NAVY SEAL Develops an MVP from Parachute Webbing and a Jiu-Jitsu Belt!

While on deployment in 1997, Navy SEAL Squadron Commander Randy Hetrick was looking for a way to keep his body in peak physical condition, which is essential for effectively operating as a member of the most elite fighting force on the planet. Alas, there weren’t many Equinoxes or L.A. Fitnesses in the part of the world he was deployed in (okay, there weren’t any).

The ability to adapt and improvise are trademarks of special operators, and so Hetrick put those powers to work. Using only parachute webbing, a jiu-jitsu belt he accidentally packed in his bag and his body weight, Hetrick devised a workout system that helped keep his mind and body strong. It was primitive, and it worked. After leaving the Navy, Hetrick continued to develop and refine his MacGyver-ed system. Cut to 2019, and that system is now the global fitness phenomenon known as TRX. Hetrick’s suspension-training product and workout system are utilized in more than 60,000 clubs and training facilities worldwide, the company expects to sell more than $60 million in goods and services this coming year and has a roster of ambassadors including Super Bowl-winning quarterback Drew Brees. Not too shabby, right?

Prior to our conversation, I took a class in New York City as part of the “TRX for AnyBODY” campaign, which launched to encourage non-elite athletes (like me) to give it a shot. Afterward, I spoke with Randy in-between gasping for air. Here are some of the highights of that conversation:

What the military teaches you about risk

“The SEAL Teams taught me several useful lessons about risk: 1. Every real opportunity entails risk and most risks contain opportunity. 2. Risk is a thing that can be managed through preparation and adherence to a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) that distill generations of institutional knowledge into modern-day best practices. Bottom line: Blind risk is bad, managed risk is the name of the game.”

Related: 3 Tips Navy SEALs Offer That Every Entrepreneur Can Use

Success starts and ends with teamwork

“The central tenet of special operations is that small groups of talented, motivated individuals with complementary skillsets — aligned around a common mission — can form teams that make even the impossible possible. The key ingredients are talent, motivation, dedication, complementary skillsets and team alignment.”

What veterans bring to the table in business

“In the SEAL Teams, the two most important character traits are integrity and accountability. In my 15 years as an entrepreneur, I have found that to be true in the business world as well. Virtually all other skills can be taught, but integrity and accountability are difficult to teach to an employee who doesn’t understand or appreciate those traits by the time he’s reached adulthood. Military veterans are steeped in these concepts from the day they enter service. And during the course of a service member’s career, he or she also develops resourcefulness, tenacity and selfless dedication to the mission — above all else. If you want a well-trained, high-integrity individual who craves accountability and is steeped in a tradition of selflessness, service, and resourcefulness … you can’t do better than to hire a veteran.”

Related: What Is Leadership? The Navy SEAL Who Killed Osama Bin Laden Answers.

His proudest moment as a Navy SEAL

“Being entrusted to command a squadron of the most elite special operators that ever walked the face of the Earth. For that brief moment in time, I had reached the absolute pinnacle of my profession. And it was, at that time, the greatest achievement of my life.”

His proudest moment in business

“I’ve had many, many proud moments working with my teams to build TRX into the amazing, global brand that it has become.  But maybe the proudest of all was the day that a young blind man —  a former SEAL who had been blinded in combat — told me that TRX had saved his life. When I asked what he meant, he explained that we had given him a tool and the knowledge to train himself, without any assistance from anyone, which had given him back one of the most important things in life … his independence.”

Related: Former Navy SEALs Jocko Willink and Leif Babin Say Leaders Routinely Make These 2 Mistakes

TRX for Anybody

“Even as TRX brings new products and services to serve its professional clientele of trainers, clubs and athletes, it is also expanding its scope in the consumer landscape as well. Our customer base is 50/50 male to female and spans ages from 15 to 95. TRX is, indeed, for everybody. But that reality has been, until recently, our best-kept secret. So we recently decided to broaden our marketing message and spread the word that whoever you are, whatever your goals, and whatever your level of fitness, TRX is for you. We launched our ‘TRX for AnyBODY’ campaign to help share the amazing stories of inspiration, courage and success that are a daily part of our lives and our brand at TRX. And we hope to encourage everyone, everywhere who has a body to let TRX help them achieve their best, whatever that best might be.”

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Every Truth Is But A Half Truth

As much as I love self-improvement and sharing it with others, I always . Nothing is straightforward. Every important truth is a paradox.

If you want to be successful, you need to be comfortable with holding contradictory thoughts in your mind at the same time.

Most people can’t do this. They crave binary, black and white, either-or thinking. Either you’re on their team or not, agree with them or you’re stupid and evil, toe the line or get ostracized.

Well, you don’t need me to tell you how dumb this is because you already know. Even the people who do it, even if you do it, deep down, you know.

Deep down, you know the paradoxical truths that lead to living a successful life, but how do you bring yourself to act on the information?

I use the same process over and over to :

  • Brainwash yourself to undo your binary societal programming. This means reading, studying alternative media sources, watching videos, whatever you gotta do
  • Implement. Unless you test the theories you learn in self-improvement, none of the lessons will have an impact on you. Agree or disagree with a piece of advice? Go and see for yourself.
  • Constantly question your thoughts and results; iterate. You should never be quite sure you’re 100 percent right. It makes no sense to guarantee anything in a world with so many variables. Attempt to be less wrong, not right.

Using this process, especially when it comes to the paradoxes of life I’m going to share with you, can and likely will lead to a better life.

Use These Extreme and Opposite Personality Traits

“[On what makes people successful] The first is a superiority complex — a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality. The second appears to be the opposite — insecurity, a feeling that you or what you’ve done isn’t good enough. The third is impulse control.” — Sam Ovens.

You need a delusional level of optimism to counteract all of the negativity, limiting beliefs, and .

The masses aren’t at fault. Honestly, the inevitable outcome of decades of brainwashing, political psyops and institutional mass conditioning based on perverse incentives is the vast majority of people living well below their potential and infecting you with that energy on accident.

Said better: don’t be mad at society, don’t look at other inherently worthy people as sheep, just understand what’s going on and prepare your mental defences against it.

If mediocrity is the norm, you have to think of yourself as exceptional.

You have to be audacious and borderline arrogant to believe that, somehow, little old you is going to be the one to break out of the system and live life on your own terms. You need balls, courage, moxie, a chip on your shoulder, whatever you need to navigate that minefield of achieving your purpose.

Then, at the same time, you should think of yourself as a worm loser nobody that has a ton of work to do in order to get better. See, most people do get the first part right… kind of.

We all have fantasies about being our super self-actualized self. We are arrogant. Even if we never do anything with our daydreams, we have them all the time and fancy ourselves better than the average person.

But, to be successful, you must escape “Potentialville.”

When you try to develop a skill, you’ll be confronted with feedback about . It takes humility to admit you don’t know all that much and need to get better. It takes real courage to take genuine criticism and use it to improve.

There is a healthy form of self-doubt. This form pushes you to get better for the sake of getting better instead of egotistical reasons.

