How you end your work week: Friday afternoon.

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How you end your work week will not only have a huge impact on how productive you are the following week, but also may determine how relaxed you are over the weekend.

“Successful people tend to adhere to routines in general, so it’s no surprise that the most successful people I know maintain a Friday afternoon routine,” says Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of “You Can’t Be Serious! Putting Humor to Work.”

Here are 10 things successful people typically do on a Friday afternoon:

1. They reflect on their accomplishments from the week.It’s far too easy to wallow over what you didn’t accomplish, Kerr says. “Successful people tend to flip that around and remind themselves of just how much progress they did make, even if it’s only ‘small wins.'” Acknowledging and appreciating your accomplishments not only boosts your happiness levels, but it fuels momentum. “A great ritual for team leaders to create is to turn this into a Friday afternoon team huddle tradition, wherein everyone shares their top three accomplishments for the week,” Kerr suggests.

2. They figure out their priorities for the following week. Successful people take time on Friday afternoon to reflect on their professional and personal lives and determine three to five major priorities they want to accomplish for each, says Laura Vanderkam, author of “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.”

3. They establish a schedule and to-do list for the following week.They don’t just prioritize; they plan, Vanderkam says. “If you assign each priority a deadline, things are likely to get done. You want to hit Monday morning knowing what you need to do, so you’re not wasting that time figuring this out.” Having a plan for Monday also results in a more relaxed weekend, she adds. “Your to-do list won’t be nagging at your brain for two days.”

4. They carve out downtime for the following week. Kerr says driven, successful people can easily fall into the workaholic trap and lose sight of “the long game,” but they always prioritize and plan for downtime. “They think about how they can maintain their work-life balance the following week. They understand that for them to be at their best, to be most productive, and to accomplish everything they need to during the following week, they need to have some free time.”

5. They get organized. “Many successful people I know take 15 to 30 minutes every Friday afternoon to clean out and organize their email files and to clean and organize their office, so that they know they are returning to a fresh, organized start the following week,” Kerr says. “Some find it therapeutic, as it can help clear the psychological clutter as well, and it has become a ritualistic way of capping the end of the week.”

6. They let people know how accessible they’ll be that weekend.Successful people set technology ground rules before leaving, both with themselves and key people around them, Kerr says. They let their staff and coworkers know whether they plan to respond to emails or voice mails over the weekend, and if so, when.

7. They think about their weekend plans. Vanderkam says if you don’t already have weekend plans by Friday afternoon, you should take some time to think about what you’d like to do. Perhaps you’ve been dying to try that new restaurant; you really want to spend time with your kids at the park; or you have errands you’ve been putting off. Take a few minutes, before it’s too late, to make reservations, check the weather, find a babysitter, etc.

“You don’t have to plan every minute, but having a few things you know you’ll enjoy means you’re ready for a weekend of real rejuvenation,” she says.

8. They plan a fun Friday activity. Some successful people have a fun ritual that helps them create a definitive divide between their workweek and weekend. “It may be an afternoon cocktail with a group of friends, an hour of volunteer work, or a regularly scheduled gym workout or game of tennis,” Kerr explains. “What’s key is that it be something they look forward to, so they view it as a reward for reaching the end of the week, and that it’s something that gives them a complete mental shift.”

9. They acknowledge others’ accomplishments and hard work.“One leader I know uses Friday afternoons to either phone or drop by employees’ offices in person to thank them for the work they did during the week,” Kerr says. “She says doing it on Friday afternoon not only helps her employees go home feeling appreciated, happier, and more relaxed, but it also helps her feel better and happier, as well.”

10. They say goodbye to people around the office. A simple, “have a nice weekend” can go a long way. “This is especially important for leaders to do, and especially important on a Friday afternoon to give both yourself and the people you work with a sense of closure to the week and a chance to connect, if even briefly, before everyone departs,” Kerr says.

Secret: To grow big you need to start going small

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We are living through an era of big: Big Data, big vision, The Big Idea, the next “big” thing. Big budgets go to big campaigns. But I want to pause a moment to make the case for “small.” It’s really important for business leaders and marketers today to think about “small” – small campaigns, small tests, and most importantly, small pockets of growth.

Growth can be hard to find but the truth is that for many business, growth is all around you. It’s just a matter of finding it. Consider this: Averages lie. By that I mean that companies need to adapt to dig more deeply into their data to uncover the rich pockets of growth that standard broad calculations often overlook.

My colleagues recently recommended developing “market maps” as a way to systematically identify where the pockets of growth actually are. This is literally about plotting out where all those growth opportunities are (read A game of inches). They cite a wonderful example of a European consumer goods company that analyzed consumer behaviors, which revealed the company had no presence in almost two-thirds of the attainable marketplace. This insight helped the company to adjust its strategy and develop new products to profitably address those gaps, moves that the company projected would grow revenues by 8 to 14 percent over three to five years.

