How to Be a Healthier and Happier Entrepreneur in 2015

Nothing could be more exciting than following your dreams and launching your own business. Yet all too often, that initial excitement is dampened by the realities of running a company. It takes hard work, and with too many long days and late nights, entrepreneurs become tense, burnt out, and unhappy.

If any of this sounds familiar, let’s make a pact to be happier, healthier, and better entrepreneurs this year. If you think that happiness is overrated in business, research from the University of California at Riverside found that happy people are more successful in many areas of life. It makes sense: when you’re in a good mood, you’re more confident, energetic, and ready to take on new goals and challenges.

With this in mind, here are five ways to stay happy, healthy, and sane amidst the inevitable stress and road bumps in the entrepreneur’s year.

1. Don’t get bogged down in the negative
When it’s your own business and you are passionate about what to do, it’s only natural that you take each critique personally. But keep in mind that for an entrepreneur, rejection is just part of the game. I can assure you that whenever you put something out for the world to see, there will be some kind of bad news or criticism…for example, your blog post may get a few negative comments; or your application for an incubator program or loan is rejected.

If you dwell on each rejection or critique, you’ll get bogged down in bitterness. Rather, you need to remove emotion and your own pride from the situation. Think objectively about the criticism and see if there’s anything to learn. Then, make the necessary changes and move on.

2. Get more sleep
Whether the magic number of nightly sleep is seven or eight, I know of few entrepreneurs who enjoy nearly that much sleep on a consistent basis. But we know that brains with too little sleep don’t perform as well as those that do. That’s why I’m going to make a concerted effort to improve my sleep habits this year.

Experts at the Mayo Clinic advise us to go to bed and get up at the same time every day to reinforce the body’s sleep-wake cycle. If you have trouble falling asleep, don’t force the issue. If you don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing, like reading, light stretching, or eat a light snack.

All those smartphones and tablets in the bedroom emit a glow that can throw off the sleep cycle…not to mention the disruption when you decide to check your email at 2 am. That’s why I’m making it a point to banish devices from my bedside at night.

3. Find time to exercise
When you’re an entrepreneur, trips to the gym often take a back seat to last minute projects, client meetings, and tight deadlines. However, keeping a regular exercise routine is one of the most important things you can do for your health and wellbeing. The endorphins released from physical activity help relieve stress and keep your mood up when things get tough.

If you struggle to fit exercise into your entrepreneurial schedule, find a few friends or colleagues to join you for a regular bike ride, hike, or walk. Start a challenge board at the office to track activity, or pick up a device like Fitbit or Nike Fuel. If necessary, you can even exercise at your desk.

The most important thing you can do is to treat your workouts like any other work commitment. You’re not going to break an appointment with a client, so don’t break a commitment to yourself either.

4. Work smarter, not harder
In this modern era, we take too much pride in being busy. New entrepreneurs see busyness as a sign of success. However, the most successful entrepreneurs have built a business that allows them to eat dinner with their family, have fun on the weekends, and take a vacation every now and then. In short, good entrepreneurs know how to prioritize, surround themselves with smart people, and delegate.

Conduct a time audit to see how you spend your time during an average day or week. Are you focused on the tasks that matter and that will drive your business forward? What are the key areas that you should delegate to someone else?

If your business is a one-man or one-woman show, find an assistant to help you take care of the busy work or outsource more complex matters (like bookkeeping) to a specialist. If you already have employees, think about new ways to expand their responsibilities and expertise this year.

5. Be grateful

In the chaos of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, it is very easy to lose sight of what really matters. As a result, we get stressed and grumpy. I have found that when I take the time to consciously think about all the things I am thankful for, it gives me a new perspective and I am able to embrace all the craziness.

Some people keep a gratitude journal of all the people and events they are grateful for each day. Adopting some kind of gratitude practice (whether you write it down or not) will change your mindset from complaining and dwelling on the negative to focusing on solutions and best outcomes.

