An AI god? Possible or Not.

An AI god? Possible or Not.

Over the weekend I was reading an article by John Brandon about AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the idea that there is a possibility that a new religion may come from it. I have been following AI developments for some time now and the discussions around this can get pretty heated. This article took it a step further than the boundaries I imagined.

I think AI is still some time away from being as advanced as some predict. The concern I do have is that the possibility is so real that articles like this is popping up on a regular basis.

And what precautionary measures are in place to ensure things do not really get out of hand. This is opinion but one we have to take note of. There are some valid points in this article and can predict some people will bow to a AI god. People have bowed to even more controversial god’s.

Don’t get me wrong. I like tech and the developments made. Innovation is important for us to evolve, but with caution.

Please share your thoughts on this matter.

Link to the article is here.

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Nailing the 1st Interview

Nailing the 1st Interview

By Sam Kapur. Co-Founder of Guyding Principals.
I feel there are a few basic rules to nailing the first interview. From my experience though, after interviewing hundreds of candidates, most people don’t understand the basics.

1. Do your Research

This is the most important and neglected part. You want to know all you can about the
company, the people interviewing you, the hiring manager (because it might not be the
same as the person interviewing you), and the job itself.

I’m going to assume that the majority of people reading this blog know the different ways to research a lot of this stuff online, so I won’t go into that. Once you’ve gained the information, you need to go deeper into your research, I recommend speaking with someone who works at the company, preferably in the same division and if possible in the same role.
This way you’ll get an inside look at what you’ll actually be doing and can even find out from them what the interview process is going to look like.

2. Ask the Right Questions

I know, easier said than done, right? It actually is. The questions you want to ask should all be related to whether the position and company is the right fit for you. Ask about the daily activities, the team makeup, the skills necessary for the job, what the potential for
promotion is. What I would avoid asking is anything regarding compensation. If they bring it up it’s ok to discuss, but I personally would avoid answering by saying, “While compensation is important to me, it’s more important to see if the position is right for me”. We can discuss compensation in the next round if that’s ok with you.

The ultimate question to ask though is this. Right at the beginning of the interview say this, “Before we begin the interview is it ok if I ask a quick question? What was it about me that made you decide to schedule this interview?” This helps get them in a positive mind frame about you and gives you some excellent information to utilize during the interview.

3. Take Notes

Besides for the obvious reason of making sure you remember the information given, it also shows that you care about the interview. Another great reason is as a stall tactic to gather your thoughts before answering a tough question. When the interview starts ask
permission to take notes. Make sure to bring an extra pen, it never looks good when you
have to ask for a pen or paper.

4. Dress Appropriately

I today’s job market it’s not always right to wear a suit for your interview. You need to
figure out the culture of the company and dress accordingly. Err on the side of more formal than casual if you’re not sure. A great way to get this information is to ask someone who’s ever interviewed with the company before.

Don’t forget at any time that you are trying to sell yourself by showing the company your
best you. Stay professional, but not stiff. Answer their questions, but make sure you have
some of your own.

What are some questions you would ask a potential employer?

Networking for the Shy Guy.

Networking for the Shy Guy.

By Donnavan Finlay. Co-Founder of Guyding Principals.

 

I was at a networking event recently and noticed something. I was meeting new people in the community and a young man got my attention. Not for all the right reasons but all the wrong. He looked out-of-place. Completely overwhelmed by the situation. Basically me 15 years ago. He clearly had no idea what he needed to do. I felt sorry for the kid and went over to talk to him where he was standing alone.

 

He told me that he was new to the event and an aspiring entrepreneur. During the conversation I realized that he is determined to be successful but had no idea or guidance to get what he so desires. I then realized that he is most likely not alone. It took me ages to get better at networking when I was younger. As with this kid, I had no one to show me the ropes at the start. People kept on telling me I had to network, but no one told me how it should be done.

 

I introduced him to a couple of my friends for him to feel a bit more at ease. He seemed a bit more confident by the end of the night.

