BY KELLY BETHKE
Have an idea but don’t know where to start? Here’s a step-by-step guide.
This guide was originally published in The Creative Independent, a resource of interviews, wisdom, and how-to guides for creative people. Illustrations by Jeremy Nguyen.
Thinking about crafting a new business with concern for the larger systems at play–all while considering your personal bandwidth and well-being–can feel pretty daunting. For this reason, I work with individuals and teams in their early days to explore what forming a business can and will look like for them. For people who go to biz school, the steps to getting a business off the ground are laid out. For the rest, it can feel completely overwhelming, or worse, it can feel a little bit like selling out. The good news is that formalizing a business can actually be a highly creative–and even energizing–undertaking.
As a consultant specializing in business innovation and sustainability, I work with people every day who are looking to turn their work or ideas into a functioning business. Although they’re all smart and experienced in their particular field, most of them need help mapping out the process, making a business plan, and kicking it all into action. Over the years, my consulting work has revealed a pattern for the building blocks of a successful business. If you’re considering starting a new venture or taking your work to the next level, but feel unsure about the steps, I hope this guide will get you going.
The ideation phase
Step 1: Answer a few key questions
Step 2: Get all your ideas out with a mind map
Step 3: Make an empathy map
Creating a business plan
Step 1: Get clear on a few key points
[Photo: Tomooki Kengaku/courtesy Canoma] . By Katharine Schwab
The Go Today Shaire Salon in Tokyo was inspired by coworking and designed for freelance beauticians.
With the rise of the sharing economy and freelance workforce, coworking has become an ubiquitous feature of urban life. WeWork locations and its competitors dot the landscapes of big cities, where real estate is expensive and having a private office is often out of the question for freelance workers. As the idea of using shared space at a lower cost has made its way into other industries–there’s co-living and co-retailing–it’s also creating a new one: co-hair styling.
The latest incarnation of the coworking trend has popped up at a beauty salon in Tokyo called Go Today Shaire Salon, where stylists who are just starting their careers can rent booths and shampoo stations. Otherwise, newbies to the industry who want to work independently typically rent a chair in someone else’s salon, often working on the salon owner’s schedule and paying them a hefty chunk of their earnings. But the Shaire Salon gives them the freedom to book clients on their own time and is reportedly less expensive than renting from another salon. And for people looking to get their hair done, it’s easy to book appointments online. So far, there are 30 different stylists to choose from.
Designed by the Japanese design firm Canoma, the Shaire Salon’s space consists of 12 semi-private stations, each of which have names like “Empowerment” and “Freedom”–ostensibly to remind the stylists working there of what the coworking salon is providing them.”Through repeatedly examining the texture of our materials and the shape, color, and size of the elements we used, and by providing the space with these aspects, we have consciously designed this salon as a place that complements the advantageous characteristics of being a freelancer,” writes architect Shinsuke Yokoyama, who led the design.
Each booth’s walls are partially composed of wood, clear glass, and opaque glass, giving clients privacy while making the entire space feel more open. Their dimensions are based on Canoma’s observations of several male and female stylists working with their equipment. Beyond the styling booths, there are also six shampoo stations, several makeup stations, and a lounge for the stylists.
The Shaire Salon opened in Tokyo earlier this summer, and according to Frame magazine, sales are exceeding expectations. The salon plans to open more locations in Japan.
By Raj Vardhman
Electronic shopping was introduced back in 1979 when English inventor Michael Aldrich connected a modified TV to a transaction-processing computer via telephone line and opened the information systems for secure data transmission. This technology became the foundation on which the eCommerce as we know it was built.
Today, eCommerce is used on a daily basis and living without it seems just complicated and inconvenient. The new technologies and innovations are continuously changing and exponentially improving the user experience and safety which, on the other hand, results in staggering eCommerce growth.
In fact, by the end of 2018, the global eCommerce sales will reach approximately $2.8 trillion and in 2021 they will hit $4.5 trillion. With eCommerce evolving at a rapid pace, it can be hard to keep up with the latest trends. We keep a close eye on all things related to online sales and thought we’d share some 60 odd e-commerce stats and trends to get you ready for 2018/19.
By Lydia Dishman - 6 minute Read
Unsurprisingly, Americans aren’t the beneficiaries of generous paid leave, vacation, or unemployment policies.
The U.S. isn’t very competitive with other countries when it comes to taking care of its workers, according to a new report from Glassdoor.
Conducted in cooperation with London-based Llewellyn Consulting, the report, “Which Countries in Europe Offer Fairest Paid Leave and Unemployment Benefits?” shows a sharp divide between American workplace benefits and those offered in 14 European countries.
“In the U.S., workplace benefits like unemployment, maternity/paternity leave, and paid time off are part of the total compensation pie negotiated between employer and employee,” said Glassdoor’s chief economist Andrew Chamberlain in a statement. “In most cases, the responsibility to provide these necessary social benefits to workers falls to U.S. employers rather than the government.” This is in contrast to social policy across Europe, Chamberlain observed, which generally results in far more generous benefits than what is typical in the U.S.
