2016: Year of the Yang Fire Monkey

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Happy new year! No, not on the Gregorian calendar, but the Asian lunar calendar. 2016 is the year of the monkey, and in the five elements cycle, it’s a yang fire year. What does this mean for us? Buckle up!

No, really. Buckle up. It’s going to be a rough ride.

The monkey’s personality, as an animal, is lively, active, mischievous, energetic. If you’ve ever spent any time watching monkeys at the local zoo, monkey energy is self-evident. Compare this to the relatively docile, almost boring energy of last year’s animal, the goat, and we get a sense of how different this year will be.

Yin and yang refers to the overall energy of the year. Is it rising or falling, growing or shrinking? A yang year is rising energy, a time when energy builds and grows. A yin year is falling energy, energy in decline or energy contracting. 2016 will be characterized by rising, growing energy.

The fire refers to the cycle of elements, earth, water, wood, fire, and metal. In Chinese, this is known as the Wu Xing; in Japanese, the gogyo. A fire year feeds off the energy of the previous wood year. A yin fire is the dying campfire after a night of roasting marshmallows. This year, 2016, is a yang fire, the blaze of a newly roaring fire with fresh fuel added. Wood begets fire and is consumed in the process. Fire also has a destructive aspect; in the cycle, it destroys metal, an element associated with insight and intellect.

Put these components together. What does rising, explosive energy and a mischievous animal combined yield? Imagine giving a toddler a triple espresso and a candy bar. Hilarity might ensue – but so might incredible destruction.

On the positive side, groundwork and plans we laid in the year of the yin wood goat, when things were quiet and docile, will come to fruition in the year of the yang fire monkey. Old growth burns away, lighting the way forward. Wood feeds fire.

On the negative side, fire’s heat fuels passions and intensity at the expense of rationality and intellect (metal). Any environment which is already contentious and incendiary will almost literally explode. Like becomes love, and dislike becomes hate. Fire melts metal.

What should you prepare for this year? Wood and water.

We can grow the intensity of our fire through the judicious application of more fuel: ideals, curiosity, stories, art, emotion.

We can also tamp down our fire’s intensity with water: logic, intellect, data, precision, rationality.

Our greatest danger will be getting swept up in others’ fires, in others’ passions and conflagrations, not realizing their fires are not ours unless we permit them to be.

Our greatest opportunity? The environment is ripe for fires to spread, so if you have a cause, a passion, a mission you want to catch on, this is the time to do it.

May your new year bring you health, prosperity, and happiness! Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu!


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Why would you buy ice cubes?

Why would we buy ice cubes? If we own a refrigerator with a freezer, making ice is practically free. However, if we don’t have the time, we must buy. The same is true of our marketing: we pay a high premium for someone else’s time.

Ice for sale

Making ice is a function of energy and time. Unless we own an industrial subzero freezer or a supply of liquid nitrogen, we can’t make ice in an instant. We have to wait for the freezer to leach heat out of the water.

Let’s say we’re having a party and we need 10 pounds of ice. We need to plan far enough ahead to make ice in our ice cube trays. If we don’t plan ahead and the party is in a few hours, we have to buy ice. There’s no way for us to hurry up the ice-making process. By buying ice, we are buying time from someone else who made the ice – and we pay far more than it costs us to make ice at home.

Time is the ultimate premium product.

Now, consider our marketing. If we have ample time and plan ahead well, we can launch a marketing campaign on limited funds using our email list, SEO, and social media. We may need months to build our audience, but we can do it well on a shoestring budget.

If we have to launch quickly, or our organization failed to plan ahead, we must pay. Like buying ice cubes, we’re buying time. We’re buying the time it took for publishers and ad networks to build their audience. Like buying ice cubes, we will also pay a large premium for someone else’s time.

Do you have more money than time? Buy.

Do you have more time than money? DIY.


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Our common ground

We are not so different. We share a common ground. Every major religion has agreed on one point through the centuries, no matter what the religion, language, or culture, from ancient China to today.

Shadows and light

“Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.” — Confucius

“Treat others as you treat yourself.” – Vidura, the Mahabharata

“Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others.” Shayast-na-Shayast

“One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self.” – Brihaspati

“What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.” – Rabbi Hillel the Elder

“Do to others what you want them to do to you. This is the meaning of the law of Moses and the teaching of the prophets.” – Jesus of Nazareth

“As you would have people do to you, do to them; and what you dislike to be done to you, don’t do to them.” – Prophet Muhammad

“Do good to others as you would like good to be done to you. Regard bad for yourself whatever you regard bad for others.” – Ali ibn Abi Talib

“Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” – Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha

“A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated.” – Sutrakrinaga

“And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself.” — Bahá’u’lláh

We figured out our common ground centuries ago.

We just have to do it.


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