Switching to Consulting Career: What Can You Do About Yourself?
Coming from another career, switching to consulting can raise a whole set of problems. The external seem evident—dealing with case studies, knowing the right firms, etc—but internal factors cannot be underestimated. Purnima Travedi, a former architect with an MBA and Masters of Finance from Hult International Business College, boiled down these internal factors into five digestible “Obstacles,” during a speech (well, more of a discussion, given the energetic audience participation) at her alma mater’s Consulting Club.
“Where do you start?” she asked the room of aspiring consultants, “be your own consultant.” That is, think of your life as your case study; define your current station in life as an SCQ: situation, where are you in life right now; complication, what obstacles do you face; question, where do you go from here? Analyzing your internal processes as a consultant is a clever bit of method acting, and Purnima sold the room of Hult students on the concept through an involved debate.
Within the same “be your own consultant” mindset, Purnima hit her next major point: Figure out where you fit in the world. With the same SCQ approach, the Hult students engaged themselves in the thought exercise and determined what industry best suited their situation, talents, personality, and passion.
But the golden insight of the night—and a lesson worthwhile to just about everybody—was to simply stop trying too hard. To overcome Purnima’s fourth major obstacle, “Networking,” she suggested the tried-and-true approach of relaxing and simply being a good, friendly person. When you meet someone to network, don’t just sell yourself. Have a conversation, loosen up, tell a couple of jokes. “Become a nicer person,” she said, “stop selling so hard.” It is a lot easier to forge a relationship based on genuine understanding than an impersonal pitch.
Truthfully, there is no magic wand that one can wave to solve these problems. To solve problems this personal, deeply personal solutions are required.
But it can also be said that the root of all these obstacles is a need for flexibility and sharp adaptation to both external forces and internal roadblocks. If step one, as Purnima says, is to embody consulting, inside and out, then the Hult Consulting Club now has a leg up on the competition. And if you want to get on their level, too, check out Purnima’s entire presentation on slideshare
Leveraging Social Data for Brands: refine+focus CEO, Zachary Braiker speaks with CIO
Community managers have a lot of different backgrounds and skillets, but many of us share an interest in word choice. When representing a brand on social, searching for the words that create opportunities for engagement is not always easy due to the sheer amount of real-time data being generated.
Cold-EEZE, a cold remedy maker is one such client which we have helped break through the clutter by giving community managers the right tools to find people who are tweeting about cough and cold symptoms and helping them “Get Well Sooner”. By doing so, the company engages people at times when they are not only considering its category of products the most, but are likely to grateful for a brand that is listening.
Our CEO, Zachary Braiker was recently interviewed by CIO and spoke about the effectiveness of using simple tools such as Twitter’s native Search API for uncovering social data and fostering these types of genuine interactions. You can read the full article here.
Is Jux the Future of Blogging?
Here at refine+focus, we constantly seek out tools to help our clients tell the story of their brands. One of the newest ways to do so is Jux, an NYC web startup that revamps the old-fashioned text-based blog format, opting instead to give publishers a beautiful canvas to create posts with an interactive full-screen experience. Flash forward five years, are we looking at the incumbent Tumblr-killer?
Here are five reasons why I think Jux is the future of web publishing:
1 – It’s Blogging for the Tablet Era
With Jux, you turn your content into a visual, immersive, full-screen adventure that invites readers to sit back and enjoy. One of my friends recently used Jux to showcase his one-month trip through the Colorado. Using a series of Instagram photos sprinkled with some captions, he was able to share a presentation that looked like a documentary on my iPad. And to think that it only took him only 15 minutes to create!
2 – Meet High-Definition
You know that you’re creating a groundbreaking platform when you’re able to challenge the limits of what people thought was possible. Looking at a Jux presentation is what I would call an out-of-web experience; you won’t believe that all those high-resolution photos and videos you are seeing is from the internet. I predict early adopters flocking to Jux from the fashion, food and music world.
