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Mark Zuckerberg Says He Was an ‘Awkward’ Leader at Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg Says He Was an ‘Awkward’ Leader at Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg Says He Was an ‘Awkward’ Leader at Facebook


Mark Zuckerberg may be the founder of one of the biggest tech companies in the world — with a bank account to match — but that doesn’t mean being a public figure has been easy for him.

On the Meta-owned platform, Threads, Zuckerberg replied to a post that called out his age (19) when he founded Facebook in 2004. The now-billionaire said that, at the time, he was “awkward” when learning the ropes.

Related: Mark Zuckerberg Calls Out Apple, Outlines Meta AI Strategy

“I was 19 and didn’t know anything about running a company, communicating publicly,” he wrote.

“Being awkward and getting negative feedback on how I came across definitely made me more careful and scripted,” Zuckerberg added. “Still not my best thing, but getting a bit more comfortable just being me as I get older.”

Zuckerberg’s followers applauded his honesty on the social platform in response.

“It feels like we’re growing up together,” one user said. “It’s both heartwarming and inspiring in a way.”

“You’re doing a great job,” another penned. “Every CEO can learn something from your experience in publicity.”

In 2018, Zuckerberg told Freakonomics Radio that he never intended to build a company and that he “was just trying to help connect people at colleges and a few schools.”

Related: Zuckerberg Sweeps Up $17 Million Estate in Hawaii

Meta’s CEO has made waves over the years with his changing public persona as he ages, which now includes a passion for MMA fighting, watersports, and being a father of three daughters.

Zuckerberg’s net worth as of Wednesday morning was an estimated $174 billion.



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Delta CEO Speaks Out About Flight Cancelations, CrowdStrike

Delta CEO Speaks Out About Flight Cancelations, CrowdStrike

Delta CEO Speaks Out About Flight Cancelations, CrowdStrike


Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian is speaking out after thousands of flight cancelations left passengers stranded, delayed, and without luggage.

In a memo early Wednesday morning, Bastian told customers that he was hopeful the worst was over and systems should be up and running after last week’s CrowdStrike outage that affected one of Delta’s key crew tracking-related tools. Bastian also said in the memo that he’s read customers’ frustrated emails and apologized to those impacted.

Related: Delta Is Now Under Investigation as the Airline Continues to Cancel Flights After Mass Outage: ‘Lost a Customer for Life’

“While our initial efforts to stabilize the operations were difficult and frustratingly slow and complex, we have made good progress this week and the worst impacts of the CrowdStrike-caused outage are clearly behind us,” Bastian wrote. “We anticipate cancellations Wednesday to be minimal. Thursday is expected to be a normal day, with the airline fully recovered and operating at a traditional level of reliability.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, Delta had canceled 41 flights — just 1% of its total flights for the day — and delayed 513. In comparison, on Tuesday, the airline had canceled 511 flights and delayed a whopping 1,685.

On Wednesday, the same day his memo was released, Bastian arrived in Paris ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympics, where Delta is the official airline for Team USA.

“Ed delayed this long-planned business trip until he was confident the airline was firmly on the path to recovery,” Delta told CNN in a statement. “As of Wednesday morning, Delta’s operations were returning to normal. Ed remains fully engaged with senior operations leaders.”

Related: CrowdStrike CEO Responds to Its Update Largest IT Outage in History

The airline said it has continued to provide affected customers with meals, accommodations, and ground transport in addition to vouchers, reimbursements, and SkyMiles.

Delta was down over 9% year over year as of Wednesday afternoon.



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How Nvidia Pivoted From Graphics Card Maker to AI Chip Giant

How Nvidia Pivoted From Graphics Card Maker to AI Chip Giant

How Nvidia Pivoted From Graphics Card Maker to AI Chip Giant


A decade ago, Nvidia was a major graphics card maker, vying with competitors like AMD and Intel for dominance. Now it’s an AI giant with 70% to 95% of the market share for AI chips, and the brains of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. It’s also the best-performing stock with the highest return in the past 25 years.

Why did Nvidia invest in AI chips over 10 years ago, ahead of the competition? CEO Jensen Huang and board member Mark Stevens, Nvidia’s two largest individual shareholders, talked to Sequoia Capital partner Roelof Botha to explain what Botha called “one of the most remarkable business pivots in history.”

Nvidia’s original product was 3D graphics cards for PC games, but company leaders noticed by the mid-2000s that the PC market was hitting a growth limit.