Your Purpose Means Everything and Nothing At the Same Time

The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.” — Alan Watts

On one hand, in the eyes of the universe, you’re already dead. Nothingmatters.

You shouldn’t care about success at all because success is just a figment of your imagination that mostly serves your ego and causes pain when you don’t get what you want.

All of these statements are…half true.

On the other hand, your life should matter to you — a ton. . As vast as the universe is, you look at yourself as the centre of it, and you will feel the triumph or regret of the path you choose before you die.

So what’s the answer? Detachment.

You can work extremely hard on developing skills, a career, a business, relationships, the perfect body, whatever it is that you want, 

Most people make the mistake of taking their life seriously and living below their potential — what a tragic combo.

I live life like a game that I’m trying to win, but I remember that it’s just a game. Because nothing matters, I treat life like everything matters.

Use These Extreme and Opposite Personality Traits

“[On what makes people successful] The first is a superiority complex — a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality. The second appears to be the opposite — insecurity, a feeling that you or what you’ve done isn’t good enough. The third is impulse control.” — Sam Ovens.

You need a delusional level of optimism to counteract all of the negativity, limiting beliefs, and .

The masses aren’t at fault. Honestly, the inevitable outcome of decades of brainwashing, political psyops and institutional mass conditioning based on perverse incentives is the vast majority of people living well below their potential and infecting you with that energy on accident.

Said better: don’t be mad at society, don’t look at other inherently worthy people as sheep, just understand what’s going on and prepare your mental defences against it.

If mediocrity is the norm, you have to think of yourself as exceptional.

You have to be audacious and borderline arrogant to believe that, somehow, little old you is going to be the one to break out of the system and live life on your own terms. You need balls, courage, moxie, a chip on your shoulder, whatever you need to navigate that minefield of achieving your purpose.

Then, at the same time, you should think of yourself as a worm loser nobody that has a ton of work to do in order to get better. See, most people do get the first part right… kind of.

We all have fantasies about being our super self-actualized self. We are arrogant. Even if we never do anything with our daydreams, we have them all the time and fancy ourselves better than the average person.

But, to be successful, you must escape “Potentialville.”

When you try to develop a skill, you’ll be confronted with feedback about . It takes humility to admit you don’t know all that much and need to get better. It takes real courage to take genuine criticism and use it to improve.

There is a healthy form of self-doubt. This form pushes you to get better for the sake of getting better instead of egotistical reasons.

From Daily Medium’s Mind Cafe by Ayodeji Awosika 1/20/20, “5 Paradoxes of Life You Must Embrace If You Want To Be Successful.”

Entrepreneurship Depends on Luck — and You Can Actually Make Yourself Luckier.

There are heart-dominant entrepreneurs, who bring purpose and passion in the business world, and smarts-dominant leaders who apply rationality and facts to build their business. After studying how guts play an important rolein entrepreneurship, we will discover today the power of luck.

Luck is random, chaotic, selective, arbitrary, and seemingly beyond our control. We can’t cook up, conjure, or dream luck into being. We’re either born with luck, or we’re not — right? If we told you one morning to go out and spend the day being luckier, would you even know where to start? Is creating luck even possible?

I believe the answer, to some extent, is yes. Maintaining the right attitude based on a foundation of humility that helps drive intellectual curiosity and optimism goes a long way toward creating the quality we call “lucky.”

Acknowledging the part luck plays in their lives isn’t easy for most people. It’s tempting to take full credit for our own successes, especially if we’ve lived through a few. Acknowledging the role luck plays in our careers would oblige us to accept that we have less control over what happens in our lives than most of us want to admit.

We commonly come across three kinds of luck: circumstantial, constitutional, and dumb luck. Although you cannot alter the latter, I strongly believe you can work toward creating or strengthening the first two.

Circumstantial luck occurs when you’re dining with a friend who bumps into a third person — who then ends up becoming one of your most important clients. None of this would have happened if he hadn’t chosen that particular lunch-date, or restaurant, or if that third party hadn’t shown up at just the right moment.

Constitutional luck occurs when an individual’s age, cultural background, nationality, and upbringing help predispose him to a certain outcome. Even attending the same college or university can help a person out. The business world can be insular and clannish, and the fortuitous similarity of a specific hereditary or cultural background can be useful making connections. (That said, it can also backfire.)

Age can certainly make a difference, too. Consider all those technologically minded individuals who began their careers at the cusp of the commercial Internet, and who profited from an industry that matched up well with their talents, ambitions and visions.

Lastly, dumb luck will always exist, though we tend to perceive it only after the fact. A classic example is winning the lottery: Your obliviousness to risk can paradoxically lead to success. For example, you may have bet a few bucks on horse №22 without realizing that the “7” on his betting slip actually meant $7,000, not $7.00. Oops.

Your horse wins — and so do you. It’s doubtful you would have taken the chance or risk had you known how much money was at stake.

So how can you make yourself “luckier”?

First, no matter how powerful and successful you become, retain a measure of humility. Individuals who acknowledge their own vulnerability appear sometimes able to miraculously summon those individuals who can help them achieve their goals.

All of us have chance encounters, but luck-oriented people are humble enough to believe that in some cases, they have to seize these encounters as they happen, as the world won’t easily offer up such opportunities again. In sum, they intuitively understand where their personal control ends, and the rest of the universe begins.

Second, be driven by a profound intellectual curiosity. Be genuinely interested in the lives of others. Constantly seek to improve yourself and your business. Again and again, question the norm.

Luck-dominant people read, explore, reframe, discuss, argue, sample, and discard, all with an internal resolve to better themselves and challenge, inflame, and expand the perspectives they bring to their lives and businesses. Their eagerness to question their surroundings increases the likelihood that they can grab an opportunity as it swoops past.

Third and most importantly, have an optimistic attitude — one of belief in opportunity. Be a giver of energy rather than a taker of it. How we perceive our own luckiness can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as we found out from Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh.

Hsieh famously asked job candidates if they considered themselves “lucky,” since studies show that people who describe themselves as lucky are more likely to see beneficial hints and clues in simple puzzles. A questing, questioning perspective allows individuals to recognize and seize seemingly random opportunities. What we often brush away as “dumb luck” is more a function of attitude, readiness, and openness.

Yes, some agency is involved with being lucky. To increase your odds of striking luck, you need to be optimistic, willing to learn, and understanding that humility and vulnerability can coax out of the universe apparently random — and lucky — forces, events, and circumstances.

Courtesy Article By Tony Tjan from Inc. Magazine 12/19/2019

8 Best Industries for Starting a Business in 2020

When you’re considering starting your own business, one of the first questions to ask yourself is: Does my company fulfill an actual market need? Success as an entrepreneur requires bringing solutions to market, and too many startups today are really just solutions in search of a problem.

For aspiring entrepreneurs, Inc.‘s 2020 Best Industries report, a list of the best industries for starting a business, serves as a roadmap for finding the most promising opportunities. Every year, we speak with industry experts and crunch the latest data to identify areas of the economy that are primed for new entrants. Read on to see which sectors are welcoming tomorrow’s fastest-growing startups.

