TIME Careers & Workplace

3 Things Good Managers Say Instead of ‘I Don’t Know’

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Don’t rush to give just any answer

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This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

Picture this: You’ve been promoted to manager because your supervisors have confidence in your ability to lead and inspire. It feels great! You love helping your direct reports do their best work, and you smile when see that “Director of” title on your business card.

Yet, there’s one situation that your prior experience and those Management 101 books seemed to overlook: what to do when you’re supposed to have answers for your team and, unfortunately, you have no clue.

Although you may feel that you need to give an immediate response every time someone runs into your office with an issue, this is a critical first step to take: Stop. Seriously. Don’t rush to give just any answer. And though it feels tempting, avoid saying “I don’t know.” What feels like a conclusive statement to you actually sounds like ellipses to your team. It leaves them hanging and creates more questions.

When you reach these critical moments, pause, collect yourself, and consider these approaches:

1.“I don’t have the information I need to give an answer. I’ll find it.”

In retrospect, when I’ve said “I don’t know,” it has been because the situation was new—software that I had never used, projects and stakes that I had never encountered. In those moments, though, I could have taken a moment to evaluate the data from past projects that had similar deliverables or challenges.

For example, if the question from a team member is, “How much time should I devote to making this storyboard?” and I’ve never made one myself, I can still be helpful. Rather than saying “I don’t know” or deferring to “Use your best judgment” (which sometimes feels like a cop-out), I can refer to the hours that we’ve tracked for past storyboards and how long clients took to approve them. This gives a range for the expected time and, most importantly, provides guidance and support for the team.

Even if it takes time and research to find the answer, do it. Your team will trust and respect you when they see that you’re committed to helping them.

2. “Let’s have a quick brainstorm.”

The creative process works best when at least two minds can riff of off one another—together, you can often devise more solutions together than were possible separately.

So, take five minutes to connect with your colleagues and run a few exercises (like these) to clear the mental blocks you may be having. Even if your team members are asking you because they’re less familiar with the project or issue than you are, brainstorming can still be effective—in fact, their perspective as “outsiders” may bring fresher thinking. In either case, in addition to creating more options for solutions, you also create more collective ownership of the outcomes among the team.

3.“I know an expert who can help with this.”

Of the three approaches I’m sharing, this is the toughest because you are plainly admitting that someone knows better than you do. But rather than causing concern (or doubt in your abilities) by saying “let’s escalate this,” you’re still showing confidence that an answer can be found.

Senior managers or company advisors with specific knowledge can be great resources. You could even share it with mentors in your own network—remember, they’re not exclusively there for emergencies (this isn’t Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?), but as a “board of directors” for areas in which you’re not as strong.

Remember, no one expects you to know everything. Having a wide pool of resources to draw from when necessary will inspire confidence among your team.

In times of uncertainty, remember that leadership doesn’t mean always having the answers. It means always being committed to finding them.

More from The Muse:

TIME Careers & Workplace

9 Ways That Helped Me Make My First Million Dollars in Profit

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Remember that Rome was not built in a day

Making a million dollars in revenue is hard. Making a million dollars in profit is even harder.

Every entrepreneur dreams of reaching his or her first million dollars in profit. I was no different when I started my first business with only a few dollars to my name. You often hear people talk about how high their revenue is. To me, that’s just a vanity metric. There is no point starting a business if it is not sustainably profitable.

Here is a list of nine factors that helped me reach my first million in profit — I hope they can help you reach this milestone as well.

1. Bootstrapping is important in the first few years.

I started my business without any outside capital and without any business loans. I used every penny that I generated to grow the business. Bootstrapping allowed me to concentrate 100 percent on building my company without worrying about loans and debt. I worked hard and rolled all of the profit back into the business. It required personal sacrifices but in the end I was able to build a successful debt-free business.

