Motherhood Isn’t For Everyone

by Andy Cunningham, author of “Get to Aha!: Discover Your Positioning DNA and Dominate Your Competition

Waitress serving customers

Customer experience isn’t for everyone. Really. If it’s not part of your corporate DNA, you shouldn’t make it the focal point of your business. That should be an expression of your DNA. If you’re truly a customer-oriented company, or a “Mother” (in the parlance of my new book, Get to Aha!: Discover Your Positioning DNA and Dominate Your Competition), customer service should be paramount. But if you happen to be a product-oriented company, or a “Mechanic,” product features and value need to take center stage. And if you’re the bearer of a world-changing concept, or a “Missionary,” your Next Big Thing or Cult of Personality should reign supreme.

DNA is at the root of everything — in people as well as companies — when it comes to competitive advantage. Just think about professional athletes and how their DNA influences their performance. Businesses should reflect the substance of a company, not an image dreamed up by the marketing department.

Yes, companies need to attract customers and keep them. But not every company succeeds with that because of the customer experience they’ve crafted. There’s a belief out there — a misplaced philosophy — that all companies must be customer-centric, what I call the Customer-Centric Conundrum. Customer-centricity is a popular trend that causes companies to work outside their corporate DNA; it’s a fad that’s gotten out of control. It’s easy to see how that happened. It sounds so warm and fuzzy to delight the customer, to be customer-centric, to listen to the customer, and so forth. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

But winning in business is about understanding what makes your product or service better than the competition and then leveraging that in your quest to conquer markets and keep customers.

If you discover that you are, in fact, a Mother, and you choose to differentiate and win because of the experience you offer your customers, you’ll need to nourish your company’s propensity to nurture customer connections. How you hire people, how you compensate those hires, how you measure individual and group success, what you talk about in meetings, your choice of language and tone of voice, your corporate structure—everything must be geared toward maintaining those precious customer relationships.

Here’s what Mothers like Disney, Lyft, Nordstrom, and Zappos do every day. They focus on customers in management discussions, measure success in terms of relationships—not just sales, initiate tracking studies and market research to get to know their customers, create a customer experience that transcends product offerings, measure profits against customer segments, drive marketing through brand and customer loyalty, motivate employees to excel at customer service and work tirelessly to ensure that their value proposition delights customers.

Is your company a Mother? If so, make sure every single thing your company does is geared to support Mother DNA. Otherwise, you’ll be expending energy on the wrong things. Knowing what you’re made of helps you make something of it.

*Originally published on the McGraw-Hill Professional Business Blog


andy cunningham

Andy Cunningham is the founder and president of Cunningham Collective, a marketing, brand and communication strategy firm dedicated to bringing innovation to market. She is also the author of “Get to Aha!: Discover Your Positioning DNA and Dominate Your Competition“.



Why Techpreneurs Should Look To The Senior Care Space

senior health care

by John Valiton, CEO at Reemo Health

While leaps and bounds beyond what we saw even five years ago, the health tech industry has yet to be fully explored. There is such a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs to use their technical abilities to advance the way individuals deal with their health — especially in terms of aging care. To put the space’s potential into perspective: the senior care industry is projected to reach a worth of $400 billion by next year alone.

While we’ve seen numerous startups come into the scene that focus on easing the challenges adult children and family members face as their loved ones age, there is still a huge gap that needs filled with technology that specifically delivers everyday value to individual seniors. And this isn’t just a job for those entrepreneurs already immersed in the healthcare space. Entrepreneurs coming from outside of traditional healthcare should consider leveraging their knowledge and experience to achieve novel solutions that would not have been delivered from inside the traditional health ecosystem.

Why? First — their solutions can have meaningful improvements on seniors’ day-to-day lives and the quality of their care. Second — the 74.9 million Baby Boomers have more wealth than any other generation and are looking for ways to maintain their independence and quality of life. They may be slower to adopt technology than Millennials, but show plenty of appetite for tech that can support their health and wellness.

So, how can entrepreneurs muster what it takes to enter the senior care space? Like any successful business venture, there has to be a personal element to the venture. As I and the founders of my company quick found out, there’s a lot more motive to create a solution that vastly increases care when it’s directly impacting a loved one. Once you’ve identified that area of senior care that sparks your passion, it’s time to start doing your research.

