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What is it like to serve on a board after the tumultuous few years of the global pandemic? The short answer is that it’s unlike anything people have experienced before. Here, Stephen Conmy interviews Juliet Taylor (pictured above), CEO of executive and non-executive search firm Starfish.

Starfish recently interviewed 60 chairs, board members and CEOs currently addressing complex issues in their boardrooms and organisations to discover what has changed in ‘post pandemic’ boards

To see the complete list of contributors and read the full report, you can download The post pandemic board report.

The key takeaways of the report are:

1: Volatility is here to stay; constant change will remain a reality in chairing organisations.

Chairs who relate governance to their organisation’s purpose and who take a longer-term view in which their teams are developed to flourish in uncertainty are ahead of the game.

2: The formerly rigid dividing line between non-executive and executive is now more porous.

A new spirit of collaboration and co-production between Chairs, non-executive board members and their top executives emerged due to closer working in 2023; many organisations have embraced this as a permanent feature.

3: Inclusive board cultures are critical for survival.

Boards set to thrive have moved beyond notions of representative diversity to become truly inclusive cultures.

4: It’s time to recognise changes in the experience of chairs and ensure that they are valued and supported both now and in the future.

Organisations should be upfront about the new realities of the chair role. Chairs indicate they value personal support and peer validation, especially concerning the big judgement calls they need to make. Prior chairing experience is currently considered more useful than ever before in navigating complexity and nuance; however, we cannot afford to delay the development of our future chairs and must continue to invest in and coach this community.

5: How you influence, take people with you and use your judgement now matters more than what you have achieved in your career alone.

Those suited to chairing organisations in 2023 and beyond may also have a more robust change orientation than those who preceded them, higher energy levels, higher levels of availability and personal engagement, and a sharper curiosity about the future.

What is it like chairing a board after the pandemic?

The most interesting thing about this report is how shaken many boards and chairs have become post-pandemic. The air of uncertainty is palpable.

For example, one chair said:

“We’re in a new age of fragility: the best boards are getting this and recognising it in more supportive challenge to their organisations.”

What they mean by this is that, In stark contrast to the remote, transactional boards of the past, the post-Covid board has to recognise the strength in unity and collaborative endeavour. As one chair said:

“If it wasn’t already, it is now a fundamental consideration to believe in what you are doing. The best boards have challenging and supportive members who aren’t there for themselves”.

Another chair, when asked about the corporate landscape, said:

“This is the decade when organisations will be forced to get it right. After that, the workforce will be fundamentally different, and people in their 20s will be in managerial positions. We’ve got eight years left to sort it out.”

The boards that thrive have a few things in common

What the report highlights most is that boards have changed – life in the boardroom has changed forever. The mindsets of chairs and directors have also evolved.

The task of governing organisations, and the collective skills required to do it properly, are constantly evolving.

Governance must be seen as inextricably linked to an organisation’s purpose to remain effective.

Organisations are responding to the changing context by increasing their risk appetite and balancing an interest in financial stability with the need to change their business models ‘outside in’.

Whether a public service or a retail product, they have no option but to meet changing consumer or stakeholder expectations.

By and large, boards thriving in the post-pandemic era seem noticeably free-thinking, open to new ideas and characterised by a higher degree of flexibility on every level.

They are necessarily more outward-facing, constantly balancing the internal governance focus with the implications of a rapidly changing external context.

Listen to the interview with Juliet Taylor, CEO of executive and non-executive search firm Starfish, below.

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Associates Home Loans Discusses How Fintech Has Changed The Mortgage Industry

Fintech innovation around digital payments reduces costs and expands access for individuals.

Have you ever heard of fintech?

Maybe not, but many people are familiar with companies like Lending Club and SoFi – two of the most successful Fintech financial services.

This article is going to discuss how Fintech has changed the mortgage industry.

#1 Fintech has made it easier for people to shop around for the best rates and terms on loans

One of the biggest problems people face when applying for a mortgage is knowing how much they’re qualified for, let alone which banks offer what rates.

What fintech has done (and continues to do) is make it easier for people to shop around for mortgages by accessing multiple offers at once.

It’s also made it easier for people to see how much money they’re qualified for by organizing the mortgage process into a series of simple questions.

#2 This increased competition is driving down prices and making mortgages more accessible to everyone

Equally important as knowing what you’re eligible for is knowing where banks are offering their best rates. Fintech has made this possible by allowing people from all over to compete for one another’s business.

