Tag Archives: microsoft

123rf.com: prykhodov

How To Master LinkedIn


Crystal Washington

Crystal Washington, owner of CWM Enterprises, is a social media guru. She has helped large companies such as Google and Microsoft harness the utility of the Internet’s networking tools and find freedom from any hesitation professionals have about promoting themselves on a limitless stage. Here are her top tips for women in commercial real estate.

1. Use LinkedIn. LinkedIn is more male dominated, but it’s the one social network that is 100-percent business.

2. Use keywords. Keywords are not just for website SEO. LinkedIn runs off keywords, so users should put extra thought into the terms that appear on a profile. Ask: Are these words I expect my clients to use when searching for my services?

3. Use contacts. The second-most popular way to find people on LinkedIn is through similar connections. A profile will appear higher in searches if there is some degree of connection between the searcher and your profile.

4. Use groups. Groups consist of a target market. It helps profiles wind up higher in a search queue when they have groups in common.

5. Use good photos. Don’t use your daughter’s “my first Barbie camera” picture of you or a cute picture of a Cancun vacation. Invest in professional head shots. These can be creative. You don’t want to look theme-y or like you’re at a magazine shoot, but using a head shot can be enough to catch someone’s eye. Also, use current head shots. If you’ve gained or lost 50 pounds, go ahead and update your photo.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 11.55.56 AM

Best, worst, cutest Super Bowl 49 commercials

Aside from the Super Bowl itself, the commercials are the most exciting part of the big game day. While some companies such as GoDaddy and Budweiser unveiled their ads prior to the game, there were still plenty of reactions to go around. Puppies and emotions were two themes in commercials this year. According to NFL Research, a 30-second slot for a Super Bowl commercial for 2015 is $4.5 million. That’s a steep hike from $4 million last year. Ads were only $42,000 for the first Super Bowl in 1967.

Budweiser never seems to be a let down with their commercials. This year was no exception with their #BestBuds campaign. In addition to a number of other commercials, Budweiser centered their ad on a Labrador puppy. Their star pup gets lost and finds his way back home with some assistance from the trademark Clydesdales.

Microsoft pulled off an interesting commercial that demonstrated how their technology is working in real life. Their profile of Braylon O’Neil provoked awes with the touching story.

Nationwide really pulled a plot twist on their commercial. The bit starts out with a young boy who talks about all the things he’ll never do, which is expected out of young children. The real twist came when the boy announced he couldn’t do these things because he had died. While it grabbed people’s attention, it was definitely a mood-killer.

Most Inspiring
Car commercials are hard to pull off, but Toyota nailed it this year. Their minute slot featured U.S. Paralympic snowboarder and former “Dancing with the Stars” guest Amy Purdy. The combination of audio from Muhammad Ali and the visuals of Purdy provided a stunning visual experience.

Most Clever
“Allison can you explain what Internet is?” Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel star in BMW’s commercial that revolves around how far technology has come. Starting twenty-one years ago, the two attempt to explain what internet is to their viewers. Fast-forward to present day and Couric is still asking for help wit new technology. “Allison, can you explain what i3 is?” The commercial leaves off on a high with Gumbel asking Couric if she can twerk.

Turbo Tax
Turbo Tax took taxes back to their roots with a spoof of the Boston Tea Party. While the Tea Party ended on calm terms in the commercial, we all know that’s not how it ended in history. At least the Patriots fans didn’t celebrate by throwing tea into the harbor when they won the Super Bowl.

Most Disturbing
This ad was something we looked up after the commercial aired. Squarespace’s commercial features Jeff Bridges advertising for his website, Dreaming with Jeff. Overall, the commercial left the majority of viewers trying to figure out what happened.

Biggest Let down

GoDaddy—one of the few who previously released ads, GoDaddy faced backlash last week over their intended commercial that featured Buddy the dog returning home only to be sold off. Animal rights activists were furious over the fact that the commercial poked at puppy mills. GoDaddy campaigned Buddy extremely well. The fact that the cute Labrador pup was nowhere in the video was a huge let down. Brand woman Danica Patrick was nowhere to be seen either.

