It may seem off-putting at first, but in time we’ll all be thankful.
Laurel & Tercel
Long emails are the worst. Unless you absolutely need to send one, you shouldn’t (if the need is real, consider a phone call or in-person conversation).
And yet, instead of telling people to kindly boil it down, we trudge through their emails, wasting time. Or we risk missing valuable information by reading past dense blocks of text.
Neither strategy is effective. Nor is being rude to colleagues, friends, or potential business partners. One CEO has a simple solution:
“I work a lot through email and text. I make it my goal to review what has come in and separate those that I can answer,” says Beth Ford, the chief executive of Land O’ Lakes, in a recent interview with Fast Company.
“I also always say to my team: ‘Please don’t write me a novel, I won’t read it.’ I just don’t have the time. Instead, write in the subject line what it is that this is about. And tell me upfront–is a decision needed, or do you need me to look at something, or is it a ‘When you have time, take a look at this’?–so I can prioritize effectively and be responsive when I need to be.”
Simple as that, if everyone included this line at the end of their emails—”Please don’t write me a novel, I won’t read it”—in time, the novels would stop coming. Yes, it’s blunt. Yes, some people will perceive it as “too blunt.” Yes, those people are wrong.
Part of being an effective employee is ensuring you’re productive and efficient. Another part of being an effective employee is building positive relationships with your coworkers, which means they will probably send you long messages sometimes.
The beauty of Ford’s subject-line advice is that she is not dismissing the content of a long email you may send her or chastising you for sending it. Instead, she’s just telling you that due to the reality that time is fixed and work is ever-increasing, she will not be reading your email if it’s very long. This notification is both informative and actionable, as the recipient could easily re-send a more concise email or request a conversation.
Ford’s request also exposes conventional email subject lines for what they are, which is generally useless.
One major reason why messaging platforms like Slack have become so popular is that they enable quick, direct communication by cutting down on niceties we don’t really need. Whereas I once wrote my editors emails with vague subject lines like “Question about that story I just wrote,” I can now Slack message them, directly asking the question without preface. Directness and honesty are in, not only because they facilitate deeper workplace relationships, but also because they just make life easier, and more efficient.
If any semblance of “be more productive” is on your New Years’ resolutions list, consider making like Ford, and refusing the novels—especially if you’re a leader. Ample research suggests that when leaders model behavior, the rest of the pack follows suit.
For Communication Skills courses, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Economic turbulence is the new normal. And if the ups and downs have you wondering what the future holds, it’s a good news / bad news / good news story. But, that’s how it has been for the last 3 decades and will continue to be for the next 3 decades.
So, what is new about 2030?
The whole face of the life we live now will change. The world is going into a total transformation. Going from governments to industrial to governments to technology, everything will change including the air we breathe in.
You might not be considering the future, but remember that while 73 percent of online adults currently have a social media account, social media barely existed 15 years ago. And, the information age has proven to evolve and grow quicker by the decade.
Studies reveal global mega-trends such as:
Globalization 2.0 – a new world order is emerging as economic…
Several weeks ago, I met up with a friend in New York who suggested we grab a bite at a Scottish bar in the West Village. He had booked the table through something called Seated, a restaurant app that pays users who make reservations on the platform. We ordered two cocktails each, along with some food. And in exchange for the hard labor of drinking whiskey, the app awarded us $30 in credits redeemable at a variety of retailers.
I am never offended by freebies. But this arrangement seemed almost obscenely generous. To throw cash at people every time they walk into a restaurant does not sound like a business. It sounds like a plot to lose money as fast as possible—or to provide New Yorkers, who are constantly dining out, with a kind of minimum basic income.
“How does this thing make any sense?” I asked my friend.
“I don’t know if it makes sense, and I don’t know how long it’s going to last,” he said, pausing to scroll through redemption options. “So, do you want your half in Amazon credits or Starbucks?”
Derek Thompson: The best economic news no one wants to talk about
Idon’t know if it makes sense, and I don’t know how long it’s going to last. Is there a better epitaph for this age of consumer technology?
Starting about a decade ago, a fleet of well-known start-ups promised to change the way we work, work out, eat, shop, cook, commute, and sleep. These lifestyle-adjustment companies were so influential that wannabe entrepreneurs saw them as a template, flooding Silicon Valley with “Uber for X” pitches.
But as their promises soared, their profits didn’t. It’s easy to spend all day riding unicorns whose most magical property is their ability to combine high valuations with persistently negative earnings—something I’ve pointed out before. If you wake up on a Casper mattress, work out with a Peloton before breakfast, Uber to your desk at a WeWork, order DoorDash for lunch, take a Lyft home, and get dinner through Postmates, you’ve interacted with seven companies that will collectively lose nearly $14 billion this year. If you use Lime scooters to bop around the city, download Wag to walk your dog, and sign up for Blue Apron to make a meal, that’s three more brands that have never recorded a dime in earnings, or have seen their valuations fall by more than 50 percent.
