The Resilience Institute Going Strong by Building Resilience Among Workforce

Before getting to know more about The Resilience Project in the words of its CEO, Sven Hansen, let’s discuss a little about what The Resilience Institute does.

With over 20 years of experience, The Resilience Institute aims to deliver practical, highly effective integrated Resilience training that will lead to a healthy workforce and stronger minds. The process combines neuroscience, positive psychology, emotional intelligence, and preventative medicine. The project boasts of having achieved a 0.55 increase in Resilience Ratio of the participants who had received their training. Recently, the Global Resilience Report 2018 was published which elaborately compares resilience strength of different regions.

Dr. Sven Hansen expresses, “Humans are an integral mix of physical, emotional and cognitive attributes. Our recommendation is to aim for integrated solutions that address human growth and risk using a common language and model.”.

I had a chance to have a conversation with him and here are some of the interesting discussions about resilience in general and his institute.

  • The meaning of “resilience” goes beyond the capability of enduring tough times. What does “resilience” denote for you?

Dr. Hansen: It’s a learned ability to bounce, grow, connect and flow. Bounce is for the hard times both sudden and protracted. Grow is the physical, emotional and mental fitness for life. Connect builds understanding, trust, and care towards others. Flow brings our talents and skills to meaningful challenges. They are interconnected. To succeed in the 21st Century they are essential.

  • So, how did the concept of The Resilience Institute come to life?

Dr. Hansen: I grew up in a medical family focused on prevention but it was my early experience as a young sports medicine doctor. During that time, it came obvious to me that one could prevent injuries, increase speed, enhance skill, train the mind and work in the team better. Around 1991, I asked this question to myself that if athletes can learn these advanced skills, would it improve business results as well? What if organizations could be a vehicle to get these ideas to more people? This was a tough sell initially but now leading organizations have embraced the concept. It is a very exciting and fulfilling field to be in.

  • “Resilience is learned over time.” Can you elaborate on this statement?

Dr. Hansen: Resilience is not a genetic gift or a trait. We can all learn resilience and if we keep refining the practice, we continue to get better.  For example, if you stretch out your muscles with good technique every day you can be a very flexible person as you grow old. This will protect your joints, enhance your movement and maintain good posture. You will look, feel and be better. At first, it is difficult to learn and to motivate, then you develop a practice and finally, it becomes a habit. Exactly the same is true for muscle strength, impulse control, empathy, attention, etc.

  • According to your Global Resilience Report 2018, Netherlands ranks 1st in resilience factor. But, the report also says that the Dutch are the most self-critical, a liable factor. The rank and the report kind of contradict each other. So, what is actually the reason behind the ranking of Netherlands?

Dr. Hansen: Good question and something we need to learn more about. While they are self-critical and exercise less, they are focused and worry-less. We know that high focus and low worry define the most resilient decile. First, our experience shows that there are many different pathways to resilience. There may be a cultural preference for physical versus emotional or cognitive expression. There may also be influencing factors that we don’t measure. Second, we have a lot to learn about how the different factors combine into the experience of resilience. What we are saying is that there are high impact factors (see p 20 – 23)

  • How does resilience intervention actually work? Do you follow any specific model?

Dr. Hansen: We do follow a model that is customized to the client. In general, we pursue reinforcing cycles of measure, learn and achieve. Almost every intervention starts with the Diagnostic to measure both individual and group resilience. Taking time to pause and reflect honestly is critical in our rushed lives. The report helps individuals target their attention and efforts and the customize the group training. Participants learn from the diagnostic, face-to-face workshops, digital training, and tracking, practice tips, team initiatives, and books. We repeat the diagnostic to assess change and refocus the next period of training. Remember that we continue to measure improvements in the brain even after 50,000 hours of meditation (Davidson, Goleman, Science of Meditation, 2017)

It is worth noting that until recently, most clients simply wanted a workshop to “fix resilience”. We now recognize that it takes time, practice and repetition. We have learned from sports. Expertise, safe and effective practice and skilled facilitation of the process are necessary.

  • In your opinion, which asset(s) contributes to the resilience factor most?

Dr. Hansen: Well, in terms of correlation with resilience ratio and the practices of the most resilient people, we see focus, presence, fulfillment, and optimism at the top of both lists. We can imagine someone being fully focused and present with good posture and an upbeat, hopeful stance as the goal. Health awareness, fitness, sleep, relaxation, and nutrition tend to be the first level gains people make in the first phase of an intervention.

  • Do resilience and success go hand-in-hand? Please elaborate…

Dr. Hansen: Being honest, it depends on how we define success. In the case of high performers in sport, combat or performing arts it is clearly an enabler. If we define success as wealth or power, not necessarily, many are anxious, hostile, narcissistic, manic and sick.

Most successful leaders are planning resilience into their lives. When they don’t, as in the Elon Musk tweets of late, they are scrutinized by the media and the company suffers.

What we do believe is that the skills required to succeed in our modern lives – sedentary, plugged into a screen, overwhelmed by data and pace – did not come with our hunter-gatherer experience. Humans have to learn these skills if they are going to keep up and be successful. This is clearly evident in family life, education, healthcare, getting employed, upskilling, and finding meaning in a very confusing time.

The resilience institute

  • Can you describe the Resilience App a little? How can we benefit from it?

