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The U.S. Army is working to both leverage the advantages of cloud migration and simultaneously ensure data security, taking on what could be characterized as a paradox.

Cloud migration, which is expanding throughout the service at lightning speed, naturally brings a host of previously unprecedented advantages such as more ubiquitous data access, broader information sharing and what could be called a nearly instant ability to pull down the data needed to make time-sensitive combat decisions. For instance, multiple nodes across a dispersed attack formation could simultaneously access vital intelligence stored on a centralized server. The cloud advantage is often described as “centralized” information with “decentralized” networking, execution and information transmission.

“Munitions are sensors, air vehicles are sensors… I just see a plethora of sensors. It all comes down to the data. When you talk about the cloud, it is about having someplace for that data to go where it is successful. All that data has to be available and then it is all about having the ability to get the right data out of the cloud to the right shooter through the right C2 [Command and Control] node, so that then you don’t have these massive bandwidth requirements on every platform everywhere,” General John Murray, Commander, Army Futures Command, told The National Interest in an interview.

PENTAGON APPROACHES MASSIVE NEW AI, MACHINE LEARNING BREAKTHROUGH

Murray, and his counterpart Bruce Jette, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics & Technology), are working to accelerate cloud migration while also offsetting additional security risks potentially introduced by the process. In addition to massively expediting crucial warzone networking, the cloud can also present vulnerabilities by virtue of there being widespread access for potential intruders should they be able to breach a single point of entry. Part of the answer or approach to this challenge, intended to maximize cloud benefit while reducing risk, is to implement data-transfer organization and scaling.

A U.S. Army Combat Action Badge is pinned on the uniform of a soldier during an awards ceremony for soldiers with 4th Squadron 2nd Cavalry Regiment on March 7, 2014 near Kandahar, Afghanistan. 

A U.S. Army Combat Action Badge is pinned on the uniform of a soldier during an awards ceremony for soldiers with 4th Squadron 2nd Cavalry Regiment on March 7, 2014 near Kandahar, Afghanistan. 
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“If you think about what a cloud is, it is a server with hard drives that can run programs remotely or transfer data via some network. I don’t always want to download all the data, but only the most appropriate information,” Jette told The National Interest in an interview.

Jette explained the dual-pronged approach in terms of transferring data from the “foxhole to the Pentagon” in a survivable way, an effort which benefits from efficiently structuring the data. Part of this emphasis is informed and strengthened by fast-growing applications of AI and computer automation which can instantly gather, discern and organize which data might be most in need for a particular combat scenario. Advanced, high-speed algorithms with instant or near real-time access to vast pools of data can bounce requests or new information against seemingly limitless amounts of information, quickly perform the needed analytics and prioritize the data needed for a specific scenario. This not only streamlines communication but also prevents larger pools of data from being more vulnerable to enemy penetration.

NEW SMALL US AIR FORCE SATELLITES COULD COUNTER CHINESE SPACE WEAPONS

For example, a small, dismounted infantry unit on the move might have occasion to immediately access combat-critical intelligence data stored on a far-away computer system; perhaps there are documents pertaining to enemy weapons, movements or historic tendencies potentially of great value to attacking forces. Cloud connectivity can massively impact the tactical equation in circumstances like this, all while reducing the need for a large, forward-positioned hardware footprint.

“By properly scaling where you retain data and how much you replicate and update the protocols you can mitigate a lot of the risk issues that are there today,” Jette said.

Also, as part of this complete equation, there are instances wherein cloud utilization can add additional security benefits through software updates and increased virtualization. By moving beyond a more singular focus on perimeter security or hardware, cybersecurity initiatives can have a wide reach across the cloud through virtualized improvements. In essence, software upgrades can impact an entire network versus a more narrowly-configured application.

Jette, who oversees somewhere between 600 and 800 acquisition programs, addressed the now long-standing ASA ALT (Assistant Secretary of the Army Acquisition, Logistics and Technology) effort to engineer cyber resiliency into technical systems early in the developmental process; the intention of the initiative is to anticipate threats, harden weapons functionality and ensure prototypes are engineered to meet the requirements threshold they will ultimately need to reach prior to combat.

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“On the cybersecurity side we have an extensive effort in firewalls, layered defenses, layered detection defenses encryption in transit and at rest so cybersecurity is preeminent in our application of these types of systems,” he said.

