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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wants to start a revolution for women in the workplace. Inc. editor-at-large Leigh Buchanan explores the implications for women who lead their own companies.
Every few years, a new book ignites debate about structural and social impediments to women achieving professional parity.
This year, Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, due out in March, is that book, but it's also stirring up controversy about privilege. Critics want to know where Sheryl Sandberg, the Harvard-educated, billionaire COO of Facebook, gets off pressing ordinary women with ordinary educations, ordinary bank accounts, and ordinary access to child care to work harder and seize the reins of their careers.
It's worth noting that ordinary women do this every day--by starting their own companies. Entrepreneurship is an interesting lens through which to view one of Sandberg's chief arguments: that women "leave before [they] leave." Sandberg says many women are hesitant to push themselves forward--to pursue higher positions with more work and more responsibility--because they anticipate starting a family (even if they don't yet have spouses) and don't want to doom the possibility of work-life balance. Unfettered by present or future domestic bonds, men rise up the ladder in their places.
Dropping out is not an option.
But holding back isn't really an option for women entrepreneurs. In the early years, particularly, there is simply too much to do and no one to pick up the slack. Check out of your job and you hurt yourself. Check out of your own business and you risk hurting your employees, customers, and people--including family and friends--who gave you money because they believed in you. If women are likely to sabotage themselves, as Sandberg contends, entrepreneurship minimizes their opportunities to do so. Once you embark on that path--you are it, sister, whether you like it or not.
Where entrepreneurial women arguably do sabotage themselves is the decision--when it is a decision--to build smaller companies than men. Even a minnow feels like a big fish in a pond the size of a puddle. The number of women-owned businesses is growing faster than the number of new businesses overall, according to a study by American Express Open, and 30 percent of U.S. businesses are owned by women. But those enterprises account for just 6 percent of the workforce and less than 4 percent of business revenues. A report from the National Women's Business Council shows that only 1.8 percent of women-owned businesses earn $1 million or more, and 68 percent make less than $25,000.
Three reasons women build smaller.
I can think of three explanations for such under-performance. The first is external obstacles. Women in general have less access than men to capital (including venture and private equity investment and government loans), markets, and networks.
The second explanation is personal choice. Keep the company small, some women believe, and work-life balance becomes a dreamable dream. If those women were comparably un-ambitious as employees, it would damage their careers, which is Sandberg's thesis. As entrepreneurs, they may sacrifice revenue. But at least they are in control.
The third explanation is more complicated. Sandberg says that women underestimate their own abilities and don't force their way to the proverbial table. We can probably all agree that it is a bad thing when women allow low confidence and self-esteem to hold them back. But as we know from research, women are also more cautious than men, requiring better odds that the risks they take will pay off. That attitude isn't altogether bad, even though it can inhibit growth: women-owned businesses are more likely to fail to thrive; men-owned businesses are more likely to fail spectacularly.
"Leaning In" for women entrepreneurs.
Sandberg, who dwells in the citadel of aggressive entrepreneurship, would likely urge women to build responsibly but to do so in growth rather than lifestyle companies. Start the next Facebook, not a bed-and-breakfast. Choose a competitive, expansive industry and it will force you to step up your game just as starting your own company forces you to stay in the game. Always be scaling and, ideally, when you do choose to have children, you'll command sufficient resources to make things easier.
But how many of us get to experience "ideally"? When plans for ambitious growth don't pan out they erode a family's finances, not buttress them. On the flip side, women who find themselves at the helm of surging companies may repeatedly put off starting families because their obligations are too great.
The saving grace is entrepreneurs' ability to design most aspects of their businesses. Don't think about keeping the company so small it is easy to step away from. Do think about locating it somewhere that will make family logistics easier, about investing in technology that will minimize the amount of travel necessary, and about hiring people who replicate some of your skills as well as complement them. Create a culture where hard work is rewarded but being a responsible parent is always the right choice. Do that, and both you and your employees will reach heights to make Sheryl Sandberg cheer.
In Confirmation.com's early days, the start-up made an unusual decision about how to grow: It went where Southwest flew. Here's why it worked.
When you start a business, the list of what you don't have is endless: cash, customers, supplies, time...
So forget that. Flip it around and focus on what you do have.
"Basically," Brian says, "We made Southwest Airlines our corporate jet."
Here's how, in their words:
We put a premium on face-to-face meetings with prospective customers because that's the best way to start and build relationships. You can't read body language over the phone, it's much harder to establish rapport (and it's easier for people to say "no" on the phone).
Still, like any start-up, cash was in short supply so we needed to be prudent. Southwest almost always offered the lowest airfares, so we started targeting banks and accounting firms in locations where Southwest had a hub. Fortunately our customers tend to be in larger cities, so as Southwest has expanded its destinations, we've grown with them.
The second-biggest travel expense is the cost of changing your travel plans. Smart entrepreneurs take meetings when they can get them, but paying $150 to change a $300 plane ticket is painful when you're bootstrapping. Using an airline that offered tremendous flexibility and no change fees made a huge difference.
Reliability was and is also important. On some airlines we would end up with a connecting flight on a commuter plane... and have our flight canceled. Getting bumped to a later flight was a disaster if we then missed the meeting. With Southwest, we knew that barring an extreme situation the flight would go and we would make our meeting.
In some cases it was actually less expensive for us to fly as close as we could get and then drive four or five hours. We'd drive across Wisconsin from Chicago if we had to. When you're a start-up time is important--but sometimes you have more time than cash. Sometimes your time isn't really that valuable when you compare it to the money you don't have.
So we started telling people Southwest was our corporate jet--because in many ways, it was.
Take a look at your business. Sure, you have challenges and roadblocks and hurdles. But what advantages--geographic, cultural, networking, labor force, access--can you tap?
It's a lot easier to do more with what you do have than to try to do something with what you don't have--yet.
In an exclusive Inc. interview, Sir Richard explains who rates highest at Virgin. And it's not investors, either.
00:12 Eric Schurenberg: Not just customer service matters to the Virgin brand. Virgin is one of the few companies, I'd include Southwest Airlines and Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group, as a place that puts employees first. Why does that matter to you and why does that tend to result in better customer service?
00:34 Richard Branson: It sort of should go without saying -- and it's surprising that it still doesn't go without saying at some companies -- if the person who works at your company is 100% proud of the job they're doing, if you give them the tools to do a good job, they're proud of the brand, if they were looked after, if they're treated well, then they're gonna be smiling, they're gonna be happy and therefore the customer will have a nice experience. If the person who's working for your company is not given the right tools, is not looked after, is not appreciated, they're not gonna do things with a smile and therefore the customer will be treated in a way where often they won't want to come back for more. So, my philosophy has always been, if you can put staff first, your customer second and shareholders third, effectively, in the end, the shareholders do well, the customers do better, and yourself are happy.
02:02 Schurenberg: You talk a lot about a management technique that you practice called, "The Walkabout", or in the US, "Managing by walking around." Tell me how that works.
