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The founder of Change.org explains how he came to focus on creating social good and why it's increasingly important for companies to 'be their best selves.'
Turns out, you can overstay your welcome as CEO--and harm your company in the process. Find out the ideal CEO tenure length, according to a recent study.
It's nice to be at the top, isn't it? Unfortunately, staying in that CEO spot too long may not be the best thing for your company.
In fact, according to Michael Jarrett, a professor in organizational behavior at INSEAD, companies suffer because CEOs usually don't leave until they're forced out. Instead of overstaying your welcome, he writes in the Harvard Business Review, CEOs should not stay more than five years.
A 2013 study by Xueming Luo, Vamsi K. Kanuri, and Michelle Andrews at the University of Texas, Arlington, found that the optimal CEO tenure is 4.8 years--enough time to implement changes to help the company become successful and not long enough to hurt the company's performance. After five years, CEOs generally get "stale in the saddle" and stop being adaptive and innovative, Donald Hambrick, author and distinguished business professor at Penn State and Columbia University, told Jarrett.
Below, read three reasons why CEOs should step down before they are forced out.
A long tenture impacts the company's returns.
The report by Luo, Kanuri, and Andrews studied 356 U.S. companies like Pfizer and Proctor & Gamble from 2000 to 2010 and found that the longer a CEO stays, the stronger the relationships with his or her employees become. Initially, the CEO will strengthen customer ties--but only for a time, "after which the relationship weakens and the company's performance diminishes, no matter how united and committed the workforce is," the study found. The team's research found that when a CEO stays over five years, customer relationships, product safety and quality, and financial returns will all decline. Yes, the below reasons...
You're more likely to settle for the status quo.
After you become comfortable with the CEO role, complacency will surface. Once that happens, the status quo will be widely accepted throughout the company. "After the initial rush of enthusiasm and energy, established routines and networks can smother the drive for innovation," Jarrett writes. There are obvious exceptions, like Apple's Steve Jobs and GE's Jack Welch, but those are rare cases. Jarrett says CEO succession is important because "new CEOs are more open, inclusive, and search for new solutions."
You stop learning.
Luo, Kanuri, and Andrews found that over a CEO's tenure, his or her learning style changes and thus affects the customers. Initially, you "seek information in diverse ways, turning to both external and internal company sources," which helps strengthen the relationships between customers and employees, the study found. "But as CEOs accumulate knowledge and become entrenched, they rely more on their internal networks for information, growing less attuned to market conditions," the authors say. Once you become more and more invested in the company and your employees, you're more likely to "favor avoiding losses over pursuing gains" and you'll be "less responsive to vacillating consumer preferences," the team says.
What do you think, entrepreneurs? Should your tenure at the top have an expiration date?
No ifs, ands, or buts -- you need to address the issue of bad performers immediately.
One of the unavoidable realities of building a startup is having to fire people.
In a normal business you can often sweep bad performers under the rug and not deal with them. When you have millions or billions of dollars of revenue you can suffer a few bad performers or bad apples. You can miss a quarter’s target and not cull the inefficiencies. I’m not saying you should, but you could.
But in startups this equals death.
Death because just three extra non-performing employees in a company of 15 can either accelerate cash out date or can dramatically lower your productivity.
I’ve spoken about this before and my mantra, “Hire Fast, Fire Fast.”
When I first started my career I came across a term for this that has always stuck in my head and serves as a useful reminder of this mantra.
We called it “PURE.”
Previously. Undetected. Recruiting. Error.
My premise with “hire fast, fire fast” is that some companies over-analyze potential recruits and therefore chew up valuable months with functions unfilled. Most (whether they hire quickly or slowly) are very slow to deal with problems once they have them.
I have sat through scores of board meetings in the past year, and in at least 25 percent of them the topic of a senior employee we hired that hasn’t worked out comes up. Almost always the CEO is defending why he or she has to hold on to that employee for an extra six months until they can fix a,b and c before letting them go.
I have never (literally not once) heard a leader later tell me, “I’m glad we waited.” Universally after the shock of letting somebody go and the reverberation in the company is felt a sense of relief and well-being ensues. Teams are organisms and they detect bad cells even more quickly than leadership does. Failing to act undermines confidence.
Yes, PURE employees have allies so it’s never simple. But when you make a mistake you need to own it and fix it ASAP.
This came up in the reverse last week when I spoke with a friend who has an asinine recruiting policy. He told me that everybody who joins must first have a “temporary contractor period” almost like one is on probation before she joins.
I say asinine because that has the likelihood of turning off some potentially great prospective employees and there’s zero reason for the probationary period. In the US you have the right to terminate almost any employee at will (subject to your not giving them a contract to the contrary and of course you should always consult a lawyer before implementing a firing or layoff).
Thus everybody is implicitly on probation anyways so making it public does you no good and potentially limits some people who may join. I have come across several companies who have this probationary period over my years and I always try to talk them out of it.
Anyway, to the point of this article if you make a mistake in recruiting -- if somebody is PURE -- deal with it quickly and surgically. The longer he persists in your organization the more the badness metastasizes and the larger the treatment later.
This article was originally published on Mark Suster's blog, Both Sides of the Table.
Making charitable donations isn't simply a feel-good thing. If you do it right, those donations can drive change in your community and within your organization.
Giving to your favorite charity feels good, there's no denying that. But your charitable initiatives can have a greater impact on your company than you may think. Gone are the days when donations are all about the tax break. Today entrepreneurs and executives are developing values-driven programs to help their philanthropic efforts grow even deeper roots.
Susan Cooney, founder and CEO of Givelocity has a record of building value and community across many genre-defining companies. Her mentor, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, taught Cooney that finding common threads among people who are irrelevant to your business or product is at the core of building a meaningful and successful culture. She also knows that activities related to giving back engage employees and offer them a meaningful opportunity to bond, share their personal values, and act in unison toward a common goal.
"Combining efforts in charitable activities brings people together to share their voice and work jointly for a greater impact in driving change," says Cooney. "Organized efforts at work give employees a sense of equality where titles and salaries are out the door."
The Benefits of Giving Money and Labor
Givelocity is a recently launched online platform where members build causes, contribute money, and vote on where it goes. The company is built on the belief that when organizations build a culture of giving and combine efforts with other individuals and businesses, they stand a better chance of driving real change--the kind of changes that can help solve major local and global issues. The team-building aspects of a tool like Givelocity let employees work toward a common goal and collaborate, strategize, and celebrate their successes together. What is learned in this collaborative environment certainly translates to a stronger, happier, and more efficient workplace.
