When Is It Time to Throw in the Towel?

Time to Throw in the Towel by Chris Banescu –
This is an interesting perspective from veteran entrepreneur and Inc. magazine columnist Norm Brodsky. Most entrepreneurs are independent, visionary, and courageous spirits driven to work had and achieve success regardless of personal sacrifices and risks. However, there are situations in which no matter how hard we work we may need to throw in the towel and chose to pursue a different venture or path; while still taking away critical lessons and experiences that can be invaluable.

Passion, vision, and drive are important attributes of all entrepreneurs, but so is pragmatism. Sometimes walking away from an unprofitable business or problematic venture is the best solution in the greater scheme of things. Luckily, the lessons learned and knowledge gained from such situations will be useful in future business or other entrepreneurial endeavors. [Read more…]

Why Most Ideas are Worthless

Most Ideas are Worthless By focusing less on your next “big idea” and more on the actual execution, you’ll have a better chance of building a successful new business.

by Karl Stark and Bill Stewart –
Maybe it’s the Facebook craze, or the warped view of entrepreneurialism that Hollywood and mainstream media have created. For ages, young and hopeful entrepreneurs have embraced the fallacy that great ideas are the root of entrepreneurial success and instant wealth. People say, “If only I would have thought of that, I’d be rich!”

Those of us who have built businesses know that success is rarely about the breakthrough idea. Clearly, a good idea is important, but it’s just not the source of limitless riches. Real entrepreneurial success most often comes from hard work, risk-taking, and developing a product or solution that creates real value for customers. [Read more…]

Simplifying the Tax Code

Simplifying the Tax Code Paying taxes can be tough — it’s complex, convoluted, time consuming, and often very frustrating. The US Tax Code has become a monstrosity that destroys competitiveness and productivity. It must be radically simplified!

In this video Randall Holcombe, Professor of Economics, explains how we can simplify the tax code by eliminating loopholes for special interests and lowering tax rates and how this helps improve economic growth and promotes wealth creation. [Read more…]

The Only Thing that Really Matters

The Only Thing that Really Matters by Tony Schwartz –
Think for a moment of the last time you felt triggered — pushed into negative emotions by someone or something. Here, for example, are several of my triggers: feeling taken advantage of, not getting a response to an email I’ve sent to someone, and not being acknowledged for good work I’ve done.

We move into negative emotions — what we call the “Survival Zone” in our work at The Energy Project — when we feel a sense of threat or danger.

But what is the threat exactly? Over the past decade, my colleagues and I have asked thousands of our clients to describe something that consistently triggers them and then explain why.

Remarkably, we’ve found that a trigger can almost always be traced to the same root cause: the feeling of being devalued or diminished by someone else’s words or behavior. Consider my triggers above. [Read more…]

No Excuses – Motivation and Hard Work Make Dreams Into Realities

Motivation and Sacrifices Make Dreams Into Realitiesby Chris Banescu –

What is your goal in life? What is your dream?

A dream must be acted upon to have any chance of success. It can only be achieved if we have the passion, motivation, discipline, and determination to pursue it with our whole heart and mind. Our dream must have our full focus, attention, and energy. We must be willing and able to do the hard work necessary to make it become a reality. Just like a “faith without works is dead,” a dream without works and sacrifices is just a fantasy, a delusion.

Don’t let your fears stand in the way of your dreams. It is better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all. Regret is worse than failure! [Read more…]

Secrets of the Most Productive People I Know

Productivity Success Productive by Margaret Heffernan –
Like most everyone else, I worry about productivity. Since there aren’t more hours in the day, how can I get more done? That’s made me reflect on the truly productive people I’ve known or worked with throughout my career.

They all share certain characteristics:

1. They have a life.
Far from being the maniacally focused, late night or early morning types, truly creative innovators or problem solvers have a rich life outside of work. One of the finest CEOs I’ve known, Carol Vallone, founder of WebCT, coached her local softball team. She said it’s where she honed her leadership skills. It also meant she had to take her mind off work and think in different ways. No wonder academic research keeps showing that external commitments are highly correlated with high achievement. [Read more…]

“No” is the New “Yes”: Four Practices to Reprioritize Your Life

Harvard Business Review logo by Tony Schwartz –
Saying no, thoughtfully, may be the most undervalued capacity of our times. In a world of relentless demands and infinite options, it behooves us to prioritize the tasks that add the most value. That also means deciding what to do less of, or to stop doing altogether.

