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How this successful entrepreneur spent his 35th birthday

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Over the weekend I was going through my Twitter feed. Rather than seeing a ton of political "artistry" and random gifs, I stumbled across this incredible set of non-obvious business strategies (or better known as tweets) that may be some of the largest pieces of gold someone can read when they want to start a business.Twitter has received it's fair share of opinions within the past year, but it's safe to say that if used correctly; it's the most powerful social network on the planet.Scott Gerber, a New York based entrepreneur, best selling author, father, and straight up bad ass, celebrated his birthday in an unconventional way. The "Super Connector" took to Twitter to grace us with 35 "non-obvious business strategies and lessons" that he has learned over the past decade in business. Below are his tweets directly quoted from his Twitter feed. If you care to follow Scott, you can do so at @scottgerber.

Lessons From Scott Gerber

1. Beware of "boss metrics"

Macro trends are great IF they are based on the right micro trends. Macro trends can easily be manipulated to show a rosy picture while making major micro issues seem smaller or irrelevant. Ensure your KPIs align with your true performance.

2. Optionality is your life blood

Your job is to maximize optionality everyday in everything you do. There should never only be one path. In fact, try never to only have two potential paths. Always have a variety of obvious and non-obvious traditional and non-traditional options.

3. Bad Decisions

Bad decisions are due to failures to ask the right people the right questions. Don’t be “surface level”. Ask follow up questions. Don’t mistakenly believe what you want to hear. Instead probe deeper on what you actually hear.

4. Two rules

Two rules if your goal is to one day sell your business. 1) Be a revenue multiple company. 2) If you aren’t a revenue multiple company, see rule #1.

5. Anecdotal evidence

Never allow your team to use “anecdotal evidence”. First, anecdotes are not evidence of anything nor are they based in facts, science or statistical relevance. It's simply opinions on top of gut feelings and emotions. Poor decisions come from this sort of “evidence”.

6. Train with fake fires.

Train with fake fires. Your company needs a good fire drill once in a while. What happens if you don't raise money? What happens if your biggest client fires you? Get smart people in the room. Figure out how you would disrupt your own business and solve the issue.

7. Never give a “definitive yes”...

Never give a “definitive yes” to a contractual term without reviewing it in its proper context. A one line term can easily become 100 lines or be defined by 100 terms that you never agreed to. It can also mess up other terms if everything is not contemplated as a whole

8. Don't just listen

Don't just listen to what's being said--listen to what is not being said. More importantly, listen to what’s not being said on purpose. People that try to sell you something are often expert in the art of mindful editing.

9. Automating

Automating humans out of a process still takes lots of humans. Don’t be fooled by the concept of “automating a system”. It often takes more man-hours, money, time and technologies than the task itself is worth. Look at the full picture before you invest time or treasure.

10. Follow the bonus.

Follow the bonus. If you help others hit their financial goals, they are more likely to become an ambassador of your BD efforts with their colleagues. Building a partnership with someone who is top line revenue based versus quota based is different. Align incentives.

11. Never partner with adulterers or known cheaters.

11. Never partner with adulterers or known cheaters. If they are willing to screw over their spouse, they will have no problem screwing you ten fold if it suits their needs.

12. Sell with a “2-for-1” mentality.

Sell with a “2-for-1” mentality. Many companies get one big client name and are happy with that. BUT they forget the big client has dozens of divisions. One client could actually become 2 or 3 clients once you open the right doors. Don’t stop after the hardest one!

13. The 3rd party

Don’t let a 3rd party control your destiny, cash flow or your decisions. Whether you need an investment, a platform or a vendor, if a 3rd party becomes a vital piece of your plan you are taking a bet. Calculated bets can be smart, but don’t kid yourself. You’re making a bet.

14. Don’t be a conventional scheduler.

Don’t be a conventional scheduler. We’ve been taught to think in blocks of time (ie 30 minutes). Why have a 12 minute meeting, then burn 18? Think in smaller chucks like 2 or 5 minutes. When you adapt to this, you're capacity and efficiency will dramatically increase.

15. The Final Offer

Know the final offer you’d take before the first offer. Before you do any deal, know your absolute last stand deal--the absolute worst terms you are willing to accept. Having that thought out beforehand will stop you from making bad deals that aren't in your best interests.

16. About Acceptance

Don't ram your model into new industries and assume the other side will understand it (or accept it). Engineer your model to adapt to the lingo, structures and terms of the industry. Make the numbers work using the financial standards of that industry.

