Lawrence Blake Group Int'l

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Happy 65th National Day to our friends in China! Here’s a photo of the beautiful festivities earlier today via Bing

lawrenceblakeasia:

Happy 65th National Day to our friends in China! Here’s a photo of the beautiful festivities earlier today via Bing

Statement by Lawrence Blake Group International Founder on Un-monitored Time Off For Employees


"Un-monitored days off for sickness or family emergencies is such a new-age concept, that most business owners are too nervous to even consider it. But imagine… If your employees feel so confident, respected, and loved in their positions’, they will ONLY miss days that are, without question, emergencies. I’m excited to begin implementing this belief within the corporate culture of Lawrence Blake Group Int’l immediately. Employees that work for businesses which put a limit on paid sick days and emergency time off often feel as though they can’t afford to take off once they have used up their allotted number of days. As a result, they end up coming into work, spreading their germs and causing their colleagues to get sick and have to take time off. Unlimited sick days actually result in less absenteeism, and adds a sense of trust within an organization that surpasses anything which was thought possible. I applaud forward-thinking entrepreneurs like Richard Branson for taking leaps in the direction of a stronger, more loving humanity."  — L. Blake Harvey, Founder, Lawrence Blake Group International

September 28, 2014, New York, NY

Contact: Damila Howard, (571) 882-9125, dhoward@lawrenceblake.com

Defining Your Paradise and What You Want From It


"par·a·dise – noun. Defined as “a place or state of bliss, felicity, or delight“, "  — According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

The word can conjure up mental images of tropical palm trees, serene blue ocean water, and white sand hugging your feet.

While these are typically associated with the word, paradise, this surely isn’t the only paradise that exists.

Imagine the cold, blustery wind, and snow. Doesn’t ring up “paradise” much, right? And to many others, this could be the type of weather to avoid.

But to many, (shout out to you snow sports enthusiasts), paradise is the cold & snowy weather.

I took it one step further, and randomly asked people on the streets of Minneapolis & New York City; and couchsurfers I’ve met in person or online: what paradise means to them?

What I’ve found:

  1. Debt free. Over and over again, many people imagine their paradise where bills and financial obligations are at minimal or non-existent. Many have achieved living the debt free lifestyle through becoming minimalist and taking charge of where to best spend their money.
  2. Independent Lifestyle. Waking up and doing what you want, when you want, and wherever you want. Interestingly, the modern day career world is becoming two-sided on this issue, as some organizations allow flexible work-at-home hours, whereas other places shun the idea of allowing people to work outside the office.
  3. Tropical Island. I don’t think I need to mention much about this. Majority of people envision there paradise in a warm location, with beautiful sandy beaches. If you really are after the idea of living the tropical lifestyle, I highly recommend you check out Dan Andrew’s Tropical MBA. You’ll be inspired, and it may blow your mind if you’re new to the idea.
  4. Sustainability & Environmental Awareness. As a meteorologist and eco-apparel enthusiast, this was a wonderful discovery and made me quite happy to observe. Many people have listed that they imagine paradise where there would be living in a  community that is at or close to the self-sustaining stage. You may think these would be stereotypical “hippies” skewing the results for this paradise. But in reality, many regular folks cited that consumption and becoming more educated and aware of our environmental impacts as reasons to strive towards this paradise.
  5. Traveling. Whether it be backpacking through Europe, vagabonding around the Southern Hemisphere, or flying the round-the-world trip … travel is definitely on the minds of people who envision their future paradise. This would make sense as traveling is our personal nature to explore what is simply around us. And many get the thrill of adventure in going to places they’ve never been to before.

How do you define your paradise?

As the examples above illustrate, we will tend to first visualize what our paradise will embody. One person’s contentment with paradise, can be the next person’s disappointment.

Your paradise can fall under the following categories (of course, not inclusive):

A. Location

B. Career

C. Relationships

D. Finances

Though I don’t necessarily have these categories in any order, but I will note that I purposely put finances at the bottom. While yes, money can help, and in the end, if you are making $50k to $100k … that sounds great. But with a time frame of having to work 40+ hours/week, when will you have the time to pursue “your paradise”?

A salary less than $50k, but with work weeks of 20 hours or less, would be much more beneficial than simply working away and losing time. And if you’re in the scenario of making less than $50k, working 40+ hours/week, and hating your job … then it’s time for your to make & act on serious changes!

What Your Paradise “Should” Do For You:

  1. Give you the “rush feeling”. Or the “high” feeling. However you’d like to describe it, it’s got to make you happy. I mean, I hope that would be the reason why you’d ever take the time to go after your paradise? That would be the exact reason why I’d drop whatever I was doing, and go surfing any day! If you had the choice, what would you drop now, and go after?
  2. Challenge and stretch your mind. For your paradise to bring meaning, it has to challenge you. If you’ve been afraid to travel to some country, maybe ask yourself to go to that country and see it for yourself. Or if you’re looking to learn something new, like SEO/web design or languages, then challenge yourself also pick up these skills and become an expert at them.
    • Whatever the case, if you envision your paradise simply laying around, everyday (though this would be wonderful), you’ll start boring yourself. And then you may start complaining about your paradise life. And that’s exactly what you don’t want to happen!
  3. Freedom. Such an awesome word. But so poorly achieved. Ultimately, when you want to achieve your paradise, you’re looking to work on the passions “you” want, at your own time.

