By Joshua Weinstein
Luka is our family’s Siberian Husky. I have many adjectives to describe him, but in short, he’s a friendly dog who rarely barks. He prefers dirty over clean and sheds to no end. He also has allergies that make his vocal chords reverberate as though he and Chewbacca are related. Like most huskies, he howls; however, Luka’s howling has always sounded more like a frantic and panicked guttural scream. My daughters enjoy getting Luka to yell, and sometimes he just goes off without their advance prompting. Concerned passerby outside our duplex have even wondered if someone were getting hurt, and I literally brought Luka outside to assuage their worries.
One afternoon, my eldest daughter, Valerie, was in her room doing homework and Luka started his ritualistic howl. She grabbed her iPhone, recorded the performance, posted it to Twitter, and the rest was wildly unanticipated. Over 5 million views and retweets later, Luka went viral. At first, it was cute and fun. Then, the monetization and royalty offers came. At 18, Valerie was legally able to sell the rights to her 30-second clip, and fortunately, she consulted with me on the legitimacy of the company and proposition. After researching the topic, I became fascinated by the evolution of what was once just TV viewers watching “America’s Funniest Home Videos” hosted by Bob Saget. (Incidentally, the show has been renewed through its 31st season.)
Valerie sold the rights to Luka’s video, and the money started rolling in. For a freshman in college, the funds provided respite on tuition and car payments and afforded her some extra cash to save and spend. I was fascinated and gently encouraged her to upload more content. Valerie will be 22 soon, and she’s netted over $10K from the British media rights company that periodically sends “Luka money” her way. The classic Luka videos have been remixed, and the YouTube comments show his fan base is alive and well.
Needless to say, the ability to share video content carries abundant risk and raises privacy concerns, but this Luka business seemed innocent enough. There are just so many clips that have become staples of our current generation. Of those, just a minority go viral and even fewer are culled and selected for being licensed. I’m still sorting through my emotions of having my dog’s wailing propagated as media rights property. Advertisers and algorithms benefit from swarms of online content consumers. In the meantime, and years later, Valerie still receives periodic deposits into her account – her cut of the revenue that’s been generated. All I suggest in return is that she set aside a portion for taxes and give Luka a well-deserved bone.
What do you think about monetizing cute home videos on behalf the world’s internet community and the advertisers that support it?
Here’s the YouTube version of the viral Twitter videos- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_CUrv0aezI
By Joshua Weinstein
I don’t know about your headspace, but mine can race, get easily distracted, and go way too fast. The world moves and changes so quickly, and quite frankly, unless I get a dose of mindfulness on a regular basis, I become a disservice to those around me. The consequences of not slowing down and opening my eyes to what’s really important are numerous, and I gather you know they’re not good. A tech-infused remedy is meditation on tap, via an app for your mobile device called Insight Timer.
The health benefits of meditation are scientifically proven, and better yet, the app is free to download and use. There are hosted meditations of varying durations and topics, timed periods of silence concluded with your choice of ending “bells”, and a variety of ambient background sounds. There are also courses for those committed to their personal path toward enlightenment and self-realization. Those brand new to the practice, or with years of experience, will find one of the most highly rated downloadable apps, one that claims to be voted as the happiest app in the world. So, might I suggest taking three slow, deep intentional breaths and then checking out this community of meditators?
The State of Alaska released a notice containing directions for Alaskans affected by last week’s earthquake to apply for grants and disaster relief, which can be found at http://ready.alaska.gov. This can be very valuable to those struggling to rebuild after damages incurred last week. Please direct inquiries for disaster assistance to this site and feel free to forward this notice to those looking for help. We also posted this on the RISQ website. The link at http://ready.alaska.gov for individual assistance ALSO applies for business disaster relief. Our office contacted the State Emergency Operations Center, a division of Homeland Security, this morning and confirmed businesses are eligible to apply for relief. If you cannot access the web, the hotline is 855-445-7131, or you can call the SEOC directly at 907-428-7100.
KTVA shared more information today on available resources for disaster relief:
Once you have reduced your debt and created a workable spending plan, you’re ready to begin saving toward retirement. You may do this through a company retirement plan or on your own. Here are a few of the places where you might put your money for retirement:
• Savings accounts, money market mutual funds, certificates of deposit (CDs) and U.S. Treasury bills. These are often referred to as cash or cash equivalents because you can get to them quickly and there’s little risk of losing the money you put in.
• Domestic bonds. You loan money to a U.S. company or a government body in return for its promise to pay back what you loaned, with interest.
• Domestic stocks. You own part of a U.S. company.
• Mutual funds. These pool your money with the money of other shareholders and invest it for you, making it easier to invest and to diversify your money.
Where Should You Put Your Money?
