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Photo Credit: Dreamstime Stock

by Carolyn Gregoire

Forbes’ 30 Under 30. The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40. Inc.’s 35 Under 35. Fortune’s 40 Under 40. TIME’s 30 Under 30.

Sensing a pattern? We see it all the time in the media: Hyped-up lists of successful people categorized by age — but always under 40 — with brownie points given to the youngest wunderkinds of the bunch. And in every magazine profile, whether about an actress or an investment banker, the subject’s youth is presented as a badge of honor. “He took the helm at just 26, becoming the youngest CEO in the company’s history…,” “She published her first novel at 23,” or “She earned her MBA from Harvard by 25.”

It’s safe to say, as Simon Doonan put it, that “Youth is the new global currency.” Of course, American culture has long fetishized youth in terms of physical appearance — plastic surgery and anti-aging products are multi-billion-dollar industries in the U.S. — but more recently, our cultural obsession with youth has shifted to focus more on success. (Or at least, the traditional markers of success — money, power and status). In the digital age, anyone can become a CEO (and/or billionaire) by 22. And with people marrying, having children, and buying homes later and later, many 20-somethings are choosing to focus more on work and personal development rather than settling down.

“This is the time to be young and ambitious,” Forbes wrote last month in the introduction to its annual 30 Under 30 list. “Never before has youth been such an advantage.”

While this evolving definition of young adulthood is a positive development in a number of ways — young people should be encouraged to go out into the world and pursue their dreams — it comes at a price. Increasingly, they’re being judged by the outward success they achieve by the (rather arbitrary) age of 30.

There’s nothing wrong with celebrating the achievements of accomplished, driven young people, but the proliferation of “Under 30” lists may perpetuate unhealthy views toward youth and aging. And they could take a negative toll on the way the under-30 set views their own life progress and achievements.

Here are seven reasons we need to do away with the “Under 25/30/35/40” lists and celebrate success (in whatever form it may come) at every age.

We’re too obsessed with youth.

You don’t have to look far to see how obsessed our “forever 21” culture is with youth. Most TV shows and movies feature 20-something protagonists, and the media loves to focus on the achievements of young people — and to tell us all the amazing things about being in your 20s.

When we’re constantly being made aware of how young (or old) other people are, and marking our lives by the milestones of hitting 25, 30, and so on, age becomes central to our identity.

Obsession with youth also reflects and perpetuates a widespread societal fear of aging. Without a cultural ideal of old age (and even middle age), says psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, “our civilization does not really harbor a concept of the whole of life.”

20- and 30-somethings are stressed enough already.

Most Millennials would agree that perusing under-30 lists doesn’t exactly make them feel good about themselves. Besides glorifying an overachiever mentality (Achieve as much success as possible, as young as possible!), the lists encourage comparison, offering 20-something a yardstick against which to measure their own achievements — and inevitably come up short. Millennials are already America’s most-stressed generation, and a needless reminder that time’s a’ tickin’ likely isn’t helping matters.

As Millennial trend researcher Maude Standish wrote in a Huffington Post blog:

The allure of youth has culturally shifted from being about innocence to being about achievement. Many a Millennial I know has spent a long night pondering their misspent youth after reading the horrible torture tool that is the “30 Under 30” article. This deep panic is different from what Boomers experienced in their 20s, as many were capable of acquiring the trappings of adulthood early on — thankfully for them the economy made the dream of a house with a white picket fence a reality.

Feeling that you’re somehow already behind in life at the age of 23, or attaching your entire self-worth to external accomplishments, isn’t healthy. This can only worsen the unofficial (but all too real) malady known as “time famine,” the constant, stressful feeling that you don’t have time for all the things that need to get done. Time famine has been found to increase stress levels and decrease life satisfaction — and it certainly won’t help you achieve success in any meaningful way. Life doesn’t end at 30, and a goal achieved later in life is in no way diminished because you weren’t the youngest person to do it.

Your 20s (and 30s) are supposed to be for figuring things out.

There’s been a whole lot of debate about how one should spend their 20s, and everyone seems to have a strong opinion on the matter, whether you view it as the “defining decade” or a 10-year extension of adolescence. But wherever you stand on the matter, the scientific data has shown that in the early to mid-20s, the brain is still developing — meaning that it’s a prime time for exploration, learning and experimentation. (Read: You don’t have to have it all figured out.)

For this reason, some experts have argued that it’s better to delay major life decisions until the late 20s.

“Until very recently, we had to make some pretty important life decisions about education and career paths, who to marry and whether to go into the military at a time when parts of our brains weren’t optimal yet, “neuroscientist Jay Giedd told The Wall Street Journal. “It’s a good thing that the 20s are becoming a time for self-discovery.”

Psychologist Jeffrey Arnett, who coined the term “emerging adulthood,” agrees that it’s typical for 20-somethings to change their minds regularly and not be sure of what they’re going to do. “It’s the norm,” he said.