Related: Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang Turned Down a Merger Offer in the Company’s Early Days, According to Insiders. Here’s Why.

“We felt we were always gonna be boxed into the PC gaming market and always knocking heads with Intel if we didn’t develop a brand new market that nobody else was in,” Stevens explained.

Jensen Huang, co-founder and chief executive officer of Nvidia. Photographer: Lionel Ng/Bloomberg via Getty Images

That need for a new market intersected with a product Nvidia already had on hand: its graphics processor unit, or GPU, which could be used to power tasks outside of gaming. Researchers at universities across the world began exploring the graphics cards, eventually building advanced computers with them.

Related: Is It Too Late to Buy Nvidia? Former Morgan Stanley Strategist Says ‘Buy High, Sell Higher.’

Huang recalled meeting a quantum chemist in Taiwan who showed him a closet with a “giant array” of Nvidia’s GPUs on its shelves; house fans were rotating to keep the system cool.

“He said, ‘I built my own personal supercomputer.’ And he said to me that because of our work… he’s able to do his work in his lifetime,” Huang said.

Other researchers, like Meta AI chief Yann LeCun in New York, began reaching out to Nvidia about the computing power of its chips. Nvidia began considering the AI market when AI had yet to enter the mainstream and was a “zero billion dollar market” or a market that had yet to materialize.

“There was no guarantee that AI would ever really emerge because, keep in mind, AI had had many stops and starts over the last 40 years,” Stevens said. “I mean, AI has been around as a computer science concept for decades. But it had never really taken off as a huge market opportunity.”

Related: Nvidia Is ‘Slowly Becoming the IBM of the AI Era,’ According to the Leader of a $2 Billion AI Startup

Huang and other company leaders still believed in AI and decided to invest billions in the tech in the 2010s.

“This was a giant pivot for our company,” Huang said. “The company’s focus was steered away from its core business.”

Huang highlighted the extra cost, talent, and skills Nvidia had to account for with the pivot, as it affected the entire company. It took 10 to 15 years of effort, but that business decision led to Nvidia powering the AI revolution with an early ChatGPT partnership.

“Every CEO’s job is supposed to look around corners,” Huang said. “You want to be the person who believes the company can achieve more than the company believes it can.”

Related: How to Be a Billionaire By 25, According to a College Dropout Turned CEO Worth $1.6 Billion



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How to Be Successful in Business Without an MBA

How to Be Successful in Business Without an MBA

How to Be Successful in Business Without an MBA


Josh Kaufman is the bestselling author behind “The Personal MBA,” a business training book that sold 900,000 copies, and the speaker behind the 2013 TED Talk “The First 20 Hours — How to Learn Anything,” which has been viewed over 39 million times.

Kaufman says that the average person with an idea can earn $10,000 a month by starting their own business — no higher education required.

“I think it’s achievable for most people,” he told host Steven Bartlett in a July episode of The Diary of A CEO podcast.

Related: How to Be a Billionaire By 25, According to a College Dropout Turned CEO Worth $1.6 Billion

Kaufman explained that some first-time entrepreneurs think that starting a business requires a lot of new things to understand and that only people with a business education can do it. But, he says, you don’t need an MBA, which can cost up to $250,000 at top-ranked schools, to create a successful company.

“For better or worse, when adults decide that they’re interested in business, the first thing they do is go to Google… type in the letters MBA and start looking for graduate business school programs and I think that’s a mistake,” Kaufman said.

Three popular industries that MBA students go into after graduating are consulting, finance and accounting, and technology, according to a 2024 report from the Graduate Management Admission Council. Kaufman says if you’re trying to enter those industries, an MBA could be worth it as kind of an expensive interview. But for entrepreneurship, he said an MBA isn’t necessary.

Kaufman says would-be entrepreneurs can skip the MBA because although business is complex, it’s not complicated, and most ideas are “common sense and simple arithmetic.” So even though entrepreneurs need to know and handle complex situations, running a business isn’t about a six-figure degree — it’s about how someone wants to create value in the world, in Kaufman’s view.

Kaufman noted a prominent 2004 study from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and said, “If you’re good enough to get in [to an MBA], you’re good enough to do well regardless.”

The First Questions to Ask When Thinking About Starting Your First Business (MBA or No MBA)

Kaufman says there are a few questions to start with when beginning your journey.