Dr. Hansen: The App is a digital support tool that integrates the measure, learn and achieve cycle. In one secure system, you can assess yourself, define your needs, set goals, learn and celebrate success. We are huge fans of people getting together to learn, debate and practice. The App is a convenient complement that allows you to stay engaged quickly and efficiently.

With a significant amount of learning through short videos, practice tips, and selected references, one can really own and share your resilience journey. It is based on short bursts of information and easy access to further study with built-in content tests to assess your learning.

  • What has been the most successful “resilience intervention” story for you so far?

Dr. Hansen:  We are blessed to be able to help hundreds of organizations but I think one that was very meaningful was helping a bank through the Christchurch earthquakes. The bank committed to providing support to their people and employees families. The city was flattened and many people lost homes, offices and loved places. The earth shook several times a day triggering debilitating uncertainty and anxiety.

We ran a number of workshops helping people understand how to negotiate this threatening time. We worked through the details of how to bounce forward, how to stay calm in a shake, how to re-establish sleep patterns, how to recreate daily disciplines and how to master destructive emotions and thoughts. Leaders were supportive. It was great to see a long-term client apply resilience in such a helpful way.

  • Lastly, what would your advice be for a young millennial to become more resilient?

Dr. Hansen: This is a question in the minds of many caring people. Many reports echo the themes of increasing suffering from attention disorders, social withdrawal, self-harming, anxiety, hostility, and depression. At the same time, many millennials are thriving. Our data shows that millennials score lower in focus, purpose, emotional agility, flow, and decisiveness. They are also more prone to sleep disorders, boredom, disengaged, self-critical, and worry. All of these can be improved with awareness and simple skills.

My recommended action list for millennials:

  1. Extricate your life from your phone – it is not your friend
  2. Train your mind to focus – meditate and make conscious decisions
  3. Relax about the world’s drama and be kind to others
  4. Build emotional intelligence
  5. Find your flow by seeking challenge and refining your skills
  6. Sleep discipline – enough, right timing, right quality
  7. Be present and be kind to yourself

 








For Businesses and Everyone else – Countering Cyber-bullying and Internet Trolls

As we all are well aware, the practice of bullying has been going on for decades. Before the onset of the internet, bullying was limited within the walls of various educational institutions where a group of students took pleasure by harassing and intimidating others. Nowadays, with the advancement of technology, this heinous practice has been upgraded as well in the form of Cyberbullying and internet trolls and can be considered one of the greatest scourges of the modern world both for businesses and individuals.

One of the main problems with Cyberbullying is that it not only affects the business but is capable of upsetting a large percentage of individuals as well. This practice along with unavoidable internet trolling can effectively malign the reputation of a certain individual, entrepreneurs, and small business organizations that are yet to make their marks in the market with their services or products.

Very recently, some very reputed Brazilian magazines like Época have been extremely vocal about internet trolls. This practice is posing a serious problem in these parts of the world as well. Here, a few aspects of Cyberbullying and the role of online reputation management programs against such practice would be discussed.

So, what are the reasons?

Among the many reasons behind this abominable practice, the following are the most significant ones:

A lot about Power: People who feel powerless in their own reality sometimes tend to use the internet as a tool to exert their power over others. Making acerbic comments anonymously about a certain person or trolling them on various social networking sites provide them with an unbridled sense of power. Sometimes people who are bullied in real life take this virtual world as a means of revenge as well.

Social Status and Popularity: Posting hateful rumors is one of the most common methods of internet trolling and Cyberbullying. It has been observed in many cases that people behind these practices are often attention seekers. Posting such comments and spreading slanderous rumors are capable of grabbing an unbelievable amount of attention. As most people nowadays spend their time on the internet, these trolls can be an effective way to become popular and to gain social status.

It is often for entertainment and sadistic pleasure: There are several instances where people get involved in internet trolling simply for the sake of entertainment and personal pleasure. This group of people feels sadistic pleasure by bothering and harassing others and do not possess the sensitivity to figure out the consequences of their activities on others. These bullies can become even more invigorated if the victim responds in an aggressive manner.

Besides these reasons, Cyberbullying can also be a form of vigilantism where a certain individual makes the internet the tool to intimidate or punish a traditional bully or delinquent. However, this type of Cyberbullying is extremely rare.

This is where Online Reputation Management comes to use.

By the definition, Online reputation management refers to the process of controlling the internet materials that show up on your internet. The process involves eliminating any kind of damaging or slanderous contents that can potentially damage the website. Ethical hacker Fernando Azevedo explained the intricacies of online reputation management in his book Online Reputation Management Secrets. Fernando Azevedo also formed his brainchild ORM Company Silicon Minds, to help businesses keep the cyber-bullies away from denigrating your business.

Cover picture of Fernando Azevedo book
           Cover picture of Fernando Azevedo book

Why is Online Reputation Management the need of time?

  1. Gaining Trust: Choosing an online reputation management company can be an incredible way to acquire the trust of your potential customers. As most people nowadays rely on online reviews from various websites, selecting a reputed ORM company would help you put up good words about your company in various review websites by excluding slanderous remarks. With a decent amount of reputation, selling your products online would be much easier irrespective of the size of your business or brand recognition.
  1. Increasing Profitability: Better online reputation always attracts more potential customers or other business organizations to your company. When customers search for a service or product that you provide, they would come across many other companies who are the potential competitors of your company. With a reputed online reputation management company, your organization would mostly have positive reviews on various websites and would also rank higher than your competitors. Therefore, it is quite evident that ORM can be a great way to make your business more lucrative.

