EU to combat fake news with blockchain

 

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The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States brought with it, amongst other things, the whole idea of ‘fake news’. POTUS is always talking about it and has done a lot to create an environment where the public now doubt whatever they read.

In the past we generally accepted that what we read in newspapers or heard on news bulletins was reasonably close to the truth, although the smart people have always been aware that every paper has a specific political agenda and that any story needs to be read with that bias in mind. But, now we have reached a stage where completely false stories are pumped out, with social media channels being the chief way of ensuring they spread like wildfire.

The European Commission (EC), according to an article published in Techcrunch, has announced that it is going to use blockchain technology in a bid to combat the spread of ‘fake news’ and its press release said it has “identified blockchain as a critical part of what it will call the Code of Practice on Disinformation, which it intends to introduce by summer 2018.”

The announcement also stated that blockchain is, “one of emerging technologies which are changing the way information is produced and disseminated, and have the potential to play a central role in tackling disinformation over the longer term.”

The EC points to the fact that DLT can aid the transparency, reliability and traceability of news on the Internet. It said:

“Innovative technologies, such as blockchain, can help preserve the integrity of content, validate the reliability of information and/or its sources, enable transparency and traceability, and promote trust in news displayed on the Internet. This could be combined with the use of trustworthy electronic identification, authentication and verified pseudonyms…”

The commission’s next step is to develop the EU-wide Code of Practice on Disinformation that will be published by July 2018.

This represents a new application of blockchain technology in a very important arena – that of the news media. We cannot underestimate the value of once again being able to know that information has been verified and sources checked. And those who claim that certain stories are ‘fake news’, as POTUS frequently does, will find it harder to do so. This could change voters’ views in elections, as well as of government policies, in the coming years. We will be able to trace the trail of truth and lies, and that will be a good thing.

 

 

 

 

Avoiding the fakes – when you’re looking for an online coach

Having a life or business coach is an invaluable investment in yourself. However, finding one that has the right expertise and who gives you value for money can be a search with challenges, especially if you rely on the online coaching industry.

When you venture on to the web, you’ll find coaches for every aspect of life and it is spectacularly easy to find them. But, as the Romans said,

“Caveat Emptor,” or “let the buyer beware.”

I say this because the Internet has made it very easy for anyone to set them up as some sort of guru, offering wealth and power in five easy steps, if you just pay for their book, course or one-to-one sessions with them. So, how can you tell the wheat from the chaff? Well, there are a few things you can watch out for.

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Exaggerated claims

Policing the Internet is a work in progress and currently it is still easy for those who want to trick you to get on the first page of results. These people know how to SEO their sites to the hilt. My advice is to look out for coaches who make exaggerated claims. Is the offer just too good to be true? Will you really make millions in a matter of months? Look for the coaches that don’t promise the spectacular and unachievable, who don’t use flashy language and who acknowledge you have to put the work in for any real change to happen.

Check their credentials

And I don’t mean their training certificates. If a coach claims they can help you to boost your income to seven figures, make sure you find out if they have been able to do that for themselves. Do your research to make sure the coach has achieved what they claim to be offering. But don’t stop there. Look deeper. Did the coach have a more advantageous starting point than you; in other words, did they work to get where they are, or have they benefited from a fortunate background? If you and the coach have very different starting points, then they possibly are not the one for you.

Watch out for the marketing tricks

Beware of certain sales tactics. For example, there are many who throw in an enormous number of ‘bonuses’, which is an attempt to make you feel more comfortable with the high cost of the course. Also, watch out for those who use special offers within a limited time period that are intended to make you pressure buy. This probably means they know the course isn’t worth the money they are charging. Instead, find one who understands the investment you are making and who can demonstrate that you will be getting value for money.

The free content

Like pressure buying, the offer of free content is another marketing trick. Sometimes the free content is a genuine offer. But, do study what you are offered gratis. Is it just a rehash of some information that is already on the site, for example? The quality of the free content directly relates to the quality of the course you will pay for. Is it going to be worth it?

Finally, you must go with your gut. What inconsistencies can you spot? Do they seem like a balanced person? Are they arrogant or do they brag about themselves? If something feels off, then it probably is. Trust your instincts before you spend your money.

