Who will be the Kraft foods for the emerging middle class? And how must they be different?

The middle class in emerging economies is growing by leaps and bounds. McKinsey has some pretty huge numbers estimating the size of this market.

Furthermore, they quote a study saying that the 1925 market leaders – at the time the European and American middle classes grew like this – were still the leaders at the end of the century.

A huge opportunity for business in other words. However it is also a huge opportunity for a change in the patterns of consumption. It is arguably a large, affluent middle class t puts the largest pressures on for example environment, health care, etc. (the rich are too few to matter). Only if we manage to grow the emerging middle with a different set of behaviors (public transport, less meat, sustainable travel) will this not be a huge threat.

Hopefully the Kraft Foods of the emerging middle will have a completely different set of desirable behaviors to sell.

http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/newsletters/chartfocus/2010_09.htm

Is there a soul?

Well, at least the notion of a one, unified, mind doesn’t seem to hold
much ground.

Read about it here:
http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/from_divided_minds_a_specious_soul/

Facilitation: 5 rules to live by

Here are some great tips for people just getting into group facilitation (and also for people who have been a while to just have on top of their minds!). 

My only gripe with the list is the use of negatives – trying to remember "not to do" something is a lot harder than remembering what to do. 
  1. Trust the Process 
  2. Don't talk too much (or maybe: Talk only when you truly have the right intention to do so)
  3. Don't try and make a 2 hour session into a 3 day workshop (or maybe: Spend only the amount of time needed for the theme, and limit your content to what is truly relevant)

Read the full list here: 

http://www.fudoshin.org.uk/blog/2010/9/15/facilitation-5-rules-to-live-by.html

Sent from Read It Later

Sent from my iPhone

Seth Godin’s 15 elements of success for the modern business (via @acumenfund)

As always, Seth Godin has something smart to say:

  1. Build in virality. Consider: Groupon.
  2. Don't sell a product that can be purchased cheaper at Amazon.
  3. Subscriptions beat one-off sales.
  4. Try to create an environment where your customers are happier when there are other customers doing business with you (see #1).
  5. Treat different customers differently.
  6. Generate joy, don't just satisfy a need for a commodity.
  7. Rely on unique individuals, not an easily copyable system.
  8. Plan on remarkable experiences, not remarkable ads.
  9. Don't build a fortress of secrets, bet on open.
  10. Unless there's a differentiating business reason, use off the shelf software and cheap cloud storage.
  11. The asset of the future is the embrace of a tribe, not a cheaper widget.
  12. Match expenses to cash flow–don't run out of money, because it's no longer 1999.
  13. Create scarcity but act with abundance. Free samples create demand for the valuable (but not unlimited) tier you offer.
  14. Tell a story, erect a mythology, walk the walk.
  15. Plan on obsolescence (of your products, not your customers).
Read the full article at:

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/08/foundation-elements-for-modern-businesses.html

Amazing people I’ve met: Arie Kuiper

When I was playing around with the Faces feature (face recognition) in iPhoto the other day I got the idea of a new series of posts for my blog. Throughout the last few years I've met some really amazing people, whom I'm very grateful for for the challenges, ideas, inspiration they've given me. I realized that a great way for me to express my gratitude to the people that I've met and will meet would be to write a short blog post about them. I don't really have role models as in famous invidiuals whom I look up to, but I try to surround myself with people who think in new ways, challenge the status quo and strives for more (with the logic going that you become like the ones you surround yourself with).

Now, who to start with? Well, somehow, Arie came up as a perfect candidate. No real reason why, but it simply was the person I'd like to begin with.

Who is Arie and where did I meet him? Well, Arie is a 24 year old dutch male, whom I met when we were both working as presidents of our respective AIESEC countries. Arie was a unique star in AIESEC, he was probably elected for his position after shorter time than anyone else in the organization – and he entered the role with more ability than most others. I strongly admire Arie's fast-paced, critical thinking, his way to reflect upon, analyze and understand almost any situation to a deep level. I believe Arie shares my passion for knowledge, and he is a clear divergent thinker – having done and study things from neuroscience, to marketing and philosophy. 

Additionally, if you forget about his length (better talk to him while sitting down), he's not as intimidating as it might seem from the description, rather he's a down-to-earth guy who is genuinely interested in the people around him. He is one of those rare people who can master an emotional connection to people and issues while still being able to rationally look at situations and judge them from a balanced perspective. If he eventually goes into politics as he aspire to, I'm pretty sure he'd be one of the best leaders in this field. If he goes into other fields, well I'm pretty sure he'll be one of the best leaders there to.

I'm very grateful for Arie for the moments in which we've shared ideas, bounced new concepts or shared pieces of random knowledge. He is one of those people I'd like to have at minimum one conversation per year with, just to get a completely new and divergent perspective. Being around Arie is not only comfortable, but also helps you grow. 

Daily fika – Indian style

Even in India one can find a daily work fika*.

My take on Swedish election – Why intolerance is not the answer, by anyone…

I just started taking a distance course in ICT for collaborative communication. It's quite interesting and started with an "assumptions" game, where we were making assumptions about our fellow classmates virtually based on very limited information. It highlighted both how assumptions can be a useful tool, but also how they (especially cultural ones) can go wrong.

