Nigeria: Ekiti to Support Young Entrepreneurs in Expanding their Business

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AAYP Press Release

The Ekiti State government has promised to provide the needed support for young entrepreneurs who are willing to expand their scope of business, in line with the government’s vision of igniting entrepreneurship spirit among its citizens.

The wife of the state governor, Mrs Bisi Fayemi, disclosed this at the closing session of the Ekiti Entrepreneurship Week 2019 in Ado Ekiti on Saturday.

The support, according to her, includes providing them more opportunities to showcase their talents, assisting them with funds for expansion and linking them with mentors.

No fewer than 5,000 participants drawn from the 16 local government areas of the state participated in the three-day programme which was tagged “Enterprise and creativity meet opportunity.”

Mrs Fayemi, who presented awards to some participants with very outstanding and innovative business ideas and projects, said she was delighted at the enthusiasm of the participants, explaining government’s plan to enhance the capacity of young entrepreneurs and make them providers of employment is being realised.

She expressed her satisfaction at the dexterity of many of the designers that showcased their designs made from locally sourced materials during the event.

She noted that the initiative would boost the state’s economic development if well explored strategically and help the fashion artists to develop themselves.

She said: “We are doing this entrepreneurship week to showcase Ekiti locally made fabrics and tailoring.

“We have seen that Ekiti people are amazing; we have all these materials produced here in Ekiti. The Aso Oke was made by the local Association of Aso-Oke Weavers and the Adire material was made by students of the Ekiti State University (EKSU).

“We want to thank Dr John Kayode Fayemi for investing in Ekiti and supporting the women folk. We are showcasing to the world what we can do. Ekiti people are not lazy, they are hard working and industrious.”

Mrs Fayemi further disclosed that a number of the participants at the programme would be invited to both Fashion Week in Lagos in December, and the African Fashion Week London in 2020.

She expressed her optimism that the programme would be a permanent feature in the state since “Ekiti people cherish hard work, dedication and commitment to excellence. I am proud of them and give kudos to Dr Kayode Fayemi for believing and showcasing the talented sons and daughters of Ekiti”.

The Secretary of the planning committee, Mr Seyi Aiyeleso, urged the participants to make good use of the opportunity given to them from the programme, adding that the programme was designed as a platform for raising and showcasing talents, which according to him, abound in the state.

The governor’s wife was presented with the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN) Lifetime Achievement Award at the event by the National President of FADAN, Mrs Funmi Ajila-Ladipo.

Mrs Ajila-Ladipo expressed her gratitude to God and the committee in charge of the programme and Governor Fayemi for impacting Ekiti sons and daughters through fashion entrepreneurship.

Source Thisdaylive

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5 Ways to Discover Your Talent

By Azugbene Solomon 

Is talent born or made? The dictionary says talent is a “natural endowment” of a person—so we’re all born with our talents. It’s up to us to grow and develop them, but the seeds are in us at birth. Talent is an ability or natural capacity or potential that we have, which may range from our creativity or intellect or social skills to our athletic abilities. We all have talents, but we’re not always so good at identifying what they are. In fact, our best talents can be right in front of us, and we miss them. We’re so busy searching for a talent we think is hot or lucrative, or sexy or fun, or more like how we imagine our life being, that we overlook the actual tremendous potential we have sitting there waiting to be discovered.

If you can determine what your talents are, you can tap into an amazing resource that can help you in every aspect of your life, including your business. Whether you are searching for the perfect type of business to open or you want to find ways to grow the one you have, you may find the answer in your personal talents.

Ways To Discover Your Talent

1. Listen to others. 

You may be clueless about your talent, but your friends aren’t. So ask them. People around you usually know what your talents are, even when you don’t, because when they need something done well—you’re the one they’re always asking, or sending their friends to. Have you ever wondered why everyone wants you to help them negotiate that new car deal? Or help them with repairing their credit, or fixing their car? If you think about it, people have likely been telling you that you are good at something for a long time. You just weren’t listening. Now is the time to listen!

