Thinking Out of the Box: Making a Business Out of Art

festival_del_soleTwo concepts of “slow” have been around quite a while now: slow food (in Italy and France) and slow fashion. Barrett Wissman, of Los Angeles, California, is now bringing us a third: slow entertainment. Wissman believes that with this, a “broader cultural understanding between people [will develop which will] contribute to the appreciation of what makes us human beings again.”

A columnist for Forbes, businessman and art appreciator, Wissman has over the years, made art into a business while providing greater access for all. Through his backing of IMG artists and creation of the Abu Dhabi Festival, Festival Del Sole, the Placido Dominigo Festival and Tribeca Firenze, Wissman has begun providing a truly rich, cultural experience for the increasing number of participants his festivals attract.

And it is a business as well. Wissman has had to very carefully find just the right artists from a whole array of different disciplines who will make the most of their talents during these festivals. But it’s not just as simple as that. He takes it a step further. Wissman gets these artists to step out of their comfort zone and show their talents in those disciplines in which they are not usually performing. One classic example of how he did this was when Robert Redford recited poetry accompanied by an orchestra; a clear example of thinking outside of the box.

As is common when thinking outside of the box, likewise with what Wissman has found – something quite magical occurs. As Wissman himself explains: “these events create electricity; they exist in an instant that will never happen again.”

McDonald’s Planning to Shine Up their Tarnishing Golden Arches

As business at McDonald’s plummets the globally ubiquitous fast food chain is looking for ways to halt the downward spiral and retrieve a bit of their former glory. Sales are in the doghouse, and increased competition from fast-casual restaurants is making it even harder for McDonald’s to get back on track. In addition, McDonald’s is dealing with worker unrest and trouble from the franchises. McDonald’s announced this week a 3.3 percent decline in sales last quarter.

CEO Don Thompson is ready with a plan of action to turn his brand around.

•    Create menus more in tune with the local consumer
•    Lose some menu items: this reduces waiting times and improves the worker environment
•    Allow customers to personalize their food
•    Get there reputation as unhealthy and bad for the environment rehabilitated

McDonald's will need to make some changes to preserve their market share
McDonald’s will need to make some changes to preserve their market share

“Conveying the facts and adjusting misperceptions about the freshness, quality and integrity of our ingredients appeals to our customers and supports the work we’re doing to offer greater menu choice,” Thompson said.

Upcoming New York Business Conferences

riding-the-waveNew York is constantly filled with interesting conferences and programs. Of particularly interest next month are two conferences, one related to the shipping industry, and the other for those in the investment industry.

Sophocles Zoullas of Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc. will be giving a presentation at the Marine Money Conference on November 12. The conference – established to “bridge the shipping and capital markets” – is in its 15th consecutive year. Speakers during the course of the conference include Mark Williams, Director, Business Development & Consultancy, Braemar ACM Shipbroking; Omar M. Nokta, Managing Director, Shipping Research, Clarkson Capital Markets; Jay Goodgal, Managing Member, Castalia Advisors LLC and many others. Sophocles N. Zoullas will be addressing participants on Wednesday November 12 at 11:35, at New York City’s Plaza Hotel. His subject matter is: “Looking Ahead: Key Themes for the Dry Bulk Market.”

The second conference for business people and investment executives will take place the day before, on Tuesday November 11 at New York’s Palace Hotel. Among the companies addressing participants of the Stephens Fall Investment Conference will be Helix Energy Solutions Group Inc. The company is a global energy offshore firm providing services to the offshore energy industry, specializing in robotics operations and intervention. In previous years when Helix addressed the conference, it was Owen Kratz, the President and CEO, who gave the presentation on their company, its future plans, deep water contracting and more.

Model Luo Zilin and China’s Tribute Awards

pointsoflightWith a degree in Tourism Management from Ouhua College, Luo Zilin began her professional modeling career in 2003. She has worked for well-known brands such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, UPS, and Qingdao Beer. As well as being the 2011 winner of Miss Universe China, Zilin has over the years, tried to use her talents to “build the bridge between China and the rest of the world, giving people who are interested the opportunity to get to know the real China.”

Luo Zilin is not the only one who has been using her modeling career to help China’s reputation as a entity. Yue-Sai Kan, the Chinese American Emmy award-winning TV host and producer, entrepreneur, author, and fashion icon (often referred to as the “Oprah of China”) has also been assisting with this goal. Indeed, according to Luo Zilin, it was Kan who “let more people know about beauty and pageants, and encouraged women to use their beauty as a source of power.”

On Wednesday October 22, Tribute Awards for Points of Light is to be held at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, in Washington DC. One of the honorary co-chairs is Yue-Sai Kan. At the event various individuals will be receiving tribute awards for their philanthropic work. Among the award recipients are: Hewlett Packard (for its employee volunteer program that seeks to find solutions to various social problems), Charles Orgbon III (for his Greening Forward initiative), and World Central Kitchen (humanitarian organization that feeds the hungry).

Yue-Sai Kan has over the years, hosted key diplomatic officials from both America and China, as well as entrepreneurs including Richard Gelfond, President of IMAX. With her business flare and philanthropic commitment, it is individuals like her and Luo Zilin who can make strides in helping China’s global reputation.

Points of Light is the largest organization in the world that is dedicated to volunteer service.

Sell-Off Sends Canadian Dollar Into Slump

Canadian Dollar is called the loonie out of respect for the bird on the reverse side
Canadian Dollar is called the loonie out of respect for the bird on the reverse side

The Canadian dollar, also known as the loonie, sunk to its lowest exchange rate in five years, bottoming out at 87.88 cents to every US dollar. That was the smallest rate for the loonie since July 2009. By the end of the day on October 15 the loonie popped back a bit to 88.58 cents.

The Canadian dollar’s downfall is attributed to a market sell-off that is taking prices down for anything connected in any way with crude oil. Canada’s dollar was doing just fine until about a month ago when the price of oil began to head south. It was not long ago, only July, when the North American oil benchmark known as West Texas Intermediate, or WTI, was selling for $105 per barrel. Today the price has fallen down to $81/barrel, a shrinkage of 22 percent in just one quarter.

In recent times, at least as far as currencies go, “oil” and “Canada” are basically synonymous terms, and it’s the Canadian dollar which is bearing the brunt of the downturn.

“The weakness in oil prices is spilling over in a nasty fashion in Canada,” said Mark Chandler of RBC Dominion Securities.  “The more oil prices fall, the more [the loonie will drop],” Jeremy Stretch at CIBC added.