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The annual International Crypto Conference, run by the International Association for Cryptologic Research, was first held in 1981. Ever since, its devoted attendees have come to expect certain things: It will take place on the University of California, campus; there will be a beach barbecue; people will stay in the dorms and forget to bring towels; and, on Sunday night, there will be chocolate-covered strawberries.

Courtesy of Allison Bishop

If you’re wondering how a crypto conference could have been around for the past 40-plus years, you’re not alone. Allison Bishop, this year’s general chair, says that some people who have contacted her about sponsorships are baffled when she tells them how old the conference is. But “crypto” does not exclusively refer to “cryptocurrency.” It’s also shorthand for cryptology, or cryptography, which is the practice and study of techniques for secure communication in the presence of adversarial behavior.

Essentially, cryptology is about taking control of communication, Bishop explains: for example, being able to use a credit card online without someone else stealing it. Bishop’s an expert in the field, and her various related endeavors, which include teaching part-time at CUNY, leading a financial startup and doing stand-up , might leave you wondering just how she has time for it all (“I balance them badly, at the moment,” she laughs).

Related: Cybersecurity Is Now Essential to Corporate Strategy. Here’s How to Bring the Two Together.

“I’ve been on a trajectory of trying to go from the more theoretical to the more practical.”

Bishop didn’t always intend to have a career based in crypto. In fact, as an undergraduate at Princeton University, she considered creative writing for a time. But after taking three death-related writing courses along with a number class her first semester, the latter seemed “very cheerful in comparison,” and Bishop ultimately switched her focus to mathematics.

Bishop went on to get her masters in mathematics at the University of Cambridge and a Ph.D. in at the University of Texas at Austin. After that, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft Research New England and joined the faculty of Columbia University in 2013, but, as an academic, she felt she lacked the resources to solve real problems in data science and cybersecurity.

“I’ve been on a trajectory of trying to go from the more theoretical to the more practical,” Bishop explains, “and not because I don’t love theory — I love the systematic and rigorous way of problem-solving that theoreticians have — but I want to be working on problems that impact people.

“And I got pretty frustrated with asking mathematicians, ‘Okay, but what are the applications of this?’ And I’d get answers like, ‘Oh, well it’s super important for sixth-dimensional geometry,'” she continues. “And I’m like, ‘Yeah, I mean to people.'”

So Bishop leaped to industry, considering herself a “partially reformed academic.” Today, she is the president and co-founder of Proof Trading, a startup launching an institutional broker-dealer for U.S. equities. Although Bishop acknowledges the connection between the startup’s work and her cryptography background, she stresses that, once again, it has nothing to do with cryptocurrency.

“I get asked that a lot,” Bishop laughs. “It’s pretty regular vanilla finance in some sense. We design trading algorithms for institutional clients like hedge funds. We’re designing how to take their big orders and chop them into little pieces so you can put them into the market a little bit at a time and not move the price by a large amount.

“All of our competitors are very secretive about their algorithms,” Bishop continues, “and there’s kind of a parallel to cryptography — if somebody’s very secretive about how they’re doing encryption, it’s a bad sign. If someone’s like, ‘I have a cool new way of encrypting data and I can’t tell you how it works,’ then it’s probably broken. Public scrutiny is how we get good algorithms, so we wanted to take that philosophy into finance.”

Related: How Fintech Is Changing the Face of the Stock Market

“Humor is such a powerful tool for cutting through ego and defensiveness.”

Bishop’s interested in how crypto can solve real-world problems, but she also sees the humor in it all too — which makes great material for her stand-up comedy routines. That’s right, Bishop is also a comedian; she regularly performs at The Symposium, an academic stand-up show hosted at Caveat. Bishop got started with comedy after attending LA open mics with her brother Pat Bishop, a comedian who is the co-creator of Comedy Central’s show Corporate and co-writer and co-producer on the upcoming Hulu series The Fool.

“I would see stand-up comics be very blah,” Bishop says, “and that’s what made me think, Oh, I could do this. It’s not that hard. If you’re a fan of comedy and you only go to shows of really good people that you’ve heard of, like Eddie Izzard or Jim Gaffigan, then you think, That’s so hard, I could never do that. But if you go to open mics, you’re like, Oh, most people are bad, it’s fine.”

So Bishop gave stand-up a shot herself in 2015, then got into writing comedy sketches. She even staged musical parody numbers at crypto conferences. For Bishop, comedy is yet another way to make a real impact with her work.

“The most important thing that scientists are tackling is impact,” Bishop explains. “How do we engage people? How do we empower them to reason through science? Humor is such a powerful tool for cutting through ego and defensiveness and so many other things that are a barrier to scientific growth and thinking.”

Cutting through ego in science can be difficult. In her early graduate school days, Bishop recalls reading research papers that all seemed to prove what their authors had set out to prove, and she wondered, Why doesn’t that happen to me? It’s because many people don’t actually solve the problems they want to solve, Bishop explains: They make another discovery along the way and write their papers as if that were the intent all along.

But Bishop sees the value in failure — so much so that it prompted her to launch CFAIL, the Conference for Failed Approaches and Insightful Losses in cryptology. (“A little bit of a dig at CSAIL, which is the cryptography group at MIT,” Bishop laughs).

“We have an annual event where we publish papers that talk through the insightful failures of people along the way,” Bishop says. “I introduced comedy events into that process because it sort of felt like the way we get people in the mood to talk about and embrace failure. You’re not going to have a very serious talk with somebody like a senior researcher admitting something that went wrong. You’re going to need an atmosphere of being in on the joke of it.”

Related: 7 Brands Killing It With Humor on Twitter

“I’m excited about giving people this experience back — about reclaiming it.”

This year’s International Crypto Conference will run from August 13-18.

Bishop says she’s looking forward to the conference’s hybrid format, as having a virtual option, initially offered out of necessity at the height of the pandemic, continues to expand access. But Bishop is also eager to return to the conference in person, and to all of the traditions that go along with it.

“I’m excited about giving people this experience back — about reclaiming it,” Bishop says.

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Market disruption strategies can be highly advantageous for businesses, allowing companies to tap into new markets and gain a competitive edge. However, it’s important to note that not all disruptions are successful. Many companies have tried and failed to disrupt their respective markets. To increase the chances of success, businesses must carefully assess their industry landscape and develop a well-thought-out plan before attempting to disrupt their chosen market.

Related: A Massive, Ignored Market Is Ready for Disruption

What to look for in market disruption

Market disruption is when a creates a or service that completely changes the game. It’s a breakthrough that shatters the status quo and sets a new standard. Market disruptors are known for their , efficiency and speed. They’re trailblazers that pave the way for others to follow. There are two key components of market disruption: the product or service and the company behind it. The product or service must be truly groundbreaking, and the company must be able to bring it to market quickly and efficiently.

