Britain at the crossroads – but which path will it take in 2014?

From the challenges that will be faced by the main party leaders and economic policymakers to the celebrations for Shakespeare's birthday, Guardian writers take a look at what 2014 will bring

Politics: three issues that will shape the nation's future

It is not too far-fetched to say that 2014 will be the year the UK decides not its next government, but its political identity.

The vote in the European parliament elections in May, the likely verdict of the Chilcot inquiry in the summer on the value of Britain's special relationship with America, and the referendum on Scottish independence in September will be three indispensable waymarks that will help chart the shape of modern Britain.

It is possible that 2014 will be a year of convulsions. Ukip coming first in the European elections, revealing an unstoppable tide of anger demanding an in-out referendum on Europe. The Chilcot inquiry and the British parliament concluding that the conduct of the Iraq war has revealed something rotten in the special relationship with America, and British foreign policy requires a re-evaluation to match that after Suez in 1956.

Finally, the Scots defying the current polls and following the Scottish National party leader, Alex Salmond, towards separation, sending an electric shock through the English, Westminster politics and business. In such circumstances the 2015 general election will feel like an afterthought as numbed English politicians, stripped of authority, stumble to explain the revolution of 2014.

At present it looks more likely that Britain will muddle through 2014, even if it is the year of living dangerously. So Ukip fares well in the European elections, but does not improve on its second place in 2009. Chilcot admonishes Tony Blair personally for too much sofa government and too many easy assumptions, but does not find a conspiracy deliberately to mislead by the American and British political elites. And finally the Scots conclude the risk of breaking away outweighs the romance of independence. The solidity of British political institutions is once again confirmed.

Yet whatever the outcome, all the political parties face their own challenges in navigating these events, challenges that will reveal their readiness to govern. For the Conservatives the task will be not to panic if Ukip does very well in the European elections, driving the Tories into third place. The 2009 benchmark for Ukip is 16.5% of the vote and a total harvest of 2.49m votes. If Ukip does substantially better this time, the Tory right will demand a commitment to an in-out referendum in the 2015 manifesto, the use of the Parliament Act to force through James Wharton's private member's bill on a referendum and ever tougher policies on welfare and immigration.

European elections have a noble history of delivering such temporary bloody noses. In the 1989 elections, for instance, the Liberal Democrats came fourth behind the Greens, and it is not Caroline Lucas who is currently in coalition government.

The wiser heads in Downing Street will call for calm, and tell Ukip voters that "you have had your fun, made your point and now it is time to return to the fold, and get on with the business of keeping the Europhile Ed Miliband from No 10". But polling conducted for Alan Bown, the Ukip donor, suggests Ukip voters are not just ex-Tories, and many of those who have defected from the Conservatives will never return. Still worse, they are not driven by Euroscepticism, but by an attitude to politics.

Ukip's leader, Nigel Farage, will have to show after May that a Ukip vote in 2015 continues to be a serious vote. The aim is to show that in a small number of seats Ukip are the true challengers to Labour, the Liberal Democrats or even the Conservatives. It will use ammunition from the local elections and further polls in marginal seats to make that case.

For the Conservatives it will take the deftest of touches to lure back those Ukip voters, and yet not alienate the centre ground. The harder Cameron presses the immigration buttons, the easier it becomes for Labour to urge 2010 Liberal Democrats – the key to a Labour victory – to vote Miliband and throw out Cameron. Downing Street will require better management than shown so far to break out of this morass of anti-Tory tactical voting.

But Labour has it own internal management issues. Miliband will have to demonstrate by February that he is reducing the influence of the unions. Partial victory is within his grasp. He will also have to tread with caution through the Chilcot inquiry. His own hands are clean on Iraq as he was out of the country, but many big party figures – Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell and Jack Straw – will deeply resent it if he throws them to the wolves for electoral advantage. Some of Miliband's advisers see Iraq as one of the best ways of breaking with the legacy of the previous Labour government.

But a vote for Scottish separation in September would lead to even greater turmoil in the Labour ranks. It would mean the Scottish working class had upped sticks and deserted Labour. With Scottish MPs excluded from Westminster, Labour would struggle to form a majority government again.

However, Miliband's immediate task is to broaden the living standards agenda that he has brilliantly developed and turn it into a compelling argument about the future prosperity of the country. Labour strategists know the party will come under relentless attack about the return to growth, and the two different big judgments George Osborne and Ed Balls made in the wake of the 2010 election. If the election is as much about the best response to the crash of 2008 as the shape of Britain in 2020, Labour loses.

A lot of policy work will finally bear fruit – the Adonis commission on industrial growth, the Lyons review on house building and the IPPR thinktank's report on the condition of Britain. Labour will use these cards to argue the Tories are creating a false recovery based on consumption and debt. On this economic issue, unlike the deficit, Labour can also create a vital wedge between the Tories and Liberal Democrats as Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat business secretary, has deep qualms about a recovery built on a house price bubble.

But Osborne will spend the autumn using every political device to try to pin shadow chancellor Ed Balls down on whether he will aim for a surplus by the end of the next parliament, and whether he will match coalition deficit cuts after 2015-16.

The Labour lead remains at around 6%, but polling on economic optimism, the wisdom of the Tory cuts and political leadership are all starting to point in the Conservative direction. Miliband has shown more courage and guile than many expected. He will need even more to stay ahead in the year to come.

Patrick Wintour, political editor

Economy: the obstacles to growth, at home and abroad

A recovery in Britain's fortunes during 2014 will be matched by a desperate argument over how much the economy should be weaned off the emergency measures put in place after the financial crash. Chief among those measures are the ultra-low interest rates that have prevented thousands of businesses and households from going bust.

By the autumn, officials at the Bank of England could be facing serious questions about when, and how much, rates should rise, pushing up mortgage costs and further eating into living standards.

It was the governor, Mark Carney, who announced last summer that Threadneedle Street had set a target date of 2016 for a rise in base rates from the current 0.5%. Central bank officials linked a rise in rates to a fall in unemployment to 7%. But at the current rate of private sector job creation, unemployment could hit 7% in the summer.

Carney is likely to find an excuse for sticking to his schedule, mainly because he believes the economy is weaker than some headline numbers appear to show.

All eyes are on the Bank after the chancellor, George Osborne, stuck to his austerity-driven spending targets in the autumn statement last month. Osborne is under pressure to help his party survive the Ukip advance in the European elections in May and do his bit to keep Scotland inside the UK at the independence referendum in September.

