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Sony WF-1000X Review: A Decent But Flawed Noise Cancelling Truly Wireless In-Ear

The Sony WF-1000x are noise cancelling truly wireless in-ears with a high-end build quality and cool metal accents that give them a premium look and feel. They come with an excellent, if slightly bulky, metallic charging case. Unfortunately, their defining noise cancelling feature is not as good in loud environments. They do not block noise as well as some of the purely passive truly wireless designs, which is a little disappointing. They also have a few issues with their wireless connection, have no volume controls and a lot of latency when watching videos.

Pros

+ Good audio reproduction

+ Lightweight with decent durability

+ Efficient, easy-to-use controls

Cons

– Mediocre noise cancelling

– A bit bright on treble-heavy tracks

Design

Type: Truly Wireless In-Ear

Enclosure: Closed-Back

The Sony WF-1000X have a high-end, premium look and feel that sets them apart from other truly wireless in-ears. They have a well-made and decently durable build quality and come with a great metal charging case. The case is a bit bulky but flat, so it will still easily fit into most pockets. Unfortunately, the buds do not look as great once in your ears. They protrude quite a bit, which makes them more noticeable than similar designs like the Samsung Gear IconX. They also have an inconvenient control scheme and no dedicated volume buttons, so you have to reach for your phone or Bluetooth source to increase the volume and even skip tracks. On the upside, they’re decently comfortable and come with a bunch of tip options and sizes to help you find the right fit.


Sound

The Sony WF-1000X have an above-average but sharp sound quality. They have a punchy bass and a good mid-range, although the slight bump in the lower frequencies makes them a tad boomy and cluttered. However, the sharp spike in their treble range will be more immediately noticeable than the boomy mid/bass-range. It makes these earphones piercing on S and T sounds, which will get fatiguing on longer listening sessions or on particularly bright instrument or vocal heavy tracks. They won’t have the soundstage and ambiance of big, open-back over-ear headphones, so they’re not the ideal choice for more critical listeners. But on the upside, they have a preset Equalizer with their companion app, so you can somewhat tweak their sounds to better match your listening preference.


Isolation

Noise cancelling: Yes

The Sony WF-1000X isolate decently well against ambient noise but their noise cancelling feature doesn’t add much. They are one of the first active noise cancelling truly wireless in-ears and they block and cancel enough noise to be decently suitable for commute and travel. They also barely leak so you can play your music at higher volumes to mask even more ambient noise without distracting the people around you. Unfortunately, their A.N.C does not cancel that much noise and barely makes a difference to the passive isolation that the in-ear fit provides. This makes the WF-1000x as good at blocking noise as typical truly wireless in-ears, which is a bit disappointing considering A.N.C is their defining feature.


Microphone

Mic type: Integrated

Like most Bluetooth headphones, and especially truly wireless designs, the mic on the Sony WF-1000x is below-average and would not be the best for making calls. Your voice will sound thin, muffled and will be difficult to understand. They also struggle to separate ambient noise from speech, so the person on the other end of the line will have a tough time to hear what your saying in a busy and noisy environment. They should be somewhat okay in quieter conditions but you may have to switch to your phone’s handset mic if you’re making a call while commuting or walking down a bustling street.


Active Features

Earbud Battery Life: 2.7 Hrs

Charge time: 1.5 Hrs

Case battery life: 6 Hrs

App support: Yes

Passive Playback: No

The Sony WF-1000x have a mediocre-at-best battery life but a good app with decent customization options. The earbuds only last about 3 hours on a single charge and a bit less if you’re using the active noise cancellation feature. But on the upside, they have an additional 6 hours in their charging case for a total of 9 hours of playback. They won’t be the ideal option if you have long uninterrupted listening sessions but should have enough juice to last you throughout your day if you take breaks. They also support the Sony Headphones Connect app which gives them a preset EQ and noise cancelling options. You can also choose different sound quality codecs if your phone supports it.


Connectivity

Bluetooth: Yes

Wired: No

Wireless range: 31 ft

Latency: 400 ms

The Sony WF-1000X are Bluetooth 4.1 headphones with NFC pairing. They have an NFC tag on the bottom of their case, which is pretty cool and makes pairing with phones and NFC-ready devices quite easy. Unfortunately, their regular hold-to-pair procedure can be frustratingly difficult at times since you have to pair the right earbud first which doesn’t always seamlessly connect to the left. They have an average wireless range but one of the worse latency performance we’ve measured. The right earbud also cuts out often regardless of the wireless range. These issues have been somewhat reduced with the firmware 2.0 update but may still be a deal breaker flaw for some.


Who should buy them?

