Peggy Wolf | Escape Into Life
Sunday, October 31, 2010
More than 500 years ago, when the Spanish Conquistadors landed in what is now Mexico, they encountered natives practicing a ritual that seemed to mock death.
It was a ritual the indigenous people had been practicing at least 3,000 years. A ritual the Spaniards would try unsuccessfully to eradicate.
A ritual known today as Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.
The ritual is celebrated in Mexico and certain parts of the United States, including the Valley.
Celebrations are held each year in Mesa, Chandler, Guadalupe and at Arizona State University. Although the ritual has since been merged with Catholic theology, it still maintains the basic principles of the Aztec ritual, such as the use of skulls.
Today, people don wooden skull masks called calacas and dance in honor of their deceased relatives. The wooden skulls are also placed on altars that are dedicated to the dead. Sugar skulls, made with the names of the dead person on the forehead, are eaten by a relative or friend, according to Mary J. Adrade, who has written three books on the ritual.
The Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations kept skulls as trophies and displayed them during the ritual. The skulls were used to symbolize death and rebirth.
The skulls were used to honor the dead, whom the Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations believed came back to visit during the monthlong ritual.
Unlike the Spaniards, who viewed death as the end of life, the natives viewed it as the continuation of life. Instead of fearing death, they embraced it. To them, life was a dream and only in death did they become truly awake.
"The pre-Hispanic people honored duality as being dynamic," said Christina Gonzalez, senior lecturer on Hispanic issues at Arizona State University. "They didn't separate death from pain, wealth from poverty like they did in Western cultures."
However, the Spaniards considered the ritual to be sacrilegious. They perceived the indigenous people to be barbaric and pagan.
In their attempts to convert them to Catholicism, the Spaniards tried to kill the ritual.
But like the old Aztec spirits, the ritual refused to die.
To make the ritual more Christian, the Spaniards moved it so it coincided with All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day (Nov. 1 and 2), which is when it is celebrated today.
Previously it fell on the ninth month of the Aztec Solar Calendar, approximately the beginning of August, and was celebrated for the entire month. Festivities were presided over by the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The goddess, known as "Lady of the Dead," was believed to have died at birth, Andrade said.
Today, Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and in certain parts of the United States and Central America.
"It's celebrated different depending on where you go," Gonzalez said.
In rural Mexico, people visit the cemetery where their loved ones are buried. They decorate gravesites with marigold flowers and candles. They bring toys for dead children and bottles of tequila to adults. They sit on picnic blankets next to gravesites and eat the favorite food of their loved ones.
In Guadalupe, the ritual is celebrated much like it is in rural Mexico.
"Here the people spend the day in the cemetery," said Esther Cota, the parish secretary at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. "The graves are decorated real pretty by the people."
In Mesa, the ritual has evolved to include other cultures, said Zarco Guerrero, a Mesa artist.
"Last year, we had Native Americans and African-Americans doing their own dances," he said. "They all want the opportunity to honor their dead."
In the United States and in Mexico's larger cities, families build altars in their homes, dedicating them to the dead. They surround these altars with flowers, food and pictures of the deceased. They light candles and place them next to the altar.
"We honor them by transforming the room into an altar," Guerrero said. "We offer incense, flowers. We play their favorite music, make their favorite food."
At Guerrero's house, the altar is not only dedicated to friends and family members who have died, but to others as well.
"We pay homage to the Mexicans killed in auto accidents while being smuggled across the border," he said. "And more recently, we've been honoring the memories of those killed in Columbine."
Día de los Muertos in Mixquic, Mexico
by Carlos Miller The Arizona Republic October 31, 2010
Day of the Dead history
Great news - there's a terrific book that can restore your faith in humanity and help you discover your own purpose through the power of words. Kevin Hall's "Aspire" is one of the most positive, encouraging books I have read in years. And I urge you to spend a couple hours with it, too.
Hall is a leadership trainer and business consultant. He became interested in the deeper power of words during a chance meeting with an Indian shopkeeper in Vienna who shared a "secret word" - "genshai." The shopkeeper explained that genshai means that "you should never treat another person in a manner that would make them feel small."
Intrigued, Hall said he found in those words a profound yet simple lesson: "One word could change the world for the better. Words are like passwords. They unlock the power. They open the door. Genshai. That single word contained as much depth as any lesson or sermon I had ever heard."
