Category Archives: Personal Development

Starting a Company: When Do You Quit Your Day Job?

At a recent Charlotte Business Group event I moderated a panel on entrepreneurship. We hit various topics that provided the audience with a ton of value, so I wanted to share some of the key takeaways from the discussion with you. The event featured a great group of local entrepreneurs that covered a wide range of topics about starting, and running, a company.

Our panelists included:

To begin, as far as the “when do you quit your day job” question, there wasn’t a specific answer that fit everyone, as it’s a deeply personal situation. It truly varies for every individual. And in some cases, the answer is never. So, as you can imagine, most of the conversation surrounded providing details about what worked for each of the panelists, as well as them offering various ideas with respect to the way they thought about (act acted on) that at the time.

That being said, below are some of the key takeaways from the evening. There was a lot to unpack and share so I may come back and edit/add more in the coming days.

Ideas for businesses come from a variety of places. In some cases, you can innovate, break, and then reinvent the wheel. In others you can make small tweaks to existing business models that work elsewhere. Or you can find a specific niche and build from there. Business opportunities arise from a multitude of potential catalysts. One great takeaway that stuck with me was to use Bill’s “if you spend 30 minutes researching a problem and aren’t sold something (i.e. served ads) within that time frame you just might have a business idea.”

Just Start. You need to have a little bit of risk involved; you can never get rid of it completely so don’t let that keep you from starting. You don’t need to have absolutely everything figured out. The important thing is to take action consistently. Bill had another great gem; he created a list of 100 things/task and did 1 a day. By sticking to that he started his company in 100 days.

You don’t always NEED to quit your day job. It’s ok to keep your day job long term, keep it for a while as you get traction in the business, or “jump off the cliff and build the plane on the way down.” Everyone has a different risk tolerance and level of resources available to them. Others like Chris just like and prefer continuing to keep their job as they grow their businesses and don’t feel the need to quit.

Know your target market. Learn about what they value, the problems they need solved, and what needs they need met. These are the fundamental elements of launching a business. Market fit is crucial to identify the initial opportunity. Scalability comes later.

Create systems to lean on. As you build your business you want to create systems, procedures, automations, etc. to make sure the business can (eventually) run without you. You don’t need the latest and greatest technology for this, just implement processes that work to help you stay on top of managing everything as things can get overwhelming quickly.

Delegate the things you’re not good at. Pretty much everyone mentioned getting a good bookkeeper/accountant to manage the finances (as that wasn’t necessarily any of their strengths). That’s just an example to reiterate that in order to grow your business you need help and need to be able to delegate the tasks that aren’t suited to your strengths. This may take time as resources are limited, you may need to wear many hats in the beginning, but make this a priority as soon as you can.

There are a variety of ways to fund your business depending on your goals. This is yet another personal preference. Some people bootstrap, building with sales and revenue as they go. That was Elechia’s preferred approach as she met with doctor after doctor, potential patient after patient and growing along the way. Others raise money from investors to continue growing and scaling. You can also leverage debt with SBA loans, etc. There is plenty of research out there about ways to fund and grow your business.

Know what your long-term goals are. While you don’t need to do this first, eventually you should try to have an exit strategy in mind (or the lack there of) as you initially build your business. Whether you plan to eventually sell it, build a business you want to work at for the long haul, or simply want a side-hustle, they’re all fine as long as you’re transparent and honest with yourself and your partners.

All that being said, it’s ok to just have a short-term side hustle that only lasts a year or two and provides some additional income along the way. There doesn’t have to be a long-term vision if that’s your primary objective. As was mentioned several times, each situation and individual is different.

There are many other things to consider when starting and running a business. This was just a small snapshot of a great evening filled with plenty of additional takeaways. What are some of the things you’d add to the list?

