Almost all of the new jobs created in America come from small businesses. As Pamela Slim reports, the precise number may be as high as 99%. And those same small businesses also provide over 50% of the nation’s GDP. So why not focus more on these often-unheralded engines of growth? Slim honors small businesses with an expansive focus that includes Native American, Black, Latinx, Asian, disabled, and LGBTQ entrepreneurs. How can these businesses best find their respective niches, then expand them? Who’s their ideal customer? What kind of community partners can best further their mission and goals? Those and other vital topics are raised in this practical-minded episode.
Pamela Slim is an author, community builder, business coach, and former director of Training and Development at Barclays Global Investors. Among her accomplishments is partnering with author Susan Cain to build and launch The Quiet Revolution. Among her books is Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur.
The New York Times columnist David Brooks once joked that, ultimately, the “revolution” promised us by the Baby Boomers amounted to nothing much more than the founding of Whole Foods. What will Millennials bring us? Already it seems that the answer is employees and consumer-citizens for whom the values they want to live by and be known for on social media will be paramount. Why is that the case? As Nathalie Nahai argues, a primary reason is the looming environmental disaster of climate change. The stakes are high, and the result is that nothing can be taken for granted. With trust being the emotion of business, today’s agile, atomized and antagonized workforce wants some measure of justice: for women, for people of color, and in general for everyone who wants to rally around the mantra of “profit with purpose” rather than “profits ahead of people.” From topics ranging from cancel-culture to woke-washing, this is a very timely episode.
What’s it like to live in a time warp, needing more time than other people to process what’s being said, what it might mean, and therefore how you should feel in response? Sarah Nannery knows the score, given her struggles with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Meanwhile, as a “neurotypical brain” person, her husband, Larry Nannery, adds his perspective about helping Sarah navigate situations ranging from office politics to social outings. Highlights of this episode include what internalization means to Sarah as she copes with feeling “bottled up inside,” and how she makes a “conversational sandwich” to handle the small talk that others can handle so readily.
What do customers most want nowadays? According to David Avrin, the three-part answer consists of immediacy (instant gratification), individuality (flexible, customized assistance) and humanity (concern trumps indifference). Of them, while immediacy should in theory be the easiest to enact, ironically enough automation is making that goal more elusive. What else is of interest from Avrin’s version of ranting about the ills of customer service? For one thing, the desperate measures companies take to ward off negative reviews appearing on-line. For another, Avrin’s favorite exercise to help his clients improve their operations: have front-line employees imagine that they are creating a rival company, which benefits from knowledge about what customers really want most but aren’t getting right now. There’s nothing like the risk of losing existing customers, after all, to grab management’s attention!
David Avrin is a highly popular speaker and consultant on the topics of the customer experience as well as on marketing. He’s a former CEO group leader and speaker for Vistage International. This is his third book, following It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Knows You and Visibility Marketing.
Sick of the frequent images of entrepreneurs as machismo, take-no-prisoner, Rambo-like action figures? Look no farther than this episode, in which Christine Kane admits that conquering bulimia was the test that gave her the fortitude to first enter the music industry on her own terms, and then help thousands of (often female) fans become entrepreneurs themselves. The key to Kane’s approach is acknowledging that the soul part of business is ultimately more important than focusing on strategy because, as an entrepreneur, your values inform your value proposition and how it gets enacted.
Maybe it’s because Kane has been a musician herself that I find her story connecting to a part of how I spent my Thanksgiving weekend: watching the Beatles’ documentary Get Back. In it the “quiet” Beatle, George Harrison, has a hard time getting Paul McCartney to show him respect. Two suggestions to add his song “All Things Must Pass” to the repertoire draw no acknowledgment, let alone endorsement from McCartney—even though that song and “Let It Be” are thematically of a piece. Even worse from Harrison’s perspective, McCartney all but dismisses the Harrison-inspired visit the band made to India, causing Harrison to visibly wince. How fitting that at the end of Part 1 of the 3-part series, Harrison’s “Isn’t It a Pity” (how we cause each other pain) plays as the credits roll.
Christine Kane is the founder of Uplevel You, a multimillion-dollar business coaching company, which evolved from her 15-year career as a touring singer-songwriter with her own record label. Both businesses were built without any investors.
