A Colour Forecast For Spring 2017

Forget the monochrome look, forget restraint. One of the strong trends that we can look forward to in spring 2017 is vibrant colour. Think wacky, age of Aquarius style psychedelia. Many of the looks that will come to the fore in spring of next year are going to be a riot of colour. This is great for those of us who love vibrant shades and are not afraid to stand out from the crowd, though perhaps not so good for shrinking violets or those with a more muted aesthetic.

Tie dye is back and there is something of a resurgence of the hippie fashion aesthetic. For Resort, designers showed a range of tie-dye clothing. Both inner and outerwear items were shown and there was plenty of colour on display, much of it in bold, rich tones that are all about the character and the playful wackiness. Spring summer 2017 could be the time to revisit the Summer of Love. But this psychedelia has a sort of contemporary edge, with bold shapes, geometric designs and a strong line in global multiculturalism that reflects our more connected modern age. The way to wear this multi-coloured extravaganza is definitely to give it some gusto, but also a bit of an edge. Think whimsy but with a slightly harder urban slant.

The key to looking up to date and not like you have been lost and wandering on the hippie trail since the 60s is to choose pieces with a more modern shape when going for rainbow coloured clothes. Mismatched patterns and quirky combos will edge this look into another spring summer 2017 look – the chic geek. The idea is that pretty much anything goes and you should let your freak flag fly, showing your own unusual and unique personality through the way you dress.

This colour extravaganza borrows not only from the pschedelia of the 1960s but also from the colourful aesthetic of Tibet, its woven fabrics, strong patterns and bright colours, all with a slightly spiritual bent. There is also a large dose of inspiration taken from Cuba, a nation opening to the US for the first time in over fifty years and one with a strong culture and tropical aesthetic. Colour inspiration is also taken from the northern Californian coast, rich mid-tone blues and beachy hues mingle in with brighter tropical colours. No matter where you look, the spring summer 2017 trends are all about colour. Developing a really good colour sense and knowing which colours will suit you is the key to looking good and finding your own perfect look for the coming seasons.

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Unlike Last Season, Early Schedule Will Challenge Cubs In 2017

The celebration has ended, the 108 year drought is over, and baseball on Chicago’s North Side should return to normal. In other words, fans of the Cubs can go back to worrying.

Several big concerns face them as they look toward the 2017 season, in addition to the nearly impossible task of topping the World Series Championship they earned in October. No team has won the Fall Classic back to back in this century, although a much shorter span than the Cubs endured between titles.

That trip to the World Series was made easier by the early schedule, an arrangement the Cubs will not enjoy next April. Chicago did not play a winning team until April 18 against the Cardinals, which was their fifth series of the season. The Cubs did not play another winning team until May 2, when they played the Pirates. Spending the first month against the likes of Cincinnati, Arizona, Atlanta, and Milwaukee would provide nearly any team with the confidence needed to carry them through the most important stretch of the season. To emphasize just how important a hot start is, examine the National League from last season.

All four of the teams who reached the Division Series posted winning percentages over.700 during the first week of 2016, led by the Cubs and Nationals winning eight of their first nine games. The Giants were victorious in six of their first eight, and the Dodgers won seven of their first ten.

The advantage of opening against non-contenders will not be available to the Cubs in 2017, when the early part of their schedule features matchups against the only two teams that had winning records against Chicago last year. They open in St. Louis on April 2nd, a Sunday night game between the two rivals that will be broadcast on national television.

What could make that initial series even more troubling for the Cubs is the strong possibility that one of their most exciting players from last year will be playing for the opposing team. Center fielder Dexter Fowler, Chicago’s spark plug at the top of the batting order, is a free agent. Many baseball writers have projected St. Louis as the most likely team to sign Fowler. After the series in St. Louis, the Cubs must play the team that nearly eliminated them in the NLCS. The Dodgers, who won both of their regular season series against the Cubs in 2016, have the opportunity to avenge their playoff loss on the opening weekend in April.

The hot start Chicago used to build momentum for their World Series run last year is far less likely to befall them in 2017, simply because of the competition. Instead of opening against last place clubs like San Diego and Cincinnati, the Cubs will be tested right out of the chute by teams expecting to be contenders.

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LYFT Driverless Car Network

Not so long ago in the past and to be more specific, it has been just 4 years since the announcement of LYFT as a large competitor for Uber. Today the company has grown in size and popularity and is definitely making waves in terms of pricing along with coverage. This company was first thought of as a fly by night company to be hauled away in the next big growth of Uber. However, this has been a far thought for LYFT. This company has been silently building itself and engulfing its efforts in technology. Their most recently talked about innovation to be brought online will be a Driverless Car Network.

