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42 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from 12 Countries Join the Endeavor Network at the 55th International Selection Panel in Istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey – October 24, 2014 – At the 55th Endeavor International Selection Panel (ISP), 42 high-impact entrepreneurs leading 23 companies from 12 countries were welcomed into the Endeavor network. Endeavor now supports 990 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from 629 companies across 21 countries. […]

October 24th, 2014 — by admin

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Two Mexico Entrepreneurs Named Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurs of the Year for 2014

The  Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year Awards is an annual list of the top innovators driving global, regional and industry agendas to improve the state of the world. The 2014 list of 30 entrepreneurs includes […]

March 26th, 2014 — by admin

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Got cultural intelligence? Why it matters for your business success abroad

Reprinted from Under30CEO. Original article here.

By Lindsay McMahon

Are you getting ready to form a partnership overseas or expand your target market to work with clients abroad?

You know that you need to learn the local language so you have probably purchased a phrase book or taken some language classes. You have even brushed up on some of the different customs, traditions and food that you will encounter when you get there. All set to go, right? Not so fast!

If you believe that this is the extent of the preparation that you need to do, you are about to make a mistake- a mistake that could result in a missed opportunity for your business.

The factor that will determine your success or failure overseas is your ability to navigate cultural differences. These are norms, values and communication styles that run deeply and influence every aspect of business from marketing, to negotiating, to partnering, to public speaking. Gain some basic skills and awareness around these five common stumbling points and you will have a much better chance of success.

Time: How many times have you used the phrase, “My time is worth $___”? For Americans, Scandinavians, Japanese and other mono-chronic cultures, time is a commodity. We “waste time”, “save time” and place a value on our time. We often place a higher priority on completing tasks than building relationships. For us, time is linear. It will eventually run out.

Try using the phrase “Please respect my time” in some cultures and your business partnership might be over before it even begins. If you plan on doing business in Latin America, Mediterranean Europe or India, you will hit a wall if you don’t recognize that your clients use time in a very different way. For these “poly-chronic”  cultures, time is circular, not linear. A block of time can be used to accomplish numerous things instead of completing one task and moving to the next. A deadline is an approximation, not a promise. This is not just about punctuality. Different cultures conceptualize and make use of time in completely different ways. Do your best to observe the differences and stay flexible with your attitude toward time.

Nonverbal Communication: If a business partner failed to make direct eye contact with you, what conclusions would you make? Would you consider the person dishonest? Lacking in confidence? Scratch your assumptions when you board your flight. In many cultures, including Japan, it is often considered a sign of respect to avoid eye contact. But it doesn’t stop there! As a woman, do you think it’s polite to cross your legs in a meeting? In Tokyo, make the switch to crossing your ankles instead of your legs and you will avoid upsetting your Japanese colleagues. Since you might not be fluent in the target language, your nonverbal communication skills will become even more crucial.  Take some time to study common nonverbal cues in your target country. Doing this could help you establish rapport more quickly with your new partners or clients overseas.

Levels of Directness: Remember what we just said about nonverbal communication? This is where you’ll need those intercultural nonverbal skills as you take them to the next level. In the United States, we tend to communicate our entire message in the words that we say. We like things to be upfront and out there. “Just tell it like it is”, we demand. Do you think you will get the same style of communication from your colleagues overseas? Not if you are working in Southern Europe, Latin America, East Asia, Southeast Asia or India. In these cultures, the message is not in the words that are said. Instead, it is in the tone, the accompanying hand gestures, the posture, a turn of the head or the use of a smile. I am talking about serious nuances! Be perceptive and realize that communication will be happening, even if it’s not in the words that are used.

Negotiation Style:  When it comes to intercultural negotiations, the biggest liability for the American entrepreneur might be her impatience and constant awareness of the ticking clock. Professionals from other cultures know this about Americans, and they can and will capitalize on it. When you select someone from your team to carry out a negotiation, consider how your partners overseas will view your choice. In our egalitarian culture, we like to believe that a young professional can serve the role of head negotiator as well as any seasoned manager can if he has the knowledge and skills. In places like Indonesia, where age is a key indicator of expertise and status within the company, this strategy won’t lead to any successful deals. Also, pay special attention to your choice of attire for the negotiation. In the U.S., casual business attire brings colleagues together.  Overseas, it could work against you by insulting your partners and it could even make them unwilling to proceed.