Most Important
One of the most important commercials that aired during the Super Bowl wasn’t a commercial at all but rather a PSA. This was the first time ever that the NFL took time to air a PSA. The slot focused on domestic violence, a topic the NFL dealt with early on in the season with players Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.

Jay Parry, president and CEO of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee

Host committee unveils Verizon Super Bowl Central

The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee formally announced today that Verizon will be the ‘Official Wireless Service and Solutions Provider’ of the Host Committee, as well as the title sponsor of Verizon Super Bowl Central. The Host Committee also unveiled the official Verizon Super Bowl Central logo, which will be seen prominently by the estimated one million attendees who will enjoy all the Super Bowl XLIX festivities in Downtown Phoenix.

Verizon is a major sponsor of the National Football League and Super Bowl. Now, it extends that relationship to the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee.

Verizon Super Bowl Central will be the hub of fan, media and sponsor activity, as well as entertainment from January 28 through February 1, 2015 in Downtown Phoenix. Located adjacent to the NFL Experience engineered by GMC and the Super Bowl Media Center presented by Microsoft, the 12-city block, free, pedestrian- and family-friendly, football-themed, outdoor fan campus will be the epicenter of Super Bowl XLIX activities and events.

Verizon Super Bowl Central will feature a multitude of daily activities including free, outdoor performances by national recording artists and local musicians, an autograph stage, nightly fireworks shows, the iconic Super Bowl XLIX Roman Numerals, as well as the Host Committee’s recently unveiled 20 ft. super-sized football and a beer garden. Verizon Super Bowl Central also will be the broadcasting headquarters to both national and local media outlets. Verizon will have a major presence at Verizon Super Bowl Central, so fans can engage with the latest technology, products and services. Fans will learn about NFL Mobile from Verizon from the league’s best players and feel the intensity of the game with cutting edge virtual reality.

“The fan experience is one of the most important parts of Super Bowl week, and together with the Host Committee, we are delighted to make it even better,” said Jay Jaffin, Vice President of Marketing Communications for Verizon Wireless. “Verizon has a long history with both the NFL and Arizona, so this was a natural step to deliver not only great wireless service, but super-fun activities for everyone coming to enjoy the game.”

“Joining forces with a powerhouse like Verizon will enhance the fan experience and keep them connected while at Verizon Super Bowl Central,” said Jay Parry, President and CEO of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee. “This is just the beginning of many more exciting announcements to come to make this a very fan-centric Super Bowl.”

In addition to being the title sponsor of Verizon Super Bowl Central, Verizon’s sponsorship includes participation in the Host Committee’s CEO Forum to encourage economic development. Verizon is one of Arizona’s largest employers.


5 Things To Remember When Asking for a Raise

A Wells Fargo employee emailed the company’s CEO asking for a $10,000 raise and cc’d 200,000 other employees. Then there’s Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella who said that women who don’t ask for raises will receive good karma.  So what is the correct way to ask for a raise?

Jacqueline Whitmore is an internationally recognized etiquette expert and author of “Poised for Success: Mastering The Four Qualities that Distinguish Outstanding Professionals,” and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach.

Her tips:

• Timing is everything. The best time to ask for a raise is three to four months before your annual review. That’s when the budgets are being decided. You may also request a raise when you have been asked to take on additional responsibilities that do not fall under your job description.

• Be organized. Have all of your facts and figures in order and be prepared to explain why you deserve a raise. Come prepared with a list of your yearly accomplishments, such as big projects you have completed, statistics and results of those projects (i.e. sales increased 15% as a result of X, Y, Z), how you saved the company money or increased the company’s bottom line.

• Do your research. Find out how much others in your industry or job position are making. Use this data to request a certain sum or a percentage.

