TIME Careers & Workplace

How to Turn Life’s Disappointments Into Success Stories

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In work and in life, disappointment is often inevitable. Turn life’s curveballs into your success stories

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

Life is full of surprises that aren’t always the kind we would wish for. What makes these unwanted surprises even harder to accept is our attachment to the way we expected things to go. This particular brand of discomfort — the kind fueled by a life drunk with expectations and the resulting crash from failing to meet them — is profoundly sobering and uncomfortable. I call it an Expectation Hangover®, which I define in my latest book, “Expectation Hangover: Overcoming Disappointment in Work, Love and Life,” as:

The myriad undesirable feelings or thoughts present when one or a combination of the following things occurs:

  • A desired outcome does not occur.
  • A desired outcome does occur but does not produce the feelings or results we expected.
  • Our personal and/or professional expectations are unmet by ourselves or another.
  • An undesired, unexpected event occurs that is in conflict with what we wanted or planned.

The symptoms are similar, but far more miserable and lasting, to those caused by a hangover from alcohol: lethargy, depression, lack of motivation, confusion, denial, anger, poor work performance, diminished creativity, strained relationships, social withdrawal, low self-esteem, regret and a disconnection from a higher power. But when our expectations are met, we feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. Often risking little, we feel safe, in control and on-track. Achieving our goals is intoxicating. We are compelled toward them, sometimes disregarding the underlying motivations that come from our ego. While striving for goals has value, holding expectations and attachment to the way life “should” go sets the stage for disappointment.

Most of us don’t like it when our life seems to miss the memo on how we think things should be. But the truth is that the universe doesn’t miss anything. When we keep fighting for what we think we want, never slowing down enough to actually learn the lesson that our expectation hangover is attempting to teach, we’re too drunk with expectations to notice when we are headed in the wrong direction. The result? We continue to wake up with expectation hangovers.

So how do you treat them? It takes a lot more than two aspirin, some greasy food and staying inside with the lights low. Because we don’t like not feeling good, and so we look for an external way to ease the discomfort: rebound relationships, abrupt career changes or miscalculated risks, and addictions (drinking, gambling, sex, drugs, work, shopping) are common. We lose faith and sink into the quicksand of victim-hood and hopelessness.

Instead of thinking about how to rid yourself of an expectation hangover, consider how you can leverage it. Ask, “What am I learning?” rather than “Why is this happening?” Keep your mind out of judgment, regret and shoulda-coulda-woulda thinking. Think about some of the most inspirational people you know. I guarantee that part of what makes them so inspirational is how they leveraged their hangovers for growth and learning. Instead of perceiving something as a failure, they used what they learned to to create their next success. Your expectation hangovers are gifts. Each one has been an opportunity to let go of something external that you have clung to for worth, safety or love. If you learn how to respond to expectation hangovers from the perspective of a student rather than a victim, I guarantee you will walk through doorways of transformation.

TIME Careers & Workplace

11 Ways to Overcome Your Fear of Failure

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Business failure won’t determine your future. Your response to it will

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

Question: What’s one piece of advice you have for other entrepreneurs struggling with the fear of failure?

Know That You Can Bounce Back

“Donald Trump famously filed for bankruptcy four separate times. By no means am I saying this should be part of your business plan, but as a worst-case scenario, it’s affirming to know that you can bounce back. In any business venture, the key is to ensure the business is structured such that your personal assets are insulated from the company so that you can always live to fight another day.” — Matt Ehrlichman, Porch

Don’t Waste Your Energy

“Let’s be straight: nobody wants to fail. But not wanting to fail and fearing failure are not the same. One is an attitude, the other is a mindset. If you are truly fearful of failure, you are wasting needed energy on something that has no benefit. Take that energy and redirect it toward iterating your current processes or diversifying your revenue stream so that failure is less of an option.” — Adam Callinan, Beachwood Ventures

Don’t Allow It to Stop You

“It’s been said that success is only a few steps after failure, but most people give up after they “fail” and never get there. If you can see failure through that lens and not allow the judgment of others or yourself to stop you, then you can make it to success!” — Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

Don’t Be Afraid to Reach out for Help

“Entrepreneurship can be a struggle, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Knowing who to turn to when you need advice will help make the lows more bearable. When co-founders and investors may be unable to help, try to seek out an experienced entrepreneur distant enough from the business to offer the advice you need (whether it’s personal or professional).” — Tyler Arnold, SimplySocial Inc.

