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Date: Saturday, 03 Apr 2010 01:59

If you didn't join the private beta launch of Brazen Groups, I highly recommend you go check out the live version today! We officially opened groups up to all members of Brazen Careerist this morning, and we're really excited to see how they evolve.

Groups give our community the ability to create whatever content they want to see on the site. For a small site, we have a lot of user engagement and we can't express how much we appreciate that. But like any true startup, we're never satisfied. So the team came to a decision that it was time to put more control in the hands of our community, and groups was the best way to do this.

Groups have three main features. The first is chatter. Chatter is quick thoughts, ideas, relevant links, questions etc. Borrowing from Twitter, we decided to make chatter short and sweet, so 140 characters are all you get.

The next feature is events. Group members can create an event, including time and place, and an address with a Google map so attendees don't get lost on their way. We anticipate that people in the location based groups will use this feature to organize tweet-ups, Brazen meet-ups and any other networking functions. But it's also just as easy to organize online events or promote your webinars and other events.

Finally, we developed forums to let group members really dive into a discussion about a particular topic. Members can create a forum topic that they would like to get feedback on, and the rest of the group can leave comments and ideas without the restriction of 140 characters.

As we work towards becoming a full scale social network for young professionals, we will be introducing new features on a regular basis. All of the features will come from the crazy ideas that we throw around in the office and the feedback we get from you all. So if you want to have some say in what comes next, let us know what you think. You can even join the Brazen Feedback Group and start a discussion on what you think we should do.

As always, we asked some of our most active members to beta test the product, so there are already more than 35 groups. My personal favorites right now are; Fit Freaks, Madtown Crew, Bookshelf and Drupal.

Definitely go browse through groups, join the ones that interest you, create your own groups, and don't forget to participate!

Author: "Ryan Healy" Tags: "Brazen CareeristSocial MediaTechnology"
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Date: Sunday, 21 Mar 2010 21:57

This post was originally published as a contributed guest posting at Silicon Angle.

The past few years have seen the social web truly take off. Activity streams are replacing email and conversations are happening all the time, all across the internet. People are now more connected, more informed, more knowledgeable and more adaptable than ever before. What this means for the online recruiting world is that for every recruiter who has a job posting with a list of pre-qualifications; there are hundreds or thousands of people who would be a perfect fit, whether their resume says so or not.

Until the birth of Linkedin in 2003, the online recruiting and job board industry was dominated by a few key players; namely, Monster and Career Builder. Recruiters posted jobs, candidates applied for jobs, and sometimes a match was made. That’s it, there was no interaction, no getting to know each other, just a job posting and a resume.

Linkedin recognized that this model was not going to work much longer, so they introduced premium services that let recruiters search for, contact and learn more about candidates. Since then, the smartest organizations have slowly realized that a generic job posting will, at best, get them a generic employee. Today, if a company is only recruiting through the major job boards, they’re probably a company you don’t want to work for.

Today, the online recruiting world is officially going social, whether recruiters are ready or not. My company, Brazen Careerist, is providing recruiters the tools to see past a traditional resume to create real relationships with tomorrow’s leaders through conversations, and to get a glimpse at our members thoughts and ideas that can translate to future action. Last week we launched Social Resumes to provide tomorrow’s leaders with the tools to showcase the ideas and abilities they display every day when they participate in conversations online. The goal is to make sure our members never have to settle for a job that makes them want to jump off a bridge every day.

We’ve built our product offering and our company based on two ideas. The first idea is that people now have the power.

Despite the recession, we no longer live in a world where people feel lucky to have a job. People are all free agents, they change jobs frequently, they drop out of the workforce to start companies and they take time off to watch their kids grow up. Demanding relevant experience and telling people they should be excited to work for your company in a generic company description is a recipe for disaster.

When people have the power, recruiters have to meet them on their turf and engage them in conversation. I can’t tell you how angry I get when I see job descriptions that brag about their “great team environment” and list “superior execution and operational capabilities” as a key qualification.

When people have the power, you do not have permission to tell them that you are looking for specific experience or provide a canned description of your corporate culture. First you have to introduce yourself, join a conversation, and provide value. Then you have permission to tell someone why your job is a perfect fit, the same way you would tell a friend.

The second idea is that people make the best matches.

According to the Wall Street Journal, 90% of jobs are filled through employee referrals. The number sounds high, but when you really think about it, this makes sense. People make the best matches. Employees want to work with friends, and they’ll happily take a $5,000 referral bonus to do someone a favor – if they really believe the job is a good fit.

No search engine or algorithm can compete with a human connection when it comes to matching. There are just too many variables in place. Monster recently launched a pretty impressive Semantic search engine to try to make better matches. The technology is amazing, light years ahead of its competitors. But the truth is that the future of online recruiting is not simply in search engines. It’s in human connections and conversations.

Author: "Ryan Healy" Tags: "Work"
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Date: Tuesday, 09 Mar 2010 14:42

Since diving into the world of social media I’ve had countless inspired ideas and conversations about business, entrepreneurship, Generation Y and more. I’ve also been able to create some amazing connections and relationships based on these conversations. What I’ve realized is that the social media tools we use every day give us the power to be known for our ideas. It’s pretty amazing stuff.

The only problem is that all of these great ideas get lost in the shuffle of real time status updates, endless blog archives, and short attention spans. If I wanted to show someone what my online persona was all about, I would have to dig up a bunch of old links and point them all over the internet. It works, but it’s certainly not efficient.

Today, we launched Social Resumes to combat this problem and to make your everyday use of social media truly useful for your career.

A Social Resume is the first of its kind, active, live resume that lets you showcase your top ideas from around the web and share them in one convenient place. It’s a resume that highlights your thoughts and future plans as much as your past experience.

Thousands of people are already engaging in conversations and feeding blog posts and tweets into their Brazen Careerist profiles. Now you can scan all of this activity, determine what best represents your professional brand, and add it directly to your Social Resume. If you don’t want to dig through old posts or you have some great ideas that aren’t on Brazen Careerist yet, you can go directly to your Social Resume and add a top idea in the box provided.

Here’s a screen shot of my Social Resume to illustrate:

We’ve been beta testing Social Resumes for the past week, and I’m already blown away by the ideas people are sharing and the different ways everyone is using their Social Resume.

Emily Jasper browsed through her activity and added her blog post “Hi My name is Emily and I’m pro corporate” as one of her top ideas. People can now go directly to Emily’s Social Resume to read all 12 comments and join the conversation right there.

Dale Beermann took a different angle and decided to enter some ideas directly into his Social Resume. Dale’s #3 top idea says,

“Engineering is only a means to determine and achieve a particular goal, not the goal in and of itself.”

He makes a great point.

Ellen Nordahl took an even different approach. Ellen gave a quick explanation of one of her favorite blog posts, “Starting over in the same city” and then linked directly to the post. Readers can now visit Ellen’s blog to join the conversation, or leave a comment on her Social Resume.

The coolest thing about your Social Resume is that it can be used however you choose. You have 10 chances to show the world the ideas that best compliment your traditional resume and represent your professional brand.

