Small Business News
From Facebook to Snapchat, everyone wants a piece of the teen market. Here's an in-depth look at what they want and why they're so damn tough to hold onto.
If Facebook's $19 billion Whatsapp acquisition can be attributed to one single instigator, it's teenagers.
Having lost its $3 billion bid for Snapchat, and with teens consistently fleeing Facebook by the millions each year, it's clear that Facebook was willing to pay just about any price to get them back. When the world's largest social network and a major purveyor of data considers this demographic priceless, you pay attention.
Today's teens are at the center of a massive turf war that's roiling the tech industry. The question is: why? What's so important about this age group and, perhaps more importantly, what are new emerging tech companies doing to lure them away?
One thing's for certain: today's teens are not doing business as usual, and in order to keep them happy, you need to do a lot more than get an endorsement from Justin Bieber. To compete for teen's attention, you have to rethink your business's strategy from the ground up.Why Teens Matter
Teenagers have always been important to brands because they tend to be early adopters and because, traditionally, their brand preferences aren't yet firmly defined. The difference with today's teenagers, however, is that they're not listening to what the media and older generations are telling them is cool. While older millennials looked to television shows like MTV's Total Request Live to tell them what was in style, today's teens are discovering trends and deciding for themselves.
"Twenty years ago, you had magazines, broadcasters, and record labels controlling the flow of trends downward to teens," says Oliver Pangborn, senior youth insights consultant at the market research firm The Futures Company. "Teenagers have now become the gatekeepers to modern trends. With the internet and social media, teenagers have more access to that information than ever before."
Teens also wield significant purchasing power. According to a 2013 Nielsen survey, 29 percent of teens live in homes where household income is $100,000 or higher. These teens aren't just buying for themselves, either. According to Mary Leigh Bliss, trends editor at YPulse, a youth-focused market research firm, "Teens are now passing technology down to their parents, not the other way around."
Bliss adds,"We hear from teens that they were the ones telling their parents to buy iPhones and tablets. They were the driving force behind their family's technology switch."
Another reason teens these days are a desirable target audience: there's no learning curve for businesses to overcome. "If millennials were pioneers hacking through the wilderness of this teen landscape, today's teens were born there. They were the first generation inherently attuned to this," says Rob Callender, also of The Futures Company. "They didn't have to adapt their lifestyle to it, so they're more fluent in new technology."
It's no surprise, then, that teens lead the way on mobile technology, with a recent Pew Research survey showing that 25 percent of teens access the Internet primarily through mobile phones. By contrast, 15 percent of adults are mobile-first. That means businesses like Facebook which believe, and rightfully so, that mobile is the future would be well-served by focusing on teens.
The challenge with this generation of teens becoming the new gatekeepers, however, is that they're less loyal to brands and businesses than the generations that came before them. "It's an accelerated rate of nostalgia," says Bliss. "They've grown up in an era where just months after you've purchased the latest, greatest thing, the next best thing is around the corner. They tend to be loyal to the best in class, rather than the brand, itself."What They Want
So what does this critical demographic look for in new technology? To get an idea of what the kids are into these days and, more importantly, why they're into it, I decided to ask one of the smartest, most self-aware teenagers I know: my cousin Lucy, who is, as she told me recently "15 going on 30."
Our lightly edited text conversation went as follows:
Me: "For research: do you use Snapchat more than Facebook?"
Me: "How come?"
Lucy: "Because it's more instantaneous and personalized. I have over 1,000 Facebook friends, so most of the time, I don't really care about looking through my feed. With Snapchat, I know everyone I'm friends with personally, so looking at their stories is funny/interesting to me."
Me: "You use Tumblr at all?"
Lucy: "Tumblr is still popular. I just ended up deleting mine last year because I felt pressured to perfect it. With Tumblr, I felt like I had to project an image by following cool blogs and posting generally relatable/relevant photos in order to gain followers. On the other hand, my Tumblr prime was 8th grade, and I was much more insecure. I kept it a secret for a while. I actually had a lot of fun with it when no one knew I had it. But people at my old school would make fun of each other's, and I didn't want anyone asking about my personal posts."
What I found so fascinating about this conversation is that it suggests, anecdotally of course, that teens are not as fickle as described. There is a clearly defined rhyme and reason to their seemingly unpredictable tastes. It's not just about which technology is cool. It's about which technology is safe, private, and will enable the most authentic connections.
What's even more impressive is that Lucy's tastes tracked completely with what several market researchers told me. "Younger millennials have never seen Facebook as a peer-only place," says Bliss. "They're moving away from platforms where everyone's in one place toward using several apps for several reasons.
Bliss also stressed teens' interest in anonymity, claiming that Whisper, a new app that allows people to post a secret anonymously, is becoming huge with teenagers.
Another key selling point for this age group? Value. Teens of this generation, the researchers say, are products of the tumultuous economic times during which they were raised. The recession hit during their formative years, making them especially circumspect about spending.
"It's not that they're not spending," says Callender, "it's just that you're going to have to convince them with a value proposition millennials didn't need."
"This generation will do research," adds Pangborn. "They'll look for reviews and at social media. Marketers need to be prepared and have a place where that value proposition is explained."
Pangborn notes Samsung as a model brand for this generation. "They're offering a high-quality product at a lower price," he says, "and that appeals to that demand for value."
This trend extends offline as well. Look no further than Abercrombe & Fitch's steep decline in the market over recent years, due largely to the fact that it's tough to sell teens of this generation on a $108 pair of "destroyed" jeans. During my talk with Lucy, she said that high-end thrift stores like Buffalo Exchange are the new go-to shopping destination for her friends.How to Give It to Them
The No. 1 rule of marketing to teens? Don't market to teens. Condescension and gimmicks won't do you any favors with this group. The brands and services that tend to thrive with teens are the ones that do it organically by meeting teens on their turf.
Pheed, for instance, is a Twitter-like service that allows users to share photos, videos, text, voice notes, and live broadcasts. It flourished with West coast teens after its founders hosted a series of events at its headquarters, and invited a bunch of professional skate boarders to drop by. The app, which launched in November 2012, now has 10 million users, 80 percent of whom are between 14 and 19 years old.
We Heart It, an image-based social network similar to Pinterest, never intended to become a teen-centric network, and yet today, more than 50 percent of its 25 million members are teens. They were attracted to the app, says CEO Raha Edelin, because it's mobile-friendly, image driven, and doesn't allow comments.
