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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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    AOL Co-Founder Steve Case Invests $30 Million Into School Lunch Company, Revolution Foods

    AOL co-founder Steve Case, via his investment fund Revolution Growth, has now made a second deal to fund a company focused on healthy eating. The firm is putting $30 million into Revolution Foods (no relation to Revolution Growth!), a company launched eight years ago by two women and mothers who wanted to find a better and more affordable way to provide healthier school lunches.
    As with last year’s $22 million investment into organic salad chain Sweetgreen, Revolution Foods is not really a “tech” company, however.
    And that means technically, I shouldn’t be writing this up on a site called TechCrunch. But better to ask for forgiveness…
    These days, technology companies with their sky-high valuations are under increasing pressure to live up to their “change the world” rhetoric, but sometimes, I think it’s worth pointing out, that kind of change doesn’t come about by improved algorithms or new APIs, but by looking for a real-world problem to solve then figuring out how to fix it. And yes, sometimes that doesn’t require a technological leap, just an entrepreneurial one.
    When Revolution Foods first started, it was preparing around 500 meals per day for three schools out of a 500-square-foot kitchen in Oakland, Calif. Today, the company is serving more than 200,000 K-12 students in 1,000 schools in 50 metro markets and delivering 1 million meals per week.
    Co-founder and CEO Kristin Groos Richmond says of the company’s origins: “Kirsten [Saenz Tobey, co-founder] and I had a vision to I had a vision to dramatically increase to healthy, delicious meals for all kids across the country. We had both come from a mixed background of business and education and saw firsthand the impact that eating nutritious meals had on student success – in, and out – of the classroom.”
    “We also believed that there was a large scale business opportunity to address the intersection of healthy, affordable, kid-designed and loved meals.”
    The meals the company provides (breakfast, lunch, snack, supper) are National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) compliant, which means they’re reimbursable within schools’ cost structure, making them equally available anywhere. They’re also better for you, with natural ingredients, and without high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors or flavors, preservatives, and trans fats. They include things like fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh-baked bread and meats with no nitrates and nitrites.
    As the company’s website explains, these are meals prepared by chefs in kitchens, not labs.
    Today, the program has spread to 26 major cities in the U.S. including Oakland, Denver, Houston, New Orleans, and New York and throughout Northern California, NY/NJ area, Colorado and elsewhere. Most importantly, 80 percent of the 1 million meals per week are going to students in underserved communities who are on the free and reduced meal program.
    Or in other words, the majority of the students who are in most need of a healthy meal are getting it.
    Richmond says the company has achieved a 100 percent compound annual growth rate since its inception, and will begin next fiscal year with an approximate $100 million revenue run rate.
    Now Revolution Foods is working to expand its retail business, launched last August, which the new investment will help with. Instead of those less than healthy “Lunchables” available to overworked, overwhelmed parents who are too busy to prepare a healthy meal for packed lunches (ahem, *looks around guiltily*) Revolution’s “Meal Kits” are currently available at 2,000 U.S. grocery stores, including Safeway, Von’s, HEB and others.
    Headquartered in Oakland, Revolution Foods now has over 1,000 employees in seven culinary centers and its headquarters.
    *Disclosure: AOL is TechCrunch’s corporate parent; photo credits: Shelly Puri 

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  • 06/12/14--19:22: The Other B-Word 06-13
  • The Other B-Word

    By Sheryl Sandberg and Rachel Thomas
    Yesterday, something remarkable happened. LeanIn.Org and the Girl Scouts launched Ban Bossy—a public service campaign to ensure that girls grow up with the confidence and support they need to become leaders.
    Our community has only been in existence one year—today is the first anniversary of the publication of Lean In and founding of LeanIn.Org. Yet, in the first 24 hours of the Ban Bossy campaign, one million people visited, and #banbossy was one of the top trending topics on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. We believe hundreds of thousands of people took the pledge to ban bossy, including over 100,000 on our site alone and many more on social media. In one day, Ban Bossy has sparked a conversation online and offline—with girls sharing their leadership aspirations, mothers and fathers celebrating their daughters’ potential, and women sharing their own bossy stories.
    Why does this have so much resonance? Because almost every woman we know has a “bossy story.” It’s also why leaders including Michelle Obama, Madeleine Albright, Senator Kelly Ayotte, Melinda Gates, Beyoncé, and Maria Shriver lent their voice to this campaign and its cause.
    Condoleezza Rice was called bossy by a childhood friend after suggesting that their doll collection be arranged from shortest to tallest. Jezebel founder Anna Holmes was criticized on her fifth-grade report card for being bossy. “I had strong ideas,” she explains. “I still do.”
    Indra Nooyi was called bossy. So were Jane Lynch and Katie Couric. Alicia Keys says she has been called aggressive her whole life—precisely what it takes to make it in the music business, or any industry.
    A Lean In community member named Osi was called “Bossy Osi” by her younger siblings whenever she tried to direct their play. Another young woman, Jordan, told us how she stuck up for herself when her fourth-grade classmates called her bossy in class.
    We too were called bossy as girls. Decades later, the word still stings, and we remember the sentiments it evoked: Keep your voice down. Don’t raise your hand. Don’t take the lead. If you do, people won’t like you.
    This is not just about a single word. The stereotypes behind the word “bossy” are deep rooted and discouraging.
    We expect boys to be assertive and confident, while we expect girls to be kind and nurturing. We encourage boys to lead and reward them when they do. When girls lead, however, we disapprove—and our language communicates that disapproval clearly.
    By middle school, girls are less interested in leadership roles than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood. According to a 2008 Girl Scouts study, young women ages eight to seventeen avoid leadership roles for fear that they’ll be labeled bossy or disliked by their peers. Girls’ confidence also suffers through these years: from elementary to high school their self-esteem drops 3.5 times more than boys’.
    As girls become women, the childhood b-word—“bossy”—is replaced by the b-word adult women face—along with “aggressive,” “angry,” and “too ambitious.” The words change, but their impact doesn’t. Women are less well liked when they lead, and all of us are affected. The bossy stereotype contributes to the dearth of leadership we face in every industry and every government in every country in the world.
    In one day alone, our community took action in the belief we can change this. We can. We can change our words—because words matter. We can change the story. We can change the outcomes.
    There are small, every day adjustments all of us can make to help girls speak up, sit at the table, and lean in. offers leadership tips for girls, parents, teachers, and managers.
    For parents, research shows that by seventh grade, parents have higher aspirations for their sons than their daughters. Making parents aware of this is the first step. Then as parents, we can talk openly with our daughters about their ambitions—and help them believe that they can do anything they aspire to do. We can encourage them to use their voice, assert themselves, try something new, and take the lead. We teach our children their mathematics tables. We should make sure they develop their leadership skills too.
    For managers, we can be aware of—and push back on—the gender stereotypes that hold women back. When we hear a woman criticized for being “aggressive” or “difficult,” we can find out what she did that was so off-putting—and ask ourselves and others if we’d have the same reaction if a man did the very same thing. The answer will often be no.
    We’ll all do better when we tap the full talents of our population and women have a stronger voice when decisions are made.
    Let’s change the future today—Ban Bossy and encourage girls to lead. Visit banbossy.comto take the pledge and download our leadership tips. Together, we can create a more equal—and better—world.
    Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook and the co-founder of LeanIn.Org, a nonprofit committed to encouraging all women to achieve their ambitions. Rachel Thomas is the co-founder and President of LeanIn.Org. Ban Bossy can be found at
    Words like bossy, pushy, and know-it-all have an impact on girls. This video by BBDO New York highlights the price we pay for discouraging girls from leading and calls on all of us to change the narrative. #banbossy.