Traditional resumes show people your experience; what you’ve done, where you’ve worked and what you’ve accomplished. This is all useful information, but it doesn’t provide any insight into how you think or what you plan to do in the future. You show the world these things every day when you engage in conversations online. Now you have a place to showcase it all.

To learn more about Social Resume’s and see a tutorial video on how to use them, check out our Social Resume reference page.

Author: "Ryan Healy" Tags: "Work"
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Date: Monday, 01 Mar 2010 02:17

“(Most entrepreneurs) simply got tired of working for others, had a great idea they wanted to commercialize, or woke up one day with an urgent desire to build wealth before they retired. So they took the big leap.”

Vivek Wadhwa, an entrepreneur turned academic, claims that despite the common misconception that entrepreneurs are a certain “type” of person, most entrepreneurs are not simply born with the ability to start and build businesses, they learn how to do this over time. It’s the classic nature vs. nurture argument, and many well respected people including the likes of Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures and Jason Calacanis of Mahalo, are bullish on nature.

However, Wadwha’s survey of 549 successful entrepreneurs proves otherwise. More than 50% of these entrepreneurs were the first in their family to start a business, only a quarter caught the entrepreneurial bug when in college, and very few were running lemonade stand businesses when they were in diapers.

Graph

Personally, I didn’t know I wanted to be an entrepreneur until late in college when an entrepreneur friend of mine told me he thought I’d make a good one. My parents were very interested in their jobs and often dinner conversation turned to work, but they did not run their own businesses. And sure, I may have sold Gatorade that my mother bought for a huge mark up one time when I was 8 years old, but I certainly wasn’t running a lemonade stand monopoly.

I guess I’m a lot like the people Wadhwa refers to above. One day I woke up and knew I had no interest in working for someone for the rest of my life. I needed excitement, I needed passion and I needed to do something that mattered. Now, I can’t see myself ever doing something else.

I agree with Wadwha, entrepreneurs can absolutely be made. As long as you have a great idea and you’re willing to work harder than you can possibly imagine, anyone can be an entrepreneur.

What do you guys think? Are entrepreneurs born or can they be made?

Author: "Ryan Healy" Tags: "Work"
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Date: Monday, 18 Jan 2010 01:00

Last week, following the recent changes in privacy settings, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said that if he were to create Facebook again today, user information would be public by default.

Personally, I think Facebooks recent shift in privacy settings was a smart move. For the social web to truly be “social,” data must be freely available to everyone.

Twitter understood this when developing their service and we understood it when deciding to make Brazen Careerist open. Also, as services like Twitter, Blogging and Brazen Careerist have become more and more prevalent, people seem to be less concerned with online privacy. I’m conscious of what I say online, and I have nothing to hide, so privacy is a non factor for me.

But the real reason I think it’s a smart move for Facebook is because opening the site will improve their bottom line. When you open everything up, people become much more aware of what they post and what they don’t post online. And when 350 million people are consciously monitoring what they post, the number of beer bonging photos and mentions of last night’s illegal escapades will go way down. When these things go way down, advertising rates go way up..

However, this post by Greg Tracy made me think of the issue in a whole new way. Tracy argues that privacy absolutely matters for Facebook, and Twitter and blogging are terrible data points. They are poor data points because Facebook is different. Facebook is supposed to be an online extension of your everyday offline life. Offline, you have private conversations with your neighbors on the sidewalk or with your coworkers at the water cooler. These conversations would never be shouted for a neighbor down the street to hear you or for your boss in the corner office to find out what's going on.

Tracy goes on to say that people aren’t changing and Facebook will not make them change. Facebook is merely a new medium to do the same things we have always done. Twitter and Blogging are very different. Twitter and Blogging are not supposed to be an extension of your offline life. They are meant for public consumption, just like newspapers, magazines and television are meant for public consumption.

Tracy makes an excellent point. Facebook could be making a huge mistake by following the lead of Twitter and other new, open sites. But, it could also very well be that they recognize there is no money in being an extension of offline life, and they are making the smartest business decision they can by downplaying privacy.

If Facebook truly wants to be the place where you live your life online the same way you live your life offline, they are making a mistake by downplaying privacy issues. You can change the medium, but you can’t change how people fundamentally behave.

However, if Facebook believes that they are not merely a new medium to do what you have always done, but instead they are a new media tool designed to give people a brand new way to behave and communicate, then Facebook is on the right track.

I’m sure Facebook will go whatever route can make them the most money, but whichever way they decide to go, they’re going to piss some people off, and they’re going to leave the door wide open for a new service to come along and fill in where Facebook does not.

What do you guys think? Is privacy a major issue for you? Do you agree with Zuckerberg?

Author: "Ryan Healy" Tags: "Work"
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Date: Monday, 23 Nov 2009 19:52

Linkedin started the concept of Social Recruiting when they launched in 2003, and now it’s the buzz of the recruiting world. ERE just hosted a social recruiting conference to discuss the do’s and don’ts of social recruiting. Of course, some of the hot topics are around whether Twitter, Facebook and blogs are a good way to recruit candidates, and if so how do you go about recruiting them?

Whether or not these sites can help you recruit talent is not really a question. Of course they can. But because these sites are not built for recruiting and do not offer products to aid the recruiting process, it’s not an easy task. There are hundreds of ways to source candidates through these networks and if you spend enough time on them, you’ll find the talent your organization is looking for.

Unfortunately, sorting through all of the crap on Facebook and making sense of the rapid fire tweets on Twitter to find the right candidates takes a ton of time. Considering most recruiters are hard pressed to find an extra second in their day, it can be difficult to justify giving social recruiting a try.

One thing a company could do is ask their recruiters to work more hours. Of course, this won’t work. Recruiters will leave for another company so they can have a life.

Another option might be to have social media specialists. Put your least experienced, most tech savvy recruiters in charge of social media and don’t have them bother with phone calls or emails. Again, probably not a good idea. Phone calls and emails still work; social media will not change this.

What you should do is listen to the advice from two recent posts by John Sullivan on ERE.net. The author tells companies to stop worrying about how to get recruiters to use social media for recruiting and instead get your recruiters to start thinking of themselves as managers and organizers, responsible for getting your employees on the front lines.

Sullivan says, “Social media erupted as tools to facilitate interaction, and interaction in too many aspects of one’s life can be time consuming and exhausting! Fortunately there is an answer to this problem: don’t do it alone. Use employees to build relationships, and then take advantage of those relationships!”

There are hundreds of millions of people on social networks, and each of your employees is probably connected to thousands of them. It’s already a proven fact that the number one source of new hires is referrals. If you want to improve your situation and attract top talent, your organization should be focused on how to get even more new hires through referrals.

When you really think about it, social media is built for this; it’s the ultimate referral tool. Social media is based on relationships, conversation and existing connections. When you have those things, the need for cold calls, random job postings and advanced search techniques goes way down.

If you really want to capitalize on “social recruiting,” figure out how to make each of your employees your #1 recruiter, than sit back and watch your successful new hires go through the roof.

For some great tips on how your organization can do this, check out John Sullivan’s most recent post on ERE.

