Sunday, January 19, 2014

5 Inexpensive Strategies to Make Big Profits in Your Small Business

By VeronicaDrake

The ONLY way to grow your business is to invest in marketing.  The great news is marketing doesn't have to cost you a fortune.

I get it – MARKETING is an uncomfortable word for a lot of small business owners – self included. That was until I broke it all down into bite size pieces that were done on a shoestring budget.

I am going to share with the top 5 areas where you can invest with no money needed.

5 Do It Now Strategies

1. Prime real estate when it comes to marketing your business is your email signature

This is the space on your email underneath your signature.  Here is a million dollar tip – when you are writing this text be creative. Sure you want your links to social media and your website but you also want a dynamic headline that will make people (your IDEAL prospects) go ummmm..

Secret Tip: your blurb is a link back to a blog post – where a prominently displayed box says if you like this post and want more register here!


Carol Winters
Weight Loss Strategist
5 Diet Myths That Will Keep You Fat and Broke

2. Get 'em talking about you

The sure-fire way to gain traction in your industry is to write..write and write – in the ideal places of course. You will need to determine your niche and what they read before you start writing.

A great free resource to get you exposure is HARO – Help A Reporter Out. You can register for a free account and 2 -3 times a day emails directly from reporters looking for stories on various topics will be emailed to you.  You decide what fits and WRITE ON! TIP: make sure you stay on point and write dynamic headlines that will grab your prospects attention.

3. Blogs aren't just for filling space on your website

Blogs can be a huge source of conversion when done properly.  Here's the scoop – you write a fabulous blog (that has a million dollar headline) that is loaded with transformational content for your ideal prospect and you integrate that with social media and you have a great opt-in! TIP: never send prospects to a registration page – they won't like it and neither will search engines!

4. Being Social on Social Media

You sign in to Facebook or Twitter with good intentions but the reality is you find yourself swirling in a lot of wasted time because you don't know what to post. The idea behind Facebook as a marketing tool is to let people see the real you. In today's world people are much more savvy and are more cautious to spend. Your job on social media is to show up being real.

I'm not saying you never ask for a sale but before you can ask you have you build a rapport – build your brand and stay consistent.  If you are posting technical jargon one day and fluffy foo foo stuff the next day you will not only confuse your followers they will be less like to trust you. followers need continuity and they need real.  "Talk to your readers as if they were sitting in front of you."


Morning World.. Who wants coffee?   Integrate this with great info!

This post gets A LOT of LIKES and more importantly comments!

I don't sell coffee and most people will probably never share a cup in person with me but by me asking it makes them feel connected – like they are sitting at my kitchen table. I've build a very stable and consistently interactive following on Facebook and that translates to sales when I do properly post offers.

TIP: you should be posting every hour – I said posting NOT getting sucked in!

5. Create a dynamic elevator pitch

You know that moment where they go around the room and it's your turn to stand up and talk for an ENTIRE 30 seconds about your business – well, that's gold when you do it correctly.

Most people stumble and fumble or give canned presentations.  I have a formula that will help you write out exactly what needs to be said and how to say it.

Here it is for you:

Answer these questions and then use the answers to fill in the blanks

1. Identify who needs you most
2. What is their problem
3. What benefits do you provide
4. What results do they get
5. Share what's unique about you
6. Call to action

I work with ____(1)_________ who are challenged/struggle with_______(2)______and really want to _______(3/4)_________. What makes what I do unique and creates success for my clients is___(5)______________________________And, because of this my clients ___________(4)_________________.  I know you can share the same success and if you'd like to learn more _______(6)________.



Monday, December 30, 2013


The age of judging companies only on their longevity is now past. Great companies solve problem that matter.

Since the 1950s we have been judging companies by their longevity. We fret over how long they stay on the Fortune 500 list, maintain a leadership position, or survive "disruptions."

But does longevity even matter anymore? Isn't longevity just a bi-product of something more important?

I think that great companies are those that dedicate themselves to a problem that matters. When they solve the problem, they exit the stage triumphant. And companies that survive, do so because the problem they exist to solve (their purpose or mission) is so big that there is still work to do. Longevity is not a goal in itself; it is a bi-product of taking on a big problem.

Purina, for example, exists to "connect pets with people." Google exists to "organize the world's information." When will such missions be achieved? Every day, and never, which is why, as long as they stick to and really live their missions, these companies will survive.

Consider Curemark, a biotech company founded by pediatric doctor Joan Fallon. She noticed that many of the autistic children she treated were low on a certain kind of enzyme for processing protein, and that they all had similar diets. Fallon began investigating ideas for alternative treatments.

She's since quit her medical practice and has built a company on her insights. 10 years later, Curemark has raised $50 million, and has completed phase 3 trials with the FDA. In other words, she found a problem that matters.

Here are her four key lessons to successfully build companies that solve problems that matter.

1. Focus on the area that's holding you back

The critical path will determine the speed of progress. It is better to have all areas developing, even if slowly, than one area in trouble. Think about your marketing, sales, production, human capital, operations, finances, etc. Which is limiting your growth? That is the area to focus on.

2. Be willing to pay for great talent

Choosing a doctor, attorney, PR agent, or most types of talent places you in the dilemma of not being able to assess what you're "buying" until it is too late to switch. You think you are getting a good deal by hiring someone who will do the job at a discounted rate. But the mistakes of someone less qualified usually outweigh their savings. Fallon credits Curemark's success to "getting great advice" and surrounding herself with great advisors and talent. What are the critical functions you will need to succeed? Do you have the best talent playing these roles?

3. Don't make fear-based decisions

Fear--that you will run out of money, that your theory is flawed--can lead you to make the wrong decisions. Stop before you commit and ask, "Am I making this choice out of fear?"

4. Understand the rules

Many biotech companies assume the FDA follows strict rules. But the rules, if you're willing to understand them, are malleable. What matters more are the principles like are you protecting patient safety, are you solving a meaningful problem. Don't assume the rules are fixed; instead, probe them with a higher purpose in mind.

As Curemark reaches the successful conclusion of a tough, passionate fight to solve a problem that matters--1 in 88 children in the US are autistic--they are now preparing to solve new challenges by taking a unique technology to deliver solutions into the human body to tackle problems like schizophrenia and other neurological conditions.

Companies don't grow just to grow. They don't last just to last. They thrive when the world needs them, when they are committed to solving a problem that matters. Then there is reason for them to continue your work, to grow, to thrive.

What problem keeps your business going?

Author of Outthink the Competition and CEO of Outthinker, a strategic innovation firm, Kaihan Krippendorff teaches executives, managers and business owners how to seize opportunities others ignore, unlock innovation, and build strategic thinking skills.


Kindness – The Most Valuable Gift

" Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle"

Around five years ago I was sitting outside of a Mayfair coffee shop, having just received a very difficult phone call. I broke down in tears, which is highly unusual for me but the call was the final straw and life suddenly plunged into the realms of 'overwhelming'. Once the tears had started, there was no stopping them… they were silent but in full flow. Conscious of time, I finished my coffee in between silent crying and very loud nose blowing and as I was just pulling myself back together to head back to the office, a middle aged man walked up to my table, handed me a folded up piece of paper, smiled and walked off.  As I read his note, the tears started all over again but this time because of his unprompted intervention and anonymous show of support. This was the first and last time I saw the man but no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. This is what he had written on the folded up piece of paper.


Smile softly when the moon comes creeping

and the night removes the day,

Dream happy when the world is sleeping

even though the clouds are grey,

Be eager when the sun comes peeping

though your thoughts are far away,

Let your heart forget its weeping

For, I will smile for you today.

