February 18, 2021 10 min read

This story originally appeared on PCMag

Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein spends a good amount of her research time untangling spacetime and seeking out gravitational waves. And in her forthcoming book, The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred, the Harvard grad and theoretical physicist offers a modern take on the mind-bending concepts that have fascinated scientists for centuries.

Now Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy & Core Faculty in Women’s Studies at the University of New Hampshire, she is also pushing forward the boundaries of particle physics with her involvement in “Snowmass,” a scientific study organized by the Division of Particles and Fields (DPF) of the American Physical Society, and the NASA STROBE-X Probe Concept Study, which is part of NASA’s mission plans for the 2030s to investigate the formation, evolution, and accretion processes of black holes and more. As one might expect, Dr. Prescod-Weinstein is also a Star Trek devotee, as she explains in our recent interview.

Related: Apple Announces an Entrepreneur Camp for Black Founders and Developers

Professor Prescod-Weinstein, an important theme running through your book is the sexism and racism inherent in science. Crucially, you take time to namecheck those who — like you  did make it through, such as Dr. Willie Hobbs MooreDr. Edward A. BouchetDr. Elmer ImesProfessor Arlie Oswald PettersDr. Shirley Ann Jackson and Dr. Marcelle Soares-Santos. It is only through seeing people like oneself that one can imagine being up there too, right?
Yes, that’s valuable when you have the opportunity. But I also know that sometimes we don’t get examples like us. As far as I know, none of those people are queer, for example. It’s important then to be the person who is like yourself. I know that sounds silly, but I encourage students to get people to take pictures of themselves doing physics, so that they can see that they are indeed what a physicist looks like.

You’re also honest in the book about the dark side of science, referencing J Robert Oppenheimer and how his research led to such destruction. I’ve been out to Los Alamos, and it’s a strange place. It can’t be easy staying out of the military-industrial complex, considering so much of it funds crucial programs to this day. 
It’s very hard! There are so many financial incentives. The DoD [Department of Defense] gets so much more money; there are all of these scholarships and fellowships. And then there’s how your work can be used in unexpected ways. We can’t make any guarantees, but we have to do our best to not only make ethical choices but create a culture where ethical choices are the norm for our colleagues and our society.

Can you tell us how much we know about dark matter today? It’s a term coined in 1906 and one, as you point out, no BIPOC scientist would have settled on.
We know very little about dark matter. We know that it gravitates like luminous matter. We know that it’s invisible because light typically goes through it. We know that it’s long lived and isn’t constantly decaying. And we know that it’s cold. That’s about it! We can’t tell you properties of the particle, like its mass or whether it has any interactions with luminous matter beyond gravity.

Your research intersects astrophysics and particle physics. But it is the latter, as you point out, that proves the “universe is always more bizarre…than we think.” Is that what makes your work so rewarding  the not knowing and always being on the possible brink of discovery?
I tend to think now more in terms of learning rather than discovery, which I think can be such a fraught word. I will be honest and say that my favorite part remains the math. I love the idea that we can describe the universe in mathematical terms. It’s interesting to me that physics has driven a lot of recent development in mathematical thought. So what’s fun to me is that the math gets more and more elaborate, and yet it’s still actually our universe! Our universe is mathematically ornate and with high frequency it is not what we might intuitively expect. I love it. 

Although, as a physicist, you’re fairly convinced we’re not going to achieve warp speed anytime soon. So putting guard rails in place to protect the Prime Directive isn’t (yet) required. You must have disappointed many Trekkies at conventions with that one.
Legit, I get asked this question a lot at the Khans, as we call them, and people are regularly disappointed. But I should say people are also very thankful that I take the time to talk to them, and I’m like, “Thanks for listening to me be a nerd!” My area of research is completely dependent on the general public because we are funded by taxes, and I am so glad that we can continue to capture their imaginations and give them interesting insight into the way the universe works. I love also that we continue to dream, beyond what we think is possible. We never know what’s next, in the end.

Related: How Can You Truly Make a Difference for Black History Month?

On the plus side, other dimensions might be possible, right? 
Yes, if string theory is a correct description of the universe, we live in more than four spacetime dimensions! 

Growing up in East L.A., you didn’t have much access to off-world seeking telescopes, so your description of seeing the Milky Way while on a research trip to the Atacama Desert was sublime.
I think I wouldn’t have believed anyone who told me that I could see a night sky like that without the assistance of a telescope or binoculars. There were just so many stars. And I could finally see why it was called the Milky Way! To see the Milky Way like that is incredibly humbling, and it makes you realize how much capitalist industrialization has altered human traditions in a way that disconnects us from the universe of our ancestors.

Your PhD thesis was on the “cosmic acceleration problem,” and you worked on a project to address this as a postdoctoral fellow at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Can you briefly outline what this is, and how your approach differed from those of earlier researchers?
My PhD work was very focused on different ways of explaining cosmic acceleration that took the stance that it may be some of our first empirical hints about quantum gravity. I was particularly interested in whether ideas from the loop quantum gravity model could be deployed to explain cosmic acceleration, as well as black holes in modified gravity models that were developed to explain cosmic acceleration. It was kind of a non-traditional route because at that point everyone was already starting to work on dark energy solutions and today, the problem is called “the dark energy problem” more frequently than “the cosmic acceleration problem.” I find this annoying, frankly.

You’re not convinced that the Big Bang was as simple as some have made out?
Definitely it’s easy to get the impression that the Big Bang was a moment in time and space where everything exploded, like a bomb going off. But the truth is that we don’t really know what happened at the beginning of our spacetime bubble, if we are one bubble of many, or what. Even if there was a big bang, it happened everywhere in spacetime, not just in one place. Today, sometimes when people say “Big Bang,” they mean the era that immediately follows the universe’s earliest moments, the time period when particles start to form and interact with each other. It’s been a few years since I worked on this question, but there’s still so much we don’t know, like how the universe expanded very rapidly during the inflation era and then somehow reheated afterward. We don’t know how that happened, but we know it had to because the particle interactions that happened after require it.

