Google Begins Testing Password-Free Logins

passwords Google confirmed this morning it’s now testing a new way to sign into your Google account without having to type in a password. Instead, those who have been invited to try this new method of logging in authenticate by responding to a notification sent to their smartphone. The idea is similar to Yahoo’s recently launched “Account Key,” which also offers a… Read More

Games Like Angry Birds Friends And Risk Hit The Chromecast Right Before The Holidays

55810660-14e0-4f45-ae4a-10040359a15b We’ve gotten a fair bit of play out of Google’s latest $35 Chromecast leading up to the holidays. The games are pretty fun, and you can’t beat it for the price. In time for said holidays, a few more games are being shoved out to keep your family yelling at the screen. Angry Birds Friends and Driver Speedboat Paradise are two of the titles, created just for Chromecast,… Read More

12 Awesome HubSpot Resources That Won’t Cost You a Dime

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In the midst of holiday shopping and seasonal sales, it's easy to get caught up in spending. But sometimes, the best things are free. 

Over the years, HubSpot has developed a number of free tools and programs that we love to share with others.

In celebration of the giving season, we've packaged up 12 days of free features that you can use, no strings attached. (Well, maybe they're tied up with a proverbial bow.)

12 Free Features & Tools for Marketers

1) HubSpot CRM

Give your sales team everything they've hoped for and more this holiday season: an entire, all-in-one customer relationship management platform. For free.

Our CRM is easy to adopt and helps businesses automate their sales processes to save time, money, and energy. HubSpot CRM comes with a searchable database to simplify researching and prospecting, powerful browser and email integrations, and impressive enrichment capabilities. 

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2) Free Stock Photos

Why pay for stock photos when you can get them for free? HubSpot's new site, freestockphotos.org, catalogs photos that you can use for blog posts, social media, or wherever else you need high quality photos. The site is broken down into categories such as office supplies, technology and cities to facilitate your browsing. Not to mention, all photos are tagged and searchable. New photos are being added consistently, so keep checking back as you work on projects. 

3) Website Grader

How's your website doing? Great websites are key to attracting (and keeping) traffic. This free tool grades four key areas of your website: performance, mobile, SEO, and security. See how you rate in each of these areas and get actionable tips to make your website even better than it already is.

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4) Academy

Learning can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be. HubSpot's Academy is a tuition-free way to get inspired and learn new things. In-depth courses show you how to set up campaigns, create content, optimize pages, and nurture leads.

Learn better by doing? Academy also offers Projects -- a series of step-by-step guides that help your leverage HubSpot tools to reach your goals -- so you can learn as you go! 

5) Sidekick

The easiest way to know when your email has been opened? Sidekick.

This tool helps put the data in your hands about who, when, and where your emails are accessed. Emailing doesn't have to be a dreaded activity -- make your inbox work for you instead.

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6) Inbound.org

Inbound.org is the ultimate community of marketers. Members can stay informed about what's happening with their inbound marketing peers and connect with new people who are passionate about the same things. More than 500,000 members are already taking advantage of this free-ness -- don't be left out!

7) Inbound Certification

Expand your skills and grow your career with our free inbound certification. You'll learn things that can be instantly applied to your organization and help you grow your career. If you're looking for a job, it's not bad to have on your resume either. 

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8) Marketing Salary Grader

Wondering how your salary stacks up against other marketers? This tool shows you where your salary ranks among your peers in similar geographic areas, with similar levels of experience. Oh, and it also gives some fun personality facts to compare with others.

9) INBOUND Decks

Missed out on HubSpot's annual INBOUND event? No worries. The slides from the 250+ inspiring speakers have been posted online. Yep, that means you can do all the learning, for free, without ever leaving your desk. Get insights from amazing INBOUND speakers like Joel Comm, Jason Miller, and Marcus Sheridan on topics ranging from getting inbound marketing buy-in to selling the inbound way. 

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10) Marketing Library

If you're looking for templates, guides, or in-depth ebooks, the marketing library is your one-stop shop. (Metaphorically, of course, because the content is all free). The library includes a range of topics and styles including presentation templates for sales meetings, budget spreadsheet templates, and webinars from remarkable marketers such as Oli Gardner and Noah Kagan.

