Professional SpotlightSpotlight

When we first walked into the showroom at Tai Ping Carpets, we were in awe. The carpets are true pieces of art. We were given a tour of the office and showroom by Laine Alexandra, the Global Business Development Director. Laine studied Communication and Sociology at Boston College, but it wasn’t until a field trip to the mansions in Rhode Island when she had an epiphany and realized her passion: interior design.

In addition to working at her top choice design firm after college, she also took night classes at the New York School of Interior Design to further her education. Ambitious, hardworking, and a fast learner, Laine always gives 100% to what she is doing. When it comes to a challenge, Laine is up for it. Laine demonstrates that even if you think you are on a certain career path, you just might have a eureka moment and things can change, and that’s more than okay. You never know when inspiration will strike! Read on to find out how Laine chose her college major, what books and resources she finds most useful, and the advice she would give her 20-year-old self.

Name: Laine Alexandra
Education: B.A. in Communication and Sociology at Boston College; AAS in Interior Design at New York School of Interior Design
Location: New York, New York

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Laine Alexandra: Saying yes to any opportunity to learn. Doing what scares you. Doing what you’re not good at. Making mistakes. Doing what you enjoy and seeing where it can take you.

CJ: You studied Communication and Sociology at Boston College. How did you decide what to study?

LA: I was a senior in High School on 9/11. Watching the world depend on television, and more specifically on television journalists, to both find and effectively communicate the truth about events that impact lives on a tremendous scale had a significant impression on me, and I decided to study broadcast journalism. I ended up with a minor in sociology (and almost a minor in Art History) simply because I took all the electives I loved!

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CJ: What did your career path look like when you graduated from college?

LA: My career path took a 180 from what I studied. Two things happened. 1) In the years following 9/11, I grew increasingly disillusioned by sensationalism that, to me, seemed to overshadow the value of journalism. This lead to a pit in my stomach about entering the profession I had spent the last five years dreaming about joining. 2) I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. In the early days of my diagnosis, it was quite severe and it was critical to be near a progressive hospital with the clinical trials I needed.

With these factors in mind, my Mom gave me some amazing advice. “Please, please do what you love, not because it is prestigious, altruistic, or lucrative. You can’t be happy unless you are actually happy. And, if you start with something that makes your heart sing, you can go anywhere. (Just please go somewhere with good healthcare).”

The following week an art history elective I was enrolled in took a field trip to the mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. In the ballroom of the Biltmore, I had an epiphany. While I had always loved interior design and considered it a passion, I didn’t realize how significant the industry and opportunities might be until I got a taste in Newport. The next day, I emailed 50 interior designers I found in Architectural Digest. I got three interviews, and an offer from my top choice – the venerable Drake Design Associates, Jamie Drake’s firm.

CJ: You attended the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID). What was this experience like and why did you choose to attend this school?

LA: Jamie [of Drake Design Associates] is both a talented and trained designer. I realized while a formal education is not always necessary in the interior design world, I felt that I needed the credibility and knowledge that comes with a degree. NYSID was fantastic for a few reasons. The professors are actively involved in the design community and offered both classical education as well as real, business-savvy perspective. Secondly, NYSID offered night and weekend classes, so I was able to complete my degree while continuing to work for Drake Design Associates.

CJ: You are now the Global Business Development Director at Tai Ping Carpets. What does your role entail? What do your daily tasks look like?

LA: I’m project managing a global distribution initiative for Tai Ping, working with people in all areas of the company and in three continents.

CJ: What is the best part about your job? The hardest part?

LA: It’s both intimidating and exciting making the road map.

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CJ: How do you stay organized and manage your time?

LA: Handwritten lists.

CJ: What are some books, resources, and websites that have influenced you – either personally or professionally (or both)?

LA: TED Talks. Deepak Chopra’s guided meditationsJust Kids by Patti SmithLean In by Sheryl Sandberg, and The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo.

CJ: When you are feeling overwhelmed or having a bad day, how do you like to unwind or reset?

