Advent Of A Sustainable Economy


There is a symbolic movement of our times that is promising a new lifestyle. A lifestyle that is not only transforming the vision of the future but changing the way we do business and invest. It is a possibility where the energy is produced and consumed sustainably, the environment is clean, and all of nature is in its healthy state. I know this could sound very idealistic when we are constantly bombarded by bad news. But if we look deeper the sustainable revolution has inspired and compelled governments and corporations to make goods and services such as clean power, extend green tax credits and encourage local recycling mandates that affect our day to day lives. This trend has also resulted in a new race to create better and more efficient cars and buildings which consume less energy and resources. New and advanced methods of growing food, and developing medications with organic ingredients are influencing nutrition and health care sectors as well. More humane procedures, like using fewer chemicals and minimizing animal testing’s has been advocated by consumers and activists alike. Even Local counties and schools are encouraging their constituents to recycle and conserve, this has resulted in many of us reusing shopping bags, using public transportation paying a premium for locally grown organic food and driving a fuel-efficient car.

But then we must also pay attention as to who are joining the movement to “LOOK” good and who are actually participating to” DO” good. Green washing is another technique where many may use to fit and conform into the new trend. Following the investments and the money chasing green projects is one way to keep abreast with what’s happening in the world of sustainability. As an entrepreneur or consumer pputting your money where your heart is another way to ensure the brightest idea will not get anywhere with the wrong funders. Don’t get intimidated by traditional start-ups and their glamorous image. You are not in the business of looking good, you’re in the business of doing good! And this is particularly what makes you stand out from the crowd. Invest in your purpose, put your heart and mind to nurture that big idea. Slowly, but surely, you can get the ball rolling further than you would have ever imagined.

Many VC monies may come with lots of strings attached and loss of creative liberty to steer businesses in the right direction hence not getting get stuck on the idea of VCs and cash in the bank but with key partnerships and  resources instead could be essential. People, skills, relationships that bring the right mix together to co-create things which at the end of the day may increase capacity to help move businesses further that otherwise would have been paid for. The right partners will embark on a journey with you because they believe in what you do and will give time, skills, networks and passion. That may be worth a whole lot than just cash!. If we must need to go the traditional route and go for the big money – VCs, grants etc – being picky about who we are pitching to may be critical. Research the VC’s or foundation’s history of giving, their pre-existing conditions and their relationship with their beneficiaries. Before pitching, try to meet with them informally and see if you click on the same things. Do you trust that person after you have left the meeting? Would they be an enjoyable teammate? Do you want to share more with them and value their advice, beyond just the business side of things? If your answer is yes, then go for it. Investments will come pouring.

In short align your values and stay true to yourself, your mission and your vision.  Never compromise and never lose sight of the purpose of your business, organizations or projects. Be authentic in everything you do!  Authenticity reinforces your purpose. Funding will only make it flourish. But if the Mission of sustainability is not there then there is nothing that can flourish.

Curated By Naved Jafry & Garson Silvers

Rooting For Soft Skills

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Focusing too much on technical know how can lead companies to hire the wrong people. Job postings are too often dominated by a checklist of requirements. Interviews are filled with technical challenges and design dog and pony shows to gauge a candidate’s chops. But how do we gauge a candidate’s willingness to collaborate, or their acceptance of critical feedback? What about their resilience when faced with adversity, and how their personality aligns with team and company values? Without a sense for these kinds of traits, it’s hard to know whether someone will succeed in their new position. Hiring is hard. It requires time, patience, and sensitivity to subtle signals that help determine whether someone is a fit for the position. We have spent years searching for the right candidate for some positions, because for us right person is more important than right skills as missing technical skills can be remedied with coaching, but shortcomings in soft skills are so much more difficult to correct.
People have personalities and perspectives that influence their performance and the way they communicate on teams. These things are squishy and hard to size up, but ignore them at your peril. In my experience, the primary reasons for letting an employee go rarely have to do with a lack of technical prowess. It’s almost always a shortcoming in soft skills. Hence when interviewing product team candidates, we get to know the person before discussing technical stuff. I want to know what they’re passionate about and how they see the world. It can sound like casual chatter, but it provides the clues needed to evaluate soft skills.
Here’s our recommendations when interviewing candidates or groups:
Individuals with exotic perspectives
We don’t want to hire a bunch of employees who are just like us. I’m not looking for people to hang out with on the weekend. I’m looking for people who bring new perspectives to our company. This is why we avoid the term “culture fit,” instead talking a lot about building teams with a variety of voices and perspectives. Backgrounds, interests, reading habits, and conversation topics all say something about how open-minded and curious a person is. When everyone brings a different perspective to the team, innovation happens.
Adaptability and Resilience
If a candidate openly shares their life and work experiences, listen hard. I love hearing about key moments that shaped people into who they are today. Stories of overcoming adversity, not fitting in, moving to a new country these details give clues about how someone deals with challenges. Adaptation skills show that when the candidate encounters a tough problem, team change, or new project, they’re going to feel confident they can overcome it. These folks don’t give up easily. Individuals who focus on long term goals and following through on commitment have known to overcome adversity over a long period of time because they can see a rewarding end result.

