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Who will be the last Jedi? Everything we know about ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’

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***Original post published on Digital Trends***

Director Rian Johnson’s addition to the Star Wars canon, Episode VIII — The Last Jedi, may seem like a distant point in a galaxy far, far away, but make no mistake: December 15 will be here before you know it. And while there’s no doubt the actual premiere is the big payoff, all the rumors leading up to the film are what make the Star Wars universe … well, the Star Wars universe.

To that end, we’re loading up this bastion of Star Wars lore with all the news, rumors, and clandestine whispers we can find to help you analyze the details and get you geared up for the big night. Keep in mind that this post does contain some spoilers, so if you’re looking to head into theaters in blissful ignorance, turn back now.

It’s all The Last Jedi from here on out, so stop searching your feelings, and follow us below.

Introducing C’ai Threnali

During 2017’s Comic-Con International in San Diego, Lucasfilm introduced a new character that will debut in Star Wars: The Last Jedi at the project’s official Comic-Con booth. Like the X-Wing fighter pilot Ello Asty from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the new character named C’ai Threnali is a male member of the Abednego species and a pilot in the Resistance.

As reported by IGN, C’ai Threnali was introduced as a life-sized character model stationed at The Last Jedi booth amid a recreation of a Resistance war room. The official description of the character reads as follows: “A skillful fighter pilot of Abednedo descent, C’ai Threnali flies as Poe Dameron’s wingman following the evacuation of D’Qar.”

D23 brings fresh footage

During Disney’s biennial fan event D23 expo, Lucasfilm, and Walt Disney Studios released a behind-the-scenes video for Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi that offered some fresh footage from the much-anticipated film.

Along with some new scenes featuring Daisy Ridley’s Rey training with Jedi master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the video offers a peek at several explosive scenes with both the New Republic’s Resistance forces and what appears to be the remnants of the Galactic Empire and the rising First Order.

Several other, familiar faces also appear in the video, including John Boyega’s former stormtrooper, Finn, and Oscar Isaac as Resistance pilot Poe Dameron. Veteran franchise actor Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) also appears in the video, and in a bittersweet series of scenes, deceased actress Carrie Fisher can be seen in her last performance as General Leia Organa.

New faces, new names, and a look behind the scenes

As part of Vanity Fair’s coverage of The Last Jedi, the magazine released a series of photos of the cast and creative team in May 2017, snapped by celebrated photographer Annie Leibovitz. The photos were accompanied by a behind-the-scenes video that offered a peek at the cast in costume, various sets, and maybe most importantly, more than a few lightsabers.

Among the photos released by the magazine are the first, official looks at a few new characters joining the franchise in The Last Jedi.

Among the fresh faces photographed in costume is Benicio Del Toro, who reportedly plays “a shady character of unclear allegiances … who goes unnamed in the film but is called DJ by the filmmakers.”

The magazine’s report also reveals that the new character named Rose Tico, played by Kelly Marie Tran, will play one of the biggest new roles in the film. Rose is described as “a maintenance worker for the Resistance” who becomes involved in “a mission behind enemy lines with [John] Boyega’s Finn.”

There’s also a photo of Laura Dern’s character, “a prominent officer in the Resistance named Vice Admiral Holdo.”

More photos and reporting from the magazine’s coverage of The Last Jedi can be seen at the Vanity Fair website.

The first trailer

As many fans (and industry pundits) predicted, Disney and Lucasfilm premiered the first trailer for Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi during 2017’s Star Wars Celebration event in Orlando, Florida.

Packed with ominous imagery and suggesting that the time of the Jedi could indeed be nearing its end, the trailer hinted at dark things to come for Rey, Finn, and the rest of the franchise’s current cast of characters.

