Fashion | 08 Sep 2016

Fashion and Sweater Pills

It’s the stuff nightmares are made of. Your favorite sweater dress is pilling. The horrible little balls cover it completely. You are ashamed to wear it out in public.

Oh, wait. It’s all good. We will put in our Fall/Winter 2016 ad. There!

Odette Pavlova for MaxMara Fall/Winter 2016

Odette Pavlova for MaxMara Fall/Winter 2016 Ph: Steven Meisel St: Carine Roitfeld

 

After all, it’s fashion. They wouldn’t understand anyway.

Music | 15 Jun 2016

Prelude Op. 23 No. 5 in G Minor by Sergey Rachmaninov

Here is some classical music to elevate your Wednesday.

There is an interesting story behind this uplifting piece of music – Emil Gilels played this prelude at the front during World War II to raise morale of the Soviet military forces fighting in the war.

The narrator says (in Russian): “Gilels is playing at the front to remind us what the war is worth fighting for. Immortal music!”

Humor | 10 Jun 2016

Style Advice from POTUS

I am against wearing sweat pants in public. Even if they are made by Victoria’s Secret or any other designer brand. Believe me, if Ronald Reagan cannot pull them off while flying on Air Force One, you cannot pull them off either.

Here is your proof:

Ronald Reagan on Air Force One

Marketing | 27 May 2016

Masterful Copywriting

I love new E*TRADE commercials. This is what great copywriting sounds like. The copy is so dense that it can be used as fancy tongue twisters. They are shot brilliantly as well – the approach is minimalistic, but copy delivery is punctuated by a cannon shot or a snip of the scissors. Commercials like these you want to watch over and over again. So here you go – enjoy!

Trader

Invest

Retire

Humor &Musings | 18 May 2016

If You Want To Make God Laugh, Tell Him About Your Plans

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” is the funniest job interview question you can be asked. The funniest and the hardest to answer. The correct answer (and believe me, there are right and wrong answers here) is “Right here, with this company, doing the job we are discussing right now.” If you are a half-decent human being and prefer not to blatantly lie in job interviews, the answer to this question is “It depends”.

And it depends on a lot of things. Things that are outside of your control. It depends on the company and how they treat you, and on the person you are talking to right now. And that just for starters. It depends on your family, friends, neighbors. It also depends on who gets elected as the next President of the United States and where our economy goes. And many other things. What I am saying is that in order to know where any of us would be in 5 years, we need to be able to control our futures. And if that was the case, we would be living in an entirely different world.

 

Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised. ~ Denis Waitley

 

But, anyway…Can you calculate probability of every possibility in your life for the next 5 years, and answer this question already?

That is why it is so funny. Because they tell us not to lie in job interviews, but how can we honestly answer questions they ask us? The reality of the situation looks a lot like the New Yorker cartoon below, but don’t tell that to your interviewer or you will never get the job.

 

New Yorker Cartoon

“In five years, I see myself with the same job title, about the same salary, and significantly more responsibilities.”

Marketing | 13 May 2016

Brand Values and Toilet Brushes

64Customers
 

64% of customers cited shared values as the primary reason for a strong brand relationship. In the product categories with many choices and little differentiation, people look for something other than product attributes and price to base their decisions on.  And that’s when brand values and personalities come into play.

The reason a brand needs to establish a personality that transcends the tangible nature of its products or services is that consumers, especially those in the younger generations, want the companies they keep to share their beliefs and values, be it with regard to environment, social issues, or simply the way they treat their employees.

~ Allen P. Adamson in The Edge: 50 Tips from Brands that Lead

How do you pick between two shirts  of the same quality and price? How do you pick between two loaves of bread made with the same ingredients at the same price point? You look to company values to guide your choices. That is why some people boycott Chick-fil-A and Barilla Pasta, and others don’t set their foot in Abercrombie & Fitch stores. On the other hand, shared company values can make your customers life-long fans that will never look to any other brand to satisfy their needs in your product category. It works both ways, but the value barrier–once established–is almost impossible to overcome.

However, sometimes you are just looking for a toilet brush. You don’t care about relations, stories or magic. You only care whether or not it will get the job done.

Poetry | 27 Apr 2016

Just a Couple of Lines

Some poems speak to you. You can relate to every word and every line. Maybe you went through the feelings and experiences described yourself or somebody close to you had.
With other poems, you are happily reading along, and a couple of lines just stops you dead in your tracks. You have to pause and read those lines again and again before finishing the entire poem.