Author: "Ryan Healy" Tags: "Work"
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Date: Thursday, 12 Nov 2009 13:00

In a recent talk, Tony Hsieh, the CEO and founder of Zappos was asked about how the company manages work-life balance.

Hsieh replied,

“For most companies (work-life balance) implies that work must suck so much you need a life on the outside. At Zappos we’re more focused on creating a lifestyle. We don’t think of it as one or the other. Most Zappos employees leave work and hang out with other Zappos employees.”

He’s right. While it’s usually done with good intentions, focusing on work-life balance is killing your corporate culture. Like Hsieh says, the mere term implies that work must be so terrible that you need to stop thinking about it the second you walk out the door.

This was a great philosophy – in 1890. In the days of 8 hour shifts on an assembly line, everyone had work-life balance. When the machines shut down, there were no widgets to be made; you couldn’t work if you wanted to. And there was no point in dreaming about how to get the job done better or faster or how to beat the competition when the machine dictated everything you did.

Its 2009 and things are different now. We live in a knowledge based world. The companies who dream, innovate and change the world are the ones that win. No one is making world changing innovations in 8 hour shifts, 5 days a week. Ideas come in your sleep and breakthroughs come at happy hours.

Start-ups are doomed the second people start talking about work-life balance and begin thinking of each other as nothing more than “coworkers.” They need to be best friends, they need to work around the clock, or at least be thinking about work around the clock, and they need to kick and scream and fight together, just to survive. So start-ups create a culture where work is a lifestyle. Zappos is well past the start-up phase, but they’ve managed to do this too.

Stop worrying about work-life balance or how to give people as much time off as possible, and start thinking about how to create an environment where people never want to take time off. Not because they’re scared or intimidated, but because they can’t think of anything in the world they would rather be doing than working with their peers and friends to achieve a common goal.

The employees you really want aren’t looking for a job, they’re looking for a lifestyle. Create one for them.

Author: "Ryan Healy" Tags: "Work"
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Date: Wednesday, 26 Aug 2009 19:14

As most of you know, Brazen Careerist has been live since March 2008. But, really, we just launched it yesterday. The site has gone from an idea, to a tiny aggregator of 50 Gen Y bloggers, to a network of thousands with social networking features like profiles and groups. And now, we're taking the giant leap to turn the site into a career management tool for next-generation professionals.

You might be thinking, why does Brazen Careerist keep changing what they're doing? My response to that question is, we didn't really have a choice. Over the past six months we've listened to the community and we've listened to the marketplace. And what they both keep telling us is that young professionals (Gen Y) are looking for a professional home on the internet.

On the community side, our groups feature has continued to take off and members now think of Brazen Careerist as a full scale social network. New members are joining every day and engagement on the site is increasing dramatically.

When I read the bios on some of these new profiles, I'm blown away. We have successful entrepreneurs, marketers, freelancers, IT workers, and more. And they're all driven, motivated and accomplished. Our members now think of us as a professional network, and it became glaringly obvious that we had to give them what they wanted.

On the other side, the marketplace needs a young professional social network. Here's why.

Facebook is home base. We all know this. Facebook is where you share your personal information, send messages to established offline friends, and browse through photos from the good ol' days of college. Facebook is not where you meet new people, build a network, and have work related conversations.

Linkedin is the dominant player in the online career network space. It's where you should have a professional profile because it's where your boss and your future boss probably hang out. But the average age on Linkedin is 40, and the profiles emphasize experience – something people in their twenties are a little short on.

When we looked at all of these factors, we realized, there's a huge niche that needs to be filled – a professional network for Gen Y – and our community that started as a little blog aggregator is in the perfect position to fill that niche. So, with this launch, that's what we've done.

First of all, we gave the site a complete facelift, improved the user experience and made just about everything customizable to you – the way a social networking site should be. But most importantly, we completely revamped our profiles to emphasize ideas over experience. The new profiles aggregate everything you say or do on Brazen Careerist. From blog posts to group chatter to profile updates, the new profiles display all of this activity in a feed to show that your experience and background aren't the only indicators of success. Your ideas and potential matter too.

The other part of our profiles showcase standard resume information including work experience and education to give a complete picture of who you are and what you have accomplished – even if it's not 20+ years of experience in a single field.

On a personal note, the past few months have been crazy at the Brazen Careerist office. We've pulled countless all nighters, we've had our fair share of arguments, we've had plenty of great discussions, and Photis, our lead developer even managed to lock himself out of his office an hour before our final load balance test, only to pull a MacGyver and climb through the roof to get to his computer. (This was hilarious, you can see photos here) All in all, it's been everything a pre-launch period is supposed to be and we've all had a great time doing it.

So please, check out the site, create a profile if you don't have one and let us know what you think because community feedback is what made the site what it is today, and it's what will make the site great in the coming months!

Author: "Ryan Healy" Tags: "Work"
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Date: Tuesday, 18 Aug 2009 15:19

Starting a business is not about the big idea you have. Very seldom does someone come up with an earth shattering, ground-breaking business idea one day, and change the world a few years later. In fact, from my experience, the companies that do change the world tend to come about quite randomly, and the ones that started with an earth shattering idea tend to go bust.

Take Facebook for example. Mark Zuckerberg didn't invent social networking. He stole the idea from a couple of twins from Harvard who hired him to help build a website based on an idea that they stole from a company called Friendster. Six years later, Zuckerberg is a billionaire, the twins made cash by suing Zuckerberg, and Friendster is looking to sell for far less than their investors would hope for.

Twitter started as a side project. The original idea was completely based around sending status updates from your mobile phone. A few years later, that basic idea is still very much a part of Twitter, but it's turned into so much more. It's a new form of communication and it's changing the world as we know it.

The funny thing is, it took Twitter years to even understand what their idea REALLY was. Go look at the new homepage. It's all about real time search. What's happening right now? That's what Twitter is. Well, until three weeks ago, you could go to the homepage and the about page and any other page on the site and have no idea why Twitter was actually useful. The founders didn't even know. It took a lot of money, a ton of hard work and a lot of smart minds to wrap their heads around what the idea actually was and then figure out how they could present it to the world.

The point is, entrepreneurship is not about a big idea. It's about execution and it's about a whole boat load of little ideas that come from assembling a smart team of people and giving them the freedom to innovate.

That's why I loved reading about the new initiative by YCombinator. They will be issuing RFS's or Requests for Startups. Basically they give some ideas of what kind of company they are looking for and they will accept the entrepreneurs that pitch the best way to get the idea done. Obviously the people at YCombinator understand that startups need an idea, but the successful ones are the startups that make ideas come to life.

Over the past two years since starting Brazen Careerist I've realized this first hand. When Penelope and I first discussed starting a company, we had no idea what we were going to do. We knew the market we wanted go into, and we knew that we wanted to help people with their careers, but that's about it. No crazy ideas to change the world. Just a desire to do something great.

Since then, we've all had a lot of good ideas and a lot of bad ideas, and the whole team has worked their tails off to make this whole thing come to life. And finally after a couple of years, we have a pretty good idea of what our business is. All it took was not being able to pay rent occasionally, showering and living at the office some days, working when we were supposed to be sleeping, and cheering our one-man development team as he coded until 6 am.