— Kris Osborn is the Managing Editor of Warrior Maven and The Defense Editor of The National Interest –

Business Achievement Awards


7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


There is a certain appeal to owning your business, but it can be daunting to open a storefront when you have no clout and no name recognition. Fortunately, there is a way to have your cake and eat it too, which over a quarter million business owners are doing today: owning your own franchise business location.

Being an owner in a franchise means instant name recognition (think McDonald’s) as well as support from not only the corporate entity, but fellow franchise owners just like you that have gone through the startup process and can help you along the way. Yes, you will lose some autonomy to the business you own — you can’t just start selling blankets at your McDonald’s location — but it’s a small price to pay for owning your piece of a business with a clearly established track record.

So how do you get started? Here are the five steps to becoming a franchise owner yourself.

1. Do every last bit of your homework

Just because you want to buy into an existing chain doesn’t mean you don’t have to do a massive amount of research. While the success/failure rate of franchise businesses is highly disputed (there hasn’t been a reliable survey in over a decade), one-sixth to one-fifth of franchise businesses won’t survive to the 5-year mark. Like opening any business, there is risk involved, but it can be highly mitigated with good planning.

Some of the most important questions you want to answer:

  • Does the franchise I want to be a part of have a good success rate? Not all franchises have equal survival rates. Here is a list of the top 50 best and worst ones according to their default rates for small business loans. For example, H&R Block is the 10th best with a 13.89 percent rate of defaults. Meanwhile, Athlete’s Foot was the 16th worst with a 61.54 percent default rate. Make sure the franchise you choose has a history of success.

  • Do you have the finances to get started? It takes tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars just to get started with a new franchise location. In fact, the average fast food chain requires applicants to have a minimum net worth of about $1 million. We’ll touch more on financing later, but if you don’t have a good amount of liquid assets, you won’t be able to afford opening up a branch.

  • Do you have good credit? You will probably take out a small business loan to finance the franchise. Make sure sure credit history is in good standing in order to secure the loan amount you will need.

  • Do you have the right location? Perhaps the second most important aspect of success (second only to the next point) is the location of your business. Do your research to see the level of foot traffic, nearby competition, available parking, and what may be built 1-5 years around the area that can help or hurt your franchise.

  • Do you have the passion? Like opening any business, you’ll have to put in long hours and a ton of work to make it a success. If you don’t have the passion for food service, opening a chain restaurant may not be for you. Don’t just pick a familiar brand name and run with it. Make sure your passion and interest align with your franchise choice, or you’ll never put in the work you need to in order to succeed.

Be diligent about your homework. Talk to financiers, other owners in the area, and especially other franchise owners of your chosen chain.

Related: 7 Things You Need to Know Before Becoming a Franchise Owner

2. Incorporate or form an LLC

If someone gets injured at your new gym location, you don’t want your retirement nest egg to be on the line. Also, you will be able to get better tax advantages if you form an LLC or corporation.

Most franchisors actually require owners to incorporate into some business entity. Usually, forming an LLC is the best way to go. LLCs are not actually corporations and thus have more freedom to structure their taxes to best suit your financial needs. They are also somewhat easier to manage since reporting and paperwork requirements are less stringent than S- and C-corp entities. However, there is no one-size-fits-all option and it’s best to speak with a business lawyer (this stage is a great time to connect with a business lawyer) about your specific business needs.

Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Small-Business Structures

3. Inquire and apply to the franchisor

Now that you have your LLC or corporation established, it’s time to formally apply for a franchise license from the franchisor. All brands open to franchising will have a section on their website to learn more about their requirements and how to get started. McDonald’s, for example, has a simple FAQ section that plainly states that you will need $500,000 in liquid assets and that the initial franchise fee is $45,000. And usually, you will be able to apply online as well.

Unless your application is flat-out rejected from the start, expect the franchisor to run credit and background checks on you and your business entity. They might ask for additional proof of assets as well.

Often, you will receive an invite to a “Discovery Day” where you can meet the franchisors involved and get a chance to ask questions and learn more. This is also their opportunity to learn more about you as well before deciding to bring you onboard as a business partner. It can be an intense “job interview,” so to speak, so be prepared by asking current franchise owners what the day might involve.