"Comments sections can really devolve into derisive, unhealthy conversations," says Edelin, noting that 80 percent of We Heart It's users say they've been bullied at some point on Facebook. On We Heart It, the only actions you can take are to "heart" an image, repost it on your own profile, or follow that user. "That way," says Edelin, "they can share without fear of backlash or criticism from others."
Another important feature: We Heart It users can sign up anonymously. "It's the fact that we're riding a few of the major trends happening with respect to teens on the Internet these days that has accelerated our growth," says Edelin. "It's been totally unintentional."
Offline, Bliss says, it's the brands that are giving teens a chance to participate in the creative process that are winning. Some do it by reblogging their customers' own Tumblr posts. Others use crowdsourcing. "Modcloth is brilliant," Bliss says of the online retailer, which lets customers choose which items should be sold on the site.
Of course, making the most of the teen demographic means a lot more than trapping them in for a few short months. Teens want their favorite businesses to grow with them. If you don't keep up, they'll have no problem leaving you behind.
Steve Goldberg, director of business development at Pheed, for one, is already planning the site's next big moves. Soon, in order to satisfy this generation's desire for on-demand entertainment, Pheed will begin streaming live broadcasts of concerts. And, in a direct challenge to Snapchat, WhatsApp, and the like, it will also begin adding direct messaging to its platform. Adds Goldberg, "Self destruct optional."
The guy behind TalkLikeTheBoss.com, a funny site that mocks buzzwords, explains the true costs of using this jargon.
You don't have to watch Office Space to know that the business world is often laced with a bunch of words that you didn't have to learn for the SATs.
I'm not talking about industry-specific jargon. That stuff, at least, is understandable--specific elements of specific businesses often require a new set of terms.
Something people find eminently more laughable, though, is the use of words that hardly seem to have any meaning at all. "Synergy" might be the king of these buzzwords, but terms like "ideate" and "authenticity" register on the scale as well.
As you can tell, I'm no fan of corporate jargon. So I was thrilled when I stumbled upon TalkLikeTheBoss.com, a website devoted to defining (and, of course, mocking) some of the more egrigious business buzzwords out there.
Behind the scenes, running the site, is Georgia-based corporate-culture consultant Steele Champion. Champion spoke with me about how reliance on jargon serves to cloud leaders' meaning and--in his view--turn off employees. Here's an edited version of our conversation:
OK, first and foremost, what's your least favorite buzzword and why?
That’s a difficult question because I hate so many business buzzwords. I’d say the buzzword "opportunity" has been making my blood boil as of late. Here’s why: In any other context, an "opportunity" is something that we should be grateful for. Our parents teach us to seek out opportunities and express gratitude when we receive one.Worst Buzzwords:
- Thought leader
But leave it to cowardly bosses to change the meaning of "opportunity" to convey that something needs to be improved, to avoid using [some other] term that is universally accepted as negative. I remember one of my corporate clients pulling me aside to explain their unspoken policy of replacing horrible words like weakness and challenges with "opportunity." So instead of saying things like, "Your on-boarding process is weak in these areas," I should say, "Your on-boarding process has a few opportunity areas." And here I thought we were communicating with adults.
You're an employee-engagement consultant. Do you think jargon hurts engagement, and if so, why?
In my experience, buzzwords have a connection to employee engagement. For instance, when a company is facing financial hardship, each earnings report is usually met with a memo from the CEO to the workers. That letter is often laden with business buzzwords such as consolidate, restructure, streamline, pressure, headwind, and other buzzwords that employees can interpret as precursors to a wave of layoffs.
And many of these employees have expressed to me that they have lost trust in the leader as a result of that communication. They ultimately felt that the CEO tried to muddle the truth in a mixture of buzzwords. Employee-engagement studies have revealed that a lack of candor and transparency from leaders results in poor worker engagement.
Some buzzwords, such as synergy, are easily mockable because nobody seems to know what the hell they actually mean. Sometimes, though, they come off as cruel and inhuman: "impacts" for layoffs, or "opportunities," as you mentioned above. Which do you think is more of a problem?
I’d say both forms tend to cause problems from a communication perspective. For instance, I have literally seen a full-blown argument break out in the office because two people disagreed on whether they thought a certain director was a "thought leader" or not. Now, how stupid is that?
On a more serious note, I find business buzzwords such as "headcount" (a buzzword that refers to employees) particularly insensitive and inhuman. For instance, I occasionally attend meetings and hear comments such as, “Well if we decide to consolidate the Jacksonville call center, we’ll only lose a headcount of 200.” When I hear that being thrown around casually, especially in the context of layoffs, I often imagine how different it would be if I were to translate it by saying, "So you think we should fire 200 human beings?"
In situations like that, buzzwords are used as an instrument to desensitize very sensitive and personal topics. I abhor that usage of buzzwords the most because it transforms human beings into mere figures on someone’s spreadsheet.
When it comes to jargon, it seems like everybody claims to hate it, but then one day you walk into a company and it's like people are talking a different language. Why?
I’d say the primary reason business buzzwords occur is to convey connection. It's similar to an inside joke where a few individuals get the joke while outsiders do not. If you have ever been one of the people in on the joke, think about the immediate connection you felt to those who also understood it.
Likewise, I feel that most business buzzwords are used to silently say, "Hey, I’m part of the family because I know exactly what CTQ, BPL, QBR, and SPP mean." Workers that don't understand this ridiculous language of business buzzwords run the risk of being labeled an outsider. It’s conformity at its finest.
We can tell you like to make fun of this stuff, but is part of your goal to educate young professionals who might need to learn a thing or two about how executives talk? Do you think that greater understanding would benefit the younger workforce?
Definitely. I was and still am that young professional who strives to understand the law of the land. Unbeknownst to me, I was totally unprepared to communicate with the bosses when I entered the corporate world. It took me a few years to actually understand how to first interpret and then use business buzzwords effectively.
So, one of the primary reasons for launching TalkLikeTheBoss.com is to educate professionals on the language that is being used around them every workday. The site attracts young professionals who are eager to learn business jargon and seasoned professionals because it is laced with humor. And to be perfectly honest, I hold humor as the magic bullet that will save the world from business buzzwords. My hope is that people would see these buzzwords being defined and put into preposterous sentences, realize how silly they sound--and stop using them. Apparently I have high hopes.
It's a viral-media darling today--a hub not just for gifs of dogs eating ice cream but also for video and investigative journalism. A co-founder explains the site's surprising roots.
The media darling of the moment, Buzzfeed, which boasts topping 130 million monthly unique viewers to its site, didn't start out as an attempt to dominate Facebook feeds and overturn perceptions of how online advertising best functions. No, instead it began as a humble experiment out of a little-known multimedia center called Eyebeam, tucked in between art galleries in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood.
