A former West Virginia official who was ousted after calling Michelle Obama an 'ape in heels' admitted to defrauding FEMA out of $18000
A former West Virginia official who was ousted after calling Michelle Obama an 'ape in heels' admitted to defrauding FEMA out of $18,000
AP Photo/Steve Helber
A former West Virginia official who lost her job after calling Michelle Obama an "ape in heels" has pleaded guilty to defrauding the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) out of more than $18,000.
Pamela Taylor, 57, last week admitted to falsely registering for more than $18,000 in FEMA disaster relief benefits after historic flooding devastated Clay County, West Virginia, in June 2016, according to a Department of Justice press release.
According to the Department of Justice, Taylor claimed her home was damaged by the floods and that she had to live in a rental unit. In reality, her home was undamaged and she had never moved, the Department of Justice said.
She pleaded guilty to embezzlement after an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security and the state Commission on Special Investigations revealed her home had not been damaged, the Huffington Post reported.
As part of a plea agreement on Tuesday, Taylor agreed to pay restitution of $18,149.04.
She faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of as much as $500,000 when she’s sentenced in May.
"The flood was a natural disaster. Stealing from FEMA is a manmade disaster," U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said in a statement published in the Department of Justice's press release. "Taylor's fraud scheme diverted disaster benefits from our most desperate and vulnerable, those most in need of help."
Special Agent in Charge Mark Tasky of DHS-OIG said in the Department of Justice's press release that taking advantage of funds "misappropriates taxpayer dollars, reduces monies available to true victims, and erodes public confidence in relief programs."
"In July 2016, after the good people of West Virginia were devastated by severe storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides the month prior, the Defendant knowingly submitted a fraudulent application for disaster relief, in order to enrich herself and divert critical funds away from true disaster victims," Tasky said.
According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Taylor's information in Department of Justice documents matches the residency and name of the Pamela Taylor who was ousted from her job as director of the Clay County Development Corporation in 2016, when she wrote a racist remark about then-first lady Michelle Obama on Facebook.
The comment came after President Donald Trump won the 2016 election, NBC News reported.
"It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House," she said, apparently commenting on Melania Trump becoming first lady. "I'm tired of seeing a Ape in heels."
via Business Insider https://read.bi/1IpULic
February 18, 2019 at 03:30PM
(Podcast) Barbara Corcoran Reveals How to Not Be Afraid of Taking Risks
Barbara Corcoran is now known as a real estate mogul and one of the most recognizable investors on the Emmy award winning series Shark Tank. But when she started what would become the Corcoran Group, she had just left her job as a waitress and had a $1,000 loan in her pocket. Over her 25 years in business, Corcoran grew that loan into a real estate empire worth $5 billion dollars. As an investor on shark tank, she has backed over 80 companies. She is also a bestselling author and the host of the podcast Business Unusual with Barbara Corcoran. On this episode of How Successs Happens, Corcoran shared with us the biggest lessons she’s learned about business and entrepreneurship.
via Entrepreneur http://bit.ly/1V7CpeP
February 18, 2019 at 02:25PM
Netflix canceled 'The Punisher' and 'Jessica Jones' but the Marvel TV shows were doomed a long time ago
Netflix canceled 'The Punisher' and 'Jessica Jones,' but the Marvel TV shows were doomed a long time ago
Netflix's Marvel purge is complete.
The streaming giant canceled the remainder of its Marvel TV shows on Monday, "The Punisher" and "Jessica Jones," Deadline first reported. Netflix released the second season of "The Punisher" last month, and will still release the third, and final, season of "Jessica Jones." A release date hasn't been announced yet.
"We are grateful to Marvel for five years of our fruitful partnership and thank the passionate fans who have followed these series from the beginning," Netflix said in a statement to Deadline.
Netflix canceled three other Marvel shows last year — "Luke Cage," "Iron Fist," and "Daredevil" — suggesting "The Punisher" and "Jessica Jones" were on the chopping block, as well. The news comes as Disney, which owns Marvel, prepares to launch its own streaming service called Disney+ to compete with Netflix later this year.
But there were signs that Netflix's Marvel shows were in trouble regardless.
Data provided to Business Insider showed that interest in the shows had dropped significantly since their first seasons. A social-media analysis by Crimson Hexagon in October, after "Luke Cage" and "Iron Fist" were canceled, showed that buzz around the two shows, as well as for "Daredevil" and "Jessica Jones," had fallen dramatically over time.
Data from analytics company Jumpshot showed that viewership for "The Punisher" season two dropped 40% in its first weekend of release last month compared to 2017's first season.
