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If you are prone to a ton of meetings and calls, you need Aloe

(ENTREPRENEUR) Aloe is a productivity tool for business people who spend incredible amounts of time in meetings or on calls.

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people who spend tons of time in meetings or on calls

If your average day is packed with calls and meetings, you’ve probably noticed that keeping all those conversations organized is tough, even for a pro like you.

barIf you manage to take detailed notes, it’s almost impossible to navigate them days or weeks later when you need to find a key point.

The dilemma

With all the time you spend in meetings, there’s not much left to actually prepare for any of them. And when critical customers or stakeholders are on the line, you can’t afford to slip up.

That’s where Aloe comes in, a work assistant that specializes in notes and tasks to make calls and meetings run smoother/

While you’re great at what you do, you are just human. Aloe isn’t, it has perfect recall: simply search for a person or company, and the assistant will offer up relevant notes or tasks, provide briefing materials, and locate any related plans confirmed by you or to you.

How it works

Aloe integrates with your Google, Office 365, or Microsoft exchange account and syncs with your email and calendar to learn who you who interact with and track the meetings you attend. When you start a call, just select it from your Aloe diary and start taking notes.

Since sometimes words alone can’t capture key information, Aloe lets you use a camera, microphone, or stylus.

Maybe you want to take photos of whiteboards, projected slides, or paper documents during the call or meeting. You can jump between media types with the click of a button to add richness and context to your notes.

You can then add follow-up tasks such as send a slide deck, setup a free demo account, or provide a price quote, so you don’t miss out on any opportunities. Notes can be sent to both Aloe users and non users straight from your dashboard.

Easy searching

Yeah, creating folders within folders within folders might make you feel like you have your life together, but most of the time you’re just building yourself a labyrinth of labels that even Command F won’t be able to find. With Aloe, there’s no need for hundreds of different folders and file names.

Aloe automatically labels each note using the event invitee’s name from your calendar, then lets you edit the labels whenever you want.

As for those pesky unplanned calls, taking ad-hoc notes is easy–just be sure to include all relevant names in your new note label to make it as easy as possible for Aloe to find.

Aloe helps you stay connected to your network by finding people or companies you’ve previously interacted with, and providing information about new people you meet by scouring various data sources.

Aloe soothes your work schedule

Whether you’re struggling to manage all your meetings and calls or you’re still pretending you aren’t, Aloe can make your work day more chill and more productive.

The tool works on phones, tablets and desktops, because well, so do you.

With Aloe, you won’t spend mornings in the office scrambling to prepare before meetings — you’ll spend them in the kitchen, scrambling eggs and singing show tunes, knowing Aloe’s got your back.

#Aloe

Helen Irias is a Staff Writer at The American Genius with a degree in English Literature from University of California, Santa Barbara. She works in marketing in Silicon Valley and hopes to one day publish a comically self-deprecating memoir that people bring up at dinner parties to make themselves sound interesting.

Business Entrepreneur

The success of your business could be tied to your succession plan

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) You can’t spell ‘successor’ without success. In the age of COVID-19, are the two mutually exclusive to your ventures?

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Women at desk with laptop discussion succession.

“Heir” is a weighty term. A fun pun, to be sure, through the beauty of English homophones. But seriously, unless you’re already 10% and up rich, talk of heirs and succession does connote a certain heaviness you may not be used to.

For those choosing successors, it’s the heaviness of accepting mortality. For the potential promotees, it’s the heaviness of accepting a multitude of responsibilities. Or buying ear poison. Either way.

We expect to deal with familial succession. As eldest (assuming he doesn’t outlive me), I’m in charge of flinging Dad’s ashes into a nicer section of the ocean and distributing all of his Cosby sweaters amongst the sibs, and I take the role very seriously.

As a serial-small-business employee though, I’ve only just started wondering what would happen if my boss died. Of all the ‘lose your job’ scenarios I’ve had waking nightmares about, that one in particular only cropped up for me a year ago. And now, with the coronavirus taking up our attention, more business owners than usual might be wondering the same thing from the other side of the desk.

What’s going to happen to my employees if I’m too sick to work? Have I set things up so that this company can survive past me? Does at least one other person know the combination to the safes?

If your business is big enough to have employees and advisors on deck, these are questions you need to have answered… Preferably in written, notarized form to ensure smooth succession.

So where should you start? Probably with a good talk.