What You Need To Be Prepared For:

  1. It’s not an escape. Vacations are for escape. Building “your paradise” lifestyle is not. From here on out, you need to think about the long-term results and goals, not the short-term benefits you get. Which lead us into …
  2. Instability short-term. Stability long-term. You will run into so many obstacles and problems. That’s just the reality of going after your dreams. Be prepared to be mentally strong, to push through the doubt and fears. To feel at times, emotionally drained.
    • And if you’re thinking, well, why don’t I just stay with my corporate job for awhile? I’d like to see this situation as the reverse. You may achieve stability now, but who knows what will happen within 5 years, let alone within a year. With the world economy fluctuating so violently, you are simply at the mercy of higher up management, who control and decide your fate.
  3. It’s hard work. You probably won’t be making much money at all. But then again, you go after your paradise because you enjoy it regardless of pay. However, it is still important to plan out a sustainable source of income to prolong whatever your paradise maybe. 
  4. Be prepared to meet resistance. Your friends, co-workers, and family members may not understand you at all … and may never understand your new lifestyle. Don’t bother trying to explain.

Harrison Tsai is Chief Information Officer at Lawrence Blake Group International. Learn more about Harrison.

‪#‎TBT‬ Daniel.Silverstain at last year’s Fashion Front Awards, a staple fashion concept event our firm has been producing for four years to support arts education for youth in NYC’s public schools. via Spirit And Flesh Magazine.

Avoiding banking fees while traveling overseas


A couple weeks ago, I announced I was heading off to Southeast Asia.

Step one accomplished: Booked tickets.

The next question to cross my mind was:

How to manage my money while traveling overseas?

There are many options available, therefore there is no “single” answer. However, most people seek out the best banking options with the least or no banking fees when withdrawing cash or charging purchases on credit cards.

I currently use Bank of America since they are the only U.S. bank to be part of the Global ATM Alliance. Essentially, the Global ATM Alliance is a group of banks worldwide, that let card users of those member banks to use ATM machines worldwide without paying for international ATM fees or surcharges. For complete list of participating banks, click on this PDF link.

When I stayed in Cabarete, Dominican Republic last summer, I simply went to a Scotiabank ABM to withdraw money using my Bank of America debit card and payed no ATM fees. While there was no foreign transaction fee listed on my receipt, foreign ATM machines may still charge foreign transaction fee. It’s best to check up on your respective bank on what they specifically charge and/or reimburse in transaction fees.

But what about countries that don’t have any of the participating banks listed within the Global ATM Alliance? Or what if I don’t use one of the Global ATM Alliance banks?

Good question. I asked that myself when I was researching options to get money in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, & Panama. For Nicaragua, I found that there was no participating Global ATM Alliance bank. For Costa Rica & Panama, I discovered Scotiabank had ABMs there. But here is the catch … the ABMs in Costa Rica & Panama don’t count! (As of Feb 23, 2012: Costa Rica, Panama, El Salvador, & Belize Scotiabank ABM branches “do not” have Free Access).

What’s the best option?

Charles Schwab. Specifically, with Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking.

I don’t know why I hadn’t found out about them, but I wish I had. Charles Schwab debit cards allow for unlimited reimbursements of ATM fees, worldwide! Pretty sweet deal!

Along with that, no account minimum and no monthly maintenance fee, that many other major banks love, love to charge you on. I didn’t believe this at first so the very friendly Charles Schwab representatives simply convinced me (awesome customer service as well!).

What’s the process like to open an account?

Simple & smooth. Charles Schwab did a great job getting my account set up and ready … in a very short amount of time. I opened my account 2 weeks before I had to leave, which left very little time to get the debit card.

Getting your account approved takes around 2-4 days depending on verification process through the bank & Patriot Act (the longer part). Then you have to fund your checking account in order for the debit card to be created and mailed out. From that point, the debit card can take 7-10 days to get to your mailbox. I opted for expedited mail ($15 charge … well worth it compared to $120 in ATM fees with other option), to be sure it got to me before I left.

Tips to keep in mind

  • When you create your PIN number, don’t start it with zero. It may not work in most ATM machines worldwide. I’m not entirely sure why, but I was simply told not to being with zero.
  • Make sure to link your checking account to some other transferable source of fund.
  • Reduce the daily withdrawal & point of sale amount to something you feel more comfortable. This helps me stay within my budget, but also reduces the amount of loss should the card be stolen.
  • Call your bank to inform them of your travel plans. Don’t want them to flag your card while you travel.
  • Have backup options such as another debit card or credit card should one of them not work or be stolen.
  • Keep photo copies of your cards, one at home, and another with you should you lose your card information. Also make note of the international phone number of your bank should you need to contact them.