A co-founder of Eyebeam, John Johnson, explained the humble origins of Buzzfeed on March 1, at a talk at New York University. Johnson, with two partners, founded the center in 1997, with the goal of funding independent films, awarding fellowships, and providing a space for young artists, educators, and technologists to create their projects.A Startup Story
As creative work in arts and technology began to flourish online, Johnson started looking for someone "who really knew the Web."
Around that time, a technology instructor in New Orleans named Jonah Peretti was fielding media calls, after watching an email he had initially sent to a dozen friends spread around the globe. It was an email chain of messages exchanged with a representative of Nike after the company denied Peretti's request to customize a pair of sneakers with the word, "sweatshop." And that was one of the most impressive pieces of viral content Johnson had ever seen.
"He sent it to 12 friends," Johnson says. "Within three months, a million people saw the emails, and he was on The Today Show debating labor practices."
Johnson hired Peretti to do research and development at Eyebeam, particularly focusing on what the pair dubbed the Contagious Media Lab. Some of the lab's accomplishments include the early(ish) viral sites Crying While Eating, Black People Love Us, and Forget-me-not Panties. The latter was a site advertising a nonexistent product, which purported to GPS track--and temperature-monitor--the wearer of the allegedly tech-enhanced undergarments.
Johnson says the site blew up by garnering clicks from two groups of people. First, feminists, who were enraged and confused; second, "Japanese fetishists, who were like, 'Where can I get one?'"
The site offered a counterintuitive lesson in manufacturing virality, Johnson says: "If there's a way for your product to be polarizing, that's one sure way to get a lot of exposure--if you can get two groups of people to argue about it."
It wasn't long, though, before Peretti came to Johnson with a pitch: With help from investors, perhaps the pair had learned enough about manufacturing virality in online media to turn their experiments into a business. Johnson today laughs at the absurdity of the idea for creating a news site out of the experience they'd had up to that point: "Here were two nonprofits arts guys, like, 'Hey, let's do a business,' and 'Yeah sounds good,'" Johnson says.
Fast forward six years, and more than $46 million in funding later, Buzzfeed is still growing, and is pioneering new models of native advertising. And it's definitely still all over your Facebook feed. What's more, Peretti says the endeavor is now profitable.
The growth doesn't seem to have surprised Johnson, but what does is the rise of the young man who once sent an email to a dozen friends.
"This skinny kid not from New York, from out of town, who is like a wonderful, super geeky guy, and he's turned into a brilliant CEO," Johnson says of Peretti.
A new study finds that great coaches don't focus on finding and fixing their team's weaknesses. They do this instead.
Sure, running a business is about maximizing the bottom line, but few entrepreneurs care only about the dollars and cents. For most, going into work every day is also about making the world a slightly better place and helping your team get better at what they do.
In other words, most business owners aspire to be not just managers but coaches.
How do you learn to be a great coach?
Thinking back to your Little League days or star turn on the girls’ volleyball team in high school may give you some inspiration. Didn’t the coach point out your weaknesses and provide guidance on how to get better? Your memory doesn’t fail you--traditionally, coaching has largely been about identifying areas in need of improvement and supporting folks as they work towards better performance. But according to the latest science, there's actually a better approach.Positive vs. Negative
A new study, published in Social Neuroscience, used brain sans to test two different approaches to coaching on a group of undergraduates. The first approach mirrored traditional coaching, asking students to identify areas in which they might be struggling at school and think about ways to improve. Coaches asked questions such as: "What challenges have you encountered or do you expect to encounter in your experience here?" and "How are you doing with your courses?"
In contrast to this negative approach, the second group of coaches focused on possibilities and positives, asking the students about their aspirations and urging them to visualize their future goals. They asked questions such as, "If everything worked out ideally in your life, what would you be doing in 10 years?" The student volunteers were then run through a functional MRI to examine how their brains responded to the two techniques.
The different types of coaching lit up different areas of the brain, the scientists found, with the positive approach stimulating areas involved in:
Visual processing, which come online when we imagine future events
Global processing, or the ability to see the big picture
Feelings of empathy and emotional safety
The motivation to proactively pursue big goals rather than simply react to loss or fear
If you want people to dream big and actually have a shot at reaching their lofty ambitions, the list above would be a pretty good place to start, right? The researchers thought so too. "These differences in brain activity led the researchers to conclude that positive coaching effectively activates important neural circuits and stress-reduction systems in the body by encouraging mentees to envision a desired future for themselves," UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center reports in their write up of the research.
More research needs to be done, and the encouraging effects of a positive coaching style don’t necessarily mean there's no place for the more traditional find-the-problem-and-fix-it approach, but the results should give business owners a nudge towards a positive coaching style. Why not try spurring your team to dream big, set ambitious goals, and nurture their strengths?
How do you approach coaching your team?
First things first: Keep it to 18 minutes or less. Then follow these simple guidelines.
Eighteen minutes or less. That's the length of a riveting bedtime story; John F. Kennedy's inaugural speech; and the ultimate TED talk.
At 18 minutes, your pitch or presentation can deliver the impact, critical message, and enough information to influence your audience and leave a lasting impression. According to best-selling author and communication coach Carmine Gallo, creativity thrives under constraints, and a shorter presentation will elicit the strongest reaction from your audience. Just as we've learned to create intrigue with just enough information to capture our audience in 140 characters or less on Twitter, confining your information to the constraints of an 18-minute presentation will promote creativity and deliver loads of impact.
One of many researchers supporting this theory is Dr. Paul King at Texas Christian University who says that you aren't the only one who may experience anxiety about your speech or presentation: Your audience members feel anxiety, too. He calls this state "anxiety in listening performance." This anxiety is due to the fact that the more your listeners need to remember, the more pressure their brains take on, creating a backlog of information that causes the brain to fatigue and tune out. Limiting the length of your presentation will keep your audience engaged, and even on the edge of their seats if you do it right.
In preparation for his most recent book, Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds, Gallo studied over 500 TED talks and interviewed many of the speakers, along with researchers in the fields of psychology and neuroscience. I found his book compelling and educational, and I'm now ready to shorten and reformat my speeches. In addition to the 18-minute rule, here are three takeaways (I'm already using one of Gallo's rules here) that I hope you'll find helpful in preparing your next big talk.Use the rule of three.
