Modern-Day Slavery–$150 Billion Global Industry, 30 Million in Servitude: Business Must End ‘Forced Labor’ in Supply Chains

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Modern-day slavery is a $150 Billion global industry and enslaves 29.8 million people world-wide… Modern-day slavery is comparable to slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries but more insidious… Slavery refers to the condition of treating another person(s) as if they are property– something to be bought, sold, traded or even destroyed. People in modern-day slavery (as in earlier times) are essentially ‘owned’ by their employers, and are controlled through variety of means including; massive recruitment debts that they are unable  to pay off, threats of harm to them or their families, intimidation, cruel punishment…

Today, modern-day slavery takes many forms, and is known by many names, but whatever term is used, the significant characteristic of all forms of modern-day slavery is that it involves either; person(s), group, company… depriving other person(s) of their freedom: freedom to leave one job for another, or freedom to leave one workplace for another, or freedom to control their own body… Today’s slaves are trapped in many venues worldwide, for example; fishing fleets and sweatshops, mines and brothels, electronics and high-tech, textile and garments … and in fields and plantations in countries across the world: Modern-day slavery is ubiquitous.

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According to Joanne Bauer; for far too long businesses have ignored the use of forced labor in corporate supply chains– a situation that reflects– failure, not just of business but of society at large to confront the inconvenient truth of modern-day slavery. But, to fully understand modern-day slavery you must acknowledge that it’s a business; an illegitimate business, but still a business to make money and profit at the expense, enslavement, suffering… of humanity… According to Andrew Cockburn; there are more slaves today than were seized from Africa in four centuries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade… So, business must step-up, now; and tackle crisis of modern-day slavery head-on.

According to International Labor Organization (ILO) Report: The ILO estimates that modern-day slavery is $150 Billion per year business, and 20.9 million or more people are working as modern-day slaves, victims of forced labor, trapped in jobs into which they were coerced or deceived and which they cannot leave. This figure represents a conservative estimate, given the strict methodology employed to measure this largely hidden crime. Human trafficking can also be regarded as forced labor, and so this estimate captures the full realm of human trafficking for labor and sexual exploitation or what some call ‘modern-day slavery’.

This means that around three out of every 1,000 persons worldwide are in forced labor at any given time… Women and girls represent the greater share of the total – 11.4 million (55%), as compared to 9.5 million (45%) men and boys. Adults are more affected than children – 74% (15.4 million) of victims fall in the age group of 18 years and above, whereas children aged 17 years and below represent 26% of the total (or 5.5 million child victims).

Of total number of 20.9 million in forced labor, 18.7 million (90%) are exploited in private economies, by individuals or enterprises. And out of these, 4.5 million (22%) are victims of forced sexual exploitation, and 14.2 million (68%) are victims of forced labor exploitation in economic activities, such as; agriculture, domestic work, construction, manufacturing… The remaining 2.2 million (10%) are in state-imposed forms of forced labor, for example; in prisons, or in work imposed by the state military or by rebel armed forces.

The Asia-Pacific region by far is the largest hotbed for exploited laborers, accounting for 11.7 million (56% of the global total)… Africa comes in at number two, accounting for 3.7 million (18%), while another 1.8 million (9%) of exploited laborers are in Latin America, Caribbean. The ‘Developed Economies’ and ‘European Union’ account for 1.5 million (7%), while countries of Central, South-Eastern and Eastern Europe (CSEE) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) have 1.6 million (7%)… An estimated 600,000 exploited workers, meanwhile, are believed to be in the Middle East… These men, women and children are virtually invisible, hidden behind wall of coercion, threat, economic exploitation. 

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The Global Slavery Index is a ranking of 162 countries around the world, based on a combined measure of three factors: Estimated prevalence of modern slavery by population: Measure of child marriage: Measure of human trafficking. The Index provides an estimate of the size of the modern-day slavery problem, country by country… Not all the countries in the world are represented in the Global Slavery Index. The 162 countries that are included, however, represent nearly all of the world’s 7.1 billion people…

The Global Slavery Index is the product of ‘Walk Free Foundation’, in consultation with experts from international organizations, think tanks, academic institutions… A key finding from this year’s Index is that there are an estimated 29.8 million people enslaved around the world… Also according to the Index; the prevalence of modern-day slavery is highest in the following countries: Mauritania, Haiti,  India Pakistan, Nepal, Moldova, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Gabon… However, when considered in absolute terms, countries with highest numbers of enslaved people are: India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Russia, Ethiopia, Thailand, Republic of Congo , Myanmar, Bangladesh… and when taken together, these ten countries account for 76% of the total estimate of 29.8 million enslaved people… Countries with the lowest prevalence of modern slavery are: Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, New Zealand, UK, Ireland, Iceland…

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In the article Business of Modern Day Slavery by Andrew Mersmann writes: The reality that modern-day slavery is happening right now shocks most people… By a conservative estimate there are more than 27 million people enslaved right now around the world– more slaves today than at any other time in history. In the U. S., 150,000 children are exploited by the sex trade every year; it’s a supply and demand business, and as long as there is demand for less-than-minimum wage labor, and a demand for non-consensual sex trade, human beings will continue to be bought and sold… The reason it continues to grow and thrive is because human life can be cheap, disposable, for example; in 1850, a slave in the American South cost the equivalent, in today’s currency, of about $40,000. Whereas today, a slave can be had for about $90; there are millions of economically and socially vulnerable people who exploiters would consider viable stock… Because these vulnerable people are, essentially; disposable and easily replaced… then, when a slave becomes– ill, injured, outlive their usefulness and profitability or when they become a burden to the slaveholder, they are routinely dumped or killed…

The largest global industries that profit from the enslavement and forced work of people are the same as ever; agriculture, mining, garment industry… There is a fairly good chance that the cell phone you use every day, the imported fruits and vegetables you eat, perhaps the sneakers on your feet, and the diamonds you wear or covet, were brought into the commerce stream by someone who was not working of their own free will… Some are coerced by seemingly wonderful yet fraudulent job offers or promises of free transport to other countries, where once they arrive, they are kept in physical or financial bondage until they can payback exorbitant travel costs or rents or other ‘fees’ they incurred and supposedly owe a ‘boss’… The cycle is unbreakable and there is never a way out…

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In the article Modern-Day Slavery: Motivating Business to Act by  Luk Van Wassenhove and Sameer Hasija write: As many as 27 million people around the world are victims of modern-day slavery, e.g.; forced labor, human trafficking… According to the ‘Trafficking in Persons Report’ by U.S. State Department: It’s estimated that up to 68% of modern-day slavery victims toil in commercial industries such as; manufacturing, construction, domestic work… The extent of the problem is chilling, e.g.;  many items in your home, office… your smart phone, clothing you wear… are at least partly produced by 21st Century slaves… Despite this, there is still no critical mass of public or business outcry and willingness to boycott the purchasing of  goods from providers that use forced, coerced, or bonded laborers…

