Identify Today's Trends to Make Better Future Decisions

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Internet Shopping Is On The Rise – Entrepreneurs Take Note

Statistics Canada says in a report that Canadians are shopping more online these days than ever before. Let’s look at some important highlights of the report:

- Canadians ordered $15.1 billion worth goods and services in 2009 (was 12.8 billion in 2007)

-39 per cent of Canadians (aged 16 and over) placed 95 million orders (was 32 per cent and 70 million orders in 2007)

- Average value per order stands at $158 (was $183 in 2007)

- Most common types of orders are: travel services and entertainment products such as books, clothing, magazines, accessories etc.

- 52 per cent Canadians went to research their products before buying at stores (43 per cent in 2007)

Now, here is what these highlights translate into in a broader sense:

- Although these stats represent Canada, the world’s one if the top developed countries – situations are no different in other developed countries and developing countries will soon follow.

- More and more people will be accessing the Internet.

- Online retailers will be seeing increased demand for their products and services

- Advertisement opportunities (for blogs and websites) will increase representing online retailers and stores.

- As people are spending more time on the Internet, researching before buying at physical stores and shopping online, content base websites or blogs will see a huge spike in traffic.

So, if you are an Internet entrepreneur, you should pay attention to these trends – people’s changing habits. The Internet will always provide money making opportunities for those who are able to identify, analyze, and utilize today’s trends to make better strategic decisions in the future.

First Published on: Sep 27, 2010 EntrepreneurJourney.com

Freakonomics – A. Dawn Journal Book Review

Freakonomics – A. Dawn Journal Book Review

First Published:  Aug 12, 2008 ADawnJournal.com

Recently, I wrote an article about Freakonomics and mentioned that I would write a short review on Freakonomics. Today, I am going to jot down my thoughts briefly on this book. As you may have noticed, my book reviews consist of both recently published and not-so-recently published books, and I keep my reviews simple so my readers can make the most out of it.

Freakonomics is a collection of empirical data to show that things are not the way they appear on the surface. The authors question many of the general views that we have on lots of things we come across in everyday life and present them differently by analyzing data and drawing distinct conclusions from it. The authors' goal is to piece together human behaviors and look inside the hidden parts of everything. Here are some of the interesting views presented in Freakonomics:

- What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?

They both cheat in their own way and the authors use economic data and analysis to catch them.

- How is the Ku Klux Klan like a group of real estate agents?

This is all about abusing information. If you control information, you control everything. The authors try to connect the KKK and real estate agents by showing how individuals or groups can commit sins of information by hiding real information or promoting false information.

- Why do drug dealers still live with their mom?

Not all drug dealers are created equally; some of them can't even earn enough to live on their own. The authors present statistics to back this up.

Freakonomics is full of intriguing facts and information; however, I do find it boring at times. If you read the beginning and the end of each chapter, you will find it riveting; in the middle, it feels far too overloaded with statistical facts and economic data. I am unable to rate this book as "A Must Read." I give it a "Worth Reading."

NB: My ratings are very straightforward and simple. I go by only three different ratings: A Must Read, Worth Reading, and Do Not Read. I hope these are self explanatory

Street Food: Tea Stall in Bangladesh

Tea Stall in Dhaka

Wherever you go in Bandladesh (BD) you will find roadside tea stalls or Cha Ghor to offer tea and other light snacks such as biscuits, processed sweetbuns, bananas, gum, cigarettes, etc. The person running the tea stall is commonly called Mama Uncle or Khala Aunt.

Tea stalls are not just tea stalls in BD. It’s a part of culture, social ritual, and much more. Locals hang out and socialize here, deals are sealed, and friendships get started. Total strangers may offer you a cup of tea. In Bangladesh, foreigners are accepted with a welcoming attitude and warm hospitality.

Tea is served in small glass mugs, either with condensed milk or cow milk that has been boiled for long to concentrate, and always with lots of sugar.  Multiple aluminum kettles are used to boil tea and milk at various stages over propane flames.

The taste comes from boiling strong black tea. Also thick milk and lots of sugars, sometimes with ginger and some spices contribute to the uniqueness of the taste. 

