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Seth Berger Leads Sixers Innovation Lab In Camden

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Seth Berger

Entrepreneurs are flooding into Camden, including Seth Berger, University of Pennsylvania and Wharton School of Business alumni, best known as the Founder and former CEO of AND1. Seth Berger is managing the Sixers Innovation Lab Crafted by Kimball, which is housed in the Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex Business Operations Facility. Seth Berger has years of experience as an entrepreneur includes acting as a consultant and CEO in the gaming, technology and sports industry over the past decade. With a life long career in sports, Seth Berger provides opportunities for companies to grow using resources that are invaluable to business.

The Sixers Innovation Lab supports startups by providing individualized, industry-leading consulting and investment opportunities. Companies that are selected by Seth Berger and the Innovation Lab team will receive office space at the Innovation Lab, access to industry leaders, third-party branding, marketing and legal services, as well as free meals and housing in the Philadelphia area. There will also be unique opportunities to pitch to industry-leading investors and venture capitalists. Seth Berger is overseeing each startup that enters the facility along with advisors from StubHub, DraftKings, Rothman Institute, First Round Capital, Maven Creative and more.

With a unique set of skills and lifelong achievements in the sports industry, Seth Berger is passing on his knowledge on growing your company into something incredible. Seth Berger tells us about what it takes to be an entrepreneur today, making a lasting impression in business, and how you can be a part of the Sixers Innovation Lab.

Seth Berger

Describe your career.

I started a business in grad school at 25, which is now known as AND 1. It started as a T-shirt company in NYC, where I am from. Then, in seven years it grew to a basketball apparel, sports illustrated company. I ran two companies at that time. In the middle of AND1, I also ran hoopstv.com and made all of the mistakes I could. Made a couple of deals with retailers, but ultimately sold AND 1 in 2005 to American Sporting Goods. My kids at that time were six, three, and one years old. The goal then was to just be super dad, take them to school, and to see them everyday. I had part time jobs, I didn’t want a full position. I managed a few companies along the way but, my career basically had three parts: running AND 1, coaching basketball at Westtown School, an independent international school, and consulting and advising at Innovation Lab. Working at Innovation Lab combined all of my skills as a coach, consultant, and CEO. As a coach, it helped me become a better consultant and CEO to help identify and recruit really talented CEOs.

As an entrepreneur, what are some surprises that come your way?

Whether I was running AND1 or the Innovation Lab, there were always surprises. I’ve never run anything before, so doing AND 1 and the Lab were the biggest surprises. I was never really good in school, I was only a good test taker. Memorization is the only skill I had and my biggest strength is admitting that I don’t know and I need help. That’s how I got so far. If you’re always curious, you’ll always grow.

From ‘93-’05, old businesses had to make a lot of guesses when it came to prices and consumers. Nowadays, with technology, you can test everything. You can have consumers telling you a price, likings, and etc.

I’m also really surprised with how fast things move now. Businesses would take three-five years to grow, now it can be successful in three-six months.

What are some of the risks you took to get to where you are?

When I decided to start AND 1, I was maxed out of student loans and lived off of five Visas. If AND 1 didn’t work out, the alternative was to take on a job that I didn’t like and find incredibly boring, nothing I looked forward to. I took a risk as in if it didn’t work, I was going to be really broke, but the thing was, I was broke anyway so I didn’t really care. The actual risk or the biggest risk for anyone is time. Time is your most valuable resource. My risk here at the innovation lab is can I help manage five to six companies at the same. I have the mentality of, ‘I think it’ll work.’ But if I spend three to five years here and it doesn’t work, it’ll be a really big waste of time. As an entrepreneur though, you’re comfortable with mistakes.

How do you make a lasting impression when you get into a new business?

By offering significant day to day support to our companies. If all of what you want is a check and a network, then there are lots of places to get that. In the Bay Area especially, there are tons of them but that’s not us. If you want help to figure out your business, what you do on a day to day basis or annual basis, then that’s what we provide.

What recommendations do you have to aspiring business owners?

Know your consumer really well and focus on them, one of the biggest mistakes in entrepreneurship is people who say, ‘I don’t want to focus on consumers in our market because then my business won’t be really big.’ I say to them, ‘Build a small business before you have a big business, it shows you already have a business, then continue to build and expand.’  With all of our companies, we end the day with these questions: Who’s going to watch our videos? Who’s going to use our service, buy our products and be as specific as possible with those answers? 

Entrepreneurs who are thinking about starting versus entrepreneurs who have already started. Those who haven’t started aren’t afraid of failing because everyone fails eventually. It’s actually because they don’t know how to take charge. When you are your own CEO, it’s like getting a blank piece of paper for an essay but with no question. Everything is already set, what time you go into the office, the dress code, etc. with your business, no one is there to tell you. Don’t be afraid to get help.