If you have a next-in-command standing ready, but don’t have a plan yet, let them know that if the inevitable happens sooner rather than later, that you’d like them to step in. A frank conversation about their future with your brand, and actually asking them if they feel up to taking the reins is a great place to start. Otherwise, consider your network— who you might sell the business to, and who might know someone who knows someone.

P.S. If your VP says they’d rather run off and sail the world if you got hit by an asteroid next week, please don’t hold it against them.

We all know that ghosts stick around because they’ve got unfinished business, right? Don’t let your literal business be the shade that haunts your team! Take a deep breath and get the ball rolling on THIS side of the dirt… Ouija boards can only do so much.

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Business Entrepreneur

6 simple self-care tips to keep any busy entrepreneur sane

(ENTREPRENEUR) We don’t all have time for yoga and long baths, but self-care can keep us sane and able to keep doing what we love for work – here’s how.

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It’s no secret that Americans are stressed. A recent study shows 3 out of 4 Americans experienced a symptom of extreme stress in the past month. Throw entrepreneurship into the mix, and you’re primed for a breakdown, or burnout at the very least. The good news? It doesn’t have to be this way.

This is why self-care is important.

The term “self-care” is nowadays often associated with skincare routines and Netflix, but in reality, it’s much more than that: It’s valuing yourself and your health enough to graciously set boundaries and say no. That way, you bring the best version of yourself to your job and relationships day after day.

I’ve started several companies, sold two, and recently started a new gig as VP of Growth & Ops for Steadfast Media (hi, guys!) while running Honey & Vinegar, so it’s safe to say I’ve been one tired woman. There were times I was tired, frustrated, and honestly burnt out. At one point, I took a sabbatical for several months at the urging of several mentors, family members, and my career coach. Burnout is real, but I’ve learned ways to cultivate self-care in my professional life that allows me to have a somewhat balanced life.

(Side note: I understand there are situations out of one’s control that can contribute to burnout, including ailing family members, parenting, disabilities, etc. This article is not focused necessarily on these, rather preventing your professional life becoming your entire life. That way, you can focus on the truly important things.)

Here’s what I’ve learned about self-care thus far (mostly the hard way):

1. Set strict boundaries & turn off notifications.

The best advice I ever received was a one-off realization from my brother: gate it, don’t date it.

Meaning that if you have emails, Slack, or Trello on your phone, don’t make it available to where you check it at all times of day and night. Force a gate between you and the app. Put the app in another folder to where you don’t check it 24/7. Don’t let the notifications own you, or straight up disable them.

If you’re the boss, you get to set the standards. Check Slack and emails during certain times, and be as specific as possible when setting those times. If there’s a true emergency, have employees then call or text. Set those boundaries and stick to them. Encourage your employees to stick to them with one another, too.

2. Have friends and a life outside of your industry.

I can’t emphasize this enough, and this is also why I’ve only lived in cities that emphasize one industry. (DC and LA people, I don’t know how you do it! Props to you.)

This allows you to create a life beyond just your professional life.

When it seems like the sky is falling — i.e. you don’t get that round of funding, or that one client flips out, it’s important to have people around you who are a) grounded b) can give you perspective. Compatriots in your respective industry are helpful for support and sounding boards, but it’s easy to b

When an acquisition deal for a past company fell through, I felt like my world was over. I was devastated. My darling friends, one in healthcare and another in real estate, took me to Chuy’s happy hour and gave me perspective. Relationships like these are game-changers.

3. Schedule time for yourself.

Set time aside for yourself, but get real: What does this mean practically in your day to day, week to week life? For me, I purposefully make sure to keep one night a week, ideally two, to rest at home with my husband.

Also, plan that damn vacation! It doesn’t have to be a lavish European vacation, but set aside time where you are intentionally not checking your phone or emails.

When I took my first actual vacation (and not working remotely) in years, It was life-changing. Be intentional to take more than two days to think, journal, set aside goals not just professionally, but what you want you life to look like that following quarter. You, your company, and the people will be a lot better for it, I promise.

4. Cultivate healthy habits that are enjoyable.

Don’t let the hustle culture get to you. Hard work is important, but so is exercise, eating healthy, and maintaining mental health. In other words, some legit self-care.

Some good thoughts from VC Harry Stebbings.

Set routines of things you love to do that also maintain your well-being. I love going to the gym and putting my phone on Do Not Disturb for 30 minutes, but that’s not for everyone. Take your dog on a walk, put on a playlist to cook a good meal, go to that yoga class. Or just go on a walk with a friend. You do you, boo.

This could be you.

