Posts Tagged "Business Motivation"

No one else knows what’s best for you, so pave your own path.

7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In this series called Member Showcase, we publish interviews with members of The Oracles. This interview is with Markus Hetzenegger, founder and CEO of NYBA Media GmbH, a digital marketing agency. It was condensed by The Oracles.

Who are you?
Markus Hetzenegger: I’ve never been someone who does what other people tell me. I’ve always made my own path because I know what’s best for me more than anyone else. When I was 18, I knew it was time to make a change, so I quit a “safe,” esteemed dual program at BMW to fulfill my dreams.

This risk didn’t work out right away. I didn’t know anything about self-employment, and I didn’t have entrepreneurial parents to give me advice. I became who I am today only through willpower, trial and error, continuous learning, and optimization. Now I’m a 23-year-old CEO whose company, NYBA Media, generates nine-figure returns for our customers.

What are you more skilled at than most people in the world?
Markus Hetzenegger: I understand marketing and how to convince people to buy a product and become lifelong fans. I’ve always been fascinated why some companies can sell T-shirts for $300 while others can’t sell theirs for $20.

Over time, I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t by continually optimizing, improving our processes, and passing on that knowledge to our customers. Speed and results are what matter most.

What excites you the most about your business right now?
Markus Hetzenegger: I love creating things and being part of our customers’ success. I’m always excited to see the results of our work, especially now that we can choose our clients. When it comes to selecting projects, we prefer quality over quantity. We prioritize scalable projects with a great deal of potential and the opportunity to think outside the box.

We always start by understanding our partners and their goals so we can take responsibility for their overall success. I like the challenge of marketing, optimizing, and scaling for companies from a wide range of industries. It’s never boring, and there are always new things to learn, even if you think you’ve reached the top. In the end, we get to create more than great business partnerships — we’re also building friendships.

What book changed your mindset or life?
Markus Hetzenegger: I read a great deal, but “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz has inspired me like no other book. It opened my eyes to the importance of your mind. You are the product of your imagination — using your imagination and beliefs, you can change that “product” step by step. You can change your entire life by changing your self-image because you will start thinking and acting like the person you want to become. 

What advice would you give to your younger self?
Markus Hetzenegger: Stick to one thing and become the best at it. I used to impatiently jump from one project to another, usually right when it was time to reap the rewards of my work. I always wanted more and was never satisfied, even when everything was going well. I was always looking for a “better” way to succeed faster. Even when my podcast became one of the top three German business podcasts a few years ago, I still wasn’t satisfied.

When you work on something long enough, it can only succeed. There is no other option. So, focus on one thing you genuinely stand behind. Endurance and consistency are essential. 

How do you define great leadership?
Markus Hetzenegger: Great leadership is a management style that doesn’t feel like leadership. “Loving strictness” describes it best. Employees are given maximum responsibility, and the relationship is based on honesty and loyalty.

I expect absolute transparency from my team, in exchange for a great culture and above-average pay. I let everyone come up with new ideas and think outside the box, not just execute on a plan. Individual responsibilities vary according to their strengths and interests, instead of education.  

I’m creating an atmosphere where everyone can grow and learn. Our hierarchy values good ideas more than your position or tenure in the company. The product doesn’t make a company — the people and culture do.

How do you hire top talent?
Markus Hetzenegger: Mindset is more important than skill set. It’s easier to learn a new skill than to change your mindset.

Talented employees are no longer just attracted by money — they want to be part of something bigger. The best want to work with the best. So, it’s important that your company is already at a high level or at least has a bold vision. Your culture, mission, and vision are vital, so take your time investing in them. Don’t just hang them on the wall. Model your workflow after them.

Which single habit gives you 80 percent of your results?
Markus Hetzenegger: I continuously reflect and optimize everything I do while focusing on my goals. I ask myself often whether what I’m doing today will bring me further tomorrow. If not, I make a change.

I try to improve a little every day. In the end, any goal is attainable if you do that. By simply learning more about something, the better your decisions will be, which will impact your outcomes.

I’m an optimistic person and believe everything that happens to you, happens for you. Trust that life is on your side, even if you can’t see the positive side of a situation.

If you ever start a charity, what would it be called and what would it do?
Markus Hetzenegger: I grew up next to the ocean in a small village in the south of Spain. I spent nearly every minute by the sea, which has always been close to my heart. When I swam with a wild shark in the Bahamas a few years ago, my heart expanded to a completely different level.

