As I sat on the plane on my way back to Boston from the Restaurant Leadership Conference in Scottsdale, AZ, the things I did right and wrong washed over my [...]
As I sat on the plane on my way back to Boston from the Restaurant Leadership Conference in Scottsdale, AZ, the things I did right and wrong washed over my brain. Why did I spend too much time sitting in the second general session? Should I have spent more time in the dining area? Why didn’t I set up more meetings before I left for the conference?
Sales teams come to conferences with one goal in mind: pitch as many people as you can. The restaurant industry, like many others, is a tight-knit group that needs to see a company’s representatives face-to-face for multiple years to have confidence the company will be around and innovating for many more. The first year, you attend, shake hands, and collect business cards. The second year you get a booth, reconnect with the industry, and close a couple deals. The third year you lead a panel and close the early majority. The best way to ensure you get to speak with as many potential clients as possible is to build a cohesive strategy weeks before landing at the conference site.
1. Get an Attendee List - If you’re a sponsor of the conference or getting a booth, ask for a list of attendees. Once you get that list, Google their email addresses using the most common email structures: John@thelevelup.com, JValentine@thelevelup.com, John.Valentine@thelevelup.com, John@thelevelup.com, Valentine@thelevelup.com. One of those email structures will hit the Google jackpot about 80% of the time. Shoot these attendees an email letting them know what your booth number is. Tell them to stop by. Ask for their cell number so you can text them if you miss the prospect’s booth visit. Let everyone know you simply want to shake their hand and meet them in person. There is no better sales driver than face-to-face meetings.
During the Conference
1. Send Prospects an Email Mid-Conference – Half the conference has passed and you still haven’t connected with a bunch of your prospects? Send them a 2-line email letting them know you want to shake their hand and say hi. You’ll be surprised by the quick, positive responses you get back. Even the biggest industry stars have downtime, and some conferences are a bore. Email them right before a scheduled break.
2. Do NOT Sit Through Educational Sessions – The biggest mistake any salesperson can make at a conference is to sit through entire sessions. Let’s be honest, over 90% of them are not even tangentially related to your business. The only sessions you should completely attend are those of your competition. Competitive intel is always important to know for prospect objections. Walk into the session 10 minutes before it is scheduled to start, sit down next to a potential prospect, and have a short conversation to learn more about them and their business. When the session is about to begin, politely excuse yourself to the bathroom and head out.
3. Eat Twice During Every Meal Period – Dining areas are the #1 place to start a good conversation. Why waste a meal period with one just one conversation? Fill up your plate with half the food you would normally eat, sit down and chat up your table-mates, exchange business cards, excuse yourself, grab a clean plate, fill it up half way again, sit down at another table, and commence conversation number two. If you’re eating dinner, you can squeeze in a third conversation with desert.
4. Always Have a Pen On-Hand – You MUST write notes on every business card you receive. Suggested notes are as follows: location you met the prospect, date, interesting tidbits, names of other decision-makers in the company, where her daughter is attending college, and anything that could bring a positive memory to mind. Trust me, you’ll quickly forget who most of the people in your card stack are by the end of the conference. Don’t get caught without material for a follow-up email.
5. Bring More Business Cards Than you Think You Need – Business cards are like money in the conference industry. Without a thick stack of your own, you won’t get anything back. Oh, and have a business card that stands out. Square cards, metal cards, and cards with creative fonts tend to be memorable.
6. Hang out at Meeting Places During Downtime – If I’m not supposed to be anywhere for a while, I’ll hang out in the lobby or at the lobby bar (if the conference takes place in a hotel). These locations and other landmarks are where people gather for meetings. One person will inevitably arrive before the other, and they don’t like to appear lonely so they’ll make small talk with whomever is around. You. Take advantage.
7. Remember, Your Product Comes Second – You will get absolutely nowhere if you pitch the product before introducing yourself and sharing something interesting about yourself. Business owners are in [insert exotic/awesome location here] to kick back, learn a couple things, and connect with their industry friends. You want to become a friend rather than another sales guy at the conference. I sometimes spend 10 minutes befriending owners and let them ask what company I work for without prompting. That way, you know they’re truly interested.
