“Challenge Consulting have added considerable value to Energetics for our long term needs”

Matt Wilkin – Energetics
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Stephen Crowe

Managing Director

Ph: 02 8042 8907

[email protected]

industry

While looking after the promotion and social media side of the business, I am constantly online reading. I am reading up on social trends, latest apps, industry related articles, you name it. The more technology is advancing, the quicker information can be available and more I need to be on the ball with what is going on so that I can market our business the right way.

At the same time, I still need to maintain my duties in administration with telephone enquiries, skills testing enquiries, event organising and printing/filing/data entry tasks. I am very privileged to have a varied role because there is always something to do, and most of the time tasks need to be done within a short time frame.

How do I keep up to date with what is required within my role? Without overloading myself I look at different mediums:

Following companies online that share industry news – This allows me to receive industry updates as well as invitations to events.

• Sharing information through LinkedIn groups – Again this involves following online networks that appeal to your role or industry. You can direct questions to the group and share information or blogs from your website.

Networking Events – Meet like-minded individuals on a more relaxed, social scale. Find out about latest trends, software applications, what duties are required of individuals etc. Not to mention finding out contacts that can provide further training and development through word of mouth.

Attend training workshops – This helps me keep up to date with my skill sets and also find out about latest tips and tactics on how to market to my industry.

• Setting personal goals for progression – what do I want to learn over the upcoming weeks, months or year? Am I keeping myself accountable and keeping an up to date checklist?

I meet with a mentor every few months – Someone who is in a more senior and experienced position who can guide me with expert advice, but still allows me the authority to make my own choices and go in the direction I feel is best.

So what are the advantages of keeping up to date in your industry of work? While researching the topic I found the following three benefits outlined by MindTools.com:

First, you’ll make better decisions, and you’ll spot threats and opportunities early on, which can give you a competitive edge. This is especially important if you contribute to shaping your organization’s strategy. It’s also important if you’re involved in sales and marketing, where it helps you identify and take advantage of the sales opportunities that come your way.

Secondly, keeping up-to-date with your industry is key for building expert power. By developing expertise in your job and your industry, you’ll earn the trust and respect of the people around you. From a leadership perspective, this is invaluable!

Finally, it will alert you to changes that you need to think about.

As change is a common theme in business, it is important that you keep yourself up-to-date so that you are prepared to take the next steps in your career and assess any unexpected situations that may arise. It is important that we continue to drive ourselves to be our best and continue to prove ourselves as valuable assets within our organisations and further drive the business and ourselves towards success.

industry

As a Specialist in Finance Recruitment, I screen hundreds of resumes a day from people looking to break into the Banking and Finance industry. My inspiration for this blog comes from a trend I have noticed recently. That is there has been a significant increase in the number of people looking to break into one specific area: Financial Planning.

The RG146 qualification has become more prevalent on resumes even for applications to roles which are not related to Financial Planning. This inspired me to uncover my candidate’s motivations and understand; what is so attractive about Financial Planning?

The vast majority of candidates I speak to are recent graduates in the field of Business, Commerce, Finance or Accounting. Financial Planning is one of many paths that a graduate from these subjects can choose to go down. Based on my research and insights, a candidate’s attraction to Financial Planning can be summarised into three main points:

• An opportunity to use their degree and pursue their field of interest
• Personal Financial reward
• The opportunity to directly help people with their financial goals

So how fulfilling is Financial Planning in reality? I spoke to Bill Gilroy, Ryan Sparks and Gabrielle Bell of Ipac Securities to get the inside story on how to get into Financial Planning and what to expect.

Both Ryan and Gabrielle are relatively early in their Financial Planning careers; they both studied Business and Commerce at University and were successful in gaining experience from a graduate program: one with Macquarie Bank and the other with Dixon Advisory. Their initial attractions to the industry were much the same as those of most of the candidates I spoke to; with the main motivation being the opportunity to help people. Working with Ipac securities has given them firsthand experience of Financial Planning beginning with a specialism and more recently branching out into more holistic advice.

