3 tricks for improving your body language in the office

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Your mother was right: Slouching makes you look bad.

By Vanessa Van Edwards, Monster contributor (The Philadelphia Inquirer — Feb. 12, 2017)

Up to 93% of our communication is nonverbal. This means that our body language, facial expressions and other nonverbal behavior is even more important than our verbal content. Yet most people don’t even think about what their body language is saying to others. As a result, many business people don’t ever realize how much their body language is holding them back at work.

I did body language coaching with a woman who was having a lot of trouble advancing in her career. She had all the right things going for her—great education, awesome performance reviews, successful sales, you name it—but still was not getting the promotions and upward mobility opportunities she deserved. Within the first five seconds of meeting her, I knew what was holding her back: her body language.

Her nonverbal behavior was timid, weak and disorganized, which was completely opposite of her quiet confidence and intelligence. I taught her a few of the tips below and as she adapted them, she started to get invited to sit in more high-level meetings. Then she got to represent her company at a big conference. Finally, she got an offer to head up a department in their new offices—a major promotion.

Here are a few tips you can use right now to start to improve your body language in the workplace.

Assertive body language 

Sometimes people need to show confidence and assertiveness in their opinions and points. There are a few body language techniques that are universal signs of strength.

  • Take up more space: Those who are timid tend to keep their arms close by their side and tuck their feet under their chair, taking up as little space as possible. If you want to show confidence, you have to claim space by firmly planting your feet shoulder width apart, or if you are sitting, leaning back in your chair and using the armrests during meetings.
  • Steepling: Steepling is when you press the tips of your fingers together with palms facing each other in front of your torso. This move (which looks like a steeple) is the universal sign of confidence. You can do this at a business meeting on the table or even when speaking and trying to emphasize a point.

Rapport-building body language

Building rapport is important for both men and women. It’s great for interviewing, networking and getting along with office colleagues. There are a few specific things you can do with your body language to help make connections.

  • Point your feet: Our brains actually subconsciously pay attention to a person’s feet. You will notice our feet tend to point in the direction we want to go. For example, at a networking event, someone who is itching to leave might be talking to someone but have their feet pointed towards the door. So, if you want to show you are actively engaged, point your feet and angle your body towards the person you are speaking with.
  • Mirroring: When we really get along with someone, we subtly mirror their body posture and movements. You can use this to your advantage when trying to bond with someone. Subtly (very subtly), mimic their body posture or try to speak at the same voice cadence as they do. Our brains register this as “friend,” not “foe.” 

Calming body language 

Negotiating, interviewing and tense situations in business are never easy. People need nonverbal ways to calm themselves down if they are nervous. They also need to make sure they’re nonthreatening to others who might be nervous in their presence. If you are a manager or leader in your organization, these tips are great for calming a hostile employee:

  • Uncrossed arms: When we cross our arms, we are protecting our vital organs. This is a naturally defensive position. If you want to stay calm and open-minded, be sure to leave your arms loose at your side. If someone else is crossing their arms, give them papers, coffee or even a pencil to hold. As soon as they get out of that position they will feel less close-minded.
  • Suprasternal notch: The suprasternal notch, the space in between your collar bones, is actually touched when people are nervous as a way of self-soothing. Lightly massaging this area or the back of your neck can help lower your heart rate and make you feel more calm.

Body language is a fascinating science that can only be applied artfully. The best tip I can give is to be genuine. People do pick up on inauthenticity.

Vanessa Van Edwards specializes in social and emotional intelligence research and development. The focus of her company is to combine human behavior research and tech trends. 

