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No one knows exactly when Sidra Qasim was born. Her mother’s best guess is three or four days before a famous 1986 cricket match in which defeated India by one wicket. So in a harbinger of how she would define her life, Qasim chose her own birthday.

Courtesy of Atoms

As one of six siblings growing up outside of the small city of Okara, Pakistan, next to farms of mustard leaves, oranges, and mangos, she always asked why things couldn’t be different. Why, for starters, were millions of girls like her expected to stay home, to raise a family, and to have their lives dictated by the men around them?

Qasim kept asking why, again and again, until she finally met her own expectations. What did that look like? Her company, called Atoms, cofounded with her husband, Waqas Ali, and bringing in $12 million a year; made by that company on the feet of Reddit cofounder (and Atoms backer) at the Met Gala, one of fashion’s most coveted red carpets; and a 13,000-square-foot warehouse in Brooklyn as HQ for that company — one with its own art gallery, and massive windows out of which, one warm afternoon, she would look out across the East River, to Manhattan’s skyline and beyond.

Not on the day she was born — nor the day she chose — would the conservative Muslim community around her have imagined how far she would go, and how little she’d let her mind drift to her small hometown half a world away. “It’s hard,” she says, “to come back.”


Qasim doesn’t know why she grew up challenging everything; it wasn’t like her family encouraged it. But her questions took on a particular urgency when she was 17, and her mother invited a matchmaker over to their home.

After protesting, eventually Qasim pinned her dupattas to cover her head, and agreed to see the guest — who judged and interrogated her. Could she cook? Did she know how to stitch? Qasim knew she was supposed to keep her eyes down, “but I was so angry I looked straight into her eyes. I told her I wasn’t ready.” The matchmaker replied, “Every woman says that, but they fall in love with their husband when they get married.” That visit was the first of many matchmaking attempts, which infuriated the young Qasim — so much so that her mother, Shamshad Akhtar, speaking from Pakistan through a translator, recalls that after one long drive to meet a prospective groom’s family, “Sidra said, ‘You can take me all around the world. I’m just not getting married.'”

At 18, Qasim started hanging out with a student she met at her aunt’s house, where he’d come for tutoring. The second of four brothers, he was 17 and had flunked a grade after moving from a tiny village to Okara, which he found way more fascinating than school — it had malls, restaurants, and the first church he’d ever seen. “He was telling me about these things that I had not experienced — because in order for me to roam in the city, I needed to go with my brother, mother, father, or a group for a specific purpose,” Qasim says with a slow burn at the absurdity of the inequity. The two discussed women’s empowerment and all kinds of other issues. Romance was out of the question; they were from different castes that didn’t intermarry. And yet that student, Waqas Ali, would become her husband.

Ali barely got into a college in Lahore, a much bigger city, and he scrounged every last rupee for tuition, the first in his family to go. There, he thrived in physics. But doubts crept into his thoughts: I’m just a village boy. Even if I graduate, I’m not going to make it. I’m not good enough. His fears tortured him. “I would think about committing suicide every week, because my parents had sacrificed so much for me to be there,” he says. “And then someone told me about the Internet and that — “

Qasim steps in, ” — saved your life.”

Ali started spending hours in the computer lab learning everything he could about the digital world. By the beginning of 2010, he had an idea for a startup to help companies sell their products online. He reached out to Qasim, who had just gotten a degree in economics. Would she join him? Despite their castes, he had romantic notions — but he knew it wasn’t the to enter that market.

“Sidra is very practical,” he mutters, suddenly shy at the memory.

“Which I am still now,” she says with a firm smile.

After a month of wearing them down, Qasim’s parents finally let her move to Lahore, and Ali dropped out of college. They had no computer and no experience actually doing what they were selling. Even worse, they’d miscalculated their ability to reach their target market. “People who were having success in internet businesses were, like, super rich,” says Ali. And they didn’t know anyone who fit that profile. In hopes of attracting them, they threw a big event with 70,000 rupees (about $800) that Ali’s mother had given them to buy a laptop.

“No one came who could be our potential client,” Ali says. “We lost the 70,000 rupees. Sidra and I had fights. The event was a failure.” Their families made them come home.

They were miserable. But just as everything seemed hopeless, they got shocking news: They won a grant — for $10,000. “We had forgotten that we even applied,” Qasim says.

The whole thing had happened by chance. When they were first searching for clients, they’d met a group of impressive leather craftsmen who weren’t interested in their services. So Ali and Qasim came up with another idea, as they grasped for any business opportunity: What if, they’d proposed, they set up an online leather shoe business, and then had the craftsmen manufacture the products? These craftsmen said yes, and when Qasim and Ali heard about a Google program for startups in Pakistan, they applied with the concept for the shoe company.

Now that they had the money to get started, they couldn’t get back to Lahore fast enough. They plunged into learning every last detail about the leather shoe trade — from e-commerce to inspecting rawhide for scars to engraving customized messages on soles. And as they worked together on the company they eventually called Markhor, Qasim’s affection for Ali grew into something more.

They shared Markhor’s progress and their visions for the future on Twitter, as Ali endlessly scanned the platform for interesting people — VCs and founders, immigrants from Pakistan and India with startups in the U.S. — and joined their conversations, often getting followed back.

In search of capital for an initial production run, they connected with whatever startup programs they could find. The pair even applied to a three-month program at in the U.S., the exclusive Silicon Valley accelerator known for launching blockbusters like Airbnb and DoorDash. Around 10,000 companies vie for a place in each program, and the acceptance rate is about 2% — lower than Harvard’s. It was hardly surprising when they didn’t get in.

Instead, the two zeroed in on Kickstarter. The platform didn’t allow people to launch projects from Pakistan, so they decided to register the company in the U.S., and in February 2014, Ali borrowed $3,500 and boarded his first plane. Several of his Twitter contacts agreed to make introductions in , and by the time he returned, he’d raised $30,000 from two investors.

With some of that money, he and Qasim went to work on the Kickstarter campaign. And on September 22, 2014, at 8 p.m. Pakistan Standard Time, the two held their breath and hit the “launch” button. To their utter amazement, they raised $107,286. On a roll, they blew off her father’s strong objections and got married on March 8 — International Women’s Day — and applied to Y Combinator again.

