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MBA GraduateWe all know the drill by now: study your verbal and quant concepts, do lots of Grockit practice questions and tests, and review everything to learn from your mistakes.  But isn’t there anything you can do to improve your score without opening a book or turning on your computer?  Well, maybe.  Science seems to support these little tweaks to your routine, and they certainly can’t hurt!

1.  Chew gum while you study and while you take your exam

According to a study presented at the 2008 10th International Congress of Behavioral Medicine, "An investigation into the effects of gum chewing on mood and cortisol levels during psychological stress," chewing gum can help to improve alertness, relieve anxiety, and reduce stress among individuals performing a variety of multi-tasking activities in a laboratory setting.  There is also evidence that chewing gum may significantly improve performance on “multi-tasking activities.”  All of these benefits have the potential to translate to a less stressful, more productive GMAT experience.  So go ahead and unwrap a stick—and make it peppermint, because…

2.  Aromatherapy can give you a boost

There are many different scents that can improve your mental and physical state as you prepare for the GMAT.  One of them is peppermint, which can uplift the mood, relieve mental fatigue, improve alertness and enhance memory.  And who doesn’t need a little relief from mental fatigue while studying?  Once you put the books away for the night, try using some lavender or chamomile to help you sleep or relieve an upset stomach.  Like peppermint, eucalyptus is said to help with stress and fatigue, but according to some, it has the added bonus of boosting your immune system, helping to keep your healthy for test day.  Used in large amounts, eucalyptus essential oil can be toxic, but in small doses it can be beneficial.  And finally, to reap all of those benefits, look to rosemary, which is said to improve blood circulation, relieve a sore throat, improve digestion, improve mental alertness, memory, and mood, and relieve mental fatigue.

3.  Have a cup or two of java, but don’t go overboard

Drinking coffee is known to increase short term recall and boost performance on a variety of mental and physical tests.  Studies have shown that both regular and occasional coffee consumption can boost memory, reasoning, and other cognitive skills.  Too much of it, though, can make you jittery and paranoid, which can have negative implications for your studying and test day performance.  So know your caffeine limits, and don’t push past them—but if coffee is something that you enjoy, by all means, take advantage of its benefits!

4.  Get off the couch and move!

Studies have shown that regular exercise is not just good for your body; it can also help to relieve mental and emotional stress, plus neutralize some of the physical effects of that stress.  One study, reported at the 2001 Society for Neuroscience conference, found that, young adults who followed a 12 week regimen of jogging for 30 minutes two to three times a week significantly improved their performance on a number of cognitive tests. The scores fell again if the participants quit their running routine.  Researchers suggest that the increased oxygen flow to the brain may explain running’s beneficial impact on test scores.  Even if it’s just a quick walk around the block, getting your body moving can be a big help to your mental and physical condition, and that can translate to improved numbers on test day!

Overall, there’s no substitute for knowledge and preparation when it comes to your GMAT score.  But these little tips can give you an extra boost, and might just be the difference between a so-so score and one with which you’ll be satisfied.  What’s your favorite way to relieve stress and improve your mental and physical condition as test day approaches?


Get a Great GMAT Score – Study Online with Grockit.

About Grockit: Grockit is an educational technology company that licenses and distributes a cost-effective, collaborative and social learning and test prep platform built on adaptive learning algorithms and analytics. Students love Grockit because it is social, engaging and incorporates youthful technologies such as, smart phones, social games mechanics, online group chat, screensharing and YouTube.

Published in MBA Studies
Monday, 17 January 2011 09:42

Creating A Quality Culture in Business

QualityCreating a quality culture within your business is not as difficult as it may seem but it can require a shift in thinking. Quality can no longer be defined by international standards or statistical measures of defects alone. Today quality is defined by the customer and delighting the customer must be the focus of a quality culture.

Traditionally quality has been defined by statistical measures of error rates and quality improvement has been focused on reducing variation in linear processes and eliminating errors in production. These measures of quality have been imposed from the top down with little input from front line staff.

