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3 Reasons Giving Back Is Key To Cultivating A Younger Audience: An Interview With Giuliano Gigliotti

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This Gen Z entrepreneur focuses on giving back in the cannabis industry.
Cannabis and community service might not seem like the perfect match at the onset.
However, Millennials and Gen Z make up an overwhelming percentage of legal cannabis users—48% and 17%, respectively. And these demographics want to see the companies they support giving back to their communities. In fact, 81% of Millennials want to support companies that embrace corporate citizenship, while 86% of Gen Z report being influenced in purchase decisions by a company’s sustainability practices. 
Giuliano Gigliotti, an entrepreneur who works with multiple cannabis dispensaries, has made giving back a cornerstone of his marketing strategies. I spoke with him recently to get his take on how giving back can help a brand succeed.
Shama Hyder: Why is giving back an important element of your brand building? 
Giuliano Gigliotti: I prioritize giving back with the companies I work with because our customers want to know that we believe in people over profits. We are here for the people and the consumer—not just to make money. 

I believe it’s very important to Gen Z and Millennials that companies play a positive role in the community and advertise themselves correctly. We spend a lot of time making sure we’re doing that, especially because there’s often a negative stereotype around the marijuana industry. 
Hyder: Do you think there’s an advantage for companies that do things like host events and drives, as opposed to donating money? 
Gigliotti: Marketing-wise, I believe it’s more effective to do something tangible, like an event or a toy drive, rather than just donating money. 

Here a few reasons why. Throwing an event can give you a chance to come together with other brands in your industry to put on something fun for the community. Donating money is great, but when you provide a toy drive or event you’re taking time and money to go above and beyond for a common cause.
For example, in December 2020 I worked with the company Vader Extracts to host a toy drive with a cannabis dispensary, Apothecary Sherman Oaks. Everyone who brought a toy received cash prizes as well as cannabis products at a 99% discount. We were able to donate more than 400 toys to LAFD Station 88 for their yearly toy charity, and we were able to show our customers that we really value our role in the community as a local business.  
A different sort of event I helped to organize was the first annual KushStock, which headlined 2Chainz and JuicyJ. We put on this show free of charge, in partnership with other cannabis companies, to bring our community together. 
Not only was it a way to thank our customers for their support, but it also gave us a chance to highlight multiple brands and influencers within the cannabis community.   
Hyder: What kinds of marketing initiatives are you working on currently given the state of so many countries with lockdowns, etc.? 
Gigliotti: I think it is very important to understand the local community first and start there. Each place has its own rules and restrictions right now so you have to understand those first. I’m working on projects with a few companies in Barcelona, Spain. I’ll be traveling the country to get a better understanding of the different brands and dispensaries, and promote them on their social media platforms. I’ll be working to help them connect with their local marijuana communities. 
As Gigliotti says, connecting with a Gen Z and Millennial audience means living out your brand’s values in a tangible way—no matter what industry you’re in.

Robinhood co-founder admits miscommunication in his investment app

The investment application blocked the purchase of GameStop shares, after reaching its all-time high of $ 483.
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February 16, 2021 2 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Co-founder of online investment app Robinhood, Vlad Tenev, acknowledged that there was a communication failure in the GameStop case. In remarks made on Saturday on the All-In podcast, he and CEO acknowledged, “I think the challenge was that we could certainly have communicated this a little better to customers. ”
Robinhood outraged many of its users when on January 28 it restricted the purchase of 13 stocks short, including those of GameStop, whose shares had risen more than 1,600% to hit an all-time high of $ 483.
The company communicated the move to its users via automated emails that simply said they had restricted the purchase of certain shares. “As soon as those emails were sent the conspiracy theories started coming in immediately, so my phone exploded,” Tenev added.
The executive acknowledged that they probably could have provided more details on the situation with the anticipation that perhaps clients might think that a hedge fund was forcing them to do so.

