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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Strategic Inflection Points– Events That Changes the Way You Think, Act: Why Some Companies Grow and Others Decline…

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Strategic Inflection Point ‘inflection’ means a bend or change in the course or direction of something… ‘point’ means a place or position where a curve changes direction from convex to concave, or vice versa… However, in reality the word ‘point’ is really a misnomer; it’s actually more of a long, sometimes painful, extended period of change… And, the management ‘trick’ (or skill) is to recognize when you are approaching an inflection point or when it’s just a normal variation, and adjust accordingly… The concept was originated by Andrew Grove who described it as– an event that changes the way we think and act… According to Grove; there is at least one point in the history of any company when it must change, dramatically, to rise to the next level of performance: Miss that ‘point’ and it starts to decline…

Strategic inflection points  can occur suddenly or more subtle, in the form of sustained, steady growth that increasingly weighs down on existing infrastructure and staff… It occurs when the old strategic picture dissolves (cease to be valid) and gives way to new directions.  Regardless of the catalyst, growth eventually forces management to acknowledge that the next phase of their business cycle will be very different from the previous phases. If the management team fails to implement the changes needed to accommodate ever-rising levels of complexity in their business, than sudden growth morphs into a sudden crisis…

point thO9I5KUP1Strategic inflection points happen to business when a major change takes place in its competitive environment: A major change due to new technologies, or major change due to a different regulatory environment, or it can be simply a change in how customers’ see value, preferences… But whatever the cause a fundamental change in strategy of the business is required, nothing less is sufficient… The biggest difficulty with strategic inflection points is to distinguish it from the many changes that impinge on a business: How do you know if a change is garden variety or monumental, catastrophic change? An empirical observation made by companies that deal with it is that there is a growing divergence, a dissonance, between their existing strategy and the execution of their strategy…

According to Andy Grove; strategic inflection points can be caused by technological change, but they are more than technological change. They can be caused by competitors, but they are more than just competition. They are full-scale changes in ways business is conducted, so that simply adopting new technology or fighting the competition as you used to may be insufficient. They build up force so insidiously that you may have a hard time even putting a finger on what has changed, yet you know that something has. Let’s not mince words: A strategic inflection point can be deadly when unattended to. Companies that begin a decline as a result of its changes rarely recover their previous greatness… According to Joe Evans; strategic inflection point is when, over time, key customer relationships, business models, primary markets… go through major transitions. What was once a great business engine can grow less viable over time because it has become outdated or ineffective due to market shifts or new developments in the industry’s business environmental conditions…

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In the article Reasons Great Companies Stop Growing by Christine Comaford writes: When companies grow, they come to certain places where the things that used to work, the things that created that level of success, don’t work anymore. We call these inflection points: At each ‘point’ you have a whole new company… At each ‘point’ a company must reinvent itself in order to move through it. If it does not, it becomes ‘stuck’ and ultimately declines into parabolic upside-down curve, rather than an undulation growth mode… The key is to avoid organizational ‘stuck spots’– the spots of stasis usually found between inflection points where the company stops growing and swirls around at approximately the same level of revenues before sliding precipitously backward… The world is full of ‘living dead’ companies that reached an inflection point and cannot grow to the next one. Remember: You either moving forward or moving back– stasis is not sustainable…

In the article Only the Paranoid Survive – Social Business Inflection Point by Chip Roberson writes: A strategic inflection point is a time in the life of business when its fundamentals are about to change. That change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights, or it may just as likely signal of the beginning of the endWhen a company is at an inflection point it has two options; rise to ‘new heights’ or slide down a path of ‘decline’. Too many businesses still look at ‘social media’ as primarily a technological challenge: It’s not! It’s a force that requires a company to respond by adapting its culture, policies, practices… Social media are reshaping your business whether you like it or not… According to Andrew S. Grove; the ability to recognize that the winds have shifted and to take appropriate action before you wreck your boat is crucial to the future of your enterprise. Most companies don’t die because they do wrong; most die because they don’t commit themselves. They fritter away their valuable resources while attempting to make a decision. The greatest danger is in just standing still… 

In the article Strategic Inflection Point by Brad Squires writes: Think of a strategic inflection point as the ‘point’ at which a trend or curve changes direction from positive to negative or negative to positive. In hindsight, strategic inflection points are easy to spot, and the course of action is clear, but in real-time moments, it’s difficult to know if you are looking at a fundamental change in the direction of the curve, or whether it’s just a hiccup soon to go away… So here is the tricky part: How do you spot an inflection point? How do you know when a ‘change in movement of a trend line’ is an inflection point or just another anomaly? Although there are no crystal balls, there are some indicators-events that are triggers for a strategic inflection point… These are fundamental changes in industries that can cause it to do business differently, for example; new technology, new process, new behavior, new frame of reference, new rules or regulatory environment... In reality the signs are very simple, they track the winds of change… maintaining super vigilance over all aspects of the business, markets, competition… while being a little paranoid…

