TURCOPHOBIA OF GERMANS

 

Turkish atrocities bring Turcophobia. Anti-Turkish remarks by Andre Poggenburg have resulted to a warning from his party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD). Poggenburg also faces at least one potential hate speech prosecution.

Poggenburg’s depiction of people of Turkish origin in Germany as camel drivers and caraway seed traders resulted Friday is a formal admonishment from the AfD’s federal executive.

Christian Luth told us the AfD warning was adopted unanimously by executive members.

Poggenburg, who chairs the AfD’s Saxony-Anhalt state branch, delivered his latest tirade during an end-of-Carnival event in Nentmannsdorf, a township south of Dresden in the neighboring state of Saxony. Known as political Ash Wednesday, each of Germany’s political parties gather for a day of drinking and banter.

1,200 AfD adherents were cheering his speech, with another AfD firebrand Björn Höcke and far-right publicist Jürgen Elsässer also on the stage.

Prosecutors in Dresden, already looking into a complaint lodged by a private person, have indicated that a prosecution foreshadowed by the Turkish Community in Germany,TGD, has not yet arrived.

Poggenburg, who labeled his address as political satire, was responding to objections by the Turkish Community to plans by Merkel’s next intended coalition to add the expression Heimat to the federal interior ministry’s designation.

German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, visiting Saxony-Anhalt on Thursday, spoke of politicians who sought to turn hateful behavior into strategy.

Sachsen-Anhalt’s Protestant bishop, Ilse Junkermann, on Friday said Poggenburg’s speech exhibited once again how the AfD used undisguised hatred to defame people.

“Our society needs responsible persons with prudence and farsightedness and not parliamentarians blinded by hate and contempt of others,” she said.

The deputy chairman of Saxony-Anhalt’s center-left Social Democrats, Andreas Steppuhn, on Friday described Poggenburg’s speech as far-right extremist, racist and inhumanely contemptuous that amounted to an open attack on the foundations of democracy.

TGD Turkish community chairman, Gökay Sofuoglu, told the Essen-based Funke Media Group on Thursday that Poppeburg’s demeanor reminded him of a speech from Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s propaganda minister.

Germany’s VfS federal domestic intelligence agency based in Cologne said on Friday in the wake of Poggenburg’s utterances it saw no sufficient evidence to placed the AfD under surveillance for far-right extremism.

German law on intelligence gathering sets procedures for surveillance of persons or parties deemed as risks to the nation’s free democratic order, requiring the VfS to report to a special parliamentary committee.

Professor Hajo Funke, a researcher on extremism in Germany, told us that Poggenburg’s speech amounted to racist rabble-rousing against the largest minority in Germany, the Turks.

“What Poggenburg said reminds me – and I say this for the first time – of what the Gauleiter in Berlin in the 1920s, Joseph Goebbels, unleashed in the way of agitation,” said Funke.

In last September’s federal election, the AfD entered the Bundestag parliament, becoming a 92-member opposition group. It had already garnered opposition seats in 14 regional state assemblies across Germany.

One for all and all for one.  Now is the time for EU to throw the invading motherfucking Turks out of Cyprus.  There is a time for everything under heaven, and now is the time for EU to go to war against Turkey.  Enough is enough with the barbarity of corrupt terrorist Turkey.  Throw those fucking Turks out of EU now.

EU has only one enemy, Turkey, a NATO member! Turkey has invaded Northern Cyprus and harasses Greece every single day. Turkey is a big threat to EU. An EU army could throw the invading Turkish army out of the occupied Northern Cyprus very easily. NATO cannot do that, unless it expelled Turkey. The two British bases in Cyprus must help the EU army to expel the Turkish troops.

Juncker committed EU to the concept of collective defense to confront Turkey. A Turkish attack on any one EU member shall be considered an attack against them all. Teflon Sultan Erdoğan once more revealed his expansionist Neo-Ottoman vision. Jihadi-in-chief Erdoğan, the major patron of Jihadis, declared the borders of Turkish heart are deep inside Europe up to Vienna, presenting his understanding that Balkans and Eastern Europe belong to Turkey!

Corrupt terrorist Erdoğan went so far as to say that in their minds, Turks could not separate Andrianopolis from Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city! In his declaration, the corrupt terrorist Turkish President brought up the borders of countries spanning from Thrace and the Balkans to north Africa, western Europe and the Caucus regions, adding that Turkey is not only Turkey. “Except the eighty million Turkish citizens, Turkey has a responsibility to hundreds of millions of brothers in geographic areas connected with us culturally and historically”, corrupt terrorist Erdoğan underlined. That responsibility means invading the countries where some Turks have migrated!

Corrupt terrorist Erdoğan declared many Greek islands are in a gray area! He refuses to understand that there are gray areas in his brain, not in the Aegean. Turkey is now right back to its usual bullying tactics over the Aegean. For the past five years, the Aegean has witnessed an unprecedented rise in aggressive and provocative behavior by a growingly unstable Turkey, whose politicians openly threaten Greece. The safety and stability of the Aegean isn’t open to debate. The Aegean has been a Greek sea for many millennia, and bewildered Erdoğan cannot change that.

Corrupt terrorist Erdoğan’s stupid declaration caused a strong reaction from European governments, which pointed out the Balkans and Eastern Europe do not belong to Turkey and any other thought is dangerous and unacceptable. The European governments called the corrupt terrorist Turkish President to order, claiming his inflammatory declarations bring the winds of a new Balkan war. The public stirring of historical, and especially border disputes, that have been irrevocably and definitively settled in the Lausanne Treaty by laying down an objective and binding status quo for all, is provocative and undermines the regional stability. The respect of International Law and Treaties warrants the voicing of responsible views detached from outdated revisionisms.

Greek-Turkish relations are a European issue. Those who think that international law is the law of the mighty are wrong. Europeans won’t tolerate it.  There is no Turkish republic of Northern Cyprus, there is only invasion and occupation. There is no government entity there. There is no doubt about it. Relations between Greece and Turkey are a European issue. It is good that the European Union realizes that when Greeks are defending their national issues, they are also defending Europe’s. UK, France, Germany, and Italy must send troops to throw the invading Turkish army out of Northern Cyprus. 

Turkey became a member of NATO in 1952. Twenty-two years later, in 1974, the Turkish military launched a brutal invasion of Cyprus, a virtually defenseless country that had no air force, no navy and no army, other than a small national guard.

Ignoring all calls from the United Nations, including a UN ceasefire, the Turkish army proceeded to kill at least 5,000 Greek Cypriots, arrested and placed thousands in concentration camps, and raped Greek Cypriot women of all ages from 12 to 71 according to the European Commission of Human Rights. They also destroyed many churches and turned others into mosques, stables and military depots, among other things, in an attempt to wipe out the island’s historic Hellenic and Christian identity through the destruction of its cultural heritage.

The Turkish army brutalized and terrorized at least 170,000 indigenous Greek Cypriots into fleeing to the free, southern part of the island, seized their properties, and replaced them with illegal settlers from Turkey. That is how Ankara forcibly created a Turkish majority in the northern part of the island, backed by the soldiers it continues to deploy there.

Turkey still occupies 38% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, after it ethnically cleansed the Greek Cypriot population. The occupied territory has thus been transformed into a Turkish province in all but name.

40,000 Turkish troops remain in Cyprus as a presence that prevents securing the human rights of Greek Cypriots. Turkey has been found guilty of mass violations of human rights by the European Commission and the Court of Human Rights, including the right to life, the right to property, liberty, and security of person, freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, and the prohibition of discrimination.

Turkey nevertheless continues to refer to the events of 1974 — which included mass murder, torture, abduction and rape, and which turned tens of thousands of Cypriots into refugees in their own homeland — as a peace operation. It also continues to try to silence anyone who dares to criticize the invasion and its crimes. Even George Orwell might be shocked at the level of Turkey’s doublethink and newspeak.

The key international convention that establishes sovereignty over territorial seas, and rights in continental shelves and exclusive economic zones (EEZ), is the United Nations law of the seas, UNCLOS. It provides a legal framework for the signatory countries for ownership rights and jurisdiction concerning these areas.

The legal framework covers, among others, rights to natural resources in these areas, for the purpose of exploring and exploiting them, right to exercise jurisdiction over them, controls to protect and preserve the marine environment in them, and claims for compensation. UNCLOS has been ratified by 167 states.

Cyprus proclaimed its EEZ in accordance to UNCLOS and launched this with the UN in 2004. It entered into bi-lateral EEZ boundary agreements with all its neighbors, but not corrupt terrorist Turkey. Some have been fully ratified, others are being held by disputes not involving Cyprus.

Cyprus claim to its EEZ is recognized by EU, USA, and the international community. It is on this basis that Cyprus has successfully conducted offshore licensing rounds and exploration of the licensed blocks, with the participation of major, reputable, international oil and gas companies.

However, corrupt terrorist Turkey is disputing Cyprus’ rights to an EEZ and its offshore hydrocarbon deposits. In effect, corrupt terrorist Turkey claims that its continental shelf has precedence and islands, such as Cyprus, are not entitled to full EEZs. It claims that the capacity of islands to generate maritime zones should be limited in competition with the continental coastal states!

This is also Turkey’s argument in its lengthy dispute with Greece over the limits of their borders in the Aegean Sea and in the Mediterranean. The dispute nearly resulted in war between the two countries on several occasions and it is a source of constant conflict. At the instigation of corrupt terrorist Turkey, Turcocypriots have also laid claim to the rest of Cyprus’ EEZ, in effect leaving Cyprus with little of its EEZ outside its 12-mile territorial waters.

Turkey stupid claims that it has sovereign and legitimate rights to proclaim its EEZ including the maritime area bounded between 32°16’18’’ E longitude and 33°40’N latitude covering a jurisdictional area of at least 145,000 square km, but has not yet officially declared an EEZ to the UN.

The western boundary of Turkey’s claimed EEZ may be on 27°22’E longitude, the final status of which is to be determined in accordance with future delimitation agreements between all concerned parties.

Turkey claims that its EEZ should be coextensive with its continental shelf, as defined in notes submitted by corrupt terrorist Turkey to the UN in March 2004 and March 2013, emanating from what it calls its ipso facto and ab initio rights.

Turkey’s position in EEZ delimitation in the East Med is based on what it calls the equity principle that calls for consideration of special circumstances to respect proportionality and non-encroachment rules.

Especially with respect to Greek islands and Cyprus against the disadvantaged Turkish mainland, corrupt terrorist Turkey takes the view that relative lengths of adjacent coastlines in adjusting an equidistant line for maritime delimitation should govern EEZ delimitation in the East Med.

Turkey is a non-party to the UNCLOS treaty, and as such it claims it is not legally enforceable against it, having declined to sign and ratify it.

In addition, Turkey does not recognize Cyprus EEZ delimitation agreements with Egypt, Lebanon, and Israel. It claims that as a de facto divided island, the Republic of Cyprus cannot represent the interests of the northern part of Cyprus unless the island is reunited, with a single EEZ.

It also claims that given that Turkey’s respective coastline is more than twenty times longer than that of Cyprus, the latter’s EEZ toward the west should only be coextensive with its 12-mile-wide territorial waters according to Turkish view.

Turkey believes that the EEZ delimitation issue with Cyprus is directly linked to the wider context of bi-communal talks and reconciliation on the island, which is part of the ongoing comprehensive settlement negotiations.

As such it should be left to the discretion of the new federal government, should one be formed, as opposed to unilateral pursuits by the current government of Cyprus. Aegean issues are very much related to Mediterranean issues. Until these are resolved, Turkey will maintain its claim on Cyprus’ EEZ.

Turcocypriots have laid their own claim on Cyprus’ EEZ under the instigation and pressure from corrupt terrorist Turkey. This is covered by three pseudo-laws passed between June 2002 and January 2012 delimiting the territorial waters and EEZ of northern Cyprus. They state that the principle of equity will be utilized in such delimitation activities and detail the jurisdiction rights of Turcocypriots within this EEZ.

Turcocypriots also signed a Continental Shelf Delimitation Agreement with corrupt terrorist Turkey in September 2011. This Agreement states that it has been signed in line with international law and with respect to the principle of equity.

It is on this basis that Turcocypriots declared an EEZ which in effect claims that half of Cyprus EEZ belongs to them, including blocks 1,2,3,8,9,12 &13. Clearly, this is a highly implausible claim, made for tactical political reasons and has no legal basis as Turcocypriots do not constitute an UN-recognized state.
As a result of these positions, corrupt terrorist Turkey considers any activities by Cyprus in block 7 and west of it, including blocks 1,4,5,6, to be a red-line, which will cause it to intervene. How will this be pursued in practice is not clear.

The position of the oil companies is that blocks in Cyprus’ EEZ are awarded to them legally and they will proceed with exploration and drilling. They have the political support of their countries, ie Italy, France and USA. Recent statements from these countries support this.

