Category Archives: Business

Entrepreneur is Artist of Life

Who are you and what’s your business?

I am Grace Kraaijvanger, founder of The Hivery, a creative and collaborative coworking space designed to support women throughout all phases and stages of their professional lives. We offer programming and mentorship designed to cultivate meaningful personal and professional relationships, instill a greater sense of self-worth and foster professional confidence. Our mission: to unleash the unique potential of every woman.

What does the word “entrepreneur” mean to you?

Being an entrepreneur means to be an artist of life. To be willing to take big risks, because of the deep belief in creating things that matter. The passion for building, the determination to stick it out, the creativity to think differently and be willing to pivot, and the “blessed unrest” to express who you really are. Building a business is just like art — the only way to get there is to embrace the messy parts, show up consistently, and know that there is no other way for you to be who you are but to do what you do.

Related: Do Something That’s Never Been Done Before, According to This Marijuana Tech CEO

What was your toughest challenge and how did you overcome it?

After we’d been in business for a little over a year, and were finally starting to get our “sea legs” (i.e. profitable, with a validated concept), we lost our lease. We had sixty days to find a new home. I felt a big sense of responsibility to offer our community and members both a seamless experience and a beautiful new place to work. Real estate in the Bay Area is tough, so finding a new home in 60 days seemed impossible.

Among the first spaces that I looked at was a former dance studio with a skylight atrium in the shape of a honeycomb…a perfect home for The Hivery and the one we are in today. What initially felt like a business nightmare had a serendipitous happy ending that propelled our business into larger growth. You know what they say about ‘life giving you lemons’…our new Hivery HQ is definitely the lemonade.

What’s the problem you are attacking now?

The world needs more places devoted to helping women create, grow and lead. It is my intention to create “Hiveries” all over the world. Since launch, we have been a catalyst for women starting businesses, hiring each other, working together, investing in each other, going back to work, and experiencing positive transformation. To me, the most valuable part of The Hivery is the moment when a woman steps outside of herself and is met by a community of supportive women. This is where the real stuff happens.

Related: 22 Qualities That Make a Great Leader

What trait do you depend on most when making decisions and why is that useful for you? 

The biggest thing that being an entrepreneur has taught me is that we often know the answer all along, we’re just not ready to accept it yet. So often I’ve chosen a path or made a decision and then subsequently dissected it, taken it apart, changed tack, and then come full-circle right back to the original idea. I chalk that up to the creative process. We have an idea, we express it, we reject it, we hold it up to the light, and then we embrace it again. Entrepreneurial decision-making is like the exhilarating and agonizing process of making art. In the end, it comes down to what’s in your deepest intuition. As I mature, I’m learning to trust it faster.

Related: Entrepreneurship Is All About the Fight

How has your leadership style evolved?

The first time someone called me a CEO, I looked around to see who they were talking about. I was creating my business with a ferocious passion, and making strategic decisions every day, but I hadn’t accepted that title. I’ve learned that I’m the best leader when I’m grounded and calm, making decisions from my gut, and not from being reactionary. I’ve become a better listener, and I’ve learned to roll with the flow. I no longer believe that I can plan or anticipate everything. I’ve learned to trust that when things don’t go according to plan, something that I never dreamed possible is waiting for me down that unexpected path.

Is there a particular quote or saying that you use as personal motivation? 

I believe in this quote by revolutionary modern dance choreographer Martha Graham so deeply that it’s a typographic design element in our atrium. I’ve read it thousands of times and feel that it holds all the truths:

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

Starting Outside the Silicon Valley May Be Difficult But Laying The Ground For Entrepreneurs Generation

In the new podcast Masters of Scale, LinkedIn co-founder and Greylock partner Reid Hoffman explores his philosophy on how to scale a business — and at, entrepreneurs are responding with their own ideas and experiences on our hub. This week, we’re discussing Hoffman’s theory: Silicon Valley has an inimitable blend of talent. No other region can match its collective capacity or wisdom for scaling, except maybe China. Listen to this week’s episode here.

There’s absolutely some truth to the idea that Silicon Valley is the best place on the planet to build and scale a business right now. Doing it elsewhere is without a doubt a risk, but it’s not as if it’s not happening, and happening with frequency.

