Articles on this Page
- 05/17/13--13:37: _Yale's Emotional In...
- 05/20/13--06:15: _Working On Saturday...
- 05/20/13--13:08: _INSTANT MBA: Entrep...
- 05/22/13--06:41: _Mistakes Leaders Mu...
- 05/22/13--15:43: _Millennials Have Th...
- 05/23/13--09:47: _4 Traits Of Extraor...
- 05/23/13--14:58: _America's Hottest C...
- 05/28/13--04:52: _Why Y Combinator Is...
- 06/05/13--13:43: _INSTANT MBA: Say 'N...
- 06/07/13--11:40: _Entrepreneur Helps ...
- 06/13/13--11:42: _A Brilliant Project...
- 06/17/13--05:04: _The 5 Social Media ...
- 06/18/13--09:10: _A 12-Acre 'Goat Far...
- 06/18/13--12:52: _Formal Management T...
- 06/20/13--09:03: _How Employers Can R...
- 06/20/13--13:23: _You Need Different ...
- 06/24/13--15:06: _Wharton Professor E...
- 06/28/13--09:31: _This Artist Co-Op I...
- 06/30/13--11:15: _Atlanta Startup Off...
- 07/02/13--10:58: _Why It's Better To ...
- 05/20/13--06:15: Working On Saturday Feels Different When It's Your Own Business
- 05/20/13--13:08: INSTANT MBA: Entrepreneurs Need To Live Life By A Certain Code
- 05/22/13--06:41: Mistakes Leaders Must Avoid To Retain Employees
- 05/22/13--15:43: Millennials Have Their Own Definition of Entrepreneurship
- 05/23/13--09:47: 4 Traits Of Extraordinary Bosses
- 05/23/13--14:58: America's Hottest CEOs Are Devoting More Time Than Ever To Hiring
- 05/28/13--04:52: Why Y Combinator Is The Hottest Startup School In Silicon Valley
- 06/05/13--13:43: INSTANT MBA: Say 'No' So You Can Over Deliver And Focus On Goals
- 06/07/13--11:40: Entrepreneur Helps Set Off Food Truck Golden Age In Atlanta
- 06/17/13--05:04: The 5 Social Media Rules Every Entrepreneur Should Know
- Produce quality content. Do not make less of an effort with online communications than offline. If anything, what you say on social media is more important, because you are speaking to a larger audience.
- Be open and engaging. Social media is a two-way conversation. Producing quality content is only half of the conversation. Listen to what your followers are saying about your brand. These are your customers (or potential customers), and they want to know that you are listening to their concerns.
- Focus on a specific niche. Social media has grown so large that people have congregated into small communities of people that share similar interests. As a startup business or brand, associate yourself with one of these communities and become leader of the pack.
- Use social media to build your business, and vice-versa. Business owners often view social media as a component of marketing or PR. However, social media is also a great way to build rapport as a leader in the space you are operating within.
- Embrace each social network's unique culture. Each social network attracts a different audience of users. Embrace the individuality of each service and play to its strengths. Read >
- 06/18/13--09:10: A 12-Acre 'Goat Farm' Is Transforming The Arts Scene In Atlanta
- 06/18/13--12:52: Formal Management Training Is Still A Problem In America
- 06/20/13--09:03: How Employers Can Retain Talent In The Millennial Age
- 06/24/13--15:06: Wharton Professor Explains Whether Leaders Are Born Or Made
- 06/30/13--11:15: Atlanta Startup Offers A Smarter, Cheaper Bike-Sharing Program
- Bleacher Report sold to Turner for a little more than $200 million five years after it was founded. But between four founders and more than $40 million raised, each was diluted to 5-10% stakes. That means each founder walked away with about $10 million after the sale.
- Arianna Huffington, Ken Lerer and Jonah Peretti also sold their startup, The Huffington Post, to AOL six years after it was founded. Their price was a lofty $315 million. Each owned different percentages, with Ken Lerer earning significantly more than Huffington. Huffington reportedly owned less than 14% of the company and took home an estimated $18 million.
- But look! Michael Arrington sold TechCrunch to AOL for about $30 million five years after he founded it. He reportedly owned 80% of the company when he sold it because he never raised any venture capital. That means he took home about $24 million before taxes – more than Arianna Huffington.
- For a non-media example, there's ThinkNear, a TechStars company founded by Eli Portnoy. It sold to Scout Advertising for $22.5 million 18 months after its launch. It had raised $1.63 million. At the time of its acquisition, it had a Series A term sheet for $4 million. If ThinkNear had turned down the acquisition and taken the Series A investment, Portnoy says his share of the company would have been diluted an additional 25-30%.
- Jeff Richards, who is now an investor at GGV Capital, tried both kinds of companies. Early in his entrepreneurial career, he founded a company that was valued at $250 million but Richards says he walked away with nothing. In 2003 he started another company, R4. Two years later he sold it to VeriSign for less than $20 million. That time, Richards says both the founders and investors were "thrilled" with the outcome.
Along with other notable business schools, Yale School of Management is part of a trend that's testing prospective students for their ability to understand the causes of emotions.
The difference in Yale's assessment, however, is that the school has teamed up with researchers at EI Skills Group to create their own test, which is currently being offered on a voluntary basis and won't be a factor in the school's highly selective application process right now, but it's uncertain what Yale will do with the results in the future.
The idea is that leadership requires an ability to read people, accurately understand and manage emotions, communicate effectively, and adapt quickly to other cultures.
To get a sense of what the 141-items on Yale's Mayer, Salovey, Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test consist of, we reached out to David Caruso, special assistant to the Dean at Yale College, who's been working with other researchers on the emotional ability assessment for the past 15 years.
"One key is that when you ask people how emotionally intelligent they think they are that their answers often bear little relation to their actual ability," Caruso tells us. "This makes a lot of sense ... someone may think they can read people really well, but if you cannot read signals you don’t get feedback that your ability to read others is faulty."
And scoring the test-takers is another complicated task, because there are no norms, or correct answers in the way that IQ tests may have, Caruso says, which may be hard for most people to understand since we are so used to finding the one right answer on tests.
