Friday, 15 May 2015 14:20

How to create retail excitement

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How to create retail excitement by ASHLEY LUTZ AND MELIA ROBINSON (BI)


Pirch, a high-end home store, is making shopping for the most mundane items a beautiful and interactive experience. 

The average person stays in Pirch for two hours testing items like sinks, ovens, tubs, and toilets.


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Friday, 15 May 2015 14:02

How to make a great second impression

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How to make a great second impression by Heidi Grant Halvorson  (HBR)   

Years ago a friend of mine, Gordon, interviewed for a position at a prominent university. During his daylong visit to campus, he had lunch with a senior faculty member (let’s call him Bob) who had final say over the hire. After their food arrived, Bob said of his meal, “You know, this is great. You should try this.” Even though Gordon knew it was a dish he wouldn’t like, he felt pressured to have a bite so as not to offend his potential future boss. The lunch continued pleasantly, with Gordon enumerating his accomplishments and Bob responding positively. Gordon was therefore more than a little surprised when he didn’t get the job.

He learned why a few years later, after he’d been hired for a different position at the same university. Apparently, when Bob had said “You should try this,” he had actually meant something like “You should try this sometime” or “My lunch is excellent,” and he was deeply disturbed that a job candidate would have the audacity to eat right from his plate. He had no desire to work with someone so disrespectful and ill-mannered.

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Friday, 15 May 2015 13:36

Jumpstart Your business

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Jumpstart Your business by R “Ray” Wang (HBR)
blog 2 jumpstart

The punishing forces of quarter-to-quarter performance expectations have forced business leaders to scramble for short-term profit gains at the long-term expense of the organization.  Because of those short-term bets and strategic pivots, organizations are struggling to meet ever-changing customer needs, are challenged to drive margins, and find themselves vulnerable to non-traditional competitors and unattractive to potential employees.  This confluence of forces has led 52% of the Fortune 500 to be acquired, merged, go bankrupt, or fall off the list since 2000.

Business leaders aren’t oblivious to this. We know it.  We feel it.  We all wonder why we insanely continue to do the same thing.

So what’s the problem? Why do we have such a hard time spurring more rapid growth?

First, look at how your organization allocates time and money to its various priorities. Most organizations follow what I call the business hierarchy of needs.  Like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for individuals, with safety and physiological needs (food, water, shelter)  at the base and ego at the top, the business hierarchy of needs has five stages.

Let’s look at each stage, from top to bottom.

Brand: priorities focused on expanding the image and appeal of an organization’s outside perception including building connectedness.

Strategic differentiation: priorities that create game changing transformation or business model disruptions including the adoption of newer social enterprise apps or connected business solutions.

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Friday, 15 May 2015 13:25

Leading your employees

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Leading Your Emlpyees by Christine Porath (HBR)

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For the last 20 years, I’ve studied the costs of incivility, as well as the benefits of civility. Across the board, I’ve found that civility pays. It enhances your influence and performance — and is positively associated with being perceived as a leader.

Being respectful doesn’t just benefit you, though; it benefits everyone around you. In a study of nearly 20,000 employees around the world (conducted with HBR), I found that when it comes to garnering commitment and engagement from employees, there’s one thing that leaders need to demonstrate: respect. No other leadership behavior had a bigger effect on employees across the outcomes we measured. Being treated with respect was more important to employees than recognition and appreciation, communicating an inspiring vision, providing useful feedback — or even opportunities for learning, growth, and development. However, even when leaders know that showing respect is critical, many struggle to demonstrate it. If you’re one of those leaders, consider the following steps:

Ask for focused feedback on your best behaviors. This technique, originated by researcher Laura Roberts and colleagues, will help you see your most respectful self. Collect feedback via email from about 10 people (coworkers, friends, family). Ask each for positive examples of your best behavior. When and how have they seen you treat people well? After compiling the feedback, try to organize the data by summarizing and categorizing it into themes. For example, create a table with columns for commonality, examples (of the behavior), and your thoughts. You might also use to identify themes (you’ll also get a colorful picture that can serve as a reminder of you at your best, most civil self). Then, look for patterns. When, where, how, with whom are you at your best? Use your insights to reinforce what you’re doing well. Be mindful of additional opportunities to be your best civil self. Leverage your interpersonal strengths.

