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Best-selling Author, Entrepreneur and UM Alum Talks Business, the Value of the Liberal Arts Education, and Saving Flint

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Michigan has inspired many generations of entrepreneurs with its culture of persistence and hard work. One of these is Steve Mariotti, graduate of the University of Michigan, founder of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, best-selling author of Goodbye Homeboy, his memoir, and tireless advocate for Michigan’s economic growth.

Mr. Mariotti (BBA ‘75, MBA ‘77) was born in Ann Arbor and lived for many years in Flint when his father taught at the General Motors Institute, before returning to Ann Arbor to study business. He credits those years for inspiring him to start countless businesses, some of them in elementary school, and for connecting him to the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation’s Canusa Games, a program that helped him envision the worldwide entrepreneurship education movement he started in the 1980s. Mr. Mariotti says, “Michigan was a wonderful place to grow up in and I am proud to have lived my first 25 years there.”

What are three things that Liberal Art Students should know about Entrepreneurship?

Firstly, know that most businesses are founded by Liberal Arts majors. Second, entrepreneurship is an art form to solve someone else’s problems. Finally, think of entrepreneurship as a tool you’ll always have, that doesn’t rely on a boss or coworkers, which can help you reach your highest potential.

Why do you feel that most successful businesses are founded by non-business students?

This is, in part, because non-business students benefit from fewer constraints and learn about so much outside of the traditional world of business. My own experience was that plenty of business school is spent learning how to be a great accountant, analyst or technician but, until recently, very little time was spent on developing the entrepreneurial mindset.

In addition, Liberal Arts students study sociology, psychology and so on, learning about human behaviour and patterns, and ultimately their market. And, a hallmark of a Liberal Arts education is learning effective communication–that critical ingredient that helps entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground, raise capital, and develop relationships with customers.

What are three things that you studied and focused on while attending the University of Michigan?

When I was a student, the world was just beginning to shift thanks to the globalization of markets, so I spent hours and hours in the International Finance Department studying those shifts. I was also fascinated by Public Choice Theory–the study of voting patterns based on economic self interest. I published three papers on it during undergrad: one on Austrian trade cycle theory, one of Public Choice Theory, Gordon Tullock and James Buchanan, and the last one called “An economic analysis of the voting on Michigan’s tax and expenditure limitation amendment.”

If you were the Mayor of Flint what are three things that you would take immediately?

Flint is a wonderful city and I am proud to have grown up there. But the city needs some policy changes to bring its citizens a higher quality of life. Getting inspired by the decades of grit and determination that made Flint the leader in the world auto-industry, I would recommend some bold policy shifts.

Take the water crisis head-on and make Flint the leader in how to get heavy metals out of a drinking supply.
Teach every child the basics of starting a business
Reform the tax code so that starting and running a business is easier

Future is digital and I have been doing Digital Marketing from the past 5 years, highly Experienced in Creative Marketing, Digital PR, Guest Blogging, Digital Analytics, Scientific Data Analysis, SEO, Social Media and related services.

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The 10X Ladies Conference Is Declaring 2020 The Decade For Women

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The next ten years are meant for women to continue growing their potential and succeeding in multiple areas, including business. To help achieve this, the iconic Elena Cardone is launching 10X Ladies.

10X Ladies is a conference designed for women who want it all. It will take place on February 24-25 in Las Vegas, with 10 amazing speakers and more. Some of the invited women are fashion designer Rebeca Minkoff, social media influencer Lisa Morales, and business coach Danelle Delgado.

The idea behind the conference is to expand on the 10X Growth Conference headed by her husband, Grant Cardone, which has been voted the #1 conference for marketing by Forbes, and has taken place every year since 2016.

“I decided to do 10X Ladies because I really wanted women to have the opportunity to be introduced to everything that we do over at Cardone Enterprises, Cardone Capital, Cardone Ventures.” Elena shares.

Grant Cardone runs an empire that includes a sales training University, Grant Cardone TV, a real estate company and more. This is why both Grant and Elena’s vision has always been to build an empire. For years, Grant has been organizing conferences and attended public speaking opportunities to share his ideas and tools with people.

“I feel that some of the ladies might not gravitate towards Grant, but they could come to the ecosystem through me. I didn’t want ladies to be left out of all the information Grant has and now I have as well.” Elena says. 

10X Ladies looks precisely to close the gap that exists between entrepreneurship and business-driven women who want to build an empire, and all the necessary resources to do so.

“Fifteen years ago when I was trying to figure all of this out, there wasn’t a successful couple [in business] that would have the curtains open to show how they do things. Grant and I found that if we hit a certain level, we would keep the doors open so that everyone could see and learn to fastrack their way to success.” Elena says.

It is because of the sense of responsibility that Elena feels now that she is in a position to help others, that she has gone all in into the planning of 10X Ladies, where speakers of the likes of Shay Rowbotton and Maria Conceicao will be sharing their experiences.

“I am very excited. 2020 is self declared the decade of the woman. 10X Ladies comes right on time for that, with amazing speakers and incredible women who can share their stories on how women develop who they are and help women develop their potential.” Elena stresses.

Elena, who first came to prominence as an actress, who starred in Two and a Half Men and Days of Our Lives, married Grant Cardone in 2004. She eventually got involved in business, which had always been Grant’s ballpark, and both began to build their brands in support of each other and their common brand. But her role is mostly to support what Grant does while raising their two kids, which some people see as too traditional.