17. Always be the first salesperson.

Always be the first salesperson. If you don't know how to sell your product, no one will! Even if you aren't a professionally trained salesperson—or the tech guy!!—you need to learn to articulate your value proposition and see what people really need.

18. About Department Heads

Have your department heads always do every task in their department before they are allowed to assign it to anyone else. This will ensure that they know what success and failure look like beforehand.

19. About Sales Meetings

In sales meetings, always ask more questions than you answer. Answer questions with follow up questions until you have the most amount of detail possible before you fully answer. Most prospects will TELL YOU what they need and how they want it. You just need to ask and listen

20. Know your team’s real capacity.

Know your team’s real capacity. Break down your staff's tasks into units and total task costs. You would be shocked to see how “busyness” and real time communication gives the false impression of full capacity.

21. “Layer”

“Layer” your business over time, not all at once. Layering new revenue centers is certainly smart, just don’t try to do it all today.

22. Buying into passion and enthusiasm can be a disaster.

Buying into passion and enthusiasm can be a disaster. Don’t get caught up in hype and sexiness (or a good salesperson's spin!). Never make instant yes decisions no matter how good you feel. Even if they feel right, you should still do your diligence.

23. Train your brain

Train your brain to think about what is wrong, not right. What could go badly, not well. And why something won't work, not will. Your love for your idea, your process or your product can be your worst enemies.

24. Invest in the right systems BEFORE you scale.

Invest in the right systems BEFORE you scale. Failing to create the processes and systems needed when things are manageable will become incredibly costly longer term—and more time consuming and tedious.

25. Rules of the DM

Expect that anything you send via email or send via DM to anyone about anything will get out there and will be made public at some point. It will. Don’t be an idiot.

26. Surprise Yourself

No matter how “conservative” you believe your internal projections or goals are—LOWER THEM AGAIN. Surprise yourself, don’t be surprised.

27. Sell your way out of financial trouble

Sell your way out of financial trouble. The idea of “raising money” or “raising debt” is not a good mindset to be in if you find your company in a cash crunched position. You might end up getting financing, but relying on it is a fool’s errand. Sell! Sell! Sell!

28. Are your customers asking the same question twice?

If customers ask you the same question twice, you've failed them. When customers ask a new question, write it down, formalize an answer, and find ways to promote that answer (eg FAQs, call center scripts, website, etc.) so that another customer will never need to ask again.

29. Never blindly listen

Never blindly listen to someone who doesn't have to live with the consequences of the decision. Advisors are great but you must make final decisions. Getting an "I'm sorry it didn't work out" from an advisor without any downside won’t won't make you feel better in the end.

30. Unlock your entrepreneurial mind.

Unlock your entrepreneurial mind With everything that happens around you, go beyond the surface and ask "why", "how", "is it the best", "what's better", and "how would I do it." Feed on curiosity and your ability to ask great questions will be sharp when you need it.

31. User adoption isn't simple or guaranteed.

User adoption isn't simple or guaranteed. Changing user behavior is not easy. Remember: everyone is busy (life, family, work) and you want to add yet another thing. Remove as much friction as you can. Save as much time as you can.

32. Shut up after yes

Once you've got a 'yes' shut up and stop trying to further sell. You can't go further than a win, so shut up. I’ve met more than my fair share of people that lost deals because they kept selling past the ‘yes’.

33. Everyone always has an angle.

Everyone always has an angle. Know the angle before you react to the situation. Don't end up a pawn on someone else’s chess board.

34. Community is crucial.

Community is crucial. The power of association and coalition is more powerful than being a lone wolf. Build one. Be a big part of many. Give more than you take (and don’t be a taker or a sleepy networker!).

