5 Great Team-Building Lessons From Military Veterans Who Became Successful Entrepreneurs

It shouldn’t surprise you that some of the top entrepreneurs in the U.S. are military veterans. As the daughter of an Air Force veteran, I heard about hard-earned leadership skills every day growing up. I’ve spoken to plenty of other veterans–many of whom have become CEOs. No matter the advice they give, it often has the same theme: Build strong teams.

A recent SBA study found that military service exhibits one of the largest marginal effects on self-employment, and veterans are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans.

Before I dive in to the best advice on building teams, I’d like to thank my Dad, our men and women in military service, and the military spouses who support them. For veterans and military spouses looking to start or grow a business, check out these resources from the National Association of Veteran-Serving Organizations, veteran entrepreneur network Bunker Labs, and the resources we keep within our company at  Alice.

For the rest of us civilians, in honor of Veterans Day, I’ve put together the top five tips that resonated with me the most about building strong teams:

1. Focus on the way you treat your employees.

“The way management treats associates is exactly how the associates will treat the customers.”–Sam Walton, founder, Walmart

The late great founder of Walmart and former Army intelligence officer Sam Walton had extreme focus on his frontline employees. We must learn from him and model kindness, leadership and accountability to both our customers and employees.

Think about what behavior motivates you and gives you a feeling of being fulfilled and use that same leadership with your own employees. I am most motivated by being around our customers. When I have been in the office too long, I very quickly go hang out and learn the needs of entrepreneurs and am inspired within minutes. 

2. Don’t request anything you wouldn’t be able to do yourself.

“Be part of your own team. My team has to tell me what they’ve done in the last 90 days that was impactful, and what value they hope to bring to the organization over the next 90 days. I then have to turn around and tell them the same thing.”–Phyllis Newhouse, CEO, Xtreme Solutions

Phyllis Newhouse, the CEO of Xtreme Solutions and retired Army non-commissioned officer (and service-disabled veteran) shared this about her team. She’s clear that she would not ask her team to do something she is not willing to do herself–nor should any of us as leaders.

When going through our first round of funding at HelloAlice.com, we celebrated the wins. I was also open about my disappointment through every “no.” It took the mystery out of our financing and showed a transparency and openness to failure. These days, we share our wins and failures as a team every Friday morning.

3. Take the time to explain objectives and the big picture. 

In the Navy I used to assume people would do what you say because of rank and hierarchy. I quickly learned that if you take the time to explain the bigger picture and purpose of an objective it helps motivate individuals to go above and beyond. Now even in the very fast pace world of technology, I believe you have to go slow to go fast.” –Mike Rosenbaum, EVP of Product, Salesforce 

Mike Rosenbaum is quick to be transparent about what he quickly learned as a Lieutenant in the Navy. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and having served in the Submarine USS Nevada Gold, he was clear that rank and leadership are two different things. He has carried over a management style to ensure everyone understands how they fit into the big picture.

In your business, even if you are moving at top speeds, take the time to sit with employees and answer questions of how they contribute to your large goals. I have made the mistake to assume individuals understand where we are heading. We now come together in all staff quarter reviews to ensure we are heading together towards a common vision. 

4. Showcase your motivation and passion.

“Businesses need good people, and that’s really the secret to FedEx. The virtues of good leadership trickle down, The Marine Corps teaches you how you motivate people, even to the point of giving their lives in battle.”–Fred Smith, founder, FedEx

Fred Smith shared this wisdom as the founder of FedEx and a Marine Corps officer that served two tours in Vietnam. It’s important that leadership provides passion for employees.

The older I get, the more I value loyalty as much as productivity. People generally aren’t loyal to companies–they’re loyal to their teammates. Like the Marines, you need to establish a culture of hard work from the beginning. Your team wants to help each other as much, if not more than, the boss.

5. Recruit a lot and always be hiring.

“Spend 30 percent of your time recruiting.  If you have the right people, he says, business model and product will follow.”–Adam Neumann, founder, WeWork

Born in Israel, Adam Neumann served as a Navy officer there for five years before moving to the U.S. and founding WeWork. Recruiting is notoriously one of the hardest parts of being a founder, and per Neumann’s suggestion, it should be one of your most critical focus areas. 

I’m always hiring, even when I have no positions open. If you see someone with talent you admire, start building a relationship with them–even before a job description becomes available.

I regularly see ex-military founders showcasing all of these skills–for example, I have my eye on the veteran entrepreneurs at startups like Jdog Junk Removal, Manifold Technology, Trumbull Unmanned, and re:3D. As for my dad, he believes in strong teams so much that he still works with some of the same employees who started with him in 1982.  He says that loyalty, kindness, and discipline are the keys. I’m so proud of him and the men and women who serve. Go team!

How a TV Host’s Retweet Could Change Twitter

When MSNBC host Joy Reid saw a tweet decrying a racist incident this summer, she responded like many other people—she retweeted it.

The tweet in question came from an activist and showed a photo of a woman in a Make America Great Again cap appearing to berate a 14-year-old Latino boy. A caption implied she shouted “dirty Mexican” and “You are going to be the first deported,” and urged Twitter users to “spread this far and wide” because “this woman needs to be put on blast.”

