If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?

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I remember hearing this phrase for the first time. It was about 20 years ago when teens were trying to be smart arses. I’ve heard it used many times since then. By consultants, speakers and managers trying to make a point or get peoples attention. I got reminded of this again recently when I read an article, The Surprisingly noisy death of an iceberg – National Geographic. I thought about something I threw in the garbage last week whilst I was out. I was in a mall and had a paper coffee cup. I couldn’t see any recycling bins around and thought about all the trash that could have been recycled but would end up in a landfill. When we’re at home, although we know we should recycle, certain items might end up in the trash can just because we’re too lazy to give them a rinse and separate them. Just because no one can see you recycling or not, doesn’t mean the effects of your actions won’t have an effect on the environment. I have a friend who is the owner of D Grade Clothing, a company that makes clothing out of recycled plastic bottles. His PR firm post some interesting facts on his Facebook page. One of these posts stated that every one million plastic bottles recycled eliminates 180 metric tons of carbon emissions… I read somewhere else that if New York’s population were to all recycle their Sunday papers, you would save 500,000 trees a week. If the entire population of the United Kingdom were to recycle one extra bottle a week, you would save enough energy to power  71,000 plasma TV screens for an entire year!
So, coming back to my point. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it still make a noise? Of course it does. If you recycle that bottle when no one is watching, it really does make a different. Re-using a sheet of paper, recycling a can, finding alternative uses for  items you no longer need or use. Let’s all try to do our bit and be a little bit more conscious of how we discard our trash and make as loud a noise as possible, even when people aren’t looking or around to see.

Do it right.

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I remember a story my father used to tell me when I was a child. My grandfather, whom I never met as he died 7 years before I was born, was the most famous Meyhane (Cypriot Pub with live entertainment), in Cyprus. As a young boy, his father would send him to run errands to pick things up from the market. On one occasion, my grandfather had given him some money to go and buy some glasses. Before he sent him on his way, he gave my father a few smacks to which my father cried “What For?”. My grandfather then turned round affectionately and said “Son, if you break the glasses on your way home, it would be pointless of me punishing you as there would be nothing we could do to get back the glasses. This way, it will be in your mind not to mess around on your way back and bring them home in one piece”.  It sounds a lot more philosophical and wise in Turkish but I guess the English language equivalent would be “no use in crying over spilt milk”. 
 
I always thought it was a funny story. Not because it was humorous but more because the thought of my grandfather tanning my father’s butt was amusing. As I’ve grown up and am responsible for more than 70 people, I sometimes wish I could smack their bottoms but that would be a pretty weird way for someone to run their business. I’m chuckling at the thought of it now. After the morning meeting, a line of unruly or inefficient staff line up for a spanking. 
 
Coming back to the point. This story and other proverbs repeated a million times from family members resonate in my mind on a daily basis. They affect the way I make decisions. My ethics and morals. If you’re going to do a job, do it right. I look around me and see so many things done half heartedly. People will recycle half heartedly, conserve energy half heartedly, support charitable organizations half heartedly, love their partners half heartedly. If you’re going to do something, do it right. It always comes back to bite you in the butt in the end if you don’t. If you try to cut corners, as I have done many times in the past due to financial constraints, it has always ended up costing me more in the long run because the job I tried to have done on the cheap was something that was unusable and had to be done again by a professional. Moral of the story, DO IT RIGHT! I can’t stress this enough. Please, look after your environment. Recycle all the materials that you can. Use less water. Turn off lights. Do good deeds. Volunteer. Eat less meat. Do more exercise. Have more fun. Love more. Enjoy your life. Doing things half heartedly isn’t going to get you anyway. Enjoy your time here but at the same time, make sure you leave it in good shape for others to enjoy and reap the benefits of too. Leave a legacy. Leave a memory. Do it right. 

How Much Mileage Are You Getting Out Of Your Marketing Spend?

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As an eco-friendly business, I always have to look at how sustainable the company’s operating processes and procedures are. I look at consumption of products, fuel, how often tools or machinery need to replaced or repaired. I even look into the processes and procedures of my suppliers to make sure that they meet the company’s minimum requirements to become our supplier. I know this is a bit anal but, think about it. What’s the point of buying eco or organic if the product has a higher carbon footprint than buying it’s non-eco alternative produced locally? It defeats the purpose.

Recently, I decided it was time to use the same method when calculating the company’s marketing spend. We haven’t really had a set budget and have been giving away products, services and committing to financial sponsorship and advertising spends. Looking back, 90% of our marketing was in vain or maybe a better phrase would be “pissing against the wind”. Being someone of a generous nature and finding it very difficult to say no to people, I was sometimes left with commitments of supporting others with products giveaways or services worth thousands for them to give to their customer base. In return, I would get a logo or mention or sometimes, people would forget what they promised and we’d get almost no coverage for going out of our way to support them when in reality, we could barely support ourselves. In short, if I was looking at it from a sustainability perspective, it would be the biggest polluting factor in our business. This year, we have changed our marketing strategy slightly and now no longer support or sponsor willy nilly. We have decided to make some long term sponsorships of sporting events (Emirates American Football League), Product & Service giveaways for competitions in magazines over the course of the year with a clear instruction of data retention for leads as well as some of our charity & CSR initiatives which we feel very strongly about. Other than that, everything else is a bad investment with bad mileage. So, if you’re reading this and thinking of hitting me up for sponsorship, unless you have a sporting event or a youth program, save yourself the time and effort and find a larger company that can afford to throw money away. This business is green in its morals and its marketing.

