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Making it as a thought-leader in 2013

Friday, April 26th, 2013
Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell

By Arik Abel

As media superstar Malcolm Gladwell has proved, a book as thought-provoking as The Tipping Point or Blink can lead to an amazingly multi-faceted career. But unlike Gladwell’s path, subject matter experts (aka thought leaders) don’t have to team with a traditional publisher to help them connect with an audience.

Just as self-publishing is attracting armies of novelists and memoirs, it also holds promise for professionals seeking to turn their knowledge into speaking opportunities and a role in the national and international conversation on a topic — whatever that topic may be.

“A book is the best business card you’ll ever have. Personally, the day my first book came out was the day I started getting asked to keynote events, as well as the day I saw my consulting client list grow by 200 percent,” says Jim Kukral, an internet marketer who has  published several of his own books. “When you have a book showing you as the expert in your field, you have a severe advantage to everyone who doesn’t.”

Self-publishing establishes expertise

Scott Steinberg, author of several books on managing creativity in organizations, believes that self-publishing a book not only establishes you as an expert on a subject matter, but is a powerful force for making your name in a very crowded field.

“The traditional publishers might not find expertise in certain fields all that profitable,” says Steinberg. “If you’re an expert in a specific sector of engineering, publishers might not want to devote resources to that. But by self-publishing, you can reach the 200 key decision-makers in your field.”

In addition to engineering, fields like self-help, philanthropy, social media, education, law, and finance are all ripe for individuals looking to spread their expertise.

How to get speaking engagements

Books that are independently published can easily be distributed in as many formats as those that are traditionally published, at only a fraction of the cost to produce. That’s important for experts looking to land that prized presentation, whether the ultimate goal is a TED Talk or a keynote spot at a highly specialized association happening.

“A majority of this research by conference planners  looking for speakers is done through the internet, as well as by word of mouth,” says Dawn McEvoy, the director of education at the Professional Convention Management Association.

“In my opinion, the best way for an SME (subject matter expert) to optimize the likelihood of booking speaking engagements is to develop a reputation as thought leaders within their industry and honing presentation skills.”

Obviously, publishing a book is only one step toward establishing a reputation, but it has been a critical one for so many successful speakers and experts. Yes, there’s the mighty Gladwell, whose books have paved the way to prominent speaking engagements at the likes of TED and The New Yorker Festival.

Seth Godin’s example

Seth Godin, author of “The Dip,” among other works. Godin spoke at a previous TechMedia event in Atlanta, where his book was a gift to those who attended. The next TechMedia event is the Digital Summit May 14-15.TechMedia event in Atlanta, where his book was a gift to those who attended. The next TechMedia event is the Digital Summit May 14-15.

There’s also Seth Godin, entrepreneur, advertising guru, and motivational speaker used books (the latest one was crowd funding) to promote his ideas about advertising and marketing.

Gary Vaynerchuk, wine  aficionado and video blogger, turned his ideas on monetizing passions through the internet into a bestselling book, “The Thank You Economy”. He now speaks around the world at large conferences like Gov 2.0 and in front of large businesses like RE/Max.

(Editor’s Note: Both Godin and Vaynerchuck spoke at previous TechMedia events in which their books were gifts to attendees. The next TechMedia event in the Digital Summit in Atlanta, May 14-15.

For those who aspire to similar success, self publishing can be a game changer … once you get past a challenge common to all authors. “There are a lot of reasons people don’t write a book,” says author Kukral. “One of them being fear. Fear that they can’t do it. Fear that it won’t be good enough, or long enough. Fear is what stops most people from being successful.”

Putting your life’s work onto the page is, indeed, daunting. However, the hardest step to take is that first one. Authors like Gladwell took unconventional approaches to explaining their ideas. By focusing on decision-making and crime, Gladwell was able to explain much larger societal issues.

Maybe the easiest way to explain your subject matter is to think of exactly where it doesn’t apply — then connect it to that subject. By think more like a writer and a little less like an expert, you can challenge yourself and write a provocative, interesting, and successful book.

Having conquered your fears and hit on an engaging formula, publishing a book is one of the smartest career choices a thought leader can make.

Arik Abel

Arik Abel

Arik Abel is the director of online marketing for, a leader in self-publishing since 2002.

Women in Technology names Hall of Fame winners

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013
Heidi Roizen, Venture Partner, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, a WITI Hall of Fame winner for 2013.

Heidi Roizen, Venture Partner, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, a WITI Hall of Fame winner for 2013.

WITI (Women In Technology International) has named the recipients of the 18th WITI Hall of Fame Awards.

The Women in Science and Technology Hall of Fame Awards, sponsored by the Women In Technology Foundation, are considered among the most illustrious honors for women in science and technology.

The five distinguished recipients of this year’s WITI Hall of Fame Awards are:

  • Marian Croak , Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Applications & Services Infrastructure, AT&T Labs;
  • Peggy Johnson , Executive Vice President, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., and President, Global Market Development;
  • Lisa McVey , CIO, Enterprise Information Systems, Enterprise Medical Imaging, Automation, McKesson Corporation;
  • Heidi Roizen , Venture Partner, Draper Fisher Jurvetson;
  • Laura Sanders.

    Laura Sanders.

    Laura Sanders , General Manager of Delivery Engineering & Technology and CTO for Global Technology Services, IBM Corporation.

  • For complete bios see:

“The WITI Hall of Fame was established to recognize the notable contributions of women who are leading innovation in science and technology, and have demonstrated a commitment to supporting/ mentoring women and girls,” says Carolyn Leighton , WITI Founder and Chairwoman. “These women represent the role models who will inspire current and future generations to reach higher and push new boundary lines to make a positive difference for all of us.”

SAP co-CEOs nab top scores in employee approval ranking

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013
Bill McDermott

Bill McDermott

 SAP AG‘s Co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe have received top rankings in the 2013 “50 Highest Rated CEOs” report by

The popular career and workplace community annually releases a ranking of top CEOs based on independent feedback from employees.

