Rule-Breaker or Not: Which Type of Leader are You?

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Rule-Breaker or Not: Which Type of Leader are You?

“Following all the rules leaves a completed checklist. Following your heart achieves a completed you.” This quote by author Ray A. Davis may be a bit of an oversimplification, but it carries some significance, too. Some people are attracted to breaking rules and live their lives accordingly. They are typically acknowledged as either highly successful people or scoundrels. But in any case, they are people who choose their own paths instead of following the well-beaten trails of life. Many times they are revered as leaders. However, not everyone is cut out for rule breaking.

This may be the key difference between two very different types of leaders. One is devoted to organizing procedures and processes and directing operations and the systems that make them functional. The other is primarily engaged in creativity and the positive influence of others. As such, these two types are differentiated as managers and visionaries. Some individuals are fortunate enough to have both of these capacities, but most of us, if we are leadership material at all, fall into one of these two categories more so than the other, and that is not a bad thing. The world needs both types of leadership.

Perhaps the most important difference between these two is that one of them is routinely devoted to following the rules, or at least helping to make and institute those rules. The other is largely committed to finding ways to circumvent the same rules, exploring new ground instead of restricting one’s latitude to a structured set of limitations. One follows the rules; the other seeks to break them.

Looking at these two individuals we can see some very clearly defined differences. The one who seems born to be a manager is focused on technical aspects and structural adhesion. She is committed to smoothness in operation and well-practiced efficiency. Everyone usually acknowledges that she is quite good at what she does.

The other is visionary in his approach to problem solving, so his solutions are not always popular. He is, instead, a bit of a maverick. But his ideas can be so very convincing sometimes, usually due to his emotional involvement and vision. In a word, he is passionate, and his passion is contagious. He is an idea factory.

Successful entrepreneur and co-founder of Twitter Jack Dorsey said, "Everyone has an idea. But it’s really about executing the idea and attracting other people to help you work on the idea.” The idea for Twitter was amazingly simple. It was also untried. The "idea people" attracted some management types to make it happen…and the rest is history.

Successful organizations usually require both types of leadership, the idea generators and the systems people who build and pattern the formula. Successful World War II general and U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” That, in a nutshell, is the path of the idea creator, the entrepreneurial genius, the visionary leader who starts the engine and motivates it to keep running.

The running of the engine requires the attention of those most capable of coaxing from it the power that is needed. The engine must be tuned to perfection. Systems experts keep it running and running in the right direction. Without them, the visionary’s idea could easily die on the vine.

True leadership may begin with a breaking of the rules, but it can only truly succeed by virtue of learning one’s real limitations and finding help in those areas of relative weakness. Break the rules to get started, but then find help covering your weaknesses from another kind of leader, and your chance of success is increased.

Bridge the Gap to a Successful Resolution

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Bridge the Gap to a Successful Resolution

In its simplest context, a bridge is a solution for getting from point A to point B. The best bridge is one that accomplishes that task with the least amount of difficulty. But bridges, even the metaphorical symbolic ones, come in all shapes and sizes.

In northern India, the roots of the banyan fig tree are used by the indigenous population to form bridges across ravines and streams. As solutions to problems, these living root bridges are quite successful. It is not known who first built these amazing structures, but the trees are known to live for more than 500 years. With that knowledge, at least as far as bridges are concerned, you don’t have to worry too much about the decay of your infrastructure.

These aerial roots grow perfectly well in the air, and the young pliable roots are trained to travel through hollowed out tree trunks laid across whatever must be crossed. The process can take up to 15 years, but once the roots attach themselves to the other side, the bridge is usable and simply must mature with a hardening of the roots to become fully functional. Some of the best solutions take time, but if you have one that is going to perform for 500 years, you have a pretty good solution.

Exemplifying another kind of bridge, in 2014, the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, received an award of distinction for its leadership in the areas of diversity and inclusiveness. In fact, the award presented by the Greater Baltimore Committee is actually called the Bridging the Gap Award.

Led by Dr. Richard Bennett, Bayview’s Diversity Council was recognized as one of the nation’s top ten such councils. In this case, bridging the gap involved uniting business interests with community interests with the bridge of commitment toward generating summer employment for minority students pursuing health care and life sciences careers. Bayview was also recognized for its efforts to support leadership initiatives among the medical center’s under-represented minority and female staff members.