If you want a high-end and premium looking truly wireless design for your commutes, then the Sony WF-1000X are a suitable option. They have a decent isolation performance and are one of the only truly wireless headphones with active noise cancellation. They also barely leak which makes them a good choice for noise sensitive environments like being at the office. Unfortunately, their noise cancellation feature doesn’t isolate better than some passive in-ear designs, they struggle to maintain a good and stable wireless connection and they have a terrible latency performance. They won’t be great for watching videos and they have no volume controls on the earbuds which is bit disappointing. They won’t be as good as some of the other truly wireless designs we’ve reviewed recently but if you really like the look of the Sonys, they’re a decently versatile option for most use cases.

Shop Now: $198 at Amazon

To see all our measurements and our test results of the Sony WF-1000X, please go here.

Here's What You May Not Know About The Future Impact Of AI In Your Workplace

CHAIN Cup at the China National Convention Center in Beijing just a few days ago. A computer running artificial intelligence software defeated two teams of human doctors in accurately recognizing maladies in magnetic resonance images on Saturday, in a contest that was billed as the world’s first competition in neuroimaging between AI and human experts. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Good versus evil is a daily battle on a variety of levels but perhaps none more so than that those tracking developments within the realm of Artificial Intelligence. The question on the minds of many business leaders is will the technology create more efficiency within industries or will machines end up usurping their very users.  Many in the workforce simply want to know whether there will be massive impending job loss as a result of AI or whether such tech advancements will help them to be more productive. There are wild myths about this new area of tech and even wilder predictions amidst few, if any, regulations and standards. Given the plethora of various viewpoints on AI, here’s a brief look at the up-to-the-moment trend perspective from a few thought-leaders in the space so that you can better prepare.

So, harmful or helpful? First, the AI-For-Good camp has no shortage of members. This is about blue sky visions and utopian views from which the greater good occurs, all thanks to efficient use of artificial intelligence through businesses. For example, Chief Visionary Nikos Acuña Nikos at Sizmek, a company that helps companies use data to better reach its goals, says in one of his latest vlog posts, “It’s well known that predictive technologies hold the key to customer experience optimization and such optimization can be used for all types of good.”  Nikos believes that technology is going to help us impact the world for the better particularly when it comes to cause marketing.

“Purpose-driven brands want to make a change for the better,” he explains. “And they can inspire people through alignment of data and connect with consumers in more meaningful way to drive messaging. Those who can best use AI to create personalization and brand experiences will be the winners in business and our society because they will be able to link business with better public service via the knowledge that AI provides.”

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks at the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif. Google pledges that it will not use artificial intelligence in applications related to weapons or surveillance, part of a new set of principles designed to govern how it uses AI. Those principles, released by Pichai, commit Google to building AI applications that are “socially beneficial,” that avoid creating or reinforcing bias and that is accountable to people. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

In addition, many see a deeply positive impact of AI within the workplace. A recent report by Village Capital and Autodesk Foundation entitled Automation for Good: Can Automation and Artificial Intelligence Benefit the Workforce? revealed a number of intriguing findings. In essence, the study found that  AI will both destroy replace and create new types of jobs.

By studying 50-plus startups, the study found certain trends. First, that platforms that used big data were able to better move past hiring biases, improve the quality of matches and thus have a greater competitive advantage in the market. The study also cites the fact that when Hilton implemented an AI tool in pre-hire assessments the company was better able to fill call center and customer support positions. In fact, within three years, the company was  able to reduce the length of time between initial interviews and offers from 42 days to five days.

The study concludes that automation and AI will play an increasingly large role in how organizations source, recruit, hire, and onboard employees in the future. In fact, Village Capital’s cross-industry survey last year found that approximately 62 percent of recruiters planned to spend more on AI-based human resource solutions in 2018.  86 percent said they intend to tap into AI software that helps with sourcing.

Gadi Singer, vice president of architecture group at Intel Corp., speaks during the Baidu Inc. Create conference in Beijing, China, on Wednesday, July 4, 2018. The company’s annual artificial intelligence (AI) developer conference runs through July 5. Photographer: Giulia Marchi/Bloomberg

Also noted in the study is the fact that AI-driven training and “upskilling” will be key in various sectors as well. Findings also show that predictive analytics tools that allow workers to focus less on rote tasks and more on the creative “people aspects” of work.

But like most things in life, there a number of additional elements to consider when it comes to the future impact of AI.

David Benigson, CEO Signal Media offers a holistic view. “You see, the breadth of data has never been greater on earth, yet it has never harder to transform data into true insights. This is where AI can become transformative in terms of  applying machine learning to the data to unlock insights.”