He is likely to announce some goodies in his March budget to support colleagues in both fights, but within the current spending straitjacket. An expected rise in tax receipts could give him some room for manoeuvre.

By the end of the year, the longest fall in average living standards could be coming to an end. Notwithstanding a rise in interest rates, most analysts expect pay to start to rise faster than prices for the first time in five years. Osborne's problem will be arguing that a lopsided recovery favouring already wealthy, property-owning households in the south is worth voting for.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research thinktank says London will continue to outstrip the rest of country on every measure in 2014 – job creation, GDP growth, house prices – adding to concern felt by the business secretary, Vince Cable, that the capital "is becoming a giant suction machine draining the life out of the rest of the country".

Troubled economies such as Portugal and Greece are scheduled in 2014 to end their dependence on Brussels for new money, following in the footsteps of Ireland, which exited the EU's bailout programme last month. The euro crisis played a key role in undermining business confidence during 2011 and 2012. A recovery during 2014, after treading water in 2013, is likely to prove another factor in lifting the UK economy.

An end to central bank intervention in the US could be the most crucial economic event. Such is the weakness of the US recovery, the Federal Reserve has spent $85bn each month lending to banks and other financial firms in need of artificially cheap money. The funds have gone mainly into the major banks, in part to help them offload their dodgy loans. The Fed boss, Ben Bernanke, has signalled that 2014 will be the year he switches off the life support machine, leaving the US economy to survive on the near $3 trillion of central bank funds already swimming around the system.

With a large proportion of UK exports heading across the Atlantic, a resurgent US economy is good for UK exporters. But a booming US economy could also attract much of the investment funds that have flowed to the UK following the crash, hitting the value of the pound and raising import prices and inflation.

The Bank of England has pledged to keep inflation near its 2% target. If it rises, Carney may ignore the problem, much as Lord King, his predecessor, did in 2011 when it breached 5%. Colleagues on the nine-strong monetary policy committee may not be so flexible. Either way, Britain would face difficulties, either from high inflation or the knock-on effects of quelling inflation, even before unemployment has fallen to 7% and living standards are climbing.

Phillip Inman, economics correspondent

Arts: Scotland and Shakespeare steal the show

1 Scotland awaits The cultural programme surrounding the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow will fizz with an added energy and political urgency as they are set against the independence referendum on 18 September.

In the programme, theatre, dance and circus come together in Grit, director Cora Bissett and playwright Kieran Hurley's ambitious site-specific production based on the life and music of one of Scotland's most innovative and influential musicians, Martyn Bennett. It will be staged in Glasgow's Tramway One, then on Mull during a midsummer weekend. Artist Phil Collins will screen a new film about Glasgow accompanied by a specially commissioned live score in Queen's Park on the south side of the city, while the National Gallery of Scotland is one of the venues for Generation, a look at the last 25 years of Scottish contemporary art. In Edinburgh, Mark Thomson dramatises the 1707 Act of Union in a romp that takes in characters from Daniel Defoe to Queen Anne.

2 The Vikings are coming! For those who missed Pompeii, fear not, the British Museum has another blockbuster on its way. Its exhibition on the marauding Scandinavians will showcase the new gallery in the most spectacular way – with a real longship. From 6 March to 22 June.

3 Shakespeare Part II Celebrations for the bard's 450th birthday started last year but will culminate on the actual day in 2014, 23 April. Lovingly carved by master craftsman Peter McCurdy and his team from pine and oak, the beautiful Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare's Globe in London will stage its first production, the Duchess of Malfi, from 9 January. The intimate and atmospheric theatre will offer a glimpse of how audiences originally experienced the bloodthirsty Jacobean tragedy when it was first performed by the King's Men – Shakepeare's own company. Bardolatry will reach fever pitch in March with Shakespeare Week, while Stratford-upon-Avon will celebrate its favourite son with special performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company in April.

4 From comic opera to Greek tragedy Glyndebourne is staging three new productions this summer: Mozart's La Finta Giardiniera, Verdi's La Traviata and Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier. The relationship between Richard Strauss' life and work will be in the spotlight this year, as celebrations for the 150th anniversary of his birth take over the classical world. Was he a modernist radical, an old-fashoined romantic, or a Nazi sympathiser? The hot ticket in contemporary opera is Julian Anderson's Thebans at the ENO (14 May to 3 June). Directed by Pierre Audi and conducted by Edward Gardner, it's Anderson's most ambitious work yet – can the imaginative composer bring to life the epic, murderous, and incestuous family story of Oedipus, Jocasta and Antigone?

5 Avant-garde heroes old and new Film director, painter, set designer, gardener, gay activist: Derek Jarman was a modern Renaissance Man. Two decades after his death, various events celebrate his prodigious artistic output and legacy. As Tilda Swinton, Jarman's protege and collaborator who appeared in seven of his films including Caravaggio and Edward II, said, "It's important for those who weren't around at the time to know that he was not just some arty type who only a few people were ever aware of and want remembered now. He was a proper tabloid figure in the 1980s, involved in constant argy bargy with moral arbiters like Mary Whitehouse … truly gleeful about his role as public provocateur." At King's College London, where Jarman was a student, immersive exhibition Pandemonium includes rarely seen Super-8 films and elaborate notebooks, while Tate Modern is screening his final film, Blue. A silent, monochrome 75 minutes, it caused quite a controversy when it was broadcast on Channel 4 in 1993, the year before his death from Aids. An artist who shares something of Jarman's anarchic spirit is Marina Abramovic. The performance art pioneer has walked the Great Wall of China, danced with Jay-Z and been the star of Robert Wilson's opera The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic. In one of the biggest events of the art calendar, the global phenomenon In one of the biggest events of the arts calendar, she will be at the Serpentine this summer. The performance art – and the queues – promise to be epic.

6 Worthy successors? How to top the Rolling Stones? Well, Arcade Fire are none too shabby as this year's headliners at Glastonbury. The Canadian band have a formidable live reputation, and should have little problem in getting Worthy Farm moving to the African-Caribbean rhythms of new tracks such as Here Comes the Night. David Bowie guested on the latest, more experimental, dance album Reflector, so expect more of the will-he-won't-he rumours. An appearance by the Thin White Duke? Now that really would trump the Stones.

