Smart Ways To Encourage Employee Innovation

employees

Rachel Beider shares insights with Forbes Magazine here

The most innovative ideas often come from a business’ junior and mid-level employees. After all, who better knows what your company is lacking, or how it might improve, than the people who are on the frontlines every day? These employees can easily spot challenges and brainstorm possible solutions to the issues they encounter on a daily basis.

1. Set Aside Brainstorming Time

There are many ways to incentivize internal innovation, but most are tied to individual achievement (or worse yet, team success), despite research proving time and again that successful innovation is the direct result of process and practice. Google was one of the first to implement dedicated time (and resources) for employees to work on personal projects. But the real genius behind Google’s decision wasn’t dedicated time, it was the freedom to explore! We keep a running list of “stuff that sucks,” and I allow my team to work remotely on Fridays with a simple ask: When not on deadline, spend a few hours tackling things on the bleep list, and return Monday with some candid feedback. The focus of this exercise is not on the outcome, but on practice. To be effective, you must have an organizational strategy (70% incremental, 20% acquired, 10% new, etc.), then empower your team to practice the habits required to achieve those goals. - Scott KitunTechnori

2. Develop A Culture Of Constant Improvement

The most important value that companies can build their culture around is one of constant improvement, both as individuals and as an overall business (and your processes, workflows and the way you handle customers). If members of your team know and understand that the business is always looking to improve itself, then it becomes easier to talk about gaps and areas that may be able to be improved. Be accepting of proposed solutions or changes that are brought to you by employees, and reward them for what they are doing—which is actively working to make your business better. It is hearing these suggestions out and giving them serious thought and discussion rather than brushing them aside that is the ultimate incentivization for employees. - Keith ShieldsDesignli

3. Attend Workshops

A fun and easy way to encourage innovation with your employees is to take them to workshops. Look for innovation workshops in your area or, if you’re in tech, see if there are any local hackathons you can attend. At workshops like these, your employees can take part in projects and contests, sharpen their skills, and collaborate with like-minded individuals. Taking your employees to events like these can really spark their imagination, boost their brainstorming skills and encourage them to come up with innovative solutions for your business. - Syed BalkhiWPBeginner

4. Create A ‘Startup’ Program

At our organization, we love to give our team members opportunities to grow within the areas where they feel they can achieve the most—for better wellbeing and professionally, of course. Their ideas and plans also bring more responsibility and, at times, cost to implement, so to be effective and incentivize our team, we have come up with the “Startup” concept, in which our team members need to do their research to validate their product and present it. Winners get the opportunity to work with our project managers to roll out their idea, and if done well, we help them launch it and manage it as if they were a service provider or vendor. - Jonnathan TrillerasLED Truck Media

5. Brainstorm Together

I have a weekly strategy meeting with my team specifically for strategic innovation in our services and delivery. We are constantly asking new questions, seeking new perspectives and speaking to people outside our industry to see how they handle certain issues. I love the idea of conducting new experiments based on my employees’ observations so we can try something out without committing to it. My team feels satisfied and rewarded knowing that they have a real impact on the company. - Rachel BeiderPRESS Modern Massage

6. Don’t Just Acknowledge Ideas—Act On Them

I believe it begins with having a culture where ideas are welcomed from all levels and collectively there is a mindset of restless improvement. We have found that most people are inherently incentivized simply by feeling that their ideas and solutions are acknowledged and acted on. A culture that doesn’t do this creates employee apathy, and that is the killer of innovation. Of course, employee appreciation, bonuses and awards programs matter, but without employees feeling like they have a voice and an impact, material incentives risk being ineffective. - Patrick BardsleySpectrum Designs

7. Hear Them Out And Put Them In Charge

I think there are two things to keep in mind here. First is to create an environment where people’s ideas are listened to. I like the approach of listening to someone fully explain their idea before saying anything. Then always try to find something positive about the idea, even if it is not something that you would actually do. This allows the person to feel heard and respected. The second thing is that I try to give the person with the idea ownership over the idea. Allow the person to run with the idea if possible since they will be far more motivated to see it accomplished. - Tony PeccatielloParallel Markets

8. Make Them Responsible For The Outcome

I’ve found the best way to incentivize an employee’s innovative contribution to a project is to empower them with responsibility for its outcome. If you give them a level of ownership or authority over a project, it will help personalize the results. In this way, the success of a project can truly be their success—motivating them to proactively cultivate ways to achieve it. - Eric SalehCircle for Roommates

9. Make Time For Deeper Conversations

The best way to incentivize employees to innovate solutions and bring them to management is to first understand more about your employees and show that you care. People want to be heard, and as someone that they should look up to, it is imperative for you to take time to see what really inspires your employees. It is very good to have an open dialect with them and to never shut down ideas—rather, allow all people and ideas to be heard. Also, take time to meet with the employees and team. Sometimes having a 30-minute block of time to talk to an employee creates time and space for a creative and deeper conversation to be held that may not have ever occurred had that time not been set aside for them. - Alec FrielProsperity Flow

10. Have Them Work On It On Their Own Time

Ask your employees to prove out their idea on their own time first. Almost 50% of HubSpot’s revenue is generated from their partner program. The program got started when a rep brought the idea to their CEO, to which he responded, “If you want to do it so bad, start doing it nights and weekends and show us this will work.” The rep did just that, and their multimillion-dollar partner program was born. - Sara Rose HarcusDmanna