02:11 Branson: Well, look, I think that in this day and age, I like to think I practiced it all my life, but I think in this day and age, it is very easy to be out and about and not stuck behind a desk. And you're going to learn so much more. I mean, if I'm on one of our airlines, I will make a point of getting out and talking to a lot of staff, talking to as many of the customers as possible, having a notebook in my back pocket, listening. And I think, one of the key attributes to a good leader is listening, making sure that you write down the feedback that you get. And very importantly, make sure you act on that feedback when you get back to base. An exceptional company is the one that gets all the little details right. And the people out on the front line, they know when things are not going right and they know when things need to be improved. And if you listen to them you can soon improve all those niggly things which turns an average company into an exceptional company.
Collaboration between PR and SEO teams can lead to new content, better publicity, and even new business. Here's how to make it work.
Does your PR team know SEO best practices and vice versa?
PR and SEO teams share a common goal--to increase a brand's presence in the marketplace--but they take different approaches. As a business grows, it can be easy to silo groups and overlook opportunities for collaboration. Forming stronger ties between these two teams can lead to new content, better publicity and even new business. Working with Julie Perrigan, Rise Interactive's SEO manager, we outlined three areas for companies to begin their PR and SEO collaboration:1. Increase Quality Content and Links
The goal of public relations is to create content, find opportunities to share it and to gain exposure for your organization through media, print and digital efforts. SEO should be a piece of that puzzle, not an afterthought. Creating quality content allows your PR department to promote your company, by providing an easy-to-follow path back to your site through relevant links in your content. But both teams need to share common ground in order to build a website's authority and brand awareness.
Before your PR team creates or pitches a story, members of both SEO and PR teams should discuss key messages, targeted keywords, distribution tactics and overall goals for each team. Also, both teams should explore the content landscape, then brainstorm, and develop content that sets you apart from the competition.
With Google algorithm updates--such as Panda and Penguin--changing the landscape of SEO, there is a growing need for quality content and links in high-authority sites.2. Build Relationships
Building ongoing, mutually beneficial relationships can help create a more holistic strategy. PR and SEO both utilize relationships to promote websites and brands. While a PR department makes more personal relationships via phone or in-person, SEO groups can build and foster relationships online. Finding those key influencers within your industry and building relationships to obtain links is where SEO and Link Building is heading. Make certain your PR and SEO departments are sharing their media lists and relationship-building opportunities (both online and offline) with one another.
Relationships are instrumental in building a strong network of brand advocates and will provide the most value for your business. However, if your teams are uncoordinated, it can lessen their credibility and damage new and existing relationships.3. Promote
Social media is the perfect tool to strengthen PR and SEO. Its power to promote a brand and build awareness, coupled with the ability to generate high-authority links and shares, makes it the perfect outlet for certain brands. While print and broadcast channels are the bedrock of traditional PR, promoting your original content via social media platforms exposes that content to an audience of people who have already opted to follow you. As you gain a larger online following, set up tools which can analyze and monitor your social media efforts. By employing these tools, you can test and track which content resonates with your audience. This investment will make your PR and SEO efforts more competitive.
Also, with the rise of social signals as a ranking factor, the more quality content you can provide, and the more your PR and social channels can promote, the better. By utilizing your relationships and promoting your content, you open the door to higher rankings, increased quality traffic and more exposure in every capacity.
So whether you have in-house PR and SEO departments or use an outside PR or SEO company, it is imperative that each channel communicates and collaborates to ensure you are getting the most value and greatest exposure for your business and brand. Integrating the various channels of your organization not only fosters multi-channel knowledge and communication, but allows employees to feel more connected with one another and with the company as a whole. It will also help employees to speak intelligently about every channel in your organization, leading to a whole new level of brand advocates.
Measuring performance by looking at the P&L is like driving by looking in the rearview mirror. Here's a better way to predict performance.
Arguably the most important element in building a business is setting clear goals and targets. Successful companies set stretch goals and build a solid business model and strategic path to reach those goals, which usually are results-oriented: revenue, growth, and profit. Some companies may even set a valuation target.
But, as important as these goals are in driving the direction and prioritization of the company, they can become problematic when operating in a rapid growth environment. Each of these results is an inherently backward-looking measure. The P&L statement shows results for the past year, quarter, or month but says little about the future. Using the P&L as an indicator of success is like driving by looking in the rearview mirror. Growing companies are dynamic, and the leadership team needs forward looking or real time data to make critical course corrections and set the business on the right track to achieving its goals.
This is especially true if your business has a lengthy sales cycle. In our business, our sales cycle can be as long as 18 to 24 months in some cases. We meet a potential client or investor, engage in initial discussions, convince them that we're relevant, then wait until they feel the timing is right to make an investment in their business. As a result, our P&L results largely reflect decisions we made over the past two years. So we needed to come up with a series of metrics that we could use to predict our P&L over the next two years, so we could invest (or divest) appropriately in growth opportunities.
Here are the measures we use as leading indicators of the health of our business:1. Number of Quality, Active Relationships
We measure how many potential clients we are engaged in conversations with within the last three months that are likely to hire or partner with us to build a business.2. Number and Quality of Active Discussions
We count a client as an active discussion when we are talking to them about a specific way we could build or transform a business for them.3. Number of Active Proposals
We count the number of outstanding proposals that have not been accepted but are still relevant to our client.4. Number and Value of Starter Projects or Initial Investor Agreements
We typically engage our clients in a 6-to-12-week starter project to explore the prospect of building or transforming a business, prior to agreeing to a long-term partnership.5. Number of Active Long-term Partnerships
We know these partnerships have long-term potential, but we need to invest in them to retain and grow our business with them.
By tracking these five metrics weekly, we gain insight into where our business is headed over the next 18-24 months. When they change in one direction or another, we can correct our course to ensure we stay on a consistent growth path.
Share your leading indicators with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There's one thing every leader needs to have to be great: time management. Struggling? Take a look at what may be hurting your leadership.
In my years of coaching founders, owners, and executives, I've found that one key skill is the doorway to just about everything else. Get this one thing right, and everything else follows. Screw it up, and you'll face an uphill battle all the way.
What is this magic skill? In a simpler age, it was called time management. A while back, the terminology changed to productivity management.
Now, in the 24/7 information era, I prefer to call it environment control-- the ability to manage the swirling, chaotic, constant flow of information, decisions and tasks that surround every leader.
Why is this seemingly mechanistic skill so important in the development of leaders? The answer is simple, but hiding in plain sight: I've found that most would-be leaders have the mental, emotional, and physical resources necessary to develop whatever skill or attribute is asked of them.
Whether developing as a leader requires you to work on the art of delegation, or more courageous risk-taking, or becoming more innovative (your mileage will vary), chances are you are quite capable of developing that skill. If you have the time and space to do it.
