VISUALIZING ANALYSIS

Summary

The first article in this series described the concept of Business Architecture, and went on to introduce two powerful models used to build sound, robust architectural views, being the Capability Model, and the Value Stream. This second article seeks to solidify these models in the context of Business Analysis.

The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) have identified a set of competencies they consider necessary for a practicing business analyst to be effective at their job. This article builds a capability view using these competencies as a foundation, and then considers the value streams that a business analyst uses to co-ordinate these competencies to perform their job.

Two distinct value streams emerge, one showing how a business analyst realises value on a project, and one showing how a business analyst realises value at an enterprise level.

What Do You Do?

As a business analyst, have you ever been asked to explain what you do for the organisation? The question may have come from a co-worker, but more likely you were asked by one of the more senior members of staff. The question can be quite a daunting one.

Since the field of IT business analysis is still relatively young, false impressions of what exactly a competent business analyst is, and more importantly what value they bring to their organisation generally, and their projects specifically, are rife. It is therefore important that the answer given to the question is clear and accurate.

Competency or Capability?

Before moving forward, we must first understand the difference between a capability and a competency.

Although often used interchangeably, “capability” and “competency” are quite different. Ulrich and Smallwood[1] make the distinction that individuals build competencies, while organisations exhibit capabilities.

The intention article is to produce a strategic view of the business analyst, describing their competencies using a capability model and value stream maps. In doing so, the aim is to provide a concrete example showing how to construct these two models using concepts that are familiar to analysts.

For the remainder of this article we are going to treat the individual BA competencies as analogous to organisational capabilities, whilst understanding the key difference highlighted above.

The BABOK, and the IIBA’s Competency Model

Let’s get back to the question that we posed to start with: “What Do You Do?”. The Business Analysis Body of Knowledge[2] (BABOK) is an excellent place to look to begin in formulating an answer.

The BABOK, and its supporting Competency Model[3], describes the knowledge, skills, abilities and other personal characteristics that an effective analyst perfects in time. Also laid out is a roadmap for an analyst to plan their career trajectory from junior to master analyst.

In addition to underlying competencies expected from a professional knowledge worker, the IIBA has identified 6 core knowledge areas that a business analyst must home in order to progress from beginner to competent to master in the practice of Business Analysis.

The competencies that we will use to build our model come from these 6 knowledge areas.

Strategic Modelling Step 1: The Business Analyst Competency Model

Let us start our example by considering the analyst to be an enterprise, and the competencies presented in the BABOK to be our Analyst-Enterprise’s capabilities. Our first step is to build a capability model that represents ‘what’ the Analyst-Enterprise is doing to create value.

This example is built using the Business Architecture Guild’s Level-1 Capability Model as a foundation for categorising each competency. For the sake of clarity, the Underlying Competencies are presented separately.

Since we are considering the ‘what’ and not the ‘how’, we must exclude all of the techniques that the BABOK list. Techniques are very much a ‘how’, and a senior analyst will use several techniques interchangeably, according to the needs of the project at hand.

The model is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Business Analyst Competency Model
Figure 1: Business Analyst Competency Model

You will immediately notice two things in the model:

  • first, the competencies, named as capabilities, have been renamed, and;
  • second, ‘Transition Requirements Definition’ is highlighted in red.

Naming Capabilities

The reason for the name-change is that capabilities are named using nouns[4]. Remember that capabilities are an external, ‘black box’ view of a business function that encapsulates the people (stakeholders in our case), process (think of the techniques described in the BABOK), and platforms (in our case this includes such things as CASE tools or document repositories).

To assembling our capability model we are defining what is being done, not how. By using nouns we build in a cross-check that we are not including processes or value streams into the capability model.

During analysis, it is quite easy to get tangled in naming capabilities that you are identifying in the business. If you find yourself questioning whether you have identified a capability correctly, remember that you are working towards building a view of ‘what’, and not ‘how’. Take a step back and ask: “Does my capability encapsulate people, process and platform, or have I fallen into the ‘how-trap’ by describing process?”

Identifying Duplication

The reason that ‘Transition Requirements Definition’ is highlighted in red is that capabilities are unique, and must occur only once on the capability model. Let’s analyse ‘Transition Requirements Definition’ by refering to the BABOK definition:

Purpose: To define requirements for capabilities needed to transition from an existing solution to a new solution.

So, this competency talks to requirements definition, but with the narrow focus of transitioning a solution into the organisation. Therefore, it is comprised several of existing requirements-centric capabilities already on our map; it is in essence a specialisation that combines existing competencies.

This composite capability must thus be eliminated from the capability model.

Benefits of the Capability Model

Now that we have produced the model, let us consider the benefits of having produced a capability model for our hypothetical Analyst-Enterprise.

  1. The model provides us with a talking point. We can refer to it during discussions, and importantly it drives a common vocabulary into those discussions. Moreover, it is easy to discuss individual elements of the role, whilst not losing sight of the whole.
  2. We can quickly see, on a single page, the competencies that make a business analyst. Using this view an analyst can quickly focus on weak areas, and they can take steps to address these weaknesses.
  3. Further, the model can aid the planning that the analyst may do by allowing objective prioritisation of actions to address their areas of weakness.

The capability model is our blueprint. The model is a stable reference point throughout our career. We may need to change a great deal, through learning and experience, to cultivate mastery in the role, but the model remains the blueprint against which we will plan to develop ourselves further.

Strategic Modelling Step 2: The Business Analyst Value Streams

When considering how an analyst delivers value to an organisation, it emerges that there are two distinct levels that the analyst engages at.

The first emergent focus is bounded by a project, and the analyst works within the ambit of the project. Working at the project level, the analyst’s deliverables address the specific needs of their project.

The second focus is at an enterprise level, where the analyst is working with business leaders, and key decision makers. At this level the analyst is working to distill strategy into clear objectives. They work to understand the current state of the business, and to formulate the actions needed to achieve the desired future state. This analyst will often be responsible for the business plans that give rise to the projects mentioned above.

Junior and intermediate analysts will tend to have a project focus, while senior analyst will likely be found bringing their depth of experience to bear at the enterprise level.

Value Stream: Plan-to-Solution

Using the competencies identified by the IIBA, the value stream that expresses value delivery in the project context is presented below.

In the interests of simplicity, the ‘Transition Requirements Definition’ competency has not been decomposed into its discrete elements.

Since value streams are designed with improvement in mind, we can start to leverage our view of Plan-to-Solution for the purpose of improvement. Our goal may be to reduce cost by eliminating waste (maybe arising from poor upfront planning), or to produce the solution in time with customer expectation (by better managing scope and communication). Our goal is likely to vary from project to project.

Value Stream: Vision-to-Plan

Next up, let us examine how an enterprise analyst delivers value while conducting their duties.

Figure 3: Vision-to-Plan Value Stream
Figure 3: Vision-to-Plan Value Stream

In this example we can see that the enterprise analyst is using many of the same value stream stages as the project analyst. This makes sense, as in both cases the analyst must plan, they must engage with identified stakeholders to elicit requirements, the must communicate and they validate outcomes. The main difference is the scope of the initiative, and the desired outcome.

Looking at both of the examples I am sure that you get a sense that the value stream presents a dynamic view of value delivery.

Key Principles of Value Streams to Remember[5]

The value stream is customer-focused. Our customer in either instance above is the Project Sponsor, and ultimately the business itself. You may choose to represent the customer in a number of ways, whether in the map directly, or in your supporting documentation.

Keep in mind that the value stream is value centric. At each value stream stage we should be able to identify at least one customer for whom we have created value. If we are not delivering value then we are wasting time and money. It is sometimes helpful to include a purpose and value statement below each value stream.

The value streams are a business-centric view of value creation. They are aimed at strategic decision-makers, and are intended to be simple to understand and interpret. Avoid making overly complex value streams that are more process-centric than is necessary. Getting back to the initial question posed in this article: Think how quickly you could answer the question with a value stream. The high-level nature of the steam does not put off senior members of staff, and they are able to quickly understand the value delivery mechanism.

Value streams are holistic, end-to-end views of value creation. They are by nature cross-cutting, and inclusive of external parties. This allows decision-makers to formulate a common approach that can be rolled out across the organisation without needing to be tailored for individual divisions, departments or sites.

Moreover, the value streams aggregate the underlying processes from across organisational silos, and even organisational boundaries. This allows similar processes to be rationalised and consolidated. Decision-makers are empowered by the holistic view to recognise redundant or duplicate process, and to implement common solutions in these identified areas. The business as a whole becomes more streamlined and efficient.

We can decompose the value streams. This allows the value stream to be tailored to meet the specific needs of an individual product line, or business unit in the context of the value delivery highlighted by the value stream.

Lastly, we can quickly understand how the value creation process leverages business capabilities. Resources can be brought to bear, in an objective way, on capabilities that are underperforming. For instance, we may quickly realise that we are not planning our activities well enough as we are weak in the ‘Business Analysis Activities Planning’ competency. We could then plan to work at improving this competency in upcoming projects.

Conclusion

By using our capability model and value streams we can lay down a blueprint that lets us envision ourselves in terms of what we do, they facilitate planning of a successful approach to improving our skill, and then guiding our development of these skills.

Crucially, we are able to express complex ideas simply, and effectively. The models tend to drive out a common language, and by allowing discussions to revolve around the models we can avoid ambiguity. Armed with these models it should be easy for an analyst to clearly answer the question ‘What do you do?’.

Exactly the same principles apply when you view the enterprise through these two lenses. The opportunities for improvement become quickly obvious. Business Architecture is becoming ever more important in linking the business strategy to explicit, achievable results. As this field matures it is going to become ever more important pillar that supports the overall Enterprise Architecture.

THE TIME SUCK

I know that we are only two days in but so far this entire week has already been or will be meetings, taking people places, talking to investors, research, reorganization, testing processes, and travel.

I know that technically all of these things are productive, but it doesn’t feel very productive to me. It feels like I’ve already blown the entire week due to the time suck.

I just want to work uninterrupted.

I sometimes wish there were ten of me that I could delegate mundane tasks like travel to these other selves while I just worked. Usually that’s all I really want to do… just the Real Work.

PROSPERITY AND ACTION

A good article from my friend Steve. You should pay his site(s) a visit and read his advice.

5 things prosperous copywriters do all day

Steve Roller, prosperous copywriter trainer

One of my favorite blog posts ever appeared exactly eight years ago in the Daily Reckoning, titled, “The Three Things Rich People Do All Day.”

In the piece, Chris Mayer concludes that reading, conversing with people who know what you’d like to know, and thinking are the three things rich people do all day.

After hanging out with some pretty high achievers the last couple years, and aspiring to be one of the wealthy myself, I have to agree with him.

On the ride home from my Ultimate Writing Retreat™ in Chicago nine days ago, I came up with my own list of 5 things that prosperous copywriters do all day:

1. Read. Read classic copywriting books by Eugene Schwartz, David Ogilvy, and Claude Hopkins. Read contemporary classics by Dan Kennedy, Clayton Makepeace, Gary Halbert, and John Carlton.

Read the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and your local paper (if you have local clients.) Read classic literature by Hemingway and Hugo, as well as airport paperbacks by John Grisham and Stephen King. Read!

2. Think. You simply have to spend time deep thinking about Big Ideas. How else are you going to come up with a new angle for a client promotion? It’s not all nose-to-the-grindstone, furious writing time that accomplishes that.

Or think about Big Ideas for your own business.

How are you going to convince your prospects to do business with you instead of the dozens of other copywriters who are just as good as you, in the same niche? How can you provide more value while working faster and making sure your clients get a good return on investment? What is your Big “off the chart” Idea that could send your business soaring?

3. Talk to interesting people.

I spent 67 hours recently hanging out with some very interesting people in Chicago. We coined at least three new terms that you’ll probably be hearing about in the next few months. We launched two new businesses, re-launched two more, and came up with strategy that could turn two of them into million-dollar businesses.

When I’m in my office, I probably spend two hours a day on average conversing with copywriters who are trying to get to the next level. I ask  questions to get them thinking in a different way. I challenge them. I offer critiques if they ask. I give offbeat advice.

Once in a while, I inspire someone to go out and do really big things. Very rewarding, all of it. I benefit from these conversations, too.

Be selective about the company you keep, and spend the time in meaningful discussions.

4. Write stuff that other people will pay you for. Ask yourself at every turn, “Is this making me money?” or “Is it leading me quickly to a place where I’ll make money doing it?”

