He pointed to a short-term employment model and performance trackers to keep workers on their toes.
3 min read
This story originally appeared on Business Insider
Many of Amazon’s policies were designed to prevent workers from becoming lazy, a former vice president told The New York Times.
David Niekerk, who helped design the company’s warehouse-management system, told the publication that founder Jeff Bezos’ belief that people are inherently lazy helped shape the company’s policies.
Bezos believed that workers’ desire to perform well decreased over time and that an entrenched workforce was a “march to mediocrity,” Niekerk told The Times.
Related: Jeff Bezos Says He’s Flying Into Space With His Brother on July 20
“What he would say is that our nature as humans is to expend as little energy as possible to get what we want or need,” Niekerk told The Times.
He pointed to a short-term employment model that doesn’t provide employees many opportunities for advancement and to the way Amazon used technology to keep workers on task. Amazon doesn’t guarantee wage increases after a worker’s first three years, the report said, as a way to oust employees who might become too comfortable at Amazon or turn “disgruntled.”
The practices that Niekerk described are some of the company’s most contentious — like firing employees for a single day of low productivity and continually keeping workers on task with limited break time and high productivity goals.
The practices have left many workers feeling as if Amazon treats them more like machines than people, The Times reported.
Related: Amazon Tests Robots to Improve Worker Safety
“We are human beings,” an employee wrote on a warehouse’s internal feedback board last year, according to The Times. “We are not tools used to reach their daily / weekly goals and rates. “
Amazon’s culture and high expectations for employees have also made the company a leader in workplace injuries. Earlier this month, The Washington Post published an analysis of data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration suggesting that Amazon warehouse workers were nearly twice as likely to be seriously injured as workers at companies like Walmart.
In April, Bezos said that the company was working “to do a better job for our employees” and that it would invest over $300 million in 2021 to make warehouses safer. He added that the company needed “a better vision for how we create value for employees — a vision for their success. “
Amazon representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.
Today, nearly half of Americans have a side hustle. With more people working remotely, it makes sense that people are turning the time they got back from not having a commute into earning extra money. If you’ll have some extra time this summer, why not earn a few extra bucks yourself? There are a myriad of side hustles you can start from home, provided you know what you’re doing. We’ve rounded up some great online courses that can help, and in honor of Father’s Day, they’re each an additional 20 percent off when you use code WELOVEDAD at checkout.
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Next Sunday, June 20, 2021, is Father’s Day — What activities will you choose to make this Father’s Day memorable? For many families, Covid-19 prevented any celebrations from happening last year. Thanks to the progress made, distance will no longer separate loved ones from sharing their love and appreciation for each other.
Sometimes it can be difficult to develop an idea of what to do for Father’s Day. Never fear; this list will provide plenty of activities for you to consider adding to your online calendar for you and your dad:
1. Attend a Sporting Event
Now that Covid vaccinations are being made available, sports teams are beginning to allow fans back into their arenas. Being one of the first fans to return will be exciting, especially if you want to avoid the crowds you would normally see from a full-capacity audience.
If you don’t live near your dad’s favorite professional team and can’t swing a trip there, look at some local options. You might have just as much fun watching the local high school play or checking out the minor league team that plays close by. College sports are also big hits in their respective cities, with awesome tailgate parties and hometown spirit.
2. Host a Backyard Barbeque
What dad doesn’t like a barbeque? Even if your dad isn’t the cooking type, he won’t be able to turn down a delightful family meal prepared and enjoyed outdoors. Enjoy the day in the backyard or take the party to the park or the lake for some extra family activities.
If you’re a social family, invite another family over for dinner. You can easily share an online calendar event inviting some close family friends over for some festivities. Kids will play games together while the parents bask in the joy that is raising a family. A neighbor or an uncle that’s like a second dad also deserves celebration and recognition.
3. Plan a Family Campout
Few things will bring a family as close together as a camping trip. With cell phone signals lost, even your most tech-dependent teenager will be looking for something to do. This provides an excellent opportunity to make a wonderful family memory on Dad’s special day.
