Strategies for Improving Workplace Behavior and Performance

From Leadership Expert Dr. Diane Hamilton

What Holds Us Back? 4 Things Holding Our Curiosity Hostage

We are often told to follow our passion.  Even if we determine our passion, some things hold us back from pursuing our natural sense of curiosity.  Curiosity has been called a sort of mental itch.  There are surprisingly few studies about curiosity because it is difficult to study.  Some people are more naturally curious than others. It can be important to have curiosity hardwired into us because it helps us grow and develop.  There are factors like stress, aging, drugs, genetics, etc. that could impact our level of curiosity.  Outside of medical issues or lack of financial capabilities, I have found four major things that hold people’s curiosity hostage including fear, the way things have always been done, parental/family/peer influence, and technology.

Continue reading “What Holds Us Back? 4 Things Holding Our Curiosity Hostage”

It Wasn’t Curiosity That Killed the Cat

Lack of curiosity is holding people back from having a better job and fulling life. Having taught more than 1000 business courses, I have seen the same issue with thousands of students. The success of those who lack curiosity pales in comparison to those who embrace it. Over the last decade, I have researched the importance of curiosity to improve performance. I have also learned how successful individuals value and develop curiosity through interviewing hundreds of guests on my show. That has led to my interest in doing further research for my forthcoming book about curiosity.

Continue reading “It Wasn’t Curiosity That Killed the Cat”

To Become a Highly Effective Leader: Reduce Fear by Developing Curiosity

It might be surprising, but many leaders fear being discovered for not being as smart as they appear.  Realistic or not, people often look to leaders as if they should know everything. This external pressure often leads to internal pressure.  Leaders fear criticism, failure, making hard decisions, taking responsibility, or being unable to reach an important goal.  Because of this, leaders often surround themselves with experts in areas with which they have less experience or knowledge, which can be a very crucial to their success.  However, this can also keep them from developing some of these skills on their own.  There are other things leaders can do to be truly effective, including developing their sense of curiosity in areas with which they might not normally be comfortable. Continue reading “To Become a Highly Effective Leader: Reduce Fear by Developing Curiosity”

Improving Workplace Conflict Requires Understanding Preferences

How do we know how others would like to be treated if we only look at things from our perspective?  Understanding personality and generational preferences is so important because we learn about opposing or differing perspectives.  To improve some of the key challenges in the workplace requires this understanding.  These challenges include poor soft skills, low emotional intelligence, lack of engagement, and a negative culture.  Many articles address how these problem stem from Boomer and Millennial conflict. Continue reading “Improving Workplace Conflict Requires Understanding Preferences”

5 Top TED Talks for Insight on Employee Engagement

Whenever Gallup’s research comes out, it highlights the low levels of employee engagement that continue to burden organizations and cause leaders to scramble to do something about it. If only 33% of the workers are engaged, there are real problems with productivity, turnover, and a host of other factors that cost organizations more than $605 billion a year. As everyone seeks new ways to improve engagement, it may be helpful to look at what we already have learned through some of the best TED Talks. The following five talks give some great insight into what do to improve employee engagement. Continue reading “5 Top TED Talks for Insight on Employee Engagement”

Has a Book Become the New Business Card?

With the advent of self-publishing, realizing the dream of writing a book has become a reality for more people.  Many guests on my nationally-syndicated radio show have been authors. I was fortunate to interview Sharon Lechter recently, and she brought up how a book has become the new business card.  Sharon, of course, is the co-author of the Rich Dad Poor Dad series and several best-selling books based on the recently re-energized Napoleon Hill Think and Grow Rich series.  Sharon is the ultimate example of a successful author.  Most authors do not have Napoleon Hill Foundation behind their work.  However, many have access to sites like Createspace and others to showcase their writing skills. Continue reading “Has a Book Become the New Business Card?”

One Key Word That Impacts Intelligence, Engagement, Sales, Soft Skills, Gamification, and Millennials

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There is an emotional component behind most of the things that will make or break employees’ and leaders’ success.  When someone first hears the word emotion, it may suggest emotional intelligence.  Developing emotional intelligence is one important factor that has been demonstrated to lead to success.  However, that is just part of the picture. Continue reading “One Key Word That Impacts Intelligence, Engagement, Sales, Soft Skills, Gamification, and Millennials”

How to Develop Top Soft Skills Not Learned at School or Work

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Job listings often describe the skills needed to perform in a position. However, many of the skills required for success fall under the category of soft skills.  Many employees may be hired for their knowledge and yet may end up being fired for their behavior or lack of social skills.  Forbes reported that 46% of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months.  Mitchell Communications Group found that companies lose $37 billion a year in the United States due to miscommunication.  Research from Adecco Staffing considered what the C-suite thinks about the type of skills employees lack. They found that the C-suite believed 44% lacked soft skills including communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration.  This has led to missed growth opportunity, low productivity, and reduced profits. Continue reading “How to Develop Top Soft Skills Not Learned at School or Work”

Managing Millennials Requires Understanding Their Values

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Millennials are one of the most misunderstood generations, which has led to frustration in the workplace.  With so many generations working together, it is not unusual that there would be some conflict. The biggest issues have revolved around the clash between Boomers and Millennials.  With varying views on political and leadership issues, as well as differences in the frequency at which they embrace technology, conflict management has become a top concern for many leaders.  Part of learning to manage this unique generation includes understanding and embracing their values. Continue reading “Managing Millennials Requires Understanding Their Values”

The Cost of Low Engagement and How to Improve It

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Many people misunderstand the meaning of engagement. It is important to note that engagement does not mean satisfaction. Engagement refers to an emotional commitment to an organization and its goals.  Engagement, generational conflict, emotional intelligence, and other communication issues are some of the most requested speech topics by organizations. This is not surprising because 60-80% of all difficulties in organizations stem from relationship-based issues.  Numerous studies have demonstrated a correlation between engagement and performance.  Leaders with high levels of engagement also were more transformational, had higher levels of interpersonal skills, and had a better sense of well-being. Continue reading “The Cost of Low Engagement and How to Improve It”

Soft Skills: Critical to Employee Success

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Attend any leadership conference, and someone likely will bring up startling statistics regarding how employees and leaders lack something they refer to as soft skills. This term is used to describe many qualities that include interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and other personality-based issues. The problem that many organizations have experienced is that people are hired for their hard skills, or in other words, for what they know (knowledge). Then later, are often fired for their lack of soft skills, or what they do (behaviors). If employers recognize the importance of soft skills, they can avoid costly hiring and training mistakes, improve turnover, and boost productivity. Continue reading “Soft Skills: Critical to Employee Success”

Entrepreneur Startup Terminology

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Entrepreneurs have created their own vocabulary.  The Wall Street Journal recently posted some important terms that every startup professional should know: Continue reading “Entrepreneur Startup Terminology”

Stop the Madness with Top Classroom Management Techniques

I have worked with educators in schools and universities across the United States since 2006.  My experience includes teaching, speaking, mentoring, training, program review, and curriculum design.  My goal is to help educators succeed and make a difference in the lives of students.  As a successful educator, coach, national trainer, and speaker, I promise to motivate and inspire educators through my on-site school training and district keynotes.  I share practical, proven strategies for immediate use in classrooms. Continue reading “Stop the Madness with Top Classroom Management Techniques”

Expert Speaker and Trainer, Dr. Diane Hamilton, Available for Corporate Events

I have updated my speaker and training bio. Please click on the picture below to watch the video. To contact me for an event, please go to http://www.speakermatch.com/profile/drdianehamilton/

Entrepreneurs: Help for Getting Started

I had to opportunity to interview Martin “Marty” Zwilling this week.  Marty has an impressive background.  He is a former executive with IBM.  He has served on multiple advisory boards.  He currently works as an author and consultant.  His company, Startup Professionals, is dedicated to helping new entrepreneurs succeed.  He gave some great insight regarding some of the toughest issues facing new entrepreneurs. The following is our six-part interview. Click on the link below the picture.  Scroll to next video with the arrow at the bottom after watching each one. Continue reading “Entrepreneurs: Help for Getting Started”

Entrepreneurs and Celebrities Use Kickstarter for Funding

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Kickstarter has been a successful crowdfunding option for potential entrepreneurs to garner cash.  However it has not been without some issues.  According to The Wall Street Journal article The Trouble With Kickstarter, “The only thing worse than having to watch your friend’s arty movie is having to pay for it too.” Aside from the problems associated with pestering friends to donate, there have been some successful ventures thanks to this site.  The following list contains some of names of celebrities who have used the site:

Continue reading “Entrepreneurs and Celebrities Use Kickstarter for Funding”

Facebook Better for Following Blogs than RSS

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Facebook has made it so much easier to follow just about anything.  RSS feeds and Twitter are still an option for many people. However, with Facebook, once someone “likes” a page, it shows up in their feed on their homepage whenever anything from that page is updated.  Unlike Twitter and RSS feeds, on Facebook, it is easier to see pictures and information.

It is simple to create a Facebook page that includes links to blogs like this one.  What I think is great about a Facebook page is that I can incorporate links to this blog, to my other blogs, and any other sites.  It is an all-in-one spot to access information. To see my Facebook page, click here.

Continue reading “Facebook Better for Following Blogs than RSS”

A Professor’s Top 15 Book Recommendations

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One of the hardest things I had to do when I moved was to get rid of some of my books.  My house was starting to look like a Barnes & Noble.  I kept the textbooks I use for my courses and a few others that I found especially useful or interesting.  The following list is in no particular order.  It contains some of my favorite books that I kept. I often recommend them to my students:

  1. Emotional Intelligence: Why it can Matter More than IQ by Daniel Goleman  – Goleman is one of the main thought-leaders in emotional intelligence.  This book is easy to read and explains the importance of emotional intelligence.
  2. The Happiness Advantage:  The Seven Principles of  Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by  Shaw Achor – This book included some interesting information about how to be happy.  I liked the author’s style.  It is entertaining and interesting.
  3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.  This book is required reading in many courses.  Although some students hesitate to pick up “self-help” books, this one is a classic for good reasons.
  4. Emotional Intelligence in Action by Marcia Hughes, Bonita Patterson, James Terrell, and Reuven Bar-On.  This book is a helpful tool to develop emotional intelligence in teams.
  5. The Pig That Wants to be Eaten:  100 Experiments for the Armchair Philosopher by Julian Baggini.  This strange little book was required reading for a course I taught about foresight.  My technology students love it.  It is filled with short stories. It is not for everyone. However, it is a book that will make you think.
  6. Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice by Howard Gardner. Gardner’s work in multiple intelligences is an important foundation for anyone studying personality assessments.
  7. The Effective Executive:  The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done by Peter Drucker. Drucker’s book is often required in management and leadership courses.
  8. The Bugaboo Review:  A Lighthearted Guide to Exterminating Confusion about Words, Spelling and Grammar by Sue Sommer.  This is a fun book to teach spelling and grammar.
  9. Between You and I: A Little Book of Bad English by James Cochrane.  This is helpful book to teach grammar.
  10. Eats, Shoots, & Leaves:  The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss.  This is another fun book to explain the importance of punctuation.
  11. It’s Not You It’s Your Personality:  Skills to Survive and Thrive in the Modern Workplace by Diane Hamilton and Toni Rothpletz.  This is a book written by my daughter and me.  It explains all of the top personality assessments and helps readers understand how to get along with other people at work.
  12. The Elements of Style by William Strunk.  This is a classic book on  how to write correctly. Most authors keep a copy of this.
  13. On Writing Well:  The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zessner. I like how Zessner teaches writers to write in a simple way.
  14. The Online Student’s User Manual:  Everything You Need to Know to be a Successful Online Student by Diane Hamilton. This book will help new and continuing students to be successful in online classes.
  15. Entreleadership: 20 Years of Practical Wisdom from the Trenches by Dave Ramsey.  This book contains a compilation of things that managers or entrepreneurs should know but may have never learned.

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Hiring Graduates Based on Personality Skills

shutterstock_36446959HR professionals within organizations have given personality assessments to potential employees for many years. I was asked to take a personality assessment for a pharmaceutical sales job in 1987.  The changes I have noticed since that time include the type and frequency of personality tests given.  What also may be trending is the fact that leaders of schools have become more interested in personality assessments. In the Wall Street Journal article Business Schools Know How You Think, but How Do You Feel, author Melissa Korn explained, “Prospective MBA students need to shine by showing emotional traits like empathy, motivation, resilience, and dozens of others.”  Schools may be interested in these traits because organizations value these traits.  Korn also explained, “Measuring EQ-or emotional intelligence quotient-is the latest attempt by business schools to identify future stars.”

I find this trend to be particularly interesting because I teach business, I am a qualified Myers Briggs instructor, a certified EQ-i instructor, and I wrote my dissertation on the relationship between emotional intelligence and sales performance.  I have also witnessed that online schools have placed more importance on personality assessments. Many of my first-year students must take a Jung-like personality test.  Many of my undergraduate and graduate business students have to assess their EQ.

I think it is important for these personality preference and emotional intelligence issues to be addressed in online courses.  Some of the things that may hurt a graduate’s chance of obtaining is job include having poor self-assessment skills, poor interpersonal skills, and a lack of concern for how they are perceived by others.

When I was in pharmaceutical sales, they rated us each year on our concern for impact.  It was such an important part of what they believed made us successful in the field, that there were consequences to poor judgment and rude behavior.  In the book, It’s Not You It’s Your Personality, there is a chapter regarding concern for impact, as well as one for Myers Briggs MBTI, Emotional Intelligence, DISC, and many other personality assessments that may help young adults in the workplace. One of the universities for which I teach requires students to read this book in a foresight course.

It is important for online students to learn about these assessments because employers use them.  Some personality traits stay with us throughout our lives.  The MBTI is an example of an assessment that determines preferences that may not change.  This assessment may be helpful to students who are not sure about career paths.  Other assessments like the EQ-i determine emotional intelligence levels.  The good news about emotional intelligence is that it may be improved. Marcia Hughes has written several books about how to improve EQ in the workplace.  The savvy online students will work on developing their EQ and understanding personality preferences before they graduate.  By being proactive, students may have a better chance of being successful in a career that matches their personality preferences.

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The PayPal Mafia: What is a Serial Entrepreneur?

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The PayPal Mafia refers to a group of individuals who created multiple companies that created a frenzy of growth in the Silicon Valley.  The entrepreneurs created PayPal before they set out to develop other multiple successful technology-based companies.  These men are serial entrepreneurs or individuals who, “continuously come up with new ideas and starts new businesses. As opposed to a typical entrepreneur, who will often come up with an idea, start the company, and then see it through and play an important role in the day to day functioning of the new company, a serial entrepreneur will often come up with the idea and get things started, but then give responsibility to someone else and move on to a new idea and a new venture.”

To learn more about some of the individuals associated with the PayPal Mafia check out the following members and how their initial success led to other serial successes:

For a more complete list of the PayPal Mafia members and their accomplishments, click here.

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Creative Disruption or Destruction?

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Leaders often have to deal with the effects of creative disruption. According to CreativeDisruption.net, “Creative disruption intentionally brings the challenge or change right to the organization to force it to change and adapt in advance of a random, unpredictable challenge that will eventually reach the organization.” With the creation of innovation, there may be fallout in terms of lost jobs.  However, with loss, there may also be creation of new jobs.  A computer may replace work that was done manually.  At the same time, someone must run the computer.

Creative disruption may be necessary in order to remain competitive. If the competition embraces innovation, they may gain a foothold in the market.  The key is being able to recognize the type of innovation that will allow companies to grow.

Some ideas have actually led to the demise of companies.  An example is the invention of digital images and its impact on Kodak.  The invention of digital images occurred in a lab at Kodak.  This invention not only changed the industry but caused the eventual demise of the company.  Kodak tried to embrace changes, but lacked foresight.   Companies like Kodak may need to embrace new business models when faced with innovative changes.

According to the article Big Data and the Creative Destruction of Today’s Business Model, having a grasp on the importance of managing and understanding data is critical.  “Companies are increasingly experimenting with and implementing ways to capture big data’s potential for both short- and long-term advantage. The crucial success factors are to first think of data as an asset—as the foundation upon which to build propositions and business models—and then to diligently build out the capabilities necessary to capitalize on big data’s potential. And perhaps most importantly, embrace the creative destruction of today’s business models.”

Uber is Uber Cool

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Uber is an app (iPhone and Android) that allows you to request a black Towncar or SUV rather than a typical cab in the U.S. and Canada.  When you use the app, it finds your location and allows you to order an “Uber”.  You can see all of the black cars in your area on a map.  You can simply pick the closest driver and the system will send you an alert on your cellphone to let you know the car is on its way.  The service alert includes your driver’s name and his cell phone.  You can even watch the vehicle coming toward your location on the map.

I spoke to a frequent user of Uber who told me that it normally takes about 5-10 minutes for the vehicle to arrive.  The driver opens the car door for you.  They usually have bottles of water, candy, gum, and other handy items. The price is a little more than a standard cab.  However, she felt that the few dollar difference was well worth it.

When you reach your final destination, you do not have to worry about having cash, tipping, or even dealing with negotiations.  Since your information is stored in the app, the receipt is simply sent to your email. They ask you to rate the drivers so that they can be sure they have excellent service.  I was told that drivers need to maintain a 4.7 out of 5 star rating in order to continue driving for the company.

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How to Use iPhone to Connect Computer to the Internet

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If you are like me, you may want to use your laptop when you travel.  One way to gain access to the Internet is by using an iPhone’s Personal Hotspot feature.  The cellular data connection on the phone will allow you to connect your laptop or desktop to the Internet.

To use this feature, go to the settings on the iPhone (3GS version or later) and chose general and then choose Personal Hotspot. Turn the Personal Hotspot to the “on” position.  The Wi-Fi password will be listed on the iPhone under the Personal Hotspot area next to Wi-Fi password.  The wireless connection should now be listed as a choice on the laptop or desktop computer.  To connect to the iPhone, go to the Internet Access area on the computer and select the iPhone connection option. Then enter that password listed on the iPhone when requested.

When the personal hotspot is turned on it may incur charges so it is important to turn it off when not using it for temporary access.  The Apple support website states that the Wi-Fi hotspot will turn off when no devices are detected, but I was told by a Verizon employee that there may be charges.  I was also told that the phone could not be used when in personal hotspot mode.

According to the Apple Support site, “While devices are connected to Personal Hotspot, the status bar will be blue and will indicate the number of connected users.  The maximum number of supported connections may vary depending on your carrier or iPhone model.”

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Are QR Codes Successful?

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I am currently reviewing a text about marketing.  Schools hire me to do this on occasion.  One thing that disappointed me was there was nothing in it about QR codes and some of the other newest marketing techniques. QR codes have been around for a while. If you have not noticed them, they are the little barcode-looking square that appears on newspapers billboards, flyers, and even cars.

While QR codes offer some great marketing opportunities, they have not been as successful as other techniques.  In the article QR Codes are Dead! Long Live QR Codes, the author stated, “One of the most popular Tumblr blogs of 2012 is Pictures of People Scanning QR Codes. If you click through to the site you will see that it is empty. The joke here? No one scans QR codes (short for Quick Response code). It is obvious that QR codes have a bad rep and haven’t gained much traction on the consumer end of the equation.”

QR codes have been utilized well by some companies.  I am currently reading the book Neuromarketology by Brian Fabiano.  He is a marketing guru who was wise enough to put a QR code at the end of each of his chapters with the note, “scan to learn more!” Other examples of successful QR code use include:

For more information about how to use QR codes, check out the following articles:

Entrepreneurs Replacing People with Tablets

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One of the hardest parts of getting a new business off of the ground is to have enough funding.  Many entrepreneurs use family members as personnel in order to avoid paying wages.  It may be quite expensive to hire people to take orders or process requests.  The Wall Street Journal article Can the Tablet Please Take Your Order Now included some examples of how some small businesses have begun to use tablets instead of people in the customer-ordering process.

If customers can order through a digital device, it may not only be cheaper but faster.  There are app-building tools that entrepreneurs can use to create a way for customers to input their orders.  Some companies have used QR codes to speed up the order process. Using apps is another logical alternative. With talk of increasing the minimum wage, some small businesses are looking for ways to remain profitable.  If tablets become a popular way to order, it may impact many minimum-wage workers.  “In all, one-third of low-wage workers are employed by businesses with fewer than 100 employees, according to the National employment Law Project, an organized-labor-backed advocacy group for low-wage workers.”

Not only may entrepreneurs experience some cost savings by utilizing tablets and apps, there may be some other entrepreneurial opportunities for the app designers.  According to the Wall Street Journal article, “Some entrepreneurs see a promising market in selling technologies to small businesses that might help them to streamline operations.”  While this may cost some minimum wage-earners jobs, it may also be opportunities to train them for higher-skilled positions.

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How to Avoid Paying 85% Tax on Social Security

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Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) have found out some hard lessons recently about how easily their retirement money can disappear.  One thing they may not have counted on is how much they may be taxed on Social Security benefits.

According to the Social Security Administration Website, the guidelines for paying taxes on social security include:

  • file a federal tax return as an “individual” and your combined income* is
    • between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits.
    • more than $34,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.
  • file a joint return, and you and your spouse have a combined income* that is
    • between $32,000 and $44,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits
    • more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.

Many adults receive social security as their only form of income. If that is the case, there income level would be low enough that they would not have to pay taxes or even file a tax form.  See topic 423.

For individuals who are lucky enough to have saved a few bucks for retirement, check out the following articles for help to avoid having to pay this high percentage:

  1. When Uncle Sam Wants His Money Back
  2. Avoiding the Social Security Tax Trap
  3. History of Taxation of Social Security
  4. AARP: Social Security and Taxes
  5. How Much Social Security Benefit May Be Taxed

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Famous Entrepreneurs Provide Inspiration

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There are plenty of examples of entrepreneurs who failed before they became successful.  Some of them even explain that failure has taught them their most valuable lessons.  While this may be true, many prospective entrepreneurs fear failure.  One way to avoid problems is to learn from those who have experienced negative issues and still managed to succeed.

Entrepreneur.com recently published the article 10 Inspirational Leaders Who Turned Around Their Companies.  In this article, author Stephanie Vozza explained, “From Apple’s Steve Jobs’ demanding personality to Marvel’s Isaac Perlmutter’s frugal methods, these sometimes-controversial CEOs weren’t always popular with employees, but they earned the respect of shareholders.”

For some unusual entrepreneurial examples, check out the VentureVillage article The Top Ten Startup Founder Blogs Every Entrepreneur Should Follow.  These entrepreneurs offer a different perspective and update their blogs on a regular basis.

For more information for how to be a successful entrepreneur check out:

Linkedin Endorsements Poorly Utilized

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Linkedin has provided an opportunity for networkers to endorse the skills of people with whom they are connected.  This was meant to be a time saver for people who normally wrote full recommendations. The idea had promise.  However, it is not being utilized well.  When users sign onto their Linkedin profile, they are given a list of people in their network and asked if they want to endorse them for a particular skill. There is the option of being able to endorse all of the people that pop up as choices.  The problem is, many people are doing that.  People may receive many endorsements from people who have not witnessed some of the skills they have endorsed.  At that point, the Linkedin endorsements become meaningless.

It is far too easy to choose the option of endorsing people as it is currently configured.  If the point was to make recommendations easier, it is understandable that there should be some way to do that.  However, if everyone is endorsing everyone for everything, there is no value to the endorsement.

To find out more about Linkedin’s Endorsements check out the following articles

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Have You Been Retargeted?

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If you have ever shopped online for an item and then later noticed an ad for that exact item on another page, you have been retargeted.  It may cause some problems for people who are trying to surprise others with something special. Consider the scenario of the man who has searched for engagement rings. If his future fiancé should suddenly have ads for rings show up all over their shared computer screen, the jig may be up!

To see what it is like to be retargeted, try going to the site:  GreatCall.  Once you are on that site, you will notice they sell a phone service.  You might then decide to go to a site like Dictionary.com.  Once you get to the dictionary site, you might notice that suddenly there is an ad for GreatCall.

Now take a look at the top right corner of that ad. There is a little sideways triangle that you can click that explains AdSense.  “The AdChoices symbol appears on web pages and ads to let you know when information about your interests or demographics may have been collected or used to show you ads – what’s known as interest-based advertising. You can opt out of interest-based ads, as well interest-based advertising from other participating companies by visiting the aboutads.info choices page.” Click on the following link to find out how to manage your ad preferences.

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Problems with Crowdfunding

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Crowdfunding occurs when people network through the internet to raise money to support other people’s ideas or interests. Crowdfunding became popular when Obama signed the JOBS Act bill in April.  Since then, sites like Fundable and Kickstarter have garnered media attention.  Not all information about crowdfunding has been positive.  The Harvard Business Review’s article The Road to Crowdfunding Hell explained some of the problems associated with the process.

The Wall Street Journal’s article Crowdfunding Efforts Draw Suspicion contains some of the latest problems.  The SEC was supposed to review the rules for crowdfunding by January 1.  They missed this deadline. In the meantime there may be some people who have taken advantage of the situatoin.  “State regulators already have taken or considered enforcement action against a handful of companies for allegedly exploiting online fundraising to commit fraud—or simply jumping the gun on the planned rules changes.”

There have been a large number of websites dedicated to crowdfunding.  Over 9000 sites include the word in their website name.  “Crowdfunding enthusiasts say the number of websites being registered reflects the pent-up demand for the financing targeted by the JOBS Act.”

The concern is that there is a lot of interest without a lot of control. “The association of securities regulators says the JOBS Act doesn’t do enough to protect investors.” Crowdfunding Insider claims Education is the Best Weapon Against Crowdfunding Posers.

The following video explains:  The JOBS Act and its impact on crowdfunding.

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Successful Virtual Teams

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Teams may not necessarily occupy the same building or location.  This may create some unique challenges.  When I trained teams within organizations to be effective, we dealt with personality preferences.  Team members would take the Myers Briggs MBTI to determine their type.  Team members were more effective if they understood why people acted the way they did.

In virtual teams, it is still critical to understand people’s preferences.  However, there are some unique challenges.  Leaders may deal with loosely described job descriptions.  Members of a team may share similar roles.  If team members are in other countries, cultural differences may impact the speed at which decisions may be made.

Trust and communication are still critical.  However, influence may become affected.  According to the Forbes article The Four Keys to Success within Virtual Teams, “The upshot of all this is that managers with geographically scattered teams need a much broader skill set than those with traditional, co-located teams. More than that, they need the ability to switch between skill sets, based on the diversity of their team members and the distance between them. Welcome to a new virtual world of business.”

According to Virtual Team Builders, “80% of corporate managers work virtually at least part of the time; 40% of virtual team members believe their groups are underperforming; 1 in 3 executives agree that teams are poorly managed; 56% of poorly managed virtual teams experience misunderstandings as a result of cultural and language differences; and 70% of attendees multitask during meetings.”

