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Are entrepreneurs born or made?

  
  
  

 

 

 SheilaCropped

Sheila Darcey reflects on her transition from employee to entrepreneur and leader at a rapidly growing company. 

 

You’ve been with BeyondCurious for a year now. Reflecting back on the last year, what has it been like to work at a growing company?

It has been a transformative, enthralling, and joyous experience. If you had asked me five years ago whether I would pursue a life as an entrepreneur, I probably would have said, “no!” Becoming an entrepreneur would have been a complete stretch of my imagination. At the time, my go-to values were certainty, dependability, and security. The idea of joining a start-up seemed counter to my very being. But I’ve recently figured out that I’m really well suited to entrepreneurship. A big part of that is grounded in the lessons I learned in childhood and from my life as a mom.  

 

Take my childhood, for example. Growing up in a strong-knit Filipino community, every neighbor and friend instantly became a member of our family. It didn’t matter how long we’d known each other; our shared values instantly connected us. And my Manila-Brisbane-Memphis-Los Angeles upbringing taught me the importance of adaptability and cultural awareness. A globally minded perspective is part of how I was raised.

 

In the past five years, I have grappled with the emotional highs and lows of being a first time parent. Every decision you make feels even greater when it’s tied to the growth of another being. It makes you realize the importance of mindfulness and the impact it has on those around you. It also gives you the strength to face any challenge and the endurance to continue on when it seems impossible to do so. This past year has been about embracing my personal power and understanding how the virtues of my past shape the landscape of my future.

  

Looking back at your "First 30 days inside a startup” blog, how has your perspective changed since that first month?

 First of all, we’re not a startup anymore! In the first 30 days at BeyondCurious, my focus was on creating meaningful impact, driving efficiencies, and wearing the hat of a business owner. While all these remain true, the most significant shift is the parallel I’ve been able to draw between being a mom and being an entrepreneur. Some of the key lessons I have learned are:

  • Daily struggles and challenges are an integral part of the role.
  • Each milestone is incredibly fulfilling, but you quickly move on to the next.
  • The adage “the days are long and the years are short” holds true.
  • No matter how much advice people give, instincts never fail.
  • It takes a village, and each person in it has a purpose.
  • Sometimes, all you need is good laugh (or cry) to remind you of what’s important.    

 

What skills have you had to use here that you didn’t think you would need?

In a growing business, learning how to scale is a necessity. If you want the business to grow, you have to grow with it. Even if you can’t predict the rate of growth, you must prepare yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally for whatever comes your way.

 

 I’ve also learned that scaling isn’t about managing to size, but your ability to manage and influence people. The skill of coaching and mentoring is critical. Taking the time to listen, share advice, and provide guidance has both a short and long tail effect on an individual and company’s growth.

 

You have been an invaluable member of the team. Can you describe for others what skills or qualities you think make you such a successful and valuable member of the BeyondCurious team?

For my 1-year anniversary, I walked in our office to see a huge poster that read, “Way to add value, Sheila.” It’s a funny quip I introduced to add levity to our meetings. But, it also describes my philosophy on value-driven success.

 

In my role as VP of Client Services, I take tremendous pride in the innovative work that we do for our Fortune 500 clients. I think that one of the things that has helped me succeed in my role is that I understand the importance of building long-term relationships and the impact those relationships have on our overall growth. Not unlike personal relationships, business relationships are built upon trust, openness, and transparency. My genuine love of people fuels the connections that create success. I am able to draw parallels to people’s interests with a greater sense of purpose. Whether it is facilitating a workshop, building a product roadmap or marketing plan, providing one-on-one coaching, or delivering on a promise, personal connections help drive success.  In order to understand what matters, you must listen.

 

I am constantly in awe of my fellow teammates, who pour their heart and soul into everything they do. They inspire me each day, adding tremendous value. I think it’s essential to recognize people on a daily basis for their contributions. I help people develop the value they bring to BeyondCurious in two ways: through mentorship and through recognition. Recognizing my teammates for the value they bring, and helping them tap into and harness their strengths through coaching is a cultural contribution I am very proud of.