However, he feels that in order to get to that level, it’s going to be challenging given the level of fear and misinformation currently surrounding most things AI-related. “We are over-estimating the short-term impact and underestimating the long-term on what AI will do to our society overall, ” Benigson explains. “And that’s an issue.”  He says that the real fact of the matter is that many automated, manual, repetitive and repeatable jobs will, indeed, vanish. “However the ‘safe jobs’ dealing with things like creativity will remain in demand. So jobs in, say, banking will become obsolete. But if you can build something or write or create music or become a valued entrepreneur, that’s where value will always remain and perhaps AI will help even enhance those working in these areas.”

Benigson cautions that further development around ethics, however, is probably the most important focus within the AI narrative if we want to continue to pursue the path of benefit versus detriment. He suggests that an independent ethics board of members that are not solely driven by financial gain is key.  “Currently we are expecting machines to have the same level of ethics that it’s taken humans thousands of years to develop, which is still not perfect,” he adds.

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., waits to begin a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. Lawmakers will grill Zuckerberg on issues ranging from the troves of data vacuumed up by app developers and political consultant Cambridge Analytica to Russian operatives’ use of the social network to spread misinformation and discord during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

“We’ve seen what can happen in the past with companies like Google and Facebook that are fairly autonomous. They run into trouble, and we expect them to respond, but they really don’t on a level that’s appropriate, so they need regulation but regulation can tend to stifle new areas by becoming too stringent so a slow and steady approach will be needed,” he adds.

In addition to parameters around ethics, many like Benigson suggest that the AI industry will simply have to further focus on demonstrating how AI can help with efficiency gains in business and vast gains in society overall in order to quell fears and myths. “The most important element to understand as we discuss AI is that algorithms are shaping our experience of the world so we’ve got to get this right.”

A Robotic Spacecraft Just Smashed the Record for Fastest Trip to the International Space Station

A Russian robotic spacecraft has smashed the record for the time taken to reach the International Space Station (ISS), managing the feat in a mere three hours and 40 minutes.

The Progress MS-09 or Progress 70 cargo ship—the former name is used by the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, and the latter by NASA—only did two orbits of Earth before docking with the ISS. The previous record time from takeoff to docking was around six hours, and that involved four orbits.

This was the first Russian cargo mission to demonstrate an “expedited capability” that will likely be used again in future, NASA said in a statement.

According to Space.com, the Russians had tried twice before to achieve this speedy feat, but had been thwarted on both occasions by lift-off delays that meant it was necessary to turn the trips into two-day missions.

The Russian spacecraft was carrying more than two tons of cargo, including fuel, air, maintenance equipment, and care and life support packs for the astronauts on board the ISS. Progress MS-09 will stay docked until late January.

The Russians’ success is a reminder that the ISS is, as its name suggests, an international endeavor. The new NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine, is trying to get a consortium of private companies to take over the space station, but it isn’t simply the Americans’ to hand over.

Russia has its own part of the ISS—with which Progress MS-09 docked—and Japan, Europe and Canada share the American section. When Progress MS-09 leaves the ISS, it will take the whole Russian Pirs docking compartment with it—the Russians will replace the compartment with a new “multipurpose laboratory module.”

Equinor: 3 Promising Recent Developments

The past few weeks have seen several developments that have the very real potential to be quite beneficial for investors in Norway’s Equinor (EQNR). This is a company that has looked rather undervalued for quite some time now, particularly when compared to its big oil peers in the United States. This is likely due both to the company not being included in any of the major American indices such as the S&P 500 (SPY) that American investors typically hold passively as well as many of them feeling somewhat uncomfortable at the Norwegian government having a two-thirds stake in the business. However, as I explained in a recent article, Equinor is truly a great company that deserves a place in the portfolio of every energy investor. In this article, we will discuss a few of the developments that are likely to benefit investors going forward.

On Tuesday, July 3, 2018, Equinor submitted a plan to develop the massive gas fields located in the Western portion of the Troll field offshore Norway. According to the plan, the company would invest a total of NOK 7.8 billion ($936 million) to develop the gas field, which would provide enough gas to meet the needs of fifty million European households for the next thirty years. As the development of the field would cost less than $1 billion and Equinor would have total production costs of under $10 per barrel of oil equivalent, we can expect the 2.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent that the company will ultimately extract from the field to yield significant profits. Indeed, as Equinor vice president Margareth Oevrum stated, “This is probably one of the most profitable and robust projects in the company’s history.”

The Troll oil and natural gas field is one of the largest fields known in the North Sea, holding approximately 40% of Norway’s gas reserves.

Source: RigZone

As shown above, the field is located approximately 65 kilometers west of Bergen. The field itself consists of two structures, Troll East and Troll West, with most of the gas lying in the already producing East structure. The plan that Equinor just submitted is for the Troll West structure so it is clearly intended to boost the total production from the field. Due to the potential economic impact, it seems unlikely that the Norwegian authorities will reject the plan. Assuming that is indeed the case, the Troll West field would likely come online sometime early next decade so would begin contributing positively to the company’s results around that time.