This time, Ali and Qasim got in. They could barely speak English.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Atoms


The couple arrived in Mountain View for YC’s summer session in 2015. For three months, they mingled with Harvard and Stanford graduates launching buzzy tech startups while the two wrestled with rawhide and supply chain headaches. At night, they submersed themselves in English, watching American movies with subtitles and listening to startup podcasts. “Honestly, how I knew they were awake was if the audio was on,” says Antoine McGrath, who later became their housemate. “It was 24/7.”

Neither Ali nor Qasim could believe they’d made it this far. They finally seemed on the verge of being on their way.

Until, once again, they weren’t.

The more they looked around — and down — the more they noticed that, in America, and especially in Silicon Valley, people weren’t wearing leather shoes, not even to work. Their target customers actually wore sneakers. Even in Pakistan, where business attire does mean dress shoes, Markhor wasn’t selling; it was too expensive and people weren’t used to buying that kind of thing online. Once again, they’d made the mistake of not researching their market. The consequences sunk in on the final Demo Day, when of the 60 or 70 YC people who had bought Markhor shoes, only a couple wore them.

But Ali and Qasim realized they’d missed something even bigger. To get as far as they had, they’d taken whatever path was available — even if it led them slightly astray. It was time they charted their own direction. So they sat down together in their rented apartment, and Qasim asked her husband: “We can go home and start again, but we are here. We are part of an important opportunity. What is that?”

Ali typed the question into a Google doc they titled “Project K2,” named after a mountain straddling the Pakistan-China border that is the hardest in the world to climb. Then they kept writing other questions to ask themselves: Why are you in the shoe business? If you want to make shoes, why not go work for Nike? Is this the thing we want to do for the rest of our lives?

Every day, they went to Golden Gate Park with a pile of books and case studies about companies, founders, and products, and sat there reading, mining for answers. They’d discuss their thoughts, and write their insights in notebooks, which Ali would type into the document. “Many times, we were coming up with new questions,” says Qasim. Why do we need another sneaker company when there are so many already? What else could our brand be?

Slowly, their mission emerged: It wasn’t so much that shoes drove them; it was instead the idea of taking something people use every day and perfecting it. A shoe was a great place to start, because it has so many aspects that can be innovated. If they could get it right, they could possibly one day expand to other essentials. They’d also learned from Markhor that they were infatuated with quality and detail in a way others weren’t. That would always differentiate them.

By asking themselves so many questions, they came to a conclusion, clear as it was painful: To do this, they would once again have to scrap everything and start anew. But this time, they would know their market sole to soul, and they would have their new road map.

Recharged, they ran around to shoe stores pretending to be students learning about the sneaker industry, trying to find out what people liked to wear every day. They interviewed men and women on the street, snapping photos of how their feet moved as they walked, stood, and sat. They decided that incredible comfort and perfect fit would be their selling points, which meant, for one, making their sneakers in quarter sizes — a unique feature. They called the new company Atoms to reflect that they would go to an atomic level for quality — right down to the oval eyelets that ensure the custom laces stay flat.

It took some time to talk a factory into accommodating their exacting needs, but they found one in South Korea. As soon as their first sample arrived, they held another event — it was informal, at their place — inviting everyone they’d met through YC for Pakistani food and free size 10.5 Atoms. This one worked. The right people came — and they spread the love on Twitter and Instagram.

The couple had also realized, through Project K2, that they wanted to create their brand around the urban artsy community. They were inspired by companies built with intention: Nike’s first focus on running; Patagonia’s environmental ideals. “If we are to build a global sneaker brand and are allocating a big part of our life to it, it has to be about our interests,” says Ali, who also writes poetry while Qasim is a painter. “Creativity, art, music, inspiring storytelling has to be a theme.”

One day in October 2018, Qasim and Ali got an email from Alexis Ohanian, the Reddit cofounder and VC. He was flying into San Francisco that night around 11 p.m. and wanted to come straight to their place. He had previously met the couple at YC and bought the leather shoes, and was now hearing the buzz about their pivot. “I fondly remembered how obsessed they were with quality,” he says, “and sneakers are more the vibe than dress shoes for most of us tech execs.”

When he showed up at the house they shared with four others, they led him to the basement, where they’d set up a little sample shoe try-on area. He was so exhausted that he just lay on their couch and talked for about an hour and a half. They wanted him to test Atoms, but didn’t have any for his 14.5–size feet yet — so they handed him a pair to take home to his wife, Serena Williams.

When arguably the greatest tennis player of all time gave the shoes her thumbs up, Ohanian became the lead investor in Atoms’ Series A, which raised $8.1 million. Day One Ventures’ Masha Bucher, who also invested in the round, having gotten to know Qasim and Ali, says, “Atoms’ secret sauce is them being such good partners in all dimensions.” She was particularly impressed by how powerfully they operated as a couple both at work and home — the respect with which they spoke to each other, the way they deftly navigated egos, and how they carefully thought through decisions together.

That year, 2019, the two moved to New York to build their brand within the city’s art scene, and they officially launched Atoms with Model 000.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Atoms


It is the first warm day of April, and Qasim is rooting around the stacks of shoe boxes in Atoms’ warehouse, which she and Ali lease on an enormous floor in the sprawling Brooklyn Navy Yard, the former building site of WWII warships that is now a haute manufacturing hub. She’s dressed in a diaphanous white blouse. But her hands are cold. “I had to fire someone,” she explains. “It always gives me severe anxiety.”

For her and Ali, it’s a space that, not so long ago, could have only appeared in their dreams. Massive windows ring the area. To one side is an art gallery, separated by a wall fashioned out of shoe boxes — some of which are open to reveal Atoms’ sleek, colorful sneakers, studding the structure like gemstones. But as the firing reminds Qasim, even this new dream is laced with its own set of challenges.

“Every time I do it,” she says, more to herself than anyone, “I think about how they are going to tell their family, how their day will be with no job, some crazy story goes through in my mind. And I have to keep bringing myself back. Like, Hey Sidra, if someone is not successful, it’s not good for them or the company. And the sooner you fire them, the better.

