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Best content from the best source handpicked by Shyam. The source include The Harvard University, MIT, Mckinsey & Co, Wharton, Stanford,and other top educational institutions. domains include Cybersecurity, Machine learning, Deep Learning, Bigdata, Education, Information Technology, Management, others.

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    3 ways gender mainstreaming can change the way we do development

    Photo by: Chemonics
    Although the factors that influence women’s vulnerability are complex, the solution to address this vulnerability doesn’t have to be: committing to mainstreaming gender considerations into all activities of development programs, regardless of technical focus. The most effective way to address women’s empowerment is to ensure that all activities and programs in a development portfolio incorporate gender factors so that, together, men and women (and children) can contribute in a coordinated and consistent way to effecting sustainable change.
    Since gender inequality is rooted in so many different aspects of a country’s institutions and culture, it’s not surprising that addressing vulnerabilities and empowering women requires an integrated approach. At Chemonics we have seen firsthand that truly effective programs that deliver results do so by empowering women and protecting the most vulnerable groups in a society, specifically by addressing the cultural beliefs that restrict women’s participation, by changing the legal and institutional frameworks that prevent equal participation, and by shifting patterns of power.
    Three powerful ways that mainstreaming gender can change the way we do development and improve women’s engagement and participation include:
    1. Educating Communities So Women Are Better Able to Participate
    Raising awareness is often the cornerstone of women’s empowerment programs because it can transform the way that communities think about women’s roles, rights, and responsibilities. Education and outreach must provide women and girls with the knowledge and skills they need to participate and create an enabling environment for them to actually do so. Although crucial, it is not enough to provide primary and secondary education. There is also a need to raise awareness about gender issues among whole communities. In Colombia, where a brutal 50-year conflict has intensified the repression of women and girls, Chemonics recently trained 28 local women to lead the charge in raising awareness of women's rights in their communities. These women have been doing amazing work so far and have trained hundreds of other women to lead the charge in their own communities. One woman, Manuela Bonilla, is serving as an advocate for other victims in her community. As she explains, Manuela never used to leave her house or speak in public. Today, she is able to speak up in her community and to help improve the situation of families and women impacted by violence. Manuela is a powerful reminder that women have a critical voice and play a crucial role in post-conflict societies.
    2. Transforming Systems to Improve Women's Rights
    Frequently community structures — including local government, law enforcement, and health care institutions — are unresponsive to women’s rights, designed more to support men's needs and rights in the community, and thus perpetuate inequality. When this happens, development programs must support these structures so they are more responsive to women's needs and rights. 
    By mainstreaming gender considerations into rule of law programs, local governance programs, and even land rights programs, communities can transform the necessary systems and empower women. We have seen this happen in Tajikistan where Gulbahor Rajabova, a farmer, found herself in danger of losing half of her land, and subsequently, her livelihood. Gulbahor’s predicament was all too common in Tajikistan, but her reaction was unique. She challenged the businessman and took him to court. 
    Through the Tajikistan Land Reform Project, a collaboration between Chemonics, USAID, government stakeholders, and civil society, Gulbahor received training and legal support to help her with her case that eventually ended up in the country’s Supreme Court, and decided in her favor. After having won her legal case, Gulbahor could have returned to farming but she decided to be more involved in the project and now regularly meets with female farmers to inform them about the social and legal support they can seek out.
    3. Moving Beyond Traditional Economic Empowerment
    Economic independence is often cited as key to empowering women. But for women to have equal access to and benefit from community resources, these activities must move beyond traditional training programs. On the surface, economic growth programs may not seem like potential gender programs; however, trade reform, promoting business enabling environments, and workforce development can and do transform women’s economic empowerment in ways that traditional training simply cannot. 
    Of the more than 41,000 people working in Jordan’s tourism sector, for example, women make up only 10 percent. Tourism can offer many great career opportunities for Jordanian women and a recent USAID program, implemented by Chemonics, offered scholarships to get more women involved in the industry, and the payoff has been enormous. Dana Al Sabbagh, a young Jordanian woman, is just one example. She has managed to turn a love of cooking into a career, interning at a five-star restaurant in Amman and even traveling abroad to expand her skills. Now, she not only has a better source of income for herself and her family, but is contributing to Jordan’s emerging role as a premier tourist destination.
    Our experience shows that when gender is mainstreamed in critical sectors it can have powerful and lasting impacts. And by integrating gender considerations across sectors, development programs can transform the systems that enable women to transform their own lives and that of their communities. This isn't a simple or easy task, but we believe that if we don't integrate gender in all of our development practices and programs, women and girls' rights and opportunities will be stifled, and the programs will not achieve their full potential and long-lasting impact. We recognize that women's rights and participation are fundamental to global development, prosperity, and peace and stability and, as such, our development efforts must reflect this awareness so that our efforts can help lead to powerful and positive changes.

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    5 Reasons why Startups should go for Social Media Marketing

    So it finally happened. You’ve had your eureka moment and managed to transform that idea into a thriving startup. And now you want everybody and their grandma to know that you’re here and ready to bring about change in people’s lives.
    Its time to go all out and build your social media presence. And here’s why it matters:
    You have a brand that needs bolstering up. You want to capture the imaginations of customers and the paychecks of investors. You want to build up a positive influence. This is where social media marketing comes in and works its magic. Generating public interest about your radical new business idea is the objective.
    Start by identifying what target demographic you are hoping to capture. Knowing where your core audience resides makes it easier to focus your social media marketing on the right platforms. Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter – you’ve got to come up with a social media strategy as early as possible and outline goals to chart your success rate.
    Reach out to more people in Less Time
    Social media is viral and we don’t mean the bad medicinal kind. Word travels fast and like a lightning bolt in social media circles. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s very easy to share the most popular news and content on social networks. A strong social media platform is crucial for bringing in the fans and customers for your fledging business. Learn to identify hot trends and the social media mood to bring in customers by the dozens. Join conversations on Twitter. Address customer queries on Facebook. That’s a surefire way to let people know that you mean business and are always listening.
    Build Relationships
    We call it relationship marketing – the practice of reaching out to your customer base and keeping them engaged with swift responses and awesome content. Granted, cultivating relationships takes time but nothing gets your brand loyalty like relationship marketing. That’s how brand advocates are born, people who continue to generate positive buzz for you.
    It all starts with listening and responding to your followers on social media channels accordingly. You can get invaluable feedback that can go towards making your products and services all the more better for everyone.
    Fight Fire with…. Effective Crisis Control
    Social media does have its flip side. For starters, there’s no longer any way that matters can be resolved through closed doors.
    Listen to complaints, negative feedback and assorted gripes from people all over the internet. How you interact with these situations speaks volumes about how seriously you take your customers. Instead of adopting an aloof approach, resolving issues can work in your favor. It builds credibility and trust for your brand and people are more likely to speak of your virtues this way.
    Go Social or Go Home
    5 years ago people would not have given social med ia the importance that they do today. With traditional advertising channels dwindling in popularity and prominence with every passing day, its not wonder that social media is here to stay.
    Are you a startup? Then brace your belts! And hire some awesome social media marketing folks to give your brands a turbo-charged boost!

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    Shyam's reply

    कांच पर भी  आंच सकती हैं,छाया काया को छोड़कर जा  सकती। 

    दोस्ती भी चंद सिक्को के लिए बिक सकती हैं,

    सच्चे  हैं तो बस माँ  और दुश्मन, वे  ही ऐसे दर्पण हैं, जो,

    आपके ऐब आपको दिखा कर, आपकी हस्ती को उभारते हैं।  

    दोस्तों में  दुश्मन कई मिल जाते मगर,  

    बेनक़ाब दुश्मन गर एक मिल जाएँ  अगर  .…… 

    एक  सच्चा  दुश्मन दे दे  मेरे मालिक 

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    Why Pay Is Down For HBS & Stanford MBAs

    money, salary, pay
    Are Harvard and Stanford MBAs no longer the highest paid business graduates on the planet?
    For years, it was pretty much a given that the most lucratively rewarded MBAs in the world strode off the campuses of the Harvard Business School and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Yet, for the first time ever last year, the average salary and bonus paid to HBS and Stanford grads was below the sums landed by rival MBAs at both the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business.
    For Harvard and Stanford MBAs, in fact, starting salaries and bonuses were the lowest they have been in the past three years. HBS grads landed jobs paying $138,346, down from $142,501 in 2012, while Stanford MBAs took jobs that on average paid $137,525, down from $140,459.
    In contrast, Wharton grads were paid a record $141,243 last year, nearly $4,000 more than Stanford MBAs. Dartmouth Tuck grads left the school’s Hanover, New Hampshire campus with average salary and bonus of $139,036—more than $1,5000 extra.
    Even worse, perhaps, average salaries and bonuses for the graduates of what are generally considered the two best business schools in the world are still significantly lower than they were five years ago in 2008.
    Though the Great Recession was already underway that year, most of the job offers were made to graduates before the market went bust so they reflected the pre-crash froth of an economy in a bubble. In 2008, Harvard MBAs reported record salary and bonus averaging $144,261. Last year, a full five years later, the pay was nearly $6,000 less. It’s a similar story for Stanford MBAs. The Class of 2008 received average salary and bonus of $140,771, also a record, but more than $3,000 less in 2013.
    Truth be told, Harvard and Stanford pay hit an artificial ceiling in 2008. The reset of the economy has essentially reset those pay levels. After all, in 2008 average salary and bonus at HBS went from $135,630 in 2007 to $144,261–a hefty jump in a single year.  At Stanford, it went from $134,654 to that $140,771.
    The latest compensation numbers are reported by the schools to U.S. News & World Report for its ranking of the best full-time MBA programs published earlier this week. Harvard and Stanford aren’t the only outliers. In fact, starting salary and bonus for MBAs fell at 12 of the Top 50 business schools.
    But how it is possible that HBS and Stanford no longer rule the pay roost? ”It’s simply the industry mix,” explains Maeve Richard,  assistant dean and director of Stanford’s Career Management Center. Where Stanford MBAs take their careers “has fluctuated significantly as students have gravitated from finance to technology over the last six years. Since 2007, the percent of students going into finance has gone from 38% to 26% (2013). That has affected the calculation of overall compensation since the cash bonus component tends to be high in finance.”
    Many of the tech startups that have been successful in recruiting more of Stanford’s graduating class keep base salaries and sign-on bonuses low, preferring to hand out stock and other back-end bonuses not calculated in more traditional salary-and-bonus metrics.
    “Over the same period (from 2007 to 2013), the percent of students going into technology has risen significantly from 12% in 2007 to 32% in the last graduating class. It’s important to note that the standards used by business schools and U.S. News for calculating compensation do not capture equity gains such as stock options, which is a potentially significant portion of compensation for those in the tech sector. “
    Kristen Fitzpatrick, who heads up the Career and Professional Development Office at Harvard Business School, attributes the decline to a changing mix of careers and interests as well. “Our students now are pursuing more options –-different options-–where they can have an impact sooner rather than later,” says Fitzpatrick. About18% of the class went into technology, up from 12% last year, and for many of these folks, that meant taking an equity stake in a new or recent venture, rather than salary.”
    Another 5% of the class went into the non-profit sector, up from 3% a year earlier. “They will definitely make their mark, but not win recognition for a high salary,” she says. “Beyond all this, the numbers of the class going into high-paying PE/VC firms are down – 10% this past year, down from 16% in 2012.”
    Of course, no one at Harvard or Stanford is crying over the loss of their high-pay crowns. Once you add in some of those back-end bonuses—not included in the U.S. News numbers—you get quite a different picture of compensation. Consider, for example, the 9% of the graduating class that went into private equity. Roughly 47% of that group reported “median other guaranteed compensation” of $135,000. That’s right, $135,000, in addition to the $150,000 median base salary and the $25,000 median signing bonus.
    Sure, it’s a relatively small portion of HBS’ graduating class that is getting that kind of cash. But if you threw those numbers into the averages, they would look quite different. For the 9% of the class, for example, that landed jobs in private equity,
    At the same time, average MBA salaries and bonuses since 2009 are up at 38 of the Top 50 schools, and unlike the downward trend at a few very elite schools, 20 of the Top 25 schools reported increases in pay last year. Even more telling, some of the increases are often greatest at MBA programs you would least expect. Think of schools like the University of Florida of the University of Washington.
    What’s happened is that the gap between the top of the market and the bottom has greatly diminished. Generally, MBAs from the big brand schools were already making so much money that there wasn’t much room for significant improvement. MBAs from the lower Top 25 schools, on the other hand, have seen far greater momentum.
    The Top 25 school whose MBAs have been the greatest beneficiary of this trend? Graduates of the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. Class of 2013 Foster MBAs pulled down average salary and bonus of $118,759, up 36.2% from the $87,177 average in 2009. It helps, of course, when the headquarters of such healthy companies as, Microsoft and Starbucks are in the neighborhood.  Similarly, graduates of Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business posted average salary and bonus of $124,148 last year, up 21.3% from the $102,372 they made in 2009.
    Put another way, HBS grads made $44,042 more than Foster MBAs in 2009. Last year, the gap between the graduates of these two school had shrunk to just $19,587. What’s occurring is a greater appreciation for the MBA degree in general and the belief that the training a person gets in a quality business school is highly desirable to an employer, whether the graduate is from an M7 school or another still highly ranked institution.
    Partially, this is a consequence of the fact that average salary and bonus is up only 3.6% at Stanford in the past five years, compared to increases of 25.3% at the University of Florida, or 18.6% at the University of Wisconsin, or 17.8% at the University of Maryland’s business school.
    Of course, MBAs from the truly elite business schools remain the most highly compensated graduates. As noted earlier, the school with the highest average salary and bonus in 2013 was the Wharton School, where MBAs accepted jobs with average salary and bonus of $141,243. They were followed by MBAs at Dartmouth, Harvard, Columbia, and Stanford MBAs were next 

    Average Salary & Bonus for the Top 50 Business 

    Schools in the U.S.

