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.

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COHEN PREPARES

There are important lessons here about Career, and Art, and Life…
and Death.

 

LEONARD COHEN MAKES IT DARKER

At eighty-two, the troubadour has another album coming. Like him, it is obsessed with mortality, God-infused, and funny.

When Leonard Cohen was twenty-five, he was living in London, sitting in cold rooms writing sad poems. He got by on a three-thousand-dollar grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. This was 1960, long before he played the festival at the Isle of Wight in front of six hundred thousand people. In those days, he was a Jamesian Jew, the provincial abroad, a refugee from the Montreal literary scene. Cohen, whose family was both prominent and cultivated, had an ironical view of himself. He was a bohemian with a cushion whose first purchases in London were an Olivetti typewriter and a blue raincoat at Burberry. Even before he had much of an audience, he had a distinct idea of the audience he wanted. In a letter to his publisher, he said that he was out to reach “inner-directed adolescents, lovers in all degrees of anguish, disappointed Platonists, pornography-peepers, hair-handed monks and Popists.”

Cohen was growing weary of London’s rising damp and its gray skies. An English dentist had just yanked one of his wisdom teeth. After weeks of cold and rain, he wandered into a bank and asked the teller about his deep suntan. The teller said that he had just returned from a trip to Greece. Cohen bought an airline ticket.

Not long afterward, he alighted in Athens, visited the Acropolis, made his way to the port of Piraeus, boarded a ferry, and disembarked at the island of Hydra. With the chill barely out of his bones, Cohen took in the horseshoe-shaped harbor and the people drinking cold glasses of retsina and eating grilled fish in the cafés by the water; he looked up at the pines and the cypress trees and the whitewashed houses that crept up the hillsides. There was something mythical and primitive about Hydra. Cars were forbidden. Mules humped water up the long stairways to the houses. There was only intermittent electricity. Cohen rented a place for fourteen dollars a month. Eventually, he bought a whitewashed house of his own, for fifteen hundred dollars, thanks to an inheritance from his grandmother.

Hydra promised the life Cohen had craved: spare rooms, the empty page, eros after dark. He collected a few paraffin lamps and some used furniture: a Russian wrought-iron bed, a writing table, chairs like “the chairs that van Gogh painted.” During the day, he worked on a sexy, phantasmagoric novel called “The Favorite Game” and the poems in a collection titled “Flowers for Hitler.” He alternated between extreme discipline and the varieties of abandon. There were days of fasting to concentrate the mind. There were drugs to expand it: pot, speed, acid. “I took trip after trip, sitting on my terrace in Greece, waiting to see God,” he said years later. “Generally, I ended up with a bad hangover.”

Here and there, Cohen caught glimpses of a beautiful Norwegian woman. Her name was Marianne Ihlen, and she had grown up in the countryside near Oslo. Her grandmother used to tell her, “You are going to meet a man who speaks with a tongue of gold.” She thought she already had: Axel Jensen, a novelist from home, who wrote in the tradition of Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. She had married Jensen, and they had a son, little Axel. Jensen was not a constant husband, however, and, by the time their child was four months old, Jensen was, as Marianne put it, “over the hills again” with another woman.

READ ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE

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

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.

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 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.

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.

HARMONIZING BUSINESS AND CAREER – THE MARKETS

An interesting article.

But this is exactly why I have harmonized my Business (as a non-fiction writer and copywriter and inventor) enterprises and my Career (as a fiction writer and designer) ventures.

By having my Business and Careers complimenting each other I avoid the “I hate this job syndrome” (actually I very much enjoy everything I do) and I expect this will inevitably advance and accelerate both my Business and Career successes.

Whereas both sets of markets may by separate by nature, and operate differently to some degree, both are complimentary and entirely cross-fertilizing in the long run.

Vonnegut Sold Saabs: 11 Author Day Jobs

Gabe Habash — August 5th, 2011


We all have that same romanticized image of The Writer: sitting alone, hunched over his/her desk, pen in hand, thinking deeply about Writing before putting the pen to the page and Writing. But, unfortunately, doing this for long stretches of time doesn’t pay the bills, and that’s why things like Sylvia Plath working as a receptionist in the psychiatric unit at Massachusetts General Hospital happen. Writers are normal people, too. Just how normal? Here’s a few of our favorite writer day job finds:

1. John Steinbeck was a caretaker and tour guide at a fish hatchery in Lake Tahoe, where he worked on his first novel and also met his future first wife, Carol Henning. She was a tourist on one of his tours.

2. Douglas Adams first thought of the idea for A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy while moonlighting as a hotel security guard in London.

