Innovation is about bringing something new and different to market. It is the lifeblood of corporate growth; the path to winning in new markets and surviving in existing ones.
Life-altering innovations are rare, but memorable: the Model T Ford, the first television set and, most recently, the smartphone. Successful innovations on a smaller scale occur more frequently. Think about the Swiffer mop, Tide Pods laundry detergent, or liquid water enhancers.FULL ENTRY
When a company’s R&D team is based in Israel, the global sales teams is dispersed throughout Europe and Asia, and the U.S. headquarters is in Cambridge, Mass., making sure those remote teams are always working toward the same goals is complicated because in-person meetings are almost certainly a rare occurrence.
Are you a holiday traveler? A frequent business flyer? You may at this moment be stuck at the airport, staring at your mobile device, seeking distraction from the long lines and travel delays ahead.
Take a break to look around (then come back and finish reading). What is the airport telling you about where you are? Do you notice soaring architecture? Restaurants serving regional specialties? Sports shops hawking the jerseys of local teams? Advertisements for nearby museums? Do you feel that this airport you’re trapped in is consciously letting you know that it’s part of a larger place? A region? A city? A country?
The technology market is more competitive and complex than ever before. Building, growing and maintaining a global software company in an increasingly competitive market is no easy feat – take it from me, someone who has done it a few times. No matter the technology, however, there are a few key building blocks to use as you work to establish and quickly expand a business across key global markets.
The holidays are upon us, a time of year when many corporations are looking to bolster their philanthropic activities with meaningful programs centered on the season. Philanthropic need does not have just one season, but the holidays present an opportunity to harness the giving spirit to spark a philanthropic strategy that lasts throughout the year. The challenge, however, is to carry that momentum into a year-round effort.
Now that I’m a grizzled startup veteran (at the ripe old age of 38), first-time CEOs occasionally seek me out for advice. I’ve met with some truly brilliant people and have even had the pleasure of playing advisor to a few great companies and CEOs. But there’s one mistake that I made myself and I see a lot of first-time CEOs make: they routinely foul up with leadership talent.
Even when cash is stockpiled to the ceiling, customers are lining up outside the door and PR is buzzing, first-time CEOs are almost universally pennywise and pound-foolish in their approach to building their leadership teams.
Business technology is undergoing a massive overhaul. Over the next decade, cloud computing, mobile, data analytics and new security technologies will completely transform existing IT systems. But who is bringing these disruptive technologies to market?
It is well known that Boston has become a thriving ecosystem in which entrepreneurs forge their businesses. There are accelerators for hardware, healthcare, software and social enterprises; affordable shared workspaces; open curriculum and workshops for those looking to build new skills, technical and fundamental. The list goes on.
I recently attended a panel discussion in the Boston area called “Collaboration Technology: The Evolution of Business.” The panel, moderated by Chad O’Connor, editor of the Global Business Hub blog on Boston.com, included two CIO’s from large companies, Sue Bergamo and Reid Nuttall, as well as David Carr, Editor-at-Large at InformationWeek and author of “Social Collaboration for Dummies,” and Tom O’Keefe, a Brand Ambassador and highly followed social media guru. [You can view the recording here.]FULL ENTRY
Once again leading the nation by example, Massachusetts is the first state in the US to ban businesses from putting organics (generally food and plant waste) in the trash. With a staggering food waste problem just starting to be addressed in the US, eyes are on Massachusetts as we change a problem into a job creating, energy producing, and money saving opportunity.
Most of us either have that one secret recipe, or know a master home chef that has that amazing recipe, that everyone covets. They are constantly being asked to bring that cake, guacamole, or in my case, grits to the parties and barbeques. “This is so good, you should sell this!” is the frequent refrain until one day, you just have to take the plunge and try out your food passion as a business. Massachusetts has a growing artisan community on all fronts, but especially food. Our numerous farmer’s markets, specialty shops (both brick and mortar and online), and incubators are paving the way for local entrepreneurs to take their products to market and connect with consumers in new ways.
Back in June, I posted a two-part blog series covering various persons and companies that had filed for “Boston Strong” trademarks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and analyzed the likelihood of registration. You can read the original entries here and here. I wrote them a mere two months after the bombing tragedy here in Boston and the USPTO hadn’t yet responded to any of the applications, so many branding and trademark experts could only speculate how the chips would fall. Well, in July 2013, the USPTO answered all of the pending applications. So where are the now, and what is the fate of “Boston Strong” and its trademark rights?
The 10th Annual Executive Forum "Best Companies, Best Practices: Keeping the Competitive Edge," moderated by Rita B. Allen, co-sponsored by Bentley University, Gatti & Associates and Rita B. Allen Associates, was held on October 24, 2013, at Bentley University. In her welcoming remarks for the tenth anniversary of the event Gloria Larson, President of Bentley University, expressed her enthusiastic support of this forum and emphasized the importance of talent management in organizations. She went on to share many of the accomplishments of Bentley University including the 98% placement rate for its undergraduates (either in jobs or graduate school) and encouraged the HR professionals in the audience to partner with Bentley.
Four Questions to Ask Yourself When Seeking an IT Partner
Bootstrapping a startup from scratch requires a lot of time and energy. An often overlooked, but critically important component to any organization’s success begins with information technology management. Whether you’re getting a company off the ground or running an established enterprise, clear communication and integrated IT operations are essential.
Fourteen years ago – back when “cloud” was purely a descriptor for unwanted weather patterns and far from synonymous with anything technology related – Marc Benioff disrupted the multi-billion dollar enterprise software industry when he launched Salesforce.com and famously declared the “End of Software.”
It’s finally over. Win or lose, the candidates and the voters alike are probably relieved. Months ago, candidates and their staffs crafted plans to meet the three basic requirements of a campaign: raising money, developing a broad and effective communications strategy and conducting a robust get-out the-vote effort. How campaigns meet these requirements has changed radically over the past decade as new tools and techniques have become available.
The mark of a company with a great candidate experience is one where even those candidates you turn down for a job opportunity recommend you to other people in their network.
And yet, 75% of businesses fail to create a positive candidate experience, according to a recent survey by CareerBuilder.com, by something as basic as not replying to applicants.
Part 1 – Policies and Procedures
Many organizations are developing enterprise-wide governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC) programs. GRC programs include governance (the processes by which executives and boards manage the enterprise), risk management (the processes by which management addresses risks to the enterprise), and compliance (the processes with which the enterprise complies with applicable laws and regulations). As enterprises become increasingly information-intensive, the protection of information assets is becoming more important in all three primary aspects of GRC programs.
It happens to a number of terrific, small businesses. Operations are moving along swimmingly. Your margins are high. Profitability is within reach, and you’ve got a number of customers lining up – but you need a quick infusion of cash in order to scale your operation and meet the oncoming demand.
LinkedIn is the professional way to connect and get found. It has over 161 million registered users in over 200 countries and territories, with new users signing up at a rate of approximately 2 per second. Linkedin users tend to be of higher income level, are over 35 years of age, and are typically the decision makers. Linkedin is a leader for B2B, headhunters and recruiters.
Google holds LinkedIn in high regard; if you Google your name, you’ll likely find your Linkedin profile within the first page of those results. And we know 80% of searches take place on Google. So you want your profile to be polished and ready to go!
There are lots of networking tips available, but we don’t often get tips on what to avoid. For a variety of reasons, it is important to be well networked, maintain your network, stay top of mind, treat others like you would want to be treated, and avoid mistakes. Not doing the right thing often happens unconsciously and can lead to lost future business. Below are some networking tips to to keep in mind.
In his article “Will MOOCs help you open career doors?” Scott Kirsner reveals that, while employers may be impressed by the initiative that completing a MOOC signifies, they are more interested in seeing what can be accomplished with one’s newly-won knowledge. In other words, it’s not about certificates of completion in the real world, it’s about completed pieces in a portfolio.
[The We are the Creative Industries series: The Creative Industries - video game companies, design, marketing and architecture firms, and talented people who write books, design houses, shoot movies, make art and record music, just to name a few examples - are an important part of Massachusetts' economy, with $1 billion statewide impact and over 100,000 workers. Click here to learn more.]
Many brand strategists believe the age of marketing your company using a fancy space is over. After all, consider that 10% of Americans work from home at least once a week; department stores are losing out to online retail giants, even boutiques today are online and selling worldwide! Online companies like Trunk Club, Gilt, and Farfetch are proving to high-end retailers such as Barneys and Nordstrom that customers don’t just want designer products, but competitive pricing as well.
[The We are the Creative Industries series: The Creative Industries - video game companies, design, marketing and architecture firms, and talented people who write books, design houses, shoot movies, make art and record music, just to name a few examples - are an important part of Massachusetts' economy, with $1 billion statewide impact and over 100,000 workers. Click here to learn more.]
If it’s not on Instagram, did it ever really happen? We all know that without an online presence today, you might as well walk around invisible. This fact is as true for brands as people today. Sure, solutions of viral ads, saturating SEO, leading content management, and social media campaigns are out there, but businesses are still asking what are my customers looking for? Remembering that brands are people, asking how some of the most influential individuals tackle their online presence, is a great starting place.
[The We are the Creative Industries series: The Creative Industries - video game companies, design, marketing and architecture firms, and talented people who write books, design houses, shoot movies, make art and record music, just to name a few examples - are an important part of Massachusetts' economy, with $1 billion statewide impact and over 100,000 workers. Click here to learn more.]
Like people, brands should aim to have a look, a style which helps identify them in the crowd. Unlike people however, when making a first impression brands are limited in how far they can elaborate their own story. Often your company’s first and only direct dialogue with a customer is visual. So, if the visual experience of a brand fails to capture who you are, forget about explaining “the drycleaners lost my best suit!”
Brands are personalities. There are some brands you like, some you love, some you can’t stand. Brands, in essence, are people.
With the high cost of finding and training new employees, minimizing turnover incentivizes value-conscience business owners. After all, at critical stages of a company’s evolution, finding and retaining top talent can be the difference between long-term success and filing for bankruptcy.
Why Massachusetts’ Technology Sector Needs to Stay in the Political Conversation After the Tech Tax Repeal
When technology leaders across the Commonwealth received notice of a new 6.25 percent software sales tax that had just made its way through the state legislature, the notoriously apolitical innovation economy went into a frenzy. Blindsided by the news of a new burdensome taxation that would severely impact their ability to succeed, technology companies of all sizes, specialties, and operating systems struggled to interpret a series of broad and overarching guidelines to figure out how they would be translated into regulations and delved into the financial specifics with CFOs to see if it would be possible to incorporate the new costs into their pricing schemes and contracts.
Content marketing has become a popular buzzword for brands in recent years, but creating a steady flow of relevant content isn’t as easy as it sounds. In fact, when the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs ran a joint survey last year, survey results showed that 64 percent of respondents cited producing content as their biggest challenge.
Content marketing works well when it’s done consistently, but without a long-term strategy and a commitment to producing content, many brands simply get frustrated and give up. Just look at the staggering number of corporate blogs that contain a handful blog posts and haven’t been updated in months!
More than once, a successful entrepreneur has told me: “If I knew how hard it was going to be to start a business I would have never done it.” Consequently, when aspiring entrepreneurs ask what the key thing is when starting a company, I don’t tell them how hard it is, but do tell them that there is one big decision they need to make right up front: decide whether to “be a business” or “run a business.”
To be a business doesn’t mean you work by yourself, but it does lend itself to those who want to be in control, be hands-on and involved in day-to-day tasks. Most importantly, being a business is for those who get great satisfaction from serving customers and seek a great quality of life.
Unless you’re a marketer yourself, the idea of customer relationship management (CRM) is likely not high on your priority list. Yet, when you stop to think about how often brands are actually courting you, you understand that, even as a consumer, you should have a vested interest in CRM. The fact is that you are too often dealing with companies that just don’t know who you are. They’re pushing information to you on the wrong touch point or at the wrong time, and you may not even care about said information in the first place. Certainly you can think of a time – or many times – when you’ve been put off by a company that is reaching you at the wrong time or on the wrong tone; it’s a fact of life. But, should it be?
When operating any business especially retail and manufacturing, collaboration is always a key piece of the puzzle. But how do you effectively achieve collaboration when there are numerous collaborators and they’re all peppered across the globe?
The cloud is key. Cloud-based technologies enable companies to go far beyond the limitations of traditional collaboration by providing platforms for seamless project management that are accessible from any location.
The average college student drinks at least their weight in beer, attends 144 hours worth of classes, and is in $30,000 worth of debt. Foregoing the debate on whether higher ed is worth it (most times it is) there is a growing need for students to take ownership over their financial destiny.
This is the current landscape our intrepid freshman are about to navigate:
Your work day isn't over after 5 p.m. and it shouldn't be. Smart employees will make the most of their time outside of work in order to gain the skills, network and notoriety that can support their careers inside the workplace. By getting involved in industry-related groups, volunteering at charitable organizations, working on passion projects and even taking up a sport as a hobby, you will be a well-rounded professional and have a more meaningful life. Whether you get involved with your colleagues or not, the relationships you build will open up new opportunities and allow you to learn from others’ experiences. Outside activities allow you to click with people based on mutual interests that might not exist through your day job.
Portugal has a bright outlook, and it's not just because of the beautiful weather. In meeting with the business and government community here there was a decided tone of optimism in spite of the bad economic news that is frequently reported. Yes, unemployment here is high (even higher for the young) but that doesn't deter the Portuguese from talking about the startup focused sea change they see coming in the next few years. Here's a snapshot of what's going on at just 3 exciting startup centers:FULL ENTRY
Apple launched the modern smartphone era during summer 2008, and in a little less than five years, the technology giant reached 50-billion App Store downloads. During this time, apps have evolved in many ways, including how they are monetized. From the initial focus on encouraging (paid) downloads to the current focus on monetizing in-app usage, mobile app publishers are beginning to think about what’s next for monetizing the app. In particular, they’re thinking about how they can leverage insights and data to maximize success.
Datacenter downtime means an organization can’t serve its customers and it can’t execute transactions, leading, potentially, to thousands of dollars of lost revenue. Recent data shows that 76 percent of companies experienced an outage in the last year and only 13 percent of those outages were the result of natural disasters. Most “disasters” are related to human error and minor power outages, and the expectation is that data recovery should be fast without flooding, torrential rain, or other factors to address. However, using a backup solution to meet business continuity needs will not work. Data backup is simply not a comprehensive information and application recovery solution.
Is it really possible to integrate career, family, and life? Of course several factors are at play. You have to find a system that works for you, but I have found it is possible. Yes, it is a juggling act. And yes, you have to learn to ask for what you want. Thankfully there is a book on this subject that I highly recommend, The Orange Line: A woman’s guide to integrating career, family, and life. I interviewed one of the authors, Jodi Ecker Detjen, to get her insight.
Exercise more. Snack less. Unless it’s broccoli. Have all you want of that.
How much do you walk every day? Is it more than Mike in accounting? Want to challenge him? Come on, I dare you.
Do you have chronic conditions? How are you treating them?
Pop quiz. Are the quotes above from:
1. Your mom/the little voice in your head that tells you what you “should” be doing (admittedly, these may sound similar sometimes … or maybe that’s just me)?
2. Your doctor?
3. The “wellness” program that your company’s HR department has recently rolled out to staff with great fanfare?
Community building is like planning a party. And as the community manager, you play the role of “host.” The same rules for throwing a memorable party apply when working to grow your online presence, communicating a clear message, representing your brand, and making connections. To do all of this successfully, you must have the right disposition, the focus to convey a particular message, and the ability to make it all look effortless. Additionally, as the community manager, you have to be the life of the party.
The personal investing landscape has changed radically over recent years. A culture that was once defined by information scarcity, secrecy and hoarding has been dramatically altered by the increased data availability and openness brought by the Web and social media. As a result, we find ourselves in an age of information plenty and more and more investors are turning to social networks and platforms as critical channels for investment strategies and action. The challenge has become managing the signal to noise ratio to identify and take advantage of accurate and valuable information.
We’ll land that big enterprise deal any day now…
Let’s say you’re a start-up technology company with a great product searching for its first enterprise customers. The pressure is on to find the first few customers who will validate your business, right?
If you’re trying to raise money from venture capitalists, you need customers so the VCs can make reference calls. If you’re bootstrapping the business, you need the cash that a first customer can bring.
Editor's Note: As I travel through parts of Europe in August I will give periodic updates on what's going on with the the startup and larger business communities in various areas. This first installment will talk about Dublin.Spending a few (surprisingly sunny) days in Dublin, the bustle of this city is striking. Dublin has strongly positioned itself internationally to grow its own tech community with an infusion of foreign-born talent and major-name companies (Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo!, Etsy, Indeed, Ancestry.com, Marketo, Dropbox, and HubSpot who was featured here on this a while back...need I go on) anchoring the Grand Canal area and spreading out from there. Here are some observed and gathered musings on what's sparking this resurgence.... FULL ENTRY
Most businesses produce some volume of sensitive information, and must entrust their employees to ensure it stays protected. While most employees are happy, or at least obligated, to protect their employers’ secrets, they are still human beings, and if you are reading this then you know that humans make mistakes. The inherent fallibility of people is exactly why it is essential that companies not only prioritize data security, but make sure that the technology and policies they put in place do not interfere with employee workflows.
All the data security technology in the world and a textbook of policies are not going to make a difference if they are so complicated that employees simply circumvent them for the sake of efficiency – or getting the job done.
Do you have a great idea for a products or subscription based service? Looking for ways to get started without wiping through your savings or pouring hundreds of hours into writing a 30 page business plan that almost no one (that can get you anywhere) will want to read? If so I strongly recommend you perform a “test” launch or as the industry calls it a “beta launch” to market test and better define your product offering. These aforementioned steps will help prove whether or not you have a case for a sustainable business and will be valuable “traction points” in helping to build your case for funding. Keep your day job for now and dip your feet into the online advertising ocean and make some splash (pages). While you are still a small company, the more sharks you come across early on, the better.
Many of the hottest businesses nowadays (think businesses that offer specialized curated products and services like meal delivery services and fashion subscription box services) claim their key to success has been inspiring market demand.
