Apple Leading the Edu 2.0 Revolution

The Nature of Arguments, Zombies! — Intro to Zombie Studies, Einstein’s Ethics are just a few of thousands of iPhone education apps and lectures transforming how we receive, consume and interact with education. Mobile education is meeting the new techno lifestyle that blends work with play and play with education by offering flexibility, personalized content, review systems, unparalleled interactivity (think accelerometer), real time communication and cross platform compatibility (email, calendar, web, voice, sms, etc).

Although Apple is pioneering the next evolution in mobile learning, the first true visionary of m-learning was Alan Kay. In the 1970s, Kay, along with his colleagues at Xerox, spearheaded the Dynabooks project that aimed to provide “a personal computer for children of all ages.” This project wasn’t to be a mobile X-Box. Kay’s vision was to teach children with mobile devices — enabling them to learn in a way most conducive to their personal learning style, regardless of their location.

Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, envisions the company to lead the mobile education revolution. “Apps help transform the way teachers teach and students learn. And there are apps for every subject and every stage of learning,” writes Apple. The launch of iTunes U is one of the largest steps forward by a single tech company. iTunes U signed on over 600 universities – including Stanford, Yale, MIT and Oxford – to deliver education materials via smartphone devices and tablets.

Why is Apple so keen on the mobile edu market? According to Ambient Insight report, the US mobile learning market is growing at a five-year compound annual rate of 21.7% and revenues reached $538 million in 2007. Surprising other mobile device manufacturers are not capitalizing on the opportunity. While Google’s Android and RIM platforms have several hundred education-related apps combined, neither of them have been as aggressive in the education market as Apple — which gives company a head start in the race to capture an emerging class of users seeking education on their mobile devices.

As consumers become more and more tethered to their mobile devices for communication, navigation, entertainment, information and soon payment, smart phone functionality can make education more intuitive, mobile, accessible and fun for children to back to school adult learners. And with more mobile devices — tablet and smart phone alike — flooding the consumer market, expect education on the go.

Mobile learning is still in its infancy and there is much more we should expect to come from the emerging market. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on new edition books, apps could be updated in a 20-second, download; students don’t have to break their backs carrying a small library on their backs; teachers can better manage student assignments through a networked computer system; learning programs can adapt to the individual’s learning style. The possibilities are boundless. Expect the m-learning market to reach some significant momentum in the next ten years.

Top Mobile Stats: Commerce and Advertising

More and more we are depending on our mobile devices to find directions, surf the internet, get news and information and a long list of other functionality. Here are several emerging areas of mobile devices getting special attention by consumers and advertisers alike.

Mobile Shopping: One e-retailer is capitalizing on the mobile barcode scanning: Amazon. Amazon recently integrated scanning into its mobile app. “Integrating the scanning capability is a smart move for Amazon because it removes friction from the buying process and enables interested consumers to pull the trigger on a purchase right from within the app,” writes eMarketer. With 43 percent of consumers in nine major markets, including the US, using barcode scanning to find the best prices to give them more control over the shopping experience, Amazon might also be the king of mobile retail.

Mobile Consumers of Advertising: Consumers are becoming familiar with advertising on their mobile devices. In fact, 38 percent of people feel mobile ads “serve an important purpose” and an additional 25 percent stated they are becoming accustomed to viewing mobile ads, according to a recent InMobi and comScore report. A mere 10 percent of respondents feel uncomfortable with mobile ads and 12 percent felt they were intrusive. The study suggests mobile advertising to be a level playing field for advertisers to target mobile consumers.

Mobile Ad Spending: Advertisers have an opportunity to cash in on the enormous mobile market. US mobile ad spending will be up 79 percent to reach $743 million this year and spending is expected to be over $1.1 billion in 2011 and more than $2.5 billion by 2014, eMarketer forecasts. Hot spots will be video, display and search — all nearly doubling this year. With consumers receptive to mobile ads, now is perfect time to start experimenting with mobile ad placements to determine whether you can make mobile work for your brand.

The Mobile Ad Exchange: Mobile users are willing to view ads in an exchange for something. Typically the exchange is a free app and the paid app is for those that want the game, news, etc without those pesky ads. An interesting statistic from Oracle’s September 2010 “Opportunity Calling: The Future of Mobile Communications” survey revealed 54 percent of adult mobile users would be willing to listen to or watch mobile ads in exchange for a 5 percent credit on their monthly phone bill — further incentivizing users to view ads.