3. Jeanette Winterson, in addition to driving an ice cream truck, was a make-up artist at a funeral parlor.

4. Dashiell Hammett was hired by the Pinkerton Detective Agency as an “operative” at age 21. His job description included staking out houses and trailing suspects. He was thankful for the work; his previous job had been a nail machine operator.

5. Robert Frost changed light bulb filaments in a factory in Massachusetts shortly before he sold his first poem, “My Butterfly: An Elegy” in 1894 for $15.

6. Kurt Vonnegut was the manager of a Saab dealership in Cape Cod, after he’d already published his first novel, Player Piano. The dealership was supposedly Saab’s first in America.

7. Jack London was an “oyster pirate.” At night, he would raid the oyster beds of big-time oyster farmers and sell them in the Oakland markets.

8. Jean Rhys, a 23-year-old and in need of money, posed nude for a British artist.

9. James Ellroy led a life of petty crime and shoplifting as a wayward youth, most likely as a response to his confusion following his mother’s unsolved murder.

10. Harper Lee struggled when she first moved to New York at age 23, working as a ticket agent for Eastern Airlines before befriending Broadway composer Michael Martin Brown. In 1956, Brown gave Lee a Christmas present: a year’s wages so she could devote herself full-time to her craft. During this time, she began work on what would eventually become To Kill a Mockingbird.

11. Ken Kesey, in order to earn some extra cash, was a guinea pig for the psych department at Stanford in a CIA-sponsored drug experiment. As a result of the drugs, Kesey had hallucinations of an Indian sweeping the floors, which compelled him to write One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Which mundane (or strange) day jobs for writers have we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

 

NEW PUBLICATION SCHEDULE

NEW PUBLICATION SCHEDULE

Recently I have been involved in a number of different projects that have left me little time for blogging. I have been writing the lyrics for my second album, Locus Eater, I have been writing and plotting my novel The Basilegate, I have been putting together a crowdfunding project for one of my inventions and one of my games, I have been helping with and compiling material for my wife’s new career as a public speaker, and helping my oldest daughter prepare to enter college. In addition I have been speaking with and seeking a new agent. I have even been preparing a new paper on some of the work of Archimedes and what I have gleaned from it. Finally I have been preparing my Spring Offensive, which is now completed.

All of which have kept me extremely busy.

However I have not been entirely ignoring my blogging either. In background I have been preparing a much improved Publication Schedule for all five of my blogs, my literary blog Wyrdwend, my design and gaming blog Tome and Tomb, my personal blog The Missal, my amalgamated blog Omneus, and this blog, Launch Port.

Now that most of these other pressing matters are well underway and on an even keel this allows me more time to return to blogging.

So below you will find my new Production Schedule which I’ll also keep posted as one of the header pages on my blogs.

So, starting on Monday, March the 15th, 2015, and unless something unforeseen interferes this will be the Publication Schedule for this blog every week, including the Topic Titles and the general list of Subject Matters for that given day. That way my readers can know what to expect of any given day and what I intend to publish for that day. I will also occasionally make off-topic post as interesting material presents itself.

Launch Port – 10:00 – 12:00 AM

Monday: The Markets – Brokerage, Entrepreneurship, Markets, Marketing
Tuesday: Business of Business – Business, Entrepreneurship, Employment, Self-Employment, Start-Ups, Writing
Wednesday: Brainstorm – Reader Discussions and Commenting, Reblogs
Thursday: Invention and Investment – Innovation, Invention, Investment, Tools
Friday: Capital Ventures – Banking, Capital, Finance
Saturday: Reassessment – Reblog best Personal Post, Review
Sunday – Sabbath

NO MAN IS A CHAMILLIONAIRE UNLESS HE WANTS TO BE

I don’t know this guy from Adam, and I don’t care much for modern rap. But I will say this, many rappers (not all, but many) seem to have a good eye for business and turn out to be excellent entrepreneurs. So it is no surprise to me at all that they would turn their attention to or be involved in Capital Ventures and Start-Up operations.

So I say let the boy run as far as he can run, and Godspeed to his ventures.  Hope they are enormously successful.

And I fully and definitely agree with this sentiment on the part of the author of this article: No man should restrict himself to a single venture when he could master many.

 

Chamillionaire Is Now An Entrepreneur In Residence at a Venture Capital Firm

In a letter penned by VC Mark Suster explaining the head-turning week he’s had at Upfront Ventures in Los Angeles, he explains the presence of a new face around the office: Chamillionaire. The same Chamillionaire who was showing us how to get our respective shines on not a decade ago. But if Kanye has taught us anything, it’s that we can find success in multiple creative outlets. In the past five years or so, Cham has been quietly but actively involved in the tech startup scene, from speaking on social media engagement in the music industry to hanging out with Y Combinator associates.

