Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Virtual Reality: May the Force Be With You

Growing up, I loved Star Wars. I played the video games, read the Expanded Universe novels, and built my own galaxy through the accumulation of many, many Lego sets. Yet, truly, what I wanted more than anything was to experience Star Wars, to be in that galaxy far, far away. 

Now, as an adult, I may get to do just that. In the midst of Disney’s construction of the Star Wars expansions to its parks, THE VOID’S walk-through virtual reality experience, Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, has opened, offering Star Wars fans a depth of immersion that many, including myself, had previously only dreamed of. THE VOID offers a “hyper-reality” experience that enables players to go on a team mission on the planet of Mustafar. Rather than being stationery, the players move, interact, and experience immersive sensory details, even down to smells and temperature.  

Virtual reality (VR) is not new, but it is becoming increasingly more mainstream. While it is still most commonly found in the entertainment sector, VR has the potential to be tapped for a vast number of applications and we may very well see it play a more prominent role in the legal field. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

“Smart Engagement” – Preventing Highly-Motivated Employees from Burning Out

I recently came across an interesting article in the Harvard Business Review written by Emma Seppala and Julia Moeller: 1 in 5 Highly Engaged Employees Is at Risk of Burnout. As its name suggests, the article discusses the “dark side” of employee engagement—highly engaged employees often suffer high levels of stress, which can lead to employee burnout. But the article also provides a few suggestions of how to foster “smart engagement,” which Seppala and Moeller describe as the kind of engagement “that leads to enthusiasm, motivation, and productivity, without the burnout.” 

In short, to prevent highly-motivated and high-performing employees from becoming burned out and leaving the organization altogether, employers should do more than offer wellness programs focused on healthy eating, exercise, or mindfulness. According to Seppala and Moeller, employers should ensure that the workloads of productive employees or those with a particular skill set are not overburdened and increase the resources available to employees, including intangible resources such as the ability to disengage when not working. 

After reading Seppala and Moeller’s article, ask yourself how your organization can support smart engagement.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Fearless Commerce: A Showcase of Local Black Female Entrepreneurs

With an increase of 322% since 1997, the State of Women-Owned Business Report named Black women as the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States. A recent Nielson Company study, African-American Women: Our Science, Her Magic, further quantifies Black women’s power to influence the economy, media, and politics. Much like most of the country, the Twin Cities local community is rich with minority female entrepreneurs that represent a diversity of industries. 

But despite the impact this group has on the local and national economy, it has struggled to gain visibility and has largely gone unrepresented in entrepreneurial publications. Fearless Commerce seeks to change this. A nationally recognized company co-founded by two local Black female entrepreneurs, Fearless Commerce showcases local Minneapolis-Saint Paul minority women business owners by featuring their stories and highlighting their successes in industries ranging from medicine to architecture to entertainment and fitness. 


The inaugural issue of the Fearless Commerce publication launched in October 2017, and has since continued to foster innovation within the local entrepreneur community and communities of color. Keep an eye out for the next issue, available this spring. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

On the Radio

For this entry I bring you an entrepreneurial antidote with a feel-good vibe.

I’m a fan of all things old school and among them is good old radio, whether it’s pulling up my MLB radio app to catch my beloved Seattle Mariners fail to win (or sometimes even try, it seems) or tuning in an old transistor to some music while burning dinner on the grill.

One thing I like about radio, beyond my own entertainment, is that you can really learn a lot about a place when you turn it on and tune into a regional frequency. Each radio station has its own audience, whether big or small. Even so, radio often caters to the masses, so it is not always the case that each audience has a radio station.

For the melting pot of listeners in my neighborhood of South Minneapolis, that is less so the case thanks to a brand new Low-Power FM (LPFM) radio station, KRSM Southside Media Project (KRSM), which launched in November 2017 and appears to be a community-based entrepreneurial success story in the making.

Friday, January 19, 2018

WOULD YOU SACRIFICE SPEED FOR DATA SECURITY?

You no doubt have read or heard about MELTDOWN and SPECTRE. The bad guys always seem to be plotting and implementing more nefarious ways to disrupt our dependency on technology. This one looks really, really bad!

The microprocessors that are in each and every electronic device—think smartphones, personal computers, laptops, mobile devices, automobiles, home appliances, gaming systems—may be exposed to these newly discovered vulnerabilities. These specific vulnerabilities have likely been around for quite some time but were only recently discovered. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Meredith Willson, “‘But He Doesn’t Know the Territory’: The Making of Meredith Willson’s The Music Man” (University of Minnesota Press, 2009)

With this book review, I risk stepping on the toes of another entreView blogger whose efforts tend to circle back frequently to topics relating to musical theatre, so it’s a good thing that he was the one who suggested that I read Meredith Willson’s “‘But He Doesn’t Know the Territory.’”

Let’s be clear from the start: I am no aficionado of musicals, certainly not on the scale exhibited by my co-blogger (who is known to maintain a database of the over 600 unique musicals he has seen), but I do enjoy a few. Chief among these is the show that is the subject of this book. Chalk it up to my Irish imagination and library full of books (though, alas, no Iowa stubbornness). 

The salient point I drew from this book was how much work went into writing, financing, and producing this show, most of it done on the side while Mr. Willson was pursuing a livelihood elsewhere, although you would be hard-pressed to say how he earned his living during this period. His regular employment does not figure prominently in this narrative. In fact, little is said about his day job, which is entirely appropriate for a book about his personal passion for developing a musical harkening back to his Iowa upbringing during the early years of the 20th century. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

You May Want to Hang on to that Day Job . . .

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s the start of a new year. For many, that means executing on New Year’s resolutions. Do your resolutions include ditching your day job and throwing yourself headfirst into an entrepreneurial venture? Well, as summarized in this article, according to recent research out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Go Badgers!), you may want to hold that thought.

While completing their graduate studies at the Wisconsin School of Business, Joseph Raffiee (MBA ’10 and Ph.D. ’16) and Jie Feng (Ph.D. ’15), now assistant professors at USC’s Marshall School of Business and Rutgers University, respectively, conducted research comparing the tendencies of “hybrid entrepreneurs,” or those who adhere to a risk-aversion theory, with people who take more of the traditional approach to entrepreneurship, i.e., diving in. 

As it turns out, the story of the tortoise and the hare plays itself out in entrepreneurship—they found that hybrid entrepreneurs who wait to quit their day jobs until their new businesses show clear potential are 33% less likely to fail than those who take the more traditional approach. Their research was supported by examples from both small businesses and large corporations, including eBay and Nike. One of their key takeaways was that this is good news for people who might want to be entrepreneurs but fear they don’t have the risk-taking mentality to succeed. As the tortoise and the hare taught us, slow and steady wins the race!