And there's the kicker: you probably don't have the time and space to do it. You start with good intentions, but the sheer pressure of other commitments and the constant inflow of new demands, new information, prevent you from taking a disciplined, structured approach to building the new skill you need.
Net result, six months later, little has changed. You're still not delegating enough, not thinking strategically enough, not innovating enough. Taking a firm grip on the environment around you--getting to the point where you can control how and where you spend your limited resources--involves radically upending how you approach three key areas of your life:
1. Your Calendar.
If you regularly slough off meetings because you're overbooked, end the day embarrassed because you failed to show for conference calls you were expected on, or spend your time scurrying from one late-running meeting to the next, you're not going to develop as a leader. You'll simply stay on the same hamster-wheel, trapped in a groundhog day of your own making. No excuse: Great leaders have the exact same 24 hours a day that you do. They just manage them better.
2. Your Commitments.
When was the last time you made an inventory of all the outstanding commitments you've made to others? Or even just noted down the commitments you casually added in one day?
Stuck leaders fail to realize that we can't keep making commitments, large and small, without at some point overloading our ability to deliver on those commitments. If you've reached the point where others can't trust you to do what you say you'll do, you have a systemic problem--one that will fatally stall your ability to grow as a leader.
3. Your Communications.
Got 400 unread emails in your inbox? Looking at a reading pile the size of a small library? Do outstanding reports and presentations start yelling for attention every time you open your laptop?
If so, your ability to lead is being compromised--severely compromised--by the pressure to manage.
I wish I had a magician's ability to make the problem of environment control go away overnight. I don't. But I do know that until you fix it, you'll never be the leader you want to be.
There is a solution, but requires hard work (sadly, not a popular concept in much of today's leadership literature). Grab one of the many great resources on environment control, and invest the time needed to install systems and processes that will give you mastery over your calendar, commitments and communications.
Personally, I highly recommend David Allen's classic guide, Getting Things Done (full disclosure, the author is a friend of mine, but I admired and benefited from his book long before we met), but there are many others out there. The issue is not a shortage of resources. The issue is your commitment.
Are you prepared to invest time to learn the only leadership skill you may ever need?
If you're starting your own business for these four reasons don't do it.
I recently went to a great tech event called VatorSplash. It's an event where tech entrepreneurs claw their way to center stage in hopes of getting their demo seen and receiving the coveted Vator award. The real benefit is they get in front of some impressive VCs that might love their idea enough to fund it to the next phase. The night I went I was lucky enough to get to listen to the CEO of Evernote, Phil Libin speak. And as I write this, I'm using his great tool.
Libin walked us through his beliefs on entrepreneurship; specifically who should be an entrepreneur and where they should launch. As he chatted about the "who" part, I pulled four reasons why anyone thinking they want to start a business should NOT DO IT and related it to my day-to-day and boy, was he spot on. So here's my take on his words. Don't start a biz if...1. You Want to Be Your Own Boss
In general most boss's report to someone on some level. Yet even if you fund your company yourself you still have people to answer to. You need to understand that your No. 1 job is making sure people in your company are successful. I have a bunch of people who report to me at my online marketing company VerticalResponse. Their biggest problem? Getting s*it done. My to-do list? Removing obstacles for them so they can get stuff done, which benefits our team. I report to them and they know that.2. You Want More Flexible Time
It's such a great thought, "If I have my own company I can come and go as I please!" (LOL). For what it's worth, if you want more flexible time you should not be an entrepreneur. As I sit here on President's Day at 9 p.m. writing this, I owe this article to the person who manages content for us. (See No. 1). You live and breathe your business, you can't think of anything else and your time is your business. Get used to it.3. You Want to Make Money Overnight
When I started VerticalResponse, I wanted to commoditize email marketing for small business. In 2001 there wasn't a tool for small businesses to do their email marketing affordably, so I wanted to ensure there was something reasonable that would help their business grow. Do I want VR to be successful? You bet, whatever format it comes in, be it an acquisition, IPO or simply making it on its own.4. You Can't Afford to Fail
If you want to start your own business, you have to be okay that you'll lose your own investment. And if you're lucky enough to have them, you'll lose your investors investment and you're still okay with that. If you've got a soul, you'll lose sleep. For me, every time I went back to my friends and family for investment money, I made sure to put my money where my mouth was and invested alongside them. I couldn't see taking friends money if I wasn't willing to put more in myself!
All in all, a great gig, thanks Phil for an awesome chat, and for bringing to the surface the realities of running your own business. What you talked about was complete reality, but I wouldn't trade if for the world!
Do you agree with who should be an entrepreneur? I'd love to hear about it!
In a conversation with Peter Diamandis, Philip Rosedale broke down the ways technology will disrupt traditional top-down corporate culture.
“I don’t think the companies we will have in 10 years will be structured in a way that will even allow your eye to draw analogies with the companies we have today,” Philip Rosedale, founder of SecondLife and Coffee and Power, recently said in an interview with Peter Diamandis.
So what exactly does he think this new employment landscape will look like? In the lengthy post, Rosedale outlined a seven key features, but here are the highlights:
Turnover will go through the roof. The trend of employees rapidly cycling through companies (currently, on average, a young person changes jobs every 18 months) will dramatically increase, redefining the way we work.
"People won't necessarily think of themselves as being employed by a single company. They won't necessarily work at one company for 10 years; they might work at it for 10 months or even 10 days,” Rosedale told Diamandis. “The companies of the future will be these aggregations of people who work together not necessarily because they're working for one person or on one project, but because they're somehow useful to each other at a high level."
Rosedale used the creation of Coffee and Power as an example – “Most of the work was done by about 100 people. If you graph their contributions, it was the classic Internet long tail where there were five people who were more or less making full salaries from us, from all over the world” he said. The majority of work was done by individuals who contributed to specific projects, but did not have long-term ties to the company.
No more top-down management. Evaluations will come from co-workers, marking the end of top-down management. For Rosedale, evaluations by management teams result in wasted time and wasted resources. To work effectively, the feedback process needs to be continues and organic; “You get people to share information about what they're doing, and then to recognize each other for their achievements in a way that creates a modern version of the resume," he told Diamandis. "It's a kind of a feedback loop around progress that better values their contributions to each other, allowing them to more effectively engage serendipitously with people who may give them their next job."
Employees set prices for the jobs they do. From the beginning, Rosedale adopted this model at Coffee and Power. He had a list of initial jobs he needed to assign (find a lawyer, create a logo) but instead of going out and hiring people, Rosedale created a public spreadsheet listing each project.
For example, Rosedale needed someone to write a chunk of code. “If anybody out there could help us with this they could put their name next to it, get it done and keep us updated,” Rosedale said. Instead of arbitrarily sticking a price tag on the task, Rosedale let the market assign a dollar value. “What matters most isn't that you can set the price. It's the fact that you're setting the price in a public environment," he said.
Check out the rest of the interview here.
Co-founders of Superfly Kids, Holly Bartman and Justin Draplin, built a $2.4 million business by outfitting kids as superheroes.
