Even topless dancers can be connectors

June 26th, 2009 by Admin

If you’ve read The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell’s hallmark work, then you’re familiar with Gladwell’s three characters that combine to make things tip: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen.

Mavens are hubs of valuable information. Salesmen sell. And connectors connect. But topless dancers?

Even a topless dancer can be a connector, as Todd Taskey blogged about in Business Management Daily.

Who knows how long will it be until you tip? All you can do is keep dancing…

Check out the rest of the story here.

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Business for Peace

June 24th, 2009 by Admin

Congratulations to Anders Dahlvig, winner of the 2009 Oslo Business for Peace Award! Dahlvig became the CEO of IKEA in 1999 and has led the home-furnishing giant to unprecedented levels of socially engaged business. A brief bio on Dahlvig:

‘Anders Dahlvig started working for IKEA in 1984 and has held various positions since, including Store Manager, Country Manager of United Kingdom and Vice President, Europe. He assumed his current position as CEO in 1999. Under Mr. Dahlvig’s leadership, IKEA has placed sustainability at the heart of its product development and supply strategy. Thus, for instance, in 2000, the company has introduced IWAY, which stands for “The IKEA Way of Purchasing Home Furnishing Products”. This code of conduct defines what suppliers can expect from IKEA and what IKEA requires from its suppliers in terms of legal requirements, working conditions, the active prevention of child labor, environmental protection and forestry management. In 2007, IKEA decided to do even more and started a number of joint projects with the WWF on climate change, in order to reduce carbon emissions caused by its business.’

The annual Oslo Summit for Business and Peace addresses the ethical and responsible aspects of business; this years focused on a call for ‘Conscious Capitalism,’ and a new wave of social awareness in business.  Learn more about it here: Oslo Summit.

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Work, Reinvented

June 24th, 2009 by Admin

Despite the recession, many Americans have been able to rework their jobs and reinvent their work/life balance. This is a key component in creating the good life as you see fit. To read more examples of this, check out Work Reinvented (link to Forbes article).

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Where can the path lead?

June 18th, 2009 by Admin

For an exciting example of truly leading a whole entrepreneurial life, check out Location Independent.

After getting exhausted by the rat race and laid off, Lea & Jonathan Woodward chose to redirect their lives toward independence and their desire to see the world, while making a difference. The result? They now run their company, Kinetiva–a company dedicated to building communities of progressively-minded people who want to shape their own lives rather than accept a typical one–from various locations around the world as they travel and experience their dream life.

Learn more about their exciting journey and their work at Location Independent.

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A Countess with a cause

June 13th, 2009 by Admin

So it turns out the princess that every little girl dreams about being actually exists.

Countess Albina du Boisrouvray — a Bolivian tin magnate’s granddaughter who’s related to Monaco’s ruling Grimaldi family — has a big heart to go with her deep pockets. In 1988, her 24 year old, helicopter-rescue-pilot son was killed in a helicopter crash in Mali.

Devastated by the loss, the Countess decided to continue his work of rescuing people. She sold her business holdings and real estate and put $50 million towards creating FXB (her son’s initials), a Swiss charity that helps children that have AIDS, or could be orphaned by AIDS, by helping their families build microenterprises.

So far, 86% of the families funded have earned enough to rise above their country’s poverty level. Read the rest of the story here… (link to Forbes article)

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Seek meaning, service in life

June 10th, 2009 by Admin

From The Washington Times, Wed., May 20, 2009

As millions of American students graduate from high schools and colleges in cap-and-gown ceremonies both solemn and festive this spring, perhaps now is a good time to reflect on their prospects for successful living and working. Of course, those entering the working world are doing so at a time of great uncertainty and financial distress, with tight employment and credit markets.

It’s possible, though, that the recession could be a fleeting concern compared to a more personal and lasting challenge they face: finding their moorings amid a sea of choices in a culture that sends them profoundly mixed messages. Decades ago, the life and career paths of the young largely were spelled out in advance, but today’s youth must forge their own path. That can be liberating and unnerving for young people without much basis for making such vital decisions.

Graduation speakers across the land already are dispensing lessons learned and wisdom earned. What have we learned in recent decades about how to live – about how to lead productive, successful, rewarding and fulfilling lives?

Fortunately, a lot.

Not long ago, a sea change swept through the field of psychology, flipping the focus from debilitating conditions and diseases (i.e., what makes people suffer) to happiness and success (i.e., what makes people thrive). The emergent “positive psychology,” led by such luminaries as Martin Seligman (author of “Authentic Happiness”) and Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi (author of “Flow”), resonates not only with new research on youth and adult development, but also with surveys of key factors leading to success in life (from books such as “Success Built to Last”) and studies of people in their twilight years reflecting on how they lived. It also gibes with ancient ideas of happiness dating back to Aristotle and his concept of “eudaimonia,” or a full flourishing of self through excellence and virtue.

One could synthesize this convergence of research and thinking with two key words: meaning and service. That is, find ways to have meaningful connections with and make significant contributions to others. Meaning and service.

Fortunately, there is evidence that the rising generations get this. Countless surveys have indicated they are civic- and service-minded, and that many are not only “life shoppers” – searching for a lifestyle that suits them – but seekers of meaning and connection as well as success and wealth.

Take, for example, two high school seniors who recently received AXA Achievement scholarships: Joshua Wortzel and Brittany Bergquist. Mr. Wortzel started the Garden of Giving, which grows and donates organic produce to local homeless shelters via a solar-powered greenhouse located at a Pennsylvania retirement home, with 20 students and 10 senior citizens running it. The project fosters intergenerational connections while serving homeless people and cultivating environmental stewardship in the community.

