How Do You Make a Living, Entrepreneur?

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By Noah Davis

Caterina Fake is an unlikely entrepreneur. The co-founder of start-ups like Flickr, Hunch, and Findery graduated from Vassar with an English degree and spent most of her 20s backpacking around South America. Eventually, however, she found her way to the Internet, where she married her artistic sensibilities with her interest in technology. The rest is photo-sharing history. She talked to Pacific Standard about skipping class, the value of a liberal arts education, and the most difficult language to learn.

What was your education like growing up?

I loved learning and sometimes school got in the way of learning. My grades reflected that. If I loved a teacher and was learning a lot, my grades were as high as they could be. If the teacher was uninspired or reading from a textbook, I didn’t bother going. I read everything, all the time, and was always writing my own books and making a lot of art. We recorded radio shows and wrote software. Creating, not consuming.

Did you feel like you were smarter than your classmates?

This is a dangerous question to answer affirmatively. I was in a gifted children’s program in 4th and 5th grade, and went to college when I was 11, through the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. But I didn’t like being called “gifted;” it felt weird.

You went to a liberal arts college. Why did you choose to do that? How do you think that impacted the rest of your career?

If it were not for the liberal arts, I would not be who I am. I learned how to write, read, ask questions. I learned to cultivate sensitivity to people and their individual selves. I learned to observe and understand. So much of life is expended in working and being entertained, and it’s important to learn to be alive to the world around you.

Do you read for pleasure? If so, what?

I read, but I wouldn’t say it’s solely for pleasure, as I also read for edification, information, enlightenment, epiphany. Reading, if you’re doing it right, transforms you. Right now I am reading Infinite Jest, one of those books everyone owns, but nobody’s read. I am not enjoying it. When I see it on the bedside table, again, I feel dread.

You’ve found success combining art and technology. Why do you think you’ve been so successful melding the two together? Is there something about the way that you think and see connections that has made you successful?

Conveniently, I love both art and technology. Loving things makes it easy to make decisions about what to do. In addition to building my own start-ups, I’ve been able to invest in other people’s companies that combine the creative with the technological, such as Etsy and Kickstarter, which are also worthy of love. I am drawn to such businesses. They manage to find me too, because of this affinity.

What’s one thing you’d like to learn? Do you still pursue formal education or does it come more haphazardly through your career?

I’ve been studying Finnish for the past couple years. We go to Finland often. We opened a cafe in Helsinki this past summer. The children speak Finnish, and I love languages. Finnish is by far the most difficult thing I have ever attempted to learn, and that includes calculus. I wasn’t good at calculus either, but I was less invested in learning it. I’ve studied Chinese, Latin, French, and Spanish, but Finnish is so hard, I have nearly given up a dozen times. I have to take a month off, periodically, before I can return for more punishment.

I also like learning various musical instruments. I can play a few stringed instruments (guitar, ukulele, piano, violin, banjo), all of them badly. I like singing, dancing, and camping.

What are you working on now?

Kahvila Siili, in Helsinki. Findery, in San Francisco. Homeschooling, all over the world. Writing. Thinking. Making art. Reading. Some of these don’t really seem like work. I just joined the Sundance board. I am excited about movies again!

In one interview you said, “I don’t think my parents were very optimistic about my post-college opportunities.” Has that opinion changed?

After college I spent a lot of time backpacking around South America, and doing odd jobs. I was only sporadically employed. And I didn’t find the Internet as a place to work until I was in my late 20s. Many years have transpired between then and now. Things have worked out for me! But I’m not a trophy collector, and I was born on third base. I count my blessings.

Who should I talk to next?

[Groupon founder] Andrew Mason. He’s another awesome, liberal arts loving entrepreneur. He is also funny. Ask him about the state of literature, music, and media.

Source: psnmag.com, https://psmag.com/how-do-you-make-a-living-entrepreneur-a3a6457d0c66

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.

Richer Than Oprah: How The Nation’s Wealthiest African-American Conquered Tech And Wall Street

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robert f smith

It’s a Saturday afternoon, at the height of vacation season, in one of South Beach’s hottest hotels, and Robert Smith, the founder of Vista Equity Partners, is dressed like exactly no one within a 100-mile radius of Miami: in a three-piece suit.His signature outfit–today, it’s gray plaid, accented by an indigo tie and a pink paisley pocket square–apparently doesn’t take a day off, and Smith isn’t taking one now either. He’s gathered dozens of CEOs from his portfolio companies, software firms all, for a semiannual weekend off-site to drill them in the ways he expects his companies to operate.

