Category: Highlights

10 Simple Rules To Help The Environment

Today is Blog Action Day, and I thought I’d use this day to post 10 simple rules that we can all apply in our everyday lives to help our environment.

Of course there are more than 10 things we can all do, and we should do, but well we can start with these really easy ten, and then move on step by step.

So here goes the list:

1. Take showers rather than baths: This way you

People: Roles vs. Personality

Something I’ve noticed many times over the years is how some people seem to slip into different personalities when they change or assume different roles in life, work or elsewhere.

It’s as if a dial in some imaginary control room is turned, switching the person to another completely different personality.

And in most cases it doesn’t feel natural at all, it’s just an act the person is putting up, just because he thinks he should be acting in a certain new way, because of their new status.

I’ve seen this in newly married friends, colleagues who got a work promotion, people who have just had a kid, and in various other instances; and the people just change, abruptly, without warning and unbelievably.

People change. That’s a fact. But normal change is mostly done over a period of time, naturally, with people barely feeling it. It only hits them after a long period when they look back and see what a big difference there is between what that person was and what he now is.

But, the change I’m talking about here is the kind that happens almost over-night, and when asked, a lot of these people simply reply that their new responsibilites or their new status in life require a new way of doing things and handling themselves.

Is that true?
Doesn’t it mean that the person isn’t doing it because he naturally progressed to it and because he wants to, but rather because he feels that he has to?
Doesn’t it imply that he wasn’t proud of or confident in what he was?
Plus didn’t he get to the place he is now because of how he was and what he was like? So why should he change it once he got there?

It’s true that certain things in life and certain responsibilities require some changes in how a person deals with things, but I think they’re more or less small targeted changes that touch on a specific area of that person’s life depending on whether it concerns his household, work, passions & hobbies or whatever else; but not a total flip of that person’s personality.

I think it’s very important to have a balance between a person’s roles and his personality, because it can be very tiresome and troublesome to act a personality for a role, or to bend a role for a personality.

Each and every one of us is unique in his own way, that shouldn’t be lost just to fit a certain stereotype of a role, but rather used to enrich it, all the while fulfilling the new obligations of the role.

Google’s Top 10 Mistakes

GoogleIn the tech circles, we almost always get carried away by all the greatness of Google and its products, that we forget that Google too is not perfect. Yep, Google too have made a number of big mistakes; and here’s the top 10 list according to me, a loyal fan.

1. Google Web accelerator: The idea behind this product was to speed up page loading for users and all as it name suggests, but the product went down amid privacy concerns, web application problems resulting from the system and Google’s announced inability to handle all the traffic.

2. Picasa Web Albums: Picasa is a really sweet piece of software that was acquired by Google a few years ago. A while later Picasa Web Albums was announced, which a lot of people thought would be a flickr-killer, but instead it turned out to be a crappy badly-presented service that leaves much to the liking.

3. Dodgeball: This was an interesting startup that Google also acquired a while back, they were the first big startup that leveraged mobile phones and text messages for social networking. Google bought them and didn’t do much with the service, leaving the door wide open for twitter to come along and take over the show.

4. Orkut: This is yet another social networking site that was much-hyped and that Google put their hands on launched as an inside project a few years ago, but ever since then they sort of put it on the back seat and forgot about it, while MySpace and Facebook took over the world.

5. Google Video – 1st Version: When Google first launched Google Video, it just didn’t work for the users, it felt half-baked, it didn’t live up to the level the competition had already set and people couldn’t find their favourite shows easily. Google fixed this pretty quickly, but still the first version is worthy of noting.

Continue reading

Good Marketing, Bad Distribution

The other day we were shopping at one of the big stores, and I went on to pick up a bottle of skimmed milk; I was just checking the expiry date and other stuff when I found a little something I’m not used to finding on Tunisian products.
There was this little message informing customers that the same company also sold 0% Fat Yogurt with different flavors.
This isn’t a form of marketing you usually find on Tunisian products, even though I find it one of the most targeted, unobtrusive and interesting forms of advertising and marketing around because you’re talking directly to a customer who is surely interested in the other product you’re selling and who has already given his confidence to your company by choosing one of your products over the competition.

This is all great, it actually put a smile on my face seeing that Tunisians were getting smarter about marketing and advertising their products, and I went to check out the advertised product.

This is where they messed up whatever effort they made and advantage they got through their targeted marketing; the product was nowhere to be found, neither in that store not any other I’ve been to ever since.

So even though these guys have a great way to market their product to the right people in the right market segment, they fail to distribute their product well and lose everything they worked for, maybe even generating customers that are frustrated because of a product they haven’t even tried yet. That would mean that their good marketing push is actually generating the opposite effect to what anyone would wish for.

All this to say that one missing link in the chain is enough to spoil everything for the customer and the company, especially when that link is distribution.

So please, don’t market a product that doesn’t exist or is never available. It works against you and annoys the customers.

The Power Of A Smile

So many people underestimate the power and importance of a smile, that simple little facial expression characterized by an upward curving of the corners of the mouth.

A smile has many meanings: pleasure, friendliness, welcome, amusement, and many more; and it is part of a universal body language that doesn’t need any extra interpretation.