Consider the Worst-Case Scenario

“When I left my job to start my company, I evaluated the absolute worst-case scenario that could result from making this move. When you stop and think about the worst that could happen, it’s usually much less scary than when it was unknown. The fear of a business failing is an issue for your ego, but failing as a person can only happen if you don’t try in the first place.” — Chris Hunter, Phusion Projects

Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

“Being an entrepreneur is all about feeling uncomfortable but moving forward anyway. Learn to appreciate your discomfort, and wear it like a badge of courage. Celebrate your fear of failure, and you will eventually disempower it.” — Corey Blake, Round Table Companies

Learn From Your Mistakes to Prevent Failure

“The only time you fail is when you don’t learn from your mistake. If you’ve learned a lesson in defeat, then go back out and apply your new knowledge. I’ve made tons of mistakes, but I’ve had very few “failures” because I make those missteps valuable experiences.” — Nick Friedman, College Hunks Hauling Junk

Be Afraid

“If you aren’t afraid anymore, then you aren’t pushing your boundaries anymore either. That little twinge of fear of failure means you just might be onto something, or you’re at least heading in the right direction. Embrace that fear, and use it as fuel to take the next big steps.” — James Simpson, GoldFire Studios

Fail Fast

“There are two big benefits from trying and failing quickly. Number one is that you can quickly figure out what isn’t working and iterate to find a new solution that is better. Number two is that each failure lessens the sting a bit, so the quicker you can get acclimated to the idea that not everything will work, the better.” — Patrick Conley, Automation Heroes

Talk About It

“Too often, entrepreneurs feel they must be eternally optimistic, particularly in front of employees, customers and investors. It’s essential to have trusted confidantes with whom you can be completely honest — for better or worst — and talk through some of your biggest challenges and deepest fears.” — Martina Welke, Zealyst

Be Humble

“An entrepreneur’s success is laced with failure. A first failure teaches us the humility we need to be successful. The sooner you fail, the sooner you realize you don’t have all of the answers. You get hungry, and you work harder. You seek advice, you share stories, and you connect with people. It helps you control your emotions because you’ve been there befor. And ultimately, it keeps you humble.” — Jonathan Boyle, Guns & Oil Beer Co.

TIME Careers & Workplace

Revealed: 5 Secrets Recruiters Won’t Normally Tell You

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Learn behind-the-scenes info direct from the source that will help you get a job

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

As a talent strategy consultant and career coach, I tell clients all the time: “I get the other side of the equation.” Companies like that I coach job seekers, and job seekers like that I consult with talent acquisition teams at companies.

Having a foot in both worlds means I don’t forget what it’s like on both sides of the aisle. It’s like recruiting bipartisanship. But every once in awhile, I take sides. And job seekers, this is for you.

There are a million nuances to being a recruiter — like many jobs, to an outsider it may seem straightforward. But there are multiple stakeholders, laws and budgets vying for attention that make it really difficult sometimes. And the more you know and understand, the more effective you’ll be. Recruiters may not want you to know their secrets, but here are five tips to help you get both feet in the door and the attention of a recruiter. You’ll thank me now. They’ll thank me later.

1. An important part of a recruiter’s job is inside sales.

Like any job, recruiters are measured, evaluated and lauded (or not) based on how well they perform. But it’s often with strange (to you) metrics like time to fill, or percentage of job postings (called requisitions) that have closed. More rarely are they measured on quality of hire (i.e., how well you’re performing a year after you’re hired). This means recruiters are biased towards selling candidates to the hiring manager. Hard. They want that job to close fast. So make it easy on them to sell you.

Bottom line: Don’t assume they’ll figure out your skills are transferable. Apply for jobs where you’re clearly a fit and supplement any networking, cover letters and phone screens with clear examples they can turn around and use. One time a candidate had a unique technical skill so he called to explain it and tell me why it mattered in our business. I loved that.

2. Weird behavior makes recruiters nervous.

Being on the phone all day can make a recruiter crazy. That means in between interviews, sourcing calls and offer deliveries, they’re sharing tales of insanity — odd calls, strange answers to interview questions and tales of incredulity (such as: “Why did this guy apply to three different jobs? Does he not know I can see all of them?”) There’s nothing wrong with getting a recruiter’s attention, but if you cross a line, they’re just going to ignore you. It’s just like dating. Say “I love you” too soon, call too many times in a row or try too hard and you’re out.

Bottom line: Make an effort to get noticed but don’t border on pathetic. Follow up and check on your candidacy but don’t call every day or start sending LinkedIn invitations to the entire team. If it feels strange, don’t do it. Making the recruiter nervous is a reason for them to focus on someone else. I once had a candidate email me every day. Stalker — you’re out.

