5 Tips For Hiring — And Retaining — Top Talent

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While technology may allow us to scale businesses exponentially (once we have identified the appropriate formula), hiring the right talent is still the most fundamental aspect of building a thriving business. The HR function of being a startup founder is perhaps the role we are least equipped to play. But it is, in my opinion, the most important.

 

Here are five tips for attracting and retaining talent that will support your vision, complement your strengths, and ultimately make your life easier – not harder:

1. Do some recon. Most talented people, unless they are fresh off the school boat, have a legacy. Chances are you can get to solid references via LinkedIn or your personal networks. Put on your CIA-slash-journalist hat and contact people your candidate has either worked with in the past or currently work with. Ask open-ended questions that allow references to draw their own conclusions without being forced into a yes or no answer.

2. Put them to work. Want to understand how someone will operate within the framework of your company? Give them a small project and see if they can hit a deadline. If it’s a developer related role, invite them to participate in an impromptu company hackathon. You get a pretty good idea of someone’s true colors after they are pulled out of their comfort zone. If excuses continually come up then they most likely aren’t the right fit. It’s not you. It’s them. Keep in mind, simply interviewing someone isn’t enough, and your gut can be wrong more often than you realize.

110412_office-skirt3. Are they are a culture fit? Start ups don’t often have a defined culture. But it’s there. During the early stages of building a company, it’s extremely important that new hires understand the pace, values, and vision of the company – even if unspoken.

Lou Gerstner is famous for giving powerful insights on hiring. In one of my favorite talks, I watched him draw a 2 by 2 matrix, where Talent/Ability made up one axis, and Culture/Fit made up the other axis. In a startup, anyone who isn’t outstanding in both can quite literally derail your efforts. No matter what, resist the urge to hire the genius that is also a “cultural disaster.” It will rip your company apart.

4. Assess characteristics and traits. You want personal characteristics that mimic business traits. If you’re hiring someone as your startup CFO to run a shoestring budget, it would be nice if they didn’t enjoy lighting their own money on fire. Again, these are all subjective. Make it easy on yourself. Find someone that lives/breathes/eats the traits that you want your business to exude. Three things I look for:

  • Special talent: What is the one capability they possess that no one else does? What is the skill that will enable them to provide leadership in a particular area of the company?
  • Willing to contradict you: This is crucial. Leaders can be wrong…frequently. When the team doesn’t step up to let the leader know, the business fails.
  • Smarter than you: Always hire A+ players. If you don’t for reasons you can control, then congratulations, at least now you know you’re a C player yourself.

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5. Love ‘em or leave ‘em. In the end, humans make the world go ’round, and no matter how disruptive or groundbreaking your tech, people still run the show. Building a great team is imperative to early company success. If someone isn’t a fit, it’s time to say goodbye. Nicely, but quickly.

 

 

 

Young Entrepreneur Council, Contributor

10 Tips for a Better Life!

Here are some great ways to pump up your exercise, eat better and live a healthier life.

Write down goals — a savings dollar amount or a target weight — on your bathroom mirror using a dry-erase marker. This simple act both helps confirm your commitment and serves as an easy and fun reminder to start each day with purpose.

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Get a dog. Research from Michigan State University shows that man’s best friend can be a powerful motivator to get us to exercise. The researchers found that study participants who owned dogs were more likely to be active than those who did not. In fact, the study found that 60% of dog owners meet federal criteria for regular, moderate or vigorous exercise, compared with around 30% of people who don’t have a dog.

Head outdoors. Burn calories when you chill out. A study found that going for a 20-minute al-fresco stroll twice a week was more restorative than getting the same exercise in an indoor environment like a mall.

Heavy, light, heavy, light. To hit the entire spectrum of muscle fibers, set your workouts so that you train heavy one day, then lighter with more reps later in the week.

workoutTrain with like-minded peopleWorking out in a gym with an intense atmosphere, surrounded by people who are equally as passionate about achieving their goals as you are, may push you further and do more for your progress than another factor.

Stay hydrated. Start the day with at least 16 ounces of water. It’s filling, and getting more will improve your recovery after workouts. Aim for one gallon per day.

Cut calories from chicken. Cooking up skinless poultry for dinner is an affordable, easy and fast way to get in quality muscle-building protein. To make it even better for you, skip the swirl of oil and use a tablespoon of water to coat your non-stick plan instead. Cover with a lid and let the chicken steam, then flavor with herbs and spices for a perfectly guilt-free meal.

Eat the oat. You know better than to skip breakfast and risk noshing on extra calories throughout the day. And while oatmeal is a great way to start your morning, you should always aim for balance in every meal. For a little protein and healthy fat, add slivered almonds, and for some fruit, throw in fresh or frozen berries or raisins.