Clean Water Services / Gender-Neutral Personal Care / Gun Violence Prevention / Healthier Junk Foods / Next-Wave Logistics / Pet Wearables / Space Technology / Sustainable Consumer Good

Clean Water Services

No one can afford to ignore the safety of our most precious natural resource: water. Managing and monitoring drinking water quality is a significant opportunity for entrepreneurs who can protect public health by delivering solutions at scale. Companies in this sector are also working on developing new sources of drinkable water.

Why it’s growing: The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, has raised awareness about the harmful effects of contaminants, making water filtration an important issue for consumers and enterprises across the U.S.

Barriers to entry: Building systems that connect water testing hardware and software can require significant investment.

The downside: Companies working on clean water initiatives have not been popular investment targets for venture capitalists.

Competition: Xylem and Danaher are public companies with multiple brands in the clean water sector. Zero Mass Water, backed by Bill Gates’s billion-dollar Breakthrough Energy Ventures, created a $2,000 solar panel that draws drinkable water out of thin air.

Forecast: Investment in U.S. companies addressing declining water quality has grown 25 percent to $50.7 million in the past five years, according to data and research company PitchBook.

Gender-Neutral Personal Care

Gone are the days when personal-care products were categorized as “beauty” for women and “grooming” for men. A growing group of startups are now making moisturizers, deodorants, shampoos, fragrances, and other products that lead with their ingredient lists and don’t target a particular gender.

Why it’s growing: Many consumers, especially younger ones, are rejecting traditionally gendered products in favor of nonbinary options. More men are also embracing skin care regimens and following other wellness trends.

Barriers to entry: It’s easier than ever to develop a product and start selling it online, says Larissa Jensen, vice president and beauty industry adviser at market research firm NPD Group. Customers are willing to try new things and aren’t loyal to established brands. But with so many companies in the industry, you’ll have to do more to stand out.

The downside: Distribution can be a challenge. High-end specialty stores that spotlight gender-neutral brands are a growing segment of the market, but have limited reach, while larger cosmetics retailers and department stores remain very gendered. Customer concerns about sustainability and skin-irritating synthetic ingredients are also driving demand for “clean” formulas and eco-friendly packaging, which can be expensive to develop.

Competition: Not only are new “indie” personal-care brands popping up every year, but large consumer-goods companies and luxury brands like Lululemon and Gucci are increasingly offering gender-neutral options as well. Aesop and Deciem (the parent company of skincare brand the Ordinary) are two of the most prominent companies that market their products, including moisturizers and face oils, based on ingredient formulas rather than gender.

Forecast: Market researcher CB Insights named “expanding inclusive beauty” among the industry trends with significant momentum in 2020, and noted that men’s and gender-neutral personal-care products are both growing sectors. The pending billion-dollar acquisition of men’s shaving startup Harry’s and billion-dollar deal for Dollar Shave Club, the latter of which has shifted to gender-neutral marketing, offered early evidence of the industry’s growth.

Gun Violence Prevention

In the wake of mass shootings, businesses, schools, and other organizations are investing in security consultants and technology to help them prepare for the unthinkable. Companies in this industry provide employee training and surveillance tools and work with organizations to develop policies to prevent–and, if necessary, respond to–violent incidents.

Why it’s growing: There were 417 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2019, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive. In a 2019 survey by the Society of Human Resource Management, nearly half of HR professionals said their organization had experienced a workplace-violence incident, and half of those said an incident had occurred within the past year. These tragedies can happen anywhere, so a wide variety of organizations are turning to outside firms for guidance.

Barriers to entry: Businesses must make sure the policies they develop are compliant with state and local laws regarding surveillance, weapons possession, and profiling, as well as HR regulations, according to Matthew Doherty, senior vice president of threat and risk management at Hillard Heintze, a risk-management consulting firm. Many founders in this industry have military or law-enforcement backgrounds, but that’s not sufficient for a well-rounded operation, Doherty cautions. It’s important to find your niche and then hire for the skills you don’t have, whether that’s technical security experts, intelligence analysts, engineers, or even psychologists. “Don’t purport yourself to be an expert on everything,” he says.

The downside: Gun violence is a sensitive topic, and it can take time and effort to build relationships with clients. There’s also disagreement about best practices in this emerging industry: There is little independent research to show that any particular security measure is effective in reducing gun deaths or injuries, while there is evidence that active-shooter drills can be traumatic. Liability can be an issue, too, if participants are injured during drills or if security firms run afoul of regulations.

Competition: As high-profile shootings spur more conversation about safety measures, expect more existing security consultancies to shift their focus to active-shooter training, and equipment vendors to start pushing products like reinforced doors, panic buttons, and cutting-edge surveillance systems. The Alice Training Institute, founded in 2000 after the Columbine shooting, is the country’s most prominent for-profit provider of active-shooter training. Startups have also proliferated in the industry; Tomahawk Strategic Solutions, which runs active-shooter drills and sells equipment to law enforcement, brought in $2.8 million in revenue in 2018.

Forecast: There are few statistics that encompass the entire industry, but market research firm IHS Markit estimates the U.S. market for security equipment and services for educational institutions–things like surveillance cameras, high-security doors, and metal detectors–will grow to $3.2 billion in 2022, from $2.5 billion in 2017. A 2019 Wall Street Journal survey of 800 small businesses found that 35 percent of business owners have taken steps to prevent workplace violence or plan to do so.

Healthier Junk Foods

Healthy diets are all the rage, but Americans still crave chips and cookies. As a result, companies are inventing new kinds of packaged foods made with minimally processed fruits and vegetables, as well as snacks that mimic the taste and texture of popular junk foods but have fewer calories and artificial ingredients.

Why it’s growing: Health-conscious consumers are seeking out better-for-you versions of their favorite snacks. Some consumers assume products labeled with terms like “vegan” and “sugar-free” don’t taste as good as ones packed with salt, fat, and sugar, so startups are aiming to strike a new balance between indulgence and health.

Barriers to entry: Businesses in this industry face many of the same hurdles as those in any packaged-food sector, including acquiring sufficient startup capital for manufacturing and product development, finding distributors, managing logistics, and meeting FDA and other regulations.

The downside: Competition is fierce for shelf space at national grocery chains like Whole Foods. The biggest snack-food producers, which have a firm foothold in the market and are able to keep their prices down, are increasingly diversifying their offerings with healthier options.

Competition: Aside from the many smaller companies making less-processed healthy snacks like dried fruit and kale chips, startups in this industry will have to take on big brands like General Mills-owned Annie’s, whose products include organic alternatives to Cheez-Its and Chex Mix. “Low-calorie products from large brands have grown at a much faster rate than high-calorie products over the past decade,” according to IBISWorld. Up-and-coming brands include Peatos, which makes a crunchy Cheetos alternative using pea protein, and Snacklins, which offers a meatless pork rind made with mushrooms, onions, and yuca.

Forecast: In the U.S., snack food production is a growing category that was valued at $43 billion in 2019, according to IBISWorld. Healthier snacks are driving much of that growth, as Millennial consumers boost demand for lower-calorie, organic, and gluten-free options.