 

The following week I offered to help him with some techniques I had found to work for me. We worked on the techniques and I am glad to say that he made great progress at the next event. He made some fantastic new contacts and people who can help him put his dream of being an entrepreneur in place.

 

Following are some tips on networking for an introvert.

 

  1. Manage your expectations.

 

You need to remember to make realistic expectation. Plan ahead and set a goal of making maybe two or three key connections. Try not to get overwhelmed by the event and focus on your goal. Once you have achieved your goal, you should leave. Avoid over staying your welcome. If you stay too long you can also get tired and it will turn into a bad experience. You will then lack motivation for the next event.

 

  1. Get a list of possible attendants.

 

If possible I would suggest getting a list of the attendants. Reason is that you can then have a look at the people who you would like to meet. This will usually be the people in your field of interest. You can learn some valuable lessons from someone who has experience in that sphere.

If you feel confident you can make that connection before. Maybe send an e-mail to that person and ask if he can spare some time to talk to you about whatever it is you may want to know. Making a connection via e-mail first can break the ice for the conversation to follow.

 

Consider volunteering at networking events. This will put you in touch with some people who have been doing it for a while. Someone there may be able to put you in contact with some serious key players. If a key person has to be driven around, you should volunteer. This will give you some alone time that is priceless.

 

Other charity events are also good for you to volunteer. This will help you be at ease with people around you and help you meet new people. You will be exposed to all types of personalities. Networking is all about meeting new people, and this is great practice.

 

  1. End with a Plan to Action.

 

When you end any important conversation with a person of interest, ask for a follow-up discussion or meeting. If you ask for a follow up meeting you may be lucky and get to meet the person at a less crowded environment. These are the times you will really learn some valuable lessons. An e-mail contact or phone number is also good. Some people might not have time to meet in person or even live in another city.

 

My one mentor used to go for coffee at the same place every workday at the same time. We would meet up some days and spend maybe 15 minutes together. This was perfect for me. Those 15 minutes in the mornings taught me some great lessons.

 

  1. Bring a Wingman.

 

Taking a wingman to a networking event will be great. It will give you at least one contact there and this person can help to keep you focused. The person might also be able to introduce you to his/her contacts. Avoid clinging to that person too much. Once the introductions are made you will have to keep the conversation on your own.

Finding a good wingman should not be overlooked. If I had to choose one tip that helped me the most, it will be this one.

 

As an introvert you will have to get used to meeting new people. Set yourself a target per day on meeting new people. Strike up a conversation at a coffee bar. Meet someone new at work and make some small talk. Keep focused and take note of what works and what does not.

 

Now that you have some tips on improving your skills you should go out and try them. They have worked for me and for the people I have assisted. There is nothing wrong with being a bit shy and you should not let that keep you down. At the end of the day your success is up to you, and only you.

 

 

Do you have any conversation ice breakers that have worked for you in the past? Please list them in comments so our other readers can see them.

 

 

 

Hate Meetings? 6 Tips to Fix That.

Hate Meetings? 6 Tips to Fix That.

By Donnavan Finlay, Co-Founder of Guyding Principals.

  

We have all sat in a meeting and wondered why we are even there and questioned the time we spend in them. We have all thought that we have better things to do than sit there and listen to things that have nothing to do with us. We all agree that they are important, but is there a better way to have them that will be faster (more effective) and not jut a one way conversation? Here is some advise from me I have practiced over some time now to improve meeting overall.

 

  1. Do proper planning.

Plan the meeting in advance. Plan everything that needs to be covered to avoid missing important discussion points. Good planning will also ensure the meeting does not go off course and end up about something completely different that what was the objective for the meeting.

 

  1. Have time limits for talking points.

You need to limit time spent discussing points to ensure the meeting does not take longer than it needs to be. You need to get a resolution, but you don’t need all day to get there. Some points will take longer than others. Effective planning is needed with some practice and experience. Take notes of time spent on talking points in current meeting to get a ball park idea.

