Hologram Technology – A new Reality and Business Future with HoloLens & Magic Leap

Researched and Excerpted from various sources:      

microsoft.com | magicleap.comwired.com |austinonno.streetwise.co

For quite some time now a new disruptive innovation technology that generates live holograms has been creating excitement waves in movies; recently in tech headlines and now also in the business world.

I remember seeing holographic User Interfaces in movies such as ‘Minority Report’, ‘Iron Man’, ‘Mission Impossible 4’ and ‘Avengers’ – and rewinding again and again to feast my eyes on the utter beauty of the designs; delighted with the magic of it all.

Holographic technology brings an evolutionary way of doing business in the future, transforming all methods of education, storytelling, business and remote collaboration into new worlds of possibilities, seemingly without any more boundaries. Not only in the corporate & entrepreneurial business world; also in how we explore outer space and planetary systems, human anatomy, anthropology, design, architecture, construction, production – you imagine it, it can take you there.

The thing is though, it’s not so far in the future – some people and companies are already working and playing with it, right now.

Two of the biggest, most innovative (- putting it mildly) players in the field of holographic technology are Microsoft’s Hololens and the until recently very secretive start-up, Magic Leap. (Ok, they are still very secretive…)

Although there are other players in the holographic technology field, these two are the giants, so let’s take a closer look at them.

1. MICROSOFT’S HOLOLENS 

Pushing the limits of storytelling, bringing ideas to life.MSHoloLens_Hero1_RGB     Image: Microsoft News Centre

Microsoft’s Hololens is the worlds first fully self-contained holographic computer, enabling you access to interactive holograms in your own world.

For decades, we have seen holograms in sc-fi movies and TV shows such as  “Star Wars” and “Star Trek”.   Remember when R2D2 projected a 3-dimensional image of Princess Leia pleading for help from Obi-Wan Kenobi?

We have all heard and dreamt of VR, Virtual Reality. Then there is also AR, Augmented Reality. However what Microsoft and Magic Leap have / are busy developing for us is called MR, which is Mixed Reality.

Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 3.46.24 PMimage: www.microsoft.com

Mixed Reality blends 3D holographic content INTO your real world, with your holograms in real-world context and scale and not just on top of your real-world surroundings but immersed with it. This enables you to interact with both the hologram and your immediate surroundings simultaneously.

Therefore the new hologram technology embraces virtual reality and augmented reality and with the addition of mixed reality understands your environment, enabling the holograms to look and sound like they are a part of your world.

Hololens provides you with the ability to create holograms with a gesture, use your voice to communicate with apps and navigate with a glance. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Talk about futuristic!

This brings the future slap-bang right into our own environment, now.

Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 3.51.00 PM.pngimage: www.microsoft.com

The Hololens allows you to interact freely with holograms, people and the surroundings in your world, allowing you to see detail where it really matters as the holographic frame positions holograms where your eyes are more sensitive to detail, leaving your peripheral vision unobscured.

Holographic tech will transform the way that you communicate, educate, collaborate, create and explore.  The way you do all things called ‘Entrepreneur’.

Imagine being able to do just some of the things that it could do:

  • Enhancing educational and instructional moments on Skype – You and your Skype contacts can draw on the screen to place holograms over physical objects in your view. You must see these Skype app Videos to appreciate what it can do.
  • Creating what you imagine – Shape holograms to fine-tune designs in relation to your real world surroundings.
  • Collaborative remote-location 3D design with others. And visualising your work in 3D – allowing you to make smarter decisions and prototype faster when you can inspect your design from every vantage point.
  • Viewing holograms from your colleague’s perspective on the other side of the world, exploring places and ideas in their reality and surroundings.
  • Using well-known apps from a holographic perspective, including hundreds more for Hololens via Windows Store. An entirely new way of using e-mail and social media too!
  • Building your own Holographic apps.

Transforming How we do Business

Partners of Hololens, such as Volvo, Autodesk, Case Western Reserve University, Trimble and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory have moved beyond proofs of concept and have started to use Hololens in their real business scenarios.

To see how and what they have been up to, you can learn more here. Scroll down… Utterly fascinating!

Do you want a HoloLens? Apparently the cost is $3,000, and is available for purchase if you live in North America. (This could have by now opened up to other countries, not sure.)

Sales were limited to only developers earlier this year, but at the beginning of August Microsoft has opened up availability to anyone willing to pay $3,000 for the VR headset in the US or Canada.
The Hololens Commercial Suite is now also available, ready for business. (Not sure if there are country restrictions on the Commercial Suite.)

Go here for more info and to place your order.

