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November, 2015

To Selfie or not ot selfie

Many years have passed since football legend Pele visited Kolkata and a lot has changed since then. A few weeks ago, when he was greeted by fans at Atletico de Kolkata’s ISL fixture against Kerala Blasters at the Vivekananada Yuva Bharati Krirangan Stadium in Salt Lake, Kolkata; one thing other than football was also uppermost in fans’ minds – get a selfie with Pele. This thought is so far removed from Pele’s first visit, thirty-seven years ago; no one would have predicted that the word “selfie” would have gained so much prominence. But fans, who managed to take selfies with Pele, soon started posting pictures of their memorable moment on social media. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were soon full of selfies with Pele.

It is only two years ago that the Oxford English Dictionary, an icon of the English language, gave the accolade of “Word of the Year” to “selfie”. Since then the word has become a feature, for many of us, in our everyday language. For the uninitiated, and others will tell you that you had better get with it, a selfie is a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a mobile phone camera, held in the hand or supported by a selfie stick.

Ranging from the flattering, casual and sometimes bizarre, most selfies are taken with the mobile held at arm’s length or pointed at a mirror so as to avoid using a self-timer. But the one indisputable fact of a selfie, which makes them so much in demand, is the overarching thought that if it happened then there must be a picture. No picture then it didn’t happen!

However the temptation to take a selfie and post it almost immediately on social media has brought its own problems. Just like pressing the send button on an email, and then regretting it soon afterwards, selfies are being posted without any thought to the unexpected consequences. Once posted on social media, selfies can soon attract reposts and retweets gaining so many views they are deemed to have gone viral. What the picture taker felt was a personal view of an event, to share with a few friends, becomes everyone’s property on which to make comment – good or bad.

When Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt was shown taking a smiling selfie, sitting in-between US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, it probably never crossed her mind that she was going to create an international commotion. Although the selfie was taken at a memorial service for Nelson Mandela in December 2013 it is still, even now, doing the rounds as a selfie “in bad taste”.

Believe it or not more people have died, in recent years, while trying to take a “selfie” than from shark attacks. You may wonder how these unfortunate tragic selfies occurred.  There is the 66 year old Japanese tourist who fatally injured himself, after falling down some stairs, whilst taking a selfie at India’s Taj Mahal. Others have been killed getting too close to wild animals for that once in a lifetime selfie. In 2014, organisers of the Tour de France were compelled to ask spectators to “respect the riders” after a number of accidents occurred when spectators ran onto the roads to take selfies.

These situations arise because selfie takers frequently become so engrossed in achieving a “wow-factor” picture they forget about what they are actually doing. Of course as the selfie trend grows so do the opportunities for others to make money. Have you spotted the product placement which appears in many of the celebrity selfies? You can safely bet this is not by accident. But the image that the celebrity selfie encapsulates is one that today’s selfie generation is attracted to follow – to take part in what seems glamour and fun. Posting a selfie democratises the idea of celebrity and the dream of instant success. For one moment, as the selfie is taken, that person is making a self-confident statement.

However like many things it is all “ifs and buts” so as many of us will be tempted to take selfies, especially during festive celebrations, there is little point waiting on the side-lines as just one selfie might make YOU famous. Like the lottery saying, “You have to be in it to win it” and with fame should come some good fortune. So smile everyone please this “Kaleidoscope Team” selfie is about to go VIRAL!

September, 2015

Bouncing Back

Have you ever wondered why some people nearly always seem upbeat and motivated, whereas others feel stuck in a rut? Even when the troubles of life hit them, there are those who just seem to carry on and bounce back. Well if you do find yourself wondering, you may take comfort from the fact that you are not alone. Set-backs are all part of life and it is how we deal with them that limits our ability to be happy. If you want to know how to “bounce back” then read on……

Happiness, and our ability to be happy, is known to depend on three main components. The largest of these, around 50%, are our genes, family background and upbringing. Obviously we are not in a position to change these but appreciating how they have influenced us brings a realisation that we must build on our experiences and not let them restrict our motivation.

A belief in one’s own self is what matters most. What others think of us should never take priority as a reason for holding back.

