Thursday, 22 September 2011

Social media

I attended a Social Media Conference at Oxford Town Hall today. For me, the main aspect was going to be the group exercise work as surely you learn by doing - probably more so than listening. This is the approach we adopt in OSL Training - involvement, involvement and more involvement.

Unfortunately it didn't quite go like that. A lot of time was spent telling us about social media and why it shouldn't be ignored. Facebook was growing...except actually in the UK and the US it is falling.

A lot of time was also spent where the audience questioned/discussed things with the representatives from Thames Valley Police though quite why someone wanted to make the point that a 4 year prison sentence was 'too long' for someone who posted on Facebook about having a riot, is beyond me.

1pm came and, having expected to have had about 75 minutes of groupwork by then, none had happened so I decided to leave, thus missing the afternoon session which would, at best, have been 1 3/4 hrs, probably 45 minutes (as per timetable) of actual groupwork.

In terms of using social media perhaps the best thing is to try it - but be careful. With that in mind I spent a few minutes googling and came up with the following resources:

5. Free ebook Twitter for Beginners

6. How To Use Twitter for Sales and Marketing (free but you have to give your email)

7. Four ebooks (free) on social media and marketing

And five more....

1. How to Enhance Your Internet Presence with Social Media

This 34-page eBook by the generous and talented folks at Hubspot will help you toimprove and increase your brand’s presence on different social media networks including Twitter and Facebook. To download the eBook, you will have to provide your details and be a part of their email list. A very small price to pay for all the goodness that Hubspot offers business owners.

2. How to Monitor Your Social Media Presence in 10 Minutes a Day

Again, by the Hubspot team, this 20-page eBook is all about time management and social media. Now that you’re online and networking, learn how to optimize your social media efforts without spending hours online.

Find answers to questions like “what should I monitor and how?” Learn about tools that help you organize your social networking efforts and track them effectively.

Oh and while you’re at Hubspot, do spend some time in their treasure trove of alibrary for some totally awesome marketing resources. All FREE!

3. Why Your Blog is Your Social Media Hub by Debbie Weil

Debbie Weil is the authority in the world of business blogging and in this eBook she draws upon the experience of 32 other experts, including Seth Godin, David Meerman Scott, Guy Kawasaki and others to understand how and why a blog is actually a social media hub. The eBook is basically a compilation of what these experts had to say on the topic.

Why I find this eBook useful is that it helps a small business to understand why you need both a blog and a social media presence and how to use both effectively.

4. From Stats to Strats: Using Social Media to Plan and Measure a Strategy Campaignby Bonsai Interactive Marketing

This 27-page eBook from Bonsai Interactive Marketing is a great read for anyone wanting to use social media stats to create a smart marketing strategy.

Part one of the eBook deals with the statistics of social media (some of which may be outdated since the eBook came out in 2010) but it is the second part that is strategy or using social media stats to create a workable, effective marketing plan.

For instance, the Twitter stat sheet shows over 60% of Twitter use is outside of the US. The action step they recommend is analysing where your customers are from and if it is outside of the U.S., using Twitter to connect with them.

5. David Meerman Scott’s Library of Free eBooks

I thought of just including one of my favourites – Real Time {2010} in this list but that wouldn’t have been fair.

While some of David’s ebooks have been written in 2006 and 2008, I recommend downloading them all and reading them, front-to-back. The information and strategy in all of them will help you grow as a small business owner for sure

And five Twitter resources:

  • - A website that is an amazing resource for Twitter Tips from Twitter experts.
  • – Their Twitter Guide is second to none.
  • – I have a popular post on how to gain free Twitter followers and how to make money with Twitter (I am almost done with a free ebook on the topic as well. I will add it to this list when it is done.)
  • Retweet Button – How to add the retweet button to your Word Press blog and the benefits of the retweet.
  • Essence of Twitter – I wrote a post called “I Tweet Therefore I am connected to you” it explains the essence of Twitter.
  • Here's an affiliate marketing manual...

  • And finally, a plug for this company.....

    Sunday, 18 September 2011

    Save money

    Do you have eight gadgets when actually your mobile phone does all the same tricks in one? Do you keep CDs in your home when you own the music in other formats? Do you pay for unnecessary subscriptions when you can get the same service for free online?

    If the answer to any of the above is yes, then you could be wasting money. Plenty of us no longer need many of our regular purchases and services, because we have access to alternatives.

