Saturday, August 31, 2013

“I Don’t Want to be a Loser.”

Fear of failure, self-worth, and our need to succeed

When he got up from the table, I knew something was wrong. His steps were too quick, his smile too forced. He just wanted to get away.
“Hey, buddy,” I said. He stopped, his face half obscured by the kitchen counter backsplash. He wouldn’t make eye contact. “Did you have fun?”
He nodded, and there was that forced smile again—a half smirk tinged with pain.
He turned to go, but I called out to him again. “Come here,” I said, and putting my arm around him, I asked, “What’s the matter?”
And just like that, the levee broke and the tears came in a torrent. My sweet 7-year old, Liam, was bawling in my arms as he choked out the words, “I wanted to win so bad.”
“You played really well,” I said. “Why all the tears?”
“I don’t want to be a loser.”
And there was the heart of it. It wasn’t losing the game that caused so much pain—it was that losing reinforced his self-perception that he was a loser in life. Heady stuff for a 7-year old who is bright, funny, kind, lovable, and who should feel on top of the world right now.

We live in an atychiphobic culture. We avoid loss and failure like the plague. This fear of failure is built into us from an early age. Whether it be from our parents, school, work, or something else, most of us, either accidentally or overtly, have been trained to derive our self-worth by our successes and accomplishments. This generally results in two types of responses.
On one hand, the pressure to succeed is so great that it produces anxiety and a withdrawal from risk. Rather than try and fail, it becomes easier to simply not try at all.
On the other hand, some people take on a predatory attitude, projecting their failures onto others, stepping over the competition and doing whatever it takes to win.
Both are a symptom of a deep-seeded need to protect and create self-worth—and both are a prison.

For my son, I see this in the way small failures cause him to become passé about things he was previously excited about. My house is filled with the relics of passions past—skateboards, drums, books, puzzles—all abandoned when things became too hard, when Liam had to risk failure in order to grow.
And I see the dominance mindset in how some of the young boys at Liam’s school interact with others. When I asked my son why he would self-identify as a loser just because he didn’t win a game, he said a boy at school called him that after beating Liam at a playground game.
I called bullshit on that boy’s words.
“Losing a game doesn’t make you a loser,” I told Liam. “You’re smart, funny, and loved. You’re valuable because you’re you, not because of what you accomplish.”
In fact, I told him, the surest way to become a loser in life would be to avoid failure and the lessons we learn from it—or to begin running over others in an attempt to win at all costs and make yourself feel better.
In a moment of brilliant insight, Liam brightened and said, “That’s why the boy called me a loser. He wanted to feel better about himself because he feels like a loser.”

The Internet is littered with step-by-step guides on how to overcome our fear of failure (like this one). The irony is that these supposed cures are steeped in the same mentality that gives rise to the problem in the first place.
Overcoming your fear of failure is rooted in the mindset that winning is the most important goal in life. These steps usually include breaking down big tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks so that you can get easy wins. This involves some form of goal setting, strategy for attacking those goals, tactics, and execution. It’s divide and conquer.
Yet, these steps to overcoming fear of failure are still based in the context of building your self-worth out of your productivity and what you can accomplish. Missing is the concept of inherent self-worth apart from accomplishment.And when theses systems break down, fear of failure isn’t cured, it’s reinforced.
This is not to say that setting goals and making things manageable is bad. It’s actually good. But where it becomes dangerous is when we base our identity in them instead of something more lasting, our value as a human being regardless of our accomplishments.

There is another way to live: to embrace failure and to recognize it as a necessary and permanent part of life. As FDR famously said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Failure is a valuable feedback mechanism. Through failure we learn, and failure is a simple fact of life that can seldom be avoided. It’s time to change our framework as a culture and individually about failure in life. No longer should we define ourselves by our successes or our failures. Instead, we should define ourselves by our growth.
There are valuable lessons to be learned from both success and failure. If we take the time to contemplate the lessons learned by each, we become better people and professionals. When we approach life in this way, we no longer have to fear failure (or success) because we embrace it for how it can enrich our lives. Understanding that both failure and success are part of the rhythm of life frees us up to stop focusing on them as the end all and to look at the totality of our life as the place from which we derive our value—not just our present and often overwhelming reality.
Living this way allows us to move beyond defining our reality by wins and losses, and to reshape it by pursuing what we love and are passionate about, regardless of the result. It is freeing in a way that trying to overcome our fear of failure or success can never be. R̶a̶l̶p̶h̶ ̶W̶a̶l̶d̶o̶ ̶E̶m̶e̶r̶s̶o̶n̶ Aerosmith got to the heart of this when h̶e̶ they wrote, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” And both success and failure are part of that journey.