2. What comes easily to you? 

Are there things that you find really easy or obvious to do, while others may struggle or muddle their way through? If you have things that you find super easy, you assume they’re easy for everyone. They’re almost always not. Just because you believe that they should be just as easy, or obvious, for others, that’s not how it works. In this scenario, they struggle while you stand there feeling like it was a cakewalk! If that’s you, chances are that’s a talent.

3. What you enjoy most. 

Your talents may be demonstrating itself in other ways. For examples, are there magazine topics that you just can’t get enough of? Are there shows you love? Think about what it is that you love to do most when you have free time. If you are drawn towards it, fascinated by it, and enjoy playing with, exploring or practicing it, it’s a natural talent.

4. Shut up already! 

Is there a specific subject that you love to talk about, often to the point that your friends want to shoot you? Consider the subject, perhaps it may be one of your hidden talents or is connected to one.

5. Just ask. 

Ask everyone you know who is willing to give you an honest assessment about what they think your talents are. Ask them to, for the moment, ignore your bad habits and have them share the one or two things that they think you are hands down most talented at. Ask a lot of people who know you, but always ask them one-on-one. Compile the results, and whalah! There is your hidden talent!

Key Components

When you know what your talents are, you feel more in tune with your life. The sun shines brighter, jerks are less jerky, and all is well with the world because you’re on track. You have a purpose. Add a vision and a plan to your talent and you can also use those talents to excel in the business world. Whether you leverage those talents in your product or service, or you use them to network and make quality connections, it’s important to know what your talents are. When you capitalize on your talents, it no longer feels like work, it just feels like living. And anything that makes business and life more enjoyable is bound to be a good thing!

Reference

Eradicate Entrepreneurial Poverty by Mikemichalowicz.com

Cameroon: Youths drilled on entrepreneurial skills in Yaounde

By Ariane Foguem

17 young entrepreneurs are currently been drilled on entrepreneurial skills in a two-day workshop in Yaounde, at the end of which 3 will be selected to represent Cameroon at the 2019 pitch-up competition in Morocco.

70 at the beginning, only 17 managed to find their way into the net of the fortunate candidates to take part in the first part of the pitch-up entrepreneurship competition organized by Hub Africa, a platform that connects entrepreneurs with world investors, capitalists, and mentors.

The two-day workshop consists in reinforcing the entrepreneurial capacities of these young entrepreneurs in domains such as ability to convince, posture, presentation of project to name but these, so as to secure a win at the final pitch-up competition in Casablanca Morocco come June 2019.

The sectors from which the 17 projects were chosen are amongst others agriculture, finance, e-commerce and tracking.

Launching the competition in Cameroon, the Secretary General of the Ministry of small and medium size enterprises, Mme Marthe Chantal Mbajon representative of Minister Achille Bassilekin III, lauded the initiative that gives exposure to young African entrepreneurs.

The Pitch-up competition which is at its 7th edition will run under the theme, “Open innovation, a lever for African Small and Medium size enterprises.”

Source Journal du Cameroun

Ghana: Youth in Politics and Entrepreneurship summit: To help tackle youth unemployment

By Ike Dzokpo

Every year, tons of youth graduate into the labour market without a clue of their future despite all efforts made in creating more jobs, the unemployment rate is on the increase.

On another side, our political terrain has shown the enormous involvement of youths in politics. The outcome has not been the best since lots of youths are ill informed of what POLITICS entails, the role and responsibility of the younger citizens.

In a bid to advance the youths from the university level, The Youth in Politics and Entrepreneurship summit was initiated.

The summit was aimed at guiding and inspiring university students to excel as students, spend their time and resources in viable investments, seek avenue for entrepreneurship; and be positively involved in politics to the betterment of the economy and society at large.

The summit was jointly put together by GP Africana Concept Int’l, Finding The Future Ghana and the Students Representative Council (SRC) of Valley View University, Dodowa, Ghana with support from Databank Group.

Speaking at The summit was Mr. Joe Jackson, The Director of Business Operations of Dalex Finance.