McDermott and Snabe’s score of 99 percent approval matched this year’s top-ranked CEO, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg , also with 99 percent. SAP climbed seven places from its 2012 position.

McDermott was a featured speaker at TechMedia’s Southeast Venture Conference in Charlotte, NC, March 14. High level speakers and panelists are a feature of TechMedia’s conferences. The next is the Digital Summit in Atlanta, May 14-15.

The CEO approval ratings published by are based on employee reviews over the past 12 months.

Employees are asked: “Do you approve or disapprove of the way your CEO is leading the company?” The report ranks current CEOs who have received at least 100 CEO approval ratings for 2013 and at least 40 ratings in 2012.

A great place to work

Reviews posted online by SAP employees on include comments such as “great company,” “supportive working climate” and “great place to work.”

Since being appointed co-CEOs in 2010, McDermott and Snabe have focused SAP on innovating in key growth areas such as cloud computing, mobile business and in-memory technology.  As a result, the company has experienced 12 consecutive quarters of double-digit growth.

An internal survey of employees shows that employee engagement and employee satisfaction are reaching near all-time highs. For 2012, SAP’s internal employee engagement score increased from 77 percent to 79 percent; 89 percent are proud to work at the company and 91 percent said they have a strong belief in SAP products and services.

Who has the most valuable social and professional networks?

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013
Bill Gates

Bill Gates

Who are the most influential ultra high net worth people globally with the most powerful social and professional networks? Wealth-X has put a value to the social graph of the top ten, which includes one former president of the U.S. and only one woman on the list.

Bill Gates tops the list with his social graph worth an estimated US$261 billion, which is approximately four times his net worth. Coming in second is former US President, Bill Clinton , whose circle of influence is valued at US$227 billion.  Last of the top 50 is Paul Gardner Allen , Chairman of Vulcan and co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, with a social graph value of US$82 billion.

Rank Name Value of Circle of Influence (US$ billion)
1 William Henry Gates III 261
2 William Jefferson Clinton 227
3 William Albert Ackman 194
4 Eli Broad 148
5 Warren Edward Buffett 146
6 Peter George Peterson 145
7 Michael Terry Duke 136
8 Keith Rupert Murdoch 133
9 Thomas Boone Pickens Jr. 132
10 Linda S. Wolf 131

Of the top 10, there is a lone female representative, Linda S. Wolf , director of Wal Mart Stores, whose social graph is worth an estimated US$131 billion. The full top 50 list sees female representation at 10%.

American UHNWIs form 72% of the top 50 most influential list. Russian ultra wealthy individuals are second at 12%, followed by Mexican and Chinese UHNWIs at 8% and 4% respectively.

Wealth-X CEO, Mykolas D. Rambus said, “Knowledge of the value of such networks allows business development professionals, who engage with these UHNWIs, to leverage on interconnected individuals to grow prospect and engagement lists, with a clear idea of what connections amount to in a financially measurable sense.”

“For all the talk surrounding social and professional networks, this list represents a trailblazing quantification of the value of social and professional networks that UHNWIs possess,” he added.

For the full list and supplemental analysis, please visit:

Austin Ventures names Gene Austin Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Austin Ventures Austin Ventures , a venture capital firm investing in early-stage startup companies in Texas, has added Gene Austin as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence.

As an EIR,  Austin will apply his expertise in the B2B software market, with a particular emphasis on SaaS and Cloud computing applications.

“Gene is known for his ability to consistently build strong leadership teams that deliver growth and results. His knowledge of the SaaS/OnDemand software space will allow him to make an immediate impact by either starting a company or joining an existing company in our portfolio.” said Thomas Ball, AV General Partner.

More than 30 years leading high growth companies

Gene has over 30 years of experience in leading high-growth technology companies as Chairman of the Board, CEO, VP and General Manager, among other key operating positions. Austin has extensive experience in leading both private venture-backed and public technology companies.

Gene is joining AV after serving as CEO of Convio, an AV portfolio company and the leading SaaS provider of CRM solutions for nonprofits. During his 10-year tenure at Convio, he grew the business to a successful IPO in 2010, followed by a successful sale in 2012.

Prior to Convio, Gene served as VP and General Manager of the Enterprise Data Management business for BMC Software.

He has also worked as VP of Internet Servers for Dell, VP of Sales and Marketing for, and VP of Marketing for Servers at Compaq. While at, he was part of the team that took the company public. He currently serves on the boards of the JDRF in Austin, and KIPP School of Austin.


Top 20 most social CMOs in the Fortune 100 named

Friday, November 30th, 2012

GE’s Beth Comstock, number one on the Business Social list.

Only one in five CMOs on the Fortune 100 list are active participants in public social networks, according to  BusinessNext Social.

The members of the list –  compiled in the BusinessNext Social Top 20 Most Social CMOs in the Fortune 100 – have social credentials demonstrating that they understand what it takes to grow and influence their own networks by using new strategies, cutting-edge social media and mobile technologies and compelling content marketing to build highly adaptive, high performance social businesses.

The study was inspired by the increasing focus businesses are placing on social, and the leadership role marketing is taking in managing social media activities.

A recent study by The CMO Survey predicts that social media spending as a percent of rising marketing budgets is expected to increase from 7.6 to 18.8 percent over the next 5 years; Gartner Research predicts the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO by 2017. [ii][iii]

The senior-most marketing executives recognized for leading social by example include: 

  1. General Electric Company’s Beth Comstock (@bethcomstock,, CMO and Senior Vice President
  2. Google, Inc.’s Nikesh Arora (@nikesharora), Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer
  3. Apple, Inc.’s Philip Schiller (@pschiller), Senior Vice President, Worldwide Product Marketing
  4. IBM’s Jon C. Iwata (@coastw,, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications
  5. SAP’s Jonathan Becher (@jbecher,, CMO
  6. Dell’s Karen Quintos (@KarenDellCMO,, CMO
  7. Exxon Mobil Corporation’s Ken Cohen (@ken_cohen) Vice President of Public and Government Affairs
  8. Microsoft’s Chris Capossela (@chriscapossela,, CMO
  9. Cisco Systems’ Blair Christie (@BlairChristie,, Senior Vice President and CMO, Government Affairs,
  10. Raytheon’s Pam Wickham ( @PamWickham1, Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Communications

The entire list of The 20 Most Social CMOs can be found on the BusinessNext Social Blog.