After all, there are quite a few success stories of massive growth coming from various corners of the world. Spotify. Snap. Wix. And ahem, Fiverr.

Related: China’s Tech Scene is Poised to Explode. Here’s What U.S. Startups Need to Understand.

It starts with understanding what makes Silicon Valley so damn attractive today, and ends with a recognition of why it’s so worthwhile to build businesses elsewhere.

Location, location, location

There are a number of reasons for Silicon Valley’s dominance that are foundational ones. These are building blocks that, for the most part, can be recreated anywhere in the world.

  1. Great young talent. Whether it’s Stanford, Berkeley, San Jose State or Santa Clara, the Bay Area is home to a huge volume of diversified tech talent. The economies of scale impact everyone from developers to marketers and salespeople.
  2. A culture of accepting transplants. The Bay Area may be home to many, but it’s never been heavy on natives. As a region that has been growing since World War II, the Bay Area and Silicon Valley have been largely accepting of transplants and immigrants. That makes it an easy place to relocate from both a policy standpoint in California and from a cultural standpoint.
  3. Easy access to capital. As the birthplace of the venture capitalist, there’s quite a bit of access to the funds so many startups need to grow. According to the Martin Prosperity Institute, 25 percent of the world’s venture capital dollars are based in San Francisco and San Jose.
  4. An appetite (and governmental blind eye) for innovation.While Airbnb may have become embroiled in controversy and a ballot proposition in 2016, the company was able to use the Bay Area as a test bed for some time without any governmental handcuffs. As Uber and Lyft grew into global players with push back from taxi unions in places like New York and Washington, D.C., Silicon Valley had little to no issue with the ride hailing concept.
  5. High of 75, low of 55. It’s tough to beat the Bay Area’s weather, and while this may seem trivial, it’s an absolute draw for talented individuals all over the globe. San Jose has257 days of sunshine a year. Seattle? Just 152.

Related: Utah, the Next Silicon Valley?

Giving a man a fish or teaching him how to fish . . . with dynamite

However, there is one additional and substantial reason Silicon Valley continues to be number one in terms of scaling a business, and it’s something Reid Hoffman discusses in this week’s episode. There are simply more people in positions of leadership who have done it before. The idea of crazy, hyper growth is second nature in Silicon Valley, and the “muscles” needed to generate such growth are already developed in the region through the personalities and leaders that do business there.

The “PayPal Mafia” is a group that many of us in the tech community revere, but what are we really talking about? We’re talking about a group of smart people who built a company that had explosive growth. Those people then went on to form other companies in Silicon Valley, spreading their knowledge and experience. Those companies created a new class of entrepreneur, seasoned with previous scale-driven success. What each of them has done is truly impressive, but what’s worth noting is that much of that success has remained within Silicon Valley. Not a ton of those pioneers have left the friendly confines of the Bay Area, and it’s this generational “passing down” of experienced and skilled hyper-growth builders that many other areas lack.

Related: How Tech Entrepreneurs Can Excel Outside of Silicon Valley

The new kids on the block

While Silicon Valley is the best bet today, I’m confident that the next wave of Silicon Valleys are growing before our very eyes, and for those of us building those communities, the payoffs extend far beyond our current ventures.

Avenues to access capital are quickly expanding. New resources like crowdfunding as well as the influx of institutional investors into places like Israel are already bearing this point out and increasing the flow of money to other regions. Talent — a resource that’s always constrained due to the local supply — is far more accessible through a variety of means, including digitally. Not to mention the opportunity many governments have to adopt new regulations to spur innovation-driven immigration to enable greater numbers of talented individuals to enter an ecosystem.

Related: 3 Myths About Starting a Company in the Midwest

Israel is a good example of a place where one particular vertical has churned out successes in the form of cybersecurity. Supply of talent has been exceptionally strong, as has innovation. Successes like Checkpoint have fueled more businesses in that industry, and it’s created a pathway for others to find success. Success itself becomes cyclical, driving other variables like talent supply and funding. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As businesses like Spotify, Snap, Wix and Fiverr have sustained success, they will create new, experienced “masters of scale” in their regions of the world, which will drive the same cyclical returns in those ecosystems. This process is already underway, and for those of us who are engaging in this transformation, we’re creating ecosystems that will fuel entrepreneurship for generations to come, creating buzz, experience and enthusiasm that sit within the culture of a region, just like Silicon Valley today.

