Twitter Link Roundup #249 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Mike | December 26th, 2014

One Direction without autotune. ‘Nuf said.

And now, perfectly in tune and in the proper key, it’s time for our weekly roundup! Great links and articles we shared with you over the past week on our  crowdSPRING Twitter account (as well as my own Twitter account). We do like to talk about logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! I hope you enjoy!


A Liability Risk for Airbnb Hosts –

Getting Virtual Teams Right –

Small Business Marketing Tools and Resources –

Customer Service: The Difference Between Empathy and Sympathy | crowdSPRING Blog –

The Real Reason Unlimited Vacation Policies Work | by

Crowdfunding Campaigns Come With a Growing Price Tag | Yahoo Small Business – Advisor

5 Pointers for Finding a Quiet Place to Work on the Road –


Brands must ‘open up’ and encourage entrepreneurial thinking to stay competitive | The Drum –

How Investing in Employees Ensures Your Organization’s Success –

The New Era of Time Management –

Why Startups Are Bad Storytellers | LinkedIn –

Obamacare and Pre-Solving Predictable Problems | LinkedIn

Peter Thiel on the Kinds of Startups He Would Never Invest In –

Rethink What You “Know” About High-Achieving Women –

Entrepreneur Russ Fradin Makes More Money, Less Noise | Hunter Walk –

The Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas

Build an Innovation Engine in 90 Days –

The Top 10 Business Books of 2014, by @JTRipton! | crowdSPRING Blog –

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Fresh from the SPRING: lenty Audree | December 24th, 2014

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we noticed this holiday gem submitted in this print design project.

Let us start the slow clap for lenty. Check out more great work on lenty’s profile page.

Nicely done, lenty, nicely done!


Small Business and Startups: The Top 10 Business Books of 2014 Guest Post by JT Ripton | December 22nd, 2014

When Ron Charles and Timothy R. Smith of the Washington Post described 2014 as a good year for book lovers, they probably weren’t referring to texts of the business variety. That said, the business book fans among you shouldn’t be too disappointed. From the lessons of a hugely successful serial entrepreneur to the surprisingly insightful musings of a rock star, this year’s bumper choice of business books contained more than a few gems.

Here are ten that should feature on your bookshelf:

The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership – Sir Richard Branson. Image via Flickr by Gulltaggen From high school dropout to space travel pioneer, there are few things that don’t appear on Richard Branson’s resume. In his latest literary offering, he gives a behind-the-scenes look at his notable — and some might say exuberant — leadership style: a style that has helped him build a multibillion-dollar empire. Colorful, shrewd, and freewheeling, The Virgin Way confirms Branson’s desire to make sure that everybody is having as good a time as he is.

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century – Steven Pinker. As short as it is practical, Steven Pinker’s guide to modern writing is a must, not only for writers and editors, but also for anyone who wants to achieve a stylish finish to his or her prose. Using thought-provoking examples of flawless and gruesome writing, and a generous helping of witty banter, the New York Times bestselling author takes Strunk and White’s Elements of Style and gives it a much-needed facelift for the 21st century.

Your Inner Will: Finding Personal Strength in Critical Times – Piero Ferrucci. Piero Ferrucci, psychotherapist and bestselling author of The Power of Kindness, guides readers through a practical study of will cultivation and examines the pitfalls that can arise from a lack of inner strength. In chapters on autonomy, freedom, mastery, integrity, and courage, and using insights from wisdom teachings and psychological exercises, Ferrucci also highlights how to use your untapped energy to skillfully navigate crises and lead a more purposeful life.

Me, Inc.: Build an Army of One, Unleash Your Inner Rock God, Win in Life and Business – Gene Simmons. The ghoulish looking bassist from the rock band KISS is probably not the first person you think of when seeking business insight, but Gene Simmons has proven himself as a formidable business man. Inspired by The Art of War, Me, Inc. describes 13 principles for success, freedom, and peace of mind. From networking like hell to harnessing available digital tools, the inspiration for each principle comes from Simmons’ own field-tested triumphs and failures.

Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success – Shane Snow. If you ever wonder how some startups go from zero to hero in a matter of months, and how you can do it too, Smartcuts is a good choice for your reading list. Journalist and entrepreneur Shane Snow uses smart examples such as Alexander the Great and Jimmy Fallon to bust the age-old myths about success and prove how the most innovative icons adopt a rule-breaking approach similar to those employed by modern computer hackers.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – Greg McKeown. You’ve probably read plenty of books about how to get more done in less time. Stanford graduate and CEO of THIS Inc., Greg McKeown, takes a different slant in Essentialism, focusing instead on how to determine the most important things in life. McKeown advocates eliminating everything that is not essential, so you can do away with the feeling of being stretched too thin and reclaim control of your own choices in life and business.