These companies don’t give away cold hard cash as blatantly as Seated. But they’re not so different from the restaurant app. To maximize customer growth they have strategically—or at least “strategically”—throttled their prices, in effect providing a massive consumer subsidy. You might call it the Millennial Lifestyle Sponsorship, in which consumer tech companies, along with their venture-capital backers, help fund the daily habits of their disproportionately young and urban user base. With each Uber ride, WeWork membership, and hand-delivered dinner, the typical consumer has been getting a sweetheart deal.
For consumers—if not for many beleaguered contract workers—the MLS is a magnificent deal, a capital-to-labor transfer of wealth in pursuit of long-term profit; the sort of thing that might simultaneously please Bernie Sanders and the ghost of Milton Friedman.
But this was never going to last forever. WeWork’s disastrous IPO attempt has triggered reverberations across the industry. The theme of consumer tech has shifted from magic to margins. Venture capitalists and start-up founders alike have re-embraced an old mantra: Profits matter.
And higher profits can only mean one thing: Urban lifestyles are about to get more expensive.
The idea that companies like Uber and WeWork and DoorDash don’t make a profit might come as a shock to the many people who spend a fair amount of their take-home pay each month on ride-hailing, shared office space, or meal delivery.
There is a simple explanation for why they’re not making money. The answer, for finance people, has to do with something called “unit economics.” Normal people should think of it like this: Am I getting ripped off by these companies, or am I kinda-sorta ripping them off? In many cases, the answer is the latter.
Let’s say you buy a subscription to a meal-kit company, which sends you fresh ingredients and recipes to cook at home. You pay $100 a month. The ingredients are tasty, so you renew for the second month. And the third. But by the fourth month, you’ve decided that you’ve learned enough basic tricks around the kitchen to handle roasted chicken or sautéed cod by yourself. You cancel the subscription.
Your lifetime value to this company is $400—or $100 for four months. Since you quit, the meal-kit company has to find the next “you” to keep growing. So they advertise on podcasts. Let’s say that, on average, this company can expect to add 100 new users if it spends $50,000 on podcast advertising—or $500 per new user.
If the company spends millions on podcast ads, its user base and revenue base will grow and grow. Outside analysts will gasp and marvel: This meal-kit thing is on fire! But look closer: If it costs $500 to add a new user, and the typical marginal user—like you—only spends $400 on meal kits, there is no path to profitability. The road leads to the red.
This example is not a hypothetical. The meal-kit company Blue Apron revealed before its public offering that the company was spending about $460 to recruit each new member, despite making less than $400 per customer. From afar, the company looked like a powerhouse. But from a unit-economics standpoint—that is, by looking at the difference between customer value and customer cost—Blue Apron wasn’t a “company” so much as a dual-subsidy stream: first, sponsoring cooks by refusing to raise prices on ingredients to a break-even level; and second, by enriching podcast producers. Little surprise, then, that since Blue Apron went public, the firm’s valuation has crashed by more than 95 percent.
Blue Apron is an extreme example. But its problems are not unique. WeWork’s valuation crumbled when investors saw the company was losing more than $1 billion a year. Peloton’s stock got crushed when investors balked at its growing sales and marketing costs. Lyft and Uber may collectively lose $8 billion this year, in large part because the companies spend so much money trying to acquire new customers through discounts, promotions, and credits. Unit economics will have its revenge—just as it did after the last dot-com boom.
For years, corporate promises rose as profits fell. What’s coming next is the promise-profit convergence. Talk of global conquest will abate. Prices will rise—for scooters, for Uber, for Lyft, for food delivery, and more. And the great consumer subsidy will get squeezed. Eating out and eating in, ride-hailing and office-sharing, all of it will get a little more expensive. It was a good deal while it lasted.
MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA. The Middle East and Africa Duty Free Association (MEADFA) hosted its annual training event from 24 to 26 June at the Roda Al Bustan Hotel in Dubai, attracting a record 38 delegates from association members.
Representatives from MEADFA members gather in Dubai for the latest training event from 24 to 26 June, with the focus on sales and marketing techniques and trends; stand-out team members (below) were rewarded by the association at the event.
It is the fourth year in which marketing and sales executives have gathered through MEADFA to share knowledge and explore trends in the travel retail business. Corporate learning consultancy Laurel & Tercel Founder and CEO Ms. Iman Ousseyran chaired the event, which aimed to explore the forces that will shape travel retail over the next decade.
The event introduced modern marketing tools to delegates, with a focus on customer relationship marketing, online marketing, social media and interactive marketing. The Sales & Marketing Forum is a new programme for MEADFA, and the latest step in its ‘Learning Together’ programme.
