Going Global Despite the Odds—CEO shares how her company is reaching its global goal

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Connie Gorum

Connie Russell Gorum, the founder and CEO of C. L. Russell Group, LLC (CLRG), an industry workforce training company, started CLRG in 2015 after leaving her government job with a vision and a strategic plan—to become a global industry workforce training company.

Today, CLRG is well on its way to reaching its global goal after only two years of founding the company. The playing field changed for CLRG in 2016 when the company was selected among seven small and medium-size American companies to participate in the United States – Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (USACC) U.S. Trade Mission to Azerbaijan and Georgia organized in partnership with ExportDC. This opportunity strategically positioned the company’s goal of becoming a global industry workforce training company.

Connie shares some insight from her interview with Becky Mangus, publisher of The Biz Monthly, on her global journey and steps to help other entrepreneurs pursuing globalization.

When/why did you decide to set global goals for your business?
I’ve always been considered a big dreamer and risk-taker, so when I decided to start my business, I knew maintaining that mindset was very important for the success of my business. Small businesses have access to so many resources today that allow us to explore areas we could only think about and watch others #GoBig. That’s no longer the case today. Today, small businesses compete with large businesses, so I knew I had to think big if I wanted to be a player in the game. So, going global was the only position for me to take.

How did you achieve your initial global connection?
Being selected in the U. S. Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (USACC) U.S. Trade Mission to Azerbaijan and Georgia in partnership with ExportDC literally opened the global connection for me. Pursing global connections without an experienced colleague is very challenging.

What was it about the 2016 Trade Mission Trip that made your dream of a becoming a global company seem possible?
After the Trade Mission Trip, I finally had access to contacts. The mission featured participation in the country’s economic and sector briefings, networking receptions, exclusive meetings with relevant government officials, B2B appointments with prospective global agents, distributors, partners, and end-users. I learned about the country’s trending industries and their economic climate. This opportunity allowed me to develop relationships with both embassies. I now have access to special embassy events and meetings concerning the economic status of both countries and forecasting updates. This helps my company stay current with developing global performance solutions for diverse industries. Understanding your industry from a local and global perspective will better position you for success.

Were these two countries on your radar when planning your global strategy?
They were not. To be truthful, this was my first time learning about these two countries, which made it more interesting. Don’t limit yourself; engage in new markets.

What were the first steps you took to make breaking into the global training industry a reality?
For me, my first step was connecting with global commerce organizations. The next bold step was to visit the desired country. Staying behind the computer was too safe and comfortable for me. I wanted to experience the culture and develop relationships. One thing I always share with my training team is you must learn the customer’s culture to effectively train their team. Learning the protocol of traveling abroad was like developing a new training course for me. Once I accomplished that, I felt more knowledgeable about the culture. I can now share my experiences with other inspiring entrepreneurs looking to expand global.

This was a long-term goal, but what had you done over the years, leading up to your concentrated effort to help with your vision?
I continued to network with local global commerce organizations and businesses with prior global experience to help keep me current with the global trends. When you’re an entrepreneur, learning becomes your lifestyle—it never ends.

Can you share a situation from your career that involved obstacles you had to overcome and share what you learned from those situations?
As a woman entrepreneur, I knew I would encounter constant obstacles, to say the least. But that only adds fuel to my perseverance. One situation I recall is being told by a former colleague that I should wait until I became a ‘big business’ before I started thinking about taking my company global. That was just the fuel I needed to prove them wrong. The more I began to research about small businesses going global the more I became aware of the possibilities for my company. That situation taught me to never allow someone to limit my capabilities based on my current position and to have a diverse group of mentors. Mentors serve for different purposes; no one mentor can serve all your needs. Today, I have more than one mentor who help me in different aspects of the growth of my business.

What words of advice do you have for other small businesses seeking to go global?
Start planning now; today, much of the growth trends are outside the United States. Whether small businesses realize it or not, their competitors are global as well as local. Diversity is real; it’s not just a trending new word that makes a company appear politically correct. When small businesses begin to balance domestic and international markets, they can better manage their risk and leverage growth opportunities. Always think bigger than your present position. Stay connected, and join local global commerce associations. I would recommend the following organization to help get started entering the global industry: globalchamber.org.

Mellody Hobson Will Become Starbucks Vice Chair After Howard Schultz Departure

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Mellody Hobson, president of Chicago-based investment firm Ariel Investments, will be moving into a role as Starbucks’s vice chair following Executive Chairman Howard Schultz‘s departure on June 26.

