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Ridiculously Cute Halloween Costumes: Pet Obsessed!

Ridiculously Cute Halloween Costumes: Pet Obsessed! | Cultural Trendz |
Twenty five awesome Halloween pet costumes. Check them out! ~ V.B.   (Click on the image or title above to view original post.)
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When parents are the ones too distracted by devices

When parents are the ones too distracted by devices | Cultural Trendz |

Having a teenager lost in his or her cellphone — texting friends and communicating with parents in monosyllabic grunts — has become a trope of the Internet age. But teens are not the only ones distracted by their devices.

Many parents have the same problem. As much as I hate to admit it, I'm one of them.

A couple weeks ago, my 12-year-daughter, Ella, staged an intervention. She and my wife basically threatened to take my phone and break it.

"Sometimes at night you'll just stand around and ... you'll have your phone out and you'll just type and you'll just stand there," Ella says.

Ella can be a brutal mimic. And as she describes my distraction, she strikes up my smartphone pose: the phone balanced against my belly — thumbs madly typing away — (as if by holding the phone that way no one will notice that I'm on it).

"Lila's ready to go to bed, everybody's trying to get people to read to them and you're just standing there in the middle of the hallway reading your texts and texting other people," she adds.

Hearing from my oldest that I'm ignoring her little sister stings.

"Has that gotten worse?" I ask.

"It hasn't really changed; it got worse when we moved to California," Ella says.

That was when I started covering technology.

"Do you feel jealous of my cellphone? Do you get mad at it?" I ask.

That earns an eye roll and a laugh.

"No, why would I get jealous of a cellphone?"

"I don't know," I say. "Do you feel like you are competing for attention?"


With that she wins the argument.

And Ella isn't the only kid who feels this way about her parent's relationship with devices.

, a clinical and consulting psychologist at Harvard, recently wrote . For her book, Steiner-Adair interviewed more than 1,000 kids from the ages of 4 to 18. She talked to hundreds of teachers and parents.

"One of the many things that absolutely knocked my socks off," she says, "was the consistency with which children — whether they were 4 or 8 or 18 or 24 — talked about feeling exhausted and frustrated and sad or mad trying to get their parents' attention, competing with computer screens or iPhone screens or any kind of technology, much like in therapy you hear kids talk about sibling rivalry."

Steiner-Adair says one of the challenges we all face is that these devices are wired to grab our attention and keep it. She says the most successful apps are popular, even addictive, because they in our brains.

"Yes, when you are plugged into your screen the part of your brain that lights up is the to-do list," Steiner-Adair says. "Everything feels urgent — everything feels a little exciting. We get a little dopamine hit when we accomplish another email — check this, check that. And when a child is waiting by or comes into your room and it's one of those mini-moments and you don't know — that's the hard thing about parenting — you don't know if this is the ordinary question or they're coming with something really important. It's very hard as a grown-up to disengage and give them your attention with the [same] warmth that you give them, the same tone of voice that you greet them if they interrupt you when you're scrambling eggs."

A couple of years ago, my daughter got a laptop for school. And because she was becoming more independent, we got her a phone. We set up rules for when she could use this stuff and when she'd need to put it away. We created a charging station, outside her bedroom, where she had to plug in these devices every night. Basically — except for homework — she has to put it all away when she comes home.

Steiner-Adair says most adults don't set up similar limits in their own lives.

"We've lost the boundaries that protect work and family life," she says. "So it is very hard to manage yourself and be as present to your children in the moments they need you."

Steiner-Adair says that whether you are a parent or not, carving out time to turn off your devices — to disconnect from the wired world and engage with the real people who are all around you — is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and the people your love.

After my daughter's little intervention, I made myself a promise to create my own charging station. To plug my phone in — somewhere far away — when I am done working for the day. I've been trying to leave it there untouched for most of the weekend.

And while I still find myself reaching for it — or checking my pocket — leaving my phone behind is also kind of freeing. Last weekend, instead of checking Twitter and reading tech blogs I built a treehouse.

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

The importance of disengagement and setting up boundaries. - "Parents often complain that smartphones keep their kids distracted from conversation. What happens when it's the other way around, when kids can't get their smartphone-glued parents' attention?"

Ivon Prefontaine's curator insight, April 17, 7:43 PM

Adults face tech challenges. I know school managers who cannot greet someone properly due to their inability to look away from their PDA. Is that example we want for children?

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Heading to work? Leave stress at the door.

Heading to work? Leave stress at the door. | Cultural Trendz |

Work-related stress is a fact of life. Everyone feels it at one time or another. And with 42 percent of workers saying workplace stress has driven them to a job change, according to a recent Monster poll, we’ve decided to uncover some ways to deal with stress once it hits.

Is it you or your job?

Alexandra Levit, author of “Blindspots: The 10 Business Myths You Can’t Afford to Believe,” says first, the stressed worker must identify the following: Is it me or is it my company or industry?

“Are you reacting to work or to life?” she says. “You want to assess whether you’re taking your own negative reactions and unproductive ways of coping with stress to the situation, especially if it’s your first [job].”

Levit says many industries — she uses the legal field as a good example — require a lot from employees, specifically the ones newest to the industry.

“People, especially in their first five years out of school, they don’t have balance,” she says. “Work is the top priority and that leads to a lot of stress.”

Levit suggests setting boundaries between work and life to the extent possible. And try to avoid being at the office or thinking about work 24/7 if you can.

‘Should’ is a bad word.

Work stress can at times be attributed to a mentality that the company or a worker’s superiors should be doing things differently.

For people thinking this way, Levit says: “Stop using the word ‘should.’”

“People get stressed out because they’re frustrated, they think things should be a certain way,” she says.

