The 24-year old jewelry designer, whose rings have been spotted on Serena Williams and Meghan Markle, uses half her profits to fund female entrepreneurs

Shilpa Yarlagadda looks at the camera wearing a white coat
Shilpa Yarlagadda

This article was originally published on November 4th, 2020. On September 14th, 2021 Meghan Markle wore Shiffon jewelry on the cover of Times’ 100 Most Influential List. This article has been updated to reflect that.

When Shilpa Yarlagadda was in between her freshman and sophomore years at Harvard, she had an idea.

At the time, she was a computer science major with no experience in jewelry. She did, however, have the desire to make a change. In Indian culture, jewelry holds great sentimental value and is something that is typically passed down for generations, said Yarlagadda. And as a Silicon Valley native, Yarlagadda grew up close to one of the US’ venture capital hotspots. Her idea was a jewelry business that would also “give women access to venture capital and opportunities beyond the capital,” she told Insider in a 2020 interview.

She took $5,000 in savings and $20,000 she won from a grant in high school to launch fine jewelry company Shiffon in 2017. Half of Shiffon’s profits are given to the company’s nonprofit organization, the Startup Girl Foundation, which focuses on funding female-owned businesses.

The Startup Girl Foundation takes equity in each company it invests in and all returns go back to the foundation so it can invest in more businesses. “Twenty-five thousand sounded like a lot of money, but now growing and seeing what other founders are able to do, I’m realizing it actually wasn’t,” she said. “We had to be really resourceful in what we did.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pose for the cover of Times' 100 most influential. On her left pink ring,  Markle wears a white suit while Harry is dressed in all Black.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pose for the cover of Times’ 100 most influential. On her left finger, Markle wears a Shiffon pinky ring.

Now 24 years old, Yarlagadda’s business is thriving – along with the companies she invested in – and her jewelry has been spotted on Emma Watson, Kate Moss, Serena Williams, Amanda Gorman, and Shailene Woodley. Recently, Meghan Markle wore a Shiffon ring on the cover of Times’ 2021 100 ‘most influential’ people issue, which she shared with husband Prince Harry.

Last November, Shiffon partnered with When We All Vote – co-chaired by Michelle Obama – to create a line of jewelry encouraging people to vote.

“In the boardrooms, women are still not given a fair and equal say,” Yarlagadda said. “We wanted to inspire and remind women how hard they work to get these rights and that their voice matters.”

Shiffon rings have a symbolic meaning

Shiffon’s most famous product is the Pinky Ring, a version of which the Duchess of Sussex sported on her Times cover.

It’s a pinky ring to represent the pinky promise that women will pay it forward to other women and is adjustable so it can fit everyone, Yarlagadda said.

Priced between $155 and $780, the ring’s spiral designs represent how the company aims to help women spiral upward. Those who buy the rings unlock a secret menu that gives them access to more Shiffon products.

This year the company also expanded into creating hoop earrings in which 19.65% of profits will be invested back into female businesses through the Startup Girl Foundation. The year 1965 was the year the Voting Rights Act passed, which protected voting rights for all women – especially those of color.

Shiffon

To date, profits from Shiffon have gone to support 11 startups, including the bra company Pepper and the espadrille brand Sea Star Beachwear, Yarlagadda said. This kind of investment is sorely needed: Last year, just 2.3% of VC funding went to startups led by women, down from 2.8% the year prior. That number is even more dismal for women of color.

“If we can create exponential growth and a chain reaction, it’s going to help us reach equality in the venture capital and business ecosystem sooner,” Yarlagadda said.

Shilpa Yarlagadda stands against a wall wearing a Harvard sweater
Shilpa Yarlagadda

Providing mentorship opportunities is also key for female entrepreneurs

Shiffon has a mentorship board including stylist Sarah Slutsky, Obama’s stylist Meredith Koop, photographers Inez & Vinoodh, and former Elle Editor-in-Chief Robbie Myers, who also advise the founders that Startup Girl Foundation invests in.

Mentorship has played a big part in Yarlagadda’s career, and it’s almost as important for young entrepreneurs to receive mentorship as it is to receive capital, she said.

“Having key advice from people who’ve been there before and people that you look up to can just really make a huge difference,” Yarlagadda added.

Her own mentorship journey began in the early days of her business when she started contacting people she looked up to, including Slutsky, who is best known for working with celebrities like Emma Watson and Tory Burch.

A post shared by SHIFFON (@shiffonco)

It was Slutsky who, in addition to providing mentorship, taught Yarlagadda about the Kimberley Process – a certification scheme that requires participants to source conflict-free diamonds – and helped her find diamonds.

Yarlagadda has also been a mentor to the female founders who are part of her foundation, including Trisha Goyal, founder of tennis company Break The Love.

