How Gwyneth Paltrow’s Company Goop Used Content to Triple Its Revenue

Most companies get that producing valuable, relevant, and timely content is a smart growth strategy. Gary Vaynerchuk and a Harvard professor even went as far to say that every company should behave as a media company, by producing content on a consistent basis.

There’s plenty of data to back up why content marketing should be a staple within your marketing mix, including one of my favorites: for every dollar spent on email marketing, it gives back $44. Statistics like these are why one report showed that marketing leaders will spend 75 percent of their total budget on digital marketing, rather than traditional marketing.

Even though the promise of content marketing is strong, there are plenty of companies that struggle to realize the benefits of it. Thus, when there are shining examples of businesses who use this strategy effectively, it is good practice to learn from their approach so you can apply relevant principles to your own efforts.

Goop, is a lifestyle brand founded by actress Gwyneth Paltrow in 2008. What began as a weekly newsletter where she shared recipes, interviews with industry experts, and travel recommendations, has now grown into a 150-person company that tripled its year-on-year growth in 2017.

The Goop team attributes the content they produce as a major driver of that growth. Elise Loehnen, Goop’s Chief Content Officer, told me that their success with content marketing boils down to a commitment to two key principles.

1. Talk to your customers like friends.

Grammy-award winning singer Rihanna has built a worldwide fanbase for both her music as well as for the various products that fall under her empire. Her secret to attracting raving fans globally, is to treat her customers like her friends.

Goop follows the same philosophy. Loehnen notes:

That’s really what we focused on is talking to our readers the way that we would talk to our smartest friends and giving them all the context, all the information that they would need to feel like they’re making a great decision or a great purchase.

Business is about belonging. And when you treat your customers like beloved friends who belong with you, then you’re able to deliver the information they most want, need, and will respond to.

That’s because friends have a degree of intimacy with each other that helps them know how to communicate, without you having to explicitly say it. You use the same words, slang, you know when they need tough love, a funny pick-me-up, a hug, or even when to leverage your resources to get them the answers they need to their most pressing problems.

I recommend clients get to know their customers as well as they know their friends, by spending time with them, the same way they do their friends. That means talking to your customers on a regular basis and immersing yourself into their world to develop empathy for their situation.

2. Invest in high-quality content creators.

Content in all mediums is easier to produce now than it has ever been. And there is also more content available now than there has ever been.

Thus if you want the media you produce to stand out with your ideal customer, you’ve got to create quality content they want to consume.

Lohnen explained that has been Goop’s approach from the beginning.

Instead of just asking an intern to do it, if you want someone to spend the time to read it, make sure it’s worth reading and invest in high-quality content teams. There is an art to it. Don’t just slap stuff up on the web and hope that the SEO algorithm takes care of you. Create something that’s worth reading…I think that’s what I see is just people being like, ‘content is content, we’ll just make content.’ It’s like, ‘no, make good content. 

Making good content doesn’t have to cost a lot of money either. When you are thoughtful about how to tackle the problems your content solves, elaborate photo shoots, or highly produced videos or podcasts aren’t always necessary.

I used to do writing projects for clients before I fully transitioned into strategy consulting. I was always floored by how little some companies were willing to invest in content creation, even though they wanted it to deliver big results. Thankfully, there are plenty of companies who value the craft and invest in it heavily as a means to win more customers.

That’s why Netflix signed a $100-million deal with Shonda Rhimes, creator of ABC powerhouses such as Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder, to develop premium content for the streaming service.

You can grow your business with content. Follow the lead of Goop and others to make sure that what you produce produces dividends for you.

Misusing Data Could Be Costing Your Business. Here’s How

Businesses are happy to have more data about their operations, customers, and the results of strategy implementation. The only problem is that, once they have it, they may not know exactly what to do with all that information.

Not knowing the best way to read, understand, and apply data can actually be costing your business. Those costs could take the form of lost revenue opportunities, lower efficiency and productivity, quality issues, and more. For example, Forrester reports that between 60 percent and 73 percent of all data within an enterprise goes unused for analytics. And that’s despite the fact that more companies are talking about big data, using technology to capture more data, and acknowledging the value of this information.

