Thursday, July 31, 2014

5 Secrets to Finding the Perfect Hire

The presumptions we have about what makes a great candidate are oftentimes not based on things that lead to results. Here’s how to stop doing that.

Since I started my company I’ve been through seven different assistants, ranging from in-person hires to completely virtual assistants. While few of them were complete failures, none of them helped me get much more done than make an appointment or schedule a doctor’s appointment.

I was frustrated. I was hiring people with great track-records as assistants, excellent resumes and glowing references about how “good” they were. They were certainly good; they just weren’t great. What I eventually realized was the nature of what makes an assistant perfect. In the case of an amazing assistant, you need an almost pre-cognitive anticipation of needs, attention to detail and the ability to deal with utter chaos on top of the basic skills.

My eventual hire was Royal Hebert–who on paper was not the ideal candidate. He runs in a group of pirate re-enactors. His experience was as a legal processor. (In other words, he hands you the documents when you’re being sued.) However (with a warm introduction), I found Royal clearly had the basic skill-set and life experience that would make him possibly the best assistant available. When your basic job is one that requires the precise delivery of legal documents and the guarantee that the person you meet will not be happy to see you, you (as Royal has) gain both a natural level of organizational skill and an instinct for calm in a storm. Stage-acting makes him empathetic and outgoing. The pirate re-enactment also led Royal down many an elder research path–making the average tech research project relatively low-impact. And, yes, a healthy history in using the Internet from its initial popularity made him the perfect choice. In a few short months my calendar, documentation and basic business processes had improved more than they had in years of different “perfect” candidates.

My experience led me to re-evaluate exactly how I’ve hired contractors. And here’s what I’ve found works.

1. Read around the resume. 

I am in no way saying a resume is unimportant, but there are many people (myself included) that haven’t even given a person a second look based on a “lack of experience.” I encourage anyone to read a resume deeply, and then look for things that might actually contribute to the job. It’s great to hire on a consistent career trajectory. But when it comes to the more complex, hard-to-define careers such as assistant work or even public relations, you’re looking for an emotional connection and someone who will care. It’s great to have an assistant who will make sure you’re on time for meetings. It’s better to have one that understands and cares why.

2. Consider life experience AND career experience. 

As I mentioned in my piece about darkness and hiring, life experience can greatly amplify one’s abilities. The raw abilities required for a job may involve the executive practices. (In other words, you have X responsibility and must do Y.) But the foundations of said execution are–in an ideal situation–a person who can handle them, or has experiences that will help. There’re clear-cut examples–like many presidents having been former lawyers–to more bizarre examples, like Aaron Levie’s short history in the movies prior to Box. If you read his descriptions (something like: “The guy who faxed your memos and copied your papers. A skill I still hold to this day”) this was not a glamorous job–but no doubt one that taught him about the ability to grind through mind-numbing tasks to get where you need to be.

3. Seek emotional intelligence and “real” people. 

When it comes to relying on people, you do not want a robot. When it comes to a bad day, you want someone who might understand. It’s great to have a stoic, presentable entity that will represent your business in a certain light, but that person will rarely go the extra mile, nor will they care enough to read around a subject and get done what needs to be done. And it takes a level of emotional intelligence lacking in many candidates to know what needs to be done to keep everything from falling apart at the worst possible moments. To scan for it, one of the easiest questions is to ask what the worst moment in their professional career was. If the answer’s a flat “well, I had a bad day once,” then they’re probably worth putting in the trash.

4. Value results over experience. 

In public relations, one of my favorite questions to ask is, “What media results have you got in the last three months?” This is because it’s a quantifiable, executable goal, and a really easy way to see if someone has actually done anything of value. Results in a less quantifiable career like being an assistant can be contributed to client happiness–why did you move on? What did you do for them? What were the best and worst moments? Most importantly, you want to make sure their results are theirs. For example, a salesperson’s ‘team sales’ aren’t important unless they can prove that their management and/or resources led to said sales. A common problem in PR is the assumption that “10 years in the field” equals “good.” Quite often it doesn’t. Royal had exactly zero years in assisting, but he had proof-points of his ability to keep a ship running. Literally in the case of his pirate re-enactment.

5. Seek the right candidate, not the perfect candidate. 

Royal lives in Portland–rather far from San Francisco. Nevertheless, I hired him because his raw skills, organization and sheer strength were the skills I needed for me to lean on him. I wanted someone in the city, but I knew that his physical presence, while “nice” was not necessary. I had a few people -with assistants they’d later fire for “just not being right”–advise me that I needed someone in town “so that I could keep an eye on them.”

The presumptions we have about what makes a great candidate are oftentimes not based on things that lead to results. They simply sound like what you’d want.

Thanks, but I’ll take my pirate processor over someone with a decade of PA experience.

via 5 Secrets to Finding the Perfect Hire |

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5 Secrets to Finding the Perfect Hire

How CIOs Can Boost Mobile App Adoption

CIOs with an eye on mobility have probably spent a small fortune creating a private enterprise app store. They’ve spent countless hours tending to an environment where business managers plant seeds for app ideas and developers bring those ideas to fruition. Often, the number of mobile enterprise apps sprouts like weeds.

Are these apps really benefiting the business?

To be truly useful, most apps have to be used regularly — many are not.

“The typical adoption is a spike, followed by a dive after two or three weeks, followed by a very long tail,” says Andrew Borg, founder and principal of eC3 Consulting. “There’s a whole host of reasons why adoption doesn’t meet expectations.”

In researching his “Enterprise App Adoption” e-guide, sponsored by Apperian, Borg found an alarming number of homespun mobile apps with poor adoption rates. According to SAP, more than 78 percent of apps are abandoned after first use. This is part of the reason why the majority of mobile strategies stall, according to a recent Accenture survey of nearly 1,500 C-level executives.

Given the large bets being placed on mobile, a slip in mobile app adoption can quickly turn into a landslide. A recent Apperian survey found that more than 70 percent of respondents plan to equip more than 1,000 users with mobile apps. A third of respondents are deploying mobile apps to more than 5,000 users in the next two years.

But a mobile app’s adoption curve should have the opposite effect of a slide. “The initial spike in adoption should be followed by increasing growth given the positive feedback,” Borg says.

How to Market to Mobile Users

A mobile enterprise app should be marketed to the employee user base before, during and after its launch. Far too often, though, an enterprise app lacks internal marketing, including social media efforts, to drive enthusiasm. As a result, the app withers on the adoption vine. Even though a company might be great at marketing to external customers doesn’t mean it can automatically turn those skills inward.

In his eguide, which Apperian has made available for free, Borg offers some 20 tips covering the lifecycle of adoption to help apps avoid this fate. The Apperian survey found that mobile adoption also relies heavily on help desk support, a BYOD policy, tactics such as gamification, among other factors.

For instance, Borg recommends early usability testing to gain valuable feedback about how an app will be received. A CIO might also want to recruit someone from marketing.

“Working on mobile apps is cool and fun, and many people in your organization may be willing to lend a hand simply to gain some mobility experience,” Borg writes in his e-guide. “A marketing person will bring a creative and communications or promotion-centric skill set to your project, and can help plan and execute the internal launch and rollout.”

Don’t forget to celebrate an app launch at a company event or, if it’s a sales app, a quarterly sales meeting, Borg says. Follow the launch with social media and internal forums for users to provide feedback and increase app awareness. In fact, feedback is so valuable that a CIO might want to offer a monetary or recognition reward for it.

Measuring Mobile Results

And, of course, a CIO should employ analytics and reporting to measure success.