Unique interests
Asking candidates about their interests and hobbies outside of work can be extremely helpful. we love it when employees have side projects or part-time creative businesses. I like to ask candidates when their passion for a discipline ignited. Finding a love for a subject can change you. It builds confidence and creates intrinsic motivation to learn.
The subject doesn’t have to relate to our company. I look for people who are a little different. I love it when a candidate surprises me or says something unexpected. Misfits and oddballs tend to do well . This kind of person spends a lot of time on their own growing up, so they tend to be independent. And they’re usually comfortable finding their own path, which can make them easier to manage.
Being a little weird can leave you with something to prove. The feeling of “I’ll show them!” can be the fuel that pushes an already passionate person to succeed. There’s nothing like getting a taste of success built on hard work and a love for what you’re doing. That’s just the sort of person we want to work with us!
Social aptitude and energy
Social time with a candidate gives you and your team a chance to ditch the high-pressure interview process and get to know each other. Personalities come out if you make the space. Later in the interview process, we invite candidates to lunch or to spend an entire day with us. After spending time with them, are they still excited to be there? Do they seem to gel with your team? Can they hold a conversation, or is there a lot of awkward silence? Any uncomfortable situations you experience may be amplified if the candidate joins the team, so pay close attention.
I always look for the right energy fit too. I once interviewed a candidate and knew from his crushing handshake and deafening greeting that he would be too overbearing for my team. As the interview proceeded, my hunch was borne out. Gut feelings can tell us a lot if we’re willing to listen.
Humility
Humility is a core value. Humble people tend to be quick learners because they’re willing to listen to and learn from others. They don’t crave credit, so they’re natural collaborators. They treat others fairly and with kindness. Humble people make great teammates. A candidate’s humility, or lack of it, comes through in a longer interview process. When they checked in, how did they treat the people at the front desk? Did they ask a lot of questions? Did they take the time to learn about the company, you, and your team before the interview? Humility is not a trait that’s easily turned into interview questions, but if you tune into subtle behavior cues, you’ll quickly get an accurate reading.

Overall It can be time consuming to evaluate soft skills, but trust me, it’s worth it. Hiring too fast fills your company with people you don’t want to work with, who will derail your progress and demoralize your best performers. Fast hiring often leads to slow, painful firings.

If you lead a product team, there’s nothing more important than hiring. So put in the time. Get to know each candidate well. Choose people who bring new perspectives to your team, and people who will be happy in your company for years to come. Each new hire has the potential to make a big impact on your business, so treat them like a person, not a checklist of skills. If all goes well, you’ll be spending a lot of time with them.