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    The human mind can rapidly absorb and analyze new information as it flits from thought to thought. These quickly changing brain states may be encoded by synchronization of brain waves across different brain regions, according to a new study from MIT neuroscientists.
    The researchers found that as monkeys learn to categorize different patterns of dots, two brain areas involved in learning — the prefrontal cortex and the striatum — synchronize their brain waves to form new communication circuits.
    “We’re seeing direct evidence for the interactions between these two systems during learning, which hasn’t been seen before. Category-learning results in new functional circuits between these two areas, and these functional circuits are rhythm-based, which is key because that’s a relatively new concept in systems neuroscience,” says Earl Miller, the Picower Professor of Neuroscience at MIT and senior author of the study, which appears in the June 12 issue of Neuron.
    There are millions of neurons in the brain, each producing its own electrical signals. These combined signals generate oscillations known as brain waves, which can be measured by electroencephalography (EEG). The research team focused on EEG patterns from the prefrontal cortex —the seat of the brain’s executive control system — and the striatum, which controls habit formation.
    The phenomenon of brain-wave synchronization likely precedes the changes in synapses, or connections between neurons, believed to underlie learning and long-term memory formation, Miller says. That process, known as synaptic plasticity, is too time-consuming to account for the human mind’s flexibility, he believes.
    “If you can change your thoughts from moment to moment, you can’t be doing it by constantly making new connections and breaking them apart in your brain. Plasticity doesn’t happen on that kind of time scale,” says Miller, who is a member of MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory. “There’s got to be some way of dynamically establishing circuits to correspond to the thoughts we’re having in this moment, and then if we change our minds a moment later, those circuits break apart somehow. We think synchronized brain waves may be the way the brain does it.”
    The paper’s lead author is former Picower Institute postdoc Evan Antzoulatos, who is now at the University of California at Davis.
    Humming together
    Miller’s lab has previously shown that during category-learning, neurons in the striatum become active early, followed by slower activation of neurons in the prefrontal cortex. “The striatum learns very simple things really quickly, and then its output trains the prefrontal cortex to gradually pick up on the bigger picture,” Miller says. “The striatum learns the pieces of the puzzle, and then the prefrontal cortex puts the pieces of the puzzle together.”
    In the new study, the researchers wanted to investigate whether this activity pattern actually reflects communication between the prefrontal cortex and striatum, or if each region is working independently. To do this, they measured EEG signals as monkeys learned to assign patterns of dots into one of two categories.
    At first, the animals were shown just two different examples, or “exemplars,” from each category. After each round, the number of exemplars was doubled. In the early stages, the animals could simply memorize which exemplars belonged to each category. However, the number of exemplars eventually became too large for the animals to memorize all of them, and they began to learn the general traits that characterized each category.
    By the end of the experiment, when the researchers were showing 256 novel exemplars, the monkeys were able to categorize all of them correctly.
    As the monkeys shifted from rote memorization to learning the categories, the researchers saw a corresponding shift in EEG patterns. Brain waves known as “beta bands,” produced independently by the prefrontal cortex and the striatum, began to synchronize with each other. This suggests that a communication circuit is forming between the two regions, Miller says.
    “There is some unknown mechanism that allows these resonance patterns to form, and these circuits start humming together,” he says. “That humming may then foster subsequent long-term plasticity changes in the brain, so real anatomical circuits can form. But the first thing that happens is they start humming together.”
    A little later, as an animal nailed down the two categories, two separate circuits formed between the striatum and prefrontal cortex, each corresponding to one of the categories.
    “Expanding your knowledge”
    Previous studies have shown that during cognitively demanding tasks, there is increased synchrony between the frontal cortex and visual cortex, but Miller’s lab is the first to show specific patterns of synchrony linked to specific thoughts.
    Miller and Antzoulatos also showed that once the prefrontal cortex learns the categories and sends them to the striatum, they undergo further modification as new information comes in, allowing more expansive learning to take place. This iteration can occur over and over.
    “That’s how you get the open-ended nature of human thought. You keep expanding your knowledge,” Miller says. “The prefrontal cortex learning the categories isn’t the end of the game. The cortex is learning these new categories and then forming circuits that can send the categories down to the striatum as if it’s just brand-new material for the brain to elaborate on.”
    In follow-up studies, the researchers are now looking at how the brain learns more abstract categories, and how activity in the striatum and prefrontal cortex might reflect that type of abstraction.

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    Are You Collaborating Or Cooperating? The Answer Will Increasingly Influence Your Success

                                                                                                                                                       Thanks to rapid, game-changing innovations, the future is changing so fast that it has never been more important to work together with all business partners and customers to co-create a positive and profitable future together. The key to successfully co-creating is a strong focus on collaboration.
    As I travel around the world, I work with leaders in a wide variety of industries. I see auto manufacturers who say they are collaborating with parts manufacturers, distributors, and dealers. I see medical device manufacturers who say they are collaborating with distributors, hospitals, and insurance companies. And while almost all of them “say” they are collaborating, if you look at what they are really doing, they’re just cooperating. Pick any industry and you will find a similar story.
    Cooperating is a much lower level activity than collaborating. Knowing the difference can make all the difference in the results you get with your business partners.
    You cooperate because you have to; you collaborate because you want to. Cooperation is based on a scarcity mindset; it’s about protecting and defending your piece of the pie. Collaboration is based on an abundance mindset, working together to create a bigger pie for all.
    Collaboration is as different from cooperation as the word transformation is from change. When you and I cooperate, we work separately and make accommodations for each other. When we collaborate, we are not simply making room for each other’s creations; we are co-creating the future together.
    Collaboration is a function of genuine communication. The facilitated communication environment of the Internet becomes a productive cycle that amplifies itself: communication fuels collaboration, which fuels more communication, which fuels more collaboration.
    The open nature of the Internet, based as it is on standard protocols, has played a crucial role in enabling this shift to an abundance-oriented economy, as it allows any computer or other Net-enabled device, regardless of operating system, to participate in the global conversation. Likewise, a key to the growth of abundance power, in any industry or sector, is going to be the speed with which we can agree on universally shared standards. Universally accepted standards accelerate the adoption of new communication technologies and pathways, which in turn speeds growth and facilitates further collaboration.
    After 9/11, we saw the American intelligence community scramble frantically to create some kind of collaborative environment, where the CIA, FBI, NSA, and dozens of other intelligence agencies could begin to communicate with one another. Up until then, they had felt relatively safe and secure operating each in their own little information fiefdoms, where they could communicate with themselves but not with one another. Indeed, they saw themselves as being in hot competition with one another, and therefore it actually served (so they thought) their interests to be fairly opaque to one another. It was a classic scarcity-economy scenario. Since then, communications have improved and they are better at collaboration than before 9/11. Although, true collaboration is still a goal versus an accomplishment.
    As I mentioned earlier, a similar situation still exists within the health care community. There has been a lot of cooperation between competing players in the industry, but not true collaboration. It’s still protect and defend, fiefdoms and egos, legacy thinking—all the things that keep abundance from happening. The only way forward is to stop cooperating and start collaborating, bringing together all the major players—the insurance companies, hospitals, medical supply houses, and everyone else involved in every aspect of health care delivery—to work together to reinvent health care itself.
    The same could be true for any industry. By working together to create a bigger pie for all, we can discover new opportunities and grow economies that benefit everyone.

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    5 Things You Didn't Know About Stress

    We all experience varying levels and lengths of stress, triggered by an array of scenarios – some logical, others not. Managing this powerful emotional and physiological response to adverse or demanding circumstances comes more naturally to some, but can certainly be taught to even the most nervous of them all. The first step to controlling stress is to know your own personal anxiety, down to its deepest core. What causes your stress? What alleviates it? What affect is it having on your mind and body and what can you do to stop it?
    To assist you on your journey of stress-discovery, here are five truths about stress that you may not know – but definitely need to be made aware of.

    1. Stress is contagious.

    Anyone interacting with someone who’s stressed, especially for prolonged periods of time, has an increased risk of being affected by empathetic stress. Caregivers and family members of chronically stressed individuals are most at risk here, but even watching TV shows involving confrontations of stress can transmit the tension. This empathetic stress negatively impacts the immune system and is toxic to the mind and body in the long term. Know your limits when it comes to how much stress you can healthily expose yourself to. Also, be cognizant of how your worry may be negatively impacting those around you.
    If you reach out to a sorrowful friend, a mourning parent, or a downhearted colleague who has suffered a sudden reversal of fortune or fate, be careful not to be overcome yourself by the apparent hardship. Remember to discriminate events themselves and your interpretations of them. It is not a demonstration of kindness or friendship to the people we care about to join them in surrendering to negative feelings. We do a better service to ourselves and others by remaining detached and avoiding unnecessary emotional reactions.
    Still, if you are associated with someone who is depressed, stressed or hurt, show them kindness and give them a sympathetic ear; just don’t allow yourself to be pulled down.

    2. Stress is detrimental to Sperm.

    Stress can and will seep into every facet of your life if you let it, including the bedroom. Stressed men are found to have fewer, slower sperm, which can diminish fertility. While not conclusive yet as to how stress affects the quality of semen, it is possible that stress may trigger steroid hormones known to blunt levels of testosterone and sperm production.

    3. Two stressed people equals less stress.

    Seems counterintuitive, yes. But, when especially stressed, it is extremely helpful to share your feelings with someone who is having a similar anxious reaction to the same situation. Consider giving a presentation at work – perhaps nothing will ease your stress more than talking it out with a colleague who is undergoing the same scenario. Studies show that there is tremendous benefit gained by conversing with others whose emotional response is in line with your own.

    4. Optimists are better at regulating stress.

    A glass-half-full mentality may be the ticket to a more stress-free life. The “stress hormone” cortisol tends to be more stable for those with positive personalities. Pessimists have difficulty regulating their emotional and physical responses to particularly stressful situations.Optimists tend to be more solution-oriented and thus better react to the stress hormone – allowing it to amplify their get-up-and-go attitudes.

