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An Internet Second

Monday, August 19th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/56380734@N05/6540313461/Entrepreneurs of all stripes are obsessed with the Internet.

They are not alone; most companies, from enterprise to micro biz feel the same way.

And it’s true whether their business is social media, ecommerce or a “real product” for the “real world.”

For those who are curious here is a realtime visual graphic that puts the impact of the Internet in perspective.

In one second on the Internet there are…

Flickr image credit: Jens Rost

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Entrepreneurs: Jane Smorodnikova

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

LikeHack logoJane Smorodnikova, founder and CEO of LikeHack, is a client of mine.

When we first met in January she told me that she started the company out of desperation when she found herself drowning in information.

Everybody knows that there is just too much information out there, but people can’t (won’t) stop reading their social media because they have to stay in touch with the industry and people they follow and I am no different. I was constantly checking my Twitter updates and wasting valuable time on useless information and that was the inspiration for LikeHack—I needed to stay in touch and still be productive. During my recent trip to Boston many people, from designers to investors, said they needed it, too, and now I see them among our users.

Jane is a smart, talented, serial entrepreneur (four companies and counting) located in Moscow, Russia.

Social media isn’t my thing, but those I know and work with see it as both boon and bane; research shows that active users receive around 284 stories everyday, but read only ten.

That’s a lot of chaff to plough through to find the wheat.

A healthy lifestyle means not only eliminating junk food from your body, but also getting rid of mental junk food, AKA useless content. For some, entertaining themselves by chatting, skimming and looking at funny cats on social media makes sense, but many of us use Twitter and Facebook as a content source for our professional lives. We designed LikeHack so people could receive curated content from people they trust.

So what exactly does LikeHack do?

  • It filters the clutter from your social media stream to give you a digest of interesting stories using the magic of crowdsourcing by like-minded people;
  • takes the complete history of shared links and builds a filter utilizing similar people who like the same links from the same sites as personal content curators;
  • adds full text search to all the user’s content, including incoming content and all stories that were ever liked, shared or tweeted; and
  • supports Facebook, Twitter, Gmail (to collect links shared via e-mail), RSS, as well as importing Google Reader history, while future versions will include LinkedIn and Google+ integration.

And in case you’re wondering, I do content development and write, including the scripts for videos like this one.

Image credit: LikeHack

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Social Change

Monday, February 11th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/birgerking/6875893248/I admit it; as anyone who is a frequent reader I am not a Facebook devotee; for that matter, I’m not a lover of social media in general, which includes MMOG sites such as World of Warcraft.

What people who know me don’t understand is that my dislike goes beyond my personal feelings.

Gently put, I am tired of and disgusted with number of intelligent, talented people who contact me for help balancing the demands on their time.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to help people and rarely charge for one-off questions, but it’s getting ridiculous.

For years I found that the problem wasn’t so much one of time management, but one of saying yes too often.

But, as the saying goes, that was then and this is now.

Now, after a week of time tracking exercises and analysis they come back and admit to two, five, eight or even more hours spent on various forms of social media.

Most are surprised; they had no realization that the number was so high.

I suggest they cut back and use the time where they feel pinched—the reason they contacted me in the first place.

Some are sheepish, others are defiant, but most are reluctant to reduce their time.

I didn’t need to read about “FOMO addiction” (the fear of missing out on something or someone more interesting, exciting or better than what we’re currently doing), I was hearing about it directly from the addicts.

So it was with great delight that I read that there is a growing rebellion.

The main reasons for their social media sabbaticals were not having enough time to dedicate to pruning their profiles, an overall decrease in their interest in the site, and the general sentiment that Facebook was a major waste of time.
About 4 percent cited privacy and security concerns as contributing to their departure. Although those users eventually resumed their regular activity, another 20 percent of Facebook users admitted to deleting their accounts.
(…)The report found that 42 percent of Facebook users from the ages of 18 to 29 said that the average time they spent on the site in a typical day had decreased in the last year. A much smaller portion, 23 percent, of older Facebook users, those over 50, reported a drop in Facebook usage over the same period.

Perhaps people are finally kicking their FOMO addiction, facing up to their time usage and figuring out that there is more to life than what’s online.

I find it most interesting that the decrease in Facebook usage is twice as high in the young (18-29) than in the over 50 crowd.

Who’d a thunk it?

Flickr image credit: birgerking

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Entrepreneurs: Perceptions

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/gagillphoto/3892952235/

Perceptions rule.

The things you say and do hold no reality other than the way they are perceived by your audience, which includes employees, customers and investors.

Everything people hear, see or do is filtered through their MAP (mindset, attitude, philosophy™) and they a respond according to their perceptions, whether they reflect the actual intent or not.

In other words, what one person says and the other guy hears may have nothing to do with each other.

That’s why it’s critical to the success of your venture to actively manage the perceptions of all stake-holders.

Perceptions are a constantly moving target that are distorted by a variety of circumstances—from something as minor as feeling out of sorts to global economic turmoil; as a result the communications that were understood today may not work tomorrow.

