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3 Things to Consider When Evaluating a Job Offer

November 17, 2012

Many active candidates may not be in a position or have the opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of accepting a job offer from a company.  With today’s high unemployment rate, it is probably more critical to find a job in order to sustain and support one’s own livelihood.  Everyone has a different set of personal circumstances that factors in when making such a decision.  There is not a magic formula or secret algorithm out there for determining whether or not a job offer is good for you.

If you are in a position to be more selective when deciding whether a job is right for you, then take the time to thoroughly assess the opportunity.  However, weighing the pros and cons can easily be overwhelming and the last thing you want to do is to make a hasty decision that you will regret later on.  Here are 3 factors to keep in mind when you’re making that oh-so-important decision of “to accept or not to accept” a job offer.

Insight #1: THE CULTURE

It is difficult to weigh the pros and cons of any culture such as a corporation, an agency, a non-profit, or a startup.   Every company has its own unique culture and work environment.  It’s important to decide which you would thrive in if you were to join the organization.  For instance, if you are more of an individual worker who likes structure and competition, the corporate path may be for you.  If you want a fast-paced environment that’s new every day, an agency or start-up may be a better choice for you.

Look at your Facebook or LinkedIn connections of former employees that you can reach out and ask them to share their experiences at the company.  Also, look up the company on and check out the reviews of what people are saying about the company.  If there is high turnover, recent lay-offs, or restructuring, then these factors may be “red flags” for you to explore further.  Nothing is worse than going to a miserable work environment every morning — and even worse, taking that unhappiness home with you, too.


Money may not be the number one consideration for accepting a job offer —it’s engaged employees.  What matters most are the employees that you will be interacting on a frequent basis – Your manager, your team members and the co-workers that will surround you everyday are crucial for your happiness and success at a job.  Sure, it is hard to judge people after only meeting them briefly during the interview process, but think about how they treated you during your interactions with them.

Did they go out of their way to be friendly?

Did they ask personal questions as well as professional ones?

Were they prepared for the interview and read in advance my resume?

Do the workers care about their jobs and their organizations?

Are they stressed out?

What was the interaction like among others?

Did they call you back in a timely manner?

If you are still not sure, then ask the recruiter to come in again or meet the hiring manager for coffee to discuss the details of the offer.  The more interactions you have as a “candidate” the more insights you may gain on how your future peers, co-workers and manager will treat you as an employee.


Within my own professional network, I have been asked many times for advice on how to negotiate a better job offer whether it’s 10%, 15% or 25% more than his/her current role.  Many candidates get caught in the “show me the money” mindset as they try to negotiate for more money.  When assessing a new job opportunity, often the most tempting thing to do is to focus only on the “money”, but that is not necessarily the right approach.  Take it from me — I have accepted jobs for the money and hated it.  I have also accepted lesser paying jobs to work somewhere that I truly enjoy doing.  Over the years, I have learned that money is only a small part of my happiness at work.

Before you start to haggling for more compensation, consider what salary you could live with to take care of your core essentials, as well as the amount that would make a job offer irresistible.  Every job has a market value based on critical skills, requirements, years of experience, type of industry, etc..   You may be able to negotiate a competitive salary depending on the size of the company and the nature of the business.  At times, there is no wiggle room – take it or leave it.  When reviewing the details of a job offer, think more about the whole package such as discretionary bonuses, employee stock purchase plans, 401(k) matching, etc and less about the numbers on your monthly paycheck.

It is important to evaluate the offer you have received.  You do not want to a take a job that does not provide you with what you need to be and feel successful.  Remember though, the offer extends beyond the pay rate.  Look at the benefits, training, career development, perks, work environment, hours, location and other things that you may value in a potential workplace.

Finally, listen to your gut – if it is telling you not to take the job, there just might be something there.  Keep in mind, that if this is not the right job for you, it is not the end of the world.  The next job offer might just be that perfect match.

Oh and one last thing, whether you are accepting or rejecting a job offer, it is a good idea to let the company know your decision in writing.  In both cases, be polite, brief and to the point.

We’d love to hear your thoughts, comments or suggestions about considering a job offer.  Like us and join the conversation.

Good luck and happy job hunting!


6 Things New Hires Should Do in the First 30 Days

October 4, 2012

Ready, Set, Go!

