Tindie, The Gadgets Marketplace For Makers, Ramps Up

Check out #Tindie (the Etsy of electronics)…

Goodie Hack: 9 Straight Hours of Idea Hacking for Social Good

On Saturday, March 1st, 2014, from 9:00 AM until around 7:00 PM, the competitive and challenging tech start-up concept was put into practice by a venue full of purpose-driven volunteers, in order to effect social good, versus landing large amounts of money for their own ventures. Opportunity Hub 200 in downtown Atlanta was filled with techies and non-techies alike. I’m talking developers/coders, entrepreneurs, designers, professionals, educators, and purpose-driven leaders all freely giving of their time and talent to create new and unique technical solutions, on-the-spot, for a collective of non-profit organizations.

While there I felt like I was in the film “The Internship” with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, trying to win a coveted opportunity at #Google. There was even complimentary food and drinks (all-day snacks, plus REAL FOOD! that actually tasted great).The atmosphere was highly collaborative and inspiring, yet competitively charged and humbling at the same time. I had the privilege of meeting many burgeoning professionals, including Joey Womack of sf35, Earl Coleman who is the Co-Founder of OHUB200, and Michael T. Hill the CEO & President of Atlanta Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce.

I’m looking forward to many more “Goodie Hacks” to come. I’m particularly eager to witness the event expand to other cities as well. It’s an outstanding bridge-builder and an extremely effective method to leverage local and regional talent to benefit the social good of communities all over.

#GoodieHack #OHUB200 #RefreshSouth #AccelerateWithGoogle #sf35 #AMBCC #BlackFounders

Pitching Atlanta’s Strong Tech Clusters to TechCrunch

Major tech-related happenings in Atlanta lately. If this article is of interest to you, then you should check out this coming Saturday’s “Goodie Hack” (www.goodiehack.com) in downtown Atlanta at OpportunityHub/200-Office

David Cummings on Startups

Last week I had dinner with several writers and team members from TechCrunch. TechCrunch was in Atlanta for their meetup at the The Fabulous Fox Theatre and invited several members of the community out to dinner in advance of the event. At dinner, I pitched Atlanta’s strong tech clusters:

  • Marketing Software – Many of the most successful products in their class originated in Atlanta including MailChimp, Vitrue, Pardot, Silverpop, WhatCounts, and more representing over 1,000 employees locally
  • Logistics – Between Manhattan Associates on the software side and UPS on the shipping side, Atlanta has thousands of logistics-related employees
  • Health IT – Atlanta has over 200 health IT companies employing over 10,000 people including McKesson Technology Solutions
  • Internet SecurityInternet Security Systems was started in Atlanta in 1992 and has spawned hundreds of security companies over the years employing thousands of Atlantans
  • Payment Processing / FinTech – Companies like

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Stakeholders

A vital aspect of project management that should happen during the requirements analysis phase is identifying any and all stakeholders. Stakeholders are people, groups, or organizations that could impact or be impacted by the project (PMBOK Guide 5th edition, 2013, p. 391). Stakeholders will need to be effectively engaged in project decisions and execution via continuous communication to understand their needs and expectations, address issues as they occur, manage conflicts of interests and to manage overall stakeholder satisfaction. Though some stakeholders have more influence on the project than others, all must be identified, engaged and managed to ensure they always feel included and important to the project’s success.

When identifying the stakeholders, I look for anyone that could impact or be impacted by a decision, activity, or outcome of the project. The project team will need to understand relevant information pertaining to each stakeholder’s interests, interdependencies, influence, involvement, and potential level on impact on the project’s success. For identifying stakeholders, it is essential to take into consideration: the Project Charter; the Enterprise Environmental Factors; any Organizational Process Assets; and any pertinent Procurement documents. From there I even skim a few resumes and biographies of top executives and key personnel to really gain insight for who my team will be dealing with for the duration of the project.

The tools and techniques for stakeholder identification are: Stakeholder Analysis (a technique of systematically gathering and analyzing quantitative and qualitative information to determine whose interests should be taken into account throughout the project – can be classified into Power/Interest Grid, Power/Influence Grid, Influence/Impact Grid, or a Salience Model); Expert Judgment (judgment and expertise sought from groups of individuals with specialized training or subject matter expertise); and Meetings (use to develop better understanding and to establish communication). In order to manage Stakeholder relations my project team will make use of a Stakeholder Register, which contains all details related to the identified stakeholders, like: Identification information (i.e. name, organizational position, location, contact information, role in the project, etc.); Assessment information (i.e. major requirements, main expectations, potential influence in the project, etc.); and Stakeholder classification (internal/external, supporter/neutral/resistor, etc.) (PMBOK Guide 5th edition, 2013, p. 393-398).