Big breakthroughs happen in your late 30s.

If you haven’t published your first novel, launched an outrageously successful tech start-up, finished your doctoral thesis, or made your first million by 35, fear not! Research has found that major creative breakthroughs tend to happen in an individual’s late 30s.

Researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research studied the ages of Nobel Prize-winning scientists and inventors, and found that many had their biggest scientific breakthroughs between the ages of 36 and 41. But it’s not just in science: Olga Khazan of The Atlantic noted that genius has been found not to decline with age — Robert Frost and William Carlos Williams wrote over 40 percent of their best poems after the age of 50 — so don’t worry if you’ve yet to pen your magnum opus.

As Khazan explained, “Genius, it seems, happens when a seasoned mind sees a problem with fresh eyes.”

There are a lot of perks to being a late bloomer.

What do Van Gogh, Julia Child and Sylvester Stallone have in common? Their great successes came much later in life — enough to immediately disqualify them for any “Under 30” list. Van Gogh didn’t start painting until his late 20s, and Harrison Ford didn’t get his big break in movies until he was cast in Star Wars at age 35.

It may even be beneficial to achieve your greatest successes later in life, after a period of experimentation, learning or even challenges. Late bloomers may be better at developing resiliency, according to some psychologists. They’ve also had time to experiment, make mistakes, overcome obstacles and learn things the hard way — which could lead to deeper, more meaningful work down the road.

Letting go of the “life timeline” you’ve created for yourself — dream job by 25, marriage by 28, kids by 30 — can be enormously liberating, and can help you to allow your life and career to unfold organically. And you never know what the unexpected upsides may be — as the Dalai Lama said, “Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”

Life gets happier as you get older.

Here’s an alternative to keeping a running tally of everything you achieve by 30: Take a page from the book of the older and wiser among us, and make a little time in your pursuit of success to enjoy life’s small pleasures.

Life doesn’t end at 30 — or 40, or 50, or 60. There’s a lot to look forward to as you age, and an extensive body of research has shown that people tend to enjoy greater happiness, lower stress levels and increased well-being later in life. A recent report found that while young people tend to seek out unusual or exciting experiences, older people are able to derive more value and enjoyment from ordinary, quotidian pleasures.

Becoming a CEO in your 20s also doesn’t account for much in terms of longer-term life satisfaction. The 75-year Harvard Grant study, the largest longitudinal study ever conducted, found that satisfaction in later life had very little to do with the achievements an individual racked up over the course of his career. In the context of a full life, love and connection to others was a far greater predictor of happiness.

“We found that contentment in the late 70s was not even suggestively associated with parental social class or even the man’s own income,” psychiatrist George Vaillant, the study’s director, told the Huffington Post. “In terms of achievement, the only thing that matters is that you be content at your work.”

Carolyn Gregoire writes for HuffPost where this article was first published and can be reached at [email protected] 

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan speaks during a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 22, 2014. (Photo Credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)

by Nana Nwachukwu

On the 20th of February 2014, the Presidency announced the suspension of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. There has been outrage, analysis etc. following the suspension.

The major issues which stand out are as follows;

  1. Does a suspension amount to a removal?
  2. Does the President have the power to suspend the Central Bank Governor?
  3. If Yes, is the rationale or reasons adduced by the Presidency sufficient to suspend the Central Bank Governor given that the reason were based on a report by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria?
  4. Is the presentation to Senate and ratification of a Central Bank Governor imply that Sanusi has been sacked?

I will attempt to throw some light on these issues.

Does a suspension amount to a removal?

The Oxford dictionary defines a suspension as to “officially prohibit (someone) from holding their usual post or carrying out their usual role for a particular length of time[1].

It also defines a ‘Removal’ as “the dismissal of someone from a job”[2].

Literarily speaking, a suspension is temporary while a removal is permanent therefore, they are separate issues.

An official can be suspended if the office he occupies is being investigated pending the outcome of the investigation. This in law follows the principle of equity ‘Nemo judex in causa sua’ which literarily means that one cannot be a judge in one’s case. This is done to prevent interference with the investigations in form of intimidations, cover-ups etc. However, these reasons are not exhaustive.

In suspending, removing or dismissing, the rule of law must be adhered to. This brings us to the next issue.

Does the President have the power to suspend the Central Bank Governor?

It may shock you but then yes, the President indeed has the power to suspend the CBN Governor. The CBN Act described the procedure for the appointment of the CBN Governor in Section 8 (1) [section reproduced below]

“8. (1) The Governor and Deputy Governors shall be persons of recognized financial experience and shall be appointed by the President subject to confirmation by the Senate on such terms and conditions as may be set out in their respective letters of appointment.”[3]

Now, the law states that where a person has statutory power to appoint a person, he also has an implied statutory power to suspend or remove the person appointed. See Section 11 of the Interpretation Act Cap 192 LFN 1990 [reproduced below].

