Coworking, the Hot New Trend in Social Work Environments

SUJU at the Vault 7-26-2010 11s

A recent coworking event at The Vault

Deb Frey, Contributing Editor, Impact Lab: – Over the past decade I’ve served as the vice-president of the DaVinci Institute, a futurist think tank based in Louisville, Colorado. During this time I‘ve developed a great admiration for the geeky talents of our members, and have received a first-class education in the nerd sciences just from being around them.

In ten 10 years, I have gone from barely being on email, to an iPhone and iPad aficionado and the leader of a social networking experts group. Oddly enough, I’ve become the go-to girl for most tech-related issues.

So earlier this year when Thomas and I started talking about the concept of coworking, the idea instantly clicked. I knew from my own experience how powerful it was to hang out with brilliant people, and it just made sense that others would benefit if they had a similar opportunity.

Even though coworking has been around in various permutations for many years, the recent tech revolution has made it the workplace of choice for isolated telecommuters and solopreneurs wishing to work around kindred spirits. (Pics)

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Who are the Real Victims of the Financial Crisis?

By most accounts, those in or near retirement took the biggest hit from the bear market in 2008 and early 2009. When you take a step back, though, younger investors are in much greater danger of failing to reach their financial goals — and their prospects for the future are anything but certain.
A lifetime of investing
You’d expect that when comparing the impact of falling financial markets on various groups of investors, those who owned the most assets would have seen the worst results. Younger investors, most of whom haven’t been on the job long enough to accumulate a lot of wealth, didn’t have much to lose during the bear market. In contrast, retirees have all the money they’ll ever have saved up in their nest eggs, but they tend to invest more conservatively — a practice that protected them from the worst of the damage.
Those stuck in the middle, though — investors close to retirement, but not yet there — seem like the natural target. They have plenty of assets to lose, yet many still invest fairly aggressively in an effort to make that last push toward retirement.
As it turns out, those suspicions are correct, at least on their face. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College recently examined the experiences of investors of different ages. In raw dollar losses, no group of investors did worse than those about to retire. In particular, the study found that those aged 55-64 lost roughly $1 trillion in the market meltdown, when you consider both IRAs and employer 401(k) accounts.
Those numbers reflect how things looked in March 2009. Since then, the recovery in stocks has boosted many of those accounts well back toward their former levels.
Charmed lives?
What’s more interesting, though, is the overall experience that various investors have had throughout the course of their lives. The study takes a look at the internal rates of return that investors of various ages have earned, based on the timing and amounts they invested. Although the oldest members of the baby boom generation got hurt the most over the past two years, they’ve actually enjoyed relatively strong returns on their lifetime investments — about 9% annually.
In contrast, younger investors haven’t done nearly as well. “Late” boomers — those born around 1960 — have only earned between 5% and 7%, depending on their mix of investments. Generation X investors who had all of their money in stocks have just barely broken even.
When you consider all the bull markets that older investors have seen during their lives, those return disparities make sense. During the 1980s, the stock market boomed out of a long recession, with stocks like IBM (NYSE: IBM), Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG), and ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) all posting multibagger gains despite the short-lived effects of the 1987 stock market crash.
Then, by the 1990s, many of today’s near-retirees had more than enough money set aside to take full advantage of the bull market in tech stocks. Returns of 5,000% or more from stocks including Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), Dell (Nasdaq: DELL), and Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) were more than enough to offset losses from investing in riskier ventures.
Meanwhile, those who came along later arrived just in time to see those trends reverse themselves. Many tech stocks flamed out, and although growth leaders like Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) put up impressive numbers during the past decade, the bull market from 2003 to 2007 merely gave most investors a chance to buy high in advance of the most recent collapse.
What’s to come
In order to make up for lost time, younger investors have to hope that future returns are high enough to bring them the results they want. Yet many are warning investors not to expect the returns that the past several decades have brought to today’s near-retirees. Although the terrible performance over the past 10 years has many believing that the worst is over for the market, you can’t count on stocks reverting to the mean with a decade of strong outperformance.
As unfair as it may seem, there’s nothing that says that you’re entitled to those historical 10% returns on stocks going forward. The best financial plans make allowances for the possibility that future returns will be more modest than what we’ve seen in the past. If things turn out brighter than that, it can then be merely a pleasant surprise, rather than something you’re counting on. That’s the best way for younger investors to avoid becoming ongoing victims of 1998’s market meltdown.

