How to Overcome Your Fear of Failure

A client (who I’ll call “Alex”) asked me to help him prepare to interview for a CEO role with a start-up. It was the first time he had interviewed for the C-level, and when we met, he was visibly agitated. I asked what was wrong, and he explained that he felt “paralyzed” by his fear of failing at the high-stakes meeting.

Digging deeper, I discovered that Alex’s concern about the quality of his performance stemmed from a “setback” he had experienced and internalized while working at his previous company. As I listened to him describe the situation, it became clear that the failure was related to his company and outside industry factors, rather than to any misstep on his part. Despite that fact, Alex could not shake the perception that he himself had not succeeded, even though there was nothing he could have logically done to anticipate or change this outcome.

People are quick to blame themselves for failure, and companies hedge against it even if they pay lip service to the noble concept of trial and error. What can you do if you, like Alex, want to face your fear of screwing up and push beyond it to success? Here are four steps you can take:

Redefine failure. Behind many fears is worry about doing something wrong, looking foolish, or not meeting expectations — in other words, fear of failure. By framing a situation you’re dreading differently before you attempt it, you may be able to avoid some stress and anxiety.

Let’s go back to Alex as an example of how to execute this. As he thought about his interview, he realized that his initial bar for failing the task — “not being hired for the position” — was perhaps too high given that he’d never been a CEO and had never previously tried for that top job. Even if his interview went flawlessly, other factors might influence the hiring committee’s decision — such as predetermined preferences on the part of board members.

In coaching Alex through this approach, I encouraged him to redefine how he would view his performance in the interview. Was there a way he might interpret it differently from the get-go and be more open to signs of success, even if they were small? Could he, for example, redefine failure as not being able to answer any of the questions posed or receiving specific negative feedback? Could he redefine success as being able to answer each question to the best of his ability and receiving no criticisms about how he interviewed?

As it turned out, Alex did advance to the second round and was complimented on his preparedness. Ultimately, he did not get the job. But because he had shifted his mindset and redefined what constituted failure and success, he was able to absorb the results of the experience more gracefully and with less angst than he had expected.

Set approach goals (not avoidance goals). Goals can be classified as approach goals or avoidance goals based on whether you are motivated by wanting to achieve a positive outcome or avoid an adverse one. Psychologists have found that creating approach goals, or positively reframing avoidance goals, is beneficial for well-being. When you’re dreading a tough task and expect it to be difficult and unpleasant, you may unconsciously set goals around what you don’t want to happen rather than what you do want.

Though nervous about the process, Alex’s desire to become a CEO was an approach goal because it focused on what he wanted to achieve in his career rather than what he hoped to avoid. Although he didn’t land the first CEO job he tried to get, he did not let that fact deter him from keeping that as his objective and getting back out there.

If Alex had instead become discouraged about the outcome of his first C-level interview and decided to actively avoid the pain of rejection by never vying for the top spot again, he would have shifted from approach to avoidance mode. While developing an avoidance goal is a common response to a perceived failure, it’s important to keep in mind the costs of doing so. Research has shown that employees who take on an avoidance focus become twice as mentally fatigued as their approach-focused colleagues.

Create a “fear list.” Author and investor Tim Ferriss recommends “fear-setting,” creating a checklist of what you are afraid to do and what you fear will happen if you do it. In his Ted Talk on the subject, he shares how doing this enabled him to tackle some of his hardest challenges, resulting in some of his biggest successes.

I asked Alex to make three lists: first, the worst-case scenarios if he bombed the interview; second, things he could do to prevent the failure; and third, in the event the flop occurred, what could he do to repair it. Next, I asked him to write down the benefits of the attempted effort and the cost of inaction. This exercise helped him realize that although he was anxious, walking away from the opportunity would be more harmful to his career in the long run.

Focus on learning. The chips aren’t always going to fall where you want them to — but if you understand that reality going in, you can be prepared to wring the most value out of the experience, no matter the outcome.

To return to Alex, he was able to recognize through the coaching process that being hyper-focused on his previous company’s flop — and overestimating his role in it — caused him to panic about the CEO interview. When he shifted gears to focus not on his potential for failure but on what he would learn from competing at a higher level than he had before, he stopped sweating that first attempt and was able to see it as a steppingstone on a longer journey to the CEO seat.

With that mindset, he quickly pivoted away from his disappointment at not getting the offer to quickly planning for the next opportunity to interview for a similar role at another company.

Remember: it’s when you feel comfortable that you should be fearful, because it’s a sign that you’re not stepping far enough out of your comfort zone to take steps that will help you rise and thrive. By rethinking your fears using the four steps above, you can come to see apprehension as a teacher and guide to help you achieve your most important goals.

By: Susan Peppercorn / Harvard Business Review

Susan Peppercorn is an executive career transition coach and speaker. She is the author of Ditch Your Inner Critic at Work: Evidence-Based Strategies to Thrive in Your Career. Numerous publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, the Boston Globe, and SELF Magazine have tapped her for career advice. You can download her free Career Fit Self-Assessment and 25 Steps to a Successful Career Transition.

Source: Pocket

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References:

17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd  What Is Creativity?

We All Have It, and Need It 

How to Think Critically: 5 Powerful Techniques 

What Are The Levels Of The Mind And How To Improve Them 

How To Improve Short Term Memory: 7 Simple Ways to Try Now

7 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd

  Is There a True Measure of Success? How to Define Your Own

  How Do You Measure Success: 10 New And Better Ways

  50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn

 8 Daily Habits of the Successful People (Which Are Rare)

3 Ways To Identify A Toxic Coworker And Set Healthy Boundaries

It only takes one toxic worker to wreak havoc and negatively impact an entire workplace. Toxic coworkers not only make work dreadful and unpleasant, but they harm the productivity and morale of everyone around them. They create unnecessary drama, erode the culture, undermine the values of the company and destroy trust within the team.

According to a Fierce Inc. study, four out of five employees currently work or have worked with a potentially toxic coworker. Randstad conducted a study exploring why employees leave their workplace and found 58% have left or are considering leaving due to negativity, office politics and disrespectful behavior.

It’s easier said than done to not allow the toxicity of one person to affect your own work especially if you have to work closely with them. Working with a toxic coworker is a powerless and draining experience. Furthermore, it’s not always easy to identify a toxic coworker especially if you consider them to be a friend.

If you feel drained or negative after interacting with them, this could be a sign they’re toxic. Toxic behavior can manifest through words, body language, disrespecting boundaries, hoarding information, purposely undermining others, not following through on promises or commitments, insults and rumors, to name a few.

Here are three ways you can identify a toxic coworker and set healthy boundaries.