In 2006, Holly Bartman was a stay-at-home mom preparing for her son Owen's fourth birthday party. The party was to have a super hero theme and Bartman was making capes as a giveaway gift. The capes were a huge success and one of Bartman’s friends suggested selling the capes for cash.
"I started with a few here and there, and then I would take that money and buy a little more fabric, sell those, and buy more fabric," Bartman says. "Pretty soon our bedroom was full of capes, and my husband said, 'Okay, you have to get out of the house with this!'"
In early 2009, Superfly Kids found a home in a tiny 200-square-foot space in an old winery building in Farmington, Michigan, where it began an epic tale of growth. With revenue just shy of $2.4 million in 2012, the company racked up a three-year growth rate of over 1,800 percent. The start-up, now based in Livonia, is one of the companies vying for a spot on the 2013 Inc. 5000. As applications arrive, we thought it would be worthwhile to shine a spotlight on some of these fast-growing private companies. (For more information and to apply, go here.)
It was at the old winery where Bartman met her partner in crime, Justin Draplin, who was another business owner renting space in the building. "I was rolling out fabric in our shared hallway, and Justin said, 'I think I can sell these better than you.'"
According to Draplin, in those early days, Bartman had her approach all wrong. "She was thinking about it as a hobby, where I approached it as a business from the start," he says. A serial entrepreneur who owned his own marketing company, Draplin gradually sold off his business and took over customer service, billing, and operations at Superfly. He did research on the potential market, figured out how to reach new customers, and helped Bartman balance her workload.
Superfly grew rapidly under the dynamic duo, selling capes, masks, and cuffs to Halloween, Christmas and birthday shoppers online. Eventually the business was selling about 1,500 items per day, with some big customers purchasing several thousand SKUs in a single order. The staff swelled to 17 and Draplin expects that number to skyrocket in 2013.
"We do superheroes! Superheroes are amazing and can do whatever they want--and they do it better than anyone else," Draplin says. "I guess that personifies how we think at Superfly."
Sherpas are famous for trekking to the summit of Mount Everest. But one entrepreneur says they have much to teach the business world.
Had it not been for Lee Nadler's fateful pro-bono marketing work for Outward Bound 15 years ago, his career path might have taken a completely different turn. The turning point came during a trek in the Annapurna foothills in Nepal.
The Sherpa Spirit
Nadler was introduced to the Sherpas, the native people who act as guides for people traversing the Himalayas. In the Sherpas Nadler saw qualities that inspired him. In fact, the experience was so transformative that last year he went back, this time to Mount Everest on a journey to its south base camp.
The trip involved trekking about 1,000 feet a day at an elevation of more than 18,000 feet. His goal: to learn more about the Sherpas whom he couldn't get out of his head, and figure out a way to incorporate their traits into his own life and look for them in the people around him.
On his blog The Sherpa Path, he writes:
In my desire for self-awareness and improvement as a business leader and person, I never lost touch with the spirit I found in Sherpas. And, I made note when collaborating with someone in the Western world who I believe has a special, Sherpa-like quality. Commitment to team. Sense of purpose. Positive energy. Calm during tense situations. Acceptance of mistakes. Perseverance. Selflessness. Compassion. Trustworthiness. And laser-like focus on achieving a goal. The principles by which Sherpas live and lead have become like guideposts for me.
At the time of his first visit to Nepal, he was the head of marketing for DoubleClick (which Google bought in 2008 for $3.1 billion). Since then, he built marketing agency Digital Pulp as CEO, and founded Sherpa Marketing, which he ran until last year. Currently Nadler is marketing communications manager for the automotive company MINI USA.
Sherpas in the Business World
As he's looked for examples of the Sherpa spirit in business, he's found a few entrepreneurs who emulate it well:
Danny Meyer. He's founder and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, which includes some of New York City's most prominent restaurants such as Union Square Café, Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park, Tabla, Blue Smoke, Jazz Standard, Shake Shack, and The Modern.
Nadler says Meyer is the epitome of service, because in addition to serving his customers he's all about serving his employees. "It's an interesting perspective," Nadler says. "It's like servant leadership where you're leading others but you're also serving them in a way [that] empower[s] them to do their best."
Maxine Clark. Empathy is her strong suit, Nadler says. As the founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop she has "...a real understanding of the desires and needs of her customers and sees them through their lens, even taking an approach of making sure that Build-a-Bear Workshop employees have almost a childlike aspect to them. They do simple things like greet their guests by getting down to their eye level, recognizing the child as being important and not talking down to them," he says.
Chip Foose. This hot rod designer and fabricator and star of the cable and satellite TV series Overhaulin' on Velocity has teamwork dialed in, Nadler says. Not only does he have an amazing ability to create automotive masterpieces that fuse output from his imagination with customer desires, "...what's fascinating if you watch the show is that within a very limited period of time he and his team members are able to make something happen time and time again. And each time there's some kind of challenge that requires flexibility and an adjustment and somehow they don't point fingers, they don't blame each other, they look to solve the problem and move forward."
Robert Hammond. It took more than 10 years (10 years, Nadler says with emphasis) to bring High Line Park, a 1.5-mile aerial greenway built on a former railroad line in the lower west side of Manhattan, to fruition. Hammond exhibits remarkable perseverance, an essential trait for success whether you're climbing a mountain or trying to get a business off the ground, Nadler says.
"He really didn't see [the project] as a struggle because he was focused with purpose," Nadler says. "I think a lot of us in our daily lives--given all the multitasking and technology--are living in the next moment or [dealing with] multiple stimulus at once. But to really ground yourself and be present and understand what you're trying to accomplish at that moment leads to a very focused approach."
Want to hear more about these entrepreneurs in their own words? Visit TheSherpaPath.com where Nadler has posted audio interviews with them.
At a certain point, ignore the naysayers and just act. That's what Sir Branson did--at age 15.
Long before Richard Branson launched a record company, a mobile-phone company, an airline, or any of the other 400 or so companies he has created, he was dropping out of school to start a magazine. Fortunately for Branson, he had an understanding father.
Like a lot of entrepreneurs, I had no interest in being a businessman. I was a young man and the Vietnam War was raging, a war I thought never should have been started. A lot of us young people felt very strongly it should be stopped. I thought that maybe by giving us a voice, I could help stop the war. So I set about launching a magazine for young people called Student.
Of course, I didn't have any money. So I worked out of my boarding school, ringing up Coca-Cola and Pepsi and National Westminster Bank, playing them off one another to buy advertising. I had no idea what I was doing, but somehow my enthusiasm managed to land me $6,000 worth of advertising, enough to print 50,000 copies. I wrote my headmaster a note that said, "I'm off! But thank you very much," and I left school to launch the magazine.