Compared with many social and environmental issues, modern-day slavery has not seen much enthusiastic response from the business community. Although virtually all business codes of conduct prohibit any kind of forced labor, however this issue is rarely given serious attention. According to Crane and Matten; most businesses simply assume that it doesn’t affect them. Companies just aren’t looking hard enough to find connections to modern-day slavery in their supply chains, elsewhere… According to the Guardian; problem is not so much that we cannot find forced labor cases; but a new approach to enforcing forced labor laws is necessary… In the meantime, forced labor and slavery continue to flourish in global supply chains spread across continents, fueled by your insatiable desire for cheap goods and raw materials…

According to Andrew Wallis; usual narrative around slavery in supply chains of clothes, food, gadgets… is that it’s driven by the evils of big business… But if you simply point the finger at business, you risk alienating the only people with the power to eradicate slavery… Most corporations are not directly or intentionally involved in using forced labor or slaves, but in a world of complex and extended supply chains it’s easy for modern slavery to thrive, often unnoticed, at the bottom of production line. According to a few business leaders; it never really occurred to me that this was an issue, until I came across it in the supply chain, and I realized it was not an isolated incident and something had to be done…

According to Ethan B. Kapstein; modern-day slavery is a product of same political, technological, economic forces that fuel globalization. The current system offers too many incentives to criminals and outlaw states to market humans… It’s important to remember that slavery today seems to thrive in some parts of the world due to economic growth, not despite it. It’s worth remembering that in 19th Century many people argued that slavery would end ‘naturally’ once the practice was no longer economically profitable. However, there is no ‘natural’ end to slavery, and any productive policy must start by recognizing that fact….

The reality of modern-day slavery is that millions of people are trapped and denied freedom and lives of dignity, and bound only to serve and profit the criminals that control them… According to Aidan McQuade; many people continue to believe the myth that slavery is a thing of the past… other people, naively accept the idea that modern-day slavery is some ‘regrettably inevitable’ aspect of international business in a global economy… The routine use of slavery in many of the supply chains will remain the case until leaders from business and politics refuse to tolerate this situation any further and enforce the laws against it.

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Halloween is Big Business: $10 Billion of Trick, Treat, Costumes, Decorations… Season for ‘Pop-Up’ Stores

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Halloween is number one holiday when it comes to growth in consumer spending… According to National Retail Federation; Halloween will be celebrated in record sales numbers in 2014, with more than two-thirds of Americans buying Halloween costumes, decorations, candy, and much more… for total estimated spending for the holiday of $7.4 billion, including $350 million on costumes for pets. Overall consumer spending on Halloween is expected to top $78 per person, representing 62% increase over ten years. According to another study; 162 million people plan to celebrate Halloween in some way this year,  with $2.8 billion spent on costumes of which $1.1 billion is earmarked for kids costumes, $230 million to dress up pets, and that leaves majority of consumers planned costume budgets for adults…

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Although Halloween costumes top the list as a category, the fastest-growing category is Halloween decorations; nearly half (50%) of consumers plan to decorate their homes or yards and plan to spend about $31 each… That translates into a 48% increase per consumer over the course of the past ten years… According to Ken Alterman; with this year’s observance on Friday, even higher growth is anticipated and expect the ‘selfie’ to be bigger than ever this year as 60% of social media users who dress up report their social networks will impact their costume choices. Social media has continued to spark costume creativity – if a photo is likely to be posted to their social channels, 35% would be more inclined to create a one-of-a-kind costume. Almost half plan to get inspiration from their news feed, while 34% want to wear something different every year to avoid posting similar photos… while 41% plan to participate in ‘web-rooming’, i.e.; research online before purchase of Halloween-related items in physical stores…

What is Halloween? The essential elements of Halloween, such as; costuming, trick-or-treating, lighting bonfires, telling ghost stories, and attending community parties can be traced back 2000 years ago to the ancient Celtic festival called Samhain, which means ‘summer’s end’… Halloween is a contraction of  ‘All Hallows’ Evening’, also known as ‘All Saints’ Eve’, and is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of– ‘All Hallows’ Day’. It initiates the triduum of ‘Allhallowtide’, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including; saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers. Within ‘Allhallowtide’, the traditional focus of ‘All Hallows’ Eve’ revolves around theme of using– ‘humor and ridicule to confront the power of death’… According to many scholars, ‘All Hallows’ Eve’ is a Christianized feast initially influenced by Celtic harvest festivals, with possible pagan roots, particularly the Gaelic Samhain. Other scholars maintain that it originated independently of Samhain and has solely Christian roots…

However, Halloween is no stranger to controversy even in the twenty-first century, but the energy of Halloween has always been targeted by those who wish to control it, from the early Catholic church to the various political and religious groups of today. Yet, Halloween has managed to achieve national status without federal sanction (such as; July 4th and Christmas) because it’s a celebration of the potential of what humans want to be– and if only for one night, for what they would not otherwise be… Historically Halloween endures because it allows its participants to both embrace and diffuse their fears… From the ancient Celts who worshiped the Lord of the Dead to help them visualize the afterlife to the little vampires and fairies trick-or-treating at your door, Halloween’s adaptability is the reason it remains– after nearly 2000 years– it’s the most bewitching night of the year.

In the article Halloween by Numbers; Cost of a Scare by Lisa LaMotta writes: It’s a $10 Billion industry without counting the booze, and growing rapidly… It’s scary, the money people spend on Halloween, Americans will shell out just over $5 billion on the harrowing holiday this year, up 58% since 2002 (11% annualized growth)… And it doesn’t even include all the alcohol consumed at the crazy costume parties… According to Scott Krugman; Halloween is moving away from one night out of the year to full season, and the larger promotional window for Halloween is leading to increased sales opportunities for retailers… Nearly 60% of the 8,877 people surveyed by the National Retail Federation (NRF) plan to celebrate Halloween in some way, such as; dressing up, going to a party, handing out candy, carving pumpkins, trick-or-treating, decorating… While the percentage of decorating for Halloween remains the same, the average amount spent per person climbed 14%, to $26.59, over last year. Estimated price tag for all those Halloween decorations is $1.4 billion. In terms of decoration purchases, the Halloween season is now second only to Christmas…

But, don’t forget all those real pumpkins: According to the NRF survey, more than 40% said they were going to carve pumpkins for Halloween, this year… According to Department of Agriculture; U.S. farmers harvested nearly 43,000 acres of pumpkins, the total weight is 10.2 million cwt (about 1 billion pounds)… Even dogs are getting in on the Halloween action: Halloween costumes for pets have been catching on over the last couple of years… You will see very generous offerings in terms of pet costumes, and with owners and their pets dressing in some sort of theme… There will be plenty of human howling, too: Almost 30% of people surveyed by the NRF said; they were going to throw or attend Halloween party this year. When it comes to parties; Halloween draws the third-highest crowds, behind New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl Sunday…

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In the article Halloween Sales May Hit $125 Per Family by Kim Souza writes: According to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC); 74% of U.S. households plan to spend money on Halloween-related items, including; candy, costumes, decorations, other related holiday items… for an average of $125 per household on Halloween candy, costumes, decorations and other related holiday items… The total benefit for retailers is expected to be $11.3 billion. Some 80% of households will spend the same as last year and 20% said they plan to increase spending, ICSC notes… Halloween has continued to grow in importance over past several years, and consumer demand has driven retailers to place greater emphasis on the holiday. Also, since consumers seem to be willing to spend more on discretionary purchases is a positive sign for upcoming holiday shopping season…

