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Materialism and the Early Materialists

Materialism

Materialism is the idea that nothing exists independently of the material or physical world.

Many ancient thinkers appeal to supernatural or extranatural entities in order to account for certain features of the natural world. Materialists, however, deny the existence of any non-natural events, entities, or forces.

Early materialists include the Greek atomists, Democritus (c. 460-c. 370 BCE) and Leucippus (fl. early fifth century BCE), who argued that the world consists of nothing but atoms in empty space (even the soul was thought to be composed of atoms), and Epicurus (341-270 BCE), who postulated that the atoms move only in an up-down direction.

The significance of materialism is typically found in discussions of philosophical questions, such as how to account for the properties of objects and how to explain consciousness. For example, while Plato (c. 424-c. 348 BCE) sought to explain why, say, two blue objects look exactly the same by arguing that they participate in pre-existing (ante rem) universals, Aristotle (384-322 BCE) argued that all universals are present in existing objects (in re), and was thus a materialist about properties. However, both men seem to appeal to an immaterial divine being to explain the origin of physical reality, and to an immaterial soul to explain consciousness. Thus, it was deemed possible to be a materialist about some things and not others.

The comprehensive materialism of the sort defended by the atomists gained popularity in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as advancements in science reduced the apparent need for extra-natural explanations, and pluralism in mathematics challenged the idea of a unique, Platonic reality of mathematical forms. More recently, advancements in our understanding of the brain have undermined older appeals to immaterial substances or properties to explain consciousness, but they have also served to highlight the limitations of materialism.

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Posted in Investing and Finance Philosophy and Wisdom

Everyone is a Self-made Person, but Only the Successful Admit it

The Fundamental Desire of Life is the Desire to Exist

Desire of Life is the Desire to Exist In the orchestration of our existence, our own efforts play only a small part. We live and have our being because we have inherited from successive generations all kinds of assets of body as well as of mind. From the moment we are born, a world we did not make is at our disposal, to furnish as the tools with which we begin shaping our destiny. The inconvenience that is taken in attending to tidiness, order, and temperance, never fails to be rewarded with a healthy ship’s company, to the great gratification and individual comfort of the commander, and the dreadful vantage of the public service.

Our assets are, however, not only the gifts of man and his world. They are also the gifts of a beneficent Creator. He has enriched the fruits of heredity with all kinds of additional endowments, which make us original creations, unique personalities, capable of carrying life into new directions. In addition, it is the Creator Who performs afresh the miracle of birth from the seeds of immortality, which He has planted in all His creatures.

What we make of all these gifts is our achievement, but when we sing the saga of our lives, other voices than our own join in to create the mighty harmony. Nevertheless, before we enter into a minute representative of the style in which vision is performed, we must explain more circumstantially the nature of light itself, which thus make the eye open of seeing.

Let no one claim then that he is a self-made man. No man can make himself, any more than a tree can. Such a claim is born of blindness, and it is the source of conceit and arrogance. A man whose eyes have been opened to the wonder of life knows that his existence is a privilege, a blessing, a gift. Moreover, he feels due humility.

It will break free of all thralldoms and present itself. You cannot suppose how much they were both ridiculed for their discernment. It does not punctuate the opposite qualities of yielding, letting go and relinquishing. The dance band had arrived, set up, and done sound checks during the later afternoon, so that when the music started it would be passable.

The Destination of Life is Not to Win

The Destination of Life is Not to Win The first rule is to retrench one-third part from the flesh eaten at dinner; of whatever kind that is. If we did not use our agency to receive and act on what others have done for us, we would not have benefited. Russell Means, the prominent activist for the rights of Native American people, wrote in For America to Live, Europe Must Die,

Humans are the weakest of all creatures, so weak that other creatures are willing to give up their flesh that we may live. Humans are able to survive only though the exercise of rationality since they lack the abilities of other creatures to gain food through the use of fang and claw.

But rationality is a curse since it can cause human beings to forget the natural order of things in ways other creatures do not. A wolf never forgets his or her place in the natural order. American Indians can. Europeans almost always do. We pray our thanks to the deer, our relations, for allowing us their flesh to eat; Europeans simply take the flesh for granted and consider the deer inferior. After all, Europeans consider themselves Godlike in their rationalism and science. God is the Supreme Being; all else must be inferior.

It is a reality we perceive to be impelled by a series of events we are caught up in, within which we live and look for happiness, but which, in truth, is a rat race to nowhere. The key difference of opinion between a list post and a how-to post is that readers do not demand to abide by the list from start to end: they can dip in and use those points that seem most applicable to their own state of affairs. Consequently, these issues are substantial. The outcome of such methods is but unappealing.

The destination of life is not to win. The intention of life is to grow and to share. When you come to look back on all that you have done in life, you will get more satisfaction from the joy you have brought into other people’s lives that you will from the times that you surmount and overwhelmed them.