Their Victim Syndrome Prevents Them From Taking Responsibility MORE FOR YOUForget About San Francisco And Silicon Valley—Miami Is Planning On Becoming The Next Great Tech HubMeet Canada’s Best Employers 2021Building The Resilient Organization

Employees with a victim mindset will always talk about how much they hate their job, their boss, their team or the company. There’s a difference between having a bad day and someone who revels in creating misery for others. Dan Bailey, president of WikiLawn Los Angeles Lawn Care, explained, “the more people they can get to share in their discontent, the better they feel.”

Despite being disengaged, toxic coworkers will make excuses for their performance when given constructive feedback with the belief that it’s a personal attack against them. Moreover, they hold grudges and never lose a chance to share how they’ve been wronged even if those situations have been rectified.

Those who are new to a company are prone to being swept up into the negativity as they’re eager to make friends and unaware of a toxic persons patterns. For this reason, it’s important to do pulse checks to see if this is a cultural thing or a person thing.

Here are some coping strategies to help you bounce back from a toxic encounter and stay mentally strong:

  • Surround yourself with uplifting coworkers who take responsibility and learn from their mistakes
  • Seek out your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or professional help to learn how to better manage the situation and have a safe space to talk about it
  • Talk to your HR department and keep the conversation based on facts rather than an individual’s personality. Be prepared to provide specific examples of incidents
  • Incorporate social activities you can look forward to after work
  • Practice gratitude and meditation

They Gossip More Than They Knowledge Share

Gossip is the root of many internal company problems. It breeds negativity and spreads quickly. Yasir Nawaz, digital content producer at Pure VPN, said, “toxic colleagues drain your energy and are a constant source of demotivation at work. The worst part is you may not realize you’re in the company of a toxic colleague until it’s too late.” He added, “there’s one sure-fire way to identify one; someone that constantly talks about others behind their backs.”

Melanie Musson, insurance specialist for Buy Auto Insurance asserted, “gossip doesn’t help build a stronger team; rather, it tears down teamwork. Chances are, if they gossip to you, they’re also gossiping about you.”

Another warning sign a colleague is toxic is if they refuse to share knowledge with you that prevents you from being able to do your job. As a victim of a former toxic coworker and boss, I know how detrimental their impact can be not only on my work and mental health, but also to the team and overall workplace. In my experience, my former coworker excluded me from meetings, team activities and withheld information that prevented me from being able to do my job well and used it against me.

Musson explained, “toxic people put themselves first. They really don’t care about others and use others’ misfortunes as a way to move forward at work. If a team member is struggling, the toxic coworker may take the opportunity to show how they excel in that same area.”

Eventually, I set a boundary with her where I started documenting every incident before confronting her. Then, I worked around her to find the information I needed and limited my interactions with her altogether. Be aware, setting healthy boundaries will often push toxic coworkers to react negatively. However, those who are the happiest and most productive are the ones who set healthy boundaries and those who aren’t used to having boundaries set with them are likely to take offense.

Here are boundaries you can set with a coworker that gossips:

  • Empathize and redirect them to focus on what’s working or to speak with their manager
  • Refuse to participate by excusing yourself from the conversation when they start gossiping
  • Focus on positive gossip that celebrates others instead of participating in negative gossip that hurts morale
  • Communicate your boundaries letting them know you don’t like to talk about office politics
  • Surround yourself with people who would rather share knowledge than spread gossip
  • Use key phrases such as “this sounds like a rumor and I don’t want to hear it”, “I’d rather engage in conversations that are positive and uplifting” or countering with “is that a fact or gossip?”

They Use Passive Aggressive Comments Rather Than Compliments

Matt Satell, CEO of Prime Mailboxes said, “toxic employees are often those who purposely undermine the capabilities of others so they can stay ahead of their competition.” They thrive on finding fault, negativity and holding people back.

Here are a few examples of passive-aggressive behaviors and comments:

  • Giving the silent treatment
  • Responding with sarcasm or disguised insults
  • Blaming others
  • Rejecting feedback and others perspectives
  • Making excuses
  • A cynical attitude
  • An air or superiority

Nich Chernets, CEO of Data for SEO said “in my experience, toxic people tend to complain a lot, even in the situations when everything is good. They’re looking for an audience that will constantly listen to their problems. In the long run, these people bring a lot of negativity to the work process and burden others with unnecessary things.” John Stevenson, marketing specialist at My GRE Exam Preparation added, “in turn, this creates an environment where other members of the team cannot work at full capacity because they’re too busy watching their backs.”

You can cultivate positivity through uplifting interactions with other colleagues, listening to motivating podcasts and finding the good in the work you do. It’s easy to lose motivation when a toxic coworker undermines your abilities and believes their role and contributions are more valuable than everyone else’s.

Here are some ways you can remind yourself of your hard work and contributions:

  • Keep a running document of your achievements and wins
  • Copy and paste recognitions from emails, client/manager reviews and Slack comments into the running document
  • Reference the document for a motivation boost

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website

Heidi Lynne Kurter

Heidi Lynne Kurter

I’m a Leadership Coach & Workplace Culture Consultant at Heidi Lynne Consulting helping individuals and organizations gain the confidence to become better leaders for themselves and their teams. As a consultant, I deliver and implement strategies to develop current talent and create impactful and engaging employee experiences. Companies hire me to to speak, coach, consult and train their teams and organizations of all sizes. I’ve gained a breadth of knowledge working internationally in Europe, America and Asia. I use my global expertise to provide virtual and in-person consulting and leadership coaching to the students at Babson College, Ivy League students and my global network. I’m a black belt in Six Sigma, former Society of Human Resources (SHRM) President and domestic violence mentor. Learn more at http://www.heidilynneco.com or get in touch at Heidi@heidilynneco.com