– Source: www.microsoft.com

2. MAGIC LEAP’S MIND BENDING TECHNOLOGY

Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 10.06.31 PM.pngImage: www.magicleap.com

Magic Leap has been named the  world’s hottest startup and it isn’t located in Silicon Valley—it’s in suburban Florida.  Like Hololens, they are also creating Mixed-Reality holographic technology, but they are in the lead regarding the quality of their virtual visions – not a pixel in sight. And even though they have let the world in a tiny bit more, they are still very secretive about exactly what they are busy creating and what it will look like.

This article by www.wired.com‘s Kevin Kelly provides an excellent overview.

Here’s an excerpt:

‘Magic Leap is not the only company creating mixed-reality technology, but right now the quality of its virtual visions exceeds all others.

Because of this lead, money is pouring into this Florida office park. Google was one of the first to invest. Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, and others followed. In the past year, executives from most major media and tech companies have made the pilgrimage to Magic Leap’s office park to experience for themselves its futuristic synthetic reality. At the beginning of this year, the company completed what may be the largest C-round of financing in history: $793.5 million. (Alibaba). To date, investors have funneled $1.4 billion into it.

That astounding sum is especially noteworthy because Magic Leap has not released a beta version of its product, not even to developers. Aside from potential investors and advisers, few people have been allowed to see the gear in action, and the combination of funding and mystery has fueled rampant curiosity. But to really understand what’s happening at Magic Leap, you need to also understand the tidal wave surging through the entire tech industry. All the major players—Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Sony, Samsung—have whole groups dedicated to artificial reality, and they’re hiring more engineers daily. Facebook alone has over 400 people working on VR. Then there are some 230 other companies, such as Meta, the Void, Atheer, Lytro, and 8i, working furiously on hardware and content for this new platform. To fully appreciate Magic Leap’s gravitational pull, you really must see this emerging industry—every virtual-reality and mixed-reality headset, every VR camera technique, all the novel VR applications, beta-version VR games, every prototype VR social world.

Then you will understand just how fundamental virtual reality technology will be, and why businesses like Magic Leap have an opportunity to become some of the largest companies ever created.’

 – Source: www.wired.com –  read the full article.

To have a sneak peek of what they have thus far revealed their product can do, watch what happens on their home page. That whale in the gymnasium is astounding! Click on the image below.

maxresdefault.jpgImage: www.magicleap.com

At the heart of Magic Leaps’ technology is a photonics chip, which is a 3 dimensional wafer-like component contains small particles that manage the flow of photons that ultimately create a digital light-field signal.  And it also sounds as if Magic Leap’s technology will make any other screen device obsolete – such as your computer, TV, laptop and phone. That’s about all that they are willing to divulge!

Here’s a great overview video by www.wired.com with additional information to explain a little bit more about what Magic Leap is.

And 4 days ago, at a grand opening attended by local tech and political leaders, it came to light that they have secretly been building a 40 person strong VR team in Austin for the past two years.

Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 10.58.08 PM.pngImage: austininno.streetwise.co

To read more about the Austin opening and their latest news, click here.

Well, all I can say is that I am sitting on the edge of my seat, wishing with all of my heart to one day have such holographic technology strapped onto my face.

Rock Your Life.  Rock Your Business.  Rock Your Future.

– Written by Yolanda Brand for Rock Your Life.

Hot Technology -Vitrima’s 3D GoPro Camera Lens

Taking Video Recording to the Next Level

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Excerpted from:  Vitrima and their campaign on IndieGogo. Images: Vitrima

Vitrima‘s latest technology hit has been launched. It is the first GoPro Camera Lens that records in 3D. And it is cheap.

Imagine reliving and sharing your first extreme sport experience, your Camino de Santiago pilgrimage adventure or the beautiful locations that you have travelled to on a holiday – in 3D.

When you record in 3D, you aren’t just recording a video, you are recording the feel of the experience. You can show others exactly what it felt like to do that great cooking course in Thailand or when you stood in front of the Victoria Falls.

Or when you did your first shark cage dive.

You need a  VR / 3D headset to watch your video experience.   Vitrima sells those too.

So: How does the lens work?

Simple answer: Optical science / mirror magic and clever brain tricks.

You see depth because you have two eyes*. Vitrima uses mirrors to create two different images for your left and right eyes. When you watch the video through a VR headset your brain puts the two images together into a 3D experience. Thanks brain!

*Don’t believe this? Try catching a baseball with one eye closed.

Cool Stuff about the Vitrima 3D GoPro Camera Lens:

  • It’s Waterproof.
  • Ready to mount onto anything. Attach it to your surfboard or take it kitesurfing.
  • It comes attached to a standard GoPro® Camera housing. Connect it to any of your mounts.
  • Your videos are ready to watch in 3D instantly. You can even live stream in 3D!
  • Conveniently portable.

How to do it:

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Currently the Vitrima 3D Lens works with their Hero 4 and Hero 3 GoPro Camera.  More versions could come out in the future.