    That means we can avoid paying for them again and potentially even sell off some stuff.

    Here are seven things you could do without:


    It's contentious, but bear with me. If you have an e-reader like the Kindle or a tablet computer then do you really ever need to buy a book again?

    According to the International Data Corporation, more than 10.1 million media tablets were sold in the last three months of 2010, alongside six million e-readers. That's a lot of people who don't need to buy a real book again.

    Project Gutenberg has more than 36,000 free e-books that you can download onto your computer, e-reader, tablet or even smartphone. Most of the well-known classics are available, so you can save a fortune.

    It can also be much cheaper for new books. For example, I wanted to buy the latest George RR Martin novel; the newly-released hardback is priced at £25 but an electronic copy is £11.99 — less than half the price.

    TV licence

    Almost six in 10 Brits use the internet to watch TV, films and online video, according to a uSwitch survey. If you're one, do you still need to watch normal TV?

    You don't need a TV licence to watch catch-up TV like the BBC's iPlayer and so, unless you're watching or recording a programme in real time, you do not need to pay the annual fee.

    With so many people using their computers to watch programmes after they've been broadcast, for example, through 4oD, there will be plenty of people who no longer watch 'live' TV at all.

    You can still use a TV set for watching DVDs and playing games, as long as it isn't installed as a TV receiver. If it is then you need a licence. You can avoid the endless letters demanding payment by notifying TV Licensing, although be aware that you'll most likely receive a visit from an inspector.

    Don't forget, if you watch TV as it happens, even online, then you do need to be covered by a licence.


    When I was a teenager, I had mountains of music tapes, then when I was a student I had mountains of CDs. These days I can't remember the last time I used a physical disc to play music, and the growing popularity of iTunes shows that I'm not alone.

    If you're buying music online and storing it on your MP3 player or even your phone, then maybe it's time to ditch your CD collection. Move fast and you could sell them before the rest of the country goes entirely digital too.

    Landline telephone

    The landline is fast going the way of the dodo as individual mobile phones become the normal way to contact friends and family.

    So you're potentially paying an unnecessary line rental fee, which you may think you need to get broadband in your home.

    However, if you're a fairly lightweight internet user then talk to your mobile provider about whether it could be cost-effective to connect your computer to the web using your mobile — it's really very straightforward.

    That also means that you can access the web wherever you are, you aren't tied to your home. Make sure your data allowance meets your needs, for example, 3 currently offers unlimited data packages.


    SatNav hasn't just saved me time and effort; it's probably saved my marriage too - as a navigator on long journeys I apparently "didn't inspire confidence".

    But why hang onto road maps if you're simply not going to use them?

    If you don't have a SatNav yet then it's worth investigating whether or not your phone has a SatNav capacity. There are even free apps like NavFree.

    Away from the car, smartphones now not only can store all the maps you need, but they also use satellite data to put a nice pin in where you are on the map and even which direction you're facing.

    Calculator/personal organiser/most gadgets

    Before buying any gadget, ask yourself if your mobile phone does it. Ofcom reports that more than a quarter of adults and nearly half of all teenagers own a smartphone.

    If you have a high-spec phone then you can find cheap or free apps that do everything, from egg timers to pedometers, calculators and even a torch.


    My mobile handset has internet access, meaning I can read every non-subscription newspaper online for free, so I haven't bought a physical paper in more than a year.

    This doesn't just save money, it cuts down on paper waste and lets me read news and columns from more than one place, giving me a broader range of reporting and opinion.

    And you can even get your phone to pull down an entire paper overnight, meaning you can read it in places without phone reception.

    Saturday, 6 August 2011

    Is Dominik doing his homework?

    An interesting question. Look at his

    Then look at the homework set here.....

    Then make your own decision

    Friday, 10 June 2011

    Using Google

    Advanced Search

    When you're searching for specific material, use Advanced Search to plug in qualifiers that will narrow down your search. Here are more Advanced Search tricks to learn.

