Born around 1541, Domenikos Theotokopoulos began his career as an icon painter on the island of Crete. He is best known, under the name El Greco, for the works he created while in Spain, paintings that have provoked both rapt admiration and scornful disapproval since his death in 1614.
The life of the Renaissance painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos, better known as El Greco. El Greco took this style to extremes, creating luminous paintings of great intensity. By turns considered a prescient precursor of modern art or simply a man with bad eyesight, El Greco’s work embodied the exalted spirit of the Counter-Reformation in its zeal to annihilate all traces of Protestantism.
El Greco’s candid portraits have been consistently admired for their naturalism and psychological insight, even when (as in the eighteenth century) his other works fell out of favor.
Creating Luminous Paintings: El Greco and the Light
On a pleasant spring afternoon, a friend went to visit the painter El Greco. To his surprise, he found him in his atelier with all curtains drawn.
Greco was working on a painting which had the Virgin Mary as the central theme, using only a candle to illuminate the environment.
Surprised, the friend said: “I have always heard that painters like the sun in order to choose well the colors they will use. Why don’t you open the curtains?”
“Not now,” answered El Greco. “It would disturb the brilliant fire of inspiration that is burning in my soul and filling with light everything around me.”
The reason we do not see truth is that we do not have enough courage. The more you meditate in the Zen tradition, the less likely you will step in it. When we say this, we do not mean that we depend on the Buddha. We mean that if we follow the Zen Buddhist Method taught by the Buddha we will develop the confidence to work out our own salvation. We certainly do not think that the Buddha will come one day and take us up to “heaven” in a glorious flight. When you reach this state, you will perceive everything as equal. The minute you stop pumping, the air starts to leak and the tire will eventually go flat.
However, beyond the desire realm, there are the form realm and the formless realm. To transcend them, you have to liberate yourself from the pabulum of consciousness. After they finish the work, they pave over it again and everything is just as it was before. Of course, if there were no sense of doubt in the commencement, you would not be incentivized to practice. After practicing diligently, you will gradually resolve the quandary of doubt. It all depends on your karmic roots. When those with deep karmic roots are exposed to the edifications of Zen, they expeditiously accept them. Such visions, good and bad, are generally manifestations of our own mental realms.
Zen Koan: “No Loving-Kindness” Parable
There was an old woman in China who had supported a monk for over twenty years. She had built a little hut for him and fed him while he was meditating. Finally she wondered just what progress he had made in all this time.
To find out, she obtained the help of a girl rich in desire. “Go and embrace him,” she told her, “and then ask him suddenly: ‘What now?'”
The girl called upon the monk and without much ado caressed him, asking him what he was going to do about it.
“An old tree grows on a cold rock in winter,” replied the monk somewhat poetically. “Nowhere is there any warmth.”
The girl returned and related what he had said.
“To think I fed that fellow for twenty years!” exclaimed the old woman in anger. “He showed no consideration for your needs, no disposition to explain your condition. He need not have responded to passion, but at least he should have evidenced some compassion.”
She at once went to the hut of the monk and burned it down.
Buddhist Insight on Awareness of Mortality
Buddha teaches that this moment is not dependent upon the prior moments or future moments. Within this, there are the contradictory reason of real dependency, and the contradictory reason of dependence from the vantage point of mind. True practice is one continuous mistake, one after another anyway. All who want happiness want to disregard suffering and raise their awareness of morality? They’re a little scary but they’re not so terrible. German Theravadin Buddhist nun Ayya Khema writes in When the Iron Eagle Flies,
The Buddha recommended that every person should remember every single day that we are not here for ever. It is a guest performance, which can be finished at any time. We don’t know when; we have no idea. We always think we may have seventy-five or eighty years, but who knows? If we remember our vulnerability every single day, our lives will be imbued with the understanding that each moment counts and we will not be so concerned with the future. Now is the time to grow on the spiritual path. If we remember that, we will also have a different relationship to the people around us. They too can die at any moment, and we certainly wouldn’t like that to happen at a time when we are not loving towards them. When we remember that, our practice connects to this moment and meditation improves because there is urgency behind it. We need to act now. We can only watch this one breath, not the next one.