With unemployment at historic lows, the general sentiment among workers is that they can find another, better job elsewhere, particularly among millennials, 44% of whom Deloitte found would leave their employers in the next two years. Benefits could make the difference between a talented employee staying or leaving to find a better package elsewhere.
A separate Glassdoor survey found that 79% of U.S. employees report they would prefer new or additional benefits instead of a pay raise, and more than half (57%) of people said benefits such as health insurance, paid vacation, paid sick days, and a retirement plan–some of which are mandated in European countries–are among their top considerations before accepting a job.
Using the United States as a benchmark, this study compared of benefits in six key areas:
It’s important to note that Glassdoor analyzed the U.S.’s parental leave policy as stipulated under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which also allows unpaid leave for reasons other than childbirth, such as caring for sick children, spouses, or elderly parents. This was reclassified as “general parental leave” rather than “maternity leave” or “paternity leave.”
There are differences from country to country based on government regulatory mandates, but those that ranked as the most generous are Denmark, France, and Spain, while the U.K., Switzerland, and Ireland are among the least generous. The U.S. brings up the rear in nine of the 12 areas ranked as well as an overall aggregate score of .03 for its benefits (or lack thereof). For comparison, Denmark scored a 7.8 and France came in second with a 7.2.
Paid parental leave is now a hot-button issue as businesses of all sizes are scrambling to offer what the U.S. government doesn’t. Under the FMLA, new parents (birth mothers, birth fathers, and new adoptive parents) are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave. Working mothers in the U.S. may take short-term disability benefits offered at the state level, such as in California and New Jersey.
Highlights from Glassdoor’s report:
Paid Holiday: Annual Leave And Public Holidays
Sick Pay And Leave
BY NITYANJALI THUMMALACHETTY4 MINUTE READ
Diversity and inclusion is a challenging topic to discuss—but that doesn’t mean that every discussion needs to leave someone agitated.
I’m a health tech entrepreneur who also does advisory work on diversity and inclusion. When I tell people about my second day job, they typically react in one of three ways: a dismissive eye roll, an apparent interest in what that means and what my job entails, or noticeable caution and skepticism.
I find the skeptics most intriguing. In my experience, they tend to be willing to engage in a discussion about diversity and inclusion–as long as it’s not confrontational. I can see why. Productive conversations do tend to involve hearing some things that might make a person uncomfortable, but there is a way to do this tactfully without rousing unnecessary anger. After all, you don’t want to put them off from engaging with you in the future.
So how can we approach conversations about diversity and inclusion in the workplace as a dialogue rather than confrontation? Here’s what I know for sure: It will not be an overnight process, but we can start to move in that direction by doing these three things.
1) Accept that no one has all the right answers yet (and that it’s okay to admit this)
2) Don’t aim to win arguments
3) Getting better requires a lot of practice
Nitya Thummalachetty is the CEO and cofounder of Fortuna HLTH, a healthcare cybersecurity company, based in New York City. She was named by the BBC as one of their 100 Women of 2017.
Leadership Lesson From Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs: Stop Worrying About Being Right, and Focus on This Instead
For leaders, an excess of self-confidence is something of an occupational hazard. Of course, we all prefer to be right about the decisions and judgments we make. But, any leader who feels the need to be right all the time is making a grave mistake.
What we as leaders really need to do is to create a system that gets things right most of the time--work that begins with surrounding ourselves with talented people who can keep the business pointed in the right direction.
Kim Scott illustrates this important distinction in her best-selling book Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity. Kim says she was having a conversation about Steve Jobs with Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel, and Grove remarked, "F-ing Steve always gets it right."
Kim replied, "Nobody's always right." But then Grove clarified: "I didn't say Steve IS always right. I said he always GETS it right. Like anyone, he is wrong all the time, but he insists--and not gently, either--that people tell him when he's wrong. So, he always gets it right in the end."
The best leaders want to be challenged and proven wrong by others, because that ensures that the best ideas will rise to the surface. Ray Dalio, author of Principles: Life and Work, refers to this concept as an "idea meritocracy." Organizations that recognize that the best ideas can originate from anywhere and anyone--regardless of role or position--empower people to challenge leadership and bring their best ideas to the table.
This is something that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos appears to know intrinsically. In an interview with CNBC, Bezos remarked that he is much less interested in promoting people who are smart than he is about filling his organization with people who are right most of the time. "I don't care how smart they are," he said. "I want to see a track record of hard decisions that ended up being right."
In other words, Bezos gives leadership opportunities to those with a track record of delivering the best results--even when the right move challenges Bezos' own point of view. Like Jobs, what is most important to Bezos is not that he be right, but that his team gets to the right answers.
These are two of the greatest business leaders of our generation, and both check their egos at the door. It's hard to argue with their results. Here are a few ways to follow their lead.
Highlight Other People's Ideas
Learn to Speak Last
Let Others Challenge You Publicly
Reward Outcomes Over Hard Work
Sometimes you need to go to your manager to get help solving a problem at work. And that's totally fine—your boss is there to help you, and working together to get out of a tricky situation will help you know how to tackle it down the line.
But sometimes, you're able to solve a problem all by yourself—and that's amazing! In that case, your boss never even has to know there was an issue in the first place, right?
