• The Many Ways You’re Marketing Even When You Don’t Even Know You Are

    The less your marketing resembles advertising the closer the connection you’ll make with your customers.

    Businesses work hard to create effective marketing campaigns, coming up with strategies carefully crafted to promote their brands both online and off.

    But whether you realize it or not, you can promote brand awareness even when you’re unaware of it. A company’s image starts with its leadership and spreads to its employees and the work they do.

    Here are some effective ways you build and grow brand awareness in ways you may not have considered.

    Merchandise

    If you’ve ever participated in a trade show or conference, you may have designed swag to distribute. Every T-shirt, tote bag, notepad, or pen you hand out goes toward building brand awareness. An old marketing rule states that a customer needs to see a message seven times before making a purchase decision. You don’t have to hand merchandise out to customers, though. You and your team members can wear and use products with your company logo whether you’re at a networking event, conference, or client meeting. Just some of the things that will help expose people to your brand include:

    Water Bottles: This is a product that is used constantly, and is an effective way to remind fans of your products. Brand a long lasting water bottle and you’ll be sure that it will be a good investment.

    T-shirts: Clothe your brand champions and they will promote you. Make t-shirts that people will love to wear and you’ll have walking billboards everywhere.

    Mugs: There’s nothing like fans looking at your logo every morning with their cup of Joe, and welcoming every day with your company.

    Live experiences.

    In person experiences are a fantastic way to engage with consumers – giving memorable time for new customers to learn about and interact with your brand. Companies like AnyRoad offer a powerful Experience Relationship Management platform that can help your brand leverage these live in-person branded experiences and gather data during the process.

    Tours: Tours and in-person experiences have become essential to winning over the hearts and affection of customers. Show them where your products are made, the birthplace of the company, or even the offices where all the magic happens. You’ll be sure to spawn word-of-mouth marketing and social shares, and fans will go home with a memorable story.

    Classes: Many businesses are always looking to learn as they grow. Teaching or sponsoring a class can also offer a beneficial marketing opportunity for business leaders. Whether you teach a class at your office, at a local university or learning annex, or through another source, you’ll be able to get the word out about the business you own as a part of the experience.

    Tastings and Samplings: For businesses that create and distribute consumables, taste testings and product samplings are the best way to win customers. Increasingly, food brands choose to set up a sample stand at local grocery stores or trade shows. Many customers get excited about free food and you can reach a large audience in one place.

    Companies like C.A. Courtesy specialize in setting up in-store samplings for brands of all sizes, putting their expertise to work in helping brands grow. If your brand has a kitchen, factory, or brand home, consider doing a tasting on-site to provide a much more immersive experience. All whiskey companies in the Kentucky Bourbon Trail offer tastings (with their tours) – letting fans sip their way through learning about bourbon.

    Workshops: Instead of committing to teach a regular class, your business can reap some of the same benefits by simply teaching a one-time workshop. Often these happen through industry-specific membership organizations or local networking opportunities. Even before you step up to the podium to kick off your presentation, you’re getting invaluable exposure for your business, since it will feature prominently in any marketing materials promoting the event.

    Events: Events provide solid networking opportunities, giving you the opportunity to interact directly with the very customers you’re trying to win over. Even if they don’t see personal value in the products or services you offer, chances are they’ll tell a friend or associate about it. In addition to local events and industry trade shows, consider hosting an event of your own. During the holiday season, you could have an open house to show appreciation to all your loyal customers. You could also host a day-long learning opportunity, inviting others in your industry to attend and learn more about the work you do.

    Networking: You may not put networking under the marketing category, but every interaction builds your brand. When you meet someone at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon and hand your business card across the table, you add yet one more person to those who know about your business. Over time, those connections lead you to other connections that help you move to the next level. Be aware of the many ways you represent your brand when you’re interacting with others, both personally and professionally, since even the clothing you wear and the things you say send a message about your business.

    As you interact with others and talk about your business, realize the many opportunities you have to get the word out. You’ll eventually discover new opportunities to meet customers and colleagues who can recommend your products or services to others. In the process, you’ll save time and money on marketing efforts, and be at the helm new pow.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • Don’t Bother Creating a New Product If You Won’t Create a Plan for Selling It

    A good idea with mediocre marketing is how businesses go broke.