Unfortunately for Reid, whose retweet broadcast the message to her 1.2 million followers, the tweet was wrong. The woman in the image, Roslyn La Liberte of Southern California, had said nothing of the sort.

The teenager in the picture later explained he and La Liberte had a civil conversation, and said the pair even hugged.

Five days after the retweet, Reid acknowledged the mistake by tweeting a news story that described what really happened:

By then, however, La Liberte had hundreds of vitriolic emails, which called her vile names and threatened to assault her. She also received menacing voicemails, including one from a man who shouted, “I will smack you upside your f**king head you stupid f***ing c**t.”

Sadly, this is all too common on Twitter: Someone posts a false and inflammatory tale, others retweet it, and an online mob descends on the unlucky target. This episode stands out, however, because La Liberte is suing Reid in federal court for allegedly defaming her with the retweet.

La Liberte may have a case. While judges have been inclined to treat inflammatory tweets (including those of Donald Trump) as opinion or hyperbole—types of speech that don’t count as defamation—that doesn’t mean you can’t libel someone on Twitter. Falsely portraying someone as a vicious racist could certainly qualify.

Reid, of course, didn’t do that. Instead, she just used Twitter’s retweet button to repeat what someone else said. The law, however, might not see a difference between tweeting and retweeting.

Lawyer Ed Klaris, who runs a media and intellectual property firm in New York, doesn’t see a distinction.

“The traditional rules of re-publication apply. You as a tweeter are very much a publisher,” says Klaris. He likens the situation to a newspaper that prints a letter to the editor that contains false and defamatory information. In such a case, the target of the letter can sue both the letter writer and the newspaper.

Or, in the context of Twitter, La Liberte can sue the author of the tweet as well as Reid for republishing it via her retweet. Klaris isn’t the only one who sees it this way; a recent Hollywood Reporter story cites lawyers who think Reid will lose the case.

If a judge agrees with this interpretation, the consequences could be enormous. A victory for La Liberte would create a new danger not only for journalists, but for many other Twitter users who inadvertently retweet false information from time to time.

Courts Silent on Retweets

La Liberte’s lawsuit doesn’t specify how much money she’s seeking over Reid’s tweet, but does state the claim is worth at least $75,000.

There’s no guarantee La Liberte will prevail, of course. In response to a request for comment, her lawyers sent a document to Fortune, which argues the case should be thrown out, and that La Liberte should pay damages for filing a frivolous lawsuit.

This isn’t just wishful thinking. Reid’s lawyers are relying on a well-known law known as the Communications Decency Act (CDA). The law, broadly speaking, says “no provider or user of an interactive computer service” can be held responsible for what other people say on an Internet platform.

Many Internet entrepreneurs have relied on the CDA as a legal foundation for their business. For instance, the law ensures Facebook isn’t responsible for criminal threats posted by its users, or that a blog owner isn’t liable for defamatory rants posted by a trollish commenter.

How the law applies to retweets is unclear, however. Even though Twitter’s retweet button has been around since 2009, no court has decided whether those who retweet defamatory claims are shielded by the Communications Decency Act.

Professor Eric Goldman, who has written extensively about the law, says retweets are clearly covered.

“It’s not even a hard case. Retweeting is just a different technical way of sharing third party content with a broader audience,” he said, citing a pair of cases involving email. In those cases, courts sided with defendants who sent or forwarded defamatory content written by a third person.

Free speech scholar Eugene Volokh, who recently published a blog post on the email cases, shares Goldman’s view. In an interview with Fortune, he added that Reid’s case is strengthened by the fact her retweet didn’t include additional comment endorsing the opinions in the tweet.

Meanwhile, the New York lawyer Klaris disagrees that a judge will let Reid use the CDA as a shield. He argues that allowing the law to protect anyone who retweets a false statement is too broad a reading, and would make the traditional republication rule meaningless.

“Taken to its logical extreme, according to the defendant’s argument, a “user” (i.e. reader) of Fortune.com could cut an entire defamatory article and paste it to her own site without changing it and not be liable for defamation,” he said. “That outcome does not make sense.”

A Bigger Role for Twitter?

As it stands, the Reid case is troubling because either outcome will produce an unsatisfactory result. If La Liberte wins, millions of people will face legal jeopardy for the commonplace act of sharing what they see on social media—a situation that would chill free speech. But if Reid wins, there is little to dissuade people from contributing to online mob behavior of the sort that dragged La Liberte through the mud.

This raises the question of whether Twitter and other online platforms should do more to stop false and defamatory information from going viral in the first place. One idea for addressing the problem—incidentally, suggested by a former Fortune editor—is a warning system would let those in Reid’s situation respond more promptly by broadcasting a correction (as Reid did but only five days later), and by removing the original retweet or shared post from their social media feeds.

This wouldn’t stop people from sharing defamatory content altogether (it’s just too easy when all it takes is clicking “retweet” or “share”) but it would certainly mitigate the problem. But would the social media companies even consider offering such a notification tool?

“This is an ongoing legal issue. We don’t have a statement to share,” said a Twitter spokesperson in response to a question about Twitter’s obligations in the Reid case.