Whether Dad loves fishing, hiking, or just sitting by the campfire, a good campout has something for every father. Take kayaks to the lake, play catch in the wilderness, or listen to your dad’s best ghost stories while counting the stars together. Since Father’s Day is always on a Sunday, you can almost always make this weekend one for the mountains and woods.
4. Take a Trip Down Memory Lane
Even if you’ve heard the same stories over and over again, it’s nice to take a trip down memory lane with Dad every once in a while. Break out some old photo albums or home videos to look back on your family throughout the years.
When looking at old photos and videos, talk about the memories you associate with each one. Find every opportunity you can to talk about how impactful your dad has been in your life. Encourage him to share stories as well, especially the ones you haven’t heard yet. There could be a lot you don’t know about his childhood simply because you’ve never stopped to ask.
5. Organize a Spa Day
Not every Father’s Day activity has to be pumped with testosterone. A spa day for Dad will be a huge surprise and one he might want to repeat after a glorious day of pampering and relaxation.
Take Dad to get a pedicure or a deep tissue massage. He won’t believe how good he’ll feel after the trip. If all relevant businesses are closed, coordinate online calendars to take him as soon as he’s available.
For a personal touch, organize a spa day at home. Getting a foot rub while watching TV at home can be just as relaxing while on a budget.
6. Go to a Favorite Place
Is there a location that your dad loves to frequent? This could be a favorite restaurant, movie theater, or even a rollerblading rink he remembers fondly from his youth. Put together a Father’s Day bonanza at his favorite place together as a family.
Visiting this place on Father’s Day can soon become a family tradition. Years down the road, that burger joint down the road will be more than a place with good food. It will be an establishment full of memories of your family laughing and smiling together with the best dad in the world. There’s no better recurring event to have in your online calendar than that.
7. Host a Competition
Who in the family can really bake the most delicious cookies? Dad will be the judge of that. A friendly competition between Mom and the siblings will end in a delicious taste-testing for Dad as he decides the winner. Make sure you’re whipping up his favorite dish if you really want to come out on top!
If Dad wants to join in the fun, let him! Let him compete for gold in whatever competition you plan, like a backyard Bocci ball tournament or a game of Charades. Just be sure to let him win. It is his day, after all.
Experiences will almost always be more memorable than any gift you can wrap. Start planning your next Father’s Day and use your online calendar to make each one better than the last.
Image Credit: hannah nelson; pexels; thank you!
The post 7 Activities Dad Will Love This Father’s Day appeared first on Calendar.
We discuss 2 specialty retail stocks that stand out at this time.
4 min read
This story originally appeared on MarketBeat
Let’s face it – retail is one of the most competitive industries out there. Consumer preferences are constantly changing and it takes a lot for these types of businesses to earn shoppers’ hard-earned cash. That’s one of the reasons why investing in specialty retail stocks can be a great long-term strategy if you choose wisely. Since specialty retailers focus on specific product categories, like office supplies, furniture, or men’s or women’s clothing, they are oftentimes able to carve out a unique niche and stand out among their competitors.
Thanks to all of the stimulus that has been added to the economy over the last year and the fact that a newly vaccinated population is getting back to shopping in person, we could see some strong sales coming out of the specialty retail space in the coming months. There are 2 specialty retail stocks that stand out as potential buys at this time given their unique brands and impressive earnings reports. Let’s take a further look at these intriguing stocks below.
RH, formerly known as Restoration Hardware, is a great specialty retail stock because it is doing something that is completely unique. While there are plenty of home furnishings stores out there, RH is distinctive in that it specializes in ultra-high-end luxury home goods and creating a unique shopping experience at every single store. Homeowners can find upscale products including furniture, lighting, bathware, outdoor & garden, tableware textiles, and décor at RH, and each one of the company’s showrooms offers an original and aesthetically pleasing experience.