How to Watch Videos

You’ve got options. The best way is to watch the videos on your phone through a 3D headset. Vitrima has a video that explains how this works. You can also upload you videos on to YouTube and check the 3D option. Then YouTube automatically will make your videos into the red/blue 3D.

Here’s How To Watch 3D Without A VR Headset

There is a trick you can do to watch 3D videos without any fancy gear. All you need is an open mind and a bit of patience.

Dubbed “The Cross-Eyed Trick”, this simple technique will not require any equipment and will let you see Vitrima videos in 3D.

Let’s give it a try — first with a simple 3D image.

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  • Look straight at the picture. Make sure your head isn’t tilted.
  • Cross your eyes and look “through” the picture until a 3rd dot pops up between the other two.
  • Keep focusing on the middle dot until you see it in 3D.

The third dot is the left and right one merged together to create the 3D effect.

Now, let’ try a real picture.  Follow the same steps and try to see it in 3D.

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  • Look at the picture.
  • Make sure the image is in the centre of your vision.
  • Now, cross your eyes. Look “through” the picture until a 3rd image pops up on the screen in between the two existing ones.
  • This center image is the left and right one merged together to create the 3D effect.
  • Keep focusing on the middle image until you see it in 3D.

Did you manage to see it? 

Helpful tips for viewing 3D this way

  • Be patient. Mastering this method might take a while. But once you get it, you will be able to focus and see 3D in a matter of seconds.
  • Smaller images are easier to see and won’t strain your eyes as much. Start with simple pictures and move on to more complex ones. Take breaks.
  • Make sure you are in a place with good lighting, yet there is no glare on your screen
  • This method is suitable for most people. However, if you have impaired vision, the 3D effect may not be as prominent.

That was fun to try, right?:-)

Vitrima is currently running a fund-raising campaign on IndieGogo, their campaign is here. They have very cool special deals running, including their latest update offering of their 3D Lightweight Lens.

Worthwhile to check it out and there are also cool videos to watch.

The Vitrima 3D camera lens promises a whole bunch of fun in recording and watching 3D experiences, without having to pay an arm or a leg’s worth of hard-earned cash for the privilege.

Let us know if you saw the 3D image without using a headset!

Researched by: Yolanda Brand

 

 

Sustainability: Shazar Robinson

One of the reasons why Rock Your Life does what it does is to assist people to reach more of their full potential than they would have and to make the world a better place.

If we all just did a little more we would help keep the world safe, clean and those less fortunate better resourced and able to cope.

Rock Your Life have sponsored the Happy Family Orphanage in Siem Reap since 2008, plus we have trained teachers in India, planted trees in Asia and promoted many different causes. Now we want to step it up a notch.

We are now going to encourage and track our Rock Your Life Circle of Excellence members and the impact that they have. We know that many of them do so much and we want to recognise that. So this is the start of interviewing them to hearing their stories to help spread their message and the great work that they do to the world.

All entrepreneurs create a legacy yet for many it is a negative legacy.

Rock Your Life are stepping up and assisting people to leave an incredible legacy.

Our sustainability showcasing journey starts with Shazar Robinson.

shazar

Shazar is a spiritual activist, health facilitator, a writer and transformational educator. And passionate in her quest to be of service to the earth.

She is also part of the reason why many people in many villages in India have water, can stay on their farms and have crops that grow to feed their families.

So here follows a bit of her story.

How did you get involved with doing what you do?

I was on a cruise with Rock Your Life, with Mike and Dave, and was looking for a change of direction, it was time to shift. I was waiting for someone to come to me and say: ‘Why don’t you come and help us? Join our team – our Cause needs you…’ I was waiting for an invitation.

On this cruise I got thrown  deeply in connection with the Indian people who was on the tour. I sat at their table and there was a lot of synchronicity between us and I suddenly realised that it had nothing to do with someone inviting me to help them, it was up to me to step up and say: ‘I want to do that.’

One of the Indian ladies had photographs of the kids that she was working at their shelter with, that she was fund-raising for and I realised that’s where I want to go. I spoke to Maya Shahani who was also on the tour and she invited meet come to India. So I went to India and were involved in that children shelter organization for about 6 years.

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What are you doing at the moment?

During this time, I started asking why there were so many kids on the street in India, looking for what the underlying problem was. We were working with kids who have been rescued from the railway platforms, rubbish dumps and street corners –aged 3 to 15. The problem came from the rural farming areas, where there was not enough water, so the farmers came to look for work in the cities. I started investigating water and from that I am now involved working with Sikandar Meeranayak, doing bore well recharging and rainwater harvesting for individual farmers.

What is your mission with what you do?

Working on sustainability, particularly related to water.