The response is not surprising. Social media platforms have long seen policing user posts as a political minefield, and are wary of becoming arbitrators in deciding what is defamatory or fake news.

In this vacuum of authority, Klaris predicts courts may become more willing to interpret the CDA in a way that curtails the law’s protection. He acknowledged, however, that they have declined to do so in the past and that it may be a matter for Congress.

Volokh, the free speech scholar, pointed to legal precedents establishing a broad scope for the law, and says any changes should come from lawmakers, not the courts.

The White House's Fake-News Shenanigans Top This Week's Internet News Roundup

Another week, another seven days so full of events that it’s difficult to remember all that’s happened. That’s especially true on a week that saw another mass shooting, as if everyone needed a reminder of what that felt like. I mean, we were just a week out from the last one, so perhaps some people had forgotten. Elsewhere, California is on fire again, Scotland has made LGBTQ education compulsory and someone’s getting free soup. Of course, this week was dominated by the midterm elections, which took place on Tuesday, but lingers like a cold; results and hot takes are still coming in as I write this, despite everything else that happened this week to steal the attention of the internet. What kinds of everything else? We’re glad you asked!

Don’t Look Back In Anger

What Happened: Normally, it’s only the President of the United States who prematurely ages during his White House tenure—but according to this week’s favorite meme, it’s happened to all of us.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media reports

What Really Happened: It was fair to say that a lot of people had a lot of anxiety about this week’s midterm elections. They were, after all, being touted as the most important in a generation and a potential rebuke to President Trump, even though he personally wasn’t on the ballot and refused to take responsibility for any Republican losses, even though many GOP House members fretted that he had hijacked the campaign. No surprise, then, that people took to Twitter prior to Election Day to vent their anxiety.

As the meme got picked up by the media, at least one person took a different approach to the meme, just to emphasize that the election hadn’t actually happened yet.

Let’s be honest: as a motivator, this is far, far better than the ensuing deluge of “I Voted” sticker selfies across social media.

The Takeaway: At least Concerned Voter and celebrity Mark Ruffalo impersonator Mark Ruffalo joined in—because aren’t we all Bruce Banner these days?

The End Of The Tour

What Happened: In his first public appearance after the midterms, President Trump seemed like he wanted to come across as unbothered—but the reality was just the opposite.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media reports

What Really Happened: So, yes; the midterm elections happened, and even if people debated the reality of theBlue Wave,” Democrats took control of the House for the first time in eight years, giving them the chance to investigate his dealings (and his taxes) and curb his power. Many people wondered just how he’d react, but the president’s initial response to the midterms was certainly not what people expected:

Pressing ahead with his weird victory lap, he announced a press conference for the next morning:

How did it go? Probably not the way he imagined.

The surreal, combative, disaster was obviously much discussed across the media, because of course it was; it was a chance to watch the President live down to everyone’s worst expectations across an almost unbelievable 87 minutes. All that was missing was someone being fired by proxy from the White House — but, wait, we’ll get there soon enough.

The Takeaway: What should be the takeaway from this meltdown? Let’s go with the one that perfectly summarizes the problem, as President Trump would no doubt be secretly delighted by it.

Me Or Your Lyin’ Eyes

What Happened: The Trump Administration takes its war on the press to the next level after a particularly intense confrontation gets the literal fake-news treatment.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media reports

What Really Happened: By Thursday, it had become obvious that an exchange between the President and CNN reporter Jim Acosta during the previous day’s press conference had turned into something far bigger than the traditional Presidential press bullying. The problem—well, a problem—began as the right-wing Twitterverse sought to use the moment to bring down Acosta:

Did it work? Better than anyone could have anticipated. (“Better” in a very specific context, of course.)

Yes, the White House pulled Acosta’s press credentials after the press conference, which is a totally normal thing to do, yes, definitely. Hey, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, what gives?

In other words, Sanders was repeating the right-wing version of events, which is problematic for reasons we’re about to get to. Before that, though, CNN responded quickly:

The network wasn’t the only organization releasing a statement:

Here’s the thing, though; Jim Acosta didn’t actually do what he was accused of by Sanders and the White House, as he pointed out:

It doesn’t have to rely on his word, though; the press conference was broadcast live, including the event (mis-)described by Sanders; but that didn’t stop Sanders from tweeting out a doctored video in support of her argument:

Yes, that’s right; the White House press secretary was sharing a doctored video to argue her case. Funny story — it was actually the same video that had been posted by an InfoWars contributor earlier that evening:

People noticed the connection.

Here’s CNN’s VP of Communications and Digital Partnerships on the release:

Oh, and here’s a comparison between the raw footage and the version posted by—once again—the White House press secretary:

The dude from InfoWars claimed that he hadn’t touched the video:

Well, surely he’s telling the truth, right?

At time of writing, reporters are condemning the White House’s move, and others are making the argument that this isn’t a fight the President should have. You’d think that that someone so stuck in the past as President Trump would remember the saying about never arguing with people who buy ink by the barrel

The Takeaway: This is just the beginning of a bigger fight—and one that’s likely going to happen sooner rather than later.