The company counts Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway among its investors and is undoubtedly benefitting from a hot residential real estate market. With that said, RH has upside potential regardless of what’s going on in the economy, as the company doesn’t have exposure to seasonal inventory and caters to wealthy consumers that spend big year-round. The stock has been pulling back in recent months after a rally from $70 to $700 a share, but after the company’s latest earnings report it could be gearing up for more gains.
RH saw its Q1 revenues up 78% year-over-year to $860.8 million and delivered Q1 adjusted diluted earnings per share increase by 285% year-over-year to $4.89 per share. Other positives from the stellar report included an increased fiscal 2021 outlook and the fact that the company expects to be net debt-free by the end of the fiscal year. The bottom line here is that RH is a specialty retail company that is executing at a very high level, which is evident in both the earnings results and stock price.
There’s a lot to love about this specialty retailer, which designs and manufactures modular couches and beanbags. What really stands out about Lovesac is how it has created a brand and product lines that have quickly become the favorite furniture of an entire generation. Millennials are among Lovesac’s most frequent customers, as they love the idea of the company’s flagship product, a unique modular furniture piece known as a “sactional”. These are couches that are easily assembled and disassembled in order to meet the needs of the consumer. There are literally dozens of different ways that sactionals can be rearranged to fit in someone’s home, and the fact that customers can continue adding on pieces and accessories over time is perfect for creating repeat buyers.
While the company has 91 retail showrooms across the United States, investors should be impressed with the progress that it has made over the last year developing its digital sales channels. E-commerce sales were up over 250% in 2020 and although the company might not be able to keep up that torrid pace, Lovesac has proved it is more than capable of finding buyers online. Also, keep in mind that those showrooms are going to see foot traffic pick up as the pandemic winds down.
Lovesac just reported very strong Q1 2022 earnings results including net sales growth of 52.5% and diluted EPS of $0.13, up 122.1% year-over-year. Analysts also love the stock, as Lovesac recently got a price target increase from Craig Hallum on Thursday. Pandemic tailwinds are continuing to help this specialty retailer grow, and that narrative should remain in place for the foreseeable future. These are all great reasons why Lovesac is a great stock to consider adding to your shopping list.
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Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.
The world may be opening back up but not all Americans are eager to return to the office. For small-business owners, re-opening an office space may be a costly, unnecessary endeavor. However, with the kids soon home from school for the summer, working from home presents its own challenges. You can’t go to coffee shops because the vast majority aren’t open for dine-in. So, what do you do?
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Look, I get it: Stock trading and stock picking is a lot more fun, interesting, and exciting than discussing “retirement investing.”
Even the term “retirement” sounds sleepy and dull, like something for your grandparents.
Nobody is saying to quit stock picking. But it is important to keep that part of your investing and trading separately from money earmarked for long-term goals.
For years, traders and active investors have used the phrase “buy and hold” as a pejorative way of describing long-term investing. You hear that term occasionally, though not as often as in the past, as tactical asset allocation has become more popular, along with a greater understanding of rebalancing.
“Buy and hold” is not an investment philosophy at all; it’s a lazy approach that really means “set and forget.” You put your money into some funds and leave them there, untouched, for years.
Set-And-Forget Has Risks
The traders are correct to mock this concept. That’s not because long-term investing is a hopeless joke, but because setting and forgetting can result in steep losses, portfolio duplication, and sky-high risk.
Fortunately for retirement savers, it’s not necessary to be at the extreme of day trading on one side, or set-and-forget on the other. In fact, any individual can easily be both a long-term investor, as well as a trader. The two categories are different.
It’s essentially the same as saying you can have a healthy dinner, followed by some dessert. (To continue the metaphor as it applies to investing and trading: Both should be delicious, and both should be served in portions tailored to your caloric and nutritional needs!)
For example, that healthy and nutritious long-term portfolio may consist of:
Domestic equity funds that include large caps, midcaps, and small caps.
Non-U.S. developed market funds also comprised of all market capitalizations.
A small allocation to emerging-market stocks, which return more than developed-market equities, but also carry more risk.