But, while charitable donations may have an immeasurable impact on our communities, actions speak volumes as well. Giving employees time off to contribute their labor to local causes can also result in meaningful team building and bonding time.
At Chicago-based marketing firm Kelmscott Communications for example, philanthropic efforts include volunteer time as well as cash donations--and the internal benefits are many. "Since we're going fast and furious to fulfill customer demands all day, internal production stress builds up," says president and CEO, Scott Voris. "As with most companies, there are times when the account executives and production teams are at odds during these stressful periods. Working side-by-side in a volunteer position helps to build respect, communication, team work, and sensitivity to everyone's role in the organization." When your employees work together on a project that is not all about the deadline, they will develop greater compatibility and are more likely to meet those future deadlines without incident.
How to Make Time for It
So this all sounds pretty good, but you may be thinking, it takes time that you simply don't have. Not true! Get creative in how your approach your philanthropic responsibilities. You don't have to make all of the decisions alone. Bring your employees on board from the very beginning.
At Zinepak, a New York-based company that partners with celebrities and brands to create custom fan merchandise, co-founders Brittany Hodak and Kim Kaupe have created a new employee role to facilitate their culture-building experience.
"We know that cultivating a positive company culture and giving back to our community go hand in hand," says Kaupe. "This year we have instituted a monthly rotating position at ZinePak called the Culture Captain. From Wine Wednesdays to group lunches, the Culture Captain's responsibility is to make sure the spirit of ZinePak remains high throughout the month."
Next month, one of Zinepak's group activities will include giving back to the New York City community via Winter Wishes, a program that allows each employee to fulfill a Christmas list wish for a child or elderly citizen. From receiving the lists and shopping together for gifts to penning hand-written notes of hope and well wishes for 2014, the team has plenty planned to incorporate giving back into its culture. "We feel that participating in the act of giving as a team, not only during the holidays but year round, will help to reinforce our unity and lift team moral," says Hodak. ZinePak also gives all employees two paid days off throughout the year to volunteer for a charity or local cause of their choice.
So whether you choose a platform like Givelocity for your interactive charitable campaigns or opt for sending your team into the community in person, the benefits are many. How will you engage your team in charitable activities during this holiday season and throughout 2014? We'd like to know! Inspire other leaders by adding your ideas and experiences in the comments section below.
Sometimes it's best to give nothing at all.
It's that time of year, so I asked readers about the best and worst business holiday gifts they've ever received. For now I'll focus on the bad business gifts--the horrifying mistakes that turned a holiday gesture of goodwill into a nightmare.
What surprised me most was the degree to which people remembered these gifts, in some cases decades after the fact. It's a stressful enough time without falling into these kinds of traps, so here are the top five things business people should avoid when giving gifts to employees, bosses, and colleagues.
Rule No. 1: Thou shall not be cheap.
When David Viggiano worked as a television reporter in Chicago, "the holiday gifts got smaller and cheaper" each year, he recalls. "One year about a decade or so ago, we received a nail clipper. Yup, a nail clipper."
Adina Sweitzer worked for a company two decades ago whose owner's holiday gift to employees was a $10 voucher for concessions at a local sporting event. He'd only be charged for the ones that were redeemed.
"Of course, out of the 75 employees, only three were redeemed. He sure saved a lot of money that year," she says.
People understand that forgoing employee holiday gifts might be required in tough times. But it's far worse to suggest you're just "checking the box" and hoping nobody will notice.
Rule No. 2: Beware of the branding.
Charles Tran vividly recalls what he describes as the worst business holiday gift ever: an extra-large jacket with a big corporate logo.
"I felt like if I wore the jacket, I'd be a walking billboard," said Tran, founder of CreditDonkey.com, a credit card comparison website. "Plus, it wasn't even in my size, which made the gift feel more corporate and less personalized."
Is it always a mistake to include a logo on a custom gift for clients or employees? No, but the key is to keep it subtle and useful. Ask yourself, would I use or wear this gift?
Rule No. 3: Keep it friendly--not personal.
Anita Mahaffey is the CEO and founder of Cool-jams, Inc., a San Diego company that makes specialty sleepwear. Among her company's products, she explains, are pajamas for menopausal women.
Mahaffey was surprised when a customer explained that she was buying the pajamas for her boss, who hoped that her "crazy hot flashes, night sweats and other menopausal symptoms" had gone unnoticed.
"In the end her boss thanked her, but ... it could have gone either way," Mahaffey said.
At least that gift-giving experience turned out well. Gail Miller, CEO and chief staffing strategist at Consultnetworx, says that the worst gift she ever saw a colleague give was a bottle of wine ... to a recovering alcoholic.
Rule No. 4: Re-gift with caution (or not at all).
Ian Aronovich, president and co-founder of GovernmentAuctions.org, remembers getting an odd business gift from an employee--some kind of contraption to flush a toilet ... with your foot. Aronovich said it was clear that the employee just felt obligated to give "something."
Margo Schlossberg, a marketing director in Maryland, previously worked for a telecommunications company in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. One year, a coworker gave her a "crystal healing tree" as a present, which Schlossberg found bizarre. Later, her company held its holiday party in a bowling alley and she bowled poorly enough to cost her team the prize of a paid day off.
Blaming the crystal healing tree for the incident, Schlossberg "ran it over with my car."
Rule No. 5: Thou shall not be tone deaf.
Dan O'Connell worked for an advertising and public relations firm that laid off 80 percent of its employees in one year. When all was said and done, the agency owner announced that there would be no bonuses or holiday party.
In an ill-reasoned attempt to improve the mood, O'Connell recalled, the owner said he wanted to tell them about the great European vacation he and his wife had taken.
"He then proceeded to give us a 20 minute slide show on Paris, Rome, etc. to cheer us all up," O'Connell said. "I later skipped off with a few clients and started my own agency."
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Here's what happened when an extraordinary Digital Health team gained several critical insights about their business model.
We talk a lot about Customer Development, but there’s nothing like seeing it in action to understand its power. Here’s what happened when an extraordinary Digital Health team gained several critical insights about their business model. The first was reducing what they thought was a five-sided market to a simpler two-sided one.
But the big payoff came when their discussions with medical device customers revealed an entirely new way to think about pricing -- potentially tripling their revenue.
We’re into week 9 of teaching a Lean LaunchPad class for Life Sciences and Health Care (therapeutics, diagnostics, devices and digital health) at UCSF teaching with a team of veteran venture capitalists. The class has talked to ~2,200 customers to date. (Our final - not to be missed - Lessons Learned presentations are coming up December 10th.)