    As entrepreneurs, we put our heart and soul into what we do and create. We start with a vision of something great that could help people. It can be a book, website, podcast, product or service. We take that vision and start working to make it a reality. We put in long hours and make constant changes to make the “thing” as close to perfect as we can. We get feedback and give that final push to make sure we’re releasing the best version of what was once just a thought in our minds.

    We know that it takes something stellar to do well in the market but there’s something that gets neglected. When it’s time to finally release the thing to the world, too many entrepreneurs realize they didn’t think through the marketing of it. The best product, tool or service in the world will remain unknown without good marketing and exposure. In that moment, entrepreneurs tend to throw together a last-minute sales “plan.”

    This plan has the entrepreneur reaching out to friends for a favor. They are private messaging connections on Facebook begging and/or trying to convince the connection why they should promote the thing to that entrepreneur’s network. They throw together shoddy social media posts that try to convince people they need to buy their thing. Meanwhile, their friends, business connections, and random social media connections can sense the desperation and are repelled away from even looking at what is being offered.

    A better way.

    I get these kinds of messages daily. An author worked very hard to write a good book. They are passionate about the message and created something special. But, the whole time they were working on the book, they did nothing to create an audience interested in buying the book. They didn’t build an email list well before the book launch. They didn’t spend enough time building their social media presence, and they didn’t assemble a team to help them launch the book. They made a great product but have no one anticipating or interested in buying that product.

    When they realize it, they send messages to me and others hoping we’d be interested in promoting the book. The reality is that the people they’re messaging will have zero interest in promoting the book to their audiences. They just aren’t invested.

    I was guilty of this very thing when I published my first book. I learned the lesson and built an audience well in advance of publishing my second book. First book sales were five copies sold in the first six months. The second book sales were 5,768 copies sold in the first month of launch. I sold books because I had built an audience and had a marketing plan.

    The better way is to build your customer base before you even start creating your thing. You build that customer base by providing free value. People don’t care about what you’re selling — they care what’s in it for them. You give them that value well in advance through blog posts, podcast episodes, video training, webinars, samples, articles, pro tips — anything that helps them get results in their life.

    You do this before and while you’re building what you will sell. When it’s time to sell, they will buy because they’ve already gotten value from you. They also see that you are an expert and that they will get even more value if they spend their hard earned money on your thing.

    A real sales plan.

    The key to selling lots of your thing is to have a real marketing plan. Many entrepreneurs treat their business as a fun hobby. A real business has a marketing plan in place well ahead of launching anything. You should sit down and think about what you will offer in your business over the next year. Put those things on a calendar. Then, plan out what content you’ll create leading up to the launch that adds undeniable value first.

    At the end of that content-value period, you launch the product or service as a way for those that got the value to get help reaching their next growth level. When you launch, you use all the tools, software and marketing channels to spread the word in a larger way. No last-minute social media messages begging for a sale.

    Don’t be that entrepreneur sending desperate messages asking for last-minute marketing help. Be the kind of entrepreneur who creates plans well before they start creating their thing. You work so hard to create something great that helps people — it deserves to be seen far and wide. You deserve to make more money and grow your business as a result of your efforts. You need a good product and a plan to sell it long before you’re finished creating your thing.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

    Call, text, email, or stop by our Los Angeles HQ today!
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  • 5 Things You Should Do to Stay Happy, Passionate and Productive While You Work

    Don’t fear Mondays — embrace them and improve them with these simple tips.

    Even with our diverse entrepreneurial responsibilities and our somewhat exciting livelihoods, it could be easy for my brother Matthew and I to get caught up in bland working routines. But, we’re able to guard against this pitfall of entrepreneurship with some useful techniques we’ve learned over the years.

    Here are our five tips to start every day motivated, productive and passionate.

    1. Set goals to get yourself pumped.

    It’s hard to kick butt when you don’t know what you want to do. At the beginning of the day, make a short list of goals to fulfill by the evening. They should be achievable and highly productive relative to your long-term goals. Everyone loves the feeling of crossing something off their list, and a physical recording of your objectives that you can check off will keep you motivated and on track throughout the day.

