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ZEITGUIDE

BRIEFING  -  DECEMBER 21, 2012  -  NEW YORK, NY



A Cultural Almanac for 2013


IN THIS ISSUE

Illustration by JT Waldman

Welcome to Zeitguide 2013  

At Grossman & Partners, our job is to immerse ourselves in the ever-evolving conversation that is our culture in order to keep our clients relevant, insightful, and prolific. At the end of the year, we report back to you on what we’ve learned and look forward to in the Zeitguide.

This year, something sort of unexpected happened while pulling together all the strands. The technology section disappeared. Well, that’s not exactly true. It actually just oozed out of its tidy box. Remember when we started calling things “e-everything,” and then iEverything? Yeah well, now it is just everything. From film to fashion, education to advertising—it is impossible to tease those apart from digital and Internet, mobile and social.

It all puts us in a very McLuhanesque state of mind. Media isn’t a noun, Marshall McLuhan tried to tell us in 1966, but a verb. “A medium creates an environment. … It’s an action and goes to work on our nervous systems and on our sensory lives, completely altering them.” Culture just caught up to him. What happens now?

We hope you enjoy the 2013 Zeitguide. This year, we’ve also created our first annual collectable print edition, which you can order here. Or contact us for special group rates.

We know it’s a little retro, paper and all. But we also know the value of “unplugging” (see the Science, Medicine & Wellbeing section) and taking time away from the computer to breathe, reflect, and ground your thoughts. We hope the Zeitguide can help you with that too.

Enjoy,

Brad Grossman
Creator, Zeitguide
Founder, Grossman & Partners
@Zeitguide, #Zeitguide2013

  Finance & Business  
Images by Martin Murphy unless otherwise indicated.

ADD VUCA —volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity—to SNAFU and FUBAR as the latest military acronym to work its way into the civilian vocabulary. It’s in vogue particularly among business leaders, and given the fiscal cliff, the euro crisis, shrinking Chinese GDP growth, flash stock crashes, and DOA IPOs, it’s easy to see why.

Problem is, there’s no VUCA operating template. The only consistent corporate behavior we’ve seen: hunkering down, reflected in a hesitation to invest, hire, or buy into anything. But hemming and hawing doesn’t help the bottom line, either. As Winston Churchill noted: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”

Here are some other opportunities we’re optimistic about.

MADE IN THE USA, AGAIN

After decades of offshoring, some manufacturing is finally coming back to the U.S. All the cool kids are doing it: Apple, Google, Starbucks, even the nation’s largest industrial company, GE.

So is it just a patriotic gesture or a sign of a legitimate trend? Although “Made in the USA Again” is a great headline—and there certainly has been political pressure on companies—the motivators for on-shoring manufacturing appear to be solidly financial. Oil prices are three times what they were in 2000, making transocean shipping much pricier. Meantime, a natural gas boom is pushing down U.S. energy prices. Chinese labor costs are up fivefold, still cheap but rising, whereas American wages have, as we all know, stagnated. Unions have made deep concessions about new hires in particular. And building products in the U.S. means you can get them onto store shelves much, much faster.

Collaboration and innovation improve, too. When GE evaluated how to make GeoSpring water heaters in Kentucky instead of China, it wound up with a much better design. As reported in The Atlantic, the new water heater had 20 fewer parts, material costs went down 25 percent, and it took two hours to assemble instead of 10. It was more energy efficient and now retails for $300 less.

Although no one expects manufacturing to spring back up to 1990 levels, Boston Consulting Group predicted that 2 million or more jobs could return to U.S. shores. Supply chain expert and MIT professor David Simchi-Levi surveyed 108 multinationals over the summer and found 14 percent planned to bring some manufacturing back to the U.S. If there’s been any hiccup, it’s softening demand because of fiscal cliff pessimists.

MONEY GETS MEANINGFUL

This year, we learned about impact investing from Zeitguide’s friend Josh Kennedy and Beyond Capital Fund’s Eva Yazhari. This type of investing steers dollars to generate both financial returns and social change. For foundations and educational institutions especially, it’s a way to invest endowment funds to further missions.

Pasha Bakhtiar, who co-founded Willow Impact Investors, sees firms like his filling a gap between microfinance and developing market private equity investing. “Philanthropy has proven it can only do so much,” he told INSEAD Knowledge. “What we’re trying to do is empower a different segment of the population which hasn’t had access to something we regard as a basic tool to growth—and that’s capital.”

At the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting, we got a look at what impact investing could do on the ground. Akinwumi Adesina, Nigeria’s minister of agriculture and rural development, said private sector investment in agriculture could not only feed more people but also lift millions out of poverty. It “requires that we change our mindset about agriculture,” he said. “We must take agriculture out of that development realm … and put it into an investment realm to be able to unlock the power of agriculture to create jobs and wealth.” The rapid spread of smartphones (which now comprise about 20 percent of mobile phones worldwide) is making this possible, even in rural Nigeria. Farmers there used phones to register with the department of agriculture, receive subsidies, and make payments to private sector suppliers of seeds or fertilizer. Private markets, personal technology, and transparent systems also cut corruption.

ENTERPRISE GETS SOCIAL  

Wall Street might be understandably wary of social media after the Facebook stock roller coaster ride. But let’s decouple the concept of “social” from Facebook and Twitter for a moment and concentrate on how the same mechanisms—liking and friending, tweeting and pinning—are remaking businesses.

Social enterprise networks, like their recreational counterparts, let employees and customers connect, collaborate, and create in real time. McKinsey’s white paper “The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies” suggested that productivity of “interaction workers” could jump 20 to 25 percent. Some corporations are creating their own social systems, and many more are adopting or adapting existing third-party platforms such as Salesforce, Yammer (which Microsoft bought for $1.2 billion), Jive, IBM Connections, and Oracle Social Network.

Social enterprise solutions are also hot in VC circles, partly because of the renewed interest in business technology as consumer-focused startups stumbled. “Tech companies with names like Splunk Inc. and ServiceNow Inc. that make harder-to-understand products for businesses are snagging attention with stellar IPOs and strong growth,” reported The Wall Street Journal. “Venture capitalists are now inundating these business-tech types with offers. Conference planners are deluging them with invitations to talk about topics such as ‘How Enterprise Got Sexy Again.’”

DATA GETS SEXY

A big-brain statistician we know laughed when he heard that the Harvard Business Review had called his job—data scientist—“the sexiest job of the 21st century.” But if by “sexy” HBR meant “highly desirable,” there’s little room to disagree.

By 2018, “the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills,” according to McKinsey & Co. That gives us just enough time to get enrolled at Columbia University’s Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering. Students are also being accepted to the “beta” version of Cornell NYC Tech, which has plans to grow into a world class applied sciences and engineering school on Roosevelt Island.

Yes, math will be required. But don’t worry: There’s still an important role for those of us with creative bones.

One of Forbes’ most powerful data scientists, DJ Patil, said when he was posting the first-ever “data scientists” job openings for LinkedIn, he didn’t just want mad coding skills; he wanted people with tremendous curiosity. “A great data scientist picks up everyone around them and invigorates them through data,” Patil told the Zeitguide this year at Beth Comstock’s GE CMO Summit. “What is most important are raw curiosity, passion, and storytelling. The best data scientist in the world knows how to create narrative and make data come alive.”

Speaking of cool job descriptions, Fast Company recently wrote about how instilling job titles with a sense of purpose is a good way to attract and retain young, tech-savvy millennials. Without changing the work, making the “customer service representative” a “customer relations specialist” or “customer happiness consultant” can do the trick.

Still, even customer happiness consultants better be computer savvy. Of the 20 jobs with the biggest projected growth, only a handful (child day care, truck driver, and construction, for example) might escape a complete overhaul by a new wave of technology in the coming years. But health care? Management? Education? Prepare for the technology career sea change. According to the Brookings Institution, already the most openings advertised are for jobs in computers.

Netscape-founder-turned-venture-capitalist Marc Andreessen takes this further, suggesting a social schism is in the works: “The spread of computers and the Internet will put jobs in two categories,” he told USA Today. “People who tell computers what to do, and people who are told by computers what to do.”

  Content  

When Marshall McLuhan wrote, “The medium is the message,” we don’t think he actually envisioned a future in which there was only one medium: digital bytes. But that’s where we are. And the remaining question is which digital hub among Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple—a quartet The Economist called “the warring giants—will provide all your digitized showfilmbookmusicgamevideo?

Delivery gadgets, in fact, have supplanted the entertainment product as the topic of debate. The kids used to argue Beatles vs. Stones; now it’s Samsung vs. iPhone.

TV EVERYWHERE

We at Zeitguide cull our media from a mix of cable, Netflix streaming, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, and the occasional DVD—altogether a satisfyingly rich but expensive a la carte menu. How long can this last?

Jeff Bewkes, CEO of Time Warner, said during a recent conference that he approved of the multitude of platforms, which keeps content from being “held hostage” to any given distributor. He doesn’t even fear mass “cord cutting” from current customers. “I think the bundle is going to continue,” he noted. “The utility, power, and value of it is going to go up.” But “cord nevers,” younger people who have never subscribed to cable, are a looming worry.

Despite the Internet, online gaming, and all the other competing forms of entertainment, Americans are still watching 4.9 to 5.3 hours of television a day. Although viewing data indicates audiences are accessing programs using more non-TV devices, it’s still the over-the-air broadcasters that have the most money and can grab the most eyeballs, especially for marquee sporting events such as the London Olympics or the Super Bowl.

There are only so many mega events to go around, though. Cable channels’ solution seems to be narrow-casting, locking in smaller audiences with programs tailored to specific tastes such as Spike’s “Ink Master,” Animal Planet’s “Pit Bulls and Parolees,” and TLC’s forthcoming “Neat Freaks.” Big broadcasters’ version of this seems to be genre shows with near-guaranteed fans, like superheroes (“Arrow”) or post-apocalyptic adventures (“Revolution”).