According to him: “OVER 40% OF UNIVERSITY STUDENTS HAVE NO EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS WHEN THEY GRADUATE’. He further said that Entrepreneurship is no longer a choice; but the only viable employment option available to lots of young graduates in the country.

Looking at the efforts and outcomes of past and present government, Ghana still has a long way to go in tackling the depressing phenomenon of joblessness because it is not creating enough opportunities for the teaming graduates.

Drawing the attention of participants to the disappointment in job searching, he said: “you are not going to get your dream job when you walk out of this institution. You may have to create one”.

Mr. Joe Jackson attributed the situation on partisan politics, widespread corruption, greed and recklessness in the country. He bemoaned the trend that if you are not blessed with people, parents and guardians with ‘connection’ to get you slotted into the very few jobs that are being created, you are in trouble.

Anchoring his presentation on the theme: “PRESS ON, he said there is good news! Entrepreneurship could earn you a lot of money but the journey is arduous and requires a lot of time. Just start and press on…and success is assured”.

Believe in your dream even when others do not, and be sure there is need for whatever you are doing. Being an entrepreneur does not mean you are opting for less; sometimes, you are opting for more.

Just be ready to fail and use the lessons from the failure to improve the rest of the journey. Self-belief, faith, perseverance, hard work are key characteristics that will see you through as an entrepreneur, he admonished the students.

The summit ended with questions answers and responses from various parties.
President of the Students Representative Council of the University said, “…the realities on the ground as revealed to us by Mr. Joe Jackson were staggering. He shared his real life experience with us as a successful entrepreneur. It felt so real, revealing and very interesting…”

CEO of GP Africana International, Mr. God’spower F, spoke fondly about the initiative and said “… our mission is simple, we want to whip up the interest of the youth in politics and entrepreneurship. The speaker was explicit, he gave us exactly what we were expecting as organizer and this reflected in the responses from the students and staff…”

The Program Director and CEO of Finding The Future Ghana expressed gratitude to Databank Group for her support as well as the entire university community. He further said that this summit was carefully plan to guide and inspire participants to take responsibility of their success in life. Getting involved in politics and being an entrepreneur are vital roles all youths shouldn’t neglect.

Also present at the event were Hon. Isaac Otu Zorh (Shai Osudoku Constituency) and Hon. Patrick Dei-Lartey, the Chairman Business Advisory Committee and Assembly Man (Salem Dodowa) representing the Honorable Member of Parliament for Dodowa Constituency and Staff of Valley View University.

Source News Ghana

Nigeria: How Youth Entrepreneurship Programmes Reduce Unemployment

By Kelechukwu Iruoma

In December 2018, Nigeria’s unemployment stood at 23.1% affecting 20.9million people, the majority of which are young people. But two programmes initiated by the Delta State government is addressing youth unemployment in that state

Unemployment has become a major problem that bedevils the lives of Nigerians, especially the youth, resulting in cybercrime, increased militancy, kidnappings, robberies and other violent crimes. The lack of work affects the mental and psychological wellbeing of a large percentage of Nigerians. Many young people have given up hope and some have committed suicide, leaving their families devastated.

Nigeria’s unemployment rate has increased from 18.8% in 2017 to 23.1%, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released in December 2018. The report revealed that Nigeria now has 20.9 million people who are unemployed, a figure that rose from 17.6 million.

Of the 20.9 million people classified as unemployed, 11.1 million did some form of work but for few hours a week (less than 20 hours), while 9.7 million did absolutely nothing, the NBS said.

Due to the unfriendly economy, some companies in the country have been laying off their staff. According to the report, 9.9 million people were unemployed after they had lost their jobs.

“Of the 9.7 million that were unemployed and did nothing at all, 35% or 3.4 million have been unemployed and did nothing at all for less than a year, 17.2% or 1.6 million for a year, 15.7% or 1.5 million had been unemployed and did nothing for two years, and the remaining 32.1% or 3.1 million unemployed persons had been unemployed doing nothing for three years and more,” the report states.