They advised that the type of Financial Planning you go into depends on your own choices and the type of firm you work with. You could specialise in a certain area of advice such as investments, insurance, retirement preparation, tax management or Self-Managed Super Funds, or offer more holistic advice. There is a stigma that Financial Planners are all about sales however the recent FoFA legislative changes which came about mid-2013 have meant enhanced clarity on charges for advice and products. This has put greater emphasis on Financial Planners actually helping their customers achieve their financial goals rather than product placement.

As a Financial Planner, the salary and bonus structure can vary dependent on the company you work for. Some Financial Planners receive a base salary with a modest incentive structure others will place more emphasis on a generous commission structure. Both create very different cultures within a firm so make sure to find a structure that matches your motivations.

Gabrielle and Ryan’s best bits of the job were centered around engaging with people and using their privileged position to be able to understand their situation and provide a solution. They both enjoy the personal aspect of the role, being empathetic to a client’s needs but remaining professional. They have flexible working arrangements and are happy with their remuneration structure.

Any negatives? Pressure; being responsible for a client’s finances, particularly following a redundancy or the loss of a loved one can be intense. It is important to maintain an emotional distance from a client’s situation and provide impartial advice.

Overall the expectations and reality explored for this article were closely matched. Working as a Financial Planner is rewarding. This comes with a caveat however; the industry is broad and there are a wide variety of firms out there all operating in very different ways, with different salary structures, cultures, specialisms and motivations. It is up to you to work out where your strengths and motivations lie to allow you to become the most successful Financial Planner you can be.

industry

Coming out of one of the busiest Januaries I have experienced in the recruitment industry, I feel compelled to share some of my findings on the early part of 2014. As a dedicated Finance & Credit Recruitment Consultant; my findings will be biased towards this sector.

I was one of those lucky people to work straight through the Christmas period so I rode out the quiet days and clung on during the January surge. Whether it be a trend in just my own clients or a reflection of the market as a whole, there has been a definite increase in demand for experienced Analysts, Collectors, Business Development Managers, Credit Controllers and Support Staff across the Finance industry. I believe this trend is linked to the ‘non-bank’ smaller lenders making an aggressive push to take market share in lending; particularly on home loans. Borrowers who may have been disenchanted with ‘non-bank’ lenders since the GFC have increased their confidence and in some cases have turned away from banks due to their higher interest rates and increased lending criteria. This has meant a requirement for more staff for these businesses and an increase in jobs. This demand has subsequently been reflected by an increase in quality candidates looking to snap up the best jobs out there this side of Christmas (up 8% on January 2013). This is great for employers, however; more opportunity means more choice and competition for candidates.

The choice that strong candidates have in this market has created the ability for them to demand more money; and trust me they are! Depending on your budget requirements and flexibility you may or may not be able to meet these demands but I have certainly witnessed my clients in this market becoming more generous in their salary provisions so it is certainly something to consider if you wish to compete strongly for the best talent.

I have also noticed a certain ferocity in the competition for these strong candidates in credit and finance this year.  A great candidate is always interviewing for several positions at once and they have varying levels of honesty in describing yours as their ‘Number One Priority.’ This creates an obligation on the employer to differentiate themselves from their competitors on what matters most to a superior performer; the benefits. Now this varies from person to person, salary is of course the most obvious point of differentiation but I have also witnessed an increasing emphasis on finding ‘The Right Role;’ this comes down to something less tangible; Culture.

The culture of an organisation comes down to a few fundamental points: management, team involvement, rewards, recognition and performance monitoring. While it is easy to stick an extra few Ks onto the salary, these cultural points are less easy to address (at least in the short term).

The length and smoothness of the recruitment process is also an initial indication to the candidate of the culture of the business. If the process is long and arduous and the hiring manager is taking 2 months to make a decision, this reflects poorly on the company and its brand; it is not a good look. And in this market where superior performers are available for no longer than 72 hours, I highly recommend moving quickly.

I am more than familiar with the hoops that candidates have to jump through to get their foot in the door with financial institutions and alike: multiple interviews, psychometric tests, skills tests, background checks, yet another interview and I certainly understand the value of each and every step. The onus is therefore on the hiring manager to move the candidates quickly through each stage and for the recruiter (i.e. yours truly) to keep the candidate motivated and excited about the opportunity throughout the whole process. This is where specialist recruiters can really complement internal teams and make your life a whole lot easier throughout the selection process.