It’s important to reframe those thoughts, and to think about how you, as a worker, might be able to better operate under the circumstances.

“’It is what it is’ is one of my favorite sayings,” she says, adding that there’s a lot of truth in that seemingly dull workplace axiom.

Be prepared

Even if you realized the stress is attributable to you, and you’ve stopped saying “should,” odds are you’ll come up against a stressful situation on the job.

So get ahead of it, Levit says.

Levit, at a prior job, said she was put in charge of coordinating 300 media interviews with 150 executives at a press event.

“I wanted every single one of those interviews to happen,” she says, “but when you have that many moving parts it’s not going to be perfect.”

Prior to the event, she sat down with a friend to prepare. She and her friend built a hypothetical scenario where interviews were falling apart all around her. She developed a plan in case something that catastrophic happened.

“In your mind, it becomes much less threatening” when you make a plan, she says. “And when you find yourself in that situation it’s not as stressful.”

Get moving

Sometimes you just need to work it out physically. Levit says it’s important to get in the gym or go for a run outside whenever you can.

“Exercise really does decrease the stress response,” she says. “Even 20 minutes on the treadmill can make a big difference.”

Meditation works for some, but if it’s not for you, there’s always good old-fashioned deep breathing.

“If you force yourself, close your eyes and breath in and out 10 times, it’s amazing the difference it makes,” she says.

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

Stress is a driving factor in people’s job changes. This article provides guidance on how to stay stress free while at work.

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Ten great beer cocktails for Spring!

Ten great beer cocktails for Spring! | Cultural Trendz |
Beer mixology isn’t about improving beer, it’s about improving the cocktail. It’s also about easing the craft beer novice into the joys of the flavors we’ve already fallen in love with. The malt, the hops, the bold flavors that can all stand up to a few mixers and even another liquor is just another reason [...]
Vilma Bonilla's insight:

These look appetizing. Worth a try!

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Signs of Spring

Signs of Spring | Cultural Trendz |
Vilma Bonilla's insight:

Love to see signs of spring in nature like this little birdie! Many parts of the country are still experiencing some very cold temps. There is hope for Spring and warmer climate, friends!

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Every little thing she does is magic

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Six tips to being happy in the present moment

Six tips to being happy in the present moment | Cultural Trendz |

We all want to be happy.  But we have preconceived notions or beliefs about what needs to happen in our lives before we can be happy.  Maybe we need to get that dream job.  Or we need to have a million dollars in the bank.  Or maybe we need to have the body of our dreams.  Or we need the perfect relationship in order to be happy.

The list goes on. Yes, these things may indeed make us happy. Or then again, they may not.

When we set goals, we also have the tendency, once we’ve achieved them, to replace them with new goals.  So you may find that you still don’t feel happy after you’ve achieved that “big goal” because you’ve just replaced it with an even bigger goal that you now need to achieve before you can be “truly happy”.

But by doing this, we stack the odds against ourselves.  And if we play this game in order to find our happiness, then there’s a good chance that we’ll spend the rest of our lives chasing down the dreams that may ‘one day’ make us happy.

What if I told you that you don’t need any of those things in order to be happy in your life and that you can be happy today?  The key to happiness is learning how to be happy right now, while you work on achieving your goals, instead of waiting until you’ve achieved those goals to be happy.

Here are 6 simple tips that you can start applying today:

1. Practice Daily Gratitude

No matter how bad we think our problems are, you can almost guarantee that there’s someone out there with much bigger problems than us.  You may have heard the saying “I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet”. We need to be grateful for everything we have in our lives and practicing daily gratitude is a great way to train our minds to have an attitude of gratitude.

One technique for doing this is called “3 good things”, where every night, you simply write down three things that went well that day and casually reflect on why they happened.  According to a study conducted by Seligman, Steen, Park and Peterson (2005), people who performed this daily exercise for a week, were happier and less depressed at the one-month follow up.

So start making your “3 good things” list today.

2. Be Present Both Mentally & Physically

Whatever you’re doing, make sure that both your mind and body are present.  Don’t eat dinner with your family while you’re thinking about work.  Don’t do work, while you’re thinking about what you’ll do this weekend.  Always be present and let your mind focus 100% on what you’re doing.

If you’re having dinner with your spouse or partner, then try not to think about anything else but enjoying dinner with them.  Even if you’re doing something as simple as drinking a glass of water, you can be present. Enjoy the moment and taste of the water as you sip it slowly.  Try to find at least one situation every day where you can practice being present.

Simply start by focusing on your breathing.  Focus, slow down and appreciate being in the moment.

3. Stop Resisting What You Can’t Control

Stop resisting the things in your life that you can’t control and aren’t the way that you want them to be.  Stop worrying about what other people do or say.  Start accepting things for how they are, regardless of whether you think it’s right or wrong.  Accept it as a fact.

Let’s say that you are frustrated because a work colleague isn’t doing what you think they should be doing.  The more you think about that situation, the more frustrated you get.  You give them feedback.  Maybe you argue with them.  But the situation doesn’t improve or maybe it gets even worse.

So you have a choice — you can keep resisting or you can accept the situation without judgement.  You simply acknowledge it as a fact. There is no right or wrong. It’s just the current reality.  When you do this, the resistance starts to melt away and the negative emotions inside your head and heart also start to disappear.

Identify one situation where you feel you have some resistance and simply accept that situation for what it is.

4. Avoid Negative People & Situations

Another cause of negative emotions and unhappiness are certain people or situations.  You probably already know who those people are — they are the ones who seem to only see the negative side to every situation.  They are often pessimistic, angry, critical and rarely have anything constructive to say.  These people not only create unhappiness for themselves, but they also often drag down others around them by spreading this negative thinking ‘poison’.