The second most important influence on our ability to bounce back and be happy, at 40%, is determined by our activities and relationships. It goes without saying that if you have a problem then do something completely different. Go for a run, play football, in fact anything energetic. The rush of blood through our bodies, our pumping heart and even the sweat detracts from a continued focus on negative thoughts. If we combine these activities with our friends then so much the better. Talking is easy but it does not really break the brain thinking cycle. Whereas spirited activity often proves to be a catalyst for breaking a downward defeatist cycle.

Surprisingly the least important of the main happiness factors, at only 10%, is shown as life circumstances, income and environment. Now come on, be honest, how many of us have said,

If only I had more money everything would be so much better?

In fact research shows that nothing could be further from the truth. Many have more money than any of us but they are still unhappy.

So taking these three main components into account, how do we bounce back and become happy? Well it is all about motivation – which is central to creativity, productivity and happiness. When we are motivated we act, create and change because we feel involved and able to influence not only ourselves but also those we love. This gives our lives purpose and as a consequence brings happiness.

When life becomes boring or some failure, disappointment hits us, then those who remain happy have a mind-set where they see the adversity not as a stumbling block; but as a stepping stone to greater success. They do not let feelings of inadequacy or even a fear of success, hold them back. Such negative emotions may arise from our upbringing, which is why we need to examine and understand our formative years. It is said that if you want to be a millionaire, firstly start mixing with millionaires. Similarly if you want to be happy and successful start mixing with others who are happy…..because success may then follow. It is worth noting that very few successful people are unhappy as they generally bounce happily forward on their success.

In conclusion therefore, the question arises as to how do you view your ability to bounce back?  A good example for you to ponder comes from an experiment with jumping frogs. These were placed in separate glass jars, then covered with glass lids to prevent them escaping. They were given food and water so they could survive. At first the frogs kept jumping, trying to escape, but they kept hitting their heads on the “invisible” glass lids. After thirty days the glass lids were removed. Even though the lids were not there anymore and it would have been easy for the frogs to jump out of the jars, they did not even try. Over the previous thirty days they had learnt they could not escape, so even when the glass lids were removed, they were still restricted by their self-limiting belief.

So if you find yourself, needing motivation to “bounce back” make sure you are not being fooled into believing you are limited by what was a glass ceiling that is now no longer there. Jump high and jump with confidence because you will probably find yourself leaping happily higher than you ever believed possible. Nothing ventured, nothing gained…so go on “Bounce Back”.

July, 2015

Shoes That Fit !

Invariably many things, in our day to day lives, change in a way that we just do not seem to notice. It was not that long ago that, in many countries, the small corner shop ruled. It not only provided personal service, it was also the centre of local gossip and news. The compulsive attraction of the shopping experience seems to rob most customers of good sense and reason. Impulse buying, influenced by the way store displays are arranged, often mean we return home with things we never really intended to purchase.

An internationally famous cut-price store group regularly has offers on totally unexpected items. Customers are known for going in to buy vegetables and come out having bought, unexpectedly, a new microwave! So strong is our desire to shop that the Internet has become the driving force. Unlike the corner shop, with which we tend to have a personal relationship, the big stores never get to know us in the same personal way. The Internet moves us even further away from meaningful individualised customer service because online vendors can only provide impersonal web suggestions. As online buyers we usually try to do all the research ourselves. The helpful comments and advice we use to receive from our corner shop have effectively vanished from the process.

I recently found, online, a wonderful pair of sports shoes at what was a great bargain price. However when they were delivered, even though I had ordered my usual size, they did not fit. Perhaps this represents an online equivalent of impulse buying but, there again, how could I check out if that style of shoe fitted me?

Unfortunately I had not read the website’s small print and only when I tried to return them did I discover that I was liable for the postage charges etc. The hassle and cost, in time and money, of doing this meant I ended-up giving the shoes away to a friend. But my friend’s gain was the online stores loss, because I never shopped with them again. What I had thought was an e-bargain turned out not to be the case. I learnt to only use online retailers who have a favourable returns policy.

So can you imagine a supermarket with no customers, no aisles to walk along, no checkout tills and certainly no shop assistants? In doing this you have just created a “dark store”, the name for something which exists to cater for the needs of the public’s demand for online shopping. Technology is rapidly reshaping the way we shop and also changing the way our town’s and city’s high streets look. Stores accept that many of us now spend our time ‘showrooming’ instead of doing real shops. We stroll through the stores whilst at the same time using our mobiles to check whether what we want to buy is cheaper somewhere else, maybe online. Probably most worrying for the supermarkets and shopping centres is that some 40% of the under-40s “showroom” and this proportion is set to grown.