Mobile Insecurity (according to Jason Ankeny)

(this post is a summation of an article written in Entrepreneur Magazine by Jason Ankeny)

THREAT #1: MALICIOUS APPS

Once downloaded to smartphones and tablets, these apps – often disguised as spinoffs of popular apps and games – engage in malicious activities like sending messages to certain numbers and registering users to premium services, or installing adware. PROTECT YOURSELF by downloading apps only from trustworthy sources such as Google Play or Apple’s App Store.

THREAT #2: MALICIOUS MOBILE SITES

Cyber criminals use fake URLs that can auto-fill mobile browsers to ensnare and infect devices with malware and spyware. Security firm Symantec reports that 61% of malicious websites are legitimate sites compromised by nefarious code. PROTECT YOURSELF by bookmarking websites you frequent, manually inputting the complete URL to other sites, and being cautious when opening hyperlinks.

THREAT #3: SMISHING

SMS-based phishing (“smishing”) schemes send consumers text messages containing a link to a fraudulent website or phone number created to collect personal information such as bank-account data. PROTECT YOURSELF by avoiding clicking links within text messages, especially if the sender is someone you don’t know. Never respond to texts that request personal data, and beware of messages sent from “5000” or other numbers that are not conventional 10-digit phone numbers.

THREAT #4: UNSECURED WI-FI ATTACKS

Shopping, banking or even accessing company documents over unsecured Wi-Fi connections can enable hackers to access your phone or tablet and steal its data. PROTECT YOURSELF and limit all online banking and shopping to your secure home or office network. Avoid VOIP apps and instant messaging services that automatically connect to nearby hotspots.

Just How Valuable is Project Management?

Project Management is absolutely a valued skill and a unique career path. Organizations can meet strategic objectives and obtain greater business value from their project investments through effective project management led by skilled and knowledgeable Project Managers. It is the responsibility of the Project Manager to satisfy tasks needs, team needs, and individual needs. Most organizations today realize the value of project management and invest ample resources into it. However, there are still some environments where project management is barely tolerated as “necessary overhead” or, worse, discouraged altogether (Kendrick, T., 2011, p. 30). Such organizations will often find that little planning with no structured approach to project management leads to scope creep, exceeded budgets, and busted schedules.

Project management as a structured practice is meant to save money, meet schedule expectations, control scope and other constraints, mitigate risks, and to accomplish the desired outcomes. Project Managers get things done according to a framework that helps increase the likelihood of success. Every project is different, yet every project can be carried out in much the same manner with the proper strategies and techniques. Project Managers are able to assess the situation, balance the demands, and maintain proactive communication with stakeholders in order to deliver a successful project.

Project Managers have expertise in temporary and unique endeavors, focusing solely on the happenings of a project without the conflicting role of participating in the routine day-to-day operations of an organization. Some elements of business value achieved through project management are: monetary assets, stockholder equity, utility, good will, brand recognition, public benefit, and trademarks. Project Managers are like airline pilots: with a team of onboard staff, pilots fly us from one destination to the next, doing so safely while providing some comfort and saving us the extra time it would’ve taken to drive or use a different source of transportation.

Some barriers to project management include: organizational cultures and styles; organizational structures; budgets and resource constraints; enterprise environmental factors (e.g. government or industry standards, marketplace conditions, political climate, stakeholder risk tolerances, personnel administration, etc.); and obtaining project stakeholder buy-in. Success of projects is largely based on relationships with stakeholders. Without stakeholder support and sponsorship, projects could be going nowhere.

To combat these barriers, it’s important to make the value of project management clear and undeniable. Project management expertise is proven to lead to lower costs, greater efficiencies, improved customer and stakeholder satisfaction, and greater competitive advantage. According to the Project Management Institute, Inc. (PMI), the economic downturn has heightened the value of project management even more. In fact, 80 percent of global executives believe having project management as a core competency helped them remain competitive during the recession (Closing the Gap, October 2009).

The bottom line is, adhering to project management methods and strategies reduces risks, cuts costs and improves success rates. Good project management discipline stops organizations from spending money on projects that fail.

By: Lex R. Brown II

Leadership Style

Leadership styles differ wildly across the plethora of organizations and their respective industries. I don’t believe there’s any one specific leadership style that is the most effective in all instances regardless of circumstances. However, there are definitely proven leadership styles and characteristics that work in most cases. Leadership is defined as the ability to influence a group toward the achievement of a vision or set of goals. Leaders are slightly different from managers, because you don’t necessarily need to have a management position in order to be a leader, nor does being a leader make someone a good manager. Still, organizations need both strong leadership and strong management for maximum impact and effectiveness.