Turkey’s position is untenable. Cyprus declaration of its EEZ and delimitation agreements with neighboring countries are in accordance with UNCLOS and are recognized by its neighbors and the international community. It is also untenable for legal reasons. UNCLOS has secured such a widespread global recognition, that most international lawyers consider its provisions on maritime boundaries and undersea resources as part of customary international law.

This means they are binding on all states whether they have acceded to UNCLOS or not. In addition, corrupt terrorist Turkey has concluded continental shelf and EEZ boundary agreements in the Black Sea with Bulgaria and Ukraine, as well as a continental shelf agreement with northern Cyprus, all utilizing UNCLOS principles.

In effect these reinforce the relevance of UNCLOS to Turkey. It cannot choose to apply it preferentially, ie in some areas and not in others. The arguments it uses ignore small, uninhabited, islands. This hardly applies to Cyprus – a UN and EU member state. In a contradiction, again, it recognizes the rights of northern Cyprus to an EEZ and has even agreed to continental shelf delimitation with it, even though it is part of an island!

Sooner than later Cyprus will have to confront these illogical and contradictory positions of corrupt terrorist Turkey and possibly take this case to international court arbitration. Total and Eni plan to start seismic surveys in block 6 next year. Turkey is threatening enforcement of red lines and even drilling in block 6. This must be confronted.

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CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST U.S. BANCORP

 

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced criminal charges against U.S. Bancorp consisting of two felony violations of the Bank Secrecy Act by its subsidiary, U.S. Bank National Association (the “Bank”), the fifth largest bank in the United States, for willfully failing to have an adequate anti-money laundering program (“AML”) and willfully failing to file a suspicious activity report (“SAR”). The case is assigned to United States District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan. 

Berman also announced an agreement under which USB agreed to accept responsibility for its conduct by stipulating to the accuracy of an extensive Statement of Facts, pay a $528 million penalty, and continue reforms of its BSA/AML compliance program. Assuming USB’s continued compliance with the Agreement, the Government has agreed to defer prosecution for a period of two years, after which time the Government will seek to dismiss the charges.  The Agreement is pending review by the Court.  The penalty shall be collected through the Bank’s forfeiture to the United States of $453 million in a civil forfeiture action also filed today, with the remaining $75 million satisfied by the Bank’s payment of a civil money penalty assessed by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (the “OCC”).

Berman told us:  U.S. Bank’s AML program was highly inadequate.  The Bank operated the program ‘on the cheap’ by restricting headcount and other compliance resources, and then imposed hard caps on the number of transactions subject to AML review in order to create the appearance that the program was operating properly.  The Bank also concealed its wrongful approach from the OCC.  As a result, U.S Bank failed to detect and investigate large numbers of suspicious transactions.  With today’s resolution, the Bank has accepted responsibility for its criminal conduct and committed to completing the reform of its AML program.

The OCC, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”), and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (”FRB”) have also reached agreements with the Bank to resolve related regulatory actions.  For purposes of its action, which was also filed today, FinCEN is represented by this Office’s Civil Division.  FinCEN’s agreement with the Bank requires the Bank to pay an additional $70 million for civil violations of the BSA, and it includes further admissions by the Bank, including that the Bank filed more than 5,000 currency transaction reports with incomplete and inaccurate information, which impeded law enforcement’s ability to identify and track potentially unlawful behavior.  FinCEN’s agreement with the Bank is pending review by the Court.

From 2009 and continuing until 2014, USB willfully failed to establish, implement, and maintain an adequate AML program.  Among other things, USB capped the number of alerts generated by its transaction monitoring systems, basing the number of such alerts on staffing levels and resources, rather than setting thresholds for such alerts that corresponded to a transaction’s level of risk.  The Bank deliberately concealed this from the OCC, the Bank’s primary regulator. 

USB was well aware that these practices were improper, were resulting in the Bank missing substantial numbers of suspicious transactions, and were placing the Bank at risk of regulatory action.  Bank documentation from as early as 2005 acknowledged that alert limits were based on staffing levels and, as a result, a risk item for the bank.  For example, in a December 1, 2009,F memo from the Bank’s then AML Officer (the “AMLO”) to the then Chief Compliance Officer (the “CCO), the AMLO explained that while the Bank was experiencing significant increases in SAR volumes, the Bank’s staff was “stretched dangerously thin” and warned that a “regulator could very easily argue that this testing should lead to an increase in the number of queries worked.”  The Bank conducted below-threshold testing (“BTT”), which consisted of investigating a limited number of transactions that fell outside alert limits to see if thresholds should be adjusted so that more alerts would be investigated.  The Bank’s BTT regularly found that SARs should have been filed on more than 25 percent, and as much as 80 percent, of the tested transactions.  Rather than increase resources and lower thresholds to detect such suspicious activity, as repeatedly requested by the responsible AML employees, the Bank instead decided to stop conducting BTT altogether.

An OCC examiner assigned to the Bank repeatedly warned USB officials, including the AMLO, of the impropriety of managing the Bank’s monitoring programs based on the size of its staff and other resources.  Knowing that the OCC would find USB’s resource-driven alert limits to be improper, Bank officials, including the CCO, deliberately concealed these practices from the OCC.  For example, a Bank employee deliberately excluded references to resource limitations from the minutes of an internal Bank meeting for fear that the OCC would disapprove of the Bank’s practices, and in order to protect himself and his supervisor from adverse consequences.  Indeed, the AMLO described USB’s AML program to another senior manager as an effort to use “smoke and mirrors” to “pull the wool over the eyes” of the OCC.

USB also failed to monitor Western Union (“WU”) transactions involving non-customers of the Bank that took place at Bank branches.  The Bank processed WU transactions involving non-customers even though they would not be subject to the Bank’s transaction monitoring systems.  Even when Bank employees flagged specific non-customer transactions raising AML-related concerns, the transactions went uninvestigated.  It was not until July 1, 2014, that the Bank implemented a new policy that prohibited WU transactions by non-customers.

In the course of this investigation, the Bank analyzed the impact of its deficient monitoring practices.  For just the six months prior to taking steps to remedy the practices, the Bank’s analysis resulted in the generation of an additional 24,179 alerts and the filing of 2,121 SARs.

USB’s Failure to Timely File Suspicious Activity Reports Relating to Scott Tucker

From October 2011 through November 2013, the Bank willfully failed to timely report suspicious banking activities of Scott Tucker, its longtime customer, despite being on notice that Tucker had been using the Bank to launder proceeds from an illegal and fraudulent payday lending scheme using a series of sham bank accounts opened under the name of companies nominally owned by various Native American tribes (the “Tribal Companies”).  From 2008 through 2012, Tucker’s companies extended approximately five million loans to customers across the country, while generating more than $2 billion in revenues and hundreds of millions of dollars in profits.  Most of this money flowed through accounts that Tucker maintained at the Bank.

USB employees responsible for servicing Tucker’s ongoing account activity disregarded numerous red flags that Tucker was using the tribes to conceal his ownership of the accounts.  For example, Tucker spent large sums of monies from accounts in the names of Tribal Companies on personal items, including tens of millions of dollars on a vacation home in Aspen and on Tucker’s professional Ferrari racing team.  USB also received subpoenas from regulators investigating Tucker’s businesses.  In September 2011, after news organizations published reports examining Tucker’s history and questionable business practices, the Bank reviewed Tucker’s accounts, and an AML investigator reported to supervisors, among other things, that “it looks as though Mr. Tucker is quite the slippery individual” who “really does hide behind a bunch of shell companies.”  Based on its findings, the Bank closed the accounts in the names of the Tribal Companies but failed to file a SAR.

The Bank also left open Tucker’s non-tribal accounts and opened new ones, allowing over $176 million more from his illegal payday business to flow into the Bank.  Despite also learning of an April 2012 Federal Trade Commission lawsuit against Tucker and the Tribal Companies, the Bank did not file a SAR regarding Tucker until served with a subpoena by this Office in November 2013.

On October 13, 2017, Tucker was convicted in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York of various offenses arising from his payday lending scheme.  The Government intends to recommend that the amounts forfeited by USB be distributed to victims of Tucker’s scheme, consistent with the applicable Department of Justice regulations, through the ongoing remission process.

Big fines paid by businesses that break the law provide no incentive for companies to change cultures that lead to that illegal activity. Even large fines and bad publicity are often viewed as a cost of doing business rather than a deterrent for companies that break the law. And a common federal tactic, so-called deferred prosecution, is in effect a get out of jail free card for executives.

Although the public might like to see accused executives wind up behind bars, they don’t because the U.S. Department of Justice finds it easier to prosecute corporations instead of the people who run them. 

What incentive would work to change corporate behavior? The threat of prison. Executives accused of white-collar crimes fear prison, and they fear it mightily. They would have paid any amount of money, done anything to avoid going to prison. So prison does have a major deterrent effect.

Until the late 1990s, the United States, along with most of the developed world, prosecuted individuals — not corporations — in cases of white-collar crime. That had been the prevailing view of the Department of Justice for decades and it made a good deal of sense. Corporations are not robots that go out and commit crimes by themselves.

The practice changed for a variety of reasons, but the driving factor was cost. Building a criminal case against a high-level executive is a lengthy and complex process. It can take several years of patiently flipping low-level members of an organization to compile enough evidence to prosecute the people at the top. There’s always a danger that the low-level types will lie to save their necks, and there’s no guarantee that the work will result in a prosecution, let alone a conviction.

But prosecuting a corporation is faster and cheaper. Corporations can’t be in a state of perpetual war with the government. The stakes are too high. You know in advance that sooner or later they will come to terms and it will never go to trial. Plus there’s a bonus for ambitious prosecutors: If packaged right, prosecution of corporations can be politically appealing.

As prosecutors changed strategy, they began to use deferred prosecution. That appeared in the New York Review of Books in 2015, deferred prosecution came into vogue in the 1930s, as a way to help juvenile offenders. Prosecutors could defer prosecution of a juvenile if the young offender agreed to enter a rehabilitation program. Offenders who completed the program would not be charged.

By the late 1990s, prosecutors agreed to defer corporate prosecution if the business agreed to pay a fine and to adopt various measures designed to rehabilitate the company’s culture.

Deferred prosecutions averaged 35 a year between 2007 and 2012, the last year for which data are available. Crimes for which prosecution was deferred included felony violations of the securities laws, banking laws, antitrust laws, anti-money-laundering laws, food and drug laws, foreign corrupt practices laws, and numerous provisions of the general federal criminal code.

Deferred prosecution of white-collar crime has been used for some 20 years, more than enough time to see if it has served as a deterrent to crime or encouraged positive changes in corporate culture. It hasn’t.

More than half of the people who committed serious fraud offenses in the last few years were recidivists. That figure suggests that the practice of going after companies but not individuals has not changed the corporate culture in which most white-collar crimes are committed. But even if deferred prosecution were effective, it would not excuse not going after the individuals, because they are still the people who did the crime.

Virtually every 21st century business scandal is reducible to a morality tale of a technology that allows us to do things we couldn’t before, coupled with major institutional failures that were enabled by failures of omission and commission of corporate leaders.

Consider the major, self-inflicted crises at Wells Fargo, where two million accounts were opened without customers’ knowledge, or at Volkswagen, where emissions data was falsified, or News Corp, where editors illegally hacked cell phones to publish private information.

These are different from the kind of product-safety scandals we grew accustomed to in the 20th century. And yet most business schools and leadership development programs still focus on those. Consider the Columbia and Challenger space shuttle disasters. These are still two of the most popular case studies taught in business schools, and because of them, we believe we know why organizations self-inflict crises. Countless executives and MBAs have studied the key lessons, learning about individual and institutional biases that warp our world views. They learn that the absence of psychological safety keeps team members from disagreeing with dominant opinions. They learn that organizational failures result from rigid reporting lines, “one right way” problem-solving, cultures that shoot – or specify unreasonable standards for – the messenger, and restrictive communications protocols. These lessons are valuable, but incomplete for today’s world.

Digital technologies today enable individual employees to do much more than they could before. Mid-tier executives, who have serious decision-making power devolved to them (compared to 25 years ago) drive this workflow. The reasons behind this vary by organization, but they are often rooted in the cultures that the ease and openness of information sharing have spawned. These executives lead teams in which globally dispersed people from multiple organizations collaborate on critical tasks.

But in most companies, despite the free-flow of exchanges, they still lack information they need, can’t communicate with team members in real time, or can’t foresee the implications of key decisions. Undoubtedly, one of them pulls the trigger when something goes wrong – whether it is an inability to design to needed standards at Volkswagen or the opening of unauthorized accounts at Wells Fargo. They are blamed because they can easily be blamed. More than 5,000 midlevel or junior people were fired at Wells Fargo after the truth came out.

Have we rethought how we work in a digital age when work increasingly requires large doses of unseen discretionary effort? Have we redesigned processes and structures to surface problems before these become crises? Have we allowed the free flow of key information to distributed decision makers? Have we created collaborative, learning-focused cultures? In most companies, we have not.

