3 Key Principles That Keep Startup Businesses From Failing

Very often in my Startup Business Mastery Workshops, I get asked by young entrepreneurs to advice on what I consider the three key principles they could practice to keep their new businesses from failing. After sharing these ideas with many, I thought that it would be useful to share them with you to with your startup.Starting a new business is adventurous and according to statistics, about 80% of new businesses fail within the first two years. Notwithstanding, 90% of businesses started by people who know what they are doing to sustain their businesses, are still growing five years after.This note is meant to give you the key drivers that influence the success of the 90% of those startup businesses that succeed? It is important to bear in mind that successful people are not smarter than you; they are just ordinary people like who have discovered how to do what they are doing better than their competitors.If you have done everything that is crucial to start a business, it is now time for you to live by the following three principles if you must succeed.1. Be CourageousSuccessful business people are intensely courageous in their ability to take risk with their time and money. Look at it this way; a client of mine had just started his new business and everything (business name, website, good service, etc) was just ready to go. My client was not brave enough to invest in advertisement and other means of marketing promotions to get his business out to his potential customers.My client was afraid that, typical of advertisement and other business promotions, there is no guarantee that a particular medium (newspaper, magazine, Pay-Per-Click (PPC), or Search Engine Optimization (SEO)) would automatically pull in the required sales. So he began to play it safe rather than doing what was needful.Would you be better off not advertising and take your start up business ideas for granted? No! You must have the courage to invest anyway, hoping and believing that it would work for you.As business coach, my job is to help my clients to develop customized business strategies that spell out the critical steps and actions to take every single day to achieve their business goals faster. To be successful at this means that my clients must muster enough courage and discipline to implement the agreed strategic actions consistently until the results they expect shows up.The 80% of people that quit their business ideas often discover that they became discouraged very quickly about the unusual long hours and unending problems that successful start up business owners go through. This should not be your case.2. Determination (Persistence)Persistence is the foundation of any business. Successful startups work hard, hard, hard, and they focus on the most important areas of their businesses long enough to achieve their goals. You must determine in your mind to work hard and take the necessary steps to do what is most important for you to be successful.When I work with clients, one of the very roles I play is to help to clarify their visions for starting a new business. We spend time to understand their “WHYs”, the key drivers for starting the business and where they want to take their new business. This is crucial because, until you understand what is driving you into business, you may not appreciate the extent of involvement and sacrifice required you are required to make to become successful.Determination also means that you must love your business and the products and services you are offering your customers. You must be passionate to share them with your prospective customers.In the business of sports, it is often said that the time athletes, footballers, wrestlers and other sports people push really hard is when they are on the edge and hurting, when they’re most tired. Likewise in running a conventional business, persistence keeps you moving constantly forward and upward across the numerous obstacles and challenges you would normally encounter until you succeed. This is what happens with success, many times it comes when you are at the edge of giving up, when you had little or no breathe to push through.3. Be PatientIf you are starting a new business, it takes an average of four to seven (4 -7) years of consistent hard work to become successful. The lesson to learn here is that success does not happen overnight. You have to be on the road long enough to master the trends and be able to see the patterns you are looking for. What keeps you long on that road is patience.As in farming, you must understand the three fundamental stages of sowing, cultivating, and harvesting. These three stages are natural and successful start up business observes them.After you have done everything else to startup your new business, (as in planting the seed), you must obey the natural law of cultivation, a process that is hard to explain except to say that it is a waiting period. You cannot jump from planting to harvesting; that would be tantamount to treating your new business as gambling; a process that looks for the easy way out.Successful business people understand that the cultivation period is outside their control, and the best way to deal with anything that is outside someone’s control is to treat it patiently and calmly.It may be true that you have taken reasonable steps to start up. Also, you may have invested in some of the best business building tools, and now the first three months have gone by with no customer knocking on your door. Another six months have gone past, yet nothing has happened instead, anxiety, doubts and worry are building up; don’t despair. Be patient, as long as you are doing the right things, you will make it.