The following are not actual questions that appear on the MSCEIT, but were provided to us by Caruso and are structured in a similar fashion to Yale's emotional assessment.
Check them out, and let us know in the comments what you think of the questions and if you think your answers would indicate if you would make a good leader or not.
Indicate how much of each emotion is present in this picture:
Select the emotion word that best describes the expression:
Select the emotion word that best describes the expression:
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
I left Goldman in 2004 and have been downwardly mobile, career-wise, ever since.
I’ve also never been happier.
I’ve written before that one of the keys to feeling and being wealthy is do something that you love and that you would do regardless of the compensation.
Now, I can’t prove the following statements, but I believe them to be true:
Working for yourself, in a business you founded, makes it much more likely that you’ll do something you love.
Working for someone else, for a salary, makes it much more likely that you’ll be asked to come in on Saturdays to work on the TPS reports. And, um, Yeeeeahhh, that’d be great.
It weird to say this, but it’s true: Doing the TPS reports for your own business doesn’t feel that bad. Even on Saturdays, it’s kinda fun.
Doing the TPS reports on a Saturday for someone else, however, encourages the kind of anomic existentialism that puts you in deep communion with the overwhelming sadness of the universe.
In life, there’s no getting away from the TPS reports on Saturdays, there’s only a choice about how it will feel. One of my main arguments for starting your own business is that it feels different.
And now for some less important, but still relevant, arguments in favor of entrepreneurship.
The tax code was written by and for business owners, not by or for salaried employees. So if you’re ever curious why taxes for salaried employees seem unfair, whereas businesses seem to pay less in taxes, that’s why.
Did you know you can save about 3 times more per year in tax-advantaged retirement accounts if you’re a business owner than you can as a white-collar employee earning a salary, with a 401K plan? It’s true. But don’t just trust me, look it up on The Google. The Google never lies.
More importantly, many successful business people want to control the timing and conditions of their own retirement, on their own terms.
When you do someone else’s TPS reports, the company gets to ‘retire’ you when they choose. When you do your own, you choose.
Not everyone wants to work forever, but for those people who do, business ownership gives you the control and options.
Please see previous post on Entrepreneurship Part I – The difference between equity and fixed income
Today's advice comes from our interview with Jan Rezab, CEO of Socialbakers:
"I think to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to have vision and a certain decorum, standard, way of doing things. You have to live life by a certain code."
At 26, Rezab is working on his second company Socialbakers, an analytics and monitoring firm, which currently has nearly 2,000 clients globally, including brands like Nestle, Nissan, HP and eBay in 75 countries around the world.
When Razeb's first company — which he started at the age of 14 — shut down, he found himself with more than $100,000 in debt and in the Czech Republic, once you've failed with one company, you don't start another one, he tells us. But Rezab didn't listen.
"Given my age, I had to be curious. I had to learn how to fail and fail fast. Execution is what differentiates a 'wanna be' from a 'do-er' "
Want your business advice featured in Instant MBA? Submit your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your name, your job title, and a photo of yourself in your email.
Nothing scares employees more than bad behavior on the part of their CEO. But what makes them bristle and what makes them leave are two completely different things.
According to career experts, employees are willing to tolerate a lot from their leader, especially the lower on the totem pole they are, but if it directly impacts their career prospects or their workplace happiness, the good ones won’t think twice about jumping ship. In fact, according to a recent Glassdoor survey, one in five employees said their boss has a negative impact on their career.
“You want to be working for a company where your career interests and personal needs are being satisfied,” says Paul Winum, senior partner and global practice leader at RHR International, the executive consulting firm. “When the CEOs decisions and actions put employees’ ambitions or career prospects at risk, people start leaving.”
According to Julie Bauke, career strategist, president of The Bauke Group, and author of Stop Peeing on our Shoes: Avoiding the 7 Mistakes that Screw Up your Job Search, one of the biggest mistakes CEOs or leaders can make is to treat their employees as if they don’t know any better or worse yet they are simply too stupid to get it, which can be a form of workplace bullying. Not only does that kill morale, but also productivity because the fed up employees end up spending a lot of time complaining about their boss. “People watch and listen for clues and cues. If people do not believe in what the leader is saying, or if the walk doesn’t match the talk, it really can come across as he or she thinks we are too stupid to notice,” says Bauke.
For many employees, career development and advancement are the main reasons they take a job and the motivation for staying at a company. But if the CEO doesn’t create a culture that enables people to move up, it will quickly be seen by the employees, resulting in a high turnover rate. “In most companies the success of the CEO and company is directly dependent on the caliber of talent it is able to attract and retain,” says Winum. “If a CEO wants to hold on to people and attract people he or she has to make a demonstrable commitment to talent development.” Winum says that not only does the CEO has to make sure there is on-the-book development and career paths, but he or she also has to let workers know the company cares about them and appreciates their contributions. “If the CEO conveys the view that employees are interchangeable cogs in some wheel…people are more likely to leave to get a better opportunity,” he says.
Change is inevitable regardless of the company, but how a CEO conveys that change will make all the difference between retaining employees and losing them at a fast clip. According to Christine Comaford, author of the book SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together, since people inherently resist change, even if it’s for the better, the CEO has to frame the change in a way that that shows the new direction is simply an improvement on what the company is already doing instead of a complete overhaul of the business. “Leaders need to present the change…as the bad stuff is being removed and good stuff is being added,” she says.
Nobody wants to work for a wishy-washy boss, which is why the CEOs who are unable to make hard decisions, especially when it comes to people within an organization, can have co-workers heading for the door. Understandably, it’s hard to fire someone, but if the CEO hangs on to an executive that everyone within the company thinks is incompetent, a bully or who is hard to work with, they will lose respect for their leader. “It has such a wide reaching effect throughout the organization,” says Bauke. “You are really are telling people what you value.”
Contradictions can be fatal, especially if the CEO is pounding the table about how important his or her people are but the actions convey the exact opposite message. A classic example of that is the CEO who thinks he or she is smarter than everyone and ignores or dismisses any input, says Bauke, who once worked in a small organization where the owner liked to tell the very smart and capable team that was assembled that he knew none of them has been as successful as him. “Everyone wants to be heard and acknowledged, not patted on the head,” says Bauke.