Hoffman is right. It’s not impossible to start a successful companyoutside Silicon Valley, it’s just damn hard. Not only is that changing, but the reward for taking that risk is much larger than any individual success. It’s the actions of pioneers, and as successes pile up, it will only become easier and easier.

Why More Executives Should Be Considered Being CHRO

If you’re a business leader looking for an opportunity to have real impact on your company — and position yourself for the top job — which career path is best? CFO? COO? CMO? What if we told you that the CHRO role might be the best job you could ever have, with real opportunity for reshaping an organization? That the CHRO role, although at first it may look career limiting, can have more impact than any other position reporting to the CEO?

That’s precisely what we found. We interviewed search professionals, CEOs, and CHROs with nontraditional backgrounds to find out what happens when business leaders outside of HR move into the role. We confirmed that CEOs are well aware of the importance of talent, rating finding the best human capital as a top challenge, but that business leaders without an HR background can be reluctant to take the CHRO role, because of their negative perception of HR, their fear that the role won’t have an impact, and their concerns about lacking necessary functional knowledge.

Lucia Luce Quinn is Chief People Officer at Forrester Research. Earlier in her career, she left a position as SVP of business development and emerging businesses to join Boston Scientific in a senior line job. Upon arriving, she flatly refused the CEO’s offer of the CHRO role. He had to ask her four more times, including once on a conference call with the whole executive team, before she finally relented.

Phil Johnston, an executive search leader at Spencer Stuart, confirms that Quinn’s initial reaction wasn’t unusual: “When a CEO asks a business leader to run HR, the most frequent response is ‘What did I do wrong?’ It’s not seen as a desirable role; it’s seen as punishment. Of course, they haven’t had a chance to think it through, but that’s the first reaction.”

Yet business leaders who took the CHRO role, including Quinn, report it is the most impactful role in their career, and many would not accept an organizational leadership position that didn’t come with the CHRO role.

And many CEOs we talked to, like Owen Mahoney of Nexon, agree that the CHRO is one of the most strategic roles someone could have: “Businesses grow or die based on the quality of their people, so the human resource executive role is arguably the most strategic in the company. If I weren’t the CEO now, I’d probably want to be the CHRO.”

According to those we interviewed, there are four reasons why “outsiders,” as opposed to those with a traditional HR background, succeed in the role:

Their focus on business results, not only people outcomes. Nontraditional CHROs see outcomes like engagement or retention as paths to business outcomes, while traditional HR might view such goals as ultimate outcomes. Jacqueline Reses, a former private equity investor who became Yahoo’s CHRO, said, “We should drive HR like a product organization that finds the most critical use cases of our customers and then builds products to solve those needs. We shouldn’t execute programs that don’t serve the business. A lot of HR professionals think in terms of the functions activities, such as, ‘We need to change the organization structure’ or ‘We need to run a training program’; I think in terms of the business outcome I want to get to, then figure out how I’m going to get there.”

Their role in pushing fellow leaders, not just supporting or serving them. Second, nontraditional CHROs see their role as pushing leaders, but they have often found that traditional HR thinks in term of partnering with or serving leaders. As Reses said, “I look at every leader and decide if they are right for the job. I push leaders. I drive them to higher performance.” When Quinn accepted the CHRO role at Boston Scientific, her HR organization planned to implement a program even though they knew it probably would not work. Why? Because organizational leaders wanted it. Quinn insisted that her HR team devise a program they believed would work, and she pushed organization leaders to adopt HR’s better alternative. If you would be the kind of CHRO who thinks in terms of driving success instead of supporting leaders, then you could have a huge impact across the organization.

Their desire to embrace opportunity, not only reduce risk. Third, nontraditional CHROs embrace risks to generate opportunity where traditional HR might exclusively focus on reducing risk. These leaders don’t just tolerate risk; they hunger for it, in the form of important challenges where risk comes with potential upside opportunity. Rick Jensen, who left a big job in marketing to become SVP, Chief Talent Officer at Intuit, recalled a lesson he learned in marketing: “Fall in love with the problem.” Traditional HR leaders might feel compelled to offer conservative solutions, rather than risk trying an unconventional approach to unknotting a problem.