Liese Spencer, arts editor © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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Extra Credit Projects: Advertising with a twist

Advertising Agency: Extra Credit Projects, USA

Creative Director: Rob Jackson

Copywriter: Rob Jackson

Art Directors: Brian Bourque, Chad Hutchinson

Photographer: Chad Hutchinson

Published: December 2013

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Influence of Risk-Attitude on Design Driven Innovation


In today's affluent world, meaning and experiences are displacing products and services. As a consequence of the realization that our "stuff" is only a tiny part of what we desire, progress is now generated by intangibles such as happiness, goodwill, design, brand value and intellectual property. Human capital, not machines, are now the main contributor, so this new way of looking at and living life, requires a paradigm shift in how we create.

Leading organizations understand the value of human capital and increasingly social/human and environmental aspects are included in the accounting metrics and annual reports. Somehow these metrics still seem to fall short in capturing the essence behind human value creation. What exactly is the value of someone being interdependent, helpful, positive, optimistic, realistic, proactive or even just dreaming big and having the guts to take risks? For starters, try imagining working with someone who embodies the opposite of these qualities.

Human risk-attitude and behavior is also the key behind innovation. A recent study at Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea compared the risk-profile of Asian and American graduate students and highlighted the value differences imbedded in the two cultures' risk attitude. Asians were found to be more comfortable with taking ethical shortcuts, gambling and incurring health/safety risks, whereas Americans were more comfortable with investment risk and social risk-taking.

These findings reflect Asians willingness to bend the rules, as well as their ultra competitive nature and somewhat lax attitude towards their personal safety. Americans, on the other hand, have aggressive business expectations and a need to personally stand out and to be seen as unique. These differences dictate how Asians and Americans live life and conduct business and how they make the leap from a manufacturing or service economy to a Creative Economy.

In a resent crowdsourcing challenge, we examined what constitutes American and Asian design. We found American design to be breakthrough, bold and stand out while Asian design was incremental, with fast-followers and subtler in their aesthetics. This seems to be slowly changing and their future cultural dynamics, risk-attitude and how these are applied in creating new offerings will determine their future competitive advantages.

Twenty observed student projects in America and twenty projects in Korea over the past year, showed equal levels of creativity and working with hundreds of top-tier designers from all corners of the world over the past decades has convinced me that all seemed to be equally innovative. Therefore, the difference in the final outcome seems to be more culturally determined than related to differences within the individual designer.

So, how does one increase the survival rate of innovative concepts, in a culture that favors incremental innovation as concepts filter though the organization and it's decision-making process? Studying the cultural risk-profiles suggests that one way to increase risk-taking in Asian corporate cultures is to reframe innovation as a gambling/betting endeavor as opposed to viewing it as an investment.

By nature, incremental innovation, characterized by low market risk and low technology risk, lends itself to managing risk and return and historically accounting methods are aimed at supporting this path. Breakthrough innovation, on the other hand, is characterized by high market and high technology risk, making investment thinking nonsensical and lends itself better to gambling/betting thinking.

Since Asians have an appetite for risk-averse attitudes in investment and risk-seeking attitudes in gambling, this paradigm shift represents a culturally inherent Asian competitive advantage, one that is extremely difficult for Westerners to copy. Who knows, in the future, the world could turn yet again and live to see the West becoming the fast followers.

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Update Your Job Search for 2014

While many of us have been hunkered down waiting for the recession to pass, the job market has been changing. To succeed in a transformed job market, know what you’re really worth. Research the salary you can realistically command — it may, unfortunately, be less than you expect. (The recession led to little or no increase in pay; there was actually wage deflation during this period.) Helpful resources are PayScale and Glassdoor. If you want to be sure, ask a headhunter or talk to people in your professional association. Next, make sure you’re not using old-fashioned search techniques. In the last five years, job boards have been going the way of newspaper ads. Now, recruiters proactively use social media to identify potential candidates instead of waiting for resumes to come in. If you don’t have a social media presence — on LinkedIn, Twitter, or your own website — you may not get noticed.

Adapted from "Update Your Job Search" by Priscilla Claman.

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Supreme Court Halts Birth Control Mandate For Catholic Group

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court justice halts birth control mandate in health care law for Catholic group.

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This Is What San Francisco Could Look Like In 2033

It's been a wild year for San Francisco. Batkid took over the city, the tech community came under attack and the only thing people can agree on is that the rent is too damn high.

But if the city's big plans are any indication, the future looks bright -- projects are underway from the Embarcadero to the beach. Take a look through some renderings of what San Francisco could look like 20 years from now. Happy New Year to the cool, gray city of love.

1. Warriors Waterfront Arena

NIMBY concerns notwithstanding, the Golden State Warriors' potential move to San Francisco would bring a 18,000-seat waterfront arena to piers 30-32. The plan faces obstacles from affordable housing advocates and environmental groups, but the stated goal of the project is to "restore the crumbling pier, build a new event pavilion and create nearly eight acres of new public open space on the waterfront –- the equivalent of three new Union Squares." And, of course, bring the Warriors across the bay to San Francisco.


san francisco piers 30 32


san francisco piers 30 32

2. Transbay Transit Center

Envisioned as the “Grand Central Station of the West,” this transit hub will replace the Transbay Terminal with a new structure near Second and Mission Streets connecting eight Bay Area counties through 11 different transit systems. Scheduled for completion in 2017, the Transbay Transit Center will feature a rippling metal facade, a column allowing natural light into the station and a rooftop City Park with gardens, trails, an open-air amphitheater, a children’s play space, a restaurant and a cafe. Following the transit center’s completion, planners will begin developing a surrounding residential and business neighborhood and extend Caltrain and California High Speed Rail underground.


san francisco transbay terminal



Project Architect Pelli Clarke Pelli. Renderings courtesy of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority.

3. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Set to open in 2016, the new SFMOMA will tower seven levels and double the former museum’s capacity for art presentation. A threefold expansion of its schoolchildren education program and nearly 15,000 square feet of art-filled space aims to make SFMOMA a stronger pillar of the community, while an environmental design puts it on track to achieve LEED Gold certification.





4. Candlestick Park

It was one heck of a game. The Atlanta Falcons led the San Francisco 49ers 27-24 and, with less than two minutes on the clock, Atlanta recovered an onside kick, priming the team for victory. But with a deflection and a miracle interception, San Francisco's NaVorro Bowman ran 89 yards for a game-winning touchdown: one final victory for Candlestick Park's final game.

