Friday, January 6, 2012

World News 2012 - Highlights

For the most part, 2011 was a difficult year. It was filled with turmoil - both political and economical turmoil. While one could argue, that many of those shocks were necessary and long in the coming, it doesn't take away from the consequential hardships many sets of masses had to endure.

2012 is unlikely to be a much easier year. However, there are certainly big events to look forward to worldwide - big, impactful events. These range from forward-looking elections in many countries around the globe and blossoms arriving from the Arab Spring to sporting events like the Olympics in London.

1. Blossoms from the Arab Spring

So, Muammar Gaddafi has kicked the bucket and things are not looking quite so rosy for Mr Mubarak in Egypt right now. Still, the dust from the many North African Islamic revolutions last year is only just settling.

2012 will be a telling year for the likes of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. Will they try to go it on their own, or be sensible and acknowledge that some international assistance will be required in order to set up the right governance structures to take the respective countries forward to a stable political democracy?

Certainly given the South African experience, if these countries don't make a concerted effort to collect arms from the recent struggle, there will likely be a massive increase in crime later. On the whole though, I am quite optimistic that these countries have a bright future to look forward to.

2. Barack Obama and the 2012 US Elections

When Mr Obama was elected, in what seems like just yesterday, America, and indeed the world, was filled with hope and optimism. Four years on, and Obama's popularity has waned significantly. For the most part, his hands were tied on many issues and by any account, his achievements fall far short of public expectations.

Will he get a second term in the November 2012 elections? Or will the first American black president be written off as a failure after his first term?

3. London 2012 Olympics

In these times of economic turmoil in Europe, I see the London Olympics as a shining light in the region. Sure, it will no doubt be branded as a royal waste of money by many jobless Londoners, but I do believe there will be great value in creating some (much-needed) spirit of national unity in the UK at least.

Possibly the funniest predictions I've read about this epic event was on the mascots as part of a World News horoscope. I'm not sure if they were intended to be overly-politically correct or just plain silly - in either case, the creators were successful. As a PR professional I can only wonder what the thought process behind these mascots was!

4. Euro-zone crisis

Finally, I believe one of the biggest economic related items in 2012 will be the Euro-zone crisis and the impact of resolving it on the larger players in Europe, viz. Germany and France. Certainly, any action that is to be taken cannot be drawn out indefinitely - doing that would be tantamount to punting on some online casinos - you can make your 'investment' easily but unless you're smart enough to make some tough decisions soon, you're practically guaranteed to lose your pants.

It remains to be seen what the impact on the Greek, Irish and some of the Med countries will have on the rest of Europe and the world... one can only hope that the disaster can be contained and we don't continue to dip into yet another recessionary economic cycle.

So, quite a bit to look forward to in 2012!

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As an aside to all my friends, colleagues and my small following for my increasingly irregular blog (sorry!), I wish you all the very best in the year ahead - make 2012 an absolute stunner in terms of achieving your goals.

For my friends in India that still cling on to making January a month filled with debauchery (you know who you are!), be sure to get on the web and buy lottery tickets online there now. Jason, just for you, I managed to scout out a great online casino South Africa directory given our last conversation! Happy New Year to you all and I wish you the very best of luck in making your mark on the World News in 2012!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Highlights of the 2011 Cricket World Cup

It's the middle of the night here in Mumbai and and I'm too excited to do anything.. I do want to capture this moment though as it's certainly a once in a lifetime one. watching India win the Cricket World Cup, in India, for the first time in 28 years is quite an experience.

There is a surreal euphoria in the air - along with tons of fireworks and smiling faces wherever you go. I swear, it's as though everybody here has had a tremendous weight lifted off their shoulders - quite incredible really.

I've not blogged at all for the last month and have been totally engrossed with the cricket. I thought it best that I write this now while it's still all fresh in my mind and I'm still on a high from today's final match in Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

So, my top highlights of the tournament are:

1. MS Dhoni - not just for the brilliant captain's innings played this evening but for his measured temperament throughout the tournament. Cool, calm and collected is what Dhoni is (definitely think the IceMan title that the commentators have given him is a bit inappropriate!). I believe the likes of the choking South African cricket team can certainly learn from him. In fact they should seriously consider hiring Gary Kirsten since his winning stint in India is now over - perhaps he can give them the type of life coaching they really need.

2. Strauss and the England cricket team - certainly not for their lousy performance in the quarter-finals against Sri Lanka but definitely for the entertainment value they provided throughout the tournament. Every one of their matches was a nail-biter (again, except for the last 10 wicket loss) - if ever the game needed an advert for the one-day version of the sport, England provided it.