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7 Quick Tips To Improve Your Leadership Skills

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This week’s blog comes from 

Dale Carnegie Training Newsletter

By Anita Zinsmeister, President
Dale Carnegie® Training of Central & Southern New Jersey

7 Quick Tips To Improve
Your Leadership Skills
  • Word count for this issue: 562
  • Approximate time to read: 2.2 minutes @ 250 words per minute 
When a crisis hits, an executive’s instinct might be to focus on greater efficiency and productivity by tightening control.  But this is not always the best solution-giving up authority and granting employees independence can actually help improve innovation and success, even when the road gets rough.
So You Are A Leader At Your Company-Now What?
Without the proper leadership skills, you will find it hard to inspire your staff.  Below you will find 7 tips on how to brush up on your leadership skills.
7 Tips To Improve Your Leadership Skills
1.  Show Respect – If you want to be in a leadership position, start building relationships with people by respecting what they do.  Practically nothing is more important.   Additionally, it is important that a great leader never misses an opportunity to learn more about the people behind them.  Great leaders never skip an employee’s birthday gathering or a holiday party because they are too busy — they know that work will always be there. 
2.  Build on Relationships – As a leader, know who people are, what is important to them, and what motivates them.  This will help you understand everyone’s goals and how you can support your staff.  When you help people, they will care about you and your goals in return.
3.  Have a Good Attitude – Positive attitudes can be infectious.  As a leader, you need to find ways to stay upbeat and find the best ways to improve.  Do not expect too much from your staff — no one is perfect; while you do need to address poor performance, it is extremely important to acknowledge a job well done, which will build a positive work environment where people feel appreciated.
4.  Work on Your Strengths – Figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are.  While it is important to address your weaknesses, you might find it better to first start by focusing on your strengths.  This will allow you to rise to the expert level sooner than you would by working on your weaknesses.  Bottom line: Know what you are good at and keep at it.
5.  Find People Who Complement You – Again, we all have strengths and weaknesses.  Great leaders are aware of their weaknesses and find people who support their shortcomings.  This is not because they are weak and need to cover themselves, but because they know the benefit of having a strong team — and when the team wins, everyone wins. 
6.  Develop A Mentoring Program  – Mentoring someone will not only help develop that person’s career, but will also help leaders refine their skills.  It is a great way to help improve your staff members’ skills while also improving on relationships.
7.  Maintain Balance In Your Life – A big key to success is learning to balance work and family.  Life is too short for you to live at your job. Great leaders set career boundaries and know when to spend more time with family and friends.  Doing this will make you a stronger leader.
Executive Summary:  While some people are just great leaders, others have to work a bit harder to achieve the necessary skills.  Take the time to consider your strengths and weaknesses and get to know your staff; surround yourself with the best possible people to become an excellent leader. 
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Budgeting — beyond the basics

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This is Tip No. 16 from Larry Litwin’s The ABCs of Strategic Communication and More ABCs. Both should be part of your strategic communication library.

1.Budgets are a necessary evil.

They’re the only practical way to get a grip on your spending so you can make sure your money is being used the way you want it

to be used.

2. Creating a budget generally requires three steps.

• Identify how you spend money now.

• Evaluate your current spending and set goals that take into account your financial objectives.

• Track your spending to make sure it stays within those guidelines.

3.Use software to save grief

• Quicken®

• Microsoft Money®

4. Don’t drive yourself nuts.

Once you determine which categories of spending can and should be cut (or expanded), concentrate on those categories and worry

less about other aspects of your spending.

5.Watch out for cash leakage.

If withdrawals from the ATM machine evaporate from your pocket without apparent explanation, it’s time to keep better records.

6. Spending beyond your limits is dangerous.

But if you do, you’ve got plenty of company – but it’s definitely a sign you need to make some serious spending cuts.

7. Beware of luxuries dressed up as necessities.

If your income doesn’t cover your costs, then some of your spending is probably for luxuries – even if you’ve been considering them

to be filling a real need.

8.Tithe yourself.

Aim to spend no more than 90 percent of your income. That way, you’ll have the other 10 percent left to save for your big-picture


9. Don’t count on windfalls.

When projecting the amount of money you can live on, don’t include dollars that you can’t be sure you’ll receive, such as 

year-end bonuses, tax refunds or investment gains.

10. Beware of spending creep.

As your annual income climbs from raises, promotions and smart investing, don’t start spending for luxuries until you’re sure that

you’re staying ahead of inflation.