A person of understanding will never be arrogant. He will always walk humbly with his God. His was a humble plan, and worked a little.

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Posted in Investing and Finance Philosophy and Wisdom

Secrets of the Self-Made Billionaires

Secrets of the Self-Made Billionaires In examining the Forbes’ list of the wealthiest, one is astonished by the concentration of so much wealth in so few hands. Such excessive inequality is indeed bothersome: because not only it is an ethical outrage but also it is undercutting growth and creating one of the most significant hurdles to ending poverty.

Observe the “humble beginnings” of many on the Forbes lists. Much of the self-made fortunes are ascribable to vibrant entrepreneurial capitalism. Few become billionaires by exploiting others … most get rich through millions of happy customers.

Intersting Trivia About the Forbes’ Billionaires List

  • Of the Forbes’ billionaires, John Paul DeJoria, Richard Branson, and Leonardo Del Vecchio never attended college. Ross Perot attended community college.
  • Many individuals going to great lengths to keep their finances discreet. Public companies are required to disclose information. Private companies can be trickier. Forbes calculates net worth by trying to determine the value of every asset and use only what they can prove. They also always give the billionaire a chance to provide input.
  • There are possibly many billionaires that aren’t on the list, whether due to secrecy or lack of evidence. It’s hard to amass that much money and hide its source or where it’s parked without drawing attention.

Secrets of the Self-Made Billionaires

  • President Donald Trump’s contrarian advice: “Screw ‘em back. If someone screws you, nail them to the wall.”
  • Telecommunications mogul Kenny Troutt‘s hardest lesson he had to learn: “Money does not buy happiness.”
  • Media proprietor and investor Mortimer Zuckerman‘s greatest guilty pleasure: “There used to be guilt associated with most of my pleasures and now there is none.”
  • Media proprietor and investor Mortimer Zuckerman on the correct amount to leave to children: “Enough to support them, but not enough to leave them without ambition.”
  • Banker Sanford Weill‘s hardest lesson he had to learn: “Recognizing a problem and addressing it right away before it becomes a bigger problem.”
  • Sports promoter O. Bruton Smith‘s contrarian advice: “Hard work overcomes a lot of incompetence. You can talk about trying to be highly qualified with an MBA and all of that, but hard work seems to overcome so many negatives in life.”
  • Investor and money manager Ken Fisher‘s hardest lesson he had to learn: “That others usually don’t see me as I see myself.”
  • Retail entrepreneur John Catsimatidis‘s hardest lesson he had to learn: “Some people may just not like you for no reason at all.”
  • American attorney Joseph Jamail Jr.‘s contrarian advice: “Don’t trust politicians who are convinced they have the answer and who say “trust me.””
  • Sports team owner Michael Heisley‘s greatest guilty pleasure: “Stealing an hour or two to be completely alone and not reachable.”
  • Sports team owner Michael Heisley‘s hardest lesson he had to learn: “Wealth is one of the most corrupting influences in my life.”
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Posted in Investing and Finance

Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum in Thal, Austria—Amazing Unknown Destinations

Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum Outdoor

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Austria

Arnold Schwarzenegger was born in Styria, Austria, in 1947 lived in Thal until 1965. His father, Gustav, a often drunk local police chief who had signed up for the Nazi party subsequent the 1938 Anschluss, apparently made no secret of his preference for the more well-built of his two sons, Arnold’s step-brother Meinhardt. (Arnold later did not attend the funerals of his brother and dad.)

Outdoor Statue Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum

Mandatory national service forced Arnold Schwarzenegger to work in the Austrian army for a year. His ambitions, however, had been set on a bodybuilding career since he was 14. In due course, he eventually made his way to London in 1966 for the Mr. Universe contest, in which he was placed second. In 1968, he emigrated to the United States, and began his long march from a penniless immigrant to a Hollywood star and later the Governor of Califonia.

Home Exercise Machine of Arnold Schwarzenegger at Geburtshaus Museum

Arnold Schwarzenegger Desk of Governor of California at Geburtshaus Museum

Wendy Leigh, author of Arnold: An Unauthorized Biography, says Schwarzenegger plotted his political rise from an early age, using body-building and films as stepping stones to escape from a depressing home. Leigh describes Schwarzenegger as obsessed with the pursuit of power and quotes him as saying: “I wanted to be part of the small percentage of people who were leaders, not the large mass of followers. I think it is because I saw leaders use 100% of their potential… I was always fascinated by people in control of other people.”

Terminator Machine at Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum

Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum Kitchen

Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum in Thal, Austria

In 2011, a museum dedicated to the life and work of actor-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger opened in the actor-politician’s home village of Thal, near Graz, in Austria. It is here that he first began pumping iron as a boy.

