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Five Ways to Celebrate Your Employees this Holiday Season

Celebrating employees during the holidays is a fantastic way to not only show respect for hard work, but also to foster teamwork and inclusion. For employers who are having trouble finding ways to make the season bright, below are five proven strategies to make employees feel valued during the holidays:

Everyone Likes a Party

Whether held at the office or at a fancy venue, company holiday parties are a hit with just about everyone. Parties can be themed, formal, casual or anything in between. The important part is that employees have a chance to relax and celebrate the holidays with one another in a comfortable atmosphere.

Personalized Gifts Make a Splash

Many employers also celebrate employees during the holidays by giving personalized gifts. These gifts don’t have to be extravagant, but they can be customized to match something unique about each employee. When giving gifts, employers should consider that all employees receive something equal to avoid anyone feeling left out.

Give Some (Paid) Time Off

Giving additional paid time off is also a great way to show an employee that he or she is valued. Some employers choose to keep this additional time off a surprise until the last minute, but this can cause problems for employees who have set schedules, so it’s usually best to provide advance notice.

Make It Competitive

Contests and competitions are also great choices to celebrate employees during the holidays. One way to do this and improve team building at the same time is to divide employees into groups and assign each group a task. Whichever team completes the task first wins a prize like free lunch or better parking spots. When doing this, employers should try to make it so that each team wins something at least once in order for everyone to have a good time.

Get Each Employee Involved

Finally, employers need to consider everyone’s tastes, cultures, backgrounds and strengths when planning a holiday celebration. It would be a good idea to have input from all employees and maybe even create different teams that are responsible for different aspects of a celebration. Once again, the goal of celebrating employees during the holidays is to show respect and appreciation for hard work, so everyone should be recognized in their own way.

While the holidays are often hectic, going the extra mile to create a workplace celebration can brighten even the most stressful of days. No matter how an employer chooses to celebrate employees during the holidays, it’s certain that his or her efforts will be met with gratitude and produce a happier workforce.

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The Final Push: Three Ways Your Business Can Close 2018 on a High Note

Every company has had 12 months to make some progress toward their goals. Even if there have been more failures than achievements, it’s important to acknowledge the good parts and plan for the next year. There are three ways for businesses to end the 2018 year on a positive note.

Increase Work Productivity

Increasing productivity means working less, working faster and getting more results. Work less for greater results or work faster and get more work done in a shorter period of time. Everyone has one or two habits that result in hours of wasted time and effort each day. For most office workers, it’s checking their emails for too long or conversing with fellow workers around the office. For managers, it’s doing tasks by hand instead of using faster, automated computers and software. Overall, owners should focus on improving the levels of work productivity in every department from accounting to management.

Be Open to New Things

Being innovative is a hidden advantage in business. Every entrepreneur wants to be trendy, but the idea may be impossible because of social and financial risks. A small business owner doesn’t want to lose an investment for an idea that only works for other businesses. There is also the risk of being ridiculed for trying a new idea. An example is placing self service kiosks around a store. It may work flawlessly for some stores, but it could increase the risk of shoplifting in others.

Reduce Miscommunication

Miscommunication is reduced when communication lines are opened. This means finding more ways to communicate by phone, email or text. Some offices send out memos every morning as reminders of what happened in the past and what needs to be done in the future. One company could encourage coworkers to text each other regularly.

It’s possible to reduce miscommunication but not get rid of it completely. There will still be times when coworkers misunderstand each other every now and then. However, when some improvement efforts are made, the staff is more unified and works more efficiently.

At the close of the year, every business owner should reflect on what was accomplished and what was missed. Every new year should start with a list of new goals and the steps to complete them. The only way for a business to remain successful is to move ahead and to reflect back.

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The Best Texts on Leadership (Pt. 2)

Career-critical lessons aren’t learned purely through independent willpower: this is a fact that the greatest of leaders can verify. For them, earning a place at the top meant recognizing that leadership–while it may at times seem insular and isolated–is a process of community. By listening when the time is right and the advice is strong, leadership is performed not as a string of static-minded commands, but a fluid, adaptive act. Familiarizing yourself with the qualities, philosophies, and choices that define the world’s greatest movers and shakers is as easy as exploring these titles, all of which are rich in expertise.

 

Leadership” by James MacGregor-Burns

In a systematic review that spans generations, James Macgregor Burns delves into the factors that separate true leaders–who work with followers to achieve mutual benefit–from what he terms “power wielders:” figures who seize control to facilitate an ego-driven agenda, with no consideration as to how its fulfillment will affect their subjects. To draw this distinction, Burns lays out the paradigm of transactional vs. transforming leaders. While the former swaps value in a cold exchange, i.e. elected politicians promising renewed social services in return for popular support, the latter is propelled by personal morality to serve not themselves, but their followers’ cause–even after they achieve power.

