TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: January 5

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. After 13 years at war chasing shifting priorities and the wildly different visions of civilian leadership, America’s military is a force adrift.

By Andrew Tilghman, Hope Hodge Seck, Michelle Tan, Patricia Kime, David Larter, Steve Losey and Leo Shane III in the Military Times

2. Sending kids to jail only ups the chances they’ll commit crimes again. States should raise the age of criminal responsibility.

By Sarah Childress at Frontline

3. 95 percent of the world’s population doesn’t own a computer. Repurposing old or unused tech can help close the gap.

By Revivn

4. We must build systems for overcoming subconscious racial bias.

By Sendhil Mullainathan in the Upshot

5. A new tool harnesses data to give teachers personalized roadmaps for professional development.

By Christina Quattrocchi in EdSurge

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

This Is the Apple Watch’s Killer Feature

Apple Watch Convenience
Loic Venance—AFP/Getty Images View of the Apple watch displayed in a shop on the Saint-Honore street, a day after after the unveiling of the new and highly anticipated product in Paris on Sept. 30, 2014.

A tech editor says it boils down to something extremely simple

Nicholas Carlson’s Business Insider headline Friday morning — “The Apple Watch Is Going To Be A Flop, Top Startup Investor Says” — bears almost no relation to what the top startup investor (Fred Wilson) actually said. I mention it partly because I like making fun of Business Insider’s headlines, and partly because it gives me an excuse to dig out a piece I bookmarked a few days earlier.

It’s by Rene Ritchie, editor of iMore and co-host of almost as many tech podcasts as there are days in the week.

The Apple Watch’s killer feature, he wrote in late November, having digested nearly three months of post-intro analysis, is convenience.

Read more at Fortune.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: January 2

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Never doubt the power of play to transform communities.

By Natasha Gardner in 5280 Magazine

2. It’s time to start connecting the dots between executive compensation and better corporate citizenship.

By Judy Samuelson in the Guardian

3. To fight contamination of lake water, these floating toilets grow there and clean themselves.

By Nsikan Akpan at National Public Radio

4. We owe approaching breakthroughs on String Theory to science’s patience for nurturing new ideas.

By Brian Greene in Smithsonian Magazine

5. “Nothing stops a bullet like a job:” A small investment in summer jobs for teens in Chicago reduced violent crime in the city.

By Emily Badger in the Washington Post

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME

Big Idea 2015: It’s Time for Political Leaders to Work Together

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Adam Goldstein is President and & COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises.

Let’s agree to make progress on each of these five points during 2015 and in return we can continue to fight about everything else as usual

I believe the topic for this month is the one big fantasy for 2015 (well, something like that). So here it is: my idea is that our political leaders actually work together to address the nation’s challenges. As opposed to elected officials acting as if parties that alternate winning by a small margin every two years always have a mandate to have things their own way.

So let’s willingly suspend disbelief for a moment or two and imagine that in 2015, a sudden surge in bipartisan spirit will enable the United States to:

  • Recommit to educating our children so we remain competitive in the world economy for decades to come
  • Invest in our failing infrastructure so that in addition to preserving our bridges, roads and buildings for the long term we will promote employment for the short term
  • Pass budgets, manage debt ceilings and fund essential programs without histrionics and embarrassing brinksmanship that reduces the world’s respect for our principles of democracy
  • Take advantage of an unforeseen window of opportunity that lower energy prices and greater domestic production have afforded us to reduce our dependence on oil, especially imported oil
  • Motivate job creation by businesses both large and small to spur economic growth

What idea could produce such a far-fetched outcome? In a word, leadership. That is the missing element between fantasy and reality. As long we have a two party political system where each side believes it has all of the right answers and the other side has all of the wrong answers, the gap persists. But my fantasy need only stretch so far. Let’s agree to make progress on each of the above five points during 2015 and in return we can continue to fight like cats and dogs about everything else as per usual. If we achieve this limited but essential success next year, then let’s pick five more areas to cooperate on in 2016. Oh, sorry, that’s a Presidential election year. Maybe we’ll just shoot for odd numbered years until we establish a favorable trend.

For those of you who find this “idea” of mine utterly unrealistic to the point of absurdity, please be advised that this is only my second most outlandish fantasy for 2015. My first, which I did not have the guts to write about, is that the Philadelphia Eagles will win the Super Bowl next year. It’s a privilege to write for LinkedIn and I didn’t want to risk my readership writing about something that could never happen.

