You are your own boss.

mug“Twenty years ago, you’d go to a company and they’d tell you your [career] route.  Today, it’s on you” (Jody Greenstone Miller, CEO of Business Talent Group).

You are your own boss.

People rarely get promoted because they wait to do what they are told.  No.  People get promoted because they have the “I’m my own boss” mentality.  They know that they can decide their own career path, so they take ownership over their skills.  They are open and adaptable.  They constantly look for ways to improve or change the way they work.  They try new things and think outside the box.  And most of all, they have learned to be agile.

Agility is a job skill that Miller states shows someone that will be successful, and quickly.

If you’re 50 years old or younger, you may already be familiar with agility (by force or choice).  The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that those 50 years old and younger will not only have 11 different jobs, but 11 different careers.

I guess when you’re your own boss, you know when to stay and when to go.

What do you all think?  How important is agility?

PHE63L27S6

5 Ways to Clear Your Head to Increase Concentration

 We all have times when we feel very unproductive and have a hard time focusing on our tasks. Finding inspiration can turn into a major problem if you don’t fuel and rest your brain from time to time.

But–to the rescue!–there are some easy ways to “unstick” your brain:

restaurant-person-woman-coffee-large1. Take a pause

If you have thought the situation through, and there is no way out, then it’s time to take a pause. Grab a coffee, have a little snack and do something else for a while. Refocusing elsewhere and returning to your problem later will allow you to see things from a different angle, and may help you resolve the problem.

 



 

landscape-nature-sky-sunset-large2. Fresh air

Take a walk outside, preferably into the green. Your eyes will be thankful for the pause from your computer screen, and some fresh air will help your body and mind to recharge their batteries. If you’re living in the city, don’t go the usual way, but try to explore new streets and areas.

 

 

 

person-woman-music-pink-large3. Surround yourself with nature

Research shows that there are cognitive benefits to surrounding yourself with greenery or images of nature. Try to choose a workplace where you’ll have a nice view outside, some plants nearby. Not an option? Listen to some soothing background sounds in order to boost your creativity.

 

 

 

Brooklyn Bridge4. Exercise

Sitting in front of your computer all day is not only bad for your health, but it’s also bad for your brain. It’s scientifically proven that people who exercise up to four times a week have better creative thinking skills than people that don’t. If you’re commuting to work, it’s great idea to walk or bike. Try to use lunch breaks to fit in some exercise.

 

 

 

1CB98C9DF85. Talk

Often we tend to immerse ourselves in our own problems, and we feel that we shouldn’t bother others with our issues. However, it can really help if you talk to somebody else. It can help not only to talk about your problems, but also to listen to other people’s problems and try to help. By doing this, you will get a different point of view. Perhaps while helping others, you will also distract yourself from your own problems–a win-win for both sides.

 


unnamedStefano Merlo is the CEO and founder of Noisli, a service that helps people to focus and boost productivity by blocking out annoying noises and creating a personal sound environment. Stefano has a Degree in Product and Visual Communication Design. A curious mind, always craving to learn new things. Find Stefano on Twitter at @stefanomerlo

Sites for Free Stock Photos That Are Perfect For Start-ups

As the Marketing Manager of a start-up for start-ups I need a lot of stock photos for our website, social channels and print collateral. I have a set budget for marketing and I don’t want to waste it on getting cheesy stock photos. I think that aligns pretty well with the challenges start-ups face when it comes to stock photos so I’ve compiled a useful list of the best places to find stock photos for start-ups. I even sorted them in a handy way. You’re welcome.

The requirements:

  1. They have to be free because ain’t nobody got money for that.
  2. They can’t just have a bunch of white guys shaking hands because the world doesn’t actually look like that and no one wants to see another one of those bad stock photos.
  3. It has to be really really really re-hee-eealy easy to figure out if you are going to get a strongly worded letter about using it.

person-woman-apple-hotel-largeI Need Something Specific

Pexels

This is my personal favorite, being mostly in tech this site has a huge selection of pictures of phones, laptops and tablets to use.

StockSnap.io

The search on stock snap is great. The tags are easy to use to find high quality royalty free stock photos.