Market disruptors are often their most prominent advocates, as they’re passionate about their product or service and its ability to change the world. If you’re looking to create true market disruption, you need a product or service that is entirely new and different from anything else on the market. It needs to be a game-changer that sets a new standard. And it needs to be backed by a company that is innovative, efficient and fast. Market disruptors are changing the world one breakthrough at a time.

Related: The Great Disruption is Here: How to Reposition Your Thinking and Teams for Growth

A step-by-step guide to planning a market disruption strategy

First, optimize. Using existing resources, what existing services or offerings can be produced more efficiently and sell more profitably today? Where in a process can efficiency be increased?

Businesses are always looking for ways to optimize their products and services to increase profitability and efficiency. In many cases, this can be done by using existing resources and improving existing processes. For example, a company may redesign its website to make it more user-friendly and increase . Or, a manufacturing company may choose to streamline its production process to save on costs. Businesses can often find ways to optimize their offerings and improve their bottom line by closely examining what they already have.

Second, determine key perceptions. What do people say about the ? This includes customers, prospects, competitors, partners, vendors and employees. Current customers may perceive a as dependable and high quality, while others might see expensive and overvalued products or services. Meanwhile, potential customers might view the business as a good option but are unaware of all that is offered. Competitors might see a threat due to a solid reputation. Vendors might see it as demanding but ultimately fair. While these are all important groups, focusing on potential customers’ perceptions is vital since that group drives growth.

Third, operational enhancements. What structures, systems and resources are needed to add, improve or remove to protect the stability and improve growth? Protect stability by ensuring that core products remain high quality and reliable. Continue to invest in your customer support infrastructure to address any issues quickly and effectively. To support growth, expand sales and teams, and invest in new customer acquisition channels. Improve our financial planning and forecasting processes to ensure the capital necessary to support your growth plans. Finally, review the organizational structure and revise it as required to ensure that the business can execute plans effectively.

Fourth, explore. The future depends on exploring new opportunities. What new markets, innovations or systems have the potential to shift, disrupt or expand what a business will offer tomorrow? This constant exploration is essential to stay relevant and top-of-mind with customers. Being proactive and looking for new ways to improve ensures that companies are always ahead of the curve. This doesn’t mean chasing the latest shiny object, but it does mean that every business should be open to new ideas and willing to experiment. Only by constantly exploring will any company be able to continue to grow and evolve.

Fifth, competition. Several factors can limit the ability to be more competitive:

  1. The presence of other companies or organizations in the same market can make it difficult to gain market share.
  2. Perceptions about a company or products can make attracting and retaining customers challenging.
  3. Pressures from shareholders or other stakeholders can force companies to make decisions that are not always in their best interests.
  4. can make investing in new products or expanding operations challenging.
  5. Competition from other companies or countries can limit the ability to be more competitive.

Consider strategies to handle each hurdle. Economic conditions might be out of your company’s control, but your strategy can use them to increase success.

Sixth, key audiences. There are key audiences to keep in mind when it comes to success. These groups include potential customers, existing clients, employees and investors. Understanding what motivates them and what drives their decision-making is critical to ensuring that a business can continue to succeed in the future. For example, potential customers are always going to be looking for value. They want to know that what is offered is worth their time and money.

On the other hand, existing clients are more concerned with quality and service. They want to know that they can continue to receive the same high level of service they expect. And finally, employees are always looking for stability and security. They want to know they can count on a business to provide them with a good job and a safe, stable working environment.

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You’re reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

The only constant in life is change, as the old adage goes. And those who fail to adapt and change, risk becoming stagnant, and then, eventually, obsolete.

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Businesses that have found their success have often done so due to their entrepreneurial spirit. Yet, many successful businesses tend to lose that spirit as they grow larger. Companies must not rest on their laurels, but they should instead recognize that the key to continuing growth is maintaining an entrepreneurial spirit that has fueled their growth into the large, successful organizations we see today.

And this is where the intrapreneur comes to the fore. The importance of intrapreneurship, whereby employees exhibit entrepreneurial behaviors within larger organizations such as multinational companies, cannot be understated. While many look externally for innovation, with companies acquiring, merging, or partnering with other external entities, employers should start their search for inspiration within for a whole host of reasons.

The key to a company’s innovation is first and foremost its people. This is why an intrapreneurial culture is invaluable in creating an environment where employees have the space to be creative and develop their ideas, which leads to the development of new products and services. It also helps cut time to market as intrapreneurs, much like entrepreneurs, focus on minimizing cost and risk, whilst developing a minimum viable product. Through this innovation, intrapreneurship helps companies gain a competitive advantage. Not only are intrapreneurs bringing new products and services to market, but they are also pushing the company outside of its comfort zone, identifying opportunities and risks, and taking advantage of them.

Related: Seven Ways To Foster Innovation In Your Company

Intrapreneurship can also be key to attracting, recruiting, and retaining talent. The reopening of economies across the world as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic has catalyzed a historic shortage of talent, with three-quarters of companies reporting difficulties in hiring the right talent –a 16-year high– according to the ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage Survey. Large companies in particular are finding it challenging to attract, recruit, and retain talent, and offering innovative ways to work, including significantly increased global remote working options.

Fostering a workplace culture where intrapreneurship is cultivated can serve to overcome this challenge. Such a culture can attract top entrepreneurial talent who can realize their ambitions within the structured setup of an established large business. Intrapreneurship empowers employees to take ownership of their work, providing them with meaningful experiences, and room to create and innovate. It gives employees opportunities to learn and grow, developing the necessary skills to become the next generation of leaders. And in so doing, companies can retain talent, as employees who enjoy their work and have opportunities for career progression are much less likely to leave. Creating an intrapreneurial mindset can also make a company culture even richer in ideas and diversity. Intrapreneurs will develop highly productive and engaged teams which in turn help the company to grow. As success stories emerge, employees will feel motivated and valued, boosting morale and wellbeing.

Multinational companies are increasingly expected to find the leaders of tomorrow from within their own ranks, whilst expecting them to be ready to face an evolving business landscape. Welcoming internal innovation with open arms unlocks a competitive advantage inaccessible to the competition. Is this our best opportunity to continuously drive positive change for people, planet, and, of course, profit, and enabling an agility in business systems not seen before? The value created by our own intrapreneurs is immeasurable, but one can rest assured that we will be able to appreciate it in the years to come.