11. Find Out What Motivates Each Employee Individually

The best way to incentivize your employees to innovate solutions and bring them to management really depends upon the employee in this day and age. If they’re older, you might want to go with a straight cash payout, as they’ll value it more. Younger folks who are of a different demographic might appreciate a more experiential reward, like a gift card to a local business, or an educational course related to their professional development. There’s no easy answer, but if you think about the needs and wants of each staff member who might benefit from the reward, you’ll be able to come up with a more appropriate answer. - Andrew SchrageMoney Crashers Personal Finance

12. Build A Company Structure That Fosters Dialogue

Innovation comes from collaboration, so build a flat company structure that encourages open dialogue and communication without bureaucracy. I love Jeff Bezos’ two pizza rule: Every internal team should be small enough that it can be fed with two pizzas. - Alexander BirdKiss My Keto

12 Strategies For Getting Detailed, Actionable Feedback From Your Customers

My latest advice, as seen in Forbes

If there's one area where entrepreneurs can agree, it's that the key to any successful business is consistently delivering what customers want. Without a happy customer base making repeat purchases and recommending your business to others, even the best goods and services can go unnoticed.

To keep your customers coming back, it's important to gather genuine, actionable feedback about what your company can do better. However, not all customers are always so forthcoming with their opinions, and some may be turned off by time-consuming questionnaires. So what's the most effective way to gain detailed customer feedback?

1. Be Funny

Never underestimate the power of humor. People love when founders and businesses can poke fun at themselves. I once told a client "I have a bet with one of my teammates that I can get you to tell me two things we can improve on. If I can't, I lose $100. Please don't make me lose $100. They said if I win I get a free lunch tomorrow!" The client laughed hysterically and, not wanting to leave me sans lunch, gave me two pieces of feedback when before that he had said "Everything was great. No complaints!" - Kim KaupeThe Superfan Company

2. Use A Pop-Up Survey

One way to to get customer feedback is to trigger a pop-up on your site with a quick survey asking customers for feedback on your product and/or the next features they would like you to build. Make sure the pop-up is smart, and not annoying. One way to do this is to use an exit-intent pop-up that only appears as the user is about to leave your site. Other "polite" popups include slide-ins and sticky headers. If you want to increase the amount of feedback even more, you can offer them a coupon code with a percent off in exchange for the feedback. - Syed BalkhiWPBeginner

3. Ask Purposeful Questions

Asking Socratic questions that elicit a meaningful response is a great way to get real-time feedback from customers that can turn into delivering more happiness. Asking thoughtful questions about their goals, how happy they are with how things are going and ones that avoid a simple "yes" or "no" can majorly help. We have incorporated a Customer Happiness Survey that goes out to all projects that we launch and the feedback has been very impactful. Some of the clients we expected to be extremely happy and positive still had insight into areas that we could improve. Customers that we felt were going to lay into us over a certain issue ended up being very happy with the overall body of work. The feedback we received from asking great questions helped us steer future projects much better. - Joel MathewFortress Consulting

4. Incentivize Feedback

The easiest way to receive genuine and actionable feedback is to encourage feedback of any kind from as many people as possible. And the simplest way to accomplish this is to provide some sort of incentive for those who do so. You've probably noticed cashiers at many retail outlets and fast food restaurants highlighting a section of your receipt asking for customer feedback. The most successful of these campaigns have been those that offer some sort of reward in return, such as a free or heavily discounted product. Find a way to implement this strategy into your own business and you should see a significant increase in customer feedback. Then, you can sort through this raw data and identify common sticking points or concerns that should be addressed in order to move forward. - Bryce WelkerCrush The CPA Exam

5. Create A Facebook Community

Building a community around your brand is a key to success! Having direct access to your client base in an open community allows you to create discussions about current products, services and create surveys for new products. Facebook groups are a real-time approach to gaining customer feedback as most people are on Facebook daily. It's much easier to acquire this data via social media as people are already on it opposed to having to send someone back to your brand's website. This strategy will also show your customers you are open to their feedback which will be a huge win for your business. - Mikey MoranPrivate Label Extensions

6. Target Clients Who've Turned You Down

I’m never pleased to find out I didn’t win a project, but I do relish the opportunity to get very blunt feedback from whomever I pitched to. The key element there is that they have nothing to lose from just telling you how it is, and they might even feel a sense of obligation to give you actionable feedback after all the effort you put in that turned out to be for nothing. Look for customers who might be in a similar situation and gather info from them. It’s similar to how doing an exit interview can be an excellent way to gather forthright and blunt feedback. - Ryan D MatznerFueled

7. Use Conversational Forms 

People don't like filling out long surveys and many of them will start and then become bored and quit. So in the event that you need your customers to give you a lot of detailed feedback, make sure your surveys are conversational. Conversational forms are more enjoyable for your customers to fill out. Instead of filling out an answer and having to scroll down or click to the next question, conversational forms ask one question at a time and then automatically move on to the next question. It's more like a face-to-face conversation and it boosts form completion. - Chris ChristoffMonsterInsights