Wave Hello, Say Goodbye

What Happened: If no one expects the Spanish Inquisition, and no one expected the president to fire his attorney general immediately after the midterm elections, does that mean that Jeff Sessions was a victim of the Spanish Inquisition? Asking for a friend who may or may not be fired A.G. Jeff Sessions.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media reports

What Really Happened: As if this week wasn’t seem busy enough with everything happening all at once, a tidbit of news broke just an hour or so after the Wednesday press conference, potentially explaining why the President was acting so testy. (As if the midterms wouldn’t have been explanation enough.)

…Wait. What? But, yes, the Attorney General had resigned, when no one was expecting it.

Please note the opening sentence of that letter, because it’s important:

Yes, the resignation came at the President’s request, which is to say, Jeff Sessions was fired, which is a big deal. As should be expected, the internet was sad to see him go:

But people didn’t get too carried away with the upside of what was unfolding, because once again, the President firing his Attorney General when he’s under investigation by the authorities overseen by that Attorney General is a big deal:

The President announced his replacement via Twitter, because of course he did:

As if we needed any more proof that the government is a well-oiled machine these days, Twitter was also how people at the Department of Justice found out about Sessions’ resignation, it was swiftly announced:

Who is this Matthew Whitaker, anyway?

…Oh. As it turned out, Whitaker was a fascinating choice for a replacement, based on everything that came out about him in a surprisingly brief period:

He is almost definitely not going to recuse himself. But then again, he may not have the position for that long. In the face of widespread disbelief at his hiring, Trump stood behind his choice in traditional fashion on Friday:

The Takeaway: Chalk another White House departure up for the man famous for firing peo — oh, apparently not.

I’ve Fallen, But I Can Totally Get Up and Mete Out Justice

What Happened: The Notorious RBG had a bad week, but the internet was there for her with offers of anything and everything she needed, from emotional support to literal body parts.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media reports

What Really Happened: Bad news for anyone who loves Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg arrived late this week:

RBG’s fall was obviously big news, with multiple outlets covering the story, and social media was equally excited about it. Maybe “excited” wasn’t the right word to use, though; some were people looking to reassure others that there was no reason to panic, after all.

Others were simply preparing for whatever it takes to keep Ginsburg in good health, if not all-out action:

And then there was the question of what actually happened to consider…

Of course, everyone here at While You Were Offline Towers sends all the best to the Notorious one, as well as good wishes for a speedy recovery. We need you out there, Justice Ginsburg. Have you seen what else is happening?

The Takeaway: But did anyone consider the possibility that RBG’s injuries were self-inflicted and done for a very particular reason?


More Great WIRED Stories

A New Study Ranked All 50 States By How Fat Their People Are, and the Results are Eye-Opening

A new study ranks all 50 states plus the District of Columbia by how fat their residents are. And there are some real surprises.

Across the United States, a staggering 70 percent of people are either overweight or obese. It’s part of what drives the $66 billion weight loss industry, which is always a good target for entrepreneurs.

But it also adds $200 billion a year to our nation’s health costs. 

So, this state ranking combines 25 different data points on each state’s population to help us figure out which states have the biggest problems. Each state was then assigned a combined score from 1 (best) to 100 (worst). The data included things like:

  • percentage of residents (adults and children) who are overweight or obese;
  • percentage of residents who are physically active (or not);
  • percentage of adults with high cholesterol;
  • percentage of adults with healthy diets (and who eat at least 1 serving of fruits and vegetables each day).

Obviously, the mere fact that someone lives in a supposedly fit or fat state doesn’t mean he or she personally is overweight or not. Heck, I live in the 11th fittest state according to this, and I’m well aware I could lose a few pounds.

But the ranking does challenge some of the stereotypes about where the healthiest people might live in the country. Here’s the list, which was put together by WalletHub. We’ll do this backwards, going from worst to first, and discussing the states briefly in tiers.

Tier V: The fattest states

All of the worst states on this list were in the South, and the absolute worst state in terms of fatness ranking was Mississippi, with a score of 72.97 out of a possible 100.

Mississippi also had the worst ranking in the country in terms of obesity and overweight prevalence. And in another study, Mississippi workers also reportedly got the least exercise of anyone in the country. The full bottom tier looks like this:

51.    Mississippi    72.97 out of 100 (1 is best; 100 is worst)
50.    West Virginia    70.14    
49.    Arkansas    69.69
48.    Kentucky    67.71
47.    Tennessee    67.67
46.    Louisiana    66.89
45.    Alabama        64.56
44.    South Carolina    63.64
43.    Oklahoma    63.09
42.    Texas        62.45

Tier IV

The second to the bottom tier largely consists of states in the so-called Rust Belt.  

41.    Indiana        62.44
40.    Ohio        62.39
39.    Delaware    62.27
38.    Georgia        61.46
37.    Michigan    61.30
36.    Missouri    59.70
35.    North Carolina    59.17
34.    Iowa        58.77
33.    Maine        58.36
32.    Kansas        58.30

Tier III

It’s a little more difficult to say exactly what states like Rhode Island, Florida and Alaska have in common. However, these are largely states with a larger percentage of senior citizen residents, which could be a factor.