3. Tillakaratne Dilshan - what an absolute pleasure it has been to watch this allrounder on the field. he was excellent with the bat and as a part-time bowler who delivered for his captain when he was most needed to do so. He played with greater consistency than Sehwag, who is equally talented, and that's why he makes my list.

4. Shahid Afridi - it is not often (with the exception of perhaps MS Dhoni) that a captain plays such a critical role in the team. A wicket taker of note, it was inspiring to see how he wore his emotions on his sleeve and motivated the Pakistan team throughout. When Pakistan fell to India, I thought his few words were precious and sincere. If it were not for him, I doubt Pakistan would have reached as far as they did in this tournament.

5. Sachin Tendulkar - not quite sure what more needs to be said about my favourite cricketing genius. Playing in his sixth World Cup, he has finally won one. To see the respect given to the man, by the team and by his country is amazing. And all of it is well-deserved. My only regret is that he did not get to complete his 100 one-day centuries today in the final of the World Cup - now that would have been something - darned commentator's curse (and if there were any low-lights of this tournament I would have to say it would have been some of the awful speculative commentary - cricket commentator's curse indeed!)

Needless to say, India's victory is the greatest highlight of all. If you had asked me to bet on cricket world cup at the start of the tournament, I would likely have placed my money on Sri Lanka. They don't choke like South Africa does and are way more consistent than India. After today's performance though, I would quite gladly have lost that bet - India IS amazing!

Sigh... 4 years to wait now for the next cricket world cup in Australia/ New Zealand - 2015 is a long way away. I do believe this vibe will help carry me through till then though!!

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Be sure to check out my favourite BBC cricket news site, my rated confidence coaching guru and other recommended links.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Job cuts, recession - What to do next

2011 is well off the blocks and it looks like the year is going to be an eventful one for the world. There are changes all around - from the BBC being forced to cut back significantly on its well-known World Service international programming and the natural disasters in Australia to violent political revolts in Tunisia and Egypt.

A number of my friends and colleages have been given the axe over the last two years. Some have not managed as well as others - particularly those in the banking industry where the recruitment slump appears to be unhappily stable, and this despite the increase in investment banker bonuses (how does the government still allow them to get away with these one can only wonder). The more successful amongst those, are those that saw the change as an opportunity to take on something new that they always wanted to do. They were too afraid to leave their jobs to actually start it before, and now nothing appeared to hold them back.

Those that did not manage to adopt such a positive attitude did not fare as well. The market is tough and approaching it in the same way as you've done for many years before just doesn't cut the mustard. It is important to have a contingency plan in place and to be prepared to try something new. In this regard it is worth spending time and money on a coach or solutions-focused counsellor. It helps to see the wood from the trees and during these down times it is important to rediscover a more optimistic outlook on what opportunities lay ahead.

My situation is somewhat different from theirs but I found myself in a bit of slump toward the end of last year. Somewhere along the line I had fallen off track. The recession had taken its toll on the small PR business I had started after completing my studies. Add to that some personal relationship setbacks that aggravated matters and I had the perfect ingredients for a depression cocktail.

Following my positive experience with executive coaching in the last quarter of 2010, I decided to go the whole hog and sign up for a series of sessions including a combination of coaching and mentoring. Of course, this wasn't before an overly optimistic attempt at recovery - I had decided to 'invest' a few dollars to play lottery in India first... but - no guessing how that turned out right - unfortunately no quick fixes for Nayna!

Since I had a relatively clear idea in terms of what I wanted to do and it was just the motivation and energy I lacked to pursue it, I got some results surprisingly quickly.

After 2 sessions I had already established a daily routine which I was sticking to like glue (which, by the way, is invaluable for those of you who find yourselves just recently out of work!). A week later I had begun working on a business plan and speaking to people that will help me get my venture off the ground. I am determined that 2011 is my year - I will set up my own venture and persevere with it until it becomes a blazing success. So far so good with my New Year's resolutions and I can safely say 2011 is off to a start like no other!

Monday, September 6, 2010

My first coaching session

So I've recently discovered something amazing that has really had a substantial impact on my life - coaching. While I've become quite a strong proponent of NLP as you've read in my earlier posts, coaching is something I've stumbled upon quite by accident.