By 2025, Gen Y is going to make up 75% of the global workforce and their independent-thinking and entrepreneurial mindset is going to change the future of the workplace.
Unless employers can understand this, they'll risk losing their top talent, says Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding and author of the new book "Promote Yourself."
Schawbel's Gen Y research and consulting company conducted a recent survey with oDesk, a global job marketplace, and found that freedom-seeking young people have their own definition of "entrepreneurship."
"The number one reason why [Gen Y employees] leave is a lack of career opportunities," Schawbel tells us. "If you can't show them a path up, if you're not going to mentor and support them, they're out."
In the interview below, Schawbel tells us about Gen Y's definition of entrepreneurship, how companies can retain their young talent and create a culture that attracts young people and makes them want to stay there.
Let's be honest: you don't want to fail. But if you're a leader, you've more than likely failed at one point or another.
One of the most prevalent reasons for failure is the lack of the essential elements needed to lead now and well. Here are four traits you must possess if you want to succeed as a boss:
Every leader faces the temptation to project a persona rather than be themselves. They think that to maintain the confidence of their team, they must appear faultless, flawless and wise. Yet most organizations need an authentic leader, not a perfect one.
Today's leader must develop the art of self-awareness. Quit trying to emulate someone else and start being yourself. Share and be honest about your own struggles. By doing this, you'll immediately gain influence.
As a leader, you can't wimp out. You must be willing to be bold and take risks. Will it be hard? Absolutely. Will it be scary at times? Probably. But courage is not waiting for your fear to go away; courage is always confronting tough decisions and conversations head-on.
You may find that this trait doesn't come natural to you. The good news is that courage can be learned. Start practicing now.
Every organization fails at one time or another. If a leader is principled at the time of the failure, he or she is much more likely to learn from it and move on to success.
Leaders are defined by their inner strengths and convictions, not the outer portrayal of who they are. Your character will determine your level of leadership and your legacy.
Living on principle is one essential that will help you lead well and finish well. There are three elements of being a principled leader: humility, discipline and integrity.
Want to know if you possess these three valuable principles? Start searching your speech for phrases like, "I'm sorry,""thank you" and "I trust you." Listen for patterns of "we" and "us" versus "I" and "my."
Practice the art of these principles and establish an accountability system to help keep you grounded. No one likes a leader with a big head.
Every strong leader shares at least one desire: to grow. Very few successful leaders say, "I think we're about as successful as we need to be. I've decided we should just coast from now on."
If you want to grow, you need to start collaborating. Leaders tend to shy away from other leaders because they don't want to give away their secrets, but this mentality is backward.
Collaboration creates innovation, reduces unnecessary risk and amplifies success. If you desire to advance your level of leadership, one of the best things you can do is to build bridges.
4. Collaborative spirit
Start by looking for two kinds of organizations: one you have profound philosophical differences with and another that is in the same line of work, but not a direct competitor. Once you've found them, set up a meeting and begin sharing best practices and brainstorming. You'll be thankful you did.
It's been said that following is easy, but leading is difficult. That is no doubt true. Leading in this century is a daunting task. But moving toward these healthy habits and characteristics will help you become a successful change maker capable of leveraging your influence for the betterment of the world and the collective good of others.
More and more we're hearing of CEOs who devote significant portions of their time to a task long considered beneath them: hiring.
Dave Gilboa, co-founder of Warby Parker, said Wednesday at The Wall Street Journal's Tech Café's "Secrets of Tech Recruiting"that he spends 25% of his time recruiting and that being a CEO also means you're the "Chief Recruiting Officer."
Gilboa says he relies on in-house referrals when hiring talent and interviews every potential hire. He's not alone in his hands-on approach.
The biggest advocate may be Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who made waves last year when she announced she'll be personally reviewing every potential new employee. Mayer's decision was controversial, with complaints that she was wasting her time or causing delays in the hiring process and losing some potential candidates, along with praise for ending a culture where "B-players" hired "C-players," according to one Yahoo executive.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spends up to 50% of his time recruiting talent, according to LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman in his new book "The Start-up Of You." In fact, Zuckerberg adopted at least part of his hiring philosophy from legendary Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Like Jobs, Zuckerberg reportedly takes some potential hires on long walks, taking the time to get to know them and to present the most strongest possible pitch.
Arianna Huffington is similarly focused on recruiting, taking the time to interview each and every hire at The Huffington Post.
To be sure, such hiring-focused executives are still rare. As recruiting software startup Resumator (a somewhat partial observer) said regarding Mayer's announcement, "A CEO who possesses both the time and enthusiasm to review all of the hiring decisions made by their company is about as common as an albino zebra."
But there's growing support for this approach
Hoffman says regarding startups, "not only should the founder be talented, they should be committed to getting other talented people on board. The strength of the co-founders and early employees reflects the individual strength of the CEO."
Other executives at the Journal's panel talked about preferring in-house to external recruiting. When they do make hiring decisions, the panelists agreed that they make them quickly and trust their gut.
Are these snap executive hiring decisions any good? It's hard to say until there's more research and evidence.
On one hand, Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman and others have argued that gut decisions are a terrible way to make hiring decisions. On the other, star psychology writer Malcolm Gladwell has popularized the concept of "thin slicing" which holds that gut decisions can be highly effective.
In any case, executives who know the company vision better than anyone else may be better at making snap hiring decisions than anyone else.
Y Combinator is one of the most prestigious startup accelerators in Silicon Valley.
It has an acceptance rate similar to that of an Ivy League school, and a track a record for producing billion-dollar-valuation startups, like Dropbox and Airbnb.
Over the weekend, YC founder Paul Graham tweeted that 37 companies out of the program's 511 startups are either worth at least $40 million, or have sold for that amount.
The most surprising success story for Graham: Rap Genius, the startup that annotates rap lyrics, literature, and poetry.
But what is it actually like once you get accepted into Silicon Valley's most prestigious accelerator?
Last year, we compiled thoughts from several Y Combinator founders about the incubator.
Tikhon Bernstam, cofounder of Parse, says you have to get a year's worth of work done in 10 weeks.
