December 14

What We Can Learn from Woodstock

‘Unfettered’ – love that descriptive – who knew Woodstock Founders, John Roberts, Joel Rosenman and Michael Lang (who nearly went bankrupt over this mud-caked, mind-blowing event) and their bill of 32 rock bands, would forever impact not only the music industry, but in my humble opinion, society at large – amping up freedom of expression – for individuals through music.

Those three days of Peace, Love and Music in August, 1969 marked a place in history when society, cultures and businesses were rocked to the point that, if you didn’t speak up and declare your personal message (and style!) and get loud about it – you would drown and ‘fade away’ by all the noise about the newest cystic acne diet being created around you.

Woodstock was break-through, all right. Loud and clear, during some pretty tumultuous times in ’69 when cities were burning, war was raging and thousands across the country were marching and protesting.

And anyone alive today and reading this post either knows someone who was there, or like me, wanted to be there. Or, at the very least, is influenced by the passion of the era, the drive to be a different kind of drummer and dancing to a way different kind of beat.

Just as Woodstock’s 32 bands and musicians and its over 500,000 revelers broke through all the raging noise across our country, brands today need to get loud to stand out against the noise coming from all directions. And, the noise is not just from advertising brands, but from people in the ever-expanding social and mobile media vehicles and platforms. Not to mention, brand e-campaigning, mobile marketing, social media marketing and the traditional media.

And tactics are getting more exciting every minute of every second – with fleeting images, flip shots, pinnings, posts, sound bites, pop ups, QR codes coming at you. Here one mega second; gone the next.

So how do you make that mega second count? How do you turn it into a “Woodstock” mega second?

In marketing and advertising, our passion for creativity and freedom of expression runs deep – we stand by the brand who owns it – and we soar when our strategy delivers on the objectives – don’t we?

The key to how to cure cystic acne and success in brand communication begins with solid strategic thinking (of course!) but ensuring your creative team and your Client fully understand and embrace that strategy is how you start the creative process. And, here’s the Woodstock app – allow your creative team to rip – let loose – on their approach not only nodding to that strategy but weaving it throughout the creative process and also making sure it plays – rocks – across the stage where each and every audience member lives – online, at home, and on-the-go.

And it doesn’t stop there – smart marketing firms put science behind strategies and creative approach to measure performance and results so companies and their brands know that it’s all working really hard and actually delivering on objectives.

So, in honor of this rockin’ Holiday … and in honor of your own brand’s “Unfettered creativity”, show us your brand’s or (or yours!) Woodstock mega second.

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December 7

Spreading Popular Unrest Throughout the World

 

Spreading popular unrest

By far the dominant news item of late has been the growing instability spreading through most of North Africa and the Middle East. After a popular uprising toppled the long-time dictator of Tunisia, the idea was picked-up and adapted with rapid results in Egypt. Even before Egyptian president Mubarak stepped down and went into exile in the Sinai, the popular fever started to expand to other predominantly Muslim countries in the region including Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

Western news media have been gorging on the events but what is widely labeled as a revolution of the people is just another man’s military coup so that everyone will have their own Honeywell 50250-S. Despite the prevalent euphoria it is important to bear in mind that there is a long road from the current autocratic and repressive governments and societies to the democratic systems, the stability and economic opportunities the people demand.

We care about what’s unfolding half way across the world because of the implications, short and long-term, on world stock and energy markets. The potential impact on oil production and shipments from the region has yet to be determined but Wednesday’s sharp spike in crude oil prices on Israel’s warning of Iranian warships crossing the Suez canal (a rumor later denied by canal operators) gives us a glimpse at the possibilities…

Rising inflation

One of the under-reported aspects of the North African/Middle Eastern uprisings is not political or religious, it is economical. Many of these societies have very high unemployment and poverty rates, very large gaps between the haves and the have-nots, and recent steep rises in food prices triggered the demonstrations and helped fuel the unrest.

