Communicate Your ROI for Raises

We were teaching a job search workshop several years ago. One of the participants, I’ll call him Paul, attended as part of his employer’s lay off program. They had informed him he would be laid off, but gave him time to look for a new job while still employed. We were teaching how to communicate return on investment (ROI) to potential employers. The group were quietly preparing statements listing their accomplishments. When suddenly, Paul blurted out “Look at this! They are crazy to let me go. Look what I did for them!”

Members of the group asked him if he had told management what he had done. His answer, “No, it’s their job to notice.” The group helped him understand the error of that statement. He listened to them, pondered what they said, and did not return from lunch. We didn’t see him the rest of the day.

Before I finish Paul’s story, I wanted to address this concept shared by so many: “Its management’s job to notice my contribution.” As the management span of control expands, supervisors frequently don’t work on the same continent (let alone in the same building), and organization’s increasingly treat employees as interchangeable parts; communicating your contribution or ROI becomes more important.

Employees who regularly report their achievement–and verify that the results meet or exceed management’s expectations–establish a baseline value for performance evaluations. We suggest the following actions to ensure your performance aligns with organizational directions and desires.

  1. Clarify, by asking, the key performance indicators (KPI) assigned to your job
  2. Closely monitor, with your own graphs and charts if needed, your daily or weekly performance to the KPIs
  3. Prepare a statement at least once a month reporting how you improved KPIs, decreased costs, or in other ways provided an ROI to the company. Use a different vehicle each month to deliver your statements: verbally, email, handwritten cards, or text.
  4. Keep all of the statements and recopy them into your performance appraisal or evaluation at the end of the year.

Include the following information in your statements:

  • “You indicated that you wanted to improve YY”
  • “This month, I YY and NN.”
  • “As a result we increased BB generating an additional $$”
  • “Are those results you hope to achieve?”

Returning to Paul’s story. We didn’t see him the rest of the day. We worried that we had offended him with our comments. Imagine our relief when he returned the next day and shared the rest of his story. He returned to his manager the day before declaring “I think you are making a mistake laying me off. May I share what I have done for the company?” Then, he shared the statements he had prepared in class. The manager asked a few questions and excused himself from the room. The manager returned 20 minutes later and said “I reviewed what you told me with my boss and with Human Resources. We’ve agreed that your value to the company suggests that we should keep you. You’ve been taken off the lay-off list.”

Expecting management to notice the good you do for them (ROI) can lead to frustration and disappointment. Providing them with solid, well-documented evidence of your ROI helps them make good decisions when it comes time to assign raises and valued assignments.

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A Few Aphorisms to Guide a Job Search

My father, a master teacher as well as world renowned graphic designer, used aphorisms to teach us as children. Some that he had to frequently repeat to me included “The guilty man fleeth when no man pursueth” and “He that must be commanded in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant”. As a result, I’ve developed some aphorisms of my own to guide people looking for a job.

Don’t Get Eaten by the Bear

The story is told of a man and a woman walking through the forest when a bear bolted out of the bushes and started charging them. The woman immediately dropped down and started lacing on some running shoes. The man looked at her and said, “There’s no way you’re going to outrun that bear!” She said, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you.”

Frequently, people looking for a job perceive the company as their adversary. The reality, their competition are other people looking for the same job. You must convince decision makers that you 1) can do the job they want done, 2) will fit into their team, and 3) will deliver a good return on investments (ROI).

Don’t get eaten by the bear! All you have to do is convince the decision maker of those three issues better than the other people applying for that job.

Make Your Mistakes Where They Don’t Count

Looking for a job requires several skills that most people don’t use regularly when they are unemployed: doing due diligence, interviewing, completing online applications, writing resumes, negotiating salaries, among others. The lack of practice causes people to make mistakes until they have enough practice to perform the tasks well.

Unfortunately, most job seekers, when they lose their job, immediately contact the companies they want to work for the most. As a result, they make all their mistakes with those companies that matter the most.

This aphorism encourages you to practice with family, friends, former co-workers, and other companies first. Then, contact companies that do not meet your desired requirements. Make your mistakes where they don’t count.