The human mind can typically hold only about three chunks of information in the short-term, or working, memory. As you add more items to the list, the average person retains less and less of your information. If you have as many as eight points of information, the majority of your audience will forget the entire sequence. Gallo suggests creating an outline for your presentation using three stories, much like Major Carter did in her TED talk, "Greening the Ghetto." Tie your stories together in a central theme using three examples and three lessons that reinforce the theme, just as Carter did in her popular talk.
Gallo suggests creating what he calls a "message map" to help you pitch anything in as little as 15 seconds or to shape the framework for your 18-minute presentation. Your visual map will include a powerful headline, three key messages, and three bullet points highlighting the stories or facts that will support each message.Paint a mental picture with multi-sensory experiences.
Remember, the brain won't pay attention to the boring stuff. Add components to your presentation that touch a number of the senses. Gallo suggests exposing your audience to mesmerizing images, captivating videos, intriguing props, beautiful words, and more than one voice to bring your story to life. He also warns to steer clear of the traditional PowerPoint display, chock full of words. He cites Brené Brown's presentation, "The Power of Vulnerability," as a powerful example of using imagery to replace words. But your words need to paint a picture as well; don't rely on visuals alone.Lighten up.
Gallo uses the most popular TED talk ever to demonstrate the power of humor and novelty, both of which the brain loves. While creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson spoke about how schools kill creativity, a topic unlikely to attract more than 25 million views, he succeeded by lowering the audience's defenses with his novel approach to the controversial topic of education reform.
To lighten it up, relate anecdotal information about yourself or someone you know, light-hearted observations about your work or industry, or personal stories to elicit laughs from your audience. Analogies and metaphors will not only help to explain complex topics and ideas but can bring a smile to your listener's face as well. Even a silly, yet relevant, YouTube video is an effective way to bring humor into a presentation, and will take the pressure off of you to be funny.
Getting people who don't report to you to get things done can feel like herding cats.
It's very rare in today's corporate environment to work in a silo. Teamwork is the name of the game and cross-functional work groups are commonplace.
But all too often I hear complaints or frustration from people working in these groups around accountability, responsibility, and getting things done. Most often I hear something to the effect of, "But how can I hold people accountable if they don't report to me?" This always surprises me because it implies that just because someone reports to you, they magically have some greater sense of accountability. Maybe, but often times not.
If you feel like you're constantly herding cats and not getting what you need from people, the following tips are for you.What's the Motivation?
If you feel like you have to constantly nag people and follow up to ensure they get their tasks or projects done, take a moment to think about their perspective.
- What is their role in the organization, and what is their motivation?
- Are they fairly new or in a more junior position?
- Are they looking to prove themselves and move up the ladder or have they been around the block, hold a comfortable position, and are just looking to come in and accrue their vacation time and get a paycheck?
- Or do they stand somewhere in the middle?
Understanding this doesn't change anything but can provide you with some awareness about how you might motivate someone to get the job done. For instance, a newbie might use it as an opportunity to earn some stripes (or prove themselves), and a long timer may see it as opportunity to work on something new in order to break up the routine.Deadlines are Non-Negotiable.
Deadlines, drop-dead dates, etc. are called these things for a reason. You must do them. They aren't called "do it when you want to's", right?
But you can't just go around throwing down deadlines and expect everyone to drop everything they're doing to meet them.
You've got to get people to agree to that date. Get a commitment. And you don't have to rule with an iron fist to get it done. If you have frequent communication and check-ins along the way for the project, you give folks the opportunity to bring up any delays, risks, or obstacles. Then you can address them head-on and hopefully help the person move forward. By being there to help people get the job done and removing obstacles (not doing the job for them), you'll also motivate them to see the task or project through to completion.Everyone Contributes.
At my email marketing company, VerticalResponse, we've all got a job to do in order to deliver an awesome product and experience for our customers. No matter what someone's role or title, everyone is an individual contributor in some way, so there's no one just throwing down to-dos and not having their own to deliver on. When everyone is rolling up their sleeves, side-by-side and working together, you don't get the resentment factor, and the "how would you know" attitude, since managers, directors, VPs, and even myself are all working hand-in-hand. And we have an expectation of each other to get it done. If you don't, your peers will be as tough on you, if not tougher, than your supervisor.
How do you motivate teams to get the job done even when they don't report to you? Share your tactics in the comments.
Working from home can be fantastic, or it can be fraught with peril. Here's how to make it work better for you.
I wrote the first draft of this column before 8 a.m. on a Sunday, working in my pajamas at the standing desk in my home office.
A new study says I have good company in that kind of work flexibility, and not just among entrepreneurs and those who work for themselves. Nearly one-third of full-time employees do most of their work in homes, coffee shops, and other remote places, according to the Flex+Strategy Group report.
After extensive study, here are the best ways I've learned to make this arrangement work. (If you have other suggestions, let me know in the comments below or drop me a line.)1. Reclaim your commuting time.
Commuting sucks, and one big advantage of working from home is that you no longer have to deal with it regularly. But it's crucial to reclaim the time you used to devote to travel for something productive. For example, maybe use the first 30 minutes of your day to answer emails you didn't get to the day before and the last half hour to set long-term strategic goals and specific objectives for the next day.2. Design your space.
You've heard this one before, but it's crucial. Carve out a dedicated space that you only use for work. Preferably, you need natural light and a door, so that you can separate your work from your home life when the workday is done. (Moreover, creating a separate and exclusive space can be necessary if you want to take a tax deduction for a home office.)3. Project professionalism.
Some people advise dressing as if you were still working in someone else's office. I think that's unnecessary, and maybe even a bit crazy, but you do need to come across as professional and reliable when dealing with clients. Here's an example: If you're doing video calls, consider having a clean dedicated area for them, or at least hanging a backdrop so people aren't distracted by home-office clutter.4. Track your savings.
Following on the first three items, it helps to track how much you save as a result of working from home. Commuting costs alone can be substantial. Then consider the reduced costs of meals, now that you don't have to rely on take-out lunches and $2.50 cups of coffee, throw in your lower dry-cleaning bills, and the savings add up quickly.5. Expand your circle.
Working at home can become isolating, unless you make an effort to build your network and maintain relationships. This might be easier in a major metropolitan area with lots of networking opportunities and industry meetings. However even if you have to travel and use lots of virtual tools--LinkedIn is a great place to start--maintaining your network should be on your to-do list every day.6. Delegate all that you can.
When I wrote recently about delegating things to assistants, I was truly surprised by the blowback. Regardless, this is crucial, especially if you work from home, because it's easy to fall prey to the illusion that you have unlimited time, and can now do everything yourself. However, if you have a business worth doing, you can--and should--delegate things like managing your calendar, doing initial research, and handling household chores. (Yes, this can apply to child care, as well.)7. Manage your distractions.