Among the 28 startups in the Digital Health cohort is Tidepool. They began the class believing they were selling an open data and software platform for people with Type 1 Diabetes into a multi-sided market comprised of patients, providers, device makers, app builders and researchers.
The Tidepool team members are:
- Aaron Neinstein MD Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine, Endocrinology and Assistant Director of Informatics at UCSF. He’s an expert in the intersection between technological innovations and system improvement in healthcare. His goal is to make health information easier to access and understand.
- Howard Look, CEO of Tidepool, was VP of Software and User Experience at TiVo. He was also VP of Software at Pixar, developing Pixar’s film-making system, and at Amazon where he ran a cloud services project. At Linden Lab, delivered the open-sourced Second Life Viewer 2.0 project. His teenage daughter has Type 1 diabetes.
- Brandon Arbiter was a VP at FreshDirect where he built the company’s data management and analytics practices. He was diagnosed at age 27 with Type 1 Diabetes. He developed a new generation diabetes app, “nutshell,” that gives patients the information they need to make the right decisions about their dosing strategies.
- Kent Quirk was director of engineering at Playdom and director of engineering at Linden Labs.
A Five-sided Market
In Week 1 the Tidepool team diagramed its customer segment relationships like this:
Using the business model canvas they started with their value proposition hypotheses, articulating the products and services they offered for each of the five customer segments. Then they summarized what they thought would be the gain creators and pain relievers for each of these segments.
Next, they then did the same for the Customer Segment portion of the canvas. They listed the Customer Jobs to be done and the Pains and Gains they believed their Value Proposition would solve for each of their five customer segments.
It’s Much Simpler
Having a multisided market with five segments is a pretty complicated business model. In some industries such as medical devices its just a fact of life. But after talking to dozens of customers by week 3, Tidepool discovered that in fact they had a much simpler business model - it was a two-sided market.
They discovered that the only thing that mattered in the first year or two of their business was building the patient-device maker relationship. Everything else was secondary. This dramatically simplified their value proposition and customer segment canvas.
So they came up with a New Week 3 Value Proposition Canvas:
And that simplified their New Week 3 Customer Segment Canvas
Cost-based Pricing versus Value-based Pricing
While simplifying their customer segments was a pretty big payoff for 3 weeks into the class, the best was yet to come.
As part of the revenue streams portion of the business model canvas, each team has to diagram the payment flows.
The Tidepool team originally believed they were going charge their device partners “market prices” for access to their platform. They estimated their Average Revenue per User (ARPU) would be about $36 per year.
But by week 6 they had spoken to over 70 patients and device makers. And what they found raised their average revenue per user from $36 to $90.
When talking to device makers they learned how the device makers get, keep and grow their customers. And they discovered that:
- device makers were spending $500-$800 in Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) to acquire a customer
- device makers own customers would stay their customers for 10 years (i.e. the Customer Life Time (CLT))
- and the Life Time Value (LTV) of one customer over those 10 years to a device maker is $10,000
These customer conversations led the Tidepool team to further refine their understanding of the device makers’ economics. They found out that the device makers sales and marketing teams were both spending money to acquire customers. ($500 per sales rep per device + $800 marketing discounts offered to competitors’ customers.)
Once they understood their device customers’ economics, they realized they could help these device companies reduce their marketing spend by moving some of those dollars to Tidepool. And they realized that the use of the Tidepool software could reduce the device companies’ customer churn rate by at least 1%.
This meant that Tidepool could price their product based on the $1,800 they were going to save their medical device customers. Read the previous sentence again. This is a really big idea.
The Tidepool team went from cost-based pricing to value-based pricing. Raising their average revenue per user from $36 to $90.
There is no possible way that any team, regardless of how smart they are could figure this out from inside their building.
If you want to understand how Customer Discovery works and what it can do in the hands of a smart team, watch the video below. The team ruthlessly dissects their learning and builds value-pricing from what they learned.
This short video is a classic in Customer Discovery.
Why mission trumps all at Warby Parker, and more.
Fast growth and an ever-more-valuable brand are gratifying, but for Neil Blumenthal, co-CEO of the innovative retailer Warby Parker, nothing trumps mission.How do you measure success?
By the number of lives we’ve positively impacted.
What’s one mistake you made early on?
To build our first website, we hired a firm whose quotes were half the price of everybody else’s.
What was the hardest lesson in your first year of business?
That lack of sleep really does impede productivity.
What’s the toughest part of being in charge?
The fact that only hard decisions reach your desk.
What’s the best motivator for employees?
What’s your proudest accomplishment in your business?
We’ve distributed more than 500,000 pairs of glasses to people in need across the globe.
Gut instinct versus expertise: Which is more important and why?
Both are extremely important, and you need to understand the strengths and limitations of both. We like to question our gut instincts but also approach problems with a beginner’s mindset.
What’s the biggest myth in business?
That widgets are made in a systematic way. If you peek behind the curtain at any type of company,you’ll see that things are far less organized than you’d expect.
What have you learned about yourself running your business?
I’m not as smart as I think I am.
What have you sacrificed for success?
Whom do you admire most as a business leader?
Florence Nightingale. She is one of the most dynamic social entrepreneurs in history.
These are the steps to a consistent, reliable flow of new customers.
It's a tough sales world out there. You know that you can do a great job for clients. You add a lot of value. You have superb testimonials. But you don't get a chance do that great job because you have a hard time reaching potential new clients to tell them your story.
There was a time--yes there was, trust me--when there was no such thing as organized telemarketing and a person who called you and tried to sell you something over the phone was a welcome diversion. I'm serious.
Today, consumers are besieged with commercial communication. It comes by phone and email. It permeates social media. Even friends who recommend products may secretly be paid shills. And so people react by building thick shells that block out messages they don't want. They even block out messages they may have wanted but don't realize it because the relevance is not immediately obvious.
So what can you do?
Enter an Existing Debate Your Prospects Are Having
Gary Halbert was a copywriter who modestly claimed that he was the best in the world. He did this frequently. He may or may not have been but he certainly had some penetrating insights. And he knew how to get through the overload.
Halbert has some simple advice. Don't try to start a conversation with your prospect. He does not know you and has so much going on in his life that he will be annoyed at you for interrupting him. The only way you can engage him is to enter a conversation that is already going on in his head.
I have heard from my marketing-savvy friends that it was Robert Collier--also a great direct response marketer--who said this first but no matter. Halbert picked up the ball and ran with it.
So how do you enter a conversation that is going on in your prospect's head? Dov Gordon--who is one of those marketing-savvy friends--has the answer: You have to get both your prospect's attention and interest immediately.