The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well is the Key to Success – Megan McArdle. In the thought-provoking The Up Side of Down, Bloomberg View columnist and emerging author, Megan McArdle, draws upon cutting-edge research in economics, business, and psychology to offer a new take on the principles of success. By adopting the approach in this book and thinking differently about how you live, learn, and work, you can harness the power of failure and channel early mistakes into future success. This is a must read for anyone who wants to know how to pick up the pieces when the chips are down.

Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind – Biz Stone. Using personal and pivotal stories from his early career, Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, offers a remarkable insight into opportunity, creativity, and empathy. Things a Little Bird Told Me also addresses failure, ambition, corporate culture, and the value of vulnerability. This book will satisfy every reader who seeks advice, principles, wisdom, or behind-the-scenes stories from one of Time’s most influential people in the world.

The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users – Guy Kawasaki. Whether you’re promoting a business or yourself, you probably already know the important role that social media can play. What you might not know is which of the countless authors to listen to. Apple’s former chief evangelist is a smart choice. In The Art of Social Media, Kawasaki teams up with Peg Fitzpatrick to create an essential bottom-up guide. Useful for newbies and seasoned pros alike, this book features more than 100 tips and tricks to help improve your social media game.

The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace – Ron Friedman, PhD. Replacing employees can cost up to 400 percent of their annual salary, so encouraging them to stay put is a wise move. In The Best Place to Work, Ron Friedman blends the latest research into motivation, behavioral economics, and management with powerful case studies to offer leaders a new way to create an extraordinary workplace. In doing so, he gives you the game-changing ability to achieve workplace excellence in any organization.

With the help of these ten business books, there’s nothing stopping you from becoming the successful person you imagine. Keep these books on your mobile device. So whether you’re in the office or on-the-go, these books give you the business advice you need. Stock up your bookshelf (or tablet) now since 2015 is likely to bring a whole new selection of must-reads.

Photos: Richard Branson, by Gulltaggen, Flickr;  and Gene Simmons by Alberto Cabello Mayero, Flickr

Twitter Link Roundup #248 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Mike | December 19th, 2014

As this is the final roundup before Christmas 2014, I thought it might be nice to show you a gift that you won’t be able to give. Why, you ask? The good folks over atCards Against Humanity offered a special expansion pack for lovers of the game. Unfortunately the limited run sold out in a very short time, but the video above will show you exactly what you missed out on. Enjoy!

We hope you enjoy your holiday, but now… it’s time for our weekly roundup! Great links and articles we shared with you over the past week on our  crowdSPRING Twitter account (as well as my own Twitter account). We do like to talk about logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! I hope you enjoy!


Want To Close More Sales? Try Tablets | Usability Geek –

Building Trust In Client Relationships And The Power Of Saying “I Don’t Know” | Search Engine Journal –

Customer Service: The Difference Between Empathy and Sympathy | crowdSPRING Blog –

5 Fast–And Cheap!–Ways To Make Your Office Space More Productive | Fast Company –

Time Is the New Money. Are You Broke? –

How to Tell Your Small-Business Story –


Small Business and Startups: How Do I Thank You? | crowdSPRING Blog –

Where are the Women Software Engineers? –

A Great Name Tells You More Than Just What the Company Does –

6 Alternatives to Being a Bad Boss –

3 Potent Secrets to Innovation | by

Wonderful startup story … When we were small: Under Armour | The Washington Post –

Why Fear Kills Productivity –

Can this Silicon Valley strategist teach Fortune 500s to share?

Rethink What You “Know” About High-Achieving Women –

A Pitch Deck Containing These 15 Slides Is More Likely to Get the Money –

Read the rest of this post »

Fresh from the SPRING: JohnBlaine Audree | December 17th, 2014

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we noticed this gem submitted in this logo project.

Let us start the slow clap for JohnBlaine. Check out more great work on JohnBlaine’s profile page.

Nicely done, JohnBlaine, nicely done!



Customer Service: The Difference Between Empathy and Sympathy Ross | December 16th, 2014

Most customer service teams respond to customers with sympathy. A sympathetic response could be: “I’m also unhappy with the way that product works.”

Sympathy is rarely an ideal response to a customer’s problem. Instead, show empathy. Empathy allows to you be professional and caring at the same time. It also allows you to avoid becoming emotionally involved (like when you show sympathy).