    2. Kick off your morning with something you enjoy.

    Matthew and I make it a point to always start (and end) our days on a positive note. What gets you going even on sleepy or extra busy days? Is it a jog during sunrise? A hot cup of coffee or tea? Listening to your favorite business podcast over breakfast? No matter what it is, make sure you carve out enough time in your morning routine to fit it into your day.

    3. Stay on a roll.

    Don’t let yourself get lazy. The “snooze” button on your alarm may be tempting, but lying around in bed — whether you’re asleep or browsing social media for ten minutes — will sap your motivation and prevent you from getting that energetic head start on your day. Don’t let the internet suck you in, no matter how many times you tell yourself it’s the last news story you’ll read or the last YouTube video you’ll watch. Stay on a roll and keep crossing things off that list of goals you created earlier.

    4. Check in with someone.

    Teaming up with someone not only helps hold you accountable, but it makes the work day eons more exciting and rewarding. Join forces with someone from your entrepreneurial community, a friend or a family member to update on your progress and bounce your energy off. My brother and I interact several times a day, so even though we live far apart, we’re never in business alone.

    The right person will help you push through when times get tough and celebrate your wins by your side. Make sure you do the same for them, too.

    5. Stay organized.

    Though your workspace should probably stay relatively clean and tidy, that’s not the only thing you need to keep organized to achieve what I call the “passion warrior” mindset. Lay out an agenda (in a paper planner or an organization app) so you aren’t scrambling to remember important dates and deadlines right before they sneak up on you.

    Keep your business plans and documented progress in a neat and easily accessible spot. Work on one or two tasks at a time instead of taking on everything at once. An organized mindset is a productive and passionate one.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • Employees Hate Those Goals the Company Sets. Here’s How to Change Their Minds.

    Goals that are vague, non-collaborative and unattainable may actually deserve employees’ wrath.

    When most of us think about employees disliking their work goals, the image that often comes to mind is someone who’s lazy and unmotivated. However, laziness and lack of motivation aren’t always the problem.

    In fact, even a company’s top employees occasionally find themselves dreading the goals or goal systems their managers put in place. When this disconnect grows too large, it becomes a fullscale epidemic made up of negative employee experiences and burnout.

    To make matters worse, as a Kronos and Future Workplace January survey found, 46 percent of HR leaders polled said that employee burnout is responsible for up to half of their annual workforce turnover.

    So, the takeaway here is that if employers don’t take a critical look at employee goals, they face losing motivated and quality team members. Plus, companies will miss out on a major benefit — improved performance — if they don’t help employees set impactful goals.

    The truth is that goals set right can be extremely useful: A 2015 March study published by Elsevier on ScienceDirect, for instance, found that goal-setting improved work performance by 12 to 15 percent, compared to situations involving no defined goals.

    The trick is finding the right way to establish goals. And here, unfortunately, a lot of employers fall short, leaving their workforce disengaged and unmotivated. Here’s a look at three possible reasons employees may hate their goals and what employers can do to help:

    1. They’re vague.

    Leaders have the ability to look at each employee goal and understand the big picture. However, not being fully involved in company-wide processes, many employees have no connection with their goals.

    The major issue with vague goals is they’re difficult to turn into actionable steps. When employees feel stuck on one goal for too long, with no direction, they quickly become frustrated and disinterested. For example, if employees see an objective directing them to “grow their sales,” they don’t truly know what that means or how to accomplish the goal.

    Tip: Sit down with employees and create both long- and short-term goals. This way, employees have a better idea of what’s needed to achieve each.

    Most importantly, be sure employees are making strong connections by attaching each short-term goal to a long-term one. This will help them stay motivated throughout the course of the year as they strive to reach those larger milestones.

    Google offers a good role model: The search giant uses objectives and key results (OKRs) to set ambitious goals for its teams and help them track their progress. Objectives might seem a bit beyond possible as a means to motivate employees. So, the company defines “success” as achieving 70 percent of those objectives.

    What’s more, it links key results to each objective. Measurable milestones are expressed, and desired outcomes are often measurable. This system has pushed Google’s teams to reach for peak performance and focus on thinking bigger.

    2. They’re not solutions-focused.

    Most of today’s employees are looking to better themselves and their company, while also making a difference. So, when employee goals aren’t tied to definitive solutions, employees become disconnected from and disinterested in the end results.

    Tip: Employees need more meaning attached to goals than simply a required number of sales calls or dollars earned each quarter. Frame goals around how to solve specific problems; bring team members in on department-planning meetings.