All that stuff is called execution. And that's what running a business is all about. Every startup that's lived on for more than a couple months has done the same thing, and every successful start-up will continue to do the same thing.

My point is this. If you're dying to be an entrepreneur because you're full of ideas, just pick one. Put a plan together, create some milestones, pitch in some capital, recruit a partner or two, hit your milestones and execute on the plan that you created. Be prepared for sacrifice, instability, arguments, being terrified, and a serious lack of sleep. Because that's what the game is really all about. Your idea is just the beginning.

Author: "Ryan Healy" Tags: "Brazen CareeristEntrepreneurship"
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Date: Tuesday, 18 Aug 2009 15:19

Starting a business is not about the big idea you have. Very seldom does someone come up with an earth shattering, ground-breaking business idea one day, and change the world a few years later. In fact, from my experience, the companies that do change the world tend to come about quite randomly, and the ones that started with an earth shattering idea tend to go bust.

Take Facebook for example. Mark Zuckerberg didn't invent social networking. He stole the idea from a couple of twins from Harvard who hired him to help build a website based on an idea that they stole from a company called Friendster. Six years later, Zuckerberg is a billionaire, the twins made cash by suing Zuckerberg, and Friendster is looking to sell for far less than their investors would hope for.

Twitter started as a side project. The original idea was completely based around sending status updates from your mobile phone. A few years later, that basic idea is still very much a part of Twitter, but it's turned into so much more. It's a new form of communication and it's changing the world as we know it.

The funny thing is, it took Twitter years to even understand what their idea REALLY was. Go look at the new homepage. It's all about real time search. What's happening right now? That's what Twitter is. Well, until three weeks ago, you could go to the homepage and the about page and any other page on the site and have no idea why Twitter was actually useful. The founders didn't even know. It took a lot of money, a ton of hard work and a lot of smart minds to wrap their heads around what the idea actually was and then figure out how they could present it to the world.

The point is, entrepreneurship is not about a big idea. It's about execution and it's about a whole boat load of little ideas that come from assembling a smart team of people and giving them the freedom to innovate.

That's why I loved reading about the new initiative by YCombinator. They will be issuing RFS's or Requests for Startups. Basically they give some ideas of what kind of company they are looking for and they will accept the entrepreneurs that pitch the best way to get the idea done. Obviously the people at YCombinator understand that startups need an idea, but the successful ones are the startups that make ideas come to life.

Over the past two years since starting Brazen Careerist I've realized this first hand. When Penelope and I first discussed starting a company, we had no idea what we were going to do. We knew the market we wanted go into, and we knew that we wanted to help people with their careers, but that's about it. No crazy ideas to change the world. Just a desire to do something great.

Since then, we've all had a lot of good ideas and a lot of bad ideas, and the whole team has worked their tails off to make this whole thing come to life. And finally after a couple of years, we have a pretty good idea of what our business is. All it took was not being able to pay rent occasionally, showering and living at the office some days, working when we were supposed to be sleeping, and cheering our one-man development team as he coded until 6 am.

All that stuff is called execution. And that's what running a business is all about. Every startup that's lived on for more than a couple months has done the same thing, and every successful start-up will continue to do the same thing.

My point is this. If you're dying to be an entrepreneur because you're full of ideas, just pick one. Put a plan together, create some milestones, pitch in some capital, recruit a partner or two, hit your milestones and execute on the plan that you created. Be prepared for sacrifice, instability, arguments, being terrified, and a serious lack of sleep. Because that's what the game is really all about. Your idea is just the beginning.

Author: "Ryan Healy" Tags: "Brazen CareeristEntrepreneurship"
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Date: Tuesday, 23 Jun 2009 10:00

As a twenty-something entrepreneur with an incredibly full workload, I far too often find myself falling behind in my personal life. I'm not talking about my social life, of course. I always find a way to grab dinner with my girlfriend, sneak in a round of golf, or go out for a night on the town. That's the fun stuff. I'm talking about the annoying daily tasks like going grocery shopping, cleaning my apartment, paying the bills, doing taxes and running out to the store to pick up essentials like trash bags, razors and toilet paper.

No matter how hard I try, I cannot get in the habit of doing these things in a timely way. So recently I've been figuring out how to automate as many of these tasks as possible.

The trend towards automating your life and relying on services is nothing new for twenty-something's. Websites that save you the extra trip to the store, like Netflix are a staple among my friends. And most people I know are living in apartments or condos, where you don't have to worry about stuff like mowing the lawn, raking the leaves, or shoveling snow.

With the emergence of Web 2.0, there are a new whole host of services that let you automate your life. My recent automation to-do has been automating my finances. I put all of my information into Mint.com so I can see my entire financial picture at a glance. Then I read Ramit's book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, and automated my bills as much as possible.

Now that my finances are taken care of, the next annoying task on my automation to-do list is to make sure I never have to run out to buy essentials again. Alice.com is launching in beta today, and if the site works out as advertised, my weekly trip to Walgreens will no longer be necessary.

Alice lets you set up reminders for when you need to reorder a product. At first you take a guess as to when you will next need a product. When the time comes, you get a reminder. But as you continue to use the site, Alice actually tracks how often you reorder each product and delivers automated reminders so you never have to run out to CVS at 6:30 in the morning because you threw your last razor out three days ago!

As busy as we all are between our careers, social lives, online networking, exercising etc. it's nice to have a handful of tools to automate the annoying tasks, and save us time and money. Alice definitely has the potential to become a welcome addition to my automation toolset.

The folks over at Alice were nice enough to offer a giveaway to the readers on Employee Evolution and Brazen Careerist. So I figured I would keep it simple. Leave a comment below listing one of the tools you use to automate your life or make your life easier. It can be anything from your Netflix subscription, products or services, your addiction to Mint, living in an apartment, or your monthly wine delivery. Get creative! We'll choose our 5 favorite comments and each will receive a $100 credit to use towards purchases on Alice.com. Good Luck!

(*Disclaimer, my girlfriend works at Alice, but the site is great regardless!)

Author: "Ryan Healy" Tags: "MoneyProductivityTechnology"
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Date: Tuesday, 02 Jun 2009 18:44

Generation Y is annoying to manage. We're annoying to manage because, get this; we actually want people to manage us! Gen Y grew up very close with our parents, and we got a ton of feedback from teachers, coaches etc. Because of this, managers are encountering entry-level workers who are basically begging and pleading to be managed closely.

The problem is that over the last 20 or 30 years, management has become a lost art. People are promoted after a few years on the job. They get more money, more responsibility, more work, and oh yeah, they get to manage three other people too.

Finding time to care about three other peoples career when you're so intent on advancing your own career is not an easy task. So the trend has been to let people figure it out on their own.

This worked great for Gen X, a group of people who take serious pride in independently getting the job done. But not so much for Gen Y. We would much rather work with our managers, our peers and our team to get the job done, and have fun doing it.