    2013 P&Q Rank & School 2013 Pay 2012 Pay 2011 Pay 2010 Pay 2009 Pay 5-Year Increase
       1. Harvard Business School $138,346 $142,501 $139,735 $131,759 $131,219 5.4%
       2. Stanford GSB $137,525 $140,459 $140,972 $131,949 $132,769 3.6%
       3. Chicago (Booth) $135,982 $135,653 $133,424 $126,779 $122,131 11.3%
       4. UPenn (Wharton) $141,243 $138,302 $137,311 $132,579 $123,741 14.1%
       5. Northwestern (Kellogg) $135,838 $134,001 $130,092 $123,996 $127,834 6.3%
       6. MIT (Sloan) $137,057 $139,035 $132,618 $125,905 $125,707 9.0%
       7. Columbia $137,654 $134,868 $134,233 $123,486 $123,150 11.8%
       8. Dartmouth (Tuck) $139,036 $138,713 $138,220 $128,013 $128,282 8.4%
       9. Duke (Fuqua) $135,101 $136,461 $128,666 $118,923 $120,474 12.1%
     10. UC-Berkeley (Haas) $134,078 $133,786 $129,776 $120,164 $121,124 10.7%
     11. Cornell (Johnson) $129,037 $127,368 $122,329 $112,039 $120,142 7.4%
     12. Michigan (Ross) $134,883 $134,360 $127,817 $116,201 $125,995 7.1%
     13. Virginia (Darden) $136,102 $131,906 $127,595 $119,278 $123,164 10.5%
     14. UCLA (Anderson) $123,353 $121,864 $119,109 $108,806 $08,286 13.9%
     15. New York (Stern) $131,975 $133,919 $128,888 $121,867 $124,112 6.3%
     16. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) $131,181 $128,101 $117,650 $106,066 $117,359 11.8%
     17. Yale $126,013 $121,631 $125,735 $113,226 $117,274 7.5%
     18. UNC (Kenan-Flagler) $123,526 $118,195 $101,904 $111,327 $113,105 9.2%
     19. Texas-Austin (McCombs) $123,868 $123,177 $118,410 $108,886 $113,768 8.9%
     20. Indiana (Kelley) $113,898 $108,807 $106,195 $101,206 $107,221 6.3%
     21. Emory (Goizueta) $124,148 $124,066 $121,050 $100,300 $102,372 21.3%
     22. Georgetown (McDonnough) $118,620 $114,744 $111,721 $103,676 $106,012 11.9%
     23. Washington (Olin) $110,533 $106,009 $99,354 $90,767 $97,326 13.6%
     24. Washington (Foster) $118,759 $110,768 $97,970 $91,593 $87,177 36.2%
     25. Vanderbilt (Owen) $113,170 $108,889 $102,694 $93,351 $102,852 10.0%
    2013 P&Q Rank & School 2013 Pay 2012 Pay 2011 Pay 2010 Pay 2009 Pay 5-Year Increase
    26. Ohio State (Fisher) $108,510 $102,162 $91,696 $91,628 $99,710 8.8%
    27. Rice (Jones) $115,693 $108,587 $108,175 $102,017 $100,975 14.6%
    28. USC (Marshall) $116,011 $109,841 $109,619 $101,810 $110,594 4.9%
    29. Maryland (Smith) $98,723 $101,604 $99,694 $91,269 $83,788 17.8%
    30. Wisconsin $109,293 $105,614 $105,333 $93,332 $92,152 18.6%
    31. Georgia Tech (Scheller) $108,055 $101,612 $97,376 $92,282 $92,298 17.1%
    32. Notre Dame (Mendoza) $115,296 $111,255 $104,763 $96,490 $99,604 15.8%
    33. Penn State (Smeal) $108,961 $91,563 $93,156 $95,480 $96,746 12.6%
    34. Texas A&M (Mays) $97,480 $104,723 $97,279 $91,246 $90,777 7.4%
    35. Iowa (Tippie) $95,058 $87,026 $94,003 $92,802 $85,463 11.2%
    36. Minnesota (Carlson) $117,972 $118,986 $110,349 $97,298 $106,264 11.0%
    37. Rochester (Simon) $92,262 $95,046 $81,117 $78,083 $82,808 11.4%
    38. Michigan State (Broad) $102,806 $96,579 $94,826 $92,359 $100,571 2.2%
    39. SMU (Cox) $100,748 $95,296 NA NA $92,329  9.1%
    40. Boston University $103,291 $101,204 $94,434 $90,157 $101,494 1.8%
    41. Purdue (Krannert) $100,609 $97,293 $89,720 $89,655 $98,980 1.6%
    42. Arizona State (Carey) $103,903 $100,984 $95,255 $92,101 $94,556 9.9%
    43. Brigham Young (Marriott) $110,216 $108,227 $103,369 $97,207 $98,500 11.9%
    44. Illinois-Urbana-Champagn $94,751 $94,331 $85,916 $95,276 $94,700 .1%
    45. Boston College $96,915 $102,423 $98,283 $91,282 $98,298 -1.4%
    46. Wake Forest (Babcock) $93,957 $100,897 $91,504 $88,390 $104,595 -10.2%
    47. UC-Irvine (Merage) $89,719 $80,809 $79,149 $76,981 $77,702 15.5%
    48. Florida (Hough) $84,281 $78,102 $78,522 $75,403 $67,288 25.3%
    49. Georgia (Terry) $86,096 $91,830 NA NA NA NA
    50. George Washington $87,198 $89,508 NA NA NA NA
    Source: Poets&Quants analysis from publicly available data from business schools

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    The Active Ingredients for Innovation

    This is obvious: organizations must innovate if they want to survive. Most businesses now have far more competitors than they did 10 or 20 years ago. What’s less obvious: How do we find those active ingredients necessary for sustaining continuous innovation?
    Teresa Amabile, director of research in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School, spoke with me for my Leadership: A Master Class about the key components for a creative competitive edge.
    “In order for any person to be creative, they must first have expertise in their domain - whether it’s art, mathematics, marketing, and so on. And that expertise depends on talent, which is something that is partly innate, but it also depends on education, work experience and professional development/on-the-job training. It also depends on mastering technical skills, and the ability to learn new things in an area.
    There’s another kind of skill that’s very important: creative thinking. That includes the ability to take new perspectives on problems, the ability to look at things in a way that other people aren’t looking at them, to go out on a limb, and to take risks in some way.
    This is actually related to both cognitive style and personality. Some people are naturally better able to do this, but it’s also something that you can learn. Creative thinking is a skill that you can build. You can enhance your ability to become more flexible, fluent and original in your thinking.
    Also, you have to be skilled at working hard. I know it sounds mundane, but it’s a really important ingredient of creativity. You have to be able to persevere, sometimes under extreme difficulty. That’s a skill set that you need in order to be creative in any area.
    You also need a certain set of psychological states. My original work looked at the connection between intrinsic motivation and creativity. That research discovered that people are most creative when they’re motivated primarily by the interest, enjoyment, satisfaction and challenge of the work itself, and not motivated primarily by external goals, external motivators or external pressures.”

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    Leading the Sustainability Insurgency

    If you want to hear a collective groan from a group of CSR directors, just mention filling out a customer CSR survey.

    Idealistic MBAs may imagine that being promoted to the post of “director of sustainability” means they will lead a company’s social and environmental agenda and make their business a force for good. Sustainability executives who actually hold the job tell a different story. Most spend their time communicating — cynics might say “selling” — their company’s responsibility story to external constituencies in order to stave off reputational risks. Compiling glossy social responsibility reports and making speeches to the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) converted is de rigueur. And then, of course, there are those surveys.
    Is it any wonder that sustainability managers are starting to rebel?
    The externally focused CSR function has run its course. Driven by need — or frustration — many sustainability managers are taking a new tack. Today’s successful sustainability executive is leading what can best be called a sustainability insurgencyinside their organization. It is an insurgency that breaks the bounds of job description, budget constraints and the limits of “moral influence.” Its goal is simple: to alter the way business is done in every function and unit of the company.

    By insurgency, I obviously don’t mean armed insurrection. An insurgency in this instance describes actions that, while not directly authorized by policy, are motivated by shared organizational and societal values.
    In my own organizations, and the companies I studied, I find that CSR executives are leading this insurgency by inciting functional managers and line employees to identify their own opportunities to improve corporate social and environmental performance with their range of influence. This drives CSR down to lower organizational levels, embedding it in the company culture and organizational processes, a practice I call acculturation.
    The goal is simple, yet revolutionary: to alter the way business is done in every function and unit of the company.
    Through acculturation, corporate sustainability moves from “personality-focused” to process driven — and the creation of organizational routines that stick.
    The typical chief sustainability officer (CSO) already has a list of literally hundreds of sustainability actions that need implementing in their company. They already know what to do, but it is not getting done because CSO don’t control the management tools — budget, staffing, incentives, etc. — needed to implement the changes. The tools lie in the functional areas of the company: HR, IT, Finance, Operations, Marketing and the like.
    The insurgent sustainability director therefore needs a strategy to identify who controls the needed tools and an approach that convinces the tool owner to support the company’s sustainability goals.
    Insurgents accomplish their goals by identifying like-minded allies in key functional positions and persuading them that it is in their own interest to take action by demonstrating the value in sustainability. Insurgents help managers find value by incorporating “social intelligence” into their individual business decisions. Social intelligence is an important corporate asset gained through relating with key stakeholder constituencies, a task that has historically been centralized in the CSR and public affairs functions.
    But in the next-generation sustainability insurgency, where companies fully embed social and environmental responsibility into the corporate DNA, social intelligence is accessed at all decision making levels. The organizational sustainability function becomes not a data-compiling, glossy-brochure-producing shop, but “Insurgency HQ,” sponsoring what are, in effect, “sustainability cells” throughout the organization.

    Social Intelligence as a Business Asset

    Since the beginning the CSO/CSR function has been externally focused, with the bulk of manager’s time spent communicating initiatives that burnish the company’s reputation, like grant support for local schools or steps toward reducing the company’s carbon footprint. Today, nearly every company in the Fortune 50 publishes an annual CSR Report, which has become the primary communication vehicle for most CSR departments. While this historic centralization may be efficient, the approach confines sustainability insights and bottles up the company’s accumulating social intelligence.
    Social intelligence is a valuable corporate asset. Knowledge of the Millennial Generation’s greater expectations about social responsibility, for instance, can be key in attracting, motivating and retaining the next generation of employees. 
    Understanding activist and shareholder demands for transparency in political contributions can avoid damaging revelations about your company’s lobbying policies. Insights into indigenous rights issues when making raw material sourcing decisions can help avoid potential conflicts, supply disruptions or reputational risks.
    Social intelligence is gained through relating with influential stakeholders, but most companies prefer to control these engagements by leaving them to the “professionals” in the CSR and corporate relations departments. 
    While this sense of “control” in unpredictable social engagements may be comforting, it is a fallacy in the age of Facebook, Twitter and iPhone videos. Insurgent CSR directors recognize that every employee has the power to impact a company’s reputation, an insight that requires them to broaden their approach to sustainability management.
    More importantly, however, is the recognition that social intelligence is most valuable when it enhances day-to-day business decision making. This is one of the key insights of insurgent sustainability directors. Inaction on sustainability initiatives often stems, not from a lack of interest among functional managers, but a failure by the CSO’s office to demonstrate the personal and business value of applying social intelligence to decision processes. Implementation often follows quickly after the value is understood.
    The Israeli bank Hapoalim, for example, traditionally recognized the standard industry practice of encouraging customers to maximize their home purchase by offering them the largest possible mortgage loan. However, employees and managers in touch with the community understood that big loans put customers at risk if personal or market conditions shifted. Bankruptcy is bad for both customers and business. With this social insight, instead of going straight for the jumbo loan, 
    Bank Hapoalim began providing potential borrowers financial literacy advice to help them choose the best suite of financial products, giving them the know-how and tools to manage their financial responsibilities successfully. The end result was financially savvy and loyal customers that offered Hapoalim more and better business on an ongoing basis.
    Hapoalim’s insight came through relating with the community and paying attention to the impacts of the company’s decisions on customers and society. In essence, they leveraged the social intelligence of their managers to improve company performance. This application of social intelligence is the goal of insurgent sustainability directors.
    Fortunately, it’s not a difficult challenge. As social animals, humans relate naturally in our daily lives. Most of us read the paper or get the latest Internet news feed about current affairs. We also talk with our neighbors, coworkers and the local shopkeepers, sharing our experiences, concerns and hopes for the future. Through this habit we obtain and share social intelligence, which we use to make decisions, like choosing the best neighborhood to live in, what car to drive, what school to attend and who to vote for.
    Unfortunately, while business managers are encouraged to use “commercial intelligence” in business decision making, most leave their “social intelligence” behind when they cross the threshold of the corporate headquarters.
    CSR insurgents want to see social intelligence inserted into the day-to-day calculus of managers across the organization. Because the list of potential CSR actions social intelligence might spur is limitless, CSR managers must help their fellow insurgents to prioritize. Maximizing the benefits of social intelligence requires that employee actions are not haphazard, but guided by an overarching sustainability vision and strategy. To achieve this, insurgent sustainability leadership is rethinking the role of the CSR Director’s Office.
    In the following installments of this series, I will first explain some other approaches that sustainability insurgents are using in corporate offices around the world. I will then lay out a comprehensive framework for developing your own insurgency strategy — including how to identify allies and how to structure your engagement with them. Finally, I will explore the concept of “sustainability dialects” that allow you to speak to allies about sustainability using terminology that resonates with their functional culture.
    Reproduced from MITSloan Management Review

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    Should You Trust Your Gut?