Austin Ventures names Brett Hurt a venture partner

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012


Brett Hurt

Brett Hurt

Austin Ventures (“AV”), the most active and established early-stage venture capital firm in Texas, today announced that Brett Hurt has joined the firm as Venture Partner. Hurt is a seasoned entrepreneur who is widely recognized for turning groundbreaking ideas into leading businesses.

He most recently led Bazaarvoice (NASDAQ: BV) as CEO from Austin start up to global, publicly-traded leader with nearly 2,000 clients and nine offices around the globe.

He brings deep experience at all stages of the growth cycle and a clear eye for emerging market opportunities to Austin Ventures, where he will focus on early-stage venture investing. At Bazaarvoice, Hurt now serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Most exciting time in history for Austin entrepreneurs

“This is the most exciting time in the history of Austin for entrepreneurs,” said Hurt.

“Bazaarvoice’s success, and the continued explosion of the tech scene here, has inspired and energized a new generation. I have been fortunate enough to be on the ground at every stage of a company’s growth: identifying markets, scaling operations, leading IPOs and acquisitions, and nurturing the culture that makes success possible. I couldn’t be more excited to put this expertise to work on finding and coaching the entrepreneurs that want to build the next great company.”

“We have enjoyed the privilege of working with Brett for more than seven years. It has been a truly amazing run at Bazaarvoice from bootstrapped concept through IPO, follow-on offering, and now two acquisitions,” said Chris Pacitti, General Partner, Austin Ventures.

“Brett is enormously — and contagiously — passionate about entrepreneurship. We are excited to share that Brett has agreed to channel his boundless passion using the AV platform.”

Previously CEO of Bazaarvoice

Hurt previously served as CEO and president of Bazaarvoice, leading the company through its highly successful Initial Public Offering (IPO), which the Wall Street Journal named as one of 2012’s Best IPOs.

Hurt subsequently guided the company through a successful follow-on offering, and two acquisitions, PowerReviews and Longboard Media. A past recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, Hurt was recently named Austin Business Journal’s Best CEO of 2012.

Under Hurt’s leadership, Bazaarvoice has been repeatedly recognized for its corporate culture that places innovation, passion, and service at the center of its business. The company has been ranked as one of the best places to work in Austin at every stage of its growth by the Austin Business Journal and Austin American-Statesman for its innovative culture and deep community involvement through the Bazaarvoice Foundation.

Founded two other firms

Prior to Bazaarvoice, Hurt founded Coremetrics and helped grow the company into a leading marketing analytics solution for the eCommerce industry before its acquisition by IBM. He was previously the founder and CEO of Hurt Technology Consulting and BodyMatrix, an online retailer of sports nutrition products, which he sold.

Before that, he was a consultant at Deloitte Consulting and Andersen Consulting (now Accenture). Hurt holds an MBA in High-Tech Entrepreneurship from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a BBA in Management Information Systems from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a native Austinite, and was fortunate to grow up in a city that supported his desire to change the world through technology and began programming computers when he was seven years old.

“My best advice to any aspiring CEO would be that the soul of a company is what drives long-term success, and culture really matters,” Hurt continued. “I am honored and privileged to work alongside the best investors in Austin to charter the new companies that will truly make a difference in the world.”

CIO challenges include several balancing acts

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

By Allan Maurer

Chad Smith

Chad Smith, CIO, 3 Birds Marketing. Smith is on the CIO/CTO panel at the upcoming Internet Summit in Raleigh, NC, Nov. 6-8.

Being a chief information officer (CIO) involves more than guiding a firm’s technology  initiatives, says Chad Smith, CIO at Chapel Hill, NC-based interactive marketing company 3 Birds Marketing. “A lot of times, I’m the traffic cop between the business and the technology side of the company,” he says.

Smith obviously has a handle on the CIO position. He was recently named CIO of the year by the North Carolina Technology Association and Triangle Business Journal, and is on the CIO/CTO panel at the upcoming Internet Summit at the Raleigh Convention Center Nov. 6-8. He’ll join thought leaders from top brands such as Google, AOL, IBM, bing, comScore, Klout, Twitter, Mashable, Forrester, and Adobe at the event, which expects up to 2,000 attendees.

The CIO of the year award goes to those who use IT in innovative ways to create a competitive advantage for their firm.

Smith said it was an honor to be chosen, “especially among such distinguished colleagues. The Triangle’s technology community is a vibrant, active one filled with the brightest and best. It’s one of the reasons 3 Birds chose to locate here.”

3 Birds Marketing sells a digital platform that helps clients engage customers across multiple channels, including social media, e-newsletters, blog posts, and also handles 3-campaigns and reputation management. It’s cloud-based products are sold as software-as-a-service, and Smith hastens to add, and “as software with service.”

CIO challenges

One of the toughest aspects of being a CIO, Smith says, “Is getting the business requirements for what we want to do and transform that into a product that supports 600 clients. It’s always a challenge as your team and client base start to grow, building an infrastructure to support rapid growth.”

Kristen Judd, president and co-founder of 3 Birds, said, “With the release of the Wire 1.95, our team has created a comprehensive, fully integrated software solution that has robust functionality and an extensive library of content ranging from articles to images to social media posts to campaign creative.”

She added, “Chad has been able to balance the rapid growth of our platform, against the need for functionality enhancements, and he’s done so while managing to create and foster our outstanding development team.

