Friday, 21 December 2012

Building A Futureproof Brand? What You’ll Need In 2013.

(By Marc Stoiber). I help clients build futureproof brands, so a predictions article seems a natural fit. And because collaboration with my network of global experts is part of building those brands, I’m blessed to stand on the shoulders of giants when looking ahead.
So without further ado, let’s launch right into it.  My futureproof brand 2013 predictions (with a little help from my very talented friends).
1. The Implosion Of ‘Greed Is Good’ Brands
I leaned on my friend John Marshall Roberts for this one. John is a best-selling author, behavioral scientist and founder of Worldview Thinking. When I asked him to polish the crystal ball he told me “The individualistic worldview, focused solely on profit, is continuing to decay. Obama’s re-election gave it another kick – expect continued collapse of this worldview, and the brands it represents, in 2013.”
But will we suddenly be inundated with brands that put the humanistic worldview first? Not necessarily. “There is going to be a rise of companies that succeed against all status quo wisdom” Roberts says. Think Tom’s Shoes, with its ‘buy one give one’ philosophy. Or Zappos, selling insane service to build a shoe business…   Read the full article here .  

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Banks: The Epitome of Social Irresponsibility

Financial crisis, casino gambling, outsized bonuses, rate fixing, now money laundering, etc, etc . In the last six years, the public's opinion of the banking industry has dropped by over 60 points. No wonder then that even the Wall Street Journal is beginning to call for the largest banks to be broken up. See more here .

Corporate sustainability lost some of its sexiness in 2012 ?

It was an odd year for green business, and it began with some mixed signals about how far companies were coming on sustainability. A GreenBiz report indicated that progress had slowed or even regressed, but MIT and BCG also declared that sustainability had reached a "tipping point" with more companies putting sustainability "on the management agenda." A very interesting article at HBR, here .

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Is there anyone like Nassim Taleb?

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the bestselling author of The Black Swan and one of the foremost thinkers of our time, reveals how to thrive in an uncertain world in his new book Antifragile .
Just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension, and rumors or riots intensify when someone tries to repress them, many things in life benefit from stress, disorder, volatility, and turmoil. What Taleb has identified and calls “antifragile” is that category of things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish.
Antifragile complements The Black Swan by celebrating systems that gain from disorder, trading away short-term predictability and micro-rationality for long-term success exploiting macro-unpredictability. It's a bold attitude, amply supported by argument and example from many fields. If anything, it is more outrageous and iconoclastic than The Black Swan. It is Taleb's most important book to date, as it closes the circle. On one level, the universe (at least as perceived by humans) is ruled by disorder, but on another level, the crucial elements are those that gain from disorder as eventually these are fitter for survival than any element, however strong, that requires order.
If you have read any of Taleb's other books, Antifragile is the best next one to read. If you have not read any,  start with Fooled by Randomness .
According to The Telegraph, “ Antifragile has annoyed fans of Taleb’s earlier works because, in turning away from statistics, his thought has become baggier, bombastic and often preposterous. Nevertheless, his work exerts a strange pull. Taleb’s aim is both quixotic and ambitious: he wants to overleap the limits of epistemology and return to the founding drama of Ancient Greek philosophy. Taleb is incisive when he writes about the original Greek philosophers and their medieval Arab followers. Plato’s Republic begins with an attack on merchants and money lenders collectively known as krematistes: the moneymakers. Plato is the perfect example of a top-down, authoritarian state-planner and his attack on the riff-raff in trade is a decisive moment in philosophy. Taleb re-energises the debate by taking the moneymaker’s part. In his heart, he remains a barrow-boy challenging the philosopher kings in the same way that, as an options trader, he once took on the academic economists. His story is similar to many other members of the statistics revolution.” See review here . And the HBR text here .