Despite the abundance of pregnancy and health industry websites, Jessica Munroe co-founded a healthy gift giving site for pregnant women and new moms.
Here is advice on how to succeed in an already crowded market.
When I started in PR in 1997, the “online version” was a nice-to-have, we blast-faxed press releases and mailed hard copy press kits. In the mid-2000s, bloggers threw this approach on its head (see the infographic at the end of this piece) by shortening deadlines, expanding news reporting to all hours of the day, breaking embargoes and having sharp opinions. In 2011, there were 164 million blogs, up from 3 million in 2006.
Facebook debuted in 2004, and social media made it possible for organizations to have conversations more directly with their audiences. Today, Facebook has one billion active monthly users and Twitter has 200 million. Social media moved PR metrics from impressions to engagement and influence. And now, social media is once again fundamentally changing the news as we know it. The opportunity for successful PR campaigns has never been greater, but the old tactics don't work anymore.
As of December 1, 2012, Benefit Corporations (“B corps”) became an available entity type in Massachusetts (MGL 156e). If you haven’t been following the movement B corps “are a new type of corporation which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.”
When I wrote my first blog on the subject in 2010 (exploring pros and cons), the Benefit Corporation designation was only a third party designation granted by B Lab, a non-profit group. Since that time B Lab has been busy working with states to create an actual benefit corporation structure that includes state mandated transparency and accountability. Now B corps have been approved in 14 states. (Breaking News: Delaware’s Governor, Jack Markell, enacted benefit corporation legislation on July 17th, 2013. Delaware is seen as the leader in setting corporate laws and policy, and is considered to be the most attractive venue for investors and international business. This is a big step towards taking social enterprise from the fringe to the norm. You can read the press release here.)FULL ENTRY
So, you want to start a business? Well, I’m certainly not going to stop you. In fact, I’m a lawyer that helps people do that all the time, so it goes a long way towards paying my bills. Even so, I believe that there’s a fiction many entrepreneurs (and, for that matter, students) have been sold, and that fiction is that success is gained by some magic combination of forward momentum and desire.
“The way to get started is quit talking and start doing.” - Walt Disney
Thanks, Walt. That’s super helpful with bootstrapping a new venture. Rather than think through what I can reasonably do with what limited resources I have, I’ll just throw whatever I can scrape together at the endless sea of possibilities floating around in my head (which may be possible when you have infinite money). Those other people that tried the same thing but failed? I’m sure they just didn’t want it badly enough.
Disclaimer: In order to access most of the hyperlinks in the article, you will need to be 21 or older. Sorry, folks. Those damn lawyers really screw everything up.
As a trademark attorney, I deal with a lot of interesting situations (at least, I think they’re interesting) surrounding brand names. Many times business owners will come to me with what they believe is a simple question: Can I use this brand name? Unfortunately it’s rarely that simple, especially in industries that have seen a recent surge in popularity such as the craft beer industry.
How do you manage creativity, communication and the exchange of ideas? There are ground rules for communications and collaborating ; we know them from basic meeting etiquette – respect other people’s ideas, no question is a bad question, criticize the thought not the person, and so on, but to actually “manage” the collaboration process? That’s like asking if you can manage or control innovation.
In today’s information age, it seems the more sensitive data that companies produce, the more vulnerable they become to malicious probing. The rise in cyber-attacks emanating from foreign nations are underlining a new threat from external hackers and online organized crime. Complicating the security landscape even more are companies’ own employees, who are causing crippling security breaches from the inside. What’s particularly frightening is that employees don’t have to be malicious to be a danger; in fact, many of the leading threat incidents faced by enterprises today implicate unwitting insiders. This was the case with South Carolina’s Department of Revenue, where an employee unknowingly clicked an email link and opened the government agency to a large-scale cyber-attack, costing the state $14 million and compromised the personal and financial data of millions of residents.
A change in executive leadership at a corporation is always a fragile period, often cloaked in secrecy. It’s an especially sensitive time if the company is also grappling with others issues, like product quality or financial problems.
That’s precisely the issue that the popular yoga apparel marketer Lululemon Athletica is dealing with after the firm’s CEO resigned unexpectedly. Christine Day’s resignation comes in the wake of trouble for the company earlier this year, when Lululemon was forced to recall yoga pants after customers discovered that they were actually see-through.
INBOUND 2013 is this August 19-22 at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center, with over 100 sessions, 5,000 attendees, keynotes from Arianna Huffington and Nate Silver, and INBOUND Rocks headliner OneRepublic. Check out the website for more details. Early-bird pricing ends
today July 4th.
Marketing is at a crossroads. People have dramatically changed. The way we live, communicate, and absorb information is evolving on a fast-track built by digital innovation.
We think in 140-characters or less.
We scroll when we used to turn the page.
We’ve traded talking for typing.
The digital age has empowered consumers to tune out marketing...and they are.
When you think of enterprise mobility today, do you think of a traveling or remote workforce? That’s part of it, but far from complete. Even in a company with a singular location, time spent behind desks is dwindling. Workers are dashing between meetings, teaming in hallways or conference rooms and perhaps including remotely distributed teammates beyond the “normal” workday. That means workers need to be just as, if not more productive in and out of the office. Business leaders shouldn’t just be concerned with “remote” or “mobile” workers. Nearly everyone is carrying a device and there is immense opportunity to transform organizations through mobility.
If we're human, we think we're better than we really are, at least according to some recent studies. It's not just in Lake Woebegon that everyone is above average.
Even given our self-inflation, my experience is that many managers are smarter and know better where their organizations need to go than the people that work for them. Perhaps it's a result of promotions actually going to those that merit them, or perhaps it's just that the position of a manager provides a more strategic perspective.FULL ENTRY
In today’s workforce, startups tend to be composed of young, eager employees led by 20-somethings or serial entrepreneurs. Compared to corporations, startups seem vastly different: fast-paced and nimble versus rigid and slow moving with lots of red tape to navigate. But these perceptions don’t necessarily reflect reality; executives with years of experience in leadership positions within global companies can actually prosper and excel in a startup – and, in fact, bring some unique advantages to the table.
If you’re building a business or trying to make your existing company grow, monetization needs to be the first thing on your mind.
As an angel investor, I hear thousands of business propositions that stress innovation and lack the necessary monetization. These business developers walk through my door with great passion and excitement about their idea, but often miss the most crucial part of building a company. I remind them that even the greatest idea in the world cannot be built without a suitable business model of how to make money. Having sold numerous companies, I firmly believe that focusing on how to make $1 into $2, is not only the key for allowing a company to get off the ground, but to subsequently survive.
Many of us will be familiar with the recent controversy at Harvard when Resident Deans became upset because they weren’t notified about searches of their email and claimed that the administration had behaved in an “unfair” manner.
Was it unfair? Well, they had some right to be unhappy as their email usage policy did specify that they would be notified “before or soon after” the search event and they weren’t. Some were only notified almost six months after the fact. But it wasn’t so much the late notification breach that upset the Deans, more the actual search and this raises a familiar debate between an individual’s right to privacy, versus the organization’s right to protection.
For entrepreneurs sitting on an amazing idea, product or service, this launch advice will be difficult to heed: Think you’re ready to go to market? Think again. And then, think some more. Too many startup founders, fueled by passion and ambition, race to market only to find that a more measured, deliberate –yet rapid—approach would have served them better. Certainly, getting ahead of potential competitors is important. But it is equally important to make sure your offering is stable and customer-ready, and that your marketing and support outfits are fully functional and ready to handle demand.
Massachusetts appears to be emerging as a hub of web and mobile optimization, with several testing and targeting companies making their home here. Digital marketing optimization grows out of the science of A/B testing in direct marketing – if you’ve been in marketing long enough like me, you remember testing different versions of postcards to a segmented audience list and tracking which one converted best. It’s the same thing with online optimization.
Do you want to increase your conversion rate by seeing if a change in your current web site can improve your results? In A/B testing, one or more new versions of a page or single site element known as a factor compete against the original (control) version. For example, two new versions of a headline might compete against the original headline. You can test any factor, such as a call-to-action button or a hero shot, against one or more variations to see which is most persuasive.
Marketers in every industry are recognizing the value of content marketing; it’s becoming the most widely-used strategy according to industry research.
However, “feeding the content beast” – or populating an organization’s social and traditional marketing channels – can be a daunting task. Between email newsletters, blog posts, Tweets, and whitepapers, marketers feel challenged by creating sufficient quality content to sustain their content marketing programs. Furthermore, to make the problem worse, surveys have shown that marketers are facing dwindling budgets and even staff.
Irish heritage is deeply rooted in Boston’s cultural history. Over one hundred years after an influx of Irish immigrants seeking opportunity set the tone for Boston’s growth and development, there is a new “innovation exchange,” in which some Boston-based entrepreneurs, particularly those in the medtech sector, are choosing to locate their businesses in Ireland in order to expedite their path to success.
I am a champion of innovation and I am a proud Bostonian. And though I have no familial Irish roots, I found that locating my medtech startups—including Labcoat Ltd, Cappella, and most recently, gEyeCue Ltd—to the Emerald Isle was necessary to achieve my goals.
[Editor's Note: ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) from our archives, originally running March 1, 2012]
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point, Paul Revere is the ultimate connector, a man with the requisite respect, intelligence and social network to efficiently spread ideas about the oncoming British. The historical legend says he rode quickly but more importantly, he talked to other connectors who considered him a credible source of information. Since then, small business owners have studied Paul Revere in an effort to replicate his success as a connector and influencer.
Not everyone realizes it, but it’s much easier to spread messages now. When someone clicks a sharing button - a “like”, “retweet”, “+”, “share” or “repin” - they endorse and broadcast the message to their followers, friends, connections and other constituents. When the information continues to get shared repeatedly, the message spreads throughout social networks in a self-replicating process that mimics a virus.
Effectively spreading ideas among prospects and customers is so much easier now than it was in 1775 because of communication technology and word-of-mouth marketing.FULL ENTRY
A recent study from the Economic Policy Institute has generated much debate among recruiters, labor analysts, and even jobseekers themselves regarding the perceived STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills shortage that I wrote about several months ago. This article by Jordan Weissmann in The Atlantic summarizes the findings, mainly that there is no shortage of skilled U.S. STEM workers and that claims of a talent shortage are greatly exaggerated.
With graduation upon us, college seniors like me are nervous about the job market and their chances of landing a position. I was fortunate to attend a day-long program and networking event hosted by Lasell College’s Department of Communications which featured top communications professionals from Boston and New York. Headliners, including Teresa Hanafin, Director of Community Engagement and Social Media, Boston.com; Jenny Dervin, VP Corporate Communications, JetBlue; Alex Jones, Director Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy, Harvard University; and J.D. Hale Jr., Yankee Publishing Inc., talked with students about the road to a successful and meaningful career.
Gartner Group famously dropped a bomb by predicting CMOs would outspend CIOs on IT by 2017. For most companies this is unlikely to be true, but it does draw attention to a major change that is underway.
Large company marketing departments are finally making a significant shift away from broadcast media and into digital channels. The intensity with which marketing is focused on digital channels, the uncertainty around best practices, the speed of change in the underlying capabilities (mobile, social, SEO) and the plethora of software providers makes it nearly impossible for a CIO to keep up and fully support marketing, particularly given everything else on the CIO’s plate.
How can entrepreneurs best harness the wisdom from academics, and the energy from students, in order to advance small businesses? Startups are successfully solving big problems, which is why people are moving here, taking risks, starting companies and creating jobs. There is an obvious yet under-recognized advantage to being an entrepreneur in Boston: the potential for partnership with top academic institutions and young minds. It is time for startups to fully take advantage of one of Boston’s greatest benefits, and work with academics to form new businesses based on innovative research.FULL ENTRY
You wouldn't think the musings of ancient Chinese military general Sun Tzu as found in his book, The Art of War, could be used as an aid in your hunt for a position in IT, Agile Services, Life Sciences Consulting, Workforce Management, Healthcare IT Staffing, and Government Services, etc. But read between the lines, reflect on what Sun Tzu was saying then, to what you are trying to accomplish in the midst of a job search, and you can see that the general could have moonlighted as a pretty fair recruiter in his spare time.
Consider General Tzu's observations and their real world applicability for the modern-day job seeker:FULL ENTRY
All across the country tassels are being flipped and caps thrown as families snap pictures of beaming graduates. Three out of five of those graduates will be in debt.
Student debt is a national epidemic causing major problems for students, families, and the cities vying for human capital. This problem is most acutely felt in Boston and Cambridge, the mecca for higher education. In Greater Boston there are over 70 learning institutions (formal and innovative), over 50 rental agencies that specifically focus on the student market, cultural activities specifically targeted to people 18-25, and over 200 businesses that form payment partnerships with universities. Seems like the ideal infrastructure to foster innovation and retention among the best and the brightest - until one factors in student loans.FULL ENTRY
Finally the economy is in job creation mode.
My line of work is all about jobs- albeit placing top candidates in C-level positions globally. Having been at this for 30 plus years, I have seen many spikes, cycles, and trends. Even in lean times, finding the best technical minds to fill positions is a challenge for many promising firms. An obvious solution is to stop the brain drain from our best higher education institutions and keep the talent in the US. Don’t let the previous week’s events color your view of the issue: Immigration made our country great-don’t kill the American dream by preventing talented leaders from contributing to our businesses and society.FULL ENTRY
Writing a resume is a ritualistic process that everyone has to engage in throughout their career. Learning how to do so effectively makes all the difference in opening doors for us. Keeping your resume current, updating it on a regular basis is a critical career management practice.
Stay sharp and on top of your recent achievements by tracking them on an on-going basis and building your portfolio. Most organizations ask for a current resume when considering internal applicants for opportunities in addition to scanning external resumes. The best time to write about an accomplishment is immediately as it occurs and the experience is fresh in your mind rather than doing so at a later date when you need to create your resume. Be proactive and diligent about keeping it current and updated.FULL ENTRY
The price wars are on. It’s a vicious battlefield out there. With sites like Amazon and Overstock and the proliferation of showrooming — where consumers browse a physical store before buying an item online, presumably because it’s cheaper — consumers can find the lowest price for anything on their shopping list easily and quickly.
Retailers are scrambling — in panic mode — fixating on the dollars and sense calculation, so much so in fact, that they neglect other factors that are just as important.
Busy schedules, mismanaged time, and days filled with distractions lead to stress, anxiety and reduced productivity in our personal and professional lives. It is incredibly beneficial to take the time to reflect on current practices, find ways to manage our time effectively, and develop clear direction and priorities in life. Below are some ways to accomplish that.
On Marathon Monday my fiancee and I went to the Red Sox game and we were walking down Newbury St. to get some food and cocktails. When we got to Exeter and Newbury (around 2:40pm-ish) we contemplated heading over to Boylston and walking by the finish line, but my desire for a post-game cocktail was greater than my need to walk a block out of my way and fight a crowd.
[Editor's Note: Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas Menino have created The One Fund for programs assisting victims of the Boston Marathon attacks. Learn more and donate here.]
What lessons can start-ups and early stage companies learn from an aging rock band?
On March 12, 2013, a federal district court judge in Massachusetts declined to dismiss a lawsuit filed by J. Geils against his former bandmates and management company.
The primary dispute centers on which party has the commercial rights to use the trademarks “J. Geils” and “The J. Geils Band.” Is it J. Geils himself? Or is it the other bandmates and management company?FULL ENTRY
[Editor's Note: Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas Menino have created The One Fund for programs assisting victims of the Boston Marathon attacks. Learn more and donate here.]
“The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.” ― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
Are you looking for a new position? Have you had a difficult time getting hired? The challenges you face may require small adjustments as opposed to drastic changes.FULL ENTRY
[Editor's Note: Technology Underwriting Greater Good (TUGG) is raising funds for programs assisting victims of the Boston Marathon attacks. Learn more and donate here.]
Business leaders looking for meaningful growth are all about investing in their people to cultivate an engaged workforce, and ultimately, achieve higher sales and a stronger bottom line. Here are seven trends we’re watching:FULL ENTRY
As the CEO of an e-commerce business with over 2,000 shops on Facebook, I have a unique perspective on Facebook selling. After two years of testing, my company sees fewer sales from our global Facebook presence than from orders originating in New Zealand, where we don’t have a marketing or sales presence, or a country-specific website. Quite frankly, Facebook has been underwhelming for sales generation.FULL ENTRY
Business owners innovate when it comes to their products, company culture, and business models. Good entrepreneurs are constantly looking for the next big thing, the pioneering idea that will help grow their businesses and establish them as visionaries. But a much overlooked element of every business, which is desperately in need of innovation, is customer communication.
Sheryl Sandberg has created an enviable career in the male-dominated Silicon Valley, first at Google and now at Facebook. It’s no wonder that her book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead,” has created a major debate among both women and men and turned her into a highly sought-after speaker.
While I agree that having the drive to succeed is a critical component for female success in corporate America – I don’t agree with Sandberg’s underlying premise that women should act more like men to be successful.FULL ENTRY
Mentoring can have a huge impact. A mentor can help you navigate through politics and roadblocks, push you out of your comfort zone, introduce you to a new network of contacts, speed up the process of advancing in your career, and be a very inspirational motivator along the way.FULL ENTRY
Is your company on pace to launch two, four, or even 10 mobile apps this year? If not, you could be falling behind the leadership pace.
In a Web-based poll conducted by my company, Verivo Software, respondents were asked to choose a range of mobile apps their organizations were planning to build in the next 12 months. Out of almost 800 respondents, 30 percent said they would build five to nine apps while 27 percent said they would build between two to four mobile apps over the course of 12 months.
Maybe you think “Those chumps over there, that will never happen to us. We’re doing great!” Well, whenever you’re done admiring your company from Hubrisville, let’s get real for a minute.
Great company culture takes time and effort to build up, but it is easy and quick to destroy. A few bad apples, a few botched messages, a few small details overlooked and suddenly your company is the sinking ship that any smart rat is trying to abandon.