The Charlotte Business Group has a lot more educational events like this planned where we share knowledge and experiences from local professionals. We aim to continue nurturing the business and entrepreneurial spirit and providing opportunities for the community to do so. Make sure to keep an eye our for the upcoming schedule!

navigating networking

Navigating Networking

Recently at the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance’s 2nd Annual YP Leadership Convergence: Navigating the Career Jungle Gym (#YPLeaderCon) I moderated a panel about networking. This break out session was one among many others, along with some incredible keynote speeches and a great day full of, well networking.

The panelists I interviewed were:

Since we received such great feedback from our session, I wanted to share a few of the key points with you to highlight some of the primary takeaways.

Be authentic and a real person. People can spot a fake pretty easily and know when they’re just being sold. Begin a conversation with cultivating a real connection by being transparent.

Get to know people for who they are, not just their job. Yes, it’s common that the first thing people often ask in a networking setting is, “What do you do?” But you’re allowed, and encouraged, to take a different approach.

The elevator pitch: Yes, you should have one, but know when to use it. When to use the elevator pitch often comes much later in a conversation, and typically when it’s prompted by the other person. You should be able to comfortably speak about who you are and what you do naturally of course, but generally you can keep the elevator pitch in your back pocket.

Add value to others and give back. Every interaction doesn’t always lead to a sale or referral right off the bat. Rather, those often take time (roughly 5-7 touch points on average). If you focus on adding value to others first and going out of your way to help them it’s more likely that will be reciprocated later. That’s not a guarantee that it will. But trust us, just try it and see how well it works out for you.

Be strategic about where you spend your time. We all have a limited amount of time in the day. Be thoughtful and which events you plan to attend in order to get the most value for your precious time. Further, when you do commit to attending an event make sure to bring your best self and be present.

Leverage technology, (i.e. your phone, Outlook, LinkedIn, a CRM system, etc.). It’s pretty much impossible to remember every single person you meet, who you’ve made plans with, or where you met them, among the infinite amount of information we consume each day. Create a system and make sure to use it. If it’s in real time the better. Add their contact info into your phone and send the calendar invite right then and there (when appropriate) to maximize efficiency.

Follow Up! This is by far the most important tip yet so many people fail to do it. As they say, “the fortune is in the follow up”. Try to do so in as timely a fashion as possible to ensure you continue cultivating the relationship.

There are plenty of other networking guidelines to adhere to, what are some of yours?

 

For additional context on the YP Leader Con conference’s theme this year the description was: “The career path for a young professional often looks more like a jungle gym than a corporate ladder. During a full day of learning and exploration, you’ll gain insight from a diverse array of speakers with varied career and leadership paths.” It was a dynamic day packed with incredible content. If you live in, or near Charlotte make sure to sign up for next year’s conference!

2019 YP LeaderCon

 

On August 2, 2019 I had the pleasure of attending the second annual YP LeaderCon held by the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance. The event was at the beautiful UNCC City Center and brought together emerging leaders from around the Charlotte region. By attending this event I was given an opportunity to learn and grow, hearing from speakers and other professionals in their 20s and 30s while validating the steps I am taking in beginning my professional career and helping to grow my personal brand.

 

The sessions I attended included a range of topics including networking, financial planning, the power of professional organizations, and the importance of mentorship in personal and professional situations. Across these sessions a common theme continually arose which was the power of taking ownership of your actions and directing the course of your life.

 

Beginning a career is certainly challenging requiring an individual to balance paying off debt including student loans, becoming acclimated with the culture of your new job, navigating the job market, and deciding which professional organizations to join and prioritize which events to attend. Sometimes the most important thing to do during the initial years of your career is to establish the skills that will drive your entire career while also understanding what attributes you value. We can become so accustomed to saying yes that saying no to things that do not provide value to our lives should be where we focus our main energy.  Having an understanding of the things we truly value will help prioritize decision making and reduce time spent on unnecessary actions.

