Monday, December 23, 2013

Tips for Dealing with Negative Reviews Online

I recently corresponded with -  a platform for businesses to create profiles and publish information. They sent over this helpful list for handling reputation online. This is particularly helpful for small businesses handling their own social media.

Based on an analysis of thousands of local businesses featured on the platform, Locality CEO Jay Shek developed a list of four crucial mistakes that small business owners frequently make when responding to negative online reviews:

Local neighborhood guides often have red flags in place to find out when a business owner posts fake reviews. Don't run the risk of being publicly shamed. It's not worth it.

Negative responses, finger-pointing, and customer-blaming is a quick way to turn a bad online conversation into really bad buzz that hurts your bottom line. Instead, be constructive and find a solution.

Ask your loyal followers to review you online. Target red flags in customer service and nip them in the bud before they find their way to a review.

Don't get stuck online -- move the conversation offline. Contact the customer behind the negative review, hear them out, and offer a positive solution.

A little more about Locality:

Founded in 2011, Locality ( is a service that businesses can use to create an online profile and publish their information for free. To sign up, visit  Previously, CEO and co-founder Jay Shek managed finance and analytics at Snapfish, an online photo company acquired by Hewlett-Packard.  Locality is currently funded by Lightbank, ffVC, Cowboy Ventures, Founder Collective, and others.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Making Sense of the Generation Gap

Anyone who has managed people outside of their generational group knows the challenges involved. It comes with the life experience of having grown up in a different time and a different set of cultural dynamics. The book, The Xers and the Boomers - by Claire Raines and Jim Hunt does a great job of highlighting those differences. With this knowledge we can perhaps find a more comfortable starting point for our conversations. Here are some highlights from the book.  

Here's what Generation Xers say about Boomers
  • They're self-righteous
  • They're workaholics
  • They think a half-day means leaving at five
  • They thrive on office politics
  • They talk the talk, but they don't walk it.
  • They ask for our opinions, then do it there way
  • Their lives center around their jobs
  • They demand constant validation
  • They are always in other people's faces
  • They are too intense
  • They follow every management fad-of-the-week
  • They're set in their ways
  • They've quit learning.
  • They're clueless about the future.
  • They've always had it easy.
  • They take a comfortable retirement for granted.
Here's what the Boomers say about Gen Xers
  • They're slackers.
  • They're whiners.
  • They don't want to pay their dues.
  • They think 'job' instead of 'career'.
  • They're rude.
  • They lack social skills.
  • They are always bucking the system.
  • They refuse to wait their turn.
  • They're not loyal.
  • They constantly ask 'why?'
  • They have no work ethic.
  • They aren't committed.
  • They have a 'you owe me' attitude.
  • They're self-focused.
  • They spend too much time on the internet.
Let's look at a slice of the times that shaped each of them. The answers as to which applies to each Generation is below. 
  1. Having grown up with sophisticated TV shows and advertising , they learned as children to distrust the media. As adults, they are wary of any message that seems to be cliche.
  2. Sally Field, a member of this generation shouted 'You like me! You really like me!' to the Academy Awards audience. This generation, generally masterful at establishing rapport, seems to care about personal approval more than any other.
  3. Because there are so many of them, they have set the trends for four decades. In the seventies, fern bars and tennis were all the rage; in the eighties, it was BMW's and Ben and Jerry's; in the nineties, cholesterol blockers and car pools.
  4. The oldest of them were thirteen when President Nixon resigned. Many counseled a parent through an ugly divorce. Today, they don't give extra respect to someone just because of age, range, title, or status.
  5. They were the first generation graded on their report cards for 'works well with others' and 'shares materials with classmates'. They have taken that orientation to work with them where they have promoted team concepts like quality circles, consensus, and participative management.
  6. They watched their parents and neighbors laid off in the eighties. They don't have much faith in  institutions. They tend to think of themselves as free agents and believe they will earn job security only through improving their own skills.
  7. More members of this generation believe in UFO's than believe the social security system will be there for them when they retire. They believe that if there's going to be a retirement program for them it will be one of their own making.
  8. In the decades they've been in the workforce, they've driven the length of the average work week up and up. As a generation, they've used work as a means to prove their worthiness.
  9. In the sixties and seventies, this generation participated in the civil right and women's movements. On the job, they brought the same kind of pressure against bureaucracy and hierarchy.
  10. They are far less attracted to leadership positions than any other generation. Organizations that have traditionally used promotion to management as a motivator are being forced to find other means of motivating employees.
This was adapted from the board game, Connecting Generations, by Claire Raines and Sandy Mazarakis.
Xers - 1,4,6,7,10