Just like other changes, it has been almost unnoticed, that consumerism has become a principal pastime for the greater majority of us. We have become a generation of shopaholics believing that the more we consume the better our lives and social status will be. Some may think that we are destined to be slaves of online buying, where we don’t have any tangible confirmation of what we are going to get.

However we still value the opportunity to inspect what we want to buy, so it maybe that “showrooming” and online buying might be able to combine to provide more openness in the online shopping experience. This has already started in some areas, with “buy online – collect and inspect in store” and “book your holiday – pay balance at travel agent”. So maybe I should look forward to buying shoes that fit but there again perhaps it won’t be long before we have 3D virtual shoe fittings online!

May, 2015

X Factor ?

It’s over 80 years ago that Sir Noel Coward, an English playwright, composer and performer, wrote:- Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington. Don’t put your daughter on the stage. The profession is overcrowded, And the struggle’s pretty tough.

But it appears that very few have taken his advice to heart as The X Factor television talent show, seen in over twenty countries, appears to have changed everything.  Across the world thousands of wannabes turn up for the open auditions.  From Australia to USA, India to UK, they all presumably have dreams of becoming the next multi-dollar international star.  Why is it that they all try when the chances of them achieving their dreams or even surviving, if they get on this showbiz whirligig, is so elusive and onerous? How many winners can you remember and as for those who were runners-up? Of course, as with anything, there is always the exception which proves the rule. In the UK 2010 X Factor whilst 1st place winner was Matt Cardle, runners-up in  3rd place were five guys known as “One Direction” and looked what happened to them!  The X Factor format ran into difficulties in the US, but even now those desperate to appear are signing petitions of support. Elsewhere the show takes on board the cultural and social demands of its TV audience. In the UK celebrity judge Cheryl Cole is compared with India’s judge Sonu Nigam, whilst in the US Britney Spears endeavoured to take on an identical role. From Pop to Punk, Bollywood to Bhangra, Rock to Reggae the show reflects a country’s musical heritage ensuring its mass appeal. Surely it must be true that a bad singer is a bad singer, no matter where you are in the world? So why is it so many want to appear when, in some cases, they just make fools of themselves?

As the impact of X Factor has grown so has the involvement of psychologists giving their views about the dangers of this type of reality TV show. It has been realised for many years that a successful show needs to generate the emotions of “Ooh”, “Arr” and “Ugh”, so as to appeal to viewers and correspondingly increase ratings. Just think of how many emotions a sports fan summons up whilst watching their favourite football or cricket team.

No wonder sports programmes are very popular. Well shows like The X Factor play similarly on people’s emotions, hope and expectations. Contestants, on being asked what taking part means to them, often results in heart-jerking tearful tales.  However after a couple of series we tend to be less sympathetic as we have heard it all before. This is why TV producers keep up the pressure by adding new twists and turns in the on-going format. Contestants equally start performing with more “off the wall” routines so as to attract attention. Eventually we become fed-up and the consequence is that the series starts to lose viewing figures.

So why do singers try to get on the show? Amongst contestants it’s a mixture of ambition, fun and determination jumbled in many variable ways. They have to have a belief in themselves which drives them onwards above everything else. The mass auditions are whittled down to another group, and so on, until only a few are left for the auditions viewers eventually see.  By the time any contestant is seen by the TV judges, they have already been through at least two auditions. The show’s originator and powerhouse Simon Cowell is reported as being upset that there are people who come on the show just because they want fame. They’ll do anything before and afterwards because that is why they’ve entered The X Factor.

So if you are everso slightly tempted to view The X Factor as your road to success and stardom, let’s finish with another thought provoking quote from Sir Noel Coward:-

Work hard, do the best you can, don’t ever lose faith in yourself and take no notice of what other people say about you !

