It’s time to open up. No matter what you’re dealing with, you’re not alone.
There is nothing shameful about having anxiety. Think about this acronym for FEAR — you either Fear Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise. The more you confront the things in your past you don’t want to do with, the more you’ll be able to move forward. So, are you going to run from your fear, or face it?
On today’s episode of The School of Greatness, I talk about anxiety and PTSD with a man who has become an unofficial mental health advocate: Charlamagne Tha God.
New York Times bestselling author Charlamagne Tha God is best known for being co-host of the nationally syndicated hip-hop iHeartRadio program “The Breakfast Club.” He is also a social media influencer; an executive producer with his own production company, CThaGod World; and co-host of the popular podcast Brilliant Idiots.
Charlamagne says that refining his life’s mission and examining his past helped him take control of his anxiety.
Don’t allow anxiety or depression to cause you to keep suffering. Learn about Charlamagne Tha God’s mental health struggles and what he did to restart his life on Episode 721.
Without a roadmap, your chances of failure increase.
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs who want to build a tech startup make is that they don’t create a roadmap or prototype. Without a prototype, you can end up going down an unclear and expensive path when you’re developing your mobile app or product. That’s why prototyping is a crucial part of creating an app.
Here’s how it can benefit you and how to get it done:
1. Gain clarity.
Without a defined concept, you can easily set your app up for failure, and it’s hard to define your concept sans a roadmap and a visual aid, such as a prototype. Your roadmap helps you to define and sharpen the idea of your concept by mapping out the customer’s journey.
Base this information on market research by analyzing your competition and determining what features attract your target audience to your competitor’s apps. Your app should address your users’ needs and provide more value than what your competition offers so that you have a unique value proposition.
With this information, you can produce a high-fidelity prototype of your mobile app that is interactive so that stakeholders can have a clear vision of what the interfaces, interactions and other elements of your app would be like once the final app is made.
2. Quickly validate your idea in the market.
If you want to entice stakeholders to invest in your app, you need to validate your concept in the market. A prototype helps you achieve this goal since it can help you test market demand. You can opt to create a prototype using a prototyping tool or have an outsourced team build one for you to your specifications.
Choose app metrics, such as app usage and engagement, to determine market demand so you can save time and money from further developing an app that may not work.
3. Save on cost.
App development isn’t cheap. It could be $5,000 to $50,000 or run into the hundreds of thousands, even millions, depending on the customization and maintenance required. Building an app without developing a prototype first drives up your costs over time. Maintenance costs can take up 15-20 percent of the cost of app development.
A prototype helps you reduce the expenses of app maintenance due to inefficiencies since you’ll be able to identify bugs and vulnerabilities before the final development of the app. You’ll also save on rebuilding costs if your developers later find that the app is not meeting compliance requirements.
4. Develop consistent UX.
If you want to get users hooked on your app, you have to provide an experience that helps facilitate what your app is offering your users. Mobile marketing analytics research company Localytics noted in a study that only 21 percent of people who download apps only use the app once. So, it’s important to focus on taking steps to retain users and understand their behaviors.
With a prototype, you have the power to observe user interaction with your app. You can study user behaviors early on in the development process and make adjustments to your app to improve their experiences. For example, you can change the font of a button’s text if you notice that users click the button more often. This helps to improve their experience and encourage engagement with your app.
5. Drive stakeholder acceptance with a proven concept.
When you’re trying to convince important stakeholders, such as venture capitalists, angel investors or even crowdfunding audiences, to invest in your mobile app, it’s challenging to get them to buy-in to your concept without a visual, working prototype.
But with an app prototype, these crucial stakeholders get a clickable, interactive app they can use and test. It helps to justify funding since it reduces the risk of uncertainty and helps your audience visualize the potential profit your app can bring.
6. Fine-tune your prototype to improve your concept.
A prototype also gives you the opportunity to explore new ideas and further improve on your concept because it allows you to see problems with the app early in the development process. Creating a prototype gives you the chance to improve on your concept so that your development team can find potential weak spots and errors.
According to a study by MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute, 13 percent of users delete mobile apps due to bugs. It’s important to test your app with your target audience to identify errors before you finalize the product. During this stage, it’s important to document user interactions, errors incurred and each instance and version that you updated. This helps you to create a valuable and addictive app for your target audience. For example, you can create and reference a backlog of the different versions of your app and compare the different errors your users experienced as they navigated through the system.
You can also implement features that provide feedback from your audience on the app, such as a survey or poll. Use the direct feedback to further develop the app based on their needs. You can use this information to create a more enhanced experience for your users and improve your chances of having a more successful app at the launch of the final product.
On this episode of The Playbook podcast, Marty Strenczewilk, co-founder and CEO of Splyce, discusses the rapid growth of eSports, and the best ways to make a career in the industry.