When a crisis unfolds, we are now quick to say, as General Duane Deal said of the Columbia explosion, that “the institution allowed it.” And yet we have been too hesitant to add the necessary phrase: “and top leaders enabled it.” The motive force behind institutional failure is leadership failure. The failure may be unintended, but that doesn’t exculpate individuals who spend their adult lives seeking the power and prestige of top positions.

Top leaders are enabling the current failures in two ways. First, though they speak of ecosystems and a VUCA world, they fail to rationally consider the implications of these realities for the day-to-day jobs their mid-tier executives. They make the mistake of thinking 20th century human organizations can thrive amidst 21st century technology. They don’t even recognize that the slate of questions posed above are relevant, even critically important. Second, they don’t consider at a human level how their stated strategic intents shape the acceptable ethical boundaries for those who must turn those intents into reality.

In the highly interconnected digital world, it is very hard to rationally consider the many factors that affect any event. The difficulties are magnified when the factors change unpredictably and with great speed, and give rise to precious few “one right answer” and many “no good answers.” Given the archaic structures and processes, and without repeated, clear guidance on “what we don’t ever risk,” is it any surprise that decisions about ambiguous options subsequently turn out to be ethically compromised?

While an editor “pulled the trigger” to illegally hack the mobile phone of a kidnapped child, Rupert Murdoch enabled the decision. He didn’t set ethical boundaries in a scoop-focused media market, and he hired executives who didn’t set policies and procedures to preclude such acts. Indeed, he rehired an executive cleared of criminal wrongdoing, signaling that her ethical and managerial failures didn’t matter. While mid-tier executives and engineers pulled the trigger to design Volkswagen engines that responded falsely to emissions tests, Ferdinand Piech and Martin Winterkorn’s demands of win-at-all-costs performance and the absence of appropriate procedural safeguards enabled – even encouraged – them to do so. At Wells Fargo, a culture and a warped incentive system created by top executives enabled malfeasance. That didn’t stop CEO John Stumpf from blaming employees who didn’t get it right, or CFO John Shrewsberry from blaming underperformers. Stumpf was forced out, but since neither Mr. Shrewsberry nor CAO/HR Director Hope Harrison were, the seeds for future crises have been left undisturbed.

Avoiding further self-inflicted crises – and the human damage they cause – will require more attention to both institutional norms and ethical leadership. That responsibility ultimately lies at the very top. When they hire CEOs, Boards of Directors must make ethics the deal-breaking criterion. CEOs and their direct reports must rethink not just how to compete using digital technology, but more importantly, how work should be done in a world mediated by digital technology.

Corporate directors and officers are now held personally responsible for illegal behavior at their companies. For example, after Wells Fargo Bank paid more than $300 million in penalties for creating over 3 million sham customer accounts, Judge Jon Tigar of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco refused to dismiss claims against the fifteen members of the Wells Fargo board. And Oliver Schmidt, the highest ranking Volkswagen officer residing in the United States, was sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to pay $400,000 for his role in the VW diesel emissions scandal.

As the ultimate guardians of the firm’s financial, human, and reputational capital, corporate boards need to set their bar higher, and replace reactive approaches to misbehavior with a proactive approach to winning with integrity. Instead of assuming everything is fine unless they hear otherwise, directors need to be more probing.

Based on decades of experience working with companies in multiple industries and studying hundreds of compliance failures, we’ve developed a comprehensive ten-step program to help boards reduce the risks of illegal behavior, reinforce ethical conduct as a core value, and enhance the company’s reputation—in the eyes of regulators and stakeholders—as a good corporate citizen.

Create an ethics committee of the board. Strategic compliance starts with the tone at the top. To avoid a diffusion of responsibility, the board of directors should designate a committee of nonexecutive directors with responsibility for the firm’s culture of integrity and for creating a robust program of controls and processes to promote ethical conduct and compliance. This could be the audit committee, an ethics and compliance committee, or an ad-hoc committee to address evolving risks and challenges.

Its charter should include appointment, with feedback from the other directors, of the chief ethics and compliance officer (CECO); and the committee should approve the company’s code of conduct, as well as revise it to meet changing conditions in the marketplace.

The committee should be charged with working with the top management team (including the CECO) and the other board members to ensure that the company’s approach to product quality, worker safety, environmental stewardship, sustainability, compliance, and corporate social responsibility is an integral part of its overall business strategy. Committee members should be specially trained in measuring an ethical culture and have the demonstrated ability and moral courage to take responsibility for mistakes and to call out suspicious behavior.

Appoint a high-ranking chief ethics and compliance officer (CECO) to take day-to-day operational responsibility for the company’s global ethics and compliance program. The CECO should have knowledge of applicable law, ethical theory, and the science of unethical behavior—and should also possess active listening skills and demonstrated good judgment. This individual should report to the board’s ethics and compliance committee—and should feel secure reporting on the integrity program’s effectiveness without fear of retaliation.

The board committee with responsibility for ethics and compliance should meet with the CECO at least quarterly, oversee the evaluation of his or her performance, and set the officer’s compensation and other terms and conditions of employment, including possible termination (with input from the day-to-day supervisors such as the CEO or General Counsel). The CECO should meet with the full board at least once a year.

The CECO should chair a cross-functional, multi-disciplinary team of managers that reviews the company’s policies and procedures on a regular basis so they remain evergreen. The CECO should have authority over all the local compliance officers just as all in-house lawyers should report to the general counsel. The CECO should also have direct access to companywide information on disciplinary actions, so they can see where there are outliers or clusters of untoward behavior.

Establish and post online ethical and compliance standards and procedures to prevent, detect, and remedy illegal or unethical conduct. Well-crafted and company-specific mission statements and codes of conduct are critical to educating directors, officers, and employees about the company’s core values, standards, and procedures. The code of conduct should be simple, easy for employees to understand, refer to values that will resonate with employees, and contain straightforward, relatable, and authentic examples. (Good models include GE’s “The Spirit and the Letter” and Johnson & Johnson’s “Our Credo.”) The code needs to be continuously and creatively reiterated so that it becomes part of the fabric of the company. As seen with Enron’s exemplary policy statements, the only thing worse than having no code is having one the leadership ignores.

Promote quality and safety with clear escalation policies. Ensuring product quality and workplace safety starts on the production floor and is defined by the leadership’s response to the problems brought to their attention. The board should make sure the firm has an escalation policy with clear guidance on what types of issues can be handled at the local plant level and which matters should be immediately surfaced to others higher in the organization. For example, Arleen Ashjian, former quality executive and portfolio manager at P&G/Gillette, Ocean Spray, and International Flavors & Fragrances, told us, Gillette’s Grooming Division (the leading manufacturer of razorblades) required immediate escalation to the CEO of any manufacturing problems with the potential to cause physical harm.

Develop measurable integrity performance indicators, reward good behavior, and do not create misaligned incentives. Integrity performance indicators include customer and employee complaints; comments on help lines and during exit interviews; days without a workplace accident or environmental spill; absenteeism, including sick days; accuracy of expense reports; stolen company property or misuse of company assets; and lying, even on seemingly immaterial matters. It is important to establish and enforce best practices and to benchmark the company’s program and results against those of relevant comparators.

Every job description should include explicit ethical expectations (including the obligation to report misconduct and a ban on retaliation).   Supervisors should factor satisfaction of those expectations when setting employee compensation and making promotion decisions. This emphasizes that “how” something gets done is as important as “what” gets done.

Conversely, threatening to fire employees who did not meet unrealistic selling goals or rewarding managers for deceiving customers into buying unsafe or unsuitable products makes it clear that the codes and espoused values are just meaningless words.

Moreover, financial incentives matter.  The Boston Consulting Group found that the CEOs of public companies recently found guilty of fraud had received stock options in the years before the fraud occurred that were worth eight times what CEOs of compliant firms were granted. After Wells Fargo Bank employees opened millions of sham accounts in response to misaligned incentives, Wells Fargo put in place a new incentive program in January 2017 that focused on customer service rather than selling products.

Use due care in hiring C-suite executives. Directors should ensure that the officers they appoint to run the business are honorable and of high moral character. Four key character traits correlated with successful business leaders are integrity, responsibility, forgiveness, and compassion. Because the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, it is critical to talk with individuals who have worked with the candidate and perform thorough background, criminal history, and conflicts-of-interest checks. Executive search firms can also often obtain candid assessments from members of their networks.

Mandate interactive training to communicate the ethical and compliance standards to all employees and members of the board. Topics should include firm values, how the firm makes money, a discussion of the laws applicable to the business, and the science behind unethical behavior. Discussing actual cases and telling stories can help employees and directors internalize the message and better identify and address risk areas. Training can also give participants the opportunity to practice exercising good judgment, including knowing when to delegate authority or to escalate a decision.

A well-designed training program will be varied, using video, gaming, and traditional face-to-face communication as well as on-line tools and a touch of humor. The CECO should be responsible for overseeing the training with the assistance of adult learning specialists and subject matter experts. Sometimes multiple sessions in a single week in three-minute spurts can be more effective that longer, less frequent programs.

Make sure employees aren’t retaliated against for speaking up. Whistleblowers are the “canaries in the mineshaft.” The board should ensure that the company has a well-publicized reporting system, so employees can report (anonymously or confidentially if they choose) ethical and compliance concerns. Using open-ended ethics questions on employee opinion surveys and exit questionnaires can also help the CECO and board monitor the workplace environment. Because fear of retaliation is often the main reason why concerns are not reported, a strong non-retaliation policy can encourage employees to speak up. Companies should consider honoring employees who report problems with “stewardship awards” or “badges of courage.”

Global companies should have reporting mechanisms for employees to report concerns in their local languages—and they should take culture into account. In hierarchical cultures, it is critical to empower employees at all levels to speak up and take action. A famous and tragic case involved Korean Airlines, whose senior pilot flew the plane into a mountain even though the more junior first officer knew that the pilot was coming in too low. (This is one reason why it is now best practice for surgeons to have a time-out before each surgery, during which everyone in the operating room, from the senior attending surgeon to the lowliest orderly, is called upon to confirm that everything is in order.)

Apply the rules evenly across entire organization. When misconduct is detected, the board must ensure that the company takes appropriate steps to respond—regardless of the offender’s rank, sales record, or economic performance. An international law firm learned this the hard way: it failed to sanction a major rainmaker who had sexually harassed two secretaries, until the third secretary won a multimillion dollar judgment against the firm.

Treating offenders equally enhances organizational justice—the employees’ perception of fairness in an organization. According to the Corporate Executive Board, of all the indicators of an ethical culture, organizational justice has the most significant impact on maintaining ethical behavior. The CECO and general counsel should have primary responsibility for ensuring that rules are being enforced equally.

Be prepared for compliance failures.  Compliance failures and ethical lapses are what Max Bazerman and Michael Watkins call “predictable surprises.” The board needs to ensure that the company has contingency plans in place, including when to contact internal and external players, such as PR and social media experts and government relations personnel. After an offense has been detected, the board must take all reasonable steps to stop the misconduct and to prevent further offenses—including making any necessary modifications to its compliance and ethics program. As Mary Barra, CEO of GM, put it after GM agreed to pay $900 million in penalties arising out of its defective ignition switches: Apologies don’t amount to much if you don’t change your behavior.

FITTIT

 

Fittit is a vibrant community sharing their knowledge tips, and questions about all things fitness. We’ve compiled some of the most popular and effective Fittit info into this guide, Perfect for anyone hoping to build muscle, lose fat, and work out smarter.

There’s a new elite class defined by cultural capital rather than by income bracket, people who practice inconspicuous consumption, finding value not in flashy cars but in buying organic food, taking yoga classes and investing in their children’s education. By making wise decisions about education, health, parenting and retirement, this aspirational class reproduces wealth and deepens an ever-widening class divide.

The performance of the fitness industry tends to be cyclical. That’s true for workouts, and it’s true for diets. This is a space where things may come and go, and trends may disappear entirely. You can probably think of examples: Jazzercise and Tae Bo and a continual stream of short-lived at-home fitness products—the kinds typically sold on infomercials. Some workouts just repeat the same thing again and again; fatigue, boredom, or distraction sets in, and people decide to try something new.

Smart studios don’t think of themselves as a fitness company; they’re a player in the broader experiential economy. The smartest decisions come from understanding and connecting with customers. The best testing ground for growth is within the walls of mirrored studios. Smart studios recruit and train their instructors quite differently from the way other fitness companies do, for one major reason: Their role is crucial to their riders’ experience. Their instructors are inspirational coaches who leave riders more empowered on their bikes and in their lives. Smart studios count on them to make every class unique, to localize the experience, and to connect with different demographic groups. Smart studios count on them to inspire in hundreds of thousands of riders every month.

