Monday, May 20, 2019

New INC Magazine Blog Post by Kaplan Institute Exec Director Howard Tullman

Stop Complaining You Can't Find Talent, and Start Looking in the Right Places. Here's How
Successful employers must make a real commitment to expand their college recruiting efforts.

Executive director, Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship, Illinois Institute of Technology

There's a sea change coming in college recruiting and, surprisingly enough, it's not one that is brought about by new technology. It's simply a result of the commonsense application by more and more employers of an old fisherman's rule: fish where the fish are. It saves time, wear and tear, and you get much better results. It's not a solution for everyone, but if you're tired of making the same old trips to the same old colleges and seeing the same young pale faces year after year, it might be just the right strategy for you.

I'm excited about this idea because it's going to be one of the things we'll be talking about during the talent panel that I'm joining on Tuesday morning in Chicago as part of Inc.'s Fast Growth Tour. The Kaplan Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship at Illinois Tech is one of the main sponsors of this event. For my two cents, I'm going to be focusing on the dramatic shifts which are now taking place in terms of where the smartest employers are starting to look for their new technical talent. It's not where you might expect and it's certainly not the way they've done business in the past.

I've spent a large part of the last year in my new role as Executive Director of Kaplan learning about and working with groups of highly motivated and well-trained student engineers, computer scientists and big data specialists who are getting ready to graduate and enter the workforce. An amazingly large percentage of these students are the first in their families to attend college and they're just as committed, hardworking and excited about the opportunities ahead of them as you might expect. And guess what? When they get their first critical (and life-changing job), they stick around. They're not job hoppers or kids with one foot out the door looking for their next gig. You get double bang for your buck--better recruitment and far stronger and longer retention.

The big difference (and their particular appeal apart from strong technical chops) is their diversity and for the tech students at IIT that's a key part of what's driving the new changes we're seeing on campus. Every employer I have talked to in the past 5 years (while I was running 1871) says they desperately want diverse technical talent and then they start whining that it's just so hard to find. I guess it's just a matter of knowing where you should be looking. And until these guys wake up, they're absolutely right to be complaining because they're not going to get any better or different results if they keep doing the same old stuff and looking in the same old places. They need to find a better place to fish.

The employers who are already ahead of the pack are making a serious and substantial change and a real commitment to refocusing their efforts and attention on those schools and universities whose students/graduates can help them meet their growing need for diverse talent across all the critical dimensions--gender, race, geography, etc.--and the institutions which can provide that essential help now. They have finally figured out that the talent they need to fill the jobs of the future isn't going to be found in the places they've looked in the past.

We're going to get further into this conversation during the panel and cover other issues as well around company culture and how to make sure that you spend some time "re-recruiting" your best existing employees so they'll stick around to share their experience and expertise and to give a helping hand to all the newbies. Hope to see you on the Fast Track in Chicago on Tuesday. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Loop North News : Let Me Spell It Out for You

Tullman: Let me spell it out for you
Today’s workers often don’t care if their presentations are free from spelling mistakes or improper grammar. But they shouldn’t assume that meaning is more important than wording. It’s not. Both are part of the vital process of building a corporate culture that sets high standards and gets the details right.

By Howard Tullman

19-May-19 – Certain stories and events, triumphs and disappointments, loves and losses stay with us for a lifetime. Because even as the details disappear, their messages and morals never lose their instructive impact and probative power.

And when we ourselves become educators or parents – just as the GEICO commercials suggest – we find to our amazement and amusement that we’re sedately mouthing old expressions and pithy pronouncements as if they were written on sacred stone tablets. This is one critical part of the age-old mystery of how our parents seemed so stupid when we were teens and became so much wiser as we aged.

We all have our own instances of these life lessons and, while they’re more powerful if we’ve lived through them ourselves, the fact is that sometimes even just a word or two – said in praise, haste, or anger – from a parent, coach, professor, or peer can be just as instructive and meaningful and stick with us for decades thereafter.

Other valuable lessons can come as readily from observation and education as from direct experience. People around us can be great behavioral examples or horrible warnings of exactly what not to do. One instance that I’ve never forgotten – and have explained to generations of employees – seemed trivial and maybe a little picky at the time, but the fundamental idea has stayed with me.