• Consider your alternatives. If your employer cannot meet the dollar amount requested, be prepared to negotiate for benefits (example: additional personal days per year or the ability to work from home and telecommute one day per week). If you don’t get the amount you want, reply with, “What would it take for me to earn a better raise in the future?” That way you’ll know exactly what your boss expects of you.

• Be polite and diplomatic. If you do not get the raise, don’t get angry and threaten to leave the company, even if you think you might do so. It’s best not to burn any bridges just in case you do get a better offer or need a letter of recommendation.

“It’s a fact that if you don’t ask, you may never get. If you’re not earning a fair salary or not being given the raise you think you deserve, it’s time to focus on asking for what you think you’re worth,” Whitmore says.  “Asking for a raise is not only good business sense, it shows that you’re committed to your well-being and that of your family.”


WGM earns Microsoft ‘Champions’ award

WGM Associates, a Scottsdale-based information technology consulting, security and application development firm, was recognized by Microsoft as a “Small to Midsized Business Champion” at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference.

The Microsoft U.S. SMB Champions Club recognizes top performing partners that deliver cloud-based IT services and solutions to small and midsized business (SMB) customers. To earn recognition as an U.S. SMB Champions Club member, WGM Associates established a proven track record of delivering small to midsized businesses with the technology they need to grow and thrive, in many cases taking a cloud-first approach to IT services.

WGM Associates is a local provider of consulting, security, managed IT services and application development for Arizona-based small- and medium-sized businesses. WGM’s leadership team plays an integral role in all IT decisions including technology platforms, information governance, regulatory compliance, strategic initiatives, future requirements and budgetary planning. WGM remotely monitors and manages critical systems 24×7 throughout the Southwest via its network operations center based in Scottsdale.

“WGM is 100 percent focused on helping small to midsized businesses manage their complex IT needs,” said Steve Davis, president of WGM Associates. “We are pleased that our efforts are helping businesses succeed and have been recognized by a technology pioneer like Microsoft.”

“Members of the U.S. SMB Champions Club are committed to helping small and midsized businesses use technology to succeed,” added Cindy Bates, vice president of Microsoft U.S. SMB group. “We are proud of these partners and their dedication to driving cloud solution adoption in the small business community.”

The Microsoft U.S. SMB Champions Club program offers members the support they need to grow their cloud services business, with incremental benefits above those earned through the Microsoft Partner Network. Benefits include a dedicated partner account manager, who is focused on helping partners to grow their Microsoft business with SMB customers; marketing development funds to help partners promote their business, services and Microsoft solutions.


10 Wealthiest Entrepreneurs of All Time

An entrepreneur is not an ordinary person. If you plan to organize and operate a business, you are taking a financial risk to do so — as well as personal risks and an investment in time and effort. But, sometimes the risks and investments pay off, as shown by this list of the ten wealthiest entrepreneurs of all time. The list is ordered by wealth and the focus is in the United States. The businesses created by these individuals range from oil to cars, and from dry goods to lumberyards. The wealth estimates in most cases are based upon several observations from Forbes, mainly based upon modern net worth. You might note that only one person on this list was born in the twentieth century and is still alive — Bill Gates.

1. John Davidson Rockefeller: Rockefeller founded Standard Oil in 1870, which dominated the oil industry and was the first great U.S. business trust. He was 31-years-old at the time, and his pursuits revolutionized the petroleum industry and defined the structure of modern philanthopy. Standard Oil began as an Ohio partnership formed by John D. Rockefeller, his brother William Rockefeller, Henry Flagler, Jabez Bostwick, chemist Samuel Andrews, and a silent partner, Stephen V. Harkness. As kerosene and gasoline grew in importance, Rockefeller’s wealth soared, and he became the world’s richest man and first American worth more than a billion dollars. His peak fortune? $336 billion.