Next-Wave Logistics

Third-party logistics companies only recently began crunching data to drive greater efficiencies. The industry’s increased reliance on automation has helped create opportunities for software companies that can match shippers with trucks and optimize the movement of freight, among other services.

Why it’s growing: Truckers are producing more and more data on driving time, miles driven, and engine performance, which digital freight brokerages can use in conjunction with sophisticated GPS systems. Plus, a 2016 federal law required many commercial vehicles to electronically log data about their operations.

Barriers to entry: Attracting engineers to the comparatively unsexy logistics industry is a significant challenge.

The downside: Compared with the $86.5 billion overall freight brokerage market, the market for bolt-on software is small: Supply-chain consultancy Armstrong & Associates estimates it at $3.2 billion.

Competition: FourKites, Project 44, and MacroPoint allow shippers, brokers, and carriers to track products in transit, while HubTran and Triumph Pay focus on automating freight brokers’ back offices. Uber Freight and Convoy are also large players in third-party logistics.

Forecast: U.S. freight industry revenue is expected to increase 54 percent to $1.6 trillion by 2030, while overall freight tonnage is expected to grow 26 percent to $20.6 billion, according to the American Trucking Associations.

Pet Wearables

Health and wellness monitoring devices are not just for humans. Growing awareness about pets’ physical and mental health is driving demand for wellness data on animals, while GPS tracking devices are becoming increasingly popular.

Why it’s growing: U.S. pet care spending in 2018 reached a record high of $72.6 billion, according to the American Pet Products Association.

Barriers to entry: Since it’s still a nascent industry, the barriers to entry are low relative to many other consumer electronics categories.

The downside: Wearables represent just a small segment of the overall pet care category. Other products competing for consumers’ dollars include beds, collars, leashes, toys, travel items, clothing and other accessories.

Competition: Whistle and FitBark focus on dog health and location trackers, while Garmin and Motorola offer a variety of products that aid in dog tracking and training.

Forecast: The global pet wearables market is expected to grow to $1.7 billion in 2024 from $703 million in 2019, according to data from research firm MarketsandMarkets.

Space Technology

America’s private space industry is booming thanks to the declining costs of sending rockets to space and the increasing availability of launch vehicles. Advances in commercial electronics have enabled even hobbyists and high-school students to build small satellites that have reached orbit. While the U.S. government is one of the world’s largest procurers of satellite data, Earth imagery taken by satellites will soon be in high demand from farmers, first responders, and scientists.

Why it’s growing: The rise of companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin have helped bring the number of global rocket launches to around 100 per year, while demand has grown for increasingly high-resolution satellite imagery.

Barriers to entry: While launch prices but are coming down, hitching a ride on any rocket remains an expensive proposition.

The downside: Launch failure is a significant risk for every launch vehicle, regardless of past performance.

Competition: U.S. companies focusing on Earth-imaging satellites include Capella Space, Planet Labs, and Spire. Among the international competitors are Italy’s e-GEOS and Japan’s Synspective.

Forecast: Venture capital investment in space technology companies has grown to $2.27 billion in 2019 from $2.6 million in 2011, according to market data provider PitchBoo

Sustainable Consumer Goods

It’s not just plastic straws: A wave of high-tech startups and innovative consumer-goods brands are developing reusable, recyclable, and compostable alternatives for a range of household products.

Why it’s growing: The escalating climate crisis has prompted a growing consensus that consumers need to end their reliance on plastic. Many U.S. cities and a few states have issued bans or taxes on single-use plastic bags with largely positive effects, and customers are interested in companies that offer either plant-based alternatives to plastic items that are less polluting, or reusable products to help cut down on materials altogether.

Barriers to entry: The amount of technical expertise required is a major hurdle. Like other big-picture issues related to the changing climate, the sustainability problem can’t be solved cheaply or quickly–though, since plastic has so many uses, there are many entry points into the market.

The downside: Persuading customers who aren’t already eco-conscious to choose a pricier item over a cheaper, more convenient one can be difficult. Some biodegradable alternatives also require significant resources and carbon emissions to produce, don’t break down as quickly as advertised, and can contribute to pollution if not disposed of properly.

Competition: Startups helping consumers cut down on plastic include Abeego, which makes a beeswax-coated alternative to plastic cling wrap; Stasher, which makes heat-resistant, dishwasher-safe silicone storage bags; and Truman’s, which sells cleaning products in the form of concentrates you mix with water in refillable containers. E6PR makes compostable, turtle-friendly six-pack rings for beer producers, while startups like BioCellection and Kiverdi are developing ways to break down plastic waste and recycle it into new materials.

Forecast: Bioplastics (made from renewable materials like corn) are a $486 million industry in the U.S. with an annualized revenue growth rate of 2.1 percent between 2014 and 2019, according to market research firm IBISWorld. CB Insights also named the movement away from single-use plastic among its trends to watch in 2020 in the CPG industry.

Courtesy of  Sophie Downes and Graham WinfreyWeb producer and senior editor, Inc. PUBLISHED ON: FEB 4, 2020 Peter Diamandis: Entrepreneurs Are Leading the New Space Race

Where A.I. Is Going (& Why We Need Entrepreneurship)

You’re racing to the airport, unaware there’s a wreck on the highway ahead.  Fortunately, an artificial intelligence-driven system in your vehicle is looking after you.  The system automatically checks on your flight –still on schedule and determines your chances of making ti to the gate on time are slim.  With your permission, it can proactively book an alternate flight.

“That’s the true virtual assistance in the future,” says Gartner vice president and fellow David Cearley.  “Rather than having conversational interfaces respond to discrete things, it understands the context and can respond to (your) intent.”

Much has been said and written about the future of AI, and the role it will play –good and potentially bad– in practically everything consumer and businesses engage in.  What pretty much everyone agrees on is that AI will make a profound difference through the next decade and beyond, during which we may see a further blurring between human and machine.

About a year ago, reseachers at Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center asked the following: “By 2030, do you think it i most likely that advancing AI and related technology systems will enhance human capacities and empower them?”  Of then nearly 1,000 technologists who weighed in, about two-thirds predicted most of us will be better off, with one-third thinking otherwise.  And most expressed at least some concern over the long-term impact of AI on the “essential elements of being human”.

Almost no one disputes the fact that AI will continue to get smarter.  Sriram Raghavan, who heads IBM Research AI, says that this year by combining learning with logic, AI will start to develop a “common sense” reasoning system, to help businesses deploy more conversational automated customer care and technical support tools.  For his part, Jeff Loucks, executive directors of Deloitte’s Center for Technology, Media & Telecommunications, believes that within 10 years, AI-powered robots may help aging people remain in their homes.  And, AI embedded in more smart devices will help all of us monitor our health and wellness.

For more on this article, please get a copy of today’s USA Today Jan. 22, 2020 or refer to this website -

Importance of Entrepreneurship Now

Entrepreneurship is needed NOW as a survival skill by those workers being displaced by automation, not just blue collar workers but now, because of artificial intelligence, white collar workers.  AI has enabled cognitive thinking through repetitive patterns to allow “machines” to think for themselves and replaced repetitive think work.  Thusfar, State Farm has replaced claims handling processors, MetLife underwriters, and all forms of cognitive computing such as finance, marketing, government and healthcare.

