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Voice assistants are an increasingly integral part of modern life, and the experiences consumers are having with these digital personalities are growing in scope and significance.
If you are a marketer in 2019 you’ve seen this often-cited voice statistic: By 2020 half of all searches will be voice searches. Based on the consumer adoption trends of the past few years, we’re on track to meet this prediction. How has the voice revolution evolved, how are today’s data-driven brands already finding success, and what can well-established voice channels like phone calls teach us about interacting with consumers via voice?
Voice Is a Continually Evolving Channel
“Brand voice” suddenly has a much more literal meaning thanks to the ability to create voice experiences for consumers. Marketers who want to successfully leverage voice as a channel—and ultimately drive sales—must understand how and why people turn to voice as a part of their daily routines.
The rise in popularity of voice assistants and voice-enabled devices and the ability to create brand voice experiences are the results of a convergence between consumer preference and technological capability.
People like to communicate through speech because it’s easy. And, after all, the promise of technology has always been to make our lives easier: Easier to be connected to one another, easier to perform daily tasks, and easier to do our jobs. Consumer tech has often left users feeling like they must adapt to devices and channels instead of vice versa—until now.
Technology Has Finally Adapted to Fit User Communication Preferences
Many technological advancements have lead to the ability to build devices and programs that we can finally interact with in the way that feels most natural—speaking.
There is both a fascination and pragmatism attached to the idea of machines that can understand humans. Thanks in part to this allure, computer speech recognition (the basis of today’s voice assistants) has long been of interest to technologists.
Improvements in computing such as faster processors, better data availability and storage systems, and developments in voice recognition and natural language processing deserve credit for today’s voice technology.
For marketers, this means the voice channel is unique for building immersive consumer experiences. Consumers get to interact digitally with brands in a way that feels, dare it be said—human.
The Evolution of Voice Recognition Technology
Audrey, the first speech recognition system was built in 1952 by Bell Laboratories and programmed to understand only numbers. It could recognize strings of digits at an accuracy of up to 90%, given that the speaker was the device’s inventor speaking very, very slowly. The device recognized other speakers at an accuracy between 70-80%. This was an early indicator of the challenges presented by the fact that individuals have very different voices, speech patterns and dialects. Audrey also required substantial space, consumed large amounts of power and was prohibitively expensive to run and maintain. It was suggested that the device be used by telephone operators but it was an inferior competitor to even simple manual dialing and was never implemented for practical use.
IBM introduced the “Shoebox,” a speech recognition system meets calculator at the 1962 World’s Fair. It could recognize 16 words including numbers and simple arithmetic terms like “plus,” “minus” and “total.” Visitors to IBM’s World’s Fair Pavillion spoke (still very slowly) to Shoebox via microphone and watched as it printed out answers to the simple math problems they instructed it to perform.
The US Department of Defense even got into the speech recognition game by funding Carnegie Mellon University’s development of “Harpy.” Harpy could understand more than 1,000 words (approximately equal to the vocabulary of an average three-year-old).
Harpy was significant because it used a technology called template matching to match the sound wave patterns of words it “heard” to the sound waves patterns of its programmed vocabulary, increasing accuracy levels.
1980s: The Hidden Markov Model
The hidden Markov model is a statistical method developed in the 1980s that allowed for a large increase in the number of spoken words computers could recognize. Instead of using the templated approach of Harpy and other prior devices, the hidden Markov model considered the probability of a sound being a word. This new approach scaled speech recognition and allowed it to be used commercially.
The hidden Markov model was even used to power a slightly creepy children’s toy known as “Julie”, the “doll that understands you.”
1990s: Dueling Dragons
Dragon Systems used the hidden Markov model for their DragonDictate speech recognition application, which powered Microsoft Windows in the early 1990s. DragonDictate still required speakers to hold long pauses in between words to assist the computer in recognizing when one word stops and another begins. In 1997 Dragon Systems released a newer, faster application called Dragon NaturallySpeaking that could recognize continuous speech of around 100 words-per-minute. However, the system still required a 45-minute training for best accuracy. Dragon NaturallySpeaking was eventually acquired by Nuance and, many versions later, is still in use today.
Early 2000s: Lack of Adoption
Speech recognition and voice commands were built into early aughts operating systems including Windows Vista and Max OS X but many users were not aware that these features existed. It was easier to use text-driven communication given the somewhat of a stagnation that had occurred in voice recognition development.
2008: Google Voice Search
Google introduced the first personal voice recognition tool, the Google Voice Search app for iPhone, in 2008. The machine-learning powered app allowed iPhone users to perform voice queries through Google, voice search their contacts and ask questions in regards to geographic location (for example: “Where is the nearest Starbucks?”).
Google Voice Search’s introduction is a great example of the convergence of technological capability and consumer choice. Thanks to cloud data centers, Google could perform the heavy-lifting of processing large voice files more easily. Consumers also preferred to perform voice search because it was easier to use than wrangle with tiny cellphone keyboards.
Shortly after launching the Voice Search app, Google built on its first iteration by focusing more on understanding the nuances of individuals’ speech.
When Siri was introduced (only eight years ago) voice recognition technology had finally evolved so much that personality was now a factor. Siri’s unique voice and quippy answers simultaneously put users at ease and intrigued them.
Although the voice assistant did receive public criticism for lack of accuracy, it still became a nearly instant companion to many iPhone owners.
Her ubiquity was no fluke. Siri’s success was thanks to the collaboration of many technological heavyweights who contributed equally to different arenas of her development. Organizations and tech giants ranging from DARPA-funded SRI International to Nuance to of-course Apple were necessary to build a voice assistant capable of capturing the public’s attention and usage.