31.    Wisconsin    57.87
30.    Rhode Island    57.86
29.    Nebraska    57.24
28.    Maryland    57.12
27.    Pennsylvania    56.83
26     Wyoming        56.72
25.    North Dakota    56.46
24.    Illinois    56.15
23.    Florida        56.12
22.    Alaska        55.90

Tier II

If you were to look at the list of states where people get the most exercise at work, you’d see that the top 20 in each list are almost identical. (The order is different, but the grouping is very close.) Seems like that could be a big clue.
21.    Virginia    55.83
20.    New Mexico    55.49
19.    South Dakota    55.15
18.    Washington    55.10
17.    New Hampshire    55.10
16.    Arizona        54.68
15.    New York    53.75
14.    Minnesota    53.64
13.    Nevada        53.07
12.    Idaho        52.52

Tier I

Here are the top 10 states (plus D.C.), with the most fit residents. Interestingly, they’re also largely (but not exclusively) urban states, where you’d think people have limited outdoor space and are more likely to work long, stressful, sedentary jobs.

But, apparently the people in metro areas around places like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. are the ones who make time to exercise, eat right, and watch their weight.

And to the folks of Colorado, who topped both this list and the exercise at work list, keep up the good work. 

11.    New Jersey    52.40
10.    Oregon        52.13    
9.    Vermont        52.07
8.    Connecticut    51.80
7.    Montana        50.83
6.    California    49.97
5.    Washington, DC    49.49
4.    Massachusetts    48.09
3.    Hawaii        46.97
2.    Utah        44.41
1.    Colorado    44.35 

An A.I. Just Outperformed 20 Top Lawyers (and the Lawyers Were Happy)

The set up of the study was an old-fashioned head-to-head matchup. Twenty of the country’s top corporate lawyers were pitted against a specialized A.I. called the the LawGeex AI in a battle to see who could spot the flaws in five Non-Disclosure Agreements with the greatest speed and accuracy. The issues with the common documents were previously established by an independent team of expers, including law professors from Duke, UCLA, and a senior partner from a top corporate law firm.

So who won this epic (if nerdy) battle of man versus machine? Sorry human fans, it was the bots.

The LawGeex AI achieved “an average 94 percent accuracy rate, higher than the lawyers who achieved an average rate of 85 percent. It took the lawyers an average of 92 minutes to complete the NDA issue spotting, compared to 26 seconds for the LawGeex AI,” reports Hacker Noon.

That isn’t even close.

Should we all panic now?

At first glimpse these results (and other recent feats of successful robo-lawyering) sound like pretty terrible news for lawyers specifically and knowledge workers generally. The study seems to back up predictions from consultancy McKinsey that 22 percent of lawyers’ work will be taken over by robots in the coming years.

But when Hacker Noon reached out to the vanquished lawyers to get their feelings about their defeat, they responses they got back were surprisingly upbeat. In fact, some of the legal hot shots sounded downright thrilled to be bested by the bot. Here’s a sampling of their comments:

  • “[A.I.] can really help lawyers sift through these documents, and cut down on the sometimes-deliberate verbosity of these documents which can allow one party to mask core issues.” – Zakir Mir

  • “I think this would help clients in getting better pricing and allow lawyers to focus on more complex projects.” – Samantha Javier

  • “Participating in this experiment really opened my eyes to how ridiculous it is for attorneys to spend their time (as well as their clients’ money) creating or reviewing documents like NDAs which are so fundamentally similar to one another. Having a tool that could automate this process would free up skilled attorneys to spend their time on higher-level tasks.”  – Grant Gulovsen

  • “As a chess player and attorney I will take from Grandmaster Vishy Anand and say the future of law is ‘human and computer’… Either working alone is inferior to the combination of both. I view AI and technology as exciting new tools that would allow for such drudgework to be done faster and more efficiently.” – Justin Brown

  • “AI has huge potential in reducing time on standard contract reviews and making legal advice accessible and affordable for all.” – Hua Wang

In other words, McKinsey is right. Robots are poised to take significant parts of lawyers’ jobs off their plates. But the twist is, lawyers can’t wait to hand this work off to an A.I. 

The robots are coming for the worst parts of your job.

These responses highlight a problem with much of the commentary on A.I. disruption of existing jobs. Yes, robots are going to change things considerably in a lot of industries, and that will be a wrenching transition for some workers. Questions also remain about how to divvy up the spoils of the coming A.I. revolution. These are undeniably big challenges.

If a computer can accomplish the repetitive, soul-sucking parts of many professions that will free up human talent to work on more complex and creative problems. That might mean coasting through a mindless gig to make ends meet will be harder in the future, but if that’s not your aim, the rise of the robots very well may make your workday a lot more fulfilling and fun.

There Are 4 Innovation Personalities. Which One Are You?

Here is a personality test for leaders: those who create products, services, and businesses, those who manage teams big and small, and those who have to be agile thinkers to face complex challenges. Read through the four groups below–Revolutionary, Evolutionary, Traditional, and Reactionary–and see where you fit in as a leader. Then think about your team. And then your organization. Where do they fit in too? And how can you collectively achieve the change and innovation needed? 

