Sound Bite: “Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder.”

“[L]adders are limiting–people can move up or down, on or off. Jungle gyms offer more creative exploration. There’s only one way to get to the top of a ladder, but there are many ways to get to the top of a jungle gym.” -Sheryl Sandberg in Lean In

As I approach my senior year I have been reflecting more and more on my past experiences and how they have added up to launch me into the real world. My parents have been constantly asking me where my Big 4 internship is. I keep comparing myself to all my fellow colleagues who have also followed that common path–internship with abig company to job offer to career. Needless to say,  I felt a bit of panic as I reflected on how I “didn’t compare” to my peers.

However, when I sat down and truly reflected on my own, I realized there’s really no reason to panic.  While my high school peers were sacrificing time for expensive SAT classes and stuffing their minds with vocab words, I stood by the extracurricular activities that gave me the leadership experience and work ethics I continue to use today. Despite not focusing on my SAT scores while most of everyone else seemed to deem it a life-or-death matter,  I still got into Boston University’s School of  Management. In short,  what I’m trying to say is, I didn’t always “climb straight up the ladder” (to stay with the metaphor) but I still always got where I needed to get.

So, for those of you who are feeling slightly panicky because you didn’t get into the Ivy League college, that big company internship or immediately get that  anticipated job offer, so what, you missed a step on the jungle gym. There’s always going to be another way to get the top. You just have to keep your eyes on the prize, be persistent and be creative.

Tech Feature: Google’s Pay-Per-Gaze

“The Future of Advertising: ‘Pay-Per-Gaze’ Is Just the Beginning” http://feedly.com/k/14QB1SX

Alright we’ve already heard plenty about Google’s new ‘Pay-Per-Gaze’ and its impact on the advertisement industry. However, what I’m excited about is the potential new wealth of data this will bring in for the marketing industry.

With the new eyesight tracking technology Google will undoubtedly gain a while new wealth of information on exactly what people are looking at. When you’re walking down the street are you looking down to calculate your next step, up at the billboards next to the store signs, or gazing thoughtfully into the sky? Which direction holds your gaze the longest? Which ads hold your gaze the longest? With this technology we can track proof on what you’re looking at. Think of the wealth of information we’ll gain on human behavior. Just the thought of all this knowledge excites me to no end. I can’t wait until this technology is further developed. This combined with the science of neuromarketing will change the game of marketing research and give companies valuable insight on consumers.

If you think it’s impressive that Target can predict your pregnancy with the information they have now, imagine what they can do with more information. In afew years Wanamaker’s famous saying, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”, may no longer be a tough reality.

Insightly CRM

Insightly CRM is a more basic CRM application focused on allowing you to better communicate within the company and manage projects. It is definitely one of the best project management tools I’ve seen so far without the excess of extra features. Insightly is free for a company with up to 3 users making it a great CRM application to look into for small businesses.

1) Ease of Use

Insightly’s interface is not the most aesthetically appealing or the easiest to navigate. However, they do provide a nice walk-through tour on each page when you first open the accounts. It took me slightly longer to figure out how to use the system because it is laid out differently than most other CRM applications. Also the fact that its toolbar is a tiny thing hidden in the upper right hand corner made certain functions harder to find.

2) Tasks & Reminders

Insightly does an amazing job in terms of auto-populating tasks and activities. I find this feature to be great because Insightly not only allows you to auto-populate multiple tasks at once, but also create multiple different activity sets. These ‘activity sets’ can be added to your contacts, organizations, opportunities and projects. This is the first CRM application I have tested that allows you to do this. In addition, auto-populating these activities sets are a lot easier to do than in the other applications. Watch this video to see how easy it really is:

3) Reporting & Business Insight

Sadly, Insightly’s reporting and business insight features aren’t as developed as their collaborative and project management features. Insightly provides 10 different reports mainly focused on opportunities and activities.