Strong leaders are often described based on character traits. Some top character traits of great leaders include: charismatic, enthusiastic, and courageous. This is the leadership theory I fully support. When I examine a leader, I first analyze what kind of person said leader is. How do they speak and communicate? Do they seem honest and do they have a reputation of integrity to back it up? How do they react to conflict and challenge? How do they inspire others? Does anything about them inspire me?

Great leadership is definitely about emotional intelligence – you have to understand people, why they act how they act, what inspires them, what demotivates them, what their values are, and more in order to effectively lead them. People must feel that you’re genuine and sincerely care about them and things that they care about before they commit themselves to you as a leader and your vision (in most instances).

Regarding style, as a leader I prefer to be versatile and able to apply all of the different leadership styles depending on each situation and group or individual. Great leaders, in my humble opinion, incorporate all of the following: charisma (a great example here is President Barrack Obama); innovation (Richard Branson is a great example of an innovative leader); command and control (General Martin Dempsey); laissez-faire (i.e. Julian Assange); pace setting (i.e. Steve Jobs); servant-hood (like many of our military leaders); situational awareness (like Denver Broncos Quarterback Peyton Manning); and transformational strategy (i.e. Jeff Bezos of Amazon). Negotiating skills, the ability to coerce, and the willingness to be a coach and a mentor are also highly favorable character traits of great leaders.

Another aspect of great leaders from my perspective is the desire to help others grow and succeed, even if that success ultimately goes outside of their vision and organization. Leaders don’t just amass followers – they also inspire and develop others into leaders themselves. To make it plain, leaders are about the people.

By: Lex R. Brown II

5 Key Business Predictions for 2014

1. Access to Capital

A confluence of trends will contribute to making financing more available to promising private companies:

  • Small and regional bank capital requirements will be loosened to push cash out of the banks. Big banks, on the other hand, will continue to be subject to greater regulation and scrutiny as to their business lending practices.
  • Interest rates will remain low through the 2014 elections but will rise shortly after as the economy continues to recover and unemployment drops to 6 percent.
  • Crowdfunding (for example, Kickstarter.com) will go from fad to trend for funding private company ventures and product development. Concerns about potential fraud and governance mechanisms for crowdfunded companies will remain, but the model will move forward.

2. Emerging Technology

Innovation will accelerate, producing fast-growing upstarts that overturn industry landscapes, creating new winners and losers:

  • The cloud is already “technology past.” Private clouds will enable private companies to achieve greater scale and reach, with fewer employees. Managed IT services will remain a fertile area for entrepreneurs to develop ever more targeted packages of services to specialized niches.
  • Don’t let an innovator out-mobilize you. Customers, not business, will lead the next phase of the transformation in technology, with mobile apps at the forefront. B2B and B2C mobile pioneers are finding inventive ways to take advantage of how much time everyone spends looking at that phone in their hand.
  • “Globalizing from Day One” — Private companies will continue to go global at an earlier stage, by adopting Software as a Service (SaaS) technology and ramping up global partnerships faster than ever before.
  • Social media and enterprise technology will merge, enabling design collaboration and cross-organization thinking to create better products and services through worldwide networks of designers and programmers.
  • Online customer relationship management (CRM) and customer care will allow savvy companies to “re-personalize” their customers’ experience.

3. New Business Models

New and better ways for companies to create, deliver, and capture value to their target segments will continue to proliferate:

  • “Onshoring” will become a reality. With the rising demand for U.S.-made products over foreign-produced products, and labor rates and total costs for goods manufactured in China expected to equal U.S. labor rates within 2 years, companies such as Foxconn, a foreign manufacturer of technology products, will look to move manufacturing to the U.S.
  • Microfranchising will boom in 2014. A new concept, carried over from less developed countries, microfranchising is a business model that applies elements and concepts of traditional franchising to small businesses. People with a passion to be entrepreneurs but only very limited capital to invest will have a new option to pursue the American Dream.
  • Smart companies will be open to reconfiguring their activities, replacing their full-time salesforce with contract resources and “virtual sales models.”

4. New Opportunities—and Threats

Staying ahead of the competition will require ever more relentless focus on what differentiates you and creates value for your target segments:

  • Generational reversal (high unemployment among the young, lower for older workers) will be a growing trend.
  • Demand for branded consumer goods by an expanding middle class in developing-market countries will surge, particularly in China and India, countries that until now have been exporters and not consumers of their own products.
  • Growing demand and shrinking supply of housing will increase homeowner’s household wealth and consumer confidence, propelling the economy to new heights.