This post mostly goes over debit card option, particularly for US readers. If you want more comprehensive information for other worldwide options, check out Nomadic Matt’s post on avoiding bank fees!

I’m not to familiar with traveler’s check, but I’ve heard from many travelers that it’s not convenient and that it’s not accepted in most countries around the world. As for credit cards, some will charge either a flat or percentage fee to use on purchases overseas. Chase Sapphire Preferred & many of Capital One’s credit cards are examples that have no foreign transaction fee.

Now that you’ve finished reading through this post, looking for reliable banking option while traveling? Go with Charles Schwab.

Harrison Tsai, Chief Information Officer at Lawrence Blake Group International. Learn more about Harrison.

Prioritizing and Staying Focused: Advice from Lawrence Blake Group Int’l. Chief Information Officer


We’ve all felt it at one point and time. Stressed out of our mind, and wishing whatever we needed to get done, would either go away or complete itself on it’s own. Wouldn’t that be great? You will encounter all kinds of roadblocks that test your resolve to achieve your goals. Here are four tips to help you maneuver around those barriers.

Create lists

Sounds like a waste of time, but trust me … it’s crucial to have all of what you need done written out. First, it’ll help prevent you from forgetting what you need to do. Second, you can visually see what tasks might be easier to complete first. And lastly, you’ll be able to quickly see which ones are top priority over the ones that are low.

So in creating your lists, write out the first 3 important tasks you need to complete for the day. These are your top priority tasks. After that, have a list that outlines what you’ll want to complete within a week and then month. Any longer time-scale is generally saved for the large projects (like writing e-books, or launching a new website).

Take a Break

I’m serious. Walk away from your project. Even if its for a minute. No sense in trying to continue to work on something when your mind is literally twisted up.

Go run. Lift weights. Eat something. Just about anything that isn’t your work, do it. It really helps increase your productivity when you do take some time off.

Accountability Buddies

As much as it’s our own responsibilities to hold ourselves accountable for the work we do, it always helps to have someone else be there to ask you how you’ve progressed with your projects.

I’ve grown to love having accountability buddies, especially after I learned of this term from attending online huddle sessions with fellow Puttytribe friends. There we’d each recap and discuss any goals we accomplished and set action steps for the next week.

Just seeing other people progress with projects, gives more motivation to finish your own.

Use Online Tools

There are many helpful and useful tools to keep you focused and increase your productivity.

I encourage you to use Google Calendar to keep track of your daily tasks. Put up email alerts and reminders of weekly action steps that you want completed.

As well, I stick with Chrome and Firefox browsers, as they have productivity apps such as StayFocusd and LeechBlock to restrict your usage of certain time-wasting websites.

If you are a big on using social media to promote your business, consider using Bufferapp. You can schedule your posts to release in future dates for popular social media sites including Facebook page and Twitter. Keeps your social media properties active while you are away.

The above are the main major tools I used to stay productive. There are so many online tools out there, so beware of using more than what you can chew. Otherwise, you’ll be overwhelmed by all the productivity tools you can use.

Also check out these two great resources that have also helped me with productivity:

Harrison Tsai, Chief Information Officer at Lawrence Blake Group International. Learn more about Harrison.

The Evolving Front of the Start-Up World

"More and more start-ups are able to thrive in a space that is ideal for their mission and vision rather than striving for perennial growth and a hope to go public on a prestigious stock exchange. The start-up world is far more inviting to success at various levels than it once was." Shiva Devarinti, Lawrence Blake Group Int’l Chief Finance Officer.

Lawrence Blake Group International Announces Appointment of Chief Operating Officer


New York, NY, September 10, 2014 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Lawrence Blake Group International (the “firm”) is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Tuso Z. Boothe to the position of Chief Operating Officer of the firm effective September 09, 2014. Ms. Boothe will report directly to the CEO of the firm, Ms. Camille-Marie Gourdet.

Ms. Boothe holds a Masters in Magazine, Newspaper, and Online Journalism and a Bachelors of Science in Public Relations from Syracuse University. Graduating with honors and with the coveted “Deans List” recognition for every year of her attendance, Ms. Boothe supported Syracuse University to the best of her capacity, achieving a record in fundraising for a fashion event she piloted from scratch, sourcing over $100,000.00 in fund development. Since graduating, Ms. Boothe has assisted multiple organizations in fund development and operations management, including Twenty What Magazine, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the March of Dimes, Toni Morrison & The Circuits of Imagination Conference, and the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology. Following graduation, Ms. Boothe opted to continue her real-world learning experience in Rome, Italy, gathering incomparable knowledge of European culture, communications, and business. In her free time, Ms. Boothe is committed to supporting organizations who provide arts education programs to youth in public schools, as well as raising awareness on the benefits of entrepreneurship among teens.

“We are very pleased to add Ms. Boothe to our executive management team. She brings extensive experience as a public relations executive and selfless entrepreneur in the art industry, having demonstrated skill in operations, strategic planning and acquisition activity,” said Camille-Marie Gourdet, CEO of the firm.

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