I have personally a soft spot for Revolutionaries, because dedication to innovation is thrilling, makes you feel like you’re living at the cutting edge and serving a bigger purpose. I have also learned how quickly scales can change and top organizations and their leaders can get burnt out and retreat to the safety of incremental change. Inversely, Evolutionaries can become Revolutionaries; and Naysayers can become the best advocates for disruption once they see the value of being a Revolutionary. 

Being at the service of people, solving problems for others, making someone’s life better, more joyful or easier–which is what innovation is about–is not a talent that only a few can attain. Neither is it a static skill that, once acquired, stays with you. It is an organic set of skills, tools, and processes you decide to have, practice and keep. In other words, it is inclusive and accessible if you know where you are now and where you want to be in the future, which is where this quiz comes in handy. 

What is your current innovation personality? What personality do you aspire to be?

Revolutionary

Different sources call you different things–A Reinventor, Disruptor, Provocateur, Innovator. You revolutionize the way something is done. You are a design thinker. In other words, you think like a designer. Positive, open-minded and curious, you are energized by new ideas. You see change as an opportunity, not as a challenge. You use design tools and an iterative process to solve problems. Getting close to your customer is fundamental to your thinking. Only then can you make sure you ask the right questions. To that end, you use co-design with customers.   Journey mapping helps you to uncover your hidden customer needs, and fast prototyping allows you to experiment with solutions. You are not afraid of constraints and know how to use them to your advantage.

“The Reinventors, making up 27 percent of the total, are the standouts. They report that they outperformed their peers in both revenue growth and profitability over the past three years, and led as well in innovation.” IBM Global CEO study on Digital Reinvention

Synonyms: Reinventor, Disruptor, Provocateur, Innovator.

Evolutionary

You are a change agent of the cautious kind. You are comfortable with incremental change. You might be a recovering Revolutionary who got hit by market forces and lost some of your courage and daring to be the first. Or you have the ambition to become a Revolutionary and are gathering experience. As David Peterson, Director of Leadership Development & Executive Coaching at Google would say, you need to sub-optimize and be less perfect to experiment more and adapt to constant change with more agility. You want to think like a designer, but you may not have the right tools and process. You need to get out of your comfort zone and get up close and intimate with your customers. Experimenting more, and more quickly, breaking internal silos to create cross-functional teams and co-designing with your customers to include them in ideation will push you to the Revolutionary group.

According to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a healthy dose of prudence is not bad for innovation. “Contrary to what many people think, successful innovators are more organized, cautious, and risk-averse than the general population.”

Synonyms: Practitioner (coined by IBM). Pragmatic.

Traditionalists

Your one dominant characteristic is that you feel like your solution is fine just the way it is. When asked if your users are happy, you will say “yes” but deep down you know you’ve grown farther and farther away from your customer. The good news is there are many ways to build empathy and get closer to them. Once you move away from a product-centric mindset to an experience-centered one, improving people’s lives will give you the courage to develop your own unique vision. Your previous successes may hold you back, but what got you here is not helping you get there (if you haven’t, read Marshall Goldsmith’s best-selling book, What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There). Having the vision, strategy and tools to recognize and capture the right opportunities will move you to the Evolutionary group. 

Synonyms: Conventional. Aspirational (coined by IBM).

Reactionary

You resist change and have a strong tendency to block new ideas. It is the fear of unknown which makes it easier for you to come up with why something will not work. You are the skeptic. Yet you know that agility and experimentation are key to how organizations are evolving. You will become a great convert to thinking like a designer if you can see its value–making you more agile, customer-centered and comfortable with experimenting. 

“Saboteurs. The people and groups who can obstruct or derail the process of searching, evaluating, and purchasing a product or a service.” Alex Osterwalder, Value Proposition Design

Synonyms: Blockers, Resistants, Naysayers, Saboteurs (coined by Alex Osterwalder). 

How did you do? Remember knowing who you are and who you aspire to be on the innovation scale is half the battle. The other half is actually practicing it on a daily basis. 

Your Employees Are Bored. Here's How to Change That

Leaders who are willing to delegate important and visible tasks give employees room to grow. As leaders’ trust in those employees grows, so, too, does employee confidence, and it becomes a self-fulfilling cycle of risk and reward. Leaders who empower their teams ensure employees are constantly learning and never bored.

Until they are. What happens when employees’ daily tasks bore them to tears? From cold calls to data entry, many routine tasks make employees feel creatively stifled. But leaders can ensure these workers don’t lose their enthusiasm. 

When boredom strikes

A psychiatrist from Cleveland Clinic proved that Cleveland Clinic proved that boredom is good for kids. By giving children downtime, their creative tendencies go into overdrive. This can lead to random, unstructured, and exciting ideas.

The same thinking should apply to employees, right? Not exactly. Michael Lopp, the vice president of Slack, says, “Bored people quit.” Research bears this out: The 2016 Udemy Workplace Boredom Study found that bored employees are twice as likely to leave, and employee morale and productivity take a hit when boredom sets in.

Lopp says, “The reality is that someone is going to tell you they’re bored quietly and when you least expect it. They’ll tell you halfway through your 1:1, and they won’t use the word bored. They’ll say something innocuous like, ‘…and I really don’t know what to do next,’ and you’re going to blow right by the most important thing they’ve said in a while.”