If you want to be happy, you have to avoid these people and situations as much as possible.  Unfortunately, that’s not always so easy, since these people are often our friends or family members.  So if you can’t completely avoid these people, then it’s worth planning ahead and deciding how you’ll deal with them in future situations.  The next time you find them being negative, you could either politely tell them that you’d prefer not to discuss that particular topic with them and change the subject.  Or you could try to guide them into more positive thinking by asking them questions such as “how do you think you could solve that problem?”.

Don’t allow negative people or situations to also drag you down into unhappiness.

5. Accept 100% Responsibility For Your Life

If we want to be happy, then we have to stop blaming others for what happens in our lives.  We need to stop seeing ourselves as victims.  I have a family member who I love very much, but she is constantly blaming other people and situations for everything in her life that she’s not happy with.  She sees herself as a victim and feels helpless about changing things.

In order to be happy, we have to take full responsibility for everything that happens in our life.  When we take full responsibility, we take back control of our life and start to acknowledge that our thoughts and actions create the results in our life, not other people or situations.  When we take back control of our life, we stop being victims.  Instead we feel empowered to start creating a better life for ourselves.

Be honest with yourself, are you accepting full responsibility for what happens in your life?

6. Be of Service To Others.

One really powerful way to increase your happiness is to focus on helping others.  You can give money to charity — but there are more fulfilling ways of helping others.

Instead of giving money, give your time.  Get involved with a charity or donate a few hours to help with a local community project.  Or just perform small random acts of kindness with no expectation of getting anything back e.g. help a struggling mother dealing with her kids and bags of groceries.  Or buy a coffee for the person standing in line behind you.

According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, (a professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside and author of The How of Happiness), research shows that almost any type of random act of kindness boosts happiness.  So make a habit of performing at least one small random act of kindness every week.

So if you want to feel happier in the present moment, then start by choosing one of these 6 tips and take action today.  At the same time, keep working on your goals, but don’t rely on them alone to make you happy.  Choose to be happy right now.  As self-help author and motivational speaker Tony Robbins says “there’s a huge difference between achieving to be happy and happily achieving it”.

Omer Khan is a husband, father and creator of the Relax Focus Enjoy blog. He’s passionate about personal productivity and helping people to create more time to do what they love. He lives with his family in the ‘sunny’ Seattle area.  Pick up your free e-book “Recharge Your Life” when you visit Relax Focus Enjoy.


Vilma Bonilla's insight:

Happiness in the now is something my son (pictured above) has no problem finding. He takes great joy in the mundane and simple tasks. I learn a lot from him.

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Easter brings out new PEEPS #peepsonality

Easter brings out new PEEPS #peepsonality | Cultural Trendz |

With warmer weather on the horizon and longer days filled with sunshine ahead it’s time to officially THINK SPRING! What better way to share that spring has sprung than with PEEPS!

This year PEEPS® Easter offerings include:

    PEEPS® Marshmallow Chicks (in colors: yellow, purple, pink, orange, green and blue)
    PEEPS® Marshmallow Bunnies (in colors yellow, purple, pink, orange, green and blue)
    PEEPS® Party Cake Flavored Marshmallow Chicks
    PEEPS Chocolate Dipped Marshmallow Chicks
    PEEPS® Chocolate Dipped Mousse Flavored Marshmallow Chicks
    PEEPS® Chocolate Mousse Flavored Marshmallow Bunnies
    PEEPS® Large Marshmallow Bunnies
    PEEPS® Chick in a Hollow Milk Chocolate Egg
    PEEPS® Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Chicks (Individual Size)
    PEEPS® Rainbow Pop
    PEEPS® Sugar-Free Marshmallow Chicks
    PEEPS® Peepsters® (bite sized chocolate candies filled with sweet marshmallow crème)

These delectable treats can be found nationwide at grocery and mass retailers, PEEPS & Company retail stores or at:

This year we have put together some fun materials including our product fact sheets, PEEPS® Fun Facts infographic and some Easter recipes that we hope will spark some creative ways to incorporate PEEPS® this spring! Also check out our website,, to see fun ways our fans use PEEPS® in recipes, crafts and artwork sharing their own #peepsonality!
My Take on the PEEPS

When I received the box of peeps last week, I was completely shocked to see the breadth and depth of PEEPS that were available. I know the colorful birds that we always see around this holiday, but there were so many other varieties that were sent (as you can see in the image above). Of course we were thrilled as this opened up so many options for Easter Baskets (which will be a ton of fun this year) as well as for making some cool desserts too.

I jumped over to to check out the recipes that they had and the first one I saw was perfect for a treat for my youngest’s kindergarten class as we had all of the ingredients. I ended up making the PEEPS Rice Krispies Treats and not only were they pretty easy to make, but they were delicious (I had to taste them too!).

All-in-all these Easter treats were so much fun, and I have to say how much I am impressed with the wide array of choices that you get when you are looking at PEEPS. You no longer are looking at only the little marshmallow birds.

So as you get ready to fill your Easter baskets, I highly encourage you to grab some of these amazing marshmallow treats for your family (and yourself)!

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

You know Spring has arrived when you see Peeps everywhere! So many Peep-luscious options, including sugar-free. Some cool, creative recipes links found here too. Enjoy!

