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How to Stop Waiting for Lightning to Strike and Instead Start Replicating Success




When it comes to success, every businessperson wants lightning to strike twice. Amazon, after its summer merger with supermarket chain Whole Foods, may actually realize that goal: Over four months’ time, the company’s website has sold $10 million worth of Whole Foods products and exhibited 9 percent growth.

This victory is born of several key moves without which Amazon wouldn’t be nearly as successful today, because of the extremely competitive space it operates in: ecommerce. Entrepreneurs who pay attention to the following moves and structure their own growth using similar practices, can learn to replicate Amazon’s successes and ultimately avoid the “win-by-chance” vortex.

So, if your’re game, here’s what you need to know:

Related: What Is the Secret of Amazon’s Huge Success? Jeff Bezos Credits Commitment to These 3 Principles.

How Amazon continues to zap the competition.

One business strategy Amazon consistently employs is keeping its prices aggressively low. Even after it acquired (formerly pricey) Whole Foods, this strategy didn’t change: The company slashed grocery prices. Moreover, by pricing popular items low, Amazon across the board recoups margins from long-tail inventory.

For instance, customers can buy other Amazon products at Whole Foods stores that feature better margins than groceries — one of the lowest-margin industries out there.

Amazon’s aggressive pricing tactic also aims to annex market share while focusing on costs instead of profits. This foregrounds its philosophy of strengthening one’s position in lieu of nabbing short-term rewards that rarely rendered the company profits in its first 20 years of operation. Amazon has obviously benefited from a consistent business strategy, and though the company has been criticized for having multiple loss-leader initiatives, this approach ultimately appears to be working.

But what entrepreneurs need to realize about Amazon is that it didn’t simply replicate the same strategy from one business to the next. Instead, it replicated the thought process that led to its initial success.

Three ways to keep calling down that lightning

Entrepreneurs can replicate other companies’ successful thought processes by collecting user feedback, doing market research and tests and responding quickly to market or funding changes. Falling in love with an idea is never a good move, because if you hold on too long to your notion of how the business should operate without listening to the market, or adopt the “We did it before, so we should do it again” attitude, you’ll fail. Successful businesses always incorporate feedback and embrace change — not just from customers, but from the entire team.

Here are a few simple strategies that all entrepreneurs can follow to help their companies grow differently and remain successful.

1. Prepare for change — it’s inevitable. Many successful businesses are unrecognizable now compared with their earlier days. According to a former employee, Twitter began life as “a product where you call a phone number and it would turn your message into an MP3 hosted on the internet.” Ultimately, Twitter evolved and subsequently changed the world.

Having the flexibility to adapt to what the market introduces means entrepreneurs must adopt the right mindset. Even after it acquired Instagram, for instance, Facebook continued to lose its active-user lead to Snapshat until it introduced Instagram Stories last August. By October, it had 100 million daily users and growing, while Snapchat’s growth drastically slowed.

I myself rely on the Build-Measure-Learn methodology in the Eric Ries book The Lean Startup and follow the “Release Early, Release Often” mantra for software development. These ways of thinking, I believe, keep you current and nimble. Such feedback loops are critical, so long as they’re methodical and inclusive; and capitalizing on a wanting market, even when you’ve got an imperfect product, is much better than waiting and missing your moment.

In addition, putting some innovation-accounting to work for you by identifying your key performance indicators and core metrics — such as customer retention, unit economics and customer lifetime value — determines whether your business will make it.

2. Recognize that mistakes are your best teachers. Contrary to what you may expect, you should study and replicate what you did when your previous business was on the verge of failing — or even after it failed — and not as much on what it was doing when it was successful. The real lessons you need to replicate are the ones you learned during those tough periods.

Related: Learning From Failure Is What Makes Entrepreneurs Better Leaders

One of those lessons, simple as it may sound, is that grit is necessary to create success in any domain. To be a serial entrepreneur, you need a bit of grit because a brand can’t fail — only a founder can fail to pivot when necessary. And pivoting takes grit.