Something else also led me to what I am doing now.  I also went on a Soul Journey to Peru with Mike and Dave. I thought I went on the journey for myself. At the very last ceremony that we did at a ancient temple, Dave did a very powerful circle meditation with us, I found myself lying on the ground on my face, with the sense that I hadn’t come for myself, I had come for Mother Earth. From that time on I understood that I am in service to Mother Earth, nothing else, that’s my purpose.

Tell me about a time when you were challenged to stay committed to a project.

The shelter and my work there was a challenge from the beginning.  I just hung in there and at a certain point understood that I had to move on.

The challenge was between me and the man who ran the shelter, who is a creator extraordinaire, who started one project after the other, so passionate about what he is doing that he loses his team and I could not handle the  dissipation of energy forward from project to project without any completion. Incredibly painful experience though, because I was in love with one hundred and thirty kids! There are always challenges though, from a language and cultural perspective and people do not always communicate transparently. It’s about different ways of being.

What is your greatest success story?

The NGO that I’m working with now, The Sankalpa Rural Development Society entered a challenge by Water.org, Matt Damon’s charity organization, where they had $20.000.00 up for grabs.  It was all about communicating and connecting and as Sikandar Meeranayak, who I am working with, does not speak English very well, I offered to submit all the information, made a video and connected with many people in the process.

We didn’t win it, but in the process of connecting, I make contact with a guy in the States who has a NGO called Save the Indian Farmers.  He is very passionate about and works in the Maharashtra area where they have huge amounts of suicide due to the societal repercussions of water shortage. This is an area close to my heart and I have personally  previously fund-raised and built a check dam there.

By the way, this dam was funded largely via crowdfunding by Rock Your Business Malaysia with Mike and Dave donating and a lot of people in Malaysia also donated to the project.

shazar dam

The check dam that Shazar and her team built

The Team, and the check dam celebration 

So the man in the States got very interested in the work we are doing here and now we have a collaboration with him where he has funded us for ten bore well recharges. And when we have done the ten and he is happy with our work, he is funding us for 500!  He is finding the individual farmers and doing the funding.  So I feel delighted about the effort that I have put in to the challenge with Water.org, as the result was all of this funding. It is not just my work, if it was not for all the work that Sikandar Meeranayak has done and all the pre-work and the workers, there would not have been anything to present this man, but having presented it to him, we now have all this funding. Sikandar themselves also got funding for 225 bore well recharges more, so this year we have to do a total of 700 bore well recharges in the next dry season. One bore well takes about 3- 4 days, it’s all about the team and training them.  Now it is time for logistics!

Bore well recharging

What is your best advice to others about raising funds for sustainability projects?

Tell good stories, personal stories, that’s what people want to hear.  They want to hear about people’s individual lives.  Of course accountability too, but also fast response; don’t make people wait for 3 days before you get back to them. BE there and be absolutely transparent. And follow up. If someone gives you money and they don’t hear from you for three months, that’s not good. So in summary: story telling, transparency and relationship building, these are the most important aspects of fund raising.

What would you like to inspire people to do when they read about your work here?

I would like to inspire others to really seek the biggest WHY they can – beyond their own desire for creating wealth or fame or power. Because once you reach outside of your self to a why which is giving back – life simply changes and becomes a journey that is more fulfilling than ever imagined – not that it is easy – but when you uncover this path everything else becomes less important. When we are on track and embedded firmly into our WHY everything that is needed for the journey is available.

Dear Reader:

Do you want to go on an Eco-Sustainability Journey that’s completely off the beaten track?  Do you want to learn about water harvesting and meet someone like India’s Waterman Rajendra Singh who has regenerated 7 rivers in one area?

Come get an experience like you would not get elsewhere – Shazar puts the money made from the trip straight back into water harvesting in India.

Read more about Shazar’s event next year, here:

Eco-Sustainability Journeys  – Solutions That Work on The Adventure of a Lifetime

To get in contact with Shazar, to learn more or to contribute towards her work:

Email:
info@waterharvestfoundation.org

shazar@srdsindia.org

Websites to see more:

srdsindia.org

waterharvestfoundation.org

Facebook links:

https://www.facebook.com/SankalpaRuralDevelopmentSociety

https://www.facebook.com/waterharvestfoundation

 

Website Development Service: 

One of the ways that Shazar make some extra cash to support this work she does is by creating websites and Facebook business pages for people.

All of of her websites and the srdsindia.org and the shikshangram.com sites have been made by her,  including most of the content and the photography and sometimes video content  and editing also.

Interviewed by Yolanda Brand.

 

3 Minute Elevator pitch funds IDEA

Corporate Governance: the three-minute chance to fund your idea

Innovation needs investment funds. Entrepreneurs need investment funds. Entrepreneurs inside corporations, sometimes called intrepreneurs need investment funds. The process of research, development, product design and finally commericialisation is the end-to-end innovation process. The costs are incurred before the sales revenue is earned. Entrepreneurial spirit is required in all businesses. P.F Drucker thought that innovation and selling where the two critical management processes and capability for survival and growth. So how does an entrepreneur get the investment funds?