Srong7Cultivate gratefulness. Start each day by remembering any experience that recently made you happy — the birthday card you got from an old friend, the compliment your colleague gave you or the tasty new recipe you cooked for dinner. “When negative events happen, people who regularly practice gratitude cope more positively,” says psychologist Alex Wood from the U.K.’s University of Manchester. “They’re less likely to run away from the problem or pretend it’s not happening.”

Curl up with a book. Six minutes could be all it takes to curb that frenzied feeling by 60%, say British researchers. So catch up on your overdue reading — even if you have to do it one chapter at a time.

5 Things I Tell Siri That Help Me Run My Business

From Steve Cooper.

Back in January Apple released an update to their mobile operating system. With that came a few upgrades to the personal virtual assistant, Siri. While those specific updates will be helpful for recreational applications (e.g., buying movie tickets) I thought now would be a good time to share how I’ve been using Siri on a regular basis, helping me save time while running my business.

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1. “Remind me…”I’m constantly juggling three or four projects at a time—and within each project there’s usually 10 or more things to accomplish. To help get things straight I set a lot of reminders. The great thing about Reminders within iOS is that I can have it remind me based on location. For example, if I’m out at lunch I can say, “Remind me to write my next Forbes column when I arrive at work.” Setting times is also very helpful when I need to return a call or fire off an e-mail before the end of the day. I can say, “Remind me to call John at 4:45pm.” When the reminder goes off, I can then tell Siri to “Call John.”

2. “Take a note…” As a writer, editor and CEO, I’m constantly brainstorming new ideas and taking notes. The quickest and easiest way I’ve ever found was to just tell Siri what I wanted and have it transcribe. The convenience of not having to grab pen and paper or even open a laptop is remarkably liberating. So I’ll say for example, “Take a note…Create a special Valentine’s Day section for the website and feature it on the homepage.” Sometimes I’ll create lists. With these you can tell Siri “new line” to create a line break for the subsequent item. If you are synced through iCloud (and this applies to other apps as well) your notes will be waiting for you on your computer when you’re sitting at your desk.

3. “Set a timer for…” Time management is a huge issue made much easier when I set time limits for myself. When I’m really in a crunch, I’ll give myself just a certain amount of time to accomplish something then move on, regardless of where I am in the process. The easiest way to make this happen is to set a timer. I simply tell Siri, “Set a timer for 45 minutes.” The timer begins counting down and in less than an hour I’m moving on to my next project. I find this works particularly well when I’m going through social network feeds where time magically vanishes as I dig through the information.

4. “Search the web for…” With all the fancy apps on the iPhone, this command almost seems like a quaint throwback to how we previously looked up information. Of course, that’s not the case. Whether it’s a business, a person or a query to see how a search term ranks on a mobile device, I’m regularly asking Siri for things like, “Search the web for Valentine’s Day ideas on a shoestring budget.”

5. “Launch…” Amongst many things that I do, I also write app reviews, which means I have pages and pages of apps. Even when I try to keep things organized with folders, it can be cumbersome to navigate the more than 200 apps I have on my iPhone. So I just tell Siri to “Open” or “Launch” a particular app by the app name. The best part is that Siri  is “smart” enough to open apps even if you don’t get the name exactly right. In fact, if I’m launching the Bank of America app, for example, I can say, “Open B of A.”

Do you have any Siri tips or tricks that help you? Please share them in the comments below.

 

 

Source: Steve Cooper

Use Supply and Demand to Profit in Everything you Do.

I am constantly analyzing how my endeavors are affected by supply and demand.

I believe that this effect is paramount in almost everything we do. Start taking this into account and begin profiting today.images (2)

 

 

 

Let’s look at a few specific examples.

Choosing Your Career

Decide on a career that has something that the other professions do not. Or more importantly will prepare you to do a very wide variety of things in the future.

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So let’s look at a few. Let’s consider Doctors, Dentists, Lawyers and Accountants. All are extremely great educations to get and all of them will allow you to provide a very nice living for yourself. I would argue that the Accounting role is the best here because it gives you the best education to tackle a very wide range of endeavors. You will be able to take that education and experience at a CPA firm and apply it to your investments and running any business you choose. In this case the Supply of directions you can go is virtually unlimited. I would recommend Accounting to anyone who is interested in business but doesn’t really know what they want to do yet.

Purchasing your Principle Residencehome

 

Look for a home that is special in some way compared to all the other homes in your price range. Real estate people are often heard saying “location, location, location” What they are really saying is, buy in an area that has a real advantage. So how can we apply this to our house hunting trip? Only buy in the really popular area or corridor. Never buy a home in the middle of a street. Go for the corner or the culti-sac. There needs to be something very special about your purchase. This will assure you get the most money for your home at re-sale.