“I would never tell any couple to do something because it is the woman-way or the man-way. It just happens I married a man who is amazing at business and you would have to be an extreme baller to keep up with him anyway. That was not my forte. I was an actress, I came from a different world. I am a creative person who does things in a visionary way. And what we try to do is divide and conquer and do what we are both good at. He happens to be very good at business, and I support him and give him my visions and ideas.” Elena says.

With 10X Ladies, Elena is creating the perfect platform to share the tools and resources she has had access to, with other women like her who are willing to build and grow their own empire, in whatever industry interests them. 

“The more I have created an empire the more I feel responsible to help women fastrack their way to success.” Elena emphasizes.

There are only 500 spots to attend this fantastic one-of-a-kind conference is Las Vegas, which promises to be the first of many. To find out more about Elena’s work and 10X Ladies, go here.

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How To Make Money On Amazon FBA In 2020

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Tony Delgado talks about How To Make Money On Amazon In 2020 and various Amazon FBA hacks at Arecibo, Puerto Rico at the UPR College University.

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Primary Founder, James Billson, Shares Insight On How to Build Better Software with Application Modelling

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James Billson has seen it all in the tech world. He started his first pizza delivery business at a time when Wi-Fi didn’t exist and orders had to be delivered by fax.

This business transformed into a software development outfit, and with it, he witnessed the rise and fall of tech in the early 2000s.

He made his grand exit with a sale to international advertising behemoth BBDO. He now runs Primary,  the result of his years of development service experience. In this article, he shares a simple agile technique for building better software.

Agile methodologies are here to stay. They have received widespread acceptance in the sphere of software development. An agile approach helps teams to work together as well as with their stakeholders.

Agile practices help development organizations focus on their individual end-users and the way they interact with products.

Actions speak louder than words, and in software that is part of the problem. In the Agile Manifesto, having  ‘working software’ is prioritized over compiling comprehensive documentation that exhaustively defines the product before development. Coincidentally, this manifesto was written by coders, and the universal belief of a coder is, if there is a problem, code it. If we extend the definition of ‘working software’ to include an application model, opportunities to work faster and more efficiently arise.

Introducing Application Modelling

Much like in manufacturing, product modelling can be used as an alternative route to effective application design. Modelling is the process of creating a simulation that gives insight into how the real product will function at the end of the development process.

There are many merits to this approach. First, it re-creates the full size and expanse of the product, in a holistic full-dimensional way that allows due consideration of all its facets. This way, it helps the team to understand the features of the product better and translate it into a design that the users can also comprehend. Finally, it presents all the necessary information in a light and vivid format rather than the dull and impenetrable nature of typical requirements documentation…

With a well-developed application model, there is direct access to the full scope required for the development process. It removes the likelihood of overlooking future steps and pathways by revealing the features of the future product.

Involving the Whole Team with Modelling

Modelling creates a unique environment for synergy among the UX team, the developers, and the product owners. A product model is an agile system that allows real-time creation and modification. All parties can raise potential concerns and create a matching solution as work progresses. In comparison to a ‘straight-to-code’ process where decisions are usually made during development, application modelling greatly saves time and team resources.

Telling Stories with User Flows

James Billson founded Primary.app to give developers an easy way to conduct product modelling. However, beyond simply using a tool, there must also be a systematic approach.

Developing a product model should be very much like telling a story. A story has a single important ingredient that allows its teller to connect with audiences. This is the narrative. To find this narrative, the development team must create user flows. A user flow is a series of steps that outlines the journey of the product user through the life cycle of the application. The user is the hero, and over each step, we see what they do, how they do it, and why they do it.

The narrative of the flow is the backbone to which you attach the details and conditions that will inform the different aspects of the product work. Once you have that overreaching structure in place, you can manipulate and modify details, creating different user scenarios and comparing end results. All of this can be done without making any grave changes to the main body of the model.

User flow models have another advantage in helping product managers to avoid the pitfall of ‘happy pathways’.These happy paths are easy and fun when you are looking at an engaging prototype that has all the characteristics of your minimum desirable feature set. However, the building process will reveal all the other less exciting processes that are needed to support these main functions, leading to a development lag and a generally uncoordinated process. A user flow-based model will highlight these necessary support functions and help you stay on top of them from the very beginning.

Modelling is The New Documentation

Comprehensive documentation fell out of favour because it became seen as a blocker to creativity. Development teams want the freedom to identify opportunities that arise from seeing the product in operation.  As decisions are made in development, the document becomes increasingly redundant. The long descriptive passages and confusing diagrams did not lend themselves to easy updating. 

Application modelling completely redefines all of this. It is a light system that can be edited and modified in real-time. The entire team can make input based on the progress to date and see those ideas implemented in the following sprints. The result is a clean and compact model that mirrors the reality of the developed application. 

Conclusion

At Primary.app, James and his team have created a system that allows users to build large application models that are easily modifiable and constantly under development. Models can be changed any time, in response to key drivers that affect the app functionality in real life. It is as easy as changing sheets or doing the dishes before heading out.

Application modelling is the future of software development. User flow-based models of your app can be created with minimal resources, and then used to engage product team members for maximum and meaningful output. What you get is a comprehensive system that can be modified and iterated to synchronize with your desired result perfectly.

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