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To Help More Women Reach the Top, We Must First Help Those at the Bottom

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These days, there’s a lot of focus on adding women to corporate boards. That’s good – but it doesn’t solve a much deeper problem.

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October 6, 2020 4 min read

This story appears in the October 2020 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Back in January, announced that the bank would no longer take a company public unless its board had at least one “diverse” member. Its CEO, David Solomon, also said that IPOs of companies with “at least one female director” outperformed companies with all-male boards. And in 2018, the state of passed a law requiring that publicly traded firms in the state have at least one woman on their board of directors.

The changes were exciting news for advocates for gender equality. They sound like progress! But take a step back.

These initiatives are the equivalent of treating a symptom, rather than getting at the fundamental illness of the talent pipeline. Mandating diverse boards is an incredibly powerful move to rattle the status quo — but the results may not trickle down to anyone else within the corporation. 

Related: To See More Women in Leadership Roles, Here’s What Needs to Happen

In its 2019 Women in the Workplace study, the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company found that women are underrepresented at every level in the workplace beyond the entry level and face their biggest challenges in their first ascent to the manager position. McKinsey describes it as the “broken rung” for women climbing the corporate ladder. This is the part of any organization that needs more attention. This is where more women must be brought into the talent pipeline and given the tools to climb over that broken rung. 

Harvard Review published a 2016 study that found that when there was only one woman in a pool of candidates, the statistical chance that she would get the job was practically zero. Adding in just one additional woman to the same candidate pool, however, greatly increased the chances of one of them being hired. No matter the position companies are looking to fill, it’s vital they have a diverse pool of candidates to choose from — and maintain this practice all the way down to their early management positions. 

Implementing this cultural shift is not easy. From the thousands of anonymous company reviews left on Fairygodboss, the career community for women I lead, we know that women who believe there is more gender equality at experience higher . Gender diversity in the workplace is influenced by a variety of factors, but three of the most important are supportive managers, paid policies, and flexible work environments. 

Regardless of their current parental status, paid parental leave is one of the benefits most women say makes them more likely to view a company more positively, apply for a job, and stay at their current employer. 

Related: 3 Questions To Ask If You Want Female Entrepreneurs to Accelerate

The term flexible work environment can mean different things to different people. For some, it means being able to work from home a few days every week. For others, it means being able to adjust their work hours. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but one thing is clear: All employees value flexibility, but for women, it can mean the difference between staying and leaving an employer.  

Creating a workplace where more women have the ability to advance will help create more diverse boards, period. California’s law and Goldman Sachs’ mandate show thoughtful leadership in the movement for gender equality, but these actions only treat one symptom of a larger problem. It’s up to every company to make changes to prevent the illness in the first place.

Check out more stories from our October/November issue’s list of 100 Powerful Women.

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‘The Alignment Factor’: The Keys to Internal Alignment

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October 22, 2020 7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

This is the first in an exclusive series of articles from Total Alignment authors Riaz Khadem and Linda Khadem titled “The Alignment Factor.” Check back in every Thursday for new installments. 

Every entrepreneur knows that alignment with the market, or external alignment, is vital to the success of the . But what about internal alignment? Internal alignment is just as important and includes the alignment of people in an organization to work efficiently and collaboratively to fulfill the purpose of the company.

The alignment of people has two distinct characteristics: alignment with a center and alignment with movement. The first is primarily in the realm of thought; the second in the realm of action. In alignment with the center, the thinking of people is aligned with a single point of reference. In alignment with movement, people’s talents and energies are directed to activities related to the execution of to move the organization toward its vision.

Successful startups provide a good example of alignment with the center. Cohesion with a center is manifested in the leadership of the entrepreneur. The entrepreneur’s mission becomes the mission of all, and the alignment with a center is assured. The entrepreneur’s keen sense of the needs of the market translates into a vision of the future and a strategy for achieving it. Vision and strategy set the direction for the movement of the workforce.

