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Days after pledging to expand internet, Ethiopia’s government shuts it off

Days after Ethiopian ICT officials made public pledges to improve net access, the government began playing on-again, off-again with the internet — shutting it down (almost completely) to coincide with the country’s national exams. Data provided to TechCrunch from Oracle’s Internet Intelligence confirmed intermittent net blackouts from June 11 to 14, with connectivity returning for brief […]

From Project Scarlett to Gooigi: The best of E3 2019

Every story about E3 has opened with a mention of Sony’s absence, and this one’s no different. The lack of one of gaming’s “big three” loomed large over the show, right down to a strange sense of space on the showroom floor. Even Xbox chief Phil Spencer mourned the absence of the company’s biggest competitor, […]

ThinkGeek.com to close, replaced as a section of GameStop

Sad news for anyone who loves geeky goods and top-notch April Fools’ jokes: ThinkGeek.com, the 20-year-old online retailer known for selling more geek-centric gadgets and peripherals than you could fit in a TARDIS, is going away. According to an FAQ sitting at the top of its site, ThinkGeek isn’t “shutting down,” it just won’t continue […]

Price tag to return to the Moon could be $30 billion

NASA’s ambitious plan to return to the moon may cost as much as $30 billion over the next five years, the agency’s administrator, Jim Bridenstine, indicated in an interview this week. This is only a ballpark figure, but it’s the first all-inclusive one we’ve seen and, despite being a large amount of money, is lower than some might have guessed.

You won the H-1B lottery: Don’t lose your ticket when changing jobs

Getting an H-1B skilled-worker visa is like winning the lottery — literally: With the number of new visas issued each year capped at 85,000, most of this year’s over 200,000 applicants face disappointment. But if you’re already working in the United States, then you’ve already won the H-1B lottery, and that makes you a hot commodity.

Why Tesla and Uber won’t escape 25% tariffs — for now

Tesla and Uber both had requests for tariff relief rejected by U.S. trade officials, a decision that will force the companies to pay a 25% tariff or seek new suppliers. Reuters was the first to report the decision by the office of the U.S. Trade Representatives. TechCrunch previously reported on the Trump administration’s refusal to […]

Tesla’s in-car touchscreens are getting YouTube support

Tesla has consistently been adding software to its in-car touchscreen infotainment displays — including sometimes things that probably leave a lot of people scratching their heads. During a special Q&A today at annual gaming event E3 in LA, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed that Tesla’s in-car display will support YouTube someday soon. This isn’t the […]

Tesla is bringing the ‘Fallout Shelter’ game to its cars

As part of the gaming option for Tesla’s cars, Todd Howard, the director of Bethesda Games, said that the company’s “Fallout Shelter” game will be coming to Tesla displays. Elon Musk is a huge fan of the Fallout series, saying in an interview at the E3 gaming conference that he’d explored “every inch” of Fallout […]

Daily Crunch: Telegram faces new attack in China

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here. 1. Telegram faces DDoS attack in China… again The popular encrypted messaging service Telegram is once again being hit with a distributed […]

A widely used infusion pump can be remotely hijacked, say researchers

A hospital infusion pump widely used in hospitals and medical facilities has critical security flaws that allow it to be remotely hijacked and controlled, according to security researchers. Researchers at healthcare security firm CyberMDX found two vulnerabilities in the Alaris Gateway Workstation, developed by medical device maker Becton Dickinson. Infusion pumps are one of the […]

Apple soups up Logic Pro X ahead of Mac Pro launch

When it announced the long-awaited Mac Pro relaunch onstage at WWDC last week, Apple settled on creative pro software as the best way to illustrate the desktop’s power. Along with Final Cut, Logic was one of the centerpieces of that introduction. Today the company issued the update to Logic Pro X illustrated onstage. Version 10.4.5 […]

Spotify outage not related to today’s update, company is working on a fix

This morning, Spotify announced the rollout of a redesigned app for its Premium users. Now, the service is down. The streaming music provider is experiencing an outage today, according to reports from social media and various outage tracking websites, including DownDetector. Spotify had failed to acknowledge the outage on its Spotify Status Twitter account. But […]

UK government invests $194M to commercialize quantum computing

The UK government today announced a £153 million investment into efforts to commercialize quantum computing. That’s about $193 million and with additional commitments from numerous industry players, that number goes up to over $440 million. With this, the UK’s National Quantum Technologies Programme has now passed £1 billion (or about $1.27 billion) in investments since […]

Why is Andreessen Horowitz (and everyone else) investing in Latin America now?

Investments by U.S. venture capital firms into Latin America are skyrocketing and one of the firms leading the charge into deals is none other than Silicon Valley’s Andreessen Horowitz . The firm that shook up Silicon Valley with potentially over-generous term sheets and valuations and an overarching thesis that “software is eating the world” has […]

Kickstarter issues new transparency guidelines for projects

Fresh off its 10th anniversary and under the helm of a new CEO, Kickstarter is shaking things up with a new set of guidelines targeted at seller claims. A new page titled Honest and Clear Presentation in Projects notes: The language you choose to present your project plays a critical role in setting expectations for […]

Google’s Game Builder turns building multiplayer games into a game

Google’s Area 120 team, the company’s in-house incubator for some of its more experimental projects, today launched Game Builder, a free and easy to use tool for PC and macOS users who want to build their own 3D games without having to know how to code. Game Builder is currently only available through Valve’s Steam […]

Calendar influencers? Event social network IRL raises $8M

Why is there no app where you can follow party animals, concert snobs or conference butterflies for their curated suggestions of events? That’s the next phase of social calendar app IRL that’s launching today on iOS to help you make and discuss plans with friends or discover nearby happenings to fill out your schedule. The […]

Monzo, the UK challenger bank with over 2 million users, expands to the US

Monzo, the U.K. challenger bank with more than two million customers and a unicorn valuation to go with it, has formally announced its U.S. expansion. The tentative move — which TechCrunch exclusively reported was underway five months ago — will see a U.S. Monzo app and connected Mastercard debit card made available via in-person signups at […]

Airbnb launches ‘Adventures’ for tourists seeking more thrills

Airbnb has debuted a new extension of its growing business in providing travel experiences in addition to temporary housing. Called Airbnb Adventures, it’s effectively a collection of tours and trips lasting between three days and a week that go beyond the usual city walking tour. One such trip, for example, is a wildlife excursion in […]

Target Circle and TapHeaven team up in a mobile marketing merger

Target Circle and TapHeaven announced they’re merging into a single company under the Target Circle brand. TapHeaven co-founder and CEO Chris Hoyt, who is becoming chief growth officer at the combined organization, said the two companies have been “trying to solve the same problem” — namely, eliminating many of the inefficiencies in the mobile advertising business. […]

Willo is a robot that wants to replace your toothbrush

If you think about it, the basic concept of a toothbrush hasn’t evolved since… forever. Sure, many people have switched to an electric toothbrush, but it remains a stick with a brush at the end. Willo thinks that’s not good enough. The company has developed an oral care device to improve brushing with a focus […]

VidMob raises $25M for its video advertising tools

Video advertising company VidMob is announcing that it has raised $25 million in Series B funding. When I wrote about VidMob’s seed funding back in 2015, it was focused on building a marketplace that connected marketers and professional video editors. That’s still a component of the VidMob business, said founder and CEO Alex Collmer, but the […]

Fieldays 2019: First day done and dusted

It’s so exciting to be back at Fieldays this year, showing how we can help empower small businesses in the agri sector to run their business smarter. As the largest agricultural event in the southern hemisphere, Fieldays is the perfect opportunity for farming teams to stop, take a breath and evaluate their farm processes and management – and we love being right at the heart of all of it.

The post Fieldays 2019: First day done and dusted appeared first on Xero Blog.

Yubo is a social network about socializing

Meet Yubo, a French startup that wants to make social networks a bit more… social. Yubo is an app designed for teenagers, and it’s all about meeting people, making new friends and belonging to a community. The app has quietly grown over the past few years and managed to attract 20 million users. There are […]

Providing supplemental educational videos for healthcare online nets Osmosis $4 million

With over one million YouTube subscribers and 500,000 registered users for its supplemental educational videos, Osmosis, which bills itself as the Khan Academy of healthcare, has raised $4 million in new funding. The round was led by Felicis Ventures, with participation from previous Osmosis investors including Greycroft, Coverys, FundRx, Figure 8, Social Starts, and LearnStart, “By reimagining medical education, Osmosis is […]

Insurance startup Lemonade expands into Europe

Lemonade, the insurance company that’s raised $780 million, is today expanding into Europe with the launch of Lemonade in Germany. As part of the launch, Lemonade is officially unveiling Policy 2.0, a simplified and easy-to-understand version of its renters and home owners insurance, to the European market. Lemonade launched back in 2015 with a brand […]

Foodles raises another $10 million for its cloud canteen

French startup Foodles is raising a $10 million funding round (€9 million). The company provides canteen-like services using connected fridges and daily deliveries. Creadev, DN capital and Adelie are participating in today’s round. This isn’t just fresh capital as existing shareholder Elior is selling its shares in the company. Elior is a large catering and […]

Infarm closes $100M Series B to scale its ‘urban farming platform’

Infarm, the Berlin-based startup that has developed vertical farming tech for grocery stores and restaurants, is disclosing $100 million in in Series B investment. The round is led by London VC Atomico, and consists of mix of equity funding and debt financing. Atomico Partner Hiro Tamura will also join Infarm’s board. Infarm’s existing investors, including […]

Workhorse gets $25 million needed to finish electric delivery van

Workhorse Group, the electric vehicle company that grabbed headlines last month over a proposed deal to buy General Motors’ Lordstown, Ohio factory, has raised $25 million from a group of unnamed investors. The money will not go toward the factory. Instead, it will be used for the more pressing matter of keeping the company running. […]

Qubole launches Quantum, its serverless database engine

Qubole, the data platform founded by Apache Hive creator and former head of Facebook’s Data Infrastructure team Ashish Thusoo, today announced the launch of Quantum, its first serverless offering. Qubole may not necessarily be a household name, but its customers include the likes of Autodesk, Comcast, Lyft, Nextdoor and Zillow . For these users, Qubole […]

Spacemaker scores $25M Series A to let property developers use AI

Spacemaker, a Norway-based startup that’s created AI software to help property developers and architects make better design decisions, has picked up $25 million in Series A funding. The round is jointly led by Atomico and Northzone, with participation from investors in property and construction tech including Danish property developer NREP, Nordic property developer OBOS, and […]

Fiat Chrysler partners with Aurora to develop self-driving commercial vans

Aurora, the autonomous vehicle technology startup backed by Sequoia Capital and Amazon, has struck a deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to develop self-driving commercial vehicles. The partnership will focus on integrating Aurora’s technology into FCA’s line of Ram Truck commercial vehicles, a portfolio that includes cargo vans and trucks. The deal could extend to FCA’s […]

Fallout 76 is getting a 52-player battle royale mode

Tonight’s Bethesda E3 press conference was all about free additions. In fact, the company actually took to the stage to apologize for Fallout 76’s rocky launch. The publisher quickly added that it’s continued to improve on the title since late last year, listening to player feedback and adding all sorts of additional content. That includes […]

Microsoft’s Project xCloud preview launches in October

Big news out of today’s Microsoft press conference. A few days after Google finally revealed some long awaited details about its Stadia offering, Microsoft just gave us a lot more info on its competitor, Project xCloud. Announced back in October, the game streaming service is designed to offer a hardware agnostic gaming experience. Unlike Google’s […]

6 Digital Marketing Trends Startups Should be Aware of in 2019

The rise of the internet and the increasing penetration of smartphones has made it necessary for businesses to take the digital route. However, it can be challenging to stay a notch above the competition amid changing customer expectations, Google algorithms, and the emerging digital marketing trends.

Without doubt, digital marketing helps new businesses be where their customers are, putting them on the fast track to success. Consequently, startups are striving to attract and engage their audience using various digital channels like websites, blogs, social media, video marketing, direct mailing and messaging.

If you are a startup owner, you cannot afford to ignore the hottest trends in the digital space. Here are the latest trends in the digital marketing domain, enabling you to create a solid marketing strategy that generates leads and drives business profitability.

1. AI Will Power Customer Segmentation

Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing digital marketing by offering innovative solutions that help businesses understand customer needs and preferences, and deliver customized experiences.

No wonder an increasing number of startups are introducing AI to their marketing intelligence systems. In fact, a recent study revealed that 64 percent of firms want to deploy AI this year to drive their algorithms and marketing campaigns.

Apart from offering chatbots and recommendation engines, AI applications such as voice search, image processing, smart report generation, predictive customer behavior, and digital advertising are helping young startups enhance customer experience and stay ahead of the competition. For instance, AI can track customer habits and shopping behavior and make personalized suggestions, giving the users the impression that the product is specifically designed for them.

Programmatic advertising is another trend within the AI space that enables businesses to automate ad buying and reach a specific audience. It is estimated that by 2020, nearly 86 percent of all digital ads will be powered by AI.

AI remains the most cost-effective solution for boosting the productivity and profitability of businesses, making it an indispensable tool for the success of digital marketing campaigns.

2. Demand for Accelerated Mobile Pages Will Increase

With nearly 60 percent of Google search queries coming from smartphones, businesses will have to work on reducing their mobile websites’ loading time in order to improve the SEO ranking and reduce the bounce rate. Customers expect a webpage to load in less than two seconds, failing which they may leave and never return. Refer to the infographic below to know why faster websites can help you boost your profits.

According to Google, more than two billion accelerated mobile pages cover over 900 thousand domains. In fact, the tech giant is moving towards using factors such as mobile-first indexing, accelerated mobile pages (AMP), and progressive web apps (PWA) to determine website ranking.

Startups cannot afford to lose customers due to slow page loading. As people increasingly use digital platforms for searching content and shopping, the demand for AMP will skyrocket.

3. Micro-Moments = New Consumer Behavior

Statistics shared by Digital Trends reveal that Americans spend an alarming 4.7 hours per day on their mobile devices looking for products, interacting on social media, or reading content. Moreover, customers are experiencing ‘content shock’ due to the constant bombardment of ads, tweets, messages, push notifications, and content.

Consequently, new businesses need to think of innovative ways to reach their high-tech customers. Lately, Micro-Moments has created a lot of buzz in the digital marketing space as it helps businesses learn about consumer behavior and deliver marketing messages that are tailored to the customers’ interests (all within a few seconds).

The Micro-Moments feature allows you to be on platforms where your customers are searching ‘in the moment,’ allowing you to increase your visibility and conversion rate. These platforms include Google, Facebook, Amazon, Google Maps and YouTube, among others.

4. This Is the Year of the Video Revolution for Marketers

Videos are on the growth trajectory within the digital marketing space, with 76 percent of business owners believing that video marketing can give them a good customer conversion rate and ROI. In fact, studies show that 68 percent of customers prefer watching an explainer video as against calling the customer service team for assistance.

Unlike plain content, videos build trust, which is the basis of conversion or sales. Moreover, videos increase the visitors’ time on a website, thereby boosting its SEO ranking. Statistics confirm that websites with videos are 53 times more likely to feature first in Google’s search results.

Video marketing is a hot trend in the digital world. Consequently, startups should develop an appropriate video marketing strategy to increase their website traffic and customer conversions.

5. Live Videos Deserve a Special Mention

Whether you use Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, or Facebook, live videos are growing in popularity. Social media stories are one of the most profitable techniques used by marketers to promote their brands and improve customer engagement.

The fact that these stories disappear after a specific period makes it easy for marketers to take advantage of the FOMO (fear of missing out) factor, creating a sense of urgency among the target customers. No wonder live video is estimated to grow 15-fold between 2017 and 2022, and will account for 17 percent of the total internet traffic by 2022.

This free-to-use effective marketing tool is definitely a must-try for all startups.

6. User-Generated Content Is King

Users trust insights, reactions, and testimonials from real customers rather than promotional pitches. According to Neilson Consumer Trust Index, 92 percent of customers trust user-generated content (UGC) over traditional sales pitches.

Apart from being a cost-effective marketing technique to generate unbiased content, UGC boosts customer engagement, builds customer loyalty, and maximizes business returns. UGC plays a critical role in instilling trust in the target audience and boosting conversion rates. Hence, new business owners will depend on influencers (not necessarily celebrities) to endorse their brands and create engaging and authentic content across digital marketing channels.

Digital marketing has come a long way in changing the manner in which businesses connect with their customers. In order to stay competitive and drive business profitability, startups should be aware of the latest trends in this domain and use them to their advantage.

The 2019 digital marketing trends shared in this post will help you create a solid online marketing strategy for your startup, positively impacting your customer base and bottom line.


Microsoft acquires Psychonauts-maker Double Fine Productions

As it did last year, Microsoft used its Xbox E3 keynote to announce its moves in bulking up its in-house gaming content. At its press conference, the company’s Xbox Game Studios head announced that Microsoft had acquired SF-based Double Fine Productions, a game creator that’s been around since 2000 and was founded by LucasArts’s Tim […]

These Sea Creatures Are Another Big Reason to Go to the Maldives

I was surveying the impossibly white sand and Technicolor-turquoise Indian Ocean outside my beach villa at the Four Seasons Resorts Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru—a dazzling, 44-acre island resort in the country’s remote northern Baa Atoll—when the ring of the mobile phone I’d received at check-in only 20 minutes before shattered my paradisiacal revelry. “The team […]

Game Pass Ultimate brings Xbox subscriptions together at a discount

Update 1:38pm PT: At its E3 conference, Xbox announced that the service will also be integrating Xbox Game Pass for PC as well. Xbox wants the future of the gaming business to lean heavily on subscription services. The company’s Game Pass service has let users download games from a pool of dozens of titles, now […]

Feedback loops and online abuse

I’ve long thought that much of the world can be explained by feedback loops. Why are small companies nimbler than large ones? Why are private companies generally more efficient than governments? Primarily because in each case, the former has a better feedback loop. When faced with a baffling question — such as, “why do online […]

Apple puts accessibility features front and center

Although the meat of Apple’s accessibility news from WWDC has been covered, there still are other items announced that have relevancy to accessibility as well. Here, then, are some thoughts on Apple’s less-headlining announcements that I believe are most interesting from a disability point of view. Accessibility goes above the fold One of the tidbits […]

Watch Microsoft’s Xbox E3 press conference live

This year’s E3 is already off to an interesting start. Sony’s nowhere to be seen, and Nintendo, per usual, has opted to go online only. That leaves Microsoft as the only member of the big three with its own, honest to goodness press conference. The company’s got a big opportunity here, and we’re hoping for […]

Microsoft shares pricing details for Xbox Game Pass on PC

Update: The beta is live today. Ahead of the Xbox E3 keynote this afternoon, Microsoft has dropped the pricing for their Xbox Game Pass plan which gives PC users access to a library of top games. The Service will be launching at a very reasonable $4.99 per month (though they note that’s an “introductory price,” […]

Simple Ways to Refresh Your Brand

Written for EO by Jessica Thiefels, social media coach and organic marketing consultant. A brand refresh is critical for all companies, from worldwide organizations to small local businesses. “As businesses grow and change, it’s important for their brands to reflect the current marketplace. Simply put, if you stayed the same while all the companies in your industry… Read more »

The post Simple Ways to Refresh Your Brand appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

What Driving in Italy Taught Me About Business Growth

Written for EO by Joshua Carlsen, who heads business-to-consumer lead generation and client retention at Propelo Media, an EO company owned by San Francisco member Andre Chandra. On a recent vacation in Italy, I enjoyed amazing sights and experiences, ranging from Michelangelo’s The David and the once-buried-now-excavated city of Pompeii to The Pantheon. I also indulged in culinary delights,… Read more »

The post What Driving in Italy Taught Me About Business Growth appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

Key Takeaways From Startup Grind Global

Carlo G. Santoro attended the 2019 Startup Grind Global as an Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) ambassador and mentor. He has been an EO Melbourne member for almost 25 years and is currently the managing director of RetailCare. After the Startup Grind Global conference, he took time to reflect on the lessons he learned from the many early-stage entrepreneurs he spoke… Read more »

The post Key Takeaways From Startup Grind Global appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

Why Every Startup Needs to Shift Its Focus From the Checkbook to Cash Flow

Written for EO by Terry Lammers, certified valuation analyst and managing member of Innovative Business Advisors.  After 24 years of raising children, my wife and I will become empty nesters soon. When I see a young couple with children, I think, “How the heck did we raise three kids into responsible adults?” That feeling reminds me of what… Read more »

The post Why Every Startup Needs to Shift Its Focus From the Checkbook to Cash Flow appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

10 Ways to Celebrate National Small Business Week

This week is National Small Business Week! And of course, that means we’re celebrating you — our awesome community of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Regardless of where you are in your business journey, remember to take some time and celebrate yourself.

Show your business some love by throwing a party, catering lunch, or celebrating in some unconventional ways that give back to the business you’ve worked so hard to build:

1. Join a BNI, Chamber of Commerce, or Other Business Club

Growing a business is all about who you know. You want to become the go-to accountant or architect that everyone recommends. To do it, you have to get involved. Joining a BNI, Chamber of Commerce, or other business club is a great way to get involved in your community. Membership will help you become a go-to connection.

Why do it:

People trust people they know more than people they don’t. Get to know more people and they will help spread word organically (and help you build reviews).

Read up:

2. Partner With Another Business

Get in front of a new audience by leveraging partnerships. Find another business who caters to the same people as you do, and dream up a way to collaborate. You might co-host an event, co-write an eBook, or help sponsor a contest where you give away their products.

Why do it:

Other businesses have huge audiences, many of whom may be looking for the very solution you offer but have no idea who you are. Dipping into those audiences is a huge opportunity and could result in some new loyal followers.

Read up:

3. Do Some Social Promotions 

Your customers are hanging out on social media, so meet them where they are! Put some money behind carefully constructed ads. Test out a few different ads against each other, and see how the channels work for you.

Networks like Facebook also have some great tools you should take advantage of. For example, adding Facebook Pixel to your website can allow you to target website visitors with ads automatically. And using Facebook’s audience data, you can even target shoppers who have recently looked for similar products and services as your business.

Why do it:

The world’s on social media, and paid promotion goes a long way. Just a few dollars can result in huge exposure.

Read up:

    4. Support Other Small Businesses

    Small businesses give back to their local communities through taxes and job creation, and have a huge impact on our world at large. They also share similar struggles, lacking the resources of big brands. They work tirelessly to keep their customers happy, and their employees are often involved in many aspects of the business, rather than very specific, niche tasks. Celebrate and support the other small businesses in your neighborhood this week.

    Why do it:

    Small businesses are more powerful when banded together. Help preserve your community and create a sense of belonging.

    Read up:

      5. Try a New Small Business Tool

      When it comes to running a small business, time and effort are precious resources, and the last thing you want to do is waste them. Thankfully, there are tools available to make your life much easier. From marketing to accounting, communicating, and more – there’s a tool for that!

