Tag Archives: Success

STEM Candidates Can't Deliver Everything You Need. Success Requires Employees From the Arts.
October 26, 2018 12:00 am|Comments (0)

I love STEM. Without STEM students, there wouldn’t be doctors, or the engineers who put together the Inc.com site. Big data has revolutionized the way business is done, and it would be impossible without STEM skills. But when young people ask me what they should study, I always encourage them to consider liberal arts.

Businesses will need people to translate computer language into human language. When big data analytics uncovers a hidden pattern, someone needs to draw conclusions from the information and develop an action plan. If a robot breaks down, someone needs to explain to management why it happened – and why it won’t happen again.

Here are more reasons why you should hire someone from the arts:

1. Fresh Perspective

Hiring an artist is like getting an injection of creativity. Leaders can use this to better market to their customers, and to better connect with their employees. Artists aren’t afraid to be unconventional, but they have no time for inauthenticity. Having these elements as part of your company culture is a great way to attract high quality candidates, and will appeal to the right kind of customers.

2. Agility, with Mission Focus

3. Budget Management

The arts are chronically underfunded. If you’re looking for an employee who can stretch the value of a dollar, the arts are a great place to look. Artists use their creativity, open-mindedness, and pain tolerance to make it work. They’re able to stay on course no matter the budgetary constraints, and produce something that looks and feels like money was no object.

4. Personality Tolerance

The arts are full of people with personality – and the spectrum of personality is wide! Imagine putting together a theatre production. You have to work with an idealistic writer, a Method actor, a union stagehand, and a theatre director trying to keep donors happy. People in the arts are used to handling a variety of personalities and balancing competing interests while keeping everyone happy and working together. It’s a skill any office can benefit from, and can help keep your company humming.

5. Content Over Medium

This is perhaps the most important reason you should hire someone from the arts. With constantly changing technology and evolving tastes of customers, it can be difficult for business to find the right way to connect with employees and consumers. But here’s what many business leaders forget: the method of communication doesn’t matter if the content is garbage. To reach your desired audience, your content needs to make an impact. Artists are expressive, and know how to use humor, trauma, and beauty to make an emotional impact on the audience. No matter the medium, artists can effectively communicate your message, helping your culture blossom and your business grow.

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10 Charts That Will Change Your Perspective Of NetFlix's Massive Success In The Cloud
July 12, 2018 6:46 pm|Comments (0)

Netflix standardizing on a proven cloud platform and collaborating with Amazon Web Services development teams on machine-learning security initiatives and many others is proving to be a powerful catalyst fueling the subscription services’ global growth.   Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Netflix’s exponential growth this year is attributable in part to the cloud platform decisions made years ago that enable their subscription-based business model to scale globally securely. Last year at Amazon’s AWS re:Invent 2017 Conference,  Greg Peters, Chief Product Officer of Netflix provided insights into how closely Netflix and AWS work together to create innovative new services based on AWS’ advances in machine learning-powered security, developer apps, and scalability. It’s an insightful session into how Netflix is relying on Amazon to do the heavy lifting of infrastructure development and can be viewed here, AWS re:Invent 2017 – Fireside Chat: Steve Schmidt, Jenny Brinkley, and Greg Peters of Netflix.

AWS and Netflix development teams are using machine learning-powered security to analyze data access patterns and look for anomalous account activity. The discussion includes many of the foundational concepts of Next-Gen Access (NGA) that is foundational to attaining Zero Trust Security (ZTS) across an enterprises’ IT infrastructure. AWS and Netflix are looking at how to capture the myriad of data points each access point to their subscription service enables daily and assess the risk of a breach in real-time, much like what Centrify is doing today. Greg Peters also defines scale as the ability to accommodate a growing, diverse base of developers with a paved path network that enables them to create and innovate quickly. Netflix has a strong DevOps culture where engineers have the freedom to spin up a new AWS instance to try out new ideas in seconds without having to wait for IT to approve them.

The following are ten charts that illustrate Netflix’s rapid growth as a cloud-based subscription business:

  • 27% of Americans prefer Netflix over any other platform, including basic cable and broadcast TV according to a recent survey by investment banking firm Cowen & Company. Netflix’ popularity is soaring with Americans in the 18 – 34 age group with 39.7% naming Netflix as their favorite TV platform. The following illustrates just how dominant Netflix has become the TV platform of choice. Scaling to this level of popularity is possible in part because of the decision to standardize on a single cloud platform and work to have Netflix-specific features including on the AWS roadmap. Source: Netflix Is Americans’ Platform of Choice for TV Content, Statista, July 5, 2018.