    Then, as employees begin tackling their goals, host weekly brainstorming sessions. This will give each team member an opportunity to openly discuss his or her goals and any trouble that’s arisen in reaching them.

    3. They don’t go beyond the individual.

    Just as employees want to solve problems, they want to see and advance the company’s bigger picture. In order to do that, employees need to understand the “why” behind their daily tasks and goals. When employees become aware of how their actions impact the company, co-workers and clients, they become far more motivated and enthusiastic about hitting their goals.

    Tip: Involve employees in company-wide goal planning. Show them larger-scale business objectives and how the company cascades them into division, team and individual goals. Get staffers involved in planning for the company’s future by asking for their feedback.

    Then, hold end-of-quarter events (big or small) to celebrate those employees and everything their goals are accomplishing. At this event, highlight positive client feedback, company growth or even how employee goals have bettered the workplace for all. This will get them excited and passionate about moving forward.

    4. They aren’t collaborative.

    When employee goals are left to each individual, the road to success can be long, exhausting and lonely. Even top employees can become overwhelmed when goals seem unattainable, and those employees feel alone. Each person should feel that he or she is working toward solutions and company-wide missions as part of a supportive team.

    Tip: Team up employees on certain goals to promote both collaboration and motivation. Give each group a time each week to meet and discuss goal details, expectations and future planning. This will give everyone the opportunity to improve teamwork while unifying the company through goal partnerships.

    One of the best companies that effectively gets everyone on the same page is Netflix. That entertainment organization focuses on the idea of “context, not control.”

    Management can help set the context for its workforce, empowering employees to make their own decisions and set impactful goals. But first those employees have to understand how their performance links to the organization’s bigger goals, the priority of the objectives and what success looks like in that context.

    Team meetings reinforce context and help employees better understand the company’s and their managers’ expectations. Employees can also inspire one another to define success and achieve it together.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • 5 Powerful Ways to Become Your Best Self

    The biggest obstacles facing every entrepreneur are within.

    You know you are capable of great things. You know that under the right circumstances you could go far. You believe in yourself and what you can accomplish. You may have a picture of yourself in your mind’s eye: a vision of making your dreams a reality, of achieving the success you know could be yours.

    Now all you need to do is become that version of yourself. You need to become your best you. How do you begin transforming into the person you believe you should be?

    It’s time to stretch yourself; to grow and allow yourself to develop. Think of this as a journey of self-discovery. Here are five powerful tips to get you on the road to becoming the person you were meant to be.

    1. Try new things.

    You can’t let yourself become complacent. Fear of change is your enemy. Kick things up a notch by regularly trying something new and unexpected. Is there something you have always wanted to try, but never made time for? It could be something adventurous, like scuba diving or skydiving.

    Or maybe you’ve always wanted to tap into your artistic side and learn to paint with watercolors or take a photography class. Whatever it is, it’s important that you make time to explore a new activity, skill or craft.

    Surprise yourself by pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Doing so will give your ingenuity and innovative side a boost. Plus, you will have discovered something new about yourself — perhaps a hidden talent or an ability to learn something you didn’t think you were capable of.

    Along with trying new things, remember to give yourself time to have fun, relax and unplug from daily stress. Downtime gives your brain a chance to recharge and stay open to new experiences. Filling up all your time with work, tasks and obligations is a ticket to mental and physical fatigue. Push yourself away from your desk and remember to embrace life!

    2. Pursue your dreams.

    What is your ultimate dream; the thing you want more than anything? What is your true calling in life? These are some of the important questions to ask yourself in order to unlock who you are meant to be. Pursuing your dreams will give you determination to see your goals through, and will spark your creativity and inspiration. Plus, you will be doing something that makes you happy and holds your interest.

    For many, the hardest part is identifying the goals you want to pursue. You may need to explore different opportunities to see what sticks and what doesn’t. You may want to focus on a problem that you want to solve or an issue you’re enthusiastic about. Remember, your goals and ambitions can change and morph over time — and that’s okay!

    The only rule you should heed is that your dreams must come from within yourself — they shouldn’t be a reflection of what others want for you or what you think you should be doing. If you’re pursuing something solely for the sake of a good income, or to live up to someone else’s expectations, you will fall short.