Pic Jumbo

There is a ton of variety on Pic Jumbo. You’ll find a few borderline cheesy stock images but for every one of those you can find 10 really great ones.

 

tumblr_nojxhqzFXh1sfie3io1_1280

Scratching a Niche

These guys do one thing and do it well. Working in a niche? Scratch with one if these sites.

Foodie Feed

Warning! Do not browse before lunch. This site is full of appetizing food photos fit for any food based start-up.

New Old Stock

Looking for a great vintage photo? Browse the archive of vintage public domain imagery at New Old Stock.

photo-1423483641154-5411ec9c0ddf

Send Me Inspiration

Even the best marketers run out of ideas from time to time. Sometimes you need to find something specific and sometimes you need something to spark a little inspiration. Get these stock photos right to your inbox to get your creative juices flowin.

Unsplash

Receive 10 high quality artistic stock photos everyday from Unsplash right to your inbox.

Snapwire Snaps

7 hand-picked snaps every 7 days that are completely free to use.

Death To Stock Photos

These guys are sending you packs monthly. Be sure to follow them on Instagram to watch them travel the country in search of the best stock photography.
apple-hand-iphone-6-4322

 

I’m Just Browsing

These sites let you get lost in the never ending scroll of beautiful imagery.

 

Magdeleine

These user generated photos are gorgeously curated for your viewing/using pleasure.

Refe

Get user generated photography for free from Refe.

 

Do you have a favorite free stock photo go to? Leave it in the comments, I am always on the hunt for more great places for images.

How to Satisfy Millennials’ Hunger for Collaboration

Whether good news or bad news, we’ve all heard everyone talking about millennials. There’s really no way to avoid them since there are 80 million in the U.S. and more entering the workforce day after day — almost 50% of millennials plan to actively look for a new job in 2015, according to a study by Aon Hewitt.

So in order to attract and keep this generation engaged, you’ll have to start listening to their needs. Gartner, a global research firm, found these interesting stats:

  • Employees are only spending about 40% of time at their personal workstations
  • Non-group tasks have decreased to about 20% of the working day

The dynamic of the work environment is changing, and can you guess who’s behind that? You guess it: millennials. As a generation that grew up collaborating, this crowd expects that in the workplace. So if you really want to attract millennials and tap into this pool of talent, you’ll need to consider restructuring or redesigning your workplace setup. Doing this will help create an environment that fosters collaboration and creative thinking — both of which this generation highly values.

Fall of the Wall

collaborative workspaces

In a typical workplace, employees would withdraw to their own private space. The human silo. Millennials don’t want this. They crave collaboration. And the first step to satisfying their hunger for teamwork is to say “rest in peace” to those cubicles. In fact, companies that moved from cubicles to an open-floor plan enjoyed some amazing results, according to this study by interior design and research firm Knoll:

  • Performance increased by an average of 440%
  • There was a 5.5% reduction in business process time and cost

This makes sense. Walls are a physical obstacle that blocks communication. They separate people and prevent them from talking to each other. So is there any good reason for organizations to still keep them up? Try grouping desks together in pods or lining them up in rows so employees are in close contact with each other. And make sure teammates can easily talk to one another without having to shout or move too far from their desks.

Space for Collaboration

After the walls are gone, the next step is to give millennials the space they need for collaboration. According to this survey by IdeaPaint, millennials reported that only 30.8% of their ideation meetings are planned. So to support that process, here are solutions that encourage both spontaneous and scheduled brainstorming:

  • Open meeting areas: Scatter tables and chairs in various nooks and crannies around the office. This allows employees do some spur-of-the-moment teamwork instead of making them wait until they can schedule a meeting room. Even better, hang up a whiteboard nearby, and you’ve got a truly productive space.
  •  Break rooms: Opposite to what you may think, idle chitchat around the water cooler isn’t always time wasting. Employees tend to create conversations that are work related, so you never really know when a brilliant idea will pop up.
  • Meeting rooms: Besides spontaneous gathering areas, don’t forget to keep rooms that people can schedule. This is ideal for when there’s a sensitive topic on the horizon or you need to gather a large party.