For more information about virtual teams, check out the following articles:

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Top Links for Employee Onboarding

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New employees go through a process that is referred to onboarding.  This is the time that the company can make employees feel welcome.  It is also a time when they can begin to work on things like creating open communication, sharing a corporate vision, and defining goals. In the article Employee Onboarding, the following list contains high-level objectives of onboarding:

  • Helping the employee to identify with their new employer.
  • Allowing the employee to understand some of the company’s values and priorities.
  • Building an optimistic attitude towards the company.
  • Avoiding misunderstandings.
  • Helping the employee feel valued.
  • Encouraging socialization and creating a sense of belonging.
  • Reducing new employee anxiety.
  • Setting of performance expectations.
  • Decreasing the learning curve.

For more information about how employers and employees can have a successful onboarding process, check out the following articles:

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Top Business and Career Trends for 2013

Trends

Potential entrepreneurs often look for the next big idea.  With changing technology, it is important to have foresight.  It is not always necessary to be the first company to offer a product or idea.  Facebook is an excellent example of this. Sometimes an idea can be improved upon or tweaked.

Once an entrepreneur comes up with an idea, they must create a feasibility study.  After creating a viable plan, there are some unique ways entrepreneurs may obtain financing.  Crowdfunding and microlending are just one of the latest trends.  Check out the Top 7 Ways for Entrepreneurs to Obtain Funding.

Some experts have tried to predict the next big areas for innovation. There are even sites like Trendhunter that offer trend reports to help with predictions. For those interested in getting ahead of the game, check out some of the top articles on business and career trends for 2013:

  1. Top 4 Career Trends for 2013
  2. Consumer Trends for 2013
  3. Top HR Trends for 2013
  4. 2013 Trend Customers Will Be In Your Face
  5. Mobile Payments Trends for 2013
  6. Mobile Trends 2013
  7. 2013 Trends Affecting Businesses
  8. Biggest Trends in Business 2013
  9. Lean Start-Ups and Connected Economy Trends 2013
  10. 5 Business Trends to Ignore in 2013

The last article is an interesting one, because sometimes people look at trends as positive things.  That may not always be true.  An important point was made in that article.  Bringing value to customers should be a primary goal.

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Create Infographics Easily with Easel.ly

Infographics can add some flare to an article. It may be a challenge to create one without the ability to navigate and comprehend complicated software.  That is why Easel.ly is such a helpful program.  In Edudemic’s article 10 Fun Tools to Easily Make Your Own Infographics, Easel.ly is listed as one tool that does not require a great deal of skill.

It is simple to take a template and simply add and change things.  For example, the original template, looked something like this:

easelly_visual

While, this may be graphically appealing, it may take quite a bit of time to change something with this much detail.  If less information is required, it is simple to change a few things here and there.  Here is an example:

OnlineStudentCareer

It may be costly and/or difficult to find just the right visual for an article. This site may be a great source of choices that can be easily tweaked to fit the topic at hand. The site offers quite a few templates and is growing daily.

To find out more, watch the following video:

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When Employers Utilize Employee Background Checks

Employers have no shortage of prospective employees in this economy.  In order to determine the best candidates, it is not uncommon for employers to run background checks.   Employeescreen.com reported that there may be some debate over the impact of these checks:  “it’s argued by employers that conducting criminal background checks assists in ultimately ensuring a safer work environment for everyone, reducing negligent hiring and criminal activity in the workplace. From the EEOC’s perspective the increase in criminal background checks for employment could cause discrimination in the hiring process.”

Background checks are in the news right now due to The Supreme Court Case of Vance v. Ball State University.

According to the EEOC, the following shows the likelihood of a job candidate to receive a background check:

  • 91% of financial jobs (banking, etc.) with fiduciary responsibility
  • 46% of senior executive positions
  • 34% of positions that require accessing confidential information (medical, salary, etc.)
  • 30% of positions where there is access to property
  • 11% of positions where state law requires it (day care, medical practitioner)
  • 9% of positions with security responsibilities (security guards)
  • 8% of positions involving national defense
  • 5% of positions that involve safety (transportation operation)
  • 3% of positions that involve contact with children and elderly

When Michael Eastman, (Executive Director of the Labor Law Policy with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) was asked about when credit checks were performed, he explained, “Different components of applicant background checks occur at different stages in the hiring process. Some employers may check references before an initial interview, some may do so afterward but before creating a final list of candidates. However, as I understand, most employers do not request credit history until the last stage of the hiring process. In other words, employers are not using credit history to compare the credit worthiness of several possible applicants. Instead, they are requesting credit history and potentially other information, on individuals that they are otherwise prepared to hire.”

For more information check out Michael Eastman’s Statement that includes the following issues regarding background checks:

  • Frequency in Use
  • Credit Scores and Information Utilized
  • Dialogue with Applicants
  • Can Credit History Ever be Job Related

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Marketing Based on Personality Type

QuantMethod is a site that offers ways to help companies market to customers based upon understanding their personality type.  The Quant Method assessment puts people into 1 out of 4 categories.  According to their site, these types include:

  1. Thinker – “The Thinker likes facts, details, proven examples and is highly organized. Their approach to business is thoughtful, logical and analytical.”
  2. Mastermind – “Masterminds are characterized by a more assertive approach to business. They tend to be fast-paced, results-oriented and get right to the point. They are efficient, logical and task-oriented.”
  3. Olympian – “The Olympian personality type is characterized by an expressive, aggressive approach to business, and aspires to great heights because “everything is possible.” They are emotive and have an easy-going” love of life” approach in her personal dealings.”
  4. Diplomat – “Diplomats are friendly, compassionate, “feeling” people that desire to contribute goodness to the lives of others. They are effective at doing this through their nurturing, insightful and encouraging nature.”

I took the test and I came out as a thinker. I assumed I’d either be that or a mastermind.  The results don’t tell you how close you are to another personality type. The site claims that my results puts me into the same category as George Washington, Michael Caine, Donald Duck, Eliot Ness, and Johnny Carson.  Hmmm … interesting group … especially Donald Duck.  Apparently half of U.S. presidents are “thinkers”.

In the results, it listed tactics about how to appeal to this type of personality in terms of suggested sales tactics.

This company surveys customers to find out their personality type. They claim their instrument is similar to Myers-Briggs MBTI but with 1/6 the size.  The thought process behind this business is that people like to deal with others that are on their same level of thinking.

Time Magazine article Get Personal with Marketing and Net More Sales reported that this Quant Method may be helpful because, “Knowing more about personality types can help you optimize email messages and websites to include specific landing pages with information that the four different personality types like in order increase conversion rates.”

While I find this to be an interesting way to market, it may be difficult to get people to respond to these assessments.  When marketing to a large database, it is not feasible.  I like the concept of targeting to the individual’s needs.  The real trick would be to get people to actually take the assessment.

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Data Reveals What it Takes to be an Entrepreneur

The Wall Street Journal recently listed some interesting statistics regarding entrepreneurs.  Ewing Marion Kauffman’s data was used to create an infographic.  According to the article By the Numbers:  Taking the Measure of Entrepreneurs, the following gives more insight as to who becomes an entrepreneur:

  • Age – The average age for an entrepreneur is 40 years old.
  • Education – Over 95% of entrepreneurs hold a bachelor’s degree or higher and over 47% have advanced degrees.
  • Background – Over 71% came from the middle-class and 1% came from extremely rich or extremely poor backgrounds.
  • Funding – For 70% of entrepreneurs, the main source of funding came from savings.
  • Family – First borns accounted for over 42% of entrepreneurs. They had an average of 3 siblings.  Just over half of them were the first in their family to start a business.  Nearly 70% were married and nearly 60% had at least one child.
  • Success – When asked what entrepreneurs felt was important for success, 73% listed luck as an important factor.
  • Location – The highest numbers of entrepreneurs are in Arizona, Texas and California. The lowest numbers are in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Hawaii.

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Companies Interested in Supertemps

Welcome to the ever-changing corporate environment.  As virtual jobs become popular, so have other non-traditional job types.  The supertemp is gaining popularity in the business world.  What is a supertemp? According to The Harvard Business Review article The Rise of the Supertemp, “Supertemps are top managers and professionals—from lawyers to CFOs to consultants—who’ve been trained at top schools and companies and choose to pursue project-based careers independent of any major firm.”

Entrepreneurial people may find the life of a supertemp to be appealing.  The author of the Forbes article Are You Ready for the Supertemp, explained that Supertemps may “now pick and choose from among many cool, well-paying projects, sometimes obtained through agencies that work with these high-end independents.

What type of people become supertemps? According to the Darton Equation article What is a Supertemp and Why Should You Care , “Supertemps are refugees from big corporations, law firms and consulting firms. Supertemps value the autonomy and flexibility of project-based work. Supertemps find that the compensation is comparable to what they earned in full-time jobs (sometimes even better). Supertemps leave behind endless internal meetings and corporate politics. Supertemps find any stigma on temporary jobs, and the people who chose them, as laughably dated.”

For those interested in becoming a supertemp, check out the CBS article: How to Become a $600K Per Year Supertemp.

Some job sites are now listing Supertemp in their job descriptions.  Check out this University of Virginia Supertemp opening.

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Glass Ceiling Under Magnifying Lens

The recent presidential debate brought attention to women in the business world.  The phrase glass ceiling is often used to describe the unofficial barrier to advancement that women may face in the working world.

In the Business Insider article Companies Really Lose Out When They Don’t Promote Women, author Max Nisen explained “Women are still vastly underrepresented at the top of companies. Only 20 percent of private companies have one or more women in the C-suite and only 6.5 percent have a female CEO.”

This information comes from a new study from Dow Jones Venture Source.  The data from this study showed that only “1.3% of privately held companies have a female founder.”  The good news was that “a company’s odds for success (versus unsuccess) increase with more female executives at the VP and director levels.  For start-ups with five or more females, 61% were successful and only 39% failed.” This data brings forth the question of whether companies could benefit from more female executives.

In the article Women Becoming More Successful than Men, it was noted that women are becoming better educated than men. Women are becoming stronger entrepreneurs as well. Forbes recently reported: “As of 2011, it is estimated that there are over 8.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States. Overall, women-owned firms have done better than their male counterparts over the past 14 years. The number of men-owned firms (which represent 51% of all U.S. firms) grew by only 25% between 1997 and 2011—half the rate of women-owned firms.”

The Washington Post explained that women’s issues helped shape the debate. Both candidates tried to show their support for women in business.

Business News reported that there are cracks in the glass ceiling as women gain boardroom seats. Though few women occupy boardroom seats, “Overall, growth equaled 1 percentage point in the past year among Fortune 1000 companies, but was larger among companies listed between 501 and 1000 by Fortune. Women made up 13.6 percent of board members at those companies, up 1.2 percentage points in the past year.”

The debates may bring more attention to women in the workplace, create more discussion and cause more than just cracks in the ceiling.

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Top 7 Ways for Entrepreneurs to Obtain Funding

The good news is that entrepreneurs have more options for funding than in the past.  According to Entrepreneur.com, access to capital is improving for small businesses. This may be a frightening time to begin an entrepreneurial venture.   However, there are an increasing number of available financing options. The following list contains some of the most prevalent in the current market.

  1. Banks – The number of people going to banks for loans is increasing. “According to a report this week on banks with more than $10 billion in assets, the overall volume of loan applications increased by 5.6 percent in September over August, reports Biz2Credit, an online credit marketplace in New York City that connects small and midsize businesses with lenders.”
  2. SBA Loans – Entrepreneurs have also traditionally gone with loans from the Small Business Association.  “In 2011… it backed $30.5 billion in 61,689 loans to small business.”
  3. Angel Investors – “Angels invested $9.2 billion in 27,280 startups in the first two quarters of 2012, a 3.1 percent increase in dollars and a 3.7 percent increase in number of entrepreneurial ventures over the same time in 2011, according to a report this week from the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire.”
  4. Venture Capitalists – “In 2012, venture capital firms have raised $16.2 billion, representing a 31 percent increase from the $12.4 billion raised in the first nine months of 2011, according to a report from Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association released this week.”
  5. Crowdfunding – There have been some unusual ways that entrepreneurs have managed to raise funds.  Crowdfunding has been growing in popularity.  Entrepreneurs can raise funds through networking on the internet.  Supports fund other people’s ideas or interests.
  6. Microlending – One of the top microlending sites is Kiva.org. Kiva is “a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.”
  7. PledgingKickstarter is a unique site allows entrepreneurs to keep ownership and control over their work while tens of thousands of people pledge millions of dollars to help finance their creative ideas. The idea must reach its funding goal or no money changes hands. Entrepreneurs that receive their anticipated funds, can test concepts without risk.

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Avoiding Entrepreneurial Failures

It is the American dream to start a business, achieve growth with that business, and possibly someday pass it along to children or sell it for a profit.  In the article, Boomers Can’t Retire, it was explained how some entrepreneurs have found that they are unable to retire. The American dream may not be as easily attainable as some may think.  The Wall Street Journal article, Venture Capital’s Secret: 3 out of 4 Start Ups Fail, listed some unfavorable start-up statistics:

  • 75% of venture-backed US firms don’t return capital investment
  • Around 30% of start-ups fail completely – 95% if the definition of failure is projected return
  • Nonventure-backed companies fail more than venture-backed
  • 60% of start-ups make it three years and 35% make it ten

Author and Professor at Harvard Business School, Noam Wasserman, has some advice for future entrepreneurs in his book The Founder’s Dilemmas:  Anticipating and Avoiding Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup.  In his book, Wasserman explains, “Often downplayed in the excitement of starting up a new business venture is one of the most important decisions entrepreneurs will face: should they go it alone, or bring in cofounders, hires, and investors to help build the business? More than just financial rewards are at stake. Friendships and relationships can suffer. Bad decisions at the inception of a promising venture lay the foundations for its eventual ruin.”

The new entrepreneur must consider problems they may encounter with people, as well as possible pitfalls he or she may encounter down the road.  By having foresight, the new entrepreneur can learn to be proactive to change.

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Do Job Candidates Lie on Personality Tests?

Companies often use personality tests like the Myers Briggs MBTI, emotional intelligence EQ-i, or others like the DISC to determine if potential employees’ personalities are a good fit for jobs.  I noticed a conversation about whether companies should use personality tests for screening employees. It seemed that many of the responses indicated that people will just lie to get the job.

There is the possibility that any subjective, self-administered test could be manipulated.  However, many of the tests have built-in detectors that try to catch inconsistent responses.  For those of you who have taken these tests, you may have noticed that it seemed like they asked the same kind of questions more than once.  Many of these tests reword things several different ways to determine consistency.

I took a personality test for a job as a pharmaceutical representative in the early 80’s.  Because it was a sales job, I knew that they were looking for sales-related qualities.  It was common sense to figure out that since I was applying for a sales position, I should use appropriate adjectives like motivated or driven to describe my personality.

The problem with lying on the personality tests is that in the end, you will end up with a job that does not really fit with what makes you happy.  Also the company will end up with an employee that is not the best match for the job.  In this economy, many people are willing to do whatever it takes to get any job.  However, the experienced HR professional should do more than just use a personality test to determine a good candidate.  These tests can be useful tools if used correctly.  However, they are just one of many tools.

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Apple and Other Top 10 Company Financial Statements

With all of the reports about the successes and failures of IPOs in 2012, there may be renewed interest in deciphering financial reports.  The follow are explanations of the four major financial statements.

  1. Income Statement:  One of the most important reports for a company is their Income Statement.  This may be referred to as the Statement of Income or the Profit and Loss Statement. This report shows profits and losses over a specific period of time.
  2. Balance Sheet:  The balance sheet is also referred to as the Statement of Financial Position. The balance sheet displays a company’s position at a single moment in time.
  3. Cash Flow Statement:  This may also be referred to as the Statement of Cash Flows. The Cash Flow Statement shows information about how money flows in and out of a business.  This may be helpful in determining the viability of a company.
  4. Statement of Retained Earnings:  This may also be referred to as e Statement of Changes in Equity.  This statement explains the company’s retained earnings over a period of time.  This will be reported under shareholder’s equity on the balance sheet.

The following are examples of the top 10 company financial statements:

Income Statements:

Balance Sheets:

Cash Flow Statements:

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Boomer Entrepreneurs Can’t Retire

One of the things entrepreneurs plan for is the time that they will eventually sell their company.  Currently many older business owners have found it difficult to reap the anticipated rewards of retirement. As the author of the Entrepreneur Exit Strategies for your Business pointed out, “it’s not enough to build a business worth a fortune; you have to make sure you have an exit strategy, a way to get the money back out.” If businesses were once very successful, the economy may have impacted their current worth.  Even with what may once have been considered a strong exit strategy, plans may have been affected by the economic downturn.

Boomers trying to sell their businesses are receiving offers that are not enough to finance their retirement.  In the Wall Street Journal article The Economy Stole My Retirement, it noted that one small business owner expected to sell for $2 million but recent losses from the recession has made that impossible.  She now has seen offers as low as $250,000.

Business owners who had planned to travel and relax in their golden years are now spending 10-12 hours a day or more working to salvage companies.  Some have no foreseeable chance of selling in the future.  Many have put all of their money into their businesses and would have to live only on social security if they let the businesses fail.

While it is admirable to have high expectations for an entrepreneurial venture, it is the wise business owner who does not keep all of his or her eggs in one basket.  Just as Enron employees learned the hard way, it is not a good idea to have all of your money invested in the company in which you work.  If the company goes under, people not only lose their jobs but their life savings as well.

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Companies Jump through Hoops to Please Millennials

Sixty Minutes did a great show on the millennial generation titled The Millennials Are Coming.  In that report, they explained how Generation Y or millennials are unique in their expectations at work.

The Wall Street Journal’s article Firms Bow to Generation Y’s Demands continues to explore how companies are offering incentives and jumping through hoops to keep millennials happy.  This has become a problem for older employees who feel this is inappropriate.

Companies are bowing to younger generations’ needs because, “they bring fresh skills to the workplace: they’re tech-savvy, racially diverse, socially interconnected, and collaborative. Moreover, companies need to keep employee pipelines full as baby boomers entire retirement.”

Companies like Aprimo are dangling the carrot of the probability of a one-year promotion to attract talent.  Their OnTrack program, launched in 2005, has had 100% of participates receive promotions and increased salaries within a year.

Companies are witnessing personality conflicts within the workplace because boomers may view that millennials receive special treatment.  “Boomers often gripe about their younger colleagues as arrogant kids who don’t know how to dress appropriately, deal with customers or close deals.”

The key to handling multiple generations within the workplace may revolve around understanding individual personality preferences. To find out more about personality types in the workplace check out:  It’s Not You It’s Your Personality:  Skills to Survive and Thrive in the Modern Workplace.

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How Businesses can Maximize Online Presence

While business leaders may constantly hear they need to maximize their online presence on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites, there may be more that they could do to succeed.  Just having a Facebook or Twitter page is not enough. These sites need to be managed and constantly promoted.

Technology entrepreneur Alex Zhardanovsky was recently interviewed by Fox News about ways businesses can improve their online presence. He explained that Facebook can be used like a newsletter.  He stated, “The nice thing about Facebook is that if you spend money building a Facebook page, you have an audience that does not go away.” This gives businesses an advantage of the old style of having people click on a link and then closing a page where they may never return again.

Facebook allows for more of a conversation where businesses can reach customers on a consistent basis.  The best part is it is a free way to build a relationship with people that may later become paying customers. Facebook Fan pages are a very important thing for business to create.  Businesses can post interesting content so that people will want to interact on that page.  Facebook also allows companies to target specific demographics.

Zhardanovsky recommends using a company called AlphaBoost to help companies build better advertising.  This site allows potential advertisers see how the competition’s ads are performing.  They can see the likes, clicks and views of the competition’s ad. The thought process is that if the business is similar, they will receive a similar reaction to a comparable ad.  He explained that once companies get the “likes” from posting a similar ad, then that is when they can differentiate their business from the competition.

To hear more tips about Twitter and other social media platforms, check out the video interview by clicking here:  Small Biz Tips from Top Tech Entrepreneur

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Entrepreneurs Finding Unique Ways to Create Business Plans

Entrepreneurs are faced with many challenges when creating a new business.  One of those challenges is to create a feasibility study and business plan.  Entrepreneur.com had a very interesting article about how businesses could utilize some unique ways to help create a business plan.  In the article Should You Create Your Business Plan on Pinterest, author Tim Berry created a sample Pinterest business plan based on a bicycle shop business.  He used charts created by LivePlan.

Berry admits, “The images don’t really tie together, but if this were an actual business plan, they would.”  The point is to show that a plan could be created with the help of a site like Pinterest. He explained, “The complete plan should be a collection of interrelated modules that lay out the goals of the business, the steps to achieve those goals, specific tasks and responsibilities, important milestones and dates, and basic metrics, including projected sales, costs, expenses, profits and cash flow. The business plan’s function is to help entrepreneurs manage better, optimize resources and steer the business into the future. Its form is supposed to follow function, so if you’re looking for a collection of visual images that summarize the plan, Pinterest is a perfectly reasonable platform to use.”

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Texting Offers Latest Marketing Opportunity

As mobile phones have taken over the way people communicate, it is a natural progression for texting to become a marketing opportunity.  In the Wall Street Journal article Teen Stores Try Texts as Gr8 Nu Way to Reach Out, author Christina Binkley explained, “Like many parents who have turned to texting to reach their teens, some youth-oriented fashion brands like Charlotte Russe, Claire’s Boutique and Vans are finding that young people are most accessible by text.”

Texting now can include more rich content, pictures and video.  Marketers can send shopping passes, discounts, and offers.  Rather than merely being a vehicle for chat, texting now offers a way to get customers to opt in and avoid illegal lists or spam.  Customers can selectively pick who they would like to receive offers from, which leads to a higher chance of the sales message being received.  The article stated, “People are five times more likely to open a text than an email.  Five billion people text on mobile phones, while about two billion people use the Internet.”

This new form of communication has increased the speed of receiving offers and acting upon them.  There is immediacy due to the ability to send messages that state things like “get 10% off if purchased within the next 3 hours.”

One of the hardest parts is to get people to opt in to receive the texts.  Retails often post signs to ask customers to opt in by texting short codes.  For more information, check out Top Links Explaining SMS and Short Codes.

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The Ethics of Google

“Don’t Be Evil” is Google’s informal corporate slogan. The founders of Google claimed that this motto explained their culture that “prohibited conflicts of interest, and required objectivity and an absence of bias.” According to Google’s code of conduct page this slogan is, “about providing our users unbiased access to information, focusing on their needs and giving them the best products and services that we can. But it’s also about doing the right thing more generally – following the law, acting honorably and treating each other with respect.”

Can Google do business in an ethical manner if they allow for people to search for unethical content? Laws may decide what is legal, but who decides what is unethical or evil?

Every day someone searches for how to do something illegal and/or unethical through utilizing Google’s search engine. How much content should Google censor?  The following articles address Google censorship issues:

U.S. News reported, “The company is based in the United States, and thus must comply with U.S. laws. As a part of its policy, Google already censors things like child pornography, and complies with copyright infringement requests (a heavy volume of which come from videos uploaded on YouTube). Yet because services such as YouTube and Blogger are popular around the world, the company must decide to what extent it will remove content deemed illegal or offensive to foreign governments.”

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Sheldon Cooper is in an EQ Stupor

The Big Bang Theories’ Sheldon Cooper is a classic example of why it is important to have a high emotional intelligence quotient (EQ). In the TV sitcom, Sheldon demonstrates what it is like to have a high IQ without a corresponding high EQ.  Daniel Goleman wrote about why this may be problematic in his book Emotional Intelligence:  Why it can Matter More than IQ.

Sheldon is a very intelligent human being. This is something that he constantly points out to nearly everyone he meets.  However, his high IQ is not tempered with interpersonal skills. Having strong intrapersonal and interpersonal skills are an important part of having a well-developed EQ.   Sheldon may be an over-exaggeration of someone that lacks these skills, but we have all met book-smart people who just do not seem to understand how to interact with others.

Some companies’ yearly performance reviews may consider how employees demonstrate  “concern for impact”.  In other words, the company want employees to be aware of how they came across to other people.  Any employee that has to deal with other people on a daily basis must learn to see themselves as other see them. What may seem as perfectly acceptable behavior to an individual may come across as offensive to someone else.  Companies are placing more importance on developing individuals’ EQ levels and hiring people that have already developed interpersonal skills.

Sheldon is almost robotic in his lack of people skills.  He does things because he has been taught that “it is the social convention” to do so.  For people who see any part of their personality in the Sheldon character, I recommend reading Goleman’s book.  I also think that it is important to read books about how to improve EQ levels.  There are some sites on the Internet that help people improve emotional intelligence.  Check out the following links:

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Patients Unknowingly Risk Their Lives with Fake Meds from Canada

Patients who obtain medications from Canadian-based suppliers may be risking their lives. Avastin is a legitimate drug used for cancer patients. Some fake Avastin drug has been discovered in the U.S.  It made its way here from Canada.  Although it originated from Turkey, it traveled through several middlemen.  U.S. citizens bought it from a Canadian pharmaceutical supplier. According to the Wall Street Journal article How Fake Cancer Drugs Entered the U.S., Kris Thorkelson’s Canada Drugs Group of Cos sold two batches of fake Avastin to doctors in the United States.

In my 15 years as a pharmaceutical sales representative, I sat through a number of speeches from company leaders regarding the dangers of obtaining medications from outside of the U.S.  My Arizona territory was close to Mexico. Therefore, I heard a lot of stories about patients going across the border to get cheaper medications.  Mexico seemed a little scary to some people due to the economy and developing nature of the country.  Therefore, later, Canada seemed to be the place people went to get a “good deal” on pricing.

Canada used to be able to obtain good medications more easily.  However the Wall Street Journal explained that, “by 2003, big drug makers seeking to protect their U.S. sales shut online pharmacies out of the Canadian supply chain, forcing them to seek supplies elsewhere.” It was at that point that pharmacies like Canada Drugs Group started looking to foreign countries to obtain medications.  Some of these countries do not have the strict guidelines that we have here in the U.S.

The sad thing about this particular case is that many cancer patients may have received fake medications that could cost them serious health issues.  The fake medication contained no active ingredient to help fight patients’ cancer.  The Wall Street Journal article cited a New York oncologist who claimed, “People who receive a fake medication instead of Avastin could have lost several months of their lives.”

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Marketers Use Retina-Tracking and Facial-Scanning Devices

The latest technological advances have allowed for marketers to perform experiments that used to be the things only considered in science fiction.   Shoppers may soon have their retinas and facial expressions scanned to determine their product preferences.  Although these scans are not available on the grocery store shelf, they have been used in product research.

The Wall Street Journal reported, “Kimberly-Clark’s researchers used computer screens outfitted with retina-tracking cameras when testing the newest packaging for its Viva paper towels in 2009. Their goal was to find which designs got noticed in the first 10 seconds a shopper looked at a shelf—a crucial window when products are recognized and placed in the shopping cart. They also wanted to know if the preferences held up on different count packages, from single rolls to multipacks.”