The Costs of Misused Data

Today many industrial and manufacturing companies are using equipment that records vast volumes of sensor data. Unfortunately, these same companies are not putting that data to good use. One costly area they should be targeting is downtime, which can happen suddenly and cause a huge hit to productivity. If companies were using their data to predict downtime, they could plan appropriately and maintain, or even increase, productivity.

Now, it’s not that companies are intentionally misusing their data. They are simply trying to understand what it is that they have, which is understandable considering the high volumes of complex data their equipment is pumping out. Locating and predicting anomalies that would lead to downtime may feel akin to uncovering the proverbial needle in a haystack. Determining what anomalies to look for is the first challenge to overcome, and from there, you would need to know where to look within the data.

Better Ways to Use Data

Fortunately, there are ways to recognize these mistakes and leverage technology for increased financial returns. In its e-book Anomaly Detection Prediction Decoded: 6 Industries, Copious Challenges, Extraordinary Impact, DataRPM, a Progress company and cognitive disruptor, discusses how six key industries have struggled to use data correctly and what they could change in order to reap its benefits.

This includes applying technology like cognitive predictive maintenance for the Industrial Internet of Things, which can help companies gain insights from patterns in the available data. Detecting anomalies before they lead to costly downtime results in reduced costs and maximized profitability throughout a company’s operations.

According to DataRPM’s findings, “The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is unlocking new possibilities for asset-intensive industries like manufacturing, aviation, oil and gas, automotive, transportation and logistics, and energy and utilities.” Yet the e-book also notes that “almost 85 percent of these industries let this data sourced from trillions of data points go unused.”

Lower Costs, Higher Gains

If these industries did apply machine learning-based anomaly detection, they would realize significant financial benefits. The aviation industry could reduce total airplane ground downtime — after all, more planes in the air means greater revenue. The manufacturing industry could significantly reduce its scrap production. And the oil and gas industry could better address offshore asset breakdowns to maintain higher production levels.

DataRPM’s e-book offers quantitative findings to back up these benefits, saying that 1 percent improvement in productivity across the manufacturing industry can result in $500 million in annual savings and that predicting anomalies on time can result in savings of up to 12 percent over scheduled repairs, maintenance cost reductions of up to 30 percent, and elimination of breakdowns by up to 70 percent.

Those are incredible gains just from better leveraging data that’s already available. As the machine learning aspect of this technology improves over time, more insights will be available to help companies better utilize their data. As a result, they will see gains in profitability as costs plummet.

Ron Berkowitz Says the Key in PR Is to Have Confidence and the Ability to Make Connections

When I recently linked up with Ron Berkowitz, President Founder of Berk Communications, he had to apologize. He was very busy dealing with clients like rapper Meek Mill and preparations for the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft. Such is the life for a sports and entertainment publicist.

Berkowitz created his company in 1999 with 1 employee and 1 desk, and aimed to turn his firm into 1 of the preeminent sports, entertainment and luxury lifestyle PR agencies. From the outside, he appears to be accomplishing that goal with clients that include Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Durant, Jay Z, D’USSE, Disney Channel and Tao.

I finally did grab a few minutes of Berkowitz’s time and asked him some questions about the mysterious world of sports and entertainment publicity.

What do you think is the most important attribute for someone to possess who wants to make a name for him or herself in the PR world?

Confidence and the ability to make connections.

I started Berk Communications in 1999 after working for the New York Yankees PR staff in 1996 and Fox Television. In hindsight, when I went off on my own, I was taking a huge leap of faith – but I had confidence in my ability that allowed me to bet on myself. That’s where the connections came in – I spoke to everyone, built my network, and worked my ass off. This not only built up my client portfolio but got me in the room with some impressive names, from A-Rod to Jay-Z.

What prepared you to go from working on publicity and media relations to running your own business, and what have been your biggest challenges?

Something I learned early at the University of Miami was creating relationships and building contacts. In the early 90s think about the power of that football team. So being a broadcaster for WVUM and covering the games allowed me to build incredible relationships which to this day still help me and prepared me to for the future challenges of building a business.  