    1. Search within a domain: Only let Google bring up .edu or .gov sites, for example, if you want primary sources or authoritative information.
    2. Select file type: This very handy qualifier is useful when you need to quickly find certain types of data or information for a presentation. You can choose to limit results to .pdf, .xls, Google Earth, .doc, .rtf, and more.
    3. : If you're looking to use open source material or unlicensed material, this is a good trick to make sure you're on track.
    4. Exclude terms: Use a minus sign right before a word (-example) to eliminate it from your search results.
    5. Wildcard search: The * key acts as a wildcard in Google search that can be helpful with early stages of research. Google gives the example [Obama voted * on the * bill] to learn about Obama's votes on several different bills.
    6. Blogs: After conducting a search, click on the "Blogs" button under "Show Options" to view only blog posts on the subject.
    7. Limit synonyms: Did you know that Google sometimes finds results that don't match your search exactly, but that use synonyms instead? Type in the + sign before a search to eliminate synonyms and use your words only.
    8. Language: For foreign language or international business or policy classes, or if you just have to have a primary source, use this selector to change language settings.
    9. Where your keywords show up: When you're looking for very specific information or for a specific kind of source, you can use this feature to limit where the keywords show up in your search: the URL, title of the article, in links to the page, or just anywhere in the page.
    10. Find pages that link to the page: Use this feature when you want to do a little more digging. You'll stumble across blog posts, journal articles and news stories that offer more in-depth commentary.
    11. Quotation marks: Put quotation marks around a phrase to let Google know you want that exact phrase in that order.

    Scholar Search

    Google Scholar is an excellent resource for undergraduate and graduate students who want a quick way to connect to authoritative information from journals and scholarly publications. Use these tips to search Scholar.

    1. Search by author: Scholar recommends using the author's initials, or at least first initial and last name, to increase your results.
    2. Search by journal: Used Scholar's Advanced Search to find articles published in a specific journal or publication.
    3. Find articles and pieces that reference that article: By typing in the name of an article in quotation marks, you'll find that paper plus other papers that reference it.
    4. Limit by date: Make sure you're citing the most updated research by limiting your returns by date.
    5. Find court opinions: If you're searching for court opinions, you can search by state, choose only U.S. federal court opinions, or expand your search to all journals and opinions.
    6. Select collections: Also in Advanced Search is the option to select collections like Chemistry and Materials Science or Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities.
    7. Search Library Links: Under Google Scholar Preferences, you'll find the option to find library access links.
    8. Start with citations, then move offline: Sometimes Google will pull up a citation but not the whole piece because it hasn't found it online. If it looks like a good match for your research, copy it down and bring it to your librarian for help locating it.
    9. Find foreign language journals: Look for primary materials from foreign language journals in Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Spanish and more.
    10. Bibliography Manager: Bibliography Manager is a Scholar feature that lets you add citations in various formats like RefWorks, RefMan, EndNote, and BibTeX. This is found in the Preferences section.

    Reference Tools and Tips

    Google is full of tricks for pulling up statistics, basic facts and reference material. Check here for great shortcuts for finding definitions and more.

    1. Dictionary: Type the word "define" before the word you want to look up in the Google search bar.
    2. Calculator: Just type in an equation with the = sign to use Google's calculator feature. You can find more calculator operators and symbols here.
    3. Books: Click on the "Books" option under "Shop Options" after entering your search. You'll find Google books on the subject, and can quickly add them to your library or preview them.
    4. Unit conversion: Let Google complete unit conversions for you when you type in a problem, like "4 lbs in kg."
    5. Cooking conversions: When you're trying out mom's recipes at school, use this feature to solve cooking conversions.
    6. Numeric ranges: If you want to know who was president during a certain timeframe, type in "president 1940…1950" for example. You can also use this feature to find results that contain certain dollar amounts or other numerical ranges.
    7. Stock Quotes: For business classes, you can use the Stock Quotes search by typing in the ticker symbol. Google will bring up current stock quotes.
    8. Glossary: Type in a word followed by ~glossary to find glossaries, term lists and dictionary entries for that word.
    9. Package tracking: Find out when your next care package arrives when you use this feature.
    10. Public data: Look up public data by typing in keywords and a location, like "population california."
    11. Area Code Lookup: This feature should be useful when applying for jobs or looking for places to visit in your area for research.
    12. Froogle: Whether you're shopping for the best deal or are conducting market research for a project, use Google's product search tool, Froogle.

    Notes and Organization

    Keep your research organized with these tricks.