Talk about easier said than done, but another danger in working from home is that it's so easy not to work. (Thankfully, they're no longer televising Olympic hockey games in the middle of the workday. I'll have to work something out for the World Cup.) One winning strategy is simply to accept that you'll never be 100 percent productive. That makes it easier to be in control of your "mind-wandering" time at work, and keep it under control.8. Own your day.
If you find yourself working earlier, take time for yourself and your family later. (Personally, I have ghostwriting clients all over the world, and it's a lot easier to do the occasional 4 a.m. overseas Skype call from my home office.) At the same time, it's great to do errands during low-demand hours. Don't fight the crowds at the mall on a Saturday. Instead, discover the tranquility of 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday.9. Own your week.
If you liked the idea of owning your day, just wait until you own your week. If you've wondered how many more runs you could get in on the ski slopes on a Wednesday (or whatever it is you like to do for fun), or how much easier and cheaper it would be to travel during times when fewer people are able, the answer is: a lot. In fact, the only drawback is that friends and family probably don't have the same flexibility. Once you get to the point where you own the week, however, you'll find yourself longing a lot less for the weekend.
Want to read more, make suggestions, or even be featured in a future column? Contact me and sign up for my weekly email.
Most companies have these statements--and usually they say more or less the same thing. See the problem?
According to Wikipedia, a mission statement is intended to "guide the actions of the organization, spell out its overall goal, provide a path, [and] the framework or context within which the company's strategies are formulated."
Most companies have one, but they're all a waste of time and mental energy. Here's why:1. They're group-written.
When a group tries to write something in a corporate setting, the result is the lowest common denominator for every issue in the room. The process removes any statement that has an edge, resulting in digested wads of verbal pap.2. They're full of platitudes.
Most mission statements read something like this: "We are committed to delighting our customers by creating the best products and offering them for the best price along the best customer service." Every company makes these same promises, so why bother?3. They're full of abstractions.
Mission statements usually contain multiple words that are so vague as to be utterly meaningless. Take "best customer service," for instance. What exactly what does "best" mean in this context? There's no way to measure "bestness," so nobody knows.4. They don't inspire or motivate.
Human beings are motivated by stories that contain meaningful emotional content, typically about people who overcome big obstacles to achieve difficult goals. Mission statements are just opinions and promises. Big shrug.5. They're SO 1980s.
The entire "mission-statement" concept has a dress-for-success-while-searching-for-excellence-in-reengineering-your-corporation-which-is-named-something-that-sounds-like-"velocity" vibe to it.6. They're mostly honored in the breach.
Talking about something is the opposite of doing something about it. Ever notice how it's the companies that have awful customer service that go on and on and on about how their customer service is so wonderful?7. Nobody reads them.
Honestly, does anyone ever actually read these things? With a straight face, I mean? In short, if your company has a "mission statement," my best advice is to throw the posters in the trash, wipe it from your website, and pretend you never had one.
Pre-order my new book and get an exclusive bonus chapter (for you and a friend) and a signed bookplate.
McConaughey, who won the best actor award on Sunday for his role in Dallas Buyer's Club, says you need someone to look up to, something to look forward to, and a hero to chase.
The Academy Awards, celebrating the best films and performances of the year, is not the first place you'd think to find leadership lessons. But last night Matthew McConaughey, who won the best actor Oscar for his role as Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyer's Club, explained during his acceptance speech how he stays humble and driven.
"There's three things, to my account, that I need each day: One of them is something to look up to, another is something to look forward to, and another is someone to chase," McConaughey said.
McConaughey said he looks up to God, and thanked God for teaching him gratitude. Next he thanked those in his life he looks forward to being with--his late father who taught him "how to be a man;" his mother, who taught him how to respect himself and others; and his wife and children for giving him courage.
But perhaps the most important part of your success as a leader is your motivation--that single factor that drives you to keep going, to be successful, to be a better version of yourself.
"To my hero, that's who I chase. When I was 15 years old, I had an important person in my life come to me and say, 'Who is your hero?' And I said, 'I don't know. I gotta think about that. Give me a couple weeks.' I come back two weeks later and this person comes up, 'Who's your hero?' I said, 'I thought about it, you know who it is? It's me in 10 years,'" McConaughey said. "So I turn 25, 10 years later, and that same person comes to me and says, 'So, are you a hero?' And I say, 'Not even close. No, no, no. My hero is me at 35.'"
McConaughey next offered further explanation of how his hero is his future self: "You see every day, every week, every year of my life my hero is always 10 years away. I'm never gonna be my hero, I'll never attain that. I know I'm not and that's just fine with me because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing," he said. "So, to any of us, whatever those things are, whatever it is we look up to, whatever it is we look forward to, and whoever it is we're chasing, to that I say 'Amen.' To that I say, 'Alright, alright, alright.' And to that I say 'Just keep living.'"
Fittingly, McConaughey won his Oscar for portraying Ron Woodroof, a Texas man who after being diagnosed with AIDS in 1985 began selling medications illegally to help others with the disease. The true story of Woodroof's entrepreneurial spirit can certainly teach founders a thing or two as well.
So, who is your hero? Who do you keep chasing to make you a better leader? Let us know in the comments below.
When success is the only option, here's what world-class performers do.
Maybe you've finally landed a meeting to pitch key investors. Maybe you've finally scored a sales call with an enabling customer you've pursued for months. Or maybe you've been invited to deliver an important presentation at an industry conference.
When the stakes are high, most people simply worry more. A few know how to prepare differently. When the potential outcome isn't normal, your preparation shouldn't be normal, either--at least, not if you want to perform at your very best.
The following is from Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code (one of the few books I actually give to friends) and The Little Book of Talent (a book I've written about before) and a blog about performance improvement that should be on your must-read list.
When it comes to approaching a major performance test, most of us follow advice that can be distilled into three words: Focus on success.
That is, we prepare ourselves by banishing doubt and visualizing the positive. We vividly imagine ourselves making all the right moves with fluid grace, with zero mistakes or missteps. And it feels good.But that's not what the pros do.
What's interesting, though, is that when you look closely at world-class performers, most don't use this feel-good approach. In fact, they do the opposite--what you might call the feel-bad-first approach.
It goes like this: First, they focus on the mistakes and figure out, in detail, how they will react to them. Then they visualize the positive. A great example of this is the Green Berets, the U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers. Teams spend weeks training for a mission (most of which happen at night). On the day of the mission, they follow a two-part routine.