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Automotive Advertising Agencies Are Listening to Consumers and Consumers Are Talking

I am always amazed when automotive advertising agencies and auto dealers are surprised that human nature has survived on the World Wide Web. Old world wisdom and people skills that served as the foundation for proven selling and marketing processes in brick and mortar facilities can still be applied to the virtual showrooms being built on the Internet Super Highway where 93% of consumers are shopping for their next new or used vehicle as well as their dealer — in that order! People still prefer to do business with people that they like and relationship based selling systems will always be the process of choice for consumers and auto dealers in both the real and the virtual world.The market is a conversation that is started by the consumers’ initial need or want for a product or service that drives them into the marketplace. Our need for social interaction has indeed survived onto the Internet as is evidenced by the explosive growth of social networking through communities like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.. Monetizing this social activity to help auto dealers sell cars can be accomplished by allowing customers to help their friends narrow down their online search to the right vehicle before they enter negotiations with the auto dealer on the wrong one, and it provides a solution to a problem that auto dealers face on a daily basis.The problem starts with the fact that many online customers land on –a — vehicle vs. — the — vehicle which creates the need for them to switch or be switched by the auto dealer before a relationship can be formed and certainly before negotiations should be started. More relevantly, best practices that worked in conventional media applied to the Internet suggest a probable cause that can be easily resolved by new social network powered automotive advertising platforms being introduced as I write, such as ronsmap.com.Auto dealers and even third party inventory websites have applied old world marketing techniques proven in the Newspaper into our new world technology on the Internet when posting their inventory online. They usually list vehicles for sale by grouping makes and models together — and in some cases to further separate them by price — and by listing new vehicles in an entirely different section than used. That previously proven technique doesn’t take advantage of the power of the computers and the artificial intelligence, (AI), that powers the Internet and the applications that have been developed to provide the customer the information they need vs. the information that they may initially search for before they know which questions to ask.A car shopper in the formative stages of their search has only questions, not answers, and as all professional salespeople know, asking the right questions is step one in the sales process to properly qualify a customers’ needs in order to help them buy a vehicle vs. trying to sell them one. Third party inventory based marketing platforms like AutoTrader.Com, for example, list their vehicles as an agent of the dealer, not the consumer. Premium positions provide ATC’s income, not relevancy to the consumer’s search, and the vehicles are presented in long lists even after the consumers’ online inventory search filters are applied. This need to drill down through pages of individual vehicles creates search engine fatigue within the site and even in the initial search on Google and/or their growing video channel, YouTube, which also lists vehicles vertically in endless pages of individual postings. The result is that online shoppers eventually pick one to start asking questions about and even if/when they meet a professional salesperson who tries to qualify them to the correct vehicle the transparency and trust is broken and the salesperson’s honest attempt to ask the right questions is often misunderstood as a sales pitch.Ronsmap has adjusted to the new pull/push dynamic on the Internet where customers first pull the information they need and then push their questions to potential auto dealers either directly or through their integrated Ask-a-Friend / Tell-a-Friend application – vBack. Their consumer centric, social media powered marketing platform is better received by online car shoppers than yesterdays’ push/pull marketing platforms where auto dealers arbitrarily pushed their information out to the Internet and customers had to pull the information in before they knew what they were looking for.They have eliminated search engine fatigue by posting every vehicle for sale on the Internet — new, used, for sale by owner, franchise dealer, independent used car dealer and even all of the third party aggregators — onto one single position on the search engines in a lateral posting vs. a linear one. Ronsmap has developed a proprietary vehicle search engine that posts all listings on to a map with scroll over pins that crossover make, model and source in a geo targeted manner that automatically tells the online customer every vehicle that is for sale in their immediate area. Once they have narrowed down their search in their market they are then invited to share their preliminary findings with their friends on their various social networking communities to solicit their opinion on the vehicle — and the dealer — before they open any contact with the seller. This now educated and empowered consumer is more confident in their selection and they are more likely to be on the right vehicle.Of even more value to the dealer is the fact that Ronsmap has a lead generator function – SellersVantage – that distributes the basic customer contact, or lead, to the auto dealer for free with an option for the dealer to purchase an enhanced lead with consumer and market intelligence that includes a recap of the other vehicles that the consumer has considered on Ronsmap with a detailed competitive comparison of each of those vehicles as well as any other similar vehicles that are posted on the Internet in their immediate market. They also can receive a social networking profile of the consumer that advises the dealer of how many Face Book friends — as well as other recognized social networking communities — that the customer belongs to. Obviously, this enhanced market intelligence allows both the consumer and the dealer to land on the vehicle that fits their needs before any conflicts develop that will negatively impact the relationship and/or the negotiation process leading to a purchase and a sale that benefits all parties; as it should!The referenced flaw in current online marketing techniques has contributed to the fact that many customers land on the wrong vehicle through no fault of their own and new applications and online shopping habits will and can fix that problem from the source. Ronsmap is an example of how developing Internet based applications can resolve the issue before it even exists for tomorrow’s online shopper. The automotive advertising agencies that are listening to consumers who provided the input that served as the genesis for Ronsmap reflect the new understanding by agencies that they must listen and learn from consumers before they presume to sell them anything.