[Editor's Note: TiE Boston, an organization founded in 1997 by the legendary Desh Deshpande and other Indian entrepreneurs in New England, is the very active Boston chapter of a global non-profit organization that promotes entrepreneurship. TiE Challenge 2013, a free accelerator program offering startup-entrepreneurs visibility, mentoring, and the opportunity to present to “TiE-Angels” for investments of up to $1M, is accepting applications through
April 7 April 15, 2013.]
We recently caught up with Divyan Gupta (divyan [AT] keshiha [DOT] com), Founder and CEO of Keshiha Services Pvt. Ltd., a New Delhi (India) based niche e-commerce company, to find out the latest on how e-commerce is changing in India...
It is time to change the discourse around talent retention in Greater Boston.
Last Thursday’s second-ever joint city council hearing, hosted by Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson and Cambridge City Councillor Leland Cheung, in partnership with the World Class Cities Partnership (WCCP), highlighted the concern of talent loss to many in the Boston area. The discourse on this topic is not new to local leaders and the same lamentations about why young talent leaves – apartments are too expensive, the T doesn’t run all night, the bar scene is boring – keep getting shared across forum discussions, newspaper editorials, and election campaigns. But these are more the complaints of the people who stay, rather than the reasons for why others leave.
When was the last time you answered this seemingly simple question - What do you provide your customers that your competitors do not?
The value of answering this question is that it gives you a place of strength to build your Marketing strategy on. Including the Sweet Spot in your pitch captures the clients that will be your most satisfied, repeat customers.
Where do we start? The most successful companies assess these 3 circles in a Venn diagram to concentrate on the Sweet Spot. The goal is to accurately assess your own capabilities and really understand your client's needs. The sweetest spot you offer is what your competitors cannot.FULL ENTRY
The International Consortium for Executive Development Research (ICEDR) recently released a special report “Taking Charge: A roadmap for a successful career and a meaningful life for high potential corporate women leaders.” The report emphasizes that while companies are responsible for putting the right practices in place and fostering an environment that enables women to advance, the responsibility ultimately rests on women to take charge of their careers.FULL ENTRY
On Election Day 2012, one of every six people in the US was Hispanic (16.3% of the population). One out of ten people who showed up at the polls was Hispanic. Of those, seven out of ten voted for Obama.
Now, fast forward four election cycles to 2032 and run the numbers. Nearly a quarter of Americans will be of Hispanic origin; project four cycles beyond that and nearly a third of Americans will be of Hispanic descent.FULL ENTRY
Do you remember when websites were new? Moving quickly from novelty to necessity, sites rapidly became the gateway to companies, organizations and even people. Websites were built by ad agencies as well as a new breed of professional called web designers. Many of today’s “musts” for a site – content, SEO, commerce, interactivity, gamification – took a distant second place to setting a site up and keeping it up and running.
But you know all that. So why the history lesson?
Because at their core, websites are communications tools. Communications tools that often lacked input from the company’s internal PR team or agency. What a missed opportunity.
One thing innovators love to talk about is disruption - that one single advancement that will burst onto the scene and change for the better how everything is done. But innovators need markets to improve, and when seeking out the next big thing, not all markets are created equal. The challenges associated with groundbreaking innovations in say, the mobile field, are very different from changes in markets that are more traditional in nature.
Your company is hit with an unexpected blow: a key business partner departs, you lose a lucrative account, or a “green lighted” contract runs into a snag. The result of the blow may be financial, organizational, emotional, or all three – requiring a period of rebuilding.
Once the shock, disappointment or anger begins to subside, perspective will largely drive what happens next. Ask:
• What’s the opportunity in this situation?
• How can we use these circumstances as an opportunity to thrive?
While the urge is to jump into action immediately, a brief period of reflection will steer you toward more innovative, lasting solutions.
As the improvement in the nation’s economic outlook—coined the “jobless recovery” by the New York Times in 2010—has been slow-going in some markets, the number of unemployed and underemployed remains high. So the question is, where will the high-paying opportunities of the future come from? Are we destined for a world where these positions are merely sourced offshore to places with a lower cost of living?
Part of the answer lies in an idea whose roots hearken back to the dawn of the “New Economy.” Fifteen years ago, Fast Company touted the benefits of “Free Agent Nation” – the millions who were, by choice, maintaining their independence as self-employed or independent contractors, selectively moving from one opportunity to the next.
While the U.S. government has just avoided the perils of the fiscal cliff, our nation’s college seniors face a looming crisis of their own: the graduation cliff. This is the moment at which a college student metamorphoses into an unemployed person in the unfortunate event that they are unable to secure gainful employment. And with 53.6% of all Bachelor’s degree-holders under age 25 being either unemployed or underemployed, more young people than ever before are falling over this cliff. Their college debts will loom large over their heads as they struggle to find a paying job of any kind – let alone one that inspires them or challenges and expands their minds. We’re graduating some incredibly bright and talented minds. So why can’t they find jobs?
This article is the third in a monthly, five-part series that advocates for living a balanced life in the areas of: Global Citizenship, Local Volunteering, Meaningful Careers, Strong Networks, and an Empowered Self.
The “Dream Job”
When my mother was a teenager, she was interested in becoming a Funeral Director. She believed it would be meaningful to help comfort families in their time of need. But her father told her that was not a profession for females, and that she could choose one of the three professions more appropriate for females at that time… Teacher, Secretary, or Nurse. My mother and her two younger sisters became nurses, while her brothers pursued business and law. As children, our cultural context helps us develop ideas about what professions we want to pursue, and how to answer the oft-asked question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Cell phones are really dangerous, and I’m not talking about texting and driving.
Cell phones are really dangerous to public speakers – for two entirely different reasons.
Reason #1: The cell phone is your competition. Whenever you’re giving a speech, you’re competing against the phone for people’s attention spans and – quite frankly – the phone usually wins with email, text and Twitter.
Serving on a board of directors can be a rewarding experience. But to attain one of these coveted spots you have to be qualified and well connected. The board search process is a major undertaking that can take years. For a woman, it is even more difficult to secure a board seat, so it is important to develop a plan of action to become board ready. Below is some insight into the process.
There’s one statistic that hangs heavy over the head of every HR manager: employee churn.
In January, Fast Company reported that men will hold an average of 11.4 jobs in their lifetimes and women will hold 10.7. Meanwhile, the median number of years a U.S. worker has been in his or her current job is just 4.4—a sharp decline from the 1970s and a far cry from the “company man” era.
While it may be more likely that a business will lose employees, that doesn’t make their departures any less painful. With high turnover rates, it becomes more difficult to maintain corporate knowledge and a consistent workplace culture. This constant ebb and flow of new employees has significant effect on employee morale.
With more than 1.5 million apps in the Apple and Android app stores, mobile app marketers face the enormous challenge of achieving discoverability, sustained user engagement and, ultimately, monetization. Successfully marketing your app requires more than strategic mobile media buying and compelling, creative advertising. High-performance mobile app marketers have a laser-like focus on targeting and acquiring loyal users – those who take a specific action, such as an in-app purchase or registration. It's these loyal users who become repeat customers, word-of-mouth advocates, and deliver real, ongoing ROI.
Mobile is changing expectations. People want access to products, services and information in real-time, all the time, from anywhere, on any device. Large organizations are feeling pressure from consumers, employees, partners, and others to make the leap to mobile to address these desires.
Done right, mobile computing offers brands an unprecedented opportunity to engage with their constituents by capitalizing on these heightened expectations. Unfortunately, doing mobile right is hard. It demands a deep commitment of resources and a sincere willingness to change that can be lacking in enterprise environments.
Struggling with your website’s organic rankings on Google keyword searches?
Last year, Google rolled out approximately 500 search algorithm updates, designed to improve the quality of their search engine result pages, and in doing so, turned search engine optimization on its head. Countless businesses have gone bankrupt or now find themselves in a panic, starved of traffic – the lifeblood of Web commerce.
The upshot is that over the last year, while organic search has dwindled, paid search advertising costs have fallen on average by 15%, and ads on Google have become more prominent and effective than ever. It is estimated that every day, the paid search advertising options offered by Google AdWords drive over 13 million completed actions – including completed sales, or valuable leads generated.
The recent New York Times report on Walmart de Mexico’s alleged practice of bribing Mexican officials in the superstore’s effort to expand in the country shined yet another spotlight on an important issue for companies doing business overseas: what is and isn’t considered bribery throughout the world.
There is no question that employment laws have failed to keep pace with changes to social media technology and workplace practices. Those who know of the arcane Massachusetts “blue laws” which restrict certain businesses from opening on Sundays and holidays may not be surprised by the absence of state laws addressing social media usage. Nonetheless, as the rate of technological innovation continues to accelerate and employers and employees develop new ways to communicate and access information, new issues have emerged without clear guidance.
[Another installment in our ongoing Help a MassChallenge Startup series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.]
Your customers are not robots. They're people. In the business/customer dialogue decisions are driven by feelings at least as much as by facts. There are two elements of emotion that pretty much have gone missing from customer communications in the web era.
1. The ability for the businessperson, either in sales or in service and support, to convey his or her emotion to the customer.
The dominant form of business communication is email, and email is terrible at communicating anything other than fact-based information. Think of how many times you’ve had an email misinterpreted. The sender's intended emotion is pretty much up for grabs, and so the sender’s meaning winds up being determined by the recipient.
A New Year is always a good time to look ahead and make some predictions about the future. So here’s mine: Greater Boston will become the e-commerce innovation capital of the world in 2013. Wait. What?
E-commerce is on fire, Cyber Monday this past holiday season put up record numbers of online shoppers. As the percentage of people with smartphones and tablets is continuously rising from big to giant, mobile commerce is also becoming a key factor in sales for many companies. In fact, Boston-based online retailer RueLaLa said that more than 40% of their sales come from mobile.
This article is the second in a monthly, five-part series that advocates for living a balanced life in the areas of: Global Citizenship, Local Volunteering, Meaningful Careers, Strong Networks, and an Empowered Self.
OK… so Mayan Doomsday predictions were wrong... and here we are in 2013! Perhaps some of us are diligently adhering to New Year's resolutions, like the 88 decrees outlined in this January 1st blog post. The author’s 33rd resolution is: “I will volunteer,” and she suggests these two resources:
The Boston Club, a respected community of women business leaders, recently released its latest Census of Women Directors and Executive Officers in Massachusetts Public Companies. The study’s introduction concedes: “We are frustrated by the large numbers of companies that persist in ignoring the business imperative for a diverse board.”
Indeed. The Census found that across the Commonwealth’s 100 largest public companies, only 12.7% of board directors are women – a tepid 1.6% increase over 2011. More than a third of the top 100 companies still have all-male boards. Less than 2% of the 850 director seats in the Census are held by women of color.
Massachusetts is renowned in the country for having in place a web of laws that govern the employment relationship. Many obligations require annual compliance. The beginning of the New Year is always a good time for employers to make sure they do the following to minimize risk:
Don’t be fooled: The United States is still the Land of Opportunity. There are few countries in the world that provide this type of positive landscape to grow a business. Its high-tech minded, entrepreneurial spirit is what originally drew me away from my home in Sweden more than a decade ago. And Boston, recently named North America’s smartest city in Fast Company, is one of the best places to build strategic long-term business partnerships.
Yet despite the U.S.’ pioneer spirit and the strong prospects here in the northeast, it’s surprising how many small business owners buy into the negative myths about growing their companies.
The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement is expanding. Without personal device management plans in place, this could spell trouble for businesses as employees access company data as they please, ultimately taking IT into their own hands and leaving organizations vulnerable to security threats.
Did we honestly expect all of these “personal” devices to remain strictly for personal use? Certainly not; especially as it’s been found that 81 percent of employees use personal devices for business purposes. By having BYOD best practices – ones that are easy-to-follow, while stringent enough for the enterprise – as an integral part of their IT strategies, organizations can realize the inherent productivity and cost benefits while IT maintains control and security of the network.
While you may appreciate cuisine and even consider yourself a foodie, you may not have contemplated the role food has played in building your relationships. The experiences shared while breaking bread are often the most memorable. Food brings people together in a most meaningful way. In business, however, we often lose sight of this little gem when organizing customer or employee related events. We focus instead on how to bring people in, whom to invite, even what content to provide - but the food is often an afterthought at best!FULL ENTRY
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
This statement is the reason why we go to networking events.
Because of social media a new style of networking has been evolving. I call it Networking 2.0, the combination of the best practices of traditional offline networking with those of the new online social networking.
Meeting new people can be daunting, and for some people it can be extremely intimidating. After reading this post you will have the basics to confidently walk into any Networking 2.0 event. People you have never physically met before will be expecting you and eager to connect with you.
While there has been a lot of buzz about Boston’s Innovation District and Cambridge with its Cambridge Innovation Center and major tech and pharma/biotech heavyweights, there is another city in Greater Boston that often falls under the radar for many young professionals – Waltham.
Waltham is a thriving and historic city hungry for talent. Many fast-growth companies are hiring and new grads, soon-to-be-grads and experienced professionals are flocking to the suburbs to further their career.
The recent annual MIT Energy Finance Forum gave a splendid view into the current state of energy affairs in which smart technologies using renewable energies exist in a world full of bewildering politics and hidden subsidies.
An offshore wind farm may exemplify the problem, seen from a financing perspective alone. The capital expenditure is large. But the operational costs are very small, because the fuel is free, unlike gas, coal, or nuclear.FULL ENTRY
‘Tis the season for decking the halls and finalizing 2013 budgets. As you and your company crunch the figures for the year ahead, there’s something that can dramatically alter your bottom line to get on your radar: Social HR. Over the coming months and years, businesses that don’t embrace social HR will not only struggle to retain employees but companies that don’t understand what this is all about will struggle to survive at all.
For most of the last two centuries innovations have flowed from rich countries to poor countries, but in the coming decades we are likely to see innovations also flow in the opposite direction, from poor to rich countries.
If “reverse innovation” sounds counter-intuitive, it is. One can readily understand why poor countries will embrace innovations from rich countries. It is no surprise, for instance, that demand is booming in emerging economies for smartphones, washing machines, cars, and the like.
This article is the first in a monthly, five-part series that advocates for living a balanced life in the areas of: Global Citizenship, Local Volunteering, Meaningful Careers, Strong Networks, and an Empowered Self.
As the New Year approaches, it’s fitting to ask oneself... “How can I positively impact the world in 2013?” But with problems in every corner of the globe, it’s easy to feel “compassion fatigue,” believing we’re powerless to affect any real change. However, as the historian Howard Zinn noted: "We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world."
According to The Boston Club’s annual Census of Women Directors and Executive Officers of Massachusetts Public Companies, the number of women represented in the boardroom and executive suites has improved, but there is much progress to be made. 2012 statistics show 12.7% of all directors of the 100 largest public companies in Massachusetts are women - a 1.6% increase from 2011. The Boston Club collaborated with Bentley University and Mercer on the survey, and this year is the survey’s 10th year anniversary.
Innovation in Boston is special. At Continuum we work around the world in hubs of innovation: Boston, Los Angeles, Milan, New York, Seoul, and Shanghai; but Boston has a very particular take on innovation. We are not the wild and crazy guys – you can go to Milan or LA for that – but in Boston we know how to think clearly about a business challenge and get the idea right. Boston is the creative brain of the innovation economy. It is amazing how many ideas start here.
What do leading cities of the 21st Century need to do to accelerate economic development, to attract and to retain the best talent and companies? Almost 5 years ago at the encouragement of Mayor Thomas Menino this question was debated in Boston by a cross-section of leading experts over a series of working sessions. At the time, the open-networks economy of live and social connecting was only emerging, far from the present ubiquity of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and niche meet-ups and tweet-ups. Access was often limited to invited guests or exclusively to professionals in preferred sectors.
It may be a no brainer for any Bostonian that the best beer in the country originates in Boston. Now Dunkin’ Donuts is laying claim to the best coffee. Last month, Dunkin’ Donuts filed a trademark application for the mark BEST COFFEE IN AMERICA. In an article that ran in the Boston Globe on October 4, 2012, several commentators expressed skepticism that this application would be successful, largely because the phrase is laudatory and not something that consumers would think was connected to a single source.
As it happens, the trademark case almost directly on point involves an application filed by another Boston heavy, Boston Beer Company, in 1993 for THE BEST BEER IN AMERICA. The Trademark Office refused to register this mark to the makers of Samuel Adams because it found the mark merely descriptive of and laudatory for the goods at issue. The Boston Beer Company appealed this decision, but the appellate court rather severely stated that the mark was “so highly laudatory and descriptive of the qualities of its product that the slogan does not and could not function as a trademark to distinguish Boston Beer’s goods and serve as an indication of origin.” (emphasis added). This decision means that Dunkin’ Donuts is fighting an uphill battle in its attempt to register BEST COFFEE IN AMERICA.
Ross, my business partner (his title is CEO), and I were laughing as we stuffed t-shirt scraps into trash bags.
"Imagine if we wrote this in our job description: Cut thousands of t-shirts into square one foot by one foot pieces, and then wait until t-shirt scrap pile took over too much space in office, and then drive dozens of gallon trash bags to Worcester to get them recycled so that Millbury Recycling can break them down into particles that can be stuffed into car seats.”
A potential investor recently told us we had to be more realistic about our job duties, and as an exercise, write down what our duties consist of during the week. This seemed crazy at the time, but as I gave it some more thought, while typing USPS delivery confirmation codes, ‘3432 2134...” into shopify, I thought about how it could be useful.
As we gear up for the busy holiday shopping season, many retailers are looking for ways to reach, engage and convert every potential shopper so that both physical and virtual cash registers are ringing, all the way into 2013. In our digital world where the enormous number of transactions are faceless, businesses are eager to find ways to learn more about their customers’ interests, brand loyalties and lifestyles. It turns out the answer could be right under their noses, whether they sell Red Sox gear or priceless gems.
During Future M I had the pleasure of moderating a panel on the future of music marketing with the incredible musician, Lauren Zettler (aka I Am Lightyear), Geoff Cottrill, CMO of Converse, and Sean Rosenberg, SVP of Business Development at Indaba Media. Together these three panelists were able to bring to life examples of the immense value in facilitating the creative process and most importantly how critical it is for brands to simply be useful to their audience, users or customers.