My high school daughter brought home a paper that she proudly noted was inscribed with an ‘A.’ She insisted that I read it immediately and so I tried to do just that. But there was a word misspelled in the first paragraph.

I soldiered on but soon tripped over two more spelling errors. I lost my train of thought and honestly much of my interest in continuing.

Ordinarily, we process meaning before details, but not when the intake process and our concentration are interrupted. I was, sadly, left to my own devices. Giving in to my worst lawyerly instincts, I grabbed a pen and circled the mistakes. And then I tried to finish the essay. But the thrill was gone, and I found myself wondering what kind of crappy teacher awards an ‘A’ for a paper full of spelling errors without even noting the mistakes?

My daughter wasn’t overly pleased with my persnickety approach and told me that, according to her teacher, “it was the thought that counts.”

I suddenly felt obliged, on behalf of all of us who believe that correct spelling and good grammar aren’t really editorial “choices,” to take issue with her teacher’s approach, which actually sounded more like an excuse for laziness on her part than any educational strategy or philosophy.

Proofreading – painstaking but important

Even the best writers – and I don’t claim to be one of them – and editors – ditto – make mistakes. Maybe you’ll find some in this column. But the point is we try to minimize them by proofreading. It’s one of those tasks that’s painstaking but important. You must pay attention and, of course, it helps to know how to spell. In the case of my daughter’s teacher, I wasn’t so sure she did either.

Keep in mind that these were the pre-spellcheck days, although I’m not sure that attempting to automate our shortcomings has really improved the situation too terribly much. Letting the machine do the heavy lifting and assume the blame for errors is just another excuse for our own lack of focus. Tightly focused attention is what ultimately facilitates real learning. When you concentrate on your work – regardless of how ordinary or repetitive the tasks may be – you enrich the effort and your actions take on new forms. You notice and attend to different things. Where the focus goes, energy flows.

The experience is very much like the first time that a beginning runner learns to manage and control her breathing and incorporates that behavior into her training. A new state of awareness is achieved and performance, as well as endurance, immediately improves. It’s a Zen-like state and all about the flow.

Massage and fondle the details

This awareness rarely happens by accident. It’s always a matter of application. I wanted my daughter to love writing as much as I did, and good writing is all about massaging and fondling the details – the individual words, the pace, and pauses – and then melding the ultimate accumulation of all those bits and pieces into a good story.

There’s a joy in the creative process and a satisfaction and pride in the result that is almost indescribable. But the best art in any form is always bound by constraints, and in writing, the precision and exactitude of the language are crucial.

The premise of the teacher’s suggestion was that the substance of the essay is more important than the form. Telling kids that the details don’t matter is as unhelpful and counterproductive to their education as anything I can imagine. Pretending that spelling and grammar are irrelevant in school and, more important, in the real world is flat-out foolish if not fraudulent. And it’s leading whole generations of kids down the wrong path.

This isn’t just a problem in high school. What’s scarier is that I see the same inattention in our colleges and in the workplace. Blaming the problems on technology such as autofill or autocorrect is no answer. And claiming that you don’t have the time to do things carefully and well is the worst excuse of all.

Apparently, most of the world is just too busy to worry about whether the proper word is hear/here, wear/where or their/there. We’re all consumed by busy-ness instead of taking care of business.

‘Good enough’ on a slippery, sloppy slope

Once you start to accept the idea that “almost right” is as good as it’s going to get, you are on a very slippery and sloppy slope. And that attitude is contagious. If “good enough” is the best you can expect from your people and becomes the standard, then pretty much anything goes. People figure there’s no reason to show up on time, pick up after themselves, do their homework or the research necessary to know what they’re talking about, carefully document their code and their transactions, or basically care that much about anything in the business. That would be asking way too much.

And slowly, your company’s culture crumbles. Values don’t break abruptly, they deteriorate unless you put a sharp stop to the process. And creating these values starts with sweating the small stuff because that’s the foundation of everything else that follows.

Do what must be done. When it must be done. As well as it can be done. Do it that way every day. For tasks large and small – important and seemingly insignificant as well.