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Adam Goldstein shares his thoughts as part of LinkedIn’s Influencer series, “Big Ideas 2015” in which the brightest minds in business blog on LinkedIn about their predictions on ideas and trends that will shape 2015. LinkedIn Editor Amy Chen provides an overview of the 70+ Influencers that tackled this subject as part of the package. Follow Adam Goldstein and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Big Idea 2015: Technology Can Save Us Time, But Are We Spending Those Extra Hours Well?

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Maynard Webb is Chairman of the Board at Yahoo! and founder of Webb Investment Network. Webb is also the author of "Rebooting Work: Transform How You Work in the Age of Entrepreneurship".

in the midst of all of the productivity hacks and exciting advances we must remember to retain our humanity

Everyone starts with the same number of hours in the day. But what differentiates us is how much we get out of those hours. The most successful people achieve things in less than a third of the time it would take an average person to complete the same task.

But now — and in a trend that will grow in 2015 — we are seeing more tools and hacks that will allow everyone to gain an edge on Father Time, allowing us to complete more, achieve more, and enjoy more in less time than ever before.

There are several advances in technology that will rapidly increase productivity:

Electronic Payments: Apple Pay and Visa Checkout enable us to save time from filling out information and making payments simpler and more secure than ever before.

Working Idle Assets: Airbnb and Relay Rides allow us to leverage our assets when we are not using them, and make money when we are not working, allowing us freedom do more in other areas.

Automobiles: Incredible advances are being made with cars, and I know my investment in a Tesla not only saves me money — I charge it at home overnight, when I get better rates and get credits for the solar panels I put in — but it also saves me time. I’m never wasting cycles of productivity sitting at a gas station. In the future, we will have driverless cars, allowing us to accomplish other things while we are in transit.

On Demand: I no longer wait to see the news in the morning paper, but get my updates from Yahoo! News Digest, an amazing tool that culls the biggest headlines curated just for me. I read all of my news on my sports teams on my phone and when I am waiting in line at Starbucks. Twitter is another example of an increasingly popular platform for scanning real-time news. I used to spend my mornings searching for that news; now I use that extra time I get back to work with the entrepreneurs we invest in and help more people make their ideas a reality.

Wearables: No question that there’s been a lot of hype around IoT, especially as it relates to high-tech wearables. Wearable devices are now at the heart of just about every discussion related to IoT, and I believe that 2015 will see us continue to move from viewing these as fun novelties and interesting gadgets, to a game-changing influence with the potential to not only disrupt the modern business world (i.e. Salesforce Wear), but also help us to be more productive in our personal lives.

In 2015 we will all have the opportunity to save more time than ever. But in the midst of all of these productivity hacks and exciting advances we must remember to retain our humanity. We must not spend meals with loved ones on our smartphones. We must not squander this saved time scouring Facebook or binge-watching seasons of TV shows. Too often we get savings in one area, and we waste it in another. Let’s not do that.

This coming year we should think about how to spend our newly gained time and resolve to give it back to the world. The people who learn how to harness time for good will be the most successful and make the biggest impact.

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Maynard Webb shares his thoughts as part of LinkedIn’s Influencer series, “Big Ideas 2015” in which the brightest minds in business blog on LinkedIn about their predictions on ideas and trends that will shape 2015. LinkedIn Editor Amy Chen provides an overview of the 70+ Influencers that tackled this subject as part of the package. Follow Maynard Webb and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Big Idea 2015: Make This the Year You Finally Launch Your Own Startup

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Don Tapscott is CEO of The Tapscott Group, and was founder and chairman of the international think tank New Paradigm. Tapscott's new book is "The Digital Economy Anniversary Edition: Rethinking Promise and Peril in the Age of Networked Intelligence".

Consider being a social entrepreneur

2015 will be the time to start a business. Here’s why and how.

Around the world we are facing unprecedented unemployment – even in the developed world. Youth are particularly hard hit. In 2014 more than 1.6 million students graduated from American colleges and universities. Many moved directly into the swollen ranks of the unemployed. After taking on enormous debt to finance their studies, they ended up competing for unpaid internships or low-paying jobs for which their education is irrelevant. This violates the tacit pact made with them: If they were industrious, law-abiding and diligent students, their lives would be prosperous.

The U.S. isn’t alone. According to the International Labor Organization, youth unemployment in most of the world is stuck at about 20 percent. “Young people [are] nearly three times as likely as adults to be unemployed,” says the ILO. In Spain more than 50 percent of young people are unemployed, in Italy it’s 35 percent, and in France the rate is more than 25 percent. When considering under-employment, these numbers could be doubled.

