A look back at early interviews with Facebook and Uber CEOs illustrates an ingenious way to communicate hard-to-describe products.
As a founder, I spend countless hours refining my elevator pitch and practising it every chance I got. I learned that ‘leading with the need’ is an extremely effective way to position your product, by showing how it solves an important problem for your customers.
It’s a shame that most customers don’t hear about my product from me. Like 50 percent of startup founders, I rely on word of mouth to promote my product. The catch is that my potential customers don’t hear my well-practiced elevator pitch. Worse still, those who’ve tried — and liked — the product don’t have a full 30 seconds to explain how the product works in detail to those who haven’t. I’m lucky if they take more than three seconds to describe it.
How customers talk about your product
Your product will only come up in conversations when it’s perceived as being relevant to that conversation.
Here’s a typical word-of-mouth scenario:
I wanted to know why some one-sentence descriptions sound like genius ideas while others flop. As I researched how successful founders presented their products before they were well-known, I discovered something interesting.
Viral products tend to have a ‘lead feature’
In this early interview, before Facebook’s IPO, Mark Zuckerberg describes Facebook as:
‘Something where you can type someone’s name and find out a bunch of information about them.’
In 2011, Travis Kalanick described Uber (at the 21:15 mark) as a mobile app where:
‘You push a button and in five minutes a Mercedes picks you up and takes you where you want to go.’
Simplifying the product to a straightforward input and desirable output creates the sense that it’s an ingenious idea.
Facebook and Uber have many features, yet Mark and Travis elevate a single feature above the others, making the product easy to understand, easy to remember, and, most importantly, easy to talk about.
How to identify your ‘lead feature’
A product’s features are often highly interconnected, making it hard to know which one to choose. I’ve found it helpful to think through the user experience chronologically. Find the first unique feature that’s highly desirable to the user, and describe it in terms of inputs and outputs.
If you choose a feature without a clear input, you risk confusing the user. Focusing on a feature that other products also have invites the terror-inducing question of, ‘Why is it different from X?’ For example, Facebook allows users to share photos with friends, but if Mark led with this feature, it would beg the question: ‘Why can’t I just use email?’
I’d argue that even the most complex SaaS platforms can be simplified with an illustrative lead feature. But what if your product is the exception?
In that case, it’s not a good idea to rely on word of mouth to grow your business. If you find it hard to describe your product, imagine how hard it will be for your customers. If this happens, a salesforce might be a more reliable channel.
Tactical or strategic?
It’s easy to mistake a one-line description as just another communications tactic. However, crafting this sentence is one of the most strategic decisions a founder can make. If you want your product to be shared by word of mouth, then you must accept that it will likely pass from person to person as a single sentence.
Figuring out this sentence can focus your product development on the inputs and outputs that really matter. Seize the opportunity to craft and test single sentences early — before you build something that’s too hard to describe.
Amazon was almost named "Cadabra," which is short for the magic term, "abracadabra." CEO Jeff Bezos started the company in 1995 by selling books. There are about 6,000 dogs that "work" at Amazon HQ in Seattle — they even have a dog park on site.
Watch the video above for more fun facts about Amazon.
David Dawkins Forbes Staff
Controversial “Golden Passport” (or visa) schemes are back under the spotlight as one leading London firm opens up on the “huge increase” in demand for its services.
Luke Hexter, managing director of Knightsbridge Capital Partners, told Forbes that their European Passport program was driving 70% year-on-year growth at the firm. This comes after Knightsbridge was embroiled in a Sunday Times and Channel Four investigation that found firms brokering U.K. investment visas and European passports for foreign billionaires and millionaires had boasted of being able to sidestep government checks and safeguards for their clients.
Knightsbridge currently sells passports from Cyprus, which would give a foreign investors and their families the right to travel visa-free to 163 countries, in return for a $2.2 million (€2 million) investment into local property or funds. The island has raked in $7.4 billion (€6.6 billion) from selling passports, but the scheme has also attracted the ire of the European Commision and OECD.
Economic growth and political instability in emerging markets created the demand for so-called Golden Passport investment programs, according to Hexter. “If you got a few billion–a lot of these clients will have citizenship in one country, passports in another and residency somewhere else as a way to mitigate risk,” says Hexter
“Nigeria is a prime example of a country where a lot of people are becoming very wealthy quite quickly. But with the political instability, they still love their country … they just still need to have a contingency plan in place,” he added. Nigeria is currently ranked by campaign group Transparency International as one of the world’s most corrupt countries with tens of billions from its oil fields looted by its political and military elite.