Researchers have found that they may obtain more accurate data this way than through the use of traditional surveys.  The retina-tracking devices are useful because the human eye can detect information very quickly.  It’s not just our eyes that can give marketers important information.  Some companies have used brain scans to determine product preferences.  Now with facial recognition software, even more customer data can be compiled as companies can “track involuntary facial expressions to gauge true emotional reaction.”

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10 Top Links to Explain Social CRM

Organizations use technology to keep track of customers’ information.  The hope is to build relationships with current and potential customers.  This is referred to as customer relationship management or CRM.  Social media has changed the way companies handle customer relationships.  The following is a compilation of some of the top sources that I have found regarding how social media has impacted CRM:

  1. How Social Media CRM Affects ROI
  2. Don’t Cold Call – Social Call
  3. Facebook is the Future of CRM
  4. Search Engine Marketing:  Effects on CRM and Online Exposure
  5. How Social Media is Changing CRM
  6. Connection Between Social Networks and Cloud Computing
  7. The Impact of Social Media on CRM
  8. Social Network Management Enhances Customer Relationship
  9. How QR Codes Affect Cloud CRM
  10. Empirical Study of Social Network Effects on CRM

As social networking changes and grows, organizations must keep up with those changes in order to remain competitive.  The company that does not create a Facebook page or is not on Twitter, may lose out to companies that have taken advantage of these sites.  There are unique ways to utilize these social networks.  British Airways uses online surveys for customer satisfaction.  Burberry launched a fragrance with Facebook, Salesforce.com and Twitter.

To find out more about social networking and CRM, check out a video by Salesforce.com titled:   What is Social CRM.  Paul Greenberg defines Social CRM as, “a philosophy and a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, process, and social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted and transparent business environment.  Social CRM is the company’s response to customers’ ownership of the conversation.”

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LinkedIn vs. Facebook IPO Success

LinkedIn’s recent IPO performance appears to have crushed the perception of big named company IPOs from Facebook, Yelp, Zynga, Groupon and Pandora. Based on their recent closing price, LinkedIn is up 141%. According to BusinessInsider Linkedin is, “the best-performing IPO this year by a huge margin. The next closest competitor, Bankrate, is up about 28 percent from its initial public offering.”

Timing may have been a factor for LinkedIn’s success. They have also seen consistent growth in unique visitors. Investors waiting for highly anticipated IPOs like Facebook may have helped increase the success of LinkedIn as well.

Although Facebook has had a lot of negative press regarding its IPO, CBS news reported that Facebook’s IPO was actually a success. CBS explained, “LinkedIn (LNKD) shares popped from the start in the professional networking company’s 2011 IPO and more than doubled in the first few days.”  Investment bankers made a bundle. This led people to think Facebook had been a flop. However, CBS author Allan Roth explained, “my definition of a successful launch of a new publicly traded stock doesn’t rest on how much money the investment bankers make. It rests on how close the offering price is to where the stock actually trades. The fact that Facebook shares closed at nearly their offering price tells me that that investors thought it was fairly priced. That’s pretty amazing, in my view, given all the hype over Facebook.”

Colin Lokey from SeekingAlpha explained that when comparing Facebook to Linkedin, fundamentals show that Linkedin is overvalued. Lokey warned, “Investors should of course, keep in mind that the fact that LinkedIn is far too expensive doesn’t mean Facebook is fairly valued at half of LinkedIn’s price.”  Prices have been affected by the recent Facebook IPO. Yahoo’s Finance writer Jeff Macke did not share Lokey’s opinion on pricing when he stated, “Linkedin stock has been dragged down over the last few weeks by the undercurrent of the Facebook Titanic.” He sees LinkedIn as a “screaming buy”.

Only time will tell how well LinkedIn and Facebook will perform. BizJournals recently quoted Linkedin’s CFO Steve Sordello about the importance of a company’s IPO results. “”An IPO is a one-time event, and what really matters is the long term. If it rains on your wedding day, you’re going to remember it rained but it’s not going to influence the marriage.”

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What You Should Know About Push Notifications

Anyone who has installed iPad or iPhone apps has probably seen the notification: “Would Like to Send You Push Notifications” (with the options of don’t allow or OK).  IpadAcademy.com explains, “Push notifications are a way for an app to send information to your iPad or iPhone even when you aren’t using the app.”  If you’ve noticed the number of email listed on your email icon, that is there due to a push notification.  That notification reminds you that you have mail without making you actually open up the application.

IOS (Apple’s system) is not the only one that utilizes push notifications.  Android and Windows smartphones also use them.  Check out:  Not all Push Created Equal.

Apple’s IOS system provides 3 types of push notifications.  To manage these notifications for an iPad or iPhone, you “Go to Settings > Notifications to choose the apps you want to receive notifications from. You can also select what form you’d like the notice to take – sound, badge, alert or banner, depending on the options the app includes.”  For more help, check out:  IOS:  Understanding Push Notifications.

Some push notifications may be very useful.  However, TheNextWeb explained push notifications need to be smarter.  Having the ability to adjust how they work may need to be adjusted.  Lifehacker explained that push notifications may not be the best thing.  In the article You Should Forget About Push Notifications for Your Email, author Adam Pash stated, “the vibrating pulse in your pocket indicating the arrival of a new email; the unpredictable “ding” from your desktop’s email notification; these things are killing your focus and destroying your ability to work to your capacity.”

Push notifications are an effective marketing tool. Check out the following video explaining why:

MobileMarketer warned that apps need to be pushy but not too pushy to be effective. “ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL is not an effective strategy in any marketing channel. An effective push notification strategy should maximize the likelihood of message relevance and a beneficial value exchange between brand and customer.”

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Entrepreneurs: Crowdfunding Options from Fundable

Crowdfunding is the latest buzz word in entrepreneurial lending. Fundable is a new company that offers “crowdfunding for startup companies”.  Crowdfunding occurs when people network through the internet to raise money to support other people’s ideas or interests. Fundable’s site allows entrepreneurs to raise capital through crowdfunding activities.  Fundable’s site states, “Startups create a funding profile that provides an overview of their company, their fundraising goals, and the rewards they are willing to provide potential backers. Thereafter, they reach out to their personal networks as well as the broader Fundable community to enlist their support.”

Backers may pledge money and/or offer assistance.  Fundable mixes Kickstarter-style and equity-based crowdfunding.  Fundable shares similarities to Kickstarter, in that the process involves all-or-nothing funding.  Goals must be met in order to receive the funds and there is no limit to the amount of money that may be raised. Scribd.com explained that there are differences between Fundable and Kickstarter.  “Fundable will seek to fund for-profit companies, while Kickstarter is all about creative projects, like literature, movies and the like.”

With the recent push for Obama’s Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, Fundable may be able to take advantage of the crowdfunding law to solicit funds online from unaccredited investors.  However, Mashable explained, “Crowdfunding legislation is so new that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) hasn’t set rules for it and Fundable needs to be approved by the SEC as a broker/dealer before it can handle investments. In the meantime, the company is focusing on offering rewards-based deals — which makes it look, for the time being, like a less-populated version of Kickstarter.”

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Facebook IPO Stock Market Performance

Facebook’s recent IPO demonstrated how difficult it may be to determine when to purchase a newly released company’s stock.  Companies like e-Bay, Yahoo!, and Linkedin had impressive launches. Facebook has not shown the same first-day stock market gain.

The first-day results may not give a good indication of the strength of the stock.  The company may see an increase in stock price due to Facebook’s advertising and marketing appeal.  The company recently acquired Tagtile.  Due to this acquisition, Facebook’s success may be improved through e-commerce.

Even if Facebook opened without a pop, Mark Zuckerberg became very wealthy with the initial offering.  Although it may surprise some that Zuckerberg does not own the most shares of Facebook,  Zuckerberg is now one of a select group of famous entrepreneurs who made it big before turning 35.

While some may be eager to cash in on the success of Facebook, check out:  Some things to take into consideration before buying shares of an IPO.

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Facebook Advertising Appeal

When a company like Facebook goes IPO, there is a lot of discussion about future potential for income.  One area where Facebook may increase revenue is through advertising.  Facebook took a big hit this week when GM killed a $10 million advertising campaign deal. GM claimed that Facebook ads were ineffective.  DailyFinance.com reported, “Click-through rates are much lower on Facebook than they are on the internet generally, or on Google (Facebook: 0.051%, Google: 0.4%, Average: 0.1%)”

One way for an ad to be effective is for it to reach the target audience.  Understanding a company’s target demographic is important.  The following chart demonstrates the age of Facebook users:

According to Statista, “This statistic shows the age distribution of Facebook users in the United States as of April 2012. During that period of time, the majority of local Facebook users were between 18 and 24 years old. Furthermore, the most popular Facebook activities of U.S. users were posting on walls and checking the internal newsfeed.”

According to Facebook’s advertising Q&A area, there are some limitations regarding how advertisers may reach a specific demographic.  Other than age and birthday-specific advertising, Facebook targets based on location, interest, education and connection advertising.  This differs from Google that allows targeting by interest, keywords, remarketing, location and demographics.

BusinessInsider explained the difference between advertising on Facebook vs. Google in terms of reach and revenue.  “Total reach for Facebook is 51% of all internet users.  Total reach for Google is 90% of all internet users.  First quarter revenue for Facebook is $1.06 billion, down 6.5 percent year on year and down 32 percent sequentially.  First quarter revenue for Google is $2.09 billion, up 1 percent year on year and up 0.7 percent sequentially.”

Facebook is hoping to use friendships to sell products and brands.  Check out the following video to find out more about this and the importance of geofencing.  According to Amos Content Group, “A geofence is a virtual perimeter around a real area as in within a block of a restaurant. Marketers can use this location-based service to target a passersby who has opted in to send deals or information to smartphones.”  Facebook’s friendship-based approach could influence geofencing.

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Using Giant QR Codes on Cars to Promote Business

QR codes may offer sales people a new way to advertise.  Real estate agents are known to put company and contact information on cars as a form of advertisement.  Agents have even begun using QR codes on the “for sale” signs. Interested buyers can scan information about the home instantaneously into his or her cell phone.

Now that QR codes are on just about everything, why not make them into a magnetic attachment for an automobile?  Chevy has already used QR codes on automobiles to promote car sales. “The vehicles are currently undergoing Southern California road testing, so the displayed QR codes will allow consumers to get a closer look at this vehicle even before it is available for sale.”

How big can a QR code be?  Check out the 10,000 square foot QR code made that can be viewed from 2 miles up in the sky.

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Facebook: Top Articles on IPO, Zuckerberg and More

Who owns more Facebook shares than Zuckerberg?  With the impending Facebook IPO, there is a lot of news about the value of the company.  The IPO is expected to come in close to $100 billion, with a price per share ranging from $28-35.  Should that be the case, the follow chart, explains how much Zuckerberg and other investors’ share of the pot will be worth:

The following contains some of the top links for researching information on Facebook:

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Value of Top Companies in 2012

 

Difference between Feasibility Study and Business Plan

Entrepreneurs face many challenges when creating a new venture.  Although the business plan is one of the most well-known documents, the feasibility study may be just as important.  Before the entrepreneur can seek funding, he or she must demonstrate that the idea is truly a good one.

Rochester.edu explained that a feasibility study, “can be defined as a controlled process for identifying problems and opportunities, determining objectives, describing situations, defining successful outcomes, and assessing the range of costs and benefits associated with several alternatives for solving a problem.”

In order to create a feasibility study, entrepreneurs need to define dimensions of business viability including:  market viability, technical viability, business model viability, management model viability, economic and financial model viability, and exit strategy viability.

A good outline for a feasibility study includes:

  • Introduction
  • Product or Service
  • Technology
  • Market Environment
  • Competition
  • Industry
  • Business Model
  • Market and Sales Strategy
  • Production Operations Requirements
  • Management and Personnel Requirements
  • Regulations and Environmental Issues
  • Critical Risk Factors
  • Financial Predictions Including:  Balance Sheet, Income Statement, Cash Flow Statement, Break Even Analysis, and Capital Requirements
  • Conclusion

A feasibility study is not the same thing as a business plan.  The feasibility study would be completed prior to the business plan.  The feasibility study helps determine whether an idea or business is a viable option.  The business plan is developed after the business opportunity is created.  StrategicBusinessTeam.com explained, “A feasibility study is carried out with the aim of finding out the workability and profitability of a business venture. Before anything is invested in a new business venture, a feasibility study is carried out to know if the business venture is worth the time, effort and resources. A feasibility study is filled with calculations, analysis and estimated projections while a business plan is made up of mostly tactics and strategies to be implemented in other to grow the business.”

While it may seem the feasibility study is similar in many ways to the business plan, it is important to keep in mind that the feasibility study is developed prior to the venture.  StrategicBusinessStream pointed out that “a feasibility study can readily be converted to a business plan.”  It’s important to think of the business plan in terms of growth and sustainability and the feasibility study in terms of idea viability.

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Today’s Organizations Embracing Virtual Business

Traditional brick and mortar businesses may become a thing of the past.  Today’s modern workplace has embraced the virtual environment.  In Managing Innovation by Tidd and Bessant (2009), the authors explained, “virtual organizations are increasingly a feature of the business landscape.”  In the article Virtual Organizations, the author noted, “The ultimate goal of the virtual organization is to provide innovative, high-quality products or services instantaneously in response to customer demands.”

Amazon is an excellent example of an organization that has pioneered virtual business.  Other successful organizations include:  e-Bay, Zappos, and Netflix.  There are some businesses that may not initially seem to be virtual organizations. Jet Blue is one of those companies.  In an article by Cisco Press titled, Defining the Virtual Business and Its Benefits, the authors explain how Jet Blue reduced inventory through standardization, reduced real estate expenses, and allowed employees to work from home.

In the book The Virtual Organization by Davidow, the author explained that virtual products may exist before it is even produced. “Its concept, design, and manufacture are stored in the minds of cooperating teams, in computers, and in flexible production lines.”

To find out more about virtual organizations’ background, characteristics, challenges, and future potential, check out Virtual Organizations.

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Facebook Recognizes Importance of E-Commerce

Companies are able to increase global reach through e-commerce (short for electric-commerce).  E-commerce occurs when products and/or services are sold over the Internet. Some examples of e-commerce include:  Online shopping, electronic payments, online auctions, internet banking, and online ticketing. E-commerce may be business-to-business, business-to-consumer, or consumer-to-consumer.

Facebook recently acquired Tagtile to grow e-commerce business. Tagtile is a company that is designed to keep customers engaged and motivated to continue to frequent a company’s website. This will help add to their strong advertising revenue. Zdnet stated, “Facebook needs to be able to bundle a solution to sell to brands who want to tap into Facebook’s store of data for closer customer connections. It needs to find an alternative revenue stream to keep its shareholders happy as it builds its e-commerce offerings post IPO.”

To find out more statistics about e-commerce, check out Statista’s site. Statista is a website that provides some important statistics available on the internet. Statista “provides business customers and academic institutions with an innovative and intuitive tool for the research of quantitative data, statistics, and facts.”

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Play Free Social Games To Finance College Tuition

Grantoo is a startup company that is designed to allow college students to use free game playing to help fund their education.  Grantoo’s tagline is “Why Pay For College When You Can Play For It?”  According to Mashable, the co-founder of Grantoo stated, “Students are playing social games a lot so we want to make it useful to them by turning something that’s a distraction or a waste of time into something that’s positive. We want to promote philanthropy at an early age, introducing students at no cost.”

Grantoo’s games include:  Wordy Bird, Grantoo Hold ‘Em, and Quiz Night.  Students can “play their tuition bill.”  Companies can sponsor tournaments through donations.  This is good for the corporate image and helps students at the same time. Mashable stated, “All of the money companies donate goes toward the combination of philanthropy and college grants for students, according to the ration determined by the game winners. Grantoo generates its own operating cost through on-site advertising.”

Grantoo partners with colleges and corporate sponsors.  Students can take their money to pay for college expenses and can pledge a percentage of winnings to a favorite philanthropic cause.  This unique gaming platform is free.  According to Grantoo’s site, “Students spend hundreds of hours per year on casual games – Grantoo’s network goes beyond entertainment. Here, you can turn your gaming hours into financing your education. In addition, your success is directed towards meaningful social contributions.”

For more about Grantoo, check out the following video:

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Student Help Page

Big Business Embracing Entrepreneurial Thinking

Wal-Mart recently inspired an unusual entrepreneurial competition. Inventors could submit product ideas, with the hope of having their product available on the stores’ shelves.  Wal-Mart is not the first company to recognize the importance of fostering creativity in unusual ways. In college-level innovation and entrepreneurship courses, one of the things students learn is that organizations place a high value on entrepreneurial thinking.

Wal-Mart initially created the entrepreneurial contest  to create buzz in social media.  The popularity of the promotion led to some creative ideas by inventors who sought attention for their creations. The Wall Street Journal reported that the winner would have the opportunity to sell on Wal-Mart.com as well as in the physical stores.

The idea of organizations recognizing the importance of entrepreneurial talents is becoming more popular.  Check out some of the following articles that demonstrate the value of entrepreneurship in the modern workplac

  1. Forbes: A Growing Startup Should Hire Only Entrepreneurs
  2. Bloomberg:  Need Innovation? Hire an Entrepreneur
  3. Economic Times:  Top IT Companies Hiring Failed Entrepreneurs
  4. Google Hires Digg Entrepreneur
  5. Andrew Hamilton: Large Companies and Entrepreneurs Can Work Well Together
  6. Companies Hiring Entrepreneurs for Innovation
  7. UC Will Hire Entrepreneur to Set up Companies
  8. Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Large Companies
  9. Leveraging Dynamics Between Large Companies and Entrepreneurs
  10. Entrepreneurs Organization

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Entrepreneurs: Funding Options from Kickstarter

Entrepreneurs often find that one of the hardest parts of realizing their dream is to obtain financing.  Some have tried microlending sites like Kiva.org.  Others have discovered a new lending platform called Kickstarter.  The site’s tagline is “a new way to fund and follow creativity.”

Kickstarter describes its site as the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects.  This unique site allows entrepreneurs to keep ownership and control over their work while tens of thousands of people pledge millions of dollars to help finance their creative ideas.  The idea must reach its funding goal or no money changes hands.  Entrepreneurs that receive their anticipated funds, can test concepts without risk.

Kickstarter’s Blog offers advice to those interested in creating a new project. The site allows for people to browse current ideas or to create their own.  To begin a new project dedicated to film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and more, creators can check out Kickstarter school.

Once a project is listed on the site, it displays timeline and pledge information including:  Percent Funded, Amount Pledged, Number of Days Left to Receive Funds.  The picture displayed below demonstrates some examples listed on Kickstarter’s site.  On the site’s curated page, it lists “projects curated by some of the world’s foremost creative communities.” The site also allows users to view projects by staff picks, most popular, recently launched, ending soon, small projects, most funded, as well as by category and location.

For additional help with the entrepreneurial process, check out the Top 30 Links for the Successful Entrepreneur.  

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Top Entrepreneurial Topics and Value of SBA

Are entrepreneurs made or born?  That is just one of the topics addressed in The Wall Street Journal’s report about Entrepreneurs and the Small Business Administration.  The Small Business Administration is one of the first sources my entrepreneurial students consider when asked where they would obtain funds for their venture. Check out some very interesting debates about six small-business issues:


The article about whether entrepreneurs are made or born is something that is discussed in several of my courses.  The above graphic demonstrates some of the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs.  This discussion creates an interesting debate considering some very talented entrepreneurs dropped out of school.  However, as noted in this article, there is a lot to be gained from education as well as from real life experience.

For more comprehensive information about how to be a successful entrepreneur, check out:  Top 30 Links for the Successful Entrepreneur.

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A Day in the Life of an Online Professor

Today’s Ask Dr. Diane Question:  I noticed you work for a lot of universities.  I’m considering working for several universities as well and I am curious what is your typical day like?

Answer:  My days vary, based on how many classes I teach.  I like to teach between 10-15 courses at a time.  I also serve as chair for 10 doctoral students and work on 5-10 doctoral committees.  Additionally I take courses to keep up with technology, education, etc. A typical day usually includes about 8-9 hours of grading papers, providing feedback, responding to discussions/emails, guiding doctoral students with dissertations, and developing curriculum.

I usually look at one school’s information at a time. However, I may have several school sites open at once, if my computer or the site is running slowly.  It helps that schools have different due dates for assignments.  For example, one school may require a “deliverable” or an assignment to be due on Mondays.  Another may have assignments due on Fridays, etc.  Usually it works out that all of the big assignments are spread out over the week.  However, most of them have discussions going on that I respond to on a daily basis. I will go to a school’s site to handle all email, questions, discussion responses, and grade any submitted assignments.  I do the same for the next school, and so on, until I have responded to every single item.  I do not stop working until everything is graded.   Most schools allow instructors a week to grade papers. I do not like to make students wait. If someone has submitted an assignment, I grade it as soon as I log on that day.

On weekends, less homework seems to be assigned, so I work less hours.  I probably work around 3-4 hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays.  I do not usually take any days off, but that is not required. Schools usually require 5 or 6 days of work per week.  The nice thing about working as an adjunct is that you can decide how many courses you can handle. You can start off  with just a few and add more if you find you have the time.

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Pharmaceutical Job Candidates: Stand Out With CMR

The pharmaceutical job market is extremely competitive.  One way for potential applicants to stand out from the crowd is to become a Certified Medical Representative (CMR).  The Certified Medical Representative Institute has recently launched a pre-hire program, designed for someone interested in entering the biopharmaceutical arena. The program is designed to provide basic knowledge that would help make someone a better candidate or provide deeper knowledge to enhance their abilities in a potential position.

When I obtained my CMR, I found that the training was excellent.  Adding the CMR designation to my business card also demonstrated that I had received training that went above and beyond the industry standard.

CMR’s latest program covers the following topics:

The Biopharmaceutical Industry

  • Overview of the Drug Development Process
  • Promotion and Advertising in Pharmaceuticals

The Sales Environment

  • The Evolution of Managed Care
  • Healthcare Insurance Plans and Healthcare Financiers

The Science of Medicine

  • Systems of the Body
  • Evaluation of Disease
  • Medical Terminology

The Science of Pharmacology

  • Basic Principles of Drug Actions
  • Classification of Pharmaceutical Products

The Biopharmaceutical Representative’s Job

  • The Role of the Biopharmaceutical Representative
  • Elements of Good Communication
  • The Business Planning Process

For more information, check out the CMR Institute.

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Top 25 Links to Change Your Body, Career and More

What is a Meme?

There may be some confusion as to the meaning of the word meme (rhymes with dream).  John Gunders and Damon Brown, authors of the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Memes, define it as, “A cultural unit of measure.  It can be a thought, a phrase, a style, or any other cultural expression that can be imitated by individuals.  More important, a meme is a replicator; that is, a particle of culture that strives to get itself copied as many times as possible.”

Basically it is an idea that is replicated through imitation.  There is a lot of that going around on the Internet.  If an idea catches on there, it may be referred to as “going viral”.  There is much more than just Internet messages that are memes.  Gunders and Brown explain that things like philosophy, sex, religion and politics also exhibit meme qualities.

It is a unit of culture such as a tune, idea, habit, that makes its way from person to person. It must be short enough to catch on and easily understood.  There are a lot of versions of the following meme that are based on different job occupations.  The template of what others think that the job entails is the same.  People have had some fun putting in their own ideas of the different perspectives of a job.  Here is one for a sales professional:

Examples of Memes:

  • Technological:  Rick Rolling – Promising one web site but redirecting to Rick Astley’s music video.
  • Musical:  The opening five bars of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.
  • Marketing:  Slogans like “Where’s the Beef?”  The trick is to have something be catchy, memorable and desirable.

The Players and How it Works:

  • The Creator:  Creates the Meme
  • The Hook:  The Enticement to Remember the Idea; Example:  Belief That Others Will Enjoy Idea or That Others Need to Experience the Idea
  • The Bait:  The Desired Result; Example: Positive Benefit of Meme is Realized
  • The Vector:  The Medium that Transports the Idea.  Example:  E-mail, Facebook, Youtube
  • The Host:  The Carrier of the Idea Who Initiates Delivery

Popular Internet Memes:

Popular Concept Memes:

Popular Video Memes:

Popular Picture Memes:

The following list are some websites that explain more about memes:

What is Pinterest and Why is it Growing so Fast?

Pinterest is a site that allows people to share things that they find on the Internet.  Users may use pinboards to plan their weddings, organize recipes, decorate their homes and more. Users may browse others’ boards to obtain ideas or share common interests. A “pin” is an image that may be captured from the internet through the use of a “pin it button”.  These images are then pinned to a board that is like a poster or page.

Mashable reported, “Development of Pinterest began in December 2009 and the site launched as a closed beta in March 2010. The site proceeded to operate in invitation-only open beta. Later, the site made registration possible after an email request. On August 16, 2011, Time magazine published Pinterest in its “50 Best Websites of 2011” column.”

Some of the reasons for Pinterest’s growth may include:

  • Strong word of mouth recommendations
  • Ease of image capture
  • Visual appeal

In the article The Explosive Growth of Pinterest, Sendblaster.com reported, “According to Business Insider, traffic to Pinterest has increased by more than 40 times since December of 2011. As of January 2012, Pinterest had 11.7 million unique users, and this social media site with a twist continues to experience explosive growth.”

Business Insider published 6 Charts That Reveal the Truth About Pinterest’s Crazy Growth.  Statista put together the following chart that demonstrates how the site has dramatically increased growth in unique visitors and average time spent per visitor.

Check out the FAQs for Pinterest by clicking here.

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Help With Yelp: Popularity of Site Important for Business

With all of the review sites out there, why is Yelp so important?  Yelp’s site helps connect people with businesses. According to their site, “Yelp had an average of approximately 66 million monthly unique visitors in Q4 2011.”  Statista put together the following infographic to demonstrate the importance of Yelp:


Businesses can use the site to post photos and connect to their customers. Yelp is most useful to businesses when customers write reviews.  It is important that the reviews are legitimate.  It is not recommended to improve ratings on Yelp through illegal means. BusinessInsider.com urges businesses to embrace Yelp or miss out on over 50 million Yelp users.

If owners are concerned about negative reviews, the following chart shows that it appears people enjoy spreading good news more than bad.

Is Yelp worth it?  That answer may be based on the type of company.  However, Bay Area Web Solutions explained that Yelp is one of the top review websites.  Check out how to use Yelp without paying for it.

Click here for the: Top Links for Help with Yelp.

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Top 30 Links for the Successful Entrepreneur


The following list contains the most popular articles used as supplements in my entrepreneurial courses.  Click on the title name to be directed to the article.