There is no question that mobile app adoption pays for itself in spades. For his e-guide, Borg interviewed numerous executives, including Sarah Weller, managing director of Mubaloo in London. Weller says she initially rolled out an enterprise mobile app to 20 sales people — and people started talking.

“The buzz was created internally by giving it to such a small group,” Weller says. “It got rolled out in stints, because it was built up so much internally, that everyone was desperate to have it, and as soon as they got it, they were using it all the time.”

via How CIOs Can Boost Mobile App Adoption | CIO.

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How CIOs Can Boost Mobile App Adoption

Hard Tech Company Interview Questions

There’s a scene in the 2013 move “The Internship” where the two laid-off sales guys (played by Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson) are asked one of those legendary Google brain teaser interview questions.

The question was: You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?

Answer: Lots of variants but one is that you jump out. According to the square-cube law your strength-to-mass ratio should have changed, allowing you to be much stronger for your size and jump really high, like an insect.

That’s a real question that Google once asked people. Google has reportedly banned the brain teaser portion of its interview process now but that doesn’t mean that interviews with today’s biggest tech companies have gotten easy.

We’ve scoured job-hunting site and interview training site Impact Interview and found a number of difficult questions that other tech companies have actually asked.

Question from

Question from

REUTERS/Erik De Castro Customer Service Analyst interview question:

“How would you direct traffic in the result of a catastrophic earthquake?”

Possible answer: This clearly falls into the “brain teaser category” looking for problem-solving skills, as we can’t think of a case where a customer service analyst will be asked to become a traffic cop after an catastrophic earthquake.

Have fun with the answer, while explaining how you help people avoid torn up streets and drive to safety.

Question from Microsoft

Question from Microsoft

Kyle Russell/Business Insider

Microsoft management position interview question:

“What is a product you love but is marketed very badly? How would you market it differently?”

Possible answer: Probably NOT wise to choose: “Windows Phone” or “Microsoft Surface.” Just sayin.

Question from Amazon

Question from Amazon


Amazon Product Management interview question:

“Jeff Bezos walks into your office and says you can have a million dollars to launch your best entrepreneurial idea. What is it?”

Possible answer: Well Bezos likes newspapers (he bought the Washington Post and he’s an investor in Business Insider) and he likes clocks (he’s spending $42 million on one that’s supposed to last for 10,000 years), so if you were trying to impress Bezos, those two areas could be good.

Question from Texas Instruments

Question from Texas Instruments


Texas Instruments Senior Analog Design Engineer interview question:

“How do you deal with difficult people?”

Possible answer: The obvious rules apply: be polite, don’t take the bait, focus on the task not the person, use humor appropriately and pick your battles.

We’ll also give a shout-out to the suggested answer posted on Glassdoor in response: “Ignore them.”

Question from Verizon

Question from Verizon

flickr via Kim Piper Werker

Verizon Customer Support Analyst interview question:

“If a coworker steals a pen, would you report him, would you keep quiet?”

Possible answer: They might be looking for “Yes. I’d report him immediately.”

But it might be wise to say something like this, “Stealing is a pretty serious accusation and I wouldn’t make it lightly. If I was absolutely sure that a coworker was stealing, I would always report it.”

And it might be tempting (but inadvisable) to retort: “It’s pretty hard to tell one pen from another. Does the company want to me to keep watch for suspected pen thieves?

Question from NetApp

Question from NetApp


NetApp Account Manager interview question:

“What kind of tree are you?”

Suggested answer on An oak.

Question from Citrix

Question from Citrix

20th Century Fox

Citrix Senior Accountant interview question:

“Does your current employer know you are looking for work?”

Possible answer: My current employer knows that I work hard, that I’m ambitious, and am looking to advance my career.

Question from Juniper Networks

Question from Juniper Networks

REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Juniper Networks’ Executive Assistant interview question:

“What is your least favorite thing?”

Possible answer: Traffic jams. Nobody likes traffic jams.

Question from Apple

Question from Apple


Apple Intern Interview question:

“What’s the most creative way you can break a clock?”

Possible answer: Remove all the hands.

Question from Intel

Question from Intel

Flickr / Okay City

Intel Software Engineer interview question:

“What makes you frustrated at work”

Possible answer: I wouldn’t describe myself as a person who gets frustrated at work. I really love what I do.


Question from Red Hat

Question from Red Hat

Wikimedia Commons

Red Hat Senior Consultant interview question:

“How much does a 747 weigh?”

Possible answer: Would that be basic empty weight? Max takeoff weight? Max taxi weight? Or max landing weight? Maximum takeoff weight is almost 1 million pounds, Boeing says.


Question from Intuit

Question from Intuit


Intuit Group Manager Small Business Division interview question:

“If you had to do your taxes in 24 hours, how would you do them?”

Easy answer: TurboTax (the tax software that Intuit makes).


Question from Facebook

Question from Facebook

Screenshot/Lund University

The words most commonly cited in the study’s Facebook status updates

Facebook Safety Analyst, Community Operations interview question:

“Name three characteristics you would want in a team.”

Possible answer: Hard-working, cheerful, lovers of status updates.

Question from LinkedIn

Question from LinkedIn


LinkedIn Senior Data Scientist interview question:

“Which part of our product you dislike most? Then can you think of the reasons why we decided to make it that way? And how would you quantify its badness (goodness)? How would you fix it? And why it will fix it?”

Possible answer: Well, Buzzfeed once did one of those Worst Things About LinkedIn lists, maybe we should rethink some of those.

Question from Twitter

Question from Twitter


Twitter Operations and Tools Domain Specialist interview question:

“How do you define abusive use and violation of privacy? What do you do if you find one?”

Possible answer: Being harassed on Twitter (or anywhere) isn’t funI’d like to see us come up with stringent guidelines for users who grievously violate Twitter’s terms of service policies.

via Hard Tech Company Interview Questions – Business Insider.

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Hard Tech Company Interview Questions

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

3 Ways to Encourage Employees to Give You More Feedback

Want an honest appraisal of how things are really going from your team? Try these tricks to get the unvarnished truth.

When you’re the boss, bad news, unpleasant as it is, can be incredibly valuable… and incredibly hard to come by.

Without knowing what’s going wrong in your business, you can’t fix things, but employees are generally hesitant to be the bearers of bad news. And as Claire Lew, CEO of Know Your Company, pointed out on Signal v. Noise recently, they’re often even more reluctant when they suspect that you might not exactly welcome this sort of negative feedback with open ears.

“The biggest reason I didn’t give my boss feedback is I believed that even if I did speak up, nothing would change. I believed my boss wouldn’t do anything with my feedback. No action would be taken. And if nothing was going to change, what was the point of me saying anything?” she recalls of her days as a frontline employee. Apparently, she isn’t alone.

“Futility has been found to be 1.8 times more common than fear as a reason for employees not speaking up to their managers. According to a 2009 Cornell National Social Survey, more employees reported withholding their ideas due to a sense of futility (26%) than a fear of personal consequences (20%),” she reports.

So what’s the remedy for this fear that negative feedback will simply be ignored? Don’t wait around for your employees to magically become bolder, Lew advises. Instead, try these three simple techniques for encouraging the sort of open environment that will convince your team you’ll actually take their suggestions seriously.

1. Don’t shoot the messenger. Celebrate her.

Even if you don’t agree with or act on the next piece of negative feedback you receive from a member of staff, take a moment to publically thank that employee for bringing her concerns to you. Lew offers Amanda Lannert, the CEO of Jellyvision, as a positive example of this principle: “during an all-hands meeting, she publicly thanked an employee who spoke up and gave feedback.”