 

  1. Get everyone involved.

When you have a meeting on a design project you can get other departments in as well. Get the sales department in as well to give their ideas for what they feel will be best. At the end of the day it is the sales team that will have to sell the product. Putting these teams together will save you time as you will not have to go back and forth to get the final product. You don’t need to mix the teams all the time but when you have deadline this always works from my experience.

 

  1. Limit participants. Only decision makers.

There is no reason to get all the staff in a meeting that does not affect them. General meeting once a set period is good but not all the time. When you have to focus on production you need to have meetings with mostly only the people it affects directly. Decisions are made faster and production can keep going on without missing a beat.

As any leader I suggest you talk to all staff as well and make sure they know they can talk to you as owner or manager without being afraid. To wait for your staff to talk to their supervisor about an issue, then that supervisor talks to his superior. By the time the message gets to you, or you are made aware of a concern it could have been resolved already. Cut the red tape. We live in a fast society and we need to streamline all aspects, including communication.

 

  1. Avoid distractions.

When the meeting starts make sure everyone there is actually there. The less distractions there are the faster the meeting will be. Start off lite but keep the conversation at a good pace. You need to keep the participants attention. Avoid numbers if you can. Few staff actually understand what they mean. Only use information pertinent to the objectives of the meeting. Some people say no phones but that does not need to be the case. Phones for notes and calendar entries should be allowed.

 

  1. Give out meeting agendas a day before.

To ensure all the above is going well, last bit of advise I have is to give out the meeting agenda at least a day before the meeting. This will give all the participants time to go over the talking points and make notes beforehand. It will ensure you have good participation and everyone will have some feedback that will ensure the information you get is accurate. When you have an off the cuff meeting people are usually thinking about all the things they still need to do and you do not get the quality information you need to make the changes that are needed. When a meeting is planned and staff are aware of the agenda they will feel more included and you can rely on getting quality information.

 

During the meeting allow staff to speak and get people involved. By doing this people will feel included and take pride in the decisions made. It will also give you the chance to hear what your staff is thinking and you might just find an individual that holds potential beyond the position the currently hold.

 

What is your worst meeting you have ever had to sit through?

 

 

7 Tips when Starting your own Business.

7 Tips when Starting your own Business.

By Donnavan Finlay, Co-Founder of Guyding Principals.

Starting your own business venture is one of the most rewarding and scariest things you can ever do.  Stepping out from a steady job is daunting and will never be easy. But when done correctly and passionately it can give you unknown freedom and pleasure. Many say they would like to be their own boss one-day but very few have the guts to actually get out and do it.

I have started many ventures on my own. Some that were great successes and some that were not so great. The most important thing is to learn from your mistakes and move on to the next. Remember that it is not a race. Forward is forward.

Since I am in the process of doing it again I thought I can note my experiences as someone may be thinking to venture in the entrepreneur field. I am not talking about a massive company and getting involved with venture capitalists. I am talking about a normal small business. A coffee place or a small grocery store. Places you can start on your own and your own money or limited investment from outside parties.

  • Have an Idea

Without an idea there is no business. Brainstorm and do your research to see if there can be such a business. What are the options? Start your own place, go for a franchise or partner up with an already existent business. You need to look at all the options and get all the information to make, what will be one of the most important choices you will ever make.

It needs to be something you are either good at or very passionate about. Passion is fundamental, as this business will consume most of your time and life. If you are not passionate about the product you will offer you will lose interest and the venture will fail. You will have to separate yourself from your normal life at the start. You will have to choose work over parties. I read an interesting quote a couple of weeks ago.

My friend told me they never see me at the parties. To which I replied “I never see you at the bank”. Not sure who said this but it is relevant in this case.

  • Build the Plan.

Once you have settled on the idea of the product or brand you want to offer you need to look at how to put it in place. You need to look at location and how the final product will be served.  There are actually many more questions but let’s start with the basics.

Key question you need to ask yourself: “what is the purpose of the business”? Once you have an answer for that you are in a good place. From there you can put the smaller details in place.

At the start you will need to ask some tough questions.