2. Andrew Carnegie: After jobs such as a factory worker in a bobbin factory, a messenger boy, and an upwardly-mobile employee for a telegraph company, Carnegie built Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Steel Company. After he sold Carnegie Steel Company to J.P. Morgan in 1901 ($480 million), Carnegie devoted the remainder of his life to large-scale philanthropy, with special emphasis on local libraries, world peace, education and scientific research. Carnegie slowly accumulated capital, the basis for his later success, through investments. His life has often been referred to as a true “rags to riches” story. His peak fortune? $309 billion.

3. Henry Ford: As founder of the Ford Motor Company and sponsor of the development of the assembly line of mass production, Ford had a global vision of how to run a company and treat employees. Ford astonished the world in 1914 by offering a $5 per day wage ($110 today), which more than doubled the rate of most of his workers. The move proved extremely profitable; instead of constant turnover of employees, the best mechanics in Detroit flocked to Ford, bringing their human capital and expertise, raising productivity, and lowering training costs. His peak fortune? $188.1 billion.

4. Cornelius Vanderbilt: This entrepreneur began working on his father’s New York harbor ferry as a boy and quit school at age 11. He then borrowed $100 from his mother to purchase a boat at age 16, and began to build a complicated shipping business while also fathering 13 children. He also built an interest in railroads, eventually selling all his ships and concentrating on that business. He was the patriarch of the Vanderbilt family and one of the richest Americans in history. He provided the initial gift to found Vanderbilt University, which is named in his honor. His peak fortune? $185 billion.

5. Bill Gates: A contemporary entrepreneur, many people know how Bill Gates built his fortune. Gates is the former CEO and current chairman of Microsoft, the software company he founded with Paul Allen. In 1987, Gates was officially declared a billionaire in the pages of Forbes’ 400 Richest People in America issue, just days before his 32nd birthday. As the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, he was worth $1.25 billion, over $900 million more than he’d been worth the year before, when he’d debuted on the list. He is consistently ranked among the world’s wealthiest people and was the wealthiest overall from 1995 to 2009, excluding 2008, when he was ranked third. In 2011 he was the wealthiest American and the second wealthiest person alive. His peak fortune? $136 billion.

6. John Jacob Aster: As the first prominent member of the Astor family, John (born Johann), was a German-American business man and investor who was the first multi-millionaire in the United States. He was the creator of the first trust in America. Astor arrived in the U.S. American Revolutionary War to build a fur-trading empire that extended to the Great Lakes region and Canada. He later expanded into the American West and Pacific coast. He also got involved in smuggling opium and then began to purchase land in Manhattan, creating a land-rich empire. At the time of his death in 1848, Astor was the wealthiest person in the United States. His peak fortune? $121 billion.

7. Stephen Girard: Born in France, Girard lost the sight in his right eye at age eight, and he had very little education. As an established merchant in Philadelphia, Girard eventually purchased the First Bank of the United States charter. His bank because the principal source of government credit during the War of 1812. Towards the end of the war, when the financial credit of the U.S. government was at its lowest, Girard placed nearly all of his resources at the disposal of the government and underwrote up to 95 percent of the war loan issue, which enabled the United States to carry on the war. He became one of the wealthiest men in America, estimated to have been the fourth richest American of all time, based on the ratio of his fortune to contemporary GDP. Childless, he devoted much of his fortune to philanthropy, particularly the education and welfare of orphans. His peak fortune? $105 billion.

8. Alexander Turney Stewart: Also known as “A.T.” Stewart was a successful Irish entrepreneur who made his multi-million fortune in what was at the time the most extensive and lucrative dry goods business in the world. He received an inheritance of somewhere between $5,000 to $10,000, taking this money to New York and creating a store on Broadway. Along with his successful retail store, Stewart also established himself as one of the wealthiest men in the United States by allowing women all over the country to purchase and order items from his wholesale department store. His peak fortune? $88.9 billion.

