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Friday, October 31, 2014

PERSONAL SPECIAL ................. How to Create a Game Plan for Your Goals

How to Create a Game Plan for Your Goals

We all have objectives we want to hit. This includes our personal goals and our goals for our companies. Unfortunately, most of us never draw up a roadmap for how we are going to reach our targets. When we look at why this is, it usually comes from being overly ambitious. We think we can just change everything at once, so we don't need a step-by-step game plan. This is often why we don't succeed. Changing your complete way of life is tough, and doing it all at once is a sure road to failure. Instead, try this approach:

Step 1: Have an enormous goal but break it down into one habit to start.
Whenever New Year's resolutions come around, I always hear a majority of my friends say they are going to get in shape. They begin by listing all the poor habits they have, and then decide to do a complete makeover. Within a week, they go back to their old habits.
This is because they have a goal but never broke it down. You need challenging goals that you want to achieve. They should be big and ambitious. The problem comes with the next step. You should not try to change your complete way of life, but instead home in on one habit to start. Why? Because changing one part of your life is much easier then trying to do a 180-degree change in a day. Going back to our get-in-shape example, let's take two scenarios. The first is the most common, in which we change five or six habits at once and then after a week go back to our old ways. The second scenario is that we just focus on running every day for 30 minutes. The second scenario has a much higher chance of success, and it will allow you to begin the process of getting to that giant goal.

Step 2: Master that one habit.
Once you decide on the one habit that will help you start moving toward your goal, make sure you do it every day. According to scientists, it takes 66 days to turn an action into a habit. Do whatever it takes to get to those 66 days. An easy way to do this is to add your habit in your calendar. Let your family and friends know that for the next two months you'll be practicing this action religiously.
Jay Papasan, a co-author of The One Thing, advises making use of time blocks. Block a certain point every day to make sure this habit is done. Over time, your colleagues and loved ones will learn to adjust to your new schedule. This step is the hardest part to reaching your goal, but as you get closer to the 66th day, it'll start to become much easier.

Step 3: Once mastered, add another habit.
When you've mastered your first habit, the hard work is over. Now you can start to add more routines in your life that will get you closer to your goal. Remember to still stay with one action at a time. Our bodies will be overloaded if we try to take on too many changes at once. Also make sure that you keep the same focus on each new habit you learn. Humans are not built for multitasking, and trying to work on a change while checking your email or texting won't work.
Over time, you'll find that adding more changes to your life will become much easier. As with most things, the first time is the hardest. Eventually, your body becomes programmed to adapt to these changes. This will allow you to make transitions more smoothly. As you build up these habits, your goal will start to get much closer. If I mastered running for 30 minutes, that's a good start. After 66 days, let's say I start to master eating healthy six days a week. Once that's complete, I move to mastering weight training. As long as I keep going habit by habit, I will reach my goal of getting in shape. By the time I get to my next New Year's, getting in shape won't be a goal but instead an accomplishment.



Famed for its music and steeped in history, Vienna has a lot to offer a culture-hungry traveller. But the city that gave the world Mozart and Klimt is as much with the present as it is the past, with chic boutiques, modern architecture and a cool culinary scene – all excellent reasons, says local writer Diane Naar-Elphee, to extend your next business trip in the Austrian capital

Klimt Villa

Gustav Klimt’s most iconic artwork, The Kiss, may attract millions of visitors every year, but his studio and last abode is off the tourist track. Thisbeautiful villa, where he created some of his most important art nouveau canvasses and spent the last years of his life, offers a fascinating insight into his genius. Just jump on tram 58 from Westbahnhof to Verbindungsbahn. 

Grand designs

For a look at what contemporary architecture has in store for the city, visit the futuristic, state-of-the-art campus at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. This is a vibrant site, composed of five stunning departments, which has a Zaha Hadid-designed library as its dramatic and striking centrepiece. 

Christmas spirit

In the run-up to the festive season, you can’t leave Vienna without visiting one of its Christkindlmarkts (Christmas markets), which open from mid-November. The glitziest and kitschiest is in front of the Rathausplatz, which has more than 150 stalls brimming with sweets, baubles, toys and trinkets – it also boasts the biggest Christmas tree in town. 

A night at the opera

While the tourist throngs scramble for tickets at the Vienna State Opera, make a beeline for the lesser-known and intimate neoclassical Theater an der Wien – where Beethoven once served as ‘composer in residence’ and where Fidelio premiered in 1805.

