Category Archives: Uncategorized

Opposite of Conventional Wisdom: Startups Shouldn’t Offer Benefits?

Early-stage startups should think twice before offering benefits, that’s the counter-to-popular-wisdom advice from researchers who tracked about 5,000 companies for seven years.

Inc’s Kris Frieswick reports:

Turns out that timing really is everything, especially when it comes to some common employee benefit programs. Researchers led by David S. DeGeest of the University of Groningen recently parsed data from the Kauffman Firm Survey, which for seven years tracked about 5,000 companies launched in 2004, and discovered that benefits can either dramatically increase your startup’s chances of survival or sharply reduce them, depending on when they are provided in your business’s growth cycle. For viability-stage companies, which the new study defined as less than three years old, even a single benefit can decrease the likelihood of succeeding.

The benefits they studied were health insurance, bonuses, flextime, and stock options.

That may well be the research, but good luck finding top talent willing to work for low pay and long hours, without benefits or (more importantly) the real upside that startups offer in stock options?


‘Delegation without follow up is abdication ‘ Advice from Andy Grove, RIP

Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel, died last week. His book “High Output Management” is one of my favorites – and I was only introduced to it in 2014 (when I reviewed Ben Horowitz’s book for the WSJ – see here – and here for an introduction to the book by Ben.

Grove’s book is full of wisdom, some of my favorite pieces of advice are:

– It’s very important to send out a recap after a meeting afterwards on what needs to be done. If it’s important enough to hold the meeting, it’s important enough to write notes.

– By saying yes to something you are implicitly saying no to something else.

– Plan in the way a fire department does. You can’t anticipate when the next fire will be, so have a team capable of responding to an unanticipated event as well as an ordinary one.

– Delegation is key to management. But delegation without follow up is abdication.

– Before including people in meetings, ask are they necessary – otherwise you’re wasting the company’s money. (People are worth a certain amount per hour to a company. And just like any purchase, say above $1,000 needs to be justified, shouldn’t the use of someone’s time be treated the same?)


Ladies Beware: The Bigger the Ring, the Shorter the Marriage?

At least according to an academic paper (full paper here), abstract here:

In this study, we evaluate the association between wedding spending and marriage duration using data from a survey of more than 3,000 ever-married persons in the United States. Controlling for a number of demographic and relationship characteristics, we find evidence that marriage duration is inversely associated with spending on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony.

So not only doesn’t money guarantee happiness, with marriage bliss it’s the opposite?




Nancy Reagan Islam

My latest piece for the Daily Beast (full article here):

The timing of the death of Nancy Reagan just as Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the Republican nomination seems increasingly unstoppable, is particularly painful for one Muslim lady in Brooklyn, Farhana, and her family.

That is because Farhana is not the name she goes by; she goes by Nancy—a nickname her family gave her in 1990, a year after she was born, and the year her family moved to the U.S. from Bangladesh. It’s customary for Bengalis to give their children more English-sounding nicknames that family and friends will use throughout their lives.

Her name was given in honor of President Ronald Reagan, as his 1986 immigration act enabled Farhana’s family to join their father, who was already living in the U.S. Her uncle named his son, Nancy’s cousin, “Reagan,” for the same reason. And so in 1990 the Muslims “Nancy” and “Reagan” moved to Brooklyn.

Continue reading here.


CyecureBox Launched

Excited to announce that  is officially available for public purchase today.Screenshot 2016-02-09 13.35.22


Take More Vacations To Make More Money?

Americans don’t seem to like vacations, or rather don’t think taking them is a good idea. While they on average earn 21 days of paid time off a year, they on average leave a week on the table. And this number (days left on the table is on the rise).

What’s fascinating – and perhaps counter-intuitive – is that not taking vacations harms career advancement prospects. A 2014 report by “Project Time Off” conducted by Oxford Economics (hat tip latest HBR ) found:

employees who left 11-15 days of PTO unused last year are actually less likely (6.5% less likely) to have received a raise or bonus in the past three years than those who used all of their PTO.

Hawaii anyone?

Polihale Beach via photopin (license)


Federal Reserve To Recruiters: There Are More Jobseekers Out There

The Upshot in Yesterday’s New York Times asks: “Why aren’t wages rising more briskly when unemployment has fallen so much?”

The answer is because:

Wages aren’t rising because the labor market isn’t as tight as we thought; there are more people available to re-enter the work force as more jobs become available, and the unemployment rate can fall more before it becomes truly hard for firms to find workers.

More jobseekers out there is of course great news for companies for multiple reasons; the only question for companies then is how do you reach those so far passive jobseekers?

Because they’re not actively searching they’re not yet on traditional job boards and digital advertising is unlikely to reach them.

