Focus is a difficult state to achieve and even more difficult to sustain over time, even for longtime entrepreneurs like Chip Paucek, CEO and co-founder of 2U.

If you read Paucek‘s resume, you might think, “Nothing but success!” He founded Cerebellum, which created the “Standard Deviants” educational program. CEO of Hooked on Phonics, which those of a certain age can remember be ubiquitous in advertising. All that before 2U, which had its initial public offering this year and has real revenue.

And there is success in those first two companies, with each finding success and becoming cultural touchstones for a generation of children. But according to Paucek, who spoke recently at a Startup Grind DC event, he feels he’s finally hit it big with 2U, which helps universities offer degree programs online through cloud-based software-as-a-service solutions.

Cerebellum and Hooked on Phonics weren’t failure, Paucek said, but each had shortcomings — broadly, in how the idea transitioned to a long-lasting business model. (read more…)

As an Internet/tech entrepreneur since 2005, I’ve founded multiple tech startups, written on various publications, and featured in dozens of interviews and podcasts. My writings blend commentary, research, and perspective on business strategies, leadership, enterprise communication, digital marketing trends and, at times, just my two cents as founder of multiple startups.

Verbal communication is absolutely essential, especially in a business environment. It’s crucial that executives are able to communicate effectively. CEOs, being the head of business, must be able to communicate exceptionally well. There’s actually a lot more to it than you’d think. As such, I’ve put together a list of key criteria designed to sharpen a CEO’s communicative skills.

  1. Posture can affect your speaking voice: Slouching in a chair, hunching over, leaning on something or otherwise reclining can weaken the power of your voice. As CEO, you want to be able to inspire and command with your voice. Poor posture can greatly hinder this.
  2. (read more…)

Beware of bright shiny objects!

That could be a lesson contained in J.R.R. Tolkein’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy when we see characters who find themselves in difficulty because they have strayed from their moral center.

Today, the term “bright shiny objects” is used in reference to organizations that cannot formulate a strategy, or if they do develop one, they fail to adhere to it. As a result such companies end up chasing after things that on the surface look appealing but upon investigation prove to be untenable.

Bright shiny objects are distractors. As such they belong in the realm of fables not in the corridors of management. (read more…)

Oscar E. Torres, President and Chief Operating Officer of Kellstrom Materials, is responsible for all aspects of the company’s worldwide operations. Prior to this, he was Chief Financial Officer of Kellstrom Aerospace, the parent company of Kellstrom Materials. Before joining Kellstrom Aerospace, Torres held various positions with KPMG LLP.

In this post, sponsored by Kellstrom, Torres talks about the current and future state of the airline industry.

Question: What is the biggest challenge your company is facing this year? The next 10 years?

Answer: Kellstrom Materials provides aftermarket parts and repair services to commercial aviation operators, and maintenance, repair and overhaul companies. Our business is primarily driven by the demand for engine and airframe heavy maintenance, phase checks and line maintenance. Companies are speeding up the retirement of older, higher maintenance aircraft, creating a younger global fleet due to significant improvements in the reliability and fuel efficiency of new aircraft and engines, a global low interest rate environment, which has reduced the cost of new aircraft and engines, as well as an increase in the production rates of new aircraft. (read more…)

a world gone social book coverIndustrial Age leadership was good, or at least efficient. It enabled us to get the most out of every worker; expectations were set; consequences for not meeting minimums were clear. People did what they were told, and went home.

But the Industrial Age is over. And it’s not coming back.

Welcome to the Social Age.

We humans are social down to our very core; social is not just what we do, it’s what we are. Connecting and communicating; sharing ideas, news, tips and sometimes warnings; making introductions; growing our influence. That’s all we’ve ever done.

At first, of course, connections were limited to the confines of our village. Posted letters then tied us together over distances. Phone lines and then e-mail and mobile allowed us to connect globally. Yet, even with all these advances in technology, communication was limited in scope: one person connecting with one other and sometimes for the most powerful, numerous others. (read more…)