01
Jun
15

People have relationships with people, not with ideas, not with programs.


Few are the opportunities one gets to meet the future head on, face to face. And fewer are the opportunities to be part of shaping that future. Last Sunday, I was blessed with both.

I was invited by “Women in Front” (look them up on Facebook) to deliver a Personal Branding presentation to women planning on offering their candidature to the upcoming legislative elections. What I discovered is simply amazing.

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I have never witnessed such an ardent resolve, most certainly not with men. I came to realize that taking things for granted, arrogance and prejudice provide a fake sense of security. That sense is enjoyed by some men in Lebanon; they even take it one notch higher by solemnly claiming that women are not fit for politics. I believe that the sheer fact of making such a comment voids the fitness (and right) of that man to be in politics, and on planet Earth for that matter!

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Aside from the fact that I was surrounded by over 20 amazing women (eat your hearts out!), I was surrounded by 20 beautiful intellects. That Sunday I was with human beings determined to induce a positive change in a society that claims openness on the outside, but resents change on the inside.

That Sunday I was with Women (yes with a capital “W”) who, aware of the risks, are heading straight into the maelstrom. Each has a clear Program and associated agenda. Each has the education few men in politics have today. Each has a beautiful smile that inspires trust. But most importantly, all of them are transparent, honest, real.

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These women do not deserve a chance. They deserve to be there, period.

You give a chance to doubt, to failure, to liars, to the unproven. And we have been giving that chance to “men” since 1943…

In a previous post (https://ilahoud.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/women-scare-us-and-i-love-it/), I wrote:
“We forgot to look at India, Great Britain, Iceland, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Argentina, Bolivia, Switzerland, Philippines, Ireland, Sri Lanka, Finland, Lithuania… where women were not only elected to parliament, they were presidents, heads of state.”

I never voted, never will eventually; but I would not hesitate one second to head to the polling station this time, if one of the amazing ladies I trained that Sunday run for elections.

I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to meet the future face to face, and honoured to be given the humble opportunity to be part of shaping it.

One hurdle is left. How open-minded will men be towards a brilliant future shaped by gender partnership, instead of a grim future shaped by men only?

Only time will tell.

02
Dec
14

55 reasons why this is not a happy birthday


1- The food we eat

2- The water we drink

3- The hospitals we’re treated in

4- The politicians who rob the life out of us

5- The electricity… or lack of it

6- The war in Syria… taking place in Lebanon

7- The death of the best

8- The survival of the worst

9- The lack of business

10- The slow internet… And its fast advertising

11- The cellular network, where morse code is better

12- The roads we drive over

13- The drivers who drive over us

14- The corrupt system

15- The hundreds of cars with no plate numbers

16- The cars with tinted glass driven by tinted people

17- The total lack of human values

18- Under-payed teachers

19- Over-payed management

20- The fear of dropping prices of gas

21- The mistreatment of women on the rise

22- Education on the drop

23- No president

24- A fake parliament

25- A fake government

26- The show-offs of morons

27- The language of fear

28- Schools wining about lack of funds but building health clubs

29- The rule of the illiterate

30- The submission of the educated

31- The fake clergy

32- The rewarded lies and punished honesties

33- My children leaving the country for a better life

34- The cross fighting the crescent

35- The cross fighting the cross

36- The crescent fighting the crescent

37- The zombies relying on fortune tellers

38- TV stations turning in to tabloid trash

39- The media looking for scoops in the misery of its people

40- An Arab spring initiated by tyranny

41- The Arabs who are Arabs only when other Arabs are dead

42- The condemnation of digital drugs in an economy thriving on the real ones

43- A country where the religion does politics and politicians do religion

44- A country where silicon outruns real flesh

45- A country where everyone’s ready to die for a politician, but no one for a cause

46- A country where even color has become taboo

47- Wearing “I Love NY” t-shirts in anti-American marches

48- Moped delivering shisha

49- Women driving huge SUVs to make a statement

50- Men driving bigger cars trying to compensate for their genitals… or intellect

51- How “Heart” emoticons became so common and stopped saying “I love you”

52- A country where your beautiful voice is evaluated by how naked you get on stage

53- A country where Miss Lebanon is selected by her religion

54-A country where the older you get, the less you’re respected

55- And the fact that a day ago I was only 54

02
Jun
14

Real Estate Advertising and Advertising Real Estate


Real Estate advertising is mushrooming faster than buildings. But the corny ads that stand in ovation to the utter lack of creativity are not the problem.