8. Ask Immediately 

At my business, we use a feedback software after every single appointment that texts clients and asks them about their experience working with us. This helps rapidly understand where any issues arise, and give us the opportunity to address and remedy problems straightaway (before they get to online review sites like Yelp). We also get a lot of feedback when we try something new, and this helps us make a more informed decision going forward. - Rachel BeiderPRESS Modern Massage

9. Ensure Confidentiality

Advise your consumers that their response will confidential and anonymous. If users know the information will be confidential and anonymous they will be likely to provide candid feedback. Some consumers may hold back on their true feelings if the response is not anonymous due to fear of souring their relationship with you. Therefore, soliciting feedback via Google or other third-party companies who publish the responses may not work well if you want honest and candid responses from your clients. The drawback to this philosophy is if clients have praise about your services the praise will not be published and visible to potential clients researching your company. My advice would be to use a hybrid system of collecting both confidential and public responses. - Matthew PodolskyFlorida Law Advisers, P.A.

10. Analyze Live Chat Transcripts

Reviewing transcripts of live chats can be time-consuming, but this is one of the best ways to get genuine, valuable customer feedback. By analyzing the chats, you will be able to identify inefficiencies, and none of the information will be tainted by other potential customer biases. The most frequently mentioned topics will be those issues that you should address if you want to better serve your customers. Also, unlike surveys or online feedback platforms, you don’t have to ask the customers to do anything. - Blair ThomaseMerchantBroker

11. Observe Customer Actions

This is especially relevant for SaaS or other software businesses, but it works for everything from websites to delivering physical products. The solution is to observe customers in the wild and see how they interact with your offerings, and where they get hung up. As the creator of your business, you're very clear on how things work, but seeing things through the eyes of customers is always going to provide insights. One reason you want to observe is because people may say one thing to be nice, but what they actually think and do might be a totally different thing. Seeing where people get stuck and frustrated is also something that customers might not want to share for fear of looking dumb - so observation is key here. - Nathalie LussierAccessAlly

12. Make Feedback The Culture 

Inviting customers to feel part of the culture of the company will help them express what they think about the service they're receiving in a more focused way. In our company, even though we interact with a lot of customers, we have the chance to listen to each one of them at least once a month and provide customized answers to their requirements. - Alfredo AtanacioUassist.ME

Women and the Art of Communication

I’m thrilled to be quoted in this interesting read, as seen here in YKA written by Alolika A. Dutta in Cake


“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” — James C. Humes, American author and former presidential speechwriter.

In 2016, a Peterson Institute for International Economics survey of over 21,000 firms from 91 countries found that increasing female leadership representation in profitable firms from 0 to 30 percent is correlated with a 15% increase in net revenue margin. Business organisations have recognized this statistic and women are being empowered to take over leadership positions in reputed corporations, with Indra Nooyi heading Pepsi Co, Robyn Denholm as the first-ever female chairperson at Tesla, and Sheryl Sandberg as the COO at Facebook. Women are heading smaller organisations and a number of indie brands today, are entirely managed by women. Racial and gender diversity has proven to have a positive impact on a company’s market performance, while having female representation on the board of directors has improved a company’s financial performance.

With an upsurge in the representation of women in positions of power, developing leadership skills has become more important than ever.

Developing effective communication has helped me feel empowered. I have struggled with a pathological stammer, which made communication difficult for me. Being a woman only toughened the journey further since most educational institutions are complacent about eliminating their sexist pedagogical techniques. As a young woman, my political opinions were undermined and often dismissed. Meanwhile, if a male student voiced his political opinions, he was encouraged and often provided respective opportunities. This made learning an exhausting experience for me, since my opinions were not only ignored, but my stammer also obstructed the transmission of these opinions. Over a course of time, I have evolved. I have made stylistic decisions that have helped me cope with my stammer and vocalize my ideas. I have learnt to speak more articulately, assertively, and above all, I have learnt to speak the way I want to. I have accepted that I cannot be a leader unless I communicate my propositions effectively. It is a tedious process, but the role of speech in leadership cannot be neglected and hence, all of us irrespective of gender, need to consciously develop our ability to communicate. Being a woman often creates certain obstructions that men don’t have to face. For instance, the possibility of being perceived as “dominating” is far greater among women than men, because when men portray behavior that could potentially qualify as “dominating”, it is not as detectable because men are conventionally expected to be dominating; such difficulties are seldom addressed and having any additional hardship such as a stammer, will only add to it. In such situations, it is necessary to understand that we, as women may also have implicit biases against ourselves and the process of improvement is much easier when one has faith in their own abilities.

As a woman myself, I’ve compiled a list of communication skills that we can develop, in order to facilitate effective communication and leadership.

Communication Skills To Facilitate Leadership

1. Emotional Intelligence: Emotional Intelligence is defined as the ability to understand and manage emotions in order to communicate effectively. It is a skill that is incorporated through experience; it cannot be learned. Emotional intelligence primarily consists of: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. These constituents equip individuals to not only understand themselves, but also communicate their decisions to others. What helps women understand the emotional and psychological factors involved in corporate decision-making? According to a new study, women tend to have a higher EQ, which gives them an edge over men. If deployed correctly, emotion can be a useful tool for negotiation.