I was sitting with the CEO and senior team of a well-respected organization. One at a time, they told me they spend their long days either in back-to-back meetings, responding to email, or putting out fires. They also readily acknowledged this way of working wasn’t serving them well — personally or professionally.

It’s a conundrum they couldn’t seem to solve. It’s also a theme on which I hear variations every day. Think of it as a madness loop — a vicious cycle. We react to what’s in front of us, whether it truly matters or not. More than ever, we’re prisoners of the urgent.

Prioritizing requires reflection, reflection takes time, and many of the executives I meet are so busy racing just to keep up they don’t believe they have time to stop and think about much of anything. [Read more…]

The Secret to Mastering Patience

Patience Mastering Patience by John Baldoni –
Having trouble mastering patience?

Well, to combat that, you could try standing in the longest line at the supermarket. Or, when driving on the freeway, get behind someone observing the speed limit—and stay there. Or, if someone yells at you because you are not paying attention, turn and give him or her a big compliment.

The above suggestions were made by callers to an episode of NPR’s Talk of the Nation that featured author Allan Lokos speaking about his new book, Patience: The Art of Peaceful Living. Allan’s book is filled with many practical suggestions for how you can master patience.

Patience is a matter of control. I certainly do not possess it, but I do admire those who do.  And as someone who likes to be in control, as do most executives with whom I work, control may open the window to developing greater levels of patience. [Read more…]

Ten Things to Start Doing to Improve Your Life

Keys to Success in Life by Chris Banescu –
There are many books and articles written about improving your life and achieving success. Often these resources cover common principles and truths you can apply for personal self-improvement, motivation, and inspiration. Others discuss pitfalls and problem areas in your life to watch out for and avoid. Listed below are ten important concepts to start practicing in order to improve your quality of life and get back on the road towards peace and happiness.

  1. Pursue a career you love and are passionate about. – When you love what you do, working hard is enjoyable and making sacrifices for what you’re passionate about is worthwhile. Hard work doesn’t feel hard when you devote yourself fully to it and really like doing it. Don’t settle on a career field you’re not passionate about, don’t feel comfortable in, or hold on to simply because you need the money. Do everything possible to leave a dysfunctional work environment. If you’re not sure what career to pursue, then try different things, read good books, educate yourself, and ask trusted mentors for feedback and advice. Continue searching for something that you’re really good at doing, others appreciate, and you would love to do for the rest of your life. Look diligently and follow your heart and you’ll eventually find it. If you catch yourself working hard and loving every minute of it, don’t stop; you’re on to something big.
  2. Maintain a healthy body and a rested mind. – Your health is your life! It is more important than wealth or success. Don’t sacrifice your health in pursuit of other goals. A tired mind and an unhealthy body are rarely conducive to productive and efficient work and excellent results. Don’t abuse your body and mind. Everything in moderation is key when it comes to eating and drinking. Eat healthy, wholesome, and balanced meals. Exercise regularly, both by lifting weights (strength training) and doing aerobic exercises that improve cardiovascular fitness. Get enough sleep every night and sufficient rest during the day. [Read more…]

Michael O’Leary on Ryanair Success and EU Incompetence

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary by Lachlan Markay –
Innovation and market disruption can be powerful forces for economic growth. But government involvement in the market tends to be a force against disruption, and hence a force against innovation. The drive to protect the dominant companies – often justified in the name of job preservation — prevents success for companies that offer better, cheaper, or different products or services.

The European Union received a frank lesson in these economic truths when it brought Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary to speak at its recent innovation convention. In a rousing and thoroughly entertaining speech and subsequent Q&A, O’Leary roasted the European Commission’s attempts to protect Europe’s major airlines, often at the expense of innovation in the industry.