Badami or Vatapi (in Sanskrit) was the capital of the early Chalukyas. Pulakeshi I, one of the early kings of this kingdom built a strong defense at Badami and made it his capital in the year 547 CE. From that time forwards, the later kings of this dynasty built rock-cut and structural temples here for about three hundred years and for this reason, Badami became a distinguished hub of Karnataka architecture and sculpture.
On the opposite side of the town, below and around the north fort, there are a number of structural temples. There are many temples at Badami of which Malegitti Shivalaya is remarkable from many points of view. Imaginably with the connection of a woman who was a garland-maker, this temple should have got that name.
The very location of this temple is appealing. It is built on a ridge of the rugged hills, which have a view over the town of Badami. Malegitti Shivalaya is noteworthy from the evolution of the Chalukyan style of architecture.
Badami’s Malegitti Shivalaya represents a phase of Chalukyan art. It is a good example where the domical finial is octagonal and is supported by a series of small shrines. It is not a large temple but is a solid enormous construction palpably to withstand the ravages of time. This may not show predominantly sophisticated parts but it has grandeur of its own.
The temple consists of three parts namely garbhagriha, sabhamandapa and mukhamandapa. The basement consists of mouldings one of which is thicker and has ganas carved on it. The wall of the temple consists of pilasters at regular intervals. Nevertheless, the centre of the sabhamandapa has a koshtha which adorns an image of Vishnu and on both sides are rectangular pierced windows. Over this runs a thick eave and above it are some more moldings. The tower over the garbhagriha is a archetypal Dravidian sikhara and by its small size looks graceful. The mukhamandapa has four pillars supporting a flat roof. The two dvarapalas fully decorated are artistically superior with fine expressions and alert poses.
The southern wall has an image of Shiva holding a trident, and a serpent. In the interior of the sabhamandapa on the ceiling is an image of Vishnu on Garuda within a lotus medallion. The garbhagriha doorway is highly ornamental with trimmings of foliage, pilaster, floral designs with nagas on either side with mithuna sculptures. The lintel has Nataraja in miniature. Inside the garbhagriha is a linga.
An architect by name Aryaminchi Upadhyaya is the designer of this Malegitti Shivalaya as stated by an inscription. On stylistic justification, this temple is dated to the seventh century CE. The dire condition most other temples around Badami contrast with the reasonably finished Malegitti Shivalaya, which crowns on as secluded boulder beneath the western flank of the North fort, this temple also be dated to the first half of the 7th century and is of historical interest for its well-preserved carvings.
The internet has dramatically advanced the ways business can deliver products and services, and meet customer needs. However, while e-business has succeeded at leveraging technology to enhance business productivity, it has done little to enfranchise customers. Countless web sites that aim to provide a seamless shopping experience simply are not designed for the needs of the user. Customers needing support often have to abandon their shopping carts to get their questions answered. Many end up turning to the phone to get the information they need, or they just give up. Most e-businesses lack the human touch.
Customer needs will continue to change as technology plays a greater role in our lives. To be successful in the future, businesses will have to add the customer viewpoint into the equation, and seek to satisfy unmet customer needs. Rather than concentrating on e-business, companies will need to reorganize as c-businesses, orienting their operations around customer need sets across all channels and touch points, from the perspective of all products and services, and for each customer group, whether on the consumer level, small businesses, or large enterprises.
Six Drivers of Change in eCommerce
Let’s examine these emerging customer need sets, the drivers of change, and how certain businesses are prospering in the new c-business age.
Information overload. The Web has unleashed a plethora of information. The result of this easy access to information is that people are seeking knowledge in context. Presenting data in the context of the customer’s needs transforms it and makes it far more valuable. The financial services company USAA doesn’t inundate its clients with sales pitches and junk mail. It takes a highly targeted marketing approach based on major events in them customers’ lives. When you’re about to buy a house, have a baby, or send a child off to college, USAA will contact you with information about products and services tailored for these needs.