They are not the same. Many things grab your attention such as a loud noise or a picture of an attractive member of the opposite sex. But then you go back to what you were doing. Unless, of course, it also grabs your interest. If it does, then you change what you were doing to follow through. You may even make a 180-degree change in your direction.
So, how can you interest your prospect? Dov says that there are two--and only two--topics that you, as a stranger, can broach that will do so. But these topics are so strong that he will drop whatever he is doing to listen to you if you engage him in that field.
2 Debates Your Prospects Are Having
You have to talk to your prospect about: 1) How you can help him solve a problem he has and doesn't want, or 2) How you can help him get a result he wants and doesn't have. Or 3) both.
This is the conversation that all your prospects have going on in their heads and if you enter into it, then you will become an invited guest rather than an unwanted interloper.
The way you enter into such a conversation is to be highly specific, and use the same language that your clients use when they talk about their problem. And you have to really, genuinely, care about helping your prospect solve that problem or achieve that result.
Most entrepreneurs make the mistake of being too general. They are afraid that they will 'miss out.' Say you are really good at developing business plans. But you don't want to say that because you also can advise on marketing strategy and training salespeople--and you want your prospects to know that. So you use generic language that encompasses all of these areas and, as a result, become a faceless entity among dozens who are saying the same thing. Your purse is lean, but not healthy.
3 Case Studies in Specificity
Let's look at how this plays out. One of Dov's clients was a life coach. There are many of these around and they are all struggling to survive because no one is in the market for life-coaching. So Dov had her make a list of all the benefits clients got from what she did and forced her to pick one. And then he worked with her to put it in language that was memorable and would instantly appeal to prospects that were grappling with that problem she solved.
Turned out that one of the things she was really good at was helping her clients engage with their sometimes unruly and rebellious children. So she wrote an informative article titled "How to Calmly Take Control When Your Teenager Drops a Bomb," and used that as a calling card. Suddenly many distraught parents wanted to talk to her and learn all about what she could do to help them.
"Vagueness is a killer," Dov remarks. "Don't talk about 'The Seven Biggest Mistakes Small Businesspeople Make.' Everybody does that." So, for instance, he guided another of his consultant clients, who helped women start businesses, to be very specific and advertised her services with: "How to Tell Your Husband That You Want to Quit Your Six-Figure Job and Start a Business."
Dov follows his own advice. His niche is unambiguous. He has a podcast on "The Five Steps to Acquiring a Predictable, Consistent Flow of Clients." Go to DovGordon.net if you want to hear it.
Thoughtful leaders are truly respected. Here are six traits that make them so admired.
The last month of the year is a great time for introspection, enhancing relationships and setting a course for the year ahead. This is the time when it's easy to notice those people who are thoughtful. They are the ones who stand out because of the way they treat people, manage their careers, and measure up against challenging goals.
To be a thoughtful leader is to be greatly admired and deservedly so. The brain is a sadly under-utilized organ. A little effort can make a big difference in gaining the respect that goes with being thoughtful. Here are 6 traits of really thoughtful leaders for you to emulate as 2013 draws to a close.
1. They Observe
Thoughtful leaders crave stimulus to get their mind working. That's why their powers of observation are always hard at work. They are masters of watching and listening to everything happening. They observe the world moving around them and notice behavior, culture and patterns with great interest. When engaging with people they have heightened awareness of their tone, mood and feelings. You can see they are actively engaged. Try spending an hour in a busy environment just looking and listening. Take notes on what you see and hear, or better yet shut off your inner voice and just take it all in.
2. They Explore
Thoughtful leaders are naturally curious. Their insatiable need for knowledge drives them to open closed doors, dissect the mundane and analyze alternative concepts. They can spend hours surfing the web or weeks traveling abroad. Questions starting with who, what, where, why and how are second nature to them. In conversation they will probe and prod, looking for deeper answers and hoping to get to the core truth. No idea or suggestion is poor at the outset; rather all possibilities are worthy of open consideration. Expand your perspective beyond your normal sphere. Make an attempt to engage people and ponder ideas that are outside your usual, comfortable approach.
3. They Reflect
Thoughtful leaders understand the value of deep thinking. Although perfectly capable of making reflexive decisions when required, they prefer to ponder and live with big dilemmas and decisions. They think about the potential implications for themselves and the other people around them. They consider carefully the people they impact and use skilled communication to instill comfort and confidence in their teams. They know that a slow "yes" is better than a fast "no" and will apportion appropriate time and energy to each opportunity. Begin adding time to your decision process. Using a journal, create a 1--5 rating for the seriousness of your decisions and determine a set time to decide that allows you to consider all angles. Try this for a week and you'll learn how to manage your thinking for both depth and efficiency.
4. They Learn
Thoughtful leaders love to get smart. Their insatiable need for knowledge drives them to read, discuss and absorb complex concepts and broad perspectives. No amount of information is enough for them to feel complete and accomplished. The joy of the learning journey thrills them more than any degree or accolade. Their deep interest in other people is genuinely derived from their desire to understand. Set out three new challenging skills to learn over the next year. You'll not only gain the subject knowledge required, but you'll stimulate your desire and aptitude to learn more.
5. They Consider Others
Thoughtful leaders are naturally empathetic. They have a love of humankind and are fascinated by offensive or bizarre behavior rather than affronted by it. At their core they understand the concept of cause and effect, thinking about how to get the most desired reaction for the effort extended. They make people around them feel important and worthy of time and energy. Examine your actions from the perspective of others. Think through your decisions from the perspective of your adversaries. You may find more win-win scenarios than you previously thought possible.
6. They Take Action
Thoughtful leaders are rarely stuck in analysis paralysis. They know how to turn careful thought into meaningful action. They understand that thought and exploration without physical implementation and impact is selfish and wasteful. They won't make people wonder if any good comes of all this thinking. They know when to finish the thinking and make great things happen. Whatever great things you have been pondering, it's time to put those thoughts into motion and achieve your preferred destiny.
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This year as you bestow a little holiday cheer on your employees, skip the usual bottle of wine or gift card. Instead, go for fun and high tech with one of these gizmos.
When it comes time to hand out gifts at the company party, don't be left empty-handed. These gadgets and gizmos will help make anyone's day--even that guy in accounting. Plus, they are priced under $100 so they are affordable enough for your holiday budget. --John Brandon
Gadgets you control with your smartphone, such as this spherical robot, are perfect for the office. Sphero 2.0, which just came out, is a fun way to take a mobile game break. The updated version changes colors, rolls twice as fast as the original, and even works with a few iPhone and Android games. If the $130 price tag is a little high for you, consider a refurbed unit for $59.99. The best part: sneaking up on unsuspecting co-workers and hitting the red flashing lights.