11) State of Inbound

Check out the latest report on the state of inbound marketing and sales. The result of surveying nearly 4,000 marketing and sales professionals is an in-depth look at the priorities and challenges of your peers. 

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12) Leadin

Leadin is the free tool that gives you insights about visitors to your site. With a quick, 5-minute setup, the plugin is easy to use and immediately helpful. 

Nobody likes wasting money, so we're always on the lookout for free ways to get the job done. Celebrate the season of giving this year by showing others how to save themselves money (and time) with awesome free tools.

free resources for building an inbound team

Google Brings Its Interactive, 360-Degree “Spotlight Stories” To YouTube

SLS_SpecialDelivery_Twitter_1 (1) Google is bringing its Spotlight Stories – immersive, 360-degree animated videos meant to introduce a new form of storytelling – to YouTube, the company announced this morning. The first story to arrive is a holiday film called “Special Delivery,” from Wallace and Gromit creators Aardman Animations. This movie will now be viewable on the YouTube app on many Android… Read More

Shopping? Watch out. Your Facebook posts and zip code may be lowering your credit score.

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Are you panicking about last-minute gift shopping?

Here’s another reason to worry: where you choose to shop might affect your credit score.

Most of us are probably aware of many ways in which the holidays might not be good for our finances—including the fact that a higher credit card balance can contribute to a lower credit score

But this shopping season may affect your creditworthiness in more ways than you think

Over the past few years, a number of companies have started to apply big data analytics to credit scoring, broadening credit metrics beyond the traditional factors like as your payment history and the amounts you owe. Read more...

More about Facebook, Personal Finance, Money, Business, and Credit Scores

21 of the Best Podcasts, Movies, Shows, Books & Apps to Keep You Entertained While Traveling

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Whether you're driving across town, stuck on a layover, or settling down for an overnight train ride, you're going to have some time to kill the next time you travel. If you're anything like me, spending hours window shopping at the airport or scrolling aimlessly through your Facebook News Feed feels like a total waste of time.

But there are much better ways to pass the time while traveling -- which is why we've curated a list of our absolute favorite movies, TV shows, podcasts, books, and apps that our readers might also enjoy.

Whether you have thirty minutes, two hours, or five hours to kill, we've included plenty of options.

Pro Tip: If you're into the podcasts on this list, the free app Stitcher lets you make playlists of all your favorite podcasts.

Under 1 Hour

1) NextDraft (Free App)

NextDraft is hands down my favorite newsletter, which you can either get in your inbox every day or check on your own time via their free app. What is it? It's ten quick summaries of the most fascinating news stories of the day, shared in a way that's expertly written, witty, and always relevant. 

If this sounds interesting to you, download it now in preparation for your trip so you have plenty to catch up on.

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Image Credit: NextDraft

2) Pocket (Free App)

The great thing about reading articles while you travel is that you finally have time to read the whole thing (instead of just skimming the first few paragraphs), and then actually reflect on what you've just read. Pocket is a place for you to save all those articles you stumble on when you don't have time to read them.

It lets you save articles, videos, and images either from your browser or from over 1,500 apps like Twitter, Flipboard, Pulse, and Zite. While you're traveling, you can open Pocket -- no internet connection needed -- and finally spend time reading through, digesting, and pondering all the cool stuff you've saved.

3) Headspace (Free App)

Headspace calls itself "a gym membership for your mind." It's an app that helps you learn how to meditate -- which you can totally do inconspicuously on the train, bus, or airplane. All it takes to learn meditation and mindfulness is ten minutes on the app.

4) Duolingo (Free App)

Ever wanted to learn a new language, or just brush up on those French skills from high school? Duolingo is an awesome app that makes learning languages fun -- and you can make progress in only a few minutes, if that's all you have. Each lesson is short, painless, and legitimately enjoyable. Slate called it "the most productive means of procrastination I've ever discovered."

The languages available are Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Russian, Polish, Esperanto, Turkish, Norwegian, and Ukrainian.

You'll need headphones to listen to pronunciation. And while speaking isn't required, be warned that you may want to repeat words out loud to practice your pronunciation.