A Chicago native, Hobson worked her way up after joining Ariel as a college intern in the 1990s, going on to become the company’s vice president of marketing, then a senior vice president, and eventually president at the firm. Ariel’s holdings include MSG Networks, Northern Institutional Treasury Portfolio, First American Financial Corp., and Kennametal, among others.

A member of Starbucks’ board of directors since 2005, Hobson has also served on the boards of Estée Lauder, DreamWorks Animation, and Groupon.

Throughout her career, Hobson has made financial literacy and community outreach a priority. Currently, she serves as chair on the board of directors of The Economic Club of Chicago, as well as chair of After School Matters, a Chicago nonprofit that provides teens with out-of-school time programs.

Continue onto Fortune to read the complete article.

Minority Business Enterprise (MBEs)—Get Certified Today

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Why certify? Businesses that are certified as minority owned are subject to different laws and regulations than other businesses and as such are very different entities from typical enterprises. Unlike a standard business license or registration, a minority-owned business enterprise certification is not required to run a minority-owned business, although certification can provide many benefits for a company—especially in regards to government contracting.

Below are some of the certification processes your company can expect to navigate when seeking minority-owned business enterprise certification. Also listed are the requirements that must be met by businesses that are seeking certification.

  • Manufacturers – Maximum number of employees must not surpass 500 or 1500, depending on the product being manufactured.
  • Wholesalers – Maximum number of employees must not surpass 100 or 500, depending on the product being provided.
  • Service providers – Annual sales receipts must not be higher than $2.5 or $21.5 million, depending on the service being provided.
  • Retailers – Annual sales receipts must not be higher than $5.0 or $21.0 million, depending on the product being provided.
  • General and Heavy Construction businesses – Annual sales receipts must not exceed $13.5 or $17 million, depending on the type of construction the company is engaged in.
  • Special Trade Construction businesses – Annual receipts must not be higher than $7 million.
  • Agricultural businesses – Annual sales receipts must not be higher than $0.5 to $9.0 million, depending on the agricultural product being produced.

Business Requirements

1) The company applying for certification must have a racial minority owner who owns at least 51 percent of the company.

2) The same owner must hold the highest position in the company.

3) The company must pay a fee based on company annual gross sales and also file an application that details basic company information, such as what year the business was founded.

4) The company’s primary business locations must be available for site visits.

Getting Bids

Build Relationships. When it comes to winning bids in the government contracting marketplace, contacts are everything. Business owners are advised to take the time to make connections, build relationships and network extensively. The contacts a business develops are often the key to furthering their success in government contracting. Proactively networking with larger companies, agencies and even competitors can lead to subcontracting opportunities while also showing agencies that you are a trustworthy and reliable business partner.

Subcontract. Building a reputation as a professional enterprise is crucial to the success of any business. Winning a government bid isn’t only about the monetary aspects involved with a contract; other factors are evaluated, too. An agency will often look at company financials, work history and reputation before selecting a winning organization. It helps to have contacts who can vouch for your company and the work that you do. By subcontracting, you build your reputation and gain valuable experience.

You never know when the contacts you develop will come in handy. Therefore, you should make each and every relationship meaningful because in the long run, these are the relationships that will further your company’s success.

Government RFPs are a great way for minority-owned business enterprises (MBE) to win spot and term contracts. Every year, the U.S. federal government spends more than $200 billion on goods and services, all of which are provided by private companies and many of which are minority-owned businesses. From federal to state, local and special districts, all levels of government have programs in place to increase their involvement with certified minority-owned business enterprises. Only companies who have gone through the MBE certification process are eligible for the money that is made available through such programs.

Source: BidNet

Celebrating black entrepreneurs & business owners

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Celebrity chef Roblé Ali joins Wells Fargo in a salute to African American small business owners who are working to improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods.

As early as middle school, Mandy Bowman knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur. The Brooklyn, New York, native went on to study entrepreneurship and global business management at Babson College in Massachusetts, and then took a job as a social media manager by day, while she worked on developing her own business at night.

By October 2017, Bowman was a full-time entrepreneur and had launched her business — the Official Black Wall Street app. “I wanted to support black-owned businesses in my local area, but was unable to find a directory that was current or easy to use — so I created my own,” said Bowman. The app is now the largest directory of its kind in the world, according to Black News, and allows users to find and rate black-owned businesses in their neighborhoods and nationwide.