Techstars & Western Union Accelerator convene Latin American fintech startups for their 2021 acceleration program

This program for fintech startups is led by mentors and takes place in 13 weeks, in which it is possible to connect entrepreneurs with up to 100 of the best Fintech mentors within the Western Union ecosystem and other recognized experts worldwide.
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February 16, 2021 2 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Techstars together with Western Union are looking for Latin American startups that want to create the financial products that the world needs, and have announced the start of the call for their acceleration program that will be carried out remotely during 2021.
This program for fintech startups is led by mentors and takes place in 13 weeks, in which it is possible to connect entrepreneurs with up to 100 of the best Fintech mentors within the Western Union ecosystem and other recognized experts worldwide.
In addition, it offers consulting on fundraising issues, including a week with investors where projects with around 50 Venture Capital are introduced within the Techstars network. On average, each startup that has been part of this program has raised more than a million dollars of investment, representing a total market capitalization of more than 63 million dollars in its category.
In 2021, the third cohort of this program will be developed, which will select 10 startups at an early stage, preferably with an MVP ready to go to market. The program will kick off on July 19 remotely, with the possibility of spending the last weeks at Western Union headquarters in Denver, Colorado.
Elle Bruno, Managing Director Techstars & Wester Union Accelerator. Photo courtesy.
“We are specifically interested in Latin America because it is the region where entrepreneurs with incredible ideas are emerging; In addition, Western Union has a strong presence there, so we seek to continue to gain more traction by supporting initiatives that seek to revolutionize the way money is moved in the United States and emerging markets, ”says Elle Bruno, Managing Director of Techstars & Western Union Accelerator.
Applications will be open until April 7 , 2021 . For more information, you can visit the official site of Techstars & Western Union Accelerator.

iPhone 13 could have the 'always on display' function

This feature will allow a portion of the screen to always be on with minimal power consumption.
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February 16, 2021 2 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Although Android was a few years ahead of it, it seems that Apple plans to launch the new iPhone 13 with the screen function “always on display” (always on), as explained by Filip Koroy, on his YouTube channel EverythingApplePro EAP .
This feature will allow a part of the screen to always be on with minimal power consumption and the aim that users can constantly check the time, date and battery level, even if the smartphone is locked.
Probably, this new option can be configured from the settings menu, which will allow the user to choose the data they want to observe permanently. Although according to Koroy, this new feature may have minimal customization.
On the other hand, the display is expected to have a refresh rate of 120 Hz.
Among other speculative features about the new iPhone model, it is expected that there will be improvements in the camera and that the blur feature for video will be activated. Also, Koroy commented that the company is thinking of returning the fingerprint reader to the screen of the devices.
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The Mastermind Group You Can Start Yourself

February 16, 2021 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
From its inception, the idea of a mastermind has been linked to the rich and powerful. Author Napoleon Hill in his 1937 book Think and Grow Rich deemed it the “ninth step toward riches” — one leveraged by successful men including Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison.
Hill considerably oversimplifies the path to success and riches, but he was onto something with the idea of a mastermind group, which is simply a group of like-minded individuals who come together to share knowledge and experience. 
Many mastermind groups today are run like expensive and exclusive clubs that you have to be well-connected to access or pay monthly fees to participate in. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Solopreneurs, start-up founders, small business owners and artist-entrepreneurs, too, can benefit from a mastermind by setting one up themselves — and it doesn’t cost a dime.
For over four years, I’ve been part of such a group—we call ours the Mastermind Failure Club, because it ties together the concepts of the mastermind with a failure club, meaning that in addition to the group support dynamic, we aim for goals so ambitious that failure seems assured. We meet once a week and split up the meeting, so each person has time to brainstorm ideas, get feedback, problem solve and share progress. 
Related: A No-BS Framework to Having an Effective Mastermind Group
The benefits of a mastermind group
The concept of a mastermind is that two minds are better than one, five better than two. That said, anyone who has been to a heated town hall meeting also knows that one hundred are often not better than five. 
So, a mastermind group typically brings together about five to seven people — enough to leverage a range of experience and knowledge while keeping the group small enough to maintain a sense of common purpose and order. Your mastermind group can help you:
1. Improve your decision-making
As an entrepreneur, you can feel as if you’re making decisions in a void. Sure, you can do your own market research, but what about finding someone to pick apart your website or examine your new pricing structure or offer thoughts on a tense interaction with a client? Your mastermind group provides a space for feedback on whatever pressing issue you have to contend with at that moment.
2. Carve out a brave space
The mastermind group is not exactly a safe space — it’s a brave space. This is where you can confidentially articulate your wildest dreams for you and your business so you can set out to achieve them.
It’s a space that requires you to come ready to expose your own vulnerabilities, setbacks, and failures. Only then can you learn and pivot to find the best path forward. Your group provides you the brave space to do just that.
3. Hold yourself accountable 
A fundamental feature of a mastermind group is the way that it offers continued accountability among members. You articulate clear goals to the group, and then they are there to remind you to stick with those goals.
Months later, they might help you remember the promises you made to yourself or the goals you set out to achieve. And those external reminders can sometimes make all the difference.
Related: 4 Advantages of Mastermind Groups for Founders
Assemble a group of peer advocates
Your mastermind group not only pushes you to ask the hard questions or stay on track, but it also offers you a group of individuals who are rooting for you — and you do the same for them. And who doesn’t need that?
Over time, these groups can become incredibly tight-knit, and you become each other’s biggest fans. That can mean anything from an encouraging word to a new connection to an unexpected collaboration. 
Make time for necessary reflection
As an entrepreneur, it can feel as if you are forging ahead at warp speed, just trying to make it all happen. Time for reflection can seem like a luxury you don’t have time for. But in a mastermind group, reflection is built in. By meeting and sharing over longer periods of time, you will find yourself reflecting back not just on your week, but on your month and year.
Related: 3 Guidelines for Creating a Support Group That Will Push You to the Next Level 
Access the insight to grow professionally and personally 
The insight that comes from such reflection might just be the most transformative aspect of such groups. With conscious and sustained attention on your business, professional and personal goals, you will likely make some eye-opening discoveries.
In our group alone, people have launched new businesses; shuttered businesses; completely pivoted their sales approaches, client base, and marketing strategies; and set out on new career paths. 
A mastermind group is a bit like having your own set of coaches or board of advisors, except that you learn by both getting and giving advice — and by sharing and listening. 