Finally, as we’re still under occupation from Covid-19. How has the pandemic affected your research? Where have you been waiting out the return-to-normal (whatever that is)? 
I feel very lucky that I am one of the people comparatively least impacted by the pandemic. My work can be done remotely, I have the space at home in New Hampshire to do it, my spouse and I have both remained employed, we’re childless, we have each other, and we’ve lost comparatively few people to this horrible and clearly preventable social crisis. But even I am struggling with my ability to focus because I’m worried, and I have students who are also having to deal with what has been a terrifying experience. It has changed how I mentor. Also, my collaborators haven’t found themselves in such easy circumstances, so several of my research projects have come to a halt. But of course, my university expects me to keep being productive., Also, the way we were pressured to return to campus to teach in person — I think that stressed me out so much that it ruined my ability to be very productive last summer.

As soon as we can travel safely, where will you go?
I’m most excited to return to Seoul, Korea when all of this is over, so I can visit museums and galleries. I’m also looking forward to returning to Joshua Tree. I am very disappointed that the pandemic means that there will be no in-person book tour, but I hope people will come to the amazing virtual events I have planned with bookstores in March, which will be like a roving talk show, including conversations with Kiese Laymon, Imani Perry, Elissa Washuta, Camonghne Felix and Charles Yu. I get to talk with some of my favorite authors in the world, which is an incredible pleasure. One benefit of everything being virtual is that people from around the world can join us.

Dr. Prescod-Weinstein’s book, The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred, is available for pre-order now and comes out on March 9.

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New features and tools are rolling out over the next year.

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Get a glimpse of how Google’s marketing resources and strategies can help you grow your business’s digital reach.

February 18, 2021 3 min read

This story originally appeared on PCMag

Google Classroom continues to cater to at-home schooling needs with a series of updates, including better student controls and a simplified workflow for teachers.

When Classroom launched six years ago in an effort to streamline the process of sharing files between teachers and students, it didn’t expect to become the bedrock of education during a global pandemic. Alas, Covid-19 has forced many to adapt to unexpected challenges, and Google is no exception.

“We’ll continue to put the people who use our products first and listen to your feedback to address your top priorities,” program manager Melanie Lazare wrote in a blog announcement. “And we’ll always make sure Classroom retains the simplicity and ease-of-use that’s made it so helpful to teachers, students, and school leaders around the world.”

Classroom integration

Starting later this year, teachers using Google Workplace for Education Plus or Teaching and Learning Upgrade can use their favorite EdTech tools and content directly inside Classroom — no extra logins required. Simply choose from the content directory and send assignments to students without leaving the virtual school room.

Educators can also expect options to set up classes in advance with Student Information System (SIS) roster syncing and streamline grade entry, as well as gain deeper insights into audit and activity logs.

Hybrid learning

School can be difficult enough when the teacher is standing directly in front of you. Introduce unreliable Zoom meetings, at-home distractions and social isolation, and kids can easily start falling behind. Google wants to help by launching student engagement tracking, allowing educators to see relevant stats like who submitted an assignment or commented on a post on a particular day. It’s also updating the Android app to work offline or with intermittent connections.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of images uploaded to Classroom — especially from students taking photos of paper assignments,” Lazare said. “We’re making it easier to attach and submit photos in the Classroom Android app and for teachers to review. Students will be able to combine photos into a single document, crop or rotate images and adjust lighting.”

Related: Google’s Big Move to Disrupt and Upend Higher Education

Simplified workflow

Keep an eye out for Android improvements, including the ability to switch between student submissions, grade while viewing an assignment and share feedback. iOS and web users will also soon be able to customize assignments and posts using rich text formatting — bold, italics, underline, bullets, etc.

Originality reports, meanwhile, will be available in 15 languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, Swedish, French, Italian, Indonesian, Japanese, Finnish, German, Korean, Danish, Malay, Hindi), making it easier for instructors to detect potential plagiarism.

“Many of these features were based on your feedback,” according to Lazare. “We hope these features improve your experience as they become available.”

Subscribe to the Workspace Updates blog for more info on upcoming additions.

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In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. — Thomas Jefferson

The founding father and primary author of the Declaration of Independence knew a thing or two about principles. Among his many notable political achievements, is the bill he wrote in 1786 establishing religious freedom, which was used as a model for the religious language in the Bill of Rights.

When it comes to trends in the market it helps to stay current, but when it comes to what your company really believes in, stand firm and stay true to your principles.

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February 13, 2021 8 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Easily one of the most popular consumer brands in the , Taco Bell is a name practically every American knows for its distinctive gastronomic offerings. “Taco Bell is unique in the sense that there’s not really a major competitor to it in that space,” Georgia State University Franchise Entrepreneurship Professor Benjamin Lawrence said in our feature article about the topping the 2020 Franchise 500 ranking.

This year, despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic, Taco Bell retains its top spot on Entrepreneur’s 2021 Franchise 500 ranking. The advantage of being in a “category of one” appears to remain strongly in effect.

It’s also noteworthy that Taco Bell has a clear understanding of its target market — millennials. As it shifted its target customers from family diners to working and job-seeking millennials, it continuously innovated and delivered enhanced customer experiences. Of note, Taco Bell took digitalization so seriously that it became the first quick-service restaurant to offer an order-and-pay-ahead scheme through a mobile app.

“There is no one out there like us,” said then-Vice President of Technology, Rafik Hanna, in a keynote presentation at the ICX Summit in Dallas. “We march to the beat of our own drum. Innovation and creativity are part of our DNA.”