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Image Credit: Google Play

5) This.cm (Website)

Itching to get lost in a rabbit hole of great internet content? This.cm is a website that curates some of the best links on the internet. If you're looking for entertaining, relevant stories, it's a great place to spend some time. You'll need internet connection to browse, though.

6) Death, Sex & Money (Podcast)

This is my colleague Ginny Soskey's favorite podcast of all time -- and it happens to be one of the best in the business. It's hosted by Anna Sale and covers the big questions and hard voices that are often left out of polite conversation.

Nicholas Quah of The Vulture wrote: "Anna Sale is the absolute best at exploring difficult, intimate, and harrowing topics — loss, loneliness, survival, being left behind, pain, secrets, sex (or lack thereof) -- while maintaining a deep, deep sense of dignity for the people she interviews."

7) The Message (Podcast)

Ever hear of Orson Welles' radio drama "The War of the Worlds" from 1938 about an alien invasion of Earth? Here's a fictional podcast that's also about aliens, albeit with a much more modern take: It's a fake pop-science series about cryptographers investigating mysterious transmissions. It was produced by General Electric, making it a great example of native advertising and branded content in podcasts.

If you liked the Serial podcast and enjoy science-fiction, this one could be a great choice for your next trip. David Sims wrote for The Atlantic"The Message is clearly inspired by the success of Serial, but it plays with the format in a creative way." My colleague loved it so much, she started and finished the entire series during her drive home for Thanksgiving. If you want to break it into smaller chunks, each episode is between 10–20 minutes long.

8) Freakonomics (Podcast)

How do you win a Nobel Prize? Should kids pay back their parents for raising them? What are the tactics of competitive eating? The Freakonomics podcast will challenge your perspective on some common (and some not-so-common) issues, from gossip to violence to exercise -- and all from an economic perspective.

It's the type of content that really makes you think, and delivers a good framework for how you should approach analyzing everyday things in your work and personal life. 

9) BBC's Global News (Podcast)

Getting news from podcasts can be a lot more efficient than getting them from articles -- especially if you're prone to getting sucked into the black hole of "recommended reading" sections. BBC's Global News podcast is especially great because it curates some of the best stories they've covered from a global perspective. Each episode is about thirty minutes long.

1–2 Hours

10) Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! (Podcast)

If you like keeping up with current events but get bored with the normal format, NPR's weekly podcast could be a perfect match. It's a quiz-style news show that catches you up on current events in a fun and totally unique format, where you'll have to test your knowledge against guest stars and figure out what's real news and what they totally made up.

11) You Made It Weird (Podcast)

Here's another personal favorite of mine. In this podcasthost Pete Holmes interviews comedians (for the most part) and covers comedy, relationships, and God. The best part about this podcast is that it's unstructured, so it's just like listening in on a great conversation. Holmes is very open and does a good job of creating an environment where guests want to open up.

Each episode lasts anywhere from 90 minutes to 2+ hours, so if you download a few before you leave, you'll get through your flights with some top-notch entertainment.

12) "Moneyball" (Movie, 2011)

One of the underlying principles of inbound marketing is that you can bring some sense of order to chaos using a methodical, data-driven approach. The movie illustrates how sports learned the same lesson. Starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, it's based on a true story of the general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team who was faced with a tight budget and had to reinvent his team by outsmarting the richer baseball teams.

It may sound like it's all baseball all the time, but you don't need to be a big sports fan to enjoy this movie: It earned a 94% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

13) "Particle Fever" (Documentary, 2014)

If you're at all captivated by science, the universe, and the unknown, then you're gonna love this option. In the documentary, scientists recreate conditions from the big bang theory to investigate the origin of matter and unravel the mysteries of the universe.