On Thursday, July 5, 2018, Equinor announced that it gained approval from the Norwegian authorities to proceed with its Snorre expansion project. This $2.39 billion project involves the construction of a comprehensive subsea development, upgrading of the Snorre A installation, increasing gas injection into the reservoir, and setting up a gas import system to obtain this gas. The goal here is to extend the productive life of the aging Snorre field past 2040 and obtain another 200 million barrels of oil from it before the field is ultimately exhausted. Naturally, this will increase the amount of oil that Equinor can ultimately pull out of the field and sell.

The Snorre field is an oil and gas field located in the southern part of the Norwegian Sea. The field itself is located at the bottom of approximately 300 to 350 meters of water.

Source: RigZone

The Snorre field was originally developed by Saga Petroleum (now part of Equinor) and started producing oil in 1992. It has been producing oil and gas continually since that time, although Equinor has had to make some capital improvements at the site to keep the field productive. Thus far, Equinor has enjoyed success with these programs as the field was originally projected to reach the end of its productive life in 2011 but it is now projected to be exhausted around 2040. The goal of the newest project that was just approved is to extend its life beyond that date.

The Snorre field is one of the largest ever discovered, originally estimated to contain 1.4 billion barrels of oil, 6 billion cubic meters of natural gas, and 6 million tonnes of natural gas liquids.

Finally, on Friday, July 6, Equinor announced that it is purchasing Danish trading firm Danske Commodities for €400 million ($470 million). According to Irene Rummelhoff, executive vice president for new energy solutions at Equinor, the purpose of the deal is to strengthen the company’s position in power generation from renewable energy.

Danske itself trades in natural gas and electricity futures, so this appears to be a move by Equinor to improve its ability to hedge its exposure to electricity rates as it continues to expand into renewable power generation technologies. Numerous energy companies operate trading desks as a way to reduce the impact that rapid commodity price swings have on their revenues. Equinor is merely joining the crowd here by purchasing an already existing operation instead of starting one from scratch.

The profitability of trading operations can be quite difficult to judge in advance. Personally, I somewhat doubt that the purchase of this commodity trading operation will have a huge impact on Equinor’s profitability. What it may help to do though is smooth out the company’s profitability over the business cycle, which itself has a certain benefit for shareholders, particularly those that are buy and hold types.

Despite these positive developments, Equinor remains undervalued relative to its big oil peers. With that said though, analysts recently revised downward the forward earnings growth expectations of Equinor which makes it look somewhat more expensive than it did a few weeks ago despite its stock price being almost flat over the period. One way that we can compare the valuations of different oil companies is by looking that the price-to-earnings growth ration, which is a way of adjusting the price-to-earnings growth ratio to account for forward earnings growth. According to Zacks Investment Research, Equinor will grow its earnings at an 11.68% rate over the next three to five years. At the current stock price of $26.97, that gives it a price to earnings growth ratio of 1.18. Interestingly, two weeks ago, the same analysts projected a 3-5 year earnings growth rate of 19.89%. Thus, analysts expect that the developments discussed above will slow the company’s growth. I expect the opposite, although admittedly I am looking over much longer than a three to five year horizon.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: I intend to initiate a long position in EQNR at some point in the near future but it will not be within 72 hours of publication.

5 Reasons To Buy Bitcoin Now

Bitcoin (BTC-USD) is down 46.2% for the year. It is down 65% from its high. It is no longer the conversation at the office. My grandma isn’t asking if she should invest anymore. Is Bitcoin dead?

Chart

Bitcoin Close Price data by YCharts

Google searches for Bitcoin:

No. Nothing has changed really except the price action…

My take on Bitcoin is you may want to own a piece because of potential future price action based on its fundamental attractive qualities. Current price action is almost irrelevant. Maybe it’s not irrelevant but I don’t think I have much of any an edge predicting momentum.

Here are X reasons you want to grab a little bit of Bitcoin while no one is interested anymore or embarrassed with their losses to bring up the subject.

Upside

Perhaps the primary reason I like to have exposure to Bitcoin in my portfolio is the almost unimaginable upside. I always hesitate to talk about the upside scenarios because these are so wild it takes away credibility from my analysis. But if you put the total value of Bitcoin that can be mined (21 million x market price) in perspective the contrast is pretty stark. Even if Bitcoin becomes “merely” a digital gold there’s opportunity for a 70x.

Continued User growth

The pace of growth slowed down a little bit from the end of 2017 frenzy but the hockey stick like growth of Bitcoin wallets can easily resume. In an absolute sense growth remains healthy.

Cryptofunds

Last year the financial industry started pioneering in the space and a large amount of crypto funds got established. Launches have slowed down with the crypto market down significantly. This is a classic pattern where it’s just much harder to raise money in a down market. However, these funds have now been established and once we enter another big cycle up the infrastructure is ready to accommodate inflows on a much larger scale.