After our conversation about losing the game and how it made him feel like a loser, this was the advice I gave to my son, “Give some thought about what worked and what didn’t as you played the game. And next time, whether you win or lose, you’ll be a better player.”
His response: “Can we play again tomorrow night?”
I think that should be our response too.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Leadership Branding on Social Media

People who aren’t known for something haven’t done anything.
“How to Build a Brand,” was the title we settled on for a recent presentation. It included social media content and making money using your online presence.
Leadership brand building:
On the negative side of brand building, I know leaders who are “save the day” leaders. They love being the hero. Others are backstabbing asses. Still others feel threaten by the success of those around them.
What you’re known for determines the way people talk about you. The way people talk about you is your brand.
You’re known for what you contribute even if it’s negative. Ultimately, positive brand building is about giving not getting.
  1. Building your brand is about bringing value.
  2. Repeated behaviors create brands, negative or positive.
  3. Competency creates positive brands.
Five questions for leadership brand building:
  1. Who am I? You must know who you are before you can get where you want to go.
  2. What am I great at?
  3. Who do I want to be?
  4. How am I known?
  5. How do I want to be known – in ways that align with who I am?
These questions apply to both individuals and organizations.
Brand building has a slimy reputation because of manipulators and facade builders. Forget it! Be who you are or you’ll empty your soul and destroy yourself with stress. I’m a reformed people pleaser, I know.
Leadership brand building is contributing positive value, authentically.
There’s more to leadership brand building than five questions. What other factors contribute to effective leadership brand building?

Monday, August 26, 2013


It’s been five Eids, two wedding anniversaries, and four birthdays since Shahbaz has been gone. Friends have gotten married, children have been born, and world-changing events have taken place all around us. And yet if you were to ask me what my overwhelming sense of the time that has passed has been I would say it has been one of stillness. It is as if nothing has moved at all. He walked out of that door that day, two years ago, and I am sitting where he left me, waiting for that door to open again.
You hold on. You hope. You pray. You survive. You wish the best for him yet you know that there is suffering. You can abide your own pain, but what do I do about the pain that he might be going through and that I know nothing about?
I am told that all suffering has a purpose. Such pain can either break you or make you. I am told that I have become stronger, and knowing how Shahbaz is, I know this is true for him too. Wherever Shahbaz is being kept, I know he is worried for us. Those who know him have no doubt that this trial will make him braver, wiser, and stronger. And that perhaps will give some meaning to his senseless and violent abduction. I would like to think that my love for him and his commitment to me are helping him through this immense trial.
People ask me often how it feels, how I handle the pain. There is no frame of reference for this kind of a situation. How does one cope with something like a kidnapping? It is easier to explain away other, more familiar traumas to attain some sense of comfort and even closure. A kidnapping is rarer, harder to examine and more difficult to process. It helps to speak with those who have gone through similar trials, forced to brave the taking away of those dearest to them without reason and without there being any surety of what the outcome will be. This is what makes the experience—a cycle of hope and despair—so much more difficult.
I have been fortunate in many ways. I have family and friends to turn to. I have a job which keeps me occupied, more so as I deal with people whose pain and suffering I can ease as their psychological counselor. Yet when the day is over, the overwhelming feeling is of being very alone and isolated. This is a loneliness that nobody can really relate to. People can comfort you, but it is difficult to fathom what it really means to just wait and wait and wait. How do you explain what it means to be without your best friend, your soul mate, for reasons that have nothing to do with either him or you? Such pain changes you. Such loneliness could leave one embittered, if you did not have faith and hope, and a deep conviction that your love, loyalty, and commitment will triumph in the end. There is a future that you must constantly keep before you, if the present is to be survived.
The unexplained absence of a loved one changes you forever. I know our lives will never be the same again.
But in all this, there are also these great positives that keep coming through. Kind words are a powerful thing. I have received thousands of messages of support and prayers for Shahbaz, from people of all ages and from all corners of the world. A 16-year-old Sikh has taken an oath at the Golden Temple to cut his hair the day Shahbaz returns home. An 18-year-old sends me a message every single day to stay strong. Thousands of prayers have been said at Mecca for his safe journey home. People who go there and to Sufi shrines in Pakistan and India tell us they have prayed for him. It is these heart-healing prayers that keep us hopeful, that help me push back the darkness, that strengthen my resolve.
My husband is a brave man. That was obvious in the way he handled his father’s assassination. The character he has shown in this period of time speaks of a great future awaiting him. With courage to fight, power to survive, and the ability to inspire, I know that Shahbaz will be an icon for his generation.
There is much that lies beyond one’s control. Every day brings a new rumor, a new speculation, a new fear. Truth is trumped by sensationalism by an irresponsible and insatiable media that has no visible regard for those it may be hurting. Media organizations do not seem to care about the pain they cause from their wrong reporting and they certainly don’t think twice about jeopardizing the safety of those at risk, like Shahbaz. Social media only magnifies and makes inescapable such reports. What is the protocol for handling all this when shutting out the world is not an option? What does one do when hope is constantly challenged by “breaking news”?
Here in Lahore, the mind is never far from the lawless federally-administered tribal areas, where most kidnapping victims are whisked off to. Now more than before, one thinks about the families there ravaged by violence, one thinks about the byzantine politics which surround that part of the country, one thinks about the rituals of routine violence there. One also thinks about the mundane: the weather there, the food, health care. And then there are drone strikes and the actual and collateral damage they bring. When those who have abducted your husband are being targeted from the skies, drones are not just an abstract concept but a living reality, a pressing and deeply personal concern. I am sure Shahbaz lives under this fear. I know I do.
I often think whether this experience would have changed Shahbaz. It is not easy living in isolation and captivity but a deep-rooted conviction tells me that these cruel circumstances would not have broken him. He will come back to me the same humorous, warm-hearted, caring person that he was when he left. He would have changed, yes, but only to have become more empathetic, more sensitive, and much more fearless than before. What would be left to fear once you have gone through something like this? These last two years have taught me a lot. The unexplained absence of a loved one changes you forever. I know our lives will never be the same again. They will be better informed by a visceral appreciation of choosing to journey together in a world of great uncertainty come what may, powered by a conviction to make every day count not only for each other but for others around us.
The traumas that Pakistanis go through can be soothed by those who have struggled with similar suffering. Support groups that make these experiences and shared wisdom available are so important and vital for the survival of others who feel alone and despondent. There have to be ways to help make things better for those who suffer, to have their voices heard, to make sure that our streets are safe. It is our collective duty to think about and care for families coping with unnatural traumas. I think of all that we can do once Shahbaz is home. Assisting such families will be a small but meaningful service to all those praying for Shahbaz’s safe return.
The author is a psychologist who married Shahbaz Taseer, the son of Punjab’s assassinated governor Salmaan Taseer, in 2010. Her husband was kidnapped in Lahore on Aug. 26, 2011. His whereabouts remain unknown.