The venture capital (VC) approach is the easiest to describe and the principles apply everywhere. A VC wants a single page summary followed by a 5-page business and financial plan. If after they screen this plan they are still interested they will ask for the management team to present themselves and explain the: business model and franchise; management team and track record; and investment opportunity. This presentation needs only the last three minutes as they are assessing the calibre of the management team and understanding the investment opportunity. VCs are usually polite and let the entrepreneurs have 30 minutes and waffle. If the VC is convinced on the calibre of the team, then they may discuss the investment opportunity. VCs contrary to popular belief is in reality an administrative screening process of thousands of candidates ideas to find a few good ideas that have investment merit. The Entrepreneur needs to help the VC get through the process. Get the single page submission correct first time and know what and how to present the key points in three minutes.

In the corporate world the investment approach is similar it is just not such a transparent and simple end-to-end process. Many well-run corporations have a step-by-step investment process. First a good idea is approved by the department head.  Then it is submitted into the investment process, which is often led by the finance group. Different levels and depth of submission are needed at the feasibility stage, production planning stage and the final commercialisation stage by the sales force. Often there is a investment process committee chaired by the finance group, with representatives from corporate strategy to review and approve strategic fit, sales to review and approve fit with customer base; production to review and fit with production capability and so on. However even in a large corporate, a chance meeting with the CEO in the lift, gives the chance to tell the story and jump several steps in the investment process.

Any entrepreneur seeking a discussion with a business investor must describe in less than three minutes, one minute for a journey in a lift, the following: What do you want? What will you offer in return? What is your business model? Why do you have a great franchise? What is your management team track record? When do I get my investment return? Again for simplicity lets demonstrate this by considering getting attention and investment funds from a venture capital or business angel investor.

Entrepreneurs always think they have a great business idea and are baffled why they cannot convince others, apart from family and friends whom are duty bound, to investment in their company. Even more difficult is to get a discussion with a venture capitalist and the mythical business angel. Entrepreneurs need to understand the investor’s viewpoint and get a powerful first conversation.

Venture Capitalists have preferences for types of deal, company size, industry and investment approach. VCs invests a pool of private equity funds. They also often syndicate investments with other VCs to share the risk by taking smaller bites.

A business angel is investing their own private money, sometimes on behalf of a small private partnership or syndicate,in areas they can understand and are interested in.

The first step is to find the investor. The second step is to ask yourself if your idea fits their investment profile and selection criteria. If not move directly to the next, otherwise your time wasting reputation will move ahead of you. VCs follow a standard process starting with the one page initial application format. Get it and follow it. Business Angels tend to be more individualistic.

The best way to get an investor interested is to get referred by a friend whom has a professional connection to them. In California, this traditionally approach centered on a couple of coffee shops in San Jose and Stanford Village California. Often over early morning breakfast after jogging. This is California VC guanxi. Asia entrepreneurs will not have the guanxi so the office front door is the next best option. For an entrepreneur seeking a discussion with an investor be prepared to describe in less three minutes the following areas.

What do you want?

Be clear about how much money and when you want it. Be specific on any other business capabilities like alliance partners and distributors you want. Say if you want hands on involvement by the investor and even help in filling management team gaps.

What will you offer in return?

Be specific in what you will be offering in return such as interest, equity stake, share of franchise fee, consulting fee and royalty.

What is your business?

Describe what your business is about from your perspective. Then describe the business from the customers’ perspective of features, benefits and value adding. Specify how your product serves the customer’s need in terms of: a solution, solution options, and getting into action.

Why do you have a great business model and franchise?

Describe why you have a great business franchise, which means you will be better positioned than current competitors and new entrants. Describe your competitors and their products and their likely reaction to your product.

What is your management team capability and track record?

What is the capability and track record of the entrepreneur and the members of the management team? What gaps are there and how and when will you fill the gaps?

That’s all there is to the pitch.  The investor will be judging the calibre of the team first and the opportunity second. Always be convincing, committed, expectant and passionate.

Remember, the investor does not invest in business plans, ideas or technology they invest in people. Investors, in the west favour entrepreneurs whom have a track record of starting business, even if the businesses failed. In Asia, failure is often seen as losing face. This is a poor perspective to hold as a VC as untried entrepreneurs increases the risk profile of the investment over tired and failed entrepreneurs.  The profile of a good entepreneur is being committed, passionate, flexible, innovative, balancing risks, visionary and having multiple back up plans. The investor will first assess if the entrepreneur and the management teams values in the above and then functional and customer know-how in terms of innovation, financial control, marketing and sales. Do not be surprised if a condition of investment is to strengthen the management team, which will mean sacking a founding buddy sooner or later.