    We all have things we’re afraid of in both our personal and professional lives. Yet, sometimes facing those fears is exactly what we need to do to succeed. Listening to your gut instinct instead of sorting through all the facts might scare you, but does your gut know more than you think?

    Often, these gut instincts are more powerful and intelligent than the “common sense” espoused by our fears. After all, every great invention probably seemed like madness at the time, whether it was the electric light or Facebook. Listening to your gut might seem crazy, but even science confirms it could be the difference between excelling and stagnating in your career.
    Why You Should Trust Your Gut
    Most people think emotions have no place when it comes to making big, important business decisions. This, however, could not be further from the truth. Your gut instinct telling you to accept a new job or to pivot an important project can be much more effective than pouring over reams of data to determine the “smartest” choice.
    Plus, science itself shows emotional responses can actually be essential in making smart choices. Antonio R. Damasio, a neuroscientist at the University of Iowa College of Medicine,has been studying patients with damage to their prefrontal cortices. This is the area which processes secondary emotions. Damasio found patients with trauma in this section have a difficult time making decisions. While these people could logically weigh the options available, they were unable to make the intuitive jump needed to decide.
    According to Damasio, emotions and feelings help us filter through possibilities quickly. Emotions and past experience combine to form the gut instinct most of us don’t quite trust. Yet, for most people, decision making isn’t a cold and calculated approach. Today’s rapidly changing world leaves few of us the option to sit back with mountains of data before making a decision. Often, gut instincts can be the difference between a career-changing decision and maintaining the status quo.
    Success Stories From Those Who Faced Fears and Trusted Themselves
    Plenty of the most successful people faced down big fears and trusted their gut instinct in order to be successful. Here are some famous success stories where business leaders threw conventional wisdom out the window, trusted their gut, faced their fear of failure, and succeeded anyway:
    Henry Ford and Worker Compensation
    Henry Ford wasn’t just dreaming up new automobiles, he was also dreaming up new ways to keep workers engaged and happy. In 1941, the employee turnover rate in Ford’s factories was a staggering 370 percent.
    He knew he had to do something about it, so he shortened the work day from nine to eight hours and paid employees a higher wage. People thought he was crazy, and his actions flew in the face of conventional wisdom at the time. Following his gut reduced his employee turnover to 16 percent within one year, and led to the building of an empire.
    Take A Big Risk Like Oprah Winfrey
    Trusting her gut was what Oprah did when she left her world-famous talk show and started her own network. Things were rocky at first, but now are steadily improving. In fact, February 2014 was the most watched month for the network ever. It’s beginning to come into its “OWN,” and that’s because Oprah was willing to trust her gut and take a big risk.
    Wayne Gould and Giving it Away for Free
    Wayne Gould fell in love with Sudoku while in Tokyo and brought the puzzle craze to the U.S. He loved the puzzles so much he offered his self-generated Sudoku puzzles to publications for free. All he asked was for the more than 400 publications worldwide to promote his website, program, and books. Sudoku became a worldwide craze and Gould became very, very rich just by avoiding conventional wisdom, taking a chance at failure, and listening to his gut.
    Your gut is more powerful than you think, and this gut instinct might be the difference between professional success and failure. By facing your fears and listening to your gut, you can dream, disrupt, and achieve greatness.

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    Engaging Modi the U.S. way

    BJP creates an unnecessary mess about clean certificate from Wikileaks to Modi. 

    Does Modi need such certificate??

    This is a stooping down act, BJP should be more careful with its build Modi campaign

    Facing the possibility of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi assuming a leadership role at the national level, the State Department sanctioned meetings in 2006 at the level of the Mumbai Consul General. File photo
    PTIFacing the possibility of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi assuming a leadership role at the national level, the State Department sanctioned meetings in 2006 at the level of the Mumbai Consul General. File photo

    Confidential 2006 cable reveals complex calculations in the event of the Gujarat Chief Minister ‘making it to the national stage'; wants a clear message delivered on U.S. concerns over 'human rights and religious freedom'

    Having declined to engage with him at the ambassadorial level because of his role in the 2002 Gujarat communal violence and anti-Muslim pogrom, U.S. diplomats found themselves, in 2006, facing the possibility of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi assuming a leadership role at the national level. Conscious that the United States would have to deal with him at a later stage if he rose in stature on the national stage, the State Department evidently sanctioned meetings at the level of the Mumbai Consul General on the understanding that such interactions would also enable the U.S. to deliver a “clear message on human rights and religious freedom in Gujarat.”
    In a cable dated November 2, 2006 (84043: confidential), the Consul General in Mumbai, Michael S. Owen, underscored the importance of interacting with Mr. Modi “whose B1/B2 visa we revoked in 2005, at the level of the Consul General” over the Chief Minister's role in the 2002 communal violence. Such interaction, Mr. Owen said, “will also shield us from accusations of opportunism from the BJP that would invariably arise if we ignored Modi now but sought a dialogue with him in the likely event that he makes it to the national stage.”
    On the basis of discussions with leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Mumbai Consulate concluded that Mr. Modi had set his sights on national politics. Interestingly, many in the BJP leadership believed that the Gujarat Chief Minister was the “only person of the BJP's many aspiring leaders who can reinvigorate the party and stop its further slide into oblivion.”
    While there was no consensus on Mr. Modi's chances for success at the national level, some in Delhi and Gujarat strongly felt that his rise was inevitable, Mr. Owen added.
    The Mumbai Consulate's 2,850-word assessment, which was cleared by the New Delhi Embassy before being cabled to the State Department, was carefully considered, nuanced, and telling. The disquisition could well form the core of an M.A. thesis in politics:
    “If Modi does eventually get a national leadership role in the BJP in the foreseeable future, the USG [United States Government] will be obliged to decide how it wants to deal with a figure of national prominence whose B1/B2 we revoked. We believe it would dilute our influence to avoid Modi completely. If we waited to engage Modi after he attains national stature within India's largest and most important opposition party, many in the BJP would likely view this as an opportunistic move and only deepen the suspicions cultivated by some BJP leaders in western India since the visa revocation.
    “Since the riots of 2002, we have declined to engage Modi at the Ambassadorial level, but Mumbai Consul Generals have routinely sought meetings with Modi whenever they visited Ahmedabad. We will continue to seek such meetings at the level of the CG to emphasize that the USG does not have a formal no-contact policy… and to demonstrate to the BJP that we are interested in cultivating relationships with the party while it is in the opposition. Direct encounters with Modi will also enable us to deliver a clear message regarding USG concerns for the state of human rights and religious freedom in Gujarat.”
    On Mr. Modi's strengths as Chief Minister that could aid his national leadership ambitions, Mr. Owen's analysis was: “Modi has successfully branded himself as a non-corrupt, effective administrator, as a facilitator of business in a state with a deep commercial culture, and as a no-nonsense, law-and-order politician who looks after the interests of the Hindu majority. Modi's backers in the BJP now hope to convince the party leadership that he can use these positive traits to attract voters throughout India. Some BJP leaders believe, or hope, that voters will forget or forgive Modi's role in the 2002 bloodshed, once they learn to appreciate his other qualities.”

    Not ‘if' but ‘when’

    The Consul General quoted Harin Pathak, a BJP Member of Parliament from Gujarat, as saying that the BJP national leadership, and particularly former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, were convinced that only Mr. Modi could rejuvenate the party. Ram Madhav of the RSS also voiced similar views, “going so far as to say that Modi's ascendancy is not a question of if but when, and the USG must start considering now how it will deal with Modi when he becomes head of the BJP and leads the party's electoral campaign in the national elections scheduled for 2009.”

    Mr. Owen also drew attention to what he saw as divergence between Mr. Modi's public image and his private actions. “In public appearances, Modi can be charming and likeable. By all accounts, however, he is an insular, distrustful person who rules with a small group of advisors. This inner circle acts as a buffer between the Chief Minister and his cabinet and party. He reigns more by fear and intimidation than by inclusiveness and consensus, and is rude, condescending and often derogatory to even high level party officials. He hoards power and often leaves his ministers in the cold when making decisions that affect their portfolios.”

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    How Companies Can Attract the Best College Talent

    Over the past year, my firm Collegefeed met with more than 300 companies to understand their college hiring strategies and tactics — from employers with large university hiring infrastructures to recently funded start-ups looking to hire fresh grads, interns, and young alum.
    Not surprisingly, 84% understand that college hiring is important. Yet almost all agree that it’s really hard to attract good college talent. In fact, 92% believe they have a “brand problem” when it comes to their efforts; this problem is often expressed as the fact that “not everyone can be an employer like Facebook.” In other words, large, well-established companies feel they simply can’t be the newest thing out there generating buzz with Millennials.
    To understand more about this underlying “brand problem,” and what employers can do about it, we polled 15,000 Millennials — 60 percent still in college and 40 percent recent graduates.* We asked them:
    1. What are the top three companies you want to work for?
    2. What are the top three things you look for when considering an employer?
    3. How do you generally discover companies and create an impression about them (social media, product usage, campus events, other ways)?
    Here’s how they responded:
    Question 1:
    Top 50 Companies to Work For Chart
    Respondents had to type in and enter a name here, not select from a displayed list, which eliminates the pagination bias. That said, the top 10 in this list are not surprising at all: They are well-known brands that frequently appear in the “best places to work” lists.
    But what’s noteworthy is the absence of well-known consumer brands such as Coca Cola. It’s also interesting that companies like and Qualcomm, which most college students don’t use, appear so high.
    Question 2:
    What Do You Look for in Employers Chart
    Given the first chart, you might expect things like “company mission” or “market leadership” to be on top. However “people and culture fit” is number one, followed by “career potential.” We expected “compensation” to be within the top five, but were somewhat surprised that it was only ranked fourth.
    This data leaves one key takeaway: It is imperative to focus on communicating your culture and career growth to potential employees. The two fundamental questions that young job seekers ask, and that companies need to answer are: “What is it like to work there?” and “What kind of growth can I expect?”
    Question 3:
    These results blew us away. Most companies (almost 100% of the large ones we spoke to) say that they have an on-campus recruiting plan and that is where they focus their sourcing and branding efforts. Many also have dedicated organizations to build relationships on campus. According to a 2013 NACE study, 98.1% of companies they polled believe that on-campus fairs are the number one avenue for them to brand themselves with students.
    However, this may not be the case. “Friends” showed up as the number one way Millennials hear about companies, according to our research, followed by job boards. You might also expect to see “Use their products every day” among the top five, but it showed up sixth.
    Clearly, branding — how a company is perceived year round, across media types — is more important than just being present on campus. If college students like something, they tell their friends on social media or face-to-face.
    So whether you sell ads, insurance, food, or routers, building a brand among college grads is about getting your story out. Sure, some companies have the basic advantage of “being among the top products students use daily” or “building the next big mobile app,” but you can also attract great talent by telling your story right – using language that Millennials relate to at places they frequent.
    Here are the four most critical things you should do to improve your brand and attract the best college talent:
    1. Get Your Best People to Engage With Students
    Even if you are a company whose products never really get used directly by end users (think, Qualcomm, Ciena, Cisco) you can still show off your employees and organizational culture to send a simple but powerful message to students: “If you come work for us, you will get to work with awesome people like these.”
    So if you go to campus, bring your best recent college hires along. Showcase the work interns, young alums, and others have done, and highlight the responsibilities they have been given. If scheduling the best people or alums is hard, or if you find the attendance of physical events is low, host virtual info sessions, another easy and scalable way to reach lots of great college talent.
    In addition, some leading companies we spoke to set quarterly goals for managers to hire and spend time with potential hires from colleges, whether it’s attending career fairs or answering questions on Quora or blogging about their experiences. And this leads to another important thing you can do to attract college talent.
    2. Go Where Students Are (and They’re Often Not at College Fairs)
    Students are online all the time. Invest in a visually appealing, content rich site where students can go to and learn about your company. If you can, personalize the site to showcase the right alums, intern experiences, and the basic messages you want to deliver to potential hires. Done right, a good “brand page” can have the same effect as a great conversation at a career fair — it’s the story of your mission, your culture and why they should join you.
    Next, use social media smartly. College students spend two to four hours daily on sites like Facebook and Twitter. If you can target them based on specific interests, who they follow, and what they are searching for or talking about, real-time engagement can be quite powerful. Depending on the type of talent you are targeting, sites like Quora and other more technical ones like Hacker News can be good places to establish your brand. Similarly, if targeting a broader audience, you can go far by using humor to engage students in entertainment properties like Reddit, BuzzFeed, and CollegeHumor — people share what they find funny.
    One caveat across social media in general: most online communities don’t like being marketed to, so be authentic, add value to users, and be cautious of blatant self-promotion.
    3. Make the Application Process Easy and Engaging
    A complicated, multiple-page application form isn’t going to cut it anymore. For Millennials (and anyone else, really), the process should be easy and frictionless.
    In addition, you can’t always wait for students to come to you. After connecting with a student at a career fair or online, it’s important to go back to them and encourage them to apply when they are ready.
    Another engagement strategy leading companies have found is to pique student’s interests by holding online contests and activities that paint an interesting picture of their brand. Google,Microsoft and several other companies do this programmatically.
    4. Prioritize Meaning Over Swag
    Too many companies are focused on giving away swag, under the perception that free stuff gets eyeballs. But Millennials are more interested in identifying with your mission than they are in a free T-shirt. If you want their mindshare you have to go beyond swag, and that concept should extend beyond career fairs to everything they read and hear about you.
    Are you securing people’s futures? Are you making the world green? Are you making life simpler for small and medium businesses? Whatever you do, you should be able to get the message out online — in a 20 or 30 second video. The U.S. Army’s age-old recruiting video is still a great example – it really makes you want to apply.
    If you get meaning right, it won’t just be you doing the talking. Social referrals have incredible power in the college context, and we’re not talking about the “refer a friend, get $5” model. It comes down to whether a student genuinely likes who you are, what you do, and what you stand for.
    *Of the responses received, 65 percent are in college and 35 percent recently graduated. 60 percent were male and 40 percent female. 50 percent were tech-oriented majors and 50 percent non-tech.