First, team members spend the entire morning going over every possible mistake or disaster that could happen during the mission. Every possible screwup is mercilessly examined and linked to an appropriate response: If the helicopter crash-lands, we'll do X. If we are dropped off at the wrong spot, we'll do Y. If we are outnumbered, we'll do Z.
After some hours of doing this, the team members take a break and have lunch together. They socialize, relax, and maybe take a nap. Then they spend the afternoon in Phase Two, talking about everything going exactly right. They review each move, visualizing each step, and vividly imagine it going 100 percent perfectly.
You might call this a Balanced-Positive Approach: equally split between negative and positive, and ending on the positive. Notice the complete wall of separation between the two phases. The team doesn't toggle back and forth between positive and negative. The two phases are kept as separate as night and day: First comes all negative, then all positive.
Many top performers (Steve Jobs and Peyton Manning jump to mind) embody this approach. Half the time, they are persnickety, chronically dissatisfied, negative, doubtful, obsessed with potential failures. The other half of the time, they're incredibly positive, confident performers.
This isn't surprising. The balanced-positive approach helps you avoid the pitfalls of positivity--namely, that you get surprised and demoralized by failure--by replacing it with a preparation that matches the reality of the world and also leaves you ready for performance. Good things and bad things will happen, and you can't control either. But you can prepare.Now it's your turn.
Say you're making a sales call. Start with potential mistakes or mini disasters. What if your demo locks up? What if the meeting gets pushed back and you only get 10 minutes instead of 30? What if you're asked questions you can't answer? What if a key decision maker isn't in the room? Think of a number of likely--and even unlikely--scenarios and determine how you will handle them.
Then take a break.
And then come back and rehearse--but this time focus on everything going perfectly. Hit your marks. Roll through your demo. Nail your close.
That way, you won't go into the meeting worried or anxious. You'll go in confident, prepared--and truly prepared to succeed.
Some people are likeable, but others have great charisma. Here is how you can recognize and achieve the difference.
You feel charisma the moment it enters the room. It's not just that someone is likable. Charismatic people draw attention. They automatically energize you and motivate you to step up, to take action. What is it about them? All in all, they are certainly likable, but it's more than that. Are they born charismatic, or do they learn how to be that way? It's probably a little of both. But either way, charismatic people inspire us and get us talking.
It's likely that you have some charismatic traits that can be developed to help you attract and inspire those around you. If you aspire to be charismatic, here is a list of behaviors to expand on.
1. Charismatic people exude joy. The first thing you notice about charismatic people is the spark of life. Whether they are saviors or troublemakers, they have a strong passion that triggers powerful emotions in those around them. Even in anger, they make people feel happy to join a cause. They show obvious pleasure in experiences, and they invite others to share in the experience they are having. Enhance your charisma by sharing your passions with those around you and helping their passions flourish.
2. Charismatic people inspire confidence. It seems that charismatic people have the world in their control. Their personal self-worth and confidence appear strong, even when they're not. They have faith in their abilities, their knowledge, and their worth. They also know the line between confidence and narcissism. They don't disparage or dismiss the people around them. Enhance your charisma by dampening your insecurities in favor of celebrating your strengths. Share your confidence with others so they feel stronger in your presence.
3. Charismatic people share conviction. The times that charismatic people stand out the most is when they are driving a movement. Charismatic people believe in something powerfully and share that belief with others. Their conviction and consistent actions influence others to follow. Dedicated followers add exponentially to the energy that oozes from a charismatic leader. Apathy will kill charisma and momentum. Enhance your charisma by being diligent and committed. Inspire others by helping them engage in a common cause.
4. Charismatic people are great storytellers. People don't follow someone simply because they are told to do so. Moving someone to action requires context and motivation. Stories are the most effective way to get to the emotional core to break inertia. Charismatic people have a talent for spinning a yarn that connects deeply and relates directly to the action that needs to occur. Their voice, inflection, and manner are easy to listen to and pleasant. They have the ability to express drama and intrigue so people want to hear more. Enhance your charisma by learning to craft and tell meaningful, emotional stories. Practice the arts of humor, metaphor, and symbolism so you can entertain while you inform.
5. Charismatic people connect empathetically. It has been said that when Bill Clinton speaks to you, he makes you feel that you are the only person on the planet. This is a talent of charismatic people. They genuinely and instinctively focus their eyes, ears, and soul on your being, not theirs. They make you laugh, they make you feel heard, they make you feel special or fascinated or safe or interesting. It isn't the same feeling in every case. But people connect and stay, because they are having strong, positive emotions in the presence of someone truly charismatic. Enhance your charisma by focusing all of your energy and attention on the person in front of you. Shut down your inner voice and connect so you can see, hear, and feel the energy and information he or she is sharing.
Like this post? If so, sign up here and never miss out on Kevin's thoughts and humor.
Projects on the platform have received more than $1 billion in total pledges, showing how robust a source of startup capital crowdfunding has become.
Photo, from left: Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler, and Charles Adler
Crowdfunding platform Kickstarter reached a huge milestone Monday, passing $1 billion in total pledges.
The Brooklyn, New York-based startup, founded in 2009 by Charles Adler, Yancey Strickler, and Perry Chen, has received pledges from more than 5.7 million people. According to the company's website, more than half of the $1 billion in pledges was raised during the last 12 months, signaling that crowdfunding continues to stake its claim as a viable source of capital for businesses.
The U.S. led all countries in the amount of money pledged, with more than $633 million, followed by the United Kingdom and Canada. In total, pledges have flowed in from 224 countries and territories across all seven continents, the company says.
Nearly 1.7 million people have backed more than one project on Kickstarter, including almost 16,000 who have backed more than 50 projects on the platform.
Successfully managing remote employees can be good for your business in ways you might not expect.
Thanks to the tourism, energy, and technology industries, seven of the 10 states with the country's fastest job creation this year will be in the West, a new report finds.
The West is the best--at least when it comes to job creation.
According to a new report, seven out of the top 10 U.S. states in job growth this year will be in the West. The report, by Colorado-based research and consulting firm IHS Global Insight, says businesses in the region's energy, tourism, and technology industries are largely responsible for the fast job growth.
The states with the fastest payroll increases this year will be North Dakota, Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Oregon, the report predicts.
According to USA Today, states such as Arizona and Nevada have bounced back from the housing downturn and residential construction is now on the rebound, bringing a surge of new jobs. Arizona's job growth is also benefiting from strong tourism, as well as Apple's new 2,000-employee factory in Mesa.
Colorado and Utah are seeing a boost due in part to natural gas and oil, and both are also riding a technology wave, USA Today reports. In Oregon, semiconductor manufacturing is spurring the state's economy.