March, 2015

The Importance Of Anniversaries

Similar to choosing other topics for Kaleidoscope, we usually start the ideas flowing by having a chat between ourselves. This month, one of the team said, “Well I hope you are going to mention that this will be the 20th anniversary edition of our corporate magazine; Lighthouse?”  How quickly the years seem to have passed. But arriving at this milestone for CSS started us thinking about anniversaries and why they are so important in our lives.

Just ponder for a while on the many different types of anniversaries which exist. Let’s, for example, start with some family and personal ones: – marriage, birthdays, deaths, commencing work, beginning university and perhaps baby’s first steps. Then we can move onto those which are cultural,  religious, historical and national:-  Diwali, this year falling on Wednesday 11th November; Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, 20th July 1969; Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, 2nd October.

Whilst all these occasions are dissimilar they all share one common attribute. They help us commemorate events and, in doing so, add more meaning to our lives.  It has been the same since humanity first started walking this earth. Not only have we always had a need to recognise time and its passing but also we have equally been a dedicated species of party animals. The Ice Age and cave dwelling seem totally alien when compared with our ability today to just stroll down to the local store to get food. It was a very hard existence so any excuse for a celebration was welcome, especially when food arrived. Bringing home a woolly mammoth called for a “Mammoth” Party.  Naturally these were bigger than other parties as a tribe could feed on a woolly mammoth for a long-time. No wonder party organisers today are keen to use mammoth as a descriptive adjective for their event. This focus on the ability to eat and the arrival of more family mouths to feed developed into recognising the bigger events like the beginning and end of nicer weather akin to Easter/Spring and Harvest/Thanksgiving.  As a tribe grew and waged war with others, or joined with them, the tradition of celebrating national events became into being. Equally it became important to recognise anniversaries relating to religious and cultural beliefs.

Soon, the party animals that we are, needed more reasons to mark occasions and celebrate. Consequently births, engagements, marriages and deaths started to become a focus for anniversaries. Probably the biggest change arose when individual marriage ceremonies started. Whilst the best available evidence indicates that the first organised marriage ceremony was about 4,350 years ago, not that too far distant really, they didn’t have much then to do with love or religion. It was a case of organising the tribe into a social structure. However since this date the trend was started. Weddings had become one of the social calendar’s most important occasions to show off a family’s importance within society. Forget a wedding anniversary and you were, and still are, in BIG trouble.

Anniversaries, of any type, also provide an opportunity to reflect on what has past and what we hope for the future. They invariably stir memories for us, good or bad, touching our emotions. This is why TV schedulers adjust their programme schedules to coincide with anniversaries because generally it ups their ratings.  Anniversaries take on a different slant within the work environment as it usually means an employment contract is up for assessment or renewal. Naturally if you want to ask your boss a favour, choose a date on which they are celebrating an upbeat anniversary and not a sad one.

So where does this leave us with Lighthouse magazine? Well no doubt the staff will be reflecting on how your CSS corporate publication has grown and developed in style, since its inception. They will also be taking into account your views, which have been expressed to them over the years. Successful magazines are never static in their format because, in order to appeal to their readership, they have to reflect your needs and aspirations. These are forever changing and it’s this impetus which drives us all forward. If Lighthouse is allowed a short blow of their trumpet, the perceived response is that it has been a success. So in the spirit of anniversaries – using the traditional gifts – they may be allowed to drink a toast held in wooden cups whilst using a silver knife to cut some sandwiches.  Enjoy!!

January, 2015

Euphemistically Speaking Have A Good One !

Well here we are having no doubt enjoyed unwrapping our seasonal presents. Whilst it is often said, when it comes to giving gifts, it is the thought that counts equally it is the conversation that the gift triggers that matters just as much. I recall a hospital patient, upon receiving several large boxes of chocolates, saying to her visitor: – “Oh you shouldn’t have spent your money on all of these for me”. But this was not the real meaning of her words. What she actually meant was: – “It makes me happy that you have done this”.  This difference in what we sayand what we really mean is euphemism in action!

The word euphemism originated from the Greek word “euphemia” meaning “the use of words of good omen.”Their use occurs in all languages but English is reputed to take the prize, as world champions, for using them the most. Whilst all languages have a plethora of abrupt short terms that emphasise big points, so as to make their meaning clear, it is sometimes preferable to soften the impact with a euphemism. Replacing possibly upsetting terms with a euphemism is generally considered to be polite.  For example the western world’s yearning for bodily perfection and longevity gives rise to, ‘cuddly’ really meaning ‘fat’ and ‘follically challenged’ meaning ‘bald’. You no doubt will agree that these terms sound more polite.

