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Using AI to Close the Technology Talent Gap

Artificial intelligence is massively taking ground as some global development firms have effectively built a video recruiting platform utilizing AI to identify new talent. Among such company is TopDevz. It is one of the many companies that do so, usually as a matter of necessity. Given that, today, job openings outpace available workers by 17%, there is always an obvious gap. This is especially true for the technology sector, because of the immense amount of innovations being recorded daily. Technology is developing and widening, beyond the rate at which human beings can master it. From only a handful of programming languages only two decades ago, we now have hundreds of them. Innovations such as Mixed Reality and Blockchain were not the norm years ago, but they are now. Humans are trying hard to keep up as the gap widens.

In addition, lately, there have been serious concerns about the higher education sector. The biggest challenge is, what most tertiary institutions teach is not directly relevant in the present world, which is changing rapidly. What many university students learned twenty years ago is now most likely outdated. As such, alternative platforms have risen to fill this gap through short courses after which a student would earn a certificate. However, the responsibility remains on employers to filter through this lack of employability and identify those who make the best fit for their available jobs. This brings up back to the subject of artificial intelligence, and TopDevz’s recruitment process.

The TopDevz Example

In order to solve its recruitment challenges, the TopDevz Academy was born. It is a testing ground that all prospective employees must pass through to prove that they are qualified for the job.

  • Applicants are made to pass through a series of stages including a personality test and a soft skills interview. But scaling through those is only a preamble.
  • The most important and most difficult stage is the complex live coding stage. This is the point where the developers have to display their software development capabilities.
  • Afterward, an AI algorithm is deployed to grade each one’s work. This method guarantees that only the objectively best candidates get employed, and it has ensured that TopDevz’s culture of excellence is upheld over the years.

Using AI to scout for technology talents is a relatively new phenomenon and TopDevz is not the only pioneer in this regard. Catalyte is another artificial intelligence company who tackles the talent gap problem this way. They do so by getting random people to take tests. Afterward, people with the most potential in software development are trained for a few weeks before being employed as an apprentice. For both companies, this model has worked pretty well and enables them to meet up with the demands of clients in the most efficient way possible.

3 Benefits of AI in Scouting for Talents

  1. Ease of Recruitment. The purpose of this manner of AI usage in recruitment is very unique and applicant-focused, in the sense that algorithms are deployed to find the best talents, not necessarily to make the recruiters’ work easier. Of course, this can make the work of recruiters’ easier, especially as regards having to otherwise manually sift through bulky files and interview numerous candidates. However, that is only a by-product and not the main purpose.
  2. Improved Quality of Eventual Employees. TopDevz only hires senior developers who are very experienced. That is a result of using AI: improved quality of employees. In the mountain of applications recruiters often receive, it is not surprising that some excellent ones get overlooked and do not even make it to the interview stage. However, AI offers everyone a level playing ground and makes it easier to select those who perform well the most. Catalyte, for instance, administers its tests to random people and subsequently trains them. They even pay successful candidates through the duration of the training. This might be costly, but the CEO describes it as them “putting their money where their mouth is.” Why? Because it works.
  3. Competence, Diversity and Inclusion. AI removes the usual human bias in recruitment, especially as it relates to minorities such as the physically-challenged. Human beings can consciously or unconsciously let their unwarranted sentiments come into play when hiring. AI helps to better facilitate a culture of diversity and inclusion, making sure that competence holds prime position above all other purely sentimental factors. This would help minority groups a lot in their quest for better inclusion. 

The benefit of improved quality of candidates supersedes every other possible benefit, particularly because of the intense competition among tech companies. This is because available workers and available jobs are not evenly matched, the companies have to ‘fight’ to attract the top talents and even keep them. Without an efficient recruitment system, a tech company would regretfully watch the most qualified tech candidates go to their competitors. Therefore, AI, though not without its own challenges, offers itself as an excellent solution. Through machine learning, recruiters can match the skills of applicants to the job requirements to determine who would be the best fit for a role. Many times, the insights gained by using AI are often overlooked during traditional recruitment.

In conclusion, a tech company would benefit a lot by tackling the talent gap with AI. This process might cost more time and money, but the effort is absolutely worth it. At this rate, technological advancements are not expected to slow down. However, its attendant challenges can be tackled headlong.

Have you read?

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These Are The Top 10 Richest Boxers In The World For 2019.

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Executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Collegium Humanum


The Executive MBA study programme offered at Collegium Humanum-Warsaw Management University takes into account the fundamental expectations of the students as well as the needs of the local market. This approach allows us to take a broader perspective on the issue of contemporary business and its international and multicultural dimension. “We do commend various programmes offered by excellent foreign universities. Nevertheless, our goal is to create our own innovative learning pathways tailored to the local business conditions”. Our Executive MBA study programme introduces its participants to the main areas of business management and it equips them with a full set of competencies necessary to undertake leadership and managerial functions, including managing state-owned property. We define the Executive MBA at Collegium Humanum-Warsaw Management University as the path to success through education and taking the right decisions.