Smart studios also differ from traditional fitness classes in the way people value the experience. At a gym you can take unlimited spinning classes as part of a basic membership. Smart studios don’t charge monthly fees, but each class costs around $30, and they ask their riders to book bikes in advance. Smart studios believe the pay-per-class model inspires a different level of energy and commitment that contributes to the overall experience.

Calories burned is just a piece of what smart studios deliver to their riders. Measurability matters, but we’ve heard repeatedly that their team is what keeps riders coming back. Smart studios use behavioral interviewing and on-the-job shadowing to ensure that our teams are motivated to make the time a rider spends at one of our studios the best part of the day. It’s simple but intuitive: Inspired people want to encourage inspiration in others.

Smart studios instructors are their greatest asset. They take riders on a 45-minute physical, emotional, and musical journey that’s similar to theater. You could take a class with the same instructor multiple times in a week, and each experience would be different. Autopilot isn’t an option. Lighting, playlists, words of encouragement—everything is customized in real time to the group of riders in the room. The one constant is the incredible physical challenge.

To recruit superstar instructors, smart studios prioritize great personality and individual expression—their training program will fill in any Spinning-specific gaps. To retain those stars, their model values career trajectory. Smart studios pay above-market wages, and 78% of their instructors work full-time, with health insurance, paid vacations, and continuing education, which is very unusual in this industry. They also have free access to on-staff physical therapists. Their retention rate over the past few years has exceeded 95%. They get about 20 applications for each opening in their training program. Instructors go through a rigorous 12-week training at headquarters, where they learn everything from the elements of the workout to musicality to anatomy and biomechanics. Once they’re on the podium, smart studios invest considerably in further training and development. Because smart studios are a growth company, they see how they can build careers by relocating to new markets, growing into regional development roles, or through promotion.

Some of the best lessons come from outside the industry. Smart studios consider how Disney trains its staff and how Starbucks keeps its stores community oriented. Smart studios watch how Airbnb adds digital products while remaining intuitive. Smart studio enthusiasts will tell you that it’s not just one or two things that make smart studios unique—it’s the combination of many. It’s the welcoming attitude of the staff, the charisma of their instructors on the podium, their clothing collection, and their attitude. It’s difficult for imitators to copy any of that, let alone all of it.

It’s never been part of their strategy, but they’ve attracted an influential clientele, especially in New York and Los Angeles. Some people think that relying on celebrities to create buzz is its own form of faddishness. There’s no question that celebrities have brought smart studios attention, but they don’t do anything special to bring them in. From what we hear, high-profile customers appreciate that they can ride in a community setting and that instructors will never draw attention to them.

Choosing the right location for a new studio is a science, and smart studios begin their research a year before they hope to break ground. There’s no substitute for spending time locally and hearing from future riders what matters to them. What do they do with their free time? Where do they exercise and when? What gets them out of bed early? By understanding their lifestyles, smart studios can build a studio around them—not the other way around. And, of course, smart studios consider which of their instructors can best help build community in a new market.

When it comes to innovation, smart studios do some things you might expect. They’re always looking to improve the design of their studios, which some people have compared to Apple stores. For instance, smart studios put iPhone chargers inside the lockers, because the charging stations they used to offer at the front desk were getting crowded. Smart studios have super-bikes, which use magnetic resistance and a carbon belt drivetrain. They’re superior to usual bikes, which use friction-style resistance: They ride more smoothly, and they last longer. Smart studios redesigned the handlebars to accommodate their choreography and to provide greater stability for the upper-body workouts they do on the bikes. And their workout continues to evolve as their riders become stronger. Today their instructors utilize more interval training in their classes, and their hand weights are heavier than they were a few years ago.

Smart studios are confident that they’ll keep growing, because people are looking for places to connect with one another and disconnect from technology. They want experiences more than they want stuff. The reason so many wellness categories are growing is that people recognize the importance of investing in their bodies and their minds. That’s why they believe that they are not as sensitive to the economy as some other premium brands are. Transitions have proved to be times when their brand is acutely relevant to their customers.

Simply put, they’re not a fad. Indoor cycling has been around for more than 30 years because it’s a safe and efficient way to get a cardio workout. It’s easier on the joints than many other forms of exercise, so riders can stay with us for years. Smart studios took this old form of exercise and reinvented it as a full-body workout with emotional and mental benefits that go far beyond fitness. Friendships and communities are enduring. Because smart studios have those elements at their core, their brand will endure too.

Most of us are busy at work, busy in our social lives and – sometimes – too busy to even get a good night’s sleep. The amount of sleep the average person logs each night has been steadily decreasing over the past century, with the average American now getting just six-and-a-half hours sleep a night during a typical five-day work week. Chances are that you fall into this average, and find yourself feeling stressed at least some of the time as a direct result of the pressures of time and the amount you have to do.

48% of Americans say stress has a negative impact on both their personal and professional lives. Additionally, 42% admit to not doing enough to manage their stress, while a worrying 20% of Americans say they never engage in activity to help relieve the stress they experience. However, studies show that taking just 15 minutes each day to mindfully meditate can help subdue rising stress and anxiety, and the good news is that it’s easy enough to practice it at work.

Maybe you think that you absolutely don’t have time to meditate at work, or maybe you’re sceptic of the benefits of mindfully meditating for such a short space of time in the midst of your busy office environment. But, no matter how busy you are, making time for meditation will have a positive impact on both your productivity levels and your happiness. You can begin by practicing the art of mindful drinking with your water, before learning how to complete a ten-minute body scan at your desk, which is designed to enable you to effectively get in touch with your body, let go of demands, and release pent-up emotions.

Stop for a moment and think about this: What do you actually think about yourself?

There’s the shiny, confident exterior you show the world, but at the end of the day, when you’re alone with your thoughts, what do they say to you?

We asked more than one thousand CEOs this question.  Here are some of the answers.

  • “I’m rarely at peace with myself.”
  • “I’m self-destructive and I don’t know why.”
  • “I don’t love myself very much.”
  • “I feeling very sad and lonely, and the anti-depressants I’m on don’t seem to be helping.”
  • “I battle with constantly ranking and judging everyone around me, in all settings, all the time.”

We are trying to understand the drivers behind our most critical thoughts and whether it’s possible to escape them. Over time, we developed an analogy of how the human mind works that he uses to help others break out of self-destructive mental loops and become happier and more productive at work and in life.

Here are five strategies to help people who want to challenge their negative thoughts.

Strategy #1: Learn How to Meditate in Stressful Situations

Everyone listens to a private, running inner monologue of positive and negative thoughts. If you pay attention to your inner monologue, you can begin to understand what triggers your negative thoughts and consciously put yourself on a more positive mental track.

Meditation is a good first step; it allows you to focus on that voice and shift your inner perspective. The majority of people who meditate do so early in the morning, when things are quiet and they’re preparing themselves for the day ahead. But one long commute, four harried meetings, and six urgent deliverables later, those calming, positive thoughts are long gone for most people.

You need to learn how to activate that brain in the middle of war, in the middle of challenges, in the middle of crises. Most meditators don’t learn how to activate that brain when they really need it.

Here is a practical tip to spark mindfulness and calm in any situation: Slowly rub your index finger against your thumb, so that you can feel the individual ridges of your fingerprint. Try it for 10 seconds at a time. Focusing on that sensation can help ground you and break a negative mental cycle.

Strategy #2: Listen to Your Mental Criticism, but Don’t Dwell on It

In your worst moments in life, you likely heard your inner voice turn dark, preying on your insecurities and anxieties, causing feelings of anger, disappointment, shame, guilt, and regret. Those reactions are valuable, up to a point, in that they provide feedback about a mistake to avoid in the future.

But left unchecked, negative inner monologues can stretch out, taking days, weeks, or even longer to work out. It’s important to recognize constructive internal feedback at the moment it happens, but not allow those thoughts to run rampant in your mind.

Is it good to feel pain? Of course!” If you put your hand on a hot stove and you don’t feel pain, you’ll burn your hand to the bone, he says. Feeling pain is a good warning. The question is, how long would it be good for you to feel the pain before you remove your hand from the hot stove? And the answer, hopefully, is a split-second. Just long enough to know that there is a problem here. It’s the same with negative emotions.

Registering negative emotions as feedback, and then consciously returning to a more positive frame of mind is crucial for achieving your full potential.

Your highest performance comes from the brain that is calm, centered, focused, able to see possibilities and be creative. That’s not possible when you’re stuck in a negative feedback loop.

Strategy #3: Recognize All the Forms Your Mental Criticism Comes in

We identified a handful of types of negative voices that are capable of sabotaging your happiness, productivity, and positive feelings of self-worth — a group he calls Saboteurs. The dominant Saboteur everyone carries with them is the Judge — the voice inside you that judges your own actions and the actions of everyone else.

Armed with the power of perfect hindsight, your inner Judge berates you for mistakes you should have seen coming and criticizes you for falling short of your goals. Some people allow their inner Judge to become such an integral part of their life that it becomes their dominant personality trait.

Hiding behind the Judge is a host of smaller Saboteurs — the Controller, the Restless, the Stickler, the Pleaser, the Avoider, the Victim, the Hyper-Vigilant, the Hyper-Achiever, the Hyper-Rational.

An easy way to understand which Saboteurs rule your life is to complete the following sentence: “To survive and succeed, I should _____.” Your answer can provide insight into what actually motivates you.

Some of the world’s most outwardly successful people are ruled by their various Saboteurs. Using negative emotions as fuel to push them, they’ll ultimately fall short of their true potential.

So long as the Saboteurs are pushing you to your level of success, you will never be happy, because every step of the way is littered with negativity. Your path to highest performance is not through the Saboteurs.

Strategy #4: Listen to Your Inner Sage

The counterbalance to each person’s cast of Saboteurs is a calm, positive, optimistic voice, the Sage. Rather than picking apart every mistake you make and every shortcoming you find in the people around you, your inner Sage instead tries to see the positive in every negative.

One of the number one tools that high performers use, every time life throws challenges at them, one of the ways they quickly recover to a positive place is to ask the question, ‘How do I turn this into a gift and opportunity?’”

Looking for the gift, no matter how small, in each negative experience helps reframe the thoughts associated with the experience.

We describe five attributes, or powers, of each person’s inner Sage: the power to empathize, explore, innovate, navigate, and activate.

Together, these powers work together to create a more positive internal worldview, and allow you to focus on what’s in front of you, rather than worrying about what’s next.

Strategy #5: Take It One Step at a Time in the Right Direction

Your path is fundamentally yours to chart. There’s no map to self-actualization; it’s a process that’s done one day at a time, and more granularly, one thought at a time.

Charting your path is like standing at the edge of a dark forest, with a lighthouse in the distance. Getting to the lighthouse is a goal taken one step at a time.

At any given step, take the step that has more light in it. Only after you take that step, the step after that will reveal itself.

After each step, you will get closer and closer to the lighthouse, to your true self, to your final self-actualization.

But nobody ever gets to the lighthouse. The value lies in the journey to improve how you think about yourself and your world.

You begin to run into people around you that are on a similar path that can help you with that path, and you begin to discover amazing things because you’re paying attention to every step. Self-actualization and following your calling is not about one destination that one day you’re going get to. It’s about every step.

INFLUENCERS AND OTHER HOOKERS










 

Influencer marketing is when businesses sell products and services by promoting them with those who have sway over what other people buy. Very small bloggers and vloggers can be particularly influential as the are seen as authentic and genuine by their loyal followers. Learn more now.

Every industry has influencers—people who have the ability, because of their power or knowledge (real or perceived), to influence purchase decisions. Hollywood has celebrities, fashion has models, and business has its moguls. Many influencers publish posts in https://venitism.wordpress.com

Social influencers are bloggers, social media personalities, or industry experts who have developed large and loyal followings by being insightful, entertaining, engaging, transparent, humorous, and—most importantly—human. This connection creates a bond between social influencers and their fans and followers that give these influencers unprecedented authority. When done right, influencer marketing works. That’s a given. But what does “done right” really mean? And how can you prove that an influencer is actually right for your brand? You can’t make those choices based on common sense. You need the data to prove the point.

The data analysis proves scientifically that it really does pay to work with influencers who are already immersed in your brand’s social community, regardless of whether that creator has posted about your brand in the past. This type of credibility can double the performance of a creator-branded post. Also, as you’re looking to broaden your network, choose influencers who are already part of the same communities as your current network to further boost performance. Other variables examined include things like captions (important!), the age of the creator and even face shape.

 

 

For a long time, influencer marketing was about leveraging these people to get in front of their audiences, but that’s not a long-term strategy (and it’s not very nice). A better, mutually beneficial approach is partnering with them to improve everyone’s brand.

Once upon a time, influencers were just regular people who used social media to share their opinions, lives, projects and passions to those who would listen. And listen they did.