Bowman’s business, like other small businesses, required hard work, dedication, and, most of all, support to succeed. Currently, there are more than 2.6 million black-owned businesses in the U.S., according to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Survey of Business Owners Facts (PDF). In support of these businesses, and in an effort to strengthen communities, Wells Fargo is saluting and highlighting Community Builders — the African American small business owners who go above and beyond to make things better for their businesses, their customers, and their neighborhoods.

Supporting and inspiring black entrepreneurs

“Initiatives like Community Builders help encourage and inspire black entrepreneurs, and we hope this initiative will encourage others to seek out and support the Community Builders in their neighborhoods,” said Candace McCullom Gainer, Wells Fargo’s head of African American integrated campaigns. Wells Fargo launched the Community Builders initiative in 2017 by spotlighting the stories of African American business owners nationwide who were working to give back to their local communities. In honor of Black History Month, Wells Fargo is once again celebrating Community Builders.

“Supporting small business owners is critical to the success of our communities and a priority Wells Fargo takes seriously,” said Lisa Frison, multicultural segment strategy leader. Wells Fargo has helped small businesses in local communities through focused investments and by providing small business tools and resources.

The company also supports small businesses through Wells Fargo Works for Small Business® and the Wells Fargo Works for Small Business: Diverse Community Capital program. The Diverse Community Capital program, established in 2015, provides capital to Community Development Financial Institutions, or CDFIs. CDFIs provide technical assistance, financial services, mentoring, and other resources for diverse small businesses that may not qualify for conventional bank loans.

Continue onto Wells Fargo to read the complete article.

First FedEx African American Woman Pilot Reflects Journey

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FedEx Airbus Captain and Line Check Airman Tahirah Lamont Brown recalls her very first time in the cockpit in 1992—a momentous occasion for any pilot, but especially for an African American woman entering an industry dominated by men.  Brown later became the first African American woman pilot for FedEx, and shares how hard work, creativity, determination and mentors helped her build her “office in the sky.”

FedEx:  When did you decide you wanted to be a pilot, and what about flying intrigued you?

Tahirah: I decided to be a pilot in high school. At that time I had only flown twice in my life, but the more I learned about aviation, the more fascinated I became. I enjoy traveling, meeting new people, and learning about different cultures. Aviation matched my personality. It was an epiphany for me. I decided this is what I want to do, and God put people in my path along the way that helped me achieve my goal.

FedEx:  How did your parents react when you told them about your plans? 

Tahirah: My mother was nervous. My father was supportive, but wasn’t sure I was serious.

FedEx:  As an African American woman in a field dominated by men, did you feel there were barriers to your dream? 

Tahirah: There were barriers, for sure. I didn’t know any pilots and didn’t know how to pay for flight school.

I worked two jobs to pay for college and for flight training. I also wrote my family a letter asking them for support. I promised that if they would help me now, I would pay them back when I had the money, and they helped me.

I met Bill Norwood, the first black pilot at United Airlines, while in Tuskegee, Alabama, at Operation Skyhook and he introduced me to OBAP, the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals. That introduction provided me with the guidance I needed, and also helped me with scholarships for flight training.

FedEx: Describe your first flight and how it made you feel.

Tahirah: I still remember it vividly as it was exhilarating. I was twenty years old. My first flight was in a Cessna 172, a four-seat single engine prop plane. My instructor in college was with me, along with my supportive, yet reluctant father in the backseat. We took off out of Long Island and flew to Greenwich, Connecticut. I was on top of the world. I could not believe that my view was the sky.

We flew around as I tried to maintain wing level. I looked back at my dad and he was giving me the thumbs up, but I could tell he was getting a little queasy. I said: “you’re doubting me, right?” When we landed I felt like a child that was taking her first step–like the world had no limits. My father told me this was what I was meant to do. All his doubts were alleviated at that moment and going forward he only asked how he could help me.

Continue onto FedEx to read the complete article.

How to Stand Out on the Job

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diverse businesswoman

Workplaces can be extremely competitive! It can be tempting to rely on gimmicks like flashy clothes or jokes to stand out at work, but this can backfire if you’re looking for a promotion. If you want to get noticed by your superiors at work, the best way to stand out is to conform to your workplace, do quality work, and be a good colleague.

Why Work on Getting Noticed?

You might be the hardest worker in your organization, and the one everyone wants on their team—but, if you’re not in people’s thoughts, then you’ll be passed up for new projects, additional responsibilities, awards, and promotions.

That’s why you need to be visible at work!

Let’s look at some strategies that you can use to get noticed in the workplace.

Developing Specialist Skills

Do you consider yourself a “generalist,” someone who does many different things in different roles, or a “specialist,” someone who is an expert in one or two specific areas?