9. Frederick Weyerhaeuser: Weyerhaeuser, a German-born son of farmers, emigrated to the U.S. in 1848 and worked in a brewery, on the railroad, and eventually became an upwardly-mobile employee in a sawmill factory. He eventually purchased the sawmill business and formed the Weyerhaeuser-Denkmann Lumber Company with his brother-in-law, Frederick Denkmann. The Weyerhaeuser Company is still the world’s largest seller of timber. His peak fortune? $79.4 billion.

10. Jay Gould: Although being ranked as the eighth worst American CEO of all time by the Conde Nast Portfolio, Jay Gould’s successes made him, at one time, the ninth richest American in history. He was a rail baron and gold speculator, masterminding the 19th-century transportation boom in America. He and financier James Fisk bought up a dominating share of the gold market, enough to directly affect market movements during his lifetime. His peak fortune? $71.2 billion.

Kate Hubbard is content editor for OnlineBusinessSchool.org.


Junior Achievement, Microsoft Prepare Valley Students

Junior Achievement of Arizona (JAAZ) and Microsoft announced a new collaboration as part of the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative to help local students explore careers in the technology hardware and software industries.

Through Microsoft YouthSpark, students from GateWay Early College High School, Girls Leadership Academy, Mesa High School and Skyline High School participated in the JA Job Shadow program, including teacher-led classroom instruction around key work-readiness skills such as leadership, teamwork and how to conduct a successful job search. The students visited a Microsoft Retail Store for a day-long mentoring experience giving them a first-hand glimpse into the world of work and the opportunity to apply their classroom learning.

“We are thrilled to partner with Microsoft to help students develop and enhance skills needed for future career pursuits,” said Joyce Richards, president of JAAZ.  “Through JA Job Shadow, students will learn resume writing, job interviewing and decision making, to help position them for success in the workforce.”

Students in the Phoenix-metro area join youth in 49 other communities across the United States to participate in the effort.


Local Youth Honored at Digikids Film Festival

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale recently partnered with the Microsoft Store located at Scottsdale Fashion Square to showcase young Club members’ excellence in the area of multimedia art as part of the Digikids Film Festival. The program encourages Club members to learn and practice in digital arts, including movie making, music making, and graphic design.

The young honorees and the public got the chance to view their movies on the big screen, courtesy of the Harkins Theatre at Scottsdale Fashion Square. After the movie screenings, the festival moved to the Microsoft Store where a red carpet and awards presentation took place.

Award Winners
Pinnacle High School students Parker Bradshaw and Harrison Mosbaugh, members of the Club’s Vestar Branch in Desert Ridge, both took home “Best Actor” honors during the event for the exceptional work in their branch’s film “Living the Dream.”

Pueblo Elementary student Nhi Tran, a member of the Rose Lane Branch in Scottsdale, was named “Best Actress” for her work in her branch’s film, “Evil Dentist.”

Desert Mountain students Jake Davis and Aaron Fugelberg, members of the Virginia G. Piper Branch in North Scottsdale, earned the “Best Music Video” crown for their “White and Nerdy” musical short.

Rounding out the North Valley-area honorees were Copper Ridge Elementary students Jillian Miller and Samara Hamideh, members of the Thunderbirds Branch in North Scottsdale, won in the category of “Best Stop Motion” for their “Koala Cake” short.

Taking home “Best Movie” honors for their “Prison Break” movie submission during the event was none other than the team from Arcadia’s own Hartley & Ruth Barker Branch, including:
* Christa Palacio, 9, of Pima Elementary School
* Diego Davila, 9, of Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center
* Adyson Anaya, 9, of Pima Elementary School
* Iliana Morales, 10, of Pima Elementary School
* Kimberly Sierra, 9, of Tonalea Elementary School