The San Francisco 49ers head to a new stadium in Santa Clara this year and, though the departure is bittersweet, San Francisco has big plans for the old site. Part of the Hunter's Point Shipyard project, the park will become an outdoor commercial center with shopping, restaurants and entertainment venues. The center will anchor the massive neighborhood redevelopment plan -- the largest development project in the city since the 1906 earthquake. The neighborhood will be home to apartment complexes, affordable housing, community facilities and office space.





5. Hunter's Point Shipyard

The decommissioned naval shipyard was closed in 1974 and has since been used by the Shipyard Artists Community. While the artist community will remain, thousands of homes, parks and commercial space will soon rise up around it.


hunters point



6. The Fisherman’s Wharf Public Realm Plan

The Fisherman’s Wharf Public Realm Plan reimagines the popular tourist destination with more waterfront access, improved walkability, a stronger identity and more diverse activities to attract locals. The central element of the plan is a revamped Jefferson Street -- the most widely used route through the wharf -- with widened sidewalks allowing for cafe seating and public recreation space. With improved appearance and street schemes, Danish urban design firm Gehl Architects visualizes a destination that takes advantage of its waterfront access and welcomes tourists and strengthens the community with a clear heart, or center, of Fisherman’s Wharf.




wharf 2

7. Geary Bus Rapid Transit

The Geary BRT project aims to improve transportation and street conditions on the heavily used Geary Corridor, which includes Geary Boulevard, Geary Street and O’Farrell Street and brings riders from the Richmond district to Downtown. Proposals include lanes exclusively for buses with transit-signal priority and all-door boarding, high-visibility crosswalks with corner “bulb-outs” and medians with improved lighting and stations, landscaping and added trees. The approximately $240 million project is aiming for a 2018 opening.




geary 2

8. Central Subway

Already underway, the Central Subway Project will create a light-rail connecting the Bayshore and Mission Bay areas to downtown with stops in SOMA, Yerba Buena, Union Square and Chinatown. The 1.7 mile, $1.56 billion project is expected to open to the public in 2019.


union square san francisco


union square san francisco

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My ONLY Resolution for the New Year


I was thinking if there was something that I should focus more on in the upcoming year. I wanted that to be ONE thing and not a laundry list of "feel good" resolutions. One will make it easy to focus on and also easy to hold myself accountable. After going back and forth on a number of ideas, finally honed into ONE such idea.

I will get to the idea in a bit but some background to the same idea to set the context.

This happened a few years ago and I still remember that day. Yakov Soloveychik (one of my mentors) gave me a copy of Susan Scott's book "Fierce Conversations" and simply said, "You need to read this. Now!"

While I knew that there was a reason that this book was given to me, I kept wondering - "But, I don't want to have Fierce Conversations" Honestly, I was really glad that Yakov presented that book to me. As most great mentors do, he knew exactly what I needed at that stage. The book touched me and has totally shaped the way I handle conversations over the last few years. The book is written for CEOs but it is a required reading for anyone who is having conversations with people that they care. In other words, it's a book that EVERYONE should read.

There is ONE quote in the book that should be framed and hanged on your study room. Here it goes:

Given that, while no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a company, a relationship or a life, any single conversation can - what is the conversation that has your name on it?

In parallel, I went on a deep dive study of linguistic philosophy the foundation of which is based on a premise that "your world is created through your words."

Based on all the above, my ONLY resolution this year will be to

Prepare for and engage in at least 250 conversations that move the needle for one or more people in a significant way

I chose every word carefully as I crafted this resolution specifically focusing on the word "prepare." If I get on this path, I would have gotten a return even before I engage in any conversation because preparation is half the magic. It will help me reflect on things that matter and also make me think deeply about "how to move the needle in a significant fashion." The number 250 was chosen mainly to hold myself accountable and also measure progress along the way.

If you are game for it, try this thought experiment: If you had to choose one and ONLY one resolution that would change the trajectory of your life, what would that be?

Happy New Year to all of you!

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Australia, 'hostage to climate change madness'? To say so is madness indeed | Giles Parkinson

Tony Abbott still thinks climate change is 'crap', he's just using his controversial business adviser Maurice Newman as a ventriloquist to say so

When the Russian scientific vessel MV Akademik Shokalskiy got stuck in ice earlier this week while hosting a mission to retrace the steps of Sir Douglas Mawson and to conduct research on climate science, the blogosphere and talk-back radio were quick to gloat. What would the scientists say now, the deniers demanded to know, as if the presence of sea ice was enough to disprove the entire theory of climate change.

When expedition leader Chris Turney was informed of the comments in an ABC radio interview on Tuesday morning, he was dumbstruck and mildly amused. There were all sorts of explanations for the proliferation of ice at this location, such as the calving of the large B09B iceberg and its spectacular collision with the extended tongue of the Mertz Glacier. But none that would ever satisfy such people, Turney suggested.

Disconcertingly, these claims are no longer the province of bloggers, right wing media and talk-back radio. They now have currency in the highest corridors of power in Australia. Indeed, they are forming the basis of critical decisions being made on economic and infrastructure development in this country.

Earlier this week Maurice Newman, the head of Tony Abbott's hand-picked business advisory council, declared the science of anthropogenic climate change to be the world's greatest ever popular delusion, and accused the UN climate body of fudging data. Australia, he wrote in a column published in The Australian, had "become hostage to climate change madness."

He didn't stop there. He railed against "Himalyagate" and "Amazongate", accused state governments of a "cover up" over Australia's renewable energy policies, and even complained about a $60,000 grant given to help community groups pursue renewable energy installations. Many of his comments were repeated and given more prominence in a separate interview with the paper's environment editor.

This is not the first time that Newman has courted controversy. In September, he attacked the "myth of climate change" in an opinion piece for the Australian Financial Review. In November, he used a speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) to attack climate change, renewable energy and labour costs.

What was interesting about that speech was the reaction from the business community. Chanticleer, the venerable (and conservative) back-page column of the AFR, noted that business people were taken aback by the tone, the aggression and the lack of subtlety of the speech. Even Peter Switzer, a conservative small business columnist who appears on Murdoch's Sky News and in The Australian, wondered if Newman was disconnected from reality.

Some have downplayed Newman's influence, suggesting that the business council would meet only a few times a year. But Chanticleer said Newman is no outlier – he is meeting Abbott at least once a week, and the CEDA speech was drafted in close consultation with the PM and his office: "It would seem the best way to view Newman's speech is as an exposition of what Abbott might have said had he been freed of the political constraints that go with being in government."