6. Seize the moment
Entrepreneurship is one of the most exciting and fulfilling journeys you can take, but you need to be present and stay in the moment to enjoy the ride. Step back every once in awhile to enjoy and appreciate what you are doing right now, rather than always looking to the next thing to make you happy.

What habits do you plan on adopting this year to be healthier and happier as an entrepreneur?

How to Measure the Value of Media Coverage

The world of travel writers, journalists and travel bloggers is ever-changing. So how do public relations & media relations experts in the travel industry deal with them?

Speaking at the 15th Conference on LGBT Tourism and Hospitality at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas, I addressed this issue. The video here — and the text below — is the fourth and final installment of my presentation, specifically about how to measure the value of press coverage — and how travel organizations can add value by capitalizing on the coverage they receive and do a few things themselves.

So what’s it all worth? How do you measure the value of editorial coverage you get in a magazine, newspaper, website or blog?

Buying an ad is easier to figure out. You pay a set amount and you get an ad, and you can measure the response from there.

When it comes to media coverage, the process of measuring the return on investment can be a bit murkier. But that, of course, is not a reason to ignore the opportunities that media coverage presents.

The Value of Traditional Media Coverage
In traditional media, many people use something called Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE). That means that you can measure the amount of space dedicated to your organization or destination in the publication or on the Website, and then compare that to how much you’d pay for an advertisement of the same size.

But a lot of people say this doesn’t quite make sense. Advertising and public relations are two very different things. People respond very differently to advertising compared to editorial coverage. So you can feel free to check out ad rate cards and use that as a point of reference, but don’t expect it to be a foolproof measurement.

The Value of Coverage in Social Media and Blogs
Using AVE is even more difficult with blog posts and social media.

Instead you’ll want to monitor traffic to your own website. Google Analytics can help you do this.

You can also use tools like GroupHigh, which has created blogger intelligence software that helps you identify influential blogs, automate research and measure engagement. You can use their tracking feature to see how many times a specific blog post has been liked, shared and tweeted.

Regardless of whether it’s a blog or the website of a more traditional media outlet, you can add value yourself, by sharing, liking and tweeting the coverage you get. This is a very important thing that I find a lot of travel and tourism folks forget about. You’ve invited us as writers, we’ve created the content, you wait for the coverage to come out, but then you don’t do anything with it yourself.

Sharing a journalist’s content about your product, destination or service brings added value to your own social media strategy, by infusing it with more credibility since it’s coming from a third party. You can even ask for permission to include the writer’s coverage on your own website, complete with a link back to their site. This helps everyone — and it essentially gives you fresh, noteworthy new content to promote yourself with.

So what are you waiting for? Share those articles! Tweet and retweet! “Like” those posts and photos! It’s in your own best interest.

Custom Content and Sponsored Posts
Another option to consider when it comes to coverage is sponsored posts, which are also called custom content or native advertising. You might also call it an advertorial.

In addition to my journalistic travel writing, I’ve also been writing and managing custom content for travel industry clients since 1994. That’s way before people were using the Internet, of course, so at first I was only writing and putting together special supplements and advertorial articles that ran in publications like Travel Weekly, TravelAge West and Meetings & Conventions.

I still do that and I still work with those media outlets (among others), but I also increasingly put together web-only sponsored content and posts. I even write and moderate webinars that help to promote specific travel industry clients. This content runs on the websites of traditional trade media, and it also runs on the travel site I manage, LatinFlyer.com.

You can weigh a variety of options when it comes to custom content — and the world of blogs has made it increasingly easy to find cost-effective ways to reach highly targeted audiences. Some custom content is pure promotion, and it focuses solely on the advertiser’s product or service. Other content prominently features the advertiser, as part of a more general story — which can often attract more attention, since it’s more likely to appeal to the public. Whichever you choose, you should work closely with your media partner to create the content that best serves your needs.