2. Explain WHY nothing was done.

Among the most discouraging things that can happen for employees is to screw up the courage to present negative news to the boss and then see absolutely no action taken. So if you get a piece of feedback that isn’t practical to act on for whatever reason, be sure to take the time to explain to your employees why you were unable or unwilling to make changes.

“Expose your decision-making process,” advises Lew. “If you don’t, employees will wonder, ‘What ever happened to that idea I suggested?’ They’ll assume that you’re not open to receiving new ideas, and they’ll hesitate to bring up feedback the next time around.”

3. Start small.

If you haven’t been encouraging your employees to give you negative feedback previously, it’s probably too much to expect them to approach you with really substantive complaints straight off the bat. So begin by acting on small suggestions to prove your openness to hearing the bad along with the good.

Lew gives another example from a fellow CEO, in this case Dave Bellous, the co-CEO of Yellow Pencil. He learned that “his company needed a new phone service. So he promptly changed their phone service, and saw an immediate shift in his team’s morale. This one unassuming change yielded huge results. All because he acted on something small quickly,” Lew writes.

via 3 Ways to Encourage Employees to Give You More Feedback |

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3 Ways to Encourage Employees to Give You More Feedback

Pinterest, dominated by White and Asian workers, looks to diversify

Like many other big tech companies, Pinterest says it knows it has a problem with diversity, or lack thereof.

Despite having users who are overwhelmingly female, Pinterest’s employees are 60% male, and 92% of the company’s 400 employees are white or Asian.

In a blog post published Thursday, the photo-sharing social media giant revealed that only 21% of the San Francisco-based company’s tech positions are filled by women, and more than 80% of its executives are male.

These imbalances are common in the tech world, Pinterest software engineer Tracy Chou said in an interview with The Times. Chou has been advocating for diversity in the tech industry at Pinterest and in Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley-based tech companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo have all published uninspiring diversity data over the last few weeks, and information collected by Chou breaking down gender in computer engineering reveals an industry-wide problem.

But Chou, with stints at Facebook and Quora before joining Pinterest, says the company is trying to change that. It is supporting programs promoting tech-friendly fields to under-served populations.

“The [tech] environment is not particularly friendly to minorities,” Chou said. “The industry is not doing a very good job at retaining diversity.”

Tech’s diversity problem can be traced to two intersecting issues, says Chou – a “pipeline problem” of not enough diversity in computer science and engineering college students, and a tendency for tech founders and employees to hire only people who look like themselves.

Chou said tech hiring practices usually aren’t maliciously keeping minorities out, but a lack of diversity awareness, especially early on, leads to festering and hard-to-solve problems down the road.

“Say you build up a team that’s 50 men to one woman,” Chou said. “It’s hard to course correct at that point.”

Especially for Pinterest, which serves a largely female user base, the lack of diversity can be glaring. Chou said the company is working on change, including a 32% female engineering intern class and by partnering with organizations like Girls Who Code to start expanding the talent pipeline.

Compared with similar companies, Pinterest does slightly better in terms of diversity of its tech team and overall gender makeup. Twitter, which released company-wide diversity data on Wednesday, is 70% male with women making up only 10% of tech workers.

Despite the underwhelming diversity numbers, Chou said working at Pinterest has been an enjoyable experience due to the company’s inclusive culture.

“This was the first place where I felt that I’m an engineer, not a female engineer,” she said.

via Pinterest, dominated by white and Asian workers, looks to diversify – LA Times.

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Pinterest, dominated by White and Asian workers, looks to diversify

How to Be More Charismatic: 10 Tips

Charisma isn’t something you have. It’s something you earn. Here’s how.

Some people instantly make us feel important. Some people instantly make us feel special. Some people light up a room just by walking in.

We can’t always define it, but some people have it: They’re naturally charismatic.

Unfortunately, natural charisma quickly loses its impact. Familiarity breeds, well, familiarity.

But some people are remarkably charismatic: They build and maintain great relationships, consistently influence (in a good way) the people around them, consistently make people feel better about themselves–they’re the kind of people everyone wants to be around…and wants to be.

Fortunately we can, because being remarkably charismatic isn’t about our level of success or our presentation skills or how we dress or the image we project–it’s about what we do.

Here are the 10 habits of remarkably charismatic people:

1. They listen way more than they talk.

Ask questions. Maintain eye contact. Smile. Frown. Nod. Respond–not so much verbally, but nonverbally.

That’s all it takes to show the other person they’re important.

Then when you do speak, don’t offer advice unless you’re asked. Listening shows you care a lot more than offering advice, because when you offer advice in most cases you make the conversation about you, not them.

Don’t believe me? Who is “Here’s what I would do…” about: you or the other person?

Only speak when you have something important to say–and always define important as what matters to the other person, not to you.

2. They don’t practice selective hearing.

Some people–I guarantee you know people like this–are incapable of hearing anything said by the people they feel are somehow beneath them.

Sure, you speak to them, but that particular falling tree doesn’t make a sound in the forest, because there’s no one actually listening.

Remarkably charismatic people listen closely to everyone, and they make all of us, regardless of our position or social status or “level,” feel like we have something in common with them.

Because we do: We’re all people.

3. They put their stuff away.

Don’t check your phone. Don’t glance at your monitor. Don’t focus on anything else, even for a moment.

You can never connect with others if you’re busy connecting with your stuff, too.

Give the gift of your full attention. That’s a gift few people give. That gift alone will make others want to be around you and remember you.

4. They give before they receive–and often they never receive.

Never think about what you can get. Focus on what you can provide. Giving is the only way to establish a real connection and relationship.

Focus, even in part and even for a moment, on what you can get out of the other person, and you show that the only person who really matters is you.

5. They don’t act self-important…

The only people who are impressed by your stuffy, pretentious, self-important self are other stuffy, pretentious, self-important people.

The rest of us aren’t impressed. We’re irritated, put off, and uncomfortable.

And we hate when you walk in the room.

6. …Because they realize other people are more important.

You already know what you know. You know your opinions. You know your perspectives and points of view.

That stuff isn’t important, because it’s already yours. You can’t learn anything from yourself.

But you don’t know what other people know, and everyone, no matter who they are, knows things you don’t know.

That makes them a lot more important than you–because they’re people you can learn from.

7. They shine the spotlight on others.

No one receives enough praise. No one. Tell people what they did well.

Wait, you say you don’t know what they did well?

Shame on you–it’s your job to know. It’s your job to find out ahead of time.

Not only will people appreciate your praise, they’ll appreciate the fact you care enough to pay attention to what they’re doing.

Then they’ll feel a little more accomplished and a lot more important.

8. They choose their words.

The words you use impact the attitude of others.

For example, you don’t have to go to a meeting; you get to go meet with other people. You don’t have to create a presentation for a new client; you get to share cool stuff with other people. You don’t have to go to the gym; you get to work out and improve your health and fitness.

You don’t have to interview job candidates; you get to select a great person to join your team.

We all want to associate with happy, enthusiastic, fulfilled people. The words you choose can help other people feel better about themselves–and make you feel better about yourself, too.

9. They don’t discuss the failings of others…

Granted, we all like hearing a little gossip. We all like hearing a little dirt.

The problem is, we don’t necessarily like–and we definitely don’t respect–the people who dish that dirt.

Don’t laugh at other people. When you do, the people around you wonder if you sometimes laugh at them.

10. …But they readily admit their failings.

Incredibly successful people are often assumed to have charisma simply because they’re successful. Their success seems to create a halo effect, almost like a glow.

