The Surprising Reason Why This Founder Says Not to Be Afraid of the Competition

Editor’s Note: Entrepreneur’s “20 Questions” series features both established and up-and-coming entrepreneurs and asks them a number of questions about what makes them tick, their everyday success strategies and advice for aspiring founders.

In 2013, Chieh Huang and his three co-founders were feeling ambitious. They decided to take on Amazon and big-box retailers.

They launched Boxed, a company that is dedicated to shipping bulk groceries and home products to customer’s doors at competitive prices.  

“We just identified a problem we had in our daily lives,” explains Huang. “Before, people would drive an hour for price, but with technology, value is a function of price and convenience now. That changing of the formula allows us to come in and take advantage of that.”

Related: First, It Was College Tuition for His Employees’ Kids. Now, This CEO Launches Program to Foot the Bill for Employees’ Weddings.

Four years ago, Huang was running the business out of his garage. The first item the team ever shipped was some rolls of paper towels. Today, the company operates four fulfillment centers around the country, including its home base of Edison, New Jersey. Boxed has raised more $100 million in funding and surpassed $100 million in annual sales.

Boxed has also been in the news for some of its company wide initiatives, like a college fund for employee’s children and putting money towards the weddings of employees.

Related: This Company Is Offering Discounts to Fight Sexist Product Pricing

We caught up with Huang for our 20 Questions series to find out what motivates him and makes him tick.

Interview was edited for length and clarity.

1. How do you start your day?
I start the day just with the family. I don’t check emails until my commute, and I make sure my phone isn’t close to me until I’m out the door. I’m guilty just like everyone else. When you’re at the dinner table with family and checking email, you make nobody happy. I try to keep true to that and that’s why I don’t check it.

2. How do you end your day and
I end my day reading a [physical] book. It is the way I actually wind down. It gives me a little bit of clarity on things. I do it because I read this article about how right before you go to bed, the blue light [from mobile devices] disrupts your sleep. I do think I wake up more rested, but it could be the placebo effect.

3. What’s a book that changed your mind
50 Strategies That Changed History by Daniel Smith. It just basically went down this list of interesting moments in history. It kind of changed the way I thought about people who do things that change the arc of history. When I read the book and how they did what they did, most of these people were random people who had to step up and make a strategy to make it happen. You don’t have to be a superhero to change the arc of history.

Related: 10 Successful Entrepreneurs Reveal the Books That Changed Their Lives

4. What’s a book you always recommend
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. Every entrepreneur out there has challenging days. What you read about what he’s gone through, you think it is tough, but he still got through it. Definitely recommend that one.

5. What’s a strategy to keep focused?
Having a chief of staff. They aren’t just managing a calendar, they can fill in the gaps for you. My chief of staff writes me an email at the end of every day, and makes a list of the decisions that I need to make that people are counting on. Having someone to send that every day has made my life better and made things here a lot clearer for everyone.

6. When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
I knew I did not want to be a doctor, my parents kept talking to me about that. I wanted to be an NBA player but around freshman and sophomore year I stopped growing, so that was the end of that.

Related: 6 Tips for Goal-Setting That, Trust Me, They Don’t Teach You in College

7. What did you learn from the worst boss you ever had?
I learned just what not to do when it was my turn to be the boss. When it comes to running a business and interacting with people, you need to be very transparent.

8. Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?
I think it would have to be my mom. My mom started off as a cashier at a fast-food restaurant and ended up being an EVP of a decent sized company. Throughout that time, she never complained once. She just got up and did what she needed to do. In the morning if I’m sluggish I think if my mom could do that, I could do this.

9. What’s a trip that changed you?
Emotionally, it was a trip to Tibet. I definitely saw not only the beauty of the place but what some folks in life are truly going through. I didn’t have an easy childhood but compared to kids who are growing up in poverty in China and Tibet, that changed the way I thought about opportunity.

A trajectory changer for my professional life was teaching English in Japan for two years. I was sent off into the countryside. I felt like I wasted those two years at first, but it turned out that our first investor in Boxed actually grew up in that area. Without that initial spark, I don’t think we’d be here today.