I was touched by his kindness, moved by the words he had written and right then and right there, the smallest act of kindness was worth more to me than the greatest intention. I would like to thank that man, whoever and wherever he is… he brought me reassurance, peace and inner happiness. The lesson I have learned from this is that in the end, it is only kindness that matters and one kind word can change someone's entire day.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

How Can You Become a Successful Entrepreneur Like So Many Other People Have?

When you want to become a businessman, it can seem like a daunting task because you do not have anyone telling you what to do and when to do it. Therefore, you have to know all this for yourself. There are a lot of people that have started their own business and became a very successful businessman, and you can.
You just need to know what we should do to become a successful businessman. Here are the most important things that you will need to do if you want to find the success that you've been looking for.
One: Know your business inside and out. In other words, if you have been working on golf products, then you want to learn all you can so that when customers talk to you, you do not come across as someone who does not know what they are talking about. Instead, you want to sound knowledgeable about your business, even if you do not know anything about it before it starts. The search can help you learn a lot.
The second: treat your business like a business and not a hobby. A lot of people forget that they are running a business. Therefore, they only work on it when they feel like it. You can not do that if you want to be a successful entrepreneur. Instead, you have to put in the time that is needed no matter how long this is in order to build a successful business.
Three: This is the most important thing you need to do if you want to be a successful entrepreneur that is. You need to educate yourself on the many different marketing methods and then put into practice what you have learned. You want to be 5-7 working marketing methods to bring traffic to your business at all times. Start with one method and learn everything you can about the subject, and then put it into practice, and once it is working effectively to make the traffic of your business, you want to add another one.
These are not all the things you will have to do in order to become a successful businessman, but they are the most important things. Being an entrepreneur is easy, but being a successful one is another story. You will have to work hard, be persistent, and never give up and do whatever it takes to make your new business a success.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Be an Entrepreneur they Said, It’ll be Great they Said

Be an entrepreneur they said, it'll be great they said. And well, it is. I love the freedom that running my own company affords. I'm a college student and my schedule can be a bit crazy from time to time so having the flexibility to set my own hours is great. However running my own company isn't all rainbows and butterflies, it's also full of compromises and uncertainty. How can I, and other young entrepreneurs, handle school, business, life and keep it all fun? Well here are some thoughts.

Advantages of running a business in college

Flexibility- It's exam week and things are getting hectic, you've got a helluvalot on your plate and you really need to focus on school right now. In my experience I've been able to work ahead and inform clients that I'll be down that week. This is advantageous compared to a job that you may be working with a bunch of other college students and when everyone needs time off then someone is going to get screwed. I've been able to avoid that, so can you.

Networking- I've been able to make some sweet connections because I do some web design. Connections that, I hope, will benefit me when I'm no longer a full time student.

Disadvantages of running a business in college

You don't have a boss- It's a pro and a con. I love that I don't have anyone, other than the occasional client, breathing down my neck as I work. However not having a boss also means I have to set my own schedule, I have to make sure the client is happy, and I have to make sure things actually get done. Oh and there's also the whole making sure that your staying profitable and clients are paying.

You don't have a 'space' to work- This has been one of my biggest struggles for me, especially since I moved off-campus. Having my 'office' in my bedroom is difficult. I've got that comfortable bed, food, and a house full of roommates doing things that seem more fun than checking for little bugs in a website. So having that focus that comes with a dedicated office space can be a struggle.

Money can be inconsistent- There won't always be money flowing in. Some months may be spectacular and others may not be the greatest so it's important to know how to manage your money. Set budgets and don't break them. It will be the end of you. Just because you have a great month it doesn't mean you need to spend all of it. Reinvest in your company, have a little fun, but save. Save a decent amount so you can support yourself in months that aren't the best. I'll be talking about my approach to finances soon, so make sure you don't miss the article.

Managing it all

Make lists- I LOVE to make lists. I've got my to-do list for school with all my to-do dates and I do the exact same for work. List out the tasks that need to be done for that week and assign specific due dates. Keep yourself accountable.

Find somewhere on or near campus to work- When I'm on or near campus I feel obligated to get things done. Therefore I find it important to find a place to make your office. Only use it for work, not studying, that way when you're there you need it's time to make money.

Keep a journal- Keep a journal for certain, consistent, time periods and be honest. When you review your journal or as you're writing it you'll realize what you got done and if you need to make any changes.

Where's the proof?

How do you know I'm not just blowing smoke, making this up as I go? Well, to be honest I am. It's a constant learning experience for me and I'm always revising things. I've played with businesses, in reality they were just side projects that I made a buck or two from, but they've all taught me a unique lesson about creating something. My latest venture is HandleBar Labs, a web design and development agency that focuses on creating great experiences and enables college students to get real world experience.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Charles O’Reilly: Why Some Companies Seem to Last Forever

The survivors can both manage existing business lines and prepare for change.
All companies hit rough patches from time to time. But only a few manage to survive decade after decade — some of them in a form that bears no resemblance to the original organization. Nokia began in 1865 as a riverside paper mill along the Tammerkoski Rapids in southwestern Finland. In the late 1880s, Johnson & Johnson got its start by manufacturing the first commercial sterile surgical dressings and first-aid kits. And in 1924, the founder of Toyota came out with his company's first invention — an automatic loom.

What explains this longevity? Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor Charles O'Reilly calls it "organizational ambidexterity": the ability of a company to manage its current business while simultaneously preparing for changing conditions. "You often see successful organizations failing, and it's not obvious why they should fail," O'Reilly says. The reason, he says, is that a strategy that had been successful within the context of a particular time and place may suddenly be all wrong once the world changes.

Staying competitive, then, means changing what you're doing. But the change can't be an abrupt switch from old to new — from print to digital distribution, say, or from selling products to selling services — if that means abandoning a business that's still profitable. Hence the call for ambidexterity. You can't just choose between exploiting your current opportunities and exploring new ones; you have to do both. And the companies that last for decades are able to do so time and time again.

O'Reilly's work builds on that of other organizational scholars who have noted the value of a two-pronged survival strategy. In a seminal paper published in 1991, Stanford Professor James March wrote about the need for organizations to do two things at once, and articulated the challenge. "Both exploration and exploitation are essential for organizations," March wrote, "but they compete for scarce resources." That means organizations that try to do both face difficult trade-offs, choosing one only at the expense of the other. Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen went a step further, pointing out in The Innovator's Dilemma in 2011 that the very things that make an organization successful today will actually work against it as conditions change. It's not just that resting on your laurels is tempting, or that managers are blind to the changes around them. Rather, innovation can easily seem like a threat to a business that is already working well.

When Christensen wrote The Innovator's Dilemma, he saw no way out, O'Reilly says, except to spin out the innovative part of the organization. According to that approach, the best way for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., for example, to cope with the advent of internet retailing was to continue to focus on its brick-and-mortar stores and to spin off website as a separate company, as it did in 2000.

But a spinoff doesn't really solve the problem, O'Reilly says, because it doesn't help Wal-Mart make money in the long run. A better way, his research suggests, is to run the mature business alongside the newer business under the same organization — but, crucially, to do it in a way that makes smart use of the organization's resources.

A good model is the way in which Wal-Mart is rolling out its Express stores, the much smaller alternatives to the company's behemoth supercenters and among its best hopes for continued growth. This venture, which is moving in on the turf occupied by the likes of CVS and Walgreen, seems likely to pay off, O'Reilly says, because Wal-Mart's senior managers aren't merely moving into a new, related business; they're leveraging "the strengths of the mother ship" to do so. For Wal-Mart, those strengths are in real estate, purchasing, logistics, and information technology — all capabilities that will be useful in the drugstore business, too.