3. Sometimes it’s a crapshoot.

A recruiter typically has a collection of requisitions she is responsible for. In most companies, it’s usually an unmanageable number (at least to the recruiter). So in the morning, she may come in and open her ATS (applicant tracking system) and start looking at what resumes came in for what position (requisition) overnight. She’s human, so while scanning resumes, she might be distracted by her boss popping by, a tweet or a phone call. That means some resumes get the six-second glance, some get 30. There’s no guarantee of fairness — it’s absolutely impossible. And if she already has enough candidates interviewing, she might barely glance, if at all, at new resumes.

Bottom line: Sometimes it’s a crapshoot. You might feel like you’re a perfect fit for the job, but the timing of when you apply or simply how busy the recruiter is that day could determine your fate. That’s where networking comes in. Never apply for a job cold. Make a connection in the organization first that can check up on your candidacy with the recruiter. Depending on where she is in the process you might not get a fair shake, but at least you’ll be in the know. As a recruiter, I could ignore resumes in my ATS queue but I couldn’t ignore a colleague at my door asking about a referral.

4. They influence but rarely, if ever, decide…

A hiring decision usually comes from the hiring manager. It may even have to be approved by his boss. The recruiter doesn’t decide. She will contribute to the discussion and provide opinions on interactions with candidates. She’ll provide context like salary ranges or market analyses, but she won’t decide.

Bottom line: Don’t rely on the recruiter throughout the entire process. Figure out who else is important in the decision-making process and build relationships. Send follow-up emails that show you did your research and take them up on the offer to ask additional questions. Just don’t go overboard. Weird behavior makes hiring managers nervous too. (See #2).

5. …but they have a tremendous amount of insider information.

Recruiters know what the hiring managers are like, what matters most to them and what interview strategies succeed. So don’t ignore them. It’s really important to have the recruiter on your side. You want to make their job easier and set them up for success. In turn, the recruiter can share that valuable insider information if you just ask: “As I prepare for the interview later this week, any suggestions you have on what matters to the hiring manager are greatly appreciated — I really value your advice.” The worst they can say is no.

Bottom line: A strong relationship with the recruiter is part of the equation. Recognize that she’s busy and may have a million priorities (while the job you want is your only one right now). Respect her time and help her help you. In return, she may be able to help you prepare, understand and strengthen your candidacy over others who don’t even bother to ask or care. As a recruiter I often felt under-appreciated. Thanks from a candidate and recognition that I played an important role in the process went a long way.

TIME Careers & Workplace

The 3 Greatest Attributes of Exceptional Leaders

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You can’t be a powerful leader without these three characteristics

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

Empowering. Motivating. Inspiring.

The list of characteristics of great leaders is endless. And while they all make for a good read, none of them fully capture the essence of what makes a great leader in a complete way.

Great leaders may possess a myriad of attributes, not the least of which are intelligence, charisma and natural charm. All of these things matter. However, you can be a great leader and not be naturally charming or very intelligent. In my time at PeoplePerHour I’ve learned a lot about leadership. I have come to the conclusion that there are three key attributes a great leader must have.

  1. Vision: The ability to amass a great team, motivate and inspire them is plain useless if you don’t have a clear vision of where you need to go. Leadership is first about seeing the future and then about being able to figure out a feasiblepath to get there. It’s seeing the iceberg before the Titanic hits it and taking fast and decisive action. It’s doing the one right thing rather than doing many things right. It’s being different, not following the herd, being controversial, and seeing what others don’t see. It’s having a nose for what’s coming and the eyes and ears to react before others do. Without vision, you can empower people all you like but you won’t get anywhere. You’ll have a following but no direction. You may make a great motivational coach, but not a leader. Every difficult situation needs a visionary leader to point the way and make a tough decision.
  2. Influence: Once you have a clear vision (but only then), you need a sting following. That requires the power of influence. Whether you are in an existing leadership situation or the creator of a group, this is very hard thing to do. In either case, you are new to the situation and the odds are against you. Why should people trust someone new? The vast majority of people are resistant to change, no matter the odds. In order to fulfill any grand vision, you need to drive change. Otherwise you are just a puppet master holding the strings waiting for the show to end. Influence people across the board — explain to employees the benefit of leaving secure jobs and come join you; convince investors to give you money at the very beginning, get customers and fans to support you, your bank manager to give you an overdraft, your landlord to give you a lease and rent-free period; and your wife to put up with sleepless nights, cold sweats and no pay. Carry that burden of influence with you. If you go down, you take more people with you than yesterday.
  3. Courage: The third element is the most challenging. You’ve clarified a vision and built a following by charming, coercing, schmoozing…ultimately influencingenough people. After all this work, you realize that it’s only day one. Now you have your boat (more like a raft) and your compass. But you still need to cross the ocean. This is the final and true test of great leadership. It ultimately comes down to courage. Intelligence and knowledge are advantages of course, but without courage they are wasted. Courage alone could and would get you there, albeit slower and with more pain. So the key question is: Do you have the courage to keep going when everyone tells you to turn back; to know you’re right when everyone says you’re wrong; to stick to your instincts when people call you crazy; to carry other people’s weight when they fall; to set the tempo and beat the drum despite how tired you may be? It’s your job to keep people together when they are drifting apart and losing faith, to give them courage but not false hope, to let go of some to save many, and to weather the storm but not bask in the sunlight when it ends — because it never does.