Friday, 7 December 2012

10 trends that will shape consumer behavior in 2013 and their implications for MarCom people

JWT recently released the eighth annual forecast of key trends that will shape or significantly impact consumer mindset and behavior in the near future. No need to elaborate why such trends have considerable impact in the MarCom strategy of every company in our times.
In this year’s report, new technology continues to take center stage, as we see major shifts tied to warp-speed developments in mobile, social and data technologies. Many of our trends reflect how businesses are driving, leveraging or counteracting technology’s omnipresence in our lives, and how consumers are responding to its pull. However, what should be noticed in the 2013 report, is the fact that MarCom people are for the first time pay attention  on happiness and  well-being and how businesses are addressing it for marketing and real good purpose. Happiness  was a favorite  theme in the book  ‘Nice’ Capitalism four years ago ( you can also download for free ) and a popular topic of many posts in this blog. See more about the ten trends, here . For  stories about the new breed of superior brand species, ie Nice Brands, follow us also in Twitter .

Τώρα είναι πολύ αργά Κύριε Στίγκλιτζ...

To τελευταίο βιβλίο του νομπελίστα οικονομολόγου Τζόζεφ Στίγκλιτζ, («Το τίμημα της ανισότητας», εκδ. Παπαδόπουλος, 2012) που παρουσιάστηκε στις 4/12/2012 στην Ελλάδα, κρούει των κώδωνα του κινδύνου για τις εντεινόμενο χάσμα των εισοδημάτων στον δυτικό κόσμο. Στις σελίδες της ελληνικής έκδοσης η ανάλυσή του για την «καταστροφική επίδραση της ανισότητας στο δημοκρατικό πολίτευμα», εστιάζει κυρίως στις ΗΠΑ. Αποτυχημένος οικονομολόγος, αφού δεν προέβλεψε την κρίση, αποτυχημένος σύμβουλος αποτυχημένου Πρωθυπουργού, τώρα ανακάλυψε ότι η πηγή του κακού και της Αμερικανογεννημένης κρίσης είναι.. οι ανισότητες στη κοινωνία! Δεν ρίχνει μια ματιά στο βιβλίο ενός Έλληνα που την προέβλεψε πριν ξεσπάσει το 2008 και ανέφερε ως μοναδικό λόγω τις ανισότητες? Ας το διαβάσει τώρα εδω.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Τhe relationship between a politician’s salary and the effectiveness of the government they are running

 With all the scandal surrounding the salaries of MPs and the misuse of government coffers, particularly in Greece, this type of data are very revealing.
Designed by Ryan Bowman at, this interactive graphical tool displays the relationship between a politician’s salary and the effectiveness of the government they are running. This effectiveness is represented by a so-called Good Governance Metric, calculated by taking The Democracy Index (DCI) published by The Economist, the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) and the Perception of Corruption Index (PCI) by NGO Transparency International.
The larger the angle from the dot representing the country to the thick yellow line, the worse the governance.  Some of the countries positioning may surprise you, others surely won’t.  Obviously this is not an exact science, but nonetheless, it’s an interesting and effective way to present such data. Data from this analysis have been used in my top in popularity article  in Greek, that appeared in BHMA newspaper on 20/02/2010. You can see the full article here. You can interact with the data in the above picture  here

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Πάντα εδώ.. να γιατι δεν μπορουν να μας κάνουν τιποτα οι ξένοι... (.. μακροπρόθεσμα).

Πάντα εδώ.. Συγκλονιστικό σχόλιο σύνταξης στα τελευταια ΕΠΙΚΑΙΡΑ.. Ολη η ιστορία μας σε λιγoτερο απο μια σελιδα... Ισως, οτι περιγραφει ο Καζαντζακης σε πεντε βιβλια.. Μπραβο.. Διαβαστε το.. κοινοποιηστε το.. δειτε γιατι δεν μπορουν να μας κανουν τιποτα οι ξενοι..

