Archive for July, 2009


Marketing for any business operating in today’s harsh business world isn’t easy. Getting the right campaign to the target market is a huge task. Hitting the nail on the head can be a massive gamble. Companies who use the services of marketing/advertising agencies most times are not in control of what the agencies produce. Somehow, companies even accept anything that the agency produces without contesting or even make suggestions to improve on the advertisement. It is sad when companies have to withdraw ads that offend a segment of the target market even sometimes offending the society. Advertisements are not only produced for the intended market. Because they are viewed in the mass media, extending the reach of the ad, the advert may be offensive. Companies however have a huge role in ensuring that the ads that the company has on television, radio, print etc are comfortable and not offensive.

Recently, KGB a company that answers questions that they receive by text messaging released an ad that some people find offensive. Some even want the ad to be pulled. The ad portrays black females in a salon getting their hair done. A female talent in the ad asked the other ‘What kind of hair is this?’ The response of the hairstylists says natural. The discussion there continues with the quest to find out what natural hair means by sending a text message to KBG for the answer.

From the advertising agency and company’s point of view they have achieved their objectives. They produced an ad reflecting the company’s proposition (product), and they used talents which reflected in some way their intended target audience. Success huh?

But the issue is bigger than that. The issue is the portrayal of black people. Culturally, the black race is known for their sense of humour, survival, hardworking attitude, breaking the law etc. Generally in advertisements the black talent would always deliver that punch line of a joke, or be seen eating unhealthy foods like chicken (not that chicken is bad). There are both positive and negative images that are embedded in ads today. These images can be offending; some can be flattering while others can be motivating.

There is certainly nothing wrong with the advertisement of this company. People will find issue with the ad that most of the actors were black. Normally, companies with a huge target market would show diversity in the ad to show that all races accept their product. This advertisement borderlines offensive because it appears to be saying that only black people wear weaves and emphasizes the fact that they cannot explain where it comes from. The believe that black people wear the most weaves may be a lie, but this ad does not make it appealing.

But how did we get here? There are issues within the black community and it is sad that this company is highlighting that flaw to sell their brand. Majority of people believe that black people use weave as a way to change who they really are. They use all the hair products and chemicals to look like someone else. Weaves do compliment and enhance a woman’s features. There is nothing wrong with wearing a weave. There might be a problem when weave identifies your race.

Beer Summit 2009

The President made some less than flattering comments on the Gates/Crowley controversy. Today, or a mere minutes ago the Beer Summit – Let’s talk moment ended. Obama wanted this matter to become a teachable moment. Did this summit achieve that? I am not positive the president achieved this but he achieved lots of bad PR and will not have ended how stupid this whole drama is.

Beer Summit Photo

Beer Summit Photo

I personally do not think that the president of the free world should have used a beer summit to solve this issue. If he had wanted this to become a teachable moment, does he really think sitting and drinking beers would achieve this? This man is so obsessed with being cool that he has taken it to the level where he looks rather un-cool.

The president should have invited these men to a discussion on race relations. That’s what he wanted. This action by the president would prompt millions of Americans to have a serious sit-down talk on this issue. Instead we are forced to see the leader of the free world get down drinking beers making him look immature. Sgt Crowley commented that the discussions were about the future. I am sorry sitting around beers on the brink of getting drunk is not having that teachable moment.

So the lesson from this is, when you have disagreements with people on this topic, could drinking beers the solution. I am no thrilled about how the president acted but this was not a happy moment. The Obama we know from the campaign who articulated a new message on race, I want that Obama back. I want to see Obama articulate and lead on this issue of race relations. Obama got one thing correct; his team changed it from a childish picnic table to a white table top surrounded with chair for four.

Today, July 30, 2009 is Cheesecake day.

Cheesecake

Cheesecake

If you have not had cheesecake, half of your life is gone. Today is dedicated to cheesecakes, oh how we love them. Whatever the type you like cheesecakes have brought families together and many special moments. There is something special about this wonderful and divine cake.

If you want to be my friend, let’s have an evening out and have cheesecake. Many people associate cheesecakes with gaining weight, breakouts on the face (zits), fat, calorie intake etc. All of this may be true but there is something very appealing about the presentation and aesthetic of a cheesecake.

They come in a variety of flavours and once you try one that you like. You will forever be having them as desserts.

My top five flavours are:

  1. White Chocolate
  2. Vanilla
  3. Cherry
  4. Blueberry
  5. Run and Raison

Sound off. What is your favourite flavour and what makes a cheesecake special to you?