  1. Ten Entrepreneurs Who Hit It Big Before Turning 35
  2. Top 10 Companies Code of Ethics and Conduct
  3. Top 10 Company Mission Statements
  4. Famous Entrepreneurs Who Hit it Big With Humble Beginnings
  5. Researching Apple: Top 10 Most Useful Links
  6. Value of Top Companies   
  7. The Top 10 Most Misunderstood Entrepreneurial Terms
  8. Top Five Things to Know to be a Successful Entrepreneur
  9. 50 Famous People Who Failed Before They Became Successful
  10. Top 50 Venture Funded Companies   
  11. Top 5 Networking Tips for Small Businesses
  12. Time for a New Career? Change the Daily Grind to a Job of Your Dreams
  13. 50 Excellent Lectures for the Small Business Owner
  14. An Entrepreneur’s Startup Business Model Checklist
  15. Importance of Being Proactive vs. Reactive
  16. Important Terminology for Entrepreneurs
  17. Chief Officer Acronyms Explained
  18. Top 20 TED Talks Not to be Missed
  19. Companies Rewarding Employees for Entrepreneurial Ideas
  20. Increasing Motivation:  Right Brain vs. Left Brain
  21. Women Becoming Successful Entrepreneurs
  22. Most Inspiring Entrepreneurial Women
  23. Capitalizing on Manic Depression
  24. What Happens When Genius Leaders Pass the Torch
  25. New Businesses Not Getting Loan Approval
  26. Serial Entrepreneurs Share Words of Wisdom
  27. 10 Famous Product Failures
  28. Microlending:  Funds for Small Businesses
  29. Brand Awareness:  The Importance of Facebook
  30. Top 25 Links to Change Your Body, Career and More

Brand Awareness: The Importance of Facebook

Youtube, Coca-Cola and Starbucks are just some of the most popular brands according to “fans” on Facebook.  Companies that have yet to embrace Facebook as an important marketing tool, are missing the boat.  Gourmet Marketing explained, “Businesses carve out an identity and following of customers through Social Media…none is more central than Facebook.”

Seattle Local Marketing’s article Tips on How to Find Fans for Facebook Fan Page stated, “Why is Facebook so useful? If you want to pull a lot of people to look and find out about your business then, the best way is Google since majority of these people use this search engines. However, Facebook comes almost as second in being one of the most accessed sites in the world.”

Social Media Today recently ran an article titled 15 Ways to Use Facebook for Business.  By creating a Facebook page, businesses can create a forum for discussion, facilitate word of mouth, research and test-market products, list press releases, and even hold contests.

Simply Zesty’s article Beer Company Generations $50.7 Million from 400,000 Facebook Fans demonstrates the impact on Facebook fan pages. New Belgium Brewing, “recently surveyed their Facebook fans and found that on average, their fans are spending $260 annually on the company’s products. This equates to $50.7 million in annual revenue, with 400,000 Facebook fans spread out across their products. Not a bad return on investment, given that the company had invested just $235,000 in 2011 in social media campaigns.”

To find out how some of the top companies rank on Facebook, check out the following chart:

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Importance of Unique and Repeat Visitors

Keeping track of unique visitors helps determine effectiveness of marketing strategies.  Webopedia explained that the term unique visitor “refers to a person who visits a Web site more than once within a specified period of time.” It may be difficult to determine the exact number of unique visitors a site may have.  PC Magazine explained, “Unique visitors are determined by the number of unique IP addresses on incoming requests that a site receives, but this can never be 100% accurate. Depending on configuration issues and type of ISP service, in some cases, one IP address can represent many users; in other cases, several IP addresses can be from the same user.”

How important are unique visitors?  Check out Unique Visitors are not everything. In this article, the author points out that it may be a “misleading stat, as Jakob Nielsen explains, Chasing higher unique-visitor counts will undermine your long-term positioning because you’ll design gimmicks rather than build features that bring people back and turn them into devotees and customers.”

There seems to be confusion between unique visitors and repeat visitors in some of the articles on the Internet.  In the article Defining Unique Visitors by Imediaconnection, Brant Dainow explained, “Understanding your repeat visitors is where the money is. The reason is simple: it takes an average of 2.4 visits to your site before someone will buy. In other words, most people buy on the second or third visit to your site. No one buys the first time they visit. Repeat visitors are the ones who matter. Repeat visitors buy the products, and therefore repeat visitors pay your bills.”

Statista created an infographic that demonstrates unique visitors per month as well as average monthly use per visitor for sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, MySpace, Google, Tumblr, and Pinterest.  Not only does Facebook far exceed all others in unique visitors, users are spending over 6 hours per month on the site.  This is over 600 times the amount of time spent on Google+.

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What is Typosquatting? When Misspelling is an Expensive Mistake

Typosquatting occurs when a website is created to prey on people who may have inadvertently typed in the wrong web address.  An example would be arifrance instead of airfrance.  Typosquatting is also referred to as URL hijacking, cybersquatting or brandjacking.

The registration of misspelled domain names is illegal. Sites like Wikapedia and Twtter have been shut down and fined $156,000 each.  Mashable reported that sites like these “are popping up on the web to trick unsuspecting web users into clicking on fake ads that claim the user has won a prize. In the case of these two sites, to receive a prize, like an iPad, people were asked for their cellphone number. The site sent a text with a pin and more texts with survey questions. Each time a person responded to the survey questions via texts he or she was charged.”

Alexa reported that some of the web’s most popular sites were typosquatted. Scambusters.org lists some helpful tips to identify typosquatting.  Some of the main uses for these sites include:

  • Revenue Generating
  • Transfer of Virus and/or Malware
  • Phishing Scams
  • Advertising Pay Per Click Scam

USA Today reported that, “most typosquatting domains lead to a bot network, used to steal passwords and obtain personal information such as financial or banking records. Bot networks aren’t obvious and can involve millions of computers.”  According to TGdaily.com, it is a good idea to get into the habit of bookmarking your favorite sites to be sure that you are landing on the correct page. Sixty Four percent of the typosquatted sites are US-based.  Bendelman.org compiled a list of popular domains and their typosquatted sites to compare number of daily visitors.  Click here for that report.

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What is Socialnomics?

In Erik Qualman’s 2010 book Socialnomics, he described how socialnomics exists “where consumers and the societies they create online have a profound influence on our economy and the businesses that operate within it.”

Social media is the new word of mouth.  Now that individuals look online to find out information about products from their peers, marketing has taken a new turn. Companies must create a social networking presence in order to survive.

Click here to see some examples of socialnomics in action.

The following video gives some interesting statistics about the social media revolution.

 

Top Links Explaining Texting (SMS) and Short Codes

Just as Twitter has grown to be an important marketing tool, texting is not just for stating LOL anymore. There are some very important uses for texting, aka SMS (short messaging service). Check out some helpful links to explain texting terminology and uses:

  1. Donate to Charity – Pew Research recently reported that almost 1 in 10 Americans donate to charity through texting.
  2. Search Sites Like Google – By texting GOOGL (46645), you can search Google without opening your browser. Check out:  Six Things You Never Knew Your Cell Phone Could Do. Word/number texts like GOOGL (46645) are called common short codes.  Check out:  Basics of CSCs to find out everything you need to know about common short codes.
  3. Send and Receive Email – To find out how to use SMS to access email, check out:  16 Things You  Can Do With SMS Text Messages.
  4. Check the Weather – By texting 4CAST (42278), you can access weather forecasts.  Check out:  Five Great Things You Can Do With a Text Message For Free.
  5. Check Calendar – By texting GEVENT (48368), you can access your Google calendar and schedule appointments.  Check out: Ten Terrific Things You Can Do With Text Messaging.
  6. Track Packages – Your SMS can track your UPS, Fed Ex, DHL and other packages through TrackThis.  Check out:  Run Your Life with SMS:  10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do Via Text.
  7. Learn Texting Abbreviations – You may know LOL, but there is an entire site of information dedicated to explaining what all of those text messaging and online chat abbreviations mean and text message abbreviations.
  8. Text From a Computer – If you have a computer and someone’s 10-digit phone number, you can text them without needing a phone.  The following explains how to text people based on their carrier (i.e., Verizon, AT&T, etc.):  Text from a Computer.
  9. Create a Common Short Code (CSC) – You can create your own CSC campaign by leasing a code.  Check out:  Obtaining a CSC.  Remember the CSC is like GOOGL or 4CAST noted above.  Keep in mind that leasing the code is the first step. You’ll still need to negotiate agreements with each of the wireless carriers to activate your short code. To be part of the CSCA directory listing, click here.
  10. Enhance Business – Business can utilize short codes for contests, lead capture and more.  Check out:  Top 10 Business Goals Enhanced by Short Codes.

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Importance of Being Proactive vs. Reactive

Many good foresight or business courses teach students to be proactive vs. reactive to change.  Anyone who has read The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People will tell you that the very first habit Covey lists is to be proactive. Covey explained that to be proactive “means more than merely taking initiative.  It means that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives.  Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.”

When a person is in control of an expected or anticipated occurrence, they have taken proactive measures.  When a person is reactive, they are responding to something that they had yet to have anticipated.

In leadership courses, they often give examples of a proactive vs. a reactive leader.  The following chart gives an example of the different mindset of these two styles of leaders. Click on the picture for more information.

Carol Shultz’s article Proactive vs. Reactive Approaches to Your Business and Talent explained two cases that demonstrated how reactive companies lost employees for different reasons, and the associated costs.

There are a number of theoretical models for change that include the importance of being proactive.  Some of these include:

To read more about these and other models for change, click here.

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Top 5 Reasons Why Big Pharmaceutical Companies are Failing: An Inside Perspective

The Wall Street Journal recently reported how drug companies are using cues taken from Disney to improve lagging sales.  I usually do not write opinion articles, but having worked as a pharmaceutical representative for 15 years, I witnessed a lot of mistakes in the industry that I believe should be uncovered.  While high pressured sales pitches may be causing some of the problems facing Big Pharma, there were plenty of other issues that I experienced.

  1. Too Many Reps – The biggest problem I saw was the number of sales representatives hired.  When I began selling pharmaceuticals in 1985, I had my own territory.  It consisted of several zip codes.  My job was to call on doctors within those zip codes once a month.  In that sales call, I presented information about my drug.  As time went by, leadership decided that if one person could do so well calling on doctors, having two people delivering the same message would just improve sales.  They began to think it was inspired to just double the amount of reps.  By the time I left in 2002, there were eight of us in my territory all delivering the same message to the same doctors.  It is no wonder that doctors began to stop seeing reps.  Doctors were tired of being overwhelmed by the same information.  While it may sound bad that a company like AstraZeneca is laying off 24% of its sales staff, perhaps it is important to realize that they may have had too many sales reps in the first place.
  2. Rewarding Mediocrity – The commission structure was set up in way that did not inspire motivation.  My company set up forecasts so that reps would attain around 105% of projections.  If a representative came in at 100%, the next year, their forecast would be decreased.  If the representative came in at 120%, the next year, their forecast would be increased.  There was no real incentive to do well, because it would catch up in the next cycle. Reps also were paid most of their income as a base salary.  Commissions were a smaller part of their income.  In the Wall Street Journal article, it mentioned that companies are now considering changing the way they pay commissions.  In the past, commissions were based on number of sales.  Companies like Glaxo are now considering basing commissions on physician satisfaction.  Now that I am just a patient and not a rep, I would rather a doctor wrote me a prescription for a drug because it is the best drug and not because they are satisfied with a drug rep’s performance.
  3. Lack of Control – A pharmaceutical rep either sold a drug that was or was not on a formulary.  A formulary is the list of medications an insurance company will pay for if a doctor prescribes it.  If the drug he or she sold was on the insurance company’s formulary that the doctor used, then the rep had a fighting chance of convincing the doctor to prescribe the medication.  If not, the rep had little effect because patients would not be willing to pay cash for their prescriptions.  The reps had no control over getting drugs on the formularies.  That was someone else’s job.  The lack of control led to low sales and poor performance.
  4. Training not Realistic – Pharmaceutical reps go through intense training before entering the field.  In that training, they are taught sales scripts.  These scripts were things they should say when they were in the doctors’ offices.  When a rep would get out into the field, they quickly saw that the training was not realistic.  They did not have the kind of time to say the kinds of things they were taught.  Doctors were too busy.  My boss basically told me to forget everything they taught me and just be conversational.  This is interesting to me now that the Wall Street Journal article claims that this style is now being embraced by Lilly.
  5. Doctors’ Preferences – Like it or not, many of the reasons people are given the medications are due to doctors’ friendships with and preferences for their reps.  I had a doctor tell me that he wrote a medication for a rep he hated just because he saw him so much it was “just in his mind” to do so.  He did not choose the drug because it was better.  The Wall Street Journal article explained that a psychiatrist deliberately wrote for a competitive product just because he did not like the rep.  It was disturbing to me to see the reasons why a doctor prescribed what they prescribed.  It usually was based on familiarity and friendship rather than anything else.

I was fortunate that I was successful in my 15 years as a pharmaceutical rep.  I was a multiple winner of their coveted “Presidents Circle of Sales” award. However, some of my success was based on luck.  If my drug was on a formulary, it made my job a lot easier.  Now that I am a Professor of Business, I see many problems with their business model.  It may have worked for a while, but over time, there have been cracks in a less than solid foundation.

I believe that a lot of the problem in that industry is due to the lack of time doctors put forth in terms of researching their medications.  I have witnessed a lot of scary things that doctors have done over the years.  I witnessed a lot of doctors who only obtained information about medications based on a sales pitch.  I would rather have a well-informed doctor that has done his research prescribe my medication, than a physician who liked the lunch or “performance” delivered by the rep that was just in his office before I arrived for my appointment.

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Is the Millennial Generation the Best Generation Ever?

Check out an infographic about the Millennial Generation from OnlineGraduatePrograms.com.  This is based on research from the Pew Research Organization.  Note how the Millennials have differ from the Baby Boomers, Generation X and the Silent Generation. 

Millennials
Created by: Online Graduate Programs

 

Top 18 Personality Theorists Including Freud and More

Freud, Jung, Adler and other famous theorists’ names are commonly mentioned, but many people do not know the basis of their important research. Theorists have grappled with understanding factors that may impact personality.  Many theorists have dedicated their lives to helping people deal with complex personality-based issues. 

In the workplace, it is common to run into personality conflicts.  Many of these may be resolved by having a better understanding of personality preferences.  It’s Not You It’s Your Personality is a book that defines personality, gives detailed information about personality assessments, and explains how people can use this information to be more effective in the workplace. Personality assessments are based on the work of some very famous theorists. The following chart contains some of the top names in personality research. Click on links provided to find out more about these theorists and the importance of their research. 

Top Personality Theorists Theory Top Points and Terminology
Sigmund Freud Psychodynamic Psychosexual DevelopmentId, Ego, Super-Ego
Carl Jung Psychodynamic Collective Unconscious, True Persona, Introvert-Extrovert
Alfred Adler Psychodynamic Social Urges, Conscious Thoughts, Compensation for Inferiorities, Birth Order
Karen Horney Psychodynamic Biological Influences on Personality Rather  Than Social Forces
Harry Stack Sullivan Psychodynamic Interpersonal Relationships, Social Acceptance and Self-Esteem
John Bowlby Attachment Parent Child Relationships, Social Acceptance and Self-Esteem
Mary Ainsworth Attachment Strange Situation Theory, Observation of Parents
Erik Erikson Psychosocial Child’s Trust Relationship With Mother, Early Development
Carl Rogers Psychosocial Humanistic Theory Based on Subjective Experiences, Self-Understanding
John Watson Behavioral Environmental Impact on Behavior
Ivan Pavlov Behavioral Pavlov’s Dog, Classical Conditioning, Temperament
B. F. Skinner Behavioral Operant Conditioning, Rewards and Punishments for Behaviors
George Kelly Cognitive Self-Reflection, Perception and Interpretation Impact on Behavior
Albert Bandura Social Learning Human Capabilities, Structural Framework, Thinking Processes
Walter Mischel Social Learning Social Variables Explain Human Complexities, Delayed Gratification
Gordon Allport Trait Focus on Positive, Traits are Permanent
Raymond Cattell Trait Factor Analytic Trait Theory, 16 Source Traits Including Temperament and Dynamic, State and Roles Determine Personality
Hans Eysenck Trait Three Factor Theory, Introversion-Extroversion, Neuroticism, Psychoticism

8 Important Business Ethics Cases

For those interested in researching some interesting ethical businesses cases, there are plenty from which to choose. Business leaders may feel squeezed by shareholders to produce profits.  Some have made some ethical blunders in an attempt to remain competitive. Others have used their size to squeeze out the competition.  The following includes some important business ethics cases based on well-known organizations:

  1. Enron – Questionable accounting practices and manipulation of the energy supply brought down this company. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room is an excellent documentary movie that explains the scandal.  Check out an excerpt from Enron’s Code of Ethics.
  2. Monsanto – Monsanto has been criticized for its mega-size.  Critics fear they are taking over the food supply as well as creating negative environmental issues. Check out Monsanto’s Code of Ethics for Chief Executives and Senior Financial Officers.
  3. Arthur Andersen – Arthur Andersen is known for its unethical auditing practices. Check out The Fall of Arthur Andersen for more complete details.
  4. WalMart – Studies have shown that WalMart may save people money but they may also negatively impact communities.  Their low prices may also hurt suppliers. The company received criticism when leadership announced they wanted to hire healthier, more productive employees. WalMart has been accused of being anti-union and has survived sweatshop and discrimination scandals. Check out WalMart’s Statement Regarding Code of Ethics.
  5. Countrywide – The company offered subprime loans that later resulted in default.  Critics have claimed that Countrywide employees told clients that their properties would increase in value and that their loans would be able to be refinanced when market values rose.  The market values declined causing many to lose their homes.  Check out Countrywide’s Code of Ethics.
  6. Beechnut – Beechnut’s ethics came into question when it was discovered that they were selling “apple juice” to foreign countries that contained something less than apple juice.  For more information on this scandal, check out Beechnut’s History and Apple Juice Scandal.
  7. Starbucks – Clustering strategy may force smaller companies out of business. There were so many Starbucks on street corners that movies like Best In Show made fun of how there might be one Starbucks right across the street from another.  Check out Starbucks’ Code of Ethics for CEO and Financial Leaders.
  8. Nike – Manufacturing practices included producing shoes offshore to save money. Nike has used its share of sweatshops in manufacturing. They have come under fire for human rights violations. Check out Nike’s Code of Ethics.

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Could Augmented Reality Technology Inspire the Next Steve Jobs?

One of the biggest obstacles the new entrepreneur faces is coming up with a unique idea.  The Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerbergs of the world have raised the creativity bar.  By creating augmented reality phone apps, certain companies are getting attention.  Autonomy has developed a new technology called Arasmsa that may change how people interact with objects.  It works with a smart phone and can reveal some things that are not readily visible to the naked eye.  Check out the following video:

With the popularity of QR codes and now new technologies like Arasmsa, there is potential for some amazing app possibilities.  For example, you can now point your phone at a magazine and have an app translate the material from one language to another.  There are a variety of augmented reality apps already available on the market.  Check out 40 Best Augmented Reality Phone Apps and 2 Augmented Reality Technologies that are about to Change the World.

The question is who will be the next Zuckerberg or Jobs to create an idea that goes above and beyond what is already out there?  Perhaps they are listed in the article 8 Important Silicon Valley Innovators Not Named Steve Jobs.  Only time will tell.

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Learn Terminology Before Changing Careers

In the current economy, many people have discovered that they must change careers or reinvent themselves in order to keep their current positions.  Some are entering into fields that contain jargon with which they are unfamiliar.  In the article 13 Words Every Sales Training Manager Should Know the author defined words and phrases like:  knowledge transfer, sales enablement, funnel, pipeline and more.  Those entering the field of sales and are unfamiliar with those terms, may feel frustrated and left out of the information loop. 

For those considering a new career, here are some important links to help learn terminology and avoid some embarrassing mistakes:

  1. Terminology Used in Sales
  2. Terminology Used in Business and Entrepreneurship
  3. Terminology Used in Technology
  4. Terminology Used in Online and Education
  5. Terminology Used in Social Networking Sites Like Twitter
  6. Vocabulary Words Adults Should Know
  7. Company Executive Title Explained
  8. Most Misunderstood Entrepreneurial Words
  9. Top Grammar Mistakes
  10. Social Media Writing Mistakes

To find out more about career reinvention click here.

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Chief Officer Abbreviations Explained: CEO, COO, CFO and More

There are a lot of abbreviations for top leadership positions that contain the words “Chief and Officer” in the title. It may be confusing to keep the players straight. It may help to explain that a corporate officer holds a management-level position, such as a President, Vice President, or General Manager. Other common positions include:

  • CEO – Chief Executive Officer – This person is the highest ranking corporate officer.  They are the head of management for an organization.  They report to the board of directors. They make high-level decisions about policy and strategy.  The people that report to the CEO include:  The CBDO (Chief Business Development Officer), CFO (Chief Financial Officer), COO (Chief Operating Officer), CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), CIO (Chief Information Officer), CCO (Chief Communications Officer), CLO (Chief Legal Officer), CTO (Chief Technology Officer), CRO (Chief Risk Officer), CCO (Chief Creative Officer), CCO (Chief Compliance Officer), CAE (Chief Audit Executive), CDO (Chief Diversity Officer), and CHRO (Chief Human Resources Officer).  Steve Jobs was an example of a top CEO.  To find out more about these other chief officer positions, click here.  Check out:  The Best Performing CEO’s in the World.
  • COO – Chief Operating Officer – This person is responsible for the day to day operations or an organization.  Not all companies have one.  In 2006 more than 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies did not have a COO.  This person may also be called the company’s President.  This person could be thought of as the second in command behind the Chairman or CEO.  An example of a top COO is:  Tim Cook was the COO for Apple before replacing Steve Jobs as CEO. Check out: List of Famous Chief Operating Officers.
  • CFO – Chief Financial Officer – This person manages the corporation’s financial risk.  They deal with data analysis, financial planning and record keeping.  Although they report to the CEO, they may also sit on the board of directors.  Peter Oppenheimer is Apple’s CFO.  Check out:  Bonus Babies . . . The Best Paid CFO’s.
  • CMO – Chief Marketing Officer – This person is the head of sales, product development and all things marketing-related.  The CMO can report to either the CEO or COO. Their job is to obtain growth through sales and marketing.  The CMO has become more commonly discussed in recent years.  Check out:  The Chief Marketing Officer . . . A new Boardroom Role.
  • CIO – Chief Information Officer – This person is the head of information technology.  They may report to the CEO, CFO or COO.  They must create strategic goals to increase information accessibility and manage integrated systems.  The CIO and CTO roles are often confused.  Check out:  What is the Difference Between CIO and CTO.

There may be other chief officers’ positions in other industries as well.  For example in hospitals there could be a CMO (Chief Medical Officer), a CNO (Chief Nursing Officer) and a CMIO (Chief Medical Informatics Officer).

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Impact of Boomers Working Past Retirement Years

As people are living longer and the age for receiving social security payments is extended, baby boomers have found that they are working well into what used to be considered retirement years.  USA Today reported, “The Associated Press-LifeGoesStrong.com poll found a baby boom generation planning to work into retirement years — with 73% planning to work past retirement, up from 67% this spring. The poll involved online interviews with 1,095 baby boomers.” According to the Examiner, “boomers are likely going to work five to 10 years longer before retiring.”

There are currently 77 million baby boomers.  This group has found it difficult to retire because “41% of boomers said they are expecting to have to scale back their lifestyle in some way in retirement and 31% believe they will struggle financially.”

Having a lot of baby boomers in the workplace has had an impact on the post-boomer generations.  In the article Millennials Hoping for Boomers to Retire, it was noted that many people who used to retire in their 60s are continuing to work, making it harder for Millennials to find employment.

There are currently four generations coexisting in the workplace. These 4 generations include:

World War II Generation (aka depression babies) – Those born prior to 1945

Baby Boomers – Those born 1946 to 1964

Generation X – Those born 1965 to 1982

Generation Y (aka the Millennials) – Those born after 1982

Baby Boomers represent the largest segment of the American work force.  However, millennials will be replacing the baby boomer group soon.  According to Harvard Business Review /HBR.org, “The makeup of the global workforce is undergoing a seismic shift: In four years Millennials—the people born between 1977 and 1997—will account for nearly half the employees in the world. In some companies, they already constitute a majority.”

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Top 10 Entrepreneurs Who Hit it Big Before Turning 35

There was a time when it was unusual to hear about an entrepreneur becoming successful at a very young age.  With the technology boom, the story is becoming more commonplace.  The following list contains the top 10 entrepreneurs whose dreams came to fruition and made them very rich before they hit the ripe old age of 35.

  1. Apple – Creators:  Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.  Apple was established in 1976, the year Steve Jobs turned 21 and Steve Wozniak turned 26. 
  2. Amazon – Creator:  Jeff Bezos.  Amazon was founded in 1994, the year Jeff Bezos turned 30.
  3. Disney – Creator:  Walt Disney.  Disney was founded in 1923, the year Walt Disney turned 22.
  4. Facebook – Creators:  Mark Zuckerburg and his college roommates Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. Facebook was launched in 2004, the year that Mark Zuckerburg turned 20. 
  5. Google – Creators:  Larry Page and Sergey Brin.  Google was incorporated in 1998 the year that Larry Page and Sergey Brin turned 25.  Google’s IPO was in August of 2004, the year the men turned just 31. 
  6. Groupon– Creator:  Andrew Mason.  Groupon was created in 2008, the year Mason turned 29.
  7. LinkedIn – Creators:  Reid Hoffman and founders from PayPal.  LinkedIn was founded in late 2002 the year that Hoffman turned 35. 
  8. Microsoft – Creators:  Bill Gates and Paul Allen.  Microsoft was established in 1975, the year Bill Gates turned 20 and Paul Allen turned 22.
  9. Twitter – Creator:  Jack Dorsey.  Twitter was created in 2006, the year Dorsey turned 30. 
  10. Yahoo! – Creators: Jerry Yang and David Filo.  Yahoo! was incorporated in 1995, the year that Jerry Yang turned 27 and David Filo turned 29. 

Click on the company names above to find out more details and top stories about these unique companies. 

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Things To Know Before Investing in an IPO

There is a lot of talk about IPOs lately.  IPO stands for initial public offering.  When a company decides to make shares of the company available to the public, it may sound like a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.  However, it may not be easy or sometimes wise to buy into an IPO as soon as it is offered. 

USA Today had an excellent article about Five Things You Should Know Before Investing in an IPO.  According to this article, some of these things include:

  1. Learn the Lingo – Do you know what a red herring is or an IPO offer price?
  2. It’s Difficult to Get In – It may not be impossible, but you may have to be a preferred client.
  3. First-Day Investing May Be Risky – If you like the thrill of rolling the dice, the first day can be a wild ride.
  4. Know the Sales Figures – Find out about the company’s annual sales performance.
  5. Know the Long-Term Outlook – “The Federal Reserve identified two characteristics of successful IPOs in a 2004 study: The companies have been around longer than other companies issuing stock for the first time, and they’re making a profit before they do so.

To learn more about each of these 5 areas, check out the article by clicking the link listed above.