Not a science nerd? Don't be intimidated by the subject matter. The producers did an amazing job presenting it in such a way that anyone can understand and enjoy. Plus, it earned a 96% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

14) "Thank You For Smoking" (Movie, 2006)

Here's a super interesting movie on sales and marketing positioning -- from the days when it wasn't so noble. It's about a big tobacco lobbyist struggling to balance his duties defending tobacco with those of being a good role model for his young son. It earned an 86% critic rating and 87% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

15) "Glengerry Glen Ross" (Movie, 1992)

Looking for another great movie on sales and marketing position from the olden days? Here's an oldie but goodie that any marketing or sales professional would appreciate. It's a movie based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by the same name. The movie is about a team of New York City real estate salesmen who are told that everyone except the top two reps will be fired by the end of the week. Talk about "survival of the fittest." It earned a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Here's a famous scene from the movie featuring a monologue from actor Alec Baldwin on how to "always be closing."

(Warning: NSFW language.)

16) "Man On Wire" (Documentary, 2008)

Here's a documentary that'll have you holding your breath -- even though you know how it ends. It's about a young French man named Phillippe Petit who, in 1974, decided he wanted to (illegally) string a wire between the New York World Trade Center's twin towers. After dancing for nearly an hour on the wire, he was arrested, taken for psychological evaluation, and brought to jail before being released.

The documentary incorporates Petit's personal footage with modern film and interviews -- and it's absolutely mesmerizing. It earned a whopping 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, making it a guaranteed worthwhile way to spend an hour and a half of travel time.

Over 2 Hours

17) "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst" (Documentary Miniseries, 2015)

Here's one of the best and most controversial documentaries from 2015. If you haven't seen it yet ... well it's gripping, not to mention a phenomenal example of great storytelling.

It's about a man named Robert Durst, son of a New York real estate mogul and suspect of three notorious murder cases over three decades. He was arrested on first-degree murder charges the day before the finale aired. (Just wait until you see the finale.) The HBO miniseries is broken up into six episodes, each of which run under an hour.

It won two 2015 Emmy Awards, including best documentary or nonfiction series, and earned a 94% critic review and 98% audience review on Rotten Tomatoes.

18) "Mad Men" (TV Series)

This multi-season television series is a big commitment ... but let's be honest, this is to marketing what "Boiler Room" and "Glengarry Glen Ross" is to sales. It's about a Madison Avenue advertising firm in the 1960s -- and alpha male Don Draper's struggles to stay on top of the heap in a high-pressure world. For marketers like us, it's a fascinating look at how things in marketing used to be, which gives us context to help drive changes in our own companies.

Starting with Season 1? Great choice: It got an 87% critic review and a 95% audience review on Rotten Tomatoes.

19) Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds For the Better (Book)

If you're trying to get some serious reading done while you travel, here's a great choice. Smarter Than You Think is a brilliantly written book by science and technology writer Clive Thompson about how the introduction of new technology advances our society and extend the way we think. Moreover, it's nice counterargument to similar books which decry that the internet is making us lazy, dumb, and isolated.

20) Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things No One Taught You About Being Creative (Book)

This book by Austin Kleon is an interesting, quick read on how to come up with creative ideas. It's based on the premise that that no idea is original -- and it walks you through ways to collect ideas, remix existing ones, and get in touch with your inner creative.

Listen to the book's author talk about some of the ideas in the book at a TEDx conference to see if it's up your alley:

21) Contagious: Why Things Catch On (Book)

Here's another great book for marketers, written by Jonah Berger, the Wharton professor and best-selling author my colleague Carly Stec interviewed for her blog post on the secret formula for ideas that take off. In Berger's book, he talks about why some ideas catch on -- and others don't -- by highlighting his research on social influence and word-of-mouth.

Now, then: Go forth and travel without getting bored!

What other movies, shows, podcasts, books, and apps would you add to this list? Share with us in the comments.

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Increasing Engagement for Regional Publications

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AOL may have scaled back its Patch.com presence in 2013, but the market opportunity for regional publications is still alive and strong.

Community newsletters and magazines are timeless concepts, and they’re gaining in popularity in the digital ecosystem, too. Just take a look at the following study from Havas PR UK: local newspapers took the lead for most trusted and popular local news source. Despite this, print has been declining as a percentage of total revenue for local magazines since 2005. For local publications to hold their place in the minds and hearts of readers, a change in direction is a must.