Ali has his own demons, too. The self-doubt that plagued him in college still overtakes him at times, sweating through his demeanor in a way that he fears employees, investors, and even customers notice. But he has made headway. “Now I fight the doubts by reading stories of other people who have gone through these things,” he says, pointing to a small shelf of books. Just glancing at the titles — Zero to One, In the Company of Giants — will often spring him from a negative spiral.

Their perfectionism can also undermine them. “I think it is borderline a problem,” says the former housemate, Antoine McGrath, who became Atoms’ head of operations. (“This is a rocketship I just couldn’t miss,” he says.) In one instance, Ali’s insistence on fixing a barely perceptible wrinkle delayed the launch of their first model by three to four months, which cost them revenue. It’s a double-edged sword, says Qasim: You want to hit the market with the best possible product, but you also need to get something out for customer feedback because “maybe people are looking for something else and your assumption is wrong. Also, a launch gives you motivation. When you delay, you lose that momentum in your head. That’s just as important as the revenue.” Learning from that experience, they launched their second model this June — on time.

They’ve become more nimble in other ways, too. When the pandemic arrived, Atoms quickly started selling masks that have been spotted on Brad Pitt and Colin Kaepernick. They’ve also dropped a few collabs, including an edition made with artist Aerosyn-Lex Meštrovi, who has exhibited at the MoMA and the White House — and now in Atoms’ gallery. That shoe came out of their new, work-in-progress initiative, AAG (Urdu for “FIRE”), which seeks to build a community through inviting artists to hold exhibits, concerts, poetry readings, and NFT releases in their gallery.

In the midst of all this, they had a little girl named Aliff, who just turned one. Meanwhile, Qasim’s family in Pakistan has also been changed by Atoms. Her younger sister ended up starting her own business in reproductive health products. Her mother, Akhtar, has become a headmistress of a school, where she opened a computer lab for all older students. “If I could go back,” Akhtar says, as Ali translates, “I would really let my daughters be themselves and support them so they could follow what they want to do with their lives.”

Akhtar says she had ambition, too, as a girl, maybe to be a doctor or pilot, but that was so radically out of the question that she channeled it into teaching and becoming the first woman in Okara to drive a car. Today, she has high hopes for her granddaughter Aliff. “Her mother and father broke out of the cage in Pakistan to do things their own way without support from us,” Akhtar says through Ali, whose voice cracks with emotion as he translates. “I’m confident she will do great in life.”

The big challenge for Atoms these days is growing its own family. In its way, hiring has been as hard as firing. Then there’s inflation and, as ever, supply chain issues to deal with. But in their endless quest for the perfect everyday sneaker, Qasim and Ali have learned how to find their way forward. “Every time we are stuck,” she says, “we just go back and read our original Google doc from the YC days. We know what we have to do: Just ask the right questions.”

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Technology enables brands to connect with consumers like never before, and changing strategies to best utilize tech is a necessity. Bynder’s 2021 State of Branding Report found more than one-quarter of those surveyed were most concerned with how to successfully reach their audiences in increasingly crowded digital channels.

This worry drives innovation, but just because a marketing strategy is new doesn’t mean it’s effective. Think of Google+ accounts. Keyword-stuffed blog posts. The marketing department junk drawer is filled to the brim with marketing trends that never stuck. Now, it’s time to add static, one-way content to the mix.

What’s the problem with this content? For one, it’s more of the same. How can marketers expect to rise above the noise if they’re only adding more of the same airwaves? There’s no pizzazz. Everything’s controlled. Consumers want magic and excitement, not a carefully planned brand marketing strategy parading as something more off-the-cuff — 80% of viewers prefer to engage with live content rather than pre-recorded pieces, after all.

Certainly, forums such as Instagrm and Facebook Live are more interactive. Socialinsider analyzed almost 4 million Facebook videos and found that audiences engaged much more readily with live videos: One successful broadcast can crush the engagement metrics of a social media video post. Yet the method is underutilized, as 88% of videos on the platform are prerecorded. Marketers are already behind the curve on audience engagement, and consumers are moving on to a different kind of interaction: audio events.

Related: Why More Brands Are Going Live With Their Videos (and Why You Should, Too)

Audio events to the rescue

Audio-based mediums such as Clubhouse have been having a heyday over the past few years. According to Influencer Marketing Hub research, about 700,000 Clubhouse rooms pop up every day and become part of the organically developing community. And this is Clubhouse on a bad day — at its height, the platform had almost 10 million monthly downloads.

While Clubhouse’s popularity has waned, other tech giants have risen up with their own iterations of audio spaces, such as Twitter’s Spaces. Launched in late 2020, Spaces claims to enhance the concept of tweeting via the inclusion of live voices. By mid-2021, Spotify had followed suit when its Greenroom hit center stage. Even LinkedIn is testing the waters of the audio scene.

This method is successful because audio streams still carry the weight of “presence” found at a live, in-person event. Users can jump into conversations or just take a backseat and listen in for the scoop. Usually structured freeform rather than with a set agenda, these audio events take on a serendipitous tone.

This isn’t just a trend. With the global health crisis, people have increasingly turned to audio to pass the time. A survey by Sortlist found more than three-quarters of people have increased their consumption of audio content over the past couple of years.

Audio is a new brand marketing strategy that can build thriving communities with everyone from hesitant prospects to raving fans, and companies would be amiss to let this opportunity pass them by.

Below are three ways for businesses to leverage audio-based communication events and get on the bandwagon before it gets anywhere near its zenith.

Related: Clubhouse Is Now Valued at $4 Billion, Thanks to Its Latest Round of Funding

1. Host exclusive audio rooms

Everyone likes to be the first to know. Depending on what platform you use, audio rooms can limit admittance to select participants. Therefore, they can serve as invite-only experiences to nourish brand loyalty. Even without a video component, participants can get a sense that they’ve been given special access to information not yet available to others.

Community-driven exclusivity has seen huge success with some big brands. Nike brings engagement up by rewarding members using its SNKRS app with drops outside of scheduled releases. Even when using the app, exclusive access isn’t guaranteed, which adds to the thrill of getting a pop-up notification that there is a pair of Jordans with your name on it.

Translate this magic to the audio space with live launch announcements and chatroom giveaways, and you’ve got a formula for marketing success.