Startup Stock Photos

Collaboration can’t always be done at people’s desks — especially if it involves three or more people. So to encourage this type of work, you’ll need to designate specific spaces so people can be free to unleash their creative ideas with one another.

Space for Privacy

The one thing to keep in mind is that we’re not saying to get rid of all privacy. Collaborative areas are extremely important, but so are private spaces. This comes in handy when an employee needs to work on a complex project or a task that involves fine attention to details. With these spaces, they’ll be able to really hone in on their task and keep focus. And the walls don’t have to be fully enclosed; partitions will suffice. Just having that minor barrier still allows employees to zone in on their task. An office that pairs collaborative and private spaces gives employees the flexibility to choose workstations that suit whatever task they’re working on. It’s always said that millennials are shaking up the workplace in a negative manner. However, that’s not the case. They’re actually making it better for employees of all generations. So to really attract them to your organization and keep them truly engaged, you’ll need to create an environment that fosters their collaborative nature.

 

DavidNiu_HeadshotDavid Niu is the Founder and CEO of TINYpulse, an employee engagement survey solution that empowers leaders with actionable feedback to make positive changes in their workplaces. David is a serial entrepreneur, having founded and successfully sold two prior businesses, NetConversions and BuddyTV. He attended the University of California at Berkeley for his BA and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania for his MBA. He was named a “40 Under 40” recipient by the Puget Sound Business Journal and is actively involved in the Entrepreneurs Organization “EO.” David is also the author of Careercation: Trading Briefcase for Suitcase to Find Entrepreneurial Happiness.
Twitter: @davidniu

thinkspace BADASS Award

badass-award-awardWho doesn’t want to be called a badass?! Batman is a badass, Elon Musk is a badass, and I think Michael Brown, CEO of Affirma, Jordan Ritter, CEO of Ivy Softworks, and Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments are all pretty badass too. In the spirit of being a badass, we launched the thinkspace BADASS Award. It’s an employee recognition award which was inspired after visiting Jordan Ritter, CEO of Ivy Softworks.

Throughout my career I’ve seen a whole bunch of different ways companies try to recognize employees and most of them have been where a manager is the one that decides who gets the award. Instead of this being a top down award, it’s an award where peers get to nominate their coworkers and say they work with someone who is pretty badass.

Here’s how it works

We use a Google Docs Survey and it looks just like this:badass-nomination-form

Each month we will award someone on the team with the thinkspace BADASS Award. We’re looking to recognize a person who exhibits our core values. Vote for anyone but yourself. Vote for as many people and as many times as you would like. This is completely anonymous.

Please write a sentence or two about something they did that was exceptional, above and beyond, and aligns with our core values.

We will announce the winner of the thinkspace BADASS at the team meeting each month. We will read the nominations at the team meeting and award the person with the “chunk of metal” and $100. The “chunk of metal” is a passed along from one person to the next.

Our Core Values

GOAL CRUSHING ATTITUDE: We have the courage to start and resilience to finish. We push ourselves to the edge so that we know where the edge is. This is the heart of having an entrepreneurial spirit.

APPETITE FOR LEARNING: We are intellectually curious. We love to ask “why”. We love reading and pushing our knowledge to new depths. We believe that it is through learning that we are able to innovate. We reject the status quo.

GRATITUDE: We are thankful for the small things. We will over-deliver when we can. We are helpful and give back to our amazing community in any way we can. We choose to reach others over our own comfort.

BADASS Winners

katie-walvatne-badass-mtsi-haystack

April 2015: Katie Walvatne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

monica-taylor

May 2015: Monica Taylor

From Blondes to IPAs to Sours, Beer Lovers Toast to Seattle Beer Week

unnamedWhether you’re new to drinking craft beer or a longtime fan Seattle Beer Week is your chance to join thousands of others who want to enjoy what the market has to offer. The ten day celebration kicks off today with dozens of bars, pubs, and breweries hosting dozens of events showcasing a variety of hop based beverages. It’s no coincidence Seattle Beer Week is successful. According to the Brewers Association, Washington State ranks second in the nation  in the number of craft breweries creating batches of a drink first created in ancient Mesopotamia.

