8 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

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Do you have what it takes?

Starting a business is a lot of work. Anyone who tells you it’s not is either lying or has never actually started one themselves. The hours are long, sacrifices are great and you are assaulted with new problems and challenges every day with seemingly no end. If you don’t have the constitution to weather these things, your business could implode on you faster than it started.

Clearly, entrepreneurship is not for everyone. But how do you know whether it’s for you? You should start by asking yourself what it takes to be a leader because, for the most part, you’ll be doing a lot of the work up front by yourself. If you can’t lead yourself through startup, chances are you won’t likely be able to lead your business and future employees through growth and on to success.

If you enjoy only a few actual hours of real work per day, the rest of the time spent either looking busy or hanging out at the water cooler to catch up on TV talk, a modest but steady paycheck and benefits and are okay with routine day-in and day-out, stop reading here and go back to your cushy desk job.

If you seek a challenge wrought with risk but with tremendous potential reward both financially and morally, read on friend, for you have something of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

Successful entrepreneurs, from Henry Ford to Steve Jobs, share similar qualities with one another. To see how you rank against these distinguished entrepreneurs, do you share at least half of these qualities?

  1. Strong leadership qualities
    Leaders are born, not made. Do you find yourself being the go-to person most of the time? Do you find people asking your opinion or to help guide or make decisions for them? Have you been in management roles throughout your career? A leader is someone who values the goal over any unpleasantness the work it takes to get there may bring. But a leader is more than just tenacious. A leader has strong communication skills and the ability to amass a team of people toward a common goal in a way that the entire team is motivated and works effectively to get there as a team. A leader earns the trust and respect of his team by demonstrating positive work qualities and confidence, then fostering an environment that proliferates these values through the team. A leader who nobody will follow is not a leader of anything at all.
  2. Highly self-motivated
    You probably know from knowing even a little bit about some of the most famous business entrepreneurs in history that leaders are typically pretty intense personalities. Nobody makes progress by sitting back and waiting for it to find them. Successful people go out into the world and invoke change through their actions. Typically, leaders enjoy challenges and will work tirelessly to solve problems that confront them. They adapt well to changing situations without unraveling and are typically expert of helping their teams change with them by motivating them toward new goals and opportunities. Often you will learn that successful entrepreneurs are driven by a more complete vision or goal than simply the task at hand and able to think on a more universal level in that regard. They are also often very passionate about their ideas that drive toward these ultimate goals and are notoriously difficult to steer off the course.
  3. Strong sense of basic ethics and integrity
    Business is sustainable because there is a common, understood code of ethics universally that underpins the very fabric upon which commerce is conducted. While cheaters and thieves may win in the short term, they invariably lose out in the long run. You will find that successful, sustainable business people maintain the highest standards of integrity because, at the end of the day, if you cannot prove yourself a credible business person and nobody will do business with you, you are out of business. With importance in working with clients or leading a team, effective leaders admit to any error made and offer solutions to correct rather than lie about, blame others for, or dwell on the problem itself.
  4. Willingness to fail
    Successful entrepreneurs are risk takers who have all gotten over one very significant hurdle: they are not afraid of failure. That’s not to say that they rush in with reckless abandon. In fact, entrepreneurs are often successful because they are calculating and able to make the best decisions in even the worst of cases. However, they also accept that, even if they make the best decision possible, things don’t always go according to plan and may fail anyhow. If you’ve heard the old adage, “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” that’s exactly what it’s saying: do not be afraid to fail, put it out there and give it your best shot. Again, there’s not one successful entrepreneur out there sitting on his couch asking, “what if?”
  5. Serial innovators
    Entrepreneurs are almost defined by their drive to constantly develop new ideas and improve on existing processes. In fact, that’s how most of them got into business in the first place. Successful people welcome change and often depend on it to improve their effectiveness as leaders and ultimately the success of their businesses as many business concepts rely on improving products, services and processes in order to win business.
  6. Know what you don’t know
    While successful entrepreneurs are typically strong personalities overall, the best have learned that there’s always a lesson to be learned. They are rarely afraid to ask questions when it means the answers will provide them insight they can then leverage to effect. Successful entrepreneurs are confident, but not egotistical to the point that their bull-headedness is a weakness that continually prohibits them from seeing a bigger picture and ultimately making the best decisions for the business.
  7. Competitive spirit
    Entrepreneurs enjoy a challenge and they like to win. They would have to since starting a business is pretty much one of the biggest challenges a person can take on in their lifetime. In business it’s a constant war with competition to win business and grow market share. It’s also a personal challenge to use all of this to focus inward and grow a business from nothing into a powerhouse that either makes a lot of money or is so effective that it is sold or acquired for a profit as well.
  8. Understand the value of a strong peer network
    In almost every case, entrepreneurs never get to success alone. The best understand it takes a network of contacts, business partners, financial partners, peers and resources to succeed. Effective people nurture these relationships and surround themselves with people who can help make them more effective. Any good leader is only as good as those who support him.