    3. Sustain your motivation.

    We all have days when we wake up just not feeling it. Those days when our brains won’t get going — we’d rather do anything besides working. But despite being low on energy or inspiration, you have to find a way to keep moving forward. Remember, progress is incremental. You have to find ways to keep that fire in your belly; to keep nurturing that deep desire to achieve.

    Keep your motivation alight by taking time every day to reignite that internal flame. Read blogs and books or listen to TED talks or podcasts on topics that enthrall you. Write down your goals and post them where you will see them every day, so you are constantly reminded of your purpose.

    Keep a notebook and jot down ideas when something inspires you. When you are feeling blasé or need a boost, take some time to revisit your old ideas. They may inspire you once more and help you regain your momentum.

    4. Hone good habits.

    People are naturally creatures of habit. These can be good habits that we have worked hard to instill, or bad habits that suck away our determination and leave us short of our goals. Building solid, reliable habits will keep you taking baby steps in the right direction and sustain you through lackluster periods. Good habits are important to creating your best self because they keep you moving forward when you’d rather be slacking off.

    Developing a habit takes time and repetition, and should be done slowly. Trying to change too many things at once will feel overwhelming and daunting. The goal is to make incremental changes to your lifestyle that eventually become a way of life. Remember that even small habits can have a powerful cumulative effect.

    For instance, if you have a goal of writing a book, develop a habit of sitting down and writing every day, even if it’s just for 30 minutes. Similarly, if you want to get into better shape, start exercising for 20 minutes a day and work your way up.

    5. Focus on self-care.

    If you want to operate at peak performance, you must incorporate self-care into your daily routine. Are you eating nutritious meals and getting plenty of sleep? It’s going to be hard to feel your best if you are run ragged and are stuffing your belly with junk food. Are you making time to exercise and stretch?

    When we work up a sweat, it releases the endorphins that build up with stress. In many ways, your body is like a machine. It needs to be tuned and tended to, or something is going to give. If you don’t care for your body, you may start to feel burned out and you may be more apt to get sick or feel overwhelmed.

    Don’t forget that your mental well-being also needs to be nurtured. Take time to meditate and focus on the things you are grateful for. Taking time to replenish your mind and spirit is paramount to sustaining mental health and giving you a sense of well-being. And that is key to becoming and maintaining your best self, now and over the long haul.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • The Mistake Every Entrepreneur Makes When Creating Their Product or Service

    Innovation starts with a problem, not a solution.

    Entrepreneurs love to gush about how they identified a problem, created a solution and then disrupted a market.

    In my experience, innovation doesn’t necessarily work like that. Often, creating the solution uncovers the problem. In industries with a long, that’s-the-way-it’s-been-done attitude, this realization can make the difference between innovation flops and multimillion dollar successes.

    People usually recognize a problem retroactively, when an invention makes legacy technology seem insufficient. Horses were fine until Henry Ford made the Model T. Few people realized that CDs and the Walkman were clumsy solutions until iPods. Taxis were good enough until Uber.

    The more that people take something for granted, they less they can verbalize its problems. No one told the guys at YETI, “Hey, could you engineer a $350, bear-proof cooler that keeps ice solid for seven days?” Until YETI made their cooler, no one realized how bad other coolers were.

    Asking people to describe their problems with a product or market rarely works. Instead, you must build narratives of what people currently do. By analyzing those narratives, you can discover patterns of behavior, preference and mindset that signal unmet needs, which are the kernels of great problems.

    Let’s walk through the process.

    1. Observe your customers in a natural setting.

    It’s tempting to believe we can discover everything about customers from our computer screen. Data, we’re told, reveals all. Unfortunately, charts and graphs can’t pick up the information you absorb visually. When you watch people use your product — or a competitor’s product — in their normal environment, you notice meaningful patterns. At Trager Grills, we call this “in-habitat observation.”

    Observations reveal the workarounds people develop to make a deficient product perform better. Last year, when my colleagues visited our customers’ homes to watch them grill, they noticed that many Traeger users had built makeshift extenders to their hopper, the container that holds wood pellets (fuel for their grill). They built those to avoid running out of pellets during eight- to ten-hour smoke sessions. Had we only observed people using our grills at Traeger headquarters, we never would have identified that problem.

