Posts

Social Skills: Valued Over Technical Ability?

18up-social2-master675-v2

As technology and automation replace workers, new jobs are created in order to support the machines and adapt to the shift in the economy. But as robots begin to perform surgeries, do your accounting, and manufacture your goods, there will be a shift in skills demanded of workers. Here are a few key changes that can be expected in the coming years:

  • Education: While social skills are not emphasized in today’s curriculum, emphasizing team work can help improve the social skills necessary to survive in today’s job economy.
  • The Current State of Jobs: “Despite the emphasis on teaching computer science, learning math and science is not enough. Jobs that involve those skills but not social skills, like those held by bookkeepers, bank tellers and certain types of engineers, have performed worst in employment growth in recent years for all but the highest-paying jobs.”
  • Women Thriving in the Workplace: “Women seem to have taken particular advantage of the demand for social skills. The decline in routine jobs has hit women harder than men. Yet women have more successfully transitioned into collaborative jobs like managers, doctors and professors.”

At your own workplace, ensure that cooperation and teamwork is emphasized and nurtured. Though your job isn’t likely to be immediately threatened by incoming technology in the immediate future, it may be important to have a backup plan in case it is. This excerpt from the article best summarizes what jobs are under pressure, and which will come to thrive in the coming years: “Jobs that require both socializing and thinking, especially mathematically, have fared best in employment and pay, Mr. Deming found. They include those held by doctors and engineers. The jobs that require social skills but not math skills have also grown; lawyers and child-care workers are an example. The jobs that have been rapidly disappearing are those that require neither social nor math skills, like manual labor.”

Click here to read the full article in The New York Times.

Don Charlton Breeds a ‘Culture of Candor’

CORNER-blog427 (2)

Don Charlton is the CEO of Jazz, a recruiting software firm. Recently interviewed for Adam Bryant’s Corner Office segment, Charlton discusses the challenges of succeeding in business as a black man and how that has shaped the culture of his business. Ranging from asking very direct questions to acknowledging the dog-eat-dog nature of business, his management style is blunt and hands-on. Here are some other key points Charlton had during his interview:

  • Be Self-Aware: “So you want the candidate to recognize the aspects of themselves where they can be confident and the parts they’re going to need for them to be successful in a new company.”
  • Be Prepared for Self-Improvement: “If you failed at this job in your first 90 days, what things wouldn’t you be doing well? And what don’t you know, but know you need to know, in order to be successful at this job?”
  • Ask Others How They Got to Where They Are: “The more you know about those journeys, the more people you talk to — just asking a simple question like “How did you end up getting into this career?” — the more you’ll start to recognize when the ground under your feet is moving you in a particular direction.”
  • Be Direct: “One thing is the culture of candor. After we have a big meeting with all of our employees, I might say, ‘Hey, you know that conversation that you’re going to have over lunch or at the bar where you might say, ‘Why don’t we do such and such?’ Well, that’s the question you should ask right now.'”

This “culture of candor” conditions employees to be ready for the challenges that are brought on by the nature of business. Hammering out weaknesses before they become relevant is key to success, and we believe Charlton’s culture does just that.

Read the full article in the New York Times here.

Business Cards: Still the Preferred Networking Tool

networking-event-tips-successfully-attend

First adopted in China over half a century ago, business cards are still commonly used today to exchange contact information. It may seem primitive in this day and age where technology has taken over most of our social interactions, but simply no app has truly been able to replace the business card. How can that be?

First off, apps can be cumbersome as both parties need to have the app in order to exchange the information. Their lack of popularity can be attributed to the following catch 22: nobody downloads the app because it is useless, and it is useless because nobody downloads it! Second, a trading off a business card leaves either party free to connect if they’d like to – but there is no obligation. However, adding one another on Facebook can be awkward as you may not precisely remember another’s name off the top of your head, or you may find it awkward to unfriend them after you completely lose touch.

This is not to say that people have given up on trying to develop apps in order to replace the business card, but none have succeeded. With other updates to the business card such as QR Codes, Social Media handles and high quality photos – we won’t be switching over any time soon. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Read the whole article in the Washington Post here.

