Category Archives: Entrepreneur

Project Management in Perspective: The Panama Canal

 

Project Management in Action

 

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of volunteering at a meaningful event held by PMI (Project Management Institute) Metrolina Chapter for members of the military who are about to transition into civilian life. The 3rd Annual Veterans Transition & Skillfest Event serves as outreach to military personnel from the Fayetteville area interested in learning about career paths and certifications in project management.

 

This is a great event which provides networking and education to military members who are about to transition into civilian life. This event also centered on some of the connections between the military and project management including a look at some of the historic additions made to the project management world by the military. One of the most significant lasting contributions from the military world on project management was the construction of the Panama Canal, which was a decades long project that including death, corruption, innovation, uncertainty, and finally triumph.

 

 

Historical Foundation of Project Management

 

The discussion of the Panama Canal project and other important historical projects including the D-Day Invasion was a central theme of the keynote speech given by Jay Hicks. Hicks is a Florida based author of a series of books on military transition including The Transitioning Military Project Manager. The aspect of his presentation which I found most meaningful was centered on the historic relationship between planning effective projects and the military.

I believe looking to the past is a good way in understanding the underlying values of a topic. This is true in project management which is used across industries and has a foundation in the US Military. To understand the value that project management can add to an organization understanding from past projects and noting lessons learned from these past projects is one of the best ways to enhance project management terms.

 

This can be used by those looking to get started in the project management field, amateur historians interested in learning more about history, and those interested in gaining a better understanding about geopolitics. I am interested in all of the above areas so the chance to write and share some of this history is something I find to be intellectually delightful. So, let’s venture to the Isthmus of Panama and see how the improbable connection of the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean forever changed the world.

 

 

A Complex Project

 

The military undertook some of the most complex projects of the 20th century under the leadership of effective project planning and effective execution. Of all these projects the Panama Canal project which was completed under the direction of the Army Corp of Engineers stands as one of the most important.

 

 

The Panama Canal and Project Management

 

The most significant contribution to the world of project management from the Panama Canal project was the construction of the first work breakdown structure (WBS). This is a concept that is central to the core of operating and maintaining projects under budgetary and time constraints.  In the century since this project, practitioners around the world have implemented WBS into projects across the world to deconstruct the cost and schedule of a project into manageable pieces to best accomplish the project. By reframing the project into many pieces which need to be accomplished to reach the final goal the schedule of the project can better be handled, and the cost structure become more manageable. Over a century after the project began the WBS is still a major tenant of project management across industries showing the value that this adds to constructing and operating efficient projects.

 

 

The French Experiment

 

The French undertook the first attempt at constructing a canal across the Isthmus in the 1880s and was highlighted by corruption and ineffective project execution. The rampant spread of illness was a main factor behind the reason that the project was forced to be abandoned. In addition to this corruption, poor execution led to the halting of construction in 1889. The human cost of this ineffectiveness was massive with over 20,000 deaths. While the main factor behind the failed project was illness it was exacerbated by poor management. Although few projects will fail this spectacularly the understanding that projects often fail because of a range of factors which are made worse by ineffective leadership. The takeaway from this is that understanding that poor leadership is never the singular cause of a failure but can make shortcoming become more extreme and can lead to setting up a project for failure from the beginning.

 

 

The American Experiment

 

The history of this project tells a compelling story about a project on a massive scale which provided many technological innovations and helped propel the US onto a platform as a world leader during the 20th century. It is hard to believe but through the early 20th century the US was still seen as a minor player on the global stage with a few colonial holdings. By constructing the canal, the US was able to stand out as the undoubted leader of the western hemisphere and allow the US to shape the politics and international relations of a complex century.

 

By the time of the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt the ideas of constructing some type of canal across Central America dated back hundreds of years. The initial thoughts of construction on a canal began during the Colonial period of the 1600s and marked one of the first global projects undertaken by the US. This period was historically important as the US expanded onto the global stage during this era and the construction of the Panama Canal proved the leadership and effectiveness of American execptionalism. The success of the project centered on the ability to shift and build off the failures of the French project.