The Leadership Shift toward Exponential Success

The fringes of leadership are populated with problem-centric leaders.
Leaders are born when they shift from self to others. Leaders begin leading when they shift toward solutions. The first is a beginning - the second represents success.
The problem with problems:
Seeing problems places you on the fringes of leadership. Somehow it feels important to point out deficiencies; in one sense it is.
The problem with problems is seeing them is an easy beginning to an arduous journey.
The second shift:
Courageous leaders shift from problem-centric to solution-centric leadership. It’s the difference between floundering and success. Seeing problems is like falling off logs – Crafting solutions is climbing mountains.
Shifting toward solutions:
  1. Courageously identify challenges, problems, and failures. “If there is an elephant in the room, introduce him.” Anonymous. If you can’t admit where you are, you’ll never get where you want to be.
  2. Name problems without distracting, self-affirming condemnations; it’s not who’s right but what’s right.
  3. Reject leader as savior models. Never take responsibility to fix someone else’s problem. You degrade them and inflate yourself when you become a fixer.
  4. Affirm the vision of others while protecting your own. Jim Collins suggests, “Embrace the genius of ‘and’.” Everyone has a vision for you and your organization. At best, you’ll get lost following someone else’s plan. At worst, you’ll feel pushed around.
  5. Help others own their own solutions. If others aren’t willing to get skin in the game, don’t waste your time. Be polite but let it go.
Bonus: Develop small steps not perfect solutions. Perfect solutions are myths, progress is real. Solution-centric leaders move forward while problem-centric leaders hide behind perfection.
How can leaders become solution-centric in a problem filled world?
How can leaders be realistic about problems and hopeful about solutions?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Factors of Social Media Influence

Influence marketing today is in a state of experimentation that scientists call the pre-paradigm phase or exploratory phase. During this phase, everyone is trying different approaches based on experience. There are incomplete theories about why some approaches work and others fail, but there is no underlying fundamental principle that explains everything. My approach in this series is to see if we can gain a deeper understanding by analyzing the process of influence from a data analytics perspective, using a simplified model of social media influence.

A Simplified Model of Social Media Influence:
Influence involves two entities, which I will refer to as influencer and target.

1. The influencer's power to influence depends on two factors:
a. Credibility: The influencer's expertise in a specific domain of knowledge.
Please note: There is no such thing as a universal influencer, because no one can possibly be influential in all domains. The best that anyone can hope for is an influencer in a specific domain of knowledge
b. Bandwidth: The influencer's ability to transmit his expert knowledge through a social media channel.
Please note: Active influencers in one channel may not even be present on another channel. So influencers are not only specific to a domain of knowledge, they are specific to social media channels
2. The target's likelihood to be influenced by a specific influencer depends on four factors:
a. Relevance (the right information): How closely the target's information needs coincide with the influencer's expertise. If the information provided by the influencer is not relevant, then it is just spam to the target and will be ignored.
b. Timing (the right time): The ability of the influencer to deliver his expert knowledge to the target at the time when the target needed it. There is only a small time window along the decision trajectory when the target can be influenced. Outside this golden window, even relevant content will be treated as spam because there is no temporal relevance.
c. Alignment (the right place): The amount of channel overlap between the target and the influencer. If the target is on a different social media channel, then the influencer's information either take too long or never reach the target.
d. Confidence (the right person): How much the target trusts the influencer with respect to his information needs. Even if the influencer is credible, the target must have confidence in him. Without trust, any information from the influencer will be downgraded by the target.
This model is very general, and it is intended to be applicable to any social media channel. However, it is by no means complete. I just like to use the principle of Occam's razor and start with a simple model that is consistent with the data out there and see how much it explains. We can always add to the model if it proves to be insufficient. As Albert Einstein once said, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

Please note that a lot of attention has been focused on influencers, but very little has focused on their targets. Although it is easier to work with the influencers, we must not forget that it is the targets that we want ultimately. I hope this simple model will help you think about social influence from a more balanced perspective, so that even when we are looking for the influencers and working with them, we still have the targets in mind.