The best parts are, one, the YC founders support each other. They help with recommendations and suggestions for lawyers, fundraising, testing your product, help through the inevitable ups and downs of startup life, help with setting up payroll, hiring, leads on hires (like engineers), partnerships and deals. Intros to whoever you need—you could ask for an intro almost anyone and someone in the group would have it (or one of the partners would).
The Y Combinator partners are top-notch. Their help was critical to almost everyone. They helped with fundraising, constantly pushing you to launch early ("if you're not embarrassed when you launch, you've waited too long").
We demoed Parse (and Scribd the last time around) every week at dinner to our classmates, and that really helped push us every week to have something new to show. The deadline of Demo Day forces you to get a years worth of work done in 10 weeks, and is a great motivator in general.
Ryan Mickle, cofounder of Yardsale, said the finish line is already in sight as soon as you join.
One of big advantages to being part of Y Combinator was the unfiltered advice. The partners and alums are exceptionally candid in helping founders navigate around easily avoidable mistakes that could waste time or come back to bite you later. Stuff like financing documents are standardized (and founder friendly) so you don't waste cycles and can focus on building your company.
That's not to say that you won't make mistakes—you will—but at least you dodge many of the avoidable ones, without needing to build a network of trusted advisors from scratch. The Y Combinator experience itself is a pressure cooker, as the countdown to Demo Day begins the moment you get in. So you're forced to stay focused and work as hard as you can with the time you have. It seems to work to effectively "reset" your work/social life. At least it seemed like the case for us, since we were one of many who moved down to Mountain View for the summer, leaving many of the things that would have distracted us in the City [San Francisco], so we could work hard to get into the groove of being productive.
Finally, the support of alums was invaluable. They always seemed to make time when you needed help and the network is large enough that the problems you face are rarely if ever unique. And there definitely seems to be a spirit of indebtedness toward Y Combinator itself, so past founders look forward to helping future founders, because it wasn't that long ago when someone, perhaps an alum or YC partner, did the same for them.
James Beshara, cofounder of Crowdtilt, says Paul Graham has turned Y Combinator into a "flight control center."
During the program, I would say that the constraints of 90 days and weekly conversations about your product and growth are invaluable for focus and productivity.
And since the more recent your batch, the larger the network you graduate into—the network of other founders and companies has become the single biggest factor in why I tell every tech entrepreneur I know that they should apply to Y Combinator.
In their own words, PG et al. have almost turned into more of a flight control center ... "Oh you're having this problem, talk to these founders. Oh you're selling this solution, these guys need that." It's pretty incredible.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Today's advice comes from our interview with Azita Ardakani, CEO and founder of digital media agency Lovesocial:
"In the services space, it's easy to want to say 'yes' to everything, but for us, saying 'no' keeps us specialized to our sweet spot, and ensures that we over deliver every time. It keeps us focused on building for the long-term as opposed to being reactionary and taking low hanging fruit just because it's there."
Ardakani says profit is important, but aligning your revenue has a potentially stronger value. Making a quick buck off projects that do not match your value proposition can distract from long-term goals. Saying "yes" to everything can also overextend capability, which can inhibit your company's ability to consistently perform at its best.
"Working with clients that truly understand what we bring to the table, and what we are building for the future allows us to optimize our services and for them to make the most of the outcome. Sometimes saying no is the best sales strategy."
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Just a few years ago, Howard Hsu's barbecue truck, Sweet Auburn Barbecue, was one of the only food trucks in the city. Today it is joined by a park full of other "food on wheels" units, plus many more outside the premises.
As the city's first permanent food truck site, the Atlanta Food Truck Park and Market attracts an average of 1,000 people daily; but last year the bustling space was nothing more than an abandoned lot.
It was last April that Hsu began looking for property where he could station Sweet Auburn Barbecue, because, while he enjoyed being able to roam the city and meet customers in different locations, he says he was tired of constantly moving.
"Having a mobile food truck was very rewarding and fun," Hsu tells us. "However, it was stressful because you would go to certain events where there would be no business."
While looking for a place that would provide his business more consistency, Hsu came across a vacant three-acre plot of land — a former hotel site — in an area west of Atlanta on Howell Mill Road.
He quickly realized that the space was large enough to accommodate a number of trucks and decided that if he was having problems finding a parking spot for his mobile business, maybe other food truck owners were, too.
Although the park can only host 15 trucks at one time, food trucks from all over the city apply to the space. The city has also recently eased its once-stringent zoning restrictions, which prevented mobile trucks from operating in multiple locations. This has resulted in a significant growth in the number of operating food trucks and there are around 80 licensed trucks today compared to 20 at last year's food park opening.
"[The park] has brought a lot of young entrepreneurs who are on the fence about starting their own business," Hsu tells us. "They are more willing to pull the trigger when they see there is a location they can conduct business."
Aside from creating a space accessibly to those craving street food, the Atlanta Food Truck Park and Market also contributes to jobs created in the area and has the potential to have a significant economic impact on the city's long-term development.
The space currently hosts attractions, such as live music, car shows, and special themed events like SurfFest, a recent festival that featured local instrumental bands. On certain days, there are close to 5,000 people visiting the park.
Hsu tells us that he hopes to eventually turn some of the green space into a venue for concerts, movie screenings, and playgrounds. If all goes well, it could potentially become a tourist destination and citywide attraction for residents.
"There are [visitors] of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Depending on the time of day, you'll see a different crowd of people."
Despite the park's first-year success, there are still challenges for food truck owners. While some of the city's legal restrictions on food trucks were eased in late 2011, applying for a permit in Atlanta is still a rigorous process. Food trucks must have separate business and vendor's permits, plus a health license for each location they serve at.
Although the park's site is properly zoned, it was closed for several weeks last year because of permit issues for some of the individual trucks.
Despite the challenges, Hsu says that it has been rewarding for him "to help young entrepreneurs start-up their businesses and create their livelihoods."
"[The park] has created small business opportunities in Atlanta while transforming what was once a vacant space into a destination, attraction, and place for commerce."
The Atlanta BeltLine is an project that takes abandoned early-19th century railroad tracks and transforms them into an ambitious system of trails, transit, parks and development project.