    1. Search within a site: Type "example search term site: example website" to search a keyword or search term within that site only, if you need to use a particular source.
    2. SearchWiki: Use SearchWiki to star and edit your favorite results, even hidden ones.
    3. info:: Find information about a website if you need to verify it or collect data for a citation.
    4. Custom Search Engine: Create your own custom search engine with Google. You can name it, pick the language, and select only certain sites to be searched.
    5. Learn how to assess credibility: This slide explains how to check a page's "about" section, find a date and author, and verify the author's credentials on Google.
    6. Google Toolbar: Great for study groups, this toolbar lets you share websites with friends and translate web pages.
    7. Pay attention to Google's indents: Google indents results when they're from the same website as the result above it.

    Social and New Media Search

    Google is a great tool for finding images, toying around with new media, and locating and connecting with people online. Here are some Google tips to help you maximize Google's cutting edge potential.

    1. Google Maps eye-level perspective: Once you've searched for a particular map, drag the little person icon (located at the top of the zoom in/zoom out bar) anywhere on the map to get an eye-level perspective.
    2. Google Groups: When you want to pull up information from Google Groups only, you can type in the author's name, group name or insubject: and the subject keyword.
    3. Updates: After conducting a search, click on the "Updates" button under "Show Options." You'll get a steady stream of the most updated social media comments about that topic. Clicking "Discussions" will take you to forums Q&A pages.
    4. Google Image Search: You probably know how to use image search, but did you know it's a useful way to ID people and look up foreign language definitions?
    5. Knol: While it may not be the most authoritative search tool, Knol can help you start your research and find out how others around the world are reacting to current events and popular discussion topics.
    6. Recognize faces: Follow this link for instructions on how to get Google to recognize faces, and not bring up other image results when you type in someone's name.


    Use these shortcuts to make your Google searches even faster.

    1. I'm Feeling Lucky: If you're an expert searcher, use this button on the Google search page to get automatically directed to the first web page that would normally show up in a list in a general search.
    2. "Better than" and "reminds me of": This weird little tip will help you find comparisons. Just type in either search term and then a keyword, all enclosed in quotation marks.
    3. cache:: Use this shortcut to show a web page in its cached version.
    4. related:: Type in a website after related: to find related sites.
    5. Shortcut for spellcheck: Don't bother going to a dictionary website to see if you spelled something correctly: just enter it into Google's search bar, and the "did you mean…" suggestion will pop up with the correct spelling.
    6. Google Blog Search: Blog Search is another quick way to jump to blog posts only.
    7. Set up iGoogle: Personalize your Google homepage so that it contains links to your favorite feeds and research pages.


    From looking for jobs to understanding case sensitivity, here are more Google tricks for students.

    1. Google Job Directory: Use this tool to look for job opportunities, including seasonal jobs and job fairs.
    2. Delete search history: You can clear your address bar history, Google Toolbar history, and Google search box history here.
    3. Search operators are case sensitive: Google isn't case sensitive when it reads your keywords, but operators like OR are.

    Thursday, 12 May 2011


    New Tool! Amazon Secret Discounts Finder
    Swiftly builds SUPER-SPECIFIC pages of Amazon's hidden 75%+ OFF deals inc. DVDs, beauty, cameras
    As we've been blown away by the popularity of the Amazon secret bargain basement pages, we've built a new tool to take it to the next level. What is Amazon's secret bargain basement? It's where we've (legitimately) manipulated its web links to display all 75%-99% OFF bargains in its 20 main sections like DVDs*, Video Games* and Clothing*. New Amazon Discount Finder Tool: This new tool allows you to create your own super-specific sub-department pages in seconds. You then choose the discount level and if you want free deliery, so it could be engagement rings 90%+ off*, childrens books 75%+ off* or Nintendo Wii games 50%+ off * and scores more. Try the New Tool & Guide: Amazon Hidden Discount Finder Related: Cheap Online Shopping, Mega shopping comparison, Ebay Buying Tricks


    Tuesday, 3 May 2011

    Sunday, 1 May 2011

    Thursday, 28 April 2011

    Don't do drugs!

    You can go from this (shot in 2009):

    to this:

    by 2011.

    Wednesday, 27 April 2011

    Cho Việt Nam được một w.o.s.

    FotoGeert Geert Hofstede (1928): I am a Dutch social psychologist who did a pioneering study of cultures across modern nations. If you want to know what's on my mind at present, click on my photo. Read more under "culture". See under "Geert" for what was on my mind before, and for my CV.