The tea stall I tried was a very basic one in Uttara, Dhaka and had very limited snacks. There were benches to sit and enjoy a cup of street tea, but many people often enjoy tea just standing.

The tea stall video is one of the many travel videos I made in my Bangladesh visit. Click on the link provided below or on top to watch. I have not finished posting all my travel videos from my Asia trip yet. I am expecting to finish posting these in the next 4-5 months as I have lots of videos and you can track my trip day-by-day.

Visit Street Food: Tea Stall in Dhaka, Bangladesh

A Moment for “The Dark Knight”: EPIC film that goes beyond comics

I would like to introduce my first guest author - Shayan Mannan. 
The following article is written by Shayan - who is an ADJ reader and also my nephew. At 21, he is a musician, an entrepreneur, a soon to be professional blogger, and a Law & Society student at York University. He just released his first album, the "No Cure" EP which is available on iTunes. Check out his music at his MySpace Page I'm personally into new age music, and after listening to his album (which is electronica) my first comment was "This sounds just like a professional musician. I couldn't have guessed that this wasn't made by well-known artists such as Vangelis or Enigma."

A Moment For "The Dark Knight": EPIC Film That Goes Beyond Comics

The lines were packed to the back of the theater, and Batman shirts and joker-painted faces were out full-fledged. What an AMAZING, EPIC movie.

"So where do I begin...now a year ago these cops and lawyers...”

The Dark Knight delivers on all fronts, but let’s get something straight - this isn't your typical summer blockbuster - sure, there's action, but this movie is really a character piece and it explores themes of order and anarchy. It raises questions about morals, society's duplicity, when to cross the line, what is good/evil and looks at philosophical musings.

This is the best Batman film EVER. That title easily belonged to Batman Begins, and how the hell Christopher Nolan was able to continue and make even a better one is a mystery all by itself. This movie is 10 times better; it makes Begins look like, as a friend said to me, "Some bonus feature on a DVD that would be there 'just for flavour.'" Remember, sequels almost always SUCK, so what was done here is nothing to be overlooked.

Christopher Nolan:

This film is dark to the core. Thank you Christopher Nolan. Not only has he revived Batman, he's taken it to levels I don't think any filmmaker who tackles future Batman movies can reach. It makes all the other comic-book movies look like child’s play. Nolan balanced out the screen time decadently and gave both the villains their due diligence (unlike Spidey 3, let's try to forget that one). One of the things that really make it special is the REALISM that Nolan's injected into a fictional character and his world that's made everything believable. I think Nolan and Ledger both deserve Oscars. It's really too bad films like these don't get considered for nominations because "comic-book" movies are looked at as derogatory and something you can't take seriously - which is true for most films, but not this.

I don't know how you go out and make a better Batman film. Seriously. And just like Begins, this was packed with great quotes that you'll remember.

Christian Bale:

Once again perfect, portraying Bruce Wayne/Batman's struggle as a warrior whose city crumbles to the ground after being so close to restoring order thanks to the arrival of the Joker. I agree with my friend that Bale's best times were when he's picking away at his gadgets in the basement or contemplating alone about his horrifying and depressing situation. I'm glad they included a bit more of the playboy Bruce Wayne scenes, and they were hilarious; showing up late on purpose to the party with not one or two but THREE women in his arms, making fun of Dent, and just being an arrogant jackass. I also loved that scene where he sacrificed his Lamborghini to save that dude and then was pretending he has no idea what's going on.

Heath Ledger:

You've heard about how sensational he was, and you really have to SEE it to grasp just how scarily good he was as the Joker. The smallest details, like how he puts down the champagne glass softly instead of throwing it, the slight slouch he walks with instead of standing straight, how he licks his face, his movements in general and his facial expressions add to his creepiness factor. His voice is haunting, and anytime you see him on camera it feels uneasy. The best part is though, is that he's believable because he's human: because if you didn't believe he was human he wouldn't be nearly as scary. Ledger really disappeared into this role, you can't even recognize him. And one of the people in the group I went to see it with really didn't; she had no idea it was Heath Ledger. It's tragic the man passed away, and we'll never see him reprise his role again. Oh yeah, Heath Ledger's Joker slaughters every other Joker before him, including Jack Nicholson's...he makes Jack Nicholson look like...well...a clown.