The first weeks on the job for any new hire are overwhelming. There is often an avalanche of introductions, orientation meetings, training sessions, and new hire paperwork and administrative tasks. While these are all important, here are six things new hires should do on their own within their first 30 days to set themselves up for success.

1. Craft your elevator pitch.

You only get one chance to make a first impression. So, before you start introducing yourself to everyone, figure out what you’re going to say when you meet them.

Prepare succinct responses for anticipated questions about what you were hired to do, what company or school you’re coming from, and what your professional qualifications are. Give the people you meet a reason to continue building a relationship with you.

This allows you to focus on the relationships you’re trying build as opposed to the tasks right away. It’s about getting to know people and letting them get to know you,” says Evelyn Walter, VP of Human Resources at Inspirato.

2. Understand your role and how you will be evaluated.

The responsibilities of the job you were hired for could change by the time you start work. Reach out to your manager about what may have changed, and make sure you have a clear understanding of your current role, responsibilities, and authority before you take on any projects.

In addition, understand how your performance will be evaluated. Lisa Quast, career development consultant and CEO of Career Woman Inc., advises, “Find out what criteria you will be judged against to determine if you are successful in your job. When it comes time for your performance appraisal, you don’t want any surprises, so don’t be afraid to ask your manager to define the requirements for success in the job.”

3. Learn the business.

Before you can begin to contribute to an organization, you need to figure out how the company works. What are the business objectives? What’s the organizational makeup of the company? How does your company do business?

Taking the time to explore the business will help you understand how your work supports departmental and corporate objectives. According to Tracy McCarthy, Senior VP of Human Resources for SilkRoad Technology, that’s the biggest difference between average and exceptional employees.

The exceptional ones are trying to understand before they make decisions or assumptions about what’s going on in the business,” she says.

The people who ask questions and really seek to understand the business and where they fit in end up being the best employees. The employees who wait for all the information to come to them are going to be average at best.

4. Interview your boss.

According to Quast, the key to being a successful new employee is helping your boss be successful. Find out what keeps your boss up at night and come up with creative ways to alleviate those worries.

Moreover, you need to establish a positive working relationship with your manager. Find out how he or she wants to communicate with you. For example, does your manager want to meet in person every week for project updates, or would he or she prefer to receive updates less frequently by email?

Also, ask your boss about goals and objectives for the team. Determine how you can use your skills to help the team accomplish those goals.

5. Be ambitious, but have restraint.

You might be eager to start contributing right away and fixing everything wrong you see with the organization. That intention is good, but tread lightly. As a new hire, you won’t have the historical context about why a policy or process may or may not need fixing.

As McCarthy notes, “If you come in and try to make a change and don’t understand why, you might be trying to change the wrong thing. Or you might be giving ‘new’ ideas that have already been done. Ask the questions to seek to understand and then you can be more effective.”

Walter adds, “Be willing to make suggestions, but be careful not to come in guns blazing, calling out all the different things that are broken within your department. You want your team to come to the conclusion of ‘what would we have done without you’ without you sending that message.”

6. Be proactive about your onboarding.

One day of orientation and a meet and greet with your team may be the extent of your company’s onboarding program. If so, be proactive with your managers about their training plan and what you need to accomplish in your first three months on the job.

Be appropriately aggressive about meeting with your manager, discussing your projects, training, and responsibilities, and creating a meaningful 90-day plan,” says Walter. “Then, be proactive about following up at the end of your 30, 60 and 90 days to review and gauge your success.

All of these things will require extra time and energy on your part, maybe extend beyond the first 30 days on the job. But asking the right questions, building the right relationships, and learning the ins and outs of the business will help you earn credibility and give you the opportunity to add value to your organization faster.

We’d love to hear your thoughts, comments or suggestions about your experience as you start a new job.  Like us and join the conversation.

Good luck and happy job hunting!

Guest blogger is Kyle Lagunas, HR Analyst for Software Advice, a company that compares and reviews HR and recruiting software.  He writes about trends, best practices, and technologies in human resources, employee evaluation, and recruiting.


5 Tips to Staying Positive While Looking for a Job

September 15, 2012

Recently, the government reported that August payrolls rose by 96,000, lower than the 125,000 gain expected by economists.  To add to the disappointment, job growth in the past two months was also revised down by 41,000.  The unemployment rate slightly declined to 8.1% in August from 8.3% in the previous month but the drop was due to a smaller labor force.   Depending who you are following, economists forecast the unemployment rate to hold steady.