The investor needs to know the investment return, the downside and upside investment risks, and the exit approach. He will be assessing if the business can be sold to a trade investor or listed on a public security exchange. Investors tend not to lend money that is the province of banks, rather provide equity, which they later sell for a capital gain. Often the starting point is a mixture of equity plus debt with the debt later converted into equity or just repaid at the investor’s discretion or subject to pre-determined conditions. So do not be naïve and ask to borrow money and return it with a good interest rate, or ask for equity and suggest you will buy the equity back from your share of the profits. If you do not understand why this is naïve do not even attempt to raise investment funds.

The investor will also be looking to see if the entrepreneur is wedded to the business model. Passion and commitment is wanted but not ownership. After all the investor wants to sell the business to a new owner either a trade investor or the public via a listing. Many new listings of companies have the founder and majority owner stay on for too long and the listed company fails after a few years. The new owners will choose the Board of Directors and streamline the old management team and the founding members. Many great investment deals never get started because the founding entrepreneur and family members are fixated on owning the business. This approach largely precludes venture capitalists and business angels from getting involved. A true entrepreneur is motivated by starting and growing a business, and recognises that they will exit themselves when the business has out grown them. Professor Henry Mintzberg a expert in business organizations and strategy suggests there are six organization states, the first being direct supervision, which is suitable for small business, family run or entrepreneurial. To grow into a large organization different organization states and capabilities, processes, and structures are required. Simply, entrepreneurs have skills, capabilities and passion for creating a business and not for managing a large business.

Good hunting

Paul A Zaman is the CEO of Qualvin Advisory, would you like to know how to create sustainable wealth and become a good corporate citizens  email: pzaman@qualvin.com or visitwww.qualvin.com.

Mixing Debt and Equity in your Business

Paul A. Zaman shares insights on the importance of a company choosing the right capital structure to enhance shareholder value … the alchemy of debt and equity

One of the key ways for a company, small or big to improve long term shareholder value is by having the appropriate mix of debt and equity and making good investment choices. Even a seasoned executive director often misunderstands this aspect. Lets first explore the history of equity and debt.

The Dutch started joint stock companies, which let shareholders invest in business ventures and get a share of their profits. In 1602, the Dutch East India Company issued the first shares on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. It was the first company to issue stocks and bonds. This was a massive investment aimed at building the biggest merchant fleet to break the monopoly the Portuguese held. At its peak the company paid a dividend of 40% and had 50,000 employees worldwide, trading from Europe, Peru, China, Japan and Batavia. In 1798, after 196 years it failed financially due to funding its army and fighting wars with other countries to protect its business franchise.   Other stock exchanges were set up after the Amsterdam exchange such as London in 1697, New York 1817, Bendigo in Australia 1860 and Bombay in India 1875, which is the oldest in Asia.

The history of debt, that is money lending goes back to Biblical times. The ascent of Christianity in Rome meant that interest was usury and so immoral. This created the opportunity for others to fill the space and become moneylenders. Ironically centuries later it was Pope John XII whom created the Italian–French banking system. There was a hierarchical order among banking professionals; those who did business with heads of state to fund palaces and wars, the city exchanges for business trade, and at the bottom were the pawnshops or “ Lombards”. Most European cities today have a Lombard street where the pawnshop was located. As merchant shipping grew in importance money lending was closely linked to the major trading ports of London, Amsterdam and Hamburg.  It was in coffee shops that the investment opportunities and loans were discussed and traded, such as Jonathon’s Coffee House and Edward Lloyd’s in London In 1698. John Castiang began publishing a twice-weekly newsletter of share and commodity prices, which he sold at Jonathan’s, and which led to the formation of the London Stock Exchange. Lloyd’s shipping list led to the establishment of the famous insurance company Lloyds of London.

Most of us have experienced a bank loan or mortgage. The lender provides cash, called the principle and receives an agreed interest return and an agreed date when the principal will be repaid in full. There is no upside on the return to the lender if the borrower uses the funds and makes good profits. However if the borrower does badly then the lender risks the return of the principle. A lender is risk averse and usually secures the loan against a tangible asset, like land and property so they only loose the principle principal loan amount if the asset turns out to be inferior and not worth as much as initially expected. Usually lenders get a majority of their investment money returned

A share investor invests by buying a company’s shares and so the company receives cash. A company in law is set-up to be eternal with an ongoing sustainable business. The investor does not therefore expect to get their investment returned unless the company decides to change its business or close down. The investor does expect to get a share of the profits each year as a dividend.  Investors can also sell their shares to other individuals at a gain or a loss. Selling at a higher price means that the new buyer expects to see further increased long-term shareholder value that is increasing dividends. The down side risk, is that if the company does badly it makes losses and all the investment may be lost. In a closedown situation the tax office, lenders, employees, and suppliers get paid first and if there were any money left over this would be distributed to the shareholders. Usually shareholders loose all their invested money.