The joker as a villain - what makes him unique is that he does all the crimes, just for the FUN OF IT: "I don't have a plan. I'm just a...dog chasing a car. I-I wouldn't know what I'd do if I ever caught it!" He doesn't give a damn about money, women, sex or drugs. He just wants chaos, and that's what makes him so scary, because he fits into the type of guys that Alfred explains: "…Aren’t looking for anything logical. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn." This joker is sadistic, psychotic and just simply psychologically disturbing. And he's so smart and can read people well; he understands how people think which is quite ironic since he's a crazy sociopath.

Maggie Gyllenhaal:

I originally didn't know what to think, but was just happy that they replaced Katie Holmes (she was so awful). Alas, Gyllenhaal was SOLID and has the personality that was originally needed which Katie Holmes could just not fill.

Morgan Freeman:

never gets old. Plays the same guy in every movie? Yes. Does he ever get boring though? Love the playful conversations he has with Bale.

Michael Caine:

plays that father-figure perfectly and provides that dead-pan humor needed amid a serious scene with Bale. He's got some of the best lines when he gives his advice.

Gary Oldman:

I'll let my friend sum this up - "The man's a chameleon. He really just brings the a-game to every role he does, and it really is hard to believe he played Sid Vicious, Count Dracula, and a drug dealer all with the same dedication." Also, remember Hannibal? You know the rich old guy in a wheelchair who had the deformed face because Hannibal peeled it off and therefore he wants to exact revenge on Hannibal? That's Gary Oldman.

Aaron Eckhart:

another brilliant casting. Let's face it, when we originally heard that Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhart were chosen to play Joker and Two Face, we didn't know what to think. That scene when he's on the hospital bed and commands Gordon to say the nickname that they used to call him started the whole transformation into Two-Face nicely. "SAY ITT!!!!" And his face was nasty, scary, and REAL as hell. Easily throws Tommy Lee Jones off the bench (but that’s not really his fault, Batman Forever was just an atrocious movie in all angles).

Random thoughts:

If I had to pick one SPECIFIC action scene as my favourite, it was when the Batpod goes by Joker's trailer truck and....FLIPS OVER that thing like it's nobody's business, and then the Batpod turns back around off the wall in a slick Transformers way. And I never would've guessed that the Batpod is literally a part of the Batmobile; when it shot out and ejected, that was ABSURD!

That blue flame in the beginning - MESMERIZING.

It was nice to see Cillian Murphy/Scarecrow in the beginning, and although it wouldn't be necessary at all, I would've enjoyed seeing Carmine Falcone as well just because I liked Tom Wilkinson so much in the first one.

The scene showing Batman's bruises on his back was awesome and important - because it reminds you he's only human, not one of those typical heroes who fight a 100 men and don't even get a scratch.

Batman Begins' main colour for all the posters, promo, etc. was beige/light-brownish/yellowish, Dark Knight's was blue.

Thank GOODNESS Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard was back to do the score - neither of these movies would be the same without them. The music was masterful and I'm going to buy the album like I buy a lot of Hans Zimmer albums.

The ending again was left open, and it was dark. My friend summed it up perfectly:
"even as the credits are about to roll, you really have to sit back for a minute and think "wait a minute, the good guys didn't win at all". And they didn't. The only one that really comes out ahead here is Joker, accomplishing his mission to show the city just how low it can really go."

For a two and half hour movie, it wasn't long enough - you heard right. It goes by so fast and you're left wanting more. The length is justified with all the complexities involved and giving all the characters a deserving screen time. There isn't a single bad moment; it's hard to criticize anything.

Make sure you see this in IMAX - this movie was specifically MADE for IMAX - they shot several important, long scenes in IMAX and it's something to experience, like those shots of Batman gliding through the sky (and of course the incredible action scenes itself).

Movie of the year. I'm not just saying that because I'm a Batman fanatic; you can't tell me there's been a better film so far, nothing comes close. Granted there's still half a year left, so we'll just have to wait to see. This wasn't just the best Batman movie, it's one of the best movies ever made period.

