the-six-secrets-of-raising-capitalGaining the interest of investors means gaining both their emotional involvement and financial confidence. The traditional methods such as idea-pitching and writing exhaustive business plans are weak approaches that can leave solid business ideas unfunded. In The Six Secrets of Raising Capital, Bill Fisher provides a model for reeling in investors. Good stories, rather than good ideas, are what draw investors into new opportunities. Winning business narratives are built on facts, conflict, and the promise of a happy ending.

Fisher believes that:

  1. Stories, not ideas, get funds. Investors are looking for good stories, with compelling heroes and villains. A business narrative is fact-based, memorable, and right to the point. It also has a happy ending.
  2. Bulletproof is better than a business plan. Nobody has the time or interest to read a business plan. Instead, a one- or two-minute bulletproof speech based on high credibility and expertise provides the best bet to interest investors.
  3. Money has personality. Angel investors are everywhere, in both informal and formal relationships. Whether working with a group of casual investors or with hedge fund managers, entrepreneurs should identify the right group of investors for a particular start-up.
  4. Investors like to be romanced. Investors are a lot like dates; entrepreneurs meet with prospective investors, get to know them personally, negotiate a relationship, and either form a partnership or break up. Toxic personalities in business, as in romance, must be strictly avoided.
  5. Capital can crash dreams. Negotiating the nuts and bolts of investor funding involves two categories of needs: economic and control. Both entrepreneurs and investors seek to secure the best financial return for themselves while also attempting to gain as much control over expenditures and operations as they can. Learning to negotiate from a point of decisiveness and firmness while maintaining politeness at all times is the best strategy.
  6.  Deals do not close themselves. The entrepreneur is responsible for micromanaging the closing of all deals and ensuring that funds are wired by investors.

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119613433Companies that spend their entire time focused on their core products or on introducing new products to new markets seem to be the norm. However, a less risky, less volatile way to increase revenues and profits involves edge strategies. In Edge Strategy, strategy experts Alan Lewis and Dan McKone help leaders recognize and capitalize on these opportunities. By exploring the permission they have earned with existing customers, and the latent value of existing assets, businesses can capitalize on new profit centers without investing a lot of capital or changing the visions of their companies.

In business, growth strategies usually include expanding into new core products and services. However, there are strategies many leaders overlook that are easier to implement, less risky, and less costly. These strategies focus on the customers a company has already acquired and assets it has already developed. There are three basic types of these edge strategies:

  1.  Product edge. Giving customers options to add or remove elements of a core offering.
  2.  Journey edge. Adjusting the company’s role to increase its support of the customer’s ultimate objectives.
  3. Enterprise edge. Applying resources that support the core products in a different context for a different offering or set of customers

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One Perfect Pitch by Marie Perruchet offers step-by-step guidance to entrepreneurs who are seeking funding for their ventures, or those who need to sell themselves or their products or services. By focusing on their one-of-a-kind stories and knowing the ins and outs of pitching etiquette, entrepreneurs can make their ideas unforgettable and make their businesses seem like exciting and worthwhile investments. In the hypercompetitive world of entrepreneurship, particularly in Silicon Valley, having multiple pitches prepared and practiced is essential for survival.

Pitching to investors is an essential part of entrepreneurship. The perfect pitch needs the following:

  • Storytelling.Every startup founder has encountered challenges along the way. The stories of overcoming these challenges are inspirational. They get investors’ attention and help them relate on a personal level.
  • Multiple iterations.The pitch that works for one investor will not be the right pitch for another investor. Smart entrepreneurs will have several versions of their pitches that cater to different types of investors. They will also be able to condense their ideas into one-minute elevator speeches.
  • Practice, practice, practice.The best presentations are those that do not feel scripted. They are delivered in a natural and relaxed manner. The only way to ensure this is to practice presentations over and over again.
  • An amazing presentation.Whether a presentation is a one-minute elevator speech or a longer, more formal presentation, it must wow the audience. It should have three acts, including a hook, a product demonstration, and an ask. The presenter must be authentic, confident, well spoken, and relatable.

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In The Oz Principle, Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman use Dorothy’s empowering journey from L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz as a metaphor to illustrate the transforming effects of personal accountability and ownership on organizational results. The authors demonstrate how accountability can be achieved through a four-step approach based on practical and proven results: Muster the courage to see it, find the heart to own it, obtain the wisdom to solve it, and exercise the means to do it. When properly applied, these steps enable leaders, managers, and frontline workers in any organization to overcome obstacles and deliver improved bottom-line results.