The company, launched in 2009, has grown from five on staff and 10 clients to 45 employees, including 10 developers, and 600 clients. It is focused on the automotive sector because its founders had expertise in that industry, but is looking at expanding services to additional verticals.

Keep the user experience intuitive

Smith says that among the challenges he faces as CIO at 3 Birds Marketing is “Finding talent to come to Chapel Hill from a development perspective. There are over 126 open jobs similar to ones we were looking to fill in the Triangle.”

Others include balancing features in the company’s product. “Making sure that what we roll out maintains the user experience so that it is intuitive. That’s a challenge.”

To meet it, he recommends, “Keep your fundamentals the same to maintain consistency in how users interact with your app so you don’t have to constantly retrain users.”

We’d vote for that attitude. Many of the software products we have used over the years introduce new versions that change so many fundamental aspects re-learning it can be a pain – and that even applies to browsers and operating systems.

But, it can be a “Constant battle,” says Smith. “A lot of times developers who think differently than designers. We take a lot of time to make sure our product is designed with the user experience in mind and challenge developers to meet their needs.”

Smith received a BS/BA in computer business information systems from the University of Arkansas. Before joining 3 Birds, Smith held a position at Transamerica Worksite Marketing where he served as business system application manager.

His past experience includes two years as a principal consultant at Edgewater Technology, as well as eight years with Acxiom Corporation, a global data management and IT consulting firm.

Building apps and making databases, he has worked for Blockbuster, American Express and CitiBank.

Originally from Arkansas, Smith has also lived and worked in the United Kingdom and Japan during his thirteen years in the industry. He relocated to North Carolina to join the 3 Birds team in 2010.

Kabbage names Scott Thompson, former president at PayPal, to board

Thursday, September 27th, 2012


Scott Thompson

Scott Thompson, former president of PayPal, named to Kabbage board of directors.

Kabbage Inc., a provider of working capital for small businesses, has named Scott Thompson, CEO of ShopRunner and former president of PayPal, to its board.

Thompson is currently the CEO of ShopRunner, the leading shopping network that enables merchants to bring the best shopping services to consumers.

Prior to ShopRunner, he was CEO of Yahoo, where questions about his resume led to his resignation, although Thompson said it was due to a health issue.

Experience transcends resume flap

Marc Gorlin, chair of Kabbage tells the TechJournal, “He was unbelievable as president of PayPal and understands financial services and data science better than anyone we know.  His experience and assistance far exceeds a trumped up resume flap by a disgruntled investor.”

Thompson served as the President of PayPal from 2008 to early 2012, prior to that he was PayPal’s Chief Technology Officer.  While at PayPal he helped scale the company through its most rapid growth years growing it from $1 billion in revenues to $4.4 billion in revenues, and established PayPal as the leading global online payment service.

“Kabbage is rapidly reshaping the small business financing space in the same way that PayPal reshaped the payments space over the last decade,” said Scott Thompson.

“I enjoy working with, and believe I can have the most impact on, companies that are re-inventing the ways financial services are delivered to consumers and small businesses.  And specifically, by working with organizations that are uncovering new and unique methods of leveraging data science to attack a massive market.  Kabbage has both the opportunity and is on a trajectory to do exactly that.”

Won Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011

In 2011, Scott was awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Northern California for his leadership in the Financial Services industry.

“We are thrilled to have the benefit of Scott’s passion, relationships, and experience on as part of our team,” said Rob Frohwein, CEO of Kabbage. “Scott led PayPal through its most formative and highest growth years and we will benefit from those learnings as we continue to accelerate our growth.”

Thompson joins Kabbage’s existing board of directors which includes Rob Frohwein, CEO of Kabbage, Marc Gorlin, Chairman and Co-Founder of Kabbage, Bryan Stolle, General Partner Mohr Davidow Ventures, Jonathan Ebinger, Partner Blue Run Ventures, Bruce Miller, Managing Director Stephens Inc, and Don Butler, Managing Director of Thomvest Ventures.

Horizon Technology Finance names managing directors for Mid-Atlantic & West Coast

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

HorizonHorizon Technology Finance Management (HTFM) has hired Todd McDonald as managing director for the Mid-Atlantic Technology and Clean Technology markets, and Mike Lederman as managing director for the West Coast Technology and Clean Technology markets.

HTFM is advisor to Horizon Technology Finance Corporation (Nasdaq: HRZN),  a specialty finance company that provides secured loans to venture capital and private equity backed development-stage companies in the technology, life sciences, healthcare information and services, and clean-tech industries.

Additionally, the firm has opened a new office in Reston, Virginia, expanding its geographic reach to the Mid-Atlantic region.

Robert D. Pomeroy, Jr., chair and CEO, said, “These additions and the new office in northern Virginia will enhance our venture lending platform across the U.S. and reflects our commitment to serving key markets for venture-backed companies, including the Mid-Atlantic and western regions.”

He added, “Both professionals bring to Horizon an established track record of originating new loans, strong relationships with the venture capital community and considerable experience providing growth capital to development-stage companies.”

McDonald has approximately 20 years of business development experience in the financial services industry. As Managing Director, Mid-Atlantic Technology and Clean Technology, he will be responsible for developing and maintaining sponsor relationships and sourcing debt financing opportunities with venture-backed companies in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Previously, McDonald held various positions at Comerica Bank, most recently as Group Manager and Senior Vice President, Technology and Life Sciences Division, where he oversaw a portfolio of venture-backed technology companies and led business development initiatives across the East Coast.

Lederman has more than 10 years of business development experience in the financial services industry. As managing director, West Coast Technology and Clean Technology, he will be responsible for developing and maintaining sponsor relationships and sourcing debt financing opportunities among venture-backed companies in the western region of the U.S.

He will be based out of the Company’s office in Walnut Creek, California.  Lederman most recently was senior vice president and regional market manager, Technology Banking Division, at Bridge Bank, NA, where he was responsible for new business development in the San Francisco area.

