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Want to up your game in business? Start by knowing the score

(EDITORIAL) One of the most important factors when you are trying to make a gameplan is to check the scoreboard and know where you stand in the game.

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WHO’S WINNING?

I’ve lived in the great state of Texas for more than 25 years and I regularly get the opportunity to drive across the state to visit my clients. During these long journeys, it’s not unusual to pass a small city in the countryside that has an enormous football stadium. Yes, everything you’ve heard about things being “bigger in Texas” is true – especially our high school football stadiums.

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At the end of each football field sits an old-school scoreboard, not the giant LED screens that have taken over college and the NFL. For the most part, these digital megatrons haven’t made it to Texas high school stadiums – yet.

But all scoreboards exist so the teams, media and fans can quickly understand where each team stands in relation to the game.

The central pieces of information are the Home and Away scores, and although the scoreboard does include a few other items of critical information, such as the amount of time left in the game, the quarter or the current down, the score is the most prominent. Why? People just want to see who’s winning.

RESULTS SHAPE FUTURE ACTIONS

We know that the coaches have a full arsenal of statistics beyond what you see on the scoreboard (e.g. completion percentage, yard per carry, turnovers), but they review those additional stats after the game. A simple scoreboard tells the teams and fans everything they need to know about the game while it’s happening.

Surprisingly, many businesses haven’t taken the time to create a scoreboard for their team members.

It’s a critical step in the pursuit of wins. Thinking back to a Friday night football game in Texas, imagine how different the game would be if neither the team, fans nor coaches knew the score. How would the coach know what plays to run? Should they run a hurry-up offense? Or should they focus on the running game to burn up the clock? It’s unimaginable to play a football game without a score.

START BY UNDERSTANDING THE GAME

To create a scoreboard for your organization, start by clearly understanding how your company wins at your game. What main activities need to be completed on a regular basis? What deliverables drive your business? These activities may be different from department to department, but start with the primary deliverable for your customer. What is it?

“Hint: It’s never about net profit. That’s a result of doing everything else correctly.”

A good way to determine the numbers on your scoreboard is to consider a balance of leading and lagging indicators. Lagging indicators happened in the past, such as net income, or the score of either team. Leading indicators are activities completed on a regular basis, such as open orders, or the current down. Typically, the accomplishment of a leading indicator will directly influence a lagging indicator. That’s why football coaches tell their players to think about one play at a time.

FOCUS ON CRITICAL NUMBERS

Greg Crabtree, author of “Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits” holds that most critical numbers come with a quantity and a rate. For example, number of orders processed is the quantity, but we also need to know average gross margin per order – the rate.

Too much focus on either the quantity or the rate can create a problem.

For example, processing a lot of orders at a low margin is not successful – neither is producing a high-margin item, only to process a few. In football, you can gain a lot of yards on offensive, but it doesn’t mean much if you don’t score points. Always make sure you have a quantity and a rate.

Once you have identified the critical numbers for your scoreboard, the next step is to post and regularly update them.

I recommend that you start simple and evolve to a sophisticated solution over time. For smaller organizations, a dry-erase whiteboard that’s updated daily is a great first step. Once you’re comfortable with the data on your scoreboard, you can eventually adopt digital dashboards with fancy graphics that update in real-time.

But just like those old-school football scoreboards in Texas, the most important step is to let your team know if they’re winning.

#Scoreboard

Certified Petra Coach Rob Simons draws upon his 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur, brand expert and business coach. Rob founded PixelWorks Corporation in 1993 to serve the interactive advertising industry and in 1996 he founded Toolbox Studios, Inc., one of the most respected branded content marketing firms in Texas. Rob sold Toolbox Studios in 2015 to focus exclusively on business coaching, which includes certification as a Gazelles International Four Decisions™ coach. An active member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), Rob is currently a “Master” EO Strategy Summit Facilitator and an EO Accelerator Instructor. In 2007, the San Antonio Business Journal named him one of San Antonio’s “40 Under 40.”

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Opinion Editorials

If Reddit goes IPO, will it have to shed its soul?

(EDITORIAL) Reddit is known as a firebrand, a bastion of free speech, but if they go public, will they be able to remain as they are now?

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Reddit, the eighth-most popular website on the Internet, is reportedly considering an IPO. As a site valued at over 1.8 billion dollars, this is great news for the company itself – but how much of Reddit will remain if the IPO goes through?

Reddit’s history is steeped in controversy, from minor incidents such as invasion of privacy and a few creepily quirky community members to allegations of child pornography and egregious hate speech. While Reddit’s policy has allowed it to tighten posting restrictions regarding the latter two, the fact remains that Reddit – for all its usefulness – is viewed by many as a ticking time bomb.

An IPO would certainly lend back to Reddit a degree of credibility not seen since its inception, but the problem is that Reddit itself (the haven of free speech and original content that made it so popular in the first place) might not survive the offering. Given the platform’s controversial past, many believe it likely that stakeholders would move to tighten further the restrictions on the platform, ultimately ending a significant era in Reddit’s history.

