By Rieva Lesonsky

1) Eating Lunch Boost Productivity

Americans vs. the French

While we Americans are known to be some of the hardest workers in the world, new data from Pipedrive, a maker of simple, intuitive sales software for small businesses, shows we may need to work less and eat more.

The information suggest we need to be more like the French, who often take two-hour lunch breaks—yet French salespeople are more productive in the morning, and after lunch from 2 to 6 pm.

East coasters, says Pipedrive, tend not to eat lunch or quickly eat at their desks. These salespeople peak at noon and then their productivity continuously declines after. On the other hand, salespeople on the West Coast, especially in California, tend to eat lunch more often, which boosts their productivity.

“Our data shows that if you take a break, do it like you mean it. This isn’t about eating a large lunch—it’s more about stepping away from your work and taking a complete mental break,” says  Timo Rein, Pipedrive’s president and co-founder “For those of you who can’t easily step away for lunch, you might try to build in some routine shorter breaks into your day.”

Pipedrive looked at the lunch and productivity habits in eight countries, including Russia, where salespeople didn’t eat and were still productive for most of the day, India, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland and Poland.

Lunch Infographic Pipedrive

2) Silicon Cuba?

Most of us think of Cuba as a land time left behind. But, according to my friend Jim Barrood, the CEO of the New Jersey Tech Council, there’s a lot of development in the tech and biotech fields. Check out his report, and prepare to be surprised.


3) Workplace Challenges

There’s a major workforce transition taking place as Baby Boomers retire and Millennials step in by the millions, according to data gathered by Axero Solutions, maker of the Communifire enterprise social networking and collaboration platform. This makes it challenging to keep employees engaged and the lines of communication open.

Tim Eisenhauer, the co-founder and CEO of Axero Solutions says, “Our customers overwhelmingly report that keeping employees motivated, invested in their work and loyal are some of their toughest challenges, and so much of it has to do with a lack of transparency and generational gaps in how employees expect to communicate in the workplace.” It’s especially tough as they try to bridge the gap between older employees—many of whom are technology- and change-averse—and younger staff who have grown up with instant communication and information in the palm of their hands.”

And what’s more, the report says, the lack of engagement and communication also impacts a company’s productivity and profitability. Eisenhauer says time management, an overwhelming workload and employee turnover are also significant challenges, all of which could be overcome with a more open, transparent work environment.

The younger generation of workers, he says, “especially wants to know more about the company’s goals, position and how their individual work has a direct impact, both on company success and in making the world a better place in general. That’s why engagement is…a company-wide concern.”

Part of the problem is many companies lack the right tools to maintain openess and rely on emails and meetings, which consume far more time than they should, significantly eating into employees’ productivity and company profitability. In fact, some surveys show employees spend almost one-third of their workweek just managing email, and meetings are the single biggest waste of time in the workplace, costing U.S. employers as much as $3.7 billion each year by some estimates.

That’s where collaboration technology can have an impact—the company reports using a single platform to communicate and share documents and data across the entire company gives employees everything they need to do their best work right at their fingertips.


4) 7 Tips for Spotting a Sales Superstar

What business doesn’t dream of hiring a superstar salesperson? But, interviewing sales candidates can be extremely difficult since even bad salespeople are trained to tell people what they want to hear, so they look great on paper, only later to turn in lackluster performances. Since the cost of bad hires is enormous for a company’s bottom line, it is critical for those that are in charge of hiring to “get it right.”

The key when hiring, says Eliot Burdett, the CEO of Peak Sales Recruiting and co-author of Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast, is to look beyond the resume and test for certain personality traits.

Burdett shares the seven most common personality traits found in top sales performers and how to find out if the jobs candidates truly possesses them.

1—Success driven: While skills can be learned, a desire to succeed and a pattern of behavior often cannot. Since sales candidates won’t assess themselves as unambitious, the interviewer must delve deeper. High performers have a pattern of accomplishments across all areas of their life, not just at work.

Tip: To interview for patterns of success include questions in the interview script that probe what they are most proud of. Start with their achievements at work but then transition to areas outside of work such as sports or the arts where they demonstrate being goal-oriented.