A big chase

The spies of MakingStarWars.net have been keeping an eye on production, and they’ve seen some interesting things. Based on the website’s intel, there will be an interesting chase scene with Finn (John Boyega) and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) on horseback. Rumor has it the pursuit will take place on Canto Bight, a gambling-heavy planet, and they’ll be riding on special space race horses called falthiers. Apparently, the chase will culminate in Finn and Rose’s escape to a coffee shop of sorts that the site describes as “like a neon Starbucks.”

That which we call a rose

Fans of the franchise were introduced to Kelly Marie Tran during the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando in mid-April, as Deadline reports. We’ll see a lot of the actress in The Last Jedi. Her character, Rose, is a maintenance worker for the Resistance who gets caught up in the action thanks to Finn and Rey (Ridley).

Being able to reveal her role was probably a relief to Tran; she initially had to tell her family and friends that she was working on an indie flick in Canada because she was not allowed to tell them she snagged a role in Episode VIII. Oh, the secrecy.

A dark turn?

There have been hints that the Luke Skywalker we know won’t be the one who shows up in The Last Jedi. Ridley hinted at big surprises during the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando.

“Rey has a certain expectation as to what she might be getting from Luke and what that might entail,” she said, according to Deadline. “It’s difficult when you meet your heroes, because it might not be what you expect.”

She hinted that the iconic character could be “being challenged or going in a different direction,” and Hamill threw fuel on the fire with similar comments about his character.

“It was as shocking to me to read what Rian [Johnson] had written as I’m sure it will be for the audience,” he said, according to the International Business Times.

An ominous title

All of the speculation regarding the film’s full title was finally put to rest on January 23, 2017, when the project’s official title was revealed to be Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.

The announcement was made on StarWars.com, and although it answered a long-standing question about the film, it also prompted even more guessing games among fans.

Could the titular last Jedi be Luke? Per Yoda’s dying speech in Return of the Jedi, “When gone am I, the last of the Jedi will you be.” Maybe the title refers to Rey, who is poised to study under Luke in the upcoming film?

As Jedi is both the singular and plural form of the word, there is a lot of ambiguity in the title. If foreign translations of the title are accurate, however, it seems there will be more than one Jedi in the film. The Spanish translation of the title is Los Últimos Jedi; unlike in English, adjectives in Spanish match the noun they modify in number, and “últimos” is the plural form of the word.

The other foreign translations of the title, such as the French and Italian, also use plural adjectives, so the evidence seems overwhelming. Exactly how many Jedi can fans expect to see? For now, we must wait to find out.

***This post originally published on Digital Trends***

Digital Trends is a leading consumer technology publisher helping people navigate an increasingly digital world. With easy-to-understand product reviews, entertaining news and videos, Digital Trends serves more than 30 million unique visitors each month. Digital Trends reaches 90 million tech influencers through their own media network, and its syndicate partners include Yahoo!, FOX News and more than 200 broadcast news stations. Digital Trends is headquartered in Portland, OR with offices in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Chicago.

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8 Steps to Spice Up Your Brand's Voice (Infographic)

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As a brand, it’s important to have a distinct and unique brand voice so people recognize it. However, creating that brand is often easier said than done.

But with a few quick and easy tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating a strong brand voice for your company. For starters, evaluate your brand’s current voice, and decide what you like and don’t like about it. Also look at how your brand voice has evolved and what it looked like in the past. Asking yourself these questions can help: Has it been consistent? Does it align with your core values?

Related: 5 Easy Exercises to Find Your Brand’s Voice

Still not sure where to start? Look around for inspiration — examining how your competitors are developing their voices can help you figure out the right tone for yours. Creating an outline of this ideal voice and the steps that you’ll need to take to get there will help create a clear, concise and actionable plan. That can include everything from a storyboard, with a character and script, to listing out your business’s core values.

It’s also important to test out your voice on your audience to make sure it resonates — interacting with them and even asking for feedback will not only make the process easier on you, but your audience will feel involved too. From reaching out to your audience to finding your strengths and playing off those, building your brand’s voice doesn’t have to be hard.