Related: Igniting Innovation: Spearheading Intrapreneurship In Organizations

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As a media relations consultant, I’ve been pitching reporters many articles about the effects of inflation. Inflation and increasing prices are issues on everyone’s mind, impacting everyone. Undoubtedly, now is the time to watch where every penny goes — entrepreneur or not.

It’s not just inflation; we’re all experiencing a new and strange reality where there’s a pull to do more, buy more and play more. This desire is coupled with a depressing price increase and tragedies we see daily abroad and in our communities.

However, as an owner, you’re tasked with looking beyond the anxiety-ridden details and are assigned to look for opportunities. Whenever there’s a significant change in your industry, it’s time to read the situation for what it is — a massive opportunity for growth and redirection.

Related: 9 Ways to Conquer Fear and Realize Your True Potential

Build a new model

Lately, I’ve been attracted to a quote by Buckminster Fuller, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Now is the time to make the change. Use that “do more” energy to fuel positive change and build a new model. Whether you’ve been in business a while or are part of “The Great Resignation” and are looking to start a new business, take a minute to think about your goals and priorities.

The first step is to look at your finances. Is there anything you can trim or eliminate from your finances? Are all the resources you have used towards improving your business? If not, it’s time to let them go.

But don’t forget, reducing expenses is not the strongest and only reaction to change. Getting new income is. Find the balance between cutting costs and keeping what you need to succeed.

The same is true for your operations. Do you have machinery, supplies — even an office — that you’re paying for and not getting anything out of? You have permission to cut those operations now.

Start thinking big when you’ve got your internal operations where you want them. Are you really where you want to be? What needs to change to achieve your goals?

Making changes create unexpected improvements

When we asked ourselves these questions, my company decided to revamp our brand messaging and refine our new business targets. Some we did on our own, and some we hired out because we were too close to the story and wanted to stay objective.

Our changes weren’t huge, but they made a big difference. We simplified our website and online brand aesthetic so we could quickly create more engaging content. Before the change, we had to do a lot of background work to have everything match and line up with our marketing materials.

We were bogged down by updating an old website that wasn’t playing to our strengths, so we changed it. We kept the pages and content that we needed and dumped the rest. We now have a logo, color palette and messages that are easy to use in simple situations.

Our changes allowed us to expedite our work, break up bottlenecks and keep pushing out thoughtful content. Our changes surprised us and improved our perception while communicating to our market who we truly were and what kinds of people we help.

Related: 10 Truths for Making Change Successful

Utilize outside help and resources

During this time, we as owners need outside help. With some encouragement and coaching, we can create a new narrative. Not only will outside help clear up who we are to our clientele, but it will make it easier for us to tell a story. Maintaining authenticity was essential to me while I made changes, so I kept that in mind when making any decision, even if it involved outside help.

It’s essential to develop a narrative, make sure it is accurate and that your company consistently embodies it in every decision. For us, that meant more personal marketing. It could be something else for you, but it is crucial to figure out your narrative.

Most importantly, assess what’s in the way of you getting what you ultimately want. This is very much in line with being authentic, but it takes a good bit of self-awareness. If you need help with this one, get a good coach.

Business owners, especially more established ones, can get very set in their ways. Seeing obstacles can be difficult if you arent looking for them. The path forward will be much more straightforward if you can get out of the rut of thinking you don’t need to make changes.

If you are nervous about the future, follow these guidelines to feel more adept at handling whatever it throws at you. Be alert and be ready to take advantage of every change that comes your way.

Related: Don’t Let Fear Conquer Your Greatness

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Oberon Sinclair, “Queen of ” and founder of creative agency My Young Auntie, once had a caller that few ever will: the BBC. We want to follow you around and do a documentary on you. Her immediate response? Oh, God no.

Courtesy of My Young Auntie

But the broadcasting company’s interest in her was hardly surprising: Sinclair is known as “vegetable royalty” for single-handedly taking kale from little-known garnish to superfood icon.

Sinclair’s hugely successful guerilla marketing campaign alone is worthy of the screen. But, remarkably, it’s just one of many fascinating episodes that have unfolded throughout the 54-year-old’s dazzling life and career, which she describes to Entrepreneur as “a series of mad moments” that have taken her from to Hong Kong, Los Angeles and .

“That was probably the coolest place to work in London then, back in the 1920s.”

It all began when Sinclair decided she wanted to be a journalist. The London native was enrolled in a government-training course to learn how to type when a career officer (who “literally looked like he worked at a Chase Bank in Manhattan, no offense”) told her she needed to complete the program — that wasn’t part of the plan, so when he asked her what she was interested in, she just said “music,” not thinking much of it.

The call Sinclair received after that would change the trajectory of her life. “He said, in a very serious British voice, ‘I’ve got you an internship at Motown Records.’ I thought someone had given me something quite strong. I didn’t know what the hell was going on. Thought it was some kind of joke. I showed up for my interview, and it was RCA Records in London in their building.”

Sinclair did every job there, from writing press releases and sending out white label records to taking care of the artists, including Stevie Wonder and the Commodores, when they came to town. BMG acquired RCA in 1987, coinciding with the launch of MTV Europe, and in the second of Sinclair’s series of serendipitous events, she called MTV up, went in for an interview, and landed herself the position.

“That was probably the coolest place to work in London then, back in the 1920s,” she quips. At MTV, Sinclair had a “fancy-pants office,” where she produced shows, wrote news stories and worked with “gorgeous, 10-foot-tall Swedish and German DJs,” including Kristiane Backer, whom Sinclair is still friends with to this day.

Sinclair jetted off to Hong Kong a year later for her next adventure. She started her own entertainment company from her kitchen (pre-cell phone, she once had to take the Commodores to the Macau Grand Prix on a bus when their car didn’t arrive), and even starred in a Chinese soap opera for two years. “I played a young, eccentric mother and drove a polka dot Jeep, and my catchphrase was ‘Ding Dong,'” Sinclair says.

Image credit: Courtesy of My Young Auntie

Related: 10 Essential Tips For a Long and Lucrative Music Career

“I work with companies and products that are doing interesting things and making a difference in people’s lives in some way, shape or form.”

Sinclair sold her company “for not a lot of money” and moved to California briefly. She then headed to New York, where she ran nightclub Rebar in the ’90s, putting on unsigned bands like Space Hog, and ultimately got a job with Island Records, where she worked in PR and A&R before people began to encourage her to start her own agency — which she did, setting up shop in her kitchen again in 1997. “Kitchens don’t get a lot of credit these days,” she says.