New businesses often hire generalists, because they can perform in so many different roles. As organizations grow, however, specialists are often hired to focus on key areas. This may leave the hard-working generalists feeling pushed aside and disempowered.

If you’re a generalist, think strategically about what types of skills your organization needs. Work on building these skills to become a specialist. The more knowledgeable and skillful you become in a particular area, the more likely you are to be noticed for your work.

Remember that organizations also tend to look for people with great “soft skills”—non-technical skills such as creative thinking, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, communication skills, flexibility, and coaching. These are often as important as professional expertise.

If you’re thinking about becoming a specialist in a certain area, don’t forget to consider these important soft skills. Helping your boss resolve a major conflict within your team will get you noticed just as much as delivering a great presentation or sales report.

Essentially, if you help people out when they need assistance, then people will help you out too.

And if you take the time to build and nurture relationships with the people around you, you’ll build a network of “allies” who can help you get assigned to interesting, significant, or eye-catching projects that might otherwise go to someone else. They may also recommend you to other departments, which can open up opportunities that might not have been available to you without their recommendations.

Build a network of alliances within your department, with other departments, and with the executive team or board. Try to get assigned to teams that involve a wide variety of people. This can help you build your reputation and make important friendships.

Also, build your network outside of office hours. Socializing with colleagues after work often makes everyone feel more relaxed and open to new friendships.

Tracking Your Accomplishments

When you’re working hard, it’s easy to forget all of your achievements over the last 6 to 12 months. This won’t help when it’s time for your performance review.

Keep track of all of your accomplishments within the organization. If clients or colleagues give you compliments, write them down. If the compliment came in an email, print it. If you exceeded last quarter’s sales goals, get the paperwork that proves it.

Put all of these great compliments and achievements in a file and bring the file to your performance review. This gives you hard evidence to prove to your boss what a great job you’re doing. Then, when it’s time to ask for a pay raise or promotion, it may be harder for your manager to say no.

Getting Out of the Shadows

Sometimes, whether intentionally or unintentionally, your manager or colleagues may present your ideas as their own.

However, if you want to get noticed, you must receive credit for your ideas.

If this happens to you, first find out if it’s also happening to anyone else. Often, a colleague or boss “borrows” ideas from several people, not just one. One way to discover this is by simply watching other people’s body language around this person.

If your colleague or manager is taking credit for only your work, but no one else’s, then document it every time it occurs. If practical, “watermark” your work whenever you can (this is a feature in some word processing software packages). If the person claims your ideas as their own in a meeting, gently but firmly correct the misstatement.

Taking on More Responsibilities

You can also get noticed by your manager and other executives by taking on more responsibilities whenever possible.

This doesn’t mean that you should overwork yourself! But if you see a new project or role that will help you expand your skills, take advantage of it. Do this, particularly if it’s one that has high visibility within the organization or has a significant impact on the bottom line.

This is particularly important with innovation and process improvement. Developing a reputation as an innovator or creative thinker can be valuable. If you believe that you have the ability to innovate and think of good ideas then try to get assigned to projects where these skills are valued.

Tip: While you’re doing this, make sure that you continue to do the core parts of your job well. If you fail to do this, you’ll get noticed—but for all the wrong reasons!

More Tips on Getting Noticed

Here are a few more ideas for getting the people you work with to notice you:

  • Make sure you’re visible. Spend a few minutes every day greeting and talking with your coworkers. A simple smile can help tremendously. Also, try to speak to colleagues face-to-face from time to time, instead of sending emails or instant messages.
  • Praise others. If you have a colleague who works as hard as you, then praise the person in front of your manager. Be specific, and sincere, about what the person is doing.
  • Stay updated on your industry. Read trade newsletters or other relevant materials that keep you up-to-date on trends and technology. You never know when this information will be valuable.
  • Find a mentor. Mentors can offer valuable advice and career coaching. The chances are that the mentor has been through the same situations that you’re experiencing and can help you navigate them successfully.
  • Get involved with your organization’s charity events. Volunteering for these activities—like running in a race or coaching a children’s team—can help you build your network within the organization.

Source: mindtools.com

Rahmaan Mwongozi teaches how to apply systems analysis to problems that arise in life as well as in business

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Rahmaan Mwongozi “Roc” is a motivational speaker and podcast host, as well as the author of Inner Demons. He guides individuals not only on how to ask smart questions and follow the trail to solutions, but also on how to embody a “no excuses” attitude that manifests in excellence.