Wrong. Talking to your manager about what happened, even when you don't need him or her to weigh in, shows that you're able to handle increasingly challenging things on your own—which could help out in your next performance review or when your name comes up for a promotion.
Whether you chat in person or shoot over a quick email, take these four steps to make sure your boss walks away informed and impressed.
1. Start With Why You're Sharing It
2. Give a Quick Rundown of the Situation
3. Explain What Worked—and What Didn't
4. End With Plans for Moving Forward
Problem solving is a skill that will get you far in your professional life, so you don't want to shy away from showing it off! Follow these steps, and you'll garner a reputation for being a master of tackling a challenge.
Richard Branson completely revamped Virgin Airlines by focusing on experience, providing pajamas for first-class passengers, for instance. Here's how you can create unique experiences too.
The tides of business are shifting again to a keen focus on the experience that someone has with your business. The experience means as much if not more than the product or service itself. Experience is what makes the brand, and it is what is shared by word of mouth. If you want people to talk about your business, you must be intentional about the experience that the customers have when buying and using your product or service -- even after the transaction. If you want fast growth, focus on the art of experience.
I watched Sir Richard Branson give a keynote at the 2018 Adobe Summit in Vegas, where he talked about the importance of experience and how to create it. I have been thinking about revamping the experience that my business of consulting and speaking has in every interaction with my clients. The best in the business are huge brands and that makes it harder to related to. However, I loved Branson's simple take on how to look at and improve experience that can be applied to every business.
Branson is quite famous for his marketing stunts like dressing in drag and jumping out of airplanes. Forget about these attention grabbing headlines and steal the idea of creating an experience with your brand.
The Virgin brand is deeply centered in creating an engaging experience.
Take Virgin Airlines for example. They started with one plane. All the other airlines had hundreds of planes, and in the 80s they were quite stuck in their level of service (or lack of service). Branson saw an opportunity in creating a different experience in every aspect of commercial airline travel.
"It required me to reimagine everything about the experience," he said. "From purchase, check in, inflight entertainment, food, and every tiny detail." Social media conversations have been talking for years about all of these aspects for Virgin Airlines.
One example of a unique experience is the pajamas you get when you fly first class on Virgin Airlines. John Mellor, VP of Business Development and Strategy at Adobe, shared with the crowd of more than 13,000 people how much the pajamas meant to him years ago. I got a chance to talk to John after Branson's keynote.
"When it comes to providing great customer experiences, Virgin is a brand that has always stood apart. With our Summit theme of 'Experience Makers,' Sir Richard Branson was a natural choice as a keynote speaker. Branson is an inspiration not just for entrepreneurs, but everyone in the world of business. His philosophy of doing good, giving back, and delighting people with unique experiences align perfectly with the values we emphasize at Adobe," Mellor said.
Here is how you master the art of experience according to Branson:
1. Listen deeply.
2. Identify actionable improvements.
3. Give your people the tools.
4. Continuously evolve.
Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe, shared his thoughts on experience during the opening message. "The fundamental truth and challenge for businesses today is that people buy experiences, not products." While I was at this event, I could see the attention to details on the small details that make it an example of a remarkable experience.
What Is the difference between Marketing, Advertising, and Branding? A simple analogy to help explain
By Peter Gasca - Entrepreneur, consultant, and author
CREDIT: Getty Images
In my work with entrepreneurs and business students, I often hear marketing strategies explained as "having social media," "having an online brand," or "advertising a lot."
These explanations make me cringe because, while they might be part of a plan, they grossly oversimplify the deeper and more complex concepts behind a truly effective marketing strategy.
In order to explain and help others understand marketing--namely the differences between marketing, advertising, and branding--I ask them to apply each of these concepts to themselves personally. When you do, this is what it would look like.
Marketing is how you see yourself.
Marketing is the image that you are trying to present to others. It starts with how you dress, the colors and patterns you choose, and how you groom. We all have a strategy for this--yes, everyone, including your unkempt second cousin who rarely showers and wears the same Star Wars shirt he's worn since college.
Even not having a strategy for your personal appearance is a strategy itself.
You choose your image to portray yourself as a business professional, a punk rocker, a tech nerd, etc., and by doing so, you are expressing to others through your appearance your character, lovable attributes, and in the end, the value you offer to others.
It isn't fun to admit that appearances are as important as they are, but let's be honest, first impressions are driven by appearance. Impressions can evolve and be molded later, but as we all know, they require time and effort to change, so we do our best to get it right up front.
For a business, a marketing strategy considers how you want others to perceive your company. It should convey the vision and values of the business and express these in a way that the public will recognize and associate with your company.
How you "dress" your company will determine how effectively your message and image will be accepted by consumers.
Advertising is how you act in public.
If marketing is how you see yourself, advertising describes your actions.
How you carry yourself, where you hang out, and what you say are just as important as how you look. All of this should be considered with your marketing strategy to assure that you have consistency between your image and your actions.
For instance, imagine that you wear a New England Patriots jersey and get a "I Heart Tom Brady" tattoo, but during the Super Bowl, you cheer for the Philadelphia Eagles and celebrate their victory. You will confound--and probably infuriate--all of your friends and likely be exiled from future Sunday game days.