Keyword is seem.

You don’t have to be incredibly successful to be remarkably charismatic. Scratch the shiny surface, and many successful people have all the charisma of a rock.

But you do have to be incredibly genuine to be remarkably charismatic.

Be humble. Share your screwups. Admit your mistakes. Be the cautionary tale. And laugh at yourself.

While you should never laugh at other people, you should always laugh at yourself.

People won’t laugh at you. People will laugh laugh with you.

They’ll like you better for it–and they’ll want to be around you a lot more.

via How to Be More Charismatic: 10 Tips |

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How to Be More Charismatic: 10 Tips

13 Habits of Extraordinary Bosses

Extraordinary bosses use these habits to bring out the extraordinary in those around them.

The most popular post I’ve ever written is The Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses. However, while that post clearly struck a chord, it lacked something important: a code of behavior that puts those beliefs into action.

Probably my favorite business book is Sylvia Lafair’s Don’t Bring It To Work: Breaking the Family Patterns that Limit Success. In that book, Sylvia describes how people can transcend the limitations of their family background to become better workers.

In the process of describing that transformation, Lafair describes a set of habits that define how ideal leaders behave when they’ve got their beliefs aligned the right way. Here they are:

1. They collaborate rather than grandstand.

Extraordinary bosses realize that success doesn’t have to entail only individual accomplishment. They redefine that emotionally-packed word “success” so that wealth, position, and fame are no longer what really matters. They realize that group success is entirely consistent with individual accomplishment.

2. They build communities rather than platoons.

Extraordinary bosses focus on the basic wants and needs of the community and the desire to move from what exists now to what is possible. This creates a groundswell of activity as more and more people feel included and want to help. This allows them to tackle problems at the core, in order to make change happen.

3. They create new realities.

Extraordinary bosses create a sense that all things are possible. Everyone who’s ever faced a daunting challenge knows how important it is to be around somebody who can communicate what seems impossible and see the essence of hope in a haystack of adversity, allowing a business to break through into new markets.

4. They laugh at problems (and themselves).

Extraordinary bosses use humor put worries into perspective, so that we can laugh at ourselves and the situation before tackling hard work. The ability to tell the right joke at the right time reduces office stress and builds camaraderie, which is a real advantage in today’s intense, fast-paced work environments.

5. They help others visualize a better future.

Extraordinary bosses don’t just have a vision of the future. They also have a rare ability to understand and channel the desires and needs of other people. They listen as much as they talk and thus create a shared vision that motivates everybody, not just the boss. They point to a place that we know is better and give us the courage to get there.

6. They avidly explore new ideas.

Extraordinary bosses are always willing to be part of the first test to make sure that a project will succeed. They guide people into new territory, without hogging the limelight. They have a great sense of timing and know when to wait until the kinks have been worked out… without waiting too long.

7. They mentor and coach.

Extraordinary bosses know how to listen and give good advice at just the right time. Because they haven’t sailed through life, they know what it’s like to overcome intense obstacles and challenges. Most importantly, they’re willing to let go when you’re competent to make your own decisions without them.

8. They use stories to inspire.

Extraordinary bosses know that a good story can move people to places where no PowerPoint can take them. They know that stories help people understand how problems can be, and should be, solved. They use stories to close the distance that voicemail, e-mails and texting create between us.

9. They integrate pieces into wholeness.

Extraordinary bosses have the ability to see all sides of a situation and allow conflicting parties to not only be heard but acknowledged. They can gather a group and find ways that individuals can work together. They have an uncanny way of “slicing the pie” so that while every piece may not be identical, everyone feels treated with fairness and respect.

10. They tell the truth, even when inconvenient.

Extraordinary bosses do not change their minds just to pacify someone, although they are not averse to adjusting their opinions if that will enable a conflict to push towards resolution. They do not “beat around the bush,” so you always know where you stand.  They treat you as an adult who can handle the truth rather than a child who must be protected from it.

11. They act before they have ALL the answers.

Extraordinary bosses can tolerate and moderate the conflicts that inevitably show up before the creative process comes into full bloom. They enjoy being involved in the thick of arguments, thus allowing problems and dissent to be resolved more quickly so that the creative process can move forward.

12. They create a climate of trust.

Extraordinary bosses know that trust is the glue that holds an organization together. Their commitment to build trust creates a counter force to the deception and political game-playing that makes so many offices difficult places to work. They know that trusting, and being trusted, is the best way to ensure that everyone in the organizations wins.

13. They make peace between factions.

Extraordinary bosses cannot be swayed to side with one group or individual against another but instead work to preserve the integrity of the whole system. Peacemakers teach us that peace is a state of mind and that it’s still possible to be happy even in the midst of turmoil and chaos.

via 13 Habits of Extraordinary Bosses |

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13 Habits of Extraordinary Bosses

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New CEO? You Are Probably Doing It All Wrong

There is one trait every CEO must have or build to be successful. And that runs counter to every bone in your body.

The first personality that most CEOs develop is the collaborative, “make everyone happy” style of managing. Win-win is the core tenet of this approach. Your thoughts are that a happy team is a productive team, and you look for opportunities to reinforce these moments.

This style has its merit and is an easy on-ramp as you build out your CEO muscles. But these are mere training wheels to what you will need for real success. A great CEO has many tools in her toolbox, and you will have to develop new tools along the way.

One of the negative byproducts of the “collaborative” approach is that the flow is all one-way. If you break down this approach to its foundational core–it is you listening and reacting. Each decision is based on pulling the team closer to your vision and each one of these decisions creates opportunities for you to reduce the friction needed to get there.

For example, for months you have been recruiting this rock star who will forever change the velocity of the company, and now you make him an offer to join your team, and await his response. He comes back with a counteroffer strongly demanding a drastic change to your options plan. Your first instinct is to begin negotiating to find some middle ground.

Another example is developing a key alliance. This data behemoth is a real company with hundreds of millions in revenue, and you are negotiating a critical license deal with it. You already have its competitors in the fold, but they are making some outlandish demands. As a small four-person company, you feel you need to find some middle ground and negotiate your way to the end. The trick is that if your competitors find out you gave better terms, you are screwed.

What do you do?

I don’t care whether you think CEOs are born or made. I do know that at some point in your CEO journey you are going to have to find your backbone. Growing a CEO backbone changes the flow from reactive to proactive.

This was excellently covered in Ben Horowitz’s last blog post, which really gets to the backbone point:

The key to breaking the cycle is to stop feeling pressure and to start applying it.

Turn the recruiting dilemma around and apply pressure back to him. “We appreciate your interest in joining our team but there are no exceptions to our options plan and all of us are operating in this manner in regard to this plan. If you feel the need to have better terms than other team members, I don’t think this is the place for you.”

“Mr. License partner, we are rolling out our service next month with or without you. We really would enjoy having your data as part of our service, but not at the expense of a healthy business partnership. If you would like to enjoy the same terms as everyone else–fantastic! If not, we are happy to provide our millions of customers access to all of your competitors’ listings.”

There is something that comes with age besides sore joints and gray hair: a body of experience. My partner and I at The Startup Factory invest and mentor seed stage founders in their recently launched startup companies. Finding your CEO backbone is one of the critical steps to both personal and company success.

via New CEO? You Are Probably Doing It All Wrong |

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New CEO? You Are Probably Doing It All Wrong

Impress In Less Than 2 Minutes

Famously, the elevator pitch is that big chance you get to sell your company, product, service or even yourself in just one or two minutes.

This kind of opportunity won’t always arise – the biggest organisations in particular tend to use strict selection processes and procedures to choose their clients.