Using that network was a big help. I’ve always been fortunate to work alongside some great people, but also represent some high-quality brands. We’re often known for our work with professional athletes and sports, but we also represent Michelin star restaurants, tourism bureaus such as Israel and business men and businesses like Michael Rubin and Fanatics.  

How were you able to form valuable relationships such as your connection with Roc Nation and how do you describe the value of those relationships to the growth of your business?

I thought the backbone of every client relationship starts and ends with trust and the ability to deliver. From the moment we begin working with a client, we aim to produce immediate results.

Relationships with a company like Roc Nation or any of our clients is based on the work we do of course but also our clients are family and that is how we treat them. When I first met with Jay Z and Desiree Perez they both said to me, “If you do right by us you will be with us along time.” I took that to heart. I knew then in 2002 that’s how clients needed to be treated as well. These types of relationships are priceless. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. 

What are your goals with regard to expansion for the future and are there any specific projects you’re currently working on that really excite you?

Our goal is to keep growing and building on what we have. We have an incredible travel practice, a great hospitality and lifestyle division and of course our sports and entertainment practice which personally I built and am so proud of the work we have done in that field. Helping these athletes build their brands and of course in times of crisis for them has been extremely satisfying. 

What’s it like working with a rapper like Meek Mill?

Handling crisis communications for Meek Mill has been an incredible experience. Meek has been unjustly incarcerated and subjected to excessive probation restrictions which have been heavily detailed in the media over the past few years.

It’s been an eye-opening experience for me and my colleague Didier Morais, but that’s why we are committed to highlighting Meek’s case in the media and emphasizing the need for criminal justice reform. For us this has turned into something bigger then a Meek Mill issue; this an issue with our criminal justice system and hopefully Meek’s case is shedding light on the change that needs to happen. 

Want Happier Employees? Do This 1 Thing to Create a Stronger Sense of Purpose

Many elements contribute to morale. So it’s often difficult to know what to focus on to improve employee engagement.

That’s why the results of two recent studies caught my attention. Both demonstrate that there’s one factor that affects how happy employees are with their work.

That factor? The connection employees feel with customers. When workers have an affinity for customers and believe their jobs make a difference, employees are more satisfied and engaged.

Let’s start with a 2016 study by Strativity Group, a customer experience strategy firm, which surveyed more than 30,000 U.S. workers. The research found that more than half (54%) of employees are disengaged at work and only a quarter are actively engaged.

That’s the bad news; the good news is that there are several actions companies can take to boost employee engagement. The most important is helping employees understand their role in meeting customers’ needs and expectations.

Lior Arussy, founder of Strativity Group, explains: “When people are inspired to act, understand how they are meeting customers’ needs, and have their role in making an impact clearly communicated, they are ready to make a difference.

“People feel most engaged when they are doing something meaningful with a clear impact on a real human being. An organization that provides its employees with the tools to make a real impact on people’s lives is the company that will have the most engaged employees.”

A second study, conducted by Andrew Knight, associate professor of organizational behavior at Washington University in St. Louis’ Olin Business School, supports this premise.

Knight’s research, published in the Academy of Management Journal, surveyed more than 24,000 employees, leaders and human resource professionals at small- and medium-sized companies in Germany.

The study found that employees working in customer-facing companies, such as retailers, tend to be happier at work, while employees at companies further removed from direct customer interaction–manufacturing companies, for example–tend to be less happy. In fact, the study found that every worker in customer-focused organizations, including those in the back office, has higher satisfaction.

But, in my experience, every company–whether B2B or B2C, in consumer products industrial parts or professional services–has the opportunity to create a strong connection between customers and employees. (After all, every company has customers; the only difference is whether those customers are standing at a cash register or sitting in an office.)