Local bites

For an affordable local lunch in a homely setting, book a table at Flosz Gasthaus. The chef uses organic produce from regional suppliers to create a seasonal menu that could include anything from risotto with chanterelles to wiener schnitzel. A three-course lunch is a steal at €10.90.

Shopping spree

The best place for shopping is between Kirchengasse and Josefst√§dter Strasse, within the Bohemian seventh and eighth districts. Or discover local talent on Lindengasse – the heart of the Neubau creative district – at the boutiques of Austrian designers such as Tiberius or Elke Freytag.

A view to thrill

If it’s a clear day, take the elevator into the baroque cupola of Karlskirche (St Charles) then climb the 40 or so steps into the rooftop lantern. Prefer your view with a drink? The Sofitel has a top-floor bar with floor-to-ceiling windows, providing one of the best views of the city. Arrive early, or you may have to queue to get in.

Grape expectations

Coffee houses may be an institution in Vienna, but there’s also a strong wine culture – some vineyards are even within the city limits. Nussberg, one of the hills of the northern Vienna Woods, is just 40 minutes outside the city. A vintage from the area, Gemischter Satz, has recently experienced a revival. Fancy a glass of the best? Head to Die Winzerei for a tasting.




In a world of rapid change and great uncertainty, the greatest competitive advantage of all may be at your very core.


"Purpose is at the essence of why firms exist," says Hirotaka Takeuchi, a management professor at Harvard Business School. "There is nothing mushy about it--it is pure strategy. Purpose is very idealistic, but at the same time very practical."
Takeuchi is not the boldest-faced name at Harvard--yet. But his research offers a compelling model for mission-based business culture. Takeuchi espouses what he calls an "inside-out approach" to business strategy. With a more traditional "outside-in approach," he says, you begin by assessing the outside environment, the state of the industry and the competitive field, in order to determine the most advantageous positioning for your company. Business schools have been stressing this approach for years, but Takeuchi believes it is too narrow.
At a company built on an inside-out strategy, he explains, "the beliefs and ideals of management become the core. Why does the firm exist?" The research Takeuchi has done with Ikujiro Nonaka at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo shows that the key differentiator between enterprises is how they envision their futures. "A very bland mission doesn't resonate," he explains. A dynamic, long-term plan requires a mission that's clear, focused, and invaluable: "Look at what Walt Disney wanted: 'to create timeless, universal family entertainment,'" Takeuchi continues. "If you have those five words, there's no doubt in the mind of employees or anyone else what you're about."
This might sound touchy-feely to business leaders trained to prefer quantifiable metrics like sales growth and operating margin. Takeuchi doesn't care. "Consultants argue that strategy comes from big data," he says, "but it really comes from the heart." You can hear the cynics groan. But what if Takeuchi is right? What if an inside-out strategy creates more creative, resilient companies than those following the old outside-in approach?


BOSS SPECIAL................................ 7 Qualities of Remarkably Well-Liked Leaders

7 Qualities of Remarkably Well-Liked Leaders

I've had my share f leadership challenges over the years.
I'll never forget the time an employee who I called into work brought in the balloons she was tying up for her son's birthday party and decided to start throwing them on the floor of my office. It was a total meltdown. I should have asked a bit more about what she was doing instead of demanding that she come into work. (In my own defense: She probably could have offered up that information on her own.)
I was never a hated a boss, but there were times when my decisions led to employees disagreeing with me, arguing with me, and challenging my thinking.

Iwish I had known how to deal with those challenges, but in many ways I just didn't develop these qualities. In recent years, I've met with many company founders and leaders in business, carefully noting what makes them so likeable. Here's what I've found out.

1. They ask detailed questions.

In my example of the employee who came into work and had a big fit, I didn't ask questions about why she wasn't available. Good leaders know how to do that. Before making a command or directing the work force, a good leader asks for more information. That kind of leader is easy to like because we all like passing on information and no one likes dealing with a tyrant who just tells us what to do.

2. They empathize.

One of my challenges as an introvert leader had to do with a failure to empathize. I've seen how a friend of mine runs his own business by always asking how people are feeling. How was your evening with the kids? Are you feeling OK about this project? What can I do to make your job easier and not so stressful? He asks about their personal life. Good leaders see employees as people. That creates a chain reaction as employees recognize that you also have feelings. They will empathize (and like) you.

