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Four Questions to Ask to Find the Right Storage Container

American use of storage containers has risen tremendously over the past few decades. Increased mobility and the fact that the average individual owns more and more stuff has made out-of-home storage the go-to option for a whopping 11% of Americans.

Security is undeniably a top priority. While theft isn’t exactly rampant, up to 8.9% of facilities have experienced break-ins. Whether you’re evaluating or moving into a new storage space, here are a few things to keep in mind.

What Are You Storing?

The degree of security that you’re going to need is directly dependent on what exactly you’re planning to store. Some items are in obvious need of protection. If you’re stashing jewelry, valuable art pieces, or anything small and expensive, then take more extreme measures.

Some less obvious targets also have to be kept in mind. Identity theft is a constant worry, and as many Americans keep old paper records lying around, some thieves may break in looking for sensitive personal information. One man’s trash is another man’s credit-card-unlocking treasure, so keep those documents buttoned up tight.

What Sort of Security Does a Facility Have?

Given how popular storage units are, there’s little surprise that you’ll find plenty of companies offering them. Options range from extremely basic, outdoor cargo units to high-tech castles that would make your average bank blush with envy.

Understand the situation. A unit for all of your excess junk doesn’t need more than the most basic options. Even then, if you plan on keeping anything you remotely care about in that unit, even for just a night, be wary. If you buy a bargain plan to store premium material, you only have yourself to blame if problems pop up.

Will Your Unit Be Indoors or Outdoors?

Outdoor options are less expensive, and if you’re just storing an old treadmill or some furniture, they’ll do just fine. But they’re easier to gain access to and harder for on-site security to monitor.

Is a Guard or Site Manager Around During High-Traffic Periods?

Personnel can vary radically from company to company. Will your unit be under surveillance? Even the shoddiest storage operation should have at least a few closed circuit television cameras set up. Better ones should have even more, and hopefully someone to monitor them.

If you’re looking at storage, some fancier options may be available. Upscale facilities may have biometric locks or multi-layered security, both of which may be necessary if you’re storing valuable items.

Impact Investing

These are investments made into organisations, companies and funds with the intention to generate a measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact along-with a sustainable financial return. These are typically “for-profit” businesses as against philanthropic and not-for-profit social enterprises. Their mission is to create a more inclusive environment with the haves and the have-nots of the world getting equal access to opportunities in all domains of life.

Impact investments adopt the approach that deliberately builds intangible and tangible financial assets, (generally at market-rates) and wherein the economic value is not compromised in favour of social value. These social venture capital funds are equity or debt investments over $ US 1000 without an exit strategy vis ” a ” vis traditional businesses.

Impact Investments aka social venture capital can be done by socially and environmentally conscious individuals, large corporations, DFIs, and pension funds and can be directed to achieve certain missions. It has the potential to unlock and galvanize trillions of dollars of private capital to solve large scale complex social and economic problems of the world like K-12 education, child malnutrition, environmental preservation, social integration, the ageing population, healthcare, long-term unemployment and agriculture, to name a few. With so much at stake, there is a need for collaboration between all stakeholders in order to realise the full potential of the desired impact.

Funds can be harnessed in an innovative manner in the form of Social Investment Bonds (SIBs) and Social Success Notes, and through different investment vehicles like microfinance loans, web- based investor platforms and investor networks.

JPMorgan Chase in collaboration with the Rockfeller Foundation, USAID, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have done pioneering work by investing their social finance in Wilmar Flowers in Kenya through the African Agricultural Capital Fund (ACCF) which will enrol the services of at least 2,50,000 smallholder farmers to supply and export flowers. This is but one project in their portfolio.

In India too, there are several organisations like Aavishkar and Acumen, which are involved in impact investment across domains of education, healthcare and agriculture. Aavishkar with Karadi Path, which has a unique methodology of language learning, are helping school children achieve faster proficiency in languages through their programs of Magic English and Power English, whereas the Vatsalya Hospitals and the MeraDoctor App have helped scores of underserved people gain access to world class healthcare at very affordable rates. Acumen has invested in clean energy, among scores of other sectors, through supporting the solar light manufacturing company d.light, with the help of DOW and IDEO.org. As a result of this intervention, unit sales scaled up to about 500,000 per month.

The above are just a few examples of Impact investments and their positive, far reaching impact which has the ability to change the course of mankind.

Measurement of the impact of investments is an inextricable part of investing. Currently, organisations use 3 interdependent impact metrics to evaluate themselves viz. IRIS, PULSE and GIIRS. IRIS encompasses a set of standard definitions used by all stakeholders to define performance, PULSE is a tool which manages various portfolios of the company and GIIRS is a tool that rates impact and is also an analytics platform that assesses companies depending on their social and environmental performance.

This humungous work is definitely a work in progress, the high tides of which seem unbeatable. The amalgamation of Capital, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, for the benefit of mankind, seems to have finally come of age!!

Managing the Family Blender – Making Blended Families Work

Do you own a blender in your home? If you do, what type of blender would you say you own? Is it small, medium, or large? Is it one of those high-tech blenders with multiple buttons with different speeds? Or is it an older style blender with just a few buttons with only two or three different speeds? I do own blender in my home. I would have to say it is a rather large blender. As the man of my house and the head of my house hold, I take it upon myself to be the manager of the blender in my house. You see, the blender that I am referring to is not the kind that you may think. I am actually referring to my family.