Opinion By Naved Jafry & Premod Varghese

NURTURING INTRAPRENEURS

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Ninety-three percent of adults think they possess at least some entrepreneurial qualities, according to a new study from University of Phoenix, analyzing responses from 1,000 working U.S. adults surveyed this summer. Additionally, more than half say their organization allows them to think like an entrepreneur.Employees who think like entrepreneurs, or “intrapreneurs,” are more motivated, take ownership of their work, and possess excellent creative problem-solving abilities.
Here are a few ways to foster an intrapreneurial mind-set among employees:
Empower employees.
Employee empowerment was found to have a direct effect on job performance, and an indirect effect on satisfaction and innovativeness, in a study published in the Public Administration Review in April 2013. Drive innovative thought by empowering employees to make decisions, take charge of projects, and solve problems. Give them the resources and training they need, then set them free, letting them know the team believes in their capabilities.
Prioritize employee relationships.
After surveying 200,000 employees at more than 500 organizations last year, TINYpulse found peers and camaraderie were the top motivator for employees who go the extra mile at work. Sometimes the best ideas spark when least expected, such as during a good conversation or enjoyable interaction. Even when the team is running low on ideas, having positive working relationships with one another will be the fuel they need to persist. Help the team cultivate these strong relationships. Hence scheduling after-work activities in which employees can participate and get to know one another better. Exercise together, share meals, and play games to enhance team bonding.
Encourage employees to step outside the scope of their work.
The University of Phoenix study found a key issue blocking innovation: 47 percent of employees said they’re not encouraged to step outside their scope of work. When employees spend their time doing the same tasks day after day, they become stuck in routine thought. Encourage involvement in projects outside day-to-day tasks. In fact, 24 percent of employees surveyed said this would help boost creative thought. Allow them to job shadow someone in another department, or help a team member with something new.
Host productive brainstorming sessions.
A quarter of workers in the University of Phoenix survey suggested having brainstorming sessions to address organizational challenges and sharing the company vision and goals with all employees to encourage creative thinking.Meet with employees regularly to brainstorm new ideas and ensure strategies are aligned with organizational goals. Use an app like amazemeet to design compelling meetings with a clear purpose.
Emphasize individuality over conventionality.
Environment has big impact on innovative thought. In fact, a 2013 University of Minnesota study shows physical order produces conventional thought. Participants in the study made healthier and more generous choices when in a clean room than when they were in a disorderly room. But, the disorderly room encouraged breaking convention and tradition — a key component in innovative thinking. Not everyone is inspired by the same environment, so not all work spaces should look the same. They should cater to the individual. Allow employees to express their individuality by decorating their workspace in a way that inspires them.
Allow ideas time to incubate.
Creative thinking develops in an incubation process, during which unconscious thought takes over, according to a study published in the Frontiers of Human Neuroscience in April 2014. That’s why concentrating so hard on solving a problem rarely produces an answer.But, when employees are allowed to let go and come back to a problem, they have time to let the idea incubate and produce the needed solution.Sometimes, the most innovative ideas take time. Allow employees to step away and take focus off complicated challenges and issues when they hit a roadblock. Then, unexpectedly, the right answer may come to them.

Opinion By Naved jafry & Premod Varghese

WHEN SPEAKING WITH ELOQUENCE MATTERS

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I have been guilty of speaking badly but recently a close friend has challenged me to speak with eloquence or risk losing his friendship. This was a wake up call and made me wonder what else was I loosing in the process of speaking badly. At first I sighted all reasons which validated my behaviour but when all was taken into consideration the costs were way more than the payoffs. Hence an inquiry into what speaking eloquently really means in a generation where short cuts and speed is valued over playing nice.
speak 2Since I’ve been very fortunate to have been given various opportunities to learn beside some very successful businessmen, innovators, creative minds I have noticed that whenever you hear these people speak, you hear music. Language is sound. And if you’ve ever heard a beautiful piano sonata or a violin concerto, a bad note in the middle of a stirring melody can really ruin the mood. The same goes for someone who says “uhhh, uhmmmm” before and after every sentence. These are people who are, in some sense, afraid of there being silence in the conversation.The people who speak eloquently know the power of silence, and if forced to pause, use that silence to their advantage. Silence creates suspense, and can either be seen as “uncomfortable” or as an opportunity to make the next statement that much more poignant. There is power here, and the greatest speakers know how to use it to their advantage.Going off the above, people tend to stutter and fill silence when they are nervous, uncomfortable, don’t know what they’re talking about, etc. We all learned this in middle school. The fastest way to make your teacher believe you didn’t do the work was to stand there with your hands in your pockets saying “Uhhh….”