 

Finally, if there is one tool that guarantees you success in relationship management, it is time. Investing time is not a selfless act. Quite the opposite. If we valued our time more, and held each minute or hour as sacred, we would be more mindful of how and with whom we spend it.  Helping people understand the value of their time and modeling that behavior for my team and partners helps people understand and value their own time better.

 

Now that you have been here for a year, what are your top lessons learned?

Context is everything. In any client or team relationship, remember the context in which they sit. Even if you don’t understand their world, knowing their environment, situation or mindset will provide you with the insights necessary to be a better partner.

 

Understand the WHY.  Even if you think you know the answer, gather more details, ask more questions, and drive to the WHY behind every problem. Clarity brings about the most successful outcomes. It also fosters trust and shared responsibility for solving it.

 

Own your personal power. Don’t limit yourself with the notions of what you can or cannot do. Jump into everything with confidence and fearlessness. Even if you fail, fail with optimism. Each lesson builds upon itself, and after awhile, you realize it’s not so painful after all.

 

A lesson is a lesson. To build a great company is to give it life. Whether it’s in the daily interactions, the systems and processes we build, or the values we instill, all of it is created with the intention to nurture and grow. By taking the time to draw these types of connections, each lesson learned can be a lesson not just for business, but also for life.

 

Learn more about BeyondCurious here.

Turning Desire Into an App: 5 Questions for Sean Rad, CEO of Tinder

  
  
  

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Remember what dating was like in Junior High? I do. Full disclosure: I didn't do a lot of it. Nevertheless, I have keen memories of the extensive negotiations that went on before people actually started "going out." Conversations went something like this: "Do you like him? He likes you." Self-appointed matchmakers served as go-betweens, ensuring that there was mutual interest before anyone ever publicly announced anything -- a primitive but effective form of double opt-in.

Sean Rad, CEO of the enormously popular dating app Tinder, uses the ancient art of the double opt-in to help broker love matches. I had a chance to interview Sean Rad after his talk at GigaOm Roadmap, and got to hear more about how Rad and his team have leveraged a fundamental understanding of human behavior to fuel Tinder.

Carrie Yury: I loved hearing you talk about Tinder. The app is very simple and fun, but it's informed by some really deep thinking about human motivations. Can you tell me a little bit about how you use human experience to influence the design?

Sean Rad: We built an experience that we wanted and a flow that emulates interactions in the real world. What we're striving to do with Tinder is understand what are the sort of social dynamics, physical dynamics, the flows of where you start with a request or desire to make a new relationship and how that progresses to you actually meeting that person, talking to that person and getting to know them. We emulate the flow of the app against that model.

Carrie Yury: Does it matter whether your purpose as a user is to hook-up or to find your husband or wife?

Sean Rad: I think it emulates whatever you want in the real world. So if you are young and you don't want to be in a serious relationship, you are going to look for that on Tinder, or if you are older and desire something more serious you will look for that. I don't think when people go out, they really have an outcome in mind. Particularly with millennials, they sort of just go with the flow and one thing leads to another. A short-term relationship might lead to a marriage. You'll never know. A short-term desire might lead to a long-term outcome.

Carrie Yury: The front end of Tinder is really fun and engaging, especially because it's so simple. What is happening on the back end? How do you make sense of all those swipes?

Sean Rad: We look at your behavior and we optimize who we show you based on who you are saying yes or no to. There are a lot of signals that we take into consideration. If you say no to somebody there are a lot of things about that person that we know -- whether you had common friends with them, who the common friends were, how old that person is, on and on, what their interests are. We take all that into consideration when serving better recommendations in the future. Also, when you match with somebody, we look at the depth of the conversations you are having with your various matches. You might have a deeper conversation with one person of a certain characteristic or another person of another different characteristic.

Carrie Yury: I really like what you had to say about asking as little as possible of users before they get started with the app. You described it as having a kind of negative "ripple effect" that could prevent users from engaging. Is that something you talk about a lot?