Ask someone if there's one common problem with the iPhone and you might get simple answer: the cables usually fray on one end. It's frustrating--and expensive to buy a new one. Awesome Cables sell a braided iPhone lightning cable that will last much longer. They're only $12, so you might consider getting the longer three-foot "Noodle" cable as well for $2.99. For $25.99, there's a lighted LED cable that's six feet long and works with newer iPhones.
This smart document scanner stand works with any smartphone. You set up the portable stand, set your phone on top, and snap a photo of a document placed within the lightbox. It's great for expense receipts, signed documents, and business cards but also works for 3D objects. The ScanStand costs $29.95.
At 2.5-inches tall, this iconic wall charger unit looks like the Android smartphone character. You plug one end of a USB cable into the Andru, then plug Andru into a wall outlet. His eyes light up blue during charging and then turn white when charging is complete. The arms and antennae move freely, and the charger is made from a soft matte material. Costs $20 each.
For just $39.97, this office-friendly copter is a fun holiday gift. You control it with an iPhone using a wireless adapter, and there's a gyroscope on the helicopter to keep it stable in the air, which minimizes crashes. The flight control app, which has simple tools for controlling speed and movement, has an option to record the flight and then play it back for the same movements.
For only $29.99, this Bluetooth earbud is priced about right for a techie holiday gift. The Jabra Classic uses voice guidance to help the owner sync over Bluetooth to a smartphone. For voice calls, the HD Voice tech helps improve sound quality by streaming at the highest bitrate. The earbud lasts for nine hours per charge for talk time and comes in three colors. Read more: Made by Entrepreneurs: 8 Great Gift Ideas
Some proposals might come to pass. Others? Don't hold your breath.
It has become a ritual during the State of the Union address each January: As President Obama talks about small business as “the foundation of our economy,” the cameras pan to Michelle Obama. Sitting nearby will be a smiling entrepreneur, chosen to illustrate the administration’s commitment to young companies. In 2009, the guest was the owner of a solar panel installation firm in Colorado. In 2010, it was the CEO of a chain of supermarkets. In 2011, there was Zachary Davis, who had launched an ice cream shop in California, thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
But even though Davis follows politics more closely than most entrepreneurs, he still works too many hours to pay much attention to Washington policy debates.
With business owners like Davis in mind, Inc. looked at the major policy issues affecting small-business owners in 2014--and whether real change has any chance of happening:
Nearly Done Deals
Legislation covering two key issues affecting smaller companies has already been signed into law. The catch: Important details remain unresolved.
The Affordable Care Act--a.k.a. Obamacare--became law in 2010. But it remains a kludge in progress: In April, the administration delayed until 2015 the rollout of the state-run exchanges that will allow employees a wider choice of coverage options, and in July it pushed back, also until 2015, the launch of the employer mandate (forcing businesses with 50 or more employees to buy coverage or pay a penalty). Republicans still talk of repealing it, and although that seems beyond unlikely, there are key details of the law that could change.
The second almost-done deal is the JOBS Act. The first piece of the law, which relaxes Depression-era rules that ban companies from advertising investment opportunities to the public, went into effect in September. The second piece, which allows companies to sell equity via crowdfunding, should be in place by late 2014. Issues remain, such as: What kind of disclosures must companies make to investors? Michael McGeary, political director at Engine, a tech advocacy group, says the JOBS Act “could be a real boon for young companies,” particularly those located outside VC-dense areas such as New York and Silicon Valley.
These Could Actually Happen (Someday)
In early 2013, there was hope Congress would make progress on two other issues that small-business owners care about: immigration and tax reform. Momentum disappeared as Congress became fixated on the debt ceiling and Obamacare. But odds are good that we will see new laws on each before this Congress checks out in early 2015.
Immigration reform would affect small-business owners in two ways. For the majority, the big concern is making it easier to verify a worker’s legal status. The Feds offer a voluntary online system called E Verify, and the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate last spring would make this system mandatory. That broad bill also would require noncitizen workers to show ID with fraud-resistant “biometric markers” when applying for jobs.
Other businesses--particularly in tech industries--care more about expanding the inflow of high-skill immigrants. These companies hope to see an expanded H-1B visa program, the creation of visas for immigrants who show proof of VC backing, and a clearer path to citizenship for high-skilled workers who are here illegally. Political oddsmakers are somewhat optimistic about reform passing in 2014, primarily because the 2013 Senate bill gained bipartisan backing before stalling out in the House.
Tax reform is another key 2014 issue. In late 2012, the Bush-era tax cuts expired, resulting in a tax increase (to 39.6 percent) on the highest earners. In August, Obama unveiled a plan to lower corporate tax rates from a maximum of 35 percent to 28 percent. This one-two punch seems unfair to small businesses, given that a filer’s rate could vary more than 10 percent depending on what kind of corporate structure he or she has chosen.
Senator Max Baucus and Representative David Camp, who lead their respective congressional committees on taxation issues, have been working on a bill that they say would be fairer to small businesses, but both men will be leaving those posts in early 2015, so it’s unclear how much success they will have.
There are perennial issues that small-business advocates love to promote and that members of Congress will periodically peddle--but never go anywhere. One example: The Kauffman Foundation has pushed to make it easier for students and professors to take innovations created inside universities and launch private companies. That’s a shift from the current system, in which agonizingly slow university bureaucracies must approve such deals. It sounds like a reasonable fix, but “universities hate the idea,” says Kauffman’s Dane Stangler. In July, House members discussed draft legislation aimed at providing grants to universities to promote innovative approaches to technology transfer. Similar legislation has been introduced, unsuccessfully, over the years.
Politicians also love to show love for small business by attempting to reduce regulation. Last summer, Senators Angus King and Roy Blunt tried with the Regulatory Improvement Act of 2013, which calls for a committee to come up with a plan to review, simplify, and cut federal regulations. Good luck. Why? What business owners see as “red tape” are often things that safety or environmental advocates see as needed protections.
It might have something to do with $3 million in free advertising on Cyber Monday.
Last night, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos went on "60 Minutes" and announced that Amazon's R&D department is working on drones that can deliver packages within 30 minutes. He called the service Amazon Prime Air.
The thing is, Amazon Prime Air won't be available for many years.
Even Bezos said last night that the earliest Amazon Prime Air could be in service is 2015 because that's the soonest the FAA could update its laws.
But the Wall Street Journal reports that the FAA isn't planning on beginning the certification of commercial drones until 2020.
There is a good reason for this. Drones can be very dangerous.
In March 2013, a commercial airliner flew within 200 feet of a small drone flying at 1,750 feet over a neighborhood in New York. The collision would have killed hundreds of people.