2. Promote user-generated audio events

Customers treat reviews from other customers as more valid than company-constructed content. Knowing this, you may want to encourage existing happy customers to moderate or co-organize audio discussions. Don’t assume that this will happen without your input. Tint’s 2022 State of User-Generated Content report found that 6 in 10 people willing to pull together user-generated content want brands to be specific in terms of type and related parameters.

User-generated events have multiple benefits for branding. For one, bringing others into the content creation process allows for greater output and scalability. Furthermore, it can make audiences feel a part of the process. Allowing more people to engage in the brand, especially in creative ways, gives them a sense of belonging. This practice of social brand engagement will increase your number of brand ambassadors — from influencers and hired content partners down through their fanbase (who will eventually become a fan of your brand as well).

Related: 5 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Harness Social Audio

3. Conduct Q&A research in audio chatrooms

A final way to get on this marketing trend is by using audio apps as a gathering ground for first-party information and research. Pop-up audio events can be effective environments for conducting focus groups. Customers don’t just want personalization; they expect it. Talking directly to your audience can be quicker and more effective than guessing why a certain tactic hasn’t met the expected ROI. Bringing target audience members into audio events can be a source of innovation.

HubSpot recommends targeting existing audiences for focus groups, as those are often the people already invested in the brand. They may be the first to test new products and initiatives, so why not capitalize on that? Including them in the conversation grows their emotional bond with a brand and allows marketers easy access to a valuable trove of feedback. Going the route of audio rooms can help speakers feel more comfortable. After all, no one knows you’re lounging in your favorite pair of sweatpants in an audio-only call.

But there’s a bigger benefit to audio-only focus groups than not worrying about fixing your hair: Recent research found that groups with only-audio cues communicate and problem-solve more effectively than those streaming video as well. Eliminating the distraction will lead to fewer interruptions and better insights for your brand.

No doubt about it: Audio-based events are having a moment. Just make sure you don’t come late to this party that’s showing so much promise.

Business Strategies, Entrepreneurial Advice & Inspiring Stories are all in one place. Explore the new Entrepreneur Bookstore.

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First, it was the wheel, then the printing press, then the internet. Could be the “next frontier” — the technological advancement that takes human civilization to a whole new level of progress? Although some view space research as nothing but a vanity project for millionaires with minimal benefits for the average person, it’s actually driving innovation forward for numerous sectors.

Space has already contributed to diverse inventions, from carbon monoxide detectors to memory foam. Today, four industries stand to benefit from SpaceTech: pharma and research, telecommunications, and manufacturing. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Related: This 2-Year-Old Spacetech Startup Is Building Earth Imaging Satellite To Help Sectors

1. Pharma and research

Pharmaceutical developments depend upon scientists’ ability to carry out trials on different solutions, and it turns out this is often easier in space. The microgravity environment up there offers all kinds of advantages by simulating our bodies and making it possible to do things like separate liquids and transfer heat. As a result, we can develop a broader range of chemical reactions and molecules.

The Israeli company SpacePharma is at the forefront of this revolution. From its miniature laboratories — found on spacecraft, satellites and even the — the firm carries out crucial research at a lower cost than could be done on earth. While on average it costs $10 to $70 million to host a space lab, SpacePharma reduced the cost to approximately $2 million.

The company’s brilliance isn’t just in their research but the path they’re paving for all future companies in the sector, possibly including the world’s largest pharma and healthcare companies. For instance, research into how reagents become high-yield crystals in a microgravity environment could help to cure cancer. Stem cell research, anti-aging solutions and antibiotics are other areas in which SpacePharma’s space labs could accelerate research.

Not surprisingly, many of the biggest names in SpaceTech have recognized SpacePharma’s potential and established a relationship with the company, including SpaceX, NASA and the International Space Station — and its journey is only just beginning.

2. Telecommunications

Because we live in a place with developed telecommunications infrastructure, it’s easy to forget there are many places in the world (and probably your own country, too) where reliable internet access sounds like a dream. It’s tough to put the proper infrastructure into remote and rural locations, but the use of internet satellites could change this and skyrocket internet availability. And best of all, it stands to be affordable.

We already had a glimpse of the power of space when Elon Musk moved his Starlink satellite above Ukraine to ensure the nation’s people could access the internet during tensions between and Ukraine.

Then there’s the use of satellites for data transfer purposes. Putting satellites into orbit is becoming cheaper. They could help collect GPS data and satellite imagery to understand what’s happening on our planet — especially when combined with artificial technology that can make sense of all the information or model different scenarios. This has already helped us tackle the pandemic, and deforestation and agricultural yields are other possible applications.

Related: How to Monetize Space Beyond Expeditions and Research

3. CleanTech

One of the biggest problems humans face these days is climate change and ecological damage. Although there are ways space research can contribute to the problem — look at all the debris floating around up there from past projects — there’s also lots of potential for space to combat environmental destruction.

Recently, the United Nations has recognized the role of space in achieving its sustainable development goals. For example, many projects link to telecommunications, such as satellites to monitor emissions on earth. Also, ways to keep up the debris outside the planet have been investigated, such as the ELSA-d taking the floating debris using magnets and then burning them in the outer atmosphere layers.

4. Manufacturing

The advantages of microgravity environments go beyond pharma — it can also help produce a wide array of other materials. NASA is already carrying out a range of in-space manufacturing projects, including 3D printing in zero gravity, creating more solid materials and components for manufacturing and ways to recycle plastics.

Historically, few materials we could manufacture in space were useful enough to warrant the expense, but this has started to change. For instance, the fiber optic material ZBLAN, which could reduce signal losses significantly compared to silica-based optical fiber, can only be made in space since gravity results in imperfections in the material. Made In Space, Inc. is already creating the material with promising results.

Related: What Traveling to Space Can Teach Us About Working and Living on Earth

The “next frontier” is here

Space technology goes far beyond expeditions to Mars or space tourism — current innovations could change countless industries and even human civilization.

Companies like SpacePharma and SpaceX are paving the way to a world where the sky literally isn’t the limit. Now, human researchers are no longer limited to experiments and innovations we can carry out under gravity and other earthly restraints. This holds the potential to solve many of the greatest problems we face today, from deadly illnesses to climate change.