Entrepreneurs: would you jump out of a plane to make a point? (video)

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
Tanya Prive

Tanya Prive, founder and CEO of Rock the Post.

Starting a business is always risky and Rock the Post founder Tanya Prive wanted make the point that taking the leap will involve challenges and even some “terrifying moments.” So she jumped out of a plane and did a sky dive to make her point.

Rock the Post is a crowdfunding website and social platform designed to fund small businesses, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits.

Prive had her leap video taped to  inspire young entrepreneurs in taking the risk of launching a venture and breaking through the barriers holding people back from living a life they love.

Starting a business is a challenging journey. Going back to basic entrepreneur training 101, it’s all about the 4 Ps: Passion, Patience, Persistence and Play. First, you have to love what you are doing, as there is more bad days than good, when you’re starting your business.  Second, your passion will fuel your persistence and patience until you get the results you set out to achieve. From Prive’s perspective, it is important to do what you love.

No overnight success stories

“There is no such thing as an overnight success story, we spent almost 13 months to get Rock The Post up and running, and still have a lot of work to do,” she says.

She points out that every business’s success revolves around taking risks. As the saying goes: “No risk, no gain”.

Successful entrepreneurs know and are prepared to make those difficult decisions. An effective entrepreneur is the one who is willing to lead the way, where no path has been forged before and is confident that their choices will take the business to greater heights.

Similar to jumping out of a plane, the emotions that arise when starting a business are equally terrifying. It is all about taking the leap of faith, trusting the process, most importantly, as the process is what yields success, and not an enlightened moment of brilliance.

Highly successful people often say, if you are right 51% of the time, you are ahead of the game. So making mistakes is actually not a bad thing, but learning from them quickly is crucial. Trusting your instincts and listening to common patterns in the feedback you receive from trusted sources is an important component to factor in the mix.

Here’s the video, replete with encouraging quotes from a variety of sources:

Scott Thompson, briefly Yahoo CEO, to lead ShopRunner

Monday, July 23rd, 2012
Scott Thompson

Scott Thompson

Scott Thompson, briefly CEO of Yahoo and former president of PayPal has been named CEO of ShopRunner, a network of merchants that provides multi-channel shopping services to consumers.

Current CEO and co-founder Mike Golden will continue with the company as its president.

Thompson was CEO at Yahoo from January until May 2012. He resigned, citing illness as a reason, but Yahoo was investigating questions about his resume, which apparently claimed degrees in both accounting and computer science. He actually has a degree in accounting only.

During Thompson’s tenure at PayPal from 2005-2012, the service grew from 50 million to 104 million active users with 8 million merchant partners.

Golden says of Thompson, “Scott and Michael Rubin had worked together for a number of years, and Michael and I took him through the idea of ShopRunner early on. He had an immediate understanding of the potential impact of ShopRunner for consumers and retailers. During his tenure as PayPal’s President, Scott joined the ShopRunner board of directors and we got to see firsthand how much value Scott could add to our business. Michael and I both felt he would be the perfect long-term CEO.”

ShopRunner launched just 22 months ago and has built a strong network of retailers and powerful services for consumers. During this time, the company has also focused on developing an extensive product development road map.

In its next evolution, ShopRunner says it will expand its offerings, both in its breadth of participating merchants, and its benefits to members, including PayRunner, a two-click checkout experience, and ShopRunner PickupPoints – a service that gives members the option to have packages delivered to thousands of convenient retail store locations.

“Mike Golden has built a great foundation with ShopRunner and we both agreed that it is the perfect time to bring in Scott, who we have gotten to know extremely well over the past few years,” said Michael Rubin, CEO of Kynetic, a majority shareholder of ShopRunner. “Scott’s deep understanding of online businesses combined with his team building, operational capabilities, and focus on product will allow ShopRunner to realize its ultimate potential.”

Priscilla Chan gets a thumbs up for relationship contract idea

Thursday, May 24th, 2012
Priscilla Chan

Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg at their wedding.

While Mark Zuckerberg may have had a multi-billion dollar idea, his wife Priscilla Chan had a great idea when it comes to relationships.

According to a recent poll by, the romantic social network, it seems Mrs. Zuckerberg’s concept of a “relationship contract” is a winner with 75% of Zoosk fans saying they “love it.”

Among the details discussed in the press about the recent Zuckerberg nuptials, it has been reported by multiple news sources that while dating her future husband, Mrs. Zuckerberg negotiated a “relationship contract” prior to relocating to Palo Alto, California.

One of the terms of the contract allegedly states that she is entitled to “one date per week, a minimum of a hundred minutes of alone time, not in his apartment and definitely not at Facebook.”

This week, polled 1,352 fans of its page on Facebook to gather their thoughts about the idea of a “relationship contract.”

Zoosk posed the question: “What do you think of the idea of a ‘relationship contract’ committing your significant other to at least one date a week?” 75% said “love it” while 25% said “hate it.” 1,352 people responded to the poll on May 21, 2012.

“Americans of all ages and relationship statuses lead increasingly busy lives, so the idea of a ‘relationship contract’ to ensure quality time with your significant other is something more people might start to think about,” said Alex Mehr, co-founder and co-CEO of Zoosk.

As CEOs go, so goes the company in media coverage

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Prime ResearchFor a while there, it looked as if Yahoo had made a good decision hiring former PayPal CEO Scott Thompson to helm the iconic Internet firm. But his fall due to resume padding quickly reversed the positive vibes Yahoo had earned in the media.

The visibility surrounding the forced exodus of major corporate CEOs this month proves again that a company’s top executive acts as a powerful magnet for media focus, says a new report from Prime Research.

At the same time, recent events reinforce the harsh penalty for CEOs who are unaware of, or detached from, the realities of corporate leadership as a reputation watermark in public life.