This insight is based on developing a really clear understanding of how customers see the category and tradeoffs they make when making purchase decisions. This is about going deep into discussions with people about how they really make choices – what motivates them, what influences them, what they really care about. Data is helpful, but this level of insight is based on much more intimate and personal levels of interaction.

That more granular approach is evident in how companies think about penetrating into new countries, which is the standard approach. The truth is that companies should be looking at breaking into cities, which have different opportunity profiles from the country at large. When you look at the fashion industry, for example, Shanghai is as large a market as Poland and Portugal. And cities like Tianjin and Chongqing are among the top 20 fastest growing cities for women’s apparel.

This “small” approach even applies to how you connect with customers too. Sometimes it’s the small things you do that matter the most – like when the Soho Grand Hotel offers a guest a pet goldfish.

Yes, you need some big systems to make this work but you really have to think small. Here’s a question every business leader should ask him/herself when embarking on a project: How can I make this smaller?

The Bargain That Is WhatsApp & 4 More Stories You Need To Know Today

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SUCH A DEAL! — There’s been no shortage of opinions on what Facebook paid for WhatsApp, ranging from “I don’t get it” to “You don’t get it.” But the only opinion that matters has now weighed in, and, in his view, WhatsApp was cheap. “I just think that by itself it’s worth more than $19 billion,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg proclaimed Monday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. “The reality is there are very few services that reach a billion people in the world.” The reality is that WhatApp isn’t one of them — it has around 465 million users. But Zuck thinks it can be a billion-member platform, and, again, that’s all that matters.

 

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DIMON IN THE ROUGH — The Financial Times (subscription required) reports that JP Morgan Chase is set to fire “several thousand” more employees, above and beyond a recently announced round of up to 15,000 job cuts. The reason, per the FT: Better tech at branches and plummeting mortgage applications. Official word may come as early as today, when CEO Jamie Dimon speaks at bank’s annual Investor Day, his first address to shareholders since the bank’s record $13 billion settlement with the Feds over allegations of mortgage chicanery. The bank employs more than 250,000 people.

 

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HI, FIVE — The Samsung 5 got a nice enough reception from the tech press, which tossed around words like “refined” and “elegant.” Samsung’s newest flagship smartphone boasts some welcome features, like water resistance, fingerprint sensing, a built-in heart rate monitor, pedometer and fitness tracker. But the low-key kudos award goes to BGR Executive Editor Zach Epstein, who Tweeted: “Galaxy S5 is a nice iteration. Good job focusing on refinement vs feature spam but no BUY ME features.” Let’s hope, for Samsung’s sake, that’s not literally true. The S5 will be available in 150 countries on April 11.

 

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BAD DAY FOR BITCOIN — The virtual currency that’s beginning to attract mainstream attention is facing an “existential crisis” after a leaked document, allegedly from one of the companies which act like banks for the crypto-currency, reveals it was hacked for years. Missing from the Bitcoin exchange in question, Mt. Gox, are a total of 744,408 coins worth some $350 millionBitcoin lost 17% in value in the 24 hours after the revelation, but has since stabilized (to the extent Bitcoin ever does). Mt. Gox was once the biggestBitcoin exchanges and been offline since late Monday. Six other big exchanges — Coinbase, Kraken, Bitstamp, BTC China, Blockchain and Circle — sought to isolate the problem: “This tragic violation of the trust of users of Mt. Gox was the result of one company’s actions and does not reflect the resilience or value of bitcoin and the digital currency industry. As with any new industry, there are certain bad actors that need to be weeded out, and that is what we’re seeing today.”

 

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ELEVATOR PITCH — In what should come as surprise to nobody — seriously, people — the person behind @GSElevator isn’t a Goldman Sachs employee sharing OH 1% disdain for the rest of us. The New York Times‘ Andrew Ross Sorkin blew the lid off this three-year-old prank “after several weeks of reporting,” outing the Tweeter as John Lefevre. The Texas-based bond executive didn’t actually hear anyone at Goldman Sachs (New York/London/Hong Kong, not Texas) say things like: “I never give money to homeless people. I can’t reward failure in good conscience.” He tells Sorkin his parody was aimed broadly at Wall Street, not Goldman Sachs per se. The Wall Street brokerage was circumspect, telling the Times: “We are pleased to report that the official ban on talking in elevators will be lifted effective immediately.” Lefevre’s last Tweet was Feb. 15, leaving his 628,000 followers in the lurch for tone-deaf white shoe firm humor. Worry not! Lefevre has a book deal. Of course.