Founded in 2019, the company seeks to make tennis more accessible and has worked with Burch, sports equipment company Wilson, and received capital from Adidas’ venture fund. Goyal told Insider the foundation has given her resources on how to stand out in the male-dominated sports industry, and that Yarlagadda has reminded her that each small win is an important win for every person who comes after her.

“We jumped through so many hoops to get here and there are so many more hoops to come,” Yarlagadda said. “We’re going to have to continue advocating for women more, and I just like to remind women to use their voices, and that their voices matter.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Netflix cofounder Marc Randolph said the ‘glorification of entrepreneurship’ has set up a mistaken perception of what it takes to launch a business

Marc Randolph
Marc Randolph.

  • Many aspiring founders misunderstand what running a company takes, said Netflix’s co-founder.

  • Marc Randolph said the availability of startup education had ‘glorified’ the idea of running one.
  • He said it’s a often a much more repetitious, grinding and disappointing career choice.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Netflix cofounder Marc Randolph says that the “glorification of entrepreneurship” has given many aspiring entrepreneurs a mistaken perception about the true reality of building a company.

Randolph spoke to aspiring entrepreneurs at the Qatar Foundation and was asked whether the explosion of resources and education available to prospective founders over the last decade was helpful, or whether he felt that entrepreneurship was a skill that could not be taught.

“One of the downsides of this glorification of entrepreneurship is people have this mistaken belief [in] what it really means to do this,” said Randolph.

“They think it’s all pitching, going to parties and launches – it is not. It’s a very, very repetitious, grinding, scary and sometimes disappointing career, where you’re doing things that don’t work over and over and over again,” he added.

Overall, the increase of resources is a positive thing, said Randolph, because it has made it easier to become an entrepreneur and helped to build a community. It becomes problematic however, when people start to believe that this education alone is sufficient to launch a business.

He said it’s the equivalent to people thinking they can learn how to play golf simply by watching YouTube videos and reading books.

“Anyone who’s ever played golf before realises that’s a very poor substitute for actually going out and swinging a club,” he said.

Randolph instead encouraged anyone seriously thinking of becoming an entrepreneur to “just do it.”

Because growing a business is an all-consuming experience, he said it’s important that anyone considering starting a company does so for the right reasons. However, he added that for those “intensely curious” about how to make things work, like him, it’s an amazing career.

He recommended starting small – by launching a website, selling something or making a single product – instead of going out and thinking that you’re going to raise millions and employ hundreds of people overnight. “That is the only way that you will internalise the skills,” he said.

Randolph cofounded Netflix, which has a market cap of over $240 billion, as a dvd-by-mail service with Reed Hastings in 1997. He left in 2002 and went on to successfully found over half a dozen companies.

He published his memoir, “That Will Never Work,” in 2019, detailing his time and lessons from the early years of Netflix.

Earlier in his talk, he explained to an audience of founders that all successful entrepreneurs share the same three traits: focus, an ability to triage, and a predisposition for action.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Remote workers holding 2 jobs shows a ton of jobs aren’t really 40 hours per week

Man coding on two computers
One computer for the first job, another for the side gig.

Entrepreneurialism is a treasured American value, unless you work for a company.

After all, what’s more entrepreneurial than working two jobs when you could work just one? Some remote workers have done just this, but because of American work culture, they’ve kept it a secret.

The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted several white-collar workers who shuffle two or more full-time jobs, carefully aligning their schedules to avoid meeting overlaps and doing their best to keep their multiple gigs secret from each other.

Many of the workers in the article noted that only a small share of their time at their first job was spent doing productive work, enabling the multiple-job bait and switch. According to the Journal, one software engineer said “he was logging three to 10 hours of actual work a week back when he held down one job,” with the rest of the time spent on extraneous meetings and busywork.

While the six people interviewed by the Journal are naturally not a representative sample, the idea that there’s so much dead time in many occupations that it’s possible to do multiple “full-time” jobs at once suggests that it may be time to rethink the 40-hour work week.

Americans work more hours than most developed countries, but they probably don’t need to

Workers in the US already log a lot of hours at their jobs. This chart, based on data from the OECD, shows the average number of hours worked in 2020 among workers in the G7 advanced countries:

But as the anecdotes highlighted by the Journal suggest, for many white-collar workers, much of that time at the office may be wasted. Non-essential activities like excessive meetings or a flood of emails and messages from colleagues can take up a larger part of the day than core productive tasks.

Think of work like watching an NFL game and how much “sport” it actually contains. Kirk Goldsberry and Katherine Rowe estimated in an article at FiveThirtyEight that the average football game lasts for over three hours, but only includes 18 minutes of actual football. The rest of the broadcast time is filled with clock stoppages, half-time reports, and so many commercials.