Read more of Business Insider's coverage of Netflix's Marvel shows:
via Business Insider https://read.bi/1IpULic
February 18, 2019 at 02:18PM
Use Influencer Marketing Like The PGA Tour And Darius Rucker
The PGA TOUR has stepped up its influencer marketing game with the announcement that three-time GRAMMY Award winner Darius Rucker is now the official brand ambassador for the organization.
But what makes a good choice for a brand ambassador?
I caught up with Rucker after a round at the 2019 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in Pebble Beach, California where he was competing as part of the celebrity field.
The tournament, founded by crooner Bing Crosby, has a long history of attracting celebrity golfers. Some of my favorites have been Bill Murray, Condoleeza Rice and Justin Timberlake.
After leaving the 18th green at Pebble Beach, Rucker explained his role to CBS Sports and the Golf Channel and then shared some thoughts with me. It was obvious Rucker was relishing the new gig. He shared he has been friends with many players on tour and has enjoyed doing cool things with them over the years.
“I am so proud to be a part of the PGA TOUR,” said Rucker of his influencer marketing role. “Proud they want me to be out there representing them in a different way…It's going to be a lot of fun.”
Celebrity marketing is nothing new. Influencer marketing has gained traction in the last decade with the rise of social media.
Here are my tips for making influencer marketing work for you:
Choose the Right Celebrity. Rucker plays golf almost as often as he plays the guitar. As an influencer, the golf connection is natural for him. The right celeb means synergy. Rucker will take on a larger role across PGA TOUR-owned channels, and fans of the Hootie & the Blowfish front man will also notice a PGA TOUR presence on stage throughout this summer’s Group Therapy Tour.
Choose Influencers that will Enhance the Brand. “Celebrities and influencers we have hosted at tournaments share their experiences with their fans, which in turn helps us to reach potential new fans with the backdrop of a fun, vibrant PGA TOUR setting,” said Tom Kuhn, vice president of marketing for the PGA TOUR. “With this in mind, we considered how we might integrate a high-profile entertainer into our events in a bigger, more meaningful way, including having the PGA TOUR brand message incorporated into appearances and concerts.”
Choose an Influencer with Passion. Over the last few years alone, Rucker has launched a golf-focused show on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio (Ch. 92) and will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Darius & Friends Concert and Charity Golf Tournament in 2019, as well as the 25th anniversary of Hootie & the Blowfish’s annual Monday After the Masters (MAM) event. He has competed in numerous PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions pro-am events alongside professionals including Davis Love III and Steve Stricker.
Choose an Influencer that will Expand Your Reach. “Influencer marketing is one of the fasting growing platforms for the PGA TOUR and we are excited about its potential for broadening our fanbase,” said Kuhn.
And a caution from someone who has marketed with many brand ambassador celebrities in the past, from Robin Williams to First Lady Barbara Bush. All of my experiences went well. But be wary about which influencer you align with. Some brands have been brought down by the celebrity company they choose to keep.
via Forbes - Entrepreneurs http://bit.ly/dTEDZf
February 18, 2019 at 01:35PM
Five Things High Schoolers Need To Know More Than Computer Science
A recent opinion piece in the New York Times discussed how the College Board is pushing for students to focus on mastering “two codes” — computer science and the US Constitution — but are those truly the right areas of focus? In the article, columnist Thomas Friedman spoke with College Board President David Coleman and chief of global policy Stefanie Sanford about why the organization (which produces the PSAT, SAT, and SATII standardized tests and AP classes and exams) had chosen those two areas of focus. Although I agree in principle that these ‘two codes’ are useful, there are more than a few areas that, in my opinion, need to be addressed before computer science.
1. General knowledge & cultural literacy
The average American’s lack of general knowledge is a source of endless entertainment to the late-night-tv hosts, but it can also be a major roadblock to learning and participating thoughtfully in society. Two-thirds of young people in the US cannot find the UK on a map, according to a 2002 National Geographic survey. One-third cannot find the Pacific Ocean. The concept that there are facts and concepts that everyone should know has been controversial, but an overall lack of general knowledge about the world leads to issues with literacy and reading comprehension in general—not to mention the ability to spot misleading or untrue news stories, learn new things, and obtain more general knowledge.
2. Financial literacy/everyday math
Our high schools are producing students who know multivariable calculus but don’t understand the concepts of marginal tax rates, compounding interest, or even how to quickly calculate a tip or keep their credit under control. Only five states require that high schoolers take a full semester of financial literacy instruction. This should obviously be higher, especially when one in five Americans have a net worth of zero or a negative net worth. But this should extend beyond personal finance—the average American doesn’t have a strong sense of wealth distribution, basic global economics, and other financial issues that informed voters should be aware of.