We all know that being mentally strong and emotionally fit is crucial in life, whether it’s for business, sports, or your career.  But how do you stay positive when going through a long, challenging job search like we are facing today?

To help, here are 5 tips to support you while you are looking for a job:

Insight #1 – Reduce your consumption of mainstream press and media.

“Bad news sells,” as they say. You need to be informed about the marketplace and the world, but you don’t need to listen to the same story about “the worst job market in 20 years” over and over again.  It doesn’t help that this is also an election year and politicians are going to debate this topic to get elected into office.  Overloading yourself with bad news simply makes you more anxious and fearful.

Insight #2 – Take a break

Break the routine from your job search and do some exercise.  Don’t let it all just fester inside. Get it out, through exercise, therapy, meditation, prayer—whatever works.  Any form of physical exercise or relaxation technique gives you an immediate shot of endorphins (the so-called “happy hormones”).  It doesn’t matter what it is—a 10-minute walk, a quick run, a game of tennis, some yoga, or simply 60 seconds of deep breathing.  Try and do something on a regular basis and make it part of your daily routine.

Insight #3 – Don’t stress about stuff you can’t control.

I can’t control the weather—so I don’t worry or complain about it.  But I can influence how the weather impacts me by watching the weather forecasts or carrying an umbrella.  Similarly, you can’t control the economy or the job market, so focus your mental energy and time on things you can control or influence.  Take baby steps and identify 1 – 2 goals a day that you want to .  Write down on a piece a paper or journal and check them off as you go.  You can look back and see your results.

Insight #4 – Minimize your exposure to “BMWs.” 

BMWs = Bitchers, Moaners, and Whiners!  When you’re a little fragile emotionally, such negativity will be poisonous to you and your job search.  Positivity is contagious.  Whatever you do, avoid your exposure to negative people, while increasing your exposure to people who energize you.  And don’t be a BMW yourself.

Insight #5 – Celebrate the small successes.

You need to pat yourself on the back and celebrate with every small success.  Focusing on the small wins gives you the energy and confidence to tackle the bigger challenges that you know still lie ahead.

Remember to keep your chin up high and don’t give up!  Jobs don’t find you, you find them through various channels.  If necessary, print this blog or refer back to it from time to time, you may be inspired and encouraged by reading these tips over and over again.  With continual effort comes results, so hang in there!

Did you have stay positive tips to share?  We’d love to hear them.  Like and follow us to and join the conversation.

Good luck, stay positive and happy job hunting!

3 Tips to Improve Your Responses to Interview Questions

July 17, 2012

It’s been 10 years since Shrek emerged from a child fairytale book to one of the most recognizable cartoon characters of all time.   Who can ever forget the open scene where Shrek started to narrate, “Once upon a time, there was a lovely princess…”  The story left a memorable impression.

Successful presenters, public speakers, salespeople and politicians have mastered the art of storytelling like Shrek, and as a jobseeker, you should too.  It can be a powerful tool that helps provide a lasting impression with hiring managers.  We tend to remember stories longer and better than just facts on a resume.

The stories you must be ready to tell are about your experiences that took place in previous jobs, things that back up the skills and qualifications you wrote about on your resume.

Storytelling is a skill that can be learned. Here are three tips to help you be a good storyteller at your next job interview:

Insight #1 – BEHAVIORIAL INTERVIEWING:  Ever been asked to tell a story in an interview? You know, in response to something like, “Tell me about a situation where you faced a challenge in a previous position, and how you handled it.”  This type of interview question is an invitation for you to tell your story.   One of the biggest mistakes candidates make during an interview is that the candidate answers the interviewer’s questions with simple facts and details. Or, they talk about the intellectual way on how they would solve a problem.

I recently attended the HR Symposium conference, where there was a panel consisting of distinguished members of HR Leaders from Silicon Valley.  Now, I’ve attended many of these conferences over the last decade.  This year was a bit unique.  The panelist practiced the art of storytelling where they shared their personal experiences on some of their latest work they are engaged in, as well as how they formulated solutions to overcome the challenges they were facing in this dynamic business and economic environment.  While speaking, they shared personal stories about failures and real-life learnings.  Needless to say, the session was great.  It wasn’t just another boring conference that I attended.  It was meaningful, genuine, inspiring and engaging.

