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According to recent data, the percentage of VC rounds going to female-founded companies is up--but still low.
New research from PitchBook, a private equity and venture capital database service, showed a marked increase in the number of venture capital going to female founders so far this year.
Pulling from its database of venture capital deals, PitchBook found that companies with at least one female founder have secured a record 13 percent of U.S. VC rounds so far in 2013--after nearly 10 years of slow or no growth. By comparison, in 2004, women-led companies secured about 4 percent of rounds.
According to the study, a breakdown of industries showed that this year female-founded companies received about 40 percent of the venture capital in the retail industry and 33 percent in the consumer services space.
Women-led companies had the smallest representation amongst software companies--where they only secured 10 percent the VC rounds in the space, below the average across all industries.
There have been extensive discussions about why venture capital favors male-founded companies--the leading argument focuses on the fact that women are at the helm of fewer companies. According to The Center for Women’s Business Research, women own 28.2 percent of all businesses in the United States, which could be one factor contributing to the low percentage of VC rounds going to women.
Conversely, The Kauffman Foundation approached the topic from the supply side--identifying that the fewer number of female venture capitalists could be factor. According to the Kauffman Foundation’s Gatekeepers of Venture Growth: The Role and Participation of Women in the Venture Capital Industry, women represent less than 10 percent of the high level venture capitalists but 70 percent of female venture capitalists had closed deals with female-led companies.
Incompetent employees can hurt organizations, but incompetent leaders can do far worse - they can, and often do, destroy them.
I have little patience for employees who aren't cutting it. If you give them all the tools and training they need to do their jobs and, for whatever reason, they can't or won't perform at least adequately, you're better off cutting them loose. Sooner rather than later.
If you think that's cold, it's about to get even chillier around here, because I have even less patience for lousy bosses. The reason is simple. While an incompetent employee can hinder organizational effectiveness, an incompetent manager can destroy it.
And the higher you go up the corporate ladder, the worse it gets. A bad CEO can take down a whole company. It may take a while, but sooner or later, bad leadership infects the entire organization like a viral epidemic. I've seen it happen dozens of times, sometimes too close for comfort.
Over the years I've worked with hundreds, maybe thousands, of managers at every level. Many were brilliant, but on the flip side, many should have been fired. They fall into five types that, in my opinion, are simply not redeemable.
The psycho-bully. Some managers run their groups or companies like games for their own sick amusement. Okay, that's not entirely fair. The truth is that they're usually victims of their own dysfunctions, meaning they're not usually aware of being egotistical, controlling, narcissistic bullies who treat everyone like pawns and act out their childhood traumas on those unfortunate enough to end up in their sphere of influence.
The Teflon-coated boss. Some leaders have a way of ensuring that nothing ever sticks to them. It's like shooting darts at Jell-O--there's no way to pin them down. They usually surround themselves with yes-men who, like them, always have an excuse or someone else to blame for their poor performance.
The smartest guy in the room. Some people have all the answers. At least they think they do. They pride themselves on being special, on being untouchable, on possessing a unique ability to walk on water without getting wet. They never think of the downside to any risk; it will pay off because they will it to be so. If not, that's okay--it's always someone else's job or money.
The master of chaos. The word organize means to bring order to chaos, more or less. Like organisms, organizations are supposed to do the same thing. Sadly, some bosses have the opposite affect. They actually diminish organizational effectiveness by creating fear, uncertainty, divisiveness, and chaos wherever they go. In my experience, there are far too many entrepreneurs with no management experience in this category.
Meet Peter--Peter Principle. What can I say? Some people are just incompetent. Why don't they get weeded out before they get to the top? Good question. They primarily thrive in bureaucracies that fail to hold leaders accountable and reward the wrong kind of behavior. Also, incompetent leaders tend to hire those even less competent than they are. So there are plenty of breeding grounds for the next generation of Peter Principle bosses.
Those are the five types of bosses I would fire immediately. Did I miss any?
Becoming a good workplace coach makes walking a tightrope look easy. A few tips for finding balance.
Building trust in a coaching relationship is just the first step. Good coaches also put effort into finding the right coaching balance.
What do I mean by that? As a coach you have to set the right tone for your protégé. This means you have to be sensitive to a number of factors: How do your actions and intentions come across to your protégé? How do you project yourself toward your protégé? And how does your protégé project back to you? Your challenge is to achieve consistency among these perceptions.