Make Decision Makers Feel Wonderful

Your purpose in all interactions with companies and decision makers is to make them feel wonderful. Too many focus on themselves when entering into an interview that they neglect considering the needs and concerns of the person sitting across the desk–who has more to lose than the job seeker.

Instead of focusing on your self in interviews and applications, focus on making the decision maker feel wonderful. Let your smile, tone of voice, and demeanor calm the interviewer, rather than build tensions or anxiety. Let your answers calm their concerns about your ability to 1) do the job they want done, 2) fit into the team, and 3) provide a good ROI.

At the end of a long day of interviews, you want them to say “I don’t know what it is about <you>, but I just feel good about <you>”. The reason they feel good about you, you were the only focused on making them feel wonderful.

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Percent of People 55+ with NO Retirement Savings Drops 4% in 3 Years

The Government Office of Accounting* (GAO) released a letter to the ranking member of the Senate Committee on the Budget on March 26, 2019. The letter, written by Charles A. Jeszeck Director of Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues, lists statistics from a study conducted February to March 2019. The study, with a 95% confidence intervals, was compared to a Survey of Consumer Finances conducted in 2013.

A brief table** in the letter shared the following statistics. Households with “No Retirement Savings” dropped from 52% to 48%–a positive trend, but still disturbing that this many have nothing. “No retirement savings and no defined-benefit (DB) plan” maintained at 29%. “A DB plan but no retirement savings” dropped from 23% to 20%. “Retirement savings but no DB plan” increased from 23% to 26% (another positive movement). “Retirement savings and a DB plan” indicated 25% to 26% (however the letter specified that this change was “not statistically significant”.

This data confirms the assertions in my book 7 Reasons You May Not Get to Retire and How to Fix Them that almost half of the people will not benefit from 2 of the 5 traditional pillars of retirement: a pension (benefit-defined or poorly funded contribution-defined) pension, and savings. In addition to the two pillars mentioned above, many people will not be able to rely on the equity of a fully paid off mortgage or sufficient investments. Finally, few people maintain confidence in the viability of Social Security to last throughout their retirement.

This article does not address how the additional problem with skyrocketing medical costs for people over 65 years of age combined with decreasing health coverage and increasing life spans prevent the ability to retire. Adult children (over 55) frequently see their parents financial legacy–and their own financial resources–consumed by health costs not covered by inadequate insurance and medicare.

Forecasts of an emerging bubble of retirees rising to the surface in the next 5-15 years continue in publications. Yet, this report and other data indicate that when this bubble comes of age, financially they will not be able to retire. Most of us know people who retired and then had to go back to work due to financial obligations. Some by choice, but too many without a choice shackled by financial obligations they cannot meet.

* Source

** I apologize for not being able to insert a table into this article and having to put the data in paragraph form.

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Report Indicates American Unhappiness Highest in Decades

The purpose of this article is to share the results from the World Happiness Report 2019. I do not intend to comment or draw conclusions.

The World Happiness Reports 2019 ( asks questions about why Americans respond that they are more unhappy today than at any time in several decades. The report indicates that Americans now rank 19th on the happiness scale compared to 156 other countries.

An article in the report titled “The Sad State of Happiness in the United States and the Role of Digital Media” by Jean M. Twenge states “The years since 2010 have not been good ones for happiness and well-being among Americans. Even as the United States economy improved after the end of the Great Recession in 2009, happiness among adults did not rebound to the higher levels of the 1990s, continuing a slow decline ongoing since at least 2000 in the General Social Survey (Twenge et al., 2016; also see Figure 5.1). Happiness was measured with the question, “Taken all together, how would you say things are these days—would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?” with the response choices coded 1, 2, or 3.

Happiness and life satisfaction among United States adolescents, which increased between 1991 and 2011, suddenly declined after 2012 (Twenge et al., 2018a; see Figure 5.2). Thus, by 2016-17, both adults and adolescents were reporting significantly less happiness than they had in the 2000s.