Photo by HR Inc.

This style and approach of storytelling is a powerful tool for job seekers as well.  Telling a story in a structural way is an effective way to describe events in your past experience and how these events demonstrate your multiple talents and skill-sets.   It is also effective in describing how you would approach future situations that are relevant to the job.

Insight #2 – MEMORABLE STORIES:  Great stories include sufficient details (think about how an engaging novel describes the environment in such a way that you can picture yourself right there in the action).  Details create a memorable story and help the interviewer visualize what you’re trying to illustrate.  Since hiring managers have plenty of good candidates to choose from, expect them to ask tougher interview questions as they try to reduce candidate pools and ensure they hire the right people.

What does this mean for you?

Be very careful of how you sell your skills and abilities highlighted on your resume.  For every one you write, be sure you have at least one story that can support it.  For example, if you write in your professional summary that you have a “strong record of meeting critical project deadlines in spite of unforeseen obstacles,” be ready for the hiring manager to ask you a behavioral question like: “Tell me about a time you encountered an unforeseen obstacle.  What did you do to overcome it?”

Insight #3 – DRAMA SELLS:  The most memorable movies and novels have content that is either out of the ordinary or contains drama.  Our brain remembers drama or anything that stimulates it. While you’ve still communicated your solution to a problem, you should seek ways on how you can respond in a way that will engage the interviewer.

The biggest mistake candidates make is spending more time on their writing their resume than preparing for the job interview.  Most people spent 20 or more hours writing and modifying their resume and only 1 hour preparing for the interview.  Some people even spend hundreds of dollars on resume-writing services but still only spend an hour preparing for the only event that can get them hired – the interview.  If you spend 8 to 10 hours preparing for each interview, this investment alone will improve you’re the outcome of your job interview.

If you’re not a natural storyteller, start practicing.  Tell your stories using the following structure:  beginning, middle and end.   Don’t just write it, recite it and memorize it.  The job interview is the most important moment in your job search.  Your resume may get you to the interview, but only your job interview skills will secure the job offer.  The most qualified person rarely gets the job.  It’s the person who interviews the best who wins the job offer.

Remember these three tips the next time a hiring manager asks for an example of a time.  They should enhance your ability to present more powerfully and memorably in your next job interview.

Has storytelling ever helped you land a job? Tell us about your experience.  Like and follow us to and join the conversation.

Good luck and happy job hunting!

5 Tips on How to Reconnect with Stale Work Contacts

June 25, 2012

In the last couple of months, I’ve received a number of questions from both professional jobseekers and recent graduates about how to connect and/or reconnect with people you know that may not be in your social networks.  If you are out of a job or in active job search mode, many jobseekers may feel awkward about reaching out to people.

Here are some comments I’ve heard from a few folks:

“I haven’t kept in touch with old colleague from my previous company, they may question my motives if I send them a LinkedIn invite out of the blue”

“I never had a personal relationship with former boss so I feel strange reaching out to him.”

“I just graduated, I don’t know anyone to add to my professional network”.

“I’m afraid since I left the company, that they have forgotten me.  It feels a little like outta-sight-outta-mind”

Career Coaches agree that even if reconnecting with stale networking contacts is uncomfortable, it is a vital part of job hunting.  It’s good to keep in touch when you can, but don’t worry too much if it has been months or even years!  Life happens, people get busy – everyone is busy.  Your contacts will appreciate hearing from you when you get a moment.

“We often don’t realize that we have a treasure chest full of relationships we’ve built over the years, and once you reconnect, you may actually light a potential networking fire,” says Linda Gunther, Human Resources and Organization Development Professional.  “Remember that people you may think have forgotten you actually think about you and wonder what you are doing now.”

You can find a lot written on the web, articles or books about the art of networking.  Here are 5 tips that can help you as you reconnect with an old friend or former colleague.


Whether you’re rebuilding a workplace bond that’s faded or digging up your old rolodex full of business cards of acquaintances whose faces escape your memory, don’t feel guilty.  Remember that you had a rapport with them at one point, and that has not gone away just because you have not been in touch.