He’s also been making some investments himself. He was one of the earliest investors in Maker Studios, an online video network founded in 2009 and sold to Disney for $500 million last year. The firm he’s currently hanging with and advising, Upfront Ventures, has a vast portfolio that includes some acquired startups such as Bill Me Later (Rick Ross may or may not have been referring to this method of monetary transaction on his verse for Nicki Minaj’s “I Am Your Leader”). Suffice it to say that Chamillionaire has transcended the days when he explained on YouTube how Michael Jordan sonned him, or maybe that was just an early example of his Internet savvy and ability to manipulate viral stories and plant social media engagement. At any rate, in a world in which Internet entrepreneurs like Ben Horowitz make business decisions through the inspiration of rap songs, it’s not surprising to see that we now have rappers getting their own piece of the pie.

We can all agree that Chamillionaire should be given a platform to speak at the next TechCrunch Disrupt conference.

 

 

ENTREPRENEURIAL CREDIBILITY

How to Build Credibility as a Young Entrepreneur
Selena Rezvani , Contributor

Any entrepreneur will tell you that startup life is not for the easily daunted. Rejection, product failures, and isolation are just a few of the tests that many entrepreneurs are put through on a routine basis. Add youth and inexperience to the list of things working against you—and you can see how a startup can seem like nothing but a harsh, uphill endeavor. Luckily, entrepreneurs tend to be more optimistic than other workers, a factor that keeps them pitching to prospects and looking for ways to prove their value.

As I gather my thoughts for a panel tomorrow on how to build credibility as a young entrepreneur, I’ve been reflecting on what has helped my partners and clients say “Yes” to the diversity consulting and training pitches I’ve put in front of them over the last five years. Mind you, even if it’s not your age that presents a credibility issue, some other factor (industry experience, knowledge of a certain product type, geographic reach) may put you or your business in an ‘underdog’ position.

Here are my top strategies for proving your worth, regardless of your age, experience level or other factors you’re being judged on:

Identify What’s Sacred To Your Customer: What quickens the pulse of the group you’re pitching to? What most excites them or eludes them regardless of their efforts? In my case, a focus on amassing lots of cutting-edge inclusion best practices and focusing on Gen X and Y women helped turn pitch meetings into signed contracts. Additionally, tying innovation payoffs to diversity efforts more often than not grabbed clients’ interest. Still, what ‘did the trick’ last year for many entrepreneurs won’t necessarily pay off now. Who can inform you about what this group cares about most now? What groups and discussions are they participating in on LinkedIn? What types of events or publications do they promote and with what angle?

Don’t Wait To Go After Whales: As a new entrepreneur, I pitched to top business programs around the nation to train their students on the lessons in my first book, The Next Generation of Women Leaders. Plenty of deans and career offices didn’t respond. But thanks to casting a big net, plenty of people said “Yes.” To my sheer delight—and admittedly, terror—the first client to invite me to speak was Harvard University. That wonderful opportunity served as an instrumental “door opener” for future pitches, helping me get into Princeton, London Business School, Duke and inside many large organizations. As a new entity, many people will advise you to start small or go after the “low hanging fruit.” Don’t. Aim high.

Borrow Credibility Where Needed: Many a deal has been closed thanks to a warm introduction being made early on. When a trusted professional enthusiastically introduces you to a corporate insider, you’re getting an endorsement, and therefore a chance, that others won’t. Even if you don’t have deep relationships inside the company, go through the exercise of asking yourself who in your network could act as a strategic partner or co-creator of a compelling pitch. Your partner may have age and experience you don’t, a value added service, a Fortune 500 company on their resume, or experience in a key area that you lack. I have personally benefitted from partnership and found repeatedly that two minds were better than one, especially in client meetings.

Forecast Future Success: Even if the vision for Year 3 of your business depends heavily on performance in Year 1 and 2, have a clear path forward to share with your clients. The fact that you may be adjusting your plans minute to minute is not going to be compelling to decision makers. In a large bid that a partner and I made and won, one of the last questions we were grilled on was, “Where do you see yourself making an impact in 3-4 years?” We had a ready answer about an exciting area of research we wanted to spearhead and how we’d devise services around our learning. How can you look ahead and create a vision for the future? Your prospect may not be looking for total certainty, but they need to know you have a strategy with future mile markers of value.