Hasta La Vista Baby with Motorcycle at Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum

Thumbs Up Seal of California at Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum

The modest but interesting Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum is located in the first-floor apartment where Schwarzenegger lived as a boy with his Nazi police officer-father Gustav, mother Aurelia, and stepbrother Meinhard. Schwarzenegger’s early life was modest, without electricity and just a pit toilet. Several of Schwarzenegger’s personal items from his childhood and teenage years are on display. These artifacts include Arnold’s bed and his first weight-training equipment. Visitors can also inspect life-size statues of Schwarzenegger as he appeared in the Pumping Iron (1977) documentary and the Terminator series of movies.

  • Opening Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM mostly
  • Location: Linakstrasse 9, Thal bei Graz 8051, Austria

The museum is situated in the home where he spent some of his you and as such it is out in the rolling hills nearby Graz. A very tranquil little village and house which has now been converted in the museum. Each room has a story about a phase of his life from growing up, weightlifting, movies, politics, etc. Lots of photos and memorabilia completes the exhibit. The museum is worth the drive and visit to see some of the surrounding area on the way to the museum as well.

Hole in a Toilet at Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum

Picture of Infant Arnold Schwarzenegger at Geburtshaus Museum

Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Invincible

Arnold was successful in America as a bodybuilder, however, he wanted more. He had his breakthrough with the film “Stay Hungry” (Mr. Universum) in spite of his strong accent and his foreign sounding name. For the film “Stay Hungry” he was distinguished with a Golden Globe as the best newcomer. Through the “Terminator” trilogy he garnered worldwide fame and earnings in the double-digit millions. Then, with “Twins” and “Kindergarten Cop” he managed yet another transition from the action genre to comedy. However, what few know about Arnold Schwarzenegger is that, besides his ambitious career as a Hollywood star, he also graduated with a university degree in the field of economics and earned his first million as a successful businessman before his Hollywood career had ever begun.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Fitness Equipment at Geburtshaus Museum

Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor of California at Geburtshaus Museum

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Famous Quotes from His Movies

  • “I’ll be back” (Schwarzenegger catchphrase, from Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1992))
  • “Hasta la vista, baby” (also from Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1992))
  • “You’re not sending me to the cooler.” (Schwarzenegger played Mr Freeze in Batman and Robin (1997))
  • “Please God, gimme strength” (in his unsuccessful thriller End of Days(1999))

Dining Room Area at Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum

Upon becoming the governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger declined to take the salary of Governor and travelled around in private jets on his own expense.

Arnold Schwarzenegger holds dual citizenship of U.S.A and Austria. He became a U.S citizen on September 17, 1973. He had asked the Austrian government to maintain his Austrian citizen status too, to which they agreed.

Wax Statue of Body Builder at Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life emulates the life of fictional character “Conan the Barbarian.” Conan who was born in a small village and due to years of oppression grows into a physically commanding man. After becoming celebrated as a gladiator he spoils in women and wine. Later he rejects that life and performs great feats and ultimately is crowned King.

First Set of Weights of Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum

After Arnold Schwarzenegger had started lifting weights as a teenager, he observed that his body was becoming unbalanced. His arms, shoulders and chest were growing well, but his calves and lower legs weren’t coming along as he wanted. To encourage himself to work harder on his calves, he cut off all of his pants (trousers) at the knee. Walking around like that, people would look at (and maybe even laugh at) the big man with ‘chicken’ legs. It worked.

Living Room with Muscle Man at Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum

Only a few months after departing office as Governor of California, Schwarzenegger made another proclamation. He and Maria Shriver made their choice to separate public in May. The news followed Schwarzenegger’s acceptance that he’d fathered a baby with a member of the family’s domestic staff. Schwarzenegger and Shriver have four children: Katherine, Christina, Patrick, and Christopher.

Bedroom Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum

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Posted in Travels and Journeys

Arnold Schwarzenegger Rejects the Idea of a Self-Made Man

'Total Recall' by Arnold Schwarzenegger (ISBN 1849839735) Actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s story has an inspiring premise. The son of Austrian police officer who was a Nazi party member, he moved to New York in the early 1968 to further his career as a body-builder and winning six Mr. Olympia body-building tournaments. In the intervening time, he put himself through business school at the University of Wisconsin Madison, invested in real estate, and parlayed his passion with fitness into a lucrative video- and book-sales company.

Schwarzenegger may have remained a businessperson if not for the success of the documentary Pumping Iron (1977) which transformed him into a minor celebrity and planted the seeds of his Hollywood aspirations. It wasn’t he played a 74-word part in an obscure sci-fi film called Terminator (1984) that he finally became a star.

Even after Arnold Schwarzenegger’s long march from a penniless immigrant to a Hollywood star and later the Governor of California, he declares that the notion of the self-made man is a myth. He states that we must all help each other because no one can get anywhere on their own.

I came over here with absolutely nothing. I had $20 in the pocket and some sweaty clothes in a gym bag. But let me tell you, I had this one little apartment and on Thanksgiving, the bodybuilders from Gold’s Gym came to my apartment and they brought me pillows, dishes, silverware, all of the things I didn’t have. None of us can make it alone. None of us. Not even the guy that is talking to you right now, who was the greatest body builder of all times. Not even me, that has been the Terminator and went back in time to save the human race. Not even me that fought and that killed predators with his bare hands.