The association launched its first learning & development event in 2006, and since then has delivered training to 550 representatives from MEADFA members through 25 programmes.
MEADFA President Haitham Al Majali commented: “We are proud to be able to bring delegates from so many different markets together every year to such a high-level learning and development event. The sharing of experiences is invaluable. I’m sure the benefits will be immediately visible with the increased productivity of delegates.”
MEADFA said in a statement: “The continuous increase in numbers of delegates and the eagerness to continue to attend MEADFA training programmes and forums year after year prove MEADFA’s commitment to the development of people. MEADFA, by using its resources, created this platform to support its members and provide them with the latest market trends, information and skills.”
By ISAAC ASIMOVSpecial to The Star. Thu., Dec. 27, 2018
Originally published Dec. 31, 1983
If we look into the world as it may be at the end of another generation, let’s say 2019 — that’s 35 years from now, the same number of years since 1949 when George Orwell’s 1984was first published — three considerations must dominate our thoughts:
1. Nuclear war. 2. Computerization. 3. Space utilization.
If the United States and the Soviet Union flail away at each other at any time between now and 2019, there is absolutely no use to discussing what life will be like in that year. Too few of us, or of our children and grand· children, will be alive then for there to be any point in describing the precise condition of global misery at that time.
Let us, therefore, assume there will be no nuclear war — not necessarily a safe assumption — and carry on from there.
Computerization will undoubtedly continue onward inevitably. Computers have already made themselves essential to the governments of the industrial nations, and to world industry: and it is now beginning to make itself comfortable in the home.
An essential side product, the mobile computerized object, or robot, is already flooding into industry and will, in the course of the next generation, penetrate the home.
There is bound to be resistance to the march of the computers, but barring a successful Luddite revolution, which does not seem in the cards, the march will continue.
The growing complexity of society will make it impossible to do without them, except by courting chaos; and those parts of the world that fall behind in this respect will suffer so obviously as a result that their ruling bodies will clamor for computerization as they now clamor for weapons.
The immediate effect of intensifying computerization will be, of course, to change utterly our work habits. This has happened before.
Before the Industrial Revolution, the vast majority of humanity was engaged in agriculture and indirectly allied professions. After industrialization, the shift from the farm to the factory was rapid and painful. With computerization the new shift from the factory to something new will be still more rapid and in consequence, still more painful.
It is not that computerization is going to mean fewer jobs as a whole, for technological advance has always, in the past, created more jobs than it has destroyed, and there is no reason to think that won’t be true now, too.
However, the jobs created are not identical with the jobs that have been destroyed, and in similar cases in the past the change has never been so radical.
Destroying our minds
The jobs that will disappear will tend to be just those routine clerical and assembly-line jobs that are simple enough, repetitive enough, and stultifying enough to destroy the finely balanced minds of those human beings unfortunate enough to have been forced to spend years doing them in order to earn a living, and yet complicated enough to rest above the capacity of any machine that is neither a computer nor computerized.
It is these that computers and robots for which they are perfectly designed will take over.
The jobs that will appear will, inevitably, involve the design, the manufacture, the installation, the maintenance and repair of computers and robots, and an understanding of whole new industries that these “intelligent” machines will make possible.
This means that a vast change in the nature of education must take place, and entire populations must be made “computer-literate” and must be taught to deal with a “high-tech” world.
Again, this sort of thing has happened before. An industrialized workforce must, of necessity, be more educated than an agricultural one. Field hands can get along without knowing how to read and write. Factory employees cannot.
Consequently, public education on a mass scale had to be introduced in industrializing nations in the course of the 19th century.
The change, however, is much faster this time and society must work much faster; perhaps faster than they can. It means that the next generation will be one of difficult transition as untrained millions find themselves helpless to do the jobs that most need doing.
By the year 2019, however, we should find that the transition is about over. Those who can be retrained and re-educated will have been: those who can’t be will have been put to work at something useful, or where ruling groups are less wise, will have been supported by some sort of grudging welfare arrangement.
In any case, the generation of the transition will be dying out, and there will be a new generation growing up who will have been educated into the new world. It is quite likely that society, then, will have entered a phase that may be more or less permanently improved over the situation as it now exists for a variety of reasons.
First: Population will be continuing to increase for some years after the present and this will make the pangs of transition even more painful. Governments will be unable to hide from themselves the fact that no problem can possibly be solved as long as those problems continue to be intensified by the addition of greater numbers more rapidly than they can be dealt with.
Efforts to prevent this from happening by encouraging a lower birthrate will become steadily more strenuous and it is to be hoped that by 2019, the world as a whole will be striving toward a population plateau.
Second: The consequences of human irresponsibility in terms of waste and pollution will become more apparent and unbearable with time and again, attempts to deal with this will become more strenuous. It is to be hoped that by 2019, advances in technology will place tools in our hands that will help accelerate the process whereby the deterioration of the environment will be reversed.
