Paper is a favorite medium among artists because it’s one of the easiest materials to work with. Even non-creative folk can manipulate it to produce modest art, such as paper planes, boats, origami pieces, and paper-mache models. Folding, cutting, and styling paper in a certain way may seem like simple actions, but they could result
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A sustainable future: How Innovation and collaboration are driving the future of commerce
As momentum builds toward a global collaboration o...
Why This Entrepreneur Sold His Evacuation Software Company Two Years After Founding It
Zonehaven, which makes evacuation software for wildfire-affected regions, sold for $24 million earlier this year.
Social Media for Nonprofits: Empowering Younger Generations to Take Action
Today's youth is craving to be at the forefront of successful movements, tearing down and rebuilding structures and enacting positive change around the world. Increasingly, nonprofits are leveraging this desire and turning to younger generations to drive change and become the future leaders of the world. Their main catalyst of change? Social media.This is the driving notion at Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), a young, vibrant, and growing organization that is pushing for bolder actions to make universal access to modern and clean energy happen by 2030. They believe that the younger generations are the driving forces of the current climate action movements; they ask the most challenging questions, are open-minded, and use their own network to reach new audiences of leaders and supporters. Through their platforms, SEforALL truly hopes to channel the right mindset and influence the future leaders of the world.In this interview, you'll hear directly from Meriam Otarra, Communications Specialist at SEforALL, and you'll learn:Why it's important for nonprofit organizations to appeal to younger audiences nowadaysHow to connect on a deeper level with younger audiences through reader-friendly, modern, dynamic contentThe marketing tactics that work best to reach younger audiences Tips on building awareness and community around important causes via social mediaThis post is part of the #BufferBrandSpotlight, a Buffer Social Media series that shines a spotlight on the people that are helping build remarkable brands through social media, community building, content creation, and brand storytelling.This series was born on Instagram stories, which means you can watch the original interview in our Highlights found on our @buffer Instagram profile.There are so many great nonprofits working hard to make the world a better place. We want to help a tiny bit when it comes to their social media marketing efforts. We offer a 50% discount to all registered nonprofit organizations. Here's how you can apply for the discount!Tell us more about you! What's Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) all about and what's your role there?Hi my name is Meriam Otarra and I’m a Visual & Digital Communications Specialist for international organizations. I currently lead the creative communications and social media for Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL). SEforALL is a young, vibrant, and growing organization that works with the United Nations, international organizations, governments and the private sector to ensure we achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) — access to modern, clean, reliable, and sustainable energy for all — by 2030. We’re soon celebrating a decade of SDG7 progress since SEforALL was initiated by former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon. Since then, there has been an increasing demand for SEforALL platforms and products, and that’s why as part of the communications team, I make sure that these digital products are:Reader-friendly, modern, dynamic;Reaching the right audiences!Meriam Otarra, Communications Specialist at Sustainable Energy for AllTell us about the “This is Cool” campaign! What has made this campaign so successful?From where I’m from, which is the Philippines, a day never passes by without hearing someone say, “It’s hot.” (Either that, or “Oh my god, it has been raining non-stop for 7 days!”) And without urgent actions to the climate crisis, the rural and urban poor in developing countries in Africa and Asia are getting more and more at risk of the consequences of heat, because they can’t access or afford whatever cooling technologies are available out there.SEforALL started the #ThisisCool campaign last year after releasing one of the household reports called Chilling Prospects, which tracks the global development of delivering universal sustainable cooling. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the current cooling situation (last year it was found that around *1.02 BILLION* people are at high-risk due to lack of access to cooling!), its challenges, and what can be done across the world to make sustainable cooling for all a reality.As part of the campaign, we created a microsite with Greenhouse PR, with different cooling case studies—from cool rooftops to farming innovations—and provided a nicely illustrated toolkit that can be used by anyone and everyone to start the conversation on sustainable cooling. Check it out at thisiscool.seforall.org!People living in public housing rely on their governments to reimagine housing with affordable, safe & #sustainable cooling systems ❄️🌱An eco-town in Singapore🇸🇬 combines green design & smart innovative technology to bring #sustainablecooling to 42,000 homes! #ThisIsCool pic.twitter.com/3QwMShHh9l— Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) (@SEforALLorg) April 6, 2021 A 1.5°C 'warmer world' could see +350M people exposed to potentially deadly heat🌡️ by 2050. #Sustainablecooling is essential not just for public safety, but also for health💊 & food security🥬How hot does it get in your city & what #ThisIsCool solutions have you seen so far? pic.twitter.com/mmmtK3Lmgx— Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) (@SEforALLorg) July 28, 2020 Why do you believe it’s important for nonprofit organizations to appeal to younger audiences nowadays?We’ve said it before at SEforALL (and we’re definitely not the first ones to say it!), but youth are the driving forces of the current climate action. They aren’t afraid to speak out and demand better policies or a better response to the pandemic that’s affecting us, youth, both short- and long-term. As social media managers, sincere engagement is what we ultimately aspire to build, and at least for what I can say as the frontline of SEforALL social media, youth are the ones who ask questions, are open-minded, share ideas, and use their own network to help SEforALL reach other audiences who may have otherwise not heard about SEforALL before. Through our platforms, we can only hope to channel the right mindset and influence the future leaders of the world.As social media managers, sincere engagement is what we ultimately aspire to build, and at least for what I can say as the frontline of SEforALL social media, youth are the ones who ask questions, are open-minded, share ideas, and use their own network to help SEforALL reach other audiences who may have otherwise not heard about SEforALL before.As a nonprofit international organization, how do you connect on a deeper level with younger audiences?We’re not scared to dive into conversations with youth. That’s why we created the SEforALL Youth Summit last February, organized by the SEforALL youth representatives ourselves, to show that youth voices are needed to be heard and that SEforALL is here to listen. The outcomes of that Summit are also going to feed into the high-level meetings on energy happening this September.What marketing tactics have you found work the best to reach younger audiences?We found showing data and infographics that hit closer to home for younger people have had better engagement and reactions than most other content. Two good examples that we’ve pushed out during the Summit were (1) showing data through an infographic on the amount of energy the whole country of Senegal uses versus the amount of energy Californians use playing video games; and (2) no energy access, no internet.Alarming #energy fact of the day: The ENTIRE country of Senegal uses less electricity than Californians use playing video games🎮We need to #EndEnergyPoverty to provide opportunities for better jobs, health, education & women’s empowerment⚡ Visit https://t.co/tuq91c10Wv #SDG7 pic.twitter.com/bVCfQ3XV4E— Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) (@SEforALLorg) January 25, 2021 We found showing data and infographics that hit closer to home for younger people have had better engagement and reactions than most other content. For our #ThisisCool campaign, we also reached out to youth influencers in the climate action sphere in Africa and Asia by commenting on their posts related to passive cooling (see example below). And only when they follow us back do we actually send them a personalized message on Twitter telling them about our campaign and ask them for their emails so we can send the toolkit directly to them. It’s important for us to know that they believe in our message as we do with them before we bombard them in their inbox. With the support from Greenhouse PR, we selected them not just based on their following count, but also the quality of content that they put out.Hi👋🏾 My name is Elizabeth! I'm a Kenyan🇰🇪 #climate activist, founder of @GGI_Kenya and an advocate for green spaces🌱Join me today for #EarthDay2021 as I tell you why planting trees🌳 is a sustainable, #passivecooling solution that will help us #RestoreOurEarth 🌍#ThisisCool pic.twitter.com/z3Qk10A6Tk— Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) (@SEforALLorg) April 22, 2021 As far as advocacy goes, our Twitter and LinkedIn profiles have had the most impact on SEforALL projects. Twitter is fast-paced and straight to the point and easy to connect with our audiences in the international organization sector. As we (and our partners) always have events, knowledge products to release, it’s usually the first platform we utilize for any campaign. And while LinkedIn is quite the contrary, we’ve used our LinkedIn to establish thought leadership in the energy access scene, as well as show value and appreciation to our staff. It’s also quite surprising but a lot of our youth audiences are mostly on LinkedIn.We’ve used our LinkedIn to establish thought leadership in the energy access scene, as well as show value and