One of the most innovative and successful business leaders to emerge in the past 50 years was Steve Jobs. One of the primary problems he routinely addressed was how to do business with a focus not on his product, but on the utility of that product, and how clients received and used that product. Steve Jobs was focused on people, not products. As a result, his energy was poured into solving the problems of people rather than solving the problems of making products.

Clearly one of his biggest success stories was the iPhone, as it performed the functions of three or four machines with one device. That solves a people problem creating a bridge between multiple needs and utility. But it didn’t stop there for Jobs. He went further by creating an environment in which the iPhone was not merely an industry leader. Other companies in that industry were creating applications to use on his iPhone. In essence, he created an ecosystem in which his product sales were now being driven by other companies through their software marketed specifically for the iPhone. Steve Jobs built a bridge between multiple needs of people and the obvious solution to those many needs with a single product. And then, he widened the bridge by getting other companies to basically market his product for him.

Business has always been about solving problems. The best bridges solve problems the most effectively. Like the famous folk-rock group Simon and Garfunkel said in their Grammy-winning song, "like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down." Successful bridges make the journey over troubled water a much easier task.

Constructive Criticism: Why Direct Customer Feedback is Better Than Surveys and How It Can Help Propel Your Business Forward

Constructive criticism is always important, regardless of the type of business you’re running. It’s one of the single best ways to not only identify areas where you and your team truly excel, but more importantly, identify things that you could be doing better that you might not be otherwise unaware of. The key word in this phrase, however, is "constructive." You need to be able to glean something valuable from what your customers are trying to tell you. To do that, you really need to consider the source.

The Survey Conundrum

Many people believe that sending out surveys is one of the best ways to get open and honest criticism regarding what they’re doing, what they should be doing, and what they should stop doing as quickly as possible. In reality, this is incredibly false and surveys, in general, are faulty for a very important reason. The types of people who are the most likely to fill out surveys are the ones on the extreme ends of the customer spectrum. People who are really, really dissatisfied or who really, truly already love your company are going to represent the vast majority of all responses. As a result, you’re going to get a huge number of responses that you can’t really do anything with or learn anything from and the few, valuable leads that you do have are easy to get lost in the shuffle.

What is Direct Customer Feedback?

The best way to get the constructive criticism that you’re after is to go to more direct sources – namely, social media, forums and similar channels online. Social media, in general, has made this incredibly easy in the last few years – you can search for your company name on a site like Twitter or Facebook and look at the conversations that users are already having with one another that you had no part in starting. These are people who were already having an open and honest discussion that they never assumed you would be a part of in the first place, so they don’t have a "horse in the race," so to speak. These are the conversations that you need to be learning from. Online communities like message boards are also a great source of this, provided that it isn’t a message board hosted on your own website. Again, these will be users who are similar to survey respondents – they’re not the customers in the middle who you really need, but are the "extreme" customers who fall firmly in "love it" or "hate it" camps.

Onward and Upward

Direct customer feedback is something that you should not only embrace, but actively seek out on a regular basis. In a way, it’s like any other customer service channel – by showing that you’re ready to accept anything that your customers can throw at you, you’re showing that they have a voice that is equal (if not more important) than your own. Some business owners label people with issues "haters," even if they have legitimate concerns. This would really only be true if you believe that your business is already perfect, which is not true. This is also hugely beneficial from a marketing perspective. Simply put, customers enjoy supporting businesses when they know that their opinions are valued and they feel valued, too. By seeking direct customer feedback through public channels, you’re putting your best foot forward in this regard and are only strengthening your marketingmessage, your brand, and ultimately your business at the same time.

Daring to be Innovative

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Daring to be Innovative

Ideas that turn the conversation on its head producing an altered perception are clearly among the most interesting. Nobel Prize winning playwright George Bernard Shaw perhaps related this concept best when he said, "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." Of course, being unreasonable here is equated with being unbound by convention rather than being not guided by good sense.

Being unbound by convention is the first prerequisite for innovation, and turning arguments on their heads is one of the next important steps in the process.

In Steve McQueen’s racing-themed movie "Le Mans," he answers a serious question concerning what is so important about driving faster than anyone else. His answer turns the question on its head. He says, "A lot of people go through life doing things badly. Racing is important to men who do it well. Racing is life. Anything that happens before or after …is just waiting."

Author of many books as well as the best selling business video in history, Joel Arthur Barker put it slightly differently. He said, "Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world!" Innovation is what drives the most dramatic change.