Today: Personal Voice Assistants
We’re now living in the voice revolution. Voice assistants and voice-enabled devices are prominent and prolific in their ability to understand what we are saying, assist us with daily tasks, enable voice commerce, and facilitate deep interactions with brands.
How Are Today’s Brands Finding Success With Voice?
We’re still on the frontier of voice assistants as a mainstream marketing and branding tool, but some brands are getting an early start within the voice space and as a result are building relationships with consumers through interactive experiences.
Beaty leader, Estée Lauder helps fans stay accountable for their nightly skin-care routine and provides beauty tips with their frictionless, interactive branding play on Google. Ask Google to talk to Liv at Estée Lauder to get product recommendations, tips, and reminders to wash and moisturize your face delivered to your phone.
Whiskey giant Johnnie Walker is clinking glasses through an Alexa skill that educates consumers about whiskey, allows them to choose a label based on personal preferences, try a guided tasting, and buy a bottle from a nearby store or delivery service.
Source: Johnnie Walker
Pizza lovers can now voice order Domino’s through Google Home and Alexa. Taking it a step further, the pizza chain partnered with speech recognition platform Nuance to develop their own voice-powered “order-taking expert,” Dom that is accessible through the Domino’s app.
What Can Established Channels Like Phone Calls Teach Us About Voice Assistants?
28% of consumers call a business after finding them from a voice search. And callers convert to customers up to 15x more than web form leads. These are strong indicators of the power of voice as a revenue-driving channel.
By understanding the value of the voice channel as a whole, marketers can yield more successful results from their voice marketing approach. And by looking at a traditional voice channel like consumer phone calls to their business, marketers can gain a deeper understanding of how to acquire more customers from voice search.
Consumers are demanding local information like never before. Across channels, search queries that included a local designation increased 900% over the last two years. Depending on the device, up to 53% of consumers use voice search to look for a local business on a daily basis. Often times, consumers searching for your business are not looking to find products or pricing online, but instead are looking for the phone number of the nearest location. Whether customers are searching for you through a browser or via voice, it’s important to tailor your content locally.
Consumers are most likely to use voice search to find local businesses with less considered services like restaurants, grocery stores, food delivery, and clothing services. However, a significant percentage are using voice search to investigate more considered services like childcare, home services, and senior living facilities.
Mine Calls for FAQS to Revamp Your SEO
Marketers can collect insights from phone conversations to learn what callers are saying and what questions they are asking and use the information to power content marketing and SEO. Marketers are doing this now by either manually reviewing call recordings and transcriptions themselves or by automating the process using artificial intelligence.
One company using call analysis to mine caller insights is Central Restaurant Products, the leading wholesale distributor of foodservice equipment. With inbound calls making up 56% of orders and 81% of total revenue, Central has a wealth of conversations to pull from. They analyze calls being driven from specific product pages, see what questions callers are asking, then update content to reflect the consumer questions.
By understanding the common questions customers ask, Central is not only optimizing their content for SEO but also alleviating customer concerns so that the sales team can focus less on education and more on driving conversions.
As a result, Central is able to create a seamless, end-to-end customer experience that significantly boosts conversion rates—increasing calls by 23% and new customers by 13%.
Analyze Calls From Voice Search to Determine the Next Best Actions
When consumers call your business, it’s important for marketers to be able to access basic information about the caller, see what happens on the call, and make a decision as to how to market to them post-call.
By analyzing calls for intent and outcome, marketers can:
Retarget that caller with the most relevant search, social, and display ads
Expand their reach by using that caller to improve their lookalike campaigns
Exclude that caller from seeing ads that aren’t relevant to them
Comfort Keepers, one of the nation’s leading providers of in-home care for seniors, analyzes what happens on calls to each of their 450+ franchise locations to assess the success of their marketing efforts and determine which targeting campaigns each caller should be included in.
Since phone calls make up 70% of their marketing conversions, they analyze the calls driven to each franchise to determine lead quality. They can then understand not only the volume of calls they are driving, but how many of those calls are potential new customers versus current customers and which next steps should be taken.
We’ve Never Been Closer Than With Voice
Voice marketing lets marketers get closer to consumers than ever before, and brands are craving deeper voice experiences. Marketers who are not tapping voice as both a branding and revenue-driving channel are falling behind.
Now is the time to ensure your brand is making the most of voice and take a deeper look at the conversations it’s already having with consumers.
“My advice would always be to ignore the perceived wisdom and look for the most reliable evidence on the ground” – D.T. Puttnam
Hearing a senior executive announce “We’re committed to becoming agile!” is not the bombshell moment it used to be. It no longer indicates a personal revelation or board-room epiphany. In fact, if you were to read some of the interviews with managers in business magazines, or the guest articles and puff-pieces on agility in their companies, you’d think that their hearts and minds had been won decades ago. You’d have no reason to doubt that executives were anything other than firmly on-side with Scrum Masters, coaches, and change agents. Agile transformation, you would surmise, is a done deal with the higher-ups.
Now according to the 2018 State of Agile report, the top reason survey respondents gave for undergoing agile transformation was to accelerate a production calendar. You can see why people would think that this is important. The imperative everyone faces is to complete projects “faster and cheaper”. Time, after all, is money. Hence there’s no great mystery why executives would appear to be pulling in the direction of agile change.
Moreover, there’s no denying that senior managers are generally right about the need for increased agility. If their organizations fail to improve, then they could well be disrupted out of business. That much is becoming increasingly clear. Yet it’s also the sticking point. You see, agile transformation isn’t about “accelerating a production calendar”, as is often assumed. It’s really about becoming a learning organization…one that’s innovative enough to survive.