Others reinforced Hall's conclusion, and along the way he learned that all words have secrets. He writes at length about his conversations with Dr. Arthur Watkins, a retired university professor who devoted his life to etymology, the study of the history of words.
Hall shared his fascination with words and their power, and explained how he wanted to learn about the secrets of words and how they might help people lead purpose-filled lives. Watkins responded with the origins of the word "leader," finishing with the notion that "being a leader means finding the path, but before you can help someone else find their path, you must know yours."
Hall said, "In one short visit my new teacher revealed that words, all words have an essence, and by understanding that essence, we are in a position to be able to use them to light our paths."
In all, Hall identifies the 11 words that he believes can light the path to lifelong success. I won't spoil your reading by mentioning them all here, but I absolutely agree with his word choices. As a professional speaker and author, I understand very well the power of the words I choose and their impact on the people who read or hear them.
As Hall said, "If it's true that a picture is worth a thousand words, it's also true that a word is worth a thousand pictures." He cites a brilliant example in the "Inspire" chapter with a story about the late Art Berg.
Berg was an inspirational speaker and author whose books include "The Impossible Takes a Little Longer." He was invited in 2000 by Baltimore Ravens Coach Brian Billick to talk to his team before a day of grueling training-camp practice. The players were accustomed to hearing motivational speeches to help them play at the top of their game, but when Berg entered in his wheelchair, they were unprepared to hear what he was about to say to them.
Berg was 21 years old when a car accident left him a quadriplegic. He struggled for years to relearn everyday tasks like brushing his teeth. But he decided early on that he would not be defeated. He relied on the poem "Invictus," by William Ernest Henley, to help him through the most difficult days. One of the memorable lines from that poem is "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul." Invictus is derived from the Latin word for "unconquered." Not coincidentally, Berg's publishing company is called Invictus Press.
What Berg said to the Ravens was "It's up to you to decide what you want to accomplish. You and you alone." Berg was invited to stay and watch a preseason game, during which the Ravens fell behind. Their owner told Berg that if the team came back to win, he would put "Invictus" on the scoreboard. Not only did it make the scoreboard, "Invictus" was also engraved on the side of the Super Bowl championship rings that year. The Ravens gave Berg one of those rings.
Kevin Hall has chosen his words carefully and thoughtfully. I have just one word to add: Thanks!
Mackay's Moral: Your words power your potential.
by Harvey Mackay - Oct. 25, 2010 12:00 AM
Mackay: Words' power can unlock a life of success
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
The new TRON: Legacy trailer from Disney doubles as a music video for Daft Punk’s “Derezzed,” a track from the film’s soundtrack.
Much of the footage appears in the earlier TRON: Legacy trailer, but there is some new stuff here, including an actual in-movie cameo by the always costumed Daft Punk; yes, they also wear those costumes when performing.
One YouTube commenter wrote, “Probably the first time I’ve been more excited about a soundtrack than the movie it’s in.” I’ve heard similar buzz elsewhere, but you have to admit that Daft Punk and TRON are an outstanding match.
The film will hit theaters across the U.S. and Canada on December 17, and the soundtrack will arrive on store shelves both real and virtual November 22, but filmgoers in select markets will be able to see a 20-minute preview the 3D film in IMAX at Thursday night’s “TRON Night” presentation.
Mashable will be attending the screenings in both San Francisco and Atlanta. Unfortunately, tickets are already sold out for the U.S. screenings but some international viewers still have a shot over at the official TRON Night website.
Anyway, without further adieu, here’s the TRON: Legacy trailer featuring Daft Punk:
by Samuel Axon Mashable October 26, 2010
"Tron: Legacy" Trailer + Daft Punk Music Video = Viral Geekery
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Uploaded by mik-art. - Independent web videos.
Dailymotion - Francis Bacon - une vidéo Art et Création
Last year we recognized the women overhauling banking, health care, and energy policy. Now the focus is on those enforcing new laws.
A potent diplomatic enforcer for Obama, Clinton also flexes soft power, meeting with women's groups and appearing on talk shows. Her performance has ignited talk she could take over at the Pentagon next year or as Veep in 2012, and even mount a presidential bid in '16.
by Tory Newmyer Fortune September 29, 2010
FORTUNE -- Oprah Winfrey was headed into her "la-di-da years" -- her term for semiretirement -- when David Zaslav came along and wrecked her grand plan. The queen of TV talk had never met the CEO of Discovery Communications until he arrived at her Chicago office in April 2007 with a proposition. "OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network," Zaslav said, pitching the notion that they create a cable TV network together. "I don't want your money," he told her. "I want you."
