How rational are Occupy protests? Are they right?

OccupyWhat began as an open call from Adbusters to show up with a tent grew from dozens to hundreds, to thousands, to tens of thousands spurred on by social media. Far from rejecting the extended sit-in, area businesses plied demonstrators with food and support. Those who could not make it to New York started their own hometown Occupy protests in solidarity, hundreds of them, across the country and around the world.

Occupy Wall Street protests have spread around the world, with a common slogan of “We are the 99%.” But there is a great deal of confusion and misperception about this movement.

In New York City, energy flowed into campaigns against police stop-and-frisk practices and to help victims of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy. Occupy experience put organisers in touch with community members normally scornful of ‘weirdos’ but resolved to fight corporate power. One experienced organizer, fresh from Occupy in Missouri, went on to help launch the Take Back St. Louis initiative, subtitled “Reclaiming our Tax Dollars for a Sustainable Future.”

The group gathered more than 22,000 signatures of registered voters, more than enough to put on to an April 2014 ballot a measure to “stop the city from giving tax breaks and other incentives to corporations that mine coal, gas and oil, and any corporation doing $1m of business with a mining company”; to “create a sustainable energy plan in the city that would invest public money in and open up land for renewable energy and sustainability initiatives like weatherisation programmes, urban farms and solar arrays”. In other words, to create sustainable jobs – against the retrograde claim that measures to halt global warming are ‘job-killers’.

As for the executives in corner offices and boardrooms around Wall Street and Canary Wharf, in state houses and Washington, are they relieved that the rabble were swept away? Do they believe that partial financial reforms will insulate them against risings to come? Beyond growing attention to public relations (probably a growth centre for future employment), are they mindful, as they make policy, that those who once awoke to fill the streets and parks may awaken again? Do they suspect, late at night, that youngsters in sleeping bags might turn out to be the modern equivalent of peasants with pitchforks?

Where have all the chanters gone; the gospel-minded Christians and the denouncers of ‘banksters’ and tyrants; the homeless and the indebted and unemployed who filled our urban squares in 2011-12, crying out such slogans as “We are the 99 percent” and “The people want the end of the regime”? Where are the leaderless revolutionaries who turned cities around the world upside down?

The simple answer is: they were dispersed. When the sometimes public parks were swept clear of troublemakers, many dispersed into a scatter of left-wing campaigns. Other activists now escort visitors around bare, fenced-off Zuccotti Park near Wall Street. In London, free bus tours with guides in top hats carry the curious around the City and Canary Wharf (“Make your very own ‘credit default swap’ and find out how to create money out of thin air!”).

Political rationality, if not fear, may well make elites more responsive. Rumblings on the Right are not the only noises emanating from Europe. The sparks that set Occupy on fire fell on inflammable tinder, and this is how history goes: one spark, then another, ignites a whole landscape. The Occupy ‘graduates’ hope that their time will come again. They might turn out to be wrong – until, one day, they’re right.

Do the Royals have influence over media and film?

royal influenceAt least 39 bills have been subject to Royal approval, with the senior royals using their power to consent or block new laws in areas such as higher education, paternity pay, and child maintenance.

Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, which includes land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, said the findings showed the Royals “are playing an active role in the democratic process”.

It shows the royals are playing an active role in the democratic process and we need greater transparency in parliament so we can be fully appraised of whether these powers of influence and veto are really appropriate. At any stage this issue could come up and surprise us and we could find parliament is less powerful than we thought it was.’

The power of veto has been used by Prince Charles on more than 12 government bills since 2005 on issues covering gambling to the Olympics.

So do the Royals have influence over media and film too?

Everyone remembers ‘The King’s Speech’

‘The King’s Speech’, a film about King George VI, sparked swooning adulation since opening at British cinemas. Towards the end, it hits all three fantasies at once: a humble speech therapist is forced to reveal that the king is his patient and friend, after his wife finds Queen Elizabeth at their dining table in a hat, pouring tea.

