Why Is Life Just So Damned Hard at Present?

It’s a fair enough question beckoning the attention of everyone from time to time. The trouble is all the bad stuff of life is accumulating in the conscious mind – and hellishness is the felt result. Could I interest you in a better answer? One that could stave off the cloud of hopelessness…

At the level of the conscious moment, when all those little humps and bumps on the road are most adept at ruffling us, another thing remains which is barely noted, but it nonetheless exists: it is patience beyond the moment’s despair. Indeed, it’s a tired message – but one eternally relevant, whether it’s needed for this moment or not.

Fighting Inner Anxiety?

Riling anger that pervades without is a sign of panic within.

External circumstances are what they are, and besides a wretched run of luck, these times are ever present in everyone’s life. It’s just not attributed as a concern during ‘good’ times, that’s all. (Isn’t it funny how ‘accepting’ we are of others’ struggles as they don’t impinge on us?)

The more one person focuses on bad matters or untoward things the more they attract them. So, is it a matter of focus? That’s part of the issue, but it’s inherent to our natures as well.

Fighting the inner anxiety it isn’t, not so much as it’s staying philosophical about life. A lack of focus contributes, but much re-focussing is wearying. The philosophical approach is more ‘user friendly’ (to coin an old phrase); it’s being more realistic.

Breaking Life Down and Expanding It Out

As trials and gloominess occur, threatening our composure, hope and sanity, we can best reflect over the actual issues.

There are possibly four, five or ten things that are troubling us, but one or two of these is more pivotal than the others. Each of these by themselves could be handled. Therefore, we have the opportunity to remind ourselves that these pressures need not be cumulative. Breaking life down creates logic that diminishes the size of our problems. Thus, breathing space and realism is afforded, steadying our way.

Likewise, the opposite ‘bigger’ opportunity remains… too much negative focus is creating tunnel vision to the exclusion of the better things that are always visible. Expanding our vision of life is reminding us that being here is still to be cherished; that much of life is still great.

Four Tips for Technical Experts Who Need to Present to Senior Management Audiences

I recently conducted a survey on how technical experts – like finance executives – can better present themselves to senior management. Here are some of the insights from the survey, the common problems faced by presenters and some solutions on making sure your next presentation to senior executives is received in a positive light.

Common problems faced by technical presenters

Technical presenters have a strong tendency to focus on the ‘how’ of the content rather than the outcome. Technical presenters tend to either over explain the technical aspects of their presentation, even though they are facing a savvy audience who have a good grasp of the technicalities. Or they get too bogged down in the numbers and miss the overarching purpose of the presentation, meeting or conference call which is often to help the senior executive to make a decision.

I would like to share four tips that you can apply to improve your presentation skills when communicating up to a senior executive audience.

Tip 1: Understand your audience’s motivations so you know why are in this meeting

In The One Minute Presenter, a key step is Treasure your Audience. The main purpose of understanding your audience in detail is to go deeper into their motivations and hot buttons. This understanding helps the technical presenter prepare for meetings. Ask key questions like, “Why is the senior executive joining this meeting?” Is it to gain a brief overview on a topic, an update, a summary or to receive your input on a critical time-sensitive business issue which needs a decision?

Tip 2: Technical literacy quick check

When thinking about your content and how deep to go into the technicalities, think about the literacy of the senior executive on this issue. Are they familiar in depth with the issue? If they are, don’t start from the beginning when introducing the topic. Is the senior manager highly literate but not as familiar with the local differences on which you are an expert? Then skip explaining broad concepts and get into the specifics. Don’t worry if you skip too far ahead, the senior executive will ask you a question.

Tip 3: Think through your presentation’s timing

When you are preparing your content or your slide presentation, ask yourself how much time you have to deliver. If you have twenty minutes and twenty slides of packed data charts, are you allowing yourself enough time for the audience to digest them? Is there a better way to extract your message from each slide and highlight it in a clear slide? Consider using handouts when you need to pass on a record of the data to your audience. Build in some time for questions into your presentation time in case you are asked a series of questions or time is cut from your delivery time. If you have twenty minutes to present, then arrange fifteen minutes of content.