Still, you shouldn’t rely too heavily on this singular trait. Often, entrepreneurs are “grittiest” about their passions. I’m no different, having chosen a field I’m passionate about but also having made sure a market existed for the product. In planning your next success, then, make sure your venture aligns with your core values and passions while keeping sight of the practicalities necessary for success.

3. Adopt multiple focal distances, but don’t go it alone. Looking at both your idea and the market is essential. Jake Winebaum of Brighter and Ev Williams of Medium nailed this approach: Winebaum recognized a problem when his relative needed dental care. After assessing the landscape, he saw a $40 billion dental market with no way to discover pricing; he then put those two together as a key to his success. Williams is a serial entrepreneur who founded Blogger, co-founded Twitter and is working on his publishing platform, Medium.

To “re-succeed,” you have to adopt both the microscopic view and the 1,000-mile view the way those individuals did. But if you’re unsure how to accommodate these seemingly divergent perspectives, don’t hesitate to lean on an advisory board and network of mentors. Bringing some people over from your previous ventures but also including new ones who know the market for your new venture can be beneficial at every step of the entrepreneur’s journey. Moreover, when you look at small businesses that survive five years, 70 percent of the owners had mentors, according to a 2014 survey by The UPS Store.

Related: 11 Signs You Have the Grit Needed to Succeed

If you’ve enjoyed entrepreneurial success already, congratulations. But your success doesn’t have to stop there. Utilize the hard-won lessons of previous crises and hash it all over with not only your team, but also your most trusted advisors. The market may be fickle, but it’s not unfair. With tenacity and enthusiasm, you can capture that lightning strike from time to time in an entrepreneurial career. And that makes it all worth it.

A daily source of inspiration and information, fuels the spectrum of game-changers that define what it means to be an entrepreneur today. That includes business leaders who launched something from nothing, content creators in the social influencer space, athletes pushing the boundaries of performance, and internal thought leaders innovating inside major corporations. offers strategic insights and how-to guidance for the people that make things happen.



Unilever Turns Up the Heat on Facebook & Google Over Tech’s ‘Unintended Consequences’

Social Media Week





Unilever has issued a stern warning to digital platforms including Facebook, Google, and YouTube: do more to improve transparency and clean up the “swamp” of fake news, exploitative, and socially divisive content, or be cut off from its multi-billion dollar digital advertising budget.

CMO Keith Weed recently spoke at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s annual leadership meeting held in Palm Desert, Calif. CNBC quotes him as saying, “We need to redefine what is responsible business in the digital age because for all of the good the tech companies are doing, there’s some unintended consequences that now need addressing.”

Two of the most important consequences being referred to include the threatening of safety of users, especially young children, and loss of trust by consumers and companies at large.

While it’s unlikely that Unilever will turn its back on the two largest digital platforms, Weed’s words matter because of the sheer amount of ad budget Unilever holds across its portfolio brands. MediaPost reports that in 2017, the company spent approximately $9.8 billion on marketing and advertising, a quarter of which went to digital.

Beyond the public denouncements, Unilever is also working with IBM to develop a blockchain with which the company can more effectively reduce ad fraud via a record of what media is purchased and how it is delivered.

A separate MediaPost article shares YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s response to Weeds comments on Monday. In her own statement at Recode’s Code Media conference, she assured,
“We want to do the right set of things to build [Unilever’s] trust. They are building brands on YouTube, and we want to be sure that our brand is the right place to build their brand.”

Recent efforts we’ve seen in support of this include significant updates to its Creator Program policy. Further, in light of the recent Logan Paul controversy involving a video in which a suicide victim was filmed inside a Japanese forest, the company has suspended running ads on his channel, per Ad Age.

While brand safety is a concern on the minds of many marketers, Unilever’s public comments this week indicate that brands are viewing the issue with a much broader lens, and seriously questioning the role these platforms play in people’s everyday lives, beyond the world of advertising. In this important cultural moment, people are looking to brands and platforms to assume responsibility and be proactive to keep their spaces safe, trustworthy, and suitable for communities.