Vision and influence will make you a well equipped captain. But courage is what gets you there. On the other hand, courage alone makes you a fighter without a cause. You may be good at creating lots of noise, but to paraphrase Sun Tzu’s “Art of War”: that’s just “the noise before defeat.”

TIME Careers & Workplace

11 Perfect Vacation Ideas That Won’t Disappoint

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Working all year round can actually hurt your productivity. Take a break and have a look at these vacation options

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

Question: Describe your idea of the perfect entrepreneurial vacation.

Surfing in the Middle of Nowhere

“Part of being an entrepreneur is exploring new industires or shaking up current ones. I like to take a trip to a off the beaten getaway where I can surf or just relax where there aren’t that many tourists and there is an opportunity for me to focus, meditate and enjoy the simple life. This type of vacation gets me to recharge my batteries and look at my life and business in a different way.” — Derek Capo, Next Step China

Gathering With Geniuses

“Being an entrepreneur is about the love for learning and the love for sharing. My dream vacation is spending a few nights in a new city drinking and partying with a bunch of geniuses. Business talk is allowed, but far from serious. South by Southwest Music and Media Conference is a perfect example, and Geeks on a Plane is a dream vacation.” — Brian Curliss, MailLift

Touring Artisan Lands

“In fashion, everyone talks about using artisans from South Asia in their lines, but young designers have no way of accessing those artisans. I would love to be able to go to villages in the North-West Frontier Province or to the Rajasthan desert to develop personal relationships that can lead to a wider, more fair distribution of these dying professions.” — Benish Shah, Before the Label

Engaging With New Communities

“Vacations are not merely about relaxing. They’re about exploration, engaging with new communities and cultures and challenging and inspiring yourself. My perfect vacation would be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, soaking in the beauty of the continent and its people and touring local entrepreneurial ecosystems. I’d also like to go to AfrikaBurn or Burning Man and participate in the giving economy.” — Christopher Pruijsen, Sterio.me

Traveling Without Interruptions

“I’d love to vacation with the smartphone turned off and a qualified individual left in charge at the business. I would take no business phone calls — just a few quick and simple check-ins. I’d spend time at a favorite destination with enough money saved on airfare, food and lodging so that the vacation can be enjoyable and interesting each and every day.” — Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

Finding Inspiration While Relaxing

“I go on what I call innovation vacations. The purpose is to pull myself out of the day-to-day routine and think big. I pick a place of relaxation, unplug and get inspired by a wide range of books. I then plan, think and write.” — Brent Beshore, adventur.es

Golfing With My Inspirations

“Golf is a distant memory at best, but my entrepreneurial dream vacation would be hitting a post-Master’s round with Pete Carroll, Jim Collins and Warren Buffett. Nothing beats passion chatter with your biggest inspirations on a beautiful green.” — Matt Erlichman, Porch

Pushing Your Limits

“Some of my favorite vacations are on dirt bike trails at campgrounds. It’s not always relaxing and fun, but it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something big after coming back from a tough trail ride. Going on a vacation that pushes your limits and lets you accomplish something outside of business is a great ego boost.” — Jennifer Donogh, Ovaleye, LLC

Making Time for Luxury Activities

“The key to a great vacation is doing luxurious activities — things that make you happy but you don’t create time for weekly. I enjoy staying in shape and sleeping, and both suffer during the work week! I also love my job and my team. The vacation part is about not opening a laptop and not creating new work, but I always want to be responsive to help my teammates and our partners.” — Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

Reading and Enjoying the Quiet

“I always feel like I don’t have enough time to read all the books and other materials that are recommended to me as an entrepreneur. I’d love the opportunity to go away for a while and just consume some of those important ideas without an obligation to try to squeeze the effort in between my work.” — Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting

Keeping in Touch No Matter Where

“I always have my phone, iPad and computer with me, so I never really take a vacation from work. Why? Because I love what I do, get bored easily and always feel that I must reply to someone within 48 hours (otherwise, it’s rude).” — Trace Cohen, Launch.it

TIME Careers & Workplace

8 Habits of the Most Highly Respected Businesswomen

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The best female leaders provide support, respect and firm guidance in equal measure. Here are 8 habits that differentiate them from the pack

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

Women get a bad rap in the work world, and we don’t have to look much further than pop culture for examples. Consider Monica from Showtime’s “House of Lies.” Being an addict, uninterested mother, and demeaning boss somehow makes her incredibly successful at work. Or take, for example, the famous caricature of Anna Wintour in “The Devil Wears Prada.”

Fortunately, executives like Facebook COO and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg are fostering an important discourse that is reaching female and male executives alike to spark change. And we’ve already come a very long way. Women can be executives who drive results, empathic mentors, and loving mothers all at the same time.

Nevertheless, female CEOs remain subject to intense scrutiny. Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer has been widely criticized for working through her maternity leave and for putting a nursery next to her office, and recently she’s been in the media because “good-looking CEOs get better returns.”

The question is, does this type of scrutiny have a trickle-down effect for other professional women?

There are socioeconomic factors at play that we cannot solve overnight. We need to teach women how to be confident in the workplace so they can succeed on their own merits. I offered some tactics in my previous piece, “Confidence Breeds Success — And It Can Be Taught.” However, individual confidence is only part of the equation. We also need to support and champion women in the workplace, particularly when we, as women, are the executives.

The best mentors I’ve seen are those who do the following:

  1. Relinquish your need to be right. It’s a common adage among CEOs: hire people smarter than you. Assuming you’ve done that, give those smart people an opportunity to do what they do best.
  2. Fix, don’t blame. At an event last year, I heard Sheryl Sandberg offer this advice about good bosses: “A great boss gives credit to everyone else when things are going well. When they are not, she asks, ‘How can I fix it?’” Blame is where solutions go to die. So create an environment that fosters collaborative problem solving.
  3. Disagree respectfully. Disagreement is not synonymous with argument. In the office, love, like and hate should take second chair to respect. Look to drive consensus and action, not stalemate.
  4. Give credit generously. A rising tide lifts all ships. The accompanying economic concept is that general economic improvement will benefit everyone. I use these words to remind employees that the act of giving credit confers its benefits onto you by proxy. If the people who work for you are successful, you will be seen that way too.
  5. Trust your gut. Intuition is real, but it’s something you have to learn to trust. A therapist friend once told me that her patients who’ve suffered physical attacks have one thing in common: they sensed something amiss before the act occurred. This does not mean they could have prevented it, of course. But it demonstrates the existence of instinct. At work, intuition can help us read the room, parse good customer engagements from bad, and identify potential in an unlikely candidate.
  6. Build consensus, not factions. Don’t save your complaints for the secrecy of closed doors. In her book, Woman’s Inhumanity To Woman, Phyllis Chesler writes, “Girls learn that a safe way to attack someone else is behind her back, so that she will not know who started the attack.” Gossip is toxic, so stop it by dealing with issues quickly, calmly and openly.
  7. Never say, “You will understand when…” This reduces a younger woman’s feelings to simple naiveté. Supporting one another means commiseration and support. Judgment only teaches the recipient to seek help elsewhere.
  8. Develop a thick skin. Every leader will be criticized. It’s part of the job, so find a way to take the things that matter seriously and brush off the distractions. It’s an amazing example to set for younger women executives.

Godspeed, Marissa Mayer! May many come after you and because of you.

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Ways to Use Competition to Your Advantage

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A little competition can actually be a good thing

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

Question: How can I use my competition to my advantage?

Out-Innovate Them

“Look at what your competitors are doing and where they all have assumed the same outcome — whether that be market, product offering, etc. — and then try the opposite of what they’re doing. Companies that follow will never prosper. Be the company that takes the lead and explores new territory, and you might end up taking the entire market!” — Liam Martin, Staff.com

Attack Their Biggest Weakness

“A lot of people see competition as a negative, but there’s always a way to leverage it to your advantage. One of the most effective ways of doing that is to find your competition’s most glaring weakness and attack it head-on. If you can do this one aspect so well that your competition’s customers simply can’t ignore you, then you’ve already won a significant battle.” — James Simpson, GoldFire Studios

Monitor Complaints

“Monitor complaints customers of your top competitors make via Twitter/Facebook, and try to glean insights from them. We launched free shipping after seeing a ton of complaints from customers about shipping charges on some of our competitors’ sites.” — Josh Weiss, Bluegala

