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Right when I asked the Question on trusting your guts and making tough choices, Khaled surprises me with this to the point post in my inbox. And though you all know how much I question my own decisions (it’s out of my control), especially career related, the fatalist in me rejoices at his words. Read on…

My advice to you on facing decision-making time.

Every other day I interact with individuals that are at crossroads of making life-changing decisions. The one thing in common among people weighing out their options is the stress that accompanies such a high involvement exercise. Making a decision is something we do every day; whether we pay attention or not: almost hourly we are faced with choices. But the decisions that really take their toll on our minds are the life-altering ones; the major ones that determine our career path, future, personal and professional progress.

Nearly a decade ago I received the single most helpful advice of my life: advice that I pass on to anyone who knows me on a personal level. And this is advice that I will share with you now. I was in the process of making a major decision, and at the period of time, this decision and its projected outcome were weighing heavily on my conscience. Until an old family friend helped me approach the decision-making process differently. Their advice was as follows:

“Any decision that you make, is the right decision.”

Yes it might be hard to conceive or accept. But it s very true. Any major decision that you are required to independently take will end up being the correct one*. How so, you may ask? This is very simply due to the ability of the human mind to adapt. Humans are able to cope and become accustomed to the situations they’re in (mostly) and are continuously looking for improvement. I like to cite an example that fortifies this advice and illustrate it.

Think of the last time you suffered a minor injury (a small cut or bruise on the arm, per se). The one thing that was definite after your injury is that your skin healed itself daily. Your body is built to recover, regenerate new skin, and eliminate the wound. Likewise, your mind is able to recover, regenerate new thought and attitude to help you cope with stress. Reflect on that while you review the last major decision you took. You will then realize how that same decision you made was the right one simply because you were able to excel and manage the outcome in a way that worked best for you. So if you re about to choose a university major, a job offer, or a change in career path: don’t stress yourself out. Face the decision with head up and a forward-thinking attitude being confident that you will be doing the right thing!

*that being said, I am by no means referring to decisions that involve unhealthy or destructive behavior. Those types of decisions are never the right ones obviously.

BIO: Khaled G. Itani is an ex-AdMan with an MBA in Marketing from the American University of Beirut. With years of Advertising/Communications experience from Grey Beirut and JWT, Khaled is currently a Client Services Manager for a leading North American e-Commerce firm.

If you still haven’t, Read Khaled’s Guest Post on Mastering Habit No. 5 to imprive your understanding of people and situations.

Oh & don’t forget to Participate in my Fringe GiveAway.

Resisting Change

Photo by the fantastic Naeema Zareef (twitter.com/naeema)

Two events have been the highlight of the last week of 2009 for me. One of them was my darling’s stiff resistance of the flu and the other was a live encounter with a typical Marketing Manager 1.0. And , eventually, yours truly got to celebrate the assent of the new year in bed with fever as well… making the lessons learned from these two encounters all the more vivid.

1)Ignore it, Maybe it’ll go away

Years of evolution have not killed the breadwinner’s instinct in men, which even stands above the instinct of self preservation. When your man falls sick, he would always keep on going to work, as usual, doing all his house chores in an exemplary manner, without admitting that something is wrong. I suppose in ancient tribes, the sick were isolated or cast out of the villages & left to die alone. So God forbid for your man to admit that something is wrong. But what goes in the manager’s 1.0’s head is beyond my understanding. M1.0 says that the marketing has not changed and that the foundations and underlying rules still remain valid, he has a moment of truth when he condescends to admit that advertising has changed, and then he switches back to denial by saying that advertising is only a part of marketing, he goes back to touching on changing customer needs, but breaks off at specifics… And, of course, in the same manner that prince charming audaciously refuses to take a sick day and stay in bed, M1.0 would say, – “We do not need a website now, we’ll start working on it in a couple of months, we’re studying our competition for now.” But by the time they are weakened and overpowered by their disease, the first would’ve plowed through a week of 20% productivity at work and then lying in bed for 2 days to recuperate and another week and a half of insane coughing, which is a significant trade off for staying at home for two days, as I did, and then going back to work a 100% recharged.  And our M1.0 Would greatly benefit said competitors by not having a significant online presence by as much as he will frustrate his prospects, who would be unable to find a way to contact them and find out more about their products. And no, a Facebook page is not as good as Corporate website (if you disagree with that, let me know, I’d be more than happy to share my views!).