Your business advertising strategy is the same. If you execute it in the wrong places, with the wrong message and tone, at the wrong times, or to the wrong audience, it will ultimately confuse consumers and could turn them away.
Branding is how others see you.
While marketing is how you want others to see you, branding is how they actually do.
Your marketing strategy should assess and consider your personal brand. If you have a strong brand, you can spend more time building on it. If you have reputation problems, however, you need to focus on rebuilding or changing perceptions.
As an example, if your professional network believes you to be a fraud or slacker, then it will require more than just dressing professionally and mastering your LinkedIn profile to change this perception.
Similarly, from a business standpoint, understanding how consumers perceive your business is crucial for how you decide to execute a marketing and advertising strategy.
Now, I understand I just oversimplified complex marketing concepts--exactly what I critiqued at the beginning. I find, however, that applying these concepts to ourselves creates an effective and simple way to explain how each concept can and should be applied to your business.
Thanks to John Hawthorne - www.mastersincommunications.org
Within the workplace, it's absolutely critical to be able to communicate clearly and effectively. No matter what business you are in, the ability to speak with precision is essential.
If you work in marketing, your ability to communicate clearly with clients and coworkers ensures you deliver the desired product. In a retail store, communication with employees and customers ensures a good customer experience. In construction, good communication will ensure worker safety and project completion to specifications. In medicine, communication about your treatment is literally a life or death situation.
Clearly, good communication in all fields is a vital element of good business and proper customer service; a necessity for a career in communications.
Of course, this raises the question: How can you improve your workplace communication skills?
We're going to break down the what, why, and how of effective workplace communication so that you achieve the best results.
Know Your Communication Types
Before you can improve your communication skills, you first need to know all the different things that make up workplace communication. There are probably numerous methods of communicating that you use constantly without giving them a second thought.
In our technological age, the most common form of workplace communication is email. While phone calls are still used on a frequent basis, email and other digital forms of communication (such as texts, tweets, and private messaging) are the primary methods of communication among business professionals.
Other types of digital communication that have revolutionized business are web-based meetings, video conferencing, shared online workspaces, crowd sourcing, podcasting, blogging, and community websites within and between companies.
It's important to note that type of interchange between you and a coworker, no matter what the medium, is workplace communication and should be treated appropriately.
The Critical Importance of Communication
If you think you can be effective in the workplace without having solid communication skills, you're sorely mistaken.
Effective communication is a vital tool for any business owner or employee. Your success at clearly articulating your message can be the difference between success and failure in any business opportunity.
You should be able to clearly explain company policies to customers and clients and answer their questions about your products or services. It is crucial to communicate effectively in negotiations to ensure you achieve your goals.
You need to know know which mediums appeal to which types of people. Some people grasp messages more easily when pictures and sounds are involved. Using presentations like PowerPoint to communicate with your clients or team will give them the opportunity to refer back to it if they aren't clear about certain things. Others prefer face to face meetings or chats over Slack.
Effective communication can help create a good working relationship between supervisors and staff, which can in turn improve morale and efficiency.
In fact, research has shown that effective communication leads to an improvement in overall company performance. It has also been discovered that employees who were graded as highest in production had received the most effective communication from their superiors.
Growing In Communication Skills
In order to have successful communication, everyone must have the basic communication skills necessary to understand others and to be understood. This may sound obvious, but consider how many people aren't taught basic communication skills and how it hurts them in the workplace.
You can often be distracted by your own thoughts, feelings and opinions and so tend to hear what you want to hear or what you expect to hear. You’re often thinking about your next move or what you should say next, or you’re trying to second guess where the other party might be leading you.
To listen effectively you need to suspend these internal thoughts and give your full attention to the speaker. Only then can you really hear what they’re saying.
Active listening also means paying attention to the speaker - both to verbal and non-verbal cues. For example, if you see them look down or appear uncomfortable in some way while saying "That’s all I can tell you at the moment," you might deduce that they are withholding information. This type of active listening alerts you to the opportunity for a well-constructed open or probing question, to gather the missing information. If you’re not listening actively, it can be easy to miss signs like these.
Do not let your attention wander. Important pieces of information can be missed if you are not alert and engaged. This can lead to misunderstandings later on, or possibly embarrassing situations where you appear to have forgotten something you have been told.
One way to help you concentrate during a business conversation is to ask the speaker questions. Not only will this help you to guide the conversation where you want it to go and at the pace you want, it can also ensure your mind is focused on the subject at hand.
Confirm what you have heard and ensure your understanding of the conversation. An easy way to do this is to clarify, paraphrase or summarize. Examples of summary question include
Be Confident and Clear
When you speak, be confident and serious to ensure that you will not be taken for granted. When listeners notice any uncertainty and lack of seriousness when you're communicating with them, they could treat the information with disdain or disregard.
Use confident body language as well. Your body language will pass your message faster and better. Use positive body language when communicating with colleagues. Stand/sit up straight, use smiles, handshakes, and eye contact.