Such unemployment is corrosive to all societies, no matter what their level of development. All citizens want to play a productive role and contribute to their community. Unemployment gnaws at an individual’s well-being, and makes them feel surplus to society’s needs.

But traditional methods of job creation are stalled.

One of the keys to solving this problem is entrepreneurship. Research shows that 80 percent of new jobs come from companies 5 years old or less. So the need for entrepreneurs has never been greater, in both developing and developed countries. When given the right conditions to flourish, entrepreneurs are the foundation of growth, prosperity and even innovation. They bring fresh thinking to the marketplace and fuel the creative destruction that makes market economies prosper.

In addition to creating jobs, new companies are the foundation of the economy and the source of much innovation. They also create the new goods and services on which our standard of living is based. The Internet slashes transaction and collaboration costs for almost every institution in an economy. This is leading to a change in how societies orchestrate capability to innovate, create goods, services and public value. With such costs falling precipitously, companies can increasingly source ideas, innovations and uniquely qualified minds from a vast global pool of talent.

Many big companies benefit from startup entrepreneurship. They acquire small companies with great innovations rather than relying solely on their research and development departments. As the new saying goes, M&A is the new R&D. Entrepreneurship is also critical to social cohesion and avoiding the radicalization of youth and their recruitment to anti-social and dangerous causes.

Waiting for governments or big companies to solve the problem is not the answer. Necessity is the mother of invention. Is it time to take the bull by the horns and make your own job?

The best thing I ever did in my professional life was to become an entrepreneur. It was tough, but it worked out well for me and I have a life of influence, prosperity and fun beyond anything I ever dreamed. Here’s my advice to you.

  1. Create a business with customers. This may sound silly but so many startups are focused on getting traffic to their site, going viral or getting traffic to their website. Peter Drucker said years ago: “The purpose of any business should be to create a customer.” Create some value that a customer would want to pay you for. As for funding listen to Tony Hsieh the CEO of Zappos, who said: “Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you.”
  2. Don’t seek venture capital. These days virtually no venture capitalist invest in a business plans or even early-stage companies. Besides, you don’t need them. Fortunately, it is less costly than ever to create a company. Thanks to the Internet, little companies can now have all the capabilities of big companies, without the main liabilities: stifling bureaucracy, legacy culture and processes. Talent can be outside enterprise boundaries and companies can use the new media to market and engage stakeholders in radically new, low-cost ways. One study found that readily available resources such as open-source software, cloud computing, and the rise of virtual office infrastructure has driven the cost of launching an Internet venture down from $5 million in 1997 to less than $50,000 in 2008. The best is to have a product or service that generates initial revenue so you don’t have to borrow money or give away equity. Or get a loan or small investment from your family or friends.
  3. Consider crowdfunding. The Internet offers a new solution for companies seeking capital, based on peer-to-peer networks that bring people together to achieve a common goal. New firms can source capital in new ways, and it should be no surprise that a young business builders are harnessing the power of mass collaboration to fund their companies. Individuals and new companies have used crowdfunding to raise billions of dollars in debt and equity during the past five years. In 2012, crowdfunding raised almost US $2.7 billion around the world, an 80 percent increase over the year before. Since 2009, Kickstarter has channeled more than US $815 million to nearly 50,000 projects. The early success of crowdfunding in the developed world shows how much potential this new way of raising capital has for aspiring entrepreneurs in the developing world. No jobs? Take a page from my daughter and her best friend who created Knixwear, a company that makes high-performing underwear for women. (“Women are multi-taskers, their underwear should be too”). Their crowdfunding campaign not only raised capital, it lead to a big deal with one of their most important target retailers. A year later, the company is a rocket.
  4. Consider being a social entrepreneur. With the rise of social entrepreneurship – businesses that seek to create social good – there are vast new opportunities to advance social development, sustainability and justice that supplement the efforts of traditional government and civil society institutions. Governments are increasingly inept at solving societal problems. So increasingly it’s up to us. I’m constantly inspired as I travel around the world by the new generation who want to do well by doing good.
  5. The Internet enables startups to focus on what you do best. Partner to do the rest. Companies such as Amazon are opening up their technology infrastructures to create an open stage where large communities of partners can create value, and in many cases, create new businesses. They set a context for innovation and then invite their customers, partners and other third parties to co-create their products and services.
  6. Don’t give up. From my experience, the conventional wisdom is correct — not banal. “Ninety percent of everything is just showing up.” “Success is 90 percent perspiration and 10 percent inspiration.” Or as Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through Hell, keep going.”It’s a lot of hard work to build a business. But if you’re like me or the women at Knixwear, it’s worth it.