7 Victims of the Financial Crisis 366

Those in or near retirement took the biggest hit

By most accounts, those in or near retirement took the biggest hit from the bear market in 2008 and early 2009. When you take a step back, though, younger investors are in much greater danger of failing to reach their financial goals — and their prospects for the future are anything but certain.

Continue reading… “Who are the Real Victims of the Financial Crisis?”

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Admission Trends at European Business Schools

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The desire to become an entrepreneur, is up 25% from the previous year

From rising numbers of applicants to more students eyeing entrepreneurship and social responsibility, here are the key trends shaping Europe’s MBA programs
Javier Muñoz, admissions director at IESE in Barcelona, is looking to expand the school’s class size by adding a fourth stream to its full-time MBA. “Applications have been very strong this year,” Muñoz says.
The increase IESE is seeing in demand for MBA degrees is happening worldwide—and particularly benefiting European business schools. The QS World MBA Tour reported an overall 5% increase in attendance numbers in 2009 over the previous year, while most European B-schools have reported increases of 10% or more in their number of applications.
Peter Rafferty, MBA director at Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School in Belgium, has been able to double his class size in the past 12 months on the back of a 100% jump in applications. St. Gallen in Switzerland has seen a 100% growth in its part-time executive MBA program, alongside strong growth in its full-time MBA program—with applications coming from across Europe. And in the U.K., Philippa Hain of the London Business School’s admissions team also reports strong application numbers, while the lesser-known Westminster Business School has had to wait-list applicants for the first time for its full-time MBA, according to its admissions manager, Agata Mazurkiewicz.
What’s behind this resounding growth in demand for MBA studies at European schools?
REDIRECTING CAREERS
The financial crisis has certainly shaken out professionals in financial services, encouraging them to change career paths. Santiago Iniguez, dean of IE Business School, argues that “the MBA remains a transformational experience, a hub where participants can retrain.” Among 2009 attendees of the QS World MBA Tour in Europe, 18% came with a finance background, compared with 14% in 2008. The one-year duration of most European MBAs, combined with the fact that the schools tend to cater to a slightly older cohort of candidates than their U.S. counterparts, have made them quite attractive to people seeking new careers.
Career insecurity also has encouraged young professionals from a broad range of industries to seek an MBA as a safe haven, using the recession as a period to “reskill” and prepare for opportunities in the future. Usually MBA applications start to slacken at the beginning of an economic recovery. But in 2010 many young professionals have decided that to be equipped for a new business era, an MBA degree may be a prerequisite for success. As a result, applicant demand is more robust than at the same stage in previous business cycles. “Business remains the hottest ticket in higher education, with the widest career opportunities,” says IE’s Iniguez.
One trend in the past 12 months is especially noteworthy: A growing number of people appear to be rejecting traditional corporate career paths in favor of entrepreneurial pursuits. An MBA is an obvious way to jump-start that process. Asked their reasons for attending business school, 30% of attendees of the QS World MBA Tour identified a desire to become an entrepreneur, up from 25% the previous year. Many European B-schools have established strong reputations for fostering entrepreneurs or entrepreneurially-minded managers, including Cranfield, EM Lyon, IE, IESE, Imperial, Insead, LBS, Manchester, and RSM.
GOOD CITIZENS, TOO
Socially responsible careers are another objective that’s increasing in popularity, to the benefit of European schools that have built CSR into their curricula. Some 11% of QS World MBA Tour attendees expressed an interest in socially responsible careers, compared with just 6% a year ago. “A significant number of IE alumni are exploring business opportunities in fields such as biotechnology, renewable energies, or ‘green’ industries,” says the school’s Iniguez. “Today we live in a new business environment where business schools are challenged to prepare not just good financial engineers or management technicians, but primarily entrepreneurs who are at the same time good citizens.”
Another big change has been the proportion of international students at business schools who are actively looking to return home or develop careers in emerging markets. A few years ago, an international MBA was a route to a new life overseas—most commonly in the U.S. or Britain, which were the two most popular career destinations. Now, with tightening work permit requirements in the U.S., international MBAs are instead looking to return home to take advantage of burgeoning opportunities there.
Professor Mauro Guillen at the Wharton School in Philadelphia notes that “a higher percentage [of graduates], perhaps as many as two out of every three, are returning to work in their home countries, or in emerging markets, rather than staying in the U.S.” European business schools are capitalizing on easier visa requirements in their countries to attract international MBAs determined to stay and work abroad in their country of study.
At the same time, European business schools are appealing to “return-homers.” They are emphasizing their highly international student mix (at many, more than 90% of the students are international) and their ability to teach international business practices while providing an internationally dispersed alumni network. All of these factors can provide powerful career advantages for those seeking to exploit the rapid growth of China, South East Asia, Latin America, and other emerging economies.
Via BusinessWeek