2. Articulation: A sign of good communication is clear, cohesive speech. It is important to be concise. One way to achieve this is to know the intention and direction of a conversation or an address. There has to be an understanding of ‘why’ you are saying something and what you intend to achieve through it. There has to be a certain structure to what is being said. While speaking, one has to be cautious of the pace and the modulation. Inarticulate speech not only makes it difficult to understand what is being conveyed, but it may also make a listener averse to the idea that is being presented. Furthermore, a lack of direction and foreseeable intent can often bore a listener. It is important to be a systematic orator.

3. Approachability: It is necessary for a leader to be approachable. The approachability of a leader depends upon their openness to questions, feedback, and criticism. It depends upon how cooperative an individual is. Employees should feel comfortable in approaching a leader with requests. Additionally, a leader needs to be available. This often acts as a hindrance for women, since they tend to be occupied with other activities. It is essential for women to strike a balance between their career and their household to ensure that neither of this is neglected. It is important to note that 43% of highly qualified women with children are leaving careers or off-ramping for a period of time. This is because, the burden of parenthood and community is largely placed on a woman’s shoulders. Of course, the first step is to challenge and alter societal ideals of maternity and parenthood. However, these are long-term objectives. Corporations can adopt immediate measures to increase female representation and retention. Companies can support working mothers by providing freelance, project-oriented work with deadlines. They can provide succinct task descriptions, compensations, incentives, and clear deadlines to make the profession more task-oriented. One of the ways through which men can help women achieve this is by dissociating from toxic masculinity, gender roles, and conventional norms. It is essential to understand that if women intend to occupy positions of power, they will require a supportive backbone. Men need to counter their implicit and explicit biases, that act against women and actively advocate to erase gender gaps. “Men can support women by insisting on women’s rights and taking paternity leave, thereby leveling the playing field that penalizes women when they take maternity leave.”— Rachel Beider, Massage Outpost.

4. Assertion: It is necessary for any individual to be forthright about their opinions and ideas. To speak without hesitance, to not question the validity of their own decisions, and to not place their stance at a position lower than that of others. Assertion, in many parts, is derived through self confidence. It is important to demonstrate confidence and assertiveness, so that others can develop faith in your ability to deliver. However, it is equally important to not mistake assertion for aggression. Aggression can often make others lose trust in your commitments. For women, assertion is crucial. Conventionally, women have been placed at a position below men. Women need to evolve through these stereotypes and ensure that their gender does not determine the value of their ideas. This can be accomplished with support and cooperation from society, communities, political organisations and the law, media, and corporations. Women, as individuals, can ensure that they assert their rights and demand for what they deserve. Women in positions of leadership can ensure that they are assertive enough to be taken seriously and amiable enough to not offend the listener. Again, these alterations are not actionable unless they are complemented with proportionate change in the corporate and political environment; placing recommendations before women is beneficial, only if the work environment makes it possible for women to implement them.


5. Active listening: Listening is as much a part of communication as speaking is. Active listening involves listening twice as much as you speak. It involves summarizing and clarifying what someone has spoken by asking questions, rephrasing their statements, and taking effort to understand their message. The most basic of all human needs is to understand and be understood, and listening is a glaring necessity in corporate as well as political organisations. Active listening can be showcased through positive reinforcement, questioning, paraphrasing, and mirroring the speaker.


6. Modulation: It is important to understand that ‘how’ you say something matters almost as much as ‘what’ you say does. The tone, pitch, and inflection of your voice collectively determine the reception of your content. The tone of your voice depends on the amount of emotion that you’d like to induce into a conversation. Tonality also plays a crucial role in persuasion. You can adopt different tones depending upon what your ultimate goal is. According to Colin James, there are four vocal roles: Motivator- inspires others, Educator- informs others, Coach- issues instructions, and Colleague- tends to be chatty and casual. In professional environments, it is important for women to choose which vocal role is most suitable. This will help women utilize their emotional intelligence effectively, and also take advantage of their high-pitched, relatively shriller voices.

7. Non-verbal communication and body language: In any form of communication, information is transmitted through words, gestures, and body language. Non-verbal signals not only include tone of voice, but also include eye contact, facial expressions, silence, and hand, arm and leg postures. It is important for women to understand that verbal communication might not lead to direct results, if their body language is not in accordance with what is being said. Body language performs some basic functions within communication, such as:

  • Regulating verbal communication through physical cues.

    1. Substituting body language in place of verbal communication.

    2. Conflicting messages, when body language does not complement what is being spoken.

    3. Moderating verbal communication and accentuating what is being spoken.

    4. Complementing and supporting words with gestures in order to add credibility to your message.

    5. Repeating what is being said by performing an action.

Hence, in a workplace, verbal and non-verbal forms of communication can be used in coordination to establish credibility and make a point. Body language plays an essential role in communication, since it not only determines the conveyance of information, but also determines the reception. In a lot of ways, effective body language aids communication and makes it easier for the speaker to understand the listener’s cues.


Leadership skills such as a strategic vision, creativity and innovation, emotional intelligence, critical thinking and problem-solving are necessary. However, the most important and often neglected leadership skill is that of effective communication. Communication skills are the backbone of leadership. They are necessary to create influence not only within but also outside the organisation. Communication is more than speaking. When it comes to communication, people of all genders have their strengths and weaknesses. Women, in particular, need to develop certain communication skills to progress in a formal setup. Listed below are some of the skills that women can either develop or that women already possess and can adequately take advantage of.