Quality versus Quantity
Editorial and blog coverage isn’t just about hard numbers. It’s an ever-changing formula of weighing quality and quantity, targeting the right audience and working successfully with writers and editors.

Here’s what Karla Visconti, director of corporate communications for the Caribbean and Latin America at Hilton Worldwide, says:

“We recognize the inherent value that blogs and social media represent today. We look at the quality of content, combined with the overall social media following and engagement. Social media is very important and has to be part of the strategy. I don’t think you can choose based on one area alone; I prefer a combination of quality and quantity.”

Veronica Villegas, senior account executive and International Director at Cheryl Andrews Marketing Communications in Coral Gables, Florida, uses a variety of tools to measure effectiveness:

“There are some measuring tools that are available to PR folks such as compete.com and Klout. You also have to do your research on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. It’s not just about the number of followers one has, but the level of engagement/interaction one is able to generate. In order to quantify this, we look at the number of shares or comments that a particular article/post garners, not just the amount of likes or views/followers the page has.”

So we’re back again to the idea of quality versus quantity. As Veronica says it:

“You can have millions of followers and no engagement. That is not valuable. It’s valuable when you can start a conversation and generate interest. Having a following is also important, but the quality is certainly more significant.”

At least 26 killed in Yemen suicide bombing: security official

SANAA (Reuters) – A suicide bomber killed at least 26 people in central Yemen on Wednesday when he blew himself up at a cultural center where students were celebrating the Prophet Mohammad’s birthday, a security official said.



The Marketing to Women Landscape for 2015: Trends, Challenges and Implications

In the past, I have written blogs predicting trends for the coming year. This year, I want to focus on one trend, that of big data, and address what it means when marketing to women.

When I discuss marketing to women, I find that most managers are well aware of the economic importance of women and recognize that women influence 85 percent of all household purchase decisions. I believe that 2015 will generate a renewed interest in marketing to women. This renewed interest will be driven by big data, which will draw managers back to demographics to explain consumer decision-making. In this post, I will address the big data phenomena before cautioning managers against overusing customer demographics (e.g., gender) to understand consumption.

Big Data

The Broader Issue: Organizations will continue to focus on big data. Eighty-five percent of large organizations are unable to exploit big data for a competitive advantage, even though 4.4m jobs will be/have been created around big data (Gartner). There are many consequences of this, for example: (1) managers need to develop an information-led strategy appropriate to their own organization; (2) significant resources will be devoted to IT, and those involved in IT will have a louder voice at the “strategy table”; and (3) managers need to be careful not to lose sight of overarching questions such as “How do I better understand customers and the customer experience so as to drive innovation and grow my organization?”

The Marketing to Women Issue: Many organizations have access to increasing amounts of customer data and can identify customers based on demographics such as gender, age and ethnicity. As a result, managers quickly compare their organization’s customer demographic profiles to competitor profiles or census data and then make statements such as “we need to target more women.” In so doing, managers often overlook the principles of market segmentation… and fail to fully recognize the changing face of today’s women.

The Solution
: While big data will continue to capture the imagination of many, in addition to recalling the principles of market segmentation, managers must seek to understand the role of gender in explaining purchase decision-making for products and services marketed by their organization — both differences between men and women and differences between women.

This is why I wrote my book “Why Marketing to Women Doesn’t Work: Using Market Segmentation to Understand Customer Needs.” I’m not saying that demographics aren’t important but I am cautioning against the return to demographics as a primary driver of segmentation. One of the reasons I am careful is that demographics such as gender, age, or life stage are often only weakly correlated with consumption patterns, and purchase decision-making itself is complex in that it embraces many roles such as influencer, buyer, owner, and user.

How to Market to Women When Not All Women Are The Same

Below, I identify a number of recent trends to illustrate the changing face of today’s women. I could have added many more data points but I do hope that the message is clear — when your database identifies customers as women, are you also picking up additional data to demonstrate differences between women? What does marketing to women mean when women themselves are in a state of flux?