 

The first year of construction by the Americans appeared like the French project with high turnover rates and major financial losses. Eventually, the arrival of a new chief engineer, John Stevens led to a unique approach to the construction by not building but by building up the surrounding infrastructure of the construction zone beginning with eradicating the diseases which were so rampant. This major undertaking occurred by bringing in Dr. William Gargas who had previously worked to eradicate yellow fever in Cuba.

 

 

Creating Infrastructure

 

By spraying chemicals in the Panamanian jungle, the threat of diseases from mosquitoes was mitigated allowing for the work to begin on the supplemental infrastructure needed to complete the construction of the canal. Towns grew from the jungle as swamps were drained and critical infrastructure was completed. By breaking the project into manageable steps, the scope of the project grew from merely building a canal to limiting the factors which caused illness and creating the infrastructure needed for success. By repositioning what work was necessary to be undertaken the Panama Canal was able to be completed. This success shows the importance of planning for the intermediate steps and understanding that changes in the project will strengthen end results and overall efficiency of the project.

 

To understand the impressive feat the Americans accomplished by finishing this project it is important to examine the long and complex history surrounding the construction of a canal. A good place to take a further look is the attempt by the French to construct a canal decades before the Americans undertook a similar plan. This endeavor provides an example of the complexities of building a canal and some common themes that stand in the way of effectively executing a project to completion including rampant corruption.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

With such a strong history the military and project management have gone hand in hand for generations. Long before the corporate world adopted project management the military was utilizing complex projects under quasi project management offices from the Army Corp of Engineers as they constructed the Panama Canal during the early 20th century. The addition of the work breakdown structure (WBS) allowed this complex construction project to be deconstructed into a series of manageable tasks along the course of the project.

 

The completion of the Panama Canal stands as one of the greatest engineering accomplishments of all times. Combine this with the timing of the completion of the project as the US ascent on the international stage highlights the value that effective project management had in this historic event.  The opening of the canal was overshadowed by World War I and the spread of conflict in Europe. The completion of the Panama Canal meant that the Americans had made the steps to enter the top of the world stage influencing geopolitics and forever altering Central America.

Marketing Sales Automation Tech Stack

The Best Marketing and Sales Automation Tech Stack for B2B Businesses

Just about every company in America would publicly emphasize that they’re committed to revenue growth (this is more important than ever now). Yet simultaneously its common to try to cut corners and get cheap when it comes time to invest in tried and true resources that help them realize that goal. Further, these resources will easily pay for themselves and more by leading to significant ROI both monetarily and via efficiencies.

In 2019 I can’t believe companies still need to be convinced that they need things like CRM programs and marketing automation but here we are.

And let’s get one thing out of the way before going any further. No, having a free HubSpot account doesn’t count as investing in a CRM program. It may be slightly better than a Google Spreadsheet (yes some solely use that as their “CRM”) but it’s still a lame attempt at best (that’s not to knock them, they have a fine platform if you’re willing to pay the fees to upgrade it).

Fortunately, there is an upside whether you have a CRM and marketing automation system or not. Regardless if you have none, a poor/dysfunctional one, or even one that’s working decently well, now is a great time to make it even better. Take the time, make the investment, and ensure it’s a priority to get dialed in and implemented now to lead to massive dividends later.

Anything worth doing is worth doing right, so I’ve put together a list of the best tech stack in the game to work synergistically and seamlessly whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or a $100 million company with hundreds of employees.

To set the ground rules this piece is predominantly focused on marketing and sales automation. There are plenty of additional angles to take to assist with ERP, HR/recruiting, etc. (if there’s interest I’ll gladly do a follow up post). Also, there are a variety of effective approaches and platforms to pull this off so in some cases I’ll include secondary and tertiary options. If your favorite tool is omitted it doesn’t mean I’m not a fan, just trying to make this easier in a world with a vast amount of options to avoid analysis paralysis. I’m not going to let that be your excuse not to take action and execute.

Ok here we go.

Communication

This is obvious, but your base starts with communication, so email, mobile device, etc. Personally, my preference is overwhelmingly an Outlook and iOS base. However, Gmail/Google Suite or Android are just fine. I use both Outlook/Gmail and both accounts are connected/integrated with my CRM. If you’re working in teams, adding Slack to the mix is worthwhile as well. Price: $5-$10 per user per month.