How to connect employees with customers? Here are five ways:

  1. Make customers a priority. Take a page from Johnson Johnson, which in 1943 created “Our Credo,” an articulation of the values that guide company decision-making. The Credo begins: “We believe our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses and patients, to mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services.”
  2. Bring customers to life.  Not every employee spends time every day with customers, so it’s important to use communication channels to highlight who customers are. For example, create customer profiles, descriptions of ideal customers, including demographics, needs and preferences. Although customer profiles are used most often by sales and marketing teams, profiles can be communicated to all employees on your intranet or in large meetings.
  3. Share what customers are saying. Whenever you do customer research, let employees know the results–including comments, complaints, suggestions and positive feedback.
  4. Give employees the opportunity to interact with customers. One company invites a key customer to every employee town hall meeting. At another, when a customer visits headquarters, he/she doesn’t just meet with top executives; a 30-minute coffee chat is arranged so the customer can chat with a cross-section of employees.
  5. Reward employees for meeting customers’ needs. It’s easy to create recognition awards for front-line employees. But you can recognize employees in every role for contributing to customer satisfaction; you just need to connect the dots.

After all, connecting the dots is what this is all about. The more employees understand how they’re making a difference to the real people who buy your products and services, the more they’ll feel like their work matters.

The Single Most Important Attribute of Leadership According to this Famous CEO

There are many successful CEOs we can learn from. Take Eric Schmidt growing Google, Howard Schultz scaling Starbucks, Bill McDermott taking SAP to the Cloud, and Jeff Bezos changing the world with Amazon. All of these leaders are incredible, but none of them surpass what Jack Welch did at GE. During his tenure, Welch was able to increase GE’s company value by 4,000 percent. You could make an argument that this impact was one of the greatest achievements in the history of CEOs.

Here is where it gets interesting. Welch is considered by most to be ruthless and a results-driven leader. So much so, he was nicknamed “Neutron Jack” because of his aggressive firing policy in the mid 80’s (known as the “vitality curve”).   

While the majority of organizations no longer use the “vitality curve” method, organizational leaders have learned from and implemented strategies from Welch’s experience. Not long ago, I learned something I never thought I would hear coming from Jack Welch.

Tim Ferriss interviewed Frank Blake the Former CEO and Chairman of Home Depot (a great leader in his own right) and former direct report at GE to Jack Welch.  During the interview, Blake recalled a story in which he asked Welch, “Of all of the attributes of leadership, if you had to weigh them all and pick one, what is the single most important attribute of leadership?” His answer surprised me.

The single most important attribute of leadership is generosity.

Most people think of generosity in terms of money. But that isn’t what Welch was suggesting at all.  He was using the term to describe how important it is for leaders to be fueled by the success of others.

When you actually look deeper, generosity is defined as the quality of about being kind, understanding and not selfish. If you want to be a more a more generous leader here are a few ideas:

Model servant leadership.

Through all the interviews I have done on the “Follow My Lead” podcast and working with companies of all sizes to help improve the leadership skills of their people I have come to define leadership this way.

Someone’s who actions inspire, serve, and empower others to produce an improved state for the entire group over an extended period of time.

Now it’s one thing to know this definition, it’s completely different to model it and live it out for your people every single day.  Instead of waking up thinking about yourself, do your very best to think about your team.

Give of your time, not money.

One of my favorite quotes ever is from John Crudele about parenting, “Kids spell love T-I-M-E.” If you want to be a more generous leader, start with giving more of your time.  There is absolutely nothing you can do to replace the time you spend transferring knowledge and getting to know people one-on-one. By the time you spend with people, you might uncover money is needed, but let that be the last resort.

Seek out opportunities for others advancement.

I believe with all my heart, leaders don’t create followers but they create more leaders. Gerard Adams has gone as far as to make a Youtube show titled, “Leaders Create Leaders” which is absolutely worth checking out. So instead of hoarding the best talent on your team seek out opportunities to help them advance in their career through new tasks, roles, or job functions.  

Those leaders who aren’t doing these three things are being the opposite of a generous and will find themselves as part of the reason their team never reaches its full potential.  

3 Ways Brands Are Taking Advantage of In-Store Tech–And How it Might Save Retail

Physical retail stores have been having a rough time since the advent of online retail, which in many cases offers lower prices and greater convenience. But physical retail stores are fighting back, attempting to transform their approach to appeal to the needs of today’s customers.