The film’s success was rooted as an interesting, little-known true story. Many younger Britons have only sketchy notions of George VI, perhaps knowing he reigned during the second world war and fathered the present monarch, Elizabeth II. The film shows a shy prince overcoming a bad stammer with the help of an unorthodox Australian therapist, Lionel Logue (who did exist), in time to ascend the throne after the abdication of his brother, Edward VIII. It breathes rare life into his wife, Elizabeth, later revered in the role of Queen Mother, a rather doll-like figure loved for smiling, waving, saying little in public and living to 101.

E!’s new original scripted series, The Royals, is ostensibly based on the lives of the British royal family. But the current Prince and Duchess of Cambridge, better known simply as William and Kate, are not making headlines every weekend for their heavy partying. Actually, they barely make headlines at all, and even the coverage in the UK is pretty subdued, largely limited to basic announcements about places where they made appearances and what Kate Middleton wears. Even Prince Harry, who’s better known for being a “crazy,” rebellious royal, is practically comatose compared to the characters on E!. But is anything from The Royals based on facts or influenced? Well, there are some elements that try to be somewhat close to the lives of the real royals

So what about media advertising, the power of association is widely known. Brands which have no direct link to something positive can benefit from an association to something the consumer loves or respects. The easiest way to do this is by simple repetition. The alliterative mantra ‘Queen and Country’ makes people believe there is something intrinsically patriotic about blindly supporting them, rather than daring to imagine a nation which stand on its own two feet and looks after itself.

To think that the Royals do not make arrangements with the press is I am sure not just a coincidence. The level of access some photographers, even apparently rogue ones, get is staggering. This is one of the richest families in the world with one of the world’s biggest powers protecting them. Being famous celebrities brings a form of power that is easy to underestimate until you see it close up. I will also feel that the Royals also have influence over media and film too.

Is Cyberbullying really necessary?

CyberBullyingCyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites.

Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumours sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.

Cell phones and computers themselves are not to blame for cyberbullying. Social media sites can be used for positive activities, like connecting kids with friends and family, helping students with school, and for entertainment. But these tools can also be used to hurt other people. Whether done in person or through technology, the effects of bullying are similar.

Kids who are cyberbullied are more likely to:

i.          Use alcohol and drugs

ii.          Skip school

iii.          Experience in-person bullying

iv.          Be unwilling to attend school

v.          Receive poor grades

vi.          Have lower self-esteem

vii.          Have more health problems

A new film called ‘Unfriended’ which details a group of online chat room friends find themselves haunted by a mysterious, supernatural force using the account of their dead friend.

Everything happens from the perspective of a teenage girl looking at her laptop and jumping from Skype to YouTube to Facebook and so on. It’s a gimmick that works better than it has any right to, and would feel fresher if “Modern Family” hadn’t wrung a lot of comedy out of it earlier this year.

Information regarding the dead girl’s traumatic past is subtly revealed in a chat window, as someone waffles about what she wants to say, typing and retyping the words until she finds a suitably cryptic explanation. The film trailor can be found here.

The protagonists of the film, who are participating in a group video chat on Skype, are haunted around the Web by a presumed-dead girl named Laura Barnes. Laura committed suicide under mysterious circumstances exactly one year before the day “Unfriended” is set, after she was mercilessly cyberbullied over an embarrassing video posted online.

In the UK, a reported 22% of children and young people claim to have been the target of cyberbullying making this one of the most important new areas of behaviour to understand and to equip schools, care-givers, and young people with the ability to respond.

There are organisations like ‘The Cybersmile Foundation’ which is a multi award-winning anti cyberbullying non-profit organisation. Committed to tackling all forms of digital abuse and bullying online, they work to promote diversity and inclusion by building a safer, more positive digital community.

Their mission is a simple one; we believe that everyone should be able to enjoy being part of the new connected online world. Regular and productive use of the Internet has become essential to a healthy social and personal development.

Through education and the promotion of positive digital citizenship organisations like The Cybersmile Foundation can reduce incidents of cyberbullying and through other professional help support victims and their families to regain control of their lives.

Unfortunately, cyberbullying and digital abuse is increasing, holding many back from enjoying the benefits that this connected community can provide. Our current online environment lacks the balance and social rules of engagement that have been cultivated over generations, governing the behavior and relationships in the communities where we live, play and work – the physical world.