Related: 5 Steps to Build a Million-Dollar Business in One Year

2. Your first idea will not be how you make your first million.

It is very rare that an entrepreneur will hit a home run with his or her very first venture. I was not any different — I made my first million running a business brokerage with FE International, but this was not the first thing I tried. I failed and got knocked down a couple of times but that didn’t stop me. If I gave up after the first couple of failures I would never have succeeded. Don’t get discouraged if your first idea doesn’t go according to plan.

3. Working within your own means will set good habits for the future.

When you set limits and work within those limits it lays a solid foundation to build from. I didn’t have limitless capital when I started and I had to account for every dollar that I spent. This turned me into a very disciplined business owner and I still have the same approach to this day. I analyze every opportunity and weigh the positives and negatives.

Even though I continue to increase overheads in line with ever-increasing revenue, I am still conservative with spending as I’ve become disciplined from years of bootstrapping.

4. Do not surround yourself with naysayers.

Nothing will set you off course quicker than surrounding yourself with negative people. You will learn quickly that you can never please everyone and there will always be doubters and people that will always have something negative to say. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals and push the negative energy out of your life. You will become much more productive, focused and ultimately, successful.

5. Hire people that are smart and have different skills.

You can’t wear every single hat within your business. You also can’t learn to do everything perfectly — there just isn’t enough time in each day. Hire experts in every department. Build your organization with the very best talent available. Will some of your team members be smarter than you in some areas? Of course, but as Malcolm Forbes said, “Never hire someone who knows less than you do about what he’s hired to do.”

Related: What You Can Learn From 8 Kids Already Making a Million Dollars

6. Do not fixate on the competition.

If you spend your time worrying about what the competition is doing, at best you are going to become only a slightly better version of them. Yes, you need to be aware of what they are doing and you can analyze their strategy, but putting too much time and energy into following their every move will take precious time away from growing and improving your business.

Do you want to always be looking over your shoulder and in the rear-view mirror or do you want to focus on innovating and changing the game? Do you think Apple is worrying about the competition? Sure, the company is keeping track of them, but the majority of its focus is on innovation.

7. Your time is valuable, so don’t cut corners.

Every entrepreneur eventually realizes that time is his or her most valuable asset. We all want more of it and it will always be finite. The last thing you want to do is have to backtrack to fix mistakes that could have easily been avoided by doing it properly the first time. Don’t cut corners and avoid careless mistakes and it will save your time fixing preventable issues.

8. Rome was not built in a day.

You need to set attainable goals and then work hard to reach and exceed them. As an entrepreneur you will come in contact with numerous other opportunities and you will think of other ideas along the way. Don’t lose focus — you can’t chase every single opportunity or dollar.

Those that do lose focus, instead of reaching their goal, they make it halfway to several goals. Work hard and crush your goals so you can continue to grow sustainably, setting (and beating) aggressive goals along the way rather than being distracted by side projects.

9. Back yourself.

Running a business is hard. There is no room to be self-conscious and not believe in yourself. People will tell you that you are wrong. People will laugh at your ideas. People will leave. People will not pay you.

Regardless of who you choose to work with, no one will care as much about your (and your business’s) success as you do. You must have faith in yourself and back yourself to succeed, even when your back is up against the wall and when others may doubt you.

Related: 5 Things I Learned Growing $2,000 Into a Multi-Million Dollar Business

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.

TIME Hacking

Hackers Steal $1 Billion in Massive, Worldwide Breach

Russian Retail-Sales Growth Unexpectedly Gains Amid Ruble Crisis
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A prominent cybersecurity firm says that thieves have infiltrated more than 100 banks in 30 countries over the past two years

Hackers have stolen as much as $1 billion from banks around the world, according to a prominent cybersecurity firm. In a report scheduled to be delivered Monday, Russian security company Kaspersky Lab claims that a hacking ring has infiltrated more than 100 banks in 30 countries over the past two years.