A retired commercial pilot named Tom Jeffries told ABC15.com the airliner almost hit the drone because drones don't appear on radar.
Jeffries says: “You’re never going to see them until they hit something. When they suck one of those drones into the engine of an airplane, then it’ll get everybody’s attention.”
The fact is, there is a very good chance that, last night, Amazon "announced" a service that will never exist in reality.
Why did Amazon do that?
The answer is free advertising. Even better: free advertising the night before the biggest e-commerce shopping day of the year, Cyber Monday.
How much was that free advertising worth?
"60 Minutes" gave more than 15 minutes to its Amazon story. A 30-second spot during the 7 p.m. show usually costs just over $100,000.
If you figure Amazon got 30 30-second commercials' worth of time, you can estimate that it got about $3 million worth of "earned" media.
But $3 million is probably a very low estimate. That's just the cost Amazon would have had to pay to reach "60 Minutes'" 13 million viewers. Thanks to all the coverage Amazon Prime Air has gotten in other outlets, many more millions of people are talking about the company today.
The funny thing is, talking about "drones" is a fairly common PR stunt at this point.
After the "60 Minutes" show last night, a Hacker News reader compiled a list of previously announced delivery drone programs, many of which were also PR stunts:
This story originally appeared on Business Insider.
Consider attending a non-traditional trade show. The exposure and payoff can be huge for your business.
My e-mail marketing company, VerticalResponse, attends and participates in a number of trade shows and events each year. But, we recently sponsored a trade show that was way outside our norm--it was a fundraiser put on by one of our long-time local customers Pawtrero. And, all the proceeds went to local San Francisco dog and cat rescues.
You may be scratching your head thinking, "Why the heck would an e-mail marketing company sponsor a pet benefit?"
Why? Because we got in front of folks we might never have a chance to otherwise, and got awesome engagement and a huge response out of it. Here's how:
Swag. Because we'd never done an event like this before, we had to make an educated guess around what kind of swag to bring and how much. What we knew was that we'd need to mix it up. The usual trade show gear was not going to be a good fit here. So, we had dog brushes and portable dog bowls created with our VerticalResponse logo on them. And they flew, and I mean flew off our table. People were actually offering to buy them--that's when you know you've got great swag.
Lesson--Think of your swag like good content.
When attending any trade show, try to customize your swag to your intended audience. If we brought our usual giveaways, it could have been a bust. Think about your audience's needs, offer something of value that addresses those needs and boom--you've got a winner.
Walk the Walk. Because this wasn't going to be our usual trade show audience, we changed a few things up. For instance, we wore logo t-shirts to fit the casual, weekend outdoor vibe of the event. We also invited our employees and their family members, and of course their dogs. At one point we had our Events manager Jenny, our dog Dwight, and our content marketing director's 7-year old daughter and her stuffed dog working our booth. And they were killing it. People responded to our giveaways and our people. It was the perfect match.
Lesson--It's okay to mix it up.
If an event has a more casual vibe, you'll stick out like a sore thumb dressed in suits and ties and people will definitely peg you as someone trying to sell them something. Loosen up when the environment calls for it and you'll be able to mix better with the attendees and engage them.
Get Some Exposure. Because we were the main sponsor for the event, we got to place signage in multiple locations throughout the show and in all the outbound communications like the e-mail marketing, the website and on the blog. These online placements, along with the link back to our website, live on long after the event ends.
Lesson--Ask for what you need.
If you're looking for new leads for your business and you're attending or sponsoring an event, make sure you ask for mentions in all the trade show collateral, communications and marketing. Long after the event ends, those online mentions will supply good search engine optimization juice for your business.
So, on a sunny Sunday afternoon surrounded by friendly folks and their dogs we had heaps of fun exposing tons of new people to our company and if they have small businesses, how we can help them grow. Maybe it's time to think outside the box for your next trade show?
To transition from founder from leader, you need the most capable colleagues behind you.
When war erupted between the United States and Spain at the turn of the 19th century, President William McKinley knew establishing communication with Cuban insurgents could be decisive to victory. But with the rebel General Garcia hiding in the expansive Cuban mountains, how would he reach him when a telegraph and courier could not?
McKinley turned to a young military officer after being advised of a "fellow by the name of Rowan who will find Garcia for you, if anybody can." Upon receiving his mission, Rowan left for Cuba, with the President's letter in tow, in search of the generalísimo.
Three weeks later he emerged, having successfully delivered the message to Garcia.
Elbert Hubbard's classic, A Message to Garcia, has been read for decades by Annapolis midshipmen and West Point cadets because it's a testament to the power of initiative. It shows the significance of a leader's ability to identify and inspire, and most of all, trust others to independently execute on a mission.
Many entrepreneurs share Rowan's initiative and drive. They love obstacles, solving problems and working until they succeed (or die trying). But how many identify, inspire, and trust others to do the job? That's the difference between a start-up founder and someone leading a viable business.
Our experience building Rocket Lawyer was much like transitioning from a one-man band into an orchestra with a conductor. At first, the founder played much of the music. But over time, the only way to perform a symphony was for the leader to put down her trumpet or cello, step away from the orchestra and conduct. She needed to give individual performers both the guidance and space to bring their talents together.
It takes time and commitment to go all in on team building. So a good first step is to write down your mission. (At Rocket Lawyer, ours is to make the law affordable and simple.) Next, you should write down the key individual qualities, like initiative, that you're certain will help you succeed. Critically evaluate everyone on your team against these criteria, strive to mentor and develop them, and only hire those who fit the bill.
Finding the right team is really a prerequisite to transitioning from founder to leader. Without such a team, you can't achieve the force multiplier of capable colleagues. Both Walter Isaacson's biography, Steve Jobs, and Brad Stone's book on Amazon, The Everything Store, outline this in detail.
Both founders identified and managed teams that deliver stunning results. People like Tim Cook, Jonny Ive, Joy Covey, Jeff Wilke and many others have exceeded the founder's expectations (and individual capacity) by taking Apple and Amazon farther than they deemed possible.
At about 200 people, Rocket Lawyer is still relatively new to its journey. Our senior team of Dan Nye, Monique Moore, Paul Hollerbach, David Baga, An Tran and Courtney O'Connell constantly refines how we work together to deliver the legal service our customers need.
So what is the path from start-up founder to leader? Not that far from the route between the unknown and the Cuban mountains that Rowan traversed. To go from founder to leader, find, inspire, and promote those people who, when given a "letter for Garcia," can figure out how to deliver it all by themselves.