Support the Larger Community

“By listening on social media, you can hear the problems customers are having with your competitors and offer solutions. While you can’t offer full tech support, you can offer ideas, generalized information and, most importantly, help them switch to your product. You can jump out in front of your competition by helping people with their products directly.” — Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting

Partner With Them

“I find that your competition can actually be a great partner for two reasons. First, there is often enough to go around — people usually read more than one blog or buy more than one kind of coffee. Second, no product offering is exactly the same. Highlight your differences, package your products or services together, and then share marketing costs.” — Vanessa Van Edwards, Science of People

Analyze Your Competitors

“Analyzing our competitors has honestly been one of the best sources of data for our business. Analyzing where they put their marketing dollars, the way they organize products on their sites, their best-selling products and site design elements they use have all helped us greatly.” — Pablo Palatnik, ShadesDaddy.com

Learn From Their Mistakes and Successes

“Let them figure out what works and what doesn’t, and learn from it — you can often avoid costly mistakes by paying attention to your competitors!” — Alexis Wolfer, The Beauty Bean

Use the Advantage of Multiple Winners

“In a big market, there will likely be multiple winners. You can use that to your advantage. When a competitor gets press in one outlet, try and get similar press in another. This will raise the profile of the industry as a whole. Even if you wind up in second place, the pie has still gotten a lot bigger and your business will have grown.” — Wade Foster, Zapier

Spy on Them With SpyFu

SpyFu exposes the search marketing secret formula of your most successful competitors. Search for any domain, and see every place they’ve shown up on Google: every keyword they’ve bought on AdWords, every organic rank and every ad variation in the last six years. Then, use your competitors online activities to improve your own.” — Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

Use the Association of Professionals

“As fellow professionals, other attorneys are actually one of my best sources of clients and can be great resources for my practice and clientele. I may bring them in for a client because of a conflict with one of my other clients on a project, for extra help during an upswing in business or if the other attorney is just a better fit for the client’s immediate legal needs.” — Peter Milton, Minton Law Group, P.C.

TIME Careers & Workplace

3 Most Important Things to Know When You’re Hiring Somebody

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Hiring is about more than finding qualified candidates, it’s about building a winning team

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

Your team is critical. Not only do you spend more time with them at your fast-growing company than you do with your own family, but a very large part of your success will depend on the quality and mindset of these individuals. So when hiring, remember that these candidates are not prospective employees, they are new teammates.

At Trunomi we are trying to create a whole new paradigm, where our customers have control of their own personally indentifiable information (Pii) and they control the use of it over their mobile device. We’re getting rid of Big Brother and making it “Easy as Pii™.” Given the extent of our intellectual property, our velocity as a company and our desire to have fun while doing what we do best, our team is everything.

As such, we’ve reinvented our approach to team building. Our goal is to find and develop Trunomians: team members who live, breathe and love Trunomi and its ideals. I’d like to share some of the key parts of that process here, which you can adapt to your own culture:

Leave Compensation Out of It (At First)

In the highly competitive landscape of finding the best additions to your company, amazing potential hires don’t just make their decisions based on compensation, but on factors well beyond it. These days, compensation rates are a well-defined commodity, so we leave money out of it for as long as possible. This shows them what matters most to us is something much more important than money.

Do a “Share and Invite”

Additionally, rather than asking questions, we use a process called “share and invite.” It starts with us sharing openly and fully, and then inviting prospective team members to comment on what we just shared. This unique approach achieves the dual goals of ensuring that expectations are clearly set for both parties and helping to figure out if this is a mutual fit — all with a foundation of transparency in communication. This saves an immense amount of time, money, frustration and opportunity cost, and leaves a great impression while helping you build a winning team. It’s also very conversational, which sets them at ease and makes the most of the short time you have together.

I usually start by sharing a compelling high-level overview to communicate the scale of our vision, and then pause to see how they react and if they have any comments. I move on to the importance for us of our team working together as collaborators, inviting them to respond there as well. I will often speak openly about our culture — sharing the most important aspects which truly matter most in our culture deck. After another pause for them to contribute their own thoughts, I talk about our open standard: that everyone in our company is seen as an innovator (another pause for comment), and that our default response to any ideas of Trunomians is YES — any NOs have to be substantiated.

