Posts Tagged ‘Ideas’

Brainstorm #4: Child Education

01/13/2011

Each Monday we explore an edge on a new issue or existing problem. The spade question acts as a catalyst for creative ideas and objectives. This Monday we asked:

How can we improve the communication between parent, teacher and student to better educate our children?

Research from across the board overwhelmingly demonstrates the positive effect of parent-teacher communication and involvement on their children’s academic achievement and does wonder to the long-term accomplishments and competence of their child – including advancement for higher education and better career choices.

Study after study (Clark 1983; Comer 1980, 1988; Eccles, Arbreton, et al., 1993; Eccles-Parsons, Adler and Kaczala 1982; Epstein 1983, 1984; Majoribanks 1979 as cited in Eccles and Harold 1996) made the evidence indisputable that whenever students with similar initial background and aptitude were rated by their performance those with more parental involvement did better. Increased Communication Equals Better Education.

It’s no doubt then why the “No Child Left Behind” Act supports parent involvement and reinforces heavily the administrative responsibility towards every student – regardless of race, ethnicity or background.

We live in eventful times. Everything around us has suddenly become so interesting that we forget to take quality time from our busy day and think about the future of our children. In many cases it’s a phone call, or a an email, just to follow-up or receive feedback on a particular issue.

“Great teachers teach the Three R’s; great principals make great schools. And great parent groups make the difference between a big pile of bricks with teachers inside, or a real community” – Tim Sullivan, founder and president of PTO Today

And indeed it is so. Only a parent can choose to reinforce or compromise the quality of education and effort a teacher invests. Every child needs the support and self-esteem to lead them through the most challenging but also most quintessential part of their life.

So how can we  improve the communication between parent, teacher and student to better educate our children?

Here are some ideas that our readers and team came up with:

1. Listen! 75% of communication is listening to what the other person is actually saying. – C.D.

2. Be more humble and responsible: Simply get the parent/teacher to practice some modesty and practice on being humble – that will be a good start. The student should be willing and open to accepting their authority. – Y.K.

– Piggy-back comment: Create programs and events that encourage children to talk and express themselves their thoughts, feelings, and talents – in a judgement-free zone. Why does “Show & Tell” stop in 1st Grade?

– Piggy-back comment: We could also make kids in charge – offering children the opportunity to practice authority. A “Topsy-Turvy Day” where students play teacher and vice versa may shed light to each on how it feels to be in the other person’s moccasins.

3. Constant dialogue: Constant communication and interest both ways. – C.R.

4. Social Networking: A site where teacher, parent, student and class can all interact in friendly and safe environment. – N.K.

5. Let them out: Encourage kids to talk and express their thoughts, feelings and talents in a judgement-free zone. Why “Show & Tell” stop in 1st Grade?

6. More exciting PTA (parent teacher association): Make it fun, funny, interactive and focus more on accomplishments than the cons or where the child is falling behind.

7. Make education more fun! Adding more interactive, musical or multimedia presentations may enhance both the general attention level and the stickiness of the material (think Sesame Street).

– Other ways may be to have – in addition to the “Pledge of Allegiance” – a morning psyche-up where everybody gets excited about the coming day with a hokey-pokey, class cheers, games and positive affirmations.

– Have everyone (teachers included) say one nice thing to the person next to them.

– Another method for making lessons “stick” would be to add more sensory involvement – touch, taste, sight, smell and sound.

8. Play! Instead of bombarding students with homework, have them make a play demonstrating what they’ve learned on the subject matter. There would be a list of general items or questions that the students would have to answer or research and incorporate them into their act.

– Tools (music tracks, props, material resources) would be provided by the administration. Creativity and would be provided solely by the students.

9. Rewards and Incentives: One thing that parents could do to incentivize their little champs would be to celebrate certain milestones or goals. Throw a party or make a banquet “Perfect Attendance” Breakfast featuring their child’s favorite food! There isn’t a child in the world who doesn’t love getting woken up for a surprise party!

– This can also work as part of a general rewards program that is the result of effort between school and home, with input by both parent and teacher. – N.K.

– This can also work in more extravagant fashion as a national program where each child is issued actual mini-credit-cards (kids love ’em) which rack up points or miles which are redeemable for cash, prizes and trips.

Which suggestions do YOU like best?

What are YOUR ideas?

Let us know!

Advertisements

Brainstorm Follow-up – Fashion

01/09/2011

Each Monday we explore an edge on a new issue or existing problem. The spade question acts as a catalyst for creative ideas and functional improvement. This Monday we asked:

What’s missing in the fashion industry that caters to the ever-growing need for design differentiation, customization and consumer preference?

Note that this was not designed as a genuine spade question, but as a general opener for ideas within the fashion industry at large.

Here are some of the ideas that our team and our readers came up with.