LA:  Long walks or yoga. Wine with friends also works.

CJ: Is there a cause or issue that you care greatly about? If so, why?

LA: Yes, I am big believer in and supporter of Planned Parenthood (PP). My mother was a counselor there when I was a kid, so I have always admired the organization. As a young-adult facing major medical bills and insurance issues, I developed a significantly deeper appreciation for the affordable healthcare PP provides women (and men), both related to reproductive issues and also as general practitioners.

CJ: What are you working to improve upon – either personally or professionally – and how are you doing so?

LA: What I’m working to improve applies both personally and professionally. I’m trying to get comfortable with the unknown, and learning it’s okay to be wrong and not have all the answers.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

LA: Take the class you might fail. Invest in travel. Don’t worry about 10 years from now, figure out two years from now, or even just next month.

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Images by Carpe Juvenis

Culture

For those who have been living under a rock, or out of the sphere of anything related to media, chances are you have heard of Bollywood. No, I didn’t spell Hollywood wrong. Bollywood is an actual word, and it’s now officially defined in the Oxford English dictionary.

After years of attempting to compete against its western counterpart Hollywood, India’s Mumbai housed film industry can stand firm on the morals of its own achieved global success.

Deriving from its former British colonial city name of Bombay, Bollywood has amassed an international following, catapulting its reach of producing almost three times as many movies a year than Hollywood, and allowing to call itself the largest film industry in the world.

The Status

India has its own breed of mega stars who now have the global clout, fame, and a buzz to rival those from America. With its presence at almost all International Film Festivals, Bollywood celebrities are now in a league of their own.

They have massive social media followings, make lucrative endorsement deals with top global brands, and have cash earnings that set them in similar brackets as top Hollywood celebrities. Their reach is not only in India, but their reach abroad is growing as many are choosing to branch outside traditional roles within the Hindi film industry and gain further exposure in the west.

Priyanka Chopra, a former Miss World, is India’s latest global export who launched her foreign fame from Bollywood to crossover and become a recording artist to produce hit singles with Pitbull and Will. i. am. for NFL’s Thursday Night Football theme song. In addition, she has also become the first ethnic face of Guess, and landed a new ABC talent television show deal in Los Angeles where she is currently based. With a heavy media push, her team is attempting to introduce a stronger South Asian presence into the American media market. Among other global Bollywood stars with massive fame include Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Aamir Khan, Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor, Katarina Kaif, Akshay Kumar, and Kareena Kapoor.

The Reach

From Cape Town to Canberra, Rio De Janerio to Riyadh, the sheer appeal to audiences and demographics showcase how India’s Hindi film industry position now rivals Hollywood’s reach. The past 20 years have progressed the popularity of Hindi film, in turn allowing for Bollywood to become more of household name in several parts of the emerging world. In addition, the massively clean cut and conservative family approach of no nudity have allowed for its films to amass loyal fans not just in its diaspora communities, but throughout Africa, Latin America, Australia, Europe, and the Middle East.

The Appeal

With its grand sets, exotic destinations, love stories, and iconic song and dance routines, many have dubbed the unique and drastically different format to western media part of its international success. Bollywood films have stayed close to traditional Indian values, but in recent times have become a creative playground to showcase a rising and rapidly westernizing population, home to 1.2+ billion people.

The Influence

With Bollywood paving the way for the western world to gain further exposure into Indian cultural values, art, and dialogues, the influence of it reach is massive. With its heavy hitting presence at every major international film festival – including Cannes – established Indian Industry award shows, and the trickling in of more Indian music, fashion, and media personalities into the daily lives of more westerners, it no longer remains a thriving industry.

Dubai Parks and Resorts is even developing the Emirate’s and world’s first Bollywood mega theme park project aimed at capturing the essence of Hindi cinema, covering a total of three million square feet. With a massive three phase development plan for construction in Dubai, the park will recreate for tourists and residents the extravagance and fantasy that is the world of Bollywood.

Have you seen any Bollywood films?

