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Opinion Editorials

What would it look like to take the YOU out of entrepreneUr?

(OPINION EDITORIAL) The root of every good business is selflessness, so what would it look like if you take the YOU out of entreprenUr?

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Bigger than profits

Love makes the world go round, but can it really live in the cutthroat world of start ups and entrepreneurship? Can it live in the same breath as the calculating Steve Jobs, or a conniving Travis Kalanick, or even the maniacally evil Martin Shkreli? When you’re building a successful business does the shrewd selfish CEO always come out on top, or is there room for entrepreneurs without ego? Is it possible to build a selfless business, based on passion and more importantly love?

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I believe that it’s not only possible but imperative, not just for the good of the company, but for the good of the entrepreneur as well.

Selflessness freedoms

There is something so freeing about selflessness, motivations that are trapped outside of simple personal gain are easier to achieve. That’s why motivation experts teach that when you’re trying to lose weight you should think of how your goal will help the people you love (my kids will have a healthier mom, my husband will be motivated to stay fit, I will have more energy to play with my family) rather than how your goal will help you.

It’s easier to compromise when you think only of yourself.

It’s easier to convince yourself to cheat, to take, to indulge. Perhaps when we think about how we’re satisfied at work we ought to think in the same way.

Inherency of entreprenurialism

What entrepreneurs innately know is that when their business surrounds customer satisfaction, when they are providing a product or service that people really need, that really works, that’s really important to their lives, the fact that it makes money or not tends to become unimportant.

The important part of the business is really the crux of all business – how can I make people happy, and how can I provide them a product that they will really love. When you focus on the external product – making the world better, making lives easier, loving your customers, you find that the physical work becomes a little less tedious and a little more passionate.

It’s not about following your dream exactly.

It’s not about pursuing an idea at all costs, or burning through capital without a plan, it’s about taking yourself out of the equation. What if success didn’t mean buying a bigger house or a bigger car or going on fancier vacations.

What if success meant changing people’s lives for the better?

Not being a good employee so you’ll get a promotion or helping out your coworkers, but actually making a product that’s so exciting to you that you just want people to have it. You just want to give it away.

It’s not hard to simply remove yourself from the equation. Focus on what you’re giving to the world, rather than what you’re taking from it.

Ask yourself why what you do is important – whether you’re selling home grown organic produce at the farmer’s market, or feeding families burgers and fries at a fast food chain. If you weren’t there doing that job every day would other people’s lives be worse? Would yours?

Food for thought

Consider these two questions: If you took home exactly the same pay check no matter what you did, would you still show up to work every day? Or – If your job doesn’t make you any money, does your work still matter?

If the answers are yes, than your job gives you a sense of purpose beyond yourself, if the answer is no, then maybe you should think about how you can reframe how you see your work in the bigger context of the world.

Sometimes that means changing your job, but mostly that means reevaluating how to integrate more love into your daily grind.

Shift focus

Instead of telling your customers to “Buy what I made” try, “look what I made for you.” Successful marketing does this already – it gives fifty percent off, or value meals, or free samples or gifts with purchase. But it does more than that. It alters our feelings about our product, it externalizes our love for our base rather than internalizing our sense of greed. It changes our motivation from making money to building a bigger business to buy buy buy, to giving products so you can build a bigger business and give more to more people.

The change you can create in yourself and your business is astounding. Build in more love to your work, and not only will you and your employees find more satisfaction in your day to day, but customers will find your love for them irresistible.

#RemoveTheYou

C. L. Brenton is a staff writer at The American Genius. She loves writing about all things, she’s even won some contests doing it! For everything C. L. check out her website

Opinion Editorials

The offensive myth of getting laid off being a blessing

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There’s an age-old trend in news to look for rags-to-riches stories. People love to hear about someone who’s down on their luck scraping together a genius idea and, through sheer grit (it seems), finding the motivation to finally strike out on their own and realize their dream.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Person X is laid off from their long-time but unfulfilling office job, say at an oil company in Alberta, or a marketing agency where their good ideas are consistently shot down.

What seems like a situation to for despair is actually an opportunity in disguise— see, with their newfound freedom Person X has the ability to fully commit to their small business pipe dream.

In fact, the story goes, getting laid off was actually the best thing to ever happen to this person.

This story is a myth.

Although I don’t want to discredit anybody who has had the willpower, luck, and resources to succeed at launching their business, there are many people who are laid off who are truly in critically terrible times.

The insidious underlying message of this myth is that anybody who is truly devastated by being laid off is being weak or lazy.

It serves to alleviate the guilt of those who may have survived the lay off themselves; it helps organizations justify the fact that they might have had to let an otherwise good employee go for their own, corporate-level problems.

The characteristics that many of these laid-off-turned-successful-entrepreneurs have in common are the same sort of privileges that many take for granted – health, youth, a personal support system to help keep the lights on, and an established network of people that can be turned into a market of clients.

What happens to the many workers who are victims of ageism when they are laid off in favor of younger, less expensive workers?