 

 

Leadership Matters More Than the Leader

Some people think that a CEO determines the success of a business; that it is their personality and style that is the decisive factor. However,  CEOs come and go, yet the business they are in charge of survives, so I would argue that it is not down to one person and how they do things, but instead it is the leadership strategy that is the key to a company’s longevity.

As Josh Bersin wrote in Forbes magazine: “Long term business performance comes from leadership culture and careful continuous development of leadership at all levels.”

And his research into the business performance of a number of companies with high profile CEOs, indicates that it is the development of leadership within all levels of the business that has the most impact.

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The enormous benefit of developing a leadership culture is that it protects the business against changes in ‘personalities’ at the top. The boat is not so easily rocked when a healthy strategy is in place and there are several ways of achieving this kind of stability.

It is noticeable that the best performing businesses link leadership strategy to business strategy. What this means is that operations at the mid and lower levels are aligned in a way that ensures a business thrives. This is achieved through coaching and training programmes that enable the best leaders in the company to rise to the top of departments, and all of them understand that strategy and team work are more important than personalities.

Leadership is not the same as management. For example, ‘management’ is concerned with the overall organisation, planning, integrations, budgets and development. But ‘leadership’ is focused on a very different set of activities, because it is, or should be, based on leading the people who work in the company to ensure its success.

Therefore, leadership develops the following attributes:

  • Motivation
  • Encouragement
  • Selection of talented people
  • Coaching and training
  • Building trust

You can see that these are quite different qualities to those valued by the management function of an organisation. They are all people-centred and focused on getting the best out of everyone, at every level, and on finding the best people for every job.

Leadership is about team building and creating loyalty. It is about making every member of the organisation feel that they have something of value to contribute, regardless of what level they are at. A strong leadership strategy embraces its members, and in a way replicates our notion of family. This in turn creates an emotional investment in the success of a business, which is invaluable to its owners.

When an inclusive and encouraging leadership strategy is firmly established, the business is well defended against any mavericks who might set themselves above the rest of the organisation and try to impose their personal whims on it. Leadership strategy trumps the role of CEO in any business; that’s why leadership is more important than leaders.

Economic Predictions And Trends For 2017

Trend watching, especially when it comes to what is happening in the economy is always interesting, sometimes very exciting and occasionally a bit of a let down. In 2017 we’ve been highly focused on political news, and the new trend of what is fake and what is not, and the economies have been in something of a state of flux as a result, but here are some directions that we’ve been going in that may continue into next year.

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American expansion

The soothsayers predicted that the sustainable expansion seen during the Obama era would suddenly see expansion with the election of Trump. Was that because he is a businessman rather than politician? Perhaps, but Donald’s big boom hasn’t yet happened, although there is some growth.

The Brexit Effect

Many foresaw that the UK leaving the EU would bring uncertainty to the UK economy, and guess what, it has done just that. Every time a statement is made from Downing St. about the state of the exit negotiations, the markets either have a moment of hope, or take a nosedive. Expect to see more of this.

The EU

Euro-sceptics said that the Netherlands, France and Germany would surprise everyone with a vote against membership of the EU. So far, elections in France and the Netherlands have shown strong support for the EU and it is now hard to imagine that Germany will show any inclination to leave.

Chinese stability

China’s economy is looking increasingly stable and its deflation pressures are easing. Lowered interest rates will ease the country’s high debt levels and this helps the global community as well.

Watch Trump

It has been quite a year of watching Trump and what he tweets, and then watching how stock markets and other governments respond. He was very bullish about China and imposing high tariffs on their goods during his election campaign, but so far any anti-trade action has been subdued, perhaps due to the fact he is now more preoccupied with North Korea. But Trump and China is still one to watch.

Interest rates

As predicted in 2017, the USA has hiked interest rates twice this year so far. This is a show of confidence in the U.S. economy thanks to a rise in employment levels. Will this continue? We have yet to see. The UK by contrast has been extremely cautious with its interest rates and a speech by Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England on 19th September 2017, suggested that any rises would be “limited and gradual.” This gave sterling a very slight advantage over the dollar during trading following the announcement, and the pound has been bouncing up and down all day and the FTSE 100 went into the red. What will happen with sterling and the dollar by December is the question everyone would like an answer to.

Higher stock prices

In 2017, stock prices have looked extremely solid and have followed an upward trajectory as predicted in 2016. We can expect to see this continue into 2018.