English is particularly difficult to understand,when it comes to the use of euphemisms, as the real meaning can change according to the pitch, speed and inflection of the spoken words. The late English novelist, George Orwell is quoted as saying that euphemisms can be sneaky and coercive.  A ‘major problem’ seems less alarming when it is called a ‘challenging issue’.

In politics, politically correct euphemisms now rule the roost and have become pervasive.  Instead of using, ‘good or bad’, politicians have replaced them with ‘appropriate or inappropriate’. They sound better don’t they?

Euphemisms are so firmly established in British speech that foreigners, even those who speak fluent English, may miss the true meaning.  Here are two of my favourite examples:-

When the British say: -“With the greatest respect”.
What is understood: – “Apologising for having a different opinion”.
What is meant: – “You are mistaken and being somewhat stupid”.
When the British say: – “I will keep it in mind”.
What is understood: – “They will probably do this”.
What is meant: – “I will almost certainly ignore this”.

There are so many examples in all areas of life and in all languages, but a particular saying at this time of year is: “It’s just what I always wanted”. In euphemistic circles this phrase is as hollow as any that was ever uttered by Charles Dickens’ Scrooge.  Funnily enough London has been namedas the capital of unwanted Christmas presents. New Year sees the pages of UK eBay full of unused and unwanted presents, being sold-on as second-hand bargains.

Realistically languages without euphemisms would be much more honest but at the same time they would be more brutal and upsetting.  Perhaps this New Year you might try getting through a whole day without using any euphemisms in your conversation. The results will undoubtedly surprise you. It simply isn’t that easy.

Fortunately there is an English phrase that, no matter how hard you try to say it differently, still keeps its real meaning.“Have a good one”, means exactly what it says. So to all our Lighthouse Kaleidoscope readers may we say to you, with totally no euphemisms implied or meant … “New Year 2015 – have a good one!”

November, 2014

Sledging is not Just for Children…

When I was a youngster I spent many happy hours, with my friends, building a sledge out of bits of wood. Somehow we managed to fly down slops, in summer sledging over short grass and in winter across firm snow, without breaking our necks! However, in recent years,‘sledging’ has gained greater prominence with cricket aficionados.This term apparently originated in the 60’s when Australian bowler Grahame Corling wasserenadedby some players singing ‘When a man loves a woman’- at that time a hit by USA soul singer Percy Sledge.  It was attempt to taunt Corling so as to distract him from focusing on his play. Since then this practice, of trying to weaken an opponent’s concentration, has taken on the surname of Percy Sledge by being called ‘sledging’. Other sports have methods of distracting a competitor’s attention but the technique in cricket is unique. To understand thisit is necessary to explore cricket’s history. Despite the apparent recent popularity of sledging, the practice of witty banter between players is as old as cricket itself. Therein lies the difference between cricket and other sports. Ever since John McEnroe’s infamous outburst, on the tennis courts in Stockholm in 1984, the nature of goading in sport has risen to a level at which no genuine cricket fan would approve. The reason for this is based in cricket’s past.  The first recorded cricket match took place in Kent, England in 1646. The game quickly became popular with the first ‘laws of cricket’ being established in 1744. The thrust of them focused on “gentlemen” playing the game. Subsequently conduct, on and off the pitch, required that all participants, players and spectators, behaved in an acceptable gentlemanly manner. Honour and integrity were at the forefront of play. A player never argued with the umpire. If you were given out – you walked! Generations of UK schoolboys had it drummed into them that,even if you felt you had been wrongly dismissed, you did not argue with the umpire’s decision. It probably made-up for all the times you should have given out and weren’t! Accordingly gentlemanly conduct ruled supreme. There is now an on-going debate, in the cricketing world, as to what constitutes poor sportsmanship or good humoured banter. Anything which descends to abuse is unacceptable. This is not what sledging is all about as it should never cross the sportsmanship line. Sledging should be kept to humorous, sometimes slightly off the wall remarks and clever verbal attempts in order to distract an opponent.