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According to Greg; we all follow trends, they are a sign of the times… but, what’s really interesting are the inflection points, when trends switch directions. Trends are nice, mostly because they are easy to follow, but the  problem is that everybody else is following them as well, and that makes it difficult to gain a competitive advantage… Change is an opportunity to make course corrections, update, modify, and it can invigorate and inspire… But then there are changes that are so all-encompassing that the external industry landscape shifts to the extent that nothing less than a fundamental revision of business strategy is necessary… Economic shifts coupled with the aggressive pace of technology advancement have forever altered the way business communicate with markets… In fact, many ‘markets’ have morphed into actual individuals, defying categorization and capable of responding quickly and directly to reach multitudes of like-minded consumers… While the point itself may be static, it’s not a place you can afford to remain for any length of time. Recognition of the enormity of the change may be slow to emerge, but the response must be deliberate and well-focused… Old narratives and company stories, must be abandoned in favor of key messages and strategies that resonate within the new paradigm…

According to Steve Bauer; the lesson is (or should be) clear – sooner or later, change (business, technological, financial… ) is going to affect every company… If you manage a business you must plan for change despite the fact that no amount of education, research or analysis can accurately anticipate what those changes will be– no one can predict the future… the best you can do is size up your chances, calculate the risks involved, estimate your ability to deal with things, and then make plans with some level of confidence. One might argue that change is something that all companies must deal with– that is nothing new; but, the thing that is drastically different in recent years is its ‘pace’… The adage– ‘change is not an option’, is as valid today as it was a decade ago…

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Industries are littered with companies that fail to recognize an inflection point, or fail to take prompt action that will safeguard the company’s survival… most often companies are often blind sighted by it… the reality is that the best companies are forever paranoid and are continuously innovating to keep themselves ahead of the curve… However, many companies are unable to keep in tune with the fast changing market landscapes and are falling by the wayside losing their market share quickly… Strategically, inflection points occurs when an old strategic picture dissolves, and gives way to the new, allowing a business to soar to new heights…

Unfortunately, from the inside, it’s not always evident, at point in time, that there are major changes, but rather it’s a long period of extreme unrest… Typically, corporate strategy and operational actions are not always aligned, and ideas about the right direction splits many of the people on the same team… In workplaces that usually operate with civility, can often turn on each other and a holy wars erupt: Chaos reigns… Getting through strategic inflection point requires an enduring period of confusion, experimentation, chaos… followed by a period of single-minded determination to pursue a new direction towards an initially nebulous goal: It’s one of the most daunting tasks organization must endure…

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ISIS– Largest, Richest $2Billion Terror-Based Enterprise: Financial Sophistication Rivaling Wall Street

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ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ) is the world’s largest, richest terrorist organizations, ever. It’s a self-sustaining enterprise that runs mainly on extortion and crime networks, hostages, oil, donations… According to Martin Chulov; ISIS has grown from a ragtag band of extremists to perhaps the most cash-rich and capable terror group in the world with a $2 billion jihadist network. The scale of ISIS resources is unprecedented:  A terrorist organization while ruthless, but still able to occupy large areas of territory, quickly… for example; it controls several major cities in Iraq, which it occupied in just three days, it holds parts of several other cities and continues to menace still other cities throughout Iraq and Syria: It’s quite an accomplishment…  According to Michael Knights; some estimates of ISIS’s wealth are overstated, for example; the $2 billion estimate that’s been floating around is too high, but that’s not to say ISIS isn’t raking in a fair amount of cash– between $2 million and $4 million per day… ISIS is a wealthy terrorist movement or better yet an effective financial enterprise, which it run very much like a large-scale Mafia type protection rackets business across much of Iraq

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This group has fashioned a small army out of a mix of foreign and local fighters, established oil refining and trafficking operations, and even collects taxes…. Despite longstanding rumors that ISIS has foreign patrons in Gulf States such as; Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, there is little evidence that it ever depended on foreign largess… While there may be some foreign money flowing to ISIS, stopping these transnational flows will not stymie the group. Whatever its international influences, ISIS raises most of its money from the territories it feeds off of, making the problem of beating back the group exceedingly difficult… According to Howard J. Shatz; ISIS raises much of its money just as a well-organized criminal gang would: It smuggles, it extorts, it skims, it fences, it kidnaps and it shakes down. Although supposedly religiously inspired, its actions are more like those of an organized criminal cult… To quote  a U.S. mobster; you don’t get ahead just by being thugs but at some point you must also learn to be a racketeer as well…

ISIS’ most important revenue source is the smuggling of oil from the oil fields it controls in Syria and Iraq. It has been reported to control about a dozen oil fields along with several refineries. Estimates of revenue vary, but a range of $1 million to more than $2 million a day is reasonable… ISIS is a formidable fund-raiser. To its disadvantage, the group is also a formidable spender. It pays regular salaries to members based on family size and even has promised to maintain those payments if the member is killed or captured… It also pays rent for some members and medical expenses, maintains safe-houses and buys weapons and other equipment. As cash-based organization, it also has to guard against internal corruption, which is documented in the group’s own records… Historically, ISIS’ main outside revenue has come in small donations from local and foreign supporters… And while donations from the Gulf countries may have been welcome additions, neutralizing donations from wealthy Gulf sources will have little effect on their activities…