To most, innovation comes with some degree of difficulty since we are typically forced to abandon alternatives with which we have become quite familiar. After all, we have learned that not all change is good. This is why you have to be somewhat daring to be truly innovative. Daring to be innovative does involve some risk, but hesitancy in following a dream gets you no closer to that dream. Progress in business depends upon the "unreasonable" entrepreneur.

ZipDial and Xiaomi are two fine examples of truly innovative companies led by some truly "unreasonable" entrepreneurs.

ZipDial

Have you ever used the old trick of phoning someone and allowing it to ring for only a moment before hanging up to signal your presence or arrival somewhere? This bypasses telephone company fees since there was no connection established. Valery Wagoner created ZipDial, a "missed call" marketing​ ​
platform, to exploit that concept further.

Companies promote a ZipDial number in their advertising. Customers then call and hang up, only to be contacted by the company to complete their transactions, enter contests, obtain coupons, or take advantage of other promotions. The innovation was using an existing idea to generate new business. In January, 2015, Wagoner turned her innovative idea into a deal with Twitter, which acquired ZipDial for an estimated $30 million.

Xiaomi

Xiaomi is a recent entry into the burgeoning smartphone market. The innovative part of their marketing model is a reliance on peripherals and software applications to build profitability. The smartphone, itself, has a paper-thin profit margin, but the apps sold to go with it are the source of much of the company’s substantial revenue. That is one aspect, but the other is sheer volume. Because of their low price (and the speed of "flash sales" in an internet-driven economy), one of the phone models sold out in a matter of two minutes. One hundred thousand phones in two minutes, and each of them requires software.

These two companies approached their problems with imagination and the willingness to innovate. "Unreasonable" entrepreneurs followed the advice of business commentator David O. Adeife, who said, "Never innovate to compete; innovate to change the rules of the game." Innovation does not necessarily involve reinventing the wheel. Successfully applying proven models in new contexts is every bit as innovative as coming up with the better mousetrap.

Buyer Personas: What They Are, Why You Need Them, and What Should You Do About It

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In marketing, one of the most important terms that you need to keep in mind at all times is "focus." In order to run a successfully executed campaign, you need to remove as much of the superfluous noise from your materials as possible and boil it down to the core essentials. You can’t appeal to all people all of the time, which is why focusing on creating the right message and using the right delivery channels is so important. Buyer personas are a concept that allow you to do just that in a host of different ways, all of which are beneficial to you and your team moving forward.

What is a Buyer Persona?

In marketing terminology, a buyer persona is essentially a person that doesn’t exist. They’re a fictional representation of the type of person who is most likely to buy your product or service after hearing your marketing message. Buyer personas are created using as much actionable information about your ideal customer as possible: How old are they? Where do they live? Do they have any children? How much money do they make? What types of products have they purchased in the past? What do they like? What do they hate?

If you knew all of the answers to those questions when talking about a real person, you’d already have a pretty vivid picture about how that person acts and what their personality is. You’d certainly have an easier time talking to that person and relating to him or her – which is what buyer personas are all about in the first place.

Why Are Buyer Personas Important?

By creating a fictional representation of the person who makes up your ideal customer, you always have something to refer to when crafting your marketing materials. Say your business’ buyer persona is Jane – she’s a 35-year-old mother of two with a combined household income of $150,000. Instead of "throwing everything and anything at the wall and seeing what sticks" in terms of your marketing campaigns, you have something to compare your techniques to. How does your product or service fit into Jane’s life? How does it solve a problem that she has? How does it align with past purchases she’s made? The answers to these questions will drive your marketing decisions moving forward.

Crafting Buyer Personas

Creating a buyer persona requires you to be two things at all times: detailed and accurate. After you’ve been in business for an extended period of time, you have access to huge volumes of data regarding things like market research and even your past customers that you can draw from. To a certain degree, all of this data should dictate the buyer personas you create, which in turn should dictate the direction of your marketing. Are a significantly large number of your past satisfied customers men between the ages of 18 and 34 who have no kids? Congratulations – you have the basic framework to begin building a buyer persona. Any marketing technique that isn’t directly appealing to that specific type of person is one that you now need to re-think.

It’s important to not go "too far" when creating buyer personas, however. If buyer personas are all about focus, going out of your way to have too many personas is a great way to instantly undo all of the benefits that you’ve just worked so hard to build for yourself. Focus on a few core types of customers and craft buyer personas for each, and then compare every marketingmove that you make against the information you’ve compiled for guidance on what to do next.