Liquid alternative investments, such as a commodity or precious metals fund. In some cases, a real estate fund or another specialized fund can serve this purpose.
An equity hedge. Traditionally, this has been in the form of a bond fund, and that may still work in many cases, but it’s no longer the only alternative. Master limited partnerships, real estate investment trusts or business development companies, all tradeable assets, may fill this void.
That’s not a prescription or formula for your portfolio allocation, but it gives you a general idea of the principles behind asset allocation.
That’s where the idea of rebalancing is so important. Rebalancing means keeping your portfolio in alignment with pre-determined allocations, designed to match your goals, time horizon, and risk tolerance.
Rebalancing simply means monitoring your portfolio returns. That doesn’t mean staring at the market for hours every day. In fact, that’s counterproductive if you’re not a day trader.
Rebalancing Seems Counterintuitive
Instead, simply check in every quarter or so, see which funds comprise a greater percentage of your portfolio than you intended, and see which have dwindled to constitute a smaller portion. Then – and this seems counterintuitive – pare back those that have grown too much, and put the money into the weaker performers.
As an easy illustration, imagine that your financial plan shows a recommended allocation of 20% large-cap domestic stocks. As these stocks rally, they now comprise 25% of your portfolio. To remedy that, you sell enough shares of the large-cap U.S. fund to get that allocation back down to 20%.
At the same time, a bond fund designated as 10% of your total holdings fell to 5%. You would take proceeds from the sale of the large-cap fund and put those into the bond fund, getting the bond fund allocation back to 10%.
In a qualified account, such as an IRA or 401(k), there are no tax consequences for rebalancing. In a non-qualified brokerage account, you’ll have to net out gains with tax losses as you rebalance.
Buy-and-hold, without rebalancing, can be a recipe for disaster, adding needless risk and resulting in opportunity cost. Over the years, I’ve seen many cases where taxable accounts, in particular, were ignored. This led to huge capital gains due to the strong performance of the U.S. equity markets. A disciplined investment philosophy is a far better way to increase the likelihood of a better outcome.
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Key lessons learned during the Covid-19 pandemic that transformed effective leadership, including emphasizing the importance of providing your team with new modes of support.
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Being an effective leader means supporting both employees and customers. During the upheaval of 2020, this was especially essential, and certainly challenging, as we navigated the changes from how we work to politics and the very structure of society. Interestingly, McKinsey & Company found that executives reported that their companies responded to a range of changes much more quickly than they thought possible before the COVID-19 pandemic.
In July of 2020, I became general manager of the application performance management and IT operations analytics company, AppDynamics, taking over that leadership position in the heart of this period of uncertainty. Since then, I have learned a great deal. Below are three key lessons that helped me get through nearly a full year at the helm — ones that any leader can leverage.
The most important foundational investment you can ever make is in people. How you bring an organization together, especially during times like the recent pandemic, demonstrates such commitment. To that end, perhaps start by innovating on how to accommodate the challenges your teams face while working from home (an increasingly likely prospect of continuing indefinitely), such as managing a child’s learning while a parent works full-time. Our Employee Experience team, for example, revamped its offerings to include programs that focus on how to stay mentally and physically healthy during COVID, including a virtual Silly Circus to entertain kids at home. Looking to reduce meetings (to help battle “meeting fatigue”) as well as get employees in the flow, we also launched a no-meeting day, which was so well received that we expanded it to twice a month.
How we demonstrate our values needs to show up not just in our personal lives, but at work. So, we hosted guest speakers on issues that were both tethered to our company values and on the minds of employees, such as the fight for racial justice in the U.S. Additionally, our entire executive team jumped to participate in a reverse-mentorship program with African American/Black colleagues to boost both those intuitions and awareness generally. We also sponsored donation-matching blitzes so employees could amplify their impact on causes they care about, and the response has been overwhelming.