Kaspersky says digital thieves gained access to banks’ computer systems through phishing schemes and other confidence scams. Hackers then lurked in the institutions’ systems, taking screen shots or even video of employees at work. Once familiar with the banks’ operations, the hackers could steal funds without raising alarms, programming ATMs to dispense money at specific times for instance or transferring funds to fraudulent accounts. First outlined by the New York Times, the report will be presented Monday at a security conference in Mexico.

The hackers seem to limit their scores to about $10 million before moving on to another bank, Kaspersky principal security researcher Vicente Diaz told the Associated Press. This helps avoid detection; the crimes appear to be motivated primarily by financial gain. “In this case they are not interested in information. They’re only interested in the money,” he said. “They’re flexible and quite aggressive and use any tool they find useful for doing whatever they want to do.”

[New York Times]

TIME

World’s Richest Candy Maker and Nutella Founder Died on Valentine’s Day

Owner of Italian chocolate company Ferrero dies at age 89
Alessandro Di Mrco—EPA Michele Ferrero attends the funeral of the heir to the Italian chocolate company Ferrero, Pietro Ferrero, in Alba, Italy on April 27, 2011.

Michele Ferrero was the patriarch of the Ferrero family, whose company spawned Ferrero Rocher chocolates

Italy’s richest man and the candy maker behind the iconic Nutella hazelnut spread died as millions of Americans indulged in his sweet creations on Valentine’s Day.

Michele Ferrero, whose company spawned Ferrero Rocher chocolates and Kinder eggs, died at age 89 at his home in Monaco. According to BBC News, Ferrero had been battling illness for months.

Ferrero’s father created what would later be widely known as Nutella during World War II when cocoa was in short supply. He used hazelnuts to stretch the little chocolate he had. Years later, Nutella is among one of the most beloved treats in Italy and across the world. Forbes described Michele as the “richest candy man on the planet.”

In a statement, according to the Associated Press, Italian President Sergio Mattarella said Ferrero was, “always ahead of his time thanks to innovative products and his tenacious work and reserved character.”

TIME Apple

This Is What Apple’s ‘Titan’ Car Could Look Like

One of the company's famed designers has already taken a crack at designing a car

iGiant Apple is reportedly working on a much bigger smart device: a car. After rumors of such a project began making the rounds online earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 13 that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company has dedicated several hundred employees to creating an Apple-branded electric vehicle. The project is supposedly codenamed “Titan.”

If that is the case and the company proceeds—Apple is notorious for deeply investigating potential products but, ultimately, not bringing them to market—it will have something going for it beyond its massive cash hoard and broad-based brand loyalty. One of the company’s star designers, Marc Newson, has already had his hand at designing a concept car. Newson joined Apple last year.

Newson’s Ford 021C was a concept car first shown at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show. Produced purely as a styling exercise and not intended for production, it was named after the Pantone orange color. Inside, the vehicle featured seats that swivelled on pedestals and extensive LED lighting (then a novelty). The London Design Museum put the vehicle bask on display a few years ago, dubbing it “a neat illustration of Marc Newson’s approach to design: don’t just tinker with existing typologies, but take a long lateral look at them and imagine how the perfect version would be.”

The Journal suggests Apple’s prototype is a minivan-like vehicle, but the 021C’s design philosophy could be a hint of ideas to come.

 

TIME Retail

3 Shocking Facts You Didn’t Know About Presidents Day

A Sliding Scale
MPI—Getty Images A satirical cartoon showing the sliding scale of worth of American politicians, circa 1896.

It's really just a result of smart branding

This Monday, Americans will enjoy their annual celebration of Presidents Day, a vague commemoration of all things presidential, one might think.

Think again. Here are three things you might not have known about Presidents Day:

Technically, it’s still “Washington’s Birthday”

According to section 6103(a) of title 5 of the U.S. Code, this Monday commemorates “Washington’s Birthday,” not “Presidents Day.”

The name change coincided with a Congressional initiative to attach federal holidays to the weekend, thereby creating an uninterrupted, three-day stretch of leisure time.

