Fresh from the SPRING: koorolexx Audree | May 12th, 2016
How To Respond When People Ask To ‘Pick Your Brain” Or For A Favor Arielle | May 11th, 2016
As entrepreneurs and business owners, we make many important decisions: we set our company’s culture and strategy, we create our own professional networks, we decide how we want to spend our time and how to prioritize the things we do.
One of the most important decisions we make daily is whether to help someone else. Personally, I know that even though my focus is mostly dedicated to myself and the projects I lead or am involved in, there is a part of me that can’t resist helping another person. While this may take time away from my work, that doesn’t make it a bad thing. When I help someone else, they are more likely to return the favor.
In the world of entrepreneurship and startups, this is crucial. Ryan Freitas, co-founder of About.me and Director of Design at Uber agrees, “Your reputation is more important than your paycheck, and your integrity is worth more than your career.” Freitas reminds us that even though favors may not pay off instantaneously, they can be well worth it in the end.
But, there are days and weeks when it seems everyone wants to “pick your brain” or asks for a favor. Sure, you can drop everything you’re doing and help everyone who asks, but would that be practical? Could you successfully run your business and invest substantial time on coffee meetings and lunches to help others?
There is no rule that you must repay a favor or give a favor right away, so why can’t we internalize this and be smarter about choosing when we grant favors or let others “pick our brains”?
Practically speaking, there is no easy way to internalize this thought – even though we are all aware of it. Researchers have found that we succumb to the pressure of fulfilling favors due to something called the reciprocity norm. The reciprocity norm is one of the most common definitions of appropriate social behaviors. It was first suggested by sociologist Alvin Gouldner in a research statement in the 1960s, stating that if someone gives or helps you in any way (no matter how small it may be), you feel obliged to return the favor in some way.
While the reciprocity norm doesn’t necessarily harm us when returning investor funds, it does hurt us when we begin doing things like creating unnecessary business partnerships or speaking at irrelevant events. Essentially, the reciprocity norm causes us to waste our time without our conscious knowledge. For example, a tech startup focusing on revolutionizing the pharmaceutical industry probably shouldn’t partner with a local jean company. It would make no sense – even if the jean company had invested money or other resources into the tech startup.
Entrepreneurs Who Complain Are Setting Themselves Up For Failure Arielle | May 4th, 2016
An entrepreneur’s day is busy, chaotic, and exhausting. On most days, you feel like all of the hours and effort you put into your business are worth it. But running a business – especially a startup – can often feel like riding a roller-coaster. There are days when you probably find yourself wondering whether you’re crazy trying to build something new. During those low points, many people fall into the awful trap of complaining.
Some people complain more than others. That’s not unusual – it’s human nature to complain. Read some posts on Twitter or Facebook and you’ll find tons of people complaining about many things, including incredibly trivial things. We complain despite the warnings from successful business owners and psychologists that complaining has detrimental effects on our businesses and psyches.
In a recent poll, Hilary Blinds discovered that people spend an average of 8 minutes complaining every day – amounting to five months of complaining in a lifetime. Think about how much you could accomplish in five months!
When we start to complain, we enter a vicious cycle of negativity. Suddenly, the world around us looks less promising and hopeful, and we begin to feel as though we cannot change our situation. The scary part is, in that moment, we’re right. We can’t change our situation when we are complaining. We are essentially wasting our time.
But not only are we wasting our time when we complain, we are literally changing the way we think and process information. According to Steve Parton, complaining triggers a very concerning brain function:
Every time this electrical charge is triggered, the synapses grow closer together [and] decrease the distance the electrical charge has to cross. The brain is rewiring its own circuitry, physically changing itself, to make it easier and more likely that the proper synapses will share the chemical link and thus spark together — in essence, making it easier for the thought to trigger.
Essentially, our brain automatically complains more once we create those initial connections in our synapses. This cycle acts almost like a drug, taking away our ability to think positively and to make change happen. Once we get stuck in that cycle of negativity and complaining, we get nothing done. In fact, recent scientific research from Stanford University suggests that a person exposed to 30 minutes of complaining every day physically damages their brain.
Fresh from the SPRING: Aleksova Audree | May 3rd, 2016
When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we noticed this gem submitted in this package graphics project.
Let us start the slow clap for Aleksova. Check out more great work on Aleksova’s profile page.
Nicely done, Aleksova, nicely done!
The Most Important Skill Every Successful Leader Must Have Arielle | April 28th, 2016
Many young entrepreneurs and business owners think that innovation, marketing and financial know-how are the keys to the success of a business. Those are all important factors, but there is a single, more important factor.
Entrepreneurs and business owners spend a majority of their time talking to people: explaining ideas, directing others, helping, listening, speaking, networking, and taking advice. However, even though everyone talks, not everyone is a good communicator. Plato famously said: “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.”
When you look around at successful entrepreneurs and successful people generally, you typically discover that the best leaders are also terrific communicators. In fact, strong communication is a key to the success of both individuals and teams. (If you want to read more about building great teams and the importance of communication, I recommend you read: The New Science of Building Great Teams in the Harvard Business Review).
Brian Tracy, a successful author, speaker, and CEO of Brian Tracy International, says, “Your ability to communicate with others will account for fully 85% of your success in your business and in your life.” Tracy built his platform of helping other business owners succeed based on the idea that effective communicators are more successful because they are able to be more persuasive, take advice, build relationships, manage and lead better, and just overall be more effective in the role they have in their companies.
Research conducted at the Carnegie Institute of Technology showed that only a mere 15% of financial success came from technical skills or actual knowledge. The rest (85%) came from the ability to effectively communicate with others, both when speaking and listening. Award winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman agrees:
People would rather do business with a person they like and trust rather than someone they don’t, even if the likeable person is offering a lower quality product or service at a higher price.