Sharks have survived four of the five mass extinctions, which means they are older than humanity. But the sad fact is that they are now in danger because of us. Humans kill 100 million sharks every year to sell their fins. Sharks are the lungs of our oceans and the most important animals to our marine ecosystems. Without them, we would face a natural disaster. Something has to change. How that happens is secondary; the “why” is what matters.

What do you want to be known for, or what do you want your legacy to be?
Markus Hetzenegger: Meaningful work and relationships are most important to me. I want to build something big that will positively impact millions of lives. Success is only a side effect when you do what you stand for. To me, life is like a game where you can lose or win — and I like to win.

Connect with Markus Hetzenegger on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook, or visit his website.

The words and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee alone. What worked for them may not work for everyone. Any claims in this article have not been independently verified.

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She will stand trial over ‘massive fraud’ in July 2020.

12 min read

This story originally appeared on Business Insider

In 2014, blood-testing startup Theranos and its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, were on top of the world.

Back then, Theranos was a revolutionary idea thought up by a woman hailed as a genius who styled herself as a female Steve Jobs. Holmes was the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire, and Theranos was one of Silicon Valley’s unicorn startups, valued at an estimated $9 billion. 

But then it all came crashing down.

The shortcomings and inaccuracies of Theranos’s technology were exposed, along with the role Holmes played in covering it all up. Holmes was ousted as CEO and charged with “massive fraud,” and the company was forced to close its labs and testing centers, ultimately shuttering operations altogether. 

Now, Holmes faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. In the meantime, as she awaits trial, she’s reportedly found the time to get engaged — and married — to a hotel heir named Billy Evans.

This is how Holmes went from precocious child, to ambitious Stanford dropout, to an embattled startup founder charged with fraud: 

Elizabeth Holmes was born on February 3, 1984 in Washington, D.C. Her mom, Noel, was a Congressional committee staffer, and her dad, Christian Holmes, worked for Enron before moving to government agencies like USAID.

Holmes’ family moved when she was young, from Washington, D.C. to Houston.

When she was 7, Holmes tried to invent her own time machine, filling up an entire notebook with detailed engineering drawings. At the age of 9, Holmes told relatives she wanted to be a billionaire when she grew up. Her relatives described her as saying it with the “utmost seriousness and determination.”

Holmes had an “intense competitive streak” from a young age. She often played Monopoly with her younger brother and cousin, and she would insist on playing until the end, collecting the houses and hotels until she won. If Holmes was losing, she would often storm off. More than once, she ran directly through a screen on the door.

It was during high school that Holmes developed her work ethic, often staying up late to study. She quickly became a straight-A student, and even started her own business: she sold C++ compilers, a type of software that translates computer code, to Chinese schools.

Holmes started taking Mandarin lessons, and part-way through high school, talked her way into being accepted by Stanford University’s summer program, which culminated in a trip to Beijing.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Inspired by her great-great-grandfather Christian Holmes, a surgeon, Holmes decided she wanted to go into medicine. But she discovered early on that she was terrified of needles. Later, she said this influenced her to start Theranos.

Holmes went to Stanford to study chemical engineering. When she was a freshman, she became a “president’s scholar,” an honor which came with a $3,000 stipend to go toward a research project.

Holmes spent the summer after her freshman year interning at the Genome Institute in Singapore. She got the job partly because she spoke Mandarin.

As a sophomore, Holmes went to one of her professors, Channing Robertson, and said: “Let’s start a company.” With his blessing, she founded Real-Time Cures, later changing the company’s name to Theranos. Thanks to a typo, early employees’ paychecks actually said “Real-Time Curses.”

Holmes soon filed a patent application for “Medical device for analyte monitoring and drug delivery,” a wearable device that would administer medication, monitor patients’ blood, and adjust the dosage as needed.

By the next semester, Holmes had dropped out of Stanford altogether, and was working on Theranos in the basement of a college house.

Image credit: Jeff Chiu/AP

Theranos’s business model was based around the idea that it could run blood tests, using proprietary technology that required only a finger pinprick and a small amount of blood. Holmes said the tests would be able to detect medical conditions like cancer and high cholesterol.

Holmes started raising money for Theranos from prominent investors like Oracle founder Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, the father of a childhood friend and the founder of prominent VC firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Theranos raised more than $700 million, and Draper has continued to defend Holmes.