Hexter struck a defensive tone on whether the Golden Passport industry and his firm helped criminals to flee justice and hide their ill-gotten gains. The industry can “get a little bit of flack for pandering to certain unscrupulous high-net-worth individuals,” the accusation is, “as far away from the truth as can be possible.”
Knightsbridge Capital, he says, “wouldn't touch” what he describes as, “a politically exposed person or someone where there’s even a question that their wealth could have been obtained illegally.” He adds his firm’s client checks (KYC) are “stringent” and the EU’s due diligence are “very very strict.”
However, for those fighting global corruption, these citizen by investment schemes are not as benign as the London firms involved would have you believe.
Ben Cowdock, senior research officer at Transparency International, challenges whether British and European money laundering and background checks are effective in identifying corrupt business leaders and politicians.
The Sunday Times and Channel Four undercover investigation revealed how London’s private client professionals had talked of securing a so-called “golden visa” for a member of the former Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi’s family, alongside questionable applicants from Thailand, Egypt and Angola. One immigration specialist is filmed dismissing Home Office anti-corruption checks as “easy-peasy,” claiming that the officials responsible relied solely on Googling names.
Cowdock tells Forbes, “Our research has found all too often firms and professionals unwittingly or knowingly offering services to high-risk individuals, enabling them to launder both their money and reputations.”
More often than not, he adds, citizenship is being sought because those who benefit from political connections in unstable countries often need “to escape and enjoy the proceeds of their corruption should they find themselves out of favour.”
He adds that a British passport is still seen as a public “hallmark of credibility,” warning that the poor quality of checks carried out on those using these schemes allows them to invest funds from questionable origins in addition to “laundering their reputations”—making them appear more respectable and legitimate than they are in reality.
Moldova Says No
Late last week one of the Golden Passport sector’s biggest firms, Henley & Partners, saw one of their schemes, which gave investors visa-free access to across Europe’s Schengen Zone, suspended by the Moldovan government.
Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe and is locked outside the European Union, but its citizens have the right to visa-free travel across the trading bloc and beyond. The former Communist state was offering citizenship and a passport for just $112,000 (€100,000) to investors, but its recently elected government decided to review the program.
Dr. Juerg Steffen, CEO of Henley & Partners, released a statement arguing that they had “invested significant time and capital in Moldova” and still “believe that this investment will generate hundreds of millions of capital over time for the Moldovan economy that will enhance the lives of the Moldovan population.”
The shabbiness of the passport-for-cash business was showcased by a Dubai luxury property developer who in June was offering to bundle a Moldovan passport with every purchase of a luxury Europe-shaped artificial island.
To find out more and discover how this could benefit you email firstname.lastname@example.org
He said it jokingly after Sunday's Wimbledon final tennis match. But we should take it seriously.
It was an instant classic. Yesterday's men's final of the Wimbledon tennis tournament, between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, which was an epic five-hour, five-set marathon ultimately won in a tiebreaker by Djokovic.
What was also an instant classic for entrepreneurs, however, came from Federer's joking demeanor after the match when he was interviewed onscreen by BBC presenter and former Grand Slam champion Sue Barker. Barker complimented Federer for his performance in a final that we would "remember forever."
"I will try to forget."
First, very funny. (Five hours of magnificent, grueling tennis, and now he's a comedian, too?) Second, pay attention, entrepreneurs, because we should "try to forget" too.
Especially when we experience our version of a loss: a literal lost sale, for example, or a more figurative defeat emotionally or psychologically. They are all learning opportunities that, certainly, we wish had ended up differently.
The point is, put it behind us and move ahead. The idea is not a new one, either in leadership or in sports: Duke University head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski's "next play" philosophy is well-documented, for example, and icons from Oprah to Richard Branson have learned to "drop the rocks" they would have otherwise carried around, if they failed to process negative experiences properly.
This past week, I was commiserating with my son about experiences we have in common, where we both made a big mistake, had to manage the repercussions, and then figure out how to move on. His experience was less fresh than mine, so I asked him how he's handled it since it happened.
"I try not to think about it," he said, while also noticing the sting that the experience still delivers even well after the fact.
What my son's response has in common with Federer's response after yesterday's Wimbledon final is the "look ahead" mentality, but also a key word that they each said, which was that they try to forget, and they try not to think about it. This acknowledges the likelihood that, sure, a challenging experience is difficult to erase from your memory. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't try, or that it isn't healthy for us to try.