3. They are curious to learn new skills.

A CEO I met in San Francisco once had this skill in spades--and every other card-playing suit. He just seemed curious about everything, and it was obviously contagious since his staff had the same thirst for knowledge. When a leader has this skill, it means they are open to anything--including criticism, feedback, and ideas from employees. It makes the leader well liked because he isn't a closed book no one can read.

4. They enjoy life.

Leadership by anxiety doesn't work. The best leaders I've met in business always seem to think life is just a big old joy ride and nothing ever fazed them. They don't get that stressed-out about projects or money. It makes them likeable because everyone around them realizes they can be part of that kind of outlook and learn how to have the same attitude. They can join you on the joy ride.

5. They listen.

Talk, talk, talk. Gab, gab, gab. Bad leaders always have something to say and they force employees to hear it. Good leaders want to hear what employees have to say and they are always ready to set down a task and give up their time to listen. We all like to share opinions, but when it is the boss and she actually listens, it creates a feeling of good will. We like people who listen to us. (Just make sure you also respond.)

6. They act.

Being well-liked as a leader does involve listening, communicating, and empathizing. But it also means acting on what you've learned. If the boss just sits back and listens but doesn't do anything about it or doesn't take the time to investigate the issue, we tend to think she doesn't really understand the problem or care enough to do anything about it. Suddenly, when you act on that knowledge, those around you will think you actually care enough to do something.

7. They work hard.

Here's how to really get on the good side of your employees. No one likes a tyrant, but employees really hate leaders who just sit around and watch them work. Want to be more likeable as a leader? Work hard as an example to everyone. Your employees will see you as an ally, someone who is part of the team and not just the commander.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

PERSONAL SPECIAL....................... My first year at work: Bhavish Aggarwal, Co-founder and CEO (Olacabs)

My first year at work: Bhavish Aggarwal, Co-founder and CEO (Olacabs)

The brief I was given and what I did in the first 100 days at work.

I was part of the Microsoft research team. After a basic introduction to MSR and what they do, I was asked to identify a problem statement I would like to solve. I then went about figuring out how to do it.

The best leadership lesson I learnt

I Learnt early that always being analytical is important for a business. Being analytical as an attitude is more important than just having the aptitude.
How I managed my work-life balance

That wasn't too much of a focus area then since it was my first job. Learning was priority and that is all I focused on. 

My biggest innovation
I was part a project that helped optimise battery life on mobile phones. This was very exciting, since battery life was key to smartphones. It was implemented in the new version of the Windows mobile phone in 2010. 
The worst mistake I made
Nothing I can think of. 
The best friend I made on the job
My manager, who is also an angel investor at Ola. 
How I had fun at work

I got to travel a lot and meet amazing people. That was a lot of fun.

By Sreeradha D Basu, ET 23 Oct, 2014

HEALTH / FOOD SPECIAL ,,,,Health Benefits of Dates – Promoting Heart, Brain, and Digestive Health

  • Health Benefits of Dates – Promoting 
  • Heart, Brain, and Digestive Health

  • Nutritional Content of Dates

    If you’re looking for fiber, potassium, or copper, look no further than dates. While dates are rich in many vital nutrients and therefore offer many health benefits, the fruit is so small that you’ll need to consume a larger quantity to intake the necessary amount.
    The following nutritional data outlines some of the key nutrients found in dates, and is based on a 100g serving of the fruit.
     – 6.7 grams. 27% RDA.

  • Potassium – 696 milligrams. 20% RDA.
  • Copper – 0.4 milligrams. 18% RDA.
  • Manganese – 0.3 milligrams. 15% RDA.
  • Magnesium – 54 milligrams. 14% RDA.
  • Vitamin B6 – 0.2 milligrams. 12% RDA.
Note: Dates are high in sugar content – coming in at a whopping 66.5 grams per 100 gram serving of the fruit. It is recommended to lessen sugar consumption as much as possible, even when the sugar is being consumed from fruit.
Check out the USDA Nutrient Database for a full nutritional profile of dates.