“I started [my agency] by doing a retrospective in ’97 with Jamie Reid, the Sex Pistols artist,” Sinclair says, “which was a huge retrospective of all his work and new images of his lithographs. And it did so well that I was called up by Vivienne Westwood, which was completely bonkers because she was my hero. And so I worked with her on her launch, and that went really well.”

Eventually, Sinclair met Kate and Andy Spade, with whom she became close friends, and worked with Andy on his men’s clothing brand Jack Spade. They launched the brand with the Honest Campaign, dropping wallets around Manhattan and seeing who would return them, which culminated in a self-published mini-book about the experience that was sold in the Jack Spade store.

It was a harbinger of Sinclair’s creative endeavors to come, encompassing everything from one of Hermès‘s biggest campaigns ever to, of course, the legendary kale movement.

“I work with companies and products that are doing interesting things and making a difference in people’s lives in some way, shape or form,” Sinclair says, “and that keeps me interested and curious and allows me to work on my creative endeavors, whatever they are, if it’s painting or somehow bringing my life into it. It’s not ever been a job for me. Never.”

Related: What’s the Next Kale? How Business Owners Can Capitalize on Food Trends

“It wasn’t as premeditated as some people would think — I’m not that orchestrated in my thoughts. I follow my passion.”

Sinclair’s kale journey began on a trip to France — she had the greens in a salad there. “I said, ‘What’s this?’ and they were like ‘Oh, it’s kale,'” she recalls.

Records show that kale, or leaf cabbage, has been grown and consumed for nearly 4,000 years. But before Sinclair decided to make kale a star, the vegetable had received little attention in the U.S. In fact, Pizza Hut was reportedly one of the nation’s largest kale buyers before 2013; the restaurant chain purchased 14,000 pounds in 2012 for its U.S. locations — using it as a garnish to decorate its salad bars.

Of course, all that changed when inspiration struck Sinclair. “I’m not an expert in the food world,” she admits, “but I just figured it was something interesting to put out there.” Part of Sinclair’s fascination with kale stems from the word “kale” itself — she likes words and how they sound, remarking that the whole endeavor “just seemed something nutty.”

“It wasn’t as premeditated as some people would think,” Sinclair says. “I’m not that orchestrated in my thoughts. I follow my passion.”

At the time Sinclair was working with The Fat Radish, a popular restaurant on New York’s Lower East Side, and she saw the opportunity to start spreading the word. “We put kale on the , and I started placing it [around]. And for me, it was just really fun to try to do this guerilla marketing campaign to see if I could prove it to myself, to see if I could do something that was interesting — and it worked, it just ripple-effected.”

Image credit: Courtesy of My Young Auntie

Not only did Sinclair place kale on chalkboards and menus across Manhattan, but she also created the American Kale Association to lend even more credibility to the cabbage, complete with popular Facebook and Twitter pages. “I had to do it,” Sinclair says, “because I love the word ‘association,’ and I love associations. I just thought of it. Also, the initials are AKA, so for me it was kind of tongue-in-cheek humor, having fun.”

For a while, people believed the American Kale Association was legitimate. But the National Farmers Union, the Fresh Produce Association and other kale farmers denied the existence of an official kale-lobbying group in the U.S., and in 2015, Sinclair admitted to a reporter at Mindbodygreen that she’d made up the organization for the campaign.

Sinclair’s creative efforts paid off — incredibly so. It was 2014 when the reality of kale’s new superstardom sunk in: Sinclair saw Michelle Obama eating kale chips on Jimmy Fallon‘s Tonight Show and Beyoncé wearing a “kale”-emblazoned sweatshirt in her “7/11” video. “It’s ridiculous what’s gone on,” she says. “I felt I had imposter syndrome. I still do. I’m still like, ‘Who did that? Oh, I did.'”

The BBC came calling, and many of Sinclair’s friends encouraged her to take full advantage of kale’s popularity — to make products and go to Congress. But Sinclair wasn’t interested. “That’s not my life,” she explains, “I don’t want that. I want to put something out there and do something good for the world.

“Everyone must think I’m the most confident person,” she continues, “but I’m not. It’s like when you’re a kid and you have your little group of friends and the little things that you do with them and your jokes — I feel like that as an adult. I want that as an adult. I want that with work. I want that with friends. I want that with clients. Because then it’s effortless. Anything you do is effortless if you enjoy what you do.”

Related: Loving What You Do Is the Cornerstone of Wealth and Happiness

“The old-school boss thing is boring. It’s an ego thing that I don’t want any part of — I never did.”

Sinclair doesn’t believe in a separation between work and play — she tackles products and campaigns she’s passionate about, and that bring comfort to people. Naturally, that bleeds into the way she runs My Young Auntie, which is celebrating its 25th year in business. And as a partner in NeueHouse, a private work and social space for creators, innovators and thought leaders, Sinclair is well-versed in revolutionizing the typical office experience.

“I don’t ever have a clipboard,” Sinclair says. “I never send out press releases. It’s me talking to someone. I drive [my assistant] mad because I’m like, ‘Pick the phone up, call someone.’ Because people don’t call people anymore. And so it all becomes a bit generic. I like human emotion, sending a letter to someone, writing in an ink pen.”

Most of Sinclair’s employees have never done PR in the past, and that’s very intentional. “I like that approach because I don’t want anyone that’s too polished or jaded,” Sinclair explains. “It always feels fun.”

According to Sinclair, the ability to have fun is key to getting quality work done. “My gosh, if everyone just went into a meeting and was honest about how they were and felt and didn’t feel so intimidated or judged, everyone would have a lot more fun,” she says. “Business should be fun. It should be fun because you do your best work when you’re happy.”

That also means foregoing a strict nine-to-five schedule: Sinclair says some of her ideas come to her in the middle of the night anyway. “I don’t want to feel guilty about not being in the office at nine in the morning,” she says. “I don’t want to do that. I’ve never done that. If we have a good day, we leave early. If we need to work late, we work late. The old-school boss thing is boring. It’s an ego thing that I don’t want any part of — I never did.”

Related: Want a More Creative Team? Start by Taming Your Own Ego.

“When you are curious about the world, people and life, and about doing something that’s out of your comfort zone, it’s good.”

What’s next on Sinclair’s agenda? She’s set her sights on another product she believes doesn’t receive enough mainstream attention: oil.

Sinclair was first introduced to the product when she spent time working in Jamaica, where she admired women’s skin and observed them incorporating oil into their skincare routines.

Many women are afraid to use oil on their skin, Sinclair says, because they think it will make them break out. “All these women are doing surgery and using these creams, and cream doesn’t really work — but oil does work,” she adds.

“About 15 years ago, I started using oil every morning after my shower and before going to bed, putting it all over my body,” Sinclair says. “I just turned 54 — no shame in that, I’m not an ageist person — and I’ve got really good skin because I’ve used oil.”