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Commercial Loan Modification – Keys to Success

Applying for a Commercial Mortgage Loan Modification sometimes requires quite a bit of paper work. Commercial Mortgage Loan Modification success or failure depends greatly on the current NOI, Borrower Strength and Vacancy rate. You would do well to have your ducks in a row. To simplify the process, we’ve compiled a list of items you’ll need to the lender or broker who is assisting you.Depending upon your circumstances, you may need to bring additional documents.
Current rent roll
Historical Rent Roll (2yrs if you have it)
Current Income and Expense Report
Current Mortgage Statement
Updated PFS (Personal Financial Statement)
Tenant profiles describing the larger tenants
Commercial Modification is based on the property type, current cash flow, vacancy rate and borrower strength. For example if you have an apartment building that was 98% occupied in 2007 and 2008 but now is at 89% the modification would be targeted to work within the adjusted NOI (net operating income).If you had an Office or Retail building those factors plus the strength of the tenants and their leases would be considered. If you had a known tenant (credit tenant) and a few more units to spread the risk with the credit tenant having a longer term lease the Commercial Loan Modification would be easier to negotiate.In a Commercial Modification negotiation you want to present as strong a case as possible that both you and the property are still a good bet and that helping you weather the current economic conditions would be a better strategy than letting the loan go all together.

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How to Get a Commercial Loan If You Are Self-Employed

Congratulations. You have decided to go into business for yourself and are now looking for a loan to help launch your business. In this downturn economy, getting a commercial loan can be a lot more difficult as more companies are cautious with lending money. Lenders in general are also very weary to lend money without having some type of guarantee, especially if you are a business that is not established. Although you do have challenges ahead of you, it is still possible for you to get a commercial loan. The following are the steps you’ll need to take to get the funding that you need.The first step is to get your credit in order. Even if your business has its own credit file, your personal credit is going to be reviewed as well, as there will most likely have to provide a personal guarantee. In case problems arise with the business, the lender will need to be assured of your ability to pay. If you have a lot of debt and a poor payment history, that will definitely impact your chances of getting a loan. In order to look as good as possible to the lender, try to pay off as many outstanding debts and resolve any payment issues with creditors.The next step in getting a commercial loan is to have a good business plan. A detailed business plan, complete with a budget, financials, and a thorough description of how business operates. The more detailed you are, and the more sound your business plan is, the more a lender can be assured of the strength of your business and your ability to repay the loan. If you have a professional expertise, or track record in the industry that pertains to your business, the more attractive you will look to a financial institution. Conversely, if you appear inexperienced on paper, or don’t have much work experience in the business you’re pursuing, the weaker your chances are and the stronger your plan will have to be.Applying for a commercial loan requires a lot of time and preparation. And although these loans are usually short term, lasting anywhere from 30 to 90 days, you still have to provide a large amount of information. The process may seem tedious, but it will pay off in the long run if you are successful in qualifying for the loan. If you do not qualify, there may be other alternatives that you can pursue, but by putting your best foot forward with a good credit history and strong business plan, you are maximizing your chances of getting funding from any financial institution or lender.

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Increasing Student Success Through Instruction in Self-Determination

An enormous amount of research shows the importance of self-determination (i.e., autonomy) for students in elementary school through college for enhancing learning and improving important post-school outcomes.
Findings

Research by psychologists Richard Ryan, PhD, and Edward Deci, PhD, on Self-Determination Theory indicates that intrinsic motivation (doing something because it is inherently interesting or enjoyable), and thus higher quality learning, flourishes in contexts that satisfy human needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Students experience competence when challenged and given prompt feedback. Students experience autonomy when they feel supported to explore, take initiative and develop and implement solutions for their problems. Students experience relatedness when they perceive others listening and responding to them. When these three needs are met, students are more intrinsically motivated and actively engaged in their learning.