Now that you know the basics of how social media influence works, it should not be difficult to diagnose the success or failure of a social media campaign, at least from a data analytics perspective. As shown in the photo above, any broken link between the influencer and the target is enough to break the chain and stall the whole influence process. Next time, I will show you how to take the first step of WOM/influencer marketing: find the influencers.

How Influential Are You? Social Media

It's simple, influence matters. It matters in your job and your private life. In fact, influence is part of every human interaction. Just think of parents influencing their children, political or religious leaders influencing their followers, CEOs influencing employees, sales people influencing customers, friends influencing each other and the list goes on...
Influential people have an edge over others who are not influential because with influence comes the ability to make others listen to what you have to say. Influence gives people the power to change beliefs and drive actions and behaviours in others and this is important in all aspects of life, whether you are a CEO of a global company, a sales rep, a football coach or someone that is simply trying to get friends to do or believe something.
So what makes us influential then? Whether anyone is seen as influential or not depends on a number of factors including:
  • Do we trust and like the person?
  • Is the person authoritative and respected?
  • Will being influenced by the person help us be more successful?
  • Etc.
The 10,000 Dollar question now is: How do we know whether we have this influential power or not? It's tricky because it is not always the charismatic and extroverted leaders that are the biggest influencers. Wouldn't it be great if we could measure how influential we actually are and maybe compare scores to see who is more or less influential in your company, among your friends or in your industry? The good news is that you can.
One way to measure and quantify your influence is by tracking your influence in social media. We all know that the way we interact with friends, customers or employees is rapidly changing. We use tools such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to share opinions and ideas, we 'like' people's posts, re-tweet status up-dates and recommend or endorse others on LinkedIn. The beauty with social media is that we can use all of this to calculate how influential someone is.
You might think that's not for me. Why should I care about my online influence? The reason why it matters is that companies are now using social media influence scores to recruit, promote or performance manage employees. Other companies use social media influence scores to put customers into certain categories that might mean you get preferential treatment or perks if you are particularly influential.
It is my job to help companies find the right data and measures that help them make better informed decisions about key business questions. And increasingly I put social media influence scores into the equation to help answer questions like:
  • Who are our most valuable customers?
  • How do I select the best sales person for my company?
  • Which PR person should best represent our business?
  • Where should I focus my lobbying activities?
  • How do I prioritise customers in my call centre queue?
  • Etc.
There are a number of different social media influence metrics out there but the Klout score seems to have an edge over others. Klout is the self-proclaimed standard for measuring social media influence. It uses social media analytics from TwitterFacebookGoogle+,LinkedInFoursquareWikipedia, and Instagram to generate a score between 1 and 100. Klout defines influence as "the ability to drive action". On their website they state that "When you share something on social media or in real life and people respond, that’s influence. The more influential you are, the higher your Klout Score." For example, US president Barack Obama has currently got a Klout score of 99 and Justin Bieber's Klout score is 92.
The problem with any such metric is that it is not perfect and will never be a complete representation of someone's actual influence. For example, prior to some recent algorithm changes, Justin Bieber and other celebrities had more 'Klout' than President Obama. Or as another example: I am one of LinkedIn's original influencers and regularly write posts that get hundreds of thousand reads and thousands of comments, however, the Klout algorithm does not yet take that into account. Of course, like all measures Klout is only as good as the information is it based on. At the same time Klout is working hard to constantly evolve theunderpinning algorithm to make the score more representative of the actual level of influence. I am fascinated by watching the evolution of these new types of metrics.
Let me share with you some real life examples of how some of my customers are now using the Klout score:
  • One of my clients is a fashion retail business that particularly targets teenagers with trendy clothes. This particular retailer has always tried to recruit the most popular teenagers to work in their shop because they know that they will bring in a lot of customers.In the past they had to guess how 'influential' or popular particular candidates are based on what they wrote in their application form or what they said in the interviews. Today, the retailer is using Klout to narrow down the applicants.
  • One of my telecom customers is now using the Klout score (among other measures) to build up a better image of who their customers are. For example, a recent analysis identified that 'influential' customers are more likely to churn and that if they do decide to leave for a competitor many in their network will do the same. This information is very valuable because it allows the company to focus on the customers that are more likely to leave and take actions to prevent this.
  • One of my car manufacturer clients is now using the Klout score to automatically customise the user experience of their corporate Facebook page.
So here are the issues. Klout is a great way to quantify and score your level of influence. At the same time it is not (and never will be) perfect. In the absence of anything better it is a good way of shining some light on someone's influence and many of my customers do so. However, I also see some alarm bells going off in my head when I think of how this sort of measure could be used in the future. If companies are now using the Klout score as a way to recruit new people or assess the effectiveness of sales staff, and if companies use the Klout score to differentiate customer service then I am also getting worried. Will people with a higher influence score get preferential treatments? Will this encourage people to play a game and find ways to artificially 'boost' their score? Are influence scores good or bad for society? Do you see it as just another way to get more transparency and data-driven insights or do you see it as dangerous and misleading? Please let me know what you think!