Take time to identify if that need is something that others struggle with, then dive even deeper. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, and take the time to sit down with individuals to gather personal anecdotes about their struggles or victories. Once you’ve learned all the ins and outs, specific challenges, and developed deep empathy for that specific need, you’ll be in a position to truly make a difference — and your chances of actually succeeding will be substantially better, because your solution will resonate with people. Stay open and listen to the voice of the users. Your product and your business will be better for it.


john valitonJohn Valiton is CEO of Reemo Health, a senior health technology solution designed to empower caregivers with actionable insights to improve the aging experience. He has been an avid technology enthusiast since an early age, and applied his interest in all things tech at the intersection of IoT, wearable technology, healthcare and data science through his position as a strategic advisor, Chief Revenue Officer, and now CEO for Reemo.



Creating A Healthcare Startup – A Basic Guide

stethoscope shutterstock

Technology has made positive changes in every industry in the last few years, including the healthcare industry. This is one of the main reasons why more and more people with innovative ideas and unique approaches to healthcare are interested in creating startups. Obviously, creating a healthcare startup is more than a business – it’s an opportunity to help people.

So, it’s not an exaggeration to say that healthcare startups are among the most attractive ventures today. If a healthcare startup is something you’re interested in creating, you should take a few things into consideration.

Analyze Laws and Regulations.

As a future entrepreneur, you shouldn’t forget that the healthcare industry is highly regulated. These regulations are put in place to keep the privacy of patients safe and to protect patients and public health. This is where many people give up on their idea because they simply don’t have enough time to go through all these regulations and they believe that they can’t meet the requirements. HIPPA, the Affordable Healthcare Act, the FDA…these are just some of the many regulatory bodies and reforms that you should consider. But, those who think that they can overcome these issues can go on to build a successful startup like Maryland Addiction Recovery Center.

This center was founded by Samuel Bierman and Zachary Snitzer a few years ago as part of Polaris Recovery Centers. Samuel Bierman has worked for a few reputable treatment centers like Caron Renaissance and Caron Treatment Centers before he decided to start MARC. Today, he is the executive director at MARC. Zachary Snitzer is the director of business development at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center. He was working as a director of online marketing for a local company and for local TV before the MARC project.

Understand the Highly Competitive Market.

We would like to highlight the fact that healthcare startups are not the same as other types of startups, especially tech startups. It is not easy to become visible in this market because there are many well-established organizations with decades of experience. That’s why entrepreneurs should embrace a unique approach – instead of competing against these reputable companies, they should find a way to cooperate with them. There is always room for cooperation in this field, so this should not be a difficult task.

Use Mobile Technology.

Mobile technology is probably not the first thing that crosses your mind when thinking about healthcare startups, but the truth is that this technology is already playing an important role in this field. In recent years, with so many people utilizing mobile devices, patient centered care has adopted mobile technology to better serve patients. Leveraging tools like mobile apps, text communication, and telehealth services is a smart, modern way to boost communication and patient satisfaction. The way you innovate doesn’t have to be related to mobile technology, but you should definitely use it as part of your business model. In this way, you will boost productivity and make things simpler.

We hope that these tips will help you get a clearer picture of the current situation with healthcare startups.


How Finance Can Usher In Digital Transformation With One Key Resource

by Andrew Durlak, Co-Founder & VP of Operations at Scout RFP

planningBusinesses are well-versed in leveraging technology in customer-facing activities. Internal business operations, on the other hand, are a different story entirely. A recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) report, created in partnership with Scout RFP, highlighted this lag and its possible ramifications. In today’s digitally empowered world, businesses that leave key departments in the technological dust will suffer strategically.

As Ernst & Young points out in a recent report, digital technology is a main driver of strategic prioritization — and any digital technology lag in business-critical functions presents a sizeable problem. If the entire business isn’t caught up on digital transformation, it makes it difficult (impossible, even) for finance leaders to engage in strategic leadership and optimize revenue opportunities by driving ROI from tech investments.

The first step is to expand your focus on digital transformation for the company and zero in on oft-looked over departments that are under finance’s leadership. Procurement is one such area; it holds high ROI potential, yet is rarely taken full advantage of.

Overlooked benefits.

With the right technology, procurement can have a staggering impact on the company’s bottom line. According to the HBR report, strategic sourcing has the potential to increase ROI up to 400 percent, with the added bonus that “any cost savings realized through sourcing improvement drop directly to the bottom line, which in turn can have a substantial impact on profitability.”