Sinclair recently started working with United & Free Skincare, an inclusive, vegan, cruelty-free-certified personal care brand founded by brother-sister team Brandon and Kaleena Morrison. The siblings’ products include a softening balm and soothing oil.

Image credit: Courtesy of My Young Auntie

Ultimately, Sinclair aims to “throw a wrench” into whatever it is she’s working on — to do things that haven’t been done before.

“People have gotten lazy,” Sinclair says. “Fashion‘s gotten lazy. Design‘s gotten lazy. Merchandising, shop windows, used to be really fascinating and amazing. I look at everything in the world, from what’s painted on the side of a dumpster, to plants or flowers — anything. I’m curious all the time. I’m looking around, up, down, around the corner. I’m interested in people, in their backstories.

“When you are curious about the world, people and life, and about doing something that’s out of your comfort zone, it’s good — to keep growing and to keep doing,” she says.

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Perhaps one of the greatest revelations amid the pandemic is that when it comes to innovation, no entity or individual can truly go it alone. Strategic alliances are fundamental to building a well-executed innovation model that disrupts the status quo in the ecosystem. COVID-19 also showcases how technology is transforming established corporates, propelling nimble startups to pivot and spurring academia to adapt to change in such complex and unpredictable times.

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It is my belief that impactful innovation can be achieved only if ecosystem stakeholders play to each other’s strengths and remain flexible while building their long-term competitive advantage. For example, The Microsoft Partner Ecosystem aims to collaborate with multiple partners to provide innovative solutions to specific challenges. The tech behemoth collaborates with device partners and independent software vendors, among others, to mutually seize new opportunities and provide partners access to resources to scale their businesses. In the era of the pandemic, Microsoft’s partner program addresses the needs of consumers who are working and learning remotely.

This is just one illustration of how key players in an ecosystem can mutually reap the benefits of a collaborative approach to innovation. Partnerships can take several forms, such as startup-corporate; academia-startup; corporate-government, venture capitalist-startup, corporate-corporate and so on.

Choosing the right innovation partner

In my view, it’s important to be aware of the type of innovation leaders seek to pursue. This decision is directly linked to identifying the right innovation partner in the rapidly evolving business climate. Since innovation cannot exist in silos, we see a widespread trend towards forging external partnerships for reasons such as boosting a company’s R&D efforts. This is primarily true for large corporates as their external partnerships are also driven by the need to explore avenues for venture capital investments. They partner with startups to access new technology and stay on top of the innovation game. Startups seek corporate partners for funding, access to new markets and resources, and onboarding new customers.

A holistic approach to collaborations is fundamental to creating a ‘one ecosystem’.

Creating pathways for innovation partnerships

According to an in-depth multi-year study on The Eight Essentials of Innovation, the business of innovation is definitely fraught with risk. Organizations should strive to handle risks rather than eliminate them from their growth strategy. Business leaders must identify pockets of opportunities that are certain to achieve financial growth objectives. Partnership models to promote innovation should not be ad hoc and poorly coordinated. If innovation has to be consistent, ecosystem stakeholders should recognize the value innovation management brings to implementing a robust exchange of new ideas among stakeholders.

I would urge innovation leaders to tread carefully when forging alliances with foreign collaborators. The international ecosystem is complex to navigate and stakeholders would need to overcome hurdles in the areas of cultural, legal and institutional differences. The digital era demands consistent innovation efforts across the corporate, startup and government landscape. This implies that the days of incremental innovation are behind us. Therefore, stakeholders should usher in best practices in collaborative innovation by improving the infrastructure landscape across geographies and driving public-private partnerships.

Crucially, innovation-focused partnerships require adequate preparation and a deep understanding of the regulatory landscape. Stakeholders should also be prepared to change their mindset to explore unique partnership models that will enable them to reinvent their business, if the need arises. For example, automobile major Ford Motor Company, self-driving technology startup Argo AI and retail giant Walmart have partnered to launch an autonomous vehicle delivery service at scale across urban markets in America. The collaboration draws on the existing strengths and capabilities of the individual entities.

Organizations seeking to become pioneers in game-changing innovation must foster a culture that encourages early planning and ideation. They should have strategic clarity on the value they want to derive from these partnerships. Thus, leaders must evaluate their strategic partnership decisions to consider whether it will catapult them to the next frontier of innovation or hold them back. Slow processes within corporates, red-tapism in the government machinery or hurried decisions implemented by ‘impatient to grow’ startups are some of the reasons that could impede the pace of innovation.

Thus, the entire ecosystem must work together as one to make the processes more efficient. Stakeholders must develop a winning mindset to form a successful innovation partnership. If innovation through cross-functional collaboration has to thrive, potential partners must continuously refine ideas and support each other’s innovation goals.

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Innovation is fundamental in the development of a successful . Innovation is taking an and turning it into something valuable and relevant. Creativity is the ability to see the world in new ways, find hidden patterns, make connections between seemingly disparate things and generate new ideas. Innovation often drives creativity, but creativity does not always lead to innovation.

A creative and innovative entrepreneur can identify opportunities and create new value for their customers or clients. To be a creative and visionary entrepreneur, you must have the proper mindset.

This article will define that mindset and understand how to develop it.

What are entrepreneurial creativity and innovation?

Entrepreneurial creativity is the ability to develop new ideas and solutions to problems. It is the ability to see into the future and generate ideas, solutions and innovations before they are needed. It is the ability to solve your customer’s or client’s problems before they even realize the problem exists.

Entrepreneurial innovation is the ability to turn an idea into reality. It is about finding new ways to do things and making them better. Entrepreneurial innovation is about creating new products or services, improving processes or finding new markets for existing products or services.

Becoming a creative and innovative entrepreneur requires combining both hemispheres of your brain. Creativity is a right-brain process, while innovation is a left-brain process. Therefore, you want to learn how to work with both hemispheres of your brain and keep a balance between the two.

In today’s day and age, we are accustomed and taught to use our left brain very efficiently. However, our right brain, the key to innovation, is missing from our curriculum. already requires you to be very efficient at using your left brain. Learning to use your right brain more efficiently will enhance your creativity, so you combine it with your innovations. Let’s look at how you can be more creative to become both a creative and innovative entrepreneur.

