How One Teen Entrepreneur Is Righting History

How One Teen Entrepreneur Is Righting History

access_time Jul/07/2017

When high school student Jason Tifford learned about Teachers Righting History, he knew he had to get involved. The project highlights historic American women in schools around the country. Teachers Righting History is one of several “Righting History” projects led by former Treasurer of the United States, Rosie Rios, as part of her Empowerment 2020 initiative. They sat down with Jessica Abo to talk about how students can hone their entrepreneurial skills today to become tomorrow's leaders. 

Watch more videos from Jessica Abo on her YouTube channel here.

Related: How to Become a Beauty Influencer

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3 Goodwill Gestures to Build Better Business Relationships

Creating strong relationships in business is vital to keeping projects alive, and it can sometimes be tough. But growing a network can also be as easy as a gesture of goodwill.

Find that hard to believe? WeWork recently launched its Creator Awards, a program committed to giving $20 million in grants and cash prizes to startups at various levels. Entrepreneurs and small business owners across the globe are filling out applications, and just for entering, they'll receive a free year of WeWork’s We Membership.

Of course, these awards and memberships are a way for WeWork to draw new customers to the company, but there’s something to be said for marketing via goodwill.

Related: 10 Ways to Say 'Thank You'

Entrepreneurs of every kind can use gestures of goodwill to build or strengthen their relationships with important contacts. And this strategy is not just for businesses that can afford to give away a year of service for free; other means exist for making gifting work for your organization, regardless of its size or budget.

Building relationships through giving

It's true: Many businesses that come to mind when one thinks of "giving back" are larger or offer huge benefits. Take Marketplace One's Leadership X, for example: Brothers Bret and Brad Edson founded the organization after they sold their previous company and decided to host an event that would encourage and support the next generation of Christian leaders.

Executives from top companies flock to the event, which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to put on, because there’s no catch. The goodwill spreads, encouraging others to help out where they can.

But, how can entrepreneurs emulate this gesture if they don’t have millions to give in the first place? They can do it by starting small -- as small as setting a monthly goal to carry out an act of kindness, like taking another entrepreneur out to dinner.

Consider entrepreneur Jayson Gaignard's Mastermind Dinners, for example: At each dinner, Gaignard invited eight to 10 people he believed would be interested in connecting and getting to know one another; then he picked up the dinner tab. Those tabs weren't cheap, and it wasn't always easy for him to cover them, but he saw value in the events.

Once he saw that his dinners idea was succeeding, Gaignard launched Mastermind Talks, a highly curated conference that recently hosted celebrity manager Shep Gordon. Getting an invitation is more difficult than getting into Harvard, what with its acceptance rate being less than one half of 1 percent.

So, there it is: Gaignard is a perfect example of an entrepreneur who poured goodwill into his business relationships even when he couldn't afford it. Of course, going deep into debt as an entrepreneur isn't the way to go, but strategic offerings of goodwill without an expectation of reciprocity often make contacts want to give back.

Related: For Entrepreneurs, The Gift-Giving Season is Year Round

I personally believe that giving gifts and offering gestures of goodwill is essential to success. I recently wanted to solidify a relationship with podcaster John Lee Dumas, who had hosted me on his Top 100 podcast, Entrepreneurs on Fire. As we talked about our morning routines, I mentioned my sauna company, and and he couldn't stop talking about how cool that was. As a fun gesture of goodwill, I later sent him a wooden postcard letting him know a new sauna was on its way to him.

While he unfortunately lacked the space for the gift, he sent it on to his father in Maine, and both of them rave about it. My gift led to a ripple effect, and he became a huge advocate for me.

Learning to give meaningful gifts

A memorable gesture of goodwill, even if the gift is small, can lead to a beneficial relationship with colleagues, contacts and influencers. Here are a few tips entrepreneurs can use when introducing the art of giving into their regular business practices:

1. Play the name game. When it comes to gifts, personalize the item or service. Don’t give someone a brand-oriented or promotion piece -- a gift should be about the recipient, not your company.

