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November 2016

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 nov 2016

Philanthropic giving continued to thrive in US and exceeded US$ 373 billion in 2015. Educational institutions got 12.86% (US$ 48 billion) of the total. As public funding to education gets reduced, colleges and universities are realigning strategic objectives and development goals to suit the funding priorities for donors and organizations. Donors have their own criteria to determine the funding goals that make an impact. According to Charles Koch, businessman and philanthropist, 'It is simply identifying organizations which want to make life better by empowering free will and enterprise. I decided that I wanted to give as many people as possible ideas so that they could transform their lives. That's been my motivation.' Michael Lomax, President and CEO of UNCF.org, recently shared his views on the potential for social modeling between UNCF and Charles Koch Foundation, and their US$ 29 million partnership for tuition assistance and career development. He says, 'The success of this program lies in our shared vision that a mind - and a life - is a terrible thing to waste. It is why our partnership's ultimate goal is to give students the opportunity to explore the values and skills of an entrepreneur, and better understand how an entrepreneurial mindset will benefit both them and their communities.' Nicholas Perkins, Founder and CEO of Perkins Management Services Inc, explains about his support to Howard University, 'Anytime that a minority company has an opportunity to partner with an historically black institution, that partnership should be the base from which growth and progress for that particular campus comes. So we always try to fit ourselves into that puzzle.' Educational institutions often find funding success by proactively tapping into the goodwill of graduates and stakeholders. Miami University of Ohio invested a substantial amount from its fundraising campaign towards enhancing academic programming in media studies, writing and gerontology. It launched 'Miami Plan', a 36-credit hour course mandate for all students to be immersed in and appreciative of the impact of liberal arts across all career paths. Gregory Crawford, President of Miami University of Ohio, says, 'For me, people don't expect a physicist to have such a passion for the liberal arts, but it had such a big impact on my life, my leadership style and my interests. I couldn't be more enthusiastic in sharing how it helped me to learn about human flourishing and in thinking more holistically, which was super important to me in the physics world.' He adds, 'Many of our own alums and donors understand the value of the education provided to them, and they love what we're doing with the Miami plan, so they freely invest in that vision.' Read on...

Education Dive: What inspires people, corporations to give to higher education?
Author: Jarrett Carter


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 nov 2016

Local climate conditions and natural environment defines the efficiency, effectiveness and aesthetics of landscape design. Arizona's (USA) climate is charecterized by abundance of sunlight throughout the year with warm days, refreshing night and dry air. Therefore, outdoor living spaces are given extra importance by residents. To cater to this requirement, and provide comfort and functionality, architects and landscape designers are giving special emphasis to trends observed by CreativeEnvironments.com - (1) Sustainability: Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) considers sustainability as one of the leading trends of 2016; Water-starved state like Arizona, with twenty year of draught, has more relevance; Xeriscaping; Use of native, draught-tolerant, desert-adaptive plants; Grouping plants based on their water consumption; Rainwater harvesting; Use of rain barrels to capture water flowing off the roof; Designs can include contours like depressions, berms, or basins that collect rainwater; Edible gardens with native plants. (2) Indoor Comforts: Extending the comforts of indoors to backyards; Outdoor living spaces like kitchens, seating areas, fireplaces etc; Use of technology like WiFi, TV sets, irrigation controlling advanced systems; Energy-efficient LED lighting. (3) Modern Design: Modern landscape design includes a minimalist approach to planting, as well as geometric pools and patios that are defined by straight lines and right angles. These are a natural match for desert environment that is generally admired for stark beauty, simplicity, and clean lines. The austerity of modern design allows nature to take center stage, accentuating rather than distracting from the beauty of the surroundings. Read on...

AZ Big Media: Top landscape design trends harness the beauty of Arizona
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 nov 2016

Research by Prof. Ali Besharat of University of Denver, 'The Effect of Review Valence and Variance on Product Evaluations: An Examination of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Cues' (Other authors - Ryan Langan of University of San Francisco; Sajeev Varki of University of South Florida), explores how the rating and variance in reviews affect the decision process. Researchers find that the nature of products, a product's brand, reviewers' credibility, and the structure of online customer reviews all significantly impact consumer decision-making and, subsequently, a company's bottom line in terms of sales. According to Prof. Besharat, 'In the case of high online review variance, we find that when brand equity is high - Nike for example - then reviewer credibility does not influence consumers' purchase intentions. But when a consensus among reviews exists (low variance), reviewer credibility emerges as a significant diagnostic cue.' Another research by Prof. Ana Babić Rosario of University of Denver, 'The Effect of Electronic Word of Mouth on Sales: A Meta-Analytic Review of Platform, Product and Metric Factors' (Other authors - Francesca Sotgiu of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; Kristine De Valck of HEC Paris; Tammo H.A. Bijmolt of University of Groningen), confirms Prof. Besharat's findings and demonstrates that a wide variance in consumer opinions has a detrimental effect on product sales. According to Prof. Rosario, 'The reason why variability of reviews can harm sales more than negativity is that electronic world of mouth, in theory, is a way for consumers to reduce risk and uncertainty, which does not happen when other consumers' feedback is highly inconsistent.' Prof. Rosario's findings should be of interest to product and platform managers, internet and social media monitoring agencies. Read on...