Don't forget Jonathan Nolan, Chris Nolan's brother who actually wrote the story with him. This is obviously a key reason why this movie rocked.

Sequel:

I want to see The Riddler. I think he'd be sly and DANGEROUS, especially the way Nolan does films. Just think of all the puzzles and mazes he could put Batman through.

I'm going to go see The Dark Knight again. And again.

- Shayan Mannan

First Published: ADawnJournal.com Published on: Jul 29, 2008

How Big Companies Started For Nothing

Mega Companies Started For Nothing

There is a misconception that to have a huge mega-national company, you need to have a lot of money to start it up. However, the truth is that there is plenty well known companies that have started in a garage with next to nothing in funds. By looking at these companies, you can see that your dream of being a successful business owner can happen, even if you are just starting in a garage.

  1. Whole Food Market: Started by a college dropout in 1978 and his 21-year-old girlfriend, the couple borrowed money from friends and family and opened up a store, which within one year resulted in them being evicted from their home because they used it as storage for storage. With no home and very little money, they moved and lived in the store. The couple lived in the store, bathed there using a water hose and tried to make ends meet. Within two years they merged with another store in Austin, Texas and increased the number of employees. In four years, the company expanded to other cities and today, is ranked 369 on the Fortune 500 with $3.2 billion in revenues.
  2. Apple: Started in a garage by Steve Wozniack and Steve Jobs, these two men created a personal computer, which Wozniack designed and Jobs helped to sell. They were broke and had to order parts for their first purchase order on credit. The company now ranks 103 on the Fortune 500 and is one of the leading companies on the planet.
  3. Dell: At one time, it was the largest seller of personal computers and servers on the planet. Currently ranked 34 on the Fortune 500, with $61 billion in revenue in 2008, the company was started in 1984 by Michael Dell in his dorm room with nothing more than a $1,000 investment. In 1985, the company produces its first computer and by 1988 had its first public offering worth $88 million.
  4. Mattel: A married couple by the name of Ruth and Elliot Handler decided to start a company just after World War II in the garage of their California home. Initially a company to make picture frames, soon after opening they began to make dollhouses with scraps left over from the picture frames. Thanks to starting to make toys, and picture frames, just as the Baby Boomer were growing up, they were able to benefit immensely from this new and large market. By 1955, their company, Mattel, was sponsoring The Mickey Mouse Club and soon after that they created Barbie. Currently, they have a revenue of $6 billion and rank #413 on the Fortune 500.
  5. Starbucks: In 1971, three academics used $1,350 they had to open a Starbucks location in downtown Seattle. After the opened, things were tough so they had to borrow $5,000 from a bank just to keep going. Initially just roasting coffee beans, the company began to sell coffee exclusively in the 1980s. In 1992, the company went public and had a rapid expansion in the 1990s, opening one store per day. The company currently ranks #277 on the Fortune 500 with revenues of $9.4 billion.

First Published: Sep 19, 2010 EntrepreneurJourney.com

My 2017 Asia Business Class Trip

India – Bangladesh Trip

After travelling Asia for almost 3 weeks, I am finally home for Christmas and New Year. This trip was different from any other trips I have done in the past. In the past, I would travel to do leisure activities and sightseeing, but it’s no longer the reason I travel.

For the last couple of years, I have been vigorously active on my YouTube channel and travel videos are a big chunk of my content. This is the first time I have travelled to create more video content and with all my camera gear. I talk about credit cards and rewards points on my channel as well. Also, this trip was a full business-class trip that was funded by various rewards points and airline miles.

The strategies and tips I provide on my YouTube channel work and my trip was a testimony to that. As I will be posting various travel videos, including business class flight reviews, you will have insights on exotic tropical countries like India and Bangladesh and various business class flights and lounges.

Because I am publishing videos on YouTube, I will not be publishing detailed travel articles on Ahmed Dawn Dot Com.

You can visualize the full trip, day by day, on my YouTube and Instagram. Click on the link provided. As we are moving into another year, there will be more articles and video content on various topics providing value and insights. I hope 2018 brings everyone new perspectives and lots of success.

