The Advantages of Attending a Fashion Show

For some people a great time means having a party, then for others it is just being themselves and watching the latest movie or reading a book that they like. Even so, for others, there specific idea of having fun is going to a fashion show.

It is often found to be true that you might find yourself ending up being a fashion show addict after just one show. A fashion show is not just simply numerous hours of sitting and watching attractive woman walk down the catwalk in extreme outfits. It is a great deal more fun than that. You even have the opportunity to get a lot out of the show as well.

Latest News In Fashion

Clearly, if you go to a fashion show, you will get to view the latest fashions. This can assist you, even if you’re not a fashion sellout. This can help you out by giving you an idea of what particular fashion is in at the moment. Even though you may not be particularly interested in what everyone is wearing, you might be inspired to update your wardrobe just a little bit more or find some idea for a fashion that is uniquely your own.

Additionally, a fashion show can provide good entertainment when you find that the latest fashion is, well, hideous. How much fun do you think it will be to have a good laugh with your family and friends about some model who appeared wearing a lion mask and a tail when you get back home?

Goodie Bags

Even though not all fashion shows provide them, some fashion shows give out goodie bags to their attendees. Who doesn’t like free stuff? Even though you may not like all the things that goodie bag has in it, you can re-gifted at some later point to someone who you know will like it. The bigger and better the name of the fashion show, the bigger and better the goodie bag they will hand out.

Meeting People

Fashion shows typically end up being excellent social gatherings. First off, you might be able to make some new friends. You might realize that your new best friend was sitting right next to you at a fashion show admiring the same male or female model (as the case may be) that you were. Even better than that, you might meet some important people.

I am not just speaking about the beautiful models, fashion designers, or guest appearances by celebrities. I am referring to important people who could quite possibly shape your career. For example, if you’ve been trying to break into journalism. There might just be a newspaper editor reporting at the show. Making a social connection with them could give you a jump start into a possible job.

Going to a fashion show might not be your idea of fun or your ‘cup of tea’ as the saying goes. Nevertheless, everyone should at least go to one. You might find a new trend you would like to try out, meet someone that is life-changing, or even realized your newfound love of fashion.

If you end up not enjoying the show, you can always head back home and vow to never go to one again. Regardless, you’ll have some type of funny story to share later in life and now you will not be able to say that you have never seen one before.

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10 Unique Ideas for Garden Gifts

Gardens are a joy, indeed. The fresh air, beautiful flowers and rich foliage provide for a relaxing ambience right in one’s backyard, not to mention that you can get many ideas for unique garden gifts from watching the area alone. Here are a few of these ideas.

Outdoor Weather Instruments

Nowadays, garden instruments do not just serve utilitarian purposes as these can also serve add delightful decorative elements to an equally delightful place. You can choose from many types of garden instruments including a thermometer tile, a digital rain gauge and a weather vane.

Garden Statues

There’s something about garden statues that add the finishing touches to gardens and other outdoor spaces. You can choose to give statues of Greek gods, angels and fairytale creatures, among others. Just be sure that the statues given go well with the theme of the recipient’s garden.

Garden Tools

What better way to express your loving care for a gardener than a complete set of garden tools? The set should contain tools like trowel, mini-rake and shears, to name a few. You can even choose from many types of garden tools set for specific gardening activities like planting flowers, herbs and trees.

Lighting Fixtures

The strategic placement of lights in the garden adds the right ambience while also adding another layer of security to the garden. Lighting fixtures are then great gift ideas for the avid gardener, said fixtures of which can include lanterns, votives and stakes.

Garden Signs

Your choices in garden signs include humorous and inspirational quotations as well as small garden identification stakes. You may even choose to have the garden sign personalized with the name of your recipient and his favorite sayings about gardening.

Plants and Seeds

Well, of course, don’t forget to give your recipients gift baskets filled with various plants and seeds. This is the best gift you can possibly give simply because it’s the foundation of a great garden.

Bird Feeders

Birds are great natural additions to any garden. With your gift of bird feeders, your gardener-recipient will have the opportunity to attract more birds into his garden and, thus, enjoy the bounties of Mother Nature more.


Yes, there’s nothing like the opportunity to just bask in the beauty of one’s garden while lying on a hammock, possibly reading a book. Your recipient will love how a hammock expresses your wish for a relaxed life for him.

Fire Pits

When it comes to double purpose in garden gifts, fire pits are on top of the list. Fire pits provide warmth on a cool night while also adding to the relaxed ambience, not to mention that you can cook food in a few of these outdoor appliances.

Bug Control

It cannot be helped that gardens will have its share of bugs and pests. With your gift of bug control items like glass wasp traps, sandalwood mosquito sticks and triple chamber bat house, your recipients’ gardens will be a better place to relax in.

