Would you get sent to Mars?

18 February 2015 by in Business and finance, Current events

We’ve all had jobs we’d rather forget, whether it be working in a rowdy bar cleaning up vomit from the toilets or spending your days in a call centre and getting abuse thrown at you for your whole shift. But these are run-of-the-mill jobs (for most of us) that we have to do so that we can climb the ladder of success to reach the goal of being happy in our careers.

But what is the oddest job? This week, NASA revealed the top ten finalists for their Mars One mission. These will be the first people to live on another planet, permanently. No more chocolate bars, binge watching of Keeping up with the Kardashians or relaxing walks on the beach for these people. They are all on a one-way mission to become Martians and will leave our planet forever. The very idea of this mission has sent the Infinite Ideas office into a panic. We really don’t want to go to Mars, thank you very much, it’s hard enough to psych ourselves to go to London when needs must! Therefore, people that really want to do this are most likely slightly odd themselves and planet Earth will probably not miss them very much. Goodbye and thank you Martians!

Penguins

What do you mean you’re going to Mars, Roger?

However, after the scare of being sent to Mars, we found an equally odd job that might seem really fun. The position of Antarctic postmaster has become available and we think it would be just lovely to spend a few months ‘down south’ playing with penguins and making snow men. Sure, apparently the penguins smell a bit, but so will you if you live in the Antarctic (with no shower for a month, apparently) so you probably will come to really love the smell of ‘eau de penguin’. Though it might be lonely, you can take lots of books with you and, working in the post office, you can get lots of care packages of Dairy Milk and PG Tips sent from your mum. It’s probably very safe as we assume the crime rate in Antarctica is very low (excuse the pun) and there are no polar bears as they are northern dwellers (much like Jon Snow).

So if any of these rather silly jobs appeal to you, we can help you out. Though we will not be joining you on your mission to Mars, we will give you lots of business tips on how to make sure you secure your dream job. Surely the Mars trip will need a leader (though we fear some sort of Lord of the Flies scenario will ensue) and so to help them out, our book, 100+ Management Models by Fons Trompenaars and Piet Hein Coebergh is an excellent resource for an efficient leader. We will be with you in spirit, Mars One.

100+ management models buy

Goodbye page 3, goodbye to ‘harmless fun’?

21 January 2015 by in Current events, The Diversity Dashboard

nomorepage3If rumours are to be believed, this is the final week that The Sun are featuring topless models on page three. This can be seen as a huge victory for the No More Page 3 campaign, whose message is that ‘boobs aren’t news’. Being a media company, we cannot quite understand the need for so many boobs every day. To be honest, we’re really quite glad that they’re going. It turns out that you really can have too much of a good thing.

The more arguments we have read in the past few days in favour of page 3, the more ridiculous it all seems. One topless model, who shall remain nameless to protect her dignity, tweeted:

It would seem that the emphasis on how page 3 promotes beauty and healthy women is key to its remaining a key part of British culture. Beauty is subjective, and there are many people who think that the ‘ugly feminists’ that you refer to are incredibly beautiful.

Another baffling argument is that page 3 is inherent to the British culture. Just like cups of tea, the monarchy and awkward silences, Britain just wouldn’t be the same without a pair of knockers to look at while eating our cornflakes. Of course, one could say that if you don’t want to look at it, don’t buy it, but the point is that it is there, it is demeaning, we should be celebrating women’s achievements and reading about real news rather than listening to the latest DDD telling us about her concerns regarding the situation in Syria. I am yet to see a topless man in speedos on page 3 greet me on my way to work, but perhaps that is a very good thing indeed!

Whether or not this is just ‘harmless fun’, perhaps it would be better places in a magazine better suited than a morning newspaper. It becomes difficult to take the ‘hard-hitting’ journalism with a spoonful of boobs. On the subject of culture crashes, Eilidh Milnes and Deborah Swallow, authors of The diversity dashboard have some helpful advice with regards to nude pictures of women, particularly when crossing borders:

Culture crash
A successful UK construction company had delivered several building contracts in Dubai. There were many lucrative deals in the pipeline and Greg Martin was confident that he had established a good working relationship with his Arab counterparts. He then employed a marketing director who had little or no experience of working in UAE. It was Christmas time and the new director decided to send gifts of calendars to Dubai. His UK clients loved them, so he did not think to check with the CEO. The response to the prestigious Pirelli calendars was not what he expected…

Culture tip
The Pirelli calendar is famous for its limited availability as it is only given as a corporate gift to a restricted number of important Pirelli customers and celebrity VIPs. The calendar pictures are generally considered ‘glamour photography’ – naked women. It is a totally inappropriate gift for the region and the reaction from Dubai was immediate shock, horror and dismay. The whole enterprise was jeopardized and Greg Martin had to fly out immediately to placate his client. There was a ceremonial burning of the calendars and a tremendous loss of face. To date Greg has done no further work in the Emirates.