Storytelling Can Dramatically Change Your Business

Learn how entrepreneurs can use filmmaking as a tool for dramatic growth.
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February 16, 2021 6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
It’s 2007. While attending a technology conference, I was introduced to the world of technology filmmaking. What’s technology filmmaking? I’m glad you asked. I would have never thought that there existed a specific genre of filmmaking within technology circles, which captured many different themes, from following entrepreneurs and their journey to the latest breaking stories that captured knew innovative ideas and beyond.
After that, I was bitten by the movie bug. But what did I really know about filmmaking? Literally nothing. I had dabbled into professional photography for a few years and that was it. I was a stills guy, a frame person, but not really a motion person. Sometimes you encounter something so profound in life that it completely changes the direction of where you’re headed, and essentially who you are. In my entire career, I have found many of these twists and turns that have taken me into a new area of exploration and helped me change what I was doing to make things better. Filmmaking has been one of them.
Related: Hollywood Storytelling Secrets That Will Make You a More Inspiring Leader
Long story short, I got super interested in filmmaking — and essentially storytelling. How could you weave a narrative around something that can help tell a captivating story and how can that change the lives of those who would watch such a film? In this article, I will give you five steps to use storytelling as leverage to do many good things, one of them being dramatically changing results for your business.
Now you may think filmmaking is complex and you really don’t have ideas that could transform or translate into a visual work. Undoubtedly filmmaking is complicated, but there are many ways to simplify the message and the delivery — and get people to watch it. 
Before I share all my secrets, I just wanted to put it out there that my first documentary film was Blockchain City, which was released on Amazon Prime Video in 2019. My second documentary, GX Now, was recently released on Amazon Prime Video as well. My third documentary is AI the Next Frontier, the story of artificial intelligence and where we are headed as humanity. It’s scheduled to be released at the end of 2021.
Here are my insights that may help:
Someone has said that a picture is worth 1,000 words. That’s true, but a video is worth a million pictures. Video has an extremely powerful way of captivating viewers, that is if you have the right story to tell. There is no doubt in my mind — and given my experience with three different documentaries — that video is the best way to deliver a message or create an understanding of something that you want to tell your audiences about.
Filmmaking is more simple than it seems. An independent filmmaker takes an idea, builds a narrative around it, and finds a way to make the story take shape. This involves budgets, financing the film, booking talent, interviews, crew selection and 100 other things you would have never imagined that you would be doing. With my three documentaries, I have traveled to more than 15 countries with zero crew along with me. I managed to create a system of working with local crews and that worked well. It’s all about simplifying the complexity and making it work for you. 
Keep the end goal in mind. Filmmaking or video narrative creation is not about a short shot at success or being famous. It’s about grueling work to make sure your message reaches those you feel should know about what you want to talk about. If you are so passionate about your story and what you want others to know, keep the end goal in mind. This is also a heads up that the journey of being a filmmaker is not going to be easy, but the destination is definitely much beautiful than you could ever anticipate.
There is a steep learning curve if you are not exposed to things like project management, storytelling, creative writing and communicating with others. The path never gets easier. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Expect a lot of failures and a lot more learning along the way. However, I personally grew a lot due to these experiences and that helped me think more creatively. 
Get started. As an entrepreneur, if you sit still and keep just thinking about tomorrow, nothing will happen. We know already that action reaps the reward. Unless you do things that set you apart from others, you will keep on getting the results you have had so far. Experiment with creating a video for YouTube, then move to create a short series and then perhaps a bigger project. The point is to get started. 
Related: How Your Origin Story Connects You With Your Audience
Today, video creation is thriving. There is abundant talent available that can help you with every aspect of creating a video. Here are the top five facts about video.