Recent Trends:

1. The social norm still exists that men should out earn women and they do — women, on average, earn about ¾ of what men earn. But differences are starting to appear: single childless women aged 22-30 earn more than their male counterparts in most US cities, and 37% of married women earn more than their husbands.
2. Women out-learn men. More women than men now graduate with bachelors, masters and PhD.
3. The number of women who hold positions of leadership is growing. Women now comprise 15.8% of S&P 1500 boards and hold 5.4% of Fortune 1000 CEO positions.
4. Women, especially those who are college educated, get married and have children later.
5. Women head 30% of all households. Just over 1/3 of these households are family households comprising children aged 18 years or younger.
6. The number of stay at home moms rose to 29% in 2012.

Marketing to Women Implications:

1. Income disparity between women will continue. The number of breadwinner moms is on the rise, millennial women are near pay parity, yet more women are choosing to stay at home to raise their children,. In addition, the number of single women who head family households is also on the rise and these households have less income than other households (for example, single women family households make less than 50% of what a married couple family household makes).

2. As education and income levels continue to rise, and women hold more positions of leadership within organizations, women’s influence over purchase decision-making will continue to grow. Women will demand more services to “make her life easier” (e.g., home help) and will seek more rest and relaxation (e.g., vacations, health and fitness). Women will continue to exert influence in categories that were once seen as the domain of men (e.g., cars, insurance, and alcohol) and will have a voice in categories that are still male dominant (e.g., motor sports).

3. Women will continue to juggle work and home responsibilities … but so too will men. Not only do men want to spend more time with their children but also it often makes economic sense for them to do so.

4. Joint purchase decision-making will increase. Joint decision-making is often seen as important for items such as furniture and major appliances but is filtering down to household items such as food and cleaning products because of the blurring of gender roles.

Big data is a big deal and managers now have access to consumer insights and metrics that many of us never considered possible. Demographics are of course only one data type but are perhaps the easiest to collect and link to consumer behavior. In the context of marketing to women, just because a customer can be classified as a woman does not mean that the story is told – not all women are the same and the differences between women will only continue to become more exacerbated. The challenge for 2015 then is to look for differences between women and to understand how to market to women, many of whom take on a variety of different roles.

How the loonie racked up its worst performance in six years in 2014

OTTAWA — The Canadian dollar firmed modestly against the greenback on Wednesday, finding some respite on the last day of a tough 2014 in which it racked up its worst performance in six years.

The Canadian dollar started the year as many investors’ top short position as the market expected the Bank of Canada to remain accommodative.

But after a selloff in the first three months, the loonie managed to regain some ground into the summer, only to be knocked lower again by the plunge in oil prices and a U.S. Federal Reserve that was moving closer to raising interest rates.

The Canadian dollar was down more than 8% for the year, its biggest decline since 2008, the start of the global financial crisis.

“It’s definitely been a challenging one for the loonie and is likely to continue into 2015,” said Scott Smith, senior market analyst at Cambridge Mercantile Group.

At the top of investors’ minds in 2015 will be expectations that the Fed will lift rates before the Bank of Canada does, which will spur the market to keep on favoring the greenback at the expense of the loonie.

The potential for another slide in oil prices is a big risk  for the currency as oil is a major export for Canada. Oil’s weakness continued on Wednesday with crude down US$1.10 at US$53.02 a barrel.

“The bet on the Canadian dollar is very much at this point in time a forecast on what happens for crude pricing,” said  Jack Spitz, managing director of foreign exchange at National Bank Financial.

“If you’re of the view that crude is effectively bottoming around these levels in the $50s, there’s reason to suggest that the Canadian dollar has bottomed out as well.”

It’s definitely been a challenging one for the loonie and is likely to continue into 2015

Despite oil’s drop on Wednesday, the Canadian dollar firmed, rising to a session high of $1.1565 before finishing at $1.1601 to the greenback, or 86.20 U.S. cents, according to the early official close from the Bank of Canada.