Mobile Scanning on the Rise: Mobile is big. We get it. So what are the emerging areas of mobile marketers should be on the lookout for? Let’s focus on the fantastically popular app, RedLaser. The app scans barcodes with the mobile camera and topped five million downloads in early October. There is a rising segment of mobile users that want to make searching for products more interactive and inclusive and barcode scanning is one way.

Top 5 Tips for an Engaging Facebook Fan Page

On November 6, 2007, Facebook officially launched Pages and brands have been experimenting and engaging fans in creative ways ever since. Whether it’s sharing pictures of your Mercedes with the Mercedes community, or winning cool Coca Cola merchandise or buying tunes, brands are pushing the boundaries of Facebook to engage fans in new and exciting ways. Here are five tips to get enhance your Facebook:

Make the Page a One-Stop-Shop

As of this writing, Lady Gaga has 16.7 million Facebook fans — more than any other celebrity, including Barack Obama. But what benefit could there be to “fanning” the queen of avant garde? Under the music tab on her Facebook page, fans can check out tour dates, listen to her sounds, watch videos, buy tunes from iTunes, read blog posts and hang out with other fans. Gaga even has a store tab, where fans can purchase fashion (including a Lady Gaga sequin mask and Lady Gaga monster light wand). It’s all you could want from Gaga in one, centrally located place.


Promote Brand Loyal Fans

When you ask someone about their first car, they often wax poetic about how ugly, but endearing it was. People have an emotional attachment to their cars and Mercedes customers are no different. Mercedes uses their Facebook page to engage and promote these brand loyal fans. The luxury car brand focuses on sharing “Mercedes love” via photo albums. In fact, Mercedes has over 6,600 fan uploads. Take a tip from Mercedes and promote your loyal fans through pictures of your product and comments.


Host Contests and Promotions

What can you do with a can? Coca Cola wants its fans to get creative with its cans this summer. Fans can upload images of Coca Cola’s stylish summer cans, vote on the most creative and winners can get digital cameras, t-shirts and back packs. The soda brand developed an engaging, fun, engaging contest relevant to the product.


Bring the Brand Experience to Facebook

“What do men secretly think of your hair and makeup?” Questions like these immediately make me think of Cosmopolitan Magazine. And the teen-girl brand brings that same magazine experience to their Facebook page with “convo starters,” polls, hot trends and its famous quizzes. Having browsed a couple Cosmopolitan mags (just curious!), it’s very much in line with its print experience, but offers an additional layer of interaction unavailable in print (think real-time quiz results).


Make it a Destination

The Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus are making their Facebook pages a destination. How? Both teen pop stars incorporate the real-time streaming platform UStream into their page. Members can watch upcoming live shows. Fans can tune-in Friday night at 7:30PM for a live concert, and chat about it with other fans in real time. By enabling fans to get exclusive content and share their thoughts with other like-minded fans, Miley Cyrus is truly making her Facebook a destination.


How to Sell in a New Market

You have a brilliant idea that you’re convinced will make you millions. Or, you have an existing product that will surely be adopted by new markets. Either scenario, you are entering a new market. As we are sometimes overtaken by emotion when we think of the potential of our ideas, before we implement them we need to think logically how plausible they actually are. Here are several areas you should explore before entering a new market:

Support Your Potential With Industry Research. Trends, testing, grass roots movements are just a few indicators a market is ripe for the picking. For instance, if you’re a tech startup, the black demographic is considered to be the next big emerging market. African Americans spend 31 percent of their discretionary income, roughly $39 billion , on computers, cell phones, and other electronics. This is a higher percentage than other ethnicity. In addition, African Americans spend more time online, 18 hours a week, than watching television (15 hours). These compelling statistics can back-up your instincts to enter a new market.

Determine the Market Landscape. Kim T. Gordon, author of, asks entrepreneurs to answer three questions to examining the market landscape: 1) What similar products or services does this target market buy now?, 2) How will your new product or service add value for the customer? and 3) Which audience segments will be most receptive to what you offer? Think about the current market offerings from a customer’s perspective to determine what motivates their purchases; how is your product going to meet that need and be differentiated from current market players; and Gordon suggests focusing on a narrow sub segment and branch out from there.