Avoid These Common Print Marketing Mistakes

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Avoid These Common Print Marketing Mistakes

We tend to talk a great deal about all of the things that you should do in your print marketing campaign for maximum effectiveness. You always want to make sure that your message is clear and concise, for example, and make sure that your pages are designed in a way where you can naturally control the flow of how people are taking in your important information. As a change of pace, we thought it would be fun to talk about some of the things you SHOULDN’T do if you want to unlock the maximum value of your campaign. A good piece of print marketing material is an incredible investment, but a bad one will quickly have the exact opposite reaction that you intended.

Remember the End Product – Particularly Its Size

Unlike the old days, most print marketing materials today are designed on a computer. After all, it’s never been easier to get the exact look that you want with just a few, quick clicks of your mouse. One of the most important things to keep in mind, however, is that the way a material looks on a crystal clear HD computer screen can be quite a bit different from the way it looks in real life if you’re not careful.

More specifically, pay attention to the font size that you choose to use – particularly if your print material is something that you’ll be blowing up to a much larger size later. Even small printing looks perfectly legible when you’re sitting a few inches away from a 1080p computer monitor. When you print out the banner or other item that you’ve just designed and blow it up to its intended size, though, you may find out that the small font size you chose to fit as many words on the page as possible is suddenly impossible to read unless you move closer. You can pretty much guarantee people who are just going about their busy lives are not going to take the time to slow down and move in closer to your marketing.

Forgetting to Account for Light

Any print marketer will spend a huge amount of time making sure that their materials look and feel just right. You’ll go over everything with a fine-toothed comb and may even spring for that extra glossy paper to really sell the look of professionalism you’re trying to get across. If your print material is going to be hanging in a well lit area like a store window, however, you may want to skip the glossy paper for a very important reason.

Forgetting to account for the lighting in the environment where the material will be viewed is a disaster you want to avoid at all costs. At worst, the shine from something like the sun on a glossy window banner will make it difficult to read. At just the right angle, it can actually create a dangerous situation for drivers who suddenly have the full force of the sun beaming directly into their eyes. Always remember where your material will be viewed and under what conditions when designing.

These are just a few of the things that we think you need to keep in mind when designing your print marketing materials for maximum effect. Remember, it isn’t just your message that is important – it is ultimately who will be viewing those materials, how they’ll be exposed to them, and under what conditions this will happen that you also have to focus on for the best results.

Easily Resize Pictures with Image Resizers

Easily Resize Pictures with Image Resizers

If you need a hand editing images for professional use, we’re here to help.

Our team of printing experts is here to lend a helping hand anytime you need us, but we know you like to have control as well, so we thought we would share this list of image resizers out there that you can research.

Just as the popularity of emailing and uploading images to websites has increased, so have image file sizes. Many photos are difficult to email or upload because of their large size. In addition, they take a long time to download and often get caught up in email filters due to size limits. Here are a few examples of handy image resizers that can help you conveniently resize photos:

  • Photo Magician – Provides several options on how and where to resize photos, including the option to overwrite existing files.
  • Resizr – A free online image resizer and picture crop website with lots of extras to convert, crop, rotate, or edit images quickly and easily.
  • Free Sizer – An easy to use tool to quickly create resized copies of your pictures that can be sent by email or uploaded to the web – comes pre-configured for most popular uses.
  • Batch Photo Resizer – Is a is full-featured software for converting and resizing the graphic files of well known formats.
  • ShrinkPic – Automatically reduce the size of photos for email, IM, blogging and web galleries without changing the original image.
  • Shrink Pictures – This site was created out of frustration of users asking questions like How do I resize images? How do I make images smaller? Etc.
  • Easy Photo Uploader – allows you to resize and upload your photos to Facebook, and log into your Facebook account directly from the program’s interface.
  • QuickResizer – Allows you to resize your pictures in a few seconds. Also supports batch resizing, so you can resize multiple files at once.
  • Picture Resize Genius – Resize pictures, add watermarks, rename picture files, and change their extensions.
  • Fotosizer – An online tool that crops images “intelligently,” preserving the visually interesting parts of the image during the crop.
  • Cropp – An easy way to crop images in your browser without requiring any software.

Pricing and Discount Fundamentals

Pricing and Discount Fundamentals

OFFERS TO OFFER

Most often we get asked,  “What kind of offer should I do?”

Well, that is a big question. First, Understand the role of price. Price is the value exchanged for products in marketing transactions. Price is a key element in the marketing mix because it relates directly to the generation of total revenue. The profit factor can be determined mathematically by multiplying price by quantity sold to get total revenue and then subtracting total costs. Price is the marketing mix variable that usually can be adjusted quickly and easily to respond to changes in the external environment.

