Beyond the Tangible is Where Learning Begins

CCA LiveE | Friday January 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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left-right.jpgby Erin Jacobs
Beyond the tangible work we construct as individuals and in groups, is an emotional being connected to learning experiences in very unique and personal ways. Though most of us grow up thinking it’s the logical and concrete things that validate us as successful human beings, it’s actually the emotional being that makes anything and everything we know come to life. The DMBA graduate program embodies this perspective, but for me, the experience only actualized itself once I learned to embrace it.
Working in teams is no easy task, especially when members have just met. Deciphering personalities is challenging enough without the added pressure of trying to excel in a graduate program. In school, the pressure is on. Our work must be perfect if the professor is to assign the respectable grades high-performing students desire. Having recently graduated from undergraduate studies at UCLA, it is logical to think that professors only know us for what we turn in, for the tangible things we produce. We think it’s up to us to make sure that everyone in the group is meeting expectations and working with high standards in order to receive desirable grades. After all, the work of the group directly reflects each individual and how the professor will perceive us.

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Profitable Philanthropy? The Values Behind the Figures.

| Friday January 2nd, 2009 | 2 Comments

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profitable%20generosity.jpg Around this time of year, big Fortune 500 companies resuscitate their annual giving campaigns, tossing boatloads of cash at a variety of charities in an attempt to demonstrate their philanthropic side, garnering a substantial amount of PR in the process. Meanwhile, in most cases, these very same companies are those engaging in socially irresponsible business practices such as exploiting offshore labor, animal testing, and wasteful manufacturing processes. It is also often these companies who emit harmful chemical pollutants and represent sizable carbon footprints.
While many of their products represent blockbuster brands in the market who remain popular — and highly profitable — the 2008 Cone Cause Consumer Behavior Study indicates that more than two-thirds of Americans now actively consider a company’s business practices when making purchasing decisions, underscoring socially conscious values as a key driver in the success of emerging companies and brands. In addition, American workers have also indicated that they want to work for an employer who supports a social cause or issue.

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Lost and Found

CCA LiveE | Thursday January 1st, 2009 | 0 Comments

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by Jennifer Pechacek
For the past 7 years—through a very challenging journey—I have been groomed within a professional context to provide leadership in project and team management working within architecture, planning and urban design. Communication techniques and skills are imperative to leading teams through the development of multiple projects. Communication helps sustain the outcome and so becoming a better communicator is of particular interest to me. LiveE as a course is designed to address the significance of “effective communication” within professional practice.
I chose to go back to school to break down my “me house”. Attending the dMBA program at CCA has presented me with the opportunities to free my hindered mind, engage in provoking thoughts, provide space for self-reflection and time to question my true self, as I see myself—not just in terms of how others view me. The pressures of professional business practice consistently remind me to remain “strong” and to never reveal my fears. However, during this first semester of dMBA I saw how I own my image. Returning to school has given me the wonderful opportunity to start a difficult conversation with myself.

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Leadership by Design

CCA LiveE | Thursday January 1st, 2009 | 0 Comments

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by Erica Frye
The business world has started to recognize something I’ve thought for a long time — designers have exactly what it takes to be great leaders. Here’s why:
We turn vision into reality.
Arguably the most powerful design skill (and the most underestimated, even by designers) is the ability to take abstract concepts and express them tangibly through visuals, messages, and models. We’re innovative at heart, and we bring the new and unusual to life in inspiring ways and show people things they couldn’t have imagined themselves.
We play well with others.
Designers work well independently, yet we also have the emotional intelligence and curiosity it takes to thrive in collaborative groups. We welcome input from those who will show us different perspectives, give us inspiration when we are stuck, criticize us when we can no longer see clearly, and push us to improve our work in ways we cannot achieve alone.
We see the big picture.
The best designers have a broad understanding of history, culture, and people, which gives us the perspective needed to see the long-range vision and give it context. We explore connections between unlikely things and weave those threads together into compelling stories that resonate.
We sweat the details.
I’ve never met a good designer who wasn’t obsessed with details! That level of attention can seem over-the-top, but consistent details are what provide the depth necessary to build up an idea and turn it into a rich, seamless experience.
We take work personally.
Regardless of what people say it’s rarely “just business”, especially when your business is creation. We are passionate about ideas, and the emotional investment we have in our work drives us to improve and learn constantly.
We are committed to sustainability.
Designers are on the front lines of the green revolution, perhaps because we have designed, built, and packaged so many wasteful things. Through communities like the Designers Accord, we are using our unique position to make a positive impact on the world.