The best thing to do is reach out to former co-workers or colleagues, ask how they have been and let them know your current situation.  “Do not be shy if you need to remind them who you are, how you met them and how you used to interact with one another using details from the past.  Plant the seeds of trust,” said Lidia Lopez, a recent job seeker.

If the idea of tapping someone out of the blue makes you squirm or nervous, try to connect first with a mutual friend and ask how your prospective contact is doing.  When you do connect with your former acquaintance, mention that you’ve spoken to the friend you have in common.  Try to keep the discussion natural and informal.

If calling people during a time of need makes you feel desperate, then try to attend a social event like a Meetup group and network with people that you may have a similar interest and may help you with job leads.

“When meeting new people, I always introduce myself and ask questions about their background and interests.  Update them on what you are currently doing and what your plans for the near future.”  Lopez said. “The important thing is to make a connection.”

Insight #2: IT’S OK TO ASK

For many, asking for help is challenging.  You don’t want it to seem as if you’re asking for a handout or for charity.  However, most people understand what’s going on with the economy, and they’ll probably be happy to hear from you.  Ask friends and neighbors for help – they are all connected to someone that might know of a job opportunity that may not otherwise come to your attention.  Just be up-front about your intentions when you reach out to them.

When you reconnect, ask for something that’s easy to give, like advice, information, a lead or insight.  You will be surprised how many people are willing to help if they are only asked.

It is also helpful to set up the stage and be transparent about the purpose of a meeting.  Suggest a 10-minute call or an invitation for coffee to talk about something specific.


Social networking sites like Meetup, LinkedIn and Facebook can alleviate some anxiety about dropping a line to someone you were chummy with years ago.   These social networking sites are career gateways and often lead to contacts even faster than job boards.

“Not sure where to begin with reconnecting with ‘stale work contacts’, start with old college professors, university mentors, old bosses, organization members, former colleagues,” Lopez shared, “You be surprised how many people you know and how easy it is to reconnect with them using today’s social networking tools.”

But career coaches warn that online connections can seem impersonal, and that phone or face time is usually the best way to ask for a favor.  Use networking sites to make the initial contact, then try and set up a short appointment or phone call.  “Social Networks are great but it doesn’t replace the human touch of networking,” said Mary Alvarado, a volunteer career coach, “Invite them to an informal setting such as a coffee shop.  It helps re-establish the relationship.”

Create a 30-second commercial (elevator speech) you can use anytime someone asks “what do you do, what type of job are you hoping to find?” Use it often both in person and online.

Insight #4: BE THANKFUL

Personal touches like thank you cards will show you appreciate the assistance and support.  Also, this little gesture may keep you at the front of someone’s mind.  Forgetting to follow up could make them forget about you when a job pops up.

When you have finally get the job, don’t forget to thank them or updated them with your new status. And keep the network fresh.  Don’t just reach out to an old friend or former colleague only when you need something which leads to my last tip.

Insight #5: PAY IT FORWARD

In turn, please be gracious and understanding when you suddenly hear from an old colleague out of the blue after a number of years.  Be responsive and make the time to help them since someone else made time for you.  Jobs are not necessarily filled by just applying online.  Jobs are filled by people who know people.  According to a report from ABC News80% of today’s jobs are landed through networking.  This percentage of networkers represents smart jobseekers who understand that looking for and finding work takes work.

Did you have any networking tips to share?  We’d love to hear them.  Like and follow us to and join the conversation.

Good luck and happy job hunting!

I would like to personally thank Lidia Lopez, Mary Alvarado and Linda Gunther for taking the time for sharing their experience with me and offering insights to reconnecting and networking with former colleagues, friends and/or bosses. 

INTERVIEW- The Secret of Success: Pearls of Wisdom From a College Senior

May 18, 2012

If you are like many college students, the idea of landing an internship or a summer job to get meaningful work experience may be overwhelming.  Not surprisingly, students are starting to get nervous.  Last summer, I met Anthony Prieto, a senior at Santa Clara University, at a networking event.  I had a chance to sit down with him and ask him a few questions about his education how it has prepared him for life after graduation.

Meet Anthony Prieto from SCU

1.     What mentors have you encountered in your role as a student?  How have they coached you to get here you are today?