Related: 11 Strategies for More Efficient Business Travel

10. What inspires you?
The folks in our performance centers who do a very difficult job. My life at Boxed started there — the CEO was packing boxes at the start, too. There are a lot of people counting on us to make the right decisions to make sure that we do well, so they can put food on the table and that inspires me.

11. What was your first business idea and what did you do with it?
When I was in fifth grade I sold candy to all the kids on the block. I saw how much they loved the ice cream truck, but it only came around once a day. So, being outside with the kids from the neighborhood, I was always around. That was my start.

12. What was an early job that taught you something important or useful that you still use today?
One of my first jobs was an internship with this consulting firm going through international strategy for them. Even big companies needed help with strategy. On the outside it would seem like they have it figured out, but on the inside there’s a lot of things that need figuring out.

Related: The Top 20 First Jobs in the U.S. According to Facebook

13. What’s the best advice you ever took?
It’s to trust your gut. It’s what got me here today, and it seems like it’s served us pretty well, so why change that.

14. What’s the worst piece of advice you ever got?
When I was working at a law firm, I was thinking about leaving, and a co-worker said not to leave the comfort of the job to start my first company. I didn’t take that person’s advice, and I’m better for it.

15. What’s a productivity tip you swear by?
I try to do inbox zero. I get pretty close most nights. That allows me in the morning to not have to get to emails and know that nothing really pressing is waiting. In the morning I’m sharpest. I can use that time to think about how to make things better for the company, instead of focusing on email.

Related: Entrepreneur’s Best Advice for Super Productivity

16. Is there an app or tool you use to get things done or stay on track?
It’s a little cliche, but honestly it’s Uber. Uber has a pick up at a certain time feature that is really helpful. It gets me where I need to go on time.

17. What does work-life balance mean to you?
It means that you’re not having regrets on either front. You got to this point where you’re not worrying about what you should have done with your job or your family.

I’m not perfect and sometimes I do have regrets, but that is what it means to me overall: getting to that place where you don’t have them.

18. How do you prevent burnout?
I don’t know if I’m built differently, but I found something that I love and enjoy and I’m decent at it. When you find that marriage in life, you don’t feel burned out. I could do this all day, and it’s what I want to do during the waking hours.

Related: How to Recognize and Beat Burnout

19. When you’re faced with a creativity block, what’s your strategy to get innovating?
I separate myself from email and internet and sit down with pen and paper. Some of my most productive time is on airplane. Being forced to sit down with just your thoughts is really helpful to me.

20. What are you learning now?
A few years ago we were a tiny company in my garage. I have to learn something new every day. I can’t even enumerate them. Every day is something new.

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Watch Mark Zuckerberg 3-D-Print a Mini Version of His Dog

Forget about tennis balls or generic pet toys — why not get your dog a miniature 3-D-printed version of him or herself? That’s what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did.

For the sixth birthday of his Hungarian Sheepdog Beast, Zuckerberg — with the help of some crafty Oculus staff members — created a 3-D-printed mini replica of his furry friend.

Zuckerberg turned to his cuddly canine to help put the recently announced Oculus Medium software in the spotlight. With more than 4 million video views on Zuckerberg’s Facebook, Beast seemed to have done the trick.

So if you’ve ever wondered how 3-D printing works — or better yet, how you can 3-D print a version of your pet, watch Zuckerberg and the Oculus staff make some magic. If beast was expecting a chewy bone toy — maybe next birthday.

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This Is the Year of the Machine Learning Revolution

In San Francisco, self-driving cars roaming around and people having conversations with Siri have become common sights. Just yesterday, Alexa told me that the meaning of life is 42. As machines become even more woven into our daily lives, we’re witness to a new revolution that’s taking over the world.

The AI revolution has clearly arrived, and it’s here to stay. Just like past revolutions, the entrepreneurs who go all in will become tomorrow’s giants. Henry Ford of the Industrial Revolution and Jeff Bezos of the Internet Revolution grew their companies because they envisioned a future that was very different from their present. They lived in the future.

Related: Has Artificial Intelligence Arrived At The Sales Function Yet?

Machine learning became mainstream in 2016. For the first time in history, machine learning is not only available to big companies like Google, Amazon or Apple. Startups have started building products and services using machine learning.