Related: The 4 Levels of Organizational Alignment

If the company is successful, momentum generated from this two-fold alignment spurs it to significant levels of growth and success, which further reinforces the alignment with the center and with movement. A state of alignment exists in most successful startups, as the twin conditions of alignment are simultaneously present.

Challenges of Misalignment

As a company continues to grow and expand, misalignment inevitably creeps in. Things become increasingly complex, and many issues arise. For example, financing the growth may become difficult. Staying up to date with the needs of a changing market is a challenge, and the inability to receive timely and relevant key information to guide decisions becomes a roadblock.

As a business continues to scale up, the need for financial resources and new talent often dilutes the control and even influence of the original founder. Soon, the alignment is lost as new voices are heard and new people bring in their own vision and input. Often the new perspectives are what the company needs, but how does the internal alignment survive all these transitions? The entrepreneur is unable to sustain the two-fold dimensions of internal alignment.

As the organization grows larger, so does the challenge of misalignment, overt or covert. Misalignment slows the progress of the organization and disempowers the committed team, while promoting the personal agendas of individuals. Many entrepreneurial organizations fail during scale-up.

The Alignment Solution

To help the organization during this scale-up process, a new structure is required. It is wise to avoid the trap of adopting old structures and practices where misalignment can easily enter and prosper. A fundamentally new infrastructure is needed to deliver the firm’s promises and in a state of alignment. A series of transformational processes becomes necessary for building that infrastructure and using it to navigate through the scale-up phase of growth.

The transformational process must begin by engaging the entrepreneur and the top team in meaningful conversation with everyone’s participation. At this stage of expansion, a new mission and core values should be defined to serve as the new center of alignment. Agreement with that center is assured when everyone is involved and provides input into the creation of the mission and values. The same team should engage in formulating a shared vision of the future and strategies to realign with the market. The vision and strategy that emerge from such a process sets the direction of movement for all employees. 

It is important to guard the process of alignment from being misaligned itself. Alignment must not be forced. True alignment will come about naturally through active participation, involvement and understanding. Further, the actors in this alignment activity must know that alignment enhances, not diminishes, the of everyone. Creativity and are the necessary elements of growth. In an aligned state, when the direction of movement is clear and the responsibilities are spelled out, the individual’s creativity becomes more focused on fueling the speed of movement rather than flowing haphazardly.

The value of the process of building an infrastructure of alignment must be clearly understood and agreed upon in order to ensure the sincere participation of all the parties. Without understanding and wholehearted acceptance, the process will not truly result in alignment. Personal opinions abound and should be channeled in a constructive flow to contribute to the transformational process. For this reason, the facilitation of the process must be done with care, patience and respect for everyone’s point of view. A positive and attentive approach in facilitation eventually wins any natural resistance to this effort.

 The Role of Methodology

The existence of methodology is key to implementing internal alignment. It is far easier to unite different points of view in the presence of a sound methodology that everyone understands, rather than the exchange of differing opinions without a methodology. It is far easier to facilitate consensus in a group consultation, for example, in the presence of a set of ground rules for discussion that everyone accepts.

With the correct methodology being used, the following results should be forthcoming: an inspiring mission, vision and values; creative strategy; clear accountability; cross-functional collaboration; access to data; enhanced competencies; and ability to deliver value to customers.

What Does Alignment Look Like?

In a state of alignment, the organization has an inspiring mission guided by core values that are never violated. The mission is not just making money. Rather, it is about providing some service or product that add to human prosperity. Mission gives everyone meaning to their jobs, a reason to strive for excellence.

The organization has a vision of success and goals for delivering its worthy mission. Goals are challenging and require effort and creativity to reach. A strategy for achieving vision has been devised based on a sound strategic process and the involvement of the organization’s strategic thinkers.

Strategy to achieve vision has set the direction for all employees. It is a roadmap to success that is specific enough to allow each employee to find his or her clear path of contribution to its success, yet flexible enough to change with the changing external environment.