  • What obstacles may you encounter?
  • How will you manage the cash flow?
  • How will you ensure sustainability?
  • What are you going to do to grow your customer base?
  • How will you ensure quality control and customer satisfaction?

These are only a couple of questions you will have to ask yourself to build a clear path during the first couple of months. This time period will put all your skills and experience to the test. From experience I always tell people to just calm down and never make rush decisions. Focus on a solution and never let the issue at hand overwhelm you.

  • Look at the Finances.

This is an area that is too wide for just one article to look at for a variety of businesses. The variables are just too many. It is very market dependent and things like location and just size will make a big difference.

There are many options out there. You can go the more traditional route by loaning the money from a bank. There are also other options out there and I strongly advise you to do your research. It is fine to take on investors but make sure you understand how repayments needs to be done and that you are comfortable with ALL the terms. Last thing you want is to fail due to a misunderstanding or over eagerness with a loan or investment.

Also make sure you have enough funding to keep the business afloat for up to 12 months, as that will be your toughest time concerning money. There will be many unplanned events that will cost money. Things you cannot possibly plan for. Equipment issues. Rising supply costs. Employee strikes.

  • Choosing a Partner.

You might be considering taking on a business partner. Nothing wrong with that, as it can spread the workload and the risk. In my current new venture I am alone and there are reasons for that. I have a very clear vision for what I want this product to be. It is something I have done before, successfully so I know what to get done and what to expect. Taking on a partner at this stage will just slow down the process and dilute the vision I have. Maybe I am just stubborn.

I can’t tell you what to look for in a partner but I can tell you what to be wary of. Be careful of friends and family. From personal experience I have been in many awkward situations with family members due to money issues.

Look at a person’s work ethic and overall personality. You need to remember that you will have to deal with some tough situations with your business partner. You need to be sure the person will be able to be a solution to the problem and not make a tough decision even tougher.

  • Building a Team.

Finding the perfect employee and team members is task you cannot make mistakes with. These are the people that will represent your company to your clients. These are the people that will be the face of the brand. You need to know that you can trust them and that they will care for the business as much as you do. They need to be passionate. They also need to be good at what they do. Make sure they have all the training they need before you open for trading.

  • Brand Yourself.

You need to put together a mission statement and have a logo made. You need to stand out from the crowd. You need to be present on social media and be active to inform your current clients and potential clients of all new deals you may offer.

Make sure your staff have the correct uniform at all times and the guest facing area needs to be in immaculate condition at all times.

And branding goes beyond just this. I was walking towards a shop this week and saw some of the staff smoking outside in their uniforms. This is something I hate in my own businesses and I do not tolerate this from any of my own staff. When I walked into the place the one person put out their cigarette and came straight to assist me without washing his hands. This is part of the branding process. This whole experience made me question if I will support this business again. Branding is everything your customers and potential customers can see and experience.

  • Open the Doors.

Congratulations on starting your own business. Now the real work starts. In the beginning months you need to be very active in the business to ensure the business is growing towards what you envisioned right at the start. You need to ensure quality is consistent and that you deliver exceptional service. This is key to your success.  Delivering a quality product and great customer service will ensure you are separated from the competition. That is the ideal. To be seen as different from the rest.

There are a number of other areas you need to cover and they are as listed below.

  • Make sure you have correct insurance.
  • If the place is going to sell any food you will have to be cleared by a health inspector. This will be dependent to state or country.
  • The company needs to be registered with the IRS. Go see an expert for this matter.
  • The building will have to be inspected and approved by a safety inspector. This will be dependent to state or country. There will have to be fire extinguishers and correct safety signage. Staff will also have to be trained for emergency situations.
  • Your staff needs to be interviewed and make sure you check with the previous employers. I have never seen a bad resume in my life.
  • You will have to look at areas to promote the business. Will the local paper suffice or will you have to do more work online.
  • You will have to make contact with all the possible suppliers. Choose the suppliers that can best keep consistent flow of merchandise. No point in getting the best price but they are always out of stock.

If you have ever started your own business, what is the one thing you wish someone had told you before you started?