In the article Who finances ISIS? by Andreas Becker writes: ISIS is recognized as the richest terrorist organization in the world, ever… Iraqi officials estimate that the group now has about $2 billion in its war chest. What remains controversial is where bulk of its money comes from… Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government accuses Saudi Arabia of supporting the ISIS jihadis… According to Charles Lister; there is no publicly accessible proof that governments of any state has been involved in the creation or financing of ISIS as an organisation… Others take a different view. According to Günter Meyer; the most important source of ISIS financing to date has been support coming out of the Gulf states, primarily Saudi Arabia but also Qatar, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates… Additional key financing sources are the oil fields of northern Syria: ISIS was able to get the oil fields under their control, where they use trucks to bring oil across the border into Turkey– oil is an important source of funding for them…

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According to Charles Lister; ISIS is largely able to fund itself, and it has established local networks in their occupied territories that generate a continuing flow of money, for example; systematic extortion of small businesses as well as large companies, such as; construction firms… and if the rumors are true, even local government representatives… Also, it levies taxes in the areas that it fully controls…  However, one of ISIS’ biggest financial coup so far was the looting of the central bank in Mosul, which brought them equivalent of about $429 million in cash. Additional banks in Mosul and other areas under ISIS control were also plundered… With $429 million, ISIS could pay 60,000 fighters $600 a month for a whole year… Also, ISIS fighters looted much equipment that U.S. left for Iraq military, like; weapons, vehicles… Also, with their financial power, it’s relatively easy for ISIS to buy high-quality weapons on international armaments markets…

In the article Iraq Interrogation Reveals ISIS Has $2 Billion in Financing by Cathy Burke writes: The interrogation of a trusted messenger for ISIS, led Iraqi commanders to a treasure trove of information on the terror group and its staggering $2 billion in finances… According to officials; before Mosul, ISIS’ total cash and assets was about $875 million, then afterwards, with the money they robbed from banks and the value of the military supplies they looted, its estimated that they added another $1.5 billion to that… In less than three years, the extremists morphed from a ragtag band of militants into the most cash-rich terror group in the world, and they are accomplishing these feats all by  themselves– these are very industrious people… According to some intelligence officials; there are no state actors behind ISIS– they just don’t need one…

In the article Who’s Funding ISIS? by Robert Windrem writes: There is a small but steady flow of money to ISIS from rich ‘individuals’ in the Gulf with Qataris being the biggest suppliers, according to some U.S. officials… According to one expert; these rich individuals serve as ‘angel investors’ for the most violent militants, providing ‘seed money’ that helped launch ISIS and other jihadi groups… These rich Arabs are like what ‘angel investors’ are to high-tech start-ups, except they are interested in starting up groups who want to stir up hatred: Groups like al-Nusrah and ISIS are better investments for them. The individuals act as high rollers early, providing seed money. Once the groups are on their feet, they are perfectly capable of raising funds through other means, like; kidnapping, oil smuggling, selling women into slavery… According to intelligence official; any outside funding represents a small fraction of ISIS’s total annual income… The largest source of cash now is oil smuggling along the Turkish border, with ISIS leaders willing to sell oil for as little as $25 a barrel, a quarter of the going world price. Since other previously lucrative sources, such as; kidnapping for ransom… is not as profitable as it once was.

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In the article Islamic State: Where Does Jihadist Get Its Support? by Michael Stephens writes: Much has been written about the support Islamic State (ISIS) has received from donors and sympathizers, particularly in the wealthy Gulf States… Indeed the accusation I hear most from those fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria is that Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are solely responsible for the group’s existence. But the truth is more complex and needs exploring… It’s true that some wealthy individuals from the Gulf have funded extremist groups in Syria, many taking bags of cash to Turkey and simply handing over millions of dollars at a time… This was very common practice in 2012 and 2013 but has since diminished and is at most only a tiny percentage of the total income that flows into Islamic State coffers in 2014.

Islamic State (ISIS) has put in place what appear to be beginnings of quasi-state structures – ministries, law courts, even a rudimentary taxation system… ISIS has displayed a consistent pattern since it first began to take territory in early 2013… Upon taking control of a town it quickly secures the water, flour and hydrocarbon resources of the area, centralizing distribution and thereby making local population dependent on it for survival… To understand how the Islamic State economy functions is to delve into a murky world of middlemen and shady business dealings, in which ‘loyal ideologues’ on differing sides spot business opportunities and pounce upon them… ISIS exports about 9,000 barrels of oil per day at prices ranging from about $25-$45 (£15-£27): It’s a traditional war economy… The point is that ISIS is essentially self-financing; it cannot be isolated and cut off from the world because it’s intimately tied into regional stability in a way that benefits not only itself, but also the people it controls…

In the article Where ISIS Makes Its Money by Tyler Durden writes: ISIS uses oil wealth to help finance its terror operations. Here’s how they do it… According to ‘Iraq Energy Institute'; the army of radical Islamists controls production of 30,000 barrels of oil a day in Iraq and 50,000 barrels in SyriaBy selling the oil on the black market at a discounted price of $40 per barrel (compared to about $93/ barrel in free markets), ISIS takes in $3.2 million/day… According to James Phillips; oil revenue gives ISIS a solid economic base that sustains its continued expansion… The oil revenue, which amounts to nearly $100 million/month, allows ISIS to fund its military, terrorist attacksand attract recruits from around the world… To be successful in counter-terrorism efforts, Phillips said; U.S. and its allies must push the Islamic State out of the oil fields it has captured and disrupt its ability to smuggle the oil to foreign markets…