 

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World” by Adam Grant

All industries thirst for creativity; for those capable of squeezing from their mind the first drops that prophesy a monsoon of innovation. “Originals” is dedicated to illuminating the habits, tendencies and thought patterns that produce original concepts. Grant backs his points with surprising science–such as a study which reveals that some of history’s most original creations, from the Gettysburg Address to the Mona Lisa, were actually the product of procrastination. By highlighting the non-conformist attitudes of modern superachievers like Steve Wozniak, J.J Abrams, Jerry Seinfeld and more, “Originals” demonstrates the end result it encourages in readers: novel thoughts and a unique presentation.

 

The Slight Edge: Secret to a Successful Life” by Jeff Olson

There is a mindset common to all those who win; it’s the “slight edge” that separates achievers from daydreamers. Olson dispels the fantasy of the overnight superstar, and instead focuses on how small, everyday lifestyle changes, such as reading a small amount every day–will compound over time into the skills needed to meet your goals. Olson illustrates how simple, positive changes in how you approach daily tasks can banish toxic habits and guarantee success.

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The best texts on leadership (Pt. 1)

Whether you are new to a leadership role or you are simply in search of fresh motivation, there are a variety of top leadership texts worth your consideration. Here are a few of the most noteworthy titles currently on the market.

 

“Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results” by Judith Glaser

“Conversational intelligence” is a vital but occasionally overlooked talent within leadership, and Judith Glaser discusses its former quality in this effective text. Rather than emphasizing intellectual prowess alone, Glaser suggests that “it’s not about how smart you are, but how open you are to learn new and effective powerful conversational rituals that prime the brain for trust, partnership, and mutual success.”

 

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Daniel H. Pink

Daniel H. Pink dissects motivation pertaining to a variety of environments, from the workplace to the home. The text links self-direction and creation to increased evidence of success and high performance, citing three primary elements contributing to “true motivation:” autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Pink employes the observations of both entrepreneurs and scientists to provide a comprehensive examination of motivation in a modern context.

 

Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business” By Charles Duhigg

In “Smarter Faster Better,” Charles Duhigg explores the scientific implications surrounding a well established, yet layered aspect of successful leadership: productivity. Specifically, Duhigg delves into the management of how we think rather than what we think — a way of thinking that has shown to have a transformative impact on a leader’s abilities.

 

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” has a fairly self-explanatory title; it identifies a handful of vital habits consistently exhibited by successful individuals — especially those holding leadership positions. Covey’s unique voice and interpretation of success has allowed the title to endure as a top leadership text, selling over 15 million copies to date.

 

 

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What Does it Take to Start a Tech Business in 2018?

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With technological advances becoming more prevalent in society, more and more businesses have been cropping up to deliver new or better technology products and services to the consumer market. Flourishing tech businesses address growing demands within targeted demographics and find their success in efficiently solving real-life problems in ways that haven’t been addressed, or that are better than solutions the current market offers. Thinking of delving into the industry? Here are five pieces of advice to help you launch your tech business in 2018.

 

Choose a Location

If you’re currently living in the U.S. or have aspirations to move, Silicon Valley may pose an appealing location for establishing your tech business. However, you might want to refrain from buying into the hype too early in the game. Silicon Valley is already saturated with larger, more established tech companies and the cost of living may prove too expensive for business businesses to sustain themselves. Instead, look to other places that boast good soil for high-tech startups and industry talent and that will set your business on a greater trajectory to success.

 

Develop Your Product

While it may appear obvious, among the most important steps in starting a tech business is to actually develop a product that interests people. In the case of most business software tech companies, coding is free, so establishing the foundation of your business is a crucial step that won’t put a dent in your pockets. A product can be an entirely new and innovative product, or one that improves an already existing product or process. Regardless, it’s important to actually begin building up your business before your ambition carries things too far out of your hands.

 

Establish and Source Talent

To supplement your product, ensure you or a partner has the technical knowledge or background to appropriately sustain your business. In the same vein, refrain from outsourcing work and focus your efforts on finding apt talent who will help grow your company.

 

Start Small

When first establishing your business, don’t immediately file to become an LLC or C-Corp if you don’t have a product, customers, or revenue. This will cost you valuable money you might not have or can put to better use to grow your company, such as licensing and hiring quality talent.

 

Advertise

Once you have a finished product, don’t forget to advertise. Starting off, you may not have much money to put toward an advertising campaign, but you can always host your own website using free-to-use sites, or advertise on social media sites such as Facebook or Reddit. If possible, launch your product. While launching your product free-to-use may appear counterintuitive, it may earn you the publicity to begin catching the eyes of organizations or investors.

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Starting a Business During a Recession: Five Questions with UE.co CEO Jason Kulpa

UE.co was established in 2008’s recession. Forbes once suggested that economic downturns can actually be great opportunities for startups — would you say this was the case for UE?