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Don Tapscott shares his thoughts as part of LinkedIn’s Influencer series, “Big Ideas 2015” in which the brightest minds in business blog on LinkedIn about their predictions on ideas and trends that will shape 2015. LinkedIn Editor Amy Chen provides an overview of the 70+ Influencers that tackled this subject as part of the package. Follow Don Tapscott and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

7 Rituals You Should Steal From Extremely Creative People

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Observe your mentors and study the work of other masters

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it; they just saw something and connected the dots. It seemed obvious to them after a while.”
―Steve Jobs

Over the years, through our coaching practice and premium course, Angel and I have spoken with dozens of entrepreneurs, artists, and creative types about their unique rituals and routines. The really nice thing is that we often learn just as much from our clients as they do from us. They tell us about some of the most incredibly creative ideas and projects imaginable, and we teach them how to fine-tune the process of getting from where they are to where they want to be. A good coach/client relationship is truly a win-win.

Today, I want to share seven of the most common rituals we’ve seen repeated by the most creative people we’ve worked with.

It’s often said that creativity can’t be contained. That creative inspiration and ideas arise suddenly out of nowhere and then fail to show up when we need them most. And while that may be true for a specific idea, when you look at the broader picture, you realize that sustained creativity – having lots of creative ideas over time – doesn’t come from a flash of brilliance or a single moment of inspiration. It comes from a consistent set of rituals that serve as the bedrock for getting remarkable things done.

1. Engage deeply in meaningful pursuits.

Marcus Aurelius once said, “Stop whatever you’re doing for a moment and ask yourself: Am I afraid of death because I won’t be able to do this anymore?”

One of our coaching clients brought this quote to my attention about a decade ago. Today I have it pinned to the bulletin board in my office. It stops me from squandering my most precious resource: my time.

Creativity as both a lifestyle and a profession is a daring adventure, and a trulyrewarding one. To thoroughly love what you do while also being fulfilled financially and emotionally is an aspiration and a challenge. That aspiration can become a reality, but it takes lots of hard work, dedication, and some luck that eventually comes from persistently doing the right things. Which is why you must remind yourself on a daily basis of what’s actually meaningful to you, and fully commit to the actions that yield progress in that area of your life.

2. Set up triggers that get you into the rhythm for a routine of creating.

Maya Angelou only wrote in small hotel rooms. Jack Kerouac made sure to touch the ground nine times before sitting down to write. And many of the artistic clients we’ve worked with over the years have done everything from meditating, to singing, to running, to even doing two-hour long workouts immediately prior to working on their creative projects. For example, take a look at our client Fay’s morning routine. Here’s what she recently told us:

“I begin every day with one simple ritual: I wake up at 6 a.m., put on workout clothes, walk outside my downtown San Francisco home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to my gym. I workout for an hour and forty-five minutes, and then I take a leisurely fifteen-minute jog back home. The important part of the ritual is not the training I do at the gym; what’s important is getting in that cab every morning and getting the day started in the right direction. The rest just falls into place. I get home feeling good and ready to work.”

Think about your days. How are they structured? What triggers your creative (and productive) mind? Are you consciously structuring your days with this trigger in mind?

Whether it’s waking up early, working in a specific location, or hitting the weights first thing in the morning, you need to find a trigger that gets you into rhythm – your rhythm. When you design a healthy daily routine that starts automatically every morning, you save lots of mental energy for the creative thinking that comes naturally when you find yourself in your rhythm. Through this personalized routine you will bring out your most intuitive work.

Of course, your routine will change occasionally due to evolving circumstances. The idea is that you make the necessary adjustments and maintain a routine that works – one that maintains the necessary triggers and rituals to develop and nurture your creative mind, and to ultimately do the work necessary to get you from where you are to where you want to be. (Read The War of Art.)

3. Spend daily downtime daydreaming.

Creative types know that, despite what their grade school teachers likely told them, daydreaming is anything but a waste of their time. While structured routines are important for the actual process of creating, our minds need downtime filled with the freedom to wander.

Neuroscientists have found that daydreaming involves the same brain processes associated with imagination and creative thinking. According to psychologist Rebecca L. McMillan, who recently co-authored a research paper titled Ode To Positive Constructive Daydreaming, daydreaming can aid in the “creative incubation” of ideas and solutions to complex problems.