Related: Creativity, Innovation, And Leadership: The Elements of Transformation

How to be more creative

There are a few key things that you can do to develop your entrepreneurial creativity. To be creative, you need to have a mindset open to growth. Here are some practices to be more creative:

  1. Have a growth mindset. A growth mindset is a belief that your abilities and intelligence can be developed through effort, good teaching and learning from mistakes. This belief leads to a love of learning and a willingness to take risks.
  2. Be open to new ideas. Being open to new and different ideas is a must for innovation. So, be willing to experiment and try new things.
  3. Practice creative thinking. To be creative, you need to be able to think outside the box. You need to be able to see things in new ways and make connections between seemingly disparate things. Practicing creative thinking regularly helps you become a creative thinker.
  4. Take risks. Yes, taking risks is vital to being creative and innovative, but don’t forget the importance of planning. A plan gives you a roadmap to follow and helps ensure you take the proper steps to reach your goals.
  5. Think outside the box. You also need to be able to think outside the box and come up with new solutions to problems. Do not take the beaten path.
  6. Be passionate about what you do. It shows in your work when you are passionate about what you do. In addition, passion helps you think creatively and outside the box, two main components of being an innovative entrepreneur.
  7. Be willing to experiment. Try new things and see what works. Don’t be afraid of failing. Failure is a part of the creative process and can lead to new and better ideas.
  8. Practice freestyle writing regularly. Writing is a right-brain activity, especially . It helps you access the information that your left brain cannot.
  9. Engage in right-brain activities regularly. These activities include but are not limited to drawing, painting, playing music, creating music, reading, singing, games that require imagination, etc. These activities help you use your right brain, making you more creative as you do these things often.
  10. Last but not least, surround yourself with other creative and innovative people. This will help to stimulate your thinking and give you new ideas to work with.

Related: 5 Ways to Unlock Your Entrepreneurial Creativity

Benefits of using creativity for innovation

So, what can you gain from practicing the list above? A whole lot! Practicing creativity in your life can lead you to be a better entrepreneur and infusing creativity into your business makes you an innovative leader within your industry. Here are some of the benefits of being a creative and innovative entrepreneur.:

  • You will be able to create new products or services that solve problems for people.
  • You will be able to improve processes and make them more efficient.
  • You will be able to find new markets for existing products or services.
  • You will be able to create new jobs.
  • You will be able to make a positive impact on society.
  • You will be able to have a lot of fun and satisfaction in what you do.

These are only some things you can do to become a creative and innovative entrepreneur. If you practice these things, you will be well on your way to success.

Related: 5 Ways to Inspire Creativity and Innovation in Your Employees

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Conventional farming is intended to feed the world, but the reality is it’s killing our soils and the planet. Since farmers began tilling in the U.S., 57.6 billion tons of topsoil have eroded. Globally, more than 70% of our topsoil is gone. Representatives from the ‘ Food and Organization () estimate if soil degradation continues at those rates, we will have less than 60 harvests left before our global food system falters or collapses.

For years, we’ve neglected the health of our soil, unintentionally employing practices that degrade it and leave it less fertile. As a result, farmers have found themselves in a negative feedback loop where they rely on more inputs like fertilizers and pesticides to get the yields they strive for.

But the problems don’t stop there. The levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere are the highest they’ve been in over 4 million years, yet at the same time, there’s not nearly enough carbon in our soil. According to the FAO, we’ve lost 250 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent from farmland soils into the atmosphere. If that carbon was back in the soil, it could be contributing to healthier soils, more resilient farmlands and more nutrient-dense and drought-resistant crops.

While the picture painted above may seem dire, there’s an untapped opportunity to turn these bleak predictions around — and it’s right beneath our feet.

We’ve painted carbon as the enemy, but in the soil, it can be a resource more valuable than gold, offering both economic and environmental gains. We can change the course on climate destruction, revolutionize agriculture and tap into a $200 billion economic opportunity, but it requires the prioritization of soil health and the tools to measure it.

Related: Why We Need An Operation Warp Speed For Agriculture

The hidden power of soil  

The stark reality of what soil degradation means for both farm yields and is drawing interest from everyone from corporations to the government.

Companies like and are finally investing in soil-friendly regenerative agriculture practices. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is looking to move $30 billion in farm aid to pay farmers to adopt practices that capture carbon in their soil. The growing interest in soil-first regenerative agriculture is for good reason: It’s soil replenishing and offers a ripple effect of benefits for soil health, plant health, farmers and the planet alike.

In contrast to conventional agriculture practices, regenerative approaches to farming including no-till and cover crops improve the soil’s ability to store carbon through photosynthesis. In turn, carbon-rich soil benefits farmers, growing more resilient, nutrient-dense plants, higher yields and requiring fewer inputs, thus saving farmers thousands of dollars yearly and making room for greater profits. 

As well as those cost savings, healthier soil unlocks the potential for a whole new carbon . But to help our soil (and food systems) thrive, we need better tools of measurement.

Related: It’s Time to Put Our Soils First. Long-Term Global Food Production Depends on It.

Towards better soil data

In order to build farmers’ trust in soil-boosting regenerative practices, there needs to be access to affordable, reliable and scalable soil measurement at depth. This is the problem we need to solve for today: our lack of good soil data.

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you’ve likely used a scale to measure your progress. It’s clear, it’s straightforward, you can see it yourself, measure it on demand and get the result immediately. Measuring soil carbon, however, is more complicated. Right now, uncovering how much carbon there is in soil generally involves digging and extracting core samples from a field. Then, the sample is sent to a lab to be burned and quantified for carbon. It’s expensive, it takes time and farmers can’t do it themselves — and it’s not that accurate. We can get a sense of the carbon content of the sample, but the error margins for quantification of carbon in that field can be 40% to 90%.

There is no cost-effective, real-time and accurate soil health testing as it stands. To get farmers and industry on board with protecting and nurturing soil health, we need an inexpensive, scalable way to plan, track and manage soil health and nutrition.

Because there’s variability in our measurements, incentives for farmers to prioritize soil health, like carbon credit systems, have typically been undervalued. That gap is preventing us from tapping into tremendous economic benefits.

Related: These Entrepreneurs Hope to Use Garbage to Change the Way America Grows its Food

The potential of soil as an asset class 

We’ve seen the success of solar farms in unlocking solar energy’s value as an asset class. But unlike solar farming, where there are highly accurate tools to measure the energy assets produced, soil health is complex and expensive to quantify and adequate tools to measure it just don’t exist.

But what if farmers could produce a secondary crop: carbon stored in the ground? This would essentially function as its own asset, like money in the bank, appreciating and adding value through growing nutrient-rich, resilient soil. 

We’re seeing carbon credits as an asset class catching on. Many are familiar with programs where people and businesses can buy credits to offset their carbon emissions from things like running factories or flying. So far, investors are enthusiastic about the potential of this space — credits linked to projects that curb deforestation, for example, saw an almost 300% growth between September 2020 and 2021. With better soil carbon quantification, agriculture can be the next frontier.