35. A Quote to End Them All

Live by this quote from one of my mentors and you’ll be better for it: “You can’t cheat real time. And real relationships take real time.” With my addition: “But your job is to find ways to cheat your time to create more real time.”Here's to liven out that last quote. Thanks for the free advice Scott and Happy Birthday.
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Q&A With Wen-Jay Ying: Founder Of Local Roots NYC

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I met Wen-Jay a couple months back after stumbling into a Sustainability Commerce Popup Conference in Williamsburg.  She was among an eclectic panel of speakers that day who's company missions were not only vivid with green priority, but also deeply rooted into the fabric of their local communities. Her company, Local Roots NYC provides New Yorkers with a access to goods and produce from a network of local farmers (local meaning that their supplier's operations happen within a 250 mile radius).  It's a subscription based membership where you can sign up for different seasons, each having a variety of different seasonal foods.  Throughout the city are different "markets" where your allotted order is ready for pickup.  What's awesome about Local Roots is that their markets don't just happen anywhere, they happen at your favorite cafe or dive bar right in the heart of your local New York community.Local Roots NYC has been in operation for six years, with over 25 market sites, and over 750 members.  When meeting up with Wen-Jay at one of her market locations set up outside of a cute Brooklyn cafe, I got an overwhelmingly inclusive community vibe.  Toddlers were running around, and Local Roots members came to grab their goods while also inviting me to their yoga class later that day... I felt right at home! Here's some things we talked about that day:

How'd you come up with the idea for Local Roots?

I wanted to find a better, more social way to connect people and their communities to local farmers.  Creating Local Roots was my solution to the gap between farm to table.  Not only does it support local farmers but also the local businesses that we symbiotically partner with for our markets.

What makes this different than meal kits or other food delivery systems?

Having markets not only encourages the social aspect to shopping with us, but also greatly reduces waste.  When you order a food kit or have groceries delivered they tend to come with an excessive amount of packaging.  At are local market locations you can bring your own reusables and stop it at your favorite bar for a drink all at the same time.

How does your company take sustainability into account?

Each of our farmers practice different levels of sustainability.  Kindness to animals and to the land are extremely important to us.  Our vegetables are either Certified Naturally Grown, a grassroots alternative to the USDA’s National Organic Program, or USDA Certified Organic . While the standards and the labels are the same – organic – the USDA Organic Program favors medium to big-sized farmers, and the Certified Naturally Grown program is better suited for small farmers. The Certified Naturally Grown label was created in 2002 in response to the USDA labeling, which is expensive in terms of time (paperwork per crop) and application fees. The Certified Naturally Grown program has farmers review fellow CNG farmers and prioritizes the exchange of feedback and ideas for growth.  More info on each of our famers can be found on our Farm page if you want to check it out.

So far what has been your favorite part of starting this company?

We've been running for over six years now.  In this time I've had customers become friends.  I've seen them get married and have babies, and I've seen those babies grow up on Local Roots produce.  Now these kids are almost three and they know so much more about their farmers and where their food comes from.  Not many other three year old kids are that connected to their food and how it grows! This makes me extremely happy and proud.
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170 Questions to Ask A Client Before You Begin Your Campaign

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Confused about what type of questions to a prospect in the crazy world of tech?

Well, worry no more! We decided to give you our 170 questions that we ask our clients, before we begin working with them. Now, we don't ask every question, because let's be honest, we would be here for several hours before we get all of the answers. Choose your questions wisely and add your company's culture into how you ask your questions!If you'd like to add more onto this list, feel free to comment below or email us your additions. 

Current Website Questions

- What is the purpose of your current website?- Are there any aspects of your current website that you love?- Are there any aspects of your current website that you hate?- Is there anything on the current website that needs to be removed entirely?- Is there anything on the current website that must absolutely stay?- Do you have multiple locations?- Where are they located?- Do you offer different products or services per location?- What is your business’s unique value proposition (UVP)?- What are the services you want to highlight on your website?- Why do visitors currently come to my website?- Is your website easy to navigate and is it easy to find information?- Are your current website visitors being converted into sales?- Are competitors’ websites more functional and have they recently been redesigned?- Does the content on my website deliver the right message?- Is your website a good representation of your business?- Does your current website instill trust and confidence?- Is it easy to update your website?- Are visitors who come to your website being tracked and analyzed?- Does your current website make it easy for website visitors to contact you?- What tools and apps do you use to run your business? 

Website Redesign Questions

- Why do you want a new website?- Do you have a proposed sitemap prepared?- In an ideal world, what do you want your website to become?- What are your specific goals for your new website that will help indicate if your investment is profitable?- How quickly do you want to achieve these goals?- Is there anything that you would like to have included in the new website that you lack currently?- Will your copy need to be reviewed and approved by legal and compliance?- Will your legal team need to create the privacy policy for the site?- At the end of this project, how do you qualify it as a success? 