The world economy faces a massive disruption of labor.  Jobs are going to machines at an alarming rate, and ramifications will alter everything we know  about work.  Three forces have been at work since 1990, but will soon go to warp speed.  First is the Gig Economy, which is an environment in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers. A study by Intuit predicted that by 2020, 40 percent of American workers would be independent contractors.

Second is the automation of anything that is repetitive and can be replaced by robotics; most automobiles are now made by robots.  Third is the combination of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data. Artificial intelligence (AI) makes it possible for machines to learn from experience, adjust to new inputs and perform human-like tasks.  Deep learning is a type of machine learning that trains a computer to perform human-like tasks, such as recognizing speech, identifying images or making predictions.

Because Big Data has been growing exponentially, AI and deep learning have much to work from.  In 2013 SINTEF estimated that 90% of all information in the world had been created in the prior two years.  Lots of data is exactly what machines need in order to learn to learn.  Google’s DeepMind AI has learned how to read and comprehend what it reads through thousands of annotated news articles.

McKinsey research says that up to one-third of U. S. workers and 800 million globally could be displaced by 2030.  They recommend businesses and policymakers act now to keep people employed.  The single most impactful solution is to empower one and all with entrepreneurship whose innovative and creative skills can allow laborers to transit to self-employment (or to thrive as a freelancer in the Gig Economy).





All You Need to Know to Make Money With Your Hobby

The dream of practically everyone I know is to quit their dull, unfulfilling nine-to-five, and chase their passion while being rewarded with money and fame along the way by loyal, rabid fans and followers, as well as finding joy and satisfaction from creation.

The journey from point A, where you start to think you’d like a creative way to make a bit of money, to point B, where you’re actually earning money by being creative, can seem like a very long and meandering route.

I think a big problem is that there’s often not a lot of transparency with people who have actually achieved it. You might not really see how other people do it, or you might not understand the steps they’ve taken. You might start, only to lose faith along the way when their path doesn’t work for you.

It can take days, months, or even years to make the journey but you know what? We all have to start somewhere, sometime. Here are the five easiest steps you can take to make your hobby something that can pay the bills.

1. Find your passion.

This one is, of course, the most important.

If you’re going to turn a hobby into a lucrative side gig, you absolutely must be passionate about it. You must enjoy it when everything’s going wrong, and you must be able to take rejection for it because I guarantee that will happen. Whether you want to become a YouTuber, an artist, an Instagram influencer, or a wood carver, what you’re doing must be worth more than money to you.

There has to be a fire driving you in order to begin. No matter what your hobby is, you have to have something to stay with it.

I used to believe that my passion was baking. I thought that it wouldn’t take much for a little baking side hustle to take off — I just needed my first big break. When that big break didn’t come soon enough, I quit. There was no passion to keep me going.

This one is, of course, the most important.

In short, over the course of the journey, you will struggle, you will fail, you will be told you’re bad. You need a reason to continue regardless. That’s passion.

2. Find a platform.

One of the best things about existing in this era is that there’s a platform for every type of side gig. If you’re a musician, you can put your content on Soundcloud. If you’re an artist, you can put your work on Instagram. Content distribution is getting better and easier every day, which means it’s simpler for the people who care about (and who hopefully will one day pay you for your work) to find you and applaud you

A guy from my hometown literally built a solid platform, and when it was Garage Sale Saturday on our street, he sat on top of his platform building furniture, which was his side hustle. People loved the show, and they bought his stuff.

Note: it might take some experimentation to find it. You might discover what you thought was a failsafe platform lets you down. This is where it comes back to passion. Don’t be afraid to branch out and try new or unusual platforms.

There’s the right platform out there for everyone, something that will fit your needs, whatever you’re selling, and your audience. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.

3. Find something to keep you accountable.

Humans suck at accountability. We say we’ll wake up and go for a run, but we sleep in. We vow this will be the last time we eat chocolate, but we buy more cake.

So, we need some kind of way to track when we succeed and watch us when we fail. For running, it helps to get a running buddy. I personally found that for healthy eating, a monetary reward system worked best for me.

On Instagram, I often see people doing photo challenges. They’ll post one picture and say they’re beginning the Black and White challenge, or the Photo a Day challenge, where they have to post in a certain format for a certain length of time.

How can you do this for your hobby? I like a sticker system: every day I do the hobby, I get a sticker. That way you can build on your streak of motivation and effort.

The end point is, find a system that helps you track your hobby. Not the progress, not the goals — just how often you do the dang thing. Give yourself an internal reason to keep going and lend you accountability.

4. Find a community to support you.

I believe it’s very rare that someone will do something well, continuing happily in the face of obstruction, without needing any support from others.

Now, I’m not talking about sycophants who will agree with everything you say. I’m not saying that if you don’t have a single fan, you’ll stop. The are lots of examples of people pursuing their hobby alone, even when the going’s gone very, very tough.

I’m saying it’s easier if you don’t have to do it alone.

For writing, I’ve found that one of the reasons I’ve been able to keep going when I fail is that I’m not alone. The writing communities I’m lucky enough to be a part of are full of incredibly supportive, experienced members who answer any and all questions they can help witt.

It’s chock-full of role models to emulate and aspire to be like; and it also has people who are willing to admit when things aren’t going their way, too.

This last component is most important. It’s great to see successful people and aspire to be like them, but when you’re doing a side-hustle and you look around, social media makes it seem like everyone but you is succeeding. It’s incredibly valuable to have people who confirm that things suck for them right now, too, and you’re not alone, and yes, you will keep going.

The takeaway is to find a group of like-minded people trying to do the same thing as you. Search on Twitter, on Google, at your local grocery store notice board. It’s easier together.

5. Don’t lose your passion once you’ve found it.

This is the one I’ve struggled with the most. When you’re good at something, and people tell you that you’re good at it, and you’re rewarded for it, it’s easy to follow your dreams.

When you struggle, when you get bad feedback, when you look around and everyone’s doing about ten times better, that’s when you run into problems. At that point, it’s easy to forget why you started doing it. It’s so tempting to stop, give up, take a break you won’t come back from.

For me, I was hopeful I could turn painting into a side hustle one day. I was hindered by the fact that I’m not very good at painting, I didn’t know anyone else who was painting, and I genuinely didn’t believe that I could ever earn money from painting.

In short, I didn’t believe it rewarded me enough to persevere.

What I didn’t realize was that a) side gigs can be profitable without needing to be paid; and b) sometimes it takes time to make something financially profitable. Essentially, I overlooked the mental and emotional benefits that painting brought me on a regular basis, in favor of chasing that dollar sign. I also ignored the fact that I’d have to practice — a lot — in order to become good enough at painting to sell my work.

To regain my passion, I had to force myself to paint. And I think sometimes, that’s what it takes: when you run out of motivation, you have to run on willpower alone. It’s worth it. You’ll get there.