Source: MBDA.gov

Stacy Brown-Philpot of TaskRabbit on Being a Black Woman in Silicon Valley

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The Detroit native studied at Penn and Stanford, worked for Goldman and Google, and now runs the gig economy pioneer that Ikea acquired in 2017.

Stacy Brown-Philpot didn’t grow up aspiring to be the chief executive of a technology company. Instead, she wanted to be an accountant.

While interning at an accounting firm in the 1990s, Ms. Brown-Philpot — who was raised by her mother in Detroit — worked for a partner who happened to be African-American. “I was like, ‘OK, there’s a black person who is a partner at this firm. This is something that I can accomplish.’”

But as Ms. Brown-Philpot acquired more experience and education, her ambitions grew, too. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in 1997, did a stint as an accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, then became an investment banker at Goldman Sachs in 1999.

She went back to college to get her graduate degree from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, then in 2003 joined Google, where Sheryl Sandberg became a mentor. At Google, Ms. Brown-Philpot assumed a series of leadership roles and founded the Black Googlers Network, an employee resource group.

After nine years at Google, she joined TaskRabbit — which lets people hire freelancers for odd jobs — as chief operating officer. She became chief executive in 2016, and last year, she sold the company to Ikea, the Swedish furniture giant.

This interview, which was condensed and edited for clarity, was conducted at TaskRabbit headquarters in San Francisco.

Tell me about your upbringing.

I grew up on the West Side of Detroit. My mom raised my brother and me by herself. We didn’t have a lot. My mother worked a job that didn’t pay a whole lot of money, so she had to make a lot of sacrifices. But she prioritized education. She would fall asleep helping us with our homework at night. She always taught us that no one can take your learning away from you. And with that, you can go anywhere and do anything.

So I focused on getting good grades. I wasn’t always a popular kid. I didn’t have the best clothes. But I was a smart kid. It’s cool to be smart in Silicon Valley. It’s not cool to be smart on the West Side of Detroit.

What was your first job?

I had a paper route with my brother. I would help him collect the money. I was like the C.F.O. of that operation, making sure we got paid.

And then you went to Penn.

I had no idea what an Ivy League school was. I was a fish out of water. My high school was 98 percent black. Penn was 6 percent black. So I had to find community. I had to figure out how was I going to succeed in this environment where most people don’t look like me, and don’t come from where I came from.

So where’d you find community?

There was a black college house. I didn’t live there. I would just go over there and spend time just sitting around with people that, you know, ate collard greens and fried chicken, just like I did growing up. It just made it safer for me and more confident for me to walk into a classroom and know I knew the answers and speak up.

Continue onto the New York Times to read the complete article.

A Scientist-Turned-Investor Is Helping Female Entrepreneurs Build And Scale Their Businesses

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Dr. Silvia Mah, investor and founding partner at Ad Astra Ventures, and her team are equipping female entrepreneurs to build, run and scale investable businesses. With her primary focus on empowering, nurturing and launching women-owned businesses, Mah is investing in new ventures that allow women to break through barriers in order to excel.

In addition, Mah serves as the Executive Director of Hera Labs, a business accelerator for women-owned small businesses. She also is the founding member of Hera Angels, an early stage female angel group.

Initially, Mah earned her doctorate (Ph.D.) in Molecular Marine Biology preparing to work as a researcher in a lab. Her pivot to investing began the day she was offered a position to lead a program focused on service learning projects for multidisciplinary undergraduate engineering students at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Working with the students ignited her entrepreneurial spirit. She knew she wanted her next step to be in business, wanting to work with scientific companies. “I really wanted to be in this arena of commercialization and service learning,” she stated. “I began asking myself ‘how do I teach these students to be entrepreneurial as engineers?’” In order to prepare for her next pivot, she went back to school and earned a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from Rady School of Business at UCSD.

“During that time,” Mah details, “my father passed away. He was an entrepreneur in Venezuela. I received an inheritance. Instantly, I became an investor. I didn’t want to buy a new house, I wanted to purposefully ‘give it away’. I thought this was pretty cool because as an entrepreneurial advocate, and a startup advocate, I knew access to capital is the number one thing that is so challenging for entrepreneurs. I also saw women are not getting enough funding, but I could actually make a big impact with the inheritance I received. So I became an investor in only female and minority-led startups. Fast forward, I have 21 companies in my portfolio.”

Working as a scientist enabled her to develop a strong foundation, which ultimately made it easier for her to transition to the investment world. “There are two things going on here,” Mah recollects. “One is a practical thing, and the other one’s more strategic. The practical aspect is that a lot of investors, or what I come up against, is that the science part of it, or the engineering part of it is a little bit daunting. Most investors have had great businesses and they understand the business side of it [investing], and then they come to the science part. They’re like, ‘oh, my gosh, I don’t understand it.’ For me, I understand the science part because I’ve been in the field.”