Image: Wikipedia

Culture

Luxury brands once garnered association with the elite class being the ultimate pillar of success. Today the luxury market has grown to encompass a globally engaged population of younger consumers who come from more diversified backgrounds with greater spending habits. The youth consumer has dramatically shifted over the years, and to date, its influence in the eyes of several leading global luxury brands has been noted.

Through avenues such as social media, advertising, and increased travel, more and more young consumers have their eye on buying into the luxury goods market. The increase of spending habits from younger consumers is mainly prevalent in emerging markets, as certain parts of the world place high value on brand name identity.

According to Bain and Company, a Boston based global management firm, it forecasts the worldwide luxury market to grow to $290 billion USD in 2015, as the demand for high-end luxury – especially clothing and accessories – rises in emerging markets such as India, China, Brazil, and Russia.

Interestingly enough, luxury brands have not been highly affected by many of the transpiring financial events that have hit various other sectors globally. These brand names have built their reputations and financial holdings by remaining strategically branded entities to their worldwide consumers. As the market for luxury goods is poised to grow, these brands are using their overall reputations to revamp and repackage luxury to the new emerging and elite consumers who have higher purchasing powers elsewhere.

European markets are poised to see a 2% growth, which is considerably low for the region. Japan will experience a sharp 12% decline in the consumption of luxury brands. The East Asian region of Greater China will see growth at upwards of 4% splitting growth between Hong Kong, Macau, and Mainland China. Overall, the Chinese consumer has increased from roughly 25% to upwards of 30% of the market.

Sales in the Arab world also remain strong with an over five percent estimated growth in the luxury market with strong focus residing on the Emirates, while Saudi Arabia now becomes the regions second largest luxury market. Continent-wide growth for Africa rapidly showcases an emerging region for long term growth and vast potential with 11% growth and expansion expected with strongholds in Angola, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, and Rwanda. Southeast Asia comes in at roughly 11% becoming the highest potential earning demographic with luxury consumers demanding lucrative brands in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand.

The bottom line remains that as growth for luxury brands rapidly slows in the Americas and Western Europe, many of the most important companies within this sector are targeting a newer demographic of young brand-conscious consumers globally.

The increasing changes and connections youth consumers and global luxury brands now share is a trend that continues to grow. Youth consumers are driving how major multinational brands shift their approach for growth and sales; and through this method, the spending habits of the youth market remains on track to grow.

The millennial generation can learn a lot from these current market trends, as they tend to foster the next phase of growth in several of the previously mentioned international markets. Your presence is important in how the market shifts to look younger and to appeal to savvy and wealthy foreign nationals abroad. Understand that these brands will continue to affect your lives and consumption habits, especially as they become more prevalent in greater avenues of young people’s lives.

Currently according to Forbes, the top ten most valued brands globally come mostly from the fashion, accessory, and spirits industry.

  1. Louis Vuitton ($19.4 Billion)
  2. Hermès ($7.86 Billion)
  3. Gucci ($7.47 Billion)
  4. Chanel ($6.22 Billion)
  5. Rolex ($5.53 Billion)
  6. Hennessy ($5.40 Billion)
  7. Cartier ($4.91 Billion)
  8. Moet & Chandon ($4.85 Billion)
  9. Fendi ($3.47 Billion)
  10. Prada ($2.7 Billion)

Image: Blake Bronstad

Culture

Innovation today has become an ever-expanding idea and concept that continues to garner and create new and interesting ways of contributing to our evolving societies.

The fact of the matter is, if you are not innovating in whichever field or arena you find yourself dealing with, chances are the spectrum of your work will simply get left behind.

The millennial generation continues to move to places that inspire cultivation; as they remain a leading force of change with more forward-thinking means of living. They are hungry for new, cutting edge technology, infrastructure, design, and overall quality of life.

As they evolve and find the world adapting to the changes of the future, a select group of world cities have emerged to foster the next generation of young leadership. Consistently millennials are on a mission to seek out spaces that they can call our own, which allow for individuality and ability to have dynamic social lives with good work and life balance.