In other words, this is Abbott by proxy. He still thinks climate change is crap, he's just using a ventriloquist.

Like Abbott's dismissal of carbon trading schemes as the "non-delivery of an invisible substance to no-one", a lot of Newman's complaints about Himalayagate and Amazongate, his railing against the UNFCCC and the IPCC, and his fear of "serfdom" to green technologies are sourced from the most extreme right wing and anti-science blogs.

Most of his assertions are demonstrably wrong – such as his claims on the impact of renewables on electricity prices for German industry, which has benefited from a dramatic fall in wholesale electricity prices caused by the rapid expansion of renewable energy. Germany's new grand coalition has actually strengthened its commitment to the energy transition by creating new "corridors" that will see it with up to 60% renewable energy by 2035.

But this is not just wolf-whistling to climate skeptics, this is part of policy formulation. Abbott is already dismantling climate change policies and institutions and seeking to replace it with Direct Action, a program that is dismissed in both the scientific and investment worlds.

More recently, Abbott has been echoing the scare campaigns of the two Newman (Maurice and Queensland premier Campbell) about the impact of renewables. "We've got to accept … that in the changed circumstances of today, the renewable energy target is causing pretty significant price pressures in the system," the Guardian quoted Abbott as saying last month.

Official data suggests that renewable energy target contributes 2% at best to electricity bills. Indeed, in the recent draft decision by the Queensland Competition Authority, the total cost of the RET is dwarfed by just the yearly increase in gas prices caused by the developing liquefied natural gas export boom.

But as Turney says, Newman and his ilk won't let fact get in the way of ideology. Note how Newman concludes his editorial:

From the UN down, the climate change delusion is a gigantic money tree. It is a tyranny that, despite its pretensions, favours the rich and politically powerful at the expense of the poor and powerless. But the madness of the crowds is waning and, as (author Charles) Mackay writes of the perpetrators: 'Punishment is sure to overtake them sooner or later'.

We can only hope it comes before most of us descend into serfdom. Madness indeed. © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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UK entertainment spending rises with surge in film and music streaming

Value of film and TV downloads, streams and subscriptions rises to £621m, and number of tracks streamed doubles to 7.4bn

After five years of decline, sales of entertainment products such as music, films and video games were growing again last year because of booming digital services such as Netflix and Spotify, according to figures published on Wednesday.

The surge in popularity of watching TV and films on the likes of Netflix, Amazon's LoveFilm and Apple's iTunes fuelled a 40% increase in spending on digital videos with downloads, streams and subscriptions rising to £621m, according to the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA). The digital revolution was also felt in the UK music industry, where the number of tracks streamed doubled to 7.4bn, thanks to a rise in users of services such as Spotify and Deezer, which have almost halted a 10-year decline in music sales.

The shift to digital viewing more than offset a 6.8% fall in the sale of physical DVDs to £1.4bn, reversing a five-year decline in total video sales, which managed 3.7% growth to £2.06bn last year.

"Services like Netflix, LoveFilm and Blinkbox are transforming the video business by making content available over multiple devices," said Kim Bayley, director general of the ERA, which provides a roundup of figures from across the music, video and gaming industry. "They are responding to the way people are now consuming content on the move."

The biggest-selling DVD in the UK last year was Skyfall, which shifted 2.96m copies, easily beating The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which sold 2.07m, according to figures from the British Video Association. The biggest-selling TV show on DVD was the second season of Game of Thrones, followed by the BBC shows Top Gear: The Perfect Road Trip and two series of Mrs Brown's Boys.

In the UK music market, total sales of albums and singles fell by just 0.5% to £1.04bn, as the popularity of digital downloads and streaming services almost offset the continuing plummeting sales of CDs, according to the music industry trade body BPI.

The value of digital subscriptions to music services rose by 34% last year to £103m, as the number of tracks streamed doubled to 7.4bn.

Arctic Monkeys managed to span the digital divide, proving to be the most streamed act as well as the biggest seller on vinyl with their album AM.

Vinyl continued its mini-revival, with sales doubling last year to 780,000, a market worth £14.6m.

In the digital singles market, Robin Thicke's controversial Blurred Lines was the most downloaded track of the year, followed by Daft Punk's Get Lucky. Surprisingly, total sales of digital singles fell by 4% to 175.6m downloads.

Digital album sales rose 6.8% to 32.6m downloads (worth £233m), with the most popular album Bastille's Bad Blood.

"The success of digital music in 2013 surpassed all previous records," said Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI. "As digital music moves into the streaming era, the prospects for future growth in the UK music market look strong."

While digital revenue streams are providing hope for the film and music industries, the beleaguered high street market continued to suffer, with a 12.8% fall in CDs sold to 60.6m units, worth £539m.

Combined sales of digital and physical albums fell 3.6% in value to £772m.

One Direction's Midnight Memories was the biggest-selling album of the year, shifting about 700,000 copies, the first time in almost three decades there has not been a million-selling album artist. In 2012, Emeli Sandé's Our Version of Events sold 1.4m and in 2011, Adele's 21 sold 3.9m copies.

This lacklustre performance concerns some in the music industry, especially given that One Direction were beaten into fourth place by three editions from the Now That's What I Call Music franchise, when compilations are considered. "The performance is primarily due to a weak release schedule, which is disappointing," said Bayley. "Retailers will be hoping that labels deliver bigger hits this year."

The impact of digital's rise was felt in the overall UK home entertainment market, which had its best year since 2009, growing 4% to £5.4bn.

Digital also played a significant role in the video game industry, with revenues from digital games – which includes PCs, downloads of paid content on consoles such as PlayStation and Xbox and mobile gaming – rising 16% to £1.17bn.

The rise means that revenue from digital gaming has passed that of physical sales of video games, which fell 2.9% to £1.01bn, and kept the whole market up 6.6% to £2.2bn.

The ERA said that the hotly awaited launches of Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4 consoles came "too late to rescue the hard-pressed physical games market".

The single biggest-selling entertainment title in the UK last year was the video game Grand Theft Auto V, which sold 3.67m copies.

In the ERA's table of "Entertainment's Greatest Hits" of 2013 covering all products, Daniel Craig's latest outing as James Bond in Skyfall ranked second; Electronic Arts' Fifa 2014 football game third; The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey fourth; and the video game Call Of Duty: Ghosts rounded out the top five.