My team acts as a concierge to help our clients choose gifts for their clients and employees. When these people see the options we've selected for them, I often hear, "I like this one!" I always immediately ask if the gift is for them or for their client, and they usually respond with a sheepish grin before agreeing to the selection we recommend.

That's normal -- we all shop with our own eyes. But there's something really special about a personalized gift. People plaster their names everywhere, from license plates to coffee cups and monogrammed bags. We love to see our names on the items or "artifacts" we use every day. Remember that next time it's time to give a gift and you're tempted to go generic.

2. Give to other givers. Entrepreneurs should consider giving to others who are likely to give a gift to someone else. Paying it forward is crucial to spreading goodwill through the community.

People who donate their time and money show lower levels of stress and have a deeper sense of well-being, according to Gallup. Volunteering helps boost morale. The Giving Pledge, founded by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates, encourages billionaires to donate half their wealth to charitable organizations. 

Buffett believes he wouldn't enhance his happiness and well-being iif he himself spent more than 1 percent of his income. But he does believe his happiness and well-being are bolstered by charity.

Whether you're giving time or resources to individuals or organizations, the impact of your gift will be much greater if you surround yourself with, and invest in, other givers.

3. Include the inner circle. When I give gifts, I always try to make them family-centric, and I try to include something additional or extra for the recipient's spouse. This acknowledges that the recipients are humans with others around them whom they care about deeply.

An entrepreneur’s spouse is often neglected -- stuck taking care of the kids while the other parent is partaking in a great experience or sitting idly by while the entrepreneur receives showers of gifts.

Entrepreneurs often want to show their spouses their appreciation. Harp Family Institute founder Trisha Harp dedicated her career to studying the effects of entrepreneurship on relationships, and her data confirms that entrepreneurs have significant gratitude for their spouses.

Including the entire family in gift-giving allows entrepreneurs to share with their spouses, thus turning those husbands and wives into cheerleaders.

Related: Gift Ideas for Clients, Coaches, Consultants and Employees

As an entrepreneur, I think it’s important to look for opportunities for giving and goodwill. Pick a time and way to give. Do it really well with whatever time and finances are available. Don’t hold back. Your relationships will grow stronger, and your network will expand organically and exponentially.

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The Journey to Success Is Paved With Self-Discovery

It’s time to decide what it is you really want and go after it. Entrepreneurs have many roadblocks that will surface on the road to success, and their overall victory depends on their tenacity to carry on. In the top of the hour, Ketan Makwana of Enterprise Labs tells us how he went from a corporate employee to owning numerous successful businesses. Then, Dr. Karen Osburn, host of Women Wanting More, explains how her podcast is helping women find their personal power. Last, Order of Man’s Ryan Michler tells about the community he created for men to help them work through their pain and realize their destiny. Master your mind and show up for your life. The journey starts now.

  • [00:00:00] Take a Job, or Be a Boss and Create One
  • [00:06:04] The Struggle Is Real: Get Tough, Get Going
  • [00:11:30] Women Wanting More and Dr. Karen Osburn
  • [00:18:21] Own Your Power and Conquer Your Goals
  • [00:24:21] Make the Journey Out of the Dark Into the Light
  • [00:33:23] Take Responsibility for Your Life to Grow

Related: Be a Better Leader: Build Confidence with Open Communication

Discover more about segments and guests below . . .

[00:00:00] Take a Job, or Be a Boss and Create One

Every once in a while, life throws you curve ball and forces you to choose an unknown path. When it comes to selecting a career, this can be a very scary decision to make. Ketan Makwana, founder of Enterprise Labs, shares his journey from working for someone else to becoming an entrepreneur. He had worked hard for years at a corporation, only to lose his job suddenly during the recession. This left Makwana at a crossroads; should he find a job with someone else or create his own? Makwana went with the latter and after a few years he had sold two companies, and started Enterprise Labs. Are you ready to create the life you dream of? Hear tips on choosing the right fork in the road.