    Dr. Geert Hofstede conducted perhaps the most comprehensive study of how values in the workplace are influenced by culture. From 1967 to 1973, while working at IBM as a psychologist, he collected and analyzed data from over 100,000 individuals from forty countries. From those results, and later additions, Hofstede developed a model that identifies four primary dimensions to differentiate cultures. He later added a fifth dimension, Long-term Outlook.

    As with any generalized study, the results may or may not be applicable to specific individuals or events. In addition, although the Hofstede's results are categorized by country, often there is more than one cultural group within that country. In these cases there may be significant deviation from the study's result. An example is Canada, where the majority of English speaking population and the minority French speaking population in Quebec has moderate cultural differences.

    National cultures can be described according to the analysis of Geert Hofstede. These ideas were first based on a large research project into national culture differences across subsidiaries of a multinational corporation (IBM) in 64 countries. Subsequent studies by others covered students in 23 countries, elites in 19 countries, commercial airline pilots in 23 countries, up-market consumers in 15 countries, and civil service managers in 14 countries. Together these studies identified and validated four independent dimensions of national culture differences, with a fifth dimension added later.

    If you follow the links below you will find a map of the world for each cultural dimension, which enables you to quickly see how similar or different countries or regions are.

    Power Distance
    Uncertainty Avoidance
    Long-Term Orientation

    The drawbacks of applying the Hofstede Model

    The Hofstede Model of Cultural Dimensions can be of great use when it comes to analyzing a country’s culture. There are however a few things one has to keep in mind.

    Firstly, the averages of a country do not relate to individuals of that country. Even though this model has proven to be quite often correct when applied to the general population, one must be aware that not all individuals or even regions with subcultures fit into the mould. It is to be used as a guide to understanding the difference in culture between countries, not as law set in stone. As always, there are exceptions to the rule.

    Secondly, how accurate is the data? The data has been collected through questionniares, which have their own limitations. Not only that, but in some cultures the context of the question asked is as important as its content. Especially in group-oriented cultures, individuals might tend to answer questions as if they were addressed to the group he/she belongs to. While on the other hand in the United States, which is an individualistic culture, the answers will most likely be answered and perceived through the eyes of that individual.

    Lastly, is the data up to date? How much does the culture of a country change over time, either by internal or external influences?

    Corporate and Social Responsibility:

    An important new report on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
    BUSS4 - Research Theme for 2011 - CSR
    Corporate Social Responsibility priority? Increase profits…
    CSR - Apple audits the supply chain
    CSR - Avoiding the child labour hotspots
    CSR - BBC One Planet on Coca-Cola & Sustainability
    CSR - Branson, Paphitis and Meaden Turn into Eco Warriors
    CSR - Charities hit by corporate stinginess
    CSR - Comic Relief, Crisps and Cause-Related Marketing
    CSR - Cooperative Group invites you to join a revolution
    CSR - Costing the Earth & Reporting Sustainability
    CSR - Focus on Fairtrade Fortnight 2011
    CSR - Greed is Good
    CSR - Green Growth Case Studies from UK Businesses
    CSR - How Companies Avoid Paying Tax
    CSR - How Transparent are the World’s Oil Companies?
    CSR - keeping a CCTV eye on suppliers
    CSR - Lesson Video - Clips from Blood Sweat and T-Shirts
    CSR - Lesson Video: Child Labour in Bangladesh
    CSR - Lesson Video: Primark on the Rack
    CSR - Links to PLC Corporate Social Responsibility Reports
    CSR - McDonalds and the Case for the Defence
    CSR - Michael Porter speaks on Creating Shared Value
    CSR - Pepsico Performance with Purpose
    CSR - pressure group forces a change at PG Tips
    CSR - Project Shakti
    CSR - Salad Slaves - Supermarkets and Corporate Irresponsibility?
    CSR - The Classic Milton Friedman Clip
    CSR - the Essential Economist Podcast
    CSR - The Key UK CSR Organisations
    CSR - The Mega Dairy, Economies of Scale and Cornflakes
    CSR - The Word Cloud
    CSR - What is “Creating Shared Value”?
    CSR - What is going on at 250-266 Ecclesall Road?
    CSR and Fairtrade Fortnight
    CSR at the Movies - Black Gold
    CSR at the Movies - Capitalism a Love Story
    CSR at the Movies - Food, Inc.
    CSR at the Movies - Manufactured Landscapes
    CSR at the Movies - Supersize Me in 7 Minutes
    CSR at the Movies - Thank You for Smoking
    CSR at the Movies - The End of the Line
    CSR at the Movies - Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Price
    CSR becomes the Strategy for Co-operative
    CSR Video - Business Benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility
    CSR Video - Everyone’s talking Corporate Social Responsibility
    Michael Porter - Shared Value and the Limitations of CSR
    Revision Presentation - Corporate Social Responsibility
    Stunning Video - CSR, Ethics and Milton Friedman
    The recession as an opportunity for Corporate Social Responsibility?