Tip 4: Produce your message for every presentation

Even if you are delivering a frequent update for a weekly management meeting, think about what your message in a nutshell is for every meeting. Press yourself to find a link between your message and the motivations and interests of the senior executives. The more relevant you can make your message to their driving issues, the more likely you are get their attention and receive positive comments. You have to speak to the issues that are important to senior management. They often look at the same topics in a different light. They are more likely to take a broader look or apply a wider scope to the topic. Remember that they are likely to have shifting priorities based on the current state of the business. Are you able to link your topics to the major issues like total revenue, profit margins, share price, market share, and others. Can you fit your topic into those issues?


While you are a technical expert and are valued for the insights you bring, when facing senior management you may need to adjust your content and dig out a message that is in line with the senior executives current reality.

How to Negotiate Down Credit Card Debt Yourself

It’s very easy to start drowning in credit card debt very quickly. All it takes is the loss of a job, large medical bills, or other unforeseen expenses or setbacks to put you on a trail that leads to high interest payments and ultimately financial ruin. However, if you are in over your head currently, there is a way out. You may be able to negotiate down your credit card debt.

The most effective way to negotiate your debt is to call the company yourself. There are many debt consolidation companies out there today, but if you don’t know which one you’re using, they could easily unnecessarily ruin your credit score or charge you unnecessary fees.

When you call your credit company, you have three different avenues you can go down to negotiate your credit card debt. You can ask to have your APR reduced, monthly payments cut back, or even have the total amount of debt you owe slashed. Depending on how far in debt and how far behind on payments you are, there’s several different tactics you can employ.

Try to Lower Your APR First

A high APR can ensure that you will be in credit card debt for a long time. You will never get out of debt spending all your money on interest and not on your principle. This is also one of the easiest things to negotiate with your credit card company because of the cut-throat competition in the credit card market. Calling your company to reduce your payments may even work if you’re not yet behind on payments. Being a paying, loyal customer may even help you with lowering your APR.

To accomplish this, call your bank and tell them that you’ve gotten either a better offer from another credit card or a balance transfer offer. Most times your bank will be willing to negotiate down to a lower rate for you to keep you as a customer. However, if your interest rates are high because you’ve missed several payments, this tactic may not work. Your company may be reluctant to lower your rate until you’ve proven that you can pay on time.

Next Try to Lower Your Monthly Payment

If you are late on your bills, but haven’t yet been referred to a collection agency, the surest way to get rid of some of your debt burden is to attempt to negotiate your monthly payments. The goal is to get your payment low enough that you can live and don’t have to run up any more credit card debt. Be warned, however, that paying off less of your principle each month means you’ll be in credit card debt much longer than if you could make the full payment.

When you call your company, make sure that you are prepared, especially if you’re not yet late on your payments. List out all the reasons you cannot make your payments, and don’t be afraid to try to pull on a few heartstrings. Your account manager will be much more willing to lower your payments if you make a convincing argument.

Negotiating Down the Debt You Owe

If your account is in collections, that is you are so behind on your payments your account has been turned over from the credit card company to a collections company, negotiating away some of your debt may be an option for you. If you are able to make a lump sum payment for a certain percentage of your debt, the company in most circumstances will accept it.

This is because when your account has passed into collections, the goal of the collections company is to receive some kind of money from you. As your account becomes more and more past due and the collection agency’s chances of receiving any payment become less and less, they are more likely to make a settlement. The fact that your account is so far past due is proof that you are a risk for non-payment. This makes it in the collection agency’s best interests to accept a lump sum payment from you because it is a sure thing. Otherwise they may not get any money in the future at all.

While this may seem like an easy way out, you should not let your accounts go into collection just because you are having trouble paying your bills. Debt negotiations DO go on your credit report and include how much was negotiated away. This can worsen your credit score and make getting a loan in the future harder and more expensive. However, this credit report hit you take from debt negotiation is far less than that you would take if you declared bankruptcy.