Studies show 92 percent of people trust recommendations from other people over brands. Teens have a seven times higher emotional attachment to internet stars than to traditional celebs. And 49 percent of people rely on influencer recommendations when they’re making a purchase. That’s rely as in trust.  Readers trust influencers in https://venitism.wordpress.com

Brands are learning from this real-life psychological hack. Instead of getting in your face with their own message about their greatness they are letting influencers — people you trust — tell you why you should pay attention to their products and services through a voice that sounds far more authentic. The influencer is that mutual friend between a brand and their consumers. Influencers are well-connected. They are authoritative. They have active minds and they are trendsetters.

Why are influencers so much more effective for marketing than self-promotion by a company? Let’s examine the trifecta of good influencer marketing:

Attention equals currency. Influencer marketing allows targeted exposure to the right kind of consumer, one who is already interested in a category that you operate in and will likely pay attention. In a world where TV ads have become background noise and consumers are becoming immune to traditional digital advertising, being on-target is crucial. Just take a look at the rampant rise of ad blockers — last year alone, usage surged by 30% globally. Only 6% of display ads are ever clicked on. Further proliferation of mobile phones, video content and social media, are turning influencers into constant companions of your audience. To get their attention, brands have to work with the people they listen to.

Creativity and organic content has become the expectation. Remember Jared Fogle, the ‘the Subway guy?’ He served as the brand’s spokesperson for 15 years until his fall from grace. Today, it is no longer enough to hire a spokesperson and have them endorse your brand. While there is some overlap between celebrity endorsements and influencer marketing campaigns, the latter are designed to speak to an existing community of highly engaged followers. Influencers are the masters of their niches, and have established a high level of trust and two-way communication with their followers. They know how to incorporate a brand’s products and services into content people are watching and they do it very seamlessly, instead of taking away attention from what they really want to watch. The reason their followers keep coming back to them is because they regularly offer new and creative content to them. Followers have come to expect that. Over are the days of hammering the same message into your consumers’ heads for months, maybe even years.

Social media has no prime time window — it is prime time. Any consumer behavior study worth its ink will tell you that consumers are shifting towards social at the cost of TV. While marketers chased prime time spots on TV in the past, social is prime time 24/7. The truth is, when a social media personality you follow day in and day out wears something, drinks something, shows you something, you pay attention to it. And the key word here is attention. How to win your customer’s attention is quickly changing, and the brands that fail to adapt are going to get left in the dust by their competitors.

In God we trust. Everyone else bring data. Why should you believe me when I say that influencer marketing is on the rise and more effective than many other popular marketing channels?

  • 59% of marketers are planning to increase their influencer marketing budgets year-over-year. It is also the most cost-effective and fastest-growing online customer acquisition channel, outpacing organic search, paid search and email marketing.
  • In an advertising landscape where returns on ad spend (ROAS) of $2 for every $1 spent are considered a success, influencer marketing delivers an average return of $6.50, with the top 13% of marketers making $20 or more.
  • It’s not just about the quantity, quality matters too — 51% of marketers believe customers acquired through influencer marketing are of better quality because they spend more money and are more likely to spread the word to family and friends.
  • 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers say they relate to YouTubers more than to traditional celebrities — and you can bet that is not just happening on YouTube.

Casey Neistat versus Jennifer Aniston for Emirates. This is the story of a brand that had a few hit videos last year — Emirates Airline. It launched a campaign to show off the airline’s luxurious amenities and decided to spend $5 million of their total $20 million budget to hire Hollywood actress Jennifer Aniston to play the part of world traveler. The company made a series of short ads for YouTube with her that did quite well. One of the videos they made together debuted last year. To date, this video has more than 6 million views. Not bad at less than $1 per view.

An incredibly smart person over at the Emirates marketing team decided to give mega-YouTuber/influencer Casey Neistat premiere status on their airline, for free. They didn’t ask anything in return but hoped that if he enjoyed his flight he would share it with his fans. And he did. Twice, in fact. In addition to a video, he also (of his own accord) created a second video that to date has another 11.5 million views — 52 million views — for free. Find me a marketer who doesn’t love free advertising.

Casey caters to a younger audience but he is also a technology startup founder followed by many entrepreneurs aspiring to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or (Snap CEO) Evan Spiegel. While it’s hard to immediately measure the direct ROAS on a splashy campaign like this, Emirates had its brand featured in best-in-class media outlets such as GQ, Maxim, Adweek, Mashable and the Huffington Post. In addition to all the free press, the brand also got amplified on social media through Casey’s posts that received thousands of likes and retweets. Not only did Emirates raise awareness among a new demographic and received lots of free PR, they positioned their brand as forward-thinking and digital-first.

Pretty Little Thing, a fashion company built on pop-culture, created a global clothing and accessories brand mimicking what influencers and celebrities are wearing. In fact, while they closely work with influencers, they essentially have taken the influencer marketing model and flipped it on its head — which more and more companies are likely to follow. Instead of going to an influencer and asking them to make a certain piece of clothing popular, they watch what these influencers are already wearing and then create matching, cost-effective products. They boast a solid 1.9 million followers on Instagram and have rapidly expanded from shipping from 20 orders per week four years ago to more than 20,000 orders per day today. Last December, the founder sold a 66% stake of his holdings to a larger fashion brand for 3.3 million pounds sterling with revenue quickly approaching 20 million pounds.

The most mind-boggling example of influencer success comes from beverages giant Diageo, the parent company of Scottish whiskey brands Lagavulin and Oban. One of its video spots was awarded a Shorty Award for Best Influencer Marketing Campaign for this video starring NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” TV sitcom star Nick Offerman.The one-shot video called “My Tales of Whisky” shows Offerman sitting by a crackling fireplace — called a yule log according to European Christmas tradition — ironically in complete silence, staring broodingly into the camera for 45 minutes, and occasionally savoring a sip of his drink. Thanks to the simple seasonal premise and Offerman’s unique brand, the video was a viral hit.

On the day of launch, ‘yule log’ was a trending topic on Facebook and more than 175 stories were written about it, earning the brand a lot of free media mentions. As the campaign rapidly gained momentum in social conversations and got further amplified by streams through Sony, Tumblr and GoDaddy, the team behind it created a 10-hour loop for holiday gatherings. In the first two days alone, the video garnered 1.1 million YouTube views, growing to 2 million in just one week before any paid media was activated. The brand’s channel subscribers skyrocketed from 5,500 to 23,000.

Influencer marketing isn’t just for the big brands. It is quite popular because companies of any size can benefit from it. Naked Juice, a smaller juice and smoothie company that started in the 1980s in Santa Monica, Calif., collaborated with young influencer Beth Norton. They sought her out on Instagram to promote their juices and smoothies to people on the go, whether they are running errands or planning projects. They also entered the beauty, fashion, and health scene on Instagram with help from lifestyle blogger Kate La Vie, who shares sponsored posts featuring images of her daily outfits and beauty essentials — including a strategically placed Naked Juice in the mix.

Accompanied by other marketing channel strategies, this influencer campaign allowed Naked Juice to defend its position in the premium juice category by establishing itself in the minds and hearts of their core audience — known as ‘Bare Believers.’ Naked Juice now commands a market share of 58%, far ahead of any competitors, and saw an eight-fold increase in consumer social engagement.

How does one get started in this form of marketing? How do you find influencers and measure the impact of your efforts?

Eighty-four percent of marketers manually search social media platforms to find influencers that may be right for their brand. Many rely on recommendations, social media monitoring tools or attending events and conferences. It is one of the most challenging and time-consuming steps to take as you are getting started with this new medium of advertising, but today there is a plethora of influencer marketplaces that can make this much easier. These online platforms can be used to quickly search for influencers based on specific criteria (follower count, demographics, interests, etc.), to negotiate deals with them as well as give them a clear brief to stay ‘on brand.’ A marketplace makes it easier to not only negotiate a fair price but also find influencers that you may have not heard of before.

First, consider these three criteria when choosing influencers:

  • Context: Who has the largest overlap between their followers and your target audience? Keep in mind this is one of the very few — if not the only — type of advertising that works in an ‘opt-in’ model. Influencers don’t force themselves on their audience. Their audience actively subscribes to them. As a result, the audience is far more engaged than on other channels.
  • Reach: How large is their following? Just like you choose a TV ad spot based on its reach, you can look at how many followers a certain influencer caters to.
  • Actionability: This is the influencer’s ability to cause action and likely the most subtle, yet important, selection criteria to get right. The more skilled an influencer is at convincing their followers to take action related to your product or service the higher your conversion rate will be.

Second, decide which pricing model is the best fit for your brand. The four most common pricing models are:

  • Pay-per-post or flat-rate pricing: This is the most common method, with 68% of marketers choosing it. The influencer is paid a flat fee per piece of sponsored content they create, whether it’s a photo, tweet, pin, video or blog post. Depending on who you are working with, prices can range from as little as $50 per piece to as much as $250,000 for top-tier influencers.
  • Product compensation: Some influencers can be wooed with free products or services. This type of compensation is commonly used by travel brands as influencers can creatively endorse their personal travel stories. This model is ideal for smaller campaigns or for brands looking to establish a brand ambassador group.
  • Pay-per-click: In this model, influencers are compensated for how well their content performs. The key metric is number of clicks to a brand’s site. Because influencers rely a lot more on audience interaction in this performance-based model, they are motivated to create larger volumes of content.
  • Pay-per-acquisition: Here, influencers are rewarded for the number of purchases, actions or sign-ups driven by their content. It is the least common payment model because consumers rarely purchase or sign up for something the first time they get introduced to a product or service. Often, repeat exposure is required. The first introduction usually needs to be followed up by discovery, research and validation before resulting in a purchase or conversion.

Lastly, know what success means by defining your measurement criteria. Half of all marketers see sales increases and lead generation as the top goals of influencer marketing. Forty percent look for brand engagement such as clicks and social shares. However, success can also be correlated with spikes in web traffic or higher conversions in concurrent ad campaigns. A little less measurable, yet very effective, is the value of earned media as you saw with Emirates. Also, marketers often forget to take into account less tangible metrics, such as overall brand sentiment. Look at the whole picture and — as with all things in digital marketing — don’t ignore the cross-channel impact of influencer marketing on other channels.

Influencer marketing is clearly here to stay. Its impact is palpable. Brands are using it to establish credibility in the market, create a social conversation around their brand and drive online and in-store sales. The brands that make this part of their always-on strategy are the ones that win the most desired eyeballs.

Because of this power, brands have become addicted to influencers—and like most addictions, it’s led to increasingly diminished returns for the same action. With influencers now representing a billion-dollar industry populated by innovative and inventive creators, influencer marketing needs to become deeper than a product sent in the mail and a post on Instagram. It’s time to explore a new model that benefits both brands and influencers. https://venitism.wordpress.com is a platform of sponsored posts.

Until now, brands have practiced three levels of influencer marketing.

Level 1 uses PR to send free brand product and information to target influencers, hoping for earned media (or at least a response).

Level 2 allocates media spend to pay relevant influencers with desirable audiences to create “cool” content that showcases the brand in a positive light.

Level 3 builds meaningful, advocate-level relationships with influencers who authentically love and embrace the brand in a way that spans beyond a video, campaign or launch.

Most brands have accomplished level one and two. Only the smartest, most

But today’s influencers are operating as businesses, not just communities—and as businesses, they want more from the brands with which they work.

Influencers want:

    Innovation: Demonstrate new ideas to their audience

    Discovery: Help in growing their audience

    Products: Access to things that excite their audience

    Research: Knowledge about their audience

    Resources: Support producing kick-ass creative for their audience

Welcome to level 4, where marketers treat content creators as businesses, help them add value to their brands while bringing value to their audiences—and both sides see greater benefits. You can see that happening in https://venitism.wordpress.com

It begins with marketers giving creators access to the newest products before they hit shelves, and moves into sharing audience data, helping identify growth opportunities, and even providing production assistance including studio time, professional content editing and fresh collaborations.

In exchange, influencers can offer brands preferred rates, disruptive creative, faster speed to market, higher credibility and, ultimately, sales.

So how do we make it happen?

    Commit to the process. Reworking how your brand collaborates with influencers isn’t going to happen overnight. Commit to the process and understand that evolving relationships with creators will take time and learning.

    Identify the right people. Use data to select the perfect partners and elevate their creative beyond “pay-to-post.” Influencer networks are a great starting resource for this step, as many of them have tools that follow and categorize influencers across every vertical possible.

    Approach any influencer with the opportunity to become a strategic partner and write the terms. Test this out with a few influencers first. Work out the kinks. Find out exactly what they’re looking for from brands. Learn from each other. It might take a couple of months and that’s okay because good marketing is about being right, not just first.

    Scale. After successfully identifying and building a partnership with a few key influencers, it’s time to scale up. You’ll quickly reap the benefits.

So, let’s get over the influence. Evolve from paying for posts. Write new contracts for a new breed of influencers.

Find people who are not in it for the money but those who are in it for value and in it for their audience. Give advocates what they want: access to new products from you and from social platforms, insights on their audience and how to grow it, production assistance including studio time, editing and fresh collaborations.