However, while consumers are willing to spend for the holiday, they are still looking for sales and good prices which is why discount retailers are expected to get 34% of the overall sales. Supermarkets should garner about 18% of sales, with drug store chains and wholesale clubs picking up 11% and 9%, respectively. National Retail Federation expects total spending at $7.4 billion, about one-third of which is spent on candy, and about 75% of U.S. households plan to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters this year… The National Retail Federation estimates that spending on children’s costumes will total $1.1 billion, while 75 million adults will spend $1.4 billion on costumes for themselves and another $350 million on costumes for their pets…

In the article Business of Halloween Pop-Up Shops by Lydia Dishman writes: Halloween is just around the corner, but the shops peddling costumes, makeup, fake tombstones, all manner of cobwebs, skulls and life-size plastic ghouls have been doing brisk business all month. Specialty stores sprout seemingly overnight in temporary locations like empty mall stores… then slam shut like a coffin right after the holiday, for example; national chains such as; Spirit Halloween, Halloween City… brings in big sales– even in New York City where rents for retail spaces can top $79,000 per month. According to Christina Norsig; rising consumer sentiment, disposable incomes have allowed total spending on Halloween to increase every year since 2009, which was a massive 18.5% decline from 2008…

According to Olivia Tang; this year Americans are projected to spend $8 billion, and a whopping $2.9 billion will be spent on costumes, which  representing a 12.2% increase over last year… That’s good news for Halloween ‘Pop-Up’ stores, both small and large According to Alison Paul; in comparison to what it costs to establish a new building, putting in a Pop-Up is a much smaller investment for a retailer… a Pop-Up is defined as a temporary leasing of a space from– one day to one year. Halloween shops that run for one month sometimes extend for a few weeks for after-Halloween sales: This ‘retail model’ works best for seasonal merchandise and specialty type holidays… According to Alison Paul; as consumer spending continues to rise, it’s become harder to find empty big-box stores… To further maximize sales, these seasonal retailers have turned to the Web, which is the number two destination for shopping during the holidays…

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Overall, consumer spending on ‘all things Halloween’ has increased a whopping 54.7% since 2005 making it a significant source of retail revenue, especially since it comes in a month (October) that would otherwise be slow… In fact, spending on Halloween decorations ranks second only to spending on Christmas decorations, a fact not lost on merchants who devote entire sections of stores to this holiday… According to Jim Probasco; many major retailers, rather than just spending October ramping up for the more visible Christmas holiday season, now spend significant advertising dollars on– goblins, witches, zombies… before turning to Santa and his reindeer: Halloween has become a true retail bonanza… The Halloween market is growing in two ways that make it very attractive for business opportunities. First, Halloween is becoming an increasingly universal celebration… Second, Halloween is becoming a very large market–  consumers are spending increasing amounts of money on celebration…

Statistically, business opportunities related to Halloween has ‘legs’… Growing segments within the Halloween market makes for many very ‘sweet’ business opportunities… Although children’s ‘trick or treat’ is still Halloween mainstay, it’s the adults who are spending more money on the celebration, and embracing Halloween as a chance to let their inner child get out and party. Large parties with participants wearing elaborate costumes are becoming increasingly popular, which is great news for people looking for niche business opportunities… So don’t just look at Halloween as time to buy candy or a chance to party but more important, view Halloween as a business opportunity that a savvy entrepreneur won’t want to overlook…

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Ebola– Dual Catastrophe; Human Suffering and Global Economic Impact: Crisis Within a Crisis– $40 Billion Fear Factor…

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Ebola’s impact on world economies is not so much the virus but ‘fear’… In a world gripped by fear from Ebola it’s worth remembering that the bigger threat to the global economy lies not with people afflicted by the virus, but with those who are not… Economists and public health experts have learned much from recent epidemics, such as; Chinese outbreak of  ‘severe acute respiratory syndrome’ (SARS) in 2003 and that of ‘H1N1 influenza’, ‘swine flu’, in Mexico in 2009. According to Michael J. Casey; one key lesson from those experiences is that the indirect costs of public ‘risk aversion’ can generate far more economic damage than the direct cost of health care outlays and other containment expenditures… The losses are found in empty hotel rooms, reduced travel, school closures, disrupted work routines… Or, they come from the blow to consumer confidence that accompanies widespread fear…

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According to Mead Over; any significant economic impact would not be as a result of the actual disease, rather it would be a consequence of ‘aversion behavior’ caused by fear of Ebola… The impact of aversion behavior on markets is like a speculative bubble, but in reverse… According to Jeremy Warner; we know that pandemics will frequently have deeply negative economic consequences… and, this has actually very little to do with the direct impact of the virus itself. Much more important is the effect on behavior, which is the fear factor and the aversion response it triggers… Already we are seeing the early signs in reduced international travel and cancelled trade, never mind the direct consequences for already fragile African economies…

Much of the relevant analysis of epidemics’ economic impact has dealt with airborne diseases, such as SARS and avian flu, whose transmission rates are much higher than the Ebola, which is passed through bodily fluid. But while it’s likely that the economic impact will correlate with the actual spread of the disease, outcomes depend on the public response. One study led by U.K economists that modeled the global economic fallout from a hypothetical influenza pandemic predicted only a 0.5% GDP loss from the base effect of the disease itself, but up to 8% due to policies intended to mitigate its spread, such as; school closures… for society at large, it’s the economic contagion from Ebola that matters more than any actual infectious disease contagion…

What is Ebola? by Samuel Kevorkian writes: Ebola Virus Disease  (EVD) or Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is the name of a human disease which has a high mortality rates, as high as 90%. This virus has many variations. The virus is named after the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the first outbreak was in 1976… Ebola epidemic emerged from the remote villages of Central and West Africa, near the rain forests. Virus transmits from wildlife to humans and then spread out in the community from humans to humans. The World Health Organization (WHO) said the fruit bats (Pteropodidae) are natural hosts of Ebola. In addition, gorillas, apes and pigs… can also become vectors if they come into contact with saliva or droppings of bats… People who are infected with Ebola virus have an incubation period of from 2 to 21 days… There is no vaccine or treatment therapy for this disease…

Ebola virus is transmitted from animals to people after close contact with either; blood or secretions of infected animals… then it can be transmitted from person to person by direct contact with either; blood, body secretions (feces, urine, saliva, semen), scratches on the skin… or, by mucous membranes of healthy people who have been exposed to infected physical areas by secretions of the virus, for example; infected people’s clothes, contaminated bed sheets, used needles… No specific treatment for the disease is yet available. The disease has a high risk of death, killing between 25% and 90% of those infected with the virus (average is about 50%)…

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U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Reports– Predicted that if the virus continues to spread at current rates, more than 1.4 million people will be infected before the outbreak is contained. But this prediction is a worst-case scenario that does not take into account recent efforts by the international community to stem the spread of the disease. It’s, however, stark reminder of the possible exponential transmission rate of the disease, if collective response to the Ebola threat is not fast and effective… The CDC has also emphasized the importance of building new medical facilities, improving home care treatment (including training thousands of health care workers), and implementing broad-based, effective public information campaigns. Although CDC projected a sobering, worst-case scenario of 1.4 million cases of Ebola by January 2015, it didn’t take into account the planned interventions by the international community…

International donors such as World Bank and IMF have pledged to provide over $400 million and $130 million financing (respectively) toward emergency response and medium and long-term recovery in the most-affected countries. The U.S. has provided a surge of $175 million and 3,000 troops to help train nurses and set-up emergency treatment facilities in Liberia. China has committed 174 doctors to Sierra Leone and $37 million in assistance to West Africa. Cuba has also pledged to provide the largest team of medical professionals of any country to assist the region, with 165 doctors set to arrive in Sierra Leone in October and additional 296 heading to Guinea and Liberia.