His innovative approach to problem-solving, however, began as a young boy in East Oakland, where he was surrounded by poverty, gangs, violence, and drugs. Determined not to fall into the trappings of his environment, Roc followed the trail of possibility and opportunity, playing the long game and working hard. Now living the dream, Roc openly shares his story, as well as his thinking and strategy, with those who want something more from life.

Today an independent business analyst on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Roc cut his teeth on Fortune 500 corporations including Pfizer, Enron, and AT&T – where as an entry level employee in his early 20s, he solved systemic problems that had eluded management for years.

At 40, he took pause and reflected on his life to date.  A systems analyst by trade, as well as by nature, Roc was eager not only to analyze his life internally but also to offer his journey as a case study in the human experience –leading him to write his debut book, Inner Demons, with a raw and gritty transparency. While the particulars of our lives may vary according to circumstance, Roc knew, we all face universal challenges, as part of the human quest to cultivate a successful, meaningful, and authentic life.

Through Inner Demons, Roc shares his transformational journey, Inner Demonsinspiring readers to rethink life in terms of possibility, creativity, and strategy, instead of obstacles, compliance, and defeat. Not just a good read but also a work of art, the book is illustrated by tattoo artist Eva of Bang Bang NYC, whose A-list clients include Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, and Justin Bieber.

At the heart of systems analysis is the awareness of relationship, where one recognizes not only all the moving parts and the big picture, but also their position in relation to each other and to oneself. So it’s no surprise that Roc’s book reads like a love story and is, at the core, about relationship – to and between self, family, friends, lovers, work, community, and society. Offering Roc’s own relationship web, and thread of choices within that web, as a model of how to honestly face a problem, ask smart questions about it, and follow the trail of answers to the optimal solution,

Inner Demons storytelling weaves together a blueprint for self-analysis and problem solving, applicable to diverse situations in life and business. In his own case, Roc’s problem-solving and “no excuses” mindset enabled him to avoid the trappings of his East Oakland neighborhood, where poverty, gangs, violence, and drugs took many down the rabbit hole of despair. Keeping his distance and planning his escape, Roc paid attention to where the power and resources lay, then went after them with gusto –leading him to an MBA degree, work with Fortune 500 corporations, and ultimately, the good life in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Roc now leverages his power, influence, and platform to foster a community of cutting-edge artists and thinkers, who are not afraid to grab life by the lapel and “go there.”

Find out more about Roc and Inner Demons at RocsWorld.com.

The iGen iEverything Train is Coming, but Are You Ready?

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Technology is being consumed at an ever increasing rate causing executives, managers, and process improvement experts on the factory floor to re-define the methods of training and dissemination that have become obsolete.

Critical skills and tribal knowledge are being lost as boomers retire and training plans for new employees fall short of preparing workers for the sophistication of the new manufacturing environment.

Move over millennials, here comes the IGen! Born between 1995 and 2005 this group of tech savvy natives is the next cohort and are just now entering the workforce. IGen, or Gen Z as they are often referred, have grown up in a world of social media where Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter reign supreme. These kids are a force to be reckoned with and require access to information in ways that are familiar, immediate, and actionable. Our success depends on them because as the IGen goes, so goes the manufacturing industry, the nation, and the world.

Alliance Resource Group, in partnership with Sify Technologies has pulled together experts from manufacturing, academia and automated methodologies to develop a solution that addresses the manufacturing challenge of this next generation and identifies the key components of a successful framework including content management, dissemination methodology, scalability, and integration with current learning management systems. These components constitute a micro-learning strategy that facilitates current and future state requirements.

Alliance Resource Group (ARG), is a service disabled veteran owned business located in Newport Beach California. With a foundation in resource management, recruiting, and consulting,  ARG provides services to small and medium size companies throughout the United States.

View the ARG White Paper here! Better be prepared for total process transformation if you want to remain competitive.

Meet The Millennial Women Bringing Black Girl Magic To Advertising

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The ladies of 19th and Park, a creative marketing company are currently shaking up the male-dominated advertising industry, through their fresh take on video, social and experimental content. Meet Whitney Headen, Tahira White, and Nicole Januarie, affectionately coined as the trifecta of #blackgirlmagic.

These three millennial women are passionate about helping companies cut through the noise of the media industry to create lasting and compelling content targeted to their key consumers. 19th & Park is committed to consistently integrating new technologies, influencers, micro-influencers, celebrities, and creative strategy to reach the population at mass to not only sell products but sell the lifestyle that comes with it.