So, what is machine learning? Machine learning is learning from data. To predict the future, we look at the data we have about the past. Statistics and predictive analysis have been around for a long time. What’s different today is that we now have the tools to use them for practically everything. For example, we have new specialized machine learning programming languages that can enable a junior programmer to build amazing things. We can now easily use machine learning for things like speech and facial recognition, language translation, data classification and object detection. Many tasks that previously could only be done manually, can be automated today using machine learning.  

When Bezos started Amazon in 1994, he wasn’t an expert on everything internet. He left a well-paying job on Wall Street, and he bet on the internet — what he considered to be the future. He was a businessman, not a technical person. However, he took great efforts to understand the internet, and he used his business knowledge to find ways to take advantage of it.

Related: Tech Moguls Such as Musk and Bezos Declare Era of Artificial Intelligence

In the same way, you don’t need to be a computer science expert to build your own machine learning startup. In fact, it is probably better to be knowledgeable in another industry and then solve problems in your industry by utilizing machine learning. You are more likely to be very familiar with the biggest problems in your industry that could benefit from machine learning in a major way.

Startups building on machine learning.

Companies are taking advantage of machine learning to create more powerful experiences. There are hundreds of them but let’s take a look at some concrete examples.

  • Forkable uses machine learning to figure out what you want for lunch before you know it — automatically delivers it.
  • Dark Trace listens to your company’s network traffic and uses machine learning to detect emergent security threats.  
  • Nova uses machine learning to write personalized sales emails. It knows which emails performed better and suggests changes to your sales emails.
  • Blue River Technology creates equipment for farmers that uses machine learning and computer vision to diagnose and treat each plant individually.  
  • Sift detects online fraud and prevents chargebacks using machine learning.

Machine learning as a competitive advantage.

Machine learning can also be a competitive advantage for your company. Let me give you an example from my own company. We are in the online forms industry. Our industry is in deep trouble with phishers. These criminals attempt to use our product to create phishing forms to trick people into entering their credentials for other websites. Our machine learning-based tools allow us to detect who should be banned and who should have access to our product. As a result, we‘re able to continue to serve our legitimate users while our competitors embarrassingly block their websites to entire countries. Using machine learning to detect possible phishing activity allows us to continue to provide our free service all over the world, while keeping the bad guys out.

Another area where we use machine learning is marketing. We classify our users by looking at individual words and phrases used on their forms. Using this classification process, our marketing team sends customized email campaigns to different segments of users who haven’t personally provided us with demographic information. 

Related: 4 AI Technologies Impacting Business Operations Right Now

The revolution.

Look carefully at each thing that is currently being done manually in your industry. Every one of those tasks will be done tomorrow using machines. Entrepreneurs who disrupt their industries with machine learning will be the big winners of tomorrow. The machine learning revolution is here to stay. Join the revolution.

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Take Control of Your Career: Trends to Look Out for in 2017

Entrepreneur has an affiliate partnership with TradePub so we may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

Trying to find a career that identifies with your passions and aligns with the level of income you want is not an easy task. You may be asking yourself: What path do I take? What are my options? How do I know if I can do it? Am I qualified enough?

By looking at the career trends of 2017, you can finally get answers and put your mental career interrogation to rest. It’s no secret that money is a huge motivating factor. We all want to live our life to the fullest without any financial roadblocks in our path to freedom. Below, you’ll find one free resource that illustrates the 20 occupations with the highest median pay, allowing you to delve into more information on any career. Another resource supplies you with tips and tricks to make the move of living independently an easier, stress-free transition. Not only will it help you with the essentials of autonomy, it will also provide you with the money-management skills of 2017 that you’ve been looking for.

Another important skill to nail down is interviewing. It’s critical to have a professional demeanor and articulate your qualifications well to ensure you make the best impression possible. This free eBook coaches you on how to perfect the point you make to sell your strengths and experiences. If you’re serious about having a job you love, it’s smart to do your research. 

Learn about the 2017 career trends with these resources:

Highest Paying Occupations – Occupational Outlook  

        

On Your Own: Becoming Self-Sufficient – Career Outlook  

Employment Interviewing – Seizing the Opportunity and the Job  

Fastest Growing Occupations – Occupational Outlook Summary  

Your career possibilities are limitless and you deserve to live a life you love. By gaining knowledge of the free eBooks above, you’ll be in the driver’s seat to make educated decisions about what the future holds. Take control of your professional life today.

