Audio Video (AV) communication and collaboration systems support needs are coming your way if they are not already at your doorstep.
Corporate trends point to the IT department as the natural choice to organize AV support. In fact, this migration is already underway across all industries, markets and organizations.
However, to take on support responsibilities for audio video communication and collaboration is not the same as overseeing simpler and more static technologies such as telephone support.…
On a road littered with shattered visions of huge travel savings and unified communications, too many organizations still struggle to start a video meeting on time and without technical embarrassments.
For all the investments made in videoconferencing, content sharing and collaboration tools, we often let technology get in the way of productivity. And technology itself is not in a mature or stable state.
Coming from different directions, we find information technology, telephony and audio-video…
“What’s the best way to get our message out there and create our brand?”
Gary Vee is the man who gives advice straight and doesn’t sugarcoat it. He did a live Q&A with the audience at SXSW Interactive 2017. A dozen or so people sprinted to the microphone as soon as he got on stage.
Gary is known for his Daily Vee streams where he’ll share stories, give advice, and even commonly calls up members of his audience to answer their questions live.
One of the first questions was from a founder of Austin-based IVitamin Therapy, IV hydration therapy (which I’m sure we all could have used at one point during SXSW). His question was:
“What’s the best way to get our message out there and create our brand?”
It’s a question that every business asks, and even more important for startups, where every penny needs to be pinched for maximum value.
“There’s three ways to communicate with the world… you can write content, you can do audio content or you can do video content…
When you’re David and you’re playing against Goliath, you have to do David tactics, and our little David slingshot with a rock right now is Facebook ads”
And it makes sense… Everything your company puts out in one form or another is content. Your tweets, your website, and the email blasts you send are content. Content is text, image, and video. It’s media. The perception of your content is your brand.
I’ll add that you should test and diversify your content to tailor it to your specific audience. Video is great for grabbing attention and the social platforms are promoting it. Though it can also be hard for your followers to search through purely video content (transcriptions help).
In other broadcasts, I’ve heard Gary asked if there’s such a thing as too much content? His response was a straight “no”… because social networks live on content and the more content you post, the more people you’ll reach. Note that each platform and algorithm have their own intricacies.
He continued on to say that once you’re creating content, the best way to reach your audience right now for the price is through Facebook ads… and he highlights video ads. Gary predicts that in a couple years from now that today’s Facebook ads will be going at multiples of today’s price. Today is a good value to advertise.
The precision of Facebook advertising available today is incredible compared to traditional means. You can narrow down the audience through location, demographic and socio-economic variables. That can be city, gender, income level, and interests. Plus you can take existing audiences and let Facebook find “look-a-like” customers.
And finally a few other tidbits from Gary that we jotted down…
Consumer Virtual Reality is further away than we think.
Influencer marketing: trade your services for influencer shoutouts.
Most businesses are in a commodity market… differentiate on brand.
People who care less about what others think about them are more successful. “If you spend more time doing, rather than dwelling… you’ll be successful.”
Try lots of different things… don’t worry about what doesn’t work because what doesn’t work gets forgotten anyways.
While the value of diverse teams and women in leadership are relatively new topics in the business world, the field of gender lens investment is even newer. Since the field’s estimated beginnings in 2009, subsegments like “feminomics” and “inclusive finance” have spun off, but at it’s core gender lens investing is: incorporating gender as a factor to guide investment strategies. The field uses the broader term “gender” rather than “female” because, as the Stanford Social Innovation Review states, “Using ‘gender’ brings both men and women into the conversation. The movement’s objective is to look at the entire financial and social system, not just at women.”
Gender lens investing is part of the broader genre of “impact investing,” a term coined by the Rockefeller Foundation in 2007 that put a name to investments made with the intention of generating both financial return and social and/or environmental impact. It was once thought that impact investing was a “softer” kind of investing that meant sacrificing monetary returns for the sake of non-monetary ones. Research shows that this is simply not true. In just one example of many, Morgan Stanley used Morningstar data to prove that sustainable equity funds meet or even exceed the returns of traditional funds.