    Rather than creating an artificial environment for observations, do it in your customer’s natural habitat. Go to people’s homes, offices and neighborhoods, or wherever they use your product.

    2. Humanize your surveys.

    Thanks to the world’s data obsession, we tend to use survey questions that produce quantifiable answers. The results are clean but misleading. We don’t ask these sorts of questions in real life.

    For instance, how often do you ask your closest friends to rate something on a one to 10 scale? How often do you ask anyone to answer on a scale from “Most Likely” to “Least Likely,” “Very Good” to “Very Poor” or “Most Important” to “Least Important?” Those are unnatural ways to think about the world.

    Instead, ask open-ended questions. One of my favorites is, “When people ask you about your [insert product], what do you brag about?” That’s a powerful question, because the aspects that attract appreciation and disappointment tend to be related. If you love the way your car drives, anything that diminishes the driving experience will be that much more noticeable to you.

    3. Ask people to prioritize.

    It’s hard to rate a single feature or idea independent of alternatives. But, if you ask people to rank a list of features — and do this with multiple consumer segments — you see what customers value.

    Let’s use your smartphone to illustrate how this works. It’s hard to assign a value to screen size independent of other factors. But, how would you rank screen size, camera quality, voice control, speaker quality and data storage in order of importance? The question forces you to consider what you use most often, how it affects your experience with the smartphone and what needs improvement.

    Ranking features bears a strong resemblance to how we differentiate between products. For example, when buying a mountain bike (common here in Utah), you might test and compare three to five bikes. The thicker tires on the Santa Cruz bike are nice. The dropper seat post on this Trek would be useful. The Specialized is more expensive, but comes with lighter components.

    What matters most to me? Alternatives sharpen our ability to distinguish priorities. The more we understand our customers’ priorities, the better we can craft solutions.

    So, conduct in-habitat observations, ask open-ended questions and get some quantifiable data by asking survey respondents to rank options. Your future customers still don’t have a problem, and they won’t until you build their feedback into a new product that provides a solution to all the deficiencies they experience now.

    Some companies mistake refinement for innovation. Others look for a grand problem and never find it. But, if you lead customers to the solution, then they’ll realize they have a problem.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • This Doctor Who Lived to 105 Believed That for a Long Life, You Shouldn’t Retire

    Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara believed that work was key for longevity.

    To live a long life, work forever. At least, that’s what one of Japan’s leading doctors believed — and he was his own proof.

    Before his death on July 18, 105-year-old Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara was a practicing physician, a chairman of St. Luke’s International University and the honorary president of St. Luke’s International Hospital. Up until a few months before his death, Hinohara was active in the medical community — treating patients, taking new appointments and working up to 18 hours a day.

    Often credited as a major contributor to the foundations of Japanese medicine and in positioning Japan as a world leader in life expectancy, Hinohara held a number of beliefs for healthy living and longevity. And one of his main ones was: “Don’t retire. And if you must, retire much later than age 65,” he told the Japan Times.

    Maybe we should listen to the wise words of Hinohara, who believed that because the average life expectancy of Japanese people reached 84 years as of 2015, then the retirement age should be pushed back too, because work is what helps keep people going. At least that was the case for Hinohara, whose career, in a way, kept him living.

    Janit Kawaguchi, a Japan Times journalist who considered Hinohara a mentor, said, “He believed that life is all about contribution, so he had this incredible drive to help people, to wake up early in the morning and do something wonderful for other people. This is what was driving him and what kept him living.”

    On top of working for as long as possible, Hinohara also preached other guidelines for a long life, including having fun, always taking the stairs, asking your doctor questions and unsurprisingly, not being overweight.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • The Future of Productivity: Teamwork and Collaboration

    Industry experts explain how teamwork and collaboration are changing.

    I recently wrote about the ways AI and machine learning will impact productivity. For this article, I’m focusing on teamwork and collaboration. I reached out to founders, productivity experts and futurists who work in this space every day to ask what their predictions are for the next five and 10 years. Their answers were enlightening.

    The future isn’t just coming for personal productivity; experts also believe that advances in technology will strongly affect teams and organizations. From productivity platforms that seamlessly integrate the tools we depend on, to new ways to collaborate in an ever-more diverse and distributed workforce, here’s how the future will affect team productivity.