CRM

This is really the major component that ties everything together and is the key to making everything else in your business work. If you’ve read anything I’ve written about CRM’s you know my #1 preference right now is Zoho One. It does so freaking much for your company for the price that it’s absurd. Their tagline is: “The Operating System for Your Business” and it’s 100% true. There are literally 40 applications that go along with it that could easily eliminate much of what you’re using right now. But if you love your other platforms and want to keep them it also integrates with them all.

A few steps allows you to sync and keep track of all your communication with clients and prospects, ensure you follow up with leads who fill out contact forms or simply visit your website (yes it includes a heat map and website analytics) and so much more. I also use it for project management.

Almost on equal footing (albeit it comes with a much higher price tag) is Salesforce, followed by HubSpot. These are both great platforms, they just cost a whole lot more to license and don’t come with the extra bells and whistles that Zoho One does. Price: $30-$40 per user per month.

Social Media

This section will be brief, your company has got to have at least the following accounts: LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If you want to add others to the mix more power to you, but this is the base. I use Zoho to manage, automate, and track my posting (which is included) but you could easily use Hootsuite too. Price: Free (Zoho) – $30 per user per month for Hootsuite.

Email Marketing

Another quick section: you need to be incorporating email campaigns into your marketing activities. Email isn’t dead, that’s a lie (neither is direct mail, but that’s for another time). This is one where you could get away with Zoho to manage it, yet I stubbornly have stuck with MailChimp. I love the platform, the company, and what it stands for and have remained loyal. You can start with a free account for under 2,000 contacts, I have more in my list, so I pay a monthly fee (the fee staggers based on your amount of contacts). Constant Contact is a fine option too. Both integrate with Zoho. Price: Free (Zoho) – $30 per month and up for MailChimp.

Contract/Proposal Management

If your company is like mine, you crank out a lot of proposals and contracts on a regular basis. While we customize each one there is still plenty of overlap and recurring content that we leverage often. Standardizing as much as possible with templates creates a HUGE advantage. It allows us to crank out much more in less time. Business is a numbers game, i.e. more activity leads to more volume, which leads to more sales and revenue. So being able to get more proposals and contracts out in a timelier fashion is going to make a tangible impact on your business alone. For this I use/recommend IntellyDoc. Adding this to your tech stack is going to make a major impact on your business. Price: Free (Freemium Model) – $150+ per month depending on your company’s situation.

Payment Processing

Not that your company is closing all this new business you’ve got to collect, right? I have an account set up with PayPal, Square, Stripe, Venmo, Zelle, Coinbase, and Gold Money to collect fees from clients. I recommend having them all nothing else in your business matters if you don’t collect the fees you charge. They all connect to your bank, which should connect to your bookkeeping platform, which then connects back to the CRM to tie in deal flow tracking and to assist with financial forecasting, etc. Price: Free aside from a percentage per transaction.

Bookkeeping

QuickBooks gets all the love, but I’ve been using Wave and it’s really great too (you’re probably sick of hearing this by now but Zoho has an application that comes with your Zoho One account too). QB integrates with Zoho, Wave doesn’t which is a minor annoyance, but I created a work flow to work around that.

Other recommendations:

Scheduling: Acuity is awesome to assist with scheduling meetings, demos, calls, etc. by allowing folks to see open times on your calendar and book appointments. They have a freemium model.

Ecommerce: Shopify.

Strengthening Project Management

 

In the current business world competition and adding value to your current operation is becoming increasingly important. Every organization needs to address and strategize how to attract and sustain top talent. The specifics differ from company to company and often depend on location and the necessary skill set to accomplish a specific task. Some challenges stand in the way of companies as they attempt to grow their company with a talented and engaged workforce. Staffing and operating strong project portfolios go hand in hand and should be thought of as ways to improve the efficiency of both specific projects and the entire organization.

 

Good organizations understand that to stand out resources and focus should be placed on finding people to fit roles. Looking outside your organization as well as within can assist in understanding and using human resources and project management to establish a company culture. Getting the right personnel can help improve solutions and reduce friction among current team members. Collaboration should be viewed from the perspective of bringing in new team members.