      In fact, you can try Grasshopper’s virtual business phone system for free today! There’s no commitment and no credit card needed.

      Why do it:

      You’re a busy person, and it’s hard to stay organized. A tool can’t make or break a business, but it can take a load off so that you can focus on more important things.

      Read up:

        6. Brush up on SEO

        Getting Google to recognize you may seem harder than climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, but being a top search result can position your brand above the rest (literally). Plus, traffic that comes in (and buys!) via organic search is free. Instead of paying for each click, you simply reap the benefit of appearing when someone is looking for your products or services.

        Why do it:

        The world is online searching for products and services. If you’re not visible and searchable, you’re missing out on sales!

        Read up:

          7. Host a Contest

          Contests are a great way to engage your audience. These contests don’t have to be fancy sweepstakes. Instead, you can give away a product or an Amazon gift card in exchange for participation. Contests are a fun opportunity to get customers and clients to share their stories, and they can result in a lot of traffic to your site.

          Why do it:

          Contests create ‘buzz’ about your brand, products, and services. They encourage people to visit your website, and you can even use them to build your email list, all the while positively interacting with your customers.

          Read up:

            8. Find a Mentor

            If you don’t already have one, make it a priority to add a mentor to your arsenal of friends, partners and advisers. A mentor is someone who can help you navigate the challenges of running a business, make connections, and help guide you through the complex maze of starting and growing a successful business.

            Why do it:

            Mentors can be an invaluable asset to your business thanks to their knowledge, connections and skills. Having someone you trust to bounce ideas off of or talk you off the ledge might be just the help you need to take your business from good to great.

            Read up:

              9. Throw a Customer Event

              A little customer appreciation can go a long way and have a huge impact! It doesn’t have to take a lot of effort either. It could be something as simple as inviting them to the office for a small event, or hosting a happy hour.

              Why do it:

              The real value of these events comes from talking to your customers. You’ll be surprised at how much they’re willing to share and what you can learn from them. Bonus: They’ll feel appreciated and get to meet other like-minded people; helping not only you grow your business, but theirs too.

              Read up:

                10. Update the Office to Enhance Productivity

                Your office should be a stimulating and inspiring space. From the lighting to the décor, or lack thereof, it all plays a role in your mood and productivity at the office.

                Why do it:

                A quick office makeover (or makeunder if your office looks like it should be on an episode of Hoarders) can make all the difference in office productivity levels and even happiness. Think of all the time you spend at the office. A small investment here could yield big results in the future.

                Read up:

                  Happy National Small Business Week!

                  Investing time, energy and money in your business is never a bad idea when it’s done thoughtfully and intentionally. Consider celebrating your business, your customers, and your team members this week (or any week) through any of the ideas listed here, or something entirely unique to your company’s needs.  And don’t forget to support others in your region and industry by shopping small!

                  What will you do to celebrate National Small Business Week?

                  How to Continue the Momentum Gained from Small Business Week

                  The small business sector across the United States account for 58.9 million employees, 8 million minority-owned businesses, and 99.7% of all businesses in total. And while we are at the end of Small Business Week, there’s still plenty to appreciate them for next week, the week after and beyond. 

                  The potential to capitalize on all the momentum you’ve enjoyed during Small Business Week is here, which means there are few opportunities like the present to make the most of your small business plans. Whether that means starting up a small business of your own, showing your enterprising colleagues your appreciation, or even launching a new marketing initiative, here are a few ways you can strike while the iron’s hot:

                  Read the Trends and Position Yourself Accordingly

                  Use Google Trends, you’ll find that there’s no better time to have yourself positioned for a few select small business searches:

                   Picture1-png

                  Is it too late to capture that renewed interest? Not necessarily; trends tend to spike in interest without falling back to earth overnight. But even if that’s the case here, you can use next week as a reminder that there will always be cyclical trends from which you can build a more effective content calendar.

                  Using Small Business Week as a Wake-up Call

                  If you’ve ever sat in a cubicle, looking out the window, dreaming of a day in which you controlled your own financial destiny, you’re far from alone.

                  Small Business Week is more than just a way to appreciate small businesses or celebrate your success. For those who’ve considered starting a small business but have yet to take the leap, it can serve as a wake-up call. Why? Consider the following:

                  • Delaying your business means you aren’t learning entrepreneurship. According to one survey, 51% of people thought starting a company was the single best way to learn about entrepreneurship.
                  • Failure isn’t final. Even if your first business fails, you’ll learn a lot. There’s some data that suggests a slightly better chance at succeeding on your next go around.

                  Small Business Week is also a great time to remind yourself that you don’t have to go into a new business venture blind. There have never been more resources designed for aspiring small business owners like yourself, including the Entrepreneur Store and Udemy’s Small Business and Marketing Essentials. 

                   

                  Treating Small Business Week as Your Spring Cleaning Week

                  Even if you don’t make a yearly tradition out of actual spring cleaning, there’s no better time to trim the budget, simplify your life, and cut a few recurring items from your calendar. Think of it as your entrepreneurial spring cleaning time.

                  A great first step: evaluating the way you currently spend your time. Use a service like RescueTime to observe where you’re spending most of your time online. That’s when it comes time to use the KonMari method on your schedule. What activities do you need more of in your life? What sites do you need to restrict? What word habits do you maintain that seem to generate most of your results?

                  There are many different forms of clutter in our professional lives. From reducing the amount of clutter in our inboxes to eliminating the mental clutter that comes from managing too many projects, spring cleaning should go above and beyond “sweeping out the garage.” Sustaining the momentum from small business week should affect everything else you do at your business—and de-cluttering is a great way to ensure that happens.

                  Capturing More Business as a Result of Small Business Week

                  When you do manage to garner more attention, it’s important to make full use of it:

                  • Include a lead capture form on your site. If your small business is receiving more traffic this week, you don’t have much time to add a lead capture form that will ensure that you make full use of the boost. Software like Growlabs makes this easy to integrate with your web presence.
                  • Connect your web presence as much as possible. It’s difficult to drive a lot of conversions when a customer has trouble identifying your website from your social media presence. Give them the proper links and point them to the right landing pages every time you reach out. Now’s the time to make sure that your calls to action are above the fold, as welEngage Your Audience on

                  Social Media

                  There’s no time like the present to rethink the way you approach your social media. If your social media presence has been lagging behind as you concentrate on other areas of the business, you might want to consider the following:

                  • Engage new influencers. Some 49% of influencers now use influencers to make purchase decisions, and don’t be surprised to see that number grow to a majority in a hurry.
                  • Research new content. If you don’t have a content calendar, Small Business Week is a great time to look around and see what other small businesses are doing to promote themselves. Try following a few small businesses that strike you as particularly engaging. What content do they create, and what do you notice is garnering the most interest from your shared audience?

                  Try a New Avenue for Advertising

                  If you find your marketing has grown stale over the past year, branching out can be a great way to mix things up. 

                  In some cases, it may feel like you’re only spinning your wheels here. Why bother with mobile marketing, for example, if you’re just a local business? Keep in mind that statistics suggest that 78% of local mobile searches result in offline purchases. By combining your traditional advertising with something you haven’t tried before, you might stumble on a similar connection for your customers that you haven’t previously imagined.

                  Maximize Your Momentum

                  Small Business Week comes and goes rather quickly. The true question is what you did with your time and the subsequent boost that lingers for a few days. Have you committed yourself to another year of successful growth, or are you simply spinning the proverbial wheels until the next important calendar milestone? Take the steps you read here to ensure that you maximize your momentum after Small Business Week is in the rearview mirror.

                   

                   

                   

                  How One-on-Ones Can Reinforce a Culture of Integrity

                  If you are not running one-on-ones with your team members, you are missing out on a fantastic opportunity to build rapport and create a culture of transparency.

                  Why?

                  Because no matter how well-oiled your team is, one-on-ones go beyond getting a status update on daily projects.

                  They are about greater matters: an employee’s personal and professional development within the organization, soliciting feedback and creating an environment in which your employees are willing to be transparent.

                  Ultimately, your people will be more likely to stick around for the long haul.

                  Need proof? According to a Harvard Business Review study, the TOP 3 drivers of employee dissatisfaction are (1) the lack of recognition of employee achievements, (2) the absence of clear guidance and (3) not having the time to give meaningful commentary to the employee.

                  So if you’re looking into introducing one-on-ones, which will give you that warm, bubbly feeling, here’s a guide for you.

                  Use it to run silky smooth one-on-ones and foster a culture of transparency in your organization that will attract 90% of job seekers.

                  Put Your Team in the Know

                  First things first.

                  If you have never held one-on-ones with your team before, you may want to let your team know what these sessions are all about. This way your people will know what to expect from the get-go.

                  Set your team members’ expectations from the start by informing them that the purpose of these meetings is to help them feel included, informed, and supported in their day-to-day work. Then send a recurring calendar invite their way.

                  Build Cadence Through Consistency

                  After all, the key to running successful one-on-one sessions with your employees is to make them recurring rather than ad-hoc.

                  And there are several reasons for it:

                  • It will help you send a clear message to the employee that they are valued in the workplace.
                  • It allows for clear, consistent, and transparent communication between you and your direct and prevents them from interrupting you during the week with small questions. Instead, they will wait for your next scheduled meeting.
                  • Constant one-on-one sessions encourage a culture of continuous feedback, which adds to integrity within your organization.

                  Here is an important thing to keep in mind, though. Make sure you schedule one-on-ones with each and every team member — not only top performers.

                  Why? Because otherwise, you’ll be implying: there’s only a handful of people that are worth my time. The others aren’t as important and can wait.

                  The result of that?

                  The workplace engagement will increase with the employees you have met whereas the morale of those who you did not meet will be completely demolished.

                  Now, sometimes things come up, and you will have to do something about your one-on-ones. In which, you want to reschedule the meeting but never cancel it altogether.

                  On board? Great.

                  As for timing, try to schedule these meetings weekly, dedicating enough time to address all needs — at least one hour.

                  You can always end earlier if needed, but rushing through a 30-minute meeting will not provide the opportunity to explore ideas and provide coaching to your employees on their day-to-day responsibilities.

                  Let Them Run the Show

                  There’s a time and place when you should dish out your feedback. And that’s during the performance review meetings. One-on-ones should be all about the employee — unless, of course, something major comes up.

                  So put your employees in the driver’s seat and eagerly solicit feedback.

                  How? Start your meeting by asking the employee: So, how’s everything going? Any problems/issues?

                  This is a simple attempt at getting an initial data point that you can use to dig deeper into how they are progressing in their current projects, how they feel about their work, and whatever else that they want to bring up.

                  It should help you gauge their emotional, mental, and professional state of stability in their role and largely within your organization.

                  Stay on Top of What You Discuss

                  Next up, you want to fire up your shared Google Docs file, start documenting your one-on-ones and drive action.

                  A simple way to do this is to use the same document week in and week out, so employees can easily reference past projects they were working on, and keep an updated account of current tasks and projects (both short- and long-term).

                  It can look something like this:

                  Week 2

                  Long-term tasks

                  • List here, including a general timeline

                  Weekly tasks

                  • List here, including all relevant details

                  Week 1

                  Long-term tasks

                  Weekly tasks

                   

                  The idea behind using Google Docs or another document sharing tool is great because it enables you to stay on top of things and have an archived history of things done or planned to be done.

                  Here is how you can use these shared documents to max out your one-on-one sessions.

                  Review the Action Items Prior to Each One-On-One

                  At the beginning of each one-on-one session, make sure you do the legwork before the next meeting to review what needed to be done. This will help you pinpoint potential roadblocks, which you can discuss in the next meeting.

                  Decide on Takeaways and Deliverables

                  Throughout the meeting, write up action items and make sure you are on the same page with your direct in terms of what needs to be done before the next meeting arrives.

                  The greatest thing about one-on-ones is that when employees come to you with a problem, you will not only listen to the problem you will actually take steps to solve it.

                  And that paves the way for trust and integrity.

                  Bottom Line

                  At the end of the day, on-one-ones can supercharge your company culture allowing for transparency and higher job satisfaction.

                  But if you fail to treat each and every employee like they are worth every minute of your time, you will have disengaged employees who are unwilling to be integral and ready to jump ship.

                  The Best 10 Places to Share Your New Business Number

                  You have a shiny, brand new phone number—and you’re anxious to show it off. You should be. 63% of people still prefer contacting a business by phone, which means that if you want to grow your business, you need to get your phone number out into the world as much as possible.

                  Here are ten places you can share your new business number to drive more business, increase your visibility, and land more clients and customers for your company:

                  1. Your Website

                  Putting your contact information on your website is one of the most essential ways you can promote your business and drive new customers to finding your essential contact information—especially your phone number.

                  If you direct people to your website, including your phone number on your site is a great way to ensure they find the right place to contact you.

                  You can also try adding a “click to call” feature. Even with online chat and social media prevalence these days, QuickSprout found that a good “click to call” button can increase conversion rate by as much as 200%. That means more visitors become customers.

                  2. Your Email Signatures

                  Your email signature represents a great opportunity to send out your phone number over and over without having to think about it.

                  Placing a phone number in an email signature is even more effective given today’s mobile prevalence. With 75% of Gmail users checking their email on mobile devices, it’s easier than ever for someone to observe your phone number in an email, tap their screen, and reach you.

                  3. Your Facebook Business Page

                  A Facebook Business Page can be just as important as your home website. With 2.23 billion people using Facebook every month, it’s a great place to put your contact information.

                  The more people visiting your Facebook Business Page, the more you’ll be able to drive traffic to your website and to your contact information. If you put your phone number there, that means that every “like,” every “comment,” and every new visit on your Facebook Business Page is an additional opportunity for your business to grow.

                  There are over 80 million small and medium-sized businesses with Facebook pages now. You should be one of them.

                  4. Business Directories for Your Industry

                  The visibility of your business phone number will translate into visibility for you. That’s why number directories can boost your ability to make sales. Think of it as a passive way to attract more attention. You only have to place your phone number in a directory once. After that, any potential customers who come across it will come to you.

                  5. Review Websites

                  Today’s digital consumers tend to determine quality through recommendations. In fact, people who call from online review sites tend to be highly motivated buyers, with the average phone call lasting far longer than calls from mobile search.

                  Adding your phone number to sites like Yelp, Google Business, and G2Crowd can be the perfect way to get the word out, especially with an audience that’s actively looking for small businesses like yours.

                  6. Digital Assets

                  Digital marketing assets can be just like traditional paper ones—ads, brochures, pamphlets—only made available online. These can be great places to place your phone number. Not only do they help generate interest in your business, but they’re assets that you can continue to re-use and send out again and again. The more digital assets you have, the more opportunities you’ll have to send out your contact information to new potential customers.

                  7. Employee Resources

                  There’s nothing quite so personal when it comes to your business promotion than handing someone a business card. Employee resources like business cards, merchandise, postcards, or even labels and stickers are perfect canvases for your phone number. Like digital assets, they’ll continue to drive new customers to calling your business phone number even after you’ve handed them out. They’re inexpensive ways to get your phone number out to more people, especially if you do most of your networking in person. You don’t want to get caught without a business card.

                  8. Advertisements

                  If you take out traditional advertisements with magazines, newspapers, or special entries in the phone book, don’t limit your contact information to one avenue. You can include a link to your website and a phone number.

                  Billboards are another great avenue for local businesses that want to highlight a new vanity phone number. With the average American spending 20 hours each week in the car and 71% of Americans looking at billboards consciously, they still represent an ideal platform for your phone number.

                  9. Promotional Materials

                  These are especially popular amongst small businesses with a local market. If you can use promotional materials to get your phone number to the local community, you can expect more relevant customers to come your way. Consider any of the following as an ideal place to put your number:

                  • Brochures
                  • Handouts
                  • Direct mail
                  • Sales letters

                  10. Current Customers

                  Prepare an email blast to your current customers with an announcement about your new phone number. Even if most of your customers may not have an immediate need, this can renew their interest in your services.

                  It’s especially important to let current customers know that they can promote you as well. 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know; if you can get referrals working for you, you’ll stand an even greater chance at bringing in more business.

                   

                  A new business number is more than just an updated listing. It represents an opportunity to get your name out there, to generate interest from new customers, and to build business assets that continually drive new customers to your contact information. Start sharing your business number today!

                  How to Have Productive Meetings with Remote Workers

                  Holding effective meetings can be something of a challenge under the best of circumstances, but it can be particularly difficult with remote teams. Here are four keys to holding productive meetings with remote workers.

                  1. Use the right technology.

                  Chat and instant messaging apps have become just as popular for business as for personal use and can facilitate a great deal of communication. That being said, there is eventually going to come a time when you need to actually hold a meeting for your entire team. Under the best of conditions, it is difficult to keep meetings from being enormous time wasters, so the last thing you want is to spend time struggling with technical issues. Whether your meeting only involves one or two other people, or hosts a larger group, you might consider using a video conferencing service like GoToMeeting. Using a video conferencing service doesn’t just guarantee you a smoother connection, but it also allows you to easily share information right within the service.

                  2. Plan and communicate ahead of time.

                  Just remember that while meetings are important to help get and keep everyone on the same page, every minute that people spend in meetings is a minute they are not moving your business forward.

                  If you need to have a meeting that involves 10 people for 30 minutes and it ends up running an hour because of technical issues or a lack of planning, that equates to 300 wasted minutes or nearly five man hours of wasted time. Here are some tips to help you avoid such situations: 

                  • Choose your time carefully: This is particularly important if you are working with a team located in different time zones. You want to do your best to try and ensure that no one is required to attend a meeting in the middle of the night or even during an important event. Also keep in mind that just before lunch, people are hungry and just after lunch they might be ready for a nap. Ultimately, there is just no perfect time for a meeting, but you want to do your best to arrange a time that will gain you the most participation.

                  • Set an agenda and distribute it in advance: Meeting will always run more smoothly when everyone knows exactly what topics will be covered and are prepared in advance to offer any input that might be expected of them. This is also a helpful time management tool because it helps everyone keep an eye on the clock. It if it is supposed to be a one-hour meeting covering 5 topics and you are only on the second topic 30 minutes in, then most people will generally start evaluating their own comments or contributions for importance before making them.

                  • Let people know in advance what will be expected of them: Video or online conferences and meetings generally have different protocols than physical or face-to-face meetings. Just like every company has a unique culture, so does every team. What might be acceptable or even encouraged on one team might not be on another. It is always helpful to have a standing SOP for how to handle comments, questions, suggestions or even what proper etiquette is, but it’s even more important if you have new members or regular turnover. Remote teams, in particular, tend to have higher turnover than many office teams, so the faster you can get newcomers up to speed, the better.

                  3. Only plan large meetings if you absolutely have to.

                  There is perhaps no place where it is more important to remember that time is money than when it comes to meetings. While it may be simpler to schedule one meeting with the entire team to cover a range of topics, it is always important to keep in mind that you are still paying each individual employee for every minute they spend in a meeting.

                  In simple terms, if you have 10 employees that make $30 an hour and schedule a one-hour meeting, that meeting is costing you $300, not to mention your own time. On the other hand, if you schedule three 20-minute meetings with 4 employees each, then you’re still only using one hour of your time, but you’re only paying $40 for each meeting or spending a total of $120 in man-hours.

                  The other 40 minutes of each employee’s hour can be spent actually working rather than sitting in a meeting they only participate in for a grand total of 10-15 minutes. Before you schedule your next meeting, use a cost calculator to determine not only the most efficient but the most cost-effective means of getting the results or information you need.

                  4. Keep the meeting moving, but also create engagement.

                  For remote teams, a meeting may be one of the rare times they have any type of opportunity to interact with one another.

                  As important as it may be to keep the meeting moving and get what you need to accomplished, this can also be an important time for remote teams, in particular, to get to know each other or to learn more about each other.

                  You want to use your time wisely and plan it well, but sometimes the best use of your time might be to facilitate some team interaction rather than keeping things all business. While team meetings may be best kept to being few and far between, when you do have them, you certainly want to make the most of them.

                  Running an efficient meeting with remote workers may be challenging, but it can be done.

                  Your meeting will be more successful when you manage to keep people on topic and on track while also encouraging participation from everyone. The term “herding cats” often gets thrown around a great deal when it comes to managing a team, and this term is probably particularly appropriate when it comes to leading meetings.

                  Keeping your team on track and your meeting running smoothly can be a challenge, but with a little planning, preparation, and attention to detail, it can be successfully accomplished.

                  How to Reinvest in Your Business Without Wasting Money

                  Dollars are important. You work hard for them. When you have them, you can build a business, hire new people, and expand your offerings.

                  When you don’t, life is stressful.

                  It’s only natural that parting with the money you’ve worked so hard to earn gives you pause—even if the prospect of “reinvestment” sounds like the next logical step for your company.

                  But if you’re still skittish about sinking money back into your business, you have to remove the fear of wasting money.

                  Don’t let the risk of sunk costs steer your company off the path to growth. Instead, consider these strategies for reinvesting in your company without wasting money:

                  Tip #1: Reinvest in Areas You Know Need Improvement

                  One of the most powerful advocates of business reinvestment was the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie wasn’t a man who thought he should invest in a lot of side businesses—in fact, he once said that the key to succeeding in business was to put one’s eggs all in one basket—but he did believe in making his own businesses better. Carnegie would repeatedly sink surplus capital back into new technology in his steel mills to make them more efficient and better than the competition.

                  You don’t have to own your own steel mills to glean a lesson here: there are probably some areas in your own business where you know you can do better. Here are some focus areas to consider:

                  • Customer service. According to a study in the Harvard Business Review, customers who had the best experiences with a company spent 140% compared to those with poor previous experiences. Customer service is a reinvestment that pays off in reputation and the perception of quality—which in turn helps fuel further growth.

                  • Quality of your product or service. It’s not just about your reputation—it’s also about your quality. When a customer has your product in hand, what’s their experience? Will they feel more inclined to buy from you in the future?

                  • Productivity. The basic balance sheet of a business says that you spend X and receive Y. Productivity helps you minimize X while maximizing Y. The more productive and happy your employees are, the better off your bottom line will be. Think about reinvesting in productivity boosters such as software suites and investing in automating those processes that can be automated.

                  Tip #2: Reinvest in Your People

                  A company is only as good as the people who run it. That doesn’t just mean you. It means everyone—from the founder/CEO to the most recent hire.

                  This reinvestment isn’t only about working with the right people. It’s also about building a culture that attracts the right people. A 2017 study found that over 90% of top-performing employees viewed employment training programs and development opportunities as an important priority in deciding where to work.

                  If you aren’t reinvesting in your people, you might not always attract the right ones.

                  Want additional tips for creating and investing in an employee development program? Check out the resources available at Business.org.

                  Tip #3: Reinvest with Marketing that Has Demonstrable ROI

                  Sometimes you’ve already got the infrastructure in place. You’ve got good service. You’re ready to scale. You’re ready for more customers.

                  You just don’t have the customers.