Once they’ve responded, I move on with more about how our team functions. Like the fact that we bring problems and proposed solutions to our town hall meetings. After hearing their response, I move forward with how through collaborative analysis we as a team can tease out of any ideas as well as the most relevant and useful bits. I wait to hear their comments on this approach before I talk about my personal passions and how we value individuality. After another pause for them to interject about their own passions, I share how hard we all work and the corresponding freedoms that we all earn as a result. I also share things I am trying to improve at, or failings we recognize which we are trying to overcome — showing humanity and learning and trust.

At each opportunity — between topics and the things I’m sharing – the invitation for them to share opens up the conversation in a compelling way. The natural fit (or not) will become evident. In the best case it’s a true fit. If not, at a minimum they leave feeling that you shared and listened. They know you took the time, and as a result they will recall a great experience.

Remember: It can be a small world and they might just refer a friend to you.

Conduct a Behavioral Assessment

Finally, if things have gone well, we invite prospective team members to conduct a Predictive Index (PI), which gives amazing insight about their strengths, goals and habits. We then share the results with them afterwards. If we proceed forward with the candidate, we can also use this to place them better within our team.

If we don’t, they then have a valuable takeaway – which leaves a lasting positive impression of our company.

As a final note, one of the more compelling ways to ensure the success of your company, especially when it is in growth mode, is to ensure that you have a repeatable process in place for hires. This takes out the guesswork and makes sure that each addition has the same opportunity and expectations. Following this conversational, finding-a-good-fit model has worked well for us; you can develop your own specific processes to suit your goals.

Good luck finding your own Trunomians!

TIME Careers & Workplace

11 Tips for Running Meetings That Aren’t Totally Terrible

Close up of business people handshaking
Getty Images

Here are a few ways to ensure your next one is both productive and organized

startupcollective

This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

Question: What’s one best practice for running a successful Meetup-style group for entrepreneurs?

Plan in Advance

“The best practice to run a successful meetup group for entrepreneurs is taking time to plan the event in advance. I’ve found that it is best to plan at least three to four weeks in advance so there is enough time to work out all of the details, find a venue and ensure every entrepreneur attending the meetup-style group is able to make arrangements for the day.” Jay Wu, A Forever Recovery

Set the Tone Immediately

“Create the culture you’re hoping to have for your group at the first event. Do this by stacking the room with your contacts who know what you have in mind, and let the word spread from there. I run several such events, and by doing this very thing, I’ve been able to grow them exponentially both locally and around the country — all true to the same values and mission. ” — Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

Focus on Relationships

“Entrepreneurs are excited to be part of something that is growing and becoming grand, so tap in to those desires by helping us create relationships with other dreamers, people we can share with, learn from and with whom we can explore new possibilities. Focus less on being cool and more on being human.” — Corey Blake, Round Table Companies

Make It Exclusive

“Make your group invite-only so it’s more exclusive and to ensure quality control. Many of the best entrepreneurs I know in London don’t bother with general meetups anymore, and by creating an invite-only group with a strong core, you will generate a lot of interest from those aspiring membership. Plus, knowing your niche is very important in today’s crowded landscape.” — Christopher Pruijsen, Sterio.me

Lay out Helpful Assignments

“The hardest part of a meetup is the first 15 minutes. You want to balance structure with freedom so that people don’t run to the bathroom to avoid the exercise. Lay out a couple challenges that have clear personal benefits for attendees but no deadline. A goal could be to learn about three new valuable apps or find two people for whom you can make introductions. Make it about helping one another.” — Heidi Allstop, Spill

Get to Your Venue Early

“Get to your venue early, and make sure everything is in order. This includes making sure enough seating is available and ensuring that all audio/visual equipment works properly. One of your goals in running a meetup is to impress, and if the meeting encounters a hitch, you’re unlikely to achieve that goal.” — Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

Get Startups to Demo

“It’s the best way to invite someone to see what your meetup is all about. Plus, it’s a nearly instant way to make it valuable for them. The audience hears what they’re working on, wants to hear more, and suddenly, there’s a family of people there every time.” — Derek Flanzraich, Greatist

Give Everyone a Name Tag

“I love meeting people, but I’m horrible at remembering names. If everyone has a name tag, then it’s much easier to make introductions and build relationships. Bonus points if you encourage everyone to include his or her Twitter handle, business name or ‘I’m interested in…’ as well.” — Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

Create Clear Goals and Expectations

“Many people join communities because they attend an event from that community. Once they do, the organizer needs to work to keep them there. Providing a clear mission statement and adhering to it is essential in growing and maintaining the community. If the goal is education events, don’t just do happy hours. People join because of what you offer up front, and keeping that as a baseline is key.” — Aron Schoenfeld, Do It In Person LLC