“Nothing is more fatal to health care than an over care of it” – Benjamin Franklin

obama1

In many parts of the world, health care is operated by the government. Such countries include: Cuba, Canada and UK among others. Although they are advantages and disadvantages of universal health care the government will end up playing a huge role in the health care those citizens receive.

There is a health care debate rather war raging on in the USA. Politicians of course on issues like this all take their sides with some not contemplating or refuse to negotiate on the issue. Even the government’s party that is expected to support an issue like this even find disagreements to squabble over. All citizens deserve a proper and quality health care system. Quality health care systems will determine the expected life for citizens in a country.

Many will agree that the American system is expensive for some. With over 40 million uninsured persons the government has a right to tackle health care reform. They need to tackle health care reform because equity should permeate in a society. It cannot be that only the rich, working class or the educated are allowed to proper health care treatments. It is absurd and changes must be made, I think all can agree on that.

However, covering that many people is the problem. Where will the funds come from? Someone has to pay for a system like that. Universal health care is a great idea. Those viewing the issue from a Utilitarian point of view will forever think that this is the best thing to do. Obama’s plan is constantly changing since debates are currently going on and the quest to please as many people remains the viable option.

We all know the benefits of having universal health care but what about the cons. We have heard of the Canadian and UK experience where patients take forever to get proper care. In one area in Canada the nurse shakes a box and picks out four names. Those four names will be able to see the doctor. I do not think that this is the way to run a health care system for all. You will have people dying because of lack of treatment when the purpose of the program was to provide that needed health care for all.

Another disadvantage we hear of is the quality patients will receive. The quality may not be an issue since hospitals in the USA provide a good service. It is also good to note that health care treatment and drugs will also be rationed by the government. Can you imagine this?

Patient information will never be private as the government will control all the information. We all know that when private information is in a database, it will be compromised. I already see media houses, tabloids having spies to search the database exposing people’s private information. It is crazy what can happen with Universal health care.

The story gets better. There are advantages having a universal health care plan. The most popular is that those who could not afford health care will now be covered. Patients with pre-existing conditions are also covered. Along with this a database is created to make things work efficiently.

I believe in a universal health care plan. I do not believe in a one time roll out plan as this can damage a country. One has to take into consideration the costs. If America puts in place this plan their taxes will be increased and the debt will rise.

I prefer a system where the government takes steps in rolling out Universal health care. For example, prepare legislation to cover a segment of society – children. This will make the opposing parties have fewer disagreements. The advantage of taking on universal health care in stages is that the effect covering all would have on the economy is different than just taking on a segment. That’s the approach I would take. Since I’m not Obama lets have one go at this, one shot. We should not be in a rush to pass health care reform when most of the legislators will never read the bill in its entirety or inform the public of what changes will be made.

As the debate roars on people will constantly be divided. As republicans, they believe that there should be less of government and more of private sector. The democrats believe in providing health care for all. Years ago, health care reform was stalled as the debate didn’t materialize in a bill to be passed. The President came out saying that a bill should be on his desk by August. Legislators told him bravely no bill till September. Will there be any other delay? It appears this time around that a bill will be passed. A bill to cover all – called Universal health care plan.

Drugged Athletes

Becoming an Olympian is the ultimate reward for any athlete. By Michael Diamond

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant

We all have our favourite professional athletes and we all have our favourite sporting activities. For many, fans idolize these athletes where they become role models and inspiration for most people. But what happens when these athletes are accused of taking banned substances? Are the different sporting areas affected, and how can we erase or decrease athletes taking these substances that not only put a stain on their careers but also the sports they participated in?

For those who enter professional sport arena they have a huge responsibility. They are charged with the duties to remain clean – drug free, role models, and also to enhance the appeal of the sport by performing excellently. However, over the years many athletes have secretly used banned substances to cheat the sporting officials and the world by exceeding expectations. With these drugs injected and taken orally they (athletes) are able to perform above normal athletes who would not have been on drugs. The cases of drugged athletes are not contained to one sport, its spread across the board.

Personally, I have a problem with drugged athletes. Professional sporting bodies have formed boards and bodies to combat the use of drugs in sports. However, athletes seem to elude the officials and people set to investigate these occurrences. They put a taint not only on their successful careers but also the credibility of the sport itself. Promoters get millions of dollars for each meet, game, championship with years later hearing that the race, game you watched and adored will become null and void. The perception of having a clean drug free sport seems to be a fantasy idea today.