“The strategic part of it,” she continues, “is more that the scientific method is similar to the business development method.”

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

These 50 founders and VCs suggest 2018 may be a tipping point for women: Part 1

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For the last several years, we’ve compiled profiles of women founders and investors at the end of each year because they’ve either raised substantial amounts of money or otherwise achieved notable milestones.

This year, we don’t want to wait until December. We’re too excited about the progress we’re witnessing, with women-led startups getting seed, Series A or later-stage funding each week — all while top venture firms grow more serious about pulling women into their most senior ranks, female VCs band together to fund female founders and other women go about launching their own funds.

Some of you will note that this list is far from comprehensive, and we’ll readily agree with you. But we think it’s better to celebrate the accomplishments of some of the women who deserve attention than try to capture every last person we’d include if only there were more hours in the day.

Herewith, a list of 25 founders and investors who’ve had a pretty good 2018 so far, with a second list of women in the industry coming shortly, so stay tuned.

Brynn Putnam, founder and CEO of Mirror

Harvard grad Brynn Putnam was once a professional ballet dancer, but she may eventually find more fame as a serial founder. Two years after her last performance in 2008 with a ballet company in Montreal, Putnam started a New York-boutique fitness studio, Refine Method, around a high-intensity, interval workout. It would later sprout into three studios in New York and attract the likes of Kelly Ripa and Ivana Trump.

Now, Putnam is using its founding principal — that gym users can wring more from their workout hours — to build yet another business called Mirror. Centered around an at-home device, it looks like a mirror but enables users to see an instructor and classmates for fitness routines like Pilates, all while tracking their performance on screen. Mirror isn’t available to buy yet, but investors are already sold, providing the company with $13 million in funding earlier this year so it can bring its product to fitness buffs everywhere.

Ritu Narayan, co-founder and CEO of Zūm

Ritu Narayan led product management at stalwart tech companies, including Yahoo and eBay, but her biggest challenge eventually became how to ensure that her kids got to where they needed to go during her working hours. She knew she wasn’t alone; there are roughly 73 million children under age 18 in the U.S., many of whom are driven around by frenzied parents who are trying to make it through each day.

Enter Zūm, a now 3.5-year-old company that promises reliable transportation and care for children ages five and older. Zūm isn’t the first kind of Uber for kids. In fact, another competitor, Shuddle, shuttered in 2016 after burning through more than $12 million in funding. But Narayan’s company appears to be doing something right. Earlier this year, Zūm raised $19 million in Series B funding, including from earlier backer Sequoia Capital, which is famously metric driven.

The company has now raised $26.8 million altogether.

Daniela Perdomo, co-founder and CEO, goTenna

When Hurricane Sandy cut off power in and around New York City in the fall of 2012, Daniela Perdomo  and her brother, Jorge, were struck by the need for a network that would enable people to call or text even when there’s no Wi-Fi or cell signal. Today, that company, goTenna, is taking off, powered by an early device it created that pairs with a cell phone via Bluetooth to transmit messages using radio frequencies, along with a newer version of the device that allows them to create a kind of mesh network.

To date, the company has sold more than 100,000 units of its devices. It has raised roughly $17 million from VCs. In May, the company also partnered with an outfit called Samourai Wallet to launch an Android app that, beginning this summer, will enable users to send bitcoin payments without an internet connection. The move could prove crucial for some of its customers, particularly in disaster areas.

Chloe Alpert, CEO and co-founder of Medinas Health

Hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of surplus medical supplies are discarded every year, according to Chloe Alpert, the founder of Medinas Health, a Berkeley, Calif.-based startup that uses inventory data and matching software to help big hospitals sell excess equipment to small clinics and nursing homes.

Alpert thinks Medinas can create cost savings for both sides by creating something that’s fast and trustworthy and working with third parties who can disassemble, ship and re-assemble medical equipment.

Investors believe her surplus marketplace has a shot. Her 10-month-old company raised $1 million in funding earlier this year, including from Sound Ventures, Rough Draft Ventures, Precursor Ventures and Trammell Ventures.

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, co-founder of Promise

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins was raised by a single mom who occasionally fed her two daughters with food stamps before a union job enabled the three to escape welfare. But that formative experience made a lasting impact. In fact, after graduating from college, Ellis-Lamkins worked for a union that helped organize low-wage home care. By the time she was 26, she was head of the San Jose-based South Bay Labor Council.

