How to Become a Great Boss Your Employees Will Love

happy employees looking up at the camera

Bosses sometimes let their need to get results get in the way of being nice to their employees and forging a close bond. However, some leaders maintain this friendliness and approachability while still getting everything done—these are the truly great leaders of the world.

One of these is Keith Krach, who was recently recognized as a Bay Area Most Admired CEO with the “Game Changer” award from the San Francisco Business Times. “Keith is a passionate leader known to attract top talent, build high-performance teams, and inspire a shared vision focused around customer success,” said Rick Smith, Equifax CEO. “He is a front and center leader who puts everyone—customers, employees, partners, and the community around him—ahead of himself. Keith’s legacy as a great coach and mentor is evident in the results of both the companies he’s led and the teams he’s developed.”

That’s some high praise for a CEO, and it embodies the fact that CEOs can be leaders of the people while also keeping the business afloat. So how can you become a great leader that your employees like and look up to? Here are a few tips to help you on your way.

Don’t be a jerk

Okay, this is obvious. But it’s worth mentioning because of the huge amount of harm that can come from yelling, paranoia, disparaging your employees, or publicly reprimanding them. These types of actions set your relationship with your employees in an unfriendly and almost confrontational way. You’ll never get anywhere if you let these habits slip into your managerial style.

Be genuine

This just comes down to being honest and respectable. When you give your word that you will complete a task, do you best to follow through and make it happen. Also just be yourself around your employees—they will appreciate that you are willing to speak to them person-to-person instead of just as a boss speaking to their subordinate.

As much as possible, be transparent

People respect and trust others they know are honest with them. Aiming for complete transparency with your employees is the ultimate goal for achieving this type of respect among your employees. While the size of your business might preclude you from getting face time with every single employee, try to keep people that need to be in the know as informed as you can be reasonably expected to.

Your employees are people

This is what it ultimately comes down to—never forget that your employees are people with feelings, motivations, and desires of their own. They work very hard everyday to keep your business humming, so be mindful of asking too much of them and be open when they ask for time off or reasonable changes to the workday.

Check out this article from Harvard Business Review for some further reading!

Words to Avoid in Job Interviews

man with head in hands at job interview

Interviewing for jobs can be many things: scary, exhilarating, nerve-wracking, incendiary. But how many of those words should you use in the interview? Not many of them. It’s important that you think through what you speak, and never at a better time. Here are some of the things you should avoid saying during a job interview–they could break the deal.


Avoid that very word. Avoid other, similar words: salary, compensation, pay, or any other words in this family. Don’t talk about money in the interview unless you are asked. If you do, it can seem like you’re just there for a paycheck, and companies are more interested in people who want to actively contribute and be part of a team. You also want to avoid asking about vacation time, paid time off, or sick time.


Avoid using negative language in your interview, even if you’re discussing a difficult situation or a past employer–what you say about a former office might indicate how you speak about a new one. And if you use negative words, the interviewer might associate them with you.


This one is interesting. Including this word in statements, such as, “actually, I did not do that,” or “actually, that was not my fault” can “put distance between you and the listener by hinting that they were somehow wrong,” says Carolyn Kopprasch, chief happiness officer at Buffer. “Rephrase to create a more positive sentiment.”


Even if you are nervous, and you probably are, don’t mention it. Remember the old adage “never let them see you sweat?” That’s applicable to job interviews. Admitting that you’re nervous speaks to a lack of confidence, and employers want to hire people who believe they can do the job. This is a good instance where “fake it ’til you make it” is actually good advice.


Unless you’re directly asked, don’t bring up weaknesses or past mistakes. If you expect to be asked about mistakes or weaknesses, this is a smart question to come into the interview with an answer prepared. Whatever you say should be framed as a learning experience that helped you grow, and how you handled the problem should make you look like a smart, great candidate.

Keep this in mind the next time you interview. Good luck!

A Pie Story

A lowly, largely-ignored Walmart pie has now turned into one of its best-sellers. Singer James Wright posted a review of the$3.48 Patti LaBelle sweet potato pie, released to Walmart stores in September, and the video racked up millions of views within days. Now, the pie is hard to find in actual stores, and some people are turning a profit by selling the pies for as much as $40 on eBay.