Rise in youth unemployment

The majority of the people affected are young people. According to the NBS, unemployment in the age bracket of between 15 and 35 stood at an alarming 52.65%, while in some African countries the rate is lower. Youth unemployment in Liberia stands at 4.7%, Kenya 18.7%, Egypt 26.3%, South Africa 27.7%, Lesotho 31.8%, Libya 43.8% and Ghana 48%.

STEP-and-YAGEP-beneficiaries- Asabametro

The federal government tried to address this by establishing Npower. The aim was “to foster productivity through skills development and valuable knowledge sharing and acquisition for economic growth and social development”. The impact has not been felt much.

YAGEP and STEP to the rescue

State governments also started churning out various programmes to reduce the rate of unemployment in their states by training the unemployed to become self-employed. The Delta State government is one of the states that established two programmes, namely the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP) and Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP). YAGEP is focused on fish, rice and vegetable production, while STEP is focused on nine skill acquisitions. These include fashion design and tailoring, plumbing and audiovisual services, among others. The state government’s aim is to provide job opportunities and empower the youth.

Launching STEP shortly after his inauguration as the governor of the state in 2015, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa said, “We are not training you to remain one. We are training you to become successful entrepreneurs who would train and employ other unemployed youths.”

Impact

Cynthia Ehire is the Chief Executive Officer of Omas Events and Makeovers, based in Sapele, Nigeria. She was a beneficiary of STEP’s 2015/2016 cycle. She enrolled and learnt to bake cakes and pastries and to do makeovers. Now she is fully into cosmetics.

“I have never experienced anything like this before. My eyes were opened to the opportunities in decoration and events management before I diversified into catering, makeovers and skin therapy.” Cynthia has trained and graduated nine apprentices while more than 15 people are now undergoing training in her enterprise.

YAGEP has also been impactful. At its launch in 2017, the government allocated 154 YAGEP fish ponds, located at Ugbokodo in the Okpe local government area, to 77 YAGEPreneurs. Each young person was allocated two fish ponds to enable them to start their fisheries enterprise. The government has since established four more fish pond clusters, at Egbokodo-Itsekiri, Mbiri, Anwai and Alao-Ossissa.

High demand

Annually, more than 10 000 young people apply for both these programmes. In the 2017/2018 cycle, 15 000 people were reported to have applied, when there is space for about 800.

So far, more than 2 300 young people have been trained, nurtured and established in their choice enterprises under the STEP and YAGEP programmes of the Delta state government. Graduate trainees have in turn trained and nurtured thousands of entrepreneurs to become self-employed and economically viable.

Source This Is Africa

These 5 Skills Are More Important for Entrepreneurs Than Any Fancy Degree

By Bill Green

One of the great fallacies about building a professional career is believing where you went to school dictates how successful you become.

This is one of the most heavily debated topics in the business world: the effective return on investment for attending college and/or pursue an MBA. Now, I’m not saying formal education is a poor investment, by any means. For many people, school is an opportunity to “know what you don’t know,” and that in itself makes it a worthwhile pursuit.

Where people make the mistake, however, is in thinking the degree itself is all that’s needed.

They believe that because they attended the classes and passed the tests, then where they went to school will carry them to professional success–and that’s simply not true. As someone who didn’t end up graduating from college, I can tell you firsthand that over decades of building businesses, it’s the working skills I value in my partners and employees over a fancy resume. I would much rather hire the kid who has tried and failed, than the one who passed his or her classes with flying colors, but never attempted to put their theoretical knowledge to the test in the real world.

This is a topic I speak about at length in my book, All In. Again, I’m not saying a formal education or an MBA is a waste of time or money. Just make sure that, in addition to building your resume, you make it a point to acquire the following 5 skills.

These are the things that ultimately make you a professional success story–whether you climb the ladder of a larger organization, or you build your own from the ground up:

1. Honesty (With Yourself)

Lots of people have ideas.