                  If that’s the case, then reinvesting in your business with an increased marketing budget may be the way to go. Here are some marketing statistics and trends that should offer you the return on investment (ROI) you’re looking for:

                  • Email marketing. Statistics suggest that email marketing offers some of the best ROI, with three quarters of company agreeing that it offers “good” to “excellent” return on investment. If you knew in advance that most companies would agree that email marketing was a good way to spend your marketing money, would you do it? Well, now you know.

                  • Analytics. It’s not always easy to slap a bottom-line statistic on the value of analytics, but consider this: without effective analytics, you can’t run the tests that help improve your efficiency. Think of analytics as the bedrock of the knowledge you hold: with it, you’re able to demonstrate where you’re going wrong and where you’re going right. When you consider that only 21% of companies report confidence in their analytics, you’ll recognize what an advantage this can be.

                  • Video marketing. A 2013 survey showed that more than half of respondents believed video marketing to have the best ROI in all of marketing. Video has only grown in relevance since then.

                  Tip #4: Invest in Yourself

                  If you’re running the business, then your business will often grow at the rate you grow. That can be good news or it can be very bad news.

                  But there’s upside here: reinvesting in yourself will pay dividends in a wide variety of ways, from improving the way you run the business to the way you approach your personal life. It pays to invest in yourself—and oftentimes, it’s not nearly as costly as you might think.

                  • Take more time to read. Think of reading nonfiction as downloading new information like Neo in “The Matrix.” Reading gives you access to a wealth of experience and cuts down the learning curve in any area of life you can imagine.
                  • Take more time to manage your stress levels. You aren’t at your best when you’re stressed. Consider planned vacation days and de-stressing activities to be more than an investment in your business; they’re also an investment in your personal health. The better you function, the better you’ll interact with your company.
                  • Take more time to invest in your leadership skills. You might have had a great idea to build a company, but your entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t always translate to leadership skills. Consider an example from the NFL: in the off-season, quarterback Mitch Trubisky knew the Chicago Bears had invested a lot in of resources in the hope that he would lead their franchise to a winning tradition. Trubisky decided to read “The Captain’s Class” in the off-season to learn from the experience of historic sports dynasties throughout history; as it stands, the Bears (and Trubisky) are much improved on the year.

                  Spending money doesn’t always mean you’re wasting it. If you put it back into your business—and buy something other than more office supplies—there are plenty of ways you can maximize your productivity and build a stronger company.

                  4 Tips to Protect Your Information During Medical Data Breaches

                  As the companies we trust with our data become more digital, it’s important for users to realize how this affects their own cybersecurity. Take your medical care provider, for instance. You walk into a doctor’s office and fill out a form on a clipboard. This information is then transferred to a computer where a patient […]

                  The post 4 Tips to Protect Your Information During Medical Data Breaches appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

                  Oversharing: You’re Ignoring Your Child’s Privacy When You Post Online

                  Take it down, please.  The above is a typical text message parents send to kids when they discover their child has posted something questionable online. More and more, however, it’s kids who are sending this text to parents who habitually post about them online. Tipping Point Sadly — and often unknowingly — parents have become some […]

                  The post Oversharing: Are You Ignoring Your Child’s Privacy When You Post Online? appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

                  What Drug & Alcohol Addiction Taught Me About Risk & Reward

                  The following is a guest post by Deanna from MsFiology.com. Deanna is the first to kick off the Financial Samurai Underdog Tour where I highlight people who’ve overcome some sort of difficulty to lead a better life. If you’ve got an underdog story to tell, please sign up in the FS Forum and follow the

                  The post What Drug & Alcohol Addiction Taught Me About Risk & Reward appeared first on Financial Samurai.

                  Maker Faire halts operations and lays off all staff

                  Financial troubles have forced Maker Media, the company behind crafting publication MAKE: magazine as well as the science and art festival Maker Faire, to lay off its entire staff of 22 and pause all operations. TechCrunch was tipped off to Maker Media’s unfortunate situation which was then confirmed by the company’s founder and CEO Dale […]

                  Audi proves two little screens are better than one big screen

                  I’m spending some time in the new Audi Q8, and the car company equipped the crossover with its latest infotainment system. I love it, fingerprints, dust and all. The grimy screens are part of the story. I could have cleaned up the screens for the photos, but I thought it was essential to show the […]

                  Sennheiser debuts its first wireless gaming headset, the GSP 670

                  During Computex last week, Sennheiser gave media a sneak peek at its first wireless gaming headset, the GSP 670, slated to ship starting at the beginning of next month. The GSP 670 retails for €349 (about $393), significantly pricier than other popular wireless gaming headsets (as well as its wired predecessor, the Sennheiser GSP 600, […]

                  Daily Crunch: Google is acquiring Looker

                  The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here. 1. Google to acquire analytics startup Looker for $2.6 billion Google Cloud has been mired in third place in the cloud infrastructure […]

                  How RealtyMogul Performs Due Diligence On Their Investments

                  I recently had lunch with Jilliene Helman, Co-Founder and CEO of RealtyMogul. I was impressed with her focus on creating a long-term, sustainable business versus pursuing every real estate deal for growth’s sake. I’m currently in platform due diligence mode as some of my real estate fund investments are starting to pay out. I expect

                  The post How RealtyMogul Performs Due Diligence On Their Investments appeared first on Financial Samurai.

                  Instagram one-ups TikTok with karaoke lyrics

                  Lip-syncing jumpstarted TikTok’s rise to the center of teen culture, arguably displacing Instagram . Now the Facebook-owned app is striking back with a new feature that lets you displays lyrics on your video Story synced to a soundtrack you’ve added with the Music sticker. Lyrics could help creators and their fans sing along, and the […]

                  Google to acquire analytics startup Looker for $2.6 billion

                  Google made a big splash this morning when it announced it’s going to acquire Looker, a hot analytics startup that’s raised more than $280 million. It’s paying $2.6 billion for the privilege and adding the company to Google Cloud. Thomas Kurian, the man who was handed the reins to Google Cloud at the end of […]

                  Verified Expert Growth Marketing Agency: Ampush

                  Customers have described Ampush as the “McKinsey of growth marketing,” and in many ways, it’s apt. Ampush has a relentlessly quantitative, full-funnel approach to growth marketing, and they’ve built proprietary software to back it up. Co-founder and CEO Jesse Pujji explains why Ampush exclusively works with direct to consumer companies, and why they went from serving […]

                  Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Is Key To Our National Security

                  The Federal government has long struggled to close the cybersecurity workforce gap. The problem has continued to get worse as the number of threats against our networks, critical infrastructure, intellectual property, and the millions of IoT devices we use in our homes, offices and on our infrastructure increase. Without a robust cyber workforce, federal agencies […]

                  The post A Robust Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Is Key To Our National Security appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

                  What You Can Do to Reduce Your E-Waste This World Environment Day

                  Our love of technology and often biological need for new devices has created one of the biggest environmental issues of our time – e-waste. Today is World Environment Day – a great opportunity to ensure we are doing all we can to minimise landfill and protect our precious environment. Over the last 12 months, BYO […]

                  The post What You Can Do to Reduce Your E-Waste This World Environment Day appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

                  Is Trouble Brewing for Owners of Smart Coffee Makers and Kettles?

                  There’s an undeniable appeal to a smart coffee maker that knows when you wake up so you’re never left without a freshly brewed pot. Or a smart tea kettle that heats water to the perfect temperature for brewing your favorite varietal. But does the convenience of automation put your personal data up for grabs? Could smart coffee […]

                  The post Is Trouble Brewing for Owners of Smart Coffee Makers and Kettles? appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

                  Verified Expert Growth Marketing Agency: Bell Curve

                  Bell Curve founder Julian Shapiro describes his team as talented growth marketers who have a long tail expertise of various channels and who aren’t afraid to play part-time therapists. As an agency, they’re comfortable grounding founder expectations by explaining “No, virality isn’t a dependable growth strategy,” but “Hey, we can come up with a better […]

                  FS20: A New Property Leading Indicator That Gives Buyers Confidence

                  Given the relative illiquidity of real estate, there is huge room to get your property transaction right or wrong. My hope is for all of you to get maximum value whether you’re buying or selling. There are many variables that determine the current and future value of a property. These include, but are not limited

                  The post FS20: A New Property Leading Indicator That Gives Buyers Confidence appeared first on Financial Samurai.

                  Majelan is a personal podcast player with premium content

                  Meet Majelan, a French startup that wants to make podcasts more accessible. Behind the scene, Majelan is the startup created by former Radio France CEO Mathieu Gallet and Arthur Perticoz. The app is launching today on iOS and Android in the coming days. Given that Gallet was previously at the head of all French public […]

                  Tink, the European open banking platform, announces PayPal as a strategic investor

                  Tink, the European open banking platform that recently raised €56 million in new funding, is disclosing that PayPal has become a strategic investor. The online payments giant joins a long list of existing backers that includes U.S.-based Insight Venture Partners, Sunstone Capital (which recently re-branded as Heartcore Capital), SEB, Nordea Ventures and ABN AMRO Digital […]

                  How to Rank New Content Faster

                  If I write a blog post on any topic, what do you think happens? It typically gets indexed by Google the same day I publish the content and within a week it tends to rank high on Google. Then again, I have a domain score of 94 and I have 633,791 backlinks. Just look at […]

                  The post How to Rank New Content Faster appeared first on Neil Patel.

                  The Monthly “Digital Maturity” Book Tuning: The Multitude of Digital Management Maturity June 2019

                  Digital means change, choice, innovation, speed, and customer delight. 

                  Digital makes a significant impact on every aspect of the business from people, process to technology, both horizontally and vertically. The digitalization flattens the organizational hierarchy and blurs the functional, organizational and geographical borders in the business ecosystem. It is like the gigantic puzzle with many misplaced pieces, you have to put them all in the right places to discover the real meaning and unleash its full potential. You cannot make a true digital paradigm shift without an in-depth understanding of the digital interconnectivity and embracing the multitude of digital maturity.

                  The Multitude of Digital Management Maturity


                  Three Levels of Innovation Management Maturity
                  There is no doubt innovation is becoming more important whereas technology turns to be so advanced and the pace of change is increasing significantly. In practice, innovation focus and capabilities an organization demands depend on the circumstances the business is in. Different organizations have different strengths and competency to innovate. Here are three levels of innovation maturity.

                  How to Reach Digital Maturity From Functioning to Firm to Delight The organization or company may be in business for many years but has not matured its management disciplines and structural flexibility. Companies need to embed digital into the very fabric of the business, explore digital management practices in a structural way in order to make a seamless shift from functioning to firm to delight, and reach the higher maturity of the business to get digital ready.

                  The Shape of Digital: Three Upward Spirals to Improve Organizational Maturity Digital organizations are hyperconnected and interdependent. The digital boundary has the zigzag pattern on it, it is fluid enough to keep ideas flow and information flow, but solid enough to create order, enable responsibility-taking and manage business effectiveness and efficiency, to achieve a state of dynamic business balance. Digitalization is inspirational, iterative, and progressive, is the shape of digital like the upward spiral to reach a high level of organizational maturity?

                  Three Aspects to Reach the Next Level of IT Maturity Either at the individual or organizational level, maturity is the state of ripeness, quality, fluency, balance, and resilience. IT is moving up its maturity from functioning to firm to delight, running full speed with less friction. IT maturity is based on overall business maturity. IT maturity can further accelerate business changes and make a leap of digital transformation.

                  Shape a High Mature Digital Organization by Leveraging Design Maturity Model Digital means change, choice, innovation, speed, and customer delight. Tuning the organizational design and structure, developing and delivering quality products, services or business model to achieve high performance and unleash high potential is the symbol of digital maturity. Organizational design is the ultimate expression of the organization’s strategy because it reflects the resource allocation and configuration of the value-creating business processes. More and more organizations improve their organizational maturity from functioning to firm to delight by applying design thinking and leveraging design maturity model. Design Maturity Model is defined as the organization’s relationship with design and the extent to which the organization utilizes design in conjunction with the business products/services/ models design or management practices.

                  The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 2.8 million page views with about #5700th blog posting in 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. The “Digital Master” book series includes 27 books to share insight from the multidimensional digital lens and perceive the multi-faceted impact the digital era upon us is making to the businesses and society. The content richness is not for its own sake, but to convey the vision and share the wisdom. Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking and innovating the new ideas; it’s not just about WHAT to say, but about WHY to say, and HOW to say it. It reflects the color and shade of your thought patterns, and it indicates the peaks and curves of your thinking waves. Unlike pure entertainment, quality and professional content takes time for digesting, contemplation and engaging, and therefore, it takes time to attract the “hungry minds” and the “deep souls.” It’s the journey to amplify diverse voices and deepen digital footprints, and it’s the way to harness your innovative spirit.

                  The Best “Prioritization” Quotes of “Digital Master” May 2019

                  The challenge of digital management is to set the priority right in strategy execution and manage the tactics with efficiency.

                  Digital Masteris the series of guidebooks (27+ books) to perceive the multi-faceted impact digital is making to the businesses and society, help forward-thinking organizations navigate through the journey in a systematic way, and avoid “rogue digital.” It perceives the emergent trends of digital leadership, advises on how to run a digital organization to unleash its full potential and improve agility, maturity, and provide insight about Change Management. It also instructs the digital workforce on how to shape a game-changing digital mindset and build the right set of digital capabilities to compete for the future. Here is a set of  “Prioritization” quotes in “Digital Master.


                  1 The prioritized mind can spend time and energy on strategic thinking and focus on result-driven activities.

                  2 Prioritization is critical – as the alternative is a land grab for resources. Prioritization is critical to force people becoming more innovative for change and problem solving

                  3 Setting priority to leverage limited resources and talent to maximizing business value is an important step in climbing organizational maturity.

                  4 The challenge of digital management is to set the priority right in strategy execution and manage the tactics with efficiency.

                  5 The challenge is to prioritize what you know about and keep an eye open for signs of things you don’t know about.

                  6 Continuously try to improve/develop/change everything in a prioritized order as long as it creates a more long-term business advantage and solves the critical business challenges:

                  7 IT maturity is proportional to overall organizational maturity: You can’t determine the CIO priorities until you have fully understood the company, industry, the geographic location, and the appetite for risk.

                  8 It is important to prioritize things, make use of clear targets, communication and embed prioritization mechanism into the multitude of management to unlock performance and unleash digital potential.

                  9 Embed prioritization mechanism into digital innovation management is about how to strike the right balance between increasing productivity and encouraging innovation; between setting standard and let “out-of-the-box” thinking flow; between risk management and risk tolerance; between discovering the new way to do things and “we always do things like that;” and it’s about optimizing control and improving working performance.

                  Leverage Multidimensional Thinking for Change Management

                  The successful businesses are the ones that have learned how to apply multidimensional thinking and multitude of change management discipline to implement change time after time and build it as a solid ongoing business capability.

                  Change is the new normal. Change is resulting in a flexible and dynamic organization able to adapt to new and unexpected situations and market demand and execute strategy seamlessly. How successful organizations can handle continuous digital disruptions depends on how fast and capable they can adapt to the ever-changing environment. Change Management success is not accidental, especially large transformative change requires a clear vision, strategic planning, exemplified change leadership, multidimensional thinking, effective communication, and logical processes to overcome the challenges

                  Critical thinking: Change is chaotic, but change management needs to be well designed and practiced in a structural way. Leveraging Critical Thinking in Change Management means taking multiple perspectives into account, figuring out the “Big Why” and dig through the root cause, minimizing “agendas” or “spin,” understanding the emotional components, working through the logic, reconciling differences and inconsistencies in data or sources, using a set of criteria for evaluating information, conclusions and considering unintended consequences. The radical change needs to de-program old mindsets, let go of the outdated traditions or the voices from the past, make the observation and deepen understanding by asking the right questions and keep opening for varying perspectives. Critical Thinking is commonly understood to involve the willingness to integrate new or revised perspectives into better ways of thinking and acting, and willingness to foster criticality in others. Critical thinking as the core skill in Change Management is concerned ultimately with the status of claims such as evidence, recommendations, predictions, principles, analysis, especially when inferences are drawn from them. The ultimate goal for change is to solve business problems large or small. Thus, it’s important to think critically, take the logical scenario of goal-setting, decision making, mind crafting, process tuning, performance indicator selections & measurement, and take what is known and which needs to be understood to come up with the right solutions.

                  Creative Thinking: We live in the information-abundant and idea-rich knowledge economy, although not every change is innovation, there is no reason why creativity cannot or does not form part of the Change Management practices. Many change failure or problem-solving ineffectiveness are caused by “We always do things like that,” mentality, even circumstances already change the long time ago. In many circumstances, it takes interdisciplinary knowledge and cross-functional communication and collaboration to manage large scale changes. In fact, applying creative thinking to Change Management would make changes often more effective, fun and desirable. It starts from asking open questions such as “What If,” “Why Not,” connecting dots which are usually seemly unrelated because they are scattered in transdisciplinary domains. After clarifying “why or why not; what or what if” part of the scenario, often the field dwindles when the discussion comes to “how. Applying creative thinking to Change Management motivates people riding above the learning curve, stimulates their intellectual curiosity and becomes the true change agent and creative problem-solver. Because people can learn a lot from different mindsets, cultures, and positions, organizations as a whole can be competitive enough to keep surging further. That’s actually the very purpose of change – to nurture a highly inclusive working environment to keep creative energy flow and achieve long-term business success.

                  Systems Thinking: The business change shouldn’t be just a few random efforts put on the surface, it must be defined in its base elements such as process, structure, culture, and associated benefits to be achieved through productivity, financial and innovation lenses. Systems Thinking engenders new perspectives or actions as part of the process of creating a cross-disciplined understanding of the business and managing changes systematically. Digital organizations are like the switches connected into the hyperconnected business ecosystem; they are also like living systems interwoven by many interdependent substems. Thus, business leaders should become aware of other systems that they interact with and apply Systems Thinking to understand the interconnectivity between parts and the whole by asking further questions such as: “What is the bigger picture here?” “How is your current problem or goal related to your team, departmental, organizational, or industry context?” Many of today’s problems are not isolated, it’s helpful for business managers to leverage Systems Thinking for identifying multiple, perhaps interconnected problems, so later, the business can figure out the holistic solution to fix them without too much side effect. Organizations need to take systematic steps in evolutionary Digital Change Management. It means to make a radical shift from a silo and linear classic management practices to holistic and nonlinear management discipline by leveraging systematic methodologies, employing and applying the criteria deemed appropriate by the thinkers involved, to arrive at the tangible and reproducible business results.

                  Change is the ‘Now.’ Transformation is a journey and needs a larger strategic investment. It requires step-function changes in collective mindset, tools, cultures, leadership, processes, and embed creativity mechanism in change management scenario. There is no panacea, no magic bullet with regards to change management, The successful businesses are the ones that have learned how to apply multidimensional thinking and multitude of change management discipline to implement change time after time and build it as a solid ongoing business capability.

                  The Monthly “Digital Master” Book Tuning: How to Drive a Smooth Digital Transformation June 2019

                  Going digital is about discovering the unique path to take the adventure for reaching a well-defined vision by exploring new possibilities.


                  Digital makes a significant impact on every aspect of the business from people, process to technology, both horizontally and vertically. Digital becomes the very fabric of high performing business, being outside-in and customer-centric is the new mantra for forward-looking and high mature digital organizations today. Digital Master refers to those high-performing, highly innovative and high-mature (less than 15%) digital organizations; they have both clear digital vision and well-crafted digital strategy; they are courageous to be in the vanguard of digital transformation with a quantum lead. Digital leaders must realize that you cannot wait until there is an immediate pressing task, continuous adaptability is necessary in an ever-changing world, in order to run a future-driven digital organization.


                       How to Drive a Smooth Digital Transformation  

                  Three Tough Questions Digital Leaders need to Ponder for Driving a Smooth Digital transformation The pervasive digital technology and exponential growth of information bring unprecedented opportunities and risks, many organizations are like to explore digital by following nonlinear patterns with accelerated speed. They have to strike the right balance between chaos and order, innovation and process, change and stability, etc. Business leaders need to ask tough questions, clarify the goals, and identify pitfalls on the way. At the high level of maturity, organizations have to stretch out in every business dimension for driving the full-fledged digital transformation.

                  Taking Three Dedicated Efforts to Accelerate Digital Transformation?  Digital disruptions are frequent and unstructured, businesses leaders just have to get used to the new normal, learn how to deal with them smoothly, The digital organization is a dynamic system which needs to continue evolving and adapting, be able to identify the critical spot to scale up, take a systematic approach to develop business strengths and adapt to the “VUCA” characteristics of the dynamic business world. Here are three dedicated effort to improve organizational maturity and accelerate digital transformation.

                  Make Stride Toward Digital Transformation by Avoiding Three Traps Change is overwhelming. There are all sorts of changes – positive changes, negative changes, incremental changes and disruptive changes, change as a response to changing external conditions and changes that are initiated because of internal factors. Change you want and change that is forced upon you. Some change is inevitable and another change is elective. Sometimes change is the problem, sometimes lack of change is the problem, sometimes the lack of clarity to discern the difference is the problem. Therefore, change is complex and overall speaking, change management has a very low success rate. Forward-looking organizations across the vertical sectors are on the journey of strategy-driven digital transformation; it means that the company needs to reinvent itself, change to the fundamental business model, culture, or other critical business factors for reaching the next level of organizational growth and maturity. It’s a thorny journey, how to make a stride toward the seamless transformative change by avoiding traps and pitfalls on the way?

                  Trending the Digital Path via Bold Experimentation The emergence of potential opportunities for exploring digital is likely to follow a nonlinear pattern with the faster speed and pervasiveness of information technology. Going digital is about discovering the unique path to take the adventure for reaching a well-defined vision by exploring new possibilities, experimenting with better ways to do things, refining information into business insight, and developing the unique business competency.

                  Seeing is Believing: Three Visualization Practices to Lead Digital Transformation? Digital transformation is a long journey, the path to digital can be iterative, evolutionary, revolutionary, or disruptive. Seeing is believing, one picture is worth a thousand words, all being said, the digital organization needs to be painted into the big picture, capture big insight, create effective visualization in order to enforce communication and improve manageability to catalyze large scale of changes such as digital transformation.

                  The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 2.8 million page views with about 5700+ blog posting in 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. The content richness is not for its own sake, but to convey the vision and share the wisdom. Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking; it’s not just about WHAT to say, but about WHY to say, and HOW to say it. It reflects the color and shade of your thought patterns, and it indicates the peaks and curves of your thinking waves. Unlike pure entertainment, quality and professional content takes time for digesting, contemplation and engaging, and therefore, it takes time to attract the “hungry minds” and the “deep souls.” It’s the journey to amplify your voice, deepen your digital footprints, and match your way for human progression.

                  Running IT as Strategic Differentiator of the Business

                  Organizations in which the business management is technologically evolved can keep up with digital technology developments around them and manage a seamless digital transformation.

