Cool Leaders

Entrepreneur of 2012: Limor Fried

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Limor Fried notes that once upon a time, it might have seemed strange for a person to spend an afternoon building something like the MintyBoost, a portable USB mobile-device charger assembled from an Altoids tin and bits of electronic hardware. But if the 50,000 MintyBoost kits sold so far by Fried’s company, Adafruit Industries, are any indication, the world is now a different sort of place.

Read the full article here.

Cool Leaders

Don’t build a fast company. Build a slow one.

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Jason Fried is a founder and CEO of 37signals, a software company based in Chicago. Fried also treats 37signals as something of a laboratory for innovative workplace practices–such as a recent experiment in shortening the summer workweek to just four days. We caught up with Fried to learn how employees are like fossil fuels, how a business can be like a cancer, and how one of the entrepreneurs he admires most is his cleaning lady.

FAST COMPANY: You have your employees only work four-day weeks in the summer.

JASON FRIED: Sometimes people are not really used to working just four days and actually want to stay to get more work done.

You’re saying you have people who actually want to stay the fifth day?

When we first started this a few years ago, there was a small sense of guilt in a few corners. People were like, “I have stuff to get done, it’s Thursday, so I’m gonna work Friday and just get it done. But we actually preferred that they didn’t. There are very few things that can’t wait till Monday.

How many employees would stay to work Fridays?

I don’t know.

Read the full interview in Fast Company here.

Interviews

Martin Varsavsky meets Carlos Moncayo

Argentine-Spanish entrepreneur Martin Varsavsky has founded seven companies over the past 20 years. These include telecoms provider Viatel and, more recently, fon.com, which aims to create a global community of wifi users.

Ecuadorian Carlos Moncayo and his two brothers founded Asiam, a Shanghai-based offshore manufacturing management company that specialises in clothing, in 2003.

The company now ships more than $34m worth of clothing per year. Mr Moncayo was voted Asia’s Best Young Entrepreneur by Businessweek magazine in 2009.




Curated Content

Lenovo CEO rewards employees out of his own pocket

“At the end of last month, I was informed by an email that I got a ‘Yuanqing special reward’ of nearly 2,000 yuan (US$317),” Zhang Jing, an operator of Lenovo’s calling center, recalled and told journalist that she felt both surprised and happy when reading the email. Almost 800 colleagues in the calling center have received this special reward out of surprise.

Given Lenovo made record profits last year, Yang Yuanqing received an annual bonus of 3 million US dollars more than the previous year following Lenovo’s annual board meeting in June.

Yang decided to share his personal bonus with his employees, crediting the strength of the company’s business performance to workers on the production line.

One third of all Lenovo’s employees received this “Yuanqing special reward”, covering almost all of Lenovo’s worldwide markets.

It is the first time that Yang Yuanqing used his own bonus to reward Lenovo’s workers on a large scale. [Source]

UPDATE! Tech Asia just posted this story.

Curated Content

Mr Linux gives a rare interview to the BBC

The success of Linux is in large part due to its open source nature. Why do you think people have been willing to give up so much time without financial reward?

In many ways, I actually think the real idea of open source is for it to allow everybody to be “selfish”, not about trying to get everybody to contribute to some common good.

In other words, I do not see open source as some big goody-goody “let’s all sing kumbaya around the campfire and make the world a better place”. No, open source only really works if everybody is contributing for their own selfish reasons.

Now, those selfish reasons by no means need to be about “financial reward”, though.

Read the full interview here.

Curated Content

The power of asymmetric connections

Is your business working in an asymmetric environment? Here’s a guest blog on why making asymmetric connections can prove invaluable to entrepreneurs…

We’re programmed to like, trust, admire, date and – yes – do business with those like ourselves. A combination of geography, profession-identification, culture and social groups contrive to connect us “symmetrically”. Consciously or unconsciously, we spend most of our personal and professional lives with those who are recognisable and who seem safe – in part because we see ourselves in the other.

The price of this comfortable, symmetrical environment is to miss out on invaluable business opportunities.

The Kenyan automobile entrepreneur who meets the London investor. The American inventor of a revolutionary shoe that raises money for trafficked women who connects with the European MTV executive. Connections between two different worlds, “asymmetric connections”, are the hardest to make. They often feel uncomfortable at first. But they are the most revolutionary and rewarding in business.

Read the full blog posting here.

Curated Content

James Mwangi from Kenya named Entrepreneur of the Year 2012

Dr. James Mwangi, CEO and Managing Director of Kenya’s Equity Bank Limited was tonight named the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 at an awards ceremony held in Monte Carlo’s Salle des Etoiles. James was picked from among the 59 country finalists vying for the title across 51 countries, each of whom had already been named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year in their home country.

Equity Bank is the largest bank by customer base in East and Central Africa and the largest African majority owned company in the region. The bank has more than seven million accounts representing over half of all bank accounts in Kenya. It also has operations in Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Ruben Vardanian, President, Troika Dialog and Chair of the judging panel said, “Not only has James really transformed people’s lives across Africa by offering them access to funding that they have never had before, Equity Bank continues to grow quickly through a strong financial performance.”

“I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of the people and customers of Equity Bank,” said James. “This is a global recognition for Africans who are embracing the power of entrepreneurship to change the economic and social state of Africa.”

Maria Pinelli, Ernst & Young’s Global Vice Chair for Strategic Growth Markets said, “James has been pivotal in the transformation of Equity Bank into one of Africa’s brightest business success stories. His is truly an inspirational story of entrepreneurial spirit with an innovative business model that has the potential to be replicated globally.”

Jim Turley, Global Chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young, said, “Over the past 26 years, entrepreneurs have done more than any other group to stimulate innovation, job creation and prosperity during both periods of growth and in challenging economic conditions. James epitomizes the vision and determination that set entrepreneurs apart and is very worthy of the title Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012.”

Broadcast coverage and an interview with the winner will be available to download for broadcast and online use, at: http://digitalnewsagency.com/stories/6683-ernst-young-world-entrepreneur-of-the-year-2012-announced-in-monte-carlo

Video

Interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook about ‘Made in the USA’

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaking at the D10 Conference, touching upon the subject of Apple’s manufacturing in China. Of course Apple has been widely criticized for worker conditions at its supplier factories. He also addresses the question of whether an Apple product will ever be labeled ‘Made in the USA’ again, rather than having most processes handled in China.