There are other communication skills such as empathy, respect, open mindedness, and presence of mind which form a significant part of communication. However, these skills cannot be learnt immediately. They can be imbibed over a period of time.

As a woman myself, I have often sensed that a lack of command over communication skills tends to slow our progress. I have found myself in situations where I lacked a certain skill and such a deficiency covertly acted against me. In other instances, it was a skill that I did not recognize as a ‘skill’ per say. However, listening is a skill. Regulating the tone of your voice and deploying emotion appropriately is a skill. And, it is important to ensure that we refine these skills so that we can utilize them suitably.

Women In The Workplace

In leadership positions, women struggle with being taken seriously; science has provided a number of justifications for this. Psychology researchers at Abertay University in Scotland conducted a study that was recently published in the journal Perception. The study proved that women wearing heavy makeup are seen as incompetent and therefore, are not taken as seriously. However, the study also stated that a moderate amount of makeup might even increase the level of perceived competence in women. However, I don’t think makeup can be a determining factor in corporate performance. It can certainly act as a secondary, subconscious factor, but it cannot be one of the rubrics for evaluating women. The principal reason why women are not “taken seriously” has to do with how we convey what is to be taken seriously.

Academic and corporate spaces have always had a reputation for being sexist. The sexism arises from an implicit bias against women. I’ve been a part of academic institutions that covertly practiced sexism. This makes leadership tougher for women, particularly within such institutions. One of the easiest ways to combat such a bias, is to ensure better communication. Communication is what forms judgement. Within debates and discussions, it is necessary for women to ensure that they are not being sidelined. In male-dominated spaces, women have a contrasting perspective to offer. Women can utilize this to their benefit. We need to ensure that our perspective is heard and respected. I have experienced that when we speak articulately, when we take time to explain our ideas and answer questions about the same, we are often perceived to be competent. This perception is formed on the basis of how we present ourselves. Women need to avoid using submissive body language and occupy the space that they require. Women should avoid using deprecating language while speaking about their achievements. Generally, leaders speak about their achievements to establish credibility. However, a self-deprecating or devaluing tone might create an opposite effect.

The world is moving towards equality. Education has become accessible and education systems across the world have adopted gender-sensitive measures to ensure inclusivity within curricula and classrooms. The representation of women in fields of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) has increased, and Employee Research Groups (ERGs) are supporting women who are already a part of the field. Simultaneously, there is an increase in the appearance of female names such as Gertrude B. Elion and Grace Hopper in school textbooks.

The mainstream media, private corporations, and communities are acknowledging the unpaid labor contributed by women. Organisations such as the World Health Organisation, London School of Health and Tropical Medicine, and the World Bank Group have adopted a number of measures to reduce the prevalence of violence against women. The political landscape has changed with an increased number of women participating in active politics, by getting nominated for elected office and by conducting successful campaigns; in countries like Rwanda, women make up 61.3% of the lower house and 38.5% of the upper house, France is one of the 49 countries that have statutory quotas or reserved seats for women. In the last 10 years, the number of women holding seats in houses of national parliament in South Asia has risen from 7% to 18%. Young girls and women are engaging in formulation of public policy and women’s voices have found a place in the mainstream discourse; women are voicing their opinions, questioning the establishment, and actively communicating their ideas.


In conclusion, it is crucial for all organisations and institutions to ensure that communication and public speaking is addressed within school curricula and business training programs. There have to be systems and mechanisms to ensure that women receive appropriate training to develop and enhance their communication skills. Special facilities need to be provided to women with different needs. This is because, the representation of women is unequally distributed between different communities. Thus, different women will have different needs since they are accustomed to different environments and different perceptions. Organisations should regularly assess their internal communication strategy and be aware of the company culture. An ‘open door’ policy has often helped women feel safer and communicate more freely in the workplace; companies can adopt such a policy considering the increase in female representation in the workforce and the need to render according to the needs of women employees.

In the end, it is necessary for women to develop a positive attitude towards each other, even if they find themselves in positions of competition. It is necessary for us to support each other and grow together.



3 Things That Will Give Your Business A Better Chance Of Succeeding

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“Do you want your business idea to succeed? Of course. No one creates a new company, product, or service hoping that it fails. Despite your good intentions, you might be missing a few key things that could give your venture a better chance at long-term success.

You’ve likely heard the adage “Happy wife, happy life.” Well, you can make a similar statement about your business’s relationship with its customers. Customers are a major factor — if not the most important factor — in making sure your business thrives now and in the future. After all, you depend on customers buying your product or service to bring in the money needed to keep your operation going. If your customers are happy, your business will succeed.

To truly set your company up for success, make sure it has the following three things:

1. The intel to give customers what they want (Hint: It’s a long list)

When it comes to knowing what customers want, observing the success of companies like Amazon may lead you to believe that affordability and speed are the most important things in consumers’ eyes, but that isn’t necessarily the case.

That’s not to say speedy service and low prices don’t matter at all — they contribute significantly to your customers’ overall experience. But quality and other aspects of the customer experience are equally important. A whopping 92 percent of customers said they would stop buying from a company after just three or fewer negative customer service experiences, according to Gladly’s 2018 Customer Service Expectations Survey. That doesn’t give you a lot of room for error.