High-tech displays, including in-store LED screens and devices, are starting to bridge the gap between physical and online retail, and give customers the best of both worlds in an all-in-one retail experience. So how are brands taking advantage of this new in-store tech?

1. Digital Ads

Some brands are offering custom digital advertising and product information through in-store tablets and digital screens. BevTV, for example, is a digital ad channel specifically for beverage brands, taking advantage of in-store tablets that provide information about products to consumers.

When not being used for information, these tablets display engaging, interactive content related to beverage brands, giving brands a better platform for visibility and helping consumers make better choices.

2. Interactive Displays

Other brands are turning to interactive displays, helping customers choose individual products within a set of items belonging to a brand or store. LEGO, for example, has been rolling out high-tech kiosks designed to help children visualize the completed building block sets they wish to purchase before they leave the store.

Children can walk up to the kiosk with a box, scan it, and see a fully rendered 3D projection of the completed product a box could contain on the screen in front of them. Such an approach gives customers more thorough visualizations than either traditional retail or online shopping could offer.

3. Augmented Reality

Still other brands are relying on augmented reality (AR), a full 360-degree virtual experience, to help consumers make better purchasing decisions. IKEA, for example, has been experimenting with AR since 2012, giving customers the chance to experiment with the look and feel of different types of furniture in their homes–all without ever leaving the store.

Consumers can browse through the furniture giant’s 2,000 products (including sofas, tables, and shelving units), and easily project how each piece of furniture would look in a given room. The in-store experience gives consumers a demo room, or consumers can use smartphones at home to estimate sizing in their own rooms.

Will In-Store Tech Save Retail?

So are high-tech upgrades like these enough to save physical retail stores? Perhaps. But if retail stores want the best chances for survival, they’ll also have to incorporate some other new strategies:

  • Hybrid models. The in-store tech might not be as important if you’re able to successfully enter the world of online retail after establishing traditional retail roots. In other words, launching an online store and app (and offering free shipping) could be enough to stand with the existing online retail giants. After all, with Amazon opening physical retail locations in the near future, there’s a good chance the future will be a tag-team between physical and online retail stores.
  • Unique products. If a brand can offer compelling products that can’t be found anywhere else, retail brands may be able to stand on their own. Target, for example, known for its aesthetic sensibilities, is doubling down on its uniquely branded designer products, planning to release more than a dozen new brands by the end of 2018. Customers still favor quality and relevance over convenience, and may be more willing to drive to the store to pick up a wholly unique item than for something they can buy at any online store.
  • The human factor. Finally, consider the crucial human advantage that physical stores have over their online counterparts. Physical stores can step up the personality factor by better training their staff members to engage with in-store customers, leading to better, more memorable experiences that increase both customer acquisition and retention.

Brick-and-mortar retail stores that refuse to change won’t last much longer in this tech-saturated market. Fortunately, there are many distinct strategies that have the potential to close the gap here. It takes a little innovation, and a little creativity, but mostly a willingness to change to stand your ground against online competitors.

1 Fear That Holds Entrepreneurs Back From Success, and How to Overcome It

I spent the first 25 years of my professional life building two companies–Wilmar and Interline–a business that started out of the trunk of my car, and is now owned by Home Depot. In the end, it became a company with 2,300 employees and 58 locations stretching across the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. 

After that, anything seems easy, right? 

Well, as it turns out, one of the hardest things for me to do was retire–which was supposed to be the easy part after working that hard for 25 years. And while I was finding my way out of semi-retirement, I learned more about failure than I had in all those years working full time. 

Here are the three things you should keep in mind when overcoming your fear of failure. 

Doing nothing is not an option.

In my retirement, I was having a great time being a full-time Dad to my three kids and building a summer home with my wife. I was happy, healthy, and bored stiff. I wanted my next adventure.

After helping a friend rebrand his financial advising firm, I wanted a bigger challenge. I found it in the form of Crestar Partners, an opportunity that fell into my lap. Crestar Partners would be my second company–and my first attempt at building a private equity firm. 

