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Transform And Adapt To The Future

To survive, thrive and achieve our bold professional ambitions in today’s competitive world, we need to continously transform and adapt to the future.

Creative disruption is shaking every industry. Global competition is fierce. The employer-employee pact is over and traditional job security is a thing of the past. Everyone is mandated to think like a business entity.

According to a recent USA Today survey, more than 50% of today’s college students want to be entrepreneurs. Over 68% of people between the age of 28 and 35 want to start a business and entrepreneurs over the age of 50 are one of the fastest growing groups of business owners. Venture-capital firms are investing record amounts of money in these new businesses, but their billions of dollars are being eclipsed by a new source of capital: crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is expected to top $30 billion this year (up from just $880 million in 2010), according to a report by Massolution. Even even the traditional IPO market is being disrupted by equity crowdfunding, which was recently enabled under Title II of the JOBS Act. This newest form of fundraising, while limited to just accredited investors, is expected to top $2.5 billion this year.

With so much competition, startup founders and existing corporations can no longer survive by just adding new features or marketing product extensions. In today’s business climate, incremental innovation is like walking on quicksand – it will keep you busy, but you won’t get very far.

To thrive, all businesses must focus on the art of self-disruption. Rather than wait for the competition to steal your business, every founder and employee needs to be willing to cannibalize their existing revenue streams in order to create new ones.

All disruption starts with introspection. Instead of focusing the traditional planning cycles where companies benchmark their businesses against existing competition, teams need to be developed to foster internal change and disruption. Self-disruption is akin to undergoing major surgery, but you are the one holding the scalpel.  Even Google and Apple continue to expand and dominate new industries because they strive to create a culture of risk taking, self-disruption and experimentation. Would anyone have predicted ten years ago that either of these companies would be going into the auto industry? Does anyone today doubt that they will be successful?

In order to protect against being disrupted, startups also need to recruit employees that are committed to life-long learning. The skills that made your team members valuable may not be the skills needed to take your company to the next level or to compete in emerging markets. The Internet of Things, 3D printing and the sharing economy are going to impact virtually every business sector during the next five years. In order to change your company culture and seize opportunity, you need to hire people that are willing to change themselves.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves,” Leo Tolstoy wrote a century ago. Never has that statement been truer or the opportunities for startups greater. The greatest obstacles continue to be the greatest opportunities for entrepreneurs. By mastering the skills needed to disrupt you and your company, you can bolster your competitive advantage and continue to change the world.

LinkedIn cofounder and chairman Reid Hoffman has this advice for treating yourself as a business entity to accelerate your career in today’s competitive world:

  1. Develop a competitive advantage to win the best opportunities.

  2. Find the unique breakout opportunities that massively accelerate career growth.

  3. Maintain a diverse mix of relationships and develop a practice of life long learning.

  4. Strengthen your professional network by building powerful alliances.

  5. Take proactive risks to become more resilient to industry tsunamis.

  6. Tap your network for information and intelligence that help you make smarter decisions.

  7. Adapt your career plans as you change, the people around you change, and industries change.

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How To Optimize Your Mobile Site For Speed

Whether we’re shopping for eye-liner, concert tickets or a vacation in Paris, the Internet has changed how we decide what to buy.  Brands have to provide useful, relevant information fast if they hope to be useful to consumers. A sluggish mobile site is a huge road block in achieving your goal of being the preferred brand customers select.

The research:

study by Google on Micro-Moments found out that 29% of smart phone users will immediately switch to a different app or mobile site if the one they are on does not satisfy their need i.e.

  1. If it loads too slowly or;
  2. If it does not have the information they need or;

  3. If it takes too many steps to get the desired information or perform a certain task.

Of those who switch, 70% will leave an app or site because speed related issues like slow load times or too many steps to achieve their desired goal.

So how can brands optimize their mobile sites and apps in order to satisfy this consumer need for speed?

  1. Eliminating steps:

The more steps customers have to take in order to achieve their goal, the more likely they will be to leave your site early. Start by thinking what the goal of your site is and customize it in order to reduce the number of steps a user must take in order to reach this goal. You can easily achieve this by incorporating the following features on your site:

  1. Click to call buttons.

  2. Offering GPS powered directions to your location.

  3. Using one-click functionalities to streamline in-app registrations or sales.

  1. Think ahead and anticipate your customer’s needs:

Being fast often means knowing what your customer wants before they ask for it. You need to know what users are doing on your site so as to figure out what to prioritize when optimizing your site and then do the following:

  1. Ensure you include the calls-to-action for the prioritized activities on your homepage, with those with less priority being hidden under menus.

  2. It is a good idea to have customized information about your location on your site. Google found that 61% of mobile users are more inclined to buy from sites and apps which have customized location information.