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My Chick Bad Remix

Music video by Ludacris performing My Chick Bad Remix. (C) 2010 DTP Records, LLC
Vilma Bonilla's insight:

Show me the Monday! #Baddest

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Adorable mom pics: 10-month old baby + rescue dog

Adorable mom pics: 10-month old baby + rescue dog | Cultural Trendz |


Not such Tokyo-based mother Aya Sakai's photos of her son and their French Bulldog, have I seen such a cute pairing like this! Meet Zoey and Jasper. Lifestyle photographer Grace Chon recently turned the camera on her 10-month-old Chinese-Korean baby Jasper and their 7-year-old rescue dog Zoey, putting them side by side in the most adorable portraits you'll see today. What led her to start a series? "I've always dressed up my dogs in silly costumes, so naturally when I had a baby I started collecting some hats for photos," Grace tells us. "One day, I put one on Zoey and I had the epiphany that baby hats look ridiculously adorable on dogs too! My sister had the brilliant idea of sitting them side by side in a photo. The response was immediate and I just kept going with it. I love my dogs fiercely (I'm a crazy dog lady through and through!) and it was really important to me that my dogs have a great relationship with Jasper. Zoey has exceeded my expectations as a big sister and I'm so glad I've found a fun activity that involves both of them!"

Though you wouldn't be able to tell in these photos, Zoey, the dog, is very shy. The story about how she came to live with Grace and her family is heartbreaking but comes with a happy ending. "She had a difficult start in Taiwan as a rescue dog," Grace explains, "she was born in front of a store and the owner washed her and all her siblings into a gutter. A schoolgirl walking by witnessed this and scooped up all the puppies and carried them home, with Zoey's mom following her all the way. She contacted Animal Rescue Team in Taiwan and they prepared the puppies and mom for adoption in the states.

"I went and picked up Zoey at LAX and the rest is history. She can be very afraid of new things, so I was surprised how much she took to wearing clothing. I know it sounds crazy, but I think it builds her confidence when she wears clothes. She does a happy dance when the props come out and she loves posing for the camera! Typically when I work with dogs I have to use a lot of treats to keep them motivated, but Zoey doesn't need any of that. She'll sit still very patiently and pose until we're done."

Jasper, on the other hand, just exudes happiness. "Jasper is seriously the happiest baby ever," says Grace. "He's been smiling for photos since the day he was born. When he was younger and I would share photos of him, people would always ask if he was actually that happy or if I was just catching split second smiles. He actually is that happy! He's used to smiling when the camera comes out and loves photo time. The entire shoot takes less than 5-10 minutes (I shoot really, really fast!) so once we're done it's off to crawling and exploring again."

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

Such cuteness!

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Is Twitter becoming the new Instagram?

Is Twitter becoming the new Instagram? | Cultural Trendz |
If a picture's worth 1,000 words, perhaps it's no surprise Twitter is looking more like Instagram. We look at their increasing similarities.




And if you are one of the 241 million users of Twitter, you may have noticed that there are a lot more pictures on the site than there used to be. In other words, people aren't using their 140-character limit just for words anymore. They want to put photos in to make their points. Same thing is happening on Facebook.

Alexander Howard has written extensively about social media and collaborative technology. He's a fellow with the Tow Center at Columbia Journalism School, and he's with us from Washington. Welcome to you, Alexander.

ALEXANDER HOWARD: Great to be here.

HOBSON: Well, is Twitter becoming more about the picture than the words?

HOWARD: Well, I don't think Twitter will entirely escape the words. They still matter. They frame what someone is trying to say. There are still many places in the world where people may text to tweet. You can still do that through SMS if you want, something I discovered recently when I was in the White House basement and needed to get tweets out but had no data connection.

But there's no question that pictures are becoming a bigger part of the network, particularly if you're using Twitter's clients or other clients like Tweetbot, which is what I use, that show the pictures inline, which is to say you see the pictures when you log in. And in many cases, if you have a mobile device, a lot of social networks are much more image heavy. They show up as, you know, big, glowing rectangles on the screen of your smartphone, on your tablet. And they immerse you in a way that perhaps a line of text would not.

And Twitter itself has reported that people engage much more with a tweet that has a picture in it. That means they favorite it, they reply to it, they retweet it. And there's every reason to think that it'll become, I think, an important way that people continue to express themselves in every social network, not just Twitter.

HOBSON: Well, if a picture is worth a thousand words, maybe it's people's way of getting around 140 characters.

HOWARD: That's a great point. And, in fact, here in D.C., I often see many people in the media who will snapshot a statement from the White House or the government official or any corporation, and then will put the picture of all that text into the tweet. So in effect, instead of having to jam many, many statements together, they might be able to get three or four paragraphs into a single tweet with then the text in the tweet acting as metadata for people to understand what it is they look at if they click on the picture or if they're just simply seeing it inline.

HOBSON: Do you think that Twitter is responding to Instagram or Twitter users are responding to their experience on Instagram or what?

HOWARD: Well, there's no question in my mind that Instagram's mobile first success caught a lot of people's eye. Whether it's in San Francisco or places around the rest of the globe, the fact that Instagram launched as just an app - there was no Web presence at first - and did so well and offered a certain level of intimacy, you know, in terms of the feeling of it where you're just, you know, scrolling through pictures with a very minimal amount of text, that was an attractive experience to people. And obviously, it was compelling enough that Facebook decided to acquire them along with all the data that they're generating because, remember, each one of these pictures may have location data behind it or other kinds of metadata, which makes it useful for a company to tap into.

And Twitter, from all we know, was interested in Instagram as well. They decided not to buy them and to go in their own direction in terms of hosting pictures themselves. I think it would be reasonable to say, however, that Twitter's product people are looking at other kinds of apps and services and seeing what they're deploying and whether those features might make sense for them to add themselves.

HOBSON: And does it open the door if Twitter is becoming more about photo sharing? Does it open the door for somebody else to come along and do what Twitter had traditionally done, which was 140 characters of text?

