Using Social Media For Business

- - Adam Kidan

Using Social Media For Business by Adam KidanRegardless of how you feel about social media, it’s an essential aspect of a successful business in the modern digital age.  Figuring out what kind of social media platforms work best for your business can be hard, yet here are five important aspects to consider, based off an article I found online:

Broad audience platforms: There are two basic categories for when you’re deciding which social media platforms to use for your business: broad audience and niche platforms.  It’s a good idea to have an account on at least one broad audience platform, such as Facebook or Twitter.  There are also several advertising options, most of which are user-friendly.

Niche platforms: Once you’ve set up your Facebook and Twitter accounts, consider which other platforms would work well with your business.  For one, you need to make sure you have a firm grasp of your audience, which will let you determine which social media platforms are best for reaching them.  

Hire an expert: Small business owners and entrepreneurs often try to save money by doing everything themselves, which doesn’t always end well.  It’s a good idea to consider hiring somebody to manage your social media, who can frequently post high-quality content and attract new viewers.  

Develop meaningful content: Social media is filled with business profiles, and unique content is the best way to be heard over the white noise.  If all your posts are sales pitches, nobody will listen.  Yet if you post content that’s actually valuable to the reader, you’ll be able to improve your company’s image.  

Be persistent: You need to constantly be creating new content and finding additional ways to engage your audience.  Social media is constantly changing and evolving, so you’ll need to keep up with and adapt to the changes around you.

Why Your Employees Quit

- - Adam Kidan

Why Your Employees Quit by Adam KidanJust because somebody’s satisfied with their job doesn’t mean that they aren’t looking for new opportunities.  Therefore, it’s critical to keep up with your employees’ needs and continue to motivate and challenge them.  According to a report by Careerbuilder, 21 percent of workers plan to leave their current job this year.  Any employer knows how difficult and expensive it is to hire and train new employees.  Here are some reasons employees quit, and how you can resolve them, based off of an article I found online:

They are disrespected/undervalued: No matter how much you love your job, you’ll be more likely to quit if you feel underappreciated.  Recognizing the efforts of your employees will go a long way; even if you can’t give them raises, try organizing things like employee recognition luncheons or bonding activities such as games.  

Lack of upward mobility: The idea of doing the exact same thing for a long time is hardly appealing, and is something ambitious employees will dread.  Some employers favor family members and friends above somebody that’s more qualified.  That will create resentment among employees and encourage the best ones to leave.  If your employees don’t think they’ll be given equal access to promotions, they’ll start to look elsewhere.  Create opportunities within your organization to move up the ladder, and provide training and educational opportunities for them to upgrade their skills and network with others.

Lack of recognition or reward: Employees want to feel like you appreciate their hard work.  This can be shown in different ways, whether that’s a heartfelt thank you, a small bonus or a simple plaque.  Create opportunities to excel and be recognized and give bonuses of great work.

Discouraging employee input: Help employees feel like they’re an important part of the company by listening to what they have to say.  Otherwise, they may feel alienated and non-essential; hold weekly or bi-monthly meetings and include your employees in the decision-making process where possible.  

You don’t give them responsibilities: Employees need to know that you trust them enough to work on their own; micromanagement won’t promote any trust.  Excellent managers encourage their employees to be independent and take on extra responsibility.  

Low morale: To boost morale, encourage your employees to get involved in community projects.  Healthier employees tend to be happier as well, so offer them all sorts of health and wellness benefits.  

Sharapova’s Harvard Break

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Sharapova's harvard break by adam kidanAfter testing positive for the banned substance Meldonium at the Australian Open, tennis star Maria Sharapova received a ban set to last until Jan 26 2018.  Although Sharapova is in the midst of an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to shorten this ban, this isn’t the only thing she’s doing with her spare time.  Yesterday, she posted a photograph on social media of herself in front of a sign for Harvard Business School with a caption that read “can’t wait to start the program”.  According to Associated Press, this “program”, which takes place in the summer, is two weeks long and involves two courses.