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Many companies have had to adapt in the face of the pandemic and supply-chain challenges, and Kellogg is one of the latest to switch up its business strategy.

The company announced Tuesday that it will separate into three independent companies, transforming its cereal and plant-based businesses into distinct entities and keeping the focus of its remaining business on snacking, cereal and noodles across the globe, and frozen breakfast in North America.

Per CNBC, Kellogg shares soared 6.5% in premarket trading on the announcement.

“These businesses all have significant standalone potential, and an enhanced focus will enable them to better direct their resources toward their distinct strategic priorities,” Steve Cahillane, Kellogg Company’s chairman and CEO, said in the statement. “In turn, each business is expected to create more value for all stakeholders, and each is well-positioned to build a new era of innovation and growth.”

Related: The Founders of RXBar, Acquired by Kellogg for $600 Million, Built the Company by ‘Having a Bias Toward Action’

The businesses have yet to be named, and management teams for the new businesses have yet to be announced.

Kellogg is also considering the eventual sale of its plant-based business. Together, the company’s plant-based and cereal businesses account for just 20% of Kellogg’s total revenue. Kellogg’s global snacking business and North American frozen breakfast brands, which include brands such as Pringles and Eggo, make up the rest, bringing in $11.4 billion last year.

Cahillane will stay on as CEO of the global snacking company, and headquarters for the three businesses will remain the same. The North American cereal company, which includes brands such as Froot Loops and Special K, and the plant-based food company are located in Battle Creek, Michigan, and the global snacking company is in Chicago, with an additional campus in Battle Creek.

Related: Over 1,000 Kellogg’s US Cereal Plant Workers Go on Strike Over Cut to Benefits and Pay

Kellogg Company is up 7.5% year over year this morning, and Cahillane told CNBC that the company has yet to determine how it will allocate its dividends among the three businesses.

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People who are intimidated by change often steer their actions based on fear. This is also what happens when outdated institutional standards manipulate people into thinking a certain way — to the point where they lose sense of self, and their identity in the process. Those who have accepted and adapted to those standards are often afraid of the unknown and/or of losing what they have. As a result, they may wait for something to happen instead of taking proactive steps to make something happen. This can leave them feeling helpless and anxious, and can also prevent them from taking advantage of opportunities or otherwise achieving their full potential.

Sound familiar? This is actually how most people feel today at work — suppressed, helpless and afraid of the future.

On the other hand, those who have been lifelong learners have likely not accepted the standards of the past, but instead have created their own. These types of people work both hard and smart to explore what’s required in order to find success — on their own terms and with a firm knowledge of the significance of what they’re doing. They realize that the is a barrier to their own growth and that of their organization, and have further grasped that the workplace landscape is changing fast — that it’s essential to be adaptable and to learn new things quickly. But simply having the desire to learn isn’t enough: They also trust their own self competence, and this helps them set clear goals, take action, follow through and remain accountable.

Based on my organizational research, which has been further validated by an industrial organizational psychologist, here are actionable behaviors that can foster such boldness — a willingness to disrupt the status quo in search of new possibilities.

1. Aim to Advance Rather than Criticize

It’s easy to be a critic. When things go wrong, it’s natural to want to point fingers and find someone to blame. But what does that accomplish? In many cases, all it produces is tension and division — a cycle of negativity, with no real way out.

So, instead of criticizing, find solutions that will improve a challenging situation, which requires patience and perseverance. This doesn’t mean ignoring problems; we still need to acknowledge them, but if the focus is on finding ways to make things better, moving forward becomes far easier.

Related: Entrepreneur Press’s 2017-published book, The Innovation Mentality: Six Strategies to Disrupt the Status Quo and Reinvent the Way We Work

2. Keep a Proactive Mindset

A dynamic and forward-thinking outlook is essential for anyone who wants to make a positive impact on themselves and their workplace environment. People with that mindset take initiative and responsibility for their actions, and understand that their choices have real effect. They restlessly look for ways to improve their own lives and the lives of those around them, and are not afraid to take risks or try new things. Individuals with a proactive mindset know that change starts with them, and so are willing to do whatever it takes to influence a work environment to foster a healthier whole.

3. Maintain Confidence in Abilities

This quality is evident in the way people approach both challenges and opportunities. They believe in themselves and their skills, and this allows them to push to new levels. Such confidence is also evident in their interactions with others; they share ideas and opinions without feeling defensive or self-conscious. As a result, they can build strong relationships and achieve in both their personal and professional lives.

Related: 10 Ways to Build Your Entrepreneurial Confidence

4. Nurture Self-Awareness, Including Your Flaws

On the surface, the individuals described so far might seem like they have it all together, but what sets them further apart is that they are purposefully self-aware. This is not to suggest that they are perfect, likely far from it. In fact, it’s their willingness to embrace imperfections that makes them unique. And in doing so, they inspire others to do the same. As a result, they are able to create a more positive and accepting work environment.

5. Be Fearless in Speaking Up and Otherwise Providing Feedback

Constructive and effective communication skills are, of course, indispensable in the workplace. They show that you are engaged with your work and with others, and that you are willing to stand up for what you believe in. However, giving feedback can also be difficult, as it requires one to be honest and direct. Some may shy away from doing so because they fear conflict or don’t want to upset others. However, if you can learn to give feedback effectively, it can be a valuable tool for promoting positive change. When engaged in that process, aim to be clear, concise and respectful, and avoid making personal attacks or speaking in absolutes. Instead, focus on the specific issue at hand and what you would like to see changed.

6. Stay Hungry for Knowledge

Those who are proactive in increasing their knowledge and intellectual growth are more likely to find significance in their careers. They are also more willing to unlearn bad habits, embrace new and better ones, and so expand their skillsets, which makes them more valuable and relevant. Furthermore, they tend to be more innovative, as they are constantly challenging themselves to come up with better solutions. As a result, those who invest in their intellectual growth are more prepared to be bold and disrupt the status quo.