The Known Health Benefits of Dates – What the Date Fruit Has to Offer

Dates aren’t exactly a nutritional powerhouse when compared to some other foods like kiwi or sesame seeds, but the fruit does still offer numerous health benefits along with great taste. Here are some health benefits of dates.
  • 1. Promoting Digestive Health, Relieving Constipation – Fiber is essential for promoting colon health and making for regular bowel movements. The insoluble and soluble fiber found in dates help to clean out the gastrointestinal system, allowing the colon to work at greater levels of efficiency. Some other benefits relating to fiber and colon health are reduced risks of colitis, colon cancer, and hemorrhoids. (Dates could even be coupled with other home remedies for hemorrhoids.)
  • 3. Anti-Inflammatory – Dates are rich in magnesium – a mineral known for its anti-inflammatory benefits. One study found that “inflammatory indicators in the body such as CRP (C-reactive protein), TNF (tumor necrosis factor alpha), and IL6 (interleukin 6) were all reduced when magnesium intake was increased.” Further, inflammation in the arterial walls was also reduced with magnesium intake. Based on magnesium’s anti-inflammatory properties and the findings of this study, magnesium can effectively reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and other inflammation-related health ailments.
  • 4. Reduced Blood Pressure – Magnesium has been shown to help lower blood pressure – and again, dates are full of the mineral. Additionally, potassium is another mineral in dates that has several functions within the body, aiding with the proper workings of the heart and helping to reduce blood pressure.
  • 5. Reduced Stroke Risk – After evaluating 7 studies published over a 14 year time period, researchers found stroke risk was reduced by 9% for every every 100 milligrams of magnesium a person consumes per day. The research can be found in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
  • 6. A Healthy Pregnancy and Delivery – Further adding to the health benefits of dates, one study performed by researchers at the University of Science and Technology set out to discover how the date fruit impacted labor parameters and delivery outcomes. After studying 69 women for a year and 1 month, the researchers found that “the consumption of date fruit in the last 4 weeks before labour significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labour, and produced a more favourable, but non-significant, delivery outcome. The results warrant a randomised controlled trial.”
  • 7. Boosting Brain Health – Some studies, such as one found in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that sufficient vitamin B6 levels are associated with improved brain performance and better test scores.

A Summary of Dates Health Benefits: Dates are Great for:

  • Weight loss
  • Relieving constipation, supporting regular bowel movements
  • Promoting heart health, reducing heart disease risk
  • Diarrhea
  • Iron-deficiency anemia
  • Reducing blood pressure
  • Impotence
  • Promoting respiratory and digestive health
  • Pregnancy deliveries
  • Hemorrhoid prevention
  • Chronic conditions such as arthritis
  • Reducing colitis risk
  • Preventing colon cancer

by Mike Barrett



In a world of rapid change and great uncertainty, the greatest competitive advantage of all may be at your very core.