Ellis-Lamkins is far from done in her work to ensure that the disadvantaged can prosper. Her newest project: working in partnership with governments that release people from jail on condition that they work with her company, Promise. The big idea: Promise provides support to people caught in the criminal justice system to ensure they can return to their jobs and families until their case in resolved, rather than remain incarcerated because they can’t afford bail. The latter scenario happens all too often, agree VCs. Toward that end, earlier this year a handful of investors — including First Round Capital, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, 8VC and Kapor Capital — provided Promise with $3 million to help put an end to it.

Continue onto Tech Crunch to read the complete article.

How to prepare your kids for jobs that don’t exist yet

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Artificial Intelligence will rule the jobs of the future, so learning how to work with it will be key. But the skills needed might not be what you expect.

With total robot domination seemingly impending, preparing the next generation for the future of work can feel like a lost cause. But fear not, the future may be brighter than expected.

“There’s three job opportunities coming in the future,” says Avi Goldfarb, coauthor of Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial IntelligenceHe divides them up into people who build artificial intelligence, people who tell the machines what to do and determine what to do with their output, and, finally, celebrities. This last category comprises actors, sports players, artists, writers, and other such luminaries surrounding the entertainment industry.

2017 report from Gartner concludes that artificial intelligence will create more jobs than it kills. In particular, the report singles out healthcare and education as areas ripe for growth. But the handling of artificial intelligence is where Goldfarb thinks an overwhelming number of those new jobs will be created. He thinks even human-centric positions in nursing and education will require a proficient understanding of artificially intelligent tools as the technology becomes a more routine facet of those jobs. For example, to assist with home healthcare for elderly populations, little robots have emerged to help patients remember to take their medications or go for a walk. These bots are still nascent, but it’s not hard to imagine a world in which nurses have to understand how to help patients set reminders or even be able to communicate with these devices remotely as a way of checking in on a patient as part of their jobs.

“The most valuable combinations of skills are going to be people who both have good training in computer science, who know how the machines work, but also understand the needs of society and the organization, and so have an understanding of humanities and social sciences,” he says. “That combination, already in the market, is where the biggest opportunities are.”

HUMANITIES

So how does one prepare to lead these artificially intelligent machines into the new world? Oddly enough, a liberal arts education might be the best antidote to automation, says Goldfarb. While he believes that most people will need a basic understanding of computer science, he thinks that studying art, philosophy, history, sociology, psychology, and neuroscience could be key to preparing for the future. These studies will help young people to have a broad range of knowledge that they can use to put artificial intelligence to its best use.

Experts who study the future of work agree that our ability to make sense of the world is our biggest asset in the wake of automation. While artificial intelligence is good at narrow, repetitive tasks, humans are good at coming up with creative solutions. Anything you can do to get your child thinking creatively will no doubt help prepare her for joining the working world.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

Manufacturing: A High-Paying ‘New Collar’ Career

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Women in Manufacturing

We’ve heard of white collar jobs and blue collar jobs, but “new collar” jobs? There’s a new trend in employment, and it’s in career fields that don’t necessarily require a college degree but require a specific set of highly technical skills.

In manufacturing, there is a tremendous opportunity for new collar workers to be well paid as they fill hundreds of thousands of vacancies. And the time to take advantage of this opportunity is now.

“Today in America, manufacturers need to fill some 364,000 jobs. Over the next 7 to 8 years, we’ll need to fill around 3.5 million, according to a study from Deloitte and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Manufacturing Institute,” says NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “But two million of those jobs could go unfilled because we haven’t upskilled enough workers.”

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty was the first to urge politicians and business leaders to not think in terms of white or blue collar jobs, but to broadly consider these future unfilled positions as “new collar” jobs—jobs that don’t require a traditional 4-year degree but do require a good amount of skill. Manufacturing is a great new collar career choice, and here’s why.

Well paying positions. According to the National Tooling & Machining Association (NTMA), those in a manufacturing-related job in America tend to make an average of $15,000 more per year than other job fields. This extra amount of money alone can pay for rent, a new car, or help to significantly pay off school or other related debts, while still having money left over each year. More money for vacations, or saving to get to retirement faster.

Flexible work environment with a changing technological and social landscape. Machinist jobs are well known to have a casual dress code, which is usually comprised of thick t-shirts, jeans and hoodies, due to the work environments they expose themselves to. There are also lots of young machinists working today who have tattoos, piercings, and an overall unconventional look, which is completely fine with most manufacturing shop floor employers.

There is also the flexibility in being able to bring these skills to any manufacturing shop floor.

With the industry getting younger, it is also easier for people in this job field to not only find their niche community within the realm social media, but for employers to reach new talent via the platforms of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and beyond.

Less time in school after high school, and you can often learn the trade during high school. While there is a serious need of resources for STEM learning (science, tech, engineering and math) for youth these days, there are some resources that can be highlighted as great examples.