Is this combination of many niche programs delivered many, many ways working? The verdict isn't in. Networks want a “seven-day” window on viewership ratings to compensate. Variety’s Andrew Wallenstein also posits an interesting theory: On-demand availability and an increase in “binge” viewing might actually be hurting new series. For instance, 50,000 Netflix subscribers consumed all 13 episodes of “Breaking Bad” season 4 in the single day before season 5 started. Were potential viewers setting aside the already canceled series “666 Park Avenue” and “Last Resort” for a future binge? If so, ratings can’t reflect how many viewers intend to watch a show.

I SCREEN, YOU SCREEN, WE ALL SCREEN

“When I came to Hollywood, everybody was peddling a script,” said Eric Kuhn, Hollywood's first social media agent. “Now, two years later, everyone has an app and is peddling startups.”

In Hollywood, deals with “second screen” products—like apps that enable audiences to engage with extra content from the show they are consuming—are becoming business as usual. Zeebox, a U.K. import, seems to be taking the lead as the iPhone-Pad-Pod-Web-Droid TV “viewing companion” app, having nailed down partnership deals with Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal, HBO, Cinemax, and recently Viacom (owner of MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and much more). “Our viewers, when they are watching their TV, they are very often looking at second screen, accordingly we have been programming to that second screen,” Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said at a UBS conference. “It opens up new interactions with some of our advertisers, and we are already doing that, and it also opens up new opportunities with creative talent.”

Some argue that the whole second screen concept is only a transition point toward a more interactive one screen. The way an Xbox lets you access games and social networks simultaneously might be a sign of things to come. We at Zeitguide, however, still see the need for a separate far screen and near screen. On the far screen you and your companions can enjoy the same content, and on each individual’s near screen, he or she can Google, tweet, chat, update, or whathaveyou separately.

One question is whether the lure of second-screen interaction will revive “appointment viewing” and bring DVR addicts back to real-time TV watching. AMC pushed its Story Sync platform aggressively for season 5 of “Breaking Bad”; the Web-based simulcast provided photo flashbacks, instant polls, and of course, more ads.

Some are even suggesting that second screens on smartphones—the bane of serious filmgoers—should be invited into movie theaters. The theory goes that young people are tinkering with their devices anyway, so why not use that as an interactive marketing opportunity? Please. No.

MOTION PICTURES 3.0

Yes, movie attendance was turbulent this year: down about 10 percent at the peak summer season, up 3.5 percent at the end of the year. But movie exhibitors are still wary of expensive technical upgrades, because they don’t always pay off with a rise in attendance. Will “The Hobbit’s” financial success increase future adoption of 48fps (frames per second - double the rate used since the 1920s) despite seriously mixed reviews?

The industry is still floundering its way through 3-D, with few using it as successfully—money- or spectacle-wise—as James Cameron did with “Avatar.” The postponement of the 3-D adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” seems to stem from such fears, with people close to the movie acknowledging that the delay will give director Baz Luhrmann “more time to finish its extensive 3-D effects,” according to the Los Angeles Times. It’s all about what you do with it. It made plotless “Life of Pi” not only watchable, but also visually stunning.

The economics of film distribution, already out of whack in the 1990s, have gotten even more so since movie studios started competing with HD big screen home entertainment. If studios were allowed back into the theater-owning game (which they’ve been banned from since the 1948 court ruling United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc.), might that alleviate blockbuster mania? Some executives think that “without the pressure of having to make as much money as possible as soon as possible, more inventive films would be able to take more time to catch on,” New York magazine's Claude Brodesser-Akner reported.

For now, though, it’s an arms race among platforms, and movie theaters are desperate to stay relevant. Director James Cameron, for one, believes the “cinema experience” will remain in demand. “There will always be a need to gather in a dark room as a group for these social experiences—checking your emotional dipstick to make sure your oil levels are OK,” he said. “If you laugh when everyone else laughs, or if you cry when everyone else cries, then you’re OK.”

THE GLOBAL GAME  

Like Cameron, the Chinese have confidence in the staying power of moviegoing. Wang Jianlin’s Wanda Group purchased the American theater chain AMC Entertainment in May for $2.6 billion. Meanwhile, domestically China has 25,000 cinema screens on the drawing board for the next five years. The country is also gearing up its own film production industry, with two new studios seeking a listing on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

Indeed, if TV is becoming more niche-y, Hollywood is looking more multinational. Overseas ticket buyers in China, Russia, Brazil, and other emerging markets now account for nearly 70 percent of global box office revenue. American studios are eager to get a piece of that pie, even if it means cutting out scenes that upset Chinese censors, as they did for “Men in Black 3” or shooting films on location there, such as “Iron Man 3.”

Movies need some kind of cultural vitality—a brand (“Bond,” “Twilight,” “Hunger Games”), new concept, or exceptionally exciting creative team—to draw a global audience. Sci-fi, big action, and 3-D animation films have always been popular, but their success in foreign markets buoys movies we think are clunkers here. Even “Wrath of the Titans” picked up $218 million overseas. A big hit like “Skyfall,” Daniel Craig’s third outing as James Bond? It’s hauled in nearly $1 billion worldwide.

So: Disney buys Lucasfilm for $4 billion. Will the next “Star Wars”—on the slate for 2015—further redefine the global blockbuster? Or was this just a strategy to add the Darth Vader character to the Disneyland family?

WOMEN MAN UP

Women—especially on TV—kicked ass this year—and not just during the Olympics, where female athletes outnumbered male on the U.S. team for the first time in history and brought home more medals.

It’s been a slow accumulation, but it seemed like strong female characters hit some kind of critical mass this year—whether they were just trying to make it in the big city (“Girls,” “Two Broke Girls”), build a medical practice (“The Mindy Project”), save the nation (“Homeland”), or run it (“Political Animals”).

Although women still make up less than half of those working in TV, there has been progress. We’ll see how the tally goes for this season, but in the 2011-12 one, 38 percent of producers, 30 percent of writers, 26 percent of creators, and 25 percent of executive producers were female—all upticks from the prior year. Compare that to the movie business, in which the proportion of female film directors declined from 9 percent in 1998 to 5 percent in 2011.

Callie Khouri—creator of the ABC series “Nashville” and writer of the iconic feminist film “Thelma & Louise”told Salon that television is now a much better place for women all around. In the movies, she said, “if there is something with women in it, it’s relegated to this kind of trash heap. It doesn’t matter what it is, how good it is, if there is emotion in it, it’s immediately going to be talked down to. … I want to make something that’s respectful, and respected. And I think you can make something for women that is respected on television.

A.O. Scott noted how many heroines led action films this year, but we at the Zeitguide were struck by the way female characters shaped even “dude” films.

Decrepit James Bond and Batman/Bruce Wayne fight emotional battles for the women they love, not simply womanize with abandon. Universal Pictures was concerned that the crass and misogynistic Teddy Bear in “Ted” would alienate female viewers—but they appeared won over by vulnerable Mark Wahlberg, who not only needed a Teddy Bear but a strong woman to take charge. This thought was reinforced during a conversation with Zeitguide mentor, producer Brian Grazer, about “Flight,” in which a pilot (Denzel Washington) struggles with addiction and his relationships with women, and finally admits his vulnerability at the end. “It truly encourages you to want to become a better man,” Grazer said.

These are, perhaps, male characters suited to our era of “needy men.” But as gender studies scholar Hugo Schwyzer put it, “The problem is—as both [writer] Hanna Rosin and Lena Dunham [the creator and star of HBO’s “Girls”] seem to understand—a growing number of men expect women to serve as perpetually available emotional beacons in their struggle to navigate the transition to adulthood and self-sufficiency.”

WHERE THE BOYS WENT

Well, they’re not at the movies much. Nor are they tuned into Comcast’s G4 or News Corp.’s up-for-sale IGN network for guys. The “lost boy” generation (18-24-year-old men) is online, congregating on such websites and YouTube channels as Machinima, Break Media's MadeMan.com and HolyTaco.com. Machinima, founded in 2000, generates more than 2.2 billion views per month of its video episodes based on video games; it is now YouTube’s most highly ranked channel.

So although YouTube channels haven’t taken the place of TV (though owner Google is spending $200 million on the endeavor), there’s little question that it’s where the boys are. “If you’re a marketer and not paying serious attention to Machinima, you’re really behind the curve,” said Matt Britton, a founder of marketing firm MRY, which helped promote “Halo 4” for Xbox with a Machinima series. “College kids may not be bringing TVs to their dorm rooms anymore, but Machinima, because it has smartly built itself around YouTube, is right there on their laptops.

Behind Machinima, the next two big YouTube partner channels are Vevo and Maker Studios.

Zeitguide had the chance to spend the afternoon at Maker Studios with COO Courtney Holt, who explained that it partners with video artists of all kinds to develop the next YouTube celebrities. And when it does, the network is geared up to help them produce and distribute more content, promote them, and create merchandise.

Time Warner Investments is leading another round of financing that should raise $40 million for Maker Studios, a clear signal that traditional media view online video as key to their survival. Maker Studios investor Mark Suster noted that because videos are short and cheap (the cost is usually $200 to $400 per minute), the losses are only about $2,000 if a video flops. A scripted TV drama costs roughly 100 times that per minute.

I HEART MUSIC  

Music this year struck at the heartstrings or the heart rate.

In the former category, Taylor Swift (now totally devoid of Nashville twang) dominated the Billboard 200 chart of best-selling albums with “Red.” The pop collection of romance, revenge, and regret sold 1.75 million copies in three weeks. Banjo-centric Brits Mumford & Sons had six songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 concurrently—something no band’s done since The Beatles. A slew of singalong folk acts are coasting onto the radio in their wake, such as The Lumineers and “American Idol” winner Phillip Phillips.

Songwriter Frank Ocean tapped an emotional nerve with “Channel Orange,” the solo album he released days after confessing a heartbreaking affair with another man on Tumblr. Ocean surely gained some new gay listeners, but what was remarkable was the lack of backlash from the R&B or hip-hop worlds: His album debuted at No. 2 and garnered six Grammy nominations. Now a GQ Man of the Year, Ocean leads a wave of alt R&B artists that include Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, Miguel, and even Bruno Mars.