Disclosure: This is brought to you by the Entrepreneur Partner Studio. Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Have a deal you want to promote? Contact us here.

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5 Steps You Can Take Now to Get Wealthy in 2017

The end of 2016 is fast approaching, and while many of us area already caught up in all of the hustle and bustle that comes with the holiday season, there is actually no better time to regroup, refocus and to start thinking about 2017.

What are your goals for the coming year? For many people, these goals include financial motivations. If you want to finally get wealthy in 2017, here are five ways you can actually do it.

1. Work for your dreams, not someone else’s.

If you really want to start making money and finally be wealthy in 2017 then you need to do something that you are truly passionate about. Without this passion, you are never going to reach your full earning potential. Focus on doing what you love and what you are passionate about, not just something that happens to be in a highly paid field.

Really ask yourself and dig deep to think about what you can see yourself becoming obsessed with. Obsession is the key to true success and it can lead you to real wealth. As real, lasting wealth is not just about money.

Related: 25 Best Habits to Have in Life

2. Dream big but start small.

Everyone wants big success fast but it’s better to go slowly. Optimize your process first before you try to go big. Take my top student, Tim as an example. He started stock trading with just $1,500, grew it to $1 million in three years and then over $3.3 million in four years. He bets bigger now that he is more confident, thanks to his early education. He is one of my favorite examples of starting small and working your way up slowly to something much more.

Related: How to Scale From a Small Business to a Billion-Dollar Empire

3. Give to others instead of yourself. 

Most people find this tough to do, but trust me, you can only have so many Lamborghinis and Ferraris and Porsches. Trust me, as someone who has had all three, they are not as fulfilling as giving back to charities, such as my Timothy Sykes Foundation is infinitely more rewarding and fulfilling. Remember that true wealth is not just about having the most money, but the most inner peace too. You will truly feel successful, established and wealthy if you start giving to others.

Related: The 15 Most Profitable Small-Business Industries

4. Get healthy.

 I know it sounds a little corny, but it is actually true: health is wealth. You can have all of the money in the world, but if you are sick, or dead, you can’t enjoy it. As much as you work and as hard as you work, don’t forget to focus on your health, your body and your mental well-being.

Related: 10 Misused Words That Make Smart People Look Stupid

5. Learn online.

We live in such an exciting time, where the world centers around the internet. It is a time where you have unprecedented access to a wealth of information. Thanks to the internet you don’t need fancy degrees, connections or inherited wealth. Everything you need to learn is online with video lessons and free guides, as well as vast educational resources like the Entrepreneur Library.  People always ask me where I learned about stock trading. It was all online. 

I wish I had a mentor to help speed up my education, but I didn’t. This is why it is my goal to be the mentor to others that I never had. In summation, if you want wealth and success in the year 2017, you need to study and prepare and start with your online education, it is only the beginning of your success, but it will set a strong foundation for your future.

These five steps can go a long way in helping any individual be wealthier in the year 2017. The new year is right around the corner so don’t waste this opportunity to have a more secure financial future for yourself. 

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Check Out This New Way to Relax and De-Stress

Whether you’re an entrepreneur looking to relax and de-stress, or a parent who wants to add some fun to their household — the Kodama Zome is perfect for just about anyone.

The hanging outdoor bed can fit up to three people. It not only acts as a therapeutic de-stresser, but the bed can activate the vestibular system, boosting balance and coordination.

It’s not just a bed . . . it’s an experience. 

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18 Things to Know Before You Date an Entrepreneur

So, you want to date an entrepreneur. (This could be the name of the next big game show.) It’s a wild ride, and if you aren’t an entrepreneur yourself, you may be caught offguard by their odd habits and quirks. Don’t fret. Dating an entrepreneur is a great experience, but there are a few things you should know.

1. They read a lot about business and self-development.

Entrepreneurs rarely reach a point where they’re satisfied with their personal or professional progress. As a result, their shelves are full of innovators’ memoirs, and their online bookmarks are all links to self-development articles.