Christensen, O'Reilly says, now sees ambidexterity as the solution to the innovator's dilemma, but not everybody does. The idea that organizations can reshape themselves to adapt to change runs counter to a decades-old tradition in organizational studies that says, in effect, that organizational survival is a matter of luck. That school of thought, influenced by evolutionary theory and known as organizational ecology, holds that the companies that survive today are products of natural selection. These organizations have the right features to thrive in their current environment, organizational ecologists say, but sooner or later, the environment is bound to change. And if it changes in ways that favor a different set of traits, the argument goes, an individual business can't adapt any more than a zebra can change its stripes.

That view is too fatalistic, O'Reilly believes, because it ignores managers' power to learn and change. If Wal-Mart is continuing to grow while Sears is in decline, it's because Wal-Mart's leaders are deliberately doing the right things.

O'Reilly and his colleagues, especially his close collaborator Michael Tushman, of Harvard Business School, have found what some of those things are. Above all, an ambidextrous organization needs a leader with an "overarching vision," or clarity about why different businesses within the organization are important. But their research also shows that problems arise when other senior managers disagree with that vision. Therefore, the leader must also "make sure that everybody is singing off the same hymnal," O'Reilly says.

Managers must make sure their organizations actually align with that vision, as well — a difficult feat, given that different business units' cultures and incentives might be tugging them in different directions.

The best leaders manage to pull it off. One example is Glen Bradley, who in the early 1990s led Ciba Vision, a maker of contact lenses that was losing ground to Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson had the economies of scale to defeat Ciba Vision in the market for conventional lenses, so Bradley redirected his organization's resources toward developing innovations, such as contacts that people could wear while sleeping. At the time, the concept of extended-wear contact lenses was to conventional contacts what digital photography had been to Kodak's film business: If successful, many feared, the new product would kill the old one.

To make clear why the old business should support the exploratory projects, Bradley crafted a new vision for the entire company: "Healthy Eyes for Life," a statement whose breadth conveys the idea that the company should pursue whatever technologies and opportunities they had to promote healthy eyes. To forestall conflicts over resources, he set up a separate organization for each project, each with its own research and development, marketing, and finance group, and each headed by a leader given free rein to create the right culture to meet that organization's goals.

At the same time, Bradley wanted to make sure the new projects benefited from the expertise of the old business, so he put all of them under the control of a single executive, who knew the old business and had the personal relationships to facilitate sharing across divisional boundaries. Bradley also revamped the company's incentive systems, to reward managers mainly for the performance of Ciba Vision as a whole. Thanks to these efforts, the new project teams became remarkably productive: Besides new types of contact lenses, Ciba Vision successfully introduced a drug to fight eye disease and pioneered a manufacturing process that greatly reduced the cost of making lenses. In the first 10 years after Bradley's move to ambidexterity, the company's annual revenues grew from $300 million to more than $1 billion.

Ciba's experience shows that with deft ambidextrous leadership, an underdog can stand up to a powerful rival. But Johnson & Johnson could have done what Ciba did. We often think of large organizations as lumbering bureaucracies incapable of swift change, a notion perpetuated by highly visible David-and-Goliath stories in business. (Think Netflix trouncing Blockbuster, which had years to respond to the little company with the red mailers.) In fact, large companies are often better-positioned for ambidexterity than small ones, O'Reilly says, because one bad bet won't wipe them out.

"If you're a small company, you place all your chips on this one thing, whereas a large organization can do lots of experiments," he explains.

IBM, an organization that O'Reilly has studied extensively (and for which he and Tushman have consulted), is a case in point. In 2000, the company's leaders, acknowledging that running their existing businesses with incremental improvements wasn't enough to grow revenue, launched a project to foster more exploration. Called Emerging Business Opportunities, the initiative might sound like just another stuffy big-company acronym. But reading O'Reilly's descriptions of the EBOs makes them look almost like startups within Big Blue, with each reporting to a division head and to the head of new growth opportunities — somewhat the way entrepreneurs remain accountable to their funders. Like actual startups, some of these organizations failed to bear fruit. But there were enough of them (seven in the beginning) that in the first five years alone, the EBOs added $15.2 billion to IBM's top line, O'Reilly and his colleagues report, or more than twice as much as acquisitions did.

A recent study by O'Reilly and colleagues suggests that while IBM's experience was extraordinary, the company does have something in common with other thriving organizations. The researchers looked specifically at what type of corporate culture was associated with growth in revenue and net income, and found that more adaptive cultures, or ones that emphasized speed and experimentation, did much better. "A culture that says, 'We don't have all the answers; we've got to try these experiments' — that's the type of culture that promotes ambidexterity."

What determines the ideal balance between exploration and exploitation is one of the big open questions in the research on ambidextrous organizations. It's safe to say, though, that the right amount of experimentation has much to do not only with a company's resources, but also with the pace of change in its industry. "If the industry isn't changing rapidly, doing 100 experiments is unproductive and expensive. But if you don't do experiments, you're likely to be in trouble if the industry is changing."

Charles O'Reilly is Stanford GSB's Frank E. Buck Professor of Management.

James March is the Jack Steele Parker Professor of International Management, emeritus.

Marina Krakovsky


Friday, December 6, 2013

Daily Planning for Success is an Entrepreneurs Pot of Gold

By Jackie Nagel

Someone once said, "People don't plan to fail—they fail to plan." Undoubtedly, none of us plan to fail but without an ongoing business planning process in position, we certainly are planning to be overwhelmed, distracted, and pulled off course on a regular basis.

Small business entrepreneurs who adopt an ongoing business planning process enjoy that pot of gold of greater efficiency, effectiveness, productivity, clients, and revenue. No matter how much business planning makes your stomach turn, the success you'll enjoy in your business is worth every queasy moment.

We created the Daily Goal Planner with you, the busy entrepreneur, in mind. Its purpose is twofold:keep you focused on the most critical activities to move your business forward and shift you from "doing your business" to "growing your business". You can download it here for free.

With your weekly plan for success in place, you're ready to properly plan each day to make sure your primary focus is on actions and activities directly linked to achieving your goals. Using the Daily Goal Planner, follow these five steps to ensure you're moving toward your goals each and every day:

- Enter your Long Term Goals.

The primary importance of setting goals is to provide direction and purpose. Clear, concise goals keep you focused and precede success. When setting your goals, be sure they are SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. The duration of a long-term goal varies from business-to-business; however, most experts recommend a period of 3-5 years.

- Record your Short Term Goals.

The period of effectiveness for a short term goal, much like the long-term goal, is business-dependant. When establishing the time duration for your business, select that which gives you the greatest degree of clarity and focus. For most, this is one month. Make sure your short-term goal(s), aligns with your long-term goal(s)

Although the Daily Goal Planner allows you to enter and save data, we strongly recommend you re-enter your long and short-term goals each day to reinforce your direction and strengthen your goals.

- Determine your Top Priorities.

Although it seems like everything takes precedence, when it comes to achieving goals, yourtop priorities consist of the most important projects and/or actions that advance your short and long-term goals.

- Design your day.

Equipped with the top priorities needed to further your short and long-term goals, you're ready to plan your day. Considering all previous commitments, set aside the time required to accomplish your top priorities.

- Catalog your To Do.

This is where you list other actions in need of your attention for the day. Be careful not to list more than what realistically can be completed given your known time availability.

With your goals clearly defined and focused on your top priorities, you are ready to launch a high performance day. Here's to planning for success! It's magically delicious!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Only Way to Grow Huge

By Sam Altman

All companies that grow really big do so in only one way: people recommend the product or service to other people.