I wouldn’t say I had one specific mentor but a great group of people that I could bounce ideas off of and would help me along the way.  This includes Dan Aguiar (Executive Director of Entrepreneurship Programs at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Santa Clara University), my former manager at Apple, my professors at SCU (even ones I didn’t have classes with), my parents and friends.

2.     How are you leveraging your experience at school to help you with what you want to do life after college?  (i.e. networking with alumni, help from the SCU’s career center, key professors, etc.)

Running a business and being a full-time student is challenging, but one of the best parts is being able to apply the knowledge gained from my courses to a real and practical situation.  As the president of the Santa Clara Entrepreneurs Organization (SCEO), I have gained tremendous experience in learning how to build a start-up.  I have participated in competitions that the club hosts like elevator pitch and business plan competitions.  This has helped me improve my public speaking and I plan to leverage this experience in the future.  SCEO has helped with networking and meeting people.  Knowing the right people can make things much easier.  This has helped me with every job I got.

3.     What was the inspiration/thought process behind the development of your startup, Bronco Student Services?

The idea for an on-campus delivery business was developed as a group project in a Business Leadership Skills course my freshman year in 2009. We all thought it was a great idea, but my friend and I were serious about starting it.  At the same time we heard of existing business that provided laundry and storage services.  In 2010, Arthur Gallanter and I bought the business and incorporated our delivery service.  Over the next year, we worked non-stop with key members from SCU to develop the idea.  We launched a pilot in May that year that delivered to a limited number of dorms and were excited when we reached 40 orders a night.  Today we deliver 3,000 orders a month across the entire campus and will deliver off-campus in the fall.  Our delivery service today is profitable, and we have grown the storage and laundry business as well.  Both Arthur and I will be graduating in June and have selected three students to continue running the business.  Arthur and I are extremely proud to have started a service that will continue for years to come.

4.     How does Bronco Student Services work? What are the benefits for your customers/users?

The business has three core segments.  They are the following:


Students that live on-campus can order food online or on their mobile phone from one of the late night cafeterias called The Bronco. The whole order and delivery fee can be paid with dining points and gets delivered to the student’s dorm room.


Students sign up at the beginning of the year for a laundry subscription. We provide them a laundry bag that they can fill up with their dirty laundry. We pick up from their dorm and deliver it the next day, professionally washed and folded right to their door.


Students that travel back home for the summer can store their items with us. They can drop off their items on campus and we only charge per box versus paying for a whole room.

5.     What’s next after graduation?

At this point, I want to gain more corporate experience and will be joining Cisco Systems, as an IT Analyst after I graduate.  Currently I don’t have an entrepreneurial idea now but when I do, I know I have the network and resources to develop it.

6.     Do you have any words of wisdom for students who just started their job search?  What can you share with them that may help them get ahead?

Networking, maintaining and actively seeking relationships, is one of the most important things when it comes to finding a job after graduation.  I would also recommend that students should get involved as much as they can with clubs, school’s career center, and follow every lead.  Dependability is an important trait.  To succeed in life all you need to do is follow through with what you say.   If you say you’re going to be somewhere, do something or call someone make sure you do it, and do it on time.  Lastly, finding what you’re good at and what you’re passionate about is the perfect combination for success.

Did you have any pearls of wisdom to share?  We’d love to hear them.  Like and follow us to and join the conversation.

Good luck and happy job hunting!

Anthony Prieto is a senior at Santa Clara University and is expected to graduate this June with a BS in Commerce in Operations Management Information Systems with an emphasis in Marketing.  I would like to personally thank Anthony for taking the time for sharing his experience with me and offering insights to others about gaining meaningful work experiences to help prepare for life after graduation. 

Mother’s Day EXCLUSIVE: What Everybody Ought to Know About Their Mother’s Advice

May 7, 2012

My mother’s advice, (though a lot of the times unwelcome) is always relevant.  Moms just have a way of cutting through the bullsh*t and telling you exactly what needs to get done in any given situation.  They are unabashedly sure of their advice because they know that what they say, comes from experience and a place of love.

The nagging mundane comments made throughout my young adult life, now seem especially pertinent and sage.  My mom may not be the social media sav, or the job search know-it-all, but her simple advice translates into something far more profound.  Moms are a mystery and here we decipher what their common sayings mean, and how they resound with jobseeking millennials everywhere. Read more…

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