    5. Not all stress is bad.

    While stress is oftentimes the enemy, we can’t ignore its ability to push us to optimal alertness and performance. Short, but significant bouts of stress cause our brains to proliferate new nerve cells that improve mental performance. Stress hormones are an incredible adaptation that provide us with the ability to remember not only anxiety-ridden situations themselves, but more importantly, how will dealt with them – ingraining us with the power of resiliency, allowing us to be ready for whatever life may throw our way. Like most things in life, stress is only beneficial in small doses. Chronic stress leads to increased risk of chronic obesity, heart disease and depression.

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    Tesla wants to kill gasoline by sharing its electric car technology with everyone

    In an attempt to spur innovation, Tesla Motors says that it will allow anyone to use its patented technology on electric vehicles — even its biggest competitors. In a blog post, company CEO Elon Musk says that Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone using its technology "in good faith." He's made this decision in part because the electric vehicle landscape is so limited right now, with these vehicles representing less than one percent of major automakers' sales. Musk also believes that the current patent system often serves to stifle innovation and bolster large corporations, rather than helping out individual inventors.
    "Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport," Musk writes. "If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal."
    Musk says that Tesla no longer sees other automakers' electric vehicles as its competition, but is instead focused on the millions of gas vehicles still shipping. Allowing others to use Tesla's patents — and potentially being able to use the patents of others in the future, should they follow suit — might make the electric vehicle landscape evolve far more quickly, making them more appealing purchases.
    When Tesla started out, Musk writes, "We felt compelled to create patents out of concern that the big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla. We couldn’t have been more wrong."
    In announcing Tesla's new stance on patents, Musk cites the open source movement. It's a position that other major companies have begun to take too, including Twitter, which says it will only use patents defensively, and Google, which is following in Twitter's footsteps but with only a small, small chunk of its patents for now. Still, industry leaders are beginning to push back against the constant drama over patents and the patent system at large. It doesn't indicate that immediate change is coming, but having major patent holders on board certainly makes the field safer for inventors big and small.

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    Student Entrepreneurship in India: Coming of Age

    Student entrepreneurship in India is showing signs of maturing, though a lot of work still needs to be done. The good news is that the ecosystem will evolve considerably in the next few years.
    They are full of drive and passion. They have set their sights high. They are confident; many are even cocky. They want to build something. They are resourceful. They want to start early – “Why wait till I’m 40, when I can do it at 22?” In their early twenties, they are already founders of companies.
    Most importantly, they want to make a difference.
    They are the student entrepreneurs of today. They are an important part of India’s socio-economic story. And, they are steadily increasing in number.
    Sample this:
    • While business plan competitions have always existed in B Schools, there is today a new seriousness and focus with which these competitions are being approached by the participating students. While earlier these competitions were simply meant to broaden the mental horizons of the average student of management, today, they form a vital first step in the journey of many an aspiring student entrepreneur. 
    • The number of entries to the NEN First Dot competition (an all-India platform meant exclusively for student entrepreneurs) has been increasing year on year. 
    • Newspapers like Mint and The Economic Times devote many column spaces to student start-ups.
    So, what prompts these youngsters to forgo the financial security that comes with a job, and take the plunge so early in life? I think the answers lie in a combination of the following key factors:
    More and more youngsters are looking at becoming their own bosses and not working for someone else. These assertive youngsters want to set their life-agenda themselves. 

    Information technology has had a big role to play in empowering aspiring young entrepreneurs and emboldening them to take the plunge. In a single sweep, IT and its most influential offspring, the internet, have brought down the cost of doing business, brought scattered resources within the reach of an entrepreneur and fundamentally changed the contours of the term ‘market’. 

    Creativity has become more democratized. More and more youngsters from widely different backgrounds are coming up with ideas and innovations that they believe will seed and sustain enterprises. And, they are bold enough to test these ideas out in the market.

    Youngsters of today are confident that even if their venture does not succeed, they can get a job without too great a struggle. With time on their side and many years to go before they get married and are saddled with financial commitments, this is the right age in which to start chasing their dreams.

    Most importantly, youth is the time when one’s energy, imagination and inclination to take risks are at their highest levels. The mind is at its fertile best. It ranges freely and fearlessly, egging one on to take the plunge.
    The trend (of youngsters striking out on their own) is not limited to the IITs and IIMs.
    Interestingly, this trend (of youngsters striking out on their own) is not limited to the IITs and IIMs. It goes way beyond these premier institutes. In several small, unknown colleges in the big cities and small towns of India, youngsters are eager to set up their own ventures the minute they pass out of college. Moreover, we are seeing several youngsters getting into interesting domains like renewable energy, education, ethnic handicrafts, legal services, etc.  
    Mentors and investors are also willing to support young entrepreneurs.
    I think this trend will gather momentum in the coming years.
    However, in many ways, the student entrepreneurship movement is still nascent in India.
    For instance, while many more youngsters are taking the plunge, most of them are not fully aware of the various practical issues, opportunities, challenges and pitfalls that can be expected in growing a venture.
    Also, they do not know how to scientifically validate a business idea, flesh it out and take it to market. In addition, several myths and half-truths are floating around about entrepreneurship – which confuses them even further.
    And so, while we should celebrate student entrepreneurs for their guts, determination and passion, we must also understand that they need encouragement, support and guidance in setting up and running an enterprise. In other words, they need a stronger ecosystem.
    College managements have a big role to play in ensuring that more high-quality enterprises are born within campuses. As of now however, most colleges are far from being strong sources of support to student entrepreneurs.
    While many colleges have set up E-Cells (Entrepreneurship Cells), these have, by and large, not yet become strong incubation centers that provide holistic support to an entrepreneur and helps him/her commercialize the venture. Many of them merely pay lip service to entrepreneurship.
    The good news is that a few forward-thinking colleges are showing the way by setting up reasonably strong entrepreneurial ecosystems and connecting budding entrepreneurs to resources in the market. The Technology Business Incubators (TBIs) set up by the Department of Science and Technology of the GOI have helped in this effort to some extent. Other colleges have to follow suit.
    One hopes that more robust, sustainable student start-ups emerge soon across different business domains in India. That could really ignite India’s economic growth!
    Image credit : wikiHow

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    7 surprising charts about technology and media today

    Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers put together this big presentation on investment opportunities in the contemporary technology space. It contains a number of fascinating charts mixed in with the bullet points and such. These seven are the most striking and important, not just from an investment point of view but simply as a way to understand the world we're really living in today.

    1. There's no sign of a bubble in VC funding

    Screen_shot_2014-05-31_at_4.37.51_pmNeither the number of companies getting funding nor the total amount of funding offered is particularly unusual.

    2. Mobile punches way below its weight in ad spending

    Screen_shot_2014-05-31_at_4.51.38_pmTV and especially print continue to attract a level of ad spending that's out of proportion to audience engagement. Meanwhile, everyone's glued to their phones all the time and nobody's ponying up money to reach them.

    3. IPO's still haven't really recovered from the financial crisis

    Forget the dot-com boom. Except for the huge 2012 Facebook IPO, we still aren't back to where we were before the financial crisis.

    4. Streaming is the new owning

    Even the relatively new technology of digital music downloads is already in decline in the face of the streaming juggernaut.

    5. Smartphones are getting really cheap

    US media coverage continues to be dominated by the top-end phones from Apple and Samsung, but globally average prices are falling and smartphone technology is becoming accessible to more and more people in low- and middle-income countries.

    6. Smartphones are insanely popular

    There were a series of "tablets are dead" stories earlier this year when it became clear that tablets are much less popular than smartphones, but in context it's clear that this is about the appeal of phones rather than the lack of appeal of tablets.

    7. America isn't indispensable

    Screen_shot_2014-05-31_at_5.12.19_pmFour of the top ten internet properties don't exist in the United States at all.

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    About the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship

    The Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between 11 of America's most inspiring and prominent entrepreneurs, the White House, the Department of Commerce, and our Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development partners.
    Our goal is to harness their energy, ideas, and experience to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs both at home and abroad.
    Established by the Department of Commerce, PAGE is a group of successful American businesspeople eager to share their knowledge and experience to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs at home and abroad.  Members have agreed to participate in an ongoing dialogue with policy makers globally, acting as goodwill ambassadors in discussions about how to create an environment where creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship can grow and thrive.  They will also participate in outreach and mentorship activities to help promote start-up culture, and energize their own personal and professional networks to challenge and inspire budding entrepreneurs and raise awareness of the many resources available to them. They will work with Entrepreneurs Across Borders, an UP Global initiative, that will connect highly successful entrepreneurs with hundreds of cities in the United States and around the world to help spark grassroots 
    startup growth.