Costing an estimated $3 billion project, the redevelopment plan will form a loop around midtown and downtown Atlanta including 22 miles of rails, trails, greenspace and transit. It will pass through 45 different neighborhoods and provide transportation to some of the biggest employers in the area.
The project will include new transit stations, 1,300 acres of new and improved greenspace, 40% more parks, 5,600 units of affordable housing, and 14-foot-wide paths connecting wealthy and lower-income areas within a two-to-four mile radius around the city.
This is a massive project — yet it almost never happened.
The project would have never become a reality if Ryan Gravel's coworkers hadn't told him that his master's thesis from Georgia Tech was too "cool" to merely be an idea.
In 1999, Gravel was a graduate student studying architecture and city planning. He had been inspired by the roads in Paris a few years before during a study abroad program that he says "changed the way [he] saw the world."
"I really fell in love with the city. I took transit everywhere. I ate fresh food from the local markets and dropped about 15 pounds. The way the city is built impacts our health and the way we live."
When he returned to the States, he came up with a plan to build a transit network for Atlanta — typically a car-centric city — but didn't pursue the project after graduation until his coworkers encouraged him to do so.
For three years, Gravel and his team of supporters pushed for the project in "grassroots movements," attending town meetings and sending letters to city officials. It was Cathy Woolard, a city councilwoman at the time, and later the Council’s president, who made the big moves after hearing about the proposal.
Gravel's employer Perkins+Will, global architecture and design firm with an urban planning and design practice, was brought on board, as well as James Corner Field Operations (JCFO), the same company that designed the High Line Park redevelopment in New York's Chelsea neighborhood.
The idea is to take the old historic railroad lines that "belts" around the city and provide routes that have never been connected and "incentivize growth in that area," Gravel explains. "It becomes a magnet not only for office and residential development, but also for theater and cultural life."
"The economic impact will not only be significant for Atlanta, but it'll help rebalance growth for some parts of the city that haven't seen investment for a number of years."
He hopes that the completed project will also put an end to Atlanta being so reliant on cars: "When you look at demographic changes and preferences of Millennials, the world is changing and Atlanta needs to reposition itself so that it's not known as a car city. The car culture in every city — but especially in Atlanta — it has to change."
"The BeltLine will not only be the physical form of the city, it changes the way we think about the city, it changes our culture expectation. This takes sustainability to a new level."
Lisa Gordon, COO and interim leader of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., tells Business Insider, "The Atlanta BeltLine is already transforming not only the physical character of the city, but the way people are interacting with each other and their environment, with new amenities, and opportunities for individuals, families and businesses."
"The impact of [this project] will continue to be felt for generations to come,” says Gordon.
In October 2012, two miles of the Eastside Trail opened and $775 million in new developments sprung up as a result along those two miles.
The Atlanta BeltLine has been under construction for the past six years and is projected to be completed in 2031.
Below is a video about the development:
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Google is shutting down its RSS reader on July 1, and it seems Facebook might fill the void, according to TechCrunch's sources. However, it's unclear whether a Facebook RSS reader will pull in stories from all over the Web, or just Facebook. Read >
Google+ Notifications Now Sync Across Devices (SproutSocial)
Community and social media managers who split their time using Google+ on mobile and desktop devices can breathe a sigh a of relief now that Google+ notifications are synced across all devices. Read >
India's Youth Prefer Communicating Via Social Media More Than Phones (Economic Times)
75% of India's youth prefer social media over phone calls to communicate, according to a TCS survey. Of those that do, 74% cited Facebook as their go-to social media network to communicate with friends and family, followed by SMS services. This signals the great opportunity that Facebook and other social media have in disrupting carriers' text business. Read >
SMS Messages Achieve High Response Rate Across Industries (Dynmark)
Finance and travel industries achieve 57% and 54% of their SMS responses respectively in the first 15 minutes, according to a Dynmark study. Researchers attribute this to their messaging content being more operation in nature, as opposed to offer-based marketing from industries such as retail and entertainment, which receive less than 40% of their responses in the same time frame. Read >
If you put enough talented, creative people together in a small space, chances are great ideas will blossom, eventually leading to economic opportunities.
This is the idea that real estate developers Anthony Harper and Chris Melhouse envisioned for a 19th-century cotton gin factory sitting on 12 acres of land outside downtown Atlanta.
Harper, an ex-investment banker, was inspired by physicist Geoffrey West's population density theories, which attribute population density as the secret to exchanging ideas. Harper had the idea of transforming the abandoned space into a model for arts and culture real estate development. He tells us that the brick buildings detailed with arched windows and doors reminded him of his former musician life when he performed in warehouses with bands.
"We thought a dense environment of creatives and arts programming would be a way to explore West-type theories," Harper says. "If we could attract artists and small creative businesses to the property, we wondered if our strategies could create a pseudo-city."
Since its inception in 2008, The Goat Farm Arts Center, a for-profit arts incubator located in West Midtown Atlanta, has become one of the most densely packed group of artists in the nation, with more than 450 artists and and more than 100 programs held annually.
How it works
All performances and exhibitions are chosen by a review board which is comprised of five people, including Harper and Melhouse.
It's a selective process with only about 10 events making it through the review board each month. If chosen, artists receive assistance for putting on a performance in the form of financial investments called the AIP (Arts Investment Package). Harper says about $150,000 is invested annually in AIPs, which includes direct funding, financial assistance and venue, marketing, management, logistics and aesthetics support that may be provided to performers.
This is all funded by rent received from the Goat Farm's residents, which ranges from $350 to $5,000 monthly depending on the space. However, artists aren't required to live at the Farm to use the venue for performances.
"The word 'investment' is key for us. We want [artists] to have a different mindset," says Harper. "We don't want them to think they're getting donations for free, because we actually do see a strong ROI in the money we invest in artists and performers."
Furthermore, Harper tells us that the Goat Farm also saves money on traditional marketing and advertising from the attention performers often attract from the local media.
"We don't spend our marketing budget on traditional ads...we spend it on presenting cutting edge artists and performers in our venues. This generates accolades, articles, radio interviews, social media chatter, buzz and word of mouth about the artists themselves, which creates a more robust marketing machine than traditional advertising without increasing our marketing budget."