1. Focus on Children: A line that was all-the-rave for children. Top-notch high-end quality yet affordable durable and comfortable for kids, with outfits aimed specifically at making kids look great! – A.L.

2. Custom Shoes: Another custom market that can be tapped into is for high-quality stylish shoes in the sub-$140 range – Y.K.

3. An online builder app used to design affordable customizable made-to-fit clothing. – A.S.

– Designers can put up designs and potential buyers could vote on the ones they like. – M.L.

– Another section could enable fashionistas to design their own outfits from scratch with step by step instructions and tips.

– Yet another feature could permit people to upload pictures of themselves or their favorite celebrity (with approximate body measurements and “try-on” various assortments of outfits, accessories, hair-do’s, etc.

Synopsis:

Design today may give an edge to up-and-coming designers in the same way that YouTube made Justin Bieber into a celebrity. It wasn’t JUST that people were looking for something unique and different, but that they found it in a unique and different place that no one had looked before.
In marketing we call this phenomenon “perceived value”. This means that we submit more value to that which receives more attention. (video – Joshua Bell on his $3.5 million stradivarius). We can’t help it. We’re human! And as such, we can only consciously process a fraction of the information that floods our busy minds (video – selective attention).

I a world of fragmentation, the more places we look, the more overall results we’ll have. And if we filter through ALL those results – either through voting or “Likes” – and share our preference with all our friends it has the ability to act as a tipping point for viral success. If you can get 3 million hits, you can well assume that the equivalent of 1% of the American population has seen or heard about it. A week later it sells for .99 cents on iTunes.

Fashion may begin to work similarly. Anyone and everyone should be able to design their own outfits and feature them. Of course, unlike music video (which is solely an audio-visual experience), fashion has many subtle features – such as texture, material, comfort and fit. Yet for the most part these can be adjusted. Creativity and originality reside by and large in the field of visual appeal. Manufacturers could then line up to produce the highest rated outfits – just as record labels line up for final contestants of American Idol).

Which suggestions do YOU like best? What are YOUR ideas?

Boost Your Creative Ability With “Mind Maps”

03/29/2010

I recently came across a concept called “Mind Mapping”.

A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. Mind maps are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, decision making, and writing.

Maximize the Power of Your Brain – Tony Buzan

How to Create a Mind Map

  1. Use a blank sheet of paper, letter size or larger; turn to landscape orientation. (More room, unrestricted)
    Start in the center of your mental world.
  2. Create a central image that represents the topic about which you are writing or thinking. a) Use at least three colors. b) Keep the height and width of the central image to approx. 2’’ or 5 cm (proportionately larger for bigger paper). c)  Allow the image to create its own shape (do not use a frame).
  3. Draw the main branches of the Mind map from the central image; these are your main ideas, like the chapter headings in a book. a) Print this word in CAPITALS or draw an image. b) Place on a line of the same length. c) The central lines are thick, curved, and organic—like your arm joining your body or the branch of a tree to the trunk.
  4. Start to add a second level of thought. These words or images are linked to the main branch that triggered them. a) Lines connect are thinner. b) Words are still printed but may be lower case.
  5. Add a third or fourth level of data as thoughts come to you. a) Use images as much as you can, instead of, or in addition to the words. b)  Allow your thoughts to come freely, meaning you ‘jump about’ the Mind Map as the links and associations occur to you.
  6. Add a new dimension to your Mind Map. Boxes add depth around the word or image
  7. Outline branches of a Mind Map with color, if desired. a) Enclose the shape of the branch. Hug the shape tightly. b) Use different colors and styles.
  8. Make each Mind Map a little more: beautiful, artistic, colorful,  imaginative, dimensional.

Examples

Some examples are perfect, though this one isn’t. It’s an impromptu mind map (designed as an Organization Chart) based on the “7 Disciplines of the Entrepreneur”, as explained by E-Myth founder, Michael E. Gerber.

As you could see its very detailed, as well as very colorful.

There are a few things missing/wrong with this particular map:

  • Lined ruled paper, instead of plain white
  • Straight lines, instead of curved lines
  • Only ONE level of data (not much room for more)
  • No images – Didn’t have the time 🙂

Here are some other examples I found (click to enlarge):

So get out a blank sheet of paper, some colored pens/markers and try it yourself! It’s amazing how involved you’ll get once you begin!

20 Business Ideas for Recession

09/28/2009

There are plenty of opportunities for starting a new business in a recession or sluggish economy. Call them: Built for “Recessionary Success”.

While many businesses in the retail sector are posting record losses, other businesses are turning a profit, especially service-oriented businesses offering non-discretionary goods. During economic recessions, people are reluctant to part with their hard earned money, so businesses that help people keep money in their pockets are winners in tough economic times.