Source: www.money.cnn.com/pf/101/lessons/2/

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Grow Your People — Produce Better Results

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Thanks to:

Dale Carnegie Training Newsletter

By Anita Zinsmeister, President
Dale Carnegie® Training of Central & Southern New Jersey

9 Tips For Improving
Your Next Meeting
  • Word count for this issue: 571
  • Approximate time to read: 2.3 minutes @ 250 words per minute 
Time is one of your most precious resources and the last thing you want to do is waste it.  While business meetings can be a great way to get your team on the same page and to hear about new ideas, they can also be huge time suckers.  It is extremely important that you do everything in your power to ensure that your next meeting is a success.
9 Tips To Help Improve Your Next Business Meeting:
In order to help you have more success, we have listed below nine tips for getting the most out of your next business meeting.
1.  Have A Clear Objective – Before setting up your next meeting, think about what it is you want to accomplish and relay this to your staff.  You want everyone to be on the same page.
2.  Be Timely – If you say you are going to start a meeting at 3:00, then start it at 3:00.  No one likes to wait.  The same goes with the end of a meeting — end it on time.  Be prompt.  It shows that you respect everyone involved and they will appreciate it.
3.  Ask Questions And Get Clarification – Do not understand something?  Ask questions to clarify what has been said or agreed upon.  Be sure to keep your inquiries clear and concise, so everyone can be on board.
4.  Keep An Open Mind – Having a negative attitude will not get you anywhere.  Go into a meeting with the mentality that you will learn something new.  Listen to what others have to say before speaking and do not interrupt; instead write your thoughts down and address them at an appropriate time.  Be sensitive and do not criticize other people for their thoughts and ideas.
5.  Preparation Is The Name Of The Game – Think ahead of time and develop questions or issues that you would like to discuss before your next meeting.  Send a quick e-mail asking everyone involved to go through the same process.
6.  Write Things Down – Taking good notes can be very useful.  Never assume that you will remember every detail of what was discussed — jot things down — you will thank yourself later. 
7.  Offer Your Two Cents – Do your best to participate by offering ideas and possible solutions (which is a great way to help prevent your mind from wondering).  If you have an idea that you feel is important, share it as sharing often sparks new ideas and adds energy to a meeting.
8.  Put Your Smartphone Down – People might grumble, but it is not a bad idea to ask everyone to silence or turn off their phones.  This way there are far fewer distractions and everyone can really participate in the meeting.
9.  Summarize Action Items – At the end of the meeting, briefly run through what was discussed and who is responsible for getting things done.  Also, make sure everyone is on the same page and understands what must happen next.
Executive Summary:  With a little effort, preparation, and proper management, your next meeting will be a great success.  Take the time to make a plan, keep an open mind, and take the time to really understand what is being said.  Use these tips to make the most out of your next business meeting. 
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Fun Things to Do with your Staff in the New Year

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From Dale Carnegie short and sweet:

  • Office Road Trip:  Have a mandatory half-day of fun at a local mall or offsite venue.
  • Special Employee Awards: Recognize your coworkers for their achievements; sincere or silly.
  • Homemade Dessert: Have a day at the office where everyone can bring in their best homemade dessert. 
  • Employee Trivia: Test your knowledge about a coworkers’ unique habits, interests or quirks. You may be surprised by what you find out. 
Dale Carnegie® Training of Central & Southern New Jersey 
1 AAA Drive, Suite 102 | Hamilton, NJ 08691 
Office: (609) 631-0500 

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10 Tips To Help You — I call it Leadership 101

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From Anita Zinsmeister, president, Dale Carnegie Training of Central and Southern New Jersey