Buying a Vacation home

miamiUse the Supply and Demand concept here to smooth out the bumps when the economy lulls and prices go down. Condos and homes hit all-time highs in 2007 and 2008. Some of these properties got killed when things cooled off. The ones that were on the right side of the supply and demand concept did very well. A good example of this happened in Miami, Florida. Condos downtown were hit very hard. Why is that? Virtually every tower downtown was similar to the next one. Why do I care if I am in one or the other? Many of them were in walking distance to the places people wanted to go so the supply was huge. On the other hand the buildings that were on the beach in the hot part of South Beach saw only a 10-15% decrease at the time and are currently again at all time highs! The Whole World looks at condos in the hot part of South Beach creating a very low supply and high demand. They are not looking at downtown Miami. This is also true for Vail, Colorado, Parts of New York City and Aspen, Colorado to name a few. I am not saying that you need to invest in one of these locations; I feel you need to be aware of the principle when making your choices. Always purchase the property that has some edge or niche like view, layout, location etc.

Investment Ideasinvestments

This is an area you need to look at the supply and demand concept regularly. Putting your investment dollars to work is definitely a key in achieving your financial goals. Make sure you have big time demand working in your favor. Several years ago I invested with some friends in a Luxury Suite at the new TD Ameritrade Ball Park in Omaha. This was not designed to be a big money maker but we wanted to earn back some of the expense of owning it by leasing it out during the College World Series.  We knew that the demand of fans both Corporate and individual would be high and the supply of luxury suites would be very low. This has worked out great for us. Many people saw the initial investment in the suite as extremely risky. The supply and demand concept worked beautifully. Keep this concept in mind every time you invest!

Picking a location for a Family Trip

vacationHere’s one that is a little more light hearted and doesn’t come with a lot of consequences. As we all get older and more successful we will want to take some great vacations with family and friends. By simply doing your homework you can find incredible resorts and destinations that are not quite yet to Peak Season or have just ended their Peak season. Pursue these to make your vacation dollars go much further. You will be amazed at the beautiful places you can stay at greatly reduced prices.

Action Steps for using Supply and Demand to Profit:

1. Unless you are set on a certain career path, get an education that allows you to do many different things. Most likely you will enjoy a wide variety of money making endeavors over the course of your life

2. When buying property, make sure your property is set apart from the others. Don’t be afraid to pay a little more for the great location, View etc. When it comes time to sell you will enjoy the same advantage.

3. When investing analyze how supply and demand will affect your deal.

4. Look when others are not for deals and discounts like booking a vacation, buying a new car or purchasing a summer lake home.

The Click Moment

I had the opportunity to see Frans speak last week at the EO University in Miami about his new book.

The Click Moment refers to keeping an open and inquisitive mind to seize the moment when you think of that great new idea. Frans mentioned that he thinks it is randomness and serendipity that makes us stand out and this is where great ideas are born.

Passion, often times is the best predictor of success. If you are passionate and pour your entire heart and soul into a project or business your success chances skyrocket. Follow your passion when encountering your click moments.

TheClickMomentCover300dpi1It’s not always the large company with all of the big bucks and planning sessions that gets the job done.

Often times it is momentum and surprise that are leading indicators of success to come.

Never tell yourself, ”if that was such a good idea someone would have already thought about it!”

I ordered the book on Amazon after I saw him speak and am anxious to start looking at it. Based on his presentation I would recommend you get it too!

 

 

 

Creative Ways to Finance Your Startup

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Every startup needs access to capital, whether for funding product development, for initial rollout efforts, acquiring inventory, or paying that first employee. Most entrepreneurs think first of bank loans as the primary source of money, only to find out that banks are really the least likely benefactors for startups. Thus “creative” really means maximizing non-bank financing.

While sizing up the alternatives, I couldn’t help but pick up a new book by Karlene Sinclair-Robinson with the creative title of “Spank the Bank: The Guide to Alternative Business Financing.” She plumbs the range of possibilities she has gained through personal experience as an entrepreneur, and as the “queen of business financing” in the financial industry.

The alternatives are many, but they are not easy. The most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who think creatively, not only about their offering, but also about how to acquire cash, and never say never. They have to sell themselves, more than their product, to close on every alternative source of funding. Here are ten top sources from Karlene, and my own experience:

  1. Personal financing. You may not think this is very creative, but I’m amazed at the number of “wannabe” entrepreneurs who haven’t thought about saving any money before they start, or wouldn’t think of using their own savings to start a business. No investor I know will put money into a deal if they see that you have no “skin in the game.”
  2. Personal credit lines. You qualify for a secured personal credit line based on your personal credit efforts. Credit cards can usually be acquired with even less history. We all know startups that have been built on one or both of these. The advantage is that you retain total ownership and control, as long as you make minimum payments.
  3. Family and friends. These are people who should believe in you, without waiting to see if your idea works, or waiting until you have real customers, revenue, and hard assets. These commitments should always be positioned in writing as promissory notes, or so-called bridge-loans, which convert to equity at a rate determined by later investors.
  4. Peer-to-peer lending. This is a process whereby a group of people comes together to lend money to each other. It’s been around many years, in examples like small business groups or ethnic groups supporting similar efforts. In the startup context, look for a successful entrepreneur peer willing to fund similar new ideas.
  5. Crowdfunding. Here you use the power of the Internet to find a crowd of like-minded people, with small amounts each, to back your efforts. This approach is now spreading beyond non-profits, pre-sales, and memento rewards, to soon include the ability to make small equity investments via the JOBS Act passed last year.
  6. Microloans. There are many private companies and non-profits that offer small loans, up to $35,000, to promote entrepreneurship, to individuals who would not normally quality for bank financing. Examples include Patriot Express loans, and Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) loans.
  7. Vendor financing. If you need tangible products for inventory, many manufacturers and distributors can be convinced to defer your payment until the goods are sold by you. This really means an extension of the normal 30-day payment terms to a period of months or longer, depending on your credit worthiness and extra fees.
  8. Purchase order financing. The most common scaling problem faced by startups is the inability to accept a large new order, since they don’t have the cash to build and deliver the product. PO financing companies will often advance the required funds directly to the supplier, allowing the transaction to complete and profit to flow to the startup.
  9. Factoring accounts receivables. This is similar in concept to PO financing, but applies the advance to unpaid amounts not yet due or collected from customers. In high volume startups starting to scale up, this will provide cash on your sales immediately, rather than waiting for 30 to 60 days or longer for payment.
  10. IRA financing. Investment Retirement Account funds and 401(k)s are arguably the single most accessible alternative funding source available today for startups. You can’t use your own self-directed funds for your startup, but many others are willing and able to loan you money from theirs, for the right terms, if they believe in you and your cause.

Note that we haven’t yet mentioned the more conventional and less creative finance approaches of Angel and venture capital investors. For new entrepreneurs, these sources usually have very little interest in early-stage or seed financing, preferring the lesser risk of a proven business model, with real revenue and customers, ready to scale. Yet creative thinking wins here also.

 

 

Karlene Sinclair-Robinson via SmallBusinessFundingGuide.com

Travel to Cuba….. Legally!

Eased travel to Cuba not without hurdles

By Patrick Oppmann
December 6, 2012
Watch this video

U.S. citizens allowed to visit Cuba

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Legal travel to Cuba has been off limits to Americans for decades
  • “Person-to-person” trips have been greenlighted by the Obama administration
  • Visitors are required to engage in continuous educational exchange with Cubans
  • Some operators have had difficulty renewing licenses to offer tours

Havana, Cuba (CNN) – Louis and Bonnie Waterer are spending their retirement filling up their passports, one stamp at a time.

“There are a bunch of people who are trying to visit 100 countries before they die,” Louis explained. “This is number 92 for us.”

Country No. 92 for the Waterers is Cuba.

But up until a few years ago, even for intrepid travelers like the Waterers, visiting Cuba would have been close to impossible.

After Fidel Castro took power in 1959, Cuba went from being a favorite getaway for Americans to a forbidden destination. Diplomatic relations and direct travel between the United States and Cuba were cut off. U.S. citizens spending money on the island faced hefty fines for “trading with the enemy.”

But after decades of false starts, the Obama administration has reinstituted legal travel to Cuba as a way to reach out to the Cuban people.

Classic American cars still in use in Cuba are a curiosity to many foreign visitors.
Classic American cars still in use in Cuba are a curiosity to many foreign visitors.

It’s called “people-to-people” travel, and like nearly everything involving Cuba, controversy and politics are involved.

“Each traveler must have a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba,” U.S. Treasury Department guidelines for people-to-people travel read.

And while the policy has kicked off a debate over what is a “meaningful” exchange, a flood of tour operators has entered the still uncertain world of travel to Cuba.

Americans interested in visiting Cuba are offered free CDs of Cuban music and itineraries that include welcome parties thrown by Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, neighborhood watch groups that were created with the original intention of thwarting a U.S. invasion.

U.S. visitors coming via people-to-people trips shouldn’t plan on too much beach time.

Under the Treasury guidelines, tour operators have to plan nearly every moment of the trip, and “people-to-people” travel, at least in theory, excludes relaxing by the pool with umbrella-topped beverages.

Most Americans heading to Cuba go there with the desire to make a connection with a people they have been prevented from having any contact with for generations, according to Tom Popper, president of tour operator Insight Cuba.