But that does not mean that the principle of the elevator pitch should be completely ignored or discarded. Thinking about how to deliver your message in an effective way that goes straight to the heart of the matter can be a very useful and rewarding exercise. Whether you’re going for a job interview or a client pitch, this can be of great value to you.

Here are a few principles to keep in mind.


In my experience too many pitches – whether they are ‘elevator’ style or presentations – get bogged down in overly complicated language or rely far too heavily on eye-catching graphics. There have been times when entrepreneurs pitched to me for investment and I had to stop them after a while because what they were saying wasn’t making any real sense. Some investors may let them continue in this manner and then turn them down, but I always believe in giving entrepreneurs a chance to show what they can do. Therefore I tell them to cut out the unnecessary jargon and tell me things in a business-like yet simple way. You want to sound professional but there are ways to do this without boring people.

Do your research

Keeping it simple should not be an excuse for not doing your research. Even if your elevator pitch is supposed to be short and snappy, you don’t want to get caught out afterwards with a question you don’t know the answer to. Be prepared and know who you are pitching to. As well as ensuring you are ready for any questions you may be asked afterwards, this means you can tailor your pitch to suit the audience.

Sell with subtlety

Remember that whilst an elevator pitch is a tool to sell the best aspects of you or your business, it doesn’t need to be aggressive or over the top. All you want to do is generate enough interest to pique their interest. Explain the essence of what you are pitching and then clearly demonstrate the differentiator. There should always be a unique selling point, or if you are going for a job interview, a clear value-add. This is basically your hook which will make or break the success of your elevator pitch.

Some people don’t really think about the concept of an elevator pitch until the opportunity comes along. But if you can set aside half an hour at some point and just think about what you would include in your elevator pitch, it can have huge benefits. If nothing else, it will allow you to take a step away and think about what sets you apart from the competition and what sort of image you want to project.

via Impress In Less Than 2 Minutes | LinkedIn.

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Impress In Less Than 2 Minutes

Master the art of the perfect handshake

A person’s handshake says worlds about them, and the handshake is a major factor in the way each participant thinks about the other.

Before delving into some great handshake “how to” advice, let’s consider mistakes to avoid.

Inept handshakes

Limp: A limp handshake gives the impression of being weak. I think that it goes without saying that the limp shake is a dud. What’s the point of shaking hands in the first place if it’s just going to be a limp experience anyhow?

Too Much Shake: A handshake with too much shake can come across as annoying, inappropriate, and socially inept.

The Finger Grabber: Have you ever shaken hands with a person and instead of properly interlocking their hands with yours they only clasped your fingers? I hate that one; it’s weird.

Dominator handshakes

Then there types of people that take advantage of the handshake as an opportunity to establish their domination.

The Arm Wrestler: The way that “arm wrestler” hand shakers operate is by trying to get their hand on top of the other persons, either by extending their hand with their palm facing downward initially so that the other person will be “pinned”‘ from the get-go, or by finagling their hand on top after the initial contact. The “arm wrestler” handshake seems immature and doesn’t inspire friendship; it simply says that the perpetrator is trying to play mind games with you. I tend to avoid these people the most.

Overbearing: Although someone who squeezes just a little too hard might just be trying too hard to do it right, they give off the impression of being overbearing and aggressive.

The right way to do it

Now that we have established a few of the wrong ways to shake a hand, let’s look deeper into best handshake practices.

Eye contact: This displays confidence and establishes a personal connection.

Firm clasp: This also displays confidence and establishes a personal connection.

Speak during the handshake: Saying something as simple as, “I’ve been looking forward to meeting you, John Doe,” goes a long way. It brings the physical handshake to a new level, adding verbal and emotional elements to the process.

Use your left hand too (optional): Using your left hand to touch the shoulder or double clasp the handshake makes the experience a more intimate one. Do this only if the intimacy will be appreciated.

Time it right: A good shake lasts about 1.5 to 2 seconds. Letting go too early can make it appear that you are not interested in the other person or are disgusted by them, which can be insulting. Continuing the handshake too long can appear intrusive. Getting the timing just right also depends on reading the social cues of the other person to decipher how long they hope to be hand-engaged with you.

Considering how much a handshake communicates about you—and how influential it can be in business, social, and personal relationships—it behooves you to practice getting your handshake just right.

via Master the art of the perfect handshake | Articles | Main.

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Master the art of the perfect handshake

3 Simple Ways to Make a Good First Business Impression

At the end of a long day I remembered I was scheduled for a critical client meeting the next morning. I looked down at my scraggly, chipped nails. Oh no. This will not do.

Three to five seconds. That’s all it takes to make or break a first impression. You may remember how to make a positive impact on a personal level, but what about at your place of business?

There wasn’t time to get a manicure from my favorite nail salon across town, so I pulled into another salon near my house. I ran in and flopped into a vacant chair. And then I looked around. The salon was disgusting. Plastic palm trees and faded flower arrangements were covered in dust. Stacks of old magazines spilled onto the floors. Electrical wires dangled, mail was piled high, linoleum floors were grimey. I got a decent shellac French manicure, but for sure, I was not coming back. I thought: This is a business designed purely for the purpose of helping people look their best. They sterilize their tools of the trade (I hope), so why wouldn’t they invest in keeping the salon looking spiffy? Where was the design and planning?

The look and feel of your business speaks volumes. Real estate professionals invest in “curb appeal” because it brings in buyers. You’ve no doubt seen neglected establishments. Run-down restaurants. Dumpy dentist offices. Lifeless lobbies. There are countless television shows now dedicated to the renovation of these establishments. Here are three things every business should check before the first customer walks in the door:

1. Keep customer touchpoints spotless.

A clean office or store says, “We care about quality.” Eliminate any sign of neglect or laziness. Wash windows. Sweep floors. Vacuum carpet. Keep the restroom tidy and fresh, for goodness sake! Even if your office doesn’t attract retail foot traffic, you’re sending a message to employees and vendors. Don’t let dust bunnies stand between you and more revenue.

2. Add color to customer surroundings.

Adding a pop of color to your business location can create a positive and welcoming look and feel. Home sellers plant flowers. Creative agencies flaunt bold furniture. Tech startups paint bright walls. Hospitals use soothing pastels. Use colors and design to make a statement about your brand and attract the right customers without saying a word.

3. Minimize furniture and other accessories–declutter.

It doesn’t matter what type of business you own. The owner of our favorite Szechuan restaurant kept it clean but used a table in the dining room as her “office.” It got worse and worse, and I wasn’t surprised when her clientele dwindled and she eventually closed. Apparel stores with merchandise all over the floor. Offices with paperwork piled high. Cardboard boxes, outdated magazines, knick-knacks, office supplies, and other stuff that sits in plain view of customers. It’s not only distracting, it’s disrespectful to patrons.

Three to five seconds to make an impression that can last a lifetime. There are far too many options for customers and their loyalty is fleeting. Keep customers focused on what you’re selling, and not what you’re stockpiling.

via 3 Simple Ways to Make a Good First Impression |

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3 Simple Ways to Make a Good First Business Impression

Monday, July 28, 2014

Reinventing the Chief Marketing Officer: An Interview with Unilever CMO Keith Weed

A marketing revolution is under way and nowhere is that more visible than in the CMO’s transforming role. Unilever CMO Keith Weed embodies this new order as an architect and leader of the firm’s plan to double revenue while halving its environmental impact. In this edited interview, Weed describes a new breed of marketing organization, and the CMO’s increasingly strategic role.