Whether or not you actually are nervous or if you have no idea what you’re talking about is besides the point. It’s what your audience BELIEVES that matters, and these things can be easily concealed with words like “Well; you see; now…”. Instead of saying “Uhm, I was thinking…” you say, “Well, I was thinking…” Very different sounding, yes? These little words, especially “Now” is a filler word that can help you extend silence if you need time to think. Take a moment to pause, say “Now…” pause again, and then move on with what you were going to say. That’s 2 whole seconds you get to formulate your next thoughts.The best talkers leave the jargon at home. Want to know the difference between a new salesman and a seasoned salesman? The new salesman leaves you confused, the seasoned salesman makes you feel like you are more educated than you think.
speak 3Jargon is pointless. It’s meant for people at your office, people you work with, to get more done faster. It’s not intended to be flashed around to make people feel impressed. It usually doesn’t impress them. It just makes them confused and feel left out of what the conversation really should be about, which is how to provide value, or an emotional component that is easier to relate to. Think more poetry, less endless prose.The sophisticated don’t use words like fuck, shit, ass, bitch, etc. They just don’t. I myself have a sailer’s mouth, but I also know there’s a time and place for it. The fastest way to earning the trust and respect of those around you is to speak well, and that means eliminating the “gutter” words.Somewhat in line with jargon usage, get to the point and don’t talk around it. There’s no point. Nobody wants to sit through your stream of consciousness. Say what you mean to say in the least amount of words, and then when you get to the meat of what you’re saying, describe it in such detail that the person you’re talking to can envision it with perfect clarity.Details are everything. They’re what our senses and are ultimately what draw us in. It’s the reason why some people are terrific storytellers and others put you to sleep. This is not to be confused with saying “a lot.” It’s not about length. It’s about saying what you mean to say, and saying it well.
Overall breaking old bad habits may be challenging but scientifically when a new habit is introduced consistently and systematically it does become part of our second nature. Until then ill keep you updated on how that goes and hopefully see you all on the flip side where in the long run our sophistication and eloquence pays off big time.

When Hobbies Shape Our Professional Lives

hobbies 2We are sometime defined with what we do. “Hobbies” or your few extracurricular interests can really highlight admirable job skills to headhunters for government and businesses alike.
For example Rock Climbing shows: Decisiveness, problem solving, and interpersonal skills.Adrenaline-pumping activities like rock climbing and whitewater rafting say a lot about our personalities and look especially good for candidates pursuing jobs that involve heavy decision making and leadership skills. If you’re trying to show that you can make quick decisions under heavy pressure, “support those claims with evidence,” says Jane Roqueplot, a career coach and resume consultant in western Pennsylvania.
Launching a Club shows: Initiative, management skills, and passion. You can skip listing most club memberships, say career experts. But if you actually founded a local juggling (or running, hiking, ukulele playing, etc.) club, be sure to include it — because it shows impressive  initiative and management skills.

hobbies“I once spoke to a recruiter for an elite company [who] said she looks for any pursuit in achieving a level of excellence,” says Lindsey Pollak, millennial workplace expert and author of Becoming the Boss. Of course, starting a club just because you think it will look good on your resume isn’t enough. “People will see right through that,” said Pollak. “You have to have a passion for it, and pursue it at a high level — that’s the trick.”
Hosting Online Discussions shows: Leadership, reliability, and a strong understanding of social media. Leading regular Twitter chats (or other online discussion groups) combines several talents that recruiters are on the lookout for: organizational, networking, and technical skills, as well as the ability to develop and maintain a social media following.Pollak cites one woman who works in corporate social responsibility. “She took the initiative once a week, at a certain time, to host an online chat” on CSR-related topics, Pollak says. “She’s bringing people together who are interested in the topic and becoming known as an online moderator … It shows genuine passion and leadership and excellence; those are skills that hiring managers love.”
Volunteering Your Talents related to your profession and pplying your career skills for the greater good can say a lot. Examples would be like managing financials or financial records for a charitable organization, overseeing an event, production or program, or establishing or directing a fundraiser. This type of volunteer work can help demonstrate your skills, experience, or expertise, as well as your commitment to community. What volunteering shows that Practical skills, generosity, and confidence is part of your second nature.