The fifth Zoom meeting of your day that may not be essential to your job, and could be more like the fifth time you see that beer commercial in the third quarter of the Buffalo Bills game.

One of the greatest 20th-century economists predicted we’d be working 15 hours a week by now

In a famous 1930 essay, “Economic possibilities for our grandchildren,” the British economist John Maynard Keynes observed the enormous leaps in productivity over the previous couple centuries stemming from the rapid technological progress of the industrial revolution.

He concluded that work of the future would take less time.

Within 100 years, he predicted, output per worker would be so great that only a minimal effort would be needed to provide for the basic needs of the entire population. To distribute that work, Keynes predicted “we shall endeavour to spread the bread thin on the butter – to make what work there is still to be done to be as widely shared as possible. Three-hour shifts or a fifteen-hour week may put off the problem for a great while.”

More recently, several companies and countries have started experimenting with a four-day work week, finding that workers stayed just as productive while improving well-being. Of course, as Keynes’ prediction above underscores, broader adoption of shorter hours has remained elusive for decades.

As seen in the G7 chart above, that 15-hour work week, or even a more modest four-day week, has not yet come to pass, at least not officially. If someone can do two 40-hour jobs per week in something close to 40 hours, that means they are doing roughly 20 hours of work for each. It’s not far off Keynes’ prediction, except it’s an absurd distortion of his hopes for his proverbial grandchildren (he left no children behind when he died in 1946).

Instead of a 40-hour job being replaced by a 15-hour one, it seems we’ve replaced it with two.

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A Silicon Valley founder shares the 6 traits she looks for in the entrepreneurs she invests in

Following is a transcript of the video.

Arlan Hamilton: I’m Arlan Hamilton and I’m the founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital.

When I’m looking at companies and founders, I’m looking across the table to find someone who reminds me of myself, who has tenacity, grit, hustle, all of that, who’s working on something bigger than themselves and understands that and who can take, hopefully, take constructive criticism maybe slightly better than I can.

The advice I give to leaders, especially those who are underrepresented is to remain true to themselves and to stay authentic and not to change for someone else and especially not to change for a dollar.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in May 2019.

Read the original article on Business Insider

5 ways businesses can benefit from following Amazon’s customer-centric growth strategy

Amazon Jeff Bezos
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

  • In 1997, Jeff Bezos promised Amazon would focus relentlessly on its customers, and it has.
  • By implementing a customer-centric mission into your own business, you can mirror Amazon’s growth.
  • Tailor your products to evolving needs, prioritize customer satisfaction, and diversify your services.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The famous words of hotelier Cesar Ritz, “the customer is never wrong,” are as true today as they were over 100 years ago. Although the sentiment has remained consistent throughout the decades, strategies and tactics to establish a customer-centric model are constantly evolving, and companies that fail to understand their customers can’t remain competitive in a packed digital ecosystem for too long.

It would be tough to find an organization with a better strategic model than Amazon.

Amazon’s current mission statement is, “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavours to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.” The company’s goals have always been customer-centric. In 1997, Jeff Bezos promised Amazon would “focus relentlessly on our customers.” He also said, “We see our customers as guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”

Here are five ways businesses can benefit from the Amazon customer-centric growth strategy.

Read more: Writers you’ve never heard of are quietly making more than $10,000 a month self-publishing on Amazon Kindle. They share 4 tips on how to get started with no experience.

1. Make the customer your central focus

The customer is at the heart of everything Amazon does. In a 2013 interview, Bezos said, “I would define Amazon by our big ideas, which are customer centricity, putting the customer at the center of everything we do, invention.”

If you consider some of the things Amazon offers, such as Prime delivery, one-click ordering, recommendations, special deals, and real-time assistance, all of them serve to benefit the customer.

2. Release new products specific to your customers’ needs

When Amazon first started in 1994, the idea of making a digital purchase was still new. There was a long way to building customer trust in buying things online, which Amazon met because of the emphasis on customer service. Since then, the company has expanded into other products and services that all meet the consumer’s needs. Preferences will constantly change, and your products need to evolve with them.

Always focus on “who” and “why” when creating a product with your target audience at the center of everything. Test it, talk to your customers about it, and make sure it solves a problem for them. The starting point for a product definition is a customer-centric document that doesn’t concern itself with technical details. If you can’t tell customers why they need your product, it probably isn’t going to sell.

3. Invest in research and development to provide more customer satisfaction

It turns out that customers are quite willing to tell us what they want if we ask them about it and listen. Investment in research and development to understand the customer’s needs is crucial to a customer-centric growth strategy. In 2019, Amazon spent $42.7 billion on research and development (which they call technology and content). The costs reflect how the company wants to invest in numerous areas of technology and content to enhance the customer experience continually and improve process efficiency through rapid technology developments.