 

 

Amazon says it can ship items before customers order

 

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Online retail giant Amazon says it knows its customers so well it can start shipping even before orders are placed.

The Seattle-based company, which late last year said it wants to use drones to speed package delivery, gained a patent last month for what it calls “anticipatory shipping,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Amazon, the Journal reported, says it may box and ship products that it expects customers in a specific area will want, based on previous orders and other factors it gleans from its customers’ shopping patterns, even before they place an online order.

Among those other factors: previous orders, product searches, wish lists, shopping cart contents, returns and other online shopping practices.

Amazon has worked to cut delivery times as a way of encouraging more orders and satisfying customers, such as by expanding its warehouse network and making some overnight and even same-day deliveries.

Amazon didn’t estimate how much delivery time it expects to save, or whether it has already put its new system to work, the Journal reported.

“It appears Amazon is taking advantage of their copious data,” Sucharita Mulpuru, a Forrester Research analyst, told the Journal. “Based on all the things they know about their customers they could predict demand based on a variety of factors.”

To minimize the cost of unwanted returns, Amazon said it might consider giving customers discounts or even make the delivered item a gift.

“Delivering the package to the given customer as a promotional gift may be used to build goodwill,” the patent said.

CONVENIENCE IS KING IN TODAY’S RETAIL WORLD

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Consumers lead busy lives and their time is becoming more limited and fragmented every day. So when it comes to shopping, they may not always be 100 percent focused or fully engaged in the task at hand. So in order to keep up with them, retailers are increasingly finding that they need to innovate in ways that make it easier and more convenient for their customers to get what they need and not miss a beat in the process.

Innovation can take many forms. While breakthroughs like cellular networking and seedless watermelons are tangible examples of innovation, there’s no denying the impact that advancements like multi-platform store formats and online shopping have had on the retail landscape. In fact, according ot the Continuous Innovation: The Key To Retail Success report, convenience may just be the most creative and energetic example of retail innovation.

STANDING OUT WITH CHANNEL AND FORMAT

Channel and format are the stand-out examples of innovation in the retail space. U.K.-based Tesco PLC is one major retailer that has adapted its physical store offerings to meet customer demand for convenience. Notably, Tesco operates four different formats to ensure that its customers have quick and easy access to its offerings regardless of whether they live in dense metro areas or the outskirts of town. Even Walmart, whose superstore concept made it the largest retailer in the world, is testing two smaller formats—even though it continues to expand its traditional supermarket format in the U.S.

As a format in-and-of-itself, brick-and-mortar continues to maintain a strong footing with consumers, particularly as retailers diversify their available store configurations for specific customer needs, online is changing how shoppers interact with stores. This in turn has prompted stores to change in response. For example, many companies with notable physical footprints have capitalized on the influence that online retailing offers by touting “click & collect” options, whereby customers shop online and pick up their items at a nearby store. This innovation is quite powerful, as it improves convenience dramatically for shoppers who find it inconvenient to wait at home during broad delivery windows.

European retailers such as Carrefour and Auchan are particularly advanced in the click & collect arena. France-based Auchan, for example, offers a drive-through service with spacious collection points, allowing shoppers to collect pre-ordered baskets without leaving their cars. Visible from the road, the service is ultra-convenient and serves as a powerful advertisement. But these trends aren’t just popping up in Europe. In the U.S., drug retailer Walgreens offers shoppers a variety of in-store and curbside pick-up options.

VIRTUAL SHOPS DELIVER REAL CONVENIENCE

Some innovations forge entirely new roads. The virtual supermarket, designed by Tesco and launched in South Korean subway stations in 2011, is one such example.

For Koreans, shopping is a much-dreaded task, so Tesco decided to offer them the convenience of browsing through displays of the same merchandise offered in its stores. To make purchases, consumers simply scan QR (quick response) codes of the items they wish to purchase and then click the send button on a smartphone app. Tesco then delivers the merchandise to the consumers shortly after they get home. The results speak for themselves: online sales increased by 130 percent and site registrations grew by 76 percent in just a few months.

By taking a dramatically unique step outside the box, Tesco, which later teamed up with Samsung to later open a more robust version of the virtual store concept in Seoul, debuted an experience that has since been mimicked by several other retail companies. Eighteen months later, Peapod (U.S.), Cold-Storage (Singapore), Woolworths (Australia) and Yihoudian (China) had created virtual platforms of their own.

Are there more convenience roads to explore? Of course. Recent offerings essentially make it easier for consumers to purchase and receive. Today’s tools, however, offer companies and brands insight into when consumers will need to replenish. The ability to make these types of predictions will likely put retailers with loyalty data in an advantageous position. Notably, we’ve already seen how Amazon walks people through the process of choosing goods, quantities and a delivery schedule on a “save, set and forget” basis. So brick-and-mortar” players will need to respond to stay competitive.

