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Student Entrepreneurship Fuels Business Growth And Learning

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Saxbys Founder & CEO, Nick Bayer with Bowie State University President Aminta Breaux and inaugural … [+] Student CEO Devin Gallion toast to the grand opening of Bowie State’s Saxbys
Saxbys
A recent study conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers pointed to a disturbing trend. While graduates believe they are well prepared for a job, employers increasingly think otherwise.
Nick Bayer, Founder and CEO of Public Benefit Corporation and hospitality company Saxbys expressed it to me this way: “The job market demands skills like critical thinking, emotional intelligence, problem solving, cultural agility—attributes that are extremely difficult if not impossible to teach in a classroom.”  
Bayer developed the Saxbys Experiential Learning Platform (ELP), a student-centric entrepreneurship opportunity where partners with leading universities to give students the opportunity to run a business, specifically a bustling on-campus café. 

Each ELP cafe is helmed by a Student CEO (SCEO) and a team entirely of undergraduate students who fully responsible for the business, and in return receive academic credit as well as financial compensation.  The program also has an important educational component. Starting three months before their term, the SCEO completes 100 hours of training centered in the following three areas:  Team Development; hiring, inspiring & empowering a team of on average, 50 of their peers; Community Leadership, engaging with stakeholders to become a valued cornerstone on campus; and Financial Management, being fully accountable for the Profit & Loss statement of the cafe. 
Through this program Bayer told me that the students “develop the power skills that can’t be learned in classrooms and earn the real experience it takes to stand out as they seek to springboard their careers.”  