Outline What You’ll Need to be Successful. Do you have the distribution channels to enter the market? Can you accelerate efforts through a strategic partnership? For example, we can learn from the success of Coco Chanel, a legendary hero among top fashion circles. It was French financier, Pierre Wertheimer that made her a house-hold name. Pierre partnered with the famous designer to develop her into an international brand. Pierre made the famous Chanel No. 5 accessible to the world, through marketing savvy, business connections and capital. He was able to leverage an existing customer base to catapult Chanel No. 5 and make it one of the best-selling perfumes in history. If it wasn’t for Wertheimer, Chanel No. 5 might not be, Chanel No. 5.

Create Strategic Goals. Now that you know what you’re going to need to enter the market, it’s time to peer into your future. That means setting strategic goals. This stage of the process will help determine how you measure progress as you grow the business in a new market. Make clear claims, actionable goals, while being aspirational and have a timeline. It doesn’t make sense to say, “I want to make millions by having a great product that everyone will love.” How do you measure progress against that goal? A more actionable goal might be, “I want to sell 250 units to tech savvy African Americans in the first year.”

Image by Svilen Milev from Stock.Xchng

Happiness is a Business Model at Zappos

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh recently spoke to American Marketing Association Tampa Bay and shared his journey in creating Zappos, which sold to Amazon for approximately $900 million in 2009.  The presentation was part of Tony Hsieh’s bus tour coinciding with the release of his best selling book, “Delivering Happiness.”

Tony shared the keys to building a customer service focused business that WOWs customers and has achieved 75% of its orders from repeat customers.  For Tony, the Zappos journey began in 1999 when the goal was to offer the largest selection of shoes.  4 years later, in 2003, the priority evolved to become great customer service.  Soon after, in 2005, the company began to transform itslef as it recognized its culture and core values were a platform to success.  Simply put, hire more great people with the right DNA and character and it will have spillover benefits across everything the company does.  As of 2007, the goal became creating a personal emotional connection.  And today, the goal has elevated once more to “Delivering Happiness.”  From an origin of shoes to its current inventory across clothing and retail categories, the future is wide open for the company to Deliver Happiness in new ways tomorrow.  Tony has deemed Happiness to be the Company’s business model.

For emerging leaders who are taught to focus on profits, Tony would say that profits are relevant more as an end state.  Passion and Purpose are key ingredients that will have more impact on long-term profit growth than just a focus on profits alone.  For Zappos, shoes and clothes are just one part of the equation.  As Tony puts it, Zappos is in the stories and memories business.  Think bigger!  “People will never forget how you make them feel.”

3 simple suggestions in making brand culture a priority:  1) figure out your core values, 2) commit to your core values, and 3) be willing to hire and fire based on core values.  This might seem easy, but for too many, there is a temptation to hire someone who “rubs people the wrong way” because they might be able to make an immediate impact.  Tony warns not to chase the money, but instead to chase the vision.  Passion is the ultimate motivator, so make sure that your team is inspired by passion and purpose.

Making customers feel an emotional connection, and ultimately happiness, starts with the brand culture that Tony has set for Zappos. Here are some specifics from the inside of Zappos:

  • Training on Day 1 through Day 25.  all employees take a 5 week traning course that includes a heavy does of being on the phone taking customer service calls.  For all those who like to outsource customer service and forget about it, notice that Zappos has made its customer service, including phone experience, a differentiator.
  • Be authentic.  No scripts!  It seems that the more complex business becomes, the more policies and scripts are in place.  Tony retorts that scripts and policies are intended for 1% of customers at the inconvenience of the other 99%.  If you are hiring great people, why not empower them to go unscripted and use their own judgment.
  • Brand Values for Performance Review.  Instead of focusing exclusively on a small set of tasks, performance review takes a holistic look at the employee’s ability to live and inspire Zappos brand values.  You want your employees to live your brand?  Then take a cue from Zappos and make it count for 50% of the review.
  • Respect Your Customer.  Sure, there are opportunities to cross-sell and up-sell, but Zappos has decided NOT to insert an upsell into its phone calls.  Likewise, Zappos has a 365 day return policy.  They give customers 1 freebie in abusing the policy.  Zappos gives the customer respect and expects it in return.  If customers abuse the freedoms that Zappos offers, than Zappos fires the customer.

You might be surprised to see so much attention to phone customer service for a company that does 95% of its orders online.  What Zappos realized is that on average, every customer calls into customer service at least once during their lifetime.  At that moment, the human touch wins out over high tech, and its an opportunity to get the cstomer to say, “Wow.  I like these guys.”  Zappos has even reported a call of 8 hours and 3 minutes.  Can you imagine what a manager would say if an employee spent an entire 8 hour shift on one phone call!  Every executive has to make tradeoffs.  In the case of Zappos, investing in world class customer service is more important that investing in a Super Bowl ad.