What to Do When Your Biggest Obstacle to Success is YOU!

You Gotta Have Faith

Building a business requires logic, dedication, and the ability to implement ideas. Besides these practical characteristics, you’ll need the assistance of something a little less tangible; a hearty dose of faith.
Without faith in your ideas and yourself, you won’t have the drive to actualize your vision. Your faith is the catalyst that ignites your passion.

Excuses, Excuses

It’s incredibly simple to talk yourself out of attempting something difficult. This holds true in all aspects of life, not only business. If you’ve ever tried to stick to a regular fitness routine, you know the power of excuses. It’s raining, the gym is too crowded at this hour, you worked out yesterday so you can skip today, and so on ad infinitum. The truth is, you’ve made your decision not to go to the gym before you start making excuses. The excuses are simply a form of backward-rationalization; an attempt to make yourself feel better about a decision you realize is inadequate.

Surround Yourself With Positivity

Negativity can be a powerful force if you let it be. Plenty of people are unsatisfied with their positions in life. They live lives full of regret; regret about missing opportunities, regret about not taking risks. If you’re not careful, or you surround yourself by these kinds of people, this negative thinking can infiltrate your thoughts and send you down an excuse-filled path that ends in regret. You’ve made a promise to your vision plan. You have a responsibility to nurture it.
Surround yourself with successful people that you’d like to emulate. They don’t have to be rich. Success means a lot more than having a large bankroll or attractive portfolio. Successful people are full of movement. They don’t wait around for the right time to take action. They create the right time through their actions. Even if they fail, they can look back on their lives without the burden of regret.

Perpetual Motion Machines

The search for free energy has captivated the minds of inventors since the beginning of history. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and energy must come from somewhere. But you do have access to one source of nearly limitless energy. The fire within you will fuel your actions until you reach your dying day. This fire, this reason, is what separates you from people looking for the easy road. This burning desire to realize your dreams will last you a lifetime as long as you keep it lit.

Unreasonable Reasoning

So how do you keep your fire burning? How do you nurture your one reason that will overpower the thousands of excuses that are jockeying for position? By being unreasonable. By rejecting logic and pragmatism and focusing instead on a little bit of faith.
You don’t need to be religious to have faith. Have faith in your ideas, your vision, and your ability. But the elusive nature of faith, an indefinable quality that can’t be pinned down by words or thoughts, will provide you with an unstoppable reason to keep on going.

2 Tools to Leverage the Social Factor of SEO

The future of the internet is undoubtedly sharing on Facebook, “tweeting” on Twitter, along with the other various solitary verbs that are used for social networking actions.
Since Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks are becoming so increasingly popular, Google has changed its website ranking algorithms to take into account how much buzz websites create on social networks.  What this means for website owners is that the more your website is shared, “liked,” and “tweeted,” the better chance your website will have to rank higher on those search engines which take that factor into account.  While this factor of search engine ranking algorithms can appear to be an impediment to many, it can be a tremendous advantage if a website leverages its visitors and uses the following tactics and tools to make their website socially apt:

Facebook Comments

Facebook is a no-brainer to integrate your website with, having over 700 million active users and a current global website traffic ranking of #2.  Beyond allowing users to “like” your pages, one of the best ways that a website can foster social buzz about its latest blog post or website additions is to use the Facebook commenting plugin.  The Facebook commenting plugin makes visitor comments on pages matter more to search engines (when those comments are indexed) than a generic commenting system (because of the social aspect of the commenting system).  The Facebook commenting plugin will also generate social backlinks to the page that is commented on by posting the user’s comment on their personal Facebook wall.   That posting on the user’s personal Facebook wall will then show up to their network of friends to generate more visitors to your website, more comments, and even further buzz after that.
To integrate the Facebook commenting plugin into your website, the easiest way to determine your method of integration is whether your website is powered by WordPress or not.  If your website is powered by WordPress, it is as simple as installing the official Facebook Comments plugin.  If your website is not powered by WordPress, then you will need to consult the Facebook developer’s website, where the proper website code can be generated, which is then as simple as a copy and paste to integrate.


The obvious feature that should be on all webpages is the ability to share those pages across social networks.  Beyond humans, websites are now developing social reputations with this new social search engine ranking factor.  To make sure that you maximize your website’s positive social standing by allowing sharing, liking, tweeting, and other like social networking verbs, there are two ways to go about placing those buttons on your website.  Option one, visit each individual social network’s developer website and retrieve the necessary code, which inevitably ends up being overwhelming and time-consuming for most people.  Option two, make it easy by using a tool called ShareThis.  ShareThis takes the headache out of socializing your website by allowing you to choose what social network buttons you want to appear on your website, where they show, the style of the buttons, etc., simply and easily.
When it comes to integrating ShareThis with your website, simply visit the ShareThis integration tool where you will be walked step-by-step through the integration process based on your website platform (WordPress, Joomla, etc.).

