Luck comes in many forms. Many believe that we can attract luck through fortune cookies, lucky charms people wear as body adornments, figures and statues who are thought to bring positive energy down to the color of our clothes.
The famous luck believers are the Chinese, and this year’s lunar New Year will be on February 5 initiating the year of the pig. Unlike other customs, Chinese celebrated the coming of the year based on the traditional Chinese calendar. It is one of the world’s most celebrated festivals and thought to be associated with myths and several beliefs. For most Chinese, the highlight of the festival is to honour deities as well as to usher good luck, wealth and longevity to every homes.
Chinese have several preparations for the lunar New Year. This may sound too much but starting the year on the right foot is crucial.
To some, attracting men is hard, but drawing luck is way harder. So whether you are part of the Chinese community or not, if you’re someone who believes on luck and may want to have a blissful year ahead of you, here are the five things you need to consider:
#1 FOOD is the heart of every celebration. In anticipation for the said New Year, you can visit groceries for festival dinners and regular meals. So what is the best food to prepare? Chinese believe that dumplings are a must since it is good for prosperity. Do not forget to also serve spring rolls on the table as well as sticky rice cakes during the New Year. They are known to offer good luck throughout the year.
#2 CLOTHING – Chinese New Year is also a time to look your best. Even though it is not necessary to buy new clothes, you can always wear the same clothes you are wearing during regular days. However, Chinese purchase new wardrobes for the festival and on visitation to temples. White and black clothing are a big NO during the New Year, and red is always the colour of choice and a must to every celebration. It is often associated with good fortune and happiness. Though, this may seem weird but don’t forget to buy red underwear and a red bracelet for those who can’t wear red overall outfits.
#3 GIFTS – small gifts and tokens are exchanged during Chinese New Year as a sign of love and appreciation. Luck comes your way when you know how to appreciate people and even small things around you. Candies, small cakes, trinkets and candles are good presents. For non-Chinese, you can hang envelopes or ‘Ang Pao’ with money or sweets placed inside it on your windows and to every corner of your house or establishment. This will put away evils and negative energy. Avoid gifts that are considered unlucky such as umbrella, and or white flowers like chrysanthemums for these are for funerals alone.
#4 DECORATIONS – Houses are adorned with red lanterns, red couplets, paper cutouts and New Year’s paintings. But this is practiced and applicable to the Chinese tradition. However, you can go to the market and buy flowers for these freshen up homes and spark romance. If you think that your relationship is failing, you will need a lot of flowers. Peach and plum blossoms are very positive choices. And for those who seek fertility and abundance, you can choose a wide variety of orchids.
#5 CLEANING – clean your house, establishment, office, and even your rooms, days before the actual New Year. Don’t sweep your house or rooms on and after New Year for doing so is believed to sweep away luck. Sweeping and cleaning ward off evil spirits that roam around and for optimal feng shui. So it’s time to clean out all those drawers, dead plants, and all mess should be thrown out to make room for better things that are sure to come.
The whole point of preparing for Chinese New Year goes beyond the feast, decorations, food, clothing and how to attract luck- it will always be about family reunions, new beginnings, renewed relationships and another chance to live life.
Regardless of old traditions and a handful of superstitions, luck and good fortune always depend on the person’s will and determination. These tips are just an idea and possible measures to increase the odds that good fortune will be received this year. After all, luck will always come to those who work hard.
[Opinion] Black Men Are Being Lynched By White America; But Not Bill Cosby
In the height of the extensively publicized trials of the likes of Bill Cosby, R. Kelly, and the recent documentary about Michael Jackson, black men who are facing allegations of sexual abuse and harassment, a polarizing contention is often brought up in both formal and informal forums: the white media publicly lynching black men.
The narrative is straightforward: white people are publicly lynching famous black men to extents that invalidate their achievements and contribution to the society through double standards that seem not to apply to white men accused of the same things. And there is a massive contingent of black people who believe in the conspiracy that Bill Cosby is tried as a black man more than an American.
These people contend that there is a problem in the system where black men are the only ones convicted of crimes that even white people do. While this argument bears merit in cases where black men are innocent, it definitely does not work in the case of Bill Cosby.