Plus a smile, with all its simplcity and beauty, can be a very important factor in many aspects of our lives:

– You fall in love with a new country you visit because its people greet you with a welcoming smile everywhere you go; other countries you just don’t like even though they might have more history, nature, entertainment and whatnot because their people don’t seem so friendly or accepting.

– You feel like buying from a certain store when the vendor welcomes you in with a smile, sometimes even if you wouldn’t intially have bought anything; and in other stores, even though they have exactly what you need or better, you decide to walk away because the vendor doesn’t look welcoming at all.

– You want to give a waiter a good tip when he serves you with a smile, even if the food turns out not that good; on the other hand, sometimes you’ll have some of the best food ever, but you won’t feel like giving the waiter a tip, even if you do, because he was grumpy.

More and more examples from our everyday life show how much a simple smile can change everything.

Forever engraved in my mind will be the smiling faces of the people of Thailand, the friendly pizza delivery boy, the welcoming supermarket vendor, the nice cashier at the bank, …etc.

It is these smiles that keep me wanting to go back, and that keep us all wanting to go back; looking at it from another view, if we break it down using business sense, a smile is one of the most effective means to generate sales and develop customer loyalty.

On top of all that, a smile is a very simple and easy thing to do, so it amazes why no one bothers to do it, it not only makes the person in front of you better, but it also makes you feel better as well, and I’m not making this up, it has been psychologically proven.

Personally, I’d like to see more smiling faces in this world; in the airports when I enter a new country, in companies, government agencies, restaurants, hotels, banks, everywhere; and I think it is up to governments to campaign about this, and even make it obligatory in certain important places like airports, hospitals, hotels…etc.

Let’s all simply smile 🙂

Think Different…

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs

Alternative Energy: Is The Price Justified?

A couple of days ago I was flipping through tv channels when I came across this show that was just beginning; the show was about biofuel, and the presenter listing the different points of the show went on about how they would talk about how cost-effective biofuel is and whether the outcome justifies the cost.

This is an approach that I’ve been seeing in a number of places by a number of people, and I’m totally against it, because we don’t really have an option anymore; this is not a business issue where you evaluate what you’re going to get out of doing something, compare it to what you’re putting in and then decide what to do; this is a totally different ball game, whatever the cost, we have to act!

Through years of ignoring nature and scientific facts we’ve driven our planet to the brink of chaos and disaster, and if we don’t act fast to come up with and use alternative sources of energy, it won’t be long before we lose the most precious thing we can leave for our children and future generations: a habitable planet to live on.

So instead of asking whether the price is justified, we should ask how we can make it affordable and accessible for more people, because the justification is stronger than any there could ever be, and there is no need to even think of discussing it.

The Individual & The Tribe

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

Friedrich Nietzsche

WiTricity: Wireless Electricity

WiTricity MIT TeamImagine a future in which wireless power transfer is feasible: cell phones, household robots, mp3 players, laptop computers, and other portable electronics capable of charging themselves without ever being plugged in, freeing us from that final, ubiquitous power wire. Some of these devices might not even need their bulky batteries to operate.

Well that future could be just around the corner; A team at MIT led by Prof. Marin Soljacic has experimentally demonstrated an important step toward accomplishing this vision of the future, they were able to light a 60W light-bulb from a power source more than 2 meters away, without any physical connection between the source and the appliance.

The MIT team refers to their concept as

Do It, Just Don’t Get Caught!

I think one of the biggest problems of the Arab world today is the “Do whatever you want as long as I don’t catch you doing it” mentality and attitude that’s being applied to a wide variety of things we just don’t want to handle.

This problem exists at all levels of our Arab societies, and it’s simply a way of avoiding to face the issues and problems that exist and taking the necessary steps to address or solve them.

An example I’ve seen so many times at the family level: The tough father forbids his son to smoke; but he knows his son is smoking behind his back, he smells the smoke, he finds the traces, his son stinks of smoke; but as long as he doesn’t smoke in front of him and he doesn’t catch him smoking, it’s somehow fine!

Again at the family level: the parents are conservative and don’t want their daughter having any relationships with boys, yet in reality they are more or less sure she has a boyfriend, still it seems to be ok as long as they don’t catch her with him.

At the society and government levels, there are many other examples as well, one of which is homosexuality; As a mainly conservative society, homosexuality is frowned upon in the Arab world, and is even illegal by law in some countries, but the general approach by the society and governments is to ignore it and let gay people do whatever they want as long as they’re not caught doing it.

Prostitution, extremism, bribery, nepotism, and the long list continues, are all other serious issues that are dealt with in the same way in countries around the Arab world.

The same approach is used in so many other places, at so many other levels for so many different issues and problems.

This policy of turning our back on things and acting like they’re not there happening right behind us is surely a failed one, it will only make the situation or problem worse, as we run away from the responsabilities we have, postponing our decisions, and letting our indecision and fear control us.

The fact that a certain issue is a hard one should give us all the more incentive to face it, solve it if it’s a problem, reach a compromise if it’s a sort of conflict, in short find a way to deal with it and move forward.