ETF

There are now futures available to trade Bitcoin. An ETF did not yet make it to market although there are a number of ongoing efforts. At some point it’s going to happen. I think that could be a gamechanger for Bitcoin. In March 2003 the first Gold ETF (GLD). You can’t be certain but it looks like the introduction had a profound effect on the price of gold.

Lightning network

Bitcoin bears usually complain about transaction costs and speed. These are real issues no one’s denying that. However, they will ultimately be solved by technological innovation. The obvious example being the lightning network. The lightning network is already being used and it allows transactions that are less secure but much faster and cheaper. Many expected it to work by now but it doesn’t as there are still too many transactions failing and the error rate increases as the value of transactions goes up. Up to $0.03 it is reported to work flawlessly and it seems to me it should be a matter of time to get that $0.03 up to a value where the benefit of the lightning network is real. The lightning network is especially important for low value, cup-of-coffee type, transactions. I prefer to buy Bitcoin before these issues get solved instead of buying into the next frenzy as its ongoing.

Over time I’ve written quite a few Bitcoin articles for Seeking Alpha. The first one was called 5 reasons to Buy Bitcoin as well. With Bitcoin around ~$300. You can find most of them here. A good place to buy a few dollars worth of Bitcoin is Coinbase. It is U.S.-based and if you use my invite you can get $10 bitcoin free).

Disclosure: I am/we are long BTC-USD.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Astronomers Reveal Two New Candidates For Alien Life

Credit: NASA

Artist’s depiction, Kepler-1652b.

The list is getting longer.

Space scientists just added two more worlds to the Habitable Exoplanets Catalog—the online database ranking the best picks for life in the galaxy.

55 planets now make the list—all places where extraterrestrials may exist.

Or perhaps not; maybe nothing lives on any of them, not even a microbe.

“There are still so many unknowns,” says Abel Mendez, the catalog’s chief curator.

The two new planets, like their 53 predecessors, are little more than shadows to us, literally and figuratively—cosmic conundrums residing trillions of miles from our solar system.

But this much is known: Both worlds are near the size of Earth. Both might have Earth-like temperatures. Both orbit their stars in the habitable zone—the sweet spot in a system, a location where liquid water may flow and life may flourish.

Mendez, a planetary astrobiologist and professor at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo, says that’s enough to consider them “potentially habitable,” at least for now.

Credit: [email protected] Arecibo (phl.upr.edu)

Kepler-1652b is new to the Habitable Exoplanets Catalog.

Kepler-1652b—probably rocky, and “only ten percent larger than Earth,” says Mendez—orbits a red dwarf star in the constellation Cygnus, 822 light years away.

Red dwarfs aren’t easy parent stars. Many are hyperactive; some blitz nearby planets with ferocious stellar flares, annihilating their atmospheres.

“But this planet is further out, close to the center of its habitable zone,” says Mendez. “It’s less likely to be damaged by flares.”

Indeed, preliminary data indicates reasonable surface temperatures—around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. In New York City, that’s a mild winter’s day.

“It probably has some temperatures similar to Earth,” says Mendez. “But that’s a guess.”

And that’s also the rub.

Credit: NASA / Walt Feimer

Artist’s impression of a red dwarf star.

Credit: NASA

The habitable zone.

Kepler-1652b is so far away—about five quadrillion miles—there’s little more to do than speculate and estimate. The world is too remote for even NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, now slated for a 2021 launch.

“It will be a long time before we know much about this planet,” sighs Mendez. “It’s screaming, ‘Learn more about me.’ But the distance makes that very hard. It may be decades before we know more. Maybe centuries.”

The other planet—HD 283869b—orbits a “K star” in the constellation Taurus, 155 light years away, approximately 900 trillion miles.

“That’s the good thing about this one,” Mendez says. “It’s closer.”

K-stars—so-called “orange dwarfs”—are larger than reds, but smaller than our Sun.

“And stable,” says Mendez. “That’s a very good scenario.”

The planet, still awaiting confirmation, is about twice the size of Earth“and might be a hot ocean world,” Mendez says. “Microbial life may be an option.”

More additions to the catalog are expected before year’s end. Ultimately, Mendez anticipates a list of thousands.

“This is amazing,” he says. “Who would have thought that, even ten years ago?”

Credit: NASA

Artist’s concept. An exoplanet with life.

What Separates Millionaire Entrepreneurs From The Rest Of Us? Hint: It's Not What You Think

At the end of the day, who doesn’t love a shortcut?

But there’s a trap in this approach that most people don’t realize.

Simply copying their strategies and tactics alone won’t work. You need to first understand the mindset behind what they do.