From a rising number of applicants to more students eyeing entrepreneurship and social responsibility, here are the key trends shaping Europe’s MBA programs.

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Major Changes Reshaping the Fashion Industry

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The $300-billion fashion business is in the midst of an epic shake-up that is changing the way clothes are designed, marketed and purchased. The Internet — the same force that has splintered the media and music industries — is challenging the taste-making role of the fashion elite, a shift that is being accelerated by the rise of cheap chic and a recession that has blunted more-is-more spending.
In turn, many retail businesses, confronted by changing spending patterns, are becoming less brand-centric and more consumer-centric. And the logic of the runway shows — now underway in New York and scheduled next month in Milan and Paris — is being questioned by some of the top names in the business, who understand that shoppers don’t want to wait six months between seeing designer clothes on the runway and being able to buy them in stores.
“It’s the first time I can remember this kind of shift in the fashion paradigm,” said David Wolfe, creative director of the Doneger Group, a New York trend forecasting firm. “The flashy addictive fashion [is] becoming less and less relevant to people’s lives.”
What’s more relevant, it seems, are shopkeepers who keep the customer in mind and instant access to style and fashion advice provided by the Internet.
Not only does the Internet allow the convenience of shopping any time, anywhere, it’s also a platform for a new generation of style arbiters who can dictate trends from their living rooms.
Aggregator websites let shoppers sift through styles and compare prices from dozens of online stores at once. Shopstyle, for example, offers cross-shopping by brand or search term at www.shopstyle.com and sends personalized e-mails with sale alerts. Covet ( www.covet.com) edits styles shown to individuals based on a questionnaire about preferences for color and silhouette. MyShape lets users input their measurements (www.myshape.com) and shop only for the items that fit their size and style profile.
And for those who can’t be bothered to sit in front of a computer, mobile technology is making it possible to shop from the palm of your hand, which is why fashion designers are rushing to launch their own iPhone applications.
The result of all this interactivity is that there is more information than ever about fashion.
Runway looks, traditionally shown to buyers and the media six to eight months before they land in stores, can be seen online minutes after a designer shows them, worn by celebrities days later, and knocked off soon after that. Which means that sharp-shoulder silhouette that came down the Balmain runway in Paris in March was available at the mall long before the designer original arrived, and at a fraction of the price.
As trends seem to travel at warp speed, fashion magazines such as Vogue and Elle, which have traditionally been looked to for guidance on style, are struggling. The September issues, typically the biggest of the year, are nearly a third slimmer than last year’s. Ad pages in Vogue decreased 36%, to 429.
Some of that money is moving to the Internet. Louis Vuitton North America more than doubled its digital ad spending in 2008, to $286,000, from $107,000 in 2007, according to TNS Media, a New York-based firm that monitors advertising spending in media.
And why not? The Internet makes it possible not only to read about fashion but to participate in it. The use of sites that enable users to create their own fashion spreads, share photos of themselves in different outfits and elicit wardrobe advice from their peers is skyrocketing.
“Between new technology and the economy, the fashion industry will never be the same,” New York designer Norma Kamali said. “It makes you stand back and say, ‘If I continue doing what I’m doing, I may not stay in business.’ It’s time to rethink and look at what’s working and what’s not.”
One tradition that’s being rethought is the semiannual New York runway show, which typically costs a designer $200,000 to $300,000 to mount. In July, the Council of Fashion Designers of America held a meeting in New York City where the relevance of fashion shows was discussed, along with their exclusivity (they are not open to the public).
It was a spirited debate that drew big names, including designers Diane von Furstenberg (who also serves as the council’s president), Donna Karan, Betsey Johnson, Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler, and Vogue editor Anna Wintour.
“We spend so much money on shows, but what is it getting us?” Karan said at the meeting.
“Maybe there can be a fashion week that says ‘trade’ and another one that says ‘shop.’ ” Von Furstenberg suggested.
Some designers are testing alternatives.
For the first time, on Thursday, Kamali will be showing clothes during New York Fashion Week that are available to purchase not six months from now, but on the spot.
