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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‘Emoji’ Gone Wild; Fad, or Digital Language of the Future: Telling Stories with String of Symbols– 21st Century Hieroglyphs

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Emoji: Sometimes when you are at loss for words, a facial expression says it all. The digital counterpart of humanistic self-expression is emoji… Emoji is a Japanese based coding program, which literally means; ‘picture’ + ‘letter’, has successfully integrated onto billions of smart phones worldwide, features colorful, animated pictures that can be inserted into texts and emails…You’re probably familiar with the bright yellow smiling, winking and frowning faces that seem to follow every text message these days. But, you might not be aware there are more than 1,500 to choose from. Designed to symbolize everyday objects, expressions and ideas, they’re expressive enough to act as stand-ins for words or entire phrases. Their colorful, eye-catching designs have propelled them to pop-culture fame…

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According to Alaina Raftis; Napoleon Bonaparte is quoted as saying; ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’… If true, what is the purpose of the written word, especially as technology like Emoji sweep across the cyber-sphere? Are these colorful, animated pictures adding more meaning to their accompanied text, or are they altogether replacing the written word? In era when younger generations are increasingly being brought up using Internet, social media… where they post no more than 144 characters in a tweet, and use photo sharing applications that more than often don’t incorporate text; hence, a serious question needs to be asked: Will pictures such as,  emoji, replace written words as people grow more in favor of the art of non-definitive icons, or are the use of these images just a fad? According to Fred Benenson; four years ago he used Crowdsourcing to hire people to translate the first chapter of Moby-Dick into emoji… at which time he became convinced that it was only a matter of time before everyone would start to use emoji, and sure enough by 2013, emoji is everywhere. The first sentence of Melville’s classic: ‘Call me Ishmael’ became:    

emoji11Emoji, for all its detractors, is really about embellishment and added context; it’s about in-jokes, playfulness, emphasizing ones praise and  cushioning impact of criticism, of provoking thought and exercising the imagination. According to Rhodri Marsden; telling stories, movie recaps, expressing complex emotion – it’s partially about the frivolity, but it’s also about engaging a part of your brain which uses symbolic and visual thinking, something that I love to do. I also think it has the potential to bridge language barriers… According to Michael Andor Brodeur; whether your incessant texting is pulling language apart or pushing it forward (or a little of both) is a debate unlikely to be settled soon… Language is always changing, even as the needs and desires it expresses stay the same… According to Motoko Tamamuro; we tend to imply things instead of explicitly expressing them, so sensing people’s moods is very important. We take extra care to consider other people’s feelings when writing correspondence, and that’s why emoji became so useful in email and text – to introduce more feeling into a brevities form of communication…

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In the article Appeal Of Emoji: They Don’t Say Anything by Bianca Bosker writes: The growing popularity of this cutesy communication is usually attributed to difficulty people have conveying emotion and nuance via quickly typed text. But emoji, and their ilk, are more than elaborate punctuation marks and part of the appeal is precisely their indefinite meaning. They’re a way to say something when you really don’t have anything to say, it’s a digital alter ego that establishes a virtual presence with another person, without any specific purpose besides– just ‘Hi’… Using emoji, in a sense, is like hanging out online… In the past year, funny faces, clinking beer mugs, adorable chicken legs and other illustrations have become virtually omnipresent online… My Instagram feed frequently has more emoji than photos: Snapshots are captioned with a sprinkling of emoji that range from mundane to the poetic…

As we continue communicating more consistently with more people, in more places, we’ve turned to images as a way to transpose some offline customs, like comfortable silences between friends, into the online realm. According to Mimi Ito; explains that while email and desktop correspondence tends to be focused on completing a set task, a great deal of mobile communication — given how frequently we have our hands on our phones — is about sharing a ‘ambient state of being… Emoji are like a smile from colleague across the room, or small talk you make walking to get coffee: It’s pointless communication that nonetheless puts you in a good mood… Part of the reason the volume of text messaging is so high because lot of exchange is just small talk, e.g.; this is what I’m doing, this is what I’m feeling,’ which is transmitting, ‘I’m here with you, I’m connected to you, people often like to feel like they’re inhabiting the same space as each other… Emoji and emoticons are really good for conveying that kind of thing…