Here are three reasons to try to forget:
Thinking about past mistakes is the same as experiencing them.
Unprocessed emotions leave rocks in your head.
The only moment you have is now.
Whenever a boss acts like a dictator – shutting down, embarrassing, or firing anyone who dares to challenge the status quo – you’ve got a toxic workplace problem. And that’s not just because of the boss’ bad behavior, but because that behavior creates an environment in which everyone is scared, intimidated and often willing to throw their colleagues under the bus, just to stay on the good side of the such bosses.
A toxic company culture will erode an organization by paralyzing its workforce, diminishing its productivity and stifling creativity and innovation. Now more than ever business leaders need to be addressing issues of workplace toxicity. It makes the difference in retaining good staff and also whether your company fails or succeeds. Employees aren’t afraid to jump ship when faced with a toxic workplace—and it's usually your high performers who will go first.
The biggest concern for any organisation
should be when their most passionate people
10 Signs your workplace culture is Toxic
What’s the cure for a toxic work culture?
While toxic work cultures are the end result of many factors, it’s generally a combination of poor leadership and individuals who perpetuate the culture. It starts with those at the top. Leaders must show - Respect, Integrity, Authenticity, Appreciation, Empathy and Trust.
Toxicity in the workplace is costly. Unhappy or disengaged employees cost companies billions of dollars each year in lost revenues, settlements and other damages. Once you identify the major problems by gathering information. Develop a plan and follow through. It may mean training, moving or simply getting rid of bad bosses who are the root cause of toxicity in the work place. Show employees you care and are committed to improving their workplace environment. Your employees can be your greatest asset but it all depends on how you treat them.
Sadly, if you do not cure the cancer in the root of the tree, not only with the branches and leaves die; but so will the tree.
Body language can provide an amazing amount of information on what other people are thinking if you know what to look for. And who hasn’t wanted to read people’s minds at some point?
You already pick up on more body language cues than you’re consciously aware of. UCLA research has shown that only 7 percent of communication is based on the actual words we say. As for the rest, 38 percent comes from tone of voice, and the remaining 55 percent comes from body language. Learning how to become aware of and to interpret that 55 percent can give you a leg up in interpersonal communnication.
When you’re working hard and doing all you can to achieve your goals, anything that can give you an edge can be powerful in streamlining your path to success.
TalentSmart has tested more than a million people and found that the upper echelons of top performance are filled with people who are high in emotional intelligence (90 percent of top performers, to be exact). These people know the power that unspoken signals have in communication, and they monitor body language accordingly. Here are some key cues to be aware of.
Crossed arms and legs signal resistance to your ideas
Crossed arms and legs are physical barriers that suggest the other person is not open to what you’re saying. Even if they’re smiling and engaged in a pleasant conversation, their body language tells another story. Gerard I. Nierenberg and Henry H. Calero videotaped more than 2,000 negotiations for a book they wrote on reading body language, and not a single one ended in an agreement when one of the parties had their legs crossed while negotiating. Psychologically, crossed legs or arms signal that a person is mentally, emotionally and physically blocked off from what’s in front of them. It’s not intentional, which is why it’s so revealing.
Real smiles crinkle the eyes
When it comes to smiling, the mouth can lie but the eyes can’t. Genuine smiles reach the eyes, crinkling the skin to create crow’s feet around them. People often smile to hide what they’re really thinking and feeling, so the next time you want to know if someone’s smile is genuine, look for crinkles at the corners of their eyes. If they aren’t there, that smile could be hiding something.
Mirrored body language is a good thing
Have you ever been in a meeting with someone and noticed that every time you cross or uncross your legs, they do the same? Or perhaps they lean their head the same way as yours when you’re talking? That’s actually a good sign. Mirroring body language is something we do unconsciously when we feel a bond with the other person. It’s a sign that the conversation is going well and that the other party is receptive to your message. This knowledge can be especially useful when you’re negotiating because it shows you what the other person is really thinking about the deal.
Posture tells the story
Have you ever seen a person walk into a room, and immediately, you got the feeling they were in charge? That effect comes largely from body language and often includes an erect posture, gestures made with the palms facing down, and open and expansive gestures in general. The brain is hardwired to equate power with the amount of space people take up. Standing up straight with your shoulders back is a power position; it appears to maximize the amount of space you fill. Slouching, on the other hand, is the result of collapsing your form; it appears to take up less space and projects less power. Maintaining good posture commands respect and promotes engagement, whether you’re a leader or not.