4 Things to Know Before Working for a Startup

2015-08-18-1439924178-8129306-startup_companies_shutterstock_191094560-thumb

Between the struggle to find work right out of college and the glamorized lifestyle, startups are becoming an attractive option to millennials who are heading out of college. The culture is often seen as a work-hard play-hard environment where power lunches are followed by extravagant outings at night clubs in big city centers. But the truth is most startups take hundred hour weeks to get going, and are often difficult to get paid from. Here are some of the key things to know when you’re thinking about working for one:

Success Won’t Happen Overnight: “The best-kept secret in the startup world is that there is no such thing as an overnight success,” wrote George Bradt, founder of executive onboarding group PrimeGenesis in an article for Forbes. “Success typically takes six to seven years — if you survive the first three.”

Entrepreneurship Comes From Within: Being your own boss may sound great, but you’ll have to wear many hats on your road to success. From learning to code to becoming a proper salesman – you’ll be on top of many things at once.

You Don’t Have to Do it All Yourself: Don’t be afraid to outsource some things that other companies will be doing better and cheaper in order to make your company’s product better.

Funding is Hard Work: Securing funding from any source is a true challenge, and entrepreneurs today are further into debt than any other generation.

Ultimately, starting your own business can be one of the most rewarding things you can do in life. But be prepared to face the risks, uncertainty, and high probability of failure when you jump in, especially at a young age. Make no mistake – there is no such things as overnight success: it takes years of extreme persistence and refining your business in order to achieve success; be prepared for the challenges ahead.

 

Read the full article in The Huffington Post here.

3 Tips to Keep Your Start-Up Afloat

money-ship-sinking-web

Here at Voice of Reason, we are no strangers to start ups and start up culture. We see many of them rise and fall, and we know it takes much more than just hard work to really see success. Proper strategy and business will drive results within your company. Here are a few tips to ensure your business is headed in the right direction:

  • Know Your Target Market: Understand your customer and know what matters to them. Knowing what they want from your product is key to delivering what they need.
  • Have a Sound Business Model: Proper strategy for value creation and capture will ensure sustainability in your business. Dumping money into unnecessary products and services will hurt your bottom line.
  • Make Sound, Rational Decisions: It is important to be passionate and dedicated to your business, but ensure your decision making is based on hard data, and not your emotions. Too often charismatic leaders will bring their company to ruins because of ideas that should have been altered or even terminated completely.

Running your own business is one of the most challenging endeavors anyone could possibly take on, but with proper guidance, rationale, and hard work, your business will prosper. Know your customer, understand the value your business creates, and success will follow.

Click here to read the full article in Stanford Business

The Price on Your Privacy

privacy-personal-information

What lengths would you go to in order to avoid having your information sold to a company? You consent to having your information used by Facebook, Hulu, and other web sites in order for them to optimize your experience. But what if a web site gets sold? Well your information now belongs to that new company and guess what: they can use it however they’d like! Many sites state that they will not sell your information to anyone. For example, Nest, an internet-connected thermostat company purchased by Google for $3.2 Billion currently states that your information is not for sale and does not sell its customer list to third person parties. However, how much can you trust the service once it gets bought?

The information being sold can be extremely valuable in targeting you as it is extremely personal. For example, a Texas-based dating company by the name of Truth.com had information on 42 million of its customers’ names, birth dates, sexual orientation, race, religion, criminal convictions, photos, videos, contact information and more. When the company was sold, the state of Texas had to intervene and stop it from using the data gathered from all of its customers as it had promised to protect customer privacy in the user agreement. Because of cases like this, companies are rushing to weaken the language protecting your privacy, and making it easier to be sold. Does a company selling your information bother you? If so, you should consider reading the Terms and agreements before you decide to give your information away.

Read the full story in The New York Times here.

The Key to Entrepreneurship: Patience and Discipline

21-CORNER-blog427-v2

The New York Times’ Adam Bryant sat down with Jim Dolce, CEO of mobile security firm Lookout, to ask him about his experience in leadership, and what has led him to his success. As a seasoned entrepreneur, Dolce attributes his patience and company’s structure to his success. Here are a few key points from the interview:

  • On being patient in a fast paced environment: “It takes discipline … When you’re impatient, you attempt to get something done so that you can then, in serial fashion, go to the next thing. Instead, you have to go wide and work multiple issues at the same time and be patient on each of them.”
  • Accountability in Corporate Culture: “If we’re pushing down responsibility into the organization and empowering people to make decisions, then there has to be accountability. Otherwise, you’re just delivering the empowerment into a black hole.”
  • What He’s Learned From Being a Serial Entrepreneur: “When you’re working in a venture-funded start-up, time is of the essence. Investors get impatient. So the lesson there is that real breakthrough innovation is best achieved a step at a time. Technology is something that can be consumed in small bites. You don’t have to take a big bite all at once. “
  • What Advice Would You Give to Would-Be Entrepreneurs? “Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into and know that this is going to be hard and there’s going to be a lot of heavy lifting and there’s going to be a lot of disappointment.”