Related: How Taco Bell Is Becoming the World’s Most Innovative Franchise

But enough of Taco Bell’s history. In light of the company’s top franchise citation, it is worth revisiting five of the most creative and attention-grabbing marketing campaigns Taco Bell has done so far. The company, founded by Glen Bell in California, does not excel only because of its relatively unique position in the fast-food market. It also has a knack for hosting some of the craziest and wildest marketing stunts. Let’s count down their top five crazies.

1. Debris pitch game on the Pacific Ocean

Russia’s modular space station Mir was scheduled to deorbit on March 23, 2001. Taco Bell’s marketing team took advantage of this globally-covered event to launch a ridiculously impressive promotion.

The company set up a gigantic floating target board into the Pacific Ocean, where Mir’s debris was expected to fall. According to the announced promo mechanics, everyone in the United States would be entitled to get a free Taco Bell taco if a piece of the space station landed on the floating target board.

This stunt was extremely risky for the company’s finances so Taco Bell purchased a sizable insurance policy to cover the potential costs of giving away more than 280 million free tacos. The insurer estimated the cost to be around $10 million.

All of Mir burned up as it entered Earth’s atmosphere, so no part of the space station reached the floating target. Taco Bell won the risky gamble as it gained global media coverage for the stunt and increased awareness and sales.

2. Steal a base, steal a taco

In 2007, Taco Bell started another free-taco-for-everyone promo linked to the World Series. This time the likelihood of Taco Bell “losing” and customers “winning” was dramatically higher. Taco Bell announced that if any player from either of the competing teams stole a base in the World Series, everyone in the United States would get free tacos.

Boston Red Sox’s Jacoby Ellsbury managed to steal a base in Game 2 of the 2007 World Series. The company delivered on its promise and gave away tacos to American customers on October 30, 2007. 

Taco Bell apparently realized that the promo to give all Americans free tacos does not cost as much as they earlier projected in the Mir space station stunt. Not everyone goes to a Taco Bell store and asks for the prize. Also, the company imposed a one taco per person limit and a 2 pm to 6 pm duration for claiming the free taco.

The company decided to do the same marketing campaign for several other World Series events, the latest of which was in 2020, where Los Angeles Dodgers’ Mookie Betts stole a base in Game 1. This was the ninth time Taco Bell gave away free tacos.

3. The Hoax Coax

In mid-2012, Taco Bell learned about a hoax spreading in Bethel, Alaska, which claimed that the company was set to open in the town of a little over 6,000 people. The company clarified it was not true and went beyond by doing something the national media and sites were sure to cover.

Taco Bell’s Irvine franchise sent a Taco Bell truck to the remote town using a helicopter. The truck had enough ingredients to prepare up to 10,000 tacos. It carried hundreds of pounds of beef, sour cream, tomatoes, lettuce and cheddar cheese.

Today, there are still no plans to open a Taco Bell franchise in Bethel. However, the well-received act was surely remembered by those in Alaska, some of whom said it was the first time they tasted tacos again after decades. The story also continues to appear online in various publications.

4. Pop-up hotel with unlimited free tacos

Before Covid hit, Taco Bell successfully launched another promotional campaign that attracted widespread interest. In May 2019, the company announced the opening of a pop-up hotel in Palm Spring, Calif. The fully furnished Taco Bell themed hotel was set to be open for only four days and came with the guarantee of free unlimited tacos for guests.

In less than two minutes, the hotel was already fully booked. The rooms started at $169 per night. The hotel had a salon as well as a gift shop that sold Taco Bell themed clothes and other merchandise.

Taco Bell once again gained free media coverage with many online news sites and at least one TV station featuring the story. Notably, the headlines focused on how the short-lived pop-up hotel sold all of its vacancies in a couple of minutes, showing how many customers are interested in the brand.

5. The April Fools’ Taco Liberty Bell

Even back in 1996, when internet penetration was not that high and social media was nonexistent, Taco Bell already showed an affinity to . The company launched an April Fools’ joke that turned out to be a bit controversial but somehow worth doing for the sake of free media coverage.

On April 1, 1996, the company ran an ad in The New York Times that boldly declared, “Taco Bell Buys the Liberty Bell.” The rest of the ad expressed the company’s pleasure of having purchased one of the symbols of American independence, saying that “it will now be called the ‘Taco Liberty Bell’ and will still be accessible to the American public for viewing.”

The prank ad resulted in thousands of people calling the National Park in Philadelphia to complain about the sale of the national treasure. Taco Bell eventually revealed the joke. The hullabaloo was a win for the company as it saw its revenues increase by $500,000 on the day of the stunt and a higher increase of $600,000 the day after. Entrepreneur considers this one of the most successful marketing stunts ever.

Viral marketing is said to have started in the mid-1990s. Arguably, Taco Bell is one of the earliest users of this promotional strategy as evidenced by the prank ad. The company has since continued taking advantage of this style of indirect and has been successful in doing so.

Related: Taco Bell Is Working With Beyond Meat to Create a New Plant-Based Protein

Initiative to take on big ideas 

What makes Taco Bell different in its approach to viral marketing, though, is the willingness to try explosive ideas others have not tried before or are afraid to attempt doing. Instead of fearing the possible backlash, the company explored fresh concepts many would likely find ridiculous but inevitably pay some attention to.

Taco Bell knows how to make people talk about its brand. For the company, it appears the objective is to launch something that people will notice and discuss instead of putting out creative campaigns that eventually become viral.

This is in line with the company’s focus on targeting millennials. In the age of widespread internet access and social media, Taco Bell acknowledges that the traditional advertising styles of fast-food chains handing out flyers and posting print and billboard ads are no longer as effective as they used to be.

Taco Bell understands its market and knows how to leverage social media. “The way I believe our brand is positioned is it’s a brand that drives culture,” said Taco Bell President Brian Niccol in an interview with Entrepreneur.