Backstage in Romania, Jared Leto has a few spare minutes--not to talk about acting, which earned him an Oscar for his role in Dallas Buyers Club, or singing, which has brought him an international fan base as lead singer of his band, Thirty Seconds to Mars, despite the early bashings of critics. Leto wants to talk about Leto Inc. The enterprise starts with the band, a demanding venture: It performed in Hungary two days earlier, with several other European countries ahead, then on to the U.S., Canada, most of South America, and South Africa before the tour ends. "It could last a year," Leto says, and that wouldn't be its longest road trip ever. The group is recognized in the Guinness World Records for a marathon 309-show tour that started in 2009 and ended in 2011.
This isn't enough to satiate Leto. What he really wants to do is reengineer the business of being a performer. He uses social media to connect with some 2 million Twitter followers who buy Thirty Seconds to Mars products and attend special-access events. He has directed an award-winning documentary about his battles with a former music label. More impressively, he's got a team of coders working for him in Silicon Valley on Vyrt, a real-time streaming video platform that combines merchandise sales, fan management and social engagement, and he's an active investor in startups includingNest, Blue Bottle Coffee, and mobile-payments platform Stripe.
So is he a musician, an actor, a director, or an entrepreneur? "I'm a multi-hyphenate whatever," Leto says. "I'm a creative and an artist. I make and share things with the world that hopefully add to the quality of people's lives." His entrepreneurship "comes from the same place. I don't compartmentalize," he says. "My work is never a job. My work is my life. If you work your fucking ass off, you can get a lot done."
Not many of us will ever find ourselves shirtless before thousands of Romanians screaming our name, as Leto does later that evening. But his attitude is one that we can embrace. Leto channels his creative passion into business, and more and more evidence suggests that this is the key to creating a meaningful career.
In this age of flux, people's sense of connection with their workplace has been declining. Last year, Gallup came out with a detailed study of workers across U.S. businesses. In all industries and all age groups, engagement was pitifully low. "The vast majority of U.S. workers (70%) are not reaching their full potential," the report concluded. Yet in those pockets where passion for the job flourished, productivity, levels of customer service, and profitability were all higher than average. "Companies with engaged workforces have higher earnings per share," the report stated. Perhaps most important (and surprising) of all: "Engagement has a greater impact on performance than corporate policies and perks."
"There has always been a psychological contract between workers and corporations, often unconscious," says motivation expert Marcelo Cardoso of Brazilian health care company Grupo Fleury, who has studied employee engagement across cultures. He notes that the demise of loyalty-based contracts (job security in exchange for commitment to the organization) has resulted in a more transactional relationship between worker and company: bonuses, stock options, and other compensation bind the two together. "But as the level of complexity [in business] is increasing, these types of contracts are no longer satisfying and effective for individuals," Cardoso says.
A more effective contract, he says, meshes an individual's sense of purpose with that of the company. The Gallup report notes that millennials, gen-Xers, and baby boomers consider "mission and purpose" a valuable motivator. Other studies reinforce this idea that unlocking "psychic energy," as Cardoso describes it, is less tightly tied to financial compensation, as economists had assumed. As Daniel Pink eloquently explained in the book Drive, higher pay leads to better performance only for routine, repeatable tasks; for higher cognitive efforts and creative tasks, maximizing rewards actually hurts performance.
Jennifer Aaker at Stanford University has taken this idea even further. She challenges the very notion that a pursuit of happiness is what drives us most. Her work suggests that people's satisfaction with life is higher, and of greater duration, when meaning--rather than happiness--is their primary motivation. For other professors, such as Wharton's Adam Grant, this is the difference between a life focused on "giving" rather than "taking," a difference that they believe increases productivity as well as satisfaction.
We should, of course, stop for a moment to acknowledge that choosing a career built around meaning is not a choice available to billions of people who are desperately struggling just to make enough money to find shelter and put food on the table. That is often the only "mission" that matters. But for those who have been fortunate enough to look beyond their basic needs, the motivation to do more, create more, and, yes, give more to the world--whether that is burritos or iPhones--arises directly from the personal meaning we derive from those activities. That is the way humans operate. We are not drones whose only goal is to make more money. Keeping passion out of the workplace makes no sense at all.


GADGET GIZMO SPECIAL........................ Now, iPhone 6 and Samsung Note 4 fans have a lot to fight over

GADGET GIZMO SPECIAL Now, iPhone 6 and Samsung Note 4 fans have a lot to fight over

It was 11:50 at night, with hints of winter in the air already apparent. Even though the midnight hour was approaching, it seemed a human population bomb had just exploded at M Block market, Greater Kailash 1, Delhi.

Completely grid-locked, car horns blaring, people teeming on both sides of the streets, laser light shows, bhangra drums playing, Red Bull cans being handed out for free, people dancing, huge lines of people patiently waiting, street magicians performing and a countdown timer loudly displaying minutes to go.

No, this wasn’t some psychedelic over-saturated dream of my tired mind – this was real. This was Apple starting the midnight frenzy sale of its iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in India.

Just hours earlier, I had returned from an event where bloggers from all across the country had converged and had gone through some very interesting experiments in making their own movie, featuring themselves and a phone as the main stars.

They had professional cameras, special-effects machines, jib-mounted optics, an army of editors and even people helping them script their own story and lines.

The event had been beamed live across the country and Samsung had left no stone unturned to make sure that the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 made news everywhere.

The battle of the giants had resumed and Samsung and Apple were leaving nothing to chance.

For each, the product being launched was their super-flagship top-of-the-line phone and was also what would bring them their biggest chunk of revenue for the next one year.

Failure was not an option and any weakness in sales or perception by customers would sound the death knell.

And yet, within all this, a silent new battle had emerged, a battle that didn’t exist last year.

By bringing out a large-screen device, Apple has unwittingly acknowledged that Samsung was on to a good thing with its Note series.

In the last two years, the hottest category of smartphones has been the phablet. Samsung had literally invented this category while Apple was here in the hope to redefine it.

