STATUS SYMBOLS

Gone are the days of the 1950’s when the most prized status symbol was a toaster and foam sofa, and in the 1960’s a washing machine. Today it’s all about houses around the world, haute couture clothes, cars, art, wine, private jets, yachts and even a trophy wife.

But not in Britain where Hot Tubs are the new status symbol there!

In a survey released today hot tubs are thought of as the greatest status symbol followed by a walk-in wardrobe, US style Sub Zero fridge and music speakers in every room. It looks like everyone will be popping the champagne and getting into their swim suit post Olympics.

Other newer items that have hit status symbol prestige are –

Specialty bikes (as in the peddling type). Retailers of custom bikes command only 14 percent of the market, but 44 percent of the dollars and it’s nothing for someone to spend $30,000 on one that isn’t even made to race.

If cycling isn’t your thing, how about an elite fragrance? A fragrance that is designed from your DNA Genetic code and customized individually.

If you are all about animals a Chinese buyer recently paid $200,000 for a racing pigeon, while another paid $1.5 million for an 11-month old red Tibetan mastiff dog named Big Splash (the world’s most expensive dog)

But if you are old school and still like splurging on a car, in Singapore you can now park your pride and joy in your living room at this new apartment block (apartments go for between $7.5mill and $24mill)

http://sg.news.yahoo.com/luxury-car-in-condo-apartment-at-scotts-road.html

SMART ART

Last week two new pieces of artwork arrived that I had ordered to hang in my office at home (and they look absolutely amazing!). Not wanting to break the bank, but still wanting something unique, I went with some customized art. I know you are probably thinking of those awful pop art prints that hung everywhere at one time, or a massive black and white family shot that has been blown up on to a canvas… you can relax, my taste is a tad more sophisticated. I went with two specific items – and not only are they great for home, but can add a unique feel to an office.

1. A customized map which is available in any colour, size, pattern you like. It comes with pins so you can track any location around the world and you can print whatever wording you like on it too (mine is pictured above).
Perfect for –
a) Remembering family holidays
b) As a gift (especially a wedding present)
c) Business – hang it in reception or a meeting room so you can show office locations around the world

2. A “Favourite Things”. All of your cherished things – quotes, holiday locations, people, movies, experiences, dates, food, values – all on one canvas and the list is endless. Every house should have one. And again completely tailored and available in any colour and size.
Perfect for –
a) Children’s rooms
b) Gifts
c) Business – Company values, office locations, customer lists… whatever your style.

Best place to source this from? After a lot of research from all over the globe, I found one supplier who provides not only a high quality finished product, but has the artistic prowess to design something special for each individual.

Check out the BLANK website to see for yourself – http://www.blankbespokeart.com/Gallery

The best thing… the customized art starts from only USD$425 and they can be shipped anywhere in the world!

CARD TRICKS

I am old school and love receiving a business card that is completely out of the box and wows me. Business cards are one thing that you can afford to be creative on as after all, they should leave a lasting impression. And if you receive one that you think is great you are less likely to throw it away as soon as you get back to your desk.

Visiting cards first appeared around the 15th century in China and were used as a means for aristocrats to announce their arrival to whomever they were visiting. This tradition then moved on to nobles in France and England and the business card was born!

Things to consider if you are on the market for new business cards:

Materials and Effects – Most are printed on card stock, but you may want to consider a coating, a embellishment, embossing, or specialized material (eg wood)

Size and Shape – Be creative! They can be any size and not just rectangle, think round edges, cut out shapes…

Printing Methods – Digital is the most popular, Letterpress will give you better quality and Engraved will give you another option.

Colour & Style - There are unlimited options with some imagination. Four colour process is standard and recommended. Try and keep a similar look to your website and let the card reflect what it is you actually do.

But if you are opposed to business cards you may like to try out some new alternatives.

LinkedIn has the CardMunch app that digitizes an analog card. It captures the image of a business card, recognizes it and then saves it on your phone as a contact. It also integrates that person’s information from his or her profile on LinkedIn.

You can also create a digital card using Cardcloud that can be delivered by email.

But one important tip – Try to learn the basics of foreign customs regarding presenting yourself and the exchange of business cards before your next overseas work trip, otherwise it could be over before you have even started your meeting!

DO YOU LIKE GARDEN GNOMES?

Business headlines continue to be ones of billions of dollars being wiped from the markets and job cuts from all the multinational companies. People are looking for new career opportunities, but are they fully prepared with what questions they might be asked?

It’s been a very long time since I have been in a job interview, so my approach is probably quite an “old school” one, which may or may not be a good thing… the jury’s still out.