Whether it’s Swift’s turn-up-the-car-stereo melodrama, Ocean’s tender grooves, or Marcus Mumford’s fervent growl, the core of these chart toppers is emotional, handcrafted songsmithing.

At the polar opposite, EDM, or electronic dance music, is crafted in laptop samples. The LA Weekly described EDM as full of “relentless builds and drops fused into a sonically aggressive foundation of beats and beeps that play like a soundtrack to intergalactic warfare.” EDM DJs such as Joel Thomas Zimmerman of Deadmau5, Avicii, Skrillex, David Guetta, and Calvin Harris rove the globe, fill stadiums like rock stars, and dominate downloads. EDM surges the brain with intensified beats per minute. And listener response to EDM is physical: Must. Dance. Now. Preferably surrounded by 50,000 people at Pulse Miami or the like.

“They are adrenaline junkies and they want a giant light show and explosions,” LCD Soundsystem frontman, DJ James Murphy said in an interview with The Huffington Post. “If they start dancing, they don’t leave; then it’s … a genuine thing that starts happening.” Record producer L.A. Reid said EDM is “largely replacing rock ’n’ roll” with “the same rebellious undertones that rock once had.”

But nothing was hook-ier and more mass culture than “Gangnam Style” from South Korean K-pop star Psy. The song lodged in the brain for sure, but it was its rollicking music video that made Psy a global sensation. Played 7 million to 10 million times a day, “Gangnam Style” is now YouTube’s most-seen video of all time. Sorry Bieber.

In an era of videos freely available on YouTube, iTunes singles, and Spotify playlists, genre loyalty is a thing of the past. We can horse-dance with Psy, take our EDM playlist to the gym, sing along with Mumford while making dinner, and dress for our date to the magnetic music of Australia’s Tame Impala—whose “Lonerism” is one of this year’s most loved albums. The beats and chords may change, but we like what we like. P.S. We wish we could Shazam a song and click to add it to a Spotify playlist.

  Fashion & Design  

Online and off, customers increasingly became their own buyers, designers, marketers, and arbiters of style. How? Fashion blogs and Pinterest boards, to be sure, but also with virtual storefronts and real DIY products.

MODERN-DAY SHOPKEEPER

“The future of retail is about activating engagement through entertainment and community,” said Zeitguide friend Rachel Shechtman, whose Startup Store became the super-fun Story. She “edits” her shop like a magazine, with each “issue” having a distinct theme, such as color or love. This fall, it was “making things,” and customers used MakerBot 3-D printers, laser cutters, and more to create their own products.

Fashion designer Steven Alan pointed us to new digital tools like Style Owner that turn any customer into a virtual boutique proprietor. Style lovers can create “storefronts” for clothes they love—from any combination of lines and eras—and then claim 10 percent of the profits on anything sold.

Launching lines is getting easier with sites such as Dropt, which make it possible to quickly design a sophisticated online presence, and then let customers behind the curtain with “insider” previews of new collections. As never before, Alan told us, the key is “really understanding who your customer is, and being able to speak to your niche” with every kind of involvement.

THROWBACK MASHUP

What about the clothes themselves? Fashion has always recycled, and according to a Zeitguide friend in the industry, “This spring should see in many ways a return to the ’60s” with Mod-Pop Graphics (Marc Jacobs) and New Bohemian looks (YSL) that channel the California/Paris boho spirit of Jim Morrison and girlfriend Pamela Courson. But if that doesn’t suit, it’s easy to put ’50s-style Cole Haan saddle shoes and Mango’s Peter Pan collars into the mix. Or sneakers from the ’80s. Sweaters from the ’70s. High waists from the ’40s. All together in the same outfit. As The Wall Street Journal noted, if you “favor a particular fashion decade … you’re in luck”—because everything from the ’20s forward has been mined for this season. It has never been more mix and match.

FOLLOW THE SHOPPER

Brands are certainly trying to shorten the distance from impulse to purchase. Shoppable magazines for instance turn reading about shopping into shopping itself with scannable codes that let you buy what you’re looking at on the page. It’s all part of rewiring reality, as The Business of Fashion put it, with “new business models that integrate commerce and content, offering consumers a more seamless path from inspiration to purchase.”

Apps like Snapette let consumers home in on sales and stores anywhere in their vicinity. And once they got there? Many turned retailers into “try before you buy” opportunities—called “showrooming.” But customers with mobile phones aren’t always comparison shopping; they’re often looking for more information to validate a choice, according to a Vibes survey on MediaPost.

Though a few subscription retailers, like GuyHaus, closed shop, many continue to thrive, especially services such as Birchbox, which delivers a selection of sample-size beauty products for $10 a month. Baby food, stockings, sex toys—you could get them all by subscription. Fashion sites in particular are trying to become less book-of-the-month and more high-end personal shopper as they now have a new way to service their customer: data.

Last year, Warby Parker glasses were all the rage. This year it was those mysterious Google Glasses Diane von Furstenberg sent her models down the runway in, due out in 2014. Models aren't the only ones spying. Benetton recruited “$5,000 bionic mannequins from Italy’s Almax” to watch you as you shop. The dummies, Mashable reports, have eyes complete with cameras and facial recognition software that can log the gender, age and race of any passersby… for that “1984” shopping experience.

The fashion world narrative had more drama than a movie trailer, Style.com observed, "with surprise dismissals, heated disputes, tense rivalries." At Balenciaga, Nicolas Ghesquiere was out, and 28-year-old American designer Alexander Wang was in. Raf Simons was fired from Jil Sander. Visions change. So do finances.

  Marketing & Advertising   

BACK TO THE BRANDS  

Last year, the Zeitguide pointed out how power had shifted to consumers, who were now able to compare products and prices online and on mobile devices. Big brands had to shout less and listen more, tuning in to what customers were saying on Twitter, liking on Facebook, and posting on Instagram and Pinterest, etc.

But now, brands have snatched the power right back, both from customers and the media channels they use for their ads.

TRACKING AND BIDDING

Programmatic bidding is the primary reason. That’s the system that lets shoe ads or car ads follow you from one website to the next, as Tanzina Vega explained in The New York Times. Rather than reach foodies by, say, advertising on food and cooking websites, companies use algorithms to, in real time, bid to place surgically targeted ads in front of one specific consumer. “It’s allowing advertisers to assign value to media rather than publishers,” Ben Winkler, chief digital officer at OMD, an agency in the Omnicom Media Group, told the Times. Already about 10 percent of online ads are sold this way, and major brands such as Nike, Comcast, Progressive, and Procter & Gamble are using it. For mainstream publishers, this will mean getting an even smaller share of more widespread ad dollars.

At the heart of this concept, of course, is tracking consumers and wrapping them up in tidy, if not always accurate, “customer profiles.” The clients of one company, BlueKai, track more than 80 percent of the U.S. online population. Founder Omar Tawakol told The New York Times that “once we figure out the privacy rules” hyper-targeted ads will follow us to TVs and cellphones.

Joseph Turow, author of the book “The Daily You,” is particularly troubled by this marketing revolution. Not only is it destroying traditional publishing outlets, he wrote, but companies that track and tag, slice and dice consumer data are “performing a highly controversial form of social profiling and discrimination by customizing our media content on the basis of marketing reputations we don’t even know we have.”

It’s enough to make you call your senator and demand he or she get around to dealing with Do-Not-Track regulations. But the working group W3C, charged with improving user control over online privacy, hasn’t gotten far. Marketers aren’t taking proposed DNT rules lying down, either. Eric Wheeler, CEO of “social graphing” (read: tracking) firm 33Across and formerly of Ogilvy, said DNT will send us back to the age of dancing monkey ads. “Consumers themselves would end up suffering,” he wrote on CNET, “gaining ‘privacy’ (whatever that means in the context of anonymous data collection) at the cost of online subscription fees, less interesting and innovative online experiences, and less relevant advertising.”

CONTENT CREATORS, TOO

Adding insult to injury for media companies, advertisers are themselves becoming content creators. Coca-Cola made a huge splash with the relaunch of its brand website in a Web-magazine format called The Coca-Cola Journey. Of course that can’t keep up with the super-caffeinated glossy The Red Bulletin put out by Red Bull since 2011. On a smaller scale, we started getting a weekly newsletter from AT&T. In other words, content marketing (creating your own content in house) is making a real run at replacing branded content (entertainment funded by brands). That may make sense for IBM, which sells its ideas and consulting. But for Coke? Consumers may watch a video or read a short tweet, but will they really invest time in a brand ecosystem?

Deanna Brown, CEO of Federated Media Publishing, which partners with brands on online projects, told Mashable in June that it’s content partners that create the best context for a brand. “It’s still a very expensive proposition to become a publisher,” she said. “The question is, what is the goal of the content that they are creating and what is the return on that investment?”

Ross Martin, who heads Scratch, a new division of Viacom that enables partners to tap the power of its networks such as MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon in new ways, sees marketers becoming more like programmers. Martin, who was recently named a 2012 Media Maven by Ad Age, told us: “The most effective marketers are programming their brands into the lives of their consumers, creating an experience consumers feel and then share because they just can’t keep it to themselves. More and more, brands are counting on their closest media partners to help them win.”

Of course, companies have bought content studios before: GE and Seagram’s bought Universal. Sony bought Columbia Pictures. But the primary aim then wasn’t driving commerce at an affiliated business.

Meantime, some media companies seem willing to sell advertisers whatever they want to buy. ABC recently aired an episode of “Revenge” during which all the commercials were for Target and Neiman Marcus starring the show’s cast. Conde Nast editors seemed to endorse Windows 8 in a “content promotion” pasted over the covers of 14 of the company’s magazines. Three editors opted out—Vogue's Anna Wintour, Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter, and The New Yorker's David Remnick. It seems there are still a few journalists out there with the power to stand up to advertisers.

But there are also artists who are given new opportunities to generate creative, unique content because certain brands believe in them. These brands act as patrons, giving artists more freedom than record companies or studios ever have. One success story: OK Go created a video for Chevy, now with over 23 million hits, and won 7 awards at the Cannes Lions Festival.