If you need help harnessing and managing star candidates for your organisation, call Lauren Eardley our Specialist Finance Recruiter on 02 9221 6422.

industry

Being in a digital era more often than not potential employers will browse your  online footprint before they lock you in for the first interview. Information is easily and instantly accessible, and the more information you update about yourself, the more easily it can be discovered.

So what does your online profile currently say about you?

• Have you looked up your name on Google lately?

• Is your LinkedIn profile updated?

• Are your online images showing you to be someone who is suited to the job and reliable?

• Are your Facebook posts and Tweets going to haunt you at a later stage?

I can honestly say at this point in my life I am happy with the way that I am presented through Social Media. For example:

LinkedIn – I have a professional photograph, a corporate summary and up-to date information on my past to current experience. I also have updated skills and recommendations, links and relevant information pertaining to what I do.

Facebook – On both a personal and professional basis I like to share articles, videos, images and inspirational quotes to both friends and clients/candidates that I feel are valuable.

Blogs – Challenge Consulting has also allowed me to provide topics on their company blog page where I feel like I can reach out and connect with individuals that may have experienced similar situations and learning curves. I get to represent a business brand that I know and trust so when I am updating news articles and sending out the company ENews I am happy to link my personal brand to my organisation and their values/structure.

Online Networking – By joining other corporate networking groups I have also expanded my online presence and this has also connected me to other like-minded individuals in my industry and the corporate industry. Depending on field you are in, you can do a Google Search for similar industry networking groups, follow influencing individuals that write articles and share blogs or interest groups in LinkedIn. And don’t be afraid to ask questions or start conversations once you have joined these networks as it is the whole reason behind networking groups, to engage.

Hobbies/Personal Interests – I also enjoy sporting and charity events in my personal time which can often include an online profile or blog site. This shows others what I am passionate about and what I enjoy doing in my spare time.

While there are many things you can do to boost your profile, I also want to make sure that you are aware of certain social media mistakes that could be doing more harm than good when it comes to your job search success. Careerealism.com has provided the following examples:

LinkedIn

• Appearing Desperate – when making connections on LinkedIn when you are a job seeker, try to avoid group emails and spamming other contacts when it comes to looking for work. It is important to work on building those relationships first before asking them for something.

• Having an incomplete profile – incomplete information will just make your profile difficult to understand and even worse, the employer or individual viewing your profile may think that you are disorganised or lazy when it comes to keeping your information up to date and well-presented.

• Having a split focus – When it comes to applying for roles, make sure your profile and summary are targeting the right areas of employment that you are wishing to seek otherwise the employer may question your interest or longevity in applying for a particular role.

Twitter

• Not contributing meaningful tweets – You can have many individuals that you follow but you will not engage responses if you are not sharing information of interest. Find articles to share or open up questions to engage responses.

• Not Retweeting – Job hunters should not merely tweet about what is of interest to them, but they should also help other Twitter users by retweeting information that would be useful to the rest of the Twitter community.

Facebook

• Posting Inappropriate Information – This tends to be the number one problem that people have when using this site. This could include photos, negative comments about people and/or companies, and inappropriate jokes. Many people still do not realise that the information that they post can be seen by potential employers. You should use the appropriate settings to ensure that employers can only view information about you that is appropriate for a professional setting.

What have you used that has boosted your online presence? Did you find it was effective? What have you learned through this experience?

industry

The top two responses to our latest online poll – “Where do you go first when you’re looking for a job?” –  were Internet Job Boards and My Contact Network

Whilst there is no doubt that internet job boards provide an easy, user-friendly way to apply for advertised roles, job seekers must always beware of becoming lazy in their application approach, ie sending the same old cover letter and CV again and again for roles that might actually require you to do a bit of “tailoring” first, or resort to a scattergun mentality, ie, “If I send my CV to enough job advertisers, then one will surely produce a result.” 

I can assure you, as someone who has worked in the recruitment industry for eleven years, recruiters who know their stuff, whether they work for an agency or within a company, can spot a thoughtlessly-sent CV at twenty paces. For example, a candidate might have a newly-minted accounting qualification. They are seeking an entry-level accounting role. They do a key-word search using “accounting” and send their CV in response to the 25 job ads that appear, despite the fact that only two of the advertised roles are suitable for entry-level candidates. Not only is this a ridiculous waste of time for everyone concerned, it does the candidate absolutely no favours, instantly creating an impression of a total lack of attention to detail and no real interest in the actual role or company. 