In exchange, brands can receive preference, better creative, faster response and greater credibility. Become partners in business and work together for mutual value, not just media value.

No matter where you are in your content marketing campaign, influencers in https://venitism.wordpress.com can help take you to the next level.

  1. Influencers can keep content relevant. Influencers spend every day in the trenches with their audiences, so they understand the market better than anybody else. Partnering with them from the beginning of a project or campaign can provide brands with some extra insights.
  2. Customers trust customers. Because the relationship between an influencer and his or her audience is built upon transparency, a friendly recommendation from a trusted influencer is going to be ten times more likely to convert a customer.
  3. They can cut through the clutter. If fans receive an email, or see a social post from someone that they readily follow, they are much more likely to open that email or click on that link than the same message coming from a brand they may be familiar with but don’t have a personal relationship.

If you can get enough influencers talking about your product or your brand in https://venitism.wordpress.com, you start to really get noticed.

In short, influencers boost your content’s credibility. Their counsel can help brands stay relevant, and their endorsements (which they’re more likely to give if a brand has partnered with them and sought their advice from the beginning) speaks louder than your content alone.

Identifying and Recruiting Your Top Online Influencers

The trick is finding the perfect influencers for your target audience and your content marketing. To really make an impact, you need to look for partners. The right influencers for your brand:

  • Maintain audiences that align with your target market
  • Share your brand’s passions and values
  • Are willing to partner with you in a mutually beneficial relationship

Once you’ve found potential influencers in https://venitism.wordpress.com, start getting to know them. Follow their social media profiles, engage in their conversations, share their content, etc. If you’re not sure that someone is a good fit for your brand—just ask. Ask them about their passions, their motivations, etc.

When you’re sure that an influencer is a good fit, send a private message or pick up the phone (yes, this really works) and be straight-forward about what you’re looking for—and what you have to offer. Remember that a working partnership is mutually beneficial, so be prepared to detail how you are going to help the influencer:

  • How can you expand his or her audience/network? Do you have a relevant audience to share with the influencer? Can he or she publish on your content platform(s)?
  • What kind of perks can your brand provide? Sneak previews? Merchandise? Event access? Personnel access?
  • Are there other opportunities you can create for training or education that will benefit the influencer in his or her niche?

Remember that the relationship between influencers and their audience in https://venitism.wordpress.com  is built upon trust, so you have to prove to them that you are worthy of their (and their audiences’) time and money.

Make sure you have a clear plan for the role influencers will play in your content marketing strategy before you get them on board. Simply creating content and asking them to share it is not a partnership or a sustainable relationship. Create a plan for how they will be involved in your content campaigns:

  • Amass invaluable market insights. Consult with influencers on what topics are driving engagement in your industry and which platforms to use to reach your target audience.
  • Attain ringing endorsements. Give your influencers a sample of your content in return for a positive endorsement on their social platforms or blogs. Consider sending a pre-publication draft to them for a positive quote to include in the content or on relevant landing pages.
  • Share each other’s platforms. A great influencer marketing tactic is to swap guest posts or interviews. This gives both your influencer and your company a new platform to promote each other’s brands.
  • Create collaborative content. Take your market research to the next level by collaborating with influencer(s) on a comprehensive and engagement-focused content plan. Influencers live off of creating engaging content and can completely transform your content marketing efforts.  Not only did it provide value to our audience, it gave the participating influencers exposure to a large group of people as our definitive guides are heavily promoted.

Too many influencers have been abused at the hands of brands who just wanted to pay for their audiences, usually with cheap give-aways, but most genuine, long-term influencers have caught on and are highly protective of their audiences. Earn their trust by being worthy of it, and consider influencer marketing a partnership.

Start paying attention to who is driving conversations in your industry, and get to know them. If an influencer is a good fit for your brand, and you’re willing to make it worth their while, establishing a relationship will be easier than you might think.

Successful influencer marketing in https://venitism.wordpress.com is all about credibility and trust. So it’s ironic that the category is suffering its own integrity issues. The promise of influencer marketing is its ability to scale the kind of authentic influence people experience offline. These are the trusted conversations and recommendations that occur between people. You know, word-of-mouth. 

Today, influencer marketing is a paid reach vehicle. It’s seen as a way to get celebrities and other tastemakers to endorse a product on their various social feeds. Done transparently—something that doesn’t always occur—that’s a solid strategy for building awareness. But it misses out on impacting both consideration and intent, the other key parts of the purchase funnel. And it’s not really the way influencer marketing should work.  https://venitism.wordpress.com is the best platform of sponsored posts.

It’s time for the industry to address this and stop pretending that paying someone to hawk products is influencer marketing. It’s time to get back to the harder—but infinitely more rewarding—work of gaining fans through building great products, cultivating genuine relationships and telling authentic, inspiring stories.

Let’s start by identifying our biggest advocates—the people who love our products and the lifestyle they make possible. These are types of influencers we call experts, the ones who are super-passionate about a topic. They often have years of experience and a depth of knowledge that make them trusted sources. These are the kinds of people who just ooze excitement when they talk about their passions, and that excitement inspires consumers everywhere.

Then let’s use these trusted influencers to focus on the parts of the purchase funnel that drive sales and build long-term loyalty. Simple endorsements drive awareness. They introduce your brand to new potential consumers and provide an opportunity for consumers to learn more. Trusted advice, on the other hand, drives intent. It puts your products into the right hands: The people who already use and care about them and who will share their experiences with others.

For brand marketers, it’s time to go beyond follower counts and look to the people who actually influence others in https://venitism.wordpress.com to purchase your products. Experticity partnered with research group Engagement Labs in an attempt to quantify that influence and they discovered that these authentic influencers have 15 times the buying conversations of everyday people. These are the people whose influence comes from their expertise and knowledge, the kinds of things that foster real trust. It’s not always easy to identify these people, but it’s worth the effort. They’re the authentic influencers whose opinions are valued by consumers and brands alike. Let’s give them the status they deserve.

Influencer marketing works, and for a lot of reasons. It outsmarts ad blocking for one. Most importantly, it’s proven to build consumer trust and confidence. As influential as word of mouth, influencer marketing banks on people’s desire to know what their friends, family, and trusted sources think about a product before making a purchase.

With more and more brands and agencies looking to increasing their budget in influencer marketing, it’s just expected that competition will get fiercer. Most companies and agencies work their backs off to produce good content. But when everyone’s vying for attention, how can you make your content stick to make influencers notice it?

You have to have a solid foundation to begin with, and that is quality content. There are three components of what make content valuable:

It’s accessible. If you want to present a complex idea, break it down to more bite-sized chunks.
It’s actionable. Most people have real problems, so if you can show how to approach those problems, there is more value. That’s why instructional and how-to posts are so popular.
It’s visually appealing. Depending on the article or video, create useful screenshots or easily shareable images, whether on the blog itself, or other channels, and use share button. High-quality thumbnails on your YouTube videos, for example, grab more attention and make them highly clickable.

Again, providing real value is your first step in making a connection. And that all boils down to knowing your audience and including just enough information in your posts to help them achieve something.

Do you always have to publish original content?  Create something better than the original, look for unique and creative ways to make it better, then reach out to the right people. Creating visuals for data-driven blog posts, for example, make them more engaging. Think infographic, slides, or video that summarizes the main points.

There is already a demand and a prime audience for content that already worked so well. Not to mention that existing content is already well indexed on Google and has a high ranking, so a definite plus for your SEO.

What type of content can you make to promote to influencers? If don’t have much of an audience and you want to promote your blog content, including a lot of influencers in your content and effectively leveraging their audience helps for your promotion. Here are some suggestions:

Expert roundups
Interviews
Listicles
Ask your favorite influencers for a quote and use those in an infographic or create a SlideShare.
Ask for experts’ tip and put them all in one blog post.

If you already have a significant following, consider collaborating with influencers and co-create content together. Again, careful preparation is important. Make a list and a detailed plan about it, explaining the benefits and setting expectations clearly. Some of my suggestions are:

Teaming up with a thought leader and doing a webinar
Curating content by influencers and creating a thorough guide about a specific topic
Publishing an ebook

The key is making your content relevant to what the influencers are advocating or promoting to make it more appealing. Sometimes just being friendly and personable, and referencing something recent they did, will work wonders.

The most success comes from crowd sourced content, such as group interviews.Don’t push influencers to share your content. Ensure that they’re only mentioned when relevant. More often than not, they will share your content, especially if it’s well constructed.

Email the influencers and let them know they’ve been featured in your article. If influencers do not respond to your message, send follow-ups and find other ways to engage them over time. However, if they are not interested in your content, some will politely decline and others will give you the silent treatment. There’s nothing much you can do at that point, and you need to rethink your strategy.
How do you find the right influencers? Building relationships is important, and so is looking for the right people who would want to share your content, regardless whether they get compensated for it or not.

You need to ask, do I know this person? Would I trust this person to give product recommendations? Because consumers will ask the very same questions before deciding what action to take. Then narrow down your selection by identifying who’s going to be interested in your product, maybe someone who frequently blogs, reviews or endorses similar products, and/or is interested in getting paid through affiliate programs.

Analyze the amount of engagement they are doing and getting in response. Although you need to look at the number of subscribers and followers, consider the quality of conversations they generate as well.

Are there significant comments and replies about their product reviews and other posts?
Do the influencers themselves reply to those comments, whether favorable or not?
What’s their attitude toward negative comments?
How many people are talking about the post or article?
How many marked it as favorite?
How many shares did it get and in what channels?

Use an influencer marketing tool to find social media influencers, including their names, email addresses, websites, descriptions, SEO, and follower counts. Doing so will make managing your outreach campaigns easily across hundreds of websites and multiple projects.

Influential marketing will not give you overnight success. It’s a gradual process of building relationships and nurturing them. Providing well-researched and valuable content alone takes a lot of time, as well as strengthening your connections and delivering consistent messaging. Do your homework. Connect. And be friendly and personable without sounding too desperate for attention.

CONTENT FOR SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION



 

Content marketing isn’t just one piece of the (complicated) SEO puzzle – it’s way more important than you may have previously thought, the majority of web traffic still comes from organic search – more than paid campaigns, social media or any other channel. So, SEO is clearly as significant as ever. And what’s the most effective way to improve SEO? Well, most marketers believe that content is the key. They’re not wrong…

Have you ever written a blog post without results? Content Marketing is the beautiful art of making work that matters and finding ways to share it with people who want to see it. Imagine posting your thoughts and gaining a following for your work. Or, if you’re a business owner, meeting the right clients by giving them what they want, cultivating a relationship instead of feeling like a sleazy salesperson. You could create something that people actually want to remember, creating fans and followers in an authentic, community-oriented way.

A lot has happened since marketing pundits started preaching that every brand should act like a publisher. Most notably, neither marketers nor publishers can rely any longer on their consumers to blindly trust them. As a result, we are seeing a new tone in the way both marketers and publishers communicate, putting more of a premium on transparency — and even acknowledging their co-dependence.

For publishers, the shift has been dramatically accelerated by the steady shift in ad dollars to the big social platforms, making it perfectly clear that the long-term survivors will be those who best serve their readers, not their advertisers.

For marketers who embraced the ‘everybody should be a publisher’ mantra, many have learned that it is easy to publish, but hard to build a trusted relationship with an audience. Whether it is text, video, interactive or social, there are tools that make it easy to publish. And there is no shortage of writing and production help available. What’s harder than acting like a publisher, however, is thinking like a publisher. Marketers have largely applied an advertising mindset to content; they speak of “campaigns” and measure success through “reach” rather than focusing on establishing their credibility over time.

Publishers have recently begun to realize that their readership is something much more than a set of demographics that they can aggregate to sell to advertisers. Their readers are a potential source of direct revenue, but only if they are convinced that the publisher is, in fact, accountable – both for their work and to their readers.

In an effort to build new revenue streams, publishers are shoring up their circulation businesses, often reframing it as membership. One consequence of shifting the business model to reader-generated revenue is a parallel shift of the editorial product based on better serving those readers. For publishers, this is a significant change as it aligns the interest of editorial and the business model. (In the old model, editorial served the readers while the business model largely served advertisers.)

For marketers there are lessons to be learned from publishers’ turn toward their readers:

Publishing is not marketing: The best publishing is a service, not marketing. Its primary job is to serve the reader. To do that in a way that is distinctive and valuable, marketers need to have a clear sense of who their readers are, what is keeping them up at night, and how the brand is credibly positioned to help them. Publishing is not a substitute for traditional marketing. Rather, it is an opportunity to develop a direct relationship with customers and prospects with the focus on them.

Focus on your most committed supporters: Branded publishing is not about reaching everybody. Traditional advertising – likely broadcast advertising – is a much better tactic for scale. Content-based programs are better suited for well-understood niche audiences where the goal is engagement.