  FOOD & WINE  

“I’m off to my third Thanksgiving,” Zeitguide friend Pieter Estersohn said. We suspected at first this was because it’s so common to have multiple “families” created by biology, romantic attachment, or abiding friendships. But in fact we think it’s because a holiday that centers on food might just be his favorite.

Who could blame him? We’ve become even more obsessed with food—its origins, intricacies, cultural import. “Have you eaten at Bäco Mercat?” has become the new “Have you seen that edgy documentary?”

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

“Food really is the new rock,” L.A.-based food blogger Krista Simmons told “CBS Sunday Morning.” It’s something to have opinions about, and a visceral experience you still have to seek out (it’s not on the Internet) and pay for (there will be no downloading appetizers). Even though we have fewer restaurants overall and millennials are eating out less often (thank joblessness and stagnant wages) than they used to, for taste leaders, where and what they eat is a vital component of defining who they are. They’ll tweet or blog about meals as easily as movies or concerts.

Food is now part of identity—indeed, our value system—because it’s become more interesting. There are culinary adventures to be had at food trucks, strip malls, pop-ups, and white tablecloth establishments. Bon Appétit introduced its 2012 favorite restaurants this way: “Well, to start, they’re usually scrappy and personal, guided by chefs with a passion to create independently owned places they would want to eat at on their day off.” The L.A. Times scrapped its four-star reviewing system, saying it was inadequate for the variety of eating experiences in the city.

Restaurants are also going to be more about the memorable entertainment experience, predicted “Iron Chef” Cat Cora, because technology will make home cooking near effortless over the next 30 years. "You'll be able to walk in, talk to the appliance, and it will do whatever you ask it to do," she told USA Today. Already, destination dining is taking foodies to extreme locations, like Fäviken restaurant in Sweden, which seats fewer than 20 and serves lactic-acid-fermented turnips.

EXTREMELY LOCAL FOOD

At the same time, urbanites are trying to go back to the land. Hayseed’s Big City Farm Supply opened a pop-up in Brooklyn to offer tips and gear for rooftop gardening, beekeeping, and backyard livestock. Got a brown thumb? Yeah, there’s a gadget or app for that. Foraging is another option. This year, we also noshed a bit along the Delaware River, gathering edible weeds with Tama Matsuoka Wong of Meadows+More, which supplies the wild plants that keep the flavors fresh at Daniel restaurant in Manhattan.

Microdistillers are also adding local flavor to restaurants’ cocktail menus, now that there’s no stigma against vodka from Brooklyn, not Moscow, or whiskey from Colorado, not Kentucky. Winemaking too could be moving closer to the East Coast, we heard from Michael Albin of Hudson Wine Merchants. Global warming has wineries fighting over vineyard land that will be in the right climate zones in the future.

THE CELEBRITY FARMER?

In fact, the climate may change a lot about food production in the coming years, a fact hammered home by this summer’s devastating drought. Those who focus on hunger and poverty issues already know that mankind will need to harvest more crops (or plant calorie-rich ones like cassava or bananas instead of corn), more efficiently. We currently lose a third of food to waste and spoilage from farm to fork. The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization projects we’ll need 70 percent more food by 2050 to feed a growing global population.

This is the crux of a complex debate around agriculture, science, health, and hunger that reached fever pitch this year when Stanford University published a study that found little evidence of health benefits from organic foods. The pro-organics crowd countered that organic isn’t about boosting vitamins, but reducing chemicals—and it’s better for the planet. The argument spiraled out into what is “organic” or “sustainable,” and whether genetically modified seeds are Frankencrops or our salvation. And so the debate goes.

It’s going to take food pioneers, like those Mark Bittman found in the Central Valley of California, to create harvests that are hearty, healthy, polycultural—and not harmful to the planet. Well, we already make celebrities out of chefs, ’wichcraft co-founder and CEO Jeffrey Zurofsky told the Zeitguide. Maybe now it’s the farmer’s turn.

  SCIENCE, MEDICINE & WELLBEING  

“HOLY COW, IT’S GLOBAL WARMING!” we overheard a young woman exclaim as the wind nearly picked up her and her umbrella during the Nov. 8 nor’easter.

So add one more American to the 68 percent of ordinary people (as compared with 98 percent of climate scientists) who are convinced that climate change is real—and it’s a bitch. Hurricane Sandy could be just an example of what’s to come. A recent report for Munich Re (PDF executive summary here), the German reinsurance giant, states that North America, with its large coastal populations, could be particularly vulnerable to weather-related insurance losses.

Climate change also does worse things than generate heat waves in Texas and snowfall in South Africa. It’s contributing to an estimated 400,000 deaths a year as well as erasing 1.6 percent of global GDP, and the brunt of global warming’s toll falls on the developing world, according to one report. And yet all the U.N. has managed so far is to offer slowly sinking islands a payout as it starts thinking about another treaty. Meanwhile, our planet is on track to heat up 7.2 degrees by the end of the century.

A NEW INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

Some hold out hope that there is a technological solution to global warming. If so, progress may come in incremental 1 percent improvements, as suggested by GE in a study of the productivity and efficiency gains to be realized by the Industrial Internet. The concept is that sensors, automation, and predictive analytics can keep everything from power plants to CT scanners running more smoothly. Just a 1 percent gain in efficiency in the industrial sector would add up to billions of dollars in savings over the next 15 years.

It’s the same type of efficiency equation that has thousands of people buying $250 Nest “smart” thermostats, which self-program by studying their owner’s habits and correlating them to large sets of user data, weather forecasts, and more. That’s big data and the Industrial Internet reducing your power bill.

Overall, though, Clean Tech had a tough year with fewer new companies gaining backing and a number of big bankruptcies. Still, many are excited about the IPO of SolarCity, the solar panel install-lease company cofounded by Elon Musk of PayPal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX fame.

MINING SPACE, OWNING OCEANS

Although all the space news this year was dominated by the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars, there’s also some sky gazing focused closer to our home planet. A group of mega-millionaires including Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, and James Cameron recently backed Planetary Resources Inc., a venture to mine asteroids for precious metals and rare earth minerals used in batteries and electronics. The two-year countdown to step one—launching a bunch of telescopes to size up the 1,500 possible targets—has begun. Maybe once they are up there, NASA will drum up some excitement for President Obama’s idea to send astronauts to asteroids.

A plan to stake a claim to earth’s oceans has a decidedly more metaphorical framework. The TerraMar Project, cooked up by one of our friends, Ghislaine Maxwell, is a nonprofit Web-based initiative to get everyone more invested in the plight of the oceans. Users can “friend” a species or claim a patch of ocean as their own and promise to defend it. Oceans absorb 26 percent of the carbon in the atmosphere, create 98 percent of our rainfall, feed almost 3 billion people daily, and produce more than half of the oxygen we breathe. And yet only 2 percent of our oceans are protected.

TARGETED ATTACKS  

It seems like every week there’s a new story about what causes or prevents cancer. But how great was it to learn of the benefits of resveratrol—that is, the stuff from grape skins, which is found in red wine. Researchers at the University of Leicester, using laboratory models, have found that the daily amount of resveratrol equivalent to two glasses of wine can halve the growth rate of bowel tumors.

One of the most hopeful developments at this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology conference was the progress on smart bomb drugs. Unlike traditional forms of chemotherapy that ravage the whole body, smart bomb drugs deliver the cell-killing treatment to only the cancer cells, not the healthy ones. Developed by Roche’s Genentech, T-DM1 is one such drug and is composed of two parts, antibodies and cancer fighting toxins. The laced antibodies latch onto a cancer-cell receptor and the cell responds by absorbing the antibody and breaking it down. As the antibody combusts, the toxin attached to it attacks the cell from the inside out—without damaging healthy cells and causing side effects.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are also using genetic engineering to fight cancer, in this case employing a disabled HIV virus to program a patient’s own T cells to attack B cells, a normal part of the immune system that turn malignant in leukemia. The process is harrowing, but has created complete remission in a number of cases. Novartis is backing the development of the treatment. Even as individualized as it is, it’s still far cheaper than a bone marrow transplant.

Some security and biology experts worry that these increasingly individualized treatments could also be turned into personalized bioweapons, such as viruses designed to target specific genetic vulnerabilities—say, in a world leader. A synthetically engineered virus might cost only a few thousand dollars to generate. This story in The Atlantic by Andrew Hessel, Marc Goodman and Steven Kotler, on the threads of science that could lead to bio-hacking the president, reads like a paranoid spy thriller, but synthetic biology (or synbio) is undeniably a genie that is out of the bottle.

WELLBEING  

The jury’s still out on whether the Quantified Self movement, the drive to “track everything” from sleep cycles to bowel movements that we wrote about in last year’s Zeitguide, is leading to better health or just more hypochondriacs. But if it’s the latter, the DSM, psychiatry’s guidebook to mental disorders, will be right there to catch up in about 20 years.

When the last edition of the DSM came out in 1994, the Internet was in its infancy. But when the DSM-5 (officially: the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) arrives in May 2013, it’s likely to include Internet Use Disorder—Internet addiction—along with a host of other hotly debated amendments. Asperger’s syndrome and dyslexia will disappear, to be folded into broader categories encompassing “autism spectrum disorder” and learning disorders. “Gender identity disorder” will become “gender dysphoria” to shed the negative spin of the word disorder.

What other disorders, er … issues are we wrestling with?

BUSY, ANXIOUS, AND LONELY

Much of the national wellness conversation was about breaking the distraction habit (see “Internet Use Disorder” above) and finding focus. As Peter Bregman put it, “The faster the waves come, the more deliberately we need to navigate.” His advice? Just say no. Decide what deserves attention, and also what to ignore.

Psychologist Sherry Turkle placed her attention on in-person human interaction—and unplugged solitude. Gadgets and social networks provide us with the “illusion of companionship without the demands of a relationship,” she wrote. “But constant Internet access isn’t the same as human connection. And if we find it impossible to be alone with our thoughts, then we will never know how to be solitary and we will always be lonely.”