1. 2-Day Rule – Don’t send emails or make calls to conference prospects until a couple days have passed. Let the amateurs bombard the prospects with emails as they hit ‘delete’ without ever opening them. A well-crafted email a few days after the conference with an eye-catching header will elicit a read. That’s all you can ask for.
In 2012, QSR, Fast Casual, and full serve restaurants had no compelling reasons to build an iPhone or Android app. The key design elements featured in most of the current [...]
In 2012, QSR, Fast Casual, and full serve restaurants had no compelling reasons to build an iPhone or Android app. The key design elements featured in most of the current food service apps on the App Store and Android Market are: (1) location listings, (2) a non-integrated loyalty program, (3) store contact information, (4) directions, and (5) basic social media links. Consumers can find these elements with relative ease online, so why download an app for that functionality? The simple answer: they won’t.
To Build or Not To Build?
Building a basic, run-of-the-mill mobile app is worse than not building one at all. Every restaurant strives to boost their image on online review sites, seeking the maximum number of stars possible. The Apple App Store is just as unforgiving. Each app receives a rating from one to five stars depending on the reviews given by the app’s users. A 1-star or 2-star average not only discourages your customers from downloading the app, it tarnishes your brand’s image. All restaurant brands need to start thinking about building an app experience they can be proud of, an experience that delights their customers.
Why is 2013 different?
2013 is ushering in a new wave of restaurant mobile applications pairing the basic information provided in first generation apps with innovative in-app ordering and mobile payment features. A simple smartphone payment mechanism that integrates directly with a straightforward loyalty program is the new gold standard in mobile apps. Customers interact with this new generation of apps every single time they enter the store. Restaurants have an exciting new opportunity to build seamless interactions between the customer, their smartphone, and their physical assets. The “second screen experience” lauded for television is coming to the cafe, cupcake shop, and late night burger joint down the block.
Mindshare is Moving Mobile
As Americans spend more and more time staring at the 3-inch screens they take out of their pocket, a new advertising medium is being created. Those little app icons on a smartphone’s home screen are like billboards on I-95; those logos are all smartphone users see. The first page of search results on Google sees 94% of the impressions. Although Apple won’t release equivalent stats for the iPhone home screen, I can imagine the results are similar. The more you use an app, the closer to the home screen is gets. Restaurant brands have a short time window to stake a claim on their customers’ home screens. These 5 innovative restaurant brands are being rewarded for building and launching their own mobile payment apps:
1. sweetgreen (60 ratings, 5 out of 5 stars)
sweetgreen, the DC-based salad concept and healthy living thought leader, has big plans for national expansion. After raising $7MM in March 2013, Founders Nicolas Jammet, Nathaniel Ru, and Jonathan Neman have plans to take their 16-location chain nationwide. sweetgreen engaged the team at LevelUp to build a mobile payment and loyalty app to serve as a foundation element connecting payment with their POS, loyalty program, and customer analytics. In the two months the app has been live, paying with the sweetgreen app has become part of their culture. Customer response has been overwhelmingly positive, as highlighted by the 5-star rating and the tweets below:
1. QR code mobile payment (funds transferred through credit/debit card)
2. Automatically accruing, custom loyalty program (Spend $100, earn $10)
3. GPS-enabled store locator
4. Animated rewards tab
5. Built-in charitable giving element
6. Status progression
7. QR code scanning feature to add promotional credit
8. Interactive menu
To get in touch with the team at LevelUp and learn about how they can build your restaurant brand a customized app, fill out this form.
2. Starbucks (72,802 ratings, 3.5 out of 5 stars)
The Seattle coffee giant launched their mobile payment apps in January 2011. Conceptualized as a mobile version of their Starbucks card, the apps currently see 3 million transactions a week and have over 10 million active users. By the end of 2013, they expect 10% of total transaction volume to run on mobile. Starbucks has more customers paying with their smartphones than any other brand in the country. Starbucks built in Apple Passbook integration in late 2012 to allow iPhone users even easier access to Starbucks in-store.
1. Bar code mobile payment (funds transferred through loading and re-loading a gift card)
2. Information on all coffee roasts
3. Store locator
4. Rewards tab (with free beverage on your birthday after one purchase)
5. Ability to gift credit to others
6. Interactive Menu
3. Dunkin Donuts (464 ratings, 3.5 out of 5 stars)
Dunkin Donuts followed Starbucks by releasing their own mobile payment application in August 2012. The app features a similar gift card funding feature to enable payment along with Apple Passbook integration and the ability to gift drinks to friends. Touted as “the app that keeps you running,” the Dunkin app has seen many early adopters start using it for their coffee everyday.
1. Bar code mobile payment (funds transferred through loading and re-loading a gift card)
2. Offer listings and redemption
3. Store locator
4. Ability to gift credit to others
5. Interactive Menu and nutritional information
4. Pinkberry (128 ratings, 2.5 out of 5 stars)
Pinkberry released their Sweet Rewards App in October 2012, allowing customers to get their frozen treats faster and receive accumulating rewards int he process. They feature a simple “purchase 10, earn 1″ loyalty construct that works well for them considering their limited menu and similar purchase prices. To encourage their customers to download the app, Pinkberry is giving away a free froyo with toppings when customers use the app to pay for the first time.
1. Bar code mobile payment (funds transferred through loading and re-loading a gift card)
2. Automatically accruing, custom loyalty program (Buy 10, get 1 free)
3. GPS-enabled store locator
4. Sliding flavor-finder
5. eGifting option to send friends gift cards
6. Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare sharing feature
5. Freshii (Not Yet Rated)
Freshii released their mobile payment app to the iTunes App Store on August 3, 2012 and have been making various iterations since. They haven’t yet done a major marketing push with the app, and the app hasn’t received any ratings. The app is full-featured, and has a wide array of special features like: veggie collected, rankings, a locator for charging stations, QR code scanning, and more. Their challenge now is to roll out a marketing program to get their customers excited and motivated to use the app.
1. QR code mobile payment (funds transferred through loading and re-loading an account)
2. Features with specials of the week and workout tips
3. Store locator
4. Rewards tab (with free beverage on your birthday after one purchase)
5. QR code scanner /charge stations listing / rankings for “veggies collected”
Last Wednesday was an amazing day in the Boston startup community. Around 150 people in the startup industry came together at Basketball City to support TUGG and work up a [...]
Last Wednesday was an amazing day in the Boston startup community. Around 150 people in the startup industry came together at Basketball City to support TUGG and work up a little sweat. Thank you to Harvey Simmons and the rest of the EverTrue crew for putting on one of the best events of the year! We were even treated to a defensive clinic put on by MA’s own Scott Brown.
As I looked around and took in the atmosphere, I came to the realization that the entire event, and to a bigger extent everyone’s livelihood, is funded by venture capital. Many of the startups are funded by VC, the service providers are paid by startups, and investors and incubators dish out the cash and debt.
The 28 startups represented at #RaiseTheRim have raised about $272MM in aggregate. Venture capital not only gives startups who need capital to scale a better chance to succeed, it also allows the brightest young minds to work on the most challenging and innovative ideas. Incredible.
HB Agency, Invest Northern Ireland, StartUp Institute, Cambridge Innovation Center, Willis, GCAi, Bridge Bank, Smashfly Technologies, and TUGG.
Healthbox and Atlas Ventures.
Jana – 9.18MM
DataXu – $45.8MM
Simple Tuition – $17.9MM
CoachUp – $2.2MM
Dailybreak – $8.51MM
Yesware – $5MM
InsightSquared – $5.5MM
Abine – $5MM
Promoboxx – $2.25MM
VSnap – $750K
PerkStreet Financial – $15MM
RunKeeper – $11.5MM
The Motorsport Lab
StarStreet – $600K
ConnectEDU – $24.7MM
Silicon Valley Bank
Rue La La – $22MM
LevelUp – $40.8MM
EverTrue – $6.5MM
Uber – $49.5MM
I was checking out the TechStars website tonight, and I was completely blown away by the statistics reported about their portfolio. As a DreamIt Ventures alum, I’ve seen some companies [...]
I was checking out the TechStars website tonight, and I was completely blown away by the statistics reported about their portfolio. As a DreamIt Ventures alum, I’ve seen some companies like TapInko and Anthillz fail to gain traction while others like SeatGeek, NoteHall, and Adapt.ly get acquired or grow like a weed.
I have a great amount of respect for what accelerators do for startup founders, and I consider TechStars in the same discussion as Y Combinator. My DreamIt startup failed, but I latched onto another in my accelerator class and have been hustling with them for the last three years.
Of 199 companies funded by TechStars, less than 10% were reported as “failed.” Considering over 75% of startups fail, it looks like TechStars has effectively bucked the trend. I can think of a few ways the above pie chart could be rationalized:
1. The majority of startups were funded in the last 3 years, and accelerator entrepreneurs are either successful or stick to their ideas even though they aren’t seeing traction.
2. TechStars started offering $100,000 convertible notes to all startups in late 2011, providing additional runway for all startups in the program
3. The TechStars accelerator measurably improves a startup’s chances for success through mentorship, funding, office space, and the rest of the accoutrements of a successful incubator.
All statistics on the TechStars website are powered by Crunchbase, the most accurate startup database out there. For all its benefits, it doesn’t necessarily do a great job reporting when startups fail. Crunchbase catches press releases, Facebook posts, tweets, and blog posts from startups that officially announce their company’s failure.
Most of the time, however, startup founders don’t announce the death of their startup…they usually close up shop quietly and move on to their next project. While Startup Funerals happen, they aren’t the norm.
This leads me to an interesting question: how can you tell when a startup officially hits the deadpool? Is it when they stop tweeting? When they stop Facebooking? When the founders mark their startup as previous experience in their LinkedIn profile? When they take their app out of the app store? When the link to the company blog is broken? A combination of elements?
An ardent Boston man myself, I did some diligence into the status of all TechStars Boston graduates from 2009 and 2010. I didn’t select 2011 or 2012 grads because they haven’t had sufficient time to gain traction or die.
AccelGolf, Baydin, HaveMyShift, and Localytics are listed by Crunchbase as still active from the 2009 class. Mogotest, SocialSci, StarStreet, Appswell, and Marginize are listed as still active from the 2010 class. I found a few things:
AccelGolf - The guys who founded the company hustled until July, 2011, when they closed up shop and went off to conquer new horizons like Pistol Lake, TaskRabbot, Centzy, and Raizlabs. Their last Facebook post was in June 2011. Their app is no longer in the app store.
HaveMyShift - The HaveMyShift team has added new positions with different companies on LinkedIn over the past year. Their last tweet was in March 2012, and their last Facebook post was in May 2012. While I had no trouble signing up for the service, a quick search of open shifts yielded two barista slots at a Starbucks.
Appswell - The link to their blog from the website doesn’t work, the link to their iOS app doesn’t work, and the Founder started another company, Crowd.ly, in March 2012.
These founders moved on to start more companies and drive the growth of others. Nevertheless, it is clear these startups hit the deadpool.
While the TechStars stats aren’t as rosy as Crunchbase indicates, their portfolio includes some heavyweights destined for greatness. My favorites are: SendGrid, OnSwipe, Promoboxx, Zagster, and CoachUp.
Hustle hard young startups! Fail fast. Fail cheap. Pivot or die.
The day before Facebook’s IPO was Thursday, May 17, 2012. It was also the day when at least five of my friends called to ask for my advice on the [...]
The day before Facebook’s IPO was Thursday, May 17, 2012. It was also the day when at least five of my friends called to ask for my advice on the buzzworthy offering the next morning. Should I buy? How many shares? I’m on Facebook all day, so why wouldn’t Facebook be a good investment? $40 seems like a cheap price, right? I knew better.
A casual trader on E-Trade since I became enamoured by CNBC while in high school, I’ve been told by some of the best traders to buy when a stock is hated most by the market and sell when a stock is celebrated. I used this methodology to short RIMM from $60 per share all the way down to $10. I was convinced of irrational exuberance in the case of Facebook. Friends who never placed a trade in their lives were dropping $5,000-$10,000 on a stock they didn’t truly understand. An investment with an $80 billion market cap and trailing 12-month revenue of $4 billion didn’t seem like a solid long-term investment. I told myself I’d dip my feet into the $fb waters if they could find compelling ways to get the average user to enter a credit card on their website and actually pay them money. Facebook knows it won’t be able to keep their nose above $40 billion on boxy desktop website ads alone.
In early August, I proposed to my girlfriend of two years. We created a life event on Facebook to share the good news with all of our friends. The post caught on like wildfire. When the dust settled, the picture of the ring garnered 180 likes and 62 comments. The life event drove 36 likes and 11 comments. Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm saw the initial popularity of the post and blasted it to the top of our friends’ new feeds, allowing its popularity and exposure to compound. I sat back in my chair, remarking how posting a life event on Facebook is the equivalent to posting an announcement in the local newspaper ten years ago. Back then, I definitely would have paid $10 for an ad in the local paper. Today I wouldn’t think of paying anything to my paper, as its viewship is waning and doesn’t include my demographic. But would I pay $10 for the ability to make a special post on Facebook that I can customize and highlight? Possibly. A popular Facebook post does plenty to get the desired effect. To pay Facebook anything, I would need something more. More placement. More posting options. The ability to target certain friends.
Promoted Personal Posts
On October 3rd, Facebook launched Promoted Personal Posts. Boom! Called it! For $7, anyone could now promote a post so that more of their friends see it. I anticipated new posting options and features with the promoted option, but when I clicked the “promote” link on one of my posts, I wasn’t able to alter or enhance it in any way. $7 would simply give me more exposure.
Anxious to see how promoting a post could increase viewership, I entered my credit card information on the website and hit the gas on the following post:
Let’s be honest, this is not one of my best posts, but I wanted to see what Facebook could do to drive views. I received 8 likes and two comments by the end of the week, one of which simply brought attention to the sponsored nature of the post. I had a few of my friends track the promoted post’s location in their news feed, and they reported that it returned to the top of their feed periodically during the entire week. Once the campaign ended, Facebook sent me an email breaking down the post’s viewership:
My $7 bumped views by 2.7x. Not too bad for less than a 10-spot, but I’m not sure when I’d personally use the promote function. I don’t care who comes across my random posts and links. I don’t care who stalks my photos and albums. I was certainly excited to share the news of my engagement to all of my Facebook friends, but EdgeRank did a solid job of that already. I suppose I might use the promoted post feature if I had a new pet-sitting business and wanted to make sure all my Facebook friends saw the post. Having a yard sale? Sending out a party invitation? Yea, I’d might promote those too if I was desperate.
Mashable ran an article asking its users if they would promote a Facebook post announcing a new job or sharing pictures of family and friends, and only 8% responded they would. 8% isn’t insignificant, but Facebook will have to do better than news feed placement amongst friends to make $7 worthwhile.
So What Now?
Facebook’s value is partially contingent upon how much money it can wring from its one billion+ users. Promoted Personal Posts is one step in that direction. Physical gift-giving is another. While I don’t think Promoted Posts is a silver bullet, the feature is another avenue for Facebook to drive revenue from users.
I enjoy the news feed because it shows me posts from friends I follow or care about. EdgeRank works. Well. Almost too well. I fear sponsored spam will start popping up on my news feed regularly, a result I tried to avoid by “liking” as few pages as possible.
I expect Facebook to post weak earnings on the 23rd, mostly due to users migrating to mobile in droves. Mobile revenue will increase steadily over time, but the key to their success will be how they use that small screen to drive dollars. Good luck young buck.
When it comes to look for prom dresses for 2012, there are a whole large amount of different options you will find. Most of the options that are on the [...]
When it comes to look for prom dresses for 2012, there are a whole large amount of different options you will find. Most of the options that are on the market will really depend on the colors and the types that are hot today. Knowing what prom dresses on sale are in will help make that search for the best prom gown a little touch easier. Whether you are looking for cocktail dresses, formal dresses 2012, or short dresses to wear to prom, there are all sorts of different ones that can be attempted on to see what fits and looks the best.2012 Prom Dresses Welcome to Prom Formal Dress!
Here you will possess the ability to occur throughout a perfect 2011 prom gown regardless of what your design may be. We have dresses and bridal gowns from many top designers that are sure to game every single taste. Search through our choice of dresses which offer the most recent types and can be used for many different occasions from dance dresses to bridal attire and see what great beauties you can find. Whether you are searching for just about any 2012 prom gown or even a beautiful gown for just about any quinceañera, we know you will occur throughout a gorgeous gown that will make you feel like a princess.
Having the perfect gown helps make the occasion even more unforgettable. We know that you will enjoy searching for the best Long Prom Dresses that fits your personality. You might even occur throughout it difficult to decide on just one of our hundreds of beautiful gowns available to you. We also offer an enormous variety of wedding party attire to help make your special day truly amazing. This is the place to occur throughout the best gown for you to wear on your big day. With such a wide selection, we know you can occur throughout the perfect gown for you, your bridesmaids and the mothers of the bride and groom. We look forward to helping you occur throughout the best dresses to make your prom day perfect.
You want your wedding day to be the happiest day of your life, and an outdoor wedding offers the perfect setting among the flowers, birds and trees. Unfortunately, Mother Nature [...]
You want your wedding day to be the happiest day of your life, and an outdoor wedding offers the perfect setting among the flowers, birds and trees. Unfortunately, Mother Nature sometimes decides to crash the party with a show of her own.
Rent an alternate location. This is what most brides try to avoid due to the additional cost, but it is the only way to ensure that you will have a place to go if the weather takes a turn for the worse. The closer the building is to your outdoor location, the better. Think creatively. A banquet room in a restaurant, a hotel meeting room or even the church on the corner, can serve as a backup location.
Provide on-site weather protection with canvas shelter tents. It’s a good idea to incorporate these into your regular plans instead of waiting until the last minute and renting one. If your outdoor location is remote, shelter tents can provide the guests with weather protection. Consider several small tents with roll-up sides connected to one another to form a long tent. Be aware, however, that tents are not sufficient protection in high winds.
Assign moving tasks to friends and family attending the wedding. If there is a chance you can still be married outside, go ahead with your decorations and plans outdoors but ask for volunteers in case you choose a last-minute move to an indoor facility. If you make the decision to move, the volunteers can quickly grab a few chairs, the flowers from the arbor, roll up the carpet, and transport the items to the indoor location.
Opt for decorations that you can grab and transport quickly. Instead of attaching single strands of flowers to an arbor, make bouquets that hang easily and stay in one piece for moving. Resist elaborate decorations that are difficult to move and reproduce indoors.
Keep the cake and food in a van if you think there is a chance the wedding will be rained out. Taking down the food and cake tables are the most time-consuming activities, so set them up only when you’re sure the weather will cooperate.
The Atantic wrote a great piece in their September 2011 issue called “Can the Middle Class Be Saved?” In March, the national unemployment rate was twelve percent for people with a [...]
The Atantic wrote a great piece in their September 2011 issue called “Can the Middle Class Be Saved?” In March, the national unemployment rate was twelve percent for people with a high school diploma, 4.5 percent for college graduates, and two percent for professional degree holders. The question shouldn’t be whether the middle class can be saved, it should be whether the lower class can be saved.
Much has been made of the housing crisis, America’s inability to properly handle the exploding deficit, and the death of the U.S. manufacturing industry as some of the main sources of job loses in the last decade. Technological innovation has not only changed the way people live their lives, but more specifically where they spend their money. Traditionally mundane and manual jobs are being slaughtered in favor of goods, services, and processes delivered and experienced in more efficient ways. These efficiencies are eliminating many sectors of low paying jobs forever. Which industries are being hit the hardest?
1. Borders (…and book stores)
In late July, Borders closed down 399 stores and announced layoffs of 10,700 employees. Borders simply didn’t have an answer to the B&N Nook, Apple iPad, or Amazon Kindle. At the time of this post, almost 20% of Americans own a tablet, e-reader, or smartphone from which they regularly consume books. Those over-worked and frazzled-but-friendly Borders staffers would help you find some good titles in a pinch, but the convenience of buying a hardcover or digital book online or off an e-reader renders the staffer useless (sadly). I won’t drive to the store anymore with the hopes a limited run book is sitting on the shelf; I’ll simply go on half.com or amazon.com and get 2-3 day shipping. Oh, and Amazon’s book recommendation algorithm is good. Real good.
2. USPS (…and postal carriers)
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds…but email will”
The unofficial United States Postal Service Creed, inscribed in the James Farley Postal Service Office in New York City, has been the mantra of one of the most respected lower-income professions in American history. As scanning, PDFing, faxing, emailing, e-signing, e-carding, and Dropbox-ing have become the new norm, letters and manual bill-paying are a thing of the past. When was the last time you cut a check to pay a bill?
While many European mailing systems have evolved to work within this new construct, the USPS has been slow to adapt. The postal service’s staff of just under 500,000 workers will be halved in the next few years. 220,000 positions will be slashed by 2015. Many postal service workers have been working in the system for decades and will need retraining in economic areas of current and future need.
3. CVS (…and convenience stores)
I remember when I was a little guy and dad always let me pick out a candy bar at CVS and hand it to the lady behind the counter. Yesterday, I spied a child snag a Rolo from the shelf, walk over to the self-serve registers, scan the candy himself, put it in the bag, put a dollar bill in the slot, rip off the receipt, and walk away with the candy bar. Instead of 5 cash registers at CVS I saw 1 cash register (for the laggards) and a bank of 4 self-serve registers. This Somerville, MA, CVS has effectively reduced its front-end employee count from 5 cashiers to one cashier and one employee managing the self-serve register bank. Let’s not even talk about the 1-hour photo guy. Towards the front of most convenience stores you’ll find two or three Kodak machines that allow customers to custom color/crop/size their photos. Oh, and the pharmacists standing in the back? Cling to those fat paychecks as long as you can as automated pill dispensers speed up the prescription delivery process. 99.7% counting accuracy. Unless your friends call you rain man, you can’t match that.
4. Gannett (…and newspapers)
…and another 700 employees at Gannett got axed last week. Ouch. Legions of forests rejoice as newspapers print fewer and fewer editions. Some publications have moved to ever-improving ‘porous paywalls‘ to stem the red ink while others desperately hire salespeople to find the last remaining black ink afficionados. 2,596+ newspaper jobs have been eliminated in 2011, a mere blip compared to the 15,000+ jobs lost in 2009. Newspaper administration included a good percentage of lower skilled workers. The industry, however, is finally getting meaner and leaner as they learn to live in the ‘adapt or die’ culture of online journalism and reporting.
The Real Question
What’s next for all these low-skilled workers? Will they adapt to a changing environment by learning new skills? Will they sit on unemployment for 99 weeks and fall off the rolls? There needs to be a concerted effort moving forward to energize the unemployed. The federal government’s OPPORTUNITY.gov initiative is a great start, but there needs to be a techtonic shift to technical education and re-employment. Technology spurred an occupational movement that will only accelerate in time. Let’s move quickly.
Ask a person to plan their next day they probably will be able to. Ask them to plan their week, sure thing, no problem they’ll tell you. Now ask them [...]
Ask a person to plan their next day they probably will be able to. Ask them to plan their week, sure thing, no problem they’ll tell you. Now ask them to plan their month, shaky but doable. Now ask them to plan any further than 6 months and watch the confusion run across their face. While planning for the future is important and people are able to make general plans more than 6 months in advance, most of those plans are not actionable. It’s good to think long term but we need to turn our thoughts into concrete, measurable results. Therefore, I like to think in 3 month windows, or 100 days. Long enough to give you the runway to build enough momentum and short enough where you can know what needs to happen.
Between today and September 1st is only one hundred days or 2400 hours. Not really a lot of time to get what you want, but probably the furthest out you can predict with any certainty what you will be doing. In the next 100 days I challenge you to achieve two major milestones in your business or personal development. Now this is not for everyone as it will take a strong concerted effort and strength of will to accomplish but together I am sure we can do it.
How are we going to accomplish our respective milestones? We are going to plan and be ruthless in our execution of our dreams. Start with the goals you would like to achieve and place them in a prominent place in your home or work area. I have a large white board in front of my desk that serves as a constant reminder no matter if I am slacking off or working diligently. Now look at your schedule and block off 2 hour blocks of time where nothing else will happen. No phone calls, no distractions, no email. Just work on that task. Again, you are only allowed to work on that task during those two hours. Afterwards reward yourself with a break; food, exercise or whatever else you can think of. An hour or more later, have another working session for two hours and either continue working on your previous goal or another one. I have found that the most effective breaks are those that get you moving, go for a run, walk around, go outside. Avoid the time suck of facebook, mashable, reddit, techcrunch and the internet generally. These sites only make you more tired.
What are your plans? One of mine is learning how to program in Ruby. Share in the comments below or on twitter @artemefremkin.
Image courtesy of Flickr and Leonrw http://www.flickr.com/photos/leonrw/3391454667/sizes/l/in/photostream/
J. Gregory Dees, Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at Duke University, offers a strong definition of a social entrepreneur: Social entrepreneurs are reformers and revolutionaries, as described by Schumpeter, but with [...]
J. Gregory Dees, Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at Duke University, offers a strong definition of a social entrepreneur:
- Social entrepreneurs are reformers and revolutionaries, as described by Schumpeter, but with a social mission. They make fundamental changes in the way things are done in the social sector. Their visions are bold. They attack theunderlying causes of problems, rather than simply treating symptoms. They often reduce needs rather than just meeting them. They seek to create systemic changes and sustainable improvements. Though they may act locally, their actions have the potential to stimulate global improvements in their chosen arenas, whether that is education, health care, economic development, theenvironment, the arts, or any other social field.
Cary Borish fits this definition perfectly. I had never seen or heard about the man in my life until I took the trolley to witness the Grand Opening of Marathon Farm, his latest project. Urban farming is a foreign concept to me and most of my readership, but the general concept is to create an abundance of food for people in need by planting and supporting the establishment of garden on unused land. The marco mission of these urban farms is to inspire the citizens to live a sustainable lifestyle and pass on these notions to the community at large.
To get to the corner of 27th and Master Street I passed blocks after blocks of rubble, broken glass, and abandoned homes and businesses. Time had not been kind to this part of town, and as I approached the farm the tired landscape was replaced by oversized planters, open space, and Mayor Nutter standing at a tree stump podium addressing a diverse crowd of supporters and bystanders. I immediately felt the warmth of this oasis in the middle of a tough area, and I got the feeling that this project would be a cornerstone for this neighborhood’s revival, not just its survival.
In a March 1999 article in the Philadelphia Business Journal, Cary was quoted as saying the Spain family, part owners of Marathon, “sowed a seed and nurtured it.” Marathon Grill has been a runaway success, and Marathon Farm is looking strong as Cary’s sophomore project. Patrick Dunn, the farm’s director, couldn’t contain his excitement at the podium and thanked Mr. Borish for all his efforts in making Marathon Farm a reality.
Cary MCed the event, and when he wasn’t speaking he sat in a chair and was surrounded by his children. One of the speakers joked that he’d like to snag some space of his own in the garden. Cary immediately pointed over to a vacant lot across the street and said, “every inch of this place is already reserved, but when we take over that lot across the street you can have as much space as you want.” He’s got plans.