    Embrace the power of teams.

    When I asked Dom Price, the head of R&D at Atlassian, he said, “The future of productivity is all about unleashing the potential of your teams.” According to him, “90 percent of organizations claim to be tackling issues so complex they need teams to solve them.” This doesn’t bode well for organizations in which collaboration has not become a priority.

    Price further stated that, “Diversity, distribution, timezones, cultural differences and hierarchical reporting lines all make teamwork hard. We all need to unlearn some old ways of working, and embrace diversity, inclusion and better collaboration to drive team productivity in this new era of work.” I think that as teams become more distributed in the modern workforce, wether its because of politics or the war for talent, collaboration is the number one factor that companies need to implement.

    It started with email.

    Bret Taylor, former CTO of Facebook, inventor of the “Like” button and co-founder of productivity suite Quip, sees a solution to this challenge in the way communication has changed to become less formal in recent years. He believes that “connected, mobile and social — work is about communication. It’s about people sharing work, ideas and opinions.”

    Like many of the experts I spoke to, Taylor sees the future in the form of modern productivity suites that are no longer just “designed to augment email.” “Combining content and communication into a single, seamless experience — word processing, spreadsheets, chat, checklists, live editing and much more. Everything will happen in one place, vastly reducing the need for teams to send long email threads with clunky attachments, or waste time in endless meetings.”

    Visual communication moves up.

    Others see the solution to this challenge in the form of even more casual communication techniques. Wendy Hamilton, CEO of TechSmith, sees the future in video and screencasting.

    “As younger workers progress higher in their careers, they are setting the standard for communication in a workplace and they are leading with a preference for visual communication.”

    She believes that “from corporate training to marketing, video will become ingrained in the fabric of how companies operate, both internally and externally.”

    “Businesses both small and large are using this technique to demonstrate processes, improve communication efficiency and effectiveness, increase productivity and eliminate unnecessary meetings,” she adds.

    Informal communication is on the rise.

    Project management and productivity writer for Gartner and Capterra, Rachel Burger, agrees. “Many workers are already used to collaboration tools like Slack and its alternatives. To them, particularly millennial workers, formal project management software, like Microsoft Project or VersionOne, seem cumbersome and clunky. The millennial workforce simply doesn’t want to work with these tools.”

    Like Hamilton and Taylor, she sees informal communication replacing traditional project management tools in the workplace. However, she cautions that “collaboration software can never fully replace project management.” Citing a Gartner report, she states, “Adopting these systems will require strong change management skills from the lead project manager. In the world of productivity, the transition may lead to an initial disorganization until common collaboration tools can create more effective tracking and filtering systems per project.”

    Teams are embracing technologies.

    I tend to agree. While I don’t believe that visual communication will ever replace all other forms of communication, I do see a strong trend towards visual work as a faster way to productivity. It also allows remote teams to feel more like a part of the organization. Think about how VR could revolutionize the way we work — putting distributed teams in the same virtual room for meetings.

    For now though, the future of team collaboration will definitely be mobile, facilitated almost entirely by the smartphone in the near future. In 10 years’ time though, I see a future that will include augmented processes and machine learning. Information being sent to you from your environment, whether it’s from Alexa in the corner of your living room or a notification sent to your phone via geo-tracking giving information about a person you’re meeting as you arrive. There is no doubt that collaboration will continue to evolve as new technologies become available. Just look how the iPhone changed communication.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • 7 Ways To Grow Your Personal Brand in Less Than a Week

    How to get your name out there, starting today.

    If you want to promote your name and your company online, you have to begin by building your personal brand. You have to begin thinking of yourself and your name as a brand. If you start there, everything else is easy.

    How do I know? I’ve spent years building my own brand, and I’m going to show you how to do it.

    1. Do a little preliminary research.

    Before you can build a positive personal profile online for yourself, you need to know what is already out there about you. Did you write a mean op-ed in college that has now made it into Google’s cache? Do you have some unsavory photos floating out there in the world wide web?

    Set up Google alerts using your name. Try to clean up any negative press or posts. You may even want to consider changing your name slightly — such as by using your middle initial or dropping our your nickname to build your new profile. Get your name as clean and professional as possible before you begin building your brand online.