Customer surveys, focus groups, and review platforms are all ways that small and medium-sized enterprises can start investing in R&D. Experimentation can be initiated by employees at all levels within the company to create new knowledge, which is what R&D is all about. For every idea, ask how it will make things easier for your customers, and if there is a clear answer, it’s one worth driving forwards.

4. Diversify into new trending markets

Over the last two decades, Amazon has become a constantly changing ecosystem of products and systems, including the Kindle, Alexa, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and the purchase of Wholefoods. AWS alone is thought to produce around 50% of Amazon profits, emphasizing how diversifying into new markets can positively impact revenue. Always keep one eye on new markets so you can meet your customers wherever they are. It will foster loyalty and appreciation to ensure market diversification is a success.

5. Use innovation and creation to increase your audience

Every business should want to innovate its customer experience and continue to be unique by offering something that your competition cannot. Of course, innovation does not happen overnight, but keeping up with trends and encouraging creativity should be at the core of a customer-centric growth strategy.

Amazon responded to the “now” economy with Amazon Prime delivery to give customers free shipping on thousands of products. They also pioneered one-click ordering using pre-set options. Amazon Lockers allow customers to pick up items from numerous locations worldwide. The @AmazonHelp Twitter account handles customer queries seven days a week in seven languages. Recently, Amazon Go has introduced a checkout-less store.

The list of innovations from Amazon still goes on, whilst the customer is at the center of each and differentiates Amazon from its competition. Amazon is a multi-billion dollar business that has had several years to develop and perfect its customer-centric model. Although the capabilities of the tech conglomerate are out of the reach of the average business, these five aspects of the customer-centric model can offer inspiration from which any business can benefit.

Read the original article on Business Insider

7 ways for women to overcome imposter syndrome and climb the ranks at work

female professional talking to coworkers
Lean into anything uncomfortable and use your voice whenever possible.

  • Women are staggeringly absent from upper-level leadership positions in the American workforce.
  • To break through the glass ceiling, figure out what’s blocking you, let go of it, and take risks.
  • Consider hiring a coach or mentor to push you forward and help overcome imposter syndrome.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Women hold less than 5% of CEO positions in the US and Europe, according to Financial Times, and over two million women left the workforce in 2020. Many factors contribute to these realities, which leave women feeling tired, disempowered, and unmotivated, sometimes to the point of self-sabotage. The term “glass ceiling” was created by Marilyn Loden; the phrase is a metaphor for the invisible barrier that prevents women from achieving elevated professional success.

Despite making up 50.8% of the US population and 58.2% of the civil labor force according to the US Census, women are staggeringly absent from upper-level leadership positions in the American workforce.

Read more: 2 women entrepreneurs – one in tech, one in food – reveal what worked in getting investors on board and raising millions for their businesses

Efforts to shatter glass ceilings in the workplace and life are still underway. Over the years, I’ve seen women still hesitating, hiding, and holding back – allowing limiting beliefs, situations, and circumstances to take over. Shattering inner and outer glass ceilings is critical for change to occur. Transformational work always starts with the inner work, which creates larger impact and influence.

Here are seven ways to shatter your own glass ceilings that may be holding you back.

1. Release and redefine

Think about a belief or behavior that may be blocking you currently: What meaning are you giving it? Where did those thoughts and stories originate? Once you identify what’s holding you back, write it on a piece of paper and then go bury, burn, or release it. Then, redefine what it is that you desire. Come up with a new thought, belief, story, or behavior that you want to adopt. In every moment, you have a choice to see and create differently. What will you release and redefine today?

2. Break out of the “good girl” mentality

Growing up, girls are praised for being a “good girl” via messages reinforced by society, media, parents, teachers, and other influences. It’s your responsibility to break free from the programmed “good girl” messages. One way of doing this is to take more risks, assert your ideas, and express yourself authentically. Breaking free from what you are expected to do is the key to following your heart and your joy, which honors yourself and your truth.

3. Use your voice

A recent survey of 1,100 US working adults conducted by Catalyst, a nonprofit that works to increase women in leadership, found that 45% of women business leaders say it’s difficult for women to speak up in virtual meetings. One in five say they’ve felt ignored or overlooked by colleagues during video calls. While this happens in business and in the virtual world, this also happens in everyday life.

Women are not owning their full power or utilizing their voice because they fear others’ judgments and risk ruining their reputation. One way of strengthening this muscle is by leaning into the uncomfortable and taking imperfect action. Every time you use your voice, it makes it easier to make it a habit. Where can you start to use your voice more, regardless of how you feel? Don’t worry about what you sound like or who is judging you.