The fundamentals still remain the same, and stick to these at all costs.
The employer really wants to know -


1. Can you do the job?
2. Will you love the job?
3. Can we tolerate working with you?

BUT… always be prepared. Here are a few of the stranger questions you may be asked.

“How would you get an elephant into a refrigerator?” — Horizon Group Properties

“What do you think of garden gnomes?” — Trader Joe’s

“If Germans were the tallest people in the world, how would you prove it?” — Hewlett-Packard

“How many people are using Facebook in San Francisco at 2:30 on a Friday?” — Google

“Just entertain me for five minutes. I’m not going to talk.” — Acosta

“Would Mahatma Gandhi have made a good software engineer?” – Deloitte

“Room, desk and car – which do you clean first?” – Pinkberry

“If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out?” – Goldman Sachs

What is the strangest question you have ever been asked in an interview??

PLASTIC FANTASTIC

Love them or hate them, credit cards make the world go round. After all, how could you possibly shop online without one! And what about all those frequent flyer points!

The first credit cards were merchant specific cards starting in 1900 with several hotels, but the true credit card was invented in 1950 by Ralph Schneider and Frank X. McNamara, aka The Diners Club! Chase and Bank of America (Visa) came out with their first credit cards in 1958, and then cards became most popular when the magnetic strip was available in 1970.

Around the world, there are now 10,000 credit card transactions made every second.

The average credit card debt per adult – USA is approximately $3,752 and Australia it is $3,141

Over 609.8 million credit cards are held by U.S. consumers and the average person holds 3.5 each

UK – the number of adults with a credit or charge card is 31.2 million, representing 64% of the adult population. And the average value of online credit card transactions is $140.

Australia – there are an estimated 36 million debit cards and 16 million credit cards in circulation. Mortgage, credit card and personal loan debts are up 71 per cent from just five years ago

In Singapore the number of credit cards issued has crossed the 6 million mark, which works out to approx. 6 cards per eligible cardholder

The average age of obtaining your first credit card is 20.8 years old

New Jersey and New Hampshire, both at 20%, have the highest concentration of credit card holders with 10 or more cards.

Visa is by far the most popular card, followed by Mastercard and Amex.

Call it poor planning or a holiday hangover! If you charged $4,200 on your credit card in 2010, with an annual interest rate of 14.73 percent (the average APR), it would take you eight years to pay off the balance if you made no additional charges and made only the minimum payment each month. Even more painful, you’d rack up $1,343 in interest charges over that eight-year span.

Warning! Warning! They should be handled with care, and paid in full each month, if you want to avoid getting yourself in serious debt. So don’t rush out to buy that Chanel handbag or new set of golf clubs if you really can’t afford them.

ARE YOU RICH?

The definition of “Rich”: having wealth or great possessions; abundantly supplied with resources, means, or funds.

So what does that exactly mean in 2012?

In a recent survey by Gallup, you’re rich if you have $1 million in assets, or $150k in annual income per person (as answered by people surveyed in the USA). The government usually says it’s a salary of $250k (which only accounts for 1% of Americans).

In China, Super Rich is defined as a person who holds assets worth at least 100 million yuan (USD$15mill). The China Daily estimates there are 8,200 of these individuals currently residing in Shanghai. 75% are business owners and 25% are made up of investors (mostly real estate) But the super-rich club of Shanghai is only the third largest in China though. Beijing holds the pole position, while Shenzhen is second.

Author Nassim Taleb explores the whole concept in his book “Fooled by Randomness” where he uses a great antidote about some fictional (?) neighbours. Was it just plain luck that one guy was richer than the other? We will never know if hard work really pays off.

NUMBER ONE MUM’S!

Although dates vary around the world, this Sunday we celebrate “Mother’s Day” in Australia, USA, Singapore, Turkey, Philippines, Greece and Pakistan to name a few.

The modern holiday was first celebrated in the U.S. in 1907, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother. She then began a campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the US. Be careful what you wish for as although she was successful in 191, she was already disappointed with the days commercialization by the 1920s. She was so disenchanted that she actually became a major opponent of what the holiday had become and spent all her inheritance and the rest of her life fighting what she saw as an abuse of the celebration.

It is possible that the holiday would have withered over time without the support and continuous promotion of the florist industries and other commercial industries and is now expected to generate the second highest sales for a holiday weekend in the US.

The average Mother’s Day shopper is expected to spend as much as $152.52 on gifts, with 66 percent of shoppers buying flowers, 33 percent buying clothes and 54 percent dining out.

So to all the mum’s out there, enjoy your burnt toast and cup of tea in bed (if your children are allowed to make hot drinks).

And for everyone, remember to make your mum feel special on Sunday as you only get one.