I always tell people that you can call me anything that you want, but don’t ever, ever call me a self-made man. It gives the wrong impression, that we can do it alone. None of us can. The whole concept of the self-made man or woman is a myth. I would have never made it in my life without the help. So this is why I don’t beileve in a self-made man. Why I want you to understand that is, because as soon as you understand that you are here because of a lot of help, then you also understand that now it’s time to help others. That’s what this is all about.

Source: Arnold Schwarzenegger—Together on the Goalcast Podcast

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Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

Seven Principles for Meeting Deadlines

Seven Principles for Meeting Deadlines In meeting deadlines, top performers apply seven key principles. This change management is not intended simply to permit the company to endure a few more years—it is proposed to set the company on a path to greater success and thus virtuous jobs for those who remain.

Another is that a blindly optimistic self-explanatory style of deadlines might actually promote a reduction in effort as we might not try as hard if we believe our ability eliminates the need. For the following reasons, I consider this behavior neither compassionate nor moral.

Principle #1 for Meeting Deadlines: Schedules are Sacrosanct

Task teams express a reverence for “the schedule” as the single most important deadline management tool, even though people search for more colorful, personality-driven keys to victory. But it is precisely its implacability that makes a schedule so stable, incorruptible, and enforceable. Amendments to schedule can’t be made capriciously. Changes should be rare, even agonizing, since each adjustment threatens to compress the final stages. Schedules become impersonal enforcement tools, because they do not respond to appeal. The manager can say, “It’s not me—it’s the schedule that’s pushing us all, and we need to keep pace.”

Schedules are not dreamed up by distant executives who then hand them down to task teams, along with deadline dates. All long-term projects are guided by realistic, believable, timelines that benefit from the insight and input of those doing the work. Schedules codify the ambition and enable synergy.

Within each timeline, milestones are set—and celebrated as they are met. These mini-deadlines make the program more manageable, attainable, and comprehensible those who are focused on their part. When milestones are in jeopardy of not being met, alarm bells go off in the minds of project managers and team leaders. All are affected by slippage along the critical path. A milestone won’t be “bumped” unless, and until, the team knows why it is in jeopardy. Allowing more time won’t necessarily correct the process. Margins of time and budget are factored into each schedule and managed by the teams.

Principle #2 for Meeting Deadlines: Partnering

Deadlines involving major, long-term projects are met jointly; the distance between customer and those who serve are bridged in the interest of expediency. Leaders see that their races against time must be run in unison.

While companies discover many rewards in the closer relationships and find that the doors of communication, once opened, are difficult to close, their original motivation is often to save time. “Business as usual” won’t suffice under the conditions of a major deadline. Competitive companies need each other to win. Deadlines are often joint ventures, since few organizations can go it alone. Even global industrial leaders depend on the unstinting cooperation of customers and suppliers to bring their projects in on time. Conversely, much is expected of them. Reciprocation is possible by modifying billing and payment practices, or by waving long-standing bureaucratic requirements, or by re-routing time-consuming communication paths, or by modeling teams to reflect those of the partner. Customers and contractors like feeling part of the delivery process.

Principle #3 for Meeting Deadlines: Willingness to Accept Risk

Meeting Deadlines: Willingness to Accept Risk Deadlines involve risk. The risks inherent in these projects are not accepted by swashbucklers who revel in danger but by serious professionals who seek ways to reduce the risk—by preparing backup plans, brainstorming creative solutions, and even taking out insurance policies. The risk is accepted, then reduced, to improve the odds to succeed, to make a profit, or to reduce casualties. The willingness to take a chance defines an organization in ways a thousand ads cannot. Word gets around. Companies and individuals who take on risk, and prevail, develop reputations as giant killers.

Something in the nature of “risky” operations binds teammates together. The “sink or swim” mentality of great teams is responsible for innovations that bring their projects in on time. Participating in these deadlines is not simply another day at the office for those involved; these are adventures. Those who pass through the whitewater of a serous deadline can look back on the “nervous time” with a nostalgic pride. “Risk” creates common cause, even more than “reward.” Lackadaisical groups will suddenly become focused and serous once risk is introduced.

Principle #4 for Meeting Deadlines: Company Men and Women

Challenging deadlines are met most successfully by “company men and women” whose most obvious credential is tenure (average of 25 years of service). No one looks forward to retirement (in fact, they seem to dread the day), and all seem to thrive on the formidable tasks assigned to them. While those people are ambitious, success seems to be measured less by personal recognition and more by participation on a job well done. None of them are coy about their futures with the company. “I love it here,” and other expressions of affection and loyalty are heard frequently. Company men and women are usually portrayed as obstacles to bold, forward-thinking newcomers, but they are precisely the people you want tasked with a significant deadline. They are less likely to look on a project as a feather in their caps and more likely to factor in the long-term interests of the company and of the customer (which are complementary).