Also, use words that can be easily understood. When ambiguous words are used, you can be misunderstood and/or waste precious time having to explain yourself. No one is impressed with someone who tries too hard to be impressive. Be yourself and use appropriate vocabulary.
Your inflection is just as important as the words themselves. One word can mean a different thing when said in a different tone of voice. Make sure you use the appropriate tone of voice to communicate your message to your team so that you won't be misunderstood. Misunderstandings in the workplace can and will negatively affect the work relationships that are critical to business success.
The Amazing Benefits Of Effective Communication
There are numerous benefits of effective communication in the workplace. Excellent workplace communication can increase employee job satisfaction. Why? Because Employees feel empowered if they are able to have upward communication.
This type of communication is when information flows upward in an organization and usually consists of feedback. If bosses or managers are able to listen to employees and respond, this leads to an increase in employee job satisfaction.
In addition, employees are also happy if there is intense downward communication, which is information flowing down from superiors or managers to direct reports. Workplace communication can also have a positive effect on absenteeism and turnover rates. When employees are treated with respect, given opportunities to provide feedback, and feel like their ideas are being listened to, they are much more likely to stay with the company.
On the other hand, consider what happens when communication is lacking. Misunderstandings result in sloppy work, hurt feelings, missed deadlines, and employees being let go. A company that doesn't prize communication is setting itself up for significant problems.
Avoid These Traps
If you're going to be an outstanding, effective communicator, you also need to be aware of the things that can stand in the way. There are multiple barriers to good communication in the workplace, and many times we're not aware of these issues.
First, heavy use of jargon, over-complicated, unfamiliar, and/or technical terms can lead to confusion, especially when dealing with clients. While these may be something an employee could understand, a client may not.
Second, there are various emotional barriers and taboos that some people may find difficult to discuss, and some topics may be completely ‘off-limits’ or taboo. Taboo or difficult topics may include, but are not limited to, politics, religion, disabilities (mental and physical), sexuality and sex, racism and any opinion that may be seen as unpopular. Be very, very careful when treading in these areas.
Third, showing a lack of interest, being distracted, or ignoring the receiver is bound to not only insult the speaker, but it can decimate any goodwill you may have with that person.
Fourth, beware of missing clues that would normally show up when speaking to someone face-to-face. Not being able to see the non-verbal cues, gestures, posture, and general body language can make communication less effective. Phone calls, text messages and other communication methods that rely on technology are often less effective than face-to-face communication. If you're communicating digitally, keep this in mind.
Finally, there can be significant language differences and cultural differences. These include difficulty in understanding unfamiliar accents, understanding the norms of social interaction in different cultures, and the way emotions are expressed. For example, the concept of personal space varies between cultures and between different social settings. Pay close attention to this as you interact with coworkers.
Be a Great Communicator
Will these suggestions turn you into the next great orator, inspiring millions through your powerful speeches? Probably not. But they can help you become a much more effective workplace communicator, which can pay huge dividends for your career.
You can't afford to ignore your communication skills. The presence or absence of them will directly affect those around you, including your clients, boss, and coworkers. The good news is, you can grow in being a better communicator.
Here's to clarity, persuasiveness and to becoming a great communicator.
Steve Jobs was the World's Greatest Salesman Because He Answered the One Question on Everyone's Mind
By Carmine Gallo Keynote speaker, communication adviser, and author
I'm looking at an intimidating 800-page binder as I write this article. It contains confidential information about a new product category. When I prepare the company's leaders to launch the product, I'll be thinking about a technique Steve Jobs and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin used brilliantly: Don't start with the product details; tell people why the product will change their life.
In any presentation, your listeners are asking themselves one question. It's the most important question for you to answer and the one question that matters most:
It may come as shock, but your customers don't care about your product, service, company, or idea. They care about themselves--their hopes, dreams, and quality of life. Tell them how your product will improve their life and you'll have their attention.
Steve Jobs once said that people don't want to know about computers; they want to know how computers will help them live better.
"You've got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology - not the other way around," Jobs said.
Steve Jobs explained the why before the how.
Jobs applied this concept to presentations by explaining the why before the how. For example, few people recall how much storage was built in to the original iPod (5 GB), but they can recall that it made it possible to carry a thousand songs in your pocket; "1,000 songs in your pocket" became one of the most iconic taglines in product history. But it started when Jobs asked a fundamental question--why should Apple's customers care about a new MP3 player?
In 2008, Jobs launched a notebook computer with these specs: a 13.3-inch LED backlit display, a full-size keyboard, 1.6GHz processor, and a unibody aluminum design. Those were the details, but the specs didn't sell the benefit of the product. When Jobs pitched the first MacBook Air, he simply said: "In a sentence, it's the world's thinnest notebook." In one sentence, Jobs explained the why (the benefit of the product) before expanding on the how (the details of how they managed to squeeze so much power into a thin computer).
The Google guys captivate an investor with one sentence.
"A great leader can strip down a complicated product to its essence," famed venture capitalist Michael Moritz once told me as he recalled the day two Stanford graduate students--Sergey Brin and Larry Page--pitched a company they called Google.