2. They sometimes have a hard time “turning off.”

There’s no “leaving your work at work” when you own a business. Instead, there are always things waiting to be done, and it’s hard not to fill bits of free time by checking off items on the to-do list. It may be a little tricky to convince your entrepreneur to spend their free time actually relaxing.

Related: Is Dating Becoming Just Another Networking Opportunity for Entrepreneurs?

3. You’ll always wonder if this is a tax write-off.

Entrepreneurs probably enjoy more tax-deductible expenses than anyone from another profession. You’ll learn to wonder if that coffee (or a stop by a vendor during a trip) was another tax write-off for your entrepreneur.

4. They analyze almost everything to see if it’s worth their time.

Because their to-do list is never empty, the last thing an entrepreneur wants to do is waste their time on something unenjoyable or unproductive. Every item on their agenda is carefully analyzed to ensure it’s worth their time — but if they’re spending time with you, you know they truly love it.

5. They definitely don’t work a 9-to-5 schedule.

Business owners are required to fulfill a variety of roles: marketer, content creator, salesperson, leader, customer service rep. . . the list goes on and on. Their jam-packed work days rarely fit into the 9-to-5 schedules you find with other jobs, meaning your entrepreneur may stay up late with their laptop, wake at the crack of dawn to work on a business plan, or take a break in the middle of the day so the evening will be that much more productive.

6. They ask a lot of questions.                 

Entrepreneurs are never finished learning. Even when the topic has nothing to do with their business, they’re naturally curious, asking a million questions to gain as much knowledge as possible. By dating an entrepreneur, you’re dating both a treasure trove of information and someone who will challenge you to always keep learning.

7. They don’t particularly enjoy spending time with lazy people.

To preserve their own motivation, entrepreneurs like to surround themselves with equally inspired and capable individuals. They love to bounce ideas off of other business owners, innovators, and creatives, and they especially enjoy spending time with those who push them to work smarter. Lazy people do the very opposite.

8. They can be a “jack-of-all-trades” type.

Remember when I mentioned entrepreneurs’ constant desire to learn? The result is a partner who’s willing to take a jab at just about anything. One highly-motivated person can boast the capabilities of several people with different skillsets, so you get the whole package.

Related: The Biggest Dating Problem Entrepreneurs Have

9. They live to achieve.

Entrepreneurs are constantly working toward some type of goal—often several at a time. Each accomplishment gives them the motivational high they need to reach the next one. Your support during every stride is priceless.

10. Spontaneity is part of the package.

A lack of a 9-to-5 schedule, a huge variety of ever-changing responsibilities, and a “shoot for the moon” mindset ensures there’s never a dull moment with your entrepreneur. When an idea comes, they go for it, and you get to come along for the ride.

11. You’ll learn a lot about entrepreneurship.

The stories, triumphs and troubles your partner shares will teach you more about their industry than you may have set out to learn. Maybe you’re not planning on opening a startup anytime soon, but your second-hand experience in the realm of small business will make you an honorary entrepreneur.

12. They’re great at surprises.              

It all comes back to spontaneity. Entrepreneurs naturally pay attention to what’s going to end up the “next big thing,” so their surprises go beyond flowers and chocolates — and they have impeccable timing.

Related: Dating an Entrepreneur Can Be Extremely Exciting or Completely Insane

13. It’s difficult to explain what they do.

Sure, you could simply tell people your partner is an entrepreneur, but whomever you’re speaking with will probably want you to elaborate. As a result, you’ll have to follow up with the name of your partner’s business, what the business does, why your partner started it. . . and before you know it, you’ve been talking for ten minutes.

14. You’ll watch movies ‘The Social Network’ and shows like ‘Silicon Valley.’

Entrepreneurs can’t get enough of their crazy lifestyle off-screen, so they seek it out on-screen, too. Whether they’re biographical movies like “Jobs” or dramas like “The Pursuit of Happyness,” the characters inspire them to work harder and aim higher.

15. Their emotions fluctuate often.

Entrepreneurs are encouraged by success and disappointed by any slow in progress. While this is typical of most people, business owners tend to experience crazier rollercoasters than others—they may be excited one moment and irritated the next.