For goals you want to accomplish quickly, it’s best to put your money into one or more of the cash equivalents, like a bank deposit. For goals at least five years into the future, such as retirement, consider putting some money into stocks, bonds, real estate, foreign investments, mutual funds or other assets. Keep in mind that these options are uninsured by the federal government, so they carry the risk that you can lose some of your money. Generally, the longer you have until retirement and the greater your other sources of income, the more risk you can afford. For those who are retiring soon and who will depend on their investment for income during retirement, a low-risk investment strategy is more practical. But if you have more time before retirement, investing carefully in options such as stocks and bonds can help you earn significantly more than keeping all your money in a savings account. The greater the risk, the greater the potential reward, but only you can decide how much risk you are comfortable taking.
Since 1926, the average annual return of short-term U.S. Treasury bills, which roughly equals the return of other cash equivalents such as savings accounts, has been 3.9 percent. The annual return of long-term government bonds over the same period has been 5.3 percent. Large-company stocks, on the other hand, while riskier in the short term, have an average annual return of 11.7 percent.
Many experts advise putting at least some of your money in higher-risk, but potentially higher-returning, assets. These high risk assets can help you stay ahead of inflation, which eats away at your nest egg over time. Remember though, choosing investments is your decision – never invest in anything you don’t understand or feel comfortable with.
Reducing Investment Risk
There are two main ways to reduce risk. First, diversify within each category of investment. You can do this by investing in pooled arrangements, such as mutual funds, index funds and bank products offered by reliable professionals. These investments typically give you a small share of different individual investments and allow you to spread your money among many stocks, bonds and other assets, even if you don’t invest a lot of money. Your risk of losing money is less than if you buy shares in only a few individual companies.
Second, you can reduce risk by investing among different categories of investments. Generally speaking, you should put some of your money in cash, some in bonds, some in stocks and some in other investment vehicles. The factors that cause one investment to do poorly may cause another to do well. Bond prices for example, often go down when stock prices are up (and vice versa). By diversifying into different types of assets, you are more likely to reduce risk and improve return than if you put all your money into one investment or one investment category.
Deciding on an Investment Mix
How you diversify is called asset allocation. Your decision will depend on many factors, including how many years until your retirement, the size of your current nest egg, other sources of retirement income, how much risk you are willing to take, your current financial picture, and so on. Your asset allocation will also change over time. When you are younger, you might invest more heavily in stocks than bonds and cash. As you get older, you may reduce your exposure to stocks and hold more in bonds and cash. You also may change your asset allocation as your goals, risk tolerance or financial situation change.
Rebalancing Your Portfolio
Once you’ve decided on your investment mix and invested your money, some of your investments will go up and others will go down over time. Eventually, you will have a different investment mix than you intended. Reassessing your mix, or “rebalancing,” brings your portfolio back to your original plan. Rebalancing also helps you to make more logical investment decisions. Let’s say your original investment called for 10 percent in U.S. small company stocks. Because of a stock market decline, they now represent 6 percent of your portfolio. You would sell assets that had increased and purchase enough U.S. small company stocks so they again represent 10 percent of your portfolio.
How do you know when to rebalance? There are two methods of rebalancing: calendar and conditional. Calendar rebalancing means that once a quarter or once a year you reduce the investments that have gone up and add to investments that have gone down. Conditional rebalancing is done whenever an asset class goes up or down more than a certain percentage. This method lets the market tell you when it is time to rebalance.
Article adapted from the U.S. Department of Labor publication of the same title. www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/about-ebsa/our-activities/resource-center/publications/savingsfitness
Many American households have at least one pet. In any given year, one in three of these beloved family members will need costly veterinary care, even if it is for routine exam visits and vaccinations. Should a pet become severely ill and need emergency care, costs can sometimes be more than pet owners can bear. However, if they have pet insurance, owners will never have to make a decision about their pets wellbeing based on cost.
Though pet insurance is a nontraditional benefit and is generally paid for by the employee, it is becoming increasingly popular in the workplace to help employees care for their pets without going bankrupt. This benefit is particularly valuable, as pet care is increasingly expensive. In fact, offering insurance for man’s best friend is a great marketing and PR initiative for companies that want to add to their image of being a great place to work.