                  With the overwhelming growth of information, rapid changes, and fierce competitions, nowadays IT has a lot of things to leverage, IT touches both hard business processes and soft human behavior. IT needs to work both in IT and on IT; IT and business need to develop a true partnership and work to pursue the desired outcomes. IT has to shift from “IT vs. business” to “IT as the business.” IT has to move from a reactive order taker to the strategic differentiator of the business.

                  In the digital era, information potential directly impacts the potential of the company: All forward-thinking companies across the vertical sectors think they are in the information management business. They proactively invest in strategic information management solutions in order to run a smart digital organization. To keep information flow and capture the business insight from it, more attention needs to be placed on the conditions that allow information or knowledge to move around and generate multidimensional business value. With information-based knowledge, IT can contribute significantly and directly to the business model and strategic direction. IT leaders are able to share their technological vision, make sure that the top executive teams first understand what key elements are to drive the future business growth, and then, put the well-designed framework in place to map IT strategy to the strategic goals of the business, set Key Performance Indicators, and determine what Information Technology investment will accelerate the changes you want to see in your performance indicators. CIOs should also get involved to make sure the technology selected will actually work and can be supported, or even practice the bold leadership with a cautious attitude for driving strategic initiatives systematically and proactively.

                  IT organizations need to focus on business value and capability building: Digital organizations need to get away from letting things fall through and start creating an integral whole by utilizing all necessary processes to solve complexities and underpin dynamic business competency. IT is the linchpin of weaving all important business elements into differentiated business competency. Businesses today not just use IT a digital extension, but leverage IT across their organization to attain the enterprise-wide digital competency.IT is uniquely placed to influence changes through the expansion of domains of automation and the use of new technologies to provide a competitive advantage, open new channels to market, retain and grow the customer base. Digital IT has a wider spectrum of integration of IT-enabled business solutions with continuous deliveries. However, without business involvement, it’s not going to work. Leveraging unique IT knowledge and capability to build business competency is crucial for the business’s long-term growth and maturity. IT organizations must be able to contribute to the future business strategy by leveraging technology as a means to an end, not the end itself.

                  IT and business need to develop a true partnership and work to pursue the desired outcomes: To run IT as a strategic differentiator of the business, IT leaders should develop the strong partnership with business executive peers, functional managers, as well as other business service providers within the digital ecosystem. The strong level of business collaboration should entail effective communication, build a trustful business partnership and amplify collective potential. It means having IT and business collaborate as the trustful business partner so that strategies, people, and project portfolios can work in harmony. IT should also build a solid partnership with a mixed bag of diversified vendors across the digital ecosystem, running an intrapreneurship manner to solve thorny business problems innovatively. In today’s digital era, information and technology are often driving business transformation. The large leap can be made through the strategic partnership establishment by innovating, modernizing business models and developing significant opportunities for catalyzing business growth and delighting customers.

                  Great opportunities, dangers, and disruptions are around every corner. Organizations in which the business management is technologically evolved can keep up with digital technology developments around them and manage a seamless digital transformation by integrating IT with change management to deliver strategic differentiation.

                  How To Take Advantage Of Rich People So You Can Get Rich Too

                  I’ll never forget what my contractor told me in the midst of my home remodel. “After I’m done building your bathroom, I’m heading over to Pacific Heights and charging 2X more for a similar-sized bathroom,” he said. “How is that possible when sheetrock, pipes, tiles, and fixtures all cost about the same?” I asked. “Easy.

                  The post How To Take Advantage Of Rich People So You Can Get Rich Too appeared first on Financial Samurai.

                  The Monthly “12 CIO Personas” Book Turning: CIOs as “Chief Intrapreneur Officer” May 2019

                  The digital CIOs have to wear different colors of hats and master multiple leadership personas and management roles effortlessly.


                  This book “12 CIO Personas: The Digital CIO’s Situational Leadership Practices” is the extensive brainstorming and logical content expansion of my book “CIO Master: Unleash the Digital Potential of IT,” to reimagine and reinvent CIO leadership via practicing multitudes of digital influence. The important thing is that CIOs as the top leadership role must have a strong mindset, a unique personality, and a clear idea of what needs to be done, yet creative enough to not hold the company back from growth. Regardless of which personality they have, digital CIOs need to be both transformational and situational, innovative and tactical, business savvy and technology insightful, communication-effective and operation-efficient. Here is a set of blogs to brainstorm CIO as “Chief Intrapreneur Officer.”

                  CIOs as “Chief Intrapreneur Officer”

                  CIOs as Chief Intrapreneur Officer: How to Encourage Creativity and Manage Innovation It’s common that many IT companies tend to focus more on their core competencies with age and often forget about the value of innovation. Without encouraging creativity, organizations would be upstaged by the ones that are creative because disruptive innovation will happen no matter how well you prepare. Digital IT needs to be run as a business, and digital CIOs should be the “Chief Intrapreneur Officer,” with “whole brain” thinking: Being logic in your mind based on your years of engineering training and experiences and be creative in your heart, dream big and think big. Because the CIO’s vision will directly impact their organization’s strategic perspective for the long term. So, how to encourage creativity and manage innovation effectively?

                  Three Perspectives of Intrapreneur Leadership? Corporate Entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship has been recognized as a potentially viable, it means for promoting and sustaining organizational performance, renewal and enforce competitiveness. Being entrepreneurial is first the mindset, then an attitude and skills are the easier part to be developed. Here are three aspects of intrapreneur leadership.

                  CIOs as “Chief Intrapreneur Officer”: Practicing Entrepreneurship in IT Contemporary CIOs have multiple personas, “Chief Innovation Officer,” and “Chief Intrapreneur Officers,” are the most pertinent titles for CIOs to fit the digital leadership role in running IT as a business. Companies are recognizing that IT is roughly coupled to the business strategy as an innovation engine. With the increasing pace of changes, CIOs generally have greater opportunities to stand out and practice digital leadership in driving innovation across their companies. Being entrepreneurial is first the mindset, then an attitude and skills are the easier part to be developed. More and more forward-looking IT organizations are practicing entrepreneurship and running IT as a software startup to play the niche and make continuous deliveries.

                  CIOs as “Chief Intrapreneur Officer”: How to Sow IT Innovation Seeds via asking Open-Ended Questions
                  Intrapreneurship is about creating a new venture from within an established company to look for changes and explore new opportunities. Many IT organizations become the change department of their company and they have to become the innovation engine of the business as well. Intrapreneur CIOs need to be dynamic people with vision, openness, inquisitiveness, growth and complexity mindset. Intrapreneur leaders practice entrepreneurship in the large enterprise to rejuvenate culture, advocate digitalization, inspire innovation and accelerate the speed of changes. They master at asking open-ended questions to sow innovation seeds and reimagine IT to reach the next level of organizational maturity.

                  Running IT as the “Center of Possibility”
                  IT continues to grow in importance to organizations, both operationally and as a competitive advantage. To keep IT relevant, IT management shouldn’t just practice some transactional activities or act as a controller only. It has to explore both the art and the science of digital management discipline, run IT organization as the “center of possibility,” to accelerate its performance and unlock business potential.

                  Modern organizations have their own sophistication with silo functions, the sea of information, and the pool of talents. The CIO is an inherently cross-functional role, to bridge the business and IT; the data and insight, the business’s today and tomorrow. The digital CIOs have to wear different personas and master multiple leadership and management roles effortlessly. They need to lead at the strategic level for conducting a complex digital orchestra; they should be handy managers to plumbing information and keep it flow smoothly; they also have to be like the diligent gardeners, to build a unique IT landscape via tuning technology, removing waste, nurturing culture, and empowering people.

                  The Best “Advancement” Quotes of “Digital Master” May 2019

                  The most ADVANCING thing in the world is an advanced mindset.

                  Digital Master” is the series of guidebooks (27+ books) to perceive the multi-faceted impact digital is making to the businesses and society, help forward-thinking organizations navigate through the journey in a systematic way, and avoid “rogue digital.” It perceives the emergent trends of digital leadership, advises on how to run a digital organization to unleash its full potential and improve agility, maturity, and provide insight about Change Management. It also instructs the digital workforce on how to shape a game-changing digital mindset and build the right set of digital capabilities to compete for the future. Here is a set of “Advancement” quotes in “Digital Master.



                  1 The most advanced things in the world are not hard things, neither supercomputers nor fancy gadgets, but the soft stuff – the mindset that can think forward, positively and creatively.

                  2 Real societal advancement is made through the work of the visionary mindset, update knowledge, and progressive activities.

                  3 ADVANCEMENT can be accelerated when we follow the most advanced mindsets in the world and evolve into advanced activities and movement in a consistent way.

                  4 When things or people are mature, they are not aged, they are in the advanced stage – ripened and delightful.

                  5 We are on the advancing journey when we move from information scarcity to knowledge economy to creativity economy

                  6 The advanced learning journey gets to the inflection point when you do not just absorb knowledge, but criticize old knowledge, co-create new knowledge, and share a fresh perspective. The advanced journey reaches the turning point when you are in the right spot to see the two sides of the coin, and capture multidimensional views via the right angle to spur creativity.

                  7 Advancement is about forward-thinking, progress, improvement, fresh knowledge, modernization while the opposite of advancement is primitivity, outdated concept/tradition, static mindset, negative behavior, etc.

                  8 The advancement can become more reachable when we appreciate each other’s strength, complement each other’s capability; understand each other via empathetic mind connection and heart touches.

                  9 Only through continuous improvement, human advancement can be sustained and the world can move forward with accelerated speed.

                  Three Causes of Business Vulnerability

                  We live in an era, full of uncertainty, velocity, complexity, and ambiguity, the result is the higher risk of priority conflict, change inertia, resource limitation or business vulnerability. 

                  Digital organizations are organic, complex, informative and hyperconnected. Closer to reality is that change is continuously happening in such a dynamic environment of a company. The inevitable range, breadth, depth, and pace of uncontrollable factors acting on any organizations mean identifying business vulnerability and constant fine-tuning is essential to improve business adaptability, performance, and maturity.

                  Homogeneity: With “VUCA” digital normality, business leaders today need to keep navigating unknown and build up the team which includes the complementary mindset, diversified background, and skills in order to spark innovation, co-solve over-complex problems, and deal with unprecedented changes and high business velocity. From a decision management perspective, it is a strategic imperative to close cognitive gaps caused by “group thinking” with the thought pattern which is following the crowd but lack of insight to understand things from multiple perspectives. Because often the homogeneous team setting will make team numbers more vulnerable to peer pressure and make biased decisions. Then, ineffective decision-making, especially at the strategic level will make their business vulnerable to emerging events, the ever-expanded business eco-system or even mislead their business in the wrong direction. It is important to be objective and gain a different view in order to develop and have a better understanding of certain topics or problems that may occur and prepare for the different scenario to deal with them smoothly. From an innovation management perspective, homogeneous thinking limits the organization’s imagination and creativity. Forward-thinking digital businesses today should look for and promote cognitive diversity, mental agility and encourage thinking differently in order to connect wider dots for spurring creativity. They should develop a highly innovative team including different types of innovators (such as idea generators, innovation navigators, innovation implementor, etc.) A simple way initially to improve innovation in almost any organization is to simply broaden the audience, or expand the collective insight to overcome challenges and connecting unusual dots to catalyze creativity.

                  Inflexibility: When organizations grow, they often add more rule, processes, people, or technology; all those elements are not isolated, but interdependent. The larger the organization and inputs are, the larger the amount of ‘rules’ are necessary for its functions, to keep dependent variables and outputs delivery stable. If not handled well, organizations are overly rigid, inflexible and become so vulnerable to the dynamic business environment. Inflexibility is caused by bureaucratic management practices, complicated processes or procedures, legacy IT systems, outdated rules or practice, etc. To improve business flexibility, flatten the overly rigid hierarchy and battle bureaucracy which often stifles changes and creates bottlenecks for cross-functional communication and collaboration. Ideally, digital organizations should be a complex but flexible ecological system starting to appreciate business attributes such as readiness, ownership, integration, open communication, customized structuring, and multifaceted partnerships. To improve organizational adaptability and innovativeness, digital management today requires a different kind of control. For example, the control on desired outcomes, keep the end in mind, not overly control the process of “HOW.” They do not focus on hierarchy but on ideas-generation, information flow, flexibility, and openness.

                  Complacency: The world is constantly changing, and digital is all about flow. But complacency is at the heart of resistance to change and causes business vulnerability in the face of fierce competitions and frequent disruptions. More often, a complacency mindset lives long after the success that created has disappeared. A complacency mind gets used to reacting, not being proactive. It is the unknown and being afraid of new things and it will be the same for the word “complacency.” When business leaders or managers are comfortable with the status quo, they often miss the big picture and become complacent. Collectively, complacency damages the culture and makes the business stagnate. Numerous changes or business transformations run, complete, and then slowly crumble away as people slowly revert to old ways of doing things and get stuck with complacency. To avoid being disrupted, business leaders should be cautiously optimistic, have the right dose of risk appetite to explore the various environment and ecosystems to chase growth opportunities and unlock their performance, set up a prioritization process to remove inefficiency, change things which really matter for the long-term prosperity of the business.

                  We live in an era, full of uncertainty, velocity, complexity, and ambiguity, the result is the higher risk of priority conflict, change inertia, resource limitation or business vulnerability. Thus, organizations must have solid digital management to keep tuning business success factors for building differentiated business competency; people focus on learning opportunities offered by assignments and developing their professional competency. So, the company can strengthen the weakest link, handle business vulnerability and deal with either internal or external risk effectively in order to achieve the long term business advantage.

                  This Dividend Aristocrat’s Growth Is Right On Target

                  The retail industry is subject to rapid change, thanks to the growing market share for online retailers such as Amazon (AMZN). Some brick and mortar retailers are adapting to this change better than others. Retail stocks often trade at inexpensive valuations, as the market is selling off shares of retailers all the same. Target (TGT) […]

                  The post This Dividend Aristocrat’s Growth Is Right On Target appeared first on Modest Money.

                  Tibbits are colorful pre-programmed modules for building IoT devices

                  At first glance, Tibbits look like building blocks, but each one is a module or a connector that makes it easier to build connected devices and systems. Tibbits were created by Tibbo Technology, a Taipei-based startup that exhibited at Computex this week (it showed off a humanoid robot built from various Tibbits). The heart of […]

                  Muro is a retro-style cylinder music box you control with an app

                  The light twinkle of an old-fashioned cylinder music box evokes many things: nostalgia, childhood memories, sometimes even horror (they are a trope in scary movie soundtracks). Most music boxes play one tune, but with the Muro Box, which exhibited at Computex this week, you can use an app to pick different songs or even compose […]

                  The Weekly Insight of the “Future of CIO” 5/30/2019

                  Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking, brainstorming, innovating and sharing.


                  The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 2.8 million page views with 5700+ blog posting in 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. The “Digital Master” book series includes 27 books to share insight from the multidimensional digital lens and perceive the multi-faceted impact the digital era upon us is making to the businesses and society. The content richness is not for its own sake, but to convey the vision and share the wisdom. Here is the weekly insight of digital leadership, IT Management, and Talent Management.

                  Three Tough Questions Digital Leaders need to Ponder for Driving a Smooth Digital transformation The pervasive digital technology and exponential growth of information bring unprecedented opportunities and risks, many organizations are like to explore digital by following nonlinear patterns with accelerated speed. They have to strike the right balance between chaos and order, innovation and process, change and stability, etc. Business leaders need to ask tough questions, clarify the goals, and identify pitfalls on the way. At the high level of maturity, organizations have to stretch out in every business dimension for driving the full-fledged digital transformation.

                  The Corporate Board’s Outside-in Views? A digital paradigm is an emerging business ecosystem of principles, policies, and practices that set boundaries to frame the smooth business transformation with the focus. The board provides an “outside-in” view to the business management by overseeing the strategy and monitoring performance management. It should also offer guidance for creative problem-solving and steering the business in the right direction by practicing digital philosophy and principles.

                  Three Digital Continuums to Run a High Mature Digital Business In the digital era with rapid changes and continuous disruptions, any business can be at risk for survival at any minute due to continuous disruptions and “VUCA” digital new normal. “VUCA” is an acronym used to describe or reflect on volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity of general conditions and situation of the business. Going digital takes multifaceted management disciplines and structural approach to drilling down the critical business success factors that underpin every dimension of the business performance. Here are three digital continuums to run a high mature digital business.

                  Running IT as Digital Force Multiplier In the world where change is significantly speeding up, that business leaders couldn’t predict the future with a certain degree of accuracy. The pace of change has been felt the most in areas of Information Technology, marketing, and business operations. The expectation from business consumers outstrips the digital readiness of most companies. The business strategy can no longer stay static and strategy implementation is not a linear scenario, but an iterative continuum. IT organizations can no longer hide in the corner as a support center, The role of the CIO is to proactively drive the corporate strategy by running IT as a digital force multiplier and improve the organization maturity from functioning to delight.

                  The Monthly “100 Creativity Ingredients” Book Tuning: Creative Personas May 2019 All humans are born with raw creativity ability. Creativity has many dimensions, with multi-faceted truth and myth, manifold knowledge and multidimensional insight. Creativity is the wings of our mind and the tempo of our heartbeat. Creativity is a constructive disruption, not so bad addiction, and a sensational phenomenon. The purpose of “100 Creativity Ingredients – Everyone’s Playbook to Unlock Creativity “ is to classify, scrutinize, articulate, and share insight about one hundred special creativity ingredients, to paint the picture with them, to add colors on them, to embed the music into them, and to make the story via them, in order to unleash our collective creativity potential.

                  Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking and innovating the new ideas; it’s not just about WHAT to say, but about WHY to say, and HOW to say it. It reflects the color and shade of your thought patterns, and it indicates the peaks and curves of your thinking waves. Unlike pure entertainment, quality and professional content takes time for digesting, contemplation and engaging, and therefore, it takes the time to attract the “hungry minds” and the “deep souls.” It’s the journey to amplify diverse voices and deepen digital footprints, and it’s the way to harness your innovative spirit.

                  Three Perspectives on Being an Innovative Leader

                  Innovation leaders are versatile with open-mindedness and learning agility.

                  By etymology, “innovare” signifies “to germinate seeds,” knowing that, go ahead and innovate by inventing your future, and the one of your company’s. Business success today depends on innovation. Business innovation depends on innovation leadership. Highly innovative leaders need to have a clear vision, effective communication and make a commitment to roll the imagination into reality. The success of innovation depends on visionary leadership, systematic management, as well as a creative culture having a strong connection with business objectives, skills, and knowledge. Everything begins with leadership. Here are three perspectives on being an innovative leader.

                  An innovation leader is not only a dreamer and a strategist but also a practitioner to develop and renew creative energy in the business environment: Forward-looking organizations understand the strategic imperative for business reinvention and renewal. The board and the top management team are looking for shareholders’ value, which requires developing innovative products or services that have unique selling points to expand the market growth. Thus, innovative leaders are in strong demand to establish an innovation framework and environment for nurturing creative ideas and transforming them into the commercial value of the business. On one side, it’s critical to shaping an organization towards innovative working climate by encouraging fresh thinking and unleashing creative energy; on the other hand, the best innovative leaders are also well-disciplined, they should focus on the strategic business goals skillfully and navigate innovation management in the right decision. Innovation fails usually because that innovation invariably has not had top executives’ guidance and sponsorship; communication across business functions has been weak and there are very little empowerment and too limited delegation. The trick is to release the innovation potential of the business by addressing all those issues insightfully and dealing with them effectively. Walking that tight rope makes the innovation leader and managing innovation is both science and art.

                  An innovative leader today is a problem-solver, who has to create, manage, and explore innovation networks and business eco-system: Innovation is a process that is cross-functional and non-industry specific. It is, at its heart, a problem-solving process- a simple process of deduction to derive a solution drawing from knowledge, experience, and out-of-the-box creativity. Innovative leaders require the strength to review a recommendation to a problem or decisions. They see the old problems from every direction and find different solutions. The traditional type of business management usually cannot look outside the box, but innovation management needs to shape a bigger box to think, recognize innovative ideas, fight for resources and political cover, connect ideas and teams together to deliver highly innovative solutions and achieve innovation excellence. Logically, it’s important to break down silos and being intentional about developing business processes that encourage cross-functional communication and collaboration and enforcing business adaptability and innovation. Change, creativity, and problem-solving are all important perspectives on driving the business forward. It combines restless dissatisfaction with the current state coupled with the excitement of leading individuals or teams to find innovative solutions that will produce great results. Otherwise, you’ll have very little change to run a high-performance digital business successfully.

                  The other great sign of a good innovation leader is that he/she will recognize his/her limitations and build a team with complementary mindsets and skills: Innovative leaders are like a conductor leading the orchestra with a not yet completely written digital innovation symphony. Innovation leadership is anchored on the leader’s multifaceted resourcefulness and differentiated competency. True innovative leaders inspire creativity and encourage employees to do new things and show the right dose of risk appetite. So even innovation effort fails, they learn from it and grow to make better products or services in the future. Innovation thrives when talented people are put in the right position to stimulate excellent ideas or implement them relentlessly. Aptitude and skills will vary from front-end to back-end. Thus, it is critical to building a highly innovative team with all sorts of talent and skills, from sowing the seed of creativity, growing the innovation fruits, to reaping innovation benefits. It’s also crucial to develop a strong capacity for integration and digestion of information from various sources because nowadays information is usually one of the most time-intensive pieces of innovation puzzle. The emerging business collaboration tools and platforms are not only enforcing the structured business processes of the past but also enabling the unstructured processes of the digital enterprise to break down silos to enforce collaboration and amplify collective creativity.

                  Innovation leaders are versatile with open-mindedness and learning agility. The speed of change is expedited, so does the speed of innovation. Innovative leaders are also strategic leaders who can take the calculated risks to find new opportunities that would lead the right path to innovation. They have flexibility and adaptability to practice the wide range of leadership skills available to them and show self-awareness to know when and how to use and develop the professional skills of those that they lead. More often, they are the innovator themselves, walk the talk, to build a digital organization for achieving innovation excellence.

                  Stanley Security Leverages SEO Across the Org

                  Caroline Graham and Joe Parker are the Digital Marketing Specialist and Digital Marketing Manager, respectively, for Stanley Security, a division of Stanley Black & Decker. They are experts in SEO, but what that really means is that they are evangelists, spreading the word across their organization about the importance of the unique insights into customer …

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                  Mr. Coffee with WeMo: Double Roast

                  McAfee Advanced Threat Research recently released a blog detailing a vulnerability in the Mr. Coffee Coffee Maker with WeMo. Please refer to the earlier blog to catch up with the processes and techniques I used to investigate and ultimately compromise this smart coffee maker. While researching the device, there was always one attack vector that […]

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                  LEGO celebrates Apollo 11 with a lovely, bricky Lunar Lander

                  The 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 and the first lunar landing is approaching, and there will be no shortage of fanfare — so why shouldn’t LEGO get in on the fun? This Lunar Lander set looks like a great way to celebrate the missions of the space program’s past, while the space station and launch sets celebrate its present and future.