Now many have bogged at the idea of Driverless cars, but they are becoming more and more trendy as time moves on. Innovators such as Mercedes has put self-driving capabilities in many of its models, followed by General Motors Nissan, Toyota, Audi, Volvo, and Tesla. Self-driving cars are no longer a talk of possibility; they are now here to stay. For that reason, GM has jumped on the forefront to invest $500 million in LYFT’s initiative for their Driverless Car Network. This effort essentially will change the way how we commute and reduce the risks associated with impaired drivers or drivers which are inebriated. As opposed to going out in the car yourself to make a pickup of a friend or parents, a simple call or selection in the LYFT app will send a Driverless LYFT vehicle to the pickup aid of the designated person and taking them safely to their next location without incident. This means that the 94% of road accidents which are caused by human error will be drastically dropped due to the car being driven by Artificial Intelligence. Roadways will be more accessible with less vehicles cluttering the highways as more accessibility for carpools and more ability to work while riding effortlessly to work or to school. Many traffic jams are accounted by accidents which occur during morning or evening rush hour. Imagine not having to deal with such delays and being able to effortlessly get home while finishing up a project for work, school, or leisure. This is the future the LYFT is in the process of unveiling to the world in 2017. As far as designs for the Driverless Car Network that LYFT will unveil in 2017, its all just speculations as LYFT along with General Motors has managed to keep talks or leaks about the designs under heavy guard. At the moment these companies stand at the cusp of changing the way how we all use our vehicles and LYFT is the company that is driving the helm.

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Tips for Developing Astute Investing Skills

Learn to discern conflicting analyses, reports, and data as you research investing opportunities

As an investor, you must make decisions based on your study, research, and personal opinions and beliefs. You should not depend solely on the research and opinions of others. There is much good advice and information available to you.

However, there’s also a lot of differing information that you must cut through to make informed investing decisions. Here’s what you can start doing now:

Understand decisions made by entities independent of publicly traded companies

General Electric (NYSE:GE), through its Power & Water division, GE Hitachi, offers advanced and sophisticated technology for the nuclear energy industry. The GE Hitachi nuclear alliance unites GE’s design expertise and history supplying reactors, fuels, and services worldwide with Hitachi’s proven experience in advanced modular construction. This is all well and good.

Nonetheless, previously, the Canadian Press noted that, “A Federal Court ruling has thrown out the preliminary approvals for a series of new nuclear power reactors in Ontario.” Therefore, this is a case of weighing company initiatives against the landscape and mindset of the jurisdiction in which they operate, or may wish to operate with new projects. You must be aware of this when you invest.Understand the difference between company outlooks and what’s going on in the marketplace

Cameco (TSX:CCO) (NYSE:CCJ), regarding its long-term prospects was very positive about its outlook and the outlook for the uranium industry in general. The company did say in its 2013 annual report that any development or expansion of its remaining projects would depend on how market conditions develop. Cameco’s intention is to build up Cigar Lake and to expand the McArthur River/Key Lake operation.

Commercial production commenced in May 2015 at Cigar Lake with a total of 11.3 million pounds (100% basis) produced by the end of the year. The expectation is that the build up to licensed capacity of 18 million pounds per year will be in 2017.

What’s’ happening in the marketplace? In 2014, Mining.com reported that poor markets caused Cameco to put its Millennium uranium mine on hold. The highly prospective Millennium deposit is on the shores of Slush Lake in Saskatchewan. Cameco had asked the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to postpone a hearing scheduled in June 2014 into a licence application for the Millennium Mine project. The estimation is that this project has in excess of 50 million pounds of uranium.

Consider company strategies and the new economy

Sears Canada (TSX:SCC) Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD) never seemed to transform its operations as other retailers. Sears Canada dispensed some of its best stores and raised hundreds of millions of dollars in the process. Sears Canada was a mainstay in Canadian downtowns and major shopping malls.

The Company’s Toronto Eaton Centre flagship store became a Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) store. Sears Canada has seen its target consumers taken away by bulk stores and higher-end retailers, not competing with them effectively.

Consider government reports

These are reports prepared by any level of government: federal, provincial/state, or regional or municipal. Oftentimes, federal government pronouncements paint a rosier picture than what is really happening in the economy. This is especially true at election time. You must look at what other government agencies are saying, not just the political figureheads of parties. Consider what U.S Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen said in the past. She told the Joint Economic Committee of Congress that under present policies, the federal government’s deficits, “will rise to unsustainable levels.”

As an investor, you must consider what that will do to the U.S economy, the business environment, and businesses. By extension, what will this do in the coming years to Canada’s? When the U.S. rolls over, it typically nudges Canada who’s napping on its shoulder.

Due diligence means more than just studying the latest quarterly results of companies. It means studying and discerning between different government, economic, as well as marketplace reports that often are contradictory. It’s your responsibility to discern between the wheat and the chaff. If this means taking longer to make an investment decision, so be it. In the end, you will make a better investment decision.

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Are You at Risk of Being “Uberized”?

If you’re like many Business Owners and Leaders you probably feel pretty good about the position you hold in your market… so did the taxi cab companies and drivers before Uber became a reality. Now they are scrambling and trying to find a way to survive… even to the point of trying to get political help in different cities to stay afloat.

Disruption and Commoditization have impacted virtually every industry today. There probably isn’t a single industry that hasn’t been impacted by a disruptive organization entering their market and stealing some of their market share. Uber is an excellent example but there are many others that have been equally disruptive. Companies such as LegalZoom have taken billions of dollars away from attorneys over the past several years. They captured and disrupted a document and transaction-based business and turned it into a commodity by substantially lowering the pricing of document preparation… impacting attorneys all over the country.

