Antrim Shale in Michigan, which was really close to the hungry market of Chicago. But, the field was not huge, and there were no nearby pipelines. Given that the wells had a productive life of about 36 months, he could continue to time the development of the new wells to compensate for the depleting ones for at least 5 or 6 years. But, after that, unless they found another field, there would be nothing to produce into a pipeline.  Given those conditions, no midstream companies would touch him.

Martin found a solution:  small-scale, portable LNG facilities

He decided to contact the company and find out how to put in portable LNG solutions, and instead of putting the produced gas into a pipeline, the produced gas would go to the LNG plant, and then they'd put the liquid natural gas in bottles to sell or put in a warehouse (rather than flaring or not producing at all).

  • Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles (old Panhandle Gas Field)
  • Marcellus (remote parts of West Virginia and Pennsylvania)
  • New Mexico stranded gas
  • Utica (remote parts of New York and Ohio)
  • Antrim (Michigan)
  • New Albany (Indiana)
  • Mancos (remote parts of Colorado
  • Haynesville (Louisiana, East Texas)
  • Fayetteville (remote parts of Arkansas)
  • others...
Now Martin is looking for more available gas fields.
Contact me him if you'd like to explore the economics of getting a mini-LNG plant on your property.





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