3 Inspiring Examples of Intrapreneurship in Action

While we're sure you're already familiar with the term “entrepreneur,” intrapreneur might be a new one for you.  According to executive Craig Rhinehart, an intrapreneur can be defined as “a person within a large organization who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea (or innovation) into a profitable finished offering through assertive risk-taking and effective stakeholder collaboration.”

So, what does intrapreneurship in action look like?  We've identified 3 inspiring examples:

  1. 3M

    At 3M, scientist Dr. Spencer Silver tried to create a strong adhesive to use with aerospace technology.  Instead, he accidentally created a light adhesive that didn't leave a residue.  Rather than scrapping it because it didn't meet his aerospace objectives, he spent years trying to formulate a use for it.  Ultimately, his persistence paid off when he teamed up with scientist Art Fry, and they used his creation to develop Post-It notes!

  2. W.L. Gore

    W.L. Gore (from Gore-Tex fabric) allows employees to use 10% of their work day to develop new ideas.  It was during that time that employee Dave Myers noted that a coating the company used for push-pull cables could also be used on guitar strings to make them more comfortable.  Ultimately, the company took a risk and launched the coated guitar strings under the brand name ELIXIR Strings.  The brand then went on to become the No. 1 selling acoustic guitar string.

  3. Gmail

    It seems like virtually everyone has Gmail today.  However, that might not be the case were it not for intrapreneur, Paul Buchheit.  As with 3M, Google allows employees 20% of their workday to devote to developing personal projects related to the business.  It was during this time that Buchheit developed the template for Gmail, which was unique among email providers because it offered additional storage capacity and was the only email option at the time to offer a search function.  

Are You a Good Listener? 4 Ways to Tell

What if we told you there is something simple you can do that will improve your relationships, increase your productivity, minimize mistakes, and boost your confidence?  There is!  You'll experience all of these benefits merely by becoming a better listener.

There's a good chance you already believe you excel at this skill. Interestingly enough, most people think that they are above average listeners.  However, according to a study of 3,492 individuals done by authors Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, there are 4 characteristics that really distinguish great listeners from the rest of us.  In their Harvard Business Review article, they identified the following 4 traits of great listeners:

  1. They Ask Good Questions.  While we often think of good listeners as those who silently nod while someone's talking, they actually aren't the best listeners.  In reality, people who ask probing and insightful questions—essentially, those who engage in 2-way communication—are perceived as the best listeners.

  2. They Build Self-Esteem.  Rather than reacting passively or worse, critically to others, good listeners make people feel supported.  They create a safe environment where people feel encouraged to share.

  3. They're Cooperative.  Bad listeners were often seen as competitive.  For example, they seemed to merely be listening so they could point out flaws in logic or take the time to formulate their response.  By contrast, although good listeners may disagree, they leave the impression that they're trying to help, rather than just win an argument.

  4. They Made Suggestions.  Zenger and Folkman reported being surprised by this, because all too commonly, people will complain about someone who “didn't listen but instead jumped in and tried to immediately solve the problem.”  They theorized that good listeners are either making suggestions more skillfully or alternatively, people are more appreciative of suggestions that come from a great listener. 

Reinvent Yourself At Any Age

Have you ever fervently wished your life was different, but then told yourself all of the reasons you could never change it?  Maybe you thought you were too old, not talented enough, or you weren't even sure where to begin.  If this sounds like you, read on to get some real-world suggestions that will start you on the path to a new you:

  • Think Long-Term.  All too often, people tell themselves they're “too old” to make changes.  However, consider the fact that today, it's not uncommon for people to live well into their 80s and 90s.  Rather than allowing your age to prevent you from making changes, start imagining how much better the next 30, 40, or 50+ years of your life could look if you begin today.

  • Envision Your Dream Life.  If you're not certain where to begin, we suggest you start by envisioning what your dream life looks like...what hobbies do you engage in?  What condition is your body in?  How do you earn a living?  What do you do when you first wake up?  Imagine what your dream life would look like and write down your ideal day on paper.