    Thursday, 24 February 2011

    Never buy these online

    Here are seven things you should never buy online:

    1) Secondhand cars

    Whether you want a brand new car or a secondhand model, researching the price you should pay online is a good idea. But never hand over money online.

    Many scammers offer secondhand cars in online forums at fantastic prices but will take your money and run. Always test-drive a car before buying it — and if an offer looks too good to be true, remember: it probably is.

    2) A property valuation

    Property site Hometrack will offer to sell you an online valuation of your property for 'only £19.95'. But you can find out a lot of information about a property for free, just by surfing the web.

    You can find out the price it was last sold for and what's happened to house prices since then. You can find out how much crime there is nearby and how good the schools are.

    You can even find out what newspapers the neighbours read and how much they earn via, as well heaps of other fascinating neighbourhood statistics from

    And most importantly, you can get a free online estimate of your property's value from!

    3) Books

    It's true that it's often cheaper to buy a book online rather than in a store, especially now Amazon has stopped charging for delivery. But if you're going online anyway, why buy a book at all when you can swap one you no longer want and get it for free instead?

    There are two big free book swap sites out there: (which is international) and (which is UK-based). Both have literally hundreds of thousands of books available for free.

    Alternatively, if you've got an ebook reader, head over to Project Gutenberg and download thousands of works of literature for free.

    4) Newspaper subscriptions

    The Financial Times, The News of The World, The Sunday Times and The Times now charge you if you want full access to all their content online. But on the Yahoo! front page, you can read the biggest stories from a wide range of different publications, including The Telegraph and The Press Association, entirely for free.

    Similarly, The Guardian and the BBC offer their content for free. And of course, if you want personal finance stories, you can read all the content at and you won't be charged a penny!

    5) Last-minute presents

    Anyone caught out by the snow last Christmas can vouch for this one: never, ever, ever buy last-minute presents online.

    Could you face having to tell someone you care about that you're empty-handed on their birthday because you couldn't be bothered to order their present enough in advance to ensure it arrives on time? The fact that everyone knows it's often cheaper and less effort to buy stuff online can be pretty embarrassing in this situation.

    To avoid this, most of us get desperate waiting for our deliveries to arrive and end up rushing to the shops to buy a replacement gift.

    And that's where it starts to get costly. Buy the same present, probably at a higher price, and you'll have to return the one you bought online and pay delivery costs. Or, alternatively, we hope it arrives on time but splash out on something 'extra' just in case.

    Either way, we end up forking out more than we would have done if we hadn't tried to buy it online in the first place!

    The fact is, if you've left it to the last-minute — even if the website promises next day delivery - don't risk it. Head to the shops and get it safely home!

    6) Cheap 'designer' goods

    The reason designer goods are expensive is because you pay for the designer brand. If you spy a pair of designer shoes or sunglasses that look suspiciously cheap, then you should be just that: suspicious.

    The same goes for handbags. It's no good knowing how to spot a fake in the flesh when you're buying online; here, the biggest clue is the price it's been sold for. (You can also do a domain check to see which company the site is registered to.)

    7) Anything that's expensive to deliver

    Finally, here's a general rule-of-thumb to follow when you're unsure whether or not to buy something online.

    One of the great things about shopping online is that you are protected by Distance Selling Regulations. This means, if you change your mind, you have the legal right to return the item and get a full refund. If you buy it in a shop, however, you are only legally entitled to a full refund if the item turns out to be faulty.

    The trouble is, you are not entitled to claim back the cost of delivery. So if an item is expensive to deliver and equally expensive to return, you will end up seriously out of pocket.