However, what it lack in reports it makes up for in ability to track contacts and projects. Insightly has a Link feature through with you can link contacts to contacts and list their relationships, contacts to opportunities, opportunities to projects, ect. This is extremely important because it allows you to easily jump from one project to the connected contact or see what relationships your contacts have. For example, if you have both the husband and wife listed you can easily jump from one contact to the other or note who is the decision-maker in the household.

4) Customizability

Insightly essentially provides the same amount of customizability as Nimble. However, unlike other CRM applications, it does not auto-populate pipeline stages or any other labels beyond the basic contacts labels.

Insightly’s paid version also features integration with other small business applications on the Google Chrome Web store.

Nimble CRM

Nimble CRM definitely wins the prize for best interface and features of the CRM applications I have tested so far. It is a CRM software focused on managing contacts via social media outlets such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, ect. 

1) Ease of Use

Nimble’s social media style interface is easy for users familiar with social media sites to use. The application allows users to integrate all their social media accounts into one page and allows users to work directly from that page. For example, you can send Facebook messages, emails, ect. directly from the Contacts tab.

You can also manage your notifications and track your feeds directly via the Signals tabs. Nimble also currently has a Social Signals beta feature out that notifies you of certain engagement opportunities, such as birthdays or job changes, for you to use an excuse to get in touch.

2) Tasks & Reminders

Nimble allows you to populate Activities (the Nimble term for Tasks) directly onto opened Deals or onto the Calendar provided. Although Nimble does not provide email reminders, its “Today” tab provides you with a To-Do List to the right.

3) Reporting & Business Insight

Unfortunately Nimble’s reporting feature is lacking. The only reporting function Nimble provides is an overview of your company’s Pipeline.

However, Nimble does have a different feature that is a cut above the rest. Nimble’s Today page features 2 important sections committed to helping you keep up with you social networks–Today’s Top Contacts and Birthdays and Job Changes.

Today’s Top Contacts pulls contacts from your social media accounts, asks you to rate them on importance, and uses the information to figure out what contacts are important to you. This application is also extremely useful as a small reminder about the contacts you have made. You can also say how often you want to follow up with these contacts and Nimble will serve as a small reminder to ensure your contacts don’t fall between the cracks.

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The Birthdays and Job Changes and Nimble’s new Signals feature furthers your ability to reach out to your networks by notifying you of birthdays and recent job changes. These important milestones–such as birthdays, job changes, new connections, etc.—provide the perfect excuse to touch base or get back in touch with your contacts.

4) Customizability

With Nimble you can easily customize your data fields, the pipeline stages for your Deals and your email signature. Because there is no reports feature and Nimble is mainly based on streaming your social networks into one more manageable page, there is little more to customize beyond that.

I want to add that Nimble can also integrate with multiple other popular small business applications such as MailChimp, Wufoo, HubSpot, and Rapportive. It also connects with DropBox and allows you to attach DropBox files directly to your contacts.

21 Day Meditation Challenge

So sorry for going MIA for a while! I have been visiting family at home and at Taiwan and have had little access to Wi-Fi.

Recently I have been reading up a lot on emotional habits and mindsets. Essentially the idea is that you have an emotional habit. This emotional habit is the emotion that you default to when you are in your neutral state–it can be happy, positive, sad, lonely, etc. As goes without saying, a bad emotional habit would be a negative one such as feeling lonely or sad. Unfortunately this is also the most addicting and common emotional habit.

Emotional habits can strongly affect how you act, how you hold yourself, and your general success and happiness. That being said I have taken on a 21-Day Meditation Challenge in order to adopt a more positive emotional habit. During these 21 days I will aim to do 5 things each day:

  1. Exercise
  2. Meditate
  3. Journal (More specifically about the positive event of the day)
  4. List 3 Things to be Grateful About
  5. Perform a Random Act of Kindness

I rate each day on a 5 star scale based on whether or not I did each point and how well I did it.

Today is Day 6 and I have decided to share points 3 and 4 with you.