Within months, Oprah had agreed to a fifty-fifty partnership in which Discovery (home of the Discovery Channel, TLC, and other nonfiction programming) would invest $100 million in the new network -- all about Oprah's mantra: "Live your best life." And indeed, she didn't put in a cent of her own money. Instead she contributed something far more valuable: her time and her brand.
There has never been anyone in media like Oprah. Part Johnny Carson, part Rupert Murdoch, part Anna Wintour, she is a TV legend, media mogul (No. 6 on our Most Powerful Women list), and tastemaker all rolled into one. The Oprah Winfrey Show, which she owns and which is seen in 146 countries, is the most successful daytime program in TV history, with 12.6 million viewers at its peak. It's the place where Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced he would donate $100 million to improve education in New Jersey; the same week, Bill Gates riffed about reforming education nationally. A mere mention on Oprah's show can catapult a book or hand cream or cupcake to bestseller status. Through Harpo Inc., her private holding company (2009 revenue: roughly $315 million), Oprah has created other living "brands" besides herself: Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, and design expert Nate Berkus. "What Oprah has accomplished on air and off is truly mindboggling," says Jeff Zucker, CEO of NBC Universal, whose cable networks will compete with OWN. "It's hard to imagine that there will ever be anything close to that in media."
The initial deal between Discovery Communications and Oprah, she explained in a recent, exclusive interview with Fortune, required her to appear on OWN just 35 hours a year, and restricted her broadcast TV work. But after a quarter-century producing and starring in daytime TV's most lucrative syndicated show, she could live with that. Before Zaslav came into her life, "I was going to do a syndicated program à la The View and be on it two or three times a week," she tells me, lounging on a sofa in her cozy office, with 15 Emmy statuettes gleaming on a mantel above her. Her vision of her future: "La-di-da, I'll do a show and then I'll go have lunch with my lady friends in Santa Barbara."
So much for that life plan. OWN was announced in January 2008, and drama soon followed: The network lurched through two years of launch delays, management tumult, and internal confusion about what kinds of shows to do. What's never been revealed publicly, until now, is the extent to which Oprah struggled with her own commitment -- and how that struggle nearly scuttled the deal. In April of 2009, Zaslav returned to Chicago, hat in hand. "The world has changed," he told Oprah. Blaming the recession and the collapse of the TV ad market, he said he needed to alter the deal. "I need more of you," he said. Not only did Zaslav demand more Oprah on OWN, he insisted she leave broadcast TV entirely. "If you want to walk away from this, okay," he told her. "But if you're going to be in, you need to be all in." Recalls Oprah: "I wasn't pleased. I wasn't pleased at all."
Sometimes there is power in surrendering -- as Oprah has told many a tearful TV guest in the middle of some debilitating personal crisis. She says she weighed the options that Zaslav presented and asked herself, "Do I want to take on this level of responsibility?" But Oprah didn't get to be the most powerful woman in the media universe by saying no to opportunity. She agreed to increase her presence on OWN to 70 hours annually, from 35. In August, Discovery disclosed that it had sunk $89 million more into OWN, and that as part of her 70-hours-a-year pledge Oprah would host Oprah's Next Chapter, a globetrotting interview show. "So that's my all-in commitment," Oprah says, with a sense of relief. At least the woman knows her price.
Her gutsiest move yet
The story of Oprah Winfrey's rise from poverty in rural Mississippi to local talk-show host to international superstar is by now well known. Yet for all her gutsy moves (remember, she made her acting debut in Steven Spielberg's 1985 film The Color Purple and got an Oscar nomination), none is as bold -- or as risky -- as OWN. Oprah, 56, has complete creative control of OWN, which will take the place of Discovery Health, which reaches 77 million homes, on Jan. 1, 2011. Between now and then she will be busier than ever: She's hard at work on developing original programming for OWN (her official title at the network is chairman) while at the same time shooting the final 130 episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show this TV season. She'll finish shooting next May, and the program will exit broadcast TV on Sept. 9, 2011. Needless to say, Oprah notes, "I've had to shift from quasi-retirement mode."