If all goes well, you will receive the franchise agreement that gives you the legal right to open a branch for you (and definitely your lawyer) to review.

4. Obtain financing

Of course, before you sign, you need to make sure you have the cash to get started. Now that you’ve basically been approved, it’s time to figure out the best way to obtain the financing you need to cover the franchise and startup fees.

The first place to inquire is to your franchiser. Large chains like a McDonald’s should have well-established relationships with banks and lending institutions to help you get lower loan rates than you may be able to get yourself.

You can also go directly to these institutions to acquire startup loans for a new business or even inquire with the Small Business Association for their recommendations or loan service.

If you are willing to tap into your retirement 401(k) or IRA (and have established a C-corp), you can use that for a Rollovers as Business Startups (ROBS). It’s a somewhat risky financial move that can be considered by people in the right financial place to take on such a risk.

Whichever way you go, once you have secured the funds, then you can sign the agreement. Congratulations! That just leaves…

5. Everything else

The hard part is just beginning. You’re starting (or taking over) a franchise business, after all. Build out your location according to the guidelines from the franchiser, hire and train your team of workers, and put your business plan into action.

You’ll have the benefit of brand name recognition and the support of the franchisor to help drive business to your new location. If you’ve done all the previous steps well, your franchise business will be in a great position to succeed for many years to come.

Related: Learn The Initial Steps To Launch Your Business For Free

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Business Achievement Awards

LeBron gets out the vote, Breonna finds some justice, Tucker loses Big Telecom, and Trump has decided to celebrate Juneteenth in Tulsa.

But first, your super meta Haiku-inspired week in review, in Haiku.

Coronavirus
has five syllables! What a
revelation for

the brand-new poets
who are, quite literally,
on the struggle bus.

Essential workers
have turned to lightweight verse to
help them with stress, grief.

Just like I did long
ago! Some truth and peace in
three beautiful lines:

“Stress riding the subway
Questions without answers
Not workers fault”

Wishing you a truthful and peaceful “weekend.”

Ellen McGirt
@ellmcgirt
Ellen.McGirt@fortune.com

Business Achievement Awards

Cybercrimes are on the rise with hackers and scammers chomping at the bit for a shot at your system. There’s one tool that should be on all computers.

IBM Security, Packet Clearing House and The Global Cyber Alliance have a free service to protect you from accessing sketchy websites that spread malware, steal personal information and engage in fraudulent activity. Tap or click here to use this free security tool on your Windows or Mac computers.

But hackers may have already compromised your network. Tap or click here for a free test to see if your router has been hacked.

1. Keep everything up to date

Security threats are continually evolving, which is why you need to keep your browser updated. Updates help protect you from the latest spreading viruses and attacks. Tap or click here to find out if you are using the latest version of your browser.

Even more important, update your operating system regularly. Windows releases frequent (though sometimes buggy) updates and missing any can mean severe consequences for your security. The same goes for Macs.

Most Windows PCs download and install updates automatically by default. If you haven’t changed your automatic update settings, you might not need to change a thing. If you’ve turned automatic updates off, you can update manually.

Apple’s macOS receives its updates through the Mac App Store. Open the App Store app, click Updates. Tap Update to download and install.

2. Test your firewall

Even if cybercriminals can see your network, a firewall helps to prevent them from getting inside and doing any damage. Make sure your firewall is on.

For Windows, open Settings > Update & Security. Choose Windows Security from the left-hand menu. Choose Firewall & Network Protection to open the firewall menu.

Your system will tell you whether your firewall is on or not. If it’s off, you can toggle it on or reset the settings to default by clicking on Restore firewalls to default.

For Mac, open System Preferences, then click Security and Privacy. Click the Lock Icon to make changes and enter your admin username and password. Then select Turn on Firewall.

One more important step

Tap or click here to test that your firewall is actually working. These port scans will make sure you’re keeping bad actors out of your system.

3. Remove extra browser add-ons and hosts files in Windows

Most browser extensions are safe-to-use tools that enhance your internet experience, but some are malicious. Regularly comb through your list of extensions and remove any you don’t recognize or don’t use anymore.

In Chrome: Visit the Chrome Web Store menu to see a list of all your currently installed extensions. Remove them by clicking Remove from Chrome. Click the Library tab and delete the extension from there as well.