4. Find or hire a mentor, coach, or advocate

Olympians, actors, actresses, and the majority of highly successful people all have one thing in common: They have mentors and coaches to support them, guide them, hold them accountable, challenge, and push them. Personal blind spots can occur, and a third party can help you shift and show you different ways of looking at things that you may have never thought about before.

5. Praise and promote yourself

Know your worth. A study done by KPMG found that 75% of female executives across industries have experienced imposter syndrome in their careers. Imposter syndrome involves persistent feelings of inadequacy, chronic self-doubt, and feeling like a phony despite past and current accomplishments and successes. How can imposter syndrome be eliminated? It starts by celebrating ourselves and each other.

The first step is to remember and own all of your past successes, achievements, and accomplishments. You can set aside some time and list out every single success, achievement, and accomplishment as far back as you can remember. Praise yourself every day, write yourself a note, look in the mirror, and speak to yourself – then celebrate all of your blessings. Finally, take action and get yourself out there. Promote yourself, connect with someone new, or send that email. It doesn’t matter how you do it; it matters that you do it.

6. Ask for what you want

Do you ask for what you want? Do you ask for help and support? Asking requires vulnerability and getting over the fear of rejection. First, get clear about what the ask needs to be: What do you want and need? Then, take action because every time you take action, your confidence increases. Remember, if you never ask, the answer is always no.

7. Find a support system

Find a strong circle of support. Your environment can either make you, break you, or keep you stagnant and stuck. We are truly the average of our environments, and if someone or something isn’t making you stronger, he or she is making you weaker. Breaking the glass ceiling and finding an environment that’s going to challenge you will change your life. Research different online groups; ask friends, mentors, and people who have what you want. Success leaves clues.

Every action you take creates a legacy for the next generations to come.

Read the original article on Business Insider

SpaceX’s Rideshare is making it far easier to launch satellites into orbit. In-Space Missions explains how it’s using the program to help customers realise their ambitions.

A rendering of In-Space Missions' Faraday spacecraft that was launched in the SpaceX rocket
In-Space Mission’s tech will allow future satellites to be customizable from the ground.

  • SpaceX’s Rideshare has helped cut the timescale for getting into orbit from years to a few months.
  • UK firm In-Space Missions is using the program to develop its own customizable satellite tech.
  • It was able to send one of the 88 small satellites, or smallsats, that recently launched into orbit.

When you spend millions to build a satellite – each second you wait for its launch carries the weight of years of hard work.

Nobody knows that better than Doug Liddle, co-founder and CEO of In-Space Missions, and a nearly 30-year veteran of the space industry. He also led the design of the first Galileo satellite demonstrator, Europe’s premier global navigation satellite system.

Founded almost six years ago, Hampshire-based In-Space Missions aim to achieve a significant reduction in traditional timescales to get technology in orbit. The company designs, builds and operates bespoke missions for clients.

Using SpaceX’s Rideshare, which uses the orbital class reusable rocket Falcon 9, In-Space Missions recently sent one of the 88 small satellites, or smallsats, that went into orbit.

For large satellites, Liddle would previously have spent $11.8 million to launch one. Now the cost is around $1 million.

SpaceX has revolutionized the cost, Liddle said: “It isn’t just the slots on their rockets that are a low price. They’re also going several times a year. You can fill up a 200 kilogram slot on the rocket for $1 million, which is crazy. Compared to what it used to be.”

After having worked for the European Space Agency, the UK’s Ministry of Defence and several private firms, Liddle decided to cater to smaller businesses or early-stage startups valued in the $20 million range.

“There are people with great business ideas, who don’t know how to get their stuff into space,” he said.

Satellites provide deep insight for climate-crisis research but also have many common applications, including gathering data for credit card authorizations or even tracking wildlife.

With the advent of SpaceX’s reusable rockets, Liddle said the sky’s the limit for making space exploration more accessible.

“We’re in a world now where people can come out of university, set up a space company, and get something in space in a couple of years,” he said. “That was just unheard of even 10 years ago.”

In fact, his company is already spearheading its own technological advancements to further equalize the space race, while also making it sustainable.

Governments are increasingly implementing rules to reduce the environmental impact of spaceflight. More than 27,000 pieces of orbital debris, or “space junk” are tracked by the US Department of Defense, according to NASA.

“You can’t just keep putting things into space,” Liddle said. “There is only physically so much space you can go into before you start banging into each other.”

Historically, each launched satellite has served a sole purpose. Liddle’s team, however, is not only hosting multiple customers on their satellite but has also designed technology that allows future satellites to be customizable from the ground. It’s expected to be publicly available in 12 to 18 months.