More than anything, if you want to get hired, you need to promote trust. Are you creating certainty that you’ll deliver ably on what you’re selling? Even more important, are you demonstrating to prospects that if you take a wrong step or a crisis erupts on their end, that you’ll have the kind of smarts and agility to correct your course of action or manage the change?

What has worked for you to build credibility? Would do you think that young entrepreneurs need to know most?

Selena Rezvani is a women’s leadership speaker, workplace consultant, and author of Pushback: How Smart Women Ask–and Stand Up–for What They Want. Connect with her at nextgenwomen.com and @SelenaRezvani on Twitter.

THE NEW DISPENSATION

I recently ordered new business cards in order to split off my personal writings (my fiction and my other non-business or non-client writings, such as general non-fiction, poetry, songwriting, etc.) from Open Door and my other business ventures.

Now I have two separate cards, one identifying me as an author and writer, the other for Open Door in my corporate colors. This seems to work a lot better and I suspect it will work better for the foreseeable future as well. I can now, therefore, run my Businesses and Careers as separate ventures, parallel but not overlapping.

I am still debating whether to branch off my Designs and Inventions from Open Door as an entirely separate division. That will be my next decision and step. That will be a decision primarily regarding Capital and Fund-raising. If so I will need to incorporate each division.

Also, in order to keep a steady supply of both sets of cards on hand and to meet the new demand I dispensed with my business card holders altogether and instead bought a wallet just to hold my new cards.

This also works much better.

Productivity! What are the secrets?

Productivity! What are the secrets?

productivity-tools

In every industry, competition and collaboration have increased and it has become more important than ever for people to be at the top of their game. YES, every day we are all obsessed by productivity. What are the Tools, Tips and Tricks?

  • The hardest part of staying productive is keeping yourself focused.

Focus on one task at a time and avoid thinking about other tasks. As your mind craves routine, make productivity a habit by planning your major tasks each day. Make time to disconnect from all technology, notifications and email to minimize distractions.

  • Keep your brain in shape.

You all know that a daily workout is a great way to keep your body and your mind in shape. Finding time for a morning run or exercise can help prevent the mid-afternoon productivity slump.

  •  Question every activity/distraction that you encounter during the day.

Ask yourself if you really need to do this activity and look for something else more important that you should be doing instead of this activity.

  •  Have a deep interest in what you do and enjoy it.

Chasing productivity is always a big challenge when you are always trying to find a better way to do things. So you have to have a deep interest in what you do and enjoy it, even when the schedule is crazy and demands a lot of productivity.

  • Figure out what your hourly rate is and compare everything you’re doing to that.

What helps you set your goals is having a clear understanding of what your priorities are and if you have a boss, understanding what theirs are and how yours align.

  •  Eliminate wasteful activity from your day.

Maximize your Return on Time invested (ROT) in everything you do and if something isn’t yielding a high ROT, then simply stop doing it or pass it off to someone else.

  • Finally you can always do more than you think you can do.

There’s only so much time in the day so getting things done is about quality and quantity. If you don’t have a routine, then create one. Wake up and get busy getting things done.

Productivity can be a very personal thing, so I encourage you to share your own tips with me.

Thanks for reading!
Sleep Better Now!

Best Regards,
G

REAL WORK

Being my own boss and working for myself from my home office is by far the hardest, most laborious, and most time consuming Work I’ve ever done. It is also, by far, the most enjoyable, lasting, meaningful, and profitable Work I’ve ever done. It is, in either case, Real Work, and a lot of it.

You should carefully plan for and prepare for all of the challenges expressed in the post below, and for many other difficulties not listed, such as the hiring of employees, and agents, growth and capitalization, emergency financing, supply and logistics, regulation, taxes, profit development and taking, investment, savings, wealth generation, etc, etc.

The author of this post is also very, very right about the dangers of becoming physically sedentary, weak, out of shape, and fat. Because of the immense work load and time demands of being self-employed your entire day might easily disappear without any thought of exercise or care for your physical body. You have to guard against that with a good exercise program of your own and you have to incorporate that exercise program into your daily work schedule in the same way you would make time for marketing.

5 Critical Things No One Tells You about Working from Home

Working from home seems like one of those magical jobs we picture ourselves doing as children – you sit around the house, get some work done, take as many breaks as you want, save money on transport, you don’t have to stress out about clean shirts or being late, etc. This is true to some extent and being your own boss can be a very enjoyable experience, but working from home is far from the idealized fantasy most people picture in their mind. Not having any direct supervision carries its unique set of problems that you will need to be prepared for. Some of these things don’t get mentioned very often, and although they are not necessarily deal breakers or meant to dissuade people from considering a career in freelancing, it is important to understand what you are getting into. Here are the five biggest points you’ll need to take into account.