This increased competition has made it so that banks aren’t just competing with the bank down the street but with lenders from around the country and around the world.

And while some argue that this is unfair to local banks, it can also be argued that it’s a good thing because it creates competition and drives down prices.

Plus, even people who are self-employed or had a bankruptcy in their past can now qualify and get a mortgage thanks to loans for self employed and bad credit home loans.

#3 Fintech companies are also innovating in other ways by bringing new products like home equity lines of credit (HELOC) or reverse mortgages into the market, which were previously unavailable options

Even though fintech has successfully brought affordable rates to consumers, there are still a number of products that have been difficult to access for people without the required credit or documentation.

But fintech has been gaining traction in new areas, such as giving consumers more access to home equity lines of credit (HELOC) and reverse mortgages.

That’s because these two loan options have largely been bank products, which means that they are only available to those who already have good credit or substantial assets.

#4 Successful startups that have made waves in this space

Some of the most successful startups in the space include Lending Club, OnDeck capital, and SoFi.

In contrast to fintech startups lending money directly to consumers, OnDeck Capital lends money specifically to small businesses.

SoFi was initially started as a social network for graduate students but created mortgages and other types of loans for graduates looking to purchase homes.

While Lending Club and OnDeck Capital remain successful companies today, SoFi has since become a traditional banking institution after going public in 2024.


All in all, Fintech has made a big impact on the mortgage industry by increasing competition between lenders and giving consumers access to more information about available products.

In the future, Fintech companies will continue to innovate and create new products that benefit consumers and the financial industry as a whole.

Android L Vs Android 5.0 Lollipop: What Has Changed

Google has officially announced the Android 5.0 Lollipop version of Android along with the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9. We’ve been using the beta version of Android Lollipop as Android L for the past few months, so we already know most stuff about it. But Android L was a beta release and the Android 5.0 is its final release, so obviously there are some changes and added functionality with the final release. SDK or Factory images for the Android 5.0 aren’t available yet, but Google’s Android 5.0 features page offers a glimpse of some of the changes made in the final release.

Android L was a very early build for sure, and missed a lot of things even from KitKat that it almost felt a step backward at some places. But that’s okay, since, after all, it was a developers only release. We hope Google has addressed everything that felt wrong with the Android L developer preview with the final release, Android 5.0 Lollipop.

Judging by the looks of things at the Android 5.0 feature page, here are the few things that have changed from Android L developer preview release to Android 5.0 Lollipop final release.


The new dialer in Android L dev preview was cool and probably the only thing in Android L that looked perfect, but it seems Google has made some changes to it in the Android 5.0 final release. As per the Material design color styles, the Cyan color scheme seems to have changed to the darker shades of Light Blue color and the Yellow highlight on tabs has changed to white. Also, the fonts are slightly smaller.

Also, when you open a contact from dialer, it doesn’t opens in a popup anymore like the KitKat and Android L release. On Android 5.0 when you select to open a contact from dialer, it directly opens in the People app, which itself is transformed drastically. The new People app now also shows recent conversations from Hangouts with the selected contact along with basic contact details.


Recents screen now has a fixed Google Search bar at the top on Android 5.0. And there are colorful headers too for all apps in the recents screen, but we guess this feature is app dependent since the Photos app on L preview also shows a colorful header.


You must have already noticed it in the screens above. The icons in status bar have updated to flat design and the navigation bar icons look smaller in the Android 5.0 Lollipop. However, the smaller navigation bar icons could also be the result of the higher display resolution of Nexus 6.


The Do not disturb feature on the Android L seems to have renamed to Priority mode with slight changes in UI and functionality now with the Android 5.0 final release. Here’s what google has to say about it:

For fewer disruptions, turn on Priority mode via your device’s volume button so only certain people and notifications get through. Or schedule recurring downtime like 10pm to 8am when only Priority notifications can get through.

These are just the few things that we were able to spot from the Android 5.0 Lollipop features page. We’re sure there will be a ton of more changes since the developer preview release was incomplete in a lot areas. The SDK for Android 5.0 Lollipop is coming on Oct. 17th so we’ll have more details on the changes made in the final release, until then let’s just sit tight.

Firefox Font Changed Suddenly

Firefox is one of the most trusted browsers available in the market. It is mostly flawless and rarely faces issues. However, many users have reported that the font changes suddenly in Firefox. Also, it does not change with other browsers. If you encounter this problem, please read this article for the resolutions.