Think about it this way: when you’re sympathetic, you simply feel badly for someone. Sympathy doesn’t communicate to a customer that you understand WHY they feel the way they feel – it only allows you to communicate that you understand their problem. A typical response – “I’m sorry” – is insufficient to solve a customer’s problem. You must do more.

On the other hand, empathy communicates that you not only understand the customer’s problem, but also that you can relate it to something you yourself have experienced.

Here’s a wonderful short RSA video (by Dr. Brene Brown) that puts the two (empathy and sympathy) in context.

Small Business and Startups: How Do I Thank You? Mike | December 15th, 2014

Mom taught us well. She raised us to be polite and she raised us to consider other’s feelings. For many small business owners saying thanks to your team is a head-scratcher. Performance-based bonuses can be a powerful incentive for individuals, and profit-sharing plans can reward great teamwork, but saying thank you can and should rise above those. Besides, not every business can afford meaningful bonuses for the team and not every business has profits to share in the first place.

People (read, your team) have a very basic need to be appreciated. Simply saying, “Thank you” for a day’s work, for a solid accomplishment, or for a record of loyalty can go a long way towards job satisfaction and can act as a motivator by reinforcing the behaviors, productivity, and creativity that we all value so much. In fact, studies have shown measurable gains in productivity when positive interactions outweigh the negative ones. The scary thing is that a recent poll showed a very high percentage of workers reporting that they had not received a single affirmation for the good work they had done over the past year. Yikes.

So, small business manager can take simple steps in the way of “Thank You’s” that carry meaning, that are sincere and thoughtful, and that act as a reflection of the culture of the company. Affirming (with consistent regularity) the hard work and contribution each person makes to the team is the low-hanging fruit. Showing your love for your employees is never a bad idea, so here are 6 simple (and free to inexpensive) ideas for special occasions, or even for no occasion at all!

1. Say it! Stop at an employees desk. Sit down next to him. Smile to let him know that this visit is not about a project or a meeting or a deadline. Look him straight in the eye and say “Thank you.” That’s it. Done. (PS – this can also be done  at the lunch table or on the phone or in the elevator. Duh.)

2. Write it. Sadly, the art of the hand-written note is a dying one. Very few people take the time to write a card or  note even on the most appropriate occasions. So what better way to surprise and delight an employee than with something so simple, so unexpected ad a thoughtful, hand-written note or card telling them how much you appreciate something they did, something they learned, or simply that you appreciate having them on your team.

3. Surprise them at surprising times. Paying close attention to the people around you and listening to what they say can lead to wonderful moments to say thanks and these don’t have to be for someone’s birthday, or anniversary, or at the holidays. At any random time during the year, something as simple as a $25 gift certificate to a restaurant you heard a worker mention can show her not only that you appreciate what she does, but that you respect her as a person. People like to know that they are heard, whether the context is a meeting or a water-cooler discussion about great places to eat. Plus, people love surprises and when they receive a gift (even a tiny little one) at a time they wouldn’t normally expect one, the impact is magnified and the value of that thank-you is greatly increased.

4. Shout it out! Recognizing a team member in front of the rest of the team can be a powerful motivator and there are plenty of opportunities to do it. At crowdSPRING we have a bulletin board crowded with printouts of tweets and emails from our customers complimenting this or that team member  and when a new one arrives, the shout heard around the office is “Put it up on the board!” There are lots of other great venues for recognizing folks: a team meeting is a great time to give a shout out and tell the story of an individual to let everyone know about their big accomplishment or their stellar effort. If you publish a newsletter, this is also a wonderful way to acknowledge someone’s contribution.

5. Help them learn. People value opportunities for personal growth virtually as highly as they do monetary benefit. Google recognized this with their “20% time,” which allowed employees to take one day a week to work on side projects (with great results: Gmail being one). Everyone who works for you has their own hobbies and special interests  and these should be not just celebrated and shared, but you should enable your team to pursue what interests them. Training and development programs can also be a great way to say thanks while building capacity and skills for your company; sending your folks to conferences, seminars, and professional development courses go a very long way to showing how much you appreciate someone.

6. Do stuff together. Lastly, time together doing fun or interesting things is a great way to say thanks while providing the chance for team building and personal bonding. Do outings together, eat lunch together, share movies and books with each other, and plan time away from work where you can just have fun with the folks from work. At cS we have had events as different as company outings to a day at Lallapalooza to after-work beers, to movie nights in the home theater and to a team kayaking trip (the photo at the top of this post was taken this past September on the Chicago River at dusk!).