Because of this, Gen Y is creating an incredible shift in what management means, and the managers who accept and adapt to this shift are the ones who will be leading successful organizations in the coming years.

So, if you're managing Gen Y you can do one of two things. You can say they are annoying to manage and whine and complain about how needy they are. Or, you can embrace this as a gift. The next time a Gen Y employee comes into your office with a question on how to do something correctly, put everything aside for ten minutes and push him in the right direction.

The ten minutes of your time it takes to give detailed feedback or correct a mistake today, can save you days or weeks of fixing the mistake in the long run.

Author: "Ryan Healy" Tags: "Generation YMillennials"
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Date: Thursday, 23 Apr 2009 14:53

Generation Y practically invented social media. Friendster was the original, but when Facebook came on the college scene in 2004, everything changed. College students took their offline friends and aggregated them in one place online. Guys browsed through their college networks to find cute girls they had seen at the library, and everyone posted photos from last night’s drunken party or Saturday afternoon’s football game.

Facebook was like being at a college frat party with all the people from your school, but online.

Well, things changed. Facebook opened up, Second Life created a virtual world for everyone to live in, LinkedIn connected all the older white-collar professionals, Twitter jumped on the scene and let all the narcissists scream, “Look at me,” and Facebook followed the trend with their new redesign.

But Generation Y is not inventing the new web. Older people are. The new web is all about hyper-connectivity, real-time updates, and living your life online. And mainstream twenty-somethings aren’t buying into it.

Twitter
According to Comscore, the majority of Twitter users worldwide are 35 or older. Young adults 18-24 only make up 10.6% of the Twitter population in the US and are less likely than the average user to tweet. 45-54 year olds are actually 36 percent more likely than average to visit Twitter.

The traditional social media early adopters are 18 -24 and Twitter is the new social media darling. Why isn’t Gen Y biting?

LinkedIn
Gen Y is not on LinkedIn. The average age of a LinkedIn user is 40-years old. LinkedIn profiles do two things. They let you show the world all the great things you’ve accomplished (most twenty-somethings haven’t accomplished much yet) and they let you connect with other business people in your industry (Gen Y has no idea what industry they’re in and don’t have many connections yet).

Want more proof that LinkedIn doesn’t get Gen Y? They just did a major marketing and PR push to recent grads offering their premium service for 3 months free and pitching the site as a way to get jobs in a down economy. So far, this isn’t working, and I don’t expect it to anytime soon.

Facebook
Facebook is growing at an unparalleled speed, and the new adopters are older folks. The 35 to 54 Year old demographic grew at a rate of 276% over the last six months and the 55+ demographic grew more than 194% over the same time period, while 18-24 year olds only grew 20%. These same older adopters are joining sites like Twitter where it’s all about real-time updates and hyper-connectivity.

When Facebook made a design change to simulate Twitter, there was a major user revolt, of course, many of the angriest people were long time Facebook users (i.e. Gen Y). Sure, change is difficult and oftentimes people buy in after some getting used to. But this one just seems different.

Want More?
A recent Accenture survey concluded that Baby boomers, defined in Accenture’s survey as those 45 years old or older, are embracing popular consumer technology applications nearly 20 times faster than younger generations. Compared to a year ago, Gen Y consumers between the ages of 18 and 24, are decelerating their use of consumer electronics and related services including social networking, blogging, listening to podcasts and posting video on the Internet. Yet, there was a 67 percent increase among baby boomers reading blogs or listening to podcasts..

So why isn’t Gen Y buying in to the new web?

Are we simply not a group of early adopters? Would we rather be the followers waiting to see what our older, more experienced peers latch on to before we jump in?

Or, does Gen Y have an innate sense that too much connectivity and too much time online is unproductive and does nothing more than allow you to run in circles and chase something that you can never actually attain.

Or maybe, Gen Y is still all about being cool, and Silicon Valley just isn’t that cool. Facebook isn’t even pretending to be cool anymore.

Chris Cox, Facebook’s Director of Products says, “The people who started the company weren’t cool. I’m not cool, if you look at the people who work here, it’s much more nerdy and curious than cool….Cool only lasts for so long, but being useful is something that applies to everyone.”

He’s probably right. Useful does apply to everyone, but hip, early adopters are always chasing cool. They’re not chasing useful.

Personally, I think its a combination of the three and when the right tool comes along, Gen Y will take the lead. But whatever the reason is, the numbers show that mainstream Gen Y is not latching on to the newest social media tools, and for a group of people who are supposed to be the trend setters, this is a strange phenomenon.

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Date: Thursday, 05 Mar 2009 17:45

My father turned 60 last month. The plan was always to bring him to Ireland for his 60th birthday. Unfortunately, the recession hit and I’m a little short on cash, so we’re scrapping the plan until his 61st, and going on a short family vacation to West Palm Beach.

It’s been a long time since I went on a real vacation. Since starting Brazen Careerist, I haven’t really taken any time off. Work is always on my mind, and I’ve found some way to work every single day for the past 18 months. In a lot of ways it doesn’t seem right to drop everything and take a real vacation. We just took in some funding, we’re gaining new users and readers faster than ever, and I’m full of ideas for where the site should go in the next six to twelve months. The truth is, shutting off for four days doesn’t even sound like fun.

So, Ive decided that I will be working on vacation. I won’t be sitting in front of a computer all day, but I will be running new ideas past my brother and Rebecca. I’ll be discussing our latest financing round and other issues with my parents. And I’ll probably put together a PowerPoint presentation for our March board meeting on the plane and at the airports.

I have allowed work to completely, totally, consume my life, and I couldn’t be happier. After years of discussing what work life balance really means I’ve realized that to me, at this point in time, working on vacation is my perfect work/life balance.

What’s yours?

For more thoughts on working on vacation, check out the post I wrote from Napa Valley, California (my last real vacation)

When Working on Vacation Isn’t Really Work

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Date: Thursday, 26 Feb 2009 10:00

Last May, I wrote a post titled 10 Ways Generation Y Will Change the Workplace. It received a lot of attention and more importantly a lot of conversation. The gist of the post was not to say that Generation Y is great and we will make everything better. Rather, it was a testament to what I witnessed during trips to different companies and what I heard from my peers in the workforce.

Nine months later, the economy has collapsed and the workplace is changing before our eyes. This next year or two will be a defining time for our generation, and I believe it will shape our world view and work view in many ways. Based on this, I’ve come up with 10 more ways Generation Y will change the workplace. Hopefully it will strike up just as much conversation and maybe even some action, so things can start changing for the better.

1. We’ll reduce executive compensation for underperforming companies

It’s already happening. Obama put a $500,000 cap on executive pay at the banks that were bailed out. In 2007, the average CEO salary at the largest companies was more than $11 Million. It’s hard to justify paying anyone that much. In some cases, these executives probably do provide more $11 million in value to their respective companies. And when that happens, they should be compensated for it. But having a CEO expect $11 million regardless of performance is just bad business. The Obama administration is setting the precedent, and as Gen Y takes power we will follow through and reduce executive compensation for underperforming companies.