Shareholders are owners and have a long-term commitment and wish to see the company do well.  Lenders wish to protect the money lent and monitor for the risk of default.

Shareholders have upside potential from ever increasing dividends and so also the ability to sell the shares at a higher price. Lenders have no upside potential.

Shareholders can lose all and often do. Lenders usually can recover their principle funds by grabbing and selling a tradable asset such as property.

Therefore due to the different risk-reward profiles, the cost to the company in terms of paying ongoing dividends to an investor is higher than the cost of paying the interest on debt and repaying the principle.

Lenders will assess the credit rating by the ability to pay the interest each period without defaulting on these payments. The minimum comfort level if to have enough cash income is to cover the payment of the interest three times over. Another factor is the quality and sustainability of the cash income. If the source of the income varies widely from period to period, there is more chance that in a low-income period the business or person may default. So a Company and a person with steady income can get better credit ratings then those with volatile and uncertain income.  How does a lender deal with this aspect? Simply they increase the interest rate payable so that on average across a portfolio of similar credit risk some default others pay. On average the portfolio of loans delivers the yield the lender wants.

Throughout the history of stock trading, the focus has been on dividend payments. It has only been in recent years a prolonged focus upon trading for capital gains. There have been some speculative periods, where investors focussed just on capital gains from shares that had the promise of delivering great wealth in the future. Such as the Compagnie du Mississippi and the South Sea Company, both merchant-shipping lines which traded on multiples of around 100 Price/sales and over a year the investment gain was ten fold. The crash of these companies triggered London, Paris and Amsterdam market collapses in September 1720.  More recently the stock market crash of October 24th 1929, known as Black Thursday was when the Dow Jones Industrial average dropped 50%.  It also was a global stock market effect. The succeeding-years saw the Dow Jones drop-a-total of over 85%. This event preceded the great depression.

Bringing this together with some everyday examples. Debt costs less than equity so depending upon the quality of income and level of income, the most wealth is created by having the right mix of debt and equity.  If you invest in property, a high quality house in a high quality area will yield stable rent and stable capital appreciation – you can afford and will be able to get higher gearing that is more debt. A low quality house in a low quality area is likely to have a volatile rent profile and large cyclic changes in its capital value – you may be unable to get much debt unless there is additional external income guarantees. For instance retail banks in Melbourne, Australia in the last few years changed their mortgage policy from lending 80% to only 60% of City centre property valuation to protect themselves from downside asset revaluation. For instance, traditionally the listed public utility companies such as telephone, electricity, water and gas generated steady income and offered steady high dividends and modest capital growth. Whereas a high technology company paid no dividend and instead offered the promise of fast increasing growth giving income in the future and future dividends. The privatisation and deregulation of the telecommunication sector meant that new players using new technology competed against utility telecommunication companies. The sector became overnight “high technology” which resulted in disastrous decisions. Many of these companies core business are once more behaving like utilities.

Returning to the executive director, one indicator of the long term health and wealth of a company can be seen by simply looking at the financial statement in the annual report of a company and seeing the trend in the return on equity and the return on assets. If it is around 9% or under and with a falling trend then the historic investment decisions made by the Board of Directors have and are continuing to destroy shareholder value. If the level is around 15% and increasing then the Board of Directors have made fantastic decisions, which create value.  These figures need to be adjusted to reflect of the company is more like a utility with stable business or a high technology growth company. A company’s share price will ebb and flow based upon market sentiment.  At some time the collective equity market intelligence will understand the performance of the Board of Directors, via their historic choices of the debt & equity mix and their choices of investment opportunities. The equity market will then reward or punish the share price. Good quality companies with good governance and proven business models often deliver the best long-term investment performance.

Check out more on services and training from Paul at http://www.qualvin.com

THE 5 ELEMENTS TO CREATING A POSITIVE COMPANY CULTURE

Provided by http://www.resultsgroup.biz and Simon Mundell.

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Attitude is key. A positive company culture is a critical part of creating a successful organisation, improving employee engagement and basically keeping your employees retained for longer.

A lack of engaged employees is the top issue facing 87% business leaders today, according to a recent study from Deloitte.1

The situation worldwide seems pretty dire; according to Gallup’s 2013 State of the Global Workplace survey, just 13% of employees worldwide say they are engaged at work. This means only about one in eight workers (roughly 180 million employees in the 142 countries studied) are engaged in their jobs.

The numbers are staggering – so how do Kiwis measure up? Thankfully, New Zealand came up second in terms of highest engaged number of workers at 24%.