Impact investing as a whole has enjoyed a surge of popularity and innovation over the past decade or so with increasing speed, spawning new investment vehicles like social impact bonds / (PFS) programs and more recently green bonds. As investors ask for more impact investment solutions, retail investors like BlackRock, Prudential and Bain Capital have moved off the sidelines over the past year and added impact investment offerings like otherexisting firms such as JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch. While general impact investing is becoming more mainstream for high net worth individuals and institutions, gender lens investing has not benefitted from the same level of traction in the private equity and venture capital space. This is peculiar, because there is a wealth of data showing that gender-oriented investing can accelerate impact, both financial and social; women-led businesses outperform and they are also driving a greener future.
Veris Wealth Partners produced the Women, Wealth & Impact report to demonstrate that “better companies are created by shifting the flow of wealth and power to women, whether we aim to lift women and girls out of poverty or bolster women’s leadership and entrepreneurial pursuits” and Trillium’s Investing for Positive Impact on Women report which presents concrete gender-lens investment examples have spurred increasing investor interest in gender lens investing across fixed income and public equities.
Despite all of this collective data and momentum, we have seen little, if any, progress in the private equity and venture capital space. This is partially because pension funds, which according to a recent Department of Labor issuance can now invest for ESG purposes, generally have a minimum investment size of $75M. Contrasted with an average VC fund size of $30M… there is a mismatch. Still, there are currently only 6 early stage women-led venture capital funds in the United States investing with a gender-lens, all of which are on the East and West Coasts (there are none in the Central U.S.!). So, there is obviously much opportunity here and things are about to change as the bar continues to rise with how investors want their capital deployed.
There is also much progress to be made in the standardization of gender lens investment criteria. No uniform metrics or standardized criteria currently exist to compare actual fund portfolios to determine gender impact in terms of women’s leadership profile. Without this information, potential investors interested in leveraging the historic returns gender diverse teams have enjoyed are left uncertain about the differences between investment fund options. Transparent and uniform assessments could help raise the visibility of gender-oriented funds as well as increase additional investor interest.
Enter True Wealth Ventures. One of the goals of True Wealth Ventures is, of course, to fill the geographic gap of early-stage gender oriented VC funds in the U.S., so I am also excited to announce our participation in a project with ACG Inc., supported by George Mason University and funded through the Kauffman Foundation. The Foundation is funding a pilot study that will benefit investors who would like to proactively invest in gender diversity. We are working on developing standardized metrics for women’s leadership in venture capital funded portfolios that could be used to inform investors and to compare and track performance. It is my hope that this study, in streamlining available fund data, will make gender lens investment more attractive, accessible, and accepted… ultimately creating more True Wealth.
The sheen of Austin’s robust economy is losing some of its shine.
The unemployment rate in the metro increased to 3.7 percent in February, compared with 3.1 percent the same period a year earlier, according to new data released Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission. The labor force grew by 32,482 people in the past year, but job creation hasn’t kept up, and the number of unemployed people in the area increased by 7,222, from 34,437 to 41,659, over the same span.
The sky isn’t falling but the…
Who knew? Whole Foods Market Inc. is now a sign company that does grocery stores.
That could easily be the conclusion visitors reach when they stop by Whole Foods’ newest Chicago store in the Lakeview neighborhood at 3201 N. Ashland.
The store opened Wednesday, which is when I stopped by for a look-see.
A vast LED sign that a WFM spokeswoman said measures 35 feet by 25 feet (but seems much larger, especially at night) is impossible to miss on the all-glass front of the new Whole Foods store.
Ronnie Coleman Classic 2017 | Alex Keller Posing Practice https://www.priceplow.com/deals?ic=5
Our good friend over at FTA Gym, and PricePlow athlete, Alex Keller is just 2 weeks away from the 2017 NPC Ronnie Coleman Classic. This will be Alex’s first time in the Bodybuilding division but he’s no stranger to NPC.
Expect to see some insane conditioning from Alex, with help of his coach, CJ Woodruff. They plan to make a big impact in 2 weeks from now and we will be covering the whole thing.
Have you ever taken a moment to think about how you spend your time? If you do, you may realize how much of it is wasted dicking around on social media. At least that was my realization.