Holmes took investors’ money on the condition that she wouldn’t have to reveal how Theranos’ technology worked. Plus, she would have final say over everything having to do with the company.

That obsession with secrecy extended to every aspect of Theranos. For the first decade Holmes spent building her company, Theranos operated in stealth mode. She even took three former Theranos employees to court, claiming they had misused Theranos trade secrets.

Holmes’ attitude toward secrecy and running a company was borrowed from a Silicon Valley hero of hers: former Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Holmes started dressing in black turtlenecks like Jobs, decorated her office with his favorite furniture, and like Jobs, never took vacations.

Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Even Holmes’s uncharacteristically deep voice may have been part of a carefully crafted image intended to help her fit in in the male-dominated business world. In ABC’s podcast on Holmes called “The Dropout,” former Theranos employees said the CEO sometimes “fell out of character,” particularly after drinking, and would speak in a higher voice.

Holmes was a demanding boss, and wanted her employees to work as hard as she did. She had her assistants track when employees arrived and left each day. To encourage people to work longer hours, she started having dinner catered to the office around 8 p.m. each night.

More behind-the-scenes footage of what life was like at Theranos was revealed in leaked videos obtained by the team behind the HBO documentary “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley.” The more than 100 hours of footage showed Holmes walking around the office, scenes from company parties, speeches from Holmes and Balwani, and Holmes dancing to “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer.

Shortly after Holmes dropped out of Stanford at age 19, she began dating Theranos president and COO Sunny Balwani, who was 20 years her senior. The two met during Holmes’ third year in Stanford’s summer Mandarin program, the summer before she went to college. She was bullied by some of the other students, and Balwani had come to her aid.

Balwani became Holmes’ No. 2 at Theranos despite having little experience. He was said to be a bully, and often tracked his employees’ whereabouts. Holmes and Balwani eventually broke up in spring 2016 when Holmes pushed him out of the company.

Sunny Balwani pictured in January 2019.

Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In 2008, the Theranos board decided to remove Holmes as CEO in favor of someone more experienced. But over the course of a two-hour meeting, Holmes convinced them to let her stay in charge of her company.

As Theranos started to rake in millions of funding, Holmes became the subject of media attention and acclaim in the tech world. She graced the covers of Fortune and Forbes, gave a TED Talk, and spoke on panels with Bill Clinton and Alibaba’s Jack Ma.

Theranos quickly began securing outside partnerships. Capital Blue Cross and Cleveland Clinic signed on to offer Theranos tests to their patients, and Walgreens made a deal to open Theranos testing centers in their stores. Theranos also formed a secret partnership with Safeway worth $350 million.

In 2011, Holmes hired her younger brother, Christian, to work at Theranos, although he didn’t have a medical or science background. Christian Holmes spent his early days at Theranos reading about sports online and recruiting his Duke University fraternity brothers to join the company. People dubbed Holmes and his crew the “Frat Pack” and “Therabros.”

Elizabeth Holmes and her brother, Christian.

Image credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

At one point, Holmes was the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire with a net worth of around $4.5 billion.

Holmes was obsessed with security at Theranos. She asked anyone who visited the company’s headquarters to sign non-disclosure agreements before being allowed in the building, and had security guards escort visitors everywhere — even to the bathroom.

Holmes hired bodyguards to drive her around in a black Audi sedan. Her nickname was “Eagle One.” The windows in her office had bulletproof glass.

Around the same time, questions were being raised about Theranos’ technology. Ian Gibbons — chief scientist at Theranos and one of the company’s first hires — warned Holmes that the tests weren’t ready for the public to take, and that there were inaccuracies in the technology. Outside scientists began voicing their concerns about Theranos, too.

By August 2015, the FDA began investigating Theranos, and regulators from the government body that oversees laboratories found “major inaccuracies” in the testing Theranos was doing on patients.

By October 2015, Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou published his investigation into Theranos’s struggles with its technology. Carreyrou’s reporting sparked the beginning of the company’s downward spiral.

Carreyrou found that Theranos’ blood-testing machine, named Edison, couldn’t give accurate results, so Theranos was running its samples through the same machines used by traditional blood-testing companies.

Image credit: Carlos Osorio/AP

Holmes appeared on CNBC’s Mad Money shortly after the WSJ published its story to defend herself and Theranos. “This is what happens when you work to change things, and first they think you’re crazy, then they fight you, and then all of a sudden you change the world,” Holmes said.