“The fashion shows used to be such an elite situation, only for editors and very special buyers,” Kamali said.
“Then it opened up and became more of a celebrity-type event. Now there is no elite anymore. You don’t have to be in the same country to see a runway show. Everybody can see it as soon as it’s over on the Internet.” Kamali also plans to launch an iPhone application that will allow customers to buy from her signature line, a second line for EBay priced under $200 and her mass market Wal-Mart line.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles’ Jared Gold is bypassing the fashion week format altogether and taking his runway collection directly to the consumer with a whistle-stop tour sponsored by Amtrak, among others. The clothes will be available for sale at his events, which begin in November.
By combining the runway and retail, Gold is creating a unique shopping experience, something that is all too rare today, experts say. Retail sales at stores have declined 7% in the last year, and industry observers say that they must reinvent the shopping experience, and enhance it with entertainment and technology, or risk going under.
The global strategy of branding and merchandising that has dominated the luxury sector for the last decade is falling away in favor of more authentic, localized experiences. Luxury brands are borrowing ideas from the fast-fashion world — opening pop-up shops, launching limited-edition collections, even mixing it up with the mass market.
Shoppers are “accustomed to having new styles in the stores all the time, and this is forcing luxury brands to be more similar to Zara and H&M in the way they emphasize newness, entertainment and the in-store experience,” said Claudia D’Arpizio, a business consultant for market research firm Bain & Co.
“The retail industry has gotten lackadaisical,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for Port Washington, N.Y.-based market research firm NPD Group. “It went through eight years of uninterrupted growth, where you could just stick it on the floor and it would sell because the customer wasn’t thinking about what they were spending money on. But the rules have changed, and you have to earn your stripes again. And price isn’t the only answer.
“Now retail is going through experiential growth mode,” Cohen continued. “You are going to hear about wine and cheese parties, football Sundays, women’s Tupperware parties for panties. It will be about creating a social atmosphere and an educational experience” in stores, he said.
Which is why menswear designer John Varvatos, who turned the famous punk rock club CBGB into a retail store in New York City’s Bowery neighborhood last year, is duplicating the experience in Las Vegas. He recently opened a version of the Bowery boutique in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, complete with a stage for rock performances, vintage vinyl records and audio equipment for sale alongside $2,000 suits.
Shoppers are looking to TV and movies for style guidance as well, and Hollywood is trying to cash in. Fashion has gone from being esoteric high art (couture) to pop culture, the subject of TV shows, movies and websites. It’s no wonder the Bravo TV channel is getting into the handbag business, with styles created exclusively for its “NYC Prep” series that viewers can purchase online. Talent agency William Morris Endeavor Entertainment recently signed designing duo Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, with an eye toward developing publishing projects and product collaborations for them.
Even “American Idol” creator Simon Fuller is getting in on the action, by investing in designers such as Roland Mouret and launching Fashionair, a hybrid fashion entertainment and e-commerce website (www.fashionair.com) featuring video programming taped around the world and edited at Fuller’s 19 Entertainment Ltd. studios in London. Like “American Idol,” and unlike most fashion magazines, the site aims to be inclusive, giving users a voice.
“In any jungle it’s survival of the fittest,” says Wolfe, the trend analyst.
“Some people will be left behind. But in the long run this will be healthy for the fashion business.”
Via LA Times

The $300-billion fashion business is in the midst of an epic shake-up that is changing the way clothes are designed, marketed and purchased. The Internet — the same force that has splintered the media and music industries — is challenging the taste-making role of the fashion elite, a shift that is being accelerated by the rise of cheap chic and a recession that has blunted more-is-more spending.  (Pics)

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Second Leading Cause of Accidental Deaths in the US – Poisons

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2nd biggest unintentional killer in the US

At least in the United States the second biggest unintentional injury killer (leaving aside murders and suicides) is poisons. Deaths caused by car accidents are now down to only 34k per year, not all that much higher than the 23k unintentional poison deaths. Here are what you need to know about poisons.

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