5. Lower Energy Costs

A new world of American energy exploration and production is creating widespread opportunity, lowering business costs:

  • Continuing concern about global warming will boost renewable energy and other low-carbon technologies.
  • Abundance of U.S. natural gas and significant cost advantage over oil will turn the U.S. into an exporter of oil, resulting in continued low energy costs for industry.

Time will tell as to which predictions will come true for 2014. The key is to harness powerful trends in ways that support your value proposition and market penetration. Thinking globally can keep you a step ahead of the competition

For Full Article by Michael Evans, click on the link below:

http://experts.allbusiness.com/5-key-business-predictions-for-2014/12662/

USGBC 2014 congressional wrap-up and look ahead

Published on 20 Dec 2013Written by Bryan HowardPosted in Advocacy and policy
photo credit: rc6750 via Flickr Creative Commons

photo credit: rc6750 via Flickr Creative Commons

With only a few short weeks before the New Year, the House and Senate completed a series of important legislative milestones including the bipartisan budget deal. With this budget deal in place, the House and Senate Appropriations Committee will begin to formally negotiate over the holiday recess by dividing up some $498.1 billion in domestic discretionary spending. They will have until January 15th to negotiate a spending package to replace the expiring continuing resolution to fund the government for rest of the fiscal year. More details will become available in early January so stay tuned for developments.

Congress has also cleared the re-authorization of programs at the Department of Defense, which authorizes $632.8 billion for the Pentagon and defense-related programs for FY 2014.This year’s authorization no longer contains limitations regarding the Department of Defense’s use of green building codes and rating systems, including LEED. For more information on these provisions and others the summary of the defense bills are included here.

While some legislative items are complete there are many unresolved ones. Top of line for USGBC and many others in the real estate community includes the lack of action to extend a number ofenergy tax provisions. A number of key tax items, including the Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction 179(D) and the New and Efficient Homes Credit 45(L), are set to expire at the end of the calendar year. 

USGBC has been working with allies to urge Congress to extend these critical incentives. While we are encouraged by the number of Senators and Representatives urging that the tax writing committees take action on building energy incentives and others important energy measures, it seems clear that debate on these items will need to be undertaken beginning in 2014. 

Beyond working on funding and finance issues, Congress still has a number of items to resolve next year including action on bipartisan energy efficiency legislation.

Here is hoping that 2014 is productive one for Congress!

http://www.usgbc.org/articles/usgbc-2014-congressional-wrap-and-look-ahead

3 Easy Ways to Make Better Decisions

(by Adam Vaccaro)

Pushing decision-making down the corporate ladder to employees can be a hallmark of good management. But consider this finding from a recent study: 53 percent of people would prefer to flip a coin and “randomize” a decision than to make one themselves.

The paper, “Flipping a Coin: Theory and Evidence,” by three German academics, also reports that 28 percent of the study’s subjects were liable to change their mind about a preferred outcome if asked twice. The responsibility that comes with making a choice, the authors say, can just be too much.

To the authors, this indicated the power of regret in the apparently common problem of responsibility aversion. They write:

Our proposed explanation for the choice of randomization is fear of regret from taking the wrong decision. The decision-maker feels less regret if [a] bad choice is due to a random outcome.

If indecisiveness is a problem at your company, you can use these three strategies to help get better at pulling the trigger.

1. Get rid of fear.

Easier said than done? Maybe. To actually make it happen, check out consultant Doug Sundheim’s advice on the HBR Blog Network for eliminating fear of failure from any organization:

  • Define smart failure
  • Reward smart failures
  • Make your approach to risk-taking transparent

2. Realize that life ain’t fair.

The study’s authors cite previous studies in suggesting that that some people prefer to have their choices made for them because they fear their decision will be seen as unfair. They’re right. A good decision maker uses his or her best judgment and takes in supporting insight and data, but it’s their decision and therefore inherently unfair. Recognizing this reality is an important step toward empowering people to make decisions.

3. Force the issue.

This advice comes from behavioral economist Dan Ariely. When battling indecisiveness, he says, deadlines can only help. Using the example of a group of friends wondering what to do on a given night, Ariely says:

To overcome this problem, I would set up a rule that limits the amount of time that you are allowed to spend searching for a solution, and I would set up a default in case you fail to come up with a better option. For example, take a common good activity (going to drink at X, playing basketball at Y) and announce to your friends that, unless someone else comes up with a better alternative, in 10 minutes you are all heading out to X (or Y).

To be sure, Ariely’s example features a decision of little consequence. It’s probably safe to say experiments like this are probably left better off alone when it comes to choices that could have a significant effect on the future of your company.

 

Posted From: http://www.inc.com/adam-vaccaro/how-to-make-better-decisions.html?cid=homesub1

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