You’ll need to have some money in the bank before starting a freelance career

Being a freelancer isn’t exactly a sure thing, nor can you expect to start making some serious money straight away. It takes time to set up accounts, look for clients, hone your skills and build up a reputation for yourself. Networking is also a big part of the picture. The point here is that it can take several months to start getting clients regularly, establish a decent reputation and earn enough money on a monthly basis to get by. It may even take a year to get to where you can pay the bills, feed your family and still have some money left over for a bit of luxury, all on your freelance wages. This is why it is important to treat the whole thing like a startup, rather than a career change or a nine to five job. Having enough start-up capital will enable you to support your family during the initial stages and invest in things like premium accounts and connections on major online freelance platforms.

It’s very easy to get lazy and out of shape

Not having to commute has its benefits like saving money on transportation and food and wasting less time on getting ready and traveling to and from the office. The negative side of it is that you won’t have any real need to leave the house much, if at all. Because you will be working and relaxing at the computer, you are at great risk of becoming a lazy couch potato. Once ordering takeout, walking around in your pajamas, beers during work hours and spending several hours at a time in a chair become a regular thing you can kiss your health and fitness goodbye. The only way to avoid becoming out of shape and having aching joints is to schedule regular workouts throughout the week, set up alarms to remind you to get up and stretch out every hour or so and to be very careful about what you eat. It’s incredibly easy to trick yourself into believing that you don’t rally eat that much, so having a salad or some fruit instead of a sugary snack or pack of potato chips and looking at a few nutritional labels here and there is very important.

You need to set up an effective work environment

If you just put your laptop on the table in front of the couch and call it your work station, you will soon lose all focus. You need a professional work environment, a home office that you can step into and clearly separate your work hours from leisure time. It doesn’t have to be much – a functional desk with a few drawers, a few notebooks and pens lying around, your computer and printer set up comfortably, a sturdy and ergonomic office chair and a lamp are enough. You can set up in a corner of a room, preferably near a window for some natural light, and add some decoration, perhaps a plant, so that it feels like an office desk, rather than a teenage gamer’s desk with a few work-related notes scattered around.

Being your own boss means constantly finding ways of staying productive and motivated

Even if you take all the precautions and create a truly professional-looking work environment, there will still be plenty of distractions – the internet you are using to look for new clients or do research being one of the biggest. You’re never more than one click away from Procrastination City, and you’ll need to work hard to stay motivated and keep your mind focused on the task at hand. Taking regular breaks to clear your head can help, and so can making coffee and remembering to eat regularly. Plastering reminders and motivational posters around your home office is another viable tactic, but ultimately, you will have to learn how to deal with distractions and have a short and stern talk with yourself at least 3-4 times a day in order to stay on track.

Getting organized and managing your projects efficiently is the key to success

Getting distracted, forgetting about a deadline, mixing up clients and miscommunication can all happen to any one of us, but when you’re working at home it’s much easier to get sidetracked or let your schedule become a chaotic mess. Start with the room you work in – keep it clean, spotless even, and make sure that everything has its place. Next, make sure that your desk and immediate work area are organized and that you know where to find everything, the most important things being within reach and easily accessible. Then get your work schedule in order. Get a big calendar, a whiteboard and sticky notes and make sure you have all the essential information about your current projects clear in sight when you sit at the desk, making sure to mark deadlines and have reminders and alerts. Being able to stay organized and juggle different projects effectively is the key to success for anyone working at home.

Working at home isn’t a walk in the park like some would imagine, and neither is it a one way ticket to a land of procrastination and broken dreams – you can earn a good living without ever living your house, but you’ll need to stay focused and deal with a few issues before you can become successful.

BOO-YAH!!!

Today I went out and finished buying the final pieces of my new hard file filing system.

Now all of my thousands of post-it notes, scribbled notes, torn out sheet notes, doodles and hasty idea sketches for my various writing, novel, poetry, invention, composition, business, and gaming projects are stored in their own separate storage containers and I can go through them one by one, without all the mess and mix-up.

Plus I can finally see my desk again, and finally have space for my new office equipment.

So there.

BOO-YAH!

Have a great weekend folks.

THE ADVOCATE OF ADVERSITY

Indeed. And I completely agree.

Malcolm Gladwell on Why You Need Adversity to Succeed

The best-selling author explains why coping with tough challenges as you start up will make you a much more successful entrepreneur.