Organize Specific Discussion Topics

“There’s nothing worse than having a meetup with no direction. Groups that don’t have focus will fizzle and die very quickly. This can be through the form of talks, events, etc. If you give everyone something to talk about, it creates an environment of learning and meaningful connections, which is ultimately the purpose of a meetup.” — James Simpon, GoldFire Studios

Be Confidential

“Start every meetup with an explicit statement that everything shared within the group should stay within the group. Knowing that the discussions are confidential can help founders open up and share their real problems, such as running out of cash or dealing with a difficult employee. And they can learn from the entrepreneurs who have gone through these situations before.” — Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh Inc

TIME advice

7 Tips for Handling Your First Lawsuit

Lawsuit
Courtney Keating—Getty Images

Step 1: stay calm

startupcollective

This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

It was January 26, 2012 and I was having a great morning — until I was abruptly confronted by a joint lawsuit filed by Facebook and the Washington Attorney General for several serious claims against our company. Before I even learned the details of the suit, they hosted an elaborate press conference that was all over the news. My first reaction was an adrenaline rush akin to being cornered by the king of the jungle at the end of a cliff. I did not sleep that night. Or the next.

This was my first lawsuit, and the gravity of the suit and its consequences left me nearly paralyzed. I knew none of the allegations were true, but I didn’t know what was going to happen next. The coming months were an insane roller coaster teetering between stress, anxiety and fear over the rising costs and uncertainty of it all. I just did not understand how it worked. Fortunately, by May 2012, we had wrapped up both lawsuits with very favorable outcomes. The Attorney General withdrew two-thirds of their claims after we threatened to dismiss the complaint, and the settlement shortly thereafter only served to cover their attorney fees and reinforce compliance steps we had taken long before the lawsuit.

Although it felt crazy at the time, I made it out of my first lawsuit alive and we came back stronger than ever. If you’re up against your first lawsuit, here are a few tips that will hopefully make life easier:

  1. Get a competent lawyer NOW. If you don’t already have a lawyer on retainer, this is what you need to work on immediately. Do not do anything before you hire a lawyer. And do not compromise on the lawyer you pick. It goes without saying that a great, experienced lawyer will greatly affect the outcome of a suit. In my opinion, you can find the best lawyers from referrals.
  2. Go crazy (but not too crazy). Give yourself a few days to feel everything you have to feel. It’s going to feel like a punch in the stomach at best and like the world is ending at worst. But the only way out is through. By dealing with your fear and emotions upfront, you will be able to remain productive and continue to manage your company while dealing with your lawsuit.
  3. Turn to your support system. Stay balanced by turning to your support system of friends and family who will be able to help you get through this mentally. To know that you have the support of your loved ones and can, to some extent, share this burden makes life so much easier.
  4. Learn how lawsuits work. Chances are, no one has told you that lawsuits don’t work exactly as you might think. It’s not necessarily about right and wrong, and the system doesn’t really care. It is unaffordable to fight right and wrong unless you have an unlimited cash reserve. Instead, it’s about finding an outcome that makes the most business sense for you. It is generally agreed that 95 percent of lawsuits settle prior to trial. In a lawsuit, there are usually multiple options for you to explore that will resolve or settle the case.
  5. Remain calm. During the lawsuit, the plaintiff may try to strong-arm you into a tight spot with fancy legalese. It has happened to me, and it throws me off every time. That is, until my lawyer told me they were blowing smoke. Expect to be thrown off and do your best to remain calm and stand your ground so you don’t make any hasty decisions.
  6. Be extra frugal. Unfortunately, a very painful part of a lawsuit is the cost. It is important to hope for the best but plan for the worst. That means if you don’t already have a significant cash reserve, start building one immediately and find ways you might be able to cut unnecessary expenses in the business.
  7. Don’t forget to rebuild. Once your first lawsuit is over, another difficult part of the journey begins. For me, it was rebuilding my brand and myself. I took a step back and reevaluated what I was building towards until I was happy with the answer. Fortunately, nothing changed aside from an increased level of determination and a passion to take my company to new heights. We also thanked those clients who stood by us during the lawsuit, who had helped further strengthen our position in the industry even while facing these serious charges.

At the end of the day, unyielding perseverance and determination will allow you to overcome whatever you’re up against. The first lawsuit will make you feel like the world is set against you; however, once you’re done with this battle you’ll realize it’s just a normal part of business. Welcome to the big leagues — you’ve been noticed.

Fehzan Ali is the co-founder & CEO of Adscend Media and is responsible for driving and implementing the strategic vision of the Company. He is an industry thought leader, providing editorial content about innovative ad-based solutions.

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