1 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You might not fully understand eSports, but the fast-growing industry is providing a wealth of opportunities for entrepreneurs. Marty Strenczewilk, co-founder and CEO of the eSports giant Splyce, talks about the widespread appeal of eSports competitions, as well as how to find a role in the field.
Listen in as host Dave Meltzer and Strenczewilk talk about the expansion of Splyce and the similarities between traditional sports and eSports. Marty also discusses what qualities are necessary to set yourself apart as an eSports athlete and how parents can support their kids in the pursuit of video game glory.
Online platforms for freelance worker provide an unparalleled opportunity to work with millions of people who aren’t necessarily like you.
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
It’s easy to be swept up in the negative rhetoric around the gig economy. Too often “on demand” workers are framed by the media purely as a cost-cutting tactic for businesses. Somehow the professional experience and expertise of the humans behind the screen get left out of the conversation.
Think of it this way: Online platforms are a unique space where the world’s best talent can connect both with each other to exchange ideas and share feedback, and with people and organizations actively seeking their specific skills. They create a truly level playing field irrespective of location, gender, age or background.
When you remove the barriers of geography and social background — which is what Silicon Valley’s call for “democratization” ultimately is — the creative possibilities are endless.
Our industry talks tirelessly about improving diversity. We need to celebrate the evolution of platform work as a step in a fairer direction, and see it for what it is: an unparalleled opportunity to work with millions of people who aren’t necessarily like you.
Diversity in ideas adds value.
Not looking more deeply into the benefits of our emerging global workforce does a disservice to the people around the world using online platforms to build their careers. Truly flexible work has never been this accessible, and is a valuable pipeline for people like stay-at-home parents, retirees or creatives who find they do their best work on the road. Valuing flexibility over more traditional benefits shouldn’t be dismissed as a somehow less valid choice; as a society we should encourage people to work in a way that works for them.
In addition, there’s plenty of evidence that a globally distributed talent network can radically improve a company’s output and available skill set. Research from McKinsey shows that ethnically diverse businesses are 35 percent more productive and 9 percent more profitable. However, as any business owner knows, achieving diversity isn’t always as easy as we’d like. The platform economy offers a solution in a ready-made global network of skills and international perspectives.
Access the best people and projects.
Freelancers have been the lifeblood of the creative industries almost since their inception, so the concept of tapping into on-demand talent is nothing new in fields like design, music, film or writing. What online platforms have succeeded in doing is opening up this model to the rest of the world, making it easier for freelancers to find interesting work, and making talented creatives more accessible to clients.
While the platform economy has created a new global wave of creative diversity, there’s still some way to go in getting more people comfortable with the idea that the best person for the job isn’t necessarily in the same time zone or country as them.
The key point that’s missing from so much of the narrative around the gig economy is that companies put significant effort into attracting, nurturing and retaining skilled people. After all, the best talent will always have options — and working within the platform economy is just one of them.
Creative talent is a commodity in demand, and that talent truly is everywhere. No skilled worker should be disadvantaged because of where they were born or where they live. Platforms have broken down borders in the creative industries, and ultimately made them a much fairer place to work.
As a global society, we should celebrate this: Businesses have never had access to such depth and reach of creative talent before. To miss out on the benefits of this diversity simply because we are stuck in well-worn narratives and assumptions is such a waste of potential for a society in desperate need of creative diversification.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
When you’re struggling to find a positive thought, Entrepreneur Network partner Ben Angel challenges you to look deeper than just your attitude.
You can listen to all the motivational speeches you like, but if your body is in a state of nutritional deficiency, you don’t have the energy you need for your neurons to do the required psychological work to hold a positive outlook.
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We both enjoyed the movie, but the better moments happened afterwards. When Tyler asked me what I thought about the film, I told him that it was inspirational. In a way only a teenager can, he replied, “Are you going to start a rock band and die of AIDS?”
There is so much to learn from Queen and Freddie Mercury. Here are eight lessons for entrepreneurs.
“Under Pressure”:Preparation generates luck.
Imagine handing a couple songs you’d written to a band, then hearing them say their lead singer just quit. What big break are you hoping for? What company do you need to pitch?
If that magic moment happened now, would you be prepared? Do you know what you would say, do, or ask for?
“Killer Queen”: Different is better than better.
A self-proclaimed “hysterical queen” led a rock group to become the most popular band in the world. Every super-successful person I interviewed for my bestselling book has a similar story. These are not the top 1 percent. These are people whose millions of dollars of annual income put them in the top 0.01 percent of our population.
When Gordon Logan wanted to start a hair cutting business for men and boys, everyone said, “That already exists. It’s called a barbershop. It will never work.” With more than 1,700 Sport Clips locations and a Joe Gibbs Racing car with his logo on it, it’s safe to say his critics were wrong.