HOWARD: Well, you know, if you look back at 2008, 2009, there were hundreds of different services trying to do what Twitter did. And some of them offered more space. Some of them offered more features. If you can do something better that solves a problem for a user or is more engaging, there's plenty of space to do that. The challenge is there's a network effect always. So why are people in a given space? What brings them back there? Is there something there that they find useful? If another service can provide that, then great. If you look at the, say, success of WhatsApp, for instance, that clearly solves a problem across time zones. People can easily exchange messages without burning up their text messaging allotment or paying a lot.

There are many other services, which allow more ephemeral sharing of media. This kind of idea of direct social, where you're sending a picture to someone which goes away or that's anonymous. That's more intimate. And, you know, if those are better options for someone than the kind of much more public experience of Twitter, then they'll use that instead.

HOBSON: Now, I'm imagining some sort of a mash up between Twitter and SnapChat where your tweets disappear after a few seconds. I guess we'll have to wait and see if that happens.

I do want to ask you about one other thing, Alexander Howard, which is last month, during the Academy Awards, Ellen DeGeneres shut down Twitter, at least momentarily, when she tweeted this picture that she called it a selfie - although it was not really a selfie, it was a group of people - from the ceremony. And ever since then, that phenomenon - I'm calling it the groupie - has become very big on Twitter. People are taking pictures of groups, right?

HOWARD: It's happened more. I mean, look, there are very few platforms for getting an idea or a service out than the Oscars. The phenomenon of people taking pictures of themselves in front of things, though, is something that's been around for a long time. And it's really a form of self-expression. It's perhaps more native to people who have grown up with these devices.

But if you look back a couple of weeks ago, there was a picture of young Colin Powell, you know, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who took a picture of himself as a young man. And, you know, there's others - George Harrison and lots of other folks who've been really capturing themselves at a given time in a given place. And it's not just a moment, but it's an expression of that person, of the thing - of the story they want to tell about themselves to the rest of the world.

Now, the difference perhaps in our moment is that we have powerful smartphones connected to the Internet and social networks so that moment can be shared with so many more people in that - in the moment and commented upon and re-shared, et cetera. You know, if you think about what the Internet is to humanity at this point, it's a mirror. It shows the best and worst of us.

And the phenomenon of turning the lens on yourself is really a way of storytelling. It's best understood that way, as an expression. And if you're doing a group picture, well then that's an expression of being social of here are the people I'm with. You know, there's a phenomenon of selfies with Mitt Romney, the former presidential candidate, governor, you know, where you're capturing a bit of yourself with a historic figure.

And I think that's something that we'll continue to see over time. Maybe the idea of a groupie or selfie will lose some of the buzz, but the dynamic of telling the people connected to you something about yourself using that picture that's worth a thousand words, you know, I think that's going to continue for a while.

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

Love this discussion on the use of social media and photography as a form of self expression. Taking solo or group pics captures a moment in time that has value and meaning. It is an interesting dynamic that tells a story.

As Alex points out in this NPR discussion, the phenomenon of turning the lens on yourself, i.e. capturing selfies, is also about story telling and it isn't something new.


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Why we all benefit when we give each other the freedom to choose

Why we all benefit when we give each other the freedom to choose | Cultural Trendz |

“You must love in such a way that the other person feels free.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

I’ve read a lot of articles about loving without attachment and respecting other people’s choices, but it wasn’t until one day that I truly got it. And I will tell you what happened to me that day.

My boss and I have a very special relationship. He is the boss that everyone would want to have. He appreciates me for my work and for everything I do. He thinks that I am a great kid. Every time he has the chance, he praises my results and he shows his confidence in me and my work.

One day, I decided to go to a job interview at another company. I wasn’t planning to leave; I only wanted to see what other companies have to offer. And I told him about it.

His reaction was a complete surprise for me: instead of thinking of himself and offering me everything just so that I wouldn’t leave, he told me, “Andrei, go to the interview, and if you think that’s better for you, then go.”

It was obvious for me that he wasn’t okay with me leaving. He loved my work and he wanted me to stay, but he understood something: the most important thing is for me to be happy. And that made the difference.

He was thinking of me instead of thinking of himself. It was a breakthrough. Instead of forcing me to stay and granting everything so that I don’t leave, he offered me a choice. And choice means freedom.

It meant that I got to compare. I got to see what others have to offer and then choose what is right for me. And of course, when I get to choose, I choose what makes me happy. So I went to the interview, realized that my current project was better than the new one, and returned to work with new forces.

A few days after this, I was at home, remembering the whole scene when my girlfriend called and she told me that she was thinking of going on a trip for the weekend.

We hadn’t seen each other for a while and I had made some plans for us for the weekend. But she was thinking of leaving and she wanted to know what I thought about it.

The first thing that popped into my mind when she told me this was: “No! Tell her not to go! We have plans!” But then I remembered how my boss had reacted. I wanted her to be happy.

I wanted her to be able to choose what was right for her. I wanted her to have a choice, as I had, because I understood that choice means freedom. So I told her to go despite the fact that I was a little sad that I wouldn’t be able to be with her.

There are two things that I learned from these experiences.
Letting go gives people a choice.

My boss thought me an important lesson: think about what other people want and need instead of only thinking about yourself.

When someone wants a thing that is in contrast with what you want, there are two choices of action. The first is convincing the other to do the thing you want. This path empowers you. You will be satisfied, but the other will not necessarily be happy with it. By following this path, you take a risk by thinking that you know what is right for the other one. And you might fail.

But there is another path: presenting your choice, but supporting the other’s choice. This path is more beautiful and more powerful because it empowers the other. You may or may not get what you want, but either way there is no way to failing.
Choice means freedom.