Crestar was a huge part of my entrepreneurial journey, and taught me valuable lessons I’ve kept with me for years, and talk about at length in my book, All In. It was a big risk to hinge my re-entrance to the business world on a company I had little experience with, and had a significant amount of money involved in its success–mine, as well as that of trusted friends and colleagues. For the entire year before finally starting Crestar, I was afraid of failure and couldn’t commit to anything–my biggest fear being that if I failed at another business, I would be viewed as a “one-hit wonder.”

Some people will decide not to act because they are afraid of things not working out. I didn’t want to be one of those people. 

Besides, by taking action, you are already one step closer to avoiding failure.  

Take the risk: If you did it once, chances are you can do it again.

Part of the reason I felt so confident in starting Crestar Partners was because I had spent the last 25 years building something from nothing. I knew how to bring a company from concept to fruition–and how to build it into something great even after it became “successful.”

I believe that if you’ve done something once, there’s a very good chance that you can do it again, even if what you’re doing seems risky.

Learn this lesson as soon as you can: after failure, you have to continue trying.

One story I remind myself of often is Michael Jordan not making his high school varsity basketball team. That’s right–arguably the greatest basketball player of all time was once considered an average athlete. He had to spend the next year playing on Junior Varsity and working tirelessly to improve and grow for the following year’s tryouts. 

We all know what happened for Jordan after high school. But what’s important in this story, is that Jordan said when he got tired or wanted to give up, he would close his eyes and see the Varsity list without his name on it. Then he would work out a little longer and a little harder. 

With Crestar Partners, our first investment, US Maintenance, went over without a hitch–we nailed Varsity our first year, so to speak. What I didn’t know then was just because you have a big hit immediately doesn’t mean you’re going to strike gold every time.

But then we invested in a company called Coffee Bean International and it was one of three investments we lost money over the next three years. Had I let that defeat me, and not used it as a learning moment to push me forward through our next investments, Crestar Partners, would not be as successful as it is today.

When the five-year marker came around, we’d made investments in nine companies: three were very successful, three were average, and we lost money on the last three. However, our fund exceeded a 20 percent annualized return. It was the combination of mostly successful investments with a few not-so-successful ones that showed me that not everything had to be “all or nothing.” The whole experience is what gave me the confidence to do anything and not be afraid to fail ever again.

Failure is just one more problem to be solved. If you’re going to fear anything, it should be losing your ability to try–that’s scary. 

Why Your Employees Might Never Be Totally Happy at Work

Why are most people unhappy with their jobs? originally appeared on Quorathe place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Praveen Tipirneni, CEO of Morphic Therapeutic, Inc., on Quora:

There’s a new book out by Steven Pinker called Enlightenment Now. The book is a defense of the modern world, and an examination of all the areas in which humanity is making progress. He touches on everything, from breakthroughs in health and science to the gains we’ve made fighting poverty and infant mortality.

And yet, people are increasingly unhappy and pessimistic.

Why? Because human nature doesn’t let us relax for long. Once we’ve solved one problem, we become discontented with something else. Expectations rise. New, and often more difficult, problems are brought to the forefront of our consciousness.

A similar process goes on in many companies. Leadership thinks employees will magically become satisfied once the most pressing issues have been resolved. But the reality is, once you solve one problem, another inevitably rises. There’s never a point where expectations stop rising altogether.

So, don’t get frustrated as a leader. There’s actually a good chance that you should be patting yourself on the back.

Here’s why:

People’s needs constantly change to fit their surroundings.

Rising expectations are natural. Discontent is human. People will always find something that needs improving or an issue that bothers them.

It ties back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Once your lower-order needs are fulfilled, you move on to higher-order needs. We don’t stop looking for problems to solve as things get better, we just shift our focus to new problems.

That’s why people living stable lives in developed nations aren’t necessarily “happy,” even though it seems like they should be. They’ve simply moved on to higher-order problems that are more difficult–perhaps impossible–to solve.

Similarly, employees will never be 100% satisfied. There will always be a certain amount of tension or dissatisfaction.

It’s important that companies don’t simply take the volume of complaints into account.

They should also be examining what people are complaining about.

In an unhealthy organization, you’ll hear complaints about the basic necessities. People don’t feel secure in their position. The job doesn’t pay a living wage. The work environment is unsafe.