That was slightly stronger than Tuesday’s  $1.1607, or 86.15 U.S. cents.

Analysts said technical trading and year-end rebalancing in light volume were behind the loonie’s strength.

Canadian government bond prices were higher across thematurity curve, with the two-year up 1-1/2 Canadian cents to yield 1.009 % and the benchmark 10-year up 19 Canadian cents to yield 1.791 %.

© Thomson Reuters 2014

This Is Why Brands Say “Bae”

“To borrow a millennial phrase, we’re on cleek,” said Taco Bell’s incoming CEO. “Not everybody know’s what I’m talking about right now. That means you’re on point.”

In the eyes of young people, Taco Bell is “on cleek,” its incoming CEO told investors on a call earlier this month, explaining that it’s millennial speak for “on point.”

w.soundcloud.com

A new Twitter account, @BrandsSayingBae, delighted the Internet this week, calling out chains from IHOP to Taco Bell for imitating teen vernacular on social media as part of their earnest pursuit for consumer engagement — a holy grail sought through “baes” and “on fleeks.”

The screenshots are entertaining, poking fun at Jimmy John's for replies like “whatcha waitin for bae,” or Applebee's for tweeting “#WontonTacos on fleek.” The account's bio reads, sarcastically: “It's cool when a corporation tweets like a teenager. It makes me want to buy the corporation's products.”

@BrandsSayingBae's current location, according to its bio: Hell.


View Entire List ›

Senate Republicans set hearing to approve Keystone XL legislation

A U.S. Senate committee soon to be led by Republicans will hold a hearing next week on legislation to approve TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline, bypassing the current review by the Obama administration.

The energy committee hearing on Jan. 7, a day after Congress reconvenes, will help get a Keystone measure “to the floor as soon as possible,” Robert Dillon, a spokesman for the panel, said Wednesday in an e-mail.

Keystone, proposed in 2008 to carry oil sands from Alberta to U.S. refineries along the Gulf of Mexico coast, has fuelled a debate over jobs, energy security and the environment. Backers say it will create jobs and reduce U.S. reliance on imported oil. Environmentalists say the pipeline would worsen climate change by encouraging development of oil sands, which are more carbon intensive than other forms of oil.

President Barack Obama’s administration is continuing its review, though a final recommendation after environmental reviews has been paused until resolution of a court challenge to the pipeline’s path in Nebraska.

Pipeline supporters came within a vote of passing on Nov. 18 a similar measure that would let TransCanada build the cross-border project, as proposed. The Senate bill failed even with pressure from co-sponsor and Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu, who cajoled colleagues to back the measure as a boost to her re-election. Landrieu lost a run-off election on Dec. 6.

Senator Mitch McConnell, incoming majority leader, has vowed to make Keystone the first bill passed in 2015. House Speaker John Boehner also plans to push a bill.

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who takes over as energy committee chairman after Republicans won control of the Senate, intends to move quickly to get action on the bill, Dillon said. A vote by the full chamber probably won’t occur until after Obama’s State of the Union speech on Jan. 20.

Democratic Representatives Peter DeFazio of Oregon, Frank Pallone of New Jersey and Raul Grijalva of Arizona in a letter Tuesday asked Boehner not to rush a vote on the bill.

“It is our understanding that you may schedule” a vote “during the first two weeks” of the Congress, they wrote.

Bloomberg News

What’s Coming From Apple in 2015: Apple Watch, iPad Pro, iPhone 6s, 12-Inch MacBook and More

Thanks to the iPhone 6, the iPad Air 2, the iPad mini 3, OS X Yosemite, and iOS 8, 2014 was a major year for Apple. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus brought new screen sizes and a radical redesign, while iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite introduced deep integration between Apple’s mobile and desktop operating systems.

The past year has seen an impressive display of innovation and new ideas, but upcoming product releases and rumors suggest that 2015 may be an even more monumental year for Apple.