In the video, Wright breaks into song after tasting the pie (and he’s a great singer), speaks to the pie, and claims that you will “turn into Patti” once you too have eaten the pie. Now, Walmart is struggling to keep the pies in stock. “We are working very hard with our supplier to try and produce more product,” says Kerry Robinson, the company’s vice president of bakery and deli goods. “We’re in the process of securing another 2 million pounds of sweet potatoes.”

So why the sudden need for these specific pies? There are other popular seasonal options, like pumpkin and pecan. But LaBelle’s pie has more cultural significance: Syreeta Gates, a hopeful pie-purchaser, says that the pie is really about celebrating black culture. “I’m sure a lot of our grandmas can make sweet potato pies that are equivalent, if not possibly better, than Patti LaBelle’s pies,” she says, “but this is the first time in a real way that the community–black people, or people of color–have communed together around food via the Internet.” Gates adds that buying the pies feels like “breaking bread” together with the community.

Getting to participate in something of such social value feels to Gates like Thanksgiving, like a treat.

Soraya Nadia McDonald, a reporter from The Washington Post decided to try an experiment. She called her local Walmart store to ask if they had the now-famous sweet potato pie. Before McDonald even finished her question, the employee replied, “The sweet potato pie? No, we’re sold out. You’re the 79th person to call today asking about the pie. Yesterday it was even worse!”

Patti LaBelle placed a personal call to Wright to thank him for the video. “She kept thanking me and she kept telling me how much she loved me and she just kept telling me to be me,” Wright said. “She was like, ‘boy, you can sang!’”

Going Public? Here’s What’s Next

man speaking to audience in auditorium

So you’ve decided that the time has come for you to take your company public. You think you have the right amount of revenue and visibility, and of course investors are going to want in on what you’re selling. Even if the market isn’t great, you think now is the best time to make an IPO. If you want to take the plunge and go public, there are a few things you’re going to need to keep in mind.

First, legendary private equity expert Henry Kravis urges you not to go public unless you have a really, really good reason. His words ring especially true if your company lucky enough to be called a “unicorn,” a company with a valuation of a billion dollars or more. While Kravis understands that some companies can soar after making an IPO, many of them don’t—so proceed with caution.

If you know your company has a good reason to go public, then you can start to consider what that would look like for your company and what your team will need. Start recruiting or rounding up your best bankers, legal counsel, auditors, and stock transfer agents to help you in the IPO process. It can take a long time to find all the right people for your business, so remember to be patient. If you rush an IPO, it won’t go well.

Additionally, you’ll also need financial advisers and a solid management team. It takes a literal village to execute an IPO effectively, so don’t skimp on capable personnel.

Have your team evaluate all the obstacles you are likely to encounter. Prepare for the best, but plan for the worst, says Adam J. Epstein, author of The Perfect Corporate Board: A Handbook for Mastering the Unique Challenges of Small-Cap Companies. It doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan, especially as your company is likely to undergo many changes before the long, long road to an IPO is reached, both for your team and your business model.

Epstein says that most pre-IPO companies “tend to underestimate the time, pressure, and expense of being a public company.” Many teams lack the necessary corporate finance acumen to make the move, so train your team up with the proper skills. Then, even if you trust your team and your business’s ability to adapt, do not miscalculate what a long and expensive process making an IPO will be.

Common mistakes to avoid include outsourcing of the S-1 drafting process instead of doing it yourself, says Epstein. Don’t fail to “appreciate that public companies are graded just as much on forecasting the future as reporting the past,” and remember that you will be very closely scrutinized, both through the process and after. If you aren’t ready for that kind of critique, the time may not be as ripe as you thought to make an IPO.

But if you are ready, exercise sound judgment, flex your business acumen, and hire the right people—then you might really get somewhere.

Hackers Brought Up on Charges


Three hackers have been charged with 23 counts of crimes against 12 different companies. Those companies include nine financial services companies and several media outlets, including Scotttrade and The Wall Street Journal.

Among the crimes they committed, the hackers manipulated stocks, sold information to other criminals, laundered money through at least 75 shell companies, and even manipulated bitcoin trade. They had been at it since 2007, and have exposed the personal information of more than 100 million people. According to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch this is one of the biggest thefts of financial-related date that has ever occurred.

Two of the men have been captured, while another remains at large. Two of the men are from Israel, and the third, who remains at large, is from the United States but lives in Tel Aviv, Israel and Moscow, Russia. They set up their operations to use a computer server based in Egypt, which was rented under an alias.