You must remain in charge of your job search. It is your responsibility and yours alone to secure your next role. 

Here is a prime example of what I mean from an article on Forbes.com entitled Get a Job Using the Hidden Job Market

“The technology executive had been out of work for more than a year, but he didn’t tell any of his friends he was unemployed. Instead, he made up a story about how he was consulting on some confidential projects, the details of which he would reveal when it was time to go public. Meantime, he applied for dozens of posted job openings he saw online, with zero success. He also spent time golfing at the country club, where his locker was next to a CEO in his field. Still, he guarded his secret carefully, staying mum with his golf buddies about his job hunt. Finally, his distraught wife set up some sessions with Donald Asher, an executive career coach and author of 11 books, including Cracking the Hidden Job Market: How to Find Opportunity in any Economy. Asher convinced his new client to open up about his job hunt, and start talking to everyone he knew about how he was on the market. Sure enough, one of his golfing friends gave him a tip that led to a job at a startup.”

What do you know?

I asked Challenge Consulting’s Managing Director, Elizabeth Varley, what she regarded as the best overall way to find work. 

Without hesitation, her response was, “Your network.” 

She continued: “You must be organised and methodical in your approach to seeking work. When you’re in your car travelling to a new destination, you use a road map, you don’t just start driving. Ask yourself what you actually want to do, what skills and experience you wish to utilise. Then, work out who you know who can give you entrée into industries or companies where these are attractive. It might be a friend, it might be a LinkedIn contact, it might be someone you meet at an industry function, it might be someone you get talking to waiting for a bus.” 

They key things to remember are: you have to make it known that you are seeking work (no one can read your mind, after all), and you cannot expect a high success rate flailing wildly in the dark (see Elizabeth’s above comment re using a map!). 

Comments from three of our poll respondents re using their networks:

– “The people in my network know me best, so they’re the ones most likely to present a suitable opportunity. They’re also less likely to point me in the wrong direction.”

– “My first port of call would be tapping in to my networks.”

– “Recently, for the first time ever, I was approached for a job based on my LinkedIn Profile.”

What do you think? What success have you had finding that next great role using your networks? Let us know in the comments below!

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Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. Click the FB icon to “Like” us now and stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …

industry

This week’s blog post is by guest blogger, Tiffany Whitby, from the Challenge Consulting recruitment team … (this is not Tiffany pictured here …)

One of my passions is enhancing the role of women in business; specifically, examining and promoting strategies to ensure women have the opportunity to attain senior and management positions. As such I have actively joined a number of websites dedicated to this subject including; sphinxx, Ruby Connection and also Business Chicks.

Of the 3, I recently attended a Business Chicks seminar titled ‘Nice Girls Don’t get the Corner Office’ based on the book by bestselling author Dr Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D. The 2 hour workshop was full of tips and helpful ideas to assist women get what they want out of their careers, first of which was her statement ‘quit being a girl’.

Another one of her tips was don’t use preambles; so I will just get straight to the point with the top 10 tactics every woman needs in her skill set:

Top 10 Tactics Every Woman Needs in her Skill Set:

#1. Know your playing field

– Boundaries, strategies and rules

– What works in one organisation/industry won’t work in another

– There are different boundaries for men and women

Do not put statements into the form of questions, be direct and straight, and if needed add a tagline (which can soften the message)

– Emulate winning women such as Gail Kelly

#2. Be crystal clear about what you want

– Know what you want. Until you have clarity about what this is, you are not going to get it

 #3. Identify your boundaries

– Know where people can come over and in

– Define your boundaries

 #4. Be willing to walk away

We stay in situations to long. If everything has been done to turn around a bad situation and nothing has changed then leave!

 #5. Use headlines and taglines

The most important thing we want people to know should be the first thing out our mouths (headline). Then use 3 supporting facts/data. Tagline at the end eg. ‘did I answer your question?’