With $189 million in Discovery funding and an asset as big as Oprah at its core, this is a big deal -- and with all the gossip around OWN, probably the most "watched" cable-TV venture before it's even on the air. Many people wonder: Why is Oprah endangering a platinum asset such as Oprah? While top cable networks deliver profit margins of more than 50%, startups in today's fragmented media market tend to be moguls' pipe dreams. When he launched Fox Business Network in 2007, Rupert Murdoch said he would spend $300 million in hopes of beating CNBC in the ratings in three years. Fox Business Network has turned out to be a very expensive pursuit. This fall's fate of Martha Stewart, who built her brand on broadcast TV, should give Oprah pause: Martha moved her show to the Hallmark Channel, where she hopes to build a full slate of programming, and so far she is attracting one-quarter the viewership she had on broadcast TV.
Oprah's road to OWN
OWN actually has been percolating in Oprah's mind for almost two decades, but fear and a sense of her own limitations kept her from acting on it. In 2001, when Fortune did the only business profile of Oprah Inc. that she had ever agreed to do, she told me that during a 1992 vacation with her longtime boyfriend, Stedman Graham, he scrawled on a piece of paper: "OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network." He told her that a cable network was her calling. She loved the idea but loathed the notion that she was a businesswoman. Her psychological hang-up, as she explains: "If I'm a businesswoman and a brand, where is my authentic self? If it's all 'busni-fied,' where's the authenticity?"
Just recently, though, she has embraced her business identity. "Now I accept that I'm a brand," she says. "Part of my own personal growth is recognizing that." She's also recovered from the sting she felt 12 years ago when she invested $20 million to help start Oxygen Media, the female-focused cable network now owned by NBC Universal. Oxygen turned out to be a poor investment and a personal embarrassment as it veered into tawdry programming. "That was a great lesson," she says. "You do not deal where you don't have a say." (Winfrey sold her stake in Oxygen before NBC Universal acquired the network in 2007.)
Though she can share her wisdom and worldview through her multiple media outlets, her main stage, for now, remains The Oprah Winfrey Show. But of late she's realized broadcast television is an increasingly limited platform.
A big reason: The audience that watches the Oprah show, like virtually every program on broadcast television, is shrinking. Last season Oprah averaged just under 6 million viewers, vs. more than 12 million a decade ago. Meanwhile, cable is drawing viewers and advertisers and stars such as Conan O'Brien, who is moving from NBC to TBS (which, like Fortune, is owned by Time Warner (TWX, Fortune 500)). The most buzzed-about program on television, Mad Men, is on AMC, a second-tier cable network.
By populating and evangelizing on OWN 24/7 -- a daunting 1,200 hours of programming a year -- Oprah realized that she had the opportunity to increase her impact on the world and make some nice money along the way. Bank of America Merrill Lynch media analyst Jessica Reif Cohen thinks that OWN will attract more than $145 million in ad revenue in its first year of operation. (That would put OWN in the league of such cable networks as The Weather Channel and Animal Planet, according to SNL Kagan.) Depending on ratings, it could turn a profit of $100 million in year three and grow significantly from there -- making it one of the most successful media launches this past decade, rivaling the introduction of O, The Oprah Magazine, a partnership of Harpo and Hearst, in 2000.
Not that any of this matters to "authentic" Oprah, who insists she cares more than anything about being true to her viewers. "My fear about 'Will the people really follow me?' -- I'm past that," says Oprah. This past summer, she says, she was reading a magazine article about Michael Jackson and was riveted by a quote from a former colleague of the late superstar. The friend said that after Jackson released Thriller in 1982 and it became the all-time best-selling album, he was paralyzed by the notion that he could never top that. "All the bells went off," says Oprah. "This is why I lived in fear about this network. I kept thinking I have to repeat the 25-year phenomenon of the Oprah show." She adds: "I don't want to be Michael Jackson."
A new chapter, a new crew
Oprah is moving out of her comfort zone in many ways. For one thing, she is changing the cast around her. For decades her inner circle was composed of Graham and Gayle King, her best friend (who will have a talk show on OWN), and a couple of Harpo bosses who worked hard to be invisible: Jeff Jacobs, her longtime lawyer, who headed Harpo until he left in 2002, and Tim Bennett, who ran Harpo's production unit from 1994 to 2009. Bennett, who was Oprah's boss 25 years ago when she started on local TV in Chicago, retired as Harpo Inc. president in May.