  2. Conflict Resolution: Managing your company’s online reputation can be a great way to provide a constructive response to baseless criticisms and negative reviews. Decent ORM companies would provide you with certain platforms that would notify you whenever a review is posted about your company presenting you the perfect opportunity for conflict resolution and maintaining the reputation of your company.







How Technology Can Fuel the Western Health Boom

As of January 2018, there are almost 7.6 billion digital users worldwide. Roughly 4 billion of those are internet users. That means that over half the world is now online, with a quarter of those users joining in 2017 alone. Social media usage is at nearly 3.2 billion. Facebook is still the most popular platform at 2.17 billion users, with YouTube the second runner-up at 1.5 billion. For better or worse, technology is here to stay, and companies that want to stay in business will have to stay abreast of constantly evolving trends. This includes trends in technology as well as social trends like the health-and-wellness industry, which has become less of a trend than a lifestyle, thanks to younger generations’ interest in organic food and natural products.

While the natural health boom is a major aspect of modern American culture, it’s important to note that many of the products and techniques associated with it come from other countries, like India, where the mind-and-body wellness philosophy known as Ayurveda has been practiced for centuries. In fact, according to Naturevibe Botanicals’ CEO, Rishabh Chokhani, India could become the largest provider of natural health products in the US due to the countries’ focus on the industry and India’s growing emphasis on the following technological issues. Thus, when it comes to marketing eastern health-and-wellness in the west, here are three factors to consider:

The Convenience of E-Commerce

Almost 1.8 billion people, or 23% of the global population, make purchases digitally. Many of these people are millennials. Millennials love online shopping. They also represent the largest generation of consumers in the US. While India trails the rest of the world in terms of online shopping at only 26% of the population, the country’s digital imprint is expected to increase. This is due to several factors, including an increasingly free-market economy; the demonetization of cash currency that began in November 2016, which is designed to increase the country’s digital imprint; and the growing emphasis on entrepreneurship, startups, and technology.

The Popularity of Smartphones

With millions of people queuing up to buy an iPhone every year, calling smartphones “popular” is something of an understatement. Over two-thirds of the world’s population has a mobile device and most of those devices are smartphones. Combined, mobile usage accounts for 52% of web traffic, versus 43% for desktops and laptops. In India, smartphone usage is a whopping four times greater than desktop usage. For Facebook, this means that 91.5% of its active users access the site via smartphone, while only 31.8% do so from a desktop or laptop. According to another survey, 63% of millennials are also using their smartphones to make purchases online, while the 53% that prefer to shop in-store often use their mobile device to search for coupons, snap and post pics of potential purchases, and browse the internet while they’re waiting in line. Current statistics indicate that increased mobile usage will continue to fuel online interactions and sales among the next generation of digital users.

The Importance of Social Media

Social media isn’t going anywhere either. According to Rival IQ, 30% of online shoppers are willing to use platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to make purchases digitally. Businesses with a strong social media presence are much more likely to attract a millennial shopper, especially if they have a fast response time for questions or complaints, as well as a professional demeanor. Social media also plays an important role in the time before and after a purchase, with shoppers liking, commenting, and sharing items with their friends and followers online. According to HubSpot, video marketing is also on the rise, with consumers being four times more likely to watch a product video than to read a product description. The same study indicates that 45% of people watch an hour’s worth of Facebook or YouTube videos per week.

Thus, if India’s economy continues to grow in relation to its population, the nation is projected to have the third largest consumer market in 2030, ahead of Japan and Germany. That means that more people will be investing in technology and using it to make purchases digitally. It also means that it’ll be easier to buy, sell, market, and share cross-cultural commodities – such as natural botanicals, essential oils, and other holistic supplements – with the global community.








Reasons Why CFD Trading Could Be the Future for New Entrepreneurs

Foreign exchange (Forex) and Contract for Difference, popularly known as CFD trading has become immensely popular among both novice and experienced traders over the past few years. Apart from the gigantic trading volume that CFD trading offers to the investors, there are other reasons behind the briskly increasing popularity of this trading process. With the introduction of new and innovative technological applications like trading bots, automated trading platform, and many others, CFD trading has become even more accessible and lucrative for the aspiring entrepreneurs across the globe. In this article, a few aspects of CFD trading would be discussed along with the reasons why the new technological implementations could design an infallible business paradigm for new entrepreneurs.

CFD Trading at a Glance:

To adumbrate the idea of CFD trading, it can be referred to as an effective financial instrument that allows the traders to invest in a particular asset without actually owning it. It means, when you involve yourself in a CFD contract, you would be offered the leeway to speculate over the price changes of a particular asset, despite owning it. In a CFD contract, the seller has to pay the difference in price between the current value of the asset and its value during the time of the contract. In case the balance becomes negative, the buyer has to pay the seller the difference. You can secure a significant amount of profit in this trading as you would be able to take advantage of both moving up and down of an asset’s price during the trading period.