Zabeen Hirji, CHRO at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), grew up in retail banking and operations management roles before moving into HR. She says she applies a little self-test: “If I’m not presenting ideas that get turned down by the top team, I know I am playing it too safe. My job is to push the envelope.” One recent example of taking on risk she could easily have avoided was setting up a company-wide online “jam” to involve employees in defining RBC’s purpose and resetting its values. The live event could have failed in many ways; the safe thing to do would have been to back off the project. However, Hirji’s eye was on the potential upside, so she went ahead with the jam. Employees responded enthusiastically (there were over 20,000 participants), but the lesson is not that she got a big win — it’s that she was willing to risk failing.

The personality that embraces risk is best illustrated by Reses. She changed industries from private equity investing to technology; she changed geographies by moving from New York to San Francisco; and she changed functions from M&A and investing to HR. Interestingly, Reses would argue that as an investor she was the ultimate HR lead, as she helped CEOs invest in the right resources and people to build a business. If you find that this kind of challenge fills you with excitement, then a cross-functional leap into HR could be a great career move.

Their application of diverse business skills to the role. Fourth, nontraditional CHROs approach HR with skills and frameworks that reflect a variety of business disciplines, while traditional HR leaders might rely too exclusively on function-specific HR disciplines. “I was surprised by how much I personally enjoyed running the HR function versus taking on a CFO role,” said Reses. “HR was a position where I had a view across the biggest challenges of everyone’s business — leadership issues and how to allocate people across teams. It was vehicle for changing the growth trajectory of the company.”

Quinn said, “I don’t love telling people I’m in HR, but I love leading HR. Many leaders experience HR as administrators who can be barriers rather than enablers. I discovered that HR doesn’t need to be like that, and as CHRO I use every skill I ever learned.”

Our interviews, not surprisingly, also suggest that transformational HR is not the sole province of nontraditional HR leaders. It can be achieved by those with traditional HR backgrounds, too, with the right view of results, relationships with fellow leaders, attitudes toward risk and opportunity, and diverse business skills.

HR, like all professions, requires specialized talent and knowledge. Nontraditional CHROs emphasized that their transformational role was only possible with the support of HR leaders with deep traditional knowledge and capability.

Often underutilized and overlooked as a lever for business impact, a shift into the CHRO role — done correctly — can be a great career move.

Americans Spend At Least $ 900,000 Per Month

An Australian millionaire sent the Internet into a tizzy earlier this year when heused avocado toast as a symbol of millennial irresponsibility and excess, saying that choices such as “buying smashed avocado for $19” were making it hard for young people to afford homes. While the nuances of the housing market and the life choices of millennials may be fodder for endless debate, new data fromSquare makes one thing clear: the avocado toast business is booming.

Square, a tech company that helps businesses process credit card payments, crunched data from sellers around the U.S. and found that Americans are spending nearly $900,000 per month on crusty bread topped with mashed green fruit. That’s a huge increase from what the company was seeing in 2014, when Square’s sellers were only moving $17,000 worth of avocado toast per month.

 Courtesy of Square 

Though that’s a drop in the urn compared to the amount people spend on coffee, for instance, the hard figure for how much Americans are spending on such toast is certainly much larger, given that the Square data does not include the many avocado-toast-offering restaurants and food trucks and fast-casual counters that are not using Square’s services. And the jump remains proof of how hot the commodity has become. The company says the increase in sales has far outpaced Square’s growth in sellers.

So what of millionaire Tim Gurner’s claim that millennials are spending $19 a pop for this green-and-creamy brunch fave? Based on data from hundreds of Square sellers, the company found the average cost to be $6.78, with the cheapest avocado toast going for $2 and the most expensive going for $18. Given that the Australian dollar is weaker than the U.S. dollar ($19 Australian = about $15 U.S.), Gurner was within Square’s range. The average price was highest in Los Angeles, at $8.50 a pop, and lowest in D.C., at a mere $4.

