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Ma and Chenault: An Interview with 7 Major Points

18 Jul

Jack Ma, who started life with very little, is now one of the richest people in the world. He is the  founder and executive chairman of retail behemoth Alibaba Group, which generates hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

In an interview with Kenneth Chenault,  chairman and chief executive officer of American Express, Ma enumerated seven key points. These points are valuable to those at any point in their careers:

  1. Rejection comes with benefits. “When Ma graduated university, he applied to 30 different large companies — and no one would hire him.  So, he started a translation agency, earning $50 his first month. Years later, in 1999, he gathered 17 investors in his apartment, explaining to them his vision to use the Internet to help small-business owners sell. With $50,000, they started Alibaba.”
  2. Get your business global. “Innovative products and services bring those small and medium-size companies to China. I would say China, in the next 20 years, will become the largest importer country in the world because China’s resources can never support such huge demand.”
  3. Don’t wait to innovate. Ma said: “Repair the roof while there is still sunshine. “When the company is good, change the company. When the company is in trouble, be careful. Don’t move. Just like if the storm comes, don’t go up and repair the roof.”
  4. Learn from the failures of others. “For Ma, it’s the mistakes that business owners should really learn from. ‘A lot of people fail for the same reason. If you know why people fail and you learn [from] that, you can make a correction.'”
  5. Be passionate. “If you’re just in the business for money, you’re going about it wrong. Ma and Chenault both emphasized the need for passion in what you do, and agreed that that fervor is a hallmark of successful small-business owners.”
  6. Customers come first. Ma said: “The ones supporting you are not the shareholders. Not government. It’s the customers, the people, the employees. Focus on the customer. Focus on making employees happy. And focus on integrity to everything you’re committed. That is the only thing.”
  7. Help build strong leaders. “If a business is to continue after the owner has moved on, the younger generations must understand and embrace its vision and values. ‘Give them the chance to make mistakes. Listen to them. Respect them,’ said Ma.”

Click the AP Photography image to read more.


Getting Off a Bad Career Path

11 Jun

We all aspire to great careers — with jobs that we find fulfilling, that have cooperative workmates, that have bosses who respect us and our abilities, that have the potential for upward mobility, and that compensate us fairly.

So, happens when our career goals are not being fulfilled?

Here are some observations from By J.T. O’Donnell, Founder and CEO, — writing for Inc.:

Step 1: Get clear on your pivot. You need to choose a new career direction based on the facts. What problems do you want to solve? What skills do you want to leverage? How do you want to provide value to an employer?  The more specific you can be about your new career direction, the easier it will be to connect the dots and get a new job doing what you want.” [Click the preceding link to access a free quiz.]

Step 2: Create an ‘interview bucket list.’ A targeted, proactive job search always produces better results. When you identify the companies you would most like to work for, you can build a job search plan that lets you work smarter.” [Click the preceding link to access interview bucket list tips.]

Step 3: Make new career friends. It still holds true that 80 percent of all jobs are obtained via referral. If you are changing careers, you need to meet people who are working for the companies on your interview bucket list.”

Step 4: Seek a ‘lily pad’ job. Getting a job at a company that has the kind of career opportunities you want to move into might start with you doing something for them that leverages the skills you gained in the career you’re trying to get out of. Once you’ve got your foot in the door, you can use your professional savvy to impress the employer into giving you a shot at doing what you really want to do.”

Click the image to read tips from O’Donnell regarding each of the above steps.

CREDIT: Getty Images


Part Two. Being Happier at Work: An Infographic

7 Jun

As we posted yesterday (“Part One. Being Happier in Life: An Infographic”), one of our key life goals should be happiness, a state of well-being and contentment. This applies to our work lives — not just our personal lives. So again, a good starting point is to ask ourselves how happy are we in our career path and in our current job? Do we understand our level of work-related happiness? What can we do to be happier at work?

According to Happify: “What do the people who are most satisfied with their jobs have in common? Learn these insider tips for being happier and more fulfilled during your 9 to 5.”

Check out the Happify infographic on happiness at work.


Why Aren’t YOU More Successful?

30 May

We recently published several posts about your self-branding through your life and your career (1, 2, 3, 4). YouTube clips were included.

So, what happens when there is a disconnect between our perceived self-brand (how we see ourselves) and how we want to be perceived by others?

John Rampton recently wrote an article for Inc. on “25 Reasons You Are Not as Successful as You Should Be.” His reasons are closely related to  self-branding disconnects which result in unfavorable perceptions of us by others.