A few people tried to talk me out of it. My father was the first. He'd have been an irresponsible father if he hadn't. He drove up to the school to persuade me to continue my studies, and reluctantly, I agreed. He wanted me to be a lawyer, like him. But when he went home, my mother was not happy. She ordered him to turn around and tell me it was OK. On that second visit, he took me on a walk around the garden to lecture me on the perils of what I was doing. At the end, he said, "Look, you know what you want to do at 15; I didn't know what I wanted to do when I was 21. Give it a go, and if it doesn't work out, we'll try to get you a formal education again."
He was a wonderful father. Because, if you have a good idea, 99 percent of people will tell you why it's no good or how it's been done before or why else you're going to fall flat on your face. You've just got to say, "Screw it; just do it" and get on with it. If you fail, pick yourself up and try another one. If you have enough determination, you will succeed more likely than not because of all you learned those times you didn't.
Early funding: 300£ his mother got from selling a necklace she found on a train
Opened first Virgin record shop: 1971
Tickets prepurchased for Virgin Galactic space flights: About 550
Want to learn more from Sir Richard Branson? Join him and other seasoned entrepreneurs at GROWCO, Inc.’s Grow Your Company Conference on April 10-12, 2013 in New Orleans. Visit the conference site for more details.
There are a lot of myths surrounding the state of mind known as "happiness." Here's how you can break them down and start on your own path.
Two months ago a new client entered my office for her first coaching session. "All I want is to feel happy," she said. "I'm miserable and I focus on that misery all day long."
It seemed like a fairly simple request, so we went to work.
Week after week I witnessed the smile on my client's face becoming more consistent, more authentic. Soon she began talking about the laughter and pleasant activities that now fill her days. So I asked whether she thought that we had achieved her happiness goal. I was surprised when she said "no."
What I learned is that this vibrant woman believed that in order to characterize herself as happy she could never feel sad. To her, sadness and other unpleasant feelings are not allowed in the life of someone who defines themselves as a happy person. But that is not what the human experience is actually about.
Remember, life doles out the knocks. And if we don't allow a natural progression of the resulting unpleasant feelings we will never fully experience and embrace the joy in life. That's right; where there is black, there is white, it's just how nature works. There are two complementary forces that make up all aspects of life and we must allow and accept their balance.
This is the understanding that my client was missing.
And it begs the question: Happiness--what is it, really?
In simplest form, happiness is a state of being. Sure, our circumstances influence the level of happiness we can access, but happiness is within us, not around us. We all have it, but we each define it differently and have varying expectations of ourselves and our own abilities to be happy. And that is what causes the confusion.
It's perfectly OK to have moments or days of feeling bad, rather than good. Heck, it's necessary. When we resist the feelings that we categorize as unpleasant, it simply causes more resistance, leading to greater unhappiness. Let's debunk the happiness myth. These steps might just help you develop a healthy--and, dare I say, happy--life balance.
1. Build a solid foundation.
Martin Seligman is one of the leading researchers in positive psychology and author of Authentic Happiness. Seligman describes happiness as having three parts: pleasure, engagement, and meaning. Pleasure is the "feel good" part of happiness. Engagement refers to living a "good life" of work, family, friends, and hobbies. Meaning refers to using our strengths to contribute to a larger purpose. Seligman says that all three are important, but that of the three, engagement and meaning make the most difference to living a happy life.
Revisit your relationships. Are they satisfactory? Do you have a good support network in place? If not, work on building it up. When you hit a bump in the road having supportive people around you will make a world of difference.
Also, review how you contribute to a larger purpose. Focusing on something bigger than you are helps to keep things in perspective.
2. Set realistic expectations.
You are human. Forcing or faking happiness leads to misery and conflict. Even if you create your happiness foundation and achieve a state of general well-being, you will have your ups and downs. It's how you deal with those fluctuations that matters. Condemnation and negativity will jeopardize your state of balance. Get real. Eliminate the pressure and you will bounce back more quickly.
3. Allow your feelings, rather than resisting them.
There are days when you will wake up feeling unhappy. Whether you fully understand it or not, it's important to accept that this happens. Be patient with yourself. Don't complain, but do indulge in a little time to examine your feelings without criticism. Rather than, "I hate when I feel like this," try "It's interesting that I have these feelings." Be OK with it and examine the feelings for a little while if they merit your attention. If not, simply turn your focus to your larger purpose to prevent yourself from dwelling on something that isn't dwell-worthy.
4. Be ready for change.
Ups and downs are normal, but if you find yourself in what feels like a constant state of unhappiness it's important to listen to what your body and mind are telling you. Life has a funny way of tapping us on the shoulder when we need to create change. If you don't pay attention to the gentle tapping, you may be surprised by a less gentle reminder--or series of them. Either way, your subconscious mind will get your attention to suggest, or force, change. So make it easy on yourself and pay attention to the gentle tap. What is the cause of your unhappiness? Find someone who can help you sort through it, and embrace the change that lies ahead. You are on your way.
In a world full of wannabe entrepreneurs and leaders, don't try to be what you're not.
If you've been around long enough, you begin to realize that success is just as much about what you don't do as what you do. Any CEO, entrepreneur, or venture capitalist will tell you that lack of focus is one of their most insidious enemies.
It's always been true, but the temptation to try to do more or give in to distraction has never been greater than it is today.
Don't get me wrong. Some people do manage to find ways to capitalize on their natural tendency to get easily sidetracked. I should know. I'm one of them. Still, it's a constant battle that I fight to this day. No kidding.
In my experience, and I've worked with hundreds of successful executives and business leaders, there are certain things they simply don't do. I don't know if they're instinctive or cognitive, but I've noted seven things they rarely, if ever, do.
1. What everyone else is doing.
Quite the contrary, they tend to have a natural tendency to question conventional wisdom and challenge the status quo. Fads, cultural norms, groupthink, forget it. They don't worry about their personal brands, personal productivity, or social media.
That is, unless that's their competency, their passion, who they are. I'm sure Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey manage to update their Facebook and Twitter pages from time to time.
2. Worry about weaknesses.
Maybe they should. For all I know, maybe that's the difference between successful people and really successful people. All I know is, they're usually confident and comfortable with who they are. They're not plagued by the fear and self-doubt that derails so many people. They don't fixate on what they're not. They accept it.
Don't get me wrong. They are human. They have fear. But one of the key reasons why they're so successful at what they do is because it is their passion. They've found their true path. When they're doing what they love, they're comfortable with it, not fearful of it. And it shows in their work.
3. Waste a lot of time.
It's not that they're concerned with productivity or time management. They don't waste a lot of time because they have a vision--a mission. They truly want to spend their lives on whatever it is they love doing, so that's what they do. Period.
They don't indulge activities that so many people waste their lives on. They don't try to get inside other people's heads. They don't ask why things happen or why people do the things they do. That is, unless it's a problem they really want to solve.
They don't wish for things to be different. They make things different.
4. Try to be successful.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying they're not savvy business people. What I am saying is they're usually just trying to accomplish something. Then they're trying to accomplish another thing. Then another. Most successful people are driven to do, to accomplish, to win. It's one thing at a time. Success just comes with the territory.