For any classroom environment, it is highly recommended that educators check out the video platform called Edge Factor, which has an abundance of resources to let young people discover what they would like about working in this industry. There is also the Cardinal Manufacturing program from the Eleva-Strum School District – it’s a real machine shop high school kids can work in, and that school district also has a very progressive Digital Learning Initiative to keep these kids up to pace with current technology.

The great news is that to get a job in the manufacturing field working at a machine, a college degree is not necessary. Most employers will look for certifications, or may even offer an apprenticeship, to get new talent through the door. To gain certifications, there are online colleges, community colleges, and even vendors who offer these valuable certification learning resources, as well as the program Workshops for Warriors for military veterans.

Source: monster.com; Alliance for American Manufacturing; nam.org

How Vimeo’s 34-Year-Old CEO Mastered The Nonlinear Career Path

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The gifts of the digital age are wildly abundant. We have in our pockets the ability to teach ourselves anything, meet people and build communities across the globe and an endless market for goods and services. This level of access and freedom means you don’t have to follow a traditional career path, but when you are thinking about designing your own, whether right out of college or during a career pivot, this unlimited possibility can be totally overwhelming. It’s the paradox of choice.

“You don’t have to follow a traditional career path. There’s no rule book or playbook for success. Write your own roles. Don’t take people’s paths as the way that you have to do things. You have to do it yourself.”

This is Anjali Sud’s advice for us. And as Vimeo’s CEO at 34, she is undoubtedly the master of the non-linear career. “I did everything from investment banking to being a toy buyer to marketing diapers online to coming to Vimeo to do marketing and finding myself in my dream job now as the CEO.”

But how do you create a strategy for building a non-linear career without a playbook? And, how do you advocate for your work when you’re new to a field or if you have the skills but not the experience? I sat down with Anjali Sud at Collision in New Orleans to learn about her journey to the C-Suite and what she’s learned along the way.

When you started your career, did you see your path as non-linear? How did this shift for you over time?

I wish I had known that careers aren’t linear. When you’re young and in school, you work so hard and there is sort of a linear path. You know? You find a major and you specialize in it, you try to get a job. And then when you get out in the workforce, there can sometimes be this pressure — especially when you look at people around you. I remember, right out of college, I wanted to be an investment banker and I couldn’t get a job at a big bank. I got rejected by every big bank. And so you start to feel like, “If I don’t get the job at Goldman Sachs, I’ll never be able to become an operator and do what I want to do.” When I look back at my career path it was incredibly not linear. I wish I had known that so I wouldn’t stress out so much about not having a perfect path or not getting that job interview. Instead, having the faith that you can affect your career path at any point and realizing that opportunities come from places you could never imagine. I wish I had known that. I think I would have been more chill.

When you realized you wanted to transition from finance into operations, you hit a couple of walls — namely companies who didn’t want to give you a shot without this experience. How did you navigate this and end up as an operator at Amazon?

I met with a bunch of startups in NYC and asked them what skill sets they thought were most transferable between finance and operations. One recommendation I got was to try business development as a good “transition” function. The reason is that business development often requires deal-making skills – something I had picked up in finance – but it also involves a deep operational understanding of the business and its growth strategy. So, I applied for a summer internship at Amazon in business development. I worked my butt off that summer and got a full-time offer to join the business development team, but instead asked to take on an operational role. Because I had gotten my foot in the door and proved myself, Amazon was willing to give me a shot as an operator, first in a merchandising role, and then in marketing.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Cliché Answers to the Most Common Interview Questions

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Women-job-interview

By Brianna Flavin

The internet offers a massive amount of job interview advice, sample questions and potential responses. When you are trying to land a job, it’s easy to devour this advice in bulk, but that might actually be more detrimental to your career than you realize.

What’s resulted is hiring managers hearing the same cliché responses over and over again. When your objective is to learn about applicants to determine if they will be a good fit for the position, and they all say their biggest flaw is “perfectionism,” it’s frustrating, to say the least.

As a job seeker, you want to do your homework and come to the interview prepared to answer the most common interview questions. But how can you avoid sounding like an echo of every other candidate?

“The preferred response to any question is one that is honest and upfront,” says staffing and onboarding coach Jen Teague. Ideally, your circumstances, interests and aspirations will factor into every answer, leaving your interviewer with a clear and accurate impression of who you are.

To get you started in the right direction—and to help you steer clear of some responses that could leave a bad impression—we asked hiring managers to share the most cliché answers they encounter when interviewing job candidates. See what the folks in the hiring seats are sick of hearing and their advice on how to craft a more impressive response.

  1. Why would you excel at this job?

What NOT to say: “I like working with people.”

“This is one of the most robotic answers a candidate could provide,” according to Beth Tucker, CEO of KNF&T Staffing Resources. She says though it might seem like a friendly answer, it doesn’t actually reveal anything about you as a person or employee.