When do you get your best ideas?

People look at me weird when I tell them that I wake up at 5:30 each morning to walk my dogs before it gets too hot. It gives me lots of time to get back home and jump in the pool with my son or spend some quality time with him in bed. Before I had pets and a child, I would wake up at around the same time to go running or cycling or to tinker around. It generally doesn’t matter if I’m hung over either, I guess my years juggling work with hedonism ingrained some form of auto-pilot mechanism that allows me to function on little or no sleep. That’s not to say that it doesn’t catch up with me once in a while. Keeping all that in mind, I’m actually a night owl. I hate mornings. I like dark, cold silence. It allows me to think. Growing up, I never went to sleep early. I would hate waking up in the mornings, except for Saturdays. I would be up at the crack of dawn and tiptoe downstairs and watch cartoons until my parents woke up and made breakfast before rushing off to the park to play until it got dark. My parents as well as my uncles had restaurants. As a teenager, the weekend would consist of working in them until early hours of the morning. Now, I usually pass out by 10:30 because I’m exhausted. I still hate mornings. I can’t function right. I need coffee, it takes me half an hour to get from the bed to the bathroom and then downstairs to put the dogs in the car. I hate mornings.

I do a lot of my thinking at night. It keeps me awake. Sometimes, I can go to bed voluntarily at 9:30 but toss and turn with thoughts rushing through my mind. They don’t go away either unless I do something about them. I have to get up and go and work. write a blog or draw up a spreadsheet. Amend a business plan or even worse, write a new one. It drives my wife crazy because she wakes up in the night to find me gone. Even now, it’s 1am. I’ve been trying to sleep for hours and I can’t. I’m excited. I’m calculating and forecasting and thinking of how I can do more. I’m thinking of my staff. Their salaries. Their wellbeing. I’m thinking of news ways to be sustainable and efficient. Less wasteful. I’m thinking of customer complaints that came in this week and how we can reduce them in the coming week. It’s mind blowing how my mind fights me every time I ask it politely to leave me alone. Sometimes, I can be asleep and I wake up with an idea. Actually, thinking about it in all seriousness, some of my best ideas come when I’m asleep. Like the one I had last year for my laundry business. I’ll explain more so you get it and we’ll come back to the point. That’s the other pitfall/blessing of ideas rushing through your mind. You end up going off on tangents.

I have to admit, I’m extremely lucky and blessed to be living in an amazing, palatial home. I have lived in many a large and beautiful villa during my time in Dubai but I’ve also lived in an apartment block. I had been thinking for a few months on how I could increase the number of laundry clients my business had. I have maids who work in apartment buildings but never more than 6 or 7 in each building and not always on the same day. Some of these buildings have as many as 400 apartments. There were so many potential customers that I wasn’t making the most of. I was stuck. It would be costly and stupid to try and open a laundry at the bottom of each building. The investment would be astronomical and wouldn’t make sense. Staff, rent, utilities, fit out cost and God knows what else. One night, in my sleep, I must have dreamt it because I woke up and uttered the words “Drop Box’. I pictured it in my mind. Hell, I dreamt that I used it. That very night, I got up and went down to the kitchen where I drew a picture of it in a notebook. What is it? Well, I’ve attached a picture for you to see but to make it easy for you to understand, if you live in an apartment building and come home through the lobby or through the parking garage, you grab a laundry bag and a set of bill sheets and go up to your apartment. In the comfort of your own home, you fill out the bill sheet and put your items into the bag, very much like a hotel. That evening or even the next day, when you’re leaving to go to work, you take your bag and drop it in the box. We come and collect it that afternoon and then once it’s done, we deliver it directly to your door at the time you’ve specified on the sheet. It’s quite simple actually but genius, even if I say so myself.

Now, like mentioned earlier, I have many an idea in my dreams. Some of them are awful and others are fantastic. Some are related to business and sometimes, they’re for personal amusement. I do a lot of my thinking at night. Rather than suppress that, I have learned to nurture it and allow it to take its course. You can force a great idea. It has to simmer in your subconscious until it’s ready to give you that ‘light bulb’ moment. It’s not always going to be perfect but you can refine it, pass it around and get feedback on it. The main thing is to leave yourself open to those moments. Even if it means losing sleep or waking up early. Maybe it might interfere with your duties at work if your ‘special time’ is three in the afternoon. Some people do their best thinking when they run, some when they’re sat on the toilet, whenever it is, enjoy that time. I truly believe it’s when you’re most relaxed that your brain does its best work.

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Tesla shows off battery swap tech [video]

Gigaom

Electric car maker Tesla Motors (s TSLA) swapped out the batteries of two of its Model S electric cars on stage during an event at its design studio near Los Angeles on Thursday night. The demonstration was created to show that swapping out a battery of one of the Model S cars can take 90 seconds, or considerably less time than it takes to stop for gas in a gas-powered traditional car.

During the event Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that Tesla plans to provide battery swap options at some point at its Supercharger stations, which will eventually be called “Tesla Stations.” The choice for the customer will be “free” (the electricity from the Supercharger is free) “or fast” (the 90-second battery swap), said Musk during the event.

While I wasn’t able to attend the battery swap demo in person, what isn’t clear about Tesla’s battery swap tech is how…

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