2. Discussing salaries will be completely normal

Transparency is king. You hear it everywhere these days. Social media is forcing companies to open up their doors and show the world what’s really going on. Obama has promised budget transparency to the American public. And the vast majority of the world’s under-30 population are living their entire lives online. Transparency is no longer an option. Websites like Glassdoor and Payscale let you compare your salary with others in the industry. My company, Brazen Careerist practices complete transparency. Even financial gurus like Suzie Orman say it’s great for business. As Gen Y continues to work our way up the ladder, it will just be a matter of time before companies of all sizes have transparent salaries.

3. Employees will be more loyal than ever before

Transparency does not just mean that everyone knows what everyone else in a company makes. It means that the company must educate their employees on everything that is going on. When Pepsi was ready to release their new “Gen Y Friendly” logo to the world, they wanted to make sure that their employees weren’t surprised when they found it in the grocery store. So they invited their staff to a party and introduced the product. The employees were excited and they felt like the company actually cared about them. When employees feel like they matter and the company thinks about them first, they feel a sense of pride and true loyalty to a company. Expect to see this trend continue as Gen Y comes of age.

4. There will be less mass layoffs, but more pay cuts
When someone feels a true sense of pride and loyalty to their company, they’re more likely to figure out a way for everyone to pull through when times are tough. We watched our parents and our friend’s parents being laid off when we were young and we’re going through it now. We know the hardship that comes with it. Don’t be surprised to see across-the-board pay-cuts instead of mass layoffs when times get tough. Start ups do it all the time – my company did it without thinking twice. And it’s already happening at large corporations; HP just instituted a 5% or more across-the-board pay-cut rather than laying off hundreds. When you’re part of a team, you want that team to succeed, and you’ll do what’s necessary to survive. And as we all know, Generation Y is the ultimate team player generation.

5. We’ll truly get over the “punch clock” mentality
It’s easy to say you have a progressive workplace and that you don’t care what hours people are actually working at the office or what they do outside of work. But the truth is, companies care and people care. At the typical company, everyone notices what time someone leaves the office and what time people get in. We’re still stuck in a workplace that was designed around producing widgets on an assembly line. As life moves more and more online, and new technologies are invented that allow traditional offices to be truly optional, the punch clock mentality will slowly disappear. By the time Gen Y is ready to retire, people won’t even know what a punch clock is, and maybe then we will finally be working in the environment that knowledge workers are meant to work in.

6. Independent contractors will become part of the team
Nearly every company hires independent contractors to work for them. Contractors are great. They don’t require health insurance and you don’t have to pay the extra taxes. But they’re often treated very differently than traditional employees. As more people develop skills that allow them to be effective independent contractors, and some form of universal healthcare is finally adopted, companies will begin to think of their contractors as their employees. When Brazen had a big budget, we worked with a ton of contractors. When people asked how many employees we had, I would always mention that our team felt much larger because of all the freelancers. As the number of independent contractors increases, they will become a vital part of the team.

7. Corporate branding will work in conjunction with personal branding

Companies spend a lot of money on branding. They throw huge budgets at PR firms and superbowl ads. It usually results in a ton of brand recognition. But brand recognition is no longer enough. Consumers want transparency, conversation and experience. Generation Y doesn’t want a company to talk AT us, we want to talk WITH a company. The only way for a company to talk with a person is to give employees the freedom to interact. It’s already happening as people like Sharpie Susan are branding themselves as social media players and helping their companies in the process. Who knows exactly how this will play out, but as Gen Y invents new technologies and new marketing strategies, corporate branding will never look the same.

8. Leadership will be a team effort
Jack Welch was a larger than life CEO. Everyone knew who he was and his personal brand may have been just as big as GE’s brand. In Good to Great, Jim Collins determined that dominant CEOs like Jack Welch actually have a lower than average ROI during their tenure. This is because CEOs need to be respected and admired by their employees, and they need to be selfless and always thinking about the organization. As a team-oriented group, Generation Y will not stand by and watch one person insert his will on the company. We will figure out a new form of leadership, where one person is the decision maker, but leading is a team effort. With all the new social technologies, there will always be a place for people with huge personal brands and huge personal egos. They will make a lot of money and still be well-known, but they won’t be the ones running large organizations.

9. We will really know people before we hire them

I can’t tell you exactly how they will look, but sooner than later, resumes will be extremely different. It’s not because a hard copy piece of paper is outdated, it’s because people are becoming more and more complex. Resumes were created when people went to school, graduated, got a job and maybe another job. But today people blog, job-hop and have multiple hobbies outside of work. We live our lives online. It’s too limiting to judge someone based on one sheet of paper. Social technologies give employers a window into people’s souls. As Gen Y become responsible for hiring decisions, you can bet we will know almost everything we possibly can about someone before we give them an offer.

10. Entry level employees will be students and teachers

In the old days, entry-level employees had to pay dues before they moved up. This makes sense, it’s impossible to know how a job or an industry works when you’ve never been there before. Young people had everything to learn and nothing to teach. Things are different now. For the first time in history, the youngest people in the workplace have the most knowledge about a very important topic – technology. And get this; we want to teach our bosses and managers how to use these technologies. This trend will continue. Young people will stay on top of the newest useful technologies. As Gen Y grows up, cross-mentor programs will be instituted. Old will teach young and young will teach old. Sounds like a great environment to me.

Author: "--"
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Date: Monday, 16 Feb 2009 18:13

I do a lot of speeches and meetings where I’m educating people much older than me on a specific topic. So it’s important for me to appear competent, knowledgeable and quite frankly, older than I actually am. Over the past two years, I’ve learned a few things about fitting in when you’re the youngest one in the room. Here are six tips for you to remember.

1. Talk about technology
This is the first time in history that the youngest generation in the workforce has the most knowledge on a very important business topic – technology. This gives Generation Y a ton of advantages that past generations didn’t have. We can provide ideas for new marketing techniques and new recruiting strategies, and we can implement these ideas at very little cost. Regardless of whether or not it’s true, people assume that if you’re in your twenties, you are an expert on technology. The next time you’re in a room full of people talking about a topic that’s a little over your head, pick the right time to chime in and talk about technology. Explain how Facebook, or blogging or Twitter can help. People will listen because when it comes to technology, you’re the expert.

2. Ask questions

When you’re the youngest in the room, it’s important that you appear confident and competent. But you have to be careful that people don’t mistake confidence for arrogance. You’re not expected to know everything at 25, and older folks will expect that you’re always trying to learn. The best way to show people that you want to learn and that you don’t think you know everything is to ask a ton of questions. Be sure the questions are relevant to the topic being discussed, but remember, there’s no such thing as a stupid question (only stupid people…just kidding!)

3. When the kid convo comes up, keep your mouth shut

I hate the kid talk. But somehow, someway, a room full of 30 and 40 somethings will ALWAYS end up talking about their kids. Whether its little league, ballet, their latest illness or anything else, my only advice is to nod your head, force a smile, keep your mouth shut and pretend like you’re interested. At IBM I made the mistake of chiming in on a few of these, but all I could come up with were old war stories about my little league days. Relating to their kids is a quick way to remind everyone how young you are. Avoid this at all costs.