Convincing young, healthy people to buy health insurance will be crucial to Obamacare's success. Senior Contributing Editor and veteran entrepreneur Norm Broodsky explains why that may be more difficult than expected.
I’ve always believed that, in our society, every citizen should have access to good health care. For that reason, I began providing my employees with health insurance as soon as I could afford it. Then, one day, I learned that an employee had gone to a hospital emergency room. I was concerned, but when I saw him the next day, he said he’d just had a cough and wanted it checked out. “But we give you health insurance,” I said.
“Nah,” he answered. “We don’t use that. We just go to the emergency room.”
I did some investigating and discovered that many of my employees weren’t using their health insurance. I thought maybe it was because they didn't help pay for it. So I announced a new policy: The company would cover 80 percent of the health insurance cost for any employee who wanted it. The employee would have to pay the rest -; about $5 per week. Eighty percent opted out. I couldn’t believe it. When I questioned people, they told me they didn’t need the insurance. They already had free health care at the emergency room.
For Obamacare to succeed, it will need to induce young, healthy people to buy insurance. My experience shows just how hard it’s going to be to get any healthy, uninsured people--young or old--to sign up. Meanwhile, the law will at least relieve start-ups of responsibility for employees’ health coverage.
That’s one less thing you’ll have to think about in launching a business. Moreover, to the extent that Obamacare complicates life for your larger competitors, it may even give you a slight edge. You may also find it a little easier to attract talent, because providing health insurance will no longer be a competitive advantage. It all helps.
Start-up thoughts from senior contributing editor and veteran entrepreneur Norm Brodsky.
Got a question for Norm? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To say that it was an eventful year in tech is an understatement. From tech giants like Apple launching new products to innovative startups creating wildly popular software, here's a shortlist of 2013 must-have tech gear handpicked by Inc. gadget guru John Brandon.
To say that it was an eventful year in tech is an understatement. From tech giants like Apple launching new products to innovative startups creating wildly popular software, here's a shortlist of 2013 must-haves handpicked by Inc. gadget guru John Brandon.
Want to get to inbox zero--and stay there? Check out Mailstrom. Whereas other inbox apps focus on broad categorization of your messages, this one is all about taking action and clearing the clutter. So you can view emails by categories--say, older than three months or social network alerts--and start chopping away. The app is free and works with most email services.
This year, we saw plenty of tablet/laptop combos that combined the minimalism of a tablet but the power and feel of a laptop. Our top pick? The Acer Aspire R7 Notebook, which costs $999. The R7 lies flat like a tablet, folds into a Windows 8 touch laptop--and its battery lasts up to 5 hours. Bonus: the four 2-watt Dolby speakers were surprisingly loud.
A recent survey found that 52 percent of small businesses do not have a website. There's no excuse for this, especially when there are so many easy-to-use website design tools out there. We like Webflow for its intuitive interface, stylish templates, and full suite of tools. The main draw, though, is that it is a full Web editor and it keeps track of all your site's versions as you evolve the design.
The more you use your phone for work, the more you need to protect that device. Fortunately, more hardware companies are rolling out super-secure models. We reviewed three in 2013. While BlackBerry gets a few extra points for features, check out the Samsung Galaxy S4. This Android phone lets your IT team wipe it remotely and offers advanced unlock options, including face detection.
You could get so much more done on your smartphone... if only typing wasn't such a pain. The predictive keyboard app Fleksy aims to make it a whole lot easier. The app promises to make sense of what you type, no matter how badly you've jumbled the letters. It technically launched in 2012 for iOS but came to Android in 2013.
No gadget round-up is complete without mentioning an Apple device. This year saw the souped-up iPhone 5s come to market--in a golden hue, of all things. With a 64-bit chipset, this phone is super snappy. Plus, it comes with a fingerprint scanner to unlock the phone.
Fujifilm found a niche in a slumping market when smartphones began replacing cameras. Here are three lessons you can learn from its approach.
How will you react, when a disruption threatens your business model?
One counterintuitive approach is to innovate within the disrupted area.
For example, the makers of cameras are experiencing a well-chronicled disruption, thanks to the ability of smartphones to take basic digitized photographs. And yet, one of Fujifillm's responses was to innovate with a new line of cameras, called the X-series.
Since it was first introduced in 2011, Fujifilm has sold more than 700,000 X-series cameras, reports the New York Times. That sales figure, at a time when overall camera shipments are down 39% by volume, is impressive.
More to the point, Fujifilm's success with the X-series offers three lessons for executives facing prospective disruptions in their own industries:
1. Find the segment that still covets your product. In Fujifilm's case, there were plenty of old-school camera enthusiasts out there. Most of us know someone like this: The person who favors the craft and image quality of an actual camera to the point-and-click convenience of a smartphone. That person still wants a camera.
For that person, a smartphone is not an adequate replacement. That person could be a camera professional, seeking a lightweight device to use when not officially on the job. That person could also be what the Times called a prosumer--a consumer who spends "hundreds of dollars a year, or more, on camera gear."
2. Learn what that segment really wants. Fujifilm, notes the Times, "interviewed professional photographers about their preferences on everything from the pebbled plastic that covers parts of the camera to the color of the paint on the bodies. Almost a dozen shades of silver were considered. The goal was to give the cameras a certain gravitas."
In other words, Fujifilm learned that the camera's design and aura were important, even to performance-obsessed prosumers.
"When we were little, when we went into our father’s room or our grandfather's room, there was an important-looking camera on the shelf, and we were told not to touch it because it was valuable," the chief designer told the Times. "We wanted to create that look and feel."
To that end, the X-series cameras have actual dials controlling aperture and shutter speed, as opposed to purely digital settings. Moreover, the look of the X-series is an homage to the hallowed cameras of yesteryear: "With boxy, rectangular bodies and straight, cylindrical lenses, they resemble classic Leicas," writes the Times.
3. Stay true to your core mission and values. For Fujifilm, this was a devotion to quality images, refreshingly simple as that sounds. Had the company focused solely on innovating the exterior design of the cameras--ignoring enhancements to the "guts" and performance of the device--it would have (potentially) risked its reputation.
"Because of our heritage in film, picture quality was important," the marketing manager told the Times. Moreover, any compromise in performance might have disappointed the prosumer enthusiasts, for whom the whole point of owning a camera--that is, a separate device from one's phone--is the creation of visual excellence.
The accidental corner office utterances that will live in infamy forever.
By Geoffrey James Every leader has a bad day once in a while, but these CEOs came up with one-liners that epitomized everything that was wrong with their leadership.