Numerous studies have found that students who are more involved in setting educational goals are more likely to reach their goals. When students perceive that the primary focus of learning is to obtain external rewards, such as a grade on an exam, they often perform more poorly, think of themselves as less competent, and report greater anxiety than when they believe that exams are simply a way for them to monitor their own learning. Some studies have found that the use of external rewards actually decreased motivation for a task for which the student initially was motivated. In a 1999 examination of 128 studies that investigated the effects of external rewards on intrinsic motivations, Drs. Deci and Ryan, along with psychologist Richard Koestner, PhD, concluded that such rewards tend to have a substantially negative effect on intrinsic motivation by undermining people’s taking responsibility for motivating or regulating themselves.

Self-determination research has also identified flaws in high stakes, test focused school reforms, which despite good intentions, has led teachers and administrators to engage in precisely the types of interventions that result in poor quality learning. Dr. Ryan and colleagues found that high stakes tests tend to constrain teachers’ choices about curriculum coverage and curtail teachers’ ability to respond to students’ interests (Ryan & La Guardia, 1999). Also, psychologists Tim Urdan, PhD, and Scott Paris, PhD, found that such tests can decrease teacher enthusiasm for teaching, which has an adverse effect on students’ motivation (Urdan & Paris, 1994).

The processes described in self-determination theory may be particularly important for children with special educational needs. Researcher Michael Wehmeyer found that students with disabilities who are more self-determined are more likely to be employed and living independently in the community after completing high school than students who are less self-determined.

Research also shows that the educational benefits of self-determination principles don’t stop with high school graduation. Studies show how the orientation taken by college and medical school instructors (whether it is toward controlling students’ behavior or supporting the students’ autonomy) affects the students’ motivation and learning.
Significance

Self-determination theory has identified ways to better motivate students to learn at all educational levels, including those with disabilities.
Practical Application

Schools throughout the country are using self-determination instruction as a way to better motivate students and meet the growing need to teach children and youth ways to more fully accept responsibility for their lives by helping them to identify their needs and develop strategies to meet those needs.

Researchers have developed and evaluated instructional interventions and supports to encourage self-determination for all students, with many of these programs designed for use by students with disabilities. Many parents, researchers and policy makers have voiced concern about high rates of unemployment, under-employment and poverty experienced by students with disabilities after they complete their educational programs. Providing support for student self-determination in school settings is one way to enhance student learning and improve important post-school outcomes for students with disabilities. Schools have particularly emphasized the use of self-determination curricula with students with disabilities to meet federal mandates to actively involve students with disabilities in the Individualized Education Planning process.

Programs to promote self-determination help students acquire knowledge, skills and beliefs that meet their needs for competence, autonomy and relatedness (for example, see Steps to Self-determination by educational researchers Sharon Field and Alan Hoffman). Such programs also provide instruction aimed specifically at helping students play a more active role in educational planning (for example, see The Self-directed Individualized Education Plan by Jim Martin, Laura Huber Marshall, Laurie Maxson, & Patty Jerman).

Drs. Field and Hoffman developed a model designed to guide the development of self-determination instructional interventions. According to the model, instructional activities in areas such as increasing self-awareness; improving decision-making, goal-setting and goal-attainment skills; enhancing communication and relationship skills; and developing the ability to celebrate success and learn from reflecting on experiences lead to increased student self-determination. Self-determination instructional programs help students learn how to participate more actively in educational decision-making by helping them become familiar with the educational planning process, assisting them to identify information they would like to share at educational planning meetings, and supporting students to develop skills to effectively communicate their needs and wants. Examples of activities used in self-determination instructional programs include reflecting on daydreams to help students decide what is important to them; teaching students how to set goals that are important to them and then, with the support of peers, family members and teachers, taking steps to achieve those goals. Providing contextual supports and opportunities for students, such as coaching for problem-solving and offering opportunities for choice, are also critical elements that lead to meeting needs for competence, autonomy and relatedness and thus, increasing student self-determination.