Why Brand Ambassadors are Underutilized by Businesses

According to Wommapedia, a leading Internet resource on Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM), 72 percent of people claim that reviews from family members or friends exert a great deal or fair amount of influence on their purchasing decisions. This is just one of many statistics pointing to the importance of word-of-mouth endorsements from people who trust your brand.
Yet in light of how vital these influencers are to any business, brand ambassadors remain highly underutilized assets, but why?
1)    Many companies don’t know who their brand ambassadors even are or how to recognize them. Whether they’re employees, loyal customers, fans, or even friends of fans, finding and tapping into your star brand ambassadors can be a challenge, but one of the most important things you do to boost your business. A good place to start is by simply looking at your pool of customers who are repeat buyers, or employees who have served for your company for more than a year. They are likely to be your biggest supporters.
2)    A company’s army of brand ambassadors is difficult to organize. In other words, it’s one thing to hope for a positive review from a happy customer, and quite another thing, to ask them to do specific things to support your brand. You need to tell your customers and fans what you want them to do in order to get a desired outcome. For instance, if your goal is to grow your fan base on Facebook, then invite your brand ambassadors to share a photo or testimonial on your Facebook page, or invite their Facebook friends to like your page. A specific action will lead to a tangible result.
3)    Everyone is busy. Even if your company’s best supporters have good intentions and want to share their positive experiences with your products and services with other people they know, getting them to find the time and do something about it is not always easy. A couple suggestions are to reward them with something they will appreciate and making it easy for them to take action.
Every business has its own valuable pool of fans, supporters, employees, customers, etc. who have the potential to make a difference. So find them, utilize them and nurture the relationship.
Olivier Baudoux is the founder and CEO of DrivAd, a unique customer engagement program that matches organizations with their ideal brand ambassadors, turning them into motivated influencers for their products, services or causes in exchange for valuable rewards and a great sense of pride.
DrivAd was born in 2012 from Baudoux’s vision to create powerful and cost-effective ways for businesses to tap into their natural and most loyal brand ambassadors, who are typically under-utilized.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Letter from Dr Mohamed Beltaji to his martyred daughter

Below is a translation of the original letter:
My beloved daughter and dignified teacher Asma al-Beltaji; I do not say goodbye to you; I say tomorrow we shall meet again.
You have lived with your head held high, rebellious against tyranny and shackles and loving freedom. You have lived as a silent seeker of new horizons to rebuild this nation to assume its place among civilizations.
You never occupied yourself with what preoccupies those of your age. Even though traditional studies failed to fulfil your aspirations and interest; you have always been the first in your class.
I have not had enough of your precious company in this short life, especially that my time did not allow me to enjoy your companionship. The last time we sat together at Rabaa Al Adawiya square you asked me "even when you are with us you are busy" and I told you "it seems that this life will not be enough to enjoy each other's company so I pray to God that we enjoy our companionship in paradise."
Two nights before you were murdered I saw you in my dream in a white wedding dress and you were an icon of beauty. When you lay next to me I asked you "Is it your wedding night?" You answered, "It is in the noon not the evening". When they told me you were murdered on Wednesday afternoon I understood what you meant and I knew God had accepted your soul as a martyr. You strengthened my belief that we are on the truth and our enemy is on falsehood.
It caused me severe pain not to be at your last farewell and see you for the last time; not to kiss your forehead; and not be honoured to lead your funeral prayer. I swear to God, my darling I was not afraid for my life or from an unjust prison, but I wanted to carry the message you scarified your soul for; to complete the revolution, to win and achieve its objectives.
Your soul has been elevated with your head held high resisting the tyrants. The treacherous bullets have hit you in the chest. What spectacularly determined and pure soul. I am confident that you were honest to God and He has chosen you among us to honour you with sacrifice.
Finally, my beloved daughter and dignified teacher:
I do not say goodbye, but I say farewell. We shall meet soon with our beloved Prophet and his companions in Heaven where our wish to enjoy each other's company and our loved ones' company will come true.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Entrepreneurship in Pakistan

Entrepreneurship is viewed by economists to be a combination of innovation and risk taking. When such activity thrives, high growth rates are achieved as well as opportunities offered to all segments of society, including the poor. The latter benefit form growth and employment as well as through opportunities for entrepreneurship. In Pakistan innovation and risk taking is severely inhibited by the intrusive role of government in the marketplace. From the early days of planning when protection and subsidy policies determined winners in the market place, entrepreneurship has been diverted to seeking government favours. Government economic policy also seeks to promote growth through a basically ‘mercantilist’ approach where domestic commerce through seriously neglect is heavily regulated. This sector either employs most of the poor or offers them entrepreneurial opportunities. Hence deregulating this sector could be a priority in and anti-poor strategy. The paper also argues that land distribution and city zoning and management have also evolved to further reinforce the prevalent rent seeking path to success. The result is that cities are by design not allowed to become clusters of commerce that will be entrepreneur friendly. These clusters of dense urban commerce are magnets of employment and opportunity for the poor. To develop an entrepreneurship culture in the country, the system of incentives (laws and policies) that promote rent seeking will have to be dismantled. This paper presents an analysis of the state of entrepreneurship/rent seeking prevailing in Pakistan. This analysis allows us to obtain and understanding of the kinds of reforms (including legislative changes) that are required to develop entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship: The Ultimate White Privilege?