The Uniform Monday Holiday Bill, which hit the voting floor in 1968, nudged “Washington’s Birthday” from a fixed date, February 22, to every “third Monday in February,” i.e. not Washington’s birthday. But the name stuck.

Presidents Day is a brilliant stroke of branding

The ever-shifting holiday also happened to dance around Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, which several states marked as a separate holiday on February 12. Retailers, eager to promote discounts on both days, seized on the name “Presidents Day” to lure in shoppers regardless of which president they might happen to be celebrating. Gradually the catch-all term fell into common use.

It’s also not quite a holiday

Calling it a “holiday” doesn’t make it so. Yesware, an email analytics firm, crunched the numbers on 23 million emails circulating through corporate inboxes over the course of one year. Their finding: Open and reply rates on Presidents Day exceeded other federal holidays, and even a typical workday.

This is partly a function of workers receiving fewer emails overall, making a quick scan through the inbox a bit easier. It also suggests that when it comes to federal holidays, Presidents Day is the least sacrosanct.

TIME Companies

Apple Reportedly Hiring for Mystery Car Project

An illustration of the Apple Inc. logo taken on Jan. 30, 2015 in Lille, France.
Philippe Huguen—AFP/Getty Images An illustration of the Apple Inc. logo taken on Jan. 30, 2015 in Lille, France.

But that doesn't mean an Apple Car is in the works

Apple is hiring car experts for an off-campus automotive research lab, the Financial Times reports, citing people familiar with the company.

While the story is bound to add fuel to recent rumors that Apple could be working on its own car, it’s unclear exactly what kind of work is being done at the lab, which FT reports opened just late last year. Expanding from designing computers and smartphones to automobiles would be a massive shift for Apple.

Instead of building its own car, Apple could also be using the lab to design the next generation of its CarPlay dashboard infotainment system, or some altogether new automative software platform. It could also be purely for internal purposes: The mere existence of a car research lab doesn’t mean Apple will bring a major new automotive product to market in the near future.

Update: The Wall Street Journal reported late Friday that Apple has “several hundred employees” working on an electric car in an effort codenamed “Titan.”

[Financial Times]

TIME Smartphones

You Can Soon Use Apple Pay at National Parks

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection in Stanford, Calif. on Feb. 13, 2015.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection in Stanford, Calif. on Feb. 13, 2015.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the service is likely to take off in September

Heading to Yosemite National Park? According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, you’ll soon be able to use Apple Pay for entry at the gate.

The tech titan’s CEO was one of many big names to take the stage at Friday’s White House summit on cybersecurity and consumer protection, held at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. Other leaders, from both public and private sectors, included the secretaries of Homeland Security and Department of Commerce and the CEOs American Express, Kaiser Permanente, AIG and Pacific Gas & Electric, to name a few. (President Barack Obama himself spoke later on Friday to announce his next cybersecurity-related executive action.)

The goal of the summit? To get corporations, tech vendors, law enforcement, consumer and privacy advocates, government and others to collaborate and share information in an effort to better prevent and respond to cyberattacks. The White House purposely chose to hold the summit in the heart of Silicon Valley, where much of the innovation in next-generation cybersecurity tools is taking place.

Indeed, much of the discussion at the event centered on how the public and private sectors can best work together to fight cyberattacks and the need for more nimble tools. Apple’s Cook, however, chose to dedicate his time on stage to pitching Apple Pay, talking up the fact that the company doesn’t sell information about its customers, and making an impassioned appeal for the importance of privacy–not just for security purposes but for the purposes of human rights.

According to Cook, Apple never sells consumer information to other businesses–that is not part of its business model.

“We have a straightforward business model” that does not include selling personal data, Cook told the audience.

Cook then went on to say that Apple Pay, the company’s mobile payments system, is safer than the traditional “plastic” credit cards. He also announced that, come September, Apple Pay would be available for “government transactions.”

Apple’s CEO ended his talk with an impassioned plea for privacy and freedom of expression across the world.