As an entrepreneur, trading CFD can also be a lucrative option because of the following advantages:

  • Having full control over the leverage and the trading process.
  • CFD trading websites are free from the influence of middlemen which allows the traders to pay much affordable brokerage price.
  • CFD trading is the only financial instrument that allows you to make the profit from a negative market.
  • CFD can also be used as an effective hedging or risk mitigating strategy

Startups are making their way:

A start-up company refers to a newly emerged business or entrepreneurial venture that aims to fulfill a marketplace paradigm by designing a viable paradigm. With new traders and investors making their way in the CFD market, every day more start-ups are transforming into legitimate business organizations. These start-ups endeavor fulfill a vast range of business requirements in various fields starting from different branches of science and technology like aeronautics, information technology, combustion science and engineering, etc. to fields like analytics and marketing.

The Implementation of FinTech in CFD:

FinTech or Financial Technology is an ingenious technology that tries to ameliorate various financial activities with the help of technology. The FinTech industry launched a new software program named FinTech Ltd. for Forex and CFD traders across the globe. The software is an automated robot that offers round the clock customer service to the traders long with other beneficial features. The software also works with properly licensed online brokerage platforms. With the implementation of FinTech technology in CFD trading, finding out lucrative opportunities and difference in price would have become much easier and accurate. Also, FinTech Ltd. offers efficient tools to the new entrepreneurs.

FinTech Start-ups and Their Growth:

FinTech consists of several start-up companies around the world that are growing rapidly because of the technological support. Some of the most well-known FinTech companies include Due.com, SoFi, Planwise, Plaid, Giftly, FinCon, and many more. So, if CFD collaborates with FinTech, the new CFD start-ups are likely to experience a similar growth to turn out as major trading companies in future.

Some Unexplored Areas:

With the advancement of technology, new entrepreneurs and traders are exploring new domains for starting a lucrative business. Cryptocurrency will certainly belong to the group of such unexplored assets. You can implement the financial instrument of CFD in speculating prices of various cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, and many more. Sensing the huge number of opportunities in this market, FinTech is also collaborating with various cryptocurrencies to strengthen their ecosystem. So, as a burgeoning entrepreneur, you can always turn to cryptocurrency while getting yourself involved in CFD trading.

Conclusion: 

CFD trading has already become very popular for its benefits and low cost and with the introduction of FinTech and new trading opportunities like cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, it can become one of the most preferable trading options as well. Therefore, if you are counting on becoming a successful entrepreneur in future, now is the time to choose CFD.

 








How Early Stage Startups Can Make the Most of Limited Web Traffic

Startups have big dreams and they set a fast pace to reach them. Once you start to gain momentum and are growing fast, it can be easy to focus so much on scaling up that you don’t notice the smaller wins happening along the way, like converting each and every new user.

But when you’re at an earlier stage, every small win is something that you worked for, whether that’s a new enterprise customer or a single website visitor. You’re still somewhat scrambling, and can feel the work that goes into acquiring each new lead and audience member.

How will you make the most of them?

Website traffic is a stream of potential customers walking into your business, not just numbers in your analytics dashboard. And just like in a physical store, your job isn’t over once you’ve gotten them in the door. You still need to get them to buy.

When you’re starting out, traffic’s likely lower. While many would be quick to pinpoint that as a problem to be solved, it can also be an opportunity to pay closer attention to the visitors you do have.

You can further engage them, learn from them, and more to make up for the fact that you haven’t had a million hits.

In addition to increasing traffic, you should also be looking to increase the value of your existing traffic, whether that’s through increasing conversions or collecting insights.

Follow up with visitors

The important thing is to remember that someone landing on your site is only at the start of their journey. Don’t neglect the path to conversion in your focus on growing traffic. Especially when it’s low, you should always be looking for how to make it easier for visitors to move to the next step in your marketing funnel.

For example, is there a plan in place to capture users who don’t convert on their first visit? If someone leaves without signing up, go find them again.

Run retargeting campaigns to follow and reach people wherever else they spend time on the internet and recapture them. This gives you more time and opportunities to move them through the conversion funnel outside of your own website.

Say your blog section gets traffic that doesn’t convert well on-site. You can use it to pixel your audience and run ads back to them. Showing them an additional content offer or free trial can bring them back to your site and to the next step in your buyer’s journey.

Collect audience insights

You can also learn more about your limited visitors with audience intelligence. Having a smaller audience with fewer segments and pockets of customers, you have the opportunity to dive deeper into each one of the people engaging with your owned media presence.

Tracking software like Leadfeeder can repackage your Google Analytics data as dashboards of leads and integrated CRM entries to give you sales insights on your website visitors. You can segment your custom feeds per UTM parameter, which is especially useful when testing numerous paid media channels.

Not that you should drop your email automation program. It’s just that in the age of conversational selling, no one wants to opt into email drips just to flip through a pdf anymore. It takes a more sophisticated mix of CRM-based lead scoring systems, cross-channel paid targeting, triggered onsite personalized messaging, content upgrades, social bots and more. All along the winding journey, the CRM collects signals at every touchpoint.

This level of visibility lets you continuously learn about the predictive lifetime value of your audience, at a stage in your business when you need to squeeze as much value as you can from limited data signals.

Optimize what you have

Gaining more insights about users lets you hone your personas and audience targeting for marketing campaigns and advertising. Plus such granular insights allow you experiment with more assertive social selling initiatives.