In my experience, the people who master tasks — and get bored — fastest are the most capable. They learn to quickly apply knowledge across areas and anticipate problems. One employee spent two years managing a project for me, and I could tell boredom was overtaking his excitement. I approached him with two new projects, and I have no doubt he would have left if I hadn’t thrown him a life preserver.

How to get beyond boredom

Leaders don’t have to lose employees to stagnation. Even if routine tasks have to get done, they don’t have to feel routine.

  1. Inject creative flexibility. If you’re handing off tasks like cold calling, employees don’t have to follow a template. That may make things more efficient, but that’s not necessarily most important when you’re working to keep a high performer. Give employees the latitude to pursue creative ways to carry out their tasks, or challenge them to test new methods. Experiments and risk can inject excitement.

    Jeff Winters, the CEO of Sapper Consulting, explained that things like cold calls and cold emails actually benefit from creativity. “When it comes to writing these emails, the key is that the focus isn’t from the perspective of a salesperson or marketing person. You have to approach it like someone who writes movies or TV shows or does improv — an entertainer perspective will win a lot more responses than a business perspective,” he says.

  2. Seek their expertise. While being an expert at their daily tasks can make employees feel competent, having their boss seek out their insights can supercharge that capable feeling. Employees don’t need to take over an entire project or absorb additional responsibilities to feel the impact, either: Just being asked can make a difference.

    I work with some talented people who are always giving and grateful when I ask for their help. They love to share their talents and experience to help the business move forward. In my experience, asking others to give their expertise fosters trust. It’s also a chance to be vulnerable and seek out answers from others.

  3. Create collaborative opportunities. If one employee’s bored, others probably are, too. One way to get them thinking outside their respective boxes is to have them work together. Gaining insight into how others think — and trying their hand at new tasks — can reinvigorate their love for their daily work and get them off the hamster wheel.

    One leader I spoke with had a developer gaining an interest in social media work. To dip her toe in, he had her work with his social media director on a campaign for a new release. Not only did the developer enjoy the work, but the director told him, “Getting some fresh ideas made my job a thousand times easier.”

Boredom creeps in when we least expect it — and we don’t notice until it’s too late. Keep an eye out for signs that employees are feeling more disinterested than empowered. If you can offer ways to flex their creative muscles or try something new, you might keep an employee — and discover some seriously valuable assets in the process.  

This Famous Airline Thought It Would Offer Veterans Special Pre-Boarding. The Reaction Was Shocking

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Some things are, though, universal, aren’t they?

That must be what the bosses at Virgin Australia thought when they offered veterans priority boarding.

But Australia isn’t necessarily like, say, America.

Frankly, nowhere is. 

When you’ve lived in different countries on different continents — guilty as charged — you garner a wider perspective on how people think and, just as importantly, the nuances that go into their feeling processes.

So, instead of a gloriously positive reaction, some veterans rather thought Virgin should take its offer and shove it back in the cargo hold it was stored in.

Oh, and “faux American bollocks.”

Instead, she suggested: “Spend more on suicide prevention and health support.”

Neil James, the head of the Australian Defence Association also suggested there were better ways to help. 

“There’s a fine line between embarrassing them and thanking them and, in some cases, where they’re suffering a psychological illness, effusively thanking them in public might not necessarily help them,” he said of veterans.

On Twitter, many piped up with similar feeling.

Sample, from John H. Esq.: “Jeez! Do veterans really want this type of peurile [sic] Americanised faux recognition of their service?”

The airline seemed so stunned by the reaction that its CEO John Borghetti issued this statement: 

Over the coming months, we will be working consultatively with community groups and our own team members who have served in defense to determine the best way forward.

In America, there’s considerable — and, some might say, superficial — support for veterans.

Indeed, our nation has many curious, vaguely militaristic and nationalistic habits that other nations find curious. Flag unfurlings and national anthem renditions before every single sporting event, for example.

In Australia, though, perhaps veterans want tangible benefits, rather than being used for marketing purposes.

Interestingly, one of Virgin’s rival airlines, Qantas says it has no intention of offering veterans priority boarding.

It offered this statement: 

We carry a lot of exceptional people every day, including veterans, police, paramedics, nurses, firefighters and others, and so we find it difficult to single out a particular group as part of the boarding process.

Doesn’t that seem wise?

Midterm Elections 2018: What the Election Results Mean for Big Tech

It may not have been the tsunami some expected, but the Democrat’s long-promised blue wave was enough to carry the party to a majority in the House of Representatives on Tuesday. The Senate, meanwhile, remained firmly in Republican hands.

With control of the House, Democrats will be able to fulfill their promise to be a check on the Trump administration these next two years. And yet, the power split in the two chambers of Congress could make it harder than it already was to pass new legislation—even legislation with bipartisan backing. For the tech industry, that’s both good news and bad news.

The good news: As House Democrats spar with the Republicans in the Senate, the last thing either party will want to do is hand the other side a win. That means that until 2020, it will be much more difficult for Big Tech’s critics on Capitol Hill to push through much-threatened regulations on the industry’s ads or its monopolistic business practices.

