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2009 » August

Seat Belts and Disability

August 31, 2009 by  

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‘Inti helwa, bis inti zei akhtie’ urges the young man enthusiastically raising his right hand, his fingers simultaneously pressing back and forth in my direction. The other guests seated in the welcoming room of the dilapidated house in the Ghror, one of the poorest areas of Jordan, erupt in laughter. The distinction with which this young man specifies his brotherly love for me serves as a reference of respect, and more importantly reassurance he is not hitting on me. Literally translated, I have just been told, ‘you are beautiful, but only as a sister’. Not thirty seconds later, the young man, Samer, jumps to his feet, raises both hands in the air and begins to shout ‘bismillah, rahman, al rahim’, the first line of the Al Fatha prayer, and also the beginning of the Qur’an. Now repeating the same sentence incessantly, he shouts violently at least twenty times, as I watch in horror, and my translator and driver urge him to continue, reciting, ‘mashallah’ or ‘how beautiful God has made this’. When he finally ceases, he takes a bow and returns to the large colorful cushion covered with tribal fabric from which he leapt. ‘Do you know what I prayed?’…

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Is Publicis Groupe a dead brand? The Wild Wild East Goes West IX

August 31, 2009 by  

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As my parting note from Paris, please read the following post from Seth Godin here, and then my non-encounter with Publicis Groupe afterward. Seth Godin is a best selling author on marketing and regularly conducts seminars with Fortune 500 marketing staffs.  Brands that matter

In this era, there are two questions every marketer answers:
Do I want people to interact with me and my brand in unexpected ways (as opposed to just quietly consume it)? When they interact, do I overwhelm people with delight worth remarking about?
If you think about dead brands like Tide or United Airlines, the answer to both questions is clearly ‘no’. On the other hand, vibrant growing brands manage to answer both questions with a resounding ‘yes.’ It’s not an accident and it’s not easy, but if you do it right, it may be worth it.
Paris, Publicis,  Groupe, Marcel Blaustein-Blanchet, Seth Godin, Charles De Gaulle, Harry S. Truman, Leo Burnett, Saatchi and Saatchi, On our trip through Paris I had it clearly marked on my itinerary that I wanted to stop by Publicis and talk with one of their International directors about the concept of Infinite Wisdom

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Sports Fandom is the Same the World Over

August 31, 2009 by  

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I went to a soccer game in Beijing (Beijing vs. Chengdu) and my takeaway was simple: sports fandom is sports fandom and intense, crazy fans are all over the world. It’s universal. Nothing felt as global / common as the soccer game experience.



Philippines-BICOL ADVENTURE , Part 2

August 31, 2009 by  

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Since we got a lot of the cuisine-tripping out of the way on Day 1, the next couple of days in Bicol was devoted to checking out the sights. We were in the heart of Bicol in the province of Albay, in its capital city, Legazpi. MAYON VOLCANO, at 8,000 feet, looms majestically over the city. Depending on where you stand, it starts taking over the sky itself. Mayon has been called the world’s most nearly perfect cone and as I stood on the steps of DARAGA CHURCH, built atop a hill in 1773, gazing at the still-active volcano in awe, I would not dispute the claim; it truly is a magnificent mountain. Daraga Church is a bit of a historical relic itself. Built from volcanic rock, it was designed with Baroque architecture in mind and has articulate religious carvings on its façade. Nearby lies the awesome CAGSAWA RUINS, an 18th-century church buried in lava from Mayon’s catastrophic eruption of 1814. Only the belfry of the bell tower remains visible above ground, mute testimony to Mayon’s fiery temper. Near the town of Tabaco, up on the on the eastern slope of Mayon at an altitude of 3,000 feet, stands an…

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Philippines-BICOL, Land of Fire

August 29, 2009 by  

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The Bicol region lies some 500 kilometers south of Manila, the Philippine capital, and is composed of six provinces. While a bit off the beaten path – most travelers to the Philippines opt for Boracay, Cebu or the Banawe Rice Terraces – Bicol surprisingly offers many options for the adventurous traveler. Recently exploring this land of fiery cuisine and majestic vistas, I was amazed at its diversity. We rented a van and hit the national highway from Manila at 3 a.m. on what the driver claimed was to be a 7 to 8 hour road trip (wink, wink). Well, it was more like 10, pit stops and all. Nobody seemed to mind, however, as they admired the lush tropical vegetation and bucolic rural scenery along the way. At one point, of course, everyone (even almost the driver) in the van was asleep. We reached Bicol’s main hub of commerce, culture and cuisine, Legazpi City in Albay province, a little past noon. With everybody famished, it was a good time to start with the cuisine portion of our tour. The Bicolano culinary tradition centers on the use of coconut milk-based concoctions and the demonic “Siling Bikol” (see-leeng- bee-kohl), red hot, super-hot,…

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Four Thumbs Up for District 9

August 29, 2009 by  

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Having lived in South Africa twice, both times before Apartheid was officially abolished, seeing District 9 — the movie, was incredible, no unbelieveable, no so damn authentic, that you find yourself wanting to see it again to catch all the parallels. District95 Brilliantly captured, the personalities bring you back twenty years, no ten years, no two years……it sends shivers through your bones. To top it off, Neill Blomkamp and Peter Jackson make sure you experience the category its in: Sci-Fi. The main character is bureaucratic civil servant Wikus van de Merwe, who is “promoted” to a role that takes him from shack to shack to evict and move an alien species stranded on Earth from one refugee camp to another in Johannesburg. Sound familiar? It’s shot in Soweto and there’s enough in the action shots to bring you back to the horrifying memories of the 70s. It continues to unfold as van de Merwe transforms. More and more onions are peeled back and then just when you think you know how the movie ends, there’s another twist. SEE THE MOVIE. Four thumbs up. District93


Village Outside Beijing and Spending Two Hours in a Police Station

August 28, 2009 by  

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I took a 2.5 hour bus from Beijing to a village outside the city, aiming for a couple days of relaxation and reading. City life, especially a day as large and hectic as Beijing, can be draining, and a village in the mountains sounded like a nice reprise. I packed a backpack with a few clothes, some toiletries, a copy of my passport, my Kindle, and a couple old-fasioned books, and set out for the subway which would take me to the bus station on the outer western side of the city. Unfortunately, with no access to a printer (truly unfortunate when you need to print out Chinese characters), I had only the pinyin name of the village. It was my first time riding the subway alone which means I had to decipher the signs and figure out my route. It was easier than expected, with much additional English signage added in preparation for the Olympics. I arrived at the subway station, exited, and tried to find the bus stop for bus 192. This proved more challenging. I asked a couple people, got pointed in a direction, and eyed the signs for the 192 stop. Eventually I found it,


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The Surprising Science of Motivation

August 28, 2009 by  

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Fascinating TED talk on what motivates people in companies, challenging traditional notions of management. Very relevant to many online companies who are looking at building new and different cultures. (via Wendy Robb @ 20fourlabs) Click on headline link to visit matthewbuckland.com


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