    Moral of the story: avoid buying anything online that you're not sure you want, if it's expensive to delive

    Tuesday, 15 February 2011


    1. How can we induce people to look after their health?

    2. How do societies create effective and resilient institutions, such as governments?

    3. How can humanity increase its collective wisdom?

    4. How do we reduce the ‘skill gap’ between black and white people in the UK?

    5. How can we aggregate information possessed by individuals to make the best decisions?

    6. How can we understand the human capacity to create and articulate knowledge?

    7. Why do so many female workers still earn less than male workers?

    8. How and why does the ‘social’ become ‘biological’?

    9. How can we be robust against ‘black swans’ — rare events that have extreme consequences?

    10. Why do social processes, in particular civil violence, either persist over time or suddenly change?

    Saturday, 1 January 2011


    11 crucial consumer trends of 2011

    1. Random Acts of Kindness believes that as people become willing disclose more about their private lives via social mediums such as twitter or facebook, brands will attempt to relate to consumers' craving for realness and engage customers by randomly sending them surprise gifts.

    2. Urbanomics
    With increasing proportions of the world's population living in urban areas, brands will attempt to engage urban consumers, who are believed to be more liberal, tolerant and daring, by targeting products at specific cities rather than countries.

    3. Pricing Pandemonium
    The rise of group buying sites such as Groupon and the continuing growth of instant communication means that news of new deals can spread quickly throughout social networks, giving rise to brands targeting consumers through flash sales and increasingly limited offers.

    4. Made for China (if not BRIC) believes that the continued economic growth of developing countries such as China and Brazil will lead to brands targeting products specifically towards consumers in these countries, altering the product to accommodate different physical features, traditions or lifestyles.

    5. Online status symbols
    The continued rise in importance of online status symbols will see brands offering consumers an increased variety of online symbols to display on social networking sites and the rise of status symbols that bridge the divide between the online and real worlds similar to the personalized Facebook memorabilia currently available.

    6. Wellthy believes that good health is now as important to consumers as having the newest status symbol. As a result in 2011 consumers will spend more on health products and services and expect these goods not only to treat illnesses but to actually improve their quality of life.

    7. Social-Lites and Twinsumers
    Consumers in 2011 will rely more on person to person recommendations. This is mainly due to the rise of "twinsumers" - consumers who share similar likes and dislikes and are valuable sources of product recommendations - and "Social-Lites" - consumers who discover new products and broadcast these experiences to their social network.

    8. Emerging Generosity
    In 2011 consumers will expect wealthy individuals and brands from emerging countries - particularly China - to give, donate and sympathize rather than just sell and take. Brands engaging in this behavior are more likely to have a positive consumer image, as statistics from show that 86 percent of consumers believe businesses should place equal weight on society's interests and business interests.

    9. Planned Spontaneity
    With increasingly fragmented lifestyles, instant communication tools and a willingness to publicize personal locations, consumers in 2011 will be signing up to services that allow endless and effortless meetings with friends, families or strangers and even offer suggestions such as where to go, who to meet with and what to do.

    10. Eco Superior
    As more and more consumers are buying or considering buying green products, 2011 will see companies switch from marketing the environmental benefits of their products to a niche group to taking on the traditional market. The eco-products of 2011 will be superior to their polluting alternatives and be marketed in a way that will appeal to eco-skeptics as well as environmentalists.

    11. Owner-Less predicts that 2011 will be the year when leasing and sharing schemes cross over into the mainstream consciousness. Big brands such as car manufacturers will begin to compete with independent car pooling clubs like Zipcar, and local authorities will also get in on the action with a rise in the number of schemes similar to Autolib - the electric-car sharing scheme due to be launched in Paris in 2011.

    Source: One of the world's leading trend firms, sends out its free, monthly Trend Briefings to more than 160,000 subscribers worldwide.

    Tuesday, 28 December 2010

    Sunday, 28 November 2010

    On leaving EF....

    .....some people still are unable to afford their drugs....

    Thursday, 18 November 2010

    Changing behaviour

    Your brain is the driving force behind every thought, memory, emotion and behaviour that you have ever had, or will ever have, throughout your life. I guess that makes it worth understanding a bit about how it works both for and against you. There’s one golden nugget of knowledge about your brain that you can use to change the way you choose to respond in difficult situations. So what’s the secret?

    Brains are extremely complex networks of rather simple cells – your neurones. Neurones create complex networks in the brain that take in new information, interpret it in light of previous information, and then store the new learning in the network. The neurones that do this are microscopically small, and there are 10,000,000,000 of them! Each of these can make connections (synapses) with hundreds of other neurones. You therefore might imagine that setting up this array of inter-connections is a complex task, yet we know that the first phase of this process takes only 9 months for humans since babies are born with functional brains.