If you’re writing a special report that prospects will download to get on your mailing list, which you’ll then use to market your other services to them, the answer is “yes.” Writing an article for “exposure” and the promise of possible work down the road? Your call, but I’d say “no.”

5. Write things that build your own business. One of the “eureka” moments at the Chicago retreat was that you don’t have to figure out how to write copy for clients. Create a business around something you love, and write all the marketing copy for it.

When you’re writing copy for your own high-end luxury watch tours to Basel, Switzerland, or for helping CEOs become insanely great at presentation skills, things get pretty fun! Think of copywriting as a means to an end.

If you were a fly on the wall of my office, those are the five things you’d find me doing every day. Reading, thinking, talking to interesting people, writing stuff that people pay me for, and writing to build my own business.

Do you have any others you’d add to the list? Any you’d take off this list? Where can you do all five of these at once, in a three-day intensive writing experience like you’ve never seen before? Asheville, North Carolina, of course. July 17-20.

It’ll be another one for the ages: http://cafewriter.com/asheville/

Hope to see you there. I have a few ideas of what we’ll talk about.

the copywriter's life

the copywriter’s life

WATCHING TIME

THE STORIES BEHIND FIVE OF THE MOST ICONIC WATCHES OF ALL TIME 

What makes a Rolex GMT-Master special? The moon, for starters.

BY ED ESTLOW

07 JUNE 2016

70 REACTIONS

Apple wrist products, smartphones and Fitbits notwithstanding, actual watches are cool again.

And the backstories are often even cooler.

We’ve teamed up with vintage and pre-owned watch dealer Crown & Caliber to bring you the origin tales on five of the most iconic timepieces. These are stories that involve war, polo and a surprising amount of space travel.

Read on. You’ve got time.

Rolex GMT-Master
Everybody knows the story of how Pan American World Airways, the pioneers behind the intercontinental flight of the same name, got together with Rolex to design the GMT-Master. They tackled the project so their pilots could maintain a regular sleep schedule and not fall asleep at the wheel. But that’s old news.

The real dirty little secret of the GMT-Master is that at least couple of them made it to the Moon. Jack Swigert wore one on the Apollo 13 mission (you know, the one during which the command module almost blew out from under Swigert, James Lovell, and Fred Haise; pretty sure they made a movie about it). Some claim it was the GMT and not the NASA-authorized Omega Speedmaster that Swigert used to time critical rocket burns as a crippled Apollo 13 limped home. That one hangs on a plaque at Rolex HQ.

And several missions later, Apollo 17 Commander Ronald Evans wore his GMT-Master clear down to the lunar surface, albeit under his space suit. There it stayed for a little over three days. When he got home, he took his buzz-pencil and hand engraved the case back with “FLOWN ON APOLLO XVII 6-19 DEC 72 ON MOON 11-17 DEC RON EVANS.” The watch sold at auction in 2009 for $131,450. Not bad for an illicit piece of history, eh?

Patek Philippe Nautilus
Patek Philippe commissioned famed watch designer Gerald Genta to design this one in 1974. Even though he’d done thousands of watch designs in his career, at this point he was fresh off designing the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. One imagines he must have been a little tapped out in the inspiration department.

He was eating lunch during a break in the 1974 Basel Watch Fair when inspiration finally struck. He borrowed a paper and pencil from the waiter and did the first sketches of what would become the Nautilus in about five minutes.

Breitling Cosmonaute
You can guess by the name of this watch that it’s got a spacefaring background. When Korean air combat veteran Scott Carpenter was selected for the Mercury space program, he realized he’d be orbiting — and going through day/night rotations — so fast that he could lose track of whether it was day or night back at Mission Control in Houston.

So he went to his buddies at Breitling and discussed the problem. The solution was a watch with a 24-hour dial: the Cosmonaute, based on Breitling’s famous Navitimer platform. Carpenter’s was delivered to him a mere three weeks before his mission. Although his Mercury Aurora Seven mission only lasted five hours, the watch functioned well in space.

Unfortunately, upon splashdown and recovery, Carpenter dipped his watch hand in the sea and the non-water-resistant watch was toast (the Navitimer was notorious for its lack of water resistance). Here’s where the story gets interesting. NASA apparently sent it back to Breitling for repair, but it was never returned.

No one has seen that particular watch in 54 years. But the Cosmonaute is still being produced today.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso
A sport watch refers to a diver or other ticker made for exploration. And the Jaeger LeCoultre is probably the original sport watch. In 1930, an executive of the forerunner to JLC was in India on business. He was approached by an army officer who played polo in his spare time. It seemed the officer kept breaking the crystals on his watches and needed a solution.

The watch executive considered the problem and discussed it with his associates back in Switzerland. The Reverso, a watch with the case that can flip over to protect the dial side and crystal, is what they came up with. It has seen size changes and dozens of versions in the 85 years since it debuted, but the base model is remarkably like the one that first saw the light of day in 1931.

Omega Speedmaster
Ah yes, the Moon watch. Originally conceived in the late 1950s as a racer’s watch (and said tales about the Rolex GMT-Master notwithstanding), the Omega Speedmaster is the official Moon watch — as designated by NASA. One still goes into space on nearly every U.S. astronaut’s wrist.

The fable goes that NASA engineers went undercover to several jewelers in Houston to buy off-the-shelf timepieces to test for use in space. This story is great, like an actress being discovered in a drugstore at Hollywood & Vine, but it’s generally acknowledged to be untrue.

No matter.

What is true is that the Speedmaster proved to be so tough in tests that, to this day, it’s still the only timepiece approved for spacewalks. And Swigert’s GMT-Master be damned, the Speedy is credited with timing the rocket burns that got Apollo 13 home and saved the crew’s necks.4

Watch nerds everywhere count at least one Speedy in their collection. Watch blogFratelloWatches pioneered the concept of “Speedy Tuesday” on social media, one day each week where aficionados post photographs of their beloved watches in various poses: the nerdier, the better.

BILLIONAIRE SOLUTIONS

18 Quotations With Images (from Billionaires)

quotations with images

We all know them. Those damn lucky bastards at the helm of billion-dollar empires and in command of countless employees. From Oprah Winfrey to Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, rich people always helped shape the world we live in. Not only that, but they haunt us with their quotes. It’s annoying because the all principles from their quotations are correct. But their so damn hard to apply! It’s one thing to know the right path. Quite a different thing to walk it. These guys talk the talk because they’ve walked the walk.

Regardless, whether rich or poor, we can at least enjoy the philosophy from this rich folks and forget for a moment that they’re worth zillions of dollars. In the end, we’re all the same. Most of the people from the list below started out with nothing at all. They were dirt poor. I don’t believe in destiny or luck. There must have be something else at play in their equation ofgetting rich.
Let’s see if they are willing to share their insight and maybe we’ll catch a glimpse of how they made pennies from their thoughts.

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Andrew-Carnegie

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Bill-Gates

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Donald-Trump

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Elon-Musk

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Henry-Ford

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Jeff-Bezos

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-JK-Rowling

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-John-Rockefeller

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-JP-Morgan

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Mark-Cuban

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Mark-Zuckerberg

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Michael-Bloomberg

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Michael-Dell

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Oprah

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Sam-Walton

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Steve-Jobs

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Warren-Buffett

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Warren-Buffett

RELIABILITY from THE BUSINESS, CAREER, AND WORK OF MAN

Reliability breeds profit. Unpredictability predicts collapse.

WHOEVER WISHES

“Whoever wishes to live in sanctity, may he live according to the true laws of commerce and finance.”

Babylonian Talmud

THE GREAT ENTERPRISE from THE BUSINESS, CAREER, AND WORK OF MAN

Do not seek permission to undertake any Great Enterprise. Let the High Quality of your Work be your True Qualification.

SILVERCAR AND AUDI

Audi Leads $28M Investment In Rental Startup Silvercar

Silvercar, a startup rethinking the auto rental experience in airports, already seems pretty tied to Audi — after all, every vehicle that Silvercar rents out is a silver Audi. Now the companies are deepening that relationship with a $28 million Series C investment.

Audi led the round, with the company’s North American president Scott Keogh joining Silvercar’s board of directors. Silvercar and Audi are also looking beyond airports with a new initiative called the Audi Shared Fleet, where businesses will be able to offer cars to employees on their corporate campuses.

“Silvercar represents not just the future of the car rental industry, but a vision for the future of mobility,” Keogh said in the funding release “We want to utilize the company’s strengths in technology and innovation to merge connectivity and mobility for today’s consumer.”

Silvercar has raised a total of $60 million in funding. Previous investors Austin Ventures and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin also participated in the new round.

The service doesn’t just offer every customer access to the same high-end vehicle. It also streamlines the reservation and payment process, allowing you to make bookings through a mobile app and unlock the car by just scanning a QR code.Writer Ryan Lawler (now sadly departed from TechCrunch) tried the service out three years ago in Dallas-Fort Worth, Silvercar’s very first airport. He came away impressed with “the ease of getting in and out of the airport rental dock,” and he suggested that business travelers, in particular, might be willing to pay a premium to get a better experience. (The exact pricing varies from market to market.)

The company says its business tripled in 2015, and it’s now launching in its twelfth market, Las Vegas, just in time for this week’s Consumer Electronics Show.

FEATURED IMAGE: SILVERCAR

ANY PROBLEM from THE BUSINESS, CAREER, AND WORK OF MAN

Any problem is soluble if you act upon it properly.

THE ESSENTIAL WORK METHOD

THE ESSENTIAL WORK METHOD

I have been experimenting with a new way of Working that is succeeding quite well. I have narrowed down all of the really important things I do every Work Day plus on my 3 Sabbaths and reduced them to 4 (or less) Essential Items. I therefore get up every day and do these 4 Essential Items every day first thing.

Then, and only after these 4 Essential Items are done do I go on to the rest of my schedule and whatever else I have to do. This assures I do the most Essential things first and foremost without excuse or interruption or interference.

This system has worked out extremely well for me… I highly recommend it. This is my Personal System (below). Of course develop one of your own to cover what is most essential to achieve for you.

________________________________________________________

DAILY AND WEEKLY ESSENTIAL THINGS

Monday

Blog
Book or Novel or Story Writing – 1000 to 2500 words per day
Start Up Business or Entrepreneurial Projects
Writing Submissions

Tuesday

Book or Novel or Story Writing – 1000 to 2500 words per day
Start Up Business or Entrepreneurial Projects
Gaming Project
Business Submissions

Wednesday

Site Commenting and Sharing
Book or Novel or Story Writing – 1000 to 2500 words per day
Start Up Business or Entrepreneurial Projects
Invention Submissions

Thursday

Book or Novel or Story Writing – 1000 to 2500 words per day
Start Up Business or Entrepreneurial Projects
Songwriting and Composing and Poetry
Songwriting Submissions

Friday

Blog
Idea and Invention and Investment Generation and Mental Sabbath
Meetings and Networking and Travel and Field Trips

Saturday

Sharing and Reblogging
Recreation and Psychological Sabbath and Rest

Sunday

Spiritual Sabbath and Church
Prayer, Study Bible, and Theurgy and Thaumaturgy
Rest

EVERGREEN AND ALWAYS – BUSINESS OF BUSINESS

5 Types of Evergreen Content for Your Website

SEPTEMBER 25, 2015
This story originally appeared on PR Newswire’s Small Business PR Toolkit
In general, two types of successful content exist: Topical content that is relevant now and will lose its influence over time, and evergreen content that is pertinent now and will continue to be in the future. While both are important components of a content strategy, evergreen allows a brand to re-use, reshare and repurpose the same information, saving both time and resources while increasing the amount of traffic the website and business receive.

Create evergreen content with:

1. Instructions
According to Internet Live Stats, Google processes over 3.5 billion searches per day. A significant number of those are inquiring how to accomplish a task. “How-to” guides and tutorials can perpetually provide valuable answers. Tackle challenges that will continue to be relevant in the future, with solutions that will remain the same. A guide on how to change a lightbulb, for example, is and will continue to be accurate and important to residents new to DIY chores. And if the content is tailored to a certain skill level, it’s recommended to clarify that information in the title. For instance, specify if your tutorial on a software program is for beginners or for experts.

2. Interviews
Interview industry experts and influencers. Interviews are a great form of evergreen content because they’re not only timeless but also simple to repurpose. Take the podcast or video and convert its content into a blog, white paper, ebook or PowerPoint presentation.