I’ll tell you, I see people making this mistake all the time. They discover that the big dog of their industry generates 80% of leads using Facebook ads. So guess what they do? They copy their ads and expect it to work.

After spending a few hundred bucks and not seeing any results, they turn their ads down and never touch it again. “I always knew that Facebook ads don’t work for my audience.” Seriously?

What those folks don’t understand is that the guys who made it work for them have a completely different mindset. They focus on learning and experiment with several different variations until they find the one that works.

You see what I mean? It all comes back to your mindset.

Now, I’ve recently interviewed several multimillion-dollar business owners in my podcast, and I sat down with my team to analyze how these successful entrepreneurs think differently.

Here are three key mindsets that you can copy:

1.  Put all your eggs into one basket

The average entrepreneur tends to struggle with what’s known as Shiny Object Syndrome. They try to do everything at once — we’re talking multiple product lines, income streams, and business opportunities.

Millionaires, on the other hand, put all their eggs in one basket. They give the current project they’re working on their 100% — no ifs, ands, or buts.

I’m not going to lie – I fell prey to the Shiny Object Syndrome back when I first started my company, too. I thought that the best way of making money was to sell whatever my clients needed — as long as they were willing to pay, I was willing to do the job.

One day, I was talking to a successful business owner, and he told me to stop running around like a headless chicken and to focus my attention on a single project. I took his advice, and my revenue shot through the roof.

2. Look for the root of your problems

Here’s another way in which successful entrepreneurs think differently…

They look past the superficial and focus on the root of their problems — this helps them solve their problems with ease.

When I encounter a problem, for example, I like to use the 5 Whys technique to identify the underlying issue. This is pretty simple; all you need to do is to ask “Why?” 5 times.

Say you’re not hitting your quarterly revenue target.

Why? Because you don’t have enough sales.

Why? Because you don’t have enough leads.

Why? Because the marketing team hasn’t generated enough leads.

Why? Because the marketing team is unaware that more leads are required.

Why? Because there’s a lack of communication between sales and marketing.

Bingo — you’ve now gotten to the root of your problem.

3. Progress over perfection

Last but not least, the average entrepreneur aims for perfection over progress, and they feel as though everything has to be in place before they make a decision.

On the other hand, successful entrepreneurs are comfortable with moving a project forward even when the conditions aren’t perfect. They’d rather try and fail (and learn something in the process), rather than not give it a shot.

One of our coaching clients, unfortunately, is one of those guys who’s trapped by his own need for perfection. He’s making 7 figures per year, which is a great start — but because he’s obsessed with getting things perfect, he’s become his own bottleneck. This guy’s business has since stagnated, and unless he changes his mindset, he won’t be able to grow.

As entrepreneurs, we typically look for tangible solutions that we can implement immediately. But keep this in mind: at the end of the day, it’s how you implement these strategies and work past your challenges that determines if you succeed or not. Remember, it’s all about the mindset.

How Chinese Internet Giant Baidu Uses Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

, Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

At the beginning of 2017, Chinese tech company Baidu, the largest provider of Chinese language internet search as well as other digital products and services, committed to emerging business sectors such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Since China has 731 million internet users, almost twice the U.S. population, Baidu’s data set is capable of fueling AI algorithms to make them even better. With this focus on artificial intelligence, Baidu is exploring some very intriguing applications for artificial intelligence and machine learning including in their offices where facial recognition technology makes standard ID cards unnecessary and allows you to order tea from a vending machine.

Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock

They have also recruited top AI talent including one of the world’s most notable AI pioneers Lu Qi, who was previously a Microsoft executive before he became Baidu’s COO in January 2017. Qi will step down in July 2018 for personal reasons. Although he was only at Baidu for a short time, he helped chart a clear strategy for the company’s AI operations that will continue. Here are a few ways Baidu uses artificial intelligence and machine learning.

DuerOS is Baidu’s voice assistant

Since Baidu can leverage its expansive data set, its voice assistant called DuerOS has accumulated more conversation-based skill sets than Alexa, Siri or Cortana. Partnering with other tech companies is one way Baidu hopes to accelerate innovation. They have teamed up with more than 130 DuerOS partners, and the voice assistant is in more than 100 brands of appliances such as refrigerators, TVs, and speakers. Since homes in India, Japan, Europe, and Brazil are more like homes in China, there may be better opportunities for DuerOS to globalize since Alexa, Cortana and Echo are optimized for American households. At CES 2018, Baidu debuted its DuerOS-powered smart screen called Little Fish VS1. This technology can recognize and respond to individual faces.