What are some benefits the 76ers Innovation lab offer that can’t be found anywhere else?

I think Rhyan Truett, Innovation Lab Director of Operations, and I make a great team, along with Philadelphia 76ers CEO Scott O’Neil, and other people on our team can be really insightful for your business. We also offer free housing, free food, and free office space for about three months. In which there’s also access to free snacks and the gym. Also, we have a marketing agreement with strategy branding for companies, possible free legal services, and lastly, you can play basketball here.

How does startup apply for the opportunity to pitch?

Interested applicants can submit an application form through www.sixersinnovationlab.com.

What industries have you seen so far?

Everything, from cyber security, foot apparel, you name it. Our owner has a really broad network. If we can add value to your company then be let’s be a part, but if we can’t help you then it doesn’t make sense to apply.

Tips for entrepreneurs who are interested in being at Lab?

Always be willing to learn, companies who are in here are different from when they first came in. Be interested in improving. Companies who just need a check are not for us. There are three things we look for: first is what you take in, how smart, how focused, and how intense you are. Your team is a major aspect. For me, a team is the most important. I have members who studied in Wharton and are way smarter. Second, is the idea. Something you can protect and is unique. Lastly, how can we help you? If the company already had parts one and two, then how can we support you.

What is the piece of advice that helped you throughout your career?

In the fall of ‘93, when we were selling team shorts. I met Michael who owned a record company. He started his business by doing 45s. Back in the day, they used to do single records of songs of TV show songs like The Flinstones, The Munsters and all of the sudden his business blew up. He asked me, ‘Why do you want to be in business? Why do you wanna make a difference in kids’ lives?’ I said, ‘I think this business can reach kids and I can make a little money on the way, I also get to spend time with friends.’ He assured me then that you’re in business to make money, you’re not in it for your ego, you’re not in business to make friends, and you’re not in business to change who you are. And he was right. For awhile we thought we served kids as opposed to our consumers. When I got with our accounts, I asked, am I going to make enough and do I need more? If I bring in people who are around me and they get a piece of what I have or more, it’s okay. If you’re giving them pieces of yours, then they’ll eventually give more back to you. If you’re not giving your team a piece and think you have to be more in control, then it won’t work out. Like I said before, teamwork is the most important aspect of a business. Be willing to give.

Jie writes about influencers and startups in various industries. She is a designer turned techie, and when she is not writing, you can find her in her workshop working on her next big project.

Business

What To Do When You Lose Creativity

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Advice to regain creativity

The longer you are tasked to creating things, the more likely you will lose your creative edge. It doesn’t matter if you’re making websites, writing a new book, or making a new recipe. There might come a day when you feel too lethargic to get out of bed or dread going to work. These are some of the most basic and easy-to-shrug symptoms of losing the creative streak. The good news is that there are ways to snap out of it. You can regain your creativity and prevent yourself from “drying out” by practicing a few simple tasks.

Explore

When we were kids, it’s always fun to experience new things for the first time. As we get older, our sense of wonder gets jaded, probably because we had to grow up and face reality. But rediscovering how great the world is can help awaken our creative streak. To prevent yourself from losing it or to find it if it’s already lost, explore and experience new things again. You can set aside one day a month to try something new, be it an experience, new dish, or venturing out to a new place. Adventure can reawaken creative juices and your sense of wonder.

Laugh

One of the reasons why we lose our creativity is pressure. It can be quite stressful if you’re always looking for new ways to make your design look fresh. Sometimes it is even unavoidable that your paintings, essays or web designs all look the same way. Stress can kill creativity, so what better way to de-stress than to laugh? You can watch a comedy movie, catch a live comedy act, or just clown around with your friends. When your brain is filled with oxytocin and dopamine, which we get from laughter, you will be more relaxed and find it easier to find inspiration for creativity.

Think Like A Kid

If you’re asked to be creative, ask yourself what your six year-old would do in situations like these. Kids can be very creative and surprisingly straightforward. It might feel weird at first, but you never know, so you might as well give it a try and see if it works.

Rediscover Creative Pursuits

When was the last time you painted something, read a good book, sang, danced like nobody’s watching, or even modeled clay? All these creative outlets sometimes get lost because of busy lives. However, you can rediscover them again if you set aside time at least once a week to be creative outside your work.

Meditate

Mediation is a good way to relax both the right side (creative) and left side (logical) part of the brain. When they are both relaxed, they work harmoniously so you don’t run out of creative ideas. Some people think that they don’t have much time to mediate, but it can be surprising what 5 to 10 minutes of meditation can do for your brain. Meditation does not have to be complicated. You can start by thinking happy thought for 10 minutes each day for relaxation, and you will be surprised how easy it will become to carry on creative tasks.