In addition, children from the Club’s Paiute Outreach Center in Arcadia were also honored with the “Best Scary Movie” award for their “A Pauite Haunting” short film submission. These honorees are:
* Jasmine Silva, 9, of Tavan Elementary School
* Jhosevetd Gutierrez, 13, of Ingleside Middle School
* Maria Gutierrez, 13, of Ingleside Middle School
* Melonie Alvarez, 9, of Tonalea Elementary School
* Jonothan Garcia, 7, of Tavan Elementary School
* Annay Lopez, 11, of Tonalea Elementary School

Taking home “Best Action Sequence” honors during the event was none other than the team from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa’s own Lehi Branch, including:
* Thalisie Paukgana, 11, of Kerr Elementary School
* Anthony Shippley, 11, of Kerr Elementary School
* Alex Miranda, 11, of Lehi Elementary School

In addition, taking home “Best Sound Effects” honors during the event was the team from the Club’s Red Mountain Branch, also on the reservation, including:
* Victoria Maynard, 10, of Whittier Elementary School
* Mekkhi Chiago, 11, of Whittier Elementary School
* Vincent Chiago, 10, of Whittier Elementary School
* Nate Wood, 12, of Whitman Elementary School
* Jared Wood, 11, of Whitman Elementary School
* Gregorio Martinez, 11, of Whittier Elementary School
* Alacia Carlisle, 11, of Whittier Elementary School
* Georgia Carlisle, 10, of Whittier Elementary School
* Hastiin Reina, 11, of Whittier Elementary School
* Elisette Hayes, 10, of Salt River Elementary School
* Amber Dorchester, 10, of Salt River Elementary School
* Arianna Flores, 11, of Salt River Elementary School

Taking home “Best Harlem Shake” honors, a new award based on the popular viral videos popping up online each day, during the event was none other than the team from Fountain Hills’ own Mary Ellen & Robert McKee Branch. Dozens of youth members helped plan the “shake” and participated in the video.

Each team of winners will now be entered into the national competition where it will be up against regional winners in all 50 states. National winners will be announced later this summer.
In addition to seeing their work on the big screen, the kids were honored at the event with a Microsoft Store goody bag filled with over $75 worth of items including a lunch pail, sunglasses, store discount cards, games and more.

Club members worked all year to master the skills of digital art through the program. The arts, which develops creativity and cultural awareness through all different types of mediums, is just one of five core areas focused on at the Boys & Girls Clubs. The non-profit organization also promotes leadership development, education, life skills and sports, fitness and recreation through their 100 youth development programs.

“We fully support creativity through technology, and we’re excited to deepen our commitment to the Scottsdale communities by providing technology and resources to the Boys & Girls Clubs,” says Melissa Brewer, Community Development Specialist at the Microsoft Store. “We were so impressed by the grasp youth have today on software tools and technology.”

Marketing action plan

Enterprise Offers Free Course for Business Leaders

Enterprise University, an educational program offered by Enterprise Bank & Trust, will continue its Spring 2013 courses with an April 24 class on “Creating a Marketing Strategy to Build Brands and Drive Results.” The morning workshop includes a continental breakfast and will focus on strategic, smart and innovative techniques that not only build brands but produce impressive results and generate a ROI.

This session will cover the best marketing practices online and offline for the following:
* Research and brand positioning
* Creative services
* Media planning/buying
* Web design and interactive marketing
* Public relations and special events

The instructors are David Nobs, Director of Business Development and Ben Smith, Director of Account Development at The Lavidge Company, a Phoenix-based advertising, public relationsand interactive marketing agency.

Enterprise University provides free educational seminars on a variety of relevant topics for business owners and their leadership taught by experts in a variety of fields including advertising, marketing, business continuity, financial planning and more.

WHAT: Course for business leaders on “Creating a Marketing Strategy to Build Brands and Drive Results”

WHERE: Phoenix Country Club, 2901 N. 7th St. Phoenix, Ariz. 85014

WHEN: Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.

COST: Free to business owners and leaders. Registration is required.

