What We’re Reading: Business and Technology Edition

Catch up on your reading with these hand-picked posts

What We’re Reading: Business and Technology Edition

We’ve tracked down a handful of interesting, surprising, useful, and even inspiring articles from recent weeks that you might have missed.

From a new paradigm in management coaching to why you shouldn’t put your customers first to a truly delightful way to deal with a lost iPad, these are the articles you’ve been meaning to read. Here’s your chance!

How Former Google and Apple Exec Kim Scott Is Curing the World of Horrible Bosses

Julie Bort of Business Insider traces the fascinating journey of Kim Scott, who is now launching a startup called Radical Candor:

“Twitter’s then-CEO Dick Costolo, having looked for a coach among ‘the usual suspects,’ turned to her, his friend, and said, ‘I like talking to you about this management stuff more than these people, why don’t you become my coach?’”

Unexpected as it was, that’s probably not the most unusual thing that’s ever happened to her. Bort traces her unique past, including a stint living off potatoes in Moscow and getting a Harvard MBA alongside Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg.

With Radical Candor, Bort explains, Kim Scott intends to change the culture of management with employee feedback, coaching, and an end to “ruinous empathy.”

Read the full story here »

8 Tips for Marketing to Millennials Online

CIO’s Jennifer Schiff looks at what it takes to connect with this audience. Heard enough about millennials lately? Before you move on, consider a figure that Schiff offers: they “are spending some $600 billion annually.” In other words, it’s worth it to keep reading.

Schiff shares insights from a variety of creative and business leaders. The key themes: Authenticity, dialogue, and being extra-strategic about the types of media you use to target millennials.

For example, she points out, many millennials would rather hear from their favorite brands via text than any other medium — and “it’s driving revenue through the roof,” according to Consumer Affairs’ Danica Jones.

But millennials aren’t necessarily looking for polished, perfect content. They may actually prefer content that’s been generated by…users just like them. Schiff cites Goodvidio’s Dimitrios Kourtesis: “User-generated content is like a magnet.”

In other words, this highly engaged audience is enthusiastic about engaging. Understanding who they are and what they’ll respond to — even if it’s a departure from what you might be used to — is the key.

Read the full story here »

Why Not Putting Your Customers First Is the Key to Keeping Them Happy

As someone who grew up in Central New York, I’m still a giant fan of Wegmans, the much-loved supermarket chain. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve noticed that other East Coasters out here immediately smile when they hear the name.

So why is Wegmans so beloved? The biggest reason: they treat their employees well. Really well. And for years, that has translated into an outstanding experience for customers.

Jacob Morgan, author of The Future of Work, explains how an employees-first approach leads to fantastic customer service. He states it boldly: “It’s impossible to create great customer experiences,” he says, “without first creating great employee experiences.”

In the article, Morgan examines how culture, technology, and physical space all factor into the “employee experience equation.”

“We assume that so much of customer satisfaction and happiness is outward facing, when the reality is that organizations also must look inward to create employee experiences,” writes Morgan. It’s a valuable reminder for every business.

Read the full story here »

How to Communicate IT Concepts to Non-IT Minded People

If you’ve ever sighed in weariness after trying in vain to explain a simple technical concept to a colleague, this article series is for you. And if you’re one of those colleagues, it’s for you too!

For this thought-provoking 3-part series, Christina Wang of BetterCloud brought in guest experts: Jonathan Feldman, award-winning writer and Asheville, NC’s CIO; Miguel Jacq, who leads the Melbourne-based sysadmin consultancy mig5; and Teresa Banks, Information Security and Compliance Programs manager at the University of Arizona.

In part one, the experts took a broad look at communicating IT concepts to a general audience. The general consensus? Keep it relevant, keep it simple — and make it fun.

“No one cares about the server,” Feldman says. “They care about the service they receive.” Metaphors and analogies were popular choices (Jacq calls himself “an internet plumber,”) and Banks describes a lively campaign she led for stakeholders called “The Spy Who Hacked Me.”

In parts two and three, they take on two related questions: How do you communicate IT concepts to C-level execs…and how do you actually implement best practices in your organization?

Read the full story here »

How to Get the Most From Your Activity Tracker and Other Fitness Gadgets

Full disclosure: We had a step-tracking contest at Redbooth not too long ago, involving both our Redwood City, CA and Barcelona offices. It got pretty competitive — and since we’re a data-driven bunch with plenty of analytical types, a lot of interesting questions came up.

So questions about fitness trackers are still fresh in our minds, which makes Jill Duffy’s analysis of fitness tracking technology even more pertinent: Are the step trackers really accurate? What about the heart rate tracking? And if I don’t have a fitness tracker on my wrist, should I go out and buy one?

Duffy’s analysis takes on all of these questions and more. She also highlights ways to quantify and track your experiences outside of steps, including the coolest sleep-tracking device we’ve ever seen.

Oh, and if you’re agitated about whether your device is tracking your steps precisely? Don’t worry so much, says Duffy: “Fitness trackers aren’t perfect, but they don’t need to be for you to get what you need out of them.”

Read the full story here »

Get Ready for the World to Be Covered in Electronic Ink

Chances are that you spend a large portion of your day looking at a screen of some kind — computer, tablet, smartphone, television. Not surprisingly, I’m looking at a monitor and a laptop screen right now.

But what if there were another kind of screen — or even “ink” — that was getting ready to take over? Okay, no one’s saying that electronic ink is going to replace those bright, shiny screens we’re used to. But its use is growing.

In Wired, David Pierce tracks the increasing popularity of electronic ink, along with the varied uses for it. If you have a Kindle — the kind designed for reading books, not downloading Prime movies — then you’ve spent a lot of time reading electronic ink. “Eventually, you stop thinking about the Kindle as a screen altogether,” writes Pierce. “It’s just a book.”

Pierce tracks the places where you may start finding electronic ink, from the back (yes, the back) of your cell phone to the price tags in a store.

“Everywhere you see paper,” Pierce writes, “imagine a world where it’s replaced by a tiny screen that draws almost no power, looks like paper, and is fully interactive. That world is coming…and it’s coming faster than you think.”

Read the full story here »

Here’s How You Handle a Lost iPad Gracefully

Speaking of staring at screens — even if you don’t technically love your iPhone, it can feel that way sometimes. Plus you’ve got half your digital life (or more) running on your device. So losing it can make you, well, lose it.

ZDNet Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan chronicles an entirely different approach to dealing with a lost iPad. When CNET co-founder Shelby Bonnie left his iPad on a plane, he didn’t respond by melting down. Quite the opposite, in fact.

According to Dignan, Bonnie was tracking his iPad location electronically — and “decided to have some fun and entertain everyone connected to him on Facebook for a week.”

He goes on to report on the various locations that the iPad visited, including a golf club in Memphis. When the iPad finally arrived at a house in Florida, “he sent five Mylar balloons to his iPad, which was hanging by the pool in Miami Lakes, FL.”

Whether the new owner of the iPad had a desire to reciprocate after the balloon delivery or simply pangs of guilt is unclear — but what is clear is that the iPad made it back to the airport and ended up back, safe and sound, with Bonnie.

Read the full story here »
Have you come across an article we should be writing about? Tweet us @RedboothHQ or let us know in the comments below.