Profiting from adversity: Maria Xynias’s brilliant start-up idea Ladies Running Errands, the “extra helping hand for people who need an extra pair of hands”

Profiting from adversity: Maria Xynias’s brilliant start-up idea



Entrepreneur Maria Xynias’s clients range from the elderly and people living alone to young parents: “I get a lot of baby-boomer clients who are working or time-poor and need someone to take their elderly parent to the doctor”.


When Maria Xynias suffered a serious illness which left her unable to work for two years, she relied on her network of family for support, transport and sustenance. Time in convalescence gave her pause for thought: “I have a big Greek family network and lots of support but I wonder what happens to ­people who aren’t as lucky as me.” Therein lies the genesis of her start-up business, Ladies Running Errands , which is what Xynias calls the “extra helping hand for people who need an extra pair of hands”. – rather like a trusted family member without being a member of the family. She is one of the growing number of Australian women who take a break from long-term employment for a range of reasons, then work for themselves as sole traders. Xynias had worked her way up through store manager ranks at Target for 15 years, followed by a stint in a duty-free store at ­Sydney Airport. She launched Ladies Running Errands in January 2011. “It’s a very personal service and covers anything to make people’s daily lives easier. I take my responsibility very seriously.” Read more of this post

The biggest decision most of us leave to chance

The biggest decision most of us leave to chance

ON JULY 18, 2013


Recently, a friend of mine told me his goal was to make some “fuck you money.” This was a new development for him, as he had never before prioritized a big score. As we talked about his options, he described several promising opportunities that he decided not to pursue, because they weren’t interesting to him. Despite his proclamation that making money was his new priority, he couldn’t change the fact that he wasn’t strictly wired to be financially motivated. I’ve seen many people try to convince themselves that making money was their primary goal even when it wasn’t. I’ve been guilty of doing it myself. Truthfully, I think life would be much simpler if I were coin operated, but I’m not. And despite what others like my friend might claim, the vast majority of people aren’t either. Most people don’t realize it, but the pull of non-financial motivations creates one of the biggest decisions many of us face in life. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones whose interests are naturally lucrative, here is the choice you face. Do you do something you care about which might be more difficult, or even impossible, to make financially lucrative? Or do you set aside your personal motivations and pursue whatever provides the best opportunity for making the most money with the fewest obstacles? I’m sure you’ve thought about this question before, but you probably did so only as a philosophical exercise. Did you really think about it when you accepted your last job? For the entrepreneurs reading this, do you really love your startup? Or did a random opportunity present itself, and you just went along with it while you convinced yourself that mailing stuff in a box is your dream company?

The decision often seems one-sided because there’s no external measure of our internal motivations. Only you know how much they matter to you. In contrast, we’re bombarded with messages that correlate financial success with absolute success. We end up losing sight of the decision because one side of the equation is screaming at us with big houses, fancy cars, and the respect of our peers, while the other side offers nothing that the rest of the world can even measure. Considered this way, there hardly seems to be a decision at all. But just because one side speaks more quietly than the other doesn’t mean it carries any less weight. Despite the fact that this decision determines the course of our lives, very few of us really take it seriously. We hypocritically quote Confucius and tell people to, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” while we spend our own days at jobs we honestly don’t care for that much. Somehow, when it came time to make this decision for ourselves, we probably didn’t really think about it. Most likely, we let circumstance or convenience make the choice for us and ended up with whatever was put in front of us instead of choosing our own path.

Unless my friend gets lucky with a really fast score, I don’t think he’ll be able to follow through on his goal of making, “fuck you money.” He just isn’t built that way and I don’t think he can force himself to pursue the cash if his heart isn’t in it. For me, it took a string of choices that left me wondering, “Why the hell am I doing this?” before I decided all of my work decisions would be guided solely by my personal interests and nothing more. It’s a decision that has made me happy, but without question I’ve left a lot of financial opportunities on the table. How about you? Have you made the choice for yourself? Or have you let the decision fall to chance?