Becoming an entrepreneur involves a lot of hard work, stress, and uncertainty. However, there are fewer things more rewarding in life than having your own business succeed. Through patience and realistic expectations, discipline and accountability, you too can find success with your firm.

For the full article on The New York Times click here.

Properly Engaging Your Customers with Mobile Apps

mobile-apps-1

With apps being at the core of a consumer’s mobile experience, more companies are optimizing their apps for their consumers. Your company’s app experience is the difference between maintaining an active, happy userbase and an entire demographic labeling your firm as out of date and irrelevant. Ensure your app promotes your business with these simple tips:

  • Keep it Simple: A minimal interface is best, as is an interface that lets customers tailor their app experience to their needs.
  • Make it Fast: Ensure that your app’s code is clean and functional to increase load speeds. Just an extra second added to the load time can lose you 16% of your users.
  • Keep Content Useful: Don’t have an app for just the app’s sake. Whether it is a price comparison tool or a reference book for your product, ensure that your app provides utility for your consumer so they’ll have a reason to download it.

Having an app is a great way to maintain contact with your customers. It will also help you reach a demographic of tech savvy people that otherwise would have never interacted with your brand. By following these tips, you’ll ensure your app maintains a healthy relationship with its users, resulting in an increased number of engaged and loyal customers.

Read the full article here.

Apple’s 5 Big Announcements That Are Important For Your Business

Apple’s WWDC 2015 took place yesterday announcing all of its upcoming releases. How will their upcoming developments affect your business? Here are a few of their new developments which we believe will be important for you:
  1. El Capitan:This is the name of the newest version of Mac OSX. It will be a free upgrade for current Mac machines and boasts increased speeds and a more refined version of Spotlight.
  2. iOS9: Your iPhone’s new operating system will feature improvements to Siri and multitasking. It also introduces a new battery conservation mode. This should make buying a new iPhone 6 or 6+ more compelling.
  3. Apple Pay: Apple Pay has being introduced in the UK, expanding payment options for you and your business abroad.
  4. News: This is the name of the new app that features content based on your history and current context to bring you up to the minute  news that is relevant to you. News will be launching with free articles from The New York Times.
  5. Swift: Swift is Apple’s new open source programming language which will have a huge impact in the programming community.
Having your company adapt to these upcoming technologies shouldn’t be a hassle but it’s important to know what they are and how to utilize them. When it comes to adapting to the latest technology, the goal is to make it an invaluable tool, not an expensive hurdle to overcome.
Don’t fall behind, be in the know.

Apple WWDC 2015 Recap from Mashable

Gain a Competitive Edge in E-Commerce by Optimizing Your Mobile Site

afad

With mobile transactions gaining an increasingly large share of the e-commerce pie, small business owners need to start asking themselves: how can I best accommodate mobile shoppers?

Mobile’s global average share of e-commerce is 34% and in countries like Japan and South Korea that share is over 50%. While US conversion rates from mobile shoppers are still around 2.46% compared to Japan’s 9.35%, it is still important to note that one can gain a significant competitive advantage from optimizing their mobile e-commerce suite.

Here are a few common shortcomings of small business and easy solutions:

  • Use Mobile Solutions that Make Sense: Opt for all-in-one desktop and mobile e-commerce solution with write-once-publish-everywhere capabilities that will streamline your online presence into a cohesive entity.
  • Ensure Your Site is Mobile Accessible: Avoid large images or too much information in a single page as most mobile users are still running off of the slower 3G network. 40% of users will abandon a site if doesn’t load within 3 seconds so ensure your site will load quickly to avoid losing potential customers.
  • Use Everything that Mobile Has to Offer: Mobile users give your site a lot of information when they go onto your website. Take advantage of this data by adding elements that personalize the user experience for the customer.

Recently, Google has started to give an overwhelming priority in its search engine rankings to websites that are optimized for mobile. Ensuring your site is mobile-friendly will sharpen your competitive edge and vastly improve your online presence. Don’t let your business fall behind – optimize your e-commerce site today!

Click here for the full article on GetElastic