10 Leadership Elements That Work In Today’s Business

Lisa_Leslie_by_Gage_SkidmoreThe pervasiveness of social networking and the Internet has caused a new focus and value on “openness,” which leads to a new element of leadership, called “open leadership.” The mantra of open leadership is “Be Open, Be Transparent, and Be Authentic.” This is counter to the traditional business premise of “control,” so many companies are still pushing back.

Charlene Li, in her classic book “Open Leadership,” shows leaders how to tap into the power of the social technology revolution and use social media to be “open” while still maintaining control. I share her view of the ten key elements of the basic framework and vocabulary of open information sharing and open decision making:

  1. Explaining: creating buy-in. This element is sharing information through the new video, audio, and interactive media about, and the logic behind decisions, direction, or strategy with the goal of gaining buy-in to the idea so everyone is working toward the same goal.

  2. Updating: capturing knowledge and actions. New publishing tools, like blogs, collaboration platforms, and even Twitter provide updates that are easily available. These have the added benefit of being searchable and discoverable.

  3. Conversing: engaging in a dialogue with others. Employees can share best practices with customers on social network platforms and customers can help each other. When done well, an organization’s online community can become a competitive advantage.

  4. Open microphone: encouraging participation. Everyone and anyone is welcome to contribute through new collaborative tools with no preconditions. Search, combined with ratings and reviews become key in separating the useful from the rambling.

  5. Crowdsourcing: solving a specific problem together. The goal here is to grow the sources of new ideas and gather fresh thinking to create a new product or service. It can also be for solving everyday problems, like logo design or open source code.

  6. Platforms: setting standards and sharing data. EBay is an example of open standardizing on how items are listed and how transactions are handled, enabling millions of individual sellers. Common platforms enable open data access at any level.

  7. Centralized. The key challenge of making centralized decision making more open is to open up information sharing in both directions, so that those in power have the right information and also have the commitment to share it back out to the organization.

  8. Democratic. Increasingly, voting is used to allow people to choose from a set of equally viable options, with the result is that employees feel a greater sense of ownership in the process. This is also becoming prevalent in decisions with customers on products.

  9. Consensus. Social technology tools now allow this process to be done quickly and less chaotically, with tremendous buy-in from everyone affected. This process works well in today’s extremely flat and non-hierarchical startup organizations.

  10. Distributed. This is a hybrid of all the preceding decision processes, in that it pushes decisions away from the center to where information and knowledge actually reside, typically closer to the customer. This mode requires more discipline and planning.

I’m still waiting to see how all this works out in real life. The challenge is to be open without abdicating all control, or spiraling into chaos. Hopefully, by embracing social media rather than banning it, leaders can transform their organizations to become more effective, decisive, and ultimately more profitable in this new era of openness in the marketplace. Are you there yet?

Marty Zwilling

The Launch of Adero

I’ve watched a pretty remarkable thing unfold in the past year that culminated yesterday in the launch of a new product from Adero. For a one minute overview, watch the video below. For a longer overview, read the Hello from Adero post from Nate Kelly, the CEO.

Adero is shipping now. As a reader of my blog, you can get 20% off a purchase using the code FOUNDRY20. I’ve been using the production product for 30 days and it’s dynamite.

Adero is what has emerged from our investment in TrackR and is a very long story for another blog post. After a very difficult Q4 last year, we reset a number of things on the business, including the leadership team. Nate Kelly, who had been hired as COO, took over as CEO and in February decided to effectively start from scratch with the hardware, software, and long-term product vision.

Nate and the team have – in nine months – designed, built, and shipped an extremely impressive next-generation product. The amount done in that period of time has been mind-blowing to me after having worked with many hardware-related companies. It’s not just the creation of the product, but the quality of the total product – hardware, software, brand promise, and organization to support it – that is impressive.

I’m really excited about the next phase of this company. We’ve had many successes emerge from companies that stalled or had major problems. Every successful company of ours has had at least one near-death experience. The last year has been extremely intense for this company, and I have enormous respect for the effort of every person there.

Help me on the next journey of Adero by becoming a customer and giving me feedback – of any type – to pass on to the team. They are a learning and building machine that is as impressive as any that I’ve gotten the pleasure to work with over the years.

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Techstars Announces “Certified by Techstars®” Pilot Program with METRO and Target

Techstars Announces “Certified by Techstars®” Pilot Program with Legacy Partners METRO and Target for 2018 International Retail Accelerator

Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, today announced the launch of a new pilot program, the METRO Target Retail Accelerator, Certified by Techstars, with long-term partners METRO AG and Target Corporation. METRO AG, a German-based wholesaler and food specialist, and Target Corporation, are both legacy partners of Techstars, each having partnered with Techstars to deliver a series of retail-focused accelerators over the past three years.