1. Is this a big enough problem that someone would pay money to solve it?

The answer will help you understand the market size for the idea, and its financial potential, he says. For example, if you were starting a candle-making business, you would think about why someone would buy a candle and at what price point.

“A lot of the things around value creation comes come down to making trade-offs between competing priorities,” Kaufman said. “The perfect product or the perfect offering would deliver every single thing that the customer would like and it would be free.”

Related: How to Start Your Dream Business This Weekend, According to a Tech CEO Worth $36 Million

2. How does your idea attract the attention of people who may want or need what this business provides?

Human beings are driven by certain fundamental drives, Kaufman says, so marketing could play into that.

“The packaging matters, the affiliation matters, the story matters,” Kaufman said.

3. How will you ask for sales and what does the process look like?

This is the part where money ideally comes in and business owners convince someone to become a customer.

The end goal of a sale isn’t just to get a customer, but to ensure that they’re happy with their purchase and to get them to keep buying for as long as possible.

“I think there’s an enormous amount of business knowledge and skill that you can develop on your own by understanding the most important concepts around what businesses are and how they work and using them in your day-to-day life, using it in the career that you already have, using it to start something new on your own,” Kaufman said.

Related: This One Talent Is ‘the Greatest Skill You Can Develop’ for Entrepreneurship, Says Professor Scott Galloway



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Barbara Corcoran: Businesses Needs These 2 Kinds of People

Barbara Corcoran: Businesses Needs These 2 Kinds of People

Barbara Corcoran: Businesses Needs These 2 Kinds of People


Barbara Corcoran is well-known as a bubbly spitfire who isn’t afraid to speak her mind, especially on “Shark Tank.”

But you don’t need to be as extroverted as Corcoran to be successful in business. In fact, in a new Instagram post on Tuesday, Corcoran said that every successful business needs an introvert and an extrovert to make decisions.

Related: Barbara Corcoran on NAR Settlement: ‘It’s a Scary Time for Real Estate Agents’

The real estate maven says her founding business partner at the Corcoran Group, Esther Kaplan, was an “extreme introvert” and explained how she divided up the delegations in the business based on whose strengths played best to different roles.

“I did all the categories, the recruiting, the sales, the marketing, everything that a great extrovert naturally does well,” Corcoran explained. “And she did the control, the systems, the banking, the legal, everything that I couldn’t do. And together, we were a fabulous team.”

Corcoran called the combination of extrovert and introvert in leadership an “unbeatable combination.”

The “Shark Tank” star spoke last September about her decision to hire Kaplan back in 1973 in an Instagram video, when she admitted that she almost didn’t bring her on at first because she was so soft-spoken — until she looked inside her purse and saw how organized she was.

Related: Barbara Corcoran Asks These 3 Questions Before Hiring Someone New

“She had the tiniest tidiest filing system I ever saw, with partitions that were labeled all inside her purse. With a mind like that, I knew I wanted my business in her purse,” Corcoran said. “I opened a position for her on the spot and told her I was eager to take her under my wing and teach her everything she needed to know to sell.”

The pair ran the Corcoran Group together until Pamela Liebman took over from Kaplan and Corcoran as President and CEO of the company in 2000.





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I’m Disabled — And Here Are 3 Meaningful Ways Companies Can Foster a More Inclusive Workplace

I’m Disabled — And Here Are 3 Meaningful Ways Companies Can Foster a More Inclusive Workplace

I’m Disabled — And Here Are 3 Meaningful Ways Companies Can Foster a More Inclusive Workplace


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Disability Awareness Month is not just about acknowledging the hardships that come with having a disability — it’s also about recognizing the work of disabled people and how we can make physical spaces, policies and practices more accessible in the workplace.

I’ve lived with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, but I’ve never let it affect my corporate position for over two decades, and I’ve seen firsthand what true inclusion can do for an organization.

Related: How to Revolutionize Your Organization Through the Power of Inclusive Leadership

Here are three meaningful ways companies can observe Disability Awareness Month and make lasting changes:

1. Organizing educational workshops and training sessions

Team-building training and workshops are the best ways to celebrate Disability Awareness Month. Workshops can dispel myths and prejudices about people with disabilities and educate employees on appropriate etiquette and awareness when discussing and working with people with disabilities. This includes appropriate and inappropriate behavior and language, accessibility considerations and more. Workshops and training sessions can serve as the foundation for creating an inviting environment that can promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace.