 

To grow, companies need to address how to maintain a competitive edge in their industry while growing internally. Some hurdles stand in the way of growing and sustaining a workforce which can handle projects and helps your organization grow.

 

The focus is placed on creating effective and simple project proposals for existing external projects while building up internal systems. Quickly it becomes evident that this would be a valuable investment which would provide an additional service line. Many organizations are in the same spot as WIMS in need of investing internally to increase the effectiveness of existing operations while making plans to expand into new business opportunities. This can be difficult, and close to impossible, without a developed internal project system which allows for maximizing the value of your team while fulfilling growth and expansion into new projects.

 

The project manager must document the steps across the project lifecycle and create an environment where every team member actively documents work and changes to the project. There should be a standard procedure for documenting the project which should be communicated up front and allow for input from workers. The project manager needs to ensure that accurate progress is being communicated. Communication is critical across the entire team and when the chain of communication is well constructed with multiple ways to raise questions and provide insights the entire team can focus on issues that need the most attention. Communication can help build trust across the entire team and allow for the specific focus areas of the team to be given more attention and be build up for sustained success.

 

The time to invest in project management solutions is now. If your organization already has a project management system in place the system should constantly be evaluated and additional improvements should be made when necessary. Planning to improve project planning poses the opportunity to create a project itself which can be used as a learning experience to incorporate new ideas. Every additional opportunity to expand projects provides the chance for members of the entire team to gain meaningful hands on practice across the development of projects.

 

Creating the final projects and tasks around all of us are truly unique with many complex aspects. A project involves many internal and external stakeholders who must be in constant communication. With many complex parts and changes the need to have a robust team which can deal with the changes that arise across the project is necessary. Taking the time to invest heavily in project planning will allow for the best-case scenario for reacting to unexpected changes. By having a developed and strategic project management system in place, organizations can better handle existing projects while also bringing in new work and expanding the project portfolio.

 

Mobile Insights from Deloitte

A Deloitte perspective entitled Failure to Launch outlines the steps to follow to build mobile applications which employees will want to use. This insight shows the importance of mobile technology in today’s world as well as the attention of consumers and business partners as they shift to the screens of mobile devices. An aspect of mobile applications which is also vital but does not always receive as much attention is the importance of developing applications for internal use.

 

The focus of this Deloitte writeup is to outline some steps to follow to improve the effectiveness and use of enterprise mobile apps for employees use. With many different applications and projects to juggle daily it is becoming harder for companies to unveil and implement internal tools for employees. The key to successfully unveiling an application internally should mirror an external product release and be strategically aligned with the mission of growth for your organization. These steps should serve as a guide to review not only new app development but also a benchmark for all internal processes and the perfect opportunity to take the time to invest time and resources into improving those processes. Internal processes are not the most exciting aspect of running a successful project but are critical to the success of specific projects and the sustained success of an organization.

 

The system below should be a guideline and not a hard set of rules to stick to. Leaders and decisions makers within an organization should take the time to fully analyze multiple data points and conduct informational interviews with members of their teams to collect the relevant facts and information from their industry and company. This wide amount of information will allow the greatest amount of data available to make a well thought out decision while also bringing together stakeholders through the entire process from idea generation to implementation.

 

Seven steps are laid out to build and successfully launch enterprise mobile apps:

  1. Strategy and Value: Have a clear goal behind what you are undergoing which can easily be conveyed and understood to those who are hearing about your idea for the first time.
  2. User input: Gather information beginning with idea generation and continuing through implementation from a broad range of potential end users.
  3. App Development: During the development process have steps in place to provide feedback and convey this to your team.
  4. Distribution: Announce the launch of the app and make it known to all parties who may be interested in finding more about the specific app launch and your company in general.
  5. User Support: After the release keep contact with your team and continue to gather feedback from them. When issues arise provide a way for them to easily find the answers to questions and develop a culture where workers interact and shape the future of products in a proactive environment.
  6. Supporting organization: Reinforce the practices in your organization though best practices and foster a tech and mobile friendly company culture.
  7. Continuous Optimization: Never stop gathering feedback and look to stay ahead of the game to be an industry leader with a robust internal team.