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Here’s how Phillips said the ISIS oil operation works: ISIS sells oil to consumers in territory it controls, roughly the size of Maryland, inside Syria and Iraq. The terrorist group also sells oil to network of smugglers that developed in the 1990s during Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s rule; that network smuggled oil out of Iraq to Turkey to avoid sanctions imposed by the UN. ISIS also reportedly sells oil, through middlemen, to Assad regime… When it comes to making a fast buck, the Middle East has no shortage of ‘strange bedfellows’ willing to do business with each other…

The growth of ISIS has been quite incredible: They are armed with– modern weapons, large fighting army, and an effective organization. All of which is bought and paid with real money supplied through a highly sophisticated funding strategy… According to Senator Rubio; ISIS’s criminal activities– robbery, extortion, and trafficking– have helped them become the best funded terrorist group in history. The wealth has helped expand their operational capacity and incentivized both local and foreign fighters to join them… ISIS has the resources, weaponry, and operational safe havens to continue to threaten the stability of the region, as well as;  U.S., Europe, other nations’ national security interests…

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First Mover or Fast Follower: What is Right Business Strategy? Think Hard About; Pros-Cons of Being– First, Fast, Late…

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Some management concepts have such intuitive appeal that their validity is almost taken for granted; ‘first mover advantage‘ is one such concept… Business executives from most companies maintain, and many without exception, that early entry into a new industry or product category gives a firm an almost insuperable head start… But for every academic study proving that ‘first mover advantages’ exist, there is a study proving they does not… Many business people believe that being the ‘first mover’ or ‘first-to-market’ is the key to success… however, according to a study cited in Harvard Business Review, 47% of first-movers fail…

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Innovation is usually equated to being ‘first’– first to market, first to offer a product, first to employ a process… However, it might just be that the best innovation strategy is to spot the great ideas of others and rapidly replicate and improve them…  According to Ruud Gal; as a generic statement one cannot say what is better; ‘being first’ or ‘being a fast follower’… There are many parameters that influence the decision, e.g.: value proposition, business model, barrier to entry, culture change… so, it basically becomes an individual company decision or reality…

Although being first mover can create an overwhelming advantage, in many cases the products, services… that are first to market often do not succeed. They become victims of ‘first mover disadvantages’. Much of the problem with the concept of first mover advantage is that they may be hard to define, e.g.; should a first mover advantage apply to just firms entering an existing market with technological discontinuity or should it solely be new markets? The definition vagueness has certainly named undeserving firms as pioneers in certain industries, and that has led to some debate over the real meaning of the concept of first mover advantage…

First movers are not always able to benefit from being first. Although firms that first enter a market with a new product, service… can often gain substantial market share due to lack of competition… Whereas, a second mover or fast follower advantage occurs when a firm that follows the first-mover is actually able to capture greater market share despite having entered later… According to McGee; the image of ‘fast follower’ is intended to evoke a NASCAR driver drafting behind the leader, carefully waiting for the right moment to streak past and across the finish line. It’s deeply rooted in a notion that strategic success is a function of execution…

Many Asian companies are fast followers; they don’t aim to be technology leaders, nor are they trying to come up with radically different new products… but rather, their strategy is to watch the market closely, tracking the market leaders, and being ready to quickly adjust and match demands, once a new concept has proven its potential in the market… Logic suggests that the greatest benefit comes from letting others lead so that they discover the pitfalls and incur the costs of adjusting strategy… According to Steve Blank; you don’t always want to be the first mover. In fact, you typically want to be the first fast follower… there are the old adages; ‘learn from those before you!’ or, ‘never invent, spot the trend, then do it better!’ or, ‘invent, trademark, sit on it for 3 years!’…

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In the article First Mover or Fast Follower? by Jacob Morgan writes: Today technology is evolving at ever rapid pace and an organization needs to ask itself a very important question: Is it worth investing in new technologies to stay on the bleeding edge, or is it better to wait for other companies to deploy these technologies, and instead be a fast follower? Often times you hear people talking about the ‘first mover advantage’, meaning if you get there first you ‘win’. Organizations that follow closely behind the ‘first movers’ are the ‘fast followers’… So maybe the question should be: Is it better to be ‘first mover’ or ‘fast follower’? However, this is not necessarily an issue of a better or worse option, since there are many examples that support both… and not to sound cliché, but each individual organization will largely dictate the specific approach that works best for it…

The first mover has the opportunity to define and own a market but also has the greatest risk of failure… The fast follower can observe the first mover and get a better understanding of what works and what does not… but also it has a risk of not being able to move fast enough or smart enough to overcome the advantages of the first mover… According to Strategyn; most markets have a first mover advantage… being first to market means that the company has the infrastructure to capitalize before others. However, there are many examples where the first mover did not ultimately win, but rather a later player took advantage of the pioneer’s trailblazing… 