You also have the opportunity to engage visitors in real-time conversations when they land on your site, instead of waiting for them to find and take the next step on their own. Onsite messaging platforms like Drift let you create a more personal experience where you can start building a relationship with someone from their very first visit.

This makes your website a much more effective conversion tool. For example, LeadPages targeted pages visited by their highest value leads with real-time messaging to increase their conversion rate by 36% without a change in traffic.

Finally, so many startups are overeager to A/B test before their traffic is ready for it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t further optimize your website at all while it’s still growing. Other methods like Hotjar heatmap analytics help you see how users are interacting with your site to the tune of results like 30% more conversions.

That allows you to see how different users use your site and where they get stuck in the conversion process so you can make it as easy as possible.

Remember what matters

With measures like these, you aren’t just attracting website visitors, you’re also working to convert and activate them just as well.

When this entire buyer’s journey is laid out clearly on your website, smaller traffic numbers won’t need to have a detrimental effect on your startup’s growth.








The need of Blockchain Technology in Digital Advertising

The internet, as the consumers see and understand, is a database of content, data, information that are consumed proactively as well as passively. Advertising, being one of the fundamental elements of today’s world of internet has become an integral part of everyone’s daily life. However, the digital advertising industry did not grow without problems, just like any other industry. When more and more advertising-spend is taken by unauthorized intermediaries or monetized on fraudulent advertising traffic, consumers are harmed in a way that fewer quality contents are produced and available to them as publishers earn less. It is, therefore, a collective effort in the whole advertising industry to put the current threats of transparency and fraud to an end to restore the greenness of the digital advertising industry.

Despite we see more M&As happened in the digital space in the past few years, publishers are facing a financial sustainability challenge today, risking to lose their business. The current set up of the digital advertising space is giving a financial risk to publishers in a way that the publishers normally receive their revenue payment only after a few months time. With the growing number of the intermediaries, the payment speed challenge just got worse.

According to a recent study, the wider adoption of digital programmatic advertising technology in the past few years has increased the scale of fraudulent activities. The study revealed that 79% of the participating advertisers mentioned the growing level of non-transparency throughout the programmatic space is causing the main concern. And a third of these advertisers had blamed the third party technology providers for lack of spend visibility.

Can Blockchain be the solution?

In my previous story, I discussed ways how blockchain can change the way we shop. Keeping the same potential in mind, blockchain technology can be one of the most feasible solutions for the ad spend transparency issue in the digital advertising as well.

“The Blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” Said, Don & Alex Tapscott, the authors of Blockchain Revolution (2016)

The decentralized blockchain technology is gaining more popularity rapidly due to its “transparency” element. All the transactions are recorded on the ledger and can be accessed by the general public. Moreover, the ledger is encrypted and tamper-free. The decentralized system integrates high Byzantine fault tolerance.

According to many business enthusiasts like Zheng Zhang, CEO of Exchain, “The emerge of blockchain technology lightens up the future of the digital advertising technology and it can drive the whole industry to an ultimate trustful and autonomous execution of media buying.”

The main application of blockchain technology in advertising is to reveal the cost elements of the current ad value chain. After implementing the decentralized platform, each of the stakeholders only receives their portion of the ad spend and will not have any chance to impose an unauthorized or hidden fee as we see today.

Ad fraud is another major concern in the digital advertising industry. The blockchain technology can also be used to deduce the certain types of ad fraud such as domain spoofing. The method will effectively reveal the spend distribution and block the ad spend from flowing to the fraudsters. Instead of relying on probabilistic detection method, blockchain enforces a deterministic means to remove such fraud.

Using the blockchain technology, digital advertisers can now verify if a concept of design has been used before. As every design can be stored in the public ledger, the marketers will be able to retrieve the verifying design.

Conclusion:

Blockchain has opened up many opportunities to tackle traditional threats in the digital space and add an extra layer of security to marketers and sensitive data, reducing the threat of cybersecurity breaches. It is very promising to adopt the blockchain technology in the digital advertising space and it will initiate a rapid revolution.








3 ways how Blockchain will change the way we shop

Cryptocurrency

Ever since the convenient eCommerce model created a teeming market of armchair shoppers, it has become harder to return to the old ways of doing business. There are fewer reasons to travel to the store, except for perishable or necessary items like food, but even the grocery segment is being ‘technified’. Thanks to a growing number of applications that allow one to have their shopping list delivered directly to the front door. The retail industry is forever on a mission to evolve, and blockchain, one of the latest advancements in technology, will likely bring about its next sea change. How? This post will discuss it briefly.

Blockchain stumbled into retail as it did virtually in every other industry except finance, for which it was designed originally, as the backbone to bitcoin. The first idea for blockchain in retail came by virtue of bitcoin’s fiat value—that one could simply buy goods and services using bitcoin. However, issues with the speed and cost of using cryptocurrency over fiat money quickly erased this idea, and startups began using blockchain to benefit retail infrastructure instead, as they have in healthcare, social media, and countless other markets. Incorporating blockchain into any industry is fraught with obstacles, both regulatory and technical, but companies that succeed will benefit merchants and shoppers alike.