It’s not just the suit that’s unusual. Private equity firms almost never treat their portfolio companies, transactional chits by design, like an organic cohort. And until recently, PE, a field built on borrowing against cash-generating assets, wouldn’t touch software firms, which offer little that’s tangible to collateralize. Yet Smith has invested only in software over Vista’s 18-year history, as evidenced by the CEOs, like Andre Durand of the security-software maker Ping Identity and Hardeep Gulati of the education-management software company PowerSchool, who have been summoned to Miami Beach, waiting to swap insights about artificial intelligence and other pressing topics. And Smith deploys more than 100 full-time consultants to improve his companies.

“Nobody ever taught these guys the blocking and tackling of running a software company,” says Smith, an engineer by training, as he takes a lunch break at South Beach’s 1 Hotel to nibble on a plant-based burger. “And we do it better than any other institution on the planet.”

Smith includes the likes of Oracle and Microsoft in that boast, and his numbers back up the braggadocio. Since the Austin-based firm’s inception in 2000, Vista’s private equity funds have returned 22% net of fees annually to limited partners, according to PitchBook data. Smith’s annual realized returns, which reflect exits, stand at a staggering 31% net. His funds have already made distributions of $14 billion, including $4 billion in the last year alone.

Not surprisingly given those numbers, Vista has become America’s fastest-growing private equity firm, managing $31 billion across a range of buyout, credit and hedge funds. Smith is putting all that money to work at a breakneck pace, with 204 software acquisitions since 2010, more than any tech company or financial firm in the world. After finishing an $11 billion fundraising for its latest flagship buyout fund last year, Smith has already deployed more than half of it, focusing as usual on business-to-business software. “They recognize it’s a kind of central nervous system,” says Michael Milken, whose bond-market innovations basically birthed the modern private equity industry and who has been a co-investor in two Vista deals. Taken together, Vista’s portfolio, with 55,000 employees and more than $15 billion in revenue, ranks as the fourth-largest enterprise software company in the world.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

The Three Smartest Ways To Use LinkedIn Early In Your Career

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person using ipad

Why bother using LinkedIn when you don’t have much job experience to put on your profile page? Here’s why–and how to do it.

LinkedIn is a great place to build a network, diversify your knowledge, and find new career opportunities–even when you’re early in your career. Students and recent grads may neglect LinkedIn, thinking it’s premature to start investing time into the platform before actually building up a solid amount of work experience. That’s a mistake.

I’ve found unexpected opportunities lurking within LinkedIn that simply require some ingenuity to take advantage of. Here are a few tips that have worked for me in the past few years I’ve spent in the tech industry after graduating.

1. START NETWORKING CONVERSATIONS YOU CAN TAKE OFFLINE

Yes, LinkedIn is kind of like a database. You load it up with information on your interests, objectives, skills, and accomplishments so the leaders and peers you connect with can tell what you’re all about. Obviously, when someone checks out your profile, you’ll want it to be thorough and compelling.

But all the work you put into your profile is just a springboard for reaching out to other professionals in your industry. Whenever you come across someone you’d like to connect with on LinkedIn, your real objective should be to take the conversation you strike up offline as quickly as possible. Don’t treat LinkedIn the way you might operate on Instagram, racking up contacts you have no intention of interacting with in the real world.

LinkedIn is a means to an end, and that end goal should always be real-time conversations–ideally face to face, or by phone if necessary when you live in different places and don’t plan to visit soon. Using LinkedIn to set up face-to-face meetings with new people is a crucial and underutilized tactic for younger professionals working to build their networks in a meaningful way.

2. TREAT LINKEDIN LIKE A FREE SEMINAR

Learning quickly at a new job is one of the most exciting and daunting tasks entry- and associate-level workers usually face. First you have to learn your role and size up the work culture. Then you’ve got to get a handle on the industry and understand how your company is competing in the market. LinkedIn can actually help you with all of that.

So search for and join groups, follow leaders, comment on conversations, and share interesting stories. You can start by following industry-specific groups, first as an observer, and then as a participant as you get more comfortable. Make sure you also pay attention to what your company and its competitors are posting. Staying engaged–even by checking in on the chatter just once a week or so–can help you stay informed and ahead of the game.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

7 Tips for Succeeding as a Freelance Tech Business Owner

LinkedIn

If you’re passionate about computers, possess a background in information technology, are naturally analytical, good at problem solving, or have a gift for attention to detail, there are a few freelancing paths in the tech arena that may be just right for you. Trained technicians command high dollar figures, and hanging out your shingle as a freelance tech expert can be an attractive option.