Freedom is a thing that we all desire because ultimately freedom brings happiness. Freedom means being able to compare the situations—the benefits and the drawbacks—and choosing what is best for you.

As much as we all want to be free, we have to understand that others have the right to be free, as well.

They say birds are a symbol of freedom. If you look at the sky and watch their flight, you will understand why. I’ve never seen a bird dragging another one around the sky. Yes, they might fly one near the other, they might eat and sleep near each other, but that’s it. If they choose to drag one another, neither of them will be able to fly and they will both fall down to the ground.

It can sometimes be difficult to respect other people’s choices because it conflicts with our ego. But, we all want the freedom to choose what is right for us. And everyone benefits when we all choose to give it to each other.

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

"We all want the freedom to choose what is right for us. And everyone benefits when we all choose to give it to each other." ~ Wise words. Very applicable to all aspects of life but resonates especially in the professional setting when people make changes.

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Don’t expect a woman to head a Wall Street bank any time soon, critics say

Don’t expect a woman to head a Wall Street bank any time soon, critics say | Cultural Trendz |

Wall Street will not see a woman lead a major investment bank anytime soon, judging by the lack of women on bank executive committees of the major firms, say critics.

Only a handful of the executive roles at the major banks are held by women. And the financial industry, typically dominated by men, will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.

“The big question is when we will see a women heading a major Wall Street bank? It’s not happening in the next three to five years,” said Alex Lebenthal, president and CEO of Lebenthal & Company and member of The Committee of 200 (C200), an invitation-only networking organization, composed of female entrepreneurs and corporate leaders.

“I think there are women in the pipeline at different firms, but are they really in the pipeline for front and center roles or just thrown in?” Lebenthal asks.

KeyCorp.’s  KEY +0.01% chairman and CEO, Beth Mooney became the first female to lead a top 20 U.S. bank in 2011. Since then, the list has been lackluster.

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. JPM -0.61% and Morgan Stanley MS -0.88% are two major firms that have a female CFO, but critics say a lot more progress needs to be made to get women in more senior positions on Wall Street.

“Men are promoted based on potential and women are promoted based on experience,” said Maryann Bruce, who has spent more than 30 years on Wall Street and is currently an independent director of MBIA, an independent trustee for Allianz Funds and a member of C200.

The fact that women are leaving Wall Street isn’t helping.

J. P. Morgan recently announced the head of commodities, Blythe Masters, will step down, after the recent sale of its physical commodities unit to Swiss commodity trader Mercuria.

Masters, who started at J.P. Morgan as an intern, was with the firm for 27 years and grew the commodities unit over that time. The official firm memo said she will take “time off” but insiders say she won’t be sitting around for long and offers are likely pouring in.

A week after Masters’s resignation, it must be noted, J. P. Morgan elevated a woman into a prominent position at the firm. Joyce Chang was named head of Global Research after a management reshuffle, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The firm has two prominent female executives on their operating committee — the CFO and head of asset management.

Morgan Stanley’s CFO Ruth Porat, who is one of the highest-ranking women on Wall Street, called the fact that too few women are in leadership positions “embarrassing.”

“Women are still not reaching the most senior levels of corporations,” said Porat, one of two women on the firm’s executive team, speaking at the Japan Society last week.  “This is not the shortcoming of women. We’re talented and smart.”

Morgan Stanley has two women on its executive operating committee.

Networking and finding mentors are key to success for working women, say people in the industry.

“As a woman, you need to understand that you have to find people that could give you guidance and counsel and could advocate for you on your behalf,” said Bruce.

Bruce ultimately went outside Wall Street to look for mentors to get help in her career.

“The women who have joined our network have lower attrition rates from the work force than the average for the professional woman,” said Sallie Krawcheck, head of 85 Broads, in a recent interview with National Public Radio.

“So there’s something that’s happening in the network by bringing together these like-minded individuals, that’s helping these women in their careers.”

The culture also has to shift on Wall Street, Bruce points out.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS -1.62% has five women on its management committee, and just one on its executive committee, according to its website. But not one of them is a likely successor, say Wall Street insiders.

Wall Street assumes president and COO Gary Cohn is the likely heir to CEO Lloyd Blankfein, another man. And there is only one women that holds an executive level position out of the 10 executive roles at the firm: Edith Cooper, executive vice president and global head of Human Capital Management.

One of the key drivers to getting promotions on Wall Street is to have experience in the profit and loss part of the business and revenue generation, notes Bruce.

“You had to be able to show you could drive revenue and manage profit and loss effectively,” said Bruce, reflecting on her own career path.

Another issue is women leaving the workforce when they start a family, because they feel they are not supported by their employer.

Morgan Stanley is among a few banks that are attempting to lure women back into the industry after having children. The firm recently started a “returnship” program to help mothers return to the workplace and get back on the career track, in an effort to combat the loss of women in the workplace.

The firm recently announced its new class of managing directors, which included 41 women, or 27% of the total – the highest in the firm’s history, according to a Morgan Stanley spokesman, reported in The Wall Street Journal.

J. P. Morgan started a similar program last year and Goldman Sachs launched the first such program in 2008, according to Crain’s Business. And Credit Suisse AG CS +0.67% and MetLife Inc.  MET +0.42% are starting programs this spring.

Bank of America Corp. BAC -0.12% has four prominent women on its executive team, including the head of technology and operations and head of general audit.

Citigroup Inc. C -0.24% has 23 people on their executive operating committee and only two of those are women — recently appointed Jane Fraser, CEO of mortgages and Cece Stewart, president of U.S. consumer and commercial banking. The banks could not be reached for comment.

There is a “grass ceiling” on Wall Street, notes Bruce.