3. Answers
Because answers to questions regarding the practices and standards of a company as well as industry terms rarely change, FAQ and glossary pages are ideal for evergreen website content. According to PlainLanguage.gov, readers complain about jargon more than any other writing fault. So when creating term definitions, be as clear and straightforward as possible so every reader can understand the information and won’t reference another source instead.

4. History
When providing historical content either about the industry or the brand, avoid using adverbs of time. For example, using words like “last year” or “recently” will quickly cause the content to be inaccurate and outdated. Instead, use the actual date that the historical event took place.

5. Lists
“Top 10” lists of topics that aren’t time-sensitive are not only perennial but also very easy for readers to digest since the information is concisely broken down and organized. Lists can vary from a compilation of industry resources or tools to the best and worst practices of a particular subject or technique.

Because evergreen material will remain pertinent, new users will continue to find and reference the already established content, which will increase traffic and visibility over time. In fact, according to a case study conducted by Moz.com, creating perpetually relevant content improves a brand’s website traffic, overall growth and reputation as an authority.

Written by Phillip Thune of Textbroker

NATIVE PR?

Why PR Firms Shouldn’t Be Worried About Native Ads

Why PR Firms Shouldn't Be Worried About Native Ads
Image credit: Shutterstock.com
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On a recent trip to New York, I took the opportunity to attend a digital publishing summit that brought together key digital players including The Huffington PostThe Onion, Buzzfeed and others to discuss trends in publishing. I was interested to learn more about how the media landscape is changing as a result of digital.

Changing reader habits, geared towards a preference for consuming media online and through devices, have led to the decline of print and a subsequent decline in revenue for media outlets. Unsurprisingly, the number one issue up for discussion at the conference was revenue models, most predominately native advertising.

Is the wall between editorial and advertising coming down?

Many critics suggest that native advertising has led to one of the most significant shifts of our times, the gradual breakdown of the wall that used to exist between editorial and advertising. Editorial has never stood completely independent (after all we have a whole industry, public relations, which has given interest groups a platform through editorial), the line has certainly begun to blur.

On the other hand, one could also argue that native advertising leads to more transparency about corporate interests, unlike public relations where corporate interests are buried in editorial. Critics could argue that indeed the wall remains intact.

What does this mean for public relations practitioners?

In any event, native advertising is already sending earned media opportunities into decline. We’re already seeing fewer opportunities to secure media coverage for clients through traditional means—pitching for interviews, guest blogging, op eds, media releases etc.—without paying for it.

What does this mean for today’s public relations practitioner? Practitioners must be well versed in digital, social, content and paid media. Borrowing the tactics of other disciplines is now the norm. This doesn’t mean, however, that public relations doesn’t have its place.

Ultimately, public relations brings to the table a crucial focus on understanding target audience and crafting messages and content which cuts through with that audience. This is also paramount for a sound content, digital or social strategy. Public relations also understands the unique role of a brand’s reputation and credibility, which goes beyond simply building brand awareness.

Native advertising won’t mean the end of public relations, but it will mean that public relations will start to look very different.

GOOGLE’S BIG QUBIT – BUSINESS OF BUSINESS

GOOGLE’S QUANTUM COMPUTER JUST GOT A BIG UPGRADE

Google's 1000+ Qubit chip.

A NEW AND BETTER DESIGN from THE BUSINESS, CAREER, AND WORK OF MAN

A new and better design is not really possible unless one first acknowledges that a new and better design is necessary and required.

image from nuturenergy

QUIRKED

The Rise and Fall of Quirky — the Start-Up That Bet Big on the Genius of Regular Folks

By

Photo: Courtesy of Quirky

One of the start-up world’s favorite words, in addition to disruptpivot, and on-demand, is community. Kickstarter identifies as “a community of people committed to bringing new things to life.” “The heart and soul of Etsy,” begins the About Etsy page, “is our global community.” Airbnb calls itself “the world’s leading community-driven hospitality company.” You’re not, in other words, just joining a platform where you can fund your screenplay, or hawk your hand-knit iPhone koozies, or rent your apartment — no, you’re belonging to something bigger than yourself.

But back in 2009, perhaps before the word had lost all meaning, a small-time-invention start-up called Quirky built a community that really acted like one. It told the first-world-problem solver in all of us — the one who thought up single-serve French-fry-makers and foldable coffee mugs and musical footballs while out walking the dog — that she no longer had to innovate in a vacuum. Anybody could join. On Quirky’s website, users would assess and workshop each other’s inventions. The most successful ideas, as determined by a vote, would be designed and built by the company. In some cases, the inventors made a lot of money. And it is for that tiny dreamer that the company’s recent death spiral feels like a true loss.

It all came to a head on what seemed like a typical Thursday evening this July, during the weekly Quirky ritual known as Eval. A studio audience of about 100 people gathered in the company’s former-rail-car-terminal headquarters in Chelsea. Lit by webcams from above and a bank of futuristic equipment behind, Quirky’s 28-year-old founder, Ben Kaufman, stood at a lectern in his usual black V-neck tee and announced a panel of product-evaluation experts by nickname: Anna “Make a Buck” Buchbauer, Justin “J-Bomb” Seidenfeld, Aaron Dignan, a.k.a. El Presidente. Ideas submitted and voted on by the Quirky community — watching the livestream from their living rooms — were presented via pitch videos and commentary from Kaufman: a voice-activated lightbulb, a paper-thin Bluetooth speaker that fits in your back pocket, an on-the-go beverage carbonator. The masterminds who won majority approval would hear the rallying mantra “Congratulations, you’re a Quirky inventor!” and have the chance to be like fellow Eval winner Garthen Leslie, a 63-year-old IT consultant from Columbia, Maryland. Leslie came up with the idea of a smart air conditioner during his morning commute, uploaded a rough diagram of the idea to the Quirky platform, and found the community waiting to help him refine it, suggesting additional features and weighing in on the sizing, specs, and the name, which would be Aros. And keeping with Quirky’s leave-the-rest-to-us business model, the company then patented, manufactured, marketed, and sold the unit into Walmart and Amazon, returning 10 percent of the profits to the inventor and those that played Watson to his Graham Bell (in this exceptional case, that’s amounted to more than $400,000 for Leslie and more than $200,000 for the community).

Quirky founder Ben Kaufman, center.

But this Thursday, July 16, it would turn out, was not an ordinary Eval. In fact, it would be the next to last one Kaufman ever did. Following the broadcast, he tacked on what he called an “after-party” — a.k.a. a crisis-management session aimed at addressing recent bad press that the company had gotten. In June, in a sweaty interview onstage at the Fortune Brainstorm conference, Kaufman admitted the company was all but “out of money,” which had once amounted to $185 million in funding from investors like Andreessen Horowitz and GE. In July came the news that nearly the entire New York City staff would be laid off. By August 1, Kaufman would officially step down from the company he started at age 22. It so happened that for every Aros-type success, the community had waved in many more duds like the Beat Booster, a wireless speaker with a built-in charging station that by one account cost the company $388,000 to develop but only sold about 30 units.

It’s not surprising that Kaufman used the word transparency no fewer than three times in the first five minutes of that after-party, the bottom line of which was that he frankly didn’t know if the company would survive — Quirky’s fate was in the investors’ hands. Because, for all the aspirational, rarefied Bushwick-bar vibes telegraphed by the Evals, Quirky was, of course, all about being real. Its cluster of a million members included folks like — to cite some of the most recent inventors featured on the website — Tony Lytle, a welder and proud grandfather from Larwill, Indiana, who’d dreamed up the Pawcett, a step-on drinking fountain for dogs; and Hadar Ferris, a licensed cosmetologist in Oceanside, California, responsible for decorative muffin-top molds called Bake Shapes; and Pennsylvania-based Navy veteran Jason Hunter, who gave birth to the Porkfolio app-enabled piggy bank. (In the age of artisanal everything, just as we want to know where our pickles were brined and our former-church-pew coffee tables were carved, here, too, was the meaningful personal backstory behind your magnetic bottle opener.)

Aros was a rare commercial success for Quirky.

A few weeks after he was ousted, Kaufman emailed with me from his first-ever personal email account: “It’s weird waking up one day and not even having an email address,” he later said on the phone. “This had been my whole life.” He was a small-time inventor himself at first, for a range of iPod accessories he started in high school that went on to become the company Mophie. At the 2007 Macworld Expo, he handed out pens and sketchpads and asked people to help design Mophie’s 2007 product line (sound familiar?) and then held a vote for the top three ideas. That same year, he sold Mophie, reappropriated the Macworld crowdsourcing schtick, and tried to launch a similar concept to Quirky. What helped Quirky finally get off the ground in 2009 was the recession-driven push for alternative incomes (no coincidence that Kickstarter as well as the entrepreneur-competition show Shark Tank, another bastion of scrappy innovation, also launched in 2009). Plus, there was more of a universal comfort with the practice of online sharing: We were now very used to telling our Facebook friends what we ate for breakfast, and by extension, we might as well tell the Quirky forum about our concept for a better egg-yolk extractor. Our notion of community, then, was evolving, and Kaufman — Mark Zuckerberg wrapped in a teddy-bear build, with the mischievous smile of your son or younger brother (depending on where you fell in Quirky’s wide-ranging age demographics) — was a relatable leader.

On the consumer end, seeing these ordinary tinkerers immortalized on the shelves of the Container Store (a big Quirky perk was that inventors’ names and faces appeared on their products’ packaging) was like watching the Spanx lady on QVC for the first time in the early aughts — a humble fax-machine salesperson from Clearwater, Florida, who just wanted to wear control-top pantyhose without the hose. Inventors were just like us! And now everybody could be the Spanx lady (albeit for only a tiny fraction of the profits), because unlike her, we didn’t have to side-hustle all alone. Next it could be my cousin in Westchester, who had four kids but no one to help her prototype her idea for a mother-baby bath towel. Next it could be my semi-retired father, who was in a private war with his never-shuts-properly pantry door and needed a constructive, supportive outlet for his aggression. Next it could be my friend Sarah, who was full of lightbulb moments — an Oreo-dunking robot claw, a universal key for all your locks — but was too stoned to sort through the mechanics by herself.

Quirky was catnip for the press: The Sundance Channel produced a short-lived reality show on the company in 2011. Kaufman appeared on Leno. This magazine featured it as a Boom Brand of 2013, noting, “It’s a pretty rare company that’s so hippieish — Let’s have everyone get a say! — yet so purely free-market.” The Times devoted several thousand words to a piece called “The Invention Mob, Brought to You by Quirky” just last February (by then its financially unsustainable business model had given way to a pivot — a smart-home subsidiary called Wink — that was too little too late).\

Another Times piece, from this past April, cited Quirky as a springboard for the realest of all Real People: older people. “There’s a boom in inventing by people over 50,” John Calvert, the executive director of the United Inventors Association, told the paper. And indeed, Quirky had plenty of them in its hive — like 59-year-old Lorin Ryle, a full-time caretaker for her dementia-stricken mother. When her clip-on baby monitor for the elderly won at Eval, she says she cried, watching from her Hutto, Texas, home. It never actually made it to development (in fact, only about half of the Eval winners ever do), but for Ryle that didn’t take away from the experience of “working with people to make something work,” she says. “I’ve made lifelong friends on there.” (Another Quirky boomer, Marc Rumaner, who came up with a nifty little wine-bottle anchor called Vine Stop, has even gone so far as to host barbecues for fellow community members in his Chicago area.)

Of course, the inmates didn’t always like running the asylum. There was much talk in the forums that the Eval system seemed too democratic. “I failed to see how any of us could know what a product scout from a company like GE or Mattel could know,” says one community member. And indeed, when you look at misfires like the Drift, a $200 wooden balance board that simulates snowboarding and surfing, or the $80 Egg Minder, an app-enabled egg tray that signals to your smartphone when you’re running low on eggs, it would appear that the company’s raison d’être was also the reason for its downfall, a colony of amateurs green-lighting unscalable solutions to nonexistent issues. Quirky brought more than 400 products to market in just six years.

Inside Quirky’s workshop.

Yet Kaufman points out that the community had much less say than all the high-pressure voting would suggest; the real decisions were made when the cameras stopped rolling and he and the actual experts did the math on a product’s marketability. (So, maybe not so much power to the people, after all.) But, he adds of Eval, “There had to be a thing to look forward to on a regular basis — otherwise how are you going to keep the community engaged?” Quirky steered the ship, you might say, but the community was still the North Star.