Bill Cosby is serving a three to a ten-year prison sentence for sexually abusing a woman in 2004. The American Dad, a moniker he earned through his famous The Cosby Show in the 90s, was also accused by more than 60 women of the same things – sexual harassment, sexual abuse, drugging, sexual battery, and exploitation of minors. Amidst the damning amount of evidence piled up against Bill Cosby and the number of victim testimonies that proves his guilt, there are still people who believe that he is another victim of white persecution.
Bill Cosby, for all its worth, has leveraged on the narrative that he is a ‘political prisoner,’ who was convicted by a system that is rigged in favor of White America. His publicist, Andrew Wyatt, even claimed that Bill Cosby’s conviction is ‘public lynching of black people in America.’
We’ve heard the same sentiments from the estates of Michael Jackson, invoking the ‘public lynching’ narrative after the airing of Leaving Neverland, a docu-series that accused the late King of Pop of sexually harassing two young boys in the past.
In the same manner, R. Kelly, who is accused of sexually abusing underage women and is currently facing ten counts of aggravated sexual assault charges, even has supporters who paid his million-dollar bail and the $190,000 child support he owed from his ex wife and children so he can keep out of jail.
While it is true that White America is lynching a lot of black men, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly are not one of them. Black men are continued to be purged by law enforcement, and their blood seeps through every drainage in different towns. Black men are denied employment every day just because they are black. Police are called just because a black kid is present in a supposedly white neighborhood. Yes, black men are being lynched every single day. No doubt.
In using the public lynching narrative, what the likes of Bill Cosby and R. Kelly do, sexual predators that prey on young women, the message becomes devalued. It ends up as an excuse black people make up to get out of the troubles they have created themselves. It invalidates the actual real-life lynching of legitimate black people who are denied from their freedom just because they are black.
And in sexual assault cases, where victim testimony is the most persuasive evidence against an accused, using the lynching narrative invalidates the stories and the truths of the victims who have been afraid of coming out for the same reason that the lynching argument perpetuates fear. It discourages other victims to come forward and put sexual assailants behind bars. Worse, it encourages black men to become monsters, as it gives them a convenient way out.
More importantly, the black lynching argument, especially in the case of Bill Cosby, who has been convicted of a crime in a fair judicial procedure, slaps the memories of those who were lynched in history. Black men and women who were denied the right to a fair trial and was executed just because they are guilty through the virtue of their skin color.
White America is lynching black men; but no, Bill Cosby among others who use the argument as an excuse to solicit undeserved public sympathy is not one of them.
Businesses In Middle East Urge To Remove VoIP Services Banning
Some Middle Eastern countries seem to have a problematic relationship with VoIP services and other apps such as Snapchat, Skype, Line, and Tango. Over the years, residents in Saudi Arabia and Qatar were struggling to use VoIP services.
Like Qatar, near the United Arab Emirates, had a similar situation where these types of services are not welcome. WhatsApp and Snapchat calls have historically blocked along with Facetime. Other states in the region have also adapted to the restricting policies, where access to VoIP and social media providers are blocked.
Today, with the advantage of VoIP services to either big or small enterprises, businesses are thinking of ways on how to experience the benefits of using the said service. However, due to certain restrictions implemented by telecom firms, these entrepreneurs may have lower chances of getting the service – or none at all.
Without allowing VoIP calls to do personal and business transactions, how can countries in the Middle East, which strive to become the first in everything, including digital communication, attain its goals?
In September last year, Khalaf Al Habtoor, chairman of Al Habtoor Group and a prominent Emirati, as well as, a Dubai-based billionaire, had called the attention of UAE’s telecom firms to lift the banning of VoIP services including free calls through WhatsApp and Skype.
Habtoor’s uploaded a video online, which was viewed by a lot of people who later supported his call, to lift the ban. The businessman addressed his issue to the telecom firm and its management, indicating that WhatsApp, Skype, and other online apps, are widely used without fee by mostly everyone in the world except for his country.
Habtoor is just one of the many businessmen who strive to improve the business sector of the country. Many small and big enterprises acknowledge the benefits of using VoIP phone system in dealing with customers, not just within the country, but especially in international areas.
Since UAE telecom firms block VoIP calls, residents have to use alternatives provided by local telecom service providers. Although UAE claimed to encourage the availability of the latest technology to its citizens, it still has these rules that “no person or business within the State may sell VoIP calls or services to the public or businesses without a license.”