Has Samsung done enough with the Note 4 to maintain superiority, or has Apple reinvented the category with the 6 Plus?

Form factor
Nobody buys an ugly phone anymore and Samsung has finally realised that. The Note 4 feels solid due to a metal frame, has classy accents and a soft back and is super thin at .33 inches.

The iPhone 6 Plus has all the curves you need, is almost all metal and it’s even thinner at .28 inches. But most people will buy a case for the iPhone 6 due to its infamous bendgate stories.

The Note 4 display (2560x1440; 518PPI) leaves the 6 Plus (1920x1080; 401PPI) in the dust on paper but in real life the difference isn’t so apparent.

The Note 4 screen is bigger yet the phone is smaller and has a much narrower bezel. Once you open a web page or read an ebook, the screen is better. More colour and pop too.

The Note 4 is a beast of a device with a Qualcomm Snapdra RAM
The iPhone 6 has a 64-bit A8 processor with 1GB RAM. Do remember though that iOS and Android have different needs to run at full efficiency.

The other major difference is that the Note 4 has an expandable storage slot to take the 32GB memory up by another 128GB. No such luck on the 6 Plus.

Special features
The Note 4 has added a lot of innovation from its Note 3 avatar. True PC-style multitasking, the use of the S pen as a scissor and a mouse and a pressure-sensitive calligraphy pen, plus it has a heart-rate sensor too.

iPhone 6 has quite a few things like Apple Pay, landscape orientation and a few other things, but nothing that uses the extra screen real estate any differently from previous, smaller screen iPhones.

Battery life
iPhone 6 starts off well here to take care of its notorious reputation with poor battery life by packing in 2915mAh of power.

The Note 4 packs in some more with 3220mAh and then goes one step further by adding in a new feature where you can charge your phone 50 per cent in a flat 30 minutes.

The camera
Despite having fewer megapixels, the iPhone has always had one of the best cameras.

That legacy continues and is enhanced with some more video tricks too as it can now do time-lapse movies and slow motion. The Note 4 comes with a 16 megapixel camera, a wide selfie mode that really works and can also shoot 4k video.

The Note 4 comes in at a steep Rs. 58,500 for the 32GB model but starts to look good when you consider that the iPhone 6 Plus 16GB is priced at about Rs. 62,500.
So, it would seem that the Note 4 is way superior and gives more bang for the buck.

But, in real life, that’s not how it works. To those invested in iOS and to all those who didn’t want an iPhone as the screen was too small, the 6 Plus is manna from heaven.

There is also a third category the Plus will now attract. Many iOS users may not need an iPad: the iPhone 6 Plus with its gigantic screen is as good as an iPad Mini.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