Avocado toast consumption levels in U.S. cities vary, as do creative local spins on the item, which Square sellers are hawking in varieties like grilled cheese avocado toast and avocado toast lobster rolls. Per Square, the highest consumption per capita is (predictably) in San Francisco, followed by Honolulu, Nashville and Portland, Ore.

Long before smashed avocados were raising haunches, the City by the Bay was grappling with another great debate over the price of browned bread. Tensions over inequality have risen in San Francisco in recent years, and in 2014 stakeholders zeroed in on the fact that people were purchasing $4 toast as evidence that one-percenters were fueling an affordability crisis.

Back then, the small business offering the $4 toast had options like whole-wheat-sesame-poppy bread with butter. These days, millennials can get an “avocado mash” on toast at the same spot for twice the price. But, as many pointed out in the wake of Gurner’s comment, it would take a lot of toast to make a real difference in one’s housing situation. In fact, a person would have to save the equivalent of 475 of those mashes just to afford one month’s rent on theaverage San Francisco apartment.

Google Hire Helps to Recruit Small Business communities

Google Hire is ready for business. The search giant launched Hire today (July 18), its new recruiting and job applicant management app. Designed to work with G Suite, Hire aims to help small and midsize businesses recruit top talent more effectively and efficiently.

“Hire makes it easy for you to identify talent, build strong candidate relationships and efficiently manage the interview process end-to-end,” said Berit Johnson, senior product manager for Google Cloud.

The service integrates with Gmail, Google Calendar and other G Suite apps, presumably making it easy to use and letting businesses access all candidate information and communications in one place. Hire should also help with logistics, such as scheduling interviews and collaborating with hiring managers. [See Related Story: Best Recruiting Software for Small Business]

Hire also aims to help businesses quickly come to hiring decisions, instead of wasting time and money by leaving positions open for long periods.

“According to a study by Bersin by Deloitte, it takes an average of 52 days to fill an open position and costs about $4,000 to interview, schedule and assess each candidate,” Johnson said. “At the end of the day, that adds up.”

As a central hub for the recruitment process, Hire will likely help businesses cut the hiring time with the following capabilities:

  • Keep a database of hundreds of candidates
  • Share candidate information, such as resumes, qualifications and notes
  • Track interview progress and where candidates are in the recruitment pipeline
  • Get feedback from interviewing team and discuss hiring decisions
  • Communicate with candidates using Gmail
  • Use Calendar to schedule meetings and add notes to meeting invitations, such as interview questions and candidates’ contact information
  • Analyze and visualize candidate and hiring data in Sheets
  • Sync data across G Suite

It also offers an intuitive user interface with a clean layout, making it easier to use and train staff compared to clunky recruitment software and apps. And because it’s designed for small businesses, it isn’t bloated with features small businesses don’t need.

Hire is now available for businesses that use G Suite and have fewer than 1,000 employees. The app can be used to recruit all types of positions, from part-time help to full-time and upper management positions. For more information and to try Hire, visit Businesses can also request a demo at

Google is not revolutionary in this new release. Hire joins a fairly big field of recruiting apps such as LinkedIn Recruiter, JazzHR and Zoho Recruit.

What do factory employees really think about automation in the workplace?

Despite popular perception, most U.S. workers aren’t worried about being replaced by a robot, new research finds.

The study from Randstad US revealed that more than three-quarters of employees aren’t scared by the prospects of an increased amount of automation in the workplace.

Many workers are actually embracing the influx of automation. The research shows that 30 percent of the employees surveyed think automation will make their jobs better. In addition, as long as they are being paid at least their same current salaries, more than half of U.S. employees are more than happy to be retrained to learn the skills needed to work in tandem with automation.

Linda Galipeau, CEO of Randstad North America, said the study’s results should come as good news for companies that are trying to implement more automation in order to spur on productivity and innovation.

“It is evident from our research that not only are workers not afraid of losing their jobs to automation, they are more than willing to retrain to leverage the efficiencies and benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in the workplace,” Galipeau said in a statement. “As we have known for quite some time, the success of organizations in the future will depend greatly on their ability to strike a balance between valuable human insight and interaction with technology.”

Despite the belief that automation will push many workers out of a job, the vast majority of executives disagree. Just 6 percent of the company leaders surveyed believe increasing automation will have a significant impact on workforce planning and shifting the talent needed. [Looking ahead? The job skills you’ll need in the future]

To ensure that their jobs don’t get replaced, Galipeau says employees need to make sure their skills complement the automation being put into place.