So far, the model seems to be working. The Goat Farm operates at a zero percent vacancy rate with a recurring waiting list.
Life at the Farm
A "typical" day at the Farm is not so typical, says Andrew Tate, a native Atlantan who previously lived at the Farm. He currently works on the Special Projects Team, supporting the many diverse events and performances throughout the year.
"There are always new projects hatching, wrapping up, artists visiting from out of town and that's part of what makes it great. You can probably expect to be woken by roosters and put to sleep by the rumble and squeak of trains passing by — but everything in the middle is anyone's guess."
In a state where per capita arts spending ranks 48th in the nation, it's an unlikely place to witness an arts revival. But Tate says the results from the Farm thus far proves that the struggling art scene has a chance in Atlanta.
"We're just one developer of one property, but we're trying to show that the arts have more than just entertainment value," says Harper. "For us, artists are part of our mechanics. They're part of our business model. At the Goat Farm, they drive our business, they drive our revenue. Without the arts and cultural programming, without them, the business does not work."
Tate, now 27 and a matriculating law student, agrees that the Goat Farm is providing opportunities for artists to try things they couldn't normally afford given the city's limited grant money and philanthropic funding.
"It is a place to grow ideas. Collaboration and innovation need a degree of chaos to come about, and the random collisions of so many artists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and change-makers of all sorts foster an energy of possibility that has always been possible in Atlanta, but needed a place to regenerate itself," he says.
"The Goat Farm is a magnetic campus for the creative spirit."
And Harper is planning on expanding. He tells us the Goat Farm is currently developing another location called Erikson Clock that will focus on the co-mingling of artists with scientists and engineers. Harper is working with Mass Collective, a creative organization comprised of artists, musicians, and scientists, on Erikson Clock, which he hopes will continue the transformation of the South's art scene.
As the HR leader of a mid-sized company, not a month goes by without receiving a pitch from a training vendor or consultant asking if I’m interested in purchasing training for our managers.
I’m all for formal training, however, I know it’s not the end-all-be-all. To give some perspective, I grew up in my career at PricewaterhouseCoopers back in the 1990s-2000s so it was ingrained in me that management training was critical. It was provided and encouraged. Fast forward to other companies I worked for and it was less readily available. Some courses were offered, but typically not until the employee was already managing people.
Training is a multi-million dollar business in 2013. There are live sessions, webinars, podcasts and more. Training can be available, for a cost, to any company wanting to throw dollars in that direction. Again, I love training. I wonder, though – is it worth the money and does the formal training actually lead to greater success for the leader and better leaders? I decided to take an informal poll of successful leaders and influencers in the HR and recruiting industry as well as accounting, security, and the restaurant industry to find out how many of them received training before or when they were promoted to the manager level.
I received feedback from 19 people when I asked:
When you first managed people at work, were you given training? If not, how did you figure out what to do?
A majority of the respondents said they relied on instinct, on emulating good managers they had, or lessons from the “school of hard knocks”. A few other responses mentioned skills learned while volunteering, trial and error, learning not to micro-manage the team and also taking cues from the team. None of these successful leaders said they received formal training. Only one leader said they work where a formal program was offered. It’s called Manager Detox, and it is a course where managers are told how to avoid the pitfalls of bad leaders.
There are other people questioning the effectiveness of formal manager training programs. Barbara Kellerman is the James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Public Leadership at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. In her 2012 book The End of Leadership, she states, “For all the large sums of money invested in the leadership industry, and for all the large amounts of time spent on teaching leadership, learning leadership, and studying leadership… There is scant evidence… to confirm that this massive, expensive, thirty-plus-year effort has paid off. To the contrary: much more often than not, leadership development programs are evaluated according to only one, subjective measure: whether or not participants were satisfied with the experience. But, of course, even if they were, this does not prove the program had the impact it wanted or intended; in fact, the opposite might be true — it could be that the most satisfied participants were those who changed the least.”
So, you be the judge. Have you been formally training in the art of managing teams and individuals? Or, like many of us, have you been training in the school of experience on the job?
It's the entrepreneurial age and everyone wants to work for themselves. By 2025, Gen Y is going to make up 75% of the global workforce, and these millennials' independent-thinking and entrepreneurial mindset is going to change everything about the way companies are run.
Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding and author of the new book Promote Yourself, recently partnered up with oDesk, a global job marketplace, in a survey that found millennials have a different definition of the word "entrepreneurship," and 90% of them don't actually think of it as starting a company, but rather, having a risk-taking and self-starting mindset of someone who "spots opportunity.”
We spoke to Schawbel about what millennials want most out of their workplaces — it's more than just flexible hours — and how employers can keep them happy and productive in their jobs.
Provide Career Advancement
"The number-one reason why Gen Y employees leave is a lack of career opportunities," Schawbel says. "If you can't show them a path up, if you're not going to mentor and support them, they're out."
Millennials don't want to wait several years to find out where their career is headed, they want to make the most out of every opportunity today. This mindset comes in part because the job market is so uncertain and they don't know where they'll be tomorrow. Find ways to challenge your employees, and be clear from the beginning as to what their career path can be.
Communicate the Meaning Behind Projects
Schawbel explains that Gen Y has a need to "solve the world's problems" and if companies want to keep talent in their organizations, they need to clearly communicate long-term company goals with their hardworking and inspired workers.
"They're doing whatever they can to make a living because there is no promise for tomorrow," he says. "You can lose your job in two weeks. There could be a merger or acquisition. There are so many things out of your control, but the one thing that is in your control is becoming a go-getter and having the entrepreneur mindset."
Allow Them to Work on Passion Projects
One of the main reasons young people quit their jobs is because they want to work on their own projects. If the "passion project" is related to the employer's mission, you should encourage this entrepreneurial way of thinking. In fact, Google allows its engineers to take 20 percent of their time to work on something that they're passionate about.
Companies that employ a decent number of young people should support this independent thinking ability by developing entrepreneurial programs. Allowing workers to do this also increases loyalty, because employees know you care about their happiness and well-being. In the end, they will work harder for you, because you've allowed them time to work on something they care about.