A new study finds that future entrepreneurs score high on measures of teenage delinquency. They're also disproportionately white, highly educated, and male. Here's why that might not be a coincidence.

One of the great privileges that comes with being born wealthy, white, and male in the United States of America is that you can get away with certain youthful indiscretions. Indiscretions like, oh, smoking prodigious quantities of marijuana, for instance. If you're an upper-middle-class caucasian, chances are the cops aren't going to randomly stop and frisk you in the street under dubiously constitutional pretenses. And if you do somehow get caught baggie-in-hand, your parents can likely afford a decent lawyer to help plea bargain your way into some light community service. It's a cushy setup. 
Today, I'm finding myself wondering if that leeway --  that societal room to do a little law breaking, punishment free -- isn't part of the reason why so many of the successful entrepreneurs in this country are, yes, white guys
Sorry if that sounds a bit out of left field, but let me explain. Ross Levine, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, and Yona Rubinstein, a professor at the London School of Economics, have released a fascinating working paper exploring the demographics, personality traits, and earnings of entrepreneurs. Among their findings, they conclude that:
A) Entrepreneurs are "disproportionately white, male, and highly educated"; and
B) As teens and young adults, they're far more likely than the average American to have partaken in "aggressive, illicit, risk-taking activities," such as skipping class, smoking pot, gambling, and shoplifting. 
It does not strike me as a coincidence that a career path best suited for mild high school delinquents ends up full of white men. That, again, is part of white privilege; youthful indiscretions have fewer consequences that might, say, keep you out of a good college.
That said, while Levine and Rubinstein's findings hint at the role race might play in entrepreneurship, they don't flesh it out fully enough for us to draw hard conclusions. So with that in mind, let's wade into some of the details about precisely what this study does and doesn't tell us. 
We'll start with the demographic data, shown below based on the census figures from 1994 to 2005. The group we care about here are the self-employed workers with incorporated businesses, at the far right of the table. Why just them? Because they're who we traditionally consider entrepreneurs, as opposed to everyday small business proprietors. Unincorporated businesses tend to be tiny operations -- think of a bodega, or a carpenter who works alone out of a pickup truck -- with little chance of growing. As Levine and Rubinstein find in their study, the people who run them tend to earn less than salaried workers. Incorporated businesses, on the other hand, are actual companies (yep, with 1st Amendment rights and everything). They can be anything from a chain of gyms to an accounting firm to a small tech startup. But the important thing is they're independent legal entities and are often set up to attract investment and grow. 
And, as you'll notice, 84 percent of the incorporated self-employed (people who, for the purposes of this piece, we'll just shorthand as "entrepreneurs") are white, compared to 71 percent of the whole prime working-age population. They're also 72 percent male. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Entrepreneurship in Pakistan

An Entrepreneur is the one who takes on the risk of starting their own enterprise or investing in other start-ups. Successful entrepreneurs are known for finding innovation and market gaps for new products and services. Entrepreneurs have the ability to take business to the point at which it can sustain itself on internally generated cash flow. The future of entrepreneur is to reform and revolutionize the pattern of production. 

Entrepreneurship spurs improvements in productivity and economic competitiveness, and with technological advances and economic liberalization, the assumption that nurturing entrepreneurship means promoting a country's competitiveness which today appears more valid than ever. Entrepreneurship development has the potential to create jobs through the formation of new business ventures; utilization of available labor and resources to create wealth, stimulate growth, boost the economy and increases a nation's GDP, and reducing dependence on social welfare programs. Entrepreneurs create new businesses and new businesses in turn create jobs, intensify competition, and may even increase productivity through technological change. High measured levels of entrepreneurship will thus translate directly into high levels of economic growth. While it is easy to see that starting a new business to exploit a perceived business opportunity would lead to economic development, it is also possible that necessity entrepreneurship may not lead to economic development. Being pushed into entrepreneurship (self-employment) because all other options for work are either absent or unsatisfactory can even lead to under development.

According to many, the two widely acknowledged causes of small business failure are 1) lack of knowledge about the business, and 2) insufficient capital to sustain the venture through break-even and profitability. The issue of knowledge can be overcome by given proper instruction, most entrepreneurs can learn the basics of running a given business. Information and learning can be obtained through traditional schools, franchisors, books, consultants, or on the job training as an employee. Than is the matter of capital, with a bit of intelligence and careful planning, a venture can be started with limited means and grown as finances, time and ability permit. However, the actual root cause of entrepreneur failure is the non-existence of two things. There is not a passion for the work involved and/or there is not a quality, personal fit with the venture. The root cause of business success or failure is not due to a lack of knowledge or capital, it is due to a poor fit between the owner and the chosen venture. The successful entrepreneur always enjoys a good relationship with the business.
In case of Pakistan, the entrepreneurs face many challenges and problems. The factors for such low levels of entrepreneurial drive lie within our culture, bureaucracy, financial hurdles and academic perceptions of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is associated with small and cottage industries; there is a stigma with failure and a general resistance to new ideas; businesses are rooted in traditional and low value-added sectors such as textiles, rice and leather. Also, younger business communities, often educated abroad, do not have the requisite experience or financing to establish businesses, family-owned businesses are slow to adopt professional modes of management; business culture is excessively male dominated with very few women entrepreneurs or business heads. 