People, I suppose, can be right about certain things for the wrong reasons. That’s what management support for “going agile” often boils down to. I remember the gasp of incredulity when I first explained to a senior executive that the agile transformation he talked about wasn’t geared towards completing projects “faster and cheaper”, as he claimed. “In truth,” I said, “agile transformation is about learning to build the right thing at the right time”. The mouth gaping back at me was momentarily staggered into silence. The face that framed it was a picture. It is still in the gallery of my mind’s eye: “Study of a suit in shock”. An unforeseen vista had rent the air and stretched out before him. He now saw a different perspective: value might not be what it appeared to be. These are the new bombshell moments which add pep to an agile coach’s day.
It’s important to give folk an anchor in a major paradigm shift, such as the adoption of agile practice. They need something they can hold on to as a point of reference, a true north. Here’s something to grab: agile transformation is not done for its own sake. Value, however it is measured, ought to be improved as a result of change. If value is measured well, then by means of frequent release, inspection, and adaptation, it can be maximized. If it is measured poorly, then an organization may just become better at doing the wrong thing. Eventually, more switched-on disruptors will move in for the kill.
Some companies misalign their success criteria. For example, they may gauge success in terms of a certain capability delivered by a certain date for a certain cost. Their project controls and measurements are geared towards an objective where evidence of success, or failure, will arrive late. These companies would be far better served by an ability to respond to change in an uncertain world.
Generally speaking, the most common dysfunction is to try and measure value in terms of outputs, rather than outcomes. A classic example, which is often encountered in agile transformation, is known as “point productivity”. If a technical team estimates each piece of work before doing it, and gives it a notional size in points, then team members will roughly know how much they’re taking on when planning to meet a goal. They are within their rights to use this approach. However, the numbers are not then too hard for managers to get hold of, and it is tempting for the higher-ups to conflate the estimated size of the work with its value. On the basis of this extraordinarily circumstantial evidence, the more “points” a team supposedly “delivers”, the more productive it is held to be. Why fake this equivalence? Because the genuine value of product increments to stakeholders, if any are indeed delivered at all, can be a much harder thing to discern. In fact there could be little appreciation of a product in the first place. There might simply be a project with a mandate, a bolus of requirements, and a fixed amount of money in the pot.
The irony of the situation is palpable. We often read about how merciless companies can be in the quest for profit, and of how keen they are to maximize shareholder value. Yet when it actually gets down to counting the beans in a timely way, and figuring out what sort of investment to make in the next Sprint, based on hard empirical evidence, they can’t set themselves to the task. They can’t do it. They fiddle the books with wooden dollars instead, and declare that the balance of story points being “delivered” perhaps ought to rise. Non-profit organizations, such as charities, are not necessarily any cleaner. The performance indicators used to gauge impact on the social good, for example, can be tenuous and trailing. Rather than dealing with this challenge head-on, and identifying the outcomes which they can empirically measure, non-profits might also resort to assessing outputs instead. They too can fall prey to the siren call of measuring “points delivered”, for example. They too might obscure true stakeholder value with circumstantial data that, when taken out of context, becomes fake. The comparative ease with which data like this can be obtained, and used to proxy for value, is often imagined to be a solution and its misappropriation a virtue.
It’s critically important to understand that measurement is strategic in nature. Senior executives are accountable for the value an organization provides and for corporate reputation. If the measurement of value is poor, then the outlook is grim. However, if the understanding of value is challenged and curated in an empirical way, with a timely focus on quality outcomes rather than circumstantial outputs, then it becomes possible to survive and thrive. Continuous improvement is enabled. Management, in other words, has to be evidence-based. This is of essential concern where an agile organization with an innovation capability is to be cultivated.
What actually should executives measure then? Evidence Based Management, or EBM, proposes four key value areas which organizations can focus on, irrespective of business context. These are Current Value, Unrealized Value, Time to Market, and Ability to Innovate. Let’s take a look at each of these areas, and at the nature of the measurements which lie beneath them.
Current Value measures the value delivered to customers or users today. How much is an initiative worth to stakeholders? How satisfied are customers, or employees for that matter? How many people actually use a product or service? From a financial perspective, what is the revenue per employee, or the product-cost ratio?
Unrealized Value measures the value that could be realized by meeting all of the potential needs of customers or users. What does the organization need to do to maximize that value? What is the relative market share of a product or service, and what is the gap between the current experience of customers or users, and an experience that might be said to “delight” them?
Ability to Innovate measures the ability to deliver a new capability or feature which better serves customer or user needs. Do we have data on which functions are used most heavily, and those which are used least often? What is the organization’s innovation rate, which is to say, the relative investment in developing new capabilities versus maintenance of the old? How much technical debt has to be paid off, relative to new functionality? What is the defect rate for the product or service, and how many major incidents occur over a given period? How many different versions are being supported? What percentage of a team’s time is spent on the product, and how focused on that product are they allowed to be? How much time is spent merging code and context-switching?
Time to Market measures the ability to quickly deliver a new capability, service, or product. How frequently do builds happen, how often is work integrated, and what is the frequency of release? Once a release is made, is additional time and effort needed for the product to stabilize, and if so how much? What is the average time it takes to effect a repair? What are the cycle and lead times to production, and how long does it take to close the validated learning loop?
That’s a lot of things to potentially measure, and the elicitation of the associated data is something that has to be sponsored by top management. Nobody, no employee, nor any consultant brought in for the job, can pull these numbers out of a hat. Getting hold of key value measures isn’t the sort of thing that can be delegated away. These are a comprehensive set of data points drawn from a range of functions across the enterprise. No-one below chief officer level is likely to have the organizational reach, or the political sway, to pull in the numbers. Moreover, departmental and mid-tier managers should be keen to engage with this strategic initiative, so that the data obtained will be timely and of good quality. This can require direct and pro-active involvement from the CEO, even if he or she has someone else to collate the measurements and to curate the results. Don’t forget that the first step in organizational transformation is to communicate a sense of urgency for change…for which executives have to constantly stay on the ball.