3. Computer literacy
Coding and computer science can be incredibly useful skills, but simply being fluent in the everyday operation of a computer must come first. As someone who works with teenagers, you’d be surprised how many young people are lost when it comes to learning to use new programs, navigating less-intuitive websites, configuring their privacy settings, and even using Google to do proper research. This may seem backward, considering that Generation Z are considered “digital natives,” but it makes sense—as mobile devices gain features and become more intuitive, fewer people encounter issues that require them to dive deep into their device’s settings or learn to muddle through unintuitive interfaces. The potential fallout of this is huge—the less we understand our own technology, the less control we have over it.
4. Life skills
A student can — and there are students who do — make it to college without knowing how to boil water, change a car tire, drive a car, properly wash dishes, sew on a button, use a hammer and screwdriver, or even do laundry. Somehow in the backlash to the gendered-ness of traditional home economics and shop classes, we forgot that they taught useful skills that all students should learn, regardless of gender. Home economics has been rebranded as family and consumer sciences (FCS) and has continued to decline over the decades, despite the importance of these skills and the fact that learning how to cook in high school could be a vital to fighting the obesity crisis.
But the life skills that are no longer being studied in most high schools extend beyond home ec/FCS — for one, driver’s ed has been on the decline as costs increase. Not only does being able to drive enable teenagers to get jobs further away from home, but I think it’s likely that being able to more easily spend time with friends in person would reduce time spent on social media and reduce isolation and that increased formal driving instruction would reduce traffic collisions.
5. Grit, character, and emotional intelligence
In How Children Succeed, Paul Tough makes the argument that schools and families must balance cognitive skills with non-cognitive skills or character strengths like grit, conscientiousness, and growth mindsets. He also speaks compellingly on the mental and physical toll that toxic stress takes on students. I’m not arguing for AP Conscientiousness, and neither is Tough—many of the changes needed to help students develop the strength of character to succeed cannot be addressed by changes in curriculum, but rather more supportive and positive school environments. The role of a positive school environment is something I was very focused on when I was working on Facebook’s inspirED program, and it’s something that often must be handled on the administrative and school level. If increased police presence and searches lead to lower test scores, then the opposite should also be true—students perform better in environments where they feel safe and trusted.
However, there are also curriculum changes that can improve students’ soft skills and non-cognitive abilities. The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, where I worked as a research assistant, has a program called RULER that teaches children and educators the basic framework of emotional intelligence, from recognizing when they have a feeling to regulating their emotions throughout the day. Emotional intelligence is a learnable skill—you can increase your EQ in ways that you simply cannot increase your IQ—and it’s a skill that teenagers could benefit the most from. Moreover, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the world would be a better place if more people understood their own feelings and those of others.
None of this is to say that there is no point in teaching computer science (or the Constitution) to high school students. Some might argue that the above-mentioned areas should be the responsibility of parents, not schools—but if parents had a handle on this, why are millennials taking “adulting” classes to learn how to handle emotions or cook? If we had a school system that already covered these five areas, I would agree that the next step should be coding—and I agree that the Constitution and founding documents should be more of a focus. That being said, I think that knowing how to code is less important than how to use a computer to adjust your Facebook privacy settings or cook a healthy meal or appropriately express your emotions and recognize emotions in others.
via Forbes - Entrepreneurs http://bit.ly/dTEDZf
February 18, 2019 at 01:35PM
Here are the latest predictions for Apple's 2019 products according to one of the most reliable Apple analysts
Here are the latest predictions for Apple's 2019 products, according to one of the most reliable Apple analysts
One of the most closely followed and respected Apple analysts has a few predictions for Apple's 2019 products.
Obtained by 9to5Mac, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo's recent investor note suggests minor and major updates and upgrades in Apple's iPhones, iPads, computers, Apple Watch, AirPods, and other product lineups.
Ming-Chi Kuo has been a go-to for Apple product predictions, having often predicted accurately.
Check out what Kuo thinks Apple will announce or release this year:
The 2019 iPhonesHollis Johnson/Business Insider
Ming-Chi Kuo predicts the 2019 iPhones will have:
The 2019 iPadsApple
Ming-Chi Kuo believes that the 2019 iPads will:
Apple Mac laptopsApple
Ming-Chi Kuo believes that the 2019 Mac laptops will:
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
SEE ALSO: The 20 best smartphones in the world
via Business Insider https://read.bi/1IpULic
February 18, 2019 at 12:42PM
Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs Share Their Secrets to Success
If you walk through the women’s section of a high-end department store these days, it’s not uncommon to come across the Rebecca Minkoff brand, which sells everything from handbags to apparel.