Group vs. Individual Orientation: If you grew up in the U.S., as a child, you might have been applauded by adults for finally learning to tie your shoes “all by yourself!” The lessons we learn as kids contribute to the people we become as young entrepreneurs; what’s more, if you are starting your own company, you are probably even more of a “rugged individualist” than the average American. If you plan to form a team with cultures that function with a more group-oriented mentality, expect to be challenged. In group-oriented cultures, professionals have less autonomy to make creative decisions on their own. It might take longer to get a new idea or strategy approved since many people have to agree on it.  Group harmony and “saving face” (avoiding embarrassing someone in front of the group) is crucial in business situations in China and Japan. Do not call anyone out individually or expect people to “speak their mind” if they disagree with their manager or someone higher up in the company.

You have an exciting adventure ahead and tons of opportunities for personal and professional growth through your overseas venture. But don’t expect things to function as they do in the United States. We have only skimmed the surface of what you need to consider when you pencil overseas deals into your business plan. Prepare yourself! Hone your observation skills, read up on your target culture, stay flexible, maintain a sense of humor and you will be on the right track to successful business communication abroad.

Lindsay McMahon is the founder of English and Culture. She helps professionals reach their goals through better communication across cultures. Her company provides cultural competence training and English language tutoring for international professionals in Boston and New York.

Tips on recruiting and HR, by Susan Loh (Head of Talent at Foursquare)

Reprinted from AVC. Original article here

By Fred Wilson, a VC and principal of Union Square Ventures, and Susan Loh.

When I introduced this series on People, I stated that it was going to have a bunch of guest posts because there are many people who know a lot more about the people side of business than I do. One of them is Susan Loh who is Head of Talent at Foursquare.

I asked Susan to write a guest post explaining how they manage both recruiting and HR at Foursquare. And she has done just that.

————————————–

Foursquare’s approach to Recruiting & HR

In Fred’s previous post, he described the importance of having a tight relationship between culture and hiring. I agree 100%, which is why I’ve always struggled with HR and recruiting being separate teams. At my previous companies, Google and Yelp, there was always a swift hand-off from recruiting to HR on the new hire’s first day. It made life easy for each party, but was it the best for the employees? For this post, I’ll describe the challenges I experienced with having split teams and how I’m trying something different at foursquare.

Recruiting vs HR

As a recruiter, the most important part of the job is to close offers. This often means setting high expectations for how wonderful the new opportunity will be. Whatever it takes – always be closing. But what if we over-promised? At previous companies, it was tough to keep tabs on my new hires because I was so focused on the next set of recruits. Sometimes I didn’t know what team they landed on. Often, I didn’t know if they were happy and engaged. There was no feedback loop for me to know that what I was selling to my candidates was actually true. This is risky and has potential to cause serious turnover.

On the flip side, as an HR manager, your ultimate goal is to retain great talent. You build compensation structures, learning & development programs, performance management systems, and rewards programs to help you achieve this goal. But to succeed, you have to gather feedback from employees and know what they need. You have to be accessible and provide a safe haven for employees to come vent to you. You have to have a pulse on the entire organization.

But in reality, think about how often the average employee interacts with HR. Based on my experience, I only saw HR on my first day and on my last day. If I had a question, I emailed a ticketing system and they got back to me a couple days later. There is no feedback channel or safe haven. For so many reasons that could warrant a separate post, traditional HR departments have a tendency to be pushed to the side, disconnected from the organization, and as a result, ineffective at having a positive impact. And this is a huge bummer because every HR manager I’ve met wants to do so much more.

A new approach

When the time came to figure out how to scale HR & Recruiting at foursquare, I felt that I could solve the above issues by merging the two organizations into one unified Talent Team. I view the Talent Team as a full service organization that is with you from the day you apply to the company to the day you leave the company. We are responsible for recruiting, onboarding, training, developing, and retaining great people. Our performance is measured by the performance of the people we hire, not by the sheer number of people we hire.

