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.

It has been a long time since I have published a tangible post and a lot has been happening in the media scene in Lebanon. And a lot of exciting things have been taking place in the Lebanese Social Media Scene…

I have got the best news for you: the educational sector is finally catching on on the gap between the dogmas and the realities. This Spring Ayman Itani will be giving a course in LAU on Media, Culture and Technology. The course will provide an in-depth overview of everything out there for complete beginners and focus on teaching  not only the how & why of  using these tools, but also the New Media Mindset empowering them with real case studies and practical work shops. Ayman also has a couple of surprises up his sleeves for the lucky students taking his course and will be updating us on their progress all through the way, so stay tuned!

Media Culture & Technology course at LAU spring 2010

Another fabulous thing is that traditional media has now also acknowledged the new media channels and with the help of Social Media enthusiasts like Amer Tabsh it is starting to get the coverage it deserves. Below are Video Clips from a Live show on Lebanese Future TV interviewing Maya Zankoul, Samer Karam and Ayman Itani regarding their twitter addictions. Hopefully this will encourage new active Lebanese twitter users as well as companies to experiment with twitter and other media.

In other news, you can check my Bloggers FaceOff on Chanty’s blog.

So what’s new in your lives my dears?

Openings at silkor lebanon and dubai

It was her birthday, but there was a death in the family, so she went to pay her condolences and told her parents they’d celebrate her birthday once she comes back from her business trip to Gabon… She has traveled this route many times and yet this time something was different – she really felt that she did not want to go! She was envious of her colleague, whose daughter was sick and who had the chance not to travel on that day and join in on the exhibition later. She really did not want to travel… After packing her stuff, she handed her car keys to her flatmate and she told her: “if anything happens to me, like the plane crashes … give these to my parents and tell them I really love them!”

She was the daughter of my mother’s friend… and she died on that plane crash…

When my mother was telling me this on the phone I felt really spooked out and really touched… and that is exactly why I wanted to share this with you… This raises many questions and many emotions in me…

Should we trust our feelings no matter how paranoid they get?

My deepest condolences to all who have been touched by this tragedy.

UPDATE: the lucky winner is KrikorianM, stay tuned for more giveaways!

Fringe DVDs giveawaysYou know how parents who do not have enough time to spend with their families, buy out their love? Well, I really want to bribe you all for being patient in my infrequent posting. 

To get a chance to win the full season 1 of Fringe, (non-original DVDs watched once by me in a Marathon on this NYE) just leave a comment below. You can also be a conscientious reader and give me advise and tell me what you’d like to read about next 🙂

P.S. The DVDs will be available for Pickup in Beirut and will wait for you as long as it takes.

Winner will be chosen at random on Valentine’s Day:)


Yes I have… I  am sorry… I have been saving these for the OLD New Year but then , of course, I got busy as well…

Anyways, I know all of you are feeling bad about the Season’s festivities being over… So maybe it’s a good chance to wallow in denial!

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?

Firstly, Happy New Year my Dear Readers. I have been submerging myself in work, but do not fret, amazing material is coming up on this blog, as well as a possible move and re-decoration 🙂 The year ahead is full of surprises.
As usual I am VERY lucky to receive very devoted, much more experienced guest experts. In fact, my dear Khaled, was dedicated enough to write this post on his blackberry, within the same day! So, before I leave you with this post, I would like to thank him for enlightening me on there being more to number 5 that Chanel, and drop a spoiler: Khaled will be contributing 4 more posts to this blog on amazing subjects, imparting his priceless experiences in Advertisement, Communication and Personal Branding! So Read on and stay tuned!

Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. If you read/follow the work of Stephen R. Covey, then you have already recognized this as Habit Number 5 from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If you don’t, then there’s a chance that this phrase may come off as sort of a cliche. Let’s explore how essential this practice is in effective communication: Understanding your respondent; Seeking to gather as much information as possible before you respond. As simple as it may it sound, I still find it the number one challenge in business and personal communications: the ability to put yourself in the other person s shoes (metaphorically, that is). The analogy I will present next is my aim at materializing this practice (seeking first to understand) and clarifying it.


I’ve developed a useful habit while driving over the past few years. I find this new habit particularly helpful considering the strict driving laws in the State of Arizona. Recently I’ve started applying the learning from this driving habit to everyday communications, and the results: fascinating.

The Habit: As I drive I always look beyond the driver ahead of me. I focus more on the cars in front of him/her rather than on this driver s behavior. This usually improves my reaction time and helps me better understand the driving dynamic.

The application: How does this help communication? Simple: imagine a normal conversation as a driving experience. You steer the conversation as you would drive your car: to get to places/destinations. Now imagine yourself as driver A. Imagine the person you are talking to as driver B (the car right in front of you on the freeway). And imagine all other concerned individuals to be drivers C,D,E all driving in front of Driver B.

As driver A, you are less prone to colliding with driver B when you understand how driver B is reacting/interacting with drivers C,D,E If you notice driver C coming to a sudden stop, you will focus more on slowing down BEFORE reacting to driver B s sudden stop.

Now apply that same logic to a human interaction: In order to better interact with someone, you need to first know why they behave as they do, how are they reacting to their surroundings, what drives/motivates them. These are the things you need to understand first, BEFORE attempting to put your points across.

Several years back, I applied habit number five with a client and it resulted in a successful communication flow. I was handling an account with a client who was continously angry, and hence agressive in their approach to matters at hand. A few months of having to deal with this, I found out 2 facts that shifted my paradigm:

1-The client was in fact a working mother, who due to the excessive amount of business trips was experiencing frustration and disconnect with her 2 year old daughter.

