The Art of Collaboration

By Cheval John

Disclaimer: I am an Amazon Affiliate and I make a commission based on the recommendation of a book

Is it possible to work together without meeting each other in person?

In this day and age, the answer is yes.

Technology has made it easier for anyone to collaborate on projects from anywhere in the world.

They don’t have to fly to one location to work together like they did before the evolution of technology.

That is why most businesses are allowing their employees to work from home because they see the savings in not letting them working in one place.

It doesn’t hurt if they meet in person once or possibly twice a year to deepen the friendship with their colleagues.

Examples of companies or people who are using technology to their advantage to collaborate on projects without first meeting in person are Brian Fanzo and Rachel Miller, Basecamp and Erin Baebler/Lara Galloway.

1. Brian Fanzo and Rachel Miller

Brian Fanzo and Rachel Miller are considered one of the best people who knows how to interact with their community on social media.

Mr. Fanzo is the Chief Digital Strategist and Partner at Broadsuite Media Group while Ms. Miller is the Chief Social Listener for Pipeliner CRM.

They host a Twitter chat called, #sbizhour, previously known as #sshour.

#Sbizhour deals with how businesses can be better at interacting with their customers and building a community.

The chat has been around for a year and has gained a lot of attention in the world of Twitter because it trends on the social media platform most of the time.

What is really cool about the both of them is that they have never met in person yet.

“Rumor” is that they will finally meet in person this year.

2. Basecamp

Basecamp, formerly known as 37 Signals, is one of the most interesting software companies in the world.

They started out as a web design company when it was founded in 1999.

One of the ways they marketed themselves was by starting a blog called “Signal vs Noise” in 2000 and sharing their experience about running a business, their thoughts on the industry, etc.

You can argue that they started their blog at the right time because blogging was in it’s beta stages.

As documented in their book, “ReWork,” they could not find the right software to get their work done.

So they decided to create their own software called Basecamp.

Once they showed Basecamp to their clients, they told them that they needed this for their businesses.

In the world of entrepreneurship, you have to know when to pivot your company because of market changes.

If you stay with the old business model, then you will end up losing out and your company will suffer for it.

Jason Fried, one of the original founders, and David Heinemeier Hannson recognized the change and pivoted Basecamp to solely being a software company in 2004.

As of now, the company has 36 employees.

What sets them apart is that the majority of their employees are located in different parts of the world while the rest of them including the founders are based in Chicago.

They don’t have to worry about communicating with each other on projects because they use their own products.

That is one of the best ways to sell your product to customers because you are using it yourself.

And if you want to learn from them, get their book, ReWork.

I can guarantee that you will love it (I have read the book over 13 times).

3. Lara Galloway and Erin Baebler

Many are recognizing the importance of entrepreneurship.

It is more evident that women are seeing the importance of running their own business.

According to the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), there are more than 9.1 million companies owned by women.

My guess is that 1/3 of them are owned by “mompreneurs,” a women who is an entrepreneur and a mother

They see that running a business is the best path to securing their own destiny.

Mompreneurs might have difficulty in being both a business owner and a mother at the same time because they don’t want to feel like they are neglecting their duties in being a parent and vice-versa.

Lara Galloway and Erin Baebler understands the challenges of being a mompreneur.

As a result from their experience, they co-authored the book, “Moms Mean Business,” which achieved Amazon Best-Seller status.

What is really unique is that the both of them did not meet in person while they co-authored the book.

Ms. Galloway explained how they got the book written on my podcast, “What’s The Word?”

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The only time they met in person was when they launched the book.

So if a person believe that they can’t collaborate on a project with someone they have not met in person, I hope they will follow the examples listed above.

Because the internet have made the world a borderless society.

And it is highly possible to build great friendships and collaborate without first meeting in person.

What Does Five Years Of Work Experience Means?

By Cheval John

Photo Courtesy of Stuart Miles

Photo Courtesy of Stuart Miles

You have probably seen this in job descriptions when you are looking for work.

The description that the employer post says they are looking for a person who have five years or more of work experience.

And the most frustrating part of this is most of the descriptions are probably for entry-level positions.

You might be thinking, “What Does Five Or More Years of Work Experience Really Means?”

It is “understandable” that employers are very choosy on who they hire.

They are the ones who are spending the money and want to be careful on who the right person for the position will be.

They are also burdened with the coverage of their employees.

And in this day and age, they don’t want to go through months and months of training the new employee on how their systems work which comes with a cost.

So if they can find a person who meets their requirements, it will save them a whole lot of money.

Though it is good news in the short term, it is bad in the long term.

What they don’t realize is that they are hindering their progress of hiring the right person because they are looking for that so-called, “Rock Star.”

They feel that the so-called “Rock Star” will solve their problems and over deliver.