Modern culture is largely shaped by social media and the online world. With its strong social media presence, Taco Bell sees to it that it catches the attention of its potential customers while riding on free coverage and the benefits of word of mouth marketing through the internet. Taco Bell is being regarded as a social media superstar with more than 10 million Facebook likes and nearly 10 million followers, more than 1 million Twitter followers, and hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram.

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Let’s take a glimpse at how the fast-food giant has maintained its globally iconic position.

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February 5, 2021 4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

, the Mexican-inspired fast-food chain, is quickly adapting for a new era of food culture. As trends shift in the ever-changing food market, Taco Bell has developed several innovative new services to maintain dominance in the quick-service space. Facing pressure from competing brands, the company has announced new concepts, convenient food delivery services and a unified digital experience to draw in consumers who are eager for grab-and-go convenience. 

Starting in 2004, Taco Bell struggled to compete with competitors, including similarly themed restaurants like or Del Taco, as seen in how the chain suffered financial and public relations failures in the attempt to establish locations in and . Despite this, the chain saw same-store sales growth of 6% in the fourth quarter of 2019, likely related to the expansion of restaurant technology and innovative services. 

Let’s take a look at how the fast-food chain has undertaken significant efforts to vie for the throne and attain the #1 spot on Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 list. 

Related: How Taco Bell Became 2020’s Top Franchise

New Go Mobile concept

In August 2020, Taco Bell announced Go Mobile, a suite of technological and restaurant advancements. New “Go Mobile” locations will minimize space and prioritize convenience as the fast-food industry shifts towards digital kiosk and app-based ordering methods. New locations will also include a Dual Drive-Thru, which provides a new lane for customers who submit orders using the Taco Bell app. To increase convenience, curbside pick-up has been expanded for customers who seek an alternative to a traditional dine-in experience.

Grubhub partnership

As food-delivery services gain dominance, Taco Bell announced a partnership with Grubhub to keep pace with competition. Since 2019, users nationwide have been able to order directly from the Taco Bell and receive delivery from Grubhub. Taco Bell also announced limited free delivery options to celebrate the launch of the partnership. In addition to convenient delivery options, Taco Bell has also integrated Grubhub technology into point-of-sale kiosks in more than 6,000 locations.

Cantina concept

In 2016, Taco Bell announced the launch of the Taco Bell Cantina concept. Select Taco Bell Cantina locations, including a flagship in , are the ’s first foray into the “fast social” dine-in experience. Cantina locations are designed for intimate social interaction and cater to urban areas, and they allow customers to order original alcoholic beverages and share family style menu items. An open-kitchen design allows diners to experience a socially elevated restaurant visit.

Taco Bell Cantina, Las Vegas Flagship.

Image Credit: Taco Bell

Creative menu partnerships with other brands

Taco Bell has been lauded for imaginative menu items, which often play upon partnerships and associations with established brands like Frito-Lay and Doritos. Ideas to combine tacos with popular chips are born in Taco Bell’s Insights Lab, a state-of-the-art food development lab in Irvine, California. As a part of the brand’s commitment to innovation, Taco Bell has created an intra-company culture to match.

Exclusive plant-based offerings

In January 2021, it was announced that Taco Bell would partner with Beyond Meat to expand its plant-based offerings. Beyond Meat has become known for creating meat substitutes for popular fast-food offerings and is said to be in collaboration with Taco Bell to develop exclusive plant-based protein menu items.

Heavy social media footprint

An innovative brand in the food space, Taco Bell has also cultivated a significant social media footprint. According to trade publication QSR Magazine, Taco Bell is graded highly across multiple criteria, placing higher than 12 other brands in the food-and-beverage industry. 

Investment in influencer and viral marketing

In addition to traditional advertising and marketing campaigns, Taco Bell has also invested in influencer and viral marketing. In 2017, to celebrate the launch of a new menu item, the brand hosted launch events at cities across the , encouraging visitors to share photos of their experience on Instagram. 

Related: 2021 Franchise 500 Ranking

chains are thriving now more than ever, with customers prioritizing convenience and technology integration. To adapt to a changing environment, Taco Bell has undertaken a significant refresh of core services, all while maintaining creativity and providing diverse food experiences to consumers. 

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February 4, 2021 4 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

No matter how sustained it is, any business needs innovation. Sectors such as consumer electronics (entertainment and communication), for example, know that if it is not presented at least every six months, its permanence may be threatened.

And it applies to brands or companies of all types and sizes. Even the already consolidated SMEs require new ideas, or renew their products or services to stay in the minds of consumers, always eager for the new who, if they do not find it in your offer, will turn to the competition.

Antonio Ono, Vice President of Innovation and Analysis at Great Place to Work®, talks that there are different tools to know if innovation is present in your business.

Market studies, brainstorming (to evaluate the involvement of your people) or establishing a research and development department where those who devise an innovative product or service are concentrated, is common.

Image: Depositphotos.com

But for it to work, you want to have an organizational culture that encourages innovation. From all levels and in all jobs. It does not matter who proposes it, or from what area, but that the proposal is there for everyone.

Kodak, as you may recall, had a very, very expensive time ignoring the engineer who came to propose to review the digital camera issue. The company’s organizational culture was not yet designed for innovation.

But innovation does not happen by spontaneous generation either.

Based on the Great Place to Work ® For All model, Antonio Ono states that it is more likely to occur when:

  • You work closely with people.
  • If the leader is open to listening.
  • If humility is shown to attend to what someone, whoever it is, needs to share.

Otherwise, your collaborators will learn to be silent or will take their proposals to another place where they do want to pay attention to them.

Jump out of the frame

The first key is to break paradigms. Yes, those that you learned at work, in university classrooms and in the experience itself. When things are taken for granted, the mind conditions itself and sets itself up or pretexts that prevent it from seeing new horizons.

The second key is if you initially think that an idea is too primal, naive or silly, you are making the first mistake to attract innovation.

By underestimating the proposals of your people, you will end up with the confidence they may have to share them. Remember that trust is something that is built over time but, if not taken care of, it can be lost in minutes.