Learning disabilities like dyslexia aren’t typically regarded as advantages, but for some entrepreneurs, being dyslexic has been a key part of why they succeeded.

That’s according to New Yorker writer and bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell, who, while researching his last book, David and Goliath, spoke to roughly two dozen dyslexic entrepreneurs.

“Their stories are all the same,” Gladwell says. “They don’t think they succeeded in spite of their disability. They think they succeeded because of it.”

While learning disabilities present unique challenges for individuals from an early age, they can also serve as what Gladwell refers to as “desirable difficulties,” or challenges that force people to learn new skills that prove extremely helpful later in life.

“They’re learning delegation, how to communicate with other people [and] motivate other people,” Gladwell says.

Successful dyslexic entrepreneurs that Gladwell points to include Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, JetBlue founder David Neeleman, and longtime movie producer Brian Grazer, whose dyslexia forced him to learn how to negotiate his way to getting better grades in school, according to Gladwell.

“By the time he hits college he’s brilliant at it, and then what does he do? He becomes a Hollywood producer, [which is] about negotiation, among other things, and he’s been practicing his entire life,” Gladwell says.

“In order to learn the things that really need to be learned we require a certain level of adversity.”

To hear more from the conversation, watch the video below.

Why Obstacles Can Improve Results

Certain obstacles that seem undesirable at first may ultimately help you get ahead.

ENTREPRENEURIAL PUBLISHING

Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing: What’s The Best Route For Entrepreneurs

Have you ever read a business book and thought, “I could write that,” or imagined publishing a business book that would catapult you to the front of your industry? You are in good company. Whether to help lift their business profile, get more speaking opportunities or become an industry trendsetter, many entrepreneurs wish to publish.

If you ever decide to take it a step further, you’ll likely compare self-publishing and traditional publishing as I did a few months ago. I checked in with fellow entrepreneur Dan Emery, of New York City Guitar School, who has self-published several guitar books. “I decided to use my own lesson plans instead of published lesson plans and somewhere around student one thousand, I decided to turn it into a book,” says Dan.

He was eager to design a curriculum that reflected the school’s uniquely friendly and positive approach to learning guitar that combines having fun with the science of deliberate practice. He quickly found out, however, that no publishers were interested in the book. That’s when he decided to publish it himself, which has turned into a successful endeavor for him.

When I first decided to write a book — about women entrepreneurs who are running multi-million dollar businesses — I wasn’t going to consider traditional publishing. But I went for a run with my old friend Paul Greenberg, who is an award-winning published author. He expressed outrage at my plan while we jogged along the Hudson. “You can’t to pay to write a book! You should get paid!” he admonished. I protested that I was not an actual author, like he was, and would never get a meeting at a publishing company, but he insisted I should at least try the traditional way before going the self-publishing route.

Paul put me in touch with his former editor, who was took a personal interest in my topic. She then offered to connect me with three of the top literary agents in New York. To my delight and surprise, all three said they wanted the book. That’s when I knew I was on to something. I chose as a literary agent Zoe Pagnamenta, an entrepreneur herself who owns a boutique agency where all her authors get terrific individual attention, and we were off to the races. We set to work putting together a 40-page proposal, which I wrote over my Christmas holiday last year.

EXCELLENT BUSINESS CARD EXAMPLES

Business Card Examples

W5855

Become a Branding Expert—OnDemand Design Webcast CollectioA couple of weeks ago, we brought you 14 of the best business cards in the biz, knowing we had only to reach out to designers and firms at the top of their game to get our hands on their business cards. Then we found 12 more of the best business cards created for clients.

Now, now we’re bringing you even more business card examples. This time, many readers sent in their cards and clients’ cards, and we threw those into the mix.

What do you think of these business card designs? Which would you call a great business card?


 

business card examples; Rule29

Designer: Justin Ahrens
Material/Production: Neenah Classic crest Solar White #100 cover; 3/3 with registered emboss and custom PMS
Printer: O’Neil Printing
Client: Rule29

 

business card examples; Nice Branding Agency

Designer/Client: Nice Branding Agency
Material: Silk cards with gold foil accents

 

3b

Designer/Client: Kevin Greene

 

4

Designer: Jocelyne Saulnier
Material: 16pt silk matte laminate, with a luggage tag die line
Printer: Jukeboxprint
Client: Front Porch Mercantile

 

5

Designer/Client: Jay Smith, Juicebox Designs

 

6 6b

Designer/Client: Chomp

 