appreciation to our staff. It’s also quite surprising but a lot of our youth audiences are mostly on LinkedIn.Two words—timely and timeless. At SEforALL, we don’t want to be just quick, we also want our content to be relevant yesterday, today, tomorrow. It helps to create content that puts the cause into proper context, one that is straight forward, relatable, short. At SEforALL, we don’t want to be just quick, we also want our content to be relevant yesterday, today, tomorrow.We recently did a 2-minute explainer on why we need universal energy access or Sustainable Development Goal 7. It was also created to reach out to those who are not yet familiar with the Sustainable Development Goals in general. We talked about current events, why energy is needed for cold chains for vaccine deployment, why children need energy to access online education, etc. Art and copy have to go hand in hand. At SEforALL, I’m lucky to work with multimedia wordsmiths that make my work easier.WATCH⚡ In 2 minutes, we explain why universal #EnergyAccess is crucial to achieve the 16 other @UN #GlobalGoals 🌐🎯#SDG7 #MondayMotivation pic.twitter.com/JiQ6lYsO0H— Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) (@SEforALLorg) April 12, 2021 What actions can businesses and individuals take today to make sustainable cooling a reality?When we think about cooling, the first thing that comes to mind is air conditioning. But cooling for all depends on many different solutions and with the climate, economic, health crises that we are facing, we need to make sure we prioritize efficient and affordable solutions that (1) won’t spike energy demand, and (2) don’t have negative environmental impacts.Business, corporations, individuals—all stakeholders—can think about cooling solutions in four ways:Passive cooling solutions: no-energy solutions like trees that provide shade or natural ventilation in buildingsPolicy solutions: governments prioritizing passive cooling in building codes or cities ensuring enough green space to keep the city coolFinancial solutions: making energy-efficient refrigerators and air conditioners easier to purchase by the mass publicService solutions: training people and companies how to be more sustainable and how to create sustainable productsTo find out where we are in delivering sustainable cooling for all and what the newest cooling innovations are out there, we’re having a virtual event on the release of our 2021 Chilling Prospects report this May 5!We hope this interview with Meriam helps you get started with or double down on your social media efforts. You can follow Sustainable Energy for All on Instagram here and on Twitter here!As part of #EarthDay2021, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at how @SEforALLorg leverages social media to empower younger generations to take action and build awareness around their mission. 🌎 🌱 Learn more: https://t.co/8KzNged0WM pic.twitter.com/sV9UdzqoFF— Buffer (@buffer) April 22, 2021
5 Ways to Help Your Business Recover from Pandemic Losses
So many small business owners have worked day and night to reimagine their business during the Covid-19 pandemic. They've gone to great lengths and expense to keep their businesses afloat and struggled to keep their doors open and their employees and customers safe, all while navigating personal and professional challenges. I'm more inspired than ever by their resilience and tenacity.This past year, I've talked with hundreds of small business owners, each facing challenges as a result of the pandemic. In Reno, Nevada, Playful Potter owner Jen Archery had to close her Ceramic Art Studio, so she created a website overnight and shipped ceramic kits to customers so they could entertain kids and have a creative outlet to make it through quarantine.Business owners like Jen saw their brick-and-mortar revenue evaporate when the pandemic began-- and without completely changing their business model they didn't know how they would survive. On the other hand, bike shop owners and landscapers needed a better way to keep pace with a rush of new business from people who wanted to get outside or make home improvements now that they were spending more time at home.As the business leader of Intuit QuickBooks, I see how our small business customers are faring. We used our data to create a new report that provides one of the most complete estimates available of the pandemic's impact on small business revenue. The "Small Business Recovery Report" concludes that U.S. small businesses are on the road to recovery from the financial losses experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic, yet challenges remain.The report conclusively shows that government, tech and banking partners must all continue to support small business owners on their collective journey back to stability and success. For government agencies, it means expanding access to COVID-19 relief funds, guaranteeing government funding for the smallest businesses, and building resiliency with new government programs that help small businesses to go digital. For tech and banks, this means working harder than ever to enable faster payments and access to cash and prioritizing lending to main street small businesses.And for small businesses, this means keeping your core business data up to