In Firefox: Click on the three-line menu button and click Add-ons, followed by Extensions. Scroll through the list of extensions and click the three-dot icon next to the extensions you want to remove. Select Remove to delete them from your browser.

In Safari: Choose Safari > Preferences, then click Extensions. To turn off an extension, deselect its checkbox. To uninstall an extension, select the extension and click the Uninstall button.

Tip in a Tip: When it comes to browsers, some are better than others. Tap or click here for a comparison of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge and Tor.

Windows users should check the hosts file to see if attackers have made any unusual configurations. This file can override your DNS and redirect URLs to different locations, like malicious websites.

Type the Window Key + R on your keyboard and paste C:WindowsSystem32driversetchosts into it.

In the pop-up menu that appears, select Notepad to open the file. Scroll through and note any unusual or garbled looking text. Copy the data contained here into another text document as a backup, and delete the unusual entries. Click File, then Save to make the changes.

4. See who else is using your Wi-Fi

Network intruders can slow down your internet speed and interfere with your data. It’s worth knowing who else might be logged in and using it.

To see all the devices connected to your network, open your router’s settings menu. To do this, type your IP address into the address bar of your web browser. You can usually find this address on the sticker attached to the bottom of your router, but most use the default address of 192.168.1.1.

Or you can tap or click here for a handy website that lists default IP addresses for thousands of different routers.

Then, log in with your username and password. This is the default username and password for your router or a unique login you created when you set it up. If you’re unsure what your login is, you can call your ISP for assistance.

When you’re logged into your router settings, look for an option that looks like “Attached Devices, “Connected Devices” or “Client List.” It shows you all the devices using your connection.

Scroll through the list and note anything that you don’t recognize. Usually, you can kick them off from this menu as well.

SAVE SOME CASH: You’re probably paying more than you need to for internet. Tap or click here for seven smart ways to lower your monthly bill.

5. Hide your Wi-Fi network from public view

By default, your router broadcasts its network name (SSID) for you and your guests to find easily. This also means anyone looking for your network can attempt to join. You can stop it from broadcasting its connection, so only people who know your router’s exact name can attempt to join.

To do this, log into your router’s settings and locate the menu for wireless settings. Look for the broadcasting option for your SSID, which is most often enabled by default. Toggle that option off.

Make sure you write down your SSID before disabling the broadcast. Otherwise, you might find yourself locked out of your network.

With a little work, you can make your network a whole lot safer. My advice? Take some time to secure your connection. Your future self will thank you.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

Copyright 2020, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.

Business Achievement Awards


6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


When I first started out as a speaker and coach back in 2001, I thought getting paid to speak was something completely out of reach for a “regular” guy like myself. I thought you had to be a famous football coach or a five-time New York Times best-selling author.

But as I’ve learned over the years, getting paid speaking engagements is not as hard as you might think. Why? Because outside of professional sports, where they draft college players into the pro ranks, professional speaking is one of the few industries where “the powers that be” have a vested interest in bringing in new folks.

In other words, if I’m a meeting planner, there’s no way I can bring in the same speakers to this year’s annual conference as I did last year. To the participants, unless I bring in new names and faces on an annual basis, it looks like I’m not doing my job.

So if I’m a meeting planner with an all-day event coming up — say, two keynotes (morning and lunch) and eight breakouts — then I’ve got a total of 10 slots to fill. But as we already said, I can’t use the same 10 folks I had last year, or from the year before. Meaning that for my 2020 conference, I need to find Competent Paid Speakers #21 through #30 from my list. And that’s the challenge that every meeting planner faces for every conference, every year.

Let’s say there is a total of 100 events annually you could potentially speak at based on your expertise. And since this isn’t year one of the conference, the meeting planners for those events already hired the first 1,000 speakers in 2018 (remember: two keynotes plus eight breakouts = 10 speaking slots, times the 100 total events) and the next 1,000 in 2019, because they can’t hire the same folks twice. Meaning that if you’re the 2,001st decent speaker in your field that meeting planners are aware of, and you can get on their radar, then you too have a shot at getting paid to speak for their next upcoming event.