Producing a perfect product according to internal standards however does not guarantee the product will meet customer expectations of quality.

Any cultural change requires engagement and ownership by all levels of staff within an organization. When the customer perspective is made central to the definition of quality it makes sense to use front line staff to be the architects of a quality culture.

It is the front line staff in your business who have the most frequent contact with your customers. They engage on a personal level and obtain information that cannot be gained from impersonal surveys. They have intimate knowledge of what is required to meet and exceed customer expectations.

Often front line staff are resistant to change. This resistance is not because they want to keep the status quo but because they have been through multiple change programs, driven from the top that had little impact and fewer results.

Taking a practical approach that involves staff and recognizes the value of their knowledge will engage staff more quickly than a business wide conceptual launch of a new change program.

Steps to introducing a quality culture.

Step 1: Set up discussion groups of front line staff with the specific purpose of identifying the three most common complaints by customers from a front line perspective.

Step 2: Conduct workshops with front line staff to precisely define the problems and create solutions. Prepare action plans to present to management for approval to proceed. It is important that the decision is made at the close of the workshop so action to implement can take place immediately.

Step 3: Empower front line staff by delegating the necessary authority for them to implement the solutions. Action plans require clear responsibilities, accountable drivers, identified sponsors and an implementation deadline within three months. 

Step 4: Encourage regular discussions about current customer dissatisfaction and provide permission for front line staff to take action.

This tactical approach allows staff to take control over improving quality for the customer. They will see and receive credit for the improvements and rather than being an intangible concept, improving quality will become embedded as a way of doing business.

 

Published in Value Chain
Wednesday, 12 January 2011 15:12

Want an MBA? Log Onto Facebook

Facebook MBAOver 30,000 enrollments in just a month - few MBA programs can boast of such enthusiastic participation. But this is reality today for one of the most innovative approaches to online MBA education in recent times

A little over a month ago, The London School of Business and Finance announced its new course - the LSBF Global MBA - that has made high quality MBA course material accessible at just a mouse click away. The program, available on popular social network platform Facebook, enables participants to access lectures, case studies and videos online from faculty and panel discussion groups at the School, including industry highflyers. The LSBF Global MBA application on Facebook has been developed by former Google employees, as revealed by Aaron Etingen, founder of the School who also conceived of this first-of-its-kind program.

What's more? The entire course content - spanning approximately 800 hours of multimedia material - comes free and students only have to pay at the point at which they opt for accreditation, if they do. Once exam requirements are met and accreditation fees paid, participants will receive an MBA degree from the University of Wales.

Till date more than 30,000 people have joined courses in corporate finance, accounting, ethics, marketing and strategic planning, indicate the latest reports.

Given that Facebook has now become a part of life for a mammoth 500 million plus users, the unique program offering is likely to continue attracting more and more students; however, for it to break barriers of skepticism and herald a truly revolutionary and cultural shift in the format of online education as well as industry acceptance might take a slightly longer time.

Find the LSBF (London School of Business and Finance) Global MBA here

 

Source: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/90356/20101209/.htm

Published in MBA Studies

Consumer ProtectionThe Consumer Protection Act of 2008 in South Africa will be responsible to guide the implementation of promotional competitions from 31 March 2011 (New date). This will replace the previous role of the lotteries act.

Also see article: Consumer Protection Act a Heads Up

Affordable, Immediate Online Entry Solution - free for consumer, publish your rules: iEntry.co.za


General Changes to Running Competitions as set out in the Consumer Protection Act - South Africa

  • The act Specifies what a competition is and it does not require Companies to ask a question to complete the competition as previously required by the Lotteries act.
  • The Promotion can include chance and skill
  • Consumers are not allowed to be required to offer further consideration for a prize after they were told they have won it (Hopefully putting an end to timeshare phone call's)

 

Check List Before Running a Promotional Competition
  • You may not require payment to enter a competition, except for the reasonable cost of sending the competition or transmitting the entry. (Cell phone and postage)
  • You may not supply a consumer a prize if it is unlawful for them to have it
  • Director's, members, partners, employee's, consultants, promoters directly or indirectly involved may not win the prize
  • Suppliers of the goods may not win the prize
  • You have to prepare rules before the competition and have it available free of charge, during and after the promotion.