Monday, 15 October 2012

Maria Tsakos Foundation : Our Response to Fires

Following the unprecedented and despicable fires last August on the Greek Island of Chios in Eastern Aegean, an International Congress is being organized by the “Maria Tsakos” Foundation, which is the International Centre of Maritime Research and Tradition N.G.O., at the Homerion Cultural Centre of Chios and at the Maria Tsakos Foundation in Chios on the 15th  and 16th  October.
Worth mentioning that the immediate response of the shipping, seafaring and diaspora communities and in particular the Chian one, which brings together high caliber experts from all over the world, is yet an additional  response to those “prosecuting” the Greek shipping and its benefactors, within and outside Greece.The event has four interesting sessions: “Chios and the fires”; “A scientific approach to the fires: the Chios case”; “Measures of rehabilitation from Chios’ fires”; and “Response to the fires in the middle and long term future”.

The Foundation’s activities which are global,  extend to Greece, through donations and charities. Benevolent donations have been extremely significant, particularly in Chios and Kardamyla, Captain P.N. Tsakos’ home island. You can find the full event program here

USA consumers show a lower trust in national business than they do in global companies.

Citizens sometimes perceive national and global companies in a different light.
Trust in global and national business is certainly correlated, according to recent research by GlobeScan. If a country’s citizens trust global businesses, they are also likely to trust its own national companies. However, in most countries, national companies are more trusted than their global counterparts. Concerns about foreign control of resources and workers, as well as national prestige, are likely to be factors in this.
There are some exceptions—as is the case of  USA that  have markedly lower trust in national business than they do in global companies. The presence of trusted and respected “household name” global companies of local origin—such as Samsung, Hyundai, Microsoft, and Coke—may be boosting views of global companies here, according to GlobeScan. At the other extreme, all the continental European countries demonstrate great mistrust of global companies. These finding need a deeper examination in order to extract meaningful conclusions. However, it seems that support the findings presented  first in the book “Nice” Capitalism, ie that Europeans brands are outperforming their US counterparts in consumer admiration and trust.

Will accelerating technology lead to economic collapse ?

Will the future be filled with cool technologies and endless opportunities or will our own creations lead to eventual doom? Martin Ford tends to think the former. Technology has seemingly endless ability to improve the health, freedom, and happiness of our lives. Even optimistic futurists like Ray Kurzweil and James Canton admit, however, that the road to advancing technology is fraught with dangers. Super viruses, artificial intelligences run amok, environmental calamity – science has its threats as well as its promises. Yet there could be one near term problem that even futurists tend to ignore – economic collapse. Martin Ford, a silicon valley computer engineer, entrepreneur, and blogger has written The Lights In The Tunnel, a book which explores the economic implications of a world which is becoming increasingly automated. See more at :   

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

What corporations like Unilever could learn from Darwin ?

In 2011, the Unilever CEO Paul Polman   launched the “Sustainable Living Plan” integrating every aspect of Unilever’s business. The plan called for Unilever to double its sales and halve its environmental impact within a decade; “It’s a realistic and difficult business model… but in a world where increasingly people feel that the system is unfair to them or where they feel excluded, where there is an enormous resource stress, companies that don’t more actively become part of the solution will become obsolete.”,  he said recently in the INSEAD Knowledge.
“We are increasingly more successful in what I call a VUCA environment – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.” Polman  says. Perhaps that’s why he also understands that in today’s interconnected world, social media is a powerful tool in the hands of the people, and the consumer is not afraid to say what he wants. “In the digital age we’ve seen the power of the consumer coming up and I always tell our people here that if they can bring down a regime in Egypt in about 17 days they can bring down an irresponsible company in nanoseconds…The consumer is really the boss and there is no bigger power than the power of the wallet.” , he said.  A very pragmatic and Darwinian paradigm from a global firm and his forward looking CEO. You can see more  about  this new paradigm for sustainable growth here.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Do CSR ratings and good companies rankings matter?