I recently talked to Bayer on occasion of the company’s recent B Corp Certification, as part of my research on businesses with a social mission. Below is a lightly edited version of our email conversation.  
Christopher Marquis: How did you come up with this model?
Nick Bayer: Nearly a decade ago I had the good fortune to be asked by my alma mater (Cornell University) to become an Entrepreneur in Residence to help serve the explosive growth of entrepreneurship on campus. I was struck by the confluence of the tremendous desire from students to become civic-minded entrepreneurs and the need for real opportunities to “learn by doing”—or in the pedagogy of Higher Ed, experiential learning.
On the many drives I’ve done from Center City Philadelphia to the Ithaca campus, my mind would race with the possibilities of providing such an opportunity for the next generation of entrepreneurs. As Saxbys has always been deeply mission-driven, intentionally committed to entrepreneurship—all of our cafes are run by CEOs—and our top performing cafes have been on or adjacent to college campuses, it started to become apparent this could be the best way to teach business experientially.  
Saxbys is headquartered in Philadelphia—with which over 100 of colleges and universities may just be the biggest college town in America. Located less than 10 blocks from our headquarters is Drexel University; known for many impressive programs & achievements, but especially for their renowned co-op program where students are required to, for an entire semester, take no classes and work full-time in in their field. I was introduced to Drexel’s President John Fry—an educational innovator and community builder—and he supported the vision right out of the gates.  
I actually remember it like it was yesterday because the great majority of people thought we were out of our mind—there’s no way we could successfully run a demanding business, 15 hours a day, 7 days a week exclusively with students. 
On April 15, 2015, Saxbys Drexel (now known as Saxbys OG Drexel after our second Drexel ELP cafe opened in 2017) opened and the outpouring of support from the campus and neighborhood alike was nothing short of humbling. To this day—more than five years later—that cafe has served over a half million guests, employed hundreds of Drexel students, and has been led admirably by a Student CEO every minute since.
Since then, we have opened 9 more ELP cafes throughout the region with three more on the way at the University of Pittsburgh and dozens more in the pipeline.
Marquis: Can you provide a brief history of Saxbys?
Bayer: Since we were founded in 2005, Saxbys has grown from one corner cafe to a 20+ cafe system spanning multiple states and regions, all with our mission to Make Life Better. Each cafe is an uplifting environment filled with friendly faces, delicious drinks and exceptional food to fuel the day’s possibilities. With a core mission to “Make Life Better,” we brew real change in the communities we serve, while nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit in team members who aspire to make an impactful difference. In 2015, we launched the ELP to introduce exclusively student-run cafes to university campuses, complementing classroom learning with tangible experiences. Currently, 10 ELP locations exist across eight campuses with partners including Drexel University, Millersville University, Temple University, La Salle University, West Chester University, Penn State University, Bowie State University and Saint Joseph’s University.                                                 
Marquis: I see students get credit for their work, can you describe the relationships with the different universities and how that works? Is there any associated academic work?
Bayer: When we first started the platform, we felt it critical for the SCEO to receive full academic credit for the opportunity and there are three important reasons for that.
We don’t want to delay graduation  – we have a massive student debt problem in this country, a $1.6 trillion dollar problem. By ensuring these students don’t take additional time to graduate, we remove the financial effect of having to stay additional semesters to be able to participate in this opportunity. The credits they receive are meaningful and contribute to the advancement of their degree program.
Maintain full-time student status – this ensures the SCEO’s eligibility for federal financial aid, a key component that enables them to afford school.
It’s a bustling cafe, and they’re the leader – when we hand the keys of the cafe to a SCEO we mean it—they’re supported by an HQ team designed for experiential learning but the responsibility for the cafe truly lies on the SCEO and their full attention is critical for their success as a leader. We look for synergies between faculty and coursework to provide an academically rigorous, credited connection to the experiential learning of the cafe.
The ELP complements traditional classroom learning—we find so often that when the SCEO returns to the classroom after their experience they can apply the skills they learned in running their own business to their studies. Most of our partner schools have SCEO’s present to university leadership and the Saxbys executive team at the end of the term about their experience along with reflections on how they mastered the 3 Pillars of Team Development, Community Leadership, and Financial Management. 
Marquis: Why is this experience important for students?
Bayer: Experiential Learning has never been more important in education. The job market demands skills like critical thinking, emotional intelligence, problem solving, cultural agility—attributes that are extremely difficult if not impossible to teach in a classroom.  We believe it’s not the sole responsibility of the university to equip students for the future and rather, truly impactful businesses must lean in and create opportunities to nurture and grow the entrepreneurial spirit in young people. As such, Saxbys plugs a living, breathing B Corp into college campuses, exposing students to conscious capitalism in the form of a popular, dynamic business run by their peers. Furthermore, Saxbys is an on-campus entrepreneurship lab accessible to both students & educators for case studies, projects, and distinctive learning experiences. In fact, recently Penn State students and faculty wrote a case study on Saxbys commitment to a Plant Powered menu and had their case published in a peer-reviewed publication.
Marquis: How has Covid impacted your business?
Bayer: The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly presented challenges not just to Saxbys but to food & beverage businesses across the nation. I nicknamed our time during lockdown (where most of our cafes were closed due to slow traffic and team member health risk) Productive Hibernation. I read early in the pandemic that former Intel CEO Andy Grove once said “During times of crisis bad companies die, good companies survive and great companies change.” It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to erase the proverbial priority checklist we operated off companywide and rebuild it to ensure Saxbys change into the great company we could become. And the top of that new priority list was our commitment to culture and impact, so we set our sights on attaining BCorp certification.
All along the way, we never discontinued our Experiential Learning Platform. When companies were cancelling internship programs and co-ops, we exposed our Student CEOs to every aspect of converting to remote work and leading company-wide projects in areas such as operations, training, marketing and communications. When it was time to reopen our cafes, our teams were ready and our Student CEOs led that effort with the newfound experience of helping the company survive the endless challenges of the Covid crisis—never once did we waiver in our effort to empower young people to be leaders. And it shows, the Student CEOs that operated cafes and navigated their experience amidst the pandemic are better for it, with a set of skills and experiences that can not be replicated or simulated.
Marquis: Why is being a B Corp important for Saxbys?  Can you tell us about the certification process?
Bayer: I chose to become an entrepreneur because I truly believed businesses should be a force for good, and as such, we’ve built Saxbys with the intent to build a business that makes people’s lives better. As the impact movement continues to gain traction, I realized my original intention was directly aligned with being a B Corp (but it didn’t exist when I created Saxbys!). Going through the B Corp Assessment wasn’t just solely to receive the certification, but also expose our team to areas where we can do better, the assessment gives an opportunity not just to see what we’re great at but areas where we can improve.
The B Corp assessment is, understandably, a huge undertaking for any company, and that was our experience. Our team spent the last 2 years going through the assessment and audits, producing information on all aspects of our business as well as incorporating as a Public Benefit Corporation—codifying our commitment to both our shareholders and stakeholders.
Marquis: How did you educate your team on this achievement?
Bayer: We knew that internal education is even more important than us sharing this story with the world. We built an exciting and detailed training program run through our Learning Management System for all team members (from baristas to the CEO) and coined it as Saxbys Impact Week—a bi-annual event that trains and highlights all areas of Saxbys impact. The week started with a virtual Impact Week Kickoff event, we closed our cafes early so that we could include every single team member across our entire cafe community. The highlight of the event was a panel discussion featuring Jay Coen Gilbert, Founder of B Lab, and Dr. Aminta Breaux, President of Bowie State University. It was moderated by Jameel Rush, the Vice President of DE&I at the Philadelphia Inquirer. Our team heard directly from these leaders on what it “Means to be a B Corp,” the history behind the “Declaration of Interdependence,” and the importance of plugging double-impact, experiential business learning into higher ed.
The kickoff event and Impact Week was designed to create an army of impact ambassadors in our cafe & HQ to be able to communicate with our guests as to why this is so important. We see our role in the B Corp movement not just as a passive participant, but as a leader in proliferating why it’s good business to be in the business of doing good.