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In the article Is Future of Language Emoji? by Hayley writes: There is no arguing the Internet has made the world a smaller place, but it is also shaping the language we speak. In fact, the future of languages may have far more in common with the writing styles of the past than how we write today… According to Lauren Hockenson; with all different languages, writing scripts and dialects being used, emoji is the one common form of communication everyone can understand. In fact, this may also explain the rising popularity of photo sharing sites… Thanks to emoji, even if a Tweet or status is written in an unfamiliar language or even an unfamiliar script, any reader can understand the basic tone… However, with the rise in popularity of emoji, is written language regressing? After all, the oldest forms of writing were based around pictographs. The earliest marks left by mankind – pictures etched on cave walls – used images to represent what we would now use written words to describe, such as a group of men hunting. Much later, ancient Egyptians created hieroglyphs; a writing system built around picture-style images… When it comes to knocking down language barriers, pictographs are arguably the easiest way to do it. It doesn’t matter what a person’s mother tongue is, everyone understands what the symbol for men’s or women’s toilets means. In the same way, emoji is a truly international language…

In the article Emoji May Be The Language of the Future in Business by dearestleader writes: Go into most warehouse or assembly lines staffed increasingly by workers diversity, and you will find less than perfect written and spoken English… A well-known SciFi writer has created a world, in the future, where English and Mandarin are the official languages of the human race. What if that isn’t the case? What if a new abbreviated language such as the one teenagers use for texting is the unified language of the world? What if we become like Ancient Egyptians and move to a hieroglyphic language to be all-inclusive? This is where emoji may fit in. The old view of business is dying out as the ‘baby boomers’ retire from the workforce… There are also many people in GenX and GenY who will hire subject matter experts, no matter their fluency in English… If we can communicate in the made-up language of Chinglish, why not communicate using other ways? The only thing holding you back is an outdated mentality of thinking about something that’s done a certain way, rather than just something that has to be done…

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The emoji has come a long way from its origins as a cute footnote to text messages. According to Alex Clark; emoji is growing in complexity all the time… A single emoji just doesn’t cut mustard any more, no matter how vigorous its expression, for example; not when you can get cats with hearts for eyes, Roswell aliens, flamenco dancers, lavatories and cable cars… These more highly developed version of early emoticons, e.g.; the :-) and :-(  built from ASCII characters and used in texts, emails… and have opened-up serious new possibilities: Savvy, inventive people are now sending entire communications in emoji, and artfully stringing together expressive little ‘things’… and, all in 144 pixels per symbol… However, emoji raises some interesting questions, e.g.: What habits of daily life do emoji promote? What behavior do they normalize?

The historical line connecting the smiley face to emoji is crooked but revealing, featuring as it does this same sentiment repeated again and again: the road to bottom-line runs through commodification of emotion… According to Murray Spain; I was one of the entrepreneurs who, in the early 1970s, placed a copyright on the ‘smiley face’ with the phrase; ‘Have a nice day’… and the intent was capitalistic, i.e., our only desire was to make a buck… Emoji offer a means of communicating that we did have before: they humanize the platforms we inhabit. As such, they are a rear-guard action to enable sociality in digital networks, yet are also agents in turning emotions into economic value. As a blip in the continuing evolution of platform languages, emoji may be remembered as a fading digital companion, or as the true international language of the future…

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Most Organizations– Know ‘How’, Know ‘What’, But Very Few Know ‘Why': Lacking Is Clear, Concise, Definitive ‘Purpose’…

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Why does your organization exist?  This may sound a bit existential, but it’s a powerful and important exercise… What would happen if your organization just went away; simply did not exist? What would the world be missing? So, ‘why’ does your organization exist; can you answer that question in one concise sentence, say; 10 words or less? According to Jeanne Coughlin; there’s power in breaking something down to its core, to its essence and very heart of why it exists– getting a clear definition on the ‘purpose’ of an organization and being able to communicate its ‘purpose’ and ‘reason for existence’ succinctly lays the foundation for all strategies, planning, decision-making… According to Ronald Coase; the job of clever people is to ask difficult questions, and the job of very clever people is to ask deceptively simple ones, such as: Why do companies exist?