2) Time Heals everything

Mon Beau will tell you that it takes seven days to cure a flu anyhow, so why bother and put your life on hold? M1.0 says that brand awareness will come with time, after my comment about missing opportunities 5 months after market entry. Well, in my dictionary, one week equals, on average, 70 tweets, 3 blogposts, and a possible email marketing or other online campaign. Multiply that by 5 and you will have thousands of touchpoints with your clients that come at a fraction of a cost of traditional media. Maybe our generation is too aggressive, but less than a month in my new job, I am already feeling unproductive for not bringing in more value and having to cram up on literature/research 50% of my time and that is precisely why, I use the remaining 50% to make actionable change NOW. In my eye, less is more in the long run, and little things done now, be it a greeting card, sms, news release… may not just prevent you from LOSING an existing client, but also get you a new client TODAY!

3) Expenditure = ROI

When hubby does reach a pharmacy, after 5 days, he’ll sweep off the shelves everything  that can remotely help him, or at least that is what he thinks. But by that time, the poles have shifted and all he needs to do is really wait, sip orange juice and rest to recover, instead of ingesting antibiotics which will further drain his life -resources. M1.o will also go to extremes, after 5 months, hiring top models, pampering them and doing runway shows, publishing ads in glitzy magazines… in two words maniacally spending!  But same-same, time would’ve done its thing, and that extra investment would’ve been too little too late! But that does not mean that you shouldn’t still take in your vitamins regularly. Don’t wait until you get a soar throat to take action. Act now, act always! Because,

4) Nobody Cares about YOU, as much as You!

Your boss is not going to give you a day off when you are saying you are a little sick but already came to work, and your clients are not going to run 20 google searches, searching for your coordinates if you landing page, facebook page, twitter handle or corporate website have not been SEO and keyword optimized. And if your marketing campaign does not relate to me, your target client, and if I do not find what I want about you, no money in the world would buy you my consumer’s sentiment and loyalty. And beware, I am too studying your competitors, and so far , they are ahead of you.

5) Birds do it, bees do it…

Men have this secret solidarity pact about enduring illness at the office, when I used to take a sick day at my previous job, I sometimes felt my boss took it as a personal offense. On the other hand, my spouse’s boss can call him while he’s sick saying, – “Aren’t you man enough, chuck on some pills and get on going!”. Bizarre and unacceptable, but, nonetheless true! But, even if denial is the trend, you should take advantage of it. While everyone is “hachooing” at the office, retreat and come back rosy cheeked and productive. And while your competitors are stuck in their old ways, you have the time to experiment, innovate and advance! Your mindset is your only handicap!

Post Approved for publishing by Prince Charming, M1.0 feedback pending. What about you?

-What is Live Tweeting?

– It is a lot like Live TV transmissions or Live Radioshows, only on Twitter.


But , you’ll say that everyone is Live Tweeting, and you are right because Twitter is all about the NOW. But you need to think of Live Tweeting as a live transmission of some football championship or a Miss World pageant, per se. It has to do with live coverage of a certain event by tweeps through tweets.

So why would you* Live Tweet ?

1- For Advanced and Compact Note-taking

Live tweeting seemed very natural to me, being a multi-tasker by nature, it is very hard for me to concentrate on one thing. So concentrating on a talk, while tweeting, helps me concentrate better on both.  But not everyone is as screwed as me, I know. So think about it this way. If you watch Oprah, you’ll notice Oprah sometimes repeats several times tips, ‘aha moments’, conclusions, main idea during the talk show to direct the conversation and concentrate the viewer’s attention. In that context, livetweeting is the equivalent of bullet-point summarizing an event. But instead of using pen and paper, you now have the ability to do that online, while sharing it with everyone who is interested in ”what are you doing right now” – your twitter followers. Which brings us to the next reason to live tweet.

2- For Personal Branding

When you are at an event, especially a conference, you hold access to privileged information. Afterall, there are a maximum of 2,000 people at this event, sharing the same experiences with you at that moment. As we are in the ME, a maximum of a 100 (very optimistically) of these might be tweeting about it. How many people are out there who want to know what is happening at this event? How many are tracking the event’s hashtag? How many searching this event on Google? How many people will RT a clever idea, a quote or a remark you beam from the trenches? By providing quality ( content is king at all times) exclusive information, you are not only tweeting to your followers, you are tweeting to everyone interested in the event/subject. Are you seeing the implications of this: the greater number of followers/blog readers you will get, the people at the event who will want to meet you, the grateful organizers who you can now ask for a favor….

And after a series of live tweets of various events, you will have complete authority in the community on the subject matter(s) you’ve covered, but not only that, they will be grateful to you for sharing your experience and dedicating your time to making them a part of it , their own Prometheus. In short, “Sharing is caring!” and caring in the Social Media world is always recompensed in tenfold.