How COVID Has Accelerated Customers Controlling Everything

March 9, 2021 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The COVID-19-19 pandemic has accelerated the transformation of emerging consumer behaviors into today’s expectations. 
From mandated social distancing, to working and attending school from home — never before have we seen such a rapid, holistic recalibration of what normal life looks like around the world. Ten years worth of change was jammed into the past 12 months. 
At its core these new expectations center around meeting the customer where they want from every company they interact with. There is perhaps no greater example of this dynamic than in the hospitality and food-service industries.
Related: How Technology Companies Are Converting Challenges Into Opportunities During the Pandemic
1. How they order
Mobile ordering, third-party delivery and curbside pick-up were nascent or non-existent for most hospitality companies at the beginning of 2020. Now these capabilities are table stakes for any business that serves customers in a world where public gatherings of any significance are still widely prohibited. 
Just look at Honeygrow: A fast-casual restaurant specializing in stir-fry and salads. Before COVID-19, delivery service represented roughly 10% of Honeygrow’s revenue. Now it’s closer to 40%. In-store dining was 60% of revenue now it’s barely at 20%. How were they able to shift their operations to meet such drastic swings in consumer behavior? 
I posed that question to Justin Rosenberg, founder and CEO of Honeygrow. According to Justin: Honeygrow has a roster of relentless general managers, as well as a data-driven corporate infrastructure. By leveraging Honegrow’s analytics, his GMs were able to scale the delivery and curbside pick-up business when on-premise dining went away. 
When the world opens back up and people are able to gather in-person again, how much will consumer demand shift back to the pre-pandemic ways? Will curbside pick-up remain as ubiquitous an option three years from now? 
Answer: If it’s better for “me”? Companies better support it. 
2. When and who customers eat with
With more people working from home than ever before, and fewer people venturing out on commutes to their urban-office environments, there has been a noticeable shift in how they choose to eat out.
Back-to-back, all-day Zoom meetings are keeping people tethered to their desks. Which means the “lunch rush” has become a mad dash to the fridge for leftovers. As a result demand for noon food service has significantly declined in the hospitality industries. 
Brett Schulman, the CEO of Cava — which operates fast-casual as well as fine dining locations—confirmed that dinner is the new lunch when I spoke with him in January. In fact, the increase in dinner business has met or exceeded the decline in lunch business at Cava. 
One reason for this consumer behavior shift could be that dinner invites more potential customers than lunch did in the past. With supper comes the whole family. Spouses and kids are part of the order. Not only does this increase order size, it creates opportunities for different food choices or arrangements that were not identified pre-pandemic. For example, Cava has experimented with family-style menu options so that everyone can enjoy the same feast instead of having individual orders. 
What percentage of people who currently work and learn from home will go back to the traditional 5 days commuting to the office or school? Will the lunch rush be back in 6 months to a year? 
Answer: Almost everyone is planning for a hybrid.
Related: Crowded Homes And Empty Stadiums: The Impact On Streaming During The Pandemic 
3. What consumers consider hospitality
Before all thing pandemic, the Fitler Club in Philadelphia was a multi-function “third place” where members could convene, work out, eat, socialize or even hear an inspirational speaker.
Social distancing mandates could have easily destroyed Fitler’s entire business model. But it didn’t. When I spoke with Fitler’s President, Jeff David, a few weeks ago, he credited his leadership team’s decisive action and creative thinking.
For example: To help members stick to their workout routines, Fitler loaned out dumbbells and medicine balls to members as if they were checking out library books. To keep members learning, Fitler went to streaming all of its online lectures. To satisfy demand for relaxation during periods of isolation, Fitler delivered booze to its members’ homes.
Will more people crave a third place once the pandemic subsides? How will health inspections change moving forward? Will laws change to prohibit alcohol delivery once things return to “normal?”
Answer: I want it all and I don’t want to give any of it up.
Now what?
If your business was fortunate enough to adapt and survive the rapid shifts in consumer behavior as a result of this plague? Be proud. But consumers will never be completely satisfied now that they know what’s possible. If you think all these new services are nice to have? Think again. Your customer has baked them into their lifestyle and expect you to deliver.
I’ve coached and interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs over the last year and common themes return again and again. Obsessing over customer behavior data, listening to your customers and experimenting with new ideas. Create a culture of resilient leaders who have the authority and responsibility to make decisions quickly.
Related: How Remote Work Is Becoming a Stable For Small Businesses
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Entrepreneur Franchise of the Day: StretchLab Franchise

AN ANCIENT PRACTICE
StretchLab’s unique and innovative approach to assisted stretching has created a widespread and devoted following across the country. There are no gimmicks and no complicated equipment, just a simple solution for every-body, no matter why they enter our doors. Our one-on-one assisted stretching and truly original group stretches are changing lives. Consumers are seeking more ways to reduce their risk of injury, regain mobility, improve flexibility and range of motion, and reclaim their freedom. Referred to as “the next dominator in the fitness industry” by New York Times, assisted-stretching has gained national attention; StretchLab is now the largest stretching brand in the US with more than 70 locations open.