Discover your shortcomings. Gather candid feedback from your colleagues and friends not only on what you’re doing that conveys respect, but also on how you can improve. Specifically, what are your shortcomings? Identify a couple of trusted colleagues who have the best intentions for you and your organization. These are folks who you believe will provide direct and honest feedback. Ask for their views about how you treat other people. What do you do well? What could you do better? Listen carefully.

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Wednesday, 01 April 2015 17:13

Building customer service for business growth

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Six Tips to Boost Customer Service During the Holidays by Karen E Klein | SOURCE:

The holiday shopping season brings new people into your small business. If you impress them, you have a shot at turning them into loyal customers. Disappoint them, and you risk turning them off forever.

It’s not easy to keep service levels high when lines are long and customers get cranky. A recent survey showed that 69 percent of consumers reported worse customer experiences during the holiday months.

But customer service is one area where small businesses can beat big-box competitors. “The real differentiator for small business is providing the excellent, personalized customer service that has been lost in retail today,” says Ronald Goodstein, associate professor of marketing at Georgetown University.


Here are six tips for boosting customer service this month:

Set an example. Business owners should be on the sales floor greeting customers with the kind of attitude they want their employees to display. “The holiday rush is a good thing, not a burden. Get into the shop early, greet your staff members with a smile, and have coffee and something easy for them to munch on when they arrive,” says small business coach Dawn Fotopulos. Having holiday treats in the store for tired, hungry customers is a good idea, she says.

Manage seasonal staff. If you’ve brought in temporary help or seasonal employees, make sure they’re scheduled alongside experienced staffers. “Putting two or three new people on shift at the same time is a recipe for disaster” that could make customers question your quality commitment, says Andrea Servadio, co-founder of Fitdog Sports Club, a doggy day care in Santa Monica, Calif. But when new people can get quick answers to questions and remedy mistakes, customers are far more forgiving.

Go beyond expectations. Dan Graham, chief executive officer of and, has a budget devoted to sending flowers or other unexpected gifts to customers. “This is the time of year, more than any other, where we come into contact with a lot of our customers. It’s imperative that they have a good experience so it will drive repeat business,” he says.

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Wednesday, 01 April 2015 17:11

What are golden leadership qualities?

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What Makes a Leader? Daniel Goleman | SOURCE:

Every businessperson knows a story about a highly intelligent, highly skilled executive who was promoted into a leadership position only to fail at the job. And they also know a story about someone with solid—but not extraordinary—intellectual abilities and technical skills who was promoted into a similar position and then soared.

Such anecdotes support the widespread belief that identifying individuals with the “right stuff” to be leaders is more art than science. After all, the personal styles of superb leaders vary: Some leaders are subdued and analytical; others shout their manifestos from the mountaintops. And just as important, different situations call for different types of leadership. Most mergers need a sensitive negotiator at the helm, whereas many turnarounds require a more forceful authority.

I have found, however, that the most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: They all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but mainly as “threshold capabilities”; that is, they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. But my research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.

In the course of the past year, my colleagues and I have focused on how emotional intelligence operates at work. We have examined the relationship between emotional intelligence and effective performance, especially in leaders. And we have observed how emotional intelligence shows itself on the job. How can you tell if someone has high emotional intelligence, for example, and how can you recognize it in yourself? In the following pages, we’ll explore these questions, taking each of the components of emotional intelligence—self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill—in turn.

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Wednesday, 01 April 2015 17:10

Everything you need to know before you get that loan

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Good Business, Bad Credit? Wait to Ask for a Loan By Karen E. Klein | Source:

Question: I have owned a small business for three years now and I’d like to grow the company. But I have bad personal credit. Is there any financial help for me out there and if so how do I go about getting it? I am a woman-owned business.

Answer: There are options available, including nonbank lending, microfinance, and soliciting investment capital from friends or loyal customers. But the best answer may be one you don’t want to hear: Keep working on your business, improve your personal credit score, and think about expanding in a year or two, when you’ll be in a much stronger position.