Source: Netflix Is Americans’ Platform of Choice for TV Content, Statista, July 5, 2018.

  • Netflix’s latest quarterly revenue of $ 3.7B is evenly distributed between domestic and international streaming, earned from 118.9M global subscribers as of March 31rst of this year. Q1 2018 revenue is evenly distributed between Domestic Streaming (49%) and International (49%). David Goldstein’s excellent graphic below provides a succinct analysis of the Netflix Income Statement for Q1, 2018 and a profile of subscriber levels over time. Source: Netflix Strong Q1 for Revenues, Profits, and Members by David Goldstein on April 19, 2018. Mekko Graphics.

Source: Netflix Strong Q1 for Revenues, Profits, and Members by David Goldstein on April 19, 2018. Mekko Graphics.

  • Netflix dominates the U.S. video-on-demand (VoD) market with 77% of all VoD services subscribers. With a 21% lead on Amazon, Netflix has market momentum in the U.S. where the strategy of creating more original content is paying off with subscriber growth and a greater variety of content density than their many competitors. Source: Statista Global Consumer Survey, 2018

Source: Statista Global Consumer Survey, 2018

  • 43% of all U.S. VoD users subscribe to both Netflix and Amazon Video. Subscribing to multiple services is common with U.S. VoD users with 83% subscribing to more than one service. Nearly 1 in 3 U.S. VoD subscribers (29%) are subscribing to five or more services. While so many subscription-based businesses struggle to gain customers and minimize churn, Netflix has devised an aggressive strategy of making their subscription, ad-free model succeed. Reed Hastings, CEO, credits the intensity of effort and focus they are putting on creating exceptional, high-value content that attracts new subscribers and makes them loyal. A video clip of a recent interview with him and other members of the senior management team is here. Source: Statista Global Consumer Survey, 2018

Source: Statista Global Consumer Survey, 2018

  • Netflix is projected to have over 114M households subscribing online by 2020. Netflix is growing its global household subscriber based at 8.96% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR), increasing from 81.52M households in 2016 to over 114M in 2020. Localized Netflix-produced content globally is growing faster than senior management originally anticipated, with 3%, a Brazilian science fiction (sci-fi) series produced in Portuguese being an example of one of the original content projects doing exceptionally well in 2018. Sources: Netflix Investor Relations and Digital TV Research.

Sources: Netflix Investor Relations and Digital TV Research.

  • The Asia-Pacific subscriber base is projected to grow at an 18.47% CAGR through 2023, making it the fastest growing region globally. Western Europe is also forecast to gain subscribers, increasing by16 million between 2018 and 2023. Latin America, where Netflix is enjoying success with originally produced content that is being well-received globally, is predicted to gain 8 million subscribers in five years. Sources: Netflix Investor Relations and Digital TV Research.

Sources: Netflix Investor Relations and Digital TV Research.

  • By 2020 Netflix’s streaming business in the U.S. alone is projected to deliver over $ 7B in revenue. From 2018 to 2020, streaming revenues are projected to grow at a CAGR of 8%, jumping from $ 5.4B in 2017 to $ 7.2B in 2020. Between 2011 and 2014, Netflix more than doubled streaming revenues from U.S.-based subscribers jumping from $ 1.6B to $ 3.4B. Sources: Digital TV Research, Netflix Investor Relations, and Nakono.

Sources: Digital TV Research, Netflix Investor Relations, and Nakono.