However, before she and her brother grew their multi-million dollar fashion empire, Rebecca Minkoff was an early adopter to use social media which she credits to aid in the success of her early days when she had to max out her credit card to create her first bags because nobody would give her a business loan.
Today, Minkoff not only has built a brand that competes with other fashion giants such as Coach, Kate Spade and Tory Burch, but she’s also actively the face of her brand digitally to the tune of over 800,000+ Instagram followers who not only get to interact with Minkoff daily, but shop directly within the Instagram mobile app -- one of the first fashion brands allowed by Facebook (Instagram’s parent) to do so.
On the latest episode of Real Talk, which you can see above or on Facebook Watch, I sat down with Minkoff for a candid discussion around how she’s grown her company over the last decade. During the interview, Minkoff shares how easy it is for anyone today to start a direct-to-consumer fashion brand of their own using Shopify and why influencer marketing has been critical for business growth.
To expand her brand’s reach outside of social media where she has an active presence as its face, Minkoff has a podcast called Superwomen where, each week, she interviews successful women from all walks of life ranging from CEO’s to artists. Minkoff credits staying in the know with tech as a big part of her rise as well as remaining connected to her target audience which is female consumers.
On the same episode of Real Talk at the Nasdaq MarketSite, Rosie Mercado stopped by to share how she handled rejection early in her career while weighing 420 pounds which she’s since shed to becoming a model and the co-host of “Face the Truth TV” alongside Vivica A. Fox.
Mercado began her career as a radio personality because she didn’t meet the look of what television executives wanted. She handled her rejection in stride by blocking out negativity mentally and today is inspiring young women to think positively by sharing her story along with a book that’s in the works.
For more Real Talk, see the complete interview above or head over to Facebook Watch to follow and be notified when new episodes go live.
via Entrepreneur http://bit.ly/1V7CpeP
February 18, 2019 at 12:39PM
How Star Stable PC online game extended reach to girls with music label
The video game industry hasn’t designed many games specifically for girls, but Star Stable has proven to be one of them with staying power.
Stockholm-based Star Stable Entertainment broke a lot of rules when it launched a massively multiplayer online game in 2012. It created its online horse game, Star Stable, for girls and young women. It charged a subscription fee ($8.50 a month) and built its own game engine.
15 million people have downloaded the game, and it has a monthly active user count of 600,000 players. That’s pretty good for a game that uses the archaic business model of subscription fees. And last week, the company announced a music label, Star Stable Music, with distribution to nearly 40 music sites including Spotify and Apple Music.
Star Stable is making players’ favorite in-game songs accessible beyond the game, and real-life musicians are representing the characters in the game like Lisa Peterson. Peterson’s first single, I’ll Be There, launched on Friday.
I talked about Star Stable and its new transmedia strategy with Taina Malen, chief marketing officer, at the DICE Summit last week in Las Vegas. She’ll be a speaker at our GamesBeat Summit 2019 event on April 23-24 in Los Angeles.
Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.
GamesBeat: I think I last wrote about you in 2015. How much has change has there been since then?
Taina Malen: There’s been quite a lot of change. We’re now 138 people. We’ve outgrown two offices. We’re moving, and hopefully that’s the last time for a long time. We’re still in Stockholm, though. We’re still over 50 percent women, which is one of our biggest, greatest values. I think we were 56 percent when I met you last time, and we’re 51 or 52 percent now. We’ve grown from–now we’re about 600,000 average monthly users, with steady growth. Our audience crosses the U.S., Germany, Poland, and Scandinavia. The U.S. is still our biggest market.
GamesBeat: How active are you as far as — how often is it updating?
Malen: Still once a week. We’re keeping to weekly updates. What’s really new to us is we’ve built our own talent. Our YouTube and social channels are steadily growing. We have 260,000, 270,000 Instagram followers and more than that on YouTube, so we’re doing pretty well. That’s been a big focus for us on the marketing side. We’ve established music publishing and book publishing. We’re releasing our second book, in Swedish that is, out of a trilogy, in March. We’re translating it into English at the moment. And we’re building our own label for our music collaborations.
GamesBeat: Is that Nordic focused?
