Archive for August, 2017

The Gift of Giving Back: Handmade Global Design at NY Now

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

 

Aid Through Trade “Coral Reef”

Charity isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think of NY Now, the former NY Gift Show. This August I visited a different section than in previous seasons: Handmade Global Design. Giving back was a recurring theme for many of these exhibitors. In some cases they donate money to charities; in others, through their efforts, lives of poverty and hopelessness are transformed by work, education and access to global markets.

Some were members of the Fair Trade Federation. It describes itself as “part of the global fair trade movement, building equitable and sustainable trading partnerships and creating opportunities to alleviate poverty…by continually and significantly expanding the practice of trade that values the labor and dignity of all people.”

Meyelo’s Fynn Rucksack

I call out two of its some 50 members listed in the directory: Aid Through Trade, one of the Federation’s founding members, and Meyelo.

The original creator of the Roll-On® Bracelet made with glass beads, Aid Through Trade employs 200+ women from Nepal. Founded in 1993 by former Peace Corps volunteer Damian Jones, he recognized that women’s lives changed dramatically when they have an income.

As I passed by Meyelo’s booth, I heard one of the sales staff say to a customer, “Our for profit gives back to our nonprofit.” Eighty women from Kenya make bags, earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets, scarves and sandals sold through Meyelo. On its website: “Every purchase provides our artisans with a source of fair trade income, support for their community, and a global platform for their work.….We work in community development with Maasai villages and provide access to education, water, farming co-ops and medical needs. We empower women, girls and their communities with sustainable programs.”

Bella Tunno’s Giraffe Pacifier Lovie

A striking poster caught my eye in the Bella Tunno booth filled with collections of children’s accessories. It touted: “You buy one product, we give one child a meal.” Founded by Michelle Tunno Buelow, the website reports that “A portion of every Bella Tunno product sold is donated to the Matt Tunno Make a Difference Memorial Fund.” To honor her brother Matt, Michelle Buelow’s fund supports drug and alcohol abuse education, prevention and rehabilitation and programs for at-risk children and teenagers.

Aid to Artisans

Aid to Artisans creates opportunities for low-income craftspeople and designers in East Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Central and South Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and North and Sub-Saharan Africa “to build profitable businesses inspired by handmade traditions.” According to its website, it offers “access to new markets, business training, eco-effective processes and design innovation through a network of partners to promote sustainable growth and community well-being.” The artisans make a range of products from decorative pillows and children’s accessories to desk accessories, ceramic vases, shawls, jewelry, home furnishings and decorative pieces, glassware and ornaments.

“Comfort for a Cause,” is The Elephant Pants Company’s slogan. Founded in 2014, it donates 10 percent of its net profits to save elephants. “Thanks to you, $145,615 has been donated to charitable organizations dedicated to saving elephants,” it declares on its website, as a result of selling over 400,000 pairs of what it says are “The most comfortable pants that anybody had ever worn.”

For a company to combine help for impoverished foreign artisans or to donate a percentage of profits to charity is nothing new but it appears to be a successful approach given the numbers of companies doing it. Do you favor such products when you buy gifts and decorative pieces for your home?

The Elephant Pants Company’s harem pants

Service of Fashion in August 2017

Monday, August 28th, 2017

Photo: lipstickalley.com

A friend wrote: “You have to address the issue of the way we are dressing!!!!! I don’t know where to start!!! Women are the worst offenders I’m afraid.”

She follows fashion and always looks just-so.

 “Coincidentally,” she, continued, “Boston is addressing the way female broadcasters are forced to dress.” She mentioned Heather Unruh, a longtime lead newscaster on WCVB-TV who resigned last fall. Unruh talked to The Boston Globe’s Beth Teitell about “the pressures women feel about how they dress on TV.”

Heather Unruh Photo depauw.edu

Teitell asked: “Should a TV anchorwoman be required to dress for work in a cocktail dress? Or Stilettos? What about body-hugging tops?” In “For at least a decade, women broadcasters have been pushed to look sexier on-air,” Teitell quoted another newscaster who said “management at her station has told women to wear ‘tighter, smaller, shorter, more revealing clothes.’”

Teitell continued, “What you don’t see is that many times women have clothespins in the back to make [their clothes] tighter.” She wrote about broadcasters who didn’t want to put on what consultants selected; who cried about how they were pressured to dress; who were told to copy the sexier look of another anchor who “wore her skirts short and her tops unbuttoned” and one who was reprimanded for wearing blazers that were “too boxy.”