7

Designer/Client: Antony Wilcock 
Material/Production: Duplexed Colorplan citrine and grey card—total weight 540 gsm, gloss foil one side and matt grey foil on reverse.
Printer: IST Printing Services

8


Designer/Client:
 Chad Michael
Printer: Studio On Fire
Photo by: Hannah Heinrich

 

9a 9b

Designer: Tom Davy, Ten2Two
Client: Bodymasters Gym and Nutrition

T7032

 

10

– See more at: http://www.howdesign.com/design-business/design-news/business-card-examples/#sthash.NbdJ2Ntp.dpuf

SURE YOU CAN from THE BUSINESS, CAREER, AND WORK OF MAN

If you want to be absolutely sure of what you can do then attempt what you think you can’t.

THE NATURE OF WORK AND PRODUCTIVITY

Work is a subject upon which I have spent much time, labor, and effort (pun intended). I have also spent much time studying Work, how it operates, how to improve my own productivity and the productivity of others, what it achieves, what the limitations of work may be, and so forth. Work is also a subject very dear to my heart, for I think Work is an extremely important aspect of human life. One of the fundamental aspects.

That being the case I’ll present my own views about Work and Productivity, which have changed over time as I’ve experimented with different work methods and with different means to increase my own productivity. Now I have to first admit, in the interest of fairness, that I do many different kinds of work and that each different kind of work may require a different method of efficiency and action (as regards the particular details). I suspect that is true for everyone, no matter what kind of work they do.

So, that being said, here are my general observations about work, how to be more productive, and the relationship between vacation and occupation.

1. People are supposed to spend far more time working than they are entertaining themselves. Or being entertained. That seems counter-intuitive in modern society, but it is true.

2. Most of the time it is better to work than to be entertained. Work is good for people and part of the expression of their soul, it is not just something you do for cash. If it is something you just do for cash you’re in the wrong line of work. (Nothing wrong with money, I’m not saying that, but money is just one kind of motivation for doing good work, it should not be the only motivation for doing good work.)

3. Good work is good for you, bad work is bad for you. Seems self-evident but you’d be surprised the people that never figure this out.

4. A certain percentage of your work time should be spent in a relaxed and casual mode, this helps you to problem solve, and then again a certain percentage of your time should be spent in a very serious even stressful mode – this helps you to focus and concentrate on the task. Percentages of work-mode activity will probably vary by individual.

5. Socializing all of the time at work makes you less productive and lazy. Socializing efficiently, or a certain percentage of the time, probably makes you more, not less, efficient. No man is an island, but no man should be nothing more than a social butterfly either. If you want to be a social butterfly, be that on your own time. At work socialize efficiently and casually, not obsessively and constantly.

6. Vacations are vital to help you recover from the stress of long or extended work periods. Take them, in moderation. I think a lot about work when on vacation, then again for some of my work, like writing and inventing, vacations are perfect times to get new ideas and to take notes. This doesn’t bother me at all, and makes my vacations far more enjoyable to me. But if you don’t want think about work at all on vacation, then don’t. But take vacations when you can. They are good for you. They help you recuperate and regain your energy and focus. They generate new ideas. They allow you to travel. They are beneficial. In moderation. Like wine is good for you in moderation. But drink all the time and you’re a lush and a drunk. Vacation constantly and you do nothing more than avoid work constantly. You’re slothful.

7. The same is true for entertainment. There is nothing wrong with entertainment. Enjoying yourself is very good for you. But there is something very, very wrong with the modern idea that you must be entertained at all moments of the day and night, even at work. Let a certain part of each day be reserved for entertainment. Otherwise do your work. And work before entertainment, certainly not the other way around. That’s laziness and lack of ambition.

8. Relaxation is good for you. A certain percentage of your time should be devoted to relaxation, to hobbies, personal enjoyments. Relaxation is like a mini-vacation you can take each day or week. In moderation of course, but nevertheless such time periods are very good for you. And they are good for the people around you, and they are excellent times to associate and socialize with others freely and without restriction. Your main socializing times should be during periods of relaxation, vacation, and entertainment. Not during work cycles.

9. The proper amounts of rest, sleep, entertainment, relaxation, vacation, exercise and sex will all improve your productivity. Suppression of these things tends to make you less efficient, less effective, and less productive. A good diet will also certainly improve your overall efficiency. A bad diet will make you stupid, slow, inefficient and unproductive. Improper amounts, and improper kinds, of anything decrease or suppress productivity. Proper amounts, and the proper kinds of most things, make you far more productive. Proper and improper amounts probably vary by individual. And by period. At least in some matters. (I.e. Everyone needs necessary levels of water and air to live, not everyone needs the same levels of exercise, sleep, or sex.)