    View at the original source

    Entrepreneurial Ambassadors

    Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, Zillow
    Chief Executive Officer, Tory Burch; Founder Tory Burch Foundation
    Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Revolution
    Chief Executive Officer, CyPhyWorks
    Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, LinkedIn
    Chief Executive Officer, Quincy Jones Productions
    Founder and Executive Director, Khan Academy
    Co-Founder and President, Coursera
    Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Chobani
    Chief Executive Officer, Pinnacle Technical Resources

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  • 06/15/14--19:48: Social Progress Index

    MEASURING NATIONAL PROGRESS – To truly advance social progress, we must learn to measure it, comprehensively and rigorously. The Social Progress Index offers a rich framework for measuring the multiple dimensions of social progress, benchmarking success, and catalyzing greater human wellbeing. The 2014 version of the Social Progress Index has improved upon the 2013 ‘beta’ version through generous feedback from many observers. We continue to welcome your use and testing of our data, and feedback to help us continue to improve. Please watch our short video on the results of the Social Progress Index 2014. Please find our publications here.

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  • 06/15/14--20:06: The Start-Up of You 06-16

  • The Start-Up of You

    The rise in the unemployment rate last month to 9.2 percent has Democrats and Republicans reliably falling back on their respective cure-alls. It is evidence for liberals that we need more stimulus and for conservatives that we need more tax cuts to increase demand. I am sure there is truth in both, but I do not believe they are the whole story. I think something else, something new — something that will require our kids not so much to find their next job as to invent their next job — is also influencing today’s job market more than people realize.

    Look at the news these days from the most dynamic sector of the U.S. economy — Silicon Valley. Facebook is now valued near $100 billion, Twitter at $8 billion, Groupon at $30 billion, Zynga at $20 billion and LinkedIn at $8 billion. These are the fastest-growing Internet/social networking companies in the world, and here’s what’s scary: You could easily fit all their employees together into the 20,000 seats in Madison Square Garden, and still have room for grandma. They just don’t employ a lot of people, relative to their valuations, and while they’re all hiring today, they are largely looking for talented engineers.

    Indeed, what is most striking when you talk to employers today is how many of them have used the pressure of the recession to become even more productive by deploying more automation technologies, software, outsourcing, robotics — anything they can use to make better products with reduced head count and health care and pension liabilities. That is not going to change. And while many of them are hiring, they are increasingly picky. They are all looking for the same kind of people — people who not only have the critical thinking skills to do the value-adding jobs that technology can’t, but also people who can invent, adapt and reinvent their jobs every day, in a market that changes faster than ever.
    Today’s college grads need to be aware that the rising trend in Silicon Valley is to evaluate employees every quarter, not annually. Because the merger of globalization and the I.T. revolution means new products are being phased in and out so fast that companies cannot afford to wait until the end of the year to figure out whether a team leader is doing a good job.
    Whatever you may be thinking when you apply for a job today, you can be sure the employer is asking this: Can this person add value every hour, every day — more than a worker in India, a robot or a computer? Can he or she help my company adapt by not only doing the job today but also reinventing the job for tomorrow? And can he or she adapt with all the change, so my company can adapt and export more into the fastest-growing global markets? In today’s hyperconnected world, more and more companies cannot and will not hire people who don’t fulfill those criteria.
    But you would never know that from listening to the debate in Washington, where some Democrats still tend to talk about job creation as if it’s the 1960s and some Republicans as if it’s the 1980s. But this is not your parents’ job market.
    This is precisely why LinkedIn’s founder, Reid Garrett Hoffman, one of the premier starter-uppers in Silicon Valley — besides co-founding LinkedIn, he is on the board of Zynga, was an early investor in Facebook and sits on the board of Mozilla — has a book coming out after New Year called “The Start-Up of You,” co-authored with Ben Casnocha. Its subtitle could easily be: “Hey, recent graduates! Hey, 35-year-old midcareer professional! Here’s how you build your career today.”
    Hoffman argues that professionals need an entirely new mind-set and skill set to compete. “The old paradigm of climb up a stable career ladder is dead and gone,” he said to me. “No career is a sure thing anymore. The uncertain, rapidly changing conditions in which entrepreneurs start companies is what it’s now like for all of us fashioning a career. Therefore you should approach career strategy the same way an entrepreneur approaches starting a business.”
    To begin with, Hoffman says, that means ditching a grand life plan. Entrepreneurs don’t write a 100-page business plan and execute it one time; they’re always experimenting and adapting based on what they learn.
    It also means using your network to pull in information and intelligence about where the growth opportunities are — and then investing in yourself to build skills that will allow you to take advantage of those opportunities. Hoffman adds: “You can’t just say, ‘I have a college degree, I have a right to a job, now someone else should figure out how to hire and train me.’ ” You have to know which industries are working and what is happening inside them and then “find a way to add value in a way no one else can. For entrepreneurs it’s differentiate or die — that now goes for all of us.”
    Finally, you have to strengthen the muscles of resilience. “You may have seen the news that [the] online radio service Pandora went public the other week,” Hoffman said. “What’s lesser known is that in the early days [the founder] pitched his idea more than 300 times to V.C.’s with no luck.”

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    How Valuable is a Degree in Engineering & Design?

    In a word, VERY. There was a time, not too long ago, when there were multiple ways of becoming an engineer. Since the law changed a few decades ago, a person without a degree or a PE can't offer engineering services as an engineer to the public. However, when I started my career, the engineers I thought were the most helpful and knowledgeable didn't have an engineering degree. 

    They were schooled by themselves, supplemented with courses and on the job learning. That's when I decided to take the quick route to becoming an engineer. I took many courses, all of them pertaining to engineering or mathematics, whatever I needed to learn or thought I needed. Driven by a thirst for knowledge I absorbed everything like a sponge. Having had an aptitude for electronics, I knew I needed physics courses so I could understand the theory behind why a circuit behaves in a particular way. In the end, I learned several important things. 1- you never stop learning, if you want to stay successful in a technical field. 2- The drive and enjoyment from successfully completing a project is a source of personal pride that drives me to continue learning 3- I spent more time and energy learning everything than if I had just stayed in college and received my degrees.

    This brings up an interesting question. Does a degreed engineer make for a better engineer? In most cases no. I've met some degreed engineers who can't design and don't understand basics. I am always amazed how some of them graduated. Yet some are also PEs. By the same measurement, I know that most self taught designers don't understand the theory behind solving for a specific measurement or component value. Things that are important to calculate when using anything in the real world. And yet, when I find creative individuals, even in business today, I find that the vast majority of them are self taught. Self study is as important as that degree.
     Without it one only has the work that was assigned without any real application or out of the box thinking. In essence, formalized schooling, in my opinion, hinders creativity. It's all very personalized, different with everyone. I suppose this comes down to drive, motivation and the enjoyment one has at his or her craft. If you enjoy what you do, you are more prone to read up and further your knowledge on your own. The complete opposite of those who rely solely on their diploma to entitle them to employment, the elitists. The academia lot who judge someone based solely on the number of diplomas on a wall. These people are usually baffled when a person like myself lands a job over them.
    The answer is, for everyone, it isn't what you learned or where you learned it. It's what you can do with that knowledge and what you've done to prove it. When I hire someone, I look for self learning and achievements outside of school. I need people who can be creative and think outside of the box. More and more employers are looking for that same thing. Several years ago I was hired by a well known large corporation with many government contracts. I was design lead for a significant portion of a security project. 
    There I assisted and taught many subordinate engineers, many of whom had either a masters or doctorate in an engineering discipline. I rarely shared my schooling level with peers. When I did, every person was amazed, thinking I had at least a master's level diploma. Maybe I do have the same knowledge as a masters, but without that diploma I have to prove myself with each and every new project or position I've had throughout my career. It's a sure bet that staying in school would have made my life much easier.
    If I had it to do over again, I would have stayed in school to get my engineering degree. It is much more difficult to prove one's knowledge without that diploma. Even today when I have patents under my belt, and a track record of high profile completed design projects for well known clients, I still face challenges. I thought I took the easy way. It may have been shorter to the first job as an engineer, but it was certainly not the easy way.
     If I did not take all of the courses I did, and had not experienced college for as long as I did, things would have proven much more difficult than it was. School taught me where to look for answers, how to find information. But the application of the knowledge I gained was radically formed through my own drive for knowledge. This isn't reserved for non-graduates. It's reserved for those with a passion for what they do or want to do. Get your degree. And have fun at your profession. If you don't you are in the wrong field.

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    The Key to Retaining Employees After an Acquisition

    I’ve been the CEO of three start-ups, two of which have been acquired by great companies (Yahoo and Google). What I’ve learned about keeping a team cohesive after an acquisition is that ultimately, it’s not what you do to try to retain everyone — after an acquisition you can only do so much — but about the type of people that you choose to hire in the first place.

