Dec 22, 2010

That is so one second ago

My generation (Gen Y or Digital Natives) is the one exposed to the most rapidly changing environment that humanity encountered so far.

Because of this, we need today specialists that cannot be prepared as such by the existing educational system. The educational system is so behind the wave, that not only it lacks preparing the right skills, but also the right attitudes and mindsets.

There are lately all sorts of critiques, trying to point out that there should be a change in the way youth people are educated. But before something will be changed at this large scale, there are all sorts of things youth people can do on their own to prepare for the reality that awaits them.

First of all, they have easy and cheap (if not free) access to information and the possibility to connect virtually with like-minded people from everywhere. This should be used by youth people to learn on their own whatever they want, whatever they feel is the upcoming wave.

Secondly, youth people are more and more encouraged by the business sector to contribute with their fresh perspectives. There is a great developing system of internships nowadays, there are companies recruiting youth people from the times they are in universities, colleges, and even high-school - making them face the real world challenges from early stages. It is actually interesting to see this evolution: at the beginning people were just studying at universities (it was an outstanding thing), now universities send you to do internships and exchanges. This opportunity should be used by youth people to educate themselves in today's reality, rather than in old education's beliefs.

I tried in the best way I could to prepare myself for today's environment. I go online since I was 10 years old, I started a job in my field since I was second year in university, I got involved into a students organisation and I attended some good conferences and workshops. But this is nothing compared to the opportunities younger people had: what you can find and do online is so much developed year after year; now there are all sorts of possibilities to start working in companies from first year of university or even earlier, in high-school and so on.

I cannot compete with somebody who is even three years younger than me, or I should of made a much bigger effort to be equal....just because chances were different, or actually the same but at different stages in life.

So, bottom line...

On the short run, I recommend you to educate yourself for the new times and to take new opportunities. Some good advice in this sense you can find in this book: Linchpin - by Seth Godin.

On the long run, I believe we should all try to change (or encourage the change) of the educational system. For this, I invite you to watch this video:

Dec 20, 2010

We are puzzle pieces

When it comes to working in teams or finding the right job/ professional activity, you should be able to know where do you fit best and why. Otherwise you will end up unhappy and you will not make the best of what you can do. If you don't know already, just stop a while and think about it....or have some personality/ work style tests done (one of my recommendations: the Belbin test).

More than this, I believe a person should not try to improve a, b, c aspects about herself just because others are good at it or it is required, but just to be aware of how he/ she is and find the right environment to fit in. In this world, we need everybody, all the possible attitudes and skills...but for different activities, in different teams and at different times. A puzzle piece is not wrong as such, you just need to find for it the perfect place in the big picture.

One big mistake people usually do happens during job interviews. You think you want the job, so you are careful to talk in such a way you will impress the employer and get it. And then, you realize is not the best activity for you, or the best team etc. By just being honest from the beginning, and defining yourself concretely, you will be able to save yourself from getting into the wrong place for you. Pay attention to the chemistry you feel with your potential future boss/ colleague, to the requirements of the job, to the organisational culture etc. You are getting yourself into a long term collaboration.

Well, this opens actually another question: should we really try to find to do only things we like? This is a big debate. I believe there are plenty of opportunities that will fit each one of us and make us happy. Some say you can never do only things you like. Wherever is the truth in this, at least we should try to find the things that fit as perfectly and not get stuck into wrong places/ teams from the first trials.

And to give myself as an example:

- I am a starter. So I need to surround myself with planners and doers. Still, is important that all of us understand each other's role and nobody expects the others to act in the same way.

- I am a driver. So I need to surround myself with people who show appreciation, because otherwise I get demotivated.

- I am an innovator. So I need to work in places where innovation is needed and encouraged. If I open a business, it is for sure for new markets or with new products.

- I am people oriented. So I need to work in places where I have as much contact with people as possible.

And the list can continue....

On the same topic:

Dec 9, 2010

NetCamp 2010 review - insights for online entrepreneurs

Yesterday, 8th december 2010, took place this year's edition of NetCamp - a conference for existing and wanna be online entrepreneurs, organised by Manafu and Evensys team in Bucharest, Romania.

The event gathered more than 200 people with ongoing or planned businesses in the online environment, most of them men (80 - 90%) and very young (age average: 25 y.o.) and some great international and national speakers.

Some insights from the speakers (quotes from their presentations and discussions) that might be useful for you:

Ian Broom - Launch 48
- For inspiration, there are some opportunities trending in online entrepreneurship that you might consider working on as your future business: analytics, geo based business, flash mob (example: Groupon), mobile apps, social games (examples: Foursquare, FarmVille).
- Do your research, test your customers.
- Launch with interest. If your first customers like your product,  they will be your greatest sales force (word of mouth).
- Launch is not the end. Iterate and expand.

Jure Sustersic - Nokia
- There are more people accessing Facebook from mobile than desktop
- We are facing an "app economy"
- Think how your business can benefit from mobilization.

Zoli Herczeg - Microsoft
- Presenting Gartner Hype Cycle 2010
- Cloud computing is good to use for non-flat/ unpredictable usage scenarios because you can use it for how much you want at each time (flexibility).

Hugo Pickford-Wardle - Launch 48 UK
- Solve a problem that others don't know how to solve or that they didn't even know it existed (but it did).
- Envision a perfect world without constrains. Work backwards, until you hit the wow line.

