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SXSW has been cancelled – here’s how it went down

(NEWS) SXSW has been one of the most contentious events the nation has pushed to shut down for fear of creating a COVID-19 petrie dish, and it’s now cancelled.

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During a press event this afternoon, Mayor Steve Adler stood alongside public health officials and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt to address festivals and events this spring, now that COVID-19 has been confirmed in Texas, and 14 people in the U.S. have already died.

Adler and his team issued an order to protect the public, effectively cancelling the SXSW event, after appearing to have initially dug in their heels and refusing to do so and standing by the gigantic event.

SXSW is a massive economic boom for the city, bringing in $356 million last year from over 400,000 attendees flying in from all over the world.

We reported earlier this week on the popular petition to shut the massive conference down, and supported the notion that the risk to the public of bringing in hundreds of thousands of unscreened people into the city was a mistake.

Cancelling SXSW didn’t seem to be an option until Twitter nixed travel for all employees meant they were pulling out their attendance, panel speakers, and sponsorship.

It was the first domino to fall.

The next dominoes were Apple, Amazon, Intel, Facebook, Mashable, Warner Media, all of whom pulled employees and sponsorship from the mega conference.

No word yet on whether SXSW’s insurance will cover the losses or not, but there has likely been tense conversations in the background regarding who would shut the lights off – SXSW themselves or the City.

No matter what my personal speculations are, the event is off for March of 2020.

I’ve said repeatedly that it is an impossible situation, a gut-wrenching one for SX, and one that has surely kept many people up at night trying to figure out. Businesses in Austin are going to be hurt, and the startup ecosystem hit hard.

We too have had sleepless nights, and we have cancelled events, as the risk is simply too high, especially for the medically vulnerable, pregnant, older, or immunocompromised people in our lives.

Update: In SXSW’s response to Austin’s announcement, they note they are considering a virtual event or hosting at a later time, but there is no word yet on ticket refunds.

At this point, we typically stand up as a society and say “good job, Austin,” or “good job, SXSW,” but there is no praise to give here, as the decision was only made after massive pressure from all directions and all of the money pulling out making it clear that this year was going to be so sparsely attended, and the sponsorship dollars so dried up that the wrapup analysis would call it a failure and a risk that wasn’t worth taking in the first place.

No pats on the back were earned this day.

Business News

How to apply to be on a Board of Directors

(BUSINESS) What do you need to think about and explore if you want to apply for a Board of Directors? Here’s a quick rundown of what, why, and when.

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What?
What does a Board of Directors do? Investopedia explains “A board of directors (B of D) is an elected group of individuals that represent shareholders. The board is a governing body that typically meets at regular intervals to set policies for corporate management and oversight. Every public company must have a board of directors. Some private and nonprofit organizations also have a board of directors.”

Why?
It is time to have a diverse representation of thoughts, values and insights from intelligently minded people that can give you the intel you need to move forward – as they don’t have quite the same vested interests as you.

We have become the nation that works like a machine. Day in and day out we are consumed by our work (and have easy access to it with our smartphones). We do volunteer and participate in extra-curricular activities, but it’s possible that many of us have never understood or considered joining a Board of Directors. There’s a new wave of Gen Xers and Millennials that have plenty of years of life and work experience + insights that this might be the time to resurrect (or invigorate) interest.

Harvard Business Review shared a great article about identifying the FIVE key areas you would want to consider growing your knowledge if you want to join a board:

1. Financial – You need to be able to speak in numbers.
2. Strategic – You want to be able to speak to how to be strategic even if you know the numbers.
3. Relational – This is where communication is key – understanding what you want to share with others and what they are sharing with you. This is very different than being on the Operational side of things.
4. Role – You must be able to be clear and add value in your time allotted – and know where you especially add value from your skills, experiences and strengths.
5. Cultural – You must contribute the feeling that Executives can come forward to seek advice even if things aren’t going well and create that culture of collaboration.