Granted, lending terms right now are attractive: Small Business Administration-backed loans are available at interest rates below 6 percent, and last year the SBA waived its fees on loans under $150,000. But with poor personal credit, you’re unlikely to qualify for one of these traditional bank loans, even if your business is chugging along profitably. That’s because banks typically want a personal guaranteeand substantial collateral from small business borrowers.

“Many small business owners struggle to get loans when their personal credit dips. Most banks simply won’t spend time unless someone has a very high credit score, as well as checking many other boxes,” says Sam Hodges, managing director of Funding Circle, one of the peer-to-peer lenders that cropped up as bank lending to small business tightened.

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Wednesday, 01 April 2015 17:09

Mobile Marketing for success

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Six Mobile Marketing Tips for Small Businesses by Karen E Klein | Source:

Mobile phones are essential to shopping these days, and a majority of cell phone owners say they’re willing to share personal data with merchants in exchange for such things as coupons and discounts.

But navigating mobile marketing can be confusing for small business owners, who must avoid bombarding people with unwanted texts while they’re slogging through crowds of holiday shoppers. So how can local merchants use mobile marketing effectively? Here are six tips.

Focus on customers. Consider how consumers already interact with their mobile devices and take advantage of that behavior. Eliminate anything that makes buying more difficult, such as a website that doesn’t load correctly on a mobile device or hard-to-find contact information. Optimize your customers’ mobile Web experiences by adding “click to call” and “click for directions” features, suggests Jeff Fagel, chief marketing officer at G/O Digital. Make sure all your marketing messages look great on the small screens where people are increasingly opening them, says Jessica Stephens, chief marketing officer at marketing technology company SmartFocus. She says 30 percent of mobile shoppers abandon transactions that aren’t optimized for mobile and 57 percent abandon sites that take more than three seconds to load.


Don’t get too pushy. Most Internet shopping activity involves consumers actively searching out information on services or products. But mobile marketing is what’s called “push” technology, which involves sending unsolicited messages to would-be customers. “It’s all done with the idea of engaging customers and getting them to spread your offers on social media,” says Betsy Page Sigman, who teaches operations and information management at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. “If people buy something every time you send a discount, keep sending them. But pay attention to when they stop, because that data tells you a lot, too.”

Respect privacy. The discovery of a series of ad beacons used to track phones in New York City recently caused a ruckus over privacy concerns. You won’t catch people by surprise if you direct your marketing messages to customers who have agreed to receive texted discounts or coupons or who have downloaded an app such as Shopkick. The application, and others like it, allows merchants to send messages to users’ devices when their location service is turned on, showing they are nearby.

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Wednesday, 01 April 2015 17:07

Leading the New Generation

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5 Tips for Leading Millennials by ROB REUTEMAN | Source:

Millennials aren't all that different from the generations before them, but knowing a bit more about their motivations and needs in the workplace can help your entire company succeed. Here's some advice:

Emphasize training and personal development.

Surveys show that Millennial workers rate training and development as an employee benefit three times higher than they rate cash bonuses. “Put your training program on steroids if you want to retain this group. It’s money that is worthwhile to invest,” says Amy Lynch of Nashville-based consulting firm Generational Edge. 

However, this should not necessarily mean laying out every facet of a Millennial employee’s role. Tammy Erickson, author of Plugged In: The Generation Y Guide to Thriving at Work, advises against “over-specifying.” “These are people who have gone through school not necessarily reading a textbook from start to finish, but getting a snippet of information from here and there on the internet,” she says. “Give them a challenge and let them figure it out.”

Encourage collaboration and transparency.

“The new-era employee assumes they can and should contribute to conversation and decisions that affect where they work,” says Lisa Orrell of San Francisco Bay Area-based consultancy The Orrell Group and author of Millennials Incorporated. Meetings should be open, collaborative sessions in which everyone is encouraged to share ideas. 

A good leader will know how to incorporate that input and channel it. “Switch from top-down to side-to-side management,” Lynch says.
“Focus on: ‘Here’s what we have to get done, let’s figure out how to get there.’” 