Identify the characteristics of price and non-price competition.

Price competition emphasizes price as the major product differential. Prices fluctuate frequently, and price competition among sellers is aggressive. Non-price competition emphasizes product differentiation through distinctive features, services, product quality, or other factors. Establish brand loyalty by using non-price competition.

Coupons and Cents-Off Offers.

Coupons reduce a product’s price and are used to prompt customers to try new or established products, increase sales volume quickly, attract repeat purchasers, or introduce new package sizes or features. Savings may be deducted from the purchase price or offered as cash. Research indicates that coupons are most effective when a small face-value coupon is used in conjunction with a lower product price available for all consumers. Coupons are the most widely used consumer sales promotion technique.

Refunds and Rebates.

With money refunds, consumers submit proof of purchase and are mailed a specific amount of money. Usually manufacturers demand multiple product purchases before consumers qualify for refunds. With rebates, the customer is sent a specified amount of money for making a single purchase. Money refunds, used primarily to promote trial use of a product, are relatively low in cost, they sometimes generate a low response rate and have limited impact on sales.

Frequent-User Incentives.

Do you have a “Sub Club Card” from Subway? Many businesses develop incentive programs to reward customers who engage in repeat business. Major airlines offer frequent-flier programs, coffee shops offer punch cards. Frequent-user incentives foster customer loyalty to a specific company or group of cooperating companies.

Point-of-Purchase Materials and Demonstrations.

Include outdoor signs, window displays, counter pieces, display racks, and self-service cartons. Innovations in P-O-P displays include sniff-teasers, samples, and may even play music! P-O-P displays give off a product’s aroma in the store as consumers walk within a radius of four feet, and computerized interactive displays.

Personal Selling and Sales Promotion.

Titleist provides logoed golf balls for firms that want to provide loyalty to a brand name. Items with company logos on them is a continual billboard of self advertising.

Free Samples and Premiums.

Marketers use free samples to stimulate trial of a product, increase sales volume in the early stages of a product’s life cycle, and obtain desirable distribution. Sampling is the most expensive sales promotion method because production and distribution—at local events, by mail or door-to-door delivery, on-line, in stores, and on packages—entail high costs.

Consumer Games, Contests, and Sweepstakes.

In consumer contests and games, individuals compete for prizes based on analytical or creative skills. Entrants in a consumer sweepstakes submit their names for inclusion in a drawing for prizes.

Trade Sales Promotion Methods.

To encourage resellers, especially retailers, to carry their products and to promote them effectively, producers use sales promotion methods. Trade sales promotion methods stimulate wholesalers and retailers to carry a producer’s products and market those products more aggressively.

Trade Allowances.

Many manufacturers offer trade allowances to encourage resellers to carry a product or stock more of it. One such trade allowance is a buying allowance, which is a temporary price reduction offered to resellers for purchasing specified quantities of a product.

Cooperative Advertising and Dealer Listings.

Cooperative advertising is an arrangement whereby a manufacturer agrees to pay a certain amount of a retailer’s media costs for advertising the manufacturer’s products.

Sales Contests.

A sales contest is designed to motivate distributors, retailers, and sales personnel by recognizing outstanding achievements.

Free Merchandise and Gifts.

Manufacturers sometimes offer free merchandise to resellers that purchase a stated quantity of products. Occasionally, free merchandise is used as payment for allowances provided through other sales promotion methods.

Buyer Personas: What They Are, Why You Need Them, and What Should You Do About It

ThinkstockPhotos-474895964.jpg

Buyer Personas: What They Are, Why You Need Them, and What Should You Do About It

In marketing, one of the most important terms that you need to keep in mind at all times is "focus." In order to run a successfully executed campaign, you need to remove as much of the superfluous noise from your materials as possible and boil it down to the core essentials. You can’t appeal to all people all of the time, which is why focusing on creating the right message and using the right delivery channels is so important. Buyer personas are a concept that allow you to do just that in a host of different ways, all of which are beneficial to you and your team moving forward.

What is a Buyer Persona?

In marketing terminology, a buyer persona is essentially a person that doesn’t exist. They’re a fictional representation of the type of person who is most likely to buy your product or service after hearing your marketing message. Buyer personas are created using as much actionable information about your ideal customer as possible: How old are they? Where do they live? Do they have any children? How much money do they make? What types of products have they purchased in the past? What do they like? What do they hate?