Hackers are, of course, famous as anti-heroes in popular fiction, and for many people, they seem to have taken on a sort of mythological status, like they only exist within that fiction. But hackers very much are real, and most of them don’t spend their time fighting against evil governments or mega-corporations. Most of them, like these men and two accomplices based in the United States, do what they do in order to steal from other people.

In this case, the 100 million people who were affected by these hackers stand to lose a great deal. Most of their information was likely sold to other criminals, who subsequently used their credit card or other personal information to commit various kinds of fraud. These hackers seem to have been rather more interested in manipulating the money of big companies and stealing financial data.

The trial should be an interesting one to follow, once it begins, and something that people should be paying attention to.

UPS to Team Up With Local Retailers for Package Pick-Up

delivery man handing package to customer

United Parcel Service, better known as UPS, is hoping that a number of small retailers can help them make it through the Christmas season this year without suffering a loss. Last year, the company didn’t do as well as they had hoped, and this year, they are unrolling a much larger version of their Access Point program that they had tested in a few cities.

The Access Point network allows them to drop packages intended for home delivery at a local business, so customers can pick them up there. They try to make home delivery, of course, but after one attempt, the package will be taken to the access point. Normally, they would make one to three attempts before taking it to a UPS warehouse, where customers could stand in line and pick up their package. But nobody likes doing that.

What’s more, home deliveries are expensive and time consuming, because densely populated areas tend not to be as conducive to the big brown trucks that UPS uses. Leaving their regular routes means drivers have to spend more time finding the place than it is sometimes worth.

The Access Point network might solve some of those problems, and for some of the 8,000 retailers, in 100 cities across the country, it might be a boon. Getting customers into the store could mean more sales, then or in the future, from customers who might not have visited in the first place. For some stores, this is already a reality.

Of course, it’s also inconvenient for the UPS customer, and maybe for the store as well. The stores aren’t making money off holding these packages, and if people come in to get them, they can distract form actual customers. If they have to wait too long they might decide the store isn’t worth visiting again, meaning that being in the Access Point network costs stores sales.

UPS will be waiting with baited breath, as will their investors, to see how the program works out over this holiday season.

What Companies Should Do In The Next Banking Crisis

bank sign on building

In 2008 the world economy experienced its most treacherous crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, resulting in businesses going into a tailspin. In order to recover, companies were forced to scramble for support to generate new business and for capital expenditures. This also led to lenders cutting back dramatically. In addition to stock markets dropping worldwide (and threatening the collapse of a number of large financial institutions), the housing market suffered significantly, which caused foreclosures, evictions, and unemployment.

Many believe that there will be a financial crisis within the next few years, including Chris Flowers, a US private equity investor specializing in financial services.

What could companies do differently in the next inevitable bank crisis to avoid a major downturn?

Be extremely cautious
Even for companies that have not yet been affected by the crisis, the economy ultimately have an impact. The crisis will eventually affect just about every business in the country, as the forecast of money in the short and medium term will be vital. Income and expenses should not be neglected. Instead, closely monitoring market developments and sales should be a top priority.

Cut back
According to Harvard Business School Assistant Professor Claudia Steinwender, who has been involved with the policy response to the crisis in Spain, businesses should cut down on investments that have longer-horizon payoffs and favor shorter-term investments. “When you hit a crisis, cut back on what you can but not on what you need,” Steinwender advises.

Have alternative options
Not all companies are created equal. Companies with alternative financing resources (for example, multinational firms with access to foreign capital) can recover more quickly than companies dependent on local financing. Looking for more diversification in terms of financing sources rather than depending heavily on the local economy is highly recommended for better positioning to weather the next crisis.

Don’t neglect communication
In times of a crisis it’s especially important to properly manage communications with those surrounding you. This includes employees, management, customers, suppliers, and stakeholders. Silence is perceived as an indiscriminate release of information. Instead, businesses should manage both internal and external communication, making sure all parties are informed of developments that affect the organization (in addition to the processes that are being executed in relation to them).

Activision Blizzard Buys Out King Digital Entertainment

King Digital Entertainment, the company which created the wildly popular mobile games Candy Crush and Candy Crush Saga, was recently purchased by Activision Blizzard, the company responsible for Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. Activision Blizzard now owns three of the most popular, mostly widely played video games in the entire world. But acquiring King Digital did cost them $5.9 billion.