  • Bring in guest speakers: Invite experts, advocates or a person living with a disability to share their insight and experiences. Real-world stories can help employees better understand the difficulties and triumphs faced by people with disabilities. These events are also a way for employees with disabilities to be guest speakers, further enhance the dialogue and build a sense of community and belonging.
  • Sensitization workshops: Conduct a workshop to educate employees on how to interact with people with disabilities and use correct terminology. The workshop should also create a safe environment where people can learn more about people with disabilities.

Employees will have a better understanding of disabilities, which can lead to more sympathetic and supportive work policies and better accommodation practices and policies within the workplace.

2. Heighten accessibility and accommodation practices

In honor of Disability Awareness Month, take a closer look at the current accessibility and accommodation practices within your company. Ensuring that your working environment, from the physical perspective, is universally accessible to everyone gives a foundation for creating an inclusive environment. Accommodation policies are intended to provide a barrier-free environment that allows people with disabilities to access employment, public services and facilities as independently as possible.

Accessible workplaces are not just about responding to minimum legal requirements; they ensure all employees can perform to the best of their abilities without unnecessary barriers.

  • Accessibility audit: Have accessibility experts conduct assessments of the physical and electronic workplace. This will reveal where accessibility might be lacking, be it ramps and signs or websites and internal platforms that are more friendly for persons with vision or hearing impairments.
  • Update accommodation policies: Frequently reevaluate your policies to ensure they are fully implemented across the workforce. Requests to update accommodation policies should not be met with friction — do not automatically refuse an accommodation request or have an inflexible policy that doesn’t allow exceptions. Implement a simple and straightforward procedure for employees to submit a request for accommodations via a dedicated portal with step-by-step instructions where they feel heard and supported. Doing this can alleviate potential aggression or harassment and create a more inclusive and supportive workplace environment. This can also lead to a great opportunity for empathy training for HR and upper management.
  • Invest in assistive technologies: All employees should be provided with tools and gadgets that will enhance their productivity, such as screen readers, voice recognition technologies, and ergonomic office supplies.

Employers who make their places of work accessible to all consider this a good inclusiveness policy. Such actions would benefit not only the specified employees with disabilities but also all employees, as diversity is an aspect of mutual respect towards employees and results in higher morale and productivity.

Related: How to Embrace People With Disabilities In Your Business: A Disability Advocate Explains

3. Celebrate and recognize employee contributions by people with disabilities

Another effective strategy for observing Disability Awareness Month is to celebrate employees with disabilities. Recognition and appreciation can be given in various ways, including honors, awards and talent performance.

Recognition enlightens and accentuates a sense of worth that comes with having a disability among employees.

  • Spotlight stories: Feature stories of employees with disabilities in company newsletters, social media and internal communication channels. Share their stories, accomplishments and contributions because they will help the team feel inspired and educated.
  • Awards and recognition: Incorporate awards specifically devoted to honoring the hard work and achievements of all employees, including staff with disabilities.
  • Talent showcases: Organize an event where employees have a platform to showcase their talents and skills, such as art, music, writing or any other artistry, to appreciate the diversity of talent within the organization.

Celebrating and recognizing the contributions of all employees boosts their morale and makes them feel like part of the team. It also sets an excellent opportunity to appreciate all forms of diversity in the workplace.

Conclusion

Disability Awareness Month affords companies the perfect avenue to increase inclusivity and support for their employees with various disability conditions. Ways to achieve this would be through educational workshops, raising office accessibility, and recognizing contributions by people with disabilities.

These would not only benefit the employees with disabilities but also truly enhance the organizational culture by making it more robust and much more cohesive. Embracing all these makes for real change in life, whereby each employee feels valued and can contribute at their best. I, being one who has gone through the challenges and triumphs of being in the corporate world while disabled, can attest to what a tremendous difference genuine inclusion makes.

Let this month not just be about awareness but about concretizing actions that will make life different for employees with disabilities. Together, we can build workplaces where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.



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4 Ways Internalized Oppression is Holding You Back from Success — And Ways to Overcome It

4 Ways Internalized Oppression is Holding You Back from Success — And Ways to Overcome It

4 Ways Internalized Oppression is Holding You Back from Success — And Ways to Overcome It


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consultant, I can tell you systemic racism, sexism, and a laundry list of other institutional factors do impact the success of entrepreneurs of color. However, sometimes, the problems we face when reaching for success do not come from the outside but rather from the inside. Here’s what internalized oppression is, four ways it could be holding you back from success, and how to overcome it.