In short, the typical 9-to-5 grind is on its way out and, as Schwabel says, "it's going to be less about who you work for, but who you're working with."
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It takes someone with specific skills to lead a company. Even founders don't always make the best CEOs for their companies.
So which leadership qualities do CEOs need to have? Do you need different skills to start a business than you do to help one pivot? Wharton professor and author of "The Leader's Checklist" Michael Useem tells us the three qualities every CEO needs to have.
Is leadership something that you're born with or something that's developed over time?
Wharton professor Michael Useem tells us that it can be both, but for most people, it is developed.
So, how do you teach or learn good leadership? In the interview below, Useem, author of the book "The Leader's Checklist" reveals three things people need to do to become effective leaders:
Startup Dashboard Co-op has changed the face of the historic east Atlanta neighborhood called Edgewood Avenue from just plain old back to gold.
Edgewood Ave had once been a thriving community until its residents abandoned the area. For decades following the end of segregation, the rows of neglected buildings stood empty until a contemporary art company decided in 2011 to rip down the boards that covered the vacant buildings' dusty windows.
The idea was to "let the public see what the building[s] looked like in its best dress," says Courtney Hammond, co-founder of Dashboard Co-op, a startup that seeks "raw space" for contemporary artists.
At the time, Dashboard had only existed for one year and Hammond and her co-founder, Beth Malone, had no idea what kind of impact their six-hour show would do for development in the neighborhood. "Our intent back then was to show high quality artwork and have interesting platforms to show it in," Hammond tells Business Insider.
How well has it worked?
Today, Edgewood is one of the most popular and active nightlife corridors in the city.
Turning spaces into gold
Since 2010, Dashboard has hosted around 12 shows — each show costing an estimated $33,000 to produce. Though Hammond says her talented team never spends as much as they're supposed to.
To find spaces, Hammond and Malone do a lot of wandering, talking to people, and searching through tax records.
When they were approached by a developer about Edgewood, Hammond and Malone were intrigued — they had both attended college near the area.
"[When I was a student], all of the windows in those buildings were boarded up," Hammond says. "I had never seen inside any of those buildings."
"There were two thriving businesses (Sound Table and Vesuvius) that were divided by one block on Edgewood Avenue. The street was very dark and pretty intimidating to walk down."
The developer wanted Dashboard to bring attention to the vacant buildings between Sound Table and Vesuvius. After contacting every building owner on the block, the team was given permission to use five buildings as platforms for seven artists.
"We love when the space becomes the artwork and the artwork becomes the space."
"We're pretty tenacious ... persistent ... whatever you want to call it," Hammond says. "We gave the artists a part of a building and asked them to build an immersive installation for the public that complemented the architecture of the space they were in."
Edgewood's debut art show brought in around 2,000 people in one night.
"We promoted the show as an 'art stroll' … people just moved up and down the street. Afterward, some of the owners called to tell us that a few visitors had contacted them about opening up businesses. Now every one of those buildings are filled."
Another show Dashboard hosted took place at the Goat Farm when it was still a 12-acre abandoned 19th-century cotton gin factory. Today, it's The Goat Farm Arts Center, a thriving arts incubator serving as a living and working space for one of the most densely packed groups of artists in the nation.
It only took a few shows before the founders realized that Dashboard's productions caused a "ripple effect" in neighborhood development.
"We have loved seeing how clever, talented artists can transform a section of a city, if only for just a moment, that in time changes the whole game for the area," Hammond says.
It all started in "a smelly, smoky Atlanta bar"
Hammond and Malone met at Georgia State University when Hammond was studying sculpture and Malone majored in art journalism. But it wasn't until their late 20s when they met in "a smelly, smoky Atlanta bar" to discuss platforms for installation artwork that plans for Dashboard were drawn up.
"It turned out we both noticed that the economic decline had resulted in a lot of vacant buildings." The two began exploring buildings that they wanted to use for shows, especially vacant, boarded up ones.
"We find that abandoned buildings are really interesting. We can go in and transform the entire space because it's like a clean slate. It helps to have artists who are inspired by the space ... it gives them inspiration to build off of that space."
"We love when the space becomes the artwork and the artwork becomes the space."
The art explosion in Atlanta
"There are so many organizations that started around the same time we did ... it was basically right around the time that, art-wise, we were at rock bottom economically," Hammond says.
"And now there's so much happening with the people who stuck around. It's this tenacity that has given this city a competitive edge in the art world."
When creative people gather together, it attracts other young creative people.
"If you look at demographics, the downtown area is much younger than it was a few years ago," she says. "There's this competition that's good. It isn't about making art anymore. It's about making good art."
Hammond says that Atlanta has given Dashboard the platform that a bigger city — such as New York — never could have, because there simply isn't any free space in more crowded cities.
Although Atlanta will always be home for the Dashboard founders, Hammond says they hope to impact other small growing cities around the country in the near future.
But as of right now, they're happy bringing the rest of the country to Atlanta.
A group of graduate students wanted to implement bike-sharing at Georgia Tech, but all of the existing programs were too expensive.
They decided to start their own.
viaCycle, which launched in 2011, is a "smart bike-sharing" company that currently operates 100 bicycles in three cities: Atlanta (at Georgia Tech), Fairfax, Va., and Philadelphia.
Unlike most bike-share programs, viaCycle does not require docking stations, which makes them around one-third cheaper to set up. Instead, the bikes can be locked to any old bike rack.
The bikes will be GPS-enabled, meaning users can lock and unlock bicycles through a phone call, text, or mobile app.
Siddharth Doshi, the CTO of viaCycle, tells Business Insider that flexible programs like viaCycle are the future.
"When we first launched, most people didn't know what bike-sharing was … Now people are familiar with docking stations, and most decision makers are aware of 'smart-bike' systems as well," Doshi says. "Smart-bike systems still haven't been implemented at city-wide scales yet which means cities will likely go with the traditional solution, but that is changing slowly."
How it works
Existing mostly as a vendor to large-scale institutions, viaCycle provides everything required of a shared bicycle fleet.
Through hardware, it's able to track bicycle location and ridership.