The rapidly growing importance of digital media to the music, video and games markets is highlighted with the 20% growth they enjoyed in value to £2.3bn last year. The digital music, video and games market now accounts for 43% of the total UK entertainment sector.

"This is a stunning result after at least five years of decline in the entertainment market as a whole," said Bayley.

"Retailers have invested hundreds of millions of pounds in new digital services, which have historically presented challenges to the entertainment business, and these numbers suggest the public is responding in their droves." © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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Victoria Pendleton to star in Great Sport Relief Bake Off

Olympian's technical bakes and showstoppers will compete with those of Greg Rutherford and Michael Vaughan

Victoria Pendleton is among 16 celebrities taking part in a special Bake Off series, along with actor Jane Horrocks and impressionist Alistair McGowan.

The hopefuls will be seen in four programmes for BBC2's The Great Sport Relief Bake Off to be screened later this month, with four participating each night.

Cyclist Pendleton's fellow Olympian Greg Rutherford is also in the series along with her 2012 Strictly Come Dancing competitor Michael Vaughan, under the watchful eyes of judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.

Others taking part are Dancing on Ice judge Jason Gardiner, Desert Island Discs host Kirsty Young, Saturdays singer Rochelle Humes, singers Michael Ball and Jamelia, actors Doon Mackichan, Samantha Bond and Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter films, writer and broadcaster Emma Freud, Johnny Vaughan, and Helen Skelton, the former Blue Peter presenter.

Skelton admitted she is "absolutely rubbish at baking". She said: "All my friends and family laugh at anything I do in the kitchen, so I thought this might be a chance to redeem myself. I wished I'd practised more beforehand.

"When they said to me 'you've got to make a pizza', I thought they meant just put the toppings on a pizza – I didn't realise they meant make the dough and everything."

Participants will be tasked with baking signature, technical and showstopper dishes for shows screened over four consecutive evenings from Monday 13 January.

Regular presenter Sue Perkins will be without her usual sidekick Mel Giedroyc, but will be joined by guest hosts Omid Djalili, Ed Byrne and Jo Brand.

The series will also follow Olympic gold medal-winning boxer Nicola Adams as she visits Comic Relief-funded projects in South Africa.

The fundraising Sport Relief weekend takes place from 21 to 23 March with members of the public invited to run, swim or cycle in the Sainsbury's Sport Relief Games. Events will be held at the former Olympic venue in east London, now renamed Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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Remembering the Needy All Year

Nearly a quarter of annual giving by individuals occurs between late November and Jan. 1. That's twice the normal rate and it's easy to see why. People feel compassion toward the needy around the holidays and are motivated to make donations before the tax year ends.

This spike in giving between Thanksgiving and the New Year is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the influx of funds enables charities serving low-income people to meet their needs throughout the upcoming year. On the other hand, this heightened generosity masks the level of animus toward poor people in the U.S.

Last month, right here in The Huffington Post, Linda Tirado described how she often spends her limited income on junk food and cigarettes -- the very sorts of behavior that raises eyebrows and fuels resentment. Though, that's not the reason Tirado's words have gone viral over the past several weeks. Rather, it's because they shockingly uncover why living this way makes so much sense to people facing circumstances like hers. In juggling motherhood and school with working two low-wage jobs, she constantly feels exhausted, defeated, and depressed. She simply doesn't have the wherewithal to act in ways that might lead to a better future.

There are millions of similarly jarring stories among the 15 percent of Americans living in poverty. These are people bereft of hope because they're struggling to make ends meet while lacking the sorts of opportunities to get ahead that existed in prior generations. A 2012 report by the Pew Charitable Trusts revealed that 43 percent of those raised in the bottom income quintile stay there as adults while an astounding 70 percent do not make it to the middle quintile.

These figures highlight why people experiencing hard times need help accessing the American dream. Even though there are no magic bullets for enabling people to move their lives forward, giving can make a significant difference. Charities from coast to coast have track records of efficiently using their donations to fuel opportunity. They mentor at-risk youngsters and teach them marketable job skills, offer kids an enriched early childhood education, make college more affordable, and move the chronically homeless into permanent housing.

Supporting these charities makes good economic sense. A report by the Center for American Progress calculates the total cost of childhood poverty across the educational, criminal justice, and healthcare systems to be an astronomical $500 billion a year. This is why the University of Chicago economist and Nobel Laureate James Heckman has argued that spending on early childhood education is perhaps the best investment we can make in the future productivity of our society.

So as we continue to open our hearts to the needy this holiday season, let's give ourselves a precious gift too: the wisdom to retain this feeling of compassion throughout the entire year to come. Doing so is not only socially just; it's economically essential.

Ira Silver is a professor of sociology at Framingham State University. He blogs at Opportunity For All and is the author of Giving Hope: How You Can Restore the American Dream.

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14 Tips to Engage Your Employees in 2014

A new year means new opportunities -- for you, your team and your company. And it's not only about setting new goals, milestones or profit margins. It is, above all, about engaging and exciting your employees, who are the ones that will help you and your company reach those objectives.

Just as leadership style can be redefined and perfected, so can -- and should -- a company's culture. As president of a franchisee system, I know it's important to constantly innovate and improve to keep all team members on board, and here are the tips I'm applying to make 2014 a banner year.

People First

Strong leaders don't feel threatened by shows of emotion or empathy. Those who lead best understand themselves and others emotionally, match appropriate emotions to different situations, empathize with their team members and form deep-rooted, professional relationships. They make sure their employees are understood, and, in turn, their employees respond accordingly, and a bond is formed. This facilitates and improves teamwork, operations and -- ultimately -- profitability.


Because internal guidance fosters teamwork and support, at Maaco, we recently implemented The Tony Martino Mentoring Program. Tony founded Maaco more than 40 years ago and the foundation he used and valued most involved sharing experience and growing together. Our program today takes what we learned from and loved about Tony, and matches newly-positioned franchisees with seasoned franchisees on our Advisory Council to provide extra guidance and tips in getting their centers off the ground. The program exemplifies one of the key ingredients in making a company successful -- teamwork and internal support -- and is a true legacy from Tony.


An effective leader is one who motivates and influences others, not one who tells people what to do. In order to do this, you must take the lead and set the example. Make sure your company's goals are clearly explained and that you can work with your team to achieve those goals. Then, "get your hands dirty" -- "walk the talk" by doing the work you want your team to do.