Malen: No, it’s not. The first artists — in our game, as you know, we have four or five Soul Riders. They’re our main characters. One of them, in the story, is actually a musician coming back from a tour. What we did is, we scouted to find an artist that could represent her in real life, but first released as the character. We released a snippet of the song in a Christmas calendar. It had 3.5 million streams. It released last Friday. I haven’t heard yet how it’s doing now, but it’s doing well in our community for sure.
That’s what we’re focusing on right now, building Lisa Peterson. Then we have a rock band as well. The band has been around on posters in the game since it started. They’re called the Miscreants. Now we’re realizing the band. We’ve found a really cool girl band, also in Sweden. But the next artist is definitely something we’re going to be looking at from an international point of view.
GamesBeat: Would you call this a transmedia strategy, or something else?
Malen: Right now we’re just calling it an extended business, really. But yeah, you could say it’s transmedia, of course, with the books and God knows what’s next.
GamesBeat: What age range is the game matching now?
Malen: Our core is between eight and 16 or 17. I’d say the absolute sweet spot is 13-14, 14 to be super exact. But still, tweens. The reason for the books and music, obviously, is trying to broaden and reach outside of our target audience, but also it’s what our fans do. Especially music. That’s where they are.
We’ve tried some other projects. We did a Jojo Siwa project with Nickelodeon, when it comes to music. We released her single last year, one of her singles, in the game, and did a collaboration with her. That worked really well. We can see that music resonates.
GamesBeat: How big is the game world? Is there a way to measure or express that?
Malen: You could probably measure it. I don’t really know. But it’s neverending. It hasn’t ended yet. We still have a lot of world left to release and explore.
GamesBeat: Is it the new horses that keep people coming back?
Malen: It’s the updates every week. It could be other horses. Obviously girls like to collect the horses. Our fans and players love the horses. But we also release quests and races. Once a year we’ve been releasing a new part of the world so far.
GamesBeat: I’ve seen other horse games in the past but none that I can remember that are still around. Are you off by yourself in this area now?
Malen: There are some games popping up now and again that we hear about. There’s one right now where I can’t remember the title. But not in the MMORPG niche. More in mobile.
GamesBeat: What do you think made it successful? Is it the fiction?
Malen: I think it’s the combination of a really great story and trying to make a game that talks to the audience in a way that’s mature and not patronizing. We’ve tried to always produce content that girls can aspire to. Building heroes is important for us. “Every girl is a hero” is the mantra. We try to produce content and updates that are true to that.
GamesBeat: Does it stray into an educational niche, or is it more purely fun?
Malen: I would say a little bit, but that’s not our main focus. Our focus is to keep it story-based, adding the fantasy and keeping it exciting. But there are a lot of learning moments in the game. As a player you go out and explore the world. You learn a lot of things. You have to build a bridge and work together to save the world from evil powers. That together piece is important, and the social piece is important.
We have a lot of text, about as much text as the Lord of the Rings. A lot of players enjoy that. A lot of younger players learn to read quickly because they have to learn to be able to play. Those are all components that add up. Our users are also creating a lot of content around the game. User-generated content is huge among our players.
GamesBeat: As far as the kind of games that appeal to girls, what else do you see out there? Do you think we’re at a high point or a low point for that kind of thing, in the whole market?
Malen: I think it’s just started. You see more and more girls–they don’t call themselves gamers yet, but they associate themselves with games. You see a lot of our players also playing games like the Sims, Fortnite, Roblox. Personally, when I go down to spend time at our gaming arenas — we have Inferno Online in Stockholm, which is one of the biggest online gaming centers in the world — I see more and more girls there. I know that more and more events for gamers are trying to cater to girls these days. We see it in the way we’re being approached by partners, potential partners.
GamesBeat: Have you done anything with brand partners in your game, advertising or things like that?
Malen: No, no.
GamesBeat: If there’s a bigger opportunity here, what do you think it will be in the future? When you say it’s beginning, what comes next?
Malen: For us at Star Stable, it’s more platforms, and also reaching outside with publishing, with music and other things that can tell our story or expand our story. Also bringing it out to more people than just our fans, the people that already play.
I think in general, I couldn’t say, but what we see and what I’d like to be part of is building a platform for girls in tech and gaming. We get a lot more attention now than we did. Obviously because we’re growing, but also as games in general become more and more equal. I used to work in the film industry, and I can see similarities. It’s easier for parents to relate to the idea that their kids are playing games. The stories are told in better ways.
As you can see when you go on YouTube, our community is fantastic. They create a lot of their own content. The amount of user-generated content and how they manage to do that, it’s amazing. It also shows how technically savvy a lot of young girls are. They hack the game. It’s fantastic. I have a 12-year-old myself, so I can tell. It’s completely different.