Liddle said: “We’ve developed a piece of technology that’s flying on this satellite, which we’re then going to expand and fly on future ones, that will allow people to, from the ground, upload their payload, their service, their application. So it would be like every app on your phone.”

The technology his team is developing will reduce the timescale from a few years to three to four months.

He used the analogy of using one piece of software to access Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram.

“The technology that’s available now has got us to the place where you can fly loads of people in one spacecraft,” he said. “You can reconfigure it in software from the ground and upgrade it in the same way your phone will upgrade every so many months. You can do exactly the same with spacecraft now.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

4 practices for onboarding remote workers to make sure they feel included and prepared

microsoft middle east remote work
Open communication is key for a remote team to operate smoothly.

  • Onboarding remote workers in a way that makes them included and productive is essential.
  • Ensure that everyone on the team is warm and welcoming, and schedule regular hangouts and check-ins.
  • Improve communication by having non-work discussions, and make the remote worker feel appreciated.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As a consequence of the past year-plus, more than half of workers now say they’d prefer that their employers offer a more flexible, hybrid virtual-working model that allows employees to toggle between home and the office. Even so, onboarding remote workers is a tricky affair. It’s essential to bring them on in a way that makes them feel included and sets them up for great productivity. Here’s four tips to help ease the transition.

Read more: Verizon is letting job functions determine if its 133,000 employees should work from home, in the office, or both. 3 staffers shared how their routines will change.

1. Offer a welcome from everyone, not just you

When you bring on a remote employee, you’re not just putting them under you. You’re bringing them into your larger group. If you want them to feel like they fit in, then everybody in the group has to be warm and welcoming, not just you.

As an example, just recently, I brought in a new team member from London. I had everybody shoot her an email to say hello and connect with her. We also sent her a jacket we’d created that had not just the company logo but the logo for the group she was a part of, too. This way, she was able to come into work with something all of us already had. The atmosphere was really supportive, and she felt connected almost right away because of those small gestures.

2. Set up regular meetings between you and the new employee

Staying with my London worker example, I’ve intentionally dedicated about 30 minutes a day to meeting online with her. There are two big reasons you should have these regular check-ins.

First, working remotely can get pretty lonely. Your employee isn’t interacting with others the same way they would if they were coming into the office. So, when I meet with my London hire, I have a great opportunity to break that isolation in a simple but really caring way and make sure she’s at least talking with me.

Second, you want your new hires to get to know you so you can build some trust. During the pandemic, I actually had another employee who’d been onboarded leave our business and go back to the company they’d worked at before. A big reason for that exit was that nobody had really built a relationship with them. The old saying that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers, really struck me as true. I didn’t want to repeat the same mistake, so building a connection with the London employee became a priority for me.

3. Have regular team meetings that aren’t all about work

All your workers are on your team because they bring something fantastic to your business. But they’re also human beings. If you want to understand them and build real connections, then you have to see all of who they are, not just their business side.

I have some team meetings that don’t focus exclusively on work. I get people to ask questions about each other, or I throw out questions just to help people expand their imaginations. It helps me and everyone else see how everybody thinks and operates. It also improves how comfortable we are with communicating in a more authentic way.

4. Give the remote employee responsibility right away

Any new hire is going to need a little guidance before they’re totally off and running on their own. But they still need to feel like they have an important role to play and a responsibility to get work done. This is an especially big deal for remote workers, because if they’re not going to have as many opportunities for interaction, then they need to know beyond any doubt that they’re contributing with purpose and have the trust of the team.

With my London hire, I brought her into conversations with the president of our European branch. She immediately felt connected because we dove right into business. She wasn’t just following someone around. I actually asked for her opinion, and she was able to give it to me.

No matter the role of your remote worker, be truly present with them. Instead of just running from meeting to meeting as they try to figure things out, make sure they’ve got some meaningful work to do right out of the gate. Give them easy ways to contribute, and validate those contributions early.

Remote work has hurdles, but clear strategies can get you over them

It’s still not clear just how many employees will prefer a hybrid work environment or go completely remote in the future. But the likelihood that you’ll have more people on your team who don’t regularly come into your office is only increasing. Approach onboarding your remote workers with a real strategy. If you tackle the challenges of remote environments with intentional effort, then no challenge will be insurmountable.

Read the original article on Business Insider

5 tips for using your professional expertise to launch a profitable business

businesswoman
Professionals can turn academic expertise into a business if they’re willing to take risks.