World Bank Report– The Economic Impact of the 2014 Ebola Epidemic: As of October 16, 2014, the Ebola worldwide death toll will pass 4,500, including 236 health workers, and the number infected will pass 9,000, including; 427 health workers with three worst-affected countries of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone. A new economic impact assessment from World Bank Group says that if the epidemic were to significantly infect people in neighboring countries, some of which have much larger economies, the two-year regional financial impact could reach US$32.6 billion by the end of 2015… According to the analysis, the economic impacts of Ebola are already very serious in the core three countries – particularly; Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone – and, could become even catastrophic under slow-containment…

In broader regional terms, the economic impact could be limited if immediate national and international action stop the epidemic and alleviate the ‘aversion behavior’ or fear factor that is causing neighboring countries to close their borders, and airlines and other regional and international companies to suspend their commercial activities in the three worst-affected countries… According to Jim Yong Kim; the international community must act on the knowledge that weak public health infrastructure, institutions, and systems in many fragile countries are a threat not only to their own citizens but also to their trading partners and the world at large…

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Reports: The projected economic growth rate could decline for Sierra Leone from 11.3% to 8%, for Liberia from 5.9% to 2.5% and for Guinea from 3.5% to 2.4%. The IMF admits that the situation is evolving, and that the crisis is not over yet. All the three countries are covered by IMF programs… However, according to Meinie Nicolai; the reality appears to indicate that the IMF needs to revise its figures… the Ebola epidemic is having a major impact in affected countries in Western Africa and the situation is becoming catastrophic… and, the international response to the emergency is ‘below standard’ and ‘way too slow’… it’s important to remember that the epidemic is still spreading, that it’s highly deadly, and it can not be predict when it will be contained…

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Ebola has a major impact on society: It’s contagious and extremely fatal. It creates enormous fear among the population and has a paralyzing effect on countries, for example; in Liberia, before the Ebola outbreak there were 11 airline companies flying to the country, now there are only two international companies left. Ports have reduced access. Borders have been closed… Hospitals are closing, staff are scared to go to work. Patients don’t go for other health treatments, so people die from other diseases… prices are increasing, entrepreneurs are leaving the country, there are cash problems… they need ‘hands on the ground’ to build hospitals and to help set-up treatment centers for patients…

Ebola is not a West African problem. It is not an African problem. It’s a global problem… and, it needs to be addressed at all levels (national, regional, international) as swiftly and completely as possible. In this sense, it’s important to coordinate a united African and global response, in the short-term, but also consider how to integrate investment in health systems into regional development plans. in the medium to long-term, so that public health crises like the current Ebola outbreak can be addressed more quickly (or averted entirely) in the future…

As stressed by the World Bank; the largest economic effects of the crisis are not as a result of the direct costs (e.g.; mortality, morbidity, care-giving, loss in work days…), but rather the results from ‘aversion behavior’ driven by fear of contagion… The impact of this behavior is like a speculative bubble, yet in reverse… however, once ‘fear’ is subsided the impact will diminish… Predicting where Ebola might spread and how long the outbreak could last is impossible, and so is gauging its potential economic impact. What is clear, however, is that containing the disease is not just humanitarian necessity but economic imperative…

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Power of Personal Brand, Self-Packaging, Image Management: Invest in Critical Personal Assets– Appearance, Impressions…

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Personal branding, appearance, image… involves creating an asset by defining an individual’s physical brand, digital and online presence, and areas of knowledge and expertise… such that, it leads to a uniquely distinguishable, ideally memorable, personal impression… Personal brand, image, appearance… are critical in business. People generally retain or remember 4% of content of any presentation, speech or talk, but they always remember 100% of how they felt about it… Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves as a brand… While previous self-help management techniques were about self-improvement, the personal-branding concept suggests instead that success comes from self-packagingIn the world of business, if you have the qualifications to do the job then that should be all that matters, right? Wrong. When it comes to the saying: You only have one time to make a good first impression… and when conducting business your personal appearance speaks loud and clear in having pride both in yourself, as well as the business you represent…

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According to Thursday Bram; as a society, we value appearances, no matter how often we hear ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’.  The right appearance can make a difference but it’s important to understand the differences between making sure that your appearance can help you move toward your goals; and, just wanting to project an image for image sake. It’s the second one that can be incredibly expensive… According to  Shannon Kohn; studies show that 55% of a person’s opinion is driven by your physical appearance and first impressions, which are formed within the first 7 to 17 seconds. Appearance may not be the most important factor, but it’s definitely an influencer and you should be cognitive of it; ‘appearance’ can tip the scale… Hence take a few moments to reflect on how others perceive you, your company, your interactions…Think of a few ways on how to improve yourself; small changes can make big strides at helping you garner more success…

Image management is the ongoing process of evaluating and controlling the impact of your appearance and the resulting response on you and others. The concept of image management applies to anyone who has ever needed to improve self-image, self-esteem, self-confidence, and credibility. It applies to anyone who has ever wanted to get an idea across to others, to influence opinion, to take action… It’s creating an authentic, appropriate, attractive image… Although your abilities intelligence, knowledge, initiatives… are vital to success… an ongoing image management can give you the personal/professional presence needed to sustain success… According to Judith Rasband; as an individual living and working in a highly complex and competitive society, you must recognize and understand the impact of appearance as it communicates first to you and then to others: What you wear, and the way you look affects: 1. the way you think; 2. the way you feel; 3. the way you act or behave; 4. the way others react or respond to you…

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In the article First Impression is Critical to Your Brand by Jocelyn Giangrande writes: Today, many professionals understand the importance of establishing a strong professional brand. However, few focus enough on one important factor; the first impression. The cliché ‘you only get one chance to make a first impression’ is basically true, especially when it comes to your brand. If you wish to make a great first impression, consider these interesting stats:

  • In 1/4 of a second, people make up their mind about you…
  • In the first five seconds, a person’s impression of you flips back and forth eleven times…
  • The first impression is more important than the next five impressions…

What does this have to do with your professional brand? It means that your brand and image may be sealed in six seconds, and before you even open your mouth… If you want a rock solid brand, you must make a rock solid first impression. Leave them talking positively about you by focusing on your appearance: Your appearance is the most critical when making a first impression, and it’s important to make sure you are presenting yourself the way you wish be known.