The third key is to formalize the practice so that your team presents ideas in the meetings by area, every so often, and listen carefully to what someone wants to say to you.

Antonio Ono ensures that the best proposals are born when you connect people from all areas, from all levels and hierarchies, not just from market research or senior management.

Salesperson can communicate to technology what they have heard from their customers about the product; parcel can suggest to logistics how to design a better delivery route and so on.

Be the promoter

It is not enough that you open a forum for everyone to contribute ideas. Your leadership skills must reach you to inspire people to participate, humbly thank and find ways to recognize your collaborators.

Innovation stays alive. So when your idea is giving good results is the warning that you should look for a new one.

Antonio Ono, from the research of the Great Place to Work® institute, describes the five barriers that arise for innovation in companies.

  • Labor terrorism . It occurs in authoritarian organizations, where the focus is on numbers; people live in constant anxiety, with no incentive to propose.
  • Gaps in purpose . If employees do not feel part of the company, the mission and the vision, they will practically feel excluded from the innovation.
  • To demand disproportionately . If people do not have the necessary tools and resources to do their tasks, they will hardly want to participate in any innovation.
  • Neglecting your managers. Area leaders drive innovation, but if they are overwhelmed by management, feel neglected or poorly supported, they will hardly be able to pay attention to innovation.
  • Stagnant minds. When people feel that they no longer have the capacity to grow professionally, they stagnate, thus blocking any attempt to contribute new ideas.

Open a trusted channel with all your necessary leadership skills: acknowledge, collaborate, appreciate and be humble. Open the door to innovation.

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Large corporations partner with innovative startups that help them in the process of adapting to changes more efficiently and quickly.

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February 3, 2021 2 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Faced with the new reality, companies have been forced to implement innovation processes. However, the demand from certain sectors has led entrepreneurs to innovate or disrupt the usual business to implement novelties or significant improvements , resulting in an innovative project that will add value to the market in which it is implemented.

Innovation is a process to renew the market, from the improvement of a simple idea that can end up in a new product of the same range but with small variations, which allows satisfying other consumer needs.

98% of innovations are incremental , that is, they are changes or variations in an existing product to improve it or satisfy other customer needs. Entrepreneurship and innovation often go hand in hand. However, entrepreneurship does not always imply innovation, but when both characteristics are combined and a successful business plan is carried out, success is absolute.

Under the theme “How to adapt your company to the new reality with innovation” , Wortev , held its first Rise Day of 2021 underlining the need for companies to strengthen and improve the market in which they are, adapt to new demands to compete hand in hand with large companies, as its ease of change and adaptation will be much more agile than a corporate one.

Image: Courtesy Wortev

Rodolfo Ramírez, founder of the Redbox innovation agency, shared the methodology he has developed to innovate the Mexican and pointed out the process that companies must follow in order to achieve adaptation to the new demands of each market, and divided it into three points specific:

1.-Inspiration . To achieve it you have to open your brain to many references that accelerate the creative process and above all feed yourself with trends, solutions and things that can serve the problem you want to solve.

2.-Creativity. The bulk of the population believes that it is half creative, but that is just a fallacy because we are all tremendously creative, we just have to remove that label and work with our brain.

3.-Innovation. To get to this point you must understand that there are different types of innovation and incremental, which means taking something that already exists and reinventing it, is the most common and 98% of companies do it.

The Redbox manager assured that to be innovative it is necessary to be persistent and put all your heart into the ideas you implement.

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February 2, 2021 13 min read

Many of the staples we now take for granted almost fell victim to early cancel culture. But were those early fears — of evil, immorality, or danger — based in reality? Or were our predecessors simply overreacting?

The podcast Build For Tomorrow explores why people freak out when exposed to new things, from refrigerators to teddy bears. Read on to see how today’s daily must-haves once generated angst and angry letters — and to think about what we’re overreacting to today.

(Naturally, it all starts with coffee.)

Image Credit: Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Coffee brewed centuries of widespread suspicion. In 1511, it was banned in Mecca for fostering “radical thinking.” A century later, Venetian clergy saw something more sinister and condemned “the bitter invention of Satan.” When asked to weigh in, Pope Clement VIII surprisingly enjoyed it so much he granted papal approval, even declaring, “this devil’s drink is so delicious… we should cheat the devil by baptizing it,” opening the door for today’s Italian coffee culture.

Anyone caught caffeinating in the 17th-century Ottoman Empire faced dire consequences: second-time violators were to be sewn into a bag and thrown into the waters of the Bosporus.

Meanwhile, coffee gradually replaced wine and beer as the breakfast drink of choice as drinkers realized it was a more energizing way to start the day. But when the beer industry complained in 1777, Frederick the Great of Prussia ordered his subjects to ditch the coffee and resume drinking their breakfast beer.

At the same time, though, London coffee houses became popular with artists and merchants. The Boston Tea Party solidified America’s allegiance to the bitter brew. As the coffee trade flourished, Thomas Jefferson proclaimed coffee as “the favorite drink of the civilized world,” and we never looked back.

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Big business tried to ice the modern refrigerator, calling it “unnatural” and “unhealthy.” After all, the 1800s-era ice industry employed 90,000 people and was worth $660M (in 2010 dollars). Ice was second only to cotton as America’s most valuable export.

That’s why door-to-door ice delivery men of the early 20th century mounted a fierce campaign to freeze out the technology and protect their livelihoods. They did have a legitimate beef: the earliest electric refrigerators occasionally leaked toxic methyl chloride. Plus, the first “modern” refrigerator debuted in 1927 at a whopping $520, while a brand-new Model T cost only $360!

But the ice industry just couldn’t compete with the dripless convenience — especially when Freon soon made the appliances cheaper and safer. New Deal programs that brought electricity to rural America further froze out the icemen. By 1940, 44% of homes had a fridge. By 1950, they were in 90% of urban homes.