If you don’t have tried-and-true employees with years of service, entrust deadlines to employees who are sincerely interested in a career with the company. Team players who distinguish themselves by helping others are prime candidates, as are those who demonstrate a real concern for customer satisfaction. Managers must take an active role with a team of fresh faces and lead by example, in creating a sense of mission so compelling that the team will be carried in their wake.

Wise managers assume that peak performers are always being courted by the competition, and could, without proper attention, be gone in the blink of an eye.

Principle #5 for Meeting Deadlines: Family Outreach

The popular stereotype of an executive who sacrifices family for career is somewhat of a contradiction, because, clearly, business success is not sustainable without a strong emotional base. A hard-driving executive plagued by personal problems, distracted by divorce proceedings or custody battles, can’t focus on the job at hand—and may even exacerbate his or her situation by finding a comfort of sorts in alcohol or drugs.

The wise manager recognizes the importance of family and finds ways to involve the “other half” of the deadline team and to enlist their support in the pursuit of the deadline.

When George H. Bush announced the beginning of the first Gulf War in 1990 a cheer was reported at a professional basketball game, and it was to enter into it with anything other than a heavy heart. I know now why that cheer went up, though. The spirit of abstraction.

Leverage the tasks you want to do by withholding them until your more odious tasks are completed first. That way, desirable tasks become a motivating reward.

Principle #6 for Meeting Deadlines: Making it Easy for the Customer

Legal and human resources constrictions counteract names from being released until the selection is complete and the official communications and severance packages are ready. Employees know the moment is coming, but little else.

Meeting Deadlines: Making it Easy for the Customer Thinking in terms of the customer’s deadline and of ways to facilitate the up-line obligations to yet another level of customers or end users is characteristic of great companies. Great organizations never lose sight of the big picture, which includes the customer meeting its own deadline. Great conversations are like anything. Success is usually not an accident. It’s planned. Each company has a reputation as a dependable azlly who will not let the customer fail. That’s true, but letting people go is far easier from a legal standpoint if you’ve established and documented a strong case for why a particular employee doesn’t fit with your culture—and exactly what that means.

Principle #7 for Meeting Deadlines: Willingness to Ramp Up

Most teams have to ramp up to meet their deadlines. It isn’t as if they can meet their challenges the way they are. The challenges they accept are complicated by the steps that need to be taken to meet each deadline—and yet they are not intimidated by the deadlines, nor by the requirements to meet them.

Definitely, we can imagine naysayers. But, the decisions of senior management to accept the challenges have positive repercussions. Organizations are transformed by the requirements to meet the challenges they willingly accept.

Authorize them to communicate and lead, not to just passively watch their departments be clipped without a rationale.

Conclusion: Seven Principles for Meeting Deadlines

Meeting deadlines strongly influences our ability to be happy Those involved in setting the deadline feel driven by the schedule, but they are not emotionally overwhelmed. That’s not strong enough, and it’s not quantifiable. By most quantitative standards, the employee is doing great work. In fact, enforced schsedules offer a sense of relief: You then know exactly what must be done daily to be victorious, and even when “off schedule,” you know what must be done to get back on track. Deadline busters willingly bow to the Schedule God, obeying the truest guide to victory in the race against time.

What it is, therefore, matters a great deal, for studies show that what we choose to meet deadlines strongly influences our ability to be happy. Pursuing meeting deadlines, for example, actually tends to decrease our happiness in the long run. Pursuing altruistic goals, on the other hand, is one of the few things that actually increases it.

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Posted in Life Hacks and Productivity Management and Leadership

Tap the Power of Your Viral Customers

Viral Customers are Your Brand Ambassadors

Viral Customers are Your Brand Ambassadors Whether you are aware of it or not, customers are talking about you this very minute. They are offering opinions, trading experiences, and influencing other customers about you—your company, products, services, and reputation.

Welcome to the world of the “viral customer,” the turbocharged version of the word-of-mouth customer. If you’re not aware of your company’s viral customers, you need to be. If you haven’t geared your company to their growing influence, you had better start now. These talkative, influential customers will play a critical role in the future of your marketing schemes, loyalty programs, customer service efforts, public relations outreach, brand management, privacy policies, and bottom line.

The Internet has created a generation of so-called “viral customers.” Viral customers can be champions or destroyers. They can talk trash about you or trumpet your worth. Which route they take depends on you.

  • If customers are happy with their encounters with you, they are likely to tell lots of their friends. In essence, they become viral ambassadors who will rave about your company to others to create a gush of goodwill. These ambassadors can be valuable, low-cost avenues for building existing relationships, recruiting new customers and keeping old customers happy for life.
  • But if customers are not satisfied, watch out. So-called “viral rebels” can destroy your products, brands, and reputation as they share negative experiences. Moreover, at the moment of negative feedback, they’re likely to be in a “switch mode,” ready to find someone else to satisfy them in ways that your company hasn’t or won’t.