To put that into context: Microsoft only paid $2.2 billion for Mojang, the company that makes Minecraft, and Electronic Arts only paid $750 million for PopCap, who created Plants vs. Zombies and Bejeweled, the game that Candy Crush is, nominally, a rip-off of. Disney didn’t even pay that much to buy LucasArts.

So it’s a pretty huge deal and one which will give Activision Blizzard access to more than half a billion active users in 196 countries. That’s a huge audience, which is a good deal for them, because those are people who are going to be more willing to try their other games, and more likely to pay attention to new titles from the same company.

Of course, the video game industry keeps getting smaller with acquisitions like this, and that has some gamers and publishers worried. Like television, newspapers, or book publishing, there are an increasingly small number of giants who have all the power, while small companies keep springing up to publish titles that wouldn’t get made elsewhere. Until those titles become wild successes and the company gets bought out.

Being owned by Activision Blizzard likely won’t change Candy Crush or King’s other games very much, though it will make it easier to develop new titles. At the same time though, it will mean those new titles will need more appeal from the beginning in order to get approved and developed in the first place. After all, Activision didn’t get big enough to buy King by trying new things, but by hitting on a model people liked, like Call of Duty, and running with it.

“Do Not Track” Rules Lose Traction

business meeting

The FCC ruled against advocates of “Do Not Track” rules for internet companies. The phrase “do not track” refers to requests by users that services like Facebook or Google not track their viewing or browsing habits. Tracking data like this is how those kinds of services know what sites you’ve viewed in the past, and therefor what kinds of ads to show you in the future. It can be very annoying, and for people concerned about privacy, a serious violation.

There are, as it stands, no rules on record that require websites to abide by such requests. You can ask Facebook all you want not to track your data, but chances are they’ll ignore you. Some sites do, but for many, it’s not in their interest. A lot of sites and the companies that own them make not inconsiderable amounts of money by tracking user searches and other data, consolidating that information, and then selling it.

It’s not so much that they’re telling Company X what User A is doing, because Company X doesn’t much care about what kinds of porn or cat pictures User A looks at. What they care about is that people are viewing their website, shopping at their online store, or could be convinced, with a well placed add, to do those things.

Privacy concerns stem from a fear that, if the government, for example, wanted to find out what User A was searching for, they could do that, and then go after them for said searches. That’s not terribly likely in the United States, unless User A is already under investigation. But in other countries it might be used as a tool of oppression, and there is still the concern than hackers could get that information and use it against people, regardless of where they live.

For now though, privacy loses out to business.

Investing Advice from the Bigwigs

investing advice

Big names in the financial world are a great place to look for ideas about potentially solid investments. We can’t all be Dan Loeb, Seth Klarman, or David Einhorn, but we can learn from where their companies choose to invest their time, energy, and money.

For Dan Loeb’s Third Point, the investment focus lately has been on medical company Baxter International and flooring maker Mohawk Industries. These companies personify what Loeb has noted as the most important factors in his investments—strong management teams, free cash flow, and a proven track record of capital allocation that raises the value per share.

Third Point had a 7% stake in Baxter International in August, which made it the largest single investor in the company. Since then, Third Point’s stake has risen to 9.9%.

Loeb’s approach with Baxter has been far less aggressive than his usual MO—he praised outgoing CEO Robert Parkinson for his business decisions, including spinning off a pharmaceutical subsidiary Baxalta in June. In return, Baxter has granted Loeb’s request for two seats on the company’s board as the search for a new CEO begins. Loeb hopes to ride the gains to be found in supporting a pharmaceutical company as the world’s Baby Boomer population continues to age.

Third Point’s interest in Mohawk Industries, based in Georgia, began in the fourth quarter of 2014, when the stock was averaging around $145 a share. Subsequently, Loeb raised his stake twice, making Mohawk the fifth-largest holding in Third Point’s portfolio at 4.3%. So far, so good: shares are now at about $194.

As with Baxter, Loeb is taking a softer approach to Mohawk. Rather than trying to oust the CEO, he actually referred to the company as being “exceptionally well managed,” noting that CEO Jeff Lorderbaum “has created a culture and a system of processes that allows Mohawk to gain scale by empowering local managers to pursue acquisitions and capacity expansions.”

Obviously big-time investors like Loeb and his compatriots aren’t all right all the time; however, by looking at the businesses and company traits they gravitate toward, newer investors can learn a lot about what’s a sure shot and what’s more of a risk.


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