This is an over-simplified example, but I think you get the idea: You can actually get paid to speak without being some super-famous person. So what can you do right now to start getting paid speaking engagements? I’m glad you asked.

Related: The Most Obvious (But Still Unusual) Way to Engage More Qualified Prospects

Step 1: Create a compelling title for your talk

I can’t emphasize this enough, because for most speakers this is where they get tripped up. Think of the title for your talk as the speaking equivalent to the cover of a book. And while we all know that you don’t want to judge a book by its cover, I think it’s fair to say that a good-looking cover and an interesting title go a long way towards you picking up any book from the shelf.

The same is true for meeting planners. They look at hundreds of potential speakers a month, so you want to have a title that jumps off the page. Personally, I’m a “how to” man myself. “How to Overachieve Without Over-Committing” and “How to Talk So Others Will Listen” are a couple of titles I use a lot.  Turns out that when you use “how to” for solving a relevant problem people have, meeting planners are interested.

Step 2: Create a client-attracting description of your talk

After creating a compelling title, the next thing to work on is the actual description of your talk, and this doesn’t have to be hard either. As long as you can describe your topic in the context of a problem that your talk will solve for audience members, then you’ll be fine. Here’s an example from my talk on “How Overachieve Without Over-Committing”.

Do ever feel like you’ve got so much going on that you’re not sure where to start, let alone whether or not you’ll get everything done? Well say no more, as popular speaker and best-selling author Brian Hilliard shares some tips and tricks for getting stuff done … without killing yourself in the process!

See what I did? I wrote the description in the context of a problem that I believe a lot of people face, and then I presented my talk as a potential solution. Pretty straightforward, right?

Step 3: Start branding yourself as a paid speaker

Before you hire a fancy PR Firm to start “branding” yourself as a paid speaker, let’s just step back a bit. All I’m talking about is having a page on your website that successfully positions you as a paid speaker.  Here’s what that page can look like:

  • A professional headshot;
  • A description of your talk(s);
  • Your bio;
  • A list of some clients and/or speaking appearances you’ve previously had (optional); and
  • Some video of you actually speaking to an audience.

And that’s it. Our only objective here is to show people that you do this for a living, and that if they hire you, they can rest assured that you’re a competent professional who not only knows what they’re talking about, but can deliver that information in an entertaining manner.

Related: This Simple Change Can Make More Prospects Say ‘Yes’ to Your Offers

The bottom line is that getting paid to speak doesn’t have to be hard. It can be, but like most things in life, it doesn’t have to be. If you really do want to get out there and start getting paid speaking gigs, you really only need to do a few things to get moving, because make no mistake about it: Someone right now with similar expertise is getting paid to speak. And my question is: Why can’t that person be you?

 

Business Achievement Awards


7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Proof that pandemics can accelerate innovation can be found as far back as the Black Death in Europe during the 1300s. The Plague eventually forced the people of the Late Middle Ages to reassess their medical practices — which were previously rooted in religion — and adapt them in favor of a more scientific approach, thereby moving the world towards modern medicine. 

Of course, the medical field is ripe for innovative ideas and tools to combat the novel coronavirus. It’s why we’re already seeing tech startups leverage AI as an effective tool during the pandemic. 

One of the earliest examples of this came on Dec. 31, when BluDot, a company tracking the spread of infectious diseases using artificial intelligence, informed their clients of a collection of pneumonia-related cases in Wuhan, China, a week before the World Health Organization announced the discovery of the novel coronavirus.

Perhaps one of the best ways AI can combat COVID-19 might be in its ability to help researchers predict the evolution of the virus. This could come in the form of learning algorithms that simulate the different ways the virus can evolve, allowing researchers to add potential vaccines to the algorithm to test against each mutation. It’s an idea already posited by Ahmer Inam, Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer at Pactera Edge, and it speaks to AI’s potential to help the medical field get ahead of the virus as it continues to evolve. Then there is India’s COVID-19 Contact Tracing App, which uses a phone’s Bluetooth and GPS systems to alert any app user in the country who has come in the vicinity of a COVID-19 infected person. 

In addition to these, there is the PACT project at MIT, which performs contact tracing while preserving individual privacy. More great minds are adding possible solutions to the world. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Human Vaccines Project announced the Human Immunomics Initiative that will use A.I. models to accelerate vaccine development. And, as always, we can look to Slovenia for innovation. There, Telekom Slovenije upgraded its existing telemedicine solution to help healthcare professionals remotely monitor COVID-19 patients continuously and round the clock.