    The master plan for designing these complex networks of neurones happens in two stages: the first stage involves setting up a preliminary network that is common across most people. We use genes to determine how to connect up this first network. And, to give the first network a bit of an extra boost, the genetic code constructs twice as many neural connections as we actually need. When each baby is born, his or her experiences are stored in this network. Connections that are used within an individual brain are strengthened while unused connections disappear over about the first 3 years of life. This first process of overproduction and elimination of connections is used to learn about events that can be expected on the basis of our common evolution. For example, most of us will see light, and colour, we will feel hard and soft, rough and smooth surfaces, and we will feel pain, we will hear soft sounds and loud sounds, high sounds and low sounds and, for humans, we will hear language. All of these new experiences are unconsciously stored by keeping connections that have been previously created in anticipation of these events.

    If this was the only way that new information could be stored in our brains, then adults would not be able to learn new information or to create new ideas. So there has to be a second mechanism: This is where we create new connections as they are needed. When we hear language, we cannot know if it is going to be English or French or Japanese. The brain creates new networks to store the language it hears. Each new word will be stored in a new connection, which will connect with lots of other words stored in other connections in a complex network of information. Just to demonstrate this, I would like you to think about grass. Take a moment and create a really strong image of grass. Now – what else is in that image? My image is of a meadow of grass, and I can see poppies in the meadow too. There might even be sheep or cows grazing. Your image is likely to be completely different from mine. Each of the other details in the image that you have created is there because of the interconnections that have been made unconsciously and effortlessly in your brain to represent your memory of grass. And these will be different for every one of us! While this learning happened unconsciously, it can be compared with something that you worked hard to learn either at school or as part of your business. In this case, you considered it important enough to learn this new material that you consciously worked to create new connections.

    How can understanding these two processes change the way you behave? The secret comes from the consequences of this design! I’d like you to think back to a strong, childhood memory. For me, it is walking across beautiful heather clad hills on the west coast of Scotland at sunset. I did not choose to remember this, and I have forgotten most of the other things that happened around this time. I know, however, that many of my current behaviours must arise from experiences that took place during my childhood. This inability to remember events from our early life helps to demonstrate how many of our responses are completely unconscious and routed in the unremembered past. As a result, most of these behaviours will never have been subjected to conscious reflection, or consciously chosen as behaviours that are useful and that we want to keep.

    An example of one of my unconscious, unwanted responses is the behaviour that I fall into whenever my mother is present. Through no fault of hers, I revert to being a child when she is around. I never lose my keys and get locked out of the house – except when my mother is present. I never burn the dinner – except when my mother is present. Something about my mother’s presence activates behaviours that I really do not want or need! This happens because many of my competencies were not developed until after I left home (I had a fantastic mother who stayed home and looked after me and my sisters!) So, I need make a conscious effort to be competent to prevent me from reverting to incompetent behaviours that I find extremely frustrating. I know that behaviours are coded in connections in my brain, and that I can make new connections consciously when I want (with a bit of effort to make sure I change the behaviour regularly and consistently), so I know that I can choose NOT to do the things that frustrates me so much.

    This is true of any response that we have that doesn’t help us. We can choose to develop a new network of connections to use for this situation, and thus change the behaviour.

    If you want to make use of this idea, what might be useful to remember is:

    • All our behaviours are coded in neural circuits and synapses
    • Many of our responses to situations were coded unconsciously – especially when we were young and in the early stages of brain development
    • Not all of these continue to suit us
    • Adults can make new connections too
    • By creating new connections and networks, we can replace inappropriate responses with new responses that are much more useful!

    Call to action

    What inappropriate behaviours do you have that have been coded as unconscious responses to particular situations? What responses would suit you better? When would now be a good time to change them?

    Think of 2 or 3 responses that you have that you would like to change. Choose a new response that would be more appropriate for the situation. Practice using the new response as often as you can. Don’t worry if you occasionally fall back to the old response – the network you are using is pretty hard wired and it will take a bit of time, and lots of practice, to make the new network equally accessible and easy to use. If you persist in the new behaviour, you will find that the old response is completely replaced by the new one.

    Source: Kaizen Training

    Approach to teaching

    Methods there are many, principles but few, methods often change, principles never do