According to Ron Goerz; employees in every company and at every level need to know that at the heart of what they do lies something grand and aspirational… most company executives give little thought to the ‘why’ question and so operate in short-sighted, reactive mode, and often lose their way by getting involved in variety of random pursuits… According to Jim Collins and Jerry Porras; executives in strong and enduring companies have a clear understanding of ‘why’ they started the company and remained true to that reason… Getting clarity is hard work, but it starts with asking, a simple question: Why does the company exist? According to Jeph Maystruck; all stakeholders in an organization must continually ask the question; What is the absolute core ‘purpose’ of the organization; the reason that it exists. Once you fully understand ‘why’ your company exists it’s much easier to understand ‘how’ you’re going to sell, ‘what’ you’re going to sell… Almost everything in the world is now a commodity– it’s at core of every business, so in order to succeed you must; first know ‘why’, then know ‘how’, then know ‘what’– in that order…

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In the article Why Does Your Company Exist? by Simon Sinek writes: The mistake so many business people make is that they tell us what the company does and how they think they are better, but there is not a single mention of; Why the company exists in the first place. And, it’s the ‘why’ that matters most in a purchase decision. People are not attracted to ‘what’ you do, they are drawn to ‘why’ you do it.  And ‘why’ is what truly differentiates one company from another… Before consumers can know your ‘why’, you must know it first… And, if you don’t know ‘why’ you do what you do, how can expect others to know? For many, the ‘why’ starts as a feeling: Call it drive or passion or inspiration or something in your gut, it doesn’t matter. Only when that feeling is translated in words can it become actionable, scalable… Only when others can repeat your ‘why’ as clearly as you can, only then can you become a leader. And when you lead, you never have to sell on price…

People don’t buy ‘what’ you do, they buy ‘why’ you do it… That means that the ‘why’ is extremely important to most everyone’s buying decision. Their choice to buy from you says as much about them and their beliefs as it does about you… The most successful companies start their marketing with ‘why’ they exist, their purpose. Then they move to ‘how’ they do what they do. Lastly they talk about ‘what’ it is they are selling… According to Mr. Sinek; the relationship between why, how, what…  is known as ‘the golden circle’... However, many companies do exact opposite and start with ‘what’, then ‘how’ and never talk about ‘why’. The most obvious example of this is when someone talks about features and not benefits… People don’t buy ‘what’ you do, they buy ‘why’ you do it…

In the article Why Does Your Company Exist? by Dick Barnett writes: A company’s ‘mission’ is the single most important reason for its exists… and, every organization should best expressed it as clearly and concisely as possible in the fewest words as possible, e.g., in least than 10 words… Your ‘mission’ is the specific purpose of your company: It’s the reason to be’… And, the ‘mission’ is not something an organization is going ‘toward’ or going ‘to do'; that’s a goal or objective: Mission is what the organization is’ The very ‘being’ of the company. Mission is the ‘core’ of the organization. If this distinction is not made absolutely clear to everyone concerned, then nothing else will really hold the organization together…

A clear ‘mission’ statement is the single key ingredient missing in 95% of most companies… that oversight prevents them from being as successful as they could be! When the mission is absolutely clear, you’ll actually reduce the amount of energy you spend, resources you need, and get even more accomplished… When everyone is involved; you, your employees, your suppliers, your customers, your competitors… and, all-knowing exactly ‘why’ your company exists, you’ll eliminate unproductive conflict and resistance, and lead with greater ease, confidence, certainty. So, What’s the secret here? Simply; Successful organizations have clear, easily remembered ‘mission’ statements that express core, underlying reason the organization exists– no fluff, no platitudes. Unless the mission is clear, people will naturally be going in different (albeit sometimes subtly different) directions… and no organization will be very successful when that happens!