Among the dozens of business owners participating is Burc McFarlen, who runs The Beer Authority in Lake City. Like a sommelier speaks effortlessly about wine, Burc knows his beer. With 13 taps that are constantly changing, more than 400 bottled beers, Burc estimates he’s tasted about 75% of his inventory. He uses descriptions like “floral notes,” “hoppy,” and a “hint of vanilla” when explaining the subtle differences in beer you can find at his bar. He’s looking forward to Seattle Beer Week and is hosting a few events starting with a golf tournament. “The first four days we’re only pouring Washington beer to keep it local,” he explained.

BA_BurcPhoneBurc also partnered with Alaskan Brewing Company to offer a unique event on May 15. Customers can try grilled Alaskan salmon marinated in the company’s amber ale. Exotic meat like reindeer sausage from a butcher shop in Juneau is also on the menu. “We’re going to do a vertical tasting of their smoked porter,” Burc added. It will be from 2014, 2012, 2010, and 2008. Burc raved about the beer comparing it to “drinking smoked salmon.”

“It’s been fun watching it grow. Although it makes it harder to get into the events that I want to go to,” Jennifer Schweitzer shared with a smile. “It’s a good time. You get to see everybody in one place.” She has nearly two decades worth of experience as a bartender and has watched the evolution of Seattle Beer Week since it began in 2009. She knows firsthand the amount of work required to handle the event.

This year she won’t be behind the bar and is especially looking forward to Sour Fest hosted by Brouwers Café in Fremont. When asked why she loves the variety that’s growing in popularity her answer is succinct, “because sours are the magical unicorns of beer.” According to Jennifer there’s a wide variety of sour beers that are pleasing to many palettes, “the profile ranges from really sweet and fruity to tart and citrusy to boozy and funky. It’s just fun.”

As the craft beer market expanded, Jenn took an interest in the specialty beer about ten years ago. She wanted to know more about what she was serving and the interest has paid off. She’s able to make recommendations and help others give new beers a chance by providing “guidance not judgement.” Last year 252 craft breweries called the Evergreen State home according to the Washington Beer Commission. That’s up from 202 in the previous year and there’s no signs of the trend slowing down. “It’s happening everywhere especially in Ballard. You can’t turn a corner without seeing a brewery,” Jenn added.
As Seattle Beer Week expands Burc thinks there’s room for improvement. He’d like for there to be less focus on major distributors and see it go back to its roots – offering more educational events where people can “nerd out” and really learn about the intricacies of craft beer. His partnership with Alaskan Brewing Company is a reflection of what he’d like to see as a craft beer maven.

Whether you’re a novice or have advanced knowledge of craft beer Seattle Beer Week is a great opportunity to try new beers and share a toast with friends or strangers. “Craft beer is the ultimate ice breaker,” Burc shared.

3 Reasons You Should Pick Up A Copy Of Do the KIND Thing

gift-from-kindsnacksLast month, our team received a very thoughtful gift from KINDSnacks. In addition to the many delicious (and healthy!) goodies, the box also included a few copies of KINDSnacks’ CEO Daniel Lubetzky’s new book, Do the KIND Thing. I read Lubetzky’s book, and I’m here to tell you why you should, too.

It will teach you that you don’t always have to compromise.

Early in the book, Lubetzky introduces the idea of thinking with “AND.” You can have a snack that tastes good AND is good for you, which is one of the fundamental values of KINDSnacks. But you can also apply it to your daily life. You can be successful professionally AND show empathy and kindness to those around you.

“You don’t have to accept the way things are. All you need to do is ask: Why does it have to be that way? When your default thinking is “AND” instead of “or,” you start to break down the roadblocks that prevent you from getting more out of life.”

There is a sort of grace that is associated with compromise. But every once in awhile, why can’t you have it all? Why can’t you have this AND that?

It could be your roadmap to building a lasting company culture.

Core values can be different for every business, and they may even evolve over time. At thinkspace, our team recently spent some time revamping our own core values to make sure they represent the culture we are cultivating every day. But the ten tenets outlined in Do the KIND Thing can be a great jumping off point, a source of inspiration or a guideline for creating a culture that encourages success as well as kindness and generosity.