Amazon was an early disruptor to the entire book business… taking significant market share away from Barnes and Noble and Borders who were recognized giants in the book industry. And we certainly can’t forget about Blockbuster’s demise when Netflix entered the market. They were the unquestioned dominant leader in video rental and were virtually replaced overnight by an unknown company with a new disruptive business model that matched the needs of customers at substantial savings.

Even though these examples are in completely different industries there is one common thread that runs through all of them… they didn’t believe anyone could disrupt their dominance in their market. While it’s awesome to believe in your product or service, it’s dangerous to think there isn’t someone waiting in the wings to take away your position. Unlike any other time in history, we are now seeing new companies coming into traditional industries from many unrelated areas and establishing a disruptive model and capturing significant market share. This trend is only going to continue now that it has shown massive success over the past few years. So what can you do, as the leader of your business, to either avoid or minimize the impact of this potential disruption?

While commoditization is difficult to combat with products and services over a long period of time, there is at least one alternative that appears to withstand the test of time and delivers differentiation in the market… your CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

It is difficult to continually come up with new products and services to satisfy the ravenous appetite customers have today. Just when you think you have the best and leading edge product or newest service, someone comes in and “one-ups” you and takes away the leading spot. While you might remain there for some period of time, it is difficult to remain at the top for extended periods of time. Apple is one of the few that has been successful at this… but it took them many years of living in the shadow of Microsoft and others before they became the dominant leader. Today, Microsoft is in this unenviable position and trying to fight their way back to the top… especially in the race for the Cloud.

But these are behemoth companies… not the SMB market. They can throw billions of dollars at innovation and products and hope they find a winner. The small and mid-sized business (SMB) can’t be this frivolous with their cash and making too many product/service mistakes can wipe out a business before anything comes to fruition. The proven alternative to this madness is to focus on the ONE THING that is completely in their control to design and deliver… their CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

Customer Experience has both short and long term advantages. It is something that can be created and implemented within the year but last for many decades to come when implemented properly. And by properly I’m not talking about telling all your employees they need to be nicer to the customer… that never works for the long term… every company can be nice to their customers if they try. This isn’t the answer… this isn’t the differentiator… but it’s on the right track.

Creating a customized CUSTOMER JOURNEY that is built upon a very well defined Customer Experience Process (something we call Customer Experience Mapping) is what allows companies to reap these rewards for many years into the future. Think Disney… they created “the happiest place on earth” and continue to deliver this experience year after year after year. This didn’t happen by holding a meeting and telling all their employees and characters to be nicer to their guests… it happened because they have a very well defined Customer Journey that is built on a foundation of a well-designed and executed Customer Experience.

Nordstrom did the same thing many decades ago. They started selling shoes… then clothing… all at high prices. But they started with a very distinct process inside the organization for delivering an incredible customer experience day in and day out. Zappos followed this same model… sold shoes… one of the ultimate commodities in the clothing industry… and they dominate today. They don’t give discounts and silly things like “one day only” sales (every day)… they simply deliver a remarkable Customer Experience to every customer every day… and their customers love to buy from Zappos. And it has worked out pretty well when you consider they went from zero to over $1 Billion in revenues in less than 10 years and were sold to Amazon for more than a billion dollars. Not a bad model if you ask me.

One way to avoid being COMMODITIZED and losing customers is to design something even new entrants can’t copy… the experience you offer. If your Customer Experience is so incredibly amazing and remarkable… WOW… every single day with every interaction, this creates immediate differentiation and a long tail of success. It is the ultimate weapon against commoditization or even new entrants into a market. For a new disruptive entrant to take away market share they would need to be so much better and cheaper than anything you offered… which is difficult to do today. And for those of you that are saying to yourself right now, “Yea but we’re different, we do a good quality job and treat our customers well so we aren’t at risk,” I would offer you some instant advice… take the blinders off and get real with looking at your business. This is living in a fantasy world… this isn’t looking at your company from the eyes of your customer… they are seeing something very different. And if someone came into your market today and offered a completely different (and awesome) experience to your customers at or below your price they would be gone in a heartbeat.

Achieving long-term dominance doesn’t happen by “being nicer to your customers” and thinking you have created differentiation… you haven’t. Being CUSTOMER OBSESSED and creating a process based CUSTOMER JOURNEY that has a well laid out and documented CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE PROCESS at the heart of it is what will help you avoid being “Uberized.” This strategy gives you differentiation, uniqueness, and a special place in your customers heart and mind… it gives you the “long tail” of success.

I would strongly and passionately encourage you to learn more about why and how this is completely different than what you are probably doing today. If there was ONE THING TO FOCUS ON IN 2017 it would be to create a strategy based around a well-planned Customer Journey which incorporated an incredibly awesome Customer Experience by Mapping out all the experiences your customer will receive when they interact with your business (there are usually over 20 for most companies in the SMB market). If this is of interest and you want to learn more, let’s grab coffee and I can share how some of the best companies in the world have followed this path… for decades… and still dominate in their industries. I think you will find it a fascinating discussion…

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