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Top 8 Education-Related Tax Breaks for College Students

As people try to reinvent their careers, many are finding that they need more education in order to obtain their goals.  Attending college can be expensive and yet important investment.  The good news is that there are some tax breaks available to those who take the time to look for them.  The following are some important tax breaks that every prospective and current college student should know according to the Wallstreet Journal’s Back to School article:

  1. American Opportunity Tax Credit – $2500/year offset to taxes with possible $1000 refund
  2. Lifetime Learning Credit – $2000/year possible offset
  3. Student-Loan Interest Deduction – $2500 interest deduction per year
  4. 529 Plans – Earnings aren’t taxed
  5. IRAs – Taxed earnings but no 10% early withdrawal penalty
  6. Employer Assistance – Employers can pay up to $5250 not taxed
  7. Work-Related Education Deductions – Multiple expenses eligible for deductions
  8. Scholarships and Grants – Usually tax-free

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Job Outlook for College Grads in 2011

There is some good news for college graduates right now.  Employment numbers have improved for this group.  The WallStreet Journal reported that college graduates are, “more likely to be working: Unemployment among college grads is 4.2% vs. 9.7% for high-school grads. And they make more: The typical full-time worker with a four-year degree is earning 65% a week more than a high-school grad.”

CNNMoney reported, “College grads are getting offered bigger paychecks for the first time since 2008. Students who will graduate this spring are receiving job offers with starting salaries averaging $50,034 per year, up 3.5% from last year, according to a survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. ” Those obtaining business degrees saw the biggest increase. 

Simply hired lists the average college graduates’ salary at $46,000.  They offer a calculator to find out specific salaries for individual jobs.  Click here for the link to that salary calculator.

The following demonstrates the kind of information this calculator provides based on two jobs that require degrees.  The following are the results for a pharmaceutical sales representative and a high school teacher:

Things may be looking better for college graduates, but there are still 1 out of 6 who have a bachelor’s degree and are unemployed.  These numbers are worse for more recent graduates than those who have been in the job market for a while.  This has led to some pessimistic views by some graduates.  There are those that worry about the country’s economic future and its impact on their own financial future. To read more about this, check out:  Gloom Widespread as College Grades Face New Math.

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Famous People Who Were Fired Paving Way for Better Things

No one wants to hear the words “You’re Fired”!  It might be surprising to see some of the people out there who have been fired, only to come back and make it big later on in their careers.  The article 10 Famous People Who Flourished After Being Laid Off explained how some very famous people like Oprah, Walt Disney, J. K. Rowling and others were let go by some employers who probably wanted to kick themselves later for their decision.

Sometimes losing a job can actually lead to better things down the road.  Check out 50 People Who Failed Before Becoming Successful. Some of these “failures” include Bill Gates and Albert Einstein. 

Although it can be disheartening to lose a job, sometimes it works out for the best in the long run.  The book How to Reinvent Your Career addresses whether anything really is a failure of if it is just a learning experience.  Sometimes people are just in the wrong line of work based on their personality preferences.  When they get fired, it may force them to re-evaluate what is important to them. 

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Companies Rewarding Employees for Entrepreneurial Ideas

Gone are the old days of having a suggestion box at work.  Today’s modern company has set up some much more sophisticated ways of obtaining knowledge and creative ideas from their employees.  The following list contains some useful tools that employers have utilized that have even replaced their need to go to outside consulting firms:

  • Innovative Management Programs – Sites like Brainbank, InnoCentive and Spigit are just a few of the popular sites that companies use to allow employees to submit and vote on ideas.
  • Idea-Management Websites –  PriceWaterhouseCoopers created a company site to gather employees’ input about cost cutting, improving customer service and other ways to improve revenue.  These sites can be very successful.  IdeasAmerica, an association for suggestion administration, surveyed customers and found that ideas submitted by employees saved over $110 million or an average of $1256 per idea
  • Set up KiosksBruce Power is one of many companies who have set up idea kiosks.  Resembling ATMs, these kiosks are easily accessible and allow employees to vote on ideas. 
  • Create Financial IncentivesCompanies may give rewards for employees’ ideas that result in cost savings.  They may receive financial incentives or points to use toward rewards. 
  • Set Up Idea ChallengesAllstate created an online challenge for its employees to come up with some good ideas about how to create their company app. 

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Unusual Uses for QR Codes in the Classroom and Job Market

QR codes are those little barcode looking squares that are popping up everywhere.  They are an excellent marketing tool.  They have some unique applications as well.  The article 50 Great Ways to Use QR Codes in the College Classroom lists some unusual uses such as:

  • Using QR codes on name plates to find instructor office hours
  • Adding QR codes to the syllabus to link to classroom calendar
  • Adding to class announcements to create buzz for upcoming events
  • Linking QR codes to lectures, videos or answers to commonly asked questions
  • Linking QR codes to digital portfolios

These are just some of the unique classroom uses.  Click on the link above to read all 50 uses. 

For more articles about using QR Codes check out:

Stand Out In Job Market with Mini Resume Cards

Combining a resume with a business card in a smart, easy to read fashion, is a great way to capture a future employer’s attention.  ResuMiniMe is a site that has done a nice job of creating such a card.  In just minutes, job-seekers can create a traditional-sized business card that promotes their strengths while serving as a nice ice-breaker for networking opportunities.  Prices start at $90 for 1000 cards.  Gift packages are available.  A free profile on LinkedIn is required. 

They offer two style choices for the back of the card.  A traditional standard style that lists education and experience is one option.  Also offered is the option to include a QR code on the back.  For more information about using QR codes to find a job, click here. 

The following are examples of the cards that can be created on this site.  The back of the card is shown vertically here for easy readability.

Front (although not listed here, a phone number may be included):

Back Traditional:

Back QR Code Version:

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Top 10 Most Misunderstood Entrepreneurial Start-up Words

Some of the most interesting companies right now are considering going IPO?  If you are confused about what that means, you are not alone.  I find that a lot of my students would enjoy reading articles about new start-up companies but avoid them due to the writer’s use of confusing terminology.  Having taught entrepreneurship for many years, I have come up with a list of some of the most misunderstood words that have to deal with entrepreneurs and start-up companies to make things a little easier to understand.  Click on the links provided below for more information about the definition of the term:

  1. Angel Investors – Investors getting startup from self-funded stage to obtaining venture capital.
  2. Bridge Loan – a short-term way to obtain a loan that meets immediate needs for capital.
  3. IPO – Initial Public Offering – when a private company offers stock and becomes a public company. 
  4. Limit Liability Company or LLC – legal form of a company providing limited liability.
  5. Me-Too Product – when competitors’ products are basically indistinguishable for yours.
  6. Portfolio – Holdings of a private investor or institution.
  7. Seed-Funded – investment to start a business until the business can fund itself.
  8. Start-up – Differing opinions on this . . . Check out the article:  How do you define a startup?
  9. Valuation – Company’s market worth.
  10. Venture Capital – Money or capital provided to start a business.  Those providing money may be referred to as Venture Capitalists.

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Top Links for Help with Deciphering Web Analytics

Sites like Alexa, Compete, Google Analytics and Quantcast can give some important data about website visitors.  If these were the only choices available, it might not be so difficult to choose the best tools for web analytics.  However, there are a lot of sites out there.  They may also have some techy jargon. Some terms that may be confusing to some who are trying to decipher the data include:

To explain the importance of the type of visitor, check out the article: Total or Unique Visitors:   What is the Difference? While many people focus on unique visitors, in an article titled Unique Visitors are not Everything, Jakob Nielson was quoted as saying, “Chasing higher unique-visitor counts will undermine your long-term positioning because you’ll design gimmicks rather than build features that bring people back and turn them into devotees and customers.”

To try and keep it all straight and pick the correct site based on individual needs, check out the following top 10 links with information about web analytics, explanations of popular tools and what they measure:

  1. Web Analytics Demystified – Unique visitors ONLY come in one size.
  2. Alexa Analytics Explained – Take a tour of Alexa’s analytics.
  3. Compete Analytics Explained – Where they get their data and PDF of methodology.
  4. Google Analytics Explained – FAQ for all Google Analytics issues.
  5. Quantcast Analytics Explained – FAQ for all Quantcast Analytic issues.
  6. Top 24 Web Analytics Software Packages – Top software packages explained.
  7. 11 Best Web Analytic Tools – Includes Google, Yahoo, Crazy Egg, Compete, and more.
  8. Alltop Web Analytic News – News about all analytic issues.
  9. Web Analytics Review – Side by side comparison of top web analytic tools.
  10. Yahoo! Analytics Explained – FAQ for all Yahoo! Analytics issues.

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Top 20 TED Talks Not To Be Missed

TED.com contains some of the most inspirational, educational and entertaining videos on the Internet.  TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design.  The site shares video-recorded talks given by some of the most intelligent and interesting people in the world.  There are plenty of top TED presentation lists on the Internet, that are created based on people’s interests.  One of the most recent subject-specific lists I’ve seen is 20 Essential Ted Talks for Entrepreneurial Students.  This is an excellent list for potential entrepreneurs. 

However, TED has far more than just entrepreneur-related topics to offer.  If you plan on getting lost on any site on the Internet, do it on TED. I try to view to as many TED talks as I can possibly fit into my schedule.  Of the ones I have watched recently, I have created my own top 20 list of TED talks that I feel should not be missed:

  1. Arthur Benjamin on Doing Mathemagic
  2. Alain de Botton on A Kinder Gentler Philosophy of Success
  3. Ted Pink on the Surprising Science of Motivation
  4. Deb Roy on the Birth of a Word
  5. Dennis Hong on Making a Car for Blind Drivers
  6. Oliver Sacks on What Hallucination Reveals About Our Minds
  7. David Bolinksy on Animating a Cell
  8. Anthony Atala on Printing a Human Kidney
  9. Stewart Brand on Does the World Need Nuclear Energy
  10. Adam Astrow on After Your Final Status Update
  11. Jeff Hawkins on How Brain Science Will Change Computing
  12. John Hodgman on Aliens, Love and Where Are They?
  13. Cameron Herald on Let’s Raise Kids to be Entrepreneurs
  14. Edward Tenner on Unintended Consequences
  15. Misha Glenny on Hire the Hackers!
  16. Gregory Petsko on The Coming Neurological Epidemic
  17. Malcolm Gladwell on Spaghetti Sauce
  18. Joshua Walters on Being Just Crazy Enough
  19. Barry Schwartz on the Paradox of Choice
  20. Steve Jobs on How to Live Before You Die Speech at Stanford

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Women Becoming More Successful Than Men

Women are passing men in their abilities to get a degree, handle families and garner success at work.  As men are falling behind, women are making huge strides.  CNN reported that, “For the first time in history, women are better educated, more ambitious and arguably more successful than men.”

Over half of college degrees are now being awarded to women. “In 1970, men earned 60% of all college degrees. In 1980, the figure fell to 50%, by 2006 it was 43%. Women now surpass men in college degrees by almost three to two. Women’s earnings grew 44% in real dollars from 1970 to 2007, compared with 6% growth for men.”

Women are becoming stronger entrepreneurs as well.  Forbes recently reported:  “As of 2011, it is estimated that there are over 8.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States. Overall, women-owned firms have done better than their male counterparts over the past 14 years. The number of men-owned firms (which represent 51% of all U.S. firms) grew by only 25% between 1997 and 2011—half the rate of women-owned firms.”

A study by Barclays Wealth and Ledbury Research may have some of the answers to why women are surpassing men.  One of the reasons they found is that women are less likely to take unnecessary risks or make rash decisions.  The Huffington Post backed up this point stating, “A 2005 study by Merrill Lynch found that 35% of women held an investment too long, compared with 47% of men. More recently, in 2009, a study by the mutual fund company Vanguard involving 2.7 million personal investors concluded that during the recent financial crisis, men were more likely than women to sell shares of stocks at all-time lows, leading to bigger losses among male traders.”

Check out the following infographic about differences between women and men:
Girls in STEM
Created by: Engineering Degree

Women Dominating Sales Positions

Women are becoming a dominant force in sales positions.  In the article 10 Most Lucrative Industries for Women it was noted, “A recent study found that women are coming to dominate certain areas of sales, a traditionally lucrative field for those who excel. In fact, the study seemed to show that women tend to have better selling skills than men, translating into substantial earnings for saleswomen.”

When women were asked what their top 10 more desired sales careers would be, they chose:

1.    Pharmaceutical Sales

2.    Biotech Sales

3.    Dental Sales

4.    Insurance Sales

5.    Healthcare Sales

6.    IT Sales

7.    Medical Sales

8.    Advertising Sales

9.    Medical Equipment Sales

10.  Real Estate Sales

This is good news for women in the current questionable economy. Monster reported, “In 2010, more employers were willing to invest in their sales forces, having some faith that customers could be cajoled into buying. In October 2010 there were 145,000 more workers employed in sales and related occupations than a year earlier.”

For additional resources about women and sales positions, check out some of the following links:

Women Turning to Cosmetic Sales

Community of Women in Professional Sales

50 Best Careers of 2011

Sales Jobs for Women Search Site

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SitePal and Voki: Add Pizzazz to Your Website or Classroom

There are some fun sites that can be used to animate pictures to add pizzazz to websites or online classrooms.  One of these sites, Voki, is free and is available for non-commercial use.  For commercial use, SitePal starts at just $9.95/month. 

Are you looking for a way to create content for an online classroom?  Consider adding a link to Voki.  “Voki enables users to express themselves on the web in their own voice using a talking character. You can customize your Voki to look like you or take on the identity of lots of other types of characters… animals, monsters, anime etc. Your Voki can speak with your own voice which is added via microphone, upload, or phone. Voki lives on your blog, social network profile and will soon be integrated in various instant messaging platforms. You will also be able to download it to most video supported phones.”

Click on the picture below to see what happens if you add a link to your Voki-created file.   Be sure to hit the play button to hear the message once you get there.

If you are looking for a way to stand out on your website, resume, email signature line, or other form of social media, consider SitePal. “SitePal is an easy-to-use service that allows you to create a speaking avatar for your website and empower your online communication.” Click on the picture below to see that animation. 

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Purchasers from Amazon Responsible for StateTaxes

Article first published as Purchasers from Amazon Responsible for StateTaxes on Technorati.

Amazon has enjoyed an advantage over their competition.  They have not had to add tax to the purchase amount in states where they don’t have a physical presence.  Slate reported, “According to Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, a 1992 Supreme Court ruling, companies are only required to collect sales taxes from their customers when they have a presence in the state in which they reside.”

This has been a sore spot for many of Amazon’s competitors.  Many of them feel that if they should have to handle the taxes for customers, so should Amazon.  This advantage has made them undersell big competitors like the Apple Store and Best Buy. 

Purchasers from the Amazon site may think they are getting a better deal. In reality, there may be taxes owed, but it won’t be by Amazon.  What many people in certain states like Arizona don’t know about their purchases on Amazon, is that it is going to be up to them to keep financial records of what taxes are due.  At the end of the year, when they file their tax returns, these taxes should be included in any amount owed to the government. 

According to the Arizona Republic, “If you buy something online from a retailer who doesn’t have a physical presence in Arizona and they don’t charge state tax or the tax from the state where they’re located, then you’re probably liable for the use tax – the 6.6 percent tax. The safest thing to do is if you buy something online and you get a receipt, save it. It’ll probably show if there was any sales tax from the state where it was charged. If there’s not and there is no Arizona tax, then you should think about paying the use tax on that.”

What if you haven’t kept all of your Amazon receipts?  Go to your account page on Amazon and under Order History, click on Download Order Reports.  This tool allows you to put in the date range of purchases to request a report of purchased items.   

According to Amazon’s site, “Items sold by Amazon.com LLC, or its subsidiaries, and shipped to destinations in the states of Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Dakota, or Washington are subject to tax.”  It is wise to check with your state to see what your tax obligation is.  For more information from Amazon regarding taxes, click here.

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New Site Measures the Future of Social Business

Article first published as New Site Measures the Future of Social Business on Technorati.

Social Business Index is a new site that ranks and scores the social performance of top global companies. The list of companies on this site already includes such giants as Samsung, Coca-Cola, Levi’s, Dell, Target, and IBM. The site is currently free and offers businesses analytics and competitive intelligence to improve social media performance.

According to the SBI site, some of the things they offer for companies include:

  • Company Index – View the rankings and strengths of companies using social business strategies.
  • Industry Performance – View cumulative social business scores for top industries.
  • Trends – View companies on the move and top performers.
  • Social Business Graph – View the strength of the constituents (company, market, employees, partners, influencers) of your social business community and the strengths of the conversations among them.
  • Compare – Compare conversation strength, account strength, and score of your company and its competitors.
  • Filter Settings – Filter your view by contexts built from region, subsidiary, department, or brand.

SBI is a project of Dachis Group, one of the world’s largest social business management consultancies.  According to ZDNet, “The new platform currently analyzes hundreds of millions of signals from tens of thousands of companies, through the use of natural language processing, machine learning, and clustering algorithms in near real-time.”

 

Social Business Intelligence is a hot topic right now because businesses can use this analytic information to deliver actionable information and make critical decisions.   According to TheNextWeb, “That treasure trove of data and potential insight is ripe for analysis and insight to understand the impact and value of a particular activity. That insight can be immediately acted on to optimize the strategies of a brand because of the unique nature of social’s authentic, two way communication with the market. Not only does this provide the potential for superior marketing results, but creates the opportunity to test many messages with many segments and measure them individually (in a way, similar to the unique A/B testing of performance marketings simpler marketing activities).”

Famous Computer Geniuses with Asperger’s

 

In a recent TED.com talk by Misha Glenny, titled Hire the Hackers,Glenny noted at the end of his talk that many famous computer hackers have characteristics that are consistent with Asperger’s Syndrome.  He mentioned he discussed this with Professor of Development Psychopathology at Cambridge, Simon Baron-Cohen, who “confirmed Gary McKinnon who is wanted by the United States for hacking into the Pentagon suffers from Asperger’s.  Cohen explained that certain disabilities can manifest themselves in the hacking computer world as tremendous skills.”

This is not the first time that there has been mention of famous hackers having this disorder.  Adrian Lamo, once hunted by the FBI, was institutionalized and diagnosed with Asperger’s.  Cnet News recently reported, “Ryan Cleary, the 19-year-old charged in the U.K. on five counts of computer hacking activity, has Asperger’s syndrome.”

According to Wired.com, “There are no reliable figures on how many people have Asperger’s, but anecdotally a lot of them are drawn into the computer field, particularly the logic-heavy world of coding. BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen has diagnosed himself with the disorder, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates is frequently speculated to have it.” According to Businessweek, Bram Cohen’s disorder is, “a condition that keeps him rooted in the world of objects and patterns, puzzles and computers, but leaves him floating, disoriented, in the everyday swirl of human interactions.” In the movie The Social Network, some of the mannerisms that the Mark Zuckerberg character displayed may have implied he had Asperger’s as well.

Some other famous minds that have been noted as having Asperger’s include Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton.  The article, The Potential Genius of Asperger’s contains a long list of famous people who have been thought to have this disorder.

Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen developed an AQ test that measures the Autism Spectrum Quotient.  “In the first major trial using the test, the average score in the control group was 16.4. Eighty percent of those diagnosed with autism or a related disorder scored 32 or higher. The test is not a means for making a diagnosis, however, and many who score above 32 and even meet the diagnostic criteria for mild autism or Asperger’s report no difficulty functioning in their everyday lives.” To take the Asperger’s test, click here.

The following is Misha Glenny’s talk from TED:

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Facebook Now Allows Subscriptions to Your Site

Facebook announced a new feature that will allow for people to expand their exposure on Facebook.  People can subscribe to your feed if you set it up for them to do so.  This is a useful tool for companies who have a profile but not a separate Facebook page to promote.  Without having a page set up, the profile site previously required an acceptance by the owner for people to view the content. 

With the new subscribe feature, all that has to be done to allow others to view the profile, is for the owner of the profile to look for the word subscriptions under their profile picture.  By clicking on that, they can enable others to see their updates.

 

This isn’t the only change announced by Facebook. According to TechCrunch, “In addition to Subscriptions, Facebook is also making it easier to tweak the amount and types of content that show up your News Feed. Now, when you’re viewing a user’s profile, you’ll be able to hit a button and choose from three subscription settings:

  • All updates: Everything your friend posts
  • Most updates: The amount you’d normally see
  • Important updates only: Just highlights, like a new job or move

You’ll also be able to choose what kinds of content you want to see (for example, you could opt to block all game-related updates from one of your friends, but keep their photo updates).”

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Top 10 Companies’ Code of Ethics and Conduct

Companies have something called a code of ethics that outlines how they will run their business.  Sometimes they refer to this as their code of conduct. There aren’t always laws to govern things like ethics.  Therefore, it is up to companies to define some of their ethical behavior.

via searchenginewatch.com – Google a Little Evil

According to the International Labor Organization, “Unlike labor law, corporate codes of conduct do not have any authorized definition. The concept “corporate code of conduct” refers to companies’ policy statements that define ethical standards for their conduct. There is a great variance in the ways these statements are drafted. Corporate codes of conduct are completely voluntary. They can take a number of formats and address any issue – workplace issues and workers’ rights being just one possible category. Also, their implementation depends totally on the company concerned.”

Click here for an article on the difference between laws and ethics.

The following is a list of some major companies and their code of ethics:

In researching these companies, it was interesting that Facebook didn’t have a clearly defined code of ethics listed in the same way other companies did.  For more about Facebook, check out the Wall Street Journal article:  Facebook Agrees to Work With Government on Germany Privacy Code.

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Scary Things Doctors Do: New Investigative Tool for Patients

Most doctors do wonderful things. They take care of their patients and work very hard. I’m married to a fantastic doctor, so I know they exist.  However, having spent 15 years as a pharmaceutical representative, I saw some scary things out there.  It’s important to keep in mind that someone had to graduate last in their class.  Here is a list of things that I actually saw occur in doctors’ offices while I was in the field.

  1. Illegal drug use in doctor’s office – There was one office where the receptionist actually had her boyfriend shoot something (I assume heroine) into her arm while I talked to her through the glass partition that separated the waiting room from the doctor’s area.  The reaction she got from the medication made it clear it was some form of illegal substance.  The doctor walked right by and had no reaction. 
  2. Doctors popping pills – There was one doctor I called on who would take Prozac while he chatted, bragging, “I take these things to lose weight.”  This same guy was always popping some form of pill, usually for an off-label use.
  3. Doctors committing fraud – Another doctor in my territory was arrested for charging the government for testing blood that he never actually tested.
  4. Doctors not using best medications to save money – I called on a doctor who once told me that he would not prescribe a drug that he thought he was good for his patients because, as he put it, “that comes out of my budget  . . . if they go to the ER, someone else pays for it.”  He had no problem telling me that he didn’t mind if his patients suffered if it meant he could make a few more bucks from the HMO. 
  5. Doctors getting paid by pharmaceutical companies – It is not unusual for a doctor to get paid to speak for certain pharmaceutical companies.  I remember calling on a particular doctor who made it very clear that he not only spoke for a particular company but also had a great deal of stock in that company. Because of this relationship, he had no intention of using competitive products even if they were better. 

The good news is that the Internet allows for patients investigate issues with their doctors.  According to the article, How To Find Out if Your Doctor and Drugmakers Are In A Relationship, “The nonprofit investigative journalism outfit ProPublica has a tool you can use to see how much money your doctor has received from drug companies.”  To find out if your doctor is profiting from drug companies, click here to go to the ProPublica site.

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Researching Apple: Top 10 Most Useful Links

The following list was created to put all of the most useful information about Apple in one easy to find location:

  1. When Was Apple Incorporated?  “Apple was incorporated in the state of California on January 3, 1977.”
  2. When Apple Went IPO Apple’s initial public offering was on December 12, 1980 at $22 per share. “The stock has split three times since the IPO so on a split-adjusted basis the IPO share price was $2.75.”
  3. Apple’s Mission Statement:   Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings.  The Apple website officially lists their mission statement as:  “Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork, and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced its magical iPad which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.”
  4. How to Find Up to the Minute Price on Apple Stock Apple’s ticker symbol is AAPL – click here for 20 minute delayed price.
  5. The First Apple Logo Featured Isaac Newton Newton was sitting under a tree with an apple about to fall on his head.
  6. The Name iPod Came From 2001: A Space Odyssey “As soon as I saw the white iPod, I thought 2001,” Chieco told Wired in 2006. “Open the pod bay door, Hal! Then it was just a matter of adding the ‘i’ prefix, as in ‘iMac.'”
  7. Apple Lists Detailed Information About their Environmental Footprint:  The Apple site lists their total footprint including information from manufacturing, transportation, product use, recycling and facilities.
  8. Apple’s Annual Report  “Apple does not produce a glossy annual report. Apple’s Form 10-K is available on our website. If you require a hard copy, go to the Request Information form and select the Form 10-K.”
  9. Apple’s Dividend History:  Find Apple dividend and stock split information.  Apple has had three 2- for-1 stock splits in 1987, 2000 and 2005.
  10. Apple Press Releases: This link includes all press releases, including Steve Jobs’ Retirement Letter to the Apple Board of Directors.

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Famous People Capitalizing on Manic Depression

Manic depression or bipolar disorder is a mood disorder where people experience abnormal levels of high energy or depressive states. While generally thought of as a disorder, there are many examples of people who have this disorder and used it to their advantage.

In the article Manic Depression: The CEO’s Disease, the author points out that many leaders can be successful due to the mania involved.  They also may not even realize they have the disorder.  “On average, it takes 10 years from the onset of the illness for a manic depressive to receive a correct diagnosis. In the interim, some of them do very well in business. And as more and more such sufferers come forward, many psychiatrists are convinced that their good fortune is at least partly a result of their illness. Dr. Sagar Parikh, head of the Bipolar Clinic at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto, says 10% of those who have manic depression actually perform better in their jobs than a “healthy” individual. “[Manic depression] gives them that extra bit of panache to do the big deal,” says Parikh.”

In Joshua Walters’ Ted.com video, he points out the importance of being just crazy enough. He explains that as a performer, the crazier he is on stage, the more entertaining the audience finds his act.   He decided to embrace his illness and now walks the line between what he calls mental illness and mental skillness.  He points out that there is a movement to reframe the hypomanic part of the illness and to look at it is a positive.  He refers to John Gartner’s book The Hypomanic Edge where Gartner writes about how this edge allows people to compete.  Walters explains that being this way maybe doesn’t mean you are crazy, but that you are more sensitive to what others can’t see or feel. 

In the New York Times article Just Manic Enough:  Seeking Perfect Entrepreneurs, author David Segal explained how people could take advantage of being in the bipolar spectrum.  Segal noted, “The attributes that make great entrepreneurs, the experts say, are common in certain manias, though in milder forms and harnessed in ways that are hugely productive. Instead of recklessness, the entrepreneur loves risk. Instead of delusions, the entrepreneur imagines a product that sounds so compelling that it inspires people to bet their careers, or a lot of money, on something that doesn’t exist and may never sell.”

Tom Wooten, author founder of the Bipolar Advantage, has made it his “mission to help people with mental conditions shift their thinking and behavior so that they can lead extraordinary lives.” He sees it as being bipolar without requiring the word disorder.