Because I work from home and for myself, I control my schedule. That kind of freedom is great if you have a substantial amount of discipline and self control. Otherwise, you can spiral into a social media time-sucking nightmare. And work from home or not, I think many people reach a mental stopping point in their day. For me, it’s 2 pm. I cannot stare at my computer screen any longer; all motivation leaves me. I make many trips to the fridge and stare at the half empty jar of pickles — hoping this time, miraculously, a piece of cake will be sitting beside it.
Early on in my new real estate career, while working from home, I got into the healthy habit of going for a walk at 2 pm. I decided to get out of my head and my house. It was better than forcing myself to continue a project I was stuck on. So, every day, I go for a walk, and I listen to a podcast. This change in my schedule was one of the most beneficial things I could do for my personal growth and my business growth. The following are the podcasts that resonated with me the most and changed me for the best.
The gist: “Each episode, I (Tim Ferris) deconstruct world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, sports, business, art, etc.) to extract the tactics, tools, and routines you can use. This includes favorite books, morning routines, exercise habits, time-management tricks, and much more.”
I have a soft spot for Tim Ferris because of his book, The Four Hour Work Week. It changed my life, or at least gave me the courage to try things that ultimately had a huge impact on my life. I read it at a time I needed it most and instantly identified with his overall message. Even though I was a lost and jobless twenty-three year old, this book got me excited for my future. His podcast gives me that same feeling. Tim is a fascinating human, to say the least. I like the way he allows his guests to tell their story all the way through. Many hosts tend to speak over their guests or cut them short, but Tim lets them carry on longer before redirecting them to a different question. This will lead to long episodes, but the audience gets to hear a unique conversation with a world class performer and Tim asks all the right (unique) questions. One of my favorite episodes is with Jamie Foxx. To be honest, I didn’t know anything about Jamie Foxx and did not have any real interest in him. But his story and storytelling was amazing! One of the best discussions I’ve heard in awhile and the way Tim interacted with him had everything to do with the success of the interview.
The gist: “The Moth is a non-profit group based in New York City dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. Founded in 1997, the organization presents a wide range of theme-based storytelling events across the United States and abroad. The Moth Podcast features re-airs of all new episodes of The Moth Radio Hour, plus additional stories from our vast archive recorded over the past two decades.”
The Moth is wonderful. I know technology is a marvelous tool, but sometimes I wonder if it has inhibited our storytelling skills. Before technology, that’s how humans entertained themselves, but telling a good story is still extremely important in society today. Storytelling is key to launching a new business; it helps others get to know you, and hey, we all have to give a good wedding speech at least once in our lives.
I recently ran my first marathon with a friend, and I swear the only thing that kept us going for a few miles was my rapid-fire stories. I look around when I’m in a public place, and instead of people engaging in meaningful conversations, they are often glued to their phones. The Moth is a great podcast because it’s everyday people telling their stories. It shows that everyone has a moving tale to tell. It encouraged me to recall stories in my past that I want to share. I want to hear strangers’ stories. I want to hear my family’s stories. I want to hear my friend’s stories! I hosted a “mini moth” with my friends, and I regularly attend Backyard Story Night here in Austin. I encourage you to do the same. Go to these events if they are available in your town or start hosting events with your friends.
The gist: “Slate editors Allison Benedikt and Dan Kois review and debate the latest parenting news, and try to stay civil.”
I included this podcast because I think proper parenting is super important, and it freaks me out that people start popping out kids without much knowledge on the subject. I think this particular show touches on broad subjects that would also be interesting to somebody like me…a twenty-something year old who doesn’t have children yet. I’m one of those weirdos that wants to learn about parenting now. No, I don’t have kids. No, I don’t want them now. I do know that I want kids one day though and my friends are starting to have kids. Listening to topics surrounding parenting and current issues is something I find useful to pay attention to every so often. This is how we change a generation! It starts with the way we raise our youth. Call me crazy but I’m going to start paying attention now.
The gist: “You’ll learn our top strategies to improve your career, confidence, lifestyle and love-life from top experts like life and business-hackers and the Art of Charm team themselves.”