By 2016, the FDA, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and SEC were all looking into Theranos.

In July 2016, Holmes was banned from the lab-testing industry for two years. By October, Theranos had shut down its lab operations and wellness centers.

In March 2018, Theranos, Holmes, and Balwani were charged with “massive fraud” by the SEC. Holmes agreed to give up financial and voting control of the company, pay a $500,000 fine, and return 18.9 million shares of Theranos stock. She also isn’t allowed to be the director or officer of a publicly traded company for 10 years.

Despite the charges, Holmes was allowed to stay on as CEO of Theranos, since it’s a private company. The company had been hanging on by a thread, and Holmes wrote to investors asking for more money to save Theranos. “In light of where we are, this is no easy ask,” Holmes wrote.

Image credit: Kimberly White/Getty Images for Fortune

In Theranos’ final days, Holmes reportedly got a Siberian husky puppy named Balto that she brought into the office. However, the dog wasn’t potty trained, and would go to the bathroom inside the company’s office and during meetings.

In June 2018, Theranos announced that Holmes was stepping down as CEO. On the same day, the Department of Justice announced that a federal grand jury had charged Holmes, along with Balwani, with nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Theranos sent an email to shareholders in September 2018 announcing that the company was shutting down. Theranos reportedly said it planned to spend the next few months repaying creditors with its remaining resources.

Around the time Theranos’ time was coming to an end, Holmes made her first public appearance alongside William “Billy” Evans, a 27-year-old heir to a hospitality property management company in California. The two reportedly first met in 2017, and were seen together in 2018 at Burning Man, the art festival in the Nevada desert.

Holmes is said to wear Evans’ MIT “signet ring” on a chain around her neck, and the couple reportedly posts photos “professing their love for each other” on a private Instagram account. Evans’ parents are reportedly “flabbergasted” at their son’s decision to marry Holmes.

It’s unclear where Holmes and Evans currently reside, but they were previously living in a $5,000-a-month apartment in San Francisco until April 2019. The apartment was located just a few blocks from one of the city’s top tourist attractions, the famously crooked block of Lombard Street.

It was later reported that Holmes and Evans got engaged in early 2019, then married in June in a secretive wedding ceremony. Former Theranos employees were reportedly not invited to the wedding, according to Vanity Fair.

Holmes, as well as Balwani, will see their day in court sometime this year. A California judge ruled that the federal trial for Holmes and Balwani is set to start in August 2020.

If convicted, both Holmes and Balwani could face up to 20 years in prison and a more than $2.7 million fine, the U.S. government has said.

Image credit: Justin Silva/Getty, Stephen Lam/Reuters, Business Insider

Besides the criminal case, Holmes is also involved in a number of civil lawsuits, including one in Arizona brought on by former Theranos patients over inaccurate blood tests. The lawyers representing her in the Arizona case said in late 2019 they hadn’t been paid over a year, and asked to be removed from Holmes’ legal team.

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There’s a method for making sure you don’t miss an opportunity at converting.

3 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As your number-one ROI chaser, I’m here with another tale of a business getting it wrong. You see, I am trying to sign up my daughter for dance classes. Four of them. She loves dance, has been on company teams before and is ready to go “all in” (i.e. they’re about to get a payday from me over and over again). The problem is, I can’t get the dance studio to take my money.

I’ve tried emailing, calling, showing up in person only to find it closed, showing up in person when they are open. None of it has worked so far. The latest exchange involved the owner telling me to use a different email address because the one that I used requires him to log in, and he always has trouble doing it. This was in response to my last message that asked for us to sign her up. Seriously.

If the school wasn’t so close to our house and I hadn’t heard such great things about their program, I would have given up a long time ago. As I am sure many have. Can you imagine how much they have lost in sales?

So the question is: Is this happening inside of your business, too? Before you’re quick to say no, ask yourself: Was there ever a question that came into our website that took me a minute to respond to? Did I ever miss someone contacting us on social media? Was there a voicemail that got lost somewhere? Does my team always capture every lead?

I know that at Powerful Professionals Business Coaching, we occasionally mess this up for sure. And when we do, it hits that pit in my stomach normally reserved for roller coasters and grownups wearing clogs.