The joke is that the only person in the world who normally welcomes change is a baby with a dirty diaper. Indeed, a change in the status quo means we have to exert energy to deal with that change and people are generally loath to expend more energy than necessary. Scientists call this phenomenon trying to avoid the “metabolic cost” of expending mental and physical energy. You and I call it preferring to live life like a house cat, if we only could! In this episode, April Rinne offers advice based on her eight rules for navigating change more adroitly. Part of her advice has to do with slowing down, setting a sustainable pace to avoid burnout in ever more demanding careers. But there’s more. How may higher education change, including MBA programs, in a world where more and more of us will be part of the Gig Economy? Listen in for Rinne’s unique perspective.
April Rinne is one of the 50 leading female futurists in the world, a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum and a Fulbright Scholar. She’s also traveled to over 100 countries as part of having a front-row seat to a world in flux.
What goes around, comes around—and that is especially true when it comes to behavioral economics. Who was quick to recognize that emotions drive people’s financial decisions and behavior? The answer is Adam Smith, who was both instrumental in creating the field of economics and a moral philosopher to boot. In that same vein is my guest this week, Nika Kabiri, who knows the Confirmation Bias is among the most important factors to navigate in helping her clients make their investment choices. Along the way, this conversation takes in the movie The Big Short, Federal Reserve Board chairman Jerome Powell, and what may lay ahead for an economy trying to emerge from the ravages of Covid-19. Five types of investors are likewise discussed in this episode, from the more-is-better investor to the what-has-always-worked investor. Figure out which type of investor you are, and how you can become more confident about your investment strategy.
You’re helping South Africa make the transition from apartheid to democracy under Nelson Mandela. You’re helping end a half-century long civil war in Columbia. You’re working with the First Nations in Canada to secure more respect for their heritage and traditions. That’s a sampling of the work Adam Kahane has been involved in during his career, basically reconciling parties often barely on speaking terms before Kahane intervenes to bring them together. Kahane’s approach draws inspiration from the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the German existential theologian Paul Tillich. What does that approach involve? Why should you care to listen to this episode? The answer to both questions is that love offers unity, power, and the opportunity for self-realization, while justice looks to ensure that power gets employed to bring equity for all parties involved. If you’ve ever sought to resolve a conflict, this episode is for you.
Imagine finding yourself working in the sponsorship arena because it’s the way to get a visa and stay in England. Well, that’s exactly what happened to Jackie Fast. Fortunately, she happens to have been very good at that kind of work. Within a few years, Fast’s ability to put brands together as co-sponsors for a variety of brands meant she was spending time, for instance, doing work for Richard Branson on an island he owns in the Caribbean! Not bad work if you can get it. From the vantage point of her highly successful, entrepreneurial career, what strikes Ms. Fast is how fast the world is changing. Few if any older executives will manage the transition, she believes, to a world where the internet has democratized big business and where Millennials and Gen Z-ers favor a values-based approach that puts enjoyable and meaningful work front and center.
Jackie Fast is the founder of the venture capital firm Sandbox Studios, which invests in celebrity-owned brands and has worked with The Rolling Stones, Red Bull, Zoom, Formula One, Virgin, Allianz and Universal Music among others.
Greater social inclusivity can, at times, seem to take forever. It wasn’t until 1967, for instance, that bans on interracial marriages were finally declared unconstitutional in America. How appalling that such a hallmark of diversity would have taken so long. And yet a decade earlier, a mere 4% of surveyed Americans were in support of interracial marriages, a number that today stands at 87% approval. Clearly, progress has been made in a country whose citizens are often multiracial as well as in interracial marriages and relationships. How can the momentum for accepting people as they are be sustained in these divisive times? Soo Bong Peer’s suggestions are of both a personal and systemic nature, ranging from practicing greater empathy to having leaders dialogue more often with employees distinctly different in backgrounds, experiences and perspectives from themselves. One specific idea Peer suggests is that rather than lecture-style, lunch-n-learn sessions at company headquarters, why not try for Friday “movie lunches” instead! She cites as inspiration long-time movie critic Roger Ebert and his remark that “movies are like a machine that generates empathy.” If seeing is believing, then getting executives, managers and employees at large to see on screen lives lived in circumstances far different from their own might help enable a warmer, more inclusive spirit in corporate America.
Soo Bong Peer is a strategy consultant and executive coach for Fortune 500 companies. The daughter of a prominent South Korean general and ambassador to Mexico, she has lived in multiple countries, including the U.S. for the past 50 years.