According to F. Scott Addis and Christin Myers; fair or not, you have only mere moments to make initial impression on prospective customers. Within the first minutes of an encounter, business partners, customers are making rapid assessments about your appearance, your intellect, your business acumen… Your ability to set-up positive expectations can win you the opportunity to build long-term business relationships, or your inability to do so can end business before it begins… The importance of projecting an image of professionalism in the first moments cannot be overstated.  How you come across in the first five minutes or less will set the tone for much of your future interactions…

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In the article Why Your Appearance Matter by Suzanne Vara writes: When we think of appearance we think of how we look: It’s a big deal, since your first appearance sets the stage of how people view you and develop an image of who you are. We form opinions of brands based upon who you believe they are. We are drawn to them through their physical appearance, taste, reputation, friendliness, their generosity, sense of humor and values… As a brand, whether it’s a personal or corporate, appearance matters in all facets… Physical appearance while we want to sometimes deny it, does have its perks. If someone is physically attractive, you are drawn to them… If a corporate brand unveils a gorgeous and interactive new website, you are drawn to it.  How we look makes a difference for that initial attraction… People are attracted to you physically, no doubt, but that can last just a few seconds, then when you open your mouth: Scary to think that words and actions can change everything… However, appearance is more than just showing up; you must also show your brilliance.

In the article Personal Appearance Matters by Stephanie Armour writes: Let’s face it, people react to your ‘look’… They draw conclusions about your decision-making ability, judgment, taste, attention to detail, self-esteem, values… Personal appearance is a message we send each day to the people you interact with. What you say about yourself through your ‘look’ is a choice you make; how you wear clothes, shoes, cosmetics, accessories, hair style… and attitude. The challenge is to figure out what others see, and if you don’t, you set yourself up for unexpected surprises…

What does your boss or coworker see when you arrive at work? Maybe this wasn’t  your intent, but it’s hard to predict the wide spectrum of possible interpretations you might get.. You must take charge of how you are perceived. Your appearance package is your messenger, and the way it’s interpreted is left to the people who receive it… Study after study has found that leaner, fitter, better-dressed, better-groomed, and therefore better-looking people are paid more, promoted faster, and rewarded with more positive evaluations… That’s harsh reality. The lesson is to align personal appearance with the culture of the workplace…

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In the article How Much Do Appearances Matter? by chipscholz writes: Sylvia Ann Hewlett of the Center for Talent Innovation surveyed 268 executives and interviewed 4,000 college-educated adults on ‘executive presence’, including appearance. More than a third of surveyed executives considered polish and grooming vital to one’s personal presence, even ahead of physical attractiveness… It’s not the body type, height, or weight that matters most. It’s what you do with what you’ve  got. Anyone can improve his or her looks through better grooming habits. While dress standards vary, good grooming signals– discipline, competency, good health, and that you care.

In a study at Harvard Medical School; judgments about a woman’s competence, likeability,  and trustworthiness were affected by how much makeup they wore.. When you make an effort to look polished, you signal to others that you see them as worth your time and investment. It telegraphs that you take your work seriously. Senior leaders say that failure to come through on the grooming front signals either poor judgment or lack of discipline… Achieving polish comes down to minimizing distractions from your skill sets, the message you’re trying to convey, and the changes you want to influence… While the specifics of dress, makeup, hair, and grooming vary according to geographical and industry contexts, always make your appearance focus the audience on your competencies, rather than as a potential distraction…

Invest in your appearance: Take a long look at yourself in the mirror. Women and men do this differently. Women, mostly look in the mirror to see their flaws, whereas men look in the mirror to admire themselves. Women gain a pound and see themselves as rotund. Men see an expanding waist-line as normal, or perhaps as clothes that have shrunk in the wash: An exaggeration, perhaps, but women know better… If you expect people to follow you, give them reasons. Groom yourself; Dress neat and smart… Also take care of what’s inside you: Good diet, healthy exercise are important to looks, as well as health… Look beneath the surface: Appearance can be misleading, and yet the way you present yourself is critical. Every person must earn trust, but the door to trust can only be opened if people are willing to give you a second look, or better yet– a long look and a good listen…

Most experts believe that first impressions can be very lasting, even though you may look and act differently, later. Looks alone cannot bring you job success. But not caring about your looks is one sure way to keep yourself from succeeding. The way you look at work is critical to your success on the job… According to  Sandra Collins; people buy from people, and first impressions count; it only takes 7 seconds to make that first impression, which is little or no time to speak! What really matters is that you think about how you want to present yourself, who you are, and what your customers and colleagues expect, then create your appearance accordingly… According to Colin Shaw; it’s better not to ‘judge a book by its cover’, but since we know we are going to do it anyway, make that ‘the cover’ say what you want to say…

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Power of Community– Create World-Class Community for Your Business: Can’t Succeed Without It…

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Business community ; collection of people, business, organization… whose defining characteristic is shared participation. Communities are ultimately geared towards some form of action. What drives the collective participation of the community is the individual vested interest of each member. Finding an intersection between members’ individual vested interest is highly complex, and that means most communities are uniquely difficult to catalyze, sustain… Further, communities are only viable when a critical mass of its membership contribute. Unlike an affiliation, where too much observation kills a community… According to Brian Prentice; defining and assessing communities must be based on the type of participation being shared… Increasingly its fashionable to use to the term community to represent the sum total of all relationships a company has – regardless of who it is… But, make no mistake – catalyzing and sustaining a community is half magic, and half hard work…

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When you’re building a community around the business, you’re putting the focus where it belongs: on the business… It adds equity to the business and attracts the right customers to the community… When you’re strategic about community building, it forces you to identify goals, and put a solid purpose behind your efforts… it’s a necessary component for growth; as it forges, fosters relationships that are essential for the business… According to Saurabh Tyagi; successful communities don’t just happen by themselves. They’re the result of a carefully executed strategy, solid design, and patient nurturing. Though it may seem like a lot of work, a community can bring many benefits to a brand, and make the efforts very worthwhile.

In the article How to Build Community for Business by Mackenzie Fogelson writes: There are many benefits to building a community around your company, but if I had to choose a few, here are my top five:

  • It will help you weather Google’s algorithms: Building an online community is a good ways to weather Google’s algorithms. If you’re continually chasing the algorithm you’re putting all of your power in what Google’s going to do next. But, if you’re building a community around the business, you’re putting the focus where it belongs: On the business. Building a strong company and brand isn’t something that Google can take away.
  • It will add equity and value to your business: When you build online community, you must do many things to better serve customers, such as; create quality content and resources, enhance your product or services, improve your systems and processes. Doing these things adds equity and value to the business and attracts the right customers to your community.
  • It will help you have purpose: There’s a lot of effort involved in building a community around your brand, and it’s not just about creating content or being on social media, and just because everyone else is doing it. When you’re strategic about community building, it forces you to identify goals, and put a solid purpose behind your efforts.
  • It will help you stand out: If you are committed to the process of building a community, you are going to be doing a great deal of self-discovery (which often times can be pretty uncomfortable). During this process you’ll determine what you’re all about, what you love to do, and what it’s going to take to help you stand out among the competition.
  • It will put the focus on goals, not tools: Building a community is not just a bunch of fluffy stuff; it’s the seamless integration of tools like SEO, social media, content marketing, email marketing, and all kinds of other important stuff (like hard work and passion). But in order for the tools to be effective, they’ve got to be driven by a strategy that is rooted in the goals of your entire business.