Any business needs to budget for electricity. Extrapolating from the past is probably the only easy way to do it. Very few businesses have the wherewithal to actually understand. But at least for large budgets, it can pay off to do so. Staples, for example, has a Department of Energy and Environmental Management.
One important aspect of energy management is the rate we pay for electricity. We barely think about it, because making sense of it is enough to make anyone's head spin. Hand on your heart: do you understand how the price for electricity is determined?FULL ENTRY
Boston has a national reputation as a hub for start-up companies. Boston’s vast resources and highly-educated workforce make start-ups a huge part of what keeps Boston growing and flourishing.
By their very nature, start-ups are often short on personnel, time, and money in their formative days (and even years). Planning and executing a public relations campaign is a daunting and seemingly expensive endeavor.
But fear not, start-ups. While you may not be able to achieve the national coverage that a seasoned publicist would garner, there are steps that you can take to create a presence in the media and get a head start on your overall public relations goals. Here are some tips on how to hit the ground running.FULL ENTRY
Ever since Birchbox launched two years ago, subscription commerce has exploded into the market. If a subscription to sample-sized beauty products isn’t your jam, not to worry—perhaps shoes, razor blades, or diapers could be of use? Even though the new boom is still relatively young, there’s some skepticism out there about the longevity of the business model. Recent articles from TechCrunch and PandoDaily argue that the market is saturated and the novelty has worn off. The latter ends with a quote from JustFab CEO Adam Goldenberg:
A number of people, especially graduate and postdoctoral students, have asked me recently,” how do I evaluate entrepreneurial companies during my job search?” They have little to no track record, compared to larger more established companies and many seem to have innovative technology, strong research, and passionate founders. What parameters can be used as a metric for potential success and what differentiates one startup over another?” I have outlined a few considerations below as a starting point to address this complicated question.
It has been a long election season for U.S. citizens, the press, pollsters and presidential candidates alike. But with Election Day upon us, there are lessons to be learned about how to sway people, inspire them and lead change, not just for voters and those seeking office, but for business executives, too. Here are some campaign-inspired dos and don'ts for leaders in the corporate world:
Boston is brimming with white-collar, affluent workers hungry for information on the go. This influential demographic craves easily digestible content served up in a convenient, yet targeted, manner. I founded Captivate Network in 1997 with the idea that advertisers could be connecting with the white-collar worker quite literally where they are -- in the office. Our first office elevator screen was displayed in 101 Federal Street in Boston, and we’ve grown to nearly 10,000 screens reaching millions of on-the-go business professionals throughout the workday across North America.
A big topic and conversation in our workforce is centered around the skills gap -- some experts argue there is no such gap, but our work with businesses and students across the country tells us otherwise. We have no doubt that the skills gap is indeed preventing employers from finding the talent they need.FULL ENTRY
Retaining talent is crucial to a company's continued success and a city's economic prosperity. The Millennial Generation has been drawn to Boston because of the City's schools, growing companies, and innovative local leadership. "I love Boston since it has a built-in culture of entrepreneurship and it is easy to get around by foot, bike, and mass transit. The culture is one that truly tries to help one another while the size makes it feel like a small town…." says Damon Magnuski of PeopleHedge.com. Consequently, an employer seeking long-term growth must understand what motivates the Millennial Generation and communicate to young talent in a way that retains a company’s future leaders.FULL ENTRY
1. Attivio develops a technology that helps companies unify data and business content in new ways. What are some of the challenges you see companies facing from a data perspective?
There are three main challenges.
The first challenge with data is that it's not just data. It is data plus content, and that content comes in many forms and from many places. It's easy for people to lump everything into the popular "Big Data" bucket, but that's a bit of a misnomer. It's more like Big Information.
The second challenge is that global companies are made of silos. There are multiple geographical business units, information repositories, applications, interfaces, protocols, ontologies, schemas and untold external sources that don't always match and get along. Just dumping information into these organized but separate systems doesn't help you access it, analyze it or derive business intelligence from it.
The third challenge is that many businesses don't know exactly what they are looking for. Imagine searching for a needle in a giant haystack, except you don't know what a needle looks like or how it feels.FULL ENTRY
[Click here to read part 1 of this article]
At first, I wasn't sure if all this time spent on Twitter chats was useful, but here's what I realized: the more I participated in online discussions, the more recognized and respected I became in that particular community. And after some consistent and helpful commentary, the community started asking me for my help and guidance both on- and offline. Here are a few things to think about when becoming part of an online communityFULL ENTRY
If I had a nickel for every person who thought that "networking" was a dirty word, I'd be a very rich woman. Having a great network of people -- friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances -- is key to having the career and life that you want while avoiding potential back steps and pitfalls. As globalization takes hold and the world flattens, the most vital place to keep your networking/relationship building skills sharp is online. There are a variety of types and styles of social networks to learn about (you should take the time to find out which ones are most relevant to you) to achieve your own goals. For many reasons, Twitter has become the dominant platform for online communication, community building and idea exchange. But online only takes you so far. So how can we take these great digital conversations, networks and friendships and bring them offline to the real world?FULL ENTRY
"Cox and Cocktails" was the presidential campaign slogan used by Warren G. Harding in 1920.
In 1928, Herbert Hoover used the slogan, "A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage."
I bet you could read Hoover's slogan to a large group of people and most would understand his message – it is fairly self-explanatory. Harding's slogan might raise more than a few eyebrows, some might openly question how he won the election with that slogan.
Our economy has started to rebound and as it does, the need for driven and qualified sales people is on the rise. As this happens, an effective recruitment strategy for quite a few industries to fill these sales roles has been to recruit new college graduates, experienced professionals looking to make a career transition, and/or the pool of talented professionals currently in transition from their last position. A career in sales is very rewarding and can also be very lucrative for those who have the appropriate skills, competencies and most importantly the aspiration.
To succeed, everyone has to sell.
As an entrepreneur and salesperson, I have often laughed when I have heard people who are technically on the “non-sales” side of a business talk about how they aren’t involved in sales or building revenue. This is particularly funny when I hear team members at a small company or start up say it. I have even heard a sales manager say that now that they are in management and don’t sell, that they aren’t the best person to speak with because they aren’t doing day to day sales anymore. Say what?!
The truth is, everyone in an organization is one way or another involved in selling. That’s because everyone in your organization has an impact on your customers or clients. However team members go by such titles as “Business Development Managers” or “Relationship Builders” or a number of other creative titles to help feed the denial that they are indeed in sales. Then there are the people on the team that do research or develop the product itself. No way they are in sales right? Wrong. Everyone is in sales. Sales are what take a product to market. It is what makes a product viable and profitable and pays everyone’s salaries. Sales are the life blood of a company.
We’ve reached a tipping point in cyber-crime and the bad news is that the bad guys are winning.
The top five hacks since 2011 affected more than 211 million users worldwide. In the US alone, there were 855 corporate data breaches involving 174 million records last year, according to Verizon. It was the second-highest data loss total since Verizon started keeping track in 2004 and they believe 96 percent of attacks were not highly difficult and 97 percent of them could have been avoided.
Government systems have been compromised. Social networks have been compromised. Even a leading security company has had its systems breached.
But don't the schools already do this?
Only a very few do. Northeastern University is a model for this. UMass and Wentworth have programs as well, but the majority of schools focus on education, not career placement. They're just not good at career services. Did your school place you in a job?FULL ENTRY
As I combed through all the content we’ve planned for MITX’s FutureM conference, I was struck with a sense of opportunity for brands and products willing to invest in creating digital experiences centered on Customer Love, not just like, but serious love. Customer Love is more accessible now than ever before – but there are some very important rules to guide us if we are to be successful.
Heading into Labor Day weekend I did a long drive out to Big Indian, NY to speak at and attend the Women’s Music Summit organized by Laura B. Whitmore of Mad Sun Marketing. I didn’t know too much about what to expect but I did know that I would be asked to talk about publicity for musicians from the perspective of one of my clients, Indaba Media, the music technology and marketing platform that allows over 750,000 musicians to share their work and support one another within brand and major artist opportunities. Deep in the woods, with no cell service, I came upon the Full Moon Resort and immediately saw small groups of women clustered together, singing, practicing, writing and collaborating.
The Republicans and Democrats can agree on at least one thing—that the key to job creation and economic recovery sits firmly with American entrepreneurs and business owners. It’s true. Perhaps more than ever, it’s time to stop looking to big corporations and government programs to get people back to work. It’s time to give the new engines of the American economy all of the tools they need to succeed. But who would have thought these businesses would ever need a doctor? And why not?
Healthy people exercise, brush their teeth and eat right. They get enough sleep, try to reduce stress in their lives and check-in with their doctor at least once a year to make sure their fluids are in check and their gears are still working. And if a healthy person gets, well, less healthy, they have a doctor in place where they can go to get help.
Businesses, like people, need to maintain their health. And keeping your business healthy isn’t that different from keeping your body healthy. The key is staying aware of the inner workings of your organization and knowing when it’s time to take action. Like with biological health, you don’t want find out too late that you have inoperable cancer.
So what kind of “business doctor” do you need? And what perspective could this doctor give you that will help your business not only survive, but thrive?
This is a story about a diversified regional financial services organization with more than 1,300 banking centers and more than $100 billion in assets. The company provides a range of services to individual and commercial customers, ranging from retail banking to mortgage and investment products. The organization’s vision is to be “the bank that people value and trust,” and its strategy – which it calls “My Bank” – is to differentiate itself by providing smart financial solutions and superior customer service to its business and retail customers.
The successful execution of the My Bank strategy required building a customer- focused organization: all customers must be able to expect the same high level of differentiated banking service provided by the company’s sales and service people and systems. The bank was particularly concerned about sustaining the strategy over time so that it would generate customer loyalty and growth and produce consistent long-term operating results.
I just bought a new car. My salesman was pleasant, I was happy with the deal I negotiated, and the new car smell still has me a little giddy; in fact there was only one problem, the dealership’s sales manager. Within two minutes of sitting down with him I instantly disliked him. I consider myself a ‘people’ person so this doesn’t happen to me very often. I can’t exactly put my finger on what it was though smug and condescending are the words that come to mind. To be fair, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t his favorite customer either. The incident has been on my mind and I recognize that it is inevitable we all will meet people that we just don’t click with, but there are things we can do to avoid a communications failure:
Don’t mimic their behavior
One of the things that annoyed me about the experience is I came down to his level. I was short and probably a bit condescending back. This of course led me to spend the next 48 hours feeling guilty. Remember you have to live with your own behavior; theirs will certainly become a distant memory. Communicate with them the way you would like them to communicate with you. Not only does this prevent a guilty conscious it might just inspire them to change their own communication style.
Every day, 2.5 exabytes of data are created by computers. If that doesn’t sound like much, a little perspective: one exabyte equals one quintillion (2.5×1018) bytes of data, or the content of 250 million DVDs. The figure is mind boggling and growing exponentially. Consider: 90 percent of the world’s data was created in the last two years alone. There are many reasons it’s growing so fast –more sensors collecting data than ever before, the growth of social media, etc. – but all this data is creating enormous pressure on organizations to build new IT infrastructure to deal with it.
Interestingly, Massachusetts is playing a vital role in “Big Data.” We are leading the way on finding ways to help harness that data, make sense of it all, and put it to good use. In May Governor Patrick announced the Massachusetts Big Data Initiative to encourage further study in the field, and 12,000 people are employed in the sector in more than 100 companies here. Additionally, about $350 million in venture funding flowed last year into local Big Data startups. Seems like a recipe for success.
But in my view, we are falling short of what can be accomplished with Big Data.
Recently Out in the Ecosystem talked to Andrew Yu, CEO of Modo Labs. Andrew is a seasoned entrepreneur and software, mobile, and Web executive. I caught up with him around his rapidly scaling Cambridge based-startup Modo Labs, a technology platform provider facilitating rapid deployment and cross-device functionality in enterprises, health care and EdTech.
Internships are essential for students who are looking to secure work after graduation. In fact, a study by my company found that 91 percent of businesses think that students should have between one and two internships before they graduate. Internships give students real world experience that helps prepare them for permanent roles upon graduation. Companies aren’t willing to take the risk of hiring a recent graduate who has had no work experience, especially in this economy where there’s extreme competition for jobs. This puts a lot of pressure on students to get internships, whether they are paid or unpaid.
Boston is a technology hotbed right now, ripe with startups, innovative technologies, and a deep pool of engineering talent. With a healthy local VC community, an expanded presence of tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook , and a consistent stream of startups being pumped out from some of the brightest minds the Hub has to offer, it’s a competitive race for who can best attract and retain superior technology talent. It’s also an issue that could cause any CEO or hiring manager to lay awake at night pondering what to do. So how does a company stand out when trying to retain and keep the sought after engineers and developers of the area?FULL ENTRY
While there are roughly twenty-five athletes with ties to Boston competing in the Olympics this year, business owners should take notice of the 2012 Games for another reason—the term Olympics is one of the most zealously protected trademarks in the world. Looking at how the term is protected provides valuable lessons to any business.
Aside from general trademark protection, the term “Olympic” and other marks associated with the Olympics are protected by special legislation in several countries. In the United States, the Olympic and Amateur Sports Act provides strong protections to the mark, and in Britain, Parliament recently enacted legislation that criminalizes certain types of ambush marketing that creates associations between brands and the Olympics. In London, the Olympic Delivery Authority has deployed 250 specialist enforcement officers to 28 locations to police counterfeit goods and unofficial uses of the Olympic trademarks, including the five rings logo.FULL ENTRY
It is a challenging time for business. There is lots of competition for every opportunity, making it more difficult for businesses to drive financial success. Therefore, it is advantageous - and arguably necessary - for professionals and organizations to differentiate themselves from others. You have likely heard this before, but it is always good to be reminded that a strong focus on client service will set you apart. Clients will appreciate the attention to their needs, and if you do it right, you will build relationships, loyalty, and enjoy greater wallet and market share.
Clients expect a certain level of service from their service providers. If one can exceed those expectations, it is a win/win situation. There are numerous ways to do so.
As the Founder of several educational startups myself, I am especially curious when I see innovative approaches in higher education. Recently, I came across an interesting case speaking with Sandy Lin, a MIT Sloan alum friend of mine, and learned that Saint Anselm is using her company’s Glossi software to showcase their social media content. I connected with Jack Morris to ask him more about Saint Anselm’s digital media strategy.
Jack is the Director of Digital Communications for Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH where he is responsible for developing the online branding and strategy as well as creating new and unique online products to help increase enrollment and alumni engagement. Jack was previously a senior editor at City Search and Managing Editor of AOL Local. He has been a producer for FOX and MIT.
TC: Jack, tell about your role at Saint Anselm, and how it’s evolved with social media the last few years.
Jack:My role has been focused on working with our staff to develop engaging online strategies that often require our content to be pushed out thorough social media channels first.
TC: What are some of the benefits of social media for university PR?
Jack: Social media has quickly become one of the most effective methods for engaging our audience directly. It allows us to get our core messaging as well as videos, photos, and blogs out to high school students, their parents, current students, and our alumni community quickly and effectively – and recently we've been seeing a increase in the response rate on Twitter and Facebook, especially when we post photos showing off our campus and our monks.
Recently, we posted an old marketing photo we took back in 2004 of five of our monks wearing dark shades, standing tall with straight faces. The title of the photo was "Men in Black." Classic shot. That photo generated 861 likes, 43 comments, and 70 shares. For a small liberal arts college in New Hampshire with only 4,700 Facebook fans, this was a huge win for us. We've seen similar success with original videos and blogs. And recently we've been shooting and editing a ton of video using GoPro cameras and handheld digital cameras. Our online content efforts are on the rise.
TC: How has social media impacted college recruiting / alumni relations at Saint Anselm and other colleges you've worked?
Jack: Social media has really helped to enhance our recruiting process and our alumni relations. It's ingrained in everything we do from a digital media perspective. It's where we talk to our audience on a daily basis. It's where we get feedback on new ideas and campus happenings. It's where we showcase our campus, our culture, and our people to perspective students and their families. It's where we stay in touch with our alumni and help them stay in touch with each other.FULL ENTRY
But it's worth remember that, in problem solving, sometimes we need to think like a five-year-old.
Tony McCaffrey explains that, when problem solving, most of us are hampered by functional fixedness, a cognitive bias that limits our thinking. For many, we tend to think about an object only in its functional, single-purpose form. As a result, we are unable to use this object in a new way that may be required to solve a problem. According to Tony, a group that was taught to remove this mental block was able to solve twice as many problems compared to a control group. For example, when we’re able to overcome functional fixedness, we may see a wooden box used as a step rather than its intended purpose as a container. Most objects have features that can be leveraged in other ways. In this case, the box used as a step may just turn out to be the viable answer to a problem.
It has also been documented (German and Defeyter 2000) that “priming” an object by initially introducing the object in the context of its intended purpose further limits our thinking. For example, when the wooden box is initially shown with items contained, adults and older children have more difficulty seeing the box used in ways other than its intended use as a container. Interestingly, it was noted that five year old children were not limited by functional fixedness, regardless of whether the object was primed or not.
Five-year-olds were able to solve problems by applying the box, in this case, to any goal intended.FULL ENTRY
Forming and cultivating relationships is at the heart of any successful fundraising campaign, business development effort, volunteer drive or community building activity. Foster and grow new networks with these practical tips and best practices to engage someone in a conversation, keep it rolling, exchange information and wrap up.
1. Say hello. Shake hands, say your name and affiliation.
Has the following happened to you? You've done your homework and know a particular bigwig connector, funder, donor, etc. will be at a networking event. You see them and freeze. What had you planned to say? Were you thanking them? Soliciting them? As your brain tries to put together a coherent sentence, they move out of view and the opportunity has passed. Let's keep this simple. Just shake hands and say, "Hello, my name is (insert your name here)." The rest of your elevator pitch can come later, but to build a relationship, you need to start by making the connection.