The METRO Target Retail Accelerator, Certified by Techstars brings together the respective organizations in a pilot program where METRO and Target will collaborate in running an accelerator across two geographies, customized to each partner’s business needs, while applying the foundations and learnings from their years of partnership with Techstars.

Over the formative years of these strategic partnerships, METRO and Target teams have gained experience and traction in their strategy to include open innovation in partnership with startups. In more recent planning sessions, both partners expressed desires to evolve their participation in the accelerators to focus on partnering with later-stage startups better positioned to pilot and rapidly scale collaborations. Techstars identified this appetite as an opportunity to evolve the partnerships and help them transition to the next phase of their strategy, creating additional opportunities for scaling startups in our network.

This joint effort will extend global reach for each organization, enabling participating startups access to executives and networks from two worldwide leaders in the wholesale and retail space. Techstars is excited to support this collaboration and will be a key stakeholder in the program, with its role altering from a leadership and operational capacity to a supportive advisory position.

As the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, Techstars recognizes and embraces its responsibility to facilitate the connection between other networks, empowering others’ success. Techstars is proud to bring together these two partners and support METRO and Target’s desires to grow and expand their own networks.

Alumni from the Techstars Retail Accelerator in Partnership with Target and METRO Retail Accelerator Powered by Techstars will be invited into the METRO Target network, as well as the Techstars network. Startups that participate in the new METRO Target Accelerator, Certified by Techstars will have the opportunity to engage with the Techstars network at key network events such as Techstars FounderCon, BizDev Day, and Investor Day events. Applications are now open and will be accepted through February 24, 2019. Startups interested in applying are encouraged to learn more at https://metro-target-accelerator.com/.

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Coach Rav’s 23 Life Choices

I saw an article about George Raveling recently in the Daily Stoic newsletter. Raveling – known as Coach Rav to many, has a pretty remarkable history. And an even better life philosophy that fits very nicely with #GiveFirst.

On his website, he has a page titled 23 Life Choices That Are In Your Control. It’s delightful and follows.

1. Be YOU, not them.

2. Do more, expect less.

3. Be positive, not negative.

4. Be the solution, not the problem.

5. Be a starter, not a stopper.

6. Question more, believe less.

7. Be a somebody, never a nobody.

8. Love more, hate less.

9. Give more, take less.

10. See more, look less.

11. Save more, spend less.

12. Listen more, talk less.

13. Walk more, sit less.

14. Read more, watch less.

15. Build more, destroy less.

16. Praise more, criticize less.

17. Clean more, dirty less.

18. Live more, do not just exist.

19. Be the answer, not the question.

20. Be a lover, not a hater.

21. Be a painkiller, not a pain giver.

22. Think more, react less.

23. Be more uncommon, less common.

If you just skimmed the list, I encourage you to go back and read it again. To slow down and really savor it, read each line out loud and then ponder what you are doing to make that choice on a daily basis.

The post Coach Rav’s 23 Life Choices appeared first on Feld Thoughts.

Colorado Magic on a Friday

I’ve been in San Diego with Amy for a while but we are returning to Boulder in a week. San Diego has been great, but I miss my dogs, my friends, and the Colorado vibe.

When people ask me about the Colorado vibe, I often talk about GiveFirst. Soon there will be a book (by me) on this, but for now there’s an increasing amount of content on the web building up to explain it. This article in the Colorado Sun – How Techstars’ “GiveFirst” mantra became a road map for the startup community in Colorado and beyond – was excellent and had numerous short examples of how GiveFirst works and influences a startup community.

Next up is a fun article by my co-author of Startup Communities Way (my new Startup Communities book – coming up mid-year 2019) Ian Hathaway. A few days ago he cranked out a post titled Colorado is for Founders. I love that phrase and he led off the post with this great tweet from Phil Weiser.

He goes on to explain Jared and Phil’s huge accomplishments and impacts around startups and the startup community. The punch line in the post is:

“By many measures, Colorado is the most entrepreneurial state in the country, a fact that I discovered in 2013 when studying high-technology business formation around the United States. I was struck by just how many places across the state had a high proportion of startup activity occurring—a finding that has been extended to looking across other types of high-growth entrepreneurship as well. Something special is happening there, and it has been for many years.”

I’ll end with the Holiday Gift Guide from Techstars. If you want to give someone you know the gift of something from a Techstars company this holiday season, here are the choices all in one place.

Happy Friday Colorado. See you in a week.

The post Colorado Magic on a Friday appeared first on Feld Thoughts.

How to Get Organized In Your Business Before the New Year

The end of the year can be an extremely busy time for businesses. While you may be scrambling to hit deadlines, market holiday sales, and fulfill orders, you also may want to reflect on your business’ goals and progress over the past year. But, you’ll want to get organized in your business before the new year.

While all of this is important, you should also take a few minutes to organize your business before January 1st hits.

January signals a fresh start for most people and it can be a very crucial time for you to take action when it comes to making improvements and working toward your new and improved goals. If you leave your business as a disorganized hot mess at the end of the year, you’ll likely spend a significant amount of time in 2019 trying to get back on track.

Here are a few easy things you can to get organized in your business for the new year.

Create a Document Management System

How are you managing important incoming documents? When you sign new contracts, where do you put them? It’s important to have a clear and easy-to-follow document management system so you don’t lose important paperwork. This is especially true with the tax season coming up.

You’ll save yourself a lot of time and stress by organizing your documents before you actually need to use them again. Invest in some handy office supplies like a file folder or file cabinet. Secure documents that contain personal information and don’t forget about online storage.

If you are storing documents on your computer in various different folders, make sure you’ve backed them up in the cloud and secured your device.

Get to Inbox Zero

Don’t leave your email inbox a mess. Odds are, when you come back to work after the holidays, you won’t have a clue as to who you need to contact or follow up with if you leave a ton of unread emails.

Generally, you’ll want to get into the habit of reaching inbox zero throughout the year, but it’s understandable that things can start to build up easily.

Spend a few minutes to an hour one afternoon getting up-to-date with emails and organizing your inbox with several different folders. Since I have quite a few clients, I assign each client a respective folder and file away any communication, payment notifications, etc. in that folder. As a result, I have an easier time recovering specific messages when I need them.

You can also unsubscribe from email lists that no longer serve you to clear your inbox and set up an autoresponder or include a few helpful links in your email signature to eliminate more back and forth with people who contact you.

There’s nothing worse than clearing your inbox one day and having it fill right back up as people continue responding to your emails. Get to an end result by either setting up a call/meeting or settling the subject early on.

Get Your Profit-Loss Statement Up-to-date

Tracking your income throughout the year is the wisest way to keep your profit loss statement updated. If you fall behind, it’s best to catch up before the end of the year so you can focus on filing taxes in the next few months.

Even if you have everything updated, it doesn’t hurt to review it. Calculating the data for your profit loss statement and reviewing it cannot only clarify how much you made for the year but also how profitable your business is.

Profitability should always be one of your top goals because being profitable will keep your business grounded and growing. If you haven’t reconciled income and expenses for the year, it’s going to be pretty difficult to move into the new year and start tracking your new cash flow.

Organize a Productive Meeting

If you have a team, you may want to call a brief end-of-year meeting to ensure everyone is on the same page. This can be a great way to catch up, tie up any loos ends, and develop a strategy for new goals.

You’d probably want to schedule your meeting sooner rather than later since most people tend to travel around the holidays. Be sure to outline a clear agenda for your meeting to make it efficient and let attendees know what they can do/bring in advance to be prepared.

Audit Expenses

You should audit your expenses at least every quarter to make sure you’re not spending too little or too much on your business. Over time, your business needs will change so your expenses should reflect that.

You also might want to consider changing your pricing for your products or services to ensure you’re making a profit. Pricing for profit is so important because it pretty much ensures you’ll have enough to actually grow your business and spend on necessary expenses.

In the popular book, Profit First, the author actually recommends setting up a separate account specifically for your profit. You can use this account to cover various different business and personal expenses. For example, if there is an end-of-year discount for a monthly business expense you can take advantage of it if you have some profit set aside.

I use a monthly email marketing service and they offer a huge sale every year around the holidays. The only thing is that you have to pay for your subscription upfront in one lump sum. Auditing your expenses and setting aside some profit can help ensure you’re only paying for expenses that benefit your business and you’re getting the most bang for your buck

Update Software

Check to make sure any important programs you use are updated before the new year. You can even update your computer and make sure your anti-virus software is renewed if need be.

Dealing with technical issues in the new year when you’re trying to be productive is a hassle you don’t want to deal with.

If you have a website or blog, you can make sure all your plugins are updated and that you have your programmer or developer fix any issues you come across or just check to make sure everything is in good shape.

Work Ahead

Finally, you can start working ahead in your business. Start scheduling things, automating, doing outreach, and completing client work. There’s nothing wrong with taking time off during the holidays to relax and reboot. In fact, you should.

Once you get organized in your business, make sure you set aside time for self-care. You can make this goal easier to accomplish by working ahead. That way, you won’t feel overwhelmed when you get back to work.

You also might want to consider raising your rates and prices in the new year. Entrepreneurs often have to set the tone of their own raises as opposed to waiting around for someone else to give them.

By taking the steps mentioned above to get your business organized for the new year, you’ll eliminate stress, overwhelm and feel more productive when January rolls around.

What do you need to do to get your business organized for the new year?




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