1. Debt Collection
It goes without saying that in tough economic times bills start to pile up and often go unpaid. While debt collection is not an especially pleasant business, it’s one that generally does well during economic downturns. As an added bonus, you have the option of working out of your home as an independent contractor or working for a debt collection agency.

2. Healthcare Products
An aging population whose health is declining is going to purchase healthcare products and services—recession or not. And, with more health related products and services available than ever before, this is a business that is sure to thrive.

3. Job Search Agency

When people lose their jobs, they often turn to employment agencies or job search firms. If you are a people person with a lot of industry contacts and a knack for matching out-of-work employees with potential employers, then this type of business might be a good choice for you.

4. Mediator
In tough economic times, many people turn to mediators rather than attorneys to settle disputes simply because they are less expensive. If you’re skilled at negotiating, this may be the business opportunity you are looking for.

5. Security Firm
Security firms are doing a booming business, but the security business is not just about security guards. It’s also about performing security and background checks for employers.

6. Computer Repair
Computers are a fact of life and so is computer repair. The good news is that a computer repair business doesn’t depend on whether the economy is good or bad. If you are the go-to person when a friend’s computer goes bust, then the computer repair business might be a good fit. It’s also possible to join a franchise operation like Geeks on Call.

7. Internet Marketer

Many people jump on the website bandwagon without really understanding internet marketing. After all, what good is a website if no one sees it? Internet marketing is becoming more and more important as people comparison shop and purchase items online. That’s just one of the reasons why it’s a good business when the economy goes south.

8. Web Entrepreneur
You don’t have to be a computer geek to become a web entrepreneur; all you need is a good idea or product. You can create a website yourself or hire a web designer to do it for you.

9. Pawn Broker
Ok, not everyone is cut out to be a pawnbroker, but pawnshops are typically businesses that do well during recessions. A pawnbroker takes merchandise as collateral on a loan, albeit a loan with exorbitant interest rates.

10. Cosmetics Sales
This may seem like an odd business to start in a sluggish economy, but the truth is that cosmetics are an inexpensive way to let us feel good when times are not so good. After all, who doesn’t want to look terrific?

11. Financial Advisor
This might seem like a strange choice given typical market activity during a recession. But when turmoil is afoot, people are looking for solid advice on how to manage their money. Americans, especially those close to retirement, are worried about their financial futures.

12. Business Coach

As businesses try to improve morale, increase bottom lines, and improve efficiency, more and more of them turn to business coaches. Business coaches offer advice on everything from reading financial statements to helping companies with time management and personnel problems.

13. Beer Distributor
Beer consumption doesn’t go down in a recession. In fact, it usually goes up as people switch from more expensive wine and cocktails. And with the wealth of microbrews available now, there’s a beer to suit even the most discriminating palate.

14. Reusable Water Bottle Sales
Another profitable business that’s taking off is selling reusable water bottles. With all the health scares about Bisphenol A (BPA) and other harmful chemicals leaching into water from traditional reusable plastic bottles, stainless steel and BPA-free water bottles are a must-have item even in the tough economy.

15. Green Café
The green café is a variation of the neighborhood café. The advantage of a neighborhood café is that it can start off small and expand as your income grows. The advantage of a green café is that it can have lower operating expenses because it focuses on recycling and reusing as much as possible, thus creating very little waste. And being green offers a unique marketing aspect.

16. Consignment Shop
Even socialites are doing it—shopping at thrift stores, that is. And if that isn’t an indication of a trend, then what is? That’s just one of the reasons running a consignment or resale shop during a recession is a sound business proposition. Consignment shops sell clothes, furniture, decorative items, and home furnishings; business owners can specialize in one of these resale niches or offer all of these items in their stores. One of the advantages of starting a consignment shop business is that it doesn’t require a lot of capital to get started.

17. Automotive and Appliance Repair
The automotive repair business is always brisk during economic downswings because people opt to repair their cars rather than buying new ones. The same can be said about large appliances like washers, dryers, and refrigerators. For many big-ticket items, repair is far more cost-effective than buying new.

18. Auto Salvage Yard
Think of it as architectural salvage for cars instead of houses. Sometimes called auto parts recycling centers, auto salvage yards often experience booms during recessions. More people repairing their cars leads to increased demand for recycled car parts.

19. Residential Real Estate Appraiser
Because recessions usually see waves of foreclosures in the housing market, residential real estate appraisal is a profession that’s going to remain in demand, despite an economic and real estate slump.

20. Home Healthcare Services

Home health aides, personal aides, and visiting nurses all fall under the umbrella of home healthcare service providers, one of the top growth industries today. Recession or not, Baby Boomers are going to need these services as they age. If you have experience in the healthcare industry, especially in management or nursing, then operating a home healthcare services business is definitely an option.

Whatever you do, remember the key to any great business: Keep The Customer Happy!