Media brands like 5280 in Denver and D in Dallas have built strong followings in their local markets by experimenting with personalized newsletters, content marketing for their advertisers, and more channels for monetization. They’re riding the line between news and entertainment and have an opportunity to explore new monetization and engagement opportunitiesAnd it’s not so daunting to do the same if you know where to start.

Regional publications face a lot of competition to stand out, and there’s lots of room for improvement. Many of these initiatives will require long-term planning and experimentation. Here are some tips to guide you:

Keep a Clean Database

Even though you’re a local publisher, you’re still attracting readers from around the world. You’ll want to pay attention to this distinction: it impacts the monetization channels that you choose for each audience segment.

With local readers, for instance, you have many creative ways to drive revenue. You can sell tickets to local events, sponsor your own events, and work with local advertisers. It doesn’t make sense, however, to target these same offers to outsiders who are looking in and observing.

When building your lists, keep track of who lives where. Account for the fact that people are mobile: in your sign-up process, ask whether your new subscribers ever visit your region. Here are some tips to help you facilitate that process: 

  • Run a sample survey among your audience base
  • Use LiveChat software to reach readers in the moment, with specific questions 
  • Collect some data in the sign-up process, and let audiences know that you might be asking some follow-up questions in the future
  • Cross-check your lists with a third party data provider, if there is one available (it will vary by region and industry). Note: This does NOT mean you should purchase lists for mailing

This perspective will help you keep things organized and improve the efficiency of your monetization efforts.

Build Audience Profiles 

When it comes to ad targeting, demographic data is only one piece of the puzzle. Marketers also need access to psychographic, behavioral, and interest-based data—and when it comes to using data to build campaigns, accuracy is the ‘name of the game.’ It’s critical to be reaching actual people with buying intent. 

As a media company, it pays to have this data in-hand and to be able to execute campaigns efficiently—the more ROI you’re able to deliver, the more likely your readers are to come back. Advertisers will want to know audience preferences around nightlife activity, restaurant preferences, and general habits around town. With this data, you can also build custom audience profiles—which means that you’ll be able to target your readers off-platform, through channels like Facebook or Twitter

With the right information, you can help advertisers write better sponsored content and offer more relevant promotions. With true audience profiles, everyone in the equation wins: readers get better offers, advertisers improve their targeting, and publishers can offer more value.

Gate Local Promotions 

Chances are that your company attracts awesome advertisers who have great local promotions to share. As a middleman, you’re giving away value—and your audience knows it. It doesn’t hurt to ask for something in return.

The most valuable asset that your audiences can provide is information. What local events do the enjoy attending? What advertiser offers would they find valuable?

Identify four or five questions that are relevant to your team and advertisers. Then, gate your free offers. Give your audiences full transparency into your decision for gating your content. Create a win-win scenario for your audiences and advertisers, making sure to emphasize the value that you bring to the table as a regional publisher, too.

Plan to Segment Your Marketing Efforts 

As you collect more data about your audience, you’ll start to build clearer customer segments. With this information in mind, you can better target your list-building efforts and marketing campaigns. Along the way, you’ll offer more value to your advertisers: you can guarantee that you’re reaching local audiences and share data around reader interests too.

It may take some time to create a long-term segmentation strategy, but the key is to just get started. Collect information about the articles that subscribers are reading, and make sure you know each account-holder’s geography. This approach will help you implement the bare bones of a segmentation strategy that you can use to test and refine different versions of your newsletter. And don’t wait until you’re segmentation strategy is “perfect.” You can start now.

Many local magazines, for instance, already segment their websites by news, dining, politics, music, and other content categories. These topics can be powerful starting points for pairing online activity with information that audiences volunteer during the data collection process. The goal is to pair online activity with data and then connect specific advertisers to ‘smart content’ that is interest based.

This process will become more refined over time. Start collecting data sooner rather than later to refine your targeting process.

Focus on Delivering Value

Running a regional publication, you’re in a position to deliver unique value to your audiences and advertisers. The key to success here? You need to build comprehensive audience profiles so that you can better serve them with high-quality content and marketing messages.