What’s also fun, when girls come to our office or we meet them at events, one of the first things they ask us is, “What computer should I get? Am I a gamer because I play Star Stable?” It’s in them. That’s what we see amongst the audience. A lot of them are really heavily into gear and computers.
GamesBeat: How many languages are you in right now?
Malen: 13 so far.
GamesBeat: Do you think you have an opportunity in Asia?
Malen: I think we could. A tween girl is a tween girl. But it’s not where our focus is. For us right now, we want to dig where we stand. We have a lot more work to do in these territories. The U.S. and Germany are our biggest markets to focus on for the next year at least.
GamesBeat: Have you raised money any time recently?
Malen: No, we haven’t. We’ve sold shares, private shares, but we’ve never needed to raise funding.
GamesBeat: As far as talent goes, what kind of people have you been hiring?
Malen: A lot of developers. We’ve grown across the board, really. Developers, designers, legal. Because of our unique product — we have a product that’s unique in the gaming industry, and a unique target audience — we’ve tried to hire as many women as possible, which isn’t the easiest thing. We’ve been hiring a lot in HR and talent organization, because we’re growing so fast. But I can see that in the next eight to 12 months, we’ll be hiring all different kinds of developers.
GamesBeat: You mentioned influencers, like on YouTube. Is that the best way you’ve found to reach new players, through social media?
Malen: What we’ve chosen to do is instead of using influencers and paid ambassadors, we created our own in-house. We set out to do our own show and go out on the road and record with them. They became superstars within the community.
Now, obviously the next thing to do for us is to work with influencers outside of our community. I think that’s important, but I also think it’s important to keep it real. Again, if an influencer or paid ambassador is promoting your game, it needs to be real. Otherwise, as with all marketing–you need to know how to play a game, for it to be trustworthy. We’ve done collaborations, as I said, with some artists and things like that. But we’re being careful with influencers and ambassadors.
GamesBeat: Are you mostly reinvesting in the same game, or at some point do you want to do a second one?
Malen: At some point, most likely. As to when, I have no idea. What we do right now is definitely invest in the same game. We have a lot to do with Star Stable, both the online game and the surrounding content.
GamesBeat: Do you have versions coming for new platforms in the future?
Malen: We’re PC only at the moment. We’re looking into that, absolutely. Our game is beautiful, and to capture that beauty, the bigger the screen, the better. But we also look at where the audience is.
via VentureBeat https://venturebeat.com
February 18, 2019 at 12:31PM
3 Life and Business Lessons from the CEO of Art.com
Kira Wampler is the CEO of Art.com, which was acquired by Walmart in December. Prior, she was the CMO of both Trulia and Lyft. When I caught up with Kira at the gathering of the Duke Association for Business Oriented Women (BOW) we talked about her defining career moments, what keeps her energized, and the advice she’d give her 21-year-old self.
Sanyin: When you look back at your amazing career, what was a defining moment?
Kira: One of the most important moments for me was when I was given Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset. I read it in an afternoon. I picked it up and I could not put it down. I read it at a time when my daughter was a year and a half, and I was pregnant with my son. My career was really growing. It changed how I approached my life: instead of a fixed mindset, I wanted to approach my life with a growth mindset.
I started to apply this mindset to everything: How could I raise my children with a growth mindset? How could I run a company with a growth mindset? My favorite quotation is, “You have to go out on a limb to get the fruit.” That's fundamentally about taking risks. You want to take smart risks, and you want to mitigate risk that might affect the business, but you still have to take them. To me, a growth mindset is about having insatiable curiosity about the world around you. It drives change and disruption.
I hadn’t realized that I had grown up with a fixed mindset. I remember my first semester of college—I went to Georgetown for undergrad, and I got a C on an economics test. I had never gotten a C before, so I thought I was going to fail out. I called my dad and he said that my college career wasn’t going play out that way. I learned to embrace challenge, embrace the unknown, and that it was going to be okay. I needed to learn how to face challenges through a lens of growth.
Sanyin: Carol Dweck's book has had a tremendous influence on me as well and how we look at failures and mistakes. It’s about realizing that failure can be part of our long-term growth, even though they can be painful in the short-term.
Kira: I've been in Silicon Valley for over 20 years, and while it seems that some of these companies were overnight successes, the folks at these companies have been working on these ideas for 10, 15, 20 years. John Zimmer and Logan Green, who founded Lyft, were working on that idea when they were teenagers. They founded Lyft in their late twenties and early thirties, but they had already been in transportation for over a decade. It’s important for people to understand that you’ve got to work with a long-term goal in mind. You’ve got to be passionate and understand why you’re passionate.