Balance your coaching approach by keeping these rules in mind:
1. Cheering: Be encouraging, not inflating
Good coaches understand the importance of encouragement. You want to provide your protégé with a sense of momentum and a feeling of confidence. This is the “you-can-do-it spirit,” the slap on the back, the extra emotional boost. When your protégé faces a difficult moment, you want to be able to be there with the right note of support and encouragement.
Cheering, while helpful, also has to be appropriate. To the degree that your cheering is seen as a celebration of your protégé's accomplishments, it is always positive. But sometimes cheering becomes too aggressive, and it seems as if you're trying to get someone to go further than his or her capacity will allow. So be careful and make sure that you cheer in celebration. When you cheer to motivate, make sure you are not asking the protégé to exceed his or her capacity.
2. Sponsoring: Be supportive, but don't push
Good coaches understand that they need to be supportive of the efforts of their protégés, and to give guidance regarding avoiding organizational pitfalls. When coaching, you are often acting as a political sponsor. Your role is to assist your protégé in maneuvering successfully around the organizational terrain.
Coaches, however, must avoid becoming micro-political consiglieres who become overly involved with a protégé’s tactics and strategies.
As a coach, you understand that your protégé is responsible for his or her own activities. While you want to be supportive, you have to be careful not to push too far or too much.
3. Counseling: Be empathetic, but maintain boundaries
Good coaches know they are responsible for helping their protégés think about and analyze their interpersonal skills in the context of the situation and the people they are dealing with. If you sense that your protégé is rubbing others in the organization the wrong way, take him or her aside and suggest ideas to handle the various office personalities.
Good coaches understand how to see the world from the eyes of their protégés to better help them analyze tough situations. The more you stand in the shoes of the other, the more empathetic you can be, and the more help you can offer. But you still have to maintain boundaries. Good coaches understand that they can’t lose their voice in helping others. Letting your empathy overwhelm your boundaries will kill your objectivity and weaken you as a coach.
4. Balance educating: Be authoritative, but not authoritarian
Good coaches never lose sight of their role as educator. When you assist your protégé in acquiring skills, knowledge, and processes, you are taking on a classic mentoring role. Your objective is to share your expertise and experience with your protégé, so your protégé can better meet his or her personal goals.
Coaches inevitably must speak with some authority, but they must be careful not to be authoritarian. They must share and explain their ideas, but must not dictate and insist upon them. When authority figures act in an authoritarian manner, they lose the balance of a partnership. They lose the balance they need to be a solid coach.
Ultimately, the best coaching relationships are balanced. As a coach, you do not want to dominate your protégé. Rather, you should work toward being accessible and ready to listen and assist when called upon.
Three ways in which success can be bad for business.
"It would be difficult to overstate Toyota's role in shaping the modern approach to quality improvement," writes Robert Cole in MIT Sloan Management Review, citing methodologies used by the company that laid the operational groundwork for Japanese total quality control. "TQC, in turn, provided the basic building blocks for the Six Sigma methodology, which has been actively embraced by leading U.S. companies such as GE and Boeing."
Then, in 2009, it all came tumbling down. That year, Toyota recalled more than 7 million vehicles for problems ranging from sticky gas pedals to ill-fitting floor mats. More than a dozen separate Toyota recalls followed in 2010, when 36 percent of non-Toyota drivers said they considered the cars unsafe. What caused this massive quality meltdown at Toyota? Harvard Business School professors Francesca Gino and Gary Pisano have an idea: too much success.
"Toyota, which built its vaunted production system around vigorous learning, was much better at uncovering the causes of its problems than of its success," Francesco and Pisano write in Harvard Business Review. "This was revealed by its recent recalls, when its leaders admitted that their success in pursuing higher sales and market share had blinded them to the fact that operations had essentially compromised quality to achieve growth."
What the Toyota case study reveals, Francesco and Pisano argue, is a critical weakness shared by most successful leaders: failure to learn from success. Here are three reasons why they say doing well can be bad for business.
1. Fundamental attribution errors.
We assume that our talent or strategy is responsible for our successes, giving short shrift to environmental factors and luck. "Any number of factors may lead to success, independent of the quality of a product or management's decisions," Gino and Pisano note. "Yet it is all too common for executives to attribute the success of their organizations to their own insights and managerial skills and ignore or downplay random events or external factors outside their control."