{Not to mention that some events now provide free entrance to live bloggers and live tweeters}

3- To Promote Your Event (During the Event)

Here’s something I learned from the queen of  twitterEven if you do not have one follower on twitter, even if no one in your niche knows what twitter is, you can still harness its power. You can summarize the key points of your event as it happens, you can post photos of your event live and display your whole twitter stream on YOUR event’s website.

Did I hear someone say: “What if my customer / target group does not visit the website, is not computer literate?”

Well if worst, comes to worst, besides advising you to find a job in a web 2.0 savvy industry, I am going to tell you two things. One, it is always hard to be the pioneer, but you will leverage the greatest benefits. Sooner or later everyone will be online, be it on twitter or any other en-mode platform. But now you have the advantage of learning the rules of engagement, and experimenting with social media limitlessly, something you will not be able to do in the future. ans second, if for nothing else, once your event is over, you will need to have a good old press release or or your newsletter (printed or online). And the summary of all the tweets about your event ( be it yours, or your community’s)is not only a good place to start gathering your thoughts, but also a good appendix to your press kit (all of which is a part of traditional media) . And third… well I was going to talk about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) again, but then I remebered you are still in Web -1 so ask me about it when you catch up!

There is not one resource, more powerful than twitter for spreading word of mouth, and that is what marketers dream day and night about, isn’t it? So Why not use it and leverage it, after all, it is also FREE!

4- To measure an event’s success

As I said, everyone needs to be concerned about word of mouth, and your real estate space on the web. By announcing an event hashtag prior the event, provide a live-tweets stream on your site displaying all tweets with your hash tag, reply to all questions and comments, learn from positive and negative feedback… then you are on the right track. It has become customary to evaluate and event’s reach, success through evaluating the volume, quality of tweets during and after it.

Simply: Tweets = Publicity = Brand Equity

5-To promote your business in the context of the event

If you are just attending/visiting an industry related event or venue, on behalf of your business / personal brand, you can tweet about things that are in context of what your company does around the subject of the event. Let us say your company sells Ceramic tiles. “Twitter and Ceramic Tiles?! !” – say you? Well you go to Italian Exhibitions about Ceramic Tiles, don’t you? Do your customers know that? Wouldn’t they want to know what kind of tiles you are going to buy for your new collection, what are the tile trends this season, what colors/materials are in? Wouldn’t they want to see some photos? Wouldn’t they want to share this with others who want to buy tiles, change their home decor, interested in interior design?

And now tell me, wouldn’t that enhance YOUR company’s image as a point of reference and an expert in YOUR  field?

As I mentioned, Live Tweeting has always felt very natural to me, but what has inspired me to write this post  was the launch of livetweeting.com today for the live broadcasting of LeWeb to the Arab world. Livetweeting is the 1st Arab Live Tweeting Platform with Crowd-sourced Translation to and from Arabic.

” A group of live tweeters will be covering the event in its Native Language, for example English, and at the same time multi-lingual tweeters will crowdsource translation of the coverage to a second language, for example Arabic. All that will be presented in real-time on LiveTweeting.com.”

___________________________________________________________________________________________

* as a marketer , someone who is online for networking or building their personal brand

* you may also want to check some tips for livetweeting

You may remember that @ammouni had one those great “creatively organized” desks in the #MYDESK post. But people on twitter were gauding her, nominating her desk as the “most messy” desk . Not being able to bear it any longer, she decided to join the ranks of  “normal desks”. Below is a Before & after 🙂 So let’s give her a hand of support!

Before

@amouni's desk before

After

@ammouni's desk after

So would this change last for long?

If you are not following me on twitter you have missed a lot! We have been going at this for about 2.5 weeks and I am really impressed by the tremendous feedback from all my tw-friends… And now is the moment of Truth!

 

 How did #MYDESK Start?

Well, I was reading this blogpost about “working space image” from one of my favorite bloggers – Penelope Trunk. So basically it says that your desk portrays your image and you should be careful on how you manage you desk space, and what that projects about you. Having a messy desk myself ( even extremely messy at times) , I was disgruntled by that people with neat desks are considered more productive.

I am one of those people who can not manage a tidy desk, i simply can’t work on one, having so many projects I need all my papers to be within reach and combined and mixed for me to start forming the bigger picture. I feel less productive if I have to put the files back every two seconds… Even Penelope’s blogpost provides a counter argument saying “”Messiness is related to creativity because it tends to juxtapose things that don’t normally go together.”