You need to tell your people what’s expected of them in terms of day-in and day-out execution and then stick to your guns and demand compliance. Or you might as well pack it in. There’s never been a shortcut that was a good long-term investment in building a business. And, you’ll find that sticking to 100 percent of your principles and values is easier than sticking to 99 percent, because when you make the first exceptions and compromises, the cracks in the culture start to appear.

Now, this is not a simple black-and-white process, and sometimes the hardest thing to do is to reconcile your company’s conflicting goals and objectives. We want our people to move quickly, to make decisions on the front line, to exercise good judgment and initiative when necessary, and so on and so forth.

But we also expect them to be careful and thoughtful, to make sound decisions based on data and not emotions or outside pressures, and to always act first in the best interests of the customer.

The smartest thing that a confused newbie can do in a startup, where things are moving a mile a minute, is to ask someone for the right answer. The worst thing he or she can do is to guess – albeit guessing is quicker, easier, and less embarrassing – and then when things blow up, to blame the mistake on the desire to show initiative. Even if a particular guess turns out okay for the moment, adhering to the protocols and making the proper preparation is the right way to go in the long run.

Bottom line: everything starts with you. People pay far more attention to what you do than to what you say. They’ll all take their own behavioral cues from the ways you act and just how much attention you pay to the little things in the business that actually – cumulatively – matter the most.

Let me repeat: sweating the small stuff is worth the suffering. Cultures and values are fragile things – especially in startups – and they morph and are challenged daily. Life is easy when things are going well and much more difficult when the time comes for the toughest decisions and the buck stops with you.

If you don’t stick to your values in every instance when they’re tested – large and small – they aren’t really values. They’re hobbies.

By Howard Tullman | Loop North News |

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Dear Millennials: The Feeling Is Mutual

Dear Millennials: The Feeling Is Mutual

Joe Biden dares to take offense at those who specialize in being offended.

Opinion Columnist
·       May 17, 2019

Earlier this month, a video of Joe Biden saying he had “no empathy” for “the younger generation” that “tells me how tough things are” resurfaced on social media. The video was over a year old, but it elicited predictable howls from members of the dissed demographic. “Nothing says ‘perfect candidate to lead the most powerful nation in the world’ like ‘I have no empathy,’” wrote someone with the Twitter handle @anarchopriapism.

My own reactionary reaction was different. O.K., I thought, I could definitely vote for Joe — provided he has the mettle to stand his ground.

I’ve been saying for a while now that both parties could use a Sister Souljah moment, in which a candidate shows the intestinal fortitude to rebuke some obnoxious person or faction within his political base. Bill Clinton did it in 1992 after the recording artist Lisa Williamson asked, “If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?” Clinton called it out as an example of reverse racism and still went on to win 83 percent of the African-American vote.

In this election cycle, no faction on the Democratic side more richly deserves rebuking than the one Biden singled out — which is not, of course, anywhere close to the entire millennial generation (roughly 80 million strong), or their younger siblings in Gen Z. But it is that part of these younger generations that specializes in histrionic self-pity and moral self-righteousness, usually communicated via social media with maximum snark.

Gawker spawn and HuffPo twerps: This especially means you.

It also means all those who recklessly participate in the search-and-destroy missions of the call-out culture. These are the Harvard students who demanded, and last week obtained, the dismissal of law professor Ronald Sullivan and his wife Stephanie Robinson as faculty deans at an undergrad dorm because Sullivan had the temerity to join Harvey Weinstein’s defense team. They are the Middlebury students who in 2017 violently assaulted professor Allison Stanger for the crime of moderating a talk with Charles Murray. They are the Yale students who in 2015 surrounded and hounded professor Nicholas Christakis because he would not agree to their demands that he denounce his wife for believing in free speech.

The signature move in each of these instances (and there are so many more) is to allege an invisible harm in order to inflict an actual one. In place of an eye for an eye, we have professional destruction for emotional upset. Careers and reputations built over decades come to ruin, or nearly so, on account of a personal mistake or a disfavored opinion.

All of these struggle sessions play to the sound of chortling twenty-somethings, who have figured out that, in today’s culture, the quickest way to acquire and exercise power is to take offense. This is easy to do, because the list of sins to which one may take offense grows with each passing year, from the culturally appropriated sombrero to the traditionally gendered pronoun.