81% of businesses use video as a marketing tool — up from 63% over the last year. (Hubspot)

6 out of 10 people would rather watch online videos than television. (Google)

Mobile video consumption rises by 100% every year. (Insivia)

By 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic — 15 times higher than it was in 2017. (Cisco)

78% of people watch online videos every week, and 55% view online videos every day. (HubSpot)
So here is the billion-dollar question. If video demand is growing at an astronomical pace and if the video is the top medium of engagement, where should your marketing dollars go?
Check out my documentary films on Amazon Prime or YouTube to get an idea of the type of work I have put into my storytelling over the last few years. It does not matter if you are a restaurant owner, an accountant, a banker, a car repair garage or a realtor. You have a unique story inside of you that can be told to the world outside. It can help others overcome barriers they are currently facing or learn something new. The possibilities are endless.

When Talking to the Media, Use These Tactics to Connect with Your Target Audience

February 16, 2021 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Many company spokespeople make a simple mistake when talking to a reporter. They forget who their target audience is and miss the opportunity to truly connect with them!
Before any interview, it’s important to know your target audience. Ultimately, this target audience is who you want to hear, understand, and accept what you’re saying. The reporter isn’t your audience; the reporter is the messenger who will communicate to your target audience on your behalf.
The trick to overcoming this error is “seeing” your target audience when talking to the reporter.
Confused? Let’s say a 25-year-old reporter asks you about health tips for older adults. When answering the question, “see” your grandma, not the 25-year-old reporter in front of you. Picture your grandma as the one asking the question about older adults. The answer you give to a grandparent will be delivered very differently than it would be to a young person right out of college. Without even realizing it, you’ll explain your answer and share it in a much more caring, respectful and appropriate way.
Here’s why this approach matters: You don’t want to insult your grandma. If you’re trying to make sure a young reporter understands an issue faced by an older adult, it’s natural to alter your wording or explain it in a way that translates to a younger person. The risk is that if the reporter quotes you or shares your example, there’s a chance you’ll come across as condescending or unqualified to the more mature audience. 
Related: 5 Secrets to Talking to the Media (And Not Sounding Like a Fool)
This example goes beyond grandma. It works for any target audience or customer you may have. But there’s a catch. It doesn’t work if you’re attempting to talk to a generic collective group—like all parents of school-age kids. It only works if you’re mentally, truly talking to parents you know where you can visualize their faces and their facial responses as you talk to them. 
Also, keep in mind that your target audience may encompass more than one singular demographic. Make sure your answers and examples are appropriate for any of your intended target audiences. It won’t help your cause to appeal to one target audience while insulting the other.  
Let me share some more specific examples. 
Speaking to the devoted traveler
A company out of Spain called Cornet Barcelona sells beautiful, mouth-blown and hand-painted glassware inspired by the stained-glass windows at the popular Barcelona tourist attraction, the Sagrada Familia. Anyone who looks at their wineglasses would agree they’re beautiful, but they’re even more so to someone who has stood in the church to view the windows with their own eyes.
As a result, whenever the Cornet Barcelona talks about the glassware, they envision they are talking with someone who personally has stood in the Sagrada Familia or wants to make a trip to Barcelona to see it for themselves. Thus, in everything that they say, Cornet Barcelona evokes positive memories (or premonitions) to make their products more than a pretty wine glass, but also a travel story. The goal here is to truly connect with their target audience, the devoted traveler so that they are more incentivized to purchase their one-of-a-kind products.
Related: 3 Ways to Handle That Media Interview Like a Pro 
Speaking to a Specific Industry
Another example is SEN Design Group, a kitchen and bath industry buying group and business education resource with more than 200 independent kitchen and bath business owners as members.
SEN Design Group understands that many kitchen and bath business owners share a similar pain point as an industry. When they visit a potential client’s home and do measurements, they often need to return to the office and spend hours putting together a design and pricing estimates, forcing them to come back to the prospect days later with a plan. In that time, sometimes the homeowner changes their mind or solicits bids from competitors. All this ends up wasting a lot of time when everyone wishes that a proposal can be whipped up quickly during the initial visit.
This led SEN Design Group to introduce the DesignAlign unique selling system for free to its members, which capitalizes on the exclusive Good-Better-Best sales process. SEN Design Group’s members can now create plans and show estimates in real time with the client during the first visit. 
While DesignAlign would be of interest to individual consumers, SEN Design Group understands its target audience is the independent kitchen and bath business owners, a very different audience from consumers. A second target audience would be the vendors and manufacturers who want their cabinetry and faucets included on the platform. Every time SEN representatives talk to a reporter, they’re envisioning a different business or vendor and talking directly to them when answering the question to make sure the target audience hears their answer. This way, other kitchen and bath businesses are more likely to see the benefits of joining a group like SEN Design Group.
Related: Learn to Stop Saying ‘Um’ and ‘Ah’ Before the Media Comes Calling 
Talking to grandma
Yes, a reporter might be surprised when you’re looking or talking to them in an unexpected way, but they can only quote you on what you actually say. By talking to your grandma, or the face of whomever your target audience is, the story is more likely to be received the way you intended.