These key value measures, once elicited, provide a kind of transparency over enterprise agility. The data can be visualized in the form of a spider diagram, for example, and a picture then shaped of how “agile” an organization might be. Of course, this picture will not in itself cause an improvement. No report ever can. Simply being in receipt of numbers and charts does not cause people to inspect and adapt. For any change to happen, empirical process control must be established. A change leadership team will need to consider these measurements, challenge those which appear to be weak, and frame an hypothesis about how the situation might be improved.
We believe that [doing X] for [people Y] will achieve [outcome Z]. We will know that this is true when we see that [measurement M] has changed.
For example, if the innovation rate appears to be poor, they might decide to furnish a product ownership community with a dedicated team for the incubation of new opportunities. Then they can see the effect on the innovation rate, and on the overall picture of enterprise agile health.
We believe that supporting the product ownership community with a dedicated team will achieve an improved innovation rate. We will know that this is true when we see that the number of value propositions being evaluated each month has increased relative to the number of support and maintenance tickets which have been started for existing products.
Well? Did the innovation rate of the company improve? What other measures changed when the data was next collated…and what hypothesis ought to be framed and tested next?
These are the bare bones of EBM, or Evidence Based Management. If it looks like something which is impossibly or impractically hard to do, bear this in mind: in a crisis, executives suddenly become interested in empirical evidence. They ditch the pro-forma reports, filters, and stage-gated practices which normally define the organization’s way-of-working. They get close to the outcomes instead. They try to exert control over them until the situation stabilizes and the immediate danger recedes. Then they go back to their old, non-empirical practices which have just been found wanting. Can you feel the irony yet?
Perhaps executives should adopt Evidence Based Management as a new standard, if they genuinely want to have a more agile organization. The alternative is bleak. If they don’t do so, then the illusion of control — which comes from managing circumstantial outputs — will persist until reality bites them. But will the outcome of such ignorance be survivable at that point? Or will the more agile, and the more innovative, have moved in for the kill?
When you’re a teeny, tiny startup, you’re more concerned with things like finding the right investors, than you are with preparing for tax season. The problem is, if you wait until the last minute, you’ll probably end up making some common tax mistakes. At best, these mistakes are a missed opportunity to lower your tax bill. At worse, these mistakes could saddle you with some expletive-inducing fines or even legal penalties.
Luckily, it doesn’t take an expert to avoid some of the most common tax mistakes. With a little bit of extra planning and the advice of a few trusted professionals, you can make sure you don’t repeat the kind of mistakes that landed your fellow entrepreneurs in hot water with the IRS.
1. Filing as the Wrong Legal Entity
When you first started your company, you probably didn’t give much thought to what type of business entity it would be. However, deciding on your business’ legal structure is one of the most important decisions you’ll make because it not only affects how you file your taxes, but also how much you pay.
In the US, businesses fall into one of five categories: limited liability companies (LLCs), partnerships, S corporations, C corporations, and sole proprietorships. Prior to 2017, filing as an LLC was often (though not always) seen as the best option for entrepreneurs because it held significant tax advantages. However, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has lessened the advantages of filling as an LLC. Moreover, the tax advantages of filing as an LLC come at the cost of additional tax reporting complexity.
To avoid filing as the wrong entity and creating more problems for yourself down the line, it’s important to carefully research the advantages and disadvantages of each legal structure. If you’re not very tax-savvy, it’s an even better idea to ask your accountant for their take.
2. Not Registering In Every State You Do Business In
The virtual nature of startups means these companies often have employees and customers across the country. But what many startups fail to realize is that having business in multiple states means they may need to file a return for each of those states.
On the one hand, the Supreme Court recently clarified that a company is legally obligated to pay taxes in every state in which it does business, even if the company has no actual property or employees located within the state. So if your startup shipped products or carried out services in multiple states, you may owe sales tax in each of those states.
While the concept of mixing business finances with personal finances seems like an obvious no-no, in reality, it can be tricky to keep the two entirely separate. In fact, nearly one in five business owners admit that they do not even have separate personal and business bank accounts.
The problem is, mixing business and personal finances can make it nearly impossible to tell which expenses are business related and deductible for your taxes. Over time, failure to account for reimbursable expenses can result in lost money, as well as lost tax deductions. Commingling finances also removes a layer of legal protection in the event that your business is ever audited.
Of course, the easiest way to avoid this problem is to establish a financial account for your startup business from day one and to maintain separate records for all business transactions.
4. Not Sending 1099s
As a startup, you’ve likely had to hire contractors to help with everything from coding to legal consultation. However, if you paid any of these contractors more than $600, you’d better make sure to issue Form 1099-MISC to both the individual and the IRS. Copy B of Form 1099-MISC should be sent to contractors by January 31st, 2019, while Copy A should go to the IRS by February 28th, 2019.
If you used a contractor and did not file Form 1099-MISC, you could be fined $100 for each type of form (with no maximum). Moreover, if you miss the deadline and file late, the fines are determined based on how late you file, as well as the size of your business. In other words, make sure to send your 1099s to your contractors or you could be facing a major bill (and some frustrated contractors) when tax time rolls around.
5. Not Amortizing Pre-Revenue Expenses
Launching a startup usually takes a lot of up-front investment. This can include everything from a dozen laptops to research and development costs. Where many startups get into trouble, is choosing to report all these expenses at once.