“It has become necessary for today’s employees and job seekers to continually cultivate, develop and update their skills to work successfully alongside AI and automation,” Galipeau said. “In conjunction with retraining and upskilling efforts, workers should focus on growing unique human skills that AI and robots are unable to replicate, such as strategic and abstract thinking, complex communications, creativity and leadership competencies.”

Many organizations are looking forward to seeing how increased automation can improve their operations. Nearly 85 percent of executives believe AI and robotics will have a positive impact on the workplace in the next three to five years.

Automation and robotics have already taken hold in a number of businesses. Nearly half of the executives surveyed said automation and machine learning has either transformed or had a positive impact on their businesses over the last year, with 45 percent saying the same about robotics.

Galipeau said the reality is that automation and AI are not only here to stay, but will grow substantially in the coming years.

“As business leaders invest in digitization, automation, AI and other emerging technologies in the workplace, they must continue to evolve their workforce alongside these advancements,” Galipeau said. “While the productivity and efficiency benefits of automation are unequivocal, the need for skilled humans to operate, utilize and advance technologies is equally unmistakable.”
The study was based on online interviews with 5,300 U.S. residents between the ages of 18 and 65.

How Much Time Is Disposed by Your Employees on Their Mobile Phones?

While their time cards might say they are putting in a full day, many employees aren’t devoting all their time in the office to their work, new research finds.

The study from the staffing firmOfficeTeam revealed that mobile devices are the biggest distraction during the workday. Specifically, workers waste an average of 56 minutes per day, nearly five hours a week, using their mobile devices for non-work activities.

The research shows that employees are using cell phones for a wide range of non-work-related activities. Thirty percent say they spend most of their time checking personal email, with 28 percent admitting to perusing social networks. Checking out sports or entertainment sites, playing mobile games, and doing some online shopping are the other ways workers say they waste most of their time on their mobile devices. [Want to increase productivity? Cut back on meetings and distractions]

“It’s understandable that employees may occasionally use their mobile devices or attend to personal tasks during business hours,” said Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam, in a statement. “But these activities can easily become big distractions.”

Employees are also using their mobile devices to get around road blocks employers have in place to keep their staff focused on work. Nearly 60 percent of the employees surveyed said they often use their personal devices at work to access websites that are blocked by their company, up from just 22 percent who did so in 2012.

More than half of the employees surveyed said their company blocks them from visiting at least some websites in the office. The research found that 39 percent of employers block social media sites on the company network, 30 percent restrict access to entertainment sites, 27 percent don’t allow visits to online shopping sites, and 23 percent bar employees from checking out sports websites.

Cell phones aren’t the only distractions. Employees also admit to spending 42 minutes a day, on average, on personal tasks. When added together with the time they spend on their mobile devices, employees are wasting nearly eight hours, close to one full day a week, on non-work tasks.

Britton said employees should better manage their time so they aren’t wasting valuable working hours.

“To best manage their time, staff can take advantage of breaks during lunch and throughout the day to catch up on non-work email or errands,” she said.

The study was based on surveys of more than 300 U.S. workers employed in office environments, and more than 300 senior managers at U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

Snapshot Small Business in Restauration

Our Small Business Snapshot series features photos that represent, in just one image, what the small businesses we feature are all about. Dana Tanner, founder and co-owner of Restauration, explains how this image represents the business.

Restauration is a combination of two of our favorite words that are defining pillars of the Long Beach, California community: restaurant and restore. Situated in the vibrant and creative stretch on 4th Street dubbed Retro Row, our little eatery brings the Long Beach family together to pay tribute to the American culinary spirit while embracing modern fare, using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, many of which we grow ourselves.

In high school I was a hostess at a local swanky restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona. Over the years, I graduated from bussing to serving and then to management. I have always worked for locally-owned and operated establishments, including managing The Melting Pot, which I watched grow from a small operation into a large international franchise. I had dabbled in some retail management as well in my early 20s, but was always drawn back to restaurants.