Commitment can be a two-way street: If marketers are focused on engaging a well-defined audience with content that truly serves them, then audiences will return the favor with their feedback. But branded publishers need to provide the tools, environment and encouragement to make that happen.

Tone matters: Voice is a critical and often overlooked element. Publishers are learning that maintaining a voice of authority does not mean clinging to an institutional or purely objective perspective. The more human the voice – a voice that acknowledges its biases — the more inviting it becomes.

Transparency can be uncomfortable: This shift to more transparency has been among the most difficult for publishers to make – and the most rewarding. As publishers more and more reach out for help, their work has gotten deeper, richer and more valuable. And, as the community participates, it becomes more committed, more loyal and more of an advocate for the content.

Get it right: If trust and credibility are the goals, spend the time and resources to get things correct, starting with the basic facts. This is easier said than done. It requires developing standards and giving the publishing team the autonomy to hold everybody to them. And, let those editorial standards be a baseline for achieving editorial excellence. Hold your content to the same high bar to which you hold your products and services — make it unique, make it delightful, and make it useful.

Publishing is a long-term investment: Publishers are learning that the economics of focusing on readers is very different than the economics of ad-generated revenue. For both marketers and publishers, the need for short-term returns can create tremendous pressure. Many of the marketers who have already embraced publishing have struggled to show how their content programs ROI, or have tried to squeeze content into direct marketing campaigns. Publishers who are pivoting to membership are betting on cementing long-term relationships with fiercely loyal supporters.

For brands, the stakes are equally large: When a reader puts a brand on his or her very short list of trusted partners, the brand can move out of consideration based on price and specs and into the rarified world of being a true partner.

Yes, brands should act like publishers, but many of today’s publishers are no longer acting like the publishers of five years ago. Brands should choose their publishing models carefully.

In the era of Infoxication, the use of sponsored posts is essential to avoid your message becoming completely unnoticed. Sponsored posts in https://venitism.wordpress.com allow you to reach your target audience in an interesting, didactic, and memorable way.

There’s been plenty written about how to create smart digital marketing content. But less attention gets paid to what happens after you click “publish” and whether your videos, infographics, social media posts, and other pieces of content are actually reaching the right people. Only a quarter of content marketers actually invest in distribution, even though more than half recognize that it’s a critical need. Having a smart distribution model is just as important as developing good content in the first place — it’s how you bring in more business.

Optimize for search and for mobile. This step is essential. Search contributes about a third of the traffic that websites receive. The principles of good search-engine optimization (SEO) must be applied to every piece of content as you create it, not just after-the-fact, in the metadata. Who is your audience? What answers are people looking for? What keywords will they use to find those answers? That’s what you need to know on the front end. You can certainly extend your reach by crafting sharp headlines, managing the on-page SEO, and building a diverse but relevant link portfolio — but you extend it all the more when the content itself follows best SEO practices. Also create content with mobile in mind. Think carefully about how the length of your message, the formatting, visual elements, and links will shape user experience. The better the experience, the more likely customers are to stick around and absorb the message.

Design a modular but cohesive content plan. You can increase your impact by creating content modules — small bits of content, each with a targeted purpose, that can be used in a variety of ways. For example, a blog post in https://venitism.wordpress.com can be excerpted to provide social media status updates, included in your e-mail newsletter, syndicated on LinkedIn, and more. But each module should also plug into a clear narrative arc. In a screenplay or a novel, that arc follows the hero’s journey; in content marketing, you use it to guide the buyer’s journey. The typical arc goes from broad (for instance, who we are and why our brands can help solve people’s most urgent problems) to narrow (the differences that define a superior product or service). To build a cohesive user experience, map out how you’ll use these modules to tell your story from beginning to end.

Segment your audience. Use customer data to personalize your message. Is your email newsletter a blast to everyone who signed up for your list? Or do you tailor your distribution? The latter approach will yield much better results. You can send existing customers exclusive information about an upcoming feature release, for instance, and leads can receive content that’s designed to move them toward a purchase. Personalization — whether it’s based on interests, demographics, or where customers are in their journey — gets you noticed and persuades people to take action. The more relevant your content is to them, the more effective it will be. And by targeting certain outlets or platforms, such as Facebook for B2C sales and LinkedIn for B2B sales, you’ll increase your relevance even more.

Create relationships with branded publications and sites. The term “brand journalism” is a controversial one, but it nicely encapsulates where content creation has gone: using good writing and storytelling techniques to create high-quality marketing messages. As customers are exposed to your content — particularly through publications and websites they respect, such as https://venitism.wordpress.com — they’ll learn more about your brand and begin to trust your authority in whatever space you’re playing in. To build relationships with other sites, try writing guest posts for niche or industry sites, again with a clear focus on relevance. These often have a relatively open contributor policy, in that you apply and are able to blog there, but each piece undergoes editorial vetting.

Blogging for sites that allow contributors to run columns on a case-by-case basis requires more persistence and even stronger writing, but such outlets generally have more engaged, more targeted, and often larger audiences, as well as more credibility. You can also connect with journalists and other bloggers, in hopes that they’ll link to your content in their own columns and posts. Sharing original research or creating an infographic that they can write about is a great example of this approach in action. 

Pay for distribution. Paid distribution can work well for a variety of formats, including entire stories (newswire-style), headlines, videos, links, and social media updates. Tools such as Outbrain enable you to get your content onto major platforms in the form of “suggested posts” that appear below the site’s own content. Sponsored posts in Venitism are also gaining in popularity and they cost only one hundred euros.

Share with relevant communities. After publishing your content in https://venitism.wordpress.com, share it in communities where it’s likely to be of interest. For example, if you’re writing about inbound marketing techniques, you might reach out to BizSugar.com, Inbound.org, and relevant subreddits on Reddit.com. Make choices based on relevance and value so you can generate interest and discussion in communities where your ideas will matter. You don’t want to spam any community.

Reach out to influencers in your market. The idea here is simple: you create content that’s potentially interesting to leading figures in your market and their audiences. As you’re compiling your list of influencers, think about the opportunities that you’re seeking. For instance, do you want them to review a book you’ve written? Be clear about how you’d like to benefit and what you can offer in return, such as a review of one of their books or a plug on your company blog. Once you’ve established these important connections, strengthen them by sharing influencers’ content through your channels and commenting on their blog posts and social updates. Focus on building relationships rather than conducting one-time transactions.

While a successful content strategy starts with publishing exceptional content in https://venitism.wordpress.com, the strategic distribution of that content is the real key to positive ROI. Broaden your distribution capabilities by building relationships with media, understanding your audience, and tailoring your social media activities to humanize your content and reach your audience in a way that’s relevant to their interests.

POLICE AND CRIMINALS





 

Over the years, there have been many cases of murder that have shocked and dismayed the nation. What makes the crimes and reputations of these 10 murderers all the more notorious, is that their killing sprees included numerous victims, some of whom remain unknown. For some, their campaign of murder lasted for many years before their deeds were uncovered.

Government is the #1 mafia.  Most people are victims of police and government. Citizens seem to be under the impression that the police help them recover stolen property, and that we’ll all appreciate the police if we’re ever a victim of property crime. Everyone who has ever owned a small business or otherwise been burgled, however, knows that when you are a victim of property crime, calling the police is a mere formality in which a police report is filed, and then sent to the insurance company. You will never see your property again, and you know it, but the police report is necessary for insurance purposes. If it weren’t for the insurance side of things, calling the police would be a complete waste of time.

Actually finding your stolen property is a very low-priority affair for the police. There’s nothing in it for them, since there is no connection between successfully protecting private property and the amount of revenue that the police department earns. From a budgetary standpoint, it is far more important for the police to simply assert that they protect property to politicians and, to a lesser extent, to voters. Whether they actually do it is immaterial, since those who are victims of crime have virtually zero say over whether or not the police should be rewarded for their services, or lack thereof.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that police departments receive their funding not through voluntary exchange, but through taxation, which is the coercive redistribution of wealth. Rarely are police budgets ever cut, regardless of the quality of service, and should voters or local government ever suggest that the budget might be cut, the police agencies will immediately respond by threatening to cut enforcement, and it is of course implied that enforcement of laws against violent crime will be cut immediately. Never do the police say “well we’ll just have to cut back on shutting down illegal lemonade stands set up by children, or enforcement of lawn-mowing ordinances and no-knock raids against old ladies.” No, it’s always night time patrols for real criminals that goes under the ax first.

Police respond by cutting the most-demanded services first, and the least-demanded services never seem to get cuts. Naturally, the police would never dream of cutting back on drug enforcement, because that is a major source of revenue for them.

Part of this stems from the error of viewing all police services as more or less equal.  There is a big difference between the value of police services which involve the investigation of murders, and police services that involve arresting people for jaywalking.

There are infinite degrees of all sorts of protection. For any given person or business, the police can provide everything from a policeman on the beat who patrols once a night, to two policemen patrolling constantly on each block, to cruising patrol cars, to one or even several round-the-clock personal bodyguards. Furthermore, there are many other decisions the police must make, the complexity of which becomes evident as soon as we look beneath the veil of the myth of absolute protection. How shall the police allocate their funds which are, of course, always limited as are the funds of all other individuals, organizations, and agencies? How much shall the police invest in electronic equipment? fingerprinting equipment? detectives as against uniformed police? patrol cars as against foot police, etc.?

The government has no rational way to make these allocations. The government only knows that it has a limited budget. Its allocations of funds are then subject to the full play of politics, boondoggling, and bureaucratic inefficiency, with no indication at all as to whether the police department is serving the consumers in a way responsive to their desires or whether it is doing so efficiently.

The situation would be different if police services were supplied on a free, competitive market. In that case, consumers would pay for whatever degree of protection they wish to purchase. The consumers who just want to see a policeman once in a while would pay less than those who want continuous patrolling, and far less than those who demand twenty-four-hour bodyguard service.

On the free market, protection would be supplied in proportion and in whatever way that the consumers wish to pay for it. A drive for efficiency would be insured, as it always is on the market, by the compulsion to make profits and avoid losses, and thereby to keep costs low and to serve the highest demands of the consumers. Any police firm that suffers from gross inefficiency would soon go bankrupt and disappear.

But of course, police don’t have to worry about supplying what citizens actually want. They have access to the taxpayer’s wallet. The policemen are not protecting private property, but are more interested in protecting police and making a show of force. Private property owners have to protect their own property with their own privately-owned firearms, even after being taxed year after year in exorbitant amounts for police services.

The police have no rational method of allocating resources.  Priorities are set by politics. The police, instead of attending to property crime, are busy pulling guns on people who jaywalk.

Police departments are being armed to the teeth via funds paid for by taxpayers.  Will these extremely-expensive weapons be used to protect people from violent crime? Anything is possible, although the fact that small town police forces now have a variety of armored vehicles and mountains of assault rifles, makes one wonder how that money might have been better spent were the private sector allowed to keep it.

With 39 percent of murders unsolved every year, but with SWAT teams being used to deliver warrants to nonviolent suspects, and people who smoke joints on occasion,  it’s obvious that there is a disconnect between a priorities list that serves police departments, and one that serves taxpayers. As is always the case, there’s plenty of talk about reform and accountability, but the only reform that matters is one that involves major budget cuts to departments that don’t enforce laws that actually matter.

Taxpayers should be able to check boxes on their tax returns saying which government departments should receive money. It would be a good idea to also include a checklist for which laws should be enforced. Virtually everyone would check laws against murder and robbery. Far fewer people would demand the enforcement of laws against adults smoking pot at home or sale of untaxed cigarettes. Then, when the budget is cut, police must stop enforcing laws with the fewest votes.

Police are not efficient because they don’t rely on customers’ voluntary support. They aren’t held accountable because they face no serious threat of losing power. They are abusive because citizens have two choices: Obey or suffer the punishment. They are militarized because they don’t operate on the profit and loss mechanism of the freed market and have an endless trough of stolen taxpayer money to waste.

If the police monopoly was broken up, the police as we know them would no longer exist. Private defense agencies, communal associations, neighborhood watch groups and mutual aid societies would take the place of state “defense.” While they would serve the end of protecting citizens, like the police claim to do, these organizations would likely look far different from modern local police forces.

Police forces are insulated from competition, market feedback, the price mechanism and the profit-loss system. As monopolies, they come with incentives to overspend, overcharge, under-produce, and generally work in opposition to the consumers’ interests and in favor of their own.

But firms and organizations that spontaneously arise on a freed market out of voluntary exchange are subject to market forces every step of the way. They must serve the consumers’ interests – they must produce a worthwhile product at an affordable cost or be crushed by competition. Being in the business of defense, they must minimize costly, violent conflict and pursue cheaper, peaceful solutions or else be out-competed by other organizations that better serve their customer’s interests.

Since these organizations would be at constant risk of losing business to competition, unlike the police, their methods and tactics would be completely different. They would have to respect their customers’ rights if they ever want their business. The agencies that better protect rights would be the most profitable and the ones that violate peoples’ rights would be quickly pushed out of the market.