These examples of AI solutions already being applied to the coronavirus aren’t to suggest tech and AI startups don’t have challenges they must overcome to avoid ending up in the startup cemetery. Some of those challenges are all too familiar, including the usual difficulties companies face in integrating new technology and the challenges start-ups face in predicting time-to-market or time-to-ROI. 

Further, many of these companies will face internal challenges rooted in either cultural barriers that slow adoption within enterprises, or in selling their efforts to their C-suite and getting full leadership buy-in, a necessary step for the proper allocation of resources needed to support innovation and new technological endeavors.

Related: 3 Tips to Find a Good AI Partner for Your Recovery

What can we learn from the entrepreneurs already adjusting to COVID-19?

There are steps AI-centered entrepreneurs can take to pivot now and come out on the other end of this pandemic stronger, more viable, and ahead of their peers. Here are five ways you can position your company to be the one your clients turn to a crisis.

1. Aim for less integration, data access and onboarding.

Overcoming deployment challenges should be a primary focus for entrepreneurs in the immediate future. Entrepreneurs will need to determine how they can rely on less access to data and require less integration but get the same or better results for their clients. The speed-bumps of internal bureaucracy can slow companies. Certainly, larger corporations face these impediments.

However, successful tech start-ups and AI entrepreneurs can streamline the onboarding process for their clients. One way to do that is to explore what data is most similar across clients and focus on streamlining that area. Once you remove the friction inherent in the integration and automation of key business processes with your clients, you’ll be able to push more quickly for the adoption of new technological practices and tools.

2. Listen for the core issues, then define the new normal.

You can outsource ideas for innovation by relying on your customers. After all, the products and services you innovate will inevitably be developed to fill a need for your clients. 

Talk to your customers to find out what problems they’re most concerned about as well as what they feel their new normal looks like. Do they feel like the economy is going to rebound? Your clients have been told they’re living in “unprecedented times” with an “uncertain future.” Those are empty phrases, and your clients are still left worrying about the health and wealth of their families, teams and businesses. By reviewing existing pipelines on a person-to-person level, you truly listen to your customers, receive their worries and better determine where AI solutions can help to address those concerns.

As your customers define the new normal, you can change your value propositions to match the priorities of the market they’re describing, ultimately allowing you to add value where opportunities present themselves.

Related: 4 Ways AI Is Making the World a Safer Place

3. Don’t be a savior — focus on one problem at a time.

Of course, your clients will not run short on potential problems worth worrying about. Still, don’t adopt a savior mentality and attempt to address all of your clients’ concerns with one or multiple AI solutions concurrently. Adding more to the equation works against streamlining integration, ultimately keeping you from employing new solutions quicker.

Instead, start by identifying a single, meaningful problem you can solve for your client. And be sure to have COVID-19 in mind to be sensitive when pitching these solutions. Then, take this same approach with each client – employing this strategy across your clientele. That’s not to say you offer a boilerplate approach to each customer, nor should you fall into the trap of promoting AI-based solutions as a way to intrigue your client or raise the price of doing business. Don’t lose sight of the goal, which is to provide solutions swiftly and present the value of your AI solutions to your customers.

4. Use your entrepreneurial skills to help the most vulnerable.

You can help save the world during a time like this. According to the World Economic Forum, social entrepreneurs have helped nearly 622 million people over the past 20-plus years, improving lives by providing innovative solutions to ever-present issues such as providing improved access to health, sanitation, education and energy. What are the issues you see facing our most vulnerable? Of these issues, which ones will not be solved through governmental response? Focus on those, and you will make a true difference in lives. 

5. Lastly, but mostly, be proactive and resilient.

The AI solutions you’ve already seen implemented in response to COVID-19 illustrate why entrepreneurs are well-positioned to be the most resilient players during the pandemic. Still, those who thrive post-pandemic will embrace a proactive and resilient — as opposed to reactive — approach. Entrepreneurs, large enterprises and the world at large can’t afford to use current insecurities about an unknown future as an excuse to be reactive.

