Most Chinese and Vietnamese families observe the Lunar New Year beginning this week, while some of the other Asian and Asian-American communities, including Cambodians, Hmong, Lao and Thai, will observe their New Year celebrations in February, March, April and December. In some instances, the Lunar New Year calendar has been adjusted to deal with modern concerns such as school schedules. After speaking with several Chinese and Vietnamese individuals about the Year of the Ox, I have summarized some of their comments and observations:
- The Ox is the second icon in the Asian zodiac. Because of its position near the top of the zodiac hierarchy, the Ox typically represents a period of renewal and rebirth, or a fresh start.
- For this Lunar New Year, the Ox falls in alignment with one of the five important elements (fire, water, metal, earth and wood) that are commonly associated with the practice of geomancy, also known as feng shui. This year may also be referred to as the Year of the Earth Ox.
- The earth element is commonly associated with stability, growth and a solid foundation.
- The Vietnamese community uses the image of a water buffalo as its icon for the Year of the Ox. Therefore, the element of water is more closely associated with the ox.
- Since water and earth are considered opposites, some Asians and Asian Americans may view this year as a year of turmoil, instability and conflict.
- The Earth Ox will be hampered by water. Since water and earth create mud, use it to create a foundation for your agency or your corporate marketing department as you navigate through the turmoil of this New Year. Mud is an ingredient to creating structure. Reviewing that structure to deal with the changes ahead will lead to a greater chance for success in this competitive advertising environment.
- The Ox is strong and is viewed as a beast of burden. This year's Ox isn't overly aggressive, and is viewed as more thoughtful in its approach to business and relationships. The businesses that succeed this year will review all of their business plans for sustainability and growth, and make adjustments as needed.
- Since Oxen pull (rather than push), agency leaders will need to encourage their employees to incubate and produce stronger ideas that are more client-centric. Most corporate marketers claim that their budgets have been distressed or reduced; however, the agencies that find the best solutions to a client challenge, issue and/or crisis (without being asked) will be able to pull resources out of even the tightest of corporate budgets.
- The Year of the Ox is about renewal and realignment. This is a great time to review your staffing and account teams and make adjustments. If your team seems misaligned, this is a good time to shift roles, change client assignments and/or realign reporting relationships.
- Rather than lay off anyone in the Year of the Ox, assist that employee in redirecting his or her talent. This should probably include retraining, redirecting and assistance in locating a new job. Laying off people without assisting them with their next job is bad karma.
- The Year of the Ox is about rebirth. If you are thinking about redesigning your logo, along with your overall corporate identity, this might be the best time to do it.
- People born in the Year of the Ox are supposed to inspire others to become leaders. This year, let others take the lead at your agencies and in your corporate marketing departments, and support their leadership.
- Oxen are also considered patient. Try not to dismiss ideas that are raised by your employees and your clients. Even if you hate an idea by one of your associates, give it a chance to manifest itself first. You may grow to like it.
Have a great Year of the Ox!