Unlike larger, broad-scale media companies, you have instant access to (and a close rapport with) a niche, local community. In a world where advertisers and publishers alike are tackling the complexities of ‘marketing at scale,’ you don’t suffer from the same pain point. It’s your advantage—your gem. Harness it to build an amazing media brand, and monetization will fall into place.

free guide: why publishers need to think like marketers

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12 Handy Tips for Running Better Remote Meetings

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Whether you're meeting with colleagues who are working from home that day, or with clients located half a world away, running a productive and effective remote meeting can be a challenge.

When you're face-to-face with people, it can feel much easier to communicate efficiently and gauge how they're feeling and reacting to different ideas.

But when you're meeting virtually, it can seem like some attendees sort of ... disappear into the abyss.

Here's a pretty hilarious video poking fun at some of the challenges people face when conducting a remote meeting:

Hits a little close to home, doesn't it?

While remote meetings will likely never achieve the same level of intimacy as face-to-face meetings, there are ways to make them more effective and productive. To help you get more value out or your remote meetings, we've come up with 12 top tips for running better ones. Check 'em out.

12 Tips for Better Remote Meetings

1) Choose the right remote meetings tool for your needs.

Perhaps the most important thing about running a remote meeting is the tool you use to run it. Different team and meeting arrangements may call for different types of tools. If you're meeting with someone for the first time, or you're meeting with people in a country whose meeting tools you aren't familiar with, consider asking them ahead of time which tools they'd prefer. Not everyone is familiar with the ones you use on a day-to-day basis, and you don't want to add any stress to the meeting around logistics.

Here's a list of some of the best ones out there. If you're looking for even more tools, here's our full list.

  • GoToMeeting: A robust and reliable online meetings program that boasts screen sharing and great call quality.
  • Google Hangouts: Often the most convenient options, thanks to the ubiquity of Google -- especially if you're using Google Calendar to manage your schedule.
  • Join.meGreat for fast and easy screenshare meetings.
  • Kato: Lets you use chat, video, audio, or screen sharing to collaborate with your coworkers -- for free. Bonus: All of your conversations are searchable.
  • Uber Conference: No meeting PIN numbers, among other features, means a much less painful conference call experience. It also allows screen sharing and has a mobile app.
  • Skype: A decent option for chatting with folks all over the world -- even though it can be a little finicky sometimes.

2) Include a dial-in option.

This deserves its own tip. Many remote meeting tools are designed to work primarily over internet connections. But what happens if someone's internet goes down or slows down? It's important to give the option for folks to listen to the meeting and talk over the phone.

3) Be mindful of time zones.

If you're the one setting up the meeting, be sure to set it for a time that works for everyone on the attendee list. There's nothing worse than realizing you've been scheduled for a meeting that at 6:00 a.m. your time -- or in the evening when you'd normally have other plans.

There are a lot of great time zone apps out there, but we recommend World Time Buddy:

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4) Avoid rescheduling or canceling last-minute.

Hey, having to reschedule or cancel a meeting last-minute happens. What's important is how you go about doing it. Before you simply change the time on the calendar invitation and call it a day, put yourself in your meeting attendees' shoes. What inconveniences might you be causing? What special plans and arrangements might they have made around your meeting?

A meeting is a commitment, and rescheduling or canceling last-minute is (under most circumstances) a bit rude. If you really have to do it, send a personal note apologizing and explaining the situation.

5) Be crystal clear about how people will be connecting.

This is where the description in the calendar invitation comes in. Don't assume people will see the meeting link you might have attached to the calendar invitation. Instead, be very clear with your instructions on how everyone will be connecting in the calendar invitation description so everyone has it in one place.

Here are some details to include:

  • Repeat the name of the meeting, the date, the time + time zone, and the duration.
  • "HOW TO JOIN:" followed by the meeting information like the meeting PIN number, dial-in number, and any access codes or websites.
  • Contact information for those who have trouble connection.

Also, specify whether video is required beforehand. Ever joined a call with video on when everyone else had it switched off? Awkward.

Pro tip: If you're only meeting with a handful of people who are remote, you may want to require video. It helps people stay focused when they know everyone can see them. Plus, it helps people identify more personally with remote colleagues.

6) Choose your location wisely.

A colleague of mine once had a call with a client whose neighbor was mowing the lawn right outside his home office window. Sounds super distracting, doesn't it?