Your choice in these gifts will depend on the personal preferences of your recipients. In the end, it’s almost always the thought and the purpose that counts.

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Sexting Laws and the Digital Age

The majority of sexting laws are merely interpretations of laws that already exist, namely child pornography (where underage sexting takes place), sexual harassment (when the attention is unwanted and/or comes from someone in a position of power, such as an employer), sexual exploitation (where the case involves a direct manipulation of power, as with a child or a therapist), or anti-bullying legislation (where the sexual texts and photos are used to harm an individual). Some places in the United States or its protectorates have developed legislation specific to sexting, but the majority have not; sexting’s greatest legal presence remains as a part of the application of other laws.

When underage sexting first became an issue, minors who were found with sexually explicit photos or videos of other minors were charged with possession of child pornography, while those who sent these media were charged with distribution of child pornography. While this often seems severe, in the early days of establishing sexting laws, many such cases were intended to make examples of offenders and discourage this practice. In other cases, specifically those circumstances whereby students mass-distributed photos of other students, sexting crossed over into the domain of anti-bullying laws, many of which were still being developed during the rapid rise in the popularity of sexting.

State Sexting Laws

Some states, such as South Carolina and Ohio, have created laws that specifically regulate sexting. South Carolina law applies to those between the age of 12 and 18 and defines sexting as a crime worthy of a misdemeanor; those convicted of sexting will be fined (no more than one hundred dollars) and forced to attend an educational program, detailing the dangers and potential legal ramifications of further sexting. Sexting, under this law, is not considered a sexual offense, despite its sexual nature (Vermont has likewise changed the law to exempt sexting from the category of sexual offenses). Ohio simply bans minors from sexting at all. Several other states, such as California, New Jersey, and New York have implemented legislation that relates specifically to educating teens about the dangers of sexting. This can range from the creation of special school programs that discuss sexting and its use in bullying to forced educational classes for offenders and prohibition on the sale of mobile devices unless information about sexting and its dangers is presented at the time of purchase.

While many state governments have focused on education and reducing sentences for sexters so that minors who commit these offenses are not branded sex offenders and forced to register with a database, many other states have simply rewritten local law so that sexting can carry a harsher penalty. States such as Georgia and Pennsylvania have amended their laws so that mobile devices are now addressed as one of the means by which unlawful and inappropriate content can be distributed; this proviso was unnecessary prior to the digital age.

When both sexters are over the age of 18, their sexting practice is most likely not illegal, unless it involves some special circumstances. In such cases, there are no laws that specifically dictate when and how sexting can be used, but the messages themselves can fall under the purview of other, already existent legislation and can be used to demonstrate that a related crime has occurred.

Sexual Exploitation Charges

Several cases have been reported whereby employers or others in a position of power, such as a district attorney, doctor, or therapist, repeatedly sexted to those beneath them or in their care. The sexting may be a solo act or part of a larger abuse; they may imply that accepting these sexts or reciprocating with the abuser is a constituent of the job or treatment, or that the victim’s employment, healthcare, or therapeutic relationship is at risk if he or she does not comply. This kind of behaviour opens the door for sexual exploitation charges.

Sexual exploitation, according to the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNCHR), is “the abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust for sexual purposes” or “forced/coerced sex trade in exchange for material resources, services, and assistance”. In these instances, sexting records may be requested in court or when pressing charges, as evidence of a violation.

Sexual Harassment Case

Likewise, sexting can become an important component of evidence in a sexual harassment case. Sexual harassment is defined by the UNCHR as “any unwelcome, usually repeated and unreciprocated sexual advance, unsolicited sexual attention, sexual innuendo… when it interferes with work, is made a condition of employment, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.” Sexting between coworkers or employers/employees can easily be regarded as sexual harassment, unless both parties are consenting.

While not all sexting laws apply to the exchange of messages between minors, the vast majority do. All laws that refer to sexting exist to protect those who are considered vulnerable in the eyes of the law, so that this activity, which is innocent and fun in the right hands, does not become a tool to harm others.

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Scanning Your External Business Environment