16. You may need to remind them not to spread themselves too thin.

In order to maintain their “jack-of-all-trades” status and achieve as much as possible, entrepreneurs take on nearly every project they’re invited to join. This is a great way to become well-rounded and accomplished, but it can also result in burnout, so you may have to act as a bit of a safety net.

17. They need a spouse whi is good at nurturing, giving space, forgiving and having fun.

Their erratic schedules and dreams make them a little more complicated than others. An entrepreneur’s ideal spouse is one that supports their goals, gives them space, forgives them for working late, and loves to have fun during spots of free time. In return, they’ll give you the world.

Related: 6 Reasons Why Dating Can Be a Nightmare for Some Entrepreneurs

18. They think and care about you more than you may know.

Not everyone is willing or able to date an entrepreneur for the reasons above, which means if you can, you’re all the more special. Your love and dedication means more to your partner than you may know.

An entrepreneur’s lifestyle is a rollercoaster of experiences and emotions. What have you learned along the ride?

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4 Online Marketing Trends With Big Potential to Drive Sales

Online marketing constantly evolves, providing you with new ways to attract your target audience and convert them into sales and revenue.

While there are search engine optimization and email marketing will continue to produce results, new trends can’t be ignored. Here are four that you need to pay attention to this coming year — this is where you are going to find a large percentage of consumer attention.

1. Micro-influencers

Influencer marketing can deliver the highest return when stacked up against other forms of online marketing, which is why I founded a second agency that focuses solely on influencer marketing. Some brands have built multi-million dollar companies using influencer marketing exclusively.

The cost has gone through the roof over the past couple years to secure the services of highly desirable social influencers. And not every brand can afford to pay a Kardashian upwards of six-figures for a social plug. This is one reason that micro-influencers are becoming increasingly popular — that and they work extremely well.

Finding micro-influencers with smaller followings that align with your brand can deliver amazing results. They are more affordable that the big names and their engagement is genuine. I have been able to analyze a lot of data through my agency and multiple micro-influencers always outperform a single big name post. Instead of trying to hit a home run and striking out, hit singles and doubles. In the end, you will experience much better results.

Related: Micro-influencers Bring Mega ROI for Brands

2. Live video

Some early adapters dabbled with live video streaming last year, but this is the year it’s going to become part of everyone’s online marketing strategy. Platforms like Facebook Live and Instagram Live Video allow you to reach your customer base in a way that’s very personal and raw.

There are no fancy video edits — your audience gets to take a peek inside and see the real you. There are so many ways to use this to generate buzz. Broadcasting from special events, in-store sales, etc. The opportunity is truly endless, especially for personal branding.

It’s going to take some testing and tweaking to determine what live approach your audience will best respond to. Start testing now before your competition masters live video — don’t get left in the dark.

Related: The Top 9 Social Media Strategists to Watch In 2017

3. Paid social media

The organic reach brands experienced in the early days of Facebook and Instagram is long gone, and this should be no surprise. These social networks make their money via advertisements — if you want to reap the benefits of their reach and audience you need to break out the wallet. Pay to play, baby!

I love when business owners complain to me about diminishing organic reaches. Social networks are businesses — they exist to make money — piles of it.

I would suggest starting small and learning the ins and outs, before dumping large sums of money into paid social media promotion. Facebook ads, for example, can deliver incredible reach at a very low cost, if you have your campaign properly optimized. It can take time to master Facebook ads — and there is no better education than jumping in and learning through hands-on experience.

Related: 6 Tools To Turbocharge Your Content Marketing in 2017

4. AI (Artificial Intelligence) chat bots

Investment in artificial intelligence is expected to triple in 2017 according to Forrester research.

Brands are tapping into the potential of machine learning, with Facebook leading the way with the roll-out of news feed ads that open directly into Messenger chats and hybrid products such as Google Allo, a smart messaging app with an integrated AI assistant.

This gives you the ability to go from mass targeting to one-to-one conversations. Imagine being able to start a conversation with a potential customer rather than have them click-through to your website and hope they submit a form or make a purchase? There is so much potential here and it’s brand new — you will gain a huge advantage over your competition if you are an early adapter.