“Most people like to work with other people,” Tucker explains. “Instead of saying this, try thinking of the core message you’re trying to communicate.” Are you an especially strong communicator? Do you work harder when you’re collaborating with coworkers on a project? Do you enjoy delegating responsibility?

“You’re much better off giving an example that demonstrates your abilities,” Tucker says.

A better approach: Talk about a team project where you interacted with a diverse group of people—or difficult people. This will have a much bigger impact and make a better impression on the interviewer.

  1. What do you know about our company?

What NOT to say: “Not much. I was hoping you could tell me.”

“This answer highlights your lack of initiative and preparation,” says Mike Smith, founder of SalesCoaching1. He urges to always do your research on any company you are interviewing with and come prepared to dazzle.

A better approach: Smith suggests a statement that displays what you understand about the company and what you might still want clarification on. An example is, “I found your annual report and noticed your company has grown your market share and is opening other branches. What is the next location planned?”

  1. Why do you want to be in this business?

What NOT to say: “It looks like a cool company to work for.”

This vague enthusiasm also reveals a lack of research. Smith says experienced interviewers hear this same answer time and time again. Why would you prefer to work for this company, rather than some of their competitors? Even if you do plan to interview at both companies, you are better off being specific.

A better approach: “I have done a lot of research in this marketplace. Your company and your competitors (name them) are in the fastest growing sector. I want to be a part of that growth.”

  1. Why did you apply for this position?

What NOT to say: “I want to get my career started.”

“The worst cliché answer I receive is something along the lines of, ‘I’m not picky about my position; I just want a chance to work,’” says Shell Harris, President of Big Oak Studios Inc. He says this kind of answer typically comes from the mouths of college graduates having difficulty landing their first job.

“When I hear this response, I am thinking this person is desperate to work and will say anything to get any job, even a job they may not like,” Harris says. He adds that this is often an indicator that the candidate will continue job searching even if he or she does land the position. He believes applicants who have specific expectations about what kind of work they will do in the company come off much better.

“It tells me they understand what we do, how they can help and, most importantly, that they want to be a part of the company,” Harris says. “Sure, I believe they want to work, but they aren’t being honest with me or themselves if they say they’ll take any job.”

A better approach: Talk about what the role you’re applying for does for you. Could it help you develop a skill you’re hoping to sharpen? Does it align with your strengths or expertise? What excites you about the position?

  1. What is your biggest weakness as an employee?

What NOT to say: “I’m a perfectionist.”

This is one of the biggest clichés out there in interviewing world. “The age-old advice about spinning any negative about yourself into a positive only works when it’s specific,” says Gail Abelman, recruiter at Staffing Perfection.

“I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard people tell me, ‘I’m a perfectionist,’ or ‘I’m too honest,’” she says. “These are about as cliché and phony as it gets.”

“You can tell immediately when people are not being genuine,” says Rebecca Baggett, Director of Human Resources at Bigger Pockets. She says responses like ‘I’m a perfectionist’ or ‘I’m too loyal’ really communicate either a lack of honesty or a lack of self-awareness. “I always appreciate when a candidate says, ‘I messed up and this is how I corrected the situation,’” she says.

Ableman advises telling a story to answer this kind of question. It will sound more personal and realistic, and you will provide your interviewer with a better picture of who you are and what it will be like to hire you.

A better approach: Describe an issue you experienced at a previous job, the problem you had solving it and the steps you took to ultimately overcome it.

  1. What are your long-term goals?

What NOT to say: “I want to move up within the company.”

Advancement might seem like the only right answer to give to this question, but thinking of your goals in terms of a one line track to the top is actually rather limiting. Teague says personal goals as well as professional goals can play into your answer here, particularly if they could intersect (i.e., Wanting to learn another language).

Once again, get specific. Your interviewer wants to know what motivates you. Try to think beyond a larger paycheck and detail some goals that make you excited about what you do.

A better approach: Explain that you’re motivated to advance as a professional, and list some particular goals you’d like to achieve (both personal and professional).

  1. Do you have any questions for me?

What NOT to say: “No, I think you covered them all.”

This answer if often on the tip of everyone’s jittery tongue at the close of an interview, but it reveals no preparation or willingness to research the industry, according to Smith. As this is often the question that will conclude the interview, your response has the potential to leave a particularly lasting impression.

Smith suggests thanking interviewers for what they did cover and offering at least one, in-depth question. You can riff off something they already mentioned in the interview or bring up something you found in your research. “This shows a business maturity and a professional approach,” Smith adds.

A better approach: Ask about a recent announcement you encountered in your research or ask the interviewer about what brought them to the company.

About Rasmussen College

Rasmussen College is a regionally accredited private college that is dedicated to changing lives and the communities it serves through high-demand and flexible educational programs. Since 1900, the College has been committed to academic innovation and empowering students to pursue a college degree. Rasmussen College offers certificate and diploma programs through associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in seven schools of study including business, health sciences, nursing, technology, design, education and justice studies.