2. Ask questions. People like to talk about themselves.
Now that you have their attention, follow up with an open-ended question. Why open-ended? You're looking for them to share a story, which won't happen if your question can be answered with a yes or no response. Follow Dale Carnegie's timeless advice in "How to Win Friends & Influence People" and "allow the other person to do a great deal of the talking." In other words, make fewer statements and ask more questions. For example, "How did you hear about this event?" or follow up with "How did you end up in your line of work?"
Caution is prudent here as some questions evoke anxiety or turn people off by "othering" them instead of welcoming them. While starting a conversation with a compliment is a good idea, we should be aware that often the very thing we're drawn to comment on is something that's different from ourselves. For instance, commenting on someone's height: "Wow, you're tall! How tall are you?" isn't a compliment, nor is it a conversation starter. The same is true for hair texture, skin color - basically anything that isn't chosen by the person you're talking with. In contrast, comments about sunglasses, scarves, jackets and jewelry are all things that can be perceived as compliments (provided they are positive) and graciously accepted as such. The key difference is these are all items chosen by the wearer, not a factor of who they are. Also, in today's economy it isn't wise to begin by asking what someone does for work. They may not be employed in a job or field that they love - or they may be unemployed. “What do you do to fill your day?” is a safer opening line.FULL ENTRY
Years ago there was a direct path to a successful career: You work hard in high school to get into a good college to get a good internship and that internship would turn into a full-time job.
The old economy was about lifetime employment and the new economy is about mobility. You move around based on the demand of the market, your interests, and your connections. The economy, globalization and automation have broken the linear career path – and it’s never coming back.
Now, there’s no one true path to a successful career. You might set out to do one thing and then you get laid off, or a new opportunity comes your way that pushes you in a completely different direction. A recent study by my company and Experience, Inc., both Boston-based, found that half of companies haven’t hired a single intern in the past six months, yet 91 percent expect students to have at least one internship, but most haven’t hired those interns into full-time positions.
What this should tell you is that you can’t rely on anything or anyone anymore besides yourself. You have to be accountable for your career instead of waiting patiently for an opportunity to come your way. The days of taking things for granted are long over.
The rules of job searching have changed and you have to adapt if you want to build a career. If you think that submitting a resume to a job board is going to magically turn into a job, you’re in for a rude awakening. If you think that getting straight A’s is going to get you a position at Google, then you’re going to be very disappointed.
The one thing that hasn’t changed, at least since I graduated Bentley University in 2006, is that your first opportunity is the hardest to get because everyone wants a track record to eliminate risk. That’s why internships are so critical.
Here are the secrets, based on my research, which will help you win in this job market (even if you aren’t a recent grad):FULL ENTRY
When we launched on Kickstarter, the pledge rate was high. Amazingly high. We raised about half of our requested funds in 2 days. This didn’t last though.
Whether at a summer work outing, family reunion, or BBQ with neighbors, the same rules apply as in any networking situation. Don’t pass up the opportunity to attend these types of social events, as you never know who you might meet – a new best friend or a business partner. Chances are, if you go with a good attitude and practice personal and professional etiquette, you will enjoy yourself and will have spent your time productively.FULL ENTRY
A silent revolution has been in the making over the past decade, with its pace accelerating particularly in the past few years. In 2001 the top 10 websites accounted for 31% of total web traffic. In 2006 that figure grew to 40%. But by 2010 the top 10 websites commanded an astounding 75% of all traffic on the web. What does that mean for businesses, small and large, as they try to drive traffic to their sites? And how can businesses build an effective web presence in this changing landscape?
First of all, what happened? Much of the ascent of these web titans can be attributed to the rise of social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. In fact, Comscore reports that Americans are spending over eight hours per month on social media networks (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.). Twitter has grown steadily, particularly with mobile users; today over 8% of users check their Twitter feeds daily. But it is Facebook that is the mammoth that commands the lion share of social media use. Of those eight hours we spend on social networks, close to 90% of that time is spent on Facebook.
This “flight to quality” is also reflected in the rapid increase in the price online advertising of leading networks. Banner ads you might say? Not at all; their prices have fallen over 30% in the past year and will likely continue to fall. Google and Facebook are where the action is.
Remember the days of 8-cent clicks on Google? Cherish that memory- those days are long gone. Google's keyword prices have seen an increase of 11% year on year. Yet it's Facebook that stands out. Despite the recent questions about the effectiveness of its ads, average prices continue to soar, increasing over 40% year on year. Why? In part because businesses are realizing that is where people are spending time and can talk about brands.
As the cost of driving traffic to your site will continue to increase, businesses need to act quickly and strategically. Here are a few basic rules of thumb:
Go where your customers are:
Yes, Marketing 101 applies on the web too. With customers spending such a significant time on social networks, you need to be there too. Gain marketing gravity and build community now while paid online advertising still relatively nascent-- and inexpensive. Irrespective of whether your business advertises on social networks, it should utilize them to build a fan base, attract influencers and create discussions that can engage others.FULL ENTRY
The other day my son said to me: “the iPhone has to be the most exciting technology ever invented”, and as a boring, elderly specimen of the human race, I couldn't rest until I found a counter-argument.
Do please let me know, whether you are on my side or my son's!
Generally speaking, I would argue, we take the technologies developed before we were born for granted, find those developed while we were teenagers cool, and consider those developed during ripe old age frivolous and unnecessary.
It is hard to try to imagine the thrill of technologies when they were new, but I think electricity must have been absolutely amazing. Not only could you effortlessly light your house and without smoke, but you began to have truly labor saving devices: washing machines, irons, electric stoves.
And what about running water? Not to have to carry water every day must have been so absolutely amazing, and then to have the freedom to use and waste
water: hot baths, showers, cleaning and cooking with plentiful water, and of course irrigation. It must have changed life in such a fundamental way.
Is your organization considering forming an Advisory Board?
It’s a step that many organizations are taking on a daily basis in order to fortify their leadership teams and propel business growth with executive counsel.
Whether you are a nonprofit, a private or a public company, the need is there. An Advisory board has the ability to provide strategic counsel from an industry and competitive perspective on various topics of expertise. The time and money invested in your advisory board members should be far outweighed by the counsel and strategic value they impart on your organization.
Now, how can you build the best advisory board and make the most of this investment?
The current economic environment demands that organizations leverage all possible resources in order to survive. And doing so only cultivates a culture of resourcefulness that catapults organizations beyond their competitors. It is imperative that your advisory board become a critical resource with the skills, expertise, or contacts needed to move your business forward.FULL ENTRY
Dear Job Applicant,
The City of Boston is one of the better places in the country to seek employment. Boston’s economy has successfully created jobs due to the proactive measures of local officials. As a job seeker you are in a favorable part of the country to obtain employment due to the local economy’s innovative environment.
During the past 11 years, I have helped over 2,000 attorneys obtain employment in a very competitive legal market. My experience has shown me that job applicants must be savvy when presenting themselves to prospective employers. I am grateful for the chance to pass on a succinct synopsis of the knowledge that I have obtained assisting attorneys, paralegals, and other legal professionals find new jobs.
Seeking employment is an endeavor that requires effective strategies and tactics. The following is a step-by-step plan that will allow you to construct a job search that leads to spectacular results. No matter what field you're considering, you must be able to communicate to potential employers in a way that helps them make a decision that benefits you.
Your goal is to present yourself as a solution to an employer’s current needs. "As a general manager, I look for people that can see the big picture. Having a global view translates well when your goal is to ensure that a company's staff is operating at maximum efficiency," states Boston area executive, Dennis Sullivan. You also want to show that you are an asset that has the potential to increase in value.
Consider my CRT method, not to be confused with GTL:
- Cover Letter;
- Resume; and
- “Thank You” Letter.
It seems every conversation about Boston’s status as a world class city makes some mention of our high cost-of-living. The same discussions inevitably cite the price of real estate as one factor, as significant as any other, for why many young professionals choose to move or settle elsewhere. Add to that the news that Millennials have passed Generation X and the baby boomers as the group least able to afford their basic needs and you have an unfavorable recipe for keeping our best and brightest in Boston.
Yet if you’re towards the beginning of your career, likely with a moderate amount of student loan debt, negligible savings, and a desire to only live in one of the city’s most sought-after neighborhoods, Boston is actually one of the best cities in the country to purchase a condo. But how?
The answer is a little-known program that pairs a combination of public and private benefits to enable low- and middle- income first-time homebuyers to afford to purchase units in newly constructed luxury buildings. In Boston. Yes, this Boston.
Many believe that affordable home programs are aimed only at those willing to live in government-run, government-built housing. Yet the answer to that solution-of-the-past can be found in Boston’s Inclusionary Development Program (IDP). The IDP is a 12-year-old initiative of Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the Boston Redevelopment Authority to set aside 13% of all units in newly constructed market-rate buildings with 10 or more units for individuals with incomes below $54,750 (80% of the area’s median income), $68,450 (100% of AMI), or $82,150 (120% of AMI) depending on the unit. When I was looking to buy in 2010 I was only concerned with my household of one, but it should be noted the program adjusts those income levels for households of up to eight people.FULL ENTRY
Feel free to read the setup to this article in this Global Business Hub post, The What, Why, and How of Going Mobile."
Congratulations, you are now well on your way to harnessing the value of your mobile strategy. Now it’s time to share the good news about your new mobile app and entice customers and others to give it a try.
Building awareness is a process with many steps and many options. Whatever the plan, it needs to start the first day of your project. Your design choices should: allow users to easily learn about and share your app through free access to a great “starter” content, have multiple reasons to share, and provide easy ways to provide feedback.
Once the app is available, include an info link (or smartphone QR Code) in all your existing media – emails, advertising, collateral, events, etc. These links need to go to sites with authentic reviews, discussions, and feedback from peers of those investigating your app.
The best way to get that authentic conversation started is to reach out directly to your best customers to ask for their participation. Next ask your industry partners to assess the utility and business models and add their own spin. Be prepared to listen and re-think your strategy. Finally, start a dialogue with your market’s “Influencers,” journalist and Bloggers. They’ll only pay attention when they see a groundswell of interest from the groups you reached out to initially.
As you are thinking about the messages that will get your user’s attention, you can find inspiration in the Magnificent 7 of Mobile Marketing:
- Mobile is available anytime — all the time
- Mobile is personalizable exactly the way the user wants
- Mobile provides the perfect tool at exactly the right time
- Mobile is great for local information and alerts
- Mobile provides Instant gratification to engage or buy
- Mobile is customer service with 1-click-to-call
- Mobile can deliver more immersive media
There really are no hard and fast rules or “magic bullets” to the above. The most important thing about promotion is to get creative. And remember to be polite by always waiting for your users to opt-in.
David Cutler, at Creative Business Development, helps a wide range of clients refresh their Sales and Marketing to take advantage of the ever-evolving Web of Digital and Traditional Media. Continue the conversation about your specific questions and needs on his Blog at www.EatMedia.com
Last week I was asked to participate in a panel for a group of European companies looking to do business in Boston. I followed the lawyers, accountants, and bankers with a short presentation on what organizations need to know about communications and media before they move into the American market. Almost all the questions I got were about mistakes I’ve seen other companies or individuals make, all of which fall into three categories.
Flying below the radar: As I learned from the above mentioned lawyers, accountants, and bankers when you’re expanding your business into a new market there is a lot to do and it can be very tempting to put the media strategy on the back burner. Resist temptation! If there is only one piece of advice I could give everyone it’s this: you want to initiate contact with the media on your terms. It goes without saying; you never want to be introducing yourself for the first time in the middle of a crisis. The American media is a giant, highly segmented industry. Chances are very good that there is some publication somewhere that covers some part of your value chain and they will become aware of your entry into the market. You not only want to be prepared for contact with these reporters, but actually to be proactive in developing a strategy to reach out to them that aligns with the overall marketing goals of your organizations.
Initiating a media strategy is not necessarily about the coverage you will get. It is about discovering and introducing yourself to the journalists who can provide a conduit to your new stakeholders be it potential customers, employees, or regulators either now or in the future.FULL ENTRY
By Nathan Rothstein and Dan Rothstein
In the fall of 2002, Mark Zuckerberg entered Harvard. Less than ten years later, he has become one of the wealthiest people in the world. Over the years, he has grown as a leader, but there’s one thing that has remained constant throughout his rise from awkward Harvard freshman to CEO of Facebook: He is constantly asking questions.
In a recent New York Times article, Evelyn Rusli quotes one of his friends and early Facebook employees talking about Mark, saying: “He has a higher ask-to-talk ratio than anyone I know.” There’s a key lesson here: to be great, to be a visionary, and, perhaps, even to become very wealthy, it helps to be curious and to ask the right questions.FULL ENTRY
Most of us think we know what the word collaboration means, but we don’t. I usually oversimplify it and think of two or more people joining efforts to get something done.
Sure, people bring their own skills and talents into the mix, but the emphasis is on productivity, not the interplay and synergy that happens or doesn’t happen—or has no chance of happening—in the group.
I’m working on two different projects dedicated to exploring what effective collaboration looks like in practice and how to create the conditions for it to occur more often. The idea is that if we can work together better, maybe we can focus more energy on the creative potential of the work at hand, advancing the real possibilities that exist there rather than the interpersonal or process dynamics that so often get in the way.
I still have plenty of questions, but this is clear: collaboration is much more than two or more people working together; it’s about communicating and learning with others in order to create something you couldn’t possibly have created alone. It’s about finding a shared groove, yes, but a purposeful, synergistic, fantastically unique one.
How often do we set out with this goal in mind rather than simply think: "Let’s go work together to complete this very important task?"FULL ENTRY
Twitter can help to forge powerful relationships if you put yourself in your audience’s shoes by listening before you tweet. So, get close to your target market before broadcasting any sales messages. Start socializing and networking and then, after you build strong relationships based on trust and understanding, deliver targeted communications that will help your audience meet their informational needs.
Listening before commenting is a great approach to attracting the ‘right’ visitors to your website. Begin by clicking the Follow button next to people who are writing about topics that are relevant to your business. For better or worse, they are currently influencing your target market. You can also consider clicking the Follow button when Twitter suggests a user for you to follow in the Who to follow suggestions. In either case, make sure you start following people who you think will have a reason to pay attention to you once you start tweeting.
Find Relevant People
Next, use Twitter’s search engine to approach prospective customers. Below, you’ll find a simple 5-step process to help you listen to what your community values:
- Go to Twitter Search
- Enter a relevant query in the search field. For example, if you are a pizza restaurant in Boston you might search for “pizza in Boston” to discover what people are commenting about.
- Determine if the results are useful.
- Save the search.
- Repeat the process with variations or new terms.
Three months ago I got up on my high horse to preach about the advantages and disadvantages of getting a PhD. In the meantime, I have had the pleasure of talking to Ben Nelson about what to look for when applying for an undergraduate degree.see his TED talk), and he recently raised $25 million to launch a university called The Minerva Project. It will cater to the tens of thousands of people that meet all the academic requirements of other elite universities. Below, I will list the five most important things that Ben thinks should matter to applicants. To help explain, I will compare and contrast Minerva with existing universities.
Most challenges to existing higher education these days focus on technology. Minerva uses online technology, but the main point of the project is not technology – it is catering to the demand.
What do students need, and what should universities aim to supply?
- Chance of getting in
- Student life
- Student-university relationship after graduation
A degree from an Ivy League University is so attractive that the number of applicants far exceeds those accepted. That its status will rub off on alumni is one important reason – perhaps more important even than the education you receive. As non-elite universities are quick to point out, you can also learn stuff at other universities - possibly more and better. But whether or not you get a superior education at Ivies or not: their status is undoubted.
The problem for most of us is that we will not get in. Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford etc. simply cannot expand to accept the many, many applicants who desire an association with their brand. Unlike the Ivies, Minerva can scale. Its campuses will be rented and they can move if need be. So students satisfying Ivy League schools' entrance requirements, while still unlikely to be accepted by an Ivy League school, will be accepted by Minerva. (I forgot to ask Ben, but he might have to worry about Groucho Marx's dictum: I don't want to be a member of a club that wants me as a member.)
Ben thinks students really ought to consider the prevailing pedagogy of different universities before applying. For example, Brown has a very open-ended program where a student can gather the requisite credits however he or she wants. This will suit some students and not others. Columbia, by contrast, is more structured and perhaps rigid in its organization of progress towards a bachelor's degree. Penn is very interdisciplinary and excels in mixing degrees, such as business and technology. Harvard Business School is the home of the case study. Students should aim to understand a university's pedagogy and choose according to their own personalities.FULL ENTRY
He sees many startups in different stages and he ponders the impact that location has. His advice for startup companies is a mixture of the conventional and the more existential.
Go where you can:
- Recruit the talent you need
- Minimize hassle and free up head space
- Figure out who you are!
Everyone in the startup world knows that recruiting people is of prime importance and also excruciatingly hard. A startup needs a team of people whose skills complement each other. We tend to know people like us, not people with complementary skills. A startup needs people with drive and enthusiasm, an understanding of product development and the many iterations it has to go through with feedback from potential consumers, people skills, market savvy, fundraising, legal and accounting, technology and so on.
The list is very long, which is why only a very few places on the planet have produced successful startup companies. Putting it starkly, only Silicon Valley and Boston have the critical mass of people with different skills to routinely put together successful teams. But even within those cities, you want to be where you can meet people, preferably on a daily basis. In Boston, for example, you may want to be on the Red Line, because many of the young people you want to recruit do not want to drive cars and sit in traffic.FULL ENTRY
Why are we still having this conversation? That was the theme of the Bentley University Center for Women and Business Inaugural forum that took place on April 27, 2012. The Center is working on initiatives relating to advancing women in the workplace and moving from conversation to action. Energetic as always, Bentley University President Gloria Larson kicked off the forum that over 700 people had signed up to attend. Bentley University’s Toni Wolfman said “the Center provides a framework to develop effective solutions to challenges faced by women in the workplace.”
Betsy Myers was appointed as the Center’s Founding Director. Myers is an authority on leadership and author of the book Take the Lead: Motivate, Inspire, and Bring Out the Best in Yourself and Everyone Around You. She has deep experience in the corporate, political and higher education arenas and served as Chief Operating Officer of Barack Obama’s Presidential Campaign. Myers also served in the Clinton Administration as an adviser on women’s issues.