 

STRETCHLAB FRANCHISE BENEFITS

 
CARING
We deeply care about helping people – bring vitality to your community

GROWTH
Enjoy the first-mover advantage in multi-location ownership in an untapped market

ENERGY
Bring new life to your portfolio with the comfort of our proven structure and support

 
FREEDOM
Enjoy the benefits of our executive model to build something for yourself that is completely scalable for your goals

COMMUNITY
Build a community well beyond your studio walls

 

Why StretchLab?
First Mover Advantage: StretchLab has territorial availability across all major markets – don’t miss the opportunity to own our local market!
Extensive Support: We believe extensive training drives success – from lease negotiation to build out, recruitment to finance, and sales & marketing to sustainable business, you’ll be supported every step of the way!
Executive Model: StretchLab’s turnkey franchise model provides a completely scalable business that lets you determine your own success. It will enable you to leverage significant development costs and national vendor relationships to launch your studio successfully.
Investment: Enjoy our recurring revenue model, exceptional EBITDA margins and the confidence in our team that has more than 25 years of experience in fitness franchising.

 
  WHAT WE LOOK FOR IN A FRANCHISE PARTNER
 
PASSION TO HELP PEOPLE

DRIVEN FOR SUCCESS

MOTIVATING LEADERS

WeWork, Softbank, Victoria 147 and ASEM launch program to accelerate the growth of startups led by women in Mexico

This initiative was born in response to the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had mainly on working women in the region.
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March 9, 2021 4 min read

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

WeWork, in alliance with Softbank, Victoria 147, Endeavor and the Association of Entrepreneurs of Mexico (ASEM), launched the call ” Women for Tomorrow”, which seeks to reduce the gender gap in the business ecosystem of Latin America and generate networks of support that potentiate the success of companies founded and headed by women.
As part of the initiative, WeWork will allocate USD 5M (five million dollars) throughout Latin America and the United States in flexible workspaces, which have Bureau Veritas Biosafety certification , so that startups have a 100% safe and equipped place to work for a year at no cost. In addition, SoftBank, Victoria147 and Endeavor will provide exclusive mentoring to participants, providing them with support and guidance to drive and accelerate their business growth.
This initiative was born in response to the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had mainly on working women in the region. In Latin America, the labor participation rate of women stood at 46% in 2020, while that of men was 69% (in 2019 they reached 52% and 73.6%, respectively), which means a setback of more than a decade in the advancement of equity and labor participation for women in the region, according to ECLAC data.
In Mexico, according to data from the IDB’s COVID-19 Labor Observatory , a 16% loss of female employment is estimated, more than double that of men.
Likewise, shortly before the pandemic, it was projected that if women and men participated equally in the business ecosystem, global GDP could increase by up to 6%, boosting the world economy by as much as $ 5 trillion.

“Mujeres Para El Mañana seeks not only to raise awareness about a critical issue that has largely gone unnoticed during the COVID-19 crisis, but also to drive significant and lasting change for women in the workforce,” said Liliana Mendez, WeWork Director for Mexico City.
“Especially now that the aftermath of the pandemic has adversely affected some of the momentum that women have gained in recent years, it is imperative that society as a whole brings the effort and commitment necessary to create change on a large scale. Together , we must create innovative and rapid solutions to deal with this disturbing trend that has mainly affected women. ”

The program will select more than 60 startups led or founded by women in the region. In Mexico, 10 winning startups will be selected.
Companies and founders who want to apply can review the selection criteria and registration dates, as well as submit their applications on the following website: we.co/mujeresparaelmañana
Registration for companies will begin on March 16, and applications will be accepted until March 31, 2021.

You're Less Likely to Be Happy Once You Start Making More Than This Amount, Studies Say

Money doesn’t make you a more generous person or buy more happiness, according to researchers.
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March 9, 2021 2 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Earning more money doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be more empathetic or considerate, a study published last week by the American Psychological Association (APA) notes. 
In a survey of more than 1.6 million people from 162 countries, researchers from Singapore and the U.S. concluded that, although those with higher incomes were likely to feel more confident and less timid than low-income earners, members of the former group weren’t exactly more loving.
“Having more money doesn’t necessarily make a person more compassionate and grateful, and greater wealth may not contribute to building a more caring and tolerant society,” lead researcher Eddie Tong, an associate professor of psychology at the National University of Singapore, told the APA. 
Related: 20 Secrets to Living a Happier Life
The report further reveals that high earners often had more positive “self-regard emotions,” such as pride and determination. Those with lower incomes, on other hand, experienced the exact opposite, with emotions ranging from sadness to shame.
In essence, having more money appears to have a positive impact on one’s “emotional well-being”  — as Tong pointed out — but there is no consistent link between income level and how people feel about each other. The professor also added that his team’s findings were correlational, making it difficult to prove whether higher income actually leads to positive emotions, or if there is simply a connection between them. 
“Policies aimed at raising the income of the average person and boosting the economy may contribute to emotional well-being for individuals,” he said. “However, it may not necessarily contribute to emotional experiences that are important for communal harmony.”
And despite the fact that there may be some truth behind money’s impact on happiness, at least one 2010 study from Princeton University asserts that more money doesn’t necessarily equate to more happiness — especially once you start making over $75,000. According to the report’s authors, having a high income might positively influence how you feel about your overall life trajectory, but it has little control over how you perceive your day-to-day.