Better Retail Discounts

It’s true that brick and mortar stores are feeling the heat from their online peers, but one way that they can compete is by using the internet as a portal to reach locals. With the onset of the eCommerce trend, companies like Groupon helped physical locations target potential customers in the area, and lure them into the store with a guaranteed discount. Groupon’s model is good at creating one-time customers because those who buy the coupons online are already invested, but it can’t guarantee retention.

With a scarcity of online-to-offline marketing channels, Groupon has dominated the niche despite its low-sustainability model and the difficulty that merchants have when it comes to optimizing their campaigns. However, businesses have caught on to the risk they’re taking when they offer a GroupOn, and are seeking out other options. Thankfully, blockchain is giving them something to hope for, with innovators like HotNow in Thailand illustrating how similar platforms built on a decentralized network are more equitable for everyone. The company uses the HoToKeN cryptocurrency to boost social awareness via mini-games, missions, and bounties, that customers earn tokens for completing. With it, they will eventually be able to purchase discounted goods in their favorite stores, essentially allowing them to be paid for their advocacy.

Easier Cryptocurrency payment

The oldest idea behind cryptocurrency is that is can one day become a form a digital cash. This is the ultimate ambition behind bitcoin, but as it gained more users, the congestion they caused on the network quickly showed that it’s more of a pipe dream than anything else. Slow transactions and exorbitant fees make using bitcoin infrastructure a frustrating experience, especially if volatility and network lag cause users to lose money.

Unfortunately, with governance rights in the hands of a small, insular, and divided community, cryptocurrency will not untangle its mess anytime soon. Blockchain, on the other hand, can be used in leaner, proprietary solutions that better close the gap. Companies like TenX have merged their own settlement layers built on blockchain with traditional finance tools like plastic credit cards and card readers, to give merchants and customers a familiar interface for transacting with cryptocurrency.

While it’s not a perfect solution—many purists would argue that it’s simply a band-aid fix—these companies are doing their part to introduce foreign concepts into an older industry and prepare it for the future. Nevertheless, they’re successfully making their mark on retail already, an encouraging sign for others entering the space.

Speedier Transactions

The missing link for many retail companies is the speed at which the cryptocurrencies they accept can be converted into the kind of money they prefer. Right now, anyone can accept bitcoin at their store and have people send it to their store’s wallet via their own, or an exchange, but it’s an immature process that has inherent cash flow risks. Even with cryptocurrency debit tools like TenX or Monaco, settlement and exchange in the back-end is anything but instant.

If this problem could be solved, businesses would be much more willing to accept cryptocurrency because they’d be able to control their level of exposure to volatility. Business adoption would easily deliver the critical mass necessary to make cryptocurrency a household presence, yet there is still a lot of unclaimed, valuable territory in the blockchain B2B and B2C space. Currently, companies like Request Network are some of the pioneers likeliest to succeed. Request Network lets individuals or businesses send Requests to others via the blockchain, and recipients can pay the ‘invoice’ sent to them with any fiat currency or cryptocurrency that they prefer. Smart contracts handle all the underlying exchange mechanisms autonomously and quickly, and the decentralized ledger provides proof that a transaction in the correct, proportional amount took place.

With tools like this, businesses don’t even need to use cryptocurrency to feel the benefits of the blockchain. A relatively basic need that Request Network address is a less burdensome payment solution for companies that operate across borders.

Final Word:

The retail sector was one of the first to be impacted by the dot-com revolution, and it will be among the first to take advantage of blockchain as well. With hundreds, if not thousands of companies already working on products that could change the relationship surrounding our retail experience, the future certainly looks bright.








[Interview] How Jrop.com is making towing and roadside assistance available to everyone!

I have always been an advocate of innovation, be it tech or non-tech. But there is no doubt that tech startups these days are giving much-needed fuel to keep the innovation bar high.

Recently, I had a chance to meet one team which is solving a huge problem all the drivers face on and off. No, I am not talking about honking horns, that’s incurable. I am discussing the need for on-demand roadside assistance when your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere.

We all know that vehicles and transportation industry in U.S is huge. According to Statista.com, there are more than 263 million cars and trucks running on U.S roads with an average age of 11.4 years. With this big figure, the need for roadside assistance comes into the play. After all, none of us wants to be stuck in the middle of the road with a flat tire, failed battery, dead engine or even with a locked-out car.

The startup name is Jrop.com. Jrop (pronounced Drop) is an on-demand roadside assistance platform that comes handy whenever your car breaks down at any place and you need immediate help. It sends towing service to take your car to the desired mechanic and also sends professionals for your help to fix it right away.

Here’s a copy of my discussion with Carl Redding, CEO of Jrop which will definitely give you the bigger and better picture of Jrop.com.

Hira: I love the name of your Startup, Jrop. So tell me what does it do?

Carl: Jrop (pronounced Drop) is an on-demand towing & roadside assistance platform.

Hira: How old is your startup and how many team members and co-founders are there?

Carl: We had a soft launch in March of this year only servicing the metro Detroit area. Currently, there are two co-founders and two employees. We’re a small but very effective team.

Hira: So roadside assistance has been there already or you are the first-mover?

Carl: Towing & Roadside assistance is a very fragmented industry with AAA being the largest competitor. What makes our platform unique is that it is set up to streamline the entire process. You can literally request help and have a truck dispatched in under 60 seconds. No waiting on hold while you call your insurance company. No lengthy phone calls with tons of questions. No need to locate mile markers or cross streets. You can even request help and track the driver directly from the website without downloading the app.