Moral of the story: Be mindful of where you are and what's going on in the background. Certain rooms are noisier than others, even if you're at home. And while it's probably adorable when your dog jumps on your lap and peers into the camera, you're typically better off letting pets go outside to play before the meeting starts.

7) Have a mobile hotspot ready.

There's always, always a chance that the WiFi where you're located for the meeting will fail right before your meeting starts. That feeling of panic is never a good one. Thankfully, most smartphones have the ability to turn into mobile hotspots -- which has saved me on multiple occasions. Keep in mind that it may add to your data usage and cost you extra. If you have iOS 7, you'll be able to monitor how much data you've used. If you're desperate, though, it could be worth it.

How to Make Your iPhone a Mobile Hotspot

Go to Settings > Cellular > Personal Hotspot, and then tap to turn on the hotspot. Then, follow the instructions on that screen. (Click here for more detailed instructions.)

How to Make Your Android Phone a Mobile Hotspot

The exact menu names can vary slightly, but for most Android phones, go to Settings > More > Wireless & networks > Tethering & portable hotspot. Here, you can choose from a few different tethering options, along with the option to give your hotspot a strong encryption if you're in a public location. (Click here for more detailed instructions.)

8) Join the meeting five minutes early.

Whether you're running the meeting or just attending it, don't waste valuable meeting time setting up the meeting on your end, or troubleshooting if something goes wrong. Instead, plan for at least five minutes of set-up time ahead of schedule whenever possible.

9) Introduce everyone at the very beginning.

It's a personable way to get the meeting started, and it lets everyone know who's actually in attendance -- both in the main office room and on the phone.

10) Mute and silence any distracting sounds.

Mute your microphone while others are presenting to silence any overwhelming background noise (like that darn lawn mower).

In the same vein, turn off your computer sounds and notifications, especially if you're sharing your screen with the group. It's super distracting for everyone else in the meeting to see pop-ups on your screen while trying to take in the information you're presenting.

11) Don't be too apologetic or deferential when people start speaking over each other.

My colleague Corey Wainwright describes it like driving up to a four-way stop with other cars who get there at the same time. Everyone's gesturing and mouthing to one another, "You go," "No, you go," "No, it's fine, you go!" Then, everyone goes at the same time. And then everyone stops again. 

That's what happens when people try to talk in remote meetings. It's inevitable that two or three people chime in at the same time. At that point, one person should just take the lead instead of being overly apologetic and just talk. 

12) Ask for feedback on how people are feeling or what they're thinking throughout the meeting.

When people meet remotely, especially if there's no video involved, you're missing out on the ability to read facial expressions and body language. That's why it can be useful to solicit feedback on how people are feeling throughout the call. Every five or ten minutes, ask the remote attendees how they're feeling and whether they have any concerns. This'll help the folks who are remote feel involved and like their thoughts are heard and cared for. It also helps you keep track of the emotional pulse of the "room."

What tips do you have for making remote meetings better? Share with us in the comments.

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Google And Ford Will Reportedly Team Up To Build Self-Driving Cars

google-self-driving-car Google and Ford are planning to develop and build self-driving vehicles together in a joint venture and will announce the deal at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, says a report in Yahoo Autos. The partnership would represent a major collaboration between two of the biggest names in the tech and automotive industries. Read More

James Franco and Maker Studios launch new slate of originals

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LOS ANGELES — Just when you thought James Franco couldn't add another thing to his resume, the actor-writer-director is bringing his talents to a new online endeavor.

In partnership with Disney-owned Maker Studios, Franco and his company Rabbit Bandini Productions began rolling out a slate of new originals online Monday.

The four new series, which will be available on Facebook and YouTube, include Sex Scenes, a 16-episode docu-series (each episode is five minutes in length) that follows a master acting class taught by Franco at his own Studio 4; Studio 4: Acting Competition, a separate, 9-episode, competition-based reality series; The Ultimate Evil, a 5-episode series about journalist Maury Terry as he investigates the Son of Sam murders that terrorized New York in the 1970s; and Winesburg, a six-episode collective of short films based on the book Winesberg Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. Read more...

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