Description of studies.

The postgraduate study programme of Executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) offered by Collegium Humanum-Warsaw Management University with its headquarters in Warsaw provide for:

  • Prestigious and recognizable managerial qualifications around the world.
  • Effective development of academic education as well as practical managerial and supervisory skills. • Study programme designated for senior management, members of statutory bodies at commercial companies and the State Treasury, directors of commercial companies, managers, etc.
  • Study programme designated for candidates of supervisory boards and management boards at companies with the State Treasury shareholding.
  • Study programme designated for people who wish to occupy managerial positions and want to make the best use of their knowledge and skills in various areas of business.
  • Study programme designated for people open to personal skills development.

Our graduates obtain a certificate of completion of their MBA postgraduate study programme as well as a British diploma awarded by Apsley Business School in London confirming the acquisition of qualifications to hold supervisory boards and management boards posts at companies with the State Treasury shareholding (section 19(1)(1)(C) of the Act of 16 December 2016 – on the principles of state property management (Journal of Laws of 2018, item 1182).


  • Ministry of Science and Higher Education
  • Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria
  • Apsley Business School London
  • Limburg Graduate School of Business
  • Swiss School of Management

Study programme



  • based on the specific needs stemming from the managerial practice;
  • run by outstanding specialists (practitioners) from Poland and abroad in a case-study system;
  • duration: 2 semestres, non-stationary mode (Saturdays and Sundays):




  • a certificate of completion of the postgraduate study programme (in accordance with Article 164 of the Act of 20 July 2018 – Law on Higher Education and Science (Journal of Laws, item 1668 and the Regulation of the Minister of Science))
  • a diploma confirming the acquisition of qualifications for candidates to supervisory bodies at companies with State Treasury shareholding (section 19(1)(1)(C) of the Act of 16 December 2016 – on the principles of state property management (Journal of Laws of 2018, item 1182)
  • a diploma confirming the acquisition of an MBA degree awarded by Apsley Business School in London (United Kingdom) in English



Aleksandra Nowosad, MBA
Tel. + 48 608 800 467

Note: This article is a part of “Poland Special Report.”

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These Are The Top 10 Richest Boxers In The World For 2019.

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Holiday Shopping Patterns: When Do Consumers Shop Online Vs. In-Store?

I had a chance to read the Holiday Shopping Report put out by Criteo, global experts in on digital targeting and found that is contained some deep insights into people’s tendencies to shop in-store vs. online as the season progresses.

Criteo’s data, based on analyses of more than 260 million in-store and 66 million online transactions in the U.S. and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), finds clear patterns of tendencies for consumers to shop online vs. in stores. Essentially, there are four periods:

1)     November prior to Black Friday

The Criteo report found that in both the U.S. and EMEA, in-store shopping accounts for a majority of sales. The figure for in store sales in both markets during this period is  60%, marking it clear that in-store shopping is very popular in both regions in spite of online dealers being offered early in the month. This very likely is attributable to many people simply enjoying shopping as part of the holiday season and likely includes a disproportionate number of people who wrap up their shopping early and do not procrastinate.

An interesting twist on holiday shopping in the U.S. this year is with Thanksgiving coming so late, the “traditional” holiday shopping season has been shortened. I asked Jaysen Gillespie, Criteo’s VP Head of Analytics and Data Science for his thoughts on the how the shortened season will affect retailers.  He believes the impact will be significant: “The holiday season being shorter is definitely playing a role in online and in-store sales. Walmart, for example, rolled out promotions much earlier this year as a means to entice customers to start their holiday shopping earlier in the season. I think we will more brands doing the same over the coming weeks, and we’ll see online brands offering heavily discounted or free and speedy shipping in the days leading up to Black Friday.”

2)     Black Friday and Cyber Monday

According to Criteo, in-store sales drop to 30% of sales on Black Friday and 56% in the EMEA. In the U.S., this very likely is a result of people associating Thanksgiving weekend with the beginning of the traditional shopping season. Surely, some consumers prefer to avoid crowded stores as well. Moreover, the heavy emphasis on online promotions, especially on Cyber Monday help kick a period where digital sales increase.

Gillespie emphasizes that during that for online having a mobile presence has become an industry standard stating: “Retailers need to build a mobile experience that drives engagement through constant feedback and enhanced imagery. Per our Holiday Research report, data from mobile analysis firm App Annie showed that in 2018, time spent in shopping apps on Android devices grew to 18 billion hours in 2018, up 45% from two years prior. It’s important marketers continue to keep mobile top of mind, as data from the same report shows that mobile shopping is expected to encompass 75% of global ecommerce transactions by 2021.”

3)     Post-Cyber Monday Until Christmas

From Cyber Monday through early December, online sales remain high. However, as Christmas day comes closer, consumers are more likely to go back to stores. Indeed , in the week before Christmas, 73% of U.S. purchases and 87% of EMEA purchases are made in store. As the Criteo report notes, crunched consumers begin to fear that their online orders won’t be delivered on time. It also makes sense that those who procrastinate get to the point where they need a trip to “finish off” their shopping lists.