Scott Thompson

A case in point is Scott Thompson, Yahoo’s former CEO, who inherited a low reputation threshold from the media legacy of predecessor Carol Bartz.

During his first four months at Yahoo’s helm, Thompson’s leadership improved the media’s favorable reporting about the company by 15 percent from January to April, in part because of Thompson’s image, and despite visible job cuts affecting 2,000 employees.

Media savvy among top CEOs continues to be a major factor impacting the strength or weakness of a company’s reputation in today’s media environment.

CEO needs to understand news dynamics

Mark Weiner, CEO of PRIME Research,  which conducts content analysis of both traditional and social media, said,  “To the degree that traditional and social media both reflect current public opinion while helping to shape the future, the CEO who understands the dynamics of news, acts responsibly, communicates credibly, and builds confidence through transparency is an essential asset.

“The media’s desire for direct access to corporate leaders almost ensures that a CEO’s actions and commentary will be scrutinized and remarks broadcasted.  Those CEOs who are capable, trained and poised when in the media spotlight ensure the best possible result for themselves, their companies and the shareholders they serve.”

Prior to Thompson’s emergence at Yahoo, the company’s media coverage across 43 opinion-leading print, broadcast and digital sources skewed negatively with 40 percent of all news critical of the company.

At that time, former CEO Bartz accounted for 17 percent of the company’s coverage.  Upon his arrival, Thompson quickly guided Yahoo’s image to a much more favorable view with 34 percent of all coverage positive and only 14 percent negative.

Positive momentum reversed suddenly

Since last week’s disclosure of Thompson’s resume padding and subsequent departure from Yahoo, positive momentum reversed immediately, plummeting to 48 percent negative, with 57 percent of all Yahoo corporate coverage dominated by news of Thompson’s error.

In the days following Thompson’s departure and the subsequent naming of Ross Levinsohn as interim CEO, Yahoo’s negative coverage virtually disappeared, thus achieving the desired redeeming effect for the company.

PRIME consultant Patty Lin, who conducted the analysis, adds, “While a counter balance of positive news has yet to appear, the stage is set for more affirmative reputation-building news to emerge. However, the life of a reputation crisis can be long:  journalists move on to current events but add context by reiterating events that came before.


“Social Network” writer Aaron Sorkin to helm Steve Jobs bio pic

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Cover of Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography to be filmed by writer/director Aaron Sorkin.

Aaron Sorkin, the writer who penned “The Social Network,” about Facebook’s rise, and “The West Wing,” will write and direct a film based on Walter Isaacson’s biography of Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs.

Hollywood has been hot to jump on the Jobs mania bandwagon since his death.

Ashton Kutcher is staring in the unauthorized “Jobs,” a different film that traces his rise to iconic status.

Sorkin will make his directing debut on the film based on Isaacson’s best bio, which sold 2.25 million books, making it the best selling hardcover of 2011.

Sorkin won an academy award for his adaption of “The Social Network,” in 2010.

We look forward to seeing what Sorkin does with the Jobs bio. He isn’t likely to whitewash Jobs’  less than sterling personal qualities.

Despite all the lionizing of the late Apple CEO, many of his own employees and colleagues didn’t particularly like him. Personally, we think he was as much a showman and huckster as he was a far-seeing CEO.

Yet he built Apple in the world’s richest company, so his vision cannot be denied.

Sorkin also has a summer show, “The Newroom,” set to debut on HBO this summer. — Allan Maurer



Company reputations affected by the CEO’s

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Weber ShandwickA full two-thirds (66 percent) of consumers say that their perceptions of CEOs affect their opinions of company reputations.

Executives, like consumers, also do not overlook the importance of a leader’s reputation – they attribute nearly one-half (49 percent) of a company’s overall reputation to the CEO’s reputation.

Executive leadership is critical to burnishing the overall reputation of organizations today, particularly when it is estimated that a large 60 percent of a company’s market value is attributed to its reputation.

This second installment of Weber Shandwick’s global research, The Company behind the Brand: In Reputation We Trust – CEO Spotlight, explores the importance of executive leadership and communications to helping reverse the tides of waning trust in companies.

The first segment of the study, released in early 2012, reported on the growing interdependence of product brand and corporate reputation in this new see-thru, nowhere-to-hide global marketplace.

The findings alerted marketing and communications executives to a tectonic shift in communicating the voice of the “enterprise” to key stakeholders.

The survey among 1,950 consumers and executives in two developed (U.S. and U.K.) and two developing markets (China and Brazil) was conducted by KRC Research in late 2011.

“Gone are the days when purchases were made solely on product attributes. Today’s consumer is savvy, well-informed and privy to a plethora of purchase options. Decisions are now increasingly based on additional factors such as the company behind the brand, what the company stands for and even the standing of its senior leaders,” said Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist at Weber Shandwick.

Executive Leadership is on Consumers’ Radar Screens Worldwide
Nearly three in 10 consumers (28 percent) report that they regularly or frequently talk about company leaders with others.

When consumers are asked what influences their perception of companies, approximately six in 10 (59 percent) say they are influenced by what top leaders communicate. Corporate leadership communications are important across the globe, but to an even greater extent in emerging markets.

Nearly two-thirds of Chinese consumers (64 percent) and nearly three-quarters of Brazilian consumers (72 percent) rely on executive communications when learning more about a company.

“In an increasingly seamless world, more consumers are exposed and attuned to corporate actions than ever before. CEOs can’t assume that what they say and their teams do are going unnoticed by the public,” said Micho Spring, Weber Shandwick’s global corporate practice chair. “Corporate communications from the top must set the tone and shape the brand.”

Respect for Leadership Differs Widely in Developed vs. Emerging Markets
Respect for corporate leaders – CEOs and other corporate leaders – has taken an especially large hit in developed markets – 72 percent of U.S. and 71 percent of U.K. consumers have lost respect in the past few years. In emerging markets, Chinese consumers are evenly split on their changing opinions of corporate leadership (35 percent lost respect vs. 38 percent who increased respect). Brazilian consumers are more likely to have increased their respect for top executives than decreased their respect (33 percent vs. 21 percent, respectively).