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The Secret to Getting a Popular Blogger to Review Your Product

Popular bloggers are bombarded with pitches and emails, sometimes hundreds in a single day. As an entrepreneur, how can you cut through the clutter and get your product in front of the right person, at the right time?

At GrowthLab.com, where entrepreneurs go to launch and grow their online business, we’ve seen thousands of product pitches. Most are unfocused and rambling. They try too hard to be clever instead of getting right to the point. Don’t be that person.

Related: You Don’t Have to Be Patti LaBelle to Score a Viral Product Review Video

Here’s an email script that shows the right way to get a blogger’s attention. You’ll notice several things. First, he gets right to the point in the second paragraph. Second, he personalizes the message with a call out to the blogger’s work (with a page number). Finally, he adds credibility with a link to his success stories.

Related: You Just Got a Bad Media Review. Now, What?

Check out the email script below. 

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Dignity and the Pink Slip: What Are You Doing to Bring Decency to the Process?

It is never easy to let someone go, be let go or watch others be let go. I should know: I have had the honor and privilege of experiencing all three.

Employee termination is particularly challenging for entrepreneurs and leaders of small companies that may lack established HR best practices, as well as the HR staff to carry them out.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask When Firing an Employee

In the not-so-distant past, people received a notice or “pink slip” with their paycheck. While very efficient and easy for the employer, this strategy was not exactly humane, measured by today’s standards. So, new dos and don’ts of how to effectively terminate an employee have arisen in their place, and received plenty of press. 

The collective belief, of course, is that there is nothing graceful or elegant about the process of letting people go in small entrepreneurial organizations. It just causes stress for the entire team; everyone is impacted: For the leader(s) involved in delivering the news, there is angst and anxiety leading up to the “event,” as some organizations commonly call it.

That angst reverberates around the company: Just as the bearer of the bad news is done, everyone else is just learning of the “event” and dealing with the raw emotions, as they process what just happened. Of course, for the person being let go, the world has just been turned upside down.

My own termination

I was let go from my role at a small branding agency at 6 p.m. on the Monday after the holiday break. Not a happy start to the New Year. I knew it was coming, that I wasn’t a good fit. But it was still hard hearing, “This isn’t working out, and today is your last day.” I remember that immediate feeling of rejection and the awkwardness colleagues expressed toward me when they found out only after I had packed up my belongings and left the building. 

Related: 6 Ways to Reinvigorate Your Team After Firing an Employee

That’s why I make it a habit to extend my support to close associates who have been let go, an act of kindness that’s met with great appreciation but apparently is not the norm. In fact, it’s shocking to find out infrequently such acts occur. People will say, “You are the only one I heard from,” or “I feel like people are avoiding me.” I’d like to believe that the reason is that people just don’t know what to do or say.

But I do: Given my personal experience and my background as an executive coach, I offer this counsel to leaders when dealing with terminations:  

1. Discourage hallway chatter.

Depending on its scale, a layoff can be quite unsettling. As word spreads, there is a ripple effect. People get nervous, and inevitably there is hallway chatter. “Did you hear . . .” “Can you believe it?” “Are there any more?” “Who’s next?” Left unchecked, the gossip can become all consuming.

As team leader, when you inform the team of the termination(s) ask them, out of respect for those involved, to not speak of it within the office. Instead focus people’s nervous energy on how they can offer assistance to those let go.

2. Ask your team to extend a helping hand.

The experience of losing a job is mortifying. You feel vulnerable and overwhelmed and your ego is bruised. So, for those still employed, the next best step is to reach out and provide the person let go names of recruiters, recommendations on LinkedIn, networking connections, job leads and any other support they need to look for a new job.

Keep the focus on helping, not on «stoking the fire of injustice» about what has happened. I myself found this stance incredibly thoughtful and humane. People appreciate gestures of kindness.

Related: Should That Employee Be Fired? Ask These 5 Questions First

In sum, there is nothing dignified about getting the proverbial “pink slip.” Seldom is it done with a deft touch. Bringing some decency to the process, and respect for the people involved, is an incredibly generous way to help ease its painful affects.

Dignity and decency offered to those involved creates the positive energy they need to reset their career — and to those still employed, the energy to carry on. 

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