In addition, numerous indicators of low psychological well-being such as depression, suicidal ideation, and self-harm increased sharply among adolescents since 2010, particularly among girls and young women (Mercado et al., 2017; Mojtabai et al., 2016; Plemmons et al., 2018; Twenge et al., 2018b, 2019a). Depression and self-harm also increased over this time period among children and adolescents in the UK (Morgan et al., 2017; NHS, 2018; Patalay & Gage, 2019). Thus, those in iGen (born after 1995) are markedly lower in psychological well-being than Millennials (born 1980-1994) were at the same age (Twenge, 2017).

This decline in happiness and mental health seems paradoxical. By most accounts, Americans should be happier now than ever. The violent crime rate is low, as is the unemployment rate. Income per capita has steadily grown over the last few decades. This is the Easterlin paradox: As the standard of living improves, so should happiness – but it has not.

Several credible explanations have been posited to explain the decline in happiness among adult Americans, including declines in social capital and social support (Sachs, 2017) and increases in obesity and substance abuse (Sachs, 2018). In this article, I suggest another, complementary explanation: that Americans are less happy due to fundamental shifts in how they spend their leisure time. I focus primarily on adolescents, since more thorough analyses on trends in time use have been performed for this age group. However, future analyses may find that similar trends also appear among adults.” ( page 88)

I found this related data very interesting “Other activities that typically do not involve screens have also declined: Adolescents spent less time attending religious services (Twenge et al., 2015), less time reading books and magazines (Twenge et al., 2019b), and (perhaps most crucially) less time sleeping (Twenge et al., 2017). These declines are not due to time spent on homework, which has declined or stayed the same, or time spent on extracurricular activities, which has stayed about the same (Twenge & Park, 2019). The only activity adolescents have spent signifiantly more time on during the last decade is digital media. As Figure 5.4 demonstrates, the amount of time adolescents spend online increased at the same time that sleep and in-person social interaction declined, in tandem with a decline in general happiness.” (ibid page 92)

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Attitude of Gratitude

During this season people tend to contemplate, with thanks, the good fortune they receive in their lives. Friends and family gather round tables laden with bounteous food and take a moment to share with one another those elements in their lives for which they are grateful.

Studies indicate healthy benefits that arise from a constant attitude of gratitude. An attitude of gratitude enhances the probability you will achieve your goals. The second step of the GoalsWork model recognizes that others will help you achieve your goals. Common decency dictates that you thank the people that help you accomplish you goals.This blog outlines a few simple ways to maintain an attitude of gratitude and the benefits you will accrue by doing so.

Send a Handwritten Thank You Card Each Day

Larry H. Miller, billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist, took time every day to hand write and send a thank you card to at least one person. He attributed this action as one of the keys to his success.

First, he said, knowing that he would write a card each day heightened his attention to what people did. He looked for good work from employees, colleagues, vendors, suppliers, and others. This focus on recognizing the positive contributions people made lifted his spirits, eased him through the trials, and brought perspective to his sense of ego and self-importance. Recognizing the contributions of others helped him realize how much he depended on others good works.

Second, the handwritten nature of the cards touched people. They sensed the sincerity of his gratitude. They worked harder to do add value to the relationship professional or otherwise because they knew it meant something to Mr. Miller. They also told others about the thank you cards they received. Larry Miller’s reputation for gratitude increased his stature in the community.

We encourage you to also start looking for someone each day that you can send a simple, handwritten thank you card. Buy one box of thank you cards and send one a day until they are gone. Analyze how this actions made you feel and changed your attitude.

List 10 Things Each Day

Another daily activity that can change your view of trials and problems: end the day by writing down 10 things for which you can express gratitude. Similar to the benefit Larry H. Miller found, knowing that you have list 10 things each day, enhances your attention to good things that happen in your life.

I belong to a community service organization. The president of the local chapter asked participants to participate in this activity for one month. Several of the people who participated commented on the happiness this exercise brought them. One lady who had experienced multiple losses, despair, and negativity discovered an attitude of gratitude changed her perspective on life.