Related: The 1 Secret You Need to Know to Increase Sales

To elminate the need for such a moment of angst, I browse the inquiries that come into our customer service team a few times a week, and we’ve built time into our planning to comb through all channels to make sure everyone is answered. We even hired a VA whose only job is to monitor and reply to my social media messages and comments so we don’t miss anything any longer. These systems collectively plugged the hole of missed sales opportunities and increased revenue without inreasing ad spend. 

Are there sales opportunities you are missing that can be captured right now? Look for a chance to make a sale that exists in front of you now and … Take. Their. Money. Schedule time this week to get it done.

And now I’m off to camp out in front of the dance studio with a wad of cash to see what happens next.

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Strategies for staying ahead amid a dizzying e-commerce landscape.

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Online retail has always been a crowded market, and thanks to the plethora of free website builders, it’s more competitive than ever before. If you’re entering a niche that already has a dozen entities fighting for dominance, you’re going to get lost in the white noise. And even if you don’t have much direct competition, there’s always the threat of generalized juggernauts like Amazon to worry about.

So, what steps can you take to stay competitive in a saturated online retail market?

Target a Distinct Niche

Your best bet is to try to avoid competition by targeting a distinctive niche. There are thousands of online retailers focusing on clothing, but if you focus on a specific type of item, like wool coats, you’ll instantly narrow the field. Customers who are passionate about wool coats specifically will go out of their way to find a specialist.

Related: Why Digital Marketers Should Be More Like Personal Shoppers

This is also helpful if you’re making use of search engine optimization (SEO). In SEO, your goal is to increase your webpages’s rankings in search-engine results, but if you’re competing with brands that have been building their online presence for years, you’ll find it hard to penetrate powerful keywords like “online apparel.” Instead, you can target long-tail phrases, which come with less traffic but are much easier to rank for.

Lower Prices (If You Can)

This is an obvious tip, but try to lower your prices if you can, at least initially, to generate more traffic and paying customers. People often conduct price comparisons on the items they need, so if yours are the most appealing on the market, they’ll flock to you.

That said, most small online retail businesses can’t compete with major players on price without cutting into their profits, so you may need to find an alternative option.

Give Customers Something Your Competitors Can’t

For some companies, this could mean offering amazing customer service. For example, the online shoe brand Zappos became popular in part because of its unparalleled commitment to making customers happy. For other companies, it means capitalizing on an existing legacy. For example, Diamondere has been designing custom jewelry for 125 years and uses that experience in combination with modern technology to produce unique pieces unlike anything their competitors sell.

Start Local

If you’re struggling to generate momentum for your business, you could focus on a specific local market and expand from there. Depending on the nature of your business, that might mean opening a brick-and-mortar retail location, or simply mean optimizing your site with local-specific keywords. Targeting a local audience will instantly narrow your demographics, giving you more power to tailor your products and services to their needs. More importantly, it will greatly reduce the number of companies directly competing with you. Once you start seeing growth, you can expand to target other areas.

Get Customers to Try You

If you have good products at good prices and quality service to match, the only thing stopping customers from shopping with you will be familiarity. They’re probably used to shopping with a bigger, more established retail brand and won’t go out of their way to try something new. That’s why you need to make the effort to get customers to try you. Distribute free samples, reach out to people in your target demographics, and offer amazing deals to get people started. Consider it your foot-in-the-door.

Retail: These 2 Graphs Explain the Retail ‘Apocalypse’

Leverage Your Competition

If you can’t beat a competitor, find a way to use them in your favor. For example, some ambitious online retail brands have taken to buying pay-per-click (PPC) ads that utilize their top competitor’s brand name; that way, you can capitalize on customers specifically searching for your competitor and persuade them to visit your online store instead.

Offer Unparalleled Customer Service

You can make up for a number of potential shortcomings, including online presence, customer familiarity and price, by offering unparalleled customer service. Anytime a customer has an issue, do everything in your power to make it right, even if it means taking a short-term loss.

Provide your customers with surprise “extras,” like free samples or bonus products in their shipments. Make sure they’re absolutely satisfied with every purchase. If you go above and beyond, you’ll build a loyalty that’s practically unbreakable.

Competing with well-established powerhouses in your own online retail niche may be challenging, but it’s not impossible. If you’re not afraid to make adjustments to your business, and if you offer something your competitors can’t match, you should have a good chance of rising to prominence. Just make sure you’re doing everything with your customers’s interests in mind.

While making important decision of your business, Don’t take a chance. Trust only expert.

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Shave a few strokes off your golf game with PhiGolf.

2 min read

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.

