Are You a Leader or a Follower? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

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The world is full of different personalities, each as intricate and detailed as the next. In business, our character traits often define what role we have within a hierarchy. Confident, forward-thinking individuals are drawn to creative, management-type positions, while those who value tradition and direction often find themselves as employees. The role of leader and follower are equally important, for one could not survive without the other. Below you will find five questions that will help you think about which role you naturally gravitate towards.

1. Do you Cave Under Peer Pressure?

Every day it seems like there is some new crazy fad taking over. From diets to fashion trends and drinking games to cosmetic surgery, peer pressure is a driving force in many social phenomena. The business world is no stranger. Whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur or the CEO of a multi-million dollar company, there will always be those who think they know best. A successful leader knows how to take advice on board, but not let it overwhelm or sway them.

2. How do Feel with Attention?

The limelight is certainly no stranger to Ron Bakir, an Australian businessman who started a mobile phone empire and appeared in the television advertisements himself. Could you do this? Though this is an extreme example, the reality is that a leader must be comfortable with speaking publicly and being vulnerable to criticism. Ron Bakir has certainly experienced his fair share of disparagement but has managed to turn his troubles into a success story.

3. Can you Listen Well?

When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen. These were the wise words from renowned author Ernest Hemingway. When we listen to people, not only do we learn new information, but we see different perspectives, allowing us to make informed and effective decisions. Being a leader does not involve talking over the top others or asserting authority at all times. Instead, respecting and listening to others will take you a long way.

4. Do you Think and Travel Outside the Box?

It’s no coincidence that some of the planet’s most successful business people are creative, innovative thinkers. Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Walt Disney all saw past their challenges and restrictions, managing to forge their own unique paths to success. An effective leader has the ability to attract and maintain followers through their clear, pioneering vision. Do you feel content to follow tradition or do you want to set trends?

5. Are you Confident in your Abilities?

Afraid of being perceived as arrogant, wanting to be friends with everyone and an inability to see ourselves as skilled individuals; these are just some of the reasons why many of us shy away from the concept of self-promotion. Self-belief, however, is a powerful asset that when used positively, can propel you to great heights and inspire others at the same time.

How did you go? What did you conclude? Are you a natural leader or follower? Share your results and thoughts by commenting below.

The 5 Different Faces of Entrepreneurs

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Creating a sustainable, profitable business as an entrepreneur is an extremely challenging feat. Some individuals, however, manage to go all the way to the top and are now some of the world’s wealthiest people. While all entrepreneurs share basic characteristics such as hard-working, innovative and persistent, more often than not they will be labelled or pigeonholed in a certain way. Below you will find just five of the different ways entrepreneurs are perceived.

1. The Visionary

This is probably the entrepreneur that you are used to hearing and reading about. They are often larger than life, a beacon to others who only dream of making it. They are the face of their companies and are very gifted at clearly articulating and conveying their goals, thereby getting their entire team of employees and customers on board. Think of Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg.

2. The Troublemaker

While the word troublemaker is rather harsh, certain individuals in the business world have certainly garnered a reputation for being demanding and lacking people skills. Steve Jobs is a prime example of this; many colourful words have been used to describe his personality and there are plenty of stories regarding his unconventional management style.

3. The Optimist

These are the figures that take defeat in their stride and refuse to give up. They are always looking to the future and trying to decide what business venture they should try next. Australian businessman Ron Bakir experienced personal and legal trouble that left him without much of his fortune. A few years later he managed to reinvent himself and is now the CEO of a very successful property development company.

4. The Mentor

This type of entrepreneur is regarded as being gentle, nurturing and positive. They will often be seen engaging in motivational or charitable activities. Tony Robbins has built an entire empire on the motivational speaking and mentoring movement but don’t forget that he is also a savvy businessman who found his niche in the marketplace and played to his strengths.

5. The Philanthropist

At some point in a successful entrepreneur’s career, they start to think less about profits and more about giving back to the world. Bill Gates and his wife Melinda are some of the world’s most famous humanitarians, donating large amounts of money through their foundation. Another well-known philanthropist is of course Oprah Winfrey, who has worked tirelessly to improve the quality of education for women and children through her foundation.

In reality, entrepreneurs are three dimensional people with virtues and faults. In fact, most individuals in the business world will be a visionary, dictator, optimist, mentor and philanthropist rolled into one. Media coverage and PR spin are often the reasons why we receive a particular view or opinion of someone.

Which figure do you identify most with? Was it Ron Bakir’s story of triumph against the odds that struck a chord? Or is it Richard Branson’s brand of innovative fun that appeals to you? Whatever your opinion, let us know by commenting in the box below.