At the same time, they believe that they will not have to pay them the salary they deserve.

When companies have that type of thinking of looking for the “rock star,” they are missing the very people who are very talented in plain sight.

And when they miss the talent, it is actually costing them more money than if they had hired the employee.

They are also causing low moral in their company because they have put pressure on the current employees to deliver great work with less resources.

And then they wonder why they can’t find the right people to fill their company’s position.

And if you are the person who are trying to find your dream job and are hindered when you see the required “five years of experience,” here are a couple of suggestions:

1. Get a Part-Time Job. The reason is because it will allow you to have consistent cash flow while you are waiting to achieve your ideal workplace

2. Start A Side Business. If you trying to get work that fit your skills like writing, public relations, etc., then starting a company or even “freelancing” your service will give you a head start in gaining your dream work. You might eventually love your “freelancing” business to the point that you might forget about seeking employment.

3. Have a Strong Social Media Presence: Everybody is an influencer. If you can showcase how efficient you are on social media, then you have a great chance of wowing your potential employer.
And the chances of building trust with CEOs, Human Resource professionals, etc. on group chats on social media, will put you ahead of everyone else who are only putting out resumes and hoping for someone to see it among equally great resumes.

4. Start A Podcast: Podcasting is the lowest of competitions out there. You could possibly interview the owner of a company and ask them about how they decided to create their business and get your foot in the door. In addition to this article I wrote for Millennial CEO, here is another reason why you should podcast. Yesterday, Spotify, which has 70 million listeners, announced that they are adding video and podcasting to their music streaming service. That is a huge opportunity for podcasters to gain more listeners in addition to iTunes and Stitcher. If that does not convince you, then I don’t know what will.

When you make a concerted effort to create your own opportunities, you might end up attracting the right employer who will see your talent.

That in turn will allow you to show them what they were missing when they were searching for that “rock star” employee.

Hopefully, they will finally see that the “five years of work experience” in their job description is not really relevant anymore.

Creating More Options For Your Future

By Cheval John

Disclaimer: I am an Amazon Affiliate and I receive a commission based off of recommendations of books.

I remembered the day I “received” my first college degree.

The atmosphere was really cool on that May of 2008 evening.

Mind you, I had already graduated with my Associates Degree in December of 2007.

The community college system decided to hold one ceremony for people who had graduated the previous fall, about to graduate in the spring and summer time.

For four years, I was working towards obtaining the first degree which led to me receiving my Bachelor’s Degree in 2009.

I had started college late at the age where most was receiving their degrees.

I was so focused on getting the degree as quick as I could that I prolonged the process of earning the degree.

I had seen many people who was making the money at their dream job thanks to the degree that they held.

It was standard for anyone who had a degree to obtain the great job with a great salary.

I was so ready to get out of the quote and quote part time job and joining the workforce where I thought people were working at a “stable” job.

I was soaking it all in and realizing that I was one step closer to finally joining the workforce and being able to finally achieve financial independence.

As the graduation ceremony went on, the speaker, who was a professor at the community college system, spoke about the different reasons of having a college degree.

One of the reasons he gave was the fact that you had more “options.”

Now when I heard that, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Sure I already knew the importance of a college degree.

I spent time looking at all of the statistics of the earning potential of those who held a college degree.

Like this one by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2008 report via the American Radio Works.com website which stated that a person who held an associate degree had a median earning of $42,000 while a person who held a bachelor’s degree had median earnings of $55,700 dollars.

The same report indicated that a person with a Master’s Degree had an earning of $91,000 and a doctorate degree holder would have a median earning of $100,000.

With those numbers, I had felt that I had finally achieved the goal of earning a college degree.

And according to the professor who had spoke about having more “options” because of the degree, I was thinking that I was very close to breaking out of the “unstable” part-time jobs.

Many did not foresee what was about to happen later in 2008.

Everyone was living the life because of the U.S. economy being stable.

The ones who were working in the stable jobs had the degrees and also seemingly had more options.

That statement of having more options with a college degree would not remain true thanks to the sudden “Great Recession” that took everyone by surprise.

The housing bubble burst.

Lehman Brothers went under and Fannie Mae was also under.

Stocks drop to a point that it caused panic in Wall Street.

The ones who were living the high life and were at their respective companies were suddenly out of work.

They did not see the sudden layoff coming.

The so-called “American Dream” of where people have the stable job and the white picket fence was over.

Even with the stock market rebounding, companies are still not hiring.

That is leaving many to wonder when the “middle class” was going to return so that everything will return back to normal.

What they don’t realize is that we are in the “New Normal.*”

They don’t understand that the jobs are permanently gone because companies are shipping most of the jobs overseas because it is saving them money.

I can say for certain that I saw this first hand when a newspaper shut down the sports reporter position after the original person left.