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How to Build a Better Educational System: Jigsaw Classrooms

The jigsaw classroom technique can transform competitive classrooms in which many students are struggling into cooperative classrooms in which once-struggling students show dramatic academic and social improvements.
Findings

In the early 1970s, in the wake of the civil rights movement, educators were faced with a social dilemma that had no obvious solution. All over the country, well-intentioned efforts to desegregate America’s public schools were leading to serious problems. Ethnic minority children, most of whom had previously attended severely under-funded schools, found themselves in classrooms composed predominantly of more privileged White children. This created a situation in which students from affluent backgrounds often shone brilliantly while students from impoverished backgrounds often struggled. Of course, this difficult situation seemed to confirm age-old stereotypes: that Blacks and Latinos are stupid or lazy and that Whites are pushy and overly competitive. The end result was strained relations between children from different ethnic groups and widening gaps in the academic achievement of Whites and minorities.

Drawing on classic psychological research on how to reduce tensions between competing groups (e.g., see Allport, 1954; Sherif, 1958; see also Pettigrew, 1998), Elliot Aronson and colleagues realized that one of the major reasons for this problem was the competitive nature of the typical classroom. In a typical classroom, students work on assignments individually, and teachers often call on students to see who can publicly demonstrate his or her knowledge. Anyone who has ever been called to the board to solve a long division problem – only to get confused about dividends and divisors – knows that public failure can be devastating. The snide remarks that children often make when their peers fail do little to remedy this situation. But what if students could be taught to work together in the classroom – as cooperating members of a cohesive team? Could a cooperative learning environment turn things around for struggling students? When this is done properly, the answer appears to be a resounding yes.

In response to real educational dilemmas, Aronson and colleagues developed and implemented the jigsaw classroom technique in Austin, Texas, in 1971. The jigsaw technique is so named because each child in a jigsaw classroom has to become an expert on a single topic that is a crucial part of a larger academic puzzle. For example, if the children in a jigsaw classroom were working on a project about World War II, a classroom of 30 children might be broken down into five diverse groups of six children each. Within each group, a different child would be given the responsibility of researching and learning about a different specific topic: Khanh might learn about Hitler’s rise to power, Tracy might learn about the U.S. entry into the war, Mauricio might learn about the development of the atomic bomb, etc. To be sure that each group member learned his or her material well, the students from different groups who had the same assignment would be instructed to compare notes and share information. Then students would be brought together in their primary groups, and each student would present his or her “piece of the puzzle” to the other group members. Of course, teachers play the important role of keeping the students involved and derailing any tensions that may emerge. For example, suppose Mauricio struggled as he tried to present his information about the atomic bomb. If Tracy were to make fun of him, the teacher would quickly remind Tracy that while it may make her feel good to make fun of her teammate, she is hurting herself and her group – because everyone will be expected to know all about the atomic bomb on the upcoming quiz.
Significance
When properly carried out, the jigsaw classroom technique can transform competitive classrooms in which many students are struggling into cooperative classrooms in which once-struggling students show dramatic academic and social improvements (and in which students who were already doing well continue to shine). Students in jigsaw classrooms also come to like each other more, as students begin to form cross-ethnic friendships and discard ethnic and cultural stereotypes. Finally, jigsaw classrooms decrease absenteeism, and they even seem to increase children’s level of empathy (i.e., children’s ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes). The jigsaw technique thus has the potential to improve education dramatically in a multi-cultural world by revolutionizing the way children learn.
Practical Application

Since its demonstration in the 1970s, the jigsaw classroom has been used in hundreds of classrooms settings across the nation, ranging from the elementary schools where it was first developed to high school and college classrooms (e.g., see Aronson, Blaney, Stephan, Rosenfield, & Sikes, 1977; Perkins & Saris, 2001; Slavin, 1980). Researchers know that the technique is effective, incidentally, because it has been carefully studied using solid research techniques. For example, in many cases, students in different classrooms who are covering the same material are randomly assigned to receive either traditional instruction (no intervention) or instruction by means of the jigsaw technique. Studies in real classrooms have consistently revealed enhanced academic performance, reductions in stereotypes and prejudice, and improved social relations.

Aronson is not the only researcher to explore the merits of cooperative learning techniques. Shortly after Aronson and colleagues began to document the power of the jigsaw classroom, Robert Slavin, Elizabeth Cohen and others began to document the power of other kinds of cooperative learning programs (see Cohen & Lotan, 1995; Slavin, 1980; Slavin, Hurley, & Chamberlain, 2003). As of this writing, some kind of systematic cooperative learning technique had been applied in about 1500 schools across the country, and the technique appears to be picking up steam. Perhaps the only big question that remains about cooperative learning techniques such as the jigsaw classroom is why these techniques have not been implemented even more broadly than they already have.