It’s important to understand that having a technical skill to market and knowing where to look for your first freelancing jobs are just the start. Employers looking to hire freelancers on job sites generally want skilled workers who are experienced or have a positive feedback rating on the site in question.

A good strategy to build a portfolio and client base is to accept jobs paying less than you’re really worth at first in order to get your foot in the door, do good work, and receive positive reviews. Build a reputation this way, then start going after better-paying jobs charging what you’re really worth. Freelance tech people are often scrutinized a little more thoroughly than other types of freelancers. Getting those first few jobs under your belt with positive feedback will make your journey a lot easier.

Another virtual guarantee with tech freelancing is that you’ll likely be interviewed before prospects make the decision to hire you. For that reason, it’s important to develop quality interviewing skills and keep an updated resume. This becomes more true as the type of technology services you’re providing become more advanced. Coding a piece of software for someone is a whole different arena from writing a report for them to give away.

As a freelancer, you’ll be competing with many other people for jobs, so it’s incumbent upon you to not only present yourself well, but also make it clear that it would be a mistake NOT to hire you! Here are several tips to help make that a reality.

1. Assemble a killer personal portfolio.

This one can be a bit tricky at the outset, as you need to make sure you have permission to show work you’ve done previously for an employer as a sample of your work. Going forward, make sure anything you do as a freelancer you have the right to show. Be careful about signing NDAs (nondisclosure agreements), as they can sometimes restrict you from showing your best work. Put your best, most recent work in your portfolio, and make both a print and online version of it for best results.

2. Get glowing recommendations.

Ask clients to give you written or video testimonials, as these can very often make the difference in whether you’re considered for a job. If you’ve done quality work for them, this should be no problem. Moreover, they’ll be likely to use you again and again, as well as refer you to others.

3. Be sure to charge what you’re worth.

Once you have some freelance jobs under your belt, decide on your base rate and stick to it. You understand what the work entails, and your clients don’t. Explain what they’re getting for their money, and demonstrate why you’re worth it. You’ll always get clients who will lowball you, and who will expect you to do a job on the cheap with the promise of more and better-paying work in the future. This almost never works out, so be willing to decline jobs.

4. Diversify your client base.

It’s essential that you diversify your client base as much as you can. It’s great to have clients who have projects so large that they eat up most or all of your time, but there will come a day when either you’re done, or they head in another direction.

What do you do then? If you plan to remain a freelancer long term, make it your business to always have a steady stream of leads coming into your business. If your work is in high demand, you can take only the highest-paying jobs or perhaps hire a subcontractor or two and realize a little passive income. Wouldn’t that be a nice problem to have!

Continue onto Entrepreneur to read the complete article.

Sell Yourself and Your Brand

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Creating a personal brand helps employers see your uniqueness

Why take the time to develop a personal brand? See how you can stand out to employers.

  • In a tough job market, you need to stand out. Besides helping you identify your personal strengths, having a brand can pull your resume to the top of the pile, make you shine in interviews, and leave your LinkedIn readers positively wowed.
  • Corporations take great care to develop a brand that defines their product. Brands help inspire trust and commitment in consumers; if you apply similar thinking to your personal brand, you can distinguish your value in a way that inspires an employer’s interest in you.
  • With so many marketing options, you need to be consistent. Use your brand in all your job search communications, including your cover letter, in interviews, and in thank-you notes. Your LinkedIn and other social media should clearly reflect you and your professional brand.
  • Most work is project based. Your brand is a shorthand description of what you bring to a team or to the table for projects.

So, are you ready to start thinking—or rethinking—your personal branding strategy?

Consider several of your best work experiences and how you contributed to them. What skill or characteristic is reflected in your best work stories? How did you use it? With what result? Ask yourself: “Why do people like to work with me or employ me?” What earns you compliments or accolades? What do people depend on you for?

Here are some examples to get you started:

  • Are you friendly and always the one to organize social events at work? Your brand could include “an inveterate team builder and initiator.”
  • Do you take unusual care to ensure details are thoroughly thought through and accurate? Your brand could be “willing to take on the precision that scares others away.”
  • You might be an outstanding supervisor who makes operations flow and brand yourself “a problem-solver who excels at developing talent.”

You can identify your signature characteristics yourself or work with a career coach or counselor to help you identify them. It’s a good idea to ask for some feedback on your ideas from a few trusted friends or colleagues before you go public with your brand to avoid a mismatch of how you see yourself and how you may come across to others.

Source: careeronestop.org