Third: The world effort that must be invested in this and in generally easing the pains of the transition may, assuming the presence of a minimum level of sanity among the peoples of the world, again not a safe assumption, weaken in comparison the causes that have fed the time-honoured quarrels between and within nations over petty hatred and suspicions.
In short, there will be increasing co-operation among nations and among groups within nations, not out of any sudden growth of idealism or decency but out of a cold-blooded realization that anything less than that will mean destruction for all.
By 2019, then, it may well be that the nations will be getting along well enough to allow the planet to live under the faint semblance of a world government by co-operation, even though no one may admit its existence.
Aside from these negative advances — the approaching defeat of overpopulation, pollution and militarism — there will be positive advances, too.
Education, which must be revolutionized in the new world, will be revolutionized by the very agency that requires the revolution — the computer.
Schools will undoubtedly still exist, but a good schoolteacher can do no better than to inspire curiosity which an interested student can then satisfy at home at the console of his computer outlet.
There will be an opportunity finally for every youngster, and indeed, every person, to learn what he or she wants to learn. in his or her own time, at his or her own speed, in his or her own way.
Education will become fun because it will bubble up from within and not be forced in from without.
While computers and robots are doing the scut-work of society so that the world, in 2019, will seem more and more to be “running itself,” more and more human beings will find themselves living a life rich in leisure.
This does not mean leisure to do nothing, but leisure to do something one wants to do; to be free to engage in scientific research, in literature and the arts, to pursue out-of-the-way interests and fascinating hobbies of all kinds.
And if it seems impossibly optimistic to suppose that the world could be changing in this direction in a mere 35 years (only changing, of course. and not necessarily having achieved the change totally), then add the final item to the mix. Add my third phrase: space utilization.
It is not likely that we will abandon space, having come this far. And if militarism fades, we will do more with it than make it another arena for war. Nor will we simply make trips through it.
We will enter space to stay.
With the shuttle rocket as the vehicle, we will build a space station and lay the foundation for making space a permanent home for increasing numbers of human beings.
Mining the Moon
By 2019, we will be back on the moon in force. There will be on it not Americans only, but an international force of some size; and not to collect moon rocks only, but to establish a mining station that will process moon soil and take it to places in space where it can be smelted into metals, ceramics. glass and concrete — construction materials for the large structures that will be put in orbit about the Earth.
One such structure which very conceivably, might be completed by 2019 would be the prototype of a solar power station, outfitted to collect solar energy, convert it to microwaves and beam it to Earth.
It would be the first of a girdle of such devices fitted about Earth’s equatorial plane. It would the beginning of the time when a major part of Earth’s energy will come from the sun under conditions that will make it not the property of any one nation, but of the globe generally.
Such structures will be, in themselves guarantees of world peace and continued co-operation among nations. The energy will be so necessary to all and so clearly deliverable only if the nations remain at peace and work together, that war would become simply unthinkable — by popular demand.
In addition, observatories will be built in space to increase our knowledge of the universe immeasurably; as will laboratories, where experiments can be conducted that might be unsafe, or impossible, on Earth’s surface.
Most important, in a practical sense, would be the construction of factories that could make use of the special properties of space — high and low temperatures, hard radiation. Unlimited vacuum, zero gravity — to manufacture objects that could be difficult or impossible to manufacture on Earth, so that the world’s technology might be totally transformed.
In fact, projects might even be on the planning boards in 2019 to shift industries into orbit in a wholesale manner. Space, you see, is far more voluminous than Earth’s surface is and it is therefore a far more useful repository for the waste that is inseparable from industry.
Nor are there living things in space to suffer from the influx of waste. And the waste would not even remain in Earth’s vicinity, but would be swept outward far beyond the asteroid belt by the solar wind.
Earth will then be in a position to rid itself of the side-effects of industrialization, and yet without actually getting rid of its needed advantages. The factories will be gone, but not far, only a few thousand miles straight up.
And humanity, not its structures only, will eventually be in space. By 2019, the first space settlement should be on the drawing boards; and may perhaps be under actual construction.
It would be the first of many in which human beings could live by the tens of thousands, and in which they could build small societies of all kinds, lending humanity a further twist of variety.
In fact, although the world of 2019 will be far changed from the present world of 1984, that will only be a barometer of far greater changes planned for the years still to come.
How and why did the Star get Asimov to write for us back in 1983?
Vian Ewart, who was Insight editor then, says the idea for an Orwell series came naturally, and he recalls the project fondly to this day. He put together a team including a writer (Ellie Tesher), an illustrator and layout designer.
“Asimov was popular at the time” for his science fiction, Ewart says, “so I simply phoned him at his New York home and asked him. He loved the idea of a 1984 series and was pleased to be ‘the lead-off writer.’ He was a very gracious man and charged $1 a word.