Diversity Dashboard order

Beat blue monday

19 January 2015 by in Current events, Lifestyle

As if Monday isn’t bad enough, today is Blue Monday; supposedly the worst day of the year. Christmas seems like forever ago, you’ve already broken your resolution not to drink and temperatures in the UK have dipped below zero. What could be worse? Well actually, there are lots of things that are worse, like losing your luggage at the airport (bad luck to anyone who experiences this today) or stepping in something wet when you’ve just put on a clean pair of socks.

elephant

Infinite Ideas are no strangers to helping people out of a bad spot with our books, Defeat depression and Beating the blues. We have come up with several strategies in the office to give you some helpful tips to make this feel like any other Monday (except better because most people do not like Mondays).

  1. Perhaps the obvious solution to beating Blue Monday is to paint the town red. Don’t do what the media is telling you to and go crazy after work. Infinite Ideas will not take any responsibility for the hangovers or bad decisions that may ensue. Our advice should be taken at your own risk.
  2. Play your favourite song. We’ve all got a song that makes us get up and dance; throw our arms in the air like we just don’t care. Blast it out in the office and start a happiness rave
  3. Go swimming. Immerse yourself in a pool of relaxation and pretend you are in the Mediterranean Sea.
  4. Take a long lunch. OK so you may have to make up for this later today but give yourself a break today. Take some time for yourself and chill out before returning to the office.
  5. Think about this evening. What will you do with your free time? Perhaps you could go home and curl up with that book you swore you’d read this year. Or cook for your friends/housemates/significant other; there’s nothing better than coming in from the cold to a hearty meal on the table.
  6. Think about summer. Just like Olaf in Frozen, think about what you’ll do in the summer. It might feel like forever away but the daffodils are beginning to bud. Before you know it you’ll be dusting off your summer wardrobe.
  7. Do something spontaneous. This could be simply buying a chocolate bar or it could be booking that trip to Morocco that you’ve always wanted to take. Regardless, it’ll put a spring in your step.
  8. Call someone that means lots to you. For many of this, it’s our mum, but it could be a friend or extended relative. You can bet that they’re not expecting it and it will give them as well as you a lift.
  9. Print off a picture of happiness. Of course, happiness is subjective so find something that makes you smile. This may be a picture of a tropical destination or it could be Ryan Gosling. See, we’ve done the hard work for you!
  10. Look at the picture of a really happy baby elephant. This is bound to improve your day. If it doesn’t then we cannot help you.

Football: tax the expensive players to get more suspense

7 January 2015 by in Business and finance, Current events, Football Business

(Translation of an article that appeared in the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant.)

Introduce a levy on players and football is fun again.

Football is getting less exciting. In many leagues and tournaments competitive balance is decreasing. For instance, only few clubs still have a chance to win the Champions League, and Ajax is no longer among them. In addition, the status and therefore the attractiveness of the leagues of small countries is waning in the long run because of the outflow of talent, and this also holds for the Dutch Eredivisie.  Of course, a boy from Amsterdam can support of Barcelona so that he can see the club of his dreams win the important Spanish title, or the Champions League. But he sacrifices his chance to see his club win in a football stadium. Barcelona is far away, and CampNou has only 99,000 seats. The boy will cheer before the television, possibly alone because his friend next door is an Arsenal fan.

In the meantime tickets are getting more expensive, and viewers now pay to watch matches that used to be free. In the Netherlands, things are not like this yet. However, the cheapest season ticket for Arsenal is a staggering €1250. Football is getting less accessible for the average fan.

How do our politicians react to this? They let it go. If the Dutch government takes a measure which  significantly harms big firms – such as a high old-fashioned tax on profits  – many firms will move abroad.

But football is different. The biggest clubs are all located within the European Union. And it will remain that way. Arsenal cannot move to New York, because it will lose almost all its fan. And therefore the European Union  has, in principle, power over the clubs.

It should use that power now. I propose a progressive social levy. This means that a club like Arsenal should spend one euro on special projects for every euro it spends on players’ salaries. For example, projects to reduce the rate of school dropouts, or to support non-professional clubs.  The downside to this is that the levy will force Arsenal to spend less on players, which will weaken its squad.