2. Overconfidence bias.
Success begets hubris, and we all know where that can lead. "Overconfidence inspired by past successes can infect whole organizations, causing them to dismiss new innovations, dips in customer satisfaction, and increases in quality problems, and to make overly risky moves," the Harvard profs observe. "Consider all the companies that grew rapidly through acquisitions only to stumble badly after biting off one too many; and the countless banks that made ever-riskier loans in the past decade, sure of their ability to sort good borrowers from bad."
3. Failure-to-ask-why syndrome.
No one's asking the tough questions that transform a success into a replicable strategy. "When you're confronted with failure," Gino and Pisano explain, "it's natural to ask why disaster struck. Unfortunately, success does not trigger such soul-searching. Success is commonly interpreted as evidence not only that your existing strategy and practices work but also that you have all the knowledge and information you need."
Amidst the craziness of running a start-up, your internal compass can get knocked awry. How to make sure it returns to true north.
As the CEO of a mission-driven, socially-conscious firm, I’ll be the first to tell you that vision and values are crucial, but it takes more than big-picture thinking to make a company sustainable. The balancing act lies in how to run, grow and scale a profitable business without diluting your vision and values. How do you remain a genuine CEO and lead an authentic company?
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield started out, like all successful entrepreneurs, as dreamers. From their first homemade scoop shop run out of an old gas station in Vermont, they grew. Their company went public. They sold to Unilever. Debate ensued. Many patrons of this values-based brand, which had made a strong name for itself through its sustainability efforts, responsibly sourced ingredients, and anti-corporate corporate culture, saw selling as selling out. Yet the founders, who still sit on the Board of Directors today, acknowledged that they were also obligated to make the best possible decision for the company’s financial future and to maximize shareholder value.
But ethics and profits don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I set out to prove this is possible in finance when I founded Lexion Capital. Nonetheless, is there a risk that I could forget how important our work is? Of course. That’s true of any business leader. So, we build in practices, such as these, that guard against that risk.
Get back to basics--often
We constantly drill down to our company’s core ethics (our independence, our fiduciary responsibility, our client-centric approach). Every advisor works through the lens of the all-important question: Is this financial advice good enough for your mom? Create a structured system, such as a quarterly or even weekly meeting, where you convene specifically to reiterate core values and discuss how they are playing out in your current initiatives.
Bring your work to life
Don’t just talk about your core values. Write them down. Put them on posters -- everywhere. Having visual reminders reinforces the fact that these are not just words. They are guidelines, motivating and giving purpose to everything you do. In the early days of our company, I printed and framed the thank you letters from clients, words of praise from press features, and other good vibes about what we do. They served as tangible evidence of why it all matters. Especially in a field like finance, it’s vital to put faces and stories to numbers, because we don’t just work with money - we work with people’s lives and dreams. As a business owner, you have to connect your core values and the day-to-day in a way that helps them come alive for your team.
Even with a group of A-playing, mission-driven employees, business leaders must actively create a culture that always circles back to the company’s values. Otherwise, you may well end up as a well-marketed brand extension, in a massive global conglomerate, far away from the show factory and the milk co-ops of Vermont.
Don't wait for January 1 to roll around before you try to get your organizational habits in gear. Start now with these tips.
"The only thing you can never get more of as an entrepreneur is time."
That's what a mentor told me back when I was launching my start-up, and he was right.
As a wife, daughter, friend, and the founder and CEO of LearnVest, my schedule is anything but simple. But I learned early on how meticulously manage my time.
When I was younger, I used to play mind games in which I'd try to finish tasks in minutes. My favorite was when I would shower, lay out my school clothes, then devour my dinner--in 15 minutes flat.
Now of course, you don't have to play similar games--or scarf down your meals--to get a grip on your schedule. But you can adopt some of the habits I've learned in order to free up more time. Remember, as an entrepreneur time is the only asset you cannot get more of, so use it wisely--and keep some perspective.
Schedule meetings in 15-minute blocks.
Sound crazy? Try it--it works. I think of all my time as exisiting in 15-minute blocks. Most people think in terms of 30-minute chunks, but I've found that when I free up more time, I waste it. Of course, some tasks do require more time, so if a meeting needs to take 30 minutes, it will take 30 minutes. But otherwise, I try not to schedule meetings to last that long.
Upgrade your to-do list.