This might not seem like much, but even a little bit of time at Harvard Business School can offer plenty of business insight.  Apart from her work as a tennis superstar and one of the highest-paid female athletes of 2016, Sharapova is the founder of the candy brand Sugarpova, so she may very well earn some valuable business skills to boost her company.  As of yet, it isn’t clear if Sharapova will earn any certification from the courses she takes, but adding the Harvard brand to her resume could help her re-enter the good graces of fans and companies; her doping scandal has already cost her promotional deals with both Nike and Porsche.  

Sharapova is hardly the first celebrity athlete to attend Harvard; in 2005 the school has developed a certificate program that’s geared towards professional football players to help them evaluate and learn potential business opportunities.  Some notable alumni include NFL cornerback Domonique Foxworth and model Tyra Banks.  

Self-Driving in Pittsburgh

- - Adam Kidan

Self-Driving in Pittsburgh by Adam KidanSince Google started work on self-driving cars, other companies have slowly but surely been sticking their toes into the field.  The concept of “self-driving cars” feels like science fiction, like something you’d see on an episode of the Jetsons, but its day could be upon us.  This past Wednesday, Uber confirmed that it’s been testing a fleet of self-driving cars on the streets of Pittsburgh.  Previously, they had said little about developing autonomous vehicles since opening the Advanced Technology Center 15 months earlier in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.  Uber cars have been seen on the roads of Pittsburgh for about a year now, mapping the city.  A few weeks ago, self-driving car tests runs started, and there have so far not been any crashes involving the cars.  Uber’s “Fusions” are outfitted with cameras, lasers and sensors that help them navigate the notoriously tricky streets of Pittsburgh.

John Bares, the head of Uber’s Pittsburgh office, came to Pittsburgh 35 years ago to study engineering at Carnegie Mellon.  He’s been building robots since 1982, headed CMU’s National Robotics Engineering Center for 13 years and was asked by Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick to help develop self-driving cars in Pittsburgh about a year and a half ago.  Bares has said that the narrow and hilly streets, haphazard parking, hazardous weather conditions and aging infrastructure make Pittsburgh the perfect place to test Uber’s self-driving cars; if these can handle Pittsburgh, they can handle anywhere!  The car will accelerate, brake, steer and perform other basic functions on its own.  If its sensors detect a car swerving into its lane or encounters something it doesn’t recognize/can’t negotiate, the car will switch out of self-driving mode with a loud “beep” and allow the driver to take control of the car.  The car’s sensors have detected potholes, parked cars sticking out into traffic, jaywalkers, bicyclists and geese.

Back in April, Uber, Ford, Google, Lyft and Volvo formed the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets to push for self-driving cars.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said that it could have self-driving car guidelines ready by July, and California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, North Dakota, Michigan, Tennessee, Florida and DC have all enacted autonomous vehicle legislation.  In Pennsylvania, lawmakers and Department of Transportation officials are working on similar laws.

If you’d like to learn more, you can click here!

Business Secrets From Ashley Alexiss

- - Adam Kidan

PBusiness secrets from ashley alexiss by Adam Kidanlus-sized model Ashley Alexiss understood that trying on new swimwear before the summer is a tough time for plenty of women, which inspired her to create a new line of swimwear, Alexiss Swimwear, designed to “embrace curves” and help women find confidence.  Since the company’s launch last year, the CEO has found success.  I recently found a piece online where she discusses what she’s learned starting this line of swimsuits, what keeps her inspired and how she’s learned to use social media in the information age.  Here’s what she has do say:

Have a mission: Alexiss started this line of swimwear to make women feel better about themselves, a sentiment echoed in the company’s slogan of “Beauty is not a size”.  Swimwear often caters to either smaller or larger women, but not as often both, and the ones that cater to larger women isn’t always flattering or stylish.  That’s why Alexiss got into this business.

Recognize great ideas: As a plus-size model, Alexiss does a lot of swim and lingerie shoots.  On social media she often had people asking her where to get what she’s wearing, which inspired her to make swimwear for everybody who has the same problem.