What this means is that if you want to be a great company some day, you have to eventually build something so good that people will recommend it to their friends--in fact, so good that they want to be the first one to recommend it to their friends for the implied good taste.  No growth hack, brilliant marketing idea, or sales team can save you long term if you don't have a sufficiently good product.

You can trick yourself for awhile, though: growth is measured on a percentage basis from last month.  When you are still small, you can spend a lot of money marketing or advertising and have a big impact on usage growth.  But eventually, you get so big you simply can't spend enough money to move the needle--you need your ever-increasing userbase to keep getting you more users.  There are exceptions to this, of course, where monopolies are involved--Microsoft may turn out to be the interesting test case of the extreme outer limit of how long you can manufacture growth.

The only way to generate sustained exponential growth is to make whatever you're making sufficiently good.  For example, refer-a-friend-to-earn-credits programs work if the product is good enough to recommend anyway (e.g. Dropbox, Uber).  But they fail for most other startups that try them, because the product isn't good enough yet.

Having a growth team is still a good idea--you almost always need to jumpstart things.  But don't forget about what you actually have to accomplish.

Thanks to Jack Altman for reading a draft of this.







Ah, ideas. Who doesn't want more great ideas? I know I do.

I usually think about ideas as being magical and hard to produce. I expect them to just show up without me cultivating them, and I often get frustrated when they don't show up when I need them.

The good news is that it turns out cultivating ideas is a process, and one that we can practice to produce more (and hopefully better) ideas. On the other hand, often times great ideas can also just come to us whilst in the shower or in another relaxing environment.

First, let's look at the science of the creative process.

How our brains work creatively

So far, science hasn't really determined exactly what happens in our brains during the creative process, since it really combines a whole bunch of different brain processes. And, contrary to popular belief, it includes both sides of our brains working together, rather than just one or the other.

The truth is, our brain hemispheres are inextricably connected. The two sides of our brains are simply distinguished by their different processing styles.

The idea that people can be "right brain thinkers" or "left brain thinkers" is actually a myth that I've debunked before:

The origins of this common myth came from some 1960s research on patients whose corpus callosum (the band of neural fibers that connect the hemispheres) had been cut as a last-resort treatment for epilepsy. This removed the natural process of cross-hemisphere communication, and allowed scientists to conduct experiments on how each hemisphere worked in isolation.

Unless you've had this procedure yourself, or had half of your brain removed, you're not right or left brained.

We do have a rough idea of how these processes might work, though.

The three areas of the brain that are used for creative thinking

Among all the networks and specific centers in our brains, there are three that are known for being used in creative thinking.

The Attentional Control Network helps us with laser focus on a particular task. It's the one that we activate when we need to concentrate on complicated problems or pay attention to a task like reading or listening to a talk.

The Imagination Network as you might have guessed, is used for things like imagining future scenarios and remembering things that happened in the past. This network helps us to construct mental images when we're engaged in these activities.

The Attentional Flexibility Network has the important role of monitoring what's going on around us, as well as inside our brains, and switching between the Imagination Network and Attentional Control for us.

You can see the Attentional Control Network (in green) and the Imagination Network (in red) in the image below.

A recent review by Rex Junge and colleagues explained what they think might be happening in our brains when we get creative. It generally involves reducing activation of the Attentional Control Network. Reducing this partially helps us to allow inspiration in, and new ideas to form. The second part is increasing the activation of the Imagination and Attentional Flexibility Networks.

Research on jazz musicians and rappers who were improvising creative work on the spot showed that when they enter that coveted flow state of creativity, their brains were exhibiting these signs.

Producing new ideas is a process

The production of ideas is just as definite a process as the production of Fords; --James Webb Young

In his book, A Technique for Producing Ideas, James Webb Young explains that while the process for producing new ideas is simple enough to explain, "it actually requires the hardest kind of intellectual work to follow, so that not all who accept it use it."

He also explains that working out where to find ideas is not the solution to finding more of them, but rather we need to train our minds in the process of producing new ideas naturally.

The two general principles of ideas

James describes two principles of the production of ideas, which I really like:

An idea is nothing more or less than a new combination of old elements.The capacity to bring old elements into new combinations depends largely on the ability to see relationships.
This second one is really important in producing new ideas, but it's something our minds need to be trained in:

To some minds each fact is a separate bit of knowledge. To others it is a link in a chain of knowledge.

To help our brains get better at delivering good ideas to us, we need to do some preparation first. Let's take a look at what it takes to prime our brains for idea-generation.

Preparing to get new ideas

Since ideas are made from finding relationships between existing elements, we need to collect a mental inventory of these elements before we can start connecting them. James also notes in his book how we often approach this process incorrectly:

Instead of working systematically at the job of gathering raw material we sit around hoping for inspiration to strike us.

Preparing your brain for the process of making new connections takes time and effort. We need to get into the habit of collecting information that's all around us so our brains have something to work with.

James offers a couple of ideas in his book, such as using index cards to organize and distill information into bite-sized pieces. Another suggestion is to use a scrapbook or file, and cross-index everything so you can find what you need, when you need it.

Bringing it all together

The hard work is mostly in gathering the materials your brain needs to form new connections, but you can do a lot to help your brain process all of this information, as well.

In a paper by neuroscientist Dr. Mark Beeman, he explains how we come to our final "aha" moment of producing an idea, by way of other activities:

A series of studies have used electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the neural correlates of the "Aha! moment" and its antecedents. Although the experience of insight is sudden and can seem disconnected from the immediately preceding thought, these studies show that insight is the culmination of a series of brain states and processes operating at different time scales.

I love the way that John Cleese talks about these aspects of creativity and how our minds work. He gave an excellent talk years ago about how our brains develop ideas and solve creative problems, wherein he discussed the idea of our brains being like tortoises. Here's how I explained his theory when I wrote about it earlier this year:

The idea is that your creativity acts like a tortoise--poking its head out nervously to see if the environment is safe before it fully emerges. Thus, you need to create a tortoise enclosure--an oasis amongst the craziness of modern life--to be a safe haven where your creativity can emerge.

He offers a couple of useful ideas to help you achieve this, as well:

Set aside time

John says your thoughts need time to settle down before your creativity will feel safe enough to emerge and get to work. Setting aside time to think regularly can be a good way to train your mind to relax, eventually making this set time a safe haven for your tortoise mind to start putting together connections that could turn into ideas.

Find a creative space

Setting aside time regularly sends a signal to your brain that it's safe to work on creative ideas. Finding a particular space to be creative in can help, too.

This is similar to the research on how the temperature and noise around us affects our creativity.

Let your brain do the work

This may be one of the hardest, yet most important parts of the process of producing ideas. I think James Webb Young says it best:

Drop the whole subject and put it out of your mind and let your subconscious do its thing.

Something else John Cleese talks about is how beneficial it can be to "sleep on a problem." He recalls observing a dramatic change in his approach to a creative problem after having left it alone. He not only awoke with a perfectly clear idea on how to continue his work, but the problem itself was no longer apparent.

The trick here is to trust enough to let go.

As we engage our conscious minds in other tasks, like sleeping or taking a shower, our subconscious can go to work on finding relationships in all the data we've collected so far.

The Aha moment
James Webb Young explains the process of producing ideas in stages. Once we've completed the first three, which include gathering material and letting our subconscious process the data and find connections, he says we'll come to an "Aha!" moment, when a great idea hits us:

It will come to you when you are least expecting it--while shaving, or bathing, or most often when you are half awake in the morning. It may waken you in the middle of the night.

How to have more great ideas

Understanding the process our brains go through to produce ideas can help us to replicate this, but there are a few things we can do to nudge ourselves towards having better ideas, too.