The report also points out several other overlooked benefits of strategic sourcing: “Although some dimensions are more straightforward to quantify than others, the concrete financial returns of focused sourcing and procurement efforts are quick to accrue and very easy to identify, executives say. The work is tangible and measurable, with a rapid and unambiguous impact on shareholder value. Once the company undertakes improvement, executives point out, the financial benefits begin to accumulate rapidly.”

Making the first move.

As finance leaders look beyond increasing sales as a way to improve cash flow, the case to prioritize procurement is compelling. Without a lot of fanfare or oversight, strategic sourcing – when supported by the right technology – proves to be a significant step up from traditional cash flow tactics.

Finance leaders who are ready to dive into digital transformation must approach the change these three ways:

1. Boost stakeholder support.

Adopting new technology is only rewarding for the business if stakeholders are fully engaged. To encourage this engagement, finance leaders must present and encourage buy-in by thoroughly explaining what problems the new solution addresses, whether that be a more efficient work environment or expedited company savings. An effective solution will also speak for itself, demonstrating a notable improvement in terms of results and processes, which also make stakeholders more supportive of the change on their own accord.

2. Choose the appropriate technology.

There are a few key traits to look for when selecting new technology — namely, that is emphasized usability, automation, and collaboration. Look for an easy-to-use solution that facilitates cross-functional team collaboration within a single platform. Additionally, implementing a technology that improves strategic vendor decisions for faster savings can result in further technology advancements. In short, digital transformation fuels even further digital transformation. As finance leaders prioritize future-focused digital implementation, they open the door for accelerated transformation for the entire company.

3. Simplify implementation.

As finance jumpstarts a digital movement, keep onboarding fast and simple, and streamline implementation to maintain momentum for future transformation. Creating a simple adoption process is crucial to keeping stakeholders engaged throughout the entire implementation (and beyond). A streamlined adoption process will establish the long-term use of new tools by encouraging users to fully utilize the technology from the start, minimizing the risk of the technology fading out.

The responsibilities of finance have changed over time and leaders must adjust accordingly. As Ernst & Young’s The DNA of the CFO report notes, “Where once its remit was predominantly that of a reporting function that focused on balancing the books, it will become a data-driven decision-center.” While accounting and ERP software have traditionally been digital drivers of change, finance leaders must begin to look outside of finance-specific tools to jumpstart overall business transformation. Finance leaders who seek out non-traditional areas — especially procurement — for digital transformation will be rewarded with previously untapped strategic opportunities that the whole company can celebrate.


andrew durlak 2


Andrew Durlak is Co-Founder & VP of Operations at Scout RFP. Andrew has a rich background in the world of finance from his private equity and investment banking days. He previously worked at Prospect Partners doing due diligence and portfolio management. Prior to this, he executed M&A transactions at Harris Williams & Co. 


Tips On Hiring A Web Design Service

Web Design

Carrying out business is not an easy task without a few of the different requirements. One such requirement is the need to have a good web design firm that can handle your online presence and help you in content management services. How would you search for a web design service for your business?

Here are the tips that can work wonders for your business if you follow them devotedly:

Best Tips to Choose a Web Design For Your Business.

Choosing a web designer is a daunting task. In fact, the web designer is who would present your business to the outside world. If the firm fails to deliver, your business may fail to attract customers. There are several points you may need to pay attention to while selecting a web design firm.

Past Experience.

How long the firm you have chosen been in the business of providing web design requirements? That would be one of the points that would need attention. Check out the experience they have had in terms of the function areas. A startup may or may not have the requisite experience.

Going through the past portfolio of the company you have chosen should be the prime criteria. This can give you a clear idea on how have they been successful in their previous assignments. Maybe you can have a chat with their previous customers.

Social Media Marketing and Your Web Designer.

Social media marketing is what makes your business run beyond your expectations. If you want to see your business grow, having access to social media. It will help you have access to improved brand visibility. In fact, during the present scenario, social marketing plays an important role in enhancing your presence across the web. In addition, find the efficiency of the firm in SEO. In fact, a good design and SEO go hand in hand. We would recommend opting for a firm that has a good command over SMM and SEO in equal measures.

Go Through the References.

References from the past customers would let you get thorough information the capabilities that the chosen firm possesses. References from the people or firms that you know would serve to be one of the best options you should look for. The level of communication plays an important role in the web designing. If the firm you have chosen excels in that department – you are good to go. One more option would be to check out the recommendations from reputed clients that have established themselves in their genre.

Choice of Platform.