How to Turn Your Passion into Action and Expand Your Brand

February 16, 2021 9 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You might have read an article in the news or might be going through a personal experience that has inspired you to do something, but you don’t know where to start. Strategist Shatonna Nelson is the founder of The Finest Hour PR Firm in Texas. She has a long list of clients, from national leaders in the entertainment and hospitality industries to politics and real estate development. Her work enables her to help people all over the world make positive changes in their own lives, in their communities and beyond. But, turning someone’s passion into action is personal for Nelson. She was raped when she was 11 years old and left to die in a ditch. Her cousin, who was like a brother to her, died in a car accident, and she lost her boyfriend to cancer. Nelson says she has turned her pain into purpose in an effort to help others. She has been recognized for her national contributions, which include a day being named after her by the Mayor of Houston and receiving the Yellow Rose of Texas. Nelson sat down with Jessica Abo and shared her tips for anyone looking to turn their passion into action.
Jessica Abo: Shatonna, will you first start by telling us a little bit about your philanthropic journey?
Shatonna Nelson: I always was really involved in the community, even at a young age. It was something that my grandmother did, so I would do. My very first organization, though, I founded at 16 years old. It was called The Heart of Texas Foundation. It was geared towards helping younger girls in the community. I was in high school, but I wanted to help out with middle schoolers and elementary girls. I would go in and teach them cheers because obviously I was a cheerleader, and I would use that time to also encourage them. It was really hard being a military brat. You move around quite often, you don’t always know what it’s like to really just get close to people. So that was my first effort.
It continued on all the way through college and took an activist standpoint, and then at some point I came back and I’ve worked with some incredible organizations. For instance, Samaritan’s Feet, they give out about a million pairs of shoes a year to kids across the globe. I’ve gotten to do that. Feed Your City Challenge allowed me to come in and work with them on several occasions and help give out food to different communities across the nation in wake of the pandemic. And it just kind of goes on from there. The journey has been so long and so amazing that the mayor of Houston gave me my own day, and also the governor of Texas gave me the Yellow Rose of Texas. And it’s just been an incredible journey. So many people allowed me to come in and organize and do things within a community, and give back, whether it was the money for food or school supplies, or just service in general.
Wow, you have done so much. Looking back at all of it, to what do you attribute your success?
It’s the very hard parts of my life that I give the credit for that. The things that maybe I was ashamed of at some point, the failures, the people who failed me, the forgiveness that I had to learn to heal. All of those different things along the journey. I think that’s the most impactful and empowering thing any of us can use to launch us or propel us in our lives. And so many times people don’t realize that. They’re just like, “Oh.” They’re shell-shocked from it. All the little things, all the chapters, all the moments, they all work together to form this amazing puzzle that can absolutely define you, redefine you and continue to help you maximize your life. So if anything, I’d say, the pain. It’s always the pain.
If someone’s listening to you and they’re thinking, but I can’t do that, what do you want to say to that person?
I would tell anyone who’s going through a hard time that if I can go from there and accomplish all the things that I’ve accomplished across the world, so can you. It’s just a matter of, what are you going to do with your pain, right? Are you going to let it completely break you or are you going to let it define you? And some days it’s probably going to break you. You just have to get up the next day and decide that it’s going to be a defining factor and go after whatever you want to go after and make a new decision and a new commitment to yourself every day, every single day, to push yourself a little bit harder, to maximize your life.
Let’s say someone’s passionate about mental health or the environment. What’s the very first step people should take to make a difference?
You have to research first. You need to understand where this is happening. What’s the community of people, in what region? What does it look like? What are they lacking in that community? And then you need to figure out what you’re going to do. Am I going to give time? Am I giving money? Am I organizing an event? So, the very first step for anything that you want to get involved in is planning.
Once someone has a plan in place, where do they go from there?
You want to promote. And I know that sounds crazy, because most of the time when you think about promoting something, it’s advertising or selling. But you’re promoting for different reasons. You want to promote to get maybe other friends who are aligned with the cause to help you out, or maybe you’re promoting so that people know that this is an issue. If you have a really great platform and you’re any type of influencer, you have a community of people who pay attention promoting, definitely helps give to that cause of whatever that may be. So planning, then you’re promoting.
You’re the publicist and strategist behind brands and people all over the world, from celebrities to political figures. What is the formula that you use at the end of the day to be successful and propel all of your hard work forward?
My secret sauce looks different across all different platforms. It really has so much to do with that plan, but propelling most of all for me is going after it, knowing that, “Hey, I may fail. This event may blow, people may hate it. I may not even be welcomed into this community or this cause that I’m trying to help. But I’m going to find out, I’m going to go forward,” and then I’ll go back and start all over again if it doesn’t work the way I want it to. So, propelling is ultimately just jumping and running into whatever you want to do. After, of course, you’ve already planned it.
You’ve also taken on the role as CEO of Limitless Resource. Tell me a little bit about that.
I’ve been working with national civil rights attorney Lee Merritt for some time, and we do so many things. He has 45 cases of the families that have been involved in officer-involved shootings and the deadliest police culture of our time. So we would see other needs outside of advocating and getting justice when it came to the law enforcement route. We had families that had mental health needs, financial needs. They needed to have legs in the community. They wanted to open up organizations in honor of those people. So I said, “Okay Lee, what do we do?”
We decided that we would open up this non-profit called that will provide multiple resources. We’ve worked with people all around the country who are coming in to provide these families with mental health. Financial resources, obviously, because most of the time it’s the breadwinner who was killed. So they need to be able to sustain while getting the mental health that they need to adapt to, and I hate to say this, a very unfair new normal. And then obviously they want to advocate and have campaigns, and that’s the other part of it. So it’s important, and I think we need it across the board for people everywhere.
How can we use social media to help us amplify our message?
I don’t get on social media unless I have something to post, because you can get on there and then you’ll be scrolling forever with mindless things. So, unless I have something about a cause, or maybe I want to get on to encourage someone that day, or maybe I want to share a piece of my story that’s not so great to remind people that everybody’s going through something.When it comes to social media, I encourage everyone to be that way. Not just when you post, but be very intentional about what you’re looking for. So you can definitely use it if you’re a person that wants to be a part of a cause. Look for that, find something, share that. And if you’re a leader in any cause in any community, definitely make sure when you’re getting on social media, you’re getting on there with the intention to promote, to help someone else plan or to help someone else prepare.