Students, especially, before stepping into the real world, tend to get caught up in their ideas. They love thinking about them, brainstorming them, and sharing them with their friends and family. Unfortunately, ideas without execution don’t go very far. And while there is absolutely value in coming up with great ideas, an idea cannot become “great” until it faces its first customer.

One of the most valuable skills you can acquire early in your professional career is knowing the difference between what sounds great in theory, and what holds real value to a paying customer or a loyal user. And the only way to acquire this skill is to try a lot of different things. The more you create, and the more you try to build yourself, the faster you will learn what people are willing to pay for and what they would rather do without.

You’ll learn how to be honest about whether your idea has real potential or not.

2. Leadership

Entrepreneurship, working within a startup, or being part of a smaller team within a larger corporate environment, all require some capacity of team interaction.

Many entrepreneurs or “intrepreneurs” (those who bring massive value inside larger organizations) tend to forget that the best business ideas in the world require more than just plug-and-chug execution in order to be successful. All execution requires teamwork, and all teamwork requires a lengthy list of soft skills in order to keep people motivated, focused, and loyal. One of those soft skills is the ability to communicate your vision and lead those around you to victory.

The best way I’ve found to acquire the skill of leadership is to put yourself in environments where you either have the opportunity to learn from a talented leader, or to be forced to step up and become a leader yourself. Ideally, you’ll have a number of both of these experiences in your professional career.

3. Discipline

The kind of discipline school encourages is not the same discipline the real world asks of you.

In school, the punishment for not being “disciplined” with your work is quite inconsequential, all things considered. You might fail a test, or get a bad grade for the semester. But when you’re starting a company, or working within someone else’s company and handling paying clients, suddenly the consequences become very real. Your mistakes can be measured in cash.

Taking the idea of discipline a step further, school plans the path out for you. What is much more difficult is determining where you want to head on the path, while simultaneously dealing with unforeseen challenges at the same time. Persisting in the face of uncertainty, pressure, or the potential of failure, requires a level of discipline that cannot be acquired in a semester.

Discipline is something that takes years to master.

The best way to get started, then, is to find as many things in life to become disciplined about. If you can become disciplined with your finances, your daily schedule, your health, etc., then you are creating the habits that will set you up for success.

4. Optimism

This is a skill many don’t consciously acquire.

But the truth is, entrepreneurship and professional advancement is tough work. Every day isn’t great. The wins are far less frequent than the losses. And it can be very easy to fall into a state of mind where your day to day is seen as stressful, overwhelming, and a pain.

Listen, if you want to make it to the summit, remember this: it’s all in your head.

The ability to be optimistic and positive, even in the face of great obstacles, is not to be undervalued. You’re the one who chose to pursue a path of success. You’re the one who wanted to build something great. You’re the one who chose this life, for yourself. So, don’t look for the bad, the ugly, and the stressful. Instead, look for things to be thankful for: like the fact that you even have the opportunity to pursue what you’re passionate about in the first place.

Optimism isn’t a weakness. Optimism is the state of mind that will give you endurance for the long road ahead.

5. Resilience

Last but not least, I firmly believe it’s imperative that every young individual find opportunities, any opportunity at all, to build the skill of resilience.

For me, I gained this skill-building my first company, Wilmar, starting as a teenager in a flea market. There I was, selling hand tools off of a fold-up card table prices–I heard the word “No” dozens of times each day. But when I would eventually hear a “Yes,” I learned the importance of resilience and persistence. Had I accepted the first, or second, or twenty-third “No,” I might never have built Wilmar, a company that ended up eventually being acquired by Home Depot.

The reason why I always take fancy resumés with a grain of salt is because a resumé doesn’t always show you how resilient someone is. Sure, I want to know where you went to school, but I also want to know about a time in your life when someone told you, “No, that’s not going to work,” and you pressed on anyway. Regardless of whether you were successful or not doesn’t matter. What matters is that you tried, and you became a little more resilient in the process.