To further explore the overarching question of how technology, including digital platform giants, can be used to bring us closer together versus further apart, join us at SMWNYC April 24-27. Register today and save 20%.

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Facebook’s Next Step in Building Community: $10M in Grants

Social Media Week





Facebook has made several important announcements as of late the support its mission to create more “meaningful communities.” The latest? Investment in a newly announced Community Leadership program designed to support its community-building leaders through a variety of residency and fellowship opportunities that offer training, support, and funding.

Here’s how it will work: Facebook will name five “community leaders in residence” and provide up to $1 million each to fund their proposals, in addition to providing them with the opportunity to attend a customized leadership development training session.

Moreover, Facebook will select 100 individuals to join its fellowship program and receive up to $50,000 each for a “specific community initiative.” They’ll also participate in four in-person gatherings during which they will have the chance to meet and collaborate with other fellows.

Another key initiative in the works? Expanding Facebook’s “engineering team for community safety,” which is headquartered in London. In particular, the company hopes to double the number of employees focused on such efforts including detecting and stopping fake accounts, protecting people from harm (e.g harassment and scams), and making it easier to report content, by the end of 2018.

Further, Facebook outlined new tools for group admins, including page personalization options (e.g. color and the ability to pin announcements to the top of the page), the ability to create and share group rules; and more features to monitor Group Insights.

Outside of its Communities Summit, but along the theme of ensuring time on the platform is time well spent, the company also confirmed last week it was testing a downvote button that would allow users to provide feedback on comments in particular. The downvote button is being tested within a limited group of U.S. users for the time being.

This is not to be confused with a “dislike” button, but rather a more “lightweight way for people to provide a signal to Facebook that a comment is inappropriate, uncivil, or misleading”—this according to a Facebook spokesperson quoted in TechCrunch.

Here is what the button looks like in action:

Image via TechCrunch.

As the screenshot depicts, the user will have the ability to select whether the post was found to be “offensive,” “misleading,” or “off topic,” the choices aimed to help guide Facebook’s course of action with respect to the particular piece of feedback.

Forbes adds that, the downvote option in its test mode only applies to public posts as opposed to Group posts or the Pages of public figures. It also doesn’t affect the ranking of the post and the number of downvotes a post gets won’t be publicly shared.

These initiatives by Facebook to reverse some of the negative perceptions of its role in society come at a critical time as brands and citizens alike are putting more and more pressure on the world’s leading tech platforms to course-correct their products for the safety of their users. Just this week, Unilever threatened to yank ad dollars from Facebook and Google due to the company’s growing dissatisfaction with their overall impact on society.

“We cannot have an environment where our consumers don’t trust what they see online,” stated Unilever CMO, Keith Weed, to the BBC.

Learn about Facebook’s increasingly complex role in society by joining SMWNYC April 24-27. The conference will offer multiple sessions designed to explore where brands and platforms fit into tech’s future in our world. Register today to secure your pass.

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5 Ways Cryptocurrency Can Help Entrepreneurs in 2018




Cryptocurrency has revolutionized the way we transact value, invest our savings and raise capital with its decentralised digital cash system. Blockchain technology is a once-in-a-lifetime invention; never before in history have we been presented with such a breakthrough in financial technology. In 2018, entrepreneurs are well positioned to become early adopters of blockchain technology.

1. Raising capital

Cryptocurrency has disrupted the way early stage companies raise capital. With initial coin offerings, startups around the world can raise money quickly and cheaply from a wide pool of global investors. The valuation of a company is almost immediately reflected by the market, a process that has traditionally been challenging for early stage businesses. Shares are issued as tokens and tradable almost immediately, bringing large amounts of liquidity to the company.