“The fact that we are bringing Americans and Cubans together is an incredible thing,” Popper said. “It’s a travel experience for the Americans, it’s an incredible thing for Cubans. Some people in parts of Cuba that we go to, they have never met an American before.”

People-to-people travel isn’t cheap or easy, though.

A four-night “Weekend in Havana” trip from Insight Cuba, without airfare, sells for about $2,000 per person.

Popper said the high cost of the trips is due to the fact that operators need to send guides with their groups to make sure they comply with the travel regulations, and that renewing the yearly U.S. licenses can take months of navigating a complicated bureaucracy.

This summer, many tour operators wondered if people-to-people travel was ending altogether, after the Treasury Department started denying licenses to operators or simply not responding to renewal requests.

Several tour operators contacted by CNN said that the process may have gotten bogged down by the fact that the renewal application is now close to 200 pages and requires that the operators explain how each stop on the itinerary fosters greater friendship between Americans and Cubans.

“You are doing what you are supposed to be doing and they are changing the rules as we go. The guidelines are so vague,” said Michael Sykes, who ran the now-defunct Cuba Cultural Tours.

Sykes laid off four employees after his license expired in July and he was denied a renewal.

“The language is so cryptic and so bureaucratic,” he said. “Your average Joe isn’t able to do this — you have to understand the secret language.”

Sykes has now hired what he calls a “bloody expensive” lawyer to guide him through the process, and he is hopeful that he will be back to planning trips to Cuba by the end of the year.

Some of the tour operators said they thought the logjam of licenses was caused by political pressure, particularly from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, who is Cuban-American and a fierce critic of the trips

“What these trips are all about is tourism — it’s tourism,” Rubio said on the Senate floor last year. “The reason why this is problematic is it gives money to the Castro government.”

Jeff Braunger, a Treasury Department official in charge of the Cuba licensing program, said in an e-mail that the department has approved licenses for 180 tour operators while making sure they are complying with the law.

“We revised the license application criteria to stress to applicants the seriousness of the requirements of the people-to-people licensing program, in part because of reports we received concerning travel under the licenses,” Braunger wrote.

But some tour operators said travel to Cuba has become more cumbersome and expensive but is not policed any better. One tour organizer mentioned a recent licensed trip offered by a competitor that included a day of scuba diving.

“It’s supposed to be people-to-people, not people-to-fish,” the operator said.

And there are also complications on the Cuban side, tour operators said. Last month, the Cuban government abruptly canceled the landing rights for two of the U.S. charter companies operating flights to the island, reportedly over a payment dispute.

But most of the tour operators said the headaches are worth the opportunity to get in early on American tourism to Cuba, which is sure to explode when the embargo is eventually lifted.

“We are back in operations and hope to stay that way,” Insight Cuba president Tom Popper said. Popper had to lay off 22 people as he waited several months for the company’s license renewal, but he has since added 17 back to his staff.

On a trip organized by Insight Cuba last month, 12 Americans spent their morning speaking with Cubans at a neighborhood art project.

Michael Pettit, a lawyer from Charleston, South Carolina, said he was struck by Cuba’s many contrasts during his first people-to-people trip in May.

“I love Cuba,” he said. “The history, music, people, photography — it’s all beautiful.”

The politics and uncertainty over continued travel between Cuba and the United States persuaded Pettit to book another trip right away, he said.

“One of the reasons I came again is because you never know when you might be able to come legally.”

The Most Successful Leaders Do 15 Things Automatically, Every Day

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Leadership is learned behavior that becomes unconscious and automatic over time.  For example, leaders can make several important decisions about an issue in the time it takes others to understand the question.   Many people wonder how leaders know how to make the best decisions, often under immense pressure.  The process of making these decisions comes from an accumulation of experiences and encounters with a multitude of difference circumstances, personality types and unforeseen failures.   More so, the decision making process is an acute understanding of being familiar with the cause and effect of behavioral and circumstantial patterns;  knowing the intelligence and interconnection points of the variables involved in these patterns allows a leader to confidently make decisions and project the probability of their desired outcomes.   The most successful leaders are instinctual decision makers.  Having done it so many times throughout their careers, they become immune to the pressure associated with decision making and extremely intuitive about the process of making the most strategic and best decisions. This is why most senior executives will tell you they depend strongly upon their “gut-feel” when making difficult decisions at a moment’s notice.

Beyond decision making, successful leadership across all areas becomes learned and instinctual over a period of time. Successful leaders have learned the mastery of anticipating business patterns, finding opportunities in pressure situations, serving the people they lead and overcoming hardships.   No wonder the best CEOs are paid so much money.   In 2011, salaries for the 200 top-paid CEOs rose 5 percent to a median $14.5 million per year, according to a study by compensation-data company Equilar for The New York Times.