As we work to build low-cost technology that can reliably measure the full range of the soil’s components and provide actionable data, I’m optimistic that we can mitigate our current challenges from the threat of food insecurity to the climate crisis, and with economic benefits to all. There are solutions if we look to soil health for answers. In fact, our species’ survival depends on it.

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On July 20, 1969, 650 million people watched as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon. NASA’s lunar landing was years in the making, a feat of engineering and ingenuity taken on by a team of more than 400,000 people to test and build the spacecraft, rockets, suits and instruments on board and to calculate how to get Armstrong, Aldrin and Michael Collins safely there and back — although at the time there was no guarantee that would be the case.

The space race kicked into high gear in April 1961 when Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth. While the Soviet Union’s accomplishment spurred the United States to put a man on the moon before the 1960s came to a close, space exploration has long since become a more internationally collaborative affair.

In the private sector, Virgin Galactic announced that it was going public in 2019, making it the first space tourism company to be publicly listed, beating out main competitors Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Related: Buzz Aldrin Wants You to Know — the Sky Is Not the Limit

The company said that it received customer reservations from more than 600 people in 60 countries, who put down $80 million in collected deposits for the chance to head up to space on one of Virgin Galactic’s spacecrafts.

Virgin Galactic’s founder Richard Branson said at the time that he was aiming to take his first suborbital flight on the lunar landing anniversary. While there hasn’t been any official announcements from Branson that he will be making the trip yet, there definitely will be people traveling to space on that special date. 

On July 20, 2019, exactly 50 years to the date of the Apollo 11 launch, cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, who hails from Italy, traveled to the International Space Station. They joined fellow Expedition 60 crew members, NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, the current ISS commander.

Read on to glance back on some historic moments and look ahead to what’s on the horizon for space exploration.

NASA

Don’t stop me now.

On March 22, 1946, a rocket called the JPL-Ordnance Wac was the first American rocket to leave earth’s atmosphere.

US Navy

Here’s looking at you.

1946 was a big year for out-of-this-world achievements. On Oct. 24, a V2 rocket launched from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico equipped with a 35-millimeter camera and captured the first ever images of earth from space.

NASA

The space race begins.

On April 12, 1961, the space race was kicked off in earnest when Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human ever in Earth’s orbit.

NASA

America gets in the game.

On May 5, 1961, astronaut Alan B. Shepard completed the Freedom 7 mission — the United States’ first suborbital flight. In July, Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, completed the second suborbital mission for NASA.

NASA

To put a man on the moon.

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy addressed Congress about the necessity to invest in space exploration, famously saying, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.”

NASA

Beaten to the punch.

From Jan. 31 to Feb. 3, 1966, an unmanned Soviet spacecraft called Luna 9 made the first successful soft landing on the moon and then sent the first radio television transmission back to earth.

NASA

Making an impact.

On March 1, 1966, another Soviet ship, the Venera 3, became the first spacecraft to impact the surface of another planet on its mission to Venus.

NASA

First contact.

A few months later, on June 2, 1966, Surveyor 1 becomes the first U.S. spacecraft to land on the moon.

NASA

Competition is mounting.

On May 19, 1971, Russian spacecraft Mars 2 became the first to make an impact on Mars, with the first soft landing on the planet following on May 28.

NASA

Take a lap.

But on Nov. 13, 1971, Mariner 9, an unmanned NASA probe, completed an orbit around Mars and is the first spacecraft to orbit around another planet.

NASA

The Red Planet.

A month later, on Dec. 2, 1971, Russia’s Mars 3 completes the first unmanned landing on Mars.

NASA

A new frontier.

On July 20, 1976, NASA’s Viking 1 was the first successful U.S. mission to land on the surface of Mars. Viking 1 ultimately spent four years and conducted 1,489 orbits of the planet, while Viking 2, which arrived on Sept. 3, 1976, worked until July of 1978. Both transmitted images and studied the terrain of the planet, searching for possible life and sending back valuable information to NASA, laying the groundwork for the Curiosity Mars Rover’s memorable arrival in 2012.

NASA

A tragic day.

On Jan, 28, 1986, the Challenger Space Shuttle explosion saw the terrible loss of the seven crew members on board.

NASA

Step right up.

The first-ever commercial space tourist, an American millionaire and businessman from New York named Dennis Tito, hitched a ride up to the International Space Station on the Russian Soyuz-TM 32 on April 28, 2001.

NASA

A new member of the team.

On Feb. 24, 2011, the International Space Station got a cool new helper in the form of Robonaut 2, the first ever humanoid robot in space.

Virgin Galactic

A sweet ride.

In February 2016, Richard Branson unveiled Virgin Galactic’s second SpaceShipTwo spacecraft — the first company spacecraft to be manufactured wholly in-house. It is called the VSS Unity.

SpaceX

Sticking the landing.

On April 8, 2016, Elon Musk’s 14-year-old SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket made its first ever landing at sea after successfully delivering cargo to the ISS.

Blue Origin

Third time’s a charm.

In April 2017, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ spaceflight startup Blue Origin launched and landed its reusable rocket for the third time

NASA

Are we alone in the universe?

On April 13, 2017, scientists at NASA shared findings from the agency’s Cassini spacecraft mission to Saturn. It seems that a chemical reaction that is occurring underneath the icy surface of one of the planet’s moons, Enceladus, could be a sign that it could also support alien life, in another potentially groundbreaking discovery in the search for life beyond Earth. On September 15, 2017, Cassini ended its 20 year mission. 

NASA

New worlds to explore.

On Feb. 22, 2017, NASA announced the discovery of a planetary system of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting around a red dwarf star. It was named TRAPPIST-1 and it is the first system that NASA has found like it. Three of the planets in the system are in what’s called the habitable zone, which means that there is a possibility that the worlds are home to liquid water and a life-supporting atmosphere.

Amanda Edwards | Getty Images

Breaking records and glass ceilings.

In June 2018, Peggy Whitson, the first female commander of the International Space Station and first woman to be chief of NASA’s astronaut corps, retired after 32 years with NASA. Whitson completed three missions on board the ISS — two of which she led — and spent 665 total days in space, which is more than any other NASA astronaut. 

Whitson also conducted more spacewalks than any other female astronaut, spending 60 hours and 21 minutes outside of the space station. On her last space station mission, Whitson became the oldest female astronaut, at 57, to reach orbit.

In February 2020, Astronaut Christina Koch will return to Earth after an 11-month stay onboard the ISS, nearing Kelly’s 340 days in orbit. In December 2019, she will pass Whitson’s 288 days in space, setting a new record for female astronauts.