It's so easy to fall in the rut of letting your calendar or workweek dictate your priorities. So on Sunday evenings and Monday mornings, I ask myself, What's the most efficient thing I can do with my time? Most people lump everything into one schedule or list, but I take it one step further and clump my tasks into groups of three. For example, I'll list out the three most important things I need to accomplish at work, at home, and so on. From there, I can filter by impact so the critical things get done first.
Never meet on a Monday.
From 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Mondays, I don't have a single meeting scheduled. I just don't. When it's the start of the week, I'm clear-headed and ready to focus, so it's time to work. When it comes to productivity, people tend to focus on the low-hanging fruit, not the things that are highest priority. But that isn't a good use of your time. The task that takes seven hours might be brutal, but it might also be the most important to my company and the best use of my time. That's why I try to get these things done earlier in the week, say on a Monday or Wednesday. If something important comes up, I'll just move it to the beginning of the list and rejigger priorities.
Don't worship your calendar.
It's easy to say, "I've scheduled something, so I might as follow through with it," but it is OK to move things around when something important comes up. You have to defend your time. Sometimes that means outsourcing--I have my ace junior strategy associate do research or I enlist a TaskRabbit for weekend chores. And if there's something that needs to get done on the weekend but it isn't a great use of my time, I'll outsource that as well. On the flip side, I keep seven (yes, seven!) separate calendars to track all my schedules. There's an Alexa calendar, a LearnVest calendar, a PR calendar, and more. Each is color-coded, as I'm visually oriented, and every entry lists details that help me prepare for the meeting, from the location to the client to what time zone they're in.
When you're at work, it's about being present and getting as much done as humanly possible. When I'm LearnVest HQ, I'm not sending emails to friends, chatting, or checking Instagram. The Internet is designed to distract you, and the best way to avoid being distracted is by abstaining. I don’t shop online, and I don't get personal newsletters during the day. I consume my favorite media when I'm at home, or on Saturday. That's not to say I don't get inspiration from those things, but inspiration shouldn't happen mid-afternoon when I'm trying to execute on something for my company.
Do you have any time management tips you'd like to share? Let me know in the comments.
This dread affliction is very common but no one wants to discuss it.
Over the years, I have discovered a topic that is very close to being a third rail among entrepreneurs in open forums. Very few will admit to it or even talk about it. But it is a very different story in private.
Discreetly, a surprising number of entrepreneurs, even very successful ones, confess that they clearly remember their bouts with it. For many, it appears regularly and even becomes an undercurrent of their life. For others it is an intermittent visitor, unpredictable, and unwelcome.
It is entrepreneurial terror, an all-encompassing dread that comes from nowhere and throws its coils around you like a python ready to feed. The coils grow tighter and tighter suffocating you and sucking the life force out of you. You look into the abyss and there is nothing to prevent you from toppling headfirst into it. You scream soundlessly and no one can hear.
Many describe it as the most frightening experience they have ever had.
Take this fictional story about Dave, a composite I created based on conversations with dozens of entrepreneurs:
The day began to go wrong long before Dave reached his office. He had finished working out on the treadmill and was grabbing his car keys when Joe called on his cell. His three year old was running a fever so he would not be coming in to work. Joe was his tech-guy, the only person who understood the new CRM package on which they had just spent a king's ransom. More, their new product launch--a 'make or break' for the company--was scheduled for later in the week and 2 million emails needed to go out smoothly.
Joe was apologetic. He promised to work from home and fix the bugs they had identified but Dave felt queasy.
His night receptionist handed him a message when he reached his office. Bob wanted to speak with him immediately. Bob was his lead investor, the guy who had found the other investors for him and promised him that he would back him till the end of the quarter when the results of the product launch were in. If all went well, the company would be able to self-finance for the rest of the year.
Bob, like Joe, was apologetic. He had tried his best but his partners were not very happy with the results so far. He could no longer guarantee that he would be there for Dave as promised. But what about the new product launch, Dave sputtered.
Bob was sympathetic but he was not reassuring. He would do his best but Dave had better start working on a plan B.
Dave got another call from Joe that evening. His child was still sick. He was sorry but the strain was too great. He was quitting, effective immediately.
It took a long time for Dave to fall asleep and he woke up in a cold sweat at 3AM. Steel bands were clamped around his chest and he could barely breathe. Fear, stark uncontrollable fear, permeated every cell and flowed out through every pore. He felt his body stirring, moving involuntarily.
"What's up dear?" his wife mumbled sleepily.
"Nothing," he lied.
He found that he had curled up in the fetal position.