Leaders must also ensure that the employees who take the given motivation to the next level and become engaged, communicative and productive are publicly, instantly and consistently rewarded for it. These employees and their efforts should not be taken for granted -- they are the ones who will help you achieve your company goals and, potentially, motivate others to become engaged.


Along with rewarding hard work, it's important to reserve power for those who earn it -- those with merit. In working with people of all ages, backgrounds and personalities, I have learned that it's important to have diverse talent at all points of the organization, and someone with a higher degree or more power is not necessarily an inherent leader. Always have an open mind -- this will help you to recognize potential and promote from within.


Since joining Maaco, I have actively worked with as many franchisees and colleagues as possible to help develop our brand's vision and direction. This allowed me to capture their personal input and infuse it in our company's future. Because of this, these franchisees and colleagues have been engaged and an integral point of productivity because of their personal investment in the company.


Today, when investigative reporting is no longer limited to print, and online research provides more access than ever, companies and leaders have little choice but to be transparent. And to maintain integrity and credibility, it's important to make sure your mission and motivations are reflected in your everyday actions. Beyond this, truthfulness beginning at the top sets an example for all employees and creates an honest organization as a whole.


"Broadcasting" a message simply won't cut it. A great leader with a successful company is one who promotes two-way communication, which means staying quiet and listening up. Without good communication, there can be no trust, understanding or collaboration, all of which are vital to ensure engaged employees and a successful organization.


Along with good listening, organizations should promote responsiveness -- to employees, internal and external audiences, leaders, and more -- in good times and bad. Open communication and responsiveness, as well as honesty, helps facilitate discourse with employees with issues and working together to fix them.


You can't build Rome in a day, and you can't expect your employees to do so, either. Although Maaco has undergone extensive changes this year, with many more planned for the future, all of the changes have been implemented gradually and strategically. Setting realistic goals eliminates unnecessary stress that can hinder quality and quantity of work, create unhappy employees and impede progress in your organization.


An amazing product or service and high profit is not enough to make a successful company, much less to keep employees engaged. A strong, genuine company culture that is distinct and consistent makes employees a part of something more meaningful than just a job. It also solidifies what an organization represents and how operations should be carried out within it, simplifying what's expected from the employees.


Insatiable hunger for knowledge keeps leaders, employees and companies fresh and cutting edge. Always be open to learning new things and promoting education for all employees, no matter how much you think you or they already know. At Maaco, webinars and courses to help with operations and teamwork keep our franchisees and employees engaged and improve our company's profitability.


Along with being open to learning new things, it's important to be ready to implement what develops. Embracing change and adapting to new demands not only keeps a company relevant, but also presents exciting challenges for employees that can make work less routine and even boring. Challenges engage and help employees -- not just the organization -- grow.


Make sure employees don't dread work every morning. Generating a comfortable and enjoyable space, physically and mentally, where employees feel welcome and supported by their peers, is crucial to happiness and productivity. While company growth and profitability may be the overarching goals, you should also be invested in helping your employees grow -- whether it is to promote them within your own organization or help them move onto bigger opportunities. These employees will be not only grateful, but also productive and loyal.

Overall, if you are looking at the new year as an opportunity to reboot, refresh and reorganize your organization, it's important to remember and value your employees in all of the changes you make.

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Obamacare's Benefits Become Real On New Year's Day

When the clock strikes midnight for the new year Wednesday, it also will ring in a new day for the American health care system.

President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law nearly four years ago, and Jan. 1, 2014, culminates a lot of work, strife and anxiety. It also represents the birth of a new health insurance market for individuals who aren't covered by their employers or government programs like Medicare, especially for low-income and uninsured people receiving unprecedented help paying for coverage.

Starting on Wednesday, health insurance companies can't turn away anyone because of their medical histories or pre-existing conditions. Prices can't be higher for people with chronic ailments, or for women, and older individuals can't be charged more than three times what younger customers pay. Basic benefits like hospitalizations, prescription drugs and mental health care must be covered. Annual and lifetime limits to essential coverage are gone. And nearly everyone must obtain health coverage or face a tax penalty under the law's individual mandate.

More than 2.1 million Americans have enrolled in private health insurance plans using the health insurance exchange marketplaces through Dec. 28, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday. In October and November, states reported 3.9 million more signed up for Medicaid, which is expanding to cover more people in 25 states and the District of Columbia, and the Children's Health Insurance Program, although that figure includes people renewing existing benefits. Enrollment surged as the deadline for January coverage, which was Dec. 23 in most states, approached.

"The new law is transformational for our entire health care system, and for millions of Americans who finally have health security," Sebelius said.

These enrollees change the politics of Obamacare. Republicans held dozens of congressional votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, precipitated a government shutdown in a bid to defund the law, brought a Supreme Court challenge to its constitutionality, refused to expand Medicaid in half the states and vowed to undo Obamacare if they won the White House in 2012. Any such efforts in 2014 would entail taking away benefits from millions of people.

The beginning of the first enrollment period under Obamacare, which commenced Oct. 1 and runs through March 31, has been messy. The early weeks and months of the new benefits will bring new challenges as patients, medical providers and insurance companies adapt to the new system.

Lingering technical problems with the federal and state health insurance exchanges will mean some consumers will find the insurance they chose isn't actually in place. Others, whose policies were canceled because they didn't meet the Affordable Care Act's standards, will suffer lapses in their coverage if they couldn't complete applications for new plans in time, or if they couldn't afford costlier replacements on the exchanges.

Obamacare's troubled beginnings, and worries about its uncertain future, have captured national attention since October. But the program's launch also brought relief and hope to people like Nancy Nally of Palm Coast, Fla.

Nally, 42, a self-employed writer and editor, has been uninsured since January 2012. Her husband Michael, 45, lost his job and the family's health benefits in June 2010, after which they turned to an expensive COBRA plan that cost more than their mortgage, Nancy Nally said.

Because she has lupus, Nally couldn't find replacement insurance when the COBRA ran out after 18 months, she said.

"I've had people literally hang up on me mid-sentence when I say the word 'lupus,'" Nally said. "You just can't buy insurance when you have lupus."

Nally has been paying out of pocket for the medicines she needs to stay healthy and for doctor visits and tests she requires to make sure her condition isn't worsening. "I've been doing the stuff I know, for sure, will kill me if I don't do it," she said. Nally avoids doctor visits for routine illnesses and injuries, hasn't had a mammogram in two years and has skipped regular gynecological exams.

