January 2010

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Openings at silkor lebanon and dubai

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It was her birthday, but there was a death in the family, so she went to pay her condolences and told her parents they’d celebrate her birthday once she comes back from her business trip to Gabon… She has traveled this route many times and yet this time something was different – she really felt that she did not want to go! She was envious of her colleague, whose daughter was sick and who had the chance not to travel on that day and join in on the exhibition later. She really did not want to travel… After packing her stuff, she handed her car keys to her flatmate and she told her: “if anything happens to me, like the plane crashes … give these to my parents and tell them I really love them!”

She was the daughter of my mother’s friend… and she died on that plane crash…

When my mother was telling me this on the phone I felt really spooked out and really touched… and that is exactly why I wanted to share this with you… This raises many questions and many emotions in me…

Should we trust our feelings no matter how paranoid they get?

My deepest condolences to all who have been touched by this tragedy.

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UPDATE: the lucky winner is KrikorianM, stay tuned for more giveaways!

Fringe DVDs giveawaysYou know how parents who do not have enough time to spend with their families, buy out their love? Well, I really want to bribe you all for being patient in my infrequent posting. 

To get a chance to win the full season 1 of Fringe, (non-original DVDs watched once by me in a Marathon on this NYE) just leave a comment below. You can also be a conscientious reader and give me advise and tell me what you’d like to read about next :)

P.S. The DVDs will be available for Pickup in Beirut and will wait for you as long as it takes.

Winner will be chosen at random on Valentine’s Day:)


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Yes I have… I  am sorry… I have been saving these for the OLD New Year but then , of course, I got busy as well…

Anyways, I know all of you are feeling bad about the Season’s festivities being over… So maybe it’s a good chance to wallow in denial!

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Resisting Change

Photo by the fantastic Naeema Zareef (twitter.com/naeema)

Two events have been the highlight of the last week of 2009 for me. One of them was my darling’s stiff resistance of the flu and the other was a live encounter with a typical Marketing Manager 1.0. And , eventually, yours truly got to celebrate the assent of the new year in bed with fever as well… making the lessons learned from these two encounters all the more vivid.

1)Ignore it, Maybe it’ll go away

Years of evolution have not killed the breadwinner’s instinct in men, which even stands above the instinct of self preservation. When your man falls sick, he would always keep on going to work, as usual, doing all his house chores in an exemplary manner, without admitting that something is wrong. I suppose in ancient tribes, the sick were isolated or cast out of the villages & left to die alone. So God forbid for your man to admit that something is wrong. But what goes in the manager’s 1.0′s head is beyond my understanding. M1.0 says that the marketing has not changed and that the foundations and underlying rules still remain valid, he has a moment of truth when he condescends to admit that advertising has changed, and then he switches back to denial by saying that advertising is only a part of marketing, he goes back to touching on changing customer needs, but breaks off at specifics… And, of course, in the same manner that prince charming audaciously refuses to take a sick day and stay in bed, M1.0 would say, – “We do not need a website now, we’ll start working on it in a couple of months, we’re studying our competition for now.” But by the time they are weakened and overpowered by their disease, the first would’ve plowed through a week of 20% productivity at work and then lying in bed for 2 days to recuperate and another week and a half of insane coughing, which is a significant trade off for staying at home for two days, as I did, and then going back to work a 100% recharged.  And our M1.0 Would greatly benefit said competitors by not having a significant online presence by as much as he will frustrate his prospects, who would be unable to find a way to contact them and find out more about their products. And no, a Facebook page is not as good as Corporate website (if you disagree with that, let me know, I’d be more than happy to share my views!).

2) Time Heals everything

Mon Beau will tell you that it takes seven days to cure a flu anyhow, so why bother and put your life on hold? M1.0 says that brand awareness will come with time, after my comment about missing opportunities 5 months after market entry. Well, in my dictionary, one week equals, on average, 70 tweets, 3 blogposts, and a possible email marketing or other online campaign. Multiply that by 5 and you will have thousands of touchpoints with your clients that come at a fraction of a cost of traditional media. Maybe our generation is too aggressive, but less than a month in my new job, I am already feeling unproductive for not bringing in more value and having to cram up on literature/research 50% of my time and that is precisely why, I use the remaining 50% to make actionable change NOW. In my eye, less is more in the long run, and little things done now, be it a greeting card, sms, news release… may not just prevent you from LOSING an existing client, but also get you a new client TODAY!

3) Expenditure = ROI

When hubby does reach a pharmacy, after 5 days, he’ll sweep off the shelves everything  that can remotely help him, or at least that is what he thinks. But by that time, the poles have shifted and all he needs to do is really wait, sip orange juice and rest to recover, instead of ingesting antibiotics which will further drain his life -resources. M1.o will also go to extremes, after 5 months, hiring top models, pampering them and doing runway shows, publishing ads in glitzy magazines… in two words maniacally spending!  But same-same, time would’ve done its thing, and that extra investment would’ve been too little too late! But that does not mean that you shouldn’t still take in your vitamins regularly. Don’t wait until you get a soar throat to take action. Act now, act always! Because,

4) Nobody Cares about YOU, as much as You!