An assumption many made of me is that I'm disinterested in politics. I guess it was my international classmates' perception of Swedes in general that formed them (and they wouldn't be completely wrong – at least not with the people they had engaged with from the engineering faculties). Compared to India, Swedes are definitely disinterested.

Well, in order to challenge that assumption, I'll make a comment about the current political situation in Sweden. Yesterday was the parliamentary elections in Sweden and a right wing, anti-immigration party called the Swedish Democrats (SD) got 20 seats or 5.7% of the vote. It's quite an upset because this means that neither of the other main political blocks have an outright majority and thus cannot form a government. 

So, what has the response from people been before and after the election to this? Well, I haven't been able to follow Swedish media very closely, however I have downloaded my Facebook feeds daily and read them thoroughly and my conclusion from that is that the response, overwhelmingly has been one of intolerance

This frustrates me, and while I don't believe the least bit in the opinions or aspirations of the "Swedish Democrats", I do think they have the right to express their opinion. Likewise do people have the full right to vote for them. Period. 

Comments of intolerance against the party or the people who voted for it just doesn't ring very correct to me. 

The response, rather than being "get those bastards out of parliament", "shut them up" or whatever it might be, should be "what is the driver behind the opinions that people have expressed by voting for this party?". Democracy is about dialogue. So instead of demonizing (or asking the people who voted for SD to "move somewhere else" as I saw an enlightened Facebook post say), I'd ask to engage in dialogue. If engaging in dialogue with the party itself is too much for you to stomach, then engage with people around you, with people you don't know, and with people who voted for the party. 

A failure on your behalf of expressing or engaging with the issues or problems that makes people choose this party is well, a failure on your part. The answer to such a failure is introspection about why your story (which is about a multicultural society I assume) isn't reaching those 5.7%.

Not to try to "eradicate" SD, nor to get the people who voted for them to "relocate". 

Social Entreprenurship – adjusting to it’s new clothes?

If you spend any amount of time following the field of social
entrepreneurship, there are some easy to spot trends and movements.

Many of them are captured in this simple and straight forward article
at Collective Responsibility:
http://collectiveresponsibility.org/en/moving-past-and-capturing-passion-soci…

One of the big discussions is the definition of what SE really is.

Nothing surprising there, any “new” community or movement will be in
the search for what defines them, what sets them a part from other (in
case of SE: traditional NGOs, aid work, etc.).

Following this development what I would expect to see is at one point
the community becoming comfortable in the clothes that we are wearing.
Starting feeling that we know what sets us a part and instead focus
not on building the framework, but rather innovating within it (and
sometimes outside it – creating new communities & groups).

Some people argue that the search for definition is leading SE off
track – maybe they’re right. However, from what I have seen of
community development, this is a necessary (if maybe time consuming)
process to go trough.

What do you think? Is it a waste of time or a necessary process?

Work makes you happy, at least the challenging, meaningful sort

In article on work and happiness in Sonja Lyubomirski’s (professor in
psychology) and Signal Patterns’ iPhone application “Live Happy”, they
write:

/”Positive Psychologists are often asked, ‘What makes people happy?’
Until a few years ago, the answer always reflected the common wisdom
and empirical findings of the field – ‘It’s relationships, stupid.’
That is, our interpersonal ties – the strength of our friendships,
familial bonds, and intimate connections – show the highest
correlations with well-being.

However a meta-analysis (a “study of studies”) of 225 studies of
well-being conducted by Sonja Lyubomirsky, Laura King, and Ed Diener,
proved otherwise. What they expected to discover was that social
relationships – more than any other variable – would be both causes
and consequences of being happy. However, what they observed was
something rather different. One factor towered over relationships in
its connection with happiness. That factor was work.

The evidence, for example, demonstrates that people who have jobs
distinguished by autonomy, meaning and variety – and who show superior
performance, creativity, and productivity – are significantly happier
than those who don’t. Supervisors are happier than those lower on the
totem pole, and leaders who receive high ratings from their customers
are happier than those with poor ratings.”/

This, and the book “Flow” which I also recently read, gives a nice
framework to explain what I have known intuitively for a long time
(and probably share with many others): That meaningful, challenging
work is not only important, but essential to a life of well-being.

What amazes me that it has an even greater impact than social connections.

For me personally, this is a strategy that can help me lead other
areas of my life. If I have meaningful, challenging work I will be
overall happier, thus attracting more social connections, thus
creating an upward spiral of happiness.

By focusing on where my natural preference for happiness lies (work) I
can, through conscious effort use it to leverage other ares of life
(social).

An unbending twig or as flexible as a master yogi?

Basket

As I was taking the train back to Delhi about a week ago, the train briefly passed a whole line of people working to make wooden baskets. They were quickly, and methodically bending the branches into the a shape that would eventually form a strong, long-lasting basket.

I came to realize that this was a pretty good metaphore for the way it is to come to India. India is in itself an utterly strong basket, with a woven fabric of society that seems much stronger than many others. As a newcomer, let's say a new twig, that is to be woven into this basket, you'll have to be very flexible. In the beginning you'll feel stiff (often very stiff if you're a twig that has grown in Europe) and unbending, but in the hands of the weaver you'll eventually soften up (if you allow it) and start being woven into the whole. 

If you cannot, or chose not to, be completely flexible, well you just might break and be discarded – something that seems to happen to quite a few foreigners who spend any amount of time here.