    Leading my first company, Dialpad, taught me that no one person is more important than the whole. After the dot-com bubble burst, we took a hit, like the rest of the industry. This forced us to make tough decisions about who we could keep on to help us regain our footing. In the end, it came down to who would put the team – rather than themselves – first. Every company has “rock stars” who end up leaving, and most of the time those companies survive and even prosper. Two years after Dialpad was acquired by Yahoo, Vincent Paquet, my VP of Business Development, and I decided to launch another company, GrandCentral, and we recruited many of the same people who had brought this “no one is bigger than the team” attitude to Dialpad. Every start-up faces a crisis, and when that happens, the selfless people are the people you want working for you.
    As GrandCentral started growing, we were presented with a new challenge: adding new members to an already successful team without disrupting the balance.
    To do that, I viewed every potential hire on two scales: skill and will. The smartest person in the world isn’t a good hire if he or she doesn’t have the will to do the hard work. This strategy paid off: after 18 months, our incredibly hard-working GrandCentral team sold the company to Google, where it became Google Voice.
    When we left Google in 2011 and started UberConference, I learned a third lesson about hiring great talent: look for people who like start-ups. This might sound obvious, but it’s something that too many job applicants (and entrepreneurs) overlook. Working at an early-
    stage company is really different from working from an established corporation. Some of our employees have joined us from Google, Microsoft, Cisco, and YouTube – really successful companies with good pay, great benefits, generous stock grants, and awesome cultures.
    They just didn’t want to be one in 100,000 employees. They wanted to play a major part in shaping a smaller, but more nimble organization. That’s the kind of team member you want to bring with you when you head a startup: someone who wants to be a major part of the future of a company. So that’s become my third criterion for a great hire: the people who understand that you only get a few chances in life to do something special. People who want the freedom – and the responsibility – to work on projects that get launched quickly, to make the key decisions, and play a big part in getting them done.
    Selfless, hardworking people who want responsibility are what makes a start-up special. They’re also really hard to find. However, once you are able to pull together a strong core group of team members, it will be much easier to expand. At UberConference, we know how great our current employees are and we trust that they can recognize others who are equally talented and motivated. Therefore, we encourage our team members to refer former colleagues when we have openings.
    We do also recruit outside of our employees’ networks. We contact folks who’ve recently distinguished themselves, like winning a competitive hackathon (as some of our programmers have) or writing a blog post that showed impressive writing skills or technical knowledge (like some on our marketing team). And like lots of other companies, we recruit on social networks like LinkedIn. While we have relied on a core group since Dialpad was acquired by Yahoo!, extremely valuable team members have joined since.
    When you are acquired, keeping a team together is as much about what you do before and after the acquisition as what you do during it. If you hire the right team and strategically add to it when needed then you will have a group that will consistently take you to where you want to be.

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    Bill and Melinda Gates wearing 'nerd' glasses
    Commencement speakers Bill and Melinda Gates briefly donned 'nerd glasses' and Melinda told the Class of 2014: 'Some people call you nerds - and you claim the label with pride.' Added Bill: 'Well, so do we.' (Photo: L. A. Cicero)

    Bill and Melinda Gates tell Stanford grads: Channel empathy with optimism

    At Stanford's 123rd Commencement, Bill and Melinda Gates, co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, urged graduates to change the world through optimism and empathy. Truly connect with the poor and sick, they advised, and channel those experiences into making the world a better place.
    2014 Commencement weekend in pictures

    Video by Kurt Hickman
    Highlights of Bill and Melinda Gates' Commencement address
    At Stanford's 123rd Commencement, Bill and Melinda Gates, co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, challenged Stanford graduates to change the world by channeling empathy with optimism.
    Technological innovation is important, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates told a sea of Stanford graduates on a breezy Sunday morning in Stanford Stadium. But technology for technology's sake alone creates a dilemma.
    "If rich kids got computers and poor kids didn't, then technology would make inequality worse," he said. "Technology should benefit everybody."
    The Gateses delivered Stanford's first joint Commencement address. They spoke of the "digital divide" between rich and poor, and their heart-wrenching experiences with the poor and sick in places like South Africa and India.
    The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the world's most influential philanthropic organizations involved in reducing poverty, boosting global health and improving the U.S. educational system.
    "My visit to Soweto [South Africa] became an early lesson in how naïve I was. I had seen statistics on poverty, but I had never really seen poverty," Bill Gates said. In Soweto, he witnessed people living in tin shacks with no electricity, no running water and no toilets.
    He realized that innovation alone could not solve the world's toughest problems. Empathy and compassion for the poor, sick and needy was just as important. So the couple began funding programs that make a difference – such as one that improved the survival rate of a deadly form of tuberculosis from 50 percent to 80 percent.
    Over the last 10 years, Melinda Gates added, the foundation has helped sex workers build support groups, speak out for safe sex and fight the scourge of AIDS. "The stigma of AIDS is vicious – especially for women – and the punishment is abandonment," she said.
    Her husband told the students not to turn away from the poor and sick.
    "Even in dire situations, optimism can fuel innovation and lead to new tools to eliminate suffering. But if you never really see the people who are suffering, your optimism can't help them. You will never change their world," he said.
    The 2014 Commencement ceremony began with Stanford's nontraditional procession called the Wacky Walk. To kick off the festivities, students entered the stadium wearing costumes, holding banners and balloons and waving signs, both goofy and sentimental.
    Stanford granted 1,687 bachelor's degrees, 2,313 master's degrees and 1,006 doctoral degrees. The graduates include 135 undergraduate students from 51 countries outside the United States and 1,113 graduate students from 83 countries other than the United States.
    "The modern world is an incredible source of innovation and Stanford stands at the center of that, creating new companies, new schools of thought, prize-winning professors, inspired art and literature, miracle drugs and amazing graduates," said Bill Gates.
    Melinda Gates added, "Some people call you nerds – and you claim the label with pride."
    "Well, so do we," the couple declared, as they momentarily donned stereotypical "nerd" glasses held together with tape.
    About Stanford, Bill Gates said, "This is where genius lives. There is a flexibility of mind here – an openness to change, an eagerness for what's new. This is where people come to discover the future and have fun doing it."
    The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has 30 research projects underway at Stanford on a variety of topics, from studying how to cure the worst diseases to helping more low-income students go to college.
    Bill Gates noted that empathy "tears down barriers and opens up new frontiers for optimism."
    As for Stanford's newly minted graduates, he told them that they, too, will encounter serious human suffering one day.
    "When it happens, and it will, don't turn away from it; turn toward it," he said.

    Parents, students filled with pride

    "The faculty were amazing," said Jack Detzner from Silver Springs, Maryland. His son, Adam Stob Detzner, graduated with honors and a bachelor's degree in music. "This was truly a chance for him to grow," said his dad.
    Frederica Ferrell's son, Paul Ferrell, graduated with a master's degree in public policy. "This was a great education for him," his mom said.
    Paul Ferrell added, "The professors are incredible and world class. I just want to thank everyone who helped get me here today."
    Samuel Bakouch earned a master's degree in management science and engineering. He was motivated by the Stanford environment, he said: "The people here, the spirit here – everybody's really open. It's exciting today."
    Stanford President John L. Hennessy and Provost John Etchemendy spoke to the crowd and conferred the degrees to the students.
    "As you leave Stanford, I hope you carry a deep appreciation of the values and traditions that are everlasting as well as a willingness to be bold and to approach challenges with a fresh perspective," said Hennessy.
    He noted that Stanford's first president, David Starr Jordan, spoke of the balancing of the old and the new in the Stanford educational approach and building a "school which may last as long as human civilization."
    Hennessy added, "Today, 123 years later, we have established some traditions, but we have not forgotten President Jordan's exhortation."
    Hennessy also paid tribute to Herbert Hoover, a Stanford alumnus and the 31st president of the United States. He led the cause of Belgian food relief in World War I and spearheaded a similar hunger effort in Germany after WWII.
    "A compassionate man, he never sought recognition for his many acts of generosity," said Hennessy.