Germany Kent declared “It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.” (

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5 Keys to Get a Great Job

Today, we’ll examine the 5 keys to get a great job in 2 months The 5 Keys include:

  1. Define your dream job with an employer description.
  2. Adopt the how can I help attitude.
  3. Ask questions to discover organizational wants and needs.
  4. Prove that you are the solution they are looking for
  5. Make your tens: 10 contacts a day and 10 meetings a week

 We’re going to briefly describe each of them and go into much more detail in the later posts.

Define your purpose and passion in a written Employer Description.

 The majority of people, especially high performers, are unhappy with their jobs. Many times, dissatisfaction occurs because people have not taken the time to identify what they really want to do, or they don’t describe it in enough detail to make it real. Identifying and pursuing your purpose, passion, and calling provides criteria to evaluate your options. This is done in three parts. First, discover your calling. Second, explore your favorite skills. Third, writing your ideal employer description.

First,let’s talk about identifying your passion and purpose. The six essential elements of a job. You need to decide are you going for a job, a career, or your calling? To do so. Every job has six essential parts: 

  1. The skills and responsibilities you love to do. 
  2. The industries that interest you. Industries change the nature of the job changes. For example, a manager in a manufacturing company, a bank, a fast food service. You have the same job title, the same kind of responsibilities of boy is the job different.
  3. The size of the organization. Do you want to work for a startup, a smaller organization, medium, large or global? 
  4. Who owns the organization. Stockholders, private yourself, we the people or no ownership.That’s nonprofits. 
  5. Location, both the geographic locale (country, state, city). Locale means metro, urban, suburban, rural or virtual. 
  6. The most important and the most overlooked element of the job is the environment you want to work in, the physical, cultural, leadership style, and more. It’s the environment that usually impacts our happiness on the job and it’s the one we do the least to prepare for, identify and verify.

Adopt the How can I help? attitude

Next,you need to adopt the “How can I help?” attitude. This involves stop saying stupid stuff, maintain your professional identity, and then look for people you can help.One woman described a job search as the most demeaning experience in her life. She said, I felt like I was standing on the corner holding a sign saying “Will work for food”. But it was worse than that. I had to chase the cars down the street shouting. “Pick me,pick me”.

Now,contrast that with Vick who is an aviation flight test engineer. When he adopted the “How can I help?” attitude, he said (two weeks into his job search) “I am having so much fun on this job search!”; two phrases that usually don’t go together. But because he was working to help people achieve their goals, he not only had fun, he had a great job paying 15 percent more in four and a half weeks of being laid off.

Ask questions to gather information about wants and needs

The third step is to gather information about wants and needs. Remember, you ask questions to identify the organization’s goals or challenges that  you can help them achieve or resolve. You do that in three ways:

  1.  Review the literature on their web site, annual reports, press releases, LinkedIn or professional association articles.
  2. Ask people general questions.These are the people who aren’t doing the job you want to do, but they work in organizations that may have do the work you do. Ask how the organization they work for does what you do, what they do well, and what the could do better. Also ask who else you could talk to gather more information.
  3. Ask people technical questions. Those are the people who are doing the job you want to do or related to it. These questions can be more detailed about projects, goals, and objectives they are trying to achieve; problems or challenges they are encountering; industry trends and news, software platforms and upgrades.

Prove you are the solution they need

 Once you’ve gathered the information and found those people who need and want help,your next task is to prove you are the solution they need. You prove this in phone calls, interviews, meetings, reconnecting after interviews/meetings, and in your written materials. Prove you are the solution they need because you can 1) do the job they want done, 2) you will fit into their team, and 3) you are going to be a great return on investment.

Provide specific examples (including #, $, %s) to prove you are the solution. We suggest 

  • Present your dessert tray of hobbies, civic service, education, work experience, words that describe you, and home run statements
  • Prepare 36 statements based on a ball diamond: 1st base=where you worked, 2nd base=what you did, 3rd=the results your work generated, and home plate=a question that applies the example to their organization (“Are those the results you want?”)
  • Reframe their thinking about your weaknesses or negatives
  • Ask questions to gather information to be able to answer the questions.