4. Talk about your weekend fun

This may seem a little counter-intuitive, but I’ve found that older folks love hearing your weekend party stories. I’m sure it’s fun for them to relive the old days of late night parties. Usually they will talk about a few stories of their own, it’s a great conversation starter and it allows them to relate to you. This is one case where it actually is ok to show your age because you are relating to the other people in the room, not their kids. Just be sure you don’t give too many less than professional details and you’ll be fine.

5. Be an expert, but don’t flaunt it

You should be an expert in something. There is no excuse for you not to have some sort of specialty or at least a career-specific topic that you are highly interested in. When that topic does come up, it’s the perfect opportunity to display all the hard work you’ve put into becoming an expert. Talk about your ideas and give some background on how you learned about the topic. Just be careful that you don’t flaunt your “expert status” too much. Nobody likes a show off.

6. Accept every favor you’re offered

In college, I wanted to be a psych major. Turns out, I’m much more into analyzing my own issues then other peoples. But that’s beside the point. One thing I learned in a Social Psychology class is that people actually like you more after they do a favor for you. It seems strange, but it’s true. And when you’re the youngest in the room you probably have the least money and least connections, so if they like you, people will offer you things like sports tickets, introductions to high-powered friends etc. Next time, remember that they want you to accept this favor and they’ll actually like you more if you do!

Depending on how you look at it, being the youngest in the room can be a good thing or a bad thing. Some people will never give you a chance if you’re under 30, but if you remember these six tips, you’ll have a better shot at fitting in with the older crowd.

Author: "--"
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Date: Thursday, 12 Feb 2009 14:32

My first six months in Wisconsin were interesting to say the least. Ryan Paugh and I lived on $1,000 a month in a beat up old house on the East Side of Madison. We worked from home, we rarely went out, we fought with each other, we fought with Penelope, and we watched the snow pile up on the cold Wisconsin ground month after month.

By all accounts, it was pretty terrible. I was used to having lots of friends, going out all the time, and counting on a good paycheck to come in every other week.

But then we raised some money. We took bonuses, we got regular paychecks, we hired people, we rented an office, and I moved in to a nice place with my brother and bought a flat screen TV. It was great. It was comfortable.

It was boring.

Any true entrepreneur will tell you that the best time in the life of a start up is the beginning. You work tons of hours and you can’t wait until you’re funded because that’s when you’ll be able to do the things you really want to do.

But once you get funded, the headaches just begin, and it starts to feel like a “real job.” It’s easy to get comfortable, to forget about all the hard work you put in before there was cash in the bank. And strangely enough, you end up wishing you could go back to the beginning or sell your company and start a new one.

Rather than being completely focused on the company, I found myself walking down the street, sometimes nostalgic about the little apartment Ryan and I lived in and sometimes dreaming about our big exit and all the money that would come with it.

Then, before we even realized what was happening, the market crashed, investors pulled back, and we didn’t have salaries anymore. The whole company had gotten too comfortable; we weren’t prepared to handle the downturn.

But oddly enough, three months later, things are going really well. We made a decision to switch up our business model and bring in revenue any way possible. Every dollar we make is treated like gold, we’ve managed to cut our burn rate by nearly 50% without losing any productivity, and we’ve realized just how many ways there are to make money, without begging someone for a multimillion dollar investment

I’m confident that we’re going to make it through, and I’m convinced that when Brazen Careerist does end up a success, we will have George Bush to thank (Did I really say that?). The recession allowed us, or some might say forced us, to reevaluate and start over.

In a way, I did get my wish, Brazen is like a brand new start up, except we have a site that’s already built, we have founders who have all done this part before, and we have a whole army of people that want us to succeed.

I’ve learned a lot from this whole experience, both personally and professionally. Difficult situations are the best learning opportunities; when things are good it’s very difficult to see how you can improve. But when times are tough you have the opportunity to make difficult, life-altering decisions. Great businesses and great leaders embrace difficult situations and thrive when times are tough.

The question is, when adversity is staring you in the face, will you get comfortable, or will you embrace the adversity and emerge stronger than ever?

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Date: Monday, 02 Feb 2009 10:00

2009 is going to be a tough year for everyone. It’s impossible to ignore that jobs are being shed, people are being laid off and companies shutting down. The economy is in the tank and no one is safe.

Despite all of this, I’m a big believer in seeing the silver lining in the midst of crisis. If you bring it upon yourself to not be fired, to get that great job, or to not let your company go under, you can thrive. It’s certainly not easy, and sometimes it’s not even fun, but tough times show you what people are really made of.

College students are at an especially big disadvantage right now. Not only do they have to deal with an inevitable quarter life crisis, but now they have to deal with finding a good job in the worst economy since the depression.

Despite being extremely tech-savvy, college students typically live in a giant bubble. They associate with people at school, they go to the bars on campus, they wear sweat pants every day of the week, and the only social media they use is posting last night’s pictures on Facebook.

Unfortunately, those giant bubbles need to burst. As the web brings people from all corners of the globe closer together, college students need to step outside of their campus bubbles to compete with top talent and eventually get great jobs. The best way to do this is through social media. The connections you make and the knowledge you gain by immersing yourself in these tools cannot be achieved offline.

Sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and even Facebook can do a lot of good for your career because of the networking opportunities. But to really showcase your thoughts, opinions and strengths to the people looking to hire you, a blog can’t be beat.

Because of this, I’ve written the E-book “Career Blogging: A Guide to Empowering Your Students through Social Media” as a basic guide for university staff, career centers, parents or anyone else trying to help college students succeed in this recessionary job market. The E-Book explains three things:

1. Why blogs are the most effective career tool
2. How students can be successful bloggers
3. How students can use a blog to get the job they want

While this book is clearly written to higher-ed staff, it’s just as useful for students who are considering starting a blog or getting involved in social media. So check it out, and don’t forget to let me know what you think!

Career Blogging: A Guide to Empowering Your Students Through Social Media

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Date: Friday, 16 Jan 2009 01:16

Most high performing people don’t stick around one place their whole lives anymore. They’re generally attracted to large cities with like-minded people. Because of this, companies based in small cities need to work especially hard to recruit top talent. But from my experience, if the right job presents itself, most Gen Y go-getters are totally open to new opportunities and new cities of any size. Companies based in small cities may be at a disadvantage, but there are things they can do to compete. Here are five.

1. Embrace your city
A lot of people grow up with dreams of moving to New York, L.A. or Chicago. So, if you’re headquarters are just outside of Madison, Wisconsin, you better have something up your sleeve to compete.

Epic Systems does. They’re competing by embracing their city. The Madison Art Fair is the place to be when the weather gets nice. When springtime rolls around, Epic encourages their employees to go to the fair and buy a piece of art. Epic will then hang the piece on the wall and reimburse the employee 100%. Epic has figured out how to embrace their location and you better believe they tell visiting recruits where all their beautiful art came from.

2. Put your young people on the front line

The biggest reservation that Gen Yers have about moving to a small city is that nobody our age will live there. When you don’t have a family, a social life is extremely important. Companies need to show recruits that there are other young people working there by putting them on the front line.