Recently The Capital Network presented its Venture Fast Track program, a one-day “boot camp” to prepare startups for success with venture capitalists and angel investors. So often I find that people with great ideas might be a little bit unsure whether they’re a good fit to plug into all the resources offered by organizations like The Capital Network, Mass Challenge, Boston World Partnerships, Venture Café, and so many more. It’s important that people understand just how open this community is. If you have a hunger to start and grow something, just show up! You’ll be welcome.
At the Venture Fast Track, people commented on two big buckets of value: the info and the people.
Thriving in today’s marketplace is as much about continuous learning and proactive planning as it is about talent. Most people take great care in methodically planning out many aspects of their lives yet in many cases, their career decisions and/or paths happen based on circumstances vs. intentions. Creating a plan that allows for both is not only ideal in this competitive, highly specialized market but necessary!
What is the mission and vision for your career? What are your short term goals for the next 1-3 years as well as your long term goals 5 years and beyond? Are you taking the steps now to ensure success in achieving your short and long term goals? Do you have a personal and professional development plan for managing your career? When is the last time you assessed and explored your skills, abilities, competencies, interests, priorities and values to assure they are aligned appropriately with your professional and personal goals and objectives as well as the requirements for success within your field?
The economy is on the rise as is the demand for accomplished, results-driven professionals with a proven track record who can add value. Only you can manage your career so having a solid development plan for yourself with specific goals and objectives is the best way to start that process. Organizations are looking for leadership capabilities at all levels – they desire individuals with potential to grow and initiative to own their career development.
So, how do you create a personal and professional development plan?
- Know your competencies, skills, strengths, weaknesses, interests and values; assess and evaluate regularly; be true to yourself; leverage strengths and uncover potential to be further developed.
- Do your homework and stay current in your field; investigate sought after skills that are in demand; identify areas you may fall short; determine skills to be refined and enhanced as well as steps to execute.
- Be goal-oriented; establish short and long term goals; keep a running list of your accomplishments; establish where the gaps are preventing you from reaching these goals.
- Prepare an action plan that will allow you to fill these gaps – both personally and professionally; reach out to your network of peers, colleagues, managers, contacts and other resources to assist you.
- Follow up and evaluate; be disciplined and make yourself accountable to a specific timetable; revisit regularly and stay on track; evaluate frequently and make necessary adjustments and follow through.
Last Tuesday night about 70 local marketing professionals got together for a “marketing hackathon” to think through how we could better promote and communicate what’s special about our region’s Innovation Economy.
Our Innovation Economy is diverse – our tech, life sciences, education, clean energy, gaming, financial services, robotics, and design sectors are thriving and innovating on some really hard problems. And, as Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki reminded us during the hack, they’re not just building innovative products but they’re also creating new-to-the-world business models that are disrupting traditional approaches.
The challenge was to find a way to communicate our unique culture and make it meaningful to students, entrepreneurs and businesses who want to move/grow here and future employees who want to stay here. Not an easy task to be sure, especially when we are prone to comparing ourselves or trying to emulate Silicon Valley, Austin or New York City.
As we shared some of the best ideas from the hack, a theme started to gel for me – Boston, we need to embrace our inner nerd.FULL ENTRY
When I was getting my MBA at Trinity College in Dublin I was famous for putting my foot in my mouth. Despite my fairly decent command of the American English language, I could always be counted on to accidentally say something on a Tuesday afternoon that was completely inappropriate.
One of my most famous incidents involved me getting up in front of an entire class and one of Ireland’s most beloved economics professors with a goal of clarifying the dress code for a social event. Instead of telling all the women it was a dressy occasion I accidentally told them not to wear underwear. Turns out “pants” does not mean the same thing on the other side of the Atlantic. While my language malfunction still makes for a good laugh among my friends, the same mistake in a business setting could have permanently damaged my reputation with potential clients in a new market.
I recently learned that just one percent of US firms export and of that one percent only half export outside North America. With the economy still lagging we’d all like to see that number go up. As the world gets wealthier the demand for the skills and services of our highly educated workforce will grow; Washington is hard at work encouraging American firms to look overseas for new customers.
Whether you’re looking to bring Boston to the world or your part of the world to Boston, doing business outside your home country is always a challenge. Technological advances in transportation and communication may make logistics easier but the age old problem of cross cultural communication remains. So before you explore the opportunities outside your home market here are five basic tips that I want to pass along.FULL ENTRY
If you grew up speaking English, chances are you’re not fluent in a second language, especially if you grew up in the United States. To experience more of the world—for business or pleasure—a second language really comes in handy. The best way to learn a language is to start speaking it right away, no matter how little of it you know.
It isn’t as hard to become fluent as memories of high school French or Spanish homework would have you believe. There are many people (including Benny the Irish Polyglot whose philosophy I am following) who believe that the best way to become fluent is to immerse yourself in and start speaking the language immediately. That’s how I’m learning Polish. (Full disclosure: I’ve been studying Polish about two months and am not yet fluent.)
For my purposes, fluency is the ability to give a presentation or hold a conversation about a topic that interests you in your target language, and understand the other participants when they speak to you or ask questions. This is not fluency designed to help pass an exam or meet other specific requirements, though it could lead to that.
Immersion is the key to learning a language rapidly. Think about it. If you did not know a single word of Chinese, but suddenly found yourself spending several months in a small city in China with no English speakers, you would learn to speak Chinese.
Immersion is how children learn their first language. But adults have an advantage over children: experience in the world, which puts words and their meaning in context. So, shopping for food in that city in China isn’t all that different from shopping for food here.
How do you immerse yourself in another language if you can’t move to or travel to the country right now?FULL ENTRY
The clichéd idiom “elevator pitch” has survived the tech bubble because uniqueness is usually trumped by utility. The need for effective solutions is a crucial part of life and the cornerstone for commerce. Companies seek the most effective ways to attract more customers, while consumers are always on the hunt for an efficient solution for their needs. Consequently, an effective elevator pitch is crucial for companies in search of funding, job applicants seeking employment, and small businesses in search of new customers.
Commerce at its highest level is a collective process that requires matching needs with attractive solutions. Accordingly, the need for effective communication is paramount to transitioning from merely surviving to thriving.
People are busy and your elevator pitch must be well-rehearsed and as easy to say as your name. Working with others involves understanding their needs. Accordingly, a brief summary of the solution you are offering is attractive to a busy executive or consumer.
"A well crafted elevator pitch will open many doors while a poorly delivered one will keep the doors shut. Create a short, to the point statement that not only explains what you do, but what makes you different." - Lauren Zirilli Founder, JILLIES Medical Treatment Wear for Women.
A successful elevator pitch must:
- Grab the attention
- Lay out a solution
- Adjust to the audience
- Demand Action
Grab the attention
Mastering influence is the ultimate goal of entrepreneurs, companies, customers, and job applicants. You must grab your listener’s attention by capturing their imagination. A tagline is a terrific means to arousing interest. An example is, “We are the XYZ of the widget industry.” Your tagline should be comprised of your core purpose and grab your audience’s attention. A short way of communicating the benefits you are revealing to your audience is essential to captivating your listeners. A straightforward description of your services, products or skills delivered in 30 seconds or less is the ideal length of your message.
“To me, elevator pitches are like really good movie trailers. They leave you wondering, wait, what else? I need to see that, be a part of it. Whomever you are talking to is roped into your project. Funny thing for me is that my most successful pitches have been during unexpected encounters and not formal presentations.” - Jeanne Dasaro, North End StoriesFULL ENTRY
How does one make a successful product such as an iPad, an app, a drug, or a widget?
You might think that companies start with an idea about a product, something that seems cool or somehow promising. They then build a prototype to prove the concept – that the product can indeed be built or made. And then they make more products and sell them.
If only it were that easy!
Unfortunately, products need a lot of work before they actually sell. The expected demand may turn out to not be there; the price might be too high; the product might be clunky; or there might be regulatory hurdles Much of that work is done in product development. Because product development is underestimated, most people think that the most important part of innovation is invention – the glamorous moment where a genius thinks of something new in a flash. But in reality ideas are a dime a dozen whereas product development is the hard slog that really makes a difference.FULL ENTRY
Do you wish your network provided you with new ideas, greater intelligence and more money? Are you searching for a job without realizing that it's a permanent campaign rather than a job search? Or, are you just trying to find the people who are willing and able to refer business to you? It’s crucial that your network help you encounter new ideas, learn new skills and regain your sense of purpose.The problem is that relatively isolated, homogeneous networks - consisting of people like yourself who live nearby - are unlikely to produce positive outcomes.
I’ve been there - after reading Harvard Business Review’s How to Build Your Network, in 2006, and taking the article’s diagnostic test, my network was revealed to be full of connections made in school and the workplace. It was even bold enough to suggest my network of 90 people was inbred.
Frankly, I liked my network just the way it was because there were very few dissenting views, everyone lived within an hour of me, and I didn’t have to put in any ‘leg-work’ to build the connections. It was comfortable and fun. I wouldn’t have changed anything about it except my network was not producing much business. In fact, it mainly produced beer, wine, food and redundant information. Yet in a fast-changing world, I perceived a credible threat that I could get left behind. I felt compelled to change.
Homogenous groups are very comfortable. They tend to share your interests, opinions and profession and they rarely challenge you or your thinking. But your network should cut across geographies, functions and specialties because that’s where the magic happens! It’s time to let new people into your “circle of trust” and explore ideas that differ from your own.
Start networking outside your comfort zone!FULL ENTRY
Networking in Boston may seem daunting, especially for a new arrival. When I moved to Boston, I was transitioning from active duty military service and I had zero time to prepare for my transition from Southern California. I did not know where to begin my professional and social networking.
Eight years later, I have learned through trial and error what worked for me.
Five Sectors to Take Seriously
Embrace these five key sectors in order to maximize your success for networking in the Boston area: Academia, Business, Culture, Government, and Nonprofit Organizations.
Whatever your goals are when networking, these five sectors can add great value to your career. Simply making contacts in these areas is not sufficient; you need to cross-pollinate your network to reap the benefits of all they have to offer, so you can be a valuable node for your colleagues and trusted friends.FULL ENTRY
The first time I heard the term “working a room,” I thought there must be more to attending events than just showing up and simply interacting with others. Perhaps there is an actual science to “working a room.” The fact is some people are more comfortable than others in social settings, and some people are so good at networking that they actually do have it down to a science. One such person is the man who got me started networking – retired financial services industry executive Richard J. DeAgazio and now Principal of consulting firm Ironsides Associates.
Why is Networking Important?
In any business, no matter what the profession is, social skills and networking are necessary to move forward. One way to network is to attend social events, because they bring together like-minded individuals, whether it is a church event, a charity event, or a professional association event.
What Can Someone Who Isn’t a Natural Networker Do To Make the Most Out of Attending an Event?
- Be prepared and determine the networking goal beforehand, such as who do you want to meet. This maximizes the time spent at the event to get the most out of it.
- Before attending the event, obtain the guest list if possible. This can be accomplished by asking the event coordinator if the guest list is available.
Given what we have been seeing lately in the Boston-area commercial leasing market, I'd like to share some recommendations to consider before entering into your next lease:
- Use a reputable commercial leasing broker
I am always surprised whenever a CEO or CFO asks whether it’s worth having a broker on the team. The answer is yes! The best brokers know the market and your industry. They can save you time by guiding you away from locations that are poor matches for your needs. They can save you money by providing intelligence on key market prices, terms, and trends.
Perhaps past experience of using a headhunter to hire employees has unduly influenced these decision-makers. In the HR scenario, a company almost always pays an additional premium when it hires a candidate found by a headhunter. This is not the case with commercial leases. The landlord does not charge more for your lease if a broker is involved; there is no discount on rent if a broker is not involved.
- Let your lawyer help you before you sign the letter of intent
I know this sounds self-serving coming from lawyers, but a company often will want to try to sign the Letter of Intent (LOI) before starting the meter on a lawyer. The real risk, however, is that you may be forfeiting leverage that you have prior to signing the LOI. After signing an LOI, landlords often respond to a lawyer’s request for a material provision with a comment such as “This request should have been made as part of the LOI because the rental rate was priced without that provision.” The proverbial ship has sailed.
Remember, in most cases, the most affection you will ever receive from a landlord is as a prospective tenant when your company is the “buyer” and can choose from among many locations.
If there is concern over the cost of the lawyer at the LOI stage, have your lawyer agree to a fixed fee or a cap on the project that includes both the LOI and the lease.
- Fix the Assignment language!
For venture-backed companies in particular (or those with aspirations towards VC or private equity funding), insist on acceptable Assignment language within the LOI. Many leases will have language such as “a change of control of more than 50% of the equity ownership of the Tenant constitutes an Assignment and requires the prior written approval of the Landlord.” This is not acceptable for a company that may have one or more rounds of equity financing. Nor is it acceptable for a science-based company with valuable, customized laboratory space, who would risk losing that space based on a change of control triggered by substantial VC funding.
- Do not prematurely make operational decisions on moving into a location if the lease is not finalized
Your company has been looking at space for a long time. When you signed the LOI, it had a move-in date that was two months away. Now, because of delays/lack of responsiveness/holidays/whatever, you are two weeks away from the original move-in date, tired and frustrated, and the lease is still not signed. Your company is still trying to negotiate important terms while facing a fast-approaching occupancy date. At the same time, your operations people have been coordinating logistics with the landlord’s representatives, and you have been losing negotiating leverage daily. Try to avoid creating a scenario where it is economically impossible or not feasible for your company to go any place else.
- Learn the prior use of the space
If any portion of the space that your company is taking was previously used as laboratory space, make sure that you have received and reviewed carefully the evidence that the space has been remediated and that it has been appropriately certified as clean.
All businesses need to worry about finances, but entrepreneurs and start-up firms especially need to worry about the cost of everything. The expenses associated with leasing office or lab space can represent some of the highest fixed costs borne by a small company. Do your firm a favor and proactively obtain value for each leasing dollar spent. Focusing on the tips mentioned above will at least put you on the right path.
Peter Cahill of Cahill Law Group is a corporate lawyer with significant transactional and general corporate experience representing start-ups and small and mid-sized companies. His experience encompasses debt and equity offerings, drafting a variety of corporate contracts, and negotiating commercial real estate transactions.
New drugs and medical devices cannot be sold to US customers before being approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This hurdle makes it harder and more expensive for companies to bring new products to market, but the point is obviously to safeguard the public.
Innovative and higher risk products have to be proven safe through clinical trials, the cost of which can run into tens of millions of dollars - because the need for reliable (statistically significant) data requires experiments with sufficiently large patient populations. In medical devices, the most important concept in connection with an FDA application is substantial equivalence, a comparison of moderate risk devices. If the FDA deems a device product substantially equivalent to one or more already cleared devices, then it will not require a clinical trial before putting it on the market.
My friend John is the best public speaker I’ve ever seen. He can stand up in front of any crowd, talk about any subject and have the audience eating out of his hands. When I first met him, I was jealous. I wanted to elicit that same response from an audience. To my everlasting disappointment mimicking John was never a feasible strategy for one simple reason: I’m Kellyanne.
While it is tempting to try to replicate another's techniques, what I’ve discovered after years of presenting all types of information to all kinds of audiences in every format possible is that it’s not about being funny or quick, it’s about being authentic.
Authenticity is giving your audience a window into who you really are while working to establish and maintain a connection with them. Connecting with your audience is a process, not an event, so you must continuously adjust your presentation style to meet their needs in real time. Adapting to your audience may seem like the very antithesis of authenticity but it’s not. Using questions, anecdotes, and humor you can find a balance between the presentation you want to give and the presentation your audience wants to hear.
In the coming days the media spotlight will shine brightly upon the March 29 BRICS summit in New Delhi, where business leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa will meet to discuss issues in global trade. Given such international attention, it’s worthwhile to reflect on the progress made by these emerging countries, and look to the future for new ways Massachusetts can partner with these fast-growing economic powerhouses.
Take Brazil, for example. For much of the last forty years, the country was described as a nação de amanhã – “the nation of tomorrow.” It was known for coffee, soccer, and samba, and its exporting strengths were primarily in commodities like sugar and iron. I lived there in the late ’70s and early ’80s while working for Bank of America, and saw first-hand how political uncertainty and hyperinflation inhibited investment in the country’s resources, both natural and human.
Today is a completely different story, as the country has evolved to become an increasingly important player in the world. In the face of a global recession, Brazil’s GDP achieved its strongest growth in 25 years in 2010. After slowing last year, GDP is expected to rise another 3.5 percent in 2012, twice the rate of countries in Europe. In December it surpassed Britain as the sixth-biggest economy in the world; the IMF predicts that it will overtake France by 2015 to join the ranks of the top five alongside the United States, China, Japan and Germany.FULL ENTRY
A few months ago, I interviewed a number of venture capitalists about public speaking as it relates to the hundreds of startup pitches they hear.
I asked, “What’s important to you in a pitch?”
There was one answer I’ll never forget. It came from David Wells of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Buyers.
He replied, “Within the first 8 words, I’ve decided whether or not to keep listening.”
I frowned for a second, unsure if I had heard right. Then I asked, “What are you looking for in those first 8 words?”
He replied (and I’m paraphrasing), “The core innovation. If it’s not in the first 8 words, it’s probably not there. That’s when I either stop listening or interrupt the speaker to ask.”
In a nutshell, it’s about having a strong opening line. It’s about grabbing your audience’s attention so that they put down their iPhones and listen. Entrepreneurs need to get to the point and distinguish themselves from dozens of others promising the next game-changing idea. But the rest of us can use it every time we speak in public.FULL ENTRY
Just a few years ago, the South Boston Waterfront didn’t have much to it. Fast forward to 2012 and the area is exploding with activity in what’s now known as Boston’s Innovation District – one of Boston’s hottest neighborhoods.
It’s never been a better time for the development, as there’s a new generation of workers, and Boston wants to keep them. They walk and ride bikes to work, and they can do it all without leaving the city. Much of the development started after a 2010 mandate from Boston Mayor Tom Menino to develop 1000 acres of waterfront property as a platform of entrepreneurship focused on 3 initiatives – jobs, housing, and infrastructure.