Firefox keeps changing the font randomly

The main cause of the font problem is either with extensions or files pushed through other websites. A known application responsible for it is the Rubik’s cube game. Many other online games could modify the browser settings. Try the following solutions sequentially to resolve the problem in discussion:

Isolate the case with problematic extensions

Disable problematic extensions

Clear cache files and cookies on your Firefox browser

Check status of Zoom

Fix the font size

Update Firefox

1] Isolate the case with problematic extensions

Since the primary cause of the problem is problematic extensions, you can consider isolating the cause for the same. To do so, try opening the Firefox browser in the InPrivate window mode. In this mode, the extensions will be disabled. The procedure is as follows.

Open Firefox.

Press CTRL+SHIFT+P. This will open the InPrivate window.

Try opening pages in the InPrivate window.

If they are working fine, then the issue is with the extensions. Else otherwise.

2] Disable problematic extensions

If everything works fine in the InPrivate window, then the issue is probably with the one or more extensions. Do the following in this case.

Open Firefox.

Select Settings from the menu.

Go to the Extensions tab on the list on the left-hand side.

You will notice a switch associated with every extension. You can turn it OFF to disable the extension.

Use hit and trial to find the problematic extension and remove the same.

3] Clear cache files and cookies on your Firefox browser 4] Check status of Zoom

It could be possible that you think that the issue is with the font of the webpages, but it could be that the whole page has been zoomed. You can fix it as follows.

Open Firefox.

Find the Zoom bar and change it to 100%.

This will fix the problem.

5] Fix the font size

It might be possible that an extension or software changed the font size for Firefox. This can be foxed as follows.

Open Firefox.

Select Settings from the list.

Go to the General tab on the list on the left-hand side.

In the right pane, scroll down to the Language and Appearance section.

In the Fonts section, they can change the Font type and Font size.

Change the Font size to 16 since that is the default font size.

Alternatively, you can reset the Firefox settings to fix the font size.

6] Update Firefox

If the Firefox browser is obsolete, then you can update it to the latest version. Doing so will fix the issue if it has been caused due to the version being old. Make sure to update Firefox after the reboot process.

What font is used by Firefox?

Many must be wondering what font is used by Firefox in the first place. It looks quite different from what options you have with MS Word. The name of the font used by Firefox is Firefox Sharp Sans. It is a font type specific to the Firefox browser and is doubtfully available elsewhere.

Can I change the font for Firefox? What is the default font size for Firefox?

The default font size for Firefox is 16. It can be changed as mentioned earlier. You can also revert to the value upon resetting the browser. Other than this, you can find the option to simply reset the font settings.

‘What The Experts Say’: What’s Changed After Panda 4.0?

At the end of May, I wrote a round-up post of expert opinions on the latest big Google updates: Panda 4.0 and Payday Loan 2.0. Now that it’s been a month or so, I thought I’d ask another group of experts for their opinion on how the update has continued to be reflected in their clients and their own SEO progress. I asked our experts the following:

“Now that Panda 4.0 has been out for about a month, have you seen any long-standing changes to website traffic or SERPs? If so, what is your recommendation for first action steps to make the best out of this Google update?”

From Marcus Tober, CTO and Founder of Searchmetrics:

However, in general we only saw enhancements made by Google versus major changes, which makes sense.  Matt Cutts told me the update to Panda 4 was created by a new team at Google, and that it was a re-work of Panda. So they have to see what the impact is on the user, and have to learn and adapt. Between major Panda iterations, changes can take a couple of months to understand. I expect the same here.

From Joost de Valk, Creator of Yoast: From AJ Kohn, Owner of Blind Five Year Old:

Eliminate thin content pages (don’t be timid here) or those that are targeting fractional keywords. Don’t rely on aggregated or syndicated content and ensure that the user experience makes it easy to digest your content and complete tasks.

Do the hard work and deliver content and experiences that satisfy user intent.

From Mindy Weinstein, SEO Manager at Bruce Clay Inc.:

Just as was expected, websites with thin, syndicated, or scraped content were hurt. However, other sites benefited from Panda 4.0 by gaining greater visibility, so the update was a welcomed change for some.

It is important to remember what Google is trying to accomplish with Panda—they want to improve the quality of their product. They are not trying to punish websites, instead they want to serve up better search results for users.