  • While price is the most appealing feature for 56% of respondents to recent Tivo/Fiercecable survey, members having the flexibility of creating their profiles (52.9%) increases content consumption across all devices. Speaking from experience in a household where there are five separate Netflix accounts, each person having the opportunity to personalize their content preferences is a major advantage of NetFlix over other streaming services. Search is the third favorite feature and autoplay fourth with 43.4% of respondents selecting this feature. Multiple responses were allowed to this question. Source: TiVo & Fiercecable study completed December 2017

Source: TiVo & Fiercecable study completed December 2017

  • Netflix’ content strategy is paying off with strong levels of loyalty across all age groups, including the 50 – 64-year-old segment who often perceive TV as long-standing broadcast ad-based networks. Netflix’s cloud strategy has made it possible to immediately scale their original content across national and regional markets immediately, as is the case with their sci-fi series 3% which is produced in Portuguese for the Brazilian market. Netflix’ senior management has found a strong reception for 3% across other nations as well. Their cloud platform makes it possible to scale this and other series globally in real-time, outrunning competitors who have not invested so heavily into a scalable, secure cloud platform. Source: TiVo & Fiercecable study completed December 2017

Source: TiVo & Fiercecable study completed December 2017

Source: Netflix’s International Expansion Picks up Steam by Martin Armstrong, Statista. April 17, 2018.

Louis Columbus is an enterprise software strategist with expertise in analytics, cloud computing, CPQ, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), e-commerce and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).

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LeBron James is a Superstar. But Great Leaders Use This Superior Strategy to Find Success
May 24, 2018 6:07 pm|Comments (0)

For anyone who follows NBA basketball, there’s a war going on right now.

One one side, there’s LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, struggling to overcome the incredible team-based play of the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, it’s exactly the same scenario.

The Golden State Warriors are loaded to the gills with superstars like Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, but they play like a well-oiled machine. James Harden, meanwhile, is one of the most talented players we’ve seen in years and a likely league MVP–his dribbling and shooting prowess makes you do a double-take. Yet, it’s hard to ignore the fact that everyone else on the Houston Rockets (except Chris Paul) is often on the court standing around, waiting to see what happens. Four teams, but two completely different strategies. We’ll soon find out which strategy will prevail in the next few days.

The war raging between “team” and “superstar” has been around awhile. In business, you might be tempted to rely on a small group of overachievers. Yet, nothing quite compares to a larger group of people all working together in perfect synergy.

I was watching the Cavaliers the other night and realized the “old school” approach of driving the lane, passing the ball to the superstar on almost every play, and hoping that one person scoring 42 points is a good strategy matches up perfectly with how some leaders operate in business. “Give the ball to the superstar” is a common tactic.  

It doesn’t really work, and part of the reason has to do with how teams function. In my own experience, individuals who can ramp up sales quickly are like a meme or a viral marketing video. It’s a big hit, but it doesn’t really lead to long-term success. I agree James is one of the best ever, but you could easily argue that one-guy-driving-the-lane has not worked. It has not helped the Cavs win an NBA Championship. Only when James surrounds himself with exemplary players, not pawns in a chess match, does he usually win the final series.

It won’t help your prospects as a leader, either. Teams in business who work together are far stronger, far more productive, and find far more success than a couple of greats.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

In one startup, I remember hiring someone who had exceptional graphic design skills. She could make Photoshop dance. And, she could crank out brochures and other items faster than anyone else. At meetings, she was always a little bored. But the other team members were also hungry to learn. Over an entire year, the other team members eventually learned how to use the design apps, shared ideas with each other, found workarounds, and built up their repertoire. In meetings, they would come up with far better ideas as a group. That one superstar was wildly talented, but had to rely on her own prowess.

Eventually, we ended up switching her to a different department, one that needed a solo producer. The rest of the team flourished, grew creatively, and became way more productive. There’s something about how a team of, say, five people working together creates more productivity than five individuals working alone. Each person fuels the entire team, generates new ideas, and pushes every project forward.

Watching the Cavs lately reminds me of that designer. Just give the ball to LeBron is not a great strategy against teams like the Boston Celtics. It becomes one against five. We’ll see how it all works out, but I’ll still hold to my view. Teams win in the end.

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3 Ways to Sow the Seeds of Your Startup's Success This Spring
May 17, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

Many business owners measure the success of their company by how much profit they’re bringing in. This isn’t necessarily the wrong way, and a large part of business is learning how to minimize expenses while maximizing revenue, but for fledgling startups that might not yet have a large customer base, these metrics aren’t ideal. Instead, a good indicator you’re on the road to startup success is when you find yourself in a productive, thriving ecosystem.

A Blossoming Ecosystem

An ecosystem is partly defined by the geographic area where you’ve chosen to put down your company’s roots, but it’s also made up of the people you choose to surround yourself with. These people might be your employees, advisors, and investors, in addition to other counselors such as law or finance professionals. The attitudes and outlooks of all of these individuals contribute to your ecosystem, and for your business to thrive, their impact needs to be positive.