Again, Dave is fictional, but the entrepreneurial terror his story describes is all too real. It is a primordial feeling that overrides intellect and takes you over completely. It is generally triggered by an adverse event but can sometimes come from nowhere and as part of regular mood swings. It also differs from that of any individual who has faced a setback because the depth is greater--the very self seems about to disappear--and because entrepreneurs feel compelled to keep it to themselves like a deep, dark secret. Indeed, the recent Inc. article The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship found researchers report many entrepreneurs share innate character traits that make them more vulnerable to strong emotional states.
Entrepreneurial terror is debilitating in the extreme.
And most entrepreneurs have experienced some variation of this at some point in their careers. And quite a few have had multiple bouts with it.
In my next column I write about how to deal with this monster.
On the 12th anniversary of that tragic day, some of the Inc. 500's best and brightest reflect on how things have changed since.
Today marks the 12-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks. For many people throughout the country, the memories of that tragic day are still ever present. Here at the Inc. office in 7 World Trade Center, a bird's eye view of the 9/11 Memorial--which features the two WTC tower footprints--and the gleam of the Freedom Tower next door are constant reminders of what we lost that day--and, more importantly, what we have built since.
In the November 2001 issue of Inc., the editors wrote a letter to readers that said “the challenges we face are certainly enormous, but resilience is the hallmark of our business sector, our economy, and our nation.”
Here, in honor of the day, we asked some of these resilient entrepreneurs to recall their memories of that fateful day, how it affected business, and how they moved forward.
A new American pride
"I think there is renewed American pride...When something devastating happens to a community, there is a period where that community rallies around itself and supports itself through that hard time. September 11 did that. That idea of American pride starts to have a positive impact on American businesses in no uncertain terms. [The attacks] made the country turn inward since that time. Part of that turning inward is focusing on family. [My company] is a company that is focused on nourishing children. It's family first and you just have to appreciate those moments and focus on what matters.” --Neil Grimmer, CEO Plum Organics
Faith and seeing it through
"Right before 9/11, our company had just emerged from a significant restructuring due to the tech bubble burst. The timing of the attacks could have potentially choked-off our recovery and put an end to our business. All of these emotions were running through my mind-- both as an American and as a business owner. I was turning more and more to my faith in God to carry us through. The post-9/11 world initially had a very negative impact on our ability to grow our business. The uncertainty that came from the attacks resulted in a highly cautious and slow moving economic landscape. As the years passed, the increased focus on cyber security, and other areas of corporate data security and technology fueled our customer base of IT companies to expand their sales by using our services. We are prospering and tracking record growth at levels never seen prior to September 11, 2001," --David Balzen, CEO SalesStaff
“We have developed safety measures which include exit strategies and contingency plans to make sure the employees are taken care of in the event of an emergency. Whether it’s a cyber threat, an actual attack, or even a robbery, safety is a priority now more than ever. In this day and age, we have to be aware of our surroundings. I think it’s all about caring for others around you,”--Patrick Mish, CEO of M-Edge
“I was living in Costa Rica at the time and my co-workers ran up to me and asked if I had seen what had happened. I came back a couple weeks later. I flew into Dallas and was at the Dallas Fort Worth airport and you could just feel the tenseness in the air and the concern. America had changed. It was not the same country I had left a month earlier. That was by far the most dramatic change that I had ever seen the country go through,” --Joe Atkin, CEO Goal Zero
“As a New Yorker born and bred, it was devastating. Watching the horror will never leave my memory. It was numbing. I started my business in February of 2001 and pretty much got our first customer in May. With the economic downturn [that followed years after the attacks], tons of people were out of jobs and many people were starting their own businesses. They needed a tool like ours more than ever that was easy and cost effective. It wasn't a bad time to start a business that does what we do. Post 9/11, we've managed to continue to grow.” --Janine Popick, CEO of VerticalResponse
“I vividly recall September 11, 2001 as I was an Army Officer assigned to the National Capital Region (NCR) during that time. I was actually on my way to the Tampa airport on the morning of 9/11 returning from burying my mother in Florida when I heard the first plane struck the north tower of the WTC… I was with my wife and three young children, but I also was responsible for my entire Army staff in DC. When the second and third planes struck, I recognized it was an act of war and was overcome with a feeling of helplessness because I was separated from my Army team. Suddenly, burying my mother no longer seemed to be the thoughts that were consuming me. As a Service Disabled Veteran with more than 31 years of service, I stand amongst those who will never forget,” --Paul Trapp, CEO Federalconference.com
The co-founder of PayPal and Slide speaks out about innovation in Silicon Valley. And this time, he's hopeful.