When I first started listening to this podcast, it was meant for a male audience. This has changed over the years, and now their listeners are a healthy mix of men and women alike. At the time, I was seeking a different perspective. I read all the great reviews that men were writing about The Art of Charm and realized I could probably gain some insight from the podcast. I was thinking: I have to live and work with men. I date men. Perhaps listening to this podcast would allow me to get a better understanding of how their brains worked. I liked how there was no “fluff” in the episodes. I’d get a lot of knowledge jam-packed into 35–45 minutes and the host, Jordan Harbinger, is relatable, straightforward, and excited about life. It makes for an entertaining listen. He’s like the friend you go to for great advice — someone who will tell you how it is and won’t be worried about hurting your feelings. Everyone needs a friend like that.
Ladies, you may have a few doubts when first listening. The intro can come off a bit “bro-ey” and like I said, the host tells it how it is. Little to no “fluff.” But I think well-roundedness comes with getting a little uncomfortable sometimes, and the information that Jordan and his guests put out into the world is definitely something you should be paying attention to. After hearing the content and listening to a few episodes, I quickly forgot all about my initial judgments. Many of those episodes helped in sculpting the way I think today. Jordan tries new things with his show and realizes quickly when something does or does not appeal to listeners. They even have “fan-mail Fridays” where guests can write in and ask for advice or comment on past episodes. I may or may not have had my email read on a fan-mail Friday.
The gist: “The NPR Politics Podcast is where NPR’s political reporters talk to you like they talk to each other. With weekly roundups and quick takes on the news of the day, you don’t have to keep up with politics to know what’s happening. You just have to keep up with us.”
I was shocked by the 2016 election. I think many of us were. It’s crucial that we don’t get lazy with our political education. For me, coming into adulthood meant realizing how much there is to know and how little I do know. (Is that why your twenties are so scary? A discussion for another time.) I’ll openly admit that when it comes to the US government and politics, I can get a little lost. I realize this the more I start paying attention, and the NPR Politics Podcast has been that reliable guide for me. You shouldn’t complain about what’s going on if you don’t know what’s actually happening. Hopefully, this podcast will get you curious, and you’ll want to get a better understanding of the history of our country’s politics. You can do some further digging for yourself. I’m just waiting for a local government political podcast for here in Austin. Anyone?
The gist: “Our show, with hosts Joshua Dorkin & Brandon Turner, was designed as a tool to help both novice and experienced real estate investors. Our goal is to bring top notch educational content and interviews to our listeners, without subjecting you to the non-stop pitch that is prevalent around the industry.”
BiggerPockets.com is another website/podcast that has changed my life. It helped me realize the lifestyle I wanted to lead and how to get there. I’ve connected with hundreds of people through Bigger Pockets; seeking advice and wisdom online and in person. They’ve created a loyal community, and for me, it started with the podcast. You may be thinking; “I’m not interested in Real Estate!” Trust me, when you hear a story about a 22-year-old who bought his first home in college and how he was able to do it, you’ll be intrigued. Life can get boring sometimes; we get stuck in our routines. Listening to stories of people doing amazing things that are different than what you hear on a day-to-day basis is incredibly inspiring. There are so many ways to invest in real estate; you don’t have to be house flipping and knocking down walls. Leave that to HGTV. You can get involved without ever even stepping foot into an actual home.
The gist: “Comedian Paul Gilmartin hosts a weekly, hour-long audio podcast consisting of interviews with artists, friends, and the occasional doctor. The show is geared towards anyone interested in or affected by depression, addiction, and other mental challenges which are so prevalent in the creative arts. Paul’s hope is that the show and this website will give people a place to connect, smile, and feel the return of hope. The biggest myth about mental illness is that you are alone and there is no help.”
I can’t say enough great things about this podcast. It’s honest, it’s uncensored, and the content touches on topics that many people deal with but feel uncomfortable discussing. It’s like a weekly support group. If you have any family history of mental illness or friends who do, you need to listen to this show. It will give you insight into the best ways to handle yourself, friends, or family. Let the youth in your life listen! I grew up hearing phrases such as “she’s so bipolar!” It was an intended to be used as an insult. Until talking to somebody who is bipolar, I didn’t realize what that actually meant or how hurtful phrases like that can be. The more familiar we become with the issues, the less pain we will cause through our ignorance. Some of the topics that are discussed can get serious quickly, but Paul is a comedian and does an excellent job with adding comedic relief at the most appropriate times. He has created a safe place and a wonderful community.
