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Thursday, 13 August 2015

Student Debt- The Unnecessary Evil

Education. What we use to further our society, to spread knowledge and to develop our future. As a society, we need it to continue our economy, knowledge and culture. You can't put a price on knowledge... Can you?

Imposed in 1998 by the Labour government, University fees act as a disincentive for many young people in going to University. Now standing at £9,000, the average student leaves University with around £50,000 worth of debt. Studies show that these students will be repaying their loans until they retire.

For those who are lucky enough to have relatives that can afford to pay the fees, great! For those coming from working class backgrounds, who are forced to take up 100% loans, sorry! David Cameron and Tony Blair obviously didn't have you in mind. Putting it bluntly, it is an underhand tax on the working and lower middle classes whilst those with inheritances are able to remain afloat financially.

I am far from condemning those who have the ability to pay their fees from paying their fees. Indeed it is not the fault of the student population, but it is their problem. It is a systematic failure to reduce inequality. A system that, on the surface, supports allowing equal opportunity. But, behind closed doors, maintains the status quo.

Through the luck of birth, human beings are separated and segregated through the educational system. Indeed, this system is corrupt from the outline. From Primary schools to Secondary schools and everything in between, funding is unequally spread to areas of more wealth. Schools in less funded areas struggle to survive.

Performance follows funding. 

In order to advance society. In order to improve. In order to enhance knowledge, we need equal education. Depriving a child of an education simply because their parents work in an undervalued industry is a shame to what we call society. How can we expect the best ideas to come through if we don't provide the environment?

This article is politically and economically motivated, sure. But most importantly, it is socially motivated. For as a society, we should allow basic building blocks for every citizen to develop and grow.

The disincentive of fees and the soon to be lack of a grant as a helping hand not only hinders students, but also society. Who is going to solve the energy crisis? Who will develop businesses? Who will treat you when you are ill?

Would you rather have a doctor who is from a more well-off background or who got there through merit?

As a society, we have a choice to make: do we offer the most basic form or equality?

The answer is obvious, but the solution won't come from Downing Street.

J Stefan Devlin

Monday, 10 August 2015

Social Entrepreneurship Revolution

A social enterprise is an organisation that applies business strategies in order to maximise social welfare, rather than simply earn profit. 

In the capitalist system, many firms see profit maximisation as their key goal. In order to do this, costs are minimised and sales revenue is maximised. In doing this, there are a lot of negative impacts: environmental concerns, loss of quality, raise in cost of living and minimisation of individual welfare. Although there are some great impacts such as wealth creation, a lot of industries exploit natural resources and the general public.

Is social entrepreneurship the answer? 

Through social entrepreneurship, profits are often reinvested in worthwhile causes (think Bryson House and the YMCA). These cause often, in turn, have tremendous social impacts in helping communities.

Making the profit motive a secondary objective works for many diverse industries. Having a principled mission, social enterprises set goals like many other organisations; but these goals generally have positive social impacts.

A revolution is coming and it is socially motivated. 

Many socially motivated entrepreneurs and seizing markets by storm, developing great programmes and making money while they do it. A social enterprise is the middle ground between charities and private enterprise. They take money in return for goods and services, but the profit is redirected into worthy causes. Everyone wins.

Building a business around a social cause is great for marketing and business growth. People will talk about your business. People will develop brand loyalty over your stance for social development.

Social enterprises build communities and reputations alike. 

Gaining a reputation, every project you develop will be watched and followed. The public will flock to those who take initiative.

The past is profit maximisation. The future is development. 

The best way to develop is reinvestment and everyone can become involved. 

It all starts with you. 

J Stefan Devlin

Friday, 7 August 2015

Get Involved!

I am writing this having just written an article for the one-month anniversary of 'Treconomics'. It will be published on Monday 10th August at 9:00am, London time. For a teaser, the topic title is "Social Entrepreneurship Revolution".

Instead of having to wait until official release times, why not get articles delivered to you early? Simply email telling me why you would like to get early releases. All you have to do in return is proof read the article and correspond with any improvements or suggestions. In return, you get added to the mailing list for updates on the blog, early releases of articles and you hear all news first!

What are you waiting for? Let's do this journey together!

J Stefan Devlin

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Are You a Leader or a Boss?

Leader and boss... Are they the same? To the unassuming, yes they are. But to those who lead teams, design ideas and push forward, a leader is so much more.