  • More trained professionals are turning their academic expertise into businesses, says entrepreneur Cohin Kakar.
  • You don’t need formal business training to be able to identify consumer demands and needs in your specialty.
  • Once you’re an expert in your craft, plan your business venture carefully but also be willing to take risks.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The American education system is set up to teach and train individuals to become experts and key thought leaders in the specific fields that they choose. Given the rising costs of education, rarely can students choose more than one area to specialize in. If and when the day arrives that one wants to start a business of their own, it is quite the challenge to learn the fundamentals of entrepreneurship later and confidently do so. Additionally, many people have been trained in the sciences or the arts, so finance and accounting seem like foreign languages to them. So how are so many specialized healthcare professionals creating booming privately-owned businesses across the country?

As a formally trained Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D.), I had a unique advantage with an MBA in Entrepreneurship before enrolling in Pharmacy School. This opened my eyes and gave me the knowledge and inspiration to one day be able to start my own business. When most people hear of the Pharmacy profession, generally, they think about their local community Pharmacist at a nearby retail location. However, the skillset attained within school goes beyond the community realm and can be extremely useful in other areas. My career, post-Pharmacy School, began in industry where I learned more about the business of pharmaceuticals which gave me the knowledge base to co-found our own health and wellness company. My advice to all of the current students that ask is that they should focus on understanding the science and craft of therapeutics, as opposed to the specific job description that they think they may land after school. Once you are an expert in pharmacology, that skill set translates into many areas from community, clinical, industrial, and yes, entrepreneurial.

Many healthcare providers have taken a similar approach, including Dr. Akash Bajaj – a pain specialist and anesthesiologist who is the founder of Remedy Pain Solutions in Marina Del Ray, CA. Dr. Bajaj and I work together with brands TIDL Sport and CytoCx, where he serves as the Medical Director and has dual degrees with an MD and MPH. Physicians like Dr. Bajaj, who has been featured on the CBS TV hit series ‘Doctors,’ have had to build the plane as it is flying and have done an incredible job in the private practice space. No matter what the specialty, individuals can leverage these tips to make the most of their expertise and turn it into a profitable business while still serving the greater good:

1. Become a master of your craft

The first step is to immerse yourself within your training and specialty and have the confidence to be a key thought leader in the space. Do the extra research, spend the time to learn all of the new information and data in your field to truly understand the opportunity within. “I have been fortunate to be involved with several top academic institutions during my training. While the training was fantastic, there were areas that I felt could be improved for the ultimate outcome of increased access to high-quality healthcare,” said Dr. Bajaj. “Thankfully, this vision has resulted in great outcomes and happy patients.”

2. Identify the needs in your specialty that are currently not being addressed

The expertise and experience will help you identify specific pain points within the area. As we see more movement towards plant-based solutions in diet and general health, there is a need for true regulation and compliance within the industry. Taking a quality-focused pharmaceutical approach has become a core initiative of ours. It results in safe products for consumers and efficacious through the pro-quality approach that we take – a unique approach within the wellness industry.

3. Plan responsibly, but develop comfort with risk

“Ready. Fire. Aim!” as Dr. Bajaj puts it, “Time was not waiting for me to be fully prepared. Sometimes you have to take the leap.” In entrepreneurship, there are no guarantees, which is quite different from some of the career paths that we have trained for our entire academic life. Guaranteed salary, retirement plans, and annual bonuses are far from promised in your own business, and it is important to adapt accordingly. Everything will not go according to plan, and it is important to find comfort with that. As long the launchpad for growth has been established – patience is the biggest challenge, not security.

4. Be an expert in your craft, and a student of your business

One of the biggest challenges that many well-trained professionals face is going from being a teacher to being a student. Expertise in science does not translate to expertise in business. Entrepreneurs must be students of their business, regulatory bodies, and the market to be nimble enough to adapt accordingly. “Issues arise, and sometimes we feel like we have no idea how to deal with it, but it is important to be open-minded and learn from those that have gone through it. If they can do it, so can I,” said Dr. Bajaj. Additionally, it’s important to respond to the market and consumer base. Many experts may have a vision of what they believe is an ideal business, but no business is successful without consumer demand, so you must be open-minded enough to cater to that.

5. Part ways with traditional structure

Hourly shifts, call schedules, and a strict 9-5 are out of the window at the exact minute that you decide to start your own business. Instead of reading about drug facts or clinical guidelines, you will find yourself learning more about customer acquisition costs and digital marketing strategies – which can go well beyond traditional working hours. Any entrepreneur will tell you, be ready to work overtime until it is normal time week in and week out. This tends to be a large part of the struggle for professionals that have come from traditional work structures into the start-up space. Nights, evenings, and weekends are no longer blocked off. However, they serve as incredible times to get things done. In retrospect, as you build a business, these are the times you cherish, “I have learned to love the journey, not the destination. Even the bumps in the road are challenges that can teach you,” advised Dr. Bajaj.