When Page and Brin walked into the offices of Sequoia Capital, they presented investor Moritz with a one-sentence summary of their product that was irresistible in its simplicity. In one sentence, it answered the question, Why should a customer care? The pitch went like this: "Google organizes the world's information and makes it accessible." It was clear and unmistakable. Once the investors were satisfied that the technology was capable of doing what the Google founders said it could do, they bought it. But they were hooked by the opening sentence.
How to create a pitch line.
Every time I'm asked to meet with senior leaders about a new product, I urge them to create a pitch line--one sentence that sells the benefit of the product, answering the question, why should I care? The answer should be short (140 characters) and free of jargon or buzzwords that take up space without answering the question.
For example, I once worked with executives at Toshiba America Medical Systems to help them launch a CT brain-scan machine. Here is how they first described it:
I told them it was too complex, abstract, and failed to answer the one question that matters most.
"Why should I care?" I asked over and over.
Finally, out of frustration, one of the leaders blurted out, "Look, Carmine, if you have a stroke and our product is in the hospital, doctors will be able to make a far more accurate diagnosis much faster than before. Our product could mean the difference between going home and living a full life or never recognizing your family again."
"Why didn't you just say so?" I responded. "I'm sold."
The presentation the leadership team went on to create for a major radiology conference won an award in the health care category that year. But it all started with asking the one question that matters most:
"Why should I care?"
Answer the question clearly, precisely and concisely. Sell the benefit to hook your audience.
BY JORY MACKAY—RESCUETIME - 5 MINUTE READ
When it comes to our daily schedule, most people fall into one of two camps:
The problem is that both of these are terrible. For their own reasons.
Being over-scheduled leaves us no time for ourselves. The more “in control” we are of our calendar, the less control we feel like we have over our lives. Not to mention we’re notoriously bad at knowing how long tasks take us to do. When your schedule is this jammed, even going 15 minutes over on your morning task will throw your whole day out of whack.
And the minimalist? Well, they’re just living in la la land, aren’t they? They’ve offloaded their schedule to some other format–most likely a to-do list, scheduling app, or series of angry emails asking “Where is this?”
A good daily schedule is a blueprint for a successful life. Knowing what we’re doing and when empowers us with a sense of purpose, meaning, and focus.
By looking at how successful founders, creatives, and deep thinkers craft their own daily schedules, we can learn the best ways to design our own perfect day.
Create “Time Bookends” For Your Day’s Most Important Work
The most successful people consistently get their most important work done first.
Whether by “swallowing a frog” (i.e. getting your most difficult task out of the way so the rest of the day is a breeze) or blocking time for personal or meaningful work before anything else.
What they don’t do, is start the day with distractions, emotional triggers, and stress (i.e. email, social media, and Slack).
Build recurring time into your daily schedule for your most important work before everything else. Not only are our energy levels naturally higher in the morning, but completing a meaningful task first thing has a domino effect that pushes you through the day.
There’s tons of great examples of this, but one of my favorites comes from founder and academic Kevin Taylor, who sets recurring daily, blocks for his mornings:
As Taylor explains:
“If you’re like most, you schedule what others demand of you first and only later look for empty slots in the calendar where you might ‘fit in’ what is important to you. (Good luck finding focus time in that type of ‘reactively-designed’ calendar.)
“Instead, flip the paradigm by scheduling what is important to you first.”
Setting a recurring commitment to yourself first thing in the morning sets your day off with the right intention and ensures that no matter what else happens, you’ve done something meaningful in your day.
Another great way to do this is to schedule RescueTime FocusTime sessions to automatically start in the morning. This way, you won’t be distracted by social media or other attention-seekers.
Start The Day With A “Full” Plate
Taking the weekly template idea even further, you can create a template for your entire day, not just the morning.
Now, this isn’t the same as the daily schedule of the overscheduler, whose day is filled with other people’s priorities. But rather a way to ensure you protect time to do all the things you want to do each day.
One example is what designer Jessica Hische calls her “Ultraschedule”:
This template is like a skeleton on which you build your week. For Hische, this meant keeping Monday as “Admin Day” for regular calls and meetings, while setting aside time on Wednesdays and Fridays for “Analog Work”:
“There are scheduled times during which I can be fully immersed in email and for the rest of the day I’m forcing myself to ignore it. Most of all, there are scheduled blocks of time where my wifi will be off.”
One of the best parts about this approach is that it helps you visualize your ideal work day–an important skill that few of us practice.
If how you picture yourself spending every day isn’t lining up with how you’re actually spending your time, then it might be time to step back and re-evaluate your priorities.
Set Your Availability To The Minimum You Can (10-15 minutes)
With your meaningful morning and daily skeleton schedule set, the next question is: How do you fit in the inevitable tasks, appointments, meetings, and responsibilities that creep up and throw your day out of whack?
An ideal schedule protects your time. So, putting processes in place that keep your time sacred are a good place to start.
For Facebook VP of Product, Fidji Simo, this means changing the default time for meetings to the minimum possible, as reported by First Round Review:
“Many people don’t check in to figure out how much time should be realistically allotted to something. They just default to 30 minutes for a small conversation and 60 minutes for a larger conversation. This contributes to calendars looking like Swiss cheese.”