The problem is that most, if not all the campaigns speak to a microscopic elite in a country where over the two third of the population can barely afford a loaf of bread.
The problem is that clients lack so much marketing acumen that taking them for a ride and making them to spend an arm and a leg becomes child play. Besides lacking originality, their advertising speaks to an audience that reads the newspaper in the back of their limousines while being chauffeured to destination. An audience that does not even look outside the dark tinted glass of their cars.
I got news for those Real Estate companies: Your “target audience” as your agencies taught you to call them, will never look for a 2 million Dollars apartment on a billboard on the Zalka highway! This audience does not need advertising claiming “Paradise on Earth” (in Lebanon…) to trigger their purchase behavior!
Having said that, some potential buyers might shop for a flat on outdoor media, but then, who might those prospects be? Did you ever worry about dissecting your audience, not by how much money they carry in their mattresses, but by their propensity to fill your flats?
Because, in Lebanon, the short-term fast buck over-rules the long-term brand-investment, advertisers always choose to go for the easy route; note that it is the smartest one, or the actual golden goose.
If we want to build the country on mob money, and Gulf tycoons, then be it. But for heaven’s sake, stop bragging about patriotism, and stop using nationalistic and outdated slogans. Lebanon does not, and will not get any better with your tall buildings. The way it’s going right now, it only will get uglier.
The fact is that, by playing the ostrich, we are as morally corrupt as the mafiosi who buys the 2 million Dollars flat.
My dear real estate developers, here’s an idea to make money and sleep restfully at night. We need condos, we need thousands of flats for the average Lebanese, the honest one. We need small town houses for the thousands of daily commuters who, for a change, work honestly and hard to earn their buck. Now you do the math. But before doing so, use (what’s left) of your marketing understanding to admit that, since the late eighties, economies have undergone a paradigm shift, from a margin to a volume market. Hell! Even Apple realised it! You can make more money by selling more and cheaper, rather than selling less but more expensive. You can make more money by selling to the poor!
Here’s another insight: The rich buy your flats in good times, when economy is flourishing and the cash is safe. But when hard times hit – and they do often lately – the rich are the first to hold their horses back. The average consumers on the other hand, buy an apartment because they “need” one. Their decision to buy is not investment-based, it is need-based. And here once more I implore (what’s left) of your marketing understanding to answer the 101 question: what does marketing address? Yes, yes, “needs”.
By doing so, you win a favorable reputation, you build a better brand, you will be respected and loved by the society, your product will spread to cover the nation, and you will be one of the rare businesses where the very nature of your product is intrinsically a CSR program. You will need to advertise less, thus use your marketing cash on smarter programs, or simply stash it if you wish to do so.
No, I am not a communist! And no, I am not asking you to refrain from erecting those beautiful skyscrapers that adorn our capital. All I’m saying is that , in a country of endless paradoxes, it would be a stimulating change to see someone “think smart” about creating an equilibrium. But that’s just me.

Creative Commons License
Real Estate Advertising and Advertising Real Estate by Ibrahim Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://ilahoud.wordpress.com/.

19
Mar
14

“For quality control, this phone call is being recorded”…


“Good morning, you have reached Terranet, for sales dial 1, for support dial 2, for a psychiatrist dial 3. (The last one is my recommendation, strongly)
“For quality control, this phone call is being recorded”…

– Hello, this Rami, how can I help you?
– Um, hi, I purchased a new Cisco modem, and I would like you to guide me through the configuration please.
– It’s very easy. Just set the VCI and VPI…
– Woooa! Hold on. Set the what?