As seen in this research, CEO and company reputation are inextricably linked – corporate reputation is not isolated from the public views of a company’s top leadership. Together, company and CEO reputation make a solid contribution to a firm’s market value.

For more detailed information, please go to our executive summary.

Six behaviors that can derail your business leadership career

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

PDI Ninth HouseRecent Pulse on Leaders studies using data collected by PDI Ninth House and analyzed by University of Minnesota researchers have identified several leadership behaviors that increase the potential for career derailment — the risk of being demoted, fired or performing below the level of expected achievement.

One of the studies found that leaders who rated their skills significantly higher than ratings provided by their bosses are more than six times more likely to derail than those who display signs of being more “in touch” with their actual work performance.

Behaviors of those who will fail can be spotted

In another study, researchers found that those leaders identified by their direct managers as most likely to derail exhibited behaviors that caused their managers to perceive them as lacking in both self-awareness and tact, resulting in damaged workplace relationships.

“Some of today’s leaders struggle to differentiate themselves from their colleagues, and many are also very concerned about their managers recognizing their performance,” said Lou Quast, vice president and executive consultant at PDI Ninth House, and associate chair of the University of Minnesota’s department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development.

“In some cases, this quest for recognition leads to a lack of willingness to recognize and learn from one’s own weaknesses, and a highly competitive atmosphere, which damages working relationships with colleagues and upper management – the same critical relationships that can help them reach their career goals.”

He continues, “Tactics such as regular formal feedback and learning to address concerns without damaging relationships are great ways to help change their approach and attain long-term success.”

In the first study, researchers looked at ratings of more than 39,000 global leaders. They compared the leaders’ ratings of their own performance with those given by their direct managers.

Those considered to be in touch with their self-assessments — meaning their ratings closely matched those of their direct managers — were at little risk of derailment, while strong self-promoters were more than six times (629 percent) as likely to derail as the in-touch group.

In contrast to self-promoters, those considered to be strong self-deprecators are not more likely to derail than the “in-touch” group, and may in fact be less likely to derail.

Behaviors that Indicate Potential Derailment

In the second study, researchers analyzed boss evaluations of 14,000 U.S. leaders. The study examined how direct managers ranked their employees on 135 behaviors representing 24 core competencies.

Those leaders considered by their direct managers most likely to derail received failing scores on the following behaviors:

  • Demonstrates awareness of own strengths and weaknesses
  • Creates an environment where people work their best
  • Expresses disagreement tactfully and sensitively
  • Has the confidence and trust of others
  • Develops effective working relationships with higher management
  • Develops effective relationships with peers

Key to success: be smart, proficient, & relate

“The key to a successful career requires being smart and proficient on the job, as well as having the ability to relate to the people around you,” Quast said.

“And, as both studies show, success depends on a realistic view of one’s own strengths and weaknesses. We suggest that managers give these leaders candid, constructive feedback on where issues exist, and how to improve. Managers (or HR professionals) noting shortfalls in any of these specific behaviors should take the initiative to intervene: coach early and often.”

He adds, “Left unchecked, the behaviors can lead to career failure. Positive changes can only occur when leaders receive that feedback and act on it. In addition, coaches from PDI Ninth House can help these leaders cultivate the skills they need to succeed.”

What is your digital personality? Social butterfly? Content king?

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

A new IBM study of the media and entertainment market (NYSE: IBM), reveals that as consumers adopt an increasing number of digital devices, four distinct new “digital personalities” are emerging.

This shift is compelling companies to adopt more innovative business models that deliver personalized experiences depending on the digital personalities of the consumer.

The “Beyond Digital” study released at the 2012 NAB Conference, paints a portrait of a rapidly changing audience that is adopting a wide range of digital devices at a dizzying pace. And, contrary to popular belief, most are not college students.

For example, sixty-five percent of respondents aged 55 to 64 report surfing the Web and texting with friends while watching TV. Of those over age 65 watching TV, 49 percent surf the Web and 30 percent are texting.

Eighty-two percent of surveyed global consumers aged 18 to 64 are embracing connected digital devices.

Moreover, consumers in China and the U.S. are moving away from traditional forms of media, with more than 50 percent using online sources for breaking news.

The New Personalities
ibm graphic

Today’s connected consumers demand instant access to personalized content on their own terms. With the growth of digital devices, one-way communication and distribution of content is no longer feasible. According to the IBM study, most users fall into one of four emerging personality categories:

  • Efficiency Experts: With 41 percent in this category, these respondents use digital devices and services to simplify day-to-day activities. Efficiency experts send emails rather than letters, use Facebook to communicate with others, access the Internet via mobile phones, and shop online.
  • Content Kings: Are generally male consumers, who frequently play online games, download movies and music, and watch TV online. This audience represents 9 percent of the global sample.
  • Social Butterflies: Place emphasis on social interaction – they require instant access to friends, regardless of time or place. Fifteen percent of consumers surveyed reported they frequently maintain and update social networking sites, add labels or tags to online photos, and view videos from other users.
  • Connected Maestros: 35 percent of those surveyed take a more advanced approach to media consumption by using mobile devices and Smartphone applications to access games, music, and video or to check news, weather, sports, etc.

Engage with consumers based on digital personalities

“Media companies need to engage with consumers based on their digital personalities, if they are going to maintain a sustainable and connected relationship,” said Saul Berman, Global Strategy Consulting Leader, IBM Global Business Services, and co-author of the study.

“With the mass infiltration of digital devices, organizations can now enhance, extend or redefine the customer experience within minutes due to a steady stream of real-time data via social media. Future success is dependent upon successfully executing on insights based on this data, to reach the right consumer, at the right time and place, using the right tools.”