The fact is, the “busy trap,” which Tim Kreider described so well, is near ubiquitous. (How are you? Crazy busy!) And so is the anxiety that both produces and results from it. Dan Smith, author of “Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety,” has a counterintuitive spin on what’s perpetuating this national disquiet: We’re too lazy to change the behavior and situations that agitate us. “Anxiety may come on like an affliction,” he wrote, “but it persists due to habit.”

Fortunately, we can form new habits. A brain-science spin made “habits” a best-seller-list buzzword, as Charles Duhigg tracked the neurobiology behind how cues, routines, and rewards etch their way onto our basal ganglia and drive what we do—often without our conscious participation. One takeaway: The brain alters throughout life based on our experiences, and we all have the neuroplasticity to change—for better or for worse.

THE POWER OF NEGATIVE THINKING

Positive psychology, which emphasizes such activities as keeping gratitude journals, is ever popular. But positive fantasies can be problematic, Gabriele Oettingen’s psychology lab at New York University found. Students who fantasized about winning an essay contest had less energy afterward than those who didn’t fantasize. Enter the power of negative thinking. Oettingen and partners found that imagining obstacles helps people think through them in a practical, strategic way. Her team calls this method “mental contrasting”—setting a goal and direction, while simultaneously acknowledging your limits and the hurdles you’re likely to face. Another grounded view of the less-than-sunny side of life: Oliver Burkeman’s “The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking.”

There’s no reason, however, to feel negative if you wake up in the middle of the night—it might not be panic that’s breaking up your sleep cycle. Scientists and historians are discovering that humans, when given the chance, will sleep in segments. As we redefine the way the world works, perhaps we should redefine the way we think of sleep.

There was also good news about depression. Studies of a club drug, ketamine, which can produce hallucinations, delirium, and “pleasant dream-like states,” opened new avenues into treating depression: by speedily repairing mood-regulating brain cells damaged by stress. Yale neurobiologist Ron Duman told NPR that discovering how ketamine spurs synapse growth is the “biggest finding in the field over the last 50 years”—with the potential to offer relief to the one-third of people with depression who aren’t helped by SSRIs.

  ART  

It was Mother Nature that roiled New York’s high-end art world this year, pouring floodwaters into the galleries of Chelsea and scrawling “Sandy was here” high-water marks 5 feet up the walls. Elsewhere—in fact everywhere—the definitions that have long structured the art world were warping.

IDENTITY MELTDOWN

Museums, galleries, and auction houses began to look more and more alike, swapping functions, talent, art, and marketing strategies. Matisse could still surprise and pull in the crowds at the Met, but the star of the Los Angeles art world was a street-crawling 340-ton rock.

As the word “curator” became ubiquitous (a consequence of needing filters and frames in a world oversaturated with images and ideas, said one of the art world’s pre-eminent curators, Hans Ulrich Obrist), museums struggled to sort out what role such professionals would play in the future. Put artwork in a new perspective and context, as always? Or just find the next pop culture/celebrity/crowd-pleasing spectacle? The angst-y identity crisis played out at MOCA in Los Angeles, where Soho gallerist-turned-museum-director Jeffrey Deitch ushered out chief curator Paul Schimmel and said he’d handle the job (with freelance help) himself. Artists and philanthropists howled. What’s a museum for and who should decide? Scholars? Ex-art dealers? Maxwell Anderson, the Director of the Dallas Museum of Art decided a museum is for the public and, starting January 2013, there will be no longer be a general admission fee.

THE  ITUNES OF ART?

Gallerists are also trying to find their way—to more buyers. No one’s yet discovered the magic tech key, but a half dozen notable companies, including Art.sy, the Pandora-like startup with an “art genome” project; 20 x 200; Artspace.com; and Grey Area are looking for ways to make art collecting more—and less—like buying a pair of jeans that fit at Gap.com. Brooklyn-based Artsicle tried a high-tech/high-touch combo, posting works by emerging artists on its site, then renting the art itself for $25 to $65 a month. Could budget collectors be heading toward a Spotify model, in which we pay for ongoing access but not permanent ownership? Maybe. But whether or not the art world moves online or not, there’s no doubt that artists are approaching the internet and social media as a medium. Bettina Korek of ForYourArt reports to the Zeitguide, “Artists are intentionally creating bugs, re-contextualizing its iconography, hijacking walls and over-sharing.” Kudos to our friend Elana Rubinfeld from Yossi Milo Gallery who organized 'The Skin We're In' show on the relationship between technology and art.

EXCESS OR AESTHETICS?

The “1 percent” was certainly buying outright. The world of “high art” zoomed on, fed by billionaire-class art buyers whose appetites drove auction sales of blue-chip works to new highs. Art Basel had $2 billion in works for sale in June. “The Scream” went for a record $120 million at Sotheby’s, and Gerhard Richter’s stock shot up yet again when his 1994 “Abstraktes Bild (809-4),” sold there for $34.2 million, the highest price ever for a work by a living artist. Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips de Pury all saw larger sales numbers than ever before despite (or because of?) the global economic instability. Let’s face it—people have to put their money somewhere other than the stock market, right?

Prices like that aren’t about aesthetics or “building a diversified investment portfolio.” As Adam Davidson put it in The New York Times, fine art signals wealth. “High prices are, quite literally, central to the signal—you don’t spend $120 million to show that you’re a savvy investor who’s hoping to flip a Munch for $130 million. You’re spending $120 million, in part, to show that you can blow $120 million on something that can’t possibly be worth that much in any marketplace.”

The backlash from the critics reached its apex around Art Basel in Miami. In a special edition before the fair, The Art Newspaper wrote about the balance of art and money, explaining how some claim “that the high prices being spent on art invite trophy-hunters and oligarch investors, not serious appreciation.” Collector Jason Rubell responded: “It’s an industry that without commerce doesn’t exist.”

Not everyone wanted to stay to see how it all turns out: Our favorite art critic/MacArthur genius, Dave Hickey, called it quits, saying, “The art world has turned nasty for some reason and my gentility has come out of the closet.” And Italian sculptor Maurizio Cattelan hung it up as well in a most literal way: with a 120-piece career recap, all of it suspended by cables in the rotunda of the Guggenheim in Manhattan.

Perhaps because we’re floating in a sea of fleeting digital experiences, it was that type of tangible, physical art that spoke to us most loudly. Permanent cultural artifacts, such as Peter Coffin’s whimsical sculpture at Venus Over Manhattan, still resonate and engage. It’s not about price tags, but expression. If there aren’t audiences to see/listen, there isn’t really art. The true curator, meaning maker, and arbiter of value? You.

  EDUCATION  

WHEN IT COMES to getting young people into and through college, the U.S. is starting to lag behind other developed countries, even though we spend a comparable amount of our GDP on education, and our teachers spend significantly more time in classrooms. That’s the bad news from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) annual education report.

The good news is that we’re leading the world in innovation in higher education.

'SOCIAL' STUDIES AND ROCK STAR PROFS

More than half of millennials have taken a class online, a number likely to grow as the cost of college keeps spiraling upward. Particularly confident students are “hacking” their education, blending some campus time, online classes, travel, internships, and more. They’re finding support through groups such as UnCollege, Zero Tuition College, Enstitute, and for the enterprising “20 under 20,” the $100,000 Thiel Fellowship.

And, of course, free MOOCs, or massive open online courses, are leading the biggest shake-up in higher ed since coed dorms. The potential to reach thousands of students—globally, more than 2 million tried out a MOOC last year—is forging joint ventures among Harvard, MIT, and Berkeley (EdX); sparking Silicon Valley startups (Udacity and Coursera); and prodding a rethink of dusty continuing education programs. There’s already a Yelp-like service called CourseTalk to help navigate the MOOC offerings.

The looming questions: Will such online classes mean fewer and fewer teens ever step foot on campus? Some American university presidents are already wringing their hands about reduced diversity of thought if tens of thousands take the exact same economics class. Others see the bottom dropping out of the market for lower-tier colleges if non-degree MOOC certificates achieve a certain cachet. The Guardian summed up the attitude this way: “If students can learn in their pajamas with academic stars for nothing, why would they pay fees … for a normal university course?”

Devil’s advocate and Duke engineering Dean Tom Katsouleas suggested that online learning could help universities by giving professors “rock star status.” He thought the popularity of teaching online would make the live experience more desirable: After all, people will pay $10 for a CD, but $100 for concert tickets. But will they take on $27,000 in debt? Plus, there’s a converse risk: Will professors who thrill at teaching 100,000 students go back to 12-person seminars? Or will they leave to build their own online academy like Sebastian Thrun, robotics expert and Google vice president, who gave up teaching at Stanford to co-found Udacity.

ON THE FLIP SIDE

Online learning isn’t for everyone. In fact, students (so far) rarely learn as much online as they do in a classroom, according to this Department of Education report. A “blended learning environment” where technology is combined with traditional teaching was found most effective, which is why MOOCs are being paired with in-person classes as part of “Hybrid Programs.”

This “hybrid” model is the calling card of nonprofit Khan Academy, which offers a series of math, science, and other instructional videos on YouTube. The concept, called flipping” the classroom, is simple: Students watch the videos at their own pace (or as homework), and then classroom time is spent on one-on-one tutoring and group activities. Turning homework into class work completely redefines the interaction between student and teacher. Could it work for college too? Some students are already skipping lectures and tuning in to a lecture on iTunes U instead. In other words, college may already be starting to hew toward Sal Khan’s vision as outlined in his book, “The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined”—a university that combines online lectures with seminars, mentoring, and internships.

REQUIRED READING?

What’s funny is how stubbornly old-fashioned textbooks seem in the face of all this change. In a world in which multimedia is the message, shouldn’t e-books be self-updating and have the ability to share passages, notate, read aloud, and more? A survey by Bookboon.com found that 58 percent of American students would prefer to do their required reading on e-readers or tablets, but for the fall 2011 semester only 5 percent of textbook sales were for digital versions. We might skip right ahead to open-source online books like those proposed in California. But it seems that soon the mix of videos, slides, tests, and social interactivity that constitutes this new type of “course” will emerge as a learning medium unto itself.