Steering the ship — handling all of the engineering, manufacturing, marketing, and retailing, even when you’re taking 90 percent of the subsequent profits — was ultimately too expensive of a proposition, especially in comparison to other, less-handholding-oriented start-ups. “The reason why Kickstarter makes a ton of money is they don’t have to do anything besides put up a website,” Kaufman notes. After that, the failure (and let’s face it, many Kickstarter-funded products go on to fail) is all on the individual. Which is not meant to be a dig, Kaufman clarifies. He won’t confirm his next venture but says, “I love Kickstarter.” And: “I will likely use it.”

OBJECTIVES AND GOALS – THE BUSINESS OF BUSINESS

What I have to say below on the topic of Objectives and Goals (and the differences between the two) was sparked by a Linked In post on a Consulting Blog. What follows is my response to the question posed on the blog:

 

OBJECTIVES AND GOALS

To me these words have very specific, practical definitions for my own Work, though they might very well be used interchangeably by clients or others. By my own definitions, which are pragmatic and geared towards utility, an Objective is a wide-scale enterprise or endeavor, strategic in nature, and therefore separate and distinct from a Goal which is carefully and tightly targeted and tactical in nature.

Let me use a warfare analogy. An objective might be to “take a town,” (I am using a narrow strategic objective, whereas it could just as easily be that my objective is wide-scale, to “defeat an enemy”) but my goals in doing so might be as follows: cut off enemy resupply routes, attrit enemy forces, reduce the number of enemy fortified hard-points, and constrict enemy fuel and power resources. Each Goal then is a clear and very specific and tactical aim which when taken all together, and if each is successfully executed then I achieve my overall Objective (which is strategic in nature.

I could use the very same type of analogy and apply it to a business or investment enterprise. Suppose I or my client wanted to begin a new start-up. The Objective would be to obtain sufficient Capital and investment to properly fund operations thereby increasing the odds of a successful launch and the building of a profitable enterprise.

My specific goals therefore in pursuing this strategic Objective would be as follows; construct a viable business plan with acceptable financial projections, create a pitch capable of exciting investors, secure angel or venture capital sources to fund the project, develop a strong operational team to run the day to day business operations of the Start-Up, etc.

Each goal to me therefore has a very specific and tight aim which I can easily measure and that contains a very specific time-frame for completion. Complete all of the Goals successfully, or most of them successfully, and you eventually reach your Objective which is also successfully concluded and obtained.

Therefore to me Objectives are always strategic and large-scale (and because of this somewhat flexible in nature), whereas Goals are always specific and targeted and tightly measured.

Objectives to me are always Objective (in nature, as is implied by the denotation of the word) and general but state the desired end-point aim, whereas Goals are always tactical, pragmatic, (and to some degree subjective in nature) and consist of the necessary sub-components used to achieve the overall Objective.

The point to me is a pragmatic and practical one, to differentiate between the overall strategic Objective and the specific and tactical Goals necessary to obtain that Objective.

In that way you neither confuse your Goals and how they operate, nor do you lose sight of your True Objective(s).

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Ardbrin Enterprise Goals Optimisation Platform

ARE OBJECTIVES AND GOALS THE SAME THING?

Ok, so let’s be pedantic for a minute. Are goals and objectives the same thing? Their usage seems to cause a certain degree of debate, and this is certainly the case amongst our own team. Both words describe things that a person may want to achieve or attain but are used specifically at certain times and situations for differentiation. Some would argue that goals are broader than objectives as goals are general intentions and are not specific enough to be measured, whereas in most cases objectives are measurable. Or some would say that goals are longer term with objectives being used on the short to medium term.

 

Regardless of whether we choose to use the word ‘goal’ or ‘objective, in order to get the best results, they must all be measurable. At Ardbrin, we have drawn our own conclusions and use the word ‘goal’ in our model, but only because it’s shorter and easier to spell! All of our goals are measurable as we apply SMART criteria to them. For us therefore smart goals = objectives. In case you need reminding, SMART is the acronym for specific, measurable, assignable, realistic and time related. So when we speak to our customers, our advice would be to have the confidence to use either word interchangeably, as when it comes to strategic planning we know what you mean.

KINGFISH from THE BUSINESS, CAREER, AND WORK OF MAN

THE KINGFISH

You may live as the King Fish in a small pond for as long as you wish but one thing you will never do is cause the pond to grow any larger. Therefore if you would truly reach your real mass you must swim for the sea.

IN NEED OF

IN NEED OF

I am in immediate need of the following things:

  1. BETA READERS for my fictional writings and novels and (if you wish) the poetry and songs that I intend to publish. I want only brutally honest opinions, and I want a wide range of readers/reader-types. (There will be no pay but I will exchange favors and see to it that you are provided with free copies of the finished works). Confidentiality regarding my writings will be expected of course, and I will restrict my beta readers to maybe 6 to 8 people, but I will treat you right.
  1. A good, decent, hard-working, and ambitious LITERARY AGENT (to match myself).
  1. An EMPLOYEE TEAM for my start-ups. (People to run the businesses, handle marketing, and run day to day operations while I and my partners handle funding and investors, etc.) More on that later.
  1. A TEAM OF BUSINESS BUILDERS/DEVELOPERS AND INVESTORS (start-ups primarily but we may also handle brokerage and turn-arounds on rare occasions) to be put together to found and profit from new business ventures. More on that soon.
  1. PARTNERS to work with me on developing and designing (CAD and prototype designs) my inventions and app designs.
  1. GAME DESIGN PARTNERS who can take the games I’ve designed and/or written and either build physical products out of them or in the case of computer and video games program basic builds that we can use to pitch to game studios.

 

A brief word of explanation on the above:

Beta Readers – I tend to write my fictional works, short stories, and novels in the following genres: children’s stories, detective and mysteries, espionage, fantasy and myth, historical fiction, horror, and science fiction. My current novel is a high fantasy/myth about Prester John and the Byzantine Empire. I tend to insert a lot of historical and literary references into most of my works. I would not expect my Beta Readers to provide me with detailed critiques or edits, though if you wished to do so that’s up to you. I’m really just looking for basic opinions and do you like the plot, stories, works, etc., and do you have any advice for improvements? As I said I’m open to favor exchanges and free copies of my works.

Also, when it comes to my songs I write the lyrics but I have no real time right now for composing. If you are a composer or lyricist and you wish to enter into a song-writing partnership with me then we will split the credits and your contributions and shares of any successful songs will be protected by contract.

Literary Agent – I want a literary agent with a wide range of interests and one with whom I can develop both a professional relationship and a personal friendship. (I much prefer doing business with people I enjoy.) I want a literary agent who is ambitious, as I am, and one who can help me make my writings successful so that we may both profit handsomely.

Employee Team – more on this later but I’m looking for a good employee team as well as a strong, tight, efficient, and profitable team of administrators, managers, and officers.

Business Builder/Investor/Investment Team – more on this later but I need good people from all areas/sections of the country, and possibly members from outside the US, who can look realistically at start-ups and help develop and fund them into successful enterprises. Backgrounds in brokerage, business building and development, communications, entrepreneurship, investment, and deal-making most desired. But we can also look at other backgrounds. Realistically risk will be high, and loss always possible, but profits should be considerable on successful ventures. This will be both a business creation and development and investment team, sort of like an Investment Club but with a far wider range of interests and with more hands on developmental involvement.

Invention Partners – partners in design and prototyping and product development. We’ll start out with my inventions and maybe yours as well and possibly graduate to taking stakes in other inventions and related businesses if the idea seems solid and viable.

Game Design Partners – people who can take my game designs, and your own, and build programs or physical products out of them. Depending on how much you contribute we’ll take profit shares on sales of the games, regardless of whether it is by the game or we sell the designs outright. As with the inventions your work will always be attributed in the design and protected as a share of profit by contract.

Finally you should know that in working with me my very basic and fundamental Worldview is that I am a Christian by religion, spirituality, philosophy, and nature, a Conservative (with some strong Libertarian leanings) in cultural and political and social matters, and a Capitalist when it comes to economics and monetary affairs.

Therefore I am a disciple and proponent of the teachings of Christ (Truth, Justice, Personal Honor, Honesty, and Fair Treatment of all based on individual behavior are extremely important to me, and I tend to like Charity and Philanthropy), God is my mentor and my best friend, I am Conservative in nature and very much believe in Hard Work and Personal Effort and Individual Initiative and Self-Discipline, and I am pro-Business, Development, Entrepreneurship, and Wealth. I also like to see people exploit their own talents and benefit and profit thereby. I set extremely high goals for both myself and others, and I expect much, but think I am fair and just to work with. I do discriminate and unapologetically so, but not regarding matters of background, class, race, or sex. I only discriminate between good and bad behavior, and between industry and laziness. As a boss or partner I will not long endure intentionally bad or destructive or self-destructive or foolish or apathetic behavior. I am not at all bothered by failure if you seek to improve and advance the next time.

If that all sounds fine by you and you are interested in any of these ventures then please contact me via email or by my Facebook or Linked-In pages or through my blogs or other webpages. We’ll begin Work.

NEW BUSINESS PROPOSAL – BRAINSTORM

Much of my morning will be spent writing up my proposal for a new business project and the functional and operational structure of the business itself. Or, to be more accurate, transcribing my formulation notes into a proper form for developing the body of the actual proposal.

Later today, in the afternoon, I’ll be devising much of the pitch, assessing the projected financials (it should be able to generate more than one income/revenue stream, and should be able to be funded in more than one way), and so forth.

By the end of the week I plan to present the idea to some potential partners and maybe even an investor or two.

I’m looking forward to this as it is an excellent idea and in a field/industry that interests me a great deal.

12 PROFITABLE DOCUMENTARIES

12 documentaries on Netflix that will make you smarter about business

Freakonomics documentaryScreenshot from Netflix“Freakonomics” looks at how economics explain what motivates people.

Here’s a quick and fun way to enrich your business knowledge: streaming documentaries on Netflix.

The online movie and TV service has a vast cache of business and tech documentaries that anyone with a subscription can watch instantly. The topics range from profiles of great tech innovators like Steve Jobs to deep dives into industrial design.

Each of these 12 documentaries offers an entertaining storyline, as well as valuable insights into business success.

Alison Griswold contributed to an earlier version of this article.


How lifelong dedication and obsession with quality can pay off

Jiro Dreams Of Sushi” profiles Jiro Ono, a Japanese sushi chef and restaurant owner who is widely revered for his skill and $300-a-plate dinners. It follows the 85-year-old master as he works with vendors to secure the finest ingredients, manages and mentors his staff, and prepares his son to succeed him when he retires. The movie brings viewers inside the dedication, obsession, and decades of hard work it takes to achieve perfection.

The best tricks to transform your life

The best tricks to transform your life

TED

TED Talks: Life Hacks” is a collection of 10 popular TED lectures that offer tips and insights for success in life and business. You’ll learn body-language secrets from Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy, research-backed productivity tricks from positive psychology expert Shawn Achor, and more.

How to stage a dramatic turnaround

How to stage a dramatic turnaround

Screenshot from Netflix

Inside: Lego,” a short 2014 film by Bloomberg, takes viewers inside one of the greatest turnaround stories in recent history. Lego, the Denmark-based toy maker, was in trouble in the early 2000s. It had overextended, lost its identity, and was bleeding money. After executing CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp’s strategy to refocus on the core business, Lego rebounded to become the world’s fastest-growing toy company.

How to adapt constantly to stay relevant

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” takes viewers deep inside the business of the late Joan Rivers. After following the comedian for a year, filmmakers reveal the highs and lows of Rivers’ decades-long quest to stay relevant. What does it take to get to the top and stay there? From meticulous organization systems to her willingness to take any job to make sure her staff got paid, the movie shows the fierce determination necessary for success.

How to make decisions under enormous pressure

Few people know pressure better than Hank Paulson, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs and the US Secretary of the Treasury during the height of the financial crisis. “Hank: 5 Years from the Brink” explores the momentous task Paulson was handed in September 2008 — saving the global economy — and how he dealt with it.

The psychology behind great industrial design

The items you think the least about may have the most effective designs, according to the 2009 film “Objectified.” Take the Post-it note. Have you ever considered that someone put a lot of time into its appearance? The movie explores the unconscious but influential relationship we have with the objects around us, and why the smallest tweaks in design make an enormous difference.