In the article Why Fast Followers Beat First Movers by Don Dodge writes: Innovation drives many industries; it attracts– the best talent, attracts investment, wins fame for its leaders… and when innovation leaders burst onto the scene, they often win early market leadership, but sometimes they cannot sustain the pace… and, that’s when a ‘fast follower’ can often jump-in and takes over a leadership role… So, why can’t the initial innovation leader-first movers sustain their success, where do they go wrong? Is it because these early innovators-first movers are mostly led by technical visionaries who lack the appropriate management and business skills to succeed, or is it something else? Also, it’s not unusual that a fast follower suffers the same fate as the initial first movers, and they too are overtaken by a new fast follower…

However, it’s just possible that we all over-estimate the abilities of the first-movers and under-estimate the abilities of the fast-followers… Studies have shown that most fast followers are, in fact, leaders in disguise; they are visionaries, they have excellent management skills, they continue to innovate beyond the original idea… they have realistic balance between business and technical… they have the keys for sustained market leadership… So if there are lessons to be learned they are; never stop innovating; build a well-rounded management team early; value sales and marketing talent as much as technical talent; react quickly to disruptive technologies or business models; don’t be too proud to imitate when it makes sense…

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In the article Better Growth Decisions: Early Mover, Fast Follower or Late Follower? by Stephen Wunker writes: For companies seeking ways to fuel growth by capturing new markets, there is a pressing need to think hard about when it’s wise to be an– early mover, fast follower or late follower… Each of these options requires a different competitive strategy, and many authorities have argued the merits and drawbacks of  a ‘first mover advantage’… In practice, however,   knowing which firm is the very first in a market is often debatable, and, in many cases, can be irrelevant. A wiser approach is to observe how an early first-mover advantage might cement leadership in certain markets… then consider what approach and industry circumstance may allow fast followers and late followers intercede and triumph. When is a first-mover advantage real?  The answer is simply ‘know’. When a business is assessing its strategic options, it should first ‘know’ and understand their industry; ‘know’ what customers are really buying; ‘know’ the competition? Once a company ‘knows’ their business, it can easily determine its advantages and drawbacks and develop an appropriate strategy, as either; first mover or fast follower…

We hear a lot about first-mover advantage, which is a notion that the first occupier in a specific market segment has a significant competitive advantage. But, some experts argue that the second-mover advantage or fast follower can be even greater. The Financial Times ran a story declaring that being first-mover is not always a surefire path to success– in fact, often times the ‘fast follower’ will eclipse the first-mover… As FT explains; the so-called ‘fast follower’ have advantage of being able to use the pioneers’ experiences to learn about their– consumer tastes, design and manufacturing techniques, potential size of a market, marketing and sales strategies… They can also learn from their mistakes. According to Brad Feld; when I think about first mover, I don’t think of being a broad ‘market’  first mover, but rather a ‘category’ or ‘segment’ first mover, for example; Google? Not the first search engine. Facebook? Not the first social network. Groupon? Not the first deal site. Pandora? Not the first music site. The list goes on…

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An overarching question is whether corporate innovators need to heighten their risk profile; being first on markets can be risky and the rewards can be hard to reap, but on the other hand many might find that they have no choice… according to experts; if business want to enjoy sustainable success then it must be first… But, being a first mover doesn’t just necessarily mean– being the first with a new idea… but it can also mean being first in execution, value… do more faster According to Simon Wardley; a novel and new innovation clearly offers the opportunity to create many benefits, but so too does providing an improved version of something that already exists. In the first case, benefits comes from a differential advantage– something the competitors don’t have yet. In the second, the benefit comes from your advantage– competitors provide the same item or activity but you provide– more efficiently, lower cost, better performance… In general, unless intellectual property rights interfere, most experts suggest that it’s better to let someone else blaze a new trail, then you move quickly into their market space and establish your advantage... However, regardless of their specific strategy– all companies must be nimble, fast-moving and bold…

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Make a Great Speech– Electrify Your Audience, Make It Memorable: Great Speech– Persuade, Inspire, Inform…

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What makes a great speech? Some people would prefer to dive over a cliff than make a speech. They conjure up all kinds of nightmare scenarios as a result of their stage fright: What if I freeze? What if the audience hates me? And yet, by learning a few public speaking strategies and techniques used by professional speakers– who are very often the most scared of all– you can not only conquer nerves and fear, but you can also make a powerful impression and within seconds, actually start to enjoy the experience… Ancient literature is full of advice to would-be orators dealing with everything from how to move your hands, when to make a joke, to the rhythms, cadences and structures of effective oratory… According to David McCloud; great speeches are primarily emotional, not logical. Small shifts in tone and phrasing make an enormous difference to the audience, so sweat the details; great speech has clear voice speaking throughout; great speech conveys only one idea, although it has many supporting points. And most of all, great speech answers a great need…

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The five secrets for a great speech are:  • Great speeches are primarily emotional, not logical • Small shifts in tone make an enormous difference to the audience, so sweat the details • A great speech has a clear voice speaking throughout • A great speech conveys one idea only, although it has many supporting points • A great speech answers a great need… According to drjim; most people will never have the opportunity to move the hearts and minds of billions of people like Gandhi did. We also may never have an opportunity to rally a nation to a single purpose (voyage to the moon) like John F. Kennedy did. However, as a speaker you have an obligation to try to connect with the audiences like they did…