Be sure the career fair recruiters are young. When you bring recruits in for an interview, send a young person in as an interviewer, greeter, or tour guide. Finally, let your recruits spend a night out on the town, all expenses paid, with your top young employees. Don’t be shy to instruct your employees to talk about the cost of a night out, or the discounted rent in your small city compared to what it costs in New York or Los Angeles. If they still don’t want to take the job after experiencing the best your small city has to offer, then you’re probably out of luck. But this is one surefire way to find out.

3. Brand yourself as a great place to work
It seems like every year, the same companies end up on the best places to work list. Giants like Google, Ernst & Young and Deloitte are always named. They make the list because they consciously brand themselves as employers. Sure, they brand their products and services, but they know the value of people, and they make sure people know the value of working there.

This year, Quicken loans hit number two on the list. Quicken is located in Livonia, MI, a small city 20 miles outside of Detroit. They manage to attract top talent despite being located in a small city in the Midwest because they are consciously branding themselves as an employer of choice. And they’re making a lot of money doing it.

4. Be a great place to work
Branding your company as a great place to work is a great idea. But an even better idea is to actually practice what you preach and be a great place to work. W.L. Gore has been a great place to work since they started in 1958, and the media has in turn, branded Gore as a great place to work. Without actively pushing their agenda, people (like me) have discovered that Gore is a unique company with no hierarchy, no job titles, and the opportunity for leaders to emerge from anywhere.

They were number 15 on this year’s list, and they’re located in Newark, DE. Newark is a nice little town, but it’s certainly no New York City. Gore has managed to overcome their small city location and thrive for more than 50 years.

5. Expand your recruiting network
You may think that being headquartered in a small city requires you to stay local when it comes to recruiting. I disagree. By staying local, it’s very hard to recruit the top talent. If you want to create a world class business, you need world class talent, and world class talent is probably not all local.

At Brazen Careerist, we knew that finding all of our talent in Madison was probably not a great idea. There is certainly a lot of talent here, but limiting ourselves to local recruiting would eventually hold us back. We managed to recruit one person from Philadelphia, and another from Chicago. They came to a small city because they saw opportunity in the job. If you expand your recruiting network and provide a unique opportunity, people will come to a small city. It just takes a little extra effort.

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Date: Tuesday, 13 Jan 2009 15:04

My company, Brazen Careerist is in a position that nobody wants to be in – out of money and in a recession. And because our CEO is Penelope Trunk, and we practice complete transparency, we’re living the whole thing publicly.

Penelope recently wrote a post about the tough times we’re having. As I read through the comments, and the strings on forums that picked up her post, I noticed many people said things like; the business model sucked, Penelope was unstable, and we weren’t going to make it. They asked questions like; why did we have to burn through cash so fast? Why didn’t we bootstrap?

There was another minority who were more positive, they liked the business model and wished us well. That was nice.

Luckily, I already had my breakdown last month. I blamed myself and I blamed Penelope for letting the company blow through so much cash instead of trying to bootstrap the whole thing. But after a month of beating myself up, I realized that we made a conscious decision to go big and bring in funding from day one, and we knew what we were getting into.

We could debate for days which way is better, but here are a few things to consider before you decide between bootstrapping and angel funding for your internet business.

How Long Can You Survive Without a Paycheck?

If you and your business partners can survive without a paycheck for a year, then bootstrapping your company is a good idea. On the other hand, if you don’t live in your parent’s basement, have little in your bank account, and have monthly bills to pay, pursuing funding is probably your best move. At Brazen, we calculated that we could make it six months without funding, and that’s about how long it took before we raised the initial round.

Can You Make Money Fast?
If you can’t survive without a paycheck and you don’t take in funding, you need to start generating revenue, fast. Unfortunately, most internet companies take time before they start making money. And even if you do bring in some revenue, what about operating costs? Can you afford hosting, servers, office space, freelancers, insurance, etc., and still have enough to take a paycheck that keeps you above the poverty line? Make sure you can before you decide to bootstrap. If you can’t, it’s probably time to investigate your local angel network.

How Many Co-Founders Do You Have?
The more founders there are, the more cash you need to pay them. This gets even stickier if your partners have a family. Not only are they risking their own livelihood, but they’re putting their kids and spouse at risk by not taking in angel money. It’s hard to start a company alone. But it’s also hard to generate enough revenue to pay three or more people. Not taking in money and “staying lean” probably also means “staying lonely.” If you want to bootstrap your business, you may be best off starting it with one other person at most, or keeping your day job.

What Skills Do Your Co-Founders Have?
Let’s assume you’re an internet start-up. Are the founders all developers? If they are, you should consider bootstrapping. Developers can do the work needed without freelance costs. But what happens after you develop the software? How do you market it? How do you create a sales strategy? How do you sell? What if your site becomes popular? Who has the connections and negotiating experience to raise the money you will need to scale your business? Co-founders who can do the work needed to keep costs down are good, but so is a little variety in experience.

How Fast Do You Want to Scale?

Most entrepreneurs are not patient. It’s not in our blood to wait around and see what happens. By the time Brazen has launched a new product or feature to the public, I’m already embarrassed that it’s not good enough because I’m ten steps ahead in my own mind. In a world of constant information and customer feedback, you better be able to respond to your customers’ needs. And if the business does begin to take off, you better have the resources to scale it. Can you do this if you bootstrap? With the right team members and preparation, maybe. But it’s never easy.

What Do You Want to Learn?
Taking in funding has taught me how to hire people, how to manage people, how to let go of people, how to manage a budget of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and how to pitch a big idea to potential investors. If we bootstrapped, I would have learned a lot too, like how to manage a tight budget, how to be frugal, and how to make a high pressure sale. Each way teaches you a ton, but the question you need to ask is, what types of things would you rather learn?

What Percentage of the Company Do You Own?
Bootstrapping is a great idea for young people with nothing to lose. Typically, founders split the pie evenly when starting a company. But if all the founders are young, inexperienced, and have never run a business before, this isn’t always the best move, because your fifty percent equity share has a good chance of equaling $0 if the company goes under. On the flip side, if you partner with someone who’s been there before and can provide some guidance, connections and money, you might only get fifteen percent, but that small percentage may have a higher probability of putting some cash in your pocket when your company is acquired.

How Big Is Your Idea?
Do you want to be the next Facebook, Amazon or Salesforce.com? Or do you just want to have fun and make a few bucks? Most entrepreneurs think big. If you bootstrap, be prepared to think small, at least at first. Once you find a niche and begin to take off, you can start to think big and pursue some cash. But shifting from thinking small to big right in the midst of it all is not an easy task.

At Brazen, we knew from day one that we were taking in funding, scaling a business and hopefully making a big splash. I don’t regret the decision for a second. We’ve all learned a ton and had a lot of fun. Now we’re learning how to cut costs, change a business model and make it through the toughest financing environment in history.

Bootstrapping is one way to run a company; another is to take on investors. Whichever you decide, be sure you know what you’re getting into before you start. And don’t forget to have fun.

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