Headen, White, and Januarie, started 19th &Park with the intention of creating a more diverse representation on the creative and innovation side for brands and agencies, given that there is a lack of inclusion within the advertising, social media and communications industries for African-American women.

Not only does the agency offer a full-service production and execution team ran and operated by women but they also provide an extended team of experts that lend out creative consultation, brand development, budget management and project for all creative products. The trifecta adds diversity and efficiency to rooms where those positions have never really existed while reinventing the traditional contractor role by presenting a full agency as an in-house creative team.

Since 2017, 19th & Park has worked on creative campaigns with Issa Rae, Nike, Prudential, Smirnoff, Coca-Cola, and Intel, to name a few. I spoke with the ladies of 19th and Park to learn about how they provide a 360-degree multimedia branding experience, what sparks their creativity and advice for the millennial determined to make it in the marketing and advertising industries.

Dominique Fluker: Share your career journeys. From working in marketing and production at Essence Magazine to freelancing for companies like Nike and Samsung, what led you all to collectively establish 19th &Park?

19th &Park: Whitney Headen: I grew up in a small town in Virginia and graduated college at the height of the recession. I chose to move to New York City to pursue opportunities in media that I knew I wouldn’t have a chance at getting in Virginia. For an entire year, I worked odd jobs in retail and volunteered with no luck at landing any opportunities in my field. Right when I was ready to leave and head back to Virginia, I received an email that I got an internship at MTV about a year and a half after graduation. Although you had to be a student to be an intern, I knew this was my one shot to get into my field so I told them I was still in school and started interning. After working on set for about a year, I realized that that wasn’t my passion or the journey I wanted to take so at a networking event I met the head of digital at BET and was offered a job as his assistant immediately. This job introduced to the world of integrated marketing basically where you used production and marketing strategies to seamlessly integrate brands into digestible content.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Richer Than Oprah: How The Nation’s Wealthiest African-American Conquered Tech And Wall Street

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robert f smith

It’s a Saturday afternoon, at the height of vacation season, in one of South Beach’s hottest hotels, and Robert Smith, the founder of Vista Equity Partners, is dressed like exactly no one within a 100-mile radius of Miami: in a three-piece suit. His signature outfit–today, it’s gray plaid, accented by an indigo tie and a pink paisley pocket square–apparently doesn’t take a day off, and Smith isn’t taking one now either. He’s gathered dozens of CEOs from his portfolio companies, software firms all, for a semiannual weekend off-site to drill them in the ways he expects his companies to operate.

It’s not just the suit that’s unusual. Private equity firms almost never treat their portfolio companies, transactional chits by design, like an organic cohort. And until recently, PE, a field built on borrowing against cash-generating assets, wouldn’t touch software firms, which offer little that’s tangible to collateralize. Yet Smith has invested only in software over Vista’s 18-year history, as evidenced by the CEOs, like Andre Durand of the security-software maker Ping Identity and Hardeep Gulati of the education-management software company PowerSchool, who have been summoned to Miami Beach, waiting to swap insights about artificial intelligence and other pressing topics. And Smith deploys more than 100 full-time consultants to improve his companies.

“Nobody ever taught these guys the blocking and tackling of running a software company,” says Smith, an engineer by training, as he takes a lunch break at South Beach’s 1 Hotel to nibble on a plant-based burger. “And we do it better than any other institution on the planet.”

Smith includes the likes of Oracle and Microsoft in that boast, and his numbers back up the braggadocio. Since the Austin-based firm’s inception in 2000, Vista’s private equity funds have returned 22% net of fees annually to limited partners, according to PitchBook data. Smith’s annual realized returns, which reflect exits, stand at a staggering 31% net. His funds have already made distributions of $14 billion, including $4 billion in the last year alone.

Not surprisingly given those numbers, Vista has become America’s fastest-growing private equity firm, managing $31 billion across a range of buyout, credit and hedge funds. Smith is putting all that money to work at a breakneck pace, with 204 software acquisitions since 2010, more than any tech company or financial firm in the world. After finishing an $11 billion fundraising for its latest flagship buyout fund last year, Smith has already deployed more than half of it, focusing as usual on business-to-business software. “They recognize it’s a kind of central nervous system,” says Michael Milken, whose bond-market innovations basically birthed the modern private equity industry and who has been a co-investor in two Vista deals. Taken together, Vista’s portfolio, with 55,000 employees and more than $15 billion in revenue, ranks as the fourth-largest enterprise software company in the world.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

The Three Smartest Ways To Use LinkedIn Early In Your Career

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person using ipad

Why bother using LinkedIn when you don’t have much job experience to put on your profile page? Here’s why–and how to do it.