In the article Electrify Your Audience with a Shocking Speech Opening by Andrew Dluganw writes: A strong speech opening is critical to grab the attention of the audience, for example; suppose you were delivering a speech to raise awareness in your community about school security: How would you open your speech? Consider that you might begin with the statement: I’m going to talk to you today about security in our schools… or, School security is an important issue that we must deal with… Both openings are direct, to-the-point, and boring! Whereas, great speakers know how to open a speech in a way that hooks the audience into the presentation immediately…

A strong ‘opening’ is one of the essential skills for public speakers. There are many ways to do this, including; the use of– drama and misdirection… Imagine opening your speech with the following lines: ‘Tobacco. [long pause] Alcohol. [long pause] Guns. [long pause], these are Criminal items seized in a search [slight pause] of a 6th grade locker in our school districtIn this example you are adding drama and surprise to grab the audience early– you begin with a strong, opening and keep going… Opening a speech with strong statement generates interest for several reasons:

  • Employs a classical technique: Rule of Three.
  • Seized in a search of a sixth: Uses alliteration.
  • Pauses after the three opening words: Adds drama.
  • Drama is also created because the danger increases with each item (i.e. guns, alcohol, tobacco…)
  • Mid-sentence pause after ‘search’ signals an important statement that’s coming up.
  • Audience may think these items were seized from some outside criminal element, but then surprised to learn they were found in your school locker.

How to Open Speech or Presentation: There are a number of  effective ways to open a speech or presentation.  Here are four:

  • Quote: Name a topic, any topic; and more often than not there is a great quote or saying that suits the subject matter perfectly…
  • ‘What If’ Scenario – Drawing the audience into your presentation is important and doing it immediately works wonders. Getting the audience thinking right away by painting a ‘scenario’ is very effective…
  • ‘Imagine’ Scenario: Putting audience members directly into the presentation by allowing each member to ‘visualize a scenario’ is a great tool…
  • Question: Rhetorical or literal; When someone is posed with a question, whether an answer is called for or not, that person intuitively answers, even it’s only in their mind; and now that person is involved…

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In the article How to Give a Good Speech by Paul Shoebottom writes: Every speech or presentation has two main aspects: ‘What’ you say (content). ‘How’ you say it (delivery). Obviously, you have control over the content, because you can plan out exactly what you want to say. But, you can also do a lot to make sure your delivery is effective too. The advice that follows will help you deliver a powerful speech:

  • Audiences usually only has one chance to understand what you are saying: So, make it easy for them to follow your ideas…
  • Signpost your speech: At the beginning, say how your speech is organized. During the speech, make it clear when one part is finished and the next part begins…
  • Most important parts of a speech are; ‘the beginning’ and ‘the end': A strong first sentence will capture the attention of the audience… a strong last sentence that will either; make them laugh or give them something provocative to think about…
  • Practice; Speak loudly, clearly, distinctly, and include visuals when appropriate… Be prepared for distractions and strange questions… and stay focused…

Some tips:

  • KISS: Golden rule– ‘Keep It Short and Simple’ really does apply. Keep sentences short, grammar simple. Not only is this more powerful than long rambling prose, but you’re more likely to hold your audience’s attention– and, stay focused on what you’re trying to say!
  • Rule of Three: Another golden rule: The human brain responds magically to things that come in ‘threes’. Whether it’s a list of adjectives, a joke, or your main points, it’s most effective if you keep it to this structure.
  • Imagery: Metaphors, similes and description will help an audience to better understand the message and it keeps them entertained.
  • Pronouns: Use ‘we’ to create a sense of unity; ‘them’ for a common enemy; ‘you’ if you’re reaching out to the audience; and ‘I’ / ‘me’ if you want to take control.
  • Poetry: Repetition, rhyme and alliteration are sound effects, used by poets and orators alike. They make a speech more memorable. Remember to structure pauses and parentheses into a speech; it varies the flow of sound, helping to hold the audience attention.
  • Jokes: Humor is powerful; use it to perk-up a sleepy audience… Laughter is based on people having common, shared assumptions and it can, therefore, be used to persuade.
  • Key words: ‘Every’, ‘improved’, ‘natural’, ‘pure’, ‘recommended’, ‘tested’ are words, according to some surveys; that will press the right buttons and get a positive response from the audience…

In the article Great Ways to End a Speech by Matt Eventoff writes: Here are a few techniques for closing a speech or presentation:

  • Direct Call to Action: A speech or presentation without a clear call to action is a speech or presentation that probably isn’t worth giving…
  • (Very) Short Story or Anecdote: Show, don’t tell… Use a brief story or anecdote to drive a message…
  • Call-to-Question: It’s often effective to end with a rhetorical question that captures the spirit of the message and leaves the audience thinking– especially when it ties in your call to action…
  • Contrast: Effective when tied directly to the closing call to action…
  • Quote: Short, appropriate, and powerful quotes are effective as ‘openers’… also, quotes are effective as ‘closers’…

Metaphors make great speech openers, because metaphors– surprise, conjure images, appeal to emotions… According to Anne Miller; speaking without metaphors is like running a marathon barefoot. Yes, you can finish the race, but not without a certain amount of pain. Nowhere is the potential for speaking pain greater than in the opening of a talk, when you have only a few seconds to win or lose your audience’s attention … Metaphors surprise the audience because by definition, a metaphor is something other than what is expected. It’s a stand-in for the obvious… Metaphor, simile or analogy, all conjure images and emotions and they draw you into a speaker’s narrative. The best talks reflect Aristotle’s observation– to be master of metaphor is everything… However, opening metaphors must be appropriate in tone and content for your audience and setting. Effective openers should only include enough detail to set up the point… Link the metaphoric opener to your message…