3 Work-from-Home Stocks that May Be Better than Zoom

February 16, 2021 7 min read
This story originally appeared on StockNews
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic-driven widespread transition to work-from-home and learn-from-home models, the adoption of Zoom Video Communications, Inc.’s (ZM – Get Rating) web conferencing software skyrocketed last year. While many other tech companies scrambled to survive, ZM stock thrived.
However, with all the extra attention, ZM’s software products soon faced public and media scrutiny related to security and privacy issues. With this and the offerings of similar services by some of the tech leaders, there are sufficient reasons to believe ZM’s popularity (and the giddy ascent of its stock price) might slow this year.
While ZM has taken many steps to address security issues, it does not seem as though it will smooth sailing now for the company. Since coronavirus vaccination programs could still take several months to cover the global population, the remote working environment is here to stay. This means working professionals concerned about possible privacy breaches will likely switch to safer and more secure online platforms. We think these factors will likely hurt ZM’s subscriber growth in the coming months.
Because most corporations are planning to maintain a hybrid work model even after pandemic-related risks subside, many leading tech players are preparing to grab market share for services offered by ZM. In particular, the company could face  intense competition from major players such as Microsoft Corporation (MSFT – Get Rating), Adobe Inc. (ADBE – Get Rating), and Dropbox, Inc. (DBX – Get Rating). These IT giants are better positioned to gain from the trend because of their attractive tariffs and advanced security.
Microsoft Corporation (MSFT – Get Rating)
Founded in 1975, MSFT is one of the most prominent and successful players in the technology industry. It operates through three segments — Productivity and Business Processes, Intelligent Cloud, and More Personal Computing. The company’s products have thrived during the pandemic,  buoyed by demand for internet-based software and cloud services needed to accommodate a shift to remote working during.
This month,  Volkswagen Group joined hands with MSFT to build a cloud-based Automated Driving Platform (ADP) on Microsoft Azure and simplify its data capabilities to deliver automated driving experiences even faster at a global scale. MSFT intends to enable technology partners to build tools that will further enhance its platform and improve client experience.
In January, the company entered  a multi-year partnership with Broad Institute of MIT, Harvard, and Verily to accelerate new innovations in biomedicine through the Terra platform. his should allow MSFT to make ground-breaking progress by bringing together its cloud, data, and AI technologies to accelerate the development of global biomedical research.
MSFT’s revenues have increased 16.7% year-over-year to $43.08 billion in the second fiscal quarter ended December 31, 2020. Its operating income grew 29% from the year-ago value to $17.9 billion, while its EPS increased 34% year-over-year to $2.03. The company’s net cash from operations grew 17.2% from the prior-year quarter to $12.52 billion.
A consensus EPS estimate of $1.77 for the current quarter ending March 30, 2021 represents  a 26.4% improvement year-over-year. Also, MSFT beat the Street’s EPS estimates in each of the trailing four quarters. The consensus revenue estimate of $41.03 billion for the current quarter represents a 17.2% increase from the same period last year. The stock has gained 32.6% over the past year.
MSFT’s POWR Ratings reflect this promising outlook. The stock has an overall rating of B, which translates to a Buy in our proprietary rating system. The POWR Ratings are calculated by considering 118 different factors with each factor weighted to an optimal degree.
MSFT has a grade of A for Sentiment and B for Momentum and Quality. Of the 107 stocks in the Software – Application industry, MSFT is ranked #12.