A much better way to handle these expenses is to offset the costs through amortization. This means writing off its initial tax burden and then paying it back incrementally. This method allows you to capitalize on the expense and then pay a percentage of taxes on it over the next couple of years. If your company is in the pre-offering period, this strategy can help to reduce your tax liabilities
6. Not Deducting Your Business Expenses
If you’re running a startup and you’re not deducting your business expenses, you’re essentially leaving money on the table. While the general rule is that you can deduct all “ordinary and necessary” business expenses, there are a number of key deductions that startups should be taking advantage of.
In addition to things like meals and bank fees, startups should also be deducting the cost of training programs, research and development, and home offices. The best way to make sure you’re capturing all the important startup tax deductions is to do your research well ahead of tax season.
7. Not Keeping Proper Records
Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that a deductible expense is only good if you can actually prove that you spent money on what you said you did. This is where many startups go wrong. Entrepreneurs often neglect to keep proper expense records throughout the year and end up scrambling to fill old shoeboxes with receipts when tax time rolls around.
The easiest way to avoid this situation is to go paperless. Make things a little easier for yourself (and your bookkeeper) by scanning and uploading copies of your receipts to the cloud. You can even use dedicated apps to transcribe the information from each receipt for you. Keep in mind that the IRS requires businesses to keep receipts that support business expenses for a minimum of six years from the date you filed your return, and this is far easier to do with digital receipts than paper ones.
8. Not Talking to the Experts
While all of the above can get you into some trouble around tax time, one of the biggest mistakes that startups make is trying to go it alone. Many founders believe that an easy way to save money is to simply do back-office tasks like bookkeeping and accounting themselves. However, without the proper training and expertise, the DIY approach often ends up costing more in the long run.
It’s no surprise that one of the best ways to make sure your business is tax-ready is to talk to an accountant who specializes in tax planning and tax filing. You should also consider finding a bookkeeping service to keep your books organized and compliant from tax-time onwards. You’ll be especially thankful for your bookkeeper if you find yourself in the midst of an audit.
The post What Are the Signs Your Dog Loves You? by Jennifer Lesser appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on Dogster.com.
There’s nothing like being greeted by a wagging tail and a sloppy dog kiss after a long day at the office. But while most dogs are affectionate with their owners, it’s hard not to wonder if your pet loves you as much as you love them. So, what are the signs your dog loves you? Let’s take a closer at some signs your dog loves you.
The good news is that according to experts, even though your four-legged friend may not be able to verbalize the words “I love you,” there are lots of signs your dog loves you.
“Dogs are social creatures by nature, and fortunately, the communication between dogs and human is very good — they can read our body language, and we can read theirs,” says Scott R. Sheaffer, a certified canine behavior consultant and owner of USA Dog Behavior, LLC in Texas. “There are lots of ways that dogs tell us they love us, and some are more obvious than others.”
Let’s break out some of the signs your dog loves you.
1. One Sign Your Dog Loves You? He Stays Close to You … Very Close
According to Dr. Gail Clark, a canine behavioral psychologist and owner of K9 Shrink, LLC in Colorado, a dog that’s sitting on your lap, leaning on you, nudging you — or won’t even take his eyes off you — is sending a very clear message that they love you. “Staying close to their owners is a major sign in dog language,” she explains. “If your dog is doing everything they can to be physically close to you, his definitely expressing his feelings for you.”
Scott adds that dogs have two major categories of behavior: distance increasing and distance decreasing. When a dog is feeling affectionate and non-threatened by his human, he will move closer and thus decrease his distance … but if an animal is increasing his distance from you, it’s sending the opposite message.
“Sometimes people say that if a dog comes over and leans on you, they’re trying to show dominance in some way … but in reality, it’s just another distance-decreasing behavior to tell you that they love and trust you,” he adds. The same concept applies when your dog comes over and plops himself on your feet while you’re sitting on the sofa, or lies next to you while you’re in bed watching television. “You probably don’t need to be an animal behaviorist to know that a dog that wants to be close to you all the time has strong feelings of affection towards you,” he adds.
Important to Note: Distance-Increasing Behaviors vs. Separation Anxiety
However, Scott warns that if your dog wants to be with you all day, every day — and shows symptoms of fear or anxiety whenever you leave the house — that’s not necessarily a sign of love, but an indicator that your dog may suffer from separation anxiety. “People tend to find it flattering when their dog falls apart when they leave, but it’s really not a healthy behavior … it’s a serious fear and anxiety about being left alone, and at that point you should seek professional help,” he advises.
2. Another Sign Your Dog Loves You? He Follows You Around
Most pet owners quickly realize that as soon as you bring your new four-legged family member home, you’re not going to be able to do anything alone ever again — including use the bathroom. Yes, a dog that follows you everywhere is another one of the signs your dog loves you.
“Even when your dog isn’t necessarily touching you, he’s showing you how much he loves you by following you around,” Scott says. “A dog who loves you feels the need to keep you in his line of vision … so when he joins you in the bathroom, it’s not your dog being rude or invading your privacy — he just doesn’t know you’re not really supposed to follow someone in there.”
3. One Sign Your Dog Loves You? He Jumps on You
It’s probably not the most desirable behavior — and most pet owners will train their dogs not to do it — but a dog jumping on you is another sign your dog loves you.
“The fact of the matter is that anything a dog does to get closer to you is a clear sign of their affection,” Dr. Clark explains. “Some of these behaviors, like jumping, can be annoying sometimes … but if your dog wants that physical contact with you, they’re really just trying to express how they feel.”
4. Yet Another Sign Your Dog Loves You? He Turns His Back to You
Ever had your dog greet you by sticking his or her butt in your face? While it may not be an appropriate greeting amongst humans, in dog language, it’s actually a sign your dog loves you!
