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Small business lessons from the Hunger Games

In this CD cover image released by Universal Republic Records, the soundtrack for the film "The Hunger Games," is shown. (AP Photo/Universal Republic Records)

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Suzanne Collins' epic trilogy, set in the post-apocalyptic districts of Panem, has captivated readers since the first book's release in 2008. Katniss Everdeen - the stoic 16-year-old who volunteers for the games after her young sister is chosen as a tribute - is an inspiring figure for fans of the books. But she can also offer some lessons about survival to small business owners, according to Kara Ohngren, the writer of article from

1. Play to your strengths. Katniss knows she is a powerful hunter, and plays to her talents. As a business owner, figure out where you may have an edge over competitors and go from there.

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2. Solve a problem, but don't be scared to ask for help. When Katniss is suffering from terrible burns, her sponsors send her ointment to help her make it through the night. They identify a problem, help solve it and stubborn as she is, Katniss is glad to accept the help.

3. Master the basics. During the training sessions, Katniss and Peeta, her fellow tribute and ally, skip the most advanced weapons sessions in favour of learning the basics of survival, including snares and camouflage. Before starting your own enterprise, learn the basics. Take an entrepreneurship class and pick the brains of other small-business owners in your area.

4. Be true to yourself. As an entrepreneur, sticking to your principles and showing your true colours can be tough, but can pay off. When Katniss chooses to honour her friend Rue rather than leave, because it's the right thing to do, her action is rewarded later by a gift of bread from Rue's home district.

There are also ways small business owners can capitalize on the popularity of the franchise, without it being limited to selling books or T-shirts.

Leveraging pop culture can be a great way to add traction to your business with proper marketing, says Laurie Kulikowski of The Street. She points to the nail polish company China Glaze, which created a series of polishes called Capitol Colours. Many fashion designers - including Tommy Hilfiger and Nicole Miller - have also created their own variations of the fire dress worn by Katniss.

Here are three other examples of companies that have leveraged the series:

i) Walk Like "A Katniss Everdeen: a movie-inspired travel package;

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ii) Train like a Tribute: Town Sports International, the parent company to Sports Clubs, is promoting classes that would resemble skills 'crucial to survival in the Hunger Games arena,' including archery, tree climing, speed work and strength-training;

iii) The Mockingjay: a NYC-based bar consultant and spirits expert has devised a cocktail inspired by the luxury and excess-centric inhabitants of the Capitol of Panem. The drink is a combination of Frangelico, sour cherry macerate and cherry brandy.

Could you survive a 24-hour techno purge?

If you cannot imagine going offline for a day, then partaking in the third annual National Unplug Day in the U.S., which begin at sundown tonight, is probably not for you. The campaign stems from a project called Sabbath Manifesto, which is inspired by the Judian principle that "on the seventh day thou shalt rest." Approximately 1,200 people have pledged through

According to wires, Reboot, the nonprofit behind the project, gained recent attention when they sponsored a SXSW panel discussion called 'Tech Detox: Can You Survive a Day Without Technology?' During the panel, the entrepreneurs and tech founders extolled the benefits of unplugging periodically from their social networks, laptops and other devices. Reboot later hosted an 'unplugged' party where they set a world record for most cell phones powered off at once.


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NBTC Conference 2012

The National Business and Technology Conference (NBTC), which runs March 23 and March 24 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, has been Nspire's annual flagship event since it started in 2001 by a group of University of Toronto students with the goal of merging the fields of business and technology. This prestigious event brings together 300 young leaders and numerous industry professionals from across North America to participate in interactive workshops, listen to inspiring speakers, compete in the consulting case and entrepreneurship competitions, and enrich their networks. For a full list of speakers, click here.


Moves to drive sales your CEO will applaud

A study finds that 73 per cent of chief executive officers think marketers are not the business-growth generators they should be. Here's how to prove that wrong. Join columnist and marketing expert Ryan Caligiuri for an online discussion today at 11 a.m. (ET)


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