  LEADERSHIP  

Zeitguide to QUALITIES OF THE 21ST CENTURY LEADER  

1. CREATIVITY

The simplest business formula is new ideas = money. But innovation isn’t the province of a “creative class.” A friend, branding consultant Jasmine Takanikos, recommended John Hunt’s book, “The Art of the Idea,” and it quickly became a favorite. To spark and capture ideas, Hunt wrote, organizations shouldn’t charge certain people with being creative, but should establish an environment that promotes original thinking by everyone.

2. AGILITY

What fueled success in the past won’t propel you through the future. Alexander Grashow, who designs executive leadership training programs, told the Zeitguide that “rather than getting stuck re-enacting the past, the ability to adapt, to grow out of our old ways of working and living, is critical.” That means more than rolling with the punches, but leaning into change. Fast Company magazine captured this trait in the article “This Is Generation Flux”: What defines GenFlux is a mindset that embraces instability, that tolerates—and even enjoys—recalibrating careers, business models, and assumptions.

3. FOCUS

IPhones and Androids beep and buzz to alert us to something, and our brains crave that neural stimulation like a drug. But slowing down, even to the point of doing nothing, is vital. Deep thought is slow thought, as Pico Iyer noted in a New York Times op-ed titled “The Joy of Quiet.” Iyer also recounted this knowing observation by Henry David Thoreau: “The man whose horse trots a mile in a minute does not carry the most important messages.”

4. BALANCE

It was Eli Pariser, one of the founding brains involved with MoveOn.org, who brought our attention to how Google tailors search results to what it thinks we want based on past clicks and searches. This 'Filter Bubble' dangerously isolates users from contrary viewpoints, the information-media equivalent of being surrounded by yes men. Clay Johnson, author of “The Information Diet,” argues that we all need to be more selective—or at least more conscious—about what we feed our brains. But that is particularly true for business leaders who need an extensive base of balanced knowledge.

5. BROAD-MINDEDNESS

Diversity in the 21st century is not just about gender or ethnicity, but also generations, point of view, background, and experience. Great business leaders harness diverse perspectives to arrive at superior decisions. As McKinsey Quarterly reported: Companies with diverse boards have higher earnings and returns on equity.

6. CATALYZES CHANGE

Individual achievement isn’t the same as progress. Today’s leaders must leverage any success to transform it into systemic change. “We live in a world of possibilities governed by archaic systems such as inefficient financial markets, top-down development assistance, and linear educational models,” Blair Miller, vice president of MDG Health Alliance, told us. “This paradigm is paralyzing our global growth. We need leaders with analytical thinking combined with imagination and unrelenting courage to redefine these systems.” She suggests reading, “Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System," by the late environmental activist, Donella Meadows.

7. CAN SAY NO

Those who don’t learn to say no find themselves spread thin, stuck toiling on things they don’t believe in, and not doing their best work. As marketing guru Seth Godin pointed out, “Saying no to loud people gives you the resources to say yes to important opportunities.” The logical extension of that is knowing when to say “no more.” Those who will succeed know when to pull the plug on major projects, and even admit to themselves when their own productivity drops off each day.

  EPILOGUE  

TO BE SURE, 2012 was not an easy year. But we hope you found the previous Zeitguide a worthy companion on the journey (and feel free to take a print copy of this Zeitguide along for the next year as well). We certainly appreciated the opportunity to learn from you and discover new things on your behalf.

Big decisions were reached in 2012—and not just about a presidency, but also about how we would handle (or embrace) the natural and technological disruptions that have been washing over us. Still, deciding is only a first step. In 2013, we’ll make good on those resolutions. We’ll do what we set out to do.

2013 is the year of action.

@Zeitguide, #Zeitguide2013

Special thanks to Scott Grossman, Jay Strell, Elana Rubinfeld, Robin Rauzi, Donna Frazier Glynn, Sheri Gordon, and all the cultural leaders we’ve learned from this year.

"Zeitguides" Illustrated by JT Waldman. Starring Brad Grossman, Gigi Swift, Ari Kepnes, Sean Jaques, David Graver & Monika Davies
  Appendix A ~ Zeitguide Friends  

We couldn’t be great Zeitguides if it weren't for our amazing friends. So, to round out our Zeitguide lesson, we’ve asked some of them to share their own thoughts.

Finance & Business

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A POTENTIAL INVESTMENT PARTNER by Kirsten Green, Founder of Forerunner Ventures, whose investments include Birchbox, Bonobos, Chloe & Isabel, Cleanwell, Serena & Lily, Wantful, and Warby Parker

  • Magnetic leadership that skillfully balances vision with discipline.
  • Enviable competitive edge driven by customer experience that never ceases to delight and surprise.
  • Inspirational brand that tells a story and becomes a part of our everyday life.
  • Innate ability to foster community and drive obsessive engagement and loyalty.
  • Undeniable devotion to (unique) products that resonate with today's savvy consumers.
  • Knows customers intimately through tangible, trackable actions and data.
  • Uses insights to deliver superior customer experiences and realize meaningful operational efficiencies.

THE TWO BIG INVESTMENT THEMES OF THE YEAR by Scott Grossman, Portfolio Manager

  • Low Hanging Fruit: Your portfolio likely has meaningful exposure to Apple given it represents 17% of the Nasdaq 100 and nearly 5% of the S&P 500. Given that it’s down 25% since its peak, many are scratching their heads. Perhaps Apple’s “monopoly on innovation” has become marginalized—compare the first iPod of 2001 vs. the first iPhone in 2007 vs. the iPhone 5. With the iPod, the competition never caught up and Apple not only disrupted how we listened to music, but also how we bought it (iTunes). With the iPhone, each new version is inevitably more similar than the last while the competition inches closer with a cheaper alternative. And the core software ecosystem feels threatened, when was the last time you bought a song from iTunes since Spotify took off? Less “relative innovation” means more competition, which may mean lower margins leading to lower profits, which invariably means lower stock price. Is the stock “cheap” here? Probably, but cheap can get cheaper—just look at Dell, HP, and Microsoft this year. What’s next for Apple? Since most hedge funders wildly underestimated the impact of the iPad on how media is consumed, they likely will drastically underestimate Apple’s next splash, rumored to be the Apple TV. Trust us, it won’t just be a TV with an Apple logo on it.
  • Paralysis by Analysis: A common theme heard all year from management teams is that there is so much uncertainty in the world—Eurozone austerity, SCOTUS, US Election, China slowdown, Fiscal cliff, and unemployment. “We don’t know the rules yet” was a tagline of so many CEOs I visited with this year. Frankly, I’m sick of hearing it. Because of this uncertainty, most companies acted like zombies: they hoarded cash, refused to hire meaningfully, and didn’t make any major strategic bets by buying other companies or rewarding shareholders. However, the “chosen few” that took measured strategic gambles, such as transformative mergers, were highly rewarded by Wall Street. Why? Because they are taking destiny in their hands and should demonstrate outsized growth...a critical factor investors crave. In 2013, companies have fewer excuses—it’s time to act. Look for bigger and better M&A especially after the Fiscal Cliff is resolved.

FINANCIAL FINDINGS by Alexa Von Tobel, Founder of LearnVest.com

  • Constant Access: We're used to having everything we want, when we want it. Instant gratification is everywhere we look. And that mentality is seeping into our finances. There are now endless tools (including LearnVest's app) that allow you to see your entire financial life, in real-time, wherever you are. Instead of just thinking about your money when bills are due or around tax time, there's a new sense of consistency. Overall: a big win for consumers.
  • Banks, Re-imagined: The 99% certainly created a wave of anti-big bank sentiments, and there has been much innovation from both established players reinventing themselves and new banks popping onto the scene. Simple (formerly Bank Simple), for example, has a robust web experience and places customer service above all. We've also seen a huge surge in the popularity of credit unions. In a Yelp-era, customer experience has become key, so hidden fees and plummeting interest rates won't always cut it.
  • Hit the Books: Personal finance education has been overwhelmingly ignored in our school systems (a 2006 study found that only 14% of students had ever taken a class on the topic). The movement to increase financial education in schools is gaining traction, and there are a number of companies aiming at a younger and younger demographic: kids. From DoughMain to Tykoon to Planet Orange (from ING), we're about to see some financially smart young Americans.
  • Student Loans 2.0: Almost 70% of college grads have student loan debt and the current amount of student loan debt in the US is a whopping $1 TRILLION. This is a massive concern for countless Americans, and while the government wades through proposals to make change, there are alternative solutions cropping up. Especially interesting are peer-to-peer lending companies, such as SoFi, which connects students to alumni investors.
  • New Way to IOU: The act of exchanging cash between two parties is fundamentally changing with the introduction of disruptive technologies. Owe your friend for drinks last night? There's an app for that. Venmo allows you to seamlessly transfer money between friends. And the whole world has become a marketplace with payment processors, like Square, allowing you to bring your credit card to the farmer's market. We've heard it before, but wallets are quickly on their way to becoming obsolete.

Fashion & Design

NINE BUILDINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN 2013 by Chris Barley and Marc Kushner, Architizer

  • One World Trade Center: Formerly know as "The Freedom Tower," this SOM designed tower has secured Condé Nast as its anchor tenant.
  • Taipei Performing Arts Center: This ambitious project, led by OMA partners Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten, generated a lot of debate among architects when it was announced back in 2009 due to its particular form. Morphed by a series of programmatic operations, the form intersects three types of theater in order to accommodate a variety of performances.
  • Miami Art Museum: Herzog & de Meuron's design is comprised of a series of rooms that connect and juxtapose the museum’s many functions: from public to semi-public, permanent to temporary exhibits, and contemplative to educational activities.
  • Beirut Terraces: The building, designed by Herzog & de Meuron will have vegetation on the terraces to provide privacy and in the main entrance space to act as continuation of the neighboring green boulevard.
  • The Broad Museum: Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the art museum will represent the legacy of mega-collector Eli Broad. Located down the street from Frank Gehry's Disney Concert Hall, the building will feature a structural skin that will act as a "veil" filtering natural light into the galleries.
  • Facebook Campus: The design is retro-Gehry, in that it lacks the ebullient curves and willful (but blank) gestures that characterize the architect’s most popular buildings. Instead, the campus consists of one giant Platonic volume spanning 420,000 square feet that’s internally organized into “neighborhoods”; these consist of work pavilions amassed “in curving arcs like swarms of fish” that are set against large feature walls festooned with graffiti and arcade games.
  • Moscow's Mercury Tower: Europe's tallest building, Mercury City was designed by Russian architect Mikhail Posokhin and the late American architect Frank Williams, and is due to be inaugurated in early 2013.
  • Ryugyong Hotel: This North Korean skyscraper hotel has loomed as one of the most famous architectural eyesores for decades. Scheduled to be completed this year, we can expect news that it will be finished in 2013, or at the very least an update on the ongoing gloomy saga.
  • The Court of Justice: Designed by J. Mayer H. architects, the 'Court of Justice,' located in Hasselt, Belgium, is nearing completion. The former railway station is being restructured with a park, public buildings, offices, hotels and residential areas.