Since then, the icemen no longer cometh, and our relationship with food has completely transformed.

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Is your sunny afternoon bicycle ride a sign of fitness, leisure — or something far darker?

The public worried about the mental fitness of early “velocipede riders.” By 1894, the New York Times reported that increasing “lunacy” in England “points directly to bicycle riders… there is not the slightest doubt that bicycle riding leads to weakness of mind, general lunacy, and homicidal mania.”

“Wheelwomen” were warned that “this somewhat violent form of recreation left its unmistakable traces upon the delicate feminine frame,” including an enlarged waist, more masculine hands and feet, and the terrifying “bicycle face.” 

These physical ailments were nothing compared to the bicycle’s effects on propriety. The New York Times declared, “a large number of our female bicyclists wear shorter dresses than the laws of morality and decency permit, thereby inviting the improper conversations and remarks of the depraved and immoral.” And that was decades before spandex was invented.

But as cities paved roads, cycling clubs and races helped spread the sport. And the ladies? They influenced new step-through designs that accommodated skirts, while also seizing on the personal mobility offered by a bicycle. Many came to see biking as faster and easier than dealing with horses… until the automobile took over. After that, for many decades, the bicycle was treated only as a kid’s toy.

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Won’t you think of the children, and the terrible corrupting effects of birthday parties? 

After millennia in which people didn’t recognize (or know) their birthdays, birthday parties became popular in the 1800s. But many worried that these cake-and-presents parties corrupted the very children they were intended to celebrate. Indeed, one 1864 article suggested that children should celebrate by being “a present to anyone that has taken trouble with them,” giving gifts to the important adults in their life and supplying a meal to a poor family.

The danger extended beyond the celebrant. Ladies’ Home Journal warned in 1913 that the “birthday party habit… sows dangerous seeds for the future in child character and habits.” The games and “nervous excitement” encouraged children to participate in rivalry that is “poor preparation for any potentially successful body or mind.” And let’s not talk about the sugary cake.

But emerging marketers saw opportunity. Party-planning books of the 1920s instructed parents on throwing the right type of party, complete with cake, presents, and games ­— and they overlooked the risk of corruption. Soon it was simply a matter of peer pressure. Post-war miniature golf courses, swimming pools, and McDonald’s further entrenched the tradition, while today’s parents can rent out trampoline parks, inflatable bounce houses, and stores dedicated to letting kids build their own sundaes or teddy bears.  

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Have you ever worried that the teddy bear might kill off natural motherly instincts? As the toy tribute to President Theodore Roosevelt spread, pearl-clutchers warned that if teddy bears were not stopped, the result would be “race suicide.”

The leader of the anti-bear movement was a priest named Rev. Michael Esper of St. Joseph, Michigan. In a fiery 1907 speech to his congregation, he warned, “It is a monstrous crime to do anything that will tend to destroy [maternal] instincts. That is what the ‘Teddy Bear’ is doing and that is why it is going to be a factor in the race suicide problem.”

After that, word quicky spread. The Idaho Recorder warned that the teddy bear “is keeping the children from the pleasure of caring for a doll. He can’t wear pretty frocks and dainty underwear, and the little girl who has him for a pet gets no incentive to make these things. Hence she loses the education involved in dainty garments. The Teddy bear is all right for boys, but not for girls.”

Who knew the innocent teddy bear was so destructive?

Once again, popular culture helped ensure the teddy’s survival. “The Teddy Bear Two-Step” also hit dance halls in 1907, just as teddies appeared on jigsaw puzzles, greeting cards, and automobile accessories. Sewing companies sold patterns so girls could fashion tiny outfits for their bears — thus nurturing their motherly instincts. More than a million bears were sold that year, and today’s global stuffed animal and plush toys market is worth nearly $8 billion.

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Mirrors have long been feared for feeding sinful vanity that can shatter a person. After all, one of the seven deadly sins stems from vanity. And let’s not forget that Narcissus’ downfall began when he saw his own reflection. Mirrored cabinets are called “vanities” for a reason.

Plus, there were centuries of worry about mirrors serving as supernatural portals.   

That’s why it was so concerning in the mid-1800s, when modern manufacturing made mirrors affordable. As mirrors began appearing in umbrella tops and powder cases and restrooms, many feared that vanity run amok would halt society’s progress altogether. People would be so caught up in themselves that they would fail to connect with their fellow humans.

Mirrors were cited as the cause of pedestrian accidents, as people wandered into busy streets while staring at their reflections. Elevator operators complained that women spent so much time admiring themselves that they slowed down operations.

Luckily, people learned to coexist with pervasive mirrors in lobbies and pockets, and we even began paying attention to each other again. Well, at least until the smartphone entered our pockets…

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You know something’s dangerous when the U.S. Senate gets involved. In 1954, the brand-new Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency investigated the link between comic books and crime. This followed a decade of comic book burnings, state bans, and hand wringing as “a tidal wave of juvenile delinquency” spread throughout the country.

What was in these terrible books? In truth, they weren’t targeted at kids. They were made for young men, especially soldiers, were the primary audience. Circulation tripled during World War II as soldiers bought ten times more comics than traditional magazines. When those soldiers returned home, they kept demanding comics with a bent towards horror, crime, and the supernatural — and publishers complied.

Naturally, children got a hold of them. Comics were seen as a “national disgrace” linked to heinous crimes, and many worried that glamorizing fictional characters would pollute the hearts and minds of young readers.

Soon after the 1954 hearings, the industry established its own self-censoring Comics Code Authority to sanitize the more violent art while targeting younger, more innocent readers.

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As the first skyscrapers rose, elevators quickly became widespread— as did fears of “elevator sickness.” Physicians of the 1890s warned that the rising motion could trigger “brain fever,” plus nausea and faintness. Habitual descents were thought to cause a “disordered condition of the nerves,” particularly when an elevator fell too quickly.