The bad news: There are some regulations that the industry desperately wants to pass, namely, a federal privacy bill that would preempt a much tougher bill in California, set to go into effect in 2020. Tech giants and industry groups like the Internet Association have been lobbying hard for a federal bill, and senators on both sides of the aisle have expressed support for some federal legislation. It’s unclear at this stage whether a Democratic House would let President Trump be the one to sign off on such a historic law.

The tech industry also faces a notably less cozy environment in the Senate after Tuesday night. Marsha Blackburn, for one, won her race in Tennessee. As a House representative, Blackburn battled tech giants at nearly every turn. Backed by the telecom industry, she opposed net neutrality protections and voted to overturn an Obama-era rule that would have required broadband providers to get people’s permission before selling their browsing data. On the campaign trail, she took every opportunity to criticize the tech industry for alleged liberal bias. That’s been a rallying cry in the House that Blackburn may well amplify in the Senate.

If she does, she’ll have a friend in Senator Ted Cruz. The Texas senator defended his seat against Democratic insurgent Beto O’Rourke, whose campaign was heavily financed by the tech industry. Like Blackburn, Cruz has seized on the opportunity to accuse tech giants of partisan censorship and recently skewered Google over its experiments in building a censored search engine for China.

Former Missouri attorney general Josh Hawley, meanwhile, will replace Democrat Claire McCaskill in the Senate. Hawley, a Republican, took a tough stance on tech as attorney general, opening separate investigations into Google, Facebook, Uber, and Equifax over anti-trust and data privacy issues.

Tuesday’s race also alters the dynamics of the congressional committees tasked with holding these companies accountable. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida lost his re-election to governor Rick Scott on Tuesday. That means Nelson’s role as ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee will likely fall to someone like Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar or Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal, both of whom have voted to crack down on the tech industry.

But the biggest shift will undoubtedly come in the House, where Democrats will take over control of the House Intelligence Committee, which was tasked with investigating foreign interference in American elections. Current ranking member Adam Schiff would likely take on the role of chair. He’s vowed to pick the Russia investigation back up. Given the continued covert actions taken by Russia on social media platforms, such a probe could land Facebook, Google, and Twitter back in the hot seat.

These new dynamics may not last long. In two years, Democrats will have to defend the House seats they won all over again. Thanks to a congressional map that’s been gerrymandered to favor Republicans in states across the country, that won’t be easy. On Tuesday, Democrats carved out a win by relying on states like Pennsylvania, where a badly gerrymandered map was recently replaced by a court-ordered one. And yet, the midterm elections also yielded wins for Democrats that could change the playing field in 2020 and beyond. A ballot initiative in Florida restored voting rights to more than 1 million former felons, who will now be eligible to vote in 2020. And anti-gerrymandering proposals passed in Colorado, Michigan, and Missouri, which would take redistricting power away from a single party and scuttle the maps all over again after 2020.

By the early hours of Wednesday morning, both Democrats and Republicans were claiming a victory. Time will tell if tech’s most powerful companies can do the same.


More Election Coverage from WIRED

U.S. regulator demands companies take action to halt 'robocalls'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Monday wrote the chief executives of major telephone service providers and other companies, demanding they launch a system no later than 2019 to combat billions of “robocalls” and other nuisance calls received monthly by American consumers.

FILE PHOTO – Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Ajit Pai speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, U.S., February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

In May, Pai called on companies to adopt an industry-developed “call authentication system” or standard for the cryptographic signing of telephone calls aimed at ending the use of illegitimate spoofed numbers from the telephone system. Monday’s letters seek answers by Nov. 19 on the status of those efforts.

The letters went to 13 companies including AT&T Inc (T.N), Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N), T-Mobile US Inc (TMUS.O), Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O), Cox Communications Inc, Sprint Corp (S.N), CenturyLink Inc (CTL.N), Charter Communications Inc (CHTR.O), Bandwith Inc (BAND.O) and others.

Pai’s letters raised concerns about some companies current efforts including Sprint, CenturyLink, Charter, Vonage, Telephone and Data Systems Inc (TDS.N) and its U.S. Celullar Corp (USM.N) unit and Frontier Communications Corp (FTR.O). The letters to those firms said they do “not yet have concrete plans to implement a robust call authentication framework,” citing FCC staff.

The authentication framework “digitally validates the handoff of phone calls passing through the complex web of networks, allowing the phone company of the consumer receiving the call to verify that a call is from the person supposedly making it,” the FCC said.

YouMail, a company that blocks robocalls and tracks them, estimated there were 5.1 billion unwanted calls last month, up from 3.4 billon in April.

The FCC has taken a number of actions to try to deter robocalls or automated, prerecorded calls that regulators have labeled a “scourge.”

“We need call authentication to become a reality — it’s the best way to ensure that consumers can answer their phones with confidence. By this time next year, I expect that consumers will begin to see this on their phones,” Pai said.

“I am calling on those falling behind to catch up … If it does not appear that this system is on track to get up and running next year, then we will take action to make sure that it does.”

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, earlier this year called on the FCC to set a deadline and noted “Canada went ahead and set a 2019 deadline to put this technology in place. We should be doing the same as our neighbors to the north.”

Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Dan Grebler and Tom Brown

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