Police activities simply illustrate yet again how government police agencies have little interest in prioritizing the use of their resources so as to target real property crime and violent crime. In general, law enforcement agencies live in denial of the realities of opportunity cost and scarcity. Any police officer that is busy ticketing little girls for a lemonade stand is an officer that can’t be investigating a real crime, or apprehending a suspect in a real crime. Any police officer that’s spending hours searching vehicles for one-tenth of an ounce of marijuana is a police officer that’s not patrolling a high-crime neighborhood for real crime.

Police agencies often like to claim that they must enforce all the laws, but this is obviously nonsense. The fact that resources are scarce means that time and energy must be prioritized. The fact is police agencies like to prioritize the enforcement of piddling little non-crimes instead of focusing on stolen property and truly violent criminals.

There are numerous reasons why police tend to focus on certain types of law enforcement. Not all of them originate with the police agencies themselves. The political system itself encourages overuse and uneconomical use of law enforcement resources. Legislators have an incentive to flood the courtrooms because if they want to get elected, they need to appear tough on crime. The product of this incentive is legislation geared toward continually creating newer infractions or criteria for arrest that signal to the voters that you, the politician, are going to clean up the streets. Naturally, the focus of these infractions tends to be on non-violent crimes because the scope of violent crimes is narrower and has long been an established part of criminal law. But any new criteria for arrest means more people being funneled through the criminal justice system, and the costs are borne by the citizenry.

A similar phenomenon exists with the prison system. Where legislators and police officers have in-built incentives to send as many people through the courts as possible, a similar incentive is faced by judges and prosecutors to send defendants through the prison system. Because all judges and prosecutors share common access to prison space with no individual cost for doing so, there is zero incentive for the limitation on the sentence sought by the individual prosecutor or handed down by the individual judge.

There is, however, the incentive for these professions to win cases and appear tough on crime, respectively. The effect is that prosecutors and judges as a group crowd the common-access prisons much as cattle owners crowd common access grazing land. In other words, politicians have an incentive to expand the number of punishable infractions, and therefore they pave the way for police to lessen their focus on real crime. Having had their prerogatives greatly expanded beyond property crime and violent crime, police are only too happy to exploit this new status quo to benefit their own agencies.

Thanks to the phenomenon of civil asset forfeiture — greatly expanded by the Drug War — police agencies can now profit financially from focusing on drug enforcement, more police searches, and by directing police resources away from the enforcement of other offenses. Police department finances benefit little from devoting police man hours to busting car thieves or rapists. They can potentially pad their budgets significantly be seizing cash from suspected drug dealers — without even having to go to trouble of gaining a criminal conviction first.

Another factor is federal grants which evaluate recipients based on arrests and not on reducing violent crime or property crime. The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program, for example, is the largest nationwide criminal justice grant program. According to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice, the grant itself steers police departments away from investigating real crime. Current measures inadvertently incentivize unwise policy choices. Federal officials ask states to report the number of arrests, but not whether the crime rate dropped. They measure the amount of cocaine seized, but not whether arrestees were screened for drug addiction. These measures send a signal to states and localities that the federal government desires more arrests, more cocaine busts, and more prosecutions at the expense of other more effective activities.

In some jurisdictions, spurred by these sorts of funding considerations, police may be actively attempting to downplay the importance of violence crime. There’s increasing evidence that the NYPD is paying less attention to violent crime. In an explosive Village Voice series last year, current and former NYPD officers told the publication that supervising officers encouraged them to either downgrade or not even bother to file reports for assault, robbery and even sexual assault. The theory is that the department faces political pressure to produce statistics showing that violent crime continues to drop. Since then, other New Yorkers have told the Voice that they have been rebuffed by NYPD when trying to report a crime.

These perverse incentives also trickle down to the individual officer level. As explained by criminal justice research David Simon in this interview, police officers are rewarded in terms of both rank and pay by focusing on making large numbers of arrests for small infractions rather than going after a smaller number of truly dangerous criminals.

This is certainly nothing new. A significant proportion of today’s police organizations seem to remain narrowly focused on the same categories of indicators that have dominated the field for decades. These criteria include numbers of arrests, citations or stop-and-frisk searches.

This preoccupation with productivity in the bureaucractic sense dates back at least to the 1950s when there was an attempt to engage in more quantitative measures of police activity — as opposed to qualitative. A 1975 study in Criminal Justice Research identified one of the key problems with this approach. The emphasis too easily is put on rates of production, rather than on the quality of the process through which the rates are produced. The question, “How many arrests or tickets?” is asked rather than, “Was it wise to write a ticket, or make an arrest in this case?” We are then left with a police workforce more interested in making arrests — since that is what gets one promoted — than on pursuing more difficult, higher quality activities.

The first step to forcing police to prioritize real crime over non-violent non-crime is to simply repeal laws that police use to justify ignoring real crime while focusing on drug crimes and other non-violent offenses. Ending the Drug War is always a good first step, of course. Also on the chopping block ought to be a host of other prohibitions, such as those on carrying certain types of knives. But police also need to be greatly limited in being the primary agency that “enforces” government regulations of activities such as front-yard gardening and unlicensed lemonade sales. For centuries, alleged nuisances such as these were handled not by police citations and regulatory management, but through the civil law.

If a front yard garden is truly a nuisance to neighbors, let those neighbors pursue the matter in civil court and prove they have endured damages as a result of the neighbor’s gardening. If a temporary lemonade stand is truly damaging to the community, let the neighbors sue little girls in civil court. We’ll then quickly find out just how much of a priority it really is for the community to stop the sale of unlicensed lemonade. Sending the police to enforce every little law against every little thing that mildly annoys us takes resources away from real crime with real costs in terms of property and human lives.

After all, the initiation of legal action by government agencies — rather than by the victim — is a modern innovation in the English-speaking world. Prior to this, police action was limited by the presence of an actual victim. Needless to say, during this period, lemonade stands — or their 18th-century equivalent —were not a priority for law enforcement officials or anyone else.

LIFE AND DEATH IN ANCIENT EGYPT

The Amazing Ancient Egyptians and Their Pyramids

 

Pyramids are the stone tombs of Egypt’s kings, known as the pharaohs. They are one of the world’s greatest historical mysteries. They have stood for thousands of years and are filled with many hidden secrets. They contain many clues about what life and death were like in Ancient Egypt.

Sisi is a complex figure. There appear truly pressing, immediate priorities in Egypt, such as developing the economy and combating the avalanche of extremist attempts to overthrow him. Among Middle East and North African territories, Egypt stands out as a primary target, given the cocktail of challenges that position it as a center of radical Islam.

Sisi faces violent extremist hotbeds in the Sinai Peninsula, and the still-destabilizing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood (a political arm of violent radicals). Most notably, Sisi brought a reality check to the Arab Spring when he led the military overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, ushering a spiritual and cultural Islamic reformation with widespread popular support from Egyptians on a grass-roots level.

Sisi faces more than just militant and political extremists within Egypt’s borders; he is also walking a theological tightrope. Egypt is home to the regressive theocratic influence of the most revered Islamic institution in the Sunni world, Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, which openly views freedom as a ticking time-bomb.

Being held hostage intellectually by the grip of Al-Azhar University ensures that there is a constant supply when it comes to producing the next generation of militant and political Islamists.

Egypt also faces extremist infiltration from neighboring Libya, a nation caught in a power vacuum after the murder of its leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi. This vacuum has been readily filled by Islamic militants, including ISIS.

Sisi is taking a huge gamble in his attempt to revive the failing Egyptian economy. He is doing something his predecessors, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, did not succeed in implementing, due to violent public demonstrations, or worse, a revolution that ultimately forced Mubarak out of office. Sisi is applying shock therapy. Sisi sought and received a $12 billion IMF loan to offset the budget deficit. To acquire the loan, the Egyptian government was obligated to cut food and fuel subsidies and devalue the Egyptian pound. This is likely to push inflation rates higher. In the meantime, tens of millions of ordinary Egyptians rely on state subsidized bread. In January, 1977, Egyptian bread riots erupted after President Anwar Sadat ended subsidies of basic foods, especially bread. Hundreds of thousands of poor Egyptians took to the streets, with 800 people being killed and hundreds injured. The Government abruptly cancelled the harsh economic measures as a result of the deadly riots. Sadat attempted to liberalize the Egyptian economy, much like Al-Sisi is doing now. Thirty years later, in 2007 and 2008, food prices soared once again and food riots unfolded, resulting in more deaths.

Food prices rose again to a high level at the start of 2011, with crucial staples such as wheat, other grains, and meat rising by more than 20%. Mubarak was once again constrained by the cost of subsidies which fed about 32 million poor, out of Egypt’s 80 million people (in 2011). Egypt has been the world’s largest importer of wheat. Under Mubarak however, small wheat growers were eliminated and crops for exports were encouraged. The shortage of imported (from the U.S., Russia, Canada, and Australia) wheat, due to slow deliveries, prompted hundreds of thousands of demonstrators to gather at Cairo’s Tahrir Square. They were partially incited by rising food prices, combined with the political frustration due to Mubarak’s corruption and nepotism, which ultimately led to the 2011 “Arab Spring” revolution, and the downfall of the Mubarak regime.

Sisi is betting on economic growth and big payoffs through new jobs and foreign investments. It does however come down to timing. If the economy grows fast, and the economic pain is short in duration, Sisi might salvage Egypt’s economy and his personal political future. If, on the other hand, growth is tepid, and the duration of the shock therapy is longer than anticipated, it would adversely impact millions of poor Egyptians and turn the middle-class into poor. This would risk another revolution preceded by a social explosion.

Subsidies on food and energy amount to 18% of Egypt’s budget, or over $11 billion a year. According to Yaroslav Trofimov of the Wall Street Journal (August 7, 2017), “The subsidies are just one obstacle to economic growth, which has slowed in the years since the revolution. Labor laws make firing workers nearly impossible, the judicial system is unreliable and the government bureaucracy stifles initiative. Compounding matters, the military essentially operates a parallel and largely unaccountable economy.”

Mohammed Nosseir, an Egyptian liberal politician, working on reforming Egypt’s liberal values, proper application of democracy and a free market, wrote in Egypt’s Daily News (April 6, 2015), “Egypt has been, and will continue to be, a nation with great potential for investors. The challenge lies with the actual reality on the ground – government bureaucracy, widespread corruption, time consuming legal procedures and low employment productivity. These challenges constitute the major hindrances facing investors who are willing to bear them, probably due to the good return on investment that Egypt offers. However, as I learned from a former prime minister of Egypt, investors can live with obstacles so long as these are well-defined in advance. Our real challenge lies in the government tendency to change its mind concerning business opportunity regulations, often even after it has signed agreements with investors.”

Sisi may not be a full-fledged western democrat, nor is Egypt a democracy yet, but Sisi has done what no other Muslim leader has done. In a speech he delivered on December 28, 2014, at Al-Azhar, Sunni-Islam’s most prominent religious institution, he urged the clerics to combat extremist ideology and said, “We need to revolutionize our religion.” He called for “religious discourse that is in keeping with its time.” Sisi warned that “The Islamic nation is being torn apart and destroyed by extremism.” He went on to say, “We must take a long, hard look at the situation we are in. It is inconceivable that the ideology we sanctify should make our entire nation a source of concern, danger, killing and destruction all over the world… It has reached the point that this ideology is hostile to the entire world. Is it conceivable that 1.6 billion Muslims would kill the world’s population of seven billion, so that they could live on their own?”

In an interview with CNBC (January 22, 2015), at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Sisi was asked, “Now, for your economic plans to work, you’re going to need billions of dollars and investments. Where is that money going to come from? Is it going to come from the Gulf States?” Al-Sisi responded by saying that, “Egypt is the bedrock of stability in the Middle East, and this is the message that the whole world needs to hear and understand. It (the International community –JP) also needs to help us maintain the cornerstone of stability in the region…We have a very big delegation from the U.S., perhaps one of the biggest ever to come to Egypt. We also received similar business delegations from European countries. The message I shared with them very clearly is that when you stand with Egypt, and invest in Egypt, you are not only investing money to try to recover economic wealth, but you are also investing in enhancing the stability of Egypt, and subsequently, in the Middle East, and in the world.”

It is apparent that Sisi is appealing to western investors to rescue Egypt from another possible disastrous uprising. Lifting subsidies on basic commodities enacted by previous Egyptian presidents have resulted in violence and ultimate reversals. Egypt is currently contending with internal (Islamist attacks on Christian Copts) and external terrorism (Islamic State in the Sinai), which does not bode well for investments. President Al-Sisi cannot count on the humanitarian instincts of western investors, whose main motive is profit. He needs to defeat the Islamist terrorists, while liberalizing the Egyptian economy, and he must make this happen in the shortest possible time.