In practice, this means recruiters need to be so much more than just recruiters. My team meets monthly to find ways to tweak and refine the onboarding experience for new hires. We schedule regular check-ins with each person we hired to see how they are doing and figure out how we can better support their career growth. We come up with innovative programs to develop and motivate employees. We escalate feedback we’re hearing to the executive and management teams. Above all, we provide one trusted point of contact for all candidates and employees to turn to when they need something.

The Talent Team in action

Here are just a couple of examples of where I’ve noticed the advantage of a Talent team over Recruiting/HR.

1) Fulfilling promises – When recruiters have to play the role of HR, they are held accountable for fulfilling the promises they made during the closing process. For example, many of our candidates have strong entrepreneurial spirits and talk of founding their own company. To close them, I sell them on how much they will benefit from being part of the foursquare story, helping us get from small startup to big successful company. It’s these ambitious, entrepreneurial employees that become the stars of your company, so the more you make good on this promise, the longer you’ll retain them. So how do you do it? The company has to be transparent on everything – company decisions, user growth metrics, competitive threats, etc. It’s ultimately up to senior management to lead by example but the Talent Team serves as a gut check. If we notice the culture changing, or morale dropping, or frustrations building, we have a vested interest to inform management immediately and help them troubleshoot the situation.

2) Compensation reviews – In the traditional model, recruiting determines the starting compensation package, usually working within bands provided by HR. When review time comes, HR works with management to determine performance-based raises. Some companies have standard percentage-based raises for ‘meets expectations’ and ‘exceeds expectations’ but there’s a key piece of information missing. How hard did the employee negotiate their initial offer? Some candidates accept on the spot while others push their recruiter so close to the edge that the recruiter almost gives up and walks away from the negotiation table. If HR works purely off a compensation analysis spreadsheet and assigns standard raises, the candidates that accepted on the spot will always be paid less than their tough-negotiating peers. This is unfair. Recruiters have to be part of these conversations and with the Talent Team model, they are.

3) The little details – During the traditional hand-off between recruiting and HR, you are at risk for dropping the ball on something. There are just too many moving pieces in the onboarding process – start date, offer paperwork, relocation, immigration, IT preferences, team allocation, and more. With the Talent Team model, you have fewer cooks in the kitchen. The recruiter should know everything the new hire needs so it’s more efficient and reliable for the recruiter to be responsible for the onboarding process. First impressions do matter – do everything possible to ensure your new hire’s first week goes smoothly.

Upcoming challenge

The Talent Team model is still new and we haven’t figured everything out yet. So far, what I love most about this model is we have such a strong pulse on the organization. If employees are unhappy about something, we are usually one of the first to know, and employees look to us for help.  And the best part? We can help. Information and feedback from all directions flow through the Talent Team, and we are uniquely positioned to take everything we are hearing and turn it into constructive action.

Our biggest challenge is staying small and lean, while the larger organization continues to grow at a quick pace. The only way we can keep up is if we do a good job of building the foundation. Off the top of my head, I think that means a culture based on open feedback, strong hiring values that sync with company values, and a well-trained management team that we can leverage for help. But I’m sure I’m missing pieces of the puzzle and I look forward to continuing the conversation with you. Thanks for reading!

15 things I wish I’d known before starting my first company

Reprinted from QuickSprout. Original article here.

By Neil Patel.

From a very young age I loved the idea of starting a business. It helps that I grew up in a family full of entrepreneurs, so there’s no surprise that I launched my first company while I was in high school.

Since then I’ve launched several businesses…some succeeded, but most failed. While I made and lost a lot of money, each success or failure always led me to learn something new. So, looking back over my career here are the 15 things I wish I’d known before I started my first business.

Lesson #1 – Swing for the fence

Here’s the deal…it takes as much effort to create a small company as it does to create a large one, so you might as well swing for the fences.

What does that look like? Well, the first question you have to ask is this: are you are a slugger or a base hitter? In other words, what is your tolerance for risk versus reward?