date. It's always tempting to push off the bookkeeping and compliance, especially for businesses with few employees. But in order to make the best decisions, small business owners must have a source of truth about where their business stands.From the report, here's what the numbers tell us: Covid's impact on small business revenue was most severe in April 2020 when it dropped by 22 percent nationwide-- equivalent to $4.6 billion during that month alone. By March 2021, many small businesses had rebounded. Even some of the hardest hit were back to their pre-pandemic revenues. While some of these businesses still have deficits to make up, nationally our data shows that 61 percent of industries saw annual revenues increase during the pandemic.Small businesses providing essential services such as agriculture, energy and waste management were the most resilient, with many finishing the year with annual revenue growth. Housing booms and low mortgage rates in many parts of the country contributed to significant growth for real estate businesses such as mortgage bankers, which had a 30 percent increase in annual revenue compared to before the pandemic.A surge in home improvement projects increased annual revenues for nurseries by $75,000 per business and $94,000 each for hardware stores. Motorcycle dealers' annual revenue grew by $55,000 per business while RV dealers were up $109,000 per business.Of course, not every small business was able to reopen and recover. Covid cost the worst-hit small businesses more than $250,000 each in annual revenue. Businesses that normally provided us with an escape from the routine were hit hardest, especially independent movie theaters and bowling alleys, which lost $144,000 and $251,000 per business, respectively. Service-based industries like these will not be able to regain the revenue lost this past year, making it more difficult for these businesses to recover quickly.With that in mind, here's what you can do to help your business recover:Invest in a financial systemThe Covid-19 pandemic redefined small business success in ways that will reverberate for years to come. On the fly, small businesses figured out how to keep serving their customers by pivoting to online and mobile sales. Now small business owners need to keep up with all these new data streams, so it doesn't grind their business to a halt.In a recent survey, current small business owners told us the first thing new businesses should get help with is setting up financial systems correctly. Expense tracking, inventory and invoices were the top three financial processes small business owners wish they invested in sooner.Plan aheadPlanning ahead is also important. More than 1 in 10 prospective business owners do not intend to write a business plan, yet 69 percent of people who own a small business say that's a mistake. Whether you're just starting out or an established business, it's never too late to write a business plan or to stop running your business via a spreadsheet and find a more comprehensive solution.Understand your cash flow Understanding your business's cash flow is a critical part of small business survival. When times are tight, money and cash flow become a worry you can't shake-- left unchecked, it can spiral out of control. To stabilize your cash flow, look for financial solutions that give you a faster way to get paid, an easier way to pay your bills, a simple way to access new sources of capital and the most complete way to see and control your cash flow into the future. And we've just seen a dramatic example of why it's so important to keep cash reserves, no matter what. The traditional advice of having 3-6 months of cash reserves seems like a relic from another time. Set a stretch goal of saving enough cash to sustain core operations for one year, and build it into your business plan.Let your voice be heardIf you own or work for a business with 10 or fewer employees, it's important that you make sure your government representatives understand your particular needs. Representatives knowledgeable about the state of small business in their district can have an impact on expanding access to Covid-19 relief funds by setting money aside explicitly for businesses with 10 or fewer employees and make it easier for the nation's smallest businesses, and those with limited access to banking services, to benefit from government lending programs.Acknowledge loss and lessonsIt's important for small business owners and their employees to take some time to process everything that's happened in this past year. Think back on the past year-- what did and didn't work during this stressful time. It's a time to figure out what you can do better next time, and develop risk mitigation strategies for the future. 45 percent of small businesses surveyed applied for a government-backed relief program this year, and 61 percent were successful in obtaining funds.If unexpected circumstances cause you to need emergency assistance, are your financials in order so you can quickly apply for relief? It's also a good time to ensure that you aren't overly dependent on one source of revenue. Diversify where you can, and embrace technology to find new ways to reach customers.Despite the challenges of operating without a playbook in this strange new normal, we must forward. Many small businesses are figuring out how to thrive, even when it's hard enough just to survive-- and you can too.The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