Grasswalkers

My friend went on: “Too much information prevails for everyone, but I want to see no more:

  • exposed behinds
  • gigantic ripples of jelly fat especially near views of underpants
  • décolletage causing women to spill out from center and SIDES of cutout or strapless concoctions
  • garments that threaten to fall off
  • leggings in outrageous patterns and colors that make even toothpick size legs seem gigantic
  • dizzying, horror prints
  • excess of assorted animal patterns together
  • infantile embroidery over patterns–(including Gucci)
  • overweight women tottering on super spikes that generally impede balance and are often inappropriate for the chosen moment. A ridiculous off-shoot of super spikes are grasswalkers–transparent platforms that protect spikes when the wearer walks on grass.” [Note: I think the grasswalker concept is ingenious!]

 

“And it’s not just women’s fashion,” she wrote:

  • men’s bare legs are everywhere
  • the sockless high water line of men’s ankles stare at us out of tie shoes
  • the sickening view of men’s undies or behinds peeking out of pants that are about to fall down
  • relatively sheer exercise shorts that are generally not attractive outside of the gym no matter what designers tout

This is all without touching on age appropriate fashion for either sex or work versus leisure. We have become both boring and repulsive in our tastelessness. I don’t mean that I think I am a paragon of style and taste, but I try to err on the side of discretion.

Even though traditional TV viewership is down in the first quarter—11.2% by millennials 25-34 and almost 5 percent by Gen Xers 35-49 according to marketingcharts.com–do you still think some women take their fashion cues from broadcasters squeezed into their attire or is the desperate attempt to drum up male viewership unrelated to style?

Is fashion out of kilter or is it that some men and women have lost their compass for what looks good on them?

What or who is influencing some to dress in such a sloppy way?

Kim Kardashian Photo: dmarge.com

Service of Recommendations That Make it Easy on Recruiters

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

Photo: roberthalf.com

Recently headhunters have sent me electronic forms to fill out on behalf of a job-seeking colleague. One reminded me of what CVS sends after I’ve visited a branch or used the online ordering system. To answer questions I graded the candidate from 1 to 10. I was appalled. The recruiter got numbers from the program all neat and collated in seconds but learned little about my colleague. Sometimes my answer didn’t fit any number without explanation. I grade the effectiveness of this system 2 out of 10.

A second one took me longer to do but I felt gave me a chance to describe the candidate. It also took the reader longer to absorb but the information was more valuable. I imagine that some of the copy, if well written, is used by the headhunter to describe a candidate to prospective employers, saving him/her time in the end.

Photo: workitdaily.com

My colleague said she met one of these recruiters and filled out forms for the company. She spoke to the other on the phone, no forms required.

I posit that some recruiters will learn the most from a phone call interview as inefficient and time consuming as that is for them. The New York Women in Communications scholarship vetting process includes phone and in-person interviews for finalists. The phone interviews require time to prepare for, conduct and write up but the results tell plenty about a candidate.

Francesca Fontana wrote about recommendation letters requested of MBA candidates’ friends this summer by NYU’s Stern School of Business. They are “trying to get a better sense of what its applicants are really like.” Where most such letters “focus on analytic acumen or leadership skills,” they expect a pal or co-workers letters will “comment on the applicant’s social skills or emotional intelligence.”

Photo: bcgsearch.com

She reported in “Dear Friend, Tell Us More” that “about 40% of MBA applicants said at least one manager asked them to draft their own recommendation letter.” This statistic came from an Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants 2014 survey. I believe it. Another job-seeking colleague is often asked to write letters about herself by former managers and bosses.

Fontana reported that 24 business schools “collaborated with the Graduate Management Admission Council to create a common recommendation form.” This is easier on recommenders and as they are asked to keep their answers short, means that readers don’t have to pour through pages of copy.

One of the questions was smart: “Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant.”

Can you learn much from a recommender you’ve not spoken with? Have you been asked to write your own recommendation by a boss or colleague? How secure would you be in evaluating whether you wanted to meet or interview a candidate by phone based largely on responses to a 1 to 10 system? Are there valid shortcuts in the recruiting process?

Service of Pick up the Phone Already: When Written Communication Runs Amok

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Photo: connectmogul.com

Here’s an example of miscommunication in the extreme illustrating the potential impact of careless texting or hastily written messages of any kind.

The friend who shared this story received tragic news that blessedly turned out to be poor communications. She is a meticulous writer, speaker, retired PR manager at a major corporation and longtime instructor of Management Communication. She said if she were currently teaching a class she would use this as an example of what happens if you don’t consider what the recipient of your text or email might be thinking. The lesson applies to both personal and business communications.

I have made up the names of the characters in this tale.