Sanyin: When you went from Lyft, as a CMO, to the CEO of art.com, what got you excited about going to work? And what keeps you energized when you go to work every day?
Kira: It's the same thing that's been keeping me energized throughout my career: Being obsessed with customers. We're trying to make our customers’ lives better with art. We believe, and we know from the data, that when people have art around, they're happier. They're more creative. They're more relaxed. They have a higher sense of well-being in their in their lives, whether they're at home or at work. I obsess about how to put more art in people's lives—which couldn’t be more fun!
The team at Art.com also energizes me. We have some of the most creative thinkers, designers, engineers, marketers, finance folks, and merchandisers, and our interactions are democratic. The leadership team believes that our job isn’t to tell you what you should like. Our job is to help you discover what you like to do.
Sanyin: Your employees feel like they belong in the conversation. You clearly love your team.
Kira: I was just in Ohio where we have our manufacturing facility. We hand-make all of our frames and wood mounds on canvas. I was watching all the work it takes for our customers to buy a single piece, and it makes me so proud to see what the artists are doing.
Sanyin: Your company is also going through a transformation. What do you look for when you're hiring new team members?
Kira: I look for passion. I also want to know what bugs you. What is irritating? The best managers—whether they’re product managers or engineers—are never satisfied. If I know what irritates you, I know what you’ll work to make better. I like people who are driven problem-solvers, collaborative workers, and those who put the customer first. I’m always looking for lifelong learners.
Sanyin: You’re looking for those who have a growth mindset. What would you tell the 21-year-old Kira?
Kira: The first thing I would say is, “Don't worry.” While worrying can be a benefit and help you to stay focused and plan, I would say that enjoying the curiosity matters more. I’d tell her to continue to experiment and explore new things. I’ve taken risks in my career, but it wasn’t without some worry along the way. I’d go back and say, “Look, don’t worry so much. It’ll work out.”
Sanyin: Having insatiable curiosity is a great way to overcome the fear of failure every time. As an executive coach, I often counsel those I'm working with to think about the positive what-ifs and what are the potential learning that can help with a longer-term goal. How else do you think about building success?
Kira: I think the other thing I'd add, and maybe not so much for the 21-year-old Kira, but certainly for the type-A, high-performing, individual contributor, which is what a lot of folks would like to be as they're coming out of undergrad or business school, I would say what I have seen over and over again when I interact with founders, when I interact with business leaders, when I hire leaders, is that the people for whom the team's success is more important than individual success are always the ones that come out on top.
I went to the Fuqua School of Business here at Duke University, and I just am so grateful for the structured approach to collaboration: the lessons that you learn on how to quickly make it work with a team, and how to get the best out of a team. I had been learning that lesson before business school, and then I really got the playbook solidified here at Duke. I can tell you about the folks who are the smartest in the room, the most accomplished, the best IP, raised a ton of money, and if they if they can't get over, that my team is more important than me, they don't make it. It defines for me the difference between someone who's a high performer and someone who's going to be exceptional.
via Forbes - Entrepreneurs http://bit.ly/dTEDZf
February 18, 2019 at 12:24PM
5 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Glean From Their Kids' K-12 Teachers
Before transitioning into corporate learning and development, I was a classroom teacher in Canada for almost a decade. I spent most of that time teaching Spanish and English to high school students, but I also held stints as a grade coordinator (in the United States, an attendance counselor) and coached both girls and boys in basketball.
When I moved to the private sector, a well-meaning manager advised me to keep my teaching background on the down-low; otherwise, my corporate colleagues might see me as “soft” from having spent so much time around kids. I was also told my teaching experience “didn’t count” in the business world. Ouch; that hurt.
But the irony is that in short order, I found the situation to be just the opposite.
That's why every day of my corporate life, I've applied lessons I learned as a high school educator. I'd even go so far as to say that teaching was the best preparation for the toughest challenges I've faced outside the classroom.
Here are just a few of the many relevant skills and strategies teachers use that would benefit entrepreneurs, too.
1. Make your feedback honest and constructive.
Most people, when asked to name a teacher who had a positive impact, don’t cite the one who let sloppiness slide, gave hints during a test or handed out second and third chances liberally. On the contrary, kids respect and thrive most from their exposure to teachers who are tough but fair and who have high but realistic expectations.