To deliver on the quality and experience customers crave, you’ll need to stay tuned in to what they really want. You can do this by inviting your customers to a Facebook group related to your industry. Between sharing memes and swapping stories, you’ll get to know them on a more personal level. You can also utilize feedback software to get timely customer input. Rachel Beider, CEO of Brooklyn-based massage centers Massage Greenpoint and Massage Williamsburg, says her company uses Listen360, software that sends out a brief survey after every appointment to elicit customer feedback. As Beider notes, “We can immediately see who our promoters are and who had a less-than-perfect experience, which gives us an opportunity to reach out before we might lose that person as a customer.”

Make sure these feedback methods are part of your strategy. After all, a Cint survey found that customers are 62 percent more likely to purchase a company’s products if the company has asked their opinion. And more than half of these customers said they would even be more loyal to the brand.

2. Products and services designed with empathy

It may not be news to you that taking an empathetic approach to business will improve your company’s odds of success. It’s clear that the members of your customer service team must be able to empathize with customers in order to assist them in the best way possible. But you should also be incorporating empathy into one other key business function that might not be so obvious: product design.

By designing a product or service with empathy, your team will gain the insights needed to produce a high-quality offering that meets customers’ needs. Have your product designers put themselves in your customers’ shoes, encouraging them to explore the difficulties consumers face. This experience will give them, as IDEO’s Human-Centred Design Toolkitdescribes it, a “deep understanding of the problems and realities of the people you are designing for.” To inspire your designers to recognize which features and changes could constitute a major improvement for the people actually using your product, follow the context mapping method.

This method involves four major stages: discovery, immersion, connection, and detachment. For instance, if you’re designing a product to be used in a fast casual restaurant, discovery might involve getting a behind-the-scenes look at the limited space and working conditions of people behind the counter and in the kitchen, while immersion could consist of designers participating as members of the restaurant team to experience the difficulties firsthand.

In the connection stage, the designers would recall the challenges they experienced and what worked well, and in detachment, they would put their designer hats back on to create solutions. By enlightening your product design with empathy, you’ll prove that you understand your customers beyond a surface level.

3. Products and services that improve your customers’ well-being

Customers don’t just want fun, luxurious products — they want something to improve their mental, physical, and/or spiritual well-being. The food industry has definitely been clued in to this trend: A recent Upserve survey showed a 149 percent increase in fermented foods on menus in 2018. Restaurant owners are clearly attempting to meet consumer demand for these so-called functional foods, which are known to aid digestion and may even boost immunity. Who would have predicted that fermented foods would be a focus of restaurants? It’s just proof that you need to consider how your products and services can be a vehicle for improving customers’ well-being.

With interest in healthy living on the upswing, entrepreneurs in all industries could stand to profit if they create something that contributes to their customers’ health. Apple recognized this when it provided users the option of setting their own screen time limits on their devices. This feature encourages customers to use Apple’s product less, which may seem counterintuitive, but it shows that the company cares about its users’ “digital wellness.” After all, too much screen time can negatively impact your sleep and vision.

The point here is not that you need to develop a “fitness” product or service; it’s that you should consider how you can adapt or position your current offering to provide users with a greater sense of health and wellness. The endgame is to enhance your customers’ well-being and improve their daily life in some way while focusing on the experience they have with your product.

Products that resonate with consumers will separate you from the pack. Set your business up for success by enabling your customers to tell you what they want, designing your products and services with empathy for their needs, and striving to enhance their well-being in the bargain. Embracing these three strategies will help ensure your offering resonates with customers and keeps them engaged over the long haul.”

Article by: Serenity Gibbons. She is the local lead for NAACP in Northern California with a mission is to ensure economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.

Why Some of Us Don't Have One True Calling

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One of my absolute most favorite Ted Talks by Emilie Wapnick.

“What do you want to be when you grow up? Well, if you're not sure you want to do just one thing for the rest of your life, you're not alone. In this illuminating talk, writer and artist Emilie Wapnick describes the kind of people she calls "multipotentialites" -- who have a range of interests and jobs over one lifetime. Are you one?”

Check it out Here

COUNTDOWN! Book Coming out Soon!

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I’m SO excited about my book, coming out January 29th, called “Press Here: Massage For Beginners“. I wrote it so that a wide audience could learn how to give an amazing, relaxing massage at home to their friends and loved ones. It discusses everything from pain-relief techniques, to using the perfect amount of pressure, as well as helpful self-care tips and stretches. PRE-ORDER on Amazon or Barnes and Noble!

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!! Rachel

Rachel Beider Featured on The Moment

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HOW-TO: BLEND BUSINESS AND COMMUNITY

by Kendall Hill

There’s nothing we admire more than people who are making an effort to put goodness out into the world, especially during times like these…  Wellness practitioner Rachel Beider is one of those people, a nurturer who’s finding community in kind of an unusual space… her business.

With two well-established massage businesses, and a newly opened third under her belt (The Tulum-inspired Massage Outpost in DUMBO is now open!), Rachel uses her experience as an entrepreneur to water her wellness practitioner peers and cultivate group success through her business consulting practice aptly named, Wellness Business Consulting. Uh, sign us up! Meet Rachel below, then join us on our IG stories to hear Rachel give her tips on creating a successful, community-oriented business from scratch:

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Kendall: Hi Rachel! First let’s start off with a little taste of your background. How did you get into massage therapy and business consulting and what have both brought to your life?