Make your 10s: 10 Contacts a day and 10 Meetings a week

Make your tens and that means 10 contacts a day, 10 face to face meetings a week. Remember, we’re not talking about only contacting job opportunities. We mean contacting people by phone:

  • 4-5 of the10 conversations you will ask the questions you’ve prepared to gather information
  • 2-3 of the 10 contacts will be to schedule face to face meetings
  • 2-3 will be to reconnect on prior context or meetings that you have already had.

The 10 face to face meetings a week will involve

  • 5-7 to gather information
  • 3-5 to impress decision makers you can help them achieve their goals or solve their problems

In a future blog, you will learn how you can find all 50 of these people just two hours each Monday:

  • 10 people from your phone or email contacts
  • 20 from your LinkedIn,Facebook, professional associations and directories
  • 10 following up on previous contacts for meetings
  •   7 from advertised job opportunities
  •   3 from other sources.

That’s 50 people a week,10 contacts a day. We know that this system works. We’re going to share successes on how it works. We hope you enjoy these blogs.

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Reusable Materials 42: Answers to A Few New Reusable Materials

Alan worked for a high tech firm programming visual graphic displays for corporate security systems. He maintained his skills through regular seminars and workshops sponsored by the vendors of the programs he used. He also decided to earn a master’s degree. He petitioned his company for an educational reimbursement. They agreed to cover 80% of each class depending on his grades. He added two scholarships that covered his books and lab fees, plus gave him extra money for food.

Q: What are the reusable materials you suggest we prepare?

A: For 8 years, we’ve taught you to prepare the following reusable materials:

  • Reusable application including answers to all application questions, lists of awards and transcripts, and themes with subcategories and home-run statements
  • 6-8 reusable essays that you can modify and adapt within 10 minutes
  • 5 reusable letters of recommendation from school, church, work, community and other leaders
  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

In that time, we’ve added a few additional reusable materials you may consider preparing:

  • Reusable and completely customizable resume
  • Reusable and completely customizable cover letter
  • Reusable phone scripts for setting appointments and reconnecting with local committees

Q: Why would we need reusable resumes and cover letters?

A: Many local companies and service organizations sponsor scholarships. The small amount of the awards prevent the committees from investing in building online applications or screening tools. Therefore, they may ask for a resume or cover letter instead.

In addition, you may use a reusable cover letter and resume for school or employment applications. Your reusable resume and cover letter use the same home-run statements as you prepared for your master application. You may copy and paste them into the body of the cover letter or summary of your resume.

Q: Why would I need a phone script for scholarships?

A: Local scholarship committees frequently talk to recipients as part of the award process. Scripts help you effectively communicate your value and why you deserve the scholarship.

Saturday we share several tips for enhancing your qualifications for scholarships

This blog will improve as you submit comments, questions, and experiences. We will answer your questions in future blog posts. Please submit your comments and questions so we can answer them.

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Sources of Money 43: Government Finance Officers Association

[Logo-GFOA2.jpg]Wendy needed more money to get through school. She singed a contract to attend a proprietary, for-profit school to study nursing. She needed $35,000 for her Associates Program. She used our program to find scholarships through search engines, financial aid counselors at the college, and scholarship books. Unfortunately, the more she looked, the more she discovered that students at proprietary, for-profit schools did not qualify for hardly any scholarship money. She also discovered that the contract indicated she had to pay for the schooling even if she did not attend.

Characteristics of Government Finance Officers Association

The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) sponsors a couple of scholarships. They include

  • Frank L. Greathouse Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to two undergraduate or graduate students who are enrolled in full-time study preparing for a career in state and local government finance. They award the scholarship at the annual conference
    • Qualifications: The web site says “Students must be currently a full-time student in an undergraduate or graduate accounting program that prepares students for careers in state and local government finance. Undergraduate students must be in the process of completing at least their junior year by the time the scholarship is awarded. Application must include a recommendation from student’s academic advisor or chair of the accounting program. Student cannot be a past winner of a scholarship administered by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada.”
  • The Daniel B. Goldberg Scholarship is available for award to a full-time graduate student who is pursuing an advanced degree and is preparing for a career in state and local government finance.
    • Qualification: Criteria for Scholarship Award: Statement of proposed career plan in state and local government finance and proposed plan of graduate study. Plans to pursue a career in state or local government finance. Past academic record and work experience.- Strength of past coursework and present plan of study, as it relates to a career in the public sector

Thursday we answer questions about applying for scholarships with reusable applications

This blog will improve as you submit comments, questions, and experiences. We will answer your questions in future blog posts. Please submit your comments and questions so we can answer them.