What you don’t see behind every successful person who turned their hobby into a gorgeous, creative, fulfilling full-time job, is that someone has worked hard for what they’ve earned.

It’s easy to tell yourself that they’re unicorns, rare breeds who had it easy or got lucky, because that means that if you fail, it’s not your fault.

But everyone can do it. All it takes is finding your passion, your platform, your accountability, your community, and the patience to continue when you feel the passion is gone. As long as you understand it’s a journey, not an overnight transformation, you can turn your hobby into a paying side hustle, which might one day turn into a career.

Courtesy of by Zulie Rane, May 2019

Entrepreneurs Upbeat About Hiring, Researchers Find.

New York — Although many small businesses struggle to find staffers to fill their open positions, many entrepreneurs with recently launched companies intend to create jobs within a few years.

That’s one of the findings of a study by researchers at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. The study, based on surveys of approximately 3,000 people in the U. S. during 2018, found that 87% of entrepreneurs with young companies expect to employ workers during the next five years, and 38% expect to have six or more workers.  Seventeen percent said they expected to have 20 or more workers in five years.  Those expectations reflect the confidence and optimism of owners of businesses that are in the early stages of growth, the study said.  “They trust that they can recruit, hire, and develop employees to help them successfully grow their business,” it said.

Entrepreneurs in the study were upbeat even as small businesses in general were struggling to find staffers.  Hiring at small companies tracked by payroll processor ADP was erratic during 2018.

By Liz Weston, Nerd Wallet, Published Dec. 22, 2019 Sarasota Herald-Tribune

U.S. News & World Report has ranked Babson College the No. 1 undergraduate school for entrepreneurship for the 23rd consecutive time.


Entrepreneurship can be the antidote to poverty

More than 38 million Americans are living in poverty, according to the latest U.S. Census data. That’s just under 12% of the population.

Not exactly what President Lyndon Johnson had in mind when he declared war on poverty in 1964, more than a half-century ago. Since then, the U.S. poverty rate has averaged about 13%. It’s declined slightly during economic booms and ticked up during recessions.

In other words, the War on Poverty has been fought to a draw, despite trillions of dollars in federal spending. Yet more spending is exactly what the leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination are calling for as part of their effort to alleviate poverty.

There’s a better way to help people climb the economic ladder. And that’s by making it easier to be an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurship is one of the surest ways for those with low incomes to beat a path into the middle class and beyond. A study from the Small Business Administration found that “self-employed workers who own incorporated businesses have much higher earnings than all other worker groups in low-income areas.”

Entrepreneurship is also a pivotal way for immigrants, many of whom arrive without intimate knowledge of or connections to American society, to secure the better life they sought by coming here. Nearly 30% of all new entrepreneurs are immigrants.

But as a new report on the state of entrepreneurship from the Pacific Research Institute shows, government has erected barriers that make it difficult for low-income entrepreneurs to get their businesses off the ground, hire more workers, and work their way out of poverty.

These barriers include costly business taxes, fees, and permits; a complicated tax code that requires significant out-of-pocket expense for compliance; nonsensical occupational licensing laws that impede a person’s right to work; and exceedingly high minimum wage laws that make it difficult for entrepreneurs to create jobs.

All told, small businesses with fewer than 50 employees face nearly $12,000 in costs per worker just to comply with government regulations. Adhering to the tax code costs very small businesses — those with one to five employees — about $4,300 per employee.

There are several market reforms that policy makers can deploy to reverse this trend. In light of these unconscionable tax and regulatory costs, policy makers should cut bureaucratic red tape, simplify the tax code, and jettison ill-considered new regulations such as a $15 minimum wage.

Reforms should also focus on improving low-income entrepreneur’s access to capital, which is perhaps the biggest hurdle aspiring businesses must overcome.

Starting a business takes an estimated 4.4 times the median net worth of an African American household. It takes four times the median net worth of the average Latino family.

The Federal Reserve’s annual Small Business Credit Survey notes that firms seeking between $100,000 and $250,000 have the most difficult time securing financing. These are the micro-businesses that low-income entrepreneurs are building from the ground up.

Community banks are the traditional providers of credit for these firms. But they’ve been stymied by overly burdensome federal regulations. Reforms enacted in 2018 exempted small banks from some of the Dodd-Frank Act’s most onerous regulations; that should help improve small businesses’ ability to access credit in the future.

Micro-lenders are beginning to enter the market as well. They’re well-positioned to serve the typical credit needs of small entrepreneurial firms. The best way to further encourage the growth of micro-lenders is by streamlining rules and assigning oversight to one national regulator.

Starting a new business has always been a piece of the American dream, especially for immigrants and those starting at the bottom of the economic ladder. Unfortunately, too many government-created obstacles stand in the way of entrepreneurs toiling to produce better lives for their families. Removing these obstacles is essential to helping those struggling the most — and ultimately winning the War on Poverty.

Wayne Winegarden is a senior fellow in business and economics at the Pacific Research Institute. Download a copy of his study “Entrepreneurship as a Pathway to the American Dream” at  Courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Why Tim Cook Still Has His Job at Apple

What happens to a company when a visionary CEO is gone? Most often innovation dies and the company coasts for years on momentum and its brand.

apple-equals-microsoftRarely does it regain its former glory.

Here’s why.

Microsoft entered the 21st century as the dominant software provider for anyone who interacted with a computing device. 16 years later it’s just another software company.

After running Microsoft for 25 years, Bill Gates handed the reins of CEO to Steve Ballmer in January 2000. Ballmer went on to run Microsoft for the next 14 years. If you think the job of a CEO is to increase sales, then Ballmer did a spectacular job. He tripled Microsoft’s sales to $78 billion and profits more than doubled from $9 billion to $22 billion. The launch of the Xbox and Kinect, and the acquisitions of Skype and Yammer happened on his shift. If the Microsoft board was managing for quarter to quarter or even year to year revenue growth, Ballmer was as good as it gets as a CEO. But if the purpose of the company is long-term survival, then one could make a much better argument that he was a failure as a CEO as he optimized short-term gains by squandering long-term opportunities.

How to Miss the Boat – Five Times
Despite Microsoft’s remarkable financial performance, as Microsoft CEO Ballmer failed to understand and execute on the five most important technology trends of the 21stcentury: in search – losing to Google; in smartphones – losing to Apple; in mobile operating systems – losing to Google/Apple; in media – losing to Apple/Netflix; and in the cloud – losing to Amazon. Microsoft left the 20th century owning over 95% of the operating systems that ran on computers (almost all on desktops). Fifteen years and 2 billion smartphones shipped in the 21st century and Microsoft’s mobile OS share is 1%. These misses weren’t in some tangential markets – missing search, mobile and the cloud were directly where Microsoft users were heading.  Yet a very smart CEO missed all of these.  Why?

Execution and Organization of Core Businesses
It wasn’t that Microsoft didn’t have smart engineers working on search, media, mobile and cloud. They had lots of these projects. The problem was that Ballmer organized the company around execution of its current strengths – Windows and Office businesses. Projects not directly related to those activities never got serious management attention and/or resources.