Sean Rad: I haven't talked about it publicly, but internally we talk about it all the time. It's one of our philosophies. A 1 percent ask could have a 20 percent impact on a user experience. We're just very careful, not only to not ask the wrong things because we don't want to disrupt the user experience, but also asking certain things creates a certain context with the user that we might not want to create. For example, there are some apps where you sign up and they ask you questions like, "Do you belong to this group or that group? Are you this or are you that?" And by making these comparisons and categorizing the individual, you are automatically alienating them to some degree. You're making them think about something that they otherwise might not have wanted to think about coming into that experience. It goes back to the analogy of, when I walk into a room and go to a party, I'm not forced to answer questions about what my political beliefs are and what my religious beliefs are. I am just there mingling and meeting people and one thing leads to another and maybe that comes up in a conversation organically, but I don't feel out a survey when I answer the door saying that, "I'm Jewish and and I am conservative, on and on." I just sort of am who I am and I walk in and I have relationships and discover about other people and share about myself as I progress.

Carrie Yury: Your app is so situated in what people need, what they want, and how they would do things outside of the digital context. Is that a mind frame you've always had?

Sean Rad: Always. I often tell the team, "Throw away any academic approach to user experience. Throw away all of that. It's all bullshit." It all comes down to what do people want to do, how do they want to do it, and how do we create a frictionless experience to allow them to do that? How does the interface, the functionality, create a story around what the desired action is you are trying to create for people? Whether we are coming up with a feature or improving something, we always look at, first and foremost, how does that relate to some desire or some thought process that the user has.

 

8 Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

  
  
  

If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, Nikki Barua (@nikkibarua) has some advice for you. Co-Founder & CEO of BeyondCurious, an innovation consultancy that creates digital solutions for leading brands, Nikki is a serial entrepreneur known for her sense of purpose, passion and persistence.  She celebrates her failures and sees them as opportunities to become a better version of herself. Here are her tips for aspiring entrepreneurs based on lessons she has learned.

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1. A great idea is not a great company.

Customer needs might change. Competitors might launch better products.  Technology might disrupt the marketplace.  There are so many reasons why your brilliant idea may fail. But if you know the reason WHY you want to be an entrepreneur, your purpose and passion will guide you through your journey.  Remember, if all it took were a great idea, we would have 7 billion entrepreneurs today.

2. In cofounders, great skills matter but aligned values matter more.

Choose a cofounder who is completely aligned with you on the things that matter.  It’s easy to fall in love with a pedigreed profile and impressive skills. But alignment in what you believe and what you care about matters more.  Don’t let the most important relationship in your business turn into miserable one because you are misaligned about mission, vision and values.  Choose wisely.

3.Don’t just scratch the itch; cure the pain.

It’s not enough to build something customers want.  You have to build something MANY customers want and are willing to pay for.  It’s not enough to have a product that serves a need; it has to be something that a large enough market is willing to buy.

4. Make your idea better; share it.

If you think your idea is so precious that you can’t share it with anyone, you are missing a huge opportunity.  We live in a connected world of constant innovation.  While you’re working on solving a grand challenge, chances are someone else is doing it too.  Rather than hide your idea, socialize it with advisors.  Share it with customers.  Learn through feedback, and make your idea better.

5. Smarts is good; heart is great.

The biggest challenge facing companies today is finding top talent.  Great people are the biggest differentiator in any company.  But extraordinary skills are becoming table stakes.  You need something more to do great things.  You need heart.  Hire people that care about what they make, how they make it, who they collaborate with, and why it matters.  Look beyond the resume. 

6. Care about revenue, but obsess about cash flow.

As your business grows, you will be celebrating every dollar of revenue earned.  Top line growth is thrilling.  But cash flow is king.  More businesses fail due to poor cash flow than due to poor profits.  Don’t let your business get threatened by cash flow instability.  Anticipate the cash needs of your business and keep a close eye on it.  Negotiate favorable terms with customers and suppliers, while managing shortfalls through debt financing or investments.