Moreover, in countries like the UAE and Qatar, regulatory requirements can make it difficult for VoIP providers to operate in the same way as they do in other nations. Currently, the only two licensed entities by ictQATAR, a communication regulatory authority in Qatar, are Qatar Telecom (QTel) and Vodafone Qatar.
With the collective efforts of the people in calling for this ban to be lifted, Arabic Daily, Al Ittihad reported earlier this year that the UAE telecom regulator would be having an official meet up with Microsoft and Apple, focusing on the potential lifting of an injunction on Skype, FaceTime, and VoIP services. This announcement sparked hope to the residents, especially to business people, who aim to bring its products into the world market.
With its fast-growing youth population, diversity and innovative nature, the Middle East is a key developing market for Microsoft and other VoIP companies. Let us hope that through persistent call and endless appeals, these countries will finally open its window for a technological revolution.
Cx-Centric Communication Can Go A Long Way: Build Your Strategy Around Your Customers
Communication is the pillar of excellent customer service. That is why Gartner predicts that businesses will invest a massive $1.5 trillion of their IT budget to communication services technologies. Managers from across industries are looking for new and innovative ways to reach out to their customers and to improve their customer service productivity.
However, spending money and investing in technology is not enough. Deep understanding of customers and the ability to determine touch points and motivations by following their decision-making journey is necessary for companies to maximize the benefits of their investment.
Unfortunately, most businesses don’t.
While most companies heavily invest in keeping customer relationships at a positive, many of them fail because of their inability to make their efforts customer-centric. That is when they focus more on trying a lot of cx service strategies that don’t necessarily work in their customer base.
Understand your customer, listen to them.
As we live in a technologically advanced world (well, relatively), where artificial intelligence (AI) can effectively tailor services to a customer based on its history and behavior, the way customers respond to companies have also changed. Right now, people also expect the same level of automation and customization as other services offer them.
Customers do not want generic treatment anymore. They want a service that is tailored to their needs and provide solutions specific to their problems.
Customers now want to have the ability to decide what channel to use for business communication; from phone and email to online chats and forums, SMS, and various social media platforms and apps. In fact, a study conducted by Microsoft revealed that 66% of American consumers actively use at least three different communication channels to contact businesses.
These small hints that customers drop to businesses and a company’s response is a make-or-break deal. This information has to be harmoniously collected by the company to provide the proper customization that customers crave. However, due to the complexity of technology, managers and businesses often get past behind.
Customers are well ahead of most businesses in this aspect; using new tools more quickly than companies can instantaneously adapt to get their customer service teams up to speed. But, even when companies do take these technologies, in hopes of serving their customers, they often fail to use the tools harmoniously. As a result, managers and businesses struggle to keep track of what customers are communicating across different platforms, which negatively affects the customer relationship.
Do not let your customers repeat themselves
There is nothing more frustrating than having to repeat yourself. That is why, studies have revealed that 63% of business professionals experience communication-related issues with their customers, colleagues, or team that stop them from achieving business goals at least once a week. This eventually led to losing their customers in the process.
Without the ability to understand your customers at first touch base, it’s easy for them to feel less valued. At the same time, it is also frustrating for businesses to not have relevant information about the prospective and existing customer journeys at their disposal.
A survey by The Northridge Group found that one-third of consumers say, customer service personnel, rarely or never know about their accounts. Half say the staff rarely or never know their history with the company. And, even more (54%) say customer service representatives rarely or never know the previous reasons they’ve contacted the company.
On the other hand, studies also suggest that adopting a holistic and customer-centric approach the company can deliver a more compelling message, resulting to reduced call center volume to reduced customer churn and reduction of operational spending.
What can you do?
In today’s business environment, in order to succeed, businesses should shift the focus from how consumers contact them to how the information they can collect from every contact used to transform their overall experience with the company.
MIT Sloan senior research scientist, Peter Weill, chair of the Center for Information Systems Research, has said that “to increase the quality of the customer experience using digitization dramatically usually does require fairly radical organizational surgery.” And, I couldn’t agree more.
Numerous technologies are available right now in the market. Managers and business owners should be able to find a tool that helps them with their communication needs. Digitizing their communication processes and using VoIP and artificial intelligence is one way to do it. /apr
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