An Offer to Participate in a Promotional Competition Must Clearly Communicate The Following:
  • The Benefit of the Competition (Prize)
  • The Steps required to win it
  • How the winner will be chosen
  • The Closing Date of the competition
  • How the results will be communicated (The Winner)
  • A Person from who, a place where, and a date and time. Where competition rules can be obtained and the prize may be obtained.
  • These may be stated on the promotional material, a document where the prize is stipulated and the media during the promotion and where the competition is running.
  • Once a person has completed the steps to enter the promotion as set out in your communication they have the right to be included in the draw without further payment or extra complications.

You can find the full Document here

or Buy this eBook(PDF) online from Kalahari

The Consumer Protection Act Made Easy

 

Published in South Africa

outsourceOutsourcing is not a new phenomenon, since the industrial revolution business has outsourced activities in order to concentrate on their core capabilities. Transport into store and delivery to customers is a good example of this. Few large businesses run their own fleet anymore preferring to utilize transport companies who specialize in distribution and have the critical mass and expertise to deliver goods in the most efficient and effective manner.

The word outsourcing however is relatively new and was created to describe the decision by businesses to find external suppliers to either perform their transactional processing or to provide their customer contact services. The supplier market for these services is relatively young with the first companies entering the market in the late 1990s.

Although the industry is still in its infancy transactional service and customer contact companies are developing expertise in their field and using state of the art technology to provide high levels of service at a lower cost than companies can do it in house.

No other outsourced industry has had artificial constraints imposed upon them so why would we consider placing artificial constraints on this new industry? The two arguments for imposing constraints usually relate to the levels of service being obtained from these new companies and the loss of jobs to overseas locations.

Preventing companies from outsourcing transactional processing or customer contact activities will not guarantee high standards of service. The service level provided to customers is set by the company and in the case of outsourced activities is underpinned by either contract or contract and service level agreement.

The best way to address inadequate service is to complain directly to the company and if dissatisfied change your brand. Artificially constraining a company from outsourcing is more likely to cause the company to become uncompetitive and force an increase in prices than an increase to service levels.

Some companies have chosen to move these activities to outsourced providers located overseas where arbitrage costs are lower and as a result local people are made redundant. Since the time of the industrial revolution jobs have been lost to more efficient or lower cost methods of producing the result and over time the population becomes retrained in more highly skilled fields.

Every day people are made redundant because of the introduction of new technology. Jobs in photographic film development have all but disappeared due to the introduction of digital cameras, should we recall all digital cameras and ban their sale because their use has caused people to be made redundant?

It is also worth noting that in the field of information technology there are companies in the USA who provide around the clock support and disaster recovery facilities for companies located all around the world. Should we prevent these companies from taking on foreign clients because people in those countries will be made redundant?

For employees working in the field of transactional processing or customer contact the new world of outsourcing actually opens up new opportunities for career advancement. Not all outsourced companies are located overseas. IBM and Accenture have well developed shared service centers that operate in the USA, Europe, Australia and other countries, they hold large contracts and see service as their product.

Under this model activities that were once considered back office are now the primary purpose. No longer do employees have to do their time before getting a 'real job' in sales or production and for those who enjoy customer service a long term career path is now available within these service organizations.

Outsourcing of customer contact and transactional processing activities is barely a decade old. As a strategy to remain competitive it is so far proving successful. Short term some job losses are experienced however in the longer term the employment market will adjust to these changes as it has done in the past. To place constraints on outsourcing will restrict companies' ability to operate competitively and will result in many more job losses than are being experienced now.
Suggested Reading: Smartsourcing: Driving Innovation and Growth Through Outsourcing

 

Published in Strategy

CultureInternational trade is the name of the game in today's business world. Understanding cultural differences can mean success or losing the deal at the first meeting. It can create a huge impact on your reputation and the way your business is viewed by the rest of the world.