                  Reliance on Property Taxes in Europe

                  A recent report compares to what extent OECD countries rely on various tax revenue sources. Today’s map looks at property tax revenue, which, compared to other taxes, accounts for a relatively small share of total tax revenue in Europe. In 2017, property taxes accounted for only 4.6 percent of tax revenue on average in the 27 […]

                  Ekasbo’s Matebot may be the cutest cat robot yet created

                  If Shrek saw Matebot, no amount of sad-eyes could win him back to Puss in Boots’ side. Created by Shenzhen-based robotics company Ekasbo, Matebot looks like a black and white cartoon cat and responds to your touch by wiggling its ears, changing the expression in its big LED eyes and tilting its head. Built with […]

                  4 Leading Techniques to Design Personalized Apps

                  Given the level of competition in the iOS and Android app stores, creating a unique and personalized experience for each individual user is becoming a meaningful differentiator for app creators. Personalization when implemented well, can help businesses achieve better user engagement, increase retention, and allow app owners to build a more individual relationship with their […]

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                  The Monthly Keyword Summary: Holism May 2019

                  “Holistic thinking” refers to a big picture mentality, and understand that the whole is often greater than the sum of the parts.

                  From one generation to the next, the substance of leadership does not change, it’s about future, change, and influence. However, digital leadership trends will continue to emerge. Here is a set of featured blogs to dig into “Holism” as the keyword of the 21st century to brainstorming the future of digital leadership and business transformation.

                    


                    Holism


                  Digital Holism Digital disruptions are inevitable, and digital transformation is unstoppable. Organizations shouldn’t just respond to them in a reactive way. To stay competitive, companies must go beyond experimenting with digital, take a holistic approach, commit to transforming themselves into a fully digital business powerhouse.

                  Shaping a Holistic View -Seeing both Forest and Trees Holistic thinking involves understanding a system by sensing its large-scale patterns and addressing the big picture. In terms of a holistic’ viewpoint,’ one does often need to integrate different stereotyped or mechanistic viewpoints; it is the integration and searches for new viewpoints that are holistic. At times, when you only want to see things from your own point of view, see what you want to see, or, hear what you want to hear, often you miss the point to understand the real problem holistically as well as how to solve it creatively or systematically. Here are three aspects of shaping a holistic view of digital transformation.

                  How to Learn Systems Thinking in Understanding the Holism Ordinarily people do not inquire into the matters, they are too much a slave to the conventional way of thinking or follow the mainstream thinking, they just accept what is instilled into their minds, mainly even through the indirect experiences, one side of story or unverified information; for to accept is more convenient and practical, and life is to a certain extent, though not in reality, made thereby easier. Most of the people are in nature conservatives, not because they are lazy, but because they are educated to be compliant with conventional wisdom or group thinking, even superficially. But the time comes when traditional logic does no longer hold true, for you begin to feel contradictions and splits and consequently spiritual anguish, especially at today’s hyper-connected digital world, the disruptions come almost overnight, and the knowledge life cycle is significantly shortened. You lose trustful repose which you experienced when you blindly follow the traditional ways of thinking. So what are the Systems Principles you can follow to practice independent thinking, critical thinking or agile critical thinking which has creativity deeply embedded in it?

                  Holistic Problem-Solving? “Holistic thinking” refers to a big picture mentality, and understand that the whole is often greater than the sum of the parts. Holistic thinking is the type of thinking practice that appreciates how underlying complexity generates the features and phenomena of interest to practitioners so that they can work with them accordingly. From the problem-solving perspective, what are the characteristics of situations or problems in which we should adopt holistic thinking? When is the trade-off more beneficial in adopting holistic thinking versus mechanistic thinking or linear logical thinking for improving problem-solving effectiveness?

                  The Best “Holistic Thinking” Quotes of “Digital Master” Mar. 2019Digital Master is the series of guidebooks (27+ books) to perceive the multi-faceted impact digital is making to the businesses and society, help forward-thinking organizations navigate through the journey in a systematic way, and avoid “rogue digital.” It perceives the emergent trends of digital leadership, advises on how to run a digital organization to unleash its full potential and improve agility, maturity, and provide insight about Change Management. It also instructs the digital workforce on how to shape a game-changing digital mindset and build the right set of digital capabilities to compete for the future. Here is a set of “Holistic Thinking” quotes in “Digital Master.

                  The blog is a dynamic book flowing with your thought; growing through your dedication; sharing your knowledge; conveying your wisdom, and making influence through touching the hearts and connecting the minds across the globe. The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 3 million page views with about #5700 blog posting. Among 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking and innovating the new ideas; it’s not just about WHAT to say, but about WHY to say, and HOW to say it. It reflects the color and shade of your thought patterns, and it indicates the peaks and curves of your thinking waves. Unlike pure entertainment, quality and professional content takes time for digesting, contemplation and engaging, and therefore, it takes the time to attract the “hungry minds” and the “deep souls.” It’s the journey to amplify diverse voices and deepen digital footprints, and it’s the way to harness your innovative spirit.

                  The Corporate Board Director Digital Profile VII

                  Great boards consist of outstanding directors who are able to “rowing together in the boat,” toward the destination via a clear vision and strong governance practices. 

                  The purpose of the governing body, or board of directors, is to direct and control the organization to accomplish its judiciary duty -corporate governance and steer the business in the right direction. Due to the “VUCA” characteristics -complexity, uncertainty, ambiguity and velocity of the digital era, the directorship in any organization becomes more critical and challenging. Here is a set of corporate board director’s digital profiles.





                  Strategic communicator: Communication is the leadership style to amplify your positive influence. It is increasingly important for business leaders such as board directors to clearly communicate their values and purpose through strategic communication. Strategic communication includes the conversations about strategies with the goal-driven conversations – laser focusing on problem-solving and keeping the end in mind. It also refers to understand modern communication styles and the skills to craft messaging for a varying global audience. If communication has to develop fully, it is essential that the person communicating should be equally aware of what he/she wants to communicate, how he/she communicates and above all ensure that he/she has communicated correctly. BoDs need to educate themselves by hearing different views about the organization, its environment, and strategic alternatives, collecting reliable information to help the management set broad strategic goals. The strategic conversations must be followed (with some flexibility) at every board session to ensure that management follows and does not “forget” the strategy. The BoDs need to practice multidimensional thinking and gain a deeper understanding of the enterprise in order to be a credible actor in the strategic dialogue. The bellwether BoDs can master strategic communication and provide excellent feedback which gives the top management accurate information to improve; great questions to self-aware; and keen insight to help the organization innovate, grow and mature.

                  Digital accelerator: Organizations large or small are on the journey of digital transformation, speed matters because the digital era upon us means the increasing pace of changes and exponential growth of information. Speed matters because it directly impacts the responsiveness of the business and the effectiveness of business strategy management. The business speed can only be accelerated with a clear vision, strong leadership, laser focus, and distinctive capabilities. The digital savvy board directors understand what’s required and how as a high-level basis of going digital mean to the business. To accelerate changes, digital leaders should both understand the psychology behind the change and the art and science of change management. They have the advantage of pulling enough resources and pushing the business model of information technology and enforcing leadership trustworthiness to accelerate performance, make a significant impact on accelerating digital transformation with premium speed. Furthermore, the corporate board leaders must have an in-depth understanding of the digital dynamic and practice open leadership to drive the business forward confidently. Just like a steering wheel that can’t accelerate the speed of the vehicle directly, but by navigating the better pathway, it may shorten the distance or save the energy, to reach the destination promptly.

                  Governance champion: The purpose of the governing body, or board of directors, is generally known as “corporate governance.” There are four key dimensions of corporate governance which are accountability, strategy, policy, and monitoring. Governance is a sophisticated process which facilitates the successful functioning of an organization while ensuring there are adequate controls in place to operate responsibly in accordance with its values but not to the extent of restricting the aspiration to achieve its vision through an ambitious mission and actions. While “corporate governance” can be modeled in general terms, and while certain aspects of corporate governance are heavily regulated in some jurisdictions. Good governance must ensure organizations running in the right direction and create an excellent performance at the right speed, especially for long-term business growth, to ensure the best fit between short-term profitability and long-term sustainability. It is important to emphasize that governance is fundamentally about having a systematic approach to set strategies, objectives, and policies of the organization, either directly or through some levels of delegation to management, for mastering digital fluency and making a leap of digital transformation.

                  Organizations need to hunt for qualified and independent Board members who are aware of their responsibilities and duty to the shareholders and have a good understanding of the organization’s strategic direction and its business alternatives. Great boards consist of outstanding directors who not just provide a critique of the ideas they are presented with, but they are able to “rowing together in the boat,” toward the destination via a clear vision and strong governance practices. The challenge also includes converting vision to clear marketing and executable management processes and lead a smooth digital transformation effortlessly.

                  “Continual improvement” as the Mantra to Run Digital IT

                  Effective IT leaders are excellent at articulating the benefits of making business improvement and how IT can make these changes happen. 

                  Digital transformation is an arduous journey with the long jump and it takes time and commitment to reach a higher level of digital maturity. IT plays a crucial role in the digital paradigm shift because IT can drive and orchestrate transformative changes by integrating to and knowledgeable of the business as well as weaving all important business factors into differentiated organizational competency. Making continuous improvement is the way how IT should improve itself, the business, the interrelation between IT and business, in order to get digital ready.

                  Highly effective IT has never just been “keeping the lights on,” it’s about ensuring IT as a platform to enable business growth: The CIO is required to think about business first, technology second. Technology is one of the powerful tools to help move the business in the direction of meeting its strategic objectives. With technological advances happen at a rapid pace, IT in the high mature organizations progressively see themselves as an integral enabler of business advances and even a game changer, translate the promise of technology to a strategic and competitive advantage for the company’s long term prosperity. Therefore, business foresight and careful thought are required to truly understand the implications of emerging technology trends and identify the opportunities for defining a successful business rationale in order to make wise IT investment toward getting a higher ROI. In these high mature digital organizations, there are no walls between IT and business, they are tightly integrated. Running IT as the business in the business. IT application development shouldn’t be strictly a service that follows the order only; IT must partner with the business to listen to their feedback, understand their true need, and deliver the best solution to truly solve their issues. That is the progressive move from being a reactive order taker to a proactive solution provider.

                  There is never “enough” to optimize business operations, increase revenue, make profits and improve customer satisfaction: Every organization needs to drive continual improvement in order to meet their objectives and stay competitive. The breadth and depth of IT management improvement include technology update, process optimization, and competency development. Leverage holistic thinking to make sure that the business as a whole is superior to the sum of pieces. The optimization of technology shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all at the expense of the health of the overall organization. There is a never-ending IT management improvement cycle of advancing systems, streamlining processes, expanding IT products or services, and making continuous deliveries. IT needs to strike the right balance of improving operational excellence by reducing the waste, trimming the cost and trying to stay current with ever-changing technologies. Last but not least, continuous improvement goes hand-in-hand with one of the digital principles: “To learn constantly so we continually improve.” Develop a culture of continuous improvement, encourage IT staff to get out of the comfort zone, figure out alternative ways to do things, enforce communication and foster innovation.


                  IT measurement system and incentive should help to assess the tangible result of continuous improvement and serve the ultimate business goals: It includes a broad range of monitoring, performance measurement, performance reporting, or functional failover schemes, etc. Dysfunction and inefficiencies do not develop overnight, they creep in slowly. They are easier to uncover if there is a good measurement system is in place to improve the system. IT leaders must keep in mind which KPIs best measure IT ability to deliver business value. It’s dangerous to impose metrics just because the focus on what’s measurable is manageable. IT metrics have to evolve from being a cost center to becoming a revenue generator by showing a clear link to top executives between IT efficiency and productivity/top-line revenues. Performance Indicators for IT need to be defined in keeping the view of the corporate objectives and put into a mix of other performance measures. Select the right set of indicators of Improvement, Innovation, and Investment, and measure them effectively. Make sure IT and business are always on the same page by providing a broad range of monitoring, performance measurement and reporting in order to make continuous improvement.

                  IT is in the middle of a sea change, “Continual improvement” is the IT mantra in the digital era. Effective IT leaders are excellent at articulating the benefits of making business improvement and how IT can make these changes happen. IT continues to reach a higher level of maturity by continuous optimizing “people and process” and keep consolidating, integrating, engaging, and innovating.

                  How McAfee’s Mentorship Program Helped Me Shine in My Career Journey

                  By: Anshu, Software Engineer “The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting.”—Mestrius Plutarchus A mentor isn’t someone who answers your questions, but someone who helps you ask the right ones. After joining the McAfee WISE mentorship program as a mentee, I understood the essence of these words. WISE is […]

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                  Attention Graphic Designers: It’s Time to Secure Your Canva Credentials

                  Online graphic design tools are extremely useful when it comes to creating resumes, social media graphics, invitations, and other designs and documents. Unfortunately, these platforms aren’t immune to malicious online activity. Canva, a popular Australian web design service, was recently breached by a malicious hacker, resulting in 139 million user records compromised. So, how was […]

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                  InWin’s Alice is a mid-tower PC case you can match to your cosplay

                  There’s a huge amount of crossover between the gaming and cosplay communities, and InWin’s Alice computer chassis will appeal to many in the middle of that Venn diagram. The company is currently showing off Alice and its other PC cases at Computex in Taipei. Named after the Lewis Carroll character, the mid tower case comes […]

                  To What Extent Does Your State Rely on Individual Income Taxes?

                  State and localities rely heavily on the individual income tax, which comprised 23.5 percent of total U.S. state and local tax collections in fiscal year 2016, the latest year of data available. The individual income tax lands just below the general sales tax (23.6 percent), both behind property taxes (31.5%) as the largest category of […]

                  How A Bond-Investing Homeowner May Get To Profit Thrice

                  Bonds don’t get as much love as stocks because they are considered boring. It’s hard to get rich quick off a bond. But it is possible to see a quick windfall if you pick the right high-flying stock. Despite the lack of sexiness in bonds, if you’re serious about achieving financial independence or are already

                  The post How A Bond-Investing Homeowner May Get To Profit Thrice appeared first on Financial Samurai.

                  Delane Parnell’s plan to conquer amateur esports

                  Most of the buzz about esports focuses on high-profile professional teams and audiences watching live streams of those professionals. What gets ignored is the entire base of amateurs wanting to compete in esports below the professional tier. This is like talking about the NBA and the value of its sponsorships and broadcast rights as if […]

                  Measuring Opportunity Zone Success

                  Related Research Opportunity Zones: What We Know and What We Don’t Key Findings The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) established the Opportunity Zones program to increase investment in economically distressed communities. This place-based incentive program provides capital gains tax incentives for those who reinvest capital gains into qualified opportunity funds (QOF). To establish that […]

                  The Monthly Foresight: Reimagine and Reinvent the Future of Digital Organization May. 2019

                  Reimaging the future of business is exciting, but investigating the different path for unlocking business performance takes strategy, methodology, and practice.

                  The effects of an increasingly digitalized world are now reaching into every corner of businesses and every aspect of organizations. Digital is the age of creativity and innovation, creativity is the most wanted trait for digital leaders and professionals today, and innovation is the light every organization is pursuing. Which themes shall you set to advocate digital transformation? How to lead to the digital future effortlessly?




                  Reimagine and Reinvent the Future of Digital Organization


                  Reinvent Digital Organization and Step into the Future by Building Three Bridges: The emerging digital technologies make a profound impact on businesses across industrial sectors, from specific functions to the business as a whole. Reimaging the future of business is exciting, there is more than one road to lead the digital way, and there are many opportunities the organization can explore and a lot of barriers it has to overcome. Running a future-driven organization starts with the growth mindset, prepares people for the digital new normal, follows by a series of progressive activities to shape organizational competency and build the substantial bridges between the imaginable state of the organization and the business realities of today in order to move toward the future confidently and effortlessly.

                  Revitalize Digital Workforce to be Future-Ready With the faster pace of changes and continuous disruptions, companies across vertical sectors have huge pressures to survive and thrive in today’s hypercompetitive economic dynamic. They are at the transition stage from operating a mechanical organization to running a dynamic digital living business. Digital organizations are the mixed bag of something old and new; physical building and virtual platform, with a diverse workforce working in different functions running varying speed. A digital workplace encompasses so much that it’s hard to isolate it from other dimensions of the enterprise. What is the logical scenario to overcome challenges and revitalize digital workforce to be future-ready?

                  Running a “Programmable” Future of Digital Organization? Reimaging the future of business is exciting, but investigating the different path for unlocking business performance takes strategy, methodology, and practice. The multidimensional digital effects provide impressive advantages in term of the business speed, the abundance of information, and the quality of the digital workforce. The future of digital organization needs to be non-stop, instant-on, adaptable to change, open to new knowledge, informative and innovative. The future of the digital organization presents the programmable capability which enforces adaptability, exhibits the willingness and ability to learn and then applies those lessons to succeed in new situations and makes a leap of digital transformation.

                  Reimagine the Future of the business for Exploring the Digital Minefield Innovatively The very characteristics of the emerging digital era are velocity, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, with the faster pace of changes and exponential growth of information. The digital companies are hyperconnected and interdependent. They have amazing digital traits such as adaptability, differentiated competency, innovation, customer-centricity, empathy, and participation. The organization of the future is designed openly for anyone with ideas on how human organizations ought to be contrived in face of “VUCA” digital new normal and explore the digital minefield innovatively..

                  Three Aspects in Building a Digital Workplace Digital workplaces are about building an environment with the abundance of information and the culture of innovation, to put people at the center of business, and to both engage employees and delight customers. After clarifying the Big Why, there are still many questions haunting around about the Knowing -HOW, though: Is it possible to have an effective digital workplace where the culture is more command and control, where the chosen solutions simply mirror or reinforce the way of working within that hierarchy, but do so very well? Or is it a prerequisite of an effective Digital Workforce to have that more open culture and “traditional” organizations are facing a culture change task alongside the development of a more effective Digital Workforce? Could you be imposing the current values of collaboration and openness on an effective Digital Workforce, and discounting organizations who aren’t making progress in developing their own Digital Workforce? When setting the workplace policy to enforce digital management, are you thinking of guidelines for people? Do you have a basic business conduct policy that people sign when they join?

                  Running a Future-Driven Digital Organization Digital organizations are the living systems which keep growing and maturing. Organization of the Future is an organization designed openly for anyone with ideas on how human organizations ought to be contrived in the face of the “VUCA” digital new normal, hyperconnectivity and fierce competition. Reimaging the future of business is exciting, but investigating the different path for unlocking business performance and potential needs to take a systematic approach and develop it into a more solid form. Digital leaders must realize that you cannot wait until there is an immediate pressing task, continuous adaptability is necessary in an ever-changing world, in order to run a future-driven digital organization.

                  The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 3 million page views with about #5700th blog posting in 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. The “Digital Master” book series includes 27 books to share insight from the multidimensional digital lens and perceive the multi-faceted impact the digital era upon us is making to the businesses and society. The content richness is not for its own sake, but to convey the vision and share the wisdom. Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking and innovating the new ideas; it’s not just about WHAT to say, but about WHY to say, and HOW to say it. It reflects the color and shade of your thought patterns, and it indicates the peaks and curves of your thinking waves. Unlike pure entertainment, quality and professional content takes time for digesting, contemplation and engaging, and therefore, it takes time to attract the “hungry minds” and the “deep souls.” It’s the journey to amplify diverse voices and deepen digital footprints, and it’s the way to harness your innovative spirit.

                  The Best “Improvement” Quotes of “Digital Master” May 2019

                  Continuous improvement goes hand-in-hand with one of the digital principles, “to learn constantly so we continually improve.”

                  Digital Master” is the series of guidebooks (27+ books) to perceive the multi-faceted impact digital is making to the businesses and society, help forward-thinking organizations navigate through the journey in a systematic way, and avoid “rogue digital.” It perceives the emergent trends of digital leadership, advises on how to run a digital organization to unleash its full potential and improve agility, maturity, and provide insight about Change Management. It also instructs the digital workforce on how to shape a game-changing digital mindset and build the right set of digital capabilities to compete for the future. Here is a set of “Improvement” quotes ofDigital Master.


                  1 Though change is not always an improvement, improvement is change.

                  2 Continuous improvement goes hand-in-hand with one of the digital principles, “to learn constantly so we continually improve.”

                  3 The culture of continuous improvement means to continue to discover that “there is always a better way.”

                  4 Improvement cannot happen without change, and change should not happen without improvement.

                  5 Adapting learning and continuous improvement culture involve gathering data, analysis, defining areas to be improved and a measurement scale for the culture improvement

                  6 Change is never for its own sake, it’s about making the improvement, create synergy in the multitude of its impact across the organization.

                  7 The magnitude of improvement and the impact it has on the organization, short term, long term, effectiveness, and profitability all depend on the vision and the competence of management leadership.

                  8 Continuous improvement is performed in collateral activities, meaning that people can step out of their daily job to perform specific improvement activities, and improvement is the reward for being willing to change.

                  9 Change with improvement in mind is a proactive approach that allows for planning and support considerations to be made and, therefore, is much more likely to turn into a smooth and successful collaborative business transformation.

                  Design a Digital Organization from Multiple System Perspectives

                  The high mature digital organizations are highly conscious about what’s happening in their environment, with the ability to adapt to change timely and unlock their performance continually.

                  Running a digital organization is to connect the old and new, mix the solid and fluid to enforce digital confluence, foster innovation, and achieve people-centricity. Organizations generally consist of varying intersecting and interacting systems. But the strictly mechanic business architecture framework perhaps do not know how to address the business and people system dynamic. How to leverage flexibility as a guiding principle to design a highly responsive, self-adaptive and high-performance digital organization from multiple systems perspectives?

                  Sociological design perspective: Sociology is the study of human interaction, usually within the context of organized groups, business communities, or human societies. The digital paradigm that is emerging is the sociological organization which is the “living thing.” The organization has its purpose and the people working there maintain purposes of their own. A high mature digital organization starts with a transcendent purpose that leads to design-led strategic business initiatives most fit to achieve the strategic goals of businesses. Thus, an enterprise is never going to be architected and designed like the mechanic system. People-centricity is a transcendent digital trait and the core of corporate strategy in today’s digital organizations. You have to look at the problem domain holistically and apply the “simplicity and flexibility” principles to architect and design a sociological organization and proactively plan the total enterprise ecosystem to either make a profit for shareholders or generate prosperity of constituencies. Designing a “digital fit” company as a sociological system enables the organization to morph as living conditions and capacity change, allow a better fit for the business purpose; enable employees doing their work more productively and improve customer experiences seamlessly, with the goal to reap the business benefit for the long term.