Partner up: Alexiss’ first partner wasn’t a good fit, as the two of them had vastly different ideas as to which direction the company should go.  Her current partner owns his own business separate from Alexiss Swimwear, allowing her to see how he operates and manages things.

Have goals: Alexiss wants to be a known and recognized brand within five years, with women getting excited about trying on new swimwear whenever they see an Alexiss swimwear store front.

Be social: Alexiss has a fairly large following on social media; her secret is to put everything, good and bad, out there, and people will often relate to it and share it, leading to a domino effect where their friends see it and share it.  Yet at the same time, be careful about how much you post.  If you’re posting too frequently, you’re going to start annoying people; Alexiss suggests two to three times a day as a maximum.

Timing is everything: When you’re using social media, timing is essential.  Peak social media times in the US are around noon and a little after work.  If you want to be international, you need to remember that a lot of your audience is awake and looking to see what you’re up to, even when you’re asleep.

Know your limits: Since she’s a public figure on Facebook, Alexiss can get around 4,000 comments for a single photo.  That means you can only respond to a handful of comments.  Alexiss checks the comments and messages every hour, since it’s important to respond to comments as a business.

Keep learning: Alexiss has had a lot of success with her business, but she still has plenty to learn.  That’s why she’s currently going to graduate school, but there are some aspects of business that you can’t learn in a classroom.

Success is up to you: It’s only natural to think that you’ve bit off more than you can chew sometimes.  But when you go through with it, you learn and become more realistic about your goals.  The only way to make things happen is to do it, do it right and learn through the process.

Stricter Regulations?

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Stricter Regulations? By Adam KidanYesterday morning, regulators released long-awaited rules that are focused on restricting how financial institutions can pay their top executives.  The new limits on banker bonuses would make the highest-paid employees at the biggest banks wait for at least four years to receive parts of their annual pay.  If these proposals are completed in the upcoming months, then banks would also have to reclaim bonuses from bankers who take risks that in turn lead to major financial losses.

This is in response to an uproar of criticism over Wall Street’s pay practices after the biggest American banks had to take government bailout money back in 2008.  This public anger has been rekindled during the 2016 presidential campaign, pressuring regulators to put tighter restrictions on Wall Street.  New rules on executive pay grew out of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, although it has since taken years to put this in practice.  Although Obama has pushed regulators to complete them, in the waning hours of his administration time has been running out fast.

The structure of executive pay packages before the financial crisis was blamed for encouraging bankers to take unnecessary risks.  Pay in some cases was set up in ways to motivate bankers to seek short-term gains even if their actions led to long-term losses.  The new rules, however, will force many banks to withhold pay for longer than in the past in an effort to ensure that top employees can be held accountable for the longer-term consequences of their risk-taking.  The proposals leave many financial firms, including large asset managers and hedge funds, shielded from the new restrictions because of how regulators defined who are subject to them.  Young Wall Street workers have already been decamping for less regulated corners of finance and corporate America.

For those people and institutions subject to rules, these new restrictions are broadly in line with changes that many banks have already been making since the 2008 recession.  For example, it’s already an industry standard to wait for three years to release stock-based bonuses, although new rules aim to push that to four years.

The regulators were supposed to propose the new rules within 90 days of Dodd-Frank’s passage.  Rather, the regulatory agencies delivered a first draft of the rules in 2011, although that was widely criticized for being too weak.  According to the previous draft, the largest banks had to hold back at least half of all incentive-based pay for three years; under the new proposals, the same banks will have to withhold 60 percent of that pay for four years.  It also applies the limits to a broader set of “material risk-takers” at big banks as opposed to just top executives.

Across the pond in Britain, banks are now forced to hold back some pay for at least seven years.  European countries have generally imposed stronger restrictions on executive compensation since the financial crisis, including some card caps on salary and bonuses.  These new American rules would only apply to incentive-based compensation that varies according to the performance of the bank and the individual executive.  Even without these rules, banks have faced pressure from regulators since the financial crisis to change how they pay their employees and make it more focused on long-term than short-term success.