Competitive Analysis Questions

- Who are your top seven competitors?- What about these companies makes then stand apart from others?- What elements of these companies and/or their online activity would you like to model afterin your redesign?- What do you currently like about your competitors websites?- What do you hate about your competitors websites?- What are some sites that you like the style of, features, and functionality of? 

Branding Questions

- Do you have brand guidelines?- If not, do you need help putting this together?- What are the brand guidelines?- Are there any color preferences for the new website?- Do you have the hex codes for your current brand colors?- Have you created buyer personas?- If you did; how many do you have and will we need to set up conversion funnels for each persona?
  • Do you have a site architecture completed?
- Do certain products and/or services speak to different type of clients?- What differentiates your product or service from your competition- Is there any legacy on your current website?- Do you currently have duplicate content on your site?- What types of content will you publish on the site?- How do plan to market the website once it is launched?- What are some images that relate to your business?- Will you be updating and reusing content and/or images from your current website?- Do you need help creating new visual components for your website?- What are some visual components that you’d like to add to your website?- Do you have a tag line?- What is your elevator pitch?- Do you have a mission statement?- What differentiates your company from your competitors? 

Sales, Marketing, and Advertising Questions

- Do you have a documented content strategy?- What types of marketing are you currently involved in or practice on a regular basis?- Why kind of ads will you be running? (Google, Facebook, native, display, search)- Do you have a current advertising budget?- When it comes to marketing (in general), what are your biggest challenges?- When it comes to obtaining qualified leads, what are your biggest challenges?- When it comes to closing leads, what are your biggest challenges?- Are there any short-term or long-term goals that need to be considered in the website redesign?- What social media elements would you like integrated?- Do you need a subscription option or other offer?- Will you be blogging on your website?- Who will be blogging on your website?- When do you see the most customers go to your website?- Do you currently use marketing automation software?- Do you use email marketing, landing page, or other tools on your site?- Do you use a CRM to store sales and customer information?- What is the target demographic of your website visitors?  Are there specific sectors, industry segments, company sizes, geography that needs to be focused on more than others?- Would you like to personalize content so that the content shown is targeted and relevant for different types of visitors?- Do you create ebooks, white papers, and other resources are placed behind a form?- Do you send email marketing communications?- What types of emails do you send to subscribers, prospects, leads, and customers?- Do you want automated emails to be triggered by actions customers take on your website?- Do you want the ability to create, edit, and publish landing pages and site pages?- Would you like to run predictive lead scoring every few months to automatically determine the properties and weight of each factor to create a lead score?- Have you performed A/B tests of your landing pages and calls-to-action to increase clickthrough rates? 

Lead Generation and Contact Page Questions

- How do you currently track leads on your website?- How do you want to collect customer information?- Are you comfortable with having your phone number on your website?- What is the email address you want on your website?- Can you speak to your customer experience?- How does a user become a customer of yours on your current website?- Do you currently include relevant call-to-actions on content posts?- Do you collect information from visitors and store this in a CRM or use it to inform marketing efforts?- What fields do you currently or want to include on forms?- Do you use call tracking to track online campaigns? 

SEO Questions

- Do you need assistance with search engine optimization?- When was the last time you reviewed your website was optimized?- Do you have someone who can review content for SEO best practices, internally?- Do you have someone who can create unique meta titles and descriptions per page or blog post, internally?- Do you have a Google Analytics account?- Do you have a Google Webmaster Tools or Bing Webmaster Tools account?- Based on what you know right now, what keywords or phrases would “you” use to search for your products and/or service offering?- What search terms are your competitors targeting?- Of the words you just listed, which ones would you like to target with the new website?- Do you have existing content that can support these keywords or phrases?- Does your existing website and content rank for these phrases?- What are your top performing keywords?- What are your most trafficked pages on your website?- Which site pages rank high in SERPs?- What percentage of visits are from organic sources?- What percentage of traffic are referrals from other sites?- Which referral channel gives your website the most traffic?- What percentage of traffic is from social media sites?- What percentage of traffic is from email marketing?- What percentage of traffic is from direct or people who type your URL into the search bar?- What percentage of traffic is from mobile devices?- What percentage of traffic is from tablet devices?- What sources -- social, referral, organic, etc. -- generate traffic from mobile and tablet users?- How many landing pages do you have?- What are your top performing landing pages?- What are your top performing blog posts?- How many visits does your site get each month?- How many page views does your site get each month?- How many leads do you generate each month?-  How long do people typically spend on your website?- What is the bounce rate for your site?- What is the average amount of sales generated by your site each month?- What is the page load time of your site?- How many inbound links are pointing to your current site?- Is your current site optimized for mobile users? 