You can see it in action.

Speaking from experience, when you’re an undergraduate pursing a degree in creative writing, your mantra may well be, “Show, don’t tell.” For Lubetzky, this is when his story shines brightest.

There is value in sweeping visionary statements and lofty ideals. But in a book that encourages the reader to do the KIND thing, it is so encouraging—and meaningful—to see that kindness in action. In the Acknowledgements section, Lubetzky thanks Djavo, the friendly superintendent who helped him move boxes twenty-one years ago. After finishing his book, Lubetzky ran into Djavo at a dinner, where Djavo was a server. Admittedly, he hadn’t thought of Djavo in years, but their chance meeting prompted this acknowledgement:

“I want to thank all those people, including the ones I have not seen in two decades, as well as the security guard that opened the door and the friendly stranger that share a smile this morning, for the unrecognized warmth they bring to our world every day…”

KINDSnacks is on a mission to prove that companies can be financially successful as well as—well, kind. And this book can show you how it’s possible.

What do you like most about working at thinkspace?

team

It’s easy to get so caught up in the grind that you forget to stop and thank the people around you. In the spirit of Gratitude (our newest company core value), we chose to share the following story.

thinkspace participates in a weekly TINYpulse exercise. TINYpulse provides insights into company culture, prompting anonymous responses to insightful survey questions. Last week, Tiny Pulse asked our staff, “What do you like most about working here?” The response was overwhelmingly about our amazing members! Thank you to our members for making such a huge impact on the thinkspace team! Need proof? Read our team’s responses to the question below & give in to the warm and fuzzies!

 

tinypulse

“Our members. We have some of the most amazing members.”

“The people! All the smartypants I get to work with everyday.”

“I enjoy seeing direct correlations between company success and my hard work. Its motivating to see clearly how my work moves the dial for the company.”

“I really enjoy interacting and assisting the members. We have such a great group of people in the community, I look forward to participating and helping to plan all-member activities and events. They make it fun to come into work.”

” I like the opportunities I get. Whether that be opportunities to better myself as an individual and grow as a leader or better myself professionally and as a team member. I get to meet so many amazing people everyday that constantly keep me on my toes, learning and asking questions. The insightful and incredible stories I get to hear will be experiences I never forget. I am inspired working here. Even if I get stressed out about many things I know I am supported and can take the time to refresh myself.”

The thing that I like most about working here is that I get to pour everything into this company. It’s the culmination of everything I know and everything I am. The experience that I can create for employees and customers can make a big impact in their lives. I would be very hard pressed to find something else out there that could provide that.

“Our members! How lucky are we to work with such creative, brilliant and humble people each and every day!?”

Meet Our New Community Host, Gabe!

Gabe HerbertHelp us in welcoming our new community host Gabe Herbert! Get to know Gabe a little better. He is pretty new to the Fremont area, so please suggest some great places for him to explore!

What do you do and where can we find out more?
Professionally, I’m a web developer, primarily using WordPress. I also have a lot of IT experience.

What is your favorite beer/wine/cider spot in seattle?
Über, with it’s dozens of taps and hundreds of beers

What is the best place for a bite?
I’m trying to kick the “fast food sushi” habit- Toyoda Sushi in Lake City is one of my favorites. Bizarro is delicious and fun for Italian. And I’ve got to throw in Plum Bistro.

What are your hobbies?
I’ve studied martial arts for years and am just getting into Capoeira. Yoga is an essential foundation for my physical practices. I’m also a bassist, currently looking for a new project. It might go without saying that I’m a big computer geek. Someday I want to build robotic fountains.

“Can I have one of everything?” | New Tech Eastside, April 14

nte-katie-and-brett“Live from Kirkland… It’s Tuesday Night!”

Sit down and let me tell you a tale of a place like no other. Where the beer flows like high speed internet, where the wine flows like beer, and where no two business cards are the same. Sounds like a dream right? Wrong. This is New Tech Eastside and it is very, very real.

“I put on lipstick.”