Flexible payment options needed

According to the IBM study, media and entertainment companies’ payment infrastructures need to be flexible and scalable to allow a variety of innovative pricing approaches to attract consumers with different preferences to their content.

The need for payment option flexibility, even for the same set of consumers, is apparent by looking at those most active in adopting new devices.

This group’s preferred mode of payment to watch a movie on a website is by viewing advertising that is included with the movie (39 percent of this segment chose this option), while they prefer to see movies on a tablet by purchasing a subscription (chosen by 36 percent). But to watch movies on a smart phone, they prefer to pay per use (the payment choice of 36 percent).

IBM surveyed 3,800 consumers in six countries – China, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States for this study, and also met with global representatives in broadcasting, publishing, as well as media service agencies, and telecommunication providers, to evaluate digital consumption behaviors.

Mark Cuban makes second investment in Mention Mobile

Thursday, April 12th, 2012
Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban

Mention Mobile, developer of innovative social gaming apps, announced today that entrepreneur Mark Cuban has invested an undisclosed amount in the company. This is the hi-tech billionaire’s second round of funding for the Los Angeles based company, following his initial investment six months ago.

Cuban’s minority equity stake in the company will increase.

Specializing in imaginative games and apps, Cuban’s investment will fund the development of upcoming single title apps beginning with the release of the company’s first asynchronous game. Mention Mobile is best known for its Facebook integrated Trivia Friends and has released multiple games including DoodleyZombie Bash: Christmas Attack and Get 2 The Nest! which have attracted worldwide attention.

Mention Mobile’s combination of innovative Facebook integration skills coupled with unique gaming concepts make them a one of a kind venture that I’m excited to further my relationship with,” said Cuban.

“This second round of funding solidifies Mr. Cuban’s interest and excitement in the future of Mention Mobile,” said Ryan Ozonian, founder and president of Mention Mobile. “Since first joining forces with Mr. Cuban, we have been in a heavy development cycle of a few properties that we feel are very distinct. Mr. Cuban’s support will allow us to continue to create innovative and compelling apps that are unlike anything else in the marketplace.”

Mention Mobile’s apps are currently available in the Apple App Store. Upcoming apps will also be available for Android and Facebook. Next up for the company is the release of a few games including an asynchronous game. For more information please visit

People excluded on Facebook feel just as if they were excluded in person

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

People who are excluded by others online, such as on Facebook, may feel just as bad as if they had been excluded in person, according to researchers. iStock photo.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — People who are excluded by others online, such as on Facebook, may feel just as bad as if they had been excluded in person, according to researchers at Penn State and Misericordia University.

“If you’ve ever felt bad about being ‘ignored’ on Facebook you’re not alone,” said Joshua Smyth, professor of biobehavioral health and of medicine at Penn State. “Facebook — with its approximately 800 million users — serves as a place to forge social connections; however, it is often a way to exclude others without the awkwardness of a face-to-face interaction.

Most people would probably expect that being ignored or rejected via a remote source like the Internet would not hurt as much as being rejected in person. Yet, our studies show that people may experience similar psychological reactions to online exclusion as they do with face-to-face exclusion.”

Smyth and Kelly Filipkowski, assistant professor of psychology at Misericordia University, conducted two studies examining the perceptions of and reactions to face-to-face and online chat room exclusion.

Self-esteem would drop

In the first study, the team asked more than 275 college students to anticipate how they would feel in a hypothetical exclusion scenario in which they were ignored during a conversation. The participants said they expected that they would feel somewhat distressed and that their self-esteem would drop, regardless of whether the rejection occurred in a chat room or in person; however, they expected the in-person exclusion to feel worse.

According to Smyth, such anticipated reactions are important as they may help determine how people make decisions about situations that they perceive as holding some risk of rejection — attending a party where they do not know anyone or participating in an online dating event.

In the second study, Smyth and Filipkowski set up two scenarios in which 77 unsuspecting college students were ignored during a staged “get to know each other” conversation. Half of the participants were excluded in person, while the other half were excluded in an online chat-room setting.

The students operating face to face believed they were participating in a study on the formation of impressions in casual settings. They thought they would briefly interact with two other student participants and then supply the researchers with their impressions of themselves and the others.

The students involved in the chat-room conversation believed they were participating in a study to investigate the formation of impressions when individuals do not receive visual cues from one another. In reality, the researchers set up both scenarios — the in-person conversations and the chat-room conversations — so student participants would be ignored by student research assistants trained to pose as study participants.

The team found that participants in both scenarios responded similarly to being excluded.

Contrary to expectation

“Contrary to our expectation, the students’ responses to rejection were not primarily characterized by severe distress, but rather characterized by numbness and distancing or withdrawal,” Smyth said.

Overall, the team showed that the participants expected the exclusion to be much worse than what they actually reported when they experienced the exclusion. The results of both studies appeared in a recent online issue of Computers in Human Behavior.

“What we found interesting is that in the lab setting, the vast majority of participants attributed their exclusion as being no fault of their own, but rather due to the other individuals in the room,” Filipkowski said. “In other words, people said, ‘it isn’t me, it’s you.’ This may have been a type of protective mechanism in order to buffer their mood and self-esteem.”

The results suggest that our culture may not differentiate between in-person and online experiences as much as we might think, according to the researchers.

“Although the meaningfulness of online or remote interactions may seem troubling, these data may also hold a more positive message,” Smyth said. “Meaningful online interactions may support the utilization of remote interventions that can enhance physical and psychological well-being, in turn providing increased access to opportunities for people who are in need.”

However, the researchers caution that these findings may be related to the types of individuals who participated in their study.

“These studies were conducted with college-aged students who have grown up with the Internet and other related technology,” Filipkowski said. “These findings may not apply to individuals who have much less experience with technology and remote communication.”

Filipkowski suggests that future studies investigate the applicability of these findings to different populations.

In the future, the team wants to investigate biological reactions to different types of exclusion.