“I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down.”

These are two of my favorite quotes. They keep me going when my aspiration to become an entrepreneur gets [momentarily] derailed by pesky problems like patent issues and competition.

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
– Albert Einstein

“Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down.” – Charles F. Kettering

I will keep on dreaming. I will keep on taking things apart and trying to improve them. I will keep on trying to solve problems, and I will always keep on creating.

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I miss you Twitter. But it’s okay.

I’m a self-proclaimed social media addict, but I haven’t been very active my own Twitter account – @hannahlah – much at all lately. Recently, I was called out for this by a friend/follower. So, I decided to write about a few reasons why this is, and in my opinion, they’re pretty legit.

First, I’ve been busy on another account.
Luckily for me, I now work at a kick-ass social media agency on a kick-ass account. Which means I’m logged into my client’s kick-ass Twitter page all the time. Sure, I have social listening tools, but there’s nothing like some manual watching and digging as well. Monitoring my client’s social accounts (there are multiple) is always my go-to when I power-up my computer in the morning, am waiting for a bus, or am catching up on TV. It’s my new obsession (and I get paid to do it – lucky me!).

Secondly, there are so many social distractions.
Instagram, Reddit, Pinterest, Wikipedia. There are so many sources of information (and distraction) these days, in addition to my Facebook news feed full of my friends’ activities. I find myself gravitating towards Instagram and Pinterest more than ever lately. This probably has to do with my being a visual learner, and the fact that most online content is becoming more visual, so we’re becoming spoiled with it. Either way, there are a lot more places to spend my time online than ever before.

Finally, life got in the way.
It’s been a rough year. Between taking more classes than I could handle when I was wrapping up my MBA, a few health issues of my own and even more serious health issues of both my parents, I’ve had little time to frolick around in the online space as @hannahlah. There is some positive that’s coming out of these events: I’ve re-prioritized what’s important in my life, with a strong focus on cherishing my time with family/friends. And as much of a social geek I am, Twitter just isn’t at the top of my list 😉

6 Resources for the Aspiring Entrepreneur

Originally posted here.

In my MBA classes at Rutgers Business School, I have learned that creativity, perseverance, solid business skills, and passionate determination make an entrepreneur. But, there are also additional resources that help entrepreneurs along the way. Here are some of my favorites.

1. Inventor sites
A professor and mentor of mine, dt ogilvie, told me about Edison Nation when she knew I had a product Idea. It’s great. People from around the world use Edison Nation to get their innovations in front of retailers and manufacturers, to store and perfect their ingenious ideas, keep up with inventive friends, and learn what it takes to create and introduce a successful product into the market. 

2. Pitches
An idea will go nowhere if you don’t know how to communicate it effectively. Every entrepreneur has to learn how to give a good pitch. Shark Tank on ABC offers both entertainment and an education in pitching. I have also been sure to enter every pitch competition available to me so I can practice my pitch and learn what types of questions VCs and Angels will ask me.

3. Meetup Groups
In business school, we are trained to network. Meetup.com provides groups of all kinds of people with similar interests that anyone can join. I highly recommend joining it. When I am looking for a programmer, I go to a tech meetup. When I am looking to find other entrepreneurs for advice and guidance, I go to a cofounder meetup. My current favorites in the NY/NJ area are: Tech Startup Pizza Night, Startup Newark, Scarlet Venture, and NJ Tech. At Tech Startup Pizza night, we fill up an Italian restaurant in NYC, enjoy Pizza, wine and discuss hot topics in the tech startup world. At Startup Newark and Scarlet Venture (both founded by RBS MBA Alumni) and NJ Tech, we give and watch real business pitches, collaborate on projects, hear from great speakers, and have great networking events.

4. Skillshare
Join a Skillshare class, or connect with an industry leaders who are teaching the courses. Skillshare offers courses in entrepreneurship taught by experts, successful startup founders, and more. Some include “Startup Metrics for Founders,”  “Crash Course: Branding, PR, & Social Media,” and “TechCEO Bootcamp.” The last one I went to was at Union Square Ventures, and was pretty amazing.

5. Business Plan Competitions
Business Plan Competitions are a great way to get seed funding, become credible to future investors, and get some insightful feedback on your ideas. Best of all, they usually reward teams with money with no strings attached. Rutgers Business School has a competition each year, as do many other area schools. At Rutgers, both professors and investors judge the plans and pitches, and give valuable feedback that will help you improve your pitch tremendously. It is an amazing experience.Visit bizplancompetitions.com or business school websites to find a competition in your area.

6. Social Media
One of the great things about social media is that you can connect to other aspiring entrepreneurs from around the world and help each other grow. Find and follow mentors on Twitter. Subscribe to your favorite entrepreneurs on Facebook. Start conversations with them, comment on their blog posts, and ask lots of questions. I’ve learned that successful entrepreneurs are generally responsive to those of us just starting out, because they have been in your shoes before. Learn everything you can where people are spending their time and sharing their knowledge, opinions, and thoughts online.


Entrepreneurship meetup notes

“Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.” –Howard Aiken

Last week I attended two entrepreneurship meetups: NJTech and Startup Newark. I love being surrounded by the passion, energy, and creativity that emanates from members.