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Have Your Children Had Their Anti-Smoking Shots?

Findings

In the early 1960s, social psychologist William McGuire published some classic papers showing that it is surprisingly easy to change people’s attitudes about things that we all wholeheartedly accept as true. For example, for speakers armed with a little knowledge of persuasion, it is remarkably easy to convince almost anyone that brushing one’s teeth is not such a great idea. McGuire’s insight into this curious phenomenon was that it is easy to change people’s minds about things that they have always taken for granted precisely because most people have little if any practice resisting attacks on attitudes that no one ever questions.

Taking this logic a little further, McGuire asked if it might be possible to train people to resist attacks on their beliefs by giving them practice at resisting arguments that they could easily refute. Specifically, McGuire drew an analogy between biological resistance to disease and psychological resistance to persuasion. Biological inoculation works by exposing people to a weakened version of an attacking agent such as a virus. People’s bodies produce antibodies that make them immune to the attacking agent, and when a full-blown version of the agent hits later in life, people win the biological battle against the full-blown disease. Would giving people a little practice fending off a weak attack on their attitudes make it easier for people to resist stronger attacks on their attitudes that come along later? The answer turns out to be yes. McGuire coined the phrase attitude inoculation to refer to the process of resisting strong persuasive arguments by getting practice fighting off weaker versions of the same arguments.
Significance

Once attitude inoculation had been demonstrated consistently in the laboratory, researchers decided to see if attitude inoculation could be used to help parents, teachers, and social service agents deal with a pressing social problem that kills about 440,000 people in the U.S. every year: cigarette smoking. Smoking seemed like an ideal problem to study because children below the age of 10 or 12 almost always report negative attitudes about smoking. However, in the face of peer pressure to be cool, many of these same children become smokers during middle to late adolescence.
Practical Application

Adolescents change their attitudes about smoking (and become smokers) because of the power of peer pressure. Researchers quickly realized that if they could inoculate children against pro-smoking arguments (by teaching them to resist pressure from their peers who believed that smoking is “cool”), they might be able to reduce the chances that children would become smokers. A series of field studies of attitude inoculation, conducted in junior high schools and high schools throughout the country, demonstrated that brief interventions using attitude inoculation dramatically reduced rates of teenage smoking. For instance, in an early study by Cheryl Perry and colleagues (1980), high school students inoculated junior high schools students against smoking by having the younger kids role-play the kind of situations they might actually face with a peer who pressured them to try a cigarette. For example, when a role-playing peer called a student “chicken” for not being willing to try an imaginary cigarette, the student practiced answers such as “I’d be a real chicken if I smoked just to impress you.” The kids who were inoculated in this way were about half as likely to become smokers as were kids in a very similar school who did not receive this special intervention.

Public service advertising campaigns have also made use of attitude inoculation theory by encouraging parents to help their children devise strategies for saying no when peers encourage them to smoke. Programs that have made whole or partial use of attitude inoculation programs have repeatedly documented the effectiveness of attitude inoculation to prevent teenage smoking, to curb illicit drug use, and to reduce teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. In comparison with old-fashioned interventions such as simple education about the risks of smoking or teenage pregnancy, attitude inoculation frequently reduces risky behaviors by 30-70% (see Botvin et al., 1995; Ellickson & Bell, 1990; Perry et al., 1980). As psychologist David Myers put it in his popular social psychology textbook, “Today any school district or teacher wishing to use the social psychological approach to smoking prevention can do so easily, inexpensively, and with the hope of significant reductions in future smoking rates and health costs.” So the next time you think about inoculating kids to keep them healthy, make sure you remember that one of the most important kinds of inoculation any kid can get is a psychological inoculation against tobacco.