Charlie Munger said, “My idea of shooting a fish in a barrel is draining the barrel first.” My interpretation of that is that when others leave a market, there is opportunity.  In 2008 there was a panic in the market, and capital left the ad-tech space. This created an opening to step-in and pick-up all the fish out of the barrel.

 

With the previous question in mind, what kind of setbacks did the recession present for UE (if any)? How did it impact UE’s progress as an up-and-coming entity, and how were these challenges addressed at the time?  

It was challenging raising startup capital, and the debt markets were bone dry.  This meant that the only way to get the company started was to fund it with my savings. Having to write the check yourself as an entrepreneur makes you reflect on if the business idea is really thought out and ready for market.  That doesn’t mean that entrepreneurs discount the value of outside investment, but it hits close to home when the founder’s signature is on the check. This pressure drove me to long hours, and work-filled weekends when I might have pushed it a bit less knowing there was a safety net if things didn’t go as planned.

 

Innovation is a huge part of starting a new business, regardless of economic stability. What would you say allowed UE to innovate in a time as turbulent as the recession, and how has it continued to innovate today?

When economic stability is disrupted there is a consolidation in most markets.  This created sizeable competition and economies of scale we were not prepared as a start-up.  The only way to compete was by building a more efficient mousetrap than fighting a war of attrition.  Tough times bring out the most creative and innovative parts of the human brain, and we were fortunate to face this adversity early in our business cycle.

 

UE started as a small business, but has clearly grown into a full-fledged staple of the San Diego business community. As the company’s CEO, what are the biggest lessons you have gleaned during this growth process — especially during UE’s early phases?

The biggest lesson we learned was that the company culture has to mature along with the business cycle.  This is difficult when you launch a start-up from your garage with friends. That same casual attitude can create cultural challenges when you take the next step in growing the business.  The best way to manage this is to self reflect along the way and take in consideration the larger picture.

 

In turn, what advice would you give new entrepreneurs — especially those facing unforeseen obstacles right out of the gate?

The best advice is to learn to really enjoy working — and then spend lots of time doing what you like to do. Believing in your idea and business, with enough time and pressure, just about anything can be solved.  The difference is that you have the ability to stick it out until that happens. Good luck!

 

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Tips for Balancing Business Ownership and Philanthropy (Pt. 1)

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There is no question that philanthropic involvement can be both enriching and beneficial to recipients and benefactors alike. By reaching out to a charitable cause, a business leader can expand his or her presence in the community by forging vital new relationships — all while raising awareness for an issue or bringing attention to an individual or entity in need. Now, perhaps more than ever, businesses have shifted paradigms to include a blend of profit and societal impact.

Still, however, it takes a fair amount of organization and tact to successfully balance business ownership with philanthropy. Speaking from experience in my own philanthropic involvement with UE.co, both endeavors must be handled with care so that they may co-exist in a constructive, successful manner.

 

Exercise foresight

It is crucial to have a plan when venturing into business philanthropy; this is common knowledge. Still, though, fallout from ill preparation is an unfortunate commonality, and depending on its severity, it can lead to misconceptions and poor representations that can subsequently create backlash from the public. An aged, yet enduringly relevant observation is that there are two types of philanthropic failure: constructive ones and unconstructive ones. The former refers to failures providing clear evidence as to what went wrong, while the latter results from an inability to “inform future practice.”

By studying high-profile instances of constructive philanthropic failure, we can extract a number of important lessons:

 

  • One must have a strong, or at least working, knowledge his or her chosen cause — not to mention passion. If you truly care about housing the homeless, for example, do not focus on another cause simply because it is convenient or trendy.

 

  • The aforementioned point in mind, a philanthropic initiative should not be driven by marketing performance and public image alone; this is immoral and stands as the antithesis of genuine philanthropy.

 

  • At the same time, a lack of proper knowledge can lead to a breakdown in your philanthropy’s effectiveness, and it can quickly lead to additional problems that knock the wheels of the entire process despite your best intentions.

 

Build lasting relationships

Most successful charitable partnerships yield the potential for a continued working relationship. This longevity can be instrumental in ensuring the success of future initiatives, which in turn can also make the ownership/philanthropy balancing act easier to approach. A philanthropic relationship allows both participating parties to learn about each other in a different way, which can lead to longer standing interaction as a result of mutual loyalty.

Building this trust and intimacy not only aids in the preservation of the cause in question, it can also strengthen employee engagement, build up the brand of both the business and the philanthropic recipient, and ultimately foster a stronger sense of community and cohesion.

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Tips for Transitioning into a CEO Role

The role of Chief Executive has been romanticized in most cultures, sometimes to the point where the reality of day-to-day responsibility and the actual impact of a leadership role are frequently overlooked.