  • My friend will be Maude
  • Her friend, the grandmother, Pam
  • Pam’s husband, the grandfather, Fred
  • Pam’s sister, Steph, is also a good friend of Maude’s and is the baby’s great aunt

Maude’s friend Pam traveled to be with her son and daughter-in-law last week for the birth of their second child. Her husband, Fred, stayed at home. The delivery of their first grandchild, now three, was extremely difficult. But their grandson, born on Maude’s birthday, was a healthy 9 lb baby and angelically beautiful. His mother, too, was fine.

Photo: rainmaker-strategies.com

The day after the infant was born, Pam’s sister, Steph, sent Pam a text telling her that she’d just bought a few things for the baby.

Pam texted in response: “We lost boy around noon today.”

Shocked, Steph called Maude. I happened to call Maude moments after she’d heard from Steph. Usually unshaken, Maude was stunned.

Pam has many siblings and they frequently invited Fred to have dinner with them while Pam was with the young family in the East.  When she opened the door, she told Fred that she was so sorry and he replied that he “knew this would happen a long time ago,” which was news to Steph.

Fred continued, “I was with him.” Odd, given that the baby was born over 1,000 miles away. “When I saw him this morning I knew he wasn’t going to make it.” Puzzling still.

In her distress and alarm over what she’d interpreted as the sudden death of her grandnephew, Steph forgot that Pam and Fred had a cat named “Boy.” It is he who had died.

Photo: thenation.com

An aside: Maude was telling me the story on the phone as she was getting a manicure. The manicurist apologized for eavesdropping and asked if the woman who’d written the text was American because “a native English speaker wouldn’t have written that.” Even this didn’t trigger an aha! moment because the baby didn’t yet have a name.

She wondered whether Pam had read what Steph had written about her purchases before responding with her news. As importantly, did Pam consider what might be on her sister’s mind given the family’s focus on the new addition? Maude advised for important information, don’t rely on hastily written texts and emails. If you don’t have time to reread then wait until you do or pick up the phone. Do you agree?

Photo: blog.near-me.com

Service of Backwards

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

 

Backwards is nothing new to me. I passed economics in college by figuring out the answer and writing the opposite in exams. Long before that, at camp Frog Hollow Farm, we celebrated backwards day.

Hit On for Off

My husband’s printer—an oldie but sturdy–has been acting up. To get it to work I disconnected it from electricity. I was reprimanded by instructions on the little screen when I turned it back on [and it worked again]. The printer told me that I’d turned it off incorrectly and warned me not to unplug the printer from electricity again before first turning it off by hitting ON.

Don’t Walk the Dog

New York is a walker’s city. It’s the best way to get many places quickly as traffic on sidewalks is usually easily negotiated unless you’re passing a Broadway theater when audiences convene or exit or around famous museums on Sunday afternoon. Tourists walk at a slower pace than most New Yorkers while rush hour foot traffic generally moves swiftly.

That said, I can’t get over the number of dogs that are carried in arms and in conveyances when out for “walks.” There are suddenly too many of them to explain it as the graying of the dog population in need of assistance. Exercise is as essential for dogs as it is for people.

“Wrong Way” Signs Ignored by Bicycles

Bicycles are invading the city—racing by on sidewalks now. And bikers pay zero attention to signs on one way avenues informing them that they are going the wrong way [photo top, center taken this week]. To think tax dollars paid for the printing and installation of signs that exclaim the obvious and are ignored! At least one friend was knocked down by a bike that was bucking the tide on a major avenue.

Growing Taste Sensations

A conversation with a 5 year old took a surprising turn. She told me that when she was young, she liked to eat everything but not anymore. There’s a lot she doesn’t care for now, she said. And here I thought people’s tastes expand as they “age.”

Can you share any examples of backwards or counterintuitive behavior that you’ve seen or heard?

Photo: ecigadvanced.com

Service of Remembering

Monday, August 14th, 2017

I wonder if other people do what I do to remember people who have died.

Photo: timeanddate.com
photo

If I hear a date in the news, it gets me thinking of the past. An example: I read articles and Facebook postings about the full solar eclipse expected in the Continental US on August 21. Each report reminds readers that the last one was in 1979. I immediately think: “What close family members, now dead, were alive 38 years ago and where were they? Did they see it?” It is somehow comforting. [This morning I heard it was 99 years ago. That reference would not have triggered the same reaction!]

I have a pair of my father’s well worn leather gloves on a living room shelf [photo above]. As I pass by I often put my hand on the top glove. It’s reassuring. I noticed that every time my nephew sees his grandfather’s gloves he slips one on.