If you are looking to advance your career into a leadership capacity and / or already assume leadership responsibilities – here are 15 things you must do automatically, every day, to be a successful leader in the workplace:

1.  Make Others Feel Safe to Speak-Up

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Many times leaders intimidate their colleagues with their title and power when they walk into a room.   Successful leaders deflect attention away from themselves and encourage others to voice their opinions.  They are experts at making others feel safe to speak-up and confidently share their perspectives and points of view.   They use theirexecutive presence to create an approachable environment.

2.  Make Decisions

Successful leaders are expert decision makers. They either facilitate the dialogue to empower their colleagues to reach a strategic conclusion or they do it themselves.  They focus on “making things happen” at all times – decision making activities that sustain progress.   Successful leaders have mastered the art of politicking and thus don’t waste their time on issues that disrupt momentum.  They know how to make 30 decisions in 30 minutes.

3.  Communicate Expectations

Successful leaders are great communicators, and this is especially true when it comes to “performance expectations.”   In doing so, they remind their colleagues of the organization’s core values and mission statement – ensuring that their vision is properly translated and actionable objectives are properly executed.

I had a boss that managed the team by reminding us of the expectations that she had of the group.   She made it easy for the team to stay focused and on track.  The protocol she implemented – by clearly communicating expectations – increased performance and helped to identify those on the team that could not keep up with the standards she expected from us.

4.  Challenge People to Think

The most successful leaders understand their colleagues’ mindsets, capabilities and areas for improvement.  They use this knowledge/insight to challenge their teams to think and stretch them to reach for more.   These types of leaders excel in keeping their people on their toes, never allowing them to get comfortable and enabling them with the tools to grow.

If you are not thinking, you’re not learning new things.  If you’re not learning, you’re not growing – and over time becoming irrelevant in your work.

5.  Be Accountable to Others

Successful leaders allow their colleagues to manage them.  This doesn’t mean they are allowing others to control them – but rather becoming accountable to assure they are being proactive to their colleagues needs.

Beyond just mentoring and sponsoring selected employees, being accountable to others is a sign that your leader is focused more on your success than just their own.

6.  Lead by Examplelead

Leading by example sounds easy, but few leaders are consistent with this one.   Successful leaders practice what they preach and are mindful of their actions. They know everyone is watching them and therefore are incredibly intuitive about detecting those who are observing their every move, waiting to detect a performance shortfall.

7.  Measure & Reward Performance

Great leaders always have a strong “pulse” on business performance and those people who are the performance champions. Not only do they review the numbers and measure performance ROI, they are active in acknowledging hard work and efforts (no matter the result).    Successful leaders never take consistent performers for granted and are mindful of rewarding them.

8.  Provide Continuous Feedback

Employees want their leaders to know that they are paying attention to them and they appreciate any insights along the way.  Successful leaders always provide feedback and they welcome reciprocal feedback by creating trustworthy relationships with their colleagues..   They understand the power of perspective and have learned the importance of feedback early on in their career as it has served them to enable workplace advancement.

9.  Properly Allocate and Deploy Talentdeploy

Successful leaders know their talent pool and how to use it.  They are experts at activating the capabilities of their colleagues and knowing when to deploy their unique skill sets given the circumstances at hand.

10.  Ask Questions, Seek Counsel

Successful leaders ask questions and seek counsel all the time.  From the outside, they appear to know-it-all – yet on the inside, they have a deep thirst for knowledge and constantly are on the look-out to learn new things because of their commitment to making themselves better through the wisdom of others.

11.  Problem Solve; Avoid Procrastination

Successful leaders tackle issues head-on and know how to discover the heart of the matter at hand.    They don’t procrastinate and thus become incredibly proficient at problem solving; they learn from and don’t avoid uncomfortable circumstances (they welcome them).

Getting ahead in life is about doing the things that most people don’t like doing.

12.  Positive Energy & Attitudeenergy

Successful leaders create a positive and inspiring workplace culture.  They know how to set the tone and bring an attitude that motivates their colleagues to take action.   As such, they are likeable, respected and strong willed.  They don’t allow failures to disrupt momentum.

13.  Be a Great Teacher

Many employees in the workplace will tell you that their leaders have stopped being teachers.   Successful leaders never stop teaching because they are so self-motivated to learn themselves.  They use teaching to keep their colleagues well-informed and knowledgeable through statistics, trends, and other newsworthy items.

Successful leaders take the time to mentor their colleagues and make the investment to sponsor those who have proven they are able and eager to advance.

14.  Invest in Relationships

Successful leaders don’t focus on protecting their domain – instead they expand it by investing in mutually beneficial relationships. Successful leaders associate themselves with “lifters and other leaders” – the types of people that can broaden their sphere of influence.  Not only for their own advancement, but that of others.

Leaders share the harvest of their success to help build momentum for those around them.