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In the article Why Does Your Business Exist, Why Does That Matter? by Sitima Fowler write: Do you know the– what, how, why of your company? Every company knows ‘what’ they do: They know the product or service they deliver. Most companies know ‘how’ they do it: This is the process and workflow they follow. However, if you ask most management or employees of a company; if they know ‘why’ they do what they do, you may get a blank stare. The companies that really get the ‘why’ of their business (their purpose and their reason for exiting), are the ones that win. They push and operate from the inside out, pushing their ‘why’ out through their ‘how’ and what’. This way, everything they do from their products to processes, is centered on the very core, the heart of their ‘mission’…

In the article Does Your Business Have a Reason To Exist? by John Morgan writes: When you have a reason to exist in a marketplace, you become worthy of people’s attention and patronage… Doing something different from everyone else is the difference between your product being on the front page of a magazine or buried several pages inside. The reason many business fail to have differentiating factor is because being different is very hard… It’s not everyday you come up with an idea that changes an entire industry. But don’t be misguided… You don’t have to flip an industry on it’s head to stand out… But, you must offer something others don’t. Bring something new to the table. Do something that’s worth people’s attention… Find a void, fill it: Have a reason to exist, otherwise you’re just taking up space…

According to Allan Dib; many businesses don’t have a reason to exist: Harsh but true… The problem is that these businesses are just another ‘me too’ business… Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong in modeling something that’s already working. In fact that’s a very smart thing to do… However, it’s highly likely that competitors that they are modeling after, are in the same situation as they are, i.e., struggling to win business with no compelling reason ‘why’ you should buy from them… They based their most important business decisions on guesses and on what their mediocre competitors are doing… It’s the blind leading the blind… Hey, I’m not trying be downer or discourage you. I’m just trying to make you think: If you haven’t clarified, first in your mind; ‘why’ your business exists and ‘why’ people should buy from you, rather than your nearest competitor, then your business is in deep trouble…

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In the article Why Does Your Organization Exist? by Susan Radojevic writes: I am  fascinated by the ‘why’ questions. I believe some of the most powerful outcomes are a result of asking questions that start with– Why? or Why not? or What if? When you ask CEOs why their organizations exist; many times an answer is not always forthcoming and often times it’s– ‘to make a profit’. According to Simon Sinek; profit is a result not a purpose… So, why does your organization exist? By the ‘why’ I mean– What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning and why should anyone care? The answers that many people give to these questions suggests– that more creative thinking is needed; that is, in order to have a sustainable business in today’s market, corporate leaders must ‘think’ deeper… They must find or remind themselves of their organization’s ‘purpose’ so they can– empower, grow, inspire action from all stakeholders… Many organizations in the past used a linear business approach, which placed achieving profits above all else, at all costs… However in today’s ‘digital and knowledge economy’ this linear approach is like putting the cart before the horse…

In all organization there’s ‘know-how’ and then there’s ‘know why’… According to Ralph Waldo Emerson; the man who knows ‘how’ will always have a job, the man who also knows ‘why’ will always be the boss– there must be a balance of– ‘know why’, ‘know how’ in order to generate positive results According to Wisdom Chitedze; problem is we get so caught up in the nitty-gritty of implementation that we forget ‘why’ we are here in the first place… ‘why’ is just as important as ‘how'; they are not mutually exclusive. According to Usman Sheikh; answer to the ‘why’ question involves two fundamental factors; clarity of purpose and passion… Without these two factors, one usually ends up listening to convoluted stories without the vital ‘x-factor’. The answer to the ‘why’ question is what some people call the elevator pitch– a concise snippet about one’s business. It’s essential to spend time perfecting the pitch, making sure that it’s– concise, clear, full of energy According to Jim Heskett; purpose is a powerful motivator on many levels, but can you aspire to a strong sense of ‘know why’ even if your organization is not out to change the world? Most management work very hard to make their organizations succeed without clarity of purpose… However, without knowing the ‘purpose’, without knowing the ‘why’ of an organization it’s a pursuit of an existence that doesn’t matter

