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Archive for the ‘Thought Leadership’ Category

Do we really need everything right now ?

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Social media sites address us personally and feed us information based on our personal lives and interests, Amazon suggests the products we need and delivers them to our homes in a matter of hours, Netflix pre-selects shows we enjoy based on our viewing habits and delivers them to us instantly, pre-prepped frozen meals and fast-food restaurants make meals to fulfill personal cravings in under five minuets, and 3D printers allow people to create anything they want, when they want it. While all of these modern conveniences are, well, convenient; is there such a thing as too instantaneous?

The virtues of patience and compromise are imperative to the success of any well-adjusted adult today. No matter how far technology advances, it will never fix all of life’s hurdles. But, as we become more accustomed to everything on-demand, will we become increasingly more agitated when things don’t go our way? Some people become infuriated when their Internet connection goes out and they have to choose from the basic channel selections. Or, some adults feel entitled to belittling and scolding restaurant staff when their food isn’t served to perfection. As technology and personalization efforts continue to advance, will the inability to adjust, problem-solve, and cope with unforeseen situations become the norm?

What about the generations to come? Instead of being taught to wait patiently for their food at a restaurant, many children are given electronic devices that contain their favorite games, shows or other forms of entertainment to occupy their time. Instead of being forced to eat whatever is on the table at dinnertime, many family meals are now made to order, with children getting their choice of whatever frozen meal they prefer from the freezer. There’s even now a new 3D printer that can create food toppings and dessert decorations that match a child’s favorite color or character, so each child can have their own personalized cookie for dessert. When they have a science project due the next day that they didn’t prepare for, they can simply Google the steps and order the items from Amazon to be delivered within an hour. Some children are raised to believe the world revolves around them, and they should be consistently catered to and these new technologies are only enforcing that behavior. But what happens when today’s kids are asked to practice patience or compromise? What happens when there is a world full of adults unable to wait for a table at a restaurant or throwing fits because a storm hindered a package delivery time or Internet connection?

As technology makes our lives easier, how can we continue to embrace the important virtues needed to deal with life’s uncertainties, and how can we pass those virtues down to our children? How can we teach them that the world doesn’t revolve around them, when almost everything in their world is seemingly made, just for them?

Aging is a privilege.

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

Cultures around the world have drastically differing perspectives on growing old. For example, in India, elders are often the head of the family with younger family members offering them respect and seeking guidance. In Greek culture, old age is honored and celebrated, and in many Native American tribal communities, elders are respected for their life-experience and expected to impart their wisdom to younger family members. Conversely, aging in America is often seen as a negative process.

Many Americans fight growing old as much as possible by hiding their age, indulging in classic mid-life crises, dreading birthdays and avoiding celebrations. Almost every humorous adult birthday card contains jokes about aging with puns about the number of candles on the cake and lines such as, “Happy anniversary of your 30th birthday.”

Although a lot of the jokes are all in good fun, perhaps Americans should re-evaluate perspectives on growing older by examining the practices of other cultures. With copious amounts of disasters, tragedies and untimely deaths flooding our news channels and impacting our communities, shouldn’t growing old be seen as a privilege?

According to the National Safety Council, 2015 brought the biggest increase in U.S. traffic deaths in 50 years. ABC reports that the number of heroin users in the United States reached one million in 2014, a 20-year high, while heroin-related deaths have increased five-fold since 2000. The New York Times says that the number of people whose lives were claimed by mental illness has surged to the highest levels in nearly 30 years.

If you asked the friends and families of the victims from each of these tragedies, they would likely give anything to change the outcomes. To them, the opportunity for their loved one to grow old would be seen as privilege, instead of burden.

While youth is a beautiful thing, the opportunity to grow old should be embraced. Instead of hiding our age, perhaps it should be worn as a badge of honor, for those who haven’t had the same privilege. Instead of allowing ourselves to dread a birthday party, we should embrace the opportunity to celebrate another trip around the sun with those we love. Perhaps instead of fighting the inevitable passing of time, we should simply be grateful for another year of life.

Online reviews with a grain of salt.

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Online reviews have become a key ingredient to online shopping. In fact, 92% of consumers read online reviews for local business and products, according to research by Bright Local. Although online reviews can be a valuable tool, it’s important to approach them with caution and consider all factors before allowing them to influence purchase decisions.

While some websites make it very easy to post an online review, most of the time it’s a bit of a process. Usually to leave a review a person has to visit the company website, find the product and create an account by sharing personal information with a required username and password. To carve out time during busy routines to take these steps, a person likely has strong views in one direction or the other. People who are moderately satisfied with their purchases are less likely to go out of their way to post a review. In other words, if all reviewers were in a college class with a professor who grades on a curve, reviewers would be the outliers with the A+ or F- grades. Students in the B to D rage are rarely represented. If a business has an overwhelming majority of A+ or F- grades, it’s likely the reviews are valid.