If a website has been affected by Panda 4.0, the first action step is to audit the content. This kind of audit is not easy, as you have to look at the website as objectively as possible. That might mean you need to bring in another person to help give an unbiased opinion. Ask such questions as is the website content thin, duplicate, or simply of little value? Is it hard to read? If so, you might need to start consolidating content or getting rid of it altogether. You will also need to create new content. Make sure you have a good strategy in place and focus on developing content that is engaging and interesting to users. You want your contribution to the web to be unique and valuable.

From A.J. Ghergich, Founder of Ghergich & Co.:

If you see a large drop in organic rankings, the first step is to determine if it was Panda or Penguin that brought you down, or a combination of both.

For Penguin: 9 out of 10 cases I look at were penalized because of WAY TOO MANY keyword rich links pointing to a site.

For Panda: Most cases I see are doing one (or both) of these things wrong:

Thin Content: producing original but crappy articles for the purpose of SEO that lack true understanding of the topic. You also may be aggregating a ton of content from external sources. The hallmark of this content is little to no social shares because no actual human being would post this on their Facebook account.

Doorway Pages: over-optimizing your internal links and also cross-linking from too many sites under your own control.

For example:

ATTN: Stop practicing SEO like it’s 2005. Being a big brand is no longer going to save you, and it shouldn’t.

Note: There is some debate as to whether the eBay penalty was a manual action by Google or algorithmically applied via the latest panda update. Only Google knows the answer to this. However, eBay is certainly guilty of creating the kind of thin, over optimized content that is a big no-no in the post-Panda world.


If eBay is getting busted (manually or algorithmically) for creating these types of pages, what chance do you think you have of getting away with anything similar? Only produce high quality content even if that means producing drastically less content.

Do not over-optimize your internal site structure and create thin doorway style pages in an attempt to game Google. (No, your footer is not a good place to stuff some keyword rich links!)

Don’t let ‘Pandageddon’ happen to a site you love!

From Glenn Gabe, Digital Marketing Consultant at G-Squared Interactive:

I help a lot of companies with Panda, and have since February of 2011. Panda 4.0 was HUGE. Everything about it was big. The recoveries were big (for companies I was helping deal with Panda hits) and the fresh hits were severe. I’ve had a number of companies reach out to me since P4.0 rolled out that have lost 60%+ of their Google organic traffic overnight. Some have lost 80%+. Like I said, it was huge.

Regarding first steps for those that are hit, it’s impossible to tackle Panda with band-aids. A full audit must be conducted (through the lens of Panda). Those audits typically produce a number of important action items. Panda targets low quality content, but “low quality” can mean a lot of things. It can mean thin content, duplicate content, low-quality affiliate content, scraped content, technical problems causing content quality issues, etc. An audit will surface problematic areas to address. That’s the first step (it’s a big step, but it’s critically important).

Execution is key once the audit is done. Panda rolls out monthly, so companies have a chance of recovery once per month (typically). So, making the right changes as quickly as possible is the key to recovery. Unfortunately, many companies need to wait months to see recovery, so getting the site in order is critically important. I wrote a case study where a company did everything right with fixing its site and waited 6 months to recover. That was extreme in my opinion, but that shows how hard it can be to recover.

See some of Glenn’s posts on panda (with case studies!) at G-Squared Interactive’s blog, Search Engine Watch, and SEJ.

From Tommy Walker, Editor of chúng tôi and Host of The Inside Mind:

We’re not really noticing any decreases that aren’t consistent with YoY trends. It’s been our editorial policy since Day one to publish nothing but extremely well researched content with an 1,850 word minimum and links to academic research, case studies, and behavioral psychology reports. 

Of course, it’s not fool-proof, and I’m staying aware of what’s going on with Google’s shifts, but I’d like to believe our focus on being as thoroughly researched as possible has helped us to avoid major dings when these changes come about.

From Jim Boykin, Founder and CEO of Internet Marketing Ninjas:

Yes, we’ve worked with many sites over the years that have been effected by Panda, but Panda 4.0 only hit two of our clients. Those two clients were warned that there were patterns in their website that fit patterns that Google Panda penalizes for. Both of these sites had over 100,000 pages of content, and both had tons of location pages. For example, one client also had pages for every zip code. Both clients had tens of thousands of near identical pages where only the location was changed on the pages. For example, the Denver, Colorado page was the same as the Troy, New York page. Both of these sites also had tons of “near identical” product pages as well.