                  Techno-system design perspective:
                  Information Technology is the backbone of modern business nowadays. Thus, the techno-system perspective is a critical lens to architect and design a digital organization that is a socio-technical system with people at the center and IT as the linchpin. In fact, designing a multidimensional socio-technical business system is more difficult than designing a single-dimensional “data-driven mechanistic system”; or a “data-driven mechanistic system.” Applying digital technologies and embracing digital conversion is inevitable as that is now part of the deal. There are very progressive organizations in which Information Technology sparks organizational creativity, and flexibility is an essential characteristic of the business systems. Modern digital technologies bring unprecedented convenience for people to learn and work, improve their productivity, learning agility, and innovativeness. The techno-system organizational design helps to identify and blend the ways that information and technology can assist and shape the business by linking all digital aspects together to enforce the business value creation, and appreciate many excellent business attributes such as digital readiness, ownership, information fluidity, customized structure, IT-business integration, open communication, etc, to improve organizational maturity.

                  Cultural design perspective: In the digital era with rapid change, innovation, and people-centricity, businesses today need nothing less than a paradigm shift in their thinking about the fundamentals of how organizations work to build a digital fitting culture and an engaging workforce. If you are truly interested in culture change then you need to understand how cultures evolve to dramatically accelerate the digital transformation and to increase the likelihood of sustainable change. Thus, highly proactive and social-techno-cultural business systems need to be architected and designed. It’s challenging because the radical culture and social structure changes are required to fit the business circumstances. Culture is a collective mindset, attitude, and behavior. Culture or subculture can be designed and shaped. Cultural design starts with objective observation and assessment: Do you have an “authentic” organization that encourages its people to express, grow, and become “who they are,” or do you have a “silo” organization which has many gaps and frictions and people get stuck with “we always do things like that” mentality. Then, design and shape a flexible or an innovative culture by making an alignment of both visible business factors such as people process, structure, technology and invisible success factors such as leadership, communication, etc. A company’s culture, which is heavily ingrained, implicit and not directly perceptible, is also very hard to change and changes slowly if at all. Great leaders with cultural design lens ought to be concerned not only with the here and now but prayerfully with their legacy to future generations — a better future and brighter workforce.

                  As our digitized world becomes hyper-connected, over-complex and interdependent, digital leaders should develop a design framework with multiple system perspectives, leverage flexibility as design principles to clearly define the future of digital business, fine-tune the varying business factors to make a seamless digital paradigm shift. The high mature digital organizations are highly conscious about what’s happening in their environment, with the ability to adapt to change timely and unlock their performance and potential continually.

                  Go chat yourself with Facebook’s new Portal companion app

                  Facebook has launched the start of its push into smart home software. Ignoring calls that it’s creepy, Facebook is forging onward with its Portal gadget Today Facebook quietly released iOS and Android Portal apps that let owners show off photos on the screen without sharing them to the social network, and video call their home […]

                  Business in America

                  Who are the workers, consumers, and shareholders who interact with businesses in the U.S.? What forms do these businesses take? How do business taxes impact people’s lives? It is essential we answer these questions in order to design a business tax system that is simple, efficient, and enables economic progress.

                  Oracle Analytics Roadmap Points the Way Forward

                  The key to outpacing your competition in a dynamic marketplace is to equip your decision-makers with the best quality insights at the optimal point of impact.

                  You look to us for guidance on the best analytics solutions and technologies—as well as the best strategies to implement those solutions for maximum benefit. Part of that is to be transparent with you on our product roadmap to help you achieve the outcomes you require today and gain insight into where you can go in the future. The Oracle Analytics product roadmap is now published, and ready for your review.

                  At Oracle, we strive to provide an analytics solution that powers actions driven by deep insights from all available data. To achieve this goal, Oracle Analytics is focused on serving all of our customers’ analytics needs, from simple to advanced. Our product roadmap is organized into three key investment areas:

                  Augmented Analytics

                  Oracle powers deeper insights by embedding machine learning and AI into every aspect of the analytics process. We apply capabilities like natural-language processing (NLP) and natural-language generation (NLG) for better conversation analytics, and we employ smart data preparation and discovery to incorporate customer-specific reference data. Investing more in augmented analytics now is essential to exceeding your expectations in the future.

                  Self-Service Analytics

                  We provide a complete, end-to-end self-service environment that goes far beyond data visualization. Tools like interactive visualization capabilities and a unified dashboard experience put rich data and modeling capabilities into the hands of almost any user. Exploiting all your data—both governed and personal—gives you the analytical freedom you want within a framework of sanctioned corporate data you need.

                  Governed Analytics

                  Oracle lets you scale analytics with a secure, extensible architecture that can be personalized. Prebuilt analytics data models help you accelerate application deployment time, and enterprise-class architecture and security models enhance the solution’s functionality and connectivity. These requirements don’t go away but are an increasingly important part of any enterprise analytics system.

                  Our competitors’ offerings force customers to compromise between governed, centralized, and self-service analytics. Oracle provides a single solution that blends these requirements and incorporates machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI)—augmented analytics—into every step of the process. Check out the new Oracle Analytics product roadmap today and explore the endless possibilities of world-class business analytics—both now and into the future.

                  I’d love to hear any feedback you have. Please comment below or contact me at john.hagerty@oracle.com.

                  Stay ahead of your competition with Oracle Analytics Cloud. We give executives and analysts the ability to understand critical metrics, what is driving trends, and the potential impact of changing processes. Sign up for a trial and begin your journey into Oracle Analytics Cloud today.

                  The Monthly “Digital Boardroom” Book Tuning: The Board’s Best and Next Practices May 2019

                   Boards need to develop their own set of digital best and next practice to improve both the organizational performance and their own performance.

                  Modern corporate boards play significant roles in guiding businesses in the right direction and achieve expected business results. Due to the “VUCA” characteristics -Complexity, Uncertainty, Ambiguity, and Velocity of the Digital Era, the directorship in any organization must have the agility to adapt to changes and build abilities to advise, inspire and motivate a group of people toward accomplishing shared visions and goals. Here is a set of the best and next practices for shaping a strategic boardroom.


                                The Board’s Best and Next Practices


                  Five Boardroom Digital Practices The corporate board directors are the top leadership role, leadership is the adventure to explore unknown, have confidence and insight to steer the organization in the right direction and take the best path for reaching the destination. It’s important to develop the best and next boardroom digital practices, encourage the board directors making their influence over volatility, managing uncertainty, simplifying complexity, and master the art and science of the board leadership.

                  The Boardroom’s Feedback Feedforward Practices
                  Digital has the “VUCA” characteristics – velocity, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. It implies both business opportunities and risks on the way and change is a new normal. Corporate Board as a high-level governance body plays a crucial role in business advising and monitoring, as well as setting key tones in leadership exemplification and talent development. To overcome the challenges, boards need to develop their own set of digital best and next practice to improve both the organizational performance and their own performance.

                  The Policies, Performances, and Pitfalls in Digital Boardroom The corporate board as the advising role is responsible to steer the organization in the right direction and provide an “outside-in” view of the business via multidimensional lenses. Digital doesn’t mean just tear down all the old things in the previous era. In reality, digital means to strike the right balance between the new way and the “old way,” and strike the delicate balance. Digital organizations are complex systems that are dynamic, self-evolving, self-adaptable, and self-perpetuating. Thus, the directorship in any organization must be able to adapt to changes and build abilities to advise, inspire and motivate. The Board of Directors is the top leadership team that can make a great influence on shaping digital mindsets, setting right policies, advocating changes, and steering the business to digital new normal.

                  How to Bridge Insight Gaps in the Boardroom Leadership is about envisioning and leading the business towards its future. Top leadership roles such as board directors are supposed to be the guiding force in the enterprise. In practice, the digital era is volatile, complex, uncertain and ambiguous. Many say that the multitude of gaps (thinking, knowledge, innovation, strategy execution, etc.) are enlarged because different industries, organizations, functions, and individuals evolve with varying speed. To lift up the board leadership maturity, minding the insight gap is challenging, but a critical step for improving leadership effectiveness. Leadership is an influence, influence comes from progressive mindsets, profound insight, and step-wise actions. Insight is an understanding of cause and effect based on the identification of relationships and behaviors within a model, context, or scenario.

                  Reinforce Digital Competency in the Boardroom
                  The new paradigm arises out of new knowledge, the emergent trends can shape the behavior of future enterprises and some have been happening already. BoDs as top leadership roles need to envision, proactively influence changes, reinforce digitalization and lead the organization towards its future confidently.

                  The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 3 million page views with 5700+ blog posting in 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. The content richness is not for its own sake, but to convey the vision and share the wisdom. Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking; it’s not just about WHAT to say, but about WHY to say, and HOW to say it. It reflects the color and shade of your thought patterns, and it indicates the peaks and curves of your thinking waves. Unlike pure entertainment, quality and professional content takes time for digesting, contemplation and engaging, and therefore, it takes time to attract the “hungry minds” and the “deep souls.” It’s the journey to amplify your voice, deepen your digital footprints, and match your way for human progression.

                  Reinvent Digital Organization and Step into the Future by Building Three Bridges

                  The organization of the future will be organically and adaptively developed, highly adaptive, flexible, fast and innovative.

                  The emerging digital technologies make a profound impact on businesses across industrial sectors, from specific functions to the business as a whole. Reimaging the future of business is exciting, there is more than one road to lead the digital way, and there are many opportunities the organization can explore and a lot of barriers it has to overcome. Running a future-driven organization starts with the growth mindset, prepares people for the digital new normal, follows by a series of progressive activities to shape organizational competency and build the substantial bridges between the imaginable state of the organization and the business realities of today in order to move toward the future confidently and effortlessly.

                  The bridge from data to insight:
                  The digital era means the exponential growth of data. Data is raw content, ‘a collection of zeroes and ones,’ without context. Data starts to become information when people add some business context. Information becomes meaningful when businesses sort through, process, refine information into the knowledge which can be used by digital leaders and professionals to capture the business insight and gain an in-depth understanding of operations, customers or emerging business trends or risks. To build the bridge from data to insight, perhaps you should first work to identify the pattern – show information is associated with the valued tangibles of your business, your products or services, resources, customers or marketing, then it’s easier to figure out the true value of information, readily apparent and quantifiable by association. In fact, Information Management is a critical bridge and a threshold competency to enforce the strategic focus of the business, diagnose the root causes of a problem or the core issues of a circumstance to truly understand the resolution and operate a smart digital business.

                  The bridge from industrial productivity to digital delight: With change nature of the business, the emerging digital technologies and more intense customer demanding, companies today have to keep consolidating, rationalizing, modernizing, integrating, and optimizing for building a strong organizational maturity bridge from functioning to firm to delight. A digital organization can bring greater awareness of interconnectivity, intricacies and the systemic value of organizational systems, business process, people dynamics, resource alignment, or technological touches. It evolves multidimensional management disciplines to achieve digital delight. From the products/service delivery perspective, product development is a full cycle of research, define, design prototype, iterate, and test, for delivering high-quality and intuitive products or services to delight customers. From the process management perspective, the organizational design issue is about how to build the best mixture of organizational elements that harness adaptability through less hierarchy, frictionless processes, and flexible structures. From a talent management perspective, creating positive change and building a delightful working environment is a joint effort and co-responsibility of management and employees. It requires not just things work but be delightful and innovative to improve their productivity and engagement.


                  The bridge from learning to creating and innovating: In digital organizations with abundant information and knowledge, learning and doing are not linear steps but an iterative continuum. In doing so, you can create a shared business context for learning, working, re-learning, co-creating, and cross-pollinating for generating new ideas or alternative business solutions. That means absorbing knowledge is only the first step. The rising digital technologies such as social platform provide a flexible way to learn, share and collaborate, the digital tools and apps make learning informal, but more cost-effective and interactive. Collectively, high organizational learning relates to high response in recognizing and addressing system constraints, unleashing business potential, improving organizational changeability and innovation capacity. In the organization with a culture of learning, people focus on the learning opportunities offered by assignment rather than on the status quo that goes with them. They learn, share, and co-create. Digital learning is dynamic, interactive, informal, and should be integrated into the innovation cycle. The culture of collective learning becomes a critical bridge to foster knowledge or technology transfer innovation.

                  As an often forgotten fact is that organizations consist of three types of intersecting and interacting systems: Social, Technical, and Cultural. Perhaps businesses today need to build more than three bridges to move into the future smoothly. The organization of the future is designed openly for anyone with ideas on how human organizations ought to be contrived in the face of “VUCA” digital new normal and explore the “art of possibilities” to grow and innovate. The organization of the future will be organically and adaptively developed, put values and people before rules and roles so that the new breed of digital organizations is adaptive, flexible, fast and innovative.

                  We’ll soon know the exact air pollution from every power plant in the world. That’s huge.

                  Keeping an eye on the polluters.

                  Satellite data plus artificial intelligence equals no place to hide.

                  Earlier this month brought a mind-blowing announcement in the world of power plants and pollution.

                  In a nutshell: A nonprofit artificial intelligence firm called WattTime is going to use satellite imagery to precisely track the air pollution (including carbon emissions) coming out of every single power plant in the world, in real time. And it’s going to make the data public.

                  This is a very big deal. Poor monitoring and gaming of emissions data have made it difficult to enforce pollution restrictions on power plants. This system promises to effectively eliminate poor monitoring and gaming of emissions data.

                  And it won’t just be regulators and politicians who see this data; it will be the public too. When it comes to environmental enforcement, the public can be more terrifying and punitive than any regulator. If any citizen group in the world can go online and pull up a list of the dirtiest power plants in their area, it eliminates one of the great informational barriers to citizen action.

                  And citizens have reason to organize. According to the latest State of Global Air report, air pollution is the fifth greatest global mortality risk. It causes 5 million early deaths and 147 million years of healthy life lost, every year, and the countries building the most power plants are experiencing the most air pollution. Their citizens have the most on the line. And now they’ll be armed with information.

                  Things are about to get interesting. Let’s look at the details.

                  The Navajo Generating StationGoogle
                  The Navajo Generating Station, a giant coal power plant in Arizona … from space.

                  Eyes in the sky will track all power plant pollution

                  The plan is to use data from satellites that make theirs publicly available (like the European Union’s Copernicus network and the US Landsat network), as well as data from a few private companies that charge for their data (like Digital Globe). The data will come from a variety of sensors operating at different wavelengths, including thermal infrared that can detect heat.

                  The images will be processed by various algorithms to detect signs of emissions. It has already been demonstrated that a great deal of pollution can be tracked simply through identifying visible smoke. WattTime says it can also use infrared imaging to identify heat from smokestack plumes or cooling-water discharge. Sensors that can directly track NO2 emissions are in development, according to WattTime executive director Gavin McCormick.

                  Between visible smoke, heat, and NO2, WattTime will be able to derive exact, real-time emissions information, including information on carbon emissions, for every power plant in the world. (McCormick says the data may also be used to derive information about water pollutants like nitrates or mercury.)

                  Who’s behind it

                  Google.org, Google’s philanthropic wing, is getting the project off the ground (pardon the pun) with a $1.7 million grant; it was selected through the Google AI Impact Challenge.

                  WattTime, a nonprofit that is now a subsidiary of the Rocky Mountain Institute, made a splash earlier this year with Automated Emissions Reduction. AER is a program that uses real-time grid data and machine learning to determine exactly when the grid is producing the cleanest electricity. It can then automatically adjust power consumption to match up with those times, ensuring that users take advantage of the lowest-carbon power available. (Many kinds of power consumption can be safely shifted in time, like water heaters, battery charging, and some industrial processes; they are “dispatchable.”) AER is, as the name indicates, entirely automated; it works behind the scenes, without any user intervention.

                  WattTime is partnering with Carbon Tracker, a think tank that’s done previous work with satellite imagery, using it for financial analysis of power plants (including a pioneering study showing that 42 percent of global coal power plants are operating at a loss), and the World Resources Institute, which operates the world’s most comprehensive Global Database of Power Plants.

                  WattTime is a mission-based nonprofit with a track record, legitimate partners, and serious financial backing. Despite its diminutive size, it has a chance of becoming the global clearinghouse for transparent, reliable pollution data.

                  What it will immediately enable

                  This information is going to empower all kinds of tools and avenues for pollution reduction. Here are a few McCormick mentioned to me:

                  • Every pollution law or international agreement relies on monitoring and verification. Many countries, or areas within countries, are suspected of underreporting emissions. It creates a background level of mutual mistrust. Now there will be a trusted, third-party source of verified information on every power plant; no more gaming the system by fiddling with local monitoring equipment or misreporting emissions. Transparent third-party verification will raise everyone’s confidence in the ability of regulators and negotiators to produce results.
                  • Remember Automated Emission Reductions? Real-time pollution data will enable AER to work anywhere in the world, without undue reliance on state or industry sources of data. I’ve written before about how battery storage doesn’t always reduce carbon emissions on the grid, because it’s rarely timed to sync up with clean energy. California is trying to fix that problem. AER will make it easier, for California and everyone else, to match clean energy production and consumption.
                  • Real-time, public pollution data will help renewable energy developers site their projects in areas where they can maximize emission reductions.
                  • Carbon Tracker has already shown that satellite data can be used for more precise financial analysis of power plants (again: 42 percent of the coal plants in the world are operating at a loss). WattTime’s program will make that analysis more robust and help better identify those areas where renewable energy is already cheaper than fossil power.
                  • Finally, the data will help fill in the gaps even in US pollution monitoring, which are many.

                  All that stuff will crank up the minute the information becomes public. WattTime is currently gathering data and working with partners who will put the information to use.

                  satelliteShutterstock
                  The global panopticon, but for pollution reduction.

                  But the really interesting stuff will happen after this data is unleashed on the world and becomes accessible everywhere.

                  What it could enable in the long term

                  To help illuminate the larger impact this information might have, indulge me in a brief anecdote.

                  In 1986, the US created the Toxic Release Inventory, a database tracking the toxic emissions of all US industrial facilities.

                  It was strengthened in 1990, as part of the Pollution Prevention Act. At the time, this outcome was seen as something of a failure — the originally proposed bill contained stiff penalties for toxic emissions, but they were stripped out in negotiations. In the end, all that was left was the information, the TRI itself.

                  But the TRI has gone on to prove one of the most effective environmental regulations in US history. Simply making the information available to the public empowered citizens, nonprofits, and state governments to organize pressure on the worst emitters. In the five years after it was implemented, toxic emissions fell by almost half.

                  The TRI enabled what scholars Archon Fung and Dara O’Rourke (of Harvard and MIT, respectively) have called ‘‘populist maximin regulation,” which differs from conventional command-and-control regulation in four ways. First, the role of government agencies “is not to set and enforce standards, but to establish an information-rich context for private citizens, interest groups, and firms to solve environmental problems.”

                  Second, standards are not set according to expert risk analysis, but according to what the public is willing to accept. Third, emitters “adopt pollution prevention and abatement measures in response to a dynamic range of public pressures rather than to formalized agency standards or governmental sanction.” Finally, the information allows public attention to focus on the worst emitters — maximum attention on minimum performers, thus “maximin.”

                  A shorter way of putting this: Once the public knows what polluters are up to, it stops letting them get away with it.

                  Just as the TRI enabled populist maximin regulation in the US — a wave of bottom-up activism that the authors of the TRI never anticipated — so could WattTime’s data be used to organize citizen pressure on the biggest carbon emitters, on a global scale.

                  If nothing else, the biggest polluters, and the biggest cheaters, will be exposed. No company, no country, will be able to hide or fudge its numbers. The public will know how to find them.

                  People leave nearly $1 million in loose change in TSA bins every year

                  Bring your change with you!

                  Air travel can be stressful when passengers are rushing to get to their boarding gates on time, especially on busy days like Memorial Day. Maybe that’s why people keep leaving behind their change at security — almost $1 million a year, all of which goes to the Transportation Security Administration.

                  The existence of this loose change recently entered the limelight when an internal Department of Homeland Security proposal asked the TSA for $3 million worth of loose changed gathered at airports for border operations if Congress does not approve its $1.1 billion funding request, according to a report from NBC News. While that might not seem like a lot in comparison to the $232 million DHS wants TSA to hand over in total, $3 million is a lot to gather from leftover coins in plastic bins at airport checkpoints.

                  Where is all that money coming from? Loose change left in security bins has long been an unusual revenue source for the TSA, and the amount of money left behind continues to grow.

                  Every year, the agency has to release a report on all the unclaimed money it collects to Congress: In 2012, TSA collected $531,000 and in 2016 it jumped up to $867, 812, according to NBC News. By 2018, it reached $960,105.

                  It’s easy to leave possessions behind when people are asked to empty their pockets, said TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein. There are plenty of distractions at security checkpoints: Loose change can be missed because of advertisements at the bottom of bins or forgotten while passengers struggle to collect their items from three different trays, she said.

                  It’s not just quarters and dimes, either, Farbstein said: The money that the agency collects also includes large bills left behind in unclaimed wallets.

                  The most money, naturally enough, comes from busy airports in big cities: According to the agency’s report on the 2017 fiscal year, John F. Kennedy International Airport collected the most money at $72,392. Los Angeles International Airport was a close second at $71,748. Miami International Airport and O’Hare International trailed behind at $50,504 and $49,597.

                  Travelers in Reno, Nevada, meanwhile, left behind a mere $19.85.

                  Once the loose change is found, smaller airports send the money they collect to larger hub airports, which then rolls the change and deposits it to TSA, Farbstein said. The TSA keeps track of all the money that is being stored and transported, she said.

                  “If a TSA employee even takes a quarter or a dime, they would be fired,” she said. “There’s no excuse for that. It’s a matter of integrity.”

                  Since 2005, Congress has allowed the TSA to spend the money however it wants to improve security operations. In the past, some of it has been used to translate security signs into foreign languages and to expand the TSA Precheck system, which expedites security for prescreened passengers (although even those passengers have to empty change from their pockets).

                  But the money has piled up — leading to an attempt by Congress to control how the TSA spends it. The TSA Loose Change Act was introduced in 2013 to donate the money to nonprofit organization that would “provide places of rest and recuperation for Armed Forces members and their families” in airports. Though the bill received bipartisan support and passed in the House of Representatives, it died in the Senate. It was reintroduced in 2017, but no progress has been made.

                  It’s not yet clear if the money will end up being used for border security. But for travelers hoping to avoid contributing to the growing pile of loose change, Farbstein has some advice: When taking things out of your pocket, immediately drop them into your carry-on.

                  Game of Thrones and the danger of planned finales

                  Drogon burns down the idea of planning out your series finale.

                  The series has known where it was heading for many seasons now. So why did it fall apart?

                  Game of Thrones’ series finale, “The Iron Throne,” is the show’s lowest-ranked episode ever on IMDB, with the site’s users grading it a 4.3 out of 10. And what’s the second lowest-ranked episode of the series on IMDB? That would be the final season’s fourth episode, “The Last of the Starks,” coming in at a 5.6.

                  And if you look a little further, you’ll realize that IMDB users’ lowest-ranked six episodes of the entire series are the six episodes of the final season. The second episode, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” ranks the highest of the six, with an 8.0, but it’s still behind season five’s “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” IMDB’s lowest-ranked episode of Game of Thrones that’s not in the final season, with a score of 8.1.