“If a dog is uncomfortable with you, he would never turn his back to you — would you turn your back to someone you were afraid of or thought could put you in danger?” Scott says. “A dog coming over and pushing his butt into you is actually a very friendly and affectionate behavior.”
5. Did You Know About This Sign Your Dog Loves You? He Stretches Toward You
Here’s one sign your dog loves you that the average pet owner may not know: if you’ve ever seen your dog stretch in front of you (it’ll resemble a play bow, but both of their front legs are together), it may not be because they’re just waking up from a restful snooze. Scott explains that dogs will often make this motion — a “greeting stretch” — in the direction of someone that they love and are happy to see.
“When this behavior is done in close proximity to you, and the dog is clearly pointing at you, it’s actually your dog’s way of saying ‘I love you, it’s great to be here with you right now,” he says.
The post What Are the Signs Your Dog Loves You? by Jennifer Lesser appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on Dogster.com.
In New York City years ago, there was a pastor in the Garment District who advertised his church as the “crossroads of the world.” (New Yorkers are given to that kind of language.) Well, when he became pastor of a church in Midtown, he advertised that one as the “crossroads of the world.” This priest was an evangelist and a master of public relations. But he was on to something: Every church is at the crossroads of the world. Indeed, every generation and every civilization finds itself at a crossroads.
But wherever there is a crossroads, there is a cross. When the Cross of Christ appeared in the world, civilization truly was at a crossroads. It would seem that God in His infinite wisdom chose that moment in history precisely because of its drama. Consider that the Crucifixion of Christ happened almost equidistant between the capture of Rome by the general Pompey and the destruction of Rome by the emperor Titus. It was at that crossroads of civilization that the Lord of history made Himself known.
Pride and Humility
The crossroads of every biography is this challenge to the soul: How will we choose? The soul that is governed by what it thinks is freedom but is, in fact, the delusion of pride, falls into slavery. It is pride, the pretense that we can live without the Cross, that splits the soul. The soul is made of the intellect and the will: Passion enslaves the will; pride then co-opts the intellect.
That great voice of the nineteenth century and of all ages, John Henry Newman, spoke to a group of university scholars about pride, knowing that pride is a besetting sin of the intellectual.
He said famously, “Quarry the granite rock with razors. Moor the vessel with a thread of silk. And then you may hope with such keen and delicate instruments as human knowledge and human reason to contend against those giants, the passion and the pride of man.”
This article is from a chapter in Grace and Truth. Click image to learn more.
Passion and pride: This is what Our Lord is speaking of in announcing the hour of darkness. He is describing the prince of lies, who wants us to think that passion — not the Lord’s divine and salvific Passion, but our fallen human passion — is the way to freedom, and that pride is the source of our dignity. Our Lord knows that passion and pride can be defeated only by suffering and failure. That’s what the Cross teaches us.
The Cross has been called the medicine of the world: It is the cure for this deep affliction, this neurosis within the soul that would have us mistake slavery for freedom. When the soul is divided, civilization begins to fall apart.
Accepting the Cross
The consciousness of God is the beginning of accepting the Cross. Once we understand that there is a God, He, by His grace, will show us that He is one, that He is merciful, and that He has the power to draw us unto Him. “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32). Remember the way Our Lord revealed Himself to Moses: “I AM WHO I AM” (Exod. 3:14). He is the source of all life, and indeed of being itself.
But if our souls are divided, if our civilization is split apart, we begin to lose the vision of God and His life-giving goodness that had been given to us. God told us, “I AM.” And yet, amid the remnants of a broken and decaying civilization governed by passion and pride, instead of proclaiming that God is the great I AM, we are reduced to sniveling observations about truth and eventually gasping out, “I don’t even know what ‘is’ is!” Well, as long as we refuse to confront the reality of the great I AM, we will never really know what “is” is. We will never understand the grammar of civilization. We will never grasp the true content of justice.
We don’t have to speculate about who this great I AM is: He came into the world in Christ. “I AM the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11). “I AM the Vine” (John 15:5). “I AM the Door” (John 10:9). “I AM the Way and the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). Here, in this God-man, we find the meaning of our existence, our civilization, our identity.
Our Lord went to the Cross at the crossroads of civilization, and conquered passion and pride through His suffering and His visible failure according to the terms of the world. We have to remember that the suffering of God in Christ was one of the most difficult things for His contemporaries to grasp. It was the mystery that caused many of them to flee the Cross. And even when people did try to identify with the Cross, they often tried to redefine or deny outright the suffering of Christ. These heretical groups within Christianity claimed that Christ was only pretending to suffer on the Cross. They could not understand that the divine glory and divine humility were one.
Joseph Goebbels, that vicious propaganda officer of the Nazi machine, wrote in a diary around Christmastime in 1941 that he had just had an impressive meeting with the Führer, who had told him that he very much admired the myth of the pagan god Zeus, the god of all the gods in the Greek pantheon. Why? The Führer explained that he valued Zeus as a figure of benevolence and kindness.
What a difference there is between the smiling Zeus and the pain-wracked, crucified Christ! That’s the experience of the twentieth century in a single anecdote. Our civilization suffered through another manifestation of the Gnostic denial of the Incarnation of God. Note especially how, for one of the cruelest men who ever lived, it was easier to choose the sentimental figure of a nonexistent deity than the suffering and failure of Christ on the Cross.
Christ suffered on the Cross to defeat the passion and pride of Satan. And He failed on the Cross. He had to fail — at least according to the lights of a deceived civilization. He had to contradict those criteria for worldly success that animate the passion and the pride of man. Christ cries out on the Cross, “My God! My God, why have You forsaken me?” (see Matt. 27:46). This is not some kind of mythical success story. No mythical god ever cried out like that!