We are fortunate to be a part of a generation where we see some of the most well-rounded people ever. The key characteristic that they all have in common is the versatility to not only specialize in different areas but also take calculated risks as they pursue new technologies and ventures. If you dare to think outside of the box, your expertise can carry you to places that you would have never imagined, and the best part? You are still, and always will be, the subject matter expert.

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How to avoid ‘rainbow-washing’ and include allyship and innovation in your Pride marketing efforts instead

Parade-goers make their way down 5th Avenue during the NYC Pride March
Parade-goers make their way down 5th Avenue during the NYC Pride March.

  • Companies often turn to rainbow versions of their products during the month of June for Pride.
  • Rainbow-washing can be lazy, and there are better ways to show support for the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Create awareness, give context, partner with community leaders, and do something outside of June.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

I get pitched a lot by publicists, agents, and agencies for this column. Because I often use the behavior of certain people or companies as a jump-off point for articles, it makes sense that PR professionals would seek out similar coverage for their clients.

Publicists and account reps have many different resources for building their network, and an increasingly popular approach is to join and participate in online communities such as PR-focused Facebook groups. I’m in a few of these myself to stay informed, and the other day I saw a passing post that mentioned some new LGBTQ-related research. I’m always interested in seeing and referencing new data-backed studies, so I commented and asked for the press release.

I thought I wrote, “Feel free to send that report my way.” But from the looks of my inbox the past few weeks, perhaps I blacked out and actually said something more along the lines of “Open Sesame!” because the number of pitches I’ve received lately has been bonkers.

Read more: Young sellers making thousands a month on Depop reveal how they got their start

Brand after brand has forwarded me their “revolutionary” new campaign in which they’ve printed a rainbow version of their product and are giving a portion of proceeds to an LGBTQ-focused charity. I’ll certainly never turn my nose up at a company’s charitable giving efforts. But I’m also worried. For many of these companies, a rainbow version of their product for the month of June feels both performative and – dare I say it – lazy.

We know that we exist. So we want to see more than awareness in your pride marketing; we want to see allyship and innovation. Here are a few ideas on what that could look like – and why companies should care.

Consumer psychology has changed

Consumers increasingly look to where a brand stands on topics of social justice to determine their loyalty. Your customers and clients want to follow your company and buy your product not only for what it does but also for what you stand for.

We all like to purchase from companies that get us. And according to polling data from Gallup, the roar of both the LGBTQ community and economy is only getting louder. Highlights from that data include:

  • 5.6% of Americans identifying as LGBTQ, up from 4.5% in 2017,
  • 9.1% of millennials identifying as LGBTQ, with about half of that population identifying as bisexual, and
  • Nearly 16% of Gen Z identifying as LGBTQ, with 72% of that population identifying as bisexual. 1.8% of Gen Z identifies as transgender.

Translation? Queer people exist, and younger people identify as queer in greater numbers. Oppression efforts continue to run rampant, so we need your help.

As of this writing, 17 anti-transgender bills have already been signed into law this year, per a press release from the Human Rights Campaign. The impact these bills will have on trans youth is staggering; a University of Arizona study found that trans youth experience far higher suicide attempt rates, but an affirmation of their identity and pronouns by parents can greatly reduce this number.

Financial data on the LGBTQ community also paints a complex picture. Mainstream stereotypes depict queer people as lavish and fabulous. But overall, LGBTQ people are more likely to experience socioeconomic inequality, according to a demographics report from UCLA.

As you create awareness for the LGBTQ community during pride month, take time in your messaging to give context. Share with your audience about the current challenges we face as well as where your company stands.

How to attract loyal customers who promote you on their behalf

If pride marketing feels like walking on eggshells this year, here are a few steps you can take that are largely guaranteed to make a difference.

  • Hand the microphone over. Instead of rainbow-washing a community’s needs, partner with a community leader who can speak to important issues in an informed, compelling way. Influencer marketing is still a slippery slope, but spokespeople have been a tried-and-true visibility tactic for decades. The approach is win/win.
  • Do something outside of June. If you’ve missed the opportunity to promote pride in June … there are LGBTQ-related awareness days throughout the year. Your campaign is less likely to get caught in the rainbow-washed echo chamber that is June, too.
  • Go local. GLAAD’s Media Reference Guide includes a directory of community organizations to spotlight and be aware of. What are your local organizations, and how can you encourage supporting them? These grassroots initiatives often make an immediate impact and can literally save lives.

The LGBTQ economy continues to grow, and as a result, the pride marketing landscape is changing. Instead of phoning it in, use marketing dollars to spotlight issues that truly matter to your customers. Challenge yourself to zig when others zag, and you’re more likely to command our market’s attention for months and years to come.

Read the original article on Business Insider