Sledging has always been a part of cricket as even the legendary W G Grace did it. Grace’s determination to stand his ground would have made Sunil Gavaskar proud. When a ball knocked off one of his bails Grace replaced it and told the umpire that it was the wind which took the bail off. The umpire replied, “Indeed Dr. Grace and let us hope the wind helps you on your journey back to the pavilion”. Grace walked with good humour.

Interestingly it is usually accepted that Indian cricketers, unlike the Aussies who love it, don’tsledge very much.  There is one notable occasion, when the tables were turned and Ravi Shastri sledged Mike Whitney who was the Australian 12th man. Trying to snatch a single run Whitney shouted, “If you leave the crease I’ll break your blinking head”. Shastri quickly retorted, “If you could bat as well as you can talk, you wouldn’t be the blinking 12th man”.  You do, of course, have my permission to assume that the language used was slightly more colourful!

I always prefer and chuckle at the short, sharp retorts. This is why I choose, as a favourite, one from‘Fiery Fred’ Trueman probably the most revered English bowler. As an Australian batsman was walking onto the field, he opened the gate and before he could shut it, Trueman shouted, “Don’t bother shutting it son, you won’t be here long enough”.

Cricket remains a game where many of us still hope our children are taught that it is not winning that counts the most.  Rather it is playing a sportsman-like match which matters more. An extract from a poem by former UK Prime Minister John Major, an ardent cricket enthusiast, sums up this cricketing ethos. It was written as a tribute to England test cricketer, Colin Cowdrey, who was born in Bangalore.

“The mellow sound of bat on ball,
The wherewithal to enthrall,
The master with a Corinthian touch,
To whom victory mattered, but not that much”.

Hopefully, with this in mind, you will agree that sledging should remain as witty banter that enhances the traditions of the cricketing spirit.

September, 2014

Emotional Flying Club

It’s jokingly said some airlines have become so focused on getting more money from passengers, using add-ons to the basic fare that soon we’ll be charged for emotional baggage. This idea might make you chuckle but the chances are your flying routine follows an excitable pattern. The somewhat unbelievable concept of being enclosed in a pressurised metal tube, flying 40,000ft above the earth, hurtling along at 500 miles an hour triggers all sorts of emotions. This usually means that our flying routine, that others make look so easy-going, triggers lots of emotion. But we are not as alone as we think. If your friends do any of the following, they are with you in: – “The Emotional Flying Club”. They are just better at hiding their membership card!

Before you even arrive at the airport you start worrying about how long it takes to get there. Do you doubly make sure you get up in time, for that early morning departure, and don’t oversleep? Go on, admit it, we’ve all set more than one alarm clock and also booked an alarm call. You have done the airport journey many times before. It only takes 30mins or is it 50mins? Well, let’s say an hour to be sure eh? On the way, and at the first of hint of any hold-ups we start thinking, “Will you get out of the way?” wondering why all the worse drivers are on the road at once. Arriving at the airport we are amazed at how the journey took such a short time. We have arrived with hours to spare. However it is an “airport travel” memory block, because next time we will have completely forgotten this and go through all the emotional panic again.

Of course, we now start double-checking if we have got all our passports and tickets. No chance of remembering where the passports were hidden for safety. Everyone in our party starts looking and things become more confused. Eventually the passports appear, as if by magic. We were so sure that the luggage was underweight but, as we get nearer the baggage drop, we become convinced that it must weigh at least 25kg and will be rejected for being overweight. Suddenly the security questions take on a new meaning. “Yes, no one could have interfered with my bags”. “No, I am not carrying anything for anyone else”. Easy answers, but why is it we try to avoid feeling and looking guilty? When it comes to security clearance, even though we are so organised, we worry if all liquids and gels are in the plastic see-through bag. On heck, I’ve not left that spray in the carry-on case have I? It goes without saying, that whichever security queue you join, the others will be quicker. Naturally we get annoyed at passengers who leave it, until the very last moment, to start removing belts, watches, mobiles and laptops. Admit it you look-on, with anticipation, as your case travels through X-Ray. Will it make it OK? As for walking through the security arch yourself – whoops, breathe again as no alarm sounded. If you have ever become annoyed with the others repacking their belongings so slowly, whilst you are ready to move on, then your emotions are certainly rising in the emotional baggage count. Now all you have to do is to make sure you don’t miss your flight and never leave your baggage unattended. Sounds easy – forget it!