In a state of alignment, each individual contributes to the execution of strategy (vertical alignment), as well as collaborates with others (horizontal alignment). In a state of alignment, a rhythm of conversation in teams and between collaborators is present to consult on progress, devise plans of action, act and then reflect on action aimed at sustaining alignment and moving the organization forward toward its vision.

Related: Getting Employees to Tell the Whole Truth When You Need to Hear It

The state of alignment has immense power and will enable the entrepreneurial organization to stay united, survive the difficult scaling up phase and emerge with extraordinary success as a recognized player in its market. It has the power to bring positive change based on fulfilling its well-defined and worthy mission while adhering to meaningful core values.

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Amazon opens a new headquarters and several shipping centers in Mexico

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The retail giant seeks to meet the high demand for its products in the Aztec country with its centers in the State of Mexico, Jalisco and Nuevo León.

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October 22, 2020 3 min read

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

Amazon reported that it will expand its operations in Mexico through new shipping centers in Apodaca, Nuevo León , and in Tlajomulco, Jalisco , which will be added to a building in the State of Mexico as well as 12 new delivery stations.

As reported by the company in a press release, this expansion will represent the creation of 1,500 direct and indirect jobs.

“The growth of Amazon’s operations in Mexico reflects the commitment to our customers in the country, while allowing us to offer an unsurpassed service and shopping experience,” said Diego Méndez de la Luz, Director of Operations and Fulfillment Services at Amazon. in Mexico in the statement.

These new shipping centers seek to “ensure that people receive their items on time and reliably.”

These new buildings, according to Amazon, represent around 69 thousand square meters (a space greater than the total surface of the Azteca Stadium).

In this way, Amazon’s operations in Mexico have five shipping centers, two support buildings, two sorting centers and 27 delivery stations for logistics services.

With support from state governments

Amazon appreciated that the new centers were achieved with the support of state governments.

“We appreciate the significant support of the governments of Jalisco, Nuevo León and the State of Mexico, for allowing us to expand our presence and provide new services; we will continue working hard to deliver the products they need to our customers,” said Méndez.

In this regard, the Governor of Nuevo León, Jaime Rodríguez Calderón mentioned that “we are very excited that a renowned company such as Amazon has decided to expand its operations in Nuevo León to open its first shipping center in the north of the country.”

For his part, Enrique Alfaro Ramírez, Governor of Jalisco , pointed out that “this new investment is great news for Jalisco because it represents an important economic benefit, the creation of hundreds of jobs and the confidence of private initiative in our state.”

Finally, Alfredo Del Mazo Maza, Governor of the State of Mexico , indicated that “this makes the presence of Amazon in our country very relevant and we are very pleased that it has chosen the State of Mexico to install this space.”

Image: Amazon

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Learn These 5 Personality Strategies to Supercharge Sales

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October 22, 2020 6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Have you ever tried to pitch someone your idea and for some reason they just didn’t seem to engage? tried to encourage his best friend, Linkletter to buy the surrounding property around . Linkletter did not see the opportunity and passed. Ironically, the Fujishige family saw the potential and bought fifty-six acres for $2500. Decades later they sold the land back to the Disney Corporation for just under $100 million. How can one person see an opportunity when another one passes on it?

This is what author Woody Woodward calls the 20/80 Rule. His newest book “D.R.I.V.E. Sales” focuses on the five distinct “buying personalities” he’s identified. Each of us inherently speaks one language (20 percent), and in doing so, accidentally alienate the other 4 buying personalities (80 percent). The process of recognizing the distinct motivations of the customer you’re pitching makes a dramatic (or even exponential) difference to your selling success. When Walt was pitching, he was not connecting with Art’s buying .

Related: Is Your Personality Permanent? New Research Says ‘No.’