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    How to Give a Killer Presentation

    Video has obvious uses for many speakers. In a TED Talk about the intelligence of crows, for instance, the scientist showed a clip of a crow bending a hook to fish a piece of food out of a tube—essentially creating a tool. It illustrated his point far better than anything he could have said.

    Used well, video can be very effective, but there are common mistakes that should be avoided. A clip needs to be short—if it’s more than 60 seconds, you risk losing people. Don’t use videos—particularly corporate ones—that sound self-promotional or like infomercials; people are conditioned to tune those out. Anything with a soundtrack can be dangerously off-putting. And whatever you do, don’t show a clip of yourself being interviewed on, say, CNN. I’ve seen speakers do this, and it’s a really bad idea—no one wants to go along with you on your ego trip. The people in your audience are already listening to you live; why would they want to simultaneously watch your talking-head clip on a screen?
    Putting It Together
    We start helping speakers prepare their talks six months (or more) in advance so that they’ll have plenty of time to practice. We want people’s talks to be in final form at least a month before the event. The more practice they can do in the final weeks, the better off they’ll be. Ideally, they’ll practice the talk on their own and in front of an audience.
    The tricky part about rehearsing a presentation in front of other people is that they will feel obligated to offer feedback and constructive criticism. Often the feedback from different people will vary or directly conflict. This can be confusing or even paralyzing, which is why it’s important to be choosy about the people you use as a test audience, and whom you invite to offer feedback. In general, the more experience a person has as a presenter, the better the criticism he or she can offer.
    I learned many of these lessons myself in 2011. My colleague Bruno Giussani, who curates our TEDGlobal event, pointed out that although I’d worked at TED for nine years, served as the emcee at our conferences, and introduced many of the speakers, I’d never actually given a TED Talk myself. So he invited me to give one, and I accepted.
    It was more stressful than I’d expected. Even though I spend time helping others frame their stories, framing my own in a way that felt compelling was difficult. I decided to memorize my presentation, which was about how web video powers global innovation, and that was really hard: Even though I was putting in a lot of hours, and getting sound advice from my colleagues, I definitely hit a point where I didn’t quite have it down and began to doubt I ever would. I really thought I might bomb. I was nervous right up until the moment I took the stage. But it ended up going fine. It’s definitely not one of the all-time great TED Talks, but it got a positive reaction—and I survived the stress of going through it.
    Ultimately I learned firsthand what our speakers have been discovering for three decades: Presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance, not speaking style or multimedia pyrotechnics. It’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. If you have something to say, you can build a great talk. But if the central theme isn’t there, you’re better off not speaking. Decline the invitation. Go back to work, and wait until you have a compelling idea that’s really worth sharing.
    The single most important thing to remember is that there is no one good way to do a talk. The most memorable talks offer something fresh, something no one has seen before. The worst ones are those that feel formulaic. So do not on any account try to emulate every piece of advice I’ve offered here. Take the bulk of it on board, sure. But make the talk your own. You know what’s distinctive about you and your idea. Play to your strengths and give a talk that is truly authentic to you.
    The biggest problem I see in first drafts of presentations is that they try to cover too much ground. You can’t summarize an entire career in a single talk. If you try to cram in everything you know, you won’t have time to include key details, and your talk will disappear into abstract language that may make sense if your listeners are familiar with the subject matter but will be completely opaque if they’re new to it. You need specific examples to flesh out your ideas. So limit the scope of your talk to that which can be explained, and brought to life with examples, in the available time. Much of the early feedback we give aims to correct the impulse to sweep too broadly. Instead, go deeper. Give more detail. Don’t tell us about your entire field of study—tell us about your unique contribution.
    Of course, it can be just as damaging to overexplain or painstakingly draw out the implications of a talk. And there the remedy is different: Remember that the people in the audience are intelligent. Let them figure some things out for themselves. Let them draw their own conclusions.
    Many of the best talks have a narrative structure that loosely follows a detective story. The speaker starts out by presenting a problem and then describes the search for a solution. There’s an “aha” moment, and the audience’s perspective shifts in a meaningful way.
    If a talk fails, it’s almost always because the speaker didn’t frame it correctly, misjudged the audience’s level of interest, or neglected to tell a story. Even if the topic is important, random pontification without narrative is always deeply unsatisfying. There’s no progression, and you don’t feel that you’re learning.
    I was at an energy conference recently where two people—a city mayor and a former governor—gave back-to-back talks. The mayor’s talk was essentially a list of impressive projects his city had undertaken. It came off as boasting, like a report card or an advertisement for his reelection. It quickly got boring. When the governor spoke, she didn’t list achievements; instead, she shared an idea. Yes, she recounted anecdotes from her time in office, but the idea was central—and the stories explanatory or illustrative (and also funny). It was so much more interesting. The mayor’s underlying point seemed to be how great he was, while the governor’s message was “Here’s a compelling idea that would benefit us all.”
    As a general rule, people are not very interested in talks about organizations or institutions (unless they’re members of them). Ideas and stories fascinate us; organizations bore us—they’re much harder to relate to. (Businesspeople especially take note: Don’t boast about your company; rather, tell us about the problem you’re solving.)
    Plan Your Delivery
    Once you’ve got the framing down, it’s time to focus on your delivery. There are three main ways to deliver a talk. You can read it directly off a script or a teleprompter. You can develop a set of bullet points that map out what you’re going to say in each section rather than scripting the whole thing word for word. Or you can memorize your talk, which entails rehearsing it to the point where you internalize every word—verbatim.
    My advice: Don’t read it, and don’t use a teleprompter. It’s usually just too distancing—people will know you’re reading. And as soon as they sense it, the way they receive your talk will shift. Suddenly your intimate connection evaporates, and everything feels a lot more formal. We generally outlaw reading approaches of any kind at TED, though we made an exception a few years ago for a man who insisted on using a monitor. We set up a screen at the back of the auditorium, in the hope that the audience wouldn’t notice it. At first he spoke naturally. But soon he stiffened up, and you could see this horrible sinking feeling pass through the audience as people realized, “Oh, no, he’s reading to us!” The words were great, but the talk got poor ratings.
    Many of our best and most popular TED Talks have been memorized word for word. If you’re giving an important talk and you have the time to do this, it’s the best way to go. But don’t underestimate the work involved. One of our most memorable speakers was Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain researcher who had suffered a stroke. She talked about what she learned during the eight years it took her to recover. After crafting her story and undertaking many hours of solo practice, she rehearsed her talk dozens of times in front of an audience to be sure she had it down.
    Obviously, not every presentation is worth that kind of investment of time. But if you do decide to memorize your talk, be aware that there’s a predictable arc to the learning curve. Most people go through what I call the “valley of awkwardness,” where they haven’t quite memorized the talk. If they give the talk while stuck in that valley, the audience will sense it. Their words will sound recited, or there will be painful moments where they stare into the middle distance, or cast their eyes upward, as they struggle to remember their lines. This creates distance between the speaker and the audience.
    Getting past this point is simple, fortunately. It’s just a matter of rehearsing enough times that the flow of words becomes second nature. Then you can focus on delivering the talk with meaning and authenticity. Don’t worry—you’ll get there.
    But if you don’t have time to learn a speech thoroughly and get past that awkward valley, don’t try. Go with bullet points on note cards. As long as you know what you want to say for each one, you’ll be fine. Focus on remembering the transitions from one bullet point to the next.
    Also pay attention to your tone. Some speakers may want to come across as authoritative or wise or powerful or passionate, but it’s usually much better to just sound conversational. Don’t force it. Don’t orate. Just be you.
    If a successful talk is a journey, make sure you don’t start to annoy your travel companions along the way. Some speakers project too much ego. They sound condescending or full of themselves, and the audience shuts down. Don’t let that happen.
    Develop Stage Presence
    For inexperienced speakers, the physical act of being onstage can be the most difficult part of giving a presentation—but people tend to overestimate its importance. Getting the words, story, and substance right is a much bigger determinant of success or failure than how you stand or whether you’re visibly nervous. And when it comes to stage presence, a little coaching can go a long way.
    The biggest mistake we see in early rehearsals is that people move their bodies too much. They sway from side to side, or shift their weight from one leg to the other. People do this naturally when they’re nervous, but it’s distracting and makes the speaker seem weak. Simply getting a person to keep his or her lower body motionless can dramatically improve stage presence. There are some people who are able to walk around a stage during a presentation, and that’s fine if it comes naturally. But the vast majority are better off standing still and relying on hand gestures for emphasis.
    Perhaps the most important physical act onstage is making eye contact. Find five or six friendly-looking people in different parts of the audience and look them in the eye as you speak. Think of them as friends you haven’t seen in a year, whom you’re bringing up to date on your work. That eye contact is incredibly powerful, and it will do more than anything else to help your talk land. Even if you don’t have time to prepare fully and have to read from a script, looking up and making eye contact will make a huge difference.
    Another big hurdle for inexperienced speakers is nervousness—both in advance of the talk and while they’re onstage. People deal with this in different ways. Many speakers stay out in the audience until the moment they go on; this can work well, because keeping your mind engaged in the earlier speakers can distract you and limit nervousness. Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School professor who studies how certain body poses can affect power, utilized one of the more unusual preparation techniques I’ve seen. She recommends that people spend time before a talk striding around, standing tall, and extending their bodies; these poses make you feel more powerful. It’s what she did before going onstage, and she delivered a phenomenal talk. But I think the single best advice is simply to breathe deeply before you go onstage. It works.
    In general, people worry too much about nervousness. Nerves are not a disaster. The audienceexpects you to be nervous. It’s a natural body response that can actually improve your performance: It gives you energy to perform and keeps your mind sharp. Just keep breathing, and you’ll be fine.
    Acknowledging nervousness can also create engagement. Showing your vulnerability, whether through nerves or tone of voice, is one of the most powerful ways to win over an audience, provided it is authentic. Susan Cain, who wrote a book about introverts and spoke at our 2012 conference, was terrified about giving her talk. You could feel her fragility onstage, and it created this dynamic where the audience was rooting for her—everybody wanted to hug her afterward. The fact that we knew she was fighting to keep herself up there made it beautiful, and it was the most popular talk that year.
    Plan the Multimedia
    With so much technology at our disposal, it may feel almost mandatory to use, at a minimum, presentation slides. By now most people have heard the advice about PowerPoint: Keep it simple; don’t use a slide deck as a substitute for notes (by, say, listing the bullet points you’ll discuss—those are best put on note cards); and don’t repeat out loud words that are on the slide. Not only is reciting slides a variation of the teleprompter problem—“Oh, no, she’s reading to us, too!”—but information is interesting only once, and hearing and seeing the same words feels repetitive. That advice may seem universal by now, but go into any company and you’ll see presenters violating it every day.
    Many of the best TED speakers don’t use slides at all, and many talks don’t require them. If you have photographs or illustrations that make the topic come alive, then yes, show them. If not, consider doing without, at least for some parts of the presentation. And if you’re going to use slides, it’s worth exploring alternatives to PowerPoint. For instance, TED has invested in the company Prezi, which makes presentation software that offers a camera’s-eye view of a two-dimensional landscape. Instead of a flat sequence of images, you can move around the landscape and zoom in to it if need be. Used properly, such techniques can dramatically boost the visual punch of a talk and enhance its meaning.
    Artists, architects, photographers, and designers have the best opportunity to use visuals. Slides can help frame and pace a talk and help speakers avoid getting lost in jargon or overly intellectual language. (Art can be hard to talk about—better to experience it visually.) I’ve seen great presentations in which the artist or designer put slides on an automatic timer so that the image changed every 15 seconds. I’ve also seen presenters give a talk accompanied by video, speaking along to it. That can help sustain momentum. The industrial designer Ross Lovegrove’s highly visual TED Talk, for instance, used this technique to bring the audience along on a remarkable creative journey.
    Another approach creative types might consider is to build silence into their talks, and just let the work speak for itself. The kinetic sculptor Reuben Margolin used that approach to powerful effect. The idea is not to think “I’m giving a talk.” Instead, think “I want to give this audience a powerful experience of my work.” The single worst thing artists and architects can do is to retreat into abstract or conceptual language.