“This is the first time I think that I or Ryanair have ever been invited to a conference by the European Union,” O’Leary jibed, “because as most of you know, the European Union spends most of its time either suing me, torturing me, criticizing me, or condemning me for lowering the cost of air travel all over Europe.” [Read more…]

How to Create a Job: Creating Value, Not Just Work

How to Create a Job: Creating Value, Not Just Work Capitalism Economic FreedomWith unemployment still above 9 percent, Americans are searching for answers that will lead to quality, lasting jobs. Past failures of jobs programs show that addressing the symptom instead of the disease has yet to lead to real job growth.

Instead of talking about jobs programs, what needs to be discussed is how to provide the right environment for growth: economic freedom. Watch this video to learn more. [Read more…]

How China Transformed Its Economy

China Embraces Capitalism China Capitalist by James E. Miller –
In a recent National Public Radio report, the real story behind the monumental land reforms which transformed the communist dystopia of China into a productive powerhouse was revealed.

In 1978, the farmers in a small Chinese village called Xiaogang gathered in a mud hut to sign a secret contract. They thought it might get them executed. Instead, it wound up transforming China’s economy in ways that are still reverberating today.

The contract was so risky – and such a big deal – because it was created at the height of communism in China. Everyone worked on the village’s collective farm; there was no personal property.

In Xiaogang there was never enough food, and the farmers often had to go to other villages to beg. Their children were going hungry. They were desperate. So, in the winter of 1978, after another terrible harvest, they came up with an idea: Rather than farm as a collective, each family would get to farm its own plot of land. If a family grew a lot of food, that family could keep some of the harvest.

[Read more…]

JetBlue Airways Chairman Joel Peterson: Innovation Is Hiding In Plain Sight

JetBlue Airways Innovation in Plain Sight by Lydia Dishman –
Sometimes innovation looks like good old-fashioned customer service served with a heaping helping of passion from a forward-thinking entrepreneur.

Sometimes innovation doesn’t look like a new social media channel, iPhone, app, or nifty widget. In fact, Joel Peterson believes that innovation is hiding in plain sight. Peterson tells Fast Company, “It’s any time you are doing something in a better way.” The way he sees it, innovation can be simply, “tweaks around the edges [of existing products and services], and a lot of people don’t get credit.”

Peterson sees it happen all the time. Most people don’t know he’s chairman of JetBlue Airways–and the discount airline’s first investor–or that he founded Peterson Partners, a Salt Lake City-based private equity group with some half a billion dollars under management, as well as Peterson Ventures which funds startups. [Read more…]

12 Things Happy People Do Differently

Inspirational Happiness How to be Happy by Jacob Sokol –
“I’d always believed that a life of quality, enjoyment, and wisdom were my human birthright and would be automatically bestowed upon me as time passed. I never suspected that I would have to learn how to live – that there were specific disciplines and ways of seeing the world I had to master before I could awaken to a simple, happy, uncomplicated life.” ~ Dan Millman

Studies conducted by positivity psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky point to 12 things happy people do differently to increase their levels of happiness. These are things that we can start doing today to feel the effects of more happiness in our lives. (Check out her book The How of Happiness.)

I want to honor and discuss each of these 12 points, because no matter what part of life’s path we’re currently traveling on, these ‘happiness habits’ will always be applicable.

  1. Express gratitude. – When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value.  Kinda cool right?  So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness.  And that’s without having to go out and buy anything.  It makes sense.  We’re gonna have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have. [Read more…]

How Sony Pictures Gets More Out of People by Demanding Less

Sony Pictures Help Employee Productivity Success story by Tony Schwartz –
The way most of us work isn’t working. Study after study has shown that companies are experiencing a crisis in employee engagement. A 2007 Towers Perrin survey of nearly 90,000 employees worldwide, for instance, found that only 21% felt fully engaged at work and nearly 40% were disenchanted or disengaged. That negativity has a direct impact on the bottom line. Towers Perrin found that companies with low levels of employee engagement had a 33% annual decline in operating income and an 11% annual decline in earnings growth. Those with high engagement, on the other hand, reported a 19% increase in operating income and 28% growth in earnings per share.

