Use the Right Tool for the Job

The AI/automation revolution is here. How can companies keep up?

AI / Automation is great, but it’s not an answer in itself. As with anything, you need to focus on using the right tool for the job. There are things that AI is great at, and there are things at which it’s terrible! Knowing how to select the right things to automate and where to use AI effectively is what will make the difference for innovative companies.

Give People a Peek Behind the Curtain

Name one less-commonly known way that brands can use social media to increase transparency with their audience/consumers.

Creating a social media account dedicated to showing life at your company is the best way to humanize your brand. When people see everyday office life, they subconsciously feel more connected to your brand, which leads to a greater sense of trust. It’s easy to get started… just create a lifeAt[your company name] social media account, and start posting!

Customer Advocacy will Be Crucial in the Future

What do you predict will become crucial to a successful brand strategy in 2018 as new trends emerge and gain ground?

With the rise of social media as platforms, it’s becoming easier for everyone to have a voice and advocate for products and services they love (the converse is also true for services they dislike). Going forward, brands really need to go the extra mile and ensure they’re delivering 110% on their promises, or the results will be catastrophically amplified.

Past Behavior is the Best Indicator of Future Performance

When evaluating potential new hires, what is your best secret tip to finding the right person who will complement your existing team and help your business grow to new heights?

The best way to determine if new hires are a good fit is bring them on for a short contracting engagement first. There’s no better way to see how they perform on a daily basis than to have them work as part of your team for a few months. I’ve always found the best hires have come from folks who have proven themselves during a short ‘temp’ period. It really takes all the guess work out of hiring!

Treat it like Another Day in the Office

When you work from home for the day, what is the first thing you do to minimize distractions and set yourself up for productivity?

The best way to maximize productivity at home is to re-create an office environment as much as possible. I treat any day WFH as though I’m in the office. I start with writing down 3 things I want to achieve that day and then work tirelessly to make sure I get through them. The best guard to your productivity is an office door that you can close, so try to set up in a room that can be closed off.

3D Printing will be Life Changing 5 Years from Now

What industry do you believe is going to have the biggest advancements in technology in the next 5 years, and why?

I firmly believe that the 3D printing movement is going to be the single biggest industry 5 years from now. Specifically, getting to the point where we will be capable of 3D printing human organs will be life changing! Imagine no more waiting on the donors list … need a new lung, or kidney, or liver? No problem, I’ll go print one out!

Shorten Your Checkout Process

What is one thing I can add to my online purchasing/checkout process that will improve sales?

Instead of looking for things to add to your checkout process, I think it makes more sense to look for things to remove. Make your checkout process as simple and quick as possible. Users want to feel safe and secure, so design your checkout to look professional and trustworthy and then concentrate on allowing users to get through as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Separate Requirements from Implementation

What is one valuable way you break down a complex technical project using PM software that has benefited your team?

Decomposing technical projects is about separating the project into logical components. First, I begin with a requirements gather phase where I speak to all relevant stakeholders to find out WHAT abilities the project / system / feature will need. I usually use a simple notepad app to jot things down and I’m very careful to not ask them how something should work, and I stop them in their tracks if they start to talk about implementation details at this phase.

Next, I put together a functional spec, which is a more formal description of WHAT the project or feature is, written in terms that engineers can understand.

From the functional spec, I can then start to work with engineers to design the architecture specification, which is a written description of HOW we are planning to build the feature or project (this is a more engineering centric document and often gets rather low level, whereas the Functional spec is more high-level).

Once we have the Architecture spec, the project is typically in a place where we can see what logical components will need to be created or modified and are able to split up the work and put it in our sprints.

Let Employees Own Projects and Do Not Micromanage

What is one way a bootstrapping entrepreneur can increase innovation while keeping costs low?

Give your employees ownership of their projects or areas. Putting someone in charge and giving them free reign without micromanagement is the best way to inspire innovation in a productive, cost-effective manner. People love responsibility, and if you’ve done your job correctly they should be qualified individuals who do not need a lot of hand-holding. Set them free and watch the outstanding results that will come forth!

Limit Meetings to Only Necessary People … and Always have an Agenda

What is one tip for ensuring every meeting is a meeting worth having?

Meetings can be productive if your team is vigilant and disciplined. To start, all meetings should have an agenda as well as an organizer. If you give someone the responsibility of setting the meeting topic, then they should also be responsible for setting the attendee list. Everyone does not have to be at every meeting, so the organizer should be mindful about only including people in the meeting if they are absolutely necessary.