5. Breathe their own fumes.
There is a downside to being too indoctrinated with your own vision. You can become blinded by it. That's what ultimately takes down lots of people who are initially successful but can't sustain it. They stop asking questions, succumb to their own status quo, stick with flawed ideas.
Highly accomplished people do not surround themselves with yes-men, give in to group think, or accept anything other than the genuine unfiltered truth. Sure, they might bite your head off at first. But that doesn't mean they're not listening. What can I say; that's how it is.
6. Fear competition.
They understand competition, know their competition, are comfortable with competition. They're generally confident in their abilities and courageous in the face of competitive battle.
That said, they're not fools. They're not sure they'll prevail. It's just that, the question doesn't usually enter their minds. They just do what they do best and give it all they've got. After the fact they may look back and see that they've won, but only briefly. By then, they're usually on to the next battle.
7. Try to be what they're not.
Not a single successful executive, VC, entrepreneur, or business owner that I've ever known has ever gotten to where he is by being something he's not. Not a single one. Anyone who tells you to focus on self-promotion instead of doing whatever it is you love to do just doesn't get it.
It sounds so simple, but this is the big takeaway that will set you apart. In a world full of wannabe entrepreneurs and leaders, where everyone's a CEO of their own little world, don't try to be what you're not. Just be you.
Yahoo's new policy requiring everyone to be in the office is an example of bad and backwards management thinking.
"Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo, and that starts with physically being together. Beginning in June, we're asking all employees with work-from-home arrangements to work in Yahoo offices. If this impacts you, your management has already been in touch with next steps."
Oh really? Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home? I'd like to see the statistics behind that. This is a memo from Yahoo HR Head, HR head Jackie Reses. Rest assured, though, HR doesn't have this kind of power. This must come from the top, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.
It sounds like a line that was pulled out of thin air in order to justify a policy that is reminiscent of 1977. Sure, back in those days, unless you were an outside sales person, it made sense that you'd place your behind in a cube every day. Mail was the only way to get documents from one person to another. It was absolutely impractical to have people work from home.
Likewise, if you're manufacturing widgets, it generally makes sense for the entire assembly line to be in one room. But, unless I'm mistaken, Yahoo is located in the present and doesn't make widgets.
Ironically, the same memo references Yahoo's multiple locations: "From Sunnyvale to Santa Monica, Bangalore to Beijing--I think we can all feel the energy and buzz in our offices." I'm shocked that they aren't making everyone relocate to Bangalore. If we want that "energy and buzz" that comes from working together, shouldn't we work together?
Just how does any company with more than one location succeed without that togetherness?
Huffington post Senior Columnist on Life/Work/Family, Lisa Belkin, wrote:
I had hope for Marissa Mayer. I'd thought that while she was breaking some barriers--becoming the youngest woman CEO ever lead a Fortune 500 company, and certainly the first to do it while pregnant--she might take on the challenge of breaking a number of others. That she'd use her platform and her power to make Yahoo an example of a modern family-friendly workplace...
... Rather than championing a blending of life and work, she is calling for an enforced and antiquated division. She is telling workers--many of whom were hired with the assurance that they could work remotely--that they'd best get their bottoms into their office chairs, or else.
I am a big fan of companies being able to determine their own destiny and their own policies. Marissa Mayer should be able to require every employee to be in the office every single day. She should be able to manage everyone by butt-in-seat time rather than by productivity. But she does so at her own peril.
In my experience, it's the insecure managers who need to know where their employees are every second of the day. Who cannot judge end products and differentiate between a good one and a great one, who instead have to define quality as quantity.This will be a huge blow to employee morale.
Even if an employee wasn't currently working from home, knowing that that is no longer an option will make them feel a little bit more disgruntled. A little less valued. And a whole heck of a lot less family friendly. Workers can spend an extraordinary amount of time commuting, especially in the California areas where Yahoo has offices. (I know nothing of Bangalore or Beijing, but I suspect commutes are no picnic there either.) Just allowing employees to skip the commute one or two days a week can be a tremendous boon.
Not everyone should work at home. There is some benefit to being able to speak with coworkers on a casual basis. But, it doesn't mean that there isn't some benefit to allowing people to work from home--either a few days a week or all the time.
Besides, there is this fabulous tool available called "the Internet" which allows your employees to share documents in real time, and something else called "cell phones" which allow your employee to be reached at the same number, whether she is in the office or at home. Perhaps Mayer hasn't heard of either of them yet. Which may explain why this new policy has been issued.
My prediction is that Mayer will experience enough backlash on this that the policy will be quietly set aside before it even fully implemented.
Optimism isn't always automatic. Sometimes you must create it for yourself.
Many people struggle to stay optimistic, especially in the workplace. After all, there are many reasons to be pessimistic: a difficult economy, global competition, a business ethos that seems to reward criminals and penalize truth-tellers.
Nevertheless, your ability to succeed depends heavily on your ability to remain optimistic. I'm not talking about seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. I'm talking about trusting your ability to cope, regardless of what life throws at you.
Pessimists don't just miss opportunities, they can't take advantage of opportunities that drop into their laps. They're so convinced that everything is awful that they can't figure out how to make things better.The True Source of Optimism
As I've pointed out before, everybody has rules that they use to interpret the meaning of events. Pessimists have rules that make it easy to be miserable and difficult to be happy. Optimists have rules that make it easy to be happy and difficult to be miserable.
Pessimists let just about anything--like getting caught in traffic--make them upset. Their "what makes me miserable" rules have a low threshold. As a result, they're constantly experiencing life in a way that makes them more pessimistic.
Pessimists also have "what makes me happy" rules that have a high threshold, such as "I'm happy when I get a brand new car." Since such events are uncommon, pessimists rarely have experiences that justify being optimistic about the future.
Optimists tend to have rules that do the exact opposite. Ask optimists what make them happy and you'll hear something like: "any day above ground is a good day" or "all it takes to make me happy is a smile."
Optimists also have rules that make it difficult to be miserable. Many can barely remember a time when they were consistently unhappy, and then it's because something unusually sad happened, like the death of a loved one.Create Rules That Make You Optimistic
In a previous post, I provided a simple method to create and instill a set of beliefs (i.e. rules) that make you happier. That method was taught me by my mother, who stayed optimistic even while confronted with breast cancer.
I was talking about my mother with a relative recently and it emerged from the conversation that I'd left out an important step. So I'm going to go over the method again, with a bit more detail:1. Write down your current rules.
Take out pen and paper (important: do not use your computer) and write out your current rules, using the following format:
- I'm unhappy when the following things happen: (list)
- I'm happy when the following things happen: (list)
Don't make a huge project out of it. Accuracy is less important than the "feel" of the rules. The rules that pop into your mind immediately are usually the most significant.2. Consider the results you're getting.
Step back for a moment and consider those rules as if you were reading what somebody else wrote. Do those rules create an attitude of pessimism or optimism? Do they make it easy to be miserable and difficult to be happy?