Blog Post: Leading through crisis: Avoiding top team burnout
The last nine months have been tough on everyone, with our experiences of the pandemic and lockdowns being highly personal. Those on the frontline, whether in healthcare or other essential roles, have been putting themselves at risk, day in, day out, to keep the rest of us going. For those working from home, the winter months ahead have the potentially to be particularly gruelling. Many remain on furlough – or have lost their jobs entirely. And for business and HR leaders, the overwhelming feeling is one of intense, draining fatigue. We are all worn out. The CIPD’s recent report, written with Professor Veronica Hope Hailey, emeritus professor at the University of Bath, tells the story of responsible business and trustworthy leadership through the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, through the eyes of 60 C-suite leaders, including HRDs. To celebrate its release, we held an event with Professor Hope Hailey and CIPD CEO Peter Cheese, to discuss the report and its findings with almost 80 HR leaders. Facilitating this discussion, what struck me was a clear sense that the hard work – even the worst – is yet to come. Responding to coronavirus and the first nationwide lockdown was anything but easy, but leaders and organisations were carried on a wave of adrenaline, good will and community spirit. Organisations were able to digitise rapidly. Agility moved from buzzword to reality, because we had no choice. But as one HRD interviewee reflected in the report: “There’s only so long you can ride on goodwill. It will be a big challenge to give staff some work–life balance back.” Finding that balance will be equally important for leaders themselves. As Professor Hope Hailey said at the event: “I’m really quite concerned with how tired people are… Going into a recession with a top team that is burned out is not a good place to be. People should be able to say they are tired and take time off without judgement.” She advocated exploring the possibility of ‘respite breaks’ for leaders and elevating high potential talent to share new ideas and bring much-needed innovation. It can be tempting as a leader to feel you have to be always ‘on’, always available in case something else ‘unprecedented’ happens (and looking back, it seemed that was happening every few hours between March and June). But it is clear now that we are in this situation for the long haul, and leaders need to be able to strike a balance between being accessible and looking after themselves. This is perhaps especially true for HR leaders, who need to ‘put your own oxygen mask on first’. You cannot support others if you are not supporting yourself, and in the months ahead we will need to be stepping up even more to support an exhausted and fractured workforce. Our own personal resilience and wellbeing will be vital. One HR director at the event shared that she is on “a personal mission to slow down”. She reflected that she had never been as available as she was right now, in front of a screen rather than on a plane or train. She had realised: “The faster I work, the faster everyone else works around me.” Leaders have to role model that it is acceptable, even preferable, to slow down, to not be constantly available, to create boundaries. Otherwise, how will any of us get through another year of working in this way? HR leaders also need to try and create space for more strategic long-term thinking. The HR role has been dragged towards the operational during this crisis, sorting out issues like making the workplace COVID-secure (as several HRDs have said to me, they never expected to be having so many conversations about toilets). But being bogged down in the tactical detail can mean losing the capacity to think bigger. Our organisations and people need leaders to be thinking long-term, rather than making knee-jerk, potentially damaging, decisions. We have an opportunity to use this reset to think differently, to get creative. Professor Hope Hailey urged HR leaders not to “lose the moment” and not to lose hope. While the next few months are set to be even more challenging with painful cuts, we need to hold onto the more compassionate and humane leadership style that has emerged in many quarters. “We’ve shown we can change, so let’s keep some of that momentum while still making tough decisions,” she said. It won’t be easy, but HR has proved itself so far through this pandemic. In the words of Peter Cheese: “This is a human crisis, which put people front and centre of the business agenda. HR has been central to how organisations have had to adapt. We should be proud of what we’ve done.” The next few months will not be easy, but if leaders in the profession can hold onto what has been achieved so far and focus on their own wellbeing, they will be better placed to give others the support they so sorely need. Katie Jacobs is senior stakeholder lead at the CIPD Thank you for your comments. There may be a short delay in this going live on the blog page as we moderate the comments added to our blogs.