Are you paying attention to what your own viral customers are saying and doing? We’ve found that some companies and industries are more “viral” than others. Customers are much more likely to pass along opinions to others about insurance firms, health maintenance companies, utilities, banks, long-distance and wireless telephone companies, mail delivery services, Internet service providers and auto manufacturers.

What’s at stake is more than the lifetime value of a single customer. Everyone in the viral rebel’s sphere of influence is also at stake, because even though the original customer may walk away from you, he or she is not necessarily finished. The bad-mouthing continues. Suddenly, one person’s negative encounter becomes everyone’s shared experience, and you’re left to pick up the pieces, re-establish ties, win confidence, and regain long-term loyalty.

Some Brands and Issues are More Viral Than Others

Some Brands and Issues are More Viral Than Others Certain brands elicit highly viral customer buzz. Billing issues typically fly off the virility chart. Other hot-button issues involve safety among automakers, baggage claim among airlines, customer service at e-commerce sites, hygiene at restaurants, and staff attitude at retail stores.

If you listen to your viral customers, you will know whether your marketing budget is based on the correct assumptions. You’ll be able to apply one-to-one marketing principles to customer feedback, making your customer insight even richer and more robust. You will know which brands are working. You’ll know your company customer service record, because you will have real-time feedback from the customers. You will identify trouble spots or opportunities well in advance, enabling you to take advantage of positive feedback or stop negative feedback before it explodes.

As you analyze the customer insight you receive, you become wiser and more adaptable, smarter and better able to react, respond, and retool. You start giving customers what they want—easy and convenient communication. They want to be heard. They want to help others, and they want a forum that fits their propensity to rant or rave.

In a world governed by customer insight, all feedback is gold and every complaint is a gift. Raw data guides us, but insight that has quality and meaning enlightens us. Anticipation beats perspiration, and the only way to know what is around the next bend is to pay attention to the curve as it develops.

Here’s five things you can do to tap the power of viral customers:

  • Identify them. Viral customers communicate with you frequently by e-mail, letter or phone. They send copies to others, are passionate or emotional about their experiences and are among the first to try new products or services.
  • Make communication easy. Offer as many ways as possible for customers to get in touch with you-a toll-free phone number, Web-site e-mail address, third-party feedback service, street address or special mailing address.
  • Respond quickly. Respond quickly and in the same fashion. Be empathetic.
  • Mine the negative comments. Respond decisively so that the customer decides to remain in your camp. Don’t give a reason to bolt to the competition.
  • Build the relationship. Add communicative customers to a preferred-customer list. Extend special offers, ask their input on new products and services, and ask how you can improve the relationship. The more you integrate the relationship, the stronger it will be.
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Posted in Business and Strategy Management and Leadership

Putting Your Creativity to Work and Improving the Bottom Line

Fostering Creativity at Work

Fostering Creativity at Work When the going gets tough, many companies cut costs, cling to tradition, and stay under radar. Such reaction is short-sighted. There are lessons to be learned from companies like HP, Virgin, Disney, and other innovators who not only stay the course through uncertainty, but excel. The most innovative companies don’t take cover—they get going. They embrace creativity and innovation in both good times and tough times.

Creativity helps us reinvent when faced with opportunity and survive when faced with challenges. Creative people find new solutions and enjoy a timeless advantage.

What characterizes a company? Its people, process, values, size, resources—or maybe it’s an unorthodox approach to business.

Few companies even begin to embrace the power of creativity and reinvention. Yet we see bold possibilities. We see signs of a new era where creativity drives the bottom line—where business escapes tradition and embraces new practices that nurture the cultural creative mindset.

A Time for Unleashing Your Creativity at Work

Rule-breakers tend to be the more nimble upstarts.

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, said: “Today business is about the resiliency of ideas. It’s about rallying people and the ideas of people.” Companies don’t simply want to make a better product; they want to dramatically transform their culture to lead their industry. The best organizations are committing more people, resources, time and money to increasing creativity and innovation. It’s a smart investment.

Look at Eli Lilly. Instead of churning constantly inside the company to generate new ideas, they’ve reinvented scientific research and created a free market of ideas. The company founded Inno-Centive, a web-based community of problem-solvers and solution-seekers. They tap scientific minds worldwide to create solutions for financial reward.

Success can no longer be sustained with incremental improvements; we must find new sources of growth to leap forward in much wider measure.

