Mark Cuban has some advice for the millions of Americans who are out of work amid the coronavirus pandemic: collect unemployment, don’t stop applying for jobs and make use of whatever down-time you might have to brush up on the skills that might impress your future employer.
The first question every interviewer is going to ask you is: ‘What did you learn during the pandemic of 2020? What skills did you add during the pandemic of 2020?'” Cuban said in an interview with Dallas’ local CBS affiliate on Sunday.
The billionaire owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks was asked what his advice would be for those who are unemployed and job-hunting. Just under 20 million Americans were collecting unemployment benefits as of last week, according to the government.
“If I was 24 or 25 … living with five roommates, how would I be dealing with this and what would I tell myself?” Cuban wondered.
“Keep on adding to your skill-set, no matter what it is,” the “Shark Tank” star told CBS. “I don’t care if you’re a welder, or you want to learn how to [computer] program, you want to learn about artificial intelligence, whatever it is.” Continue reading →
The Covid-19 crisis isn’t behind us yet, but companies have to start putting the economic pieces together for their business to not just survive but also build a new future. At this point, there are three priorities most companies should act on with great haste: employee safety, cash management week by week and a digital connection with customers, suppliers and ecosystem partners. Missing any of the three could seriously jeopardize the continuity of the business.
Companies that are not already on their way to being digital have to realize the urgency. It’s not just digital giants like Amazon that threaten their future. It’s also legacy companies that are becoming digital. In the pandemic, they’ve been able to adapt more quickly. And, under normal circumstances, they can gain share very fast.
Maybe you’ve come to terms with the fact that you must become a digital company. But you’re convinced that this is not the time to act. You have to realize that waiting for stability is a luxury you can’t afford. Really, there is no need to wait.
Talking to a number of CEOs, I have learned that there are myths about what digitization costs, how much cash it will use, and how long it will take. Business leaders don’t think they can show a clear return on their investment. Besides, they’re convinced that people in the organization will resist it.
Well, that’s no longer the case. You can now pick the most urgent, most critical tasks—the ones that will help you get cash, increase revenues or connect with customers, suppliers and ecosystem partners—and achieve them in bite-size portions. You can see benefits in weeks or months, not years.
Here are some examples:
• Dynamic pricing. It is a necessity when uncertainty is here to stay.
• Collection of receivables. The collections process is critical to liquidity.
• A continuous connection with customers. You will need this to help you pick up how their behavior is changing, how demand is shifting and what the voice of the customer is. It will help with forecasting, with impacts on inventory and cash flow.
• A single source of data. Data-based decision-making, whether or not it’s automated, is now an imperative. But it is difficult to use data for decision-making if it is spread across many silos; it is highly inconsistent, and managers don’t trust it.
A number of small vendors now exist that can do projects like these for you in less than 90 days for less than $400,000.
Make your own list and take one or two tasks at a time. Then, reach out to small vendors (UST Global and Altimetrik are two I’m familiar with). Define your tasks clearly and precisely, just as you’ve done with outsourcing, facilities construction or other turnkey projects.
You might not realize that digital giants like Amazon all began using digital technology for one task at a time. They used small vendors—and still do—because they are fast, they cost less, and they take the project to completion. They become partners in operationalizing it. You focus on what needs to be digitized and why, and how it will create revenues, cash, margins, customer satisfaction or speed. The vendors focus on giving you the relevant digital platform or digital apps.
When it comes to organizational resistance, that is unlikely to exist anymore. If someone does resist, you have to deal with it right away.
One more thing: don’t be put off by terminology and tools with which you’re not familiar, like algorithms and big data. Algorithms—the mathematical rules by which data is processed—have been around for hundreds of years. Roughly two dozen of them are used for common tasks and are readily available.
So, take the mystery out and take on small turnkey tasks that can build your business and ensure its continuity.
Avoid knee-jerk reactions when creating a plan for the future.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” This opening line from Charles Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities captures the contradictory times we live in. It also describes how organisations may react to the coronavirus pandemic in very different ways.
Take fictional Company A. When the pandemic occurred, fear permeated its top echelons. For years, its leadership had bought back shares to improve its financial metrics and warrant fat bonuses for executives. This reduced its financial leeway, prompting the CEO and the CFO to go on a major cost-cutting spree, including the cancellation of all training and development activities. They also used the turbulent economic environment as an excuse to lay off many employees they didn’t like, without any explanation. In light of these actions, a doomsday atmosphere prevailed.
At fictional Company B, senior executives reacted very differently. Granted, with the lessons learned from the last recession, they had created strong financial reserves, which enabled them not to lay off anyone. Instead, they eliminated overtime hours, put in place sabbatical programmes and made use of government support schemes. They instituted a salary freeze and downsized their own remuneration. Knowing that recessions offered exceptional opportunities to pick up high-quality talent, they kept their eyes open. They would not fall into the trap of having a shortage of people with key skills. Although it would have been easy to cut training, top management decided to keep key elements of it to better prepare its workforce for the future. Continue reading →
When I ask groups of managers what makes a good leader, I seldom have to wait long before someone says, “Vision!” and everyone nods. I have asked that question countless times for the past 20 years, to cohorts of senior executives, middle managers, and young students from many different sectors, industries, backgrounds, and countries. The answer is always the same: A vision inspires and moves people. Expansion, domination, freedom, equality, salvation — whatever it is, if a leader’s vision gives us direction and hope, we will follow. If you don’t have one, you can’t call yourself a leader.
This enchantment with vision, I believe, is the manifestation of a bigger problem: a disembodied conception of leadership. Visions hold our imagination captive, but they rarely have a positive effect on our bodies. In fact, we often end up sacrificing our bodies in the pursuit of different kinds of visions, and celebrating that fact — whether it is by dying for our countries or working ourselves to exhaustion for our companies. Visions work the same way whether mystics or leaders have them: They promise a future and demand our life. In some cases, that sacrifice is worth it. In others, it is not. Just as it can ignite us, a vision can burn us out. Continue reading →
While the Covid-19 pandemic hits and reshapes companies, industries, national economies, and our society in previously unthinkable ways, business leaders need to think beyond survival to the opportunities this crisis might create, not only for their own organizations but the greater good. Chief among these is a chance to hire talented people at a time when they might have trouble finding or keeping jobs elsewhere.
According to The Economist, four-fifths of CEOs worry about skill shortages — up from half in 2012 — while outside hiring at the top reached record highs, causing business for large global search firms to increase by 9% to 15% last year.
Now, many companies are laying off workers and downsizing. Some sectors are collapsing. It seems an unprecedented number of people, around the world, from new graduates to seasoned veterans, will be looking for employment. At the same time, a major force that had been fueling the intensity of the war for talent — globalization — might recede. As companies revisit their international expansion strategies and cross-border business practices, workers are recalculating their personal purpose and individual and family priorities, with serious implications for their geographic and work preferences and travel habits. Continue reading →