Source: Rasmussen.edu/student-life/blogs/college-life/cliche-answers-to-the-most-common-interview-questions

Rahmaan Mwongozi teaches how to apply systems analysis to problems that arise in life as well as in business

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Rahmaan Mwongozi "Roc"

Rahmaan Mwongozi “Roc” is a motivational speaker and podcast host, as well as the author of Inner Demons. He guides individuals not only on how to ask smart questions and follow the trail to solutions, but also on how to embody a “no excuses” attitude that manifests in excellence.

His innovative approach to problem-solving, however, began as a young boy in East Oakland, where he was surrounded by poverty, gangs, violence, and drugs. Determined not to fall into the trappings of his environment, Roc followed the trail of possibility and opportunity, playing the long game and working hard. Now living the dream, Roc openly shares his story, as well as his thinking and strategy, with those who want something more from life.

Today an independent business analyst on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Roc cut his teeth on Fortune 500 corporations including Pfizer, Enron, and AT&T – where as an entry level employee in his early 20s, he solved systemic problems that had eluded management for years.

At 40, he took pause and reflected on his life to date. A systems analyst by trade, as well as by nature, Roc was eager not only to analyze his life internally but also to offer his journey as a case study in the human experience –leading him to write his debut book, Inner Demons, with a raw and gritty transparency. While the particulars of our lives may vary according to circumstance, Roc knew, we all face universal challenges, as part of the human quest to cultivate a successful, meaningful, and authentic life.

Through Inner Demons, Roc shares his transformational journey, Inner Demonsinspiring readers to rethink life in terms of possibility, creativity, and strategy, instead of obstacles, compliance, and defeat. Not just a good read but also a work of art, the book is illustrated by tattoo artist Eva of Bang Bang NYC, whose A-list clients include Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, and Justin Bieber.

At the heart of systems analysis is the awareness of relationship, where one recognizes not only all the moving parts and the big picture, but also their position in relation to each other and to oneself. So it’s no surprise that Roc’s book reads like a love story and is, at the core, about relationship – to and between self, family, friends, lovers, work, community, and society. Offering Roc’s own relationship web, and thread of choices within that web, as a model of how to honestly face a problem, ask smart questions about it, and follow the trail of answers to the optimal solution,

Inner Demons storytelling weaves together a blueprint for self-analysis and problem solving, applicable to diverse situations in life and business. In his own case, Roc’s problem-solving and “no excuses” mindset enabled him to avoid the trappings of his East Oakland neighborhood, where poverty, gangs, violence, and drugs took many down the rabbit hole of despair. Keeping his distance and planning his escape, Roc paid attention to where the power and resources lay, then went after them with gusto –leading him to an MBA degree, work with Fortune 500 corporations, and ultimately, the good life in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Roc now leverages his power, influence, and platform to foster a community of cutting-edge artists and thinkers, who are not afraid to grab life by the lapel and “go there.”

Find out more about Roc and Inner Demons at RocsWorld.com.

The iGen iEverything Train is Coming, but Are You Ready?

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iGen

Technology is being consumed at an ever increasing rate causing executives, managers, and process improvement experts on the factory floor to re-define the methods of training and dissemination that have become obsolete.

Critical skills and tribal knowledge are being lost as boomers retire and training plans for new employees fall short of preparing workers for the sophistication of the new manufacturing environment.

Move over millennials, here comes the IGen! Born between 1995 and 2005 this group of tech savvy natives is the next cohort and are just now entering the workforce. IGen, or Gen Z as they are often referred, have grown up in a world of social media where Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter reign supreme. These kids are a force to be reckoned with and require access to information in ways that are familiar, immediate, and actionable. Our success depends on them because as the IGen goes, so goes the manufacturing industry, the nation, and the world.

Alliance Resource Group, in partnership with Sify Technologies has pulled together experts from manufacturing, academia and automated methodologies to develop a solution that addresses the manufacturing challenge of this next generation and identifies the key components of a successful framework including content management, dissemination methodology, scalability, and integration with current learning management systems. These components constitute a micro-learning strategy that facilitates current and future state requirements.

Alliance Resource Group (ARG), is a service disabled veteran owned business located in Newport Beach California. With a foundation in resource management, recruiting, and consulting, ARG provides services to small and medium size companies throughout the United States.

View the ARG White Paper here! Better be prepared for total process transformation if you want to remain competitive.

Female CEO Takes on Tech Industry with Edge Music Network

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Elizabeth Vargas

Diversity in STEAM Magazine (DISM) recently had the pleasure to speak with Elizabeth Vargas, founder and CEO of Edge Music Network.

DISM: Let’s start with the obvious question first: What’s your take on the lack of female leaders in the tech space?