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  • 03/19/14--02:17: Disrupting the Diploma 03-19

  • Disrupting the Diploma

    How updating the communication device known as a “diploma” will help students acquire the right skills and help companies hire the right talent.
    Every year, millions of Americans embark on the quest to earn a four-year college degree. Many motives propel them. They go to acquire skills and knowledge from experts in their fields. They go, more generally, to learn how to learn, and to broaden their minds in ways that will help them function as autonomous adults participating fully in the civic life of their country. They go to find friends and mentors. They go because they know that in today’s highly competitive job market, many employers won’t even grant them an interview for a position as a receptionist or a file clerk unless they have a four-year-degree.
    College marketing literature rarely expresses this last fact so bluntly. Instead, it tends to emphasize vibrant communities of scholarship and learning, stimulating atmospheres of intellectual inquiry, enduring commitments to academic excellence.
    Now, however, there are an expanding number of ways to acquire specific skills and knowledge faster and less expensively than one can manage through a traditional four-year degree program. There are increasing opportunities and venues where people can seek mentorship and develop strategic alliances.
    The sole unique feature of a few thousand U.S. institutions of higher learning is their ability to grant four-year degrees. And because a diploma from a four-year program is the mechanism a majority of employers use to screen potential hires, it’s both increasingly valuable and increasingly costly to obtain.
    These days, getting that sheepskin from a top-flight university can cost approximately $200,000 in tuition alone. And while many schools have begun to steeply discount their advertised tuitions as they scramble to attract new students in the current market, thousands of graduates continue to emerge from college saddled with six-figure debts. In 2010, the nation’s collective student loan debt exceeded its collective credit card debt for the first time in history.
    To help temper the high cost of college, a number of high-tech start-ups have been making impressive strides in the realm of online instruction. But if we truly want to retool higher education for the 21 century in the most forward-thinking way possible, we shouldn’t confine our retooling efforts to instruction alone.
    In the same way that trailblazers like Coursera and Udacity are making instruction faster, cheaper, and more effective, we should also make certification faster, cheaper, and more effective too.
    To do this, we need to apply new technologies to the primary tool of traditional certification, the diploma. We need to take what now exists as a dumb, static document and turn it into a richer, updateable, more connected record of a person’s skills, expertise, and experience. And then we need to take that record and make it part of a fully networked certification platform.
    Once we make this leap, certification can play a more active role in helping the higher education system clearly convey to students what skills and competencies they should pursue if their primary objective is to optimize their economic futures.
    Granted, college isn’t just for training young people for the world of work. But if we truly believe that a college education is the best path toward general prosperity and personal fulfillment, we need to do more to ensure that our college graduates are economically viable.
    One way to accomplish this is to establish certification as a platform in which the roles and interests of key players in the higher education system – students, educators, and employers – are explicitly articulated and tightly integrated. Functioning as a feedback loop, certification can then help achieve a goal that is at least as crucial as controlling tuition costs: Helping individuals stay employable and competitive in a professional landscape where the desired skills and competencies change rapidly.

    Diplomas: Time for an Upgrade

    We sometimes call a diploma a “sheepskin.” Why? Because until around a hundred years ago, that’s what most of them were made from. Then, paper diplomas began to appear. After centuries of usage, that was the big upgrade to this technology. And there really haven’t been any since.
    Typically, we don’t think of diplomas as a “technology.” But they are. Economists often speak of their “signalling” value. Equipped with a diploma, a job-seeker broadcasts numerous positive attributes to potential employers: Perseverance, self-governance, competence in at least one area.
    Employers, in turn, use diplomas as screening mechanisms. If you don't have a diploma, you don't get an interview. According to the New York Times, even employers looking for receptionists and file clerks require a bachelor’s degree these days. “When you get 800 résumés for every job ad, you need to weed them out somehow,” an executive recruiter told the newspaper.
    So a diploma is essentially a communications device that signals a person’s readiness for certain jobs.
    But unfortunately it’s a dumb, static communication device with roots in the 12 century.
    That needs to change.
    At my alma mater, Stanford University, a bachelor’s degree currently costs more than $160,000 in tuition alone. Less than ten miles from Stanford, however, another school, Foothill College, also issues degrees. There, you can get a two-year associate's degree for around $2,790, or less than 2 percent of what you’d pay for a Stanford degree.
    The problem is if the baseline requirement to obtain a job interview, even for positions like “receptionist” and “file clerk,” is a four-year bachelor’s degree, then in practical terms an associate’s degree is not even worth 2 percent of a Stanford degree. It’s worth zero.
    So despite the fact that colleges and other education providers have established a variety of alternative programs and degree options, at a variety of different price points, employers have simply placed more and more emphasis on traditional four-year degrees.
    Not that this means employers are satisfied with the system.
    In March 2013, the radio show Marketplace teamed up with The Chronicle of Higher Education and asked around 700 employers to grade the nation’s colleges and universities on how well they were employing their graduates for the workplace.
    53 percent of them said they “had trouble finding recent graduates qualified to fill positions at their company or organization.” 28 percent said colleges did only a “fair job” of producing successful employees. They also said that more than grades, major, or what school a person attended, “employers viewed an internship as the single most important credential for recent grads.”
    At first glance, this perspective is baffling. Employers insist that college degrees are a prerequisite for employment, even for low-skilled clerical positions. And yet what they find most telling is not how well people do in four-year-degree programs, but how well they do in settings that approximate workplaces.
    Thus, there’s actually reason for hope here. The more employers realize that four-year degrees don’t necessarily guarantee the attributes they value most, the more likely they’ll be to demand a system that does.

    Design Specs for a Smarter Diploma

    We spend years of our lives working to obtain a diploma. We invest substantial capital in it. And yet compared to the nuanced portraits of our aptitudes and attitudes that our teachers presented to our parents on our first-grade report cards, a college diploma is an opaque and unrevealing document.
    If we were building a higher education system from scratch, would our records of assessment and certification look anything like today’s diplomas? Ask a hundred people to build a better diploma, and you’ll probably end up with a hundred different solutions. None, however, would look like a traditional sheepskin.
    In my opinion, these are the characteristics a 21 century diploma should have:
    • It should accommodate a completely unbundled approach to education, allowing students to easily apply credits obtained from a wide range of sources, including internships, peer to peer learning, online classes, and more, to the same certification.
    • It should be dynamic and upgradeable, so individuals can add new credentials to it as they pursue new goals and educational opportunities and so that the underlying system itself is improvable.
    • It should help reduce the costs of higher education and increase overall value.
    • It should allow a person to convey the full scope of his or her skills and expertise with greater comprehensiveness and nuance, in part to enable better matching with jobs.
    • It should be machine-readable and discoverable, so employers can easily evaluate it in numerous ways as part of a larger “certification platform”
    Two hundred years ago, what you learned about Latin, the Bible, and mathematics when you were 21 was just as likely to be true when you turned 70. So you spent four straight years in college lecture halls and libraries, you acquired skills and knowledge that would serve you for life, and then you were done.
    Now, in today’s fast-changing world, it makes more sense to learn provisionally, opportunistically, as new challenges and necessities arise.
    To make this style of learning more practical, we need certification for it that employers will grow to trust and value even more than they do traditional bachelor’s degrees because the efficacy will be so much better.
    Imagine an online document that’s iterative like a LinkedIn profile (and might even be part of the LinkedIn profile), but is administered by some master service that verifies the authenticity of its components. While you’d be the creator and primary keeper of this profile, you wouldn’t actually be able to add certifications yourself. Instead, this master service would do so, verifying information with the certification issuers, at your request, after you successfully completed a given curriculum.
    Over time, this dynamic, networked diploma will contain an increasing number of icons or badges symbolizing specific certifications. It could also link to transcripts, test scores, and work examples from these curricula, and even evaluations from instructors, classmates, internship supervisors, and others who have interacted with you in your educational pursuits.
    Ultimately the various certificates you earn could be bundled into higher-value certifications. If you earn five certificates in the realm of computer science, you might receive an icon or badge that symbolizes this higher level of experience and expertise. In this way, you could eventually assemble portfolios that reflect a similar breadth of experiences that you get when you pursue a traditional four-year degree.
    For students, the more modularized approach to instruction embodied in such diplomas would have immediate benefits. Traditional four-year degrees maximize tuition costs, because they only award certification for lengthy courses of study that require substantial capital investments. A more modularized system would move beyond this all-or-nothing approach. Instead of taking general education classes for two years and then dropping out and ending up with little to show for their efforts except two years of debt, students could make smaller investments -- in money and time -- to acquire specific credentials.
    This approach would also encourage students to think more strategically about specific learning paths to pursue, and make it easier to integrate internships into their education. Instead of randomly choosing courses to fulfill “general education” and “support courses” requirements, a student on a more modularized path might focus on, say, the six courses necessary to earn a certificate in “Workplace Communication Skills” or “The Future of Space Exploration.” And then complete an associated internship before moving on to subsequent certificate programs.
    At LinkedIn, we’ve developed a broad “Skills & Expertise” taxonomy that our members use to describe their attributes, and which then serve as the basis for endorsements from colleagues. For example, some of my skills include “Entrepreneurship,” “Project Management,” and “Viral Marketing.” In a more outsourced form of Apple University, the in-house program that Apple now uses to teach its executives to think more like Steve Jobs, companies could use this taxonomy to publicize the skills and experiences they value most, and education providers could develop curricula that leads to certification in these areas.
    For champions of a traditional liberal arts education, encouraging our nation’s youth to major in “Project Management for Yahoo!” may sound like a higher education inferno even Dante himself couldn’t stomach.
    But the national mandate to produce more college graduates -- as expressed by President Obama and many others -- doesn’t arise from our imminent shortage of Comp Lit majors. It arises from our desire to give more people access to training that can put them on a path to economic security, and to help them develop the skills that can keep America competitive on a global level.
    Diplomas that get updated over time as new certificates are added, and which exist as part of larger certification platform, could transform the ways that employers use diplomas. Traditionally, bachelor’s degrees have offered an easy way to winnow a pile of a thousand resumes into a pile of twenty resumes -- but they’re also a very limited filter. Because the specific information they codify about a person is minimal, they’re more far more useful for weeding than finding.
    As certification gets more granular, however, and as diplomas contain more information and exist as part of a larger, networked ecosystem, new possibilities emerge. Want to find ten potential employees who have amassed at least three certificates related to brand management and have at least five positive endorsements from their instructors? A 21 century diploma should allow you to do that.