In contrast, the new crew that's helping her build OWN is a bunch of big-name media-industry honchos. There is Zaslav, who has invigorated Discovery Communications by pumping up the drama (shows like Deadliest Catch on Discovery), the trauma (River Monsters on Animal Planet), and extremism (Sister Wives, about a polygamist and his family, on TLC). Discovery's (DSCA) stock price has tripled since he moved from NBC Universal in early 2007. Early last year Zaslav hired Peter Liguori, a former programming chief at Fox Broadcasting, to be Discovery's COO and the overseer of OWN. Liguori finds working with Oprah to be a little different from working with the big boss at Fox, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch. "Rupert uses a bit more fear and intimidation," Liguori says. "Oprah barters in hope and expectation. Both get results, but one is a lot better to experience than the other."
Tom Freston, who built MTV Networks and later became CEO of parent Viacom (VIA), is a key adviser to Oprah. In 2006, weeks after Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone fired Freston, Oprah, who had never met the man but had heard great things about him, tracked him down in Burma and tried to woo him to head Harpo or OWN. The free-spirited Freston declined. But he agreed to help Oprah with her new venture. Freston was instrumental in recruiting former MTV chief Christina Norman to be CEO of OWN. "She left MTV of her own volition -- burnt out and ready to reinvent herself," Freston says. Norman arrived in early 2009, when tensions with Zaslav were reaching their peak and Oprah's commitment to OWN was on the brink. This put Norman in an awful position, unable to green-light shows and make other big decisions. "This is part of the reason OWN was stagnant," Oprah says. "I was the holdup."
Norman, who is pragmatic and strong-willed, has helped Oprah figure out what to put on the air. (Besides Oprah, that is.) Early on, Oprah wanted to give shows to her favorite spiritual gurus, writers like Gary Zukav and Eckhart Tolle, but Norman's rule of programming: "No spinach." Oprah came around: "Television is television, and you still need a strong element of entertainment," she says. You just have to be creative. When Oprah wanted to do a show about workaholic parents who spend too little time with their children, OWN brought in Kidnapped by the Kids. In this reality series, the children of work addicts literally capture their parents and take away their e-mail access and office time until they change their ways.
OWN opted to go with reality programming, which costs less than scripted shows. You'll see a blend of entertainment, education, and "personal growth" content. There's even a bit of edge: Rosie O'Donnell will have a talk show on OWN. As a co-host of ABC's The View a few years ago, O'Donnell alienated viewers with her abrasiveness and left the show. Isn't Oprah worried that Rosie will be too brash and polarizing on OWN? "No, it doesn't worry me," Oprah replies. Does she think about it? "Of course," she says, crisply.
The Oprah spinoffs
In fact, Oprah thought enough about the Rosie risk that she took Freston, Norman, and OWN chief creative officer Lisa Erspamer to see O'Donnell at her home in the suburbs north of New York City. She recalls the June visit: "Rosie said, 'I know you're here to assess how crazy I am.' I said, 'Basically, yes. I'm doing a crazy check.' " Rosie's children were running around the house and the yard that day. "What I found is that she is so generous as a mother," Oprah says. But, she says, she warned O'Donnell that she had better behave on OWN: "If you have an issue that's causing a problem, speak to me, woman to woman, so that it doesn't become a worldwide issue."
In a cable universe more outrageous than ever (see Real Housewives of New York City ... New Jersey ... Orange County ...), Oprah seems ready to compete. She recently booked Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, to star in a six-part docuseries on OWN. Oprah tells me that she and the duchess got to know each other last May, when they met for a TV interview. Afterward, the duchess started e-mailing Oprah and sharing her anxiety about losing her fortune, having to lay off her staff, and learning to live like the rest of us. "Oh, my God, Sarah's transition to the real world. It's a TV show!" Oprah said to Erspamer, OWN's programming boss. Oprah was nervous, she says, when she called the duchess and gently suggested that she star in this reverse-fairy-tale reality show on TV. "That sounds delicious!" replied the duchess, who, says Oprah, now e-mails her virtually every day. The series will be called Finding Sarah, Oprah says, "because all this time, she hasn't known who she is."
As for the queen herself, Oprah will appear on every episode of Master Class, which will feature superachievers -- pals like Simon Cowell, Jay-Z, and Condoleezza Rice -- sharing life lessons. Oprah will also be front and center in Behind the Scenes: Oprah's 25th Season, a docudrama that currently has camera crews taping Harpo execs at work and at home daily. (That show's opening episode will feature Oprah in her bathtub and then getting on with her day -- and last season.)