To remedy the situation the official bodies set to oversee this process have developed punishments. What is more surprising though is that in track and field there is a grading for banned substances. One would like to think that once a drug can advance or increase your abilities to exceed performance it would have the same rating like other dangerous drugs. This is the confused signal that the boards send and will motivate athletes to take drugs since all you will get is a slap on the wrist. Recently, five professional athletes in Jamaica was tested positive for taking banned substances. However, since the drugs taken have a Grade B rating all the athletes will get is a warning. Most argue that the athletes’ careers are tainted and get most of the slack. To this end, actually the sport gets most of the slack for not ensuring that the athletes are drug free and that the credibility of the race, game or championship is withheld.

If the boards set up to catch the perpetrators are doing so late then it makes sense to legalize banned drugs. It might seem ludicrous but when millions of fans take time out of their schedules to participate in events and then hear their favourite race, record set, game was scared by drugged athletes it doesn’t add up, it’s a failure. If sport administrators pledge to fans of their credibility, drug free athletes then they should be able to deliver on that target set. More must be done to ensure that athletes who participate do so drug free not damaging a sport’s reputation. These druggists must be stopped. They (athletes and coaches) know the rules and know which drugs are in products. They deliberately take drugs to outperform other legal athletes and get all the glory (awards, media coverage); which lasts only for a moment until what was done in the dark comes to the light of the world.

If they cannot guarantee drug free athletes to their millions of fans then they (administrators) should legalize banned substances. Whether it is Tour de France, Track and Field, Baseball, Tennis, Swimming, Horse racing you name it, they have a duty to ensure they live up to their set standards. I want to know that when I have watched a race, game, championship that the thought of an athlete being on drug is ludicrous, a non-issue, a dead story. It should be irrelevant. I should be able to trust the results and not think what I saw was a blatant lie.

Leadership

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. – Peter F. Drucker

leadership-risesmart

Universities and work places are trail blazers in regards to team work. Many companies have teamwork as a pillar of success in their organizational structure. One cannot leave undergraduate school or any school at all these days without taking part in teamwork activities. I have been on many teams in and since leaving university. Working with others can be a hard deal for some people. This happens because a team member may want to complete all the tasks and not share the duties to accomplish the goal. Teams can be misguided and can lose focus on the end result. That’s where leaders come in. They take charge and lead the team in delegating roles and duties and ensure that deadlines are met. If budgets are involved, a leader is critical to ensure that funds are allocated to specific areas and that spending isn’t out of hand.

The absence a real leader can be felt by those who know the purpose of one. When a leader is not on a project the team members are left to their own discretions. This can be fatal to the success of a project. There is a fundamental gap that a leader fills. When a leader is present, his/her presence is felt and if the leader is effective, the project will be successful. But not all leaders are effective. This drives the discussion whether a leader is born or made. I cannot decide because leaders are born with characteristics that makes them great leaders while proper leadership skills can be taught. Education plays a critical role and education changes attitude and people’s lives.

In the life of any project, there is a period known as ‘crunch time.’ Crunch time is that period where all the different aspects should now be coming together to make one, to achieve that one objective. At this point, no mistakes can be made. If mistakes are made and are hard to be corrected then it puts the purpose, the project in limbo, great jeopardy. Projects sometimes face this critical moment and having a leader is important. That one person who can remain calm when the storm is at its peak, that level headed individual who can call the shots and ensure team members remain focused on the gaol. It isn’t easy as a leader because at this moment you can lose it and become angry at team members who are slack and are not pulling their weight. There is a thin line to tread because leaders should know how to communicate to team members so that team morale isn’t lost and the synergy remains at its highest point.

The attitude a leader shows to the success of the project speaks volume. Team members want to know that the same passion they have for the success of the project the leader has that or even more. There is a popular phrase that says, attitude determines your altitude. That is relevant for a team because the attitude, that drive, the positive energies shown towards the project by the leader and some team members will inspire those who haven’t got the idea that hey I should be working hard to make this a success. Within the attitude of team members there is an important variable called personality.

Each team member is different and must be treated differently. Team members all show different qualities; some are shy, introverts, extroverts, creative etc. A leader should be able to create that balance that will allow the group to feel like one team. The leader’s role is very crucial as the team member who is shy should be able to express him/herself so that the team can benefit. Who knows? That shy individual could have a creative mind that will make the concept amazing. The leader cannot isolate persons because of his/her attitude. That may turn people away or restrain them from playing a positive role. Conflict resolution is an aspect of teamwork that is a pain. Members of the group should not always have conflicts but apparently if conflicts don’t arise there is no group. Traditionally, we have come to expect that at certain moments team members will be upset with each other. Leaders should never have to comment on every conflict that arises but those that will develop into bigger issues must be tackled from the start and resolved.