The 2010 IBM Chief Executive Officer Study is generating a lot of chatter in social media channels (hundreds of blog mentions). The comprehensive study covering 33 industries and 60 countries asked CEOs how they are capitalizing on complexity in a more uncertain business climate.Setting strategic direction in a changing external business environmentThe high interest in the study is evidence that leaders are looking harder for strategic solutions for managing in a more volatile business world. Business leaders are more concerned than ever about the external business environment, yet they feel less confident about how to navigate through it. Rigorous external business environment scanning is key to increased competence, and confidence, in finding robust strategic solutions. A typical PEST (political, economic, socio-cultural, technological) analysis, however, seems inadequate in increasingly volatile environments.We used to scan our environment by asking questions based on informed shifts in market dynamics and changes in PEST factors. Today, we have to consider that the goal post may be moved to another field. Realistically, few CEOS are presuming to have as much understanding and control over the external environment as they had before the 2007 market downturn.Bolder questions for a more complex external environmentThe good news is that analytical tools are evolving to put leaders back in control of their strategic approach to the external business environment. Traditional approaches are likely to come up short. In light of the dramatic restructuring of industries and economies, new questions need to be asked when analyzing the external environment from a short- and longer-term horizon. In the former business climate, a firm’s core competence was expected to endure for a lifetime like a destiny assigned by the mythological Fate Lachesis. Today, the ‘what if’ scenarios must be bolder.
· Will my core competence be commoditized? How soon?
· What’s my next core competence?
· What regions will dominate in my core competence?
· What companies/regions will erode my competitive advantages?
· Will this become an outsourced industry? And by whom?
· What will be the most innovative product/company tomorrow?
· What technologies, not yet conceived of, will out innovate me?
· What is the worst-case scenario in terms of capital market receptivity to my industry? What will be my alternatives?New business scanning modelsIn responding to the needs of leaders, it is important to distinguish whether their main concern is the ability to understand the rapidly changing business environment, or the capacity to undertake the appropriate actions to respond to it. Most leaders will argue the former. The evidence shows that leaders are confident that they have the skills and resources to respond to drastic change (this introduces another challenge: over-optimism – watch for an upcoming article on this) and what they really require is a more robustway of scanning their business environment, and keeping up with the changes.The usefulness of external business environment scanning in strategic planning should not be discounted as outdated. It is likely only your model that is outdated. Studies continue to show that a good external business environment scan has significant positive effect on the strategic course of a firm, and ultimately performance; environment scanning models today must include plausible varying scenarios to be adequate for the current complexity.

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Systems Thinking – The Fifth Discipline of Learning Organizations