[00:06:04] The Struggle Is Real: Get Tough, Get Going

When everything hits the fan, it’s easy to lose focus on why we started going after our vision in the first place. Don’t give up! Makwana has some advice for entrepreneurs who are struggling and losing hope. Makwana explains how to keep our eyes on the prize, be authentic and disrupt the market to create change. Find out what it takes to hold on when the going gets tough. It will be worth it!

[00:11:30] Women Wanting More and Dr. Karen Osburn

Do you want more? You’re not alone. Many women find themselves feeling lost and disconnected. Dr. Karen Osburn, host of Women Wanting More, tells us about the podcast that she started in hopes of finding a community of women who are searching for fulfillment. After embarking on a mission to ignite passion in her marriage, Osburn wanted to share her personal experiences with the world. She explains that you must take control of your life. Listen for Osburn’s tips on building a social audience, career and the life that you deserve.

[00:18:21] Own Your Power and Conquer Your Goals

Is there something stirring deep within your soul telling you that you want more? Many of us may feel it, but we’re all talk and no action. Achieving your desires only comes by getting clear on what you want and why it matters. There is a point where you must realize that you are the only one who can make a difference in your life, and you have to show up and do the work. Osburn describes her journey to finding peace. Hear Osburn’s inspiring insights on taking the first steps towards braving the unknown.

[00:24:21] Make the Journey Out of the Dark Into the Light

There is no owner’s manual for life -- none of us have it all figured out. We all experience trials and tribulations that can take us to a dark place. How do you steer your life back to a place of light? You need to look inward and take personal responsibility to make some serious changes. Ryan Michler, founder of Order of Man, tells us that we can use our darkness as fuel to shine. How you choose to respond to life’s situations can make or break you. Be the master of your destiny, learn how.

[00:33:23] Take Responsibility for Your Life to Grow

Personal growth is sometimes the hardest challenge to conquer; in order to produce change in your life, you must look inward. If you are willing to share your story, be vulnerable and admit that you don’t have it all figured out, then you will have taken your first step towards discovering your true self. Michler has founded Order or Man to help brave souls take responsibility for their lives. Incredible change is on the horizon -- can you feel it?

Entrepreneur Radio, hosted by award-winning broadcast professional, Alan Taylor, equips fans with the critical information necessary to grow their business through practical advice and thought-provoking interviews. Tune in live on Saturdays 2 p.m. EST/11 a.m. PST and Sundays 10 a.m. EST/7 a.m. PST and listen to weekly episodes on demand on Entrepreneur.com.

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How to Retain Your Company Culture After Getting Acquired (And Why That's So Important)

Acquisitions are intimidating for employees. Along with fears of restructuring, there’s anxiety that office culture -- that unique organizational fabric consisting of personalities, environment, policy and je ne sais quoi -- will be out the door, hot on the heels of shortened Friday hours and redundant middle management.

Related: Why Your Company Culture Should Be Like College Life -- No Matter the Age of Your Employees

And that anxiety is not unfounded: A recent article in the Wall Street Journal noted that Jet.com had to give up its in-office happy hours after Walmart acquired the company. (Before long, morale dipped, and Walmart relaxed its rules.) Sure, things turned around, but a dent in team spirit can sometimes cause irreversible damage. That’s why I held the preservation of Audiobooks.com company culture at the forefront during our recent acquisition by RBmedia. Culture is a living, breathing entity that requires constant investment from everybody. Through acquisition and beyond, retaining a healthy company culture will give you your best chances of fostering low turnover, high employee engagement, better productivity and strengthened recruitment.