Why is Creativity Important in the Workplace: Creativity and the Bottom Line

Creativity and the Bottom Line Although it is difficult to measure creativity’s impact on the bottom line, we see that four benchmarks make or break the bottom line:

  1. Profitability. A creative company produces more great ideas that impact the bottom line. Better product = sales; efficient method = savings; better service = more customers. Hanes recognized this when they reinvented the T-shirt. The Hanes Tagless Tee shirt is the first innovation in the industry in 10 years.
  2. Industry leadership. Leading companies innovate for the long-term. They are visionary, looking at the future with a wide lens. Today’s rapid pace of change means companies can no longer deliver the same products and services in the same way for long. As technology services evolved, IBM, Compaq, and Intel all had to transform their business models. Fox News helped reinvent the cable news industry, repositioning itself as a lively, in-your-face opinion page. And it became the number-one cable news outlet. Innovate or get left behind.
  3. Retention. A more creative culture equates to happier employees. Creative companies embrace more humanistic values, like leadership support, risk tolerance, individual expression, and intrinsic motivation. Peter Coy, Business Week columnist, writes: “In the Creative Economy, the most important intellectual property isn’t software or music or movies. It’s the ideas inside employees’ heads. Leaders create an environment that makes the best people want to stay.”
  4. Motivation. When people feel their ideas are valued they contribute more to the company. Creative companies have a people-first approach, embracing attributes like autonomy and personal challenge. Winnebago discovered this with their innovation program. Every Friday, Winnebago CEO Bruce Hertzke hands out dividend-savings checks and has his photo taken with employees who have made revenue or savings suggestions. Over 10,300 ideas have been implemented, and employees have received $500,000 for their ideas. Employee creativity saved the company $5.5 million in the first year alone. Yet people are primarily motivated by intrinsic reward.

Leaders must balance financial rewards with recognition, rewarding work, and enrichment from the culture. Brainstorming is just one technique. It even has variants. Such methods can be useful in creating food for thought. Also has the advantage of including staff and encouraging an innovative thinking environment—if done well.

Finally, let’s not forget basic business survival. Creativity is required to innovate but it’s also necessary to keep the pipeline full and move forward.

Fostering Creativity at Work: The Ultimate Measure of Value

Executives who are committed to increasing creativity and innovation must first accept this universal rule: Creativity requires a new mindset, which is produced only from cultural transformation.

Leaders must accept that development of human capital requires a greater investment than other types of capital—in terms of money, time, and commitment. The ultimate measure of a company’s value is its people. In creativity, everything comes down to people. Dick Brown, CEO of EDS, puts it this way: “Most business leaders are more comfortable with numbers. While I am very numbers-focused, you can’t change a business with numbers. Numbers are the end result. You change a business by changing the behavior of its people.”

Yet it’s not enough to hire a few creative people or hold an off-site meeting in hopes of finding an innovation “quickfix.” Leaders must rebuild the culture, align the systems, and develop the knowledge of the company. Leaders must care for, nurture, and sustain the culture. They must rediscover their child-like imagination, find their passion, surprise people, and be a little unorthodox.

Guiding Strategies for Enhancing Creativity at Work

Strategies for Enhancing Creativity at Work Here are some strategies to guide the creative leader:

  • Nurture creativity from the top down and bottom up by finding champions in the ranks of junior positions and senior executives.
  • Encourage “skinned knees” by developing a risk-tolerant culture that values the mindset of creativity and rewards both behavior and results.
  • Enact intrinsic and extrinsic rewards for creativity that value the balance of knowledge and imagination.
  • Redesign structures to allow for free flow of ideas. Divisions often work differently from one another. Create venture groups, autonomous communities, and flexible innovation processes.
  • Allow employees to venture out and learn about the world they serve. Many innovations fail because people don’t understand the customer.
  • Create new ways of learning and reward it. Jack Welch says, “You raise the collective intellect by learning, sharing learning, and acting on that learning.”
  • Increase accountability and recognition for breakthrough ideas that create new sources of growth.
  • Create a new language for creativity that infuses the culture with fresh, simple, goal-focused vernacular.
  • Walk the talk. Deliver on the vision and promises through committed action. Redesign performance measurement and talent management in line with innovation.
  • Surprise people. Do new things in new ways and be curious, energetic, passionate, and open-minded. Use this research as the basis for highly focused idea-generation sessions.

The most creative companies aren’t always the cutest companies. Creativity does not equal whimsy—or any other idiosyncrasy of the extinct dot-com cultures. Fun is an important part of it; people can’t be inspired when they’re bored in tedium. Yet creativity is so much more. In fact, it’s really hard work. The common thread is that inspiration strikes people in different ways at different, and often unexpected, times.

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Posted in Business and Strategy Leaders and Innovators

Tips for Mentors and Mentees

Tips for Being a Great Mentor

Mentorship Experience: Bill Gates and Warren Buffett Having a great mentor can do wonders for your professional development and career. Describe what you’ve learned from them and how those skills will help your career going forward. Don’t focus on the relationship’s inadequacies—accentuate the positive. Effective mentorship takes time. Mentors trade away hours they could use to chase their own career goals and spend them on someone else’s.