What happens if you’re laid off and you can’t use your newfound time to work on your business plan because you’re raising young children?

The entrepreneurs who find opportunity in being suddenly jobless were probably already on their way to striking out on their own, with their being laid off acting as the defined starting point for a plan they might not have known was forming in their heads.

If you, a friend, or a colleague have the unfortunate luck to be laid off, don’t let this myth get under your skin.

It’s okay to have a rough time with a huge life event that is absolutely terrifying and difficult.

Hang in there.

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Opinion Editorials

3 things to do if you *really* want to be an ally to women in tech

(EDITORIAL) Diversity is known to strengthen the overall performance of a company and its teams, and there are a number of ways you can be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce.

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More and more women are leaving their positions with tech companies, citing lack of opportunity for advancement, wage gaps and even hostile working conditions as some of the reasons why.

What’s better for the tech industry and its employees than cultivating inclusive and diverse departments? Diversity is known to strengthen the overall performance of a company and its teams, and there are a number of ways you can be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce. To name a few:

1. Be open to listening to different perspectives.

It can be awkward to hear so many reports of workplace politics stacking against women, especially if you’re not a woman!

Instead of getting uncomfortable or defensive – ask open ended questions and be interested in a perspective that isn’t yours and may be unfamiliar.

Don’t seek to rationalize or explain the experiences you’re hearing about, as that can come off as condescending. It’s common for women to be interrupted or spoken over in team gatherings. If you notice this happening, bring the conversation back to where the interruption began. Offering your ear and counting yourself as responsible for making space will improve the overall quality of communication in your company.

Listening to and validating what women have to say about the quality of their employment with a company is an important step in the right direction.

Expressing something as simple as “I was interested in what you had to say – could you elaborate on your thought?” can help.

2. Develop an Employee Resource Group (ERG) program.

An ERG is a volunteer-based, employee-led group that acts as a resource for a particular group of employees. An ERG can help to foster inclusiveness through discussion, team-building activities and events. It’s common for a department to have only one or two women on the roster.

This can mean that the day to day feels disconnected from concerns commonly shared by women. disjointed it might feel to be on a high performing team, without access to relatable conversations.

3. Be responsible for your company’s culture.

Chances are, your company already has some amazing cultural values in place. That said, how often are you checking your own performance and your co-workers performances against those high standards? Strong company culture and values sound great, but whether or not they’re adhered to can make or break the mood of a work environment.

Many women say they’ve experienced extremely damaging and toxic cultural environments, which lead to hostility, frustration, and even harassment. Take action when you see the new woman uncomfortable with being hit on at team drinks.

Call out those who make unfriendly and uncouth comments about how women perform, look, or behave.

Setting a personal threshold for these kinds of microaggressions can help you lead by example, and will help build a trustworthy allyship.

(This article was first published here in November, 2016.)

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Opinion Editorials

How the Bullet Journal method has been hijacked and twisted

(EDITORIAL) I’m a big fan of the Bullet Journal method, but sticker-loving tweens have hijacked the movement. Worry not, I’m still using black and white bullet points with work tasks (not “pet cat,” or “smile more”).

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It’s taken me some time to come around to the Bullet Journal method, because it took me some time to fully understand it (I have a tendency to overthink simplicity). Now that I understand the use, I find it very beneficial for my life and my appreciation for pen-to-paper.

In short, it’s a quick and simple system for organization tasks and staying focused with everything you have going on. All you need to employ this method is a journal with graph or dotted paper, and a pen. Easy.

However, there seems to be this odd truth that: we find ways to simplify complicated things, and we find ways to complicate simple things. The latter is exactly what’s happened with the Bullet Journal method, thanks to creative people who show the rest of us up.

To understand what I’m talking about, open up Instagram (or Pinterest, or even Google) and just search “bullet journal.” You’ll soon find post after post of frilly, sticker-filled, calligraphy-laden journal pages.

The simple method of writing down bullets of tasks has been hijacked to become a competitive art form.

Don’t get me wrong, I like looking at this stuff because I dig the creativity. But, do I have time to do that myself? No! For honesty’s sake, I’ve tried just for fun and it takes too much damn time.

With this is mind, this new-found method of Bullet Journaling as an art is something that: a) defeats the purpose of accomplishing tasks quickly as you’re setting yourself back with the nifty art, and b) entrepreneurs, freelancers, executives, or anyone busy would not have time for.

Most of these people posting artistic Bullet Journal pages on Instagram are younger and have more time on their hands (and if you want to spend your time doing that, do you, man).

But, it goes against the simplistic method of Bullet Journaling. The intent of the method.

And, beneath the washi tape, stickers, and different colored pens, usually lies a list of: put away laundry, feed cat, post on Insta. So, this is being done more for the sake of art than for employing the method.

Again, I’m all for art and for people following their passions and creativities, but it stands to reason that this should be something separate from the concept of Bullet Journaling, as it has become a caricature of the original method.

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