After struggling with the health insurance exchange website, Nally finally broke through on Dec. 22 and enrolled. She and her husband will have medical and dental coverage in 2014 for $58 a month, including the tax credits and an extra subsidy for low-income people that cuts their out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles, Nally said. Their 10-year-old daughter, who has juvenile arthritis and autism, is covered by an existing policy that costs $200 a month.

In spite of success stories like Nally's, Obamacare begins 2014 on uncertain ground.

The administration doesn't know how many of the 2.1 million who've enrolled have locked in coverage by paying their first premium, due Jan. 10 in most states. An uncounted number of individuals will find that their enrollments didn't make it through the balky exchange systems. Others will learn their new insurers haven't finished processing their enrollments. And the data available don't show how many people whose policies were canceled because of the law found new coverage, and how many will become uninsured Wednesday.

The Obama administration, health insurers and medical providers are preparing for the confusion that will ensue as individuals with problematic enrollments, along with newly covered people clamoring for health care services, start using their benefits in January. Insurance companies have offered people more time to pay their premiums, the federal government and some states are offering special assistance to those who aren't enrolled because of technological problems, and pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS will dispense drugs to patients while they sort out their coverage.

The administration and states with their own health insurance exchanges remain far from the 7 million private plan enrollments projected by the Congressional Budget Office. Critically, intensified outreach is needed to attract younger and healthier people with lower medical costs to offset the expenses of older, sicker individuals on the exchanges. And tens of millions of low-income Americans remain uninsured, despite many qualifying for Medicaid or generous subsidies.

Some of that targeted assistance is finding its way to the people for whom it was designed. Nathaniel Carroll, a 28-year-old law student in St. Louis, will save hundreds of dollars a month on health insurance next year thanks to the law's tax credits, he said. Carroll and his wife Rebecca, 25, signed up for a policy last week that will cost them $43 a month, down from the roughly $300 he's been paying for a student health plan. Their children, ages 5 and 3, are enrolled in the Children's Health Insurance Program.

"It's always a little bit tight trying to pay the bills," Carroll said. "Now we can think about saving. We can put clothes on the kids, because they're growing."

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Compassion: a Fundamental of Mindful Leadership... and Life

What is the role of compassion in the workplace? Very simply, it is one of the four fundamentals of leadership excellence, of mindful leadership, and of living mindfully. And it can be a new year's resolution that you can implement starting today!

Compassion at Work

Compassion can be brought into each work day through simple acts of kindness. When we choose to take a purposeful pause and offer a colleague a compliment, or a word of encouragement, or inquire into their well-being, we bring kindness into the workplace. And the ripple effect of kindness is limitless. A compassionate leader can transform the most challenging workplace. When a leader embodies compassion and is seen as a kind person, even his or her toughest messages are more likely to be received well. After all, when we work with someone who honestly respects, includes, and values us, it goes a long way to making us trust his or her decisions.

Being kind is not the same, however, as being polite, or politically correct. Kindness comes from compassion, an authentic connection to others and the pains and joys they feel. If it does not come from the heart, it can have a disastrous effect. When someone we have a significant relationship with, like a boss or a colleague, is just going through the motions, asking "How are you?" but not really caring to stay around for an answer longer than "fine," we notice the insincerity. When we encounter that person, aloof and disconnected, we don't feel respected, included, or valued. We feel invisible."

Excerpt from Finding the Space to Lead: A Practical Guide to Mindful Leadership

So, as we begin a new year, perhaps we can each form an intention to take a purposeful pause, to begin to understand those around us just a little bit better, and to bring small acts of kindness to our colleagues. What might the experience of work be like if we each began to bring a small act of kindness to those we work with each day? It may only take a few moments, and need not cost anything, so why not give it a try? The ripple effect might surprise you.

Happy New Year!

-- Janice

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10 Qualities of Successful Mobile Apps in Startup Tech Companies


Mobile apps are a common development choice for startup tech companies, but in order to be successful you'll need to pay careful attention to these 10 important qualities.

Technology's evolutionary path has led us to an age where the most significant developments seem to be the ones that can fit on a smartphone. Conventional tech companies are finding new ways to offer their products and services in a digestible, minimal form while some new tech companies are focusing on promoting mobile-exclusive products.

Regardless of your industry or business model, you'll need to make sure your mobile app has these 10 qualities if you want it to be successful:

1. Platform appropriate. Your app should be optimized for a mobile user, taking advantage of the natural qualities of the smartphone or tablet. Make sure your app is compatible and functional for all brands and devices.

2. Pretty. Like it or not, your app needs to look amazing. Even the best app idea could falter if it isn't packaged in a fully branded, colorfully enticing way.

3. Easy. Your app needs to be easy to install, easy to access, and easy to use. Sketch out how you think you'd like your app to work and spend time making it simpler.

4. Unique. Look at your competition. Are you just a modified copy of their model? Make sure your idea is unique enough to stand on its own.

5. Memorable. Your user should be left with a major impression. Use any design, wording, and interface techniques you can to make sure your user never forgets their experience.

6. Shareable. The most successful mobile apps are the ones that are easily shareable. Your app needs to have a feature that rewards users for sharing it with other users.

7. Spontaneous. Any app needs to be accessible for short bursts of user activity. If your app only is good for long, drawn-out sessions of use, it probably won't succeed.

8. Cheap. It's a no-brainer. The cheaper something is, the more users are likely to download it. Try a free version coupled with a full version.

9. Demographic targeted. Know your audience. Not everyone in the world will want your app, so focus on the users who will.

10. Fun. Possibly the most important quality in any app is its level of enjoyability. Take the time to entertain your users in addition to whatever your app's primary function is.

There are many ingredients in the formula to mobile app success, but if these 10 characteristics are prominent in your idea, you'll be on a good path forward. Work hard, test thoroughly, and your app could be the next one to change the world.

Jose Vasquez is a serial entrepreneur and tech enthusiast dedicated to helping startup technology companies get the direction and momentum they need to succeed. As the founder of Build. Brand. Blast., Jose has established a collective resource for tech entrepreneurs to consult when brainstorming, creating, launching, or expanding a new business. Jose is also the founder and CEO of Quez Media Marketing, a marketing firm that combines technology and creativity to help new and growing companies get the results they need.

Jose graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.

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