The Modern Manager

- - Adam Kidan
Angry Boss

The stereotypical angry boss approach simply doesn’t work anymore.

The business world is changing. From workers preferring more flexibility to companies putting a greater emphasis on social media to companies implementing more and more information technologies, the business world is different from how it was ten years ago. As the world changes, the roles and responsibilities of people in business is changing.  Forbes recently shared an article about the qualities of a “modern manager.”

In particular, the things that made a manager effective fifty years ago, might not make him as effective today. Here are three qualities a good manager should have today.

1.The manager has to care more about their employees. As the country shifts toward a more service based economy, employee satisfaction now has a greater impact on the value of a company. Happy workers are exponentially better workers, especially when a skilled service is needed from them.

2.Managers need to understand technology enough, regarding how it affects their company and the competition. Being able to evolve and adapt to these technologies will allow them to stay ahead of the competition.

3.Instead of hiding information, managers should be willing to share. Because of the internet, losing workers can be quick and unexpected. When you share information about the company with your employees though, employees are more likely to feel like a part of the team. They will want to help out, and they will form an identity with the company, rather than go looking for the next best thing for themselves. Of course, not all information should be shared; but there should be a good amount of information sharing to make them feel like they belong.

The long and short is that a manager who might have been deemed effective 30 years ago, might not be able to thrive today unless they adapt to some of these changes.

Maria Sharapova Takes Product Placement to New Level

- - Adam Kidan
Adam Kidan on Sugarpova Name Change

Sharapova to Sugarpova. Shameless plug or brilliant publicity stunt?

In the crowded advertising landscape, businesses are constantly looking for ways to differentiate their products.  Using celebrity status has long been a staple of marketing and advertising, but tennis star, Maria Sharapova is taking that concept to the next level.  A recent USA Today Sports article discussed how Sharapova is attempting to combine product placement with her star status.

The stunt?  Sharapova is changing her name to “Sugarpova” for the two weeks of the U.S. Open in order to promote her line of candy with the same name.  Sharapova has reportedly asked the Florida Supreme Court to fast track her request in time for the Open.  There are questions about whether or not the name change would get approved by the court, nevermind whether or not the USTA would actually use the name in its official rosters and other materials.  The USA Today article also asks the question of whether not not TV coverage would use the new name since it would be only temporary.

These questions though, are somewhat irrelevant since it seems that regardless of approvals, Sharapova has already achieved her goal to a degree.  If news outlets like USA Today and others are covering the attempted name change, Sharapova is already getting a ton of free press for her line of gummy candy.  As they say, any press is good press.

Sharapova’s stunt calls to mind similar attempts at generating buzz around a product.  A recent trend is the annual list of “banned Super Bowl ads.”  Company’s often produce ads knowing they will not get approved to run during the telecast and then attempt to create viral intrigue by driving people to the “banned” ad.  It seems with all the hoops Sharapova would have to jump through in order to push through the name change, she (or her publicity team) may be trying something similar.

We’ll have to stay tuned to see if Maria Sugarpova ends up playing in the U.S. Open, but it’s already clear that she just aced the media in getting some buzz gratis.

Online Cable: The Changing Landscape of Television Delivery

- - Adam Kidan
Streaming services and traditional cable companies are both trying to adap to the changing content delivery landscape.

Streaming services and traditional cable companies are both trying to adapt to the changing content delivery landscape.

If you want to be a mover and shaker in the media business in 2013, the changing landscape of content delivery should something you watch closely.  With services like Netflix and Amazon Prime recently making a splash by attempting to transition to content creators as well as delivery systems, it’s no surprise that a familiar name is taking another step toward throwing its hat in the ring.

Ubiquitous tech giant, Google, has been in the news recently as they have been pitching a streaming television service similar to Netflix, but that would carry traditional cable channels to major media companies.  The proposal is lacking in details, but as this Wall Street Journal article reports, Google’s service could serve as an alternative to traditional cable providers.

These types of services have been an eventuality ever since internet speeds were able to handle HD video and there have been years of speculation on what something like this would actually look like.  One of the more glaring gaps in traditional cable service has been the lack of a la carte program.  Make no mistake.  This is not an accident.  Cable providers are leery of providing individual channels for fear that consumers would only be willing to pay for the ultra popular ones, leaving the niche offerings to wither.

Many people see online streaming services as a potential way to disrupt this system, but there are complications.  As the WSJ piece notes, providers who purchase larger packages usually get bulk rates, allowing them to pass the lower prices off on to the consumers.  If Google television service provided a la carte service, they may be forced to command a higher subscription rate.

Another issue not mentioned by the article is that many of the traditional cable providers have not been resting on their laurels when it comes to creating content.  Time Warner owns many of the cable channels it provides, and Comcast, the largest cable provider in the country, owns NBC Universal.  This could be a major stumbling block for services like Google’s as the may encounter media conglomerates who prefer to deliver their content through their own systems.

Startups: There’s More to Think About than Cash

- - Adam Kidan

Perhaps the biggest challenge to startups today is securing funding.  Funding for hiring, funding for office space, etc… Whatever it may be, new companies are always looking for cash to get the ball rolling.  So if you score big in funding, you’re a guaranteed success, right?

Wrong.  Hey all, it’s Adam Kidan again, and this time commenting on a really interesting article I just read on entrepreneur.com, about a company called Better Place.  The mission of Better Place, the article tells us, was to make electric cars both more affordable and more accessible worldwide.  How did they plan to do this?  By creating a network of battery stations around the world, where cars could swap out their used up batteries for more power.

Better Place was forced to close operations after raising $836 million in initial funding.

Better Place was forced to close operations after raising $836 million in initial funding 

Sounds like a great idea, right?  Investors thought so to0.  VC firms pounced on the idea, including investors like Morgan Stanley and General Electric.  In total, Better Place raised $836 million in initial funds upon their founding in 2007.

Fast-forward six years to May of 2013.  Better Place has now been forced to shut down its operations.  That’s right; a firm with over $800 million in its pocket is no longer in operation, according to the article.  Here’s a few reasons entrepreneur.com offers as to why, and some suggestions on how new entrepreneurs can learn from this mess.

First, make sure you’re immersed in your target market segment.  Distance can be tough on any business relationship… Especially when that distance is halfway around the world, as was the case with Better Place.  According to the article, Better Place was hoping to open these battery stations in Denmark, Australia, and Israel.  But Better Place’s headquarters were in Palo Alto, California.  Without an understanding of the area and culture of their target market, Better Place was unable to effectively implement their business plan.

Next, you want to make sure to build from the ground up, entrepreneur.com says.  Start small, and prove yourself by climbing a ladder of minor successes.  Better Place was of the mindset that their plan would attract millions of customers.  Had they operated on a smaller scale, however, they perhaps could have identified flaws in their service at a much lower cost, made adjustments, and continued to grow.

Lastly, the article advises not to lean back on past accomplishments.  Unlike Better Place, be sure to ground yourself in current data, current problems, and current solutions.  Past strategies may have worked in the past, but it’s important to re-evaluate and take things one situation at a time.

Don’t be scared though, entrepreneurs.  You can still have great success.  Take the advice mentioned in the article, do your research, and make sure you learn from the mistakes of companies like Better Place.