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    Zen Buddhist priest urges Stanford graduates to cultivate spiritual practices

    Baccalaureate speaker Zoketsu Norman Fischer told graduates that their promising lives would be filled with challenges, but love and a regular spiritual practice that has no agenda would bolster them for the journey ahead.
    Video by Kurt Hickman
    Baccalaureate, a multifaith celebration during Commencement weekend, featured spiritual songs and readings from a variety of traditions.
    Addressing the Class of 2014, Zoketsu Norman Fischer, a Zen Buddhist priest and poet, urged Stanford graduates to cultivate regular spiritual practices to survive the difficult human journey of life with their "hearts intact" and their "love generous and bright."
    Fischer, who spoke Saturday morning in the Main Quad at Baccalaureate, a multifaith celebration for graduating students and their families and friends, titled his address, "How to Survive Your Promising Life."
    Fischer, the founder of the Everyday Zen Foundation, said the defining characteristic of a spiritual practice is that it must be "useless, absolutely useless."
    "You've been doing lots of good things for lots of good reasons for a long time now," he said, "for your physical health, your psychological health, your emotional health, for your family life, for your future success, for your economic life, for your community, for your world. But a spiritual practice is useless. It doesn't address any of those concerns. It's a practice that we do to touch our lives beyond all concerns – to reach beyond our lives to their source."
    Fischer, a former abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center, the oldest and largest Buddhist institution in the West, said his practice for many years has been simply to sit in silence.
    He said spiritual practices come from love, encourage love and produce more love. They require imagination and are unlimited in their variety.
    "Whether or not you believe in God, you could pray," he said. "You can contemplate spiritual texts or art, poetry, sacred music. You could just walk quietly on the Earth as a spiritual practice. You could gaze at the landscape or the sea or the sky. A little tip: If you're ever in trouble, look up at the sky for a few minutes and you'll feel better."
    Among the other spiritual practices Fischer offered was compassion – going toward, rather than turning away from, the suffering of others and your own suffering.
    "Can you become softened and brought to wisdom by the unavoidable pain of yourself or others?" he asked.
    Or you could practice gratitude, he said. He recommended that the first thing graduates do each morning is "train yourself to close your eyes, just be quiet for a moment, and say softly to yourself the word 'grateful,' and see what comes into your mind."
    Fisher urged the graduates to think seriously about creating spiritual practices, but not without a certain amount of joy and lightness.
    "Today you are hurtling out of heaven," he said. "Where in the world will you land? When you get there, what in the world are you going to do? What is really worthwhile and what is just a distraction – no matter how much people tell you it's not? This is not a simple thing. You're going to have to figure these things out. Nobody but you can do that."
    The Baccalaureate celebration opened with a solemn Buddhist call to prayer performed on a singing bowl and ended with a dramatic drumming blessing, Tatsumaki (Whirlwind), performed by Stanford Taiko.
    In between there was an invocation, "A Prayer of the Ojibway Nation"; a benediction; and two readings: "I Have Learned So Much," by Hafiz of Shiraz, and a Zen-inspired translation of Psalm 124 by Fischer.
    Stanford Talisman, a student a cappella group, performed two songs, "Wanting Memories," a song of the African diaspora, and "One by One," a Xhosa song that was inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement.

    Student reflection

    Senior Konstantine Buhler, who offered the student reflection, began his address by singing a chant: May their memory be eternal.
    Buhler, who majored in management science and engineering and minored in art history and computer science, said those are the words of grief and loss of a loved one in the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church.
    "When these words are sung in my church, they bring my grandmother to tears," he said. "They make my mother feel pain and my father cringe. These words bring a vein to my uncle's forehead and a frown to my sister's beautiful face. They burn. But as the chant concludes, they soothe and elevate us."
    Buhler said that in his religion, when someone "falls asleep into eternity," or dies, "it is the honor of those still living to carry on his or her memory, to ensure that his or her memory is eternal."
    He asked the graduates to meditate with him, or pray, around three memories.
    First, Buhler asked them to open their hearts and remember a loved one who was not present at Baccalaureate.
    "Yes, there are only 4,000 seats in the Quad, but physical constraints do not apply to heaven or jannah or olam ha-ba," he said. "Take a moment and remember these people. Close your eyes and picture them sitting next to you. See that loved one smile. She's so happy. He's so proud. May their memory be eternal."
    Buhler also asked the graduates to remember Leland Stanford Jr., who died of typhoid fever when he was only 15 years old, and to remember Jane and Leland Stanford, who built the university in memory of their only child.
    Finally, he asked the graduates to shut their eyes once more and remember their time at Stanford, a chapter of their lives that was closing all too quickly.
    "Yes, countless hours in the library," he said. "And yes, lots of struggle. But now, let us select what we will bring with us to eternal memory. Let us bring the love and the kindness and the peace that we have experienced on this 'gloriously paradisaical' campus. Let us leave behind any pain. Let us bring the warmth of our friends' embraces and, of course, of the California sun. Let us hold onto the knowledge that we fought for and the friendships that we built. And of course, look around you; let us bring the jubilant memories of the loved ones who surround us today in pride and joy and love. May these memories be eternal."

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    The Neuro-chemistry of Positive Conversations

    Why do negative comments and conversations stick with us so much longer than positive ones?
    A critique from a boss, a disagreement with a colleague, a fight with a friend – the sting from any of these can make you forget a month’s worth of praise or accord. If you’ve been called lazy, careless, or a disappointment, you’re likely to remember and internalize it. It’s somehow easier to forget, or discount, all the times people have said you’re talented or conscientious or that you make them proud.
    Chemistry plays a big role in this phenomenon. When we face criticism, rejection or fear, when we feel marginalized or minimized, our bodies produce higher levels of cortisol, a hormone that shuts down the thinking center of our brains and activates conflict aversion and protection behaviors. We become more reactive and sensitive. We often perceive even greater judgment and negativity than actually exists. And these effects can last for 26 hours or more, imprinting the interaction on our memories and magnifying the impact it has on our future behavior. Cortisol functions like a sustained-release tablet – the more we ruminate about our fear, the longer the impact.
    Positive comments and conversations produce a chemical reaction too. They spur the production of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that elevates our ability to communicate, collaborate and trust others by activating networks in our prefrontal cortex. But oxytocin metabolizes more quickly than cortisol, so its effects are less dramatic and long-lasting.
    This “chemistry of conversations” is why it’s so critical for all of us –especially managers – to be more mindful about our interactions. Behaviors that increase cortisol levels reduce what I call “Conversational Intelligence” or “C-IQ,” or a person’s ability to connect and think innovatively, empathetically, creatively and strategically with others. Behaviors that spark oxytocin, by contrast, raise C-IQ.
    Over the past 30 years, I’ve helped leaders at companies including Boehringer Ingelheim, Clairol, Donna Karen, Exide Technologies, Burberry, and Coach learn to boost performance with better C-IQ. Recently, my consultancy, The CreatingWE Institute, also partnered with Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics, the world’s largest online survey software company, to analyze the frequency of negative (cortisol-producing) versus positive (oxytocin-producing) interactions in today’s workplaces.
     We asked managers how often they engaged in several behaviors — some positive, and others negative — on a scale of 0 through 5, in which 0 was “never” and 5 was “always.”
    Conversational Behavior Chart
    The good news is that managers appear to be using positive, oxytocin and C-IQ elevating behaviors more often than negative behaviors. Survey respondents said that they exhibited all five positive behaviors, such as “showing concern for others” more frequently than all five negative ones, such as “pretending to be listening.” 
    However, most respondents – approximately 85% — also admitted to “sometimes” acting in ways that could derail not only specific interactions but also future relationships. And, unfortunately, when leaders exhibit both types of behaviors it creates dissonance or uncertainty in followers’ brains, spurring cortisol production and reducing CI-Q.
    Consider Rob, a senior executive from Verizon. He thought of himself as a “best practices” leader who told people what to do, set clear goals, and challenged his team to produce high quality results. But when one of his direct reports had a minor heart attack, and three others asked HR to move to be transferred off his team, he realized there was a problem.
    Observing Rob’s conversational patterns for a few weeks, I saw clearly that the negative (cortisol-producing) behaviors easily outweighed the positive (oxytocin-producing) behaviors. Instead of asking questions to stimulate discussion, showing concern for others, and painting a compelling picture of shared success, his tendency was to tell and sell his ideas, entering most discussions with a fixed opinion, determined to convince others he was right. He was not open to others’ influence; he failed to listen to connect.
    When I explained this to Rob, and told him about the chemical impact his behavior was having on his employees, he vowed to change, and it worked. A few weeks later, a member of his team even asked me: “What did you give my boss to drink?”
    I’m not suggesting that you can’t ever demand results or deliver difficult feedback. But it’s important to do so in a way that is perceived as inclusive and supportive, thereby limiting cortisol production and hopefully stimulating oxytocin instead. Be mindful of the behaviors that open us up, and those that close us down, in our relationships. Harness the chemistry of conversations.