I thought of the above Howard Aiken quote as people chatted over beer about how and when we should share our ideas when we are working on startups. In my experience so far, the tech startup community has been very open, honest, and collaborative, and that’s one of the many reasons I love it. We’re all working to help users. We’re all passionate. We’re all excited for what’s to come next in tech and in business.

Here are some tips/lessons people shared at the Startup Newark meetup:

  • Ideas are the easy part – execution is the tricky part
  • Understand when you are NOT the expert, and be ready to hire someone to help you out
  • Be confident, and to a degree “fake it til you make it”
  • Read voraciously about your industry, trends, hot topics
  • Bring someone into the biz that can be accountable and drive towards results for your business
  • Must reads: “The Art of the Start,” “The Four Steps to the Epiphany,” & “The Lean Startup

I just started The Lean Startup today.

10 Reasons why Public Relations Professionals should consider an MBA

I’m often asked from my friends in public relations, journalism, and communications “why did you decide to get your MBA? Is it worth it?” I 100% believe this was one of the best decisions I have ever made as a public relations professional. In this slideshow, I share 10 reasons why I think public relations pros should consider earning their MBA

Using Social Media as a Business Professor and as a Thought Leader

Yesterday I co-presented a session on how to use social media both in the classroom and as a thought leader with Leon Fraser at Drexel University’s Business Professor Teaching Summit.  We had a great time hearing other speakers and meeting some great people. We were very excited to share what we’ve done at Rutgers Business School with social media, and the thinking behind it.

Here are a few of the great questions we got from the audience about social media and the answers we gave:

Would you encourage professors to use social media to promote their own brand?
Yes. Creating insightful comments on blogs, having a Twitter account that is specific to your expertise or area of research is very beneficial to promote your work and your school. Signing a comment with your name and your university affiliation shows you are a credible source the media can go to when they have a question or need a quote for a story, again promoting yourself and your school.

What if I have privacy concerns with connecting to students on social media?
Social media sites often have privacy controls that you can manipulate to your liking. You can customize what your visitors see. On Facebook Groups for Schools, you don’t even have to “friend” (or connect) with a student to actually work with them in a group space, keeping all of your Facebook content private from them. With services like Edmodo, Yammer, and My Big Campus, you can create a community completely customized to the school/class instead of using a medium with existing personal data.

What if people say negative things about a brand?
When brands are open, honest and responsive to a complaint or to negativity in the social space, consumers are responsive. BOSE does a great job hunting down and relieving dissatisfied customers, making a very public display of engagement and customer service with their customers, which will keep existing customers happy and lure in potential customers.

View the PowerPoint slides and feel free to contact me or comment below with any oter questions.

After the conference, I got to spend some time with friends in Philly 🙂

What’s Beyond Twitter & Facebook?

Last week, @dutchessmtg tweeted to me:  How can a new product have a bigger online presence other than from using Facebook and Twitter? (luggage)

Those who have heard my lectures on social media know I am a huge fan of using social media to find core niche spaces for brands (especially new ones) to communicate their messages. Because even if your niche space has 13 fans, those fans are more passionate, more engaged than that hundreds on Facebook who let your messages fly right by them on Timeline. So, this is a topic I love love love to discuss.

I talk about it like this: there are two main spaces in social media. The “Niche” spaces and the “Mega” Spaces. Mega spaces would be Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, while niche spaces might be more like a specialized blog, Ning community, Meetup.com Board, or Yahoo!Answers thread.

I’m a huge fan of using the niche spaces to drive traffic, increase sales, get more shares, and feel there is huge opportunity there.  Mega spaces are great, and pretty much by default necessary these days (since your competitors are probably there and helps you come up in Searches). But, for example, say you’re Hershey’s. You probably have a Facebook page but don’t necessarily need a strong niche campaign because everyone knows what you do. You are well established and well distributed. But let’s say you’re introducing a new organic, Stevia-sweetened candy bar. You need to make sure you are on every organic, diabetes, and green recipe site on the web. You want to be in blogs, you want to do more of a guerilla campaign in talking about your product to generate awareness. The niche spaces play an important role in this type of Word-of-Mouth marketing.

You say you want to learn about social media for a luggage brand. Just like in any communications campaign, we start with the basics. First, who is your target? This will help you identify both the mega and niche spaces where your prospective customers are hanging out. Second, what are you trying to communicate? Is your luggage competitively priced? Is it more stylish? Does it roll easier? What are your differentiators? These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself to determine what type of content will work for your social media campaign. Finally, what action will you drive your visitors to do? Buy? Click on a link? Like the page? Share? What exactly is it you want them to do? Keep that in mind when you are developing content. Maybe you have a great story to tell, but you want traffic to your site. Maybe you tell half of it on an external site, and put a  “… read more” link that leads to your site.

Then find the niche communities where you can post and create content. Here are a few communities off the top of my head for luggage to think about after you have established a list of key differentiators your product has:

Travel blogs (engage bloggers with your content)
Ning travel communities
Meetup.com Travel Enthusiast Boards
Travel boards on Pinterest with high # followers
Sample sale aggregators/blogs
Fashion blogs and forums – is your differentiator style?
Yahoo!Answers – are people asking for a better product? YOUR product? If not, what related Q’s are being asked? Can you answer them?

Well, @dutchessmtg, I hope this helps. Feel free to comment or tweet any further questions.