  1. Improve your load time:

Load time is probably the most important factor in getting customers to stay on your site. Truth is, even the most well thought out mobile site will still fail if it takes forever to load. Google learned that it takes the average mobile user no more than three seconds of waiting for a page to load before they leave a site.  Have a technical team look through your site in order to get it optimized for speed.

  1. This checklist will help you identify the areas in which you need to improve on.

  2. What main tasks do you want users to perform on your site and how long does it take to perform these tasks?

  3. What features on your site are essential to your customer and how can you use these to anticipate their needs?

  4. How long do pages take to load on your site?

Today, most consumers turn to their mobile devices and expect brands to be there in those mobile micro-moments when they are researching a product, seeking to learn how to do something new or when they are looking for local businesses. A sluggish mobile site is a huge road block in achieving your goal of being the preferred brand customers select. Optimizing your site for mobile will give you an edge in reaching your customers in the moments that matter.

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4 New Mobile Moments Which Are Revolutionalizing Marketing

In 2011, Google released an e-book titled winning the zero moment of truth (ZMOT). In this research, Google discussed the Zero moment, which basically refers to the point when a consumer decides to research a certain product. Usually, this happens long before the seller knows about the consumer’s existence.

 

With the advancement of mobile tech and the constant connectivity which has resulted, people are now making decisions on the go because they can easily look up anything online on their mobile devices. As a result of this shift to mobile, Google has now broken down the zero moment into 4 new micro moments which are described as follows:

I-want–to-know Moments

Google learned that 66% of people turn to their mobile phones to gain more information about something they saw on a TV. In these want-to-know moments, the potential customer is just exploring, learning more about something that aroused their curiosity. They are looking for useful information, not a sales pitch.

I-want-to-go Moments

‘Near-me’ searches are increasing rapidly as more people look to the internet for business locations which are closest to them and where they can get the best value for money.  Over the past year, these kinds of searches have more than doubled.

I-want-to-do Moments

More people are also going online when they want to learn how to do something new as opposed to reading a book or paying someone to teach them. According to Google, ‘how to’ searches increase by 70% annually.

I-want-to-buy Moments.

Google discovered that 82% of customers will look up products online while they are in a store. Marketers have to be ready the consumer who is ready to buy and is searching for the best seller to buy from or is comparing two similar products from two different sellers.

So what do Marketers have to do in order to win the customer’s decision in each of these moments?

  1. Be there: As more and more people go mobile in their information searches, companies need to be there for their consumers on these mobile platforms in terms of presence. When you conduct a search of your own brand on a mobile phone, are you there? Do you like what you see?  Failure by companies to be there is simply handing over all your online opportunities to your competitors.

  2. Be useful: Today’s consumer is a master at tuning out information which is not relevant and useful to them. Consider these facts from Google which show why being useful works:

  3. 51% of smart phone users have bought from companies that they did not initially set out to buy from because they provided useful information.

  4.  71% of consumers select a brand based on how much useful information they get from it on a regular basis.

  5. Only 9% of users who land on a mobile site will stay on it if it does not satisfy their needs.

  6. 28% of users will be less inclined to buy from the company in future.

  7. Be quick: Optimizing your mobile site to be quick is very important if you want to offer customers a good mobile experience.  Consider these 3 areas in which you can achieve this:

  8. Reduce and/or eliminate steps: Reduce the number of steps it takes a user to achieve his or her goal. For example, help customers fill forms by using drop down menus.

  9. Anticipate needs: Being quick means that you can provide what a customer wants before they ask for it. Find out what customers are doing on your site them optimize to offer them the best experience.

  10. Load pages quickly: Remember that even the most perfect mobile site will still fail if it takes too long to load its pages.

Mobile has forever changed the way we live, fracturing the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments. With mobile smartphones, we can take immediate action whenever we want to learn, find, do or buy something.

These is-it-worth-it mobile micro-moments are the new battleground for brands. Each one is a critical opportunity for brands to shape our decisions and preferences. In these micro-moments, consumers demand  quality, relevance, and usefulness of marketing because when we are in-the-moment, our expectations are high and our patience is low. Ultimately, the brands that do the best job of addressing needs in each moment will win consumer loyalty.

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Begin Today

Yesterday ended at midnight. Today is a brand new day. And it’s yours and mine.

So I’ve decided to be delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start. I’ve decided to believe that perhaps there’s a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning. Join me. If yesterday your back was against the wall, and you wanted to cry, scream, stomp your feet and shout, believe me I’ve been there. If yesterday you were ready to call it quits and stop caring, when you go to bed and wake up, pick yourself back up again. It’s a brand new day.