You have a very unusual job description for a CMO – you oversee marketing and communications and sustainable business. What’s the rationale for that?

The construct came from our CEO Paul Polman. When Paul arrived at Unilever in 2009, I was running the global laundry and home care business and also the water business around the world. And one of the big drives there for me was to find more sustainable solutions, particularly to clothes washing. It’s the greatest use of domestic water and we have a big business in emerging markets where people have to work hard to fetch water or pay a lot for it. So, I was already quite focused on sustainability issues.

When Paul arrived at Unilever he immediately started creating a new vision and business model with both growth and sustainability at its core. The rationale for combining marketing and sustainability is, to grow our business we need to do great marketing. Sustainable growth is consumer-demand led growth, and that’s the day job of marketers. But in a resource-constrained world, that definition of sustainable growth is too narrow. Yes, growth needs to be sustainable economically, but it must be sustainable environmentally and socially as well. Paul said let’s put these roles together, and your job is to figure out how to deliver on the vision and model.

How did you do this?

I set off to do two things initially: First, develop a plan that would define the strategy for doubling our business while increasing our positive social impact and reducing our environmental footprint. This ultimately became known as the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. Second, I developed a new marketing strategy called Crafting Brands for Life. This included, for example, refreshing our brand positioning statement – not something a consumer goods business does lightly. This requires each brand to define its social purpose and articulate what the brand does to support the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.

Seems like there would be a lot of tension in the combined roles.

Well, the real tension you have in companies is when marketing is in one silo, identifying what consumers need and driving demand, while sustainability is in another trying to reduce environmental impact, while Corporate Social Responsibility is in another working on the company’s social contribution while communications is telling its own, possibly different, story. In a connected world, this kind of internal disconnection is a hindrance not a help. One of the first things I did was to move away from the old-style CSR mentality by effectively closing down the CSR department. Instead, we wanted CSR to be an integral part of our business, embedded in everything we do, and so activities formerly isolated within CSR became strategic initiatives directed toward nutrition, water, hygiene, health and self-esteem. Also, before the consolidation, was led by the communications team while the Unilever brand was led by the CMO. You can’t have two different groups of people pulling a brand in two different directions. I now oversee global marketing, internal and external communications, external affairs, and the Unilever Foundation, but I also have the Chief Sustainability Office and sustainable business development reporting into me as well. This means I can drive clarity and alignment of message for Unilever, for what we’re doing in sustainability both internally and externally. Internally my message is very much one of join up and join in, so we can all work together as one team to deliver the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan and our purpose: to make sustainable living commonplace.

Marketers’ central job is to increase demand. Isn’t this at odds with the goal of reducing environmental impact?

Don’t get me wrong! We very much want consumers to buy and use our products. We just want to make sure our products are a better, more sustainable alternative to what they would use otherwise. That means innovating products to reduce their impact and changing consumer behavior about how to use products. Some people argue that in the future everyone will just consume less. I see no evidence for that in consumer behavior. The two billion people estimated to arrive on the planet by 2050 won’t say “we arrived late on the planet so we’ll accept a different lifestyle.” They’ll want your lifestyle, my lifestyle.

I don’t want anyone to think that focusing on sustainability means that we’re not building great brands, and there isn’t a huge emphasis on excellent marketing and growing our business. Quite the opposite. We’re growing ahead of our markets. We’re growing ahead of our competitors. This is very much a growth strategy.

What is marketing’s role in driving the firm’s social and environmental sustainability impact?

In a consumer goods business, marketing has a leading role in identifying future business direction. One of the pillars of our overall marketing strategy, Crafting Brands for Life, is ’putting people first’. That means thinking about people as people, as individuals, not as consumers — not as a head of hair looking for hair benefits, or a pair of armpits in search of deodorant, but instead understanding people’s lives and deeper needs.

This company was started on this thought. Back in the late 1800s, one of our founders William Lever was looking at the slums in London which were every bit as bad as the slums in Mumbai or the favelas of Sao Paulo today. He had a mission statement back then – making cleanliness commonplace. He believed that the humble bar of soap could have a major social impact by being a force for good and, by the way, build a massive business at the same time. He launched Lifebuoy, the world’s first disinfectant soap. And Lifebuoy the brand is in developing economies in Asia and Africa today teaching people how to hand wash – reducing infectious disease and simultaneously building the business. We’ve taught more than 300 million people how to wash their hands properly.

On the environmental sustainability side, an example is our Comfort fabric softener. In much of the developing world, people have to walk long distances and pay a lot of money for water, so there’s a premium on conserving water. We developed Comfort One Rinse which requires much less water to rinse, with the goal of reducing a typical wash from four buckets of water to two. Interestingly, when we tried marketing it by emphasizing the sustainability angle, people weren’t so interested. But when we emphasized that it reduced the work of fetching water and rinsing, and saved money, interest increased.

So the role of marketing as I see it is identifying those deeper human needs and providing solutions. Done right, that can address social, environmental, and business-growth goals all at once.

What advice do you have for other firms about combining marketing and sustainability?

Ultimately the decision to go this way needs to be based on what you’re trying to do as a company. You have to have a point of view. What’s your strategy? For us, this started with asking the question: what are the forces that are going to impact the world, and impact Unilever as well. We identified four: the digital revolution, sustainability in a resource-constrained world, the global shift to the east and south in growth and economic opportunity for companies like Unilever, and changing lifestyles, for example the population shift from rural areas into cities. So, those four big things led us to articulate what we had to do. I would argue that these forces will be important for most companies. In a joined-up, social, digital world, I don’t think you can separate communications from marketing. If you do, you’re talking out of two sides of your mouth as a company. You need to communicate a single, consistent view. And in a resource-constrained world, I don’t think you can have separate marketing and sustainability strategies, one about creating demand and an unrelated one about reducing the negative impacts of demand. A CSR project is not going to balance out some of the negative impact of your business.

So, if you really want to grow the company, and do so sustainably, you need to put marketing and sustainability under one leader, and enable that person to identify the levers that can help solve the management challenge. We don’t have all the answers. We’re learning as we go along. But for our company, and I think it’s safe to say for most if not all companies, sustainability isn’t a choice. People often say to me – what is the business case for sustainability? And I always answer, “I’d love to see the business case for the alternative.”

via Reinventing the Chief Marketing Officer: An Interview with Unilever CMO Keith Weed – Gardiner Morse – Harvard Business Review.

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Reinventing the Chief Marketing Officer: An Interview with Unilever CMO Keith Weed

CIOs Cite Applications and Mobile As Top Areas for IT Budget Increases

Nearly 90 percent of IT executives expect tech spending to either increase or hold steady. And only 12 percent report budget decreases — the lowest number reported since the inception of the CIO Tech Poll: IT Economic Outlook in 2008.

About half (47 percent) of CIOs surveyed in the most recent CIO Tech Poll: IT Economic Outlook say they expect their IT budgets to grow. Overall, they expect spending to increase by about 5 percent, which is comparable to last year’s results.

A year ago, 52 percent of CIOs interviewed reported increased spending. While that number is slightly down this year, survey results also indicate a higher percentage of CIOs holding budgets flat compared to last year. 41 percent report budgets consistent with the previous year, which is up from 31 percent in the June 2013 survey. In what’s good news for the tech sector, only 12 percent of the IT executives surveyed anticipate a budget decrease — the lowest level reported since the poll’s inception in March 2008.