How to rise to the top of an ultra-competitive industry

If you’ve ever thought about starting a restaurant, Danny Meyer knows a thing or two about success in the business. “The Restaurateur: How Does Danny Do It?” offers a behind-the-scenes look at Meyer, the New York City restaurateur and man behind Shake Shack and Gramercy Tavern. The movie shows how Meyer’s philosophy of putting great food first launched his career.

How early venture capitalists helped build American tech giants

Something Ventured” portrays some of the most successful and prolific venture capitalists, who through genius or luck made big early-stage bets on tech companies like Apple, Google, Atari, and Intel. For a crash course in venture capital or a modern business history lesson, this 2011 documentary shows how entrepreneurs partnered with investors to build some of the greatest American companies.

Behind the scenes of the business world’s biggest scandal

Behind the scenes of the business world's biggest scandal

Screenshot from Netflix

The 2005 documentary “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” is a cautionary tale. It’s a deep dive into the fall of Enron, the energy company that was at one point valued at $70 billion but filed for bankruptcy in 2001. It’s become one of the most well-known cases of financial corruption and accounting fraud, and this film explores the psychology behind and fallout of the collapse of an empire.

Why showmanship and great marketing is just as important as the products you sell

Steve Jobs was one of the most revered entrepreneurs and designers of our time. In the PBS documentary “Steve Jobs: One Last Thing,” the filmmakers trace Jobs’ inspiring career and lasting legacy in technology and retail, as well as his legendary product presentations.

How Silicon Valley became a hub of innovation

How Silicon Valley became a hub of innovation

Screenshot from Netflix

The 2013 PBS documentary “American Experience: Silicon Valley” chronicles the beginning of the modern technology age. It follows a group of eight technologists who took a risk and decided to start their own company in 1957. It’s a telling look at the history of the Valley and the birth of a culture characterized by openness, innovation, and idealism.

How economics explain what motivates people

Why do people do the things they do? “Freakonomics,” a 2010 film based on the book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, explores the scientific and economic concepts behind human behavior. It will open your eyes to what motivates your customers, employees, and coworkers.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/netflix-business-documentaries-to-watch-instantly-2015-5?op=1#ixzz3bp4Fratp

THE BIOGRAPHY – BRAINSTORM

This exercise might be critical to your success

For inspiration, motivation, and amusing historical anecdotes about the lives of famous people, we turn to the biographies of others.

But according to Aliza Licht, SVP of global communications at Donna Karan International and author of “Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job. Kill It in Your Career. Rock Social Media,” there’s an essential biography that never makes the best-of lists — and it could be the most critical for your future success.

There’s just one caveat: you have to write it first.

A few years back, Licht needed a bio for something, and the process of writing it actually changed the way she saw herself. Now, it’s one of the exercises she recommends to everyone — and recent research suggests she might be onto something.

In one study from Stanford, married couples who wrote about conflicts in their relationship as though they were neutral observers showed “greater improvement in marital happiness” than couples who didn’t reflect in writing.

In a different study from Ohio State University, people were better able to perceive personal progress when they narrated embarrassing moments from their lives in third person.

In other words, the way we tell ourselves our stories matters — and Licht isn’t alone in thinking so.

Aliza LichtGerardo SomozaAliza Licht.

To be clear here, she’s not saying you should be writing a 300-page retrospective of your life and choices — at least for the purposes of this exercise — and she’s also not talking about a high-concept version your three sentence LinkedIn blurb. Imagine you’re a journalist writing a profile, Licht advises. It’s just that the subject of that profile happens to be you — and you’re the only one that needs to read it. (That’s why it’s a “biography” and not an “autobiography” — as much as possible, you want to be outside yourself.)

“It’s such a great lesson in self-reflection, and I think it can really help a person get outside of themselves for a minute.” In the book, she describes it as an “out of body experience,” key to taking stock of where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and where you might be going.

Here’s how it’s done:

1. Write in the third person. Not only is it more effective — pretending you’re not yourself gives you something much closer to an outside perspective, she says — it’s also more comfortable. “It is so awkward to talk about ourselves,” Licht acknowledges. Switching from “I” to “she” can be freeing.

2. Be thorough. You contain multitudes (and so should your bio). Things to cover: education, career path, jobs and titles, hobbies and passions, talents and awards, affiliations (charities, societies, groups), personality, physical attributes, and family status. The total effect should be an “aerial view,” she tells Business Insider.

3. Read it back to yourself. Evaluate the person you’re reading about like you aren’t you. Do you like you? Would you hire you? Is the story you’re telling about yourself the same story someone could piece together by Googling you?  Is that the story you want told? The goal is to get an honest assessment to help you figure out what you’ve got — and what you might be missing.

“The best thing that can happen is you don’t like it,” Licht says. “Because if you don’t like it, you have the power to change it.” That’s why she thinks the exercise is especially critical for people who are “consistently getting the door shut on them when they apply to places.” If doors keep closing, then something isn’t working. The bio can help identify what that something is.

And if it feels a little unnatural? That’s fine, she says. “I don’t think it’s natural to constantly think ‘how am I doing? What do people think about me?'” Licht points out. But then, that’s the point. “You kind of have to make yourself sit down and do it.” The effort is worth it, she says.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/why-you-should-write-your-biography-2015-5#ixzz3bNyMY7xM

SUCCESS AS ACHIEVEMENT

I concur with this assessment.

7 ways highly successful people achieve more

ProductivitySebastiaan ter Burg/FlickrThey can do their best even on their worst day.

LinkedIn Influencer Jeff Haden published this post originally on LinkedIn.

Some people get more done than others — a lot more.

Sure, they work hard. And they work smart. (While “smarter, not harder” is fine, smarter and harder is way better.) But they also possess a few other qualities that make a major impact on their performance:

1. They do the work in spite of disapproval or ridicule.

Work too hard, strive too hard, appear to be too ambitious, try to stand out from the crowd… and the average person resents you. It’s a lot easier and much more comfortable to dial it back and fit in.

Pleasing the (average-performing) crowd is something highly productive people don’t worry about. (They may think about it, but then they keep pushing on.) They hear the criticism, they take the potshots, they endure the laughter or derision or even hostility… and they keep on measuring themselves and their efforts by their own standards.

And, in the process, they achieve what they want to achieve. (Which is really all that matters.)

2. They accept that fear is an expected element in the process.

One of my clients is an outstanding — and outstandingly successful — comic. Audiences love him. He’s crazy good.

Yet he still has panic attacks before he walks onstage. He knows he’ll melt down, sweat through his shirt, feel sick to his stomach. That’s just how he is.

So right before he goes onstage he takes a quick shower, drinks a bottle of water, jumps up and down, and does a little shadowboxing.

Sure, he’s still scared. He knows he’ll always be scared. But he accepts it as part of the process — and has developed a process to deal with it.

Anyone hoping to achieve great things gets nervous. Anyone trying to achieve great things gets scared.

Productive people aren’t braver than others; they just find the strength to keep moving forward. They realize dwelling on fear is paralyzing, but action naturally generates confidence and self-assurance.

3. They can do their best even on their worst day.

Norman Mailer said, “Being a real writer means being able to do the work on a bad day.”

Extremely successful people don’t make excuses. They forge ahead, because they know establishing great habits takes considerable time and effort. They know how easy it is to instantly create a bad habit by giving in… even “just this one time.” (Because once you give in, it’s rarely just one time.)

4. They see creativity as the result of effort, not inspiration.

Most people wait for an idea. Most people think creativity somehow happens. They expect a divine muse will someday show them a new way, a new approach, a new concept.

And they wait, and wait, and wait.

Occasionally, great ideas do just come to people. Mostly, though, creativity is the result of effort: toiling, striving, refining, testing, experimenting… The work itself results in inspiration.

Highly productive people don’t wait for ideas. They don’t wait for inspiration. They know that big ideas most often come from people who do, not people who simply dream.

5. They view help as essential, not a weakness.

Pretend you travel to an unfamiliar country, you know only a few words of the language, and you’re lost and a little scared. Would you ask for help? Of course.

No one knows everything. No one is great at everything.

Productive people soldier on and hope effort will overcome a lack of knowledge or skill. And it does, but only to a point.

Highly productive people also ask for help. They know asking for help is a sign of strength — and the key to achieving more.

6. They start…

At times we all lack motivation and self-discipline. At times we’re easily distracted. At times we all fear failure — and success.

Procrastination is a part of what makes people human; it’s not possible to totally overcome any of those shortcomings. Wanting to put off a difficult task is normal. Avoiding a challenge is normal.

But think about a time you put off a task, finally got started, and then once into it, thought, “I don’t know why I kept putting this off — it’s going really well. And it didn’t turn out to be nearly as hard as I imagined.”

(That’s no surprise; it’s always easier than we think.)

Highly productive people try not to think about the pain they will feel in the beginning; they focus on how good they will feel once they’re engaged and involved.

So they get started…

7. …and they finish.

Unless there’s a really, really good reason not to finish — which, of course, there almost never is.

Read more: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/7-ways-highly-successful-people-achieve-more-how-you-can-jeff-haden#ixzz3aAH2WEcI

THE SACRIFICES – BUSINESS OF BUSINESS

I’m always thinking about Work (not just business, though that’s part of it, but all of my Work – business, careers, inventing, writing, etc. which short of God and family are my most interesting and vital concerns), and I constantly go without sleep.

The rest of these to a slightly lesser degree, but I know exactly what the man is saying and why.

5 tough sacrifices every entrepreneur must make

richard bransonDavid McNew/GettyRichard Branson.

Every entrepreneur starts out with big dreams and excitement.

As an entrepreneur, you control your own destiny, and with the right ideas, the right skillset and unflinching dedication, you can build wealth or establish an enterprise to serve as your legacy.

This is the bright side of entrepreneurship, but unfortunately, there’s also a darker side.

The rigors of entrepreneurship demand sacrifices, and if you don’t make those sacrifices you’ll never be able to succeed. Business is, at its core, a give-and-take process. The more you invest, and the more you’re willing to part with, the more you’ll reap in rewards in kind.

Related: 5 Reasons Entrepreneurs Burn Out and Quit

These are the five sacrifices that every entrepreneur needs to make:

1. Stability

You’re starting a new venture, and there’s no guarantee you’re going to succeed. The foundation of your company, even if your idea and plans are solid, is rocky at best, and there’s no telling which direction your business is headed until you’re several months, or often much longer, into running things. If you haven’t already sacrificed a comfortable, well-paying, stable job to follow this route, odds are you’ll have to sacrifice some other kind of stability before you can move forward.

Entrepreneurship is, by nature, an unstable path to follow. Don’t be surprised if you encounter multiple, unpredictable shifts in your fortune as your work progresses. It’s natural and part of the process. Eventually, if you work hard with a clear vision, things will stabilize.

2. Work/life split

When you become an entrepreneur, the lines between your working life and your personal life will blur. You’ll start thinking about business even when you’re away from the office, sometimes because you want to and sometimes because you can’t help it. You’ll also get calls and emails urgently needing your attention because you’re the boss and there’s nobody else to answer them.

Your downtime will become “light” business time, but the flip side is that your time in the office will feel more like personal time because you’ll want to be there. Remember, it’s still important for you to balance your work priorities and your personal ones — always make time for your family and your mental health — but the firm split between personal and professional time is going to go away no matter how you try to handle it.

3. Income

This goes along with the stability sacrifice, but for the first few years of your business, you’re probably not going to be making much money. In most businesses, entrepreneurs and their families end up investing heaps of their own money to get the business going. If this is the case for you, you’ll be making even more of a sacrifice since your potential safety net will be gone.

Related: Are You An Entrepreneur Or a ‘Wantrepreneur?’

Since you’ll be deciding where the money goes, you can set your own salary, but many entrepreneurs don’t even take a salary during their first several months of operations, at least not until there’s a steady line of revenue backing them up. Be prepared for this. You’ll need a strong marketing plan to overcome barriers to entry and gain a share of the market in your industry.

4. Sleep

Sleep is vitally important, but no matter how hard you try to preserve healthy sleeping habits, you’re going to sacrifice some sleep in order to run your business. In some cases, you’ll be pulling all-nighters to get that last proposal together. In other cases, you’ll be getting up super early to make a meeting or get all your tasks in order. In still other cases, you’ll be lying awake at night, restless and wondering about the future of your company.