What is internalized oppression?

By definition, internalized oppression is the belief among a group of historically marginalized people that the negative stereotypes and messages about their inferiority and the parallel messages about the dominant group’s superiority are true. Here’s how internalized oppression could be showing up in your life.

1. You don’t feel good enough for certain opportunities

If a great opportunity appears in your professional life — say, a potential partnership, a promotion, or an invitation to speak about your work — you might be tempted to turn down opportunities because of internalized oppression and imposter syndrome. You’re not alone. According to a 2020 study conducted by Maryville University, some 70% of Americans have experienced imposter syndrome; however, research shows that race can amplify its effects, especially for Black folks. It’s important to understand how internalized oppression and imposter syndrome could diminish your confidence in the face of opportunities.

What you can do about it: Lean into positive affirmations. Write down your best qualities or look in the mirror and verbally acknowledge and recite them. Whether you have great ideas, excellent public speaking skills, an effortless ability to network or amazing amounts of creativity, once you believe in and recognize your innate skills and gifts, you can start to see a new opportunity as divine intervention as opposed to something you’re unworthy of.

Related: 5 Qualities of Black Excellence Overlooked in the Workplace

2. You uplift the voices of those in the dominant culture while suppressing other marginalized voices

Internalized oppression can cause us to not only feel bad about ourselves and our own ideas but also about ideas from others who share our identities. Representation matters. If we only hear ideas from the dominant culture being acted upon and celebrated, it can be hard to uplift ideas from other marginalized people in the workplace. It’s not necessarily our fault. A surprisingly low 3.2% of senior leadership roles at large companies are filled by Black professionals, and for those individuals, it’s not easy to feel their ideas are heard or valued.

What you can do about it: Begin to understand the roots of where the urge to diminish other’s success is coming from. Engage in introspection around your childhood, family dynamics and early career experiences. It could be that in your formative years, your opinion and ideas were diminished by a person of authority and that could have present effects on your professional life.

Related: 6 Ways to Offer Allyship to Black Entrepreneurs

3. You pull other marginalized people down when they’re up for promotions or advancement

When you’re feeling low, it might be tempting to pull others down to your level. However, this mentality is holding you and them back from success. As mentioned earlier, internalized oppression and a lack of representation could be perpetuating feelings of powerlessness and inferiority, which can play a role in how you feel about yourself and others like you in the workplace.

What you can do about it: Imagine that the person who is winning in the office, getting that promotion, and succeeding is you. Close your eyes and see yourself in their position. Internalized oppression can cause us to feel in competition with others at our level. Instead of dragging them down, imagine what it would feel like if you were the one succeeding and channel that energy the next time you see another marginalized person doing well. Who knows, perhaps you are the next person in line for that advancement.

Related: The ‘Us vs. Them’ Mentality Is Tearing Our Communities Apart. Here’s How to Bridge The Gaps That Divide Us.

4. You stay silent when injustice happens in the workplace

It’s not easy to stand up when another person is being treated unfairly. After all, internalized oppression tells us that we “deserve it” or that our inferiority justifies such treatment. But it’s not true. Out of fear that we may experience the same retribution for standing up and being vocal, some marginalized folks might turn the other cheek to injustice or mistreatment when it happens to others in the industry or workplace. When we stand up for others, we stand up for ourselves as well.

What you can do about it: Practice speaking up in the mirror. Perhaps you have witnessed an injustice at work recently, try to replay that scenario at home in private and experiment with finding artful ways to defend someone on the receiving end of discrimination or harassment. Equip yourself with the language, practice and skills to feel confident when faced with the important task of speaking up.

Final thoughts

When it comes to DEI, the work begins within, whether you’re working on your own business or serving as an employee. To achieve more success, we have to find the power inside us and dispel the false narratives of unworthiness and imposter syndrome. The best source for empowerment can often be found and fostered in the community. When we lift other marginalized folks out of the depths of oppression and celebrate their wins and successes, we can often find the strength to give ourselves that same support and hope.



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How TikTok’s Bento Box Queen Got Her Start

How TikTok’s Bento Box Queen Got Her Start

How TikTok’s Bento Box Queen Got Her Start


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Sulhee Jessica Woo found viral fame by leaning into authenticity.

Woo — known as the Bento Box Queen — catapulted to social media stardom by sharing her simple yet beautifully crafted DIY bento-style lunches, capturing the hearts of millions with her loving and creative touch.