“Golf is a big part of the Street and most women don’t play golf, so suddenly they are left out of important discussions,” said Bruce. “So Wall Street has to adapt the culture to adapt to women.”

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Video: Digital devices and children

Video: Digital devices and children | Cultural Trendz |

Children are currently spending more time with technology than they do in school or with their family.

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

Click on the link or image above to watch this interesting video discussion. 

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How to speak strategically

How to speak strategically | Cultural Trendz |


It had been three weeks since my throat started to feel sore, and it wasn’t getting better. The pain was most acute when I spoke. So I decided to spend a few days speaking as little as possible. Every time I had the urge to say something, I paused for a moment to question whether it was worth irritating my throat.

This made me acutely aware of when and how I use my voice. Which led me to a surprising discovery: I spend considerable energy working against my own best interests. And if my experience listening to others is any indication, so do you.

In my observations, we speak for three main reasons:

        To help ourselves
        To help others
        To connect with each other

That’s not surprising. All three of those objectives are legitimate and worthwhile.

What is surprising though is how frequently we fool ourselves into thinking we’re achieving those objectives when, in reality, we’re thwarting them. The more I listened, the more I noticed how we undermine our own interests.

Frequently, I had the urge to gossip about someone else. I realized that I did this to help myself (I will feel better if I think I’m better than that person) and to connect with the other gossipers. But clearly that would distance me from the people about whom I was gossiping. In fact, it would probably even distance me from my fellow gossipers too; who could trust someone who talked behind other people’s back? My attempt to strengthen relationships was, instead, hurting them.

I also had the urge to share information when I thought it would be helpful to someone. That’s a productive reason to speak. But several times I had the urge to say something simply to show that I knew the answer. Or to get attention. Or to increase my power in the group. It became clear to me that my urge to speak in those moments came from my desire to feel special. I wanted people to like me and to think highly of me. But who likes the guy trying to show off?

Sometimes I wanted to help myself by getting the answer to a question, or making sure I was counted in a decision. That’s useful. But other times, I just wanted to make sure my voice was heard over the din of the other voices. I caught myself wanting to speak over someone in a meeting. Or arguing a point to get others to agree with me so I’d feel more confident in my own opinion (which I’m hearing a lot this political season). Is that really helping someone else?

In fact, I was amazed at how often I wanted to speak simply to assure myself that I was here. I had a role. I was noticed.

As I sat silently, trying to preserve my voice, I had the opportunity to notice how and when other people spoke as well. And I noticed all the same tendencies.

If I were to reduce our counter-productive speaking to a single motivation, it would be this: We often speak to make ourselves feel better in the short-term.

But life and relationships are long-term. And when we gossip, raise our voices, speak behind other people’s backs, offer unsolicited opinions, or make jokes at other people’s expense we’re isolating ourselves over time.

There was some good news in my experience of talking less: I listened more. And listening, it turned out, was a much more productive way to achieve my speaking objectives than speaking.

When I listened, I helped myself, helped others and built relationships at least as effectively as I did speaking and with much less collateral damage.

I’m obviously not suggesting we stop speaking; we can’t achieve our three objectives unless we do. We need ask for things. We need to share information. And there are a number of ways — like offering compliments and rephrasing what we’re hearing — we can build relationships through speech.

I am, however, suggesting that we think ahead — long term — when we’re about to say something in the moment. And that, before speaking, we ask ourselves one simple question: Is what I’m about to say going to detract from one of the three reasons I speak? If the answer is yes, consider saving your voice.

My throat is better now and I can speak as much as I want. Which left me feeling a little nervous; now that I know how easy it is to be self-defeating, will I keep myself on the productive side of the speaking equation?

Thankfully, the sore throat left me with a gift: the memory of a sore throat.

These past few days, when I get the urge to talk, I find myself doing a little calculation in my head: If I only have so much speaking I can do in a day, is this thing I’m about to say a worthwhile use of my voice?

What’s amazing is that most of the time I immediately know.

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

Make your words count, long term.

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Wise Quote

Wise Quote | Cultural Trendz |
Vilma Bonilla's insight:

"The problem with that approach is that [life] is too dynamic. Situations rarely repeat. Human behavior is diverse, erratic, and often unpredictable." ~

Ivon Prefontaine's curator insight, April 16, 1:37 PM

This is well said.

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Poor Leadership – by Anna Johansson

Poor Leadership – by Anna Johansson | Cultural Trendz |

No ship can set sail without a captain, and the same is true of businesses. Without the right leadership, a business will almost certainly fail even if the best possible employees are on hand. There’s a reason leaders in organizations get paid the big bucks.

Sometimes it’s the wrong fit, someone leaders get burned out and don’t step down or sometimes the leaders had no right being there in the first place. Still not convinced? Take a look at these five businesses that were destroyed because of poor leadership. They might still be active and flourishing today if someone else was at the helm.

1. Netflix

Who had the bright idea to split Netflix into separate paid services? The leadership, of course, and it was to detrimental effects. Netflix had the potential to take over and revolutionize the video industry, and in fact that’s exactly what it did when it took down Blockbuster. Nobody saw RedBox coming or the popularity of paid online streaming like Hulu Plus – including Netflix – until it was too late.

2. Blackberry

Remember when Blackberry was the ultimate status symbol, and nobody could fathom having any other type of smartphone? Blackberry has a history of nepotism, which often leads to poor leadership. The company also promotes people from within based on tenure rather than on skills and potential to actually lead. When competence isn’t the primary reason for a promotion, a company will surely sink.

