Category Archives: Business

Ryan uses his own day-to-day experiences in business and entrepreneurship to write posts relevant to the modern day businessperson. From starting a neighborhood newspaper to a line of trading cards to a full blown marketing and creative firm all by the age of 15, Ryan provides a unique perspective from the rising generation that is worth the read.

innovation

Creating an Innovative Culture

There is nothing worse than a work environment that is just plain stale. I mean, the trash lingering from last year’s state fair seems more pleasing than that old, routine, boring, mundane, stagnant atmosphere that you call “work.”

Be a change agent. Spur on change within your office. Try this: have your teammates and co-workers scour the web for the best of the best in your industry. Have them come up with three new innovative ways of doing the mundane instead of souring away doing the same-old, same-old. For instance, if you design billboards, go drive throughout the city and take pictures of the most creative billboards and then figure out why they are innovative. If you own a restaurant, go check out what is making people line up outside of the food truck down the street. These random exercises in innovation inspiration can liven up your workplace. More importantly, it can raise the bar to a whole new level.

Dealing with People Who Are Afraid to Change

Overcoming Change-Blockers

You’re innovating, moving 1000 mph. You try to get your plans into action and all of a sudden you run straight into a wall. Your idea has made it through several levels of refinements and climbed tiers of corporate politics only to get the “cease and desist” command from one of the high-ups that is afraid of change. You’ve hit a change-blocker. One of those people who no matter what you say or do is just going to say “no” to all new ideas. What do you do?

Humility is truly the best answer. Have an intentional conversation with your change-blocker. Sit down and respectfully ask why he/she is unwilling to authorize, accept or implement your new ideas and innovations. These moments of pure, honest conversation are some of the most educational lessons for all parties involved. Use the obstacle as a growing opportunity. Maybe for you, maybe for the change-blocker.

Questions to Ask During a Reference Check

The One Question to Ask When Checking References

Over the years, I have received countless reference check calls from the potential employer of a friend, previous employee or colleague. Out of all the calls I received, I will never forget one call. It went something like this (and I have changed the names):

“Hi Ryan! I am Sam from ABC Company calling behalf of Steve Smith who has recently applied and interviewed for the position of ‘Fancy Bogus Title.’ Do you have 3 minutes for some questions about Steve?”

“Absolutely,” I replied.

“Did you know that Steve put you down as a reference?” Sam asked.

“Well no, Sam, I didn’t.”

“So Steve did not ask your permission to put your name on his recommendation form?”

After a moment of thinking I replied, “Nope, I can’t say that he did. Haven’t talked to him in several months.”

“Mr. Vet, Thank you very much for your time. I don’t have any further questions about Steve. Have a wonderful day.”

I couldn’t believe it. Never in all my reference request calls had any “investigator” inquired as to whether or not the candidate asked permission to record me as a reference. The answer to the question, whether yes or no reveals a great deal about the job candidate and their consideration for others as well as their relationship with the reference. From that day on, thanks to “Sam,” the first question I always ask listed references when I am doing my own research on someone is whether or not they knew they were a listed reference. If that answer is “no,” it is easy to throw out all other questions I ask during a reference check, I have found my answer.

Benefits for Flat Organizations

3 Challenges of Horizontal Organization Structures

Companies are quickly gravitating towards the horizontal organizational model. They are trying to create these “flat” companies that foster an entrepreneurial spirit where the hourly intern can walk into the CEO’s office and just chat. While there are endless benefits to a horizontal organization, there are huge land mines that need to be flagged to avoid potential disaster.

Here are three common obstacles that occur with a horizontal leadership style. Acknowledging these potential roadblocks can help you reap all the benefits of your horizontal organization.

  1. The Fall Guy: At the end of the day, someone needs to be responsible for and own every project. A huge downfall of many flat companies is the fact that no one takes responsibility, so when something fails, there is no path to correct it and improve.
  2. Closed Door Policy: Many firms have started to have an “Open Door Policy” where individuals can just walk into any execs office and talk so long as their door is open. Though an open door policy is great for a healthy organization, it can also be catastrophic. It is important that execs close their doors during a set time everyday so they can accomplish what they need to accomplish. The possibility of countless interruptions in a given work day can derail anyone’s train of thought and be detrimental to the completion of every day tasks that get put on the back burner for the impromptu meetings resulting from open doors.
  3. A Definitive Leader: With everyone on the same playing field in a horizontal organization, there is the potential for a lot of stepping on toes. One person tries to launch an initiative and finds out someone started it two weeks ago. Both people get offended. Each project or initiative should have a clear leader and commander. This will help streamline meetings, increase accountability and make sure that tasks are accomplished in a uniform manner and are done only once instead of having multiple people working on the same thing trying to climb all over each other.