 

During the event, a topic that was highlighted across sessions is the importance of seeking help from others.  The session led by Lisa Medley explored the value and importance of seeking out resources through mentorship, sponsorship and coaching. Many people understand the importance of mentorship from the professional sense yet the aspirational, personal, and family should be used to create buckets of different mentors to become a better person across all aspects of your life. This is an area I will look to improve on by seeking additional mentors and using the people around me as resources. By gaining skills and relationships from mentors I will be able to learn from them while also providing them new skills as I continue to form strong relationships through mentorships and as I progress in my career further mentoring others with the information I learn.

 

I value the time and the opportunities I had during the YP LeaderCon and the importance the Charlotte Regional Alliance places on growing young talent in the entire metropolitan region. Seeing professionals beginning their careers I could see the dynamics of the modern workforce as I gathered with young professionals who worked for startups, Fortune 500 companies, and regional firms with a strong presence in Charlotte. One of the top reasons I am proud to call the Charlotte area home is the commitment to fostering business relationships and improve the entire community. The hints of Southern charm that are spread across the shining city of Charlotte shows the power of the New South. The sessions were filled with young people from across the country who have moved to Charlotte because of its robust job market and abundance of recreational activities. This trend should continue as more people and companies are attracted to the region and top talent is retained to ensure sustainable growth across the entire Charlotte region into the future.

Summer Reset

Where has the year gone!!!??? Is this a thought that is going through your mind too? The calendar has turned to June and the temperature has increased. The summer travel season kicked off Memorial Day and will last through Labor Day with millions of Americans taking trips from National Parks to beaches. In addition to the much-needed break and the refresher a summer vacation offers the opportunity to revisit goals from earlier in the year, make new goals, and improve the world around you.

 

The best way to hold yourself accountable to goals is to set ones that push you towards success while having realistic time frames. Instead of making a series of goals in January for the entire year plan out different times in the year for goal setting and make more realistic goals. Break down goals by season and plan goals for the winter, spring, summer, and fall. Now that the summer is here take some time to take steps back and revisit what priorities you have. During this season of travel and relaxation goals and improved decision-making go hand in hand.

 

Everyone has different ways of formulating goals and inevitably you are the best person at determining if you can reach your goals. By understanding how some of your past goals have gone future goal making may be easier to make. I know that for me I need to be in the right mindset to begin making goals and often set time aside to clean and organize things to push myself into setting and achieving my goals. The beautiful thing about people is that everyone is different, and no two people will take the same path and establish the same series of goals. Instead of following the conventional New Years Resolution, find a system that works for you to create goals so that you are working with a strong framework to ensure that the path you set out on is built with a good foundation.

 

As the warm months of June, July, and August take hold I will offer a few suggestions on how you can get into a mindset to help yourself make the most effective goals on both the personal and professional level. Take time to unplug and walk away from technology to revisit where you stand in your life and what changes need to be done. The noise of the internet, particularly social media, can drive decisions to be based on short term outcomes and not with a focus on long-term sustainability. Take a weekend or a week to go and experience the world outside of the internet sphere and use this experience to think about and prioritize what is important in your own life.

 

Whatever goals you set aside take the time to identify someone who can help you along the process. I am a strong believer in collaboration and the power it can add. Seeking assistance when needed shows the ability to take a step in the right direction while working through processes with someone else and gain their opinion. Listening to others is important and can be difficult, more so for some people.  Listening to others and taking the time to gather information and talk things out with others before making critical decisions can be crucial. Being in the right mindset and talking with others can spur new ideas and open new perspectives.

 

Summer serves as an opportunity to visit new places, grilling with friends, and taking family vacations which provide lifelong memories but also can cause stress levels to increase through planning and coordinating group activities. These projects and endeavors should be undertaken in a meaningful manner where they serve the goal of making everyone’s experience more enjoyable. Take the time to make reflections on what occurred and use these experiences to strengthen your goal making process.

 

The summer is not a break but should serve as a reset period. Our world is constantly going at full pace yet many of the most important things that will happen in our lives are the simple things that we might miss if we do not take the time to enjoy them. Take the time moving forward to thank those around you in service industry positions, write meaningful handwritten letters to loved ones, and partake in community events to improve the place where you live. These rewarding tasks will reap many rewards and can improve your outlook on life and push you to make better decision while also becoming more present in your life. We only get one life to live so let’s take steps to make it the best life we can for ourselves and those around us. Start with the simple things making an effort to improve your life and in the process making the world around all of us a better and more civil place because it is needed more than ever in our current time.