Twitter Link Roundup #247 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Mike | December 12th, 2014

“Make it snow,” says Captain Picard! Have a listen to this wonderful leader’s very own version of this old holiday chestnut.  13 days until Christmas, but who’s counting, anyhow? WE ARE!

And now… our weekly roundup of the great links and articles we shared with you over the past week on our  crowdSPRING Twitter account (as well as my own Twitter account). We do like to talk about logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! I hope you enjoy!


How to Tell Your Small-Business Story –

12 Best Free Invoice Generators –

5 Ways To Help Employees You’re About To Lay Off | Fast Company –

Need a Business Idea? Here are 55 –

Food Trucks 101: How to Start a Mobile Food Business –

How to Motivate Employees in Less Than 5 Minutes –

Setting up shop: 5 steps to opening a store | Money –

It’s Absurd That Health Care Costs Are So Confusing –

How To Find a Great Business Coach –


A look at 5 sectors: “2015: Some Trends!” | crowdSPRING Blog –

Make Time for the Work that Matters –

The Real Reason Unlimited Vacation Policies Work | by

Coca-Cola Plans to Help Startups Around the World –

8 Qualities of Leaders Who Deliver Value Every Day –

Where are the Women Software Engineers? –

4 Ways To Create More Entrepreneurial Teams | Fast Company –

How to Show Employees Love (Even if it Makes Them Feel Awkward) –

Why Fear Kills Productivity –

You Won’t Get It Right on Day One –

7 Things Successful Entrepreneurs Do –

Lessons From Burning Man on How to Unlock Creativity and Think Big –

How to Scrub Out The Toughest Personalities –

When You Give Your Team a Goal, Make It a Range –

7 Simple Ways to Appreciate your Team (and Boost Performance) –

13 Things Startup Founders Aren’t Thankful For –

Don’t Get Burned by Your Burn Rate –

A Refresher on Net Present Value –

TV-Streaming Firm Aereo Files for Bankruptcy | WSJ –

Making Failure More Productive | Harvard Business Review –

Rethink What You “Know” About High-Achieving Women –

14-Year-Old Entrepreneur on Meeting President Obama | Fox Small Business –

How I Learned To Code On The Job | Fast Company –

Nobody Said Entrepreneurship Was Easy | Trep Life –

Read the rest of this post »

Payoneer Is Coming to crowdSPRING! Mike | December 10th, 2014

We are happy to announce that, as of next week we will be offering a new payment option for crowdSPRING Creatives. In addition to receiving your awards via PayPal you will also have the option of signing up for Payoneer, a leading provider of global payment solutions, for additional flexible and low-cost payment options.

We will no longer offer direct Bank Wire transfers, but through our friends at Payoneer, you can now choose between two additional payment options: a pre-paid Credit Card or bank transfer service:

  • Bank transfer: Once you have signed up for the Payoneer service, you can both transfer funds from your Payoneer Account to your local bank account. This service is currently available in 200+ countries and over 90 local currencies, which you can view here. The rates for this service are significantly lower than our previous bank transfer provider and payment is typically received in just 1-3 days.
  • Prepaid Credit Card: You can also choose to have your awards deposited directly to the Payoneer Prepaid Credit Card. This service is supported in more than 200 countries and your payouts will be available for use within 2 hours! Once funds are available, you can use the card to make purchases online, in stores, and at ATMs worldwide – whereverCredit Card is accepted! Or withdraw funds from your Payoneer Prepaid Credit Card to your local bank account in up to 90 currencies!


We’ll be making this change as of December 22nd, at which time we will no longer support direct bank wire transfers. If you have bank account wire information stored in your mySPRING Payment tab you will have to add a new Payoneer or PayPal account in order to be paid. Any payments that are already scheduled for wire transfer payment will be paid before the end of the year, while any new payments will have to be scheduled using PayPal or Payoneer. We will also be making payments to Payoneer accounts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, instead of just once per week!

Oh yes, one other thing – our friends at Payoneer have a very special offer for crowdSPRING users: if you register now through your Payment tab, Payoneer will throw in free card activation, free payments to your card and free bank transfers! This offer is for a limited time, so HURRY!

If you have any questions, please contact our support team!

Fresh from the SPRING: hookartist Audree | December 10th, 2014

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we noticed this gem submitted in this logo project.

Let us start the slow clap for hookartist. Check out more great work on hookartist’s profile page.

Nicely done, hookartist, nicely done!


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