Experts constantly bandy such words as ‘authentic’, ‘honest’, ‘sincere’ and similar terms in talking about how to change perceptions, when, in fact, there are only two things working together that actually accomplish perceptional change.

Those two things are actions and time.

If over time actions don’t back up whatever is said, then perceptions won’t change.

The greater the change the greater the cynicism as to how real and how sustainable it actually is, so don’t expect instant buy-in.

Communicate what you’re going to do and then do it consistently over and over forever—and watch perceptions change.

Flickr image credit: Gregory Gill

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If the Shoe Fits: a Thought for Christmas

Friday, December 21st, 2012

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mDuring a recent conversation I heard several entrepreneurs say they didn’t have time, energy or money to invest in the holidays.

I get the money, but they are wrong about the time and energy, especially if they would like to goose both the creativity and productivity of themselves and their teams.

Just the act of getting away from your startup for a few hours, both mentally and physically and eating real food will clear your brain leading to improved creativity and productivity.

You can accelerate that improvement if you unplug completely.

The holidays are a tough time of year for many; even more so if they are feeling rejected—whether real or perceived.

Consider research that shows rejection and/or loneliness make people cold physically.

Just touching a warm object seems to stem the feelings and subsequent depression and even loss of self-worth.

Notably, touching something warm after a feeling of ostracism — like holding a warm cup of coffee — is enough to halt and even reverse some of these autonomic responses. (…) The findings, of course, don’t just explain why so many lonely souls while away the hours at Starbucks, embracing a warm cup of joe.

Knowing that, you can jump your own efforts an order of magnitude by taking a few minutes to reach out to someone who is lonely—not just now, but all year ’round.

You may not have the time or energy to volunteer, but how much effort does it take when you’re getting coffee to chat with a stranger who looks down?

And who knows what great things will result or what you may learn from your caring effort?

Option Sanity™ is inclusive.
Come visit Option Sanity for an easy-to-understand, simple-to-implement stock allocation system.  It’s so easy a CEO can do it.

Warning.
Do not attempt to use Option Sanity™ without a strong commitment to business planning, financial controls, honesty, ethics, and “doing the right thing.”
Use only as directed.
Users of Option Sanity may experience sudden increases in team cohesion and worker satisfaction. In cases where team productivity, retention and company success is greater than typical, expect media interest and invitations as keynote speaker.

Flickr image credit: HikingArtist

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Ducks in a Row: Back to the Future

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

http://www.flickr.com/photos/akandbdl/5195990844/If your career or the time you’ve spent following business up and downs doesn’t predate 2006 then you may not think of Best Buy as a successful, cutting edge, highly innovative company with an exceptional culture.

I was reminded of Best Buy when I read that many managers still believe that time = productivity and contributions.

The managers viewed employees who were seen at the office during business hours as highly “dependable” and “reliable.” Employees who came in over the weekend or stayed late in the evening were seen as “committed” and “dedicated” to their work.

That attitude is so last century; in fact, it harks back to the industrial and even the agrarian age when presence was synonymous with productivity. After all, you couldn’t produce if you weren’t there.

The reason I thought of Best Buy is because it was the 2003 birthplace of ROWE.

ROWE means Results Only Workplace Environment and I’ve written about it previously (a lot), so rather than write the same stuff again here’s a link to my ROWE-related posts.

As to its success, in 2010 total revenues increased 11% and $4.4 billion of that was from female customers—not your typical big box tech shopper (at that time).

The extraordinary culture created by Brad Anderson that allowed for the bottom-up development of something as revolutionary as ROWE can not be overstated.

But it can be repeated.

Flickr image credit: Keith Laverack

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Miki’s Rules to Live by: Grow and Let Go

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Do you struggle to remember people and events from the past?

Hazy memories of someone or something that loomed enormous at the time?

The author of this short mantra is unknown. I took the liberty of broadening it to encompass more of life than just people, because, for me, it says something very important about growing and letting go.

There comes a point in your life when you realize
Who/what matters, 
Who/what never did, 
Who/what won’t anymore… 
And who/what always will. 
So, don’t worry about people and events from your past, 
There’s a reason why they didn’t make it to your future.

2200537863_e0127d5573_m

Flickr image credit: Hryck

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If the Shoe Fits: Time for Culture?

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

3829103264_9cb64b9c62_m Kevin Spencer http://www.flickr.com/photos/vek/3829103264/A founder recently told me he didn’t have time for culture because he was too busy building an awesome company.

As I said in a post this spring, Culture is the font, the basis, the cause and the reason. It is the Tao.

I said that in response to Culture Trumps Strategy Everytime by Nilofer Merchant, author of The New How (use link above).

Culture doesn’t happen, it stems from your MAP (mindset, attitude, philosophy™) and is propagated through the company as you hire.

At first it’s easy to share your culture because startup founders hire their friends and friends of fiends, which usually means that everyone shares similar values.