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An Urgent Resolution for the New Year

Jeff Siegel | Thursday January 1st, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Tomorrow morning, the gym will be quite crowded with new members hoping to start the year off right. It is one of the most common new year’s resolutions of all time, and also one that sounds good in theory…but in practice, rarely lives up to expectations.
Sure, it’s easy to make goals, but it’s not always easy to reach them. And these days, given our expectations of instant gratification, sticking to a program in an effort to achieve long-term success is an idea that has become harder and harder to comprehend…or even accept. But this is a very dangerous mindset. It leads to the assumption that anything in life worth having, must require no patience, no work, and no long-term planning. It is also this mindset that has allowed our dependence on fossil fuels to cripple us.

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I Am an Artist. I Am Getting an MBA. I Am Not a Sellout.

CCA LiveE | Wednesday December 31st, 2008 | 5 Comments

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by Erica Meade
Many studio art majors at my undergrad institution had negative feelings about the business world. The common thought was that the corporate machine was stocked with money-hungry egomaniacs, representing everything wrong in this world and the inverse of the motivations and goals of an artist. That’s somewhat of an exaggeration, but nonetheless, “commercial” and “corporate” were bad words in the art studio.
In one of my harshest critiques, I was told that some of my work was too commercial and that I should get ready “to go to Madison Avenue” or “design greeting cards.” I was upset, but more than that, I was confused. My goals as an artist were – and are – to express my ideas to a wide audience, make people think about what they see, and perhaps even influence change. So what’s wrong with art that is applicable and accessible to a broad audience? Why does commercial appeal equal the death of true art? And how are those two things mutually exclusive?
Towards the end of my college career, I wondered what my life would be like if I were a traditional professional artist. I imagined that I’d be struggling to get gallery representation, living in a tiny studio apartment in Brooklyn, yearning for my big break as I waited tables or worked retail. The starving artist persona seemed like an ineffective way to get my ideas out in the world and make a difference. So I looked into other outlets for creative expression and found design.

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Leaders and Clown Hats

CCA LiveE | Wednesday December 31st, 2008 | 1 Comment

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jester.jpgby Henry Liu
Every morning prior to work, we’re faced with a flurry of decisions pertaining our office wardrobe. What shirt am I going to wear? Do these pants go with those shoes? Are these socks even matching? Face it, these fashion decisions reflect who we are in the office, they’re what make us unique. Appearing proper to our superiors and peers may provide us a sense of security, but there are times where stepping forward to offer the contrary opinion delivers something more valuable than adhering to the norm.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably sat in countless meetings listening to your boss make statement after statement while you offer continuous affirmation to every request and whim. As you glance around the room, you may even notice your peers doing the exact same thing. What the meeting really needs is the presence of a corporate jester to challenge the leader’s unilaterally accepted dispositions.

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6 Factors Shaping the Renewable Energy Industry in 2008

Sarah Lozanova | Wednesday December 31st, 2008 | 8 Comments

solar%20shingles.jpgMany industries experienced turbulence this year and renewable energy was no exception. 2008 was really a mixed bag for the industry, with lots of good and bad news.
1. High Energy Prices
Natural gas and oil reached record highs in July, 2008. This impacts the price of energy overall and make renewable energy more favorable. The return on investment for a solar power plant for example is shorter when considering the cost of the electricity generated from natural gas.
2. Toppling Energy Prices
After peaking in July, the price of oil and natural gas have since plummeted. This has made it harder to finance renewable energy projects.
3. The Credit Crunch
It is not just hard to secure a mortgage. Homeowners wishing to pay for a solar system using a home equity loan may have been denied. Even billionaire, T. Boone Pickens hasn’t been able to finance his enormous wind farm in Texas.