At Zappos, passion and purpose are the ingredients that lead to profits.  They’ve got a truly engaged team, a brand culture that embraces “weirdness” and inspired a spontaneous parade of pirates.  We know you want profits, but don’t lose site of greater purpose and happiness.  Your employees and customers will appreciate it.  For further inspiration courtesy of Zappos, you can tour the Zappos offices in Vegas (they’ll pick you up at the airport and drop you off at your hotel after your tour) or download an audio version of the book Tribal Leadership for free on the Zappos web site.

Top 25 WordPress Themes

WordPress has more than 1,000 free layout themes and over 10.5 million downloads. Which one is right for you? We have searched hundreds of WordPress themes to find the best of the best. Whether you’re searching for a theme to feature your travels or looking to showcase your poetry, we have selected a diverse group of WordPress themes for nearly any website:

  1. [singlepic id=1486 w=320 h=240 float=center] P2 — For Twitter-savvy bloggers, P2 combines traditional blogging with short, tweet-like updates. P2 allows logged-in users to post directly on the webpage — as you might with a comment. Very simple, straightforward and community-oriented.
  2. [singlepic id=1483 w=320 h=240 float=center] Mystique — The most downloaded WP theme (nearly 10,000 times), Mystique offers a slick, modern design with a simple user interface. Be sure to check out the smooth dropdown menus and roll-over the hiding Twitter and RSS buttons.
  3. [singlepic id=1484 w=320 h=240 float=center] News Magazine Theme 640 –This theme has a good balance between visuals and text — making it perfect for a professional blogger.
  4. [singlepic id=1488 w=320 h=240 float=center]Photon — Are you a wordsmith searching for a great WP theme to showcase your writing talents? Photon is a perfect, stripped-down theme for creative writers.
  5. [singlepic id=1474 w=320 h=240 float=center]Affiliate — For entrepreneur’s selling products, the Affiliate theme offers rich visual displays and marketplace features. One of the best elements of the Affiliate theme is the lightbox feature.
  6. [singlepic id=1492 w=320 h=240 float=center]Retromania — Looking to recapture the 70s? Retromania is a well-designed WP theme that harkens back to a time when bell-bottoms and vinyl were the rage. The textured backgrounds and header image definitely give this theme a retro vibe.
  7. [singlepic id=1478 w=320 h=240 float=center]EarthlingTwo — If you’re an eco-oriented blogger or business, seriously consider EarthlingTwo. The homepage is a breath of fresh air that will transport users to greener world.
  8. [singlepic id=1482 w=320 h=240 float=center]Modularity — This theme is perfect for photographers. The large, scrolling image displays let photographers feature fantastic work in a big way.
  9. [singlepic id=1476 w=320 h=240 float=center]Communication — Searching for simple? The Communication WP theme is stripped-down, basic and almost has a retro-geek feel.
  10. [singlepic id=1481 w=320 h=240 float=center]Miscellaneous — This theme would be perfect for the aspiring blogging cook. With its simple layout and Food Network feel, Miscellaneous would be a great place to post your latest and greatest recipes.
  11. [singlepic id=1494 w=320 h=240 float=center]Suffusion — Searching for an elegant, simple, dark WP layout? Suffusion has a standard black background and check out its 16 different color schemes.
  12. [singlepic id=1493 w=320 h=240 float=center]Sandstone — Sandstone has a similar color palette to suffusion, but focuses on imagery. The large photo on the homepage is enough to inspire users creativity and imagination.
  13. [singlepic id=1479 w=320 h=240 float=center]Fog — For poets and creative wordsmiths, the Fog theme is inspiring and atmospheric. The mysterious eerie black water in the header blends seamlessly into the text.
  14. [singlepic id=1501 w=320 h=240 float=center]Christmas — Want to turn your website into a winter wonderland? This Christmas theme makes you want to curl-up on the couch with a warm cup of hot cocoa.
  15. [singlepic id=1485 w=320 h=240 float=center]Notepad Chaos — For writers wanting to unleash their inner indie geekdom, the Notepad Chaos will have you writing about your David Sedaris moments in no time.
  16. [singlepic id=1489 w=320 h=240 float=center]Portfolio — This portfolio theme is stripped-down to the core. The content nav is simple enough: homepage, work and about. And the actual portfolio section has an image on the left and basic description on the right. Perfect for minimalist artists.
  17. [singlepic id=1487 w=320 h=240 float=center]Personal Blog — Looking for an edgy, alternative WP theme? The Personal Blog enables webmasters to upload headshots into the background — it could be of a rooster or your mug.
  18. [singlepic id=1499 w=320 h=240 float=center]Business — The Business theme offers a clean, slick layout for entrepreneurs. The advertising sections are placed tastefully and the overall design is very professional.
  19. [singlepic id=1491 w=320 h=240 float=center]Real Estate — Not only is the Real Estate theme turn key ready, it is also easy to manage. Instead of focusing on blog posts, the theme offers a more static page so webmasters are not forced to constantly update.
  20. [singlepic id=1496 w=320 h=240 float=center]Winter Fun —  The Winter Fun theme incorporates a stunning, static background that creates a fantastical experience. If you want to blog about your snowboarding travels or create a digital destination for your slopes, this is the theme for you.
  21. [singlepic id=1477 w=320 h=240 float=center]Desk — Looking for an alternative to the typical personal business blog? The Desk theme takes a creative approach to traditional blog design. Definitely something to consider for creative professionals.
  22. [singlepic id=1475 w=320 h=240 float=center]Children and Toys — Many of the themes on this list are meant for professionals. The Children and Toys theme is different, in that it is family-oriented. Webmasters can post birthdays, graduations or other events in the Polaroid header.
  23. [singlepic id=1490 w=320 h=240 float=center]Prada — Calling all fashionistas, this theme is for you. The Prada design is upscale, high-class — perfect for fashion bloggers.
  24. [singlepic id=1495 w=320 h=240 float=center]Travel — Looking to share your travels? Maybe give updates in Madrid or the Carribean. For travel bloggers, this theme is for you. The details, such as the small airplane headlines, give this theme a multi-dimensional appeal.
  25. [singlepic id=1480 w=320 h=240 float=center]Health — Relax, rejuvenate and refresh. These are the key elements of this perfectly designed theme. Perfect for a yoga studio.