Hira: Most of the cars in U.S are insured, how is your service different than services offered by car insurance companies?

Carl: To name a few there is no membership required to use Jrop, we have flat rate pricing no hidden fees or charges, we have a 30 minute average response time, you can track the driver directly from the app or you can send a link to family or friends to track them as well.

Hira: Who are your “professionals”? The outside technicians or you’ve hired them as employees?

Carl: All of our service providers contract with us and are fully insured and have all the required state and federal licenses

Hira: Can anyone with the required skills sign up to Jrop.com as a vendor or partner?

Carl: We have pretty strict requirements for becoming a partner which is primarily to ensure great service to our users. More about signing up to become a driver here.

Hira: What are your expansion plans? What is the future of Jrop?

Carl: We plan to offer additional services and to continue to expand throughout the entire United States and we would love for Jrop to eventually be available in other countries.

Hira: Have you guys raised any funding so far? Any highlighted partnerships?

Carl: Besides an initial loan from family and friends, there has been no outside funding. We’ve been focused on creating a great product and are very proud of what we’ve accomplished without the need to accept any VC funding.








The future of VR Advertising and Blockchain with GazeCoin

People often give mixed vibes when they are asked about Virtual Reality; saying it is an entertainment platform that gives you a whole new experience. But, on the question of ‘What is the future of this entertainment platform?’ The answer is usually silence.

In my opinion, the future of VR has a very distant place to go. VR is going to play a major role in the field of education, medical and other fields which were unimaginable. From experiencing a huge waterfall while just sitting at our tables to enjoying on a see-saw having butterflies in our stomach to surfing in the roughest of the seas while moving in a deserted land, it is all possible through this amaze-balls technology, VR.

What is also possible in VR is the experience of report released by ‘New York times’ showing the “Fight for Falluja” documentary which was the first ever documentary shot in 360 VR staying in the war zone which really can take you to the scene of firefight and have a glimpse of life at the war affected zones. Watch the video here.

Another company called ‘Scopic’ did a documentary shoot in 360 of the plight of Syrian refugees. One can watch this in the news, read an article and probably see a picture or two but the real experience which has been shared in the documentary gives the reality of their plight which we couldn’t have imagined otherwise.

Well, there are things that VR can’t do…

VR can’t let you have the experience of travel you get when you are actually visiting the place. The people, the interaction, their food, the experience you’ll have cannot be achieved by wearing a VR headset. Come on now, we all know that one can’t do everything sitting at home. What it can really do is taking you to their world, their culture, their architecture, their rituals etc. Educating about ones’ culture and traditions can be best served by using VR technology. One has to pay much less in order to learn about the culture just by visiting the place. This is a well-served purpose. No?

Interaction of VR with blockchain technology

Someone has rightly said,

“Someday, you’ll end up having a job not by what you know but by how you use your imagination.”

Never had we thought that the power of imagination could end up with so much strength that it can change the way we view the world. VR has been there in the world since almost 20 to 30 years or way beyond it when people used panoramic pictures to show images to people. Blockchain since 2011 is pacing up in the tech world with all eyes on it. The main concept of blockchain is having a decentralized platform and peer to peer exchange policies which maintain an encrypted platform for any kind of exchange, be it monetary or data.

One such innovation is ‘Gaze Coin’ (GZE) which is taking the whole VR experience using blockchain onto a whole new level. It is trying to bring the virtual interaction with the real world by also monetizing the market. The ad-tech in this VR industry was unimaginable up until now; with the introduction of Gaze Coin, developers are trying to imagine the monetization techniques using VR. It generally depends on the user ‘gaze’ count and charges the advertiser, monetizes the content creators. It can thus curate the content and send similar contents to the users using VR platform. Gaze Coin is definitely eyeing the imaginative power and getting the best out of it possible to the common people so that the world can further become a better place to live in.

Gaze Control, Ad-tech, and Blockchain

Gazecoin is trying to incentivize the users, content creators and the advertisers. It charges on the basis of the amount of time a user gazes at the advertisements. The unit of this coin is ‘Gaze’.  It is opening up a totally new and different market segment for the people who are developers into the VR/AR segment and also to the advertisers to market their product in the platform and in return pay in the form of ‘GazeCoin’. It has been built in blockchain Ethereum platform which enables the users to pay in either Ethereum coins or platform’s own token. The GazeCoin is going live on 28th Nov 2017 for the crowd sale.

The Future of VR with GazeCoin

GazeCoin’s CEO, Jonny Peters has above 20 years of experience in the VR industry and his work has also been nominated to the prestigious Cannes Film Festival 2017 in the VR category. Jonny Peters has a vision of creating a niche market which would open up new channels of online and digital marketing in a whole new virtual world.

During my recent interaction with him, he expressed his feelings about the company’s vision in words like,

“For too long, VR/AR monetization has been constrained by last-century models that work for web and mobile, but miss the mark terribly in VR/AR, where literally everything you see or touch can be monetized. We designed Gaze Coin to bridge the gap between the promise of virtual worlds and the ability for brands and content owners to capitalize on it, at the heart of how the medium is actually consumed.”