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5 Steps to Scholarship Success–Overview

Hi, this is Lawrence D. “Larry” Stevenson. I began helping people find scholarships in 1994. Our team worked with 1,000s of students to help them earn $4,000 to $360,000 from scholarships.

It’s been a while since I wrote to this blog. I’m going to start adding to it more frequently. This blog will introduce you to the five steps to Scholarship Success.

  1. Find 60 to 155 scholarships that are perfect for you.
  2. Can you prove that you deserve the scholarships. (This is the power option). We’re going to help you prepare 36 statements to convince the scholarship committees you deserve the money.
  3. Solicit four to get five letters of recommendation that you can reuse over and over in your presentations.
  4. Prepare five to six reusable essays. That saves time, that you modify immediately.
  5. You apply for two to three scholarships each week in about 60 to 90 minutes.

Each blog in this series will cover one of the keys. You’ll learn how to

  • Find the scholarships using three sources: scholarship lists, scholarship search engines, and single sources.
  • You’ll be able to prepare those 36 statements that will say things like, “As chairman of our high school sub for Santa Committee, I supervise 26 students. We raised $12,000 and provided Christmas to 255 disadvantaged families.”
  • You will solicit four to five letters of recommendation from people who can recognize what you’ve done and speak specifically of your accomplishments.
  • You’ll write reusable essays and we’ll teach you how to take essays you’ve already written and turned them into essays that people want to use and will reward in scholarships.
  • Finally, with all of those reusable materials, you’ll start completing two to three applications each week and it’ll take you about 60 to 90 minutes to do all three each week.

We hope you enjoy the series and we ask that you leave us comments, especially as the money starts rolling in. We hope you enjoy it. Thank you.

Enroll in our free or paid online courses at

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Get a Promotion 9: Build an Internal Network of Contacts

networkThis continues our series on actions to help you get a promotion in your current company

We discussed the need to develop a network of contacts in a previous post. The focus, in that post, dealt with how a network helps you improve your productivity, efficiency, effectiveness, and quality. This post explores how internal networks of contacts teach you the written and unwritten rules, and about the organizational structure.

How to Build Your Internal Network

You build your network by making friends in the company. Do not select your friends based on what you think they can do for you. Select people that you want to know more about.

Sarah and Jared Stewart teach 9 keys building relationships. I’d like to share just of few of their keys in this post:

  • Get out of the coliseum: avoid developing relationships for hoped for transaction
  • Learn, serve, grow: Learn about people so that you can find a way to serve them, so the relationship will grow
  • Just because: build relationships just because knowing people is good: not for some selfish purpose

The CIO Survival Guide authored by Karl D. Schubert offers this good advice:

  • Cultivate a broad network to exchange ideas and rally collaborative support
  • Stay in touch with people at all levels of your organization—vertically & horizontally
  • Continuously investigate what managers and others need from you and your team
  • Respect and openly acknowledge the individuals on your team
  • Adapt your interpersonal style to align with the strengths & shortcomings of others
  • Act to preserve relationships, even under difficult stress or heated emotions
  • Promote collaboration and remove obstacles to teamwork across the organization

What Your Network Can Teach You

EFinancialCareers posted “Building a network within your company can be as important to your success as developing contacts outside. But watch out: The wrong moves can sink you. Here’s how to avoid some of the most common pitfalls.

  • Assess Your Workplace Culture
  • Follow Company Guidelines
  • Keep Your Boss in the Loop
  • Stay Positive
  • Reciprocate
  • Don’t Be Pushy”

Monday we examine how studying the policies & procedures for the company helps you fit in

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