This article was first published at Inc

Launching Your Business in 2019? Consider These 5 Tips

By Young Entrepreneur Council

If your New Year’s resolution is to launch a business, then keep reading. More and more people want to ditch their 9-to-5s and take control of their futures by starting their own businesses.

But starting a business isn’t easy. It doesn’t matter whether you want to start a small business from your spare room or create the next multimillion-dollar global phenomenon — if you’re not prepared, your business won’t succeed. Luckily, though, there are a number of tips you can adopt that will make the likelihood of your success that much greater.

If you’re launching your business in 2019, here are my tips for success.

1. Stop aiming for perfection.

When launching a new business, it’s natural to want everything to go smoothly. But if you want to be triumphant, you must let go of your perfectionist tendencies. While you might think that being a perfectionist will be beneficial to your new endeavor by making you more motivated and pushing you to strive for success, that’s not always the case. In fact, as reported by Harvard Business Review, perfectionists have higher levels of stress, burnout, anxiety, and depression.

Stop aiming for perfection. When starting a new business, you’re bound to experience bumps in the road. If you expect them to happen, you’ll be better prepared. Mistakes don’t make you a failure — they help you learn and become a more successful entrepreneur when you overcome them.

2. Build a support system.

Building a business is difficult and you can’t do it alone. And I don’t just mean financially. Having a support system in place when you dive into your new business venture will make all the difference. If you think you already have a support system — after all, your parents and your spouse are supportive of your business — that’s great. But you also need to need to surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through.

If you don’t have that type of support system yet, build it. Start networking with other local business owners in your area or get online and join some LinkedIn or Facebook groups for entrepreneurs.

Plus, according to Psychology Today, being a part of a group is motivating and increases feelings of warmth. This can be incredibly beneficial to you on the rocky road to starting a business.

3. Think about the long term, not just day to day.

As reported by the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, only about 50 percent of small businesses survive five years or longer. This statistic can typically be attributed to business owners getting caught up in the day-to-day minutia of the business.

Make sure to take some time each week to think about the long-term health of your business. Think about the goals you’ve set and how you’ll get there. Do you need to invest in marketing or employee development and training, for instance? Planning for the future will help ensure that your business is around for a long time.

4. Grow your skills.

As a business owner, you never stop learning. You may be starting a business because you have a lot of knowledge and experience in a field, but running a successful business requires a wide variety of skills and expertise. So, as a new business owner, you’ll need to be a jack or jill of all trades.

Spend some time growing your expertise in marketing, writing, SEO, bookkeeping, sales, general management, etc., to develop a well-rounded entrepreneurial skill set. There are a number of free resources online that can help you boost your skills. For example, HubSpot offers free courses on SEO, content marketing and more.

5. Start small.

Your biggest dream might be for your business to become a multimillion-dollar enterprise overnight, but that probably won’t be your reality — at least not immediately. Many new business owners try to do too much too soon because they think it’ll bring them success faster, but it won’t. Instead, start small and grow.

Starting small might mean bootstrapping your startup instead of trying to get a bunch of funding right out of the gate. It also might mean releasing one product or service first and getting some traction and experience instead of trying to put out an entire catalog of offerings. Starting small and giving your business time to grow will make things easier to manage.

Over to you.

Now that you’re more prepared for starting your own business, what are you waiting for? 2019 is yours for the taking. With these easy-to-follow tips, you can ensure that this year will be the year your entrepreneurial dreams come true.

This article was first published at Inc

Change the Way You Think About Your Business With These 6 Thought Exercises

By David Finkel

Many entrepreneurs have taken to wearing the same thing day in and day out to reduce decision fatigue and free up their time to focus on more important matters. Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, and the late Steve Jobs all believed in minimalist wardrobes. And while I agree the concept is a sound one, I want to challenge the idea a bit and encourage you as a business owner to mix things up, even if it’s only metaphorically.

Here at Maui Mastermind, we often teach our mastermind groups about the power of the six hats, and I want to share the concept with you today.

What Is a Hat?