11. (1)     Where an enactment confers a power to appoint a person either to an office or to exercise any functions, whether for a specified period or not, the power includes-

 (a)     power to appoint a person by name or to appoint the holder from time to time of a particular office;

(b)     power to remove or suspend him; [emphasis is mine]

(c)     power, exercisable in the manner and subject to the limitations and conditions (if any) applicable to the power to appoint,-

(i)     to reappoint or reinstate him,

(ii)     to appoint a person to act in his place, either generally or in regard to specified functions, during such time as is considered expedient by the authority in whom the power of appointment in question is vested.

(2)     A reference in an enactment to the holder of an office shall be construed as including a reference to a person for the time being appointed to act in his place, either as respects the functions of the office generally or the functions in regard to which he is appointed, as the case may be.”[4]

Now where the conflict comes is this, the President’s power to appoint the Central Bank Governor is exercised jointly with the Senate. The President appoints, the Senate ratifies. The same thing goes for the removal of the CBN Governor, the president notifies the Senate and IF he gets a 2/3 majority, then the CBN Governor would be considered removed or dismissed as it is. [Section 11(2)(f) CBN Act)

Now the lacuna exists, should the President’s power to suspend the CBN Governor be exercised arbitrarily or alongside the Senate?

Now interestingly, Section 10 of the Interpretation Act has this to say;

“10.    (1)   Where an enactment confers a power or imposes a duty, the power may be exercised and the duty shall be performed from time to time as occasion requires.

(2)     An enactment which confers power to do any act shall be construed as also conferring all such other powers as are reasonably necessary to enable that act to be done or are incidental to the doing of it.[Emphasis is mine]

It has been established that the President has the statutory power to suspend the CBN Governor. Should he have exercised it alongside the Senate? Not necessarily. Section 10 of the Interpretation Act appears to be of the opinion that the proviso to Section 11 (2)(f) of the CBN Act expanded and not limited the powers of the President.

This means that given that the President has the power to suspend the CBN Governor, and that a Suspension is not tantamount to a removal or a dismissal, it is however not covered by Section 11(2)(f) of the CBN Act and where a President has such statutory power as the power to suspend, then Section 10 of the Interpretation Act[reproduced above] would fill in such a lacuna.

The above propositions are yet to be tested in a Nigerian Court but are however logical.

Is the report by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria tenable?

Yes. The establishing Act of the FRCN explains its functions clearly in Section 8[5]. The Central Bank of Nigeria is a Public Interest Entity as defined by the same FRCN Act and as such, the FRCN can exercise such functions as listed in Section 8 of the FRCN Act over the CBN. It is alleged that the report by the FRCN indicated large sums spent without clarity and purpose implying misappropriation of funds.

A new CBN Governor is presented to the senate, does it means Sanusi is sacked?

No, not at all. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s term is to expire on the 3rd of June, 2014 which is some months from now. The suspension and the ratification are simply incidents taking place at the same time which are exclusive of each other. The procedure for the appointment of a new CBN Governor is clearly outlined in Section 8 of the CBN Act.

Personally, I believe it is dangerous for the law to allow arbitrary power to be exercised particularly where the economy is concerned and in the same vein, I strongly believe that the position of the CBN Governor is such that it should be legally impossible for the holder of such a position to be politically aligned.

The above reflects my legal opinion and thoughts. Contrary arguments are welcome.

Nana Nwachukwu tweets from @PUREHAIRE

References

[1] <http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/suspend> accessed 22nd February, 2014

[2] <http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/removal?q=removal> accessed 22nd February, 2014

[3] < http://www.cenbank.org/OUT/PUBLICATIONS/BSD/2007/CBNACT.PDF> accessed 22nd February, 2014

[4] < http://www.nigeria-law.org/Interpretation%20Act.htm> accessed 22nd February, 2014

[5] <http://www.financialreportingcouncil.gov.ng/attachments/category/14/FINANCIAL%20REPORTING%20ACT.pdf> accessed 22nd February, 2014

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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A 110-year-old woman believed to be the oldest survivor of the Holocaust and who endured the ordeal partly through her passion for music, has died in London, her family has said.

Alice Herz-Sommer, who is said to have counted writer Franz Kafka among her family friends and is the subject of an Oscar-nominated documentary, was a Jewish pianist and musician from Prague in what is today the Czech Republic.

In 1943, the Nazis sent her and her young son to Theresienstadt concentration camp, where tens of thousands of people lost their lives.

Neither her husband Leopold nor her mother Sofie survived World War II, but she and her son did.

Her grandson, Ariel Sommer, confirmed her death in London on Sunday (local time).

“Alice Sommer passed away peacefully this morning with her family by her bedside,” he said.

“Much has been written about her, but to those of us who knew her best, she was our dear ‘Gigi’.

“She loved us, laughed with us, and cherished music with us. She was an inspiration and our world will be significantly poorer without her by our side.”