They say as much business is done on the golf course as in the board room. That may be an exaggeration, but it’s no secret that having a low handicap could help you in the business world. Want to improve your stroke but don’t have all the time in the world to hit the links? Check out PhiGolf, the mobile and home smart golf simulator.

This ingenious creation combines the arcade action of games like Golden Tee with state-of-the-art sensor technology so it feels like you’re really golfing in your living room. With the integrated swing stick, this immersive game emulates your real swing so it feels like you’re really teeing off. The system is easy to set up anywhere you have a screen — just download the WGT Golf app to set up the photorealistic simulations of real, famous golf courses. You can play alone, use the swing trainer to iron out the kinks in your swing, or grab some friends and play a round together. It’s like having a Top Golf setup in your home or office — no nets or balls needed.

Start shedding strokes. The PhiGolf WGT Edition is on sale today for $200 with the use of promo code “GOLF20” at checkout. 

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The company’s latest marketing strategy is touting its commitment to consumer data privacy

3 min read

This story originally appeared on Endgadget

It had been 28 years since Apple last made an official trip to CES until today when Jane Horvath, the company’s senior director for global privacy, appeared on a panel discussing consumer privacy.

Touting privacy, of course, has become one of the company’s main marketing strategies. The pitch is that, in a post-Cambridge Analytica world that’s become an arms-race for consumer data, Apple alone — not Google, Amazon or Facebook — can be trusted with personal information. Its business comes from hardware and software (and maybe now entertainment), not trafficking user data. Apple CEO Tim Cook has been vocal about it and his company has both introduced new privacy features and trolled its competitors.

But for those expecting a three-way dust-up between Apple, Facebook and the FTC at CES, there was no such thing. Even though moderator Rajiv Chand of Wing Venture Capital tried his best to set up the conflict on the all-female panel that also included Erin Egan, VP of public policy and chief privacy officer for policy at Facebook, Rebecca Slaughter, commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission and Susan Shook, Procter & Gamble’s global privacy officer.

“Almost every day when we read the newspaper we see different concerning stories about privacy or security breaches. It would be impossible to conclude that enough is being done,” said Slaughter of the FTC.

And the burden of protecting privacy can’t lie only on consumers, she said. Understanding the amount of user data that’s processed daily is “untenable for most people.”

Apple’s Horvath, who previously was global privacy counsel at Google and chief privacy counsel at the Department of Justice, expectedly listed the company’s “privacy by design” and data minimization principles. For instance, the way Apple injects noise into the “frequently used” emoji datasets to anonymize them and processes facial recognition on the Photos app on-device. Horvath also confirmed that Apple scans for child sexual abuse content uploaded to iCloud. “We are utilizing some technologies to help screen for child sexual abuse material,” she said.

Egan, of Facebook, tried to put her employer on an equally secure plane as Apple, citing privacy as a fundamental right — despite the fact that in the last year Facebook has been in privacy skirmishes with Apple and received a record fine from the FTC. “We have a different business model than Apple but both business models are privacy-protective” she said.

When Chand asked if privacy is protected today for people, Egan responded said yes.

Slaughter, however, disagreed. “I don’t think anyone here could tell any of us accurately who has what data about them and how it is being used,” she said.

One point that was more or less agreed on: the need for a federal privacy law. Slaughter — while not drawn into concrete predictions — said she’d hope for legislation in the next year. Horvath said the US should not only learn from the GDPR model in implementing legislation, but suggested “we need to look at every consumer regardless of where they live as entitled to the same strong protections.”

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Think of your goals as more than just finish lines.

2 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Jack Canfield takes a look back at how his goals went in 2019, and reviews a few new ways you can approach your own for 2020. 

First, look at where your starting point was. 

Additionally, when thinking about your goals, Canfield recommends taking a step and looking at the amount of progress you have achieved. If you measure your goals in the distance and advancement you’ve made from your starting point, there will be a clear indication you have made steps in the right direction. 

Jack Canfield talks about how he makes 21 goals every year, but usually only meets about 15. Canfield stresses that it is alright if you only meet about three-quarters of your goals, but you should think honestly about what kind of goals you are forming. 

Canfield helps refine and organize the steps of goal development with a few select tips. Click the video to hear more. 

Related: Why Jack Canfield’s ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ Series Was Originally Rejected

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Ross LaJeunesse, Google’s former head of international relations, published a scathing 2,175-word blog post about his former employer.