hobbies 3Opinion by Naved Jafry & Premod Varghese

Building An Enterprise That Stands The Test of Time

old business 3Seeing it first hand, I have been privileged to be born in a family business that has endured wars and economic turmoil since 1885. Venture capitalist Dave Whorton and Red Herring co-founder Chris Alden use the term evergreen to describe the increasing number of private, profitable, market-leading businesses that are designed to remain unsold and independent for a long, long time. In a manifesto released at the launch of the Tugboat Institute, following are Whorton’s and Alden’s observations they consider that enable enterprises that last for generations.
old business1. Purpose
Being passionately driven by a compelling vision and mission.
2. Perseverance
Having the ambition and the resilience to overcome obstacles and keep pursuing the mission indefinitely into the future. (Integrated Project Management is a case in point.)
3. People First
Engaging a work force of talented associates who excel as a team and are motivated by the mission and the culture, as well as compensation, in the belief that, by taking care of them, they will take care of the business, customers, suppliers, and community.
4. Private
Taking advantage of the ability of closely held private companies to have a longer-term view and more operating flexibility than public or exit-oriented businesses.
5. Profit
Measuring success by the number that provides the most accurate gauge of customer value delivered.
6. Paced Growth
Having the discipline to focus on long-term strategy and grow steadily and consistently each year. (A good example: Jack Stack’s manufacturing company, SRC Holdings, in Springfield, Missouri, which has aimed for and achieved 10 to 15 percent growth per year for more than 30 years.)
7. Pragmatic Innovation
Embracing a continuous-improvement process built around taking calculated risks to innovate creatively within the constraints of the business.
Overall I think that many times it is not the strongest or the fastest that survive but the most adaptable that stand the test of time.

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Opinion piece by Naved Jafry & Garson Silvers

Criteria’s For An Exceptional Leader

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There are no good or bad organizations but it is poor or exceptional leadership which makes or break them. How is it that societies so often choose poor leaders, even though strong leadership is crucial to good performance? Often the only criteria is that someone be a high producing individual to get promoted, when management roles require a totally different set of skills than just high performance. The issue is that we focus on the wrong things when we look for “leaders.” That fact is that an impressive resume or list of academic achievements isn’t necessarily an indicator of leadership potential. But is there a better way to consider who the next leader in your organisation is?
In a new role, the candidate will have to face new obstacles, deal with a new team, manage more staff, introduce new products and do it all without a clear road map. Because of this, any leadership appointment is somewhat speculative – but there is a way to bet smart when you’re making a captain’s call. Considering a few critical factors when choosing a new leader can make all the difference in your new management structure.
So what qualities should we focus on before handing out the next endorsement to an amazing torch bearer?

leadership 31. Integrity
It all begins with integrity. Integrity is the core underpinning for leadership effectiveness. It is a blend of honesty, consistency and ethics. If a leader’s integrity is thrown into doubt, it is very hard for a leader to regain the trust of his or her staff.
2. Intelligence
While empathy is externally focused, intelligence is internally focused. An emotionally intelligent leader habitually takes a hard, honest look at themselves and accurately discerns their strengths, weaknesses and blind spots. Putting personal pride aside, they actively solicit the input of others and incorporate the team’s best ideas into the overall action plan. Without emotional intelligence, hubris sets in, and a leader will overestimate his own ability and alienate others. When a leader begins to let their team down, they may lose the loyalty they’ve worked so hard to earn. A huge mistake organisations make is failing to account for emotional intelligence – from my perspective, I’ve seen it derail more managers than anything else on this list.
3. Energy
Integrity alone won’t win the commitment and trust of your employees. Passion enables a leader to keep moving forward, even in tough times, and inspires the people around them to work harder towards their goals.
4. Courage
Courage is necessary to make the difficult decisions when facing conflicts and mediating adversity. Courage springs from a leader’s core values and commitment to a vision.

leader5. Judgment
Actually achieving this vision, however, requires judgment. Good judgment allows the leader to make solid business decisions and choices. When confronting a difficult new challenge they must quickly zero in on the most important issues. They must be able to prioritise and make difficult trade-offs, keeping in mind the possible inadvertent consequences of their decisions.
6. Empathy
No matter the company or organisation, the diversity of staff will always be constant. Each team member has a different personality, motivation and underlying agenda. Empathy is the attribute that allows a leader to effectively understand what makes other people tick, and to best position them to achieve their own goals and those of their organisation. Empathy also gives a leader the upper hand when dealing with clients and customers – getting to the core of any dissatisfaction quickly, and addressing it, is an important aspect of any leadership role.
7. Foresight
Without a compelling vision or destination, how can a leader effectively persuade people to embark upon a new direction? Visionary leaders inspire employees to imagine a better future and work hard to achieve it.
leader 1Overall we believe that the hallmarks of great leaders, regardless of industry or geography is gearing any candidate assessment towards these traits, and away from false predictors of success. This in itself could be one big step ahead of the rest of the crowd who are still scratching their heads wondering why they are so bad at picking good leaders.

This Leadership piece is contributed by Agnelorajesh Athaide, K.Kadam, Premod Varghese and Naved Jafry