  • Take Steps.  Once you've identified what your dream life would look like, write down what steps you would need to take to have it.  For instance, would you need to go back to school?  Hit the gym more often?  Determine what action steps you could take to help you achieve your goals and then, make plans to tackle them.

  • Be Willing to Take Risks.  Sometimes we become paralyzed by fear, imagining all of the things that could go wrong if we start down a new path.  However, evidence suggests that risk-taking is far more likely to yield positive results.  Rather than allowing fear to hold you back, instead remind yourself often of the benefits you'll derive from reinventing yourself.   

5 Easy Ways to Earn Extra Cash

Would you like to earn more money?  If so, you need to read this.  We've identified some easy ways to increase your cash flow this year:

  1. Use Your Car's Advertising Space.  If the thought of turning your car into a mobile advertisement doesn't bother you, then you might want to consider doing so.  The website, My Free Car, is looking for drivers who are willing to have a vinyl ad affixed to their car.  Sign up and if you're selected, you can earn as much as $400/month.

  2. Sign Up for Ebates.  Ebates essentially pays you to shop.  Simply sign up for an account and then browse Ebates' list of over 2,000+ retail shops.  Shop at one of them and earn a percentage of cash back, typically an amount ranging between 1-10%.

  3. Write a Book.  Are you a marketing guru?  If so, this idea is for you.  Write a book—or hire someone to write one for you—and then self-publish it.  Once your book is published, use your promotional know-how to generate sales.

  4. Become a Mystery Shopper.  If your budget is tight, mystery shopping might be perfect for you.  By becoming a mystery shopper, you'll have the opportunity to eat out at restaurants you might not be able to afford, buy groceries, and watch free movies.  Most assignments pay between $8-$25 plus reimbursement so you won't get rich doing this, however you will have the opportunity to do things (go out to eat!) that a strict budget doesn't allow.

  5. Make a Bet.  If you're trying to lose weight or maintain your weight loss, check out DietBet or HealthyWage.  These sites allow you to enter various challenges and bet money that you'll succeed.  A typical challenge might include losing 10% of your body weight in 6 months or maintaining your weight loss for a certain period of time.  Not only do these sites help you get in shape, but they also offer a financial incentive to do so.   

4 Interesting Facts about Memorial Day

Each year, we celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday in May.  While you probably already know that this federal holiday commemorates men and women who died in military service for our country, you may not be aware of the following interesting bits of trivia:

  1. Memorial Day is the 2nd Most Popular Day of the Year for Grilling.  The day that earns 1st place?  The 4th of July, of course!

  2. The Date We Celebrate Memorial Day Has Changed.  After the Civil War, Memorial Day was traditionally observed on May 30th.  However, it was moved to the last Monday of the month in 1971 so people could enjoy 3-day weekends.  Some veterans groups have been working to restore it to the original date, as a way of setting the day apart and showing proper tribute to deceased veterans.

  3. Some States Celebrate Gray Memorial Day.  A number of Southern states have set aside a day to honor deceased Confederate veterans.  Typically, this day is called Confederate Memorial Day.  It's observed in January in Texas; April in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia; May in Virginia; and June in Louisiana and Tennessee.

  4. Recently Freed Slaves Were Among the First to Commemorate Memorial Day.  As the Civil War drew to a close, thousands of Union soldier POWs were led to prisoner camps in Charleston, South Carolina.  At one of those camps, conditions were so bad that 250 prisoners died from disease or exposure.  Those soldiers were buried in a mass grave nearby.  After the Confederate surrendered, more than 1,000 recently freed slaves, accompanied by regiments of the U.S.  Colored Troops and a handful of white Charlestonians, gathered at the camp to consecrate a new, proper burial site for the Union soldiers who had died.  The group sang hymns, gave readings, and distributed flowers throughout the cemetery.