Criticize your ideas--don't accept them immediately

The final stage of James's explanation of idea production is to criticize your ideas:

Do not make the mistake of holding your idea close to your chest at this stage. Submit it to the criticism of the judicious.

James says this will help you to expand on the idea and uncover possibilities you might have otherwise overlooked.

Here it's especially important to know whether you're introverted or extroverted to criticize your ideas from the right perspective.

Overwhelm your brain--it can handle it

Surprisingly, you can actually hit your brain with more than it can handle and it will step up to the task.

Robert Epstein explained in a Psychology Today article how challenging situations can bring out our creativity. Even if you don't succeed at whatever you're doing, you'll wake up the creative areas of your brain and they'll perform better after the failed task, to compensate.

Have more bad ideas to have more good ones

It turns out that having a lot of bad ideas also means you'll have a lot of good ideas. Studies have proved this at both MIT and the University of California Davis.

The sheer volume of ideas produced by some people means that they can't help having lots of bad ones, but they're likely to have more good ones, as well.

Seth Godin wrote about how important it is to be willing to produce a lot of bad ideas, saying that people who have lots of ideas like entrepreneurs, writers and musicians all fail far more often than they succeed, but they fail less than those who have no ideas at all.

He summed this up with an example that I love:

Someone asked me where I get all my good ideas, explaining that it takes him a month or two to come up with one and I seem to have more than that. I asked him how many bad ideas he has every month. He paused and said, "none."

How do you come up with ideas every day? I'd love your thoughts on this in the comments below!

--Belle Beth Cooper is a Content Crafter at Buffer and cofounder of Hello Code. Follow her on Twitter at @BelleBethCooper.

This post originally appeared on Buffer, and is reprinted with permission.


Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes

By Mackenzie Nordal

Maggie Kuhn had a good point we can all learn from:

Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.

In my last blog I suggested that good writing can be less about word craft, taxonomy and grammar, and more about two important factors that precede the writing completely, and which are equally important in the quest to create a piece of writing worth reading:

- Establishing a point worth making
- Having the courage to make it

The second can be hard, though, for individuals and businesses, when the message might divide the readership. Some assertions might upset people, or breed disagreement, anger, or even loss of faith in the writer or organisation. The key in communicating something controversial like this is to avoid an arrogant tone and an unnecessarily lengthy format: be brief, be brave, and say what you mean to say with conviction and purpose.

And vitally, remember that most assertions worth making will breed disagreement. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm, but nothing great was ever achieved without dividing and upsetting people either.

Sometimes, an important point that must be made will stir the pot and divide your audience, but what's that old saying? There's only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that's not being talked about.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Most Successful Entrepreneur Status – Climbing the Ladder to Success

To be a successful entrepreneur will need to be self-confident
To be a successful entrepreneur will need to be foremost self-confidence and an unwavering faith in your abilities. You have to be dedicated, willing to work long and hard, and take disappointments in stride and shake off the failure and move on and learn from your mistakes and not lose sight of your ultimate goal, which means staying strong.
As Gordon Ramsay, the world-famous Michelin-starred chef and the winner puts it, to become the most successful business man, "The secret is to make sure that the ongoing work to perfection with or without me." And you will find that this is true in the case of every successful entrepreneur. People start out with nothing more than dreams or visions and a lot of self-confidence. They have grit and determination to turn those dreams and visions into reality – and real live companies that help them to achieve a state's most successful businessman.
There are many lessons that can be learned from the success stories of a thriving business, which started from scratch with nothing more than a desire to become the most successful businessman.
Bill Gates needs no introduction, and he began programming at the age of 13 but had a dream that he later turned to the Microsoft Corporation. Turning this dream a reality, and kept this the most successful entrepreneur in the upper part of the pile as the richest man in the world for a long time.
Ben & Jerry's, think delicious ice cream! Began Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield career working at the gas station! Much toil, struggle and failure marked the way to success. Today they both can be considered among the most successful entrepreneurs, even with the presence of each other success stories.
Name Oprah Winfrey is synonymous with entertainment.
This has a huge personal climbed up Description Heights – had a dream and worked hard on it. Today it is really worthy of developing the most successful businessman.
There are many men and women who have a passion and drive to turn visions into reality. What's paying them? One of the key elements that you will find by searching is time management. If you do not have this skill the results you will achieve will only be mediocre at best.
To become the most successful entrepreneur, you need to develop your time management skills to such a high degree of perfection that not a minute spent is wasted. You can expect, anticipate and work in order to make every minute of every day products results. No! It is not recommended that you are working with the exclusion of everything and will produce results, but in all areas of your life to create a sense of cohesion and harmony.


5 Steps for Direct Mail to Success in Your Small Business

Sometimes the best way to beat the competition is not to play the game. Most of us are familiar with the story of Billy Penn and A in Oakland, but just a quick summary: A manager Billy Beane was trying to run Major League Baseball team on a shoestring budget. Realizing that he simply cannot compete with the strategies of the team put together Beane took unheard of approach to statistical analysis, and was able to build a team capable of competing with the overlooked, but talented players. Thanks to its unique approach, and it reached to the playoffs 4 years in a row.

Small business owners need to approach their marketing as if they are A in Oakland. You cannot afford to spend (and waste) money on direct mail campaigns how can a huge company, so here are 5 strategies how you can maximize your direct mail budget and improve the return on investment.

No one (small) test run: Undoubtedly you have worked hard to design a direct mail piece. And you should be proud of it, but the odds are it's not perfect. This is why testing is so important. Of course, you may not be able to afford to send batch test of a person on your mailing list. Instead, e-postcard to a small part of your list, and measuring reactions. Track the number of calls you receive, and try to get some useful feedback from those people who do not respond. You can also take this opportunity to split test two different designs to see which is most effective.

Setting goals:
The goal is clear for a direct mail campaign is to generate more business. But you have to take on strategic planning after a few other steps in order to make an effective campaign. Setting goals that you want to hit your rate response, the rate of new customer, ROI and whatever other measures are important to you. These objectives will also come in handy when you're running your test drive. If you do not reach these numbers through your test, it's time to make adjustments.

First impression:
Imagine that you are the door-to-door seller. You've got about 5 seconds to get the attention of homeowners. This is one opening line that makes the difference between the sale and the door slammed in your face. Envelope, or outer packaging is direct mail campaigns your opening line. Use Custom envelopes featuring a clever line or interesting picture, instead of the standard # 10 envelopes can mean the difference between being opened your piece, or being tossed in the trash.

Include a call to action:
When it comes to designing acquisition direct mail pieces, and sometimes you cannot see the forest for the trees. It is confirm & clear to you that the recipient needs to take action, but you have to be clear when you design your postcard. Tell the recipient exactly what you should do. Whether it's a "visit our website" "Act now before the expiry of this coupon" or "Contact us today," effective call at work is an essential part of direct mail marketing.

Mail to the list right:
If you are sending this direct mail piece to everyone who ever stepped foot in your store or registered on your site, you're wasting money. Segmentation is critical, and can send a direct mail piece to the right audience to improve return on investment by reducing private spending. Thinking that a direct mail piece will appeal to the most, and then remove anyone from your mailing list that do not fit the personality of the buyer.
Remember, as the owner of a small business, you do not have the time or money to waste, such as large corporations. But these 5 tips can help you to beat them at their own game!


8 Ways to Become a Better Boss


No one intends to be a bad boss. Some just don't know any better. Here are 10 tips that will help any boss improve.

Some get to be boss by luck and others earn their way into the driver's seat.  Unfortunately, many people become a boss without getting proper training to manage. There is no sinister conspiracy at work--sometimes entrepreneurs focused on taking a product to market or heirs to family businesses find themselves in charge without knowing how to effectively manage people. Even great performers who rise to leadership positions may not have been trained to manage others.