Reporting Questions

- Do you like data?- What types of reports and data would you like to receive from our team?- Do you prefer phone call reporting?- Would you like to receive reports via PDF’s?- Would you like the reports to be converted into videos? 

Website Functionality Questions (UX and UI)

- Will you require a responsive design (adapts automatically to mobile devices)?- How often will you be updating the content on your site?- What functional requirements are needed within the new website?- Is there any specific feature that is needed for your website?- Do you want users to be able to comment on blog posts and other types of content?- Do you need to integrate chat features?- Will you need an internal search engine for your site?- Do you plan to post audio/video files to the site?- Do you have a video hosting service or will you be uploading videos to Vimeo or YouTube to embed videos on your site?- Will you need people to log in on the site either with a username and password or by using social logins?- Will users need the ability to post product reviews?- Do you want people to be able to share content from your website?- Will visitors have to enter credit card information and other personal details on any section of the website?- Do you plan to sell anything through your website? 

Development and Hosting Questions

- Who is your current website host?- If switching hosting companies, do you know where your DNS is controlled?- Do you have any and all logins?- Hosting- Domain name- Website- Where is your site currently hosted?- Do you know the current level of hosting you have?- Do you have or need an SSL certificate?- Do you have specific accessibility requirements? (Possibilities include, larger text, language conversion, blind accessible)- Will your site need to announce that they use cookies?- Do you have an existing content management system you prefer or would you like our suggestions on the proper CMS? 

Project and Budget Questions

- What is your budget for this project?- What is your yearly budget for website improvements?- What is you desired kick off date?- Who all is responsible for reviewing and providing feedback on the site?- Who will give final approval for the site prior to launch?- Who will be managing the site once it’s completed?- Will you require training on how to properly maintain the site?At Owners Magazine, we care deeply about creating an incredible experience for our customers. What better way to get to know our clients than to ask them fun questions? The world of business can be so serious and with the way our society is becoming, we decided to throw a wrench into your average questions.DISCLAIMER: These questions don’t work for every company. It all depends on your company culture and how your customers view you. 

Get To Know Your Clients Better

- At which store would you like to max-out your credit card?- If you could have one super power, what would it be?- If you could be one character in any movie, Tv show, cartoon, who would you be?- What movie title describes your life?- What is your favorite TV show?- What is your favorite video game?- If you could choose one Pokemon that relates to your personality, who would it be?- Do you have any nerdy addictions?- Have you ever refitted an item, and if so, what did you regift?- What’s the strangest talent you have?- Do you have any nicknames?- Which way does your toilet paper hang on the wall – over or under?- What is that one song on you’re afraid to admit that you like?- What are three things still left on your bucket list?- If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
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Leading Ladies In Tech: Caitlin Clark Zigmond

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Caitlyn Clark Zigmond
 Caitlin Clark Zigmond is the Vice President of Product Management at CoreDial. She shares her experience of over 30 years where she has worked with numerous companies under several different capacities. She started out in Hi-Tech as the Director of operations working for a company that built precision hot stages in science and industry, which involved working with one of the first windows based research pieces of equipment. From there, Caitlin decided that she wanted to become an entrepreneur and started her own catering business. Growing up, she cooked at home as both her parents were working, and that influenced her first business. She bought a company with just four employees and grew it to the third largest company in Boulder, Colorado. Caitlin gave up the business to start a family with her partner. Over the next few years, she went from being the first Product Manager for New Global Telecom (NGT), to Product Lead for Hosted PBX, then Advanced Voice at Comcast who acquired Hosted PBX, and finally to CoreDial.
Caitlin spoke about the hurdles she had to face in the workplace and managing a work/life balance. Ruth Bader of the Supreme Court is her female role model because of how she has consistently broken down barriers throughout her career while maintaining a true level of professionalism. Though she’s faced immense challenges and a heavy degree of sexism for her role in a previously all-male space, she has a fierce dedication to equality. Caitlin said it reminds her to connect to all those around her, whether it’s family or a more professional setting. As Caitlin says, “Be open to new things and stay strong on your life’s journey.”Caitlin Clark ZigmondCaitlin Clark ZigmondCaitlin Clark Zigmond
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