 

5. Train other people to do your job.

You may think you’re the only person that can do a number of things at your job. If you want your company to ever scale, you need, I repeat, need to take those tedious tasks off your list, and even some larger projects off your hands.

I know it’s so hard to relinquish control, but *gasp* there might be people that can do parts of your job better than you. So let them!

Does this mean you need to hire a virtual assistant, a COO, find another co-founder, or just hire that dang accountant? Do it.

Your business is only going to succeed if you’re performing as the best version of yourself, not a stressed-out shell of yourself. If you need to micromanage everything, your business won’t succeed or be sustainable long-term. Don’t let your stress about doing everything stunt your company or personal growth. If you needed a sign, this is it.

6. Practice self-awareness.

There is nothing more valuable than the gift of self-awareness.

Listen to your body and what it’s telling you. Does it need water? Does it need sleep? Start a habit of journaling and seeing what areas where you’re running on empty. More than that — do what your body tells you. Drink that water, my friend!

The takeaway:

All in all, life is more than work and who we are is more important than what we do. Take time for self-care, and you’ll have a healthier mind and body.

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Business Entrepreneur

Delivery startup goPuff is fast becoming the next tech giant

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) GoPuff’s latest round of funding – $380 million – takes the delivery app from a business that grew from beer and snacks to a $3.9 billion consumer tech company on the rise.

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goPuff app open on iPhone in woman's hands.

Unless you’re in college and/or a Millennial and/or a venture capital watcher, goPuff might not be on your radar.

The app that delivers products you’d find at a convenience store – think snacks, beer, candy, toiletries – hasn’t become a widely used verb like Uber or Venmo. But its “vertically integrated” business model, backed with an impressive venture capital haul, could be driving it toward household-name status.

If ever there were a time for an app offering “daily essentials delivered in minutes,” 2020 is it. With its promise to deliver within 30 minutes, 24/7 in most markets, and with a flat fee, sales are surging.

Also surging: Venture capital. Last week goPuff announced it had raised $380 million in its latest round of funding, tallying up a total of $1.35 billion in sweet VC dollars and leading to a valuation of $3.9 billion. Participants in the latest funding round include existing investor Accel and new investor D1 Capital Partners, with participation from Luxor Capital and SoftBank Vision Fund.

Not bad for a company that started in 2013 with two guys delivering beer and snacks out of a Plymouth Voyager to fellow students at Drexel University.

Co-founders Yakir Gola and Rafael Ilishayev also serve as co-CEOs of the Philadelphia-based company, which now serves more than 500 cities using its own 200-plus “micro-fulfillment” hubs and a fleet of independent delivery drivers. It’s the hubs where the vertical integration comes in.

GoPuff buys products directly from manufacturers and stocks their own warehouses, where delivery drivers pick up the orders. Buying direct means quicker pick up and delivery (no shopping or waiting in grocery store lines for drivers), control over inventory (no relying on local retailers’ stock, so customers get exactly what they want) and, of course, more profit for the company.

The backbone of it all is a logistics platform that optimizes everything from inventory to delivery routes. That model led CNBC.com to name goPuff one of their 2020 CNBC Disruptors, 50 private companies “poised to emerge from the pandemic as the next generation of billion-dollar businesses.”

How it works

Say it’s midnight and you realize you’re out of White Claw just as a sudden craving arises for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and Ben & Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream (hey, no judgment). Maybe you also need some new earbuds and, because you’re planning ahead, something for your inevitable morning headache. However, driving to the local convenience store isn’t convenient or… advisable.

GoPuff is there for you. Shop through the app (for iOS and Android) and for a flat delivery charge of $1.95 – plus $2 if alcohol is involved – a driver will pick up your order at a goPuff warehouse and drop off your goodies within 30 minutes.

Wondering what their top pandemic-summer sellers are nationwide? That would be Ben & Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream and the White Claw Seltzer Variety 12-pack.

Rapid expansion

GoPuff says the new funding will help it expand markets, products – including a greater selection of baby and pet products – as well as hiring.

The influx of money has juiced hiring from drivers and warehouse staff to execs, including some top talent with backgrounds at big-name companies: Jocelyn Wong (Lowe’s) as its first chief customer officer; Jonathan DiOrio (Uber) as its first chief business officer; and Rekha Singh (TripAdvisor) as VP of engineering.

In May, CNN.com listed goPuff as a company hiring rapidly during the pandemic, likely adding the company to the radar for job seekers and consumers alike.

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