They saw it as an efficient way to save the paper more money.

What many should be doing right now is to create their own work and be in control of their destiny.

According to this article by Vivian Giang of Business Insider.com, 40% of the American workforce will be freelancers by 2020.

So if they are at the stable job and are making a living, they should create a side business so when they do get laid off, they will have something to supplement their income.

Nick Loper, who runs Side Hustle Nation.com, certainly has done a lot of side-hustle work over the years.

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He has been an editor for authors, interviewed other people who have created side businesses that eventually led to their full time entrepreneurial journey on his Side Hustle Nation podcast, have written 6 books including repurposing his last two books from his podcast, “The Side Hustle Path Parts 1 and 2,” etc.

You must create your own work, whether it is on the side or full time.

The reason is you will have more options when the sudden layoff hits you.

Are you prepared for the New Normal? Have you created a side business? You can leave a comment below.

*Term New Normal was first said I believe by Hank Blank

The Stars Do Not Always Shine

By Cheval John

Photo courtesy of Victor Habbick

Photo courtesy of Victor Habbick

Many sports teams around the world have developed their brands due to the championships that they won.

The New York Yankees is one team that most of the world recognize because of their 27 Major League Baseball championships they have won in baseball.

Notice I did not say “World Series Championships.”

In the National Football League (NFL), the most recognizable brand whether you love them or hate them, is the Dallas Cowboys.

They have always found a way to remain relevant despite being mediocre for about two decades before they won their division and a playoff game last year.

And in the world of soccer (football in the rest of the planet), everyone recognize teams like Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich.

Each of these clubs have a rich history of winning championships in their respective leagues and the UEFA Champions League.

They are also among the richest clubs in the world according to the 2014 Forbes rankings.

And guess where Real Madrid was at?

No.1. with a value of 3.44 billion dollars.

It is not an accident that Real Madrid is No.1.

Even though they were dominant in Spain’s La Liga for most of their existence, they figured out that “star power” was what brought their fans to the matches.

The club was facing a huge debt at the time when they brought in Florentino Perez as the “president” in 2000.

Perez implemented the “Galacticos” policy in which put the focus on signing world class players that will allow Real Madrid to market their brand to their fans.

As a result, he signed recognizable football players like Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo. etc.

It took a special coach to manage these world class players and Vicente del Bosque was the right person for the work.

He led Real Madrid to an Intercontinental Crown and UEFA Champions League crown in 2002 and a La Liga title in 2003.

Unfortunately, del Bosque was relieved of his duties after the 2003 season.

My guess was that they were some football players on the team that was not happy with their playing time.

Real Madrid signed Manchester United’s David Beckham that same year.

It was a smart strategy on their part and has allowed them to be one of the most recognizable brands in the world.

This policy has continued as they signed more star players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Gareth Bale

During the 2013-14, Real Madrid won the Copa del Rey tournament against arch-rival Barcelona and the UEFA Champions League crown after defeating cross-town Atletico Madrid 4-1 in extra time.

Real Madrid added more star players like Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez during the summer of 2014.

Rodriguez got on Real Madrid and many other’s radar after he scored 6 goals in five matches during his first World Cup appearance last year.

Despite the additions, Real Madrid was not able to duplicate last year’s success though they were favored to repeat.

The Galacticos was trailing Juventus 2-1 entering the second leg of their semifinal matchup.

Real Madrid had an away goal in their favor due to the UEFA rules of which an away goal is the decider.

If X, which is the visiting team, scores two goals and Y, which is the home team, score one goal in the first leg of the knock out stages, then Y will have to score two away goals in the second leg and prevent X from scoring a goal in order to move on to the next round.

Real Madrid, who was the home team in the second leg, had to score one or more goals and prevent Juventus from scoring an away if they wanted to make it back to the finals.

Real Madrid had gotten their home goal thanks to a penalty shot by Cristiano Ronaldo that tied the aggregate at 2 and put them in position to move on to final due to the away goal.

However, they could not hang on as Juventus’ Alvaro Morata scored the much needed away goal in the second half and was able to hang on for the 3-2 aggregate win to move on to the finals and knock out the star-studded Galacticos.

The most interesting part of this narrative is that Morata is a Real Madrid “reject.”

Morata, the Madrid, Spain native, did not have much playing time while he was on the Real Madrid squad.

As a result, he was dealt to Juventus last year.

Real Madrid believed that the star power was going to get them back to the final.

They did not realized that sending Morata to Juventus would come back to haunt them.

Morata was the person who scored one of the two home goals for Juventus in the first leg and then put the nail in the coffin of Real Madrid with the crucial away goal.

And the fact that Morata did not “celebrate” those two goals showed his deep respect for the club because it allowed him to be where he is at in his football career.