Although passenger elevators had been around since the 1850s, the early ones lacked many of the modern safety features we take for granted, leading to fears of broken cables and falling into open shafts.

With time, elevators got faster and safer. Automatic doors closed to prevent people from stumbling into the shaft. Speed controls and better hydraulics made rides safer and smoother. Bumpers stopped doors from closing on people.

Today, elevators aren’t just a convenience. They’re often essential for multi-story buildings to provide equal access to everyone — access that no longer causes “brain fever.”

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Remember when reading was considered bad, unless it was the Bible or another ancient text? No? Well, let’s take you back to the 19th and early 20th centuries when the battle against novels was very real.

In the 19th century, some viewed the novel as a national enemy “sapping the minds of our youths of all that is manliest and noblest.” Popular dime novels “clogged the mind,” distracting readers from more important, serious books, like the Bible.

Worse, novels were associated with hooliganism and crime, with newspaper accounts warning of the dangerous powers of suggestion.

Even in the 1930s, some still worried that there was something wrong with children who chose to read. In 1938, the St. Petersburg Times suggested that parents reduce the number of books available to children and make reading “inconvenient except for the set time.”

Sounds a lot like screen time, doesn’t it?

Luckily, the morality types soon became more concerned about comic books, which made the novel look far less dangerous.

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Once upon a time, people believed that the Earth was hollow, which meant that hell was directly beneath their feet.

That lingering fear helps explain why early subway systems got so much bad press.

One Boston religious leader warned that the subway was a “project of Lucifer himself,” while others warned that the subway “disturbed the dead” as excavators stumbled on unmarked graves. And wasn’t that below-ground air dangerous to breathe?

To allay these fears, early subway stations were whitewashed and brightly lit with the newest electric lights. As people ventured into the stations, fear turned to awe of the engineering marvel. Word spread. The convenience certainly helped, too — especially since the nation’s first subway system helped riders bypass the terrible Boston traffic.

Decades later, subways were trusted as shelters for air raids and potential nuclear attacks. And today, 180 subway systems serve billions of riders each year.

Image Credit: ClassicStock | Getty Images

Did you know that pinball made it all the way to the Supreme Court in 1974, when they ruled that the game involved more skill than chance?

By then, pinball machines had been banned for decades, hidden in seedy bars and basements. Since early machines lacked flippers, the game relied on chance — and thus constituted child-corrupting gambling.

Authorities feared that pinball encouraged children to ditch school and skip meals. In a filing for that Supreme Court case, New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia wrote that pinball machines robbed the “pockets of schoolchildren in the form of nickels and dimes given them as lunch money.”

Not to mention the mafia connection.

Dramatic Prohibition-style raids followed, with police rounding up machines for Mayor La Guardia to smash with hammers.

Two years after the Supreme Court ruling, the industry made the same argument to the New York City Council with a live demonstration by Roger Sharpe, the best player they could find. The last big ban was overturned, much to the delight of the city department that would bring in $1.5 million through license fees.

Though you still can’t (legally) play on Sundays in Ocean City, New Jersey.

Want more examples of things our ancestors tried to cancel? Check out the podcast Build For Tomorrow. And hear the story of banned teddy bears below!

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Six international scaleups entered Alestra’s Open Innovation and Soft Landing Program. They are linked to AI, IoT Cybersecurity and Blockchain.

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January 28, 2021 4 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Regardless of the size of an organization, to ensure its permanence over time and sustained growth, it requires a process of continuous innovation. There are several ways to achieve this, but several medium or large organizations have opted for open innovation processes to achieve it.

Such is the case of the Monterrey technology provider, Alestra, which this year celebrates 25 years of existence and which has found in the support of startups and corporate acceleration, a way to help organizations to be more productive through digitization.

Since 2016 Alestra has carried out open innovation processes through its NAVE program. With it, he has achieved a greater culture of innovation within the organization, the development of seven new products, innovation with clients (he has managed to connect more than 100 key clients with startups); and increase by more than 13 million pesos in innovation services sold, in addition, more than 23 million pesos in additional services sold as a result of innovation efforts.

Fifth generation ship

To continue these efforts, Alestra selected the scaleups that will participate in its fifth generation of the NAVE Program.

After a selection process involving more than 1,000 scaleups, Alestra selected 10 scaleps, explained Jenaro Martínez, Director of Innovation and Strategic Alliances at Alestra.

This Wednesday, the 10 finalists met to present their proposal to an evaluation steering committee, from which six were selected to start a commercial acceleration process, through which they could close investments, commercial alliances or new product launches.

These companies will carry out a 16-week acceleration program with a view to becoming commercial allies of the technology company. During their participation in NAVE, these scaleups will have access to Alestra’s IT infrastructure and services with an approximate value of 2 million pesos; a bonus of 100,000 pesos as support to implement a pilot with one of the clients; a tailor-made mentoring program with a value of 230,000 pesos and access to Alestra’s commercial network with more than 18,000 clients.

The selected scaleups are:

Cerebriai (artificial intelligence)

  • Country: Canada
  • Customer Experience platform that uses data to measure individual customers and deliver products more intelligently. Increase sales (up sell and cross cell) and avoid churn.
  • Industries: financial, telco and automotive

Virtuelle (virtual reality)

  • Country: MEXICO
  • Immersion experiences to develop skills of employees in a standard, effective and risk-free way.
    • DriVR driving simulator
    • FactoryVR- simulator for training in industry
    • ExecutionVR-point of sale execution simulator
    • 60% reduction in expenses for incidents
    • Reduction of hiring time from 30 days to 8 hours.
  • Industries: logistics, manufacturing and retail.