Head of another Taobao online retail outlet dies due to overwork at age 36

Head of another Taobao outlet dies due to overwork

Staff Reporter 2013-07-19


Wu Lijun was 36. (Internet photo)

Wu Lijun, who was president of Yunifang, an online retailer that sells mud masks and skincare products on Taobao, one of China’s largest e-commerce platforms, died on July 15. The cause of death is suspected to be overwork, a situation that is becoming worringly common among people who earn their living by selling goods online, reports the Beijing Youth Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Youth League committee in Beijing. Yunifang had become the leading seller of cosmetic mask products on Taobao after only six months on the platform. The retailer was later listed on Taobao’s top 50 outlets. Wu died due to a brain condition in Changsha in south-central China at the age of only 36. There have been several cases of death due to overwork in the online retail sector. Taobao reportedly conducted a survey into the health of 74 of their retails and are said to have found the results worrying. The earlier death of a 24-year-old Taobao retailer in Hangzhou was the first to prompt discussion about how hard people in the industry were working to sell tehir goods and promote their outlet. Taobao posted an official expression of condolences on that occasion and reminded its retailers to take care of their health. It has been taken for granted that to succeed in the emerging e-commerce business, it is necessary to work hard and for long hours to process and shipp orders and ensure customers are satisfied. Overwork has become an acknowledged feature of the industry.

How Europe’s Bank Crisis Swamped Pescanova Seafood Empire; The downfall of Spanish fishing company Pescanova is a cautionary tale of the still-rippling European banking crisis

Updated July 18, 2013, 11:04 p.m. ET

How Europe’s Bank Crisis Swamped Pescanova Seafood Empire

Ripples of Region’s Credit Crunch Led to Downfall of Spain’s Fishing Giant


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REDONDELA, Spain—The downfall of Manuel Fernández de Sousa, who builtPescanova SA PVA.MC -19.26% from a provincial Spanish fishing company into a multinational giant, is a cautionary tale of the still-rippling European banking crisis. His troubles began at a Feb. 27 board meeting where Pescanova’s two newest directors grilled him about the company’s proposed financial results. Read more of this post

The Rise of the Intangible Economy: U.S. GDP Counts R&D, Artistic Creation

The Rise of the Intangible Economy: U.S. GDP Counts R&D, Artistic Creation

By Peter Coy on July 18, 2013


On July 31, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis will rewrite history on a grand scale by restating the size and composition of the gross domestic product, all the way back to the first year it was recorded, 1929. The biggest change will be the reclassification—nay, the elevation—of research and development. R&D will no longer be treated as a mere expense, like the electricity bill or food for the company cafeteria. It will be categorized on the government’s books as an investment, akin to constructing a factory or digging a mine. In another victory for intellectual property, original works of art such as films, music, and books will be treated for the first time as long-lived assets. Read more of this post

China’s test; controlled slowdown or unemployment nightmare

China’s test; controlled slowdown or unemployment nightmare

Thu, Jul 18 2013

By Kevin Yao

BEIJING (Reuters) – The success or failure of China’s efforts to revamp its giant economy may rest with workers like Hu Zhao and Deng Jindong.

They were both at a job fair in Beijing this week. Hu, a 30-year-old former factory worker, was looking for a higher paid office job. Deng, a sales manager with Ping An Insurance Co, was trying to hire sales people to sell financial products. They represent two ends of a massive shift in the world’s second-biggest economy being engineered by President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, who are trying to manage a slowdown in growth to reduce a reliance on the investment that has made the country the factory to the world. China’s leaders hope to orchestrate the shift without creating a surge in unemployment by building up the services sector to take up the economic slack as factories close down. Read more of this post

What the ‘Unofficial’ Data Say About China’s Slowdown

July 18, 2013, 5:19 PM

What the ‘Unofficial’ Data Say About China’s Slowdown

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With doubts about China’s official data as numerous as government censors at a Weibo convention, China Real Time is committed to uncovering the truth about the world’s second-largest economy. The latest plan: Hire an intern to mine data from statistics officials’ Renren accounts. On the off chance the National Bureau of Statistics aren’t big users of social media, here’s our illustrated guide to what the best private indicators say. Read more of this post

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