RSVP: Visit www.enterprisebank.com/eu to register

David Nobs has more than 25 years of experience in marketing, advertising and public relations. He’s directed high-profile campaigns for clients ranging from Bank of America and Microsoft to NASCAR, the NFL, NHL, LPGA and PGA of America.

Ben Smith has been on the leading edge of Arizona business and technology since 1985. Ben developed his expertise in project, design and long-range planning during his work in the public and private sectors, including serving as Director of Operations for a multi-million-dollar consulting firm where he managed engineering, programming and R&D teams nationwide.

Enterprise University will continue through May, with courses during the month of April focusing on marketing strategy and sales management.


GoDaddy hires tech veteran as CEO

GoDaddy, the world’s largest registrar of Internet domain names, on Tuesday said Microsoft and Yahoo veteran Blake Irving will become its CEO on Jan. 7.

He replaces Scott Wagner, an appointee from private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts who has been serving as interim CEO since July. KKR, Silver Lake Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures bought Scottsdale-based GoDaddy in 2011, at which time founder Bob Parsons stepped down as CEO.

Irving worked at Microsoft Corp. from 1992 to 2007, ending up as the vice president in charge of the Windows Live online services. He joined Yahoo Inc. in 2010 as chief product officer.

close up of broken control key on keyboard

Microsoft Needs To Get Moving Or It Could Get Lost

If you’ve been following the chatter among the techno-literati, it’s become almost fashionable to predict Microsoft’s demise. We see headlines like: “The Odds are Increasing that Microsoft’s Business Will Collapse.” At first blush that seems ludicrous to me. But could there be some truth to it?

Not so long ago, Microsoft seemed unassailable. Even now, the Windows operating system exceeds 90 percent market share. Internet Explorer owns 60 percent of the browser market. And Office — where Microsoft really makes its money — still owns over 95 percent of its market.

But Microsoft has become synonymous with “slow” and “stodgy.” Which brings to mind a possible precedent: IBM. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, IBM was by far the dominant player in the computing world. It felt like they had invented the category and they certainly were a marketing juggernaut. IBM was so dominant that there was a well-known catch phrase that went, “no-one ever lost their job choosing IBM.” In fact, it was more than a catch phrase. It was the commonly accepted wisdom.

But by the early 1990s IBM was in crisis. The world around had changed and they’d been unable to keep up. There was speculation that they wouldn’t be able to survive. They did, by radically changing their strategy to one that is largely based on services. Now they’re still huge and successful. But also largely irrelevant.

Could the same thing happen to Microsoft? In the late ‘90s I did some work with them. They were top dog but acted like they were running scared. They said it was an essential part of their corporate culture and was critical to them remaining on top. But now I can say from personal experience that the healthy paranoia is completely gone, replaced with an attitude that Microsoft can’t truly be threatened. The only thing that truly matters is hitting the numbers that determine your annual bonus, and it’s OK to do that at the expense of other parts of the organization.

Now, I don’t believe for a second that there isn’t a level of paranoia building at the highest levels of Microsoft. But it’s going to be a massive undertaking to do at Microsoft what Steve Jobs was able to do at Apple, meaning completely turn the company around. Microsoft’s incredible financial strength gives them a lot of breathing room, but without wrenching changes, they’re in danger of becoming just another IBM. Huge. Successful. And irrelevant.

Arizona Business Magazine's Editor-in-Chief Janet Perez

The Buzz on AZNow.Biz – October 4, 2010

This week on AZNow.Biz, listen to a podcast from our partners at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University about what it takes to become a great leader. Our tech columnist looks at how Microsoft needs to shake itself out of its doldrums, and our political columnist writes about the upcoming mid-term elections.


Tips On Avoiding Legal Hurdles When Starting A Business

When an entrepreneur launches a new venture, the legal issues related to forming and operating the business are often put on the back burner. The natural focus is on hiring employees, securing customers, and generating revenue. Unfortunately, failing to do some basic legal planning can result in costly mistakes, impaired growth, and even the untimely collapse of the business.