How to Maximize Your Sales Force

Let’s say you require your sales team to hit a quota of 20 sales per week — bare minimum. For most sales departments there will be a bell curve of a few under and high achievers and a lot of sales reps just getting by. While your low achievers are surely frustrating, your biggest opportunity is likely in the bulk of sales reps stagnating and just getting by. bell-curve

Here are several tips to activate and energize your sales team to maximize their potential and ultimately increase your bottom line:

Identify Bright Spots. Dan and Chip Heath outline the power of bright spots in their book, Switch: “To pursue bright spots is to ask the question, ‘What’s working, and how can we do more of it?’ … In the real world, this obvious question is almost never asked. Instead, the question we ask is more problem focused: ‘What’s the problem, and how do we fix it?’” The Heath brothers go on to discuss how a psychologist transformed a problem child into a manageable student by focusing on what he did right instead of punishing him for what he did wrong. The same can be said for your sales team. Take a look at overall team bright spots (are they working harder towards the end of the month?), then examine individual sales rep bright spots (do they respond more to positive feedback?). Some sales managers will have each individual share what worked the day before (i.e. bright spots) during morning sales meetings.

Don’t Take Out Your Frustrations on your Team. Have you ever been in a grocery store when a child is misbehaving and the parent begins yelling and chastising the child? Do you think the child actually learned their lesson? It always seems like the parent disciplines their child 3 or 4 times during your trip to the store, so the message is likely not getting through. Many manager’s first inclination to motivate under-performing or sales reps doing the bare minimum is punishment (no bonus or termination), very much in the way of the frustrated parent. And just as the child never learns their lesson, it is likely your sales reps will not either. Your effectiveness as a leader is measured by your ability to keep calm and steer your team in a more positive direction, not how loud you can yell.

Transparency is Key. Give your sales team the big picture and detail how each of their contributions impact the business. In a past sales job, every week the CEO would come in, show the overall team performance, then create a list of individual performance. He would outline how many sales we typically have, then tell us how many sales we need as a team and individually to meet and exceed our goals. He could have easily said, “Hey guys, we didn’t do well last week, so let’s go out there and do better.” Instead, he showed us how our individual impact contributes to the overall health of the team and company — which gave us a sense of ownership and commitment to not only meet our individual target goals, but the overall team objectives.