2—Confidence vs. false bravado: A salesperson can exude confidence in an interview, and still wilt under rejection or criticism. When the best salespeople are told “No,” they are not defeated—they are invigorated.

Tip: To interview for confidence, while testing a candidate’s determination is important, it is advisable to do so in a way that is not offensive. A successful sales person will not wilt under pressure, yet they will want to feel wooed at the same time. Ask for examples of when they showed extraordinary determination.

3—Competitive fire is defined by Merriam-Webster as “having a strong desire to win or be the best at something.” This is the fuel that powers salespeople to hunt for new business opportunities, cold call, get in front of the key decision makers, and close deals.

Tip: To interview for competitiveness ask the candidate to describe how they strive to be the best salesperson possible. If they talk about using their co-workers recent big deal as motivation to come in early or stay late, or express a desire to surpass their own best sales numbers, this is a key indicator that the candidate is a top performer.

4—Sense of Urgency: The creed that “time kills deals,” defines the top-performing salespeople. They understand that every minute not on the phone with prospects or meeting them face-to-face is potential lost revenue.

Tip: To interview for a sense of urgency ask the candidate to provide examples of how they used time to their advantage. How much time is split between prospecting, working the funnel, and closing accounts? These numbers will tell if they understand that time is money.

5—Primal need to influence others: Let’s face it; people like to buy from people they like. That is not to say they are categorically extroverts, as many great sales people classify as introverts, but they simply have an innate ability to develop relationships.

Tip: To interview for a people person, see if they appear relaxed, if their smile and handshake are genuine. If they routinely bond with clients, sending them useful information beyond what they are selling, or can articulate how they build rapport with prospects to overcome pricing objections, you may have a winner.

6—Creativity: This is not a word that is always associated with salespeople, but the best are very creative when it comes to removing obstacles and finding solutions to problems. As the saying goes, the best salespeople don’t ask permission, they seek forgiveness.

Tip: To interview for creativity, ask candidates about times they had to develop alternative ways of doing things in order to succeed. Give them difficult scenarios involving gatekeepers, price, and budgeting issues and ask them to brainstorm solutions. This will show if they are creative problem solvers.

7—Perseverance and resilience: Great salespeople do not let rejection prevent them from achieving success. They never give up on a deal until it is definitely dead and if it is—they’ll find another deal to close in its place.

Tip: To interview for organization, ask the candidate to talk about their failures and how they later on led to greater success.


5) Cool Tool: Get Secure

Kaspersky Lab just announced its latest edition of Kaspersky Small Office Security, which is built specifically for businesses with less than 25 employees. This solution provides world-class protection and you don’t need someone with specialized IT skills to implement it.

Small businesses are frequently targeted by cybercriminals because they generally pay less attention to cybersecurity, even though their data is valuable and needs protection. According to recent survey results, the share of companies that allow the use of personal employee devices within the corporate network grew to 62 percent last year. And while businesses realize that a customer’s personal information (25 percent), payment requisites (13 percent) and trade secrets (12 percent) are among the top priorities of their information security needs, they take very basic protection measures, relying, for example, on free anti-malware products.

The new software comes with enterprise-grade technologies, yet is designed specifically to serve the needs of very small businesses. It brings the power of the award-winning anti-malware and online transactions protection, cloud management, backup and password management, in an easy-to-use manner that is demanded by this segment.


6) Security that Makes CFOs Happy

Speaking of security, 74 percent of CFOs say cybersecurity is a top priority. Bill Carey, the VP of marketing for RoboForm, a password manager offers his expert tips on what CFOs can do to create a safe and protected work environment.

1—Require employees to use strong passwords on all devices. Many high-profile hacking incidents begin with a compromised password, so make sure employees create passwords with upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Also make it a policy to use a separate password for each site and to change it every 30-60 days. A good password management system can automate the process and eliminate the need to remember multiple passwords.

2—Educate employees on best practices and provide ongoing support. Passwords aren’t always cracked due to carelessness; some employees simply don’t know how to protect themselves online. That’s why it’s a good idea to sponsor training to help team members learn how to manage passwords effectively and avoid falling for phishing and keylogger scams. With ongoing support and the right resources, employees can keep company information safer.