Whatever the case may be, your sleeping habits are going to change when you become an entrepreneur, and you’ll have to make the best of them no matter how they end up.

5. Comfort

Being the boss of your own company means the buck stops with you. You’re going to have to wear dozens of hats, make decisions you’ve never made before and delve into subjects you’ve never before considered. Part of being an entrepreneur means stepping out of your comfort zone, often multiple times every day.

The most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who approach uncomfortable situations with confidence and a degree of excitement. Learn to thrive in uncomfortable environments, and you’ll find yourself much more at peace with your job.

Don’t think of these sacrifices as literal sacrifices. You’ll be giving something up, sure, but try to think of it as a type of investment. You’re giving up intangible luxuries in exchange for something better down the road. You’re paying for the opportunity to find success in your own enterprise, and your sacrifices will be rewarded many times over so long as you stay committed in your chosen path.

Remember, as an unidentified student of Warren G. Tracy said, “Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people cant.”

Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/245203#ixzz3ZwI6twTm

BLOGGING AND BRANDING – BRAINSTORM

Start Blogging, Start a Business, and Build an Authentic Brand

Bestselling author and successful entrepreneur Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere on building a thriving business.
IMAGE: Getty Images

Some months ago I published a post about commonly misused words. Several hundred thousand people read it, so it was reasonably popular, but as with most posts, in time the views slowed.

Then one day, seemingly out of nowhere, tens of thousands of people read it.

I did a little digging and learned that all those readers came from one small link in a post called “Links I Love” on the fashion, food, and lifestyle inspiration blog Cupcakes and Cashmere. That’s far and away the most readers an external link has generated for one of my posts, including tweets from people with millions of Twitter followers.

So I did a little more digging and learned that Emily Schuman has done what countless other people have not been able to do: start a blog, create outstanding content with a unique voice and an authentic point of view, build a large and vibrant community, and turn that blog into a successful business. She’s partnered with retail brands, written a bestselling book, Cupcakes and Cashmere: A Guide for Defining Your Style, Reinventing Your Space, and Entertaining with Ease, will release her second book, Cupcakes and Cashmere at Home, this May, and later this summer will launch a line of products.

So I asked Emily how she did–and does–it.

Tell me where the idea came from, what you were doing at the time, what your hopes were.

I started my blog in 2008 as a purely creative endeavor. I was working in online ad sales at the time, which was a good job, but didn’t provide any sort of outlet for creativity or cover any of my passions, which are fashion, food, beauty and home decor.

I didn’t have any specific goals or ambitions, other than to document ideas and create simple content that I enjoyed and perhaps a handful of others would appreciate. Over the first six months I noticed a slight increase in traffic, which led me to think I might be able to earn a little extra income to supplement my normal salary.

Early on, what challenges did you face and what mistakes did you make?

One of the biggest challenges I faced early on was trying to do everything by myself, rather than delegating or working with other skilled people. I’m not tech savvy, so when my site would crash or I wanted to add a new feature I would spend hours looking up tutorials and sloppily coding pieces into the backend of my site… which would often make things worse.

I eventually turned to people (specifically my then boyfriend, now husband) to help find support for the growing site. Thankfully he worked in the digital media space and called in a few favors, but I definitely learned you can’t build or run a successful enterprise singlehandedly.

How did you differentiate yourself in such crowded space?

One advantage I have is longevity. I started my site when blogging (specifically fashion/lifestyle) was still a nascent area of media, so the fact that I’ve been doing it for over seven years has provided a little bit of legitimacy. I’ve also evolved over time, so rather than focusing on the same content I’ve tried to diversify and expand on the categories I cover.

A lot of the readers have grown up with me, so there is a very personal connection we share and they relate to a lot of the experiences I’ve showcased (like getting married, buying a home, having a baby) that provide a more authentic experience than simply sharing pretty photographs.

Lastly, consistency is key. I haven’t missed a post in seven years, so readers know there will be something new each morning… and I’ve heard from a lot of them that they love starting their day with a cup of coffee and reading the latest post.

Tell me about your overall theme, “aspirational meets attainable.” Intuitively I get it, but I would think striking that balance is tough.

This has been the core idea of the site since day one primarily because I wasn’t making a lot of money–so my goal was to create a lifestyle that felt elevated without draining my bank account. (A lot of this stemmed from my experience at Teen Vogue where I was exposed to a mix of amazing designers and media that was semi-relatable but simply out of reach.)

As my business has grown and I’ve been lucky enough to increase my income, I’ve worked hard to maintain the tenets of the “attainable” tone, primarily through the data we’ve collected. We know the price points readers respond to, we know the retailers they prefer… so while not every piece of content will resonate, we make sure most of what we put out is in line with what people expect to see and makes them feel comfortable.

There are a lot of blogs that suddenly change their tone or content once they begin to grow, but I feel a big part of my long-term success is built on knowing the audience and not straying from the core messaging.

How do you decide on your topic mix? You have food, clothing, household items, career advice, fashion…

Every topic is based on something I’m passionate about, but we also have a set editorial calendar to make planning easier. This has evolved and been refined over the years, based on audience response, but we look at it kind of like TV programming (i.e. Monday = Fashion & Decor, Tuesday = Food & DIY, etc.)

I think consistency and knowing what to expect on a certain day gives the audience a sense of comfort.

You make your living with your blog, which means partnerships and advertising. A great offer from a potential advertiser has to be tempting, even if it isn’t great for your brand or your audience. It’s always tough to turn away revenue.

As with many bloggers in this category I receive dozens of advertising opportunities each week, almost all of which I don’t accept.

However, the advertisers I do work with are a natural fit for the content we’re producing; you wouldn’t see me driving a Hummer in a post.

That’s not one of the advertisers I’ve turned down, but I have had offers from companies who clearly have never read my blog and have offered a lot of money to integrate a product into the site, regardless of whether their audience was even remotely aligned aligned.

You get dozens and often hundreds of comments on every post. Why do you think your audience is so engaged?

I don’t mean to sound redundant, but consistency and authenticity are the key elements to building an engaged audience.

The readers have built an emotional connection with the site and ultimately they look at it as more than just some text and words. I’ve had people approach me on the street and say, “You’re Cupcakes and Cashmere,” rather than calling me by my name, so there is sometimes a disconnect between the brand and myself… but either way, the connection is real and they relate to what I’m creating.

You’ve published one bestselling book and have another book in the works. How have you leveraged your online presence to offline products and ventures? And do you have a longer-term strategy?

My second book, Cupcakes and Cashmere at Home, comes out on May 19 and I can’t wait to share some of my favorite interior design and entertaining tips.

I’ve been working with a licensing agent for the past two years to explore and expand retail opportunities with the brand and we’re actually launching a new product line this summer. I can’t say more about it yet but it is within one of the main categories I cover on the site. We’ve locked in two large retail partners (one is brick/mortar online, one purely e-comm) and we’ve been in the process of developing two other product lines within another category.

The long-term goal is to establish a successful line of branded products that benefit from the blog but are a stand-alone business.

Say I meet you in an airport lounge, find out what you do, and say, “I’ve always wanted to start a site on (my passion.) Any quick tips you’d give me, and common mistakes to avoid?

Tips:

  • Be patient with your goals since success will most likely come slowly, if at all.
  • If you’re creating original content, be prepared for it to consume a lot of your time.
  • For areas that you’re not skilled in, find great collaborators.
  • Get a basic understanding of the digital media landscape. Learn about analytics, do some research on advertising, and be able to speak about your audience value.
  • Be authentic and learn to differentiate yourself. Most likely the category you’ll cover is overly saturated with content, so you need to find a way to make your work stand out.

Mistakes to avoid:

  • Sacrificing quality over quantity. Your audience will be built on trust and the entertainment value you provide. If your quality slips, so will they.
  • Taking every offer that comes your way. At first it’s very tempting to accept offers from an advertiser, but ultimately, it degrades your credibility if you become an advocate for anyone willing to pay you. Be selective.

PRINTED CAR – BRAINSTORM

The Printed Car – Business Insider

Is this the future of manufacturing? To some degree I believe it is, although eventually I see many such items being grown rather than printed.

THE LESSON – THE BUSINESS OF BUSINESS

Last night, at our weekly Family Business Meeting important lessons were learned and important lessons were taught.

We had a half hour meeting to discuss old and new business and then I conducted an hour and a half meeting on stocks and successful stock investing, culminating in asking them to each have a profitable Blue Chip stock recommendation for me by next week in which they can invest. Also I asked for an assessment of which industry sectors most interested them when it came to investment.

This is hardly the first lesson they’ve had on investing, or even on stock investing, but it seems to have really sunk in quite well this time, for all of them. Most importantly my wife and children were able to correctly answer almost every question I put to them regarding stock investing. A superb omen for the future.

THE PIIN – BUSINESS OF BUSINESS

This is part of the Abstract and Introduction I wrote for a paper for the DHS on PIINs, a concept of my own. I am writing a much lengthier essay/paper (perhaps even a small book) on the same subject which will include information on how to form PIINs of various kinds and in different industries using the same basic techniques and procedures and networks.

I use these same principles in the development of all of my PIINs regardless or industry or purpose. Although each PIIN is modified to service the particular requirements of how it is constructed and what exact purpose it serves.

Although this is a little out of order for my publishing schedule I offer this post up as my Business of Business post this week.

 

First of all, let me summarize the nature of the PIIN. The Personal (or Private) Intelligence and Investigative Network, like all networks is almost entirely dependent upon a series of established contact points. This is both the strength of the PIIN and the inherent weakness thereof. Therefore it is imperative that high-quality and functionally useful, as well as accurate and practical contact points be created, assessed and reassessed, and maintained over time. This is true whether the contact point is physical, biological, communicative, informational, electronic, technological, or computational. Every asset is a tool and the quality and functionality of those tools are the essential elements in the creation, maintenance, and performance of your PIIN. The Value of any Network is circumscribed by the acute and chronic qualities of those components, which within themselves compose the actual circumference, and separate elements of that real network. If the components of the network are of inferior grade, if the contacts are defectively impositional or of little practical use, or if the contact points are weak or insecure then the entire network is suspect and prone to failure at any and every point of transmission. The PIIN therefore should avoid both obvious and subtle deficits at all times by being practically and pragmatically useful, flexible, adaptable, in a state of constant positive growth and change, accessible, composed of superior components and contact points, secure, and most of all accurate and reliable.

Each and every network is therefore dependent upon the depth and breadth of the human contacts established interior to and exterior to that particular network and subject to the limitations of accuracy and the quality and quantity of valuable information that network can generate. The first real action needed to establish any PIIN and to make it fully functional is the recruitment, development, and maintenance of quality contacts. Contacts are always of the most absolute importance in the establishment of any PIIN. In addition the nature and quality of those contacts should be viewed as central and formative to the capabilities of every other contact point in the configuration and to the network as a whole. After an initial establishment of contacts those contacts should be immediately vetted and/or tested for accuracy and quality. This process of discrimination should be both an immediate tactical and testable undertaking and a long-term strategic process of recurring verification and reverification. Do not expect any particular source to be always accurate, but do not allow any particular source to function in an important role unless it has proven itself capable of both consistent reliability and trustworthiness.

After establishing a few reliable and trustworthy contact points the network must grow in order to gain new sources of information and intelligence as well as to develop and generate new capabilities. Therefore always view already established contacts and contact points as generators of new contacts, informants, intelligence and perhaps even secondary and tertiary networks, or sub-networks. Consider as well every potentially useful new contact or acquaintance as a possible future contact point in your greater network. Contact points should also be capable of redundancy and potential verification of information and intelligence gathered from other points along the nexus and for information gathered from sources outside the network. This is to say that contact points are more than simple sources of information; they will also function as multi-capable nodes along the operational structure of the entire network. I will expound upon the importance of and briefly discuss some of the details regarding contact points later in this paper. For now it is important to remember that contacts and sources provide information and possibly intelligence, but contact points can potentially serve many varied functions, such as; information retrieval, intelligence gathering, analysis, communications, coding, encryption, decoding/decryption, collation, research, as reliable and secure relay points, as information nodes, computational capabilities, disinformation and misinformation dissemination, and even serve as a sort of network disguise, and misdirectional cover or front.