7. Stay focused – only say YES to the right things.

When the going gets tough, you’ll be tempted to chase every opportunity. Or completely shift your focus to go down a safer path. Even if it seems promising in the short run, the cost of losing your focus can be very damaging in the long run. Don’t clutter your world with too many things.  Say NO to all the things that don’t matter so you can make room for what does.

8. Don’t just have the eyes for greatness, have the stomach for it, too.

Being an entrepreneur sounds glamorous, but the reality is far from it. Everyone has the vision and desire for grand successes but not everyone has the stomach for it.  The journey of an entrepreneur is filled with obstacles that can only be overcome with limitless passion, relentless persistence, and sheer hard work. 

Wearable Tech: GLAZED 2013

  
  
  

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Redg Snodgrass and Kyle Ellicott, co-organizers of GLAZED. Photo Credit Michael O'Donnell.

BeyondCurious sponsored the GLAZED conference on the business of wearable technology on September 30, 2013 in San Francisco. The one day conference brought together wearable tech's innovators, entrepreneurs, and investors for an electrifying, inspiring conversation on the business of wearable technology. I caught up with the organizers, Redg Snodgrass and Kyle Ellicott of Stained Glass Labs, and got their thoughts on the conference, what they learned, and the future of wearable technology.

 Why do you think the GLAZED conference was such a success?

RS: I think that the topic resonated with the community. There was a genuine need and concern within the ecosystem to begin this discussion around monetization and the business around this technology.

What did you learn at the event about putting on a conference that you didn’t know before?

KE: There are so many moving pieces and parts to a conference like GLAZED including the hackathon and fashion show and at the end of the day, what we learned was that it’s all about customer service and treating your sponsors, partners, attendees, press like equal all-stars. We learned how important it is to underscore the fact that everyone involved is worth it and that you want them there no matter what.

What did you learn about the business of wearable technology that you didn’t know before?

KE: That this business is truly something global. We had over 20+ countries represented from press, entrepreneurs and company founders. This industry isn’t something that just one city wants to be involved in, but the entire world.

RS: I didn’t really understand how near mainstream it was, and how passionate people were going to be from all different directions. 

What was the most unexpected insight that came out of the GLAZED conference?

RS: I think that Yobie Benjamin’s announcement that he was leaving such a large financial institution [Citibank] and position of CTO to go into the wearable tech business blew our minds when we first found out about it. Also, seeing some of the large enterprises getting excited and jumping on board early was both encouraging and interesting. People from all over the world were at GLAZED, over 20+ countries were represented by attendees and we weren’t expecting such a large international presence at the conference. I think that goes to show just how big this industry is going to be.

Can you tell me about some of the themes that you heard throughout the conference?

KE: There was more talk about hardware than there was software. The common theme was more about product development than it was about application development.

RS: Wearables are in the market today and are closer than we expect.

Rapid Fire: What was the:

Best outfit worn by an attendee?

RS: Besides me and my pink shirt? Eliane Fiolet because she’s always stylish.

Best comment you heard or over heard?

KE:“I’ve never seen so many Google Glasses in one room.”

RS:“There’s almost as many cool things going on outside the auditorium where speakers are speaking, as there is inside.”

Most unlikely connection you made?

RS: Luca Toledo who manages technology for the country of Brazil, and is a fascinating cyborg anthropologist. It’s amazing what they are doing there and I’m super stoked to see future developments.

Stereotype of wearable tech that was subverted?

RS: That it can’t be sexy. We saw lots of sexy products and sexy people wearing wearable tech and rocking it. Especially at the Digital Fall fashion show.

Most surprising use of wearable tech that you saw or heard about at the conference?

KE: Shruti Gandhi from Samsung taking a picture of the audience while she was on stage on her using her watch.

RS: We’ve been seeing a lot of stuff that is being placed on babies and children for health. I believe that we’re coming to a time where children and future generations will always be connected through multiple devices and will grow up with technology and wearable tech, especially. Also, it blew my mind how many people were wearing Google Glass at the conference.