Hire an MBA by the hour

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Tired of getting gouged by consulting firms? BusinessWeek recently profiled a new site called Skillbridge where you can engage consultants by the hour or on a flat fee basis for prices that are much more reasonable than firms like Bain or McKinsey. Or, you can rent out a qualified candidate as opposed to hiring a new employee.

A growing number of companies are using freelance MBAs to access the same brain power they might find at a top-tier consulting firm. The demand has given rise to online marketplaces that are a cross between executive search agencies and freelance job sites—where the featured contractors are skilled at financial modeling, competitive analysis, and marketing.

The site claims that every consultant is screened and has a minimum of two years’ experience. For small companies and startups, this looks like a nice option to have.

It also offers a nice career option for consultants who are sick of the long hours and endless travel.

Writing advice from Tim Ferriss and Neil Strauss

Here’s a great video with Tim Ferriss interviewing Neil Strauss about writing and being an author. Both have been very successful writers and they offer up some great tips. Some highlights include:

- Tim noted that he created a daily quota of two pages to write when writing his books. Neil laughed about that but then acknowledged that having an easy daily quota made it much easier and less intimidating to getting started each day. This strikes me as excellent advice.

- Neil explained that deadlines really do help, which seems obvious but is still worth noting.

- Writing clarifies your thinking, so both explained how your conclusion or thesis may not be fully developed when you get started. The writing process is important for clarifying your thinking.

- Using the TK device while working on your draft.

Check it out.

Women opting back into the job market

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More women are re-entering the workforce after years of staying home with their kids. The New York Times takes a close look at this trend in the context of what was once called the “Opt-Out Revolution” in the last decade, when many educated career women decided to leave their careers to stay home with their kids.

Eight Ways How Technology Has Changed The World Of Conferences

Eight Ways Technology Has Changed World of Conferences

Technology has changed the world of conferences quite a bit over the last few decades. It wasn’t that long ago that there was little to no digital technology at a typical conference. Now, they are completely consumed by all of the digital wonders. There are many ways to utilize technology to have a strong presence at a conference or trade show. Here are eight ways that technology has completely transformed the world of conferences.

1. Credit Card Payments

For those selling thing at conferences, it used to be a bit of a gamble. Salespeople had to hope that the check or credit card someone was giving them was good. Now, they can instantly swipe a credit card on a mobile reader on their cellphones, receiving their payments instantly.

2. HDTV Displays

Booths have come a long way from the days of simple banners. Now, entire presentations can be constantly broadcast on a display at the booth. This makes it much easier for presenters to get out the information they need to attendees. HDTVs can be placed up high on a booth wall to ensure maximum exposure to the crowds, allowing attendees to see information about a booth from a long distance away.

3. Social Media

It has become so much easier to get in touch with someone that you meet at a conference. In the past, you had to take their business card, and then you would have to try to get in touch with them on the phone or send an email. Now, you can instantly connect via twitter, or facebook and have a way to easily get in touch again.

4. Mobile Event Apps

This is one of the coolest new developments at conferences. Attendees can download a mobile event app that will provide them with everything they possibly need to know about the conference or trade show they are attending.

5. Smartphones & Tablets

There are so many great ways that mobile platforms can help at conferences. People can use them to instantly input contact information of people they have met, take notes, photos, and so much more. They can use them to take video of interesting displays. They can use them to get in touch with their home office or coworkers who are at the event. Many people blog during the event to keep their followers up to speed on what they are learning. The possibilities are endless.

6. Touchscreens

It is possible to set up a touchscreen interactive display that allows interested attendees to quickly find all the information they want. This allows the person manning the booth to really engage with the conference attendees.

7. LED Lighting

LED lighting allows booths at conferences to be lit up in spectacular ways that were never before possible. They can be used to spell out messages. They can also change colors and can move around in interesting patterns.

8. Interactive Exhibits

The typical exhibit of just a few decades ago was a poster board with some information, a few banners and an employee to man the booth. Now, booths are outfitted with computers that people can use to look up information about the product. They are outfitted with HDTVs that constantly broadcast new information about the product. They have been transformed from a boring experience in which attendees were just viewers into interactive experiences that capture the imagination and interest of attendees. This is a great change that makes conferences much more effective.

Simply wash away your Facebook history, photos and posts

One of the downsides of social media sites like Facebook involves broadcasting everything to everyone. Basically, anyone can’t find photos of you drinking like a fool if you or someone else posts the photos.

Many have learned the hard way that your social media footprints can come back to haunt you, particularly when you’re out looking for a job.