In this context, a hat is not a physical piece of clothing but a state of mind. It is a tool that can be used to push the boundaries of thinking and help you grow as a group and as leaders. There are six different types of hats:

  • White Hat: The Professor or Thinker Mode. Focus: Exclusively on the objective facts, information and data without any interpretation or “story.”
  • Red Hat: The Emotional/Intuitive Hat. Focus: Exclusively on feelings, emotions, and intuition.
  • Black Hat: Your Bodyguard. Focus: Exclusively on what is wrong or could go wrong.
  • Yellow Hat: The Enthused Champion. Focus: Exclusively on how to make an idea work and looking for what’s good about a specific situation.
  • Green Hat: Your Creative Genius. Focus: Exclusively on new ideas and creating possibilities and new combinations and mixtures.
  • Blue Hat: The Organizing Hat. Focus: Exclusively on the thinking process itself and how we are recording, organizing, harnessing, and putting to work the thinking we are doing.

What Are the Benefits of the Hats?
In our mastermind group, we regularly sit down together as a team and put on a different hat. We will discuss what hat we are going to wear and explain the ground rules before sharing our ideas.

This exercise has many benefits:

  • It lets people play and relax into the fun of the hat in question.
  • It reduces people’s perceived risk in contributing to the group and helps them feel safer playing a role that they put on…it’s not “them,” only a hat they are wearing.
  • It helps people avoid arguments, which is rarely needed in masterminding and almost always detrimental and destructive. Now you can simply note all sides in parallel and move forward in your masterminding. In the rare case in which you need to choose, you lay out the map and eventually let your red hat choose.
  • It simplifies the thinking process. Rather than use all thinking styles all at once in a great big muddle, you can break out the parts and really flesh out the ideas.
  • It helps people switch thinking patterns and avoid thinking ruts.

Three Final Tips to Harness the Power of the Hats
Remember, the hats are about direction, not description…. They are about influencing the way you are behaving and thinking, not a label you put on your thinking in retrospect.

When you use a hat, make sure everyone wears the same hat at the same time (the only exception is if you want to keep a facilitator wearing the blue hat).

The hats are tools. You don’t need them all the time. You use them when you want and put them away when they become too much. Avoid living in any one particular hat.

In upcoming articles, I will dive into the differences between the six hats in greater detail.

This article was first published at Inc

How to Figure Out What’s Holding Your Company Back (And Push Past It)

By Ami Kassar

A significant part of that process should include taking the time to understand what is limiting the growth of your company. And because there are different constraints at various points in time, this is an exercise best done at regular intervals.

Every business has a constraint. It could be analytics, operations, marketing, sales or any one of multiple drivers that are slowing you down. And sometimes in the day to day grind of running our business, we lose sight of working on this restraint. We get stuck in our habits and accept our day to day grind as the norm.

Unless you understand your constraints and develop a strategy to handle them, you will always be a slave to it.

When I started my business, everything was a constraint. And over time we built processes and systems, the challenge became to find quality customers that we could help.

And then I became a popular speaker. I’ve had great success marketing my business by speaking to small CEO groups of 10 to 12 business owners around the country — probably 90 percent of my speaking appearances.

It worked: I’ve been able to develop my business and increase my name recognition around the United States.

But I confess that I got lazy. I accepted it as a norm that I would spend one day in Omaha, the next day in Dallas, and the next day in Los Angeles. I got into a rhythm. The constraint of our company became my complacency.

As I mentioned, things change. While it was okay for me early in my company’s life cycle to slowly build a name, I’m way past that point now. Not that I’m a financial conglomerate or a nationally prominent commentator, but my business is on sound ground, I’ve published a book and have developed at least a little bit of cachet.

Fortunately for me (although I didn’t know it at the time) I had a disagreement with the CEO groups parent company and am no longer speaking before the organization’s groups.

Since then, I’ve realized that I’ve been passing up opportunities to speak to much larger groups, as well as other opportunities to market my company. Not only are these new opportunities, but I’ve been invigorated, too.

A change will do you good.