Max Levchin has had a change of heart.
Two years ago, Max Levchin, the co-founder of PayPal, stood on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt--the same stage from which he spoke on Tuesday in San Francisco--and declared that the state of innovation in the United States was, well, pretty damn pathetic.
"Innovation in this country is somewhere between dire straits and dead," he told the audience in 2011. "Innovation ultimately ends up being about solving very hard problems. If you're trying to build one more wrinkle on the Angry Birds idea... you're not solving a very hard problem."
But in the last two years, things have changed. "Since then, I've seen many [innovative ideas]," including a start-up in stealth mode that's trying to cure cancer, Levchin said today at Disrupt. "I've funded a number, too. It's been revitalizing." He didn't mention any specific investments he's made, but he's recently backed companies including Zendrive, an app designed to improve the driving experience by crunching data, and SmartThings, a start-up that has developed kits to turn just about anything in your home into a sensor you can program.
Another reason for his change of heart? He's started his own company--one that he believes has the potential to completely shake up our national healthcare system.
Last month, Levchin raised $6 million to start Glow, an iOS app that theoretically helps women get pregnant. Glow is indeed a fairly ambitious concept. By inputting various data (from vitamin intake to temperature levels), Glow gives women "an estimate of their fertility window via a calendar and an indication of the "percent chance" of getting pregnant."
"Glow is really meant to help you conceive," he said today. "It is a living, breathing thing designed for two people who want to have a child... Glow is a profoundly important project."
When I spoke with Levchin for Inc.'s "Audacious Company" story earlier this year, I asked him how he defines a company that's tackling important problems.
"An audacious company is one that measures its success or failure by the number of people whose lives are improved as a result of its work," he told me. "It's all about the vision. Where is the company trying to go, and why? It's a pretty great way to consider whether you've spent your time wisely or not."
The message for founders? If you're feeling like the companies around you aren't tackling the big, hairy, problems you encounter in your life, the answer--as Levchin might say--is obvious. Go fix it yourself.
"Silicon Valley is all about meeting those 20-year-olds trying to change the world," he says.
Prominent entrepreneurs and investors imagine what a Bitcoin-powered future would look like--and what needs to happen to get there.
A panel of investors and entrepreneurs took the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt Tuesday to talk about the popular (and somewhat elusive) virtual currency Bitcoin. The panel, which included venture capitalists Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, AngelList's Naval Ravikant, entrepreneur Balaji Srinivasan, talked for a while about the potential of Bitcoin---and about the massive bumps in the road ahead.
First, to see the full potential of Bitcoin, Ravikant said you have to change the way you think of it. "Don't think of Bitcoin just as currency. It's really more like programmable money," he said.
The Hurdles Ahead
Ravikant, who said he invests in Bitcoin by buying it, was frank about one thing: When it comes to investing in Bitcoin, you have to have the stomach for the long haul, as nobody has any idea what "the adoption curve" will be.
"How long will it take for people to adopt it? That tipping point could be two, 20, or 200 years out," he added.
Another issue: regulatory hurdles. While Bitcoin isn't illegal, it isn't really legal either, and regulators are starting to take note--something the Winklevii know well.
In August, the New York Department of Financial Services announced a probe into Bitcoin merchants and issued subpoenas to the Winklevoss brothers, who reportedly own about 1 percent of the currency. The brothers also recently funded a start-up called BitInstant which reportedly facilitates the buying and selling of Bitcoin.
When asked about these issues, Cameron said what seems to be his go-to line: "We welcome healthy regulation."
Visions of a Bitcoin Future
Perhaps one of the more fascinating moments in the discussion was an example given by Srinivasan as to what a mainstream Bitcoin world might look like.
He asked the audience to imagine, for example, a future where Uber and Tesla have partnered to have a fleet of driverless cabs out on the road. If you wanted your car to pass the car in front of you, there could be a Bitcoin fee that you could pay, he explained, and added that this would all be seamless and automated.
Ravikant said he thought the future of Bitcoin's growth would be in some kind of exchange platform and the start-up ecosystem around Bitcoin. To date, there has been a noticeable uptick in Bitcoin entrepreneurs. Most of these new start-ups function as transaction hubs, similar to BitInstant. A new start-up called Lamassu Bitcoin Ventures has raised money to create Bitcoin ATM machines. In New York, there's even a Meetup group for Bitcoin entrepreneurs to share ideas, demos, etc.