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Strategic Assets– Rethink Your Competitive Edge in Shifting Global Markets: Strategic Muscle Ain’t What It Used To Be

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Strategic Assets are specific core resources, capabilities… that an organization possesses, which provides it with a significant and unique competitive edge that sustains it as a growing, prosperous organization… In financial accounting, an asset is an economic resource; anything tangible or intangible that is capable of being owned or controlled to produce value. Simply stated, assets represent value of ownership that can be converted into cash (although cash itself is also considered an asset)… Under this definition, such things as; employees, customers, brands, supply chain… are not considered assets, even though they may be the critical factors in the economic success of an organization– This is because an organization does not have sufficient control over these entities to satisfy the accepted definition of an asset…

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But according to Paul O’Malley; strategic assets are key capabilities, resources, relationships… which are the basic ingredients for value creation and key driving factors in the success of a business… Examples of strategic assets might include; employees, customers, intellectual property, brands, distribution channels… According to John Kay; strategic assets are certain competitive advantages based not only on the distinctive capabilities of a business but on also on their dominance or market position… However, in today’s highly competitive business environment many so-called strategic assets may not be sustainable and eventually they become competitive liabilities rather than assets… So, have you reviewed the basic assumptions behind your strategic assets, lately… are they still valid, or are your strategic assets more of a liability?

Strategy- Strategic Fundamentals: The use of the term strategy or strategic has literally changed the map of the world and caused the rise and fall of many businesses, organizations, nations… The unique combination of wisdom, science and craft have made strategic value creation a universally sought after skill… The basic premise of a strategy is that its development requires the courage to accept uncertainty… According to a French general; strategy is the art of conducting war not by means of coup d’oeil (glance or look) from behind a horse’s ears, but in an office on a map… Strategists must accept that they will not have all of the information and not see the spectrum of events, yet they must be committed to creating and implementing a strategy…

The uncertainty that may exist is not only a result of not having complete information and not being able to predict future events, it also is a result of the events generated by a dynamic and thinking competitor. The design of strategy with competitors in mind and their undetermined actions is what requires a strategist’s embrace of uncertainty… Strategy deals with competitive situation in an uncontrolled environment… Strategy is the greatest ‘winning tool’ that man ever invented! It enables the practitioners to see clearly the future of any encounter before it’s undertaken,,, Strategy is ‘the thinking of the General’ and has been the secret art of success for thousands of years… According to Sun Tzu; all men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved... Business history is littered with examples of leaders who could not accept the uncertainty of strategy, and defining unsustainable ‘strategic assets’ and wounding-up settling for failure at the hands of competitive tactics…

In the article Competing on Resources by David J. Collis and Cynthia A. Montgomery writes: Competitive edge are the things that enable an enterprise to perform activities better or more cheaply than their rivals, e.g.; physical assets, prime locations, intangible assets, strong brand, technology capabilities, brilliant supply chain, outstanding employees… As recently as 10 years ago, we thought we knew most of what we needed to know about competitive strategies, but the pace of global competition and technological change has left many businesses struggling to keep up… One business framework that is grounded in economics is ‘resource-based view’ or strategic asset view of a business… This approach derives its strength from its ability to explain in clear managerial terms why some competitors are more profitable than others, how to put the idea of core competence into practice, and how to develop diversification strategies that make sense… it sees companies as having a very different collection of tangible and intangible assets and capabilities…