Nearly a decade ago, the Energy Project, the company I head, began to address work performance and the problem of employee disengagement. We believed that burnout was one of its leading causes, and we focused almost exclusively on helping individuals avoid it by managing their energy, as opposed to their time. Time, after all, is finite. By contrast, you can expand your personal energy and also regularly renew it. [Read more…]

Tax Cuts, Less-Intrusive Gov’t Help Canada Soar

Canada flag low taxes economic success by IBD Editorials –

Success: Away from the low growth and high regulation of an America under Washington’s thumb, our northern neighbor is economically strong. As 2011 ends, Canada has announced yet another tax cut — and will soar even more.

The Obama administration and its economic czars have flailed about for years, baffled about how to get the U.S. economy growing.

In reality, the president need look no further than our neighbor, Canada, whose solid growth is the product of tax cuts, fiscal discipline, free trade, and energy development. That’s made Canada a roaring puma nation, while its supposedly more powerful southern neighbor stands on the outside looking in. [Read more…]

Throw ‘Em All Out…And Good Riddance!

Throw Them All Out Government Corruption by J.R. Dunn –
Crony capitalism is the most serious current danger to the American community, a threat not simply to government or the economy, but to our very way of life. It is the worst such threat since the trusts and monopolies of the early 20th century, and in much the same way. Cronyism is one of the major forces behind the establishment of the corrupt pseudo-aristocracy that has been taking shape in this country over the past two decades, a synthetic privileged class made up in large part of politicians, hustlers, and hangers-on who have become expert in exploiting the rest of us.

The legacy media, for some obscure reason, tends to bury discussions about this group. While the reportage on discrete incidents is there — see the parade of stories on Solyndra, Goldman Sachs, and MF Global for examples — we find little effort to pull it all together. Academics, with the single exception of Angelo Codevilla, who sounded the alarm two years ago in The Ruling Class, appear oblivious, as if they had no idea what’s going on, which may well be the case. [Read more…]

Job Creation Is No Mystery

Job Creation Business Economy Not Government by Tom McClintock –
The government’s continuing failure to address our nation’s gut-wrenching unemployment stems from a fundamental disagreement over how jobs are created in the first place.

We are now in the third year of policies predicated on the assumption that government spending creates jobs.

We have squandered three years and trillions of dollars of the nation’s wealth on such policies, and they have not worked because they cannot work.

Government cannot inject a single dollar into the economy until it has first taken that same dollar out of the economy. [Read more…]

Innovating in a Culture of Convergence

Innovation Product Design by Michelle Greenwald –
How exactly do we define innovation? While it’s probably the most overused term in business today, innovation is not a fad. It’s not even new. What differentiates a smart innovation—and makes it worth writing about—is that it has the capability of moving a business forward in ways that can result in more customers, more sales, more brand loyalty, more good will, or some combination of those effects. Smart innovation is capable of providing a company with competitive advantage. Innovations are smart when they are not just inventions for innovation’s sake, just to be new and different; rather they provide a strategic benefit.

Innovation has always been relevant because it aims to satisfy unmet consumer and business needs; as the new-product development time-to-market continues to shrink and product life cycles get shorter and shorter, the term will become even more relevant. What qualifies as an innovation, in my mind, is a product, service, aspect, or feature that is new, different, surprising, clever, fresh, attention-getting, challenging of conventional ways things are done, and is an obvious improvement on “what’s out there” in that particular product category and geographical area. [Read more…]

Do the Incompetent Rise to the Top? Peter Principle Revisited

Peter Principle Incompetence Rises to the Top by Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D. –
How and why do incompetent people rise to the top?

Why are there so many incompetent leaders? Is your boss less than competent? How about that department head in accounting or HR that doesn’t know his/her job? How in the world do incompetent people rise to the top in many organizations? Here are the reasons:

We Don’t Do a Good Job of Selecting Leaders. We simply don’t invest the time or resources needed to select the best people for jobs. Time and time again, we take hiring shortcuts. We interview in a haphazard way, and select the person who appears best in the interview. The problem is that often the best performer in the interview is one of the least competent workers (they’re so good in the interview because they get so much practice, because they are often fired!). [Read more…]

Dwolla – New Payment System Sidesteps Credit Cards

Dwolla - New Payment Systemby Alyson Shontell –
There’s a tiny 12-person startup churning out of Des Moines, Iowa.