Thomas Edison: "Tesla, you don't understand our American humor." (1885) Edison promised the electronics genius Nicola Tesla a bonus of $50,000 if he improved Edison's clunky generator design. When Tesla delivered and Edison reneged, Tesla jumped to Westinghouse, which proceeded to clobber Edison's company in the budding electrical power industry.
Dennis Kozlowski: "All the information the prosecutors got was directly off the books and records of the company." (2007) Kozlowski had his company Tyco reportedly pay for a $30 million apartment, replete with $15,000 "dog umbrella stands" and a birthday Toga Party for his wife that included a ice sculpture of Michelangelo's David that peed expensive Vodka. He was eventually convicted receiving almost $100 million in unauthorized bonuses and perks.
Ken Olsen: "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home." (1977) Supposedly, the founder and CEO of Digital Equipment Corporation (then the 2nd largest computer manufacturer) wasn't talking about PCs, but his personal distaste for the devices was said to be responsible for DEC's failure to secure any of that all-important market.
Al Dunlap: "You're not in business to be liked. Neither are I. We're here to succeed. If you want a friend, get a dog." (1997) Tough talking "Chainsaw Al" left a string of enemies in his wake, which provided plenty of willing witnesses in a SEC lawsuit. Dunlap is now banned from serving as an officer or director of any public company.
Kenneth Lay: "Am I a fool? I don't think I'm a fool. But I think I sure was fooled." (2006) When confronted with the massive fraud at Enron, Lay explained that it wasn't really his fault because he was clueless about what was actually going on.
Gil Amelio: "Apple is like a ship, that ship is loaded with treasure, but there's a hole in the ship. And my job is to get everyone to row in the same direction." (1997) When Gil Amelio took the helm at Apple, he inherited a company that had just experienced a decade of rapid growth. He then proceeded to make a string of decisions so awful that it took Steve Jobs years to turn the company back around.
Eckhard Pfeiffer: "Today we are making history." (1998) Under Pfeiffer's leadership, Compaq paid top dollar for two sclerotic minicomputer vendors (Tandem and DEC). With Compaq thus saddled, Dell took the opportunity to kick Compaq's butt in the PC market.
Gerard Levin: "The combination of AOL and Time Warner...has an opportunity on a worldwide basis to make a substantial contribution." (2000) The mega-merger of the century! A union of traditional media with the World Wide Web! Only one thing wrong: AOL was an concept and company whose time had come and gone.
Bob Benmosche: "It was just as bad and just as wrong." (2013) When the AIG CEO compared the public outrage over bonuses to lynchings in the Deep South, he identified himself as simultaneously the most insensitive and clueless business leader of all time.
Mark Zuckerberg: "Young people are just smarter." (2007) The Facebook's CEO's remark seems a bit pre-mature now that Facebook has become the oldster's blogging tool of choice, while teenagers are abandoning it in droves. Enjoy this post? Sign up for the free Sales Source newsletter.
Company culture isn't a mysterious mist that descends upon your company. As a leader, you're responsible for creating a motivational culture.Entrepreneurial ventures are based on motivation. Leaders who cannot motivate others inevitably remain holed up in their caves with their great ideas. Motivation isn’t simply a question of extrinsic rewards--big bonuses, great salaries, and trips to Hawaii. While many people successfully use extrinsic rewards to build motivation during a period of growth, what happens when things get tough? How do you motivate when there is no bonus, or when you’re downsizing? This is when you need is commitment based on intrinsic rewards. What you need is a culture of motivation--a culture that sustains forward movement even when things are rough. Culture is not something that just emerges while you’re busy doing something else. Culture is not some anthropological mist that mysteriously settles in on your organizational terrain. It is something that you, as an entrepreneurial leader, are responsible for. A culture of motivation addresses three critical socio-psychological needs: the need to learn; the need for affiliation; and the need for reaffirmation. 1. Learning is the basic psychological need for efficacy and mastery. It is the need to feel that your activities are expanding your knowledge, skills, and potential. It is personal growth. How often do people drop jobs or projects because they the projects seem to be a dead end? Dead ends equal repetition: nothing new to do, nothing new to learn, no challenges, and no upward mobility. 2. Affiliation is the most basic sociological drive. It is the need to identify with and be part of a group. It is the need for community. More often than not individuals are drawn to projects and activities that allow them the opportunity to identify and work with others. Group-based projects and activities help people stay longer than if they were working alone. Having the sense you’re part of a group makes it easier to sustain momentum. 3. Reaffirmation is the basic socio-psychological drive for social reassurance. It is the need for recognition. It is a public recognition for what you’ve accomplished, who you are, and where you belong. Without reaffirmation, you create feelings of being taken for granted--people feel overlooked and underappreciated. Without periodic reaffirmation, you can stir up “why-am-I-here?” questions. Without reaffirmation, few people will stay on your side, and you’ll be unlikely to sustain momentum. Learning, affiliation, and reaffirmation are keys to creating a culture of motivation. The challenge to your entrepreneurial leadership is to create an organizational culture that will address each of these needs. If you want to make sure your initiative is carried out in the most expeditious and appropriate manner by an active, engaged team, you must deal with the motivational issue. You need to be deliberate about culture, and use it as a proactive tool. Entrepreneurial leaders understand they must manage the organizational culture just as they maintain resources and monitor performance. Entrepreneurial leaders understand that culture is the glue that keeps everything else in place. And they know how to manage culture to sustain momentum.
"The 4-Hour Workweek" author Tim Ferriss conducts productivity experiments in his new reality TV show.
Not everyone has superhuman-like productivity skills. But is it possible that with right learning methods almost anyone can?
Angel investor and author of the "The 4-Hour Workweek" Tim Ferriss is currently testing the theory in a new TV show. "The general thesis and message of the show is that to produce superhuman results, you don't need an infinite budget; you just need a better toolkit," Ferriss said in an interview with VentureBeat.
Throughout the 13-episode-long reality TV show called The Tim Ferriss Experiment, Ferriss attempts to pick up a new skill -- like becoming fluent in Spanish -- or accomplish a huge feat -- like building a business -- in four days. The first episode, for which Ferriss received a crash course in drumming, premiered Sunday on CNN’s Headline News Network.
Ferriss is known for writing about productivity hacks, tricks that he's learned through self-experimentation. The show aims to demonstrate how these hacks work. For example, Ferriss offered a specific takeaway from his Spanish language learning experiment:
"Density of practice is very, very important. One hour a day per year is only 1 percent as effective as cramming for 52 hours in two weeks -- distributing your time over a year is not nearly as successful," Ferriss told VentureBeat.
Ferriss assured that not all of his experiments will be successful. "Some end with me in a complete train-wreck," he said.
It’s currently available to watch online.