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When we're stuck in a role for too long, human nature causes us to get restless. Understanding this human phenomenon, what then can you do to keep valuable veterans? Harvard Business Review authors Robert Morrison, Tamara Erickson, and Ken Dychtwald argue that your veterans seek new experiences. One of these include a new professional challenge:
Middlescents often dream of -- and in some cases end up pursuing -- something fundamentally new. Yet jumping the corporate ship is risky, so an employer that can offer an attractive internal career change has a chance to retain valuable talent.
Provide a new game, and it's a good chance your veteran employees will stick around.
Posted on March 27

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True, money does buy independence, and independence is one aspect of happiness. But when you've covered your basic financial necessities, does more money make you happy? Recent studies by economists shows that it doesn't. Warwick University's Andrew Oswald explains, "Once a country has filled its larders, there is no point in that nation becoming richer." So what does make you happy? One includes self-employment, if you have the resources to do it. Says Oswald to Forbes Magazine, ""Everything associated with self-employment -- independence, autonomy -- is also associated with being happy." Other keys to happiness include building relationships -- both social and professional ones. Says Tim Hartford describing one of Nobel laureate Danny Kahneman's study, "Spending time with your friends is one of the most enjoyable things you can do."
Posted on March 26

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Over the weekend, I love to sit back -- and ask myself: why am I really in business? During these times, I'm always struck by JetBlue's David Neeleman on what he really lives for (as quoted in the Harvard Business Review):
Living in the favelas, a few things struck me. The first was that most wealthy people had a huge sense of entitlement. They thought they were better than the people in the slums -- and this rubbed me the wrong way. The second was that the poor people I met seemed happier than the rich, and they were also incredibly generous in sharing what little they had. And the third -- and most striking -- thing was that I was actually much happier, too. Objectively, this made no sense. I was a young guy, far away from my family, only allowed to write letters home once a week and call home twice a year. In that situation, I should've been miserable. But I wasn't because I got enormous pleasure and satisfaction from my work. When my time in Brazil was up, I went for my exit interview, and the interviewer said something I've never forgotten. "David," he told me, "when you go back to your life in the U.S., everything you do will be for you. You'll be in school for yourself, earning money for yourself, and so on. And you're never going to be as content as you were here unless you feel like you're serving -- like you're helping other people." That nugget of wisdom was incredibly powerful: It resonated with me then, and it continues to resonate with me today.
I truly believe that humans are built to look outward. And when they do serve others, happiness is right around the corner.
Posted on March 26

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Want to stop smoking? Don't light one up for the next 21 days. Want to sleep early? Start brushing your teeth at 9:52. Want healthy food? Think green for the next three weeks. On average, it takes people 21 days to start forming a habit. Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz agree that by creating positive life-changing habits, you'll be more productive and engaged in whatever you're doing. Good habits will become second-nature - just like brushing your teeth.
Posted on March 24

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Back in old times, commerce went like this: there was a central hub where every man, woman, and child who had something to sell went to this place. It acted as the only shopping mall to the entire commerce world. Need a sock? Let's go to General Mall. Need to get a copy of the latest Oliver Thatcher book? Let's head over to General Mall.

Soon, the Downfall

As towns began to form, the central marketplace withered, and commerce started to decentralize. Soon, communities started to form their own shopping malls. Then, business owners began to start their unique-standalone-let's-not-be-associated-get-off-of-me stores. General Mall soon became obsolete.

Or So We Thought

A research statistic, just released by Google, found 20 of Europe's biggest retailers hated their online business results. You, like me, at one time or another could relate to the ineffectiveness of online commerce. Either you're a big shark, or you're just making enough to cover your web hosting costs.

It Will Be Okay

Luckily, to the small businesses of the world: let's rejoice. Feeds, blogs, and other Web 2.0 technology is making it easier to compete with the big sharks. Case in point: Google Base. The Mountain View company is trying to fix this problem by giving every man, woman, and child the opportunity to show their wares to a kajillions of people from one central hub. How will central hubs, like Google Base, help your standalone site? Your site will -- if it hasn't done so already -- adopt a feed system. With a feed, every time you post a ware (a.k.a. a post), you'll notify the central hub. That hub will then list your ware, and place it in front of kajillions.

My Prediction

This is what I predict: You'll soon see commerce begin to re-centralize itself. We'll finally come full-circle. The business world will finally see the light: you can't compete on your own online; you'll need a central hub to show your wares. The small guys will be okay. It's March 24th, 7:34 a.m, Friday Morning. If I'm not right about commerce coming full circle, come back to me.

You'll have a crisp $100.00 check mailed to your door.