The experience in the choice of the platform is a must. Either your choice of web design firm be able to work with the CMS you have chosen, or should be proficient enough so that they can help you choose and work on a platform that would help your business grow. It could so happen that some firms have partnership deals with different platforms. It can work for thebetterment of your association if you opt for the platform suggestions from the web design firm in such cases.

Affordable Pricing.

Yes, pricing is another point that needs attention. However, just choosing the cheapest player may not be a great option. Strike a perfect combination of the price and quality. In fact, the crux of the matter is you get want you to pay for – CCM Web Virginia Beach, for instance, is a web design firm that excels in offers cost-effective plans. Besides being cost effective, it also offers you additional advantages like the emphasis on mobile design and content management service for WordPress. CCM Web can create a website that would meet almost all requirements and the list includes a small business, a manufacturer, a retailer or even an artist – by striking an excellent balance between cost and value.

In Essence…

Creating a website is not an easy task and if you can entrust the responsibility to an able Web Design firm, that would help you add value to the performance of your site and by that proportion your business. The steps and tips outlined above should help you choose a web design firm with utmost care. The features that we have outlined above are not the only ones that determine the status of a web design firm, but should help you make a learned decision.


The 5 Core Values That All Great Leaders Have

by Shawn Vij, author of “Moral Fiber: Awakening Corporate Consciousness

Colleagues Applauding Senior Businessman

The leaders of all organizations have a number of things in common. They set the tone for the entire company, determine what it stands for and make sure the business stays on course. But the best of the best go farther. They’re strong, authentic, admirable leaders with deep core values — and they walk the talk.

One recent example is Starbuck’s Executive Chairman Howard Schultz, who wrote a searing Op-Ed in The Financial Times, arguing that leaders have a moral obligation to see themselves as part of the bigger picture. His was one of the clearest voices in business to condemn the divisive attacks in Charlottesville.

Having strong core values and making sure one’s actions and one’s business aligns with them has a profoundly healthy and positive influence on an organization. There are five key values that outstanding leaders share, regardless of industry or company size. Follow them, and you’ll become a leader who makes headlines — for the right reasons.

Here, the five values that great leaders share:

1. Empathy.

Leaders with empathy listen, understand, and care about their colleagues, customers and communities. They’re able to understand where someone is coming from even if they disagree. Their empathy builds trust, helping to unify instead of divide. Rather than wondering if a colleague is going to throw them under the bus, people cooperate openly. When acted upon, empathy creates a platform that can promote greater creativity of thought and innovation throughout the organization.

2. Compassion.

Great leaders set aside their egos and listen with sincerity and humility. They display a vested interest in learning more about their employees and communities. The compassion they show inspires and motivates people to be better employees, team members and global citizens. As the Dalai Lama says, “Compassion reduces fear, boosts our confidence, and opens us to inner strength. By reducing distrust, it opens us to others and brings us a sense of connections with them and a sense of purpose and meaning in life.”

3. Honesty.

Honesty in our interactions with colleagues and associates is necessary to build a strong foundation of trust — a must in business. Achieving trust requires leaders to show vulnerability, authenticity, and integrity. It means being honest and transparent, admitting our fragility, forgiving ourselves, but also taking responsibility for our decisions and actions. Only by so doing can we reset and regroup. Honesty also showcases executive maturity: seasoned leaders have learned and grown from past experiences, and can inspire others to do the same.

4. Loyalty.

In today’s ultra-competitive business environment, loyalty is critical in driving agile decision-making and forging lasting relationships with colleagues and customers. In business, we’ll often see new leaders bring in their own team from previous positions and companies: they need loyal people who will get the job done for them. Loyalty often develops over time via trusted relationships with colleagues or customers. But it can also be earned through indirect relationships and vouching for others — if done correctly. For example, one may hire an individual based on a recommendation of trusted coworker.

5. Respect.

Mutual respect flows up and down the chain of command. How many careers have been been stalled when someone goes above their manager without informing them, or when managers don’t cover their employees when it’s needed? A leader can’t command or purchase deep admiration and respect. It has to be earned —by demonstrating the core universal values that show people they care, understand, and can help.