3 – Amplifying the Interest Graph
Imagine the power of Jux for social influencers who are currently telling the stories of their lives and preferences using existing web 2.0 tools such as Tumblr, Pinterest, etc. Social networking is not going anywhere but the next big thing is going to be platforms that give people new ways to share their interests. This is one small step for web publishing, but one giant step for your stamp collection.
4 – Made in New York City
It’s exciting to see a wave of startups with an emphasis on design/media congregating in NYC. The city has the gravitas for this type of undertaking, backed by the power of the city’s media machine. It would also be fitting to point out that NY is beginning to <3 startups. Past winners include Foursquare, Tumblr, TheLadders, Gilt, and SecondMarket.
5 – A New Type of Content
One of the reasons that Jux is special is because it takes past elements of the social web and forges something unique. As the Justice Stewart would say, “I know it when I see it.” The web gives us the global network that makes it seamless to spread new types of content. Just think viral videos, infographics, mashups, etc. I look forward to seeing whether or not Jux will succeed in attracting others to adopt this evolutionary way of blogging. Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think!
What is Reverse Engineering?
Reverse engineering. The term smacks of clandestine military operations, gleeful scientists in white coats, reversible programming. And indeed, the beauty of the reverse engineer is her ability to appropriate such images, his talent at moving from completion to the start. Simply put, reverse engineering is taking something apart to figure out how it works, in order then to duplicate it or make it somehow better. But at refine+focus we see reverse engineering as a mindset, a way of moving forward. We analyze desired outcomes and devise strategies to get you there. We use the knowledge of the past to bring us forward towards the future. William Blake wrote, “Without contraries is no progression,” and though we’re not sure what he would have thought of the modern world, the internet, and social media, we are happy to take our cues from a poet.
Here’s reverse engineering and some examples of how it really works:
Jerry cans: During the Second World War Allied forces found that German cars had superiorly designed gasoline cans. Working backwards from captured models, they created these better cans themselves. In homage, of a sort, they christened them “Jerry cans.”
Slater’s textile mills: At 10, in 1778, Samuel Slater was working in a cotton mill in England. By 21 he knew just as much as anyone in the country about the mechanics of textiles. In 1789, he jumped ship for New York, after memorizing the plans for the miraculous machines, and brought the industrial revolution to America, rebuilding the secret machines there. By the time he died he was master of 13 spinning mills and even had a town named after him: Slatersville, RI.
V2 Rockets: V2 Rockets were the first man-made objects to make it to outer-space, and the first long range ballistic missiles. During the beginning of World War II they were used by the Germans to target London. After the war, when British and American forces got hold of the missiles, they reverse engineered them for their own purposes, beginning the space race.
The Rosetta Stone: Created in Memphis in 196 BCE, rediscovered in 1799 by a French soldier during the construction of a fort, the stone has the same short text repeated in three different languages. After the ancient Greek was translated, it was short work to decipher the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, which allowed us access to a hitherto forgotten tongue. The term Rosetta Stone is now often used as a marker for the key to new areas of knowledge.
Calculus: Evaluating integrals, perhaps a high school or college student’s worst nightmare, is a practice in reverse engineering. To evaluate, the student needs to find the antiderivative of the integrand—in other words, the function that, when you take the derivative of it, becomes the integrand. It’s a reverse engineering process, starting from the end and working backwards.
The Fisher Space Pen Company: Legend has it that, during the space race, Soviet and American astronauts needed special writing utensils to write in space. The legend goes that the Americans spent boatloads of money on developing such a product, while the Soviets just used pencils. In reality, while pencils were used, their graphite dust and point shards can be dangerous in zero gravity. The Fisher Space Pen Company received no money from NASA, or even outright encouragement, but developed a product that they later convinced NASA to try. The need came first, and then the product answer.
How can reverse engineering help your company? What’s a new way for you to move forward? At refine+focus, we’re committed to all the ways of helping you succeed. Tell us where you want to go. It’s our business to get you there.