EV: I could give a dozen reasons and even more excuses for our gender’s absence in the C-suite—not only in tech but in nearly every industry—but I won’t. The truth is that no one cares about why you haven’t succeeded; they’re only interested in how you’ve succeeded. That’s where I want to go. I want to focus on the future, and prove that with vision, hustle and commitment that you can break through and achieve your dreams. That’s how I think I can help young and mature female entrepreneurs achieve their goals and dreams.

DISM: Okay. Let’s go there… tell us your story.

EV: As a child, I always loved music and theory but wasn’t allowed to watch TV until I was 13. My dad was a preacher and I think he thought that delaying my exposure would protect me from the outside world. So, it’s kind of funny that, of all programs, I got hooked on MTV. I remember thinking I would own it one day! That was my big dream– which eventually evolved into what is now Edge Music Network.

DISM: A lot must have happened between “one day” and now…

EV: In between, I gravitated to all things music, first studying jazz vocals at the Cornish College of the Arts and then creating the Vargas Girls Jazz Cabaret in Seattle–where we played in nightclubs. My experience in the music industry paved the way for Edge Music Network to acquire the content libraries of some of the largest music publishers in the world.

DISM: Has there been anyone who has helped you along the way to achieve your big dream?

EV: I get asked that question often. People assume since I’m a successful female CEO and entrepreneur, I have a powerful man or group backing me. It was the exact opposite. I had everyone around me including those closest to me telling me to quit while I was ahead and it couldn’t be done and to give up on a regular basis. But I can tell you, everything I’ve achieved has been of my own sheer will, passion and desire to work hard– beginning with the Vargas Girls. I had a day job testing software, which came naturally to me. Being tech-savvy helped me launch our first website and later, my own digital channels like YouTube live video, where I live-streamed and interviewed bands and rock legends—all while keeping focus on becoming the next MTV. The only thing that changed for me was the platform. Television wasn’t the only game in town.

DISM: Speaking of the only game in town, explain Edge Music Network and how it diverges from other music video platforms like Spotify and Vevo.

EV: Edge Music Network (EMN) globally streams premium music video content from top-tier distribution partners and independent artists. But it’s more than a free platform for fans to watch their favorite music videos and entertainment programming. EMN offers fans access—from phones, tablets, computers and TVs—to the music and artists they love while providing artists and record labels with the royalties they deserve. We’ve completely flipped the compensation structure of platforms like Spotify and Vevo that give artists 10 percent or less of the profit share. We ensure a 90/10 split in the artists’ favor. On top of that, because EMN believes in the transformative power of music, we dedicate 10 percent of ad revenue to charitable causes such as those that feed the hungry, house the homeless and help victims of natural disasters.

DISM: Sounds like you found a straight path to your dream. Was it really so simple?

EV: It has been anything but simple. I spent years learning how to navigate application development, digital rights agreements, content licensing and distribution and how to acquire the content libraries of some of the largest music publishers in the world to bring EMN to life. But it’s the decades of relationship-building with my partners, advisors, record labels and artists that serve as the foundation of EMN.

DISM: What’s your advice for women today who want to pursue a career or start-up in tech?

EV: Today, every business is tied to technology, whether you work behind a desk, with your hands, your voice or your heart. So, to say there are few women in tech will eventually become a thing of the past. What may remain unchanged is the lack of female LEADERS in tech and that’s a personal choice. It’s up to each one of us to find our passion, find a mentor, find a way to achieve our goals, whatever the odds or the required education. Learn it. Do it. Fail. Get back up and do it again. And again. And that’s never easy. But it’s certainly fulfilling.

About Elizabeth Vargas:
Elizabeth Vargas is the founder and CEO of Edge Music Network, a music video streaming service providing live and on-demand content through a video syndication platform. After studying jazz vocal and music theory at Cornish College of the Arts and attending Bellevue University to study international business and media technology, Vargas combined her passions and pursued a career in the music industry. Over several years, Vargas was able to learn the ins and outs of application development, which allowed her to effectively lead the development and engineering of EMN’s platform. She has decades of experience architecting and brokering digital rights agreements between content creators and publishers to ensure equitable revenue share and royalty distribution and has worked with industry leaders to fight for fair compensation structures to keep the music alive—all of which paved the way for Edge Music Network. With deep working knowledge in content licensing and distribution, application development, as well as strong industry partnerships, Vargas acquired the content libraries of some of the largest music publishers in the world to bring to life the Edge Music Network app that gives artists the royalties and respect they deserve while giving fans access to the music they love—anytime, anywhere, from any device.

With philanthropy at the core of Edge Music Network, Vargas has built one of the most technologically advanced platforms to bring people together with the power of music while providing support to charitable organizations that feed the hungry, aid victims of natural disasters and support homeless veterans. For more information, visit edgemusic.com. Download the app at Apple ITunes Store and Google Play.