It’s the same at work. Employees want to know where they stand and how they can continue improving. They’ll perform best in a culture where it’s safe to make mistakes because they are supported and given the resources to learn and grow.
I worked with a manager earlier in my career who was afraid of seeming “mean” by giving constructive and specific feedback. She wanted to be liked, and if something wasn’t going well with a direct report, she would just change that person's role a bit and shift the work to someone else. This situation spiraled out of control, and her whole team got so frustrated, they all ended up quitting. The manager herself ended up moving on, too.
Too many managers shy away from giving unvarnished feedback, but that’s exactly what all of us need in order to fuel our best work.
2. Start from a place of empathy.
As a teacher, you deal with many different constituencies: administrators, community members, parents and of course individual students. These people come from different backgrounds, have different motivators and priorities and hold different points of view that are expressed in different ways. To interact successfully with them, you can’t make assumptions based on your own experiences or tune out what you don’t understand or agree with.
So, too, does every entrepreneur need to develop a strong sense of emotional intelligence in order to work effectively with various stakeholders, from investors and partners to employees and customers. You have to take time to listen and respect why other people do or say what they do before you can become a productive collaborator or design a product they’ll love to use.
One of the biggest obstacles to empathy is unconscious bias, and we all have some form of that. Even a company as accomplished as Google has flubbed certain product roll-outs, such as releasing an app that didn’t take into account the needs of left-handed users.
That may seem like a fairly mild case of unconscious bias, but it shows how this kind of blindness can have surprising effects. Now, imagine the negative impact of lacking empathy for people of different races, genders, orientations and cultures.
3. Adopt a “whatever it takes” mentality.
Teachers are often left to solve problems on their own. I’m sure you’ve read about teachers buying their own classroom supplies or putting in hours that go way beyond the regular school day to give kids extra help. I personally once had to enlist some peers to help me assemble new student desks! It wasn't tough at all: Those teachers readily jumped in to help.
Entrepreneurs must be masters of creativity, perseverance and commitment if they want to realize their visions. Like school teachers, they’re often starved for resources. In startup circles, bootstrapping is common, and it’s how some really successful companies have gotten through their early days.
As an entrepreneur, you just have to figure things out, even the unglamorous stuff that no one will ever see or appreciate. Teachers have to be passionate about teaching to meet the demands placed on them; entrepreneurs must also be hungry and dedicated, to keep doing what needs to be done, day after day after day. You never get to say “that’s not my job.”
4. Do the right thing, even when it hurts.
When I was a grade coordinator, my least favorite part of the job was suspending students. But sometimes, that was our only recourse. I never got comfortable with this task, but it was my responsibility. And, just as happens with giving honest feedback, I knew it wouldn’t help a student to be able to get away with unacceptable behavior. In fact, the failure to call a student on his or her bad behavior could even infect the rest of the school and breed resentment.
Entrepreneurs, too, must commit to doing the right thing and stick to their values, no matter how unpleasant or difficult that may be. This could include firing a so-called “brilliant jerk” who does great work but steps on others and contributes to a toxic workplace. Or it could involve choosing not to accept a lucrative partnership opportunity with an organization whose practices are ethically unsound.
Uber attracted unwanted headlines when a former employee shared her story of being sexually harassed by a manager who suffered no consequences because he was a “star performer.” This was only the beginning of additional revelations about Uber’s mishandling of workplace issues, and invited further scrutiny of the company’s culture, which ultimately led to the CEO’s resignation.
The damage to Uber's reputation and position, for not having acted sooner, was immense.
5. Always be ready to pivot.
All teachers start the school year with lesson plans and goals. Then they get to know their students as individuals and figure out how to tailor their teaching accordingly. Sometimes this happens right in the middle of a class that’s taken an unexpected turn. Sometimes, events outside the classroom make it necessary to tweak a teaching method: Consider the teacher who scraps a scheduled history lesson to talk about a breaking news event.
Today, when new technologies are constantly changing the way we work, some companies are even discarding the concept of long-term planning. Some of today’s biggest companies have had to pivot from their original visions in order to survive. Did you know YouTube started as a dating site? Or that Slack began as a video game?
No matter how large your own organization is, you too have got to be ready to switch course. You need to be prepared to adjust to partners, investors and clients who have different wants and needs. "Adaptability" just might be the most important trait to possess as an entrepreneur in the 21st century.
So, next time you find yourself with a challenge, think about how your favorite teacher would handle it. Then do the exact same thing.
via Entrepreneur http://bit.ly/1V7CpeP
February 18, 2019 at 12:18PM