“The problems we have created in the world today will not be solved by the level of thinking that created them.” – Albert EinsteinAlthough the field of systems thinking had not yet hatched at the time of this quote, it is clear that Einstein already knew about systems thinking, even if he didn’t call it that. He was able to recognize that if we continually approached problems in the same way, we would continue to get the same outcomes. We humans are creatures of habit, and we often find it difficult to recognize patterns of behavior that are counterproductive. Systems thinking offers tools and processes that enable organizations to see patterns and connections, leading to greater productivity.What is a system?According to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition, a system is “a regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole.” The key words in this definition are “interdependent” and “unified whole.” A pile of rocks is not a system because they do not interact with each other, and you do not really change anything by adding to it or taking away from it. However, if you take that pile of rocks and create a stone wall, you now have a system. Adding or removing a stone can create havoc. This stone wall system is more than just the sum of its parts; these stones work together to create something much greater than a pile of rocks.Systems can range from very simple (filling a glass of water) to extremely complex (climate change) and are constantly working to maintain a level of stability. They do so by creating feedback loops using inputs and outputs. To understand systems in greater depth, let’s take a look at a simple system: driving a car. Inputs into this system are the desired destination, actions of the driver, and the driving conditions. The output is the car moving in the desired direction. As we drive, however, we are receiving continual feedback. We may see a small child in a yard ahead, playing with a ball, and we instinctively slow down. It begins to rain, and we turn the headlights and wipers on and lower our speed. We see another car on the entrance ramp of the highway as we approach, make a quick check to the side mirror and behind, and then move into the passing lane. All these inputs influence the system, but because we have a clear goal in mind, we generally tend to stay on track.Organizational systems are more complex than this. There are two distinct sections of an organizational system, the internal system and the external system. The internal system consists of a variety of parts, including the products or services produced, personnel, the materials and tools used to create products or services, the relationships that people have with each other – this list could be endless. The external system is everything outside the organization that influences it: competitors, the economy, the condition of the financial industry, the environment, regulations, the political landscape, and the community, to name a few. Both the internal and external systems are not only interacting within themselves but are also interacting with each other. Observing and understanding these interactions is the crux of systems thinking.What is systems thinking?The discipline of systems thinking evolved from the field of systems dynamics and is both a set of tools and a new way of thinking involving new language. In systems thinking, we look at the whole system rather than trying to break it down into its individual parts; that is, we become expansive in our thinking rather than reductive. By looking at the whole, we are more capable of seeing interrelationships and patterns over time. We also begin to understand that the presenting problem may be symptomatic of deeper issues within the system, and so we start looking for the root causes. In doing so, we move away from assigning blame and focus on the desired outcomes.Systems thinking is proactive and circular in nature, as opposed to linear thinking, which tends to be reactive. There are three key concepts of systems thinking: reinforcing feedback, balancing feedback, and delays. Reinforcing or amplifying feedback loops are what fuel growth or create decline in systems. They either spiral up or down, although they rarely occur in isolation. There are limits both to growth and decline. A simple example of a reinforcing loop is how an organization’s productivity can influence growth which, in turn, influences financial rewards which comes full circle to influence productivity. This loop can move in either a positive direction or a negative direction but ultimately stops at an outer limit.Balancing or stabilizing feedback loops are those that attempt to maintain equilibrium. These systems are goal oriented and will do whatever is necessary to reach or maintain that goal. The previous example of driving a car is a balancing loop because the goal is to reach the desired destination. The driver will do what it takes to reach that destination in a safe and efficient manner. In organizations we are bumping up against a balancing loop when our attempts to make change only bring us back to where we started. We are encountering resistance to change because the existing system is attempting to maintain a particular goal. That goal, however, may not be obvious; we may find we need to uncover the mental models that are keeping that system in place before we have any hope of changing it.Delays are inevitable in any system but are often not recognized. Delays cause instability in systems, and aggressive action to compensate for delays will likely cause organizations to overshoot or undershoot. To illustrate, let’s use the example of a thermostat. These days with energy prices heading through the roof, many of us have developed the habit of setting the thermostat back at night to conserve energy. On those particularly frosty mornings, it is tempting to turn the heat up higher than necessary in the morning, but unlike a stove burner, turning the temperature up higher will not produce more heat. There is a delay from when the heat is turned up to when the room reaches its target temperature. If the heat is set higher than necessary, then the room will become overheated. In reaction to that, we set the heat back to cool the room off, but then the temperature drops too low and we once again set the heat up again. This might go on forever if we weren’t capable of learning from our actions. In systems thinking, it is crucial to develop the patience to weather delays and not to react too quickly to changes in the system.What are the characteristics of systems thinkers?According to The Systems Thinking Playbook, (pp. 3-4), a systems thinker is one who:
Sees the whole picture.
Changes perspectives to see new leverage points in complex systems.
Looks for interdependencies.
Considers how mental models create our futures.
Pays attention and gives voice to the long-term.
“Goes wide” (uses peripheral vision) to see complex cause and effect relationships.
Finds where unanticipated consequences emerge.
Lowers the “water line” to focus on structure, not blame.
Holds the tension of paradox and controversy without trying to resolve it quickly.
Systems thinkers are those who think outside the box. They understand that there are no right answers, only different paths to the same outcomes. They realize that quick fixes will most likely lead right back to where they started from and thus develop patience with the idea that cause and effect are not closely related in time and space. They understand that things may get worse before they get better, but they have learned to take the long view. In doing so, they are able to tap the creative synergy that exists in organizations.How do organizations apply systems thinking?As with the previous four disciplines, there are a variety of ways to implement systems thinking within an organization, and each organization must find what fits well within the organizational culture. However, there are key aspects of systems thinking to consider. Below is one possible approach that includes these key aspects:Events: Begin the practice of systems thinking by telling the story of the current situation. It is important to hear as many perspectives as possible. However, don’t jump to solutions immediately. It may be necessary to provide a quick fix but do so with the understanding that it is a stopgap measure that is not designed for long-term solutions. Meanwhile, explore the nature of the event or problem in greater detail.Patterns of behavior: Track the situation over a period of time. Look for patterns and trends that go below the surface. Go back in history, if you’ve got the data. Those patterns are key indictors for the system.Systemic structure: Look for interrelationships in the patterns and trends you’ve discovered. Look for balancing and reinforcing feedback and identify delays in the system. Uncover the mental models that are driving these patterns.Mental models: Create new mental models to introduce change into the system. Be patient – there will be delays, and things may get worse before they get better. Track and evaluate the effects of the changes. Determine if there are unintended consequences and decide what needs tweaking.Although this might sound like a relatively straightforward process, it is far from it. There are many challenges to implementing systems thinking, the biggest of which is traditions and/or habits. Patterns of behavior are hard to recognize and even harder to change, and we often feel pressure to act quickly with little or no systemic information. Finding the balance between attending to the present and creating the future is never easy.What are the benefits of systems thinking?Systems thinking is the thread that ties the other four disciplines of organizational learning together. Organizations engaging in systems thinking are able to:
Develop new ways of looking at old problems.
Integrate new information more easily.
See interrelationships and cause and effect more clearly.
Develop patience with implementing change and tolerating delays.
Step away from the blame game toward shared responsibility.
See the whole rather than the parts.
Although each of the above benefits can take an inordinate amount of time to master, the investment in developing systems thinkers is worth the time and effort. Ultimately, organizations practicing systems thinking will be able to step up to that next level of thinking in order to solve problems and create their desired futures. They will have greater control over their destiny and be more nimble in responding to environmental changes. What better way to stay one step ahead of the competition?In my final article of this series, I will focus on how to integrate the five disciplines to create learning organizations.

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