In total, we rate MSFT on eight different levels. Beyond what we stated above we also have given MSFT grades for Stability, Value, and Growth. Get all the MSFT ratings here.
Adobe Inc. (ADBE – Get Rating)
Headquartered in San Jose, California, ADBE is one of the largest diversified software companies in the world. The company operates through segments such as Digital Media, Digital Experience, and Publishing and Advertising. As organizations shift to work-from-home arrangements, the demand for ADBE’s next-generation collaboration and productivity tools are expected to grow steadily.
In December, the company acquired Workfront, a leading work management platform for marketers with more than 3,000 customers and one million users. This acquisition should enable ADBE to satisfy the increasing expectations of its B2B and B2C customers that use  its  Workfront platform.
ADBE’s revenue for the fiscal fourth quarter, ended November 27, 2020, increased 14% year-over-year to $3.42 billion. The company’s digital media segment revenue was $2.50 billion, which represents 20% year-over-year growth. Its gross profit grew 17.9% from the year-ago value to $2.99 billion, while its EPS rose 166.5% year-over-year to $4.69 over this period.
A consensus EPS estimate of $2.70 for the next quarter ending May 31, 2021 represents  a 10.2% improvement year-over-year. Moreover, ADBE beat the Street’s EPS estimates in each of the trailing four quarters, which is impressive. The consensus revenue estimate of $3.70 billion for the next quarter represents  a 17.1% increase from the same period last year. The stock has gained 33.3% over the past year.
It is no surprise that ADBE has an overall rating of B, which translates to Buy in our POWR Ratings system. ADBE also has a grade of A for Quality, and B for Stability and Momentum. It is ranked #22 of 107 stocks in the Software – Application industry.
In addition to the POWR Ratings grades I’ve just highlighted, you can see the ADBE ratings for Value, Sentiment, and Growth here.
Dropbox, Inc. (DBX – Get Rating)
Formerly known as Evenflow, Inc., DBX is a collaboration platform that allows individuals, teams, and organizations to sign up for free through its website or app, as well as upgrade to a paid subscription plan with premium features. The company provides cloud storage, personal cloud, file synchronization, and client software to more than 600 million registered users across 180 countries.
Last November,  DBX launched new features of its collaborative workspace—Dropbox Spaces–to help teams organize and work securely from anywhere. Also, DBX’s recent Virtual First announcement demonstrates a holistic approach to leading the remote work revolution as more organizations embrace the long-term shift. his should help the company to design software that specifically meets their customers’ needs.
DBX’s revenues have increased 14% year-over-year to $487.40 million in the third quarter ended September 30, 2020. The company’s paid user base grew 8.9% from the year-ago value to 15.25 million. DBX’s gross profit has increased 18.8% from the prior-year quarter to $384.2 million, while its gross margin was 78.8%, as compared to 75.5% in the same period last year. Its net income was $32.7 million, as compared to a loss of $17.0 million in the same period last year.
A consensus EPS estimate of $1.04 for 2021 represents a 16.9% improvement year-over-year. DBX has an impressive earnings surprise history;  it beat consensus Street estimates in each of the trailing four quarters. The consensus revenue estimate of $2.11 billion for the current year represents a 10.6% increase from the same period last year. The stock has gained 32% over the past year.
DBX’s strong fundamentals are reflected in its POWR Ratings. The stock has an overall rating of A, which translates to a Strong Buy in our POWR Ratings system. DBX has a grade of A for Quality, and B for both Growth and Momentum. It is ranked #3 among the 82 stocks in the Technology – Services industry.
Click here to see the additional POWR Ratings for DBX (Stability, Value, and Sentiment).