HERE ARE 5 THINGS YOU SHOULD BE DOING TO IMPROVE YOUR COMPANY CULTURE:

1. FOCUS ON THE IMPORTANT, NOT THE URGENT

A way to increase efficiencies but thereby team engagement is to focus on the right things to work on. Focusing on the important things well is far more effective than being caught in the constant urgency of fighting fires, solving problems and business as usual activities.

If you have a framework for setting strategy, reviewing strategy, and conducting meetings to drive execution, as well as one on one meetings to develop people, you’ll be building scalable and profitable businesses, with happy employees that know what’s expected of them.

2. CREATE YOUR COMPANY VISION AND LIVE BY IT

Decide what the vision of your company is, share it with your team and encourage everyone to live by it too. Your vision should embody your values and your culture, how you deliver excellence and what your mission for the company is. They can look however you want, but should be something inspirational, that is true for your company. Some examples are below:

  • The team comes first – focus on building relationships first, as they will be the building blocks for your culture and makes productivity so much easier
  • Focus on the right things – make sure everyone knows what is important and what must be achieved
  • Strategise efficiently – plan well and set meaningful objectives
  • Strive for excellence – be completely intolerant of mediocrity

3. ENCOURAGE A CREATIVE WORKPLACE

Having a creative, postive company culture means that new ideas can flourish and you can find solutions to tricky issues quicker and more efficiently. This encourages innovation as new ideas flow easily, by you creating time and space for creativity. Allow flexibility in terms of time and location of work.

Encourage free thinking by making sure everyone knows their opinions are appreciated and validated. It’s okay to disagree and, in fact, it’s what companies need to progress and make sure all different perspectives are taken into account. Even having big white boards for people to draw mind maps and brainstorm ideas around is a fun way to encourage a creative space.

4. RECRUIT YOUR PEOPLE TO FIT YOUR CULTURE – NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND

The recruitment process is a critical part of how you ensure a positive company culture. Watching out for not only a candidate’s skills to do the job but also their emotional skills and capacity to care about the job and the people around them, is essential. You can teach people technical skills, but you can’t teach them to care.

A way to assess this whilst recruiting is to ask your applicants questions about what motivates them and drives them, what they’re inspired by and what type of companies they have worked well with in the past vs. not well with. This will allow you to see trends and pick up patterns in their responses.

5. TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR VISION AND CULTURE

As a business leader, you inadvertently set the tone for the culture. In order for the culture to be what you want it to be, you need to actively take charge of it. The danger is that if you don’t, employees will formulate their own norms, values and beliefs, which may be the opposite of what you are striving towards, and this can have disastrous consequences. When you as a leader embody the cultural values you champion, employees will follow suit.

A way of doing this is to articulate your purpose and vision for the business. The first step is knowing your corporate identity and building a language to communicate it to your team. Once everyone understands who you are as a business and what your purpose is, make your work environment align with your values.

And finally … encourage extracurricular activities for team members to forge close-knit relationships and build high levels of mutual trust and friendship.

1. Global Human Capital Trends 2015: Leading in the New World of Work, Deloitte

The Basics of Body Language

Reproduced from Todd Hutchison’s E-Book ‘The Basics of Body Language’ available at: http://www.peopleistic.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/ToddHutchison_eBook_TheBasicsOfBodyLanguage.pdf

In 1971, Albert Mehrabian’s research concluded that there were three elements in any face-to-face communication: words, tone of voice and body language. He found that our liking for a person who puts the message across is weighted as:

  • 7% for the words we use (verbal);
  • 38% for the tone of voice we use (vocal); and
  • 55% for the body language we convey (visual).

    This means that our body language is the dominant factor that impacts on our ability to be liked, and therefore offers a great opportunity to build rapport in a short amount of time by focusing on the posture of your own body and that of the person you are building rapport with.

We now know that similar body language is a signal that the people engaged are in rapport with one another. We also know that body language attributes up to fifty five percent of the likeability between people. At such a high percentage, this means that if you influence the body language factors you may also be having a significant influence on the other person’s view of you.

This means that you can consciously adjust your body language to encourage rapport that becomes especially important when approaching an angry, aggressive or frustrated person that you are trying to deal with. It also is extremely important when mediating between two parties whose relationship has broken down, as your body language will influence their relationship. When you are not consciously focused on body language to deal with special circumstances, you will notice that the following techniques are often applied without any conscious awareness on your part, and that you tend to copy one another when in rapport automatically.

Influencing rapport is allowing you to create the best foundation for a positive conversation. It is about utilising the factors that influence the relationship so that the highest possible ability to engage with people is maintained. Saying that, it is used by professionals like negotiators and salespeople to speed the process of building rapport and the necessity to enable a positive relationship in the shortest possible amount of time.

To be in rapport with someone at a body language level, you can simply either match or mirror their body language.