Today brings with it a promise – a blessing or a lesson.

Today you may meet someone who changes your life completely. If someone hurt you yesterday, betrayed you, or broke your heart, forgive them. Lose the heartache and the anger, keep the lesson.

Make everyday count.

Appreciate the moment. The present is a gift. Celebrate this new day which has been granted you. Talk to people that you have never talked to before, and actually listen. Let yourself fall in love with life, break free of the lethal restrictions that are fueled by societal norms and your limiting beliefs. You were made to be more. Set your sights high. Today you get a new chance to create the life you love. Believe in yourself. Be limitless.

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Words Of Hope And Perseverance

The poem Continue was written by Maya Angelou

Words of hope and perseverance… a message of empowerment and hope, of courage and generosity, a call to action and an answer to the question all of us ask ourselves about our ability to make a difference in our own lives and in the lives of others.

Continue by Maya Angelou

On the day of your birth

The Creator filled countless storehouses and stockings

with rich ointment, luscious tapestries,

and antique coins of incredible value,

jewels worthy of a queen’s dowry.

They were set aside for your use

Alone

Armed with faith and hope

And without knowing of the wealth which awaited

You broke through dense walls of poverty

And loosed the chained of ignorance which

threatened to cripple you so that you could walk

A free woman into a world which needed you.

My wish for you is that you continue.

To be who and how you are…………..

To astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.

Continue to let your eloquence elevate people to heights they had only imagined.

Continue to remind people that each is as good as the other and that no one is beneath nor above you.

Continue to remember your own young years and look with favor upon the lost, least and lonely.

Continue to take the hand of the despised and diseased and walk with them proudly in the high street. Some might see you and be encouraged to do likewise.

Continue to plant a kiss of concern on the cheek of the sick and the aged and infirm and count that action as natural and to be expected.

Continue to let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer and let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.

Continue to spare no vision which comes to enlarge your range and increase your spirit.

My wish for you is that you to continue.

Continue to dare to love deeply and risk everything for the good thing.

Continue to float in the sea of infinite substance which set aside riches for you before you had a name.

Continue and by doing so, you and all your dreams will be able to continue…..

Eternally.

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Marketing Technical B2b Products In A Digital World

How Brilliant Marketers Leverage Content, Customer Insights and Big Data To Win

Given the long sales cycle, digital marketing in the B2B technology sector has remained relatively static, focused only on incremental changes. However, business leaders are realizing that in today’s climate, incremental innovation is like walking on quicksand – it will keep you busy, but you won’t get very far.

As in every other industry, the marketing funnel has evolved. More and more B2B buying behavior is online and takes place well before the buyer ever gets in touch with the vendor. As we build and deploy the robust digital infrastructure necessary to reach the buyers, who are increasingly insanely busy, we need to:

1.Get personal

Personalization is the holy grail in B2C marketing. The benefits of monitoring, understanding and predicting an individual’s behavior to create targeted, meaningful, real-time interactions are undeniable. In B2B digital marketing the process is more complex because the buying unit made of many individuals. Therefore propensity data is vital to personalize inbound visits from B2B buyers. B2B digital marketing also requires that we look at the entire sales funnel and develop a content strategy that adapts to the buyer journey based on intent and persona.

2.Use social

While most industry experts particularly in B2B technology sales turn to more selective communities for information over channels like Twitter and Facebook, I predict a return to social in coming years for B2B technical product marketing. With a more sophisticated use of social we can understand who the true influencers are in the buying unit, then surround them with meaningful content and measure the activities we trigger them to take part in. Ultimately the goal is to get them to create organic, engaging content about our brand that carries credibility.

3.Run pilots

Pilot programs are essential for 2 reasons: One, they can be used to test assumptions before making significant investments. Two, they can be used to understand more quickly how activities might play out against primary KPIs in order to maximize an organizations returns. For example, how can content be sequenced to drive high value activities during the purchase cycle such as driving a download, doing an online product demo or filling out a product evaluation more quickly. By defining these high value activities and checking the metrics early using pilots, we can consistently iterate and improve throughout a given time period.

4. Leverage channel surfing

In the omni-channel journey across the website, email, social channel and mobile, relevant content pushes the buyer further into the sales funnel. Using firmographic and behavioral data to customize web and mobile experiences, marketers can build relationships with buyers, guide them and accelerate the purchase cycle. The goal is to make content experiences consistent and additive in a sequence that makes sense based on their behaviors and research needs.

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What We Appreciate, Appreciates.

Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts. – Alan Cohen, Handle with Prayer

I think of appreciation as inspired action, a compelling desire to respond to our blessings and gifts, ignited by gratitude. When we express gratitude and high regard, acknowledge something or someone’s intrinsic value, or convey how much we treasure, chrish and love, the healing presence is summoned forth.