How to ride out market volatility

How to ride out market volatility

First Published: ADawnJournal.com Aug 7, 2008

Unless you are living under a rock these days, you're concerned about the recent market turmoil. Investors all over the world have been losing chunks of their portfolios every day. I remember that I stopped looking at my portfolio at some point and since then I have been checking it very infrequently. Poll after poll shows that the majority of investors are pessimistic about the future and they are making changes in their portfolios based on emotion and fear, not based on a calculated decision.

The most common action they are taking? Switching out of equities and parking money into money market products. Equities are at their lowest at this time and switching out of equities may cost you a lot more than you can possibly handle. It is never recommended to get rid of equities when they are at a heavy loss. Now, naturally, you are going to ask, "If we're not to get rid of equities, what could we do to ride out market volatility?" My number one suggestion would be: do nothing. Yes, indeed – do nothing. Just sit back, relax, fasten your seatbelt, and ride out the market volatility.

If you are not convinced yet, consider the following points:

  • Diversification is the key to achieving stable returns throughout the good and bad times. A well-diversified portfolio should not fluctuate to the same degree as stock markets.
  • Volatility is a normal part of investing. There will always be ups and downs in the market. Do not let market volatility divert your focus away from your goal. Stay invested, keep adding more money, and you will be fine in the long run.
  • Investment is a discipline. Do not make decisions based on emotions. Research has shown that the stock market has averaged an annual 11% rate of return over the last 120 years. Stay invested for the long run – through good and bad times.

I would like to end today's article with a quote by legendary investor John Templeton. John Templeton recently died at the age of 95. He was famous for this quote: "Buy at the point of maximum pessimism." Templeton's quote makes perfect sense—whenever there were declines in the market, the market eventually recovered with greater gains. Investors who acted emotionally lost the most. That's why my advice is: Do Nothing. The market will recover and you will be in good shape again. Just be patient and ride out the volatility.

BMO World Elite MasterCard Devalues Its Rewards Points

BMO World Elite MasterCard

I just received a piece of mail from BMO mentioning some changes that will be made to the BMO World Elite travel credit card. This type of notice translates into negative news 99 percent of the time, so I was expecting bad news.

On the surface, to make it look like a good news, BMO says you will earn 50 percent more points. This card used to give 2 points for each dollar spent on all purchases. That was a flat 2 percent return on everything, as each point was worth 1 cent. However, starting January 15, 2018, each point will be worth 0.714 cents. That’s a drastic devaluation. This only applies to the “everything else” category, as BMO is giving 3 points on 3 specific categories: travel, dining, and entertainment. The rate of return on these categories will be 2.14 percent, which is slightly better than what they had before on all categories.

Once these changes kick in, it would not make sense to use this card to purchase items in the “everything else” category. For the 3 accelerated categories it will provide a good rate of return even better than the 2 percent offered before.

These changes do not affect me personally because I do not use this card to make any purchases. My sole purpose to keep this card is to have lounge access. BMO World Elite provides Priority Pass annual membership ($99 US) and 4 passes ($27 US x 4) every year, which I value at a total Canadian $265. So even after paying the $150 annual fee per year, I am on the plus side for $115 Cad.

Whichever credit card you use, do the math to see if it make sense for you to keep it. I have a video on the above explaining further which can be viewed here:

| BMO World Elite MasterCard Devaluation | Analysis & Insights |

How To Write A Mission Statement

Writing A Mission Statement

When you are starting a business, one of the most important things you can do is to write a mission statement. A mission statement is very important when you are writing a business plan, and a business plan is essential when you want to have a successful business with investors. A mission statement explains what your business is all about to customers, those in the community, employees and suppliers. The mission statement should cover all aspects of your business, the products you offer, the service, position and growth potential of your business as well. It clarifies the business you are in, the objectives you have and the goals of your business.

To write a good business plan, you should at least ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do I want for my family, my customers and myself with this business?
  2. Why am I in business?
  3. Who are my customers going to be and how is my product/service going to enrich the lives of my customers and lead to their own success?
  4. What kinds of products and services will I be giving to my customers and what is the nature of the product/service?
  5. What levels of service will I provide to my customers and do most companies offer these types of services or products?
  6. What roles within the company will I play and my employees play?
  7. What separates my company from the other companies that provide the services and products?
  8. How will I use strategy and technology to reach the goals that I have set for myself in the company?
  9. What are the values that guide the company?

