How This Former MIT Professor And Google Engineer Used Holograms To Build A $28 Million Startup

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A red laser pointer shining through a raw chicken carcass may not seem like groundbreaking science, but for veteran technologist Mary Lou Jepsen, it’s worth $28 million in funding for her latest startup, Openwater.

Jepsen performed the chicken act as part of her August TED Talk to illustrate how her imaging-tech company is building cost-conscious body-scanning technology by using the same components one might find at a science fair. The laser pointer’s light made both skin and bone of the plucked fowl glow, revealing a tumor just under its flesh. This simple demonstration shows the science behind what Openwater is trying to achieve; wearable diagnostics made from consumer electronic parts that offer higher resolution than multimillion-dollar MRI machines but cost as much as a smartphone.

Just as the chicken’s tumor blocked the laser pointer light, which shone through the rest of the chicken’s flesh, Openwater’s wearables will capture images by recording light particles and the negative spaces where they fail to scatter. X-rays use radiation and MRI machines use a magnetic field and radio waves because they can go through the human body and produce an image. But so does “red light, infrared light,” Jepsen tells Forbes. “Guess which one is cheaper by a lot?”

It’s a method similar to how holograms are made, and it uses readily available camera and display chips you can find in a smartphone. It’s also an idea that took Jepsen’s skill set to consider, and perhaps her impressive CV to convince investors to buy in. The serial founder led the display divisions at Intel and the semi-secret research group Google X and helped develop Oculus after Facebook purchased the virtual reality headset company in 2014. But Openwater began with Princess Leia’s projected message to Obi Wan Kenobi, when Jepsen aimed her life at building holograms like the one she first saw in Star Wars.

Hooked by the lasers and optical illusions involved, Jepsen made her first hologram as an engineering undergrad at Brown. Later, she’d use her growing skill set to develop computer display screens and VR glasses at the top tech companies in the world.

At that time, however, holograms did not pay the bills. Because holography was viewed as a frivolous “technology looking for an application,” no one would fund it, Jepsen says. “I just had to figure out a way to support my habit. I basically lived all through my 20s on $12,000 a year just because I thought I’d die if I couldn’t make holograms,” Jepsen said.

Her pursuit of holograms bought her to Melbourne, Australia, where she worked as a professor of computer science at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and helped put holograms on the country’s paper money. In Cologne, Germany, she built some of the world’s largest holographic displays, including one of historic buildings projected on an entire city block. Still, she didn’t feel her work was taken seriously, so Jepsen figured she’d need a Ph.D.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

How the women in charge of programming at CNN are changing the news we see

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CNN Digital has more women in leadership and on staff than ever, and their perspective is changing video storytelling.

“The best ideas come from people who don’t think like everybody else,” says Wendy Brundige, vice president of global video for CNN Digital. “So, it’s been really important to me to build a team of people who represent different kinds of backgrounds, who’ve had different kinds of experiences.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by four other women in leadership at the network when they talked to Fast Company in the run-up to covering the midterm elections, which had an unprecedented number of female candidates at the federal, state, and local levels.

Election coverage itself is just a flash in the news pan for these women who are collectively responsible for the creation and promotion of a massive amount of video reporting. CNN is just behind YouTube, Facebook, Netflix, and ESPN, yet still reaches over 2.2 billion people across the globe every month. The network asserts that they experience over 500 million starts a day, which they claim is more than any other news brand. Doing this work is a global staff of 660. Although they weren’t able to disclose actual specifics of the breakdown, CNN Digital currently has more women than men on staff.

This is significant. The news business has long suffered from a lack of female representation. Women make up just 32% of U.S. newsrooms (and women of color represent just 7.95% of U.S. print newsroom staff, 6.2% of local radio staff, and 12.6% of local TV news staff), while men get 62% of bylines and other credits in print, online, TV, and wire news, according to the most recent Status of Women in the U.S. Media study. The media industry has also faced criticism for a lack of racial diversity. Data from a 2016 survey by the American Society of News Editors found that underrepresented minorities represent less than 16.94% of newsroom personnel at traditional print and online news publications overall. CNN declined to disclose the racial and ethnic breakdown of its news staff.

In an industry that reaches people of all genders, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and is supposed to prize objectivity, lack of diversity is a potentially huge stumbling block.

Cullen Daly, executive producer for CNN Digital Productions, says there are a lot of different factors that determine what gets covered. Some of it is based on the calendar, other times it’s news that’s bubbling at the moment, but deserves a more comprehensive look. “I’d say a lot of it has to do with innovation,” Daly says, “stories that we think could be told in new and different ways.” Chris James, who did the story on the trade war, told it through a different lens, she says. “He told it through what’s going to happen to people in the middle of the country.”

From left: Cullen Daly, S. Mitra Kalita, Courtney Coupe, Ashley Codianni, Wendy Brundige

Brundige takes a somewhat controversial stance when she says she believes that for too long, people have thought about diversity as mostly about race. While experts like Scott Page, the author of The Diversity Bonus, argues in favor of cognitive diversity (which occurs naturally among people of different backgrounds, regardless of race, gender, or other factors), it wasn’t that long ago that Apple’s former vice president of diversity and inclusion Denise Young Smith came under fire for stating that a room of “12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men” could be diverse.

“We have a lot of racial diversity in particular in my team in New York,” Brundige asserts, “but it’s most important to me to have geographic diversity and not just have a bunch of people who grew up in the Northeast and went to Ivy League schools.” Still, she’s quick to add that there’s room for improvement.

Taking another tack, S. Mitra Kalita, the senior vice president for news, opinion, and programming for CNN Digital, observes that sometimes differences can illuminate common ground, too. She grew up in northeast India. “It’s a very rural region, but Wendy’s family and my family both had cows,” Kalita says. “We look nothing alike, and you would never put the girl from Kentucky next to the girl from Assam, and yet our families are actually very surprisingly similar.”

The mission of CNN Digital, according to Kalita, is to find some common factor with your audience. “So, I don’t think your background can be divorced from that process of storytelling,” she says. As the mother of two, Kalita recalls how she felt when Brundige brought a story idea about a woman in Chicago who was on a quest to find out how her son died because he was left with marks all over his body. It was called “Beneath the Skin,” says Kalita, and remembers Brundige talking about the period between the death and the funeral and what that’s like for a mother. “That just haunted me for days,” she confesses. “I would argue that she probably had a similar reaction,” says Kalita, noting that the creators of the piece were also women. “So on projects like that, it’s wonderful to be able to bring yourself to the work, and have it enhance the work,” she says.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

The first female product manager at Google built a nonprofit to combat the sexism in tech

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Women make up only 26% of the tech workforce, and in product management that number drops to 5%. So Nancy Wang cofounded a nonprofit to help women change the ratio.

Nancy Wang remembers sitting down in a vendor meeting. “There were 12 middle-aged men of a very similar demographic and me.” Ten minutes after the meeting was supposed to start, she spoke up to ask what the holdup was. “It is because your boss isn’t here,” she recalls one of the men saying.

The thing is, as the first, youngest, and only female product manager at Google Fiber between 2014 and 2016, she was the boss. “I am the person making the decisions,” she said as she reminded him that a multi-million-dollar deal was in the balance. The vendor in question was taken aback by this information.

For Wang, however, this treatment was all too familiar. Over the course of nearly a decade of work experience in infrastructure product management and engineering, Wang has witnessed firsthand how few women there are in tech. In her current role as lead product manager for the startup Rubrik, she was also the first female to be hired into that role.

THE LACK OF WOMEN TECH MENTORS

According to the National Center for Women in Technology, women make up only 26% of the tech workforce, and Wang adds that in product management that number drops to 5%. She recalls one female tech leader pointing out that while that number may be growing (albeit slowly), adding three women to a marketing team at a tech company isn’t the same as increasing the number of women in actual technical roles. “We need to find ways to address that,” she asserts.

And she’s seen that companies aren’t stepping up. In fact, thousands of staff at her former employer staged a walkout on November 1 to protest Google’s policies on sexual harassment following reports that male executives accused of sexual misconduct were given multi-million-dollar exit packages for years.

“On one hand Google does well with support groups,” Wang points out, but at the same time, there’s a distinct lack of female role models. Wang says that holding up Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg as examples of female leadership is great, “but not very accessible to mid-level project managers.”

Wang says accessibility is crucial to mentorship as well as to see evidence of representation in roles you can aspire to reach. “I was fortunate that the director of product and the director of engineering were both very supportive,” she recalls, and they promoted her in her first year. But the fact that she had to rely on male mentors who couldn’t understand a woman’s challenges in the space wasn’t helpful. And her only female mentor was on the business side–not in a tech role. So when Wang had a question about how to best motivate engineers, her female mentor wasn’t equipped to answer. “It’s hard to empathize with someone not in the same career role,” she explains.

FILLING IN THE GAPS

Wang’s had to figure out strategies on her own. Right now at Rubrik, there is less female representation than there was even at Google. As a result of collaborating with so many men who aren’t accustomed to working with women, she’s had to be extremely thorough in preparation for presenting ideas so they don’t get dismissed out of hand. Not only does she come armed with data points, says Wang, but she records testimonials from customers asking for a specific feature. “This is all the supporting facts I present before I even advance my idea,” she says.

Admitting that even with a rock-solid format like that, not all of her ideas have come to fruition, but she does say that through putting some of these tactical strategies in her own proposals at Rubrik, she’s been able to lead a significant portion of the company’s P&L and annual revenue for product lines for this year as well as those coming out in 2019.

Sharing her hard-won knowledge with others was the incentive to start Advancing Women in Product (AWIP), a tech networking and mentoring organization. Wang says that the events the AWIP sponsors are designed to provide the kind of mentorship to women that is lacking in the sector.

For example, there was a workshop on how to get executive buy-in when presenting to a manager or at a board meeting. The goal was not only how to present ideas but how to put them forth in a way that they are advanced and championed. This also tackled how best to respond to pushback as a woman, “because society paints this picture that we are softer and more malleable oftentimes that we can be taken advantage of,” says Wang.

AWIP provides tactical training and advice when encountering those who might discount their ideas out of hand. Another panel dealt with expanding your sphere of influence when vying for promotions at different levels.The need was evident in the fact that membership is now in excess of 3,000 with its largest contingent in the Bay Area, but also across the U.S., North America, Europe, and Asia. And part of their mission statement is equality, so AWIP has a number of male ambassadors and was recently actively recruiting for its Seattle team.

As she told Built in Seattle, “We try to keep an even ratio of 50% women and 50% men because men, in my opinion, are an essential part of the conversation. We’re talking about diversity in boardrooms, and 100% women isn’t the right answer either.”

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

Apple will soon offer coding camps for women-founded startups

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So far in 2018 only 2.2% of venture capital funding has gone to startups founded by women. There are multiple reasons for that (none of them good), but Apple is trying to address the problem by providing some valuable design and coding help.

The company will offer a two-week technology lab at its campus in Cupertino in which participants will receive one-on-one app development guidance from Apple experts and engineers. That includes “mentorship, inspiration, and insights from top Apple leaders,” the company says.

Participating startups can send up to three people to the sessions. At least one must be a woman developer, and one must be a female founder, cofounder, or CEO. A third person can be any gender, Apple says. The tech giant says it’ll keep doing the coding labs–once every three months starting with the first one in January. Each event will accept 20 startups.

The relationship doesn’t end after the two weeks. The startups get ongoing follow-up from an Apple developer who knows the industry niche that the startup is involved in. The startup also gets a membership to the Apple Developer Program, which allows them to submit their apps to the App Store. And the startup’s founder, cofounder, or CEO, along with one female developer, get to attend Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

The tech industry is still largely a male industry, and the numbers show it. Just 23% of all tech jobs at Apple were occupied by women in 2017; that’s only a slight improvement over the 20% reported in the company’s diversity breakdown in 2014. A quarter of skilled tech jobs at Google are filled by women, up from 21% in 2014.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

6 women who turned their side hustle into a full-time gig

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Quitting your job and turning your side hustle into a full-time role can be scary. These six women who did just that share what they learned along the way.

Some millennial professionals refuse to conform to a black-and-white definition of success and instead embrace the gray, confident in their ability to create a new palette. Many arrive at a certain kind of entrepreneurship–whether freelancing on the side or an Etsy shop that takes off–and many manage to  turn it into full-time employment.

Considering women are leading the charge of small business owners, it’s no surprise that so many women are turning away from traditional roles to develop their own companies. I should know, considering I’m one of them.

After being gainfully employed and taking on writing assignments for extra income, my 1099 hustle outgrew my corporate paycheck. This prompted me to branch out on my own, and I eventually hired a part-time assistant to help with research and invoicing. Like these women below, I learned a thing or two during the transition from “employee” to “boss.” If you have a goal of becoming your own boss, here’s how  to make it a reality.

FIND YOUR TRIBE

As a full-time graduate student at the University of Oregon, Jessica Hilbert was working double time to earn two degrees: one in law and another in business. Though she was already over-scheduled, she came up with the idea for Red Duck Foods, mainly because she was frustrated with condiment offerings that lacked healthy ingredients with robust flavors. Along with other students for a class project, she tackled her idea. After presenting french fries with ketchup that was wildly received, it was evident Hilbert was on to something. Then everything started moving: traveling to business plan competitions, raising $25,000 via Kickstarter. “All of those early proof points contributed to why the side hustle didn’t just evaporate. It wasn’t necessarily that I picked up the side hustle, it was almost like the side hustle picked me up, as it was a class project that just snowballed,” she explains.

She continued to grow Red Duck from January 2013 to September 2014, all while finishing business school. And once she graduated, she started studying to take the Oregon bar exam, when in mid-July, fate stepped in. Right before she was due to take the exam, she received a large purchase order that needed to be filled. “Because of the timelines, it meant that we would need to hand-label hundreds of jars of product. I spent hours, two days before the bar exam, hand labeling jars of ketchup,” she says. During this time, she knew, regardless of the outcome of her test, her whole heart was in Red Duck.

For Hilbert, her tribe was the reason for her success. “Seek out and find a group of people who you can associate with, and that you want to share the good and the bad times with. They don’t have to be within your organization, or even in the same industry. They just have to be people who you want to share a laugh or a ranting session with,” she says.

HAVE A VISION

For many years, Diana Wright co-owned a fashion production company in New York that created presentations for top designers, from Cynthia Rowley and Pamella Roland to Bill Blass, Halston, and more. Since she was in the fashion industry, she was used to jumping in to complete hair and makeup in a bind to ensure the show continued to go smoothly. During New York Fashion Week, she created a sliding ponytail holder to pull up a model’s hair backstage by cutting an elastic band in half and stringing it through a toggle. At the time, she says it was a crude quick fix, but it worked so well that models asked to keep them. It wasn’t until a client asked if she could create jeweled versions for the runway that she realized the true opportunity.

It took a year from ideation until her product, Pulleez, to hit the runway. Soon after, Henri Bendel approached Wright to carry them at their Fifth Avenue flagship, and a year later, Pulleez appeared on QVC. Thanks to a key partnership with pros in manufacturing and design engineering, she was able to meet these orders and grow a sustainable business. What prompted her to go for it was recognizing the need and staying true to her vision. For any entrepreneur in the product space, she says this is crucial. “My business knowledge has evolved exponentially since I started Pulleez, but the brand message has never changed: We want to offer every woman and girl with long hair an easy-to-use, functional hair accessory that can make a simple ponytail look glamorous enough for her to meet her friends or walk down the runway,” she says.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

How This Interior Designer Turned Paint Into Profit

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Suburban Detroit may not be the epicenter of interior design, but that’s exactly where Nicole Gibbons, the CEO and founder of Clare, a direct-to-consumer paint line, got her start.

When she was growing up, Gibbons’ mother was a decorator and although Gibbons’ first job out of college was Director of Public Relations for a mass market retailer, she launched a design blog as her creative outlet. “It was truly just a place for me to talk about all the things I loved,” said Gibbons.

For a decade, her nights and weekends were spent pursuing her side hustle: designing for clients. But in 2008 the recession hit, and it wasn’t a good time to leave her day job to take a risk on starting her own full-time business. By 2013, the economy was looking up, though, and inspired by the Martha Stewart model of bringing design to the masses, Gibbons decided to take the leap.

Her first step was to build up her interior design clientele in and around New York City. Simultaneously, Gibbons started positioning herself as a design influencer. She appeared on Rachael Ray, HGTV, and spent three seasons on Home Made Simple on the Oprah Network. “All the while I was thinking about what kind of business I could build,” she added.

By then the first wave of direct-to-consumer brands had launched, with companies like Warby Parker in 2010 and Casper in 2014. “That’s when I had a light bulb moment around paint,” she said. “It’s something that’s really painful to shop for.” So painful in fact that it took one of Gibbons’ friends two months to pick a paint color that she ended up hating in the end.

Gibbons started out by networking in the paint industry to learn as much as she could about the marketing and manufacturing of paint. In the process she learned that the paint industry hasn’t changed the way it operates or sells its products in over a century. One woman she spoke with, who worked in the paint research and development space, even admitted that she hated shopping for paint. “That was a huge vote of confidence that I was onto something,” Gibbons explained. “People kept telling me that they wished someone would figure this out.”

And that’s exactly what Gibbons set out to do when she launched Clare.

Her first goal was to create a shopping experience for paint that was a lot more inspiring than the aisles of your local hardware or big box store, where a single paint brand has more than 3,000 colors to choose from.

The typical journey for someone who wants to paint their house is this: Narrow down from thousands of colors to a handful you want to try on your wall. Buy an eight-ounce jar of paint. Go home. Paint your wall. Wait for paint to dry. All the colors look almost exactly the same. Go back to the store and test more colors until you find the right one. Wait in line to get the paint mixed. If you have a job, which many of us do, you’re probably at the store on the weekend when it’s the busiest. Next you head over to the tool aisle, which is just as confusing as the paint aisle.

Instead, Clare has only 55 of the best colors in the best finishes, Gibbons explained. No more going back and forth to the store each time you want to try a new color. The company offers peel and stick color built with a high-tech color matching system that takes into account how much natural light your space gets, your existing furniture, and the colors you already have in the room. It also eliminates the need for testing multiple paint swatches on your wall.“We’ve created a suite of high quality tools so that even an unskilled painter can achieve high quality results. We bundle together everything from paint to tools. And we also have tons of online content that offer tips and inspiration,” said Gibbons.

In 2017 Gibbons built out the business, focusing on supply chain logistics and market research. “My goal was to get the business to the place where I could raise capital,” she said.

Her first step was to talk to people who had raised capital before. “I didn’t have a physical product or any traction so I had a bigger challenge than most,” Gibbons said. “When you’re raising pre-product you have to sell a vision. You can’t just have a compelling story. You have to give investors the confidence that you can execute on your vision.”

When Gibbons first pitched Clare to investors, she already knew who her suppliers would be and she had all the relationships in place in order to execute. “I spent all year working on it. I ate, breathed and slept paint. When the time came to talk to investors, I had a really clear path forward and a clear plan.”

Gibbons took her first investor meetings in September 2017 and by the end of October she had an oversubscribed round, raising $2 million, exceeding her initial target of $1.6 million.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Which Coding Language Should You Learn?

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It’s a great time to learn how to code. Whether you’re looking to reinvent your career and become a developer, leverage a new skill in your current job, or just better understand what the developers on your team are up to, there has never been a better time to get into programming.

There’s been an explosion of coding boot camps and online resources to help you get started. But it’s a double-edged sword: with near-unlimited resources, countless different languages—and a rabbit hole of passionate voices debating which are the easiest to learn, best to help you get a job, and so on—where do you start?

The best way to learn to code is to stop endlessly analyzing what to learn and just start. So, with a giant disclaimer that these aren’t all of the languages you could consider learning to start your coding journey, here are a few languages you can learn.

JavaScript

Great for: beginners, aspiring software engineers

Think of the difference between dynamic, automatically updating Gmail account and your old static Hotmail, which needed to be reloaded to see new messages. That fundamental change was thanks to JavaScript. And, as one of the most popular languages out there, it’s still bringing websites to life in new, exciting ways. It has a ton of resources and tools available to help you use it effectively, and it opens you up to a ton of software engineering jobs. It can basically do everything, and if you’re going to be a full stack developer, you simply can’t avoid it.

Ruby

Great for: beginners, aspiring software engineers

Ruby was specifically designed by its inventor Yukihiro Matsumoto to make programmers happy, and it’s delivered upon that objective: Ruby is accessible and reads like English, allowing new programmers to focus right away on the fundamental concepts and logic, rather than basic syntax. Even beginners can start building right away. The teachers at the Flatiron School find Ruby to be extremely effective at helping students learn how to think like programmers, break problems down, express themselves technically, abstract ideas, and work together with other programmers. (The Flatiron Co-founder Avi is a little obsessed with it, too.)

Python

Great for: budding data scientists

There’s a massive amount of data out there. Companies that harness it can create better products and understand their businesses better; companies that don’t lose their competitive edge and get left behind. But while at its core, data science may be similar to your high school stats class, with so much data (hundreds of millions of records), your old spreadsheet is the wrong tool for the job. That’s where code comes in. The R language is super specific to statistics, whereas Python is a general-purpose language that happens to have great tooling available to make it a perfect language for data science. It’s actually similar to Ruby in a lot of ways: easy to read, forgiving for beginners, and there’s a passionate community around it, devoted to creating and improving the tooling to make Python even more powerful.

Swift

Great for: mobile developers, developers breaking out of their comfort zone

For beginners hoping to get into mobile app development, now is the perfect time to dive into Swift. It’s new enough that there is a lot of energy and excitement around it. Each year, Apple holds their Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) where Apple engineers discuss the intricacies of Swift along with all the new and exciting features (don’t be surprised if it inspires you to try implementing all the new concepts into your own apps). But it’s also been around long enough that the early kinks have been worked out, and the open source community has grown significantly. If you’re already a programmer, learning Swift is a way to get out of your comfort zone—the constraints iOS puts on your code forces you to, as Apple would say, “think different.”

Still not sure where to start? That’s OK! There’s really no correct first language to learn. The important thing is to consider what you’re excited to build, what language will help you do that, and then to just start learning!

In the end, this is why schools like Flatiron School doesn’t focus on teaching one specific technology. It wants you to learn how to learn—the only coding skill that will be never become obsolete. You don’t see Fortran or ColdFusion developers anymore. Similarly, you probably won’t be a Ruby or JavaScript developer in 10 years. Eventually, you will need to know more than one language if you want to have an awesome career and build amazing things. If you become skilled at learning languages, you’ll be ready to keep pace with technology as it changes.

Source: This piece was originally published by WeWork, which provides companies with the space, technology, and services they need to success.

How Executives Can Stay Calm Under Pressure

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As an executive, you might find it difficult to stay calm during stressful times. “One of the toughest things a CEO or executive can do today is stay focused and steady when the business is under stress,” says Stephen Miles of TMG, which advises Fortune 500 C-suites on leadership. “Something like a stock price dip can send the company into overreaction mode—trying to fix things that aren’t even broken.”

Uncertainty can cause even the strongest executives to react in negative ways. “2018 has brought enormous uncertainty around everything from trade policy to interest rates to energy prices,” says TMG’s Courtney Hamilton. “This causes wild fluctuations not only in markets, but in companies themselves, as they try to jump ahead of changes and second-guess strategy, usually with bad results.” Leading in a “wartime” full of uncertainty is very different from leading during a time of growth, says Hamilton. “As one CEO that we worked with said, ‘My very best peace-time advisor was my worst team member in a crisis.'”

During these times of stress and uncertainty, three common toxic behaviors among executives can derail a company. These emotional impulses not only are ineffective but also magnify problems and affect all members of the management team.

1 Focusing on “process” vs. opportunism. One of the most common stress responses is to get bogged down in the small details, slowing things down so that they move at a bureaucratic pace. “Getting bogged down in these less mission-critical process items just deflates the team and misses the opportunity to think creatively about solutions,” says TMG’s Matt Bedwell. “The executive may think that stomping on or calling out someone on, say, breaking the travel policy is being helpful and additive to the quest for a good outcome—when it’s just demoralizing to everyone.”
2 Being egocentric and deflecting blame. Executives displaying this behavior during stressful times maneuver to ensure that one of their peers gets all of the scrutiny—effectively taking the heat off from themselves. They can become highly emotional and personalize every discussion, making the team totally ineffective in its pursuit of developing plans that will lead it out of the mess. “For CEOs, you must re-assess all members of your team to understand their capabilities in this new reality,” says Bedwell. “Unfortunately, you need to be ready for some of your highest performers to disappoint you.”
3 Going into panic mode and wanting to change everything. When a high-performing business starts to underperform, the natural reaction is to panic and begin to examine and change everything. “People generally have good intent and want to be part of the solution, but in their quest to solve problems, they often start to change things that are perfectly good and do not need to be changed,” says Bedwell. “You cannot panic or get caught up in the flurry to ‘activate’ and start doing something.”

To combat these derailers, CEOs need to take on these leadership behaviors.

“Go slow to go fast.” The “go slow” component means to step back and diagnose before activating on those things that require intervention – and not everything requires intervention. Ruthless focus and prioritization is equally important in a stress event; you cannot be overcome by your organization’s quest to “do things.”

Be the absorber. Underperformance requires the CEO as a leader to be calm, cool, and collected, and “absorb” the stress and panic on the team. The CEO must then be the focuser, redirecting the energy to help everyone focus on the problem, the facts, the supporting data, and the proposed solutions. The moment a CEO panics, there is a 100X amplification into the company, and then people start to worry about the implications for them and are not focused on leading through the issues.

Remain fact-based and data-driven. CEOs must ensure that someone is collecting the data and validating or refuting “gut instinct” and anecdotal information. CEOs should be careful not to be overly influenced by the best communicator or presenter on the team – or by the person he or she last spoke with. Being fact-based and data-driven will require CEOs to be consistently Socratic and seeking to understand with context.

“Moving from good times into much more difficult times challenges every executive, making it critically important for CEOs to adopt a different leadership style,” says Miles. “And as difficult becomes the norm, there will be greater need to adjust to how your talent is behaving in real time, and prioritize what’s needed to dig in rather than overreact.”

Source: The Miles Group

Tesla Taps Robyn Denholm To Replace Elon Musk As Board Chair

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Tesla said company director Robyn Denholm will replace Elon Musk as its board chair, fulfilling a key requirement of a Securities and Exchange Commission settlement that arose from the billionaire entrepreneur’s ill-advised tweets about taking the company private.

The selection of Denholm, who joined Tesla’s board in 2014, indicates a preference for an independent executive who’s also an insider highly familiar with the company’s expanding auto and energy businesses. In accepting the job, she’ll leave her position as CFO and head of strategy for Australia’s Telstra Corp. to focus full time on Tesla, the electric-car company said in a statement.

“I believe in this company, I believe in its mission and I look forward to helping Elon and the Tesla team achieve sustainable profitability and drive long-term shareholder value,” Denholm said in a blog post.

The move comes ahead of a deadline—apparently next week—for Musk to relinquish the chairman role he’s held since 2004. While he’s allowed to retain a board seat, the Palo Alto, California, company must also add two new independent board members by about year-end to reduce what appears to have been a high degree of compliance with the charismatic executive’s wishes.

The SEC filed suit against Musk in September claimed that his August 7 comments on Twitter of having “funding secured” to take Tesla private at $420 a share constituted securities fraud, since that statement was untrue and he knew it, or should have.

Musk agreed on September 30 to settlement terms, which also require him and Tesla to each pay a $20 million fine. It was the only option for him to avoid being forced out entirely if he’d fought the SEC suit in court and lost.

“Robyn has extensive experience in both the tech and auto industries, and she has made significant contributions as a Tesla Board member over the past four years in helping us become a profitable company,” Musk said in the statement. “I look forward to working even more closely with Robyn as we continue accelerating the advent of sustainable energy.”

Prior to joining Telstra, Denholm had been executive vice president and CFO of networking equipment maker Juniper Networks. She’s also worked for Sun Microsystems, Toyota’s Australian unit and at Arthur Andersen & Co.

Musk will serve as a resource for Denholm during her transition out of Telstra. She’ll also temporarily give up her role as Tesla’s Audit Committee chair until she relocates full time to Silicon Valley. She will continue to act as a resource for Telstra and receive an annual retainer of $300,000 per year from the telecommunications company and stock allotments, according to Tesla.

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Entrepreneur Thrives on Elevating Businesses

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Yalika Yap

Successful entrepreneurs usually have their hands full running one business, but Kalika Yap isn’t like other business owners. The self-described “serial entrepreneur” owns four profitable, distinct businesses with plans to launch a fifth in the near future.

“Being an entrepreneur, you learn something new every day,” says Yap, who was a journalist with Bloomberg and CNBC before she caught the entrepreneurial bug. “I meet so many people—it’s exciting. It can be crazy and nerve-wracking, but if you hang in there, it’s a huge learning opportunity.”

In 1999, Yap started her first business, Citrus Studios, Inc., a branding and digital agency that provides a wide array of services, from logo design, website development and content marketing to social media management. The Santa Monica-based firm and its 21 employees serve blue-chip clients including Hulu, Annenberg Foundation, Sephora, Dollar Shave Club, Sony, USC, UCLA, Stanford University and The Getty Center.

In 2005, she invented Luxe Link, a fashion accessory that keeps handbags off the floor and is sold online and in thousands of stores around the world. Yap, who holds patents in China, Hong Kong, Japan and Canada, has licensing deals with Cole Haan, Michael Kors and others.

Four years later, she launched The Waxing Company, the first high-end waxing salon in Honolulu. Last year, Yap founded Orange & Bergamot, which provides similar services as Citrus, but aimed at women-owned firms with smaller budgets. She plans to launch a brother company, Bergamot Brands, targeted at men business owners.

“I want to create companies that elevate business owners and help them succeed,” says Yap, who learned how to code in the 1990s before the technology boom. She honed her digital technology skills while working at the Getty, and after she left her job to start Citrus, the Getty became her first client.

“I did several projects for them, and as people left for other jobs at Norton Simon, USC and Huntington Library, they’d recommend me for other work. When you do good work, word gets around,” she adds.

Lessons Learned and Certification

With the Getty as a first client and others coming by word-of-mouth, Citrus didn’t face many struggles in the early years, although “back then, you had to convince people to get online,” Yap says. “Now, everyone knows they need to have a great online presence—your business won’t succeed without it. That’s how people remember you.”

Like most business owners starting out, she wasn’t selective about Citrus’ clients—taking any project that came her way. Then, she realized the importance of making sure her clients’ values aligned with hers.

Yap created the company’s core values, which include: Communicate kindly, Have heart, be All in, be Remarkable and Make lemonade out of lemons, or CHARM. “When I work with a potential client or employee, I share my values and make sure we’re aligned,” she adds.

Citrus, which has been SCMSDC-certified for several years, has benefited from its minority business enterprise (MBE) certification, according to Yap. “We do a lot of work with L.A. County as a subcontractor and all the primes want you to be certified, so certification really helps.”

In addition to attending council events, including Minority Business Opportunity Day and the Leadership Excellence Awards gala, Yap was a featured speaker at CEO Academy, SCMSDC’s leadership program for MBEs, where she helped participants reveal their brand’s core essence and convey their brand to better connect with audiences.

Yap has received many awards, including the National Association of Women Business Owner’s Rising Star award, Deborah Awards by the ADL and Asian Business Association’s Technology Firm of the Year. She is also the first woman and minority to serve as president of the Entrepreneurs Organization Los Angeles, a global, peer-to-peer network of influential business owners with 173 chapters.

Tips for Success

Her advice to minority entrepreneurs?

  • “Don’t give up. A lot of times, business owners are almost there and throw in the towel too soon. Don’t let fear take over. I told myself that failing wasn’t an option.”
  • “Have habits that will make you productive. I meditate twice a day and work out every day. I design my life the way I want it. My habits help me start off my day in a great mental state.”
  • “Leverage technology. I use technology to streamline my work.”
  • “Define what success means to you. Someone’s idea of success may be to sell a company, have a great family life or flexible schedule … define what it is and go for it.”

Source: scmsdc.org

Shelly Bell, Founder Of Black Girl Ventures, Helps Women Of Color Gain Access To Capital

LinkedIn

Shelly Bell has lived many lives. She’s a computer scientist, a former high school teacher, a performance poet, a community organizer, a founder, and a CEO. She has two successful apparel printing businesses: MsPrint USA—through which she creates swag for clients like Amazon and Google with a team of women designers and printers—and Made By A Black Woman, which celebrates products made by Black women.

Every project Bell undertakes is designed to empower women, especially women of color, which is why two years ago, she began her latest enterprise, Black Girl Ventures, which helps women identifying entrepreneurs of color gain access to capital.

According to a Medium post Bell wrote in May, Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States, yet they receive less than 1% of venture capital. In 2017, women on the whole, she wrote, only received 2% of venture capital.

Black Girl Ventures (BGV), based in Washington DC, holds pitch competitions, social events, boot camps, and other forms of entrepreneurial training for women of color. Since its inception in 2016, BGV has funded 13 founders and has engaged hundreds of women.

The unique BGV Pitch Competition, of which there are 10 per year, is described on the website as “a crowdfunding meets pitch competition.” Attendees pay admission at the door, selected founders pitch for three minutes, and the audience votes. Winners receive the money raised from admission fees, in addition to other perks like a free consultation with both a lawyer and an accountant and a meeting with an investor.

While anyone can attend the pitch competitions, only women of color can do the pitching. Bell is proud, she says, of “the women we serve and their reaction to the space created for them.” She is also proud of the success many of the entrepreneurs have found after working with BGV. Founders who have participated in pitch competitions have gone on to be accepted into accelerators, receive fellowships, and raise more capital from other resources.

As BGV continues to grow, Bell hopes to do a better job serving Latinx women. “Because Black is in the name, it is definitely easy for Black women to gravitate,” she says, “but we want to make sure we are serving Black and Brown women.”

She is also currently focusing on finding more access to capital, creating more revenue streams, getting more sponsorship, and creating more partnerships. Some of her most recent successes are corporate partnerships with both Bumble and Google Cloud for Startups, who are currently sponsoring the BGV Big 4 Tour through Atlanta, Chicago, DC, and NYC.

When first starting BGV, Bell struggled with trying to do too many things at once. “I’m a creative,” she says. “I have literally at least 10 ideas per day.” Initially, Bell focused on doing both trainings and pitch competitions, but her advisors suggested she focus on getting really good at just one of those things.

So, she invested all her energy in the competitions, which she says has now positioned her well to expand BGV’s training opportunities. Through analytics and data gathered from those involved in the competitions, Bell now feels confident she knows what the women she serves are looking for.

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