For Microsoft to have tackled the areas they missed – cloud, music, mobile, apps – would have required an organizational transformation to a services company. Services (Cloud, ads, music) have a very different business model. They are hard to do in a company that excels at products.

Ballmer and Microsoft failed because the CEO was a world-class executor (a Harvard grad and world-class salesman) of an existing business model trying to manage in a world of increasing change and disruption. Microsoft executed its 20th-century business model extremely well, but it missed the new and more important ones. The result?  Great short-term gains but long-term prospects for Microsoft are far less compelling.

In 2014, Microsoft finally announced that Ballmer would retire, and in early 2014, Satya Nadella took charge. Nadella got Microsoft organized around mobile and the cloud (Azure), freed the Office and Azure teams from Windows, killed the phone business and got a major release of Windows out without the usual trauma. And is moving the company into augmented reality and conversational AI. While they’ll likely never regain the market dominance they had in the 20th century, (their business model continues to be extremely profitable) Nadella likely saved Microsoft from irrelevance.

What’s Missing?
Visionary CEOs are not “just” great at assuring world-class execution of a tested and successful business model, they are also world-class innovators. Visionary CEOs are product and business model centric and extremely customer focused.

The best are agile and know how to pivot – make a substantive change to the business model while or before their market has shifted. The very best of them shape markets – they know how to create new markets by seeing opportunities before anyone else. They remain entrepreneurs.

One of the best examples of a visionary CEO is Steve Jobs who transformed Apple from a niche computer company into the most profitable company in the world. Between 2001 to 2008, Jobs reinvented the company three times. Each transformation – from a new computer distribution channel – Apple Stores to disrupting the music business with iPod and iTunes in 2001; to the iPhone in 2007; and the App store in 2008 – drove revenues and profits to new heights

apple-2001-to-08-arcThese were not just product transitions, but radical business model transitions – new channels, new customers and new markets–and new emphasis on different parts of the organization (design became more important than the hardware itself and new executives became more important than the current ones).

Visionary CEOs don’t need someone else to demo the company’s key products for them. They deeply understand products, and they have their own coherent and consistent vision of where the industry/business models and customers are today, and where they need to take the company.  They know who their customers are because they spend time talking to them. They use strategy committees and the exec staff for advice, but none of these CEOs pivot by committee.

Why Tim Cook Is the New Steve Ballmer
And that brings us to Apple, Tim Cook and the Apple board.

One of the strengths of successful visionary and charismatic CEOs is that they build an executive staff of world-class operating executives (and they unconsciously force out any world-class innovators from their direct reports). The problem is in a company driven by a visionary CEO, there is only one visionary. This type of CEO surrounds himself with extremely competent executors, but not disruptive innovators. While Steve Jobs ran Apple, he drove the vision but put strong operating execs in each domain – hardware, software, product design, supply chain, manufacturing – who translated his vision and impatience into plans, process and procedures.

slide1When visionary founders depart (death, firing, etc.), the operating executives who reported to them believe it’s their turn to run the company (often with the blessing of the ex CEO).  At Microsoft, Bill Gates anointed Steve Ballmer, and at Apple Steve Jobs made it clear that Tim Cook was to be his successor.

Once in charge, one of the first things these operations/execution CEOs do is to get rid of the chaos and turbulence in the organization. Execution CEOs value stability, process and repeatable execution. On one hand that’s great for predictability, but it often starts a creative death spiral – creative people start to leave, and other executors (without the innovation talent of the old leader) are put into more senior roles – hiring more process people, which in turn forces out the remaining creative talent. This culture shift ripples down from the top and what once felt like a company on a mission to change the world now feels like another job.

As process oriented as the new CEOs are, you get the sense that one of the things they don’t love and aren’t driving are the products (go look at the Apple Watch announcements and see who demos the product).

Tim Cook has now run Apple for five years, long enough for this to be his company rather than Steve Jobs’. The parallel between Gates and Ballmer and Jobs and Cook is eerie. Apple under Cook has doubled its revenues to $200 billion while doubling profit and tripling the amount of cash it has in the bank (now a quarter of trillion dollars). The iPhone continues its annual upgrades of incremental improvements. Yet in five years the only new thing that managed to get out the door is the Apple Watch. With 115,000 employees Apple can barely get annual updates out for their laptops and desktop computers.

But the world is about to disrupt Apple in the same way that Microsoft under Ballmer faced disruption. Apple brilliantly mastered User Interface and product design to power the iPhone to dominance. But Google and Amazon are betting that the next of wave of computing products will be AI-directed services – machine intelligence driving apps and hardware. Think of Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Assistant directed by voice recognition that’s powered by smart, conversational Artificial Intelligence – and most of these will be a new class of devices scattered around your house, not just on your phone. It’s possible that betting on the phone as the platform for conversational AI may not be the winning hand.

It’s not that Apple doesn’t have exciting things in conversational AI going on in their labs. Heck, Siri was actually first. Apple also has autonomous car projects, AI-based speakers, augmented and virtual reality, etc in their labs. The problem is that a supply chain CEO who lacks a passion for products and has yet to articulate a personal vision of where to Apple will go is ill equipped to make the right organizational, business model and product bets to bring those to market.

Four Challenges for the Board of Directors
The dilemma facing the boards at Microsoft, Apple or any board of directors on the departure of an innovative CEO is strategic: Do we still want to be a innovative, risk taking company?  Or should we now focus on execution of our core business, reduce our risky bets and maximize shareholder return.

Tactically, that question results in asking: Do you search for another innovator from outside, promote one of the executors or go deeper down the organization to find an innovator?

Herein lies four challenges. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates (and 20th century’s other creative icon -Walt Disney) shared the same blind spot: They suggested execution executives as their successors. They confused world-class execution with the passion for product and customers, and market insight. From the perspective of Gates there was no difference between him and Ballmer and from Jobs to Cook. Yet history has shown us for long-term survival in markets that change rapidly that’s definitely not the case.

The second conundrum is that if the board decides that the company needs another innovator at the helm, you can almost guarantee that the best executor – the number 2 and/or 3 vice president in the company – will leave, feeling that they deserved the job. Now the board is faced with not only having lost its CEO, but potentially the best of the executive staff.

The third challenge is that many innovative/visionary CEOs have become part of the company’s brand. Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Immelt, Elon Musk, Mark Benioff, Larry Ellison. This isn’t a new phenomenon, think of 20th-century icons like Walt Disney, Edward Land at Polaroid, Henry Ford, Lee Iacocca at Chrysler, Jack Welch at GE and Alfred Sloan at GM. But they’re not only an external face to the company, they were often the touchstone for internal decision-making. Years after a visionary CEO is gone companies are still asking “What would Walt Disney/Steve Jobs/Henry Ford have done?” rather than figuring out what they should now be doing in the changing market.

Finally, the fourth conundrum is that as companies grow larger and management falls prey to the fallacy that it only exists to maximize shareholder short-term return on investment, companies become risk averse. Large companies and their boards live in fear of losing what they spent years gaining (customers, market share, revenue, profits.) This may work in stable markets and technologies. But today very few of those remain.