If you knew all of the answers to those questions when talking about a real person, you’d already have a pretty vivid picture about how that person acts and what their personality is. You’d certainly have an easier time talking to that person and relating to him or her – which is what buyer personas are all about in the first place.

Why Are Buyer Personas Important?

By creating a fictional representation of the person who makes up your ideal customer, you always have something to refer to when crafting your marketing materials. Say your business’ buyer persona is Jane – she’s a 35-year-old mother of two with a combined household income of $150,000. Instead of "throwing everything and anything at the wall and seeing what sticks" in terms of your marketing campaigns, you have something to compare your techniques to. How does your product or service fit into Jane’s life? How does it solve a problem that she has? How does it align with past purchases she’s made? The answers to these questions will drive your marketing decisions moving forward.

Crafting Buyer Personas

Creating a buyer persona requires you to be two things at all times: detailed and accurate. After you’ve been in business for an extended period of time, you have access to huge volumes of data regarding things like market research and even your past customers that you can draw from. To a certain degree, all of this data should dictate the buyer personas you create, which in turn should dictate the direction of your marketing. Are a significantly large number of your past satisfied customers men between the ages of 18 and 34 who have no kids? Congratulations – you have the basic framework to begin building a buyer persona. Any marketing technique that isn’t directly appealing to that specific type of person is one that you now need to re-think.

It’s important to not go "too far" when creating buyer personas, however. If buyer personas are all about focus, going out of your way to have too many personas is a great way to instantly undo all of the benefits that you’ve just worked so hard to build for yourself. Focus on a few core types of customers and craft buyer personas for each, and then compare every marketing move that you make against the information you’ve compiled for guidance on what to do next.

Daring to be Innovative

ThinkstockPhotos-481580226.jpg

Daring to be Innovative

Ideas that turn the conversation on its head producing an altered perception are clearly among the most interesting. Nobel Prize winning playwright George Bernard Shaw perhaps related this concept best when he said, "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." Of course, being unreasonable here is equated with being unbound by convention rather than being not guided by good sense.

Being unbound by convention is the first prerequisite for innovation, and turning arguments on their heads is one of the next important steps in the process.

In Steve McQueen’s racing-themed movie "Le Mans," he answers a serious question concerning what is so important about driving faster than anyone else. His answer turns the question on its head. He says, "A lot of people go through life doing things badly. Racing is important to men who do it well. Racing is life. Anything that happens before or after …is just waiting."

Author of many books as well as the best selling business video in history, Joel Arthur Barker put it slightly differently. He said, "Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world!" Innovation is what drives the most dramatic change.

To most, innovation comes with some degree of difficulty since we are typically forced to abandon alternatives with which we have become quite familiar. After all, we have learned that not all change is good. This is why you have to be somewhat daring to be truly innovative. Daring to be innovative does involve some risk, but hesitancy in following a dream gets you no closer to that dream. Progress in business depends upon the "unreasonable" entrepreneur.

ZipDial and Xiaomi are two fine examples of truly innovative companies led by some truly "unreasonable" entrepreneurs.

ZipDial

Have you ever used the old trick of phoning someone and allowing it to ring for only a moment before hanging up to signal your presence or arrival somewhere? This bypasses telephone company fees since there was no connection established. Valery Wagoner created ZipDial, a "missed call" marketing platform, to exploit that concept further.

Companies promote a ZipDial number in their advertising. Customers then call and hang up, only to be contacted by the company to complete their transactions, enter contests, obtain coupons, or take advantage of other promotions. The innovation was using an existing idea to generate new business. In January, 2015, Wagoner turned her innovative idea into a deal with Twitter, which acquired ZipDial for an estimated $30 million.

Xiaomi

Xiaomi is a recent entry into the burgeoning smartphone market. The innovative part of their marketing model is a reliance on peripherals and software applications to build profitability. The smartphone, itself, has a paper-thin profit margin, but the apps sold to go with it are the source of much of the company’s substantial revenue. That is one aspect, but the other is sheer volume. Because of their low price (and the speed of "flash sales" in an internet-driven economy), one of the phone models sold out in a matter of two minutes. One hundred thousand phones in two minutes, and each of them requires software.

These two companies approached their problems with imagination and the willingness to innovate. "Unreasonable" entrepreneurs followed the advice of business commentator David O. Adeife, who said, "Never innovate to compete; innovate to change the rules of the game." Innovation does not necessarily involve reinventing the wheel. Successfully applying proven models in new contexts is every bit as innovative as coming up with the better mousetrap.

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