Since launching her TikTok account in January 2020, Woo has amassed more than 5.6 million followers who eagerly watch her mix of cooking, DIY, family fun, beauty and lifestyle content.

Woo’s journey to TikTok stardom started when she realized the platform’s potential for sharing everyday activities. Encouraged by her sister, who saw her talents and creativity as perfect for YouTube, Woo initially tried her hand at the more production-heavy platform. However, it was TikTok’s simplicity and relatability that resonated with her.

“The aha moment with TikTok was like, ‘Wow, these are just regular people, normal people who share what they do every day,'” Woo recalls to Restaurant Influencers host Shawn Walchef of Cali BBQ Media.

This realization allowed her to share her life authentically and effortlessly and connect more deeply with her followers.

The importance of sharing your story

Woo emphasizes the importance of building a community in the new creator economy.

She’s made a point of being authentic and vulnerable on her YouTube, TikTok and Instagram platforms, which has created a supportive community — and opened the doors to opportunities like writing her cookbook, Let’s Make Some Lunch, and attending Netflix’s Tom Brady roast.

Woo believes anyone can share their journey and be successful by being authentic and relatable.

“Whether you’re a dishwasher, a busser, a server or bartender, the cooks, anybody,” she explains. “You can just share that journey, too. That’s the hardest part, I think, is people sharing their journey and being vulnerable … but anybody can do it.”

With a focus on family, food and genuine connections, Woo continues to captivate her audience and build a lasting legacy in the world of online content creation.

About Restaurant Influencers

Restaurant Influencers is brought to you by Toast, the powerful restaurant point-of-sale and management system that helps restaurants improve operations, increase sales and create a better guest experience.

Toast — Powering Successful Restaurants. Learn more about Toast.

Restaurant Influencers is also supported by Ovation. Learn how Ovation’s Guest Feedback Platform actually drives revenue with actionable insights here.





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Join the #1 Breakfast Franchise with Eggs Up Grill!

Join the #1 Breakfast Franchise with Eggs Up Grill!

Join the #1 Breakfast Franchise with Eggs Up Grill!


3 Benefits of owning an Eggs Up Grill franchise:

  1. Ranked #1 breakfast franchise with a proven business model and strong average unit volumes.
  2. Flexible daytime hours from 6 am to 2 pm promote work-life balance and staff retention.
  3. Comprehensive training, supply chain support, active field support, and robust marketing.

Eggs Up Grill is a breakfast, brunch, and lunch franchise that offers a warm, community-focused dining experience with made-to-order American-style meals. Recognized as the number one breakfast franchise by Entrepreneur magazine for three consecutive years, it offers a single day-part model with significant growth potential and a guest-centric culture. Click Here to connect me with this Eggs Up Grill.

Key Facts:

  • Minimum Initial Investment: $752,000 – $988,000
  • Initial Franchise Fee: $45,000
  • Liquid Capital Required: $150,000
  • Net Worth Required: $500,000



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This CEO Reveals The Secret to Sustaining Innovation

This CEO Reveals The Secret to Sustaining Innovation

This CEO Reveals The Secret to Sustaining Innovation


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

One of the hardest truths about innovation is that today’s solution may create future problems. That is to say, no solitary win offers the promise of continued achievement.

Whether companies have enjoyed smashing success or are grasping for initial traction, they face many of the same obstacles to forward motion. The deeper they become entrenched in today’s practices and products, the less likely they are to make fresh gains.

As the leader of a company composed of iconic brands like TiVo, which introduced the DVR, and DTS, which roared to success delivering Jurassic Park’s spine-chilling dinosaur sounds to movie theaters, I’ve witnessed the thrill of developing game-changing advancements in entertainment tech, as well as the pressure to steer those businesses into the future. Here’s what I’ve learned about navigating barriers to sustaining innovation.

Related: To Achieve Sustainable Success, You Need to Stop Focusing on Disruption. Here’s Why — and What You Must Focus on Instead.

Objectivity is a superpower

Focusing on previous success can cause us to cling too tightly to what once worked rather than keep an eye on the future.

There’s no shortage of examples of this in business. Take Kodak, which had the means to corner the digital imaging market but insisted on modeling its digital business after its film business. So when digital photography, and eventually mobile phones, transformed the market entirely, Kodak filed for bankruptcy — a failure of leadership stuck in the past.