When Schultz spoke of this country’s moral fiber being in danger at a recent employee meeting, his speech was a call to action after a tragic event. It was also a gesture of authentic compassion. He brought an extremely diverse workforce together at a time of national crisis, and reminded them — and all of us — that we are part of the bigger picture. Schulz is also a famously successful leader, savvy as they come. One reason: he’s extremely self-aware, and that’s an apt starting point for many aspiring leaders. If you can take five minutes a day to practice self-reflection and self-awareness, you’ll find you become far sharper. It’s a skill you can develop over time — and draw from in any circumstance. Along with empathy, compassion, honesty, loyalty and respect, being self-aware is a powerful tool against often toxic corporate and politically challenging environments.


Shawn Vij

Shawn Vij is an accomplished business leader who has over 25 years of industry and consulting experience. He has worked in various leadership positions for Ford Motor Company, Ernst & Young, VISA, Deloitte Consulting, Microsoft, and Intel Corporation. His new book is “Moral Fiber: Awakening Corporate Consciousness“.


6 Guerrilla Marketing Tactics For New Businesses

bulleye target

by Nate Vickery, editor-in-chief of

New businesses are usually strapped for cash, which means that they don’t have enough money for costly marketing strategies. Left to their own devices, they have to be as creative as possible and come up with some fresh, non-traditional approaches to promote themselves. This doesn’t have to be bad at all. Quite the opposite, guerrilla marketing tactics offer the factor of surprise, which is exactly what it takes to generate buzz, draw the attention of a target audience, and improve visibility.

The fact that guerrilla marketing is low-cost doesn’t go at the expense of its quality. We’re going to suggest a few guerrilla marketing strategies to jazz up your promotional activities:

1. Undercover marketing.

Also known as stealth marketing, this clever tactic advertises a product in such a sneaky manner that people aren’t even aware that they’re being subjected to advertising. A usual scenario is to infiltrate marketers into their target audience and have them start building hype around the product. This tactic works great for new movies, books, or gadgets.

One of the most memorable campaigns was launched by Sony Ericsson back in 2002 in the early days of cell phones with a digital camera. The company famously hired actors to pose as tourists and ask random people to take pictures of them with this cool, new device, sparking their curiosity in the process.

2. Pay it forward.

This tactic relies on small acts of kindness done for complete strangers. It would be a good idea to buy a coffee or movie ticket for a person behind you and ask a cashier to hand them your business card. Although not each of these nice little gestures will result in acquiring a new client, they will definitely help you spread the word about your business and tap into the power of word-of-mouth marketing.

3. Flash mobs.

There’s no better way to capture the attention of a great number of people at the same time than staging a flash mob. These public performances have been used for different purposes such as marriage proposals, raising awareness for various social causes, or simply as a form of artistic expression. Flash mobs can be useful on several levels for promoting a business, since these seemingly random, but actually well-orchestrated dance acts will undoubtedly generate interest, not to mention that you can film it and go viral with your video clip.

4. Freebies.

Giving out free stuff to your potential customers surely has the intention to show them the functionalities of your product, and it allows them to see all of its benefits for themselves. But, there’s something more important than advertising for the sake of it. Namely, cool promotional items, such as T-shirts, pens, bags, or calendars trigger another, an even more important psychological mechanism known as the principle of reciprocity. Basically, people who receive free samples from you feel the impulse to return the favor, and they’re subconsciously obliged to purchase something from you, and an interesting study tried to explain this phenomenon. Stats say that freebies can boost sales by as much as 2,000%, and this percentage makes all your investments worthwhile.

5. Graffiti.

Street art is an act of rebellion, and as such, it can be a perfect vehicle for guerrilla marketing. Creative, colorful, or even provocative graffiti can garner much positive publicity, and if you think that spraying marketing messages on walls and pavements is an act of vandalism, you can opt for so-called clean or reverse graffiti. This basically means that you can find a dirty wall, and by using a stencil with your logo, simply clean parts of it to create the desired image. And voila, you get all the benefits and visual appeal of graffiti minus their environmental unfriendliness and illegality.

6. Social media.

It would be unfair to skip social media platforms as the most obvious and easily utilized channels for guerrilla marketing tactics. Ever since Facebook introduced its Live option, anybody can create an event, invite people, and stream it. You can interact with your followers, offer a sneak peek of your new product, organize an online contest, or give your target audience a chance to get an inside look into your business. There’s a good reason why 51% of marketing professionals claim that video is the type of content that generates the best ROI.

Derived from the notion of guerrilla warfare, the eponymous marketing method relies on ambushing and surprising your target audience as the most effective ways of winning their attention.



Nate Vickery is a business technology consultant mostly engaged in management and marketing for SMB and startups. Nate is also the editor-in-chief at a business oriented blog