4)     After Christmas

We usually think of the post-Christmas period as one of returns, which conjures up images of consumers waiting in line at a customer service desk of a brick and mortar store. With more consumers in stores for returns one might think that this meant a high relative proportion of sales. However, based on Criteo’s data, this is not the case. After Christmas, the report notes, people tend to prioritize spending time with their families and travelling. As a result, extra trips to stores are not in the cards.

The Future

Going forward, we can be pretty sure that the retail environment will continue to see some changes. Gillespie believes the future holds a mix of the old and the new. “For instance, I believe the omnichannel experience will continue to matter,” he says, “For a lot of retailers, the discovery of a product can take place in a store, where a consumer can see and touch the products. Yet, shoppers will also rely on digital channels for convenience. Moving forward, retailers that offer both will continue to have a significant advantage among competitors.

In terms of new trends Gillespie believes AI and chatbots will lead to more conversational commerce as messaging platforms become integrated with commerce, providing consumers with the convenience of shopping directly through their social apps. He also thinks that more brands will begin to experiment with AR and VR, allowing consumers to test out products virtually. Overall, it sounds like some holiday shoppers of the future will be exposed to innovation and should be in for some fun.

Source: Forbes – Leadership
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Allow Personalized Values To Influence Your Brand Identity

This is Part 4 of an eight-part series featuring thought provoking insights from the Leadership in the Age of Personalization Summit. Here is Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

“Put your coat on, I’m cold.”

I’ve used that example before and I’m using it again because it perfectly encapsulates one of the reasons personalization can be so hard: because we tend to project our own feelings and experiences onto others, often without realizing we’re doing it. We’re not necessarily trying to be self-centered in a moment like that. It’s simply hard for us to break out of our own perspective.

That command – “Put your coat on, I’m cold.” – was something a friend of mine heard a mother say to her child as they left a store one Chicago night. I believe something, so you must, too. I think something, so you must, too. I feel something, so you must, too. The organization and brand work this way, so you must, too.

In this series so far I’ve focused largely on finding the balance between standardization and personalization in the way we lead others within our organizations. That is a monumental task in itself, but it’s also slightly easier to think about simply because that discussion revolves around a limited population of people – those within our organizations.

But what about companies with millions of customers around the world? Or a sports team with a fan base across a large, diverse geographical area? In the same way that people expect and crave a way to influence the company as employees – people also have expectations of personalized experience as customers. Even more so, now that tech companies like Amazon and Netflix have made customized recommendations an everyday experience for most of us.

How do we find balance between the identity of our organization’s brand and the identities of all the people who we are trying to attract as buyers and as talent?

That was the subject of Session 3 at the Leadership in the Age of Personalization Summit, where senior leaders from industries spanning healthcare, automotive, finance, consumer packaged goods, retail, technology, apparel and more, gathered to explore the tension we’re all feeling as our society transitions from an age of standardization to our current age of personalization. We discussed building economies of scale around human dignity, how to escape the extremes to achieve balance, and how assimilation destroys individuality and inclusion restores it.

Building relationships with consumers, patients, employees or partners has never been more challenging, with so much competition for their attention. People want to identify with a brand whose products and services give their business or life meaning and significance. But how do you build that kind of relationship with millions of people around the world?

These same challenges apply, whether your audience is global or local.

What Do You Want to Protect?

Jochen Koedijk is Chief Marketing Officer for ADT. He joined ADT in July 2018, and he is leading a radical transformation of a 145-year-old brand by changing the narrative on how the brand communicates with consumers and by bringing a data-driven, but human, approach to improving the consumer journey.

Koedijk has an extensive background working for technology and consumer goods companies, building and leading digital marketing functions for prominent brands such as Amazon and He also worked in acquisition marketing at video game giant, Electronic Arts in Silicon Valley, where he led EA’s in-house global performance marketing operations team as well as EA’s Mobile User Acquisition Strategy.

He talked about the challenges and opportunities for nearly a century and a half old brand and taking that brand from being known for security systems to creating an identity around “ubiquitous safety.”

“ADT is a very established company – 145 years in an industry that has been business-as-usual year after year, and now this industry is being massively disrupted by a lot of technology,” said Koedijk. “On the one hand the industry is being disrupted. On the other hand, the brand is associated with trust and safety and peace of mind, which for a marketer are great attributes.”

He said ADT has 98% aided brand awareness and 58% unaided – all great stats.

“However,” he said, “when you then start asking people what does ADT mean for you? What does ADT stand for? People say, ‘it’s my grandma’s security system, it’s bells and sensors.’”

Koedijk said that over the last 10 years, from a product perspective, ADT has innovated enormously: “To the point where we offer home solutions like home security and automation solutions, we integrate with over 100 different independent smart devices, and we go to the customer to ask the customer: what does your house look like, what would you like? And we completely curate a solution to the customer’s needs. But when you ask the general population, they have no association like that.”