#6. Manage your emotions

– If you feel as though you are about to cry in the workplace excuse yourself; crying in the workplace makes people feel uncomfortable

– Put the tears into words and focus in the problem and solution

 #7. Plan in advance for how you will respond to resistance

– Let people know you are planning on changing your behaviours and enlist their feedback and support

 #8. Understand (and use) the “Quid Pro Quo”

– Something in exchange for something else

– Leverage the relationships you have

– If you give something, you receive a figurative ‘penny’ to use when you need something – make sure you use them!

#9. Build your brand

– Use the WALLET acronym:

Write it down: write down what you want people to say about you when you leave a room

Apply actionable behaviours: think about what a camera would be able to see

Look to the edge: of the playing field

Let others know about your brand

Elicit feedback (360o feedback)

Treat others with abundance (give things away eg. assistance on a project)

 #10. Employ contrast

– Talk about what you do want and what you don’t want

Dr Frankel then went on to explain the Top 10 Mistakes Women Make:

#1. Not ‘getting it’: eg. Don’t wait to be invited for a position, pay rise, something you want. Create tactics and strategies

#2. Working too hard: within everything organisation there is a baseline to which you should work towards, work up to this and set realistic boundaries with people

#3. Not setting boundaries: work out what your vision is for what you want and ask yourself: “what is important to me?”

#4. Striving for perfection: women will often put in 150%, when more often than not a job that is 80% there is good enough

#5. Ignoring the look and sound of success: Credibility is made up by: 50% of how we look, 40% of how we sound, 10% of what we say. An example is the JFK vs Nixon debate. People say Nixon won for what he said, however JFK won based on how he looked.

#6. Unclear branding/vision: we trust people who are consistent and likeable. Read the book “Brag! Tooting your own Horn without Blowing It” by Peggy Klaus

#7. Staying too long in a bad situation: sunken costs (keep putting ‘something’ in thinking a situation is going to get better, when in fact it’s not). We need to understand when it’s time to walk away. Ask yourself the question: “What am I getting out of this?”

#8. Waiting to be given what you want: Read the book “Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide” by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever

#9. Using too many words: cut communication by 30%. The longer we talk the more the message gets diluted.  Queue answer question and then ask ‘have I answered your question?’ Be careful with body language.

#10. Trusting your financial security to someone else: know where your finances are and where they are being invested. Stay involved with your money!

Challenge Consulting’s online poll last week asked the question “What is the #1 mistake women make on their way to the top at work?” The results were:

#1. Waiting to be “invited” instead of asking for a payrise, promotion, etc – 50%

#2. An unwillingness to self-promote and “toot their own horn” – 29%

#3. Staying too long in a bad situation – 14%

#4. Striving for perfection: putting in 150% when often 80% will do – 7%

With all of this information I have now taken in it is time to put it into practice. As Dr Frankel said, let people know you are making changes, so, everyone: I am making changes … don’t say I didn’t warn you!

industry

This week’s Online Poll Results: “What is the main reason you are a temporary worker?” 

  • Temp work is what I am doing until the right permanent job comes along – 48%
  • Temp work offers the flexibility that suits my lifestyle – 26%
  • Temp work enables me to develop my skills base – 9%
  • Temp work exposes me to a range of industries – 9%
  • Temp work is all I can do due to visa restrictions – 9%

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First, my heartfelt thanks go out to the wonderful Challenge Consulting temps who took the time to contribute their experiences and insights to this blog post! 

Overall, it seems that being a temp is a mixed bag of experiences, good and bad. 

Whilst the results of last week’s online poll (above) clearly demonstrate that the majority of respondents are temping until the right permanent role comes their way, this is obviously influenced by whether or not the respondent is a permanent Australian resident or a traveller on a working holiday visa. 

The traveller temps who provided me with their feedback via email were overwhelmingly positive about their temping experiences. One responded with the following comments: 

“The advantages to me of being a temp are:

1. I have the opportunity to work in a variety of industries and ‘try them out’ before I return home – this will allow me to make a much more informed career direction decision.

2. Most of the time, I have been able to pick and choose the location of my temp assignments which is great in terms of travel time and cost.