So, dwell less on the immediate inhibitors to production like disrupted supply chains and cash flow, and instead, find opportunities for your next competitive advantage without losing sight of potential long-term wins. And remember that a proactive, entrepreneurial mindset means looking for new ways to operate and innovate in these “challenging times.” 

Those who can innovate are more likely to find success.

Business Achievement Awards

The economy is reopening, so make sure you’re not closed off to these survival strategies.


5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Due to the devastating impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the restaurant industry, one of my coaching clients, Alex, an entrepreneurial executive who served as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) in a regional chain of 24 diners in the Northeast, wanted to explore switching to a different industry.

Alex turned to me as her executive coach and asked for my guidance in early March, before the lockdown fully took hold. I recommended a five-step decision-making process that addresses the dangerous judgment errors we make called cognitive biases, which devastate our decision-making in both our professional and personal life. And now I’m going to share them with you.                    

Step 1: Gather information from a wide variety of informed perspectives

Alex and I settled on a list of people she would turn to, including:

  • Professional colleagues and mentors in the restaurant industry
  • Contacts in other industries such as vendors to her restaurant chain
  • Family members impacted by her potential switch
  • Her accountant
  • Executives in her network who shifted to another industry

Related: Finding Jobs and Building Careers in the Age Of COVID-19 and Beyond 

Step 2: Decide your goals and develop a clear decision-making process

With the data she had on hand, I asked Alex to come up with a list of critical goals, which should address underlying issues as well. We identified three:

  • To make sure that within a year, she had a role that would pay her at least 75 percent of the salary that she was getting as COO of the restaurant chain 
  • To ensure that she had substantial room for career growth if she did make the switch
  • To satisfy her entrepreneurial orientation, Alex wanted a role conducive to innovation

We then came up with a number of criteria relevant for the switch and ranked them on her priorities, with 1 at the low end and 10 at the high end:

  • Salary in a year (8)
  • Innovation opportunity (5)
  • Room for growth (6)
  • Stability for the industry and the company in the foreseeable medium and long-term future (7)
  • Ease of transition (5)

Step 3: Weigh options that can achieve your goals and pick what’s best

Initially, Alex listed just one option for switching: It was obvious that she was already leaning towards the food-delivery industry. However, I convinced her to add more options so that she will have five at minimum. She took a bit more time deliberating and finally came up with a handful:

  • Stay in her current position
  • Food-delivery industry
  • Meal-kit industry
  • Food-processing industry
  • Grocery store industry

At this point, Alex was still leaning toward her favored option, which was to shift to the food-delivery industry. However, I cautioned her to consider each one carefully. We went together through each option, ranking them on the criteria variable. To do so, we made a table with options on the left and variables on the top. Then, after ranking each option on the relevant criteria, we multiplied the ranking by the weight of the criteria, as seen in this table.

Options

Salary

(8)

Innovation

(5)

Room for growth

(6)

Stability

(7)

Ease of transition

(5)

Total

Current position

7

1

2

1

10

130

Food delivery

5

3

4

4

8

147

Meal Kit

5

7

4

3

3

135

Food processing

6

2

5

5

3

138

Grocery store

8

5

9

8

5

224

Alex was surprised that the grocery store option came out as the best option. That’s because grocery stores boomed due to the pandemic and were hiring both workers and executives left and right.

Step 4: Implement the option you chose

First, imagine the decision completely fails and brainstorm for the reasons for the failure. Next, consider how you might solve these problems and integrate the solutions into your implementation plan. Then, imagine the decision succeeded. Brainstorm all the reasons for success and integrate these to the plan as well.

Alex imagined that the switch to the grocery store industry failed because of her lack of a proper network to source for job opportunities and her unwillingness to step down to a lower-ranking role. To address these, she decided to spend a month growing her network so that she could make new contacts. Alex also decided to get in touch with former colleagues and mentors who had stepped down from top leadership roles to get their insight on what they learned from the experience.

Finally, when she imagined that the decision to shift to a new role and industry was a success, she determined that this was largely due to her efforts to efficiently transition to her new role and industry by building new core skills. 

Step 5: Evaluate the implementation of the decision 

Alex was able to successfully shift industries. Within six weeks, she was able to get into a large grocery chain as Senior Vice President of Prepared Foods. While it was a step down from her role as COO, she was able to get a compensation package that was 85 percent of what she received at her former company, owing to the fact that she had joined a much larger organization in a booming industry.