Using the best talents on a project can be an equation for failure. But leaders should be able to use these resources at their advantage to create a wonderful outcome. If the project is to perform, produce a presentation etc the final output must be flawless. Group work is designed to get the best out of more. Majority of persons will admit working in a group is certainly better than working on your own. However, a group can be a disaster. Groups must believe that achieving perfection is important.

Leadership isn’t for anyone. It takes a great deal of work to be good at it. Your communications ability, organizational skills, leadership, analytical skills are all tested to produce a product that all can be proud of. The best leaders for sure are those that are able to take directions. If your attitude is always against those in charge, leadership may not be for you. If your attitude is to see things run in order, achieve perfection you may want to improve on your skills to make outputs greater.

This article was inspired based on prior experience working with people on various projects. It is not easy and can be very difficult. Team members all have a role to play in a project. But one cannot isolate the effectiveness or the relevance of having an effective leader.

Sweet Communism

Socialism is the same as Communism, only better English” – George Bernard Shaw

Communism according to Wikipedia is a socioeconomic structure and political ideology that promotes the establishment of an egalitarian, classless, stateless society based on common ownership and control of the means of production and property in general.

We have come to know some countries that still practice communism in today’s world. Most democratic countries look down upon regions in the world that still practice this form of government. People’s Republic of China, Republic of Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Socialist Republic of Vietnam and Lao Peoples Democratic Republic all practice communism. What is interesting about these countries is that they all have good attributes those developing and first world countries all envy. There are so many lessons democratic countries can learn from communist countries.

China

China’s ability to manufacture products globally has made the country profitable with many countries owing them millions in trade. Trading is critical for the success and growth of any country. China is able to do this because of the low wages they remunerate staff with. First world countries refer to their ability to sustain large number of employment with cheap labour. China is also advancing with huge developments in technology. Most technological firms are based there. This drives their innovativeness which the western countries gravitate. China was on show for the Olympics in 2008. They used the opportunity to host the world at this event. Most people will never forget the Opening Ceremony at the summer games, as the country went all out to display the very best. A clip will follow this paragraph of the article showing my favourite piece from the performance. The clip will only show a snap shot of what took place in Beijing, China. I have never seen anything like that done before and a point to note; I do not know if London can outperform China in 2012. It’s a wait and see game right now.

Cuba

While most are wildly debating health care reform in America those in Cuba are relishing in one of the best health care system in the world. History will always remind us of the economic sanctions that Cuba has; but with all these factors against the country they are able to provide the best health care system. Cuba is not only able to provide a quality health care system but they are able to provide an education system that rivals many countries with huge investments. Cuba presently exports more than 20,000 doctors to Venezuela in exchange for oil. The country is set to become the premiere destination to study medicine.

North Korea

I love seeing the army on display in North Korea. The precision, unity, timing and power they show when they march is enviable. Countries aim to defend themselves in times of wars; investing in resources that will defend the country when the moment arises, which they never can tell. World powers like the US always have a problem when countries go the limit to defend themselves. One example of this is North Korea using nuclear weapons. The potential danger and threat that this can cause can be devastating. I am in no way sanctioning what North Korea does but the investments made to secure the country are admirable.

I want a country that has all these qualities. Wouldn’t you? A country with the best health care system, quality standards in education and a security system that will always protect from forces outside. There is a flip side to a country practicing this form of government though. The freedom of speech we have come to respect and enjoy will all go away. The government will own everything, all the businesses and properties. The government even decides on what the people can have, rather than what they want. It can be sad transitioning from a democratic state to a communist one.

However, there is one lesson that I will always take from a communist state. There are certainly some things in life we think we can’t live without but in the end, we definitely can.

One’s allegiance to their country must not be compromised. The moment a citizen has breached this rule and decides to run for public office it should become an issue. Most countries have strong rules and opinions on this matter. It is understandably why, pledging allegiance to your country shows love for your country and where your priorities are even when the going gets tough.

Recently in Jamaica politicians were under fire and still are because some pledged allegiance to different sovereign states. Both the ruling government and the opposition have been at war to oust members of the house who have citizenship in other countries. The courts have ruled on the matter and have issued that elections be held in the constituencies that are in question. I believe politicians must prove without a doubt their allegiance and documents proving that they are citizens of that country. This must be done even if the minority wants to know.

obama1There is a budding debate now going on in some quarters of the United States of America where citizens are crying fowl over the authenticity of Obama’s candidacy and him being president. Even if you think that the president is an American citizen which most people still believe why the president won’t provide full proof that he is. He has provided a document that any thief can provide as his birth certificate which doesn’t count. He has not provided the real birth certificate, that authentic document. Political pundits like Lou Dobbs are putting pressure on the issue. It just won’t go away.