As Charlotte Valeur, a Danish-born former investment banker who has chaired three international companies and now leads the UK’s Institute of Directors, says, “We need to help new participants from under-represented groups to develop the confidence of working on boards and to come to know that” – while boardroom capital does take effort to build – “this is not rocket science.

When?
NOW! The time is now for all of us to get involved in helping to create a brighter future for organizations and businesses that we care about (including if they are our own business – you may want to create a Board of Directors).

The Harvard Business Review gave great explanations of the need to diversify those that have been on the Boards to continue to strive to better represent our population as a whole. Are you ready to take on this challenge? We need you.

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Business News

Average age of successful startup founders is 45, but stop stereotyping

(BUSINESS) Our culture glorifies (yet condemns?) startup founders as rich 20-somethings in hoodies, but some are a totally different type.

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There’s a common misconception that startups are riddled with semi-nerdy, 20-something white dudes who do nothing but sip Nitro Brews and walk around the open office showing off the hoodie they wore yesterday. It turns out that it’s extremely rare that startup offices resemble The Social Network.

However, the academic backdrop for the real social network story (AKA Harvard), produced statistics that will serve to put the aforementioned misconception to rest. According to the Harvard Business Review, the average age of people who founded the highest-growth startups is 45. Say what?! A full-fledged adult?!

In fact, aside from the age category of 60 and over, ages 29 and younger were the smallest group of founders that are responsible for heading the highest-growth startups. I guess you can accomplish a lot when you’re not riding around the office on a scooter all day.

The study also found that older entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed. The probability of extreme startup success rises with age, at least until the late 50s. It was found that work experience plays an important role.

Many will argue, “Well, what about someone like Steve Jobs?” You could easily argue right back that it took Jobs until the age of 52 to create Apple’s most profitable product – the iPhone.

The study continues to answer questions like, why do Venture Capitalist investors bet on young founders? This goes back to the misconception at the start, and there’s a notion that youth is the key for successful entrepreneurship. Wrong.

There is also the idea that younger entrepreneurs are likely working with less financial options, so it may be common for them to take something from a VC at a lower price. As a result, they could be viewed as more of a bargain than older founders.

“The next step for researchers is to explore what exactly explains the advantage of middle-aged founders,” writes Pierre Azoulay, et al. “For example, is it due to greater access to financial resources, deeper social networks, or certain forms of experience? In the meantime, it appears that advancing age is a powerful feature, not a bug, for starting the most successful firms.”

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Business News

Today’s sexual harassment issues require more modern training

(BUSINESS NEWS) It’s unfortunate that sexual harassment still exists in the modern-day, but we have easier access to resources to curb this behavior.

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What do you think about the #MeToo movement? Some people erroneously believe that #MeToo is about getting men fired or bringing down powerful men. #MeToo is more about raising awareness of the long-standing problem of sexual violence and harassment, not only in the workplace but in everyday situations.

Thanks to #MeToo, state and federal laws are changing to address the systemic problems. Keeping up with regulations around sexual harassment in the workplace doesn’t have to be an issue. EasyLLama makes it easy for your business to stay compliant with modern training for your team.

What is EasyLlama?

EasyLlama is a company based in San Francisco. It has a goal “to give companies the tools to reinforce their values, and to empower them to create a safe and comfortable work environment for everyone.” The company bills itself as the “smart way to train your team on sexual harassment.”

The training was created by HR experts that go beyond state and federal requirements to make your workplace safe from sexual misconduct and harassment. It’s been designed to speak to every generation on your team, from Baby Boomers to millennials.

It features 5 to 10-minute micro-sessions with real-life relatable videos that can be watched individually or in a team session. Tracking individual progress is easy through the platform. Employees get email/text reminders to take the next steps in their training. Training is available in both English and Spanish. It’s designed for the modern and mobile workforce. The system can also integrate with HR tools that reduces time spent on data entry and follow up.

Empower your team with resources to prevent sexual harassment

#MeToo isn’t going to go away. The movement is reframing the discussion about sexual misconduct, gender and power. EasyLlama is one tool that can help your team be more aware of behavior that puts your business at risk.

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