15.  Genuinely Enjoy Responsibilities

Successful leaders love being leaders – not for the sake of power but for the meaningful and purposeful impact they can create.   When you have reached a senior level of leadership – it’s about your ability to serve others and this can’t be accomplished unless you genuinely enjoy what you do.

In the end, successful leaders are able to sustain their success because these 15 things ultimately allow them to increase the value of their organization’s brand – while at the same time minimize the operating risk profile.   They serve as the enablers of talent, culture and results.

Decide which ones of these you are good at and which ones you need to work on!

To be a great leader you will be aware of and working on these continuously!

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Source: Forbes.com

Want to Make Money Online? Top 10 most visited web sites.

Though the Internet is made up of tens of millions of web sites, people spend the vast majority of time on just a handful of them. According to comScore, an Internet analytics company, Americans spend most of their time online on Facebook — 10.8% in December 2012. That month, Americans spent another 10% of their Internet time on Google properties, including Google search and YouTube. Based on comScore’s report, “U.S. Digital Future in Focus 2013,” 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 Web properties where people spend the most time.

Many of the top online sites have managed to significantly increase the time spent on their sites in the past year due to the rise in mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones. The top 25 digital media properties in December 2012 increased their reach through mobile channels by 29% compared to December 2011. Some increased significantly more than that. ESPN expanded its digital reach by 56% compared to 2011, more than any of the 25 largest online properties except for Pandora.

The growth in mobile engagement has not necessarily been good news for Internet companies. “There is a concern that there is trading dollars for dimes,” Andrew Lipsman, comScore’s vice president of marketing and industry analysis, told 24/7 Wall St. in an interview. Advertising rates on mobile devices are just a fraction of what they are on desktop computers.

Carmela Aquino, a senior marketing manager at comScore, added that while there certainly has been a shift to mobile devices, their usage has often complemented personal computer usage rather than replaced it altogether.

Still, some of the move to mobile has cannibalized surfing the Internet on a PC. To compensate for some of the loss, along with generally trying to boost engagement on all platforms, there has been an increased emphasis on video content at many of these properties, which commands much higher advertising rates.

Sites such as Yahoo! and AOL have made significant investments in video content through Yahoo! Finance’s live programming and The Huffington Post’s HuffPost Live. Lipsman also points out that Google’s Youtube site, which has been streaming videos since 2005, has seen the quality of its user generated content increase significantly. Higher quality and longer form content should improve advertising revenue.

“What the Internet went through in the past decade, mobile will have to go through the next decade,” Lipsman said. “But over time, advertising dollars follow eyeballs.”

There have been other reasons that engagement has risen on many of these properties. Portals, such as Yahoo!, are offering customized content to individual users based on their search history and what their friends have shared on social media. Both Aquino and Lipsman argue such customization makes the sites more attractive to users.

Furthermore, engagement also has risen and likely will continue to do so on sites such as Amazon and eBay due to the growth in online retail. For instance, during the final three months of 2012, eBay sales rose 18% compared to the prior year. At Amazon, those sales rose 35%.

Based on comScore data, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 Web properties where Americans spend the most time relative to the total amount of time spent on the Internet. We also looked at comScore data on the total number of unique visitors for each of the 25 largest Web properties in December 2012, breaking down the number of visitors by desktop computer and mobile device. In addition, we considered the market share for Internet search engines and social media, also provided by comScore.

10. ESPNESPN
–0.6% of time spent online
–38.7 million desktop visitors
–34.6 million mobile visitors
Based on unique visitors, ESPN is the 23rd largest U.S. digital property and the No. 1 sports-related property. ESPN has made a push into mobile during the past year. Between December 2011 and December 2012, mobile engagement based on unique visitors grew 59%, more than any other of the top 25 Web properties, except for Pandora Media (P). ESPN currently offers 13 different mobile applications, including SportsCenter Feed, to get up-to-the-minute “news, scores, video and audio,” along with the company’s Fantasy Football and Fantasy Baseball apps.

9. Craigslistcaigslist
–0.7% of time online (tied for 7th)
–60 million desktop visitors
–mobile visitors, not applicable
Craigslist says it has more than 50 billion page views monthly. But while people tend to spend a hefty amount of time searching through apartment listings, job openings and personal ads on the site, Craigslist has yet to roll out a mobile application for either smartphones or tablets, leaving third-party Craigslist apps to fill the void. The company only recently released mobile-friendly features, such as a map view and an image-heavy grid view of its offerings.