When it comes to viewing and dealing with the world around us, Xers and Boomers are different.
View of the world of work:
Xers think 'job'. Boomers think 'career'
Xers are blunt. Boomers are diplomatic.
Relate to authority:
Xers are unfazed. Boomers are impressed.
Feel about approval:
Xers feel indifferent. Boomers seek validation.
Think about resources:
Xers see scarcity. Boomers see abundance.
Regard policies and procedures:
Xers mistrust business practices. Boomers defend them.
Depend on others:
Xers are self-reliant. Boomers are team-oriented.
Define 'work ethic':
Xers seek balance. Boomers remain driven.
Focus at work:
Xers are task and results oriented. Boomers are relationship and results oriented.
Interact with technology:
Xers assimilate it. Boomers accommodate it.
View entitlement:
Xers want to be judged on merit. Boomers want their experience to count.
Think of the future:
Xers want to survive. Boomers want to change the world.

Just as nations have different aspirations based on timing, history, traditions etc. so do our generational experiences taint all of our perspectives.   

If we want to survive, never mind thrive, these are thought provoking ideas to keep in mind.  

(Note: Special thanks to Mike Fox: BrightLights for this blog inspiration

Friday, November 30, 2012

Financial Post article "Women Blocked from advancement: study"

Interesting article in the Financial Post pertaining to the Economic Gender Gap: "Women around the globe are blocked from advancing in their careers because of unequal access to high visibility jobs and international experience, according to a new report".

Thursday, July 19, 2012

An interesting report that surfaced yesterday:
Angel Capital Activity on the Rise: More Investments to More Companies

TORONTOJuly 18, 2012 /CNW/ - The National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) is pleased to announce the release of the Investment Activity by Canadian Angel Groups: 2011 Report.  This report, the second of its kind, examines 2011 activity levels and highlights trends such as a significant increase in levels of Angel activity. The report also presents an initial analysis of the mode of exit and the returns generated by Angel-backed companies.

Significant findings of this report include:
  • ~12% increase in the number of business plans funded as a proportion of those selected for detailed review.
  • 2% increase in the number of business plans funded as a proportion of those received.
  • 134 investments in 2011 (103 new and 31 follow-on) totalling $82.4 million ($60.5 million new and $21.9 follow-on), 90 investments (80 new and 10 follow-on) were made in 2010 totalling $35.3 million ($34.2 new and $1.1 follow-on).
  • $172K increase in average investment, from $442K in 2010 to $614K in 2011.
  • ICT (51%), clean technology (21%), and life sciences (17%) received the largest proportion of investments.
  • ICT ($33.3M), life sciences ($26.6M), and clean technology ($17.5M) received the most investment.
  • 70% of recorded investments involved a co-investor, with 74% of these being either independent Angel investors or investors associated with an Angel Group.
  • 49% of investments indicated government support in the form of a regional economic development agency program.
  • 72% of investment exits were from a 'sale to/merger with another company'.
  • 4 years or more was the length of time investments took to mature before an exit took place.
"The impact, importance and growth of the Angel community in Canada is clear, with more Angels investing more capital in more companies across the country in 2011," said Bryan Watson, Executive Director of NACO. "To continue to support this trend of investment into Canada's emerging companies,  the Government of Canada must develop national programs that reduce the substantial risk Angel investors face and leverage additional capital into the market through co-investment programs, tax credits and direct support to the Angel community."
"Angel investor groups invested significantly more capital in 2011 than in 2010," said Michelle Scarborough, Chair of NACO.  "For 2011, NACO estimates that Angel investors in Canada invested just under $1 billion into high-growth, early-stage companies across all industries and geographies. As such, Angels continue to fill an important financing gap at the early and growth stage of company development, putting our own capital to work along with our expertise, helping to mentor entrepreneurs during critical stages of company development and helping accelerate company growth."
This study was funded by Industry Canada and BDC Venture Capital.
BDC VC is working with a number of angel groups across the country, including NACO, to help them thrive. "Angels are playing a considerable part in starting to fill the financing gap that Canadian startups continue to face in their early stage," said Michael Mahon, Director, Strategic Initiatives and Investments at BDC VC. "Canada needs strong angel networks capable of providing not only early-stage funding, but also mentorship to entrepreneurs. It is important to get a better understanding of the Canadian angel capital market so that we can more effectively support it." 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Social Roots Excerpt

From the forward of my new book, Social Roots:

I have been working in the fields of innovation, collaboration, and social media with international clients in diverse industries like: communications and high tech, telecommunications, and financial services for over twenty years. What I have learned from the diverse leadership roles, client projects etc. is that there are some constant realities in play.