Mobile partners to accelerate AI-powered devices

Unlike its competitors, Baidu was steadfast in its commitment to desktops and missed the shift to mobile. To survive, Baidu needed a new strategy and artificial intelligence technology provided just the platform to turn the business around. That’s one of the reasons Baidu has committed so aggressively to AI investment. Today, AI products and services are priorities to make them the core of the company’s future. Now, they are partnering with Huawei to develop an open mobile AI platform to support the development of AI-powered smartphones and Qualcomm to optimize its DuerOS for IoT devices and smartphones using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Mobile Platform.

Self-driving cars

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Do Not Buy That Engagement Ring Until You Do This First

I was engaged on the fourth of July.  I popped the question to my long time girlfriend, in front of a London Pub, on our way from Paris — just after the big fireworks finale at EPCOT; it was actually much more romantic than it sounds. But it wasn’t all that unique. Turns out that the 4th makes the top ten list of most popular dates to get engaged, and the only date in the top ten not in the November through February time frame. 

That was about 25 years ago, shortly after starting my second business. I recall telling my business partner that I was going to have to borrow a little from the corporate account to pay for the engagement ring.

Outside of my house and first car it was the single most expensive purchase I’d ever made at the time. I recall how the jeweler carefully handled the dozens of stones of various shapes and sizes spread out on a velvet mat under bright lights. Then there was matching the stone to the setting. I quipped to him that as beautiful as these gems were they were also nothing more than a well controlled monopoly. Surprisingly he agreed, and then said, “It’s tradition. Don’t worry, she’ll love it!”

What? You’ve never Seen A Guy Wearing A Fanny Pack?

For a week after my purchase my girlfriend and I vacationed at Disney World. I carried that ring with me everywhere I’d go in a fanny pack that was permanently attached to my waist. My soon to be fiancé shared with me later that she knew something was a bit off when I refused to go swimming without taking off the fanny pack. As insane as it now seems, I was carrying around the entire bottom line from our first year in business in that pouch. 

Indeed, few marketing campaigns have been as wildly successful in manipulating individual and societal behaviors as the De Beers Diamonds are Forever campaign, which for nearly 100 years has been able to convince the world that a diamond engagement ring (and it’s accompanying price tag) equates directly to the degree of affection and love in a relationship.  

I’m not going to get into the debate of the merits or the true value of diamonds. That’s for you to decide. The fact is that there are far less precious things than a diamond ring that we value just as much if not more.  So, far be it for me to make a case for why that magnificent diamond looses more value the instant it’s yours than a brand new BMW when you drive it off a dealer’s lot.  

However, if a diamond engagement ring is the direction you’ve decided to take (whether your the one giving or receiving) then there’s still one thing that I can’t seem to make sense of. 

Warning: I’m going to get practical here, while realizing that this is typically not the time to be practical, reasonable, or otherwise rational. 

You Did Keep The Receipt, Right?

If I put myself on the receiving side of a marriage proposal involving a ring (and here I do not speak from experience), it occurs to me that the last thing I’d want to do is wear what will likely be the single, most prominent, and constant piece of jewelry I’ll ever own without having had any say in what it looks like. 

Those who have been proposed to can tell me I’m wrong here, but it’s likely because the only two options you had were “YES, and I’ll take the ring,” or “NO, and you can keep the ring.” I’m going to guess that the response of, “Yes, and, oh by the way, can you get me a nicer ring, like maybe a round instead of pear-shaped diamond?” isn’t typically on the list of desired responses, for either the proposed or the proposer.

So, it looks like whoever is receiving the ring is just stuck with it or, with the obvious DeBeers answer, wait another 10-20 years until your boat comes in to upgrade to something you really want to wear.

Enter another option with new-age jeweler Hayden Cudworth.

The best way to describe Hayden Cudworth is as the Warby Parker of engagement and wedding rings. As far as I know they are the first jeweler to allow anyone with a valid credit card to do a free “home try-on” of multiple engagement (and wedding) rings. No strings attached.

No I’m not kidding. This is real and here’s how it works.

If you’re in my demographic you’re likely shuddering; all of this sounds terribly wrong. After all, where’s the element of shock and awe, the empowering feeling of knowing your partner so well that you couldn’t possibly go wrong in picking exactly what she (or he) wants to wear 24/7 for the rest of their married lives. And, after all, isn’t the whole point of a proposal a take it or leave it deal? Oh, let’s also not forget that it’s supposed to be a male-driven process, “Sorry, babe, you want me you had better want the ring too. We’re a package deal!” 

Yeah, you see where this is going, right? As my kids might say, “Ugh!”

Hey, 50-Somethings, It’s All Your Fault

Look, I get the sentimentality of this, and how a ring is just a ring, and it’s the meaning behind it that’s important. But let’s be real here. Isn’t all of that just rationalizing the fact that there haven’t been any other good options? It’s the classic case of sticking ourselves into a behavioral prison that we see no way out of, so instead we decorate it nicely. “Okay, so it’s a pear-shaped diamond that’s forever going to be catching onto your sweaters, and you don’t have a single piece of matching rose gold jewelry to go with it. But, hey, it’s a 3-carat pear-shaped rose gold diamond ring!”