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Early Intervention Can Improve Low-Income Children’s Cognitive Skills and Academic Achievement

National Head Start program conceptualized while psychologists were beginning to study preventive intervention for young children living in poverty.
Findings
As a group, children who live in poverty tend to perform worse in school than do children from more privileged backgrounds. For the first half of the 20th century, researchers attributed this difference to inherent cognitive deficits. At the time, the prevailing belief was that the course of child development was dictated by biology and maturation. By the early 1960s, this position gave way to the notion popularized by psychologists such as J. McVicker Hunt and Benjamin Bloom that intelligence could rather easily be shaped by the environment. There was very little research at the time to support these speculations but a few psychologists had begun to study whether environmental manipulation could prevent poor cognitive outcomes. Results of studies by psychologists Susan Gray and Rupert Klaus (1965), Martin Deutsch (1965) and Bettye Caldwell and former U.S. Surgeon General Julius Richmond (1968) supported the notion that early attention to physical and psychological development could improve cognitive ability.
Significance

These preliminary results caught the attention of Sargent Shriver, President Lyndon Johnson’s chief strategist in implementing an arsenal of antipoverty programs as part of the War on Poverty. His idea for a school readiness program for children of the poor focused on breaking the cycle of poverty. Shriver reasoned that if poor children could begin school on an equal footing with wealthier classmates, they would have a better of chance of succeeding in school and avoiding poverty in adulthood. He appointed a planning committee of 13 professionals in physical and mental health, early education, social work, and developmental psychology. Their work helped shape what is now known as the federal Head Start program.

The three developmental psychologists in the group were Urie Bronfenbrenner, Mamie Clark, and Edward Zigler. Bronfenbrenner convinced the other members that intervention would be most effective if it involved not just the child but the family and community that comprise the child-rearing environment. Parent involvement in school operations and administration were unheard of at the time, but it became a cornerstone of Head Start and proved to be a major contributor to its success. Zigler had been trained as a scientist and was distressed that the new program was not going to be field-tested before its nationwide launch. Arguing that it was not wise to base such a massive, innovative program on good ideas and concepts but little empirical evidence, he insisted that research and evaluation be part of Head Start. When he later became the federal official responsible for administering the program, Zigler (often referred to as the “father of Head Start”) worked to cast Head Start as a national laboratory for the design of effective early childhood services.

Although it is difficult to summarize the hundreds of empirical studies of Head Start outcomes, Head Start does seem to produce a variety of benefits for most children who participate. Although some studies have suggested that the intellectual advantages gained from participation in Head Start gradually disappear as children progress through elementary school, some of these same studies have shown more lasting benefits in the areas of school achievement and adjustment.
Practical Application

Head Start began as a great experiment that over the years has yielded prolific results. Some 20 million children and families have participated in Head Start since the summer of 1965; current enrollment approaches one million annually, including those in the new Early Head Start that serves families with children from birth to age 3. Psychological research on early intervention has proliferated, creating an expansive literature and sound knowledge base. Many research ideas designed and tested in the Head Start laboratory have been adapted in a variety of service delivery programs. These include family support services, home visiting, a credentialing process for early childhood workers, and education for parenthood. Head Start’s efforts in preschool education spotlighted the value of school readiness and helped spur today’s movement toward universal preschool.

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Family-Like Environment Better for Troubled Children and Teens

The Teaching-Family Model changes bad behavior through straight talk and loving relationships.
Findings

In the late 1960′s, psychologists Elaine Phillips, Elery Phillips, Dean Fixsen, and Montrose Wolf developed an empirically tested treatment program to help troubled children and juvenile offenders who had been assigned to residential group homes. These researchers combined the successful components of their studies into the Teaching-Family Model, which offers a structured treatment regimen in a family-like environment. The model is built around a married couple (teaching-parents) that lives with children in a group home and teaches them essential interpersonal and living skills. Not only have teaching parents’ behaviors and techniques been assessed for their effectiveness, but they have also been empirically tested for whether children like them. Teaching-parents also work with the children’s parents, teachers, employers, and peers to ensure support for the children’s positive changes. Although more research is needed, preliminary results suggest that, compared to children in other residential treatment programs, children in Teaching-Family Model centers have fewer contacts with police and courts, lower dropout rates, and improved school grades and attendance.