The 8-year-old girl who studies two majors and dreams of being an astronaut

Adhara Pérez is an eight-year-old Mexican girl with an IQ of 162 two points over Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.
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March 9, 2021 4 min read

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

Adhara Pérez is an eight-year-old Mexican girl with an IQ of 162 two points over Alber Einstein and Stephen Hawking. The girl is already studying two university degrees but her path has not been easy.
Adhara dreams of being an astronaut, traveling to space and even colonizing Mars, tells the story collected by Infobae .

Diagnosis
The little girl was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at the age of three, after her mother, Nallely Sánchez, noticed that her daughter behaved differently from other children her age.
Adhara “played with blocks, placing them all in rows, ate in the periquera and always rocked, and could spend hours and hours like that,” according to the interview conducted by Infobae with the girl’s mother.
A year later the doctors detected that the little girl had Asperger’s syndrome, which is included within the autism spectrum and affects reciprocal social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, according to the Asperger Spain Confederation .
People with this condition are characterized by inflexibility of thought, that is, they do not understand metaphors or double meaning.
Unfortunately, this became a problem for Adhara, since in the schools in which she studied she suffered from bullying from her classmates who called her “weird” and from comments from teachers who said that the girl “did not want to” and isolated her.
What actually happened was that the little girl got bored in class. Subsequently, her mother enrolled her in the Talent Service Center (CEDAT) , where they determined that Adhara had an IQ of 162, it is important to note that 130 is already considered a person to be gifted.
Dreams
The little girl studied at CEDAT for a while, but the costs and the economy did not allow her to continue at that institution. Her mother decided that she would study at a distance, this is how the little girl finished primary school at five, secondary school at six and a half, and high school shortly after.
Currently, Adhara is studying two online university degrees, Systems Engineering at CNCI and Industrial Engineering in Mathematics at UNITEC.

Adhara’s biggest dream is to go to the United States to study and become an astronaut. The University of Arizona already knows her, as well as Rice University, which have invited her to study astrophysics. However, her mother knows that it will not be easy in terms of finances but hopes to achieve it and help her daughter become a scientist or an astronaut.
The little girl was accepted to attend the International Air and Space Program (IASP), an event to be held in Alabama, United States, in which she would have the opportunity to learn with aerospace experts, as well as present a project.

What’s “A World Without Email” For The Entrepreneur And Small Businessperson?

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NR Narayana Murthy, the founder of Infosys, one of the world’s largest technology companies, once told me that the key to building a successful organization was to find one thing you do really well and keep doing it well over and over again.  Another leading American tech entrepreneur told me that if I was focused, there was a lot I could get done in 8 hours a day.  And every aspiring entrepreneur has been advised to stay very focused in their early days.
Focus is paramount for building and delivering an excellent product.  But one of the great paradigm shifts over the last decade has been the drastic reduction in the cost of launching and operating a business.  The Founders Institute estimates that with the combination of cloud computing, mobile solutions, crowdfunding and social media, a startup can launch for just $1500 and grow quite large without requiring outside investors or strategic partners.   But bootstrapping through crowdfunding, or marketing through social media requires the opposite of focus.  It requires a constant presence on multiple social media and communications platforms and immediate responsiveness to a large, unorganized community of followers.
How does the entrepreneur stay focused while checking email, Slack or Twitter every six minutes?  
A new book by Dr. Cal Newport, A World Without Email, explores the challenge facing knowledge workers to be productive and focused while facing the daily deluge of emails and external communications requiring their time and attention.  Newport is also the author of Deep Work, a best-selling book that provides a methodology for knowledge workers to maximize their learning, productivity and impact through intense focus and structured processes.  

Gallery: 10 Simple Ways To Have More Productive Meetings In Photos

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In his new book, Newport identifies the problem as the “hyperactive hive mind”, which he defines as “workflow centered around ongoing conversations fueled by unstructured and unscheduled messages”.  In other words, we spend our days responding to email asynchronously – with no particular priority or strategy other than when it popped up in our inbox.  Email and messenger apps allow easy communications between large groups of people, but Newport argues that humans perform most effectively in small groups – an analysis echoed by many leading management thinkers.
Newport then provides several important solutions to the productivity challenges caused by this unstructured, whac-a-mole form of working.  The first is to consider our “attention” as capital, like money or equipment.  Newport believes that in “a world without email”, productivity will improve if knowledge workers can remain focused on adding real value and optimizing their time.  He suggests that organizations develop smart production processes modeled on the manufacturing sector, but adapted for knowledge work.  He also points out that there are new productivity tools, such as online scheduling and project management, that can reduce reliance on email and messages.   An example that resonates is the “ticket” system used by IT departments in large organizations for their tasks, where incoming requests are organized, prioritized and then responded to.    