There is a whole lot of trial and error, joy and pain… It’s a necessary component for growth as it forges and fosters relationships that are essential for building a business… Some of the key steps in creating an effective business community are:

  • Define your business objectives: Keep in mind that there is much more to defining business objectives than just writing down a list of goals. So before you do that, think about this: What makes your company unique? determine the unique selling proposition… Why do you care? The passion that you feel for the business is not only a significant differentiator, but it’s part of your story… What do you want to build? It very helpful to make a list… Who do you want to build it for? This is the part where you get really clear about who your customer actually is… What are their fears, concerns, and challenges? Talk to them; Survey them; Ask them… Organize your audiences into groups. Build some personae around them so that they are– real, live, tangible people… Just remember that every person is not your customer.. .
  • Develop your strategy: Developing a strategy that will actually help you to achieve your goals. A good strategy will assist you in breaking the high level goals down into actionable, chewable pieces that you can work towards, even measure. Think about strategy as: What: Campaigns… When: Execution calendar… How: Ongoing efforts…
  • Learn the industry: You can’t grow a business in a vacuum. If you want to stand out and be successful, you’ve got to be learning and growing: All–The–Time.
  • Create value: Value is what community is built on, value that focuses on the customer and their experience, and that is what attracts them to your business, brand, community… It’s not about you; Focus on customers, and don’t just guess; ask them. Do a survey, make a phone call, take them to lunch… Listen and figure out how you can better serve them, and actually apply feedback to the business… Stay focused on the customer, and test out what works best for the community.
  • Build and foster growth: Building and fostering community is synonymous with building and growing the business. You’ve got to work at it: All The Time… There are many things that you can do to foster and grow your community, for example; it’s about building a brand… At the heart of building community is making the business you’ve always wanted to be. Stay rooted in your passion for the business… Stay grounded in your goals

In the article How to Build a Community by Martin Reed writes: So you want to build a community? But, before you start, ask yourself (and the business) questions before you go any further… and, if your answer is; ‘because everyone else has one’, then the community will probably fail. However, if it’s because you want to be more customer focused, and want to offer more value to your customers, you’re more likely to succeed… Then, be realistic, be adventurous… Your community won’t be a success overnight, it may take weeks, months, even years for success to come (oh, and make sure you’re measuring success in the right ways). Lots of people give up on their community project too soon. You must take a long-term approach; remember, you’re building people and business relationships, so you cannot rush it… But, at same time, you must experiment and take risks from time-to-time; where some will work, but some won’t.  However, the more adventurous you are, the better your chances of success…

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In the article How to Create Your Own Community by Kristi Hines writes: What does it take to create successful, thriving community to which members are happy to come back regularly?

  • Start With Research: Before you jump into creating a community, start by seeing what’s out there in a related niche, join those communities, and then observe the activity. Note, what you like and dislike about the way the community operates, including; platform, members, leaders… Note, which communities keep you coming back for more, and how they do it…
  • Provide Unique Value: Notice, I didn’t just say value but unique’ value. Think about the communities you researched and then try to figure out that one thing that no one else is offering that you can
  • Address Your Members’ Concerns: This one may get tough, depending on how many members you have in your community, it’s always important to acknowledge any concerns that the members have in terms of functionality, value, rules, other members…

Identifying a community for your business is an essential step towards expanding the business presence and the reach of the brand. It’s an ongoing process and requires a significant time investment, but according to Dan Noyes; some key strategies that can organize and simplify the process are; determine who you want in the audience and how you can connect with themfocus on quality over quantity… determine where target audience is already engaged… prioritize and build, graduallycontinue to identify community opportunities as the business grows… Then, revise your strategies as needed… Identifying the community is an ongoing process that should be fully integrated in the overall business efforts…

According to Cecilia Edwards and Rob Howard; don’t pour resources into creating a community without defining the business objectives that you want it to accomplish… Successful communities are those that accomplish their objectives and, in addition, the members of successful communities also accomplish their objectives, as well… World-class communities use the information exchanged to improve their products, services… and transform the way that they’re doing business…

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Out of Touch– Symptom of a Business Losing Real-World Relevance: It Can Make or Break a Company

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Out of Touch: Failure of management to avert business crisis reflects a serious problem that cannot simply be swept under the carpet… It’s a symptom of being ‘out of touch’ with fundamental business issues that can make or break a company… There is a disconnect between the world inhabited by management, on the one hand, and the real world of customers, suppliers, employees, and society at large… Whether it’s intentionally or not, the facts is there are several layers of separation between management, and where the action occurs with customers, employees… There are two main reasons why management can be far out of touch; hubris or omniscience. Simply, they don’t value other people’s opinions and inputs highly enough, or they don’t have the means in place to get it…

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According to Mark Holmes; immunization from honest dissonance leads to dangerously myopic, endogenous decision-makingThe organization’s sacred cows live on as leaders control the business from a mink-lined rut.  Its imperative that all leaders get out of their fancy offices, get involved, get their hands dirty… at least once in a while, if they expect to grasp reality… In fact, a degree of success can breed complacency: You grow confident in your creative process and start cruising along in the comfort zone… It feels safe, but this is how you can become insulated and out of touch. Your performance dips and ideas start to lose real-world relevance…

If this sounds like you, it could be time for you to reconnect with your audience; end-users, customers… more than that, you must step into their shoes and gain insight into their needs, for example; according to Dr. Christian Jarrett; you should visit online communities that are frequented by your customers and see the kind of issues they raise… Use social media to connect directly with customers and get a feel for them and their needs… Mingle discreetly with your audience… Connect with your customers and assume their perspective, then you will not only gain practical insights, but you will also inject the business with– meaning, purpose…

According to Zain Wadee; business must reassess their engagement and communication strategies; failure to do so could alienate a whole range of stakeholders – including; current and potential customers, future customers, and most importantly, employees… Yes, relationships with customers and employees changes over time, as companies grow and formal processes are put into place. However, when companies loses touch with important stakeholders; customers, employees… inevitably, they lose business and the company begins to decline…

In the article Signs You’re Out of Touch With Your Audience by Steve Cody  writes: Are you relevant? (Are you sure?) It seems the more market intelligence top executives possess, the less in touch they are with their target audiences. And, the less in touch they are, the more likely they are to lose business, especially nowadays when loyalty is hard to find… Countless CEOs, CMOs, and other members of C-suite are concerned about the same thing: Remaining relevant to their audiences’ wants and needs. Yet many continue to be out of touch with those very same audiences and inadvertently do things that, instead, alienate or antagonize customers… Here are five sure signs that you, or your organization, may be out of touch with the people or businesses that are buying your product or service:

  • Surprise Attack: One of the worst things that can happen is to launch the newest generation of a product or service and tout it as the next great thing, only to discover that audiences hated the original version… Being more in tune with customer’s feelings can avoid this huge disconnect…
  • One Degree of Separation: Is your organization siloed? If so, it’s not unique. Many companies completely separate customer service from marketing, marketing from R&D, R&D from sales. The result is a business version of ‘Tower of Babel’… When management doesn’t take the time to listen to customers, and much less what other people in the company already know, then you have a disaster on your hands..
  • Get out from Behind the Desk: Not too long ago, we surveyed 75 chief marketing officers of medium and large-sized organizations. We asked them a simple question: Have you ever put yourself in your customer’s shoes and experienced your brand from the outside in? A startling 75% had not… The very best executives find time to experience their organization’s brand from the outside in. They don’t rely solely on market research or assume they already know all they need to know about their customers…
  • It’s the Policy, Stupid: Often, the folks in sales know what product attributes sell but are told by management to push other features. Or the marketing department, painfully aware of the organization’s rapidly aging target demographic, wants to appeal to millennial instead. Sadly, they’re ordered to just keep doing what they’ve been doing. These folks know the problem. They see it. But, they don’t have the authority to fix it. In effect, they’re told; ‘sorry, that’s not your job’…
  • Tell your Statistics to Shut Up: A recent survey of 1,700 chief marketing officers showed the No. 1 challenge they face is managing, interpreting and using the immense amounts of data pushed their way… You must find ways to connect fully with the people who buy your products and services. Redouble your efforts to find out how they feel, and what it really means to do business with your company…

In the article Are CEOs Out of Touch? by Bruce Nussbaum writes: Many CEOs spend weekends playing golf, and getting business information on the golf course. They spend much of their day at internal meetings, getting information from their managers. They get advice from their board members who are even more out of touch. So, most CEOs are probably having the wrong conversations about the wrong things with the wrong people… The good news is that a growing number of CEOs and managers know they are out of touch and are hungry to plug into the right conversations. Think about all this for a moment: Some of the greatest opportunities in business will be to provide ‘C’ suite management with the right connections to the right conversations with the right information. Or perhaps, just aggregating information and feeding it directly to the top execs… Hmmmm. If CEOs are so out touch, are they also so overpaid?

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In the article Out of Touch – Out of Influence by Kathy McAfee writes: I read some scary business statistics that said with every month that you are not communicating, you lose 10% of your ‘influence’. At this rate, it doesn’t take too long to drain what ever influence you possess to zero… Most people work hard to plant seeds of opportunity, whether it’s for business development or new job opportunities. Yet your follow-up is where you trip-up, and as a result you let the opportunity (and influence) slip away. You’ve heard the expression; Out of sight, out of mind? Perhaps the same is true that when you go out of touch; you go out of influence… It’s one thing to understand that you need to follow-up frequently in order to maintain your relationships, it’s another challenge to actually do it. It seems like time is in short supply, everyone is super busy, there are many demands… But, truth be told, most of us are disorganized and undisciplined… So, how often should you stay in touch? Your goal must be to stay in touch frequently enough to have influence and visibility: Think of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears:

  • This one is too soft: You are out of touch, you don’t reach out, you are neglecting people… They start wondering if you are alive or if you simply don’t care enough about them to stay in touch;
  • This one is too hard: Your actions are too pushy, too much, you appear aggressive or worse yet, desperate or needy because you are constantly calling/emailing;
  • This one is just right: You use the appropriate amount of follow-up, demonstrating that you care about the relationship, you are organized and professional and that you have self-confidence in who you are.

In the article Businesses are Out of Touch with New Generation by David Woods writes:  A poll of 1,000 workers showed that nearly two-thirds (60%) of UK workers do not, or are unable to engage with their employer on social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn… A fifth (17%) say that their organization does not communicate via social media channels at all… The survey showed that the reputation of businesses is increasingly forged online, with more than half (51%) of UK employees saying that an active social media presence is important factor in determining organization’s overall reputation as an employer… Members of so-called ‘Gen-Y’ (i.e., 25-34 year old) draw the strongest link between corporate reputation and social media presence…

Over two-thirds (69%) of ‘Gen-Y’ employees think an active social media presence is important for organization’s reputation as an employer. A fifth (19%) of ‘Gen-Y’ers look at an organization’s Twitter feed to find out more about the organization they are applying to– compared to just 5% of 45-54 year old– and half (50%) follow their employer’s activity on social media channels… Separate research from the Adecco Group, showed that UK business is out of touch with the integration and importance of social media in the workplace… A poll of 1,500 workers and 500 employers showed that well over half (59%) of employers think that access to social media at work is impacting on productivity. Meanwhile, only a third (36%) of workers subscribe to this view…

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Managing is not a science; it’s a subtle and nuanced practice, learned mostly on the job, through paying close attention to gestures and tone of voice. This ‘soft information’ is an integral part of managing, and it’s gathered by; talking and listening in meetings, during chance encounters, talking on the phone… Using only words, i.e., sending a text message or an e-mail– takes away the nuance that comes from seeing and hearing people, from exchanging points of view and working toward agreements. Information technology can and should expand your range of communication, but it cannot be a substitute for interactions that build trust, share vision, enhance community…

According to Henry Mintzberg and Peter Todd; managers who are in touch only through their keyboard are out of touch with the vast world beyond it. They risk is substituting breadth for depth. Research shows that you may have more connections today, but fewer relationships… Managers who believe that they can learn about their business only through e-mail, text… and, who rarely walk down the hall, let alone get on an airplane– may find themselves out of touch. They may gather facts, but they may miss the meaning. And the increasing use of 140-character tweets to convey impressions of an organization or a person will likely result in an even greater loss of nuance…

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Business Jargon, Slang, Metaphors– People Talk Weird in Business: Often Annoying, Pretentious, Useless, Gobbledygook.

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Business jargon: People talk weird in the business world. Everyone keeps using silly words and phrases, like– ‘elephant in the room’, ‘soup to nuts’, ‘leverage’, ‘ballpark’… People talk this way because they think it describes perfectly what they mean… or, they don’t know any other way to describe it (and, possibly they are not sure what it really means), or they think it makes them sound smarter (but, they probably don’t know what it really means)… Business jargon, to say the least, can be quite confusing, even for the most fluent person… According to Alan Stevens; business jargon is tribal and reinforces belonging… It’s part of the psyche, but it’s not useful… The uses for a business metaphor are almost endless in the course of a business and its normal operations… Companies use metaphors to draw pictures in people’s minds and compare a complex or difficult-to-understand business concept or operation into an easily relatable belief or situation…

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According to Jonathan Guthrie; jargon is the epic poetry of modern business. It can turn a bunch of windbags in a meeting room into a ‘quick wins task-force’… According to some experts, business jargon masks the real meaning of an idea, issue, challenge… people use it as a substitute for thinking clearly about their goals and the direction that they want to give others… According to Richard Nordquis; the next time you feel need to; ‘ reach out’, ‘touch base’, ‘shift paradigm’, ‘leverage a best practice’ or ‘join a tiger team’… by all means do it: Just don’t say you’re doing it… If you have to ask why, chances are you’ve fallen under the poisonous spell of business jargon…