3 min read

This story originally appeared on PCMag

Google is facing criticism from a former company executive, who claims the tech giant prioritizes profits over human rights.

“The company’s motto used to be ‘Don’t be evil.’ Things have changed,” Ross LaJeunesse, Google’s former head of international relations, who left the company last year, wrote in a scathing 2,175-word blog post published today.

Related: How Google’s Youngest-Ever Hire Launched an AI Company Backed by Mark Cuban (Podcast)

LaJeunesse pointed to Google’s Project Dragonfly, a now-abandoned effort to re-enter the Chinese market with a censored search engine, which reportedly would’ve allowed Chinese authorities to track users’ search history. It axed Dragonfly after pushback from lawmakers and employees, but LaJeunesse claims the episode is evidence of Google’s “Greed and abuse of power.”

LaJeunesse, who joined Google in 2008, said he tried to push the company to formally adopt a program whereby all product design elements wound undergo a review to examine their impact on human rights. “But each time I recommended a Human Rights Program, senior executives came up with an excuse to say no,” he claimed.

According to LaJeunesse, the justifications included fear of legal liabilities and wanting to keep the issue solely within the oversight of individual product teams. But he argues Google essentially “sidelined” him from the Dragonfly project.

“I then realized that the company had never intended to incorporate human rights principles into its business and product decisions,” he added. “Just when Google needed to double down on a commitment to human rights, it decided to instead chase bigger profits and an even higher stock price.”

Related: Google Is Adding Spam Detection and Verified Business SMS to Messages

LaJeunesse also claims Google has a toxic workplace culture, citing some cringeworthy examples: “Senior colleagues bullied and screamed at young women, causing them to cry at their desks. At an all-hands meeting, my boss said, ‘Now you Asians come to the microphone too. I know you don’t like to ask questions,'” he claimed.

In November 2018, thousands of company workers held a walkout over the same issue.

LaJeunesse is now running in the Democratic primary for US Senate in Maine; the winner will go up against long-time Republican Sen. Susan Collins. So today’s blog post may give him a publicity boost, while also answering questions about his work at Google. If elected to office, LaJeunesse indicates he’ll try to regulate today’s largest tech companies.

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These are the headlines that dominated the cannabis industry in 2019 — what can we expect in 2020?

6 min read

This story originally appeared on MJBizDaily

The U.S. cannabis industry experienced some momentous moves forward on the legalization front in 2019, but it also faced significant obstacles that reflected how the licensed marijuana sector is continuing to mature and why it cannot always expect boom times and unfettered growth.

The top page views of the year at Marijuana Business Daily show the industry’s interest in both sides of the coin. Among the most viewed stories of the year were those that focused on:

  • The vaping health scare.
  • Illinois’ historic move as it became the first state in the country to legalize retail sales through its Legislature and the 11th overall to approve adult use.
  • A key U.S. House committee’s approval of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act.
  • California marijuana business headwinds such as those surrounding the illicit market and ongoing licensing barriers.

What follows is a rundown of MJBizDaily’s top stories of the year, as determined by the number of page views on the U.S. site.

RELATED: 20 Bold Predictions For The Cannabis Industry In 2020

1. Colorado’s Largest Cannabis Grower Loses Millions Of Dollars In Early Freeze: Supply Disruption Expected

Los Sueños Farms, which is based in Pueblo, Colorado — and is the largest marijuana cultivator in the state — revealed in October that it lost millions of dollars because of an early winter storm.

The industry braced for ripples throughout the cannabis supply chain in the state, reducing the amount of marijuana available to retailers and processors — and meaning higher wholesale cannabis prices.

By December, however, Los Sueños’ owner reported the outdoor harvest was still better than 2018, and the company had ample material for the extraction market. The grower estimated it lost roughly $7 million from the freeze.


2. U.S. House Panel Passes Federal Cannabis Legalization Bill In Historic Vote

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019 passed a vote by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in November. If adopted into law, the measure could open up huge business opportunities for legal marijuana nationwide, similar to the federal legalization of hemp.

If the MORE Act does pass the full House in the 2020 election year, it still faces the huge obstacle represented by the Republican-controlled Senate.

3. UPS Sues California Cannabis Delivery Companies For Infringing On Trademark

Underlining why putting a moniker on a cannabis business isn’t as easy as it sounds, Atlanta-based United Parcel Service accused a group of California marijuana businesses — United Pot Smokers, UPS420 and THCPlant — of using names and logos that are “confusingly similar” to the package-delivery giant’s name and shield logo.