Growth Areas

CIOs list applications as the area for highest growth with 54 percent planning IT budget increases in that category, up from 48 percent last year. Mobile, which was the highest area growth cited last year, drops to second place (see chart below):

budget plans cio

A Discretionary Tale: Enterprise Spending vs. SMB Spending

Nearly half of the CIOs surveyed (47 percent) are planning to increase the percentage of their total IT budget allocated to new or discretionary IT projects, relatively flat with the 48 percent reported in June 2013. CIOs are fairly evenly divided when it comes to the primary focus for funds earmarked for new projects:

  • 36 percent plan to target external customer interaction, relationship and experience

  • 34 percent will focus on internal service support and processes

  • 28 percent on product development, improvements and innovation.

However, there is a disconnect when it comes to the size of the operation and discretionary projects. Enterprise CIOs are more likely to devote a higher percentage of their budget to new or discretionary projects than their SMB counterparts (54 percent, versus 43 percent).

Living on the Edge

In numbers that suggest the impact of cloud services, IT executives surveyed are shifting budget allocation from technologies that are at the core of the business (e.g., infrastructure, network, storage, compute and ERP) to edge technologies such as mobile, CRM, mcommerce, cloud, social and marketing automation that enable a new generation of productivity, collaboration and accessibility (see chart below).

edge vs core cio

Additionally, 41 percent of the IT executives surveyed say the percentage of their company’s spending with newer technology vendors such as Box, Dropbox, MobileIron and Outsystems will increase over the next year. IT executives in larger enterprise are significantly more likely than their SMB colleagues to plan to spend more with newer technology companies (54 percent, compared to 33 percent).

How IT and Line of Business Get Along

Nearly all of the CIOs surveyed say IT is involved when technology is purchased by another department. Here’s how survey respondents describe that interaction:

  • 45 percent say line of business identified the opportunity and came to IT for recommendations on technology solutions and provider selections.

  • 24 percent point to IT as the driver in identifying the opportunity and bringing their recommendations for solutions and vendors to LOB.

  • In 15 percent of cases LOB identified the opportunity or need, and came up with recommendations to be vetted by IT.

  • Only 5 percent of IT executives surveyed say IT wasn’t involved until a problem or issue came up.

  • 2 percent weren’t looped in even in the event of problems

via CIOs Cite Applications and Mobile As Top Areas for IT Budget Increases | CIO.

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CIOs Cite Applications and Mobile As Top Areas for IT Budget Increases

Four ways to overcome obstacles and rethink the CIO role

IT leaders each face their own set of obstacles when they try to drive any sort of meaningful innovation at their organizations. But there are four common obstacles that IT leaders tend to encounter when they try to assume more strategic roles, according to a new report.

The research from CIO Strategic Marketing Services /IDG Research Services – pulled from a survey of 100 respondents at the IT director level (and above) at organizations with 1,000 or more employee – shines light on the progress CIOs and other IT executives have made as they step into a more strategic role, as well as the challenges they continue to face.

To learn more about the common obstacles and how rethinking the CIO role might help, download the full report: “CIOs at a Technology and Cultural Crossroads.”

4 ways to rethink the CIO role

via Four ways to overcome obstacles and rethink the CIO role | The Enterprisers Project.

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Four ways to overcome obstacles and rethink the CIO role

Friday, July 25, 2014

9 Women Respond Brilliantly To A Sexist Question

The more we look into what it means to be a woman in the corporate world, the more stories come to light–and it’s been a frustrating time in the world of women in leadership.

It’s hard to look away from stories like Dov Charney’s unbelievably sexist behavior, the words of Tinder cofounders that are a slap in the faces of entrepreneurial young women, not to mention the slew of depressing reports about nearly every aspect of the gender gap at work.

So, with the help of Elizabeth Plank, a senior editor at Mic, we’re changing the tone to check in with women who are doing us all proud. In the spirit of Lauren Conrad’s epic response to the question, “What’s your favorite position?” (spoiler alert: it’s CEO), Plank compiled a list of 23 women responding to that same question, and their answers. Here are a few of our favorites.

They’re breaking big news

Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani, host and producer at HuffPost Live, helped create the weekly panel, #WMN. “Someone once asked me if it’s worth focusing on women as they’re ‘not a minority.’ I told them: ‘Have you taken a look at the news recently? Heck yes, we are!’”

“The best part of my job right now is that me and my colleagues are given the freedom to experiment, which is a necessary but all too rare part of creating something new and meaningful,” says Anna Holmes, Voices Editor at Fusion.

And then there’s writer Soraya Chemaly, whose work is published in the Guardian, Salon, CNN, and the Nation, to name a few: “What I love most about my work is the ability it gives me to engage people in challenging the everyday assumptions that impede equality.”

Political analyst and freelance writer Zerlina Maxwell does what comes naturally, for a living. “Politics is personal for me, and there is no way I would sit by silently and watch politics happen without raising my voice and changing the conversation about issues that I care about,” she says.

They’re making big things

“The best part of my job is being able to work with engineers and tradespeople to see a project come from a design on paper to a usable structure,” says Patricia Valoy, a civil engineer at STV Inc.

Christina Wallace, program director of BridgeUp at the American Museum of Natural History, is building a program to encourage girls in computer science fields. “It’s an incredible role, working with a best-in-class institution to change the ratio of girls in computer science and ensure more women have the opportunity to create and not just consume technology,” she says.

“The best part of my job is that I truly believe my team is building a better world–the kind of world I want to live in,” says Bea Arthur, founder and CEO of Pretty Padded Room. “With Facebook and Instagram, we only seem to want to present the best versions of ourselves, but what makes the world go round is the other side of that coin: the sin, the shame, the story, the true story.”

And changing the world

“A leader is only as effective as the house around her, and I am floored daily by the commitment and the passion and the stories that drive people’s fight for reproductive freedom,” says Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “If the other side is the last dying gasp of an outdated patriarchal system, the team I get to lead is the very expression of what a future looks like that embraces justice, equality, and respect for diversity.”

“The best part of my job is that I truly believe my team is building a better world–the kind of world I want to live in.”

“I feel inspired every day,” says Courtney Harvey, director of operations at Women Moving Millions. “How many people can say that about their jobs? I get to work with visionary philanthropists, innovative nonprofit leaders, and a talented and scrappy team who all share the same vocation–the advancement of women and girls for the betterment of the world.”

via 9 Women Respond Brilliantly To A Sexist Question | Fast Company | Business + Innovation.

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9 Women Respond Brilliantly To A Sexist Question

Making The Business Case For Predictive Talent Analytics

A financial services powerhouse faced a 60 percent turnover rate among its 30,000 call-center reps. predictive talent analyticsLeveraging predictive talent analytics, the organization reduced turnover by 30 percent and saved $5 million in the first year alone.

A major medical device company suffered from high attrition among its highly paid sales reps as poor performers were forced out the door. Applying predictive talent analytics to shave attrition by only 1 percent, the company realized $30 million in savings.

Numbers like these should make any business manager pay attention to predictive talent analytics. And that’s a good thing, because talent analytics too often gets siloed in the HR department. The fact is, talent analytics is much bigger than HR. And the fast-emerging practice of predictive talent analytics requires the attention of every line of business.

Out of the silo

HR has long applied analytics to metrics like attrition rates. But these efforts have been backward-looking: What have been the past patterns of employee attrition? Predictive talent analytics is much more useful, because it looks to the future: What will our attrition rate be this year, who are the people who will leave the company, and what can we do to reduce that turnover?

It has only been in the past few years that we’ve developed the technologies and the methodologies to aim this future-focused lens. Data scientists created the means to predict how voters will vote, or how patients will follow treatment protocols, or how borrowers will pay off debts. It wasn’t long before HR realized the same technologies and approaches could be applied to predicting how employees will behave around key metrics like attrition and performance.