Wednesday, October 29, 2014






Three days after an entrepreneur named TD Lowe arrived in Silicon Valley from Phenix City, Alabama, she approached a well-known venture capitalist at a networking event. Lowe had watched the bigwig politely interact with several men who approached him, but when it was her turn she had a very different experience. Before she could even say her name, he looked her up and down and said, “You’ll never make the connections here you need to be successful; you need to get a job.” She walked away shaking with anger. Her takeaway: Silicon Valley is not a friendly place for women. That experience led Lowe to a Menlo Park accelerator calledWomen’s Startup Lab, which helps female entrepreneurs navigate the often-hostile startup world. Despite that early disheartening encounter, Lowe now owns a company, EnovationNation, that connects people with ideas to those who can make them a reality, and the help and encouragement she got from Women’s Startup Labis part of the reason.
Much has been written about the harassment, condescension, and other sexist behavior that remains dismayingly common in Silicon Valley. Some women are trying to change that culture from within. But others are finding a different solution: ditching men altogether to create their own female-only startup support systems. A female entrepreneur can now launch a company, raise money, fill a board of advisors, and strike it rich without ever dealing with men. This female-oriented infrastructure includes incubators like Women 2.0SheEO, and Google’s 1871 FEMtech; venture and angel funds such as Golden SeedsBelle Capital USA, andTexas Women Ventures; and mentoring programs started by big names such as Tory Burch and Arianna Huffington. “You can’t really change the existing reality,” says Vicki Saunders, a serial entrepreneur and founder of the female accelerator SheEO. “You need to create a new reality to make the old one obsolete. You have to demonstrate another way that works.”
Many of the women who started these groups can name the moment when they realized how unfriendly Silicon Valley could be toward them. For Natalia Oberti Noguera, founder and CEO of Pipeline Fellowship (which has turned more than 80 women into angel investors), it was during an investor meeting when man after man took turns saying things like, “My girlfriend and her friends think we should consider such and such.” As one of only two women in the room, she wondered why more weren’t there to speak for themselves. Others just grew weary of the bro culture that pervades so many startups. “There was a constant conflict about when to play along and when to push back [at her previous job], and that gets tiring,” saysVanessa Dawson, founder of a networking group called Girls Raising that helps founders pitch their ideas and secure funding. “I am so sick of trying to conform to the way things are being done.”
In the past, women have tried to overcome these challenges with boycotts (After the Facebook IPO, some women protested its lack of female board members), lawsuits, and discussions of how women can better fit into the male world. The idea has always been to change Silicon Valley culture, or at least teach women how to better cope with it. But more and more women now believe that fighting the system is futile, and the only effective way to get women on equal footing is to create a new game just for them. “I would rather create a space or an environment or a community where women can be innovative, raise funds, and operate on their own terms,” says Dawson.
Oberti Noguera says the only way to get more women involved (and funded) is to let the females take the lead. “People support people who look like them and are familiar,” she says. But there are some differences. For one thing, these groups offer something that men can’t: empathy. Participants in SheEO, for example, start the program by sitting in a circle and passing the Kleenex box. Some women need to “get their own shit out of the way,” says Saunders, before appearing bold and ambitious in public. Guys, on the other hand, tend to “just fake it.” They also teach participants how to eschew the traditional system and play to their strengths. Women are clearly at a disadvantage with VC funding. Just one in eight companies that raised venture financing in the first half of 2014 has a female founder or cofounder, according to Dow Jones VentureSource. So Saunders tells SheEO founders to forget about VCs. Go crowdsourcing, where the neighborhood is friendlier. (A study published by academics at New York University and University of Pennsylvania in July found that 65% of tech projects started by women get funded on Kickstarter, while only 30% of men’s do.) “There are millions of people out there,” she says. “It’s such an old model of scarcity to think there are only 17 VCs who can fund me. We need to find what works for us and do it.”
The groups also possess pools of money earmarked for women-led ventures. SheEO is launching a campaign in the fall to get a million women and men to contribute $1,000 each to create a $1 billion pool of capital. And Girls Raising is working to create a $10 million seed fund. Money is the most important item women can provide each other, says Kelly Hoey, one of the founders of the accelerator Women In Motion. Women should be saying, “Thanks for the re-tweet. Now where’s the check?”
These women don’t bash men or even necessarily want to be separated from them. “I want to include men,” said Dawson. “I envision our community being 50/50. Men are integral to the whole conversation, and they need to be worked in as well. But when there isn’t diversity in a system, you have to help out the community that isn’t being equally represented.”
For some women, the ultimate goal of this movement is to make it obsolete. The hope is that things will progress to the point where they don’t need to exclude men from their ventures. In some cases, that’s already starting to happen. Astia, a group that funds female entrepreneurs, now has seven male angels on its investing team, including Larry Bettino, managing partner at StarVest Partners, and Adam Quinton, CEO of Lucas Point Ventures. And Saunders is considering adding men to her accelerator because so many male founders have inquired about getting involved. Why are they interested? Often, she says, “it’s fathers showing up because they have daughters.”
Ideally, things will change as awareness increases and people learn how hurtful their actions can be. It will take time, but Saunders, for one, is optimistic. “We have to start modeling behaviors,” she says. “A lot of people think [the current hostility toward women] is the way it has to be, but I think there are so many people out there who would like to see a different world than the one they created. We made all this up, and we can change it.”



At any party, there’s always one person who can make other people laugh, seemingly without effort. Maybe she's the master of interesting banter or the silent type, who suddenly fires off a perfectly timed comeback. In the presence of such a person, it’s natural to wonder: why can’t I be that witty? Perhaps you can. Elements of Wit: Mastering the Art of Being Interesting by Canadian journalist Benjamin Errett is a kind of how-to guide for those of us who would like our mots to be a little more bon.
The Oxford American Dictionary defines wit as, “mental sharpness and inventiveness; keen intelligence.” But what does that really mean? Smart people can be boring. And funny people can be dumb. Nor is wit synonymous with humor. “Christopher Hitchens is very witty but he’ll rarely make you laugh out loud,” says Errett. Meanwhile, “Tom Stoppard is a deep wit, but Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead is pretty bleak.”
To Errett, wit is a form of “spontaneous creativity.” It’s saying the perfect thing at the perfect time and in a manner that both surprises and delights the people who are listening. And it’s not just the realm of the Victorian drawing room. “Rap is a great example of wit,” says Errett. “The spontaneous word play. The twists and turns of phrases.” Whether you’re in the elevator with an acquaintance or trying to impress your boss at a board meeting, “You want to make people glad that you opened your mouth.” The question is: how?