UPS also said the alleged infringement hurts its reputation through association with a marijuana company and further claimed the defendants have a reputation for offering “sham services” under the UPS mark and shield logo.

RELATED: 3 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From The Vaping Industry

4. Deaths, Illnesses Related To Vaping Cannabis On The Rise, Health Authorities Say

Concerns over marijuana vaping-related fatalities and illnesses began to dominate headlines in earnest in September as U.S. health officials urged people to stop vaping until it was determined why some consumers were coming down with serious breathing illnesses.

Now at the end of 2019, the worst days of the vaping crisis appear to be behind the legal cannabis industry as evidence mounted that products from the illicit market were mainly to blame.

The cannabis industry went on the offensive this year as marijuana businesses pushed to educate consumers about the importance of buying from the legal market.



5. Cannabis Industry Insiders Brace For Potential Fallout As Health Officials Report New Vaping Deaths

As news of the vape health crisis and related deaths spread, some in the cannabis industry expected at least a temporary drop in sales for products such as disposable vape cartridges, and that did come to pass.

The vape crisis hurt business in all recreational cannabis markets in the United States. And while vape sales moved up toward the end of the year in major markets, most have not yet fully recovered to where they were before.

6. 400-Plus California Marijuana Business Licenses Suspended, Injecting Fresh Uncertainty Into State’s Cannabis Industry

In 2020, the legal marijuana business in California is likely to get worse before it gets better. And that’s after an already challenging 2019.

For example, California suspended more than 400 marijuana business permits in November, which affected roughly 5 percent of the state’s legal cannabis supply chain.

Marijuana businesses from retailers to distributors were affected and had to cease all sales until their licenses were reinstated to “active” status.

Later in the month, however, industry observers said California’s licensed marijuana supply chain likely wouldn’t see huge effects from the permit suspensions, because many of the cannabis companies involved weren’t operational or were canceled business ventures.

RELATED: The 10 Biggest Cannabis Stories Of 2019

7. Legal Cannabis Gifts Lead To New Business Practice In Michigan

In January, a legal loophole in Michigan was pointed out that allowed individuals to give away cannabis free of charge. That led to a new business model by some companies in which they sold products such as non-infused candy or art and added a free bit of marijuana as a “gift.”

Some entrepreneurs might have gotten the idea from Washington DC, where recreational cannabis is legal but sales are still prohibited and where gifting popped up as a way to sidestep the sales ban.

8. California Governor To Send National Guard To Combat Illegal Marijuana Growers

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an order in February that redeployed 360 National Guard troops from the U.S.-Mexico border to three other state-specific assignments.

The move was welcomed by the state’s legal marijuana growers, which have long struggled against a thriving illicit market.

9. In Landmark Move, Illinois Lawmakers Approve Adult-Use Cannabis Program That Could Hit $2 Billion In Sales

Illinois made the historic move in May of becoming the first state to legalize adult-use marijuana cultivation and sales through its Legislature.

The announcement was cheered by the cannabis industry as it potentially created of one of the nation’s largest adult-use marijuana markets offering massive business opportunities.

Marijuana Business Daily estimates the Illinois recreational market could eventually hit $2.5 billion a year in sales.

10. Marijuana Wholesale Prices On The Rise In Mature Recreational Markets

As of August, wholesale cannabis prices looked to be going up in the recreational cannabis markets in Colorado, Oregon and Washington state, according to two reports and insights from growers.

The upward price trend seemed related to stronger demand and weaker supply, growers going out of business and some farmers pivoting to hemp.

To stay up to date on the latest marijuana-related news make sure to like Marijuana Business Daily on Facebook

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This founder looked to spread C-suite perks to small businesses.

2 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Business Rockstars speaks with Eric Kuhn of Founders Card, who noticed that many investment firms were able to benefit from lower interest rates but bottom-level entrepreneurs were not benefitting. This revelation prompted Founders Card, which is meant to create a membership community for founders and CEOs, through which they can receive certain perks and benefits.

The program is very helpful to building and growing the business. The membership is ideal for rising executives who are eager to get certain benefits and networking opportunities. 

Click the video to hear more from Business Rockstars and Eric Kuhn.

Related: How This Accounting Firm’s Office Builds Structure and Invites the Flow of Ideas

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