In college, one of the first things I learned (and one of the few things I still remember) is that most conflicts throughout history are the result of old ideas clashing with new ones – in other words, change. In general, people don’t like change, especially if they’re comfortable with their current situation.

I’m the perfect example. It was comfortable speaking to small groups. In the process, I was passing up more significant opportunities.

Change can be a good thing. People like to talk about the good old days, but were they that good? For example, cars from the 1950s and 1960s are always fondly remembered, but anyone who drove them can attest to their poor handling, terrible gas mileage, frequent rusting and suspect durability.

You certainly don’t want to run your business like it’s still the 1950s or 1960s (or the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s or 2000s for that matter). That’s why you always need to be looking ahead – and to do that you have to figure out the constraints that keep you from reaching the next level.

Remember that it never hurts to be bold and look to get better. So what is your constraint and what is your plan to address it?

This article was first published at Inc

How to Strengthen Your Company From Within by Volunteering

By Tanya Hall

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” This quote from David Viscott may ring true for many of you on a personal level, though in the business world, giving anything away (time, earnings, or otherwise) may not mesh with your profit-driven nature.

However, incorporating volunteerism into your company culture will certainly reinforce its deserved role in your company’s overall values and esprit de corps.

For the business owner or executive with bottom-line responsibility, office-wide volunteerism may feel like a frivolous waste of valuable company resources and billable hours. Certainly, having half (or all) of the office off the clock for any portion of the day is a direct hit to the bottom line.

But if we look past hourly billings and productivity reports and consider overall culture, the cost to replace employees, the strength of a tight and collaborative team, and the fulfillment that comes along with volunteering, the business case for carving out dedicated time for volunteerism becomes clear cut. Here are a few benefits to consider:

Connection

Company-wide volunteer efforts allow your team to interact and connect with other employees who they may not often work with in the course of regular business. The personal connections that are forged during volunteer efforts create lasting bonds that build interdepartmental relationships and general camaraderie. The respect and human connection from that bonding will positively impact future collaboration, problem-solving, and crisis management.

Values

Identifying volunteer efforts that are aligned with company values helps to reinforce the all-important purpose of why the team shows up each day. This is especially important for employees in roles that focus on a micro-aspect of the bigger picture, so that they are reminded of the bigger “why” around company purpose. For example, here at Greenleaf Book Group, we might choose to support the local public library by volunteering to clean and re-shelve books, reminding everyone on staff, from the receptionist to the technology team, of the value of making knowledge and growth available.

Career Advancement

Your team cares about career advancement and anything that helps to make their résumés a bit shinier. This can be a hard pill to swallow for a leader–you don’t want them to focus on the next step towards leaving! But realistically, career advancement is important, and even if you can’t promise an outcome, you’ll come out ahead if you can help boost your employees’ overall chances of demonstrating growth and contribution.

Volunteerism on a résumé is a strong indicator of someone who walks their talk. Your staff will value this résumé booster and will likely show more loyalty to you because of it.

New Skills

Certain volunteer opportunities can open a door for your staff to learn new skills that make them more valuable on your team. For instance, a volunteer role that requires someone with no management skills to oversee a project or launch can provide an experience for them to develop in that area, if it’s attractive to them. That experience may help them gain clarity around their future development goals without you having to take a risk on it in the day-to-day operations of your company.

Recruitment and Fulfillment

Getting out of the office to do something completely different is generally welcomed as a fulfilling benefit for your team. Breaking monotony, trying new things, doing work with purpose, and feeling like a part of a greater goal is important to any employee’s satisfaction. If you can’t compete on salary, offering up a culture ripe with the opportunity to give back may be the tipping point required to recruit the talent you need.

A company-wide volunteerism program may look like a waste of resources at first glance, but once you quantify the value of the benefits outlined above, it’s clear that giving back transcends the bottom line to create an environment of dedicated, purpose-driven teams supported by strong interpersonal connections.

Whether you think your culture is strong or in need of repair, consider the benefits of volunteerism and how you might use it to build a culture that is fulfilled, aligned, committed, and productive.

This article was first published at Inc