Rachel: I got into massage therapy after traveling to India and Southeast Asia when I was 22. While in Thailand, I took a Thai Massage course at WatPo in Bangkok and loved it! I decided to go to massage therapy school in NYC at the Swedish Institute. I love working with my hands and working with people. I love that it’s a non-traditional job. After graduating, within 6 months I started my private practice, and many of my former classmates asked how I was doing it. Over the years of growing my business, I have mentored and advised countless people in my industry and realized that it was becoming time-consuming and that I was quite good at helping people get results. I started charging for my consulting services and have since branched out into working with other types of wellness practitioners, ranging from Acupuncturists to Psychotherapists. The principals of creating and growing a vibrant private practice are the same across fields, and so far it’s been really fun and very satisfying watching people grow and develop. I’m so inspired by my clients!

Kendall: I’m so intrigued by these strong bonds you build within your community. How do you define a nurturer, would you consider yourself to be one? How has this informed your consulting practice?

Rachel: A nurturer is someone who cares deeply for their friends, family, loved ones, and clients. Most wellness practitioners are by nature, nurturing, which is why they got into their fields: to help people heal. I help people to nurture their businesses as well, by turning that nurturing instinct into protecting and caring for the business as it’s own separate being that needs help to grow and thrive.

Business and community should support each other.

Kendall: What role does community play in your business life? How can the average person seek out community in their workspace? It doesn’t seem like business and community necessarily fit naturally together…

Rachel: Business and community should support each other. Owning a business can feel very isolating. One way that I’ve built community is by gathering local female business owners for a monthly meeting to sit and discuss the challenges and successes of entrepreneurship. Another wonderful way that business can generate community is by volunteering, which fosters great relationships with the community while creating a phenomenal company culture in your business. My company offers regular volunteering opportunities and it feels really good for everyone!

Kendall: When can we join!? You’re also due a huge congratulations on opening your third location, Massage Outpost. What makes this space different from your other two?

Rachel: Thank you!! Massage Outpost is a little bit larger than our first two locations and boasts a relaxation room specifically for stretching post-session and for small classes. We are currently open for business, woohoo!

Kendall: We can’t wait to visit the space. What values do you keep yourself accountable to in your many businesses?

Rachel: Values that are extremely important in my businesses are: green business practices, sustainability, organic growth, valuing our services appropriately (and attracting clients who value us), treating our massage therapists and front desk folks with the highest levels of respect, personal and company accountability, community focus, and, of course, creating an unforgettable and personalized massage experience for all our clients.

Kendall: You’re also just about to release your first book! Can you tell us a little about it?

Rachel: The book is called “Press Here: Massage For Beginners“. It comes out in early 2019. I wrote it so that a wide audience could learn how to give an amazing, relaxing massage at home to their friends and loved ones. It discusses everything from pain-relief techniques, to using the perfect amount of pressure, as well as helpful self-care tips and stretches.

Kendall: Your doing a takeover on our IG all about building a successful business from scratch… can you give us a sneak peak of 2-3 tips?

Rachel: Sure! Building a business requires a great amount of energy and effort, and at times can feel discouraging. It’s all about your mindset – when you’re stressed or scared, you don’t have access to the resources of your full mind. My biggest tips are:

  • When you have a problem, ask yourself what’s GREAT about this – chances are you can find something awesome that keeps you in a great head space or cultivates gratitude. (For example: sure dealing with the business issue can be a headache, but what’s GREAT is that I have a business to deal with!).

  • Also: that thing you’re dreading doing, that’s the thing you need to do first. I regularly ask myself, ‘what am I tolerating, what am I avoiding?’

  • Lastly, remember: problems are the universe on YOUR SIDE calling you to grow 🙂

The best way to stay beautiful is by moving your body in ways that feel good, getting enough sleep, and staying hydrated.

Kendall: What’s your beauty philosophy? Favorite clean products?

Rachel: I believe that all bodies are beautiful. As a massage therapist, I can promise that the things you feel the most embarrassed about or afraid of are the things that make you beautiful. Everyone has scars, wrinkles, pimples, hair, and cellulite. Don’t be afraid of getting a massage, going to a fitness class, or trying a new sport because of your body. The best way to stay beautiful is by moving your body in ways that feel good, getting enough sleep, and staying hydrated.

I LOVE clean beauty! My favorite products are:

Kendall: Great beauty advice. How do you stay in the moment?

Rachel: I stay present by putting my phone away, practicing meditation (walking meditations are my favorite), taking moments to breathe, and noticing when there’s beauty. Kurt Vonnegut JR writes “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.” I think of that often.

Special thanks to Rachel Beider!