A boss is in charge. They may instruct their employees to complete certain deadlines or give work instructions. But a boss is far from a leader. Think of a boss as the bare essential to take charge of a company. Work will get done, but without a leader, no progress or development will be made. 

A leader simply leads. 

A leader has a vision and works to implement change. Their team respects them and shares in their vision. To be a leader, you need to have the qualities of the entrepreneur; you must understand how to work your team. 

Motivating a team is very important.

If you have a dream or a vision, share it. Let it be known that you want change in the future and that you're willing to work for it. Having a common goal will enhance team work and will ensure co-operation. 

Ensuring team satisfaction is also key. Your team must be happy in their duties and responsibilities. Positive feedback, more responsibility and small perks are all great ideas to keep a high morale. 

Your team needs to respect you. 

Knowing that you have been where they are; that you are willing to provide knowledge and help; and that you wouldn't ask them to do something you wouldn't is important in gaining respect. Hold meetings and informal gatherings so that you can communicate to your team. Share your knowledge and provide advice, but make sure they don't see you as a friend. You are still in charge. 

Make your reputation known. 

Your team should have knowledge of your past experiences and achievements so that they know they are working for someone who knows what they are doing. Find time to write, make announcements and allow interviews. 

Be there. 

The most important part of being a leader is that you are there for your team members. In any task they are asked to complete, make sure you can give advice and provide information. Be prepared to jump into the action and get your hands dirty. 

A good leader is always willing to jump into any situation. Leaders are respected, admired and often more successful professionally. Understanding the capabilities of those around you is essential in creating great content and achieving your goals. 

Be a leader, not a boss. 

J Stefan Devlin

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Blog Short Term Plan

I have now written a small number of articles to test which have the best received format. Going forward, I will focus on entrepreneurship, business planning and economic issues. This means that content in the future will have a common thread.

Another change will take place. After reaching over 500 page views, articles will be published more regularly, beginning with one per week. The regularity means that if you are interested in the content, you can check out the blog whenever there is schedules to be a new article updated.

The content is original, fresh and will seek to inform you and give you advice about careers or your own business.

You can subscribe by email at the top of the page, or follow my Twitter (link at the left side) to stay updated. Tweet me for any special topics or questions you would like covered.

When we reach 1,000, there will be another announcement. So stick around, there is a lot more to read and share!

J Stefan Devlin

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Interview Top Tips

Interviews can be tough, but only if you make them. Before my first few interviews, I did a lot of research into techniques and best practices. Ultimately, I found that trial and error was my best method. I tried many different techniques and found the best that suited me, my keys to success in an interview.

Here are my top five tips:

1. Research the company/organisation
2. Prepare answers to likely questions
3. Research yourself and your accomplishments
4. Prepare questions to ask
5. Tailor your entire interview to your desired employer

Remember, you are selling yourself. Make them want you. 

What do I research?

When researching the company, look out for some history, some notable clients and most importantly: what the company does! Look at their products, current projects and mission statement. You are doing this to evidence how interested in the company you are.

When researching yourself, discover why you are unique. Collect all of your qualifications, training and programmes you have been involved in. Why are you so special? Take this time to learn yourself. Know what you are interested in and what you have done in your life. Every single increment of your past that is relevant should be accounted for. You are an individual with a lot to offer. Show them this.

What will they ask?

A lot of interviewers ask similar questions about your skills, qualities and what you could bring to the company. They also ask questions more applicable to the industry in general. Therefore, your research will work wonders for you.

In answering any questions, always use the STAR method. It stands for: Situation, Task, Action, Result. STAR will be covered in more depth in another article. Work through each answer piece by piece and remember to include which skills you have demonstrated.

Body Language!

My last piece of advice is body language. Non-verbal communication is incredibly important, even though it may not represent you if you are nervous or excited.

Remaining calm and knowing how to use your body is a key to success at interview. Always maintain eye contact, shake hands and use open body framework.

Most people worry about where to place their hands. I often recommend using hands for gestures. This betters your communication efforts whilst ensuring that you don't fidget throughout.

The most important part of body language is your appearance. Dress for the job. Appear clean and tidy. Wear what you believe a professional in that area would wear. If you are unsure, a suit is generally the best option.

Remain calm and in control. Sell yourself. 

Written by J Stefan Devlin