The following is a list of famous successful people who have been labeled as having manic depression:

Ted Turner Manic Depression

Jim Carey Manic Depression

Abraham Lincoln Manic Depression

Vincent Van Gogh Manic Depression

Christopher Columbus Manic Depression

Edgar Allen Poe Manic Depression

Steve Jobs Manic Depression

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Manic Depression

Ludwig van Beethoven Manic Depression

Robin Williams Manic Depression

For a more complete list of famous people with manic depression, click here.

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An Entrepreneur’s Startup Business Model Checklist

Whether they write it down or keep it in their head, the new entrepreneur keeps a checklist about any new big idea they may be considering.  Startup expert Steve Blank has created a video series for the new entrepreneur on Udemy where he explains the importance of this checklist.

Udemy is a site where online courses can be created about any subject.  “Udemy’s goal is to disrupt and democratize the world of education by enabling anyone to teach and learn online.” There is a wealth of knowledge on the Udemy site.  Entrepreneurs can search the site for relevant courses to help them with their business ventures.

In a recent presentation about entrepreneurs and their business model checklist, “ Steve Blank outlines a few points of necessary focus for the emerging business start-up, including market opportunity, market regulations and distribution, competitors and complimentors, and technology breakthroughs. He notes that the customer is not always the same thing as the payer, and that this bifurcation is creating interesting new business models.”

 

The following are the links for Blank’s entrepreneurial presentations:  

An Entrepreneur’s Checklist

Is First to Market the Best?

Vertical vs. Horizontal Markets

Market Risk and Technology Risk

The Entrepreneur and the Family

Blank’s Entire One Hour Talk

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How to Publish or Self-Publish Your Book

Today’s Ask Dr. Diane:  I am thinking about publishing a book.  What do I need to know about finding a publisher or trying to self-publish?

It can be quite challenging to get your first book published through a large publishing house.  Many new authors find that they must end up self-publishing.  Some are choosing to self-publish now because of the way that the industry is changing as well.

Seth Godin, is a well-established author who used to use the big publishing houses, recently decided to self-publish.  Godin decided to do this because he had enough customer relationships and felt he no longer needed the publisher.  Publishers can offer a lot of advantages for a new author.  However, once an author is established and has identified their audience, they may not be as necessary.  According to the Wall Street Journal Godin is quoted as saying, “Publishers provide a huge resource to authors who don’t know who reads their books. What the Internet has done for me, and a lot of others, is enable me to know my readers.”

If you decide to go the publisher house route, here are some things you must keep in mind.  There is a very high probability that publishers will turn down you book unless you have an agent, a strong proposal, a very unique book idea, and most importantly a strong platform. 

The word platform gets tossed around quite a bit in the publishing world.  What they mean when they say they want you to have a strong platform is that they want you to have a “following” of people that will probably already want to buy your book once it comes out.  They would like to see you have a popular blog, a TV show, a radio show, are a celebrity or have written previous books, etc.  If you don’t have a platform, there is a good chance that they will turn you down. 

If you do have a platform and want to use a publishing house, you will need to start the process by finding an agent.  To do this, you must develop a query letter.  Once you develop a good query letter, you will send this to agents that handle the type of writing that interests you.  I suggest reading Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents.

Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents 2011: Who They Are! What They Want! How to Win Them Over! (Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents) Cover

Once you send your query letters to agents, you may get some that respond.  If so, you must be prepared to have a strong book proposal to give them.  There are plenty of books about how to write a book proposal based on the type of book (fiction or nonfiction). There is a very specific format about how to write a proposal and it is important that you stick to that format.  The proposal will contain several things including some brief information about the proposed chapters. 

Many people think they need to have written the complete book prior to finding an agent. This is not true.  It is good to have one solid chapter to send to the agent, though, in case they do like your proposal.  Do not send this chapter until it is requested though.  It is important to start with the query letter. If there is interest, then you would send the proposal.  If there is interest, then you would send the sample chapter. 

If you cannot get a publishing house to publish your book, many people go the route of self-publishing.  There are some very simple ways to self-publish including using Amazon’s CreateSpace. Sites like this have made it easier and less expensive than ever before to get your book published.  The nice thing is that the days of having to print large amounts of books that require storage are gone.  With sites like Createspace, books are printed as they are ordered. 

Self-publishing has changed the publishing industry.  Because of sites like Amazon, many stores like Borders have had to close their doors.  People have enjoyed the ability to have a variety of book choices and the ease of ordering online. 

If you do decide to self-publish, be sure that you have a good editor and an indexer.  Createspace and others like them, offer help with a lot of things like cover design and more.  The more things that you need help with, the more it will cost.  However, these sites have made self-publishing a much easier and more realistic choice for authors than anything offered in the past.

Social Networking Use Doubled: Future for Neuromarketing

Recent Pew Research found that 65% of adult online users are taking advantage of social media sites. That is more than double the 29% of users in 2008.  According to Pew, “The pace with which new users have flocked to social networking sites has been staggering; when we first asked about social networking sites in February of 2005, just 8% of internet users – or 5% of all adults – said they used them.”  With such an increase in adults frequenting social media sites, this could have a dramatic impact on how companies market their products.

Adults are making social networking a normal part of their daily routine.  The only part of daily Internet usage by adults that takes up more time than social networking was checking email and using search engines.   Women were more likely to use social networking than men. Young adult usage has been more stable, while older users are increasing their frequency. 

Half of American adults now use Facebook. This increase in how people use the Internet has a strong impact on how marketers must focus their advertising.  Previous research has already shown that women were more likely to use the “like” button on Facebook.  However, this requires action on the part of the user to hit the “like” button. 

Now the trick would be to somehow combine neuromarketing with social networking. If there are QR readers that can read information, what is next . . . eye tracking programs to register product appeal?  Eye tracking is just one form of neuromarketing.  Neuromarketing is one of many routes that the future of advertising may be headed.  Several companies have used neuromarketing techniques.  “Frito-Lay has been studying female brains to learn how to better appeal to women. Findings showed the company should avoid pitches related to “guilt” and guilt-free and play up “healthy” associations.” 

Now if the programmers who created the QR reader can create an app for eye tracking, think of the neuromarketing possibilities.  If women are flocking to social media sites, companies like Frito-Lay could use these techniques to find out much more about the appeal of their products.  This possibility may not be so far off in the future.

Make a Free Easy App Without iTunes

It can be quite frustrating and difficult to create an app that iTunes will accept.  I found a quick little way to create a free app that is easily accessed through a site called ConduitMobile.  You need to access the site to create the app through Safari instead of Explorer though.  If you don’t have Safari, you can download that easily for free.  

Once on the ConduitMobile site, it is very simple to create a decent app that contains things like RSS feeds, websites, Youtube feeds, contact forms and more.  When you are finished creating the app, you can test it on your computer screen to see how it looks.  When you are happy with the app, you can simply pick the option of “Web-based App Open on Mobile Phone”.  This will generate a QR code that you can scan with your QR Reader.  You can have this QR code and link sent to your email address.

If you scan the QR code, that will open the page to your app on your phone.  At this point, you click on the icon at the bottom of your iPhone that looks like a circle with a pen in it.  At that point, it will ask you if you want to open in Safari.  Pick yes and this will open up the website on your phone so that you can save it to your home screen. 

To see how it works, scan this code into your reader or click here to see more about the code and app.  By scanning in my code listed below, you can have access to my articles, Youtube videos and more on your iPhone. 

An even easier way to get the app onto your iPhone is to just use the link that is sent to your email that contains the QR code.  The link for the one above is http://drdianehamilton.mobapp.at/.  Simply open the site like this one on your phone and save it to your desktop.  You can also go to that link and forward it to people by entering their email address.  Keep in mind though that, unlike an app you download from iTunes, this app will be web-based and will require an Internet connection to display the information. 

Watch the following video for step by step directions about how to create your free app without having to go through iTunes:

Top Sites to Find Statistics and Charts for Writing Articles

Have you ever wondered where journalists find all of those great charts and graphs to show their statistics?  Here is a list of some of the most helpful free sites to find important data and charts to use when doing research for articles:

  • Alexa.com – “Free traffic metrics, search analytics, demographics, and more for websites.
  • Census Figures:  U S Census Bureau – Topics Include: People and Households, Business and Industry, Geography, Fraudulent Activities and Scams, Newsroom and Related Sites that include information about Jobs, Research Programs and Other Agencies.
  • Labor Statistics:  U S Department of Labor – Topics Include:  Inflation, Pay and Benefits, Consumer Spending, Unemployment, Employment, Workplace Injuries, and Productivity.
  • Morningstar.com – “Morningstar provides stock market analysis; equity, mutual fund, and ETF research, ratings, and picks; portfolio tools; and option, hedge fund, IRA, 401k, and 529 plan research.
  • Nationmaster.com – “a massive central data source and a handy way to graphically compare nations.”
  • Pew Research Center – Numbers, Facts and Trends:   – Topics Include:  Population Trends, Domestic Policy, Economics, Elections, Energy and Environment, Foreign Affairs, Immigration, Internet and Technology, Legal, News Media, Politics and Elections, Polling, Public Opinion, Religion, Research Methodology, and Social Trends.
  • Quantcast.com – “Free direct audience measurement for all website owners including traffic, demographics, business, lifestyle, interests and more.
  • Real Time World Statistics:  Worldometers – Topics Include:  Current World Population, Current Government and Economics Statistics, Current Society and Media Statistics, Current Environment Statistics,  Current Food Water and Energy Statistics, and Current Health Statistics.

Related articles

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WorldBank Countries and Economies Statistics

Statistics Every Writer Should Know

Steve Jobs Resigns as CEO of Apple

Steve Jobs has officially resigned from Apple.   Jobs picked Tim Cook as his successor.   Apple shares fall after Jobs’ resignation announcement but ended slightly up at the end of the day.  WSJOnline.com has a very complete article about Steve Jobs’ resignation including a slideshow of his life. 

The following from TechCrunch shows his letter of resignation to the board of directors:

steve-jobs1
 

Title says it all. More to come. For now, the letter from Steve Jobs himself:

To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

Steve

Update: Apple has confirmed that Apple COO Tim Cook will replace Jobs as CEO, following Jobs’ own recommendation. Considering that Cook has filled in for Jobs in the times of his medical leaves (including the one he has been on this year), this has been widely expected if and when it came time for Jobs to step down.

Does Your Current Job or Future Job Pay a Fair Salary?

There are a number of salary-related sites that include helpful information for the career-seeker, currently employed person, or employers to find out what jobs are actually worth.  In the past Salary.com was the go-to site for many underwriters analyzing job salaries as well as a place for job-seekers to gain helpful insight as to what jobs pay. 

Payscale.com is another free site that includes everything from salary information, career research/planning, to education help, and job listings.  What is nice about Payscale.com is the amount of charts, graphs and general helpful information that is provided in a user-friendly format. 

If you are interested in finding out what you are worth, you can take their “know your worth quiz”.  Within that quiz, you can pick options that most closely resemble your situation, i.e., if you are currently employed and want to know your market value. Should you choose that option, after answering questions about your current position, it gives you a free detailed report with information like:

  • How your compensation compares to your peers
  • Would more education be worth it in your profession
  • Ability to browse job listings
  • See career details from people like you
  • Find out cost of living in other cities
  • Research current or future employer
  • Advice from people like you

There are also numerous charts that include information like your average salary range and your health benefits.

If you are not currently employed, there are other options on the quiz, including:

  • If you have a job offer, if the offer is high enough
  • What other jobs pay
  • If you are the employer, are you paying people enough

There are a vast number of charts and graphs that contain helpful information for job-seekers, those currently employed as well as employers.  Some of the more helpful reports include:

For those interested in the education information the site, you can find out if your college tuition has a good return on investment

If you are considering obtaining a college degree, check out the best undergrad college degrees by salary:

 
Degrees Degrees
Methodology
Annual pay for Bachelors graduates without higher degrees. Typical starting graduates have 2 years of experience; mid-career have 15 years. See full methodology for more.

Increasing Motivation, Right vs. Left Brain, MBTI and Who Will Rule the World

Dan Pink, author of several books about motivation and left vs. right brain thinking, presented a very entertaining and informative talk at a TED.com conference called Dan Pink on the Surprising Science of Motivation. The premise of his presentation was that there is a mismatch between what science knows about, and what business does, in terms of motivating people. 

He made a strong argument for the importance of how having autonomy may help creativity.  A famous example he used is how Google allows employees to spend 20% of their time working on any project they want.  He noted how ½ of all products developed at Google are created during this time.  He argued for something he called ROWE which stands for Results Only Work Environment.  This is when people don’t have to have schedules, attend meetings or do anything specific other than to be sure that they get their work done.  By following these guidelines studies have shown it will increase productivity and reduce turnover. 

Two of Pink’s books include:  Drive . . . The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us; and A Whole New Mind . . .Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the World.  After looking through his book on “right-brainers”, I found a lot of what he had to say to be quite interesting.  He pointed out the importance of empathy which is a big part of emotional intelligence.  For my dissertation, I studied quite a bit about empathy and the part it plays in one’s emotional intelligence.  Researchers like Daniel Goleman, Ruevan Bar-On and others have shown that emotional intelligence can be developed.  In this respect, what Pink had to say is good news for everyone because we can all work on becoming more empathetic. 

The part of Pink’s information that may not be such good news for me and others like me is that he thinks that, as you can see from the title of his book, right-brainers will rule the world.  Before reading any further, you might want to take this right or left brain quiz to find out your type.  I’ll let you know that I received a 2 which means I am strongly left-brained.  Not much right-brained thinking going on here!

To define the difference between left and right-brained, think of it this way:  Left-brainers are sequential, logical and analytical.  Right-brainers are non-linear, intuitive and holistic. 

His theory supports that those with a high N or Intuitive personality type in the Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI) may be the ones who rule the world.  The N is the opposite of the S or Sensing personality who uses their senses rather than intuition in their processing of information.  In my training to become a qualified Myers Briggs instructor, I learned quite a bit about the differences between the personality types assigned by the MBTI. One of the main things researchers have found is that your MBTI results don’t change much over time.  It’s about preferences . . . .like whether you prefer to write with your right or your left hand. Think of the MBTI results as your preferences for how you obtain information and this won’t change.  So if you are an intuitive or an “N”, you will always be an intuitive and if you are a sensor or “S”, you will always be a sensor.  Some people may be very close to the middle of the scale between S and N and so their results won’t be as cut and dry as they may find their type changes slightly when they take the MBTI.   

Dichotomies
Extraversion (E) – (I) Introversion
Sensing (S) – (N) Intuition
Thinking (T) – (F) Feeling
Judgment (J) – (P) Perception

In our book, It’s Not You It’s Your Personality, Toni Rothpletz and I gave several examples of famous people with different MBTI results.  The qualities of the right-brainer, as described by Pink, fall very much into the category of the “N” or intuitive personality portion of the 4 letter type given by MBTI. What is interesting to me is that less than half of people have an “N” or intuitive personality type according to Myers-Briggs MBTI which is close to the about 50% figure experts say are right-brained. 

If our type is pretty much set in stone, then 50% of us aren’t going to rule the world!  I guess I am OK with that.  However, I do take solace in knowing that my MBTI personality type, ESTJ, accounts for l0-12% of the population and of that population some very big names also share that type including Sam Walton, creator of WalMart.  He may not have ruled the world, but he came pretty darn close.

How to Use QR Codes on Your Resume and Business Cards

QR codes are the latest thing in marketing.  They are in the newspapers, on billboards and on just about every kind of marketing material you can imagine. Now you can utilize this amazing new technology to make your business card and/or resume stand out from the rest.  This is an innovative way to show prospective employers that you are tech savvy.  It also can redirect them to important information on your website that you cannot include in your resume. 

Here is an example of how to put one on your business card. 

Anyone with a smartphone that has an app for reading QR codes can easily point their phone at your card and find out more information about you.  If you don’t have a QR reader app on your phone, they are easy to download from sites like iTunes and they are free.  I use QR Reader for iPhone.  Once you have the app on your phone, open it, and point the phone’s camera at the square on my card.  See how it directs you to a site. 

The QR codes are simple to create.  Check out this article:  how to create your own QR codes.

Here is an example of how to include them on your resume:

 
If you used your reader to scan these codes listed here, you can see they each will send you to a different site.  You may just want to send them to your LinkedIn page or some other website that showcases your abilities.  You could create a presentation in Google Docs or on YouTube that would make you stand out from the crowd.  If you have always felt that you could get that job if only they could see you, now is your chance.  Just be careful to create quality content on the site where you direct potential employers. 

To see QR codes in action, check out this video about how QR codes are changing the way people shop:

Neuromarketing: The Future of Advertising

In Morgan Spurlock’s movie, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, there is a scene where they discuss neuromarketing. Spurlock is put into an MRI machine and shown product images.  The information obtained showed dopamine was released when he looked at images of Coca Cola.  His desire for the product was actually visible on the brain scan. 

What is neuromarketing?  Tech.FAQ defines neuromarketing as, “a field of marketing that involves studying the way people react to marketing techniques and adjusting those techniques to maximize sales and inform the public about a specific product, idea, or campaign. Neuromarketing includes the use of biometric sensors, social studies, and subliminal messaging. While neuromarketing is a relatively new technique, it has been widely implemented in recent years and nearly every marketing agency and medium-large company in the world now uses it.”

Just less than a year ago the question was asked:  Is neuromarketing the future?  AdvertisingAge stated, “Neuromarketing offers a chance to get accurate, factual data about the buying habits of target markets.” However, they also pointed out that, “At the end of the day, neuromarketing is still in its infancy. A technology that is unproven outside of laboratory conditions, prohibitively expensive, and potentially a legal minefield is a technology that requires a lot of capital and a solid brand to experiment with.”

The future may be here sooner than anticipated.  Combining neuroscience and marketing may just be the next big thing available through the use of apps.  ThreeMinds reported, “large companies like Google, Disney, Microsoft and Chevron have already begun to dip their toes in the neuromarketing waters.  And research vendors have responded, recently announcing the availability of portable EEG devices that can wirelessly transmit brain scans to iPads, as well as “full-brain home panels” for original research studies.”

Marketing professionals may be able to use this technology prior to products coming onto market.  Currently researchers from Duke and Emery are studying how products appeal to the human brain

iTunes offers a free series of videos from the University of Warwick about neuromarketing. In these videos, find out how “Cognitive neuroscience has revolutionized our understanding of the consumer’s brain – a fact with huge implications for business and marketing…you will hear from practitioners, clients and academics at the forefront of neuromarketing. Hear how neuroscience is being applied commercially to research and develop new products and services, improve the effectiveness of communications and boost revenue.”

Young Adults and Unique Identity Theft Issues

As more people have embraced technology, more opportunities for identity theft have been created.  PC Magazine author Larry Seltzer interviewed a cyber-crimes expert and found that there are some unique new ways that people have their identities stolen.  One of the things that may come as a surprise is that misconfigured peer-to-peer apps like Limewire can share information from your “My Documents” folder. 

While you may be hip to the Nigerian scams, you may not be aware of skimmers on ATMs that can read your credit cards. Seltzer explains, “These are devices which install over the reader appear to be part of the machine. When you insert your card the skimmer reads it and records the information on it. They are often used in combination with surreptitious cameras to record the keys you press for the PIN. Skimmers are especially popular on gas pump, but they are also being used on the smaller point of sale readers found in stores.”

CNN Money reported that the top consumer complaint is identity fraud.  “The Federal Trade Commission counted 250,854 complaints about identity theft in 2010, according to a report issued Tuesday. That was 19% of the 1.3 million total complaints the agency received, putting it at the top of the consumer complaint list for the 11th year in a row. The most common form of identity theft was through fraudulent government documents. Credit card fraud garnered the second highest number of identity theft complaints, followed by phone and utilities fraud.”

Many young adults are going back to school soon.  College students may feel they are invincible and not notice identity theft as quickly as they should.  They are less likely to track their bank accounts and credit card statements.  Mainstreet.com reported, “Studies have shown that it takes 18- to 24-year-old Americans twice as long to find out they’ve been the victim of I.D. fraud – which is usually too late to do anything about it.”

Wells Fargo has come up with tips for college students to safeguard their financial information.

Fraudpreventionunit.org also has listed 10 Tips for an Identity-Theft Free 2011.

Doctors’ Time Running Out To Meet HIPAA 5010 Requirements

Effective January 1, 2012 there will be a new HIPAA 5010 version that will be a required for doctors to use for electronic filing.  If physicians don’t use version 5010 for all HIPAA electronic transactions by that date, their claims will be rejected and they won’t be paid.  Doctors are feeling the pressure to get their systems ready for this change.  Many physican practices have not embraced the electronic age as well as other businesses have and are now behind the eight ball, scrambling to meet these new standards.  

Medcost.com reported, “The purpose of 5010 is to facilitate the country’s ongoing goal of transitioning to an electronic health care environment by updating the current standards for electronic health care and pharmacy transactions. The updated 5010 versions replace the current versions of the standards and will promote greater use of electronic transactions. This change has been driven by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).”

There are some helpful resources to show doctors how to prepare for this transition.  GetReady5010 offers free webinars.  The AMA also has some excellent resources. Despite all of these free offerings, many physicians are not prepared for this change. American Med News reported, “Many physicians have not even begun to see if they are compliant with what are known as HIPAA Version 5010 standards. According to a survey released in March by the Medical Group Management Assn., 56% of practices have not scheduled any internal testing for 5010, and 61% have not scheduled any testing with their major health plans. The survey covered 349 practices with 13,290 doctors.”

What’s new in the HIPAA 5010 version? Some of the changes include: 

  • Physicians must submit a nine-digit, rather than a five-digit, ZIP code
  • Physicians may distinguish between principal diagnosis, admitting diagnosis, external cause of injury and patient reason for visit codes
  • 5010 set will allow for the inclusion of ICD-10 codes

Nextgen.com listed the following frequently asked questions relate to HIPAA 5010 to help understand requirements.  Click on the links for answers to each of the questions. 

  1. What is HIPAA 5010?
  2. Who will need to upgrade to HIPAA 5010?
  3. Why must I upgrade to HIPAA 5010?
  4. How is HIPAA 5010 different from HIPAA 4010?
  5. What are the key dates for HIPAA 5010 and what is the deadline for HIPAA 5010 implementation?
  6. What happens if I’m not ready by the compliance deadline?
  7. Is there a chance for a delay in the compliance date?
  8. What do I need to do to prepare for the upgrade to 5010?
  9. If I finish all of this work before the compliance deadline, can I start to use the 5010 transactions?
  10. What provider transactions are implemented with HIPAA 5010?
  11. Where can you obtain the X12 Technical Reports?

Who is Buying Stocks When Everyone Is Selling?

With the recent stock market drop, there was a mass sale off of stocks.  This may lead to the question:  If everyone is selling, is there a chance that there are stocks that no one wants to purchase?  The answer is technically no.  There are always as many buyers as there are sellers and that keeps the system going. 

If you are wondering who would want to buy stocks when the market is going down, the answer is:  a lot of people.  Some shares are picked up through options and some are picked up through money managers that have been waiting for a strike price. 

There are many people who set up stock limit orders so that when a stock hits a certain dollar amount, it is automatically purchased.  According to Money.cnn.com, “If you place a market order with your broker, then you are saying that you’re willing to buy at whatever happens to be the prevailing price for the stock. If you have a specific price in mind, you can set a limit order specifying the price you’re willing to pay. If the stock dips down to that level, your order will be automatically filled. Limit orders can be left open for a single day (a day order) or indefinitely (good until canceled). After you’ve bought a stock, you can instruct your broker to sell it if the price drops to a level you specify (a stop loss order). That’s a kind of insurance; it means that no matter what happens to a stock’s price you’ll never lose more than a specified amount.”

Some may look at this as legalized gambling.  A capitalist is always on the look out to get a better price or better dividend yield.  Dividend yields are based on the price of the stock.  If the stock goes down, the yield may go up.  For example since dividends are in dollar amounts and not percentages, if a $1 dividend is divided by a $20/share price then the dividend yields 5%.  If that $1 dividend is divided by an $18/share price then that dividend yields more at 5.5%.

The sheer volume of trading is staggering.  A local stock broker looked up today’s trade volume.  For August 9, 2011, 9 billion shares traded. 

Loss Leaders and the Old Bait and Switch

Go Daddy is in the news right now due to their consideration of global expansion. One of the ways they have become so successful is that they utilized a marketing technique where they offered a “loss leader”.  For those who have not taken a business course, this term may not be familiar.  The Business Dictionary defines a loss leader as a, “Good or service advertised and sold at below cost price. Its purpose is to bring in (lead) customers in the retail store (usually a supermarket) on the assumption that, once inside the store, the customers will be stimulated to buy full priced items as well.”

In Go Daddy’s case, they charged customers only around $10 to register domains while their competition charged closer to $35.  The Arizona Republic reported, “Then, they were able to capitalize on that by figuring out that domain names are a loss leader or a low margin item, and the way you really make money in the business is not with the domain names, but it’s with everything else that people buy with them.”

How does a loss leader differ from what people refer to as the “old bait and switch”?  First of all, the old bait and switch is considered fraud.  “Customers are “baited” by advertising for a product or service at a low price; then customers discover that the advertised good is not available and are “switched” to a costlier product.”  This is considered false advertising.

The use of loss leaders is a smart marketing move because it gives customers what they want at a lower price and allows companies to make more money on any additional items purchased.  The old bait and switch is illegal and causes a loss of business in the end through word of mouth about shady practices.    

Importance of Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Anyone who has taken a business course has probably seen the acronym CRM. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and refers to ways of keeping track of interactions with customers.  However, it is much more than that.  Bain.com does a nice job of defining CRM:  “Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a process companies use to understand their customer groups and respond quickly—and at times, instantly—to shifting customer desires. CRM technology allows firms to collect and manage large amounts of customer data and then carry out strategies based on that information. Data collected through focused CRM initiatives help firms solve specific problems throughout their customer relationship cycle—the chain of activities from the initial targeting of customers to efforts to win them back for more. CRM data also provide companies with important new insights into customers’ needs and behaviors, allowing them to tailor products to targeted customer segments. Information gathered through CRM programs often generates solutions to problems outside a company’s marketing functions, such as supply chain management and new product development.”

Forward-thinking companies must learn to embrace CRM to remain competitive.  An article in BusinessBalls.com pointed out, “The ultimate purpose of CRM, like any organizational initiative, is to increase profit. In the case of CRM this is achieved mainly by providing a better service to your customers than your competitors. CRM not only improves the service to customers though; a good CRM capability will also reduce costs, wastage, and complaints.”

In the business world, Pareto’s Principle is often cited.   This principle states that 80% of effects come from 20% of the causes.   This has been translated to:  companies obtain 80% of their business from 20% of their clients.   As the BusinessBalls.com article pointed out this also means:

  • 20% of customers account for 80% of your turnover
  • 20% of customers account for 80% of your profits
  • 20% of customers account for 80% of your service and supply problems

In order to avoid wasting time and energy, relationship building is critical.  To develop these relationships, it is important to have a strong CRM system.  There are plenty of web-based CRMs.  A popular cloud-based CRM is available through Salesforce.com.  This popular system boasts ease of use stating, “Using Salesforce CRM is as easy as buying a book on Amazon.com. That means your employees will actually use it, so it will be a more effective tool for your business.”