 

These strategies were formulated for enterprise mobile apps but the tips should be used to foster change in creating a workplace culture where design, creativity, and innovation propel your company and projects forward as an industry leader.

 

Source

“7 steps to building mobile apps employees will really use.” Deloitte. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/technology/articles/deloitte-digital-mobile-enterprise.html.

WIMS Client Spotlight Robin Branstrom Fine Art

WIMS Client Spotlight: Robin Branstrom Fine Art

Robin Branstrom has been an art consultant for over eight years, working with both individual collectors and business clients. She was formerly a partner in Robin & Robbins Art Consultants before forming Robin Branstrom Fine Art. Her company primarily operates out of North Carolina (Charlotte and Wilmington) and South Florida (based in Palm Beach) however she often travels around the country for projects (she’s particularly found of New York of course).

Robin Branstrom Fine Art works with both individuals and their private collections, as well as in the corporate section, curating collections for commercial properties and businesses looking to add some culture to their office spaces. She also works with interior designers to find the perfect piece for their client. Events are another specialty of the company, whether they have a fundraising/nonprofit aspect or simply spicing up a corporate networker, adding fine art to the mix is always a hit.

Often times it takes a special eye to find a perfectly curated piece that cohesively fits with their new décor. From Site Review to Installation, Robin Branstrom Fine Art connects the client with high caliber art that suits their living space which often involves the following steps:

Evaluation

We schedule an initial consultation to discuss your project. Our aim is to understand your business, and your budget.

Site Review

We visit the site or review architectural drawings to get a clear understanding of the space and identify potential art locations.

Presentation

We provide a broad selection of art options: paintings, prints, sculpture, works on paper, textiles and photography… as your project requires.

Selection

We work closely with you and your design team to select the art and specify the placement.

Framing

We offer numerous framing, matting and glass options to protect and present your art.

Installation and Lighting

We will expertly and securely install your art with an eye for detail and suggest the correct lumens to bring out the best in your collection.

Documentation

Upon request, we can provide documentation for your collection, including photo images, media descriptions and valuation.

 

Robin Branstrom Fine Art is continuing to grow and evolve its focus and services. Check out https://www.robinbranstromfineart.com for more information about Robin and her company and to follow along in their journey.

Business Bootcamp: Entrepreneur

Weekend Business Bootcamp: An Entrepreneurial Prompt

If you’ve been thinking about starting a business, whether as a full-time entrepreneur or as a side hustle, consider this your challenge, you call to action, the catalyst you may have been waiting for.

Maybe you’ve been procrastinating for seven weeks (or 1 year and 7 weeks) since making an entrepreneurial new year resolution. Or you’ve just been overwhelmed and stuck in a never-ending analysis paralysis loop. Perhaps you can’t find the perfect idea that best suits you and your skill set (yes, “imposter syndrome” is real and a dream killer). Either way, the best and only cure for any of the above is to take action and get started.

So, wherever you’re at in the process, I’ve pulled together some resources to act as your quick start guide, leveraging advice from experts across the internet, to help you kick things off and be ready to launch your business by Monday (no joke, it really can be done and isn’t as hard as you’d think).

Here are as many ideas as you can handle, along with some success stories for additional inspiration. After you settle on THE big idea, we move onto the initial steps to kick things off, including running some numbers and what you need to do to make it legit.

 

10 of the Highest-Paying Gig Economy Jobs of 2019

Artificial Intelligence/Deep Learning – $115.06/hour, Blockchain Architecture – $87.05/hour, Robotics – $77.46/hour, Ethical Hacking – $66.33/hour, Cryptocurrency – $65.37/hour, Amazon Web Services Lambda Coding – $51/hour, Virtual Reality – $50.18/hour, React.js Developers – $40.75/hour, Final Cut Pro Editors – $37.12/hour, Instagram Marketing – $31.23/hour”

The 20 Hottest Job Skills in 2019 That Will Get You Hired (Editor’s Note: This list doesn’t just make sense for a job, but as an Entrepreneur as well)

  • “A majority of the 20 hottest skills in the US job market are tech-related, according to a new list from freelancing platform Upwork.
  • In-demand tech skills are changing rapidly: 75 percent of the tech trends leading to job opportunities are new to the list.
  • Demand for mobile optimization, the rise in cybercrime and increasing investment in big data solutions are driving corporate hiring.”