Eyes that lie
Most of us probably grew up hearing, “Look me in the eye when you talk to me!” Our parents were operating under the assumption that it’s tough to hold someone’s gaze when you’re lying to them, and they were right to an extent. But that’s such common knowledge that people will often deliberately hold eye contact in an attempt to cover up the fact that they’re lying. The problem is that most of them overcompensate and hold eye contact to the point that it feels uncomfortable. On average, Americans hold eye contact for seven to ten seconds, longer when we’re listening than when we’re talking. If you’re talking with someone whose stare is making you squirm -- especially if they’re very still and unblinking -- something is up, and they might be lying to you.
Raised eyebrows signal discomfort
There are three main emotions that make your eyebrows go up: surprise, worry and fear. Try raising your eyebrows when you’re having a relaxed casual conversation with a friend. It’s hard to do, isn’t it? If somebody who is talking to you raises their eyebrows and the topic isn’t one that would logically cause surprise, worry or fear, there could very well be something else going on.
Exaggerated nodding signals anxiety about approval
When you’re telling someone something and they nod excessively, this means that they're likely worried about what you think of them or that you doubt their ability to follow your instructions.
According to listings on coinmarketcap.com, there are now six major cryptocurrencies that all claim to be Bitcoin, and more are in the works.
In addition to Bitcoin Cash (which, with over US$20 billion market capitalization, is arguably the biggest Bitcoin contender), Bitcoin Gold, Diamond, Private and Dark all somehow attempt to piggyback on Bitcoin’s stained but bright brand.
Defining what makes Bitcoin, or even what defines money, is tricky. While Bitcoin may be described as peer-to-peer electronic cash (with the emphasis either on peer-to-peer or on cash), this definition also applies to a wide range of cryptocurrencies, some of which relatively unrelated to Bitcoin.
When looking closer, it is easy to define desirable characteristics of Bitcoin, such as low fees, fast settlement times or the proof-of-work mechanism used to validate and generate Bitcoin. But, at the same time, these are not defining characteristics—not every cryptocurrency with low fees, 10-minute block time and an SHA-256 based mining algorithm is automatically Bitcoin.
How can we tell which is the real Bitcoin?
One thing we all seem to agree on is that Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin. Nakamoto minted the Genesis Block, meaning that whatever definition we want to come up with probably needs to include a reference to this block.
Origins in the Genesis does not make a definition much easier, though, as multiple chains might root back to this single block. The characteristic of “longest” or “most work” chain (a chain’s work is equal to the number of hashes it would take to replicate a chain of the same number of blocks and the same difficulty steps) might also not be very useful, as it would allow miners to unilaterally define what is Bitcoin unilaterally.
A more correct definition would include “valid most work chain,” but what rules are valid, and which are not? Surely the rules may change in the future, but under which conditions would an ‘upgraded’ Bitcoin be the ‘real’ Bitcoin? It is not possible to find a definition that works not only retroactively, but also proactively.
In reality, the only definition that we can come up with that adequately defines Bitcoin is a very unsatisfying one, but it closely fits into how people see and use money in general:
Anything, or at least any cryptocurrency, can theoretically be considered Bitcoin. In the same way, plenty of things might make for useful money—what we accept as money mainly depends on what everyone else considers money.
A good example of this is Testnet, an identical clone of Bitcoin’s code, and deployed as a separate cryptocurrency. The staggering detail about Testnet, though, is that it is entirely worthless. The worthless cryptocurrency is used by developers to test their products without the risk of losing money and mined by volunteers who give it away for free.
Similarly, whether what you own is the keys to Bitcoin or one of its imposters depends mainly on what the people around you consider to be Bitcoin. Already when using terms like ‘the real Bitcoin’ or ‘the original version of Bitcoin,’ you are subtly but importantly signalling that you might be referring to something else.
Conducting a market analysis is an essential process for anyone looking to start a successful business.
The market analysis portion of your business plan should communicate your profound knowledge of your particular market, and provide an explanation of why that market is enticing from a financial perspective.
What is a Market Analysis?
How to Perform a Market Analysis
Step #1: Determine Market Size
Step #2: Conduct Market Segmentation
Step #3: Define Your Target Market
Step #4: Define The Market Need
Step #5: Outline Barriers to Entry
By following the steps outlined above, you’ll be able to put together a comprehensive market analysis for your business plan.
Doing so will give you the familiarity and knowledge necessary for deciding whether or not to move forward with launching your business plan.
To learn about another vital component of any business plan, an effective executive summary, be sure to read this recent article.
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.