Related: How to Advance Your Career Through Upskilling and Reskilling in Your Current Role

7. Embrace Actions that Create Confidence, Power and Velocity

When it comes to confidence and overall effectiveness, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, there are a few key actions that can help to nurture these qualities. First, it’s important to identify goals and set a clear plan for achieving them. This will help foster a sense of direction and purpose. Second, take positive steps towards those goals on a regular basis. Even small moves can make a big difference, and in taking action you build momentum. Finally, stay focused and maintain dedication to goals. If you can do these things, you will be well on your way regarding boldness as a trusted friend.

Business Strategies, Entrepreneurial Advice & Inspiring Stories are all in one place. Explore the new Entrepreneur Bookstore.

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The last decade has seen a shift in project management approaches. One big disruption is that agile project management (APM) methodologies have become prominent — now used by 25% of , according to the Project Management Institute’s 2021 “Pulse of the Profession” survey. The allure of this more dynamic approach is that it (in theory) allows projects to achieve real-time iteration and innovation without being bogged down by complex issues.

The problem with this practice is often that big picture and overarching goals of a project aren’t always well-defined from the onset. Imagine attempting to solve a problem when you don’t yet know what it is. This wouldn’t work very well. What’s first required is defining the problem, then firmly establishing the requirements for solving it, and the project specs will flow from there.

Another sizable upheaval is that hierarchies and structures are seemingly changing by the minute, thanks in part to the rising popularity of hybrid or all-remote setups. In turn, efficient project management might adopt Software as a Solution (SaaS) attributes that incorporate more outsourced and service approaches for project operations.

No matter what approach companies take, project management is invaluable to their outlook. The more aligned it is with a company’s big-picture aspirations, the better it operates.

Related: My Company Nearly Died! The Reason? My Lack of Project-Management Skills

What Disrupts Effective Project Management?

To ensure the successful implementation of the best project management strategies, companies must avoid three primary barriers:

Denial. The very definition of good management in this context is re-syncing a plan to match reality. If you flip this on its head and simply wish reality would fit the plan, you continue down a path of failure.

Lack of investment in a project management office (PMO). Whether it’s outsourced or in house, investing in the right project management structure will have a high return on investment. Even those companies that don’t have a dedicated Center of Excellence or PMO can still engage with outside specialists to deliver and manage projects on their behalf, and leadership will need to commit to realizing that return.

Chasing efficiency at the expense of success. Organizations that put efficiency on a pedestal often sacrifice the quality and integrity of a project. One recurring culprit for insufficient delivery is a technique called “crashing the schedule,” which expedites completion in a cost-effective way but at the expense of the product. Blowing past budgets and timelines isn’t ideal, but it may be necessary to deliver a workable solution. A project that goes 50% over budget but gets 100% of the needed return will be much more effective than one delivered on budget but which gets none of the return.

Related: Spark Efficient Project Management With These 3 Steps

Overcoming Obstacles

Now that we’ve established the main impediments to effective project management, the question is how to overcome them.

1. Embrace the Culture

Project management doesn’t operate in a silo; it cuts horizontally across all departments. So, there must be top-to-bottom, broad-based support — with a approach from leadership to all teams for project management to improve operations.

Empathetic leaders go a long way in making this kind of lasting change. At the beginning of the pandemic, for example, India-based infrastructure company GMR Group used that hugely disruptive time to transition to digital project management solutions. According to GMR Vice President of Operations, Nirbhik Sengupta, the goal was to cut waste, streamline employee processes, boost efficiency and make GMR less reliant on spreadsheets. All those benefits were discussed and cleared with employees through effective outreach.

So, it’s vital to incorporate the link between business and project management into the fabric of the culture. Maintaining effective and open communication when working toward that kind of effective management is essential.

2. Have a Road Map to Your Future State

Organizational change management fares much better when a company has a solid understanding of its current capabilities and direction. To that end, organizations need to generate an Analysis/Vision/Road Map to assess the current state of the business and plan future goals based on what changes achieving those goals will require.

3. Emphasize Leadership

Leadership in project management is the single most important aspect of creating change. A recent McKinsey study found that leadership can increase project performance by no less than 52.3%.

Effective project managers need to be trusted leaders who are allowed to be disruptive to the current system when necessary to drive top performance and worthwhile results. Leadership also needs to show an investment in giving project managers the resources and support they need to steer the ship.

Related: 10 Project Management Hacks That Will Help New Project Managers Find Success

4. Create Lasting Engagement

When teams are accountable for a project all the way from development to solution, they’re more engaged. Again, per McKinsey, the changes that implementation of project management creates are 25% more valuable when they’re embedded into day-to-day operations. So, look for ways to remain locked into a project for the duration. Speak to key stakeholders and experts to determine other requirements and where gaps might materialize. That way, business and project management objectives can stay on the same page.

When project management is done well, it can transform a business, but determining its ideal approach is a highly individualized task. Applying these four steps will allow the implementation of a successful strategy that fits your unique needs.

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Adapt or be left behind. The often-repeated phrase has long served as a warning to business leaders. It’s a reminder to never rest on your laurels and always evolve with the times. It doesn’t matter what industry your business serves, conditions are constantly changing and opportunities continually present themselves. Being left behind is not an option.

I founded my company over a decade ago. I set out with my colleagues to disrupt the real estate industry by fostering a culture of collaboration that had not yet existed in our business. What if real estate professionals came together, instead of working against one another, to better serve our clients and provide more comprehensive representation? What if we could create a place where agents could enjoy coming to work each day, learning from each other and benefiting from the knowledge and expertise of the whole?

We were successful in disrupting our industry over ten years ago. And we have remained at the forefront of innovation by continuing to advance our mission, adapting quickly to changing market conditions. We are constantly adding to our value proposition for customers and stakeholders alike. So how do we do it? Here, I outline four ways to adapt your business to keep up with the latest advancements in your industry.

1. Define a clear growth strategy

Where is it you’re going and why? It’s vital to constantly define, set and evolve the intention of your business. Ask yourself and your colleagues regularly: What problems are you trying to solve and how are you uniquely positioned to solve them? Growing for the sake of growing is not a thoughtful strategy. Answer the needs of your customers and your industry as a whole. You can then grow sustainably, increasing the return on investment in both the short and long run.