University of Denver News: What Brand and Marketing Managers Need to Know About Online Customer Reviews; How They Influence Purchase Decisions
Author: Amy Jacobson


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 nov 2016

One of the ways in which health systems, particularly in the resource-starved developing countries, can improve is by applying concepts that make social enterprises successful. Health systems serving the most vulnerable, bottom of the pyramid market, can learn from social enterprises that make challenging markets work better. Yasmin Madan, global marketing director at Population Services International (PSI), explains in an interview with Lizzie Cohen, that adapting the model of a social enterprise can ensure a more sustainable health system that continues beyond donor funding. She says, 'Any successful business has the consumer right at the center as its main audience and it generates value for the consumer as well as the market.' According to Ms. Madan, 'Social enterprises by addressing failures, by putting consumers at the center, by generating value, are strengthening health systems, or put simply - making markets work better.' Read on...

devex: The evolution of health systems - Service providers as social enterprise
Authors: Lizzie Cohen, Jacques Jimeno, Julie Espinosa


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 06 nov 2016

Organizations should continue to seek innovation to stay relevant and competitive. Achieving continuous innovation is challenging and organizations have to create an innovation-driven culture as a long-term strategy to sustain it. Manoj Vig, Enterprise Architect at Shire Pharmaceuticals, shares his views on innovation, how to establish innovation teams and what should be done to ensure innovation success - (1) Organizational DNA: Innovation is neither a project nor a process, it needs to be part of organizational DNA; Focus on teams and groups. (2) Collaboration is important: Collaborative environment helps innovation to sustain and succeed in innovation; Collaboration develops and refines innovative ideas. (3) Find zoom out team members: Include members with diverse set of skills and competencies, and those who can zoom out to get a bigger picture. (4) Innovation teams and performance engines: Innovation teams are necessary to provide performance teams to work better. Better coordination and partnership between the two for seamless and continuous innovation. (5) A crazy man's idea: Nurture ideation in organizations even though ideas may initially seem difficult or impossible; Encourage sharing and free flow of ideas. (6) Glocalization and reverse innovation: Innovation teams should learn from these concepts and seek out what has been successfully done as a prlect for a specific use case at one place and reconfigure it for a larger user base within the organization. (7) Innovation catalysts and champions: Look for innovation catalysts that will become part of a dedicated team and then find innovation champions within existing and potential user communities to work with catalysts to solidify the innovation-based culture thinking within the organization. (8) Don't worry, be crappy: As Guy Kawasaki once said the phrase to make a point that when something is done to be radically different and better, waiting for perfection is not a good strategy; Deliver products and services quickly and without fear of failure. Such products/services can be tagged as beta or in incubation for user awareness. This helps engage with users early, set the right level of expectations and create a positive feedback loop. (9) Don't just focus on problems: Solving current problems with users provide quick wins and credibility boosters and must be used by innovation teams to expand their focus and work towards identification of opportunities for users that did not exist before; Focus on creating new opportunities and disrupting current ways of doing things. Read on...

icrunchdata: 9 Tips to Establish Innovation Teams
Author: Manoj Vig


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 nov 2016

There is always a difference of opinion when it comes to whether entrepreneurship is an inherent trait or it can be taught and learned. Both sides seem to have reasonable examples to justify their perspective. For those who value the concept of entreprenuership in business or are contemplating to tread entrepreneurial path, here are some good reads - (1) 'Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish' by Rashmi Bansal (2) 'Creativity Inc.' by Ed Catmull (3) 'Zero to None' by Blake Masters and Peter Thiel (4) 'Business Start Up 101' by Chris Gattis (5) 'The Four Hour Work Week' by Timothy Ferriss (6) 'How To Win Friends And Influence People' by Dale Carnegie (7) 'The Life and Business Lessons of Warren Buffett' by George Ilian (8) 'The Fountain Head' by Ayn Rand (9) 'Think and Grow Rich' by Napoleon Hill. Read on...

Entrepreneur: 9 Must Read Books on Entrepreneurship
Author: Saumya Kaushik



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