But if you don’t think your culture through and then embed it deeply in your company’s soul it won’t stick—to work culture must act like stain not paint.

Perks don’t equal culture; perks are easy, culture takes work,

Your work unless you are comfortable building your company based on someone else’s cultural vision or their interpretation of yours.

Culture is your present and your future; your edge to achieve success and its lack is the first step to failure.

Do you have time for culture?

Option Sanity™ is culture
Come visit Option Sanity for an easy-to-understand, simple-to-implement stock process.  It’s so easy a CEO can do it.

Warning.
Do not attempt to use Option Sanity™ without a strong commitment to business planning, financial controls, honesty, ethics, and “doing the right thing.” Use only as directed.
Users of Option Sanity may experience sudden increases in team cohesion and worker satisfaction. In cases where team productivity, retention and company success is greater than typical, expect media interest and invitations as keynote speaker.

Image credit: kevinspencer

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How Do You Manage Time?

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Shocking answer, you don’t.

“JoAnne” called me today and asked if I could help her with a time management problem.

When I stopped laughing I told her that time management definitely did not fall within my expertise and asked why she had called me when there was so much information available.

JoAnne said that she had read multiple books and blogs and even paid for some coaching, but none of it worked. She said a friend had mentioned me and after reading some of the posts she thought maybe she had a MAP problem.

Now, that is a totally different kettle of fish, so I asked her to describe what she did and where she was having problems.

I kept notes and occasionally asked her how much time something took; then I added up the total.

No wonder JoAnne had a problem, the total was close to 22 hours and that was before such minor details as eating and sleeping.

When I mentioned this JoAnne agreed, but said she couldn’t bare to give up any of her activities and did I have any suggestions; maybe a MAP solution.

I explained that every solution was a MAP solution because if it isn’t synergistic with MAP it wouldn’t work. That simple.

I told Joanne that she already knew what to do; she just didn’t want to do it.

I said that there is no such thing as time management, only self management, and nobody could do that for her, it was definitely a DIY project.

First she needed to dig into her MAP and identify those things that made JoAnne herself, and then she needed to compare that list to the “activities she couldn’t bare to give up.”

The activities in sync with her MAP she would probably keep, those that weren’t were the ones most easily curtailed or dumped—although she might choose to change her MAP if one turned out to be important enough.

The lesson here is that the next time you’re overloaded remember that while you can’t manage time you can manage yourself. Start with your MAP, focus on what is really important and let go of the rest.

Image credit: digital_a on sxc.hu

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CandidProf: Professors wear many hats

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

By CandidProf, who teaches physics and astronomy at a state university. He shares his thoughts and experiences teaching today’s students anonymously every Thursday—anonymously because that’s the only way he can be truly candid. Read all of CandidProf here.

Some students are just “needy.”  They want you to spoon feed them.  They don’t want to study and learn on their own. They would rather call you or email a question than to look it up on the textbook’s index.  They won’t go to the library to do research for a paper.  Instead, they’ll just do an internet search.  But they won’t do that to answer any of their questions.  If they hit a tough homework problem, they will come ask rather than try to puzzle it out for themselves.I don’t mind helping the ones that truly need it, but many of my students don’t even try on their own.  You can help too much.  Then the students don’t learn how to learn. But these are not the students that I really have a tough time with.  I can tell them to go work on it themselves for a while and then come back if they can’t figure it out after they try on their own.

However, some students have extracurricular life events impacting their studies.  Sometimes they tell me what is going on as a way to explain why they are not doing well.  Others try to turn to me for counsel.  Those students are tougher to deal with because my training is in physics, astronomy, and astrophysics—not in psychology.  In fact, I have never even taken a psychology class.

Students often look up to their professors, so that is why they come to me with all sorts of personal issues.  All I can do is listen sympathetically and be supportive, much as anyone else would do.  I can’t really advise them on anything.  I do tell them that perhaps they should talk to someone at the college’s counseling office, but often they are unwilling to admit that they need professional help.

Many students are dealing with difficult issues.  Most college students are young adults, and they are facing adult situations for the first time without parental support.  I also have many students returning to school after several years, and they face major life issues, too.  I have students come to my office to explain why they are not studying and doing well, only to break down in tears.

I have had students whose parents died; students going through a breakup with someone (including some students whose spouse left them midway through the semester); students losing their jobs; and even students diagnosed with cancer or other life threatening illness.

In most cases, there is nothing that I can really do.  I do listen and that is sometimes the best thing that I can do and sometimes that is all that they need.

I have spoken with faculty here and elsewhere, and we all agree that this is not something that we were prepared to deal with when we became college professors.

Our training is in our academic fields, but we are called upon to be teachers (most of us have never even had any training on how to teach), role models, mentors, counselors, friends, and even in-loco parents for our students.

A few universities offer support for faculty placed in these unfamiliar roles, but most do not, so we are left to fend for ourselves.

Join us next week for Dealing with student disabilities

Is this multi-role profile good for the students? For the professors?–Miki

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Image credit: Dave-F CC license

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