Case in point, the real estate industry has entered the age of consolidation. Brokerages are buying up smaller competitors to increase market share and agent count. To set our company apart, we have set our intention for strategic growth by identifying our market differentiators. We choose quality over quantity in everything we do. We carefully select our partners. We strategically enter new markets with agents and teams who share our vision. And that vision is providing a highly personalized service experience for both our agents and our clients.That’s how we’re able to maintain our boutique environment while growing on a global scale. Find your differentiators, stick to them and growth will come easy.

2. Continually evolve and innovate

This seems obvious, but here is where the specifics matter. What are you adding to your company’s value proposition? How are you constantly striving to add value for your stakeholders and customers? You can’t wait for the next great tech system or business tool to appear. You have to seek it (or create it) for yourself. Again, it comes back to the question: What problem are you solving?

In the real estate industry, it’s been very clear that buyers and sellers are seeking a simpler, more convenient buying and selling experience. While we’ve always been a tech-forward company, we recently acquired a tech-powered, independent brokerage in New York City. Their proprietary systems, partnered with the ones we’ve created, will help our agents offer just that. By providing our agents with a fully-integrated CRM system, data-driven insight and predictive analytics, we can further position them as experts in their fields. Thus saving them time to focus their efforts on advising their clients through the nuances of the market.

Related: 4 Principles to Develop Next-Level Leadership

3. Always be a step ahead

Being proactive — not reactive — provides a clear path to success. While we can’t predict the future, we can be prepared for the ups and downs our industries are sure to face. Preparing for those bumps in the road ensures you can remain flexible and quickly adapt to whatever comes your way.

For example, the rise and success of real estate apps and systems made it clear to us. Consumers were moving the home shopping experience, just like every other shopping experience, to their mobile devices. We embraced social media and digital systems early on. When home tours and open houses shut down during the pandemic, we were able to quickly pivot our business online in the blink of an eye. Our social media prominence served our agents well as their clients sought real-time engagement, service and guidance. They were buying sight unseen and selling to enjoy their newfound work-from-anywhere lifestyle.

Related: 8 Great Entrepreneurial Success Stories

4. Stay true to your founding mission

Never forget where you started. You set out to disrupt, solve a problem and innovate a new way of doing business in your industry. Are you staying true to your mission, the idea that inspired your entrepreneurial leap of faith? What motivated and guided you from the start should still be relevant.

At our company, culture was everything to us from day one. The culture of partnership and collaboration helped us build one connected community. This has helped our agents reach new heights in their business, even as we’ve grown from one boutique office to more than 50 in five countries. With every decision we make, we stop to ask: Will this align with our culture? Our recent acquisition is proof of this. The New York team has the same commitment to service, collaboration and community, putting people before all else. Finding the perfect match to help us grow sustainably and strategically while staying true to our core founding principles was well worth the wait. Begin as you mean to go, stay true to what sets you apart and always adapt to the needs of the marketplace. A winning strategy to not only keep up with advancements in your industry but to be leading the charge.

Related: 5 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

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Ideation is foundational to and so to success. But do you get it right? Well, likely not all the time. Key to its application and evolution is the need to form an idea, but then to test, re-ideate, refine, and iterate until you have something ready to launch.

Pathway to Innovation

Ideation is the indispensable first step in the process of innovation, which is itself about making positive changes for the future — improving things and creating something new. But innovation doesn’t just happen: It requires that you have a vision of what you want, then work towards making that a reality. In the ideation phase, you brainstorm ideas for how to solve a problem or create something new, and it is often the most fun part of the development process.

When you’re in ideation mode, you’re not just looking at what’s possible, but at what might be possible, which then allows opening your mind to all sorts of new ideas and innovations that would never have occurred to you if you’d simply focused on the practical applications of existing , for example.

A case in point: Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone was actually incidental to something else entirely: an improved for his wife. His original idea was to use electricity to transmit sound directly into a person’s ear (as opposed to the audio speaker systems we still use today). But when Bell decided to add an amplifier so that multiple people could hear the sound at once, something magical happened: he created a device that allowed people anywhere in the world to converse instantly, and changed the world forever.

Related: Tackling Ideation in the Startup Realm is Easily Done (When Done Right)

How Most Companies Get Ideation Wrong

As a professional, I have worked with many companies and seen their ideating ways. Some of them are good, but most are not, and the way most companies get that concept wrong is that they have no structure to their process, which means they cannot get the best ideas from employees or customers. And without those, they cannot take on the problems that need solving.

In my analysis, ideas are like babies: They need to be nurtured and cared for if they’re going to grow into something with the potential to change the world. If you don’t take care of an idea, it will perish. What’s necessary is the development of a structured process that helps turn ideas into reality, because the truth is that ideation can be a long, slow process — one that can waste time, or worse, make you feel like a failure.

Some common pitfalls:

• Not giving a problem enough thought

• Not having a plan for getting started

• Not knowing when to stop collecting ideas

• Not knowing how to ensure that ideas are good

• Insistence upon thinking that an idea is great, even though it isn’t

Related: Providing an Ecosystem for Ideation

A Central Question

The best way to get ideation right is to ensure that you’re approaching it from the right place, and the first step in doing that is to ask, “Are we doing this because it’s what customers want, or because it’s what competitors are doing?” If you don’t firmly embrace the former, it’s likely time for a new approach.

Of course, a good idea is nothing without the right execution, so planning out what your ideation activity will entail is crucial to ensuring that an outcome is effective and predictable.

Lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself: No one is perfect. The key is to learn from mistakes and come out of the process better off than you were. If you’re committed to driving innovation in your organization, ideation can be a powerful tool, but keep in mind that it’s an ongoing process that must be managed effectively. To truly harness its power, an organization needs to have a culture that values new ideas — one in which idea generation is not seen as a “soft” activity. Once this happens, the above approaches can be used to great effect.

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Like many other industries, the sector is constantly evolving. Candidates can investigate restaurant-related concepts that serve everything from flavored ice and vegan-only menu items to specialty coffee shops and Korean BBQ. But progress in the restaurant category is also notable in the way the industry is expanding far beyond dining options. Several new diverse concepts now offer ownership opportunities for catering, healthy eating programs, meal planning consultancies and even chef training schools for the foodservice and . Many of these concepts are putting a greater focus on technological advancements, transforming how operate, serve customers and process payments.