Resulting company check-ins, town halls and ongoing conversations played a key role in providing a safe space as well as in educating one another. To be sure leadership was listening as much as talking; we set aside more time for Q&As at our town halls and used the real-time polling platform, Slido, to prioritize questions that mattered most to employees.
Related: The 5 Crucial Phases of Building a Team
Drive Focus, and Be Decisive
The pandemic forced entire industries to embrace the need to adapt, and quickly. Some processes were smooth transitions, while others were more difficult. As you move higher up in an organization, problems become more complex and your decisions become more impactful. It gets scary, and it can be tempting to lean on additional discovery and analysis in response. Many times, however, this results in “analysis paralysis”, which can lead to torpor — exactly what’s not needed. The key is to understand the big picture and focus a team on your top priorities. As you face decisions, weigh the largest trade-offs based on those priorities and agree (or disagree) and commit. Almost always, the inability to pick a path is more damaging and tumultuous for an organization than making the wrong decision and having to go back to iterate. As you build this muscle, you’ll find teams gaining velocity in execution and that will allow you to fail faster and iterate quickly.
Related: Why Failure is Necessary in Order to Succeed as an Entrepreneur
Once people find themselves in a leadership position, it’s easy to forget a growth mindset. I strongly believe that every person I meet has something to teach me; whether I choose to learn from them or not is up to me. Leaders are exposed to so many individuals, and finding the energy to stay curious is tough, but critical. So, ask questions, double-click into their perspectives, and let them teach you. From learning about the nuances of each part of the business to the art of making the best matcha, people around me teach me something new every day. I’ve also learned the value in knowing where to find answers; instead of trying to be the expert, I’ve focused on knowing who the experts are. Connecting them with interesting problems is one of the best ways I see companies move fast and innovate.
We don’t know exactly what the future will look like, and there will inevitably be more challenges ahead, but we can apply what we learned this last year and be more prepared for uncertainty in the future. There are always ways we can grow as individuals and help our teams and companies develop with us.
Related: How Your Business Can Be Ahead of the Curve by Looking Backward and Thinking Forward
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
I’m standing in a savanna in South Africa, surrounded by roughly 25 tranquilized elephants. It is 2018, and just minutes earlier the massive creatures had been darted by a veterinarian from a helicopter overhead.
The nature reserve in which these elephants reside has too many elephants for its habitat to handle. A national park in Mozambique, to which these elephants are soon headed, has too few elephants. Moving the animals from one to the other is part of an innovative conservation technique (translocation) that can help save both ecosystems.
Related: How to Start a Side Hustle: Manage Your Fear
As the sedated elephants are loaded into transport vehicles for the 1,000-mile journey to Mozambique, I wonder — and not for the first time — how did I get here?
I’d like to say it was because I made a brave decision to start my own company. But the decision was less “brave” than it was practical. It was simply too damn hard to find a job.
I had been employed over the previous few decades in newsroom-leadership positions at various media companies, ranging from big (New York Daily News, AOL, Huffington Post) to boutique (Boston Phoenix, Spy magazine), with tons of freelance work in between.
But in 2016, after a seven-year run at AOL/HuffPost, I was let go in a 500-person layoff, following the company’s merger with Yahoo!
I was 51 years old then — hardly ready to retire. But the market for journalists of my age demographic was not exactly pulsing with opportunities.
After regrouping for a couple of weeks, I ginned up the job-search machine. At first, several possibilities did arise; two even progressed to a fifth round of interviews. Alas, I didn’t get either gig, and I was wondering how I could afford to stay in New York with my family.
At that point, I happened to get back in touch with a dear friend, Giovanni Rodriguez, someone with whom I had previously worked in New York in the nonprofit space.
Related: How Resilience Led Me to Success
He had had his own marketing and consulting business for a number of years, and he painted an exciting picture, one in which we joined forces and launched our own media company.
While the idea was certainly enticing, I was terrified. I knew what I was good at, and that didn’t include running my own business.
Spinning a good story
But Giovanni knew how to spin a good story. Several years earlier, he had moved to the Bay Area with his family and had established deep connections in Silicon Valley, from tech startups to Stanford and Singular universities.
