The Unknown Inventor Whose Work Is Saving The Developing World

**Great article we found on**

Ashok Gadgil is a professor at UC Berkeley. But in his spare time, he’s come up with solutions for water, cooking, and energy quandaries, improving lives from the Sudan to India. How does he do it? He just likes a good puzzle.

If you’re a lucky inventor, maybe you come up with one big thing that makes an impact on people. Ashok Gadgil, the winner of the 2012 $100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Global Innovation, has produced two inventions that have changed the lives of people in the developing world, and is now working on a third. How has he pulled this off?

It helps that Gadgil, a professor in the Department of Civil Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, has a science background. But his explanation is fairly simple: “In each case it was becoming aware of how serious the problem was and then being aware that actually there is some technical solution that could help. It’s like you find a puzzle, but the nice thing about this puzzle is that if you solve it you’re making people’s lives better.”

Gadgil started his career helping developing countries not with an invention, but with a program to promote utility-sponsored energy efficiency. In most developing countries, customers don’t have enough money to pay the full price on electricity, so they get subsidized rates from the government. But when efficient energy technology isn’t subsidized, there’s no incentive for residential customers to use it (using compact fluorescent light bulbs, for example). “My solution was to point out to utilities that if you spend a little amount of money for efficient lamps, you will be selling less subsidized electricity and you get to keep more money,” explains Gadgil.

The idea, which Gadgil hatched in the late 1980s, was a success: over 100 million people participate in these utility-sponsored CFL programs in dozens of countries, including Algeria, Cuba, India, Iraq, Panama, Russia, Sudan, and Mexico.

**To read the rest of the article from the original source, click here.**

Why Execution (Not Ideas) Will Bring You Success

**Great article we found on**

The reason so many would-be entrepreneurs fails is because they get too hung up on their ideas.

You know that brilliant idea you have for a new website/smartphone app? The one you’re convinced is your ticket to professional and financial glory. The concept that’s so special, so profound, you’ve limited yourself to divulging it to only a tight-knit group of confidants–the secrecy being necessary to prevent muggles from defacing, defiling, or (even more improbably) stealing your earth-shattering brain nugget. 

Sound like you, or someone you know? It has certainly described me at various points in my entrepreneurial development. But here’s an even bigger secret than the one you’re hoarding: big, powerful ideas are everywhere and the vast majority will go nowhere. So keeping your big idea in stealth mode will likely make no difference to your ultimate success.

Think back for a moment to the people you’ve known in your life who achieved great entrepreneurial success and ask yourself how they reached their professional zenith. Yes, some of you may be fortunate enough to know individuals whose conceptual prowess was their ticket to ride. But for most high-achievers, success comes in places that are decidedly more mundane–the doctor who built a thriving practice over time, for example.

So the logical question becomes, why is that? Why do so few of the people working on the ‘next big thing’ or at the very least ‘a big thing,’ ultimately fail to make waves? As it turns out, there is a distinguishing characteristic that unites the high achievers, but it’s far less conceptual than practical, namely, brilliance in execution. “Execution” is a broad term; and ultimately, crediting success on it is a bit like saying the key to good business is sell more than you spend: accurate, but not very helpful.

My point here is not to define ‘execution’, but rather to encourage you to redefine your definition of “business.” Instead of thinking of business as an abstract noun, try thinking of it as a verb. When we think of a noun, say “car,” we create meaning for that term by thinking of the qualities or attributes that we associate with it. There’s a make, a model, a color, a shape, a top speed, etc. Note that these are all fixed, or static, attributes. But when we think of a verb, like “driving,” our mental map focuses more on actions and procedures. There’s stepping on the gas pedal; steering the wheel; arriving from point A to B.  These are not fixed attributes, but rather dynamic processes that ultimately determine the speed and manner with which we will travel. So if we could only start thinking of business less like a noun and more like a verb, we’d place less emphasis on the static attributes, of which the concept is but one, and more emphasis on the dynamic processes which will be more closely correlated with overall achievement.

**To read the rest of the article from the original source, click here.**

Becoming a Millionaire

**Great tool we found on Yahoo! Finance.**

It may surprise you how quickly you can accumulate a million dollars. Use this calculator to determine the annual amount you would have to set aside each year to reach a million dollars and reach your goal to be a millionaire.
To use the calculator, click here.

Start-up Interview: What Not to Wear

**Great article we found on**

In a high-pressure situation, a suit used to be the safe sartorial choice. Now, it’s a bit more complicated.


A monkey suit is often over the top.  But there are at least three situations where you need to face the “suit or not to suit” decision head-on. And in these situations, if you decide against a suit, you still need to dress business casual. Leave the jeans and hoodie at home.