LinkedIn is a great place to build a network, diversify your knowledge, and find new career opportunities–even when you’re early in your career. Students and recent grads may neglect LinkedIn, thinking it’s premature to start investing time into the platform before actually building up a solid amount of work experience. That’s a mistake.

I’ve found unexpected opportunities lurking within LinkedIn that simply require some ingenuity to take advantage of. Here are a few tips that have worked for me in the past few years I’ve spent in the tech industry after graduating.

1. START NETWORKING CONVERSATIONS YOU CAN TAKE OFFLINE

Yes, LinkedIn is kind of like a database. You load it up with information on your interests, objectives, skills, and accomplishments so the leaders and peers you connect with can tell what you’re all about. Obviously, when someone checks out your profile, you’ll want it to be thorough and compelling.

But all the work you put into your profile is just a springboard for reaching out to other professionals in your industry. Whenever you come across someone you’d like to connect with on LinkedIn, your real objective should be to take the conversation you strike up offline as quickly as possible. Don’t treat LinkedIn the way you might operate on Instagram, racking up contacts you have no intention of interacting with in the real world.

LinkedIn is a means to an end, and that end goal should always be real-time conversations–ideally face to face, or by phone if necessary when you live in different places and don’t plan to visit soon. Using LinkedIn to set up face-to-face meetings with new people is a crucial and underutilized tactic for younger professionals working to build their networks in a meaningful way.

2. TREAT LINKEDIN LIKE A FREE SEMINAR

Learning quickly at a new job is one of the most exciting and daunting tasks entry- and associate-level workers usually face. First you have to learn your role and size up the work culture. Then you’ve got to get a handle on the industry and understand how your company is competing in the market. LinkedIn can actually help you with all of that.

So search for and join groups, follow leaders, comment on conversations, and share interesting stories. You can start by following industry-specific groups, first as an observer, and then as a participant as you get more comfortable. Make sure you also pay attention to what your company and its competitors are posting. Staying engaged–even by checking in on the chatter just once a week or so–can help you stay informed and ahead of the game.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

How to knock your next interview out of the park

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Women job interview

Give your interviewer a firm handshake. Make eye contact. Answer each question succinctly. Have questions to ask the interviewer at the end.

If you’ve had a job, then you’ve had an interview, and you likely know those interview essentials and these interview questions.

But if you want to move from being a viable candidate to the hiring manager’s top choice, you’ll need to go well beyond the basics. While the way you dress and present yourself is important, it will be the substance of your responses and interactions that leave the interviewer picturing you in the role—and, more importantly, being unable to imagine that anyone else could be a better fit.

Convey these four messages in your next interview, and you’re sure to hit a home run.

1. You Were Indispensable in Your Previous Jobs

Hiring managers want to hire people who have a history of getting things done. The logic goes that if you were successful in other jobs, then you’re likely to be successful in this one. Truly, nothing says “hire me” better than a track record of achieving amazing results in past jobs.

So, your first task in the interview is to describe how indispensable you were in your previous position. Now, you can’t just say, “I was the best Junior Analyst they’d ever seen, and the place will never be the same now that I’m gone”—you have to show the interviewer by providing specific examples of the actions you took and what results came because of them.

These are two of the four components of the S-T-A-R method for responding to interview questions. To use this method, set up the situation and the task that you were required to complete to provide the interviewer with background context (e.g., “In my last job as a Junior Analyst, it was my role to manage the invoicing process”), but spend the bulk of your time describing what you actually did (the action) and what you achieved (the result).

“In one month, I streamlined the process, which saved my group 10 man-hours each month and reduced errors on invoices by 5%.”

Don’t worry that someone else could have done it if they were in your position—they weren’t. It was your job, your actions, your results.

2. You Will Be Awesome in This New Job

Unfortunately, success in one role doesn’t necessarily translate to being a fit in another role—and to convince the interviewer that you’ll be able to hit the ground running and be awesome in the new job, you must explain how your skills translate. In particular, you want to highlight those skills that specifically address the issues that the hiring manager is facing.

To understand those issues, conduct industry research prior to the interview. Are there certain themes that come up again and again in job descriptions in your field, like being a shark at sales or a detail-oriented perfectionist? Also, listen closely to what the interviewer is asking—often, she’ll ask leading questions or share challenges that others before you have had in the role.

For example, say the interviewer asks, “We have tight deadlines and have to turn around our projects quickly. Can you work under time pressure?”