Why are some people great communicators, and others are ineffective?
The secret lies in how the person with whom you’re communicating perceives you. In one of his seminars, Dr. John Lund talks about the three most important things the other person wants to know in a conversation:
- Is this conversation going to be painful?
- How long is this conversation going to take?
- What do you want from me?
Sound familiar? It probably does – because these are the same questions you ask yourself before the start of a conversation – especially in business where everyone seems to want something. Once you understand that the other person is mainly concerned about these three things, you become a good communicator when you address them right away. By getting those questions answered, the other person can focus on the conversation and it becomes a productive use of time.
For the first question, check your tone and medium of communication. After all, there are varying levels of conversation intimacy. Much like body language, the medium you choose to use tells the other person a lot about what they should expect. For example, if you’re using email or are speaking in a stiff manner when you’re usually relaxed, the other person will expect that the conversation will be painful. You also should anticipate the other person’s views and feelings. Doing so will help you to put them at ease.
Fresh from the SPRING: depmod Audree | April 26th, 2016
Fight of Flight: The Science Of Business Success and Failure Arielle | April 20th, 2016
According to Walter Cannon, a renowned physiologist, humans have two pre-programmed responses to stress: fight or flight. Cannon’s extensive research of people in stressful situations revealed two distinct patterns in how people chose to deal with stress. Some of the people he studied “fled” from stress, doing their best to avoid it in hopes of it going away, while others chose to “fight” the problem- seeking out and trying solutions in order to face and overcome stress.
Much like the people that Cannon studied, entrepreneurs and small business owners face daily stress, probably even more so than the average working person. Melinda Emerson, a leading small business expert, emphasizes that people must develop ways to manage stress for their business to succeed.
In a small company or startup, a lot is at stake, and there is much to lose. Reputation, money, trust, confidence – these are all things that entrepreneur value, but all are constantly at risk when running a startup or small business. So when stressful situations come up, such as a website completely crashing, a major customer or key employee leaving, or not having enough capital, entrepreneurs and small business owners are faced with the same dilemma: fight or flight.
Is fight or flight a real choice or simply a response from our lizard brain? If it’s a real choice, which should an entrepreneur choose?
While some may argue that either fight or flight could be an appropriate response, depending on the situation, the most successful CEOs and entrepreneurs’ actions reveal a very different trend. For the most part, successful people know that the flight response is almost never the best way to deal with a stress or a challenge in a company. Steve Jobs, the late CEO of Apple, agreed that fight is the best choice an entrepreneur can make when battling stress:
I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.
Judging by Apple’s success, particularly after he returned to Apple after a long absence, Jobs’s theory was accurate. As much as we hope they would, challenges and problems rarely go away on their own. Sure, as entrepreneurs we could pretend that tomorrow the website will be magically working again without any intervention, or that money will suddenly fall from the sky, but that never happens. Even Silicon Valley unicorns and their leaders – the darlings of the startup world – go through many difficult moments.
Cannon’s research suggests that one of these reactions – fight or flight – are inherently programmed into our character. So if you are I are by default flight type people, how can we ever expect to be as successful as Jobs?
Fortunately, scientific research has allowed us to see deeper into the biological and chemical activity of fight or flight responses and stress reactions. These studies have revealed that we can actually train ourselves out of the learned helplessness that stems from a flight response. The answer boils down to dealing with stress and challenges in an explanatory style.
There are two basic types of explanatory style, just as there are two distinct reactions to stress. The types can be categorized as optimistic or pessimistic points of views. Usually, the flight response correlates to a pessimistic point of view because that person has learned that they are unable to resolve the issue at hand. A pessimistic attitude causes someone to not believe in themselves, therefore believing that they cannot solve the problem because it is the worst problem in the world.
Why Follow Your Passion is Bad Advice For Entrepreneurs Arielle | April 13th, 2016
Aspiring entrepreneurs are often told to start a business by following their passion. Richard Branson of Virgin agrees that passion is the fundamental reason behind his company’s success:
When you believe in something the force of your convictions will spark other people’s interest and motivate them to help you achieve your goals. This is essential to success.
Richard Branson has been immensely successful and it’s natural for you to respect what he says about entrepreneurship. In theory, following your passion appears to be a great foundation for a successful business. The reality for most aspiring entrepreneurs is quite different.
Most people do not feel true passion. Sure, many feel the need to be passionate and to speak passionately about their ideas and startups. But there’s a very important difference between feeling the need to be passionate and actually being passionate about an idea. Richard Branson WAS passionate and has continued to inject his passion into every business he started. But, even his passion hasn’t fail-proofed his startups. There have been plenty of failures along the way.
Passion is exciting, contagious and interesting. We celebrate people who appear passionate – and we should. But passion can also be fleeting. Here are three reasons why passion might not be enough, in the long run, to help you launch and sustain a successful business:
1. Passion does not compensate for no expertise.
I could be very passionate about building passenger rockets. It could be my dream to launch a company that can send people to space – much like airlines do across the world. But not matter how much I am interested in passenger rockets, that doesn’t mean that I know the technical, financial, or logistical aspects. There are billions of people in the world and many are passionate about space. Who other than Elon Musk is converting their passion into an a for-profit company looking to solve the space travel problem?
Lack of expertise leads many aspiring entrepreneurs to believe that their product is great. Reality can be harsh. Too many aspiring entrepreneurs fall in love with their idea and ignore the problem. Ideas are shiny, new and interesting. But often, they don’t solve an actual problem.