Progress requires quashing that tight grip on our accomplishments and instead striving for objectivity. This means constantly evaluating opportunities on the horizon while also monitoring incoming threats. One of the most important assets leadership can bring to the table? Clear-eyed analysis, which can help signal when it’s time to pivot.

But it’s not always easy to do. My company has reached this crossroads time and again. For example, we saw tremendous growth when our revolutionary theatrical audio system debuted with Jurassic Park. But that technology was film-based. Within a few years of the movie’s release, it became clear that the future was digital. So we sold half the business — the same technology that had catapulted us to prominence. It was an emotionally grueling decision. It was also the right one, allowing us to reposition for the digital world.

It’s important to note, however, that this kind of radical objectivity can only happen within a company culture that welcomes constructive criticism and transparency — one where leaders, managers and teams challenge one another to overcome success bias.

Company culture should center on adding value

Another hindrance to innovation? Failing to bring your people along for the ride.

In a global survey, 75% of respondents reported that they weren’t granted input in developing a shared vision for their work. A similar proportion said their work didn’t give them purpose.

A culture lacking in purpose — the “why” — is a recipe for stagnation. Cultivating progress requires a clear expectation that employees will engage and seek to add continued value. Simultaneously, it requires a company to motivate employees to grow their skills and contributions — promoting outside-the-box thinking, fostering personal and professional development and providing opportunities for career advancement.

However, employees need more than purpose; they need to trust that their input is valued.

I’ve found that our team tends to be more accepting of forward motion when they’re given some context and agency over how it will occur. We begin enacting change with a clear plan about the who, what, and when, and also thinking through the effects on all constituents. Sometimes, we start with a pilot or survey to gather important change-related information. This effort readies the waters by allowing for employee feedback and the buy-in required for larger shifts ahead.

I saw this firsthand with a major merger we did in 2020. We developed a clear strategy to combine and then separate the two parts of our business on a specified timeline. We explained it up front with plenty of context, found our change champions, and then spent the next two years executing and adapting to successfully realize our strategic plan.

Interestingly, a transformational opportunity like a merger offers impactful ways to evolve and innovate culture, too. I encourage leaders to integrate as early as possible to not only ensure the success of the transaction but to also challenge and reset cultural norms. Reinforcing the best cultural aspects from both companies ensures a refresh.

Data is essential — but It doesn’t get the last word

Data equals power. Except when it doesn’t.

JCPenney made this costly mistake. The company used data suggesting that customers wanted lower prices to justify moving away from promotional pricing to everyday low pricing. The effort failed; they didn’t account for their customers being motivated not just by low prices but by promotions themselves.

I highly value data. And sometimes, it can explain a discrete issue. However, when tackling a nuanced problem, interpretation and contextualization are as important as the numbers themselves.

For us, that looks like constantly weighing new data against the longer arcs of technology, like the concept that processing power increases over time and costs decrease. We also figure in our decades of wins and missteps.

Sometimes, this bundle of information points us to critical insights. Years ago, when consumers began to use headphones, the technology didn’t yet exist to package high-quality spatial sound into them. At that time, data showed that people wanted convenience over quality, so the industry made headphones to meet that demand.

We interpreted the data differently, anticipating that, eventually, our research combined with those technological arcs would allow us to deliver a high-quality headphone experience, and that consumers would demand quality again. Fast forward to today: our headphones are now the preeminent technology used for advanced gaming.

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Partnerships can unlock unseen potential

Laser focus on internal innovation can impede another important avenue of progress: collaboration.

Most innovation doesn’t arise from scratch but from tweaking an existing product to create a surprising new feature. For us, progress often means building partnerships in adjacent industries. The key? Both parties must benefit from tapping into each other’s markets and technologies to deliver something all their customers love.

These powerful relationships have resulted in countless innovations. For example, a partnership with BMW has transferred our immersive entertainment technology from the living room into vehicles. This collaboration opened a new vertical for us while allowing BMW to meet the demands of drivers increasingly using their cars as a third space for relaxation.

Sustaining innovation is never a small feat. It takes tremendous and continuous effort to pivot a large, established organization with many moving parts. On the flip side, younger companies may lack the capital and sophisticated data required to shift gears or have founders who are too shackled to early visions or wins. Regardless, embracing objectivity, fostering a culture of continuously adding value and looking to contextualized data and external stakeholders for hints can position a business to avoid the one-hit-wonder trap and, instead, enjoy the exhilaration of many more innovations to come.



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