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Toys ‘R’ Us Might Be Dying, but Physical Retail Isn’t
The recent bankruptcy filing at Toys “R” Us has roiled the toy industry. Yet the struggles at the company are not new. The firm was taken private in a $6.6 billion leveraged private equity buyout in 2005, with the aim of turning the chain around, but the resulting debt has proved to be unserviceable. The news is part of a larger trend of closings that some are calling the retail apocalypse. The rise of e-commerce, combined with a shift in consumer preference toward dining out over shopping and with years of overbuilding, has made for distinctly unattractive economics in tradit [...]
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What I Learned About Coaching After Losing the Ability to Speak
Marion Barraud for HBR I was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2001. By 2003 I could no longer speak intelligibly or walk, and any muscle control became more difficult as the disease progressed. I knew I couldn’t keep facilitating team meetings and giving strategy presentations — staples of the consulting services I had provided for many years. But I still loved my work and needed to stay active, and my clients were open to trying a new approach, so I began managing my coaching relationships exclusively through written dialogue in instant messages, emails, a [...]
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Equifax, the Credit Reporting Industry, and What Congress Should Do Next
Even for the experts, the recent data breach at Equifax was staggering. The data that undergirds the credit records of 143 million consumers was compromised. Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and drivers’ license records are used to authenticate identity. It is not difficult to change a credit card number, but changing Social Security numbers and birth dates is a whole different matter. Data breaches are on the rise in the United States. It’s time for Congress to act. Why does this require action by Congress? There are at least five major reasons that the private s [...]
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7 Common Newsletter Problems Solved
Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at why email newsletters are so important, what your email newsletter might look like, and how to choose the right service for you. So is your newsletter up and running yet? If the answer is “Yes”, is it working as well as you’d like? If not, then read on. I know a lot of bloggers find newsletters a bit daunting. And there are some really common problems that crop up again and again. Here are the seven I see most often: Problem #1: You Know You Should Set Up a List, But You Haven’t Done It Yet Hopefully, I’ve already convinced you that you need [...]
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The Most Overused Negotiating Tactic Is Threatening to Walk Away
Professional negotiators and researchers alike hail the BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement, or “walk away” outcome) as a negotiator’s primary source of relative power. But relying on even the best of alternatives as leverage can be tricky business. Your relative power in a negotiation is your capacity to use resources to influence another’s circumstances; and a BATNA’s role in that regard can range anywhere from significant to non-existent. Consider the obvious challenge of a negotiator who thinks she has a very strong alternative, but discovers tha [...]
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The 5 Skills Employers Seek in Today’s Digital Economy – SPONSOR CONTENT FROM HBX
Leading scholar Ernie Wilson on the surprising skills that employers look for when hiring and promoting employees. The global economic landscape is perpetually evolving, and companies are adjusting their hiring practices to better fit their needs. Are they searching for more engineers, data scientists, writers, or MBAs? According to research conducted by Ernie Wilson, Dean of the Annenberg School of Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California, companies today are on the hunt for individuals who excel in soft skills; he calls these individuals “Third Space th [...]
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Starting a Business Can Increase Older Workers’ Quality of Life (Even When It Doesn’t Pay Well)
Photo by Roman Kraft As a result of declining birth rates and increasing life expectancy, the average age of the global population is increasing. This demographic trend has important implications for the labor market. Aging individuals are not always able to find satisfactory outlets for their abilities. Moreover, finding sufficient funds to maintain the current level of pension and health-care benefits is a major concern for many countries. To investigate these issues, we looked at a group of late-career workers who chose to work for themselves or start small companies instead of retiring o [...]
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Should Employers Fire Employees Who Attend White Supremacist Rallies?
In the aftermath of the recent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, a social media campaign began circulating pictures of protestors in Nazi and Confederate regalia, asking the public to match names to the faces. As the protestors were identified, attention turned to their employers. These employers were faced with a question they probably never anticipated having to answer: Should we fire people who have been exposed as white supremacists? Some said “yes.” But if (or more likely, when) more rallies occur, should other employers follow [...]
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We Shouldn’t Always Need a “Business Case” to Do the Right Thing
I’ve been a consultant for almost 20 years, advising companies on complex challenges in ethics, risk, and responsibility. Each year several clients raise the same issue: the need to get buy-in from a skeptical senior executive in order to demonstrate a concrete benefit that will follow a proposed investment in an ethical business initiative or function. The executive needs a business case. And so I get asked questions like “What evidence can I provide that doing the right thing will make or save a company money?” and “How can I persuade the organization that embrac [...]
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How to Mentor a Narcissist
No workplace is immune to the self-absorbed and self-important employee. You know the one. Preoccupied with status, appearance, and power, narcissists exude a palpable sense of entitlement, often overestimate skills and abilities (while devaluing others), and can be quite comfortable manipulating others for personal gain. They can be hard to spot at first; a sophisticated narcissist can create a terrific first impression. What will eventually be recognized as haughty arrogance and grandiose self-importance might at first be misinterpreted as bold self-confidence. Psychologists define narcissis [...]
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211: Creating a Successful Podcast – Advice from Pat Flynn
Advice from Pat Flynn on How to Create a Successful Podcast Today I have a treat for anyone who has ever considered starting a podcast (or already has one), because I’ve just finished a Skype call with Pat Flynn about the art of podcasting.   As I’ve mentioned in the past, Pat’s teaching on podcasting is the number one thing that helped me as I was starting the ProBlogger podcast two years ago. If it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t have started at all. And so I was very excited when he launched his Power-Up Podcasting course earlier this year, because I knew it would h [...]
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The Best Senior Teams Thrive on Disagreement
Most team leaders try to build cohesion on their teams. Through team-building exercises and the careful establishment of norms and processes, leaders aim to create a culture of trust, psychological safety, and good feeling. But should enterprise leadership teams also pursue cohesion? To explore this question, over the course of six years, we surveyed senior-most leadership teams 99 times at companies representing a variety of industries, including financial services, food and beverage, energy, technology, healthcare, and retail. Each team member responded to over 110 items that focused on [...]
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