The solution basically is in greatly reducing the size of the site, ensuring that every page is unique and useful. For example, one site we’re bringing from 220,000 pages indexed in Google down to 3,900 pages.

We did that by blocking the majority of pages via chúng tôi We’re blocking everything that’s near duplicate until we can write unique content for each page.

We also used the canonical tag on many of their pages that were near identical as well.

And for pagination issues, we implemented the rel=previous, rel=next.

So, now we’re busy writing content…..There’s no way we’re going to be putting up 220,000 pages again, but these clients are fine with us writing 100-200 pages of content for them each month, and focusing on the locations where they’ve traditionally sold the most products. We predict even if the penalty is removed, this one site will still see a 64% reduction in traffic via our killing 99% of the URLs.

By writing original content, if we have 1000 new pages up, we predict we could pick up about 1/2 of the 64% reduction. It may take two years, and a lot of content, to get the traffic back to where it once was.

We make sure all pages are unique to each other; not just changes in a few words, but each page hand written. Some pages have 200 words, and some have 600 words (and everything in between). Writing location pages that mention real landmarks in those locations, and adding a few external links to trusted resources in that location.

Luckily, these clients understand that they once had “regular traffic”, then they added hundreds of thousands of pages and had mega traffic, and now they’re back to “regular traffic” for now. It’s a game they played, and they won for a while. Now they realize they must write unique useful content, and it’s going to take time to get great again.

Featured Image: Hung Chung Chih via

Hung Chung Chih via Shutterstock

The Good Life: The Tyranny Of Terroir

The good life: the tyranny of terroir A master of wine tells how to choose wine without fear of labels

Master of Wine Sandy Block, who earned that title after an exhaustive four-day exam that ranged from blind taste-testing to critical essays about the wine trade, can tell you what a wine is — from the soil where its grapes were harvested to the environmental influences that accent its taste — but he won’t tell you whether the wine is any good. That verdict is up to you.

“The true test of a wine has to be how delicious it is,” says Block, a senior lecturer at Boston University’s Metropolitan College and the host of a recent wine-tasting that was part of the MET conference Place, Taste, and Sustenance. “And people’s tastes vary. So much of our reaction to wine is emotional.”

Which means our tasting of wine is easily influenced by external factors. “If you tell someone a bottle cost $100,” says Block, “they may end up feeling they have bad taste if they don’t like the wine. But price is no guarantee of good wine.”

And neither is the vineyard of origin, despite the emphasis many people place on ‘terroir’ wines.

The mystique of terroir

“The concept of terroir,” says Block, “is perhaps the most misunderstood in the wine industry. The word itself is hard to translate, and there are many conflicts about what we mean by terroir. It has to do with what you might call the taste of the earth, the unique, distinctive flavor of a particular vineyard.”

“Blending often creates wonderful wines,” he says. “Also, champagnes are often blended, as are many great ports. If terroir is the standard, then blending is inferior. To me, that’s clearly not true.”

Ultimately, Block says, promoting the unique virtues of particular vineyards can become “the propaganda of avarice.”

On the other hand

While Block is not necessarily impressed by terroir wines, he does see a value in distinctive wines that come from grape-growing practices respectful of the vineyard as a particular site. This can be organic wine-making or — a step beyond organic — biodynamic vineyards.

Biodynamic winegrowers take an almost mystical view of the process of growing grapes and making wine. Such a winemaker might keep a particular herd of cattle, fed on a particular diet, to provide a particular manure for fertilizer. Phases of the moon are followed, and certainly nothing artificial is allowed into the growing or harvesting process. “Biodynamic vineyards follow very specific and controlled practices,” says Block, “to bring the vine in harmony with the earth.”

He suggests that skeptical wine lovers test the validity of biodynamic growing with two biodynamic wines: Clos de la Bergerie, Savennieres — Roche-Au-Moines, 2002 (about $35) and Domaine Zind Humbrecht, Gewurztraminer, 2004 (about $20). The first is actually a terroir, indicated by the word ‘clos’ in its name, which means it comes from an ancient walled-in vineyard, but it is the biodynamic practices of the vineyard that make it special.

Don’t be intimidated by vineyard labels

The overall lesson, Block hopes, is that we shouldn’t be taken in by a wine marketing itself on the basis of a particular vineyard, whether Old World or New World. For believers in terroir, he says, “wine is a pure manifestation of the soil. But once you look at wine as a human creation, it opens up the playing field from the closed terroir system. And what most people are looking for is something that tastes good.”

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