Only in Oprah's self-referential universe is there room for Your Own Show, a series about a talent contest to get your own gabfest on ... OWN. Instead of hosting another in-studio talk show, Oprah is thinking bigger. Next summer, after she does her 4,500th or so Oprah Winfrey Show, she will begin taping Oprah's Next Chapter, which is likely to air in primetime two or three times a week. The series, which was her idea, will show her running around the globe, exploring places she's never been, like the Sahara desert, and interviewing locals.
It sounds exhausting. But, she says, she's dying to get out of the TV studio where she's done The Oprah Winfrey Show for a quarter-century. "I'm so tired of the chairs," she says, referring to both the seats and some of the people who have sat on them. "For me, it's about getting out of the chairs and into the hearts of people's lives." She adds, "I want to expand Americans' views of other people in the world."
From the Midwest to the West Coast
Why does Oprah keep striving? It's not the money, she insists -- although OWN, if successful, could add to her net worth, now an estimated $3 billion. When I ask Oprah if her goal is for OWN to be a top 10 cable network in three to five years, she replies, "No -- technically, I don't think in terms of being in the top 10. But do I think we will be? Yes." If it lives up to expectations, OWN could be worth $3 billion or more in a few years, analysts say -- and remember, she owns half of OWN.
Though the network isn't on the air yet, it already is a hit with one important constituency: advertisers. Two car companies, General Motors and Nissan, have struck deals to advertise on OWN and OWN.com, the network's website. "Our tie-in is with the shows that Oprah herself is going to be on," says GM's U.S. marketing chief, Joel Ewanick. "That's the premium position." The largest ad deal, worth an estimated $100 millionplus over three years, came from Procter & Gamble (PG, Fortune 500) last spring, after Oprah hosted a splashy presentation and dinner for advertisers in New York City. Julie Gardner, chief marketing officer at Kohl's Department Stores, sat next to Oprah at dinner that night. When Gardner and her team went to OWN's offices in Los Angeles to kick off the Kohl's (KSS, Fortune 500) partnership a month later, Oprah popped into the meeting, took a seat at the conference table, and stayed the entire hour and a half. "You know what that told me?" says Gardner. "It told me she's all in."
With her network operating out of Los Angeles, Oprah's presence in Chicago, Harpo's headquarters city and her home base since becoming host of AM Chicago in 1984, is sure to diminish. Will she move out of Chicago? Mentally, she already has. She tells me that she's viewing her 13,000-square-foot apartment off Michigan Avenue as "a place to sleep" and is "thinking about how I'm going to dismantle it." She has been sticking mental Post-it notes on her furniture, she says. "I will keep a part of my apartment. I'm probably going to keep the tiniest part." That's about 3,000 square feet. For Oprah, it's just enough to throw down her bags when she's back in town for Harpo business.
She plans to spend more time on her 1,400-acre ranch in Hawaii. ("I love land the way other women love shoes.") But her main residence will be her 42-acre estate in Montecito, Calif., near Santa Barbara. "My sanctuary," she calls it. One of her neighbors, besides Freston, is a former industrialist named Robert Veloz who sold her the property for $50 million in 2001. She says that Veloz warned her: "Don't retire." Retiring, he told her, is the biggest regret of his life.
Before I leave her office, after we've talked for more than two hours, I ask Oprah how she will define success in her next chapter. She goes into a riff about serving the viewer and hoping that some people have "a little more light" in their lives because of her. It sounds small and precious, I tell her. She agrees. "Playing small doesn't serve me," she says and goes on about the impact she hopes to have. "The truth is, I want millions of people. I'm not one of those people who says, 'Oh, if I change just one person's life ... Nope, not satisfied with just a few. I want millions of people!" Jubilantly, she raises her arms to the sky, reaching for whatever is up there.
by Patricia Sellers Fortune September 30, 2010
Oprah Winfrey's next act
The recession hasn't killed the good life entirely; it's just put a renewed focus on value, quality, and story. Meet the iconoclasts who are redefining the meaning of luxury.
Photographed backstage at the Chanel Couture Show, Paris
Ever since Chanel launched its No. 5 fragrance in 1921, beauty has been a critical part of the legendary fashion house's image -- and its business. Chanel No. 5 is the bestselling scent in the world; last year Chanel Fragrance and Beauté saw estimated sales of $1.5 billion. Heading up the vision on the makeup side -- a position Vogue calls "the most coveted job in cosmetics" -- is creative director Peter Philips (right, with models). He's made a splash painting tattoos on runway models, but he also appreciates makeup's everyday role. "A good-quality nail polish or lipstick is almost an accessory," he says. "It's nice to be able to buy a little bit into the dream."
