“I know the people on the phone can’t see this, but …”

By the third time our meeting facilitator offered the same apology, I began to suspect we were doing something stupid, or at least ineffective. But most likely stupid.

I’d been through this before, of course, on both ends of a telecom. We all have. Dialing in remotely to a meeting where wall charts and whiteboards are used but not broadcast can be an exquisitely frustrating experience. The people in the main room can see what’s going on. They can post sticky notes on the wall and move them around. But the remote “participants” — and I use that word loosely — can only listen and imagine. Except for when the audio is bad or the speaker turns away from the microphone, in which case they can do less than that.

There are plenty of tools and technologies designed to improve interactions among geographically dispersed teams, and some of them are quite good. (read more…)

This post is sponsored by PayPal.

Bank loans and venture capital continue to be popular funding sources, but they do not work for every entrepreneur. Some startups are turning to crowdfunding as an alternative to traditional loans and a means to get their businesses off the ground.

But simply creating a cool new product or service is not enough to attract contributors through online crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter. A successful crowdfunding campaign requires extensive, thoughtful planning and focused marketing to attract and engage supporters, combined with hours of intense, hands-on work.

Just ask Helmut Wyzisk III and Jeff Becker, co-founders of Earhoox, which sells soft, silicone attachments that hold earbuds firmly in place. The company started in 2012 and raised almost $10,000 in a month-long Indiegogo campaign.

“Looking at the landscape of crowdfunding now, and knowing what we now know, I think we could do 10 or 20 or 30 times what we did in that crowdfunding campaign,” Wyzisk said. (read more…)

When leaders blow up, lose their tempers or let their emotions get the better of them, they can quickly develop a reputation as volatile, moody, defensive or having a lack of leadership presence.

Unfortunately, all it takes is one public outburst. When coaching leaders who have received negative 360-degree feedback about composure, I’ll ask them when the last time they lost their cool was. In most cases, it’s on a rare occasion, maybe months ago. However, people remember, and it becomes a tough reputation to overcome.

Maintaining your composure can be hard! Emotions serve us well, especially in dangerous situations. Chemicals are triggered that enable us to run away from or fight an angry bear. Which serves us fine if we are in the woods confronted by an angry bear. Not so good when confronted by an angry co-worker in a meeting.

So what can you do to overcome the urge to throttle your co-worker that says something that sets you off? (read more…)

The Young Entrepreneur Council is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Read previous SmartBlogs posts by YEC.

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Q. What is your favorite tool, question or review style to determine overall employee happiness and engagement at work?

yec_Joshua Dorkin1. Taking regular walks with staff

One of the easiest ways to get a pulse on your team is to talk to them one-on-one. I like to take time at regular intervals to go on a walk with my team members to see how things are going for them and to find out if there are any issues we can work on. Employee happiness is essential for a successful business, and regular conversations like these help you to nip any potential issues in the bud. (read more…)

This post is sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Dr. Michael R. Dicks is the Director of Veterinary Economics at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and has, for the last three decades, advised groups around the world from the USDA to foreign governments on food and farm policy. Dr. Dicks sat down with us to discuss how the economics of the veterinary industry are changing and what the future holds.

Question: How is the employment market for veterinarians changing and what focus specialties will experience the most change in terms of growth and salary in the next ten years?

Answer: The market for veterinarians contains a number of separate markets: companion animal, mixed animal, food animal and equine, educational employers, state and federal government, non-profits, industry and others. Each of these is changing differently. However, as population and the human-animal bond grow and various factors increase the risk of disease, the need for veterinarians likely will outpace the supply. (read more…)