Will you do GLAZED again next year? If so, what will you differently?

KE: Definitely without a doubt, yes. We will make the next one bigger and showcase more wearable tech both big and small. This year we were able to showcase companies that are up and coming and next year we want to get those as well as bigger corporations showing their products, too.

What is next for Stained Glass Labs?

KE: We have our holiday party in December, Wearable Wonderland, which will give us an opportunity to give back to the community by donating 10% of all proceeds to charity. We will also we have a couple of fun hacking events similar to the GLAZED Hackathon. And we’ll soon be opening our office space to kick off the acceleration program of Stained Glass Labs!

Can Health Care Be Hacked?

  
  
  

As the pace of innovation is speeding up elsewhere, health care innovation lags behind. Can a hackathon help?

What can health care learn from contemporary approaches to digital innovation? Can an entrepreneurial, innovation-forward approach actually impact the health care industry? UCLA's Entrepreneurship Council and Business of Science Center are attempting to answer exactly these kinds of questions in their upcoming Innovation Week and Inventathon. I talked to Shyam Natarajan and Christina Vorvis to find out more about their hopes for the event.

Natarajan is a medical device researcher working on prostate cancer, and Vorvis is a Ph.D. student at UCLA studying pancreatic cancer. Together they are helping to organize UCLA's Innovation Week and Inventathon, a week-long event encouraging entrepreneurship in the health care arena.

What is Innovation Week and the Inventathon, and why is it important?

SN: UCLA Innovation Week, beginning October 1, is the first time that entrepreneurial organizations on campus are coming together en masse to catalyze startup formation. Each day of this week features a unique campus resource and provides students, staff, and faculty with an opportunity to experience entrepreneurship. Christina and I are working with the Business of Science Center, along with the UCLA Entrepreneurship Council to host panel sessions, open pitching forums, workshops, and two competitions. Our goal is to help students discover entrepreneurship as a career, and find a co-founder or interesting project to work on.

CV: Exactly. The Inventathon is a 24-hour competition starting on October 4, where teams of 3-5 people work together to develop solutions for unmet medical needs. This event is similar to a hackathon in concept, and includes students with a variety of skillsets. We've invited students from engineering, medical, business, arts, and design backgrounds to participate. As far as we know, this is the first time a health care-focused hackathon has taken place in Southern California. To be frank, it makes perfect sense that UCLA is the place to do it since we have the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center across the street from cutting-edge research laboratories in science and engineering.

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Shyam Natarajan and Christina Vorvis

I understand that you worked with the UCLA hospital to come up with unmet needs in health care for the Inventathon. Who did you work with to identify those needs, and can you describe some of the unmet needs that were identified?

SN: We interfaced with physicians, nurses, administrators, and other clinical staff associated with UCLA Health. This effort was modeled after an existing program at UCLA called Advancing Bioengineering Innovations (ABI). In ABI, full-time fellows shadow clinicians and conduct ethnographic research to produce a list of unmet medical needs. This list is then brought into a classroom, where student teams develop solutions over a 20-week period.

CV: For the Inventathon, we generated a new list, which will be released during Innovation Week so that teams can start on relatively equal footing. I can't announce the needs here but an example might be something like reducing the number of urinary tract infections associated with catheterization.

Because of regulatory constraints, innovation in health care can be much slower than innovation in the tech space. Can something like the Inventathon help speed up the pace of innovation in health care? If so, how?

SN: There is a growing trend in the number of mobile devices that modify or augment health care delivery. Even the FDA has taken notice, and approved the first diagnostic imaging mobile app in 2011. Although we can't change the federal regulatory process, events like the Inventathon can help stimulate new ideas and business models that improve health care.


What kinds of products do you expect to see come out of the Inventathon? 
CV:
 We expect to see teams come up with mobile applications, digital services, and embedded devices that tackle an important question in health care. What I hope to see are innovative solutions to clinical problems that I've never imagined or thought about before.