Taking the highest office in any organization is a major step in anyone’s career. It is important to understand the proper path to both effectiveness and success. Here are some things to consider.

 

Command

While it may be apocryphal, Admiral Halsey’s admonition to his fellow naval officers is instructive. “When you’re in command, command.” This is advice that should be heeded, especially on a new CEO. The natural tendency for the average person is to try and get along with others, but this can lead to all kinds of problems when “a” manager becomes “the” manager

Ultimately, a chief executive’s main responsibility is to give orders and to see to it they are carried out. Few tasks are personally carried out by a CEO for a number of reasons, not the least of which is if the CEO is doing basic tasks, nobody is in charge.

 

Delegate

A leader’s second major responsibility is to assign tasks to subordinates. These tasks can be both basic day-to-day jobs or the responsibility to be in charge of others. It is not a mistake that most every king in history had a considerable retinue of underlings to carry out their wishes.

Delegation is vitally important. CEOs who do not learn to properly delegate can often find themselves overworked and/or spread too thin to be effective. More than a few well-known chief executives have had their companies and careers damaged by over-reliance on their own talent and skill. One person can only do so much.

 

Communicate

Being in charge and delegating only work properly if a leader is available and listens to his or her subordinates. Without the necessary information from other managers, employees, consultants, ownership and governance, a CEO has little to no contemporary knowledge upon which to base their decisions.

When complaining about their bosses, nearly every employee brings up communication as a chief reason they do not approve of management. A leader must be willing to listen, or they will find it is impossible to be effective or efficient.

Being a CEO is without a doubt one of the hardest jobs in the world. It isn’t for everyone, but even those who have little to no experience will find their task much easier if they learn the fundamentals and put them into practice.

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The best texts on leadership

In today’s world, leadership is needed more than ever. If you want to stand out and achieve success as a leader, you should try reading the following texts:

 

“Getting to Yes” by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton

This groundbreaking work is based on the Harvard Negotiation Project which was a 1981 book. The strategies for dealing with conflicts in personal and business life set William Ury apart from the industry in terms of teaching negotiating by focusing on interests instead of positions in a deal.

 

“Getting Things Done” by David Allen

If you are having problems staying organized, then David Allen’s text is the first thing you should read. The way to get your ideas and papers in order is to have a framework. This system that Allen lays out is easy to follow and simple to understand. Anyone can turn around their life if they read through to the end and put the tips into practice.

 

“Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman

In today’s world, it is less about what you know and more about how you can control your emotions. Those that have a solid emotional intelligence score can communicate and progress in work and life more easily.

 

“Crush It!” by Gary Vaynerchuk

 

Gary Vaynerchuk has quickly gained recognition for his ability to cut through the excuses and help people take action in their lives. His book is all about getting through obstacles and never quitting in your pursuit of success. It’s a book every leader should read.

 

“Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill

This classic on leadership and wealth should be a desktop reference for anyone looking to lead in their lives. The tips are timeless and the writing is succinct and to the point without speaking down to the reader.

When it comes to leadership, it is a process not one event. You must always be looking to get better in your life and career. Reading is a powerful way to do that. Don’t fall behind your peers. Instead, capture opportunity by reading the texts above and taking your ability to lead to the next level.

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Three tips for building rapport with a new employee

The addition of a new employee can be an exciting time for your workplace. Current employees are given a chance to make a new acquaintance while you, as a leader, are able to watch a recent hiring decision pay off for both the hiree and your company. During this period, it is crucial to make new employees feel welcome and comfortable, as the first week at a new job can be stressful and, in some cases, nerve wracking.

Here are some tips for building strong rapport with new employees.

 

Make an effort

As a company leader, it is not great practice to simply throw a new employee to the wolves in terms of workplace integration. Make an effort to learn about these employees; ask them about their personal lives, their interests and hobbies, and their goals in joining your company. The quicker you develop this bond, the quicker you will lay a foundation for this employee’s comfort as a contributor.

 

Give them time

Getting to know a new employee is important, but so is the idea that every worker has a different transition process. Some individuals have trouble adapting to change at the drop of a hat, and therefore, it is important to be cognizant of this notion when dealing with an introverted new employee. In many cases, this employee is probably just adapting to a gauntlet of social interactions with their eager new co-workers. In time, your empathy and patience will pay off once this employee begins to speak up in meetings and actively engage his or her peers.

 

Be available

A new employee is likely going to have a lot of questions in the first days, weeks, and even months of their new role. Though it may seem tedious and exhausting to answer potentially elementary questions, you must be open-minded and remember that these basic matters are, in fact, probably foreign to a new worker. Keep yourself as available as possible to all inquiries; this should be a regular part of your leadership role anyway, regardless of the employee in question. Furthermore, follow up on questions and confusions to make sure they have been fully resolved and that the employee is back on track. Again, this approach will facilitate both employee comfort and productivity.

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