She loved us, laughed with us, and cherished music with us. She was an inspiration and our world will be significantly poorer without her by our side.

– Ariel Sommer, grandson of Alice Herz-Sommer

Herz-Sommer was born in Prague in 1903. She and her son Raphael were freed from Nazi captivity in 1945 when the Soviet Red Army liberated their camp, and emigrated to Israel before settling in Britain.

Raphael, an accomplished cellist and conductor, died in 2001.

A documentary film, The Lady in Number 6, documents Herz-Sommer’s life and has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Documentary at the forthcoming Oscars.

Herz-Sommer, who along with other musicians gave concerts in the concentration camp to keep up her spirits and those of people around her, said before she died that Beethoven was her religion and that music had saved her life.

She famously said she bore no grudges and saw her life as a wonderful gift.

I think I am in my last days but it doesn’t really matter because I have had such a beautiful life.

– Alice Herz-Sommer

In a text about her on the website of Nick Reed, one of the producers of the documentary about her life, she was quoted before her death as saying she remained upbeat about life despite sensing she was coming to the end of it.

“I think I am in my last days but it doesn’t really matter because I have had such a beautiful life,” she said.

“I have lived through many wars and have lost everything many times – including my husband, my mother and my beloved son. Yet, life is beautiful, and I have so much to learn and enjoy. I have no space nor time for pessimism and hate.

“Life is beautiful, love is beautiful, nature and music are beautiful. Everything we experience is a gift, a present we should cherish and pass on to those we love.”

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A worker cleans a logo of Bharti Airtel at its zonal office building in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh May 2, 2013. | REUTERS/Ajay Verma

Separate affidavits filed by 16 commercial banks in Nigeria before a Lagos State High Court have revealed the bankrupt status of one of the nation’s leading telecoms firm, Airtel Nigeria Limited, Daily Independent reports.

According to the court documents, the net sum of Airtel’s assets is diminishing due to the liabilities of the firm. The company is in debt of N51,176,406, 896.90, while the total cash standing to the credit of the firm, was N131 million as at February 5th 2014.

Daily Independent reports:

According to the case, which brought about the revelation, Airtel had in 2003, terminated a contract earlier awarded to an indigenous Nigerian telecom service provider, Procomtel Limited.

Dissatisfied with the development, Procomtel approached Airtel in an attempt to resolve the matter.

Airtel was said to have agreed to pay Procomtel some money, while the rest was referred to arbitration.

The company paid the promised money, but refused to proceed with arbitration as agreed, a development which prompted Procomtel to file a suit against the company before the High Court of Lagos State.

The court, however, granted a request by Airtel that the matter should be taken back for arbitration.

The court had also directed that the President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) should appoint an independent arbitrator since that was the agreement between parties.

After the service of court order on the NSE President, a fellow of the society was appointed to arbitrate on the matter, which later took place in Ibadan with both parties submitting to the jurisdiction of the arbitrator.

At the end of the proceedings, the arbitrator awarded N415 million in favour of Procomtel against Airtel.

The arbitrator had also awarded interest at 17 per cent per annum till the whole amount is paid.

The award was made in 2007.

Airtel had then made attempts to set aside the award, but this was dismissed by Justice Adefope-Okojie of the Lagos State High Court.

Procomtel also sought for the specific performance of the agreement between the parties to arbitrate and to abide by the outcome of the arbitration at the same Lagos State High Court, but the suit was vigorously resisted by Airtel by filing a defence and also calling a witness during trial.

On December 19, 2013, the Lagos High Court ruled in favour of Procomtel and awarded an additional N25 million damages against Airtel.

In a bid to recover the judgment sum, Procomtel filed garnishee proceedings against Airtel and an order ‘nisi’ was subsequently made by the court, directing all 23 banks operating the account of Airtel to state the true state of things via affidavits.

Out of the 23 banks, the affidavits filed by 16 banks, however, revealed the bankrupt status of the telecom firm.

An official of Procomtel who spoke with Daily Independent, said the information in the affidavits were strange “because this is a company (Airtel) that makes money virtually every second of the day and has been doing so over the last 10 years without stopping for one day”.

He added: “To us, what is safe to deduce from this scenario is that either the banks are holding the court in contempt and lying about Airtel’s true position in order to curry favour with their customer; or the banks are in collusion with Airtel and are aiding and abetting capital flight from Nigeria; or Airtel has been fleeced by its management and is facing imminent bankruptcy.”

The source who crave anonymity believes that necessary agencies such as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) ought to look into the activities of the bankers to Airtel and the company itself with the view to bringing about necessary sanction where applicable.

Since its inception in 2001, Airtel, whose name was originally Econet had changed in ownership structure several times over to get to its present stage.