Life at the Crossroads
When John Paul Getty was one of the richest men in the world, someone asked him his key to success. He replied, “It’s very easy. Rise early. Work hard. And strike oil.” (Not very helpful advice really.) Our Lord never said anything like that. Yes, He did rise early; He kept all-night vigils; and He worked hard to the point of sweating blood. But He never said, “Go out and strike oil.” Salvation does not depend on luck. “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). We must stand at the crossroads and choose truth over lies, and life over death.
There’s an old proverb that goes, “Success is not one of the names of God.” These words came from the experience of God’s chosen people. When you read those words, you can still hear the lamentations of the Jews in their captivity in Egypt, in their forty years of wandering, in the desolation of their temple, in the Babylonian captivity, in the suffering through the ages, and in the horrors of the twentieth century. The choice between despairing of this world and hope in God’s providence is in every life lived at the crossroads.
Christ, the Messiah of the Jews, came into history to show us the resolution between light and dark, between life and death. As He walked through the crowds on one occasion, He suddenly said, “Who was it that touched me?” (Luke 8:45). One woman of the throng that surrounded Him had touched the hem of His garment, and He knew it. For however many civilizations there are, however many billions of people ever lived, each one of us is known to God when we touch Him.
But we have to call Him by name. We cannot call Him according to our own name, our own concept of what He is or should be. We cannot pretend that He is anything less than the pain-wracked, suffering Christ. Certainly success is not one of His names. When He hung on the Cross and cried out, “My God! My God, why have You forsaken me?” He was saying something that you will not find in any book or saccharine sermon about positive thinking. You will not see it engraved on any smile button. That kind of language is not “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” It is, however, the voice of the Lord of history — at the crossroads of history — hanging on the Cross.
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). He is speaking of you and of me and of every man and woman who has walked through the drama of the human experience. “Who touched me?” I did. “Well then, who crucified me?” I did. If we deny that, then we are governed by passion and pride, and the house of our soul is divided.
Yogi Berra, the master of malapropism, said that when you come to the crossroads of life, “take it.” It’s not much better advice than that of Mr. Getty, but I think you know what he meant. Christ gives everyone, every day, every time we wake up, a chance to choose. And of all the people who ever lived, we have less excuse than any to make a wrong choice, for we have access to the experience of all the civilizations that have gone before. We have the hard lessons of those who have rejected Christ. We have the consequences of civilizations that have turned their backs on God’s beauty and truth and love.
And every soul is offered the perception of the saints, who see at every crossroads the Cross of Christ, Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
At this moment, the Miami Dolphins are going to be going out Shane Falco at quarterback next season. After Miami made a desperate effort to sign Teddy Bridgewater, the New Orleans Saints quarterback revealed Thursday he’’ ll be going back to the Bayou for another season support up Drew Brees. While this is a win for the Saints, it informs us simply how bad things remain in South Beach today. Nick Foles was an alternative. He no longer is. Rather, he’’ s playing in Duval with the Jaguars. Tyrod Taylor was a choice. He’’ s now supporting Philip Rivers in Southern California. Perhaps Miami reverses to a quarterback in Ryan Tannehill that it had currently basically carried on from. The basic truth that Bridgewater, 26, decided to support Brees next season instead of being the most likely starter in Miami informs us a lot about the Dolphins’ ’ company today. Fins down. As it associates with the Saints, they keep among the video game’’ s finest backups. New Orleans had actually obtained Bridgewater from the New York Jets in a trade prior t.
I'm new to this sub, mostly because the reality only became certain very recently.
About me, I'm 41 m, four children, dated for six years, married for ten, and there are some nuances to the way this all came to be where it is.
2008, we were engaged, and had been so for a couple of years already. When my brother married, my mom's partner gave me her engagement ring to use in case I ever got serious enough for engagement. On the way to his wedding, my then 12-year-old cousin found the ring, and then STBX found it, and we became engaged soon thereafter. Perhaps many parts of this story will tie back to my potentially terminal case of optimism.
Fast forward four years, and you get to a significant turning point. Google desktop was on our laptop back in those days, and I had no idea what a nefarious program that was. Turns out, it saves a picture of everything you view on the internet. I mean EVERYTHING. Every email you read? Picture saved. No password needed to read everything seen on the computer, most easily by searching "http" and clicking through every gory detail.
I had to do something about all of the naked people that now lived easily in reach, because, believe it or not dear reader, I sometimes look at naked people on the internet. Let's just keep it between us for the time being.
In my attempt to put some proverbial clothes back on the caches of naked people past, I came across something I hadn't expected: several emails between STBX and an old fling from the Czech Republic. She was prying in to his present status, asking what he thought would have happened, professing her continued feelings, etc. I was not happy to read all of these messages, but I saved them, and confronted her, and felt hurt, but we made up.
In spite of the fact that when I found these messages, we had not been intimate in nearly two years, I was hopeful that it was a phase. A blip. Nothing to worry about. We made up, and nine months later, we were married with our first child.
The next Christmas, we were lucky to get number two. Then the following year, during our final intimate encounter, we conceived two beautiful identical twin boys.
We are blessed with four fantastic children.
The hard parts of our relationship are hardly all one-sided. I've had my issues. I ended up getting a couple of DUI's, and I am sorry about that. I did my time, and hated it, but have held a job throughout, and provided for my family whenever possible, and try to do the best I can with what I have. Remember, terminal optimist.
There were several incidents I have written about on /r/JUSTNOMIL, which included potential sexual and definitely physical and verbal abuse by my outlaws, as well as STBX. Suffice it to say that those issues played a large role in my agreeing with STBX that we should take the relocation money and move eight hours away from the outlaws. Because of custody, and my significant motivation to keep the littles as from from the outlaws as possible, I wasn't about to leave the marriage.