What is 10X Tom Schaefer Jr.

What is 10X?

If you’re an entrepreneur, a sales professional, work within your city’s start-up ecosystem, or are a follower of one of the dozens of personal/professional growth coaches, chances are you’ve seen or heard of “10X”.  This has become a hot term in the last half-decade, and I wanted to break down my interpretation of what this means, and how it’s meant to be applied to your efforts.  It started as a way to describe the “best” engineers who are 10 times as productive as their “worst” counterparts in the field of software development.  The term has been appropriated, perhaps most famously by Grant Cardone in his book “The 10X Rule”, as an understanding of the levels of effort and thinking required to break out of the average results and truly succeed.

The first component in The 10X Rule (get it here free, just pay shipping) takes a closer look at how we think about success, and how we set goals.  While we’re taught “slow and steady wins the race”, this puts our mindset in a place where average is OK.  However, average is a sliding scale.  If everyone is struggling, your struggles are justified.  We set smaller “realistic” goals, limiting our belief in what is possible.  I believe this way of thinking is rooted in the fear of failure, so we celebrate even the smallest victories.  Failure is necessary for growth.  As we fail, we learn what doesn’t work and improve our efforts for the next attempt.  Welcome failure, set audacious goals that are “10X” what you originally thought possible.  10 new clients a month instead of 1.  Raise $1 million for your start up instead of $100K.  Thinking in these magnitudes, even a “failure” of getting 3 new clients or raising $200K is still better than the original goals.

Now thinking at a higher level than before is great, but making them happen can seem daunting.  This is where the second part kicks in, and understanding the order of magnitude of your actions comes into play.  Break down what it takes to reach your goal.  Does it take 5 meetings to get that 1 client?  Schedule 50.  Does it take 10 calls to get 5 meetings?  Make 100 calls.  Don’t have 100 people to call?  Start building your network by sharing what you do with others and ask them if they know anyone that fits your ideal client profile (ICP).  Start somewhere and create the activity to get to the next step.

“But Tom, I’m a solopreneur and I’m already working 60 hour weeks, I can’t possibly work 600 hours a week, it’s impossible.”  or “Those numbers aren’t realistic, in my industry a 20% growth is considered a huge margin.”  Excuses are a justification of our fears.  We stay in a comfort zone to avoid failure.  Well a solopreneur can leverage tools like CRM to manage a sales and marketing strategy, making scalability much more attainable. A strong digital marketing campaign can grow an audience 100 times what was previously done with more traditional methods at a fraction of the price (and often at no cost at all).  The fear of failure is stopping more people from succeeding than the actual failures ever will.  Stop thinking small and start doing, because nothing ever happens overnight, and every great journey begins with a single step.

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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.

 

March Madness and Project Management

 

Every March around the country the attention of the sports world turns to basketball. March Madness has provided some of the most memorable moments in the world of sports including NC State coach Jim Valvano celebrating on the court with his team after upsetting the favored University of Houston to win a national championship. On Thursday the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament continues with the Sweet Sixteen vying for a spot in the Elite Eight and finally the opportunity to compete in Minneapolis for an opportunity to play in the Final Four and cut down the nets as National Champions.

 

The stars of the tournament stand out through last minute buzzer beaters and crazy blocked shots. While the results and performance on the court will stand out and be remembered, decisions which shaped the teams in the tournament are varied and years in the making. A complex series of decisions must be by the staff. Coaches must make their recruiting class strong to complete their roster for game day decisions. Once players are with the staff must decide how to use players in the most effective ways with their different skill sets.

 

 

Beyond the impressive baskets which live on in highlight reels are a series of complex decisions that shape the core of the team involving which players are on the court during important times. The major actions which set up great stat lines include conditioning and focusing on making the simple actions stand out.