10. Self-disciple is more important to high levels of productivity than is discipline inflicted by outside forces. Self-discipline is the one virtue without which no-one can ever be truly efficient or highly productive. So cultivate it as an operating principle in your own life. If you desire to work well or do important work.

11. Everyone should experiment with different methods and techniques for improving their own productivity and work capabilities. Adopt those principles which work best, discard inefficient and ineffective techniques and methods. I’d say the same is true in every area of your life. Too much of life is spent wasted pursuing ineffective and bad techniques for work, in relationships, even in entertainment. Experiment, and if something is a failure discard it, if something works then adopt it, and if something works modestly then improve it.

12. Seek out work which makes you happy and which is of benefit and profit not only to yourself but to the rest of the world. You’ll be glad you did, and so will others.

13. You’re not wedded to the same work or job for your whole life. If you’re dissatisfied with your work then improve your current work, find another occupation, make your own work, or start your own business. That might be nearly impossible in some parts of the world, but probably not for you. What prevents you from being satisfied with your work is you. Plain and simple. Everything else is just excuse making. You might not find or make satisfactory and enjoyable work overnight (that rarely happens), but you sure as hell won’t find it sitting on your furry and flea-bitten tail howling at the moon about it. Risk scouts the way, complaint kills the day.

14. Variety is very important to satisfaction in work involving constant change and new challenges. Consistency is very important as regards repetitive work. The quality and productivity of your work will be determined to a large extent by your individual nature. If your nature naturally seeks variety, seek out work involving constant change. If you have a nature that desires stability and consistency, seek out work that does not change much. Fit your work to your nature, and your nature to your work. As much as possible. Levels of variation between stability and change will fluctuate over time.

15. Schedule yourself and generally speaking you will be more productive. Allow a certain level of flexibility in your schedule, but stone by stone lain rightly builds the mighty coliseum. Better to do a little well every day, than to attempt to drink up the ocean overnight. You will have to make both sacrifices and efforts for work. The disciplining of time is the disciplining of actual achievement. Fail to discipline your time and time escapes you. And time escaped cannot be recaptured.

16. Failure is the best method of learning what won’t work. Yet you’d be surprised at the people who either stubbornly won’t learn that lesson, or never bother to notice it. Yet it directly affects your real productivity.

17. Be yourself, and your work will flourish. Be what you are not, and your work will fail.

18. Your work is important. If it isn’t something is definitely wrong with either your work, with you, or with both.

19. Work should be a natural part of your life and soul. So look first at your life and soul and this will help you determine what work is best for you to pursue. When your work is an extension of your own soul, you will love your work. When your work suppresses your soul, that is totally unnatural and counter-productive. I do not consider my work as being separate from my family, my friends, my community, state, nation, the world, or God. Rather my work integrates with all of these either things. As it should. That is the good way. It should not be the uncommon way.

20. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. Whatever your Sabbath, keep one day devoted to being vacated from work, and to pursuing other things that are just as important (if not more-so) as work, such as family, home, your soul, and God. Working at your own soul will not only make you far more productive, it will make you a far better person. Work is supposed to make the world better, working at your own soul will make you better.

To me these are the most important general principles of work and productivity.

QUO VADIS?

A well-written and insightful article by my friend Steve Roller with some excellent points for both start-up efforts and more established business people who wish to expand their business enterprises.

Actually I think you should build the structure (and incomes) of both your client base, and your own ventures, but I understand exactly what Steve is saying, why he is saying it, and how he is sculpting his advice.

Yes I’ve written for clients and continue to do so, but eventually you need (especially if you have larger ideas) to strike out on your own if you wish to achieve and obtain your larger goals and objectives.

You need to take ownership of your own efforts, endeavours, enterprises, and ventures.

Eventually you must employ your own talents for your own ends. It is part of the reason you exist in this world.

Read Steve’s article, think about the point(s) he is making, and then decide upon a course of action. Make a Plan and execute it.

Godspeed friends, and have a great, productive, and very profitable day.

 

Are you a freelance writer or a business builder?

3.hard-at-work

That may sound like an odd question, since most of us would consider ourselves freelancers, right?

 

I would maintain that not only can you be both, you may actually want to move away from the idea of being a “freelance writer” or “freelance copywriter.” It’s a matter of language, yes, but more than that a matter of mindset and positioning. In the long run, it will also make a substantial difference to your net worth.

 

Let me explain…

 

article continued at title link

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