I sent a thank you card to a friend who told me she put it in a favorite cookbook. I was honored. I mentioned that in a few of my latest moves I’ve had to close my eyes and toss so many things but I’ve kept some greeting cards in the handwriting of loved ones and on occasion, a card will fall out of a book I’ve not read in a long time. It makes me sad in a way but I am happy to have a memento with precious handwriting on it. She said that her cookbooks have many such cards.

In my wallet I carry mass cards of deceased friends and relatives—and I wonder why my handbag is so darned heavy! I come across the cards [photo left] more often than if I’d tuck them away. Years ago I’d put them in a missal that went to church weekly.

There are favorite coffee mugs that people have given me that literally warm me and all over my home gifts are lovely reminders.

How do you remember loved ones? Will anything take the place of printed pieces that are easy to save and don’t take up much room?

 

Photo: etsy.com

 

 

Service of Scour Your Emails Before You Act

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

Photo: vimeo.com

My junk file picked up this obvous scam sent yesterday from Woodrow Nash, telling me “I need to send some money to Philippines through money gram but can’t send out from here as I am traveling on a cruise ship. Don’t know if you can help me with the transfer, will look for how to get the money back to you as soon as possible.” Woodrow—a stranger–must be kidding. Delete! Nevertheless unsettling that he has my email address.

Here are two recent sophisticated examples that again warn folks to “stop and think” before clicking a link or responding to what looks like a legitimate email. Because one happened to me and another, to a good friend, I had to share.

Being Too Social Can Get You Into Trouble

Some friends, colleagues and clients are in competition to collect the most friends and contacts on their Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and other social media accounts. Predators are taking good advantage of this competitiveness and the fact that people move through emails in a rush.

Big mistake: Scoundrels format requests to link and invitations to befriend that look right…but aren’t. Before clicking read carefully.

I thought it odd when the so-called “president of Magazine at Meredith” asked me to link in with him from Florida [photo right]. Last I heard Meredith is headquartered in Des Moines with offices around the country–not West Palm Beach. The photo of the man in the request had fake written all over it. So I wrote an acquaintance at Meredith to report this person, who is actually on LinkedIn as “President of Magazine at Meredith Corp.” The real Jerry Kaplan left Meredith some 10 years ago said the corporate executive. This was clearly an imposter.

Don’t Bank on It

I alerted friends about a warning of a new Cryptolocker virus. One wrote: “Thanks for the heads up. My default position is to be suspicious of attachments, and even of links. We all have to be so diligent these days.”

She continued: “The weirdest thing happened to me. I misplaced my Chase VISA card so I called the company to put a hold on the account while I dig around for it (it’s probably in a pocket or buried under a stack of papers). I confirmed that no unauthorized charges had been made using the card. Everything seemed fine so I exhaled. But then, within an hour of calling the company, I received an email saying that suspicious activity was seen on my account, [Photo below, right].

“It was easy for me to tell that this was a fraudulent message. Have you ever known a bank to use the word ‘earnestly’ in any communication? And since when is ‘online’ two words? The sender’s email address– secur@fraus6.chas.com–also was a giveaway, as was the fact that they didn’t address me by name. Even the indent on the first line was out of place. Clearly, this was the work of a rank amateur.

“Here’s the thing: Is it a coincidence that this arrived in my email box within an hour of calling to report my Chase card missing, or is something more sinister going on? Did the agent I spoke to during my initial phone call record my info and pass it on to an unauthorized person? I’ll never know. All the nonsense going on in the White House has made me half crazy and might be turning me into a conspiracy theorist! Anyway, as I said before, you can never be too careful.”

Have you identified any email oddities that could lead to trouble? What good is it to a scoundrel pretending to be someone else to have people link in with him? Do you think that my friend’s email from a faux Chase bank rep was coincidence or something more threatening? How do you protect your computer and your identity?

Photo: blackenedroots.com

Service of It’s New to Me: Sharing Luxury Watches & Eyewear & Clever WC Access

Monday, August 7th, 2017

I appreciate learning about fresh business practices and ideas. Here are three that were new to me.

Login

We were at a tea shop in the Village the other week and discovered a clever way to control WC access for customers only. The login number to open the door on a lock system similar to the one above was printed on our receipt! Another customer had to point this out to us.

Rent Luxury

Photo: bloomfieldrentals.com

The next two examples relate to rentals. Most know that you can rent art, jewelry for posh events, movies, furniture, housing, cars, gowns, tents, tableware, tables and chairs for parties. I didn’t realize that there are businesses that rent high-end watches and designer eyewear!

Oh and today, what for years was called renting is today often called “sharing.”