DESIGN TRENDS TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN 2013 by Andy Griffith and Rose Apodaca, Global design consultancy and purveyor A+R

  • Design by Democracy: A wider array of products will come to market by way of crowd-funding sources such as QuirkyKickstarterBrikstarter and the like, where supporters vote with their dollar. We’ve already been rolling out such products at A+R and have discovered sharing this backstory about a product emboldens interest in it.
  • Now in 3-D: Just as 3-D technologies are mainstreaming into TV, Internet, video game and mobile devices, the process of HD 3-D printing and rapid prototyping is no longer as cost prohibitive, becoming increasingly available to fledgling artists and designers. Among our best-selling collections is the jewelry of Nervous System, the whimsical clocks of Griffin Young and ornate sculptures by Joshua Harker—all realized and taken to market because of this more accessible technology that is also, critically, not confined by economies of scale.
  • Practically Speaking: Unsteady times continue to fuel an interest in stuff that is made to last (both in terms of style and quality) and boasts a value-driven narrative. Be it a club chair or an iPhone case, consumers increasingly expect to know something about the designer, where the product is made, how it’s made and how these factors impact their own social, environmental and quality concerns. It’s OK if it’s made in China—as long as there is transparency and the factory meets ISO standards; it’s even better if it’s domestically made by artisans and with a low carbon footprint in terms of manufacturing and transport.
  • A Brilliant Future: As for aesthetics, with Pantone, the universal standard bearer for colors, deeming 2013 the year for Emerald Green (like the Zeitguide cover!), designers from the worlds of interiors to fashion to decorative products are seeing green as a jumping off point to other bold gem brights, such as ruby, amethyst, sapphire and citrine.

Marketing & Advertising

TIPS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA by Evan Bailyn, who writes and advises on search engine optimization and social media.

  • Be pointy, not well rounded: If you’re using social media to be seen as a subject matter expert, it is better to focus on one or two things you do exceptionally well rather than being passable on a variety of subjects.
  • Timing is key: People use social media at certain times of the day and week. Post something great on a Friday evening and watch it sink. Post the same thing on a Thursday afternoon, and watch it get tons of comments and shares.
  • Be yourself: As in life, this rule cannot be emphasized enough. It’s difficult to pretend to be someone you’re not, and most likely, people will see through it, anyway.
  • Titles are paramount: The news industry has known this for centuries. Put the right headline on the cover of the paper and readership will increase dramatically. It's the same with titles. Find a way to spice up your title or make it into a mini-cliffhanger. “Never expected to see THIS when I opened my front door this morning” is a great example. Don’t you want to click to find out more?
  • Curate your audience: While much of your social media audience is out of your hands, you can select your own followers by leaving thoughtful comments on people’s pages. Some percentage of these folks will follow you back. Only leave comments on the pages of people who you’d like to have as a follower. Voila!
  • Choose timely topics: One of the clearest conclusions I’ve come to about social media is that articles about current news, events, and occasions perform well. If something just happened and the world is talking about it, take a unique stance and your content will attract a lot of activity.
  • Make your content Google-able: Remember that only public social media content, such as tweets, can be picked up by Google, so if you want people to see your content, consider taking it longer form into a blog. Use a tweet, status update, pin, or what-have-you as the seed for a longer article. I recommend using Wordpress as your blogging platform due to its Google-friendliness.
  • Don’t forget that social media is about socializing: If social media is synonymous with promotion for you, you will not succeed. The medium is about socializing—catching up with friends, sharing interesting articles, and connecting with new people. You can also promote, but make it a secondary function and you’ll reap the rewards.

WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT MEN by Katia Beauchamp, Founder and Co-CEO of Birchbox, a subscription commerce site that delivered high-end curated samples to only women, but now targets male consumers as well.

They…

  • Love to discover: Men are curious and like to learn and be surprised—they aren’t as stubborn and stuck in their ways.
  • Welcome variety: They expect to receive products that will both fit into their lives immediately and push their boundaries.
  • Shop fast: They deliberate less than women, if they find a product that’s an upgrade from the product they’re already using; they’ll go shop for it.
  • Demand exclusivity: Men will share some brands, like Keihls. But usually a product must define itself as a specifically male brand to gain acceptance.
  • Like to be pampered: In the retail environment men are less waited upon than women. So men truly appreciate better service in their home—nice packaging and the process of unwrapping things delight them.
  • Want to look better: Men want to appear pulled together. It’s less about looking on trend, and more about looking deliberate in their choices.

Food & Wine

WINE PICKS FOR 2013 by Michael Albin, Founder of Hudson Wine Merchants

Reds:

  • Oliver Cousin “Yamag” Gamay, Biodynamic, 2011, Loire (about $20)
  • Y. Leccia Patrimonio, 2009, Corsica (about $35)
  • Domaine Magnin Mondeuse, 2010, Vin de Savoie (about $35)
  • Domaine le Sang de Cailloux, 2010, Southern Rhone (about $40)

Whites:

  • Blanc de Morgex Et De La Salle, 2011, Val D'Aoste (about $25)
  • Bisson Bianchetta Genovese, 2011, Italy (about $20)
  • Domaine Rollin Hautes-Cotes De Beaune Bourgogne Blanc, 2009, Burgundy (about $25)
  • Domaine Chevaeau “Las Cras” Pouilly-Fuissé, 2010, Burgundy (about $30)

FOODS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR DIET EVERY WEEK by Jonathan Keltai, Fitness Trainer at David Barton Gym, student of nutrition

  • Tea: Every type of tea has its own benefit, so choose your tea according to your health needs. For instance, black tea has high concentrations of theaflavins and thearubigins, anti-oxidants that have been shown to lower cholesterol.
  • Wild Salmon: Wild Salmon is rich in OMEGA-3s, offering health benefits to both the heart and brain.
  • Spinach or Kale: According to a recent USNEWS report, spinach and kale are good sources of both potassium and calcium.
  • Eggs from Cage-Free Chickens: Humanely produced and with better flavor, cage-free chicken eggs have higher levels of a variety of vitamins and Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
  • Organic Blueberries: Even though there has been much debate surrounding the Stanford Organic Study, blueberries have porous skin and may have high levels of pesticides.

UNUSUAL FOODS I LIKE RIGHT NOW by Sisha Ortuzar, Chef/Partner and Co-Founder of RiverparkRiverpark Farm‘wichcraft

  • Sfoglini: Bronze-die extruded dry pastas, made in Brooklyn.
  • Chilean Merluza: Chile’s most popular fish, also known as Southern Hake.
  • Marblehead Sea Salt: Founded by a young monk using 1,600 year-old techniques, this salt dances across the tongue and then dissolves immediately.
  • Roasted Radishes: Try this recipe we like.
  • Picorocos: The giant barnacles from Chile.
  • Freekeh: First it was couscous, then it was Quinoa, now its Freekeh.

TWO GREAT COCKTAIL RECIPES by Peter Simon & Tea Fougner, Brooklyn-based Industry City Distillery

  • Industry Martini:

3 oz ICD vodka
1/4 oz dry Riesling (or dry vermouth for a more traditional martini)
2 drops bitters (not dashes--drops! We recommend Cocktail Kingdom
Wormwood Bitters for this drink, but you can use whatever is available.)

1. Pour the Riesling into a chilled cocktail glass and swirl until glass is well-coated, discard the remaining Riesling.
2. Stir vodka over ice and strain into cocktail glass.
3. Add bitters and enjoy!

  • Industry Brooklyn: A variation on the classic Brooklyn cocktail made with ICD vodka instead of whiskey.

1 1/2 oz Industry City Distillery Vodka
1/2 oz dry vermouth (Tea uses Dolin's)
1/4 oz Bittermens Amère Nouvelle (Amer Picon is also good)
1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino

1. Stir all liquid ingredients in a tall glass with ice.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass.
3. Garnish with orange peel.

Science, Medicine & Wellbeing

LIFE CHANGES WITH A NEWBORN by Ben Borton, Principal at Mountaineer Partners and new father

  • Communicating without words: I've been blown away by how much my son can communicate without words. The lack of words is more than compensated for by the absence of deception or social pretense.
  • Thinking from the standpoint of another: We all have some capacity for empathy, but there is something about empathizing with a being without prior experience that reveals your own assumptions.
  • Pondering sleep: Your own and that of your child.
  • Heightened awareness of other children: They are everywhere and all of a sudden they are very relevant.
  • Discovery of singing: Infants like to be sung to. You find yourself singing songs you had no idea you knew and making up others.