By Jessica Shambora; photographs by Ben Baker Fortune September 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
On Monday we examined Michael Gerber's concept of "working on" your business as opposed to "working in" your business. "Working on" your business means taking time to analyze market conditions, evaluate your marketing efforts, and make adjustments to capitalize on market fluctuations. It also means creating a written plan.
1. The power of written goals
Research has consistently demonstrated the power of writing down your goals. Mark McCormack, in his book, "What They Don't Teach You in the Harvard Business School," reported on a study that followed Harvard students who graduated with a master's degree in business administration from 1979-89.
At the beginning of the study, only 3 percent of the graduates had written goals, 13 percent had goals that were not in writing, and 84 percent had no goals whatsoever. Ten years later, the 13 percent who had goals were earning twice as much as those who had no goals at all.
What was astonishing, however, is that those who had written goals were earning 10 times as much as the other 97 percent put together. Subsequent research has also demonstrated that writing down your goals and sharing them with someone increases the probability of your success even more.
2. Set your income and closed transaction goals
Assume you have closed 20 transactions so far this year and that you would like close 40 transactions next year. If you double the amount of time that you put into your most profitable real estate activities (i.e., by eliminating what is not profitable), most agents easily increase their closed transactions by 50-100 percent.
3. Lead generation is the name of the game
As a rule of thumb, about one out of three solid leads ends up closing a transaction with us. This means that if you want to close four transactions per month, you must have 12 well-qualified leads each month.
The issue is how to generate these leads. For example, if your conversion rate for Web leads is 1 percent, you must generate 1,200 website visitors to generate 12 solid leads and four closed transactions.
If you convert 25 percent of your expired listing leads, you must call on the owners of 16 expired listings per month to close four transactions. If you convert 10 percent of your open house leads, you need 120 open house visitors per month to close those four transactions.
4. Ask for high-probability referrals
In a slow market, solid referrals are more difficult to obtain. Target your prospecting to groups with the highest probability of creating a closed transaction. Since the first-time buyer market may be your best source of business, use this script to locate potential first-time buyers:
"Do you know anyone who is currently renting who may be interested in lowering their monthly payments? With the current low interest rates, many renters can actually buy a home for what they're paying in rent."
5. Evaluate your progress weekly
At the end of each week, evaluate whether you have hit your lead generation goals. If not, clear your schedule and continue to prospect until you hit your target. Better yet, make lead generation your top priority the first thing each morning.
Do nothing else until you hit your lead generation goals each day. Completing this one simple step will determine whether your business prospers or fails.
6. Use the 3-2-1 approach on a daily basis
Once you have created your business plan, ask the following questions at the beginning of each day:
What are the three business activities I absolutely must complete today? Complete these first before doing anything else.
What two self-care activities will I choose today to keep me balanced mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically?
What is one activity I can complete today that will help me have business tomorrow?
The challenge for most Realtors is that they allow less important activities to intrude on their "top three" priority items. Treat these appointments for self-care and creating new business with the same priority you would attach to a listing appointment.
7. Use the 4-3-2-1 approach each month
Schedule at least four days off each month; at least three nights each week where you have dinner with either family or loved ones; two days per month where you spend a full day with friends and/or family; and at least one day completely for you where you play golf, get a massage, or do whatever you need to do to recharge.
8. Track market conditions
Market conditions are constantly shifting. Use your "working on" sessions to determine which parts of the market are the most active. For example, if the high-end market is quiet and the first-time buyer market is active, make first-time buyers your focal point for the upcoming month.
If a given subdivision has plenty of open house traffic, hold open houses there, even if it means holding open another agent's listing. The key is to adapt to market conditions and maximize the probability you will generate leads.
9. Track your results
Experiment with this approach for one month and then evaluate your progress. If your sales are increasing, stay the course. If not, look at what could be altered to improve your sales.
10. The real secret of success
Review your business plan including your income and transaction goals at least twice a day. Keeping your goals in front of you constantly is the secret to achieving them. Envision yourself fulfilling your goals and have your best year ever in 2011.
by Bernice Ross Inman News October 21, 2010
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