I have a blended a family. My wife and I both come from previous marriages. In each of those marriages, we produced children. When my wife and I met and fell in love, we decided to bring our families together to form one big family. We are what you might call the modern-day “Brady Bunch.” The blended family is much more common today than it ever has been. If not handled the right way, being a part of a blended family can be a nightmare. On the other hand, if properly managed, a blended family can form a bond that can allow for the removal of the “Blended” and can just be a family; a healthy, supportive, and loving one.

My wife is 100% Dominican. She was born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She moved to the United States at an early age and lived between New York, New Jersey, and Texas. I am African-American. I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. We are both ex-military and currently reside in North Carolina. Between my wife and I and our children, we bring three different ethnicities to the table. We also bring different upbringings, cultures, personalities, and attitudes as well. This can be a very stressful mix if the right frames of mind are not brought to the forefront. Luckily, my wife and I came to a very good understanding of how we want to raise our family. We both understand that we must have a sound foundation and that we must set the standards for our family and then stick by them.

We understand that bringing a blended family together is hard work and it takes great effort. It takes time for a family like this to gel together. It is not an overnight procedure. It is also very difficult to put a timeline on a process such as this. Each family dynamic is different and may take varying amounts of time to achieve the ultimate goal, which is a single, fully functional unit of love, respect and support for one another. We also understand that it takes plenty of fortitude to be able to manage the large mix of personalities and different attitudes, wants and desires. This effort has to be looked at as a life-long commitment to making the family work and everyone has to get on one accord and do their part. My wife and I made that commitment before we even got married and we recognize that putting the blender to work in our family starts with us. As the head of my house, I feel that it ultimately starts with me setting the tone.

Here are some concepts that my wife and I decided to incorporate into our family culture.

1) Rules must be put in place to develop discipline and responsibility. Once my wife and I agree on a house rule, we hold everyone accountable. Each child is held to the same standard. No one receives preferential treatment and everyone who violates a house rule is subject to the same punishment.

2) Communication on our part as parents is critical when dealing with our children. We have to always be in agreement with everything when it comes to the children. We never let any of our children play us against one another. Whatever my wife tells them, I back her up and vice versa. We never have disagreements in front of them. We save those for when we are alone and can talk things out in private.

3) Respect is huge in our family. There are all boys here in the house. I am tough on them when it comes to respecting the woman of the house. There is to be absolutely no disrespect of any kind displayed toward my wife at any time. It does not matter if it is her biological sons or her step-sons. I correct with haste, any actions that I deem disrespectful towards her. Teaching the boys how to respect women is a priority of mine and I will work hard to instill that quality in all of them. I demand respect as well, but the dynamic of my relationship with the boys is slightly different and I go out of my way to distinguish that difference with them.

4) Education is very important to our family. We try to instill the value of education into our children. We don’t just do that by word of mouth. We also demonstrate it through our actions. My wife is pursuing her undergraduate degree and I am working on a degree as well. They see us faithfully completing our school work as well as pursuing our career dreams. We want them to understand that they must work hard to achieve their goals and dreams. We make sure they understand that whatever they want to do or be, they can if they put their minds to it and work hard.

5) Family fun is necessary for bonding and just being able to unwind and enjoy being with each other. We consistently do family events together. Whether it is a cruise, sporting event, going to church or to a movie, a trip to one of our favorite restaurants, or just taking a drive to Baskin Robbins for some ice cream, we spend lots of time together doing fun things as a family. We work hard, so we should play hard as well. We also support one another’s individual events. All of our children like to play different sports. We all support each other in our individual events too. We want everyone in this family to know they have a support system at home that they can trust and depend on.

6) Love is the key ingredient that helps to make everything work. We try as hard as we can to create an environment that is full of love. My wife and I are very affectionate in our home. We show lots of affection in front of our boys so they can see it. I love my wife and I show her through my affections towards her. If they follow my example, my boys will also learn how to properly treat a lady, with kindness and respect. We also show plenty of affection towards the boys. We want them to know that we love them. We want them to understand that we desire to see all of them grow up to be happy and successful men.

Our overall goal is to ensure that our children have a safe, healthy, and loving environment where they can grow, thrive, and become well-rounded young men. We believe that the six concepts that we incorporated into our family culture have begun to reap great rewards. We still have a lot more to do and a long way to go, but we are well on our way to a great start in developing our family. I believe the same concepts can also be helpful to anyone who has a blended family.

Remember, nurturing a blended family is like making the perfect cake batter! Once you have all the ingredients, blend them together until you have a smooth mix. When the cake is baked in the oven at the right temperature for the right amount of time, you will have a nice looking, sweet-smelling, and great tasting dessert. This is the way I see my family, which is why I work so hard to make sure our family is built on unity, love, and respect. That is why I consider myself to be the manager of the blender in my home. Truthfully, every member of the blended family has to contribute in order to make the family a success. So in a way, each person is a manager of the family blender. Let the blender in your house work for you!