Fortunately, there’s a new app called Simplywa.sh that will help you clear up all that nonsense. Check it out, and you can quickly remove things that prospective employers might find. This won’t guarantee success, as even deleted photos can be found through various search techniques, but at the very least you should be able to reduce the chances of having these things get discovered.

Good luck!

Cutthroat professional life in Washington, D.C.

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Netflix scored big this year with its new, original TV drama “House of Cards,” depicting life in Washington D.C. Needless to say, the cutthroat nature of life in our nation’s capital takes center stage, as most of the characters will do anything to advance their careers and influence in the city. Yes, it’s fiction, and some of the stories are a bit far-fetched, but a recent book called “This Town” by New York Times Magazine writer Mark Leibovich portrays DC as a craven town where everyone is just focused on getting ahead. You can get some of the story in his latest article titled “How to Win in Washington.”

It’s not that Washington hasn’t forever been populated by high-reaching fireballs. But an economic and information boom in recent years has transformed the city in ways that go well beyond the standard profile of dysfunction. To say that today’s Washington is too partisan and out of touch is to miss a much more important truth — that rather than being hopelessly divided, it is hopelessly interconnected. It misses the degree to which New Media has both democratized the political conversation and accentuated Washington’s myopic, self-loving tendencies. And it misses, most of all, how an operator like Kurt Bardella can land in a culture of beautifully busy people and, by trading on all the self-interest and egomania that knows no political affiliation, rewrite the story of his own life.

So read the entire article and the book and check out the show before you venture off to DC. This way you’ll have some idea of what you’re getting into.

But keep in mind that you’ll be one of many if you venture off there. DC is booming and life there was detailed in an article last year in time called “Bubble of the Potomac.” The author explains how a new affluence is flooding DC and likes to refer to it at über-Washington, working off the name of the popular Uber limousine app that is so popular in the city. This affluence, along with the natural political power base, has helped amplify the competitive climate described above. The article describes some of the realities in the city:

- there are two government contractors for every government worker. Yes, people are getting wealthy on government contracts.

- Washington is filled with young people. That’s always been true but seems even more true today. That culture is definitely affecting the nightlife and the city in general.

- Thursday night wheels up parties at Happy Hour are huge.

- Much of this is fed by the intern culture, which starts with free internships during college, then paid internships or entry-level jobs, and then it goes from there.

For may this will seem exciting. For others not so much. It’s another example of where you need to have your eyes wide open before making a decision.

Shale gas boom’s ripple effects on job market

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If you’ve been paying attention, you’re aware that fracking has led to a domestic boom in the production of oil and gas, including places like North Dakota and Bakken shale formation. Naturally, this trend has created a number of jobs directly related to the oil and gas industry, but as populations explode in places like North Dakota with these workers, we’re naturally see a significant ripple effect as services are needed for these new workers. This goes far beyond just creating housing and other services. The economic ripple effect is great news for the American economy.

An example would be a company like Safety Oil Services, which is focused on helping “safeguard the wellbeing of employees and the natural environment within the high-growth sectors of oil and gas-related services, including drilling and fracking.” This is one of many companies that provides necessary services to this growing industry.

Also, the demand for workers goes well beyond those directly employed by the oil and gas companies and companies that service them. BusinessWeek has an interesting article on how the shale gas boom is bringing opportunities for women as well.

While men dominate North Dakota’s shale-oil industry, women in the region are starting complementary service businesses ranging from oil-well geology to occupational testing to day-care and medical clinics. “There are great opportunities for women,” says Kathy Neset, 57, president of Neset Consulting Service. “Whatever skill you have, we need it in western North Dakota.” Neset and her husband founded the geological services company in 1980 in Tioga, which is in the northwest part of the state. More than one-fifth of its 180 employees are women. Neset regularly gives presentations at elementary and middle schools in the upper Midwest, encouraging girls to pursue careers as geologists, where salaries range from $80,000 to $140,000 a year.

Naturally, this is having an impact on wages as well. Read the entire article for a great snapshot on how these job opportunities are expanding for everyone.

If you’re in a rut on your job search and you’re open to relocation, start researching the areas of the country that are booming due to the fracking boom. You don’t have to be an oil engineer or rig worker to find work!

Construction jobs going unfilled

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The numbers for new home construction have been steadily getting better, and that has been having positive effects on the job market. But this article explains how many construction jobs are going unfilled as contractors are having a tough time finding qualified workers, particularly in markets that got hit hard in the housing crisis.

This presents excellent opportunities for unemployed workers will to do this type of work. You have to be a self-starter and be willing to learn new skills like dry wall installation, but the jobs are out there.

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