So in 2017, with two other partners, we launched Silicon Valley Story Lab (SVSL), a media company for a new age. To that point, organizations relied on earned media — coverage from established media companies — to report on their work or achievements. But increasingly, brands, nonprofits, and individuals started serving that content directly to an audience themselves. The problem for many of them was that they lacked the skill or capacity to effectively tell or promote those stories.
With SVSL, we used our journalistic experience to help clients and partners better tell their own stories.
Internally, we created a big tent, under which we could each pursue our own projects. I identified a space in the market for social-good-oriented storytelling, using the principles of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The SDGs were adopted by the UN in 2015 and are, essentially, a blueprint for saving the planet by 2030. There are 17 Goals, the first 16 of which are assigned to readily identifiable social-good causes: hunger, poverty, education, gender equality, climate, etc. The last one, though — SDG 17 — is called “Partnerships,” and in my estimation, it is recognition by the UN that the public sector will never be able to raise the trillions of dollars necessary every year to achieve the first 16 Goals without partnering with the private sector.
So if a brand is doing virtually anything under the social good umbrella — from working hand in hand with nonprofits to CSR efforts — this strategy of tying their work to an international framework like the SDGs could help get 1) more visibility and 2) more impact for their efforts.
(We decided early on that this strategy would definitively not apply to greenwashing efforts, such as, say, British Petroleum efforts to clean up the Gulf of Mexico, which needed clean up only thanks to BP’s irresponsibility.)
The elephant project, for example, was a partnership between a private-sector entity, two national governments, and an NGO that established transnational corridors for wildlife. We suggested calling the effort Moving Giants, and our work “captured the capture,” as it were, in a documentary video series that can be found on the website we created. That website also featured daily blogs and weekly reported articles on elephants and conservation efforts around the world. In other words, we launched an elephant-focused journalism destination.
Now the story evolves further. This week (June 2021), I am launching Brooklyn Story Lab. While Giovanni will keep doing great things with SVSL and his new passion — a virtual theater company for the Zoom age (Remote Theater) — Brooklyn Story Lab will be laser-focused on social-good initiatives, from a new elephant effort to thought-leadership consulting with myriad Nobel Peace Prize winners to working with young, entrepreneurial changemakers from more than 150 countries.
The tectonic changes to the media landscape have been understandably scary for journalism veterans (like myself) to navigate. But good storytelling will always be an in-demand commodity — and it isn’t quite as difficult as moving 200 elephants 1,000 miles across national borders.
Lance Gould is the founder and CEO of Brooklyn Story Lab. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Covid-19 slowed M&A activity, but there were still many large deals and IPOs last year.
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
At the start of 2020, some experts predicted that M&A activity would be weaker than in 2019. Then, Covid-19 slowed M&A expectations even more. However, we saw plenty of massive deals and IPOs last year, and I expect that to continue as businesses and the economy alike enter the post-Covid recovery phase.
The cybersecurity market saw more than $6.3 billion invested throughout 2020 in the U.S alone with laser focus on growth and the consolidation of functionality. This May will mark one year since my company acquired Octarine to expand our expertise in container security and Kubernetes environments, and to say we’ve learned a lot is an understatement. I’ve previously highlighted challenges, learnings, and humbling moments that came with completing an M&A amid the pandemic, and now I’m taking a look back at the past year and offering some advice for other entrepreneurs in similar situations.
Trust your new team to make important decisions
While it was remarkable to complete an M&A remotely between my company in the U.S. and Octarine in Tel Aviv, it was even more of an accomplishment to onboard, align and work remotely so closely over the past year. Add in the pressure of an unfortunate industry standard that most M&As perform under expectations, and we had a tall order in front of us.
Building trust among the new and existing team members was absolutely critical to our success from the minute the deal was signed. As a business leader and someone who has been on the other side of an acquisition many times, I knew early on that I didn’t want to suffocate the new team. As Steve Jobs once said, “Don’t hire smart people and then tell them what to do.” This couldn’t have been more true when it came to combining our teams. I made sure that our new teammates had a voice and felt comfortable sharing their points of view.