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Jennifer Brick

Toxic Coworkers | How to Deal with Toxic People at Work // Do you have a toxic coworker? Or even worse, several toxic workers. Nothing make a toxic work culture faster than having these difficult coworkers and having to deal with toxic coworkers every day. If you have toxic work colleagues, you need to know how to cope with toxic coworkers. You can disarm toxic people in the workplace, and while it won’t totally heal a toxic work environment, it can make your day to day in a toxic workplace slightly more tolerable. In this video I will show you how to deal with toxic coworkers – it’s six simple strategies that will disarm toxic person at work and help you survive until you can escape the toxic environment at work. I’d love to know which strategies you would implement or how you have dealt with toxic coworkers in the past. ****************** Stop settling for mediocrity, it’s time to glow up your career. Attend the free LIVE workshop on December 2nd at 12pm EST. glowupyourcareer.com ************* Think I might be the right Career Success Coach for you? Learn more & apply: capdecasolutions.com/coaching Accelerate your job search, get Hired in a Hurry hiredinahurry.com ****************** More videos to help deal with difficult coworkers and toxic workplaces: TOXIC WORK ENVIRONMENT: 14 Signs Your Workplace is Toxic (and How to Cope) https://youtu.be/GEJBaigzUcA​ COWORKERS ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS https://youtu.be/XjhF3xQE1lM​ How to Work with People You Don’t Like https://youtu.be/x1S5EPX0Jik​ HOW TO HANDLE DIFFICULT COWORKERS | Dealing with difficult people at work https://youtu.be/R-nI-IpQYbo​ POSITIVE ATTITUDE AT WORK (HOW TO STAY POSITIVE AT WORK) https://youtu.be/wVKUB0-ZHvM​ ****************** SUCCESS HABITS & RESOURCES Join my private community, the Strive Squad (it’s free!) https://www.facebook.com/groups/striv…​ I’m all about productivity tools, great books, and sanity savers in general. Browse my favorites in my Amazon Store: https://www.amazon.com/shop/jenniferb…​ Get your bookworm on when you’re on the move. Audible is my OBSESSION, and it helps me read an extra 1-2 books per week. Get 30 days free: https://amzn.to/39d3U3W​ Try my 30 books in 30 days challenge, and make it easier with Kindle Unlimited (your first month is free!): https://amzn.to/3ftIBMB​ Being the best means you keep your knowledge up to date, for this I love Skillshare! Get a free trial: https://bit.ly/3l3oTbJ​ What Am I Wearing? I hate wearing the same thing twice and I love saving money, so 95% of my wardrobe is from Rent the Runway. Wanna try it (and save $30): https://bit.ly/3995mnT​ ****************** LET’S HANG! I post more content and videos on LinkedIn – follow me there https://linkedin.com/in/jenniferbrick​ Daily career glow-up videos on TikTok https://www.tiktok.com/@jenniferbrick…​ You can also follow me on: Instagram: http://instagram.com/capdeca​ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ccJenniferbr…​ Twitter: https://twitter.com/jennifer_brick​ Sometimes I write stuff for Thrive Global https://thriveglobal.com/authors/jenn…

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Anxiety In Product Development

Last year I stumbled across an article about anxiety in men. It highlighted how it can surface in atypical symptoms such as anger. I learned to recognise and work on my own anxiety. It also lead me to recognise anxiety in others. Soon I realised this does not only affect other people but also organisations and processes. Let me introduce you to anxiety driven development.

We already have fear driven development

Fear and anxiety produce similar responses. Fear is based on a concrete threat. Whereas anxiety is fuzzier and more vague. Fear driven development is graspable which makes it easier to talk about it.

As an engineer it could look like this: You’re afraid of pushing your code because you could break the build. Or you shy away of touching a method because you fear shipping a bug.

If you are a product manager you might try to squeeze that extra feature into a release because you fear that you won’t be able to close a new customer otherwise.

Patterns of anxiety in product development

But anxiety runs deeper than this. Anxiety becomes more of an underlying current. Here are the most common anxiety driven development patterns I have observed,

Play not to lose

Your product is driven by the fear of losing. Losing market share, customers or ratings. You are driven to keep up with whatever the competition does. So you go out of your way to get every feature built that your competitors ship.

As a product manager you might push a feature request to the top of the backlog with every release announcements of your competitors. You can even call that agile because you’re adapting to change quickly, right? Unfortunately what you’re doing is destabilising your development flow and hinder the long term success of your product. You will always be at least one step behind, always trying to close the gap. This will choke all innovation because who has time to take additional risks when you’re barely keeping pace?

Play to win

Play to win instead. The treatment for this form of anxiety is to develop a strong unique selling proposition (USP). If you can differentiate yourself from your competition you will not be reeled into the fruitless thought pattern of playing not to lose. Do not try to differentiate yourself by price alone. This is a very weak USP, just waiting for the next competitor to undercut you, speeding up the race to the bottom. Also it creates almost no customer loyality.

All that glitters is not gold

If you’re anxious your business is falling behind but you can’t quite pinpoint why you will act in a continued state of emergency. You will chase quick wins. This might calm the the anxiety for a moment but it won’t last long. It’s possible to make a team stay late or rally the whole company behind you for an initiative. Once. But the more often you cry wolf the less likely it is you get the desired response. If your body is being continuously flooded with stress hormones it will render it incapable of responding to stressful situations adequately. The same goes for your organisation.

If you push your team every quarter to add a last minute feature for the opportunity of a featuring in a prominent partner store your team will anticipate this and instead already create buffers beforehand. The emergency response will create a fatigue which will appear in the form of demotivation, inflated estimates and non-commitment. All of this hurts the true output, fuelling your anxiety even more.

Steering the ship

To break out of such a vicious circle practice saying no. Take a step back and craft an inspiring, authentic vision. Let this vision influence an actionable strategy. You can then break your strategy down into a rolling wave plan with more details of the near future. This gives you clarity on the current work while not losing the bigger picture. Ultimately you will be less swayed to jump onto every potential quick win.

Permit A 38

Anxiety can make you feel out of control. What’s a natural response to this? You try everything to regain control. But that perceived control can in truth be an overly bureaucratic process which slows down your product development, once again feeding your anxiety.

How could that look like? You might be creating or working on tickets that resemble a full-blown requirements sheet, specified to the very last detail. At the same time every idea has to go through various stages of approval (until it’s rejected). This is extremely damaging for motivation.

Cutting the red tape

To get out of such anxiety driven behaviours you need trust. Trust your own market research and strategy. And most of all trust your team. Empower the team to be the experts to achieve the product’s vision and let them self organise.

Awareness is the first step

Anxiety is widespread and on the rise, not just during a pandemic. It would be naive to believe that this does not also affect your workplace. Anxiety driven product development is hard to crack because it sustains itself. Take a step back and reflect on what you’re doing to break out of this Catch-22. Once you recognise your destructive behaviours it is much easier to change them.

Other articles:

  1. What’s wrong with traditional product ownership – Part 1 of 3
  2. Good intentions make bad roadmaps
  3. 5 steps to craft a vision for an established team
  4. Crafting a lean roadmap