Don’t just say yes—give a response that showcases your skills and how they’d transfer, like: “Absolutely. In my last job, we often had short deadlines. I was great at managing these situations because I focused on consistent communication with the team, and used my organization skills to stay on top of everything we had going on.” Then, provide a specific example.

3. You’re the Perfect Fit for This Job

Companies have interview guidelines designed to hire the most qualified employees based on experience and aptitude, but let’s be honest: Often a big factor is likability.

Hiring managers don’t generally hire people that they don’t connect or vibe with. Of course, they don’t often say that—they cloak it in statements like, “She’s smart, but I just don’t think that she is the right fit for the role.” But the truth is, you won’t get hired if you’re not liked.

So, to get the job, you must connect with the interviewer. I’m not suggesting that you crack jokes or become buddies—but you should be confident and interact as if you’re already working together, through eye contact, active listening, smiling, and avoiding nervous laughter. I call it “relaxed formality.”

It’s an interview, so don’t get too comfortable, but try to be yourself and have a natural conversation.

4. You Really Want This Job

You’re almost there! But, it’s not enough that you’re capable of doing the job and would be pleasant to work with—you have to actually want the job. Hiring managers, after all, are looking for employees that really want to be there and will be part of the team for the long haul.

So, you want to show enthusiasm for the role. Not bouncy cheerleader “spirit,” but the type of enthusiasm that comes from understanding what the role entails, how you can add value in the role based on your previous experiences, and what new challenges it offers to you for growth and development.

Think, “One of the reasons I’m so excited about this role is because it allows me to leverage my client management skills [your expertise] with larger clients on more complex deals [the new challenge].”

And, of course, you’ll want to follow up with a genuine, seal-the-deal thank you note!

Read more great career advice articles from The Muse here

Author
Nicole Lindsay

A Leading Voice in Diversity and Inclusion in Tech

LinkedIn
Wayne Sutton

Wayne Sutton is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Change Catalyst and its Tech Inclusion programs. Change Catalyst is dedicated to exploring innovative solutions to diversity and inclusion in tech through the Tech Inclusion Conference, training, workshops and the Change Catalyst Startup Fellows Program.

Sutton’s experience includes years of establishing partnerships with large brands to early stage startups. As a leading voice in diversity and inclusion in tech, Sutton shares his thoughts on solutions and culture in various media outlets, where he has been featured in TechCrunch, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. In addition to mentoring and advising early stage startups, Sutton’s life goal is to educate entrepreneurs who are passionate about using technology to change the world.

Wayne has over 14 years’ experience in technology, design, and business development. Wayne has been recognized as one of the Silicon Valley 100 coolest people in tech, one of the 52 hottest new stars in Silicon Valley, one of the 46 Most Important African-Americans In Technology by Business Insider and one of the Top 100 most influential black people on social media in 2014.

In 2014 Wayne co-founded BUILDUP, a non-profit designed to support an inclusive ecosystem of entrepreneurs through educational workshops and fellows program for underrepresented tech founders. In 2011, Wayne co-founded the NewMe Accelerator, the first minority led startup accelerator/incubator in Silicon Valley which was featured in CNN Black in America 4. Prior to NewMe he worked in media in Raleigh, NC for NBC17 and the News and Observer. In 2009, Wayne was the co-founder of TriOut, a mobile location-based startup in Raleigh, NC which exited. Wayne has worked with large brands, Inc 500 companies and advises several technology startups. With a passion for community Wayne has organized Social Media Conferences, tech meetups, and hackathons such as the world’s first Food Hackathon, which assembled leading food innovators, chefs, developers, designers and entrepreneurs to collaborate on solutions in the food ecosystem.

Wayne has been featured on CNN, BBC, USA Today, TechCrunch, Mashable, Black Enterprise, and various online media outlets. Being an early adopter, Wayne was one of the first 1000 users on Twitter, which has led to a loyal following not only on Twitter, but also Facebook and Google+. His blog SocialWayne.com has been ranked one of the 50 best technology and social media blogs in the world over the years.

Wayne is a past TED attendee in 2012. With a passion for education and storytelling, Wayne has spoken at several universities and major internet and technology focused conferences, such as Stanford, UC Berkeley, Duke, UNC, NC State, TEDx, World Wide Web(WWW) Conference, O’Reilly Web 2.0 Expo, South By South West (SXSW), DockerCon 2015 and for the U.S. Embassy Jamaica during Global Entrepreneurship Week 2015.

Source: socialwayne.com

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