Other factors include corruption at practically all levels, high taxes and stringent government regulation creating unnecessary hurdles for entrepreneurial businesses. On the private sector front, multinational corporations and international banks have rapidly expanded their presence and they provide good, salaried opportunities to young professionals. The typical aspiration of an MBA student graduating from a Pakistani business school is to secure a stable job with a multinational or other large corporation where they can advance through a stable, prosperous career. However, with the growing population and fewer job openings, traditional avenues of employment are limited.

Other hurdles towards establishing independent businesses include financial barriers to entry. The venture capital industry is almost absent in Pakistan. Despite reforms initiated by the State Bank of Pakistan, access to equity and formal debt financing have not improved. Access to finance is a recurring constraint to enterprise development in Pakistan, especially in the case of new and small enterprises. 

The other major constraints in entrepreneurial growth are with regards to tax administration and tax rates, electricity, and access to financing, security, housing, capacity building and infrastructure. The list of less constraining issues includes crimes, access to land, labor regulations, and telecommunications. The issues related to financing costs, economic policy uncertainty, corruption, macroeconomic stability, customs and trade regulations, anti-competitive practices, business licensing and operating permits, skills and education of the labor force, energy efficiency and transportation are cross cutting in nature and affect all sizes of enterprises. But regarding tax issues and electricity, medium firms express the strongest complaints, followed by large firms, small firms, and micro firms. However, small firms complain most about for access to the finances. 

In such scenarios the government should eliminate the barriers to entrepreneurship by providing infrastructure, defense, land, education. Such set ups should be provided which encourage start-ups and support existing small and medium size enterprise by enabling them to adapt innovative strategies and technologies and thus compete more effectively at the global level. The educated, young, and emerging entrepreneurs need to take the lead and be encouraged to become the vanguard of Pakistan’s economic growth.

BY Anum Batool first publish at HWeb

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

20 FACTS OF PAKISTAN – We are proud of #PakistanZindabad

We all hear and read about how people criticize and insult Pakistan, and unfortunately there are times when we cannot blame most of the reasons due to the increasing violence. But if there’s one thing I’ve been taught, it’s never to generalize. The good points of Pakistan have been hidden in this layer of violence. Lets reconsider our potential by reviewing our past/present achievements.

1. In the last five years, Pakistan’s literacy rate has grown by 250%, the largest increase in any country to date.
2. Pakistan is the first Islamic country to attain nuclear power.
3. Edhi is running the World’s largest Ambulance network.
4. World’s youngest certified Microsoft Experts Arfa Kareem and Babar Iqbal are from Pakistan.
5. Pakistan has the sixth largest military force in the world.
6. Pakistan’s national anthem tune ranks first in the top three tunes of the world.
7. Fourth largest broadband internet system of world is in Pakistan
8. World’s largest deep sea port is Gwadar.
9. About 50% of the world’s footballs are made in Pakistan.
10. Pakistan is notable for having one of the best trained air-force pilots in the world.
11. Pakistan has world’s youngest civil judge, Muhammad Illyas.
12. The highest railway station of Asia is in Pakistan.
13. First PC virus was created by two Pakistani brothers. (Maybe not something to be very proud of, but it still might have required an impressive level of intellect to do so).
14. Dr. Abdus Salam – Nobel prize winner (Physics 1979).
15. LUMS (Lahore University of Management Sciences) attracts students from Middle East, the Far East, Central Asia, and other parts of South Asia.
16. Ustaad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, hailed as the most important Qawwali singer of the 20th century and received many awards around the globe such as The “Legends” award at the UK Asian Music Awards (2005).
17. World’s 7th largest Pool of Scientists and Engineer.
18. The Shah Faisal Mosque in Islamabad can accommodate almost 100000 worshipers. Completed in 1976, it could at that time probably hold the city’s entire population.
19. Karakoram Highway runs through the northern areas connecting Pakistan with China’s Xingjiang province is often described as ” Eighth Wonder of the World” due to the marvel of civil engineering as it has taken 15 years to complete by the Pakistan Army Engineers in collaboration with China. It’s been labeled as ” World’s highest paved international Road” under world’s toughest terrain.
20. Air Commodore MM ALAM has a world record of shooting down 5 planes in less than a Minute.

Despite all the mishaps, destruction and loss, we’ve shown alot of progress. We still have time to improve more since hoaxes such as Y2K and 21st December 2012 actually did turn out to be a false alarm. One of the most amazing facts which people are seeing is that a majority is protesting the violence.

We want to change. And since we’re still living let’s bring out the best of us and our country. Ameen!

Pakistan Zinda Baad.