  • Mentoring is about instituting a partnership that helps your protege learn. It is not about your being an expert or the authority.
  • Great mentors foster discovery, they don’t coach; thought-provoking questions are much more powerful than smart answers.
  • Your protege will learn more if you create a association that is safe and comfortable. Be authentic, open, and sincere.
  • Your rank or position is your greatest obligation—act more like a friend than a boss.
  • Great listening comes from genuine curiosity and obvious attentiveness.
  • Give feedback with a strong focus on the future, not a heavy rehash of the past.
  • Mentoring is not just about what you say in a mentoring session; it is also about how you support your protege after the session. Focus on helping your protege transfer learning back to the workplace.
  • If your mentoring relationship is not working like you hoped it would, clearly communicate your apprehensions to your protege.
  • Mentoring relationships are intended to be temporary. When your protege has met his or her mentoring goals, be willing to let the relationship end.

Tips for Being a Great Mentee

How to Make the Most of a Mentorship Experience The best mentors avoid overriding the dreams of their mentees. If an employee and a job aren’t a good fit, or if an ambitious employee realistically has limited upward mobility in a company, a good mentor will help that employee move on. They might be better suited to another role within the organization, or even to a new path somewhere else.

  • Select a mentor who can help you be the best you can be, not one you think can help you get a promotion.
  • Remember, you can sometimes learn more from people who are different than from people who are “just like you.”
  • Get transparent on your goals and expectations for a mentoring relationship.
  • Communicate your goals and expectations in your first meeting.
  • Mentoring is about learning, not looking good in front of your mentor. Be yourself and be willing to take risks and experiment with new skills and ideas.
  • When your mentor gives you advice or feedback, work hard to hear it as a gift. Just because it may be painful does not mean it is not beneficial.
  • If your mentoring relationship is not working like you hoped it would, clearly communicate your concerns to your mentor.
  • Great mentoring relationships take two people—a partnership. Look in the mirror before you conclude a poor mentoring relationship is all about your mentor.
  • Mentoring relationships are designed to be temporary. When you have met your mentoring goals, be willing to let the relationship end.
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Posted in Management and Leadership

Fallacies are Statements that Contain Errors of Logic or Language

A fallacy is an argument that may be persuasive but contains an error of logic or language.

A fallacy is an error in reasoning, but reasoning can be erroneous in a number of ways, so there is no definitive type of fallacy.

Greek Philosopher Aristotle The Greek Philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BCE) was the first to gather and explain the most common types of errors in reasoning, such as equivocation, begging the question, and false cause.

Aristotle wrote in On Sophistical Refutations (c. 350 BCE)

That some reasonings are genuine, while others seem to be so but are not, is evident. This happens with arguments, as also elsewhere, through a certain likeness between the genuine and the sham. For physically some people are in a vigorous condition, while others merely seem to be so by blowing and rigging themselves out as the tribesmen do their victims for sacrifice; and some people are beautiful thanks to their beauty, while others seem to be so, by dint of embellishing themselves. So it is, too, with inanimate things; for of these, too, some are really silver and others gold, while others are not and merely seem to be such to our sense; e.g. things made of litharge and tin seem to be of silver, while those made of yellow metal look golden. In the same way both reasoning and refutation are sometimes genuine, sometimes not, though inexperience may make them appear so: for inexperienced people obtain only, as it were, a distant view of these things. For reasoning rests on certain statements such that they involve necessarily the assertion of something other than what has been stated, through what has been stated: refutation is reasoning involving the contradictory of the given conclusion. Now some of them do not really achieve this, though they seem to do so for a number of reasons; and of these the most prolific and usual domain is the argument that turns upon names only. It is impossible in a discussion to bring in the actual things discussed: we use their names as symbols instead of them; and therefore we suppose that what follows in the names, follows in the things as well, just as people who calculate suppose in regard to their counters.

In the subsequent centuries of philosophical debate, new categories of fallacies were identified, and the philosophers William of Ockham and John Buridan compiled an extensive number of fallacy types, giving them Latin names such as argumentum ad populum (appeal to the people) and argumentum ad baculum (appeal to the stick, or force).

There are now more than 200 named fallacies, commonly divided between formal and informal.

  • Formal fallacies are mistakes in the logical form of an argument, independent of its semantic content. For example, in the non-fallacious form called Modus Ponens, a correct deduction can be derived from a conditional premise and a correct antecedent, regardless of the content. However, in the related formal fallacy called “affirming the consequent,” a false deduction is derived from the same correct conditional premise and a false antecedent. It follows that not every instance of the deduction would be true, even if the premise statements appeared correct individually.
  • An informal fallacy occurs when the content or organization of the premises of an argument constitutes an error in reasoning, as when an arguer changes the subject (red herring) or appeals to an inappropriate authority (argumentum ad verecundiam).
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Posted in Mental Models and Psychology Philosophy and Wisdom