Employees are base hitters. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, can be sluggers. While CEOs can make big money, most of the millionaires in America are entrepreneurs.

So the question is, where do you want to be? If my business partner and I focused all of our energy on our first business and tried to swing for the fences instead of creating a lifestyle business, we would have made much more money than we both currently have. (more…)

Endeavor Entrepreneur Andy Freire: “The mechanics behind the expectation of some great enlightenment can be dangerous”

Taken from vimeo!Reprinted from Pulso Social. Original article here

by Emily Stewart

For Andy Freire, entrepreneurship is a fundamental fact of life. At the age of 40, Freire is a highly-successful social and business entrepreneur. After beginning his career at Procter & Gamble, he co-founded and headed Officenet. The company, which was acquired by Staples in 2004, revolutionized the office supply distribution industry in Latin America and has been used as a principal case study for business schools around the world.

In addition, Freire co-founded Axialent, where he served as Chairman and CEO until December of 2011. He founded Restorando.com and, in his youth, the Fundación Iniciativa (Initiative Foundation), an NGO focused on promoting leadership among Argentine youth. Today, he is the President of Endeavor in Argentina and a member of the Latin American Global Committee of the World Economic Forum. Freire formerly served as President of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) in Argentina. He is a well-known entrepreneurial reference around the world.

PulsoSocial’s Clarisa Herrera spoke with Freire about the obstacles faced by entrepreneurs, business models and the stigma of failure.

Clarisa Herrera: Do you agree that the main problem for an entrepreneur is sitting face-to-face with an investor?

Andy Freire: It’s always dangerous to generalize. That said, I do think that’s the case. It is a challenge that is usually confronted from a standpoint of weakness. However, it is important to remember that investment seeking is a mutually-beneficial process for entrepreneurs and investors. With this in mind, we don’t need to face investors with fear but instead with respect and the conviction necessary to sustain a strong stance. Entrepreneurs may need investors, but it also works the other way around.

CH: You are in contact with entrepreneurs every single day. What do you see as the principal shortcomings of today’s entrepreneurs, and what are their greatest strengths? 

AF: You’ve got to do your homework before approaching an investor in order to present a project in a way that leaves no room for doubts. Creating a business plan is a vital process for all startups, and for some entrepreneurs, this doesn’t seem to be all that clear. On the other hand, if I have to point to one strength, it would be that Argentine entrepreneurs have an extraordinary capacity to adapt to the country’s every-changing political and economic reality and seek out opportunities within it. The difficulties imposed by external situations – an economic crisis or a commercial lock-out – seem to have trained our entrepreneurs to come up with creative answers to enhance their ideas and strategies.

CH: What do you recommend for seeking financing? What variables should be kept in mind? 

AF: In figuring out how to get financing, it’s important to know where to look. One has to keep in mind that there are various sources of capital in existence that can make a project happen. In general, there are three main approaches: getting your suppliers to finance you through purchases with long-term payment options, finding a capitalist partner who will take a part of the business in exchange for his or her investment, or going in with a partner who works for and invests in the company.

Though banks constitute an important source of funding for entrepreneurs, they are not usually relevant in the early stages but instead once a project is already well on its way and looking to grow and expand. This happens because banks require applicants to have assets to back the loans taken out, thus reducing risk. New startups don’t generally meet these requirements. Banks see startups as a risky investment. There is nothing available to show the evolution of a project, and results are difficult to predict.

CH: How does one go about reaching investors who are more willing to take a risk? 

AF: Investors have to trust in the vision and abilities of an entrepreneur – without that trust, they won’t put in even one cent. They understand the priorities of early-stage businesses and are patient with respect to results. Nevertheless, getting an investor requires a great amount of work, preparation and planning. You have to show that you are the right person to take a project forward and be able to answer the big question: Why is this entrepreneurial team going to be successful?

CH: Are you more inclined towards copycats or market-revolutionizing ideas? 

AF: Studies show that 90% of ideas come from something an entrepreneur has been working on previously. Only 10% emerge from a so-called flash of inspiration. What do we do when we decide to undertake a project? We search for a great idea – that wonderful, unique and brilliant idea – that no one has ever had, that disrupts the market entirely. I think that the mechanics behind the expectation of some great enlightenment can be dangerous if they lead us to a dynamic of think, think, think instead of do, do, do. I think that everyone who wants a startup should set off with a deductive process of action instead of contemplation. This is a methodical process for understanding competitive advantages, motivating passions and the sectors where one can really shine in putting something on the market that doesn’t currently exist. With this perspective, it’s best to consider ideas for their potential to exploit particular contexts, not having to do with whether they are copycats or new.

CH: Does a copycat imply less risk if the original is successful?

AF: It’s best to escape dichotomies and get to the root of issues. If you ask me whether it’s better to bet on copycats or market-disrupting ideas, my answer is that it’s best to bet on ideas that have some degree of originality (this does not exclude copycats), that exploit opportunity, that are backed by teams that can demonstrate a potential for success, that can grow in the future and that are oriented towards the market. It doesn’t matter what model they’re following.

It’s not entirely true that a copycat implies less risk if it has been successful somewhere else. There are numerous cases of startups that are hugely successful in one place and fail in another. That’s why it’s important to analyze how adequate an idea is in a specific environment, whether it’s an adaptation or an original concept.

CH: How does one escape a culture that stigmatizes failure?

AF: Failure must be learned – there’s no other healthy way to live with it. It’s normal to come across cases in which entrepreneurs are frustrated and embarrassed, thus losing the confidence needed to keep trying. Among Argentine entrepreneurs, and in Argentine society in general, there is a certain stigma when it comes to failure. Dealing with it is a skill entrepreneurs must acquire, imitating other parts of the world. In the United States, for example, there is a completely different philosophy surrounding the issue. There, when entrepreneurs fail, they don’t hide it. Instead, they highlight it on their resumes because it is considered a value-adding experience. The challenge isn’t explaining what has been learned from failure – that depends on each individual case – but instead understanding that failure is part of the process for those willing to take risks and try.

This text has been adapted into English from its original Spanish publication.

 

Help get Endeavor Entrepreneurs a panel at SXSW Interactive!

Hope the roosterteeth guys are there!Endeavor has proposed a panel for next year’s SXSW Interactive festival, and we need your help to get our entrepreneurs onstage! 

The panel will showcase emerging market tech companies and discuss opportunities for cross-country collaboration. Namely, panelists will attempt to unveil how emerging market tech startups look for cofounders and high-level executives abroad, especially those with strong technical backgrounds. In so doing, panelists will highlight opportunities that exist in said markets for experienced tech professionals and discuss what channels exist for collaboration.

Do you want to see this panel at SXSW? Here’s how to make it happen:

Step 1: SIGN UP. Go to https://auth.sxsw.com/users/sign_in and click “SIGN UP” under the “SIGN IN” button. Follow the prompts on the next page. Then look for the confirmation email and use the link to get back to the site.

Step 2: VOTE. Go to http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/2706. In the upper left corner of the screen, under “CAST YOUR VOTE,” click on the thumb’s up symbol (the one on the left.)

Step 3: Bask in Endeavor’s greatness at SXSW next year!

Endeavor entrepreneur Rodrigo Jordan climbs Everest for second time

whooo, this gut sounds like fun. He also must have wrote his own wikipedia page.

Rodrigo Jordan was the first Latin American to ever scale Mount Everest. Now he has recreated his initial feat 20 years later. Endeavor has partnered with Rodrigo on his company, Vertical, which offers educational and team-building expeditions to schools and businesses. Here he is at Everest’s summit showing off his Endeavor pride.

In cooperation with Endeavor, Stanford launches first SEED program for entrepreneurs scaling business in developing economies

PRESS RELEASE reprinted from Business Wire. Original post here.

A new program on scaling fast-growth companies will gather 61 entrepreneurs from around the world at the Stanford Graduate School of Business Aug. 26-31. The course is the first educational program to be offered by the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED). The institute’s aim is to stimulate innovation through research, education, and on-the-ground action that enables entrepreneurs, managers, and leaders to stimulate growth in developing economies. SEED’s work is based on the belief that a critical route for economic growth is through the creation of new entrepreneurial ventures and by growing existing enterprises.

In cooperation with Endeavor Global, a nonprofit organization that selects, supports and mentors high-impact entrepreneurs around the world, the new Stanford – Endeavor Leadership Program is designed specifically for entrepreneurs from developing economies. Endeavor selected the 61 high-impact entrepreneurs from among its global networks. The program will include representatives from a bakery in Egypt, a retailer in Mexico, and a growing electronic restaurant-ordering business based in Turkey.

The weeklong program will draw on the world-class faculty and network at the Stanford Graduate School of Business to help Endeavor entrepreneurs build growth companies in a competitive global marketplace. In addition to faculty, Silicon Valley-based business school alumni with expertise in operations will return to Stanford to coach working groups during the program. “Increased management know-how is a critical tool that empowers entrepreneurs to scale businesses and create employment opportunities in emerging economies,” said Hau Lee, faculty director of SEED and the Thoma Professor of Operations, Information and Technology. “This course represents our first major interaction with on-the-ground entrepreneurs who will return to their respective countries to change people’s lives by creating both jobs and products that solve problems in a sustained way.”

Led by George Foster, the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, the program will allow participants to develop core competencies to grow companies, present frameworks to manage growth and tools to drive a vibrant corporate culture, develop leadership skills to operate in a competitive global economy, and address the special opportunities and challenges involved in scaling global companies. “We’re thrilled to be working with Stanford to provide our Endeavor Entrepreneurs with such a unique opportunity,” said Endeavor cofounder and CEO Linda Rottenberg. “Access to programs like this can make the difference in helping enterprises scale and reach their high-impact potential.”

While entrepreneurs contribute to program costs, the effort, including housing on the Stanford campus, is subsidized through a generous grant from SEED.

SEED Executive Director Named

Also this month, Stanford Graduate School of Business Dean Garth Saloner named Tralance Addy as SEED’s first executive director. Working with faculty director Hau Lee, Addy will assume both strategic and operational leadership of SEED as the institute pursues its mission to accelerate entrepreneurship and innovation in developing economies. He will also work closely with faculty members Jesper Sørensen, who leads the SEED education and dissemination area and is the Robert A. and Elizabeth R. Jeffe Professor of Organizational Behavior, and Jim Patell, who leads SEED’s on-the-ground area and is the Herbert Hoover Professor of Public and Private Management.

Addy brings to SEED a distinguished professional career marked by innovation and entrepreneurship in corporate and start-up environments, spanning multiple sectors. He founded and has served as chief executive of Plebys International LLC, an enterprise development company targeting underserved markets worldwide. Plebys was founded to serve as a vehicle to spur new enterprise formation and sustainable growth in developing markets. Until 2009 he also served as president and CEO of WaterHealth International Inc., the first Plebys venture, which develops and provides water purification systems and facilities; it currently provides access to affordable clean water to more than 5 million people in rural and urban communities in developing economies.

Prior to Plebys, Addy was an international vice president at Johnson & Johnson, where during a 21-year career he also held senior executive responsibilities including worldwide president of a leading global subsidiary, and vice president of R&D and a member of the global management committee for Johnson & Johnson Medical Inc.

He earned BA and BS degrees in chemistry and engineering from Swarthmore College, and MS and PhD degrees in engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. A technology innovator, Addy is credited with a number of patents and is a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. He has served on many business and civic boards, including the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College and the Advisory Board of the Center for Sustainable Enterprise at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina.

 

Why your brand is dead in the water

Intern think's drew's website needs an updateReprinted from Drew’s Marketing Minute. Original article here.

By Drew McLellan, a 25+ year marketing agency veteran who lives for creating “a ha” moments for his clients, clients’ customers, peers and audiences across the land.

Here’s how most brand evolve.  The organization’s leadership huddles up at a corporate retreat (or if it’s a start-up, around the kitchen table) and decide on a tagline and maybe a logo.

The tagline becomes the battle cry of the brand and they’re off to the races.

Or worse yet…the organization hires an agency who claims to “do branding” and after a little deliberation, the ads have the new tagline and logo and voila, the brand is launched.

Fast forward 6 months or maybe a year.  The tagline and the brand are limping along.  No one really uses them anymore.  And if they do, they think of it as the “theme of the month” and assume it will just go away over time.  And it does.

There are many reasons why a brand fails….but the biggest one in my opinion is that the employees are not properly engaged and connected to the brand.  Without a huge investment of time, energy and some money — the brand remains a superficial cloak that can easily be pulled off or shrugged off when it gets to be a challenge.

Your employees are the key to a brand’s long term success.  It’s that simple.

When we are asked to develop a brand for a client, we require the step we have dubbed “seeding the brand” which is the whole idea of introducing the brand promise to the employees and letting them take ownership of it — deciding how to deliver the promise, how to remove the barriers to keeping the promise and how to keep the brand alive inside the organization.

If a client won’t agree to implementing that stage of the process, we won’t do their brand work.  No ifs, ands or buts. Why? Because it won’t work without that step. And I don’t believe we should take their money if we can’t deliver success.

Discovering and then building a brand takes a village.  And you have to start by including your own villagers.

Seth Godin: Feet on the street

Reprinted from Seth Godin’s Blog. Original post here.

The complement to the brilliant strategy is the thankless work of lower-leverage detail.

An organization with feet on the street and alert and regular attention to detail can build more trust and develop better relationships than one than hits and runs.

• Contact every user who stops using your service and find out why.
• Create a newsletter for every journalist who covers your space, and deliver it every three weeks, even when you’re not asking for anything. Just to keep them in the loop.
• Eagerly pay attention to people who mention you online and engage with them in a way that they prefer to be engaged.
• Sponsor industry events and actually show up.
• Write a thank you note every single day, to someone who doesn’t expect one.
• Build your permission asset by 1% every day. Every day, 1% more people are eager and happy to hear from you.
• Write a blog every day, not to sell, but to teach.
• Connect people in your industry, because you enjoy it.
• Host community meetings in your store.
• Put a lemonade stand in front of your business and let the local kids donate the money to whatever charity they like.
• Hand out free samples every chance you have.
• Keep in touch with people who used to work with you and continue to help them get great gigs and new business, even years later.
• Put together an honest buyer’s guide, pointing out in which instances your competitor’s products are a better choice.
• Run classes for your customers.
• Run classes for your competitors.
• Build a recruiting pipeline that is in place more than a year before you need to hire someone.

None of this is sufficient. Your product and your strategy have to be brilliant. But a lot of it is necessary. Hearts and minds…

Endeavor highlighted on The Economist blog: the other Arab spring

A recent article, “Theintern wants to make sure the artist is credited other Arab spring, on The Economist’s Schumpeter Blog (summarized below) discusses the development of businesses and entrepreneurs in the Middle East. Jordan-based Endeavor company IrisGuard was used as example of one such company that is innovating technology for the Arab World.

 

2011’s string of protests and uprisings across the Arab world has resulted in a wave of regime changes and progressive reforms. However, behind the political revolution lies an economic one. Entrepreneurship is on the rise throughout the Arab world, and so are the impacts made by business incubators. Endeavor co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg believes that the Arab world resembles Latin America 10-15 ago. The rise of the Arab start ups has begun, following political reform, and like their Latin American counterparts they are seizing this opportunity to shape their own economic landscape.

One such company doing just that is IrisGuard, which joined Endeavor in 2009. The Economist article describes how the company has innovated for the Arab environment as follows: “IrisGuard developed a system for identifying people from their irises (which means that women do not have to remove their veils). It is now used by border guards and banks across the region and beyond.” And IrisGuard is only one of the many start ups that have taken advantage of the economic climate after the revolutions. While there are still many challenges to overcome in the Arab world, it is becoming increasingly clear that the wheels of entrepreneurship have begun to turn, and aren’t slowing down any time soon.

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