The district was created to attract innovative people and companies and fuel economic engines for Boston. It’s a way to win the war to obtain and retain talent. The Innovation District has created 3000 new jobs and 100 companies.
MassChallenge moved to the area in 2010 and has brought a lot of excitement and innovation to the area with its mission to “Catalyze a startup renaissance.” MassChallenge is the largest start-up accelerator and competition in the world and offers 125 finalist start-up companies access to world-class mentorship and training, free office space, access to funding and media, and other perks, such as free business flights provided by American Airlines. The winners of the challenge receive $1M in cash awards and over $4 Million worth of in-kind support collectively.FULL ENTRY
Many university scientists and start-up companies develop new drugs. But getting a drug through the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval process and to market is a long, expensive and risky process. Many companies seek to share this risk by partnering or out-licensing to a larger biotechnology or pharmaceutical company.
Antony Newton worked for Genzyme from 1992 to 2011, eventually becoming Vice President of Portfolio Management in the Oncology Division, He facilitated the in-licensing process there and describes here what you have to think about in order to successfully out-license your drug to a pharmaceutical company:
- Have a clear value proposition
- Understand the culture of the company
- Understand the structure of decision making
- Develop relationships on the inside
- Plan for follow through
While the example of Genzyme helps us flesh out these five points, the lessons are general and apply to any pharmaceutical company.
1. What is the value proposition?
Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly using in-licensing and partnering to build and de-risk their development pipelines. For the out-licensing group it is important to understand the needs of the pharmaceutical company. Are they interested in particular technologies or approaches, are they looking for products at a certain stage of development? By asking these questions up front, you avoid fruitless discussions. And by knowing more, you can tailor the information presented to meet their needs.FULL ENTRY
Whether you are continuing your education in your 20s or 50s, it can be a worthwhile endeavor. Most agree that that it takes an incredible amount of time and effort. In fact, you may suddenly find yourself frequently writing papers all hours of the night and no longer being able to take leisurely vacations. However, that’s just temporary, and the benefits outweigh the negatives. In the end, continuing education is rewarding and game changing in a positive way.
According to Dorothy Whalen, Board President of the National Association of Women MBAs (NAWMBA) Boston Chapter, although she was already at the CFO level, it was definitely worth going back to school for her MBA. Whalen said “No one can take away my education.” Attending Northeastern University’s Executive MBA program allowed her to learn among other leaders with diverse experiences and perspectives and enabled her to keep current on new technologies, trends, and best practices.
Evelyn Tate, Director of Graduate Recruitment & Admissions at Northeastern University stated continuing education helps you remain competitive in the workplace, and additional education can set you apart from other candidates, whether you are applying for a position or looking to be promoted within a company. Tate also said although there’s financial expenses involved with attending school, there’s also financial benefits going forward. A Bureau of Labor & Statistics study shows that the financial benefits of continuing one’s education can be significant.
Most American small and medium companies know India as a country for off-shoring software development or call center services, and largely ignore other opportunities to do business in India or partner with Indian companies.
I am a Boston-based entrepreneur who co-founded a company that helps overseas companies expand their business into the United States. Some of the companies we help are from India.
Last year I had the opportunity to visit India and meet with their local entrepreneurs. I attended the IndiaSoft software conference in the city of Pune in the state of Maharashtra, an urban agglomeration with 5.5 million people that most Americans have never heard of (I admit that I had to look it up too …). Being in the neighborhood, I also took the opportunity to set up several meetings with entrepreneurs in Mumbai.FULL ENTRY
Identifying and marketing your personal brand is an essential core competency for managing and sustaining a successful career. Empower yourself by knowing what you have to offer, what you want and how to ask for it.
Your ability to market your talents, accomplishments and value inside your organization and within your profession, industry and community are a key part of enhancing your brand. The demands we face today include an unpredictable economy, very competitive and specialized marketplace, globalization, changing demographics, and strong leadership skills by all levels.
In order to be successful, it is critical to set yourself apart.
Think about the following questions:
- Do you know your value adds – your unique differentiators?
- Can you define your personal brand?
- How easily can you articulate that brand?
- Do you actively work on enhancing your brand?
Are you comfortable talking about yourself in this way? More importantly, are you prepared to talk about yourself in this way – packaging your talents and accomplishments – showcasing them and presenting your value internally within your organization and externally within your chosen field and community?
How can you develop this ease, confidence and comfort that is considered very difficult by many people?FULL ENTRY
In the past, hospitals didn’t need to advertise much. Your primary care doctor referred you to a hospital or a doctor: You went there and probably didn’t think much about it. If you knew someone in the healthcare field you may have asked a few questions, but otherwise you probably felt you didn’t have much of a choice in the matter.
The healthcare landscape has changed dramatically in the last several years. For patients, the change is the realization that we are consumers of healthcare services and that we can and should make choices when purchasing our healthcare, the same way we do for other consumer products and services.
For hospitals, the change is the need to create a brand and better understand the competitive landscape and the changing business model. Today, hospitals direct their messages to consumers. But given that hospitals have neither the budget nor the marketing experience of your average consumer products behemoth, the reality of hospital advertising is more complicated than simply talking to consumers.FULL ENTRY
As the Chatham Forum continued, the second panel of the day (See last week's intro post) – Greg Selkoe, Vicky Wu Davis, Travis McCready, Helena Fruscio and Frederick Kramer – convened later that morning to discuss strengthening Greater Boston’s global presence. A key theme the panel kept coming back to was changing the way we think about barriers geographically. One dysfunctional example that gained many nodding heads of support was discussion of taxi pickup regulations that prevent Boston cabs from picking up in Cambridge and vice versa. Not only is it frustrating to people who live in the Boston area, but it is frustrating and bewildering to out-of–towners who will remember such anecdotal encounters.
The taxi example seemed to represent the desire of the panel to see more cooperation between the region’s cities, minimizing regulation and bureaucracy that stifles business and detracts from a positive experience in Greater Boston. Heather Fruscio neatly summarized the problem by noting that “A brand is only as good as it functions” – harkening back to the earlier panel’s praise of Barcelonactiva for integrating processes that help business permitting go smoothly. Healthy competition between cities, emphasizing real differences, is okay; unhealthy competition with a winner take all mentality will not help Greater Boston as a whole. One panelist even noted that districts within a city, sometimes blocks apart, can get into unhealthy competition that loses sight of the bigger benefit.FULL ENTRY
Super Bowl weekend kicked off with a star-studded retreat focusing on Boston’s future. World Class Cities Partnership (WCCP), in collaboration with City to City Boston and Boston World Partnerships, planned the 2012 Chatham Forum for engaged Greater Boston citizens to learn, discuss, renew friendships and expand networks. To quote from WCCP Executive Director Mike Lake’s invitation, the Forum sought to update everyone about “opportunities for the Boston region in relation to innovation, entrepreneurship and adapting best practices from around the world to strengthen economic development in our region.” In addition, attendees participated in Massachusetts’ first Urban Excellence unConference with “Solution Sessions” to share ideas and projects on economic development, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Insightful content and action opportunities were in abundance. A Friday night cocktail reception and dinner with opening keynote from Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson set the tone for an ambitious agenda. Jackson stressed the importance of getting the youth of Greater Boston civically engaged, something that starts with a strong public education system.
On Saturday morning everyone reconvened with a heart-felt montage tribute to the recently deceased former Boston Mayor Kevin White. [As a sad epilogue, Lowell Richards of Massport, a former deputy mayor to White, who was at the Chatham Forum unexpectedly died on Sunday. Condolences go out to his family and friends. He spent the better portion of his last weekend with us doing what he did best: working behind the scenes on making Greater Boston better.]FULL ENTRY
Different co-working spaces in Boston have a different feel and tailor to different types of companies. Given we are young and have a fairly informal culture, WorkBar’s laid back environment works really well for us. Many of my friends from MIT have had success working out of the Cambridge Innovation Center. Having spent much time hanging out there as well, it has a great tech/start-up vibe.
Why has co-working been the right move for us?FULL ENTRY
What are the 5 top factors to weigh before getting a PhD?
1. What doors does a PhD open for you?
The fact of the matter is, it opens mostly doors within academia. In order to get a job as a professor, you need a PhD. For most others, you don't. There are a few exceptions, such as chemistry and fields related to drug development. So if you know for certain that you want to work in academia or in, say, pharmaceuticals, then a targeted PhD is the right thing.
Also, if you are interested in an expanding field, which at the moment could be something like big data analysis or brain and cognitive sciences, then you can be reasonably certain that there will be enough openings in academia by the time you have your PhD. Of course, if you want to be in the humanities or atrophying science fields, such as space research or nuclear science, then you will end up looking at lots of closed doors.
The problem is that universities do not give you any guidance in this. They are not geared to open doors for you, except if you want to become a professor, and they do not get measured by enabling you.
2. Which skill sets will you learn?
Obviously, you will learn a lot about something esoteric. For example, if you do a PhD in the history of accounting techniques among public house owners in Boston in the 1830s, you will end up knowing more than any other person on the planet about your narrow field. But because this knowledge is unlikely to help you with anything, the question really is, what else will you learn in the process? You might for example learn how to find information that is hard to find. You might also learn how to combine different kinds of information to arrive at insights that no one had seen before.
You might further learn to summarize complex issues and to present the issues to academics, both orally and in texts. It has to be said that you are unlikely to learn how to present to the general public, and so while the training is specifically to learn how to behave within the ivory tower, it may just be useful outside too.
You will definitely learn how to juggle complex issues and how to synthesize them for a particular audience. And you will learn a form of self-discipline where the motivation has to come from within. There is no instant gratification: it can take years before you reap the fruits of your labor.
The universities can also give you no guidance on these issues before you start your degree. Neither professors nor university administrators think much about the value the students get, because they are measured by other standards, such as the number of publications they produce. They are geared towards producing knowledge that matters to professors who talk mostly to each other. Of course, even though the system is not set up to assist you in building up a skill set, you can focus on this yourself and use university resources for that purpose.
3. How will it make you feel about yourself?
Getting a PhD will likely give you a sense of achievement and make you feel proud. This is no small matter. You can put your title next to your name and most likely it will earn you respect.
In general, you will be considered smart, and that is mostly an advantage.
Feeling good about yourself and confident has many benefits, in addition to being an end in itself. You will go into future challenges with confidence and for that reason you will also be more likely to succeed. But there is an attendant danger also: you may feel a sense of entitlement over people without PhDs, and so you might be unpleasantly surprised when others get chosen over you and you learn to use the word overqualified in order to soothe the pain. So here is something you should be prepared to juggle: be proud of a PhD while at the same time acknowledging that it may not open doors.
4. Will you have fun?
This was certainly the first thing that came to my mind when I weighed the option of a PhD. And it is of course of major importance.
You absolutely have to find the object of your studies interesting, because the gratification is very delayed. Life in the lab can be tedious and boring, unless you endow your activities with meaning. You have to feel that it matters, that you play with cool tools, that you contribute to the betterment of humanity in some way, or that you discover some measure of Truth, however small. If you want to become a professor you have to enjoy the kind of life that professors lead. And if you end up needing a job outside academia that your PhD doesn't necessarily prepare you well for, then you will at least want to have had fun!
5. What is the cost?
Ultimately, you will want to try some kind of cost-benefit analysis. A PhD takes a long time, and it costs fees and living expenses.
Unless you get grants to assist with this, it will add up. In addition, you will spend many years not making a living and not learning other important skills. I think most people wing it: they go into an academic field because they are enamoured with it, and maybe also because it continues the life they led as an undergrad - it avoids having to go out and find a job. They think about the fun and maybe also about the status.
Of course, there is much to be said for simply following your passions. But since so many PhDs nowadays lead to a perceived dead end, it is a good idea to consider the above five issues before it is too late.
I am a fan of the web service Survey Monkey. But for about a half-hour last week I was a hater. Now I am a fan again. And in the fluctuations of my fandom lies a key lesson for all of us in business.
In short, the lesson is this: the customer drives your offense. In fact, at my company we’ve actually given our customer a name.
We call him Tom Brady.FULL ENTRY
I went to graduate school because a college professor told me I needed to. Of course, there was more to my decision than that, but his advice played an important role in my choice to move across the country from sunny San Diego to wintry Wisconsin.
At the time, I wanted to get into nuclear fusion research and this leader in the field said that in order to have a career in nuclear fusion it was best to have a PhD. He was absolutely right, too. Almost 100% of the jobs in nuclear fusion are academic research positions that are looking for PhDs, and the field is sufficiently complicated that it just takes a big chunk of time to pick up on the variety of disciplines involved.
So, the BEST thing for me to do was go to grad school. I still believe that, too, even though a large part of my life is dedicated to building a solar deployment company that draws absolutely nothing on the subject area knowledge that I gained while getting my master's and PhD. (And yes, I am also still working in nuclear fusion, too.)
Now, should you go to grad school? Should you invest the next 2-5+ years in more school? That's an entirely different question. My answer to you would be:
Yes. If...FULL ENTRY
Global reach of New England art Galleries creates meaningful dialogue and collaboration across cultures
Gallery Ehva in Provincetown is owned and operated by a visionary artist, Ewa Nogiec. She threatens to leave the USA and go back to her home in Poland if the gallery business doesn’t work out for her. Art is her whole life. In preparation for my recent show, Birds of a Feather, she made an unusual request. She asked me to make a stork, because they are very special to her. They breed in Poland and remind her of home. They are born with black legs and beaks, but when they reach sexual maturity, their beaks and legs turn bright red. Their bodies are white except for the brush of black that remains on the wingtips. As I developed a wood sculpture, White Stork, this bird took flight in my mind.FULL ENTRY
Leaving a secure job that has potential for upward mobility to incur tens of thousands of dollars more of student loan debt doesn't seem like the best decision to make in the current economic climate.
So why would one decide to re-enter the world of academia?
My decision to go back was grounded in the fact that I wasn't working in a career that I wanted to pursue in the long term. This isn't a knock on the job, the office, or the people I worked with; it's just a simple fact. I graduated from Connecticut College in 2009, and there wasn't exactly a plethora of options available to me. My first few jobs out of school were of the, "any port in a storm" variety.
Also, I wasn't sure what it was I wanted to do with my life. Working for a couple of years after college gave me the time to figure that out, and I highly recommend it to everyone considering any type of education after college.
It gets you real world experience and might even direct you to a career you wouldn't have considered but which you really enjoy. It also shows future employers that you've taken time to weigh your options, and you aren't just diving headlong into grad school because you don't know what else to do after undergrad.
My lack of qualifications also helped nudge me back to school. For a little while, I entertained the notion I could get into the field I wanted to pursue (urban planning) without any more school. I had a good resume and transcript and thought those plus my work experience would equal a new job. I quickly realized that I just didn't have the right skills, and I could really only acquire those skills if I went back to school.
Another factor I had to keep in mind was whether or not the investment in graduate school would be worthwhile.FULL ENTRY
I looked at business schools all over the country when thinking about where to pursue a Master of Business Administration degree (MBA). In the end, I decided to go to the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Several years later, I couldn't be happier with my decision. Sloan offers the best possible experience for what I want to do as a technology entrepreneur and a management consultant.
While an MBA is expensive, it paid off for me quickly. I started a successful company my second year at Sloan, mainly from ideas generated in two classes -- Pricing and Industrial Economics -- that I took back to back. The analytical and strategic skills have benefited me both in running my businesses, and my parallel life as management consulting. It's not just about the financial bump though; it's also how rewarding it is to be able to accurately analyze and understand opportunities in technology that makes me feel great about the time I spent at Sloan.
Everyone's needs in an advanced degree are different, so choosing what to pursue and the right program for it can be difficult. It helps to have a few things in mind as you make your decision.
Why was Sloan the right choice for me?
As someone who is passionate about technology and entrepreneurship, the entrepreneurial ecosystem and experience at Sloan is just fantastic. A school like Stanford GSB is well situated in Silicon Valley, but MIT makes up for it by trying harder and really opening up and collaborating intra-university, and with companies in Cambridge, Boston, and globally.
Relationship building is key - where can you build the best ones for your career?
The Sloan School?s Entrepreneurship & Innovation (E&I) program and Trust Center for Entrepreneurship (aka the MIT E-Center), along with general entrepreneurial resources, are world class in terms of teaching the ins and outs of starting and building your own company. Ed Roberts and Ken Morse did a great job structuring the programs there, and now the team there with Bill Aulet and Justin Adelson is so energetic and does such a great job connecting people. I met an incredible number of the most successful global founders and, on many occasions, was taught by them. These sessions often extended into dinners, one-on-ones, and meaningful personal relationships.FULL ENTRY
Is it an outgoing, charismatic personality or maybe it's experience or practicing proper networking etiquette. While those aspects are all helpful, the key to being a successful networker is understanding that networking is mutual and not a one-way exchange.
According to Rita B. Allen, Career Management Consultant and President of Rita B. Allen Associates, networking is all about building meaningful and long lasting relationships and what you do with those business cards. Fewer and deep is better than a database of contacts you don't keep up with. Allen describes networking like planting seeds in the garden, nurturing it, and seeing it blossom. Many see networking as insincere, so the focus should be on building a mutually beneficial relationship and not just collecting as many business cards as possible. Allen suggests "be real and do what works for you."
Linda Moraski, President/CEO of PeopleSERVE, Inc., stated there?s numerous benefits to networking, whether it is for business, finding a vendor or service provider, or finding a job. As Allen mentioned, it's not about who you know but who knows you. Having a good network is critical in business.
Being active in social media is important but getting out there and meeting people face-to-face is equally important. Writing, speaking, and teaching are other ways to broaden one's network. Going to an event and networking can be intimidating for some, but the more you do it, the more comfortable you will get with working a room.
For those that are new to networking, practice your message about who you are and what you have to offer.FULL ENTRY
A few weeks ago, I was walking down the street in Buenos Aires when I saw someone wearing a T-shirt that read, “The internet was closed so I came outside today.” It was funny because there was so much truth to it.