"Whatever the future, it has to be easy enough for everyday people to use. It's still too hard right now," Ravikant said.
Who needs a paper weight? A marketing start-up called Pixyl found a clever way to thank employees for helping them make the Inc. 5000.
A digital marketing firm called Pyxl found an ingenious way to thank its young workers for making this year's Inc. 5000. The company was #1345 on the list.
Pyxl, which launched in 2008 with four employees, made $691,817 in revenue their first 12 months. Over the next three years, they added 16 more employees and grew by 299 percent. Today, the start-up is making $2.8 million in revenue and is the 19th fastest-growing company in Tennessee.
Since most of the staff are millennials, Winters and Pyxl president Josh Phillips knew they couldn't do just anything to show their gratitude. The solution? Sidewalk chalk art.
Winters and Phillips hired an artist to draw each employee's picture in chalk on sidewalks around their offices in Knoxville and Tempe, Arizona. They also wrote personal messages thanking them for their dedication and hard work.
"I don’t think millennials want the typical thing when it comes to big milestones in the workplace," said Pyxl's founder, Brian Phillips. "A paper weight after five years, which might be seen as an office recognition or milestone for some generations, can be seen as lazy or boring. For us, doing chalk art was a good way to pair the creativity of our business and to thank employees publicly."
And they appreciated it. Family and friends who saw the art sent the workers congratulatory messages, and the buzz, which quickly amassed over social media, garnered Pxyl new clients and employee applications.
Winter says he keeps the personal vibe going on throughout the year, as Pyxl offers happy hours, group trips, and "Congratulaka," a celebration in which workers receive a small, unique gift when they hit certain goals.
There were at least a couple surprises Tuesday at Apple's big iPhone unveil event.
Well, not all the news leaked before Apple's big event in California today.
Apple announced the iPhone 5S as the first 64-bit smartphone ever made and uses the new Apple A7 processor, which has over 1 billion transistors inside.
For business users, this means more bang for the buck (and size). The native iPhone apps were re-built for the new 64-bit operating system.
The best way to describe a 64-bit chip is that there is more "room" for the code to breathe--more "brain power" to speed up apps. It's a bit like having more lanes for traffic on the highway. A 64-bit processor makes apps feel snappier and more responsive, not struggling inside a limited amount of memory on the phone.
This means, the iPhone 5S is twice as fast as the previous chipset, according to Apple. The graphics performance is 56 times better than the previous generation, per Apple.
Of course, for the myriad of small companies that make mobile apps because of the low start-up costs and faster delivery cycle, there's a question about whether 64-bit app development will become more time-consuming or complex.
Apple says this is not the case, but to take advantage of the faster processor, existing apps will have to be ported to 64-bit.
Apple also announced the new M7 processor, which runs alongside the main processor inside the 5S. Essentially, it means the phone can sense the difference between activities like walking or driving a car. The Moto X already has the capability to sense when you are driving (as part of the Motorola Assist features), so this is another "me too" innovation.
The 5S also has a fingerprint reader called TouchID built into the Home button that can quickly unlock the phone. This is a major innovation in biometrics, mainly because it is easily accessible using the button we already use to access the phone. With the added security, business users can deploy the phone with a bit more assurance that a hacker will not break into the device.
In case you're wondering about how it all works, Apple assured everyone that the chip on the phone works directly with the sensor and unlocks the device--your fingerprint data is not sent to the cloud where it can be hacked (or unencrypted by the NSA).
The 5S will cost $199 for the 16GB version, $199 for the 32GB version, and $399 for the 64GB version--if you sign up for the two-year contract. It comes out September 20.
A second device, the iPhone 5C, is the expected budget model and comes in five colors like cyan and bright green. The unibody construction means the entire shell has no sealed edges, and inside there is steel reinforcement to make the phone solid and durable--not chintzy like some budget models.
The 5C does not use 802.11ac like the recently announced Moto X smartphone. That means, for business use, the 5C won't transfer files over Wi-Fi at Gigabit speeds (which requires an 802.11ac router). The 16GB model is $99 on contract and $199 on contract for the 32GB version.