3—Make employees accountable for cybersecurity. Once everyone receives the training and resources they need, hold employees accountable, including managers. Provide a detailed online security manual that outlines your policy, and make sure employees sign an acknowledgement form after training to indicate that they understand how to stay safe online and will abide by company policies.


7) Cool Tool: Meetings Get Serious

As much as we’d like to, meetings are a central part of our business lives. But with more people working outside of the office at remote/virtual locations, it can be more difficult to hold meetings.

Meet Meeter, a “smart meeting” solution that promotes the automated scheduling of meetings and also provides a standardized  framework for managing what happens during the meetings and collects the historical documentation of what transpired.

Using Meeter you can instantly schedule meetings for up to 100 participants at a time, track and analyze the user’s time, provide insights about past meeting history and report on who a user met with, for how long and when and over time will suggest potentially constructive future meetings. By saving time and increasing collaboration, Meeter can help significantly increase productivity.

The Meeter app is universally available and can be downloaded through the apps stores for iOS and Android systems, as well as on the web and can work with participants who may not have the app. Because Meeter does not share meeting details or data, it’s non-intrusive and secure.


8) Easy Checkout

PayPal and Braintree just announced One Touch for Web, a seamless payment solution that works across devices, platform, channels and merchants. Using One Touch for Web, millions of consumers will be able to securely checkout across millions of PayPal merchants in a single touch, without having to enter in any login information.


9) Seeking Specific Skills

ZipRecruiter analyzed 250,000 job listings across a variety of industries to find the top skills hiring managers are looking for. Below are the most used key terms employers searched for when hiring new talent and looking for specific experience:

  • Communication (51 percent)
  • Time Management (21 percent)
  • Ability to work well within a team (19 percent)
  • Independent Motivation (12 percent)
  • Specific experience in Microsoft Office (11 percent)
  • Ability to work in fast-paced environment (7 percent)
  • Background check required (6 percent)

Even more specifically, 11 percent of job ads mentioned specific experience in Microsoft Office as a plus in getting hired.

To attract new hires, 11 percent of companies included a signing bonus to sweeten the deal, 10 percent offered training programs for new hires, and 6 percent specifically mentioned paid vacation.


10) 6 Reasons To Get Out of the Office

Spending day-after-day in the office can stifle creativity, depress employees and decease productivity. Taking your staff out of the office can reinvigorate everyone.

The award-winning Inn at New Hyde Park explains how “on the clock, off-premise” meetings are beneficial for your employees—and you small business.

  1. They boost employee morale. Employees generally are happier and are more likely to possess a positive attitude when they are able to escape the office walls during meetings.
  2. They could offer a new perspective on current projects. Being in a different environment with all of its aspects—atmosphere, décor, lighting, smells, sights, and sounds–can spark new ideas.
  3. They produce team bonding. Sharing a table with coworkers, eating together and engaging in productive brainstorming all helps with team bonding and inter-department communication.
  4. No interruptions from work phones or emails enable a clear vision and thought process. How many times have you sat down to a meeting and received a call that must be taken? This puts the meeting on hold and suspends the flow of ideas. When you’re away from the office, those distractions disappear.
  5. They show employee appreciation. There is a certain kind of thoughtfulness that comes from a business meeting over lunch that employees will certainly recognize.
  6. Free food! Who doesn’t appreciate a free meal?


11) Cool Tool: Analyze This—and That

Can you ever have too much data? Not really, though sometimes the amount and scope of data is overwhelming. To help simplify data analysis, GoodData, a provider of Insights as a Service, just released three new additions to its cloud analytics platform. These releases help break down the barriers of traditional business intelligence and improve self-service analytics without compromising IT’s need for data governance and integrity.

  1. Data Explorer is a business-user facing data exploration interface that allows business analysts to turn around insights from new sources of data in a matter of minutes rather than in weeks or months.
  2. Analytical Designer is the new self-service data discovery canvas that guides analysts to better insights with GoodData’s Collective Learning and recommendations.
  3. Email and Group Sharing makes it easy to deliver engaging insights to the right stakeholders across the organization.