So how do you take a brand that’s 145 years old from standardization to personalization? What’s the journey in finding that balance? And how can individual identities influence the brand – from the outside marketplace, but also from the inside with employees?  

Koedijk acknowledged that joining ADT gave him a different perspective. “I’ve always come from the digital industry, selling stuff to people,” he said. “Then I came to ADT and thought, oh wow, this is a company that helps save lives. For me that was quite unique.”

He’s overseeing a brand transformation anchored around building on this identity of what they call “ubiquitous safety.” They are anchoring that transformation around this idea to enter the dialogue with customers and with employees by just asking them one question: “What do you want to protect?”

“The thought behind it is that every single person has unique things they care about,” said Koedijk. “And every single person wants to keep those things safe. Things, ideas, everything. Whatever you want to keep safe, no one has more ways to keep it safe than ADT. Your house, the things you care about in your house, your identity, or your teenage child who just started driving, and you want to make sure they don’t go 90 miles an hour across the 101. We have all of those offerings.”

“They are anchoring that transformation around this idea to enter the dialogue with customers and with employees by just asking them one question: “What do you want to protect?”

Jochen Koedijk

For employees, this exercise has helped people connect to the brand and connect with each other in new and deeper ways.  

“We did a gallery of valuables inside ADT,” he said. “Employees contribute symbols of what they want to protect. For example, we have one employee and she’s a veteran. And she had a child that has passed away, and the child had drawings. And so she donated those drawings, because she never wants these drawings from her child who passed away to be caught in a house fire. You end up with these profound stories.”

I asked Koedijk what he thinks it will take to really have that new brand identity take hold.

“I think it ties to the emotional connection, which lives internally and externally,” he said. “Emotional connection that our employees have of a purpose-driven working culture to a purpose-driven organization that helps keep people safe and saves people’s lives. But then, of course, we have about 6 million residential customers. Those are all people who are completely unique. Having that emotional connection with the customer that means the customer feels heard, they feel like we understand them. And that’s hard to do for millions of people. The way to get there is have a more course-grained story of the brand. What do you want to protect? Having that kind of question entering the dialogue immediately.”

“Emotional connection is probably the most important thing,” he said.


A Shared Belief That You Can Pursue More

For another take on building emotional connection, I turn to professional sports – an industry in which emotion abounds.

Ronalee Zarate-Bayani is Chief Marketing Officer for the Los Angeles Rams. In this role, she is responsible for defining and building the Rams brand, serving as a key member in shaping the experiences and value proposition of the new 300-acre Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park, and creating a modern LA entertainment experience for the next generation of fans.

Prior to joining the Rams, Zarate-Bayani was Head of Global Integrated Marketing Communications and Digital Advancement for the Hershey Company. And before Hershey, she worked in multiple leadership roles at Visa Inc with an emphasis on leveraging consumer insights and digital experiences to create effective consumer marketing campaigns.

I was curious how she was approaching her task of defining and building the Rams brand in a city that the Rams abandoned twice. The Rams were born in LA, moved to Anaheim (though still known as the LA Rams even though, I’m sorry, Anaheim is decidedly not LA). Then they moved to St. Louis, and now they’re back. They left their fan base twice!

So my question to Zarate-Bayani was this: How do you build a brand identity through individual identities, especially these identities of people they disappointed in the past?

“One of the beauties and challenges we’ve had is that we have a fan base from before,” she said. “What’s great about that is when we came home there were those who were disappointed, and there were those that were cheering us on. There was a reason to come back, and in many respects, for our diehards it was a lot about the Prodigal Son returns. It was important for us to make sure that as we built our identity going forward that we captured the essence of who we were, who we are, and then marry that with who we want to be and what we want to represent.”

They’re starting off with a big statement.

“As we think about coming back home, we’re making a big statement in investing in what is well-known to be a $5 billion project in Inglewood,” she said. “We’re not going anywhere, this is home. And when you invest in your home, you do it very thoughtfully, very intentionally, and you do it in a systematic way. So one of the things we did was going deep to identify what it was that made the Rams the Rams, and then more important – what is it that makes LA, LA? What is it that makes Angelenos and binds us together?”

She said they purposefully started with a bit of standardization.

As she put it: “You have to understand the glue that connects everything together. Los Angeles is an amalgamation of diverse cultures, of diverse cities, of different pockets of identities. But the thing that we found that binds everyone together – those that were born here and those who migrated here – is this notion that there’s a greater belief living here, being here, existing here, that you can pursue your dreams and have a greater shot of making it happen. It may be the weather, it may be the diversity, whatever the case may be, there is a sense that you can pursue more. So that’s what we anchored on when thinking about what is the shared value across this very diverse place. Because it’s so important that who we are today and who we manifest ourselves going forward is reflective of those shared values.”

Everyone lives those shared values in their own ways.

“When you think about aligning yourself with a team, there is something about that that you’re prideful because of some sort of identity, whatever that is,” she said. “And that’s very personalized for each individual. And it’s about making sure that that continues to carry through regardless of where we’re playing. But to ensure that there’s a way that we can connect emotionally and from a value system.”

In professional sports, the players themselves can have strong brands – sometimes even stronger than the brand of the team. I asked Zarate-Bayani how she connects the team and their brand to the individual identities of the players. With two forms of individual identities to be considered – the fan base but also the players – how do you temper those players’ occasionally “disruptive” identities? And how much room do you give players to influence the brand?

“I don’t think it’s about tempering,” she said. “It’s about allowing them and enabling them to thrive. We communicate with them often. I think it’s very much about ensuring that those who are most affected are part of the decision-making. We do pulse checks with our players, we do pulse checks with our coaches, and we have fan councils both new and old. So those who were fans 20 years ago as well as new fans who just joined this past year. We’re constantly communicating with those who are affected.”

She gave an example.

“There is a big Latin community here in Los Angeles. A large part of our community celebrates Día de los Muertos, which honors the loved ones who have passed away. We always try to do things with authenticity. So last year we put these Día de los Muertos shirts in the locker rooms of our players with a note explaining what the day is. We didn’t force them to wear it, we didn’t force them to do anything with it. The very next day on their way to the Seattle game half of them wore the shirt. And then within hours we had many people trying to buy a shirt, but we didn’t sell them at the time because at the time we were just sharing the culture and trying to be inclusive of what is happening here in our community.”

She said this year the team participated in the East LA Parade and the team launched its own Mariachi band: Mariachi Rams.

“So now we have a Mariachi band that is just a Rams Mariachi band that plays at all our games and at our Fan Fest. It is the biggest hit at Fan Fest – people have their phones out, they’re so excited. We try to be sensitive to what is real and how do we participate, versus trying to bring us and our ways to the community.”

Ultimately, she said, “We don’t own the brand. The fans do. We shepherd and steward it.”

“We don’t own the brand. The fans do. We shepherd and steward it.”

Ronalee Zarate-Bayani

For both ADT and the Rams, finding ways to let individual identities impact the brand can be powerful. We all have different things we want to keep safe for very personal reasons. In the same way, we might have very personal reasons for being a fan of a particular team. Maybe we had an early life experience that stays with us today – going to the game with mom or dad. That experience gets embedded in our DNA and becomes part of us, and we remain devoted fans long after we’ve moved out of that city and even if the team hasn’t won a title in decades.

Our reasons are very personal, but our fan experiences and team identity are shared.

Both of these stories involve big organizations and massive change. But don’t think that just because you’re not a global company or a professional sports team that the lessons don’t apply.

A few months ago I needed a button, so I called Joann’s Fabrics and the person on the phone greeted me and asked: “How can I inspire you?” A few hours later I walked into the store, and while I was making my way to the buttons someone asked me: “How can I inspire you?”

I thought, wow, that’s consistent.

This person took me to the button section, found exactly what I needed, and made some recommendations. Then the person who rang up my purchase asked me: “Did you have an inspirational experience today, sir?”

You bet I did! For something as seemingly small and simple as a button.

Whether your brand is global or local, involves life-and-death stakes or a button – any transformation requires disruption of a status quo. And any disruption requires us to take a step back to proactively seek the individual identities of others. To discover our shared values but to know that it’s not enough to stop there. We need to make those shared values personal.

We need to realize: We both may have a shared value of being comfortable. But just because I’m cold doesn’t mean you need to put on a coat.

Are you ready to lead in the age of personalization? Click here to take the assessment.

Source: Forbes – Leadership
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Successful Leaders Are ‘Likable’, Not ‘Liked’

In the American version of the television mockumentary, The Office, regional manager Michael Scott (played by Steve Carell) gives this answer to an off-camera question.

Do I need to be liked? Absolutely not. I like to be liked. I enjoy being liked. I have to be liked. But it’s not like a compulsive need to be liked. Like my need to be praised.

For the first twenty years of my career, I was Michael Scott. And this turns out to be my single greatest weakness as a leader. Notice I use present tense. I’m a recovering people-pleaser. It’s something I’ll always need to manage, to be wary of.

I used to be the boss who couldn’t just tell you that your performance was falling short. I once let a simple tweak to the organizational chart spiral into six months of “got-a-minute” requests from every employee who feared who their new boss might be, and every boss who wanted to build their empire. I’ve actually quit jobs powerful well-paying jobs that, looking back, I could salvaged with a tough, honest emotional conversations with my manager.

We All Want To Be Liked

Everyone except people with severe psychological disorders has an inner need to be liked and accepted. Have you ever met anyone who would rather be disliked by everyone? In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, just after our physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, we have the need for interpersonal belonging (affiliation, acceptance, affection). It’s probably an evolutionary instinct. After all, if our fellow cavemen don’t like us we could be voted out of the cave and become dinner for saber tooth tigers.

And even in these modern times we are raised with high value on friendship and friendliness. As children we are told to share our toys, stop arguing, and don’t pull Jenny’s pigtail. As teens our emotional radar pings madly in the high school cafeteria…tray in our hands, eyes darting. Which table should I sit at? Where are my friends? Will I be rejected if I sit with that group? Oh no, I’m sitting alone—I’m such a loser!

So Why Is Being Liked A Problem?

The distinction is subtle but critical. Being liked isn’t a problem. It’s your need to be liked that is a problem.

In a friendship, your relationship isn’t tied to anything other than the pleasure of the social interaction itself. But when you’re the boss, your relationship with a subordinate is about achieving specific goals. It’s also about managing their performance, including giving constructive criticism, deciding on their performance review and raise, and supporting them (or not) for career advancement. In my own experience, a desire to be everyone’s friend—a need to be liked—leads to two big problems.

Problem #1: Poor Decision Making

Only in Silicon Valley can you start a company, grow it into something huge, be worth over $2 billion dollars and still be seen as a failure. But that’s exactly what numerous venture capitalists and tech industry insiders think of Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang who is faulted for being way “too nice”. (You know, the opposite of acknowledged jerks like Steve Jobs, Steve Ballmer and Jeff Bezos.)

The thesis is that Yang should have laid off employees to save money, but he didn’t because he was too nice. They say Yahoo was strategically confused; it should have been either a media company or a tech company, but Yang tried to be both because he couldn’t make the hard decision which would have affected half the company. When Microsoft and Google came courting with huge buyout offers, he refused them, because he was too nice to do that to his employees.

As venture capitalist Mark Suster wrote in his analysis of Yang and Yahoo’s demise,

Tough decisions don’t always make you friends. By default if it’s a “tough” decision some people will think you made the wrong one. And when it means a change in somebody’s power, money or stature – or canceling a project that somebody has poured 18 months of their lives into – you’re not going to be popular. Bad leaders want to be loved too much and their companies (or countries) suffer.

The potential problem for those who have a need to be liked—again I’m looking in the mirror as I say that—is that these types of decisions can be skewed by your personal feelings towards your “friends”, or they take forever to make as you try to get everyone to consensus. 

Problem #2: Avoiding Tough Conversations

Similar to making tough decisions, managers who have a compulsive need to be liked are notorious for putting off tough conversations. Whether it’s giving someone constructive criticism or having to mediate a dispute between two employees, conflict avoidance only makes matters worse. Tension rises and things are left to fester. Usually, exceptional talent will actually leave a company with this type of dysfunctional culture.

If you are unsure about whether your conflict-avoidant or not, consider these questions:

  • How frequently do you give constructive feedback to your team members?
  • Do you often give people the benefit of the doubt for sub-standard work?
  • When it comes to annual performance ratings, if you had to round a score up or down, which would you lean toward?
  • How would you feel if you confronted one of your team members and in reaction she started crying or yelling?

Be Likable, Not Liked

The solution to the very common need to be liked, isn’t to act like a jerk. There is no reason to be stern, to act aloof, or to be unemotional. Instead, just act likable, and be unattached to whether you are actually liked or not. It’s hard but these days I can usually resist the need to be liked by replacing it with my need to lead right.  I remember that my need to be liked is coming from a place of ego, and that a truly selfless act is to focus on the pursuit of my company’s mission and goals, within the confines of my values.

Source: Forbes – Leadership
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Purpose At Work: How Gilead Sciences Inspires Behavior Change Through Social Impact

Brands that ignite behavior change earn a reputation as leaders. Changing behavior doesn’t only mean getting consumers to try new products. It also means inspiring people to join social movements to build a better world.

Gilead Sciences is an excellent example of a company working towards societal behavior change. Its commitment to HIV awareness, care and prevention is unprecedented. The California-based company donated roughly $400 million last year alone to charitable causes. Forbes ranked them as the most generous Fortune 500 company in 2016.

While Gilead Sciences is a biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and commercializes medicines, a lot of its impact work focuses on the social aspects of living with a life threatening illness. “Being impacted by HIV is not the only thing you’re dealing with as an individual,” Korab Zuka, Gilead Sciences’ Vice President of Public Affairs, tells We First Branding. “We’ve been able to expand our programming to focus on communities that are disproportionately impacted by HIV.”

Over the last few years, Gilead has been responsible for the development and funding of major initiatives like COMPASS, a more than $100 million, 10 year commitment that seeks to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Southern United States by partnering with local communities and supporting evidence-based solutions to meet the needs of people living with and impacted by HIV/AIDS. Additionally, Gilead funds HIV Age Positively, which focuses on people 50 or older living with HIV whom have often lost their safety net. Gilead’s most recent philanthropic initiative is the TRANScend Community Impact Fund, which will support Trans-led organizations working to improve the safety, health and wellness of the Transgender community. 

“The common thread across these programs is that it takes more than medicine for us to impact diseases like HIV,” Zuka explains. “Stigma is still a major factor in why individuals don’t get tested or seek medical care.”

For a big pharma company, Gilead is very committed to underserved communities. How does the purpose work tie into profit goals? 

“It’s not just about having the medicine and the science,” Zuka says. “If people are not able to get tested or seek medical care because of stigma and other factors, then what’s the point?” By increasing local organizational capacity, building awareness, reducing HIV-related stigma, and advancing education, Gilead is better able to support communities that are disproportionately impacted by diseases. Along with innovative new therapies and more effective drug regimens, Gilead is leveraging its social impact initiatives and core business for the higher purpose of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

While HIV is a specific focus area, Gilead’s comprehensive approach applies to brands across industries. You must address social issues around the cause you are working on to ignite behavior change. “HIV touches on a lot of the social determinants of health. It touches on racial equality, education, opportunity and health literacy. There are so many factors,” Zuka says.

How does Gilead choose what to prioritize? 

“People who work in philanthropy often believe the solutions come from the funder. The fact is that most of the solutions are actually coming from the frontlines,” Zuka explains. “We use our platform and financial resources. But the core elements are all validated through feedback and inclusion of the communities we’re looking to support.”

The lesson here is to make yourself the chief celebrant, not celebrity, of your community. Encourage others to tell you what they need and help them achieve it. Behavior change is tedious and can feel like an uphill battle. “It’s going to be difficult to see year-over-year impact because changing someone’s mind and heart may take a long time, which is why steady, long-term persistence is key,” Zuka says. 

One way Gilead also fights to reduce HIV-related stigma is by partnering with organizations like GLAAD to get stories of people living with HIV into the mainstream media. Seeing people like Magic Johnson or Jonathan Van Ness living public, healthy lives has helped change the social narrative in recent years.

Zuka says that they’ve also seen a lot of success with the U equals U campaign, spearheaded by the Prevention Access Network. “Their entire platform has been to educate people that if you are virally depressed for a period of six months or longer, you cannot transmit HIV to your partner.” By getting the science out there, Gilead and other like-minded organizations have been able to reduce people’s fears about contracting the disease.

Storytelling and education are critical first steps to changing consumer behavior. It can be difficult to set goals and benchmark progress around qualitative variables like stigma and social change. The US federal government recently set an overarching goal to end the HIV epidemic by 2030, which complements some of the focus Gilead has in the near team. Gilead also assesses ongoing factors like US government funding for HIV, which Zuka says is about 26 billion USD annually, and focuses on local and regional engagement. “We want to increase the number of community organizations that have the ability to advocate on behalf of people living with HIV. That’s a very tangible number,” Zuka explains. “With COMPASS, we’re able to find and support those leaders in the Southern US.” Such project specific benchmarks that enable them to quantify progress are critical to meeting their short and long-term goals.

These initiatives are outward facing. How does Gilead’s impact work influence its employees and internal culture?

Zuka says that Gilead shares what it’s doing with employees via round table discussions, where employees get to speak with non-profits and people living with HIV. They also have a program called Giving Together, in which Gilead matches employee donations to community organizations up to $2,000 annually. They also offer employees at least one volunteer day a year. These opportunities help foster a sense of meaning behind the work they do and brings to life the impact of what they are developing in the lab.

Gilead was recognized as the top donor to HIV and AIDS programs by Funders Concerned About AIDS in 2016. But while Gilead is doing amazing work, they know they can’t do it alone. “We work closely with the government, national advocacy organizations and people on the frontlines,” Zuka says. “It’s only through partnerships that we can make a significant impact.”

Gilead Sciences’ work to ignite social change around HIV is inspirational. The key learning is to marry purpose and profit. Engage with the communities you are trying to support to address the issues that affect them most. Share brave, impactful stories. Set ambitious benchmarks. And partner with others who share your goals.

Source: Forbes – Leadership
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4 Dirty Little Secrets You Need To Know About Successful People

There is no shortage of disappointment and pain in the world. No shortage of helplessness. No shortage of regret. No shortage of failure.

If you’re feeling down because you got fired yesterday. So what? You didn’t get the promotion. So what? You hate your boss, and your business failed. So what? You never got to graduate from high school. Maybe you didn’t graduate college. So what? You graduated college but aren’t happy in your career? You made it all the way to the C-suite but don’t feel fulfilled. So what? If this is your reality, what are you going to do about it?

You can fall into despair and complain about how miserable life is. I have been there and done that. You can go to work every day and whine about your job, your colleagues or your boss. You can settle for a life and career of mediocrity and spend 40+ hours a week on a job you hate. Lots of people do this.

You can continue to gripe about Mondays and wish your life away rushing to Fridays, or you can put in the work – and make the sacrifice – that success demands. That’s the rub though – sacrifice. People don’t just wake up successful. They work for it. They trade for it. They sacrifice for it. Are you willing to do the work and go through the pain necessary to achieve and sustain success?

Here are the four dirty little secrets that you need to know about successful people if you want to become one.

1. Successful people trade one pain for another.

“We must all suffer one of two things in life: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.”

Years ago I read this quote by Jim Rohn, and it hit me. I realized that I’d have to struggle and go through some hard stuff in my life and to build my career. I realized that there was no such thing as a pain-free life. Since there would be no way to avoid struggles, I decided to buckle down and stop looking for one. I decided I’d rather suffer the pain of discipline and began my success journey. I suggest you do too.

Contrary to popular belief, successful people don’t get to escape life’s pains. They just trade one pain for another whenever and wherever possible. Successful people trade the pain of regret with the pain of discipline. They trade the pain of stopping with the pain of starting. They trade the pain of failure for the pain of consistency, and they trade the pain of saying yes too often with the pain of saying no in an effort to protect and focus the most limited resource they have – time.

Successful people fear failure just like everyone else, but they don’t let it stop them because they know that regret causes more pain than failure ever will. If you want to be successful, you really can be afraid to fail, but you can‘t be afraid to try.

2. Successful people take risks and lose.

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

This quote by Michael Jordan revealed a lot to me about risk and losing. When you run from failure, you inevitably run from success. Successful people put it all on the line. They risk humiliation and embarrassment. They risk disappointing others. They risk it all – including their careers – to achieve their goals.

If you want your career to soar, you must be willing to see it plummet. And though this may cause extreme discomfort and anxiety, success goes hand-in-hand with risk so you need to get more comfortable being uncomfortable. Successful people lean into ambiguity and uncertainty because they know that in order to achieve the greatest heights of success they have to be willing to experience despair.

If you want to be successfully, realize that nothing ventured really does mean nothing gained. Successful people have to take risks – financial and career risks and personal and professional ones as well.

3. Successful people want to give up.

“You have to fight for what you want because what you want won’t fight for you!”

Demarjay Smith, Ellen DeGeneres’ favorite kid trainer, hit it on the nose with this quote. It may seem like it will never happen for you. You may feel like you are sinking when you aren’t. The difference between losing and being a loser is giving up. Successful people want to give up sometimes just like everyone else, but they don’t, and you shouldn’t either.

Take it from 12-year-old Demarjay, and fight for what you want. While his goal is to get an education and develop physical strength, that is not the point. Your goal is your goal. Maybe you want to start a business, get a promotion, change careers, become a manager, be a teacher, make it to the C-suite, write a book, become a famous singer, actor, director, etc. What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish? The message is the same regardless. Successful people get up each and every day and fight for what they want.

If you want to be successful, learn to reach deep for the power that’s within you so you don’t give up. Successful people have breakdowns sometimes, but they muster up everything they have within themselves to ultimately reach a breakthrough. And the breakthrough is amazing! I know from personal experience.

When you get back up after falling, when you fail but still push to succeed, when you cry, but still find a reason to laugh and when you thought you had nothing else to give but you still manage to get up and put one foot in front of the other. That is you showing that you have the power within yourself to make it across the line and not give up.

4. Successful people get rejected.

“Most fears of rejection rest on the desire for approval from other people. Don’t base your self-esteem on their opinions.” – Harvey Mackay

The first thing I think about when I hear the word rejection is that every single syllable hurts. I hate it. I’ve been rejected for so many things that I now just consider it a normal part of the success journey. Still, I hate it. But if the choice is between being rejected or never going for what we want; never asking for what we want; never reaching for our dreams, then rejection it is.

Successful people get rejected, but they don’t let it stop them. They take steps to limit the power that rejection has over them by doing these three things.

  1. expect to be rejected
  2. stay true to yourself and
  3. get away from small-minded people 

If you want to be successful, you need to expect rejection. Sometimes people can’t see your value. Sometimes they can’t appreciate your brilliance. They can’t understand your goals. They don’t dream like you do, and this is okay. Surround yourself with people who will support you. Instead of trying to persuade small-minded people, I recommend you build a different support system and connect with new friends who will believe in you and cheer you on.

Get up and own your power.

Are you willing to do the dirty work required to achieve and sustain success?

If you want a different job, a different boss or a different career, what are you going to do about it? If you want to change your life, you have to get up. Get up and put one foot in front of the other. Get up and believe in yourself. Get up and do something to create the life you want. And don’t ever let anyone – including yourself – cause you to be defeated. You have the power to create a better life, a better career, a better you. You have what it takes to achieve success.

Never forget this. There is pain in everything. To get different, you will have to be different; to accomplish more, you will have to do more. And the dirty little secret is that successful people don’t get to escape life’s pains, risks, failures and rejections. Quite the contrary. Successful people actually embrace them, and this is how they achieve success in the first place.

Source: Forbes – Leadership
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Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins on earnings, China trade, 5G and more

Cisco was down in the pre-market Thursday despite delivering an earnings beat on the top and bottom lines. Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins joins “Squawk on the Street” to discuss earnings, trade, 5G and more.


Thu, Nov 14 201911:11 AM EST

Source: CEO Interviews
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