10 Tips To Help You
Become A Better Leader
  • Word count for this issue: 793
  • Approximate time to read: 3.2 minutes @ 250 words per minute 
When a business hits some turbulence, an executive’s instinct is sometimes to focus on greater efficiency and productivity by tightening control.  But the truth is that giving up authority and giving employees independence can improve innovation and success, even during crises.  With that in mind, we have put together a number of tips to help you or someone you know become a better leader in the coming months.    
10 Tips To Help You Maximize Your Leadership Skills:
1.  Build Better Relationships – Great leaders know the value of relationships.  They know who people are, what is important to them, and what motivates them.  Knowing this will help you understand their goals and how you can support them.  When you help people, they will care about you and your goals in return.
2.  Get To Know People On A Personal Level – If you take the time to get to know people you like, they will no doubt come to like you, too.  Furthermore, it is always nice to ask people about their families and interests.  You will also find that, if people like you, they will be more open to helping you and taking the extra time to get things done. 
3.  Develop A Mentoring Program – Great leaders know that mentoring someone will not only help develop that person’s career, but also help leaders refine their skills.
4.  Be Upbeat And Stay Positive – In the business world, it is easy to criticize what everyone does and to be negative, especially in this economy.  As a leader, you need to find ways to stay positive and find ways to do things better, faster and more effectively.  It is important to remember that people are not perfect, and while you do need to address poor performance, great leaders know the value of acknowledging when people are doing things correctly.  Doing so builds a positive work environment that helps make people feel appreciated.
5.  Know Your Strengths – We each have strengths and weaknesses.  That being said, you will find that it is better to spend time working on your strengths rather than your weaknesses.  By doing this, you will find that you can rise to the expert level sooner than you would be by working on your weaknesses.  Bottom line: Know what you are good at and keep at it.
6.  Surround Yourself With People Who Complement You – As I mentioned above, we all have strengths and weaknesses.  Great leaders know what their weaknesses are and find people who support their shortcomings.  Not because they need to cover their weaknesses, but because they know the benefit of having a strong team — and when the team wins, everyone wins. 
7.  Look At Your Career, Not So Much At The Company – Great leaders know that they are the ones who will create their own career paths; therefore, they will work on making it happen.  And once they become an expert in their selected careers, they will find that they can go almost anywhere they want to go.
8.  Respect Your People – If you do not like to be around people, let alone lead people, then do not take a leadership position.  Conversely, if you do want to be in a leadership position, start building relationships with people by respecting what they do.  Additionally, it is important that a great leader never misses an opportunity to learn more about the people behind them.  Great leaders never skip an employee’s birthday gathering or a holiday party because they are too busy — they know that work will always be there. 
9.  Balance Your Work And Personal Life – Great leaders are often times driven people, but they know the key to success is to balance work and family.  Life is too short for you to live at your job.  One day, when work is winding down, you will think to yourself I wished I had done things differently.  Unfortunately, it will be too late to do so.  Great leaders set career boundaries and know when to spend more time with family and friends. Doing this will make stronger leaders.
10.  Evolve Into Someone You Aspire To Become – Great leaders know that they are individuals and that, as an individual, they are not required to be like everyone else.  They also know that they can take the path less traveled, as the risk is sometimes greater than the reward.  To be a great leader, one must become a person of great interest who has great skills.   
Executive Summary: When it comes time to lead people, great leaders know the power of information, information they gather from listening to people they respect.  They also know what to say, how to say it and when to say it so that during tough times things get done.

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Getting Media Coverage

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Number ONE is building relationships. No matter the market size, there are more opportunities to get your story on TV than ever before. The days of only two daily newscasts are long gone. Most television stations have early morning, mid-day and early afternoon casts in addition to the traditional 6 and 11 p.m. or 10 p.m. shows. They are hungry for excellent features. You can get YOUR story on the air.

          When you get a chance, check out Larry’s Blog via www.larrylitwin.com.

For now, here is a tactic – plus advice from the National Association of Broadcasters, which may be helpful – we have often used to build those relationships and – in fact – even received “side bars” on our approach. Here goes from The Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook page 281 (Media Relations):

In-service For Reporters

A rarely used, but accepted and encouraged method among strategic communicators is the “in-service” for media members covering a long-term story or special event. A New Jersey school district that had lost nearly a dozen bond and budget referenda over several years determined that neither the public nor the media understood the issues.