I can almost guarantee that's the case because, if that weren't true, you wouldn't be bothering with this exercise. The reason you've gotten this far is that there's a part of you that knows that your rules are bringing you more pain than pleasure.
Take a moment to consider why you believe those rules. In most cases, it's because you're afraid to be disappointed. You've set your expectations of life low so that you have an automatic excuse for failing.3. Create some better rules.
Now it's time to get creative. Get out a second piece of paper, take a few deep breaths, and then ask yourself:
- What day-to-day common events could make me feel happy?
- What unusual, uncommon events could make me miserable?
The wording of these questions is important. You're thinking about possibilities at this point (i.e. "could make me") not your current reality. List out as many things as you can for the first question. Keep the second list short; only really serious stuff.
When you've finished with your list, write down your "optimism" rules in the following format:
- I am happy when [event]
- I am miserable only when [event]
Once again, the wording is crucial.
At this point you should have two pieces of paper, in your own handwriting, one documenting your current "pessimistic" rules and the other documenting the "optimistic" rules you'd like to believe.4. Burn the old rules.
I fully realize that this sounds completely corny. Even so it works, and here's why.
You are a human being. For the past 125,000 years, one of the defining characteristics of being human has been the mastery of fire. Fire is part of every religion, from the actual worship of fire to the use of candles in churches.
The importance of fire is in your DNA, in other words, and by burning those old beliefs, you are reaching into the very depths of your subconscious and telling yourself that those beliefs are no longer real. They no longer count. The fire has made them into ashes.
Crumple the ashes into dust. You're done with that way of thinking.5. Post the new rules where you'll see them every day.
When you burned those old rules, you created a vacuum in your mind. Your mind wants to fill that vacuum and it will "glom onto" whatever it's exposed to on a daily basis.
Post your new rules beside your computer or on your bathroom mirror. Or both. Just be certain that you write out every copy of those rules in your own handwriting, so that your brain "knows" that they belong to you.
If you follow the above steps, you will inevitably become more optimistic. You'll be happier, healthier and much more likely to see the opportunities in life and work, rather than wallow in the challenges.
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Brendan Kennedy's private equity firm has a mission: cultivate start-ups with legitimate growth potential in the cannabis space. Impossible? Maybe not.
In early 2011, Brendan Kennedy left his post as the COO of SVB Analytics—taking his Yale MBA with him—to found Privateer Holdings, the first private equity firm devoted to cultivating start-ups in the cannabis space.
“I’ve worked in early stages of nascent industries with companies like LivingSocial, Groupon, and Tesla Motors, and the cannabis industry is the biggest opportunity I’ve ever seen,” Kennedy said. “I feel like Joseph Kennedy at the end of prohibition or Jeff Bezos talking about something called the Internet—it has the same feeling.”
The cannabis industry is already worth over $2 billion a year, according to Aaron Smith, the executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. And with adult use legalized in Washington and Colorado, provisions in 18 states—including the District of Columbia—that have legalized cannabis for medical use, and with the promise of further legalization in states like California, he said that is has the potential to grow to a $35 to $45 billion a year industry.
“The cannabis industry has traditionally been a business community full of activists, but we’re now seeing investors enter the space with real skin in the game,” Smith said.
You could consider Kennedy one of these serious players. Since launching the firm, he's made a major acquisition and has gathered capital from non-traditional sources—gearing up to fund ventures he thinks will define the industry.A True Cash Crop?
Because of long-standing negative associations with cannabis use, Kennedy said that his Seattle-based firm does not solicit capital from the typical sources like VC firms, endowments, and retirement funds. He explained that most of Privateer’s capital comes from high net worth individuals from all over the country.
In just the past three months, Privateer has received over 200 investor pitches from cannabis industry start-up hopefuls, according to Kennedy. They have also received resumes from over 150 Ivy League, blue chip MBAs asking for a job.
Privateer made its first acquisition 13 months ago when it purchased Leafly, a website that allows users to rate and review various medical marijuana strains.
It’s in the process of raising another $7 million of private equity with the intention of investing in testing labs and start-ups targeting industry infrastructure, a component that Kennedy said is currently underdeveloped. Kennedy did not offer specifics, but said he is also looking to fund "pioneering" growers and dispensaries.
However, he explained that Privateer is currently inundated with pitches from businesses articulating plans to become the Wal-Mart of marijuana—something he doesn't think will ever happen. He expects that the industry will eventually resemble something like the wine industry or the microbrewery beer market.
But before that can happen, Smith said that that two big legal hurdles need to be overcome. Presently, Treasury regulations make it difficult for banks to deal with cannabis-related companies, often forcing dispensaries to change banks several times a year. And IRS rules make it illegal for cannabis-related companies to deduct any of their business expenses.
“It’s all devastating and cruelly ironic policy because it doesn’t create problems that black market drug dealers have to put up with,” Smith said.
Although, he expects the Treasury and Congress to amended these policies within the next one to three years.
For the time being, the VC and private equity segment of the space is relatively unpopulated. An angel investment network called the ArcView Group has begun targeting the ancillary businesses in the industry, and an outfit called Cannabis Consulting Inc. has been around since early 2010.
Running a co-working space on the side allows some business owners to earn extra income, nurture their creativity and enjoy a supportive community.
Look around your office. Do you see any unoccupied desks or vacant rooms?
To you those empty spaces may represent a less than optimal lease or, more optimistically, room to grow. But some business owners look at unusued office real estate and see something very different-- a potential co-working space.
This small but growing group of entrepreneurs ais converting their excess office space into co-working spaces and becoming dual owners of both their original business and a shared workspace, earning cash, building community, and feeding their creativity in the process.The Coffee Shop Exile
Take web designer Sam Rosen as an example. As the owner of his own shop, Rosen could work anywhere, but it was pretty clear from the grumpy looks he got at coffee shops that not everywhere was thrilled to host him. Then on a trip to New York a friend recommended a Brooklyn co-working space. It was a revelation.
"There was fast internet and everyone was really nice and interesting. By the end of the day not only did we have a fantastic place to work, but we had a list of music shows to go to that night with an asterisk next to the ones that the guy could get us on the list. It was like being plugged into a little community," he says.
Back home in Chicago, Rosen looked at his company's newly acquired office space with fresh eyes. Empty desks need not be dust collectors; they could be a revenue stream. The Coop was born. Rosen's original intentions were mainly financial, but "it's been a huge, unexpected benefit for our business," he says. "When we started it, we thought we could make a little cash on the side. What we've been able to build in the end is relationships."
Besides being able to afford a far cooler office than his small firm would have been able to afford otherwise, "we've met fantastic people. Some that we've hired and others have hired us. It's actually brought a lot of work and talent to our company," he explains. Though these positives do come with a fair bit of administrative hassle.