Constantly look for, search out and develop new contacts, contact points, information and intelligence sources, and informants in order to successfully grow your network. Your network’s ultimate effectiveness will depend upon both the quality and quantity of your contacts, contact points, and your contact’s network. In the initial stages of building and developing your network concentrate on the quality of your contacts and contact points, but in the larger and long term concentrate upon both the quality and quantity of those contacts and contact points which comprise the elements of your network. Always develop and maintain quality to the greatest degree possible within all elements of your network, but also always grow and encourage quantity in the most consistent manner possible throughout all aspects of your network. This will assure that your network has both great depth and breadth and that it is capable of the widest and most valuable range of flexible and functional capacities possible.

It does not matter what the major focus of your network is, what it is most well designed to do, what it in actuality best does, or what the functional intent(s) or objective(s) may be, this introductory advice applies equally well to any possible network you might desire to establish in any field of activity or enterprise. The PIIN is a potentially invaluable tool for both the amateur and professional alike, for both citizen and official agent, and no matter the function or objective, the real capabilities of any established PIIN will be determined by the inventiveness, innovation, flexibility, enterprise, imagination and quality of the component parts of the network. And those component parts are composed and arranged by the originator of the network, that individual who is responsible for first establishing the nature and parameters of the own individual PIIN. The originator therefore will establish the genesis of the network and how well it grows and develops in the initial stages, but as the network grows it will develop capabilities never earlier imagined by the originator and will eventually become functional in an almost independent sense, as long as quality contacts and sources are developed and as long as those contacts and sources continue to grow and establish new capabilities and contacts of their own. A PIIN begins therefore as an idea and individual construct but over time develops into an almost biological organization of vast complexity and capacity. Drawing upon the collective skills and capabilities of the PIIN for whatever is desired or needed makes the PIIN a worthwhile and profitable venture for all individuals associated with that network, and because of the potential for continued and even exponential growth the PIIN is an extremely advantageous system of achieving complex objectives rapidly and of multiplying capabilities well beyond the individual level.

Because of the limitations of space regarding this essay I cannot describe all of the potential advantages that would possibly be gained by the formation of individual PIINs, either those advantages that would be enjoyed by agents or officers in the service of some official organization, or those advantages that would be enjoyed by citizens who have formed and are employing their own personal PIIN. But the potential advantages would be numerous, and such networks could beneficially overlap, inform, and service each other in times of national emergency or crisis. More importantly, if such networks were allowed to “cluster” and interact/interface in an efficient, secure, and positive manner then they would serve as invaluable intelligence gathering and investigative tools for the anticipation of disaster and the effective prevention and thwarting of many forms of malicious harm intended by the enemies of the United States.

As just one small example of how PIINs would make highly effective and useful tools for the benefit of both the citizenry and the government let me outline this scenario. A hostile entity decides upon a coordinated and simultaneous cyber-attack against both the American civil government and the Pentagon. These attacks overwhelm official servers who are the obvious targets of offensive action. During such periods of particular and isolated cyber attack against governmental and/or military networks, or even during periods of general and on-going netcentric engagement or warfare the PIIN can act as an emergency secondary or redundancy system of information and communications exchange, intelligence gathering, an investigative force as to who is attacking, why, from where, and how, and for coordinating a necessary and effective counteraction or response. While main systems are under attack, disabled, or malfunctioning PIINs can serve as ancillary and even secretive means of continuing vital operations or responding to attack. It is relatively easy to attack and at least temporarily paralyze large-scale and centralized networks efficiently given the proper time, coordination, planning, resources, incentives, and information on system vulnerabilities, but it would be nearly impossible to simultaneously disable all small-scale private and personal networks. PIINs are the private enterprise of innovative intelligence and investigative networks.

Other examples of the potential usefulness of the PIIN are easy enough to construct, such as creating and fostering “bridging links” between individual citizens, law enforcement agencies, governmental entities, and the military. PIINs can also be used as investigative networks and resources, as research hubs, as communication nodes, as a pool of expertise (both amateur and professional), as an emergency system of collective and clustered capability, as a functional and ever growing database of information, as an ancillary or auxiliary analytical network, and as an exchange for valuable contacts, sources, and useful informants. Perhaps just as important to the overall value-added aspect of the usefulness of the PIIN is the fact that most PIINs can be constructed at little to no cost using already available personal, technological, and organizational resources. It is simply a matter of redirecting already available resources to the construction and maintenance of the PIIN, or of simply reformatting the way in which contemporary networks are thought of and how they currently operate, or fail to operate, effectively.

The next administration would do very well to consider encouraging the development of Private and Personal Intelligence and Investigative Networks throughout our society, and to encouraging the exploitation of such networks for the benefit of all the citizens of the United States of America.

 

 

CREATION AND DISCOVERY – INVENTION AND INVESTMENT

A very interesting perspective and one I agree with to a large extent. Actually I think one should set out to create a Brand – with a certain type of Vision, and adapt accordingly as one meets particular circumstances in and through the world. (Which is basically what he says later in the article.)

In other words one begins with a Vision and then discovers and develops as one goes along. It is not either/or, but both…

 

You Don’t Create Your Company’s Brand — You Discover It.
Matt Hanses

Contributor
Writer & Consultant

April 15, 2015

Over $500 billion is spent on advertising each year. The average American is exposed to an estimated 3,000 ads per day. Fifteen minutes out of every hour of television programming is devoted to commercials.

Branding: 2 Key Lessons in Brand Building

That’s a lot of marketing. And a lot of marketers. With six million companies in the United States alone, that’s a lot of people competing to get their message out. How do you stand out from the crowd? How do you get noticed?

This is where branding comes in.
What is branding?

Branding is the art of distinguishing a product or service from its competitors. It’s the term for creating a recognizable “personality” which people will remember and react to.

A company with poor branding is throwing away marketing dollars. Why? Because without a focused message, companies weak in branding are invisible. Nobody remembers them and they blend in. They become just another leaf swirling in the wind, amid all those marketing messages consumers see each day.

In marketing, the point is to actually reach someone, to connect. The way to do this is by focusing attention, not dispersing it.
Discovering your brand

Too often, people try to “dream up” a brand for their company. However, a brand isn’t something you dream up — it’s something you discover. Specifically, it’s something you have to discover about yourself.

True branding must be based solely on the mission and culture of the organization. When people try to create branding separate from the company itself, the result may be pretentious, clichéd or ambiguous marketing. It waters down the company’s message.

Instead, a brand should reflect the company’s business plan, its mission and values. It has to be authentic. Therefore, when you brand a company (or anything else for that matter), you’re trying to capture its core identity. You have to look past the clutter and opinion and distill its true essence. This is what you convey to consumers — your brand. And your fonts, your design, your writing — all aspects of your marketing — should all align with that central concept. Now, you have focus. Now, you have penetration, because you’ve conveyed your company’s identity by first discovering yourself.

Related: The Basics of Branding
The ingredients of a brand

While there is probably no foolproof formula for discovering a company’s brand, there are pathways to accomplish that. Consider the following points the “ingredients” that go into making an authentic brand:

Company mission. This is the most important element of branding. Your mission is the spirit of your company, it’s the beating heart of what you do. In fact, your brand can be thought of as the outward expression of your company’s internal mission. Think of it this way: Why does your organization exist? What is it there for? You have assets, employees, vendors, relationships and internal systems. . . but why?
Values. What’s important to your company? What do you stand for? Every company has certain ideals that define what it is and does. These ideals could be environmental, social or ethical or could be standards of quality Whatever your company’s values are, they’re the very center of why you’re unique and are a crucial part of your brand.
Culture. Each company in the world has its own ethos — a particular style or panache. Whatever you call yours, embrace it. There may be a million competitors in your market space, but there’s only one you. Your company’s group culture is part of the fabric of who you are.
History. Your history tells a lot about you. Look to the company’s founders to help define your identity today. What were their values? What were they trying to accomplish? Every company came from somewhere. Your roots are an integral part of your company’s brand.
Plans. When you look at your next 10 years, where do you see yourself going? Your business plan and marketing strategy both influence how you present yourself and should be included in your branding. If you’re going after an entry-level market segment, don’t position yourself as a luxury brand. Your brand must encompass your real-world objectives.
Consumers. This is really what it’s all about. Your customers are the reason you exist. What are their needs? What do they think? Understanding your customers is a vital part of branding. Because if you don’t know whom you’re talking to, why bother to say anything at all?

It might take a bit of soul-searching to get at the essence of what makes your company special. The trick is to take a clear-eyed look and see what’s actually there. Because every brand is beautiful, every brand is inspiring.

Each just has to be discovered.

 

UNFINISHED PROJECTS

Had a superb idea for a new on-line business venture (start-up) called Unfinished Projects. I’m going to be approaching some potential partners with the idea later this week.

At this point I am merely creating the design sketches and outline for the business, but in a relatively short period of time I could easily develop both business and operating plans.

SHEDQUARTERS

I think this is an absolutely superb idea, especially for small businesses. I wish I had thought of this product.

Introducing “Shedquarters”: The Hot New Trend Home-Based Business Owners Are Drooling Over

lighterside-staff-authorBy Lighter Side Staff  |  Read More
 

Space-efficient work spaces are becoming all the rage these days. They’re great for maintaining privacy and uninterrupted workflow, and they can also be cozy and stylish as well. Here are some examples of a growing trend of miniature studios (for offices and living structures), that are small enough to fit in someone’s back yard.

We’re fond of calling them, shedquarters. Whether you need your own getaway space, an office, an art studio, or a full on extra home, there’s something for everyone out there!

Kanga Room: Based out of Austin, Texas, Kanga Room has backyard studios in three styles: modern, country cottage, and bungalow. The basic package is an 8×8-foot shed that starts around $5,900 and you can add on a bathroom, kitchenette, and front porch for additional cost.

Via Apartment Therapy
Via Apartment Therapy

Modern Shed: This Seattle-based company was founded by husband and wife, Ryan Grey Smith and Ahna Holder. They create flat-packed prefab structures. Basic 8×10 sheds start at $6,900.

Via Apartment Therapy
Via Apartment Therapy
Via Apartment Therapy
Via Apartment Therapy

Weehouse by Alchemy Architects: The Weehouse Studio was designed by Minnesota’s Alchemy Architects. They start at 435 square feet, and include a main room and bathroom. It can be used as either a home office, guest house, or even a main residence.

Via Apartment Therapy

KitHaus: The KitHause was designed by Tom Sandonato and Martin Wehmann. It is a modular site-constructed prefab housing system. The K-Pod is the starting model and measures 117 square feet. They also have larger models.

Via Apartment Therapy
Via Apartment Therapy

Modern Spaces: “Forts for grown-ups!” Yep, that’s how they describe them. These come in four pretty boxy styles. A fully installed shed with a foundation and finished exterior starts at $6,000. On-site installation is currently only available to California residents.

Via Apartment Therapy
Via Apartment Therapy
Via Apartment Therapy

Loftcube: Werner Aisslinger designed these sheds to make the extra space on top of city skyscrapers more productive. He was able to fit a kitchen and bathroom within these 400 square foot glass-walled studios.

Via Apartment Therapy
Via Apartment Therapy
Via Apartment Therapy

Modern Cabana: The sheds from this San Francisco company start at 10×12 feet, but they have full studios with kitchens and baths. The basic model is perfect for a backyard office, with its sliding door.

Via Apartment Therapy
Via Apartment Therapy
Via Apartment Therapy

Metroshed: The MetroShed, by David Ballinger, is a prefab, flat-packed model that starts around $6,000. This a simple design is made of a cedar wood beam post frame with aluminum-frame sliding doors, and comes in 9×13 feet or larger.

Via Metro Prefab
Via Metro Prefab

Related article: ‘Pub-Sheds’ Quickly Becoming Hot Trend in Backyard Entertainment

THE STRUGGLE IS THE ACHIEVEMENT

Hiring Rule: How Elon Musk Screens for Real Experience

The best employees will be able to easily recall their struggles, says SpaceX’s CEO.

IMAGE: Getty Images

If your company frequently runs into complex-problem issues, it helps to be surrounded by a team of experienced problem solvers.

While that might sound overly obvious, the hard part is detecting this skill during the hiring process. You’ll want to make sure that your employees have cracked tough codes by themselves–not just by blindly following someone else’s instructions, says Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

That’s why, as a hiring rule, Musk asks job candidates to recall a problem they solved. Then he has them explain how they arrived at each and every step, up until the solution.