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Pat Utomi, Chief Cyril Ogodo, Favour Adibor, Victor Ochei, Cairo Ojougboh
Professor Patrick Utomi, erstwhile Vice Chairman of Keystone Bank

As controversy rages over the suspension of Mallam Sanusi Lamido, a renowned economist, Professor Pat Utomi has berated the tenure of Lamido as a Central Bank governor, describing his original appointment as “a huge mistake”

Reacting to the suspension of the controversial apex bank chief in a chat in Abuja, the Director of Lagos Business School, said Sanusi should never have been appointed as a Central Bank governor in the first place, declaring “it should not have happened”

Utomi joined two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana and Chief Mike Ozhekome who had issued legal positions on the suspension of the apex bank chief. While Falana blamed Sanusi for not resigning when so directed by President Goodluck Jonathan, Ozhekome cited alleged infringements of extant rules to justify Sanusi’s suspension.

FOLLOW: The Trent’s Special Coverage Of The Embattled CBN Govenor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

Utomi, however, faulted the nomination and appointment of Sanusi five years ago on the ground that the suspended bank chief lacked certain qualities of a Central Bank Governor

Utomi said: “It should not have happened. Sanusi’s appointments was wrong in the first place. He was not suitable for the job. CBN governors all over the World are men of great discretion in actions, pronouncements and deeds.”

READ: The CBN Act Gives The President The Authority To Suspend Or Remove The Governor – Ozekhome, SAN

READ: Femi Falana: My Thoughts On Sanusi Lamido’s Suspension

On Sunday, February 23, 2014, Utomi also took to social media to reveal his thoughts on Sanusi’s suspension.

See the tweets below presented in chronological order.

READ: Why President Jonathan Suspended CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido

READ: The Trent’s Special Coverage On Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

 

 

 

 

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Twelve months ago, Lululemon Athletica was one of the hottest brands in the world. Sales of its high-priced yoga gear were exploding; the company was expanding into new markets; experts were in awe of its “cultlike following.” As one observer put it, “They’re more than apparel. They’re a life style.” But then customers started complaining about pilling fabrics, bleeding dyes, and, most memorably, yoga pants so thin that they effectively became transparent when you bent over. Lululemon’s founder made things worse by suggesting that some women were too fat to wear the company’s clothes. And that was the end of Lululemon’s charmed existence: the founder stepped down from his management role, and, a few weeks ago, the company said that it had seen sales “decelerate meaningfully.”

It’s a truism of business-book thinking that a company’s brand is its “most important asset,” more valuable than technology or patents or manufacturing prowess. But brands have never been more fragile. The reason is simple: consumers are supremely well informed and far more likely to investigate the real value of products than to rely on logos. “Absolute Value,” a new book by Itamar Simonson, a marketing professor at Stanford, and Emanuel Rosen, a former software executive, shows that, historically, the rise of brands was a response to an information-poor environment. When consumers had to rely on advertisements and their past experience with a company, brands served as proxies for quality; if a car was made by G.M., or a ketchup by Heinz, you assumed that it was pretty good. It was hard to figure out if a new product from an unfamiliar company was reliable or not, so brand loyalty was a way of reducing risk. As recently as the nineteen-eighties, nearly four-fifths of American car buyers stayed loyal to a brand.

Today, consumers can read reams of research about whatever they want to buy. This started back with Consumer Reports, which did objective studies of products, and with J. D. Power’s quality rankings, which revealed what ordinary customers thought of the cars they’d bought. But what’s really weakened the power of brands is the Internet, which has given ordinary consumers easy access to expert reviews, user reviews, and detailed product data, in an array of categories. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that eighty per cent of consumers look atonline reviews before making major purchases, and a host of studies have logged the strong influence those reviews have on the decisions people make. The rise of social media has accelerated the trend to an astonishing degree: a dud product can become a laughingstock in a matter of hours. In the old days, you might buy a Sony television set because you’d owned one before, or because you trusted the brand. Today, such considerations matter much less than reviews on Amazon and Engadget and CNET. As Simonson told me, “each product now has to prove itself on its own.”

It’s been argued that the welter of information will actually make brands more valuable. As the influential consultancy Interbrand puts it, “In a world where consumers are oftentimes overwhelmed with information, the role a brand plays in people’s lives has become all the more important.” But information overload is largely a myth. “Most consumers learn very quickly how to get a great deal of information efficiently and effectively,” Simonson says. “Most of us figure out how to find what we’re looking for without spending huge amounts of time online.” And this has made customer loyalty pretty much a thing of the past. Only twenty-five per cent of American respondents in a recent Ernst & Young study said that brand loyaltyaffected how they shopped.

For established brands, this is a nightmare. You can never coast on past performance—the percentage of brand-loyal car buyers has plummeted in the past twenty years—and the price premium that a recognized brand can charge has shrunk. If you’re making a better product, you can still charge more, but, if your product is much like that of your competitors, your price needs to be similar, too. That’s the clearest indication that the economic value of brands—traditionally assessed by the premium a company could charge—is waning. This isn’t true across the board: brands retain value where the brand association is integral to the experience of a product (Coca-Cola, say), or where they confer status, as with luxury goods. But even here the information deluge is transformative; luxury travel, for instance, has been profoundly affected by sites like TripAdvisor.

