Category Archives: technology

Hospitality and Linguistics, by Samantha von Sperling of Polished Social Image Consultants

New York is the great social experiment of the planet. We are the example of how eight million people from all over can share this small piece of real estate peacefully.  Here we are, melting pot of the universe.  Walk down the street, hop the train, attend a function at the UN and count the number of languages you hear.

As the world becomes smaller and our  communication technology like SKYPE has made things we once only watched on cartoons like the Jetsons a reality.   More than ever before in the history of the world, just to be able to have a chance to compete and function on an international level we must speak at least three languages.  This is a new concept for most Americans who’s Americentric education has given us a worldwide reputation for being bad tourists.  We have always imposed that everyone else learns to speak English for our benefit.  That no longer flies.  Today, most decent schools around the world do their best to produce generations of people that can compete in the global market place by speaking three or more languages.  The Swiss for example are known for this benefit to their educational system.

Protocol dictates that at gatherings, the  chosen language be the one understood by the majority.  On the other hand, if one person is left out, the polite thing to do is to translate from time to time, so everyone is included in the conversation.

Recently I found myself in South America where I could practice my French. Like, Americans, Francophiles tend to flock together no matter where they are in the world, and so, I found myself at the most sophisticated lunch with my family, where, although everyone at the table spoke three languages in common, French was the language at the table. French is technically my second language but in practice my third.  My command of Spanish is far greater than my French, which although fully comprehensible, is not eloquent.  So ashamed by my poor handle of my mother’s tongue, I reserve it for when I must.  Whereas with Spanish I feel totally comfortable from habitual use and forgiveness by others for my small grammatical errors.

Immediately, I was transported back to the family reunions of my childhood where meals consisted of smiling politely, dying to be included, yet being seen but not heard.  Following the topics of  Swiss private banking and the price of vacation properties in the south of France, or Florida versus Colombia were not hard to follow, just simply out of my realm.

It makes one appreciate the language of pets, where depending on the intonation, a woof, growl, meow or purr is universal…

Communication is the key to everything.  If you find yourself in a situation where someone is not communicating with you I suggest making the effort to find out why. If you are in a group, try to make sure everyone is included so nobody feels ignored, especially if you are the host.  When you ignore someone’s presence you minimize their existence. Ultimately we are our words, it’s what makes us human: humorous, interesting, boring, a prick, or just kind.

We are now 9 billion people that share this finite space called earth.  We had better start communicating…

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Now that Fashion Societé is going Co-Ed….

Networking opportunities between the sexes abound so here are 5 spot-on points we love about exchanging business cards from Bags to Riches’s Linda Hollander:

5 Pet Peeves about Business Cards

NAFE member Linda Hollander, the Wealthy Bag Lady, is a 20-year entrepreneur and author of the best-seller, Bags to Riches: 7 Success Secrets for Women in Business. She teaches entrepreneurial women about small business success and is the founder of the Women’s Small Business Expo. Here are her suggestions for creating a professional and effective business card.

Business cards are your chance to make a brilliant first impression that will either lead to profits or frustration. When a person views your business card, you want them to know immediately about what you do, if you can help them, and how they can contact you. Sounds simple, right? Here are some of the most common mistakes:

1. CROSS-OUTS WRITTEN OVER IN PEN. The most egregious mistake! If your phone number or email has changed, please print new business cards. Don’t use a pen to cross out and write the current information.

2. CONTACT INFORMATION IS MISSING. A card with no physical address brands you as a teeny tiny micro-business. If you’re a home-based business, I don’t recommend giving the address of your house – but there are alternatives. Private mailbox rental locations are great because they also accept packages. You can get a post office box, or use a friend’s office as a physical address. When I read your business card, I also want your phone number, fax, web site and email address. Without your email, you look like a dinosaur. If you have a web site, don’t just list it – give people a reason to go there (free report, articles, tips, etc.)

3. MORE THAN 3 PHONE NUMBERS. Too Much Information. Choose the best phone numbers to reach you. I don’t list my cell; I forward my calls to my cell phone if I’m out of the office. If you’ve read my book, Bags to Riches, you know that I’m not a fan of the combination phone/fax. If you’re serious about your business, invest in a dedicated fax line.

4. FONTS THAT ARE HARD TO READ. Fancy fonts for your logo are great, but please choose a standard font for the contact information on your business card. Arial and Times Roman are clean and convey credibility. Another common mistake is colored type too light to read. I’ve seen yellow type on a white background too many times to count. One more point: the difference between a professional designer and a hack is the use of negative space. A beginner crams too much information on the card, creating clutter.

5. NICKNAMES. The name on the top of the card says Elizabeth “Betty” Jones. I have no idea what name to use. Am I crossing the line if I use your nickname? Is Betty only for your close friends? Which name do you prefer? Please pick one name and use it on your business card.