Here are practical tips that every new business owner should consider:

Create a company

Unless you want to put your personal assets at risk, create a company through which to operate your business. There are a number of options, including C corporations, S corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships. The right choice will turn on the nature of the business, the ownership and management structure, the desired tax treatment (including the elimination of “double taxation”), any applicable regulatory requirements and the exit strategy.

Maintain good corporate records

Understand the legal requirements and best practices associated with maintaining corporate records for your company. Once a checklist has been developed to guide you, the process is fairly painless. Poor record keeping, however, can lead to a host of problems and create significant liability for the company and its owners and managers.

Put someone in charge

Two individuals start a business and decide that each will be a 50 percent owner. That sounds good in theory, but rarely works in practice. No matter how cooperative the partners pledge to be, legitimate disagreements will inevitably arise. And when they do, a 50-50 ownership structure will guarantee deadlock. Encourage each owner to participate in the decision-making process, but invest someone with the power (through stock ownership, board control and/or contractual rights) to make the final call.

Raise money legally

Every new company requires some infusion of capital. If the company’s founders cannot personally finance those capital requirements, they may turn to third-party investors. In doing so, the company must conduct a private offering in compliance with federal and state securities laws. It is important to understand that these laws are triggered when even one share of stock is offered or sold to just one person. The laws dictate the manner in which prospective investors can be solicited, the contents of the documentation that must be provided, and any required regulatory filings. Securities law violations can jeopardize not only the offering, but also create civil and criminal liability for the company and its principals. Hire an experienced lawyer to help you navigate the process.

Protect your brand

As a company matures, its brand can become one of its most valuable assets. Think of Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Disney. Federal trademarks are the best way to protect and enforce your brand. Before launching your company or its new product, have an intellectual property attorney determine whether the names and logos being considered are available for use and, if so, what level of protection might be available. It is difficult enough to acquire brand recognition in the marketplace, so don’t risk being unable to use or protect the brand once that hard-earned recognition is attained.

Protect your other intellectual property

Apart from its brand, every company will have a certain amount of additional intellectual property. It might be a unique product, a novel way of doing business, a secret formula or a proprietary customer list. Make sure that your company both owns and protects its intellectual property. First, have both employees and consultants execute agreements that assign to the company all of the intellectual property they create. Without an agreement, your company’s latest and greatest idea may literally walk out the door without you being able to stop it. Second, consult a lawyer to determine how best to protect your intellectual property, whether through the use of patents, copyrights, trademarks, confidentiality and non-competition agreements, or otherwise.

Understand those contracts you are signing

How many times a week do you enter into contracts without reading the fine print — the ticket to the parking garage, the medical waiver, the cell phone agreement? Unfortunately, business owners are no different, often entering into critical company contracts without fully understanding their terms. They confirm that the basic deal points have been included, but then gloss over things such as representations and warranties, indemnities, and governing law and dispute resolution provisions. At best, those provisions may prevent the company from receiving the intended benefits of the contract. At worst, they may expose the company to significant and unexpected liability. Read and fully understand each and every contract before you sign it. Your company’s success (and survival) may depend on it.

Don’t hand out stock options like candy

To conserve cash while motivating employees to go the extra mile, some business owners are tempted to hand out numerous stock options. Whilethe dot-com era popularized this approach, you are encouraged to resist the urge. Employee turnover is inevitable. It is one thing to have a disgruntled former employee. It is another thing to have a disgruntled former employee who now owns a piece of your business.

Hire a good lawyer

Starting and growing a company is an incredibly difficult challenge. Hire a lawyer who understands and is willing to partner with your business. When you have an issue or problem, the best lawyer is one who has the expertise to understand the legal options, as well as the business sense to help you select the best one.

For more information visit, business-law.freeadvice.com

AZ Business Magazine September 2008