She decided on the following as her metrics of success: 

  • Expand her network by adding six contacts per month specifically from the grocery store industry
  • Identify and work on four core skills that she needed in order to thrive in her new role and industry
  • Develop mentors within this new industry

Related: How Entrepreneurs Can Cope (And Come Out Stronger) Through the COVID-19 Crisis

As Alex’s examples illustrates, your career growth needn’t take a back seat as the nation’s economy gradually recovers. When job hunting, as ever, just be ready to network intensively and develop new skills.

 

 

 

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After a rocky several months that included a business model decimated by the coronavirus pandemic, mass layoffs, and employees speaking up about a disconnect between the company’s feminist branding and treatment of female staff, Audrey Gelman is stepping down as CEO of The Wing, the women’s co-working business she co-founded in 2016. The Wing confirmed her departure from the role to Fortune.

Gelman, a former staffer in New York politics, was a high-profile chief executive who frequently represented her company in the media, while co-founder and chief operating officer Lauren Kassan more often worked behind the scenes. Kassan will step into a newly created “Office of the CEO” along with senior vice president of operations Ashley Peterson and senior vice president of marketing Celestine Maddy, reporting to the company’s board of directors, The Wing confirmed.

“The Wing remains a vital resource for thousands of women navigating their path to success,” the company said in a statement to Fortune. “But the moment calls for a rethinking of how we meet their needs moving forward and for new leadership that can guide The Wing into the future.”

“My hope is that this accelerated transition will help rebuild trust, restore faith, and remake The Wing into something we can all feel proud of,” Gelman reportedly wrote in an email to The Wing’s staff Thursday morning.

Staffers began tweeting on Thursday morning the phrase “Audrey Gelman’s resignation is not enough” and said they had presented a list of demands to company leadership intended to correct the fact that “The Wing doesn’t practice the intersectional feminism that it it preaches.”

The Wing launched in 2016 as a physical space that would serve as a pit-stop for women between “work and werk,” but transitioned to serve primarily as a community-based membership platform that members could use as a physical workspace. While the startup initially limited membership—and guests—to women, after encountering legal hurdles, it redefined its membership criteria as open to anyone supportive of its mission to support women.

The coronavirus pandemic, however, upended The Wing’s business. As its dozen physical spaces closed (the startup has opened branches in six U.S. cities and London and, before the pandemic, had plans to open nine more in 2020), The Wing saw “95% of our revenue disappear overnight,” Gelman said in April. The company began offering its programming—member meet-ups and talks by prominent women—online. However, it couldn’t transition the part of its membership that justified $2,700 annual membership fees—its physical spaces—to remote work.

The company laid off half its headquarters staff and almost all teams that worked at its physical spaces in early April.

The Wing’s mission and branding both center on the ideals and language of feminism, from Gelman’s appearance while pregnant on the cover of the magazine Inc., a milestone for the business press, to the investors it courted: soccer players from the U.S. Women’s National Team and Hollywood figures like Kerry Washington involved in the anti-sexual harassment organization Time’s Up. But in March, the New York Times published an investigation into The Wing’s culture, in which employees said that leadership didn’t live up to those feminist ideals when it came to their own female workers. Several of the criticisms focused on Gelman specifically. That piece was followed by a Wall Street Journal investigation featuring similar claims in April. Criticism in both pieces highlighted that especially women of color who worked for The Wing were mistreated.

Journalist Kara Swisher reported that Gelman would retain her seat on The Wing’s board of directors, which the company has not yet confirmed. Members of The Wing’s board include GV general partner Jessica Verrilli, who replaced WeWork chief legal officer Jennifer Berrent after WeWork exited its stake in The Wing amid the collapse of its own co-working business and a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against WeWork, and Sequoia Capital partner Jess Lee.

More on the most powerful women in business from Fortune:

  • The 2.5 million jobs the economy gained in May went to almost everyone except black women
  • White female founders face a reckoning over racism
  • Providing bereavement leave is one way companies can support black employees right now
  • An inclusion expert and a CEO on how businesses can keep the anti-racist momentum going
  • WATCH: The double burdens that hold women back

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