Need a Business Idea? Here Are 55

100 Businesses You Can Start with Less Than $100

15 Businesses You Can Start for $10,000 or Less

“Daycare, Lawn Care Specialist, Court Transcript Proofreader, Bookkeeper, Real Estate Agent, Freelance Writer, Natural Childbirth Educator, Retail Arbitrageur, Blogger, Photographer/Videographer, Virtual Assistant, Info Product Salesperson, Dog Walker/Sitter, Personal Trainer, Estate Sale Manager”

7 Realistic Ways to Make Money Online

“Leverage the app economy, Use existing websites, Sell your own stuff, Sell as an affiliate, Start a blog, Email marketing, Webinars trainings”

9 Ways These People Make Money at Home with Nothing but Their Laptops

 

After you decide what business(es) you want to launch the next step is to read this article from Tim Ferriss and follow through on the exercises. How to Create a Million-Dollar Business This Weekend

Next, review this one: A Simple 6-Step Process to Starting a Small Business, and follow it up with How to Start a Small Business Online: “Seven tried and true steps for attracting visitors to your small business’ site — and getting them to buy.”

 

After you get through your weekend grind session and you’ve taken one of the hardest steps in becoming an entrepreneur, give me a call on Monday and let’s start building your website, marketing plan, and get you some clients. By this time next week, you’ll truly have something to celebrate. TGIF!

Resources from the Charlotte Alliance

The Charlotte Alliance

 

The Charlotte Alliance provides information on their website on a range of meaningful sources. This includes Data and Reports, Charlotte Regional facts, talent development, public policy positions, and a schedule of events providing valuable information to those interested in the business climate in the Charlotte region.

 

The website also provides links to recent expansion and investment projects around the Charlotte area. The information on the website shows how the Charlotte Alliance is a resource for the community which takes the time and effort to create a better Charlotte bringing the regions leaders together. This advocacy and collaboration is shown across a range of industries including some targeted industries which are important to the identity of the Charlotte business community.

 

Some highlighted industries include healthcare, information technology, and financial services. Through the advocacy and work of the Alliance the Charlotte region is displayed as a place of economic collaboration and innovation on the national and international stage with a diverse and knowledgeable workforce.

 

Target Industries

 

The Charlotte Alliance has a team that is dedicated to highlighting the unique business community in Charlotte placing a spotlight on some specific target industries. This information paints the picture of a region with a talented and diverse workforce that is ready to drive growth into the future. These industries include Financial Services/Fintech, Advanced Manufacturing, Healthcare, Information Technology, and Logistics benefit from a well-trained workforce and the presence of area universities and college who have relationships with major area employers.

 

By focusing on these industries which are expected to be of high growth and demand as the economy changes over the coming decades the Alliance has placed the Charlotte region in a good position to grow and gain momentum. These industries will attract interest and investment in the highlighted industries along with adjacent and support companies.

 

Financial Services/Fintech

 

The first image of Charlotte for many people is of the towers of Uptown and a city full of bankers who moved to the area from the Northeast and Midwest. Many of the largest employers in Charlotte are rooted in the financial services industry. Charlotte is seeing new players in the growing Fintech sector grow and invest in the area including AvidXchange and Lending Tree. These new companies along with the established banking community including Bank of America and Wells Fargo mean that some of the top financial services talent in the world reside in and around Charlotte.

 

Healthcare

 

The Charlotte region is increasingly being recognized regionally, nationally, and internationally as a healthcare center with access to some of the nation’s best talent and facilities. The healthcare industry in the Charlotte region is diverse and includes hospitals, research, and biotech manufacturing. With many schools offering degrees related to the healthcare industry the region boosts a strong talent pool to fill healthcare positions at companies including Novant Health and Atrium Health which are two of the region’s largest employers.