Once users have their bikes (the app will reveal the nearest location), they can unlock them by sending a text and including the bike's number. Payment is also automatic through the app, so there will be no need to carry a credit card during rental.
The pricing structure is determined by the institutions viaCycle works with. At Georgia Tech for example, rentals are free for the first 30 minutes with a standard membership. After that, for anywhere from 6-24 hours it costs $20.
The future of bike sharing in Atlanta and how viaCycle hopes to fit in
Atlanta is the latest city trying to catch up with bike-sharing programs spreading across the nation.
The Southern city plans by 2016 to have a vast network of bicycle facilities available, with 570 bicycles at 57 stations throughout the metropolitan area.
"What I envision is folks getting to jump on a bikeshare bike and travel through major dedicated facilties to get to all the major shopping centers, theaters, parks," says Joshua Mello, the city's Assistant Director of Planning-Transportation.
Atlanta has already allocated more than $2 million to upgrade existing bicycle lanes and build Atlanta's first bicycle boulevard and neighborhood greenway.
The proposed plan will include 120 miles of bicycle facilities and 60 miles of bicycle lanes connecting bikers from the west side (Vine City) to Inman Park, in addition to the Midtown area.
Atlanta is considering both fixed programs (those with a kiosk) and flexible systems (bicycles with an inherent locking mechanism like viaCycle's). Mello says there are tradeoffs to both. Fixed station systems allow anyone visiting to walk up to a station and use a bike at any moment without having to be registered. Flexible systems are cheaper, among other benefits.
While viaCycle will not be bidding to be part of the city's bike share program, it does hope to play an integral part in the city's future cycling plans.
"We're very aware of what's going on in Atlanta in terms of bike infrastructure and sharing," says Doshi. "We hope to be a part of whatever we can, not just from a business perspective but because we live in the city and would like to see Atlanta do well."
Either way, expect many more "smart" bikers in Atlanta and across the world.
It sounds impressive when a founder sells a startup for tens of millions of dollars.
But it sounds really impressive when a company sells it for hundreds of millions of dollars.
As a founder, which option is better? For many, a smaller exit should be the desired outcome.
The short reason: lower-valued startups take less time to scale and less venture capital to fuel which means founders will likely own higher percentages of their companies when they sell.
There are also fewer acquirers as the price of your company increases. And when an acquirer does come along, there's more due diligence which means sealing the deal can take much more time.
Unless you have a hot company like Instagram. Then you can forget all of that and close a billion-dollar acquisition in 48 hours.
Let's look at some examples.
So who would you rather be, a Portnoy and an Arrington? Or a Huffington? All made roughly the same amount of cash but for Portnoy and Richards, the smaller exits took significantly less time.
The decision to go big or stay small is one entrepreneurs shouldn't take lightly.
Arrington says he nearly accepted VC money for TechCrunch four times. He initially didn't raise money because it wasn't an option. In 2005 investors were less willing to write checks.
"When I started my first company, Achex, we raised $18 million in venture capital in 2000 from DFJ," Arrington wrote to Business Insider in an email. "The company later sold for $32 million, but due to a 2x liquidity preference (common in those days), the founders essentially got nothing, just a few hundred thousand dollars to not block the deal."
Arrington says he raised so much then because it was nearly impossible to build that kind of business without a lot of capital. "These were the days when you had to buy Oracle database stuff, and there were no easy hosting options like Amazon and Google offer...Today, most startups don't have multi-million dollar infrastructure costs just to get the service launched. So there is less need for capital to get to market."
Raising a lot of money at a high valuation has its benefits. It can mean overtaking competitors, which are prevalent in early stages (GroupMe had to battle Fast Society before selling to Skype, Foursquare had to beat Gowalla, etc). It can also make a difference in hiring.
It's easier to attract engineers and other talent when you have brand-name investors tied to your business and you can offer attractive salaries. Arrington recalls his difficulty luring his business partner, Heather Harde, away from News Corp where he says she was making $1 million. All he could offer was a $150,000 base and stock options.
Arrington sometimes wonders how much further he could have taken TechCrunch had he taken funding. "I often wonder if we could have grown faster, expanded in other ways, if we had raised money and were less frugal," he wrote.
For Portnoy, the pros of staying small and selling early outweighed the risk of raising a lot.
Portnoy had a family to support and no nest of cash to fall back on. An acquisition would make his financial situation much more comfortable. In addition, one of his board members had run a company that took a lot of funding and eventually went public. Even though that board member's company had an exit 30 times larger than Portnoy's, he ended up with about the same amount of cash.
Lastly, Portnoy knew most entrepreneurs only get one shot at a startup. If they fail, it's the end of the road. But if they're able to get an exit under their belts quickly, more opportunities present themselves later. Investors are eager to back founders who have successful track records. And obtaining personal wealth means a different, sometimes bigger mindset the next time around.
It's important to note that while smaller exits may benefit entrepreneurs, it doesn't always benefit investors.
"As a VC, I am now investing in companies shooting for outcomes >$200M, but it’s not the right model for every entrepreneur or every company," Richards says.
Arrington, another entrepreneur turned investor, referred to a startup his firm CrunchFund backed that sold early against investors' wishes.
(Side note: When an investor's and entrepreneur's exit plans don't align, investors occasionally offer to let founders take money off the table. Then, even if they go for a big exit and the company fails, the founders have a financial cushion. Snapchat's founders just did that; each was given $10 million in addition to the $60 million their startup raised.)
Although Arrington doesn't see himself founding another company, he says he'd always opt to raise as little money as possible. "In general I'd only raise venture capital if I absolutely had to. I'd raise it opportunistically based on market conditions to take as little dilution as possible. And I'd spend that VC money the same way I spend my own money in business - extremely frugally," he said.
Jonah Peretti, who co-founded The Huffington Post and now runs another high-valued company BuzzFeed, offers different advice.
"My advice is you shouldn't do a startup for financial reasons," he wrote via email. "Most startups fail and there are easier ways to make money with less risk...And if a company is successful, which is very hard to achieve, the money comes whether you build a fat company or a lean one. Mike [Arrington] and Arianna [Huffington] both did great financially. So did Mark Zuckerberg and Kevin Systrom. How many yachts can you water ski behind?"