Coaching the Manager. Just as your sales team needs guidance, a manager should as well. Sales HQ recommends sales managers have mentors or coaches to guide and provide them with encouragement. The website suggests a coach should be a trainer, motivator disciplinarian and confidant. A coach should preferably be an industry veteran with significant sales experience and be someone to mentor you through your personal challenges, help you be a more effective leader.

Image by Svilen Milev from Stock Xchng

Top 20 Digital Marketing Blogs

Last year, our team identified cutting edge digital marketing blogs and this year we are expanding our list to not only include digital marketing blogs, but also business to business, sales strategy, marketing advice, experimental marketing and advertising blogs:

Quick Jump: Marketing Advice / Advertising Blogs / Experimental Marketing / Business to Business / Sales Strategy

  • Seth Godin — Of course we had to add one of the most famous marketing gurus of all time
  • Hard Knox Life  — Dave Knox brings fresh perspective to digital marketing trends and overall marketing strategy
  • Guy Kawasaki  — Guy Kawasaki shares his incredible insights from years of experience at Apple and other leading companies
    Chris Brogan — Chris Brogan, a social marketing guru, posts the latest insights for marketers

  • AdRants  — Steve Hall takes no prisoners in his reviews of the latest ad campaigns
  • Ads of the World  — Want inspiration? Check out creative minds from around the world
  • AdFreak  — From the folks at AdWeek, AdFreak is the go-to for the latest ad campaigns (with some insights)
  • Adverblog  — Advisory warning: Don’t visit unless you have at least half an hour to kill

  • Web Urbanist  — Finds the most cutting edge creative campaigns and artistic work (borderline not marketing, but great place to get inspired!)
  • Creative Guerrilla Marketing  — Want to get guerrilla inspiration? Creative Guerrilla Marketing is king of the guerrillas with incredible examples
  • Guerrilla Marketing Arsenal  — Guerrilla Marketing Arsenal provides in-depth analysis to accompany their many creative marketing examples
  • Advent  — Advent gathers cutting edge marketers to share insights and creative thinking

  • Modern B2B Marketing  — Modern B2B Marketing delivers actionable advice in digestible snippets. Good for marketers on the go
  • B2B Lead Generation Blog  — B2B Lead Generation Blog aggregates B2B marketing links from around the web into one place, while incorporating some insights
  • B2B Online Marketing  — B2B Online Marketing provides in-depth analysis on the latest B2B strategies
  • B2Blog  — Dave Jung takes a first-person approach to examining B2B marketing

  • Sales and Management Blog  — Paul McCord inspires and provides actionable sales strategy advice
  • Heavy Hitter Sales Blog  — Steve W. Martin takes a sometimes humorous look at sales and sales people, offering perspective on sales training techniques, effective sales strategies, etc
  • New Sales Economy  — Chad Levitt examines every nook and cranny of sales and marketing industries
  • Eyes on Sales  — Eyes on Sales gathers beginner sales tools, from articles, videos and podcasts

Image by RAWKU5 from Stock.Xchng

Live Life on Purpose: Interview with Entrepreneur Carl Taylor

Need some motivation?  How about a 24 year old who has 10 years of entreprenerial experience, is a published author, has led product sales and web design, and has already successfully bought and sold a company?  We introduce you to Carl Taylor, an emerging Gen Y entrepreneur.  Fittingly, Carl’s book is titled “Red Means Go.” Carl, based near the northern beaches of Australia, has transformed from a shy introverted kid into an inspirational young leader.  Carl took time out to share his inspiration with our Sparxoo fans.  Our interview of Carl …

Q: What does your personal brand stand for?

My personal brand stands for Living Life on Purpose, Kaizen (Continuous Improvement) and Practicality.  I’ve been called a Get Things Done Expert, I’m also known as Your Friend With Benefits… because I not only inspire and educate you but I build a relationship with you.  Ultimately I believe the best way to inspire is to lead by example.

Q:  What are the conscious choices you have made to build your personal brand?

This is an interesting question… I suppose I have consciously decided to focus my brand on the personal achievement combined with business expertise. Business is what I love and so is seeing people achieve their dreams whatever they may be… so while I have other things I have skills in, I made a conscious decision that these were the things I bring the most value to people in.

I very much made a conscious decision to always focus on practical action steps. The Kaizen Series books are all very here’s how you do it. I’ve personally spent a lot of money on books and seminars and I find far too many are this is what I did and not enough of here’s how you do it.