Whether a company is languishing or thriving, performance invariably improves when employees take on greater levels of personal accountability and ownership. Accountability is an empowering force that produces proven results and provides a solid foundation for long-lasting solutions. Following Dorothy’s journey in The Wizard of Oz, The Oz Principle provides four steps for avoiding victimization and achieving organizational accountability:

  1. See It. A negative situation must be carefully assessed through self-appraisal. There must be a realization that more can be done to achieve the desired outcome.
  2.  Own It. Finger-pointing and blame must be set aside. Ownership and responsibility for a situation and one’s role in it must be shouldered in order to move the organization forward.
  3. Solve It. It is important to find and apply new ideas that may help the organization overcome obstacles and anticipate what is ahead.
  4. Do It. Employees must bravely commit to following through with solutions to achieve the target outcomes.

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strategy-that-worksIn today’s fast-paced business environment, companies are constantly struggling to create value. While some may believe that this is simply due to external forces, many organizations in fact suffer because of the way they are managed that leads to a disconnect between their strategies and execution. In the Harvard Business Review Press title Strategy That Works, Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi discuss how exceptional companies such as Amazon, Apple, Danaher, Haier, IKEA, Lego, Natura, Starbucks, and others have bridged the gap between strategy and execution to become undisputed market leaders.

The authors’ research has revealed that, instead of following conventional business practices, these winning companies embrace five acts of unconventional leadership that allow them to become and remain coherent:

1. Committing to an identity. Instead of chasing growth, the winning companies define themselves by what they do, not just what they sell. They develop a truly differentiating identity based on their key strengths and use those strengths to guide them through today’s rapidly changing business environment.

2. Translating the strategic into the everyday. Instead of focusing on functional excellence, the winning organizations blueprint and build a handful of unique cross-functional capabilities that are at the heart of their strategy and drive profits.

3. Putting the culture to work. Instead of fighting their culture, winning companies identify and leverage the parts that work in their favor. This gives them a culture that reinforces their distinctive capabilities and breeds collaboration across functions. Coherent companies typically have three common cultural elements: emotional commitment, mutual accountability, and collective mastery.

4. Cutting costs to grow stronger. Instead of cutting costs across the board, winning companies cut costs strategically. They make investment decisions based on whether or not the investments will support their value propositions and distinctive capabilities.

5. Shaping the future. Instead of constantly reacting to market changes, highly coherent companies shape their future. They do so by continually recharging their capabilities systems, creating demand based on their privileged access to customers, and realigning their entire industries.

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20-minute-manager-difficult-conversationsWhether confronting a colleague, giving feedback, or filing a complaint with management, finding the right words and methods to express oneself during a difficult conversation can be a challenge. And while most professionals might prefer avoiding any workplace confrontation, doing so often makes things worse. Harvard Business Review Press’s 20 Minute Manager: Difficult Conversations not only demonstrates the benefits of confronting contentious issues head-on but also provides a step-by-step guide to transforming interpersonal conflicts into productive dialogue. The book highlights the qualities and skills professionals need to become better communicators and examines how they can maintain positive relationships at work.

The book explains that in order to transform contentious conversations into highly constructive ones, professionals must:

  • Pinpoint the root of the problem. To resolve an interpersonal conflict with a productive conversation, a professional must first have a clear understanding of where the problem is stemming from.
  • Develop self-awareness and emotional intelligence. Only when professionals look within and empathize with how others are feeling can they calmly navigate difficult conversations.
  • Prepare for the conversation. To ensure that a difficult conversation goes smoothly, a professional must carefully plan what he or she is going to say and anticipate the different ways the conversation may unfold.
  • Stay calm and collected. Difficult conversations can easily become emotionally volatile; therefore, professionals must always try to maintain a calm, neutral tone and ignore any inflammatory language directed their way.
  • Reflect. To have consistently better and more productive future interactions, professionals must take a moment after the conclusion of each difficult conversation to identify what did and did not work.
  • Follow up on the conversation in writing. To fortify the positive outcome of a difficult conversation, a professional must quickly reiterate and reinforce what was agreed upon with the other party in an email.
  • Become better communicators. Effective communication does not just make difficult conversations easier, it can also help professionals’ self-esteem, improve workplace relationships, and mitigate conflict.

118904536People often think they succeed based on their abilities alone, but their intention, energy, and presence can have a significant impact on their careers, transforming them into leaders people want to follow rather than those they have to follow. In Contagious Culture, Anese Cavanaugh describes how people can improve the cultures of their organizations using Intentional Energetic Presence® (IEP).

Cavanaugh also explains that:

  • People are responsible for what they create in their lives. People can shift the dynamics of their families, teams, and organizations as soon as they learn to control their actions and emotions to influence the people around them.

  • People are contagious. Each person in an organization contributes to its culture. This means that each person, regardless of his or her position, has an effect on and a responsibility to the organization.

  • People must “show up” for themselves and the people they lead. Showing up requires people to manage their intention, energy, and presence.

  • People must take care of themselves before they can care for others. People who lead and manage the growth of others must have the capacity to care for, lead, and grow themselves.

  • People can change their lives when they acknowledge their problems and failures. People who feel bad about or are overcome by circumstances should determine the source of their problems, take action, and ask for help when they need it.

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