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    BIG DATA SUCCESS: the sweet spot between uptime and bottom line

    When CMOs and CIOs play nicely together, magic happens, and the chances of achieving a sustainable competitive advantage from data analytics are dramatically improved. However, when the lingering indoctrinated divide between these two previously discrete disciplines isn’t addressed then it’s probably time to start updating your CV…
    It's not exactly breaking news that data analytics is a rapidly exploding field within Australian businesses, with different organisations and industries across the country at different stages of maturity. ADMA estimate that around 30% of Australian businesses are currently at some point on the big data continuum between data discovery and data commercialisation.
    The potential value of all of the data available to enterprises and SME’s cannot be underestimated; fact is, in our Information Age the competitive advantage will rest with those businesses who are best able to harness their data in order to make real-time decisions that protect their customer base and grow market share. With this in mind, why is it then that only 30% of businesses are taking action with their data?
    In November last year, Hitachi Data Systems Corporation (HDS) released a survey of Australian and New Zealand businesses which revealed that, despite our eagerness to implement big data projects, we still had a couple of genuine hurdles to overcome. The first issue is an organisations big data strategic skills, the second issue is its quality of internal communication.
    According to Neville Vincent, senior vice president and general manager, HDS APAC who commissioned the “The Hype and the Hope: The Road to Big Data Adoption in Asia-Pacific” report, the key challenge for organisations hoping to generate returns from big data was acquiring the right skill sets and managing communication better across the enterprise and between departments.
    One of the most common examples of poor cross-departmental communication on big data projects is seen when you consider the recently emerged organisational imperative of achieving a Single Customer View. Typically, the goal of the SCV is simple – by better understanding its customer base an organisation is better able to achieve a bottom line return from said customer base. The problem, however, is that achieving a SCV is usually the goal of a siloed department like sales or marketing.
    What many companies find out the hard way is that an SCV project is equally as much an IT ‘capabilities’ project as it is an ‘ROI driven’ marketing one. The challenge then in delivering an SCV project that delivers organisational returns by taking into account the needs of the CIO and the CMO is that both parties need to put aside the enduring power struggle over who owns the budget.
    Accenture estimate that by 2017 CMOs are projected to spend more money on information technology and analytics than CIOs, as such, the days where CMO’s and CIO’s quibbled over budget ownership and varying departmental priorities cannot continue. The recent explosion in the adoption of Information Technology to drive sustainable competitive advantage is forcing Chief Marketing Officers and Chief Information Officers to work more closely than ever before.
    Bridging the gap between these previously discrete disciplines has never been more important because in this Big Data era we live in it will be he (or she) who leverages their data better who will possess the greater competitive advantage. How do we get there? Through the CMO and CIO developing a common language and understanding of each other’s roles and priorities, and then working together to achieve the much larger organisational goal.
    It’s this issue of fostering genuine cross-departmental collaboration that is the driving premise behind Australia’s first CXO Data Summit to be held in Sydney, September 18. The invitation-only Summit aims to bring together an exclusively C Suite audience for a day of Big Data thought leadership from some of the industries finest, providing an intimate environment for senior executives to converge, debate and discuss the major strategic issues they face in Big 

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    What's Creating the Strategy "Confidence Gap"?

    The results of our new survey show that organizations lack the tools and the long-term orientation to craft meaningful growth strategies.
    Disruptive change is accelerating, driven by the rapid emergence or new technologies, the blurring of lines between industries, and competition from both traditional and nontraditional players. As a result, corporate lifespans are shrinking. On average, a company drops out of the S&P 500 list and is replaced once every few weeks. If current trends hold, about 75% of companies on today's list will fade away or get acquired by 2030.
    How does the shifting landscape affect enterprise strategy and corporate innovation efforts? To see how organizations assess their ability to anticipate and respond to disruptive change, we recently surveyed more than 800 executives across 20 industries. The results shed new light onto the challenges and opportunities that leaders face in crafting strategies to steer their companies in both the near and long term.
    Top-level findings include:
    • Fully 85% of respondents say their organizations need to transform in response to disruptive change--yet only 49% say they feel very confident or confident that their organizations are prepared for transformation in 3 to 5 years. That number drops to 42% in a time frame of 5 to 10 years.

    • Large companies face an even greater "strategy confidence gap." 83% of respondents from companies with over $1 billion in revenue agreed with the need to transform, and only 36% say they are confident to do so in a 5 to 19 year time frame.

    The confidence gap suggests that organizations lack both the long-term orientation and the tools to plot long-term strategy.

    The survey bore this out:

    • Only 12% of organizations have a formal growth strategy with at least a 5+ year time horizon.

    • The remaining 88% either have no formal growth strategy or it is shorter term.

    This short-term bias has implications for the ability of companies to develop disruptive or transformational innovations—the kind that open new markets and attract new customers—and which typically require a longer-term perspective.




    Disruptivechangeisaccelerating,drivenby therapidemergenceofnewtechnologies,theblurringoflinesbetween industries,andcompetitionfrombothtraditionalandnontraditionalplayers.As a result,corporate  lifespansare shrinking.Onaverage,a companydropsoutoftheS&P 500listandisreplacedonceeveryfew weeks.Ifcurrenttrends hold,about75%ofcompaniesontodayslistwillfadeawayorgetacquiredby 2030.1

    Howdoestheshiftinglandscapeaffectenterprisestrategyandcorporate  innovationefforts?Toseehoworganizations assesstheirabilitytoanticipateandrespondtodisruptivechange,werecentlysurveyedmorethan800 executives across20industries.Theresultsshednewlightontothechallengesandopportunitiesthatleadersfaceincrafting strategiestosteertheircompaniesinboththenearandlongterm.Top-levelfindingsinclude:

    Fully85%ofrespondentssaytheirorganizations  needtotransforminresponsetodisruptivechangeyetonly

    49%saythatfeel veryconfidentorconfidentthattheirorganizations  arepreparedfortransformationin3to5 years.Thatnumberdropsto42%ina timeframeof5to10years.


    $1billioninrevenueagreedwiththeneedtotransform,andonly36%saytheyareconfidenttodosoina 5to10


    Theconfidencegapsuggeststhatorganizations  lackboththelong-termorientation  andthetoolstoplotlong-term strategy.Thesurveyborethisout:

     Only12%oforganizations  havea formalgrowthstrategywithatleasta 5+yeartimehorizon.


    Thisshort-termbiashasimplicationsfortheabilityofcompaniestodevelopdisruptiveortransformational innovations—thekindthatopennewmarketsandattractnewcustomers—andwhichtypicallyrequirea longer-term perspective.

    The Confidence Gap:The DesireButNottheAbilitytoTransform

    Transformationcanbedefinedaschangingyourcore productofferingsorbusinessmodelovertime.An exampleishowIBMovera periodof15yearsreshaped itscomputerhardwarebusinesswhichfacedsevere disruptionanddeclinewhileitscaledupitsservices businesstobecomea majorityofitsrevenue.Theresult isa transformedandhighlysuccessfulenterprisethat doesntlookliketheoldIBM.

    Anoverwhelmingmajorityofrespondentsagreedonthe needfortransformation,withabout85%statingthatthey agreeorstronglyagreethattheirorganizationneedsto transform.Amonglargeenterprises(thosewith$1billion ormoreinrevenue),theresultwasaboutthesame,83%.

    Wealsoaskedexecutiveshowconfidentareyouthat yourorganizationispreparedtochangeinresponseto disruptivetrends?”Weposedthequestionoverdifferent timeframestoseeif theirconfidencelevelsincreasedor decreasedovertime.Amongallrespondents,42%were veryconfidentorconfidentthattheyarepreparedto transformwithina 5to10yeartimeframe.Thatpercent- agewasjust36%percentamongrespondentsatlarge

    enterprises.Asignificantpercentage(27%)ofthoseatbig companiessaidtheyarenotatallconfident.

    Individualresponsesrevealeda rangeofreasonswhy theprospect  oftransformationissochallengingatlarge enterprises.Wehavetheinformationbutnottheimpe- tus,saidoneexecutive.Anothersaidthatinnovationis limitedtosmallchangesinexistingproductlines.

    Only36%ofrespondentsfrom largecompaniessaytheyare confidenttheycantransform theirorganizations5to10years out.

    Buttherearesomebrightspots,atleastanecdotally.One executivesaid:Weareinconstant  transformation,and wearetacklingnewtrendsinemergingmarkets.Said another:Wehavebeenaggressivelypursuingchange andtrackingthewaythemarketisheadedinorderto positionourselvestobea continuedleader.


    Thepaceofdisruptivechangecanseemoverwhelmingat times,andstrategicconfidencelevelscouldbeaffected

    by howexecutivesperceivetheirorganizationsabilityto keeppacewithshiftsinthemarket.

    Toprobemoredeeplyintohowcompaniesassesstheir abilitytochange,weaskeda seriesofquestionsabout

    thepaceatwhichcompaniesbelievetheycanrespondto disruptionsandnewgrowthopportunities.Sincemea- suringthepaceofchangewithina companyisdifficult, thesurveyinsteadaskedexecutivestobenchmarktheir organizationagainsttheoverallmarket.

    Theresultssuggestthatfeworganizations  believethey aremovingfasterthantheircompetitorsortheoverall market.About30%ofcompaniesofallsizessaytheyare changingataboutthesamepaceas themarket.Another

    30%reportedthattheyarechangingsomewhatslower thanthemarket.

    Butlargeenterprises(again,thosewithover$1billion inrevenues)reportanevenmoredifficulttimekeeping pace,with48%sayingtheyarerespondingtomarket- placedisruptionssomewhatslowerormuchslower” thanthemarket.Ina relatedquestion,44%saidthatthey arerespondingtonewgrowthopportunitiessomewhat slowerormuchslowerthantheircompetitors.