 

Before any major on the court play can occur the structures and support need to be in place to ensure players can play at the highest level. Great coaches can create situations where good players become great players and average players become good overperforming what many would expect of them.

 

Sports provides valuable insights and life lessons which is much greater than the outcome of a game including how to manage a team, how to play beyond your resources, and a great opportunity for young people to gain leadership skills. Many skills from the sports world mirror difficult situations in business including dealing with adversity, working together on projects managed by a holistic team, and accomplishing tasks above and beyond expectations. Coaches and players need to work together to accomplish little goals in order to strengthen their team and to stand out and win. These ideas can be transformed from the court and into the business world with practice and understanding, by focusing on the small goals a much better final product can be produced.

 

While the big games pop up on your tv screen this weekend keep in mind how many little decisions made the teams who they are. If sports can teach you one thing it is to focus on the simple things and acknowledge what you do right in order to improve your overall work. Everyone can learn and improve by focusing on the simple things and staying on target and staying focused.  Mapping out a series of steps to accomplish your goals, reward yourself and your team for accomplishing steps, and constantly seeking feedback is the way to construct a successful basketball team as well as improving projects within your own professional and personal life.

 

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.

Building Personal Growth and Development

The New Year is well underway and here in Charlotte the past week actually feels like winter. The warm Spring-like weather that started the year is a fleeting memory. The beginning of the year is a good time to think warm thoughts of a beach somewhere or the fact that spring is coming. It is also a good time to think about some goals and steps to make 2019 a more productive year.

I am sure many of you have seen your fair share of articles on life hacks and ways to increase productivity to make 2019 the best year of your life on social media, another blog, or an online publication. I think the best way to move through these articles is to focus on some smaller changes that can be made to improve your outlook on life, productivity, and health. I might suggest you check out “Your Future Self”, Fast Company’s series on improvements that can be made, some simple and others more time intensive to improve your life.

These articles are worth exploring since they include topics that are relevant to growth across professional and personal skills. For the entrepreneurial spirit, might I suggest reading “Your 12-month guide to building your side hustle this year” by Lindsay Tigar. Tigar uses this article to highlight some specific monthly calls to action over the next 12 months from building your side hustle. For example, January begins the year long journey with a period of Self-Assessment. The beginning of the year should serve as a time to outline and consider what exactly having a side hustle means for you and how it will affect your loved ones, taxes, and full-time job. Having a side hustle is hard work but by following some self-evaluation during the first three months of the year this will help build the foundation for a new side hustle or improve your existing strategy before heading into April and Q2 with an improved idea and the right attitude to succeed.

The final article, “How to redesign your days to give you back a few extra hours every week” by Elizabeth Grace Saunders outlines what steps to take to get more out of your time during 2019. While this sounds like a lofty concept, the steps to follow are quite simple. Saunders breaks down how to gain time into these categories quitting something, limiting something, pausing something, delegating something, adding something. I have chosen to limit my time on social media while filling that time with the addition of re-reading some of my favorite books to get a new perspective on them. I urge you to take a step back and see if there is an aspect of your life where you could add, delegate, limit, or pause tasks to make your overall week more rewarding and fulfilling.

As 2019 is already two weeks old which is hard to believe. In this New Year, taking a few minutes each day to focus on personal or professional development can reap many benefits. Instead of trying to stick to rigid resolutions see if making a few small changes will help improve your mindfulness and productivity going forward.

Reading List:

Tigar, Lindsay, “Your 12-month guide to building your side hustle this year” Fast Company. Retrieved 14 January 2019 from https://www.fastcompany.com/90279105/your-12-month-guide-to-building-your-side-hustle-this-year.  

Sounders, Elizabeth Grace, “How to redesign your days to give you back a few extra hours every week” Fast Company. Retrieved 14 January 2019 fromhttps://www.fastcompany.com/90280742/how-to-redesign-your-days-to-give-you-back-a-few-extra-hours-every-week.