Being a boss isn't complicated, but it does require some focused thought and attention to be amazing. And since many people are putting their faith in you, don't you owe it to them to be your best for their sake?  Well, here are 8 tips to help you reach your full boss potential.

1. Set reasonable objectives. Every boss has a lot to accomplish. Often the load is heavier than humanly possible to carry alone. But transferring the work arbitrarily down the line won't help the overload. More likely it will just create chaos and frustration. You were made the boss so you could manage the flow, so do just that. Assess your team and mete out the workload that is manageable. Establish a reasonable number of specifically articulated goals and drive the team to complete them so they can obtain victory and confidence.  Then you can raise the bar for next year.

2. Lead instead of dictate. Just because you are the boss doesn't mean people will do what you say. If they don't respect your authority, they will perform at a minimum level to retain their own security. Leaders must inspire their followers to greatness. Help everyone connect with the objectives so they take ownership. Then they will do their work with pride and care and be grateful for the empowerment.

3. Accentuate the positive. So many bosses spend a great deal of time correcting subordinates for every little thing they do wrong in hopes they'll eliminate errors and increase efficiency. Unfortunately people don't thrive well in an environment of constant criticism. The great motivator Tom Hopkins says it best:"Keep your eyes open and try to catch people in your company doing something right, then praise them for it."

4. Scrutinize your own performance. Becoming the boss is truly the beginning of your journey. You now have more autonomy, but that comes with responsibility. Your biggest task is to grow thyself.  Nothing will inspire those who work for you more than seeing you identify your weaknesses and consciously and publicly make the necessary adjustment. The great part is that every time you succeed then entire team benefits.

5. Invite others to solve problems. Ok, so as the boss, you are now accountable for everything that goes wrong. That doesn't mean you have to do everything necessary to fix it. Your team wants to help. They want to work together to solve problems for the benefit of all involved.  If someone isn't interested in helping for the greater good, then by all means, be a good boss and either motivate or remove him or her from the team. Either way you and the team can move forward with strength and pride.

6. Listen more than you talk. Yes, you have lots of experience and advice to share with those working for you. But that doesn't mean you have to share it all the time. Don't be so quick to shut down the thinking process with your direction. Otherwise your team will think less for themselves and become solely dependent on your brain. Let them explore the problems and find their own great solutions. Listen to make sure they don't get too far off track. Who knows, you might learn something new yourself.

7. Pick your battles. You can't and shouldn't fight every issue. You don't want your team to feel battle weary.  Direct your own attention and efforts only to where you will have most impact. Otherwise, install critical stopgaps and give the team the ability and the power to make most of their own decisions and fight their own battles. The process may take a little longer and they may fail, but they will learn more and gain proficiency after every win or loss.

8. Make it personal. For many people work is a means to an end. Chances are your team members have a life outside the office and their work supports that life. The people who work hard for you do so with dedication and responsibility to the company, in order to support their own need for pride and self respect. Be generous with gratitude, praise and concern for their individual wellbeing. Otherwise you may not have many amazing employees around to call you boss.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

How to Achieve More in Your Small Business with Less Effort

By Jackie Nagel

Shhhhhhh! Come closer.  I want to share a secret with you – a simple secret about how you can achieve with less stress and difficulty.Are you ready? Here goes….goals aligned with your personal values create a vacuum that pulls you forward, puts you "in the flow", and allows you to perform at your highest level.

Tell you more? I'm so glad you asked. Let's face it…we likely all grew up learning traditional goal setting. Traditional goal setting, based on needs and wants and driven by time-frames, has worked effectively for years given the long-established industrial age. With the dawn of the information age, goals set in the conventional manner are no longer an effective way to achieve. In fact, it's very much like using DOS in a Mac world – it's ineffective, flawed, time-consuming, and energy intense. In the fast-paced information age of today, a more advanced goal-setting system is needed.

Barbie* (not her real name) discovered the ineffectiveness of traditional goal setting the hard way. In business since 1997, Barbie has always been a high-achieving entrepreneur – until recently. It was becoming much more difficult for her to achieve. What came easily and effortlessly years earlier was now a chore. She worked harder, pushing herself to achieve her goals. Even at full speed, she was getting less done and missing her targets. More importantly, it was taking a toll on her health. It was at this time Barbie reached out for business coaching to maximize efficiency and income.

With her desired outcomes identified, Barbie was introduced to the concept of values-based goals as a way to achieve her goals effortlessly. As an innovator, she was open and willing to try new and different ways to succeed. Thank goodness!

What are Value-Based Goals?

Defining value-based goals begins with defining values. Personal values represent the behaviors and activities to which you are naturally drawn. Values are really about who you are. They provide a clear sense of what's most important to you. Personal values are NOT shoulds, have to's, or moral/ethical ideals.

Value-based goals, then, are those wrapped in your personal values. They tap into your core beliefs and talents to energize your success. Value-based goal achievement brings excitement, authenticity, and effortlessness to those ready to succeed in a different way – like Barbie.

Do Value-Based Goals Enhance Success? 

Any time we turn away from the known (even when it's not working) and venture into the unfamiliar, it's a bit disconcerting. Barbie is the first to admit it "felt wrong not to follow traditional goal setting". Conventional business wisdom led her to believe she needed to check her personality at the door and follow traditional techniques even when they didn't fit her personality or style.

After identifying her personal values, Barbie reframed her goals around her four key values of triumph, experiment, exhilaration, and imagination. The result?  Barbie now achieves her outcomes more easily. Her results improved, as did her income!

Following unconventional wisdom, Barbie is learning to achieve differently with value-based goals. She's given herself permission to honor her true self again. And, she encourages others to show consideration for their authentic selves.

Values-based goals aren't just for the chosen few – rather it is for the few that choose to achieve in a way that respects who they are, energizes their success, speeds their learning, and enriches their efforts. Don't you deserve to experience the fulfillment of values-based goals? It is, after all, the ultimate gift to give yourself.

What Does Barbie Want You to Know?

By the way, Barbie wants you to know that it was really FUN to go through the process of finding her core values and setting goals around them. Her work is more fun now, too. She hadn't had fun in a long time and the process set off a real fun-fest. Aside from the continually increasing income (even when she took time off), she started to really enjoy parts of work again.


Staying Motivated (getting through a slump)

By Sara Doucette

I used to be an artist.

For a few years I worked as an illustrator and colourist and at the same time, worked part time jobs at call centres to supplement my income. Then I had the perfect job for about 2 years – I was working as a colourist, doing projects for comic books and advertising storyboards. It came to an end when I got fed up with being underpaid, overworked and undervalued so I took a 9-5 job in a financial services company.

The work wasn't particularly interesting for an artistic person such as myself but the pay was decent and they treat their employees very well (annual ski trips, anyone?). It was ok for a couple of years but then it started becoming hard to get up go to work every morning. I decided I needed to change my life and pursue other options. The opportunity came soon after I made that decision and I was offered a job abroad, still within the same company.

While everything was new I was doing fairly well but soon I started feeling dissatisfied once again with my work life. I needed to do something that I enjoyed as well as more creative, in order to be happy. But what could I do? I didn't want to go back to being a freelancer illustrator (I honestly wouldn't know where to start) nor did I feel I had any other job worthy skills besides call centre agent or admin, which would be more of the same of what I was doing already.

Around the same time I decided to start blogging again, to at least have some creative outlet in my life. Blogging about personal style and travel really kept my sanity and I took it seriously: I started skipping going to the pub with my friends to stay in and practise my writing or edit photos. One day it dawned on me that I could actually do this for a living and that would be perfect, because I loved it. So I started paying more attention to Social Media and Marketing websites and attended a few blogging seminars.