This is what happened to me with the lines below.

Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath
I don’t know much about death, but these lines struck me as being true. To be honest, I didn’t care all that much for the rest of the poem, but these 3 lines made it for me.

Below is the poem in its entirety.

Lady Lazarus
by Sylvia Plath (1932 – 1963)

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it–

A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot

A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?–

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.

Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me

And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.

This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.

What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand and foot–
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies

These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,

Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.

The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut

As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

Dying
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I’ve a call.

It’s easy enough to do it in a cell.
It’s easy enough to do it and stay put.
It’s the theatrical

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:

‘A miracle!’
That knocks me out.
There is a charge

For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart–
It really goes.

And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.

I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

Ash, ash–
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there–

A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.

Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Beware
Beware.

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

23-29 October 1962

Reading List | 15 Apr 2016

Jargon and Job Security

Recently, I’ve watched The Big Short, the 2015 Adam McKay’s film that attempts to explain the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2007-2008. The film made a lot of good points. One of them being that Wall Street makes up all kinds of terms to keep everyone thinking that only Wall Street financial institutions can do what they are doing — no one else can understand all the difficult concepts they are operating with, let alone make money using them. Financial jargon leads to confusion of general public, which in turn leads to job security for Wall Street operators and allows them to get away with things that can lead to a meltdown of the entire world economy. The financial crisis of 2007-2008 is the case in point.

Marketers, on the other hand, have to make sure that all the collateral and materials we put out is free of jargon and technical terms the average customer will not understand. This is one of the main points made by Frank J. Pietrucha in his Supercommunicator book. The rest of the book is pretty common sense for an experienced writer or presenter, but it is always good to review what you already know in order to actually use that knowledge in your everyday writing.

Read on for a quick list of tips that will make you a supercommunicator.

Supercommunicator by Frank J. Pietrucha

 

Supercommunicator: Explaining the Complicated So Anyone Can Understand
Frank J. Pietrucha
Copyright © 2014 AMACOM, a division of American Management Association
272 pages

 

A Few Tips for Supercommunicators:

Lead with the conclusion – State the main point of your communication immediately, so your audience can’t miss it.
Use big words sparingly – Needlessly complex words put readers off. Stick with simple words that everyone understands. John L. Beckley says in his book The Power of Little Words: “Look for plain, ordinary, conversational words that give an immediate, sharp impression.” Microsoft Word provides the function offering “readability statistics” to help you judge the complexity of your communications. Target your work to grades eight to ten on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level scale – that’s the level of most New York Times stories.
Combat jargon abuse – Using the arcane language of the specialist interferes with clear communication and blocks understanding. Sometimes, communicators use jargon purposefully to manipulate and mislead their readers.
Avoid acronyms – Insider acronyms burden and confuse readers. Many have multiple meanings; for example, ATM can mean Automatic Teller Machine or Asynchronous Transfer Mode. Acronyms result in alphabet-soup communications that readers must laboriously spoon through to discover meaning.
Shorter sentences, shorter paragraphs, shorter chapters – Don’t overload your readers with information. Keep your messages short, concise and to the point. But beware of the trap of writing only short sentences. Vary your sentence composition. Keep your communications as simple as they need to be, but never any simpler. Oversimplification may insult your readers.
Develop content that syncs with your audience’s culture – Consider your readers as you plan your communications. You would, for example, present information to members of the Tea Party differently than you would to a liberal audience.
Make it error-free – Credibility is everything. People will automatically discount most of what you say if they find you’ve made even one factual mistake. Review your work, and have someone else check it, too.
Active voice is the right voice – Active voice makes for robust, powerful sentences that call to action. Passive voice is weak and blurs meaning.

Poetry | 21 Mar 2016

World Poetry Day

I used to post poetry here from time to time, but stopped for some reason. Today is World Poetry Day, so it’s a good day to start doing it again.

Poetry can be beautiful as well as useful. Here is a great example of that – If Thou Of Fortune Be Bereft by John Greenleaf Whittier:

If Thou Of Fortune Be Bereft by John Greenleaf Whittier

Plus, it’s spring, so this advice is even more timely.

Musings | 07 Mar 2016

Political Discourse at a New Low

Fight Fire with Fire

They say, “Fight fire with fire.” I think it’s a solid piece of advice applicable in many situations. Except when it comes to stupidity. You cannot fight stupidity with stupidity without descending even deeper into it. As 2016 presidential race is clearly showing. Marco Rubio had to learn this lesson the hard way.

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