What Is The Difference Between A Business-Plan Contest And A Beauty Pageant?

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Mark Cuban: Where Art Thou?

#1. Both rely on judges’ instincts rather than an unbiased measure of achievement.

Business plan competitions, or pitch competitions for those who do not want to waste their time reading an entire business plan, are one of the most popular entrepreneurship activities in many business schools, universities, incubators, and communities. The latest incarnation of this phenomenon is the shark-tank type competition. Judges decide whether a particular plan or pitch is attractive, using their “superior” instincts.

Ditto for beauty pageants. Judges pick a winner from among attractive contestants using their instincts.

#2. The lures are very similar.

The lure of business-plan competitions is that they promote the look of the venture and give publicity to the winners and the sponsors, usually universities, business schools, banks, and economic-development agencies who want to do something productive in area venture development. The entrepreneurs make connections and potentially get financing. And the banks and service firms get customers and clients.

Ditto for beauty pageants. Beauty pageants promote participants’ looks and give publicity to the contestants and the sponsors – usually promoters, beauty-product companies, and media.

#3. Both are superficial.

Judges in business-plan competitions will tell you that they evaluate potential in a venture. Judges have to be truly talented if they can pick winners at the startup stage (except for picking the medical venture that has developed a cure for cancer) given that VCs wait for Aha, i.e., for real proof of potential, before they invest. What exactly are judges in business-plan competitions judging? Beauty? Looks? Perceptions? Thankfully they don’t make entrepreneurs strut in swimsuits.

Ditto for beauty pageants. Beauty pageants value superficial beauty. There is a question where you get to show your sympathy for the poor and the oppressed, and a talent contest where participants have to show that they have some real expertise. True, but you don’t get a chance to show off your sympathy and talent if you don’t pass muster in a swimsuit.

#4. Neither is an accurate predictor of future success.

Winners of business-plan competitions are not guaranteed to succeed. Many things can go wrong between a business plan and a successful business. It is called risk, which is why most professional VCs wait for real proof, not superficial proof based on the opinions of a few judges. Yet VCs fail on 80% of the ventures they finance.

Ditto for beauty pageants. Winning a beauty pageant does not guarantee great successes in life. Yes, some winners do succeed. In the world we live in – looks and color do matter, but should they count? 

Is there a better approach for entrepreneurs?

Is the proportion of false positives and false negatives in a business-plan competition worth the investment? When this issue was raised with sponsors or supporters of business-plan competitions, the response was that the publicity was great. Is that all that matters? By that token public hangings also generate a lot of publicity. Is that what venture development has descended to?

Switching to a results-based approach, rather than a swimsuit competition, will mean that judges will be evaluating real results, not hopes, dreams and shapes. Winners can be picked from all races, genders, and socioeconomic and educational backgrounds because the results can be quantified and ranked. Most importantly, this approach can create lasting jobs and economic growth rather than the false hopes of wishes and skewed intentions.

MY TAKE: Can we take the resources spent on business-plan competitions and invest it in educating entrepreneurs in the skills and strategies of unicorn entrepreneurs. Can we offer more resources and “prizes” to entrepreneurs who take off with limited capital and have proven expertise than to those who have the right pedigree, the right education, or the right social standing? This can channel resources to those who can offer real returns, rather than PR.

And judges should be made to invest significant amounts of their own capital in the ventures they pick as winners. That may put an end to the beauty contest in the entrepreneurship industry. Shark Tank should come out of the closet and disclose if judges have done due diligence on the products they so casually finance on TV or have subsequently invested in the ventures they claim to love without any due diligence. Mark Cuban, where art thou?