Related: What’s Your Company’s ‘Voice’? Here’s How to Figure It Out.

Check out CJG Digital Marketing‘s infographic below for eight steps to help spice up your brand’s voice.

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6 Ways to Manage Conflict Better

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Most people say they hate conflict, yet avoiding it causes more problems. In today’s culturally diverse, multigenerational workforce it’s bound to happen. Conflicts can be frequent, often petty and very costly between people speaking different languages, from different generations and having different religious beliefs and cultural norms.  Tempers flare and regrettable things are said.

Related: How to Act Self-Confident

You don’t have to like conflict but you can learn to manage it and not try to escape from it. Here are some tips. 

1. Understand that big conflicts are made up of little conflicts.

It’s like a circuit board. Looking at the whole is complicated, but piece by piece it’s easy to connect it all.

2. Remove emotions from the situation.

Emotions are to conflicts like air is to a fire — it causes it to grow out of control. Don’t let drama or emotional responses inflame the situation. Instead…

3. Choose to be generous.

Whomever or whatever started the conflict, give the benefit of the doubt that best intentions were involved. Instead of judging or blaming, give liberal feedback as to where someone or something could have taken a different course of action.

Related: How to Answer Questions Better Than Anyone Else

4. Share context to parties involved.

People are more reasonable in their reaction if they are given a more complete picture or fuller context, describing the conditions of what led to the situation and why the activity (or lack of activity) caused conflict. For example, your team misses one month of their revenue target, the boss goes crazy about it at a team meeting which cases conflict where people feel compelled to defend their activity. The context might be that every other division missed their revenue target also and now people have to be let go. Context is a great leveler, and it always matters

5. Go to the facts. 

Honestly prevails. Own up to mistakes. Sit in graceful silence. Don’t express every thought that crosses your mind. Calmly talk about the extent of the damage and choose a solution that matches the severity of the situation.

Related: 6 Dynamic Ways to Serve Your Clients

6. Be willing to wipe the slate clean if the situation is resolved.

Get used to the fact you work in a passionate environment. And be willing to say, “I understand,” which keeps you from saying, “I agree” or “I disagree” before you’re sure where you stand. And then, move on

This story originally appeared on Personal Branding Blog

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How to Use Innovation to Fuel Your Small Business

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One of the keys to any successful business, regardless of its size, is innovation. Developing new ideas is the fuel which will keep your business up to date. Innovation will keep operations, products, and services fresh. Adding this fuel will make your business more competitive.

According to a study from PwC, an overwhelming 93 percent of business executives believe that “organic growth through innovation will drive the greater proportion of their revenue growth.”

But, what exactly is innovation? The answer to this question can and will vary depending on your industry or market.

Jacob Berkeley, founder of Fusion92, has a clear description in an article he wrote for Business News Daily:

“It embodies the improvement of something that has come before. It is the evolution of convenience, efficiency and effectiveness. Beyond that, we live in a world of make it smaller, faster, bigger, clearer, simpler, better. We live in an age being defined as innovation by innovation. It’s everywhere. It’s happening all around us, from the moment we wake until we sleep, our lives are being influenced by innovations.”

Unfortunately, many small business owners have the misconception that innovation is only reserved for larger companies. This notion couldn’t be further from the truth.

As Richard Branson has explained, “Small businesses are nimble and bold and can often teach much larger companies a thing or two about innovations that can change entire industries.”

Small businesses are prime for innovation

This may sound unbelievable, but small businesses are actually better suited to be more innovative than a larger organization.

Small businesses can execute ideas more quickly and pivot easier than enterprise level companies. They don’t have to spend months or years evaluating new ideas. Smaller businesses don’t have to clear every microscopic dot through multiple departments.

In other words, there are less hurdles for a small business to jump over when it comes to innovation. They can develop and implement new ideas quickly. In turn, this forces competitors to have to play catch up to them.