Apple also dropped a reminder that the iOS 7 release is coming on September 18. The free download will work on existing iPhone models. For business users, there's a single swipe airplane mode and a pull down menu to access search. Siri now has either a female or male voice. There are new text tones and ringtones, some that sound like a techno band made them just for this operating system.
AirDrop, a peer-to-peer file transfer system that doesn't require you to have a degree in Bluetooth configuration, will also debut. And, one of the bigger announcements for business users: productivity apps like Keynote (for presentations), Numbers (for spreadsheets), and Pages (for writing and design) are now free.
I'll post a full review with detailed specs once I get my hands on both models.
Daniel Lubetzky works far too hard to fire people he's only just hired. Here's his five-step plan for cutting them loose.
In a recent interview with The New York Times, Daniel Lubetzky, CEO of the all-natural whole nut and fruit bar company, Kind, explained his philosphy behind firing people.
It's the boss' responsibility to make sure the employee is in the right role, he said, especially if you "took the time to hire them and to put them in that situation."
To that end, here are five ways Lubetzky deals with poor performers and displays kindness, even when he's showing employees the door.
Offer constructive criticism.
Lubetzky makes it a point to offer feedback long before a decision is made. Not only does this give the employee an opportunity to improve, but it helps the manager understand potential problems and where he or she may be falling short. "A lot of problems happen because the manager doesn’t address them, and then it’s too late," he told The Times.
Implement your 30-day plan.
If an employee's work still isn't up to par, the next step would be to implement a 30-day to 60-day performance improvement plan. This enables the manager to track the worker's productivity, her improvements, and problem areas. Be sure to set goals so you can hold the worker (and perhaps yourself) accountable and track what's working.
Restructure his role.
If the plan doesn't work, perhaps the role is to blame. "You should have done enough work during the hiring process to determine if the person has your values and your work ethic, but maybe the skill set is not aligned with their job," Lubetzky said. If that's the case, see if you can find them a different role.
Transition them out.
If all else has failed, it's time to find "an elegant way for them to transition out," Lubetzky said. As you decrease their workload, it may be fair to let them hunt for another job while they're gainly employed.
Leave security out of it.
Lubetzky never has security guards usher an employee out the office when they're terminated. In extreme circumstances that may be necessary, but mostly he finds it insulting and a relic of a bygone corporate era.
Leadership is about more than the person at the top. Here's how to get all of your employees to take on leadership roles.
Every organization needs a great leader charting the course--but you must have leaders within your company as well. Some of today’s most effective businesses encourage every one of their employees to take on leadership roles in their organizations. When employees throughout a business become leaders, decisions are made more quickly, customers are happier and tremendous amounts of time, energy and money can be saved. Here’s how.
1. Promote Teamwork Across Borders
Bust silo thinking by building cross-functional teams that cut across departmental boundaries to take full advantage of the ideas and expertise of all of your people. When you assign employees to these teams, encourage them to take on both formal and informal leadership roles, and reward them when they do it. This practice will also lead to improved communication throughout your organization, greater ability to capitalize on opportunities and better solutions to very difficult problems.
2. Be Generous With Information
Leaders, no matter what their position in the company, need a steady stream of information about your business, customers and markets to make good decisions. Instead of withholding information from your people, be free and transparent with it. This will give employees the information they need to confidently step into leadership roles as necessary, taking responsibility for achieving the goals of your organization.
3. Let Your Employees Make Decisions
Don’t just talk employee empowerment--really do employee empowerment. By giving employees at every level of your organization decision-making authority (including such things as determining what products will be designed and sold to customers, creating work schedules, hiring and firing), you will unleash a widespread desire on the part of employees to lead. Of course, not every employee will step up, but you may be surprised by how many do.
4. Be Passionate About Your Mission
Passion gives employees a compelling reason to undertake ambitious responsibilities and to step up to challenges as they occur. Create a strong sense of mission in your organization and ensure it is reflected in your company culture. Then seek out and hire people who resonate with and are excited by it, and provide ways for them to participate in this mission in any way they can.
5. Create Clear Roles
When employees are uncertain about what their roles are or what expectations you have for them, they are less likely to take the risk of stepping into positions of leadership. Creating clear roles is an essential precondition for employees who want to lead, so be sure to give them the firm footing they want and need by clearly spelling out their jobs and your expectations.
The most effective businesses today encourage every employee to take on leadership roles. Not only will this take some burden off of your shoulders, but your employees will happier, more engaged in your business and more effective.
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