Even if you are in a lounge, no flight ever seems to be shown on the screen when you are checking. No matter how many times you look, the boarding gate seems to appear just when you weren’t looking. If you find yourself late, your flight will be departing from the farthest gate possible from where you are. Have you ever boarded a flight that leaves from Gate 1? No, neither as anyone else! As to you having some luck, if you are allocated a middle seat, you can easily spot which passengers will be sitting either side of you. The two largest! If you are travelling on business, no matter what cabin class, the crying baby will be seated nearest to you. Another emotional moment, just as you are about to sit down, consider this conundrum. Why is it that, when there is less carry-on luggage space available, the more carry-on luggage the passengers will bring aboard? You end up having to stow your bags nowhere near your seat! By now, you’ll have realised that this article only touches on some emotional triggers. There are so many more, that it’s no wonder we all have enough experience to join the Emotional Flying Club.

So come on, admit and apply for membership. As a nervous elderly lady said to a pilot, “I’ve never flown before; you will land me safely down, won’t you?” “Well ma’am,” said the pilot, “I’ve never left anyone up there yet!” I bet this senior first-time flyer was already a bona fide Emotional Flying Club member! Happy travels………

May, 2014

Is it “Happy Handshake Day”?

It was a news item about National Handshake Day, being held in various parts of the world on 27th June, which prompted this Kaleidoscope article. No doubt we have all been brought up to be aware of the significanceof our handshakes. However, if like me, you thought handshakes are important then you will probably find it interesting to learn that I am beginning to have reservations. The deeper I researched the concept the more I became convinced that, when it really matters, trying to assess something from a handshake may well be ill-conceived.

The idea of National Handshake Day is to celebrate the most common greeting used between two people. It is believed that handshakes originated, in the western world, more than two thousand years ago. This is because as giving a handshake meant that the participants were holding no weapons, it was seen as a gesture of peace. Today, when meeting or leaving, it is viewed as an expression of goodwill, thanks and maybe congratulations. As with many things, which relate to our body language, expressions and their meaning, the physiologists and behavioural analysers have written an extraordinary amount about what different types of handshakes convey and imply. Many believe that they reveal something about the characters of the hand shaker. Simply put, a firm handshake reflects a confident person whereas a weak handshake a shy personality. But if we have all practised what to do to impress people, when we meet them, doesn’t this defeat the object of believing what different handshakes mean – hence my reservations? A good communicator will know what is expected and similarly will a cunning trickster. So it all really boils down to us understanding what the different handshakes emotionally emanates and try to avoid the ones that put us in a poor light. Here are some tips for a good handshake.

Whatever you do, never offer a handshake without some oral introduction. Extending your hand should be part of your introduction because without any vocal greeting you will appear nervous or somewhat aggressive. A business handshake should be brief just like a “sound bite” so holding on shaking for longer than three seconds or so is a “no-no”, unless you are already good friends with your business associate. Shake from your elbow and not from your shoulder. You do not want to risk jolting the arm of the other person or appear overbearing. In a similar manner do not use a forceful grip, not least because your greeting should be a friendly and respectful gesture and not a show of your physical strength. Bear in mind the “no-no” handshakes, the names of which are self-explanatory:-

Lady Fingers – Sometime in genteel social circles offering your fingers to a lady is deemed courteous but in business circles you are deemed to be equal not a “lady”.

Fish Hand – This is a limp handshake which conveys an impression of someone lacking confidence. You should return the other person’s grip but remember it is not a power struggle even if the other person thinks it is.

Sweaty Hands – Usually another’s sweaty hands mean a sign of nerves but do not embarrass them by immediately wiping your own. Do it discreetly afterwards.

Two Hands – The delight of many politicians who often fail to realise that this show of friendship falls flat when used with people we barely know. In business stick to using one hand unless you really “really” know the person you are greeting as also a very good friend.

When it comes to ending a handshake, remember after 3 – 4 seconds and no more than 2 – 3 pumps, in order to avoid any awkward moments, end your handshake before the oral introductory exchange finishes.