What are you personally most excited about with respect to Innovation Week and the Inventathon? 
SN:
 Both Christina and I work in cancer research, where it can take many years and millions of dollars in funding to make an advancement. Unlike therapeutic drugs, medical devices and software applications have a shorter timeline to commercialization. At Innovation Week, we are particularly excited to connect campus inventors with other entrepreneurial minds to accelerate this process. We may even see a few ideas take off and become products that benefit patients and health care providers.

CV: I agree! Shyam and I are personally and professionally invested in making UCLA an entrepreneurial campus. We are truly thrilled that we've built this platform where students can learn about health care entrepreneurship, participate in the rapidly-growing LA startup community, and come up with the next big idea that will change the world.

A Brief History of Wearable Technology

  
  
  

From The Six Million Dollar Man to Ironman, culture has shaped and influenced wearable technology. Take a look at some of the influences and innovations that have taken us to the state of wearable technology today.

What will influence the next generation of wearable technology?

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Get GLAZED: Kyle Ellicott on the Business of Wearable Technology

  
  
  
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Wearable Technology has captured the public imagination, raising hopes, fears, and expectations. While there has been much speculation about the capabilities of next generation wearables, their potential applications, and the issues they raise, there has been much less discussion about how the business of wearables will develop and evolve. Attempting to ramp up that conversation, Kyle Ellicott Co-Founded the GLAZED conference, a conference dedicated to the business of wearable technology. I talked to Ellicott for his perspective on the conference and the future of wearable technology.

What is wearable technology? 
Wearable technology boils down to a physical object that is not only wearable but also utilizes a piece of contemporary technology. For instance, eyeglasses were considered a piece of wearable technology when they were made in the 13th century. Wearables today (GLASS, Pebble, Basis, Meta, etc.) deliver intelligent information thanks to components like sensors, constant connectivity, and applications. Wearable technologies have the potential to enhance our daily lives and our view of the world.

What inspired you to organize the GLAZED Conference?
When my partner Redg Snodgrass and I built Stained Glass Labs (a wearables incubator) we began noticing how disconnected the wearable ecosystem is from the business-focused discussions that are necessary to make the ecosystem move forward. Hence this is a conference around the "Business" of wearable technology. We are bringing together the people who were successful at launching the iPhone, Facebook, and mobile with wearable tech's thought leaders to come up with answers to the hard questions. Questions like, "How are we going to make money?" "What applications will work for end users?" and, "How are we going to launch and what platforms make the most sense?"

How did you choose speakers? 
My Co-Founder Redg has helped choose the strategic direction for speakers at tier one conferences like MobileBeat, GROW and Mobile Summit for the past three years. Building on that experience, we've spent a great deal of time trying to come up with criteria that will foster a conversation that drives real outcomes for the industry. We have speakers such as Yobie Benjamin of Citibank, Bram Cohen of BitTorrent, Manish Chandra of Poshmark, and Roger Dickey, founder of Mafia Wars. All of these people have been major players multiple times over in mobile, and we believe they will pass on the wisdom to help make the audience successful as the wearable technology market emerges.


What would make the conference a success in your eyes? Attendance? Influence?
Honestly, the attendees walking away inspired to create, communicate, invest in, and be ready to build the next wave of technical ecosystems. We expect many of the folks in our audience will be the next Pandoras, the Angry Birds, and the Tapulous' of wearable technology. We hope they will get the confidence and advice they need to build and monetize in a more efficient way.

How do you think wearables will evolve?
Let me be clear, we watched the web be consumed by mobile. Now we think mobile will be consumed by wearables. Just as there were key players who couldn't make the transition from web to mobile, the same fall off will occur with mobile players who are unable to adapt their thinking to take advantage of this next evolution of technology.


What do you think wearable technologies' biggest challenge will be over the next year?
Wearable technology has been around for a long time. But if we are going to see wearables move to a tier one multi-billion dollar market we need business feedback and monetization to be inherent in these platforms. That is what drove the iPhone ecosystem with the launch of the Apple App Store back in 2007, and later the Android insurgence in 2008. Only this will allow for the exponential progression of the value of the market.