For knowledge workers in any organization, Newport’s analysis and recommendations will resonate. But are they realistic for small business owners and entrepreneurs?   Most small businesses in America consist only of their owners, and another large segment have only 1-5 full-time employees.  In addition, high growth startups often feature entrepreneurs who “do everything else” so that their initial investment capital can be used to build and pilot their products.    Newport responded that “the property that makes the hyperactive hive mind so detrimental is the need to keep checking inboxes or channels to keep up with unscheduled, back-and-forth messaging. The key to avoiding this harm is to put in place processes that help you get things done without casual, ad hoc messaging. One simple trick is act as if you have two part-time jobs: one working on product/strategy, and one working on administrative work, and assign clearly separated time for each, so the context shifting induced by the latter doesn’t impact the former.”  In other words, entrepreneurs will still have to do everything, but like everyone else, doing it all at once is counterproductive.
I also asked Newport how the entrepreneur can balance the incredible opportunity provided by social media to build their business and compete with larger, well-established brands.  At first glance, social media was deliberately designed to trigger the hyperactive hive mind.  How does one tweet ten times daily and still be productive?  Newport answered that “there’s a difference between running a social media marketing campaign and using social media as a persistent source of diversion and distraction. If you’re running a targeted social media campaign, put aside time to work on it like you would any other project, but outside those sessions I would recommend giving these platforms a wide berth, as they can otherwise fragment your attention fragments too small to be useful.”
Lastly, I asked Newport if the work from home transition caused by the pandemic has started to swing the pendulum the other way.  Are we seeing Zoom meeting fatigue become part of the hyperactive hive mind?  More and more people are saying, “this could have been an email” (instead of a Zoom meeting). 
According to Newport, “remote work certainly intensified the excesses of the hyperactive hive mind work flow, leading a lot more people to realize more clearly that the way we work isn’t working.   What I think is happening with Zoom is that a lot of people are using it as a proxy for productivity. They may be uncomfortable with their ability to keep track of an important project and put aside regular time to make progress all on their own. What they do trust, however, is that if there’s a meeting on their calendar they will attend. So by setting up a standing meeting for a new project, you can gain some reassurance that you have it under control. The problem is that you’ve now taken a lot of time and attention from a lot of people.  Back when we were in offices, when meetings happened in real rooms, and you had to see the resulting people in person, there’s a higher social capital cost to bringing everyone together, so you’re more likely to find other ways to organize your work. Also, a lot of what sometimes happens in these Zooms could instead happen by grabbing someone for 5 minutes after another meeting or in the office hallway.”
For early stage entrepreneurs, the lessons of Deep Work and A World Without Email are particularly important. With limited resources and time, the entrepreneur should embrace all tools that help them remain focused on building their product or service.  One of the insights of Deep Work was that understanding complex problems and building solutions to them requires sustained, intense focus.  The subjects that today’s entrepreneurs grapple with – artificial intelligence, COVID, plant-based protein and others, are complex and intellectually challenging. They should embrace any and all productivity tools that allow them more time to work on their science, innovation or design.   
The question gets a little trickier because of the incredible potential of social media.  Becoming an influencer on social media establishes a unique personal brand, can save millions in marketing costs while bringing in millions in revenue or donations.  Using crowdfunding can be far less expensive than venture capital, and more likely to succeed, as only a small fraction of startups actually get venture capital.  And the size of your audience on Twitter or Instagram has been known to sway investors and attract top talent as well.  But the principles Newport espouses apply here as well.  Over the last decade, marketers and PR professionals have developed social media marketing strategies with similar benchmarks and methodologies to plans used for television and earlier media that don’t require constant attention.  Twitter and Facebook have long allowed users to schedule posts and tweets.  
Newport had another principle that resonated – the specialization principle, which calls for knowledge workers to work on fewer things with more quality and accountability in order to be vastly more productive. As Murthy said, “to do one thing well”.

Elon Musk shares family photo from Starbase

Everything seems to indicate that they were on the land where he plans to build a new city.
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March 9, 2021 2 min read

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

Do you remember baby X Æ A-Xii ? This is how Elon Musk’s little son has grown up and singer Grimes. The Tesla and SpaceX founder shared a photo of his partner and son, which was taken from the Starbase.
In this way, the tycoon gave us a closer look at his personal and family life. Musk tweeted the photo with a message that reads “Starbase, Texas.” Everything seems to indicate that they were on the land where he plans to build a new city.
Image: Elon Musk via Twitter .
The billionaire recently explained that he would build a new city that would occupy an area “much larger” than Boca Chica, which is home to a SpaceX launch site and where the company is building its Starship rocket.
Musk and Grimes made their first public appearance at the 2018 Met Gala. However, they have been very discreet about their relationship. Even when the singer announced her pregnancy, it was not known if it was Musk himself. Subsequently, they caused a stir on social media with the name of their baby.