No two companies are alike because no two companies have the same set of experiences, or acquired the same assets and skills, or built the same organizational cultures… These assets-capabilities determine how efficiently and effectively a company performs its functional activities: Following this logic, a company is positioned to succeed if it has the best and most appropriate stocks of competitive relevant resources for its business… These capabilities, built up over time, transform otherwise pedestrian or commodity inputs into superior products and make the companies that develop them more competitive in global markets… Competitive advantage, whatever its source, ultimately is attributed to the ownership of valuable resources (both tangible and intangible) that enables the business to perform activities better, more cheaply, different from competitors… Superior business performance is, therefore, based on competitively distinct set of resources (i.e., strategic assets), which are deployed within a well-conceived strategy…

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In the article Most Important Assets are Not on the Balance Sheet by Leslie Back  writes: In context of accounting, assets are defined as items of economic value, especially those that can be converted to cash, such as; property, equipment, inventory, and the like… Also, intangibles, such as; patents, trademarks, goodwill… are quantified for balance sheets… These assets, as well as liabilities and retained earnings on the other side of the sheet, dominate corporate thought and action. In so doing, however, companies overlook their most important assets, its ‘employees’. The employee is the secret in the sauce and glue that holds organizations together– without ‘right’ employees, other assets are valueless… and, followed by a good business ‘reputation’ as the next most important asset…

Fortune Magazine has estimated that a company’s reputation represents 75% of the total value of an average business… Which brings us to the last non-financial asset; ‘corporate mission’… This asset, when appropriately applied, will protect all other assets. The ‘mission’ provides guidance: It gives employees a sense of purpose, it guides all decision-making, it the moral and ethical compass and written articulation of the organization’s soul… When a ‘mission’ is clearly defined it gives direction on what assets should be acquired and where to divest… Hence, when an organization has a ‘mission’ beyond the mere of money-making, and when it considers its ‘employees’ as its greatest investment, and when it secures its ‘reputation’ by doing what is right… then these, by definition, are strategic assets…

According to Cliff Bowman; companies are continually under pressure to make the most of their assets… In today’s highly competitive world, it’s essential to understand what ‘thing’ is giving your organization a competitive advantage or edge in the market place: What is it about your product or service that is valued by your customers, such that they buy it? What is your competitive edge– your strategic asset– your differentiator that separates you from the competition… You must identify those dimensions that are critical to your customers, and why they choose you over a rival… Pinpointing the best way to deliver value to the customers is a strategic asset… Understanding your special qualities requires you to delve deep inside your organization to uncover the sources of advantage, many of which may not be obvious, but they are your organization’s competitive muscle and the key to your business success…

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However, in today’s global business landscape strategic assets can quickly become obsolete assets– basic assumptions about your competitive position and presumed strategic assets might not be valid… According to nine out of 10 executives; their companies developed annual strategic plans where they define their mission, competitive edge–strategic assets… Moreover, they develop these plans without consideration for the pace of change in their business environment… As market pressures drive organizations to become more– flexible, responsive, able to change on a moment’s notice, the ability to rethink the execution of strategy based on new competitive assumptions is rapidly becoming more important than the strategy itself… According to Denise Lee Yohn; the amount of disruption in today’s markets (and the speed at which it happens) requires a very different planning approach. Instead of setting a definite strategy and following through at all costs, companies must focus on– strategically adapting to and excelling at whatever path they find themselves on…

Organizations must focus more on having the right people and less on the right plan, replace strategic planning with strategic decision-making, and nourish a culture of discipline, action, and results… Developing strategic agility starts with changing many of your ‘thought bubbles’ (i.e., beliefs, assumptions, rules) about your competitive edge–strategic assets and strategic planning process.. Accept the idea that many– ideas, beliefs, assumptions on which you based your plans may well be obsolete… Shift your thinking about competitive edge and focus on market realities, which means that you must automatically assume that markets are constantly changing… focus on what needs to shift in the organization, and how you can adapt to get to where you want to go. Once you determine the necessary course corrections, take action immediately… It’s hard making-decisions without certainty about what the future holds, but the world moves so fast that hesitation can be fatal… And, once you fall behind, it can be very difficult to catch up… Make the development of strategic agility a strategic asset and priority for the organization…

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