Admittedly, Reddit has come a long way since its early days of supporting user-created content regardless of persuasion: this past year saw entire subreddits shut down for violating the terms of use regarding hate speech, and the platform certainly has cracked down on illegal and abusive content. Unfortunately, the history might be too much to shake off going forward, which is why we think that Reddit’s branding won’t be a part of the final IPO.

The platform’s developers’ dedication to free speech and truth-seeking is what makes Reddit so fantastic, and that’s not liable to change – it’s the most marketable aspect of the site, after all – but perhaps the rationale behind going public lies in a sense of duty rather than routine. 2017 has seen some of the most reprehensible instances of false reporting and deliberate misguidance in recent history; maybe Reddit’s team feels that they can provide a stable news platform at the cost of some personality.

At any rate, the IPO itself isn’t set in stone, and is unlikely to take place for quite some time. As the situation develops, it will be interesting to see if Reddit embraces its past, or sheds it altogether.

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Opinion Editorials

‘Follow your passion and the money will follow’ is bulls**t advice

(EDITORIAL) Following your passion can create success, though it may not be financial. So should you really just “do what you love” and hope for the best?

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If you asked anyone who knows me, they would tell you that I’m a strong advocate for people following their passion. However, when I encourage people to pursue their dreams, this comes with a big asterisk.

I recently heard someone use a phrase along the lines of, “if you do what you love, the money will follow.” Um… no.

While it’s great that you’ve found something you’re passionate about, that’s only a trillionth of the battle. You need to be willing to work your ass off and be willing to sacrifice everything in order to make that enthusiasm into a success.

Most people that have started their own business will tell you that it took a while into the process to begin paying themselves. Again, if it truly is your passion, this is all worth it in the end. But if you like food and shelter, it might not be.

Say, for example, your passion is acting and your goal in life is to become a famous movie star. Now, you can’t pull a Tobias Funke and simply say, “I’m an actor” and then expect everything to miraculously fall into place.

Like any other passion, you need to invest in yourself. You’ll need to get headshots, take acting classes, and find a flexible day job that allows you to go on auditions. Cutting corners on any of this in order to expedite the process or save a few bucks will end up hurting you in the long run.

For the sake of this article, let’s define “passion” as loving something so much you couldn’t imagine doing anything else… you would even do it for free. And, as there is no correlation between having passion for something and money, you just might.

While doing what you love is admirable, be aware that it may take an incredibly long time to see results in the form of numbers. Because of this, it’s wise to always have a back up plan to support yourself financially and pursue passion with a strong business plan in tact.

It is never wrong to want to follow your passion. I personally think that everyone should give it at least something of a shot during the course of their career so that you never ask “what if?” But following passion because you read a cliche statement can lead to major financial and emotional losses, so put on your business hat before blindly chasing dreams.

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Opinion Editorials

Tech CEO tweet ruins years of a young designer’s hard work

(EDITORIAL) With a tweet here and there, thoughtless questions have potentially bullied a young Asian woman in tech out of her career.

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It’s hard enough for women, particularly women of color, to make it in the world of tech, without rude jerks questioning if you literally exist.

Sadly, that’s what happened to Naomi Wu, also known as “SexyCyborg,” a 23-year old cyberpunk superstar from Shenzhen, China who has amassed a huge following for her 3D printing experiments and other techie pursuits. Wu has 140,000 followers and millions of views for her YouTube channel, where she shows off her experiments and provides educational tutorials.

Unfortunately, some rude dudes from America can’t seem to imagine that a young Asian woman is capable of the feats that Wu has accomplished.

Dale Dougherty, CEO of the DIY magazine Maker (and an official schmuck), has cyberbullied Wu so badly that it is said to have damaged her career. He tweeted, “I am questioning who she really is. Naomi is a persona, not a real person. She is several or many people.”

This despite the fact that Wu says that she has actually spoken to Dougherty, and that he knows she is real. “For Westerners who don’t understand the important of reputation in China it seems like a very minor thing,” says Wu, “it is everything here and there’s no repairing this.”

Wu has even lost a sponsorship deal from a 3D printer company over the accusations that she isn’t who she says she is.

Dougherty eventually apologized, but Wu says that “the damage had been done” at that point, and that Dougherty knew the accusations would be “devastating” to her “reputation and professional prospects.”

Wu says that the attack is motivated by white male entitlement to tech spaces.

She says that she can’t imagine Dougherty attacking “a white lady from San Francisco.” Wu has been an advocate for diversity in tech and maker spaces. “I kept pushing for more inclusion – not just me, other underrepresented people,” she says. “They didn’t like being pushed. This is payback.”

We stand behind Wu as she continues to push the edge in tech spaces, and say shame on you to bullies who won’t make space for women and racial minorities. Sorry you’re not as cool as SexyCyborg, but that’s on you and you need to get over it.

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