More choices. Today, there is a wider variety of goods and services than ever before. This surfeit of choices is leading people to demand more personalized service and customized goods. Look at cars. Henry Ford told his customers they could get a Model T “in any color you want, as long as it’s black.” The computer industry long took the same approach-only this time with beige. Apple changed the landscape with its iMac, providing consumers with true choice. But Mac enthusiasts still have a hard time getting options they want built right into their systems. Dell, on the other hand, customizes virtually every PC it sells to its customers’ specifications. As advances in technology and manufacturing make it easier for firms to tailor their offerings, customers will increasingly expect personalized service.
Automation. It has become possible for businesses to automate nearly every aspect of the customer interaction. This increase in automation leaves most of us with a yen for the human touch. But for corporations to deliver quality, human scale service, customers will need to make concessions in terms of privacy. Smart e-businesses will prove to their customers that these sacrifices will be worth it. Already, enterprises with good “corporate memory” are succeeding. Consider FedEx, which provides a reassuring presence by putting kiosks in the offices of their best customers. FedEx also provides real value through its Web site by letting customers track deliveries.
Pervasiveness. The pervasiveness of information and services is another driver of change. Having the capability to get whatever you want, whenever you want it is driving a need for control and integration. For example, we can get email on wireless handhelds, and order groceries online. However, is anybody helping people remember what’s supposed to be on their grocery shopping list? Webvan has made inroads in this area, but they still must overcome entrenched shopping habits. As these platforms develop, they provide resources essential for national growth and reduce the market inefficiencies that slow the pace of development.
New pricing models. A heightened awareness of value is the direct result of new pricing models and pressures. Customers don’t necessarily look for the best prices, but they do look for value. In the airline industry declines in service and fluid pricing models have made it difficult for people to determine what is and what isn’t a good deal. Companies that can clearly define their value proposition are having more success in meeting customer expectations and needs.
New entrants in the marketplace. New entrants can now establish themselves in the marketplace with relative ease. Barriers to entry are so much lower now that business can expand into new sectors virtually overnight. For customers, this leads to increased choices, but it also raises questions of trust. Customers look for clues that they can rely on their provider, which is why companies need to build trust through their online and offline presences.
Determine How You Can Deliver Better Attention, Choice, and Value in E-commerce
Lady Gaga is notorious for her distinct aesthetic, which can be labelled as a social fantasy that espouses much of Andy Warhol’s Pop Art visualization yet twists it to signify present-day anxieties. Her dynamic quest to produce the memorable and rejoice the mercurial emphasizes the degree to which pop phenomenon has been affected by a period of extraordinary connectivity among consumers and cultural creators.
Lady Gaga’s wide-eyed hope gradually eroded as she became the most famous artist of the last decade.
Starting tomorrow (June 13), Starbucks will donate 25 cents from each one of its colorful Cups of Kindness beverages sold at participating Starbucks® stores in the United States and Canada through June 19 to Born This Way Foundation. Funds raised will go toward programs that support youth wellness and empowerment by fostering kindness, improving mental health resources, and creating more positive environments.
“We’re healthier and happier when we live our lives with compassion and our communities are stronger when we treat one another with generosity and respect,” said Lady Gaga. “Born This Way Foundation and I are so excited to partner with Starbucks to help inspire positivity and love through the Cups of Kindness collection.”
The new Starbucks Cups of Kindness collection features four vivid iced beverages hand-picked by Lady Gaga, including the new Matcha Lemonade and Violet Drink. The refreshing, nondairy drinks come in a rainbow of colors and are all under 150 calories for a grande size.
“I adore the entire collection and I instantly fell in love with the Matcha Lemonade,” she said.
Born Stefani Germanotta, Lady Gaga is an avant-garde artist who makes the most of her art school background and combines aspects of performance, art, and fashion into a musical style that represents a distinctive multimedia melange philosophy.
Lady Gaga’s pursuit of a sustaining cultural presence responds to hypermodern pressures through her elaborate performances and dress experimentation, which are deployed to create visual impressions that are essentially tailor-made for the age of viral marketing and produce expectations of ever impressive spectacles. She supplements this approach by attempting to obviously link herself to categories of individual uniqueness.
New Matcha Lemonade: This vibrant green drink is made with finely ground Teavana® matcha green tea, combined with crisp lemonade then shaken with ice to create a refreshingly sweet, delicious drink.