While I learned a lot from managing groups like The Melting Pot and Mohawk Bend, I decided to take the knowledge I had gained and move on to further my development in operations and food in general. I began looking for a space for my own restaurant and stumbled upon a site in Long Beach. I immediately fell in love with the venue and took a leap of faith in opening Restauration, which is celebrating three years this month. A year into the process, we went through some staff changes and found Chef Philip Pretty, who has really taken the local, fresh food mantra to heart and now co-owns Restauration with me.

Our goal at Restauration is to provide the community with farm-to-table high-end cuisine at a reasonable price point. While many restaurants buy fresh produce from local farmers’ markets, Chef Phil (photographed here) cooks a hearty portion of our menu with the produce we grow and harvest in our own farm plots, which is also located in urban Long Beach, just a few miles from Restauration.

This photo not only shows Chef Phil physically harvesting lettuce himself to be used on our menu later that night or the next day, but also gives diners an idea of how fresh all of our ingredients are and how dedicated we are to the quality – so much so that we want to watch it grow from seed to produce ourselves. Right now, Restauration plants and harvests 25 to 30 percent of its own produce. As we continue to grow our 1,000 square-foot farm space tended by Organic Harvest Gardens, we hope to grow this percentage as well!

Our biggest challenge is explaining to customers that because we are a dedicated farm-to-table restaurant, their favorite menu item may not always be available. We have a lot of regulars (and even not-so-regulars) who have favorites, like our Brussels sprouts. While diners may be able to order these veggies elsewhere in California anytime of the year, at Restauration, if it isn’t Brussels sprout season we won’t be serving them. This is because we want to only offer those items when they are at their freshest during their peak season.

We believe this dedication to sourcing locally and seasonally really makes everything on our menu taste its very best, as well as supports our community and presents the opportunity to introduce our guests to new foods that they may not have tried had their favorite menu item been available – which we love!

3 Ways to Encourage Professional Development Faster in the Workplace

Each member of a company is just as valuable as the next, offering their own set of skills, insight and personality. As team members, your employees can work both individually and together to reach a common goal.

Personal growth of each employee contributes to the success of the entire business. Here are three ways to encourage professional development in the workplace.

Having a secure job doesn’t mean employees need to stop learning academically. If workers are interested in furthering their education, they should be encouraged to do so, whether it’s finishing college or simply building their skills with a class or two.

“The baseline of professional development is a college education, yet there are more than 30 million Americans that have partial college credit but don’t have a college degree,” said Adrian Ridner, CEO and co-founder of Earning a college degree allows workers to perfect their skill sets in each industry, which benefits the company as well, he added.

Employers should consider additional programs for their employees to continue higher education at a lower cost. Companies can form partnerships or provide access to workplace education, like online lessons and in-house training sessions, Ridner stated.

“With the advent of technology and online learning, it’s easier and more inexpensive than ever to foster a culture of learning in the workplace,” he said.

No worker is perfect, which is why it’s necessary to address skill gaps. Leaders should sit down with their employees to cover any lacking areas, discuss improvement methods and offer support.

However, don’t forget to acknowledge an employee’s talent and skills in the areas where they excel. This builds confidence, said Ridner, and allows for a more skilled workforce and better employee retention and morale. Forty-two percent of millennials change jobs every one to three years, so empowering employees, especially younger workers who are susceptible to job hopping, will reduce turnover rates.

It’s also crucial for employees to progress with societal developments. Since rapid technology advancements impact most industries, workers must have the professional skills to be flexible and transition with their companies, he said.

Employers should arrange brainstorming groups or mentorship programs to help workers connect with each other, Ridner stated. For example, organizes 24-hour “Rockethons” where the company forms small teams to discuss ideas, create prototypes, improve tools and more.

Bouncing suggestions around the office will inspire employees to be passionate in their work, encouraging personal and professional growth for everyone.

“Creating a culture of learning in the workplace is a shared responsibility,” Ridner said. “If your employer doesn’t have any academic or professional development programs in place, feel free to suggest it.”

Social Leaders Free the Ins and Outs of Social Media

According to the Pew Research Center, digitally native millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, and outside of work, they represent $200 billion in annual buying power. Simply put, smart business leaders must get comfortable on social media if they want to engage in successful internal communications with their employees and successful external communications with their customers.