Here are some of his reasons. Would you want to be perceived like this by others? Are these points true about you? If they are true, then you need to change your behavior. If they are false perceptions, then you need to better promote your self-brand!

  • “You’re Lazy”
  • “You’re Spending Too Much Time on Social Media”
  • “You Never Finish What You Start”
  • “You Don’t Believe in Yourself” [and you project this to others]
  • “You Feel Entitled”
  • “You Obsess Over Things That Aren’t Important”
  • “You’re Not As Productive As You Could Be”
  • “You Focus Too Much on Money”
  • “You’re Not Passionate”
  • “You’re a Negative Thinker”
  • “You Aren’t Constantly Learning”
  • “You Don’t Network”

Click the image to read more about the above reasons for self-branding disconnects — and to read the rest of Rampton’s 25 reasons.



A Product Management Infographic

27 May

What are the biggest challenges facing product (brand) managers?

Recently, the 280 Group conducted a comprehensive survey of product managers: “The results contain data from over 850 Product Managers and Product Management team leaders about the biggest challenges faced in their organizations. The final report also includes recommendations for how to avoid the most common challenges faced.”

Click the image for a larger version of the infographic. And click here, to download the full report. [You must provide a working E-mail address. The report is free.]


Small Businesses and Success/Failure

23 May

Over the decades, a lot of new products have been developed and marketed by small firms. Sometimes, these products find unfulfilled product niches (such as the original Vitaminwater) and then grow large enough to be acquired by giants (such as Vitaminwater’s parent Glaceau being bought by Coca-Cola for more than $4 billion).

Many other times, small firms fail. As John Boitnott observed for Entrepreneur:

“With thousands of startups worldwide building new products, it’s no wonder 75 percent of them fail [according to research by Shikhar Ghosh]. It’s actually a good thing because startup birth and death helps the ecosystem overall. Entrepreneurs can learn as much from mistakes as successes. Poor management, ineffective marketing, and team stress are some of the many reasons why companies fail.”

So, what can small firms do to improve their chances for successfully marketing themselves and their  products? Consider this advice from Rieva Lesonsky of

“Your business has been chugging along, growing slowly and steadily. That’s all well and good—but now, you want to kick it up a notch. You want to grow explosively! I’m going to share some strategies for doing that, but first, you need to take the most important step to explosive growth: Lay the groundwork.  That can include:

  • Perfecting your systems and processes. Examine your business internally and make sure your operations are as simple and efficient as possible.
  • Investigating financing options. Chances are, explosive business growth will require additional capital. Prepare for this eventuality by exploring your options and lining up any funding you may need.
  • Preparing your team. Your employees should be ready to handle increased demands. Get everyone excited about the firm’s future.
  • Listening to your customers. This not only directs your growth plans, but also provides feedback. If you haven’t already done so, use customer relationship management (CRM) tools, social listening, and customer surveys.”

Click the image to read A LOT MORE!


Self-Branding Across Roles and Life Stages: Part 3

19 May

Recently, Zarb School of Business Distinguished Professor Joel Evans of Hofstra University did an extended radio interview with Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D. on self-branding from different perspectives and across our diverse roles. Self-branding — how we see ourselves and how we want to be perceived by others — is a key to long-term personal and career success.

In this post, we are including Part 3 of the interview, which is broken into three parts/posts.

How can you use self-branding to consider what you want to do after college?

  • Click on the self-assessment test URL at the Radio America page for this program.

How can you use self-branding after retirement?

  • We have to first ask ourselves what we want to do in our retirement? Be a volunteer, travel more, work part-time, be more active as a grandparent, serve on local boards, etc.?
  • For each of these roles, we need a different (and maybe new) self-brand that we can project to others.
  • Our self-brand should be reflective of the role we are pursuing.
    • Here’s a personal example. I’m reaching the point where I am thinking about retiring from my full-time job in a couple of years.
    • My wife thinks I’ll go crazy in retirement (HER perception of my self-brand).
    • On the other hand, I have a good idea what I want to do then, as I recast my self-brand. I want to teach a graduate class at least once a year. I want to do volunteer work for a health-related nonprofit organization. I want to stay active in social media. I want to keep going to the gym and mingling with people there. I’m sure that as the time approaches, I will come up with more “to do” items. [Besides traveling more]
    • No matter what, I will have a strong impact on how others see me.



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