1. Get parent company buy-in.

When I was having conversations with RBmedia management during the acquisition process about what made Audiobooks.com different, we always jumped to the people we have on board (before we even got into the numbers). Our staff is a dedicated, fun-loving, culture-first team, so discussing the preservation of some important policy-based pillars of the Audiobooks.com culture was an important part of the deal. Casual dress code, flexible working hours and unlimited paid vacation all remained because our new management team respected that we had a good thing going on and agreed, as the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

We also discussed my budget allocation for “other employee costs,” and RBmedia was supportive of investing in culture by funding monthly socials, healthy breakfasts and a great holiday party. It’s no secret that employees will care about their work if they feel that their work cares about them. Plus, turnover is expensive in a niche industry. Between the job posting fees and the loss of productivity while someone is being trained, each new hire costs the company a significant amount of money. By retaining the hallmarks of the Audiobooks.com culture and making an effort to show staff that we care, we retained 100 percent of our pre-acquisition talent into the post-acquisition period; that’s a number I take pride in.

Related: 5 Ways to Create a Healthy, Thriving Tech Company Culture

2. Offer a robust and dynamic program.

One of our core value statements is “we are a fun community” because we want the office to be a great place for people to spend their time. We often like to say that our employees aren’t chained to their desks: We encourage frequent breaks to play games, e.g. bocce ball when the Canadian weather cooperates, not only because it makes people happier, but because it stimulates creativity and encourages employee bonding. By setting that precedent, initiatives like an office book club and ping-pong league recently sprang up organically, without management introducing them, and at no company cost. I think it’s the sense of community these activities foster that carried our company culture through the acquisition.

As a tech company, we hire a lot of millennials who have expectations as to what a workplace should offer in 2017: free food, flexibility, an aesthetically-pleasing space, fun activities, etc. As I am a firm believer in these priorities, we host an in-house masseuse once a month (our benefits cover massages), and we recently introduced bi-weekly yoga and mindfulness classes in an unused boardroom. Offering competitive perks and office programs can make all the difference for attracting top talent in today’s market, and can encourage that talent to stick around and stay engaged even through the uncertainty of an acquisition. 

Related: 6 Common Things Good Managers Do to Create Engaged Teams

3. Develop a sense of employee ownership.

We frequently initiate formal employee engagement surveys as well as informal conversations with HR to check in on how everyone is feeling. It was crucial to ramp up this practice throughout the acquisition process to keep close tabs on the office climate, and tweak our approach as necessary. In response to a post-acquisition survey, for example, we made changes to how inter-departmental projects are managed. Having a dynamic approach to what we offer in the workplace and how we organize our workflow keeps us efficient and in tune with employee needs. This adaptability and understanding of shifting employee needs is likely a key reason why our engagement score rings in at high numbers time and again.

Our monthly performance reviews also focus on how each individual contributes to company objectives, to keep people feeling connected to the big picture. We encourage ownership and autonomy and in turn, we have a culture of self-starters who are committed to the business and its performance. We also deliberately touch base on people’s personal lives during these meetings, so that we can keep work/life balance in check and find ways to support our employees during good and bad times. We’ve fostered an environment in which every employee feels important and invested in the company’s success, and the business results speak for themselves.

Related: 4 Secrets to Making Your Company a Happy Place to Work

I believe that you can’t change company culture without impacting the bottom line, and I wonder if Walmart finally accepted Jet.com’s approach because it was starting to see some negative effects. On the contrary, I’m proud that Audiobooks.com’s new parent company RBmedia shared my vision that we’re successful because of our office culture -- not in spite of it -- and I’m confident that our staff retention, engagement and recruitment will continue to benefit because of it.

There will be change post-acquisition. Processes will get updated and operations will be altered, along with some other inevitabilities. But, by recognizing that culture has value, investing in it and nurturing it, it doesn’t need to be a casualty of a good acquisition -- it can be the hallmark of a great one.

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The 5 Spokes of Every Franchise Business

When I evaluate a franchise organization, we always use a hub and spoke model as a focusing tool.  This is applicable for any business model and allows us to break the business down into manageable categories or departments.  We can then create a game plan for growth within each area.

Think of your business as the center or the hub.  The five spokes break down into Leadership, Finance, Operations, Marketing and Technology.

