MSME Exporters to receive valuable training from Services Go Global programme

 

The global market for the export of services has eclipsed traditional sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing in terms of contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and overall contribution to the economy. Currently, two-thirds of the global economy’s output is from services. However, it is recorded that only 20% of world trade is in the form of services as this sector has been more difficult to measure and export due to many limitations, including the lack of focus on export training programmes for service.

Services Go Global, an export educational programme, attempts to provide a solution to the lack of export training Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME’s) have. These companies have fewer resources and cannot fund the use of consultants or other tools to support their export development. This need for technical assistance creates many problems for these entities, and stymies their growth due to lack of access to foreign markets.

Developed by Diane Girard through the Global Links Network, the programme features 12 modules in 4 sections which includes training on preparing Your Business, conducting market research, developing a marketing strategy and entering the market.

The Services Go Global programme is to be delivered by a certified instructor and Jamaica has a total of three (3) trained instructors, two of which currently reside within JAMPRO. The programme launched in January 2015 and had a ceremony for the first batch of graduates on May 29, 2015 in the JAMPRO Board Room.

The exporters developed their own export strategies with the help of the trained instructors and were better able to prepare for their transition from being a participant in the local market, to being a participant in the global market.

The programme provides training for a variety of exportable services including:  Business Process Outsourcing, Design, Distance learning, Film and Video, Financial, Graphic Design, Health and Wellness, ICT, Music and Performing Arts , all of which have been targeted as priority in Jamaica’s National Export Strategy.

Services Go Global will continue to deliver certified instructors and create a system where potential exporters will be constantly improving their skills and receiving the tools needed to explore and access foreign markets.

 

For a more comprehensive list check out: http://www.global-links-network.com/trade-in-services.html

 

Trainers Become Certified in Services Go Global (SGG)

SGG-300x195Becoming export ready should no longer be an issue for seven (7) Jamaican firms in the services sector which participated in the Services Go Global (SGG) Trainer Certification Programme, conducted by The Jamaica Coalition of Services Industries (JCSI), JAMPRO and the Caribbean Export Development Agency in collaboration with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

Within the services sector it was recognized that there were limitations in the ability of some SMEs to adequately develop an actionable strategy to enter export markets.  Thus in order to support in this endeavour, the Caribbean Network of Services Coalitions (CNSC) made a call for the development of a training programme to address specifically Services sector issues. Services Go Global was developed to addresses this challenge; in September 2014, a Training of Trainer programme was held for Trainers from across the Region. Some 28 Trainers were exposed to the training and this week the Jamaican Trainers were the second grouping to undergo Certification under the Initiative; Barbados was the venue for the first session held. In the coming month, other Trainers from around the Region will undergo Certification at two (2) similar events in Antigua & Barbuda and St. Lucia.

The Trainers certified last week were Ms. Nsombi Jaja and Mr. Robert Scott of Jamaica, in addition to Mr. Jose Gautreau and Mr. Radhames Vargas of the Dominican Republic.   Trainers facilitated the Services Go Global programme for seven (7) local SMEs across different spectrums of the Services sector. An outcome of this training would be the development of an Export Plan by the seven (7) companies who attended.

The Services Go Global (SGG) programme has been developed to optimize the CARIFORUM region’s export of services through the facilitation of a training programme that prepares firms to develop a market ready export plan in order to capitalize on opportunities under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), CARICOM Single Market (CSM) and other existing 3rd party Trade Agreements; and to establish a cadre of certified Trainers for the SGG platform geared to assist SME’s in the Services Sector.

“Export Readiness” is key to entering new markets and within the programme participants will cover 4 key areas:  preparing businesses for export which looks at understanding trade in services, assessing export-readiness and developing an export plan; conducting market research including researching markets and sectors and gathering market intelligence; developing a marketing strategy including starting a marketing plan and developing an online strategy; and entering the market which will review market entry options, financing, getting paid and also contracting and legal aspects associated with exporting services.

The SGG Trainer Certification programme was implemented in three (3) stages.  The first being the application and approval stage which was completed in early April and closely followed by stage two where trainers were required to prepare mini export plans and complete an online examination.  It is only after successfully completing those stages that approved trainers were able to participate in the final trainer delivery assessment session which was just completed in Jamaica at the JAMPRO Offices in Kingston from 26th-29th May, 2015.

 

About Caribbean Export

Caribbean Export is a regional export development and trade and investment promotion organisation of the Forum of Caribbean States (CARIFORUM) currently executing the Regional Private Sector Programme (RPSDP) funded by the European Union  under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF)  Caribbean Export’s mission is to increase the competitiveness of Caribbean countries by providing quality export development and trade and investment promotion services through effective programme execution and strategic alliances.

More information about Caribbean Export can be found at www.carib-export.com.  Contact: JoEllen Laryea, PR and Communications, Caribbean Export Development Agency, Tel: +1(246) 436-0578, Fax: +1(246) 436-9999, Email: jlaryea@carib-export.com

Five Year Extension of JAMPRO and CESO Partnership

CESO logoFollowing the announcement by the Government of Canada, CESO (Canadian Executive Service Organization) on May 20, 2015 announced the considerable expansion of its international economic development program as part of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) Volunteer Cooperation Program (VCP).   CESO is pleased to announce a 66 per cent boost in DFATD-funding, leading to the execution of 1,750 individual volunteer assignments in 16 project countries across Africa, Latin and South America, the Caribbean, and Asia – including 12 projects scheduled for Jamaica.

CESO’s new five-year program is called “Strengthening Capacity through Innovation and Volunteer Expertise,” with the actively used acronym, STRIVE. STRIVE’s expansion will engage more than 1,500 Canadians as Volunteer Advisors (VAs), who are highly-skilled and senior-level professionals from the public and private sectors. Through the transfer of knowledge and expertise of VAs, CESO will strengthen the capacity of 60 local institutional partners and the many individual clients in their networks, including local institutions, public sector agencies, and regional economic associations in program countries.

CESO activities will support both inclusive private sector development, primarily in the manufacturing, tourism and hospitality, agribusiness, and microfinance sectors; as well as institutional strengthening, including democratic governance and strengthening public management systems and capacities at both national and municipal levels. Results are achieved through the use of the skills and expertise of CESO Volunteer Advisors, and will impact more than 400,000 individuals around the world.

“One of the things that makes CESO different is the tremendous value our Volunteer Advisors bring to the table in Canada and around the world as senior- and executive-level professionals. We have refined our model over the last 47 years, and this increase in funding, and the relative expansion of our program scope is a clear indication that our government recognizes and supports the value of private sector participation as an effective mechanism of sustainable poverty reduction.” says Wendy Harris, President & CEO of CESO.

Jamaica’s partnership with CESO began in June 2014, which subsequently led to the appointment of JAMPRO as Country Representative. JAMPRO supports CESO’s activities by managing the application process for projects and giving oversight to consultancies between clients and Volunteer Advisors (VA). During the latter part of 2014, a total of six (6) projects were executed in areas of export, operational structure and knowledge management. With the announcement of CESO’s new five (5) year programme STRIVE, JAMPRO, as CESO’s Country Representative, will continue to manage the assignments under this extension and will support capacity building in local SMEs as well as the public sector.

To benefit from this programme, applicants can simply complete and submit the application forms.

Jamaica Spa Association’s Official Launch

Paulette Clarke , Jacqui Giscombe , Sandra Samuels-Reid and Marie Hall Smith ( Members of the JSPA Board of Directors)

Paulette Clarke , Jacqui Giscombe , Sandra Samuels-Reid and Marie Hall Smith ( Members of the JSPA Board of Directors)

May 19, 2015 marked a milestone for the Health and Wellness tourism sector in Jamaica as the Jamaica Spa Association (JSpa) was finally brought to fruition. The official launch took place at JAMPRO’s Business Auditorium with several key stakeholders in the sector present including Camille Needham of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) and Deanne Keating-Campbell of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo).

Marjorie Straw, Head  of the Jamaica Coalition of Services Industries (JCSI) and Manager of Special Projects at JAMPRO gave a warm and enthusiastic opening followed by remarks from Diane Edwards, Chair of the Health and Wellness Steering Committee. Ms. Edwards congratulated the board of the Jamaica Spa Association and indicated that the Steering Committee will continue to offer their support.

Mrs. Marie Hall-Smith, President of the Association, gave an overview of the JSPA. She highlighted the Association’s mission, vision, objectives and membership fee structure and emphasised the necessity of the JSPA for the Wellness industry to reach its’ full potential.

Through the assistance of the Caribbean Development Bank’s CARTFund and Department for International Development (DFID), there will be significant support to build capacity and increase the technical expertise of spa practitioners.

The aim is to strengthen the competitiveness of the industry, so that consumers will come to expect and receive a certain standard of service when they visit a spa within the Region. To make this aim a reality, the implementation of standards will be a key focus of the Association and a high national priority for all Jamaican spas.

It was noted that the association has great potential for growth and many opportunities are available within the sector, but it will require hard work and support from the industry players. If commitment is given to the JSPA, the body will be of great benefit to not just the Spa industry but to the Health and Wellness sector as a whole.

Prof. Winston Davidson, Chairman of the Standards Council at the Bureau of Standards (BSJ) in response to a question posed by the audience explained that three main components would need to be evaluated and monitored moving forward.  The product, process, and services must be closely monitored for the JSPA to be successful. If these three aspects were up to standard and coincided with what consumers were seeking, then the potential growth was limitless.

The event ended with networking and a membership drive where individuals were able to interact with the board of the Jamaica Spa Association and industry stakeholders.

 

For more information on the Jamaica Spa Association :Jamaica Spa Association Webpage

 

 

Karen

Powerful Documentary Advocates Reparation

Source: The Gleaner

Author: Michael Reckord

The audience gave Jamaican film-maker Karen Marks Mafundikwa a standing ovation on Sunday afternoon after her documentary, The Price of Memory, was screened in the Neville Hall Lecture Theatre, University of the West Indies, Mona.

Discussion, comments and questions continued for nearly an hour in the packed auditorium after the Jamaican premiere of the film. Its major themes are the legacy of slavery in Jamaica, reparation for the injustices done during and after slavery, and repatriation to Africa.

It was clear that, overwhelmingly, the viewers of the 83-minute documentary, which took more than a decade to make, felt they had had a meaningful experience. Shot in Jamaica and England, it also used much footage from the archives of the National Library of Jamaica and elsewhere.

The Queen is the first person mentioned in the printed programme's 'cast' list, though her role is not that of the traditional 'star', since she does not appear to favour the reparation that the film advocates. Still, she was a catalyst for the work, which grew out of a project undertaken by the writer/director when she decided to make a brief documentary on the Queen's visit to Jamaica to celebrate her Golden Jubilee.

Others appearing in the film who were also in the audience included Philmore Alvaranga, who was among the first groups of Rastafarians going to Africa to discuss repatriation in 1961, UWI lecturer Dr Clinton Hutton, and attorneys-at-law Michael 'Miguel' Lorne and Lord Anthony Gifford. Gifford is shown speaking in the House of Lords in favour of reparation, as are many Jamaican members of parliament when the matter is shown being debated in Gordon House. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller is among them. Central Clarendon Member of Parliament Mike Henry, who was in the audience, said that the Government was committed to continue the controversial debate and he hoped that the matter would eventually be put to the Jamaican people for a decision as to the way forward.

Musical Meditation

About 15 minutes of Rasta drumming and chanting by the band, Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, preceded the showing of the film. Their first song, a greeting in Yoruba, was followed by We All Have a Right to Live Right, By the Rivers of Babylon, Give Mi Back Mi Language an Mi Culture, and Waan Go Home.

The documentary has already earned a nomination for the Best Documentary Feature and People's Choice Award for the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival to be held in Port-of-Spain from September 16-30. It was screened in Los Angeles at the Pan African Film Festival, the Africa in Motion Film Festival 2014, and Just Festival 2014, in Glasgow, and Mafundikwa, the Senior Consulting Officer in JAMPRO's Film Commission and Creative Industries Unit, told The Gleaner that it would again be shown in Jamaica, in Montego Bay, during National Heroes week in October.

Jamaican Girls Coding Camp – Creating Opportunities for Girls in Information Technology

Participants of the Jamaican Girls Coding Camp along with Elese Ebanks ( Web Developer / Programmer - Instructor for the Girls) , Min. Julian Robinson ( Minister of State – MSTEM) , Diane Edwards (President – JAMPRO) , Lorna Green ( Founder of GSW Animation Studios) , Marjorie Straw (Chair – JCSI) , Dianne Wan ( Animator at GSW Animation Studios and Instructor for the Girls)

On the morning of July 28 , 2014 , 23 girls hesitantly trickled into the Musson Foundation room on 58 Half Way Tree Road , Kingston 10. They were greeted by Mr. Richardson Franklin , Ms. Marjorie Straw and a handful of volunteers from the JCSI and JAMPRO. Fast forward to August 22 , 2014 , a mere four weeks later and these girls are no longer hesitant but now hopeful and in the words of Nastassia Walters , one of the participants , " ready to continue the legacy of coding and be outstanding achievers."
The Jamaica Coalition of Service Industries (JCSI) from its inception has been tasked by the Caribbean Development Bank/DFID Project to identify initiatives that seek to address gender issues such as the significantly unacceptable gender gap in the Information and Communication Technology sector, whilst contributing to the development of key priority sectors. It is from this issue that the Jamaican Girls Coding Camp was born.

 

 
The camp drew inspiration from international programs such as Girls Who Code and Black Girls Code , programs which were both developed to address the gender gap in the information technology sector. Information Technology is currently and is likely to remain one of the fastest growing industries. 21st century is dynamic and constantly changing and in order to succeed in such a fast paced industry one must be equipped with the right tools and inspired by the opportunities.

 
With the constant support of Mrs. Melanie Subratie - VP at Productive Business Solutions and organizer of Women Who Code - Jamaica chapter we were able to provide our girls with the right tools. Mrs. Subratie aided with the securing of the room , t-shirts , A.V. support and snacks for the entire period and whose organization generously gifted each girl in the program with a tablet at the end of the program. During the four weeks, the girls were introduced to website design/development, introduction to HTML, coding – concepts and practices of computational thinking, sequence and loops. They also learnt introduction to animation using Toon Boom software from Reel Rock GSW Animation Studios.

 

 

DBJ welcomes banks’ new approach to small businesses

Source: Jamaica Observer

Managing Director of the Development Bank of Jamaica Milverton Reynolds (centre) speaking with MSME Alliance President Donovan Wignall, and businesswoman and chair of the Jamaica Association of Micro Financing Limited, Dr Blossom Omeally-Nelson, at the recent general assembly meeting and expo at the Jamaica Public Service Company Sports Club in Kingston.

MANAGING director of the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), Milverton Reynolds, says that the DBJ has detected a change in attitude among commercial banks, in terms of financing small and medium-sized businesses.

Reynolds told members of the Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSME) Alliance, at their recent general assembly meeting and expo at the Jamaica Public Service Company Sports Club, Ruthven Road, Kingston, that in recent times the commercial banks have shown a willingness to grant loans to the MSMEs.

"We have seen the willingness, and one of the reason for this is that the days when the banks could park their money in government security and make huge amounts of profits are gone. So now, they themselves have to be retooling their operations to be able to do some real banking, which is to assess loans that come before them for productive purposes," Reynolds said.

The DBJ head was responding to questions from members of the alliance about the reluctance by commercial banks to lend money to small enterprises and farmers.

Reynolds said that last year the DBJ successfully filtered more than $2 billion into the sector, through the commercial institutions, including private and PC banks, which are known as approved financial institutions, compared to micro-finance institutions. However, MSME Alliance member and former MP for South East St Elizabeth, Lenworth Blake, said that the funds were not visible in his parish, and questioned why they have to be funnelled through the approved institutions.

"I don't feel it among the small farmers (in St Elizabeth), and this year it will be $3 billion and one sector could hog it up. [For] those with connections, let us look at the various sectors and allocate it according to sectors or else we could end up with two sectors sharing the whole $3 billion," Blake commented, in response to Reynolds' announcement that the DBJ has increased its funding to the sector from $2 billion in 2013/14 to $3 billion in 2014/15.

"The agriculture sector is one of the key sectors benefiting from the loans, most of which flow through the PC Banks, which exist in every parish," Reynolds pointed out. However, he said that some areas may get more than others. For example, poultry, which benefits from a well-structured business environment, is supported by the broiler companies.

"The testimony to this is the fact that the agricultural sector is the fastest-growing sector in the country, and it is the DBJ, through the PC banks and some of the commercial banks, which provides the bulk of the funding for agriculture in this country," he pointed out.

Reynolds said that it was not possible for the DBJ to lend directly to the businesses, because it does not have the infrastructure in place to do the lending.

"The banks already have it. They have branches in all of the parishes...while we would have to build in the cost of that level of administration into the loans," he noted. "What I think that we have to do together is to force the banks to make the funding available to the MSMEs. I think if we work together we can get this done and, as I have said, we have seen the willingness," the DBJ head said.

"To be honest with you, a number of the banks and especially some of the major ones have indicated a willingness to work with us in this regard, so let us work together to push them a little further," he suggested.

How Can World Trade Talks Stay Relevant?

Source: CNSC

By Michelle On 

The Bali agreement rescued the World Trade Organization (WTO) from oblivion, but it also underscored the severe limitations of multilateral negotiations and the need to reform the institution. Encouragingly, it also points the way to how the WTO can change.

In Bali, the WTO reaffirmed the importance of its development mandate, but only by reiterating the contents of prior agreements, adding little new. It also, however, took a significant step forward and one, smaller one, backward. The step forward was to establish trade facilitation – in this case essentially entailing the proper functioning of customs – as part and parcel of the WTO’s functioning, including the creation of a standing committee to oversee the implementation of the agreement.

The step backward was to allow (temporarily, but temporary easily becomes permanent in trade policy) India and other developing countries a major exception to limits on agricultural subsidies on account of food security. It is easy to imagine how such an exception will make it more difficult to make progress on eliminating all trade-distorting agricultural subsidies, traditionally a defensive agenda of advanced countries, and one on which the WTO supposedly plays a unique role. And failure to move on agricultural subsidies in the future will reduce the chances that advanced countries will obtain their long-sought quid pro quo, which is improved and more secure access to manufacturing and service markets in developing countries.

But trade facilitation stood out as an exception on which many could agree. True, the significance of the trade facilitation agreement can be easily overstated, since in Bali it was whittled down to what is effectively a “best efforts” endeavour with an open-ended implementation schedule for developing countries. This includes freedom on their part to self-select what gets done faster, and what gets done on an indefinite schedule. Meanwhile, advanced countries and some developing countries have already largely implemented the good practices the agreement entails, such as prompt publication of changes in regulations, pre-shipping inspections where appropriate, redress procedures, and rapid processing times. But the importance of the trade facilitation agreement can also be understated, since extensive research has shown that the cost of custom delays can easily outstrip that of tariffs, and even a “best efforts” international agreement can strengthen the hands of reformers when the political will to improve exists.

Still, even the staunchest multilateralists will agree that Bali represents slim pickings for a wide-ranging negotiation that began in Doha 12 years before, and that negotiations involving 160 very diverse countries (Yemen being the latest addition) are very unlikely to yield anything other than minimum common denominator outcomes. Bali therefore underscores the need to move to a more efficient model for WTO negotiations, one that can involve a smaller, critical mass of players willing to engage on a narrow set of issues – so-called “plurilaterals” – rather than requiring that all countries agree on every aspect. There are illustrious precedents for this, including, for example the government procurement agreement, the information technology agreement and the agreement on financial services, all three of which are now the object of negotiation to be extended or deepened in various ways.

The problem with plurilaterals is not only that countries understandably resist any attempt to impose WTO disciplines on them if they have not been part of the negotiation, but they are also reluctant to let others negotiate agreements under the WTO aegis (including dispute settlement, etc.) that puts them at a disadvantage. Short of conducting the negotiations outside the WTO (as in the current case of the negotiations on TISA – the Trade in Services Agreement), there are three complementary ways to square this circle: grant the excluded countries similar terms as the included ones, include them in the negotiations even if they ultimately opt out of the final deal, and side payments.

The Bali package is billed as a multilateral deal since everyone was involved in its negotiation, but, given its narrow nature, it can equally be interpreted as a plurilateral deal on trade facilitation since, by allowing plenty of wiggle room in its provisions and allowing developing countries indefinite implementation periods, the trade facilitation agreement effectively bestows a near-free rider status on those that choose not to pursue it. In this light, the reaffirmation of the development mandate, especially for least developed countries, and the food security exception for India were side payments for a rather limited agreement on trade facilitation.

The loose provisions in the trade facilitation deal are far from satisfactory from a narrow legal perspective. But from a development perspective, the picture is not as bleak: most countries want to undertake these reforms anyway, and given the complexities of carrying them out in a politicized environment, one can still see the agreement as a big step forward, since it establishes a roadmap and gives reforms a jolt, leaving open the possibility that more binding disciplines will be agreed in the future.

Thus, an important achievement of Bali – and one for which the new Director General Roberto Acevedo has to be recognized – is that it points the way to a more flexible modus operandi for the WTO, one that may allow for progress in other relatively narrow aspects of the Doha agenda in the future, or to go beyond Doha. Bali could also begin to shift the emphasis from the legalism for which the WTO and its predecessor, the GATT (the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), are well known, onto the encouragement and support of trade reforms at a country’s own pace.

Moreover, everyone should recognize that progress in world trade does not depend only on the WTO, even though the institution continues to play a crucial role in keeping trade open and predictable. Regional agreements supplanted it long ago as the most active arena of international negotiations and will take on even greater prominence in the future as a number of mega-regional deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership take shape, even if some of them ultimately fail.

Furthermore, technology trends and the domestic pressure to enact reforms have always been the most important drivers of global trade by far, and will continue to be. With the growth of foreign direct investment and the proliferation of global value chains, foreign investment and trade have become an essential component of production, making self-sufficiency almost unthinkable. And the rise of an informed middle class in developing countries places new demands for access to quality products at a reasonable price.

Contrary to the dire predictions of trade pessimists, there is thus little reason to doubt that world trade will resume its rapid upward trajectory as the effects of the financial crisis recede. That, in turn, will raise the stakes on revitalizing the WTO as a central plank of post-war prosperity. Hopefully, Bali will be remembered as the first step in the institution’s long and hard journey of reform.

From: World Economic Forum, January 14, 2014 - http://forumblog.org/2014/01/how-can-the-world-trade-organization-stay-relevant/

For $25 You Can Now Take a Film Class Taught By James Franco

Source: Fast Company

BY 

James Franco, the author, the poet, the actor, the director, the artist, and the selfie enthusiast are all public figures. But James Franco, the professor, has up until now mostly been known to students in his USC and UCLA film classes.

On Tuesday, that will change when Franco launches an open screenwriting class on the online learning community Skillshare.

“Filmmaking is such an insular world, and so many people want to do it, but the film schools are very hard to get into and are very expensive,” he told Fast Company about his decision to create the class. “I’m a big advocate for people going out and doing it and not waiting around for someone to let them into the gates of the film world. I hope this allows some people to do that.”

Skillshare is a membership-based website that offers about 300 classes spanning everything from marketing to crafts. Students, who pay $9.95 each month, watch lectures at their own pace, and submit small assignments for peer feedback as they work toward a large product. Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, Barbara Corcoran, Marc Ecko, Young Guru (Jay Z's producer), and Jessica Hische have all moonlighted as teachers.

Franco's students will create a script for a short film based on one of three texts: The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, Winesburg, Ohio: A Group of Tales of Ohio Small-Town Life by Sherwood Anderson, or Pastures of Heaven by John Steinbeck. The actor split 15 video lectures with his business partner, Vince Jolivette, who covers practical aspects like building a budget and preparing a pitch. Tuition, which isn't covered with Skillshare membership, costs $25 (members do get a 20% discount).

As you might expect, the experience isn’t quite like Franco’s university classes.

Franco, aside from the pre-recorded lectures, won’t actually be interacting with most students. Famously busy and currently starring in Of Mice and Men on Broadway, finishing up a course he teaches at UCLA, marketing a movie based on his book based on his life, and filming The Aderall Diaries, he won’t weigh in on the class until July 24th, when he will read the 10 completed scripts that have earned the most "likes" from the class and then deliver direct feedback on his favorite.

In other words, this is not a good way to meet James Franco. It may, however, be a decent way to learn the basics of screenwriting.

The final project, a completed script, is split into 10 progressive steps. Students will interact with each other as they submit each of them to a community forum for discussion. “As far as the writing goes, there are just certain basics, and experts use them and beginners use them, too,” Franco says. “I’m just trying to get those things across and build a little community of people who can hopefully continue working together.”

5 STEPS TO TURN INSPIRATION INTO ACTION

Source: Fast Company

How many times have you read a great article, or had an idea, or wanted to make a change … but then didn’t?

It’s one of the biggest frustrations for people who read this site: people blame themselves for not implementing a plan to change habits.

It takes a switch in gears.

I remember a boatload of times when I’ve been really inspired by something, but then didn’t take action. I wanted to run a marathon, do a triathlon, write a book, start a blog, lose weight, get out of debt, start waking early, simplify my life. But I didn’t actually do anything about it.

I was busy. I was tired. I had other things to do. But those were just excuses.

I learned a few things that worked for me, and within a year or so, I’d done all those things I mentioned above. I took action and made them happen. The excuses got beat.

Here’s what works for me:

1. TELL SOMEONE YOU’RE GOING TO DO IT.

If you just think it in your head, you’re not committed. It won’t happen. Start by getting up and telling someone near you, right now. Or email someone.

2. NOW CARVE OUT TIME.

Lots of people actually do step 1 but not this step. You have to make the time. Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day--when will you do it? After what part of your regular routine? Even if you don’t have a routine, there are things you do every day: wake up, maybe shower and/or brush your teeth, eat breakfast or lunch, open your computer, get off work or school, go to bed, etc. Put it on your calendar, right away.

Start as small as you can. Most people make the mistake of overcommitting, because they’re so inspired. But you’re less likely to succeed if you say that you’re going to work out an hour a day, or learn a new skill for two hours a day. Even 30 minutes a day is too much. Start with 10. Or five. Or two, if you’re really busy. You have time for two minutes a day.

3. REALLY COMMIT.

The biggest reason most people fail is they’re not really committed. You tell someone, and you think you’re committed, but you’re not. If you’re really committed, write it on your blog (or start one). Post it on Facebook or Twitter. Tell 100 people about it. Put money on it. Say that you’ll sing in public if you fail. Make people hold you accountable.

4. HAVE REMINDERS.

It’s easy to forget when you start out. If you want to go for a 10-minute run after you wake up, you need something to make sure you don’t forget: put your running shoes next to your bed or in your doorway, laid out with running clothes. Or sleep in your running clothes. Put up a big sign somewhere you won’t miss it. Use sticky notes, stuck to your computer. Computer and phone reminders are good too.

5. AT THE MOMENT WHEN YOU WANT TO AVOID IT, PAUSE.

There will be a moment (or a bunch of moments) when you think, “Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow.” That’s the moment you have to not let pass idly by. Stop yourself, and just sit there for a moment, not going on your computer, just turning inward. What are you afraid of? What’s stopping you? There is a discomfort you’re trying to avoid. Instead, smile, and start. Do it and enjoy it in the moment. You’ll love it.

This article originally appeared in Zen Habits and is reprinted with permission.