Related: 7 Virtual Team-Building Ideas to Keep Your Staff Connected
Ensure alignment toward the joint vision and goal
The two Octarine co-founders that joined our team fundamentally understood that they were transitioning their company to be a part of something bigger. They were on board with a vision that was different than their initial one when founding Octarine. They knew that this acquisition allowed for accelerating the adoption of Octarine technology — putting Octarine tech in more customers’ hands, faster.
As a joint team, we agreed early on to fully transition the Octarine product into our existing security platform. This was painful at first. After all, the Octarine team had to go back and re-tool work they’d already poured their energy into. But by making that decision — and getting genuine and heartfelt alignment — we were able to complete the transition and get to market in six months, which is a remarkably short period and much faster than typical.
I’m the first to admit that, as a senior technical person, I’m opinionated and hate to lose. However, we agreed from the onset that we shared the same common goal of delivering great products to our customers and would agree on our path to achieving it. In the case of this M&A, we had a larger security strategy to strive toward, and Octarine filled one piece of that. In order to deliver on our aggressive product roadmap promises six months after the deal closed, we made sure that we kept the larger strategy at the forefront of our efforts the whole time.
Related: Six Ways to Manage Global Teams Remotely and Create a Culture of Trust, Productivity
Don’t be afraid to be decisive
In video meetings full of experienced and opinionated technical leaders, it’s no surprise that we unearthed conflicts. There were hard calls to make along the path to delivery. When there was an issue, we escalated it quickly and then we were decisive and made a call. Both teams had to agree because, in the end, we were one team.
I had a similar experience when my company, Carbon Black, was acquired for the first of two times in 2014. We were a small, very technical startup. We were acquired by a bigger player, which of course was exciting — we finally had paying customers! It’s because of this experience earlier in my career that I empathize with wanting to see something through. It’s critical as a leader of both the acquired and the acquiring company that you let strong teammates continue to have a voice, a clear path for growth, and to be challenged. But, at the end of the day as a leader, it’s your job to be decisive and make hard decisions.
As human beings, we don’t crave conflict. It’s not easy. To prepare for some of these expected growing pains after an acquisition, it’s critical that a leader is defined, and that the roles and responsibilities of the team are crystal clear. The only way to solve conflict is with a leader who isn’t afraid to make the final call and keep the team aligned. Another critical element here is to take any emotion or ego out of the situation. You can’t let someone needing recognition be the cause for a slow path to success. Lead by example and leave the ego at the door (or off of video meetings). In the end, winning solves everything, and in this case, it’s winning as one united team that matters most.
Related: Don’t Even Think ‘Merger’ Without Taking These 5 Steps First
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There’s no question that Benjamin Franklin was a highly productive guy, with a CV that included writer, politician, entrepreneur, scientist, inventor, diplomat, printer and postmaster. In his autobiography, the polymath shared the details of his morning routine, which included waking up around 5 a.m. and asking himself, “What good shall I do this day?” He then set aside a couple of hours to “wash and address Powerful Goodness! Contrive days’ business, and take the resolution of the day; prosecute the present study; and breakfast.”
Later in life, he amended his schedule to include a refreshing “air bath,” which he found preferable to the cold water bath considered healthful at the time.
“With this view I rise early almost every morning, and sit in my chamber without any clothes whatever, half an hour or an hour, according to the season, either reading or writing,” he wrote. “This practice is not in the least painful, but on the contrary, agreeable; and if I return to bed afterwards, before I dress myself, as sometimes happens, I make a supplement to my night’s rest, of one or two hours of the most pleasing sleep that can be imagined.”
The air bath might not have been Franklin’s most notable contribution to society, and adopting it as a practice likely won’t lead you to invent the next lightning rod. But it does illustrate the importance of finding your own rhythm in the first hours of your day. Productivity gurus have all sorts of advice on how to organize your morning routine, which include but are not limited to exercising, meditating, journaling, reading a book and setting intentions — all before your day even officially begins.