Posted on March 24

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It's toward the end of the week. As you're heading to your weekend, here are some ideas to ponder as you get there.
  • Set shorter deadlines, accomplish more. 24 hours to create a game? It's possible! See how students create games within a 24-hour deadline.
  • Sell out your company, sell out your customers? For the Alienware brand, it's likely its evangelists aren't too happy. In a tragic business PR move, Alienware sells out to Dell.
  • Is Bill Gates scared? Google, Yahoo, and smaller startups should scare them. Bill thinks otherwise, and we believe him: he's fighting where he can win -- and ignoring where he can't. What's on his mind with Time.
Posted on March 23

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If you're passionate about business like us, you love to study great companies -- and not-so-great-ones. Google debuted its Google Finance app yesterday. Seemingly filled with lots of flash and AJAX, you won't have to continuously load your browser. Until recently, the best we had was Yahoo! Finance. While a great application on the whole, we felt it lacked strategic information at specific phases, during a company's stage. We found Yahoo! useful to study companies based on pure numbers -- but that's about it.

Numbers Don't Say Much

Judging a company on previous trends, and numbers, ignores a company's hidden potential. Where is the company headed? How has it responded to shifting consumer demand? Is it jumping from opportunity to opportunity, or is it exploiting its inner strengths? What values does the company hold? More importantly: how does it enforce it? Warren Buffett didn't get rich playing the numbers game. He got rich because he saw potential in companies.

Why Use Google Finance

Now, with Google Finance, you can better predict a company's potential by (1) studying stories corresponding to a specific stage, with a simple drag of the stock chart; (2) participate in strategic discussions about the company, with a far wider audience; (3) get opinions from a variety of outlets - from the WSJ, to your banker's boss, to your uncle's neighbor; and (4) easily scan and compare rip-away-tear-apart financial statements. Google Finance's not perfect yet -- it's still a little on the slow side with the biggest criticism being flash consuming huge bandwidth. We're sure they'll take care of the situation, as that seems to be the biggest gripe. (Side: Om Malik has a constructive criticism piece on GF, as well.) It's just a beta phase, there will be good complaints. Ultimately, when it comes down to it, the potential of this sucker will ease all of our pains.

How You Can Use Google Finance

Google offers much increased interactivity when studying your company. The official announcement describes its features:
You'll find interactive charts that enable you to zoom through different time periods, headlines mapped right on the charts and are based on Google News, which means you're seeing unbiased and relevant results from more than 4,500 English-language news sources. And you'll get insightful comments from bloggers about public and private companies, plus Discussion Groups moderated by enthusiastic community advocates, which should foster some quality exchanges about the companies you care about.
The heightented interactivity you'll experience in the near future will help you study your companies, and make much wiser decisions for your portfolio. If you're passionate entrepreneurs and business-builders like us, it'll help you inch that much closer to building a great company.
Posted on March 22

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Do something else. You heard us, right. (It's a radical thought, and we're still exploring the idea ourselves. So bear with us!) One favorite questions clients ask: How do I beat competitors? We're normally consistent with our response: If you don't have the resources to provide a better product than Macho Man Widgets, don't compete. Instead, do something else that'll put yourself heads and shoulders above the competition.

For instance, consider Silicon Valley's top heavyweight fight: Yahooooo! vs. Gooooogle.

Yahoo (YHOO), for a time, focused on search where Google (GOOG) ruled. Then, the smart executives at Yahoo -- knowing they didn't have the resources to compete head-to-head with the firm south on the 101-- decided to excel in something else: user-generated search listings. The phenomenon, known as social bookmarking, taps onto the exponential number of users leaving "tags" (publicly-searchable bookmarks) to pages. Despite short-term investors affecting its share price, Yahoo's targeted acquisitions shows that it's doing well and sticking to what they do best. We see great potential if you're looking for a stock choice. In other words: Don't attack Mike Tyson. Attack Richard Simmons. Have fun. p.s. And no, we're not advocating physical violence ;-)
Posted on March 21

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It turns out being "too nice" hurts your health in the long-run. If people are constantly getting to you, psychologists at Frankfurt University say: don't supress your emotions. Says Professor Dieter Zapf, "Every time a person is forced to repress his true feelings there are negative consequences for his health...Being friendly against one's will causes nothing but stress." If you need to air it out, by all means: do so. It'll not only let you release your feelings, but by confronting the facts of a particular situation according to Jim Collins, it'll keep your company healthy and free of politics.
Posted on March 21

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Customer love products built by engineers' excessive attention to detail. Case in point: the Volkswagen factory. See how Volkswagen continually builds a cult of customers through a photo essay of the Phaeton construction process. If you're like us, you'll be inspired by it in creating your own products.
Posted on March 21

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