The public relations professional and school administrators invited media to a series of workshops spread out over several weeks. The workshops, over lunch (reporters do have to eat), lasted 45 minutes to an hour. Media outlets were encouraged to send any reporter who might cover the next referendum. A number of handouts – electronic and printed – were distributed and visuals were used freely.

Attendance was excellent. The message was communicated to the reporters who in turn took it to the public in terms the audiences could understand. Those in-services – cutting edge at the time – were considered successful because the district went on a “winning streak” at the polls. (A number of media outlets were so impressed, they decided to run [side bar] stories on what they considered a unique approach.)

Getting On The Air (page 320)

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) suggests that if your appeal is to be effective, you should have the answer to some key questions before contacting local stations: (Some refer to it as the MAC Triad – message, audience, channel.)

  •  What is your message? [message] Are you sure of the basic idea you want to communicate?
  • Who should receive your message? [audience] Is it of general interest to a large segment of the audience? Can it be tailored to reach a specific audience?
  • How can you best put your message across? [channel] Does it have enough general interest for a special program? Would a PSA serve just as well?

Your answers to these questions should help you determine in advance whether your pitch will work.

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In a word — Leadership

[To comment: larry@larrylitwin.com] — If you like this, check out Litwin’s books on www.larrylitwin.com. The entire Book Bundle of the three most current books with free shipping are $99.95.

            Tools of Leadership — some of Larry’s thought

  • All leaders are teachers…but not all teachers are leaders!
  • Managers – Do things right.

      Leaders – Do the right things.

  • Leaders
    • Convene
    • Communicate
    • Persuade (maybe even convince)
  • Leaders Defined
    • Title
    • Charisma (Connectivity)
    • Competence/Expertise
    • Communicator
    • Courage
    • Tenacity
    • Perseverance
    • Mental Toughness
    • Vision
    • Responsibility
  • In the end, Leadership is defined by:


  • Leadership Framework
    • Control
      • Preparation
      • Follow-up
      • Proactive
    • Consistency
      • Organization
      • Repetition
    • Campaign
      • Planning/”Premeditated”
      • Strategy/Timing
      • Measurable results

James Baker (Former secretary of state)

Leadership = “Knowing what to do and doing it.”

President Carter

“Leaders whose messages are not changing (or reinforcing) behavior are not true leaders. In fact, they are ‘MISleaders.’”


  • Choose to lead by stepping out of the darkness and taking others with you.
  • Make decisions they have to make even when they might have dangerous consequences


  • Requires Courage, Tenacity, Perseverance and Mental Toughness
  • Must Make Difficult Decisions
  • Must be Inspirational and Create Hope, Optimism and Enthusiasm for the Future

Never, never, never give up

Know Your Destination…and All Roads Will Lead To It…

Failure Is Not An Option

Know Your Destination…

  • Hit the ground running…and…be sure you are going in the right direction!!!
  • But remember – It’s the journey, not the destination.

It Always Takes A Great Team…Because…Failure Is Not An Option

In the end, Leadership is defined by: Results

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3 ways institutions can help students close the skills gap

Recently, our team attended the NACAC annual conference— a great event for admissions leaders and their industry partners. We were fortunate enough to attend a thought-provoking session led by Jeff Selingo, long-time higher ed researcher and reporter, who recently surveyed dozens of executives for his new book, There is Life After College. Much of what we heard from Selingo resonated with my experiences both working with higher ed leaders and as an employee of a 3,000-person company.

Selingo wanted to know what skills would help graduates land good jobs, so he interviewed and surveyed dozens of C-suite level employers to understand what they were looking for. What he found was that regardless of industry, most executives valued the same five traits: curiosity, creativity, digital awareness, critical thinking and humility.

The problem— there is oftentimes a disconnect between the higher education experience and the modern workplace, meaning many students are not always equipped with the skills to succeed post-graduation. This assertion is underscored by the Collegiate Learning Assessment Plus administered by the Council for Aid to Education, which estimates that 40% of college graduates don’t possess the complex reasoning skills required to make good decisions outside of the highly structured environment of the traditional four-year institution.