Such an action-packed morning might be right for some people, but it isn’t for everyone. Here’s how to create a morning routine that works for you — regardless of whether you prefer your baths in water or air.
Related: 5 Morning Habits That Will Start Your Day With Purpose
Waking up doesn’t have to hurt
As much as experts will tell you that the key to success is springing out of bed at 4:30 a.m., the truth is that early mornings aren’t for everyone.
If you do want to train yourself to begin your day earlier, start slow. Laura Vanderkam, a time-management expert and author of What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, says that suddenly trying to wake up at 5 a.m. instead of your regular 7:30 is a recipe for hitting the “snooze” button.
Instead, work in increments, setting the alarm 10 minutes earlier each day, and going to bed 10 minutes earlier each night. Calibrating your bedtime is crucial — if you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re not going to want to wake up.
There’s also the matter of the alarm itself. Unless you absolutely can’t wake up any other way, use a soothing alarm that eases you gently out of sleep, rather than terrifies you into consciousness with a cacophony of beeps. There are innumerable options out there, from sunrise alarm clocks to those that optimize your wake-up time based on your sleep rhythms. As Vanderkam says, “[Getting up earlier] isn’t about punishing yourself.”
Related: What The Work Routines of Pharrell, Jack Dorsey, Shonda Rhimes, And 37 Other Business Leaders Say About Peak Performance
Clear your mind
The word “meditate” conjures images of sitting cross-legged on a pillow, hands resting on knees and eyes lightly closed. It’s a popular practice for a reason — it helps you keep emotions from controlling you by developing a non-reactive mind.
I practice 20 minutes of Transcendental Meditation each morning, but I also do morning pages, which allow me to spill my unfiltered thoughts over the course of three blank pages before I get to work each day. I consider these pages a sort of mental cleanse, whether it’s working through a problem or spouting off about something totally banal. Whatever I come up with is fine — research has shown that releasing your subconscious mind makes you more likely to make creative connections before your mental processes hit their peak.
Not ready to jump headfirst into an hour-long mindfulness practice? It’s okay to start small. Deep Patel has a great 10-minute routine for clearing out the cobwebs in your mind, recommending first drinking some water, followed by spending one or two minutes deep-breathing. Next, stretch your back, neck and shoulders, and spend a few minutes feeling grateful for what you have. Finally, take a minute or so to visualize yourself achieving your major goals for the day. It sounds like a lot, but in the end, it’s only one “snooze” button’s worth of time, and you’ll be amazed by how well it sets you up for success.
Related: 5 Ways You Overcomplicate Your Morning Routine
Work with your natural rhythms
Maybe you’ve found that no matter how early you get to sleep or how gently your alarm, you simply can’t prod yourself to wakefulness until 9 a.m. It’s not a failure on your part. Research shows that everyone has different peak hours; defined as the period of time each day when you’re at your sharpest mentally.
Finding your own peak time can take some trial and error. Learning about mine has helped me tackle the most important strategic work during my best hours, which has been instrumental in helping me run my business. If you’re still finding yours, I recommend following this three-week experiment from author Chris Bailey, which asks you to rate your energy, focus and motivation at the end of every hour. It can seem daunting, but the patterns that emerge will help you capitalize on your prime times.
If you feel guilty about working non-standard hours, think about this: Evan Williams, the hyper-successful co-founder of Twitter, Medium and Blogger, traded going to the gym first thing in the morning for the middle of the day. “My focus is usually great first thing in the morning, so going to the gym first is a trade-off of very productive time,” he says. He acknowledges that “it feels weird (at first) to leave the office in the middle of the day,” but finds that “total time spent is nearly the same with higher energy and focus across the board.”
Everyone is different — Franklin has his air baths; Williams, his midday gym time. What works for one person might not work for you, and that’s okay. What matters is beginning every day by giving yourself the best chance for success.