Feyenoord Rotterdam adopts this sort of business model: for every euro the club pays out on player salaries, it has to spend 20 cents on social projects.  For a small Dutch club like Cambuur the figure is five cents, so that Cambuur can pay its players almost the same salaries as before.  So, Cambuur stands a better chance against Feyenoord, and Feyenoord can score more goals against Arsenal. This is also an advantage because Feyenoord’s monumental stadium, De Kuip, has a much better atmosphere than Arsenal’s expensive Emirates Stadium, making victory for the fans even sweeter.

But can the football sector really afford to divert large sums of money to social projects? The answer is simply, yes, it can. The average club in the English Premier League, for instance, now earns 53 times as much as the average club in the English top division of 1960 (after adjusting profits for inflation). Elsewhere in Europe, football has also seen remarkable growth. The exploding revenues have mainly been used to pay players higher salaries. Now, because the levy is directly based on the players’ payroll, the players will earn less so that no club needs to go bankrupt. Because the levy is highest for the largest clubs, it is the top players like Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney that will feel the effect of this business model most harshly. But they can still become millionaires.

What we need is to restore balance to the competition and not restrict victories to whichever club has the most money to spend on players. At the same time, more money will be available for social projects. Too idealistic? From an economic view certainly not.

But is the proposal politically feasible? We are talking about a policy that harms vested interests and that can only be successful after a hard political battle which can take many years. So the question is whether there are politicians who want to fight for the fans. Or will politicians rather prefer to let the football fans walk alone? One thing is certain: the extent to which football remains attractive will depend on politicians.

Tsjalle van der Burg is economist and author of the book Football Business: how markets are breaking the beautiful game

The rise of the ghost (writers)

10 December 2014 by in Book publishing, Current events, Entertainment

So it has emerged that YouTube phenomenon Zoe Sugg (Zoella to her fans) did not in fact write her book, Girl Online herself. She had help from a ghost writer and the Penguin editorial team. We had bets on in the Infinite Ideas office as to whether she had employed a ghost writer and some of us (Catherine) were proved right all along.

ghost writersBut what does a ghost writer do and why is Sugg’s book causing such an uproar within the publishing and literary community? Well, quite simply, people want to believe that she is flawless, the real deal, the girl next door turned internet phenomenon who can do no wrong.

Step into any bookshop at this time of year and you will see shelves lined with autobiographies of household names hoping to be the Christmas best seller. You don’t really think that Sir Alex Ferguson sat at his desk with writer’s block for months on end agonising over how best to describe Wayne Rooney’s hair transplant do you? Of course not, he has got better things to do, like lecture at Harvard and enjoy his retirement.

A ghost writer is not a victim. They are not forced at gunpoint to write a book which will be passed on as somebody else’s and paid in magic beans before being thrown back out into the light of day. Ghost writers understand the writing and editorial process and, often, get compensated generously by the publishers and the celebrities they write for.

It’s also an incredibly top secret affair. Most ghost writers have to sign contracts stating that they are not allowed to reveal themselves as the author of various works. They live like spies on the edge of society, among us but not really one of us. Not really though, many of them lead happy and fulfilling lives.

Perhaps some people will be disappointed that ‘role model’ Zoe Sugg was not the sole creator of her debut novel but her sales record will disagree with most of the sceptics. Such was they hype around the publication that signings were conducted in secret and had to be ticketed. This debacle has highlighted the importance of branding in a competitive publishing world. Did fans buy the book because they were interested in the story, or did they buy it simply because it was an extension of the brand they worship? There’s a reason that Jamie Oliver has been Christmas number one in bookshops for the last sixteen years and this trend seems to show no sign of slowing down. Kudos to Penguin, you’ve got great PR style.

Thanksgiving Thursday

27 November 2014 by in Book publishing, Current events

Happy Thanksgiving, American friends! While you’re tucking into your turkey and pumpkin pie, there are many that are bracing themselves for the Black Friday sales. In Britain, we are hardened to the Boxing Day rush and most of us have learnt by now that it really is not worth fighting the hair-pulling, toe-stamping horde of shoppers determined to get the half-price boots in John Lewis we’d been eyeing up since September.

turkey1

Sales have now moved online and are, in our opinion, much safer. So if you’re completely talked out tomorrow or have just had enough of your family’s bad jokes and anecdotes about the time you put Uncle Phil’s car keys down the toilet, perhaps you would like to enlighten yourself with some helpful knowledge from our free ebooks. And, because they’re ebooks, they can’t be bought in the shops and are therefore safe to buy from your living room.

Infinite Ideas’ Infinite Success series will be free for one more day so make sure you get your hands on it quick.

Good luck for Christmas, hardy revellers, we’ve got the sherry stocked up already…