New Violet Drink: The sweet blackberries and tart hibiscus of Very Berry Hibiscus Starbucks Refreshers™ Beverage swirl together with creamy coconutmilk and ice, creating a refreshing (and violet-hued) sip.
Ombre Pink Drink: A refreshing beverage that combines light, fruity Cool Lime Starbucks Refreshers™ Beverage with cool, creamy coconutmilk and a splash of Teavana® Shaken Iced Passion Tango™ Tea and a lime wheel, for a bright burst of hibiscus notes.
Pink Drink: A light and refreshing beverage that features the sweet strawberry flavors of Strawberry Acai Refreshers with accents of passion fruit and acai combined with coconutmilk, and topped with a scoop of strawberries. Included in Cups of Kindness collection in United States only.
By praising the “monster,” the “freak,” or the “misfit” in multiple expressions—not “fitting in” at school or being gay—Lady Gaga is able to build a sense of sociological connection among fans while the catch-all energy and dynamism of her music works to sustain mass appeal.
“Over the years we’ve admired the amazing work that Lady Gaga has led through Born This Way Foundation,” said Holly Hinton, director of Music and Artist Programming. “We are proud to introduce the Cups of Kindness collection to raise awareness and fund the Foundation’s efforts to spread kindness, support youth and make the world a better place.”
One program that will benefit from the Cups of Kindness initiative is Born This Way Foundation’s Channel Kindness, a platform featuring stories of kindness as documented by young people from around the United States. These youth reporters, ages 16 to 24, have been recruited to identify and document the acts of generosity, compassion, and acceptance that shape communities.
Starbucks has committed to a minimum $250,000 contribution to the Born This Way Foundation.
Lady Gaga will not permit qualified photographers near her when she performs, but she promotes her fans to take pictures and videos and publish them without restrictions on the internet. Even with her hit single, ‘Born This Way’, she appears to agonize less about copyright and more about fan devotion. When a ten-year-old Canadian teenager published her own adaptation of the song online, Lady Gaga watched it, admired it and encouraged the girl to perform with her before a live audience at some point. In ways like these, the star advances her followers over herself.
There is something heroic about the way my fans operate their cameras. So precisely, so intricately and so proudly. Like Kings writing the history of their people, is their prolific nature that both creates and procures what will later be perceived as the kingdom. So the real truth about Lady Gaga fans, my little monsters, lies in this sentiment: They are the Kings. They are the Queens. They write the history of the kingdom and I am something of a devoted Jester.
Lady Gaga’s new connection between performance and theory, pop culture and viewpoint is bolstering because it provides a source of sincerity, passion, and action, and a heart for mirroring on a mass produced sophistication that however has Lady Gaga’s genius to replicate bits of itself to itself in a cycle of disapproval that produces something new to say and show.
Credits: Corporate images from Starbucks’media website and Starbucks chalkboard images from Starbucks associates’Reddit posts
Many managers grapple to cope well with swift change. Some must work longer. Now what matters most to companies are such traits as flexibility, adaptability to change, and problem-solving capability. These changes in expectancies require a 180-degree shift in thinking.
Leaders must change themselves before they can be effective at leading change by example. The initiative achieved initial cost savings but hesitated as employees began to question the leadership team’s vision and dedication. Here’s a 6F model to describe how people respond to change.
The Foggies. They either work in a comparatively stable environment or they simply choose to ignore change. They are in a “fog” so to speak. The challenge for leaders is to communicate scrupulously to help everyone understand the business realities. The challenge for individuals is to stay up-to-date with trends and to take responsibility for managing their own futures. Individuals in this state mostly contemplate what is right for them individually, and they have trouble seeing the larger picture of what is right for the organization.
The Fakers. This group tries to convince themselves and others that they are with the “change program,” even though they have no intention of changing. They pay lip service to management and hope they can get away with just “talk” and no action. The fakers may want to change but don’t know how and are afraid to admit it. They do not internalize the change message. They may be more comfortable taking small, easy steps when faced with a change situation—first articulating how they feel about the change and what they can and will do.
The Faultless. They see the changes, don’t like them, complain, and see themselves as victims. They may blame their leaders. The problem with attributing blame for others to “fix” is that it doesn’t change anything. They must move to a model of shared responsibility and accept that there is no one individual or group to blame. They must assess their own situation, how they are responding, and take personal responsibility for what is in their control to change.