Couples are selected to be teaching-parents based on their ability to provide individualized and affirming care. Teaching-parents then undergo an intensive year-long training process. In order to maintain their certification, teaching-parents and Teaching-Family Model organizations are evaluated every year, and must meet the rigorous standards set by the Teaching-Family Association.
Significance
The Teaching-Family Model is one of the few evidence-based residential treatment programs for troubled children. In the past, many treatment programs viewed delinquency as an illness, and therefore placed children in institutions for medical treatment. The Teaching-Family Model, in contrast, views children’s behavior problems as stemming from their lack of essential interpersonal relationships and skills. Accordingly, the Teaching-Family Model provides children with these relationships and teaches them these skills, using empirically validated methods. With its novel view of problem behavior and its carefully tested and disseminated treatment program, the Teaching-Family Model has helped to transform the treatment of behavioral problems from impersonal interventions at large institutions to caring relationships in home and community settings. The Teaching-Family Model has also demonstrated how well-researched treatment programs can be implemented on a large scale. Most importantly, the Teaching-Family Model has given hope that young people with even the most difficult problems or behaviors can improve the quality of their lives and make contributions to society.
Practical Application
In recent years, the Teaching-Family Model has been expanded to include foster care facilities, home treatment settings, and even schools. The Teaching-Family Model has also been adapted to accommodate the needs of physically, emotionally, and sexually abused children; emotionally disturbed and autistic children and adults; medically fragile children; and adults with disabilities. Successful centers that have been active for over 30 years include the Bringing it All Back Home Study Center in North Carolina, the Houston Achievement Place in Texas, and the Girls and Boys Town in Nebraska. Other Teaching-Family Model organizations are in Alberta (Canada), Arkansas, Hawaii, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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Believing You Can Get Smarter Makes You Smarter

Thinking about intelligence as changeable and malleable, rather than stable and fixed, results in greater academic achievement, especially for people whose groups bear the burden of negative stereotypes about their intelligence.
Findings

Can people get smarter? Are some racial or social groups smarter than others? Despite a lot of evidence to the contrary, many people believe that intelligence is fixed, and, moreover, that some racial and social groups are inherently smarter than others. Merely evoking these stereotypes about the intellectual inferiority of these groups (such as women and Blacks) is enough to harm the academic perfomance of members of these groups. Social psychologist Claude Steele and his collaborators (2002) have called this phenomenon “stereotype threat.”

Yet social psychologists Aronson, Fried, and Good (2001) have developed a possible antidote to stereotype threat. They taught African American and European American college students to think of intelligence as changeable, rather than fixed – a lesson that many psychological studies suggests is true. Students in a control group did not receive this message. Those students who learned about IQ’s malleability improved their grades more than did students who did not receive this message, and also saw academics as more important than did students in the control group. Even more exciting was the finding that Black students benefited more from learning about the malleable nature of intelligence than did White students, showing that this intervention may successfully counteract stereotype threat.
Significance

This research showed a relatively easy way to narrow the Black-White academic achievement gap. Realizing that one’s intelligence may be improved may actually improve one’s intelligence, especially for those whose groups are targets of stereotypes alleging limited intelligence (e.g., Blacks, Latinos, and women in math domains.)
Practical Application

Blackwell, Dweck, and Trzesniewski (2002) recently replicated and applied this research with seventh-grade students in New York City. During the first eight weeks of the spring term, these students learned about the malleability of intelligence by reading and discussing a science-based article that described how intelligence develops. A control group of seventh-grade students did not learn about intelligence’s changeability, and instead learned about memory and mnemonic strategies. As compared to the control group, students who learned about intelligence’s malleability had higher academic motivation, better academic behavior, and better grades in mathematics. Indeed, students who were members of vulnerable groups (e.g., those who previously thought that intelligence cannot change, those who had low prior mathematics achievement, and female students) had higher mathematics grades following the intelligence-is-malleable intervention, while the grades of similar students in the control group declined. In fact, girls who received the intervention matched and even slightly exceeded the boys in math grades, whereas girls in the control group performed well below the boys.

These findings are especially important because the actual instruction time for the intervention totaled just three hours. Therefore, this is a very cost-effective method for improving students’ academic motivation and achievement.
Cited Research

Aronson, J., Fried, C. B., & Good, C. (2001). Reducing the effects of stereotype threat on African American college students by shaping theories of intelligence. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 1-13.

Steele, C. M., Spencer, S. J., & Aronson, J. (2002), Contending with group image: The psychology of stereotype and social identity threat. In Mark P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, Vol. 34, pp. 379-440. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, Inc.
Additional Sources

Blackwell, L., Dweck, C., & Trzesniewski, K. (2002). Achievement across the adolescent transition: A longitudinal study and an intervention. Manuscript in preparation.

Dweck, C., & Leggett, E. (1988). A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality. Psychological Review, 95, 256-273.

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