There is also a possibility that Real Madrid might not win the La Liga crown as they are four points behind Barcelona with two games to play.

So if they fail to win La Liga in addition to their UEFA Champions League failure, there is a possibility that they could break up the squad and let go of current head coach Carlo Ancelloti because of their failure and their “infighting.”

So the lesson business owners can learn from “Real Madrid” is that:

You should not focus on hiring “rock stars” for your company because you will have to do everything you can to satisfy their egos.

The “rock stars” will let you down most of the time.

A person who you think is not a great fit for your company, might turn out to be the best person for your company because they could end up helping your competitor to be more successful and knock you out of business.

You cannot panic and let go of people when things are not going your way.

Lastly, you can’t expect to win them all because if you do, you get so spoiled by the victories that you will miss out on opportunities to teach your employees on becoming great leaders through the ups and downs.

To close out, here are some of the lyrics from the Rolling Stones, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” that shows why no one including Real Madrid can’t always get what they want.

“No, you can’t always get what you want
aaaahhwaw
But if you try sometime, you just might find
You get what you need”

What are you thoughts on having only a star-recognized team if you run a business? Should you follow the foot steps of Real Madrid? You can leave your comments below.

How To Convince People That You Are “Insane”?

By Cheval John

Most of the people were raised to the drum of “If you want a really great and stable job, you need to gain a quality education.”

They go to high school and learn about subjects that they are not interested in.

They study really hard for the SATs and ACTs so that they can make a high enough score to get into the best universities that money can buy.

When they get over that hurdle and know that they are “college material,” they are looking through different colleges to see which ones will get them towards the goals of attaining the all illustrious degree.

If they are a five-star athlete, recruiters from major colleges are paying visits to their home to try and sell to them their school and why they should compete for them.

They are continuously counting down to the day when they are finally free from the rigors of high school and are out of their parents watchful eye.

For most, they have selected the university that they want to attend close to the day of graduation.

If they are a five-star athlete (a.k.a. football), they are making their announcement on the university of their choice in front of a large television audience dubbed as “National Signing Day” broadcasted on major national networks like ESPNU, Fox College Sports, Big Ten Network, etc.

Then that day arrives when they achieved their high school diploma and are excited about the possibilities of going to college.

Once they arrive on the college campus, reality sinks in of achieving “independence” and the opportunity to choose which major they want to study.

They put in the grueling hours of doing labs, homework, writing papers, studying for exams for the four years (six years for some) to achieve the elusive goal of a college degree.

They want to be among those who made it through the rigorous demands of the university and proclaim that they are a college graduate.

They do not want to be among the majority who failed to achieve the college degree because that would be a failure not only to themselves, but their parents who spent their hard earned money to send them to college.

If they make the 40% of people who achieve their college degrees according to this 2014 story by NPR.org, they believe they are set for life.

The day arrives when they walk across the aisle to receive their college degrees and are excited about the possibilities that are waiting for them.

When most of the college graduates achieve their first entry-level job, they are excited to start the track to promotion.

They are in the workforce earning the salary, living the “American Dream” that they grew up with.

All of a sudden, they got an epiphany that they want to strike out on their own and follow their dreams.

When they tell their family, friends, etc about the decision, they wonder if they have gone “insane.”

They are wondering why you left that great company that have the benefits to go out into the unknown world of entrepreneurship.

Most have probably tried to convince the aspiring entrepreneur that 8 out of 10 new businesses fail within the first 18 months of operation according to this Forbes article “Five Reasons 8 Out of 10 Businesses Fail” by Eric T. Wagner via Bloomblerg Businessweek.

Though they are well meaning, they try to bring you back from your “insanity” of starting a business and to reconsider your decision to become an entrepreneur.

However, you don’t relent and decide to start your very own business.

I highly suspect that Brandon Sobotka heard the same concerns from his closest friends when he started his company, “Integrity Human Performance.”

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Many might not have understand his vision of helping people who are either entrepreneurs or business leaders, to increase their productivity and profitability without overworking themselves to death.

Even if you try to explain to them why you have to follow your destiny of owning a business and the desire to make the world a better place, they still believe that you are “insane.”

In their minds, the reasons are valid because you are the one who have to figure out a way everyday to make the venture work.

It makes sense to them that you are insane because you are going into unknown territory of entrepreneurship.

So what should you do if you have a tough time in convincing your friends and family of why you decided to become an entrepreneur and leave the perks of the company that provides you a “stable” salary?

Don’t waste your time explaining to them the reason why you became an entrepreneur.

What you should do is come up with creative ways to make your company a success.

When they see the results from your hard work to build your company into a profitable business the right way, they will understand to a degree your decision to become an entrepreneur.

Maybe they will get inspired by your success and decide to become an entrepreneur themselves and hopefully realize that you were not insane after all.