    2. Get a website.

    If you’re going to make a name for your brand online, you need a site where your audience can visit so they can learn more about you. So, get a personal website with an “About me” page. There are lots of tools that you can use and websites you can visit to help you build your own website. Some of them are free. Some are paid, but remember,  you get what you pay for.

    If you want your website to be dynamic and professional-looking, make sure that you allot enough time, effort (and even money) into it. Use high-resolution photos of yourself and keep your copy short and engaging.

    3. Think about your audience.

    Who are you trying to reach? This is called your target audience.

    If I’ve learned anything in my years of marketing, it’s that you need to define your audience early on. Are you trying to direct people to your personal website so they can learn something from you? What do you have to offer them?

    By answering these questions, you’ll be able to get a better picture of your audience, and this will give you direction on how you communicate with them on your website and on social media.

    4. Make friends with influential people online.

    Influencers are some of your best assets as you build your personal brand. Over the years, I’ve made friends with people online who have big audiences in my industry. By building these relationships, my influencers are more willing to share or retweet my social posts to their audiences.

    If you get free exposure to an audience that you are already trying to target, it’s a win-win for both parties. Try out this technique to see if it works for you. If you have the right influencers in your circle, you’ll get more traffic to your website and more engagement in your social posts.

    5. The more people you meet, the better.

    When you are building a personal brand, the people you know can help promote you. You can’t limit these relationships to online. Perhaps you will reach out to some influencers online, and that is perfectly acceptable. I do that all the time, and it is rewarding to see these friendships form. But, you also need to do everything you can to meet influencers in other ways. Go to local events related to your industry. Network at happy hours.

    Tell everyone what you do everywhere you go, from the waiter at your favorite restaurant to the people you sit beside at church. Expand your circles — and your personal brand — simply by being present with others.

    6. Be you and only you.

    I’m offering you this advice because I learned the hard way. When you are building a personal brand, you do want to put your best face forward. But you also don’t want to create an online presence that isn’t true to who you really are. Social users are savvy about honesty — and they can tell when marketers are not being vulnerable and genuine.

    So make sure you are putting forth an honest profile of who you are. When you do this, you’ll effortlessly build trust.

    7. Capture information.

    Once you have started building a relationship with your online audience, it will be time to collect some of their information. This will be useful in building an email list, for example, so you can communicate more directly with your target audience.

    You can test this using creative ways. For example, once you have proven yourself as an established, trusted voice who offers valuable content, you can ask your audience to sign up for your monthly newsletter. You can also create videos to share your brand story. Incentivize this by offering a free giveaway or running a contest to generate excitement around free prizes. Make it fun for your target audience to participate.

    It can feel overwhelming as you get start building your personal brand. But, it takes less than a week to try out these tips. It’s easy to try one new strategy, and it won’t be long before you have a great target audience listening to you and looking to you for advice. That’s what a personal brand is all about.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • Amazon Delivery Drones May Scan Your Home and Suggest Repairs

    A new patent describes how Amazon’s drones will scan your home while delivering packages to see if anything needs fixing.

    Amazon is never one to miss an opportunity for new revenue streams, so while the company continues to develop automated drones for Prime Air order deliveries, it’s also thinking about what else they could do during the flight to your home. A new patent granted to Amazon this week reveals one potentially profitable extra function: assessing your house and seeing if any repairs are needed.

    The patent, entitled “Trigger agents in video streams for drones,” was spotted by Business Insider. It describes the drone being able to scan and capture data about a destination. That data is then received by a remote computer system and analysed to identify its characteristics.

    Why would Amazon want to do that? Because it opens the door to a new type of recommendation system, which in turn means the potential for a new revenue stream. For example, the data the drone captures could highlight a roof repair is needed, or your trees are overgrown or dying and suggest an appropriate fix/service. Maybe your garden looks like it needs some love, so Amazon will start recommending garden tools and accessories.

    Anyone concerned about privacy will be glad to hear Amazon views this as an opt-in service. So you can choose to have your home scanned by the drone, and if you do, expect a review to arrive via email, text message or through an Amazon account notification along with some purchase options.

    Whether this feature ends up being a core part of the drone delivery process is a secondary concern for consumers as well as Amazon. Right now, the focus is on actually getting the drones approved so they are allowed to fly and deliver packages. Only once that’s up and running should we expect additional services to start being offered.

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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