3 Things to be Grateful About:

  1. I am grateful for the fact that my mosquito bites don’t itch too much. I have collected 18 mosquito bites during my stay in Taiwan so far. Mosquito are possibly the most miserable things to exist. They always somehow manage to bite you in the most awkward of places and the bites always tend to itch at the most inconvenient times (like at 4am in the morning when you wake up to an overwhelming sensation of itchiness all over your body or in the middle of lunch in a nice restaurant with your grandpa for Chinese Father’s Day). I digress. I’m glad that this visit’s mosquito bites are quite tame in comparison to before.
  2. I am grateful that I have gained the respect of the people I respect most. Few people can say that the people they admire do admire them back. For this I am eternally grateful and want to continue to work hard to deserve the respect I have earned.
  3. I am grateful am in Taiwan with family. This time spent away from Internet connection and bonding with my family has given me much more time to reflect on my growth in the past few years and reconnect with my beloved siblings.

Highlight of the day:

Arm wrestling with my siblings and my grandpa. We were sitting downstairs in the newspaper room when my brother and I decided to enter into an arm wrestling contest. As anticipated, I won. However, we both lost to my nearly-80-year-old grandfather. Who knew he was so strong! All in all, it was a fun and great bonding experience for our grandfather and us. It has been so long since we last played with him and seen him laugh like that. It’s nice to be able to see him looking like how he did when I was younger–strong and laughing.

So far the challenge has had good days (5 stars!) and bad ones. There were definitely days where I did not want to get up to exercise or dreaded the 20 minutes of meditation (a lot harder than it sounds). But ending a day knowing I’ve made it through and exercised enough willpower to gain 4 or 5 stars feels great. I also feel that these habits have proven to be keystone habits by indirectly positively influencing other aspects of my life. I feel more patient, better at withstanding pressure and more focused.

I also want to share with you the two resources that have inspired me to take on changing my emotional habit and enter into this 21-Day Meditation Challenge. The first is The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and in BusinessThis is a wonderful book teaching you about habits, how to adopt and change them, and how they can affect your everyday life. It’s also extremely useful for all you businesses out there. It teaches you how to create habits within a corporation and how these keystone habits can resonate and affect the rest of the corporation in a positive manner. The second this a TED talk:

On an unrelated note, for those of you who are waiting for my next CRM post, I apologize for the delay. I have gotten a bit off track in the last month. However, I promise the next post will be coming up soon. Look forward to it!

Yendo CRM

Because I have already reviewed Yendo Accounting, I thought it would be fitting for me to also review it Yendo’s compatible CRM application as well. Yendo CRM is a recent and new addition to Yendo’s business softwares. Although Yendo does not have nearly as many features as Zoho CRM or SalesForce.com, it does have all the features a small business or start-up would need.

1) Ease of Use
For those of you that are new to CRM or don’t require the extra confusing features of the more advanced CRM softwares, Yendo does a great job in providing the basics of what is needed from a CRM software.

With Yendo building your relationship is a two step process: 1) You create your contact 2) you create your opportunity based on that contact. From the opportunity, you work on the job and label it within the opportunity tab. This makes CRM easy for first-time users and weeds out the extra steps of converting your contact form one tab to another.

Yendo also allows you to update your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn directly from their webpage.

2) Tasks & Reminders
Unfortunately, Yendo CRM doesn’t have this feature.

3) Reporting & Business Insight
Yendo CRM only offers the pipeline report in which it shows you what stages each of your opportunities are in. This report also shows you value you have in each stage

4) Customizability
Because Yendo only has fewer extras, it is much easier to customize the program. You can customize each stage of your opportunity allowing you to show more or less information when looking at your pipeline report.

Sound Bite: Skills and Knowledge the Biggest Benefit of Business School?

Recently Business Insider has come out with their 2013 Best Business Schools ranking. As a proud student of Boston University, I am happy to say that our School of Management has placed #20–before NYU’s Stern, UCLA’s Anderson, UC Berkeley’s Haas, and USC’s Marshall (these business schools being the schools most popularly-and possibly stereotypically–named in terms of prestigious, must-go-to schools).