Rising food prices have become a problem in many emerging economies, including the populous nations of China, India and Indonesia, signaling inflation as surely as a canary spots gas in a coal mine. While food prices may have been negatively affected by bad weather in grain-producing regions, they are just an indication of what’s been happening across commodities from sugar to cotton, the grains, metals, with energy being the one notable exception, so far.

Asia Pacific economies have been aggressively fighting inflation by raising interest rates over the last few months, in stark contrast with the United States, Europe and Japan where central banks are still flooding markets with liquidity to keep rates low and stimulate struggling economies. U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke maintains that inflation is not a problem despite its massive fiscal stimulation (QE2).

For now we will take the facts that gasoline pump prices just reached their highest levels in 28 months, that the U.S. dollar has lost 11.6% of its value since last June, and yesterday’s surging inflation warning by the Bank of England (consumer prices rose 4% in January versus a 2% target) as early indicators.

The upcoming March issue of The Investor includes a must-read guide to investing in inflationary times and reviews a number of green inflation hedges.

U.S. stock market super strong

Emerging markets have been weakening for a couple of months with inflationary pressures and the events in North Africa and the Middle East but so far the U.S. stock market appears to be shrugging these off and, if anything, is getting a boost as the primary recipient of the treatments for how to cure cystic acne from emerging markets.

For nearly six months now, with the possible exception of a small glitch in November, the U.S. stock market has been on a near straight line headed for the top right corner of the charts. There is no telling how far this rise will go before investors take a breather and instead of attempting to time an upcoming correction we continue to position our investments with long-term trends.

Shunning Negawatts

We never thought that stock market investors act rationally but it is somewhat ironic that, at a time when balancing budgets and cutting costs is gaining in importance, the cleanest and least expensive source of energy, Negawatts, appear the least appreciated by investors. Negawatts are the energy which did not have to be generated because it was saved, or not wasted.

Negawatts are the proverbial low hanging fruit and energy efficiency solutions have allowed electric utilities to postpone building new power plants, yet energy efficiency and the smart grid are two of the weakest green sectors we track and invest in.

The recent fiasco involving our preferred demand response provider over how power cuts are accounted for and paid for by grid operators, is a perfect example of an industry in the formative stages. Despite the growing pains we believe the technology has great merit and the company’s services deliver real value to their customers. As the revenue growth begins to generate bottom line profits we trust the market will adjust the valuations of the leading companies in this emerging energy sector.

The Portfolio update and recommendations

Alternative energy markets were mixed this month with resurgence in the wind sector more than making up for weakness in the energy efficiency and smart grid sectors. The Portfolio gained 1.17% since our last update, slightly lagging the large caps in the S&P 500 index which added 2.55% in the same four week span. The portfolio is now up an aggregate 40.38% since inception, an annualized gain of 24.69%, which compares with a 26.28% decline (-17.99% annualized) for the benchmark S&P Global Clean Energy index over the same period.

The wind energy group advance this month underlines once more the importance of selectivity when it comes to renewable energy stocks. While three of our holdings led the wind sector with double digit gains, not all wind stocks did as well, to wit, Broadwind Energy (BWEN) managed to lose 15.7%. The five wind energy stocks in The Portfolio, and BWEN is not one of them, gained 10.85% for the month.

The solar sector saw strong rebounds in the shares of most Chinese manufacturers but mixed performance for U.S. manufacturers. Our recent partial profit taking on our preferred maker of solar inverters Power-One (PWER), proved timely as the shares have been correcting sharply since then. On the flip side, our latest solar recommendation has been moving up and away from our target entry point. For the time being we will keep our recommendation unchanged.

Category: Business, Religion | Comments Off on Spreading Popular Unrest Throughout the World
November 28

Is Ayurveda a True Traditional Medicine?