In the  article The Good, The Bad, and the Buzzy by Inc. staff writes:  Business jargon is a language unto itself and, over the years, some good– and not so good– buzzwords are part of the standard lexicon. Check out this list and find out if jargon like ‘authenticity’ and ‘core competency’ are here to stay, or if we’d rather not hear them used again:

  • Business Buzzwords We Don’t Want to Hear: ‘Actionable': A high-energy noun gone passive and flabby. ‘Authenticity': Has become its own antonym through overuse. Best of breed': Try not thinking of springer spaniels. ‘Brain dump': Why treat creativity like waste? ‘Co-opetition': You don’t need a frenemy (i.e., friend and enemy). ‘Disintermediate': Has the same number of syllables as ‘cut out the middleman’ with none of the clarity. ‘Incentivize': First, it’s not a word. Second, what’s wrong with motivate? ‘Mindshare’: Our psyches are not Florida condos. ‘Offline': Annoying in meetings (‘Let’s take this offline’). We’re already offline! We’re surrounded by human beings! ‘Outside the box': A cliché about not thinking in clichés. ‘Proactive': Ugly corporate-ese, but without a decent synonym. Anyone? ‘Repurpose': You are recycling. Just say so. ‘Solution': A shame, what has happened to this word. ‘Synergy': This bastard child of synthesis and energy is godfather to every enigmatically named tech company. ‘Value-add': Devalues the concept of value. Talk shouldn’t be quite this cheap…
  • Business Buzzwords We Like: ‘Angel': What better metaphor for the answer to an entrepreneur’s prayers? ‘Bandwidth': The rare tech term that translates to human beings. ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goal': Humor makes the phrase memorable; hyperbole makes it motivational. ‘Core competency': Ruthlessly focuses the leader’s mind. ‘Cube farm': Truthful but whimsical. ‘Elevator pitch': A business drama in miniature. ‘Empower': A little treacly, but also clear and authoritative. ‘Frictionless': Great image for how processes should work. ‘Just in time': Suggests not just efficiency but salvation. ‘Killer app': Succinct, clear, intimidating. ‘Knowledge worker': Judges employees not by the color of their collars but by the content of their brains. ‘Learning organization': Celebrates both continuous improvement and humility. ‘Management by walking around': Humble yet vivid. ‘Push the envelope': A cliché we like. Must be the ‘right stuff’ association. ‘Stickiness': Perfectly describes content that compels users to return…

In the article Trying to Shove a Square Peg in A Round Hole by Eden Sunshine writes: Sometimes it just doesn’t fit, e.g.: Sometimes an employee just doesn’t fit, it happens. Occasionally you hire the wrong person. It could stem from several things. It might be a result of not knowing ‘right type’ of person you are looking for in the business. You know what I mean by ‘right type'; someone who fits the culture and personality for the business. It could also be from a faulty hiring process itself… Either way you ended up with wrong person; despite all the efforts to mentor and guide that person to fit the culture of the business. Sometimes they just don’t fit: Let’s stop trying to shove a ’round peg in a square hole’

Sometimes customers just don’t fit… they can be wrong customers. Hard to imagine but it happens too. This condition could stem from a variety of reasons; it could be the marketing message… Sometimes it’s the conversion process (let’s face it, occasionally a sales person over promises).  Sometimes a business try to get some customers to conform to the way the company does business… In other words, trying to get customers to do it the company way versus look at the nature and needs of the customer, and deliver a service or product congruent with how they want it… But the fact is, often you try to shove the customer in a ‘square hole’ when perhaps you need to look more carefully at your services and be willing to become a ’round hole’ instead…

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In the article Why Being A Square Peg is Your Greatest Asset by Cory Huff writes: Do you sometimes feel like, ‘square peg in a round hole’? Do you feel like a ‘square peg’, fighting a never-ending battle against the systems that strain to hammer and bash you kicking into that ’round hole’? Well the good news is that the creative force that has always driven you to take the road less traveled, or the road strewn with potholes and cowpats as it seems sometimes is a ‘powerful force’ that can help you blossom and be successfully… Here’s the great news: ‘Square pegs’ make excellent creative people! The creative personality traits that you were told were bad, difficult or unrealistic, in the past, are the exact same ones that make you brilliant…

How cracking is that? So, at school or work if you ever got into hot water for: Daydreaming and letting your mind wander. Questioning authority. Not accepting things the way they are and questioning the status quo. Just being a little bit different. Having a burning and driving need to create what other people just don’t seem to have… So believe it; creative people are ‘square pegs’… Creativity is one of the most important ingredients for business success and ‘square peg’ people have it in bucket loads…

In the article Square Pegs, Round Holes by Gordon Tredgold writes: As leaders, one of the things you are often asked to do, is to find a way to get a ‘square peg into a round hole’… While not impossible, it’s usually not good for either ‘pegs’ or ‘holes’, since it requires some degree of force to bring them together, which can damage one or the other, often both… When faced with this type of challenges you must understand what is more important; ‘peg’ or ‘hole’… Which ever the case, when you are trying to bring the two together– you must first think smarter, and not just work harder to force the fit…

Use care when speaking business jargon: Don’t go overboard! Business jargon is overused, and it’s used (and misused) to try to impress others, especially when people don’t fully understand the situation… So, it’s best to: 1.) understand the jargon commonly used around you, 2.) learn to use business and Internet jargon words and phrases properly, but 3.) don’t overuse jargon, it can turn people off…  It can be embarrassing if people use jargon they don’t understand… 

Research from New York University and University of Basel in Switzerland showed that when you want people to trust you, then you must use plain language — not a bunch of business buzz words… The research found that most people are more inclined to think that statements are more truthful when they are written or spoken using ‘real’ language, rather than abstract phrases…  So if want to make sure you are connecting with your customers, throw out the jargon and get down to basic clear language…

According to Susan Wilson Solovic; I think most of us use certain buzz phrases on occasion, but if you want to improve customer relationships or to improve sales efforts, start paying attention to the language you use, and decide what jargon is counter productive… So before you make your next presentation, or write a proposal, or add content to your website; stop and remember the impact of your word choices! Business needs clarity in  communications and it must be perceived as being trustworthy– just keep your language simple and clear… According to Steve Tobak; if I had to write one wildly popular business article,  just one, it would have to be about the horrors of business jargon.

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But, for some reason, it makes people crazy. But here’s the thing, phrases like ‘paradigm shift’, ‘outside the box’… are overused and abused to the point where if you utter them today you’ll likely get lynched by coworkers. Nevertheless, labeling business jargon as ‘annoying, pretentious and useless’ — simply because they are effective is something that I find, well; ‘annoying, pretentious and useless’. Some experts say;  business jargon masks the real meaning of an issue… Sure, some people abuse jargon, but most people use it because it means exactly what they want to say…

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Subtle Shifts in Business, Leadership, Management, Organization, Strategy, Innovation– Bring Big Results…