What to Do If People Laugh at Your Idea

March 9, 2021 9 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
If anyone has ever laughed at your ideas, Alexis Block doesn’t want you to get discouraged. She is the creator of HuggieBot, the first human-sized hugging robot with visual and haptic perception, and she says she had to believe in herself and her idea to get to where she is today. She is a doctoral fellow with the Max Planck ETH Center for Learning Systems and earned her B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics with double minors in Mathematics and Entrepreneurship. She then earned a M.S.E. in Robotics from the University of Pennsylvania. She also co-founded the MPI Athena Group to support women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, robotics, intelligent systems and related fields. Her research has been featured all over the world including in The New York Times and The Late Show with Seth Meyers. She sat down with Jessica Abo to discuss her career path and the importance of being true to yourself.
Jessica Abo: Alexis, tell us, where were you in your studies when you came up with this idea?
Alexis Block: I actually started this project as my master’s thesis in the fall of 2016. I was going through a difficult time emotionally. My father had passed away when I was a freshman and I was still struggling with it, and I really wanted a hug, but a hug from somebody who understood the depth of the emotion I was dealing with and could really support me in the way that I needed it. I wanted a hug from my mom or from my grandmother.
I spoke with my professor and we said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could come up with a way that people could send each other customized hugs so you could receive that comfort from that special loved one no matter the distance between the two of you?” I was so passionate and so excited about this topic that I’ve continued it through to my doctorate, which is what I’m working on finishing up now.
What was the first step you took to actually make this HuggieBot a reality?
First, I started with a commercially available robot called the PR2, which stands for the Personal Robot 2, and it was made by a company called Willow Garage. That company no longer exists, but I gave this robot custom hardware and software upgrades to see if I could make this robot hug and if people would be accepting of that. So, that was my master’s thesis, and I also tested some different parameters like if the robot was soft or warm and how tight and how long the robot would hug a person for. Once I found the optimal parameters, for my doctorate, I decided that there were no commercially available robotic platforms that were really ideal for this kind of close, social, physical human–robot interaction, and I maybe naively thought the best idea was for me to design and build my own robot, which was just so much work, but very, very rewarding.
This is all so fascinating. How does your HuggieBot work?
The first thing that happens when people hug each other is you see someone approaching you and you can tell by their forward movement and how they’re lifting their arms that they want to hug you. You can also easily and very quickly estimate their size and their height. So, that’s the first thing my robot needs to do. With the camera, I’m using an Intel RealSense depth sensing camera located on the top of the robot’s head, I notice an approaching user with their arms out for a hug walking forward and I quickly estimate the user’s height and interpolate that to find the joint angle that the robot should lift its arms to tell how high the robot should hug the person to make sure it’s an appropriate height for them.
Then the robot uses torque sensors at each joint of its arms to grasp a person, similarly to how two kind-of robotic grippers might grasp an object. This way it can adjust to the size and also the location if someone is not hugging directly in the front. If they’re off to the side a little bit, it’ll still make sure to grasp someone very well, firmly, but not too tight. I use torque thresholds to ensure a secure embrace that neither leaves air gaps nor applies excessive pressure to the user’s body. Then I also developed a novel inflatable sensing torso. What’s cool about this is that it kind of serves a dual purpose. It softens the robot while also acting as a sensing system. So I use this to detect contacts that the user makes on the robot’s torso. So this helps tell me when the person begins hugging the robot and when they let go, but it also tells me if the person is performing any actions on the robot, like patting the robot, squeezing it, or rubbing its back.
Then I’ve also developed a behavioral algorithm after I ran a long user study to find out how the robot should respond to these actions. I have a little bit of variety, a little spontaneity to make the robot seem not so robotic but more natural, where the robot will respond to these actions. Typically, when a person squeezes, the robot also squeezes, but occasionally there’s a little variety in what it will do. Then there’s two ways to release. You either let go of the robot or you can lean back against the arms, and both ways the robot will release you.
You were saying earlier that you could personalize the hugs. How does that work?
So, that’s something that I’m still working on. It’s not ready yet, but this was kind of the driving force for all of these years. I’m working on developing a mobile app where you can send customized hugs to another person. You can record a video. So your mom’s face could replace the animated face and she could say, “Oh, I love you so much,” or, “Everything’s going to be okay.” The customizer can also determine how long the hug should last and if the robot should perform any gestures on the person. You’ll get a notification on your phone and you’ll scan a QR code at the robot.
Who has access to your HuggieBot?
Right now, the robot is physically located in Stuttgart, Germany at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems. Right now, I’ve been getting people to come to the institute by just posting in an expat in Stuttgart Facebook Group and saying, “I’m running a user study. If anyone’s interested, please contact me.” We schedule a time, and they come to the institute and get some hugs.
What is next for you and next for HuggieBot?
I want to run a long-term study over maybe three months where people can use this application to send custom hugs, and I want to see if this robot could maybe help strengthen personal relationships that are separated by a physical distance, which is when I originally came up with the idea. I live in Europe and my family lives in the U.S, but now, in the times of COVID, it’s even more relevant than I ever could have imagined.
What advice do you want to give to the aspiring entrepreneurs out there who feel like everyone is laughing at their ideas?
Working on a project that will truly have some kind of lasting effect or impact takes years. When you find an idea for a topic you’re passionate about, you need to be thinking 20 years in the future, not just five. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication over a long time to bring something truly visionary to fruition, so when you first share your idea with people they might laugh and think it’s funny, but it’s just because they can’t see that far into the future. But if it’s something you’re really passionate about and you put in the work for, in time, they’ll catch up with you and your vision.
Take HuggieBot for example. When I started on my project four years ago, even some of my professors laughed at me. Then, three years ago when I was presenting my work at an academic conference, I had someone actually come up to my poster and laugh in my face and tell me “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe you actually spent time to make a hugging robot.” You see, these people could never have imagined a world without social touch.
Flash forward to the Covid pandemic, and unfortunately, people are now realizing just how hard it is to not be able to hug their loved ones. I never envisioned this kind of future, but I saw other applications for this robot, other examples of where people are physically separated by a distance who would benefit from social touch, but that the rest of society didn’t really care about: elderly people in nursing homes, prisoners, college students far away from their families maybe for the first time in their lives. These groups of people face high levels of depression for a number of reasons, but a contributing factor is the lack of social affective touch. Thanks in part to the pandemic, people are now beginning to realize its importance and take my research more seriously. 