Good influences will help you talk through decisions and support you when you’re not sure which option to pursue. They’ll also help you connect with other individuals who they think might have something to offer to you and your business — and the best team members will do so without being asked. To get the most out of your ecosystem, though, you’ll also need to give back.

What can you do to help the people you work with? What are their goals and aspirations, and how are you and your business capable of helping them achieve those goals? In an unhealthy ecosystem, one organism hoards all of the resources for itself. In a healthy one, organisms cooperate to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes that are greater than what any party involved could have achieved on its own.

Once you’ve made sure your ecosystem is the kind that breeds successful businesses and partnerships, take these three steps to cultivate your startup’s success:

1. Network to help your startup sprout essential partnerships.

With the right mindset, networking can happen in any place and at any time, sprouting relationships that are valuable for your startup’s growth. Whether you’re on a bus, at the airport, or getting some work done at your favorite coffee shop, be approachable and strive to make connections on a daily basis. That’s not all there is to it, however. Justin Zastrow, CEO of Smart Armor, points out that “Networking and ‘showing up’ is only half the battle. In addition to networking, you need to learn how to meaningfully and authentically connect with people. Otherwise, your networking efforts will be wasted.”

So much of business is about relationships, but the literature tends to overemphasize forming new relationships and underemphasize nurturing the ones you create. Don’t let connections wither away by falling out of touch. Reach out to your contacts on a regular basis to see what you can offer or how you can help.

2. Join a startup support organization that will help you establish strong roots.

Accelerators and incubators are valuable communities that help startups and entrepreneurs build a solid foundation. These groups will help provide you with a number of key elements necessary to fertilize your startup, including mentorship, working space, networking opportunities, and even financial backing in some cases.

The Ameren Accelerator, for instance, is a partnership that combines the resources of a leading energy corporation, a lauded accelerator program, and a state university system to produce an ecosystem in which energy-focused startups can flourish. The accelerator selects five to seven companies for a 12-week program that connects them with mentors, including current and former business executives, in addition to providing funding opportunities, office space, and other perks.

Different accelerators cater to different industries, so find one that fits your startup idea and do everything you can to join the community.

3. Keep finances fertile by outsourcing.

Startup owners often feel the need to fill certain roles with full-time employees when they could save money and get a better product by outsourcing. If you’re running an e-commerce website, you don’t necessarily have a full team of developers on the payroll, and the same can be true for marketing or finance. An in-house CMO will end up costing a fortune, so don’t be afraid to outsource this role.

Erik Huberman, one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 and founder and CEO of Hawke Media, says outsourcing positions like a CFO or CMO can save your company between 40 to 65 percentHe explains, “For less money, you can contract someone who will not only get the job done efficiently, but who will also not be looking to justify, retain, or grow his or her in-house position.”

If your startup is like most, you don’t have unlimited resources. Instead of blowing through your budget on one big hire, sow more than one seed by outsourcing certain positions.

Your product might not make it to market until late summer, or you might be hoping to secure a seed investment to finance your dream. No matter what stage of the startup process you’re in, you can set yourself up for success each day by taking the right steps to encourage healthy growth.

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20 Years Ago, Steve Jobs Revealed the Single Word That Led to Apple's Great Success
November 27, 2017 12:13 pm|Comments (0)

The power of focus.

Without it, you’re doomed to a life of distraction. A life in which others’ priorities dictate on what you spend your time. As you move from one shiny object to another, you may get lots of things done–but few things ever get done well.

Or, you may find your life is ruled by procrastination, where doing great work is derailed by social media and YouTube videos.

But how can you learn to achieve focus, in a world that is built to distract?

20 years ago, Steve Jobs answered that question.

In 1997, Steve Jobs had just returned to Apple, the company he had been ousted from over a decade before. He was answering questions from developers at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference when someone raised the topic of “OpenDoc,” a software engineering framework that Jobs decided to kill upon his return.  

In addressing the question about OpenDoc, Jobs took opportunity to drop some major wisdom.

“I know some of you spent a lot of time working on stuff that we put a bullet in the head of,” begins Jobs. “I apologize. I feel your pain.” The audience laughed appreciatively.