3. I meet lots of new people all the time, which makes being a stranger in a new city much easier!”

It was interesting to learn about the experiences of temps who are not travellers, who choose temp work as a way of developing their skills base and widen their exposure to different organisations and industries before steering their career along a particular path or, even more interestingly, because the notion of committing to one position or one industry for the duration of their career is ‘daunting’: 

“I love being a temp as I feel as though it combines a sense of security with a degree of flexibility. I personally feel as though it would be daunting to remain in one position my whole life without experiencing other employment fields. The most exciting thing about being a temp is that I am currently working in a field which is completely unrelated to what I am studying at university. It is a career choice that I have considered in the past but have not had the opportunity to explore until I attained this position. At such a young age, I already feel as though this temp position has exposed me to a whole new world and I can say with confidence that it has been an experience which has provided me with knowledge that I hope to retain for the remainder of my working life.”

Another temp responded from a slightly different perspective. Having had wonderful experiences temping in England, she has returned to Australia and is still temping … 

“I started temping because I wanted to live overseas for a while. I was temping in England and had a great time. The rules of temping are very different over there! You can get paid for days off (up to 20 days per year when I was there – this has since increased to 30 days per year). This started to cover public holidays, but expanded to cover planned time off. 

I did not plan to temp on my return to Australia, but unfortunately this has been the only work available to me. My experience and qualifications do not seem to be recognised and so temping here has become a frustrating experience. I am getting roles not relevant to my skills and knowledge, for example, I am being offered reception roles when I have the qualifications and experience to do PA work. This has only led to the inability to secure a permanent role in the area I would like as I now have no “current” experience as a PA. So, from my experience, temping overseas was a much more rewarding and fulfilling experience!” 

There are always, however, practical considerations, too, when it comes to being a temp and choosing which assignments to do. In fact, it’s not always a matter of choice, but necessity: 

“Due to the restrictions of the visa, it’s hard to find a 6 month contract by myself, so temping with an agency ensures I have some money coming in – I have regular bills to pay, so need a regular income!” Another commented: “Temping through a reputable agency means you get paid on time and you can ask advice from your recruiter regarding tax forms, superannuation, etc at the end of employment.” 

And it’s not all fun and games being a temp! Several temps referred to the uncertainty of never knowing if you will have work from one week to the next, as well as not being paid for sick leave or holidays, which can eat significantly into savings and create extra pressure to work even when you’re feeling desperately unwell. 

One temp also expressed her frustration with the lack of response from some recruitment agencies: “no matter how many times you call and remind them you’re there, you are never contacted for jobs. It’s also hard to make yourself ‘stand out’ sometimes. You want to make a good impression to ensure you are called often for work but you can feel like ‘just another number’ at times … this has a lot to do with the size of the agency, though, and they relationship you are able to develop (or not!) with your recruiter.”

And, of course, people being people, being a temp means you often get thrust into bizarre places and situations you would not normally have exposure to: 

“Working for a counselling not-for-profit organisation on the reception meant I had some over-flow calls and I would often get people thinking I was a counsellor. They’d often go into their life stories and share particular detail on their health problems, some of which were pretty gruesome. This was a weird daily occurrence I could have done without!”

Still, it’s all “character building” as they say …

industry

What is The Challenge Consulting Blog all about? We’re glad you asked! In essence, we wish to put the wonders of modern technology and social media to work to unite the Challenge Consulting community.

We work with clients and candidates nationally and internationally from diverse backgrounds and industries. The Challenge Consulting Blog is our way of bridging the divide and providing an informal, safe, relaxed forum for the exchange of ideas and information from the ever-changing world of recruitment, staff development and career management.

Our goal is not to be didactic or dry, but rather to present in a real and entertaining way the experiences, ideas and opinions of our talented team of consultants working daily on the front line of candidate and client management. We also want to provide our readers with the latest national and global industry trends, ideas and innovations, and to invite you to get involved via your comments and feedback.

Penny Robertshawe writes and manages our blog. Penny recently joined the Challenge Consulting team after taking over from Jenna Baril in June 2015. Penny’s background is in writing, editing and designing learning. Over the years, she has written for websites, magazines, professional journals and for the vocational education sector.

Penny is passionate about using writing as a vehicle to help people realise their potential and to give them tools for making a positive difference in their lives. Her aim is to inspire her readers to take action and make any changes they feel they need.

Penny is keen to hear your feedback about the Challenge Consulting blog so she can find out more about the kinds of things you would like to read about. So stay tuned and keep in touch.