But with developers in-house, Rosen's company has found a way to minimize the logistical burdens of running The Coop. "We built software that we call Desktime to handle the scheduling, the billing and a lot of the common headaches related to managing a space like this," he says, though he stresses that even with the best software solution, "you can't just put some desks in a room and expect that you're going to be able to build a co-working community. It demands more time and energy than just the physical space."The Passion Project
For other entrepreneurs, opening a co-working space is less about making money and friends, and more about nurturing the local entrepreneurial community. "I've always seen CO+HOOTS as a passion project," says Jenny Poon, a design agency owner who started co-working space CO+HOOTS on the side as "the starting point to shifting perceptions of Phoenix, bringing awareness to the fact that Phoenix is a safe place for entrepreneurs."
"I'm fortunate now to be able to be do what I love, surrounded by people who inspire me daily," she says, but starting the space also has its downsides and has taken a toll on her design business: "When you lead a co-working space you're fortunate to be in the thick of the entrepreneurial world, but that also means making sure you're doing your job as the connector. It's hard to be the connector while focusing on your own work at times."
How does she make it work? "Surround yourself with the people who follow the same values, setup systems to empower members to take the lead, and restructure your businesses to make sure they're both well supported," she advises other entrepreneurs thinking about undertaking something similar. "We've taken to systemizing some of our processes, creating manuals for training in new members, as well as finding the right task management software to keep everyone on track," she adds.The Portfolio
For architects and office design pros specifically, a co-working space can serve as a showcase. "My long-term goal was to have BLANKSPACES act as a live portfolio. With most private office clients, I'd have to get through red tape to tour a prospective client through the office. With BLANKSPACES, the space is ready to be toured at any time," explains Jerome Chang, owner of both Los Angeles co-working space BLANKSPACES and architecture firm CODAspaces.
"Also, the public visibility of BLANKSPACES gives great marketing for the architecture/design, which then potentially brings clients to CODA," he notes. But even if you're not in the design business, co-working can benefit small business owners by, essentially, broadening their portfolio—in the investing sense of the work. This can be especially useful in feast or famine service businesses, according to Chang.
"I'll continue to focus on both," he says. "This way, I have a baseline revenue to afford staff and the basics. For architecture and any other service businesses, it's always about getting the next project, and if you have a stable client, then you fear the day that client leaves." Co-working provides a steady income, reducing stress and allowing Chang to build his architecture business under less pressure.
If the rationale of Chang, Poon and Rosen seems compelling to you and you're thinking of following in their footsteps, check out the the Global Coworking Unconference Conference next month in Austin, where Poon will be speaking, for possible guidance and inspiration.
Could your empty desks be reimagined as a co-working space?
Sir Richard says there's one thing that can make a company exceptional. He practices it every day at Virgin. Do you at your company?
00:12 Eric Schurenberg: There are some well-known Richard Bransonisms that entrepreneurs probably have sketched on their... Or embossed on their pillows. "Screw it, let's do it". What does that mean?
00:26 Richard Branson: Well, it's a phrase that I've just used maybe far too many times [chuckle] as some of my fellow directors would think, which is basically, we'll be having a discussion about whether we should go into a new venture or not. And people would be going for all the figures and my intuition just said to me, "Well, screw it, let's do it." [chuckle] And let's not just mess around. We'll go... We'll carry on talking, we'll carry on talking forever. In the end, someone has just got to make the decision and cut through and just get on with it. And sometimes we fell flat on our faces, sometimes we succeeded. But I think having that approach is a hell of a lot more fun than just never making decisions. And I think so often, you get people who will talk and talk and talk, and never make decisions. And in the meantime, somebody else would have launched the business and succeeded.
01:31 Schurenberg: You talk a lot about a management technique that you practice called the "Walkabout" or in the US, "Managing by Walking Around." Tell me how that works?
01:40 Branson: Look, I think that in this day and age, I like to think I practiced it all my life, but I think in this day and age, it is very easy and to be out and about and not stuck behind the desk, and you're going to learn so much more. I mean if I'm on one of our airlines, I will make a point of getting out and talking to all our staff, and talking to as many of the customers as possible, and having a notebook in my back pocket, listening. And I think one of the key attributes to a good leader is listening, making sure that you write down the feedback that you get. And, very importantly, make sure you act on that feedback when you get back to base. An exceptional company is the one that gets all the little details right. And the people out on the front line, they know when things are not going right and they know when things need to be improved. And if you listen to them, you can soon improve all those nickly things, which turns an average company into an exceptional company.
Rechargeable battery packs for your smartphone or tablet.
As many people learned during Hurricane Sandy, a low-battery warning on your smartphone can be panic inducing when you're in a power outage or simply away from an outlet. Rechargeable battery packs can help by adding hours of juice. Here are three options to consider.
Solio Classic2 Battery Pack + Solar Charger
Powered by the sun
This 10.1-ounce solar battery can power any USB device. To power it up, spread out the panels and angle them toward the sun on a flat surface, preferably outdoors. During our test, it took about 10 hours to charge the Solio on a sunny patio in Southern California. The smartphone-size device fully charged an iPhone 4S in 1.5 hours and charged an iPad 4's battery from 20 percent to 40 percent in about 90 minutes. You can also charge the battery, which lasts for about 500 cycles, in roughly six hours using an included USB cable. Cost: $100
HyperJuice 2 External Battery
Powered by lithium-ion cells
This 1.5-pound external battery can simultaneously power a MacBook and any two USB devices, including tablets. The device, which measures 8 inches by 4.8 inches, contains military-grade lithium-ion cells that last for about 1,000 recharges. During our test, it added 15 hours of battery life to a MacBook and extended the iPad's battery for more than 24 hours. It took about four hours to juice up the battery, which can then fully recharge an iPhone up to 19 times. One caveat: To charge a MacBook, you must use Apple's MagSafe Airline Adapter, which costs $49. Cost: $300
Powered by hand crank
The 7-ounce Boost, which is roughly the size of a smartphone, has a turbine and retractable crank that you can turn to generate power. During our test, it took one minute of cranking, at roughly one turn a second, to create enough juice for 30 seconds of talk time on an iPhone 4S--enough for an emergency call. It would take about three hours of cranking to fully charge a phone. But you can also charge the Boost with an included USB cable and use it as a regular battery that fully powers most smartphones in about two and a half hours (sorry, no tablets). The device lasts for about 300 recharges. Cost: $60
When it comes to the 'art of the deal,' most of us hope we get what we deserve. The self-made wealthy ask for the most they can get.
INFOGRAPHIC DETAILS: The book Business Brilliant is based on an original study of 800 households during the first three months of 2009. Two groups were surveyed in a telephone-based interview process. The first group of "middle-class" respondents had a household income between $50,000 and $80,000 and a net worth less than $1 million. "Business Brilliant" survey respondents were all self-made (none had received more than $50,000 from their families). They had a net worth greater than $1 million and were categorized in three groups: $1 million to $10 million, $10 million to $30 million, and greater than $30 million.
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