Apple to launch a headset with mixed reality headsets in 2022 and augmented reality glasses by 2025.

The company founded by Steve Jobs is developing various augmented, virtual and mixed reality products, including a headset with screens and headphones, glasses and contact lenses.
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March 9, 2021 3 min read

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

If we can rescue something from the pandemic, it is the impetus it has given to technological innovation, accelerating projects that would have taken longer to arrive. According to the prestigious analyst Ming-Chi Kuo , Apple will launch a headset with mixed reality (MR) headphones in 2022, while its augmented reality (AR) glasses would arrive in 2025.
Information about the development of both gadgets has been leaked for some time, but until now there was no date in sight to meet them.
“We predict that Apple’s MR / AR product scheduling plan includes three phases: helmet with hearing aids by 2022, glasses by 2025, and contact lenses by 2030-2040,” Kuo wrote in research with TF International Securities. and disseminated by the MacRumors medium.
“We anticipate that the helmet will provide augmented reality and virtual reality experiences , while glasses and contact lenses are more likely to focus on augmented reality applications,” added the analyst.

This will be Apple’s augmented and mixed reality products
Kuo noted that Apple’s mixed reality headphone prototypes currently weigh between 200 and 300 grams. However, the final weight will be reduced to about 100 or 200 grams, much lighter than other existing virtual reality devices.
Due to their complex design, Kuo expects the headphones to cost about $ 1,000 in the United States, in line with the price of a “high-end iPhone .”
The expert said that the headphones will be equipped with Sony Micro-OLED displays and various optical modules to provide a “transparent augmented reality experience,” adding that the headphones “can also offer a virtual reality experience .” He added that these will be “portable” , with independent computing and storage capacity.
According to Kuo, Apple’s headset will be able to provide a “significantly better immersion experience than existing virtual reality products .”

Kuo: Apple’s Upcoming Mixed Reality Headset to Feature 15 Camera Modules https://t.co/XWBydZOl4y by @julipuli pic.twitter.com/rly07HabhQ
– MacRumors.com (@MacRumors)March 9, 2021

Last month, The Information reported that the helmet will be equipped with more than a dozen cameras to track hand movements. They will also have two ultra-high-resolution 8K displays and advanced eye-tracking technology. Cameras could pass real-world video through the viewfinder and show it to the user.
“We believe that Apple can highly integrate this helmet with video-related applications (eg Apple TV + , Apple Arcade , etc.) as one of the key selling points,” said the outlet.
As for the augmented reality glasses , Kuo expects them to be released in early 2025, and believes that “there is no prototype yet .” He projects that these will be positioned more as a “mobile” product than as a mixed reality viewer.
“While the helmet provides a great immersive experience, the goggles are more focused on delivering a mobile + AR experience ,” he said. The expert hopes that Apple glasses will be integrated with the much-rumored Apple Car , although it will probably be several years before it becomes a reality.
Thinking further ahead, Kuo projects that Apple will launch a “contact lens” sometime after 2030. He said this product will bring gadgets from the era of “visible computing” to “invisible computing ,” but he did not give more details.

With information from MacRumors .