Additionally, small businesses can temporarily allocate all of it’s resources to a new idea. Shortening development time is critical.  This also develops a culture where everyone is encouraged to get involved.

Moving the innovation process to a fast track promotes creative thinking in your company. It will also offer your employees excitement and rewards for their innovative ideas.

Types of innovation

Businesses have a variety of strategy options when it comes to the different types of innovation.

Examples:

Open innovation

Henry Chesbrough, a professor at University of California Berkeley and executive director for the Center for Open Innovation coined this phrase. This is when companies use both internal and external ideas to help advance their existing operations.

“Open innovation is the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation,” says Chesbrough.

In Chesbrough’s book Open Innovation: Researching a New Paradigm, he adds, that this paradigm assumes that firms can and should “use external ideas as well as internal ideas.” Chesbrough explains how these internal and external paths will quickly advance their technology.

According to Chesbrough, open innovation can be a more profitable way to innovate. Potential to reduce costs, and accelerate time to market, and increases differentiation. This will allow ways to establish new revenue streams.

Disruptive

This word was coined by professor, author, and entrepreneur Clay Christensen. A product or service is disruptive when it starts out at the bottom of the marketplace. Eventually it displaces the competitors in their market space.

According to the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, the “theory explains the phenomenon by which an innovation transforms an existing market or sector by introducing simplicity, convenience, accessibility and affordability where complication and high cost are the status quo.

“Initially, a disruptive innovation is formed in a niche market that may appear unattractive or inconsequential to industry incumbents, but eventually the new product or idea completely redefines the industry.”

An prime example is mobile phones replacing the landlines and now desktop computers.

Reverse

Vijay Govindarajan, author of “Reverse Innovation,” writes that, “At its core, reverse innovation describes solutions adopted first in poorer, emerging nations that subsequently — and disruptively — find a market in richer, developed nations.”

For instance, Nestle developed dried noodles for customers in India. This product has since become adopted by many countries, companies and practically all dorm rooms across the world.

Incremental

This is when companies will make minor changes to their existing products and services, as opposed to changing their products or services completely.

For example, think of razor blades. Originally starting out as just a single blade, razors blade then they began to offer three blades. Now razor blades have a variety features, even battery-operated razors.

Breakthrough

Also referred to radical innovation. A business develops new ideas and concepts that are completely different from any existing products, services, or operations, currently on the market.

Pretty much everything that Elon Musk is working on can be considered as breakthrough innovation.

Encouraging innovation in your small business

Want to encourage innovation in your small business?

Here are a variety of ways to do so:

1. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Keep innovation simple by improving your existing products or services, trying out a new marketing strategy, or finding a supplier that is offering you a better rate.

2. Make innovation a routine.

Schedule an hour or so each week to brainstorm and exercise you and your team’s creativity and establish goals that encourage you to improve your business through techniques like mind mapping.

3. Solicit suggestions.

Ask or survey your employees, customers, and even vendors or suppliers if they have any suggestions on how you can improve your business.

4. Get your team on-board.

Have them involved in the entire innovation process, such as solving problems during a meeting, providing a suggestion box, rewarding them for their ideas that become implemented, and providing creativity or innovation workshops.

5. Invest in innovation.

Purchase technology and equipment that can improve your business operations. Also invest in developing new products and services.

6. Educate yourself.

Continue to learn new skills or information by attending workshops, webinars, conferences, local industry events, and reading everything from blog posts to books.

7. Harness underappreciated trends.

Don’t invest your resources in what might happen. Focus on the trends that are currently happening and ones that your competitors have overlooked.

Conclusion

Being innovative takes a lot of hard work and little bit of risk. But, if you want to thrive and stay ahead of your competitors, it’s an essential part of being a small business owner.

Instead of sticking with the status quo, always be on the lookout for new ideas that will improve your business.

The worst thing that happens? It doesn’t work and you go back to the drawing board.

(By Chalmers Brown)

This story originally appeared on Due

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