Perhaps that’s why we sometimes get our best ideas while taking a long, hot shower.

4. Schedule in new experiences.

When they’re not daydreaming in their downtime, creative types love to expose themselves to new experiences, sensations and states of mind. This willingness to stretch themselves is a significant predictor of their creative output. Because creative growth always begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Of course, a big part of this happens inside a routine when you’re “in rhythm” and working hard to stretch your creative and intellectual muscles. But new experiences help balance out your routines. They force you to think differently. So make an effort to try something new at least once a week. It can be a whole new activity or just a small experience, such as talking to a stranger. Once you get the ball rolling, many of these new experiences will open doors to life-changing perspectives you can’t even fathom right now.

And with a strategy of continuous small, scheduled steps into new experiences, you are able to sidestep the biggest barrier to thinking outside the box: Fear.

5. Observe your mentors and study the work of other masters.

If you study the lives of enough successful creators, it becomes obvious that most world-class performers in all fields – musicians, entrepreneurs, artists, dancers, etc. – had incredible mentors, coaches or role models who made the activity of practice worthwhile and rewarding.

If you can speak with a mentor face to face, that’s incredible – do so! But keep in mind that just observing a mentor works wonders too. When we observe someone we want to learn from, and we have a crystal clear idea of what we want to create for ourselves, it unlocks a tremendous amount of motivation. Human beings are socially inclined, and when we get the idea that we want to join some elite circle up above us, that is what really motivates us to achieve greatness. “Look, they did it. I can do it too!” It may sound overly simplistic, but spending time studying people who are great can be one of the most powerful things you can do for yourself.

In his book Mastery, Robert Greene emphasizes the importance of studying the work of others using Mozart as an example. This is an essential building block for mastering your craft and cultivating your creativity at the same time:

“Throughout his career, Mozart never asserted any particular opinions about music. Instead, he absorbed the styles he heard around himself and incorporated them into his own voice. Late in his career, he encountered for the first time the music of Johann Sebastian Bach – a kind of music very different from his own, and in some ways more complex. Most artists would grow defensive and dismissive of something that challenged their own principles. Instead, Mozart opened his mind up to new possibilities, studying Bach’s use of counterpoint for nearly a year and absorbing it into his own vocabulary. This gave his music a new and surprising creative quality.”

The bottom line is that studying mentors and other masters can help you diversify your own creative output. Doing so facilitates the process of cross-pollinating ideas and strategies, introducing you to new approaches and ways of thinking. Not everything others do will be relevant to you, of course, but it will help refine and develop your style and tailor it to your own unique creative goals.

6. Lean heavily on your intuition.

Intuition is very real and something that is never wise to ignore, because it comes from deep within your subconscious and is derived from a combination of your previous life experiences and core perceptions about the present. If everyone else is telling you “yes” but your gut is telling you otherwise, it’s usually for a good reason. When faced with difficult decisions, seek out all the information you can find, become as knowledgeable as you possibly can, and then listen to your God-given instincts.

Creative people know that trusting your intuition is equivalent to trusting your true self; and the more you trust your true self, the more control you have of making your biggest goals and wildest dreams come true, just the way you envision.

7. Gradually turn life’s obstacles around.

Many of the most iconic novels, songs, and inventions of all time were inspired by gut-wrenching pain and heartbreak. Therefore, the silver lining of these great challenges is that they were the catalyst to the creation of epic masterpieces.

An emerging field of psychology called Post-Traumatic Growth has suggested that most people are able to use their hardships and traumas for substantial creative and intellectual development. Specifically, researchers have found that trauma can help people grow their long-term contentment, emotional strength, and resourcefulness.

When our view of the world as a safe place, or as a certain type of place, has been shattered, we are forced to reboot our perspective on things. We suddenly have the opportunity to look out to the periphery and see things with a new, fresh set of beginner’s eyes, which is extremely beneficial to creativity and personal growth. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

Afterthoughts

Walt Disney once said, “Around here, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious – and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

This is one of my favorite quotes. It inspires me to write and create. And to move on to my next piece of work, even when I catch myself judging my last piece of work as “not good enough.”

For nearly a decade, I have been publishing new articles every week on marcandangel.com. Sometimes the ideas and words come easier than others, and there have been plenty of times when I’ve felt like my work was sub-par.

“I thought this was a great article. Why aren’t people reading and sharing it?” Or I’ll feel like I fumbled through an article only to watch it receive 25,000+ shares on Facebook. Regardless of which outcome I’m dealing with, I’ve realized one thing: As human beings, we are often terrible judges of our own work. We are just too self-critical to see the truth most of the time.