In Business Insider’s survey, an overwhelmingly large majority (~70%) chose Skills and Knowledge as the biggest benefit of business school. Network of Contacts falls in second with ~20% and Brand Value of the School and Degree in third with ~7%. In determining these numbers, Business Insider asked professionals to select the most valuable asset a business school provides. (The survey question exactly was: “In your opinion, what is the most valuable asset a business school provides?”)

While I am happy to hear that professionals do consider Skills and Knowledge as the biggest benefit of business school, I do wish Business Insider went about gathering this data in a different way. It would have been interesting to see, on a scale of 1-10, what each attribute ranks in the decision process. In looking at it this way, we might find that–although professionals do believe Skills and Knowledge are #1–Skills and Knowledge is only more important than Network by a negligible 1 or 2 points.

Sound Bite: Disconnect Between the Consious and the Subconscious

In my first marketing class I was immediately taught to gather consumer data through surveys. We went through the meticulous process of learning how to word questions, what format to use and what order to put them in. All this to the end of getting the best,  least biased results. However, recently I’ve learned something rather disturbing in my recent readings.

In reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell and Buyology by Martin Lindstrom, I’ve quickly learned that there is a disconnect between what consumers want and what they perceive they want. When they answer surveys or questions they go through an entire conscious thought process in which they filter through their answers. Whatever answer they give is based on who they perceive themselves to be (this can be extremely different based on how parallel who they are is to who they want to be).

This plays into the famous saying: ” Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” -John Wanaker. If you don’t know what survey answers are accurate, how can you know what will and won’t sell?

Luckily the new field of nueromarketing presents us with a potential solution to our problem. Nueromarketing taps into the subconscious by using technology to read brain waves and immediate reactions to advertisements. The reactions we have before filtering through them in our conscious.

But, even with this technology, I can’t help but wonder, how congruent are my conscious and subconscious?

Sound Bite: Consulting vs. Entrepreneurship

Imagine you had a problem you needed to be solved. You have two potential people you can go to to get this problem solved:

Person #1: Offers to recommend a solution for your problem if you pay a immediate fee of $100,000.
Person #2: Says he’ll work to solve your problem for the bare minimum payment. He only asks that he makes enough for rent and food and he will work to find a solution. However, when he solves your solution, he requires 40% of whatever profit you make thanks to the solution he found.

Which person would you choose to solve your problem? While Person#1’s solution is not a for-sure solution, you know exactly how much you will lose. On the other hand, Person#2 may take years to find a working solution and the cost of his/her rent a food may exceed that initial investment of Person #1. Not to mention, Person#2’s solution may come too late. Either way, you are taking a risk.

In looking at personality types you can relate them to consulting vs. entrepreneurship. Person #1 would be the consultant. In hiring a consultant you pay an upfront fee for them to look into your problem and recommend a solution. There is no guarantee the solution will work. However, they do have the past experience and know-how to create a reasonable  and likely solution. In addition, the incentive values for Person #1 are more immediate. They want the money first and then provide you with the service.

On the other hand, Person #2 is  the entrepreneur.  He/She is willing to wait for the award at the end and take the risk of there not being one. Although Person #2 may not have as much experience, he/she willing to work hard to find your solution no matter the time or money. The incentive values for Person #2 are long term. They set a goal in the distance and are willing to risk everything to find the gold at the end of the rainbow.

Which one would you contract? Which person are you?

Sound Bites: Blogging in a new form

Recently a friend of mine recommended Seth Godin’s blog to me. What really caught my eye about this particular blog was the way Godin posts in his blog. Unlike most other blogs, Godin’s paragraphs are generally short–1-3 sentences long–and introduce one thought at a time. I call these short idea filled paragraphs “sound bites.”

I love this style because it simply presents an idea or new perpective and allows the writer to share ideas and the reader to take the idea and let their own imaginations run wild. Not to mention, these short blog posts are convenient and quick reads.

That being said. I want to begin trying this blogging method and start sharing my own “sound bites” with you.