Instead, Simo sets the minimum time for meetings at 10-15 minutes (Elon Musk famously breaks his entire day into 5 minute chunks), leaving the person booking to request more time if they feel they need it.
This makes both you and the meeting’s organizer responsible for deciding how much time they really need. (Which is a great place to start when fixing our obsession with meetings.)
Simo also recommends setting buffers around your meeting times, as well as setting aside intentional open slots into your day for last-minute surprises. This way, you’re not being naive about the distractions you’re bound to face.
“I’m most focused when I set my own agenda versus when I let others set my agenda,” she says.
Keep All Your Time Commitments In One Place
It might seem like a good idea to separate your personal and professional calendars, but this is just asking for trouble when commitments overlap.
Instead, bring all your commitments together on the same calendar so you know how much time you’re actually working with. You can use color coding to differentiate between activities if you’d like.
You can think of your calendar as a big empty jar. Each task you add–whether personal or professional–fills up space. And while you might assign different levels of importance to tasks, your calendar doesn’t. An hour is an hour no matter what you spend it on.
Your daily schedule keeps you honest. Set it up properly and you’ll have a clear view of what needs to be done and any scheduling conflicts that are going to cause you headaches.
Produced by WNYC.
When it comes to new hires, emotional intelligence is can be more important than experience.
When looking to hire new employees, people who can manage their emotions and read those of others might be better picks than people with impressive résumés.
"If I were faced with those two candidates, hands down I’d pick the one with emotional intelligence," said Annie McKee, a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education who wrote about emotional intelligence for the Harvard Business Review.
The reason, McKee explained, is that teaching people self-awareness, self management and empathy (qualities emotionally intelligent people have) is much harder than teaching business and organisational skills.
McKee shared some advice with Money Talking host Charlie Herman about how to hire emotionally intelligent people:
Extra tip: If you need to approach employees about their lack of EI, make sure to watch their behaviours carefully for a while so you have specific information to share. This kind of feedback can hurt, so it takes care and practice.
From our IT Partner NSN
GDPR – First steps.
Inform decision-makers on the impact of the GDPR and get consensus on importance and approach.
Conduct a data mapping exercise to fully understand your personal data use and processing. Ask the following questions:
Who is accountable for data streams within the organisation?
Understand the legal grounds on which you currently collect and use data.
Review your IT systems and procedures
Review staffing requirements for data protection compliance.
Consider appointing a Data Protection Officer (DPO), mandatory for some organisations but useful for all.
Focus on certified accountability of the organisation for data privacy.
Prioritise compliance activity and remedial measures on areas with highest risk and most significant impact.
Conduct Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIA) for new activities.
Review and strengthen technical and security measures specifically use of encryption techniques.
Prepare for data breach notifications.
Set up internal procedures/strategy for data breach identification.
Integrate privacy by design and default, collect the minimum amount of information and consider privacy from inception of the product, service or project.
Review and update privacy policies and notices
Special consideration should be given to privacy policies.
We understand that this is a lot to take on all at once so here is a mind map we created on our own GDPR journey here at NSN – we hope you find it helpful. For more information or guidance on your GDPR journey please contact me directly.
Contact our IT partners NSN on 0800 054 6200 or HERE
No matter what your individual definition of success may be, finding it can often be a challenge. Whether its career success, monetary success or something in between, most people have a certain level of accomplishment that they want to reach in their lives. However, many fail to reach that magical level of success and have no idea why. The good news is, there are a few things that every person can do differently to change their current course of action and find the success that they deserve.
Below are five:
In a Nutshell
Why do people talk crap?
Most people talk crap for purely self-serving purposes. They may lie to protect their image, for instance by denying that they have committed a violation of the law or broken a social rule. It’s also common for liars to engage in deception to protect something or someone they want or value, or to evade a punishment they would receive were someone else to discover the truth. You can think of this kind of talk as a suit of armour. A liar can hide behind it, and over time can even construct an entirely false persona.
Unfortunately, when lying works, someone is more likely to repeat the behaviour in the future. This drives a wedge between them and others, damaging their relationships. Lies can also hurt others directly.
For instance, when someone tries to offload the blame onto others or spread malicious gossip or fake news, relationships can be destroyed and reputations ruined overnight.
Luckily, once you understand how to detect crap, you can protect yourself against it
Disarm crap talk
You should actively expect others to talk nonsense from time to time, and accept that they are going to lie to you. When someone tells you something that doesn’t quite feel right, be sure to investigate further.
Questions—your best weapon against crap talk
When something doesn’t add up, ask the speaker a few probing questions. Questions such as “Why do you think that?” “Can you explain your reasoning here?” and “What is your evidence in support of that view?” push the other person to fabricate details, and they will eventually get caught out when their story doesn’t make sense. If someone tries to push a statistic or so-called “fact” on you, ask to see their sources. If they can’t send you a reliable link to a good source, chances are that they are misinformed or talking crap in order to advance their agenda.
Another sign that someone is talking crap is a reluctance to discuss the issue further, because they know that they will be exposed if you keep asking them questions. For example, if someone argues that redundancies in a company are “unavoidable” but then become evasive when asked to outline the decision-making process that resulted in this outcome, it’s likely that mistakes have been made and they are just covering up for their own incompetence.