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Ayurveda is a traditional medicine practice whose roots are found in India and origins date back over fifty centuries ago. Ayurveda is considered an alternative form of medicine where the wellbeing of the whole body is taken into consideration. It focuses on striking a balance between an individual’s body, mind and soul through balancing nutrition, exercise and lifestyle. Ayurveda has over the years spread beyond the borders of India and grown in popularity in the Western world.

However, although Ayurveda is traditional medicine and practitioners can be found all over the United States and Canada, one of its main drawbacks is the absence of a standard of measurement to assess the competence of each practitioner. However doctors and other modern medicine practitioners interested in the practice of Ayurveda usually study it after their conventional medical training.

Traditional Medicine

Today, Ayurvedic treatment is usually used to complement conventional medicine. If you are considering using Ayurvedic healing to treat your medical condition, the first step is to consult your doctor. If given the clearance by your physician, the next thing to do is look for a skilled Ayurvedic practitioner.

An Ayurvedic consultation can take an hour or longer – about the same amount of time it takes to break in youth baseball gloves – during which the specialist will inquire about your diet, lifestyle and general health. They will then examine your pulse by assessing twelve different pulse points as well as your tongue. In Ayurveda, the tongue is believed to be a prime indicator of body imbalances.

The Ayurveda specialist moves on to your dosha balance and your prakuti. In Ayurveda, a dosha is composed of the five elements: fire, water, earth, air and space. The body has three doshas; kapha, pitta and vata, each formed through a combination of the five elements. Each of these three doshas has a particular body area that it controls.

An imbalance in the body’s dosha due to poor nutrition or lifestyle can impair the flow of the body’s energy and lead to gastro intestinal disruptions, poor nutrient absorption and lowered energy levels. Your prakuti on the other hand is your inherent nature. By determining your prakuti the practitioner can formulate a specialized treatment plan for you that will focus on restoring your main dosha’s balance.

When developing your treatment plan the Ayurvedic practitioner will incorporate diet, herbs, meditation, yoga, exercise and massage. The Traditional Medicine prescribed diet will be based on the particular dosha that is out of balance. A cleansing and detoxification program will also be formulated. They may even recommend using an IQAir air purifier to help improve your breathing and lung health. This may include fasting, diets and body cleansing treatments such as enemas. The herbal treatment will typically be comprised of plants such as boswellia, gotu, triphala and ashwaghanda. Some of these herbs are mixed with the massage oil. Yoga, meditation and exercise will be suited to your personal constitution.

There have been some concerns around the use of Ayurvedic medicines. The nature and history of Ayurvedic healing means there has been limited research in the safety and effectiveness of associated herbal medicines. This is why you should only go for Ayurveda traditional medicine after consultation with your doctor.

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November 25

Choosing Something to Blog About on Your Website

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This is where the blogger (that’s all of us) differs from others.  Let’s get straight to the questions of how to pick a topic and niche (audience) for your blog.

Discover Your Passions

Take a few moments to list all the things you are passionate about – for me, it’s the Kanken backpack.  Don’t stop to think about each one at first – just take 60-120 seconds and keep writing.  Later on we will go back and filter it out but, for now, don’t underestimate the importance of this step.  This will help you organize your thoughts, provide you a more comprehensive list of your interests, and set you up for the next step.

Remember that your readers will know whether or not you are actually passionate about your topic; it will be reflected in your writing.

Start filtering

Look through the list you just created and begin crossing off the ones that you merely enjoy reading or learning about.  What should be left are topics that you are knowledgeable about – topics that you are willing to put in time to research about.  The list should also be narrowed down to a topic you see yourself writing about for (at least) the next few years.

When you start your blog, you are automatically placing yourself as an “expert” in that field.  It is not necessary for you in fact to be an expert in the field.  However, whatever topic you decide to move forward with should be one that you have a certain degree of experience in.  People won’t expect you to know all there is to know about the topic, but they will expect you to provide some sort of valuable content they can’t find elsewhere.