Reconsider the schedule.

Many leaders are restructuring the workweek to accommodate young people’s stamina and give them more time to recharge. “Be more flexible and try four 10-hour days to give employees a three-day weekend. You’ll make your business a workplace of choice for Millennials,” Lynch says.

Focus on mentorship.

“Millennials have grown up with a lot of guidance from their parents, society and teachers. They truly value and seek hand-holding at work,” Orrell says. “I’ve spoken with many Millennials who have quit jobs quickly because they were promised mentorship but never received it.”

You may also try reciprocal mentoring, such as pairing a smart, tech-savvy Millennial with a senior exec. “Have the exec learn social media while the Millennial learns leadership and management skills,” suggests Jeanne Meister, founding partner of New York-based consultancy Future Workplace and co-author of The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today.


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Wednesday, 01 April 2015 17:06

Generation Gap

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This Is How Millennials Want to Be Managed by ROB REUTEMAN | Source:

Lisa Orrell is a hot property. The author of Millennials Incorporated is one of a handful of trainers and consultants who advise companies on leading the newest generation of workers.

“I’ve had more calls for seminars for managing Millennials in the last two years than the previous five or six,” says Orrell, whose clients include Cisco, eBay, Johnson & Johnson and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Also known as Generation Y, the 80 million Americans born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s began entering the work force nearly 15 years ago. But now they’re taking it over, with experts saying they’ll comprise nearly half of U.S. employees by 2020. And leading them successfully is an altogether different proposition than leading previous generations.

Today’s successful leader has a built-in awareness of the similarities and differences between generations, and how the various age groups prefer to be engaged. This is especially true when it comes to attracting, getting the most out of and retaining the outspoken Millennial group.

Dan Epstein is CEO of ReSource Pro, a New York City-based company that provides outsourcing services for the insurance industry. He says his staff is roughly 90 percent Millennials. 

“I do see a culture clash between some managers and young employees,” he says. “With top-down management—‘Just do what I say’—there’s gonna be that clash.”

Tammy Erickson, author of Plugged In: The Generation Y Guide to Thriving at Work and an executive fellow at the London Business School, co-directs a leadership program for senior executives. “I’d say 90 percent of the Gen X managers I work with are exasperated by Millennials,’’ she says. “They say, ‘I had to wait my turn; you need to wait yours. I had to follow rules. So do you. You’re asking for something quite different than what I had to go through.’”

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Wednesday, 01 April 2015 17:04

Winning with people

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A Winning Personality: Why Ambiverts Make Great Entrepreneurs by Jason Ankeny | Source:

Steve Ballmer is a maniac. Just days into the new year, the rookie owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers took the internet by storm when he leaped from his courtside seat at Staples Center and began wildly gyrating to the music of halftime performer Fergie—a dance described by media outlets as “whacked out,” “hilariously insane” and “enraged and ecstatic all at the same time.” 

The spectacle was nothing new to anyone who recalls Ballmer’s 14-year tenure as Microsoft CEO: Bill Gates’ handpicked successor was a notoriously towering presence at software developer conferences and industry events, stalking keynote stages like a caged animal—a shouting, sweaty Chris Farley character come to life. 

Ballmer, we can surmise, is an extrovert. Or is he? You don’t take command of one of the world’s most influential companies or rack up a personal net worth of $22.5 billion without deep concentration and focus, keen observational skills and at least some capacity for self-reflection—attributes commonly associated with introverted personalities. 

“There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert,” argued Carl Jung, the pioneering psychologist credited with popularizing the concepts of extroversion and introversion almost a century ago. “Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum.”

Public perception notwithstanding, Ballmer is probably an ambivert. The majority of other successful entrepreneurs and corporate leaders are most likely ambiverts as well—and chances are you are, too. Neither fish nor fowl, ambiverts occupy the expansive space between the polar extremes of extroversion and introversion, embodying and adopting key attributes of both psychological archetypes. For example, ambiverts are uniquely equipped to move comfortably between raucous social settings and intense solitude, and while they know how to assert their opinions, they refrain from being aggressive or boorish. 

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