2-I stumbled upon a survey result that said ‘Working women, are the employees with the highest amount of stress levels’

Knowing these 2 facts made for a much smoother approach to my angry client. I understood the nature of her behavior was in no way related to the quality of work or the people that are delivering it.

In conclusion, Habit number 5 (Seeking first to understand, then to be understood) can be put to use by understanding that: the best relationship you (driver A) can have with someone else (driver B) is to understand how they are acting in response to other individuals (drivers C,D,E ).

BIO: Khaled 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.

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Disclaimer: I am aware that most of my dear readers are nothing like the Lebanese Laila I speak of. In fact, my readers are amazing bright Lebanese women who reject being branded with media stereotypes and have worked hard to become well established respected  professionals .  Male readers, especially those from outside of Lebanon, may not believe that such a species of women actually exists here, but it DOES… And unfortunately,  it co-exists with the cliched “Haifa like” “Lebanese Laila”. Images and personifications of which are all too painful for true Lebanese women to see. So I am really sorry my dear readers for delving to explore this cliche, I do not abet Laila or aspire to be like her, but I  I believe that the Lebanese Laila is a brand. A brand which in spite of all of the harm caused, can teach us a lot!

This post is part of the Kolena Laila Campaign.

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Yes the “Lebanese Leila” gets a lot of laughs and criticism from us women for being silly, superficial, unambitious, short-sighted… But then again, doesn’t Laila always get what she wants effortlessly? And isn’t that what everyone, not just a marketer, wants? … Now you’re listening? Well, take notes:

1) Be where you community is.

No my dears, Laila does not Blog! Laila does not even Twitter! Some of you may say it is because she does not have much to say… But no, it is because she knows all too well her target audience. And she knows that her target audience of Don-Juans and starlets does not read, does not spend time in soul digging and does not have an artistic streak. She knows that her audience is on Facebook, and she makes sure to have a very attractive profile there. Which brings us to point two.

2) Always give your audience what they want.

They don’t read, but they have eye-balls and curiosity. And Laila always makes sure to have a great set of profile pics of her at “such and such party” or “such and such wedding” make-uped and air-brushed to perfection.  Her fans, her target audience, her prospective husband to be, will devour these photos  and comment on them (audience engagement). Moreover, these photos together with the comments will enlarge her footprint on the web and spread her content through her audience. And that is what every brand wants!

3) Be active in connecting to your audience.

Laila is always the first one to wish you a Happy Birthday, give you a nudge / missed call if you have not connected in a while and adding you on facebook after meeting you after a random gig in Gemmayze. And that is how she retains a “loyal” network of connections. [Chuckles of Disbelief in background] Well these strategies are exactly what allow Laila to get extra $$$ on her mobile phone credit whenever her heart desires, get a free invite to a party, or even get that necklace that she put as her display photo for a week on facebook with a tag ” I WANT THIS” instead of slaving for months to buy it…Sad, But True.

4) If you can’t create  – imitate.

To us mere mortals, Laila seems like a fashion victim, with her Haifa lips, tatooed eyebrows, Shakira Curls, Rihanna Shorts… Then again, doesn’t Laila make heads turn in the mall (product placement)? Doesn’t she have her photos all over Layalina and Mondalite (free PR)? Doesn’t she have more friends on facebook as a result (brand equity)? And eventually more choice of rich cavaliers for her to choose to be-wed (product demand) ? And keep in mind this is what she wants!(achieving marketing objectives)


5) Know your competition.

Even Layla knows, that in today’s open age it is a loss not to keep track of what your competitors are doing and using it to your advantage. She will always text you when Celine’s dress is too short, Jana’s husband is cheating on you, or email you and another 100 of close friends a video of Dana wasted at a party. She would always go shopping with her drop dead gorgeous cousin, whom her fiance adores, just to advise her to buy the ugly top and last season boots. And yes , when she was 16, she would spend hours browsing through her “frenemies'” new photos, because if just one of them got their nose done this year, she also had to do it.

So you see, if Laila can do it and achieve her marketing objectives, you with YOUR BRAIN can as well, just play by the rules of the New Media Age.

So tell me, have I missed anything?

P.S. I Found this FANTASTIC lebanese blog all dedicated to Lebanese Illustrators, check it out: http://kootoob.blogspot.com

Images via: Maya Zankoul, http://kootoob.blogspot.com and  Stavro .

Haven’t we all got used to the “one page of content / one page ad” ratio in all our periodicals. Most of the time you start subconsciously to focus only on the left hand side pages, completely ignoring the sponsored content. Sometimes we just glance at the photos, as a visual distraction to text and completely ignore any content. As a believer in new media I often wonder about the returns of ads in print media. Do they really justify the costs? Don’t get me wrong, I love the print, the glitter of colors on pulp, the slithering of leaves… * But it does not get as many eyeballs as it did before. Your executive / target buyer is really buying the magazine for content, he has no time, he reads the content he wants to read and then goes off to his emails, rss feeds, reports… even fashionista’s are not so easy to seduce these days…

Oh well, I have veered from the subject, the second best way to get people engaged in your ad, besides giving them a freebie or a discount, creating a teaser ad. Curiosity is a drive and people will readily flip to the next spread just to see what’s going on. Works on all of us, even the snobbiest execs. And this what EFG Hermes are counting on.

Now, Tell me what you think!

{some see aim for the top}

{We consider it as our launching point}

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* But the environmentalist in me wants the print dead or at least wants to see it be more sustainable, and the rationalist in me says that digital natives will take over the world in the upcoming 20 years which will drastically change the Print Media. But of course the consumerist in me LOVES the Print as it knows far too well all the intricacies of what it takes to Print and to Print well.

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