3. Enron

This may be an extreme example of leadership gone corrupt, but it happened and is likely happening (perhaps on smaller scales) at other companies today. A number of Enron executives were found guilty for a variety of charges and are now serving long prison sentences. The takeaway lesson here is that they got away with it for years, and corrupt leadership caused financial ruin for hundreds of people.

4. Citi

Vikram Pandit simply didn’t have what it took to save Citi, which is why the company is now in bailout and basically owned by the government. He’s an example of a leader who should have never been put in the position, and should have had the foresight and courage to step down before taking down everyone else with him.

5. Merrill

Stan O’Neal wasn’t popular to begin with, and his incredible cost-cutting tactics earned him plenty of enemies. However, as the CEO of Merrill, he also became an ouster and he was in charge when Merrill had the biggest losses in nearly 100 years. He was then caught trying to merge with Wachovia behind the board’s back.


It’s clear that poor leadership is poison to a business. However, keep in mind that it’s also important for everyone in a company to be invested. Many of these disasters could have been prevented if the leaders weren’t blindly trusted and given the keys to the kingdom. It’s a two-way street with both leaders and subordinates being held accountable.

Figuring out and strategizing leadership is something that should start in a business plan when a business is just beginning to stretch its limbs. Failure to plan and not having SOP in place are triggers for poor leadership, but it’s just so easy to skip over these steps in the early stages. Business owners too often think they can get around to these kinds of details later, but later never seems to come. Perhaps if more startups focused on streamlining management protocol, foundations would be sturdier.

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

There are plenty more examples of poor leadership. The most egregious error by far, however, is not holding leaders accountable or supporting their efforts. Don't be surprised when employees leave.


For what you tolerate will continue. People will treat you, the way you allow them to treat you.

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Fields of Gold

Music video by Sting performing Fields Of Gold. YouTube view counts pre-VEVO: 5,830,897. (C) 1993 A&M Records
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Rediscover the beauty of life

Rediscover the beauty of life | Cultural Trendz |

“If we look at the world with a love of life, the world will reveal its beauty to us.” ~Daisaku Ikeda

As kids, we are beings of wonder. Spending hours inspecting blades of grass, hoping to discover lady beetles, rocking fairy wings or a cape at the shops because we feel like it, laughing for the silliest reasons, and finding unadulterated happiness in special treats, our favorite cartoon, or a game of hide and seek.

As teenagers, we often become too cool to find joy in the simplest things but still manage it hanging out with friends, falling in love with celebrities, and listening to that one song over and over again.

But, by the time we reach full-blown adulthood, those whimsical childhood traits may be as forgotten as an invisible friend.

As grown ups we’re allowed to do all the fun things we spent high school wishing we could do, and yet, we get caught up in jobs we hate, paying bills, sitting in traffic, and sometimes ‘just getting by.’

I know this feeling, because I’ve been there.

And then, one day, I decided it was time to stop for a second and find a way to get back to a time when life was more joy-filled. Rediscovering the beauty of life, instead of focusing on the ugliness, the negativity, or the laborious pains of just getting by.

The Beginning Of Change

Since I was fifteen, I wanted to work in film and television. I did my high school work experience at a post-production company and decided I would work there one day.

I graduated top of my class studying film and TV in high school, I was (and still am) a total film geek, I studied it at university. And then landed by dream job at the company I’d experienced five years earlier.

I could not believe it.

From that point onward, I went from contract to contract working some crazy hours (like 2PM to 2AM shifts for an entire month).

I went through periods of no work between contracts (and, as a result no money), being morally torn between staying true to myself and doing what it takes to butter people up for the good jobs, working on shows I hated, working with people who made my skin crawl, getting praised by my superiors but being ignored by those doing the promoting, and continuing to strive for a dream job that felt like it was never going to happen.

Of course, the perks of the job were fantastic—working with some great people, every day being interesting and unexpected, traveling, and working in what I still consider to be a really fun industry.

But when something stops serving you, it becomes so much harder to see the good from the downright terrible.

This all culminated when I landed the producing job I’d been working toward. Oh, what an achievement! You can imagine my excitement after so many years of working my way up to the job I’d always wanted. The celebration that followed the promotion was…non-existent.

I was earning good money. I had the job title. I was finally getting somewhere. And I didn’t even stop to acknowledge it because all I could see was that I still wasn’t happy.

A friend rang to congratulate me and I didn’t even notice.

I was so overwhelmed by the anticlimax of it all. And that’s when I knew something needed to change.

It’s Time To Do More of What Makes Me (and You) Happy

It may seem like a ridiculous notion to some, but I honestly and truly believe that when you see these habits of what feels like never ending complaining, whining, and frustration then it’s time to make some changes.

Some people are totally cool to accept that this is all there is, but not me. (And maybe not you, either).

When I realized that too much of my time was spent unhappy, I decided to do whatever I could to change that.

I changed jobs as soon as possible. I started working with people who meant the world to me in a role that was much better suited to me. This gave me room to breathe and come up for air after ten years on a career path that I decided I hated.

I started to see what I loved again.

And even if I was still trying to decide what to do, this made it easier to finally be happy. And I became aware of how I could do more of this on an everyday basis.

I set dinner dates with friends on Monday nights to make the beginning of the week oh-so-enjoyable. I took advantage of coffee runs at work and turned them into glorious sun walks. I found joy in the simple pleasure of sitting in the park on the weekend just chatting or reading.

I noticed I was changing. Sure sometimes stress still popped it’s head up and challenges arose, but I was becoming better equipped to handle the unknown because I had simply brought more joy into my life. The unexpected inconveniences became less frustrating, and the simplest pleasures became more obvious.

The power of needing to change allowed me to find ways of doing more of what made me happy.

Rediscover the Beauty of Life

I’ll be completely