Pets typically visit the vet for the following reasons:
• Accident care
• Illness care
• Routine preventive care
• Lab work
• Diagnostic testing
• Prescription therapy
These services are the same or similar to the reasons why you or your employees would visit the doctor, and often carry a steep price tag. Specifically, here are the typical costs for the following common pet injuries and illnesses:
• Dog involved in a motor vehicle accident = $4,890
• Dog or cat ingesting a foreign body = $4,280
• Dog cancer treatments = $3,570
• Dog bladder infection treatment = $2,760
• Dog hip dysplasia = $2,390
• Cat fractured leg = $2,300
• Cat pneumonia treatment = $1,900
• Cat diabetes treatments = $1,740
Employers sign up for a group discount code that can be used by their employees, typically without a minimum enrollment number required. Then, pet owners can select a coverage percentage or monthly premium that will work best for their budget and needs. Under the policy, the pet must have an annual examination and the owners must adhere to the recommendations given by the veterinarians to remain covered. Beyond that, most policies do not cover existing conditions or injuries but do assist in paying for the following:
• New accidents and injuries
• Cancer care
• Heartworm therapy
• Flea control
• Dental care
Compare Your Options
If your organization is considering this benefit for your employees, consider asking the pet insurance companies the following questions before making your selection:
• How long has your company been in business?• Is coverage available in our area?
• Is coverage available where our employees may travel?
• Can employees use any veterinarian and animal hospital?
• Do you offer discounts for multiple pets?
• What are your customer service hours and availability?
• What are the coverage plan options available to employees? What are the deductible options?
• What is the average annual premium increase?
• Can our company lock in a premium rate?
• Is there a penalty for changing plans?
• Is preapproval for services required?
• What are the limits to the policy? Lifetime caps?
• Can employees find out the insurance reimbursement before authorizing their pet’s veterinarian to perform procedures?
• Do reimbursement amounts vary depending on the specific veterinarian’s fees?
• Can pets be dropped from the coverage? If so, why?
• What is the claims filing process?
• How long does it typically take to receive payment for a claim?
• How are claim disputes resolved?
• How does the policy determine reimbursement for claims?
• Is there a maximum amount paid per procedure? Per calendar year? Per disease?
• What diseases are excluded from the policy coverage?
• Are there breed-specific diseases excluded from the policy coverage?
• Are pre-existing conditions covered after a certain amount of time?
• Are alternative medicine techniques covered?
• Are consultations with specialists covered? Second opinions? After-hours emergency care?
• Does the policy provide coverage for behavioral problems?
• Is preventive care covered (vaccinations, heartworm testing, spaying/neutering, dental work, flea/tick control, microchipping, etc.)?
If you are considering offering this benefit to your employees, visit www.petinsurancereview.com. This site will allow you to compare various pet insurance carriers and read feedback about different carriers from other pet owners and employers. Then, you can decide which company would suit your employee group the best.
By Andrew Kupperman
We all have something inside of us to share with the world. The work that we do 5 days a week hopefully leads us to unleash whatever that something is, in one way or another. I love reading, watching, and listening to Marcus Buckingham’s blog because he offers and explains the best ways for all of us to get there in such a simple, yet innovative way. It does not hurt that he has a British accent either! Whether you lead others or not, I feel Marcus’s blog has something available to help you communicate and achieve unleashing what’s important to you, as well as helping others do so.
By Tiffany Stock
“The power of positive thinking” seems a little cliché, but James Clear’s article “How Positive Thinking Builds Your Skills, Boosts Your Health, and Improves Your Work,” demonstrates that those words should be considered more important. Bringing positivity into your life has many benefits beyond the obvious. I encourage you all to check out this article and not put limits on your potential in all areas of life!
By Tonya Mott
Over the past couple of years, my colleagues and I participated in various types of team building activities, which resulted in creating true team synergy and building relationships and trust; all of which are necessary assets for a high performing team. The different types of team building events range from, ‘just for fun,’ to charitable and more structured.
Check out the different activities and pictures of us in action.
Structured Team Building:
Camp Gorsuch – Mirror Lake
Stoney Creek Zipline – Seward
Just For Fun:
Anchorage Cycle & Yoga – Cycle & Aerial Yoga
Tube Park – Arctic Valley Ski Area
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer – Team Becky’s Babes supporting our colleague, breast cancer survivor, Rebecca Mahaney
Alaska SPCA – Sponsor an Adoption Day
Here is an example of a flyer we put together for the Adoption Day we sponsored:
Anchorage City Wide Cleanup
Haven’t done yet but our planning on it!
Hero for Life – CPR Class
What in the world is Kangoo? Check out this youtube video!
By Ashley Snodgrass
I start my morning with theSkimm – a short email newsletter designed to get you the day’s news in less time than it takes to brush your teeth. I’ve always been a news junkie, but there are only so many hours in the day to read news stories from state, national, and international publications. theSkimm is email that arrives in your inbox each morning, bringing you the news highlights of the day to keep you educated on current events, prepping you for conversations around the office and with business associates.
I enjoy reading theSkimm because it is brief, and includes some news that I might not stumble upon typically. This is a great tool for busy professionals that like to start each day by knowing what in the world is going on in the world.
Check out a recent edition of theSkimm here: