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As consumers shift away from the movie theaters, Vimeo is hoping to make money streaming indie-flicks on demand.
Vimeo announced today a partnership between its pay-per-view service, Vimeo on Demand, and the Toronto Film Festival that will offer a $10,000 advance to filmmakers who stream their movies exclusively on the site for 30 days.
As part of the deal, the movies Vimeo on Demand picks up from the film festival will go for $4.99 per stream--comparable to most feature films on the platform--and if Vimeo recoups its $10,000 advance, any additional revenue will be split so that filmmakers get a 90 percent cut, after transaction costs.
For Chief Executive Kerry Trainor, the festival partnership made sense, not only because the spirit of independent filmmaking is "a core part of our community," he said, but because the platform is still figuring out "the right formula" for original content.
Trainor also said he thinks there is a future for big-budget blockbusters in this respect. "Just the economics of bringing them to market is enormous," he said, noting Hollywood's frustration with doozies like The Lone Ranger, which may have fared better as a straight-to-DVD venture, saving Disney, which produced it, a massive write-down and marketing costs.
The news comes as several video platforms experiment with original and exclusive content. Netflix's foray into original content--with House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black-- has been wildly successful (while presenting new challenges for the company to figure out), while Hulu has joined the fray with original series featuring the likes of Kevin Smith (Spoilers) and 500 Days of Summer producer Marc Web (Battleground). In the meantime, Amazon is rumored to be dabbling in TV production.
Employee recognition is priceless, yet it costs nothing. Here's how to keep your team motivated by rewarding them wisely.
According to recognition expert Dr. Bob Nelson, the most effective employee rewards are also the least expensive. You don’t need to send employees on pricey vacations to Hawaii or present elaborate trophies. In the vast majority of cases, a simple and heartfelt verbal or written thank-you will ensure your people feel appreciated. And you can shake things up by handing out inexpensive rewards such as gift cards for Amazon.com, discount restaurant coupons, gas cards or a paid afternoon away from the office.
The trick to giving your people rewards that make a real difference is to personalize them -- this is a case where one size definitely does not fit all. Find out what kinds of rewards are most motivating to your employees, and then tailor your recognition accordingly. In addition, keep the following secrets in mind when you're recognizing and rewarding good work:
1. Be Quick
For recognition to be effective, it needs to be closely linked to the behavior being rewarded. This means rewarding an employee immediately when, for example, she goes above and beyond the call of duty on a customer service initiative. Don’t wait a month or two after the fact. By that time, the employee may have already forgotten what it was that she did to earn the recognition.
2. Be Specific
Generalities have no place when you’re rewarding your employees. Point out the specific behavior that you are recognizing, and explain to the employee why you appreciate it: "You did a remarkable job pulling together the data for that marketing survey. Because of your excellent work, we were able to deliver our report to a key client ahead of schedule!"
3. Be Personal
Effective management is all about building relationships and trust with your people. It’s always best to convey your praise in person and publicly, in front of the employee’s peers, whenever possible. If you can’t arrange for a personal, face-to-face praising in a timely way, then use the telephone or Skype, or send an email, text message or handwritten note.
4. Be Sincere
Be sure your thanks are sincere and from your heart. The easiest way to do this is to offer thanks when you really are appreciative. Don’t fake it when it comes to recognizing employees. Your people will see right through your lukewarm praise, and they will discount the recognition that you give them.
5. Be Positive
We’ve all experienced what it feels like to be thanked by a boss for doing something right ... and then immediately cut down a notch for doing something wrong. When you thank someone and then immediately follow it with a "but," everything before the "but" is discounted by the employee and everything after is amplified. Focus on the positives, and save the negative feedback for another occasion.
Recognizing and rewarding employees can be a remarkably powerful part of any manager’s toolbox. Take time to do it the right way, and you will be rewarded in kind.
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Online education companies like Udacity and Coursera aim to give jobseekers a shot at advancing their careers.
Brian Bonus was suffering from a quarter-life crisis. Having spent his post-college years as a junior editor for broadcast commercials, the 28-year-old was looking to change careers. But like so many other young professionals, the thought of spending the time and money to go back to school was daunting. Instead, Bonus signed up for an introductory computer science course on Udacity, a site that gives real college courses away for free online. Through Udacity and other platforms for so-called "massively open online courses," or MOOCs, he taught himself Java from scratch, all while working a full-time job. Finally, in February, he left his job as a film editor to become a developer for the site Good.is.
"I was surprised how much I enjoyed coding," Bonus says. "At first I wasn't sure what direction I wanted to take with it, but what you learn in those classes really can set you up for a job."
Much has been made of the potential for MOOC providers like Udacity, Coursera, and edX to radically democratize access to education around the world. Still, some, including Udacity's own CEO Sebastian Thrun have admitted that the field still has a long way to go before MOOCs can serve as a true replacement for on-campus learning. In the meantime, however, these sites have emerged as a viable option for jobseekers looking to brush up on or learn new skills to compete in today’s workforce.
"If you're in the workforce, you can't take a year and a half off to get a masters degree," Thrun says. "Now, we can go to people mid-career who might have a hard time going back to school and help them get jobs."
A Source for New Talent
Udacity has been receiving inquiries about its students from tech companies since it first launched. That's partly to do with the fact that Thrun is a well-known Google Fellow, as well as the fact that Udacity, unlike its biggest competitor Coursera, focuses primarily on computer science courses. "That's why I teach computer science," says Thrun, who is also a research professor of computer science at Stanford. "It's a subject with ample employment opportunities."
Now, he says, about 50 companies receive regular updates about the students Udacity deems hirable. The company also has an internal résumé site for employers. Some tech companies are even working directly with Udacity to train their own employees or train the public in skills they perceive to be in high demand. Google, for instance, has enrolled 80,000 students in its HTML5 course, which was spearheaded by the Chrome Developer Relations team. Meanwhile, AT&T is sponsoring a breakthrough program between Georgia Tech and Udacity to offer a Masters of Computer Science for $7,000, an initiative recently mentioned by President Obama in a speech on higher education. AT&T's goal, Thrun says, is to enroll its own employees in the program to help them update their base of knowledge.
"Bringing MOOCs to undergraduates is a higher mountain to climb," Thrun says. "Our sweet spots are the people who want to get learning done. One of the many reasons we love the career perspective is because we’re getting more mature candidates."
Bringing Online Ed In-House
But existing MOOC providers like Udacity and Coursera aren't the only ones using free online education to prepare people for jobs. The Muse, a career advice and job search site, recently launched Muse University, which trains students in subjects like landing a promotion and management 101. Aquent, a Boston-based staffing company for digital marketing professionals, also recently launched a MOOC platform of its own called Aquent Gymnasium. Its first class, Coding for Designers, launched in July, and so far, more than 8,000 students have enrolled. The goal of that class, says Andrew Miller, program director of Aquent Gymnasium, is to help designers trained in the print medium understand coding well enough that they can design for a digital medium. It's a skill, Miller says, that Aquent's clients were clamoring for. "Most designers can make pictures, and that's it. Nowadays, people want designers who can produce prototypes," he says. "We're not trying to turn designers into developers. We're trying to turn them into designers developers want to work with."
Aquent held similar courses during the first dotcom boom, but the training happened in a physical classroom. "This model is a lot more efficient for people who are currently working," he says. After the course is finished, Aquent's talent agents begin reaching out to top performers and recommending them to their corporate clients. Some existing clients have also signed their current employees up for the Aquent Gymnasium class.
John Moore, digital director of Fish Marketing in Portland, Oregon, for instance, recently sent two of the agency’s graphic designers through the program. Both had been trained in print, and, says Moore, "They had a rough transition," moving into the digital world. "Coding is something you can learn from these courses and become an expert at it," says Moore. "It's a great way for people to continue their education and develop their careers."
Hammering away at your desk is doing nothing for your creative juices.
In a recent interview, New York Mayor and entrepreneur Michael Bloomberg attributed his success to getting to work early, never taking vacations, and skipping bathroom breaks. Success, he argues, comes with hard work, toil, and bladder control.
But is Bloomberg’s recipe for success any good? In a corporate setting, it may increase your chances of being noticed by your superiors. But it can squash your chance at being creative and inspired.
And these days isn’t being a creative innovator what gets you noticed?
To increase your creativity you need to learn how to drop out from time to time, leave the grid, and take some personal time. You need to surround yourself by people who don’t know you or what you do. You need to live in a completely different environment. You need to escape your context.
Gustave Flaubert famously said, “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” But Flaubert didn’t really follow his own advice. During a creative lull he escaped to Egypt and lived a wild, crazy life. When he returned to France he began work on Madame Bovary--his best, most renowned work.
When Steve Jobs was 19 he should have been finishing up college and trying to settle on a serious career. Instead, he left for India in an attempt to find a spiritual guide. He spent seven months there, wandering around without shoes on. He learned a lot about himself and began to embrace a counterculture. His experiences led him to look at the world in a new, creative way.
Benjamin Franklin visited Europe before the Revolutionary War and spent many years away from his desk. Instead, he hung out with great thinkers, scientists, and powerful statesman. He spent a week with David Hume, met King Louis XV, and witnessed firsthand the poverty of Ireland. His experiences solidified his anti-British beliefs. When he returned to the colonies he lent his powerful pen and his European connections to the American Revolution.
Vacations or long periods of time spent away from the daily routine can help trigger creativity, fresh ideas, and new, life-changing beliefs. Sitting at your desk for long periods of time can be productive, but it can also limit your creative output.
If you want to be more creative, use these end days of summer to explore and have fun. And don’t worry about using the bathroom.
Are you working 80+ hours a week and headed for burnout? Here are a few tactics I use to work smarter, not harder that you can try for yourself.
Think just because you run a business that it’s got to be all work and no play? Don’t remember the last time you took a vacation? Do you regularly put in 80-hour weeks? If you answered yes to any, or all of these questions you may be headed for burnout; an all too common side effect of the ultra busy work life we’ve programmed ourselves to believe is necessary to succeed. But is it? Here are a few tactics I use to work smarter, not harder that you can try for yourself.
Get Rid of Time-Wasters
Do you really need that meeting or can you just walk over to someone and get to the bottom of an issue?
Do you really need to “take it offline” in a meeting? To me that means another meeting.
Do you check your e-mail all day long? Cut the cord and start checking it only a few times a day. Trust me, you can do it. And if something is so urgent, it can’t wait a few hours for a reply, the sender will find another way to ask you such as in-person (fathom the thought!), via text, phone call or IM.
Are you trying to do everything yourself? You.must.stop.now. As the leader of a company, you’ve got to delegate and delegate well. Sure delegating means giving up control, but when you’ve got talented people, this is no big deal. And if you don’t delegate and allow others to be part of the decision and execution of projects, you’ll start losing people pretty quickly, resulting in more work for you to hire new ones.
Categorize Then Prioritize
For instance, if you’ve got to pay your vendors and return a few phone calls, paying your vendors might take priority. Put the phone down and give yourself a half-hour to write checks.
Block your calendar out for specific things, then check them off the list - If you’ve got a ton of e-mail to read, shut your door and pound through a day of e-mails.
Work at home (if you can) one day per week. Many times if you remove yourself from the day-to-day you’ll be surprised how you can be creative about your business, as well as plow through some things that have been on your to-do list. I’ve made Sunday a day of work, not rest, but that may not be the right fit for everyone. The point is, take some time that you can be away from distractions and get laser-focused on what needs to be done, or take a different look at your business. You’ll be amazed at what you might think of when you clear some time for it.
I’m a huge fan of Evernote. It keeps me sane. Seriously, I keep all my notes, and follow up organized with Evernote. If I didn’t have it, I may have forgotten that I needed to contribute to Inc. twice a week. And clearly, I’m not the only one who’s a fan. Evernote says it has 50 million users around the world (a third in the U.S.) and is adding 100,000 a day.
What are some other ways you work smarter not harder and avoid burnout? Share away in the details.
The founder of Millennial Branding offers his best advice for building lasting relationships that turn into business opportunities (not one-night stands).
Start-up founders and employees need to learn the rules for building relationships quickly so they can profit off them (instead of turning people off). Dan Schawbel shares his three rules of relationship-building below.
You've heard hundreds of times that networking is essential to a founder's success. Sometimes people like to say that your network is your net worth. Personally, I believe that a network is more valuable than money and time because it creates both--if used properly. We've moved from an information economy to a social one, in which the most successful people are those who have the largest and the most engaged network. Who you know, who they know, and who knows you is just as important, if not more important, than what you know.
With a strong network, you become more employable and more valuable--and your personal brand will flourish. The problem most people have is that they don't fully understand how to start meeting people, exchanging value, and then leveraging those relationships to take their careers and businesses to the next level. Most of my success is tied to my ability to develop relationships that matter.
Here are my three rules for relationship building:
1. Find the right people and connect with them authentically.
Most people don't put much effort into thinking about who they need to meet. Instead, they decide to just meet everyone. That's not a great networking strategy. It's better to be very specific about the people you want to build a relationship with. Figure out who can most benefit from your services, skills, and expertise, and who you can provide the right value to in exchange.
Luckily, the Internet has made targeting easier because you have access to information about everyone in the world from your computer. For example, before attending a conference, see who else is attending and find people who you want in your network. Then, at the event, spend your entire time with them.
It's wise to invest all of your time in a few people than to try and meet everyone. If you want to convert handshakes into new career and business opportunities, then you have to focus on fewer people. In addition, if you target specific people, it will be easier to get along with them because you'll be more likely to have mutual interests and goals. Besides, no one wants to connect with someone who is fake or manipulative. Be yourself, have a positive attitude, and go into networking situations ready to support other people rather than trying to take what you need from them.
2. Give value to others.
When I interviewed the former world boxing champion George Foreman, he told me that his most successful business deals were created out of mutual benefit. He further explained that if one party benefits more than the other, it won't become a long-term business relationship. He would know: More than 100 million of his Foreman Grills have been sold since 1994.
Unfortunately, the number one problem people have in networking situations is that they are out for themselves. That approach never works, and it certainly doesn’t work in today’s connected world. As the late Zig Ziglar famously said, “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”
When I work with companies like American Express and Ernst & Young, I always try to think about how I can provide more, and give them more than they expect, to ensure that they're benefiting from my services. If someone doesn't benefit as much as you do, they will feel cheated and will be much less likely to help you in the future. In order to give, however, you first have to know what the other person is looking for. You also need to know what skills, connections, and resources you have that can solve their problems. You could, for example, promote them on your blog or give them a free consulting session.
Whatever it is, the more you do for others, the more you will get in return.
3. Don't lose touch with your contacts.
Just because you've met someone new doesn't mean that they will help you out down the road. You have to constantly remind people that you exist and emphasize what you can do for them. Maintaining a relationship takes work and commitment, and technology has made it so easy to reconnect with your network that if you aren't taking advantage of it, you're really missing out. Again, the more you invest in people, the more they will invest in you--and the easier it will be to advance those relationships into career and business advancement opportunities.
Dan Schawbel is a Gen Y career and workplace expert, the Founder of Millennial Branding, and the author of the new book, Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin's Press). He made the Inc. Magazine 30 Under 30 in 2010 and the Forbes Magazine 30 Under 30 in 2012.
Ninety percent of what we think of a job candidates is based on a first impression. So how can you possibly conduct a useful interview?
We all know that the first 10 to 20 seconds after you meet someone are crucial. In that time, you determine a lot about how much you like and trust someone. Just how important are those first few seconds? For 90 percent of people that impression remains unchanged even after hearing the person speak, according to Noah Zandan, president of Quantified Impressions.
Are you surprised by this? You may think you are evaluating someone based on the content of what they say, but in reality, most of us would stick to our original judgments. Then we just pick and choose portions of what was actually said to support our original point of view. In fact, one study showed that people who watched job interviews for just a 15 second video, including merely the greeting and a handshake, evaluated the candidates almost identically to the people who watched the whole interview.
Does this mean you should stop the interview process and simply invite in a slate of candidates, shake hands with all of them, and then make your decision? It would definitely save time, and you'd probably pick the same person anyway. First impressions are that important.
But what if you wanted to be better than 90 percent of hiring managers? What if you wanted the best person in the job, not merely the one who took a course in body language? Not all jobs need someone with fantastic body language, so why give that particular characteristic so much power? Here are some ways you can be in that 10 percent of hiring managers--people who can make a real judgment.
Create your criteria before the interview. If you already have written out exactly what you are looking for, what skills are important and what problems your company needs to be solved, you'll have a clear idea of where the interview should go.
Take notes. These notes allow you to look back after you've had some time to clear your mind and after you've met several candidates. Write down what eacg candidate said, and match it up against your criteria. It will help you make a match.
Ask others to help evaluate. If you have your candidates help solve a problem by making a presentation, or writing some code, have someone who wasn't in the room take a look at the written documents and ask them for their opinion. Remember, presentation skills are far more important for people who have to present than they are for people who will be behind the scenes. Letting someone you trust look at the behind-the-scenes work product will also help.
Count your "yes, buts." If you respond to a colleague's assertion that "John's stronger on analytics than Jane is, and we really need strong analytics," with "Yes, but..." it may be an indication that you are going off that first impression rather than the actual facts gleaned from the hiring process. If it's "Yes, but Jane can also do X, Y, and Z which are also critical skills," it's probably a sound analysis. If it's simply, "Yes, but Jane seems like the better candidate," slow down and try to see if you're making your final decision based on a handshake.
Forget the Field-of-Dreams model of content marketing, argues one successful blogger. You can build it and they still won't come -- unless you do this.
What’s the secret of making your blog successful?
That’s a simple one for anyone who’s ever spent ten seconds Googling the question. Experts everywhere respond in unison -- great, compelling and consistent content is the key. That’s true enough as far as it goes, argues successful blogger Justin Jackson in a post recently, but like flour is essential to baking bread, it’s also not sufficient. There are other key ingredients that transform the basic input of quality content into actual eyeballs.
People say the secret to successful blogging is to “keep putting out good content”.
But that’s not totally true.
You could be writing amazing, insightful posts that nobody hears about.
I remember getting my first taste of this when Derek Sivers tweeted out a link to my blog. My site had been chugging along at 10-40 views a day. Even though I was trying to promote my posts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and in the comments of other blogs, I had barely broken 100 views a day.
And then one day I decided to email Derek Sivers one of my posts. He liked it. He shared it with his followers, and I had my biggest day yet: 781 views!
That was my first glimpse at the power of networks. Derek’s one tweet had more of an impact than all of my hustling.
Using this technique of piggybacking on more established and connected players Jackson was able to hit a record of 78,763 page views in one day within nine months. (Check out his blog here.)
The takeaway here could be called the Field-of-Dreams fallacy. 'Build it and they will come' may make for a good Kevin Costner movie, but it’s rubbish advice for entrepreneurs in general and for bloggers in particular. Don’t wait for the alignment of the spheres, the benign serendipity of the universe or the good folks at Google to bring your audience to you. Write cool posts and then email influencers who might be interested and who have large followings of their own to introduce to your content.
Have you fallen victim to the Field-of-Dreams fallacy?
You learn far more from your failures than from your successes.
In a greatly underrated business book The Tao of Pooh, author Benjamin Hoff quoted a Chinese saying: "One disease, long life; no disease, short life." He goes on to explain that:
"Those who know what's wrong with them and take care of themselves accordingly will tend to live a lot longer than those who consider themselves perfectly happy and neglect their weakness."
I don't know if that's true for human health, but I know it's very true for businesses and businesspeople.
Let's start with businesses. Companies that enjoy years of success and growth--without at least a few years of serious financial trouble--almost always fall victim to their own strengths.
Microsoft is a case in point. As Steve Ballmer's retirement announcement illustrates, Microsoft has been constantly held back from developing new markets by a requirement to backfit everything to Windows.
That hesitancy to start anew at Microsoft makes perfect sense because Windows is by far the most successful software product in history. Why tamper with success? Especially with success that's unprecedented in business history?
Unless a company is willing to undergo self-induced "creative destruction," it's almost inevitable that success will create cash cows that nobody (management, investors and customers alike) are prepared to sacrifice.
Even now, it's going to be very hard for a new CEO at Microsoft to get the company to stop thinking about Windows and start thinking about something new. Unfortunately for Microsoft, in business, strengths eventually become weaknesses.
It's very different though, inside companies that have been on the brink, of financial disaster. It's easier to make a leap of faith when you've stared into the abyss.
For example, Apple's greatest success (the iPod/iTunes revolution) took place only after it became clear that the Macintosh/NeXT strategy wasn't creating growth but instead was dooming the company to insignificance.
The same thing is true of businesspeople. The best entrepreneurs are those who've failed at least once, because they've learned what doesn't work as well as what does. As a general rule, people learn more from failures than from success.
Failure teaches you to identify your weaknesses and use them to your advantage. For example, some of the most effective salespeople I've met are introverts who've learned to use their thoughtfulness to become better listeners.
Failure also teaches you to value your strengths but prevents you from letting those strengths make you muscle-bound. For example, I know a woman who's almost frighteningly charismatic, but she knows how to tone it down to increase her credibility.
There's nothing wrong about success. It's fun and wonderful and all those good things. But it's dangerous, too, especially for those who have never had the great good luck of having at least one huge failure.
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It's not an unusual move in the tech industry: You offer to generously give more people more technology--and build your customer base in the process.
Think things are jam packed on the Internet already? Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to make it even worse. His Internet.org consortium of handset vendors, network infrastructure companies, and browser firm Opera say they have signed on to a vision of connecting the roughly two-thirds of the planet not already online.
Below, I’ll share a rough proposal for how we can connect the next 5 billion people, and a rough plan to work together as an industry to get there. We'll discuss how we can make internet access more affordable by making it more efficient to deliver data, how we can use less data by improving the efficiency of the apps we build and how we can help businesses drive internet access by developing a new model to get people online.
Sound good? Not to a great many critics. Bloomberg's editors wrote: "And, as always with Facebook, the wondrous free benefits come with a catch. Or two catches, in this case." Jillian York, a director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Huffington Post, "I don't think this is Internet as a human right, I think it's Facebook as a human right."
Oddly enough, the great humanitarian impulse of Zuckerberg sounds as though it will heavily benefit Facebook in the long run. It's not that what he did was inherently wrong or unprecedented. Many tech companies have talked about making technology available to some group or other in a way that was actually an attempt to seed the market. For example, Apple has been extremely successful in the past in offering steep educational discounts. The intended effect, though, was to get matriculating students accustomed to Apple hardware, increasing the possibility that they would push for its adoption when in the workforce.
Microsoft has done the same thing for years with its software and now has begun to offer free Surface RT tablets to schools. (That wouldn't have anything to do with the massive write-off of RT hardware, as you might as well give it away if people aren't buying.); Google is offering free Internet in the cities where it builds a high-speed infrastructure. Of course, there would be all that valuable user data going right to the company.
The basic idea is old. Henry Ford did a variation in which he paid his factory workers much better than the going wage. Why? If they didn't make enough, they'd never buy his cars. There's something to be said for organically enabling people to become customers.
But too often, companies like Facebook are ham-handed about the process. It's one thing to enable people to eventually become your customers. It's another to try to spin what is essentially a business move into a humanitarian purpose. Even if your intentions are honorable, few will ever believe you.
It's a sound investment and it doesn't have to cost a fortune. Check out these easy steps to make your company more sustainable.
You probably already think you should be a more environmentally friendly business... but it sounds expensive, right?
It's a sound investment for a number of reasons. According to the EPA there is little doubt that environmental issues are going to alter the regulatory and market landscape in the near future. Energy-efficient companies will be better able to navigate these regulatory changes and be better positioned to weather negative events like energy price spikes.
Also, consumers are flocking to safe, non-toxic, green products. People are becoming more conscious of their choices and are willing to invest more in a product to participate in this movement and to protect their family.
That alone should be enough motivation. But consider also that many of the world’s top organizations are investing billions of dollars into environmental sustainability programs--a good indication that small business owners should follow suit.
The Sands Las Vegas Corporation touts some of the most beautiful and popular vacation properties and convention centers around the world. In 2010 it implemented The Sands ECO360 Global Sustainability program. Today this values-driven program is considered an integral part of the company's overall business strategy. A behind-the-scenes tour of a Sands property will reveal an enormous on-site recycling center where employees hand sort every ounce of garbage to separate recyclables. They also recycle and filter millions of gallons of water for use in decorative water features and new low-flow urinals. And, electricity consumption has already been reduced by 5 percent; not bad considering a 27 percent growth in net revenue which has increased the demand for energy.
The good news is that a green program doesn't have to cost a fortune for a small business. Try these simple steps to kick off your sustainability program.
Make green thinking a part of your company culture.
Engage your employees in your new vision. Create efficiency goals and make it fun and inclusive by celebrating your success. How can you measure your savings? How can your green mission enhance your community or better serve your customers? Get ideas and input from your employees and they will embrace your new goals.
Change light bulbs.
You won’t save 10 million kWh of electricity each year like the Sands Las Vegas Corporation does, but swapping to LED lighting is definitely worth the investment. LEDs use far less energy and do not contain mercury and other toxic gases contained by incandescent and fluorescent lights. They are pricey upfront but will last about five times longer than other bulbs.
Eliminate plastic bottles.
In 2011, 32 million tons of plastic waste was generated in the U.S. alone. Sure, some of this plastic is recycled but why add to the environmental burden? Install a water filtration system in the office. Not only will the water be fresh and clean but you will save time and money by avoiding the packaged water habit.
Do business with green vendors.
The Sands Las Vegas Corporation chooses vendors like Hewlett Packard and General Electric because they too follow aggressive sustainability guidelines. Interview your vendors to find out about their sustainability efforts. If you use a printer, ask if they use recycled paper. Look for companies that use energy efficient vehicles and manufacturing plants that have practices in place to reduce their carbon footprint.
Conserve human energy.
Consider that healthy, energetic employees will be more creative and productive. Help to keep your team healthy by creating a safe, non-toxic environment. Serve sustainable brain food at meetings: nuts, organic fruits and vegetables, and even dark chocolate all play a role in maintaining mental acuity.
Host a fundraising event.
Cause-driven programs are excellent for your image and public relations; and it feels good to support something that is meaningful and far reaching. Adopt a green cause and do an annual fundraising event. There are all sorts of conservation campaigns you can participate in, from planting trees to raising funds for environmental studies scholarships. Find one that’s close to your heart and involve your online and local communities.
Recycle and reuse.
How often do you toss old papers and used glass and plastics into the trash bin? Come on, admit it! Look into your community’s recycling program and enlist the support of your team to meet recycling goals. Also, purchase recycled paper products and ink cartridges. Even certain furniture and other big ticket items contain recycled goods.
Use green cleaning products.
Do you love the smell of a nice, clean office? Guess what: Many of those familiar scents are toxic to your body and to the environment. Replace window cleaners, dish and hand soaps, and bathroom cleaners with green brands. Some of them may seem pricey but many are concentrated and will save money in the end. The benefits include improved health, increased clarity, a reduction in allergic reactions, and a healthier planet. A small price to pay.
Sustainable development cannot be achieved by a single individual or enterprise. Everyone must participate. You will demonstrate your leadership and commitment to a healthy, safe future by joining the ranks of business leaders who make sustainable choices.
Share your ideas here. What have you done to green your office?
Thanks in part to the Affordable Healthcare Act, independent contractor hiring is on the rise, according to a monthly SurePayroll survey.
Nearly one in five small business owners say they're now say they’re more likely to hire an independent contractor than a full-time employee, according to results from our August Small Business Scorecard. It’s a dramatic sea change in how small businesses operate, and perhaps a signal of how our economy will operate moving forward.
Why Go Independent?
Of those more likely to hire independent contractors, half said it’s simply easier to pay someone for a specific task than to bring on a full-time employee. They contract out services like marketing, information technology and administrative work.
Using a 1099 or independent contractor means not having to worry about payroll taxes and benefits, which saves businesses money. At the same time, they’re able to take advantage of the specialized skills these contractors offer. Thirty-six percent of small business owners said reduced tax and benefits costs was the top reason they hire independent contractors.
Health Care in Play
The other macro factor at play here is the much talked about Affordable Care Act. Of those more likely to hire independent contractors from our survey, 23 percent said they’re doing it to stay below 50 full-time employees, in response to requirements from the new health care law.
At the same time, contractors are freed up to do this type of freelance work, because the ACA will allow them to get health insurance on the open market. The government, in this regard, has incentivized this environment.
What does it mean for the long-term stability of the economy? In some ways, it’s been good for businesses. They can employ specialists when they need to and otherwise save on costs. They’re moving forward steadily in a jobless recovery, which our data supports. Optimism is high (71 percent) and the average paycheck is up (0.2 percent), so they’re paying existing employees a bit more, though hiring is slightly down (0.2 percent).
My concerns are that 1) As a worker, it’s hard to feel you’re on stable footing when you have to constantly string together contract work; and 2) What happens to the workers without these specialized skills? How do they compete in this changing marketplace?
To find the perfect fit, stop treating the hiring process like a beauty pageant and start acting like it's a date.
It's a great American tradition: people dress up in their best clothing, parade in front of a judge and answer questions, hoping to sound intelligent yet totally inoffensive. A beauty pageant? No, I'm talking about a job interview.
But it shouldn't be that way. A pageant judge never sees the contestants again, but a hiring manager has to work with the new employee every day. So stop treating the hiring process like a pageant and, instead, act like it's a date.
Yes, a date. What's the goal in dating? To find someone to spend the rest of your life with. What's the goal in an interview? To find someone to spend 40 to 60 hours a week with. Here's how you can bring the dating process into your office with fabulous (and completely platonic) results.
Don't talk (entirely) about the past.
Of course, you want to know something about a person's history. That's called the resume. But many interviews spend too much time on the past when they should be focusing on the organization's needs.
Headhunter Nick Corcodilos gives an example of how ridiculous focusing on the past can be. Imagine, he says, if you went out on a date and your date said, "So, the last three women I dated really liked me, and I bought them flowers now and then, and took them out for dinner, and listened to them tell me their problems. I'm a great guy. You can ask them. So, will you marry me?" You'd run long before the check even arrived.
So instead of saying, "Tell me about a time where...," give candidates a real task to complete or ask them to prepare a presentation. Throw them problems and see how they solve them. It will give you a better idea of what they really will bring to your organization.
Introduce the family.
When hiring, it's not uncommon for the boss to do all the interviewing and decision-making, then drop the new employee into everyone's lap. She'll announce, "Here's Bob!," then walk out and expect everyone else to love and cherish Bob the way she does.
Mimecast founder Peter Bauer learned this lesson. "During high growth phases, I'd hire lots of new people and somehow mistakenly imagine that they all knew each other as well as I got to know them during the interview process," he says. "It took me a while before realizing how important it was to help employees integrate and get to know each other in order to develop a positive team culture."
Just like you wouldn't drop your new boyfriend off to spend the weekend solo at your mom's house, when you bring someone new on board, it's your responsibility to integrate. And if you can involve your current staff in the hiring process, even better. That way, you're more likely to find an employee that benefits the whole "family."
Let opposites attract.
The ideal employee loves your business the way you do, so naturally the person most likely to do that is one who is just like you. Right? Unfortunatelly, that doesn't work in your business's best interests. EZ-PR founder Ed Zitron started out looking for employees who could do exactly what he could do. "I thought I needed to clone myself. I thought I needed to just do more of what I do, getting results to make up for less-than-passionate press releases or slowly-delivered blogs."
When he finally realized that he needed assistants who had strengths where he had weaknesses, he got results. Perfect ones, actually, because these hires had skills that Zitron didn't have. When you stop looking for mini-me and instead look for someone who completes you (or your department), you'll get a perfect match.
How to walk the line between creative difference and destructive annoyance with an employee that irks you.
First off, why should you bother?
It’s your company. Why not just hire people you like or, should one unpleasant person slip through the net, simply fire them? If someone is truly obnoxious -- a real, certifiable jerk -- then that is probably the best strategy. But if one of your team members isn’t really a bad person but simply somehow rubs you the wrong way, there are good reasons to find ways to make it work.
Despite all the chatter around cultural fit, working with people that are different from and challenge you pays dividends. As Margaret Heffernan has written here on Inc.com: "The company in which there is no conflict is the one where there's no debate and precious little thinking. The reason you need people not like you is because they will spark argument and dissent."
But even if hiring people who wouldn’t invite over for a beer in a million years makes abstract sense, the day to day of generating creative conflict without generating misery is a fine balance. So how can you get along with an employee you simply don’t like? That’s the question Amy Gallo took up on the HBR Blog Network recently. The in-depth post offers case studies and lots of details and is well worth a read in full, but Gallo’s advice boils down to this five-step plan of action:
Don't assume it's a bad thing. "From a performance standpoint, liking the people you manage too much is a bigger problem than liking them too little," says [management professor Bob] Sutton. The employees you gravitate toward are probably the ones who act nice, don't deliver bad news, and flatter you.
Focus on you. Rather than thinking about how irritating the person is, focus on why you are reacting the way you are. "They didn't create the button, they're just pushing it," says [Organizational psychologist Ben] Dattner… "You don't have to go into therapy to figure it out but be honest with yourself about what situations or attributes make you most irritated," Dattner says. Once you've pinpointed the triggers that might be complicating your feelings, you may be able to soften or alter your reaction.
Put on a good face. Whatever your feelings for your employee, he will be highly attuned to your attitude and will presume that any disapproval or distaste has to do with his performance. The onus is on you to remain fair, impartial, and composed.
Keep your bias out of reviews. When someone irks you, you need to be especially vigilant about keeping your bias out of the evaluation and compensation process. Dattner recommends asking yourself: "Am I using the same standards that I use for other people?"
Spend more time together. This might sound like the last thing you want to hear, but it might help to give yourself more exposure to the problem employee. Sometimes strong medicine is the most effective cure.
Check out the complete post for much more on each of these points. If all of this sounds like a lot of work, first remember that the perks of business ownership also come with some burdens, including working nicely with a wide range of people. Then, perhaps management consultant Peter Bregman’s words might offer some comfort.
Thinking about why you dislike people (see step two above) can be incredibly character building, he asserts. “Chances are, the reason you can't stand that person in the first place, is that they remind you of what you can't stand about yourself. Suddenly, working with people you don't like becomes a lot more interesting. Because getting to know them better, and accepting the parts of them you don't like, is actually getting to know yourself better and accepting the parts of yourself you don't like,” Bregman has written. So at least you'll end up a better person if you approach it right.
What are your best tricks for managing folks you just don’t like very much?
The company is using its recent $60 million funding round to snap up international competitors and extend its reach.
Eventbrite hit another milestone this year, announcing its first acquisitions.
The online ticketing company announced Tuesday that it has acquired London-based event data company Lanyrd and Argentinean-based ticketing company Eventioz. According to the announcement, the move is part of the company's expansion plans that came after raising a $60 million funding round from Tiger Global Management and T. Rowe Price in April.
The company said the acquisitions would help it accomplish the goals of "accelerating international expansion; mobile growth and development; [and] event discovery."
Co-founder and CEO Kevin Hartz added: "These two acquisitions perfectly align with the strategic focus for the company, while adding significant assets and technical power to our platform."
The team behind Lanyrd, founded in 2010, will reportedly relocate to Eventbrite headquarters in San Francisco, while it looks like the Eventioz will continue operating from Argentina. The terms of the deals weren't disclosed.
Randy Befumo, Eventbrite's VP of Strategy, explained to Inc. via email the significance of the international buys:
"We believe that Latin America is a very compelling region with a good combination of economic growth, urban populations and access to technology. We are buying Eventioz specifically to get an experienced team in this region that has already been successful growing a business very much like our own. We already have Eventbrite UK headquarted in London...while London is very important to us, and is our third largest city in the world, the Lanyrd deal is not about geography but about the team and the product they have crated."
Eventbrite, which has 250 employees, announced earlier this year that it has processed over 100 million in global ticket sales--around $1.5 billion in gross sales. Also in August, the company announced an exclusive partnership to handle ticketing at Tough Mudder, another start-up darling.
But Eventbrite's history hasn't always been so rosy: The company was founded in 2006 and struggled to get off the ground during the recession.
As the market goes global, American developers are losing ground, finds a surprising new study.
American app developers are losing their grip on the global market.
As of June 2013, only 36 percent of the total number of apps worldwide were created in the U.S., down from 45 percent in both 2012 and 2011, according to data collected by Flurry.
In terms of engagement, American apps reign supreme, securing 70 percent of the total number of users and engagement this year. Still, that number is rapidly declining, as it was 75 percent in 2011.
In terms of local app use, U.S. users spend most of their time with apps developed in their country, while only 41 percent of the time are they engaging with apps from abroad.
However, that story is changing in China. There, U.S. apps only account for 16 percent of total engagement time, while the majority (64 percent) of their time is spent with apps that were made in users' country.
Perhaps the biggest issue facing U.S. developers going forward is how well they will translate and adapt their products to an increasingly global audience. In recent years, American developers have shied away from doing so, but China's size and rapid growth indicate the U.S. faces tough competition.
Some countries with smaller populations where the local language is not among the world's dominant have been aware of this problem for years and were forced to create globalized and culturally appropriate apps out of necessity. Perhaps the most famous are Finland's Angry Birds, Russia's Cut the Rope, and Australia's Fruit Ninja--all popular at home and abroad.
On another note, Flurry noted that even as advertising apps continues to get more expensive, app distribution itself has gone global. There are three reasons for this: Apple's App store and Google Play have removed software distribution costs; the number of active mobile devices around the world continues to grow; and the total cost of development is still inexpensive compared to packaged PC software.
Flurry completed its study in June by tracking 1.15 billion monthly active mobile devices, a number that grows every month.
Sometimes cool technology doesn't take off until another company comes up with an innovative twist on it.
You know that driverless car Google has been working on? That curious diversion of money and time that at least got some press attention for the search giant? It's just become a real business.
Mobile transportation company Uber, which has $307 million in funding, will buy 2,500 of those driverless cars. This is a reported $375 million purchase--even more than the total money the company has brought in.
The move makes sense. A company that matches people who need rides with limousine and cab services now has a way to dispatch autos to pick up customers without having to settle for a cut of the total fee. But more importantly, this is an example of an important type of partnership: one company that has something new and another that has a way to bring it to market.
It's actually fairly common for innovations from one company to languish until another develops a twist to make them popular. Credit cards, for example, were common in the early 20th century. Stores issued them to their customers, but the use was limited. Both Diners Club and American Express were products of the 1950s and helped expand consumer recognition of credit cards because they created cards that could be used across large networks of supporting vendors. It took Bank of America to broadly introduce revolving credit to turn the charge card into the credit card. People snapped them up because they had access to borrowing money on demand.
Television is another example. It has existed in various forms since the 1920s, not counting earlier precursors. For decades it was a curiosity whose practical expanse was curtailed by World War II and the diversion of materials and manufacturing to military use. What made it take off after the war? Texaco moved its popular radio program into the new medium and eventually settled on comedian Milton Berle as the host. A heavy use of slapstick and low comedy made the show highly visual, a must for success in the new medium. Add major guest stars and relatively strong production values, and, as The Museum of Broadcast Communications notes, the result helped drive television ownership from 500,000 sets in 1948 to 30 million in 1956.
PCs had been around for a number of years as curiosities. What started the broad march of sales was the appearance of applications that let people bypass the need to program and offer capabilities that consumers didn't know they needed, but recognized they wanted them when they saw them. A more recent example would be the smartphone. Cell phones had been around for decades and shrunk in size over time. The BlackBerry had a large following because of the email and messaging capabilities. But it took Apple and a slick touch interface combined with the ability to download apps that could harness raw computing power to create the iPhone, a device that changed what people expected from a mobile phone. Other vendors saw the possibilities and jumped aboard.
In each case, the concept of a product wasn't new. It takes time, energy, and a different type of innovation to take technology and realize what the native possibilities are. Someone has to recognize the potential and then package it in a way that makes this clear to consumers.
That's what Uber hopes to do with Google's driverless car. People might be hesitant to purchase one for their own use, but to have a vehicle show up when you need it and take you where you want to go? That could be enough for people to give the vehicles a shot. Uber shows that entrepreneurial start-ups don't necessarily have to invent the killer product if they can find the twist that helps the market recognize useful innovation for what it is.
The Y Combinator co-founder addresses the controversy surrounding his recent comments in an Inc interview. about why founders with foreign accents are less successful.
My interview with Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham in Inc.'s September issue caused quite the stir in tech media this week. The cause of the commotion: Graham's assertion that founders with "strong foreign accents" have been less successful after graduating from Y Combinator.
Not surprisingly, the comment outraged people who believe, and with good reason, that Silicon Valley has become too homogenous for its own good. New York City entrepreneur Anil Dash's sarcastic response via Twitter is below:
"The problem is not the cultural signal accents send, but the practical difficulty of getting a startup off the ground when people can't understand you," he writes.
"We have a lot of empirical evidence that there's a threshold beyond which the difficulty of understanding the CEO harms a company's prospects."
Graham goes on to say that in his own office hours with Y Combinator founders, the language barrier can impede communication. "Often when I feel it happening, I warn the founders, because most of the people they encounter are not going to work as hard to understand them as I do."
Here's more from Graham's post:
"A startup founder is alway selling. Not just literally to customers, but to current and potential employees, partners, investors, and the press as well. Since the best startup ideas are by their nature perilously close to bad ideas, there is little room for misunderstanding. And yet a lot of the people you encounter as a founder will initially be indifferent, if not skeptical. They don't know yet that you're going to be huge. You're just one person they're meeting that day. They're not going to work to understand you. So you can't make it be work to understand you."
Graham concludes his post by saying that his goal in discussing founder accents to begin with was to help founders. "I don't mind people beating on me so long as I can get that message through to founders who want to come to Silicon Valley from other countries," he writes. "It's fine to have an accent, but you must be able to make yourself understood."
During our interview, it was clear to me that this was the point Graham was making all along. To be able to communicate clearly--whether it's in a different language or simply to an audience who's unfamiliar with your product--is undoubtedly an advantage as an entrepreneur. But Graham and the rest of his Silicon Valley cohorts would be well-served to remember that, as much as we celebrate entrepreneurs for their personal role in building successful companies, often it's what they've created--and not how smooth their pitches are--that's most important.
Smart entrepreneurs know that valuable lessons can be picked up in any setting, even a music video awards show.
I bet some of you are giving me the side-eye for the title of this article. I ain’t mad at you. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I’m not the only one out there "shame watching" mindless TV on occasion. And since I’m a multitasking entrepreneur, I gleaned a few business lessons last weekend when I caught some of the MTV Music Video Awards.
Here are some of the folks who reinforced some valuable business truisms:
Miley Cyrus: Stay on Brand
Who hasn’t heard about Twerkapalooza by now? Small business owners, it’s okay to push the envelope when it makes sense and is true to your soul. And we all know that innovators are not always well-loved ... until a business idea has already succeeded through the roof, that is! But when you see your consumers actually recoil -- whether through a sudden drop in sales, social media backlash or low attendance at events -- pause long enough to ensure that you’re on mission. If you’ve accidentally veered, humbly get back into alignment.
Robin Thicke: Consider the Company You Keep
Just by performing with Miley Cyrus, Thicke received more than a few raised eyebrows. "Blurred Lines" indeed! The wrong associations can put you in the hot seat when a business partner’s unsavory behavior casts shade on your hard-earned reputation. It’s tough enough to ignore judgment when it's unwarranted, so why keep company that legitimately prompts people to question your decision-making? Entrepreneurs, watch the company you keep.
Justin Timberlake and *NSYNC: Keep Your Fans Happy
Seems that most people enjoyed JT’s performance but were left wanting more of that *NSYNC reunion. It was sweet to see *NSYNC fans grooving in their seats, which reminded me just how important it is to remember the people who helped you get to where you are! On the flipside, it’s also essential to keep your magnetism and leave your fans wanting more.
Will Smith and Family: Be Authentic
Anyone else catch that hilarious picture of Will Smith’s family seemingly looking appalled at whatever was on stage? Originally, folks thought this was a reaction to Miley Cyrus, but it turns out they were watching Lady Gaga’s performance. Regardless, the public ate the photo up! It underscored that consumers will often shock you by how positively they react to your authentic responses. Ever apologize to an angry customer via social media only to have them become one of your biggest fans? Or shared a horror story in a news article and had an overwhelming number of supportive comments? Being consistently authentic exudes a confidence that can boost your bottom line.
Lil’ Kim: Watch How You Pivot
Ahh, Lil’ Kim. I can’t see her without fondly remembering how much fun we had jamming to her hits during my last years of college. But the "Queen Bee" of today is shockingly different from the rapper I was introduced to all those years ago. Seeing her on the red carpet served as an instant reality check: if you move too far away from your original products, persona or mission, you may be surprised at how deeply fans loved the old version. We all have the right to innovate, grow and change. But when you launch new initiatives, you should also make sure to retain a healthy dose of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Katy Perry: Stay Classy
When the media questioned Katy Perry about her alleged beef with Lady Gaga, she did the classy thing and shared her admiration for Gaga’s work. Even if you actually have tensions with a business contact, rarely does anything good come from sharing that information with others. Beware of anyone who seems overly interested in dishing on issues, and as your mom likely warned you, "If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!"
The VMAs certainly aren’t the Harvard Business Review, but if you’re going to watch mindless TV, you might as well find a way to actually feed your mind. Did the VMAs unexpectedly give you any business insights?
In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, Without Their Permission, Alexis Ohanian explains how to bring in those first few dollars.
Unless you get incredibly lucky (remember, there are already many factors going against you), you'll need to have at least built something people want before you can get your first round of funding. The application process varies, but most accelerators follow Y Combinator's lead and start with a written application (submitted online, of course) followed by offers for in-person interviews. I'm biased, but not only did Y Combinator create the blueprint, they also set the standard. So at least for as long as they're doing that, let's use them as a benchmark.
If you get in to Y Combinator, you'll trade some equity (typically between 2 percent and 10 percent, but usually between 6 percent and 7 percent) for somewhere around eighteen thousand dollars (on average) in funding and their three-month program. If you can't ship something in that period, you've got to hard reset.
What if you don't? Or don't want to? Well, you're not alone, as most of the successes in our Internet industry never went through an accelerator.
The cost of starting a company falls every day as the costs of hosting your website fall. When we started reddit, we ordered our servers online, as parts, and assembled them in our living room before schlepping them down to the co-location facility (a big room full of servers where you can rent space to put in your own). Just a few years later, Amazon launched a brilliant cloud computing service that did away with our need to ever see our servers-;all it takes is a credit card, and your site can be up and running for a pittance (a price that heads down every month). Hosting a website is now essentially a utility.
When you're not dealing with inventory, or a retail location, the barriers to entry plummet, and businesses can start from dorm rooms and coffee-shop tables. As long as you can cover rent and keep food in your belly (this is what Paul Graham means when he says that all startups aspire to be "ramen profitable"--that is, profitable enough to keep the founders living in their frugal, college-like lifestyle, with a roof over their heads and ramen in their bellies), you can keep your business going-;and growing-;long enough to get that next round of funding.
This funding may come from friends and family, or it may come from wealthy individuals known as angel investors. The phrase is rather generous; I prefer to think of them as wearing monocles and top hats.
The breadpig above captures exactly what I look like at the moment I'm deciding whether or not to invest in a startup. In fact, all investors look exactly like this. No halos or wings, just monocles and top hats.
But the idea is that these investors are willing to take a big chance on a very early-stage company in the hope that they'll get in on the ground floor of something huge. I've done more than sixty of these early-stage investments since selling reddit. For many of us, investing in an early-stage company is a risky investment strategy, but it's something we do because we were entrepreneurs ourselves once. We think of it as startup karma-;a way to give back to the community and honor all the folks who took a chance on us.
Additionally, young founders are challenged by a lack of connections and the appearance of youth, which in many industries, unfortunately, correlates with a lack of legitimacy. Adam Goldstein at hipmunk, then twenty-two, overcame these hurdles through sheer determination. Many other founders do their business development over the phone first, where one is only judged by one's voice and one's choice of words. Then when it comes time for an in-person interview, one's youth becomes an asset, as the executives who would've once been skeptical are now impressed.
Unless you've got a rich and generous uncle, you're going to have to be resourceful. Actually, even with a rich and generous uncle, you'd still better be relentlessly resourceful, because in this industry, if you're not making something people want, you're hosed.
Excerpted from WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION: How The 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed, by Alexis Ohanian. Copyright 2013. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Business Plus. All rights reserved.