By: andre.schweighofer

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Philip VanDusen

The number of people afflicted with anxiety has been steadily growing in recent years. For solo entrepreneurs, freelancers, creative professionals and consultants who work for themselves the negative affects of anxiety can be particularly acute. Here are some effective methods for reducing these emotional and psychological strains that can help you feel happier, more fulfilled and successful in your work and your business. _______________________ This video is targeted to my channel’s audience of entrepreneurs, designers, creative professionals and anyone interested in brand strategy, business planning, design, trend, marketing and communications. Philip VanDusen is the owner of Verhaal Brand Design, a brand strategy and design agency. Philip is a highly accomplished creative executive and expert in brand strategy, graphic design, marketing and creative management. Philip gives design, branding, marketing, career and business advice to creative professionals, entrepreneurs and companies on how to build successful brands for themselves or for the clients they serve. ——————————— WEBSITE: http://www.philipvandusen.com​ JOIN THE BRAND•MUSE NEWSLETTER: http://www.philipvandusen.com/muse​ FREE MINI-EBOOK DOWNLOAD: “9 Design Elements Your Brand Absolutely, Positively Needs” http://www.philipvandusen.com/direct-…​ TWITTER: https://twitter.com/philipvandusen​ YOUTUBE: http://www.youtube.com/c/PhilipVanDusen​ PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/philipvandu…​ LIKE ME ON FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/Verhaal-Bran…​ GET TUBEBUDDY – THE BEST TOOL FOR YOUTUBERS: https://www.tubebuddy.com/philipvandusen​ RECOMMENDED BOOKS: “Change By Design”, Tim Brown http://amzn.to/2mTFDrz​ “Imagine: How Creativity Works”, Jonah Lehrer http://amzn.to/2mJpQe9​ “Free Agent Nation” by Daniel Pink http://amzn.to/2mWlbpR​ “Orbiting the Giant Hairball” by Gordon MacKenzie http://amzn.to/2noTnIL​ “Rules of the Red Rubber Ball: Find and Sustain Your Life’s Work” by Kevin Carroll http://amzn.to/2moisCu​ The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, Al Ries + Laura Ries http://amzn.to/2noZGwd​ “Change By Design”, by Tim Brown http://amzn.to/2uaXYjX​ “How To” by Michael Beirut http://amzn.to/2u9lnnh​ “The Brand Gap” by Marty Neumeier http://amzn.to/2CAbYZk​ “Good Design Is A Tough Job” by Kirsten Dietz, Jochen Rädeker http://amzn.to/2CAIH0r​ “The Art of Innovation” by Tom Kelley http://amzn.to/2wtAevL​ “The Edge: 50 Tips from Brands That Lead” by Allen Adamson http://amzn.to/2Ef6fse​ “Art + Design” by Rex Ray http://amzn.to/2yLMRRT​ “Expert Secrets” by Russel Brunson http://amzn.to/2zEDOBT​ “Shift Ahead” by Allen Adamson + Joel Steckel – http://amzn.to/2xLrEX4​ MY GEAR: Canon EOS 80D DLSR Camera: http://amzn.to/2nn4y4q​ Canon EOS 80D 18-55mm kit lens: http://amzn.to/2mnAAws​ Canon EOS 80D Yongnuo 35mm lens: http://amzn.to/2nniETh​ RODE NT2000 Condenser Mic: http://amzn.to/2mFoNvG​ Shure SM58 Dynamic Mic https://amzn.to/2B4CQkT​ ART Tube MP: Tube Mic PreAmp: http://amzn.to/2mFoVeE​ Rode Mic Boom: http://amzn.to/2nxNFmJ​ Sony MDR 7506 Headphones: http://amzn.to/2mFpsxa​ Screenflow 6.2: video editing software: http://amzn.to/2nxFLK3​ Neewer 2 Packs Dimmable Bi-color 480 LED Video Light http://amzn.to/2Cz8INK​ Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920: http://amzn.to/2nmX4hZ​ Rode smartLav+ Lavalier Microphone: http://amzn.to/2n2xL7B​ HP 27er 27-in IPS LED Backlit Monitor http://amzn.to/2w29u1S​ Anker 2.4G Wireless Vertical Ergonomic Optical Mouse http://amzn.to/2iZHKts​ TubeBuddy: https://www.tubebuddy.com/philipvandusen​ Adobe Creative Suite (2019 CC)

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Building The Customer First Mindset

Agile is often thought of as a process when it’s really a mind-set (supported by processes, of course). Yes, it’s about testing and learning, and new ways of working, but at the heart of agile is the determination to provide the customer with something she or he wants or needs. That’s the point. Enshrining this principle across the business provides a consistent point of reference. But while almost every company will claim to be “customer first,” a closer look under the hood often reveals that internal efficiency or profit rather than customer need is the true driving force.

An agile mind-set starts from the premise that everyone is responsible for the customer, be it the CEO who determines the business strategy, the salesperson directly serving the customer, or the data scientist developing analytics platforms. You will only be able to embed agile ways of working once this becomes a core value, providing cohesion and purpose. This isn’t about doing your job better; it’s about serving the customer better.

The way a true customer-first ethos comes to life is through design—the process of integrating the customer point of view into all development.

This is much more than gathering insights or building elegant websites. It’s about building an adaptive learning process around the customer for everything the company does.

Getting design right is worth a lot. Companies in the top quartile of the McKinsey Design Index, which rates companies by how strong they are at design, outperformed peers in their sector in terms of growth by as much as two to one.

Here are two of the most important things the winning companies do:

1. They Make Huge Efforts To Know The Customer

A design approach requires solid customer insights to understand the real needs of potential users. Yet only around half the companies McKinsey surveyed conducted user research before generating their first design ideas or specifications.

One international pizza chain wanted to improve home delivery, a crowded market where consumers were already spoiled for choice. Data analysis revealed that one of the biggest drivers of customer satisfaction was how hot the delivered pizza was. This fact led the business to invest in “Intelligent Kitchen” technology, which determines when orders are baked based on the delivery address, driver availability, and current location, as well as road conditions to ensure the customer got a piping hot pizza. This approach grew overall sales 7 percent in the first  year, and more in the years following.

The best results come from constantly blending both quantitative and qualitative research. One top team invites customers to its regular monthly meeting solely to discuss the merits of its products and services.

And the CEO of one of the world’s largest banks spends a day a month with the bank’s clients and encourages all members of the C-suite to do the same.

2. They Continuously Improve With Customer Feedback

Continuous improvement is key to success for a digital transformation. This is the raw learning capability. You can see it in companies that foster a culture of sharing early prototypes with outsiders and discouraging excessive time spent on mock-ups or internal presentations. Despite the value of iteration, however, almost 60 percent of companies in our survey said they used prototypes only for internal-production testing, and even then, only late in the development process.

New technologies allow companies to uncover insights and test products in a dramatically faster way than traditional market research or focus groups. Digital marketing teams can convene online customer panels using video chats and watch as the panels test products and provide feedback in real time. One insurer created digital diaries to help identify customer pain points that would previously have gone undetected.

Similarly, digital companies can quickly A/B test new products and campaigns with thousands of customers in hours or days.

Agile Defined


Agile isn’t just a process. It’s a mind-set that puts customer objectives first. Team autonomy works best with guiding principles about what needs to be done and why.

Agile coaches are necessary to train people to learn new skills fast—leaders included.

Agile budgeting helps scale agile by quickly allocating money to projects.

Agile ways of working can’t take hold unless they are supported by stable processes.

Design thinking is the commitment to completely understanding your customer.