    Certification as a Platform

    One of the main reasons the college degree persists as a technology is because it doesn’t need a user manual. We know what a traditional college degree signifies in general. We’re familiar with many of its nuances. A degree in Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics from CalTech means one thing. A degree in Sculpture from Bennington means something else.
    How, in a landscape of infinite certificates, will we determine which ones to value and trust? This is the problem that has always plagued alternate forms of certification, and it will only intensify as digital instruction becomes more full-featured and effective.
    One organization trying to bring a sense of order to the imminent chaos is Mozilla, the non-profit that oversees the development of the open-source web browser, Firefox, and where I’m on the Board of Directors. In 2011, Mozilla introduced Open Badges, an initiative to develop free software and an open technical standard that any organization or individual can use to issue verified digital badges that symbolize a skill or achievement attained through either online or offline study or participation in some activity.
    For example, you might earn a badge for completing a six-week “Introduction to Statistics” course, or for consistently making high-value contributions to an online message board where math students seek help on their homework.
    As a person earns badges from multiple sources, they’re all stored in a private repository called the Mozilla Backpack. There, you can arrange your badges into themed groups and choose which ones to share on social networks and other sites. Each badge comes with a great deal of metadata attached to it, including information about the issuer, what the badge signifies, the criteria used to assess your achievements, and on some occasions, links to the work you did in pursuit of the badge.
    Already, Peer to Peer University, the YMCA of Greater New York, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Disney-Pixar, to name just a few, have issued or are developing badges using Mozilla’s technical standard. Mozilla is a good initial step, but there are many attributes that are important – ranging from employer trust to persistent storage of the certification if the source goes away – that still need to be worked out.
    Creating a shared standard for attaching machine-readable information to certifications is an important first step for getting employer buy-in. Another key step will involve aggregating this data. If millions of people start storing their certification information in a common repository like LinkedIn, certification will evolve from a product (i.e., a traditional diploma) into a platform that can be easily searched and analyzed.
    With certification as a platform, not just a product, the feedback loops between all parties will tighten. Education providers will have more capacity to track what employers are looking for and adjust their curricula accordingly. Students will have more explicit guideposts to follow, so they can invest their tuition dollars and time into developing skills that will truly increase their chances of transitioning successfully to the workforce. Employers will be able to use certification as a finding mechanism, not just a screening mechanism.
    With certification as platform, “Weed out everyone who doesn’t have an Ivy League diploma” will evolve into “Let’s find someone who possesses these specific skills and attributes that will help our organization.” With certification as a platform, the communication device currently known as the ‘diploma’ becomes a much richer signal that will help businesses hire better and help individuals learn and grow faster.
    Making this transition won’t happen overnight. But if we truly want to use technology to transform higher education, we can’t just confine our efforts to transforming instruction. We have to transform certification too. In doing so, we have an opportunity to create a new system that makes it clear to students what skills are most relevant and in highest demand, and thus gives them a chance to pursue these skills more strategically.
    But our higher education system can’t implement such changes alone. The business world has to embrace certification-as-a-platform, too. As long as it continues to depend on a 12 century communications device, the diploma, as its preferred gateway to entry, we won’t be able to fully capitalize on 21 century innovations in technology and education.

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    Helping Dreamers Afford Higher Education -- The Dream.US

    In 1982, the Supreme Court ruled that, by way of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, non-citizen children of undocumented immigrants are legally entitled to a free K-12 public school education, just like U.S. citizen children and the children of legally admitted immigrants.

    It is a just and practical decision. It is morally consistent with the national identity America has always claimed for itself. The United States is a land of openness and opportunity, a nation of immigrants that doesn’t just tolerate newcomers, but embraces them.

    As a result of that 1982 Supreme Court decision, an estimated 65,000 undocumented young people graduate from U.S. high schools every year. These young people have become known colloquially as Dreamers, evoking the American Dream. And yet, according to the American Association of State Colleges and University, only 5 to 10 percent of them continue on to college.

    Why? There are no federal laws prohibiting undocumented immigrants from attending public colleges. The federal government leaves this decision to individual states, and many allow it. (Private institutions, in turn, are free to admit whomever they want.)

    What federal law does prohibit, however, is extending federal aid of any kind to these students. If you’re a Dreamer, you can’t get a Pell Grant, a Perkins Loan, or any other kind of federal grant, loan, scholarship, or work-study payment. Every year, the U.S. Department of Education distributes more than $150 billion in financial assistance to help students pay for their education. But Dreamers have no access to this resource.

    Dreamers can sometimes obtain financial assistance at the state level, or through private sources. As the numbers show, however, they are mostly being priced out of higher education.

    To address this, my friend Don Graham, former publisher of the Washington Post, is creatingThe Dream.US, a private scholarship fund for Dreamers.
    With support from the Gates Foundation and private contributions from Don and his two co-founders, Henry Muñoz and Carlos Gutierrez, TheDream.US has already raised $25 million. They are partnering with a number of colleges around the country that offer affordable, high-quality education (around $25,000 total for a four-year bachelor’s degree) and they plan to give qualifying students full-tuition scholarships to these schools.

    Dreamers are Americans in every way other than documentation. As Americans, we all believe in freedom of opportunity and meritocracy. By the time a Dreamer graduates from high school, we, as a country, have already made a substantial investment in his or her education. In part, we do so for pragmatic purposes – to help individuals who are likely to spend a great deal of their lives in the U.S. become more productive and autonomous members of society.

    The alternative to providing opportunity is terrible. In his 1982 Supreme Court opinion, Justice William Brennan noted that withholding education from undocumented children would only help to create and perpetuate “a subclass of illiterates” that would “surely [add] to the problems and costs of unemployment, welfare, and crime…”

    We’re already providing a K-12 education to undocumented schoolchildren. We should go more than halfway. Extending that opportunity to higher education – and making college genuinely accessible to Dreamers – is the only way we can fulfill the promise of American Dream.

    That’s why I am so thrilled to see what Don and his co-founders are doing with TheDream.Us. I hope you will take a moment today to visit the site, and join us in spreading the word about this opportunity for the next class of great American Dreamers.

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    Former VC of UoH conferred Order of Merit by Germany

    Prof. Seyed E Hasnain, former Vice-Chancellor of University of Hyderabad (UoH) has been conferred the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Germany in recognition of his contribution to Indo-German relations. The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany was instituted in 1951 by Federal President Theodor Heuss. It is the only honour that is awarded in all fields of endeavour and is the highest tribute the Federal Republic of Germany can pay to individuals for services to the nation.
    German Ambassador to India, H.E. Michael Steiner, conferred the prestigious ‘Bundesverdienstkreuz’ on Prof. Hasnain at the German Embassy in India recently. Prof. Hasnain is a renowned microbiologist especially acclaimed for his path-breaking research on tuberculosis. He paved the way for the office of the German Research Foundation in India, which is one of the key forums for scientific cooperation between Germany and India. During his stay at the Robert Koch-Institute in Berlin and the University of Wurzburg, he produced remarkable research results in microbiology.
    Prof. Hasnain has almost all major Indian Science Awards to his credit: G.D. Birla AwardShanti Swarup Bhatnagar PrizeFICCI AwardJ.C. Bose National Fellow AwardRanbaxy Research AwardGoyal AwardBhasin Award and several others. He is the first Indian elected as a Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and one of the youngest to be elected as a Fellow of TWAS, Trieste, Italy. Internationally, Prof. Hasnain is a recipient of the prestigiousHumboldt Research Prize, awarded by the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation, Germany; as well as the very exclusive Robert Koch Fellowship, of the Robert Koch Institute, Berlin.
    Prof. Hasnain has also received the Padma Shri (Civilian Award) from the President of India for his meritorious work.

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    Seeing Equinoxes and Solstices from Space

    One of the most frequently misunderstood concepts in science is the reason for Earth’s seasons. As we experience the September equinox today—anyone try to balance an egg yet?—we thought we’d offer a space-based view of what’s going on.
    Around 6 a.m. local time each day, the Sun, Earth, and any geosynchronous satellite form a right angle, affording a nadir (straight down) view of the terminator, the edge between the shadows of nightfall and the sunlight of dusk and dawn. The shape of this line between night and day varies with the seasons, which means different lengths of days and differing amounts of warming sunshine. (The line is actually a curve because the Earth is round, but satellite images only show it in two-dimensions.)
    The Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI) on EUMETSAT's Meteosat-9 captured these four views of Earth from geosynchronous orbit. The images show how sunlight fell on the Earth on December 21, 2010 (upper left), and March 20 (upper right), June 21 (lower left), and September 20, 2011 (lower right). Each image was taken at 6:12 a.m. local time.
    On March 20 and September 20, the terminator is a straight north-south line, and the Sun is said to sit directly above the equator. On December 21, the Sun resides directly over the Tropic of Capricorn when viewed from the ground, and sunlight spreads over more of the Southern Hemisphere. On June 21, the Sun sits above the Tropic of Cancer, spreading more sunlight in the north and turning the tables on the south. The bulge of our spherical Earth blocks sunlight from the far hemisphere at the solstices; that same curvature allows the Sun’s rays to spread over more area near the top and bottom of the globe.

    Of course, it is not the Sun that is moving north or south through the seasons, but a change in the orientation and angles between the Earth and its nearest star. The axis of the Earth is tilted 23.5 degrees relative to the Sun and the ecliptic plane. The axis is tilted away from the Sun at the December solstice and toward the Sun at the June solstice, spreading more and less light on each hemisphere. At the equinoxes, the tilt is at a right angle to the Sun and the light is spread evenly.
    The equinox and changing of the seasons occurs on September 23, 2011 at 9:05 a.m. Universal Time. (Our September image above is a few days early.) Equinox means "equal night" in Latin, capturing the idea that daytime and nighttime are equal lengths everywhere on the planet. That is true of the Sun's presence above the horizon, though it does not account for twilight, when the Sun's rays extend from beyond the horizon to illuminate our gas-filled atmosphere.

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    Nuclear fission reactors, Africa’s Einsteins and the healing power of nature: A recap of “Beauty and the Brain,” All-Stars Session 2 at TED2014

    Dan Gilbert. Photo: Bret Hartman
    Dan Gilbert. Photo: Bret Hartman
    Our brains work in mysterious ways. They make us laugh, they make us cry, and sometimes, they make us 19-year old geniuses. The 11 speakers in this All-Stars session specialize in areas of the brain as diverse as personality, trauma and gender, but they all agree: Our minds matter.
    Below, read a detailed recap of each talk given in this session:
    What if there were one amazing substance that was cheap, had no side effects, reduced stress, boosted creativity – and you couldn’t OD on it? As it happens, there is: Nature. Marine biologist Tierney Thys is interested in the calming, healing effects that images of nature have on the brain. She started installing nature images in an Oregon prison – and there’s been a measured decrease in prison violence. If we could understand the effects of seeing nature on the neurological level, she suggests, we could optimize the creation of nature imagery to maximize mental health. That’s why she’s working on a project to measure EEG in response to beautiful nature photography. Call it neurobiophilia.
    Why do we make decisions that our future selves so often regret? Happiness psychologist Dan Gilbert is interested in how much our personality, preferences and values change over the course of a lifetime. It’s a theme Gilbert has discussed in his previous talks on happiness and decision-making, but his new research shows that while we think we are the person we will always be, we actually change quite a lot over the course of our lifetime, even into old age. The only constant in life is change — even when it comes to ourselves.
    At TEDGlobal 2012, Jane McGonigal gave a talk about her game SuperBetter, which helped her recover from a severe brain injury. Since then she has become obsessed with how games can help people’s mental health. She offers four recent examples of the power of gaming:
    1. SnowWorld: This is a 3D virtual reality game that has be able to reduce pain in severe burn cases by 30 to 50 percent, making it more effective than morphine;
    2. Tetris: Oxford psychologists showed that playing Tetris directly following a trauma blocks the brain from forming visual memories. By hijacking the visual processing center of the brain, Tetris can help with PTSD;
    3. Project Tree: This is a game in which players use chain saws to cut down a tree and experience haptic feedback. After playing the game for two minutes subjects showed they would change their behavior for one week, using 25 percent fewer paper products.
    4. SuperBetter: In a recent University of Pennsylvania control trial, McGonical’s own SuperBetter was able to reduce 6 symptoms of depression in 6 weeks of play.
    In 2008, physicist and education activist Neil Turok wished to find the next Einstein in Africa. Since winning the TED Prize, Turok has made incredible strides connecting Africa’s young scientists with the best lecturers in the world. At his African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, which now has four centers across the continent and a fifth opening later this year, students have found incredible resources and support to pursue their mathematical dreams. Turok is joined on the stage with two of his students, Kidist Zeleke and Martial Mbah, who are applying their math and science foundation to cutting-edge research in physics and medicine.
    Emily Levine. Photo: Ryan Lash
    Emily Levine. Photo: Ryan Lash
    After Emily Levine gave her kooky TED2002 talk, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Says Levine, “It has brought me in touch with reality.” She was producing too much human growth hormone; she broke her back; it was only three months ago that she started walking again. And yet. There was only one thing for the self-labeled “brainiac comedian” to do: make a movie. She gives a preview of her new film, Emily @ the Edge of Chaos: A Movie About Change.
    Psychologist Phillip Zimbardo is worried about men. He sees them failing socially, academically and with women — and he’s had these concerns since he talked about  the demise of guys back in 2011. In the three years since, he hasn’t seen much improvement in the male condition; now, he pinpoints the causes on missing fathers and overexposure to video games.  It will take a village — mothers and fathers, government programs, healthcare and school curriculum redesigns — to refine masculinity and remind men to get back into the real world.
    In a Q&A with session host Guy Raz, 19-year-old Taylor Wilson talks about the progress of his small nuclear fission reactors. And he’s close — says Wilson, it’s no longer a physics problem, just a manufacturing problem. Wilson says his reactors are five to 10 years from market, and as little as three years from prototype. Distributed generation is the future, he says, because it’s more efficient and reliable, and renewables are pro-distribution. The goal is micro: for every city, town and house to have its own generator. The only thing that’s needed now, says Taylor, is base load power. Raz points out that Taylor decided not to go to college to start his own company; has that been hard? Says Taylor, it was a difficult decision, but science really allows him to stay a kid forever. And don’t worry, he still goes to parties.
    When neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had a massive stroke, her life changed forever. She transitioned from being a left-brained scientist to a right-brained person more in touch with her emotions, and those of others. She had no idea when she shared her story on the TED stage back in 2008 that 15 million people would watch her talk. Since then, she’s founded Jill Bolte Taylor BRAINS, a nonprofit that promotes brain awareness and appreciation. And she’s learned to harness her strengths as a right-brained person: it’s influenced her teaching style and her outlook on life. “Our first job as human beings is to love one another and come into the world through compassion, love and openness,” she says. “TED has changed my life and helped me become the person I am today.” A standing O from a teary crowd.
    William Kamkwamba. Photo: Ryan Lash
    William Kamkwamba. Photo: Ryan Lash
    William Kamkwamba, aka “the boy who harnessed the wind,” spoke at TEDGlobal 2007 about the windmill he built in his village in Malawai as a fourteen-year-old. Today he is back at TED to talk about his educational journey since then. Says Kamkwamba, at the time he was forced to drop out of school because his parents couldn’t afford his school fees. Following his talk, generous supporters helped him go back to school, this time in South Africa. Now, 7 years, 11 weeks, and 2 days after giving his first talk, Kamkwamba is about to graduate from Dartmouth College. He still devotes much of his time to helping his community, installing solar panels and computers in the school he was forced to leave; starting a soccer team for his village; running a minivan transport business; installing solar water pumps; and of course sharing his skills and knowledge with the community so they can work on their own projects.