“If someone was really the person that solved it, they’ll be able to answer multiple levels. They’ll be able to go down to the brass tacks,” Musk said in an interview at Ignition, an annual Business Insider event. “Anyone who’s struggled hard with a problem never forgets it.”

Note that when a candidate says he or she was able to arrive at a conclusion by asking someone else or consulting a book, that’s a perfectly acceptable answer. Musk said this is exactly how he’s been studying rocket science for more than a decade. The grueling process has made him more confident in his abilities.

When you struggle with a problem, that’s when you understand it,” he said.

Published on: Mar 31, 2015

THE 20/88 PLAN

THE 20/88 PLAN

Today is the first official day of my Spring Offensive. I had planned to begin yesterday but a back injury prevented my proceeding.

In conjunction with my Spring Offensive I have developed a new Operational Plan for further building both my Businesses (including my inventions) and Careers (as a fiction writer, songwriter, and poet).

The new plan is what I call the 20/88 Plan.

It covers most all of my efforts during my current Spring Offensive. It is very simple in construction and should be simple in execution, though it might also possibly be somewhat time-consuming in execution, at least to an extent, depending on how events actually transpire.

I developed this plan as a result of my experience as a Contacts Broker and a Consultant. Basically it says this,

“Every month I will submit to 20 potential Agents or Contacts who will be able to help me achieve my ambitions. At the same time I will seek 8 Partners to work with me on various projects.”

Since I am basically pursuing Four Basic Fields of Endeavor, or Four Separate Types of Enterprises for my Spring Offensive that will equal twenty agents, new clients, etc. in each field, and two partners for each enterprise.

Four times twenty in each Field of Endeavor equals 80, plus the overall eight partners (two in each Enterprise) equals eight, and added all together equals 88.

Therefore 20 in each Field plus 8 partners equals 88.

If in the first month I fail to secure at least one agent or client or so forth in any given Field of Endeavour or at least one partner in any given Enterprise then I will just move on to the next list of 20 or 2 that I have prepared until I secure worthwhile, productive, and profitable agents or partners.

These are the actual details of my Current 20/88 Plan.

General Fields of Endeavor:

20 Agents Contacted (for my Writings)

20 Publishers Contacted (for my Poetry, Songs, and Writings)

20 New Clients Contacted (for my Business Enterprises and for Open Door)

20 Capital Partners and Investors Contacted (for my Business Enterprises, my Crowdfunding Projects, and my Design and Inventions Laboratory)

Enterprise Partners:

2 Songwriting Partners (composers primarily, since I am primarily a lyricist)

2 Publishing Partners (for my books and writings)

2 Business Partners

2 Major Capital or Investment Partners

THE NEW MARKETS ARE THE OLD MARKETS

At this point in my Business Career I am moving more and more back into the fields of Brokerage, primary Contacts Brokering, and Consulting.

Yes, I will still engage in Business and Copy Writing, especially as regards producing my own books and works. I will also still occasionally engage in Business and Copy Writing for some clients, old and new, if the project is interesting and profitable enough.

But more and more lately I feel myself being drawn back into the worlds of Brokerage and Consulting. The same for my company, Open Door.

So my new business emphases will lean more and more heavily towards Contacts Brokerage and towards Consulting, specifically with an aim towards Strategic Business Planning and Growth and Development.

Those will once again be my primary Business Markets.

In addition I will still be pursuing my Careers as an inventor, a fiction writer, and a songwriter.

Contact me if you are interested in pursuing projects of this type.

WORDPRESS AND THE SELF-CREATED CLASSIC EDITOR FIASCO

As many of you WordPress Users know by now WordPress has reduced their Classic Editor to an extremely hard to get locate set of complicated linkage maneuvers and basically replaced it with an extremely inferior “new” post editor. This has frustrated and outraged many WordPress Users, and with very good reason, especially since the problem was entirely self-created and would be extremely easy to resolve had WordPress either the foresight or the desire to do so.

But to me this points to any even bigger set of current problems in and with WordPress, those being: their total lack of response to user complaints both with the new editor and with a desire to return to easy access to the Classic Editor (and believe me it’s called Classic for a reason, they seem to be entirely missing their own definitional admissions), their willful attempt to avoid problem-solving (when this would be an extremely easy problem to resolve), and their apparent reliance upon an attempt to woo millennial and younger customers with hipster-huckstering tricks like a slick-looking and streamlined yet vastly inferior posting editor.

None of these things bode well at all for the WordPress Business Model.

WordPress is publicly displaying exactly how you do not run a business. Recently though, in an attempt to persuade WordPress to fully understand the type of business suicide they are committing by pursuing this entirely unnecessary course of action I have been participating in this thread and forum:

https://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/please-reinstate-the-option-of-choice-to-use-the-old-publishing-format?replies=692

If you too are bothered by the inferior nature of the new editor and would like to to see a return to easy user access of the Classic Editor then let your opinion be known.

Here was my first reply to this entirely self-created and easy to resolve fiasco:

For God’s sake this would be so easy to correct. A single line of code that allowed the user to choose by which method and editor he would like to make his or her post.

If this were the marketplace, or a business, the idea of imposing upon your customer, client, or user a choice they find distasteful, inefficient, and functionless would be suicide. And the idea of making your customer, client, or user wade through a large number of entirely pointless steps to correct a “problem” that should have never existed in the first place is utterly ridiculous and juvenile.

There is a certain distasteful arrogance to the modern Geek that borders on a desire to be a petty tyrant. Look ma, I’m powerful! Technology – BOOM!

This is simply a programmer or group of programmers with a month-long hard bone to gnaw, doesn’t matter whether it is infected and full of maggots or not. It’s his to gnaw and tough luck everybody else, get your own maggot-filled bone to gnaw.

In the time it took some code-writer or technician or board-monitor to read this complaint (or any of the other complaints on this easy to resolve matter) some clever code-writer could have devised a simple line of code to install at the top of the editor that allows the user to choose “Classic Editor” as their editor of choice. As a matter of fact a clever or smart code writer who cared about the end-user would do that very thing. Immediately.

Case closed.

This ain’t rocket-science boys and girls.

This is mere psychological and professional pettiness to make a juvenile point.

Bravo Einsteins. Technology – BOOM!!!

 

MARK CUBAN’S ADVICE

Simplistic, yet very sound and useful advice.

Mark Cuban’s 3 fundamental rules for running a business

Mark Cuban is the billionaire investor best known for his roles as a “Shark” and the owner of the Dallas Mavericks.

Throughout his career, he’s made over 120 investments, from large companies like Landmark Theatres to startups on “Shark Tank.”

For all of the businesses he’s been a part of, he’s developed a set of “rules that have been almost infallible,” he writes in his 2013 book “How to Win at the Sport of Business.”

We’ve summarized the three he’s used “religiously.”

1. Understand the difference between adding value and benefiting from a bull market.

In the same way that some stock market investors think they’re geniuses when they keep picking stocks that go up, failing to acknowledge that all stocks are doing the same thing, Cuban says entrepreneurs can fail to recognize that a good deal of their success is due to a fad or trend.

“There is nothing wrong with going along for the ride and making money at it, but it will catch up with you if you lie to yourself and give yourself credit for the ride,” he writes.

Cuban says that he saw this happen with professional sports leagues in the aughts. He says that many team owners became enamored with rising revenues from television rights deals, crediting it to their own “brilliance.” He says, however, that he and his Mavericks partners recognized that revenues were actually rising due to competition among cable and satellite providers. Cuban couldn’t become complacent.

“It’s a bigger challenge to recognize that the bull market may end and our programming needs to be of sufficient value to our customers and viewers for it to maintain or continue to increase in value,” he writes.

2. Win the battles you’re in before moving onto new ones.

Cuban writes that he had a chance to take Landmark Theatres international but that any time spent on developing a global presence was time not spent growing its national presence, and so he decided against it.

“You do not have unlimited time and/or attention,” he writes. “You may work 24 hours a day, but those 24 hours spent winning your core business will pay off far more. It might cost you some longer-term upside, but it will allow you to be the best business you can be.”

3. Don’t drown in opportunity.

“If you are adding new things when your core businesses are struggling rather than facing the challenge, you are either running away or giving up,” Cuban writes. “Rarely is either good for a business.”

Melissa Carbone, president of horror attraction company Ten Thirty One Productions, tells Business Insider that after the $2 million deal she made with Cuban on “Shark Tank” went public, she was flooded with partnership and investment offers, some of which were quite attractive.

Cuban told her to take a step back and not let emotions make her impulsive. She says she still hears Cuban’s voice in her head reminding her, “Don’t drown in opportunity.”

QUANTUM RECHARGING AND SPIN ALIGNMENT

I was charging my cell phone just now when I was struck with a great idea regarding the eventual miniaturization of things like quantum computing.

A charger and switch filter which doesn’t just charge your phone but does things likes control the flow of electrons so tightly that you can even arrange how the spins align on the battery or circuits to achieve things like spintronically aligned quantum computing and the room temperature mimicry of superconductivity.

Functions might be practically unlimited based on exactly how we could devise and design the actual control elements.

REFERENTIAL TREATMENT

Wise advice when referring to such enterprises.

In my opinion references are not only a two way street, they are a multi-lane overpass leading in so many possible directions that you never know where the road might eventually end. If it does end.

References should be looked upon the same way you look upon clients and employees, as Human Capital.

 

5 Things Super-Smart People Do to Prepare Their References

Great references can help you clinch a job offer or new client. So why not help them help you?
IMAGE: Getty Images

You’ve applied for a job or pitched a new customer. Interest seemed high, and you’ve provided a list of references in hopes of closing the deal. But do you know exactly what those references will say, and whether–even inadvertently–they’re failing to make you seem like a top contender?

Before you give a reference, your best strategy is to know exactly what that reference will say. And while it can seem awkward to prepare a reference for questions he or she may receive, that’s exactly what you should do. That advice comes from career counselor Peter K. Studner, author of the book and website Super Job Search IV. Here’s the approach he recommends:

1. Choose your references carefully.

You want your reference to not only sing your praises, but also support any claims you’ve made about your skills, or the qualities of your product and service. So try to choose people who’ve had specific experiences that will show you and your work in the best light. If you’re referring customers, look for those who can tell a good story about how your product or service solved a problem in exactly the way you want to promote. If you’re applying for a job, consider former managers–but also people you’ve managed and helped to mentor, particularly if you’re looking for a managerial position.

“In addition, put some thought into how your references might present you to potential employers,” Studner advises. “Effective references are good communicators who can discuss you and your work in an objective manner without exaggerating.” A reference who’s bad at communication, impossible to reach, or will offer an unnecessarily long-winded tribute might do you more harm than good.

2. Figure out how each reference can best help you.

An innocent comment about your personality or approach can easily raise a red flag with a hiring manager or cautious customer, so try to have as good an idea as you can of what your reference might say. If you can, set the stage by letting each reference know the specific skills or benefits of your product you would like them to mention. This might be different from reference to reference, and depending on the customer or job you’re seeking.

3. Meet with your references.

Ideally, Studner says, this should be an in-person meeting, but you can also talk by phone or video chat if that’s impractical. Keep in mind that, both for the meeting and for the reference itself, you’re asking someone to sacrifice their time–the most precious commodity any professional has these days. So use that time wisely, and express your appreciation.

4. Ask the tough questions.

That is, the same tough questions that a prospective customer or employer is likely to ask. An employer might ask why you left the company, what your greatest areas for improvement were, and whether they would hire you again. If you’re applying for a managerial position, they will ask about your leadership skills. They are also likely to ask who else in the company managed you–and then also contact these others and ask for their thoughts as well, even if you did not list them as a reference. Both you and your reference should be prepared for this question.

A prospective customer may ask about anything that went wrong with your product or service, whether they would purchase it again, and may also ask if your reference can refer them to any other of your current or past customers. They may also ask about any price concessions you made. Your reference should be prepared to answer all of these.

5. Keep in touch.

Don’t think of your references as a one-time need. They’re an asset to your career just like your resume or branding materials. So keep them in the loop about jobs you’ve applied for or customers you’ve pitched so they’re not caught by surprise when these companies get in touch. If appropriate, ask the reference to let you know if they’ve been contacted and how the conversation went.

Going forward, nurture the relationship. Look for opportunities to send your reference useful articles or make introductions that might benefit him or her. Remember that references can make or break your career. “Don’t treat references as an afterthought,” Studner says.

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