In the 21st Century an Execution CEO as a Successor Increasingly May be The Wrong Choice
In a startup the board of directors realizes that risk is the nature of new ventures and innovation is why they exist. On day one there are no customers to lose, no revenue and profits to decline. Instead there is everything to gain. In contrast, large companies are often risk-averse engines – they are executing a repeatable and scalable business model that spins out the short-term dividends, revenue and profits that the stock market rewards. And an increasing share price becomes the reason for existing. The irony is that in the 21st century, the tighter you hold on to your current product/markets, the likelier you will be disrupted. (As articulated in the classic Clayton Christensen book The Innovators Dilemma, in industries with rapid technology or market shifts, disruption cannot be ignored.)

Increasingly, a hands-on product/customer, and business model-centric CEO with an entrepreneurial vision of the future may be the difference between market dominance and Chapter 11. In these industries, disruption will create opportunities that force “bet the company” decisions about product direction, markets, pricing, supply chain, operations and the reorganization necessary to execute a new business model.  At the end of the day CEOs who survive embrace innovation, communicate a new vision and build management to execute the vision.

Lessons Learned

Innovation CEOs are almost always replaced by one of their execution VPs

  • If they have inherited a powerful business model this often results in gains in revenue and profits that can continue for years
  • However, as soon the market, business model, technology shifts, these execution CEOs are ill-equipped to deal with the change – the result is a company obsoleted by more agile innovators and left to live off momentum in its twilight years

Courtesy of *Steve Blank’s October 2016 Post which also appeared in the Harvard Business Review    –  (*Steve is considered the “Godfather” of Lean Startup in Silicon Valley as a new venture method.)


Realizing a skills-based (STEM) future in the workforce for Young Women

A digital society is a dynamic one. In the future, new technologies will regularly enter the marketplace, continuing to make lifelong learning necessary. A skills-based economy means that degrees and hierarchies will no longer be as relevant. When abilities are prioritized above factors like gender, more women could feel empowered to enter the STEM industry, knowing they’d be less likely to be assessed on the basis of gender.

Recently, Dr. France A. Córdova, director of the National Science Foundation, gave a presentation at the U.S. Council on Competitiveness meeting in Washington, D.C. She holds an extraordinary record of accomplishment and has made a tremendous impact on academia and the U.S.’s scientific community. Córdova is also the youngest person — and first woman — to serve as Chief Scientist at NASA. Her journey began with her love for STEM.

In some ways, the future of work is largely linked to STEM. Yet in this day and age, despite role models like Córdova, women continue to remain significantly underrepresented across the board in this industry. What’s more, the inevitable reality of an AI-integrated workforce is coming.

According to recent research, women make up just 26 percent of those who hold computer- and math-related jobs. Moreover, data from UNESCO indicates that only 35 percent of women go into STEM, of which a mere 3 percent decided to pursue fields like IT. And when it comes to computer science degrees in the U.S., only 18 percent of them are earned by female college graduates.

Interestingly, in Eastern Europe, more women tend to pursue STEM. About 74 percent of women occupy medical professions in countries like Estonia and Latvia. In Bulgaria, 27 percent of IT workers are women –– a nine-fold lead over the U.S. And Eastern European countries boast the highest proportion of women who work in high-tech companies.

These results are partly a product of socialist-era policies that encouraged females to pursue the maths and sciences in the name of the State’s advancement. American can learn from the policy initiative of driving the populace to pursue STEM via large-scale campaigns for societal betterment.

Though Eastern Europe trumps America when it comes to women in STEM, many females who do choose to explore the industry report experiencing gender discrimination. Results from a survey of 1,000 college-aged women conducted by Girls Who Code suggested that “half [of the women] had either had a negative experience applying for a job in tech or know a woman who has.” Furthermore, of the survey respondents that reported a negative encounter, 25 percent said their interviewers focused on “their personal attributes rather than their skills” and 21 percent of women said they “encountered biased questions.”

In light of this pressing issue, female-centric STEM initiatives has appeared across the US. Among the best known national programs include the previously mentioned Girls Who Code organization, as well as Kode With Klossy, run by former supermodel Karlie Kloss. And though specialized STEM programs for girls are a step in the right direction, we need to make a leap. Current efforts aren’t nearly comprehensive enough to adequately prepare women for an AI-augmented reality and work towards solving the problem of discrimination and the gender gap.

We can take advantage of the inescapable marriage of technology and biology to craft a novel multi-part solution for helping solve the discrimination and STEM gender gap:

  1. STEM awareness campaigns:Evangelize STEM in the workforce of tomorrow.
  2. Special science and technology tracks for girls:Create a separate, more advanced science and technology curriculum for girls during early education due to biological developments in maturity.
  3. AI in interviewing:Implementing carefully vetted AI in hiring procedures to potentially help eliminate gender-bias discrimination.
  4. Realizing a skills-based future:Create an understanding that the future economy will likely be skills-based rather than degree-based.

Nationwide STEM awareness campaigns and action-oriented programs

“Women make up just under half (47 percent) of the workforce, but they are 58 percent of workers at the highest risk of automation,” states a recent report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Therefore, the digital workforce revolution could drive some women to encounter high levels of job insecurity.

But just how much of a threat does automation pose? According to the U.S. Census, between 2006 and 2010, 96 percent of secretarial and administrative positions were occupied by women. Females also reportedly hold 77 percent of teaching positions and 78 percent of central-office administrator roles.

Learning from eastern Europe, America can introduce “STEM awareness campaigns,” large-scale private-public initiatives through which the government, academic and private institutions work in tandem to educate the public about STEM. One example of a current STEM awareness initiative is STEMFuture, an international non-profit organization that provides education and workshops for adolescents to encourage careers in technology, math and science.

STEM awareness campaigns have the potential to significantly lessen the strain of automation on women and deliver a new set of opportunities and benefits to the female workforce of tomorrow.

Launching advanced separate technology coursework geared for girls

Scientific research suggests the female brain matures faster than the male brain and possesses unique structural attributes. For example, girls tend to have stronger neural networks in the temporal lobe, leading to better memorization and listening abilities. In addition, the corpus callosum (a weave of fibers that conjoin the left and right hemispheres of the brain), can be up to 25 percent larger in developing female adolescents than in their male counterparts.

Currently, schools teach boys and girls at an equivalent pace, neglecting their separate biological needs. If educators take advantage of development differences, special STEM curriculums could be crafted for girls at an early age. This could help bring STEM to girls across classrooms in the U.S. and encourage them to explore the field more deeply.

AI-augmented HR interviewers

Using AI to improve the HR hiring process isn’t news. Many companies use AI recruitment software that aims to make hiring more efficient or cut down on bias. This innovation suggests that AI will remain central to the future workplace environment.

According to a Pew Research report, “about  four in ten working women (42 percent) in the United States say they have faced discrimination on the job because of their gender.” Moreover, another another study by Pew suggests that 50 percent of women in STEM jobs have experienced gender discrimination. Carefully vetted AI could help decrease gender bias discrimination in STEM by exclusively assessing candidates based on skills.