1 Kosmos (cybersecurity)

  • Country: United States
  • It allows the authentication of digital identities on Blockchain using biometrics. It covers the entire employee journey from access to the building, to access to their laptop and internal company applications. Productivity increase due to a 40% reduction in the number of helpdesk calls ($ 25- $ 70 dlls per call).
  • Industries: all

Omnix (Artificial Intelligence)

  • Country Chile
  • Software as a Service with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning that automates logistical, operational and process capacities of companies. 20% increase in sales and savings of up to 40% in inventory space.
  • Industries: retail, telco and manufacturing

Praemo (Internet of Things)

  • Country: Canada
  • Look for anomalies and trends that indicate deviations from baseline performance. Alerts the operator to the potential problem and recommends actions to prevent consequences. Increases anomaly prediction time from 5 min to 6 days in advance. They reduce production time by 50%.
  • Industries: manufacturing

Stride (Artificial Intelligence)

  • Country: United States
  • Hyper-automation solution specialized in the financial sector, capable of reading documents, extracting and analyzing information. On average, it has generated savings of 70% in time and 40% in operating costs, with an accuracy rate above 90%.
  • Industries: financial and regulatory.

Since its inception, the goal of the NAVE program has been to drive B2B scaleups to make organizations more productive through digitization. Along these lines, since 2016 Alestra and NAVE have accelerated to more than 26 scaleups who are now business partners of Alestra.

For more information about NAVE and its next call visit: www.aceleradoranave.com.mx

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From Covid-19 to the SolarWinds cyberattack, 2020 delivered many blows to public trust. Founders need to take the lessons learned and ensure they are not part of the problem.

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January 28, 2021 6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

From Covid-19 to the SolarWinds cyber attack, 2020 delivered many blows to public trust. We have been bombarded with misinformation and , leading us to wonder about the and security of our sensitive personal and organizational information. These events have magnified the lack of trust people have in everything from government agencies to brands both big and small. 

Within this 2020 problem lies a 2021 opportunity. The new year provides founders with the opportunity to get creative and solve the issues that this broken trust has engendered – and also ensure that you are not part of the problem. That begins by addressing the breakdowns in three areas: , transparency and security.

Data privacy

There has always been a need for protecting private data, but long gone are the days when sensitive customer documents were locked in a filing cabinet at the end of the workday. In our digital world, customers share more information about themselves than ever across a variety of platforms; however, there is confusion over who is responsible for data privacy. In a Cisco Consumer Privacy survey, nearly half of respondents felt it was the government’s responsibility, while a quarter believe consumers should do more to protect their , and only about one in five thought it was up to the companies who collect, process and store the information to keep it safe. Data privacy laws, such as and CCPA, have put greater onus on organizations to ensure data privacy. In fact, Gartner predicts by 2023, 65 percent of the world population will have their personal information protected by data privacy laws. The fines and other impacts, such as reputational damage leading to lost business, make companies keenly aware of the importance of maintaining data protection.

Most startups do not meet the minimum criteria necessary to be compliant with data privacy regulations, but that does not give founders a free pass to ignore data privacy protections. Rather, meeting data privacy requirements from the beginning will ensure your company is prepared as it scales and as new privacy laws are introduced. Adding technology that categorizes data while reducing redundancy prepares you for consumer requests to be forgotten or verify what data is held. It is also important for you to consider what data is valuable to retain and what can be discarded. There should be governance over the data, either by designating a person, adding technology or by enlisting a third-party firm, so that privacy can be maintained appropriately and requests from customers can be immediately addressed.

Related: 4 Statistical Reasons Data Security Should Be a Top Priority for Small Businesses


Transparency is an important requirement in data privacy compliance. GDPR articles state that answers to customers’ questions surrounding their data will be made in a “concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language.” Companies will need to be able to answer the following:

  • Who is responsible for data governance and privacy? Is there a designated responsible individual responsible for this information?
  • Are you prepared to share all contact information on request?
  • Have you defined the purpose for holding consumer personal data?
  • How long will it be kept? How is it currently processed?
  • Will the information be transferred to a third party?

Although these questions are specific to GDPR, (which any company doing business with EU residents is required to follow) this level of transparency should be standard for startups. It only stands to foster loyalty among customers, partners and investors.

Wanting to be transparent in how data is used is one thing. Having the ability to be transparent is a greater challenge. Entrepreneurs will want to look at the technology that is available to address this problem. Data is useless if you do not know what you have and how it benefits you. Achieving the transparency required in data privacy laws will give you better insight into your data overall. Data transparency solutions allow you to explain not only why you are holding consumer data but also how it can provide your company with improved business agility. Ultimately, businesses with their data in order can not only comply with the law but also offer richer customer experiences.

Related: 4 Tips for Keeping Your Data Secure While Everyone Works From Home

Data security

Work from home during Covid-19 has led to an increase in data breaches, with 20 percent of breaches and cyber incidents in 2020 directly related to remote work. There have even been data breaches directly correlated to the pandemic, such as the attack on the Small Business Administration that revealed the information of those applying for emergency loans from the government.

There is no question that data is under attack. It is up to businesses to take action to protect it. This is much harder to do when your company is small, you have limited resources and your workforce is accessing the network on personal devices from all over the world. There are basic rules that must be applied, such as using multi-factor authentication to access all company and customer data and enforcing strong passwords (the SolarWinds attack relied on weak passwords to get access). VPNs offer more secure connections than home routers, and encryption should be used for any sensitive transmissions. Cloud technologies like Security-as-a-Service offer accessible security management for workers wherever they are, and tools that offer security on the edge will provide protection directly for the data, whether it is on the network or access on a smartphone through the cloud.

In 2020, you were forced to readjust your approach to data protections quickly using the solutions that were available. In 2021, there is an opportunity for founders and entrepreneurs to take the lessons learned and build trust, whether through the development of innovative solutions or by ensuring your startup is able to hold itself to the highest standards of data protection.

Related: More Than 150,000 U.S. Small-Business Websites Could Be Infected With Malware at Any Given Moment. Here’s How to Protect Yours.

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