Leadership

Leadership is the most important controllable factor in any franchise business.  I have seen great business models fail due to weak leadership.  On the other hand, I have seen many basic businesses thrive due to great leadership.  Every business that has a team, staff, employees and customers (which is almost all of them) needs to have a clear leadership development plan.  Try these tips:

  1. Begin with a basic leadership organizational chart (org chart) and job descriptions for your existing team.  This will give you clarity of roles and responsibilities and identify the gaps you may need to fill.
  2. Utilize technology tools to make sure that your core leadership systems are being implemented RELIGOUSLY. These are the behaviors that keep your business growing in a positive direction and need to be practiced consistently over the life of your business. Websites and mobile applications are now available to help automate these processes.
  3. Get third party coaching and support.  Many business owners have told me that they don’t know what they don’t know. This reality causes many businesses to stagnate. There are now many coaching options, websites and books for franchise operators.

Finance

Finance is the backbone of a business. It has been said that it is not how much you make but how much you spend that matters most when it comes to a profitable business. I have seen businesses bring in over a million dollars a year only to lose money due to out of control costs or spending. That is a lot of work for a loss.

Implement these finance strategy tips for your business:

  1. Back to the basics: start by making sure that you have the standards in place including a cloud-based accounting software, regular financial statements and a working budget.
  2. Keep a basic business plan with projections. Even if you are not seeking partners, investors or funding, a business plan is a strong focus and forecasting tool. This is a game plan for your business that will help you keep your business moving forward.
  3. Use technology tools such as budgeting and forecasting platforms, and incorporate your financial goals so you can keep track of progress. 

Operations

Every business has a unique set of operational elements. For instance, a retail brick and mortar business will have standard opening and closing procedures whereas a mobile business does not. Franchisors will create a standard operations manual that serves as the owner’s manual for a franchised business. Whether you have a very structured business such as a franchise, or one with less operational structure, you can apply some tips to increase your efficiencies:

  1. Use technology tools such as an online operations manual and training platforms to increase team participation. These platforms should be mobile-friendly for ease of use by workers on the job.
  2. Be sure you have a current operations manual for your business at all times. This manual is to be used as a training reference, legal policy document as well as your business “how to” guide.

Marketing

Marketing is the biggest challenge in business. This has become more evident as technology has become part of the marketing mix. Technology has created many wonderful tools for business marketing but has also created a great deal of confusion to many operators who now have a whole new world to learn about. For example, many years ago, a local accountant would use mailers, newsletters and print advertisements in local papers to market their business. Today, the same business owner must have a robust website, social media and maybe a mobile app just to stay competitive. Try these marketing tips to increase your sales:

  1. Create and maintain a comprehensive marketing plan. This plan should include all six marketing pillars from Franchise Bible, 8th Edition for the highest return on investment.
  2. Don’t forget the basics. Think back to the core reasons people use your business. Build relationships with your customers, and keep doing the things that work.

Technology

Technology has now become a standard element of every business. As I mentioned in the accountant example above, this has added a new world for business owners to not only learn about, but to use and invest in, which can be very intimidating. The good news is the fact that the cost for technology tends to come down over time so you should be able to find affordable solutions for your business. Try these tips:

  1. Due diligence is the key to saving valuable money and time. Don’t just settle for the first tech solution that you find. You can easily search online to compare options for just about anything today.
  2. Don’t over do it with technology. Many business owners have spent money unnecessarily because they thought they had to keep up. Just stick to your core business and only use tech if it helps you make more money or spend less.
  3. Hire a technology consultant to help you narrow the field of choices and ensure successful implementation.

These tips can help you improve the efficiencies of your franchise business. Think of your business spokes like a solid exercise program. The more consistent you and your team are at the implementation of your systems, the more profitable your business will become.

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Angela Ruggiero's 3 Methods for Success at the Olympics and Harvard Business School

Angela Ruggiero is one of the most decorated American Olympians of all time. Playing defense for the U.S. women's ice hockey team, she competed in four Olympic Games, winning a Gold Medal in 1998, Silver Medal in 2002 and 2010, and a Bronze Medal in 2006. In 2015, Ruggiero was elected into the National Hockey Hall of Fame. Accomplished on ice? Yes. What about in the classroom? Ruggiero's a graduate of the Harvard Business School (MBA), Harvard College (BA), and the University of Minnesota (M.Ed.). So that's a yes.