At the same time I started applying for Marketing related jobs but wasn't having much luck as besides my own blog, I didn't have any business experience in the area. But I didn't give up. After all, happiness was at stake – I started having work related anxiety issues and depression and didn't want to live like that for the rest of my life.

So I carried on blogging, networking and soaking up as much information as I could. After applying for numerous jobs that I didn't get, I decided to go directly to the right people, to let them know passionate I am about blogging, social media and how much I wanted to learn. All the preparation I made on my spare time paid off as I was given the opportunity to do an internship within the Marketing department, developing my own blog project (and a pay rise too!). I currently have a job that I enjoy, learn a lot every day and I am on my way to developing a career and a future – and this is only the beginning!

I just told you my story. If you feel you are in the same position I was in, read on as I will tell you a few things I have learned about staying motivated that might help getting you through a slump.

- Despite what we might think the Universe can actually conspire in your favour. Many times you may get disappointed because you didn't get something only to realize later that you had something better coming your way after all. Patience is key.

- That doesn't mean sitting back and waiting for things to happen. Hard work is necessary at all times.

- If you really are passionate about something, you have an advantage over people who do a job just because they have to. Experts are people who are passionate about something and try to learn as much as possible about it.

- Don't be afraid to talk to people and let them know your worth. Sometimes there is no other way of getting on their radar. Unfortunately, sitting quietly in a corner waiting to get noticed doesn't usually work, except in Hollywood films.

- Have a clear objective of what you want to do in your life. Saying 'I want to do something different' isn't enough. Decide what you want and go get it!

- Self-motivation is extremely important and don't expect to get it from other people as most will not understand why you are not going out for drinks with them, until they actually see you progressing. In my case, not wanting to be depressed was a huge motivation (plus the prospect of having a real career I enjoyed).

-Quite often we are actually better than we think we are. Trust your instincts and don't let self-doubt get in the way.

Sara Doucette loves cats, shoes and blogging about a million things. You can follow her adventures on her blog Hello The Mushroom ( or Twitter (@hellothmushroom).


10 Networking Tips: The Art of Building Business Relationships

By Jackie Nagel

In our rush to succeed in this spirited marketplace, it appears that consumers, vendors, employees, business colleagues, etc. have been reduced to mere account numbers, projects to be completed, Twitter followers, Facebook friends and email addresses. Yet, no matter how advanced the technology, business success is still dependent upon three key factors: 

- Network – who you know and who knows you
- Reputation – what others know and think about you
- Relationships – how well others know you

The most important of these is relationships. Building relationships is a common-sense business-building strategy that easily gets lost in the quest for victory. Yet, it is the depth of the connections between you, as the business owner, and those you encounter, that dictate your reputation, as well as, the extent of your network.

What does it take to build long-term successful relationships that ultimately contribute to your success? After defining the kind of business relationships you desire, allow for thoughtful planning to consider a few straightforward approaches to deepening your business associations:

- Connect with key relationships on a quarterly basis.
- Continually add value to each relationship.
- Learn to contribute to others rather than seduce or hook them.
- Make relationships more important than results.
- Leverage your schedule to allow adequate space and sufficient time to expand relationships.
- Send thank you notes, birthday cards, and letters of congratulations.
- Be present when speaking with others whether it's by phone, email, or in-person.
- Correct miscommunication immediately.
- Relate to others as you would like others to relate to you.
- Invest in your personal development to increase your personal capacity to relate.

Building business relationships furthers business, promotes referrals, facilitates mergers, expands your network, and builds your reputation. Your connectivity influences your productivity. People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.


I'm the Boss! Why Should I Care If You Like Me?


Many people assume that it's possible for a person to be an effective leader without being likable. That is technically true, but you may not like the odds. In a study of 51,836 leaders, we found just 27 who were rated at the bottom quartile in terms of likability but in the top quartile in terms of overall leadership effectiveness — that's approximately one out of 2,000.

Our likability index, based on data collected from 360 assessments, measures a broad set of behaviors that go far beyond smiling and having a pleasant personality. To see the complete list, and take a self-assessment of your personal likability, click here.

Likability sounds like an immutable trait — something people either have or don't. But our experience in working with thousands of leaders suggests otherwise. Our 360 data from these 50,000+ leaders highlighted seven key steps executives can take to substantially increase their likability.

1. Increase positive emotional connections with others. Just like the flu or a cold, emotions are contagious. If a leader is angry or frustrated, those feelings will spread to others. Conversely, if a leader is positive and optimistic, those emotions also spread. Be aware of your emotional state and work to spread the positive emotions.

2. Display rock solid integrity. Do others trust you to keep your commitments and promises? Are others confident that you will be fair and do the right thing? We like leaders we trust; we dislike those we distrust.

3. Cooperate with others. Some leaders believe that they are in competition with others in the organization but the purpose of an organization is to unite employees to work together in a common purpose.

4. Be a coach, mentor, and teacher. Think about someone who has helped you develop or learn a new skill. How do you feel about that person? Most people have fond and positive memories of coaches and mentors. Helping others develop is a gift that is never forgotten.

5. Be an inspiration. Most leaders know very well how to drive for results. They demand excellence. They insist that employees achieve stretch targets. In other words they push. And the best bosses do this as well. But that's not all they do. The most successful leaders are also effective at pulling. They roll up their sleeves when necessary and pitch in with the team. They communicate powerfully. Inspiring leaders, as you might expect, are more likeable.

6. Be visionary and future focused. When employees do not clearly understand where they're headed and how they'll get there, they become frustrated and dissatisfied, feeling like passengers with no control and few options except complaining. Sharing a vision of the future and helping team members understand how to get there inspires confidence: It's hard to like a leader who's lost in the wilderness.

7. Ask for feedback and make an effort to change. Our 360 data show clearly that most people rate themselves more likable than their bosses, peers, and direct reports do. How can you bridge that gap? As the graph below demonstrates, there's a strong correlation between a leader's likability and the extent to which they ask for and respond to feedback from others. Feedback from others helps leaders to understand the impact (positive or negative) that they have on others.

You can be more likeable. Identify two of the actions from the list above that would most help you in your current situation. A great way to start would be to ask for feedback and ask team members to identify which activities would have the most value to them. Make a plan, identifying some specific steps you will take to improve, and then stick to it. Ask others for feedback on your progress.

And, oh by the way, if you are a man, this is even more important for you to consider, because in all probability, you are less liked than your female counterparts, and that's hindering your effectiveness as a leader.

Jack Zenger is the CEO and Joseph Folkman is the president of Zenger/Folkman, a leadership development consultancy.


In the Game of Social Media, You Play to Win or You Die (Kind of)

By Erin Nelson

Whether genius or novice, it's time to accept you are a self-publisher and get to it. It's the only way to hone your expertise.

Have you ever woken up and thought: "I have something valuable to say." Or maybe: "Man, I wish more people would buy my product so I could finally buy that set of golf clubs." What about: "If just a few more people would hire me for my expertise, I could help my kid pay off their college loan debt; I could afford to buy the organic vegetables. Maybe, I could even go to Bora Bora."

One way to counteract these painful morning mantras is to take action. This publishing platform helps you do so. Here's how:   

1. It allows you to tell your personal story. Riddle me this: would you rather take advice from someone you know, feel you understand and respect - or a stranger that abrasively shouts their ideas and "knowledge" into your face in the form of a verbal driveby. Unless you are giving into hedonistic tendencies (thank you, Fifty Shades of Grey), the answer is a no brainer. Tell people who you are, what you do, what you know, how you can make their lives easier - and they will begin to trust you. There are few better ways to do this than by writing a thoughtful, engaging and informative article. You don't have to be a journalist; you just have to have an innovative perspective, fervor to share it, and a platform to publish. Why, hello there. 