– (With an audible yawn) Set the VCI and VPI. Did you configure the modem?
– Huh? I’m calling you for that!
– Is it hooked?
– (No it’s not! It’s in the microwave getting defrosted, I would have loved to say) Yes it is. Hooked and I logged in to it via my browser. Shall I tell you the options I have and you tell what to do?
– (With the end of another long audible yawn) What do you have?
I start enumerating the options for every setting. I only heard his voice twice:
– VCI 0, VPI 35
– Is that it?
– Yes
– So now all I should do is connect to the Internet.
– Yeh
– Thank you

I hang up, reboot the modem and try connecting to the Internet. Nothing.

I call again:
“For quality control, this phone call is being recorded”…
– Hello, this Hussein, how can I help you?
– Excuse me, I was talking to Rami regard..
– Rami is busy on another line, how can I help you?
– Ok. So I got this Cisco modem and I configur…
– Hold on!
– Yes? This is Rami
– Oh hi! I spoke to you a while ago regarding a Cisco modem…
– Cisco modem? Regarding what?
– Configuration?
– Oh yeh. So…
– Well, it’s not working…
– Why did you get a Cisco?
– WHAT?… Because YOU guys told me, get a Cisco or a D-Link… So I got the Cisco…
– Yeh, but the THOMSON you have now is better….
– Ok. But I got the Cisco now, and it’s not connecting. The “Internet” light is off.
– Do you have phones at home?
– Yes. Why?
– Disconnect them all and retry?
– Excuse me?
– Yeh, you might have a “loop”
– A loop? Uumm, Uhun, yep. Cool. Ok.
A loop? I thought I was installing a modem, not knitting a pullover!
I disconnect all the phones at home, reboot the modem and try to connect again. Nothing.
I call again:
“For quality control, this phone call is being recorded”…
– Hello, this Samer, how can I help you?
– Can I speak to Rami?
– Moment…
– This is Rami, how can…
– Rami, it’s me again (I just mastered the cut-you-in-the-middle-of-a-sentence technique!) I disconnected all the phones, it’s still not working.
– Well, I don’t know (with such a lazy voice)… Get a technician… Or the modem is defective.
– Defective? It’s a brand new Cisco! All is working perfectly, but it stops at “Internet”
– Yeh, it might be defective. It happens…
– Oh. It does? I did not know that… Thank you anyway for your precious assistance Rami!
I hang up.
Welcome to the world of Lebanese ISP customer support!
If “For quality control, this phone call is being recorded”, all ISPs would be out of business by now…
19
Mar
14

No greetings this time…


I have a hard time greeting Muslims on Eid, and here’s why:

1- There are those who don’t live up to the meaning of Eid or even understand what it stands for.

2- There are those who wake up on Eid and decide to be good… for few hours.

3- And there are those who are suffering so much that greetings would seem an insult to them. Those who live the meaning of Ramadan and Eid every day of their lives.

So forgive me if I don’t greet this year. As a Christian, I think it will also make greetings sound even cheesier and display a total lack of understanding of Islam.

Instead, I will say this: If God and the prophets knew we, as a race, will get to this, they probably would have blessed another planet…

14
Oct
13

BRANDING THE INTANGIBLE


BRANDING THE INTANGIBLE

Interview conducted for ARABAD by the very talented JAD HAIDAR. Print issue to Appear next week.
Click on the link above

09
Sep
13

Once in a while


Strange how when you feel down, you look outside the window and you suddenly see… You see the trees, the blue sky, the fluffy clouds. You hear the birdsongs, the gentle hiss of foliage dancing in the wind. You smell the aromas of Earth… And then, you feel down and depressed again; but this time for another reason.

And that’s what happened  to me the other day.

I was lying on the couch on a Saturday afternoon, watching the news on tv. Then, just for a second, I turn my head and look outside the window. And it dawns on me… In our fight to live, to survive, we simply bury ourselves in all the possible absurdities. And it is those absurdities that blind us, suck us dry, and end up robbing us from the one weapon, the one survival tool left. Dreams.

And in our endeavor to survive, we instead murder ourselves.

Oh I am not trying to make it easier on you or anyone. No one can make it easier. No one can make facts easier or harder. Facts are facts.

All I am saying is that we should, once in awhile, look outside the window.




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Creative Commons License
Reason To Believe by Ibrahim N. Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at ilahoud.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at htt://ilahoud.wordpress.com.

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