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    How to Break the Mold and Be an Independent ThinkerHow to Break the Mold and Be an Independent Thinker

    To come up with truly creative products and unique ideas, great business leaders need to be independent thinkers. Our brains are wired to recycle ideas we’ve already heard from others, but you can learn to think independently, or to come up with novel ideas, with a few easy psychological tips and tools.
    Let's start with an exercise: Take a blank piece of paper and draw an animal from an alien planet.
    If you're like most people, then what you’ve drawn looks wacky, but vaguely familiar. It's probably somewhat symmetric, and it likely has some combination of arms, legs, ears, eyes, or noses. In other words, it looks like a distorted version of animals on Earth.
    "Everything you think is influenced by years of experience and cultural upbringing," says Art Markman, a cognitive psychologist at University of Texas at Austin and author of Smart Thinking(Perigee Trade, 2012). "Your natural tendency is to pull a known solution from your memory."
    Independent thinking requires you to break that mold. Try these three strategies to prompt your brain to think more independently:
    1. Place a lot of constraints on the problem. 
    Paradoxically, open-ended problems are the enemy of independent thinking. "If you don't have constraints, the first things you'll come up with are the most accessible memories," Markman says. "They'll be really similar to what others have done before."
    Instead, give yourself limitations. Rule out elements of the solution that seem expected or natural. For example, can you make a bank that has no tellers? Can you write a book that has no beginning? The constraints should force you to consider an unfamiliar scenario, and you should try many of them as you work toward a viable solution.
    2. Combine ideas that seem ill-matched. 
    When you're trying to solve a problem, your memory will retrieve solutions or concepts that seem like logical matches, often because others have used that match already. To think differently, consider ideas that don't seem compatible at all.
    For example, what if you made a dating website that worked like Wikipedia? Or what if you found a way to open a can using only airplane parts? "Try to jam things together that feel like misfits at first, and see how far that takes you," Markman says. Many of your ideas will fail, but any that succeed are likely to be unique.
    3. Take the bird's eye view. 
    When you're trying to solve a problem, zoom out to see variables that others might overlook. "Thinking about the bigger picture takes you out of the familiar way of thinking about the problem," Markman says. Ask yourself, what is the purpose of solving this problem? What would happen if I succeed? And how can I find a solution that makes that outcome work?
    For example, Thomas Edison saw that houses would need to be wired for electricity if people were going to buy lightbulbs. To send power over long distances, you need a high voltage bulb. Edison was the only inventor who realized this, so he was the one who made history.

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    Why ‘Incomplete’ Products Increase Consumption

    Barbara E. Kahn, professor of marketing and director of the Jay .H. Baker Retailing Center, is the chair of theRetail and Consumer Goods Summit, a conference that Knowledge@Wharton is organizing in collaboration with the Baker Retailing Center on April 28 and 29 in New York City. 

    Her research interests include consumer choice, variety seeking, product assortments, brand management and retailing.
    In this wide-ranging discussion with Knowledge@Wharton about her recent research, Kahn talks about how a complete product encourages more consumption: A person is likely to eat two pieces of cheese with holes in them but only one if it is solid, for example. It’s a matter of perception, Kahn explains. She also discusses her research on the attention that consumers pay to large assortments of goods and how it influences their choices when information is presented visually or verbally. In addition, she describes a study on how consumers behave when goods are stacked vertically versus horizontally.
    An edited version of the conversation follows.Knowledge@Wharton: One of the papers that you have written recently — in collaboration with your colleague Julio Sevilla — is about the notion of a product’s completeness, and how it affects perceptions, preferences, and even the purchase decisions of buyers. What was the question you were trying to investigate in your research?
    Barbara Kahn: One of the things that we know is that the way people decide what to buy and what to eat and how much to eat is not necessarily based on objective measures. It’s based more on their perceptions of how things work [or] look…. One of the big findings in the literature before we did our study was that product shape and size and package shape and size affect how much people consume. There’s been previous work that shows that keeping the size of a product the same but changing its shape can influence how much people eat. We were interested in whether or not you think the unit is complete affects how much you eat.
    Knowledge@Wharton: So if I were to take a bag of cashews and eat a lot of the broken pieces at the bottom of the bag, I would not be feeling guilty, regardless of how much I consumed, because I would think I had not eaten an entire unit?
    Kahn: Right. That’s the idea. Whenever you eat a whole thing, you think you’re eating more, even if the amount is the same as a broken piece. So, if you ate a whole pretzel, you would be aware that you ate a whole pretzel. If you ate a whole bunch of pieces, you’re not aware of how much quantity you’re eating.
    Knowledge@Wharton: How do you decide whether a product is complete or not?
    Kahn: Well, that is the interesting thing. We do show that you can manipulate what the expectation is, and change people’s behavior. For example, we did a study in this research, where we had rolls or cheese. The roll was incomplete, because there was a hole in it. The cheese was incomplete, because there were holes in the cheese — it wasn’t a solid piece of bread or a solid piece of cheese. When we called it a roll or cheese, people thought the ones with the holes were less complete. They tended to consume more of the holey bread. On the other hand, if we set the expectation that it was a bagel, or that it was Swiss cheese, their thought was: “A whole bagel has a hole in it.” That reversed the findings.
    Knowledge@Wharton: How did you go about conducting your research?
    Kahn: We did a lot of the research online. [We asked questions like] if this is what it looked like, how much do you think you would eat? How much do you think you’d pay for it? But we did run a field study to validate the research. We did it in Miami with a class of people who were going for a health MBA course. They were physicians and health professionals. So, they were senior, sophisticated people who understood health.
    We had a condition, and we had two classes. They either ate lunch in classroom A or classroom B. Lunch was sandwiches that were either cut in half or whole. We held constant in each one the amount of bread, the amount of meat, the amount of everything. We also counted how many sandwiches they ended up eating. We were careful so that a normal portion size would be more than one, because there is also a kind of bias called the unitary bias, where you might just take one of something. So, these were small sandwiches; people would naturally take more than one.
    What we found is that when we cut the sandwich in half, people ate more. And, mind you, these were doctors and health professionals, who were liable to fall for this bias as well.
    Knowledge@Wharton: What would you say were some of the main takeaways of your research?
    Kahn: There are public policy takeaways and marketing takeaways. Basically, we add to this growing literature. There are others who have found these kinds of things. [Research has found] that people focus on the primary dimension of the product. They do insufficient adjustment for the secondary dimension. If something has a long primary dimension and a small secondary dimension, but is the same size as something with a little bit smaller primary dimension and a bigger secondary dimension, they overweight the primary dimension. That is similar to our research, where they overweight the completeness.
    Basically, it shows that people are not normative decision-makers. They don’t eat what they think they need to eat to feel full. They eat what they perceive is the right amount, and they use these implicit rules for deciding how much to eat.
    It suggests that these things can backfire — or boomerang, we call it. For example, there is other research — not mine, but it’s related — where they show if people eat in 100-calorie packs, or something like that, they can end up eating more, because their perceptions of how much they ate is based on the package or the shape of the product, not on how full they feel.
    Knowledge@Wharton: Based on what you’ve said so far, I guess the food and the beverage industries would be the most interested — or most affected — by the findings of your research. Are there any other industries where consumer preference would be affected by notions of completeness?
    Kahn: It’s hard for me to say offhand but, theoretically, there should certainly be others. What we find is that it affects choice. And more importantly, probably, is that it affects consumption. The difference is that choice tends to be a more mindful — we call it system-two thinking — kind of decision. Consumption is more of a mindless kind of decision. These things are subtle and perception changes tend to affect the consumption decision. That tends to be truer in food. When you buy clothing, it’s more of a conscious decision. But these things hold in anything that has some kind of mindless consumption pattern.
    Knowledge@Wharton: Let’s now turn to some of your other research, in other areas. You were telling me about a new research paper you have done on online and offline perceptions. Could you explain a little bit about what you were trying to investigate?
    Kahn: Research has shown that there is such a thing as too much variety. If you go into an assortment and there’s so much going on there that you can’t take it all in, some research shows that people will choose not to choose. They are just overwhelmed by all the choices. I think choice is good. What I’m interested in is: How can we get consumers to pay attention to the variety so that it’s not overwhelming? The metric I’m really interested in is attention. We can put people in front of computers and see exactly what they’re looking at. We can also give people goggles and have them walk up and down a real store and see what they’re looking at. We can see how changes on the shelf affect attention patterns.
    Similarly, if you’re buying online, I can see how you’re scanning that computer screen. One of the things that we looked at is how people pay attention differentially to an assortment, if it’s depicted visually, or if it’s depicted by words, holding everything constant.
    Knowledge@Wharton: What were some of your main findings here?
    Kahn: What we found is, if I gave people a choice: “Would you like to see the assortment visually or described by words?” an overwhelming majority would prefer it visually. We tried all sorts of ways to try to get them not to prefer visual, because I wanted to find a boundary condition. You would assume visual is preferred for something that’s a very aesthetic category. But what about a category like mutual funds? If I could show it visually, people would prefer to see mutual funds visually. It’s surprising how strong the preference was for visual depiction.
    When the assortment was depicted visually versus verbally, people perceived there was more variety in general. That was the main effect. You can understand why that was, because you can take in more of the attributes at once visually. When it’s verbal, it’s kind of piecemeal, the way you process it. So, you tend to see more variety when it’s visual versus verbal. And people prefer variety; it’s emotionally nicer.
    When the assortment is manageable, visual is preferable. You can take all the variety in. When the assortment gets really large, what we’ve found with eye tracking is that people can’t take in all that variety visually. What they tend to do is kind of glaze over and look haphazardly and randomly over the visual assortment. As a result, they miss certain items. It becomes more complex; they’re more willing to not make a choice.
    On the other hand, if the assortment is really large, and I depict it verbally, they may not like it as much. But the only way they can take in that information is to spend a little bit more time. And they tend to look a little more systematically. The net result of that is they take in more variety and they’re more willing to make a choice.
    Knowledge@Wharton: What do you think would be the implications for, say, a company like Amazon, which now calls itself the world’s biggest retailer and has an immense variety of products, all depicted online? How would your research be relevant to a retailer of that type?
    Kahn: I haven’t done research specifically with Amazon, but I have looked at some results with Campbell’s Soup and other packaged goods. What we’ve found is people go to their favorite soup — chicken noodle — and buy chicken noodle. Campbell has lots of variety. What they want you to do is appreciate that variety. What we’ve found with goggles is, if they look at just the pictures, people glance over, and they don’t take in all the variety. When we can get them to look at the labels, the names, they read it. And then they see there is chicken noodle, chicken stars, chicken whatever. If you are looking at the picture, you will just glaze over it. But if you’re reading, you will [pay more attention].
    I talked to a sports retailer. He told me that with athletic clothes, people buy black. They buy black all the time. But if you just had black on the shelf, people wouldn’t see all the different shapes and sizes. So some of the retailers — you can imagine this online also — insert pink and orange. Not because they think people are going to buy them, but because it gives them something to pay attention to. Then you appreciate the variety that is there. So, what you have got to do is get people to stop and pay attention to certain things, or else they glaze over.
    Knowledge@Wharton: I was also wondering how your research would relate to a company like Walmart. How could they use your findings?
    Kahn: I’m just looking at visual versus verbal. I’m looking at an attention-getter, when there is a wide variety…. If you are in a big store like a Walmart, with all this variety everywhere, it looks like a mountain of products. What you see is maybe what’s on the end aisle, or under the “sale” sign or something. What you want to understand is how to set up a store so that people take in all the variety that is there.
    There is a storefront downtown that used to house Anne Klein, which sells clothing. It now is Stuart Weitzman, which sells shoes. Each brand occupied the same physical space, but the space is used differently. In Anne Klein, they keep the entire inventory [visible to the customer]. So, all the dress sizes, all the blouses, all the different things, they’re out [on display]. There is no backroom, really. But if you think about a shoe store, they have just a few shoes out, and all the inventory is hidden at the back. How much variety are you going to take in? I never really thought about it, until I saw the exact same physical space used in really different ways.
    Knowledge@Wharton: Another of your papers is about the horizontal versus vertical dimensions of product placement?
    Kahn: Here also we used eye tracking. We looked at the theory of attention and perception. We first stipulated that there are two stages. There are more than two, but let’s start with two stages to your choice process. One stage is when you see the whole category. You kind of scan it quickly. Maybe you are not going to make a purchase. There’s three seconds or so, when you walk by. The second is when you plant your feet and you’re ready to make a choice. Now you are spending unlimited time. We looked at those two stages. Under those two stages, should you do it horizontally or vertically?
    So, stage one. Three seconds, you’re just scanning there. What we found is, because your eyes are horizontal, you can see things that are horizontal more easily. We call that higher perceptional fluency. 
    So, when things are horizontal, and you’re looking very quickly, you take in more variety. The result is that, if things are across a horizontal row and you’re going past it quickly, whether online or in the store, you think there is more variety. When you get to [making] the choice, that’s no longer the case because I’m spending enough time to look at it. 
    The quickness — or the ease of looking at it — is not a relevant thing. But now there is another perceptual issue. If you take the same line vertically and horizontally, people always think that the vertical line is longer. When things are horizontal, you think they’re closer together.
    We also know that when you think things are closer together, you think they’re more similar. So, when you’re evaluating things, if you don’t have clear preferences, the things that are horizontal are seen as closer together and more equal in preference. You are more likely to, say, pick one or more of them horizontally. When you see them vertically, they seem further apart. There seems to be an order to it more when it’s vertical. And so, you tend to pick one. What we find in general is when things are [displayed] horizontally, you tend to pick more variety. You see more variety quickly. And when you evaluate, you think there are more acceptable options. When it’s vertical, you tend to pick one.
    Anecdotally, I think retailers know this. I’ve looked at a lot of convenience stores. They tend to stack horizontally the things with more flavors. What they tend to stack vertically is good, better, best — or best, better, good. The notion is you’re going to take one when it’s vertical and more than one when it’s horizontal. What my research has done, the retailers have figured out by trial and error. They don’t care why; they just know it works. What I do back in the lab is to figure out how you pay attention, and your resulting perceptions. There is no reason — you know, thinking about it in advance — why something would be horizontal or vertical.
    Knowledge@Wharton: What’s really interesting about what you said is that in addition to retailers, there are also companies like Netflix, that show thousands of film titles horizontally, and different categories of films vertically.
    Kahn: Over time, they have figured out it worked this way. You tend to pick more than one in a particular category. And you choose one category or the other. That’s exactly the same thing. What I think is interesting is that retailers know what works. They don’t know why. It is very reassuring to see the results in the lab validated by real world stuff.
    Knowledge@Wharton: We have talked about three of your research papers. Are there any future research projects that you’re working on based on these findings?
    Kahn: I am really interested in how the process goes in this new omni-channel world. We know there are stages to the purchase process. You search for information, you evaluate the options, you make a choice, you use the product. So, there are all these different stages. 
    In traditional retailing, you made the decisions in-store, and then you took the products home. So, there was in-store and there was at-home. That was it. But now, you might look on your phone for something, on your computer for something else. You might go into the physical store for something else. These different stages can be in all different channels.
    I’m curious to know how separating the stages by channel and by time affects decision-making. I’m working on a project in which we started with Warby Parker, the eyeglass retailer started by four Wharton students. 
    What you do in Warby Parker? They have changed it now, because they have opened [physical] stores. But originally, you made the decision online. You looked at this big assortment. You waited a couple of days and you got five pairs to try on at home. 
    What I was interested in was that separation between making your decision online and having to wait a couple days to get the physical glasses. How did that time between the two stages affect your decision-making? We’re in the process of doing that research now. And we’re finding that, counter to what people might think, the delay between the two stages may not be bad. It may be a good thing.