When it comes to being creative, pay attention to yourself. Find out what works and what doesn’t. This can tell you when you are most inspired, which in turn can really help you to continue being creative.

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Business

How To Find Your Dream Job

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Job Dream

Do you remember being in your teens and people asking you what you wanted to be when you grew up? Most people do not normally have an answer to this question, which is quite understandable since most of us don’t have a career path figured out at this stage in our lives. The good news is that you don’t have to decide on your career after high school or in college. According to Forbes, most of us will have 15 to 20 jobs in our lifetime and could end up changing jobs every 4.4 years.

With all the career options available, how do you find your dream job?

Strength

One ways to find your dream job is to play to your strengths. If you’re good at writing for example, you can be a teacher, journalist, copywriter or author. If you’re the outdoorsy type, you can be a trail guide, camping guide or survival expert. Your love of math and solving problems can make you a good coder. Your strengths are a good indication that you should be doing something with them. It is also easier to be happier of you have a career that suits your strengths.

Take Classes

Taking classes and trying something new can help you discover your passion and lead you to your dream job. You can attend workshops, scour YouTube tutorials, or read books to find out where your passion lies. Exploring and finding out what you like can lead you to career paths you’ve never thought of before.

Work Environment

Another way to find your dream job is to consider what kind of working environment you thrive in. For example, for people who like being flexible and independent, working online might be a good option. For those who prefer a more traditional form of work environment, there are plenty of office jobs and career options. The same is true for people who like being outdoors or close to nature. Working in an environment you like can lead to better job satisfaction and help you fulfill the lifestyle you want to lead.

What Makes You Happy

Doing what makes you happy can lead you to your dream job. There are many things we like to do for “fun” that actually makes us happy. For instance, some people have fun working with children, which can lead to a career in teaching or child psychology. People who have fun while working with crafts can become crafting gurus with businesses. Doing what makes you happy is a good way to make money while having fun at the same time.

Informal Interviewing

Set informal meetings, like meeting over a cup of coffee, with prospective employers and people in the industry to discuss job expectations and see if they are potential fit for you. This process can help you find your dream job by eliminating jobs or industries that are not suitable for you. With the information you get from your informal interview you can make the decision process easier while networking possible contacts in the industry.

Finding the dream job is a challenge that everybody faces. There are many people working today who are not happy with their jobs but do it anyway to put food on the table. Finding your dream job will help you do the same, but at least you are happy working in an industry you love and are passionate about.

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5 Tips To Get Over Stage Fright

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fright stage

Do you experience speechlessness, nausea or vertigo when you’re about to speak publicly? The name of this condition is stage fright. Strangely enough, stage fright does not always involve a fright, in some instances, these feelings can be induced by any form of public speaking. For most people public speaking causes anxiety. If you experience anything more than mild symptoms, you need to deal with it instead of avoiding public speaking engagements. Here are some ways you can deal with stage fright.

Relax

Finding ways to relax can help fend off anxiety. Meditate, listen to music, eat your favorite food, take a walk or do anything that is relaxing will take your mind off what you’re about to do and help you enter a Zen state of mind. In other words, keep your mind entertained so it won’t dwell on your upcoming task.

Practice Makes Perfect

This saying is particularly true if you suffer from stage fright. One of the best ways to get over public speaking is to practice constantly. Once your speech is perfect, practice speaking in small audiences. For example, start with your family or a group of friends. You can gradually increase the number of people you’re practicing on as the big day arrives. Constant practice can help increase your self confidence and give you time to correct any flaws in your speech or presentation.

Eat and Live Healthy

Eat lots of fruits, practice yoga or meditation, take up a hobby or exercise and play sports. Living a healthy lifestyle will help improve your self esteem. When you do activities like exercise or yoga, you are surrounded with other people and are encouraged to socialize. Eating a healthy diet will help you keep in shape which boosts self confidence. Before a public speaking engagement, avoid caffeine and sweets which can up anxiety levels.

Accept Your Fears

One of the first steps to overcoming stage fright is to admit that you have stage fright. Once you have accepted it, you can begin to find ways to control this fear. This will help you find ways to deal with your problem instead of hiding from it. Confronting and accepting your fears will help you become confident, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

It’s Not About You

PowerPoint presentation coaches say that the presentation is not about you or the slides, so focus on the task at hand. Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander got over stage fright by making a story of the important things instead of thinking about his problems. He realized that he and his fellow actors were on stage to tell a story. They are there for the show and experience. Thinking about this helped him get over stage fright and perform better.

Finding ways to avoid performing or public speaking will only aggravate the situation. It is always better to confront stage fright than hide from it. If actors can get over stage fright, so can you.

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