AL SEIB | Getty Images

The secrets of Mars.

On Nov. 26, 2018, NASA successfully landed the InSight Mars lander on the red planet in order to better understand the inner workings of Mars. NASA will use the probe to take the planet’s “vital signs,” closely monitoring weather, temperature, tectonic activity — meaning Marsquakes — and what happens when meteorites hit the planet. It took the probe six months to travel more than 300 million miles, and was the first landing on Mars since the Curiosity Rover in 2012. 

Orlando Sentinel | Getty Images

Farewell Kepler, Hello TESS.

On Oct. 30, 2018, NASA’s Kepler space telescope was retired, and the nine-year-long planet hunting mission came to an end. The Kepler team discovered 2,899 exoplanet candidates and confirmed the existence of 2,681 exoplanets in the galaxy outside of our solar system.

But while Kepler said goodbye, in April of 2018, NASA launched TESS — short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite — into orbit for a two-year mission to see which exoplanets could harbor and support life.

NASA | Getty Images

Going farther than ever before.

On Jan. 1, 2019, NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft completed the furthest flyby ever, capturing images of a 20-mile wide minor planet classified as 2014 MU69. Its nickname is Ultima Thule, which translates to “distant places beyond the known world.” New Horizons was also the first spacecraft to fly past Pluto in 2015.

NBC NewsWire | Getty Images

Humans living in space?

On April 12, 2019, the results of NASA’s Twin Study was published in the academic journal Science. The paper detailed the findings of the research, which monitored the effect of spaceflight on the human body. The study’s test subjects were twin brothers and retired NASA astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly.

Scott Kelly spent 340 days in space on the International Space Station and became the first American astronaut to spend almost a year in space. He returned to earth on March 2, 2016. The research revealed the ways spending that much time in space can affect things such as the expression of genes and immune system responses.

“Our space agencies won’t be able to push out farther into space, to a destination like Mars, until we can learn more about how to strengthen the weakest links in the chain that make space flight possible: the human body and mind,” wrote Kelly in his memoir, Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery.

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Bullying. Inclusion. Exclusivity. Diversity. Innovation. I just wrote that out, and it occurred to me how much these words seem to go against one another. They don’t even seem like they are from the same vocabulary, let alone from the same subject. But they are. And as with any change in attitude, we need to understand the problem to act upon a solution and enact some change.

Diverse teams are not just a nice add-on strategy. They can create a culture that unleashes the full power of innovation. But only when management drives this culture and develops the capability to lead it through their actions. Only when everyone in the company understands that the key to winning is accelerating learning, creating and innovating across diverse teams at multiple levels of the organization.

Related: How to Disrupt Workplace Culture to Reinforce High Performing …

The problem with the bullying culture

The term bully conjures images of a child on a playground, knocking others down and stealing their lunch money. But the impact of adult bullying in the workplace is no laughing matter.

A recent study by the Society for (SHRM) found that one in three employees believes bullying occurs in their workplace. This figure is especially troubling given that some of the respondents said their organization has an anti-bullying policy in place. The study also found that most organizations don’t have a procedure for addressing workplace bullying.

A toxic culture can lead to an inability to recruit and retain talent, lower levels of employee engagement, a lack of , a poor reputation and ultimately low profitability. Bullying creates an environment where people are afraid to speak up, challenge the status quo and take risks.

This means that you end up with a company full of people who are too scared to try new things, too frightened to make mistakes and too afraid to innovate.

This culture has stifled innovation in many companies because it suppresses truly creative thinking. This is because the exclusivity of bullying reduces self-esteem, making people less likely to take risks or put forward new ideas. It also prevents diversity of thought and action — two key ingredients required for true innovation.

How did we get to this point? How have we created such toxic workplaces? And what can be done to change them?

Building an inclusive culture to spur innovation

The culture of bullying is a culture of fear, and it’s a culture that stifles innovation. You need to trust each other and have safe conversations so you can challenge each other’s ideas.

According to a survey, racially and ethnically diverse companies outperform industry norms by 35 percent.

  1. Innovation happens when different people with diverse backgrounds, skills and experiences share their ideas, knowledge and insights. If all your team members are similar, they won’t bring many new ideas to the table. Having more homogenous teams is like having two people look at the same problem from two different angles — they will end up seeing the same thing. In contrast, diverse teams bring fresh perspectives and experience to problems, which leads to new ideas and innovative solutions.
  2. Inclusive leaders understand that innovation thrives in diverse environments. This is why ‘s engineers believe that the company’s success rests on its ability to attract a workforce that reflects the diversity of its users. So too does ‘s CEO, , who recently made public a memo sent to all employees reminding them of the value of bringing different perspectives together.
  3. The inclusive leader is the key to creating an inclusive culture. This leader ensures that all employees feel supported, respected and valued regardless of differences. She or he also builds a culture that fosters diversity of thought and encourages everyone to contribute to the best of their ability. The inclusive leader embraces diversity by bringing more varied people into the organization, hiring across the spectrum of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, etc.

Related: Creating a Culture of Innovation Starts With the Leader

Diversity beyond numbers

Diversity is about more than just numbers, as we often see in many companies today. It’s also about how we treat our colleagues and create a culture of innovation that benefits from their diverse opinions and backgrounds.

In a recent survey from Deloitte, 80 percent of the respondents indicated that inclusion is important when choosing an employer. But what makes a leader inclusive?

Inclusion goes beyond diversity to ensure people feel welcomed, respected, supported and valued for who they are. It’s also about creating an environment where people are encouraged to bring their full selves to work each day.

The logic follows that if companies have a more diverse workforce, they will have a more diverse customer base and, therefore, better understand and serve those customers. Diversity on its own, however, has not yielded the desired results. Studies have shown that diversity has little impact on productivity or innovation. This occurs when leaders do not actively create inclusive environments that allow employees to maximize their contributions.

The inclusive leader can challenge the status quo, embrace the diversity of thought and listen with empathy to create an environment where everyone can do their best work and innovate.

Takeaway

The diversity index must no longer be considered a box to tick or an exercise to pursue. It is an essential requirement in a digital world where the talent pool continuously increases.

It is time for a game-changing approach to analytics, where we stop segmenting people and start seeing them all as whole individuals. It is time for us to replace the culture of bullying with a culture of innovation and create leaders that are inclusive of all people. We should make social profiling more about character than numbers. In so doing, we can all be better equipped to lead ourselves and others through life’s ups and downs in our increasingly connected world.

Related: Bullies At Work: Stamping Out Abuse In The Workplace

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