If you truly want to be a self-styled restaurateur, your options among franchised business models are as diverse as global cuisine itself. Restaurant and hospitality concepts are available at every price point, which means there’s an affordable way to get a seat at the table for any entrepreneur minded individual. As you’ll note from the progress of several of the brands listed on the recently released Entrepreneur 2022 Top Franchises Ranking, the restaurant industry is a picture of progress and innovation.

Related: A Taste Of The Future: How Tech Is Revolutionizing The

Variety is the spice of life

One measure of the industry’s progress can be seen in the increasing amount of dining options and diverse business models available to franchisees. Which is also helping to dispel one of the most common myths associated with franchising – that it’s mostly made up of fast-food outlets. In reality, these quick-service restaurants (QSRs) actually account for less than a quarter of all franchised establishments. There are also FSRs – full-service restaurants, fast-casual, fine dining, ghost kitchens, mobile food trucks, and other franchise models that specialize in catering, employee training, and food delivery. In today’s restaurant and hospitality industry, some franchise owners may never see the inside of a kitchen at all.

Digital interaction makes this brand a smooth operator

Smoothie King earned a 13th place ranking in Entrepreneur’s 2022 Franchise 500 list, not surprising when you consider the brand’s mindset and approach in providing the right technological tools for their franchisees. With over 1,000 locations in the U.S., Smoothie King places a focus on connecting with consumers through the digital touchpoints of their mobile app. The brand believes that the purchasing process begins long before customers set foot in a store and have dedicated time and effort to build consumer loyalty through mobile interactions.

Related: Examples of Food Business Ideas

Automation nation

If automation continues to drive innovation in the restaurant and hospitality industry, we’ll no longer be able to place the blame for incorrect orders on drive-thru personnel. That’s because big name trendsetting franchisors such as McDonald’s, Dunkin’ and KFC are all investing in self-ordering kiosks. Consumers can now enter these establishments and make their own customized selections directly on a touchscreen. As automated processes such as self-ordering kiosks continue to catch on with even more franchise brands, will no longer be the only place where you can have it your way.

Generating value

There are countless other examples of restaurant franchisors utilizing technology to raise brand awareness, target consumers, and lower operating costs. These, and other innovations are generating value for franchisees, and strengthening franchise systems for the brands who invest in technology. The future may rely upon comprehensive digital platforms that can streamline efficiencies and profitability down to the franchise unit level. All while greatly improving customer loyalty and experiences. As franchisors reinvest these savings back into their operation and expansion efforts, the restaurant industry will really steadily become an even more tasty opportunity for entrepreneurs everywhere.

When it comes to the best franchise concepts by category, Entrepreneur has you covered. We have business opportunities to share from over a dozen industries. Everything from automotive, home services, and childcare to food, health and beauty, and everything in between. To see what’s in our franchisor database, be sure to check out Entrepreneur’s Best of the Best Rankings.

Related: Entrepreneur’s 2022 Top Food Franchises Ranking

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To spend time with is akin to gulping a nitro coffee right from the tap.

Born in , the billionaire learned early on that life’s game is not always right-justified. His late father’s attempts at honorable work sent Jain and his family trekking through cities of sizeable populations, where moral judgments of character, unfortunately, went against his professional growth. His father’s refusal to play larger city politics eventually led the family to settle on small village life. While it resulted in a decrease in their standard of living that might have sent shivers down most other families’ spines – it galvanized the Jains.

Jain’s father was a builder, and one might contend that Naveen is as well. His toolbelt is fastened by boundless energy, wit, and wisdom for a future outside of this world, quite literally.

The endlessly curious billionaire

The man who can actually mine the moon has set his course forward to crack the human health code with Viome Life Sciences. Jain says that Viome’s singular mission is to “make illness optional.” The company’s AI-driven platform analyzes the interaction between food, one’s microbiome, and human cells to develop precision nutrition that aims to prevent and reverse chronic diseases.

Related: The Secrets That Helped LeBron James Become a Billionaire (And Have Nothing to Do With Playing Basketball)

Jain’s belief in Viome mirrors his belief that entrepreneurs should embody the passion of their company. “Entrepreneurs should jump out of bed in the morning, and if they don’t they are pursuing the wrong goal,” he says. “Entrepreneurs need to be obsessed with solving problems. Passion is for hobbies; passion is for losers. The winners and the entrepreneurs who know what they are going after possess a true obsession. When they go to sleep, they want to solve problems.”

Sleep may be the only thing Jain is in short supply of these days. Jain balances his curiosity for life as the Executive Chairman of Singularity University and as a Trustee on the Board of XPRIZE.

How to define success

Despite his notable success, Jain’s obsession hasn’t turned to dollars and cents. Even noting his status as a billionaire had Jain squirming in his chair. Jain notes that finding happiness should not lie in the hands of others or the experiences others extend to us as entrepreneurs.

“Success is not about the destination. Success is about the journey, acknowledging the shoulders of the giants before you, and setting your sights on moving the ball down the field. Regardless of the degree of success obtained, the next generation should be able to stand on your shoulders to continue the progress.”

Related: 5 Lessons From Billionaire Jeff Bezos That All Entrepreneurs Can Learn From

As Jain notes, success or failure teeters more on an idea’s importance than on any one person. Jain’s executable strength as an entrepreneur might be best demonstrated in his ability to listen, adapt and pivot. By not seeing perceived failures as indictments on himself, he uses data to inform a clearer path forward.

His view of success centers on an entrepreneur’s ability to impact others, not themselves.

“Success is not measured by goals. It’s measured by the number of people whose lives you have improved along the way.”

Jain’s childhood ingrained in him a sense of calm in the face of change. Constant upheaval from one village to the next taught Jain to embrace change instead of fearing the unknown.

Related: How Do Your Eating Habits Compare to Warren Buffett, Elon Musk and Bill Gates? These Are the Billionaires’ Favorite Foods to Snack On

“Change became the mantra of my life; you can throw me in any situation. It doesn’t faze me, and entrepreneurs need to have that same mindset to manage through challenging times,” he says.

His advice to all entrepreneurs is simple: “Remember, you measure your success, not by the amount of money you have in the bank. You simply count the life that you have improved. The day you become humble is the day you have become successful.”

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