2. It allows you to promote your brand. So you muster up the courage to tell the world about yourself and why you are worthy of being heard. Your fan club and bank account are going to be close to zilch if you don't find a way to relate who you are to what it is you offer. Here, you can write about your company, your brand, your service, and how your business is going to better the lives of your target group. Put in an endless amount of links to your site and get down the business of making relevant connections and influencing your buyers. (We know, this is unqiue; that's part of what makes us special.) 

3. It allows you to share your knowledge (educate). You are what you know. Too soon for clichés? Here's the skinny: in order for your target audience to choose your business, company or brand over your competitors, they have to believe you are the best at what you do. What better way to win the social media dual than by publishing your expertise? Put down in writing what you know – and make sure it relates exactly to what you offer. Expertise is your valued sword in B2B; exploreB2B encourages you to sharpen and utilize it.

4. It allows you to show people in your industry you are a leader. Sharing knowledge is one important element of establishing influence; elevating it among a group of established leaders is another. Did the Lord of the Rings acquire the ring without the help and association of an established circle of comrades? (I am honestly asking, I have never seen the movie or read the books. Sorry, Tolkien.) Becoming a recognized leader in your niche reaps powerful benefits. Besides those in your industry coming to respect and spread your knowledge, people who are looking for the precise information, products and services you offer will be able to find and trust you. Don't just aim to be the best. Aim to be the best amongst a circle of people who can promote, teach, and inspire you.   

5. It allows you the opportunity to share enough information so that people can begin to trust you. One Tweet a week won't cut it. Neither will a malnourished Facebook page. Establishing yourself as an expert requires a commitment to educating your target audience of your expertise. Self-publishing allows you the (easy) opportunity to do so. Communication is key, but content is king. Don't lock yourself out of the castle by failing to take advantage of the biggest opportunity since Apple reacquired Jobs.

"In the Game of Social Media (er, Thrones) you play to win, or you die."

This is drastic. (And yes, I have seen too many 'Game of Thrones.') Yet, the same goes for your business and content marketing campaign. If you don't seize the opportunity to thoughtfully convince your target audience that you are best at what you do: someone else will conquer your leadership role; someone else will own your niche, and it will be someone else who takes home your earnings. 

Claim your throne and get to publishing. 


Saturday, November 30, 2013

How to Be a Creative Entrepreneur

There is a great line in Alice in Wonderland when the Queen says, "Sometimes I think of 6 impossible things before breakfast." I think you will agree that this should be creativity at its best! As an owner of a small business and this is the perfect you really need to strive for … But how on earth you can open your mind to get to the point where the ideas just stretching?
It is expected to be creative and innovative, but how they can run their own company small business owners? If you have a sneaky feeling that creativity is not one of the strengths you have what it can do to stimulate the brain and get it kicked – it started?
Be Unlimited
A very large number of people 'intellectuals limited'. They put their world directly in the box and nothing can exist outside of it. If the newspaper reports something then it must be right. If Joe next door says that something is impossible then he must be right. As an owner of a small business, and you can not afford to be 'limited thinker'. You have to be 'unlimited thinker'. Get in the habit of seeing any limits; decide that there are no taboos. They have to believe that with a bit of focus you can find a creative solution to all your problems. This is the basis for the process of creative thinking.
The future will be focused on
Creative ideas always come when you look 'in the future. Feeling push yourself forward and vision to solve the problem is a great motivator. Do you think that you can achieve the same result if you are focused back? I do not think so! Train yourself to be focused on the future, and always looking forward, not a traditional thinker who is trying to find answers in today's world.
Be a writer
Once you open your mind to the joys of creativity and ideas start flowing quickly, as if someone had opened the flood gates! Just like the flood water, unless you catch him ideas are lost for ever. Capture all your ideas that carry a small pocket notebook with you. Soon emerges idea in your mind, write it down. It does not matter how strange it is, you can look at it in the cold light of day later.
The fact that you are responding to the reference to them ideas will further encourage you to be more creative – Favors encourage increased goodness!
Be free of clutter for
If you are naturally a person untidy, then get out of the habit! A cluttered desk leads to a cluttered mind. You can not expect your brain to work efficiently when all she's doing is constantly reminding you of how untidy desk. Be creative remove all the clutter from your life and free your mind.
Be oriented work
All of these points are great, but if you do not take any action with your own ideas, you might as well have not bothered. The idea is only a thought, but if you take specific actions to help bring it to life. Periodically review the laptop and see if there are any hidden gems, or ideas that you can quickly take action on. There are a lot of ideas may not fit at all, but somewhere in there is probably an idea, which, if acted upon, could change you or your business. Full commitment to move forward in the largest possible number of your ideas as you can.
Do not be afraid to break down the walls. As John Stuart Mill said: "That which seems the height of absurdity in one generation often becomes the height of wisdom in the next century."
Let me conclude with one question – you can be creative enough because we reject as a dreamer? No? Then get exercise!


Monday, November 25, 2013

5 Steps to Take Your Product From Concept to Reality

By Christina Le Beau

Jules Pieri started The Grommet, a product-launch platform, after realizing that contemporary entrepreneurs have ready access to manufacturing technology such as 3-D printing but no easy way to get their products into consumers' hands.

Since 2008 The Grommet has brought 1,500 companies and 6,000 products to market through its online store, which produces video reviews and social media campaigns that emphasize the people behind the products. Says Pieri: "Our first cut isn't: Will this product sell well? It's: Do people want to know this story?"

Pieri, who serves as CEO, walked us through the steps for taking a product from concept to reality.

I have an idea for a product. Now what?
Make sure there's a large market opportunity. I see a lot of mompreneurs, for instance, who are solving a very narrow problem that their child will have for only six months. Don't overlisten to your own needs. Do Google searches and see how many people are searching to solve the same problem. Check reviews on Amazon to see whether there are existing products.

What's the best way to prototype?
Start with the elementary toolkit of foam board, cardboard. You can also do 3-D printed prototypes. We had a pitch session at Fenway Park where an 8-year-old came with a 3-D printed prototype. You can rent those machines for $15 an hour now, so they're not inaccessible. If you're starting to get the kind of response you'd hoped for, you might need a visual presentation, too. I love when someone reaches out to a designer or engineer to help move to the next level. Or you can join a hacker lab to try out ideas.

At what point should inventors consider crowdfunding?
They should get a rough prototype together first. One insider tip: Make sure you get at least 20 percent of the campaign pre-funded before it goes live; 81 percent of campaigns that have a head start are successful. Crowdfunded campaigns also are a good way to get some market intelligence. If you can get a product funded, that's a good validator. The main drawback is that campaigners can be unprepared for success--you have to quickly figure out how to deliver everything you promised.

How do you decide whether to produce in-house or outsource?
There are online inventor communities that are useful for those kinds of questions, but you can also find someone with a product in the same vein--not a competitor, but someone who uses the same kinds of processes. Sometimes people don't feel confident just picking up the phone, but anyone who has cracked this really loves talking about it. It's a real triumph to crack supply chains. When it comes time to price, make sure you create a margin structure that later allows for retail partners. Generally you want the manufacturing cost to be one-fifth of the retail price.

What are some common rookie mistakes?
You'd be surprised by how many people have a wonderful product and get a big order from someone like us, and we get an e-mail saying, "I'll be back in two weeks." They're not taking their own business seriously, and that's the kiss of death. It seems so basic, so obvious to not do that, but we see it often. The way you can get things produced today, you don't necessarily need to have the business skills to complement that, so people aren't always prepared.