This disconnect may stem from the different environments. On one hand, you have the highly structured, scheduled environment of most academic programs, and on the other, there is the ambiguous, fluid modern workplace. Students succeed in college through strict adherence to schedules, syllabi and study guides. Employees succeed in the workplace with creativity, adaptability and self-direction.

These “soft” skills Selingo references are necessary to adapt to the constantly shifting responsibilities of most careers, executives believe, and can’t be taught from a text book or during a lecture. They must be gained through the higher education experience— a byproduct of the way students learn, rather than what they are learning.

In my 8 years of experience working with higher education institutions, I have had the opportunity to learn more about this gap first hand through our team’s direct interviews with many employers and program directors. To close the gap between what students learn in the classroom and what employers want in the workplace, I believe institutions must modernize their curriculum and the student experience. There are many ways to get there, but all roads include a hard look at programs and teaching methods. Below I’ve shared three ways we’ve seen institutions make changes that bring college skills closer to career skills.

#1. Provide students with opportunities for experiential learning

In his book, Jeff Selingo says that it’s important for institutions to help students fail – sometimes. The highly structured approach to higher ed learning leaves little opportunity for a disciplined student to experience failure. A less structured setting where students are forced to develop their own methods of critical thinking and decision making will lead to a culture of trial and error. To succeed, students must master the art of learning from failures, adjusting their methods, and trying again.

I believe one of the best ways for students to learn how to do this is by providing them with experiential learning opportunities. Making jobs and internships part of the higher ed equation helps students get comfortable with more personal responsibility, on-the-spot problem solving and contextual application of skills. It also drives home the idea that education should continue, in a self-guided capacity, throughout their entire career.

#2. Evaluate program viability and consider the job market

Program viability is one of the first things our team looks at when working with institutions to grow enrollments and build student success beyond graduation. Through employer surveys, labor statistics around future job demand, and other market indicators, we help institutions align their programs with the job market and promote them to the right audience.

The need for alignment between higher ed programs and the job market is especially apparent within the adult learner population. Those pursuing new careers or career advancement are especially affected by the skills gap, and many find post-graduation that they’re still not considered equipped for the job. Employers admit that many certification and continued education programs are great at imparting a number of hard-skills directly related to a specific field, but not as good at imparting the soft skills necessary for career advancement, like leadership, critical thinking and decision making.

By using data and research to evaluate the needs of learners when building programs, institutions can better position them on a path to success.

#3. Partner with area employers to inform program design

One of the ways we are working with institutions to close the skills gap is by helping them identify and connect with area employers to inform program design and align programs with the job market of the future. A partnership between an institution and a business can be beneficial to both parties. The institution gains valuable insight around the skills necessary to make student success post-graduation, and the employer gains access to a pool of uniquely qualified candidates.

These partnerships often grow to include other institutional benefits, like enrollment growth through tuition discounts or reimbursement, sponsored programs, research and labs, program promotion, and exclusive recruitment opportunities for students.

Many institutions have already begun making great strides and are enjoying the benefits of partnerships like these. We admire the work by Drexel University, Embry-Riddle, ASU, and many others who have embraced opportunities to connect learners to partner organizations. And there is no better way to close the higher ed/workforce skills gap than to position your students at the cutting-edge of their field with the employers they hope to work for.

Careers are changing across all industries at a break-neck pace, and this trend doesn’t show any signs of letting up. One of the best ways to ensure the success of both your students and your programs is keep your finger on the pulse of the ever-shifting job market and provide learners with the skills and experience they will need on day one.

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5 jobs that will make you feel more relaxed

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For the details about these stressless jobs, read The (Philadelphia) Inquirer – Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016 – Page C6 – philly.com/Monster.

  1. Acupuncturist – $48,735 per year
  2. Gardner – $27,460 per year
  3. Librarian – $56,880 per year
  4. Message therapist -$38,040 per year
  5. Yoga instructor – $36,160 per year

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