When a local band gets a chance to tour Japan, they say they want to tour America. Your investors, partners, friends and employees will all compare you to someone in your industry. If you only think about being better than your immediate competition, you are missing the opportunity. Consider ideas from other industries and incorporate them into your business so you can dominate your space.
“Somebody to Love”:See your negatives as a positive.
Having extra teeth makes for a strange appearance. It also allows you to open your mouth wider and to have greater range as a singer. What challenges have you turned into excuses?
I used to own a boutique insurance agency. When I had a chance to pitch one of the nation’s more successful law firms, I was up against some heavyweights. So, I offered to help the firm create its own agency and eliminate me from the equation after a few years. I ultimately landed the account because I was willing to show them how they wouldn’t need insurance people in the future. I made millions of dollars from the relationship before I was replaced.
Too small to compete? You are nimble and can react faster to changing customer needs. Don’t have brick-and-mortar locations for new customers? You can go set up shop inside your customers’ offices and provide better service. Write down three things that you think are holding you back, then write down how those things could be positives.
If Queen had listened to their record label, they never would have released “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a single. It was too long. It was weird. It was heavily criticized. It was also a global No. 1 hit — twice!
A mentor of mine in my early year taught me a valuable lesson. When doing roll-ups, he would hire senior management exclusively from other industries. When I asked him why, he replied, “If I do things like other people in the industry, I won’t be creating any real change or any real value.” Where do you find your creative ideas?
“We Will Rock You”: Give the people what they want.
The key to Queen’s success was their ability to connect with the audience. They understood this even better than their producers and record labels did. Most people focus on what other companies have done, in the past, to sell to their clients. Sometimes, they overreact and completely misjudge their customers’ desires. Remember “New Coke”?
Instead, prepare to sell your clients what they will need in the future.
To paraphrase the late Steve Jobs, people don’t know what they want until they see it. It’s your job to create and sell it. Jeff Bezos took this idea and ran with it. Amazon wasn’t just the first place to sell books online. Amazon sold clothes before online retailers were on board. Amazon even put the toy giant Toys ‘R Us out of business. Kids loved going to toy stores, but parents hated the experience.
Do you know what your clients love and hate about your industry?
Calling your friends into a room and admitting you were an asshole takes guts. Taking full responsibility for a bad situation, offering to make amends and being willing to consider what others suggest is the sign of a great leader.
You are supposed to have the answers and see the better path, but you are not perfect. Think about what you needed to handle better in the past. Go take the blame, apologize and ask for forgiveness. Do it this week.
“We Are the Champions”:Do good. Be good. Make good.
Freddie Mercury’s father, Bomi Bulsara, had a quote that came up over and over again: “Good words. Good thoughts. Good deeds.” If you say what you think, and do what you say, you will be authentic. If the true goal of what you do is to help other people, there is no limit to the amount of success you can achieve.
Over the last 10 years, the insurance industry has been pretty stagnant. During that same time, National Life Group has doubled in size while focusing on serving teachers and middle America. It sponsors a “Life Changer” program that awards dozens of scholarships and receives over 900 nominations. It practices what it preaches and put its money where its mouths are.
Commit to helping others. Speak you mind. Do what you say you will do. When you do, you will rock everyone around you and become a true champion.
How this traditionally soft skill yields hard, bottom-line results for organizations big and small
8 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
It’s easy to be cynical these days. The 24/7 news cycle brings us images and extreme headlines about tragedies almost as soon as they occur. If you listen to the rhetoric, it’s easy to believe violence, sexism, ageism, xenophobia and prejudice are winning the day.
However, there is another — more positive — way to look at this. Access to information from around the globe gives us opportunities to consider the needs of others and to respond with compassionate action. Yes, playing to our emotions is the cable news and social media business model. But what we choose to do with our emotions is up to us. So, why not choose empathy?
We all know empathy is the right thing to do, but empathy is not just good for the world (and our own sanity). It can also bring a competitive advantage in business. Our ability to see the world from the perspective of others is one of the most crucial tools in our business toolbox. So, let’s walk through the business benefits of empathy and acting with compassion.
Every skilled salesperson knows that the key to closing sales is anticipating your customers’ needs and demonstrating how your product or service will suit their needs best. Truly understanding your customers’ needs means reflecting on their fears, desires, pain points and whatever keeps them up at night. If your sales team doesn’t intimately understand your customers’ lives, how can you expect them to explain how your products or services fit their lives? This is the power of empathy in business.
Going beyond increased sales though, what’s even more valuable are loyal customers and strong referrals. To see repeat customers and customers transformed into super fans, make sure this empathy mindset enlivens the culture of your entire organization from customer service to the accounting department.