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Obama’s Economic 3 Step Makeover to Boost Nonprofits

| Wednesday December 31st, 2008 | 3 Comments

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The proposed Obama extreme makeover of our government and economy includes good news for nonprofit social entrepreneurs. Recognizing that these social entrepreneurs are often the drivers of innovation in education, economic development, healthcare and the environment, Obama plans to expand their effectiveness and reach by:
* Providing R&D tax breaks to nonprofits similar to those available to the private sector;
* Establishing a Social Investment Fund; and
* Creating an agency dedicated to building the capacity and effectiveness of the social enterprise and nonprofit sector.
Obama’s plans for high-impact nonprofits are part of his larger agenda to expand Americans’ engagement in national service.

Our problems are not too big, but our solutions are currently too small.

He delivered this noteworthy quote during the campaign along with a promise to support an agenda that identifies and scales the best solutions to some of our most pressing problems.

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The Path to Lower Oil Demand and Gas Prices: A Green Vehicle Revolution Is a Much Better Route Than a Global Financial Crisis

| Wednesday December 31st, 2008 | 4 Comments

electric-engine1229.jpgWould a dramatic reduction in demand for oil caused by a green vehicle revolution cause the same type of reduction in oil prices that the global financial crisis has?
Overall, I don’t see why not.
In fact, I’m guessing that the eye-opening impact of the financial crisis on oil demand and prices is exactly what major oil producers are afraid of should the world experience a green vehicle revolution.
Think about all the benefits that our society would receive from an oil demand-destroying green vehicle revolution that lowers gas prices via efficient, clean technologies rather than via a global financial crisis:
* Broad economic stimulus beyond the oil sector: the combination of highly efficient clean vehicles and low gas prices will free up untold fortunes of peoples’ gasoline money to be spent on all things non-energy, providing a green injection of economic stimulus far and wide. Previously, I noted that:

Switching from a car that gets 20 mpg to one that gets 50 mpg will save the average American nearly $1,100/year in gas costs at $3/gallon (given the average distance Americans drive per year – about 12,000 miles; savings rise considerably as gas prices and miles driven go up). That savings is nearly two times the cash provided to us by our 2008 stimulus checks! Multiply that by the 112 million households in the U.S. alone, and that’s $123.2 billion/year that American households are now spending on gas that with a mandate for more efficient vehicles, they would have to spend on…everything else.

Even at currently lower gas prices, a Clean Vehicle Revolution promises to be a significant stimulative force in our economy.

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Small Businesses Running On Solar WiFi

| Wednesday December 31st, 2008 | 0 Comments

meraki.gifIt sounds iffy; running your company’s network on a WiFi connection that is entirely powered by solar energy. But a Mountainview, CA firm says it provides a 100% uptime solution. And it reports a mad dash for its products by companies in the range of 50 to 200 employees.
Mesh WiFi firm Meraki started shipping its Meraki Solar December 4th, after a year long delay because it needed to improve its battery technology.
The delay lands both the firm and customers in a slightly awkward situation. The worldwide run on solar power equipment seemed overly justified when oil prices spiked. Now that the price of oil is in the 40 dollar bracket, what should solar be priced at? Meraki has found a creative way around this stumbling block. Customers can bring their own panels! They’re selling solar Wifi solutions for apartment blocks or businesses and small communities at $749 a piece for a bring-your-own-panel model up to $1,499 for areas with shorter days or less light which require a battery.
Company cofounder Sanjit Biswas told ArsTechnica that Meraki decided to change from sealed lead-acid to lithium iron-phosphate for greater capacity.
Biswas said this dropped the battery’s weight, which in turn reduces shipping costs for the many remote areas that the Solar unit is being deployed.