Ms. Bergquist started Cell Phones for Soldiers with her brother, Robbie, when they were 13 and 12, respectively. To date, they have raised almost $2 million and distributed more than 500,000 prepaid calling cards to soldiers overseas. The project started when they were getting ready for school one morning and saw a TV report about an Army Reservist in Iraq who unknowingly racked up a cell phone bill of more than $7,600. Outraged, they ran upstairs, drained their piggy banks, hit up their friends at school for donations, and got to work. (continued…)

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Talent proven in adversity

June 9th, 2009 by Admin

From The Washington Times, Wed., May 6, 2009

All around us, we are feeling the bite of this recession, with stories of lost jobs driving anxiety over the potential of losing our livelihood. It may be time to take a different view of our circumstances. Specifically, this may be the best time to start thinking about what you really want to do in life.

In studying great leaders over time, authors Warren Bennis and Bob Thomas learned that many of them discovered their leadership abilities in times of significant stress – during “crucible moments.” A classic example of this is the time Nelson Mandela spent in a prison cell. He emerged a transformed individual and leader.

As Mr. Bennis subsequently wrote, “Whatever is thrown at them, leaders emerge from their crucibles stronger and unbroken. No matter how cruel the testing, they become more optimistic and more open to experience.”

As we open our eyes to the possibilities, two instincts tend to kick in. The first is a jolt of adrenaline where the dreams start to take shape in the form of a palpable sense that, my gosh, I can do that. Pen goes to paper, and the proverbial sketch on the napkin begins to emerge. Then fear kicks in, followed by strong dose of self-doubt and a string of excuses: not the right time, not the right place, not the right set of experiences, just plain not ready.

Fair enough – but let’s break that down. What is holding you back? For many, personal finances is a primary barrier. This is a strong driver and should weigh into any decision-making. As one begins to do the math, however, one quickly should be asking, “What are my needs versus wants?”

In our race to keep up with the Joneses, we have a tendency to get ourselves in trouble by living way above our means (which is, in part, what led to this mess). How about going the opposite direction and figuring out how to live below your means, thereby creating the financial flexibility necessary to pursue your dream? Granted, this takes time and discipline, but is the possibility of creating a fulfilled life worth it?

Another factor that tends to hold people back is a low tolerance for risk. Without a doubt, taking the path less traveled means venturing into the unknown. As strategist and author Jim Collins pointed out, “As an entrepreneur, you know what your risks are. You see them. You understand them. You manage them. If you join someone else’s company, you may not know those risks, and not because they don’t exist. You just can’t see them, and you can’t manage them. That’s a much more exposed position than the entrepreneur faces.”

Even as an entrepreneur in control of your own destiny, however, the path ahead is inevitably opaque and ambiguous. How do you get beyond that? (read more…)

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Greenest city in America

June 3rd, 2009 by Admin

From  The Washington Times, Wed., April 22, 2009

At about 9:25 p.m. on May 4, 2007, the tornado siren in Greensburg, Kan., sounded its warning. Most of the city’s 1,574 people probably didn’t pay much attention, given how common tornadoes are in the state.

This one was different, however. At 9:45 p.m., an F-5 tornado arrived in full force. The funnel had a footprint 1.7 miles wide – wider than the city itself – and winds up to 205 mph, the highest ever recorded. Once the storm had finished its work, 11 people had died, 95 percent of the city had been leveled, and fewer than a dozen homes were left standing. Hardly any walls were standing, and most people had lost all of their material possessions. Virtually all of the local businesses had been destroyed.

The city, which had been named for D.R. “Cannonball” Green, a stagecoach company owner who had helped to form the city, faced an existential question: Should we rebuild at all? Some could say it was a dying place with a dwindling population, scarce jobs and generations of high school graduates fleeing to bigger cities.

But something remarkable happened in the wake of the maelstrom. In a large circus tent set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency outside of town, an intrepid group of survivors hatched a plan to rebuild their home as the greenest city in America – the most environmentally sustainable and energy-efficient in the nation. The goal is to power the city with 100 percent renewable energy and attract a booming green trade that will be the envy of the world.

Several months after the twister hit, the city council approved an unprecedented and historic plan that would have all public buildings conform to the platinum rating of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, the holy grail of such ratings. (read more…)

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Search Institute a beacon for youth

June 2nd, 2009 by Admin

From The Washington Times, Wed., March 25, 2009

It has been said that generations are shaped by defining moments such as World War II, the Vietnam War or the countercultural movements of the 1960s. In the midst of today’s recession and its attendant credit crunch, housing bust and global downturn, where does that leave today’s youth – particularly the Millennial Generation, born from 1982 to 2001?

Today’s youth have been getting mixed signals. On the one hand, they have come of age during a boom in business entrepreneurship (Google, YouTube and Facebook) and social entrepreneurship (Ashoka, Teach for America and microlender Grameen Bank, which earned the Nobel Peace Prize) as well as a surge in the use of communications-related technology (social networking and texting) and a growing green revolution.

On the other hand, they have been witnesses to (and, for some, participants in) two wars, Hurricane Katrina, the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, an obesity epidemic, climate change and Wall Street meltdowns. They have seen multiple bubbles burst, and it has been widely predicted that today’s youth will have a lower standard of living than their parents. What a difference a decade makes.

Some might read the tea leaves and predict (read more…)

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