Contributed to BSI By: Arun Arora, Peter Dahlstrom, Klemens Hjartar, and Floria Wunderlich. Excerpted from their book Fast Times: How Digital Winners Set Direction, Learn, and Adapt (Amazon Publishing)

The Blake Project Can Help You Create A Brighter Competitive Future In The Jobs To Be Done Workshop

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Shep Hyken: Customer Service & CX Expert

Go to http://www.TheCustomerFocus.com or call 314-692-2200 to learn more about Shep Hyken or to learn about customer service training. Your people attend customer service training. They learn techniques and tactics on how to deal with complaining customers, angry customers or customers who just need a little support. They are taught the right answers to some difficult questions. This is what customer service training is all about. But… What happens when something happens that is outside of the parameters of the training your employees have received?

Can Employee Monitoring Be Done Ethically

If you talked to business owners, managers and employees last year, most of them would probably tell you that employee monitoring software seems excessive and intrusive. But now that COVID-19 made us rethink work-from-home policies, this industry is booming.

Many managers have realized that their employees can in fact work remotely and still complete their tasks. However, most of these companies do not have experience with remote work. What does a company do to ensure that productivity is high while tracking the attendance of their workers on a daily basis?

While monitoring solutions have proven that they can help companies on many different levels, they still raise ethical concerns. So let’s see what can be considered ethical and unethical within the monitoring space.

1. Monitoring employees in secret

The number one monitoring practice that is considered unethical, and in most cases even illegal, is monitoring employees without their knowledge or consent. This practice is considered legal when employers are suspecting malpractice, and want to catch employees red-handed. However, if companies simply want to keep an eye on their employees without telling them, they could face serious consequences.

To avoid this, always make sure your employees are aware of employee monitoring software. If possible, create a monitoring policy, including consent forms which will explain in detail what you will be monitoring, which data you will be collecting, how you will store it, and who can access it.

Related: 3 Tips for Legally and Ethically Monitoring Employees Online

2. Monitoring employees outside of working hours

After-hours monitoring has become a bigger issue in the current remote working environment. It’s not uncommon for employees to use their business laptops for personal matters while they’re on a break or once their shift is over. If you’re using the monitoring software during these hours, you could potentially record sensitive personal data that could legally implicate you.

To avoid the issue, either forbid the usage of company-owned laptops for personal use, or allow employees to turn off their trackers when the shift is over or while they’re on a break. This will also make your employees calmer about the monitoring as they’ll have full control over the software and what it monitors.

Related: An Employee Tracking-App to Manage a Mobile Workforce

3. Collecting personal data through employee monitoring software

Most employee monitoring software comes equipped with a screenshot feature, while some of the more intrusive ones will even allow you to record screen or keystrokes on your employees’ computers. Even though screenshots serve as proof of work, taking them at a wrong time (when your employees are browsing social media, their bank accounts, etc.) means you would be collecting personal data you don’t want to have.

If you do want to use screenshots, find a software that will allow you to limit screenshots only to work-related apps and websites. The same goes for all other intrusive features. However, the best would be to not use any of them, since they are optional with most software providers.

4. Not using the collected data for business improvement

Ethical use of employee monitoring software isn’t only defined by the ways you collect the data, it’s about how you’re using it as well. If you’re only using the software for the sake of using it, or for the sake of spying on your employees, you’re wasting your time.

If you really want to get the best out of it, while keeping your employees on board, you need to have a proper plan. Figure out why you actually want to monitor your employees, what data you need, and set up some goals. For example, if you’re using an employee monitoring software to increase the productivity of your teams, make sure you’re tracking how much daily productive time they have (most software options calculate this automatically).

Once you have that information, see what causes the productivity to go down. Is it the fact that too much time is spent in meetings? Are your employees spending more time than necessary on social media? Pinpoint the issues that cause bottlenecks and tackle them by talking to your employees and figuring out the plan to minimize these distractions.

Related: What Are Your Employees Doing When You Are Not Looking?

Final word on employee monitoring

Although some might disagree, employee monitoring can be ethical. However, it’s all in your hands. If you really want to make sure you’re monitoring your workers in an ethical way, think about how you would feel if your daily activities were monitored? Additionally, make sure you follow these four simple rules we’ve talked about, and you won’t run into any ethical issues.

By: Chris Porteous Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

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“There are many employers that are looking at this and thinking this is a real opportunity to reshape work,” said Jamie Woodcock, a senior lecturer of people and organizations at The Open University. “Will it benefit people who are working and are now able to work in new ways?

Or will it benefit employers who will find new ways to get the most out of people’s time they’ve bought to make people work even harder? ” » Subscribe to CNBC: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBC » Subscribe to CNBC TV: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCtelevision » Subscribe to CNBC Classic: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCclassic About CNBC: From ‘Wall Street’ to ‘Main Street’ to award winning original documentaries and Reality TV series, CNBC has you covered. Experience special sneak peeks of your favorite shows, exclusive video and more. Connect with CNBC News Online Get the latest news: https://www.cnbc.com/ Follow CNBC on LinkedIn: https://cnb.cx/LinkedInCNBC Follow CNBC News on Facebook: https://cnb.cx/LikeCNBC Follow CNBC News on Twitter: https://cnb.cx/FollowCNBC Follow CNBC News on Instagram: https://cnb.cx/InstagramCNBC

77% Of Economic Activity Lost To Social Distancing Is Back, But An Economic Recovery Still Depends On A Vaccine

Third-quarter earnings season officially kicks off this week with big banks, airlines and consumer-staple firms set to report on Tuesday, and though Wall Street’s eyeing improvements over the previous quarter, a sustained economic recovery is still ultimately contingent on widespread vaccination.

Big banks and airlines–two of the coronavirus pandemic’s worst-hit industries–kick off earnings season on Tuesday, with JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Delta Air Lines all set to report before the opening bell.

Expect weak and uneven sales growth, and a collapse in profit margins, to characterize third-quarter results, Goldman Sachs said in a weekend note to clients, adding that it still expects election results will have more of an impact on stocks than earnings, and that ultimately, vaccination is “essential for the normalization of the economy.”

Goldman believes there’s a 48% chance that there will be enough doses of an FDA-approved coronavirus vaccine to treat 25 million Americans by the second or third quarters, the most likely time lines, followed closely by 42% odds that this will happen by the first quarter.

Meanwhile, wealth management firm Glenmede said Monday that although it estimates 77% of economic activity lost due to social-distancing mandates has been regained, it only expects earnings will see a small rebound from an “abysmal” second quarter.

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Glenmede doesn’t expect earnings will reach new highs until the second half of 2021, which the firm adds is “not so coincidentally aligned with estimates for vaccine delivery.”

In a Monday note to clients, LPL Financial had similar hopes, saying, “The combination of efficiencies gained during the recession, the strong performance of the winners and the tremendous progress in Covid-19 treatment and vaccine development, all suggest we may be only a year away from reaching normalized earnings, though we fully recognize the risk that time line may end up being too aggressive.”

Key Background

The coronavirus pandemic has been a boon for stocks in software, biotech and consumer staples (think: Procter & Gamble, whose shares are at an all-time high and up 17% just this year), but it’s been terrible to a bevy of firms reporting this week, particularly in the banking and airline spaces. The best-performing sectors this year, as tracked by S&P 500 ETFs through Friday’s close, include technology (up 32%), consumer discretionary (up 23%) and communications (up 13%). The worst-performing sectors are energy (down 36%) and financials (down 16%). JPMorgan, the nation’s biggest bank, led by Jamie Dimon, reports tomorrow and has seen shares plummet nearly 28% this year.

Big Number

21%. That’s how much Goldman said it expects third-quarter earnings per share will fall among S&P 500 firms, compared to a 32% drop in the second quarter and a 15% fall in the first. 

Crucial Quote 

“In many respects, the economy’s recovery since this spring has been pretty remarkable. . . . Consensus estimates show an expectation that earnings reach new highs in the second half of 2021, perhaps not so coincidentally aligned with estimates for vaccine delivery,” Glenmede’s Jason Pride and Michael Reynolds said on Monday. “Consumers are driving the pandemic recovery, but the U.S. economy is not completely out of the woods yet.

There are pockets of the economy that continue to struggle, and an additional round of fiscal stimulus could put the U.S. economy on a gentler and less painful path toward full recovery once a vaccine becomes widely available.”

What To Watch For

Banks dominate the 12% of S&P 500 earnings due to be reported this week, Bank of America noted in a Monday research note. Among firms reporting Tuesday are Delta Air Lines, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, BlackRock and Johnson & Johnson–all before the opening bell. Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Progressive and United Airlines are slated to release earnings on Wednesday, while Morgan Stanley, Charles Schwab and Walgreens are scheduled for Thursday. Any signs on Tuesday from JPMorgan and Citi that the economy is on the mend will help bank stocks and the overall market, says Marc Chaikin, founder of Philadelphia-based quant investment research firm Chaikin Analytics.

Further Reading

Apple, Twitter, Twilio Shares Rise As Stocks Prep For Big Earnings Week Ahead (Forbes) Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip

Jonathan Ponciano

Jonathan Ponciano

I’m a reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I double-majored in business journalism and economics while working for UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School as a marketing and communications assistant. Before Forbes, I spent a summer reporting on the L.A. private sector for Los Angeles Business Journal and wrote about publicly traded North Carolina companies for NC Business News Wire. Reach out at jponciano@forbes.com.

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It’s a weird time to be alive. A pandemic is sweeping the world and life as we know it has gone through a seismic shift in a matter of weeks. But this isn’t the first time humans have encountered an epidemic. Today, Danielle (from the safety of her Chicago flat) looks back at a few of the world’s biggest pandemics. From the Black Death of the 1300s to the 17th c. Plague and the 1918 Spanish Flu, Danielle explores the human and economic tolls of past pandemics and what we can learn to prepare for life during and after COVID-19. Special thanks to our Historian Harry Brisson on Patreon! Join him at https://www.patreon.com/originofevery… Created and Hosted by Danielle Bainbridge Produced by Complexly for PBS Digital Studios — Follow us on… Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/originofever… Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pbsoriginof… — Origin of Everything is a show about the undertold histories and cultural dialogues that make up our collective story. From the food we eat, to the trivia and fun facts we can’t seem to get out of our heads, to the social issues we can’t stop debating, everything around us has a history. Origin of Everything is here to explore it all. We like to think that no topic is too small or too challenging to get started. Works Cited: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/arc… https://www.newstatesman.com/politics… https://www.stlouisfed.org/~/media/fi… https://www.wsj.com/articles/lessons-… https://www.theguardian.com/commentis… https://www.economist.com/finance-and… https://voxeu.org/article/wars-plague… livescience.com/2497-black-death-changed-world.html https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.c… https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/1… https://academic.oup.com/ereh/article… https://www.sciencedirect.com/science… https://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/… https://www.history.com/topics/world-… https://www.history.com/topics/world-… https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/11/op… https://maximumfun.org/episodes/sawbo… https://www.history.com/topics/middle… https://www.theatlantic.com/health/ar… https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-reso… https://www.history.com/news/pandemic… https://www.acep.org/how-we-serve/sec… https://www.cdc.gov/plague/maps/index..

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7 Areas of Your Business That Can Be Streamlined By Big Data

Big data as a concept is thrown around a lot. It’s often used as a buzzword to sound tech-savvy and on the ball — but how much do you really know about it? In truth, it’s been around for decades. Businesses have been analyzing their customers’ actions and behaviors and using it to inform their business decisions for a long time; it’s the marker of a strong businessperson. The difference today is that we now have the tools and technology to gather and analyze larger amounts of data faster. Enter big data.

Related: The Pivotal Role of Big Data in Ecommerce

You don’t have to be a tech genius or a data scientist to make big data work for you and your business. Here are seven areas where you can use big data to streamline and optimize what you already have, with key examples and actionable tips to get you started.

1. Website design

To prove that big data is not only for the scientists of the world, let’s start with a more creative example. A well-designed website shouldn’t only look good, it should be part of a subtle conversation going on between you and your customers and leads.

One way to gather useful big data from your website is through heat maps. You can see exactly where the eyes and cursors of visitors to your site spent the most time. If these heat spots aren’t on your CTA button, contact form, or wherever else you most want them to go, you know what needs to be changed. You can achieve similar results with traffic analysis — looking at page views, unique visitors, visit duration and more. Many traffic analysis tools will also let you compare to your competitors’ sites to get a bigger picture of the general landscape.

2. Campaign timing

Have you ever put together a five-star marketing campaign that ticks all of your customer persona boxes, looks great and has a punchy CTA — only to see it flop? The greatest campaigns in the world will get you nowhere if you don’t publish them at the right time.

Whether you’re publishing on social media, email or any other digital platform, there are tools (like Growbots for email or Sprout Social for social media) that will gather data for you about when your audience is most active, when they are most prone to engaging and ultimately when the best time to reach them is. With big data, you don’t have to take a stab in the dark about when to launch a winning campaign.

3. Conversion optimization

There are a lot of variables when it comes to on-site content. While that may seem daunting to some, that really just means that there’s a lot of room for optimization so that your business can do even better than it is now. From headline copy to page color scheme, it can all be tweaked and improved to gather the highest amount of conversions possible.

Big data analytics can help us to understand how leads travel through our sales funnels, where they might get lost and at what point many prospective customers drop off. Data-driven optimization is the fastest and most efficient way to get it right. Even while experimenting, be sure to gather as much data as possible and analyze it in bulk for the most accurate and informative results.

Related: 5 Things That Cause Reasonable Consumers to Abandon Their Shopping Carts

4. Personalized communication

No matter what your business is, at the end of the day it will come down to people making a decision. Big data might seem like a huge and faceless tool, but it can also be used to add more personality and individuality to your marketing and customer interaction. 

The fashion brand, H&M, used big data to do exactly that when they integrated it with their chatbot. As it offered options to prospective customers and asked them if they liked the product choice, it learned more and more about what clothing options they liked. Along the same vein, for marketers to make personalized decisions that will have a real impact on leads and customers, we need to learn about them first. Big data is one effective way to do so.

5. Customer retention

A good business person knows how to attract and win clients. A great business person knows how to keep loyal customers. Once again, big data can take the heavy lifting out of this process.

Checking in with your existing customers through quick surveys and polls is one way to be continually staying in touch with how they perceive your company and what they think of your products or services. It’s anywhere between five to 25 times more expensive to find a new customer than to retain an existing one, depending on your industry. Use big data to regularly make sure that you are doing exactly what your existing customers are expecting of you.

6. Informing risk management

Risk is a fact of life for any business. Wouldn’t it be great if we could find a way to make smarter strategic decisions with key data to back up our more risky ventures? With big data, that could be a reality.

UOB Bank in Singapore did it. As a financial institution, making a misstep in risk assessment and management could be catastrophic. The bank used big data to develop a risk management system that cut down their risk analysis time from 18 hours to just a few minutes. Being able to carry out extensive risk analysis in real-time was a game-changer.

Of course, not every business has the ability or the resources to create their own risk management solution from scratch but there are tools out there that help businesses accurately quantify the risks they take on a daily basis, shedding light on one of the trickiest parts of business decision-making.

Related: Cybersecurity Practices That Protect Your Small Business

7. Smart business growth and innovation

Think about the most successful businesses in the world — Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, just to name a few. They didn’t get to where they are today by sticking to their first idea and running with it. They diversified, innovated and kept up with other demands from their customers. Often, it was big data that showed them the way.

Let’s look at Amazon’s recent venture, Amazon Fresh. To launch their whole foods service, Amazon focused on big data analytics to not just understand how customers buy groceries, but also how suppliers interact with grocers. Big data helped them understand the whole supply chain and find a solution that streamlined every aspect of it, thereby providing an innovative and helpful service. 

By: Sina Fak / Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

The ability to predict what customers will purchase for how much is incredibly useful in the retail industry. Big data and analytics are the key to those insights, helping retailers better understand customers and improve operations. To learn more about Reliable Software’s solutions for the retail industry, visit: https://www.rsrit.com/retail/. Follow us on social media: https://www.facebook.com/ReliableSoft…https://www.linkedin.com/company/reli…https://twitter.com/rsrit Subscribe to our Blog: https://www.blog.rsrit.com/#Retail#ReliableSoftware#rsrit

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More Than 50 Thousand SMEs Receive Loans To Sustain Their Businesses During The Pandemic

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

  • More than 50,000 SMEs have received working capital loans, with an average of 125,000 pesos each. And each venture has requested, on average, up to 2.5 credits.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 15 thousand small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) found an option in Mercado Pago to keep their businesses running and 7 out of 10 who applied for a loan did so through Mercado Crédito.

The foregoing, according to a survey of 1,160 SMEs nationwide conducted by Trendsity, at the request of Mercado Pago. According to the survey, most of the resources obtained through Mercado Crédito allowed these business units to increase inventories (51%) and use it as working capital, which includes equipment and operating expenses, among others (46%).

So far, more than 50,000 SMEs have received working capital loans, with an average of 125,000 pesos each. And each venture has requested, on average, up to 2.5 credits.

“As part of the economic reactivation, credit has become essential to encourage the economic development of entrepreneurs. For that reason, we increase our offer every month and have placed more than 3,500 million pesos among SMEs so that they can get ahead in this difficult time, “said Jonathan Sarmina, director of Mercado Crédito México.

More online payments to keep trading

“50% of the SMEs that joined Mercado Pago do not have a physical store, so 65% of them chose to reinforce online sales and 55% to offer more payment options,” said Sergio Dueñas, director of Payment Market.

Among the payment methods preferred by SMEs, the Payment Link stands out (82%), followed by the payment through Mercado Pago with its own website (72%); the Point Blue card terminal (62%) and QR code payments in (49%).

He explained that, according to the results of the study, 92% of those consulted understand that offering a greater number of payment options allows them to reach more potential customers and the same percentage declares that they will continue to use Mercado Pago in a world without a pandemic.

By:Entrepreneur en Español

Trish Regan and Adam Johnson provide actionable insight on the capital markets daily with regular segments such as “Chart Attack,” depicting likely market moves before they happen, and “Insight & Action” which explains original trading ideas that can make you money. In addition, “Street Smart” is filled with breaking news, political analysis, and market-moving interviews with exclusive guests such billionaire investor Carl Icahn, hedge fund titan Bill Ackman, automaker Elon Musk and more. “Street Smart” broadcasts at 3-5pm ET/12-2pm PT. For a complete compilation of Street Smart videos, visit: http://www.bloomberg.com/video/street… Watch “Street Smart” on TV, on the Bloomberg smartphone app, on the Bloomberg TV + iPad app or on the web: http://bloomberg.com/tv Bloomberg Television offers extensive coverage and analysis of international business news and stories of global importance. It is available in more than 310 million households worldwide and reaches the most affluent and influential viewers in terms of household income, asset value and education levels. With production hubs in London, New York and Hong Kong, the network provides 24-hour continuous coverage of the people, companies and ideas that move the markets.

Working Crazy Hours Is Exhausting, Draining and Painful. But Sorry Entrepreneurs, It’s Necessary

Lately, there is a huge movement towards the idea of work-life balance. We are often told that people can be just as effective in working less time and that doing 50-70 hours a week is toxic, unsustainable, and unnecessary.

Although it sounds smart to maintain work-life balance, experience tells me that a business would not normally get off the ground if a business owner didn’t put in the time. 

Related: How 7-Figure Entrepreneurs Effectively Manage Their Energy

I launched my first business in 2002 and like most entrepreneurs, worked incredibly long hours. A typical day was about 12 hours and a typical month involved taking one weekend off. I averaged 60 hours of work per week for four years straight as the business grew from $1M+ in sales revenue to over $10M+.

In 2006, I launched another business and once again found that a 50-60hour week was the time it took to stay on top of everything that needed to be done. The same happened when I started another company in 2010 and it persisted for another five years.

There’s a reason for this. Businesses make money primarily because of the assets they control and as a result of the labor that sweats those assets. A startup neither has any assets or any labor force.

The trick to getting a business off the ground is to create valuable assets (products, systems, brand, intellectual property, etc) while simultaneously recruiting a team and running the day-to-day operations. If that sounds like a hard task, you’re right — it is. It’s a constant balance of working on the business, in the business, and recruiting people to join the business. You also have to achieve all of this, without running out of money. 

Anyone who works in an established company is leveraging existing assets. When they mention the company brand, refer to their operations manual, log in to the IT system, share a customer success story or sell a proven product, the assets are doing most of the work.

Related: 5 Ways to Get a Natural Energy Boost at Work

Working with an established team creates efficiency and momentum that you don’t normally notice until it’s missing. A company that has a team of 40 people who have all got training and experience is constantly benefiting from that team dynamic. Even if you hired and trained one new person a month, it would take about 4 years to arrive at a functioning team of 40 people.

Creating assets is a full-time job. Hiring and training people is a full-time job. Running the day to day operations of a business is a full-time job. It’s easy to see why entrepreneurs don’t have any trouble filling 12+ hours a day with work that needs to be done.

It’s important to know this before you start a business. If you have an expectation that a business will materialize with minimal time and effort, you will experience a lot of frustrations as the reality sets in.

On the flip-side, if you expect to be doing long days and working on your weekends, you’ll get on with it and still have a smile on your face. Work isn’t really work for entrepreneurs. Creating your own business, around something you are passionate about will feel energizing most of the time.

It is critically important that if you are doing long hours that you are blending your time between the three key roles. You can not simply be working in the business or else you will eventually burn yourself out and have nothing to show for it.

I recommend a blend of: 

– 50% of your time working in the operations of the business: sales, marketing, administration, delivering value to customers.

– 25% of your time into asset creation: creating software, systems, intellectual property, media, and documenting best-practices.

–  25% of your time into hiring and training your team: start with an executive assistant, then get a salesperson and someone who can assist clients. Initially, this time could be used for fundraising and then when funds are secured, diverted to hiring and training. 

Related: 9 Ways to Attract Good Energy Today and Every Day

Using this formula, you might spend 30 hours a week working in the business, 15 hours creating assets, and 15 hours developing your team. To some, this might sound like an unbearable workload but most successful entrepreneurs I know have put in these long hours in order to get to the point where they now make it look easy. More to the point, they have the assets and the team in place, who make it look easy.

By: Daniel Priestley / Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

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4 Ways Companies Can Foster a Culture of Giving Back

Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox

It goes without saying that 2020 has been a pretty rough year in a lot of ways. The global economy took a significant gut-punch with an unprecedented level of unemployment, and news broadcasts highlighted record numbers of people turning to food banks for support. Maybe you know somebody who has lost their job this year, or maybe you’ve found yourself in that unfortunate boat. 

If that’s not the case, count yourself lucky, and do what you can to put a little bit more good out into the world. The holiday season — and specifically December — accounts for 30 percent of annual giving, but building a company culture where giving back is a year-round occurrence has numerous benefits. For starters, it just feels good to make a positive difference and that positivity trickles down through employees.

Companies that regularly participate in philanthropic causes report happier employees. As you may very well already know, happier employees make for more productive employees (13 percent more productive to be exact) and overall, a more productive and successful business

Giving back is good for your brand — plain and simple

Besides the impact of helping others — the most important reason to give — and overall happier employees, businesses that embrace the philanthropic spirit are regarded in a higher value by consumers. As former St. Louis Rams player Torry Holt points out, regarding the NFL’s relationship with United Way, “the act of giving back evokes emotion and fosters an authentic connection.” It’s that sort of relationship that today’s consumers take notice of in a business. According to a 2016 survey, the majority of millennials prefer companies that actively give to charity

Related: 4 Ways Your Company Benefits From Giving Back

When a company aligns itself with charitable causes it’s not just benefiting the direct recipients of that giving, but its employees, and customers. So now that we’ve touched upon the benefits of creating a culture of giving within a business, how can leaders go about actually weaving it into their company? 

1. Volunteer days

Encouraging a spirit of giving in your employees shouldn’t be difficult and there’s a good chance many of them already have causes that they’re passionate about. One of the best ways to fuel team members’ passions for these causes is through a day — or even week — of volunteering. The concept is simple and incredibly effective: a business sets aside a certain number of days where employees are given time to volunteer with the charity of their choice. 

Some companies may simply allow employees to pick any organization to work with, while others may offer a selection of charities or nonprofits for employees to choose from. Team leaders may also choose to go with a majority rule and have employees vote on which charities the company wants to align itself with for volunteer work. Building volunteer days into a business not only builds camaraderie between employees but foster relationships within the community. 

2. Lend your resources

Another big way that companies can make a positive impact in their communities is by taking the pro-bono route and lending their resources free of charge. If your business has some extra space that’s not being used on the weekends or at night, consider reaching out to a nonprofit and offering it. 

Related: Here Are Legitimate Fundraisers Helping Damaged and Destroyed Small Businesses

One of the most beneficial ways that a company can offer its resources is through the knowledge of its employees. Whether it’s by offering a company’s time through a mentorship program (such as graphic design) or through a pro-bono service (such as legal advice or tax preparation, for instance) for those less fortunate, these acts of charitable giving can build meaningful relationships and have a dramatic impact on the lives of others.  

3. Get your customers involved

We’ve already touched on the fact that consumers view charitable companies in a more positive light, so why not get those customers involved in the giving? It’s easy for a company to simply write a check and hand it over to a charity, but it’s more inclusive if they bring their customers into the act. Company matching programs are a fantastic way of doing this and with the right structure, can be a robust way of generating substantial fundraising.  

Another way to go about involving your customers is by encouraging recurring donations to a nonprofit. Applications like Donorbox or GoFundMe make it incredibly easy for businesses to incorporate giving into their existing website. Giving incentives that include the consumer not only can provide much needed financial support, but build a stronger connection between a business and its customer base.

4. Become an event sponsor

Sponsoring a charitable event in the community is another way businesses can both lend their support and weave a spirit of philanthropy into the existing company culture. There are endless ways a company can choose to go about sponsoring a community event. Simply making a financial contribution is probably the most common — and oftentimes the most needed — but even with that, there are options: raffles, silent auctions, etc.

Many times charitable events will also need volunteers or a place to host an event, so again, there are a variety of paths a business can choose to go down when it comes to sponsoring an event. Whether it’s financially, or through its resources, when a company aligns itself with a charitable event, it’s showing a level of commitment to the community it serves. 

Related: 3 Ways to Give Back That Don’t Require a Financial Investment

Business leaders should look at giving back as an investment and apply a similar ROI strategy when choosing how to give,  just as they would any business decision. Building a culture of giving within your business shouldn’t be complicated and incorporating several different strategies is going to yield the best results — both externally and internally.

Chris Porteous

By: Chris Porteous Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor / High Performance Growth Marketer

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