So I use Social Media, have a quirky business card and whenever I’m talking face to face with people etc.. I’m always portray these messages of “You can Do it” and “How can you make a business out of it”, “Here’s something you can try”.

Q:  What is your one skill or talent that has been most instrumental in your success? Why?

My ability to Get Things Done, some people talk about doing things and others just do it. I’m definitely a Ready Fire Aim personality rather than a Ready Aim Fire.  If I had thought and planned out Red Means Go! it still wouldn’t be in existence but I made a decision and then just started writing it and didn’t stop until it was finished.  For ever second you delay on something you run the risk of someone else doing it before you, or that your time on this earth will run out and you’ll never do it.

Q:  Where do you personally draw your inspiration from?

People who have been there and done what I want to do. It not only gives me someone and a strategy to model but it motivates me to get on with it. I think “If they can do it, so can I.”  Another personal inspiration for me is Superman… it’s a bit strange I know but Superman to me is all about playing to your strengths and avoiding your weaknesses. Superman’s weakness is Kryptonite so he has to avoid it and when he avoids it, he is strong, fast and on top of his game.

Playing the game of business is the same, if you’re not good at something stay away from it and work on what you are good at. Get someone else to do what you aren’t good at.

Q:  How do you take your stories and experiences to inspire other entrepreneurs?

Being only 24, allows me to connect with many young entrepreneurs on a more natural level, we can talk as equals and they can relate best to me as an example of what they can do at a young age.  For business owners and other people when I’m talking with them its my practical tips of this is what I’ve tried and the results we got, or this is what you need to do… it always leaves people not only inspired but educated.

Q:  What is your advice for young, emerging entrepreneurs who are struggling to find their way?

Try, Try, Try and then Try some more… if they are struggling to find their groove in business the only way to find it is to keep learning and keep trying new things until something fits.  So get educated, through books, seminars, workshops and dvd’s, etc.. Buy Red Means Go! **Shameless plug**

One tip that may rock the boat a little here is I would say is don’t start a business that does what you are good at! Let me explain… One of my current businesses is an IT business. I’m personally very good at computers and IT myself but the challenge I face is that I’m always drawn into the day to day operations because I’m good at it. Whereas when I owned a Gift Hamper business, putting gift hampers together was not something I was particularly good at, meaning I could just focus on growing the business and the team could take care of the gift hamper making without my input.  So I often advise that if you are a plumber thinking about starting a business, don’t start a plumbing business because all you’ll most likely end up with is a job not a business. And the same goes for whatever industry you are in.

For more on Carl, here’s a link to an Under30CEO article on Carl Taylor, Carl’s web site, as well as Carl’s Facebook page so you can become a fan.

Innovation Strategy Guide

Innovate or die. It is the Darwinian adage for nearly every industry. Innovation drives product and service performance and growth forward while giving brands a leg-up on the competition. Innovation can increase your brand relevance with consumers, while growing revenue and market share. Fund your innovation strategy.
Many of the great job creators of the past 25 years are companies that were barely visible in 1980 or even nonexistent: Starbucks, Amazon, Apple, Google, Cisco Systems, Genentech, and Amgen. Bill George, a Harvard business professor and the author of 7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis says, “All of them were founded by entrepreneurs and are run by innovative leaders. Their ingenuity created the jobs boom in those years and enabled them to dominate global markets for their products.”

Innovation Strategy

resourcepage_innovation_development_tn Successful innovations incorporate strategy and creative inspiration. The most successful innovators combine left and right brain thinking to guide innovation development and drive your brand forward.

Creativity Tools

resourcepage_innovation_inspiration_tn Where do great ideas come from? Sometimes new ideas come from customer research, and other times you need “wow” ideas that seem to appear out of thin air. To consistently spur creative thinking in your organization, consider the following creativity tools.


Best Practices in Innovation

resourcepage_innovation_bestpractices_tn Innovation strategy is one part science and two parts art.  Learn from leaders in the innovation market.  Use their insights, best practices, and inspiration as a starting point for your own innovation strategy.

Trends in Innovation

resourcepage_innovation_trends_tn As the macro-environment shifts (social, political, cultural and economic), new opportunities will emerge for creativity and innovation.

Must Read Articles: Inspiring Innovation

resourcepage_innovation_tools_tn Hitting a creative dry spell? Explore these resources to get inspired.