This leaves us with “National Handshake Day”. What can we do to take part, if we wish, on 27th June? Well it is very simple. If you usually arrive at work and greet others with a casual wave or “Hi” then choose the 27th June to be a day when you give them a nice firm handshake instead. Tweeting, blogging and posting things on-line seems to be overlooking the importance of “face to face” meetings and greetings. So go – post some picture of your handshakes! Who knows what response you may generate and no doubt it will all be fun. However as I have started to have reservations about the importance of the interpretation of handshakes, I’ll leave you with these two quotations to consider.

“The most important things in the first few seconds of a meeting are basically, a firm handshake and a smile, good eye contact and really paying attention”. – Pat Schaumann, 1950 onwards, American author “Guide to Successful Destination Management”.

“Experience teaches you that the man who looks you straight in the eye, particularly if he adds a firm handshake, is hiding something”. – Clinton Fadiman, 1904 – 1999, American author, editor, radio and television personality.

If you can work out when each quotation has the greater relevance, I will only need to wish you a “Happy Handshake Day”.

March, 2014

Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

It’s forty-eight years ago that the film “High Society” introduced Frank Sinatra and Celeste Holm, as Mike and Liz,  singing “Who wants to be a millionaire”. The attractions of having a livery chauffeur, a gigantic yacht, a country estate and wallowing in champagne were lost on them. All they wanted was each other. This highlights an important consideration if you hanker at being a millionaire. If you are not going to be happy – forget it!

If you don’t believe this “Happiness Rule” a look at the some worldwide lottery winners will change your mind. Visit a certain McDonald’s restaurant in Cardiff, Wales, UK and you may be served by a guy who became a lottery millionaire some18 months ago.  Luke Pittard celebrated, like many others, buying a new home, having a big expensive wedding and luxury honeymoon. However he realised that he missed his mates and enjoyed flipping burgers, at the place where he also met his future wife, so he’s back there working.

Janite Lee is an immigrant into the USA, from South Korea. Janite won $18 million in 1993 but only eight years later she was filing for bankruptcy. Her generosity was misplaced and the money soon vanished leaving her back where she started. Apparently she felt more relieved to be rid of the pressure of having money.

If we accept that your happiness in being a millionaire is a key requisite what comes next? Well here are some myths to dispel by confirming three facts.

1)     Most millionaires are self-made.
2)     Most millionaires have stopped short of obtaining the highest university qualifications.
3)     Most millionaires do not know a lot about investing in stocks and shares.

Right so YOU want to be a millionaire? Get ready to step outside your comfort zone and start believing in yourself. “Possibilities” and “If only” must vanish from your thought process. It is time to “Get real”. You need to be tenacious, focused and determined. Most millionaires live cost effectively and this means avoiding unnecessary expenditure. Nice things are to be enjoyed but not at the expense of spending overtaking your rate of saving. Living beneath your means is an important part of accumulating wealth. The majority of millionaires, in comparison to what their companies became, had frugal start-ups. There isn’t much point looking the part, if it costs an arm and a leg and you haven’t the customers to pay for it! A helpful idea is to find a mentor who has been there, done that and seek their advice. Consequently, “If you want to be a millionaire surround yourself with millionaires”.

When fourteen year old Suhas Gopinath started Global Inc ten years ago from a cyber café in Bangalore, the capital city of the Indian state of Karnatake, he was not aware that he had become the youngest CEO in the world. He also didn’t realise that he was demonstrating all the attributes of becoming a millionaire. Focused, stepping outside the usual comfort zone for anyone of a similar age, he was frugal with his start-up and still lives in the family home well within his means. Today, Global is a multi-million dollar company with offices throughout the world.

When he needed a computer, but his family couldn’t afford one, he spotted that his local Internet Café was closed in the afternoon. He offered to open and run the shop in return for being allowed to browse the net for free. It turned out to be his first great business deal. If you want some inspiration about becoming a millionaire I recommend reading about Susha’s road to success.

However never believe that being a millionaire will not change your thinking. I love the story of the self-made millionaire who told his church how, many years before; he left the same church penniless having given his last dollar in the collection. He said that having done it released him from all his worries. Soon afterwards good fortune blessed him and he became a millionaire. Everyone applauded as he sat down in the congregation, when an old lady sitting nearby turned to him and said, “I dare you to do it again!”

So go on…I dare you….to become a millionaire!

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