The gist: “Call Your Girlfriend is a podcast for long-distance besties everywhere, hosted by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman and produced by Gina Delvac. Every other week, eavesdrop as Aminatou and Ann call each other to discuss the intricacies of pop culture and the latest in politics. We’re highbrow and lowbrow, unapologetically feminist, and not afraid to realtalk each other about everything from menstrual cycles to workplace dramas.”
I can’t resist a group of powerful ladies. This podcast is wonderful. Three best friends talking about intellectually stimulating subjects. Most of us can relate to these three ladies’ relationship. Many of my closest friends live across the country from me and every time I listen in, I’m immediately reminded of my relationship with my friends from high school. I would especially encourage you men out there to listen. Do you want to understand us? You can begin by listening to this podcast and getting comfortable with hearing and saying words like “menstruation” and “feminist.”
The gist: “The Podcast is a show about home cooking and the power of real good food. It explores how to cook seasonal produce at home & integrate deliciously healthy recipes into everyday life. Listen for recipes, kitchen tips, stories, & conversations with the freshest voices in food, from celebrity chefs to local farmers.”
To be honest, I have not been listening to this show long. A friend suggested it to me but I’ve realized I need A Couple Cooks in my life. My idea of cooking is baking a sweet potato and throwing canned tuna over lettuce. I recently attended a panel in Austin called “Vote With Your Fork.” It was about exploring the sustainability of our local food practices and the options we can consider when dining in or out. I’m usually pretty conscious of what I put into my body. I (try to) eat organic and “real” food but I’ve never thought about buying seasonal food and why that’s important as well. A Couple Cooks website is all about incorporating seasonal foods into recipes, and proving that healthy food can actually taste good. This podcast has been helping me become a more well-rounded person, and that’s what I’m about, so, I’m adding it to my podcast list.
The gist: The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe is produced by SGU Productions, LLC — dedicated to promoting critical thinking, reason, and the public understanding of science through online and other media. The first episode of the SGU podcast went online on May 4th, 2005.”
I tend to have a skeptical attitude in general, so, I was immediately drawn to the title of this show. After listening to a few episodes, I was introduced to so much new information on scientific topics that I can now research further. It also helps that the show displays tasteful humor and wit that anyone can appreciate. The Skeptics’ Guide To The Universe has helped me become a better skeptic and debater!
I hope this list has encouraged you to expand your podcast list! There are so many amazing podcasts out right now, and I’m thankful that they are easily accessible. It can be hard to get in all the reading I want to do each day. Listening to a podcast during my morning routine or during my lunch break makes me feel a lot better about my diminishing reading time. I’m optimistic that they will help you as well.
Also, throughout the month of March, many podcast hosts are encouraging listeners to introduce a friend, relative, or coworker to a new podcast. People who love podcasts will be asked to share stories of why they listen and their favorite podcasts using the hashtag #trypod. I encourage you all to participate!
Digital ink has been spilled across the interwebs these past two weeks on the issues with different types of venture financings. To briefly recap:
3/12: Fred Wilson discussed why he dislikes convertible notes and SAFEs, and how priced equity rounds make more sense at the seed level.
3/20: danprimack provided detail on Wal-mart/Jet.com’s acquisition of ModCloth, and how substituting (rather than supplementing) debt for equity can cause problems.
3/20: Fred Wilson again (impressive turnaround time) further elaborated on Dan’s post with the example of Foursquare’s successful usage of debt, while still warning on its use as growth capital.
3/23: Erin Griffith gave the example of Visible Measures’ less successful usage of debt, along with the situations where it does in fact make sense for a startup to raise debt.
The most frustrating answer to almost any question is “it depends”. The question of which instrument should a company fundraise on is unfortunately no different. Priced equity financings make sense as they provide clarity around valuation and ownership dilution, while creating alignment between the investors and founders. However as the above links show, debt is a trickier subject. From the date of its issuance the clock starts, applying constant pressure that can suffocate a company with ever-accruing interest, fixed payment amounts, prepayment penalties, dilutive warrants, or even personal guarantees forced upon the founders (as if they didn’t already have enough skin in the game).