Along with the Apple Watch, which Apple has said will launch in early 2015, we will likely see major updates across the Mac lineup due to the availability of Intel’s next-generation Broadwell chips. An Apple TV update has long been in the works and could see a 2015 debut, and as it has done every year, Apple will undoubtedly update its iPad and iPhone lineup, along with releasing new versions of iOS and OS X.

As we did last year, we’ve highlighted Apple’s prospective 2015 product plans, outlining what we might see from Apple over the course of the next 12 months based on current rumors.

Apple Watch (Early to Mid 2015)

Announced in September of 2014, the Apple Watch (or Watch) is Apple’s first wearable device and one of the first Apple products that may launch during 2015. Available in two sizes of 38mm and 42mm, the Apple Watch has a heavy focus on fashion and will be offered in six different casing materials with a range of interchangeable band options.

applewatch1
The Apple Watch is an amazing design feat, with a tiny S1 processor that integrates several different components onto one tiny chip, including a gyroscope, accelerometer, and a heart rate monitor. It has a unique haptic feedback system for relaying notifications, and it uses Force Touch to allow for a new range of contextually specific controls.

Apple’s wearable device is not a standalone device and is in fact heavily reliant on the iPhone. Many apps are powered entirely by the iPhone in order to preserve battery, and the watch relies on the iPhone for functions like GPS and relaying notifications.

We have a detailed roundup that covers all of the Apple Watch features, but there are many unknowns about the device that won’t be revealed until its release. Pricing, for one, is ambiguous. Apple has said the lower-end Sport models will sell for $349, but the price of the higher-end models has yet to be shared. Speculation has suggested that the solid gold Edition watches could sell for upwards of a thousand dollars.

The other major unknown about the Apple Watch is its battery life, but it seems that it will need to be charged on a near daily basis. According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, people will use the device so much that it will need to be charged each day, much like other smart watches on the market.

We don’t know when the Apple Watch will be released, but at its debut, Apple said the device would launch in “early 2015.” Subsequent comments from retail chief Angela Ahrendts have hinted at a spring release, indicating a launch could come between March and June of 2015. Other rumors have corroborated her timeline, with Apple employees reportedly commenting that Apple would be “lucky” to ship the device in February.

Click to read the full Apple Watch roundup

iPad Pro (Mid to Late 2015)

The major iPad product that could come in 2015 is the iPad Pro, a 12.2 to 12.9-inch tablet that may be aimed at enterprise customers. Rumors have failed to come to a solid conclusion on screen size, suggesting Apple could be experimenting with multiple sizes for the larger tablet, but they seem to agree that a bigger device is definitely in the works.


Apple’s rumored larger-screened tablet has been dubbed the “iPad Pro” by the media, but a recent rumor has suggested it could also be called the “iPad Air Plus.”

Rumors on the iPad Pro are somewhat scarce, but it’s believed the tablet will closely resemble the iPad Air 2, offering a thin chassis and slim bezels. It may measure in at 7mm and it will likely include several iPad Air 2 features like 2GB of RAM, Touch ID, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

Rumors have disagreed on the device’s processor, with some pointing towards an A8X iPad Air 2 processor and others suggesting the “Pro” device will come equipped with a new A9 processor. Apple’s iPad Pro may also ship with an “ultra” high-resolution display and speakers and microphones and both the top and bottom edges of the device for stereo audio.

iPad updates have traditionally come in the fall, but with a new tablet in the mix, a launch date is up in the air. Current rumors indicate mass production of the iPad Pro has been delayed in order to allow Apple suppliers to focus on building up supply of the iPhone 6 Plus, but a recent report suggests it could launch between April and June of 2015.

Click to read the full iPad Pro roundup
Continue reading “What’s Coming From Apple in 2015: Apple Watch, iPad Pro, iPhone 6s, 12-Inch MacBook and More”