Photos by Elena Mudd


Tips on Sharing Important News With Employees

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Article from SMALL BIZ TRENDS

1. Give It to Them Straight

“As the founder of my company, I’m ultimately responsible for everything that happens. If there is important news to share I share it with the entire team in person or through a video conference. I don’t try to sugarcoat things and I expect people to be treated as professionals.” ~ Mauricio Cardenal, Roofing Marketing Pros

2. Create a Continuous Information Sharing Loop

“Our entire company gets together at the office every Friday for a free lunch on us. We use this time to vent, laugh and discuss essential company issues and announcements. I find that having a regular, low pressure and open place to address these items results in less anxiety for employees when big announcements are coming up. ” ~ Brandon Stapper, Nonstop Signs

3. Share It on Your Company Slack Channel

“Since everyone is mostly on Slack and working, I use our company-wide channel to announce these things. That way, everyone can comment or ask questions in a way that others see and can get involved in. This is particularly helpful since most of my team is remote.” ~ John Rampton, Calendar

4. Tell Employees In Person

“If there’s an impactful piece of news, I prefer to tell my employees in person so we can talk it through and clarify details and concerns. They appreciate me being upfront about things and telling them in person whenever possible.” ~ Rachel BeiderMassage Outpost

5. Work Your Way Out

“Get your leadership people in the room. Tell them first. Stop the spread of misinformation early. Have them distribute the information. Make sure people have everything in writing. Let them know why the decision is happening. Be honest.” ~ Derek Broman, Discount Enterprises LLC

6. Schedule an All-Hands Video Conference

“Whenever we have big news, we schedule an all hands video conference on Zoom. That way everyone hears the updates in real time and people have the chance to react and ask questions. When we had a physical office, we would hold this in person.” ~ Alex Fedorov, Fresh Tilled Soil, LLC

7. Provide the ‘Why’

“One of our agency tenets is to provide the “why” on major decisions. We encourage everyone, regardless of level, to ask why of anyone. Providing the “why” allows folks to understand the rationale for a decision rather than making assumptions, judging it without full context or reacting negatively. Reasonable people want rationale, and when you provide it, it’s far easier to get people on board.” ~ Beck Bamberger, BAM Communications

8. Use the Traction Method

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman describes a method for making a decision and informing the stakeholders. First, write down who is accountable for relaying the information. Next, decide the communication deadline. Then, list the names of people affected directly by the decision. Lastly, list the names of people who need to be informed. Use this communication plan so nothing slips through the cracks.” ~ Matt Wilson, Under30Experiences

9. Remember the Follow-Up

“Big news warrants a face-to-face discussion. You should already be having regular team or company-wide check-ins. That’s a great way to begin a conversation and answer initial questions. However, follow-up in writing via whatever communication method your company prefers, so that the team can reference the information later and reach out with additional questions or concerns.” ~ Ryan Wilson, FiveFifty

10. Celebrate Small Wins Together

“The road to a successful company can be many years longer than anyone imagined at the beginning. We try to celebrate “small wins” by ringing a bell or finding other ways to announce and celebrate together in person. Without these moments, it’s easy to dwell too long on slow progress or failed experiments.” ~Natalya Bailey, Accion Systems Inc.

11. Be Transparent

“Don’t hem and haw for weeks about the “best” way to communicate a big decision. The longer you stew on it, the bigger and bigger the issue may seem to you. You’ll come across as less confident when you do finally deliver the news and your employees will notice. Be fully transparent and notify everyone as soon as you’re in the planning stages, and it will be easier for everyone down the road.” ~ Roger Lee, Human Interest 401(k)

12. Reach Everyone by Using Multiple Channels

“To ensure every employee gets the message, news should be distributed in different formats for maximum visibility. If a major hire is discussed at a meeting, be sure to record it. The video can be distributed via email and social media. It allows all viewers to hear the speaker’s tone of voice, gestures, expression and body language. All of these things can make a message much more impactful.” ~ Blair Thomas,eMerchantBroker

Rachel Beider featured on The Fullest

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Originally published on The Fullest

Rachel Beider is a massage therapist, business consultant, and advocate for women-owned businesses. She is the founder of three women-focused clinical massage studios that specialize in pain management (Massage Outpost in DumboMassage Greenpoint, and Massage Williamsburg). Earlier this year she launched Moon Cycle Massage, which is specially designed to help clients find relief before and during their monthly period.

Rachel also holds entrepreneurship meetings and offers personalized coaching for women who want to start and grow wellness practices that are ethical, nurturing, and sustainable.

We recently caught up with the businesswoman to ask her to share the seven things she’s vibing on most at the moment. This is what she said…

1 | Music with steel drums —

I’ve been listening to “Love$ick” by Mura Masa featuring A$AP Rocky. It makes me unbelievably happy. Same goes for Jamie xx’s “Far Nearer” — the drums get me every time.

2 | Dynamic meditation —

It involves moving your body, screaming, shouting, jumping up and down, and discharging a ton of energy before settling into a dance — and then a calm — state.

3 | Essential oils (specifically eucalyptus) —

I hang dried bunches of it in the shower, and line it in the entryways of my massage studios. In the fall I also love French Lavender — I make a little spray of it for my pillow and linens, and also add a few drops to the tub.

4 | My consulting clients —

They are extremely driven, hardworking, motivating, and inspiring! I love watching their businesses grow and thrive.

5 | Tulum —

It’s my literal happy place! I’ve been visiting every year for 11 years, and though it’s changed quite a bit I’m still awed by its sheer beauty, culture, people, and food. The interior design of my massage studios is Tulum-inspired, and a lot of our decor is handmade from there.

6 | The chocolate chip cookies at Jacques Torres —

The most dangerous thing about opening in Dumbo Brooklyn is that we are neighbors with this heavenly chocolate shop that makes the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had in my life.

7 | My upcoming book —

It’s an illustrated beginner’s guide to massage therapy, called Press Here. I wrote it to help my clients and loved ones learn how to give an amazing massage with confidence and ease.