For consumers this is ideal: they’re making better choices, and heightened competition has raised quality and held down prices. And they’re not the only beneficiaries; upstarts now find it easier to compete with the big boys. If you build a better mousetrap, people will soon know about it. A decade ago, personal-computer companies like Asus and Acer had almost no brand identity outside Taiwan. Now they are major players. Roku, a maker of streaming entertainment devices, has thrived even though its products have to compete with similar ones made by Apple (which is usually cited as the world’s most valuable brand). And Hyundai has gone from being a joke to selling four million cars a year. For much of the twentieth century, consumer markets were stable. Today, they are tumultuous, and you’re only as good as your last product. For brands like Lululemon, there’s only one consolation: make something really great and your past sins will be forgotten.

(via New Yorker)

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

hospital bed

A group of protesters have allegedly disrupted a dedication and thanksgiving ceremony at the new location of the ‘Light of Hope Orphanage’, Ogun State on Saturday February 22 2014.

The protesters.

The protesters. Credits: Comfort Oseghale

The ceremony was reportedly aborted hurriedly after the Director of the orphanage,  Mr. Olatayo Atunde, got wind of plans by   some non-governmental organisations to organise a protest march to the new abode.

Atunde had been accused by two underage inmates of the orphanage, of sexual abuse in 2013, which resulted in his subsequent arrest and arraignment before an Ota Magistrate Court, Ogun State, on four counts.

Atunde is said to be on bail presently after a brief stay at the Oba Prison in the Abeokuta area of the state; he was also barred from returning to the orphanage, which was located at the Akute area.

The orphanage, now being run by Atunde’s wife, later accepted the victims back to the orphanage after the state government took them from the custody of a non-governmental organisation – Project Alert on Violence Against Women.

It however came to the notice of some non-governmental organisations that Atunde had relocated the facility from Akute to Lambe and was set to re-assume the directorship of the establishment.

Several corporate organisations and other sponsors of the orphanage allegedly received a text message inviting them to a dedication ceremony of the new location of the orphanage in Ifesowapo Street.

The text message read in part, “Beloved, come rejoice with us as we celebrate God’s faithfulness in thanksgiving and dedication of the new place God appointed us on February 22, 2014 at 11am.”

It was learnt however, that members of many human rights bodies, including Project Alert, Women Arise, Media Concern and Freedom for Abused Children marched to the proposed thanksgiving location and protested the relocation of the orphanage.

Executive Director of Project Alert, Mrs. Josephine Effuah-Chukuwma, reportedly said, “It is only in Nigeria that an orphanage that is being investigated for an alleged crime will be left to operate. I don’t know why the Ogun State Government is encouraging impunity. Residents must be aware that a child sexual abuse center has been opened in their community.”

Executive Director, Women Arise, Mrs. Joe Odumakin, also demanded the immediate closure of the orphanage and called on the Ogun State House of Assembly to look into the issue.

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Jason Collins has reached a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets, becoming the first openly gay athlete to play in major professional basketball after coming out last May.

READ: ‘I am Michael Sam and I am gay’: US College Football Star Comes Out In Surprise Move (TWEETS)

The free agent, 35, will be available to play on Sunday when the Nets play the Los Angeles Lakers in the Staples Center, Yahoo Sports reports. Having played parts of seven years with the Nets between 2001-08, Collins is a veteran of the team, and Nets coach Jason Kidd has advocated signing him. He also played with the Celtics and completed the 2012-’13 with the Celtics.

Collins came out last year in an article published in Sports Illustrated, but has since gone without a job offer for the NBA preseason and regular season. His current agreement with the Nets comes after the team was unable to sign Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who instead went to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Collins said last year he struggled with his sexuality for his entire career, but revealing his sexual orientation made it much easier to live happily.

“The most you can do is stand up for what you believe in,” Collins said when he came out. “I’m much happier since coming out to my friends and family. Being genuine and honest makes me happy.”

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by Zach Schonfeld

2.21_dogecoin

There isn’t a BuzzFeed quiz to determine which cryptocurrency you are. But at the rate Bitcoin alternatives have been flooding the Internet in recent weeks and months, it can’t be long, can it?

The newest cryptocurrency, inspired by the aborted Coinye, a Kanye West themed-currency, is Kim Coindashian, or “Kimcoin,” a digital currency pegged around — yes — Kim Kardashian. It’s so new it doesn’t entirely exist yet, but its developers swear they’re not joking. And they are convinced the reality TV star will take to the cryptocurrency treatment better than her fiancé, who shut Coinye down faster than you could say “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Currency.” Can this one be different?