Cem Tunakan - Groupon Romania
- Focus on not just selling a product/ service, but also on connecting people.
- As long as our competitors play correctly, there is space for everybody.

Oana Solca - Romtelecom
- Try on Twitter and Facebook to focus on customer care, not on commercial messages.
- For targeting people knowledgeable about internet services and online shopping and also for building trust, make a partnership with a bank on their online banking platform.

Teodor Cimpoesu - Kaspersky Lab Romania
- Made an online shop on the Facebook page, as a Facebook app (fShop).
- Think how much your online accounts value and protect them not to lose your identity.

Marius Ghenea - serial entrepreneur
- For doing a business you need the right skills, chance and attitude.
- You can contribute with sweat capital, not just money.
- Plan for cash-flow, not for profit.
- Hire less, outsource more.
- Forecast bottom-up. Don't start from market size predicting your share, but from how much you can make starting from what resources you have.
- Start with a service business, then develop bigger projects. You can compare entrepreneurship with playing poker - you start with small sums and while playing you begin to understand the game, then you can come in with bigger sums.
- The FFF (family, friends and other fools) have no clue about your business. An investor can offer you advice and can ask you some good questions to think about.
- For the entrepreneur there is total commitment, for the investor this is partial - is just one more business he believes in.
- While an entrepreneur thinks of his business for a life time, the investor thinks in shorter terms, thinks of exit strategies.

Dragos Novac - online entrepreneur
- Most of online entrepreneurs think as a revenue source at online advertising. But keep in mind that you share your clients' online advertising budgets with online/ communication/ media agencies, and so you get only a small share of it.
- Other revenues sources for an online business: subscription revenues, affiliate revenues, rental of subscribers list, sale of information about subscribers, live events, cobranded spinoff, selling souvenirs, e-commerce, sponsorships.

Bogdan Secara - serial entrepreneur
- A business plan is useful because: it makes you more responsible, you establish your limits, you communicate better, it sells your idea to investors.
- Don't spend too much time on making the business plan.
- There will always be something unpredictable when you put your business plan into action.

Dragos Roua - serial entrepreneur
- You promote your business everywhere you interact.
- You are the promoter of your business. Even if you work with an agency, you are the one giving your ok for a campaign, so you are the responsible one.
- Your personal blog is your ID - it will work for you even years after you started it.

Vlad Stan - serial entrepreneur
- I don't like observers, I like players.
- How to make a good pitch: a creative introduction will make you memorable; the language should be simple; identify the problem of the one in front of you and then tell him your solution - and so you don't sell, but you help them to buy (you should have different pitches for different people); tell how your solution is different than the other existing solutions.
- There are not problems, but business opportunities.
- I cannot work only for money, I should like what I do and inspire others too.
- Think of what do you want people to remember you for at your funeral and so you will know what you should do in your life and don't waste time on other paths.
- If you earn 1.500 euro a month as an employee, in your whole life you make 720.000 euro. So you sell your life for this installments. Being entrepreneur is not like that.

Other reviews of the event:
Quality time 

Dec 6, 2010

Do not give, make them ask for it

People usually don't like changes. They get used to something and find any new version of it uncomfortable for a while (until they get used again) even if it is a better one.

Today, Facebook made (again) a change in terms of appearance - they call it "the new profile". Is not their first time they do a redesign/ restructure, and also other popular online platforms did the same over time. And of course there are always people who love it and who hate it.

I will try to recap here some adoption strategies made by popular online platforms when they release a new layout - these are interesting study cases for leading change:

- Facebook gives you now the possibility to switch to the "new profile" whenever you feel ready, is just one button away. You see there is something new that your friends start to use, and you start to want it to. You do it on your own, you master it yourself. In other words, Facebook made you ask for it! If you updated means that you like it or you just to it to be one of the first a few days/ weeks people will do it because everybody is doing it (the herd syndrome). And like this, Facebook took care that all the people from early adopters to laggards switch when is their time, their choice.

- In the past, Facebook made the changes on layout over night, to everybody in the same time. Some of those changes were: "Like" button instead of "Become a fan", a new layout for the fanpages and homepages etc. Of course, the early adopters liked it and the laggards hated it. They were not asked if they want it, when they want it.

- Twitter changed recently also. They called it "the new Twitter". Twitter made this change gradually, at the beginning to some accounts, and over time to more and more. It was a matter of weeks until everybody had it. Was interesting to see how people were bragging that they "already have the new twitter", to those who didn't have it. And so, most of the people were craving for it, waiting for the special day when their account will also be updated. It was a way of asking for it themselves, wanting it, but they could not control when the change will happen.

- Recently, when Google launched some new features like instant search and priority inbox, they left people the possibility to switch to them whenever they wanted it, if they wanted it. No pushing. Of course, everybody was talking about it and many tried because they are curious or at their friends recommendation.

- In the past, when Google was launching something (like Google Wave, for example), they used people to spread it themselves: they gave access to a few people with the possibility to invite x friends too. Again, people were craving for it, and waiting for a friend to invite them. Some were happy to get it, some were annoyed by the long waiting. Again, they didn't had control but they were very teased.

Just to sum up, when it comes to leading changes, you should try to:
- spread the word
- do not give, let them ask for it
- give them the power to make the change when they want it