Policing, monitoring and internet restrictions can only go so far, although useful additions to any internet safety policy, they are not adequate substitutes for a thorough understanding of cyberbullying and its related issues such as netiquette and emotional intelligence.

But what if that force were just other young, stupid people? Or what if it were a smart but ordinary human hacker, exploiting security holes in always-connected software those people depend on?

Its abundantly clear that disrupting with people and their lives online can have serious psychological consequences… not just in the now but for a very long time!

A founder’s problem to being CEO and succession planning

CEOEvery would-be entrepreneur wants to be a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs each of whom founded a large company and led it for many years. However, successful CEO-founders are a very rare breed in-deed.

When you look at start-up to IPO it is interesting to see that most founders give up management control long before companies go public.

Choosing money: A founder who gives up more equity to attract investors builds a more valuable company than one who parts with less—and ends up with a more valuable piece, too!

Harvard did a recent study that showed that by the time ventures were three years old, 50% of founders were no longer the CEO; in year four, only 40% were still in the corner office; and fewer than 25% led their companies’ initial public offerings. Other researchers have later found similar trends in various industries and in other time periods. We remember the handful of founder-CEOs in corporate America, but they’re the exceptions to the rule.

Further in the study it also showed that founders do not let go easily. Four out of five entrepreneurs,  are forced to step down from the CEO’s post. Most are shocked when investors insist that they relinquish control, and they’re pushed out of office in ways they don’t like and well before they want to abdicate. The change in leadership can be particularly damaging when employees loyal to the founder oppose it. In fact, how founders tackle their first leadership transition often makes or breaks young enterprises.

Leadership transitions in a business of any size can be influenced by and affect stakeholders. How each stakeholder perceives the process-and their role within it-will have an impact on outcomes. Perhaps the two stakeholders who often play the most central roles in this process are the incumbent, or controlling, CEO and his or her successor.

The transition from one CEO to another is a critical moment in a company’s history. A smooth transition is essential to maintain the confidence of investors, business partners, customer and employees, and provides the incoming CEO with a solid platform from which to move the company forward. A properly designed and executed succession plan is at the center of any successful transition.

CEO vacancies can be planned or unplanned; in either scenario, by the time a succession plan is needed it is far too late to start building one. Because of this, it is the responsibility of the board to make succession planning a priority, even in the face of more immediate and tangible issues. In addition to being necessary for risk mitigation, succession planning brings with it several beneficial by products:

Succession planning is usually directed by the governance or compensation committees, or occasionally a special ad hoc committee. The current CEO’s involvement varies (depending on whether the succession is planned or unexpected) with primary responsibility being the development of internal candidates. The Lead Director often acts as the single point of contact between the board and the sitting CEO on succession matters.

Some tips for the pre-planning are listed below:

i.          Create a written succession plan.

ii.          Conduct regular, in-depth reviews.

iii.          Compare the resulting list of capabilities against the firm’s senior talent pipeline.

iv.          Narrow the field to two or three finalists.

v.          Implementing The Plan

vi.          Assess the finalist candidates.

vii.          Finally, the board deliberates and makes its final decision.

Some tips across the successful transition:

1.      Begin intensive knowledge sharing.

2.      Communicate with stakeholders.

3.      Develop a written transition plan.

4.      Share the transition plan.

5.      Strengthen relationships with the board.

Overjoyed businessman with big bundle of dollarsManaging the CEO succession process is a board’s ultimate responsibility. A regularly reviewed and closely followed succession plan is essential to successfully exercise that responsibility. The costs of short-changing this process are easy to see when companies are caught off-guard by events; the payoff is reflected in the company’s momentum as it moves from one leader to the next. In addition, ongoing succession planning helps the board to be better informed and aligns the development of the senior management team with the strategic needs of the company. Beyond its usefulness in risk mitigation, CEO succession planning contributes to the successful governance and management of the firm long before a successor is needed.

Finally, choosing between money and power allows entrepreneurs to come to grips with what success means to them. Founders who want to manage empires will not believe they are successes if they lose control, even if they end up rich. Conversely, founders who understand that their goal is to amass wealth will not view themselves as failures when they step down from the top job. Once they realise why they are turning entrepreneur, founders must, as the old Chinese proverb says, ‘decide on three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time.’