 

Information Technology

 

The technology sector is an increasingly important aspect of the Charlotte region combining the talent of transplants to the region, recent college graduates, and seasoned tech professionals. As companies increasingly seek out ways to incorporate better data into their decision-making processes tech companies are seeing some of the biggest growth among any industry. In Charlotte, the presence of some of the largest financial and healthcare companies means companies can use the innovation of established companies to work on projects. These companies are able to access the dynamic talent pool and provide innovative specialized technological services. Top area employers in the sector include consulting firms like Accenture and Deloitte and financial services companies including AvidXchange and Lending Tree.

 

Concluding Thoughts

The tourism campaign for the city of Charlotte is Charlotte’s Got A Lot which could also serve as the slogan for the economic development in this area. Charlotte and surrounding counties have a highly skilled talent pool with knowledge in a vast range of industries including financial services, healthcare, and technology/analytics. The Charlotte Regional Business Alliance works to foster and develop the relationships between company leaders, public officials, and companies interested in relocating to Charlotte to foster collaboration and showcase the vibrant and diverse economic activity across the region.

 

Reflections on Linchpin by Seth Godin

 

I recently read Linchpin by Seth Godin and have some reflections and thoughts from the book which I want to share. Godin an author, blogger, and speaker provides the tagline Are You Indispensable?

 

 

This book is a perfect read for anyone who is interested in answering this question: In the ever-evolving world how can you stand out from the crowd?

 

I will highlight one section of this book which impacted me the most and suggest anyone who is interested seek out additional information

 

The section which I want to focus on discusses the concept of the American dream and how it changes as the business world changes. On pages 32-33 of Linchpin Seth Godin proposes the concept of The New American Dream which shows how the concept of the American Dream changes as the business world adapts. The most common aspects of the American Dream include having a well-paying job, living in a good house, and living a comfortable life. This idea is a byproduct of the post-World War II industrial American culture where corporate America promised workers a good paying job and a sense of security.

 

The Old American Dream:

 

  • Keep your head down
  • Follow instructions
  • Show up on time
  • Work hard
  • Suck it up

 

This shows how work during this era was built on showing up to the office or plant, following the rules, and not making any fuss. In this world, the role of management controls the decisions within the business world and access to a better life. A successful worker specialized in a certain task or a set of tasks where they could help the organization eventually provide a finished service or product. With most of the power held by managers the employees worked and had an understanding that they would be rewarded for following orders and not striving to become innovative.

 

The Old American Dream was around during a time when the workforce was defined by company towns and low employee turnover. An agreement was usually agreed on that when workers joined a company, they would not become burdensome to the firm by raising questions and would instead follow orders and receive payment and a means for a better life. As technology and society changed and evolved the world of work and the role the employee had in the organization changed. American companies faced additional competition from foreign competitors and technology changed the roles that employees did. Now merely showing up at work was not enough and employees needed to set themselves apart. Since the workforce has changed Godin outlined a new set of skills needed to achieve the American Dream.

 

The New American Dream

 

  • Be remarkable
  • Be generous
  • Create art
  • Make judgement calls
  • Connect people and ideas

 

These skills are increasingly soft skills and can not be written in a job description. These are the skills which the Linchpins possess. The term linchpin is the new class of workers Godin proposes between management and labor who create, bring people together, and help get the idea makers from their company into the same room. To become a Linchpin an employee needs to show their employer that they can create innovative projects and work well in teams. The changes in work shows how to become a successful employee it is necessary to have strong soft skills, be a good communicator, and work well in teams.

 

Are you a linchpin?

Do you lead others even if it is not in your title?

Take some time to think about how you can become a linchpin for your organization through creating and leading those around you.

Blanq Commercial Real Estate

WIMS Client Spotlight: Blanq Commercial Real Estate

Blanq Commercial Real Estate is a commercial real estate firm specializing in buying, selling, leasing, and Property Management of commercial real estate located in Charlotte, NC, with operations across surrounding counties. They also recently expanded to the Research Triangle Park area and opened an office there.

Blanq Real Estate is focused on providing diligent work on every project from the beginning of the transaction through completion. When dealing with commercial real estate projects, Blanq takes a holistic approach to maximize the value and understand the needs of clients. Operating this way serves as a valuable asset in the real estate industry since the ability to connect with clients and understand their needs sets good commercial real estate firms apart from great firms. Blanq combines knowledge and expertise in the commercial real estate industry with a firm foundation including strategic partnerships with vendors and service providers.