ALWAYS carry your business cards. Your business cards won’t work unless you do. (If you meet people who don’t have their business cards, ask them to write their contact information on the back of yours.) Now, go out there and network!

How to get into the blogging phenomenon, stylishly.

What a remarkable session Imogen Lamport, AICI CIP provided on Sunday afternoon, May 22nd at the AICI’s Orlando conference. And take that from a perennial blogger! From posing the question “What are the 5 most-asked questions people call you with?” I knew the time spent in Blogging and Writing Your Way to Expert Status would be constructive to the audience of image consultants. Why? The answers to that could lead right into creating a very successful source of new clients!

The attendees replied that they are frequently asked:

♦ What should I wear to a funeral?

♦ Should I get plastic surgery for this?

♦ What can I wear to get hired?

♦ What is appropriate attire for my new job?

♦ What do I need to know about clothing for people with disabilities

This interactive exercise led into how one finds the right subject for a blog. For image consultants, this means to go directly to the 5 main aspects of their business: What are they? Break the 5 down and explore the millions of ideas you can think of from there. And here’s the best tip: start off with what people consistently tell you that you are very, very good at! By delving into our passions we are naturally led to find our natural “voice”.

Imogen was very passionate about case study writing, because people love to read about stories they can relate to themselves. Case studies are popular because the outcome becomes a tried and tested “lesson”. Conclude she says, with a question that encourages them to comment about their own personal experience. This engages them to come back again and again to your blog, and works even if they’re not inspired to comment just because they’ve read the article.

Imogen Lamport B.A Comm, AICI CIP, buys only the finest designer clothes, has the body of a supermodel, and never worries about what to wear. And if that were true, she never would have started her company, Bespoke Image. With a BA in communications and a background in PR, Imogen served as past President of the AICI (Association of Image Consultants International) Melbourne chapter. In 2009, she became one of only eight image consultants in Australia to earn the Certified Image Professional certificate, acknowledging her highly competent level of training and experience. Imogen’s blog, Inside Out Style, gives free daily style tips and attracts devoted readers from around the world. She is also the Plus Size Womens Guru on LifeTips, with style tips for the curvier woman.

What is the industry consensus so far of Google’s www.boutiques.com?

In a deliberate collision between nerds and fashion mavens, Google has created a new
e-commerce site that significantly improves how fashion is presented and sold online. The site, Boutiques.com, which went live almost a week ago, may also change how people shop for clothes. 

Boutiques.com has so many capabilities and components that even Google engineers have a hard time qualifying it. It is a collection of hundreds of virtual boutiques merchandised — or, in the new parlance, “curated” — by designers, retailers, bloggers, celebrities and regular folks. You can shop in the style of, say, the actresses Carey Mulligan or Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen — among the celebrities who signed up — or you can build your own boutique and amass followers who can comment on your taste. 

It is a place, then, to show off your fashion acumen, much as millions of Polyvore users already do in their picture collages. 

It is also a source of inspiration. In every boutique on the site, there are dozens of additional choices inspired by a designer’s or celebrity’s style — generated by algorithms — with product photos that are much larger and sharper than on other shopping sites. 

And if you don’t know how to wear the leopard pumps you just bought, there’s a panel of street-style photos on the right side of the site that visualizes the shoes in more expressive modes. Indeed, whatever style preference you indicate — classic, romantic, casual — the inspiration panel automatically adjusts for them, like a support group that can read your mind with surprising precision. 

That may be Boutiques.com’s ultimate game-changer: how precisely it analyzes your preferences to give you what you requested. As many online shoppers know, search engines tend to give you stuff you don’t really want. A request for fern-colored shoes might yield fern shoes, plus fern-print blouses. 

But, as two experienced online shoppers found when they tested the site earlier this week at Google’s New York office, if you ask for cobalt blue shoes, you get them. And if you refine your preferences with a click or two, you get even more specific styles. 
The process at Boutiques.com is accomplished through visual search technology, and what style experts like Ms. Goodman and Ms. Holtz conveyed to Google code writers about the nuances of fashion — from color and pattern to silhouette and what looks good together and what does not. 

Despite the number of products a search on Boutiques.com kicks out, the download time is very fast, and choices appear on extra-long pages so you don’t have to keep clicking. Virtually every kind of information is analyzed — price, brand, color and so on. The site also includes a system called “Complete the Look,” for which Ms. Goodman wrote “a ton of rules,” Mr. Shah said, “and our computer vision and machine learning guys implemented them.” 

Additionally, there is a good sense of discovery on the site; items come to your attention — almost as they do in stores — that you didn’t necessarily plan to buy. Seasonal trends, like fall’s military looks, can be boosted on the site. Again, to Ms. Mulpuru, “that’s where Munjal gets it — fashion is about discovery.”