8. TumblrTumblr
–0.7% of time online (tied for 8th)
–desktop visitors, not available
–mobile visitors, not applicable
Tumblr is not among the 25 largest Web properties in the U.S., but those who go on the site spend a lot of time there. Consuming 5.7% of all time on social media, more time is spent on Tumblr than any other social media property, except Facebook. Lipsman of comScore noted that Tumblr really took off in the past year and continues to grow each month, particularly among those ages 25 and under. He noted that Tumblr’s growth has been more organic, rather than through overt attempts by the company to increase engagement. Notably, the site has become popular for fashion and humor blogging.

7. eBayebay
–0.9% of time online
–77.7 million desktop visitors
–39.5 million mobile visitors
EBay (EBAY) has benefited from the large growth in online retailing. In the fourth quarter of 2012, revenue in the marketplace division — the e-commerce segment of the company — grew 16% compared with the same quarter the prior year. EBay also owns PayPal, an online payment processor. The service generated $1.5 billion in revenue during the fourth quarter of 2012, an increase of 24% compared to the prior year. PayPal processed roughly 700 million payments during the quarter and had 123 million users. Like most of the top digital properties, the use of eBay on mobile devices has grown rapidly. Between December 2011 and December 2012, mobile engagement based on unique visitors grew 23%. The company has been working to get more people to use its service on tablet devices. CEO John Donahoe has publicly said that people are more likely to purchase items on a smartphone or tablet than on a PC.

6. Amazonamazon
–1% of time online
128.2 million desktop visitors
–80.5 million mobile visitors
Similar to eBay, Amazon.com (AMZN) has been a huge beneficiary of the increase in online shopping. During the most recent holiday season, sales conducted by a third-party on the web site were up 40% from the same time in 2011. Amazon also is directly challenging Hulu and Netflix (NFLX) with its Prime Instant Video service. The streaming service has added movies and TV programs to its portfolio in recent months. Amazon recently announced that shows from the E.W. Scripps (SSP) network of channels — such as HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel — will soon be available through the service. Amazon has made significant inroads in mobile usage as well. More than 80 million people in the U.S. accessed an Amazon site through a mobile device in December 2012, higher than all Web properties except for Google, Facebook and Yahoo!

5. AOLaol
–2.5% of time online
–117.6 million desktop visitors
–62.4 million mobile visitors
AOL (AOL) has transformed itself from a company that was primarily providing dial-up Internet service into a media company. The company’s most popular news web site is The Huffington Post, which it bought in 2011. The Huffington Post, like many news outlets, recently has devoted many of its resources to video programming. The company launched its news streaming service, HuffPost Live, in August 2012. The service was created with the intent to engage users. Features, such as the “join this segment,” let viewers speak their mind via webcam.

4. Microsoftmicrosoft
–4.9% of time online
–170.9 million desktop visitors
–55.2 million mobile visitors
Microsoft’s (MSFT) sites, including MSN, Hotmail and Bing, had more unique visitors in December 2012 than any other web property except for Google and Yahoo! Bing, the second-most popular search engine behind Google, has seen its share of search grow slightly, from 15.1% of all searches in December 2011 to 16.3% in 2012. Microsoft has made a major push into mobile with its new Windows Surface Tablet, which was released late in 2012.

3. Yahoo!yahoo
–7% of time online
–185.8 million desktop visitors
–92.2 million mobile visitors
Although Yahoo! (YHOO) has struggled in recent years because it has lost advertising market share to Facebook and Google, it is still the most popular portal on the Web. The company recently redesigned its web site to make it more personalized. The site includes a live news feed customized to visitors’ interests and to what their friends share on social networks. The company has made significant strides in mobile as well.

2. Googlegoogle
–10% of time online
–193.8 million desktop visitors
–113.7 million mobile visitors
Google (GOOG) owns YouTube, by far the most visited video site. In 2012, more than 188 billion videos were streamed on the web site, according to comScore. In comparison, only about 8.9 billion videos were streamed on Hulu, the second-most visited video property. Despite becoming a multidimensional company over the years, Google shows no signs of letting up on its original business of search. A whopping 66.7% of Internet searches were conducted through Google in December 2012, up from 65.9% during the same month of 2011.

1. Facebook.comfacebook
–10.8% of time online
–150.3 million desktop visitors
–97.7 million mobile visitors
More time is spent on Facebook (FB) than any other site. Of all time spent on social networking sites, 83% is spent on Facebook. The company has made significant inroads in mobile, with time on Facebook’s smartphone applications making up 23% of all time on apps. However, Americans have shown they are willing to give up Facebook — albeit only for a short time. According to a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 61% of the site’s active users have taken a multi-week break from the social network at some point. Furthermore, 27% of people surveyed said they planned to spend less time on Facebook in 2013, while only 3% intended to spend more time on the site.

 …. BizOwnersUnlimited.com! Well I guess we have more work to do. I’ll keep you posted as to when we break the top 10!

We just passed 2,000 Likes!

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Source:Samuel Weigley, 24/7 Wall St.