But once those basic needs are satisfied, complaints won’t be eliminated. Instead, issues will arise that are much more difficult to satisfy.

These are needs that revolve around personal development, self-actualization, and the utilization of talents. These issues require a more nuanced approach. If someone doesn’t feel like their talents are being utilized properly, that’s not really going to be solved by a raise.

So, paradoxically, a healthy organization may get to the point where it actually feels worse than an unhealthy organization.

If you’re getting these types of higher-order complaints, it may actually speak to the quality of your organization. People want more out of their work. They’re in a healthy environment, but their expectations are still rising.

Your company must evolve to meet these ever-changing needs.

Employees’ basic needs are usually the easiest to resolve. The complaints are straightforward, and the solutions are fairly obvious. If everyone is complaining about working excruciatingly long hours, then maybe it’s time to hire a few more people.

But as those basic needs are taken care of, you have to be ready to face the new challenges that will arise. Remember, higher-order problems require more thoughtful solutions than lower-order problems.

For instance, it takes a very proactive approach to develop people and help them achieve their potential. Because in reality, most people aren’t as proactive as they think they are. People will say they want training and development, but if someone isn’t around to drive those things, they generally don’t happen.

The company has to evolve and grow to help employees meet these needs. Leadership has to be ready and willing to face rising expectations with thoughtful approaches.

But it’s also important for individuals to be self-aware of what type of problems they have.

We all have issues at work. Our first instinct is to take action and solve these issues. And if we can’t solve them, our next instinct is to leave.

I think most people would be wise to take a step back and examine whether the problems they have at work can truly be solved. Basic needs should be fought for, but some higher-level problems will never truly be solved–at any company.

Your manager may not be the visionary leader you dream of. Your work may not be as personally fulfilling as you’d always hoped. But are you sure you’ll find those things in a new job?

Everyone’s situation is different, but if your needs are related to self-actualization and development, then you’re probably in a pretty decent situation already. Your trajectory is pointing upwards.

It’s important to for both employees and leadership to think about the context of Pinker’s book. As expectations rise, people often feel discontent with a situation–even when a straightforward examination of the facts tells a different story.

To build a healthy organization, it’s essential that both management and individual employees recognize that truth.

This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

Walmart Just Added a Month to Your Life, Even If You Don’t Shop There

You might think this column is about Walmart’s multiple entries into retail healthcare, but you’d think wrong. This column isn’t about getting healthier and therefore living longer. It’s about how Walmart is leading a retail industry-wide movement to save your precious time.

As widely reported earlier today in BusinessInsider, all four major credit cards have either decided or announced that they will no longer require your signature when you use a credit card. The reason is simple: electronic payments and chip cards have made signatures less necessary and useful as security checks.

The credit card companies, however, are only half of the equation. For checkout lane signatures to become a thing of the past, retail stores that accept credit cards must follow suit, which they’ve been reluctant to do since the burden of credit card fraud falls squarely on their shoulders.

However, it now appears that Walmart, Target and other large retailers are finally going signature-less, probably because they’re increasingly competing with online sales which don’t require signatures. Plus, signatures=slow checkout lines=lower customer satisfaction=more checkers=higher personnel costs=less profit.

With that in mind, let’s do some back of the envelope calculations. Let’s say the average person uses a credit card for 70 years (age 14 to 84) and on average about twice a day and that each signature, including the wait for processing time, button pushing, etc., takes an average of 20 seconds. Do the math, and that comes out to roughly 36 (8 hour) workdays–more than a month!–over your lifetime that you won’t spend signing your name.

What you do with that month is up to you and I could probably come up with a bunch of suggestions of the “go on an extra vacation” ilk. However, since the time you save won’t be in a block but granted to you in dribs and drabs, I have another suggestion.

Here it is: every time you buy something at a retail store spend 20 seconds–before you walk outside–thinking about everything in your life for which you can be grateful. Start with the fact that you were just able to buy something–a privilege that’s far from universal.

I guarantee you that any time you spend experiencing gratitude not only won’t be time-wasting; it will actively improve your life and well-being, and therefore your health.