“When ‘Kanye-coin’ came out, I thought it was a huge business opportunity and he actually should have been flattered,” said Kimcoin co-developer Azeem, who works at a start-up in Boston and asked that his last name not be identified. “But they were really trying to provoke him. How we’re trying to approach it is being very earnest and saying, ‘This is a legitimate business opportunity and we’d love to sit down with you to talk about it.’”

Maybe it doesn’t seem like a “legitimate business opportunity,” considering that of thousands of potential celebrity targets, Azeem went after the one celebrity who’s closest to the only celebrity who has already filed a cease and desist notice regarding all of this cryptocurrency mumbo-jumbo. But like most “legitimate business opportunities” — most of the fun ones, at least — it started as a joke. Then, several weeks ago, Azeem and his partner spotted a window of opportunity and began acting on it. Now they’re filing trademarks and looking for a software engineer.

“It could serve the interest of a lot of people — the cryptocurrency people on one side and obviously Kim Kardashian and her brand on the other,” he toldNewsweek. “We’re essentially bringing two sides together who would not interact otherwise.”

Not that it would be the strangest digital currency floating around in 2014 — or the first to draw success from only semi-serious beginnings. Dogecoin, which fulfills some ancient Mayan prophecy by forging an unholy alliance between an Internet meme and a usable currency, has seized the Internet’s ever-flickering attention as of late, surging past alternatives like Namecoin (which has been around since the Dark Ages of 2011), Litecoin (which is the most valuable cryptocurrency after Bitcoin), and Florincoin (which purportedly lets users attach messages to their transactions) in the process.

Dogecoin, of course, has something none of its competitors has. It has dogs.

Dogs that peer out from its logo, faces lovingly splattered with Doge’s trademark Comic Sans proclamations. Dogs — real, live Shiba Inus — whoreportedly pop up at Manhattan meetups and party alongside Doge-costumed enthusiasts when they take a break from manning their digital wallets or moderating subreddits. Dogs who, thank Basegod, don’t file cease and desist requests. Not yet, at least.

Still, it should surprise no one that this mutant form of canine-inspired tender also started as a joke. Or so says Ben Doernberg, an involved citizen of the Dogecoin Foundation who also, yes, moderates the Dogecoin subreddit and claims to be “monitoring a future based on blockchain technology,” referring to the public database of Bitcoin ownership and transactions.

The hazy origin story goes like this: there was “a guy named Jackson Palmer in Australia” who reached out to “a guy from Portland who goes by the name Billy Markus,” who programmed the coin, and “quickly, this huge community arose around the coin and it started to actually be used.”

And somehow, strangely, it has evolved into the second most popular cryptocurrency in terms of dollars being transacted. And it’s particularly useful for tipping, Doernberg said. Not at Olive Garden, but online: “If you’re a content creator and you make a video or a GIF that people like, they can send you a hundred doge or a thousand doge as a way to say, ‘Nice GIF.’ [Or] they can send them if someone is particularly helpful on an Internet forum.”

But its higher purpose, if it has such a thing, is to lighten the stodgy Bitcoin mood a bit. “Bitcoin is something that for most people involved is extremely serious,” Doernberg said. “The founding of Bitcoin is sort of a combination of a technological and economic project meant to have geopolitical implications. I think they just thought it’d be really funny to take something so serious and put a fun, goofy spin on it.”

“[But] it became clear very quickly that there are a lot of people sort of interested in that,” he added.

  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=000al7ru3ms

Meanwhile, roughly 160 miles southwest of Dogecoin’s New York hub, in the middle of Pennsylvania’s Amish Country, a registered nurse named Joe White runs the largest continual mining pool for FreiCoin, a digital currency whose developers include a former NASA rocket scientist named Mark Freidenbach.

Founded in late 2012, FreiCoin makes use of the same protocol rules Bitcoin uses, but White says it’s meant to complement rather than contend with Bitcoin, “to encourage daily trading and local economic growth.” Last spring, White quit his day job to work with FreiCoin full time.

Lately, he claims, interest has been picking up. Sort of.

“In recent days, FreiCoin has seen a rise in valuation and is seeing its increase back to the level it was earlier this year,” White, who has christened himself the “Pool Op,” or “pool operator,” told Newsweek. “It’s currently about 0.04 USD, but in my knowledge of cryptos I see the value being more like 1:1 with the USD.”

He also explained that a minor subsidy — or demurrage charge, paid by all FreiCoin holders — keeps transaction fees as low as possible. That’s another advantage over Bitcoin: “With Bitcoin it’d cost maybe a dollar or two to send a grand. I saw one [FreiCoin] transaction and it was about an eighth of a cent for something like 10 or 20 thousand U.S. dollars.”

Still, in a part of Pennsylvania where White’s neighbors are more likely to be found churning butter than mining Bitcoin, yet another digital currency with a harder-to-pronounce name is a tough sell. But White expresses no regret about throwing himself into it wholesale.