But talent analytics is often limited to the HR department. And that’s a problem, because typically, the most important data that feeds into predictive talent analytics resides not in HR but in the line of business.

HR is responsible for activities like identifying talent, hiring employees, and tracking data such as when they were hired, what they’re paid, and when they had their last performance review. But whether an employee is an accountant, a sales rep, an engineer, or a manager, the data on their performance and outcomes usually is captured and stored not in HR but in the function or line of business.

It’s these kinds of metrics that enable predictive talent analytics to deliver the greatest value. If you can accurately forecast which employees will perform best in a sales role, say, or which will be poor sellers and should not be in sales, then you can deliver tremendous returns on your predictive analytics efforts.

HR will still be involved in predictive talent analytics, of course, and may even manage the program. But for predictive talent analytics to deliver on its promise, it can’t be siloed in HR. Instead, it needs the data, the support, and probably the funding of the lines of business.

First steps to the future

In getting started with predictive talent analytics, the first thing organizations should do is follow the money. Rather than going on fishing expeditions with your employee data to see what you turn up, start with metrics your executive team will see clear value in funding. That will likely be attrition rates or job performance for key roles where there’s currently high turnover or where a small improvement in performance would save a lot of money or drive a lot of revenue.

Then, a straightforward cost-benefits analysis should show you, based on a given investment in analytics technology or services, what the payoff will be for a 10 percent or 20 percent reduction in turnover rates, say, or a 5 percent or 10 percent improvement in sales performance. You’ll then need to watch your model run for a while, reporting on a monthly or quarterly or yearly basis, and communicating the actual results you’re achieving.

Many large organizations may already have the analytics software and the data scientists to do this on their own. Others may need to work with an outside consultant, at least initially, till they gain the expertise they need. The mistake you don’t want to make is to assume your HR people, for example, will all become data scientists. Rather, you want to bring in analytics experts, whether in HR or the line of business or in a function like marketing, who have the expertise to do predictive modeling.

If you need to make investments in technology or talent, those costs should be straightforward to justify, because you should be able to point to clear returns. And if your results are anything like the financial services and medical device companies I mentioned earlier, your lines of business will be lining up to do more predictive talent analytics.

via Making The Business Case For Predictive Talent Analytics.

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Making The Business Case For Predictive Talent Analytics

Exit HR Practitioners, Enter Talent Analytics Algorithms

Guest Blog: Ian O’Keefe

Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”. Confucius was the first Chief Human Resources Officer. He had it right from the beginning. His words have captured our imaginations over the years, but still, to this day, fulfilling career choices and genuine engagement among workers remains as elusive as ever.

Corporate mission statements – attempting to link company pursuits to who we are and shareholder interests to how we feel about our work – often fail to inspire. According to a recent Gallup survey, 87% of employees worldwide, nearly 1.2 billion people, are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” at work. Workplace disengagement breeds negativity, thwarts innovation, hinders growth, and generates economic losses upwards of $500 billion annually in the U.S. alone[1].

The stakes are high and important questions remain unanswered. What are the sources of individual fulfillment and the drivers of productivity for each of us in the workplace? How do they change over time? How can work choices and career paths become more meaningful? The discipline of Talent Analytics – accelerated by the proliferation of BI technologies and the explosion of structured and unstructured human capital data – can bring us closer to the answers. Let’s get more specific.

Based on advanced statistical analysis of employee biographics, demographics, psychometrics, sociometrics, work history, performance trends, career goals, documented strengths and learning objectives, Talent Analytics algorithms will soon lead to highly customized and individualized:

  • Performance improvement recommendations based on real-time analysis of unstructured crowd-sourced feedback via Natural Language Processing and Cognitive Computing (think Yelp)

  • Career development plans that automatically evolve with links to open-source learning content, MOOCs, corporate social media follower suggestions, and internal job alerts (think Netflix)

  • Skill-building “time investment” opportunities that are gamified and pushed to your mobile device via alerts for short-term projects sponsored by other departments (think Kickstarter)

  • Mentor-mentee assignments created from pairing algorithms, deployed through system-generated calendar invites, and improved with Machine Learning feedback loops (think

  • Leadership pipelines and critical positions that are slated with evolving successor lists based on attrition probabilities of incumbents and predicted gaps in team performance (think Moneyball)

The list goes on. In the future, we will begin to see Big Data methods driving Little Data solutions with clear and measurable benefits to the organization, workforce, and individuals.

Hyper-personalization (something that Marketing Analytics data scientists have been doing for years), will reshape the talent solutions of tomorrow to be tailored to individuals like never before. Being truly data-driven, the talent solutions of the future will evaluate reams of information generated by enterprise-wide programs and processes and then dynamically create customized talent “product offerings”. Workers will choose to opt in to a symbiotic data exchange with the enterprise, because traditionally static HR activities (e.g., annual performance reviews, paper-based career development plans, off-the-shelf training, informal mentorship approaches, calendar-driven succession planning exercises, etc.) will morph into integrated and fluid talent systems designed to drive personal enablement and innovation. Workers will begin to experience deep personal connections to the ways the organization can seamlessly help them be more successful. Choosing to give more data will mean regularly getting more personalized insights. This will redefine concepts like Reciprocity, Trust, and Generosity and elevate them to the forefront of cultural transformations and organizational values frameworks. Agile technology integration, beta-product experimentation, and change leadership will be crucial success factors to bring this to life.

While complex organizations and evolving people practices create an abundance of workforce data, generating the insights to improve business outcomes and drive innovation is a tall order. Talent Analytics clearly needs to rise to the challenge. But how? By identifying broad organization-wide performance gaps aligned to overarching business objectives? By isolating unique development needs aligned to specific goals? Yes, on both accounts. Talent Analytics insights are most powerful when they can be applied broadly across the enterprise with seamless execution for all, as well as deeply within specific talent segments with targeted excellence for a chosen few.

The most innovative applications of Talent Analytics – based on principles of data-driven dynamic interactions – are only beginning to emerge. When this happens, the possibilities for Human Resources as a value creator and Talent Analytics as an innovation engine will become game-changing. Corporations, universities, member-based consortia, technology platform providers, and third-party consultants all stand to benefit from a growing ecosystem of partnerships and alliances aimed at advancing the Talent Analytics discipline.

So, the question to ask isn’t if your HR function will be disrupted. It will. Rather, ask whether your HR practitioners and Executive Leadership Teams are ready to embrace Talent Analytics to reshape the future of work and reinvigorate the engagement of workers. Possibly your own work and engagement. What would Confucius say?


Throughout fifteen years of management consulting and Fortune 100 leadership roles, I have been fortunate to observe how the intersection of people, process, and technology creates almost unlimited opportunities, as well as challenges, for organizational and individual success. Exploring this intersection has been a driving force throughout my career. Currently, as the Head of Talent Analytics for Sears Holdings Corporation, I lead a team that generates operational reporting, program effectiveness models, and advanced analytic studies impacting over 220,000 employees and billions of dollars in annual labor spend. Our team advises on a variety of business issues and the skillsets we employ are equally diverse. Economics, Statistics, Psychology, Computer Science, and Management Consulting form the core of our expertise. Our end goal is to discover new accelerators of workforce Engagement, Collaboration, and Productivity that will help transform Sears Holdings into the world’s largest integrated retailer.

via Exit HR Practitioners, Enter Talent Analytics Algorithms | LinkedIn.

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Exit HR Practitioners, Enter Talent Analytics Algorithms