Clifford Blanquicet, Jr has sold over 20 properties and executed over 70 leases over the last three years in the Charlotte Region. This expertise and diverse experience across a range of different types of real estate holdings allows Blanq to serve clients across different industries handling commercial transactions as they purchase or lease real estate.

From a financial standpoint Blanq provides services which are extremely beneficial to their clients by maximizing the value of each property managed. This is accomplished through a personalized approach where time and energy is spent to ensuring clients’ interests are aligned with the specific location of their real estate holding. The Net Operating Income (NOI) of each property Blanq manages has grown over time through a mixture of findings cost saving measures and leasing vacant spaces to maximize revenues. The ability to focus on measures to cut costs and grow revenues directly relates to the effectiveness of the Blanq team in communicating and responding to clients and strategic partners.

Blanq also offers a shared coworking space called BlanqCanvass CoWork for those looking to looking to have a professional address, professional office, and conference room to meet clients for their business? It’s located right near uptown Charlotte, offers free parking, use of conference room, craft beer and more, it’s what is needed to take your business to the next level.

WIMS Client Spotlight Sourceree

WIMS Client Spotlight: Sourceree

Sourceree is a cutting-edge technology company aiming to foster innovation and the collaboration of bright minds across industry, government, military, and academia. They are growing rapidly and looking to expand and bring on new professionals with a variety of open positions (check out the website). They have offices in the Pittsburgh/Johnstown, PA area, Arlington, VA, and Washington D.C.

They have an environment where they make things happen. Fast. They have the atmosphere to urge collaboration and idea development. Fun. They strongly desire to drive innovation over the edge. Exciting.

Sourceree supports programs across offices in the U.S. Department of Defense and Commercial Enterprises cross pollinating ideas to lead change, adding value by introducing proven techniques in management, implementing habits to increase productivity, and providing leading edge engineering support to meet any challenge. Sourceree is comprised of program managers, engineers, cyber security experts, and analysts who are experts in their respective fields. Together they make a team with expansive experience and complementing skill sets that enable us to deliver simple innovative solutions.

Their service offerings include the following:

STRATEGY AND MANAGEMENT

Sourceree works with all levels of an organization to develop a comprehensive strategy and implementation plan, by assessing the client’s strengths and weaknesses. Our group advises the client on the best way to achieve their goals and manage their program or business more efficiently. Some of the ways we accomplish this is by building a flexible operating framework that will improve policies and practices, team collaboration, and information delivery.

CYBER SECURITY

Sourceree uniquely assists clients in strengthening their systems in the face of a cyber-attack by implementing an agile lean management approach to design, and managing cyber security operations with program managers and stakeholders. Our expert team members have extensive experience in addressing risks to critical Defense programs, and can support clients in fortifying their information systems and technology at any criticality level.

SYSTEMS ENGINEERING

Sourceree employs well-versed engineers to effectively manage, lead, and support large and highly visible programs. Sourceree assists clients by developing systems, computer hardware, and/or applications. Using a lean management approach allows us to deliver solutions that meet client needs quickly and cost effectively. Sourceree also provides understanding on how the system works, what best approach aligns with a client’s strategy, and how to take advantage of it.

SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT

Software Development includes research, development, prototyping, modification, reuse, re-engineering, and maintenance to build a software product. Sourceree pushes to use agile methods, short design, development, and test cycles to deliver as quickly, and often, as possible to meet clients’ needs and desires by developing applications for client use.

ANALYSIS

Sourceree, led by an all-source analyst, conducts intelligence analysis for clients in the areas of supply chains, commercial maritime shipping, and financial networks. By pulling resources from various data sources and systems, Sourceree analysts investigate commercial operations, industry trends, counterfeit products, and network connections to meet the objectives of its clients.

PLATFORM CONSULTING

Sourceree works with clients to create solutions for single and multi-sided technology platforms. Platforms, in this instance, are technologies, products, and services that create value by enabling direct interactions between two or more clients—or participant—groups. We work with clients to not only define their Platform Strategy, but also develop the solution to fully exploit their platform.