Banks and other financial institutions have generally been cutting pay in recent years because of their lagging performance, and other parts of the Dodd-Frank legislation have limited their ability to take big risks and earn big profits that were common before the financial crisis.  If you’d like to learn more, you can click here!

Stocks For Entrepreneurs

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Stocks For Entrepreneurs by Adam KidanSince the concept of trading stocks first took off in the Netherlands in the 17th century, it’s been viewed by many as a way to make quick money.  While trading stocks is nothing new, you do need to learn how to adapt if you want to make it work for you.  I recently came across an article that shared some tips for entrepreneurs who want to make money with stocks, listed below:

Don’t settle for a profession or corporate career: Plenty of people think that law, medicine or becoming an executive is the way to becoming a millionaire.  While you can definitely make a lot of money in these fields, they often have a limit to how much you can earn from your salary; if you really want unlimited income potential, then you need to think of non-traditional options, which is where stocks often come into play.

Be grateful for small profits: The author of the article spoke about how by taking a few thousand dollars in profits for every stock trade, he was able to gradually turn a small amount of money into millions.

Stock trading is equal opportunity: No matter your background, you can make a living trading so long as you take the time, put in the work and know what you’re doing.  Don’t worry if you’re too young or old to make money; such obstacles will only get in your way to ultimate success.

Try out various things: There isn’t a “set way” to become a millionaire through trading.  You need to test out different strategies and hypothesis before you find one you like, and then stick with that to see if it works.  When something doesn’t work, you need to be willing to abandon that, and when something does work, you need to be willing to bet bigger.

Utilize new technologies: Technology plays a huge part in the modern world of online trading.  Just 15 years ago, for instance, the Internet was new for financial research, but now is the center of the entire business.  Nowadays there are even more tools, apps and programs that can help you gain insight and make trading even easier.

Adapting to the environment: The stock market can be pretty volatile, and while that does seem scary, the key is to adapt to the market environment.

Ways You Can Sharpen Your Mind

- - Adam Kidan

Newt GingrichSuccessful entrepreneurs need to be able to think quickly and stay on their toes.  It’s easy to get caught up in the habitual drone of everyday life, which leads to stagnation.  I recently came across an article that shares some steps for keeping your mind sharp, listed below:

Break free from routine: A habitual mind is restricted.  According to a study by the Association for Psychological Science, those who engage in experiences that are new, challenging and exciting will more likely retain high cognitive functioning.  Passive involvement won’t do it, though.  Try once each week to do something outside of your comfort zone, and you might find out there’s something you love.

Keep moving: Exercise has its obvious physical benefits, but a healthy body is also closely connected with a healthy mind.  Physical activity has positive effects on mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, which often prevent people from getting things done.

Get enough sleep: Entrepreneurs often have to sacrifice sleep for hard work.  But if you aren’t sleeping enough, it could be why your personal or business development has slowed down.  A Brown University study has confirmed that sufficient sleep “locks in” knowledge gained from learning new tasks.  Most people don’t know that even if they can choose which time to go to sleep, drowsiness can involuntarily “switch off” the brain, making much of the learning or working you do from that point relatively useless.

Keep circadian rhythms on-track: A circadian rhythm is the nearly-24 hour cycle that regulates organisms’ physiological and psychological processes.  Though this mostly operates on its own, it can be slightly manipulated by light and temperature.  In order to regulate your circadian rhythm, expose yourself to natural light in the mornings and afternoons by keeping windows open.

Eat brain-enhancing foods: Foods that are rich in iron, such as meat, eggs and dark-colored vegetables, may be responsible for improved concentration and a higher IQ.  Whole-grain cereals and breads, which contain the vitamin B1, are thought to improve the speed of your mental processes.  Antioxidants may slow the detrimental effects that free radicals have on the brain, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids may fight off depression and improve cognition over time.