Apps are popping up all over to help with CRM.  Salesforce.com has their own that is good for a sales-based industry.  SmallBusinessTrends.com did a nice review of some other top CRM apps that are useful for small businesses.

Female Career Choices That May Surprise You

On the first day of work as a pharmaceutical representative in the 80’s, I was struck by the similarity of my newly-hired peers.  There were about 10 of us that started at the same time.  Nine out of 10 of us were women.  I hadn’t given much thought as to whether women dominated in the pharmaceutical business at that time.  However, sitting at that long table full of women, most of whom had business degrees, made me realize that things were changing for women and their career choices.   

Since I currently teach for many different online universities, a recent article about women and their online degree choices caught my eye.  In the article 10 Majors That Are No longer Male-Dominated, the author pointed out, “Historically, women have dominated majors like education, English and psychology, while men were more likely to study engineering, computer science or math. Although this may ring true at some schools, it isn’t the standard at every traditional or online college. More than ever, college women are opting to study traditionally male-dominated majors and are breaking enrollment records while they’re at it. As the line between male- and female-dominated academic fields continues to fade, there will be less segregation in the job market and more opportunities for both sexes.”

The article lists the following online majors as currently female-dominant:

Computer Science

Business

Engineering

Agriculture

Biological Science

Construction Management

Fire Science

Criminal Justice

Information Technology

Sports Management

For more information about the increase in women majoring in each of these areas, click here to read the full article.

Top Things You Should Know about Google Plus (Google+)

You may have started to receive emails announcing that you have been added by someone on Google+ and be confused by what that means.  First of all it is important to understand Google+.  SEOdesk includes a nice article explaining what is Google+.  This new system is not unlike the Facebook “Like” feature. 

The author of the SEOdesk article pointed out how Google’s new system works. “A small transparent plus one button will appear near your search results (log into your public Google account first), when you click on it, it should turn blue; this indicates that you have +1’d that particular link, it will appear on a new tab in your account which keeps a record of the various things online that you have +1’d (the plus one tab).” For a more detailed explanation, read the entire article

How can people add you to Google+?  First of all, people can find you to add through a search function.  See how to find people on Google+.  They can then invite people to be friends with them on Google+. How can you protect your information if you don’t want others to see it?  Check out: protecting your Google+ profile information. For more information check out:  guide to working with circles in Google+.   

If you receive a notification that someone has added you to Google+, it may include a statement like:  Don’t know this person? You don’t have to add them back (they’ll just see the stuff you share publicly). If you want to block someone, you can do so by following these instructions on blocking someone on Google+.

Are Women Making Teams Smarter?

Harvard Business Review recently published an article about how having women on a team makes the team smarter.  Although they didn’t find a correlation between the collective intelligence of the group and the IQ of individuals within that group, they did find that if women were in the group, the collective intelligence was higher. 

The Female Factor:  The chart plots the collective intelligence scores of the 192 teams in the study against the percentage of women those teams contained. The red bars indicate the range of scores in the group of teams at each level, and the blue circles, the average. Teams with more women tended to fall above the average; teams with more men tended to fall below it.

Professors Anita Wooley (Carnegie Mellon) and Thomas Malone (MIT) gave “subjects aged 18 to 60 standard intelligence tests and assigned them randomly to teams. Each team was asked to complete several tasks—including brainstorming, decision making, and visual puzzles—and to solve one complex problem. Teams were given intelligence scores based on their performance. Though the teams that had members with higher IQs didn’t earn much higher scores, those that had more women did.”

Finding the right mix of people on a team has been a consideration many organizations have dealt with in the past.  These researchers hope to see how this information can help teams perform better in the future through changing members or incentives. 

In the past, I taught teams how to get along better through the use of the Myers Briggs MBTI personality assessment instrument.  Through understanding personalities, team members could learn about each other’s preferences for how they like to obtain information. This became more useful to the team as a whole.  In my training experience, I found that even if a team had members with high IQ’s, they needed to understand why other members of the teams did the things they did and required the information they required in the format that fit their needs.  It was important to understand the collective needs of the team in order for the team to be successful. 

With the study by Wooley and Malone, they bring up the use of their findings in understanding collective intelligence.  According to Malone, “Families, companies, and cities all have collective intelligence. But as face-to-face groups get bigger, they’re less able to take advantage of their members. That suggests size could diminish group intelligence. But we suspect that technology may allow a group to get smarter as it goes from 10 people to 50 to 500 or even 5,000. Google’s harvesting of knowledge, Wikipedia’s high-quality product with almost no centralized control—these are just the beginning. What we’re starting to ask is, How can you increase the collective intelligence of companies, or countries, or the whole world?”

Top Apps for 2011

 
 

mobile apps

 

The list of apps that are available for iPads and other tablet devices can sometimes seem staggering.  Entrepreneur.com recently listed their 10 Must-Have Business Apps for 2011.  Most of these apps had to do with productivity.  For a more productivity apps click here.

Hubspot had a more complete article titled The 25 Most Important Mobile Media Apps. This list is nice because it is broken down into financial tools, organizers/time savers, utilities, news/information, shopping, social, and productivity applications.

One application that any mobile device should have is for reading QR codes. For more information about QR codes and their use, click here.

Value of Top Companies

The following is a list of the estimated value of some of the top companies in 2011.  They are listed in order of highest to lowest value.

Apple – TechCrunch recently reported that Apple’s value is now worth as much as Microsoft, HP and Dell combined.  Valued at over $300 billion, Apple continues to grow.  For more specifics, click here:  Apple Value

Microsoft – Recent estimates put Microsoft’s value at about $200 billion.  Skype – Microsoft’s recent purchase assessed Skype’s value at $8.5 billion.

GoogleGoogle’s value has been estimated to be $192 billion as of January, 2011.  For more specifics on this income including Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s net income, click here:  Google ValueYoutube – Recent estimates put Youtube’s value around $1.3 billion.  Google paid $1.6 billion for Youtube in 2006.

FacebookFacebook was valued at $82.9 billion in January and that number continues to grow.

Amazon – In January, it was reported that Facebook passed Amazon’s value.  Amazon still showed a $75.2 billion worth.  For more specifics, click here:  Amazon Value

HP – Recent estimates put HP’s value at about $72.8 billion.

Dell – Recent estimates put Dell’s value at about $29.3 billion.

Groupon – Recent estimates put Groupon’s Value at as much as $25 billion.

Twitter – It is suggested that Twitter’s value is around $7.7 billion.

Linkedin – Recent estimates put LinkedIn’s value at over $4 billion.

The Most Useful Articles about How to Use Twitter

As Twitter grows and develops, so does the need to understand how to use Twitter as an effective marketing tool.  Companies and individuals that still have confusion with understanding hashtags, obtaining followers or how to remove annoying followers, should check out this list of the top Twitter articles:

  • Best Twitter Articles of 2010 – Bloggodown.com gives an exhaustive list of everything you want to know about Twitter. 
  • How to Find Hashtags on Twitter – This article explain hashtags and joining conversations on Twitter.  Hashtags are a popular way to start up a conversation about a specific topic within Twitter.  By putting the # sign before a subject, it creates a conversation that others can join.
  • The Ultimate Guide to Getting Twitter Followers – Dave Larson from Tweetsmarter.com explains the 6 ways to get Twitter followers including how to build a reputation, self-promotion, becoming a reciprocator, understanding automation, joining following groups, and avoiding spamming.    
  • Deciphering Twitter:   Twictionary Terms can be Very Intwesting – As Twitter grows in popularity, so does the number of terms that are associated with the site. Check out some of the most popularly used Twitter terms.
  • How to Block People on Twitter – One big difference between being on Twitter as compared to being on Facebook is that people can follow you without your consent.  That may lead to some situations that you find to be bothersome, including unsolicited contact or having to sift through a bombardment of tweets on your homepage. 

     According to AssociatedContent.com you can block people on Twitter by:

    • “Log into your Twitter account using your unique username and password. If you use a public computer, do not forget to mark the ‘Do not remember me on this computer option’ to protect your personal info.
    • If the user you wish to block is already following you, go to your ‘Followers’ list. Browse among your connections and click on the personal profile of the unwanted contact. Alternatively, just type the person’s Twitter name on the search box and click on enter.
    • While on the person’s profile, you will see a gear icon on the top center of the screen (next to the ‘Message’ box). Once you click on it, a drop-down menu will reveal the options ‘Mention,’ ‘Block,’ or ‘Report for spam.’
    • Click on ‘Block’ and you have successfully blocked the spammer. Moreover, a box ‘Blocked’ with a red line will appear on the user’s profile replacing the ‘Following’ box.

   What happens later if you decide you blocked someone that you would rather not block?  Check out  how to unblock Twitter followers.  

 

Defaulting on a Mortgage: How it Affects Your Credit Score

Many consumers have taken a financial hit with the recent economic climate.  As more people are defaulting on their home loans, it is interesting to see the impact on FICO scores. 

What may be a surprise is how many wealthy people with good credit are going into foreclosure.  A recent article by the Arizona Republic mentioned how affluent, savvy homeowners are choosing to default on their home loans based on weighing the pros and cons to such a decision.  “Recent research suggests that affluent people tend to be the main strategic defaulters, and these individuals are also the ones who would sustain more serious credit-score damage.  This chart shows the resulting credit scores for two hypothetical consumers – one with an average initial score of 680 on the FICO scale and another with a high initial score of 780.”

Situation Initial 680 Score Initial 780 Score
     
30 days late on mortgage 600-620 670-690
90 days late on mortgage 600-620 650-670
Short sale, no deficiency 610-630 655-675
Short sale with deficiency or foreclosure 575-595 620-640
Bankruptcy 530-550 540-560

The savvy homeowner that sees their home investment as a money pit, may go ahead and buy what they perceive as a better home  purchase, perhaps a short sale, before they default on their original investment.  In this way, they have good credit to purchase the new home before they take the hit to their credit score caused by the default of their original home purchase.

What to Know before Investing in IPOs like LinkedIn or Pandora

Is investing in an initial public offering (IPO) a good idea?  With the recent LinkedIn and Pandora IPOs and talk of future IPOs with Twitter and Facebook, this is a question that many investors may be considering.  Imagine getting in on the ground floor of a giant like Coca-Cola? It might have been a wild ride, but those that hung in there, had a nice payoff.  Joshua Kennon of About.com reported, “A single share of Coca-Cola purchased for $40 at the IPO in 1919, for example, crashed to $19 the following year. Yet, today, that one share, with dividends reinvested, is worth over $5 million.”

Kennon suggests that if you have the stomach for risking your investment, you might want to consider whether the company can grow at a rate high enough to justify its price, whether there are any patents or trademarks to protect the business, whether you’d want to hold onto this stock for 30 years and if it fell by 50% would you have the stomach to handle it?

DailyFinance reported some additional questions to ask before investing in an IPO: (1) Is there an attractive market for the product? (2) Does the company have a significant share of the market? (3) Is the company’s management team experienced? (4) Is the company growing and profitable?

The following list shows some more recent IPO original offering prices compared to their current price (as of July, 2011):

Google Initial Offering Price, 2004:  $85/share

Google Price July, 2011:  $530/share

Pandora Initial Offering Price, June, 2011:  $16/share

Pandora Price July, 2011:  $19/share

LinkedIn Initial Offering Price, May, 2011: $45/share

LinkedIn Price July, 2011:  $98/share

Many employees of companies like Google became wealthy overnight when their companies went IPO. The New York Times article Google’s IPO 5 Years Later stated, “When the offering finally happened, it turned an estimated 1,000 Google employees into millionaires, at least on paper. Since then, many more millionaires have been minted inside the Googleplex, the Web search company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.”

Not all startups have been this successful.  Businesspundit lists the 25 Internet Startups that Bombed Miserably. MSMoney also warned, “Many investors fret they’ll miss the next big thing because they have no access to the IPO market, but study after study has proven that IPOs historically underperform the broader markets.” FIGuide echoed that same sentiment in their article Should You Invest in IPOs, stating that there might be better options.  “A seminal paper published in The Journal of Finance looked at IPOs from 1970 to 1990. During the five years after issuance, investors in these IPOs got average annual returns of only 5%.(1) By contrast, the overall stock market’s average annual return from 1970 to 1990 was more than double that figure, at 10.8%. To put this in perspective, $1,000 invested at 5% for 20 years would have generated $2,653, while $1,000 invested at 10.8% would have generated $7,777, almost three times as much.”

The following chart from triadsecurities.com shows the top U.S. IPO offerings.

Top 10 U.S. IPO Openings

Best

Worst

 

Reality of Being Seen Live on Facebook, Google+ and Facetime

Today Facebook announced its new integration with Skype that will allow video calling and group chatting. Zuckerberg is touting “ease of use” as one of the key benefits of this system. Facebook can now compete with Google+ and their video chat service named Hangout.

The question now becomes, do you really want to have the capability of having people see you? Recently I was having a conversation with my husband on my iPhone using Apple’s Facetime application. As my husband took his iPhone around the office and said, “say hello to so and so”, I realized that as I could see them, they could also see me in my jammies with no makeup, hair up on top of my head and wearing my reading glasses. It wasn’t glamorous.

Many people use these video calling services when they are at home. Do we really want to see what everyone looks like when they first wake up in the morning? As we start opening up our homes to people with our video capabilities, we may also be showcasing things that may be better left unseen. Think about the dirty dishes in the sink or the unmade bed. Now more people than ever will know everyone’s dirty little secrets.

Dot Com is Old News: Meet Dot Music, Dot Coke, Dot NYC and More Domains

ICANN to allow new generic 'dot-brand' domains

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The trusty old Internet addresses we know and love — the .coms, .nets, .orgs — are about to get some new competition.

Read the full article via money.cnn.com

Baby Boomers Keeping Plastic Surgeons Busy

The popularity of plastic surgery is undeniable.  What may be interesting to note is how much of an impact the Baby Boomer generation has on the number of plastic surgery procedures performed.  Baby Boomers are those born between 1946 and 1964.   Karen Zupko and Sheila Hall from the Aesthetic Society News magazine recently reported some interesting Baby Boomer, cosmetic and plastic surgery statistics:

  • 7,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 per day in 2011 – This will jump to 10,000 per day over the next 18 years according to Pew Research
  • People age 51-64 account for 28% of total plastic surgery procedures
  • People over 65 account for 7.3% of total plastic surgery procedures
  • Baby Boomers make up 35% of plastic surgery patients
  • The rate of men age 50-64 who color their hair grew from 3-10% from 1999 to 2000
  • 2,437,165 Botox procedures were performed in 2010 (all age groups) – Non-invasive procedures are growing with men accounting for 15% of injectable market and 26% of skin rejuvenation market.

How can plastic surgeons capitalizing on this demographic?    The authors suggest a few ideas to appeal to this group:

  • Have marketing material in larger font for ease of reading
  • Offer a pampering environment
  • Don’t waste patients’ time by making them wait
  • Focus on men too as they are becoming more interested in plastic surgery
  • Don’t focus on age in marketing because according to Pew Research, this group feels 9 years younger than their true age
  • Make things convenient for them

For those targeting Baby Boomers in their marketing plan, they may want to consider television advertising as Boomers watch more television than any other generation. 

For more information about plastic surgery and specific procedures, click here.

Prezi Presentation about Education That Blows PowerPoint Out of the Water

Prezi is a presentation software similar to Powerpoint.  Check out this very interesting use of Prezi “Future Proof Your Education” from Maria Andersen where she explains “How do you prepare for uncertain career paths where technical knowledge doubles every two years? You pay attention to the skills that surround the content: Interact, Flex, Learn, Explain, Analyze, and Focus.”

Andersen does a nice job of incorporating the “Did You Know?” video into her presentation while showing how to utilize Prezi to its fullest.  Click on the presentation below to find out more about choices and how knowledge and skills can affect career paths.   Particularly fun is the “Little Billy” video showing what happened to Billy and others when they entered the workforce and experienced information overload syndrome.

If you have ever wondered how to make the most out of using Prezi, this presentation can show how to do this.

 

Nepotism: Consequences Good and Bad

Nepotism may be frowned on in some companies, but that is not to say that some very famous people have been helped by it.  In Latin, nepotis means nephew.  Nepotism is now more broadly defined as:  When someone gives favoritism to a relative without necessarily basing it on their abilities or merit. 

Accountingdegree.com had a very interesting article recently titled:  10 Famous Businesspeople Who Benefitted from Nepotism.  This list contained some very recognizable last names including:  Forbes, Trump, Hilfiger, Kraft and Walton.  The article pointed out the hypocrisy that may exist in terms of when nepotism is considered alright.  “At the blue collar level, when friends hire friends or a father expects his children to join the family business, we often believe it’s a sign of strong family values, not unethical or slimy business. But at the executive level — where millions and billions of dollars can be earned — favors are made in secret. It might be tempting to help your children or siblings get a great job, but in the public eye, it’s shameful.”

Viewshound recently wrote about whether nepotism is an unfair advantage or a sensible employment strategy.  Whether it was a sensible strategy or unfair practice is something that will be debated in the current lawsuit where Murdoch News Corporation is being sued by its shareholders for buying the chairman Rupert Murdoch’s daughter’s business for $675 million.  According to the Huffington Post, “The lawsuit seeks damages and a declaration the board breached their fiduciary duty to shareholders.”

Top 5 Things to Know to be a Successful Entrepreneur

The typical entrepreneurial personality has the drive and ambition for success.  Like anything in life, though, it is always harder to do something the very first time.  This can discourage many new entrepreneurs from taking that initial leap and to start their own business. 

I teach several entrepreneurial courses and have put together some important articles that I recommend to my students.  The following list contains many of these articles and some of the most important things that entrepreneurs should do in order to be successful:

  1. Read Success Stories and Attend Lectures:  An excellent way to be inspired and learn from other entrepreneurs is to read their success stories.  Onlineuniversities.com recently came up with a list of 20 Biographies Every Serious Entrepreneur Should Read.  These books include important success stories from Ben Franklin to Sam Walton.  Another very important article to read is:  50 Excellent Lectures for Small Business Owners.
  2. Learn the Truth About Failure:  Many entrepreneurs are stalled in their pursuit of success due to their fear of failure.  Even some of the most famous entrepreneurs met with failure before success.  To find out more about this, check out:  50 Famous People Who Failed Before Becoming Successful. Also see:  Famous Business Failures: Is it as Gloomy as it Sounds? Also see:  10 Famous Product Failures and the Advertisements That Did Not Sell Them.
  3. Learn the Truth About Finances Required:  Not all entrepreneurs come from wealthy families.  It can be challenging to come up with the funds required to begin a business.  Find out how some very famous entrepreneurs became successful in the article:  Famous Entrepreneurs Who Hit it Big With Humble Beginnings.
  4. Learn How Women Have Become Successful Entrepreneurs:  Some very successful entrepreneurs have been women.  Check out:  Most Inspiring Entrepreneurial Women.
  5. Learn How to Network:  One of the best ways to get a product or company known is through social media.  Part of an entrepreneur’s success is through finding their customers and their niche.  Check out:  5 Top Networking Tips for Small Businesses.

Once an entrepreneur has developed a strong idea of the direction they want to take, they need to work on their feasibility study.  Investors will want to see this to be sure that their idea is sound. Another important aspect of creating their new business is deciding on a vision and mission statement.  Check out The Top 10 Mission Statements in 2011. Once an entrepreneur has received enough funds to get their new business off the ground, they may want to consider whether or not to go IPO.  Many companies like Facebook have waited and not gone this traditional route.  Find out Why Companies Are Not Going IPO due to fear of the past dot com crash.

Boomerang Generation: College Graduates Giving up on Employment and Moving Back Home

There has been an unusual trend with recent college graduates.  After working so hard to become educated for their new careers, recent grads are not jumping into the workplace right away.  This has caused an increase in the numbers for unemployment in this population.  However, this unemployment has been influenced by some of these grads actively making the choice not go to work.

It’s not only that employers don’t want the recent graduates. In fact, Wall Street Journal reported, “Employers plan to hire 19% more new graduates this year than in 2010.” Part of the choice has been due to the graduates opting to do other things. In that same article, it was reported, “Career counselors at colleges say that in the past two years they have seen increasing numbers of graduates opting to travel, volunteer, or get unpaid work experience rather than head straight into a tenuous job market.”

Recent statistics show that up to 54% of those under the age of 25 are without a job. Many of them feel that the economy is so bad at this time that they would be wasting their time even trying to get into the workplace.  This has caused a trend of young adults moving back in with their parents.  The New York Post reported, “This year, some three million young people are expected to graduate from college. Facing a double-digit unemployment rate for young people, 85 percent of them will initially move back home with their parents, and that’s up from 67 percent in 2006, according to a poll by researcher Twentysomething Inc.”

Some have referred to this new generation as the Boomerang Generation.  Just as parents think their children have left the nest, they turn around and come right back.  Some students are holding out for the job they want rather than taking “just any job”. Having gone through the time and effort to get a higher education, they are not willing to take employment beneath what they feel qualified to do.

New Gainful Employment Rule May Take a Year to See Impact

For-profit schools have been waiting to see the final version of the new gainful employment rule that was made public on Thursday.  Many are relieved to see that the final design was not as strict as originally anticipated.  However, how it actually impacts these schools won’t be truly known until next year when the U.S. Department of Education releases information about how students are paying off their loans. 

The new gainful employment rule goes into effect July 2, 2012. This rule was set up to restrict students from using government aid to pay for schooling that doesn’t include occupations that have a strong entry-level salary.  This rule affects the big schools like University of Phoenix but it also has an impact on the smaller cosmetology and other private sector colleges. 

Federal financial aid has been a big factor in financing students’ education. This has caused concern for-profit schools should this funding should be cut off.

The Arizona Republic Reported, “Under the gainful-employment rule, students can’t use federal aid for programs that fail three tests: at least 35 percent of former students in that program must be paying down their loan balance, the student loan payment must not exceed 30 percent of typical graduates’ discretionary income, or the annual loan payment does not exceed 12 percent of typical graduates’ total earnings. If a school’s program fails the test three times in four years, it is cut off from federal financial-aid funding. For the first time, starting in July, the rule requires schools to disclose total program costs, graduation rates, job placement rates, loan repayment rates and other information to students. Earlier versions of the rule had tougher student repayment standards, took effect faster and did not have the “three strikes” provision. The final version gives schools more time to correct deficiencies and makes it likely that fewer will lose access to federal student aid dollars.”

Click here for the new Gainful Employment Rule guidelines.

 

Using QR Codes to Get a Job or Promote Your Business

You probably have seen QR codes and don’t even realize it.  Perhaps they were on a marketing ad or a flyer someone handed you.  You might have seen them on a promotional piece or on a poster at a local store.  It may have looked so under-stated that you probably passed right by it and didn’t give it a second thought.

Start looking for them.  You’ll be surprised at how many places are using them.  What are they?  Think of them like a bar code that lists a lot more information and can direct you to specific websites.  Companies are creating these codes to be used with smartphone apps.  This is an example code that I created for my book, It’s Not You It’s Your Personality:

It’s really simple to make one.  You can go to a site like Qurify.com and type in the information you want to be encoded.  It may be something as simple as a website address.  You can go to the Qurify site and type in your website URL address. If you don’t have a website, consider putting in your Linkedin profile page.   Click on the Qurify button and then download the image it creates as a jpeg file.  Now you can take this file and put it on your business cards, on your resume, or on any other information you create. 

Anyone who has a QR Reader app on their phone can simply start the app on their phone and point it at your code.  When they do that, they will be directed on their phone to the URL address you entered on Qurify.  It couldn’t be easier. 

This can really make you stand out from the rest in the job search.  Just having that code on your resume will make those that don’t know what it is, look into it why it is on your resume.  For those that do know what it is, they will appreciate how technologically you savvy are.

If you have your own business and want to promote different parts of your website, these can be useful as well.  To show examples, I created several of these QR codes for Dr. Robert Spies’ plastic surgery site.  To see how they work, first download a free QR Reader app onto your smartphone.  Then open that app and point it at the codes listed below.

This code directs you to information about facelifts:

This code directs you to information about tummy tucks:

 This code directs you to information about breast augmentation:

 By having different QR codes like this, you can customize your marketing material to direct people to the appropriate websites.  For companies like a plastic surgery practice, this can be a very effective tool to target people that have a strong enough financial background to own a smartphone as well as those that are interested enough to point their phone at the code for more information.  It is a great tool to specifically target the appropriate population. 

To find out more about how these codes work, check out information from the guys at how stuff works technology podcast. 

Marketers Target Impatient Customers through Smartphone Quick Response QR Codes

 

Quick Response or QR codes are the latest bar code system that allows customers to use their smartphones to obtain discounts, gather information and even order products ahead of time so that they are ready upon their arrival.  For an instant gratification generation, these new codes can connect customers to products faster than ever before.

Companies are putting these codes in their advertisements and on their products so that customers can scan them with their smartphones and gather more information, find out about discounts or even order the product.  Although these codes aren’t that new, companies are starting to use them more due to the increased frequency of consumers using smartphones. 

It’s simple to install an app on a phone. In fact some even come with the app pre-installed.  Wall Street Journal reported, “Scanby Inc., a New York company that develops and manages QR codes, estimates that 30 million people in the U.S. have a code-reader app on their phone.”

Companies like Ethical Bean are taking advantage of the code to get their coffee products into their customers’ hands more quickly.  Customers simply need to order their coffee through the use of these apps and it will be ready when they arrive to pick it up. 

These apps can also give more information about the products being purchased.  Customers can find out recipes, ingredients and more.  The Wall Street Journal had some statistics about the use of these codes:

  • 32% of consumers in a recent survey said they’ve used a QR code
  • 70% plan to use QR code again or for the first time
  • 53% are motivated to use it by getting a coupon, discount or deal
  • 52% are motivated to use it by getting more information

Linkedin Going IPO: Concerns of Its Value Being 200 Times Its Earnings

 

On Thursday Linkedin will have the ticker symbol of LNKD.  Linkedin is finally going to become an Initial Public Offering or IPO.  Becoming an IPO means it will be a publically-traded company.  In this case, the company has the hope of raising $274 million.  

IPO’s have been of concern recently as companies are being valued at far higher levels than they are returning.  If Linkedin is able to price their stock in $32-35 range, that would make their value just over $3 billion.  According to the Wall Street Journal, that is “nearly 200 times last year’s earnings of $15.4 million.”  

Many companies have been using venture caplitists to fund them until they can go IPO like Linkedin.   However, the dot com crash has had a big impact on how venture capitalists invest in the current market. To understand why, it is important to know a little history about the impact of the Internet and why these investors are leery. For more information about fear of IPOs and over-valued companies, click here.

Millennials Hoping for Boomers to Retire

Dashboard 1

A recent article titled Millennials Have Hope: The Boomers Will Retire caught my attention.  The current economy has led to fewer jobs available for a larger potential workforce.  Many people who used to retire in their 60s are continuing to work, making it harder for Millennials to find employment. 