Related: IPOs Are Boring But You Must Keep an Eye on These 9 Initial Coin Offerings

This new approach to raising capital has changed the world and enabled the best technical talent to build their companies at high speed. In 2014, a teenager from Canada called Vitalik Buterin raised money for his startup, Ethereum, through an initial coin offering. He wanted to improve on Bitcoin’s blockchain and create a platform for people to build unstoppable applications. With just a whitepaper and a vision, he was able to successfully raise $18 million for his new blockchain, which was valued at over $100 billion as of January 2018.

2. Transacting value

Cryptocurrency enables us to transact value between peers without a centralized authority. It provides a cheaper, faster and more efficient alternative to traditional payment networks. As a company, accepting cryptocurrency payments is becoming increasingly efficient, saving on fees and bringing faster settlement. Soon, startups will no longer need to go through the long process of setting up a business bank account to receive and distribute funds. In 2014, became the first retailer to accept bitcoin, receiving over 800 orders worth $126,000 in bitcoin in the first 22 hours. It has since amassed a $403,000 portfolio of cryptocurrency.

Related: 5 Essential Podcasts for Entrepreneurs Serious About Cryptocurrency

3. Investing for the future

For entrepreneurs, cryptocurrency may be the investment opportunity of a lifetime. Never before in history have retail investors had investment access to high growth early stage companies. Traditionally, venture capital funds and private angel investors have held monopolies on access to investment in the world’s best technical talent. Cryptocurrency provides a gateway for anyone in the world to invest in the world’s most exciting technology, allowing retail investors to own a basket of high growth companies. For example, through the decentralized method of blockchain investment, teenager Erik Finnman was able to invest in Bitcoin in 2011, becoming a Bitcoin millionaire at age 18. These types of investment stories would not be possible with traditional private venture capital fundraising.

Related: Why You Can’t Afford to Ignore Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain Anymore

4. Developing on the blockchain

The blockchain offers powerful infrastructure for companies to run their technology and create entirely new business models in a trusted way without a centralized authority. Blockchain technology is already revolutionizing the way startups create value. The Ethereum platform allows companies to build unstoppable blockchain applications quickly and for free. One example of a company leveraging the Ethereum blockchain is OmiseGO, a payments company that is using blockchain to provide banking services for the world’s 2 billion unbanked population. Blockchain technology is a cost-efficient way of building decentralized applications that can scale to a global population.

Related: 6 Cryptocurrencies You Should Know About (and None of Them Are Bitcoin)

5. Joining the blockchain community

The blockchain community offers access to some of the world’s best entrepreneurs, who are actively investing, advising and building upon the blockchain. Telegram, Facebook, WeChat, Slack and WhatsApp groups have proved popular in building communities of decentralized blockchain investors who can communicate with each other on a daily basis. Many large investments in early stage technology companies can be coordinated within minutes, a process that would traditionally take months in traditional venture capital. For example, in 2017, Brave’s Basic Attention Token sale sold out of its $35 million offering within 30 seconds. The blockchain community offers a strong sense of purpose with all members committed to a common goal of advancing blockchain technology to global adoption.

Related: How Digital Wallets and Mobile Payments Are Evolving and What It Means for You

Cryptocurrency provides a platform for entrepreneurs to raise capital quickly, cheaply and efficiently. Entrepreneurs can transact value through the blockchain at high speed with limited setup costs and invest in high growth technology companies at an early stage. Platforms like Ethereum allow entrepreneurs to build decentralized applications to a global audience for free. The blockchain community offers access to some of the top entrepreneurs, engineers and investors in the world and in 2018, cryptocurrency will continue to provide a viable means for entrepreneurs to create value in the world.

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7 Ways to Get Recruiters and Job Offers to Come to You




“You are your own brand, and you need to build that brand and promote it as much as possible. It is important that you start building your brand online, because this is where employers are going to be looking for potential employees,” suggests Dima Midon, an expert from TrafficBox. Use all of the online tools at your disposal, particularly LinkedIn, which is a professional network that allows you to really promote yourself as a professional, and someone who is an expert in your field. This is a great tool for job seekers. Make sure that you keep your profile up to date, especially when it comes to contact information, so when an employer searches you, they will be able to contact you if they are interested in learning more.

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