First, innovation excellence is driven by the passion of its leaders and their tenacity to achieve a vision that stretches everyone’s imagination. The stories in this book are exemplary innovations that have helped shape our increasingly connected and highly virtualized world. In the last book I wrote with my co-authors, John and Joanne Girard, Business Goes Virtual, we examined the forces at play in collaboration, social media and virtual worlds and researched how organizations are using these tools for improving their business goals.

Now that a year has passed, it is increasingly clearer to me that there is a more fundamental economic shift underway and virtualization is a key innovation factor but the glue growth factor is influence networks and the increasing power they have and will have as the world economic structure increasingly shifts to new business metrics like: return on collaboration (ROC) with underpinnings in social capital theory, while other organizations like IBM like to call this return on contribution (ROC).

We call this connected new world order the Influence Economy where who knows who, who is doing what, who can help you, or what you know, or increasingly where you are determines your influence and value. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Seven key facts on the Crowdfunding Market

  1. Research report forecasts that $2.8 B will be raised worldwide this year, up from $1.5 B in 2011 and $530 M in 2009. 
  2. There are over 450 crowdfunding platforms worldwide. Including 4 China. 
  3. Kickstarter is America’s largest platform. 
  4. Indiegogo is Kickstarter’s closest rival, and is available in Canada. 
  5. In terms of amount of money raised, the NA crowdfunding industry CAGR is 63%
  6. Pebble raised 10.3 million dollars from 68,929 people after the inventors posted a pitch on Kickstarter. The previous record was 3.3 Million set in March by Double Fine Adventure, a video game. 
  7. Seven projects have raised $1M – something that had never happened before February this year. 

Sources: Techvibes, Massolution, ITBusiness

What is Crowdfunding? How does it relate to Social Media? How is it creating New Business Models and More Rapid Job Creation?

Below is an excerpt from Invest Crowdfund Canada's National Webinar, held 29 June 2012. 
Guest author: Andrew Weir

Broadly speaking, crowdfunding is about using the Internet to ask regular people to help fund you project or idea. There are a number of different models for this. The most globally prevalent model right now is donation-based.  For a benefactor in a donation-based system, it is about being willing to pay in advance for a product or project that you believe in. In most cases, donators will receive the product in exchange for contributing.

You asked how cowdfunding relates to social media. The most notable platforms in North America right now are IndieGoGo and Kickstarter.  They’re social in the sense that users log in, browse, discuss and ask questions before decided to donate or not. People looking for funding often include videos explaining their project. On some platforms (though not necessarily all), a project must have reached its funding target before any money is released. If the target is not met, no money is transferred.

What we’re talking about today is the next generation of crowdfunding: Crowdfund investing. Recently made legal in the united states and already available in other geographies, it takes the crowdfunding model a step further by allowing people to invest in companies and ideas in exchange for equity.

What this is about then is opening up new ventures and ideas to the capital and wisdom of the crowds. It is social in the sense that business plans and project ideas need to be able to stand up to the scrutiny of the social network. If one potential investor questions the logic or sustainability of the plan, the person or group seeking investment is going to have to adequately defend themselves to the entire crowd or fail. And its important to remember that the crowd is diverse – the scrutiny will come from people of all different expertise and interests. 

You asked about job creation.  New ventures are a crucial source for new job creation.  In the US for instance, of the modest increase of 119,000 jobsin April, only 4,000 of those came from big firms. Half of those new jobs came from small businesses and startups. We have established that it is anything by easy right now in Canada to obtain funding through banks or VCs. Opening up crowdfund investing provides these new and innovative companies with the funding they need to grow. 

Click here for our Whitepaper on Crowdfunding in Canada

For more information and to access our petition, visit the i-Canada page. 
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