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    How to build and scale-up your startup 

    21st Century is considered to be the “Generation of Entrepreneurs”. You walk into a high-tech conference, a networking event or meet someone at the coffee shop for a casual chat, and the buzz word you will hear today is “Startup”. If you are reading this article, then I would think you are a fresh entrepreneur, a final year student looking to venture on your own or a person with decent years of work experience and you have decided to break-away from your unexciting job to start your own business. You might have a brilliant and innovative idea, and feel you are well equipped with all the resources needed to be a successful entrepreneur. However, it’s always better to take a planned approach – be proactive and ensure that you have the fundamental elements and assets required to succeed in your venture. 

    Here are some useful tips for the Young and upcoming Entrepreneurs from Co-Founders of RapidValue Solutions – Rajesh Padinjaremadam (CEO), Sirish Kosaraju (COO) and Rinish Nalini (CTO). Understand your Ecosystem Before you get going on your idea, you should spend time in understanding what other players in similar space are doing. Research on your competitors’ service offerings and product features, find out if your product will have buyers and what are the buyers looking in a product/service. 

     If you are building a technology firm, you need to know other service providers and vendors would your product/service connect with. Choosing your Partners Entrepreneurship is tough – It’s a marathon and not a 100 meters sprint. More often than not you will need partners who will have to help you reach that 26 mile mark.  While doing it alone is not easy, incompatible partners can be disastrous for the business. It is critical to choose your co-founders carefully.  Two to three co-founders is usually an ideal number and your co-founders should bring complimentary skills. For example – If one is good in sales, then the other should be good at product development. Apart from the skills, the founder team should have a similar risk profile as well as similar ideas of what the dream, and more importantly the path to take to achieve the dream.

    Life At RapidValue Be Prepared for the Tough Times Before you plan all the resources and logistics needed for your business, please be prepared to cross the hurdles during this journey – long working hours, interactions with demanding customers, and to find and invest in talented human resources. You need to understand completely that entrepreneurship isn’t simple and doesn’t guarantee success. Have a Business Plan Now that you have decided to take the risk, you need to have a business plan. You need to think through a few key aspects – What’s my product offering, how do I differentiate myself from the competition, who is my customer, why will user pay for my product, how much will he pay for my product, what is the cost of my product, what is my sales process and plan. 

    Apart from the above, you need to set some realistic milestones for yourself such as: I will develop a prototype in six months Six months to validate the market i.e. get one or two paying customers If your plan needs funding, then you should have some funding milestones as well Scaling the business to ten paying customers etc. If you’re not hitting the milestones, you need to figure out why this has not happened and work twice harder to makeup or close the business or move the business another route. For example: If customer validation fails. You will also need to know the legal and regularity aspects of your business. Get in touch with a good lawyer and a Chartered Accountant to find out all the details before you go head and register your company.

     Cash Cash Cash You should start your business once you have a good network in the corporate world, or you can self-fund or you have ground-breaking ideas which might have higher chances to get VC funded. However, you shouldn’t depend on Angels and Venture Capitalists to finance you right away. This means that your initial customers will mostly be the ones funding your business through their cheques. Therefore, ensure that you conserve your cash and that you build cash inflows from your customers. This is absolutely critical for long term survival of any firm. Infact most Angels and VCs will expect you to have paying customers before they invest in your business. 

    If you get to good cash flows then there are other forms of funding that you can look – Debt funding from banks, other financial institutions etc. Hire and Nurture the Right Team You might start alone, but eventually the aim is to build your team. First step is to hire the right team. Look for culture fit when hiring rather than just skills.  The initial growth phase is hard and you need to have a team which gels culturally together and also thrive in the uncertainty and chaos that a startup offers.  You need to know how to nurture your team. Everyone looks to grow in their career. Develop a good rapport with your team mates; it can be personal but at the same time keep it professional. Give them the opportunity to come up with new ideas and take ownership. Nurture a healthy work culture. ... read more on your 

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    Successful Organizations Need Leaders At All Levels

    Anybody who has ever watched interviews with managers or coaches of professional sports teams will have heard plenty of discussion of the need for leaders throughout the team. The same thinking is also increasingly a preoccupation of business people. Indeed, the need for “leaders at all levels” is one of the 12 critical issues identified in the Global Human Capital Trends 2014 survey published earlier this month by Deloitte University Press, the publishing arm of the professional services firm’s leadership center.
    In a paper examining the findings, Adam Canwell, Vishalli Dongrie, Neil Neveras and Heather Stockton – who work for Deloitte in a range of locations  – point out that leadership “remains the No. 1 talent issue facing organizations around the world”, with 86% of respondents to the survey rating it “urgent” or “important”. However, the fact that only 13% say they do an excellent job of developing leaders at all levels means that this area has the largest “readiness gap” in the survey.
    Finding good leaders has, of course, always been a crucial issue for all sorts of organizations. This is why the armed forces, for instance, put so much effort into training their officers and why business schools and other providers of executive development have thrived. But the Deloitte team argues that “21st-century leadership is different”. Canwell and his colleagues write: “Companies face new leadership challenges, including developing Millenials and multiple generations of leaders, meeting the demand for leaders with global fluency and flexibility, building the ability to innovate and inspire others to perform, and acquiring new levels of understanding of rapidly changing technologies and new disciplines and fields.” No wonder organizations are coming up short.
    Almost inevitably, the problem is felt to be especially acute today. This is a result of the strengthening of the global recovery, the desire on the part of the companies to expand in new markets and the growing numbers of older leaders choosing to retire.
    A key part of the solution identified by the Deloitte team is for organizations to develop leadership pipelines at every level. At present, it says, companies are not only not developing enough leaders, they are also not equipping those they are creating with the critical capabilities and skills they need to succeed. “Today’s market environment places a premium on speed, flexibility and the ability to lead in uncertain situations. At the same time, the flattening of organizations has created an explosion in demand for leadership skills at every level.”
    It appears that there is no avoiding spending money when it comes to dealing with this situation. The best performing companies already spend thousands of dollars each year developing each would-be leader on their staff, with the figure for senior leaders in the tens of thousands of dollars. Creating strong leadership programs for leaders at all levels – as advocated – requires sustained and substantial investment. At the early stages in the leadership pipeline, potential leaders need to acquire core skills in supervision and management, with frequent assignments to build on this base.
     Later on, they need to understand all the business functions before becoming executives, when business and product strategy will be central, along with experience of driving change within large teams. Companies need to understand that there are no shortcuts to building broad and deep leadership teams. New leaders typically need 18 months before feeling fully comfortable in a new role, while for those in the mid-level the period is more likely to be two to three years.
    The paper also calls for companies to be more flexible in terms of leadership paths. Some leaders will move into senior roles relatively quickly because of a particular situation, while others will develop more slowly.
    Above all, though, organizations need to realize that developing leaders amounts to more than having a selection of training programs. “Senior executives should create a culture that broadens the opportunity for leaders to develop in new ways,” writes the Deloitte team.
     “This means putting potential leaders in positions that stretch them beyond their current skill sets, and continuously coaching and supporting leaders so they can build their capabilities as rapidly as possible.” This is increasingly well recognised, say the authors, but it is “simply not widely adopted and practiced”.
    Where should companies begin? A few starting points include:
    • Engaging top executives to develop leadership strategy and actively govern leadership development.
    • Aligning leadership strategies and development with evolving business goals
    • Focusing on three aspects of developing leaders – developing leaders at all levels, developing global leaders locally and developing a succession mindset
    • Implementing an effective – and unique – leadership program.
    But there is no time to delay. The best-performing organizations are already on their way.

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