The first order of business, according to Errett, is to consume “a good diet of high quality witty material.” The more you read, hear and watch, the better primed your brain will be to produce its own witty thoughts. Errett recommends the essays of Christopher Hitchens, the poetry of Ogden Nash, and the plays of Tom Stoppard. “Everything that Louis C.K. has ever done,” he says. Listen closely to the word play of Jay Z and read books by Nora Ephron. It’s also helpful to remember that even the greatest wits--Churchill and Wilde--weren’t just naturally and effortlessly creative when it came to repartee. “They were repurposing a lot of great lines that they’d read, and heard and come up with themselves,” explains Errett. They weren’t exactly stealing the wit of others, but like many artists, they learned to put their own twist on the material they’d gathered. “Time and effort went into making sure that their lines appeared to be of the moment,” Errett says.


Of course, there’s a right and a wrong way to repurpose. Jay Z carried a notebook of rhymes with him to open mics until he became familiar enough with the material--and confident enough--to deploy it without a cheat sheet. But merely having witty lines on the tip of your tongue doesn’t make you witty. “Wit is not quoting Onion headlines or The Simpsons,” says Errett. “Monty Python is brilliant,” he adds, “But references to their sketches that aren’t specifically relevant to the conversation, can easily take people out of the moment.” And speaking of the moment--remember that wit is about spontaneity. Errett points to a great example from the British Office, in which Ricky Gervais’s co-workers stand around awkwardly while he attempts to think up dessert puns to describe Gareth’s stapler in jelly. It’s a classic example of attempted wit gone utterly wrong.


Nora Ephron said that “all life is copy,” and in her novel Heartburn, “she took the events that happened to her--like her divorce--and turned them into material,” explains Errett. But in order for biography to function as wit fodder, you’ve got to pay close attention to the events and experiences of your daily life, even when they seem incredibly mundane. You may not consider a coffee break or a car ride with friends as having the optimal conditions for wit. But as long as you’ve been paying close attention to the conversation, there are always opportunities to riff. A great example of this is “the call back,” when someone makes reference to a point made an hour earlier, but does so in relation to a new topic. “The call back works because it shows you were in the moment and you were interested,” says Errett. “You weren’t thinking about the phone in your pocket or what you’re going to have for lunch.” The tools and tricks you’ve learned from studying the great wits are useless without fresh material to sculpt.


In Hamlet, just before Polonius tells Claudius and Gertrude that the prince is insane, he makes the now famous statement, “brevity is the soul of wit.” In a lot of ways, the best wit is very much like ripping off a Band-Aid: swift and snappy. Keep a joke going for too long or extend the pun into a rambling metaphor, and the witty remark loses its punch. Fortunately, says Errett, we have a perfect tool with which to hone our wit: Twitter. The 140-character limit mandates brevity. And the threat of your witty line disappearing without either a retweet or favorite, should (in theory), compel you to practice your craft. As Errett says, “You have to delete many more tweets than you write.” It may not be a case of spontaneous creativity, but it will likely feel that way to your followers.
Dorothy Parker, who spoke these words, would be disappointed to know that these days, we’re more familiar with the calisthenics. “Wit no longer has much meaning in society because it gets conflated with snark, and sarcasm and cattiness,” says Errett. He admits that a lot of wit does contain cruelty, (“especially the British definition”), but using spontaneous creativity as a means of critical social commentary is very different than attacking your opponent simply because you can, or because it’s fun or out of some self-righteous belief in your own superiority. To Errett, wit is most advantageous when used for forces of good. “I’d rather it be compassionate,” he says. Because in the end, high-spirited, feel-good witty conversation is “our optimum existence,” what Errett considers “the ultimate goal for human beings as a social animal.” Now if only wit could solve world hunger.