The benefits of a flat organization are great. With the right direction and a clear understanding of potential land mines, companies with a horizontal org chart will be extremely successful and foster countless innovative initiatives at all levels.

what-not-to-wear-at-work

What Not to Wear to Work

Ladies and Gentlemen,

While culture assumes that bling is good, please keep your right wrist clear of obstructions. There is nothing more annoying that flowing sleeves, bracelets, loose watches, large rings, bengals, etc that interfere in the warm meeting of two palms during a handshake. As tempting as it is to make your right hand and wrist sparkle, make sure that whatever you adorn your body with is clear of obstruction during the pivotal handshake.

All The Best,

Annoyed Handshaker

Walking-In-Someone-Else-Shoes-will-be-a-meaningful-saying

In Your Customer’s Shoes

Every business deals with customer complaints. Many complaints stem from people who just are discontent with life in general and decide to view your corporation as their target. The question is, how many of their frustrations can be prevented? Take the time understand what your customer goes through on a daily basis. Each day, someone in your company should go through the checkout line, place an order on your site, complete a task within your software, use your product or receive a service.

Take the time to experience what your clientele experiences. You may find the smallest remedies that can radically enhance a customers experience and provide solutions and instant gratification to your customer-base.

watercooler

The Watercooler

While there are countless stigmas surrounding conversations “around the water cooler,” one stereotype is consistent–the water cooler is a place where people talk.

Every office environment should have a “water cooler” of sorts. It should be a place where the team can get together, socialize and talk. It could be a break room or coffee or bar or cafeteria. Depending on the setting, a company can even strategically sculpt the environment to make the “water cooler” zone a place where innovation is born and inspiration is shared. The value of those hallways conversations and comments is wildly undervalued.

work-journal

Keeping a Journal at Work

You may have a collection of notes, letters and journal entries you’ve recorded over the years documenting all of the personal happenings throughout your life. Sometimes we do this to blow off steam or to create a memory we can look back on to someday laugh at or see how far we’ve come.

Keeping a professional daily diary of your work is an excellent way to keep track of your progress as an individual and as a professional. Plus, keeping a running log of your accomplishments and short comings will serve as a great training tool for the next person to come behind you and fill your shoes. Maybe, when your performance review roles around, you can pull out your day-by-day recordings of your work and really impress an employer.

My challenge to you this new year is to start a work log. Before you shut your laptop and grab your keys each day to head home, take a few minutes to jot down what you did at work from the mundane to the extraordinary. Include lessons you’ve learned and mistakes you’ve made. You will find that recording these notes create a platform from which you can learn from yourself unlike every before.

Choosing Features for App Development

Steps to Creating an App

In the past weeks and months, I have been working tirelessly on developing some brand new web and mobile applications. Throughout the process, I have gained some great insight into the process behind making a great app. By no means is application development rocket science or an impossible feat, however there are definitely many pitfalls you need to be aware of that I encountered in the creation of my electronic room condition report application called uCondition.

5 Steps to Designing an App

  • Strategize: The most successful apps are developed by careful and methodical planning. When casting your vision for your new mobile application, you need to understand the exact functionality and features your tool will need to be successful. It is so easy to continually add features because it might enhance the app. However, the more you add, the clunkier the app can get.
  • Design: What separates an average app from a great app is its design. Take time to study similar apps and see what they’ve done right and see how they could improve and then take your research and apply it to your app. Go to iOSpirationt.com to get inspired.
  • Break: Testing your app is crucial. Intentionally go through the app and find bugs. Try different combinations that you think may not work and see just how good your app is.  Give your app to a few other people and see what they can do. Make sure that every corner of your application is tested thoroughly so that it will never fail.
  • Slim: Your app needs to go on a diet. I think Apple does the best job of slimming down products to make them extraordinary. After reading the biography of Steve Jobs, my eyes were opened to the power of slimming down your product to make it ultimately beef up your wallet. Jobs constantly revised his products taking a minimalist approach so that anyone could use Apple’s products and applications because they were simplistic and straightforward. Slimming down your app and removing clunky or unnecessary features is crucial in successful app creation.
  • Polish: Once you have come up with a great design that implements all the features you strategized and planned for while still being slim, it’s time to put on the finishing touches. Go through and double and triple check to make sure everything looks amazing and everything runs smoothly. Don’t let your app be released until your app is virtually perfect. Once you have followed the steps, it is time to put your newly created app out there on the market for all to use.

Satisfaction of Having an App

Publishing an app could very well be one of the most satisfying rewarding feats. When you search your product’s name in the App Store, you see it appear and you can count the downloads. Or when you tweet about it, you can see your app icon appear with a download link.

Good luck as you and your team venture out to create an app! Hopefully these steps will help you be successful in producing a revolutionary application!