Anyway, I know that its a pretty radical subject so I will not be blabbing about it any further, here is a photo of my desk at its worst! There you have it!

need to say in my defense that i specifically chose a very messy photo to post. (why do we messy people always feel the need to justify ourselves?)

need to say in my defense that i specifically chose a very messy photo to post. (why do we messy people always feel the need to justify ourselves?)

So anyhow, after I read this post, I wanted to know if there are people out there like me. And I Tweeted about the link and asked the question. I did not even to gets pics… and then I did… and everybody started participating and commenting…

 

The Desks

 As I said it went back and forth the pst three weeks, with me encouraging everyone on the network to show us what their desks look like and starting a mini competition. and at one point I wasn’t able to keep up with you guys:)

 

So let’s move the competition here. Comment, tell me what you think ?

 & if I’ve missed your desk, give me the link & I’ll repost it.

 

The “Creatively Organized” (code name for messy, but we do not accept the negative connotation)

(hover over the photo to see whose desk it is)

 @funkyozzi's colleague@manuelwazen@madhattar

@danyawad

nadjakh@ghassanb@ammouni@dashkoun34449368@smaldosari@larazankoul@hazz

The Elegant

hatemdex

@patricksemaan

The playful

@samerjay@noisythinking31608020@sleiman zr

The Zen Like & Minimalistic

 @scdxb@sanatawileh

 

What Normal Desks should look like?

961 nerd@sragheb@shanty2@shanty2@vipwoody@funyozzi@mayazankoul@marienakhle

 

The Musical

@toniyammine

Social Networking Workspace

@samerkaram

The Hig-tech

 

@haythamkhouja

@rtayyem@najinujumi@danymoussa

The Untraditional

@dksfood

@inine

 The Office with the Best View

I couldn’t embed Twitvid so you have to go through the link, but truly this office space needs to be seen http://www.twitvid.com/163C5

@mhallani

& this @mhallani's desk at this amazing office 😀 Lots of natural light and a beautiful view of the marina!

 

So What does your desk look like ?

* I’ve noticed there’s a new user on twitter Mydeskpicwho got recently created yesterday, just wanted to tell you, that it has nothing to do with me.:)

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now, but was always afraid to approach it, or undermine the importance of the subject matter. Because it is a story that personally touched me & encourages me to push myself every day…

In her last month in the company Angi had an extra beat to her step, a glamorous shine in her eyes and was always accompanied by a very trendy white clutch bag. Only at the farewell party, did I find out that this is what she was planning to do in the future – her own brand of hand bags, purses and clutches…. I instantly had a million questions and incessantly bullied her into answering them & showing me more….

The Dream

“I always had it my head that I want to do something, my own thing, so that people will know this is Angi“*, Angi told me. But when there is a flood of Graphic designers with raging price wars, Angi though to herself : “What does a girl want? What can’t she do without?“.

The unique business model

Having previous experience with leather business gift items, certainly helped. But please do not understand the challenges of finding perfect quality execution, raw material suppliers and building a satisfactory business model. All of which Angi has achieved through sweat and blood slash careering between her office job and her entrepreneurial dream.

She focused on selling through various exhibitions, getting the word out through Facebook, and certainly satisfied customers. She told me that a whole chain of recurring clients can sometimes build up through one random purchase: “A guy buys a bag for his girlfriend, then his mother, then his friend wants to buy for his fiance… and now you have a group of loyal clients.”

And her business-model has a lot of integrity too. “I do not pitch up my prices like many retailers do, it simply doesn’t work for me, my prices are fixed and I can not bargain a lot with my clients, but at the end, I would never allow myself to price a handbag over what I, as a young girl, would afford to pay for one…It is not fair  it is not right…”. Angi told me that on average all  her handbags are between 30-65 USD, which is a premium bargain, since they are hand made in Lebanon using the best materials and accessories.

Going an extra mile is also normal for Angi, she accepts orders via telephone and can even design custom models upon request. Moreover, she is ready to deliver anywhere within Lebanon, and she even does it in person most of the time.

Angi Barakat Biel Invitation

The Future

Besides being in every major exhibition on the Lebanese terrain, Angi is now planning to open her own store really soon, and is also working hard on launching her own website. And she is happy with what she has achieved so far – ” The good thing is that people are starting to know Angi as a brand.”

 

So even if you are not in need of a handbag drop by the Mother & Baby exhibition @ Biel to meet this extraordinarily inspiring girl, who has such amazing energy. Maybe it will rub off on you, as it did on me 🙂 And remember if you think hard enough about it and work enough your dreams will come true too.

 

 

 

Do you know any other successful young entrepreneurs?

*All quotes in this post are liberal and not literal

layalisoulelatik