Twenty years ago a Japanese businessman refused to deal with a female friend of mine who was working for the government on a large contract. He stated he would only deal with a man. We of course were outraged that his demands were met and she was replaced with a less qualified male to do the deal.

Much older and wiser now I recognize that to be successful internationally sometimes requires you put aside your own sensitivities and do what is necessary to close the deal. Was it really worth losing a multi-million dollar contract to insist someone conform to our views of equality of gender? Probably not.

There are cultural differences however that are worth losing a deal for. In some countries in the world it is culturally acceptable to use child labor. In other countries bribing government officials is seen as part of the normal course of a tendering process. While refusing to deal with these people will lose you the deal, your stance on human rights and corruption will enhance your reputation with other countries and benefit you more in the long run.

These two extremes aside there are many other important cultural differences which can and will impact on your international business success.

While western culture currently dominates the business world, the growing Asian markets are opening up rapidly. Many norms of body language accepted in the West convey the exact opposite of meaning in the east. Direct eye contact in the West is a sign of honesty whilst in many Eastern countries it is disrespectful. Can you picture the meeting where you are doing your utmost to make eye contact while your counterpart is trying equally hard to avoid it?

I made my first international business trip to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. My only thought in choosing my attire for the flight was the expected heat at my destination. Shorts and a t-shirt seemed like a good idea at the time.

For a woman traveling alone to a dominantly Muslim country I could not have chosen more inappropriately. I landed at 11.30pm and whilst it did not cause me any major problems the disapproval of the people around me was palpable. Dressed in a pants suit for my meeting the next morning everything went exceedingly well.

To make the connection essential for ongoing business relationships you must understand the culture of the people you are dealing with. As with everything first impressions count and you don't want to start by unknowingly showing disrespect to the people of the country you wish to deal with. The smallest details are important.

Even within the English speaking world you need to take care. American, English, Canadian and Australian cultures, whilst similar, all have their differences. A common language helps to break through cultural barriers and sort out misunderstandings but not making mistakes in the first place is a much better option.

 

Published in Leadership

Business PLan

A business plan is an integral part of the success of every new business. It is essential if you require funding but even if you don't it will provide a valuable blueprint for you to follow to ensure your new business venture is a success.

Business plans generally follow a standard format. Before you can start to write your plan you will need to clarify your business idea and do the research necessary to complete the following sections.

Title Page

The title page is as simple as it sounds. Start with the words ìBusiness Plan forî and then add the name of the business. On a new line insert the years the plan covers and on a third line, ìPrepared byî and the name of the preparer.

Table of Contents

A table of contents should be included if your plan is longer than five pages.

Executive Summary

This is the most important section of your plan. Readers will read this first, then the financial section. They will only read the other sections if they want more detail. If your plan is less than six pages an executive summary is not required.

The executive summary should contain a summary of your business mission, the market you are targeting, your products or services, your income and profitability and your management team.

Although this is the first section of your business plan it is easiest to write it last as it summarises the rest of the content.

Mission Statement

Your mission statement identifies the purpose and goals of your business. In this section you should state your vision for your business and identify what you are selling, where your market is and why you will be successful.

Business Ownership and Address

Often overlooked by first time plan writers this section simply identifies the registered owner(s), address and contact details of the business.

Market Analysis

The market analysis section is critical to proving your business idea can be successful. It includes an assessment of the economy as it relates to your business, your target customers and the needs of those customers that will be met.

An assessment of your major competitors, their strengths and the size of the market you are entering must be included to prove that you understand the requirements to enter the market and compete successfully.

Finally you need to include a list and description of your main products and services and your planned marketing methods.

SWOT Analysis

Once the market and your place in it are understood you can compile an analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats relative to your competitors.

Strategies

An overall summary of your main areas of focus can be followed by specific strategies for each core product. These strategies should be designed to minimise identified weaknesses and threats and take advantage of your strengths and opportunities.