“I probably spend about 80 to 90 percent of my life keeping up with the security and code,” he said. “And I left my good-paying job to come do this. I’ve been really living frugally to get this all going.”

(via Newsweek

couple tell things questions
Stock Image: Models in photo
  1. Stay Focused: Sometimes it’s tempting to bring up past seemingly related conflicts when dealing with current ones. Unfortunately, this often clouds the issue and makes finding mutual understanding and a solution to the current issue less likely, and makes the whole discussion more taxing and even confusing. Try not to bring up past hurts or other topics. Stay focused on the present, your feelings, understanding one another and finding a solution.
  2. Listen Carefully: People often think they’re listening, but are really thinking about what they’re going to say next when the other person stops talking. Truly effective communication goes both ways. While it might be difficult, try really listening to what your partner is saying. Don’t interrupt. Don’t get defensive. Just hear them and reflect back what they’re saying so they know you’ve heard. Then you’ll understand them better and they’ll be more willing to listen to you.
  3. Try To See Their Point of View: In a conflict, most of us primarily want to feel heard and understood. We talk a lot about our point of view to get the other person to see things our way. Ironically, if we all do this all the time, there’s little focus on the other person’s point of view, and nobody feels understood. Try to really see the other side, and then you can better explain yours. (If you don’t ‘get it’, ask more questions until you do.) Others will more likely be willing to listen if they feel heard.
  4. Respond to Criticism with Empathy: When someone comes at you with criticism, it’s easy to feel that they’re wrong, and get defensive. While criticism is hard to hear, and often exaggerated or colored by the other person’s emotions, it’s important to listen for the other person’s pain and respond with empathy for their feelings. Also, look for what’s true in what they’re saying; that can be valuable information for you.
  5. Own What’s Yours: Realize that personal responsibility is a strength, not a weakness. Effective communication involves admitting when you’re wrong. If you both share some responsibility in a conflict (which is usually the case), look for and admit to what’s yours. It diffuses the situation, sets a good example, and shows maturity. It also often inspires the other person to respond in kind, leading you both closer to mutual understanding and a solution.
  6. Use “I” Messages: Rather than saying things like, “You really messed up here,” begin statements with “I”, and make them about yourself and your feelings, like, “I feel frustrated when this happens.” It’s less accusatory, sparks less defensiveness, and helps the other person understand your point of view rather than feeling attacked.
  7. Look for Compromise Instead of trying to ‘win’ the argument, look for solutions that meet everybody’s needs. Either through compromise, or a new solution that gives you both what you want most, this focus is much more effective than one person getting what they want at the other’s expense. Healthy communication involves finding a resolution that both sides can be happy with.
  8. Take a Time-Out: Sometimes tempers get heated and it’s just too difficult to continue a discussion without it becoming an argument or a fight. If you feel yourself or your partner starting to get too angry to be constructive, or showing some destructive communication patterns, it’s okay to take a break from the discussion until you both cool off. Sometimes good communication means knowing when to take a break.
  9. Don’t Give Up: While taking a break from the discussion is sometimes a good idea, always come back to it. If you both approach the situation with a constructive attitude, mutual respect, and a willingness to see the other’s point of view or at least find a solution, you can make progress toward the goal of a resolution to the conflict. Unless it’s time to give up on the relationship, don’t give up on communication.
  10. Ask For Help If You Need It: If one or both of you has trouble staying respectful during conflict, or if you’ve tried resolving conflict with your partner on your own and the situation just doesn’t seem to be improving, you might benefit from a few sessions with a therapist. Couples counseling or family therapy can provide help with altercations and teach skills to resolve future conflict. If your partner doesn’t want to go, you can still often benefit from going alone.
  11. Bonus Tools:
      • What is your communication style? Learn more about how you communicate and how this may affect your relationships and stress levels with the Assertiveness Quiz.

     

      • Are you a perfectionist? Type A? Knowing more about your personality and they way you manage stress (and finding targeted recommendations for better stress management) can positively affect your relationships as well. Take other personality tests.

     

    • Lowering your stress levels can help you to feel more relaxed in general, and this can help you to be more present, relaxed, and fun-loving in your relationships. These free e-courses can help you to manage the stress in your life in a more ongoing way.

Tips:

  1. Remember that the goal of effective communication skills should be mutual understanding and finding a solution that pleases both parties, not ‘winning’ the argument or ‘being right’.
  2. This doesn’t work in every situation, but sometimes (if you’re having a conflict in a romantic relationship) it helps to hold hands or stay physically connected as you talk. This can remind you that you still care about each other and generally support one another.
  3. Keep in mind that it’s important to remain respectful of the other person, even if you don’t like their actions.
  4. Here’s a list of common unhealthy ways to handle conflict. Do you do some of these? If so, your poor communication skills could be causing additional stress in your life.
  5. For more communication and stress management resources, sign up for the free weekly newsletter, or explore these additional stress management resources.

(via About.com)

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