“Your Future Self” Fast Company. Retrieved 14 January 2019 from https://www.fastcompany.com/section/your-future-self.

-Craig Oliver

WIMS, Inc.

2019 Perspectives

I might be a little late to the game, but I want to start off and wish everyone a Happy New Year! By now most of you will be back to work after what I am sure was some much-needed time with family and friends. Instead of the typical Resolutions or Trends for 2019 I want to share something different with you. A look at some perspectives of what will happen over the next 12-months with a focus on events ranging from local developments with an impact on the Charlotte area to national factors.

Instead of making predictions I want to outline a few important issues which I think will generate news throughout the year and define the year for countless households. These topics are by no means definitive and I think it will be interesting for me to look back at the end of the year to see how this post holds up after a year. Some of these includes events that will create economic impact in Charlotte including the hosting of the NBA All-Star Game. Financial topics are sure to be discussed often and I see student loans as a topic which will continue to impact the purchasing power and economic decisions of millions of Americans.

This is first year that I can remember when I will not be in a traditional classroom. After years of having classes through the winter months and spring I am now entrenched in the working world where January begins an exciting new year. In this aspect it is like how September begins a new and exciting chapter for students and teacher alike. My friends from college have graduated and are either continuing their education and working in research labs or beginning their careers. Not everyone has successfully found a career that uses their degrees and college skills.

The news shares many stories of how as the economy has grown many have been forced to work multiple part time jobs to make ends meet. A great deal of time, discussions, and stress is placed on how to payoff student loans among friends. Education is well worth the investment, but I do see some people left behind suffering from the student loans burden and stuck in situations where they face an uphill battle. I will leave the issue of student loans with the following question: Will this be the year when students loans take more of the headlines like the housing bubble did in 2008?

I want to continue with some trends that I think will be greatly talked about from the media to boardroom from a national perspective. One trend which I have increasingly seen is that people are taking a break from social media to start the year off with a different perspective and away from the clutter and mess of social media. I myself have decided to use social media less this year and allocate some of the time I would spend online away from screens and instead read. This brings up privacy and data security, issues which are increasingly important as 2018 progressed and I can only imagine will stay important into 2019. I will be interested in seeing how tech companies’ stocks will perform into 2019 and what this will mean for the stock market. No market predictions on my end but I imagine investors are in store for another roller coaster ride of a wild year. Some other terms that I think will continue to be in the lexicon include sports betting, increasing marketing for Generation Z, and digital detoxes.

I want to highlight a few local topics from the Charlotte area. Basketball is big in North Carolina and the NBA All-Star game is coming next month with expectations of economic impact that could cross $100 Million. While North Carolina lost out on Amazon to suburbs of Washington, D.C. and New York other important economic news made headlines to end 2018 including IBM’s purchase of Raleigh based Red Hat. November also saw news in Charlotte when Honeywell announced moving its world headquarters from New Jersey to Charlotte which will eventually create 750 jobs. Charlotte is a great city to build and grow a company landing on Inc’s 50 Best Places to Start a Company at 22 with an emphasis on fintech growth.

I believe that companies will continue to invest in the Charlotte area as building projects through Uptown Charlotte and across the region continue to show the robust economy from new building to the continued need to build affordable housing for all the new employees moving into the area. Charlotte has a chance to show its new design to the world during the All-Star game and this year will see continued development and investment centered in Uptown Charlotte. Like across the country growth is focusing on major metro areas with access to universities and transportation which I believe will shape future investment in 2019 and beyond.

Growth and volatility are not often said in the same sentence but those are two words which I think are two words which will shape the next 12-months. Issues that have been under the surface for years will continue to impact the purchasing power of Americans including student loans and greater need for affordable housing. At the same time growth at companies and investment in education will continue across Charlotte and the nation. As privacy concerns continue Americans will decide to take control of their data which is one of the most marketable and valuable pieces of information they hold. The place social media has in our culture will likely be shaped by how it is used throughout the year.