Besides, Millennials, and especially Gen Z, don’t operate that way. Why not? Because we raised to then to be open, transparent, collaborative, communicators, equal partners, part of a team, and then, just to be sure they really did all of that, we built the technologies with which to do all of it exquisitely well.

And yet, we scratch our heads when they want to do just that.  

In fact, companies such as Hayden Cudworth and Warby Parker are just the tip of a massive shift in buyers’ attitudes. Buyers want transparency, elimination of middlemen and brokers, they want to be respected as co-creators, and they want to play an active role in, rather than being pressured into, buying. And they always want a home turf advantage.

If you want to call that being entitled, go ahead. But it’s not goign ot help you sell to them. Instead think of what I call a Loyal Brand in my book Revealing The Invisible; a brand that gets me and respects me. Ignore that by sticking to an old tired model of high pressure selling and you’re pretty much just waiting for someone to come along and disrupt you out of business.

Oh, and in case you were wondering.  No, I’m not in the market for engagement rings. Although, to be fully transparent, I did order my five samples. Hey, you never know. It is the fourth after all. 

Samsung's second-quarter profit seen flagging as smartphone innovation dries up

SEOUL (Reuters) – Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) is expected to post its smallest profit growth in more than a year in the second quarter, as lacklustre sales of its premium Galaxy smartphones overshadow its highly profitable chip business.

FILE PHOTO: A close-up view of a Samsung washing machine is seen in a store in Singapore January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas White/File Photo

Analysts expect Samsung’s smartphone sales to drop in the April-June quarter, following a more than 2 percent drop in the previous quarter as consumers flock to cheaper models from Chinese rivals such as Xiaomi Corp (1810.HK).

Samsung’s lead over Apple Inc (AAPL.O) in the global smartphone market is under pressure after the U.S. firm’s iPhone X exceeded market expectations while a lack of technological innovation dogs Samsung offerings.

“Functions (that) Samsung’s mobile phones have are not attractive enough for customers to spend more money on,” said Song Myung-sup, analyst at HI Investment & Securities.

Samsung’s latest Galaxy S9 flagship phone, launched in mid-March, boasts lots of software but little in the way of technological wizardry. It is on track to sell less in its launch year than its predecessor Galaxy S8 series sold in 2017 after its debut, analysts said.

This is expected to drag on profit growth when the Korean conglomerate posts second-quarter earnings on Friday.

Analysts expect an operating profit of 14.9 trillion won ($13.3 billion) for the quarter, up 5.7 percent from a year earlier but less than the record 15.6 trillion won it posted in the March quarter, according to a Thomson Reuters poll.

Samsung, whose shares are down 9 percent so far this year, is also expected to issue guidance for the April-June quarter on Friday, giving estimates for revenue and operating profit. It will disclose detailed results in late July.

CHINESE CHALLENGERS

Samsung relies on traditional distribution to sell phones, whereas competitors have pulled ahead by leveraging online sales to provide high-end smartphones at competitive prices, Counterpoint analyst Shobhit Srivastava said.

Some investors are skeptical whether Samsung’s upcoming line-up of foldable phones with sleek OLED screens will be innovative enough to gain traction with customers. The new Galaxy Note will debut on August 9 in New York.

“Samsung has to show something that will change the paradigm,” said Park Jung-hoon, a fund manager at HDC Asset Management that owns Samsung Electronics shares.

“Market watchers don’t have high expectations for its smartphone business at the moment, when Chinese players have already caught up in technology and ideas.”

In China, the world’s biggest smartphone market, Samsung’s market share was just 1.3 percent in the first quarter, according to data from research firm Strategy Analytics, compared with Huwawei’s [HWT.UL], 22.5 percent.

Chinese smartphone makers – Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi – held the top spots in China, while Apple was the only foreign firm in the top five.

In India, Xiaomi displaced Samsung as market leader last year and continued to lead in the world’s second-biggest smartphone market in the first quarter, according to a report from research firm Counterpoint.

To be sure, Samsung remains the world’s largest smartphone maker, selling about 80 million gadgets a quarter and holding more than a fifth of the global market.

Its troubles in the mobile segment are overshadowing the success of its chips business, which generates about three quarters of Samsung’s operating profit and about a third of its revenue.

Operating profit in the chips business is expected to grow about 50 percent to a record 12.5 trillion won in the second quarter versus a year ago, according to analysts, as servers, gaming PCs and cryptocurrency mining devices demand more firepower to process streaming data.

Reporting by Ju-min Park and Heekyong Yang; Writing by Sayantani Ghosh; Editing by Stephen Coates

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