    Only21%ofbigcompaniessaytheyarechangingmuch fasterorsomewhatfasterthantheoverallmarketin responsetodisruptivechange.

    Theseresultsshowhowdifficultitistocapturecompeti- tiveadvantageina worldwherecustomerneedsand expectationsoftenshiftatthesamepacethattechnology isadvancing.

    Nearlyhalf oflargeenterprises saytheyarechangingmore slowlythantheoverallmarket.

    Respondentsraisedbigquestionsabouthowrapid changeaffectstheirfirmsabilitytocompete:“Howcan wetransformcultureata timewhencustomerexpecta-

    tionsareundergoingrapidchange?”askedone.“Howcan weestablishanentrepreneurial cultureina large,risk- averseorganization?”askedanother.

    Manyexecutivespointed  toculturalissuesattheirorgani- zations:Wehavehighinstitutionalrigidityandresistance tochange,saidoneexecutive.Rapidtechnologychang- es(i.e.mobilityandcloud)areimpactfulbeforetheyare understood,saidanother.


    Tounderstandhowcompaniesplanforinnovationand growth,we askedcompaniestodescribethetimehori- zonsoftheirgrowthstrategies.

    Asurprisinglylowpercentageoforganizations  reported havinga long-termstrategyforgrowth.Accordingtoour survey,only12%oforganizations  havea formalgrowth strategywithatleasta 5+yeartimehorizon.

    Theremaining88%saytheyeitherhavenogrowthstrat- egyorthatitsshorterterm,witha full29%sayingthey haveonlyaninformalgrowthstrategy.

    Oneseniorleaderwhounderstandstheimportanceof investinginlong-term,newgrowthbusinesses—thekind thattypicallyrequirefiveortenyearstopayoff—isJeff

    Bezosrecentlyshoweda conceptvideoofunmanned dronesdeliveringpackagestodoorsteps.Whenpressed howlongitwouldtaketogetthere,hesaidmorethan fiveyears.Whiledronesmayseemlikea far-outideafor aretailbusiness,thatkindofinnovationandstrategy horizonisnodifferentthanthemanyotherdisruptive

    venturesthatAmazonhasinvestedinandlaunchedover itshistory.Forinstance,thecompanyisnowa dominant forceincloudcomputingservices,eventhoughthat businesswasa non-coreareafiveyearsago.

    As Bezosexplainedrecently,Thelong-termapproach  is rareenoughthatitmeansyourenotcompetingagainst verymanycompanies.Mostcompanieswanttoseea returnoninvestmentin,one,two,threeyears.Imwilling forittobefive,six,sevenyears.So,justthatchangein timelinecanbea verybigcompetitive  advantage.

    Thelong-termapproachisrare enoughthatitmeansyourenot competingagainstverymany companies.


    Whenorganizations  lacka long-termstrategythatguides day-to-daywork,executivescanoftenexperiencefrustra- tion.Acommonsetofstrugglesaresuggestedby these statementsfromrespondents:Werekeptintheshort- termfocustrap,saidone.Puttingoutfiresisourmain challenge,saidanother.


    doninglong-termstrategies.Agoodstrategicplanwasdevelopedtwoyearsago,butthentheexecutive changed,andhedidntseethevalueintheexistingstra- tegicplan. Theresult: demoralization,nonewideas,no strategicfocus,conflict,lowperformance.

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    The study, which focuses on the role of a gene known as Syngap1, was published June 18, 2014, online ahead of print by the journal Neuron. In humans, mutations in Syngap1 are known to cause devastating forms of intellectual disability and epilepsy.
    “We found a sensitive cell type that is both necessary and sufficient to account for the bulk of the behavioral problems resulting from this mutation,” said TSRI Associate Professor Gavin Rumbaugh, who led the study. “Because we found the root biological cause of this genetic brain disorder, we can now shift our research toward developing tailor-made therapies for people affected by Syngap1 mutations.”
    In the study, Rumbaugh and his colleagues used a mouse model to show that mutations in Syngap1 damage the development of a kind of neuron known as glutamatergic neurons in the young forebrain, leading to intellectual disability. Higher cognitive processes, such as language, reasoning and memory arise in children as the forebrain develops.
    Repairing damaging Syngap1 mutations in these specific neurons during development prevented cognitive abnormalities, while repairing the gene in other kinds of neurons and in other locations had no effect.
    Rumbaugh noted prenatal diagnosis of some infant genetic disorders is on the horizon. Technological advances in genetic sequencing allow for individual genomes to be scanned for damaging mutations; it is possible to scan the entire genome of a child still in the womb. “Our research suggests that if Syngap1 function can be fixed very early in development, this should protect the brain from damage and permanently improve cognitive function,” said TSRI Research Associate Emin Ozkan, a first author of the study, along with TSRI Research Associate Thomas Creson. “In theory, patients then wouldn’t have to be subjected to a lifetime of therapies and worry that the drugs might stop working or have side effects from chronic use.”
    Mutations to Syngap1 are a leading cause of “sporadic intellectual disability,” resulting from new, random mutations arising spontaneously in genes, rather than faulty genes inherited from parents. Intellectual disability affects approximately one to three percent of the population worldwide.
    Rumbaugh and his colleagues are continuing to investigate. “Our findings have also identified exciting potential biomarkers in the brain of cognitive failure, allowing us to test new therapeutic strategies in our Syngap1 animal model,” said Creson.

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    How to Spend the First 10 Minutes of Your Day 

    If you’re working in the kitchen of Anthony Bourdain, legendary chef of Brasserie Les Halles, best-selling author, and famed television personality, you don’t dare so much as boil hot water without attending to a ritual that’s essential for any self-respecting chef: mise-en-place.

    The “Meez,” as professionals call it, translates into “everything in its place.” In practice, it involves studying a recipe, thinking through the tools and equipment you will need, and assembling the ingredients in the right proportion before you begin. It is the planning phase of every meal—the moment when chefs evaluate the totality of what they are trying to achieve and create an action plan for the meal ahead.
    For the experienced chef, mise-en-place represents more than a quaint practice or a time-saving technique. It’s a state of mind.
    “Mise-en-place is the religion of all good line cooks,” Bourdain wrote in his runaway bestsellerKitchen Confidential. “As a cook, your station, and its condition, its state of readiness, is an extension of your nervous system… The universe is in order when your station is set…”
    Chefs like Anthony Bourdain have long appreciated that when it comes to exceptional cooking, the single most important ingredient of any dish is planning. It’s the “Meez” that forces Bourdain to think ahead, that saves him from having to distractedly search for items midway through, and that allows him to channel his full attention to the dish before him.
    Most of us do not work in kitchens. We do not interact with ingredients that need to be collected, prepped, or measured. And yet the value of applying a similar approach and deliberately taking time out to plan before we begin is arguably greater.
    What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at your desk? For many of us, checking email or listening to voice mail is practically automatic. In many ways, these are among the worst ways to start a day. Both activities hijack our focus and put us in a reactive mode, where other people’s priorities take center stage. They are the equivalent of entering a kitchen and looking for a spill to clean or a pot to scrub.
    A better approach is to begin your day with a brief planning session. An intellectual mise-en-place. Bourdain envisions the perfect execution before starting his dish. Here’s the corollary for the enterprising business professional. Ask yourself this question the moment you sit at your desk: The day is over and I am leaving the office with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. What have I achieved?
    This exercise is usually effective at helping people distinguish between tasks that simply feel urgentfrom those that are truly important. Use it to determine the activities you want to focus your energy on.
    Then—and this is important—create a plan of attack by breaking down complex tasks into specific actions.
    Productivity guru David Allen recommends starting each item on your list with a verb, which is useful because it makes your intentions concrete. For example, instead of listing “Monday’s presentation,” identify every action item that creating Monday’s presentation will involve. You may end up with:collect sales figures, draft slides, and incorporate images into deck.
    Studies show that when it comes to goals, the more specific you are about what you’re trying to achieve, the better your chances of success. Having each step mapped out in advance will also minimize complex thinking later in the day and make procrastination less likely.
    Finally, prioritize your list. When possible, start your day with tasks that require the most mental energy. Research indicates that we have less willpower as the day progresses, which is why it’s best to tackle challenging items – particularly those requiring focus and mental agility – early on.
    The entire exercise can take you less than 10 minutes. Yet it’s a practice that yields significant dividends throughout your day.
    By starting each morning with a mini-planning session, you frontload important decisions to a time when your mind is fresh. You’ll also notice that having a list of concrete action items (rather than a broad list of goals) is especially valuable later in the day, when fatigue sets in and complex thinking is harder to achieve.
    Now, no longer do you have to pause and think through each step. Instead, like a master chef, you can devote your full attention to the execution.

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