So, wow, despite what I wrote when I started writing it, this column turned out to be about getting healthier and therefore living longer. Honestly and truly I had no idea I’d end up here when I started it.

6 Simple Ways Entrepreneurs Can Stay Motivated

Starting your own business may seem impossible, but I’ve done it multiple times, with the most recent experience being in June 2014 when I created Heitner Legal from scratch. While the initial expenses can be daunting, the long hours exhausting and the odds of success seemingly overwhelming, if you’re going to make it in the world as an entrepreneur, finding your key motivations and sticking to them is crucial.

It’s obviously easier said than done, but almost 4 years later and my law firm is flourishing despite myriad commitments outside of the law including writing here and on Forbes as well as finishing a second edition of my book How to Play the Game: What Every Sports Attorney Needs to Know.           

Here are some thoughts on how to stay motivated in the presence of challenges.

1. Listen to your gut.

Most aspiring entrepreneurs try to latch on to what’s popular or what they think will be the quickest path to success, but the ones that actually end up building something special are the ones who aren’t afraid to go their own way. For example, entrepreneur and real estate veteran, Albert Preciado says he was sitting on his girlfriend’s couch daydreaming about starting The Mortgage Guys when his gut told him to just go and do it.

So he did. He designed a logo, got his license, and filed for incorporation. Then he and his wife set up shop in the cubby at the top of his parents’ staircase. Now, he runs a business that has originated more than $1 billion in residential loans, and closed more than 2,400 real estate deals since 2005, with more than 30 employees.

If your gut is telling you it’s time to take action and follow your dreams, then do it.

2. Have specific goals.

Say what it is you want to do, and then do it. You may think it can’t possibly be that simple, but setting specific goals with markers each step of the way will not only get you from point A to B, but you’ll feel like you’re actually making headway.

Empires aren’t built overnight. What’s more important are the small, consistent steps all along the way.

3. Surround yourself with motivated people.

Nobody gets anything done working beside short-sighted, negative people.

In order to see your vision through to the very end, it’s going to be imperative that you surround yourself with people who will push you to be the best version of yourself. This means peers and fellow entrepreneurs, mentors, even the people you work beside or employ. Everyone in your immediate vicinity should be a positive force, helping move you one step closer toward where it is you ultimately want to be.

I have kept my operation at Heitner Legal very lean since its founding, but relied heavily on my main associate from the start. As I said recently, I’m grateful every day for his hard work and dedication, which pushes me to work with passion as well.

4. Channel your stress.

We can’t all be completely stress free, unfortunately, but there are ways to manage it that will stop worries and frustrations from becoming obstacles.

I recently wrote that your work shouldn’t consume your life, but you should recognize and accept that it is a key element of your livelihood and embrace that. Don’t try to separate it, as it will only lead to unnecessary stress.

Entrepreneurs that crumble don’t take the time along the way to address their stress. They let it pile on, and pile on instead of asking themselves what they can do to refocus that energy into something more productive, and also more empowering.

5. Remind yourself why you’re building what you’re building.

There will be days where you think you’ve made a huge mistake in starting your own business. Self doubt is a natural, if unfortunately persistent, side effect of entrepreneurship.

“You start having doubts, like ‘Maybe I should have just never done this. I should’ve kept working for another company and not have taken this extra risk,'” says Preciado. “But when you have those feelings, you just have to fight them. Never, ever give up on your dream, because there’s no point in living if you’re not going to go all in on whatever it is you love most.”

One way to help keep things in perspective is to pause at every win or small accomplishment along the way. Remind yourself of where you started, and why you’re building whatever it is you want to build. These little moments of celebration will help you remember you’re on a much longer path.

6. Have fun.

The whole reason you started a company in the first place is because you love it.

So many entrepreneurs begin their ventures with excitement, only for this passion of theirs to become the primary point of stress in their lives. You don’t want to be that kind of entrepreneur.

The best way to stay motivated over the long term is to constantly remind yourself of why you’re doing what you’re doing, and to find new ways to have fun along the way. There is no greater reward in life than to live what you love, every single day.