                  On one level, these rankings are a little nuts — I think all six episodes of Game of Thrones’ eighth and final season, whatever my issues with them, are better than “Unbowed,” which is a bad episode of television!

                  But on another level, they’re pretty well aligned with Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus on the final season, which sits at 58 percent, by far the worst ever. (Season one is in second place, with a 91 percent.)

                  The season certainly has its defenders, who feel the series wrapped up just about perfectly. And there are plenty of people like me, who feel the season was conceptually interesting, while whiffing several key moments of execution.

                  But I still think it’s fair to say that the general consensus on Game of Thrones’ final season could be described, charitably, as “disappointing.” And the further we get from the finale, the more I can feel myself detaching from the show in a way that suggests I might not think about it much in the years to come. For a show this big to mostly evaporate is somehow more disappointing than if it had ended in a way that actively infuriated me.

                  So what was it about Game of Thrones final season that left so many people disappointed? Sure, some of the disappointment was an inevitable function of hype. But I would argue it was just as much a function of the show having a planned finale.

                  TV is a medium where you have to plan everything and plan nothing simultaneously — no small feat

                  The AmericansFX
                  The final season of The Americans was met with critical acclaim.

                  One of my favorite stories about the construction of a great TV series has always been about the five-season classic Breaking Bad. Throughout that show’s second season, creator Vince Gilligan and his writers seeded hints in several episodes about a catastrophe that would occur in the season finale. And Gilligan felt because these hints were being seeded, the writers needed to know what that catastrophe was.

                  It worked, more or less. I really do love Breaking Bad season two. But Gilligan found the whole process so arduous that, in the show’s following seasons, he mostly plotted things on the fly, even as several later episodes featured flash-forwards to some future timeline when Walter White’s crimes had been found out. Gilligan trusted both his writers’ room and his overall conceit for the show — a meek family man becomes a ruthless drug kingpin — to hold everything together while all involved worked toward finding the best story. (You can read a much fuller version of this basic tale in Alan Sepinwall’s The Revolution Was Televised.)

                  This is the paradox of TV. You’d think that having a satisfying ending would require having a rock solid plan to get to that ending. But the opposite is often true, because the more you know about how a story is going to play out in the macro, the more the micro just becomes a series of items checked off a list. The storytelling can start to drag, because you’re so focused on set, arbitrary signposts you’ve already set for yourself down the road. If you can’t get to that major revelation until the end of season two, well, season one might start to feel a little slow.

                  Yet you also have to plan some things, because audiences still want to feel like the destination they’ve reached is inevitable. Thus, the best endings are often ones where the writers have a very vague idea of what will probably happen and work toward that point, while also leaving themselves room to radically change everything until the last possible second.

                  One show that excelled at this approach was FX’s spy drama The Americans. I talked to the creative team behind The Americans several times during the construction of that show’s generally acclaimed final season, and even though they’d had an idea of the show’s finale in mind since season two, they still wanted to leave things open just in case a better idea came along that blew their original one out of the water. (What made it to screen mostly conformed to their original pitch, with a few minor tweaks here and there.)

                  And the more I’ve thought about why the planning that led to The Americans’ final season left me feeling so satisfied, where the planning that led to Game of Thrones’ final season left me feeling so dissatisfied, the more I’ve realized that planning plot points and character arcs is all well and good, but it falls apart if you adhere to them so rigidly that you can’t account for how the characters’ relationships might change.

                  Though The Americans’ writers had a very rough idea of where their show’s characters and plot might end up, they left themselves a good amount of leeway in terms of where their characters’ relationships might end up. This came in handy with the main characters’ kids in particular, because the writers were able to try out endless variations on which kid ended up where, in hopes of finding just the right version that would have the maximum impact for all of the show’s relationships.

                  And I think if I had to pinpoint why Game of Thrones’ final season so often felt slapdash, it’s probably because it didn’t pay enough attention to its characters’ relationships, as opposed to the fates of individual characters and plot points.

                  The big turn toward genocide that Daenerys takes in Game of Thrones’ penultimate episode isn’t entirely unmotivated, but it feels like it comes out of nowhere because her relationships with the other characters have barely been affected by her growing paranoia and desire for conquest. As such, it feels like she exists in a vacuum, where her actions are easier to read as simply an extension of the would-be queen she’s always been, rather than a ruler whose actions impact the people she rules, even those in her inner circle.

                  Game of Thrones as the reverse Lost

                  LostABC
                  The Lost finale angered many of the show’s fans.

                  Ever since Lost ended in 2010, it’s been held up as an example of a show that had immense goodwill headed into its series finale, but nevertheless botched that goodwill with a bad final episode. (I love the Lost finale, but I’m well aware this is something of a niche opinion.) Nobody might claim it’s the worst finale of all time — Dexter is right there — but there’s definitely a sense that the final episode hurt the series’ reputation on some small level.

                  And on the night that Game of Thrones’ finale aired, I surmised that Game of Thrones might be the reverse Lost — a show where everything was so planned out (thanks to George R.R. Martin’s outline for the final books, which he revealed to David Benioff and D.B. Weiss shortly before season four) that it felt like an adaptation of bullet points more than something organic.

                  I wrote:

                  I don’t really think their lack of planning is to blame, because I tend to believe that planning too far ahead in TV results in bland, boring storytelling that feels deeply schematic. (See also: the How I Met Your Mother series finale, which was planned out in season two but failed to account for how much the characters would change between that season and season nine, when it finally ended.) But for quite a while there, Game of Thrones, with its carefully etched narratives, felt like it was proving me wrong.

                  Well, guess what? Game of Thrones pulled a reverse Lost! Everything was accounted for, and the writers certainly had a plan. But to put that plan in motion, they had to twist and contort the characters so heavily that the whole show became a warped, funhouse mirror version of itself.

                  Most of the time, that was fine. The spectacle was enough, and the actors were fun. But now it feels ever more like so much of what Game of Thrones made us care about for all of those years was worth very little.

                  I still think it’s true that much of what the show did amounted to very little, and that’s part of the problem. Viserion the dragon becoming an ice dragon existed solely as a schematic way for the Night King to bring down the Wall. The Night King existed mostly to unite the vast majority of the characters in a place where they could eventually squabble about letting Daenerys lead. And so on.

                  But the more I think about it, the more I think there’s an even more frustrating way in which Game of Thrones pulled a reverse Lost. Where Lost’s final few episodes made the mistake of being too much about the show’s character relationships — to the point that the biggest question the final season answers is “Will these people find each other in the afterlife?” — the final few episodes of Game of Thrones prioritized the exact opposite, rushing so quickly through plot points and character beats that viewers had no way to understand the ripple effect massive changes had throughout the cast. And that led to a gradual disconnection from the characters as anything other than symptoms of what the plot needed them to be.

                  The longer I write about TV, the more I think it’s a medium where relationships are more important than anything else. Great relationships between characters are what unites a show as traditional as The Big Bang Theory and a show as experimental as Twin Peaks (yes, even the 2017 revival season). TV is an exploration of change, and how change affects people, and how the ways those people are affected breed further change.

                  The best shows reflect this question right back at us. How do we feel about these characters now that they’ve changed? How do their shifting relationships include us in that equation? Do we still care? Do we want to see what else is on?

                  In its early going, Game of Thrones kept these questions in sight. It was really good at tracing the elaborate ways that change rippled throughout its massive cast. But in its final two seasons, the show mostly created a series of implications about what was happening and to whom.

                  Game of Thrones — which for so long was so good at tracing how small moments could create huge vibrations on entirely different continents — became a show that just kept asking you to take its word for things. Of course Dany would do this, and of course Tyrion would do that, right? If the writers say they did?

                  For some viewers, that worked well enough. But for a lot of us, it felt like what it was: a series of cut corners that damaged Game of Thrones’ most important relationship of all — the one it had with the audience.

                  Philanthropy is undergoing a massive backlash. A new book argues it’s gone too far.

                  What says “big philanthropy” more than a picture of Bono and Bill Gates at Davos?

                  A veteran philanthropy consultant defends the field.

                  American philanthropy has faced criticism basically since its inception.

                  The founding of the Rockefeller Foundation, the first institution of its kind in the US (and the benefactor of this section of Vox), was met with controversy and calls for Congress to disallow the group’s creation.

                  But the past couple years have featured the biggest backlash against elite philanthropy in decades. Three books — Anand Giridharadas’s Winners Take All, Rob Reich’s Just Giving, and Edgar Villanueva’s Decolonizing Philanthropy — made the case that giving by wealthy elites can be undemocratic, a distraction from the unjust ways that wealth is created, and do more good for the givers than the receivers.

                  Phil Buchanan of the Center for Effective Philanthropy professionally advises large foundations and other philanthropic institutions, and he thinks this backlash has gone too far. In his new book Giving Done Right and in several accompanying op-eds, he’s argued that the critiques, particularly that of Giridharadas, paint with too broad a brush and risk discouraging valuable donations.

                  “Giving among the biggest donors worldwide may fall as their charitable efforts are increasingly caricatured as self-protective ruses,” Buchanan warned in the Financial Times.

                  Buchanan and I talked the week of his book’s release about the backlash against elite philanthropy, and whether mega-donors can be defended. Our conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

                  Dylan Matthews

                  You wrote that you think philanthropy’s getting a bad rap. Why?

                  Phil Buchanan

                  Stepping way back, for the last 18 years in this job I’ve felt like philanthropy and the nonprofit sector it supports often get taken for granted. I think we undervalue the role of this sector, particularly in our country, and I think much of the narrative has been, “Philanthropy and nonprofits are broken and business thinking has the answer.”

                  And now we have a new critique, which is more from the left politically, from folks like Anand and others, which is, “No, actually, philanthropy is just an anti-democratic force or a ruse to distract from evil-doing. Actually, government has the answer.”

                  I actually think that nobody’s got all the answers. I think it’s particularly concerning right now because there’s some evidence that giving levels may be plateauing. It’s hard to tell for sure because we’re all waiting on the Giving USA data [the gold standard dataset on charitable giving]. And while I think we should be really critical of stupid or ineffective philanthropy, we should hold up giving as a value and recognize that when done well, it can have tremendous positive impact.

                  Dylan Matthews

                  Do you really think that these critiques are deterring donations? That seems to imply that donors are more sensitive to public commentary than I would have expected.

                  Phil Buchanan

                  I don’t know for certain. I want to be clear that by all means we should critique, you know, Mark Zuckerberg for getting it wrong in Newark or the Gates Foundation for getting it wrong in their early efforts — well, really, for most of their efforts — on public education. I’ve got a ton of critical things to say, but I do worry that if philanthropy is portrayed in a consistently negative light, then I believe that that could have a negative effect on giving.

                  And I think it could also affect the perspective of policymakers. Already we’ve seen policy changes that are not necessarily positive for philanthropy in terms of the tax code and the reduction in the number of itemizers.

                  Dylan Matthews

                  To use one of your examples, one of the ideas that this wave of philanthropy skeptics has been raising is that the question to ask about what Zuckerberg did in Newark isn’t, “Did it work?” but “Why was an outside billionaire was able to funnel $100 million to a school district to affect its policies?”

                  You talk about policy change in your book, and the need to be careful in funding policy change, but I’m curious what you make of that argument, that the problem is the structure that allows this.

                  Phil Buchanan

                  I hear that argument. Ultimately in Newark, there were elected public officials who were making decisions about whether and how to relate to philanthropists. I think that there are great examples of partnerships between elected officials and philanthropy that have contributed to really, really positive effects. Part of my challenge with the current critique is I think people are conflating their unhappiness with the decisions of folks who have been elected in our democratic system with critiques of philanthropy. It’s certainly fair to also critique Cory Booker and Chris Christie for their role [in Zuckerberg’s donation].

                  I think it’s easy to forget that [in] a strong, healthy civil society, institutions that are funded outside government are an important check and counter to the power of both government and business. We can look at other countries — China might be one example — where that doesn’t exist and I’m not sure that that’s what we want.

                  Dylan Matthews

                  I want to push you on the idea that this is just pluralism. It’s not a participatory democratic system where everyone’s putting in their share and collectively we’re building the civil society that we all, together, want. It’s a select group of very high net worth individuals making those decisions.

                  And if you believe people like Benjamin Page, Jason Seawright, and Matthew Lacombe, who just wrote a whole book about this, these donors tend to have political beliefs that are not representative of the public at large. They tend to be more skeptical of taxes, tend to be more skeptical of economic regulation generally — which makes sense.

                  So I think this is an anti-oligarchy critique: by allowing these kinds of philanthropic donations, are we setting up an oligarchic structure that exists alongside our democratic structures?

                  Phil Buchanan

                  I think we run the risk of exaggerating the degree to which philanthropy is focused on, or even big philanthropy is focused on, direct policy advocacy.

                  Much of what is done is actually through the support of grassroots organizations that are working on particular issues. So, for example, the Public Welfare Foundation has done a lot of work on criminal justice reform. They have supported organizations in many states across the country that have helped to influence policy to reduce by half the number of juveniles who are incarcerated in the past decade and a half or something.

                  I write in the book about the Wilburforce Foundation, which supports conservation efforts. Most of the folks whom they are supporting are quite small. These are organizations with budgets sometimes under $1 million who are in particular communities and organizing to try to protect habitats. That’s the way that change happens.

                  Is it perfect? No. Nothing’s perfect. Should taxes on wealthy people be higher? In my view, yes.

                  The structural critiques are important and they play out in our democratic politics. But in the meantime, here we are. We have significant wealth that’s been accumulated in this country. We have endowed private foundations that don’t even have a connection on the board to the original donor. These are institutions that are focused on a mission. They’re focused on the public good.

                  I like working in the day to day, in the practical reality, where there are people with decision-making power to allocate these resources. I want to help them to do it effectively. Do I hope that our systems change? Over time, do I hope that we elect different people with different priorities? Yes. And yet every day I go to work and try to help people who are in the here and now. And I think both parts of those conversations are obviously really important.

                  Dylan Matthews

                  Your book is about doing philanthropy most effectively, and there’s one version of that idea that is exemplified by a place like GiveWell, that takes that very literally and applies it to cause selection, and tries to find causes that are best promoting living standards and health, as measured in an at least somewhat quantitative way.

                  The foundations you’re working on do that sort of work but also arts funding and cultural funding. How do you find a standard that can do all of that? How do you know that what you’re doing is effective and not just effective toward a goal that might not be desirable?

                  Phil Buchanan

                  There are no easy answers to this. Ultimately, the choice of goals is subjective. Your positive goal could be my negative outcome, right? We could have goals that are in direct opposition if, for example, one of us is seeking greater accessibility to abortion and then the other one of us wants to limit access to abortion. I think this stuff is nuanced and contextual and there isn’t a single right answer.

                  I do think that the effective altruist types have a sort of relentless rationality — this argument that you should look for where you can have the maximum effect on human lives. I think that’s a helpful challenge. At the same time, I think it’s too absolute. There is a natural human desire to give locally, for example, and to be connected to a community. I don’t think we should necessarily tell all givers that they need to squelch that desire and give internationally because their dollars go further. And I also believe that there is a role for thriving arts and cultural organizations in our societies that it’s harder to make the case for using effective altruists’ methodology.

                  I think you just have to wrestle with all of these different choices. And in the book, I try to suggest some ways to think about it and some questions to ask yourself. But I am not an absolutist on this stuff. Ultimately it’s about head and heart, and it’s about the context that you’re in and the values that you have.

                  Dylan Matthews

                  One big question that comes up a lot is, “Why should taxpayers be subsidizing this?”

                  In your book you talk about Tim Gill, who I agree is a really, really interesting case. He helped bankroll the gay rights movement, and in particular the marriage equality movement.

                  I’m all for marriage equality. I think Tim Gill had a net positive impact on the world. But I wonder, “Why is it that we have this subsidy for him and, say, a very wealthy Catholic donor who might’ve have opposed him, to go at each other? Why is that a proper thing for us to be subsidizing?”

                  Phil Buchanan

                  That’s a good question. I think public policy encouraging giving makes sense. Our tax policy unfortunately encourages things like purchasing second homes. We tax capital gains at a lower rate than regular income. There are all kinds of issues with the way we tax people in this country. I’m a little puzzled sometimes by some of the folks — particularly some of the folks on the left politically — who I tend to agree with on a variety of things. But then it’s like, wait, why are we talking about charitable deduction, but not some of these other issues?

                  I’m sure it can be done better. I think one of the big problems right now is some people don’t get any tax benefit from contributing [if they take the standard deduction]. It’s hard to justify the deduction existing just for some.

                  Basically, my view is we want to create incentives for people to give — all people at every level. What is the right level of that incentive? How should it be provided? I think Rob Reich and his book have some interesting ideas. I’m certainly not a tax policy person and I don’t have the answers, but I do think that the nonprofit sector, with all its flaws and all its weaknesses, is one of the great strengths of the country. And I think we want our policies to be supportive of that sector.


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                  The 24 Democrats running for president and everything else you should know about 2020

                  The biggest questions about the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, answered.

                  The 2020 presidential campaign is well underway.

                  Any Democrat with dreams of occupying the Oval Office can see Donald Trump is a vulnerable president who hasn’t broadened his appeal beyond his base. A lot of them are running for their party’s nomination next year.

                  Former Vice President Joe Biden finally jumped in, establishing himself as an early if unproven frontrunner. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, and Bernie Sanders have been in the fray for months. Beto O’Rourke is also in. Pete Buttigieg picked up some steam. The Democratic field includes a record number of women and nonwhite candidates, a mix of high-wattage stars and lesser-known contenders who believe they can navigate a fractured field to victory.

                  Whoever emerges will face Trump, who has already raised more than $100 million for reelection to a second term. Recent history tells us Americans usually give their presidents another four years. That should lend Trump an advantage. But the president has been historically unpopular during his first term, and the US economy — typically at the top of voters’ minds — has stumbled lately.

                  Many Democratic voters don’t yet have fully formed opinions of the presumed candidates, even the “big” names: the Beto O’Rourkes, Kamala Harrises, Cory Bookers. The potential nominees with substantial name recognition are Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, two older white men in a diversifying party.

                  We have a long way to go, in other words. It’s silly to pretend anybody knows how this campaign is going to end, and the 2016 election should have humbled all political prognosticators. Still, the 2020 campaign has already started. Here is what you need to know to get oriented.

                  Who is definitely running for president in 2020?

                  On the Republican side, there is of course President Donald Trump.

                  A few Republican officials — former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and popular Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan — have hinted they might challenge the president in a primary. But any primary challenger would be a huge underdog against the sitting president. Republican leaders have said they want to protect Trump by potentially having state parties change the rules for their primaries to guard against an insurgency.

                  The only GOPer willing to make the leap so far is former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, a libertarian-leaning Republican who has officially entered the race.

                  On the Democratic side, the field is almost set, barring some unexpected late entries. They are, in rough order of public profile:

                  From left: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Jay Inslee, Beto O’Rourke, John Hickenlooper, Michael Bennett, Julián Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, John Delaney, Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, Marianne Williamson.

                  Former Vice President Joe Biden: Biden thought hard about running in 2016, but he decided against it, being so soon after his son Beau’s death and with the party establishment uniformly behind Hillary Clinton. He’s still very popular with Democratic voters, and the former veep apparently wasn’t sure any of the other potential candidates would beat Trump. Though surely inflated by name recognition, Biden has a sizable lead in the early Democratic primary polls.

                  Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT): The 2016 runner-up is running again. He has the biggest grassroots base of any potential candidate, and he has been the leader of the push to move the party leftward. Press reports of staff sexual misconduct within his 2016 campaign and a more competitive field will present Sanders with a very different race this time, however. Still, for many of the Democratic left, Sanders is the only candidate with the credibility to pursue their top-tier issues, like Medicare-for-all.

                  Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA): The former California attorney general started generating White House hype almost as soon as she got to the Senate in 2017. As a younger black woman, she personifies the Democratic Party’s changing nature. She’s endorsed Medicare-for-all and proposed a major middle-class tax credit, though her days as a prosecutor may present problems with the progressive grassroots. Based on the early polls and media hype, Harris has made the biggest splash of any Democrats not named Sanders.

                  Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): The Massachusetts senator is proudly progressive, though she tends to position herself as wanting to fix capitalism rather than replace it. She wants to outflank Trump on trade and give workers seats on corporate boards and tax extreme wealth. Warren got on the ground early in Iowa and other early states. (You might have also heard about her releasing a DNA test in an attempt to prove she had Native American roots — a poorly executed attempt to rebut Trump’s “Pocahontas” taunts.)

                  Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ): The former Newark mayor and part-time firefighter is another fresh face with big ideas like savings accounts for newborns, and he’s also running in a Democratic primary with a lot of black voters. He’ll have to contend, though, with his work promoting charter schools (not a favorite of the teachers unions) and the perception that he’s close with Wall Street.

                  Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY): Gillibrand has evolved over the years from a centrist Democrat in the House to a progressive who endorses Medicare-for-all and universal paid family leave; a pillar of her Senate career has been cracking down on sexual assault in the military. Gillibrand is presenting herself as a young mom in tune with the #MeToo era and the Democratic women who powered the party to historic wins in the 2018 midterms.

                  Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): She will look to blend her folksy, Midwestern manner with some crossover appeal, given her history of working across the aisle with Republicans and winning elections handily in a purplish state. Klobuchar is also known for her willingness to crack down on big tech firms, focused on privacy and antitrust issues. She is struggling with a lack of name recognition, however, and she has been the subject of several recent reports about her alleged harsh treatment of staff.

                  Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO): Bennet is a well-regarded but nationally little-known senator. He tacks toward the center ideologically. The passion that fuels his candidacy is a fervent frustration with the way Washington works now. Bennet believes Americans are not nearly as divided as the parties in Washington and is positioning himself accordingly.

                  Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke: The former Texas Congress member is maybe 2020’s biggest wild card. O’Rourke built a historically successful fundraising apparatus during his losing 2018 Senate run against Ted Cruz. He’s young and he gives a good speech. Obama’s old hands seem to like him. The open question is whether his self-evidence political talents are matched by policy substance.

                  New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio: De Blasio, mayor of America’s biggest city and already the unlikely victor of a contentious Democratic primary to get there, is touting his progressive achievements in the Big Apple as a model for the nation: enacting universal pre-K, ending stop-and-frisk, and an ambitious local health care program.

                  South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg: Something of a viral political star, though he leads a city of “just” 100,000 people, Buttigieg is a military veteran and a Rhodes scholar, and he would be the first openly LGBTQ president in American history. Redevelopment and infrastructure projects have been staples of his tenure as mayor.

                  Washington Gov. Jay Inslee: Inslee is centering his work on environmental issues and the threat of climate change. He has pushed a bill to get his home state off coal energy and all other carbon-producing energy sources by 2045. It hasn’t always been smooth — voters in Washington rejected an Inslee-supported carbon fee in 2015 — but the governor hopes to quickly build a profile by focusing relentlessly on humanity’s direst existential threat.