There are solutions that can give founders the best of both worlds though. I point back to Fred Wilson’s blog, specifically a guest post by Andy Sack on revenue based financing. Revenue based financing is a form of debt that comes without the strings that pushed companies like ModCloth into trouble. An investor makes a loan to a company, and the company pays back said loan via revenue share until a pre-determined multiple on the investment is reached. If revenue increases, the payments amounts increase and the loan is repaid sooner. If revenue decreases, the payment amounts decrease and the company has more breathing room in its free cash flows. Founders keep their ownership, and investors are incentivized to help the companies grow. For a company already generating revenue, this type of investment can make a lot of sense.
Additionally, there’s a newer type of investment on the block that deserves mention: the Indie.vc instrument (for a lack of a better name). Indie.vc makes an investment into a company that converts to equity only upon the sale of the company or the raising of additional equity, or gives them the right to begin receiving monthly distributions three years later if no conversion takes place (with distributions capped at three times their investment). Again, founders keep the vast majority of their ownership, and the investors are still incentivized to help the companies grow. This type of investment also makes a lot of sense and comes with this glorious work of art.
Given that the rumors of this venture bubble popping are now several years old, it’s become clear that founders can succeed with different business models. They can grow at all costs and defer the profitability question at their own risk (e.g. Snap), or they can focus on becoming sustainable from inception and grow more organically (e.g. Atlassian). The former just carries more existential risk for the company than the latter. What’s also clear is that founders have many different weapons in their arsenal, with some being more appropriate than others. Which one is most appropriate though? Well, it depends.
On March 6, SXSW was one of several organizations that spoke at a press conference opposing SB6 (the so-called Texas Bathroom Bill). Representing our 200-person company as well as the thousands of forwarding-thinking professionals who come to Austin each spring, I said:
“SXSW opposes all discriminatory legislation and unequivocally supports civil rights for all. We’re proud to use our platform to call out policies that could harm so many people, and harm Texas. We are asking lawmakers to end this needless pursuit of discriminatory laws, and to focus instead on making our communities as economically strong — and culturally vibrant — as possible.”
A few days later, some of the world’s most brilliant thinkers and insightful artists started arriving in Austin for SXSW 2017. Many local residents began to step away from their jobs for a few days to be part of this annual celebration of creativity and innovation, a celebration that brings more than $325 million dollars in economic impact to Austin — plus massive media coverage of the city from outlets representing every corner of the globe.
However, one group that did not rest during SXSW was the Texas Legislature. On March 8, a Senate Committee passed SB6 by an 8–1 vote despite hours and hours of citizen testimony against the bill. The bill has now moved to the Texas House of Representatives.
According to an email update from the leader of the pro-business, pro-LGBT organization known as Texas Competes, “House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) has made it clear that this bill is not a priority, and that he has concerns about its economic impact. SB6 will likely be referred to the House State Affairs Committee. That Committee’s chair, Byron Cook (R-Corsicana), has also signaled his lack of interest in passing a Bathroom Bill. We therefore expect slower movement in the House.”
“Slower movement” sounds promising. But in the completely unpredictable political climate of 2017, we must remember that the opposition of key House members is the only thing keeping SB6 (and the two dozen other anti-LGBT bills filed) from the desk of Greg Abbott — where such bills could be signed into law by the Texas Governor who hasn’t yet publicly opposed these measures. Additionally, there are possibilities that more anti-LGBT legislation could be attached to other legislative actions before Lone Star lawmakers.
Division and discrimination are not the values that characterize most residents of this great state. A lot more of us support an inclusive vision of the future, one that supports big opportunities as opposed to state-sponsored bigotry. This vision was articulated via a keynote speech at SXSW 2017 from the woman who leads much of the effort against SB 6. Click here to watch the powerful March 12 presentation covering the importance of diversity and inclusion from Jessica Shortall of Texas Competes. If her speech touches your heart, then please sign the online pledge against the Bathroom Bill organized by Texas Competes. Several other groups are also fighting this misguided legislation, including Texas Welcomes All and the Texas Association of Business.
The stakes here are huge. If SB6 becomes law, the international innovation community that traditionally gathers in Austin in March will likely find another home. This departure will mean lost revenue, lost taxes, lost jobs, and a lost path for Texas to lead the world forward.
Hugh Forrest tries to write four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts generally cover technology-related trends. When not attempting to wordsmith or meditating, he serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW in Austin.