She didn't like it there. She stopped taking her prozac without consulting a physician, and she couldn't find a job, and she began acting somewhat erratically. Then I had a friend who wanted me to come work for him in a more desirable state. I asked STBX whether she thought we should make the move, she agreed. I quit my job, took the one out of state, went there for the first ten days, and came home for Christmas. When I returned, STBX informed me she was "leaving." Like leaving leaving.
That was on Christmas Eve, the same day she left facebook open on her ipad for me to learn that she was lying about working on my Birthday in October, and had instead met the Czech guy at an airbnb in Times Square. They met again in Atlanta, and I didn't try to stop her from using her already purchased tickets to Vienna and Malta to see him there a few weeks ago. That trip, she said, was to go "interview for jobs" in a few different states.
She returned from the trip, and had a real interview in yet a different, even further away state. As I sit today, none of us are in state number 1 where we originally lived, the kids are in state number 2 (with my mother watching them), I am in state number 3, and she is in state number four.
Initially, she said she wanted me to still move everyone to state number 2, and that I would have the kids during the school year. My state number 2 attorney said to get to state number 3 and then file for divorce. That was before she left the marriage home in state number 2 where the children have been for nearly a year (beyond the state's six month requiements). Tomorrow at 3:30 CT, I have a call with my attorney to formulate strategies, but my plan is probably to go back to state number 2, be with the kids, find a job, file for divorce, and hopefully find a way to make everyone come out of this better off.
I know I'm not perfect, and I know that patience is one of my biggest assets and mantras at the moment.
After two unsuccessful attempts to pass a federal sports betting legislation, Germany launches renewed effort
Germany is making a fresh push to adopt a nationwide sports betting legislation after similar attempts failed in recent years. The third version of the Interstate Treaty on Gambling was unveiled earlier this month and heads of the country’s 16 states were encouraged to act on the piece so that it can be adopted across Germany early next year.
The recently introduced draft legislation will be discussed by the leaders of the 16 states at a special conference scheduled for March 21, 2019. If all German states ratify the proposed Interstate Treaty on Gambling in its current form, the piece of legislation will come into force on January 1, 2020.
Generally speaking, the Treaty allows for interested online and retail sports betting operator to apply for a license and provide their services to German customers in a regulated environment. An important change in the newly presented version of the legislation is the removal of a cap on the maximum licenses that will be issued under the new rules. Previous versions of the Treaty proposed a cap of up to 20 licenses, which was not received well by industry stakeholders and EU authorities.
In fact, the previously proposed cap was what prevented the piece of legislation from being adopted. Its original version was presented back in 2012. The Treaty faced a wave of discontent and legal challenges namely due to the license limitations. A second version of the piece failed to gain traction among the heads of the 16 states in 2017.
The lack of a cap on the number of licenses available is hoped to win lawmakers’ favor this time around.
Timeline for the Implementation of the New Regulatory Framework
As mentioned earlier, the Treaty is expected to take effect on January 1, 2020, if it gains the necessary support. The third version of the piece mandates that the so-called experimental phase for sports betting be extended to June 30, 2021 from June 30, 2019. The experimental period could be extended further to June 30, 2024.
The Interstate Treaty on Gambling is only concerned with the regulation of Germany’s sports betting market. There is no mention of online casino and poker in the legislative piece. Schleswig-Holstein, which has issued licenses for the provision of online sports betting, casino, and poker products under its own liberalized regime, will be able to renew those licenses and run its regime along with the federal framework, it became known.
Under the third version of the Interstate Treaty on Gambling, licensed sports betting operators will be taxed at 5% on their turnover. The taxation provision has been part of all versions of the legislation since its original introduction in 2012. It should be noted that using turnover as a taxation basis has not been a particularly popular approach toward taxing gambling services in most of Europe’s regulated markets. Under Schleswig-Holstein’s regulatory regime, operators pay a 20% tax on their annual revenues.
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In the pre-dawn darkness of 5:50 a.m., the president, 72, went back to a treasured subject: himself and what he views as his history-making success in the Oval Office.
He typically disregarded any undesirable truths of his administration, such as the numerous guilty pleas and indictments versus previous Trump authorities and project employees as Robert Mueller examines accusations of collusion in between him and Russia.
““ I significantly value Nancy Pelosi’’ s declaration versus impeachment, however everybody needs to keep in mind the small truth that I never ever did anything incorrect, the Economy and Unemployment are the very best ever, Military and Vets are fantastic –– and lots of other successes!” ” Trump composed .
He continued , rhetorically, “ How do you impeach a male who is thought about by lots of to be the President with the most effective very first 2 years in history, particularly when he has not done anything incorrect and impeachment is for ‘‘ high criminal activities and misdemeanors’’? ”
The speaker had actually formerly taken a mindful tone when going over potentially impeaching the president– a course extensively considered as politically stuffed, though its advocates — state with so couple of examples in American history it stays to be seen how a brand-new trial would play out in the general public.
. ASSOCIATED VIDEO: Melania and Ivanka Tried to Stop President Trump from Tweeting however ‘ No One Could Do It ’.
Pelosi, 78, discussed that in her Post interview.
“ Impeachment is so dissentious to the nation that unless there ’ s something frustrating and so engaging and bipartisan, I put on ’ t believe we must decrease that course, since it divides the nation ” she stated. “ And he ’ s simply not worth it. ”
On Twitter Wednesday, Trump did not stop at matching his political challenger.
Seconds apart, he likewise published 2 exclamations : ““ MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” ” And then , ““ KEEP AMERICA GREAT!””
His Wednesday schedule, launched to journalism, reveals he is set to get a series of policy instructions followed by a conference with Republican senators and an image with the brand-new White House interns.