The Fearful. Downsizings, scandals, terrorism, mergers, and acquisitions cause many people in a constant state of fear. The fearful may engage in self-protectionist, cautious, even paranoid behavior as they try to avoid an undesired fate. To address problems, ask: “About what am I most afraid? What are the odds of this happening?” Often, our fears are irrational. Some say fear is: False Evidence Appearing Real. Identify the fear, then decide what to do to handle the challenges of the situation.
The Fighters. Those who fight for the status quo are typically long-term employees who protect tradition; those who fight for change often act as vanguards and are seen as firebrands. Status-quo fighters might say: “We have always done it this way” or “We tried that 20 years ago and it did not work.” Sometimes they use a faker approach to lead others to believe they agree with the changes; but they work behind the scenes to thwart new plans.
The Futurists. The futurists are adaptable, flexible, global in their thinking, experimental, and career-resilient. They have a high self-concept and believe themselves to be in control of their destinies. Futurists are not fearful because they believe in themselves and have a plan B and C when the current situation does not work out. They are ready for the unanticipated.
When external consultants are hired to fast-track change, these change agents usually encounter a resistant culture. The more they fight for change, the more the resistance. Many change fighters either bow out or get pushed out of the system. Leaders need to coach fighters.
Everybody responds to change differently. Leaders help people get in touch with their natural response to change and cope with how to go with the flow in the wake of new realities. For change to cascade down throughout the organization, groups and individuals inside the organization whose behaviors previously symbolize the desired state must be involved in the change process.
Change is tough; transformation is tougher still, whether it comprises an individual or an entire organization. By encountering reality and helping employees appreciate the necessity for change, leaders were able to encourage the organization to follow the new direction at the heart of the largest rationalizing in the company’s history. Communications emerge in from the bottom and out from the top, and are directed to make available to employees the appropriate information at the right time and to ask for their input and comments.
Most leaders contemplating change know that people matter. Full transparency is required. Change will come only when the people at the top look down and start insisting that others’ resources be handled like the scarce resource it is. The warnings of the urgent significances we face seem to be arriving with greater incidence and in ever more pressing rhetoric, but utilitarian progress is more objective than actuality.
The celebrated leadership authority and educator John Paul Kotter argued in opposition to the anthropomorphizing of the organization, insisting that it was not organizations which embraced perceptions but rather individuals within those organizations.
Kotter discussed the psychological contract as a coordinating of expectations, where matched expectations lead to higher employee contentment and less turnover. He explained misaligned expectations in terms of a “psychological contract.” He described this as “an implicit contract between an individual and the organization which specifies what each expects to give and receive from each other in a relationship.”
The notion of the psychological contract refers to the perceptions of reciprocal obligations to each other held by the two parties in the employment relationship—the organization and the employee. Such discernments may be the result of proper contracts, or they may be suggested by the hopes and beliefs which each holds of the other and which are communicated in a variety of subtle or not-so-subtle ways.
Allstate Insurance’s Written ‘Psychological Contract’
Terms of from Allstate’s Psychological Contract to the Employee
Offer work that is meaningful and challenging.
Promote an environment that encourages open and constructive dialogue.
Advise the employee of performance through regular feedback.
Create learning opportunities through education and job assignments.
Terms of from the Employee’s Psychological Contract to Allstate
Perform at levels that significantly increase the company’s ability to outperform the competition.
Take on assignments critical to meeting business objectives.
Willingly listen to and act upon feedback.
Take personal responsibility for each transaction with customers and for fostering their trust.
Psychological Contract and Open Communication
The psychological contract changes over time as the expectations of the employee and the organization change. With each change in expectations, open communication assists to keep both parties in alignment, or may lead to a common concurrence to renegotiate or break the contract.
The concept of the psychological contract has lately achieved significant notoriety in popular managerial texts in human resources discourse. This is for the reason that it offers an narrative of the reasons for the difficulties in the employment relationship presently being experienced by many organizations.