Last month has been a big one for corporate sustainability rankings, with the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and the Carbon Disclosure Project releasing new reports. Also a  book called Good Company announced its own 2012 Good Company Index. And this month will bring the World Series, Halloween and, of course, the annual Newsweek “green” rankings of big public companies, etc. Read in detail in Marc Gunther’s blog. As  he suggests all these rankings rise a lot of questions. And some findings are rather discouraging . Take for example the  Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI).
The DJSI World has, since its inception in 1999, very closely tracked the stock markets as a whole. Actually, it slightly trails the MSCI World Index.
That’s discouraging, says Gunther. If the index is, in fact, selecting the most sustainable companies, they ought to be rewarded by forward-thinking investors. They’re not. Here’s a chart.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Unilever: Working harder to meet it’s Sustainable Living Plan targets.

Unilever has published a report earlier this year  on the progress it is making towards meeting its Unilever Sustainable Living Plan targets. The plan (first published in November 2010), broke new ground by committing to take responsibility for the company’s impacts right across the value chain, from the sourcing of raw materials all the way through to the consumer’s use of its products to cook, clean and wash. Unilever’s performance against its sustainable living plan targets fall into three categories:
1. Areas where  the company is making genuinely good progress, such as: Sustainable sourcing ( 24% of total agricultural raw materials now being sourced sustainably, versus 14% in 2010 ), Nutrition  ( over 90% of Unilever’s leading spreads now contain less than one-third saturated fat), Renewable energy ( now contributes 20% of Unilever’s total energy use and 100% of electricity purchased in Europe is now from renewable sources) and Safe drinking water .
2. Areas where the company has to consider carefully how to reach targets. These include amongst others  health and hygiene
3. Areas where the global giant is  finding it difficult to make progress and will need to work with others to find solutions. This applies particularly to targets that require consumer behaviour change, such as reducing the use of heated water in showering and washing clothes, or encouraging people to eat foods with lower salt levels.
“In a world where temperatures are rising, energy is costing more, sanitation is worsening and food supply is less secure, companies can no longer sit on the sidelines waiting for governments to take action. We have to see ourselves as part of the solution to these problems. In Unilever, we believe that our future success depends upon being able to decouple our growth from our environmental footprint, while at the same time increasing our positive social impacts”, says Unilever CEO, Paul Polman. For more information and the full progress report  for 2012, visit  .

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Nicholas Christakis: A new kind of social science is needed for the 21st century , says author of CONNECTED

In the 21st century, the social sciences offer a promise for improving human welfare. The advances that we have made and will be making, especially in understanding human behavior and its very deep origins, will be translated into interventions of diverse sorts that will have a much bigger impact in terms of improving human welfare , said Nicholas Christakis in a recent  conversation  in EDGE (see video). Christakis  is a Physician and Social Scientist at Harvard University and Coauthor (with James Fowler) of  “Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and HowThey Shape Our Lives”. The book suggests that your colleague's husband's sister can make you fat, even if you don't know her. A happy neighbor has more impact on your happiness than a happy spouse. These startling revelations of how much we truly influence one another are revealed in the studies of Drs. Christakis. CONNECTED overturns the notion of the individual and provides a revolutionary paradigm-that social networks influence our ideas, emotions, health, relationships, behavior, politics, and much more. A health care policy specialist Christakis (Death Foretold: Prophecy and Prognosis in Medical Care) became interested in social connectivity when observing that the mortality rate of spouses spike after a partner passes away. Christakis sought out a collaboration with Fowler, a health systems and political scientist, and together they compare topology (the hows of a given structure) across different social networks to better explain how participation and positioning enhances the effectiveness of an individual, and why the "whole" of a network is "greater than the sum of its parts." Five basic rules describe the relationship between individuals and their networks-including mutual adaptation, the influence of friends and friends' friends, the network's "life of its own"-but the results do more than promote the good of the group: they also spread contagions; create "epidemics" of obesity, smoking and substance abuse; disseminate fads and markets; alter voting patterns; and more.