Tick Tock

I heard about Eleven James from an acquaintance who recently started a job at “your annual membership club for luxury timepieces.” Its fees range from $149 to $800/month. Founded by Randy Brandoff in 2014, reporters Dennis Green and Hollis Johnson said his inspiration for the concept came from his former employer’s clients. As a NetJets executive he observed that the wealthy clientele of that company–that sells part ownership or shares of private business jets–loved luxury watches. Brands in the collection, according to the businessinsider.com article, are new and vintage models of “Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, IWC, Tag Hueer, Tudor, Breitlig and more.” They are said to be worth “in the eight figures.”

On its website Eleven James promises to check, clean, resize and if necessary service every watch that members return. Members keep them from three to six months and collect points by treating them with care. The points allow them to upgrade their memberships and gain equity toward purchases.

Brandoff told the businessinsider.com reporters that his customers fall into the “try before you buy” category; millennials discovering watches–they depend on their phones to tell time—and want to test what they think about wearing one before spending $thousands as well as recipients of corporate gifts.

I Can See Clearly Now

Eyedesired.com sent me a press release in an email. On its Facebook page it describes itself as “a designer eyewear rental platform. You pay a monthly subscription and get unlimited pairs of sunglasses and optical wear [includes lenses & shipping].” According to their press release, members can “swap out pairs as desired and keep the ones they love for less than retail price.” Founded by Rida Khan, members have access to brands such as Tom Ford, Balmain, Jimmy Choo, Philip Lim and Versace.

According to the release, “Eyedesired offers both prescription glasses and sunglasses for men and women. The company carries frames from more than 100 fashion designers and brands in thousands of different styles. A basic subscription starts at $45*** per month and gives subscribers instant access to designer frames that retail from $200 to upwards of $1,000. Free single-vision lenses and shipping are included for optical rentals.” ***The website notes that unlimited sunglass rentals cost $29/month.

In addition to housing, what have you rented? If luxury watches and eyewear are your passions and money is no object, would you consider renting either or both?

Service of When the Tail Wags the Dog: Over-Empowered Kids

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

Photo: tcw.com

Picture this: It’s 2030 and an intern where you work slams her phone on a table, demands that the company summer outing be at an amusement park, not at the venue described in the text she just received, and flounces out of the boss’ office. Or maybe a nubie objects to the upcoming move and complains loudly to management that the new location is inconvenient for her.

“Fat chance,” you predict.

If some of the scenarios Jennifer Breheny Wallace described in her Wall Street Journal article are accurate, these instances could happen when the children she wrote about are let loose on the world as young adults. The days of “the tail doesn’t wag the dog,” no longer apply in some families whose kids rule every aspect of the roost.

Photo: educateempowerkids.com

Wallace warns that a democratic approach—where every member of the family, regardless of age or experience, has an equal vote in major decisions–isn’t such a good idea. [You think?]

In “Children Should Be Heard, but Only So Much–Children now have much more influence over family decisions, but parents need to be wary of giving them too much sway,” Wallace writes about one set of parents who put the purchase of an apartment on hold until they could get the approval of their six year old. Kids in other families determine where the family goes on vacation.

“‘Modern parents want their kids to feel included and empowered, so nearly every purchase is now a family decision,’ says branding strategist Bill Goodwin. In a recent National Retail Federation survey of more than 1,000 parents of Gen Zers (the generation born after 1995), 67% said that they solicit their child’s opinion before making family purchases, and 59% said that they won’t buy something if their child doesn’t approve of it,” wrote Wallace.

Photo: 510families.com

Richard Weissbourd of the Harvard Graduate School of Education told Wallace that there are benefits to letting kids know parents value their opinions such as in picking a restaurant. “But when it comes to making major purchases (such as a house) or determining family priorities (such as deciding whether to travel to see extended family or go to Disneyland), he says that a parent’s wisdom should prevail.”

Weissbourd observed: “Unfortunately, some parents now rely on their kids to fill the void of where a friend should be.”

Photo: modernmom.com

Wallace continued: “Children need to be taught to make sacrifices and not to assume that others will organize their lives around them, which can lead to entitlement, says Dr. Weissbourd. For example, if Saturdays are spent engaging in a child’s activity, then on Sundays, bring your child on family errands,” she wrote.

“Empowering children to make decisions about their own lives teaches them valuable life skills, such as how to take responsibility for themselves,” psychologist Laura Markham told Wallace. She referred to picking a sport or clothes. “However, when it comes to decisions that affect the overall family, “Parents should have the last word.”

Parents who hand over the reins to young children mean well but can it end well? Do you know families that operate in this way? Has the age of reason moved to six from 13—recognized by major religions–and isn’t 13 on the young side to know the best place to live or vacation?

Photo: ca.news.yahoo.com

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