And not only that, it’s not our job to judge our own work. It’s not our job to compare it to everyone else’s work, or to how we thought others would perceive it. There’s no use in doing that.

Instead, it’s our job to create. Our job is to share what we have right now in this moment. Our job is to come as we are and give it our best shot.

There are people in nearly every career field who make each day a work of art simply by the way they have mastered their craft. In other words, almost everyone is an artist in some way. And every artist will have the tendency to judge their own work. The important thing is to not let your self-judgment keep you from doing your thing and sharing your creative gift with the world.

Just like Walt said, the key is to “keep moving forward.”

This article originally appeared on Marc and Angel Hack Life.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Big Idea 2015: Companies Should Fire Bad Customers

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Fred Reichheld is a Bain Fellow and founder of Bain & Company’s Loyalty Practice, which helps companies achieve results through customer and employee loyalty. He is the creator of Net Promoter System℠.

How about more companies to start rating their customers?

We live in the Age of the Empowered Customer. Consumers share their restaurant and travel experiences on Yelp, Facebook and many other sites. They rate hotels, tour operators and even historic landmarks on TripAdvisor. Companies ignore these empowered customers at their peril. In fact, my colleagues and I created the Net Promoter System precisely to help organizations bring the voice of the customer into their daily operations — and to help them respond with real changes, not just window-dressing.

But isn’t it about time for more companies to start rating their customers? Wouldn’t we all be better off if feedback from some customers were ignored? That is the one big idea I expect to start spreading in 2015.

Probably every sales clerk or customer-service rep has run into customers they never want to see again. They’re rude, obnoxious and make life uncomfortable for employees and for fellow customers. Their shouts are often laced with profanity. They abuse the rules and cut into line. Some are shoplifters or deadbeats. In the worst case, they get violent. I recently heard of an obstreperous customer who literally head-butted a service rep at an electronics retailer. The store had to call the police to resolve the situation. I couldn’t help imagining what Net Promoter Score that customer would give to the store employee who “served” him.

The Net Promoter System is built on customer feedback — but if the feedback comes from the wrong customers, then what is the point? Taking feedback seriously from the wrong customers simply diminishes the credibility of the system and alienates frontline employees.

It’s time to empower employees. They know which customers deserve a voice—and which ones don’t. Listen to one commenter responding to a blog by author Alexander Kjerulf:

I worked at a print shop where my manager would occasionally fire customers…. He told one person, “I won’t have you abuse my employee.” I would have crawled through broken glass for him. It was one of the best employment experiences of my life.

Some companies have always maintained confidential lists of customers who have been banned for bad behavior. Today, the rise of electronic networks can empower employees and other stakeholders as much as it empowers customers. Network-based companies such as Lyft and Airbnb, for example, allow sellers, drivers and hosts to review customers even while customers are reviewing them. It isn’t hard to imagine hotels, retailers, even insurance companies collecting feedback about customer behavior from their own employees. Enough complaints from enough people might land a customer on the company’s “no-serve” list. At the very least, those customers should never receive a feedback survey.

Personally, I think that would be a good thing. Consider the Net Promoter System, it’s a method of encouraging civil — and civilized — behavior in the business world. Companies are more likely to act decently toward their customers when they have built-in systems for listening and responding to those customers — and scoring the employees who touched those customers. And customers are more likely to treat employees (and fellow customers) respectfully when they know that they can’t get away with bad behavior. When bad behavior becomes part of their permanent record (just as legitimate Net Promoter feedback becomes part of an employee’s permanent record), the world will get a little bit better.

Perhaps the Age of the Empowered Customer will turn into the Age of Empowered People — an age in which everyone understands that we live in an interconnected world and that we really need to get along better, a world in which feedback can help us build a better community.

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Fred Reichheld shares his thoughts as part of LinkedIn’s Influencer series, “Big Ideas 2015” in which the brightest minds in business blog on LinkedIn about their predictions on ideas and trends that will shape 2015. LinkedIn Editor Amy Chen provides an overview of the 70+ Influencers that tackled this subject as part of the package. Follow Fred Reichheld and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Big Idea 2015: The Year We Take the ‘Me’ Out of Media

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Paula Kerger is the CEO of PBS.