Viewers of CNN are even lobbying for Lou Dobbs to leave the network. It’s an issue huge on most blogs. The President of CNN was reported saying that this birth certificate is a non-issue and it’s a dead story since the President released his fake birth certificate. That is appalling coming from a man who should be encouraging his team to research issues that are topical and are of importance. What is also amazing is that people who are against Obama seems to come under pressure when it is a real complaint. The media is so in love and in bed with Obama that they are not questioning this issue. The way they treated McCain on this matter for him to prove he was an American citizen is mind boggling. Can we have some balance here? That is why I also believe that people have a problem with the FOX Network. Because they push the button on issues and apologize to no one for their reporting. I can see why CNN has slipped.

Dobbs

Dobbs

The interesting thing is if Lou Dobbs leaves CNN I am sure FOX will gobble him up and he will have a huge contract providing real news keeping our politicians honest with the top network.

All I want Obama to do is to prove he is a USA citizen. Prove it with the real document. Let us see the seal, the doctor, and the document in its entirety. No make shift document will not work. With the media in bed Obama I am not sure how far this issue will go.

I have been to many weddings in my lifetime but I haven’t seen any like this. This bridal party entry was over the top and it worked. It worked because the bridal party was not goofy. They all could dance and have fun with it. It is true that when you are having fun doing something that energy is transferred to your audience. Viewers who sit and enjoy this video will love it because the dancers are. The entrance is pretty unique done to one of Chris Brown’s hit.

I have been in charge of music for wedding before and if I had brought this song I am definitely positive it would not have been approved. What was amazing to find out is that the church gave the approval for the song. Well, the churches I know would be not be so liberal.

The bride and groom rocked the church. The bride’s entrance was lovely giving her all the attention. I wonder what happened to the parents though. It would have been lovely to see them getting in on the action.

Watch the video and enjoy. Could this be a new trend? Good bye traditional wedding.

All my life I have always loved newscasts. I am intrigued by the delivery and how great anchors can adlib even without a teleprompter. I even thought about becoming a journalist when I was younger.

fox_news

Since I had access to cable networks and all that mess I have been in love with CNN. The whole gang of presenters I liked. At that time I would always dabble and watch some FOX and MSNBC. My least favourite was MSNBC, because I hated their production then.

Months ago, I decided I would keep a track of their ratings and I was shocked. All along I was hammered with CNN’s advertisement claiming which segments and times they were number one. Which when I researched was a lie. They were not the leaders at those times. I began to lose faith in them and watch as they became old fashioned in their style of presenting news. You saw the same things every hour, OLD NEWS.

The election campaign rolled along and boy I was interested. I was dubbed a politics ‘teh-teh-‘. I cannot tell you what means but I didn’t mind being called someone who was crazy about information and learning. In the election cycle I was a fan of Hillary. I wanted her to win the Democratic Nomination. I could not have favoured Obama who lacked experience and even with the many scandals that could have potentially ended his run, it didn’t because the media was in love with him and oh how he knows great marketing. I was upset because you would get a bias report and I thought at that time FOX NEWS presented a newscast that provided some balance.

I could not get why my friend would be upset when I tuned into FOX NEWS. Why would someone hate this network so much? I was confused. But, I have found out that many black Americans hate the network because they think the network is not pro-black. I however, do not get that feeling. Anytime I find FOX NEWS expressing hate towards people of different races then I will tune them out.

The ratings of the cable networks have been getting lots of attention these days because FOX NEWS who is hated for not providing ‘professional journalism’ is leading the market. I find it amazing that FOX NEWS is able to lead the market and do so convincingly. I love their presenters and the quality product.
Fox_&_FriendsFOX NEWS is doing their research unlike some other networks. We are currently in a market that is very open. People are not obligated to tune into one source for all information anymore. There are blogs, newspapers, different newscasts nationally, radio stations, social networks etc. People are tuning in now for the entertainment quality. They do not need to find out what Obama said last night. They are able to find it first in the media they choose to get that information. What they are going to come to your media house for commentary. Tell the public what heath care under the Obama administration means, etc. They want opinions, a discussion. FOX NEWS understands this and their programming are designed for this type of news.

To be honest, I have not been watching much of CNN these days. They have become boring, and insipid. I am crazy over FOX now. I love it. What makes me feel even better is that the network I depend on for information and quality commentary is the most watched network in the USA. That makes it even more special.

Rock on FOX NEWS.