One industry where empathy clearly counts is in the ultra-competitive airline industry. Any company that can make flying more convenient and pleasant scores points with perpetually frustrated passengers. By now, we’re all familiar with this string of PR blunders from United Airlines demonstrating the failure of empathy on a corporate level. But you may be less familiar with Ryanair’s empathy success. After implementing their “Always Getting Better” program, which many customer annoyances like hidden charges,un-allocated seating and carry-on baggage restrictions, Ryanair saw a net profit increase from €867 million to €1.24 billion (US$1.39 billion). CEO Michael O’Leary famously remarked, “If I’d only known being nice to customers was going to work so well, I’d have started many years ago.”
When customers perceive your company as empathetic, you will see sales increase, but wait…there’s more. Employees with strong empathy skills are also more productive and innovative. This means if you want to increase efficiency and expand the number of problems you can solve for customers, you want to hire employees with strong “soft skills.”
Google knows this well. Since the company began in 1998, Google focused on hiring the best computer scientists, software engineers, analysts and highly skilled STEM professionals. But when it comes to putting together successful teams, it turns out that soft skills rule. Project Aristotle, a study released by Google in 2017, showed that the company’s most important new ideas came from B-teams comprised of employees exhibiting a wide range of skills including: equality, generosity, curiosity toward others’ ideas, empathy and emotional intelligence. These teams may not have had the top scientists, but when team members feel confident speaking up and know they are being heard, great ideas are born.
3. Greater competitive advantage and market value.
The highest performing companies also top the list of the Most Empathetic Companies. This might seem surprising at first: Don’t you have to be cutthroat and willing to win at any cost to be competitive in this global, capitalist economy? Well, if you’ve been paying attention, the answer will be obvious. In fact, statistics show that empathy is more important to business success than it has ever been.
According to the 2016 Empathy Index, a report published by UK consulting firm The Empathy Business that seeks to analyze the internal culture of 170 companies on major financial indexes, “The top 10 companies (on the 2015 list)…increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom 10 and generated 50 percent more earnings (defined by market capitalization).”
So if the best managers and team members express empathy and a willingness to act compassionately toward others, it stands to reason that companies with cultures that encourage empathy would attract highly engaged individuals. And that’s just what the data show. Empathetic companies also have better retention and higher morale among employees.
This makes a lot of sense when you consider what today’s workers value. Good, high-performing individuals have lots of employment choices. Among other things, the gig economy and access to technology have created opportunities beyond traditional corporate work. So, it’s time to think beyond traditional corporate benefits.
What skilled workers are demanding is a different kind of working experience: they want their voices — and their workplace requirements — to be heard. That’s bad news for companies that aren’t considering company culture as they look toward future growth. Fortunately, making small, subtle shifts toward improving empathy in the culture can make a big difference.
All of these business benefits sound great, but none of them are likely to make any company empathetic. To really make a change, the first step is to WANT to understand where others are coming from. When you focus on wanting to understand your colleagues, you can cultivate empathy in your own sphere of influence, which can have a big impact on your team, brand and the world.
Here are some key areas to consider as you plan ahead for 2019:
“Employee of the month” awards do not constitute an empathetic environment. When we feel that others value our contributions, we feel respected. While trying to create an empathetic environment from the top down is unlikely to work, letting workers know, through word and deed, their work is valuable should be a daily focus.
Respect makes workers more engaged. There is an intangible value to feeling respected by one’s colleagues and superiors. We’re more likely to take personal responsibility and our desire not to lose the respect of others means we’ll be more engaged. Listen closely to how employees talk about their work. Ask them what would make their jobs easier and make them feel heard.
Motivate based on individual needs. In Daniel Pink’s bestselling book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, he points out that financial rewards are not universally enticing. Consider how your company rewards colleagues. How much better would things be if we asked our team members what they would like? Use empathy to see things from their point of view and act accordingly.
Consider ways to flip the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as they want done unto them.” This rule goes for every stakeholder involved in your organization from investors to board members to customer service representatives to clients. This is the mantra of the empathy mindset. Get out of your own head. Engage in more active listening and curious conversation to unlock what matters most to them.
As you reflect on the business benefits of creating a more empathetic company, you may have noticed the irony of compelling you to set aside your interests by showing that it’s actually in your interest to do so. Of course, in an ideal world, the drive to do the right thing would be motivation enough. But because motivation is unique to each individual — and organization — presenting a menu of reasons to embrace empathy is a good idea. In my own career, I have personally witnessed leaders and marketers who have embraced empathy purely for PR motives, but found themselves personally transformed — and left with a desire to do more good for the right reasons. Sometimes, initially speaking to selfish motives can help people and organizations transform “from the outside in,” and end up making the world a more empathetic place.