A couple of weeks ago I was having a serious dilemma about whether I should move into a place of my own in the suburbs vs sharing a flash place with someone in the city. I was torn - do I value my independence more or the lifestyle of the city? I vacillated back and forth for a few weeks prior to that - quite literally flip-flopping between the city and the burbs... I was beginning to get increasingly frustrated with myself for not being able to decide and commit to the decision for more than a few minutes.

In any case, one of my friends had recently just certified as a professional life coach in Johannesburg and it did not take long to convince me to test it out. I had heard about it before but quite frankly I had thought the whole thing was a bit too Robin Sharma kitsch for me - nothing could have been further from the truth! I had a session that lasted for about 35 minutes and it was completely different from what I expected.

Firstly, there was no advice or suggestions - only questions - and lots of them at that. Most revolved around clarifying for myself what was important to me and some were certainly not easy to answer. The process was amazing though - I felt as though I had pretty much led the session with my friend simply guiding me with appropriate questions. The proof was certainly in the pudding here - after the relatively short session (stand aside therapists!), I just "KNEW" exactly what was right for me with respect to the decision. It was like self-discovery on steroids!

From a customer service perspective it was super - I got to take home the few pages of paper we had worked through the challenge with - certainly more as a souvenier of the process rather than for the actualy content. For those of you who would like to move forward with decisions in their lives and are really feeling quite stuck - I highly recommend Pratish as a coach.. give it a try and you will not be disappointed!

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Power of Negative Thinking

Back from my lovely vacation and rarely to go once again. I attended a course on neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) last month which was quite fascinating. I didn't realise how what we say and think actually influences our actions. I still reserve judgement on whether principles like those discussed in The Secret are actually valid (i.e. that you bring everything on yourself - good or bad). The psychology and benefits of maintaining a positive attitude definitely make for a happier life.

So why the title above you may ask. Well, it relates to South African president Jacob Zuma's hopes and 'willing of the universe' when he went for his HIV test on the 8th of April this year. No doubt he and a number of affected parties waited with bated breath to see the outcome. I guess in his case, the power of negative thinking certainly helped his cause!

The debate as to whether he should have disclosed his results is quite contentious - some claim that it is validating to the youth that his promiscuous behaviour is acceptable. That the media is actually only hyping up the risks. This follows after numerous reports on his unprotected encounters, including the one recently with the daughter of his friend Irvin Khoza which raised significant controversy in local South African media.

I have to say I think Pratish has really outdone himself with his latest satirical sketch on the recent disclosure of Jacob Zuma's HIV status on his cartoon blog.

It's interesting to note that the comments on the more negative posts on that blog exceed by an order of magnitude the comments on the postive posts. I wonder why that is? Perhaps it's just human nature to embrace to negative thoughts rather than positive ones. Sad, but it appears to be empircally true!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Public Relations training

Hardly exciting work developing training material for Public Relations but I've finally managed to get my act together. I was working with a local community college on a joint venture of sorts to get a PR course of the ground.

The course was targeted at new entrepreneurs in and around the Soweto area. Many of these young minds have the talent and ideas but when it comes to marketing and execution their skills are lacking. We divided the material into two parts - one that focused on developing the basic marketing skills through the use of case studies.

The second part of the course was much tougher to develop. We wanted a practical component to the course that addresses local issues that the young entrepreneurs would face. Challenges included securing funding, understanding practically how purchasing media space works, tracking an monitoring of campaigns, and finally the basics of actual creative design and branding. I'm off on vacation for a while soon and will teach the first run of the course in May - it was tough to develop but I think it's going to be much more fun to teach!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Thank God it's 2010!

2009 was certainly a year to remember for me - lots of trial, trauma and tribulations on a number of fronts - work, health and relationships. I'm glad it's over now and that 2010 is finally year. I'm well aware that life doesn't operate in discrete chunks of time like that but for the pure psychological value of it not having to write 2009 in the immediate future does provide some mental relief!

Health-wise things have improved quite a lot over the last 2 months - with having found a lump to be benign was a physical relief I cannot even begin to find words to describe! Considering the family history of cancer and the like and I am most grateful to the powers that be.

In terms of work - my PR company is taking off nicely despite having lost some money to 2 horrible companies I had done work for and that have subsequently fled without paying me a penny :( Not nice. I am hoping to continue my efforts to promote the Wonkie cartoon blog - I've not had much time to work on it recently because of work pressures and setting up my own venture but it's definitely on my list of to-dos as part of my 2010 new year resolutions.

In the meantime, I shall try to be more regular from now on with the blogging - both on my own blog and my guest appearances on a number of South African politically oriented blogs. All the very best for 2010 and I sincerely hope it is the best year you've ever had!