The night kicked off on quirky note, as Katie Walvatne acknowledged that she didn’t resemble the photo on the big screen, and joined Brett Greene on stage as a Peter Chee impersonator. To get things started, Brett and “Peter” introduced the interactive portion of the evening: Community shout-outs! Following pleas to beta test, review, and join teams of techies, three startup weekends were advertised. If you are interested in building a product geared toward B2B sales, health innovation systems, or Latino markets, visit http://startupweekend.org to learn more about how you can participate!

“I’m from Texas, I always carry a pocket knife, and I won a state-wide coloring contest in the 1st grade.”

Kicking off the presentation portion of the night, Brandy Rhodes from NTE sponsor 9Mile Labs introduced her company as one that “invests in people with smart, innovative tech ideas” before turning the floor over to iMovR.

“Nobody should be sentenced to the chair!”

Ron Wiener from iMovR made a compelling argument, advocating the value and the usability of his treadmill desks. In his words, iMovR is “in the business of office fitness.” Ron says that getting people out of their seats is what drives his company. For those of you that can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, don’t knock it ‘til you try it! Like Ron said, “Jimmy Kimmel can do it… Even Peter Chee can do it!”

“This is getting dangerous…”

With an arm like Babe Ruth, the aim of Annie Oakley, and the stage presence of the Three Stooges, Frontier demonstrated a mean curveball t-shirt toss to reward correct answers to trivia questions about Seattle. Coming in hot behind this energetic interlude was Trent, the man behind the mouse(flow).

nte-trent-mouseflow“We’re cutting edge, NSA-style!”

Trent Scott launched Mouseflow in 2009. His aim? To revolutionize the way people view website analytics data using heat maps and real-time playbacks of visitor activity on websites. Aggregating that data onto a sexy dashboard, Mouseflow takes cyber-stalking to a whole new level by making it easy for a company to analyze the behavior of actual visitors on their website. Mouseflow provides companies with the data they need to optimize how they organize and present their information virtually. Since its launch, Mouseflow has spread over nine countries and provides service to companies like Pepsi, Frontier Airlines, and the Weather Channel.

“Lose the chimp, send in blue!”

Papa Smurf made a cameo appearance to represent SendinBlue, a NTE sponsor. Offering an alternative to companies like MailChimp, SendinBlue facilitates the efficient sending of newsletters. Papa Smurf gave Sailesh from Mobisante a warm New Tech welcome.

nte-sailesh-mobisante“I’m going to volunteer my body for science now.”

Giving a real-time demonstration on stage, Sailesh Chutani with Mobisante validated the gadget that has earned him several awards, and worldwide press. Traditional ultrasound machines conservatively cost $35,000, weigh as much as a chubby rhinoceros, and are about as portable as a grand piano. Mobisante has created the first-ever mobile diagnostic ultrasound machine, offering users clear and accessible ultrasound imaging on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Because of this technology, ultrasound imaging is now made available to previously underserved populations, including climbers on Mt. Everest, soldiers in active duty, and organizations that provide healthcare in remote areas of the world. The basic unit costs less than $5,000, weighs less than 12 ounces, and its counterpart app is so easy, a caveman could do it.

“New Tech Eastside Rocks… er… dot rocks.”

Wake up on the WrongSide of the bed because you’re sick and tired of being just another dot-com? Maybe it’s time you try RightSide, the company that brings you access to an encyclopedia of unique domain names such as “.rocks” or “.ninja.” Shawn from RightSide introduced the last presenter of the evening, GoDaddy.*

“I have no idea, I’m just a developer.”

What do you get when you mix heavy slides of coding language, intricate descriptions of platform updates, and a captive audience of techies? I have no idea. I’m not a developer. What I do know is that GoDaddy is in the business of individuality. GoDaddy has a cult following as the go-to website for landing the perfect domain name to provide you with the unique online presence you crave. For example, my domain name might be chantel@overmyhead.sorrygodaddy. See how that works?

“I took off my lipstick…”

Arriving fashionably late to the stage, Peter Chee (the real one) joined Brett on stage to thank the presenters for the evening and give the attendees a proper send off. Cheers to another night of entertaining presentations, techies turned stand-up comics, and near-miss merchandise tosses! Until next time, Eastside!

*I now see the irony of this lineup.