                  Montana Gov. Steve Bullock: Bullock, a two-term Democratic governor in a Trump-friendly state, is campaigning as a Washington outsider who will confront moneyed interests and reform campaign finance. He can also claim the successful expansion of Medicaid, with the buy-in of a Republican legislature, to showcase his bipartisan bona fides.

                  Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper: Hickenlooper is a moderate ex-governor who is pitching his ability to work across the aisle. On the issues, he can tout his record on gun violence, environmental regulations, and expanding Medicaid. He conveys an everyman persona, having founded a Denver brewery before he ever ran for public office.

                  Former San Antonio mayor and HUD Secretary Julián Castro: Castro got VP buzz in prior elections; now he’s running in his own right after serving in Barack Obama’s Cabinet, on an aspirational message as the grandson of immigrants.

                  Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI): Gabbard fires up a certain strain of antiwar progressive. She’ll face tough questions, though, about her apparent friendliness with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and her past comments on LGBTQ rights.

                  Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA): The California Democrat has gained a bit of a profile from his role on the House Intelligence Committee, which has taken much of the responsibility for investigating the Trump administration over the last two years. He’s selling his candidacy as one focused on national security.

                  Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH): The Ohio congressman is pitching himself as the Democratic answer for Trump Country, arguing he can connect with the blue-collar workers the party has lost in the Midwest. He cited the closure of the Lordstown GM plant in his home state as part of his motivation for running. Ryan has a history of long-shot bids: he challenged Nancy Pelosi for the House Democratic leader post in 2016.

                  Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA): Another Pelosi skeptic who helped lead the unsuccessful rebellion to stop her from becoming House Speaker again in 2016. Moulton, who represents a district in Massachusetts and is an Iraq War veteran, is positioning himself as a moderate in contrast to the socialist energy animating the left and seeking to take over his party.

                  Former Rep. John Delaney: The most notable thing about Delaney is he’s already been running for president for two years, more or less living in Iowa, the first state on the presidential calendar. But he was the first choice of just 1 percent of Iowa Democrats in a recent poll.

                  Former Sen. Mike Gravel: The 88-year-old former senator, famed for reading the Pentagon Papers into the congressional record, is running 2020’s oddest campaign. Two teenagers convinced Gravel to launch a protest candidacy targeting the center-left and the forever war of mainstream American foreign policy.

                  Andrew Yang: A humanitarian-mind entrepreneur who also served under the Obama administration. He’s running on a policy platform that includes, among other things, a universal basic income that would pay out $1,000 a month to every American over age 18.

                  Marianne Williamson: A self-proclaimed “bitch for God” who has been a spiritual adviser to Oprah. Her previous political experience is a failed run for Congress as an independent in 2014.

                  Miramar, FL, Mayor Wayne Messam: The mayor of a Miami suburb, it seems safe to assume Messam has the lowest name recognition of any Democrat in the race. The son of Jamaican immigrants, he’s raised wages for city workers as mayor and confronted the Republican-led state government over gun control.

                  Who else might run for president in 2020?

                  The field might finally be set. There are a handful of names we’re still watching — former senator, Secretary of State and presidential nominee John Kerry and Georgia state senator Stacey Abrams chief among them — but otherwise, we have all the candidates we’re going to get.

                  When are the 2020 Democratic primary debates?

                  The Democratic National Committee announced it will hold 12 debates, starting in June 2019 and extending into 2020.

                  Given the huge field, the debates will be split across two nights to start with. Here are the dates we know so far:

                  • June 26 and 27 in Miami, FL
                  • July 30 and 31 in Detroit, MI

                  The DNC has developed a multi-faceted rubric for deciding which candidates will participate in the debates. As Vox’s Ella Nilsen reported:

                  In order to qualify for debates, candidates will need:

                  – To register 1 percent or more support in three polls between January 1 and two weeks before the debate. These polls don’t necessarily have to be national polls; public polls in the first four primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and/or Nevada also qualify. But they have to be done by major news organizations or qualifying universities.

                  – The DNC is also trying to incentivize grassroots donations. Candidates can qualify for the debates if they show their campaign has received donations from at least 65,000 unique donors and a minimum of 200 unique donors per state in at least 20 US states.

                  The DNC is also preparing for a scenario in which there are more than 20 candidates that qualify for a single debate. If that happens, the top 20 candidates will be selected using a methodology that favors candidates that meet both the polling and grassroots donations thresholds. That will be followed by the highest polling average, which will followed by the most unique donors, according to the DNC.

                  When are the 2020 Democratic primary election and caucus nights?

                  The votes that matter won’t be cast for another year. We have 12 months of formal announcements, speeches, policy rollouts, campaign gossip, unpredictable polling, and some debates before any elections happen, when candidates start collecting the delegates they’ll need to claim the nomination.

                  Early momentum is always critical, especially in a big field with numerous candidates trying to prove they’re viable. With that in mind, the first two months of the primary schedule:

                  • February 3: Iowa caucuses
                  • February 11: New Hampshire primary
                  • February 22: Nevada caucuses
                  • February 29: South Carolina primary
                  • March 3 (“Super Tuesday”): Alabama, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont primaries
                  • March 7: Louisiana primary
                  • March 10: Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio primaries
                  • March 17: Arizona, Florida, Illinois primaries

                  There are at least three more months of primaries and caucuses after that. But the candidates will focus their attention and organizing on the earlier states, and we should know a lot more about the field and the strongest candidates once the first sprint is over.

                  How do you win the 2020 Democratic nomination?

                  The short version is you have to win a majority of the delegates.

                  Every state has different rules for its primary elections or caucuses in terms of allocating delegates. Candidates win delegates proportional to where they finish in the results.

                  In terms of numbers, there are 4,051 delegates for the 2020 Democratic National Convention (where the nominee will be formally selected) up for grabs during the primary elections. One candidate needs to win at least 2,026 delegates to be nominated.

                  You might hear talk of a “brokered” or “contested” convention if no candidate gets the necessary delegates to win on the first ballot. But that hasn’t happened for decades, and it’s way too early to think that will happen in 2020. That doesn’t mean it’s not a possibility, but let’s wait for some votes to come in before we start up that parlor game.

                  Democrats have made one major change from the 2016 primary on “superdelegates” — elected officials, party leaders, and other prominent Democrats who have votes in addition to the regular delegates awarded by state elections. In the past, superdelegates didn’t have to follow any rules and could back whichever candidate they desire and make up their minds at any point in the process. When most of them endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016, it gave her a built-in delegate advantage over Bernie Sanders, though she still won enough votes independent of the superdelegates to secure the nomination.

                  In a series of reforms, the DNC has stripped superdelegates of a vote on the first ballot. So unless the convention has to move to second or third votes because no candidate has the sufficient number of delegates — something that hasn’t happened since the 1950s — superdelegates won’t matter in 2020. (Arguably, they never did. Many pointed out it was unlikely for superdelegates to use their power to overturn the outcome of the primary system, but it nevertheless created consternation within the party.)

                  Okay. So who will be the next president?

                  Ha! You almost got me.

                  I’m obese. I want a healthy lifestyle. But it’s often inaccessible to disabled people like me.

                  Diet and exercise are especially challenging for disabled people.

                  I’m at the doctor’s office watching him study my chart when a frown crinkles his cheeks. He looks up, and I know what he’s about to say.

                  “According to the BMI, you’re obese.”

                  “Is that so?”

                  “You need to diet and exercise more,” the physician, who has a chiseled physique, scolds. “Given your condition, life will be much better if you trim down.” Before I have a chance to respond, he moves on.

                  What this doctor doesn’t know, and what I don’t have the heart to tell him, is that it’s nearly impossible to lose weight when your body won’t cooperate.

                  For the past six years, a brace has ensconced my left leg, forcing me to use a metal cane to get around. I’m disabled. This is my life. It’s a good one, and most of the time I don’t complain, even when I see the pity on people’s faces after they learn that a red pick-up truck careened into me. The spinal cord injury I suffered as a result will affect me for the rest of my life.

                  Before the accident, I was a varsity tennis player and member of my high school’s marching band. I bicycled regularly, ran with friends, worked out with my father, and was in the best shape of my life. Afterward, everything changed.

                  This is because staying fit is a rarely discussed challenge for many disabled people, even in conversations with supposed experts. According to the CDC, individuals “with mobility limitations and intellectual or learning disabilities” are far more likely to be overweight, with rates of obesity for disabled adults and children 58 percent and 38 percent higher than for their able-bodied counterparts, respectively.

                  For the sake of the ever-shifting disabled community then, we need to begin a conversation about this complicating reality and the social miasma it generates.

                  The difficulties of weight loss for the disabled

                  Higher obesity rates for disabled people shouldn’t surprise us. Certain medications keep weight on, pain often deters physical activity, and cooking when impaired can be a real struggle, making it harder to maintain a healthy diet.

                  With two titanium rods and eight screws in my back, even bending down fatigues me. Since my muscles aren’t innervated properly, balance is difficult, and the slightest of unanticipated weight shifts potentially dangerous. Plates, glasses, silverware rest in cupboards at different heights in different places around the kitchen. Just securing the groceries needed to cook in the first place usually means walking around a store with no place to sit down.

                  Often, take-out is the safest option.

                  Exercising itself is a struggle: Running or hiking — a favorite pastime for my peers — clearly isn’t possible, and sometimes when I try to go without the mobility scooter, a fall ensues. Parks and gyms also pose accessibility challenges. Many parks often have unpaved paths, inaccessible curbs or unnavigable topographical features such steep hills and unlevel woods. Gyms, meanwhile, typically provide safer environments due to requirements from the Americans with Disabilities Act, but many, including my own, remain inaccessible.

                  Shortly after my accident, I was gutted to find out that I couldn’t get to the work-out room of the local tennis club without taking stairs. Changing rooms can also be hard to manage, personal trainers rarely have much experience with disabled clients, and most gym staffers never consider how a disabled individual might need help to use their facilities.

                  Numerous friends have welcomed me to join them at more accessible venues. But then my personal pride gets in the way. I don’t want to be seen bumbling about on the treadmill, out of sync with everyone else around me. I’m afraid of becoming a spectacle — of showing them just how “abnormal” I actually am.

                  Getting in shape depletes my physical and emotional resources. Most of the time, I just can’t manage the loss.

                  Facile opinions on weight-loss have outsize impact on disabled people

                  In a world where ableism is a real threat, the last thing our community needs is to be judged for our weight.

                  Yet with each new article or report about obesity comes rejuvenated efforts to address the “epidemic” or “crisis” that larger people like me, disabled and able-bodied alike, perpetuate. Physicians with lackluster training in nutrition fat-shame patients who “delay or avoid seeking medical care” as a result, a problem that has been highlighted by body positivity activist Linda Bacon. Government officials also woefully misunderstand the situation, and countless studies have confirmed that most people believe those of us with bigger bodies should be able to summon the courage to lose weight on our own.

                  But while monomaniacal exercise and diet work for some people, they don’t for most: A staggering 95 percent to 98 percent of attempts to lose weight by the general public fail for reasons that “are biological and irreversible,” wrote Michael Hobbes in HuffPost last year. Relying on these two solutions as “the primary treatment for those in larger bodies, particularly those who also have disabilities, ignores the lived experience of the individual and is not evidence-based medicine,” said Louise D. Metz, a physician connected to the Association for Size Diversity and Health.

                  Bigger disabled individuals can fall prey especially easily to the personal failure model of obesity, and be recriminated appropriately, because we attract attention. Our bodies are doubly a spectacle, not only because of our size but because we move and function differently in the world, two realities that mutually inform and magnify one another.

                  A great many other do-gooders besides the doctor above, such as medical professionals, friends, relative strangers, are also quick to point out that my existence will be much improved, that my back will feel much better, or that my brace will last much longer if I watch my weight. But no one really explains how to do this, and I don’t ask, because I can’t kick the shame associated with being fat.

                  Where does that leave us?

                  In the end, two paths lie open to those who want to address the stigmatizing relationship between disability and obesity: the first recognizes that strategies for staying physically fit as a disabled individual, while not completely elusive, require far more time, money, and creativity. To start redressing this wrong, we must ameliorate obvious barriers: Make parks more accessible, gym environments more inclusive, assistance for cooking and ambulation more affordable, and wheelchair athletic leagues a normal presence in communities.

                  But at the same time, we need to educate health care professionals who should know better in the first place. “The research is damning,” Bacon points out. “If we really care about health, we should be fighting fat stigma—not fat.” This points me toward the other path, which sets fitness aside to reconfigure the dominant model of obesity as a badge of shame. I’m not the first to suggest this of course.

                  But until more people begin asking the question, “What unique perspective might the obese person have to offer?” no amount of fat activism will do a bit of good. Those with smaller body sizes, including doctors, need to engage with large individuals before casting judgment — or even worse, making themselves feel better with the vile phrase, “at least I don’t look like that.”

                  Life would be far better for people in my position if we manage as a society to walk, run, shuffle, limp, or wheel down both.

                  Pasquale Toscano currently lives in Oxford, England, but heads to London often for the theater scene. He will return to the US for a PhD program in early-modern English literature at Princeton University, focusing on representations of disability in drama and epic poetry.


                  First Person is Vox’s home for compelling, provocative narrative essays. Do you have a story to share? Read our submission guidelines, and pitch us at firstperson@vox.com.

                  Trump ignored Congress on war powers. Constitutional scholars want Democrats to take him to court.

                  U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) outside the U.S. Supreme Court.

                  Should Nancy Pelosi take Donald Trump to the Supreme Court?

                  A group of constitutional scholars and lawmakers want House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to take President Donald to the Supreme Court — over the war in Yemen.

                  Their case is straightforward: Trump is unilaterally involving the United States in war, and that’s unconstitutional. For four years, the United States has participated in a war in Yemen that was never authorized by Congress, and that Congress expressly told Trump to withdraw from. Trump ignored the directive. Now, as the White House escalates tensions with Iran, there’s growing concern that unless legal action is taken, Congress will cede more war powers to Trump.

                  In April, Congress passed a historic War Powers Resolution, directing Trump to remove troops involved in “hostilities” in Yemen. Trump vetoed it, cementing American fingerprints on one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world: According to the most recent United Nations report, 80 percent of the Yemeni population — 24 million people — is in need of humanitarian assistance. The Senate failed to reach the 67-vote threshold needed to override the executive veto on the bill.

                  Trump said the War Powers Resolution was an attempt to “weaken [his] constitutional authorities.” But the power to authorize a declaration of war, of course, sits with Congress, not Trump.

                  Constitutional scholars are now arguing a War Powers Resolution isn’t a normal bill. They say it is a fundamental constitutional question about the power to authorize war. And the stakes are high.

                  “The president’s veto doesn’t end this conversation,” Bruce Ackerman, a constitutional law scholar with Yale University told Vox. He, along with a diverse group of legal experts have sent Pelosi a letter urging her to take legal action.

                  The United States got involved in Yemen four years ago when Saudi Arabia and its allies began a military campaign in Yemen against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. The US is providing Saudis with intelligence, arms and ammunition, and, until late last year, fuel for their warplanes. The warplanes that bombed a school bus, killing at least 40 children last August, did so with an American-made bomb.

                  The war that has killed more than 50,000 people, according to one independent estimate, and has left tens of millions more in need of assistance. Trump is determined to keep course, and has shown he is committed to his alliance to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, even after it became clear the prince called for Saudi Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s killing.

                  Since Trump’s veto, his administration has escalated tensions with Iran, spreading concern that Trump is itching to stoke another war. These concerns were exacerbated on Friday, when the administration sidestepped Congress again, unilaterally authorizing $8 billion in arms sales, including to Saudi Arabia and its allies, to counter Iran.

                  “This is a moment of truth, both for the congressional war power and for the Supreme Court of the United States,” Ackerman said. “Does the Supreme Court of the United States — and its claim of originalism — is that supposed to be taken seriously?”

                  The case for taking Trump to the Supreme Court, briefly explained

                  Constitutionally, Congress has the power to declare war, and the president, as the commander in chief, has the power to direct the military after Congress’s authorization. Historically, America’s war making has gone differently; presidents have consistently pushed the boundaries of their power.

                  For example, for the past 18 years, presidents of both parties have have used the same 2001 congressional war authorization — passed after 9/11 — as justification for going into war across the Middle East, including Yemen. The Obama administration did not ask Congress for specific authorization before involving itself in Yemen. The Trump administration hasn’t either, bypassing the legislative branch as it negotiated billions of dollars in arms deals, and as it conducted military operations.

                  Instead of seeking congressional approval for war, presidents have increasingly turned to their internal legal counsels to build a largely secret body of law to defend their war engagements, Mary Dudziak, a constitutional scholar with Emory University School of Law, said.

                  “Especially since 9/11, Congress has let power accumulate in the executive branch,” Dudziak said. “And Congress does that by sitting back and not objecting, which is why Pelosi’s role is really important right now.”

                  Now, Dudziak, and others, say Congress has an opportunity to fight back. Legal scholars are pointing to a 1950s Supreme Court case, the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, to make the case to Democratic leadership that Congress has the winning argument against Trump on war powers.

                  In 1952, during the Korean War, a labor strike stalled steel production, cutting the availability of war materials for American troops. So President Harry Truman invoked his emergency powers to seize private steel mills to force steelworkers back, blatantly defying specific provisions in the Taft-Hartley Act — a largely anti-union labor law from 1947. Truman’s justification was that he could not wage a successful war without the proper materials, and therefore was allowed to act outside the law.

                  The Supreme Court rejected Truman’s case, and importantly, Justice Robert Jackson’s opinion established a clear three-tier framework for presidential powers. He wrote a president’s powers are at maximum strength only with Congress’ authorization. When Congress shows indifference, presidential power is in a “twilight zone,” as both branches can claim authority over a given matter. Finally, a president’s power is “at its lowest ebb,” when Congress has specifically disapproved of an action.

                  US involvement in the war in Yemen firmly sits in this third category. Congress has passed a War Powers Resolution — a form of legislative action established in 1973 to prevent another Vietnam War — specifically directing Trump to withdraw from Yemen. In passing the resolution, Congress not only tried to claw back its constitutional powers from the president, but also asserted that the executive had overstepped his bounds as commander in chief, going to war without Congress’s approval.

                  “We have the leading fundamental precedent on this requiring the Supreme Court to scrutinize presidential war making,” Ackerman said. “If Nancy Pelosi doesn’t go to court and urge the Supreme Court to intervene when Congress has for the first time invoked this [War Power Resolution], in the case where neither President Obama nor President Trump has gained the approval, it establishes a precedent that this War Power shouldn’t be taken seriously.”

                  Do Democrats want to get into this fight?

                  Since Trump’s veto, lawmakers and activists have all been waiting for their next move on Yemen.

                  “We continue to consider all viable options to end this humanitarian crisis,” Pelosi’s spokesperson said.

                  Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), who shuttled the War Power Resolution through the House, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) doing the same in the Senate, is hopeful: “It wasn’t a no,” he told Vox of leadership’s interest in taking Trump to court. That said, there still isn’t consensus that this is the best strategy going forward.

                  Sanders told Vox he would be supportive of Pelosi taking legal action, but said his primary focus is on building enough support that the Senate can overturn Trump’s veto. Sanders often talks about Yemen, and the importance of Congress’ war powers (especially with respect to Trump’s escalations with Iran), on the national stage as one of the leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

                  “I think essentially we have got to rally the American people to understand what a horrible humanitarian disaster this is, and we need the votes to override Trump’s veto — that is to me the major issue,” Sanders said. “The court case would go on and on. And we need immediate action.”

                  Dudziak acknowledged the need for both legal action, and a national campaign to gain Americans’ attention.

                  “The only way for Congress to have any role in restraining president’s war power is for Congress to act,” she said. “The hardest thing to [doing] anything is profound apathy about our conflict on the part of the American people.”

                  Mike Gravel, 2020’s oddest Democratic presidential candidate, explained

                  Mike Gravel ran for president in 2008 and then seemed done with political life. But now he is running 2020’s oddest presidential campaign.

                  Mike Gravel, the anti-war zealot, is running for president on Twitter.

                  Former Alaska senator Mike Gravel is running for president. Seriously.

                  Gravel isn’t holding campaign events. He hasn’t stepped foot in Iowa or New Hampshire. In fact, until a couple teenagers called him in March and urged him to run for president again, he was just an 80-something former Democratic senator and 2008 presidential candidate quietly fading from the public’s memory. Now Gravel is the subject, if not exactly the author, of the 2020 presidential election’s oddest campaign.

                  The former senator is a legend of the anti-war movement, having fought to end the Vietnam War draft and taken the perilous step of entering the leaked Pentagon Papers into the official congressional record. He made a big splash in 2008, his last serious foray into politics, by hammering the other Democratic candidates for being too closely allied with the military industrial complex. This was and is a serious guy.

                  But that doesn’t change the fact that it was two teenagers who convinced Gravel to enter the 2020 race and that the same teens are effectively managing his campaign by running his Twitter account. The most bizarre part of all of this is that Gravel could actually secure enough donors to technically qualify for the Democratic Party’s primary debates that begin next month. For a campaign that sounds a little like performance art, that would be quite an accomplishment.

                  Gravel is a credible voice for the anti-war left and, during a primary largely defined by how little interest the competing candidates have shown in criticizing one another, his unusual campaign has been happy to take shots at other Democrats. It can only help to have online-savvy youngsters turning his anti-establishment message into Twitter-friendly Marie Kondo memes.

                  You would be forgiven for not knowing what to make of Gravel 2020. We’ve never seen a protest candidate quite like this. But his candidacy should be a reminder of two things: the energy on the anti-war left is real and the rules of presidential campaigning have been rewritten after Trump.

                  Mike Gravel and some teens are kind of running for president

                  It sounds like a tall tale — two random New York teenagers listen to the ribald socialist podcast Chapo Trap House, learn about Gravel, and then literally call him up and ask him to run for president — but that is more or less what happened.

                  Gravel’s 2020 campaign started seemingly at random in mid-March, as his Twitter account announced he would run for president “not … to win, but to bring a critique of American imperialism to the Democratic debate stage.” Splinter got the whole backstory from David Oks, the high school senior who thought up this unlikely endeavor:

                  Oks, a high school senior who has previously run for mayor of his small New York town, told Splinter that he and several friends are avid listeners of the Chapo Trap House podcast, which mentioned Gravel in a recent episode. About a week ago, he and a couple friends reached out to Gravel and asked if he would consider making another run for president. Their pitch was clear. “My friends and I were encouraging him to consider running for president with the idea being that he would not try to contest any primaries, he would just try to get into the Democratic debates,” he said.

                  Oks and his friends were clearly inspired by Gravel’s performance in the 2008 debates, where he delivered a searing indictment of the vast majority of his fellow candidates for their support of the Iraq war and their continued commitment to American interventionism in the Middle East.

                  Thus far, Gravel’s campaign has largely been limited to saucy tweets. Oks and his friends, who act as the senator’s voice on social media, have been aggressive about criticizing the center-left candidates running for the Democratic nomination. Frontrunner Joe Biden is the frequent target of the Gravel account’s vitriol.