He continued:

“But Apple suffered for several years from lousy engineering management. And there were people that were going off in 18 different directions–doing arguably interesting things in each one of them. Good engineers. Lousy management.

And what happened was, you look at the farm that’s been created, with all these different animals going in different directions, and it doesn’t add up. The total is less than the sum of the parts. And so we had to decide: What are the fundamental directions we’re going in? And what makes sense and what doesn’t? And there were a bunch of things that didn’t. And microcosmically they might have made sense; macrocosmically they made no sense.

…When you think about focusing, you think, well, focusing is about saying yes. No. 

Focusing is about saying no.

Boom drops the dynamite.

Focusing is about saying no.

This ability to say no was arguably Jobs’s greatest skill. When Apple brought Jobs back, his first order of business was to shrink the product line–and make sure whatever Apple made, it made extremely well.

“Steve was the most remarkably focused person I’ve ever met in my life,” said Jony Ive, Apple’s design chief and the man Steve Jobs once described as his “spiritual partner.” Ive went on to explain why achieving focus isn’t as easy as it appears on the surface.

Jobs would regularly ask him: ‘How many things have you said no to today?’ Ive says he would have “sacrificial” things he turned down. “Well, I said no to this. And no to that,” he would tell his boss. “But he knew that I wasn’t vaguely interested in doing those things anyway.”

“What focus means is saying no to something that you [think]–with every bone in your body–is a phenomenal idea,” he continues. “And you wake up thinking about it. But you say no to it because you’re focusing on something else.”

Putting It Into Practice

Whatever your role or position, you’re faced with choices about your work on a daily basis. Should I join this meeting? Do I really want to take on this client or project? Should I focus on this task at the expense of that one?

For many, it’s not easy to say no. You may try to rationalize: “I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. They won’t understand. I’ll find a way to get it all done.”

No, you won’t.

Learning to say no begins by sharpening your emotional intelligence–the ability to make emotions work for you, instead of against you. By refusing to let temporary emotions lead to permanent decisions, you’ll realize that lack of focus easily leads to regret.

Then, instead of trying to do it all…

You can simply do it right.

So, choose wisely.

Because every time you say yes to something you don’t really want, you’re actually saying no to the things you do.

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Oculus price drop proves competition is key to VR success
March 24, 2017 10:20 am|Comments (0)


Gaming in VR has a bit of a barrier to entry. Nestled between the phone-based headsets and the high-end experiences is the PlayStation VR, but that’s still $ 399 plus the PlayStation itself. For Oculus or HTC you’re looking at $ 800-plus and a high-end gaming rig that should set you back at least a grand. Oculus today narrowed the margin, if only slightly. The company today announced a price drop on its Rift headset with Touch controllers. The bundle will now sell for $ 598, down from the $ 798 retail price it’s typically listed at. If you already have Rift, you can…

This story continues at The Next Web


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Building the blockchain of success: How cloud is at the heart of it
January 31, 2017 2:10 pm|Comments (0)

Blockchain is the new buzzword on the block; and while many business leaders, managers, developers and IT departments are Googling it and left …


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Five ‘Must-Do’s’ For Your Company’s Future Success From VMware CEO, Pat Gelsinger
December 1, 2015 5:40 pm|Comments (0)

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger offers five imperatives for digital businesses competing in the mobile-cloud era.


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IDG Contributor Network: Is your DNS set up for success? Ask yourself these 4 questions
August 28, 2015 9:05 pm|Comments (0)

Have you ever really thought about the importance of DNS to your business?

DNS, the Domain Name System, is sometimes called the “phonebook of the Internet.” Just as the phonebook allows you to look up names, addresses, and phone numbers of people and businesses to be categorized and referenced, DNS allows for domain names and their corresponding IP addresses to be organized and easily accessed. For example, a quick DNS query shows that the IPv4 address for networkworld.com is 70.42.185.102 (and there is apparently no IPv6 address!).

But DNS stores much more than just IP addresses. Email protocols rely on DNS extensively to store information about message routing (MX records), policy (SPF records) and digital signatures (DKIM). DNS also houses cryptographic keys for not only its own security uses, but also for email and now even websites (TLSA records). The extensibility, versatility, and ubiquity of DNS makes it an ideal choice for storing all kinds of information. Because so much depends on DNS, it is a critically important service; every time you use the Internet, you’re relying on DNS.  

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