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According to Brett & Kate McKay; if you wish to become a great speaker, you must first become a student of the great speakers… You must immerse yourself in their texts, listening for the turns of phrases and textual symmetries, pauses and crescendos, the metaphors and melodies that have enabled the greatest speeches to stand the test of time. These speeches lift hearts in dark times, gave hope in despair, refined the characters of men, inspired brave feats, gave courage to the weary, honored the dead, changed the course of history… Great speakers have three components:

  • Style: A great speech must be masterfully constructed. The best speakers are masters of both the written and spoken word, and use words to create texts that are beautiful to both; hear and read…
  • Substance: A great speech must center on a worthy theme; it must appeal to and inspire the audience’s finest values and ideals…
  • Impact: A great speech always seeks to persuade the audience of some fact or idea. It changes hearts and minds and are as relevant several decades or centuries removed as when first given…

According to Rene Shimada Siegel; a memorable speech should paint vivid stories, it should be a gift from you to the audience; and, it’s not all about you… Great speeches are authentic, transparent and come straight from the heart… Pull stories from your own life and use the language you use every day. Lofty vocabulary, long compound sentences don’t inspire anyone… Well-crafted stories are among the most powerful tools in your business arsenal…. Great speakers take time to personalize and fine-tune their delivery for maximum impact…

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CyberStalking– Tracking Your Every Movement Online: Apply Art of Re-Marketing to Convert Visits– Its Privacy Stupid

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We’ve all been there– you send an email or leave a voice mail for a customer and never hear back. So you try again, again… and again. You don’t want to be a pest, but why aren’t they responding? Did they receive the message or are they deliberately ignoring you?  Where do you draw the line to avoid becoming a ‘stalker’ or that crazy person who keeps calling and emailing? We have become a data driven world, which isn’t a bad thing in itself, but many times we focus on just ‘data’ to manage the percentages without any regard for the customer. We apply psychology and focus on how quickly we can get people (customers) through the maze. And how we can convince them to go for the bigger piece of cheese (your higher priced ‘thing’)…

According to Heath Shackleford; I went online several weeks ago to make a simple purchase. I knew what I needed and I found it: Great! I tried to buy it and several minutes later I was still fighting off– up-sell offers, special discounts, free subscriptions… I had to remove unwanted ‘extras’ from my shopping cart, 3 times; I had to click ‘no thanks’ at least 10 times… Clearly, there was no thought for customer experience, only the psychology of how to get someone to buy more of ‘anything’, when they are just buying ‘something’… It’s ok to be smart, but just don’t get crazy; It’s fine to engage, suggest, personalize… but don’t be reckless and relentlessly harass and stalk your customers…

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In a study by Consumer Action: Internet users overwhelmingly disagree with the premise that online tracking is harmless if it just results in their being shown more relevant ads. With the vast majority of people feeling that they’ve lost control of their privacy, online; the right to control the information collected about them, online shows-up as very important to the survey respondents… the survey asks consumers if they– ‘see no harm’ in being tracked online. With most disagreeing, however, it’s possible that they see harm in it but are willing to accept it. In fact, more than half of respondents ‘strongly’ (28%) or ‘somewhat’ (27%) agreed with the statement: ‘You believe that being tracked online is the price of using Internet’… The weight of research tends to favor the attitude that consumers are concerned about privacy and may not be willing to trade it for more relevant advertising…. In sum, the results indicate that while consumers are pessimistic about online tracking, they highly value the right to be able to exercise control over data collection… The study results suggests a certain amount of pessimism on the part of consumers:

  • Only 26% ‘strongly’ (11%) or ‘somewhat’ (15%) agreed with the statement: ‘Online marketers consider your privacy when you are online’.
  • Less than half ‘strongly’ (15%) or ‘somewhat’ (27%) agreed with the statement: ‘Online marketers are trying to save you time by using tracking to only send you ads about what you need or desire’.
  • Just 1 in 5 ‘strongly’ (11%) or ‘somewhat’ (10%) agreed that: ‘Companies that track you online make it clear what they are doing’.

In the article Stalking Your Every Move Via Smartphone by Jordyn Taylor writes: An article in the Wall Street Journal examined a slightly alarming new marketing trend: Businesses that use sensors placed discreetly around a city to track their customers’ daily habits and interests… For example; a Toronto-based company placed 200 playing card-sized sensors in different locations around the city’s downtown area. The sensors can track movements of any passers-by carrying WiFi-enabled smartphones… That means the company’s clients knows when their customers are hitting-up various retail shops… The clients can then use that data to tailor marketing ploys aimed specifically at engaging that customer at that location… It sounds pretty crazy and intrusive, but apparently using sensors to analyze foot-traffic patterns and customer behavior is a trend that’s becoming popular in the world of marketing…