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Kyle Ellicott, GLAZED Co-Founder

What is your personal goal for the conference?
I'm personally excited to get everyone together and talking. Something special happens when you put a large group of people with similar interests and drive together in the same room. The creations and businesses alone that will be sparked have me very excited.

Wearable Technology Will Change Us. But How?

  
  
  
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Image © Carrie Yury

I thought he was insane.
The first time I saw someone talking on a mobile phone with a headset I thought he was psychologically disturbed. Or terribly, aggressively rude. Or both. An executive from the company that had just acquired us, he would stand facing nothing in particular in the middle of the office having a loud, animated conversation with himself, obtrusively alienating the rest of the office.

Of course, that was 15 years ago. Mobile phones and headsets are now an accepted part of our world. Studies tell us that we'd rather leave home without our lunches, or our wallets than without our mobile phones. We now think nothing of a person staring into space as they talk loudly to someone the rest of us can't see. Mobile is normative; anyone without a mobile phone is a freak.

New technologies emerge. They get adopted and we adapt to them. And they change us. Think about it; the mobile phone has had a profound impact on how we interact, communicate, behave, think, socialize, work, politick... What aspect of culture has not been touched in some way by the mobile revolution? Even revolution itself has been affected.

Wearables will change us
We are on the verge of the wearable technology revolution. Smart watches, Google Glass, and personal sensors make headlines everyday. Not so much for their current clunky forms and limited capabilities, but for their potential. There is much speculation on what wearables will do, how they will work, how they will look (and how they will make us look). These are all critical questions. But I think the undercurrent that lurks beneath the current wearable conversation is a deep sense of anxiety stemming from one central question: namely, how will wearables change us?

Take Google Glass, for example. I don't think it's a coincidence that people who wear them have been dubbed "Gl@ssholes." It's not just that they look stupid - someone (maybe Warby Parker) will fix that. It's that anyone using (much less wearing) a technology that disrupts the social contract is by definition, being a jerk. Think about how rude and annoying it felt the first time someone carried on a texting exchange with someone else while ostensibly talking to you. Glass (and other wearable technologies) bring up a plethora of new ways of breaching etiquette, allowing technology to come in between us (physically or metaphorically), and changing the way we interact. So there is valid reason for wearable anxiety.

Wearable hopes and fears
But there's also plenty of reason for optimism. As I mentioned above, mobile phones have changed our behavior in so many ways, and many of them are overwhelmingly positive. And I'm not just talking about revolution. Our mobile phones allow us to connect, certainly. But also to create, to curate, to track, to organize, to research, to learn - the list goes on and on. They carry so much of our lives in them that we think of them as an extension of ourselves. I don't know if I'm a better person because of my mobile phone, but I certainly feel like I have a better life because of it. It only makes sense that wearable technology will further the extension of technology-as-self. The potential benefits and applications of wearable technology in healthcare alone are mind-boggling. What about in enterprise? Or education? Where will wearables go? How will wearable technology change us as individuals, and as a society? And will it be for better or for worse?

So, tell me: how do you think wearable technology will change us? What are you most afraid of? And what are you most hopeful about? 

Dare To Dream

  
  
  

In the movie “Warm Bodies”, zombies move slowly through the world with an insatiable hunger to consume a person’s energy for their own survival. Until one day, a spirited survivor inspires one of the zombies to dream again. In dreaming, the zombie is transformed back into its human state, and sets off a reverse epidemic in a formerly lifeless world.

This isn’t my lame attempt to be a movie critic. This plot simply serves as a great metaphor of what it means to live.

In joining BeyondCurious, I was encouraged to dream again. As a child, dreams helped me escape, helped me see a path to a life much greater than it was in that moment. Over time, my unattainable dreams began to transform into achievable goals. Goals that were within reach of my current path. Although, there was great pride in knowing the dreams I set forth had been achieved. I began to wonder whether my dreams were even BIG enough. Not by the measure of time, i.e.. 5, 10, 15 years, etc., but more so, in my ability to envision limitless possibilities.