Conclusion

AR/VR products are being very rapidly being developed by Apple and Google. Innovations crippling up every now and then by different companies of creating a niche product which would enable the VR products to be robust and available at a much cheaper price which is affordable to the consumer. Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg said recently that he has put his R&D on creating a cheaper and much more better version of VR/AR devices for the mass acceptance.

Having said all these, if the market will not grow in VR era; nobody will talk about the monetization benefits and the new market channel for advertisers, innovators, programmers, content creators etc. We need more platforms like GazeCoin to bridge the gap between the world of AR/VR content the content owners to capitalize on it.








Apps that Help You Build a Strong Team Culture in your startup

In the fast-forward world of a growth-oriented business, your whole team needs to focus like a laser on the prime objective – bringing in the dollars. This can be grueling, especially for startups that are racing against time to achieve liftoff. That’s why having a solid company culture and a shared mission is vital to keeping your team engaged and performing well.

Increasingly, business leaders are tuning in to the importance of culture. New job opportunities are everywhere, and your best talent won’t be as compelled to stick around as they might have been a decade ago. For many, it’s a strong corporate culture of engagement that attracts – and keeps – team members sticking around for long.

But culture is hard to pin down. It’s a mix of shared values, vision and mythology. You can’t mandate it; you have to live it. And many startup founders who think their culture is solid are just deceiving themselves.

The data shows that employee engagement remains a critical, elusive challenge for business. Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report shows that in recent years, only one-third of the US’s full-time employees are engaged at work. In the rest of the world, the average is about half of that.

Image source: Gallup.com

 

Companies that succeed in hacking employee engagement are companies that succeed. Engaged employees are more productive, less likely to quit, more willing to contribute new ideas, and more creative. But it doesn’t take a top-to-bottom makeover of your org chart to improve employee engagement. In fact, you may already have some of the tools you need.

The app market has exploded for businesses, with some highly specific and wildly creative ways to improve workflow and meet goals. And many of them – like the nine gems below – have an added bonus. Using them consistently can help improve employee engagement and strengthen your corporate culture.

Start employing a few of these apps in strategic ways, and watch the culture change organically.

Get your team sharing and caring

According to Hinge Research’s 2016 report, 85% of employees in firms that have an employee advocacy program in place report that it’s helped their career. Smarp is a leading employee advocacy platform that makes it easy for employees to participate in your company’s social media marketing, and it does so by creating a kind of “social intranet.”

Users can browse posts according to topic-dedicated tabbed feeds, so it’s easy to discuss initiatives on the fly and gain a sense of what’s happening across departments. Posts can include content curated by leadership for sharing with the general public – or “for internal reading only” discussions, like the one below, to help people feel invested in their company’s culture and objectives. As recently pointed out on Smarp’s blog, the best cultures are those that are built collaboratively.

Smarp

Scrum-style performance reviews

Formalized annual performance reviews are, thankfully, falling out of vogue, while immediate and constant feedback is on the rise. A culture of continuous feedback, instead of a formal yearly review, can open the door to more productive and more engaged employees. And it’s lighter on management, too.

Impraise is an app that allows your team to drive continuous feedback and immediate reviews. Adopting this kind of feedback into your company culture will keep employees engaged year-round, instead of keeping the focus on those times of year when scrutiny is known to spike.

Get transparent with goals

Transparency can be a game changer for any team, which is why business dashboard app Cyfe offers a “TV mode” version, perfect for displaying KPIs in real time on office walls. This helps everyone on your team get the information they need to understand company goals and see how their own work is moving the needle. Even Pied Piper uses Cyfe.

Cyfe lets you use pre-fab widgets to easily display data from dozens of platforms, including leading apps for tracking your company’s finances, project deliverables, email and social media traction, sales pipeline and website engagement. You can also build your own custom widgets to help display whatever metrics are most important to the specifics of your startup’s culture.

Pied piper Cyfe

Play likes it’s your day job

According to the folks behind The Go Game, traditional team building is often forced and mind-rollingly boring. This app aims to change that, helping team members uncover new skills. This can help to reveal the true creative potential of your teams.

At its core, The Go Game is a new kind of team building exercise that combines tech, exploration, and creativity. When you know your team members better, collaboration is more fluid and relaxed. And a little friendly competition never hurts.

Build a safety net of success the office

Leaders at companies with strong corporate cultures understand the importance of making work feel “safe” for all team members. For example, Google’s Project Aristotle has spent years researching and defining the things that truly build a feeling of teamwork and the associated productivity and performance results that flow from it. They call it “psychological safety,” and they believe that teams with higher than average social sensitivity perform better.

Jobvibe offers an app that helps enforce this culture point via morale tracking, helping team members stay in touch, uncover issues, and work together to solve them. It’s all done via quick survey clicks, too, so no one will get bogged down with cumbersome data entry. Think of it as a “net promoter score” collector for team functioning.

Jobvibe

You’re in This Together

You don’t have to spend a ton of money or invest a lot of time to improve your startup’s culture and create a more engaged team. Some of the simplest approaches are also the most effective. Listen to your employees, take their concerns and issues seriously, and do what you can to improve the situation.

By using apps like these that improve communication, make goals more transparent, and foster personal engagement, your corporate culture can thrive – before you run out of runway.