Jim Diffley, an economist at IHS, says that the Western U.S. is claiming more residents from different states because they want a better quality of life, and more technology is allowing people to work remotely.
"They're just progressive, attractive places to live," Diffley tells USA Today.
A new study finds that the idea of breaking rules is at the root of the connection.
An individual's propensity to lie appears to be closely linked to his or her creative abilities. That's the conclusion of recent study by two researchers from prominent business schools.
What explains the connection?
"The common saying that 'rules are meant to be broken' is at the root of both creative performance and dishonest behavior," lead researcher Francesca Gino, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, said in a press release. "Both creativity and dishonesty, in fact, involve rule breaking."
Gino and her coauthor Scott Wiltermuth, an assistant professor at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California, came up with a two-part experiment to study the link between deceptiveness and inventiveness.
First, they looked at participants' readiness to lie. Gino and Wiltermuth told individuals that they would be compensated for each math problem they were able to solve. At the end of the test, they were asked to self-report that number. Little did they know that the researchers tracked their actual performance, too.
Almost 60 percent of the participants cheated by saying they were able to solve more problems than they did.
For the next task, the participants were asked to spontaneously come up with "remote associates." A remote associate is a word that is related to a set of words, for example, "sore, shoulder, sweat" (answer: cold). The exercise is a common way to measure creativity.
Gino's and Wiltermuth's data showed that those who lied about their results were better at the remote associate test than their counterparts. As it turns out, breaking the rules can serve as a great primer for out-of-the-box thinking, the two concluded.
Make use of the simple--and presidentially vetted--Eisenhower matrix.
Former President Dwight Eisenhower lent his wisdom--and his name brand--to this model for dealing with the all-important practices of decision making and time management. Using the Eisenhower Matrix, pictured here, you can evaluate every decision on how to manage your time based on two elementary questions: (1) How important is it?, and (2) How urgent is it?
Featured on Shane Parrish's Farnam Street blog, the matrix has made something of a comeback in recent years. (There's even an app for it, which you can find at Eisenhower.me.) "We often focus too strongly on the 'urgent and important' field, on the things that have to be dealt with immediately. Ask yourself: When will I deal with the things that are important, but not urgent? When will I take the time to deal with the important tasks before they become urgent? This is the field for strategic, long-term decisions," writes Parrish.
We wanted to know: How did Eisenhower himself assess urgency and importance? When you're the President, isn't everything urgent and important, at least to someone? Yes--but there are degrees. Mary Burtzloff, archivist at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas, helped us sort through them:
Urgent and important: In 1957, Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard and called in parts of the 101st Airborne Division to ensure the integration of an Arkansas high school after the state's governor defied Brown v. Board of Education.
Urgent but not important: In 1953, Eisenhower chose to break tradition and not wear a top hat to his inauguration. "He had to make a decision by the [inauguration] date, but it was a relatively inconsequential one," says Burtzloff.
Important but not urgent: In 1956, Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 into law. Two years earlier, he publicly shared his "Grand Plan" for upgrading America's highways. The idea first gripped Eisenhower back in 1919, when, as a lieutenant colonel in the Army, he took part in an arduous cross-country military convoy. During that trip, he saw firsthand the poor condition of U.S. roads.
Neither urgent nor important: Deciding whether to respond to notes from concerned citizens fell into this category. "Tens of thousands of letters came to the White House," says Burtzloff. "The staff responded to the vast majority, but on occasion one would be forwarded to his desk, and he might choose to send a personal response."Source: Farnam Street This article originally appeared at The Build Network.
A roundup of the day's news that can help you and your business succeed.1. Generosity of the Crowd
Crowdfunding hub Kickstarter has reached a big milestone: $1 billion pledged by the crowd to date toward projects--both successful and unsuccessful. In case you needed any reassurance, the stat suggests crowdfunding is here to stay.--TechCrunch2. South by Southwest
Which startup will become darling of the huge tech fest known as "South by"? Perhaps none, as was the case last year. The conference has become so large--this year around 30,000 people will attend the Interactive portion alone--that few new startups are able to rise above the noise the way Twitter and Foursquare once did. Stay tuned for SXSW coverage on Inc.com beginning Friday.--Wall Street Journal3. Open Windows
Under the new leadership of Satya Nadella, Microsoft reportedly may be losing two of its top executives: former Skype CEO Tony Bates and marketing head Tami Reller. If Nadella's recent promotion teaches us anything, though, it's that sometimes an organizational change up is just what a struggling company needs. --ReCode4. Rouble Trouble
Global financial markets fell early Monday, thanks in large part to an escalation of the Ukranian crisis in Crimea. Russian markets were the hardest hit, with the rouble dropping to an all-time low against the dollar and the euro.--BBC5. Photo Bomb
Ellen DeGeneres "broke Twitter" last night by posting a selfie with Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Spacey, and other Oscar elite that went on to garner nearly 2.5 million retweets in 9 hours--a new record. And $TWTR investors everywhere rejoiced. -- Twitter
Political and business observers have long speculated Sandberg would someday turn to politics. But a close source says it isn't happening now.
A source close to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says a report that she is planning a run for Senate "is 100% untrue."
The report was published this morning in The Daily Mail.
The Mail's Sara Nathan and David Martosko reported that Sandberg would "likely" challenge sitting California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer in a primary.
The general election for that seat isn't until 2016.
When the story first hit, we warned readers to take the news with a grain of salt. The Daily Mail is a British tabloid that doesn't have a great record of publishing breaking U.S. political news.
That said, there has long been speculation that Sandberg might quit Facebook for a political career.
During a trip to Silicon Valley last fall, a wealthy supporter of Democratic candidates told us there would be a lot of backers for a Sandberg run. But this supporter speculated Sandberg would run for Senator Diane Feinstein's seat when she retires in 2018.
In part, these political rumors circulate around Sandberg because she started her career in the Treasury Department during the Clinton administration.
The speculation has also been fueled by Sandberg's popular feminist manifesto, Lean In; the marketing of which has at times felt more like the beginning of a movement or a campaign than a mere publicity tour.
Sandberg joined Facebook as COO in 2007, following a successful run at Google, where she helped build the company's massive sales force. Prior to her joining, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had gone through several No. 2s. In Sandberg, he finally found someone who wouldn't pressure him to sell the company, didn't want his job, and was able to turn his motley collection of hackers into an organized, profitable big company.
At the World Economics Forum this past January, Sandberg reportedly said politics are "not for me." She added, "I just have a wholesale agreement that we need more women in politics."