Nirvana is not a place, where one can expect facilities. We are deeply enmeshed in a world where materialistic postulations dominate, and it is not so facile to contravene the momentum of that paradigm. There is a way of checking through the answers of the old Zen Masters. You come to a recede with the desire to transform yourself.
In respect to its social and moral code, the German philosopher, Prof. Max Muller has said, “The Zen Buddhist moral code taken by it is one of the most perfect which the world has ever known.” This is why you should not look for something here you can take home with you. In fact, as you get into ever-deeper levels, you may be aware of the movement of your mind in the previous level, even if you are not aware of the movement at the present level. These are the highest states that can be attained from the practice of worldly dharma. It is not natural to tighten your stomach muscles or to straighten your back by protruding your chest. It is doubtful whether anyone really achieves health that does not responsibly choose to be healthy.
A person who has experienced oneness is different from a mundane person. Just do not have any doubts about the method or whether you have the “right stuff” to practice.
Zen Koan: “If You Love, Love Openly” Parable
Twenty monks and one nun, who was named Eshun, were practicing meditation with a certain Zen master.
Eshun was very pretty even though her head was shaved and her dress plain. Several monks secretly fell in love with her. One of them wrote her a love letter, insisting upon a private meeting.
Eshun did not reply. The following day the master gave a lecture to the group, and when it was over, Eshun arose. Addressing the one who had written to her, she said: “If you really love me so much, come and embrace me now.”
Buddhist Insight on New Beginnings
All men have their fragilities and new beginnings. And when you look at how authoritative our habits are, and how much we go to sleep, and how much the world really needs somebody to have the audacity to say “no” or “stop” or “wake up” or “live differently,” it becomes very compelling. The phenomenal world is the supported destructible inhabitants, sentient beings, within the destructible environment. The British meditation teacher Christina Feldman writes in The Buddhist Path to Simplicity,
Cultivating the beginner’s mind involves a leap of faith, a willingness to dive deeply into “not knowing.” The alternative is to be chained to a past we know too well and to perpetuate history in each moment of our lives. In each new beginning we learn the art of letting things be. The concepts, images, assumptions, conclusions, and judgments; we let them be. They are received, listened to, and embraced in a vastness of heart that invests no absolute truth in them. It is a great challenge, undertaken only one moment at a time. Who is more free, the person who travels through their life carrying their raft upon their head, or the person who can lay it down and walk on unencumbered? The lessons of joy and sorrow, contraction and vastness, imprisonment and freedom are learned in each moment we are willing to begin anew and be changed by those lessons. They are simple and profound. To begin anew, to see anew, is to discover joy and freedom.
To put these principles into action, leaders need a six-point agenda:
Get an early start. Before starting a new position, learn about the company’s history, culture, strategy, competitors, and learn the names and responsibilities of colleagues.
Meet and greet. Meet as many people as possible, especially the informal leaders or influencers. Tools such as email, voice mail, or the company newsletter are helpful, but should not replace face-to-face meetings. Many leaders get too caught up in pleasing the boss, or in solving problems, at the expense of those who will execute the changes. Making time to listen to even the most disgruntled employees will pay off in more trust and connection.
Learn the critical success factors. Identify areas where the most impact or improvement can be made. Focus on one or two, ask a lot of questions, get input from key opinion-makers, and when make recommendations, back them up. Also learn what is going well, and how to leverage those areas by building continuity from the old to the new.
Set clear priorities. At the start of any new role, you need to decipher what is important, and what is not. And then constantly reassess the message. In developing your top priorities and vision, you will gain a dear focus, demonstrate credibility, and establish a clear cause for people below to rally behind. Make sure to involve key people, as they will offer more support for what they helped create.
Secure early wins. During the first 100 days, a leader wants people to feel that something is different, something good is happening. Celebrate some early successes to gain the confidence of followers. To secure early wins, first identify problems that can be tackled and solved quickly, and whose solutions will yield highly visible results. These few small wins will also demonstrate competence and consistency that provides the trust for larger initiatives.
Plant seeds for the future. The momentum that began with small wins must be leveraged to support your longer-range vision of the future. Small change is easy, but transformational change will require coalitions of support. By including a few key individuals in your planning, you will build “referent trust” that will cascade to a broader audience as you move forward.