Today, Ruggiero is a board member at the International Olympic Committee, chief strategy officer for the Los Angeles 2024 Candidature Committee, and serves on the IOC executive board as chairperson of the Athletes' Commission. She also co-founded the Sports Innovation Lab, a market research and advisory firm focused on the intersection of sports and innovation

Related: 6 Success Secrets From 23-Time Gold Medalist Michael Phelps

Ruggiero is the exemplary modern athlete. During our podcast with her, we discussed Olympic selection methodology, gender disparity in sports, her decision to go to Harvard Business School and how that's positioned her well in business.

Here are three methods for success at the Olympics and Harvard Business School.

1. Set goals.

Typically, this comes first and will likely change -- or “pivot” -- along the way. Ruggiero told us that with established goals, she’s more easily able to roadmap her way to accomplishing them. With a roadmap, you can locate personal and company strengths and weaknesses, begin to identify ways to improve, outsource tasks and quickly decipher who to pass the puck to that will give your team the best opportunity to deposit it in the back of the net.

Ruggiero prefers white boarding each of these exercises. It helps her get into a flow state, where she can creatively think through specific challenges, like overcoming gender disparity in sports, while eventually becoming the first female athlete to play in a men’s professional hockey match.

Related: 11 Sports Businesses Using Entrepreneurial Skills to Disrupt the Marketplace

2. Create a calendar.

Ruggiero talks about the psychology of sports and business. She references the importance of tackling regular season matches as if they were the championship game. In practice, Ruggiero would visualize a pro scout in the stands to prepare herself so that when there were scouts at games, she wouldn’t fret. The same goes for business. The best entrepreneurs aren't above or beneath any task, giving it their full, undivided attention.

Creating a succinct calendar will help improve your attention-to-detail skills. Ruggiero uses Google Calendars on her mobile device, color coordinating different projects and obligations, blocking off time for travel and registering sleep. This level of diligence helps her review time allocations and ROI per project, make a decision on whether it’s worth continuing to pursue and to what degree. She told us, “There’s no perfect formula, [but it can be] as much about what you say no to as what you say yes to.”

Related: How to Tackle Creativity, According to Super Bowl Champion Martellus Bennett

3. Create strategic partnerships.

Ruggiero's first Olympic sponsor was Coca-Cola. She took her first paycheck and invested in the company on the New York Stock Exchange. She chooses her partners based on authenticity, and product or service value proposition. If both boxes are checked, she prefers equity to cash. “Being mutually incentivized makes for a more meaningful relationship that drives value.”

In the early stages of her career, she started a hockey school to teach skill development to other young women, while building an alternative, ancillary revenue stream for herself. Remembering one of her goals was to make it to the National Hockey League, she structured a partnership with the New York Islanders to leverage the Islander brand, practice facilities and amplified reach. Ruggiero says, "You need the right people in the room to have the right ecosystem.” When building a business, it’s critical to get the backing of your industry's governing bodies, federations, media and in Ruggiero’s case, the NHL. Strategic partnerships and key alignment are critical.  

Ruggiero ended our podcast reflecting on the impact sports has on her life. "I got so much out of sports. It literally changed my life. When I grew up, we didn't have any money. I was able to go to Harvard and travel the world. Luckily, I realized if I focused on sports and education, I could live the American dream." Whether learning about failure, how to work with others or setting goals, Ruggiero applies to her daily practices all that sports can teach you.

Related: 3 High Performance Tactics From an Olympian

Be the first to listen to future episodes as well as catch up on previous episodes, including my one-on-one conversation with legendary New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick; world class tennis star and entrepreneur Venus Williams; and 14-time Team USA women’s soccer captain, Julie Foudy.

You can find all of these episodes and more on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, TuneIn, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

For extensive show notes, athlete lists, links, news and headlines, visit Suitinguppodcast.com.  

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