Every year, we develop new ways to communicate with one another. These tools give us more and more ways to build community with friends, family, and colleagues around the world. For example, a few hours after I saw the T-shirt in Buenos Aires, I sat down at the café across from my apartment in San Telmo, tweeted a picture of my perfect coffee and croissant, and used the restaurant’s Wifi to Skype with my family in the United States.
But sometimes these new ways of communicating can dull our interpersonal, in-the-moment responsiveness. Why challenge someone at a staff meeting when I can simply email the whole team and carefully choose my words? Why answer a phone call when I can wait for the other person to leave a message and think carefully about my response?FULL ENTRY
Over on the New Prosperity blog in December, I had the privilege of posting a piece by fellow Bostonian Nathan Rothstein on what he hopes for the future of education. Nathan reflects on the importance of financial literacy, civics education, and service for recent grads. Too many young people come out of high school and college knowing next to nothing about finance or how elections work, he says, and too many could care less about politics. This at a time when the promises of an expensive college education no longer hold true, and when the world needs young people more than ever.
With so many of our major cultural institutions changing at what feels like the speed of light, Nathan thinks our educational institutions could change quicker. I couldn’t agree more, but of course change takes time. We have to talk about things first and gather collective support around new possibilities. We have to admit when things aren’t working and take some risks.
While many of my friends and colleagues are spending time in organizations/startups working toward creating new futures in education (The 100K ArtScience Prize, Boxxout Enterprises, University of Venus)—or challenging/re-imagining the entire concept of education (Kaos Pilots, Swaraj University), I find myself wondering about the future of work. Erica Dhawan and I are thinking a lot about the attitude and skills Gen Y-ers and millennials (especially young women) need to create meaningful, rewarding careers in a changing world of work and money, as people seek to live as much as in the real world as they do behind their computer screens, and as social responsibility becomes more of a given rather than a side consideration.FULL ENTRY
Massachusetts added 50,000 jobs during 2011 and unemployment fell to 7 percent, its lowest level since the end of 2008. In fact, according to The Boston Globe, the state added jobs at more than double the pace of the nation this past year. Employment in the state’s information services sector grew by 5 percent; professional services (which includes law firms) expanded by 4 percent; hospitality and health care grew by 3.6 and 3 percent, respectively; and manufacturing (led by technical equipment companies) expanded by 2 percent.
In November, the Associated Industries of Massachusetts Business Confidence Index turned positive – reaching 50.1 – for the first time since July. In mid-December, Suffolk University’s Beacon Hill Institute predicted that the state’s economy will grow by 2.8% and 65,000 jobs in 2012.
We at Major, Lindsey & Africa have experienced this first-hand: We made 37 percent more global law firm placements in 2011 than in 2010.
There are some potential clouds on the horizon that could slow the state’s growth, though. One is the global economy. Since many of the Commonwealth’s businesses sell their products and services overseas, Europe’s financial problems could have a negative ripple effect. There is also uncertainty concerning decisions being made in Washington, D.C. that could affect the state’s health care and defense industries. However, these are passing clouds. Massachusetts’ economy is grounded by strong industries, research-oriented universities and hospitals, and cutting-edge technologies, all of which bodes well for legal hiring as we head into the new year.
Hot Sectors Create Demand
Massachusetts, like the rest of the world, is seeing an uptick in demand for attorneys in the following areas: intellectual property, patent litigation, venture capital, private equity, health care, labor and employment, and corporate governance.FULL ENTRY
Poised above São Paulo is the uber-trendy Hotel Unique. Its signature Skye Bar offers a spectacular view of the industrial city and teems with well-heeled paulistanos. An English and Swiss colleague and I gaze over the skyline as we await our table on a warm November evening. As hotel guests our ‘priority’ table is ready at 12 midnight. Absolutely normal, one might think, in this part of the world. Except it’s a Tuesday. It’s just one sign of Brazil’s thriving economy.
It’s no secret that Brazil’s economy has boomed in recent years. Strong demand for its commodities, primarily from China, has contributed to an average growth rate of 5% and a rush of inbound foreign investment. A growing economy and access to credit has boosted the fortunes of the Brazilian middle class and spurred an explosion of consumption. The price of housing, office and retail space has increased dramatically as construction firms have scrambled to meet demand. And the Brazilian real has strengthened dramatically, unleashing a wave of international tourist spending and property buying.
The Brazilian luxury market is currently valued at $2.6 billion, with another $5 billion consumed outside of Brazil. According to Global Blue, a private company that refunds the VAT of foreign shoppers, Brazilian spending in Europe has increased over 50% since 2009. In Paris, both Printemps and Galeries Lafayette each now have a Brazilian Portuguese-speaking customer service representative to assist with shopping. And Brazilians are the darlings of Miami, spending over $1 billion per year and buying nearly half of all downtown condos valued over $500,000.
Against this backdrop, and with over 155,000 millionaire households (about 40% of the Latin American total) and an ever-expanding aspirational class, it’s hard to imagine that Brazil wouldn’t be at the top of most firms’ international expansion plans. Yet Brazil has attracted relatively less attention by luxury corporations than its other BRIC counterparts, specifically China and India.FULL ENTRY
There’s a lot of pressure on you when you’re an opera singer. Every note must be sung perfectly in tune, every syllable pronounced perfectly as if you were fluent in the language, every facial expression carefully crafted to match the words. Even though you are human, your audience expects a super-human performance every single time you sing.
While my operatic training gave me great preparation for being a public speaker, I have realized that there’s a major difference between opera and public speaking. OK, as you can imagine there are many differences between opera and public speaking, but I’d like to focus on just one.
In public speaking, you don’t have to be perfect.
Last week, Boston World Partnerships invited John Della Volpe, Co-founder and Managing Director of SocialSphere, an insight-based strategy company, to present to a group of Greater Boston’s civic and business leaders about how the world perceives Boston.
This project was a direct result of feeling frustrated in countless conversations with other business and civic leaders about how we can promote Boston’s assets better to the world and generate economic growth. In order to better promote the city, we needed hard data on the global perception of Boston’s talent and resources.FULL ENTRY
These days there seems to be a million-and-one blogs out there pitching the latest tips, tricks, and techniques for how to optimize your business website to make more money. Harder to find, however, is conversation around the simplest, most basic principles of website design that many small businesses continue to get wrong over and over again. Principals that, when ignored, can render a business website ineffective at best and totally useless at worst.
That's why we've decided to highlight 5 of the most fatal mistakes that small businesses make when building a new website. We've also included practical advice on how to avoid them, so that you can ensure your business's new website will be well-equipped to provide the value you intend.
1) Not providing a clear call to action
One of the most common mistakes that businesses make with their websites is not accounting for how short people's attention spans are on the web. In many cases, companies provide too much non-essential information on their homepage, overwhelming the user with too much text and providing little to no direction for what to do next.
THE PROBLEM: Consumers who search for products and services online want to find what they need FAST, which means you have a very small window of opportunity to get your message across to a first-time visitor of your website.
WHAT TO DO: When designing your company's website, think about the most important action you want people to take when they visit. Maybe it's to buy a product, subscribe to a newsletter, or request more information. Whatever that action may be, make sure you provide a clear and obvious path to it on your website such as a button, form or link. If getting to the desired next step requires digging through endless paragraphs of text or a cluttered navigation menu, most of your visitors will immediately move on. After all, your competition is just a click away.FULL ENTRY
For those who love the startup life, one of the best parts about working in that environment is the fact that there are no silos. All the business groups interact and collaborate. Everyone wears a lot of hats. With customers to serve and limited resources, that’s the only way to make sure the company is nimble and can respond as needed to market conditions.
David Hood is Director of Marketing at Kyruus Inc., a Boston-based big data company offering analytics driven solutions for health care delivery and life sciences companies. Over the past several years, he has worked at a number of startups in Boston and San Francisco. He made the move to Kyruus earlier this year because of the exceptional team at the company and the opportunity to significantly disrupt the healthcare industry. David shares his thoughts with Manya Chylinski about marketing, working at a startup, and Boston’s healthcare landscape.
What is the competition like in your space?
There are a lot of consulting and legal companies offering solutions, particularly in the space we’re in right now, looking at interactions between healthcare providers and the industry but not a lot of software solutions. I think that speaks to the fact that data has traditionally been hard to access and that these firms typically take a whole bunch of smart people, have them do their own research and come back with a report. What we’re seeing is that with the data we’ve brought together on our platform, it’s possible to do that in a far more systematic way than what has traditionally been done.FULL ENTRY
Due to Boston's employment and educational machines, Boston appears to have reserved a spot in the upper tier of the nation's real estate market. The high tech companies, the universities, hospitals, and bio med corporations are magnets for the nation's best and brightest minds. Considering the future peaks and valleys that residential and commercial real estate will face, Boston is situated well to attract talented workers during the next few years.
There appears to be a voracious need for apartments in Boston. A 50,000-square-foot property located at Downtown Crossing is being converted into apartments by The Hamilton Co., an Allston real estate company. "New hires need a place to stay. So the rental market price is up 19% from the last twelve-month period in a recent report I did for one customer..." states Stephen Marcus of Stephen Marcus Realty in Quincy.
City planners have created an evolving economic environment that supports businesses, which hire workers attracted to the Greater Boston area's many resources. In addition, Boston has over 20 diverse neighborhoods that provide a multitude of choices for recreation and professional development. The result has been a relatively healthy housing market compared to other cities in the U.S. Real estate is micro-local and the new construction that is occurring in South Boston, Dudley Square, the Fenway, and Downtown Crossing are emblematic of an exciting new era in the City of Boston.
Lennox Chase is an attorney that sits on the board of directors for Needham Bank. Attorney Chase is also the founder of MyBarPrep, a tutoring company for lawyers and law school students.
When walking the owner of Mehak through the chart below, he was immediately blown away by how we “knew how many people were checking him out.” The secret? We didn’t. That’s Google Analytics. Its extremely easy to use, and most importantly free. Once you have your website set up just go to www.google.com/analytics and from there Google will do an excellent job of walking you through the process. Once you have it set up you will not only be able to see how many people come to your webpage, what pages were the ones they stayed on the longest, but also HOW are they finding you.
This summer Main Street Partners worked with a small business whose story seems to be all too common for today’s small business.
The situation: the owner of a small Pakistani and Indian restaurant in East Boston was starting to become very concerned that the business wasn’t growing as fast as he would like and he couldn’t pinpoint why. The restaurant (Mehak) makes exceptional food (the Chicken Tikka Masala is as good as it gets) and their customers spoke very highly of the restaurant to their peers and online. Nevertheless, business seemed to have plateaued and without more revenue the business wouldn’t be able to survive.
Sound familiar? Having spoken with dozens of small business owners this story seems to be a reoccurring theme. The good news is there are some very easy ways to break out of this pattern. The key is to understand that even if you have THE BEST product or service available, you cannot count on your potential customers to do all of your marketing for you. They will not embark on an hour-long search to find you – on foot or online. You have to go to them and make their search easy.
This process can have many components but if you are a restaurant, grocery store, or service provider, the following posts include three steps to optimizing low cost, high impact tools that we have found to be great engines for driving new business.
1. Your Website Is Where It All Starts
The first and most important piece of helping customers find you is developing a website. For those who think this is a “nice to have” but not a “must have”, consider the following: if I were a customer who really wanted to buy your product, how would I find you? Would it be the Yellow Book? I’d first have to go out of my way to even find one. SuperMedia Inc., the company that makes Super Pages, saw a 61% decrease in revenues from 2009 to 2010. The reason isn’t that people are searching for businesses anymore, it’s that they are doing so elsewhere.FULL ENTRY
Summary: A Mobile Sales and Marketing plan is inevitable because your prospects are as addicted to their phones as you are.
Here is some inspiration and direction to take advantage of the unique opportunities of making Mobile an extension of your existing programs and a new way to attract more customers and provide ongoing, automated value. Also find a free and easy mobile project you can do today.FULL ENTRY
The role of the CFO is changing. Not too long ago, he or she was simply the best accountant in the company, the person who knew the numbers best. Today, the CFO (chief financial officer) is truly a difference maker and innovator who is responsible for many aspects of the business such as growing revenue and leading global expansion. To survive in the office today, a CFO must be more strategic and focused on operations than ever before.
Jack McCullough is the Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the MIT Sloan CFO Summit, an annual one-day event (on November 17th this year) that brings together financial executives from around the world to discuss the changing role of the CFO and “Where Finance Meets Innovation.” It will explore how businesses are looking to expand revenue and market share in today’s environment, and how the CFO's responsibility are at the forefront of this innovation.
Nine years ago Jack and his Co-Chair Jeremy Seidman hosted the first summit to address what they identified as a need for education specific to CFOs. Jack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org]. He shares his thoughts with Manya Chylinski about the CFO summit, the nature of innovation in finance, and what he sees in the future for CFOs.
What are the objectives for this year’s summit?
This year the theme of the conference is “where finance meets innovation.” It’s a reflection of how the role of the CFO is changing. This is not your father’s CFO anymore. The role has become a lot more strategic, a lot more operational, and we are trying to reflect that in the conference.FULL ENTRY
Do you speak the language of business, or engineering, or law? Would someone without a degree in those fields be able to understand you?FULL ENTRY
Not all business-to-business (B2B) technology marketers have to contend with an 800-pound gorilla in their market. In segments with a number of smaller, nimbler companies, there can be quite an interesting competitive dynamic as they each fight to get their message heard. To lead the way, companies have to work to keep up with the technology and innovate. In this kind of rapidly changing environment, one of the most important things a marketer can do is focus on the basics—segmenting the market and finding their position and message.
Mike Braatz is Senior Vice President and General Manager at Memento, Inc., a Burlington-based company that provides fraud prevention solutions to the financial industry. This is the fourth early-stage B2B technology company he has worked with in the Boston area in the past eleven years. Even with his experience in business development and product management, Mike is a marketer at heart. He shares his thoughts with Manya Chylinski about industry trends, what technology marketers struggle with, and his vision of the future of marketing.
What works for marketing in the technology space today?
Two things are working really well for us. One is that we have effectively become our own content publishers. Because of consolidation of media and analyst outlets across the B2B and technology landscape, there are fewer opportunities for us to get our message in front of customers. Rather than bemoan this change, we take it upon ourselves to hire subject matter experts to create interesting and compelling thought leadership.
In 2003, Biogen Idec were faced with a difficult decision for their Kendall Square campus in Cambridge – lying between Broadway, Galileo Galilei Way, Binney Street, and the pedestrian walkway in extension of Sixth Street. They needed a reliable supply of steam for their batch production, and their supplier, Cambridge Steam System, was using boilers in excess of 40 years old at the Kendall Plant, is visible from the Red Line crossing the Bridge, next to Broad Canal. What's more, they didn't have the capital to modernize - . Having lost a batch due to unreliable steam supply, and having negotiated unsatisfactorily for 18 months, Biogen Idec decided to look into other avenues, including running their own supply.
Since Building A Better Commonwealth most recently has been dealing with the pressing issue of talent retention in Massachusetts, I have found myself asking what more can those of us in academia do to encourage the young engines of the economy to stay here beyond their college years? While those of us in the know can tout the merits of Massachusetts's, and especially Greater Boston's, economic diversity and relative health compared to other parts of the nation, the message does not seem to resonate as we think it should.
My good friend and colleague at Northeastern University's World Class Cities Partnership, Mike Lake, did a great job of highlighting some of this problem in a previous piece for this blog, but I want to focus more squarely on academia's role.
As a communication professional I diagnose the lack of resonance as a failure to bring emotion into the argument; to rely solely on logic in making the case to stay in Massachusetts will not achieve the same success as more emotional tactics can. But how can the universities and colleges help in this case?FULL ENTRY
Massachusetts, with more than one hundred colleges and universities, has the privilege and responsibility of welcoming students from all over the country and the world to our community. As the intellectual hub of America, the Commonwealth excels in attracting incredible talent.
The question remains, though, of how can we integrate students into our community more effectively so that, upon graduation, they are equipped with the network and skills to secure high-quality jobs right here in Massachusetts.
In order for Massachusetts to remain a powerful talent-based economy, it is essential that we be more creative in how we engage our students during their college years. Students now entering college are part of the most socially conscious generation that America has seen in decades. They measure their success by the impact they have in their community now and will ultimately have throughout their careers. Tapping into this widespread social consciousness is the key to bettering our Commonwealth by providing these graduates with job opportunities that acknowledge and cultivate their drive for social impact.
Each of the speakers at the Building a Better Commonwealth: New Rules for Leading Talent forum on September 29th offered solutions as to how those tasked with managing young, capable workers could best leverage the skills they possess.FULL ENTRY
I play on a summer Ultimate Frisbee team. Mostly, it’s made up of Tufts Alumni who played Ultimate as undergrads. Each year, we get some young blood joining the team from the graduating class. This year, I noticed that we had no new recruits. When I asked our team captain why, he told me that the seniors this year had such a hard time finding jobs in Boston, that they either moved wherever they could find work or, mostly, they moved back home to live for free, due to a lack of employment.
Little known secret: There are lots of great jobs in Boston that need filling.
When you envision speaking in public, what do you see? Usually, we think about standing on a stage and addressing a large audience. This is certainly one example of public speaking. Yet the skills that help us speak well in front of 200+ people also help us in front of just one or two people.FULL ENTRY
An older man, near the end of his life, once shared with me that, if given the chance, the only thing he would have done differently would be to have “had more sex and more bacon.”
Hmmm. His wisdom struck a deep chord. And guess, what? My friends strongly agree.
Let us have a brief moment of silence for all the times we have passed up the “bacon” for various reasons (fat/calories/headache) and realized later that we would have been happier if we had chosen differently.FULL ENTRY
Welcome to Global Business Hub!
We're very happy to join Boston.com and provide you with the very best business news, powered by Boston World Partnerships Connectors.
Keep an eye on this space if you like to know what Boston companies are up to, how Boston connects with the world and how Boston's best and brightest are innovating in ways that will impact all of us for the next 100 years.
Meet Boston's coolest, smartest and most dynamic founders in our REEL Innovators video series!