One way we’ve found to work very well for companies is through our public network of jobs kiosks. They catch the eye of people — in the case of this picture it captures the attention of would-be jobseekers strolling through a GGP shopping mall by Baltimore’s  Inner Harbor. Another way is for brands to offer recruiting opportunities at non-job fair events they hold.



How Google Hires Differently … And Why You Should Too

Google spends twice as much on recruiting than the average company, even though it gets two million applicants a year. My book review of Laszlo Bock’s “Work Rules” in today’s WSJ on why that’s the case, read it here.

Lots of valuable lessons from the book, especially what Google has found to be the greatest predictor of whether a candidate will succeed (a sample work test), why the best and brightest candidates are not looking for jobs, and why most companies are potentially missing out on the ideal candidates.

The biggest predictor of whether you’ll succeed, Laszlo Bock outlines in “Work Rules!,” is how you fare in a sample work test. Whether recruiting for an entry-level position at a call center or for a seasoned engineer at Apple, a company needs to see people in action. For example, hearing how a job candidate keeps calm talking to an irate customer or watching how the person would solve a coding challenge.

That may sound obvious, but consider that today most companies conduct their initial filter of job applicants based on a version of the traditional résumé. Work tests come later, if at all. What that means is that, in most jobs, potentially the best candidates—those who would ace the work test—never make it past the first round. That has serious implications for a company’s performance.

Read the full review here.

Are these challenges you’ve encountered or tried to solve? How does your company hire differently than others?


The Company That Will Beat Facebook and Twitter

Facebook investor Peter Thiel won’t be happy if he reads the sub-headline in a February Fast Company magazine piece on Facebook and Twitter. Under the headline “Twitter’s Facebook envy,” the sub-headline continues “… and vice versa. As the companies battle for social media dominance, they are studying each other’s every move.”

In his new book, “Zero to One,“ Mr. Thiel writes that it’s a mistake for companies to focus on what their rivals are doing and “go to war” to outdo each other. This approach, he says, for example, cost Microsoft and Google their dominance, as focusing on each other comes at the expense of focusing on what’s next. Apple came along and instead focused on what was next.

As Mr. Thiel puts it:

Just as war cost the Montagues and Capulets their children, it cost Microsoft and Google their dominance: Apple came along and overtook them all. In January 2013, Apple’s market capitalization was $500 billion, while Google and Microsoft combined were worth $467 billion. Just three years before, Microsoft and Google were each more valuable than Apple. War is costly business. Rivalry causes us to overemphasize old opportunities and slavishly copy what has worked in the past.

The companies that will maintain their dominance in the future are those that are not looking at what others are doing or thinking, but at what they’re not doing or thinking. Along similar lines, Henry Ford once famously said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

At Apploi we try to think in this way. (We just completed our Series A, raising $7 million.) While other jobs companies were focused on what each other were doing – making the traditional job application mobile accessible – we’ve been focused on rethinking the entire application (putting personality, passion, and potential at the forefront) and reaching the tens of millions of Americans right now who don’t have access (with partnerships with cities, states, community groups, and colleges).

We know that as we continue to grow the challenge for us is to not focus on who is in our rearview mirror, but what’s around the corner.

As for the Facebook and Twitter question, who is that company that will beat them? Is it Pinterest? Slack? Wish? Yik Yak? I’m not sure. It’s probably someone few people have heard of (another piece of advice from Mr. Thiel: successful networks start with small markets first – Facebook, for example, initially was just for Harvard students).

What do you think?


Announcing First in Nation Partnership: City & Tech Company, Expanding Access for Job seekers

We at Apploi are very excited to be officially launching tomorrow a unique partnership with Baltimore City – where our jobs kiosks are being placed into the Central Library/State Library Resource Center and at two Mayor’s Office of Employment Development-operated centers: Eastside One-Stop Career Center (open to general public and the Career Academy (open only to school’s students).

The kiosks both expand access to jobs – reaching those without internet or computer access – and transform how jobseekers interact with companies – by enabling jobseekers to showcase their personalities and skills and respond to questions (including video and audio) set by employers.

Rich Seltzer from the Baltimore Business Journal reports:

It’s officially launching with a Wednesday evening panel at the Enoch Pratt Free Library at 400 Cathedral Street. City officials will speak, and employers looking for workers will be on hand. The event will run from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Read the full article here.

If you’re in Baltimore – join us for what promises to be a special evening, and the launch of a transformative partnership. Participants include great companies (the likes of Cinnabon, PayPal, Rue21, and many, many more), job experts, city officials, and hundreds of job seekers. And as Mr. Seltzer reports, more than 400 new Baltimore jobs have been added in the last two weeks alone!

By expanding access through kiosks, and by enabling job seekers to showcase their personalities and skills upfront, Apploi benefits both job seekers – who get jobs they previously never would have been considered for or couldn’t access or didn’t know about – and companies, who benefit from the larger talent pool (and see a 30% reduction in turnover because of the better fit). It truly is a win-win.