It’s outrageous to think that your trusty smartphones could give away your secrets to businesses without permission… According to Erika Morphy; some shopping centers are tracking visitors’ movements via their cell phone signals. The data they collect will be anonymous, they say; and its for the purposes of improving the shopper experience. Also, they say that will alert shoppers that this tracking is happening, before hand; and thus give shoppers the option of turning-off their smartphones while in the mall… But, most people will not turn-off their phone, and they will be tracked, and their privacy compromised, and the result is that consumer resentment will continue to rise… It’s one thing to track someone’s behavior online, taking note of what they buy and over which products they linger and don’t buy; but to track in a shopping jaunt is downright creepy…

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In the article How Hundreds of Companies Are Tracking Me by Alexis C. Madrigal writes: A voyage into the invisible business that funds the web is surreal: Who are these companies and what do they want from me?  When I opened my browser, in my daily routine, and go to a popular ‘news’ website for the daily news; amazing things happens– in those milliseconds between the click to the news site, all hell breaks loss; my personal web information is quickly sent to a gaggle of traffic-logging sites, ad companies, search firms… Then nearly instantaneously, companies can log my visit, place ads tailored for my eyes, and add this data to ever-growing online file about me… This personal encroachment happens to everyone, everywhere, on every device that uses the Internet… There’s nothing necessarily illegal about this subterranean data exchange; after all that’s how the system works– the advertising ecosystem is what supports the free online content…

Every move you make on the Internet is worth some tiny amount of money to someone, and a panoply of companies want to make sure that no step along your Internet journey goes unmonetized… Even if you are familiar with using data collection for targeted advertising, the number and variety of data collectors will astonish you… For example; in one recent 36-hour period of standard web surfing, the companies that tracked my movements on the Internet included, 105 companies… And, while the big names, like; Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, etc.– show-up on my list, bulk of these companies are smaller data and advertising businesses that form a shadow web of companies that are looking to engage you with all sorts of target advertising selected just for you. Presumably, these companies gather data without attaching it to your name; they use that data to show you ads that you’re statistically more likely to click… That’s the game and there is substantial money in it…

In the article What is Remarketing? by Angel Morales writes: It’s a word used frequently but it can mean different things to different people: So what is remarketing? As remarketing programs have been designed, built, and executed over the last 15 years, it’s been interesting to watch the term ‘remarketing’ morph into a myriad of different meanings; as vendors, consultants and analysts adapted definitions to fit their needs. Some believe it’s synonymous with shopping cart abandonment, while others use terms remarketing and retargeting interchangeably. The clearest definition goes back to when it first became a commonly used online marketing term in late ’90s… And, according to that definition; remarketing is process of reengaging a visitor/customer based on a recent interaction with your brand, often in an automated fashion… It’s a simple definition with elements of several marketing approaches, e.g.; classic direct marketing, conversation marketing, behavioral marketing, and a dash of experiential optimization thrown in for good measure. The spirit of remarketing is simple as well. At its most basic, remarketing is about listening and reacting to what your customers/visitors are telling you through their actions with your brand…

Generally only 2% of web traffic converts to a sale on the first visit to a website, which means that only about 2% of people actually buy something the first time they go on a website… So, remarketing is designed to help companies reach the other 98% of users who don’t convert right away… This process is effective because it focuses on people who already know something about you, who visited your website, and who might have been very close to buying something from you… So, the basic idea behind remarketing is that it– won’t, can’t, doesn’t drive people to your site, but it can bring them back…

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However having said this– it’s the ‘what’ that makes remarketing different: Remarketing is different from traditional marketing efforts, whereas, traditional marketing is a process of identifying which visitors or customers may respond to a marketing effort– it tries to answers the question of ‘who’? Who needs your product, service? In remarketing, whether the communication has been positive or negative, customers have already responded in one way or another by having visited your website… By selectively targeting users who have previously demonstrated an interest, the focus shifts from the target audience of ‘who’, to ‘what’… Thus, remarketing begins with path to reengage the ‘who'; by focusing on an existing opportunity, or the ‘what’. These opportunities are inherently temporal and event-driven, which makes it important to first listen then act, otherwise the chance to turn these prospects into customers is lost… For it to work, it’s important to remember that even though customers are leaving your website without buying anything, it’s that information that is most important. Remarketing is process of finding relevant visitor information and providing an incentive for them to return to your website, and revisit your brand… But what is remarketing; Is it smart marketing or cyberstalking? The answer depends, and only the customer can judge!

If you’ve never been targeted by an online ad, then you’re probably just not paying much attention. According to an informal survey by Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB); more than 80% of advertising campaigns involved tracking of some sort. The advertising business loves online tracking just about as much as privacy advocates hate it… According to Sarah Kessler; privacy advocates argue that online tracking undermines citizen rights and feels a little too big-brotherish for comfort… The industry’s response has been to improve self-regulation– largely by adding opt-out buttons to online behavioral advertising… Meanwhile, the rest of us are left wondering what the big deal is: We might be slightly creeped-out when a particular ad follows us around Internet, but is that really a debate worth getting worked up about? According to Christopher Soghoian; consumers treat Internet ‘search engine box’ like their– psychiatrist, rabbi, priest, doctor… people type the most intimate things into– search engines, websites… primarily because they think they’re anonymous.  But, the fact is that you are not anonymous and most sites are tracking you, so be aware and be careful…

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