I spoke to Woodward this week about his findings. In short form, the five buying personalities depend on what makes you feel most important. They are as follows:

  • Director. You like experiencing life and life’s purpose. You thrive on freedom, , performing, overcoming, and appearance.
  • Relator. You thrive on relationships, influence, service, family, friends, parents, and spirituality.
  • Intellectual. Your priorities are knowledge, learning, health, nature, moment, standards, and organization.
  • Validator. Your hot buttons are recognition, acceptance, , trust, respect, validation, and being needed.
  • Executive. Your tickets are winning, control, work, goals, security, providing, and problem-solving.

Here’s an easy exercise you can do right now. Simply rate the five personalities in the order of what makes you feel important.  The result is your buying personality profile. I had no idea what to expect for my own – but when I walked through the exercise the result was distinct.

While in actual life I’d be a Relator or an Intellectual, when it comes to making a sizeable purchase or investment, I behave like an Executive: I’d look first and hardest at the proof of return and the ways the decision would make my life better, which would mean I’d respond most strongly to reviews and third party testimonials (this is true). I’d focus on the big picture more than the details of how to achieve it. Others who fall in this model include Phil Knight, Steve Wynn, Ruth Bader Ginsberg (I’m honored), Serena Williams, and John D. Rockefeller.

In all, my profile came out as E.D.R.I.V. This is important in that every customer you present to will have both Primary and Secondary motivations for buying. To the extent you are able, it is important to understand those nuances, too.

There are myriad examples of large-ticket purchases that would have had an astonishing impact for both buyer and seller but never happened. Why? In large part because the proposition being presented didn’t meet the right buying criteria that would have resonated for them.

Related: Why You Should Embrace Your Competitive Personality

Steve Jobs offered his first boss, Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari, one-third of Apple for $50,000. Bushnell passed. CEO Chris DeWolfe was offered Facebook for $75 million by Mark Zuckerberg, but he too passed. This problem of pitching to the wrong D.R.I.V.E. (buying personalities) goes back for centuries, Woodward notes in the book. Western Union was offered the telephone from inventor Alexander Graham Bell for $100,000. The offer was disdainfully rejected with the pronouncement, “What use could this company make of an electrical toy.”

The first step to making your pitch more attractive to your customer base is to identify how the benefits of your product or service meet the five buying personalities. Cell phones are probably one of the most widely saturated products. However, each D.R.I.V.E. buys for a different reason. A Director benefits because they can be free and independent doing business anywhere. A Relator wants to connect to family and friends anytime. An Intellectual is buying it to be more efficient and organized. A Validator benefits from social media apps and how they encourage their relationships, while an Executive wants to be able to win and excel at their goals. 

So once you’ve identified the benefits of your product and the buying personalities for your prospective customer or customers, the way to accelerate your sales is to show, don’t tell the way your product answers their needs.

For example, Woodward recalls in the book the challenge the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) faced in alerting the public to the relative safety (or danger) of movie theater , with 30 grams of saturated fat for a medium-sized serving, as illustrated in the book “Made to Stick.” 

With an eye toward the buying personality of movie customers (“It’s a treat, it’s a part of my lifestyle and it’s how I relate with my family”) the CSPI stepped away from the scientific explanation of the danger. Instead, they created a visual that showed the average medium serving of popcorn contained more artery-clogging fat than a bacon-and-eggs breakfast, Big Mac and fries for lunch, and a steak dinner with trimmings, combined. The story was an instant sensation and not only had buyers’ attention, resulted in nearly all of the nation’s biggest theater chains announcing they would move to a healthier oil.

Related: Tailoring Your Sales Pitch to Your Customer’s Personality

Additionally, if the selling process leaves you stuck, you move to the strategy of P.I.C.K.S., an acronym that stands for Parables (stories around the proposition), Identify Needs (specific to the recipient), Calls to Action (limited time opportunities to act), Keep in Touch (persistence counts) and Surprise Them (follow up with a delightful offer they would have never anticipated).

In all, whether you’re an experienced seller or a novice, these ideas could boost your outcomes substantially. I will definitely give them heed and I suggest every current business owner consider them strongly as well.

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