1. Customers. If you are visiting customers for sales or business development, think about the customer’s perception of your company when they see you. Do you inspire confidence? Professionalism? Discipline and integrity? You are the face of your company. You need to look like you can deliver. You don’t want the customer to feel like they’re taking a risk on you.

2. Fundraising. Not only do you need to inspire confidence when talking to investors, but you also need to communicate fiscal responsibility, steadiness, and dependability. Again, it depends on exactly who you’re meeting. While I’ve met young angel investors (often former Googlers) who wear jeans, most investors are from a generation that expects something more formal, especially if they are on the East Coast. Investors can make harsh judgments very quickly. I’ve seen investors write entrepreneurs off as “emotionally unstable” for sporting an unnatural hair color.

**To read the rest of the article from the original source, click here.**

Howard Schultz: What It Takes to Win

**Great article we found on**

In 2008 Howard Schultz returned to Starbucks and steered it through the financial crisis. Last year, Schultz sat down with Inc.’s Lewis Schiff.

Click here to see the video on where Schultz answers questions and gives some great advice!

Without This Skill, You Won’t Succeed

**Great article we found on**

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. This is the one thing all successful people know how to do well.

Slam dunk, young basketball player, practice

I asked about 20 business owners and CEOs to name the one skill they feel contributes the most to their success.

What did every one of them say?

Sales skills. Without solid sales skills they all felt success is almost impossible—in any field.

Here’s why. To many people the word “selling” implies manipulating, pressuring, cajoling… all the used car salesman stereotypes.

But if you think of “selling” as explaining the logic and benefits of a decision, then everyone—business owner or not—needs sales skills: To convince others an idea makes sense, to show bosses or investors how a project or business will generate a return, to help employees understand the benefits of a new process, etc.

In essence, sales skills are communication skills. Communication skills are critical in any business or career—and you’ll learn more about communication by working in sales than you will anywhere else.

Gaining sales skills will help you win financing, bring in investors, line up distribution deals, land customers—in the early stages of starting a company, everything involves sales.

Understanding the sales process, and how to build long-term customer relationships, is incredibly important regardless of the industry or career you choose. Spending time in a direct sales role is an investment that will pay dividends forever.

Here are a few of the benefits:

You’ll learn to negotiate.

Every job involves negotiating: With customers, with vendors and suppliers, even with employees. Salespeople learn to listen, evaluate variables, identify key drivers, overcome objections, and find ways to reach agreement—without burning bridges.

You’ll learn to close.

Asking for what you want is difficult for a lot of people. Closing a sale is part art, part science. Getting others to agree with you and follow your direction is also part art and part science. If you want to lead people, you must be able to close. Great salespeople know how to close. Great bosses do too.

You’ll learn persistence.

Salespeople hear the word “no” all the time. Over time you’ll start to see “no” as a challenge, not as a rejection. And you’ll figure out what to do next.

**To read the rest of the article from the original source, click here.**

SEO & Google: The Ugly Truth

**Great article we found on**

He walked down the quiet street, a leopard in the concrete jungle. Eyes down, but watching the angles. Hands in his coat pocket concealing but preoccupied. It was then from the shadows a figure emerged, unwanted but unrelenting.

“Hey buddy, you lookin’?”, poured forth with a cloud of smoke.

“Naw, I don’t do that crap.” he blew back. “Don’t ya know that stuff will get you messed up? Just look, right up there” as he pointed to the surveillance camera across the way. “Google seeseverything.”

The fedora topped stranger faded further into the darkness. “These are some awesome high PageRank links though. Cheap. And you just know the other guys are using.” … How this ends, you tell me?

The War on SEO

OK, enough with the silliness. But it brings to mind a few things that are actually worth discussing. Let’s explore a few concepts.

Google Isn’t Out to Get You

Now, this one seems to be one of the largest heads on the many headed hydra of SEO paranoia. Time and time again we see those that truly are out-thinking themselves.

Yes, it is duly noted that Google (and other IR systems) have an entire wing of the AIR commanddedicated to dealing with those that might seek to manipulate their creations. There are even more than a few IR lectures on video where those pesky programmers seem almost psychotic when discussing such matters.

But it’s still just not as prevalent as some passionate pros seem to envision. That’s the tricky thing with search engines. The programmer types don’t always get what they want.

Certainly, Matt Cutts would just love to increase his budget and sway. But these aren’t always the realities.

When folks talk about IR patents and papers, it’s always best to keep that in mind. Things don’t always work out in the wash.

**To read the rest of the article from the original source, click here.**