United’s CEO Sent an Email at 3:30 in the Morning. It’s a Lesson in Emotional Intelligence
I woke up this morning to an interesting email from United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby. It announced a pretty drastic change for United airlines: "We're making a big change ... for the better," writes Kirby. "To support you during your U.S. travels, we've decided to get rid of change fees for good." More specifically, Kirby says United customers can say goodbye to change fees on most Economy (and all premium) tickets when traveling within the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. (United has extended change fee waivers to international destinations and for Basic Economy tickets at least until the end of the year.) Additionally, Kirby says that beginning in January, "United will be the only U.S. airline to let customers in all classes of service fly same-day standby for free." A pretty big change? Yeah. And it seems United couldn't wait to get the announcement out there: The timestamp on the email I received was 3:36 am eastern time. A close analysis of this email and its context teaches a subtle yet powerful lesson in emotional intelligence, the ability to make emotions work for you, instead of against you. It also reveals something more: a change in thinking that could cause a ripple effect throughout the entire airline industry. A drastic change in direction It's no secret that airlines have been taking a major beating throughout the coronavirus pandemic. This is part of what makes United's policy change so huge. Kirby explains in a video that accompanied the email: "You may remember that as we emerged from previous tough times, we made difficult decisions to survive financially, but sometimes at the expense of customer service, either by adding new fees or cutting the things that make the experience of flying better, simply because they were too expensive. "United Airlines won't be following that same playbook as we come out of this crisis. Instead, we're taking a completely different approach, and looking at ways to serve you better instead of defaulting to cuts." With this statement, Kirby admits his company became guilty of the cardinal sin of good business: no longer striving to please the customer. Of course, United wasn't alone. At times, it seemed that competitors Delta and American Airlines were in a competition to see who could come up with the most ways to nickel and dime customers through additional charges. What makes all of this worse is that while some of these charges came out of the airlines trying to survive "tough times," they remained as the airlines began making huge profits. They were happy to line their pockets as customers grew more and more discontent with the service provided. But Kirby, who only took over as United's CEO a few months ago, claims that the company is ready to take a different, customer service-first approach. "When we hear from customers about where we can improve, getting rid of this fee is often the top request," says Kirby. The new CEO also says the company is "doubling down on an improved customer experience," and that United customers should "stay tuned for some exciting new announcements in the weeks to come." Would it have been better for United to make these changes before its back was up against the wall? Sure. But if this can inspire legacy airlines to now compete to please customers, instead of cut them short, it'll be a welcome change nonetheless. What's emotional intelligence got to do with it? So, where does emotional intelligence come into play? First, it helps to know a little about United's new CEO. A seasoned airline veteran, Kirby's held top positions at US Airways and American Airlines before becoming president at United back in 2016. In that time, though, Kirby was known for his ability to make the cold, calculating business decisions that save companies, rather than the warm, fuzzy ones that help build the brand. My Inc. colleague Bill Murphy Jr. described him as having "a reputation for being blunt-spoken and numbers-oriented," and for making policy decisions that were less than well-received by employees. But here's the thing about emotional intelligence: Like what we think of as "traditional" intelligence, it looks different from person to person. And one major facet of what we loosely refer to as "EQ" is the ability to recognize when we're wrong and make changes. Additionally, it's often in times of tragedy or major upheaval that we have the opportunity--and motivation--to make those changes. Perhaps traditionally, Kirby has been more focused on cutting costs than pleasing the customer. But by going on record to make these changes so early in his tenure as CEO is a good sign. And it's not the first time we've seen this from Kirby. After announcing a controversial employee rewards program a couple of years ago, Kirby received major pushback from his people. Did he push forward anyway, confident that those employees would adapt? Instead, Kirby admitted to being wrong, saying he and his team "misjudged how these changes would be received." Kirby then placed the program on pause so he could review employee feedback and figure out the right way to move ahead. That's emotional intelligence in action. Will Kirby continue to focus on making improvements to both the employee and customer experience? Time will tell. But if he does, he just may give United the fighting chance it needs to survive. The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.