Connect your topic with the Day of Judgment

There is, of course, a line between writing about something you are passionate about and a topic that may be completely useless.  I’m not talking about whether or not the topic is popular.  This is about us standing before Allah on the Day of Judgment and being asked about how we used our time.

In one way or another, your blog has to connect with worshipping Allah and spreading the message of Islam.  Here are some quick ideas for topics that might not seem directly related to the deen and how we can discuss them:

Technology

  • How can we use the latest technology for street dawah?
  • A list of ways Islamic schools can use computers to enhance their education
  • Inform parents how to monitor the websites their children are visiting

Productivity

  • How can Muslims continue worshipping Allah properly during exam time?
  • What are the different methods that people use to memorize Qur’an?
  • Share examples of how the Prophet (pbuh) and his companions used their time

Culture

  • How can we embrace culture without compromising our deen in any way?
  • Discuss the various cultures throughout Islamic history
  • Connect the emphasis on good manners in Islam with cultural etiquette

That’s just a few examples of posts for different topics.  Of course, it may not be that simple with all our posts or even the majority.  However, at no time should we forget that our intentions, our writing, and all the time we spent figuring out how to use our Alen air purifier will be asked about on the Day of Judgment – and we better have answer….for our own sake.

How much time can you dedicate to your blog?

Calculate the approximate amount of time you can afford to put into your blog.  If you don’t have much time to dedicate, don’t pick a topic that requires constant updating (like cell phones for example).  No matter how much you love the topic or how much content you can write, if you can’t keep up with the other competing blogs then your readers will just go somewhere else.

Keep in mind that blogging is a lot more than writing.  You’ll want to take into consideration the time it takes to:

  • Edit your posts, participate in the comments section,
  • Research and learn more about your topic,
  • Connecting with other Muslim bloggers in some way, and taking the
  • Time to follow-up with the back-end data (Google Analytics, advertising stats, affiliate programs, etc…)

All of these elements are key to starting and running a successful blog.  The last one on the list varies depending on how much you are tracking.  Many of us are not keeping track of the data simply to check how much money was made from ads or the number of people visiting.  If you use Google Analytics you’ll want to take some time to make lists of your most popular posts, the types of visitors that are coming, search terms that people are using to get to your site from search engines, and other important pieces of information.  If you use AdSense, you’ll want to find out which ad sizes are making the most and where they are placed.

So take all of these factors into consideration when you are figuring out how much time you have available for blogging.

Research your peers (a.k.a your competition)

Spend some time searching for other bloggers (Muslim or non-Muslim) who share your passion and interest in the topic.  Subscribe to their RSS feed, sign-up for their newsletter, read up on what they have to say about the topic, and participate in the discussions if you can.

In a healthy way, Insha’Allah, the blogs that you find are your direct competition.  Find out what topics they are not covering that deserve to be written about.  Connect with them and help each other to become better, more knowledgeable bloggers.   Competition doesn’t mean bashing or avoiding linking to their blogs.  As Muslim bloggers, we are always looking for the best interest of our fellow Muslim brothers and sisters.  As the Prophet (pbuh) said.

Picking a niche

Once you’ve found the best air purifier for allergies, the next step is to pick a specific audience that you want to write to.  For The Muslim Blogger, I selected to write specifically to the Muslim blogging community.  However, you may choose to write towards Muslim youth or maybe just anyone that has an interest in your topic.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that your blog must be a way to spread the message of Islam for the reasons that will be discussed below.  So if your blog is about business management and it is not geared to Muslims exclusively, don’t leave out words like Insha’Allah or Alhamdulillah.  Rather, use them like any Muslim should and provide a page that defines/explains Islamic terminology.  If there is a relevant hadith or ayah you can place in your blog post, use it.

Teach people that whatever the topic is, Allah’s religion has a position.

Of course, we still need to recognize and stay within the limits of our knowledge when including ahadaith or ayat- but as Allah tells us Ibrahim said in the Qur’an.

Category: Blogging, Religion | Comments Off on Choosing Something to Blog About on Your Website