Younger generations may be obtaining their college degrees in the field in which they would prefer to work, only to find they are taking any position they can get.  According to this article, “Nationally, 13.2 million people are unemployed, and the jobless rate for the under 20 age group is 21 percent – 15 percent for 20- to 24-year-olds. The ratio of unemployed workers to job openings is 4.3-to-1.”

The author of this article included the chart listed above, which I assume is just for their local area in Minnesota.  However, it gives a good indication of a general timeframe of when the change from predominantly Boomers to Millennials should start to occur.  To read the entire article, click here.

How to Find Hashtags on Twitter

 

Hashtags are a popular way to start up a conversation about a specific topic within Twitter.  By putting the # sign before a subject, it creates a conversation that others can join.  For example, if I wanted to tweet about plastic surgery, I could include #plasticsurgery within my tweet and it would list my comment on the discussion being held within Twitter about that topic.   As you can imagine, a recent popular hashtag topic was #royalwedding

The challenge comes with finding all of the conversations you would like to join.  One site that is helpful is called What the TrendMediabistro.com reported, “What the Trend shows you the top hashtag and non-hashtag trending topics. It lists the 10 top trending phrases at any given moment on Twitter, along with a short description of each. Just underneath the written description is how long ago this phrase started trending, and when it received its description. What the Trend also shows you the top trending topics in several geographic areas. You can also view all of the trends from the past 24 hours, and sort by verified trends, explained trends and much more.”

Trendistic is another site that can tell you just how popular a hashtag is on Twitter.  If you type in the hashtag phrase into their search, it can tell you not only the most recent conversations about that phrase but also how active it has been for the last 24 hours, 7 days, 30 days, 90 days and 180 days. The site also gives embedding information so that you can put their charts on your blog or website.  Check out the right side of the main Trendistic site to see a list of the top trending topics.

You Are Only as Good as Your Last Deal: Top 5 Ways to Avoid Being Expendable at Work

 

There is an expression that is often used in sales:  “You are only as good as your last deal.” What is meant by that is that management has a short-term memory and no matter how good you were in the past, they are focusing on what you can do for them right now.  It may seem unfair to those who have worked very hard throughout the years to find out that their jobs may be on the line due to one poor month of performance.  However, this is a reality in this market.

The new movie, Larry Crowne, with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, is about Hanks’ character, a top performing employee who has won the employee of the month something like 8 times.  He is self-confident that management has requested his presence in their office to tell him that he has just won for the 9th time.  Instead, he finds out that they are letting him go due to his lack of a college education. 

This is a pretty common situation that happens in today’s workplace.  Employees are becoming concerned about keeping their positions.  There are a lot of people with strong work histories out there that are in the market for a job…your job.   There are some important tips to keep in mind when trying to avoid being expendable at work.  These include:

  1. Work harder than your coworkers.  That may seem to be common sense, but it is surprising how many people overlook the fact that they may not be number one in the office.  There is an old expression:  I don’t have to outrun the bear.  I just have to outrun you.  Think of being laid off as the bear and you have to be better than your coworkers to survive.
  2. Multitask.  One way to be more efficient at your job is to multitask.  Some may argue that there is no such thing as true multitasking but there is such a thing as combining small jobs together so that you get more done in less time.  I often share an example with my students of how I would type my call notes while “dialing for dollars” so that I could make twice as many phone calls as my coworkers who waited until the call was completed to type up their notes.  Find ways to combine things like this to be more efficient.
  3. Add value through education.  The Tom Hanks example is a good reason why you should consider furthering your education to compete. You might find that a certification is enough.  You might find that an MBA would add value.  Find the thing that makes you stand out from your fellow coworkers. 
  4. Put in the time.  If you are the last one to get to work and the first one to leave, you may find that management has noticed.  Look around your office and pay attention to who gets there late, who lollygags around and doesn’t work hard.  Put in the hours but also be sure that management sees how hard you are working.  There is no shame in copying them on things that show you have done well.
  5. Work smarter vs. harder.  Some people think that just putting in more work hours means they are working hard.  If you are the guy/gal who plans the plan to plan the plan, then you are not efficient.  A plan is important to keep you on track. Just be sure you don’t spend all of your time planning and none of your time doing. 

If you do these 5 things, you’ll be well on your way to outrunning your coworkers and avoiding the bear (loss of employment).

Microsoft Buys Skype

NEW YORK — Microsoft Corp. said Tuesday that it has agreed to buy the popular Internet telephone service Skype SA for $8.5 billion in the biggest deal in the software maker’s 36-year history.

Buying Skype gives Microsoft access to a user base of about 170 million people who log in to Skype every month, using the Internet and Skype usernames as a complement to the traditional phone network and its phone numbers.

For the rest of the article see: huffingtonpost.com
 
 

Pharmaceutical Representative Jobs Being Replaced by Computers

Ask anyone about a pharmaceutical sales job and you are likely to hear something good about it.  People have this conception of the job being glamorous, well-paid and well-respected.  It can be glamorous working in a sales division of a large manufacturing company.  There may be company cars, plenty of perks, some traveling and even entertainment at events.  In my years in pharmaceutical sales, my company paid big bucks at meetings bringing in high end entertainers including:  Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart, Kenny Loggins, Martina McBride, Danny Gans, Harry Anderson, Larry Miller, Huey Lewis and many more.

Those days of big spending on the sales force are changing.  In fact, the drug makers are not only cutting back on entertaining their sales force, they are actually getting rid of them, replacing them with digital tools.  Wall Street Journal reported, “Tens of thousands of pharmaceutical sales reps have been eliminated in the U.S., creating a void that drug makers are now increasingly filling with websites, iPad apps and other digital tools to interact with doctors who prescribe their treatments.”

I was going on my 20th year at AstraZeneca when I quit in 2002.  When I first started with the pharmaceutical division of the company in 1987, sales reps didn’t even have computers.  Notes about conversations with doctors were handwritten.  A sales rep was given certain zip codes as their territory and they had a lot of control over their day and how they interacted with doctors. The plan was to call on each doctor once a month and explain the products.

Fast forward to the early 2000s and by that time, the reps all had handheld computers.  Instead of one representative calling on the doctors once a month, sometimes there were 5-10 representatives all calling on the same doctor with the same message every month.  Somewhere along the way, big pharma management decided that if the doctor heard a message two times, they were more likely to remember it.  That changed to 3 times, 4 times and so on until they hired so many representatives per doctor that when I left, these poor doctors had to listen to the same message delivered to them at least twice a week. 

It turned doctors off to the idea of a pharmaceutical sales representative calling on them.  Many of them became “no see” doctors which meant they would no longer allow representatives to call on them.  According to the Wall Street Journal, “In 2009, one of every five doctors in the U.S. was what the industry calls a “no see,” … Just a year later, that jumped to one in four.”

Before I left AstraZeneca, they were already beginning to work on some computer-based sales presentations.  Doctors were not really catching onto that idea a decade ago, but the digital market has become much more popular since then.  The Wall Street Journal reported, “AstraZeneca set up a digital marketing group in 2009 and substantially ramped up its work last year, says John McCarthy, vice president of commercial strategy and operations in the U.S. The group, which is primarily focused on marketing to health-care providers as opposed to consumers, created “AZ Touchpoints,” a website doctors can use to ask questions, order free samples and ask about insurance coverage. The site also contains brochures and other “educational materials” that doctors can print out.”

What does this mean for the pharmaceutical sales representative job?  “Last year, AstraZeneca said it planned to eliminate 10,400 jobs by 2014, including thousands of sales positions in Western markets. The company said the cuts, amounting to about 16% of its work force, would help it save $1.9 billion a year by 2014.” 

Looks like I left at the right time . . .

Fear of Past Dot Com Crash: Venture Capitalists Only Interested in Consumer-Targeted Companies like Facebook or Groupon

 

The dot com crash has had a big impact on how venture capitalists invest in the current market. To understand why, it is important to know a little history about the impact of the Internet and why these investors are leery.

The Internet became commercially popular in the mid-1990s.  By 1995, there was an estimated 18 million users on the net.  This led to the creation of online businesses which led to speculation about how big these companies could grow.  The problem came with how much these companies were actually worth vs. how much they were perceived to be worth. 

What causes a bubble and eventual crash?  When people get excited about a company stock, it can drive the price up but if it inflates to an unrealistic point where investors get wise to the fact that the company can’t be worth as much as they hoped, people bail, sell the stocks, the price drops, and the company crashes. 

The pain of those dot com crashes are still felt today.  Venture capitalists now may be more hesitant to invest.  Tom Abate with SFGate.com said that venture capitalists in 2000 made about 8000 investments valued at $100.5 million.  “In 1999 and 2000, Wall Street invested in 534 venture-backed initial public offerings.” Those, who cashed in early, made a lot of money.  As large amounts of money were being put into the market and speculation was growing, the bubble was forming.  NASDAQ hit its peak on March 10, 2000 at 513252, only to lose 78% of its value by October, 2002 when it dropped to 11411.

In 2001-2002 while a lot of companies were over-valued and going bankrupt, people found their stock purchases were not such a great investment.  So now when Facebook and Twitter are considering going IPO it has some potential investors concerned.  This is especially true in the case of Twitter that has yet to publically show their business plan. 

What has the effect been on venture capitalists investing?  An article in Investopedia stated, “In the year 1999, there were 457 IPOs, most of which were internet and technology related. Of those 457 IPOs, 117 doubled in price on the first day of trading. In 2001 the number of IPOs dwindled to 76, and none of them doubled on the first day of trading.” SFGate.com reported, “In 2008 and 2009, a total of just 18 venture-backed companies went public.”

Investments have picked up for the consumer-oriented companies like Facebook and Groupon.  However there has been a venture squeeze for companies with business products.  Wall Street Journal reported, “In the first three months of this year, venture-capital investment in consumer tech companies nearly tripled to $874 million from $310 million a year earlier. Meanwhile, investments in tech firms with business products rose at a slower rate to $2.3 billion from $1.9 billion a year earlier.  The shift away from business-oriented technology start-ups has been gathering steam over the past few years. Venture investment into such companies was $11.9 billion in 2010, down 35% from $18.4 billion in 2006, according to VentureSource. The overall number of financing rounds these companies received also dropped 18% to 1,261 during that time.”

Coexisting with Four Generations in the Modern Workplace

The modern workplace has seen growth in the 16 to 24-year olds and over 55 year olds.  With people living and working longer, this growth has led to four generations of workers trying to coexist. This may present challenges to management.  According to The East Valley Tribune, “It’s not merely age that differentiates these workers, said AARP officials, but rather how they approach accomplishing different assignments and tasks, as well as how much “work” defines their everyday lives.” 

These 4 generations include:

World War II Generation (aka depression babies) – Those born prior to 1945

Baby Boomers – Those born 1946 to 1964

Generation X – Those born 1965 to 1982

Generation Y (aka the Millennials) – Those born after 1982

According to the Tribune each of these groups has unique needs:

World War II Generation – appreciate a logical approach to work, with clear job expectations that are fair and consistent. This group prefers face-to-face communication rather than phone or email. . .are reluctant to buck the system, uncomfortable with conflict and reticent when they disagree with their boss or fellow co-workers.

Baby Boomers – represent the largest segment of the American work force. There are roughly 77 million Boomers who are service-oriented, appreciate a team perspective, and are motivated workers . . . appreciate personal communication and the telephone, are not necessarily “budget-minded” and are uncomfortable with conflict. In addition, some may put “success ahead of result.” They also insist on phased retirement and health and wellness programs to foster a healthy lifestyle.

Generation X – are independent and creative souls who are adaptable, technology-literate and like to buck the system. They don’t need a boss constantly looking over their shoulder as they enjoy being turned loose to meet deadlines. . .this group enjoys communicating by voicemail and email and is looking for development opportunities and to add certifications to their resumes for upward mobility.

Generation Y – brings to the workplace optimism, a can-do spirit and the ability to multitask, but they are often inexperienced and require supervision and structure. This group, which prefers instant messaging, blogs, text messages and email, has difficulty communicating in the workplace and likes to be spoken with one-on-one.”

Inspired by One Tweet: Quakebook’s Creation is Helping Japan Raise Money

 

An expatriate in Japan, Our Man in Abiko, sent out a call with a single Tweet to social media contributors that eventually led to the creation of an e-book called Quakebook.  “The idea was to share the stories and experiences of people actually on the ground during the earthquake,” claims Quakebook.org. “In just four weeks, the 2:46 Quakebook project has turned an idea first voiced in a single tweet, into a rich collection of essays, artwork and photographs submitted by individuals around the world, including people who endured the disaster and journalists who covered it.”

Quakebook is available on Amazon for $9.99.  Amazon stated the intentions of the editor who created the book, “is to record the moment, and in doing so raise money for the Japanese Red Cross Society to help the thousands of homeless, hungry and cold survivors of the earthquake and tsunami. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of the price you pay (net of VAT, sales and other taxes) goes to the Japanese Red Cross Society to aid the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. ”

The book has the title 2:46 Quakebook because it begins by showing the effects at 2 minutes and 46 seconds after the quake hit.  There are over 30,000 words of accounts and over 200 people who have chipped in for this project.  This whole project was completely volunteer-oriented and the e-book became available in only one month after the disaster.  Quakebookorg stated, “The contributions in 2:46 Aftershocks have come from a wide variety of sources, and include photographs, personal accounts, drawings; each telling their own tale.”

Click here to read some excerpts from 2:46 Quakebook:  Aftershocks Stories from the Japan Earthquake. To follow on Twitter, check out #Quakebook.

Famous Entrepreneurs Who Hit it Big With Humble Beginnings

 

The movie The Social Network showcased Mark Zuckerberg’s ability to create an enormous business from seemingly nothing.  Not all entrepreneurs have been accepted to Harvard like Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates to hit it big. However, having the intelligence to get there doesn’t hurt.

I grew up next door to a very smart man who worked his way through a state college and started a little company with $5000.  That man was Leonard (Sam) Shoen who created U-Haul by asking gas station owners to let him rent trucks from their lots.  Amerco is now the parent of U-Haul and is a far cry from the corner gas station beginnings.

There are plenty of Leonard Shoen and Sam Walton stories out there.  Accountingdegree.com recently published a list of 10 big businesses that got started in a garage including: 

  1. Apple
  2. Google
  3. Mattel
  4. HP
  5. Amazon
  6. Disney
  7. Microsoft
  8. MagLite
  9. Yankee Candle Company
  10. Harley Davidson

For more detail regarding how each of these companies got started, you can click on each individual company or read the article by clicking here.

To see Steve Jobs’ Commencement Speech at Stanford explaining how he started Apple watch the following video:

 

Importance of Facebook Like Button: Millennials and Women Likely to Hop On

Businesses are increasing their presence on Facebook in hopes that users will pick the “Like” button about their company, product or service.  This is becoming today’s “word of mouth” through technology. 

A research brief from the Center for Media Research claims, “Apparently a consumer approval on social media trumps other messages when people want to show their support for local businesses. Leading ways that users show support are:

•75% of people tell their friends

•20% of people say they “Like” it on Facebook to show their support, compared with only 13% who write a review

•Millennials and women are even more likely to hop on Facebook

•40% of people under 35 “Like” a business; 49% in the 18-24 group, versus 18% who said they would write a review

•25% of women hit the “Like” button, versus 11% who write reviews”

This does not mean that Facebook will capture all business.  “The study also showed:

•52% of adults under 35 visit more than two websites before checking out a local business

•63% of respondents under 35 head to Google

•24% visit Facebook;

•21% look at reviews sites and

•17% clicked on the first link on the search results page

•8% of people said a deal is the number one thing that influences them to try a local business”

Facebook and Twitter Getting Free Advertising through Redirection

Have you noticed lately how many companies post somewhere in their advertisement that they have a Facebook or Twitter page?  Perhaps you have seen wording like:  “Follow Us on Facebook” or “Follow Us on Twitter”.  Imagine if your company was mentioned like that on everyone else’s advertisements and you didn’t have to pay for that.   

This is something that is new in the advertising world.  In the past, you would see companies listing their websites to direct their business to their own companies.  They still do this, of course, but now they are also directing business to Facebook and Twitter to get people to come to their website indirectly. This redirection may have implications on web analytics, making it more difficult to know how many customers are seeing the company’s message.  However, the advantages for using sites like Facebook for advertising can be significant.  Tnooz.com reported, “With one in every 13 people on the planet using Facebook, the potential exposure that Facebook advertising offers can be massive, costing a fraction of what a TV advertising campaign might cost.”

This redirection of business is something that is growing.  It can be easier to get people to go to Facebook or Twitter initially due to their popularity.  Sites like bit.ly allow links to be shortened and more information to be included in a tweeted message.  This can also be useful for redirection to mobile devices.  Webupon.com reported, “Facebook and Twitter are two of the most user-friendly sites on the mobile web – and that’s great news for those who are going mobile with their websites, because it means people can right-click on bit.ly links in Twitter – and be automatically taken to a mobile version of your site, if they’re accessing it from Twitter.”

Sites like Facebook are helping increase what used to be called word of mouth advertising by allowing people to pick “I like” on a product page.  Trendwatching.com refers to the F-Factor involved here, meaning Friends, Fans and Followers on Facebook who can influence purchasing decisions. Check out an article by Converge2003.com that suggests there are 10 tactics to increase your number of Facebook likes.   For more information about adding a Facebook Like Button to your site, click here.

Most Inspiring Entrepreneurial Women

Men are often listed as examples of successful entrepreneurs.  Oprah’s name may be mentioned, but far fewer women get the same recognition.  To give women their due, accountingdegree.com came up with a list that they name:  15 Female Entrepreneurs Who Are Incredibly Inspiring.

On their list they included Oprah Winfrey as number one (of course).  However, some of the other names listed may not be as recognizable, including:  Diane Von Ferstenburg, Madame C. J. Walker, Ashley Quails, Estee Lauder, Mary Kay Ash, Nelli Cashman, Caterina Fake, Kamila Sadiqi, Judi Henderson-Townsend, Sara Blakely, Ishita Khanna, Lauren Bush, Ama Pomaa Andoh, and Deborah Meaden.

Having taught entrepreneurial courses for many years, I have seen Oprah and Mary Kay listed as excellent examples, but most of these other names could use more recognition.  A few names that I might add to the list would be:  Debbi Fields of Mrs. Smith’s Cookies, Coco Chanel and J. K. Rowlings.  In fact, J. K. Rowlings’ rags to riches story is so fascinating, a new movie, starring Poppy Montgomery, will be coming out about how she made her $800 million fortune.  For more information about background of the 15 female entrepreneurs listed above, click here.

Companies Like BMW Using Apps to Gather Data as Part of Product Marketing Research

Companies like BMW have created a new way to gather information as part of their research for product marketing.  BMW recently has a new app, Evolve, that will allow drives to track their driving habits to see how compatible they would be should they drive a battery-powered vehicle.

Product research is a big part of the marketing process.  In marketing classes, one of the basic things a student learns about is the product life cycle.  Products go through the following stages:  Introduction, Growth, Maturity, and Decline.  In the introductory phase, companies seek to gain product recognition through product, pricing, distribution and promotion. 

Image via QuickMBA.com

What is unique about the BMW app situation is that they are learning about consumer behavior to incorporate that knowledge into the products they will offer later.  BMW will have a new electric vehicle called i3.  By gathering this information about drivers and their behaviors, the data can help the company know more about interest in their vehicle.  BMW will also be using social media to get customers to encourage their friends by sharing their driving experiences. 

Wall Street Journal reported, “BMW says its taking its buzz-creating efforts a step further, by integrating what it gleans from them into the marketing and development of the i3 and other electric cars. Smartphone users who download BMW’s new app, for instance, can feed their driving statistics into a main website that shows them how they and their fuel-savings compare with other drivers. BMW plans to collect the anonymous data on users’ driving patterns to inform the design of its mass-market electric cars.”

Millennials Actually Utilizing LinkedIn Rather Than Just Having an Inactive Profile

Linkedin has a lot of people with profiles. Quantcast reports “Linkedin has 21.4 million monthly unique U.S. visitors and 47.6 million globally.” However, that doesn’t mean they are all taking advantage of the site.  Dynamic Business reported, “According to the 2010 LinkedIn Career Trends Research, a staggering 60 percent of professionals surveyed on LinkedIn do not use social media channels when it comes to advancing their careers – despite 87 percent believing an online profile will help their professional identity and career progression. This mirrors results for business adoption of social media, with only 28 percent of small businesses surveyed using social media despite a similar number believing it would help their business.”

That may be changing.  The day of looking for a job in the classified section has gone. Millennials are moving away from newspaper ads.  SMH reported results from I Love Rewards and Experience Inc. that showed, “28 per cent say they will use LinkedIn to find a job, compared with 7 percent the previous year. Newspaper ads are moving in the opposite direction with 28 per cent saying they would turn to newspapers, compared with 34 per cent for the previous year.”

Millennials have been shown to have unique expectations in the working world.  Mashable reported more information from this study showed, “Millenials about to hit the workforce don’t care what size company they work for and that 64% of them plan to stay at their new job for two to five years. Another 24.1% say they plan to stay with their employer for more than 10 years. However, the average tenure for millennials is actually 1.5 years, according to the Department of Labor.”

The chart below shows how respondents plan to apply to jobs.

What is Your Favorite Celebrity’s Personality Type? New Fun Beta Site

 

In the book It’s Not You It’s Your Personality, there are a lot of celebrities listed as examples to explain personality types.  Although that book covers most of the major personality assessments out there, one of the most important assessments it addresses is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). 

A new beta site CelebrityTypes.com is now available with information that identifies intellectuals, authors, and other public figures according to their psychological type based on the MBTI.  I, Diane Hamilton, am an ESTJ.  The example celebrity shown for that type on the celebrity types site was Dr. Phil.  It would be interesting to see Dr. Phil’s actual results because he comes across as making decisions based on his values which may put him more toward an ESFJ. 

Is this site completely accurate?  Maybe not and they note that there as well.  Without the person actually taking the MBTI, it can be a lot of guesswork.  The authors noted, “a reported type must be regarded as a hypothesis and never as an exact, final depiction of that person.”

Whether completely accurate or not, it can be fun to speculate. On the left side of the site, there are links to each type where you can see other examples of celebrities within each type.  Other examples of this author’s ESTJ type include:  Condoleeza Rice, Michelle Obama, Judge Judy, and Ivanka Trump.

This site does a nice job of listing the percentages of people within each type, best romantic matches, and general information about what it means to be a certain type. For more information about this site click here.  For more information about It’s Not You It’s Your Personality, click here.

For specific celebrity examples, click on the link below:

Bones Brennan Character Exemplifies Lack of Empathy

 

Having empathy is a part of emotional intelligence as defined by leaders in the field of EI such as Rueven Bar-On.  Daniel Goleman describes three types of empathy including: cognitive, emotional and compassionate.  In the book It’s Not You It’s Your Personality, it is noted that having empathy is a big part of interpersonal skills.  It has to do with how much we care about other peoples’ feelings and whether we can see things from other peoples’ perspectives.

A recent episode of the TV show, Bones, showed an excellent example of how Emily Deschanel’s character Temperance Brennan lacked empathy.  For those unfamiliar with the program, the Brennan has a high IQ but may lack in the EQ or emotional quotient department.  In this episode, Bennan lacks the ability to realize that her logical thinking and lack of understanding of others’ emotions is rude.  In the episode, Feet on the Beach. Brennan must work with a podiatrist that she feels lacks her superior training and skills.  While this may be fodder for entertainment, people may run into a similar situations at work where they may feel their abilities are being dismissed. 

How can someone so smart lack empathy?  It may be difficult for people to do what Dr. Jeremy Sherman refers to as “shoe shifting” or putting ourselves in another’s shoes.  “When you put yourself in another person’s shoes you risk seeing yourself as others would see you—not quite as special as you think”

How do we improve our empathetic abilities?  One way is to improve our listening skills.  For more tips on improving empathy, check out Sherman’s article in Psychology Today

MBTI and Business Executives Inflated View of Emotional Intelligence

Those interested in how personality affects performance often study the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or Emotional Intelligence (EI) and the relationship to leadership.  Rarely do I run across studies that look for relationships between MBTI and EI.  Leary, Reilly and Brown published a Study of Personality Preferences and Emotional Intelligence where they examined the “relationships between the dispositional factors measured by the MBTI and elements of emotional intelligence (EI) as measured by Bar-On’s emotional quotient inventory (EQ-i).”

For those unfamiliar with the MBTI and the EQ-I, the MBTI measures our preferences for how we like to receive information.  The EQ-i measures our emotional quotient or EQ.  Emotional intelligence has often been defined differently by various authors.  One of the easiest ways to think of emotional intelligence is by defining it as the ability to understand your own emotions as well as those in others. 

In the Leary et al study, their results showed a relationship between Myers Briggs extroversion and emotional intelligence components.  Also noted in the study was a “positive and significant relationship between a preference for the use of feeling in decision making and an individual’s EI.”

When discussing “feeling” as defined by the MBTI, it refers to how one bases their decisions on their values.  When discussing “extroversion” as defined by the MBTI, it refers to how people prefer to focus on the outer world of people and things.  Leary et al concluded, “The positive and significant results for the extroversion and feeling hypotheses seem consistent with the view that EI is related to the ability to accurately perceive and manage relationships.”  

I found the relationship for “feeling” to be the most interesting part of the study due to the high number of “thinking” as opposed to “feeling” executives in the workplace.   The study suggests that using “feeling” when making decisions shows awareness of others’ feelings.  This would be indicative of having emotional intelligence.  

If there are more “thinking” people in business executive positions and this study showed people that were “feeling” had more of a relationship to emotional intelligence, what does that say about our business leaders?  A study of nearly 5000 people by Sala revealed that executives may have an inflated idea of how high their emotional intelligence actually is.  “The results of this study demonstrate that higher-level employees are more likely to have an inflated view of their emotional intelligence competencies and less congruence with the perceptions of others who work with them often and know them well than lower-level employees.” 

What is interesting to note is that one’s MBTI type does not usually change over time.  However, one can develop their emotional intelligence.  The “thinking” personality type bases their decisions on data.  They tend to be logical.    If people with a strong “thinking” preference do not show as high of a correlation with emotional intelligence now, can they develop this based on their understanding of this data?   It seems logical to conclude this is possible.

As with any self-reported data, there are possible limitations to these studies.  I personally have studied emotional intelligence and its impact on sales performance.  I had to take the EQ-i and the MBTI in my training to be a qualified instructor for both assessments.  I came out as an ESTJ and had a high EQ-i score.  I may be an anomaly, but from what I have seen from the work of Daniel Goleman and others, whether someone is a “thinking” or a “feeling” personality, it is important to always be working on one’s EQ in order to be successful.   

Myers Briggs MBTI: Testing Your Relationships

Myers Briggs MBTI personality assessments are often utilized by organizations.  In today’s Wall Street Journal, the article Do You Get an ‘A’ in Personality discussed the importance of utilizing personality assessments in family situations as well. 

Greg Cellini from WSOU 89.5 FM interviewed me recently about this very topic.  One of his questions