Now, you are going to have to write up your mission statement by answering these questions. If you have others in the company with you, talk with them and get their ideas for the mission statement. It is important that when you are picking people to help you with the mission statement, you pick those who will be positive and supportive to your goals. You do not want any naysayers bringing you down.

It is going to take you a few hours to do a mission statement because it is not something you do quickly. Make sure you set aside the time for the mission statement to ensure that it is done right. It is important that you prepare yourself for the task of putting together the mission statement. Brainstorm and make sure you have all the information you need in front of you so you can get right down to the business of writing the business statement.

One of the most important things you can do is to constantly revise your mission statement until it is right. You want your mission statement to fit exactly what you think your company means and you do that by reworking the mission statement until it is right.

Once you have completed your mission statement, put it on your company web site, on business plans, company cards, brochures and more.
First Published: Sep 12, 2010 entrepreneurjourney.com

 

How Google Determines the Order of Search Results

ADJ Scores Higher PageRank

First Published: ADawnJournal.com Jul 31, 2008

Recently, Google just updated their PageRank, and A. Dawn Journal (ADJ) scored a higher PageRank. Previously, ADJ PageRank was 1, and now ADJ gets a PageRank of 3. You may ask, “What is PageRank and why it is important?” Today, I am going to discuss what PageRank is, why it is important, and how Google (or other search engines) decides the order of search results.

How Google Determines the Order of Search Results

When you input keywords into Google’s “Search” box to perform a search, there are many factors that decide the order of search results. Google uses a mathematical formula called an Algorithm to display search results in order. This formula has roughly two hundred components and each component is looking for a specific part of a website to determine the total score of each website’s search results. Based on these scores, websites will be placed high or low in search results. For websites, it is very important to appear on the first few pages of search results – most people are not going to sift through some 20 million or so search results.

What Components Google Looks For

Here is just a few of the 200 components Google looks for:

  • PageRank
  • Placement of keywords
  • Use of keywords
  • Themes
  • HTML coding
  • How old is the domain?
  • Website traffic
  • Where the website is hosted

What Is PageRank?

 PageRank is Google’s way of deciding how important a website is. PageRank represents a numeric value from 1 to 10, one being the lowest and ten being the highest. To the best of my knowledge, only six sites have PageRank 10. These sites are:

 Adobe
The White House
US Government Website
National Science Foundation
World Wide Web Consortium
Google search

 What Determines PageRank?

 If a site is linking to another site, Google counts this as a vote and the more votes there are, the more important a site is. This sounds very simple, but there are many other elements to it and the whole PageRank thing is very complicated. Let me give you an easy example: ADJ is a personal finance website. If another high-ranking website such as Get Rich Slowly links to ADJ, it will be very good for ADJ PageRank. However, if a junk website links to ADJ, it will hurt ADJ PageRank. If you are interested in finding out more about PageRank, do a Google search for PageRank and read a few sites or visit Wikipedia’s PageRank page

 Why PageRank is Important

 PageRank is the heart of Google search and is one of the most significant components that determine the order of search results. Newer sites usually have zero, meaning no PageRank. It is every webmaster’s dream to achieve a higher PageRank, thus attracting more traffic. That’s why PageRank is so important.

 If you had performed a search last week by typing “Canada personal finance” in the Google “Search” box, you would have seen ADJ after five or six pages of results. Alternatively, a search for “Canada personal finance blog” would have put ADJ on the second or third page. But now, a search for “Canada personal finance” pulls up ADJ on the second or sometimes the first page and “Canada personal finance blog” search is steadily putting ADJ on the first page.

 Only Because Of You

 ADJ is a relatively new site and going through tremendous growth. The higher PageRank and momentum in growth has only been made possible because of readers like you. I would like to take this opportunity to thank ADJ readers. Thank you for all your support and thank you for reading ADJ regularly. I know that all of this is only possible because of you and your support.