Author Archives: Melissa Phipps

Fail To Succeed, And Other Business Lessons We Can Learn From Skateboarding

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Rodney Mullen Image

If there was a way to learn valuable lessons about business innovation and techniques while watching skate videos, you would do it, right? I know I would, because I have spent the past few days watching videos of the great Rodney Mullen, pulling off skateboard tricks while giving talks at business conferences.

My discovery of Mullen’s inspiring speeches happened recently, when my husband fell into a YouTube hole watching old Mullen skateboarding videos. We are both huge fans of the famously innovative freestyle member of the Powell-Peralta Bones Brigade skateboarding team (which also included a young Tony Hawk and was managed by legendary skater Stacey Peralta). Mullen went on to turn street skating into an art, and, like Hawk, has had one of the longer and more successful careers in the sport.

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The Biggest Subject We Should Be Teaching Kids, But Aren’t

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should kids learn to code image

By 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings, according to the Department of Labor. There is much debate over whether or not everyone should learn code, but in a time when communicating with a computer seems almost more important than communicating in a second language, it makes sense that computer science skills be taught to all kids as part of their curriculum. The basics of coding are not necessarily difficult to master, and starting to learn young teaches kids how to ask questions, problem solve, and see new possibilities for what they are capable of creating.

Even President Obama has advocated for computer science education in America’s high schools. “Don’t just buy a new video game. Make one. Don’t just download the latest app. Help design it. Don’t just play on your phone. Program it,” said the President in his message to promote Computer Science Education Week in 2013.

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Considering Business School? Read These 10 Books Instead

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Image courtesy of Moyan Brenn on Flickr

There’s no denying that a master’s degree in business administration has cachet. Too bad that cachet takes a few years to achieve, comes with a hefty price tag and, these days, offers no job guarantees. Wouldn’t it be a nicer route to become a master of business through interesting career moves and investments, personal connections, great talks, classes and events, and a handful of enlightening business books?

Let’s start with the books. We’ve broken down 10 MBA lessons, and for each one there is a corresponding must-read book. Call it business school in 10 books. It won’t earn you an MBA, but it will give you an education in business.

Related Story: 10 Books To Read Before Pitching Your Startup

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The Social Network That Every Entrepreneur Should Be On

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amex open forum

Please bear with me while I make a case for something that most of us don’t likely need: Another social media network. Hear me out—this one is different. It’s the American Express OPEN Forum, and it’s arguably a must-visit for entrepreneurs, thought leaders, even corporate executives. What started as a resource for American Express clients has become an organic meeting place for the business minded. Call it LinkedIn for thought leaders, Facebook for founders; OPEN Forum is an online space where almost every exchange seems relevant to entrepreneurs and innovators. Here are three reasons you won’t regret joining.

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How to Set Boundaries at Work: Tips for Founders, Managers, and Employees

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When people talk about setting boundaries at work, it is often in terms of personal or individual boundaries and how they affect work-life balance. This balance is certainly important, but so is office-life balance. According to a PENN Behavioral Health study, Setting Boundaries at Work, there are several types of boundaries: job responsibility boundaries, interpersonal boundaries, and personal boundaries.

These boundaries start with the founder, define how managers do their job, and impact individual employees. Here is how to set boundaries in the workplace if you are a company founder, manager, or employee.

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Think You’re Cut Out To Work From Home? Read This First

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Image courtesy of Flickr

If you have ever worked in an office environment, it is easy to see the benefits of working from home instead. Working in your own home is often a more convenient, comfortable, cost-effective, time-efficient, and environmentally friendly option.

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Bright Ideas, Big Company: Encouraging Corporate Entrepreneurship

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CC Image Courtesy of Brian Talbot, Flickr Creative Commons

Companies are sort of like sharks. Just as sharks must keep moving to avoid death, companies must keep growing. But large, well-established corporations often find it difficult to grow organically under an existing business model. Corporations are less nimble than startups, and more averse to risk. Because of reputation and shareholder expectation, they lack the ability to “pivot” the business when a product or idea is not working out as planned.

How can large corporations focus on product innovation in the same way that startups do? Through corporate entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship.

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What Do All Female Entrepreneurs Have in Common?

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Women entrepreneurs at tech workshop image

Women at a computer industry entrepreneur workshop. From Dell’s Official Flickr Page, via Wikimedia Commons

2014 was a tough year for women in the tech industry, or any industry for that matter. First there was the unsurprising report about Google’s diversity problem. Then the sordid (but oh so compelling) tale of gender shaming and sexual harassment alleged in a lawsuit by Tinder co-founder Whitney Wolfe, who was reportedly told by her co-founders that mentioning a “girl” was one of the founders would “make the company look like it was an accident.” Even HBO’s wonderful show Silicon Valley tended to make women seem more like props than actual thinking people who represent more than half of the population.

Can we reverse this slump in 2015? How about a reminder that women entrepreneurs are distinguishing themselves as smart and successful business leaders? Because if there is one thing female entrepreneurs have in common, it’s that they persist even in the face of gender prejudice.

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Collaboration Meets Competition: The Power of the Hackathon

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Wikimedia Hackathon 2013, Amsterdam via Flickr

Wikimedia Hackathon 2013, Amsterdam via Flickr

Remember those all-night cramming sessions in college, when you would overcaffeinate, stay up for days, and muster all the focus you could to finish a paper or prepare for a test? Imagine a room full of computer programmers, developers, visionaries, and marketers doing the same thing for a day, a weekend, or even a full week. Instead of cramming, they are competing to create prototypes that innovate on a theme or improve upon an existing project. It’s called a hackathon, and it is has become a regular part of how technology companies do business. In fact, the power of the hackathon has extended beyond the tech industry into countless other sectors.

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A Tangled Web: Why Net Neutrality Must Be Preserved

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US-IP-Technology-Law-Consideations-For-StartUpsUPDATE: As of  2/26/2015 The Federal Communications Commission voted to approve strong net neutrality rules.

Net neutrality is another way of saying open Internet. Originally coined by a Columbia Law professor, Tim Wu, net neutrality is a decidedly unsexy term (comedian and talk show host John Oliver recently said “The only two words that promise more boredom in the English language are ‘featuring Sting.’) The concept behind the term, however, means a lot to those of us who cherish the Internet we know and use every day. The Internet where all users are free to choose what we view, share, create, and upload. Where businesses and apps can be built and widely marketed at a relatively low cost. The level playing field Internet that makes it possible for small startups to compete with giant corporations—that’s net neutrality.

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