Jargon is a big red flag
Sometimes, we have to use jargon in discussion. For instance, medical jargon will crop up in conversation among doctors and nurses. However, overly-complex words and needlessly elaborate jargon are often used to conceal lies or distort the truth. Don’t let anyone make you feel stupid. If you don’t understand something, keep asking clarifying questions until the speaker distills their message down to plain English. If they can’t or won’t do this, you should consider the possibility that they are trying to deceive you.
Get a third opinion if you can, preferably from someone with a background in the area. They will be able to tell you whether the jargon you have been hearing is just technical talk, or merely a vehicle for crap talk.
Here are two examples of how someone might use jargon to conceal what’s really going on:
“We are attempting to think outside the box and undergo and extensive company restructure that will facilitate the dynamic interpersonal collaboration of our two largest departments.”
In plain English, this means that the company is taking a new approach (“thinking outside the box”) by laying people off (“extensive company restructure”) and merging two departments together (“dynamic interpersonal collaboration”).
This kind of crap talk is used to confuse people and stop them asking questions that get to the real heart of the matter, i.e. the full story behind these changes and what it will mean for those whose jobs are on the line
If all else fails, give it time
Not only does time heal all wounds, but time tends to reveal all crap talk.
If someone tells a significant lie, it’s a matter of time before the truth comes out. For instance, a wife may deny that she is having an affair, but in the end she will likely get caught. To use a business context, a manager may maintain that everything is just fine in his team, but one day he will probably snap and tell the junior staff precisely what he thinks of them!
If someone is adamant that their view on an issue is correct, this should be verifiable via other sources. Depending on the situation, this might be mutual friends, colleagues, news sources, your personal experience, and scientific evidence. Don’t be afraid to confront the speaker with evidence that disproves their position if you can.
Cut the crap
The next time your gut instinct kicks in, pay close attention to what someone is saying and how they are saying it. If someone is speaking the truth, they won’t mind answering reasonable questions or explaining ideas in simple terms. Although it isn’t nice to think that most people lie at least occasionally, equipping yourself with the tools you need to spot lies will at least save you hassle at both work and home.
Karsten Strauss , FORBES STAFF
The ranking, which highlights the top 100 most reputable companies based on feedback collected from some 170,000 respondents familiar with them, is compiled annually by The Reputation Institute (RI), a reputation management consulting firm based in Boston that launched in 1997. Since its founding the firm has offered corporate clients strategies and insights into how they might gauge and improve their reputation among customers in various markets.
RI records companies’ scores using its proprietary RepTrak Pulse measurement system, tracking company perception in seven categories: products & services, innovation, workplace, governance, citizenship, leadership and performance. This latest ranking is based on surveys collected in Q1. See above for a slideshow of the top 15 and scroll to the end of this post for the full list of 100.
For the second year in a row, Rolex is perceived as the most reputable company on earth.
Why does perception matter to global companies? According to RI, reputation drives business. The higher the score a firm receives, the more likely its products are to be purchased or recommended. Respondents also said they would be more likely to say positive things about or even work for a given firm.
Rolex’s result this year marks the first time a top-ranked company has recorded an overall excellent score, or a score of over 80 points (Rolex scored 80.38). Respondents perceive the Geneva-based firm as having high-quality products that it stands behind that meet customers’ needs. Respondents also see the company as being well-organized and profitable.
Everyone is going crazy over Apple's new iPhone --- for better or for worse. Now, whether you like Apple or not, we can all agree that the price of the newly released iPhone is quite the shocker. That might turn off some customers, but I will make the bet that it's a smart move for the company. Why? A $1000 phone actually strengthens what their brand stands for: the highest quality brand, with the best customer experience.
This reputation is what helped Apple become the most profitable company in the world, and the first US company to hit $800 billion in market value, according to Bloomberg Technology. So, what can we learn from Apple?
Price is not the first thing most customers care about.
In fact, at my company we did a double blind marketing study and found that price (surprisingly) came in as the ninth most important factor when people were considering buying a garage door. Let me say that again: not the first, second, or third most important, but ninth.
So, stop obsessing over how you can slash your prices. Instead, create and price your products at a premium. Then, deliver an awesome customer experience. That is how you will become the Apple of your industry.
This two-step process will help you do just that:
1. Create a brand that is irreplaceable.
2. Create a killer customer experience.
A few final words
How much progress has the UK made since voting to leave the EU? What will be the next topic in negotiations? Will the UK experience a hard or a soft Brexit? How much will the divorce bill amount to? And will UK businesses be able to access the Single Market and Customs Union after 2019? There are plenty of questions surrounding the decision to leave the European Union, and more are likely to arise as negotiations continue.
If your business has a foreign exchange requirement, you will have no doubt noticed the extreme Pound exchange rate fluctuations since the initial Brexit referendum in June 2016 and had to navigate the market accordingly since. Your Guide to Brexit is designed to highlight the timescales of negotiations and developments, as well as offering up some key bits of information to give you some insight on how Brexit may affect you and your company.