In 2015, forward-looking companies will increasingly focus on building communities

In the television business, there’s a lot of focus on the individualization of the media landscape. Nielsen recently noted “today, content is delivered and consumed through competing delivery platforms, networks and screens. Never before have we seen this level of fragmentation.” Amid this talk of fragmentation, there’s the undercurrent of individualism: everyone wants to experience media in their own way, on their own time. But is this individualism really what will drive media consumption in the future? I think not.

What will drive media consumption in 2015 and beyond is the opportunity media offers to be a part of a larger community.

Human beings are social animals. From the time our earliest ancestors walked the earth, they gathered together and told stories around the fire. More recently, we’ve gathered around the television to share our collective experience. For more than a half century, the box in the living room has served as our electronic hearth. It has given us a place to congregate during moments of triumph and moments of tragedy. Now, we’re gathering around iPads and Xboxes and computer screens. But people are still driven by those same social instincts.

The brands that will do the best in 2015 will recognize this human need to be a part of something larger than themselves, to participate in a bigger community.

Bringing people together to build community isn’t new, but it’s certainly a growing business. I think it’s safe to say that when Tina Brown leaves to run a live-events business, there’s something going on. Attendance at live conference events is growing exponentially. Last year, more than 130,000 people attended ComicCon in San Diego. Conferences “promoting women’s empowerment are on the rise.” And of course, there’s SXSW, which has meant big business for the Austin area, with an estimated $1 billion economic impact over the last five years alone. That’s because people want to come together, to interact with others who share their passion.

This has real implications for the media business. Media companies are seeing tremendous growth by bringing people together and convening conversations in real time.

The Atlantic has revitalized their brand and repositioned the organization into a multimedia force. But I think it’s important to note that one of the areas that has really driven this success is their live events. The Atlantic started hosting live events in 2006; today, it puts on some 125 of them a year under the AtlanticLIVE brand. The live events have been so successful they now account for close to one-fifth of the Atlantic’s overall revenue.

Or consider the one category of television viewership that’s been on an unparalleled growth track: live sporting events. In 2014, over one billion people watched the Super Bowl. Why? Some of these viewers probably weren’t even fans of either team. Instead, people tuned in because the Super Bowl is a communal experience, a cultural touchstone, a chance for people to come together and share something with each other.

The multiplicity of media platforms offers more opportunities for these social experiences, not less. Consider the data around PBS’s flagship fall program, Ken Burns’s THE ROOSEVELTS. For the first time ever, we released all fourteen hours of the program for digital and over-the-top (OTT) streaming the morning after the TV broadcast premier. Some people worried that releasing these programs before they aired on television would lead to decreased viewership, because people could then watch when and how they wanted. But in fact, we saw the opposite- people were using the streams to catch-up on their viewing, so that they could watch the broadcast as it aired. More than 33 million people watched THE ROOSEVELTS during the 7 days it aired on PBS stations. People didn’t want to just watch it on their own, they wanted to be able to participate in the larger conversation around THE ROOSEVELTS event as it happened.

Social media is an important multiplier for this community building. Not only can it promote a television program, it can also foster inclusive discussion and debate. Our recent broadcast of the “AMERICA AFTER FERGUSON” town hall examined the issues raised after the shooting death of Michael Brown. To build on the town hall program, live on-screen tweets were incorporated as part of the broadcast. The results were beyond our expectations. #AfterFergusonPBS was a #1 trending topic on Twitter during and after its broadcast. The program also ranked in Nielsen Social’s Daily Top 5 ranking for series and specials. This means that people were using social media to engage in a national conversation around the important topics raised in the town hall.

So here’s my prediction: in 2015, forward-looking companies will increasingly focus on building communities. Mass media will return to its social roots. Successful companies will leverage the power of new platforms to build online and live communities, bringing people together to share in experiences and events. Amid all of the choices in the media landscape, people will still be driven by the human urge to participate in something bigger than themselves, and the companies that will flourish will build on this.

2015 will be the year of “community.”

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Paula Kerger shares her thoughts as part of LinkedIn’s Influencer series, “Big Ideas 2015” in which the brightest minds in business blog on LinkedIn about their predictions on ideas and trends that will shape 2015. LinkedIn Editor Amy Chen provides an overview of the 70+ Influencers that tackled this subject as part of the package. Follow Paula Kerger and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Big Idea 2015: Employers Get Flirty (and Some Will Play Dirty)

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J.T. O'Donnell is CEO and founder of CAREEREALISM Media. O'Donnell is also founder of CareerHMO.com, a web-based career coaching membership site.

