When Zappo’s CEO Tony Hsieh began The Downtown Project in 2012, he wanted to revitalize downtown Las Vegas through entrepreneurship and technology. Though rumors and bad publicity have recently plagued the project, it has to date invested in more than 100 local businesses in a variety of sectors. Here, a behind-the-scenes look at some of the entrepreneurs engaging in the new tech ecosystem.
Full disclosure: this is partially a self-serving post. I’m a competitive night owl and thus gravitate toward studies that support the underrated and unsurpassed brilliance of night owls. We recently discussed the trend of extreme transparency in the workplace, focusing on Buffer, where employees know the sleeping habits of their colleagues. Night owls still tend to be regarded with a little bit of suspicion. Sure, even the most old-fashioned bosses tend to be impressed by the occasional burning of midnight oil, but what happens when midnight oil is the norm and 8am coffee is the exception?
Often times, those night owls are outperforming the early birds. Why? Superior focus Here’s where night owls and early birds agree: it’s a special sort of feeling to be locked in a productive groove while the rest of the world sleeps. In the morning, though, the disruptions and distractions are waking up all around you. At night, they’re all fading away. We’re less likely to fall into the trap of multitasking (which hardly anyone does as well as they think). Night owls can generally sustain focus for a longer amount of time than early birds, who tend to hit walls in the late afternoon. Plus, night owls don’t have to waste any time telling their coworkers about how long they’ve been in the office. The night time is the right time for creativity Collectively, we’re slowly learning that not everyone thrives equally under identical work conditions.
You may notice some correlation between schedule preference and type of job. “Evening types tend to be the more extrovert creative types, the poets, artists and inventors, while the morning types are the deducers, as often seen with civil servants and accountants,” Professor Jim Horne told the Independent. Creativity and nocturnal habits go so well together that there’s even a Wikipedia section devoted to it. Proust and Joyce are on our team. So is Churchill. So is every musician you love. So are Hitler and Stalin, but shush. Moving on… It’s evolution, baby Night owls may be faster to adapt to challenges and changes in your workplace.
The proof? They’ve already evolved faster than their peers, shaking off a schedule that once was much more closely tethered to success and survival. Your circadian rhythms are missing a beat It’s a lovely idea that an early schedule keeps you connected to your primal self and the tides of the ocean or whatever. Here’s the thing, though: your analytical skills aren’t especially impacted by time of day, but when you need a flash of inspiration to solve a routine-thwarting challenge, you may benefit from ditching your “natural” clock.
Marieke B. Wieth and Rose T. Zacks go into (way more) detail in “Time of day effects on problem solving: When the non-optimal is optimal” in the Thinking & Reasoning journal. Night owls no longer have to fly off the radar The real lesson for businesses is to let people work to their individual strengths as much as possible. When it comes to schedules, these preferences may even be embedded in our genes. Especially in this new era of workplace flexibility, the focus in many situations should be on the quality of work, not the when or where related to work. If your company can’t quite let everyone off the leash completely, collaboration tools like iMeet Central offer a range of features to assist in oversight and accountability.
For the first time in decades, Detroit has a sustainable path forward. The momentum is undeniable and a testament to an unwavering spirit and resilience. As Detroit’s businesses and downtown continue to thrive, maintaining the momentum requires ensuring opportunity reaches neighborhoods throughout the city. The 2016 Detroit Policy Conference brings business, civic and government leaders together to meet that challenge. Be a part of maintaining the Detroit momentum by attending the Conference on Wednesday, Feb. 24 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit. Programming will highlight key issues affecting Detroit’s neighborhoods such as financial literacy, regional transit, education, government, safety, blight, technology and sustainability. The Conference features an action-packed agenda with key business and community thought leaders who are leading Detroit’s new era, including Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit native David Maraniss, best-selling author of “Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story” and associate editor of The Washington Post. The Detroit Regional Chamber, in partnership with Detroit Experience Factory, is pleased to offer all Chamber members a special rate of $159 to attend this event – a $66 savings over the nonmember rate. Just enter “DPCPtnrs” when registering to receive your Chamber discount. Please note, this special pricing will expire on Wednesday, Feb. For more information or to register, please visit http://www.detroitchamber.com/dpc.
If you are a new entrepreneur, or entering a new business area, it’s always worth your time to assemble an Advisory Board of two or three executives who have travelled that road before. You need them before you need funding, and if you select the wrong people, or use them incorrectly, no amount of money will likely save your startup. Even top executives rely on their advisors.
For perspective, you need to remember that boards of advisors, unlike directors, have no formal power or fiduciary duties, but rather serve at the pleasure of you the business owner. But they are not likely to stroke your ego, or be cheerleaders. They need to tell you the truth about you and your business, good or bad.
Using them effectively requires real effort on your part. If you give and ask for nothing, you will get nothing. Used correctly, they will be your best advocates to investors, and can save you from making major mistakes. Here are some tips on finding and using your advisory board effectively:
- Select people who complement your experience. If your experience is primarily technical, get someone who has built a business. If your business is too small for a CFO, get an advisor with heavy financial experience. If the business area is new to you, find someone who has lived it. Balance is best.
- Be specific on help needed. If you’ve chosen your advisory board members carefully, you’re asking busy, successful people to carve even more time out of their schedule to help you. Let each one know how you see his/her expertise – it may be insight on trends, organizational advice, or funding connections. Set a fixed term, like one year.
- Formalize the compensation. Most advisory board members sign up because the want to help you, not because of the compensation. Yet you should offer a reasonable monthly fee and/or some stock options to show you are serious about the position. If you want out-of-town members on your board, you reimburse the travel expenses.
- You need to drive to process. It’s smart to schedule a monthly Advisory Board meeting, with a formal agenda, as well as informal communication to keep everyone on the same page. Advisors can’t help you if they only hear from you once every six months. They expect you to initiate specific requests, rather than having to ask for updates.
- Respect their time commitment. For a business executive, nothing is more annoying than a poorly run meeting where the presenter is unprepared, rambles, and wastes time. Make sure every meeting is facilitated well so that concrete action steps, deadlines and assignments result. Have someone take notes so that decisions are recorded.
- Recruit the best for your real Board. Your Advisory Board is a pre-cursor to your Board of Directors, a bit further down the line. This is your chance to test commitment, chemistry, and contribution for that more formal position. It’s a great networking opportunity to expand your connections to include all their connections as well.
Here’s a quick checklist of a few things that you can do to make sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row before you take your deal out on the road to investors (if you are a concept stage business, or thinking of taking the programme accelerator route then this may be less relevant but still worth checking out anyway).
1 – Update all team Linked In profiles
This seems an obvious point to make but just a reminder that most people in business very often visit your LinkedIn profile ahead of a meeting or conversation with you. It goes without saying to not only make sure the profile is an accurate reflection of both past and present but it’s a good idea if you can stoke up your profile in other ways such as:…
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