True social leaders like Richard Branson and Elon Musk understand the importance of social media and have millions of followers to show for it. Yet there are other senior business execs who outsource this critical task to entry-level marketers – or skip it altogether.

In his 2014 book, “A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive” (AMACOM), Mark Babbitt, founder of the young professionals’ social community YouTern, highlighted three types of leaders who’ve yet to take the social media plunge: the doubter, the broadcaster and the superior.

  • The doubter still doesn’t believe social media is here to stay. Instead, this leader sees social as a fad and a waste of both the leader’s and the organization’s time. While other industry competitors use social strategies to build communities and create brand ambassadors, the doubter’s company misses out.
  • The broadcaster hasn’t fully grasped the power of social. While this leader is comfortable using social networks, he or she participates in one-way communication – putting out content but failing to engage with and listen to the company’s followers.
  • The superior is ruled by ego. This leader feels invincible and believes that the rules of social media don’t apply to him or her. Leaders like this mistakenly think that their executive status can protect against public backlash if they say something controversial or insensitive, but they are quickly corrected when such incidents occur.

“If this was 1999 or 2000, we might be talking about whether a leader needs to get on email and understand how email works,” said Ryan Holmes, founder and CEO of the social media management dashboard Hootsuite. “We all know now that if a leader doesn’t understand email, he’s kind of a dinosaur facing obsolescence. [Similarly], social media is a key tool that all leaders need to have in their toolkit.”

When leaders avoid social media, the impact doesn’t just fall on the companies they run. By failing to engage with the public at large (even those who aren’t direct customers), business leaders miss the opportunity to become established thought leaders and build personal brands outside of their businesses.

“You, as an individual and a leader, can go places that your company’s brand cannot,” said Holmes. “The New York Times is not going to accept a contributed article from Virgin, but if Richard Branson wanted to write an article, they’d take it. And that’s because it’s him, not the company. People want to hear from people.”

With all this in mind, Holmes wrote “The 4 Billion Dollar Tweet: A Guide for Getting Leaders Off the Social Sidelines” (Maple Syrup Mafia Publishing, 2017). Inspired by a Donald Trump tweet that triggered a $4 billion single-day plummet of Lockheed Martin stock after company leadership failed to respond, Holmes’ book is the busy leader’s pocket guide to social media.

Serving as the foundation of the book are Holmes’ Six Pillars of Social Leadership, designed to get wary business executives off the sidelines and into the social media game as quickly and effectively as possible:

A “personal touch is key in social media,” said Holmes, but he acknowledges that few leaders have the time to effectively engage on social media on their own. He recommends leveraging a socially savvy mentee, an in-house communications team, or even a third-party social media management company or consultant for help in determining overall strategy and high-level initiatives. But, adds Holmes, “social media is not something you can pass off to your marketing millennials and expect that they can control and manage it. It needs leadership.”

Should you be irreverent on social media? Humorous? Informative? Determining the audience you want to reach and what change you want to provoke will help shape that voice. Seeking insight from an outside perspective (see Pillar 1) will help as well.

With the seemingly constant launches of new social media platforms, keeping up with all of them can seem impossible. And that’s because it is. Instead, says Holmes, determine where your market is and choose the platform where it congregates most.

As a quick primer, Holmes says, “LinkedIn is a powerful B2B network; Twitter is the domain of the tech- and media-savvy; Facebook and Instagram have broad consumer reach; and Snapchat is dominant among teen users.”

We’ve all heard that content is king, and that certainly applies to social media, whether you’re sharing informative videos, industry insights or hilarious outtakes from your recent vacation. But there’s more.

“The real key to success – and where most leaders fail – is simple consistency,” Holmes wrote. “This can be as minimal as allocating five minutes a day, or even five minutes a week.”

The surest way to make a social post go viral is to actually help drive traffic. Holmes recommends enlisting team members to share posts on their social media channels or paying a fee to have certain posts promoted on each social media network.

Aside from them being short on time, Holmes says that most social-averse leaders stay on the sidelines because they’re afraid of making a mistake.

“The reality is that social leaders don’t have a social net,” he wrote. “The occasional slipup is par for the course. We all make mistakes, after all. What sets true leaders apart is willingness to own them.”