“History has shown us that sacrificing our right to privacy can have dire consequences,” said Cook. “We still live in a world where all people are not treated equally, [where] too many people do not feel free to practice their religion or express their opinion or love who they choose, a world in which that information can make the difference between life and death. If those of us in positions of responsibility fail to do everything in our power to protect the right of privacy we risk something far more valuable than money: we risk our way of life.”

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Regulation

Why Wal-Mart and Texas Are Headed for an Epic Showdown

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Alamy

Two icons of "real" America are at loggerheads over a surprising issue

No state is more “real America” than Texas. No retailer is more “real America” than Wal-Mart. And no political opinion is more “real America” than “regulation bad.”

So it might come as something of a shock to learn that Wal-Mart stores in Texas are forbidden by law from selling booze—anything other than beer and wine. Wal-Mart is paying trial lawyers to sue the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in the U.S. District Court in Austin, challenging the law that forbids all publicly held corporations, hotels excepted, from selling hooch. The law violates the U.S. Constitution, Wal-Mart argues.

“One class of retailers—public corporations—[is] denied an opportunity to compete in the distilled spirits market, while another class of retailers—private corporations and publicly traded hotel corporations—are allowed to compete without similar restriction,” Wal-Mart argues in the lawsuit. “No other state in the nation allows private corporations to engage in the retail sale of spirits but prohibits some but not all publicly traded companies from doing so.”

And indeed, the distinction does seem odd—”irrational,” as Wal-Mart puts it. But as it turns out, it’s just another instance of one business interest versus another. In the lawsuit, Wal-Mart singles out the Texas Package Stores Association as the lobbying group that has fought hard to keep the law in place. It represents about half of the state’s approximately 2,500 liquor stores.

No retailer in Texas is allowed more than five package-store permits, so any chain that’s any bigger is barred from selling any booze other than beer and wine from its sixth store on up. Except that there’s a loophole. Wal-Mart notes in the lawsuit that families are allowed to “pool their package store permits into a single entity and collectively obtain an unlimited number of package store permits.”

A Wal-Mart spokesperson pointed out to the Dallas Morning News what for many people would be the most obvious argument against the law: “This is counter to Texas’ belief in free enterprise and fair competition, limits our customers’ choice[s] and keeps the price of spirits artificially high, all of which harm Texas consumers.”

MONEY Leisure

The Fifty Shades of Grey Stimulus

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY
Chuck Zlotnick—Focus Features/courtesy Everett Fifty Shades of Grey

The Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon will surely heat up movie theater box offices this weekend. Movie tickets are hardly the only things fans are being cajoled, teased, tempted, and otherwise seduced into buying.

The marketing campaigns and product tie-ins related to Fifty Shades of Grey range from the wholly expected (condoms, “toys” you’d never see in toy stores) to the puzzling (craft beer and marijuana-themed hotel packages), sometimes venturing down the path of just plain icky (S&M Teddy Bear). Among the categories banking on the arrival of Fifty Shades in theaters delivering a big sales stimulus:

Online Movie Tickets
Fifty Shades of Grey was considered a hit at the box office a full month before being released in theaters. It achieved status as the fastest-selling R-rated movie in the history of online sales four weeks ago at Fandango, and Fifty Shades alone constituted 60% of advance sales at the site on Tuesday, February 3. Advance sales have been particularly hot in Bible Belt states such as Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Alabama.

This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Fifty Shades has become Fandango’s fourth best seller for online tickets prior to opening weekend—behind only films from storied franchises “The Hunger Games,” “Harry Potter,” and “Twilight”—and that the phenomenon could even help get filmgoers more into the habit of buying movie tickets before showing up at the theater.

BoxOffice.com is predicting that that the movie’s four-day gross at theaters will be a whopping $95 million, offering this insight as to why Fifty Shades is bound to draw such in epic crowds: “To be blunt, curiosity and sex sell—even, and perhaps especially, to those who are reluctant but simply want to know what the fuss is all about.”