We have all experienced the power of appreciation to inspire, restore, reassure and heal; of being lifted out of the depths of darkness and despaire by the light of acknowledgement and appreciation as it illuminates a diminished spirit. When one is seperated from a sense of their true amazing nature, appreciation can be a mighty antidote.

Often the small ways we move into the inspired action of gratitude can have the greatest impact. We’ve become accustomed to communicating with each other in expedient ways, via emails, texts, status updates and cryptic memos. This week I thought of ways I might consider offering the gift of our time in sending personal correspondence, making a phone call, arranging a visit, pausing to offer a kind word, a smile, a moment of deep listening, an acknowledgement of someone’s existence. This were values I learnt at Maji Mazuri… to appreciate others, and look to the core to really see the other person – their intelligent, creative, brilliant, beautiful self.

In the hustle and bustle of life, I forget that  when we give thanks and express appreciation, we have more to be thankful for and to appreciate. According to Linda Watson, Quantum physics explains that the act of paying attention to something increases the possibility that it will continue to occur. What we appreciate, appreciates.

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Forget The Trivial Focus

We are all going to die, all of us. That alone should make us work together, love each other – seek to make each other’s time here on earth just a little more fun, pleasant and bearable but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities. We are eaten up by nothing.

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First Principles Thinking For Innovation

Top two tips from  Elon Musk:

Actively seek out and listen to negative feedback

Reason with first Principles rather than by analogy. Boil things down to the most fundamental truths then reason up from there (see details below)

In Silicon Valley it’s often common to pitch by comparing our products, services or ideas to what we already know, “It’s like Twitter for cat pics, or “Uber for deliveries.”

In this fascinating interview with Kevin Rose, Elon Musk says there’s a better way to innovate – first principles. With first principles he says, “you boil things down to the most fundamental truths… and then reason up from there.”

The benefit of “first principles” thinking is that it allows you to innovate in clear leaps, rather than building small improvements onto something that already exists. Musk gives an example of the first automobile. While everyone else was trying to improve horse-drawn carriages, someone looked at the fundamentals of transportation and the combustion engine in order to create a car.

First principles thinking for innovation, however, takes alot more mental energy.

See the full interview below:

 

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Time & The Art Of Stress-free Productivity

Time is precious. You don’t have enough time to do everything in the world. Spend your time on the things that matter.

Time is perishable, once passed can not be recovered. You can not save it or turn the clock back. It is irreversible, irreplaceable –  when gone is gone for ever. Take care of it. It is valuable, expensive and priceless. No one can manage time, but you can manage your use of time. Choose wisely what you do with it.

You can manage the things that take your time. Simple tweaks to the way you do things can make a huge difference in your life and work. Bestselling author, entrepreneur, and angel investor Tim Ferriss states ‘Not-to-do’ lists are often more effective than to-do lists for upgrading performance.

In his not-to-do list, Ferris states:

  1.  Do not answer calls from unrecognized phone numbers
  2. Do not e-mail first thing in the morning or last thing at night
  3. Do not agree to meetings or calls with no clear agenda or end time
  4. Do not let people ramble
  5. Do not carry a cellphone 24/7
  6. Do not work more to fix overwhelm — prioritize
  7. Do not check e-mail constantly — “batch” and check at set times only
  8. Do not over-communicate with low-profit, high-maintenance customers
  9. Do not expect work to fill a void that non-work relationships and activities should

Web designer and author Paul Jarvis shares a great list of personal choices that have allowed him to complete his work more efficiently and effectively. A few highlights:

  1. Unsubscribe from newsletters that don’t compel you to read them immediately.

  2. Use one program at a time.

  3. No notifications while working.

  4. Take a break when you’re frustrated.

  5. Follow fewer people on social media.

  6. Work at your peak time.

Ruthless prioritization can help you start breaking bad habits which frees up time and energy to focus on good habits and creative work. More importantly, though, is knowing what activities to not optimize. Jarvis’ favorite non-optimizable activities are spending time with loved ones, laughing until his stomach hurts, and walking in the woods.

AppSumo founder (and employee #30 at Facebook and #4 at Mint) Noah Kagan states, “Do 3 essential tasks everyday.” To stay productive he creates a list of all the tasks he needs to get done in a text file and focuses on getting 3 of the most important done everyday.

You can get a lot done with single minded focus. We often need to do phone calls and fulfill other interruptive or urgent tasks, but everyone can benefit from windows of non-stimulation. Limit checking social networks to a certain time and the type or amount of media consumed throughout the day.

The grander principle is the shift from being reactionary to proactive… Focus on getting the important things done and spending time where it matters.