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How Companies Can Kick the Petroleum Based Water Bottle Habit

| Wednesday December 31st, 2008 | 2 Comments

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When I first read about Goody G1, an additive to non eco plastics to make them both compostable and biodegradable, my first thought was, why enable petroleum based plastic manufacturers an out to continue manufacturing as they are, rather then looking into a thoroughly green option?
But then seen from another perspective, it’s like asking a smoker to stop cold turkey. Possible. but unlikely. And in the case of plastic packaging manufacturers, it would likely require a retooling of equipment to accommodate such a change. Again, possible, but in these tighter times, not likely.
Enter Goody Products. They offer three options, depending on where you are as a company, to help companies kick the petro habit.

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On Water Bottles and Identity

CCA LiveE | Tuesday December 30th, 2008 | 0 Comments

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kor-bottle.jpgMattia Nuzzo
So I just got this water bottle. Pretty cool, right? It definitely took me a couple weeks (maybe months?) to find it among the Siggs and Klean Kanteens out there. While it does meet most of my requirements – portability, aesthetics, drinkability – I began to wonder what the image of myself armed with such an overdesigned water holder might present to people.
I initiated my search for the coolest water bottle I could find by doing just that: typing “coolest water bottle” into Google. I came across articles about the need to ensure that the container was BPA-free, and how the Siggs actually don’t call out the composition of the interior lining of their bottles. After a bit more research I threw caution to the wind and ordered a shiny new Sigg from Amazon. Unfortunately after receiving it I couldn’t help but be a bit disappointed. It just seemed too “meh”; too pragmatic. Back it went, and after returning to my “cool” search results I happened upon the Kor One.
The website hosted by Kor has all the trappings of a brand that’s trying too hard – a blog, a flickr page, videos, etc. All this for a water bottle. I can’t help but question if the identity they seem to be so carefully crafting actually gets in the way of the piece’s primary role as a utilitarian object. The bottle’s cap contains a slot for customers to insert images or tags provided by the company, with cheesy slogans like “Better Me, Better World” (what does that even mean?). Still, it was the best overall design I’d seen so far, so I went ahead and plugged in my CC info and patiently waited the 5-7 business days.

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ClimatePULSE: The Top 3 Climate Change Headlines to Watch for in 2009

| Tuesday December 30th, 2008 | 0 Comments

calendar.jpgAs 2008 comes to a close and we take a look at the year in review, we reflect on the year that has passed and begin to think about the future. There have been many climate change-related headlines over the past year, from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative holding its first two auctions, to global representatives meeting in Poland to discuss climate change, to global warming as a major issue in the most publicized U.S. election in history, and more. As this exciting year in climate change comes to a conclusion, we look forward to the major (and minor) events that will take place in 2009. This week, ClimatePULSE will take a look at the top 3 climate change headlines to watch for in the upcoming year.

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U.S. Edges Germany as World’s Largest Wind Power Producer

| Tuesday December 30th, 2008 | 0 Comments

In their year-end report, the American Wind Energy Association shows another banner year for wind power in the U.S. For the third year in a row, wind energy development has grown at a record pace, generating over $18 billion in revenue.

Even though Germany has more turbines and greater capacity (22,300 megawatts), the U.S. has stronger winds (perhaps in more ways than one) and overtook Germany this summer as the world leader in actual megawatts of electricity produced from wind generation when the U.S. “blew past” 20,000 MW of installed generating capacity. By the end of the third quarter, the U.S. had more than 21,000 megawatts of electricity in place. Fourth quarter statistics show Germany’s wind development slowing and the U.S. sprinting to the finish line, no doubt spurred on by the better-late-than-never extension of the renewable energy tax credit.

This is the kind of “arms race” that will do the world good.

“With additional projects coming on line every week since (September), the wind industry is on its way to charting another record-shattering year of growth,” AWEA said in its report.

A press release from the AWEA last May reported that wind energy is well on the path of supplying 20% of electrical generation in the U.S. by 2030, supporting over a half million jobs. Subsequent wind development since then bears that out.

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