Your boss is not going to give you a day off when you are saying you are a little sick but already came to work, and your clients are not going to run 20 google searches, searching for your coordinates if you landing page, facebook page, twitter handle or corporate website have not been SEO and keyword optimized. And if your marketing campaign does not relate to me, your target client, and if I do not find what I want about you, no money in the world would buy you my consumer’s sentiment and loyalty. And beware, I am too studying your competitors, and so far , they are ahead of you.

5) Birds do it, bees do it…

Men have this secret solidarity pact about enduring illness at the office, when I used to take a sick day at my previous job, I sometimes felt my boss took it as a personal offense. On the other hand, my spouse’s boss can call him while he’s sick saying, – “Aren’t you man enough, chuck on some pills and get on going!”. Bizarre and unacceptable, but, nonetheless true! But, even if denial is the trend, you should take advantage of it. While everyone is “hachooing” at the office, retreat and come back rosy cheeked and productive. And while your competitors are stuck in their old ways, you have the time to experiment, innovate and advance! Your mindset is your only handicap!

Post Approved for publishing by Prince Charming, M1.0 feedback pending. What about you?

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Firstly, Happy New Year my Dear Readers. I have been submerging myself in work, but do not fret, amazing material is coming up on this blog, as well as a possible move and re-decoration :) The year ahead is full of surprises.
As usual I am VERY lucky to receive very devoted, much more experienced guest experts. In fact, my dear Khaled, was dedicated enough to write this post on his blackberry, within the same day! So, before I leave you with this post, I would like to thank him for enlightening me on there being more to number 5 that Chanel, and drop a spoiler: Khaled will be contributing 4 more posts to this blog on amazing subjects, imparting his priceless experiences in Advertisement, Communication and Personal Branding! So Read on and stay tuned!

Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. If you read/follow the work of Stephen R. Covey, then you have already recognized this as Habit Number 5 from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If you don’t, then there’s a chance that this phrase may come off as sort of a cliche. Let’s explore how essential this practice is in effective communication: Understanding your respondent; Seeking to gather as much information as possible before you respond. As simple as it may it sound, I still find it the number one challenge in business and personal communications: the ability to put yourself in the other person s shoes (metaphorically, that is). The analogy I will present next is my aim at materializing this practice (seeking first to understand) and clarifying it.


I’ve developed a useful habit while driving over the past few years. I find this new habit particularly helpful considering the strict driving laws in the State of Arizona. Recently I’ve started applying the learning from this driving habit to everyday communications, and the results: fascinating.

The Habit: As I drive I always look beyond the driver ahead of me. I focus more on the cars in front of him/her rather than on this driver s behavior. This usually improves my reaction time and helps me better understand the driving dynamic.

The application: How does this help communication? Simple: imagine a normal conversation as a driving experience. You steer the conversation as you would drive your car: to get to places/destinations. Now imagine yourself as driver A. Imagine the person you are talking to as driver B (the car right in front of you on the freeway). And imagine all other concerned individuals to be drivers C,D,E all driving in front of Driver B.

As driver A, you are less prone to colliding with driver B when you understand how driver B is reacting/interacting with drivers C,D,E If you notice driver C coming to a sudden stop, you will focus more on slowing down BEFORE reacting to driver B s sudden stop.

Now apply that same logic to a human interaction: In order to better interact with someone, you need to first know why they behave as they do, how are they reacting to their surroundings, what drives/motivates them. These are the things you need to understand first, BEFORE attempting to put your points across.

Several years back, I applied habit number five with a client and it resulted in a successful communication flow. I was handling an account with a client who was continously angry, and hence agressive in their approach to matters at hand. A few months of having to deal with this, I found out 2 facts that shifted my paradigm:

1-The client was in fact a working mother, who due to the excessive amount of business trips was experiencing frustration and disconnect with her 2 year old daughter.

2-I stumbled upon a survey result that said ‘Working women, are the employees with the highest amount of stress levels’

Knowing these 2 facts made for a much smoother approach to my angry client. I understood the nature of her behavior was in no way related to the quality of work or the people that are delivering it.

In conclusion, Habit number 5 (Seeking first to understand, then to be understood) can be put to use by understanding that: the best relationship you (driver A) can have with someone else (driver B) is to understand how they are acting in response to other individuals (drivers C,D,E ).

BIO: Khaled Itani is an ex-AdMan with an MBA in Marketing from the American University of Beirut. With years of Advertising/Communications experience from Grey Beirut and JWT, Khaled is currently a Client Services Manager for a leading North American e-Commerce firm.

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