THE COOLEST ATTRIBUTES OF SPORTS by Lindsay Fitz, Director of Talent Management & Strategy, Discovery and TLC Networks

  • Not polarizing: Sports provide a conversation topic that is passionate, yet not polarizing or demeaning. While politics and other current affairs topics seek to create harsh dividing lines between people, sports can be a platform to bring people together across all socioeconomic and demographic barriers. We can all agree on a good offense.
  • Role Models: Seeing fresh faces and men of strong character in the NFL, like Redskins’ QB Robert Griffin III (RGIII), reminds us of the power of sports to influence youth and positively effect change across all ages and races.
  • Family Moments: Sports is one of the only events that not only consistently creates mass audiences, but also provides an opportunity for families to gather together to watch programming that is acceptable for all ages.
  • Water Cooler Conversation: I just started a new job, and was again reminded of the power of sports to create alliances and friendships. Identifying myself as a Steelers fan early on, I started meeting people quickly and received a lot of trash talk from local Ravens and Redskins fans about my team, but these relationships started earlier and with colleagues of all levels by leading my initial conversation with sports.
  • Fashion: Finally, teams started making apparel for women and to appropriately fit women. I never wore a team jersey or team t-shirts because they were made for men and looked like pajamas on me. Now, with team apparel designed for women, you see a lot more female fans representing their teams in officially licensed for-women products.
  • OKC Thunder: The perfect example of a scrappy, small market team that has found success with lesser-known players (though, guys like Kevin Durant are quickly becoming superstars), and embracing their city and fans. OKC doesn’t have a big budget, but they have moved deeper into the NBA Playoffs every year since they moved the franchise from Seattle—last year playing in the NBA Championship. A great example of professional sports developing leaders and contributing to their community.
  • Ultimate Satisfaction: Your team can disappoint season after season, but when they do win, it is the BEST feeling in the world, and worth all the years of disappointment (it is for my teams, at least).

TOP APPS FOR GREATER PRODUCTIVITY by Ari Meisel, Founder of LessDoing.com, who calls himself an Achievement Architect

  • Followup.cc: Creates automatic follow-up reminders by adding simply coded followup.cc addresses in the cc (for public) or bcc (for private) fields of your emails.
  • Bill Guard: Deploys the same measures that banks use to send immediate alerts about possible fraudulent credit card use to your phone.
  • Amazon.com Subscribe and Save: Provides free shipping and discounts on select items that are sent to subscribers on a monthly basis (think pet food, toilet paper, etc.)
  • Fiverr: An online bulletin board (think Craigslist), where users can offer and request services for $5.
  • Fancy Hands: A subscription base service that allows companies to conveniently source tasks from its pool of over one thousand assistants starting at $25/month for 5 tasks.
  • TaskRabbit An online bulletin board that provides background checked assistants who complete posted tasks at the posted price.
  • Evernote: A free app that allows its users to save any source of inspiration (text, video, image) into a database that can be searched and accessed from multiple devices (think post-it-notes)
  • Ifttt: A service that allows its users to create simply coded “Recipes” (think hacks) that execute custom “Actions” (think responses) to social media and email “Triggers” (think alerts) such as a friend request on Facebook or an email from the user's boss.
  • iDoneThis: Creates a daily digest that reviews everything accomplished by each member of an office team or small company and allows managers to acknowledge team members for their daily contributions for only $5/month per team member.
  • Talkto: Facilitates business-to-consumer communication by allowing its users to easily contact all of its subscribed business via text message.

WAYS FOR THE ARTIST TYPE TO THINK OF “TRAINING” by Luis Monteagudo, Artist and Fitness Enthusiast

  • Passive visualization: Paint a visual picture of what it is you want for yourself.
  • Active visualization: See yourself doing the work to make that happen.
  • Time realization/present awareness: Think about how much time you have spent with the body you have.
  • Reflect: Review your daily habits, and take a moment to realize how that's contributed to the state of being in which you find yourself now.
  • Question: Ask yourself as honestly and as free of ego as possible this question: "Am I able to take the action necessary to create the body I want?"
  • Act: When you can honestly answer yes, take a fresh look at your visual picture and make a plan of action to achieve it.
  • Long-term Focus: Then, get to work and commit to the self for the rest of your life.
  • Refresh: When you find yourself hitting a plateau or at a sticking point, start over fresh.

TOP 5 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT YOUR DOG by David Muriello, School Director at the national school for aspiring dog trainers, Catch Canine Trainers Academy

  • He is a wolf: All dogs descended from wolves and can still breed with their wild ancestors to produce wolf-dog hybrids (keep a fence if you live in Montana). Whether you have a Chihuahua or a German Shepherd, the instincts to chase, grab, and kill prey are strongly wired into your dog. That’s why your little Yorkie can shake the life out of a sock like it’s nobody’s business.
  • He doesn’t know right from wrong. Dogs are amoral. They only care whether things are harmless or harmful, not right or wrong. Most dog owners think they see a guilty look when they come home to a mess the dog made. This look (ears back, head lowered, eyes averted) is actually an appeasement signal used to calm an angry packmate (you). A dog can see when you are angry and it wants to keep you from carrying out any physical harm. He dog doesn’t know he did something wrong, only that there is a scary, threatening human in the room who needs to chill.
  • He bonds to you because he is made to bond. Wolves in the wild are highly social. They form family units, bonding strongly to help each other with survival tasks like hunting and raising pups. Your dog may not need to help you hunt for your paycheck, but he is still genetically programmed to bond to a family. You fulfill a huge natural need for this. Why do you think new dogs howl like that when you leave the house? Although many dogs learn to accept it gracefully, it is against their nature to be left alone.
  • He is not trying to be dominant. Dogs aren’t looking to take over your world (although as a species they are remarkably good at getting us to spend a lot of money on them). Dog behavior is very rarely driven by a desire to gain increased status in your “pack.” Dogs behave according to the basic laws of learning that B.F. Skinner documented in 1938 – behaviors that get rewarded get repeated. If sitting by the table at dinnertime leads to getting table scraps, expect the dog to sit there again and again. It's the same deal for any behavior that works. Don’t assume your dog is trying to increase his status. He is much more likely repeating a behavior that has been rewarded in the past, or he is carrying out one of those natural behaviors he inherited from his wolf ancestors – chasing, chewing, marking territory – this is all part of the natural package. No dominance schemes are needed to explain these behaviors.
  • He sees through his nose. Pick up a stick in the woods, tease your dog with it, and then throw it off the trail into a random pile of sticks and leaves. Your dog will be able to find the stick you threw in under a minute, every time. Such a task is nothing for an animal that has 40 times more scent receptors in their nose than we do and an area of their brain dedicated to scent that is 4 times larger than ours. Watch your dog sniff and try to imagine what he sees – on the ground, in the air – stories of all the people and animals that have been there in the past few days, weeks,even months. Through their noses, our dogs are “seeing” a world of stories that is invisible to us.

SEVEN SIMPLE STRESS-REDUCING BEHAVIORS by Steven Tan, Specialist in Integrative and Stress Medicine

  • Sleep: Getting a good night’s rest boosts our body’s ability to handle the physical rigors of the day ahead and gives us greater mental and emotional resilience as well. Most studies that have shown the benefits of sleep for things such as headaches, pain, immune function and blood pressure use a minimum of 6-7 hours of sleep as the healthy cut-off.
  • Stress-Resilient Eating:
    • Boost your antioxidant intake. Stress is a source of damaging free radicals. Diets high in antioxidants can help protect us from the harmful effects of these free radicals. To this end, eat more fruits, vegetables, fish and nuts.
    • Avoid inflammatory foods. Key culprits are simple starches and dairy. Instead, cook with spices such as turmeric, ginger and black pepper, all of which have strong anti-inflammatory properties.
    • Moderate your alcohol. Though alcohol can give us a transient feeling of reprieve from our stressful lives, it interrupts restorative sleep and strains our liver’s detoxifying efficiency.
  • Breathe: One subconscious reaction to stress is that our breaths become more quick and shallow. Slow down the breath by taking full, slow inhalations. This expands the chest and loosens up a tense back. And, if you’re skillful enough to get your respiratory rate down to 5 or 6 breaths a minute, you’ll also lower your blood pressure.
  • Meditate: Meditation is calisthenics for the brain. There are many different ways to exercise our mind through meditation with the ultimate goal of calming our over stimulated neurons and achieving greater mental and emotional resilience to stress. Popular forms of meditation include mindfulness (e.g., Zen), mantra-based (e.g., transcendental), imagery (e.g., body scans), breath control and prayer.
  • Exercise: Physical activity helps to expend the stress hormones that flood our body during times of stress in a beneficial way. Do what you enjoy, whether it’s cardio or weights. Also consider exercises that work on stretching, flexibility and breathing, such as yoga or tai chi.
  • Play more: One thing that gets quickly sacrificed when we’re feeling pressured with deadlines and other crises is play time. This perpetuates a state of mind and body where we’re in constant “fight or flight” mode. Engaging in recreation—be it gardening, fixing the car or reading a book—naturally transitions our body from our stressed-out mode to our relaxation mode.
  • Socialize: Studies show that people with stronger social support networks enjoy better quality of life as well as better health outcomes. Part of this is attributed to the benefits that supportive relationships provide during stressful life experiences such as losses, struggles and tragedies. Surround yourself in the company of people who provide a source of comfort and support, and be quick to avoid those who tend to be sources of stress.

Education

THE MOST IMPORTANT QUALITY IN A STUDENT by Victoria Gray, Founder of Adventures of the Mind, achievement-focused mentoring summit for top high school students

  • People often equate being a good student with being a successful adult—they tell their kids to work hard, stay organized, be curious, and take on extra projects outside an immediate area of interest. While these behaviors are helpful, Gray believes that what is most important is not being afraid to fail.

Leadership

POLITICIANS TO WATCH by Marc Adelman, Washington’s Political Yenta

  Appendix B ~ Top Pops  

This section is for those of you who want to go straight to the source, without all the chattering. Follow these links to find the best of today's pop culture:

Box Office (via IMDb)

Opening This Week (via IMDb)

Top Cable TV Shows (via TV by the Numbers)

Top Broadcast TV Shows (via TV by the Numbers)

Most DVR-ed TV Shows (via TV by the Numbers)

Best-Selling Books (via The New York Times)

Most Downloaded Music (via Billboard)

Best-Selling Albums (via Billboard)

Best-Selling Digital Albums (via Billboard)

Top Facebook Fan Sites (via Fan Page List)

Top Twitter Users (via Fan Page List)

Best-Selling Video Games (via VGChartz)

Twitter Trends (via WhatTheTrend)

Top 100 Blogs (via Technorati)

Google Trends

Most Popular Viral Video Ads (via Ad Age)

Most Popular Apps (via AppData)

Top YouTube Channels (via StatSheep)