The tables have turned and now talent is finally getting the upper hand

I’ve been waiting for you, 2015. Being in the HR industry for the last 18 years, this is the year I knew would eventually come. I know that sounds a little smug. But, as you’ll see, when Father Time marches on, so does the employment ecosystem. Shifting demographics are kicking in, and it’s going to make a lot of employers start to act very desperate. Here’s why…

As Generations Age, The Talent Shortage Gets Magnified

The unemployment rate is dropping — and will keep doing so. Why? As millions of Baby Boomers continue to retire (you can’t stop the aging process of 77 million people), the generation behind them, Gen X (just under 50 million people) doesn’t have enough people to replace them all. The brain drain is coming fast and furious, and even though the Millennials (roughly 70 million twenty-somethings) are flooding the job market behind Gen X, they aren’t skilled enough to hit the ground running — something employers are now recognizing with eyes wide open. [I just read this book on the coming demographic storm that does a good job of explaining the magnitude of what’s about to happen.]

A recent study by the Career Advisory Board says 93 percent of hiring managers surveyed feel they can’t find the right talent for their jobs. Time to fill rates in certain industries are up to 59 days — and climbing. They haven’t been this high since 2008. These stats rang true while I was on the phone with a CEO in San Francisco this past week. He said the unemployment rate for software developers in his area is at zero. There’s an all out war for top talent there. In his words, “I wish we had 5.3 percent unemployment like the rest of the country — they’ve at least got some talent to choose from.”

The tables have turned and now talent is finally getting the upper hand. With that switch will come a major shift in how companies approach attracting, hiring, and keeping top talent.

Want To Hire Top Talent? Your Company Needs To Get MUCH Hotter!

The internet, and now more specifically, social media have truly disrupted the hiring process. Recruiters are using it heavily to find candidates. During the recent recession, job seekers were forced to develop their professional identities online (i.e. build LinkedIn profiles, etc.), as a way to catch the attention of hiring managers. But now, it’s the employers and recruiters who need to improve their digital “hot factor.” The technical term is “Employment Branding,” and it’s how companies woo top talent. They showcase their company culture, values, benefits, perks, executive team, staff members, business mission, and anything else that will make a great candidate want to work for them instead of their competitor. [FYI – Here’s information that shows exactly how recruiters use Employment Branding to tell good company stories.]

However, just like someone who has been out of the dating scene for many years, many companies will stumble, bumble, and ultimately fumble their initial Employment Branding efforts. For example, this article cites a study that shows how managers who think the best way to attract younger talent is to install ping pong tables is going to fail miserably.

Most Companies Don’t Know How To Play Up Their Hotness

Recruiters are trained to evaluate candidates, not build marketing plans to attract them. Which means, many companies will be slow to develop and promote the stories they need to tell on social media to impress top talent. This is a big concern in the recruiting industry. In fact, studies show that 70 percent of companies plan to invest in Employment Branding so they can quickly figure out what’s most attractive about them as employers. The sooner they do, the sooner they can get in the game and flirt with talent. [Here’s a slidedeck that outlines global talent trends for recruiting in 2015.]

Unfortunately, Flirty May Turn Dirty (Talent Beware!)

When it comes to marketing, we all know some companies play dirty. They make promise they can’t keep. They make claims that are untrue. They tell lies in order to acquire customers. When it comes to recruiting and the use of Employment Branding, we can expect the same. Some companies will invest in elaborate promotional strategies that will make them seem hot, only for new hires to realize quickly it was a scam. Just look at the comments in this article about UPS’s latest holiday video’s Employment Branding potential and you’ll see some people chime in with their version of a reality check. Job seekers do need to be careful. If a company sounds too good to be true, do your homework. Even a company as great as Google may not be the right employer for you. This article shows why…

Get Ready For Some Smokin’ Hot Employer Stories In 2015!

I can’t wait to see what companies share about themselves in 2015 in order to woo top talent. Google, Zappos, Amazon, and Facebook aren’t the only hot employers on our planet. They’re just the ones that embraced Employment Branding when others didn’t. But soon, we’ll be seeing companies of all shapes and sizes strutting their stuff in hopes of catching our eyes. It’s going to be a great year!

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. J.T. O’Donnell shares her thoughts as part of LinkedIn’s Influencer series, “Big Ideas 2015” in which the brightest minds in business blog on LinkedIn about their predictions on ideas and trends that will shape 2015. LinkedIn Editor Amy Chen provides an overview of the 70+ Influencers that tackled this subject as part of the package. Follow J.T. O’Donnell and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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