Bright Local research also found that 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading just 1 – 3 reviews. This is problematic again because of the extreme opinions of emotionally charged reviewers, but also because consumers are likely not getting the full story before basing a purchase on reviews. What if the first three reviews just happen to be positive, and important product flaws are missed? No product is perfect, so it’s important that if reviews are determining a purchase, consumers read the reviews judiciously and thoroughly to decipher the downfalls of the product. This allows for an educated purchase decision based on whether or not the imperfections are deal-breakers. For example, when buying a coffee cup, there may be some negative reviews expressing that the handles are too small for large hands. Someone with very large hands likely went online and left a highly negative review. However, this may or may not be relevant to the buyer, depending on the size of their hands. If a consumer is relying on reviews to make purchasing decisions, it’s important to get the whole story, versus fully relying on the opinion of the one angry, large-handed customer. Reading only the first 1 – 3 reviews before forming an opinion can also be problematic because some companies monitor product reviews, eliminating anything negative. Look for negative reviews instead of relying on the first few positive reviews. If a company or product has no negative reviews, proceed with extreme caution.

Product information from fellow consumers, versus the sales department of a company, definitely has benefits. But, like any information online, reviews must be taken with a grain of salt.

When I was your age.

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

As we study attributes of different generations, some information is factual and helpful for marketing, workplace relations, etc. For example, it’s true that Millennials are the most diverse generation yet. It’s also true that the Silent Generation grew up during the great depression, which likely effects their perception of the world.

However, today we hear negative stereotypes about Millennials, including that they are lazy, narcissistic, and obsessed with technology. These observations are the same old, tired ideas that have been cast upon younger generations by older generations since the beginning of time.

The ‘silent generation’ (born between 1925-1945) said the same thing about Baby Boomers (born between 1943-1964). According to The New York Times, “On Aug. 23, 1976, New York Magazine published ‘The Me Decade,’ a cover story by Tom Wolfe that eviscerated Baby Boomers as the most ludicrous, self-absorbed and spoiled generation in the history of mankind.”

Then on July 16, 1990, TIME Magazine published a cover story about Generation X (born between 1961-1980) with a headline that read, “Laid back, late blooming or just lost? Overshadowed by the Baby Boomers, America’s next generation has a hard act to follow.” Ironic how “The Me Decade” transitioned into “a hard act to follow.”

Now, Generation X is slamming the Millennial generation, with stereotypes and a TIME Magazine cover of their own with the headline, “The Me Me Me Generation. Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.”

Noticing a pattern? It’s true that each generation has their own struggles, strengths and weaknesses based on their life experiences. But, just because they’re different from the generations before them, doesn’t mean they won’t develop into a successful generation of people who leave their mark on the world.

Sure, you could make the argument that studies have shown Millennials are more narcissistic than their parents and grandparents, but is that because they’re young or because they’re Millennials? Baby Boomers might insist that they weren’t narcissistic when they were young, but the Silent Generation who published “The Me Decade” might disagree.

Perhaps these negative stereotypes that are consistently thrashed upon the up-and-coming generations are just the age-old cycle of older generations being crabby about younger generations. Maybe it’s just a fancier version of the classic, “When I was your age…” story that grandparents love to share.

Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

A recent BuzzFeed video raised an important question for women everywhere… “What if I knew I was beautiful?”

Through the lyrics of love songs, the video exemplifies the way women are told that insecurity is an attractive trait.

“You don’t know you’re beautiful, oh oh, that’s what makes you beautiful” – What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction

“Tap on my window, knock on my door, I want to make you feel beautiful” – She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5

“Girl let me love you, and I will love you, until you learn to love yourself” – Let Me Love You by Ne-Yo

In each of these songs, the message is that a woman should be sitting around, feeling down, until someone comes along and tells her she’s beautiful… But what if she already knew?

Women who exhibit self-confidence can be in danger of acquiring negative labels such as, they are vain or full of themselves. A surprising amount of women are in the unhealthy mindset of being under-confident primarily due to society and people they encounter everyday. Instead of exhibiting confidence and accepting compliments, many women deflect this praise with negativity.

But what would happen if women chose to love themselves, without the need for validation from others? What if they chose confidence over insecurity?

As individuals, we are responsible for providing the validation needed to be confident and to succeed. By rejecting pop culture’s absurd notion that insecurity is beautiful, a woman can embrace a strong, positive self-image and give other women the confidence to do the same. We can teach each other how to treat others and ourselves; because everyone should have the right to know they’re beautiful, from the inside out.

“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. … And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson