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Improve Your Social Skills: 7 Books That Will Transform How You Communicate

You don’t have to be Cool Hand Luke to experience a failure to communicate. These seven books can help you overcome it.

Does it ever feel like everyone in your office is speaking a different language? Unless you’re working in a literal Tower of Babel, what you’re experiencing is most likely a breakdown across communication styles.

Rather than approaching this phenomenon with a defeatist “What can you do?” attitude, tackle it head-on by checking out some of the following books. Each work focuses on an aspect of the art and science of communication. Reading these various bestsellers, guides and how-tos will help you increase your verbal skills, allowing you to more effectively shepherd your team to greater productivity, contentment and achievement.

1. Improve Your Social Skills: How to Talk to Anyone — The Ultimate Guide to Improve Your Conversations and Your People Skills by Roy Briggs

Not everyone was born into the world blessed with the gift of gab. In fact, even extroverts can at times find themselves unable to effectively converse. Roy Briggs suggests tons of practical hacks you can immediately use to transform the way you interact with team members, clients and even strangers. I’m constantly speaking to both individuals and large groups; Improve Your Social Skills has given me some fresh ideas to implement whether I’m sitting across a table or standing on stage.

2. Surrounded by Idiots: The Four Types of Human Behavior and How to Effectively Communicate with Each in Business (and in Life) by Thomas Erikson

Can’t understand your team? Solve the problem by identifying members’ preferred behaviors. Thomas Erikson offers a color-coded way to place people into personality buckets: Maybe someone’s an assertive Red, a chill Green, a socializing Yellow, or a rational Blue. Each hue-based cohort shares strengths and weak points, making it easier to figure out how individuals absorb information. As someone who has taken plenty of leadership tests, I like Erikson’s straightforward model and anticipate using his techniques professionally and personally.

3. The Delicate Art: Learn to Say “No” and Unleash Your Performance by Lynn Carnes

Does your heart sink a little every time the word “no” falls from your lips? I can relate. Most people who are go-getters have been taught to think they must become yes-people, even if it causes stress. Lynn Carnes helps readers understand when they should decline opportunities in order to recover time and set their own agenda. Plus, she outlines how to say “no” with grace. I’m not always good about turning down requests, but after reading The Delicate Art, I think I’ll be able to say “no” here and there with greater ease.

4. Dealing With Difficult People: Fast, Effective Strategies for Handling Problem People by Ron Lilley

Some folks are pains in the neck, pure and simple. But in business, you don’t have the option of avoiding them. Instead, you have to outwit them, staying one step ahead without losing your cool. Ron Lilley’s book offers insights into what makes challenging people tick and how you can cleverly, creatively and adeptly defuse their hostility in the toughest situations. I can’t say I look forward to the next complainer I meet, but I’m grateful to have tips from Dealing With Difficult People to lean upon when it happens.

5. Open, Honest, and Direct: A Guide to Unlocking Your Team’s Potential by Aaron Levy

It’s a mantra worth repeating: Employees leave managers, not companies. Aaron Levy’s book explains that the “bad boss” problem often lies with authority figures who have never learned how to rally the troops. To rectify the situation, he lays out ways for managers to act impartially and communicate candidly so those under them feel safe and empowered to shine. I can relate to how important it is to positively influence a team. Honing a genuine leadership style is something I work at every day; Open, Honest, and Direct has already helped me do it.

6. Lead, Motivate, Engage: How to INSPIRE Your Team to Win at Work by Pearl Hilliard and Denise Lopez

Employee engagement rates in the U.S. are hovering at alarmingly low levels. Consequently, unless you’re 100% certain your workers are stimulated, inspired and encouraged, you need to consider different retention and job satisfaction tactics. Start by using Hillard and Lopez’s guidebook, which includes research-backed hints and ideas for using positive communication to ignite your team. I especially liked taking the self-assessment to identify areas I could improve on my way to becoming a more effective coach, boss and mentor.

7. Solve Employee Problems Before They Start: Resolving Conflict in the Real World by Scott Warrick

With the exception of agreeable hermits who never argue with themselves, everyone experiences conflict occasionally. However, managers are supposed to innately understand how to get everyone back to kumbaya status posthaste. That’s a tall order. Thankfully, Warrick shares a simple-to-follow three-step solution to de-escalating discord that relies on a combination of patience, self-security and emotional intelligence. Although I don’t enjoy settling disagreements among employees and peers, I feel better equipped to do so after learning Warrick’s recommended strategies for reaching a peaceful resolution.

Source: Forbes – Entrepreneurs
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At The 2019 Forbes Healthcare Summit, The Cost Debate Focused On The Main Problem: Hospitals

When they talk about healthcare cost reductions, our politicians mostly focus on drug prices and insurance companies. Drug prices have been under the summit’s microscope for several years. This year’s summit shifted focus to medical providers, especially hospitals. In his introductory talk, Steve Forbes remarked that hospitals are the largest component of U.S. healthcare spend [and they employ over 50% of doctors]. He asked, “How can we address costs if we leave hospitals out?”

Seema Verma, the Administrator (top executive) of CMS (the Center for Medicare Services, the federal organization that administers Medicare and Medicaid) spoke, tying her remarks tightly to the outlook and goals of President Trump. Regarding healthcare costs, her key points were:

·    The U.S. has some of the best health technology in the world, but prices are very high. She aims to use free market forces that work elsewhere in the economy to put price pressure on high-price providers and make the system easier for consumers to navigate. CMS has recently promulgated regulations that force hospitals to disclose the real prices they charge to different payers for about 300 services; hospitals will be fined if they do not comply. [Most hospital charges to commercial payers are based on negotiated prices that have been kept confidential.]

·     Drug price escalation has slowed, even stopped: premiums for the Medicare prescription drug program are coming down. [Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla also remarked that Pfizer’s U.S. prices declined overall in 2018 and 2019.]

·     Verma is not excited about Medicare for all: she does not want to put the other half of the U.S. healthcare system into what she characterized as a sluggish federal bureaucracy.

On the “Value Based Care” panel three CEOs of provider organizations talked about their vision for driving reductions in the cost of healthcare. The panelists were Michael Dowling, CEO of Norwell Health, New York state’s largest integrated health system, Dr. Laurie Glimcher, CEO of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a highly-regarded cancer treatment and research hospital in Boston, and Dr. Farzad Mostashari, CEO of Aledade, company that helps primary care providers operate as Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) that take financial responsibility for the cost of care for their customers.

Glimcher believes that the biggest cost reductions will come from technology-based cures developed by academic medical centers. She points to Alzheimer’s disease as a tidal wave of cost that will swamp the healthcare system within 20 years unless a cure is found. And she believes that Medicare-For-All will kill academic medical centers by transforming higher-paying commercially insured patients into lower-paying Medicare patients, starving the search for urgently needed cures.

Dowling warns that it would be unwise to squeeze hospital revenue: hospitals would be forced to cut services, such as mental health, that lose money but are important to community health. And he criticizes the regulation recently issued by CMS that forces hospitals to disclose the prices they charge to different payers. He argues that the data is too complex for outsiders to understand, and that once every hospital knows what other hospitals charge, the low-price providers will raise to equal what the high-price providers are getting.

Mostashari brought a fresh perspective. His company, Aledade, works with primary care providers that take financial responsibility for the full cost of care of their customers. Aledade providers have been able to reduce total cost of care significantly, e.g., by reducing emergency room visits by 25%. When asked how Aledade providers can take full responsibility for $5 billion of healthcare cost, he responded that he likes responsibility for all of that cost: “It’s easier to cut cost when the cost you cut is not your own revenue.” [This is why it’s hard for hospitals to cut cost: it is mostly their revenue.] As a buyer of hospital services, he is in favor of transparency: “The thing that makes me believe transparency will reduce costs is the degree to which hospitals resist it.”

Dowling’s argument that price transparency will cause low-price hospitals to raise prices sheds light on the healthcare cost problem. In a competitive market, information about who is the low-price supplier (for equal value) causes customers to move their business to the low-price provider, and high-priced providers must match price or lose revenue. In a market lacking effective competition (a monopoly or oligopoly), providers can and often do charge all that the traffic will bear. And in a regulated market, regulators do not allow providers to raise prices when they realize they are not charging all that the customer will tolerate. Dowling’s remark indicates that the market for hospital services is not competitive enough to discipline prices, and not regulated enough to prevent providers from exploiting their pricing power, and he predicts providers can and will raise price at will. Mostashari said as much: “Hospitals raise prices charged to commercial patients (the unregulated part of their business) because they can.”

Although Verma’s transparency initiative is well-meant, the main good that increased price transparency will do is make the problem of provider pricing power more visible. And although Glimcher’s argument that cures drive cost reduction has merit, it is incomplete. Some cures, notably the Hepatitis C drugs Harvoni and Sovaldi have driven demonstrable reduction in total healthcare costs. But tech-based cures can also drive costs up, such as the extraordinarily expensive T-cell therapies that save the lives of people who would otherwise have died quickly. These therapies extend lives, but they drive total cost up. So, it’s questionable that technology alone will bend the cost curve down. Medical economics continue to be dominated by price negotiation clout.

Entrepreneurs and leaders of established businesses, who buy medical services when they sponsor health benefit plans, have two high-level options to control costs. They can continue to water down the benefits of their plans, but that undermines their goal of using health benefits to attract employees and keep them productive. Or they can push back at the regional provider oligopolies by working with the best large, efficient health insurer/plan administrator they can find [large plans aggregate buying power to create clout in price negotiations with providers], and/or by reducing business with high-price providers: for example, excluding from health plans providers whose prices are out of line with demonstrated value, or sending major procedures out of region to specialized providers that offer bundled pricing.

The U.S. is a long way from a solution to its healthcare cost problem. But at least we are starting to talk about the most important parts of the problem.

Source: Forbes – Entrepreneurs
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Use The Power Of Storytelling To Humanize Your Brand

Stories. From childhood on, we’ve been drawn to them. They’re how we relate to the world. Fables teach us lessons about life (usually under the filter of cute animals). Myths provide allegories using powerful gods and goddesses. Even video games have storylines to keep us engaged and playing.

So how can brands use storytelling to sell?

Telling the story of your brand makes your company stand out. You likely have dozens—if not hundreds—of competitors selling similar products or services at similar price points. So how do you convince even just one customer to choose you above everyone else?

You could have a superior product … but that may not be apparent until after the purchase. Instead, you can tell your story. Hook that customer with a tale that resonates with them.

The story doesn’t even have to be about your product or service. Or why you started your company. For me, the story I tell most often is behind the name of my content marketing agency, Egg Marketing. It’s a curious name, and there’s a story behind it.

When I launched my marketing firm in 2006, I wanted a unique name but was stumped. Watching the film Funny Face, I noted the name of the bookstore that Audrey Hepburn’s character worked in was Embryo Concepts. I liked the idea of an embryo giving life to something, but thought Embryo Marketing was too grotesque a name! With a few iterations, I landed on Egg Marketing and have been hatching good ideas ever since!

When people ask me the story behind my brand’s name, it allows us to put business aside for a minute and just have a conversation. Usually, they chuckle at the story, and that paves the way to a more personal interaction after that.

Finding your brand’s story

Maybe you don’t feel like your brand has a story; in fact, it surely has many. The key is uncovering them. Consider the stories about:

  • How you started your business
  • Why you sell what you do
  • The difference you’re trying to make
  • How you have helped a customer
  • What makes your employees unique
  • What you have learned along the way

If this is the first time you’re delving into your stories, it may help you to write them out. Keep them relatively short; aim for high-level details rather than the minutiae.

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Remember that people want to be touched by a story in some way, whether that’s to laugh or even tear up. You want to emotionally connect to your audience so that your story resonates. And they want to relate to it! If you’re talking about how you’ve helped a customer, start with the problem that customer had (likely your audience has had the same issue).

Use your story in the right places

Once you’ve practiced your story (I’ve told mine so many times, it slides off my tongue), know the most strategic places to leverage it.

The power of storytelling works great in your marketing. Tell your story on your website, maybe in a blog post or email. Find ways to weave it into your social media posts.

When you’re in sales meetings, use that as your pitch, rather than how amazing your product is. Know your audience ahead of time so you can tweak your tale to have the biggest impact.

Pay attention to how people react. If they’re looking at their phones, you’re not hitting your mark. Rewrite the story until they put their phones down and pay attention. You want to be the one they remember, even if they hear a dozen sales pitches that day.

Consider, too, the timing of your storytelling. If you have a big pivot in the direction your company is going, be transparent about the story behind it. I have a client that has transitioned from creating children’s interactive stories through apps to actually helping brands tell their stories, same as I’m telling you to. That transition is a story in and of itself, and it’s one I’ve helped tell through a soon-to-be-published blog post.

We’re all human. We work at companies or run them. Why do those two things have to be mutually exclusive? I believe that by opening up our stories to others, we can better relate and connect, which is great for business.

What’s your story?

RELATED: 10 Wild and Crazy Marketing Ideas That Worked

This article was originally published on AllBusiness. See all articles by Susan Guillory.

Source: Forbes – Entrepreneurs
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5 Unique Learning Conferences For Entrepreneurs And Educators To Attend In 2020

It’s that time of the year again. I like to share different conferences for entrepreneurs and educators who want to learn, grown, network, and make long-lasting relationships. For 2020, I’m sharing these top five conferences because they are unique for different industries.

This list is for entrepreneurs and educators to attend as we start this exciting new decade.

Here are my top five conference picks for 2020:

No Longer Virtual

No Longer Virtual is hosted by Sarah Elkins of Elkins Consulting. In 2014, a small group of people on LinkedIn came together and built relationships virtually through the platform. The bond between this group became so strong, especially as friends.

Elkins launched the conference not only to bring the group together, but to have others join, learn and network together in a live setting. At NLV, participants share their wisdom of entrepreneurship, branding, marketing, writing, and all of the amazing things that go into building a business.

From their site, “The NLV agenda is designed to help improve your sales, leadership, and personal communication through interactive, engaging sessions on topics like creating authentic, effective content and messaging, understanding how your personal brand impacts your professional life, how to build an audience online and offline using current technology, and leveraging your experience and relationships to scale and innovate in your business.”

As humans, we still need a great deal of live connection and engagement outside of our screens. Do you know how to truly connect beyond the keyboard?”

  • When: March 12-13, 2020.
  • Where: Fairmont Hotel at Millennium Park in Chicago, Illinois.
  • Information: You can stop by Elkins’ site for more information.

Military Influencer Conference

The Military Influencer Conference is a unique conference focusing on mentorship, learning, networking and supporting each other.

Jeremy Knauff says, “In the military, there is a tremendous amount of mentorship at all levels, and it simply doesn’t exist in the same way in the civilian world. We would constantly teach both people under our leadership, and people who were in charge of us because everyone has different expertise, and we all need to be cross-trained to survive.

The Military Influencer Conference is based on that principle, and it’s a place for veterans to find the kind of brotherhood we had while serving, and to learn from each other. There are various sessions where experts speak on a particular topic, veterans can network, and everyone is teaching and learning from each other.”

According to their site, “The Military Influencer Conference is the largest gathering of entrepreneurs, leaders, and creatives in the military space. In its fourth year, MIC has quickly grown into a powerful community of Military Influencers who understand the importance of mentorship, storytelling, and collaboration.”

  • When: The Military Influencer Conference is scheduled for September 23-27, 2020.
  • Where: Marriott Rivercenter in San Antonio, Texas.
  • Information: You can stop by The Military Influencers’ site for more information.

Toronto Change Days

The theme for Toronto Change Days 2020 will be Building Bridges. According to Toronto’s Change Days: “Living in a world of rapid change, there is a great deal of anxiety affecting our daily lives around the globe. Change makers will need to build bridges to cross divides at the work place and in the society at large. This conference is also held in Berlin, and details are yet to be announced.”

Holger Nauheimer says, “Toronto Change Days is a specific large group event that runs over one to three days. It blends large group facilitation methods, arts and physical experiences with workshops on topics that allow a deep exploration of the overall theme of the event. As in conventional conferences, there is a group of people who prepare their input beforehand. However, unlike in conventional conferences, the input and exchange between participants take place simultaneously.”  

  • When: November 6-8, 2020.
  • Where: The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, 6 Garamond Court, Toronto.
  • Information: You can stop by Toronto Change Days’ site for more information.

e2e Teacher New Year Reboot Conference

Although this next conference focuses on teachers and unique professional development for learning, it is also a great way for education entrepreneurs to learn about the current conversations taking place in education, and garnering an understanding regarding what teachers need and face daily.

Carrie Conover says, “With over 70 presentations, the conference is full of meaningful, practical and effective teaching tips from true professionals—your fellow educators. This year’s conference focuses on how we can finish the school year feeling strong, both personally and professionally. Presentations will focus on teacher wellness, classroom engagement and surviving testing season. The conference is free and virtual.”

This conference runs at the end of December and then reboots again in the summer.

When: December 28-29, 2019 and in the summer July 17-18, 2020.

Where: Online—Virtual.

Information: You can stop by educators2educators’ site to learn more.

Young Entrepreneur Convention

With so many young people moving into entrepreneurship, finding a wise mentor and building a network early can be priceless. The purpose of the convention focuses on Founders Helping Founders. The Young Entrepreneur Convention can help the next generation of entrepreneurs with business guidance, provide mentorship, and offer further networking opportunities.

This conference is especially useful for young business owners who already own a business or want to start one in their young years. Attendees will get the chance to network and learn from successful business leaders in different niches and industries.

According to the Young Entrepreneur Convention’s site, “We are devoted to providing a forum in which seasoned founders share what has and has not worked in building companies with early-stage founders and college students who are interested in launching their own companies.

The Young Entrepreneur Convention is the starting point for founders who want to learn about the ups and downs of starting a company.”

When: April 4, 2020.

Where: Ames, Iowa. Please check their site for updates on the specific location.

Information: You can learn more by stopping over at their website.

Source: Forbes – Entrepreneurs
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This Eco-Habit App Hopes To Make It Easy To Live Environmentally-Friendly

As the world becomes more environmentally conscious, and planet-friendly living options become more and more available, it seems to be even harder to pick which impacts to make.

Reusable shopping bags may be an easy choice, but what about picking between organic or low carbon footprint food? Or whether to eat less meat, or focus on what’s in season? How about choosing between plastic free toiletries, or animal cruelty-free?

The choices are endless and it can get overwhelming. Nearly a third of Brits feel overwhelmed by the climate crisis, a statistic which rises to 40% amongst young people.

In 2017, a group of friends decided they wanted to make the whole process of living carbon-minimal easier, and so put their minds together to come up with a virtual assistant that would choose for you. Co-founders Antonius ‘Tono’ Willms, Raphael Ferretti and Lennart Paar, who are based between Munich, Vienna and New York, launched Eevie.

“Being nature lovers and convinced that time is running out to prevent global heating, we set out to understand why people (including ourselves) struggle to live more sustainable lives,” explains Willms. “While we drive our cars and power our homes with fossil fuels, homes in other parts of the world are already being flooded. While we buy fish sticks at the supermarket, in many places there is more plastic than there are fish in the water.

“While most of us know and acknowledge that this is a problem, few actually act on the issue and change what they are doing.”

The trio started to investigate what was preventing them from living more eco-friendly lives, and realized a lack of knowledge of the cheaper, easier solutions was to blame.

“We set out to address these issues and help people find and learn about the locally available sustainable solutions and showing them what impact they have.”

They developed an eco habit tracker to help people improve their carbon impact, with the aim of not compromising on convenience.

The trio say it is the first eco-habit tracker to understand its users’ individual behaviour.

“Eevie was designed to suit people’s lifestyle and preferences instead of giving generic solutions, making it easier to recycle, shop local, eat less meat, compost at home, travel sustainably and more. It provides users with information, resources, tips and gentle nudges right when they need them.”

Eevie, which is available on the App and Play store for free, provides immediate feedback on how certain decisions affect day-to-day carbon footprint, everything from commuting to work, to source local produce.

“Despite there being apps that address making sustainable choices, people still struggle because there are no one-fits-all solutions,” Willms continues.

“We believe that a data driven approach to providing useful solutions to users can give us the necessary advantage to reach the millions of people who are marching the streets and are ready to make changes to their lifestyle.”

Willms says most of the company’s competitors are currently focusing more on carbon offsetting and “less on actually helping their users mitigate their emissions through behavior change”.

“The ones we think do this best are ForGood, LiveGreen and Wren.”

The company has struggled to be taken seriously as a business by investors, Willms adds. “A stigma we carry with us is the notion that doing something good or ecological is contradictory to creating a profitable business.

“On one occasion during a pitch presentation, a potential investor asked us ‘whether we are addressing the business or philanthropic side of his brain’.”

However the the co-founders’ goal is to become the leading guide for sustainability over the next five years.

“Our vision is to participate in building a world in which sustainable behavior is the norm,” Willms says. “This will require us to build all the tools required to enable a community of doers that want to make this change happen.”

Source: Forbes – Entrepreneurs
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This Cookware Startup Goes Eco-Friendly And Plastic-Free

Jordan Nathan started his company after almost poisoning himself with toxic fumes, he says. 

Having left a non-stick pan on the burner for too long, Nathan said his apartment was filled not only with smoke but a chemical smell that he feared could be poisonous. He called poison control to see if 45 minutes of fumes coming off his non-stick pan could have turned toxic. They confirmed his doubts, he says. “It’s possible that I was exposed for sure. After that experience, I had the idea for Caraway.”

Non-stick pans can be used safely, he clarifies. “They’re designed to be cooked on medium heat, not on high heat with smoke and fumes coming off of them. But there must be a safer option all around.”

As someone who had built companies, and previously worked in home goods, serving as CEO of Vremi, a New York City-based kitchenware brand, Nathan decided to launch his own company — one that focused on a cleaner non-stick alternative. “I didn’t see anyone focused just on ceramic pans with an emphasis on design.”

Caraway sells sets of ceramic cookware, which are made of a heavy-duty aluminum gauge and have a ceramic coating (applied three times). Compared to other ceramic options on the market, Nathan clarifies that the extra coatings prolong the life of the pan and the non-stick coating.

Ceramic pans are not a new-age invention. Rather ceramic refers to clay pots and pans that have been hardened by fire in a kiln. They’ve been a natural way of cooking for generations and companies such as Xtrema still sell modern renditions of pure ceramic cookware. But many of today’s brands use a metal base with a ceramic coating instead.

Unlike conventional non-stick pans that are dipped in a chemical coating, ceramic coated cookware is fired. With that comes cracking. “That’s the biggest challenge with ceramic. You can have more pans crack in the manufacturing process, which increases the cost and can result in waste,” Nathan says.

Yet by cutting out middlemen and working directly with factories, Nathan says that the increased cost can be managed. He visits the factories every 45 days, he notes, to oversee production runs. That’s led to a more detailed design process: “Everything has been designed from scratch, from the handles for the most comfortable grip to even the rivets.”

He adds that Caraway does a ceramic coating on the interior and the exterior of the pan, which is scratch resistant. “That was not easy to achieve.”

Given his interest in being an eco-friendly company, the pans come in plastic-free packaging entirely, a clear deviation from heritage brands in cookware, he notes.

“It’s up to our generation to make a good impact. This category in general, cookware has so much wasteful packaging and materials like bubble wrap. These are areas that we can improve upon.”

Despite his tweaks and innovations to the classic cookware set, Nathan found it hard to raise capital with all the other cookware companies sprouting up in the past two years, he says. Yet,  last summer, he was able to secure $1.8 million from about 60 investors. 

Inspired by companies such as Outdoor Voices and Method, Nathan wants to carve out a space in cookware for Caraway, building on the eco-friendly values of the company. “The first step is to get the company up and running and a product that’s sound. Now, we can build out these different avenues,” he says.

That includes encouraging customers to recycle their old pots and pans. Industrial recycling facilities exist, but they need to be easier to access. “We’re working on it.”

Source: Forbes – Entrepreneurs
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20 Clever Ways To Be Seen In 2020

The new year is approaching and one of the biggest goals I hear from entrepreneurs is visibility. Visibility for their business, products and brand. Here are 20 things to do in 2020 to increase your business’s visibility. 

1) Join A Sharing Group

There are groups where you can connect with other entrepreneurs who are willing to share your work with their community in exchange for you doing the same. This is a great way for you to gain access to a new audience as well as provide your audience with fresh and relevant content. 

2) Be A Local News Expert

Press is always an amazing way to increase the visibility of your brand. If you haven’t considered becoming a resource for your local media – now is the time. How To Become A Local News Expert 

3) Guest Post

Guest posting on someone else’s website sounds super easy, but in reality, people are becoming much more protective of their digital workspace. In order to post on highly relevant websites, it’s important to create a genuine relationship with that person before asking to contribute. 

4) Engage With Messenger Chatbots 

I’m a big fan of automation, and messenger chat bots are a great way to start conversations and increase engagement. When someone allows you to be in their messenger – you’ve hit permission marketing gold. 6 Easy Ways To Use A Messenger Chatbot And See Results Right Now

5) Facebook Lives

The ultimate visibility tool – doing Facebook live’s will increase your heart rate as well. “Live” is the name of the game, so any small mistakes or slip ups are to be expected, but that just adds to the charm. Facebook Live allows others to experience you in a whole new way. 

6) Start A Networking Event

This is an offline tool that is often overlooked. A lot of entrepreneurs don’t realize that they can start their own networking event – and thus being front and center to a group of people on a regular basis. People still love to get together in person, this is an opportunity to be that connector. 

7) Commit To One Or Two Conferences

Conferences are a great way to increase the visibility of your business. Plan to attend one to two really key conferences (try to speak at them!) and make as many connections as possible. I’ve some of the most valuable connections of my career standing in line for coffee at SXSW. Bring your business cards.

8) Start A Podcast

From Podcasters Paradise with John Lee Dumas to Pat Flynn’s Power-UP Podcasting, you have access to any resource you need to start a podcast. Your topic should serve to provide value to your listener, but also to position your business as the expert in your arena. Be intentional with this. 

9) Be A Guest on Podcasts

Offering up your expertise on other podcasts is a fabulous way to be more visible. Pitch yourself as a guest on all relevant podcasts that serve your target customer. Be courteous and share the interview with your audience – podcasters appreciate visibility too! 

10) Blog On Medium

If you are only blogging on your website, you are missing out on a ton of traffic. It can get overwhelming to create a ton of content, sure, but if you are putting content up on your site and only 3 people read it – what’s the point? Get your content up on platforms like Medium, where there are millions of readers. 

11) Contribute To A Media Outlet

There are a ton of media outlets who need contributors, so start pitching yourself. Some outlets will let you repurpose content you’ve already written, some require new content. Create a list of media outlets that speak to your target customer and start applying.

12) Answer HARO Requests

Answering pitches that journalists put out is one of the easiest and fastest ways to get press. will send you media queries 3 times a day. Quickly sift through them and answer any that are relevant to you. 

13) Start A YouTube Channel

With billions of views on YouTube a day, it’s hard to deny its reach. Starting a channel has resulted in a lot of visibility for business owners – but it’s a long tail plan. Stick with it, be consistent and watch it grow.

14) Explore Amazon Video Direct

I’m surprised more people haven’t jumped on this yet. AVD allows you to have your own TV show on their platform. You can earn a small commission for everyone who watches it – but with streaming being so popular, this is a platform that is being overlooked.

15) Strategic Partnerships

Creating strategic partnerships is one of the best ways to grow. Find another business that has the same target market as you, but serves them in a different way – then explore ways to serve them better together. 

16) Start Speaking

Probably the least popular, but one of the most effective ways to be seen. A lot of people have a fear of public speaking – but getting your message in front of large groups of people is a surefire way to gain visibility.

17) Grow Your Email List

You’ve no doubt been told you should have an email list – but this is also a long tail play. You will need to be consistent with your communications and continually working to grow it. It’s worth it! 

18) Syndicate Your Content

Find ways to syndicate your content using software like Meet Edgar, Social Bee, Hootsuite, TailWind, Flipboard, etc. These are a few of my favorites, but there are lots of ways to keep your content out in the world circulating. 

19) Write Your B Book 

Writing a book is one of the best ways to get press and gain visibility for your business. It doesn’t have to be a novel – it can be your B Book. Start writing!

20) Be A Connector

Connecting people to one another is one of the best ways to make a lasting impression. It’s also an amazing way to increase visibility of your business. Seek every opportunity to connect two people who could be beneficial for one another. 

Source: Forbes – Entrepreneurs
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12 Inspiring Business Books About Empathy The World Needs Right Now

Empathy is one of the most essential attributes of a leader. Leaders who lack it often find themselves without anyone to lead. As a younger professional, I worked for people with a complete lack of empathy, which made me think that was how successful leaders should be. Being cutthroat and unsympathetic seemed to get them what they wanted.

Everything but self-respect, that is. The co-founder of my last company really opened my eyes to the importance of being empathetic. Through her, I came to understand how empathy not only plays a part in being a good leader, but also in being a good person. Without a connection to how others experience and feel things, we live in a bubble.

However, balance is much needed — being too empathetic can be a slippery slope to low performance. Being empathetic can’t mean a lack of accountability or turning a blind eye to the company’s needs.

If you can balance being an empathetic leader with bringing out the best in your team, that type of magic can make you a great leader today and in the future. 

Flexing Your Empathy Muscle

Empathy doesn’t always come easy, of course. We could all use some inspiration, so check out these 12 books to learn to see things from the other side.

Mean People Suck: How Empathy Leads to Bigger Profits and a Better Life by Michael Brenner

Brenner confronts the biggest challenges from his 53 different jobs as a business owner and sales and marketing leader. In those various positions, he gained great insight into empathy’s role in success. His book tackles why people are dissatisfied at work; much of it comes down to the simple principle that mean people suck.

Some leaders believe they need to be mean to be effective. Their lack of compassion creates negative relationships, impacting performance and profits. Brenner offers real-life experiences and research that point to looking inward rather than blaming others. Learn why employees are unhappy — and how to use empathy to right the ship. 

The Empathy Effect: 7 Neuroscience-Based Keys for Transforming the Way We Live, Love, Work, and Connect Across Differences by Helen Riess

Do you question whether empathy is a matter of nature versus nurture? Dr. Reiss shares her conclusions about empathy based on neuroscience, suggesting that empathy isn’t only innate, but it’s also a skill we should all develop and enhance. 

The book has been considered a definitive source on empathy, and it’s a perfect addition to any leader’s bookshelf. Empathy and emotional connections can seem like touchy-feely issues, but this book breaks down the actual science behind how and why we behave the way we do.

Mindsight: Transform Your Brain with the New Science of Empathy by Daniel J. Siegel 

Mindsight seamlessly integrates brain science and psychotherapy. Mastering it could increase your self-awareness, allowing you to develop more profound empathy. Think of it as a master class to upskill your own ability to empathize with others.

To that end, this book is interactive and includes case studies from the author’s clinical practice. You’ll learn how to observe the inner parts of your mind, providing you with an understanding of how other people think, feel, and act.

The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society by Frans de Waal 

Is selfishness the worst evil? More importantly, is being greedy and selfish innate to human nature? These are the questions posed by the author, and he believes that selfishness isn’t innate. We’re born to strive to belong within a group and make contributions to the greater good.

By studying social behaviors in animals, his book makes the case for empathy being a natural instinct. Could empathy actually be a means for survival? Read the book to determine whether this optimistic perspective is true — and whether you agree.

Empathy: Why It Matters, and How to Get It by Roman Krznaric

The author interviews a wide range of professionals, including actors, activists, designers, nurses, bankers, and neuroscientists. From these interviews, he determined there are six life-altering habits of those with high empathy. 

The book offers a guide on how to connect with others genuinely, providing you with more happiness. It’s a good blend of the theoretical and the practical, ensuring you don’t just learn more about empathy but can actually apply your learnings.

Empathy curated by Harvard Business Review 

Harvard Business Review collected multiple original articles about empathy and produced a book, offering others a glimpse into the human side of professional life. It provides readers with an Empathy 101-style overview, imparting what empathy is, why it’s important, and when it’s appropriate. It also offers a wide variety of perspectives on the subject, making it a good primer.

The Empathy Factor: Your Competitive Advantage for Personal, Team, and Business Success by Marie R. Miyashiro 

Research in brain science, organizational theory, and emotional intelligence all support the author’s definition of empathy. But it’s not just a definition; the author looks closely at how it plays out in the office.

In this book, you’ll find practical insights on how to build empathy skills within the workplace. Exploring business productivity and office management, Miyashiro’s work offers a framework to help leaders meet their businesses’ six crucial needs while respecting the individuals within them.

Well-Designed: How to Use Empathy to Create Products People Love by Jon Kolko 

Who knew that empathy could be a competitive advantage? The author makes just that case, declaring that caring about others translates to better products. He repositions the typical sales process, putting the customer at the center.

The author, a product designer, explains how you can gain a deep understanding of your buyers’ needs and feelings and then leverage that understanding to design products that will create genuine fans. This book will change the way you think about product development.

Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy by Dev Patnaik 

Dev Patnaik, a leading business strategist, insists people are wired to care. He thinks some of the most successful companies are as well. The book takes you inside big-name brands like Target, Intel, and IBM, allowing you to see how powerful empathy can be in a business context.

He explains that society would have unlimited potential if only we could all see the world through each other’s eyes. He then offers insights into how companies have given this skill more weight and influence.

The Art of Empathy: A Complete Guide to Life’s Most Essential Skill by Karla McLaren 

This book suggests empathy is a part of human connection, allowing individuals who have it to be more successful. After all, people do business with people they like — and they like people who genuinely seem to understand them.

The book draws support from neuroscience, social psychology, and healing traditions. The Art of Empathy teaches you how to sincerely perceive and feel other people’s experiences, drastically improving your social and emotional life.

Applied Empathy: The New Language of Leadership by Michael Ventura 

The author of this book — whose storied career includes time at Nike, Google, and the Obama administration — says empathy isn’t about being nice. It’s not about buying someone a new pair of shoes; it’s about walking alongside him so you understand what a mile in his shoes looks like.

The book offers real strategies for leveraging empathy to become a better leader. Leaders, of all people, are best positioned to both show empathy and inspire it in others.

Compassion Inc.: Unleashing the Power of Empathy in Life and Business by Gaurav Sinha 

The author puts forth the idea of the economics of empathy for life and business. As ethics and authenticity take center stage in today’s business exchanges, Sinha explains that empathy is a way of maintaining a conscience and being true to one’s beliefs.

He then offers actionable solutions for the changing business world, drawn from his years of experience in advertising and hospitality. The idea: Customers are changing, and without empathy, your brand won’t be able to keep up.

With these 12 books in your arsenal, you’ll be able to effectively enhance your empathy skills and build a strong, supportive culture among your team. Empathy may not always come naturally, but it’s a muscle we can most certainly strengthen.

Source: Forbes – Entrepreneurs
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The Holidays Are Here. Is Your Online Business Ready?

The holiday shopping season is often the most profitable time of year for retail businesses. If you run an e-commerce business, you won’t have to worry about hanging garland and twinkle lights, but you will have to prepare for the influx of holiday shoppers. Do what you can to lure them to your digital doorstep and make sure your site is ready to handle the increase in traffic.

Online shopping activity ticks up each holiday season, and according to Adobe Analytics, November and December of this year will set sales records once again. The company’s AI-powered model projects a 14.1% increase in total U.S. online sales over last year, along with a 4% increase in combined online and offline retail sales. Hopefully, you’re ready to capitalize on a portion of that uptick. If not, start preparing now by focusing on the following three areas:

1. Optimize your inventory and shipping setup in advance.

Stock up on product lines that you predict to be more in demand during the holidays. Hint: analyze product sales trends at your business, paying close attention to prior holiday seasons. When it comes to new products you’ve added since last year’s holiday rush, make an educated guess based on similar products you sell and industry trends or predictions. For example, The NPD Group predicts home items will sell big this year and is expecting to see apparel sales decline during this holiday season. Let these industry forecasts influence how you stock your online store.

Also keep in touch with your suppliers about delivery dates. Knowing the ETA of your larger-than-normal product deliveries will help you better staff your warehouse on those days to accommodate. Now that peak shipping season is upon us, you’ll want to make sure you’re well stocked with shipping supplies. Inevitably some customers will be sending products back to you. Offering a reasonable and seamless return policy to customers will help you generate brand loyalty. If this is your first holiday shopping season, nail down your return policy before the holidays are in full swing. Order prepaid shipping labels and make any necessary packaging modifications before you announce holiday shipping rates. Planning ahead is critical.

2. Prepare your IT team.

Your servers may be handling far more traffic than you’re used to during the last couple months of the year. A flood of online customers is a good problem to have, but you’ll have to deal with the issues that causes. After all, you don’t want to suffer J. Crew’s fate on Black Friday 2018: Tech issues lasted almost all day, and frustrated customers decided to shop elsewhere rather than wait. According to reports at the time, the outage lasted five hours and affected about 323,000 shoppers.

There’s no doubt that your IT security infrastructure is going to be tested this holiday season. “It’s not a matter of if you’ll have an outage, it’s when, and heaven forbid it’s during peak shopping season,” says Yoni Leitersdorf, founder and CEO of Indeni. “Security infrastructure automation solutions enable modern retailers to proactively identify issues that could reduce the performance or availability of their e-commerce storefront and address them before their revenue is impacted.” Automation can give your IT team more bandwidth, but when brick-and-mortar stores are decking their halls, make sure your IT team knows it’s still all hands on deck for them.

3. Make sure your marketing is firing on all cylinders.

Holiday shopping season is no time for your marketing machine to break down. Develop marketing content around your key differentiators and add a seasonal touch. You could run a festive campaign building up to a major shopping holiday like Cyber Monday, for instance, although you shouldn’t create a false sense of urgency to coerce customers into buying from you. Instead, create a unique opportunity for them and a real reason to buy. Maybe you only have a few discount sales per year, or perhaps you’re donating a portion of the proceeds from a promotion to a select charity. The more distinctive the promotion, the more compelling your marketing materials can be.

You might also consider allocating an increased amount of spending to certain channels. With an app like Instagram Shopping, you can make the product images in your ads searchable—whether they appear on your website, on Facebook or even in a magazine feature. Speaking of online marketing for your online business, Caleb Siegel, VP at Group8A, advises coordinating in advance with vendor reps and partners before shopping season is in full swing. “Make sure all relevant resource contacts are available and on call,” he says. “The last thing you need is a problem with Google Ads or Facebook ads with no rep to help out during the most crucial periods.”

The 2019 holiday season is already underway. If you’re feeling behind already, you’re probably not alone. The demands of the holidays sneak up fast, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed when they get here. Don’t panic! Instead, make a plan for the next 30 to 60 days around how you’re going to handle inventory, cybersecurity and marketing over the holidays. Things won’t always run smoothly when your online traffic spikes, but then again, that’s not a terrible problem for an online retailer to have.

Source: Forbes – Entrepreneurs
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Twitter Will Soon Be Deleting Some Of Your Followers…And Other Small Business Tech News

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 — Twitter’s announced plan to delete inactive accounts is on pause…for now.  

Earlier in the week, Twitter said that it would next month begin removing inactive accounts from their platform. But the company then walked back on that promise because of an uproar, particularly from those who had deceased relatives with inactive accounts and wanted to have some way to maintain them. The company said it will come up with another plan soon. (Source: Engadget, BBC)

Why this is important for your business:

Rest assured, once Twitter comes up with a plan for memorializing certain accounts, the mass deletion plan will resume. While the closures will take place over several months, the goal behind the clean-up is for Twitter to be able to present more credible, accurate, and up-to-date information, rather than be filled with inactive accounts. The move may also make it more difficult for spammers to takeover accounts for their own personal gain. Accounts that haven’t been signed into for at least the last six months will be deemed inactive. Some business owners may complain about the loss of followers from this action. But in the end, Twitter’s move will increase the credibility of their platform and for those relying on Twitter to build their communities that’s a good thing.

2 — Pinterest is launching a small business shop ahead of the holidays.    

Pinterest has announced that they are rolling out a new feature just in time for the holidays called The Pinterest Shop. While Pinterest does currently offer Product Pins, the current listings come from bigger brand names such as Target or Home Depot. Now—just in time for Small Business Saturday—users will be able to shop from different small businesses through hundreds of “Product Pins” within the feature. Although Instagram has a similar shopping platform, the main audience for their platform is teenagers. Pinterest—however— plans to capitalize on the fact that its audience is made up mostly of women between the ages of 18-64 who have children. (Source: CNBC)

Why this is important for your business:

Pinterest has a unique demographic in that it appeals more so teenagers and females. If that’s your target audience, then this may be a good time for your small business to take advantage of their new Product Pins geared towards small businesses.

2 — Employees shopping online pose a risk to small businesses.       

According to a recent survey, 82% of small business executives expect a lot of their employees to use an employer-issued device to do their online holiday shopping this season. Although 61% of those executives share that they believe their employees shopping online will create a cyber-security risk to their company, they do not think they have any options to put a stop to it. 49% of participants predicted that the majority of their employees would not be able to identify a malicious, fake link posing as a retailer online. (Source: Small Business Computing)

Why this is important for your business:

It’s not uncommon for people to catch colds during the holidays. It’s even more common for computers to catch viruses. That’s because so many of us – and our employees – are using our devices to shop online and we’re never really quite sure which sites we’re being directed to are legit or not. It may be a good idea to sneak in a little security training for your staff in the next week just to be sure. Otherwise, the ransomware elves could ruin your holiday season.

4 — An online marketplace for independent boutiques has raised $22M.  

Trouva—a London startup which offers brick-and-mortar independent boutiques an online marketplace—has raised $21.8 million and is planning to use the funding to help expand beyond the UK. Trouva’s focus is to provide a way for unique, independent boutiques who sell intricate and difficult-to-find pieces, to sell online. Funding will also be used to help continue work on building out more advanced technology when it comes to inventory and logistics management on the platform. (Source: Tech Crunch)

Why this is important for your business:

As the company expands beyond the UK, Trouva may be a potential channel for your business as well. If you’re in the antiques or specialty retailing business you may want to check them out.

5— Google is adding AI smarts to G Suite and updating Google Assistant and Docs.  

The most recent addition from Google’s AI experts will provide users with the ability to access specific G Suite apps using Google Assistant, and Google Docs will also see the addition of Smart Compose text suggestions. Currently, a beta version of AI voice assistant in G Suite exists, where users are able to use voice commands in order to navigate and manage their Google Calendar schedules, events, and invitations. The new Smart Compose capability being brought to Google Docs will allow users to utilize AI to assist with drafting documents, even helping reduce redundant language, slowly adapting to the user’s personal style. (Source: Computer World)

Why this is important for your business:

I will continue to report on new artificial intelligence features that software vendors are adding to their products and I will continue to remind my clients – and all small business owners – to embrace these features. With a little bit of configuration and learning time, you can find yourself automating processes that were previously done by humans and thereby increasing productivity and decreasing your overhead.

Source: Forbes – Entrepreneurs
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