In no particular order, these 14 cities are among the best for innovation for the millennial generation.

Johannesburg, South Africa  

The only African city on the list, Joburg is seen as one of Africa’s most vibrant cities of the future. Bustling with creativity, energy and reinvention, many view the success of this city as the benchmark for the rest of the continent. Home to one of Africa’s largest stock exchanges, the city has a young, dynamic population that adds to its developing attraction for bars, restaurants, and nightlife.

Singapore, Singapore

Having one of Asia’s most innovative economies and diverse multinational populations, this Southeast Asian city often tops many lists globally for livability and innovative practices. The small city-state continues to set the benchmark for innovation and forward thinking in sectors of technology, investment, infrastructure and livability standards.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Known as one of the most progressive cities in the world for ages, Amsterdam is seen as a highly efficient, cutting edge city for its go-green efforts, livability, social policies, and cultural attractions. Amsterdam has a bustling social scene and nightlife, and is also known as the most bike-friendly city on the planet.

Bangalore, India

Though not as widely known as Mumbai, the nation’s cosmopolitan and business capital, Bangalore has emerged as South Asia’s IT hub. Thousands of new startups spring up around the city each year, with clean and modern infrastructure positioning the city to experience rapid foreign direct investment. Today, the city is now known by the west as the Silicon Valley of India, attracting top talent from around the world.

London, United Kingdom

With more foreign tourists visiting London than any city in the world, as well as being named the best city in the world for economic opportunity, it has now unofficially become the economic and cultural capital of Europe. Boosting an array of opportunities in various sectors, as well as a high number of expats from overseas, the city attracts top young talent from around the world. There is a growing and emerging array of global entrepreneurs choosing to make the city their ground to launch new ventures.

Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Known as an Asian mega-city for several decades, Hong Kong’s vertical ascent into the future began far before several of its emerging Asian counterparts. It has been a massively important port for domestic and international trade, serving as a meeting point for top multinational dialogue. The city continues to reinvent itself with its distinctly Asian heritage and passion for cutting edge design and space-saving efforts. A large group of expats comprises the city’s young professional scene with vibrant social opportunities for all.

Vienna, Austria

Austria’s capital, Vienna, is seen as a massively clean and controlled city. Home to culturally important museums, governmental agencies and boasting amazing public transportation, the city fares well with both locals, expats, and tourists as a popular destination to live and work.

San Francisco, USA

This American coastal city on the Pacific Ocean serves as one of the nation’s most desirable places to live and work. The energy, social scene, diversity, and environment of the bay area make the city a desirable destination for young professionals. In addition, its access to Silicon Valley and vast tech and entrepreneurial startups makes the city flourish as a hot destination for innovation.

São Paulo, Brazil

Considered one of South America’s largest megacities, São Paulo is leading this region of the world, acting as Brazil’s knowledge, innovation and finance market capital. Roughly 20 million people make up the landscape of the city, which has the most innovative universities and industries in Latin America. A growing number of multinational firms and businesses are choosing to make the city their base for further integration into the region. São Paulo also has excellent social and living conditions for young professionals.

Vancouver, Canada

This Canadian city has embarked on a mission to become the greenest city on the planet by the year 2020. It is currently working towards this goal by a water consumption decrease of 20 percent. With access to green spaces and public transportation, the city is also home to a vibrant young professional scene.

Santiago, Chile

Retaining one of South America’s lowest corruption rates, Santiago’s economic capital has launched itself as one the region’s most innovative places for starting new ventures and business opportunity. The city boasts a healthy and stable economy with a strong, expanding network of infrastructure projects.

Boston, USA

Seen as one of America’s most historic and oldest cities, Boston is also known as the nation’s education capital, boosting an array of world-class universities and institutions which are hubs for innovation in themselves. The city is young, dynamic and creative, and it fosters a unique blend of culture, charm, and history.