It’s also easy because the grown-ups rarely push back and, in fact, are often happy to go along. Not one of the students who joined the mob at Middlebury was expelled. And say what you will of the students who demanded the ouster of Sullivan and Robinson, they would have gotten nowhere without the weaselly connivance of Harvard Dean Rakesh Khurana, who discovered unspecified problems with the “climate” of the dorm in order to justify his verdict.

Which brings me back to Biden. The rap against the former veep is that he’s old, frequently puts his foot in his mouth, and occasionally says nice things about Republicans. Another way of putting all that is that he’s mature, unstudied, and not just another partisan hater
Also, he refused to beg forgiveness last month for being a tad too touchy-kissy. Maybe he should keep his hands in his pockets, but at least it means he isn’t prepared to capitulate to the icy codes of personal decorum written by people who don’t know the difference between exuberant human warmth and unwarranted sexual advances.

To which one can only say: Keep it up, Joe! He’s already leading all of his Democratic primary rivals in every demographic group save millennials (obviously), where Bernie Sanders has a narrow lead. He could make a virtue of the defect by emphasizing his distance from everything that defines the worst aspects of millennial culture — the coddled minds and censorious manner and inability to understand the way the world works. Does it ever occur to some of our more militant millennials that the pitiless standards they apply to others will someday be applied pitilessly to them?

The sensible center of America — that is, the people who choose presidents in this country — wants to see Donald Trump lose next year, but not if it means empowering the junior totalitarians of the left. Now is Biden’s chance to make it clear he’s just the man to fulfill that hope.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Great Event at Judson University with Mark Vargas Interviewing Mark Cuban

This Founder Got the Idea for a Multimillion-Dollar Company After Being in a Car Wreck

This Founder Got the Idea for a Multimillion-Dollar Company After Being in a Car Wreck
May 15, 2019


In 2011, Brad Weisberg co-founded Snapsheet — which uses technology to streamline the auto insurance claims process — and has led the company through multiple stages of rapid growth as its CEO. Snapsheet has raised $47.6 million in funding, according to CrunchBase, and was named one of the top fintech startups of 2018 by CB Insights. 
Each week, GOBankingRates sets out to discover what makes the people behind top companies tick. We like to call this series “Best in Business” — and Weisberg really is one of the best. He told us why time management is so vital when starting a company, how he keeps his employees engaged and motivated (gift baskets are involved!) and ways that you can find (or build) your own dream job, too. Below, find our favorite moments from the story of how Weisberg launched his business.
It All Started With a Car Accident
Years ago, I got into a car wreck. I took my car to three body shops, which resulted in three different estimates for the same damage to my car. All the body shops did was look at the damage and quickly put a number on a piece of paper. It took so much time and frustration to get the damage assessed, and there was no technology used throughout the process. It dawned on me that submitting a photo of the damage to the body shops through the use of technology would save time, costs and frustration. The result would be the same — a cost estimate to fix the car. This was the moment that Snapsheet was created. I knew then that a picture was worth a thousand words.
He Put His Life Savings on the Line
Failure was my biggest fear. My life savings were invested, and I jumped headfirst into Snapsheet. Once I had the initial idea, I spent time researching the market and the industry, as well as talking with body shops, friends and family to identify the challenges and the opportunities. I believed then, and I still believe now, that the harder you work, the more successful you can be.
It takes three times as much time and money as you would initially think. There is no such thing as an overnight success. If you perceive someone to have had quick success, you likely aren’t familiar with their backstory. So many business owners have been working at it for more than 10 years, hitting many challenges and roadblocks along the way, until they are externally perceived as successful.
Time management was the hardest part of going from the concept to actual business. In the early days of Snapsheet, I was working two jobs, selling real estate while I was getting Snapsheet off the ground. When you are the only employee at a founding company, there are so many roles you need to be focused on, such as raising money and building the product. It’s important to prioritize your tasks but stay committed to each piece of the business puzzle. Once you can start hiring a team to put in functional roles, the time management piece gets easier.
He Built His Company Based on the Idea That You Can Always Do Better
In previous jobs, people that I worked with never pushed the envelope. They stuck to the same processes that turned into the same results. At Snapsheet, our motto is, “There has got to be a better way.” I believe that there has to be a better way to do everything in life, and we should always be exploring other opportunities to do just that. We encourage innovation and challenge the status quo.
The culture of a company is extremely important for the success of a company. I wanted to build a company where I was surrounded by passionate and motivated team members that enjoyed coming to work each day. Nearly 50 percent of Snapsheet employees work remotely. To keep the team engaged, we work hard at building a culture that makes them feel appreciated. Being transparent is one of my biggest priorities as a business leader. Snapsheet’s entire executive team ensures that our colleagues understand what we are doing, why we are doing it and where we are going. Each person understands why they are important to our team, but also to helping us achieve our goals.
We also make sure to add in a bit of fun for both the employees [that work] in the office and [those] that work remotely. On top of the lunches and happy hours, we send monthly themed gift baskets that keep up the excitement about being a part of Snapsheet.
He Views Success as an Ever-Moving Target
I consistently challenge myself against achieving success. Success to me is defined by many things. Success is bringing my team happiness and fulfillment when they come to work every day. I feel proud of creating more than 500 jobs for people, as we work together for one common mission and dream.
At Snapsheet, we set high targets and challenging goals. When we reach those, we celebrate together. The next morning, we roll up our sleeves and raise the bar. Fortunately, we have had many milestones to celebrate over the years. We look forward to many more achievements in our future.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Chicago cybersecurity firm expanding as companies seek protection from hackers