Laugh: Laughter and other forms of positive affect may improve your ability to think creatively and look at problems from a new perspective.  It’s recommended that you laugh regularly to release endorphins, reduce stress hormone cortisol and help eliminate epinephrine.  it can even affect the number of intestinal flora in the human body.

Goldman Downsizing?

- - Adam Kidan, Business
Lloyd Blankfein

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs

With chaos in the market, lowering oil prices and concerns about Deutsche Bank AG, shares for Goldman Sachs have begun to fall.  In response, the group’s CEO Lloyd Blankfein has signaled that the bank could end up cutting costs in the near future.  While speaking at the Credit Suisse financial services forum in Miami, Blankfein said that Goldman Sachs could possibly do a lot more “on the cost side” if it was necessary to deliver a return.  Saying that “necessity is the mother of invention”, he spoke about the need to take a concerted look at continued cost cuts.

Like its peers on Wall Street, Goldman has been struggling with low interest rates and strict regulations in the aftermath of 2008, which have lowered profits in areas like fixed income trading, which had previously been a wildly profitable venture.  Blankfein has said that the bank has already taken measures to cut headcount, which it has reduced 10 percent in its fixed income businesses since 2012.  During that time, Goldman has increased 11 percent overall in an effort to meet regulatory and compliance needs.

Currently, about 25 percent of Goldman’s employees are in lower-cost places, such as Bengaluru in India and Salt Lake City and Dallas out west.  In addition, Goldman has been looking to develop more open source software to reduce payments to outside vendors.  So far this year, shares of Goldman have declined 17 percent, which has raised a red flag to some.  Nonetheless, Blankfein is optimistic, believing that the global markets will improve, but hasn’t spoken about how that’s going to happen.

If you’d like to learn more, you can click here!

Signs You Shouldn’t Take a Job

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Scary job interviewLooking for a job is a lot like modern-day dating: most of it is done online, reaching out to find the right one is always awkward and if you’re not careful you could end up with a bad one.  Being unemployed isn’t fun, but neither is spending eight hours of day at a miserable place you hate.  But don’t let that happen to you!  When you’re at an interview, you should keep your eye out for any “red flags”.  Scope out the office for any telltale signs of a bad boss and burnt-out employees.  In case you’re bad at figuring out the truth, I recently found an infographic that shares ten different red flags that could spell trouble.  Some of the points made are listed below:

High turn rate: Imagine you’re at a company that’s been around for a long time, but everybody who works there seems to be new.  A high turnover rate for employees is always troublesome.

A trash-talking boss: If an interviewer complains about their current staff during the interview, you should watch out.  Already bad-mouthing prospective co-workers to a potential employee is a sign of a domineering boss; if they talk like that about their current employees so freely, who knows what they’ll say about their future employees?

Vague words: Random buzzwords and vague phrases are hardly a good thing.  They suggest a company without any clear idea about how to utilize you, and might imagine you filling several roles simultaneously.  If you like the startup life, this could be what you’re looking for, but it could also be a sign of a dangerously disorganized company.

Overselling: Overselling a job means that it’s usually too good to be true, especially when the job description is vague and they haven’t asked you if you have relevant experience.

Nobody’s touching it: If you keep seeing that the same job is being advertised over and over again, that most likely means something bad.

No clear career path: Nothing is worse than a dead-end job.  You don’t want to be stuck somewhere where there’s no mention of a path for career progression.

Honesty: Ask any prospective co-workers what the best and worst thing about their jobs are.  If the boss isn’t around, they can be really honest.

They want your money: No company that wants money from you to being working there is going to be anywhere good.  A good job only wants your time and service, not any of your money.

Employees react badly to their boss: Take a look at how employees act when their boss is speaking.  If they’re looking at the floor and act like they don’t want to be there, this boss could either be domineering or embarrassing as a leader.

Bad body language: Look at the people you pass in the office and see what their expressions and body language look like.  If it looks like they don’t want to be there, then there’s a good chance you won’t want to be either.