May 31, 2020

Hair today, (not) gone tomorrow

Soldiers on the front line in the war to stop hair loss are wielding a new weapon that also serves as a proud combat helmet: the Theradome, an innovative device that uses lasers to promote hair regrowth. Only this battle is being fought—and won—painlessly and privately from the comforts of home, thanks to the inspired vision and dogged efforts of a former NASA engineer.

Tamim Hamid was renowned for designing laser systems used by the Space Shuttle program, but he couldn’t make headway in his struggle to stem his progressing hair loss. So he began creating custom lasers and testing them on his scalp. After years of research and experimentation, Hamid launched his company, Theradome, Inc., in 2009. 

His dream was to create an affordable hair regrowth device that virtually anyone could use at home, with no prescription or medications required and no harmful side effects. He achieved that dream with the invention of the Theradome, a cordless, lightweight helmet apparatus that runs on a small rechargeable battery.

Learn more about Hamid and his invention by reading my newest piece for The Costco Connection magazine, published in its June issue, available here.

May 25, 2020

Squirrels in the attic? Here's how to get them out

Bats in the belfry are a problem. Bees in your bonnet are no picnic, either. But squirrels scrounging around in your attic or another part of your home can drive you nuts, as they can make a mess, start a family, and chew through wires--creating a fire hazard.

My latest article for Millionacres, the Motley Fool's new site for property investors, explains how to solve this squirrelly problem (click here for the full read).

May 18, 2020

Talking tigers, dishing dragons


For Cineversary podcast episode #23, host Erik Martin treks to China with Kenneth Chan, director of film studies at the University of Northern Colorado, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," directed by Ang Lee. Erik and Kenneth explore why this standout film is worth honoring all these years later, its cultural impact and legacy, what we can learn from the picture today, how it has stood the test of time, and more.
Kenneth Chan

To listen to this episode, click here or click the "play" button on the embedded streaming player below. Or, you can stream, download or subscribe to the Cineversary podcast using Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Breaker, Castbox, Pocket Casts, Google Play Music, PodBean, RadioPublic, and Overcast.

Learn more about the Cineversary podcast at tinyurl.com/cineversarypodcast and email show comments or suggestions to cineversegroup@gmail.com.

May 10, 2020

Helpspeak

They say a business is only as good as the service it provides to its customers. Hence, in an increasingly digital world where consumers are more accepting of customer self-service and non-human agents online and by phone, it makes sense for enterprises to automate more of their customer service interactions—particularly with the aid of speech technology. To do otherwise risks frustration and abandonment from clientele seeking speedy help, the experts agree.

Consider that the interactive voice response systems that companies have been using for years now are becoming more conversational with the help of artificial intelligence and speech technology advancements like voice-enabled chatbots. Intelligent virtual assistants can understand human speech in many languages and respond using text-to-speech, allowing customer service to authenticate callers via voice, look up orders, make appointments, accept payments, answer a variety of queries, and more. Speech-to-text voice transcription technology, long used to garner insights into call data, is now being increasingly employed for analytics to better understand customer needs and trends. And more businesses are relying on Natural Language Understanding to review and auto-respond to customer tickets.

These are some of the speech tech innovations that have companies large and small abuzz with excitement in recent years over the prospect of streamlining customer service departments and call centers. But adopting these capabilities may not be easy or inexpensive. Understanding the capabilities, limitations, challenges, and adoption steps required can help organizations choose the right solutions.

I explore this fascinating tech topic in my newest story for Speech Technology magazine, available here.

May 3, 2020

Chew on this

In 2020, snacks matter more than ever to convenience store owners and operators. This is a channel, after all, where operators can capitalize on the fact that consumers gobble up 2.7 snacks a day, on average (with 47% eating three or more snacks daily), per data from Chicago-based IRI.

But it’s the kind and quantity of noshes that are making c-store snack experts sit up and pay closer attention lately. That’s because snack drivers and occasions continue to evolve. For example, polling from CSP sister research firm Technomic shows that consumers are more likely to eat smaller meals across their day, with the period between breakfast and lunch proving to be a winner for promoting in-store snacks; it’s no surprise, then, that 73% of convenience stores provide midmorning snacks among their offerings—more than any other foodservice channel.

Curious what other snacking trends are observed among convenience store customers? Read my newest article for CSP Magazine, available here.

April 26, 2020

Difficulty qualifying for a mortgage? Try an FHA loan

You want to buy a home so bad you can practically taste it. Yet you have less-than-desirable credit and not enough salted away for a down payment as you had hoped.

Truth is, it’s likely going to be difficult to qualify for a conventional mortgage loan. That’s because traditional home loans often require putting more than 5% down and having a FICO credit score in the 640 or higher range.

But you’re not licked. Fortunately, there are options you can pursue that can fulfill your dream of homeownership. One of them is an FHA loan, which is backed by the government and offered by lenders approved by the Federal Housing Administration.

Learn more about an FHA home mortgage by reading my article on this topic for my newest client, The Lenders Network, available here.