To help remind each of us the importance of dreaming, our CEO and Founder, Nikki Barua, facilitated a working session and dared us all to dream.  She challenged us to visualize our future. There were no guidelines or timelines to follow. Just one simple request, whatever it is we dream, we dream BIG. This innate ability to envision something so BIG it fills you with uncertainty is not an easy task. As our team began to fill the board with their hopes and dreams, a natural alignment began to take shape. Individual dreams made way for collective visions. Collective visions that made us think bolder about our individual contributions and what we could accomplish together.

Dreams are what make us come alive, what fuels us to go beyond what we think is even possible. So ask yourself… when was the last time you dared yourself to dream BIG?

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GoPro and BeyondCurious: Redefining Training

  
  
  

GoPro, the company that has redefined action cameras, is at it again. This time, they are redefining training.

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When Nick Woodman, GoPro's founder, was surfing some ten years ago, he had an idea. What if, instead of having to hold on to a camera, the camera held on to him? By changing his perspective, Woodman was able to revolutionize the action camera industry, and build a billion dollar business.

Enter sales training. GoPro has a huge challenge: to educate thousands of retail sales associates globally about GoPro's brand and products. And to do so in a way that shares the excitement and adventure of the GoPro brand.

So, instead of relying on just paper-based or online training, GoPro has developed a retail training program that is more like a playroom than a classroom. GoPro's digital training solutions connect retail sales associates to GoPro's brand and products, creating the opportunity for them to become fans of the brand. Sales associates actually have fun while they're being trained.

GoPro's digital training solutions deliver learning content within a rich experience. The approach is to instantly engage the user and help them find relevant and interesting content. GoPro training solutions help build a deeper emotional connection with the GoPro brand by doing things like integrating with social media and pulling GoPro fan-generated videos and pictures into the training environment. They are designed to inspire, engage, and educate the sales reps in a contextually relevant environment. By transforming the salesperson's relationship with the brand and its products, their training solutions ultimately aim to increase conversion at the point of sale.

I had the opportunity to connect with Nick Stagge, GoPro's Senior Global Training Manager to talk about what GoPro is doing in training, why they're doing it, and what their digital training components will bring to GoPro's sales associates.

Stagge, who has spent over ten years in training, knows retail sales first-hand, having worked in outdoor specialty retail for years before getting into training. Frustrated by traditional approaches to training, Stagge is enthusiastic about GoPro's approach. Stagge said, "GoPro is pushing the boundaries of traditional training. The fact that we are taking such a different approach to connecting with and educating our sales force shows that GoPro's hunger to innovate doesn't stop with our products."

BeyondCurious' next generation approach was the perfect fit for GoPro's digital training solutions. Stagge noted, "Last year, when we were trying to figure out how we should be competing for mind share in the retail space, our partner BeyondCurious pushed to do something completely different but also in line with the essence of GoPro. There are a lot of eLearning solutions, however few of these are capable of truly connecting with the sales associates in every store that sells our products. We push the boundaries and do things never done before so we can ensure our distribution and sales partners receive the best experience." GoPro's innovative digital training solutions help ensure that retail associates are more than just salespeople; they are also fans and consumers of GoPro products.

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Stagge's starboard GoPro selfie

GoPro will showcase their retail training solutions at Outdoor Retailer (July 31 - Aug 2, 2013) in Salt Lake City. BeyondCurious is proud and excited to showcase the work we have co-created with GoPro. Representatives from GoPro and BeyondCurious, including GoPro's Nick Stagge, and BeyondCurious' CEO Nikki Barua will be at the event ready to answer your questions. GoPro will be giving classes on getting to know your Hero3, using your mounts, and working with GoPro studio. Additionally, GoPro is hosting a panel discussion on digital training each day of the conference from 11:30 am - 12 pm, where you can learn more about how GoPro is redefining training. Come by check out the training solutions first-hand, and say hi!

July 31 - August 2: Room 250D at the Salt Palace, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Full schedule and RSVP for the Training Village here.

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