In today’s digital world, the one thing traditional retailers have that online operators don’t—physical stores—needs to be an asset rather than a liability. And those assets need to include entertaining, exciting, and emotionally engaging experiences.

BACKSEAT DRIVING IS WELCOME ON THE ROAD TO FINANCIAL GOALS

 

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Managing money can be difficult no matter where we live, and in many cases, it feels like we spend our cash before we earn it. In fact, Nielsen reports that globally, we save or invest just 10 percent of our monthly income on average. Is that enough? How prepared are we for an unexpected household emergency, health issue or job loss? What about long-term financial security and saving for our children’s future?

To help understand consumer sentiment around these questions, Nielsen conducted a global study that polled more than 30,000 Internet respondents in 60 countries about current and future financial goals and the strategies we use to prepare for them. The findings revealed that the glass was half full for nearly seven out of 10 global respondents (69%), as they believed they would achieve all of their financial goals for the future. Yet, of those, only 28 percent felt that their current financial planning would get them there. The remaining majority of confident respondents (41%) were less self-assured, conceding that they would need to closely monitor and adjust investments from time to time to best meet their financial expectations. On the other hand, nearly one-third of global respondents (31%) said they have no confidence they will meet their financial goals with either current or modified asset allocations.

Overall, financial confidence was highest in Asia-Pacific, where more than two-thirds (78%) of respondents said their planning was sound and on track for the future (32% were satisfied with their current plan and 46% plan to make adjustments). Financial planning was also in good standing among two-thirds of respondents in Middle East/Africa (67%), North America (66%) and Latin America (62%), as about one-fourth in each region said they are satisfied with their existing strategies.

BRIGHTER DAYS AHEAD FOR INVESTORS

“There’s always tomorrow” captures the attitude of global respondents, who by and large plan to invest to meet financial goals in the future, rather than actively save now. Across 14 saving goals reviewed, respondents’ intentions to save in the future were stronger than active intentions for all but one financial goal—saving for health-related issues, whereby global active savers outnumbered future savers by just 1 percentage point (42% active savers vs. 41% future savers).

Overall, plans to save in the future were strongest among respondents in the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Middle East/Africa regions, especially with respect to intentions to fund their children’s futures, higher education, first- and second-time property purchases, personal luxuries, financial legacy and new businesses.

“The greater number of respondents planning to save in the future versus saving now suggests an opportunity to better educate consumers on saving and investment strategies that will help them meet their financial goals,” said Oliver Rust, senior vice president, Global Financial Services, Nielsen. “It also shines a light on the growing wealth accumulation among consumers in the more developing regions of the world and their aspirations for upward mobility with a more secure financial future.”

Other findings include:

  • Insight into global saving strategies for short-term, long-term and life-event goals.
  • Time table for now vs. later saving intentions.
  • Quick-reference scorecards by saving goals.

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Global Saving/Investing report.

Is Google+ is future? At least Google believe it is !

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It’s common currency in internet punditry circles that Google won the battle to dominate search while Facebook won the battle for social, and that Google+ is just a failed competitor to Facebook. But Google hasn’t given up

It has been clear for a while now that, to make up for the fact that not very many people actively use Google+ as a social network, Google is turning it into a platformon which the rest of Google’s web services are evolving—something that has the effect of making people use Google+ by default. Results from Google+ already clutter search results. YouTube’s commenting system has been replaced by Google+. Chat and Talk, once stand-alone services, were combined into Hangouts and incorporated into Google+.

In a revealing interview with the Indian business newspaper Mint, Steve Grove, a Google+ exec who inks deals with content providers and influential figures, makes it clear that this is just the beginning. Grove tells Mint that “the reason for that is that Google+ is kind of like the next version of Google.”

Why? According to Grove:

There’s a lot of great value here, because Search also shows results from Google+ and this is going to bring more people into Google+; people are going to see that there’s a lot of value in logging into our services, before doing a search.

We’ve written before about how Facebook’s strategy for getting users in emerging markets is to convince people new to the internet that Facebook basically is the internet. Google’s strategy looks a bit like the obverse of this: convince people already on the internet that the internet runs on Google+

But when you look at it longer-term, Google’s strategy is actually very similar to Facebook’s. New internet users, such as the hundreds of millions expected to come online in India in the coming years, will find that being on Google’s social network is increasingly a prerequisite for using Google’s other services. Roping those new users into Google+ from the get-go is the company’s best chance for coming from behind and defeating Facebook’s dominance in social media. And that clearly seems to be Google’s goal, given how much effort it’s pouring into the network.“We focused a lot on Google+ here [in India], and it’s already very active, and people are getting on board on their own,” Grove said.