Chicago cybersecurity firm expanding as companies seek protection from hackers

Darren Guccione, CEO and co-founder of cybersecurity firm Keeper Security, said demand from small- to medium-sized business is driving Keeper's growth. (Keeper Security)

Top of Form
Cybersecurity firm Keeper Security is set to triple its employee count in Chicago and move to a bigger office space later this summer, as demand grows for software that protects businesses from hackers.
The Chicago-based company launched in 2011 offering a password manager for consumers. Five years later, it rolled out a similar product for businesses that helped ensure employees’ passwords were strong and that their information had not been hacked.
Demand for that product among small- to medium-sized businesses is driving Keeper’s growth, said CEO and co-founder Darren Guccione.
“They need a cybersecurity platform that protects their businesses against a password-related security breach,” Guccione said. Small- and medium-sized businesses “are the ones being attacked the most because they tend to lack IT infrastructure and IT staff.”
Keeper has about 150 full-time employees worldwide, about 60 of whom are in its Chicago headquarters. It also has offices in California and Ireland. Guccione said he expects headcount in Chicago to increase to about 190 in the next six months.
The company is moving its West Loop headquarters to a space in the building next door that is roughly three times larger than its current office and has an option to expand, Guccione said.
Keeper’s Chicago employees work mainly in sales, marketing and customer service. Its software engineers work mostly out of the California office.

Password-security company boosting space, tripling local staff

Password-security company boosting space, tripling local staff
Keeper, which got its start with consumers, is getting a boost from the B2B market. 

Keeper Security’s move into the corporate market appears to be paying off.
The password-security software company is moving into larger space in Greektown and plans to triple its headcount in Chicago, hiring 130 people here by year-end. 
The company outgrew its space at 850 W. Jackson Blvd., so it’s moving next door to 820 W. Jackson, where it leased 16,000 square feet, with an option for another 5,000.
Keeper was founded in 2011 as a consumer product, but it’s getting a boost from the corporate market. Headcount doubled last year, says CEO Darren Guccione.
Keeper has 145 employees, including 60 in Chicago. The rest are in Northern California, where its technology team is based, and Cork, Ireland.
Most of the new hires in Chicago will be in enterprise sales. Guccione says Keeper has nearly 7,000 corporate customers, mostly small and midsize businesses.
“Keeper Security, like many password managers, gained popularity in the consumer space and is now jumping to the enterprise market," said Karl Sigler, threat intelligence manager at Trustwave, a Chicago-based computer-security company. "This makes sense because passwords are not only some of the most sought-after pieces of data when thieves attack, weak passwords are often the reason why a breach occurs in the first place."
The password-security industry is heating up. SolarWinds, an IT software maker based in Austin, Texas, recently bought Canadian password-security manger Passportal for an undisclosed price. 

Kaplan Exec Director Howard Tullman Speaks on WIND Morning Answer Show


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