Movie Theater Advertising
According to AdAge, the arrival of Fifty Shades of Grey at theaters has prompted several brands that have never advertised during movie previews to jump into the game. Calvin Klein Jeans and the apparel retailer Vibez are showing their first-ever commercials before the film in the U.K., while brands like Revlon and Renault are also advertising at movie houses before customers start watching Fifty Shades.

Alcohol
Fifty Shades of Grey wine hit the market two years ago, and it’s “hardly been a best-seller,” liquor store owners recently told Marketplace. Still, the arrival of the film should certainly help boost sales of Fifty Shades-branded White Silk and Red Silk wine, if only for the sake of kitsch.

Meanwhile, plenty of bars and restaurants have concocted special Fifty Shades of Grey cocktails that’ll surely be best sellers in certain circles. The luxury movie theater chain iPic, which features oversized leather recliners and, in the premium section, pillows, blankets, and iPads for ordering food and drink, has created a cocktail especially for the film called the “Red Room of Pain.” The drink is made with hibiscus, ginger rum, and rose petals. “It’s a decadent, slightly naughty cocktail while you’re watching the movie,” an iPic mixologist said to the Miami Herald. “I think we’ll sell a gazillion of them.”

There’s even a new limited-edition Fifty Shades of Grey craft beer that incorporates 50 different hops and other ingredients that supposedly have aphrodisiac qualities. It’s selling for $46 a bottle.

Adult Toys, Hardware Supplies
The New York Times recently reported that the success of the Fifty Shades books resulted in a sizeable increase in sales of once-obscure sex-themed products, and that the film’s release is expected to bring about a second wave of “adult toy” sales. Perhaps what’s most surprising of all is that some of these Fifty Shades-themed products are being sold by mainstream retailers like Target and (in England) Tesco. Another British retailer, hardware store B&Q, has alerted staffers to become familiar with Fifty Shades, be sensitive about inquiries into seemingly odd product inquiries, and to “monitor stock levels of rope, cable ties, masking tape and [duct] tape to ensure that supplies do not run low.”

In related news, authorities in London have expressed concern that the release of the film is likely to lead to a spike in emergency calls from couples trying to imitate what they see on the screen. “The Fifty Shades effect seems to spike handcuff incidents so we hope film-goers will use common sense and avoid leaving themselves red-faced,” a London Fire Brigade official said.

Condoms
Naturally, condom manufacturers have had some fun with Fifty Shades. Trojan released this hilarious ad online showing a couple’s slapstick attempts to channel their inner Christian Grey and Steele, and the commercial is also being shown in theaters before the film:

Hotel Packages
Hotels in Portland, Ore., (where Fifty Shades is set) and South Florida, among other spots, are offering Fifty Shades-themed guest packages with amenities like a gray silk tie, Champagne, chocolates, and “a sensual love kit.”

Meanwhile, in Denver, the Curtis Hotel has a deal that would only make sense in Colorado, or perhaps Washington—the two states where recreational marijuana is legal. The “totally dope package” that goes by then name “Fifty Shades of Green” costs $420—a number that means something to cannabis enthusiasts—and includes two movie passes, roses, and in-room munchies like brownies and Cheetos. Curiously, like most hotels, the Curtis is a completely nonsmoking property.

Teddy Bears
Perhaps the strangest and creepiest tie-in of all is the Fifty Shades of Grey Bear being sold by the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. The bear “features smoldering eyes, a suit and satin tie, mask – even mini handcuffs,” along with the understated warning: “Contains small parts. Not suitable for children.”

The Actual Book
Many of the reviews of Fifty Shades the movie say that it’s better than Fifty Shades the book—which isn’t saying much, considering what awful things people said of the writing.

Nonetheless, as with most film releases, the arrival of Fifty Shades in theaters looks like it is helping renew interest in the book. Fifty Shades of Grey has been in the top five of the New York Times Best Sellers for the past two weeks. Prior to that, it hadn’t been in the top five in terms of overall print and e-book fiction for quite some time.

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