Update: We updated this post with a response to the Daily Mail story from a source close to Sandberg.
This article was originally published by Business Insider.
Networking not working? Here are four common networking sins, and suggestions for mending your ways before another valuable connection is lost.
I attend a lot of networking events--so many that I can now spot a disingenuous, disinterested, unsuccessful networker from across the room. And I'm not alone in my avoidance of those people. Here are four common networking mistakes, and strategies for making more meaningful connections moving forward.1. You're not really there.
This is a horrible practice, yet so many of us do it. We concentrate so heavily on connecting with the right title that we begin to consider every midlevel conversation a missed opportunity for speaking with the people who really matter. This attitude will undermine your success.
Remember, the person across from you might not have a VP title or work for a large organization, but he is connected to a universe of people. You might need one of those connections someday, or you might just have an amazing conversation and learn something.
To help manage your anxiety, set a five-minute limit on all conversations. After that, unless you're having the time of your life, politely extract yourself by saying "I've enjoyed our conversation. Since we're both here to network, why don't we meet some other people?" Or "It's been great talking with you. Catch up with you later?"2. You put off networking until it's too late.
You stopped networking when you got your last job three years ago. Now you need to find a new job and you're frantically attending networking events and asking everyone you know, "Got a job?" Even friends roll their eyes when they see you coming.
Desperate job hunters are too keyed up and needy to truly connect. Their energy is awful--jittery and anxious--and the conversation is, frankly, boring ("A job? A job? A job?").
To avoid this, keep up with your contacts even when you don't need them. Keeping up doesn't need to be onerous. Some easy ideas include:
- Schedule a touch-base phone call every two months.
- Treat strong connections to lunch once a quarter or twice a year.
- Send links to articles or workshops that you know a specific contact will appreciate.
Notice that these last two suggestions require giving something to your contact. Giving is important. By giving, you model the kind of relationship you want to have: one in which people share and help each other.3. You network only with people like you.
You're tight with the people in your department. You go out for drinks on Friday nights, share pictures of your kids, and seek each other's advice. But this insularity backfires when you make a bad decision about your project. Everyone had agreed that it was the right way to go, but you all missed something completely obvious to people outside the department.
It's so comforting to connect with people like us. They share our jargon, our perspectives, and our interests. They reinforce our belief that we're knowledgeable, correct, and good at what we do. Unfortunately, they also insulate us from people who could help us broaden our skills and make better decisions.
Make sure that your network includes people with different skills, areas of expertise, backgrounds, and levels of responsibility than your own. Yes, you lose the comfort of associating only with people who think just like you do. But you gain information and perspectives that can help you fill your blind spots.4. You're too busy to follow up.
You connected with fascinating people at last year's conference. When you returned to the office, you got busy and forgot to follow up. Now you want to reach out to those contacts, but no one is returning your calls.
The underlying problem is that people often think simply collecting business cards is enough. Go to a conference, get a business card, and...done! If only it were so easy.
Getting a business card is only a first step. For a contact to become a true part of your network, you need to engage them. That means participating in some back and forth conversations after the event.
It's difficult to follow up when you've collected 100 cards. Instead of trying to connect with them all, use your plane trip home to identify the top five. These are the people who you most enjoyed, who intrigued you, and who you absolutely want in your network. Make sure to follow up with them.
See people shooting themselves in the foot with destructive networking behaviors? Let me know and I’ll address it in a future blog post.
Duds and rock stars are easy to spot. Here's an assessment system to help ensure that you don't hire the candidate who's almost good enough.
All of the best recruiters I know use performance-based job descriptions and follow this three-part guide to hiring when assessing candidates:
Rule One: Suspend judgment for at least 30 minutes. A good first impression may compel you to seek out evidence to justify a hire, and the opposite is true for candidates who begin on the wrong foot. Counteract this natural reaction by focusing on gathering specific evidence of exceptional performance during the work-history review.
Rule Two: Probe for an "achiever pattern" indicating the candidate is in the top 25 percent of his or her peer group. Specifically, look for the following:
1. People who change jobs in order to propel career growth, not seek security or avoid problems
2. A consistent pattern of taking on difficult technical projects beyond their experience level. Managers assign their best people to tackle the trickiest challenges for a reason.
3. A history of volunteering for risky assignments that stretch skills. Success builds confidence.
4. Early-career exposure to senior executives and important projects.
5. Important jobs on multi-functional project teams. Be wary of people whose team growth plateaued early.
6. A track record of being promoted ahead of peers. Award double bonus to candidates who did so at different companies and with different managers.
7. Company or industry recognition in the form of awards, honors, advanced educational opportunities, or speaking engagements.
Rule Three: Use the information gathered in that first 30 minutes to rank candidates according to the performance-based scale below. Note that it is a nonlinear scale -- in other words, Level 3 is reserved for the top 25 percent of people doing similar work. These are not C students; they are great hires.
From a practical standpoint, it's impossible to accurately assess a person in 30 minutes. However, half an hour is plenty of time to identify your Level 1s and Level 5s. Everyone else will fall in the Level 2-4 range. You should spend the next hour or two of the interview trying to make sure you don't hire a Level 2.
Avoiding the 1s is easy. You have to dig deep to avoid hiring a Level 2. Here is what you're looking for:
Level 1 -- Bottom Third: This candidate has neither the skills nor the motivation to do the work at a consistent level of quality. He or she gets hired when the interviewer emphasizes personality or first impressions, and fails to conduct due diligence (i.e., reference checking, background verification).
Level 2 -- Bottom Half: This candidate has the basic skills to do the work, but is not highly motivated. Suss this out by asking where the person took the initiative, went the extra mile, or volunteered to lead an important project. If you don’t find much, categorize the person as a Level 2. These people get hired by box-checking skills and riding the coattails of first impressions or intuition.
Level 2.5 -- Average: There is little evidence the person is out-performing his or her peers on any factors.
Level 3 -- Top 25%: This person demonstrates an "achiever pattern" indicating that she has been recognized by colleagues as a top performer and a promotable person.
Level 4 -- Top 5-10%: It's nearly impossible to determine whether someone is a Level 4 in just 30 minutes. Clues include getting some major company award like a fellowship, a special grant, extraordinary bonus or special assignment.
Level 5 -- Rock Star, Top 1-5%: Rock Stars typically have a track record of rapid promotions in different situations, always being assigned to the most important projects and succeeding, or receiving industry-wide recognition.
Follow the “No 2s” rule to ensure everyone you hire is a Level 3, 4 or 5. Some will be all-stars, some will be MVPs, and everyone else will make the starting team.