Your pricing strategy should explain your pricing relative to your competition and how this strategy will operate to give you advantage.

Projected sales by product for each of the next three years should be shown and then further broken down to sales by month in the first twelve months. A graphical representation is a simple and effective way to present these projections.

Structure and Management Team

The ownership structure and management team of the business are essential information for investors. Investors fund people not business plans so they want to know who will be responsible for bringing the plan to life.

Very few sole traders have all the expertise required to cover every aspect of a new business. If you are lacking certain expertise, for example marketing expertise, ask a friend or business associate if they would be willing to act and be named as an adviser to your business.

Action Plan

Include your key actions for the next twelve months for each of your strategies. Use tables to illustrate the timing of actions across the twelve months and provide action statements specifying the cost, the responsible person and deadlines.

Marketing Plan

Describe your brand, the brand proposition and its personality. Outline your communications program for the next twelve months. Include paid advertising if it is to be used as well as activity to obtain free promotion.

Finances

Provide an income statement, cash flow, balance sheet and break even analysis for the next three years and a break down by month for the first twelve months. Outline the capital investment required, the purpose for which it will be used and either a repayment schedule or expected return on investment.

When you have completed these sections you can return to your executive summary to finalise your plan. While writing your plan there are some things you should keep in mind.

Tips

Keep your plan as concise as possible. Be sure to include all relevant and required information but most start up plans can be completed in less than twenty pages.

Be realistic; err on the side of conservatism. Put most of your emphasis on the first twelve months as it is critical you have a clear path forward to survive and achieve growth.

Choose your key activities wisely. You will not be able to do everything in the first year. Prioritise to achieve early results then build on these to achieve your ultimate vision in the future.

Assistance is available from industry associations and government bodies. The US Small Business Administration website is an excellent resource for new business owners.

Starting a new business can be an exhilarating experience but to take an idea from thought to reality requires careful planning and ultimately action. A well-written business plan will help you to do both.

 

Published in Entrepreneurship

built to lastBusinessWeek - Reading List,

If anyone has plenty of choices in reading material, it's Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos. Wonder what his favorite business book is? Or what about a big B-school dean like Douglas Dunn of Carnegie Mellon? Well, here are some answers.

Over the past few months, we've contacted popular professors and business professionals and asked them about their favorite books, business or otherwise. What made those books inspirational, instructive, or influential in their thinking and their careers? What would they advise you to read if you had the chance to ask them?

 

Collins and Porras, Built to Last

Downes and Mui, Unleashing the Killer App

Drucker, Management Challenges for the 21st Century

Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree

Gates, Business @ the Speed of Thought

Kelly, New Rules for the New Economy

Kidder, The Soul of a New Machine

Lewis, The New New Thing

Pine and Gilmore, The Experience Economy

Shapiro and Varian, Information Rules

Strouse, Morgan

Swisher, Aol.com

Tichy, The Leadership Engine

 

 

Published in MBA Studies
Thursday, 14 October 2010 15:11

Social Media and the Context for Corporates

A tweet there, a status update here, a blog post over there. This seemingly inconsequential stream of online commentary has suddenly begun to challenge the orthodoxies of traditional marketing approaches. Granted, corporates may have come to the social media party late, but they are showing every intention of playing catch-up. And those companies that don’t embrace these new methods of communication risk being left behind in the turgid realm of old media.

Published in Marketing and Sales

PicAfrica presents myriad opportunities for growth and investment in the near future and beyond. So says The McKinsey Global Institute, a think tank focusing on business and economics research worldwide. McKinsey partners presented the findings of their June 2010 report Lions on the move: The progress and potential of African economies at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) on 14 September. Their conclusions were both surprising and encouraging.

Mutsa Chironga, Engagement Manager in McKinsey’s Sub-Saharan Office observed that in the global political economy most growth has come from emerging markets, and that Africa forms part of this new dynamic fold. “Growth has headed South, while debt has headed North”, he said.

Published in South Africa
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