Dwolla was founded by 28-year-old Ben Milne; it’s an innovative online payment system that sidesteps credit cards completely.

Milne has no finance background yet his little operation is moving between $30 and $50 million per month; it’s on track to move more than $350 million in the next year.

Unlike PayPal, Dwolla doesn’t take a percentage of the transaction. It only asks for $0.25 whether it’s moving $1 or $1,000. [Read more…]

What Good Does Design Do For Business?

Good Design business lamp futuristic designby Thomas Lockwood –
Have you noticed how similar some products are becoming? A Tesla and a Lotus, that’s an easy one. But I’m talking about the similarities between seemingly disparate objects, like an Audi car and Oakley sunglasses, a 3M stapler and an Alessi teapot, or a Starbucks café and your bank lobby. Consumers love cool design, and, in case you haven’t heard, companies are catching on. Investing in the design process can be a sustainable business advantage, because it tends to lead to five things: creative collaboration, innovation, differentiation, simplification, and customer experience.

For starters, designers tend to collaborate with each other, other disciplines, and users to generate new ideas, explore alternatives, and create new stuff (products, websites, brands, stores, etc.). The process of design thinking, co-creation, and design as creative collaboration can help companies move beyond their norms and create new markets. [Read more…]

How to Lead With Purpose

Leadership with purpose compass by Marla Tabaka –
The purpose-driven company is led by someone who has a reliable inner compass guiding them. John Baldoni asks: What’s your direction?

Can you describe the purpose of your business in a single sentence? Do you—and does every single person who is connected with your organization—have a reason to believe in that mission? Internationally recognized leadership educator John Baldoni believes that when an organization succeeds, it is because everyone involved knows precisely what they do—and why they do it. Even in start-up mode, an entrepreneur needs to constantly consider his or her mission and purpose to ensure growth and success. I recently spoke with Baldoni, the author of Lead with Purpose: Giving Your Organization a Reason to Believe in Itself, about the the defining qualities and responsibilities of one who leads with purpose. [Read more…]

Why 20% Should Be New 25% In Reforming Corporate Rate

Investors Business Daily by Ryan Ellis –

If there’s a common denominator in tax reform and economic growth packages, it’s this: the corporate rate is too high, and needs to come down for the sake of keeping our employers competitive internationally. Even most on the Left have accepted this.

The most common tax-rate target is 25%. Because of how the world has been moving in the direction of low corporate tax rates, however, this is no longer good enough — and might even result in a worse outcome than the status quo.

First, a little background. A generation or two ago, the entire developed world had high corporate income-tax rates. In 1981, the developed nation average was 47%. Canada had a 51% rate. The United Kingdom levied a rate of 52%. [Read more…]

Stop Procrastinating…Now

Harvard Business Review logo by Amy Gallo –

It seems that no one is immune to the tendency to procrastinate. When someone asked Ernest Hemingway how to write a novel, his response was “First you defrost the refrigerator.” But putting off tasks takes a big hit on our productivity, and psyche. Procrastination is not inevitable. Figuring out why you postpone work and then taking concrete steps to prevent it will help you get more done and feel good about yourself.

What the Experts Say
According to Ned Hallowell, a psychiatrist and the author of 12 books, including Driven to Distraction, delaying work is often a symptom of how busy you are. “We procrastinate because we all have too much to do,” he says. And of course, we want to dodge things we don’t like. “Many people procrastinate because they fear the drudgery or the difficulty of the task they are avoiding,” says Teresa Amabile, the Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and coauthor of The Progress Principle. But, as you have likely learned, it doesn’t pay to dawdle. “Putting it off doesn’t make it go away. Getting it done does,” says Hallowell. Here are five principles to follow next time you find yourself deferring important work. [Read more…]