Dubai, UAE

Now seen as the hub of the Middle East, this oil-rich kingdom has launched its success from natural resources into a tax-free safe haven for expats and multinational investment. Close to 80% of the city is now comprised of overseas expats coming to live, work, and experience the city’s growing clout internationally. It is also home to many Guinness World Record titles, with the 160-story Burj Khalifa, its most iconic structure, as the world’s tallest building.

Stockholm, Sweden

While Sweden’s three largest cities all top international lists as truly innovate destinations of the future, its economic capital of Stockholm has been a groundbreaking destination for innovation and development. A strong culture of innovation has propelled this Nordic nation to the forefront of ambitious research, cutting edge infrastructure and passion for efficiency. Swedes are often described as being the world’s fastest population at adapting to new trends and ideas, and are not only economically and socially liberal, but also among the Europe’s most educated. With a strong reputation for being a high economic performer within Europe, the circuit of young and innovative companies, design, social venues, and people make Stockholm a highly efficient hub for growth for the future.

Image: Pasu Au Yeung

Skills

People tend to not be concerned about issues that don’t ‘hit close to home’ because they feel like it’s something that could never happen to them, but even if most of us never experience war or lose our homes, it is important that we try to be a little more aware of what happens to other people around the world, even if we don’t see the relevancy of it to our lives.

Awareness is the first step, in my opinion, to understanding the kind of world we live in. Some people have the privilege of traveling to other countries to see firsthand how other people live, others can take classes about different cultures or can talk to other people who have gone places and have experienced things that they haven’t experienced. I understand that not everyone can travel to different places, but you shouldn’t have to leave your country or even your hometown to become aware of the different ways that people around you live and the kinds of things they experience.

It is possible to be a tourist in your own home. All you have to do is put on a different set of eyes and see, for the first time, instead of just looking. Many people judge homeless people because they have never had to experience not having a home or because they automatically assume that the person is homeless because of something they did to themselves. Not everyone is like this, but you may have heard a friend or a family member or someone on the subway blame people who are going through hard times for their current situations. But if they haven’t walked a mile in that person’s shoes, do they truly have the right to pass judgement?

People have the right to their own opinions, but don’t you think that the world would be a much better place if we replaced apathy with empathy? When you place the blame on someone else for their own situation, you are giving up the responsibility that you have to your neighbor. This doesn’t have to be anyone who lives in your neighborhood or even the person next door. If we all look at each other as global citizens and even, as one big family, then everyone you pass on the street is your neighbor in the loose sense of the word.

Let’s pretend for a moment that everyone looked at the world that way. From that perspective, it’s easier to see that blaming someone for their inability to get a job or to keep a roof over their heads is a way of being apathetic. When you don’t show concern for anything that is apathy and when you resort to blaming someone for something that happened to them, you are showing that you don’t care to understand this person’s predicament or even how it affects the people who love them.

It is extremely easy to be apathetic, especially if you don’t pay close attention to the news or if you don’t know what’s happening to other people around the world. You can live out your entire life without opening your eyes and still think that you can see. But once you start looking into what it’s like to wear this person’s shoes or that person’s shoes, the world becomes an entirely different place. Not only because you are aware but because that awareness can lead to understanding if you let it.

Empathy isn’t about feeling sorry for someone, it’s about sharing their feelings even if you can’t completely understand their situation. It’s about stepping outside of yourself and realizing that at the root of all of your experiences are feelings that can transcend any cultural, racial, or religious barriers that exists in our world today. You don’t have to agree with a person’s feelings or even their current situation but don’t let judgment be your first response to that disagreement. In fact, don’t let it be any of your responses. It’s impossible for us to understand what other people are going through because we don’t often take the time to try to understand.

I know that might be hard for everyone to do but empathy is not a foreign concept. We all have the ability to be empathetic; to understand and share the feelings of others. Though our experiences may differ, our emotions are all the same. There is not one emotion that is unique to any one culture, race, or religious group.

Once we all realize that, the world will slowly but surely become a better a place to live in.

Image: Chris Sardegna