Editor's Note: Talk Business begins a new feature on our blogs called “The Weekend Digest,” a compilation of interesting feature stories, analyses and recommended reading from a variety of outside Arkansas sources for our business and political readers. The intent is to provide readers with a wide-ranging look at events happening in other states, developing trends and some leisurely reading on the weekends when the news tends to be a little slower. Your feedback is welcome — just drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FORBES: JUSTIN BIEBER, VENTURE CAPITALIST
Don't scoff. This Forbes cover story offers interesting insight into how teen pop sensation Justin Bieber and his manager, Scooter Braun, have leveraged Bieber's fame and wealth into a wide array of tech investments all while staying true to an audience base and a social agenda.
Bieber has a finger in the pie of several social media start-ups like Tinychat, Stamped, Spotify and gaming outfit Sojo Studios.
Braun first came up with the idea of getting Bieber to invest in startups three years ago. Just as Diddy partnered with Ciroc and Jay-Z launched a Reebok sneaker line, it made sense for Bieber to directly benefit from something he could promote to his core audience. But teenagers aren’t allowed to buy vodka, and they generally don’t have the disposable income necessary to buy $150 shoes. What they do consume in nearly unlimited quantities, however, is social media.
“I said, ‘This is a space where you can move the needle and you can actually be a part of something that’s more than just your money working,’” Braun recalls. “‘You worked hard to get to this point, and these [startups] are benefiting over what you’re doing. … You should be a part of that process.’” Adds Bieber: “Social media helped launch my career. Without the Internet and without YouTube, I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to put my music out there and have people hear it.”
It's an interesting business read regardless of your taste in music.
UNDERSTANDING THE 'FISCAL CLIFF'
The Wall Street Journal compiles an easy-to-read primer for understanding the current budget debate in Washington, D.C. When you hear business leaders, economists and politicians discussing the “fiscal cliff” facing America, they're talking about the combination of expiring tax cuts and spending cuts where no consensus seems to exist.
How worried is the Fed?
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has warned lawmakers about the potential effect of the “fiscal cliff,” adding that “there is absolutely no chance that the Federal Reserve would be able to have the ability whatsoever to offset that effect on the economy.” The Fed, in the minutes of its April meeting released Wednesday, said that if lawmakers don’t reach agreement on a plan for the federal budget, “a sharp fiscal tightening could occur at the start of 2013.” That uncertainty “could lead businesses to defer hiring and investment” and weigh on economic sentiment, officials worried at the meeting. Agreement on a long-term plan could alleviate some of that uncertainty.
You can read more here.
THE NEW JOB INTERVIEW
Michael Schrage, a researcher at MIT, offers a contribution on the Harvard Business Review blog regarding a new trend in the hiring process.
He contends that project work is an emerging method for making good hires. In short, employers skip the resume reading, applicant interviews and reference checks and bring in candidates to complete real-world projects with a team of present employees. It resembles a low-paid internship on steroids.
Call them “projeclications” or “applijects.” World-class talent will engage in bespoke real-world projects testing their abilities to deliver real value on their own and with others. Forget the “What's Your Greatest Weakness?” interrogatory genre; the real question will be how well candidates can rise to the “appliject” challenge and help redesign a social media campaign, document a tricky bit of software, edit a Keynote presentation, produce a webinar or peer review a CAD layout for a contract Chinese manufacturer.
Exploitive? Perhaps. But most organizations have learned the hard way that no amount of interviewing, reference checking and/or psychological testing is a substitute for actually working with a candidate on a real project.
THE STUDENT DEBT DIET
Fortune magazine looks at Harvard MBA graduate Joe Mihalic's “radical quest” to erase his student loan debts. After calculating the interest he was scheduled to pay for his loans and re-assessing his post-grad school lifestyle, Mihalic went on an austerity diet.
In 7 months, he wiped away over $90,000 worth of student debt. The process wasn't easy and Mihalic did some fairly unconventional tasks to reach his goal. He even chronicled his journey through a blog. How did it feel to pay off his debt in full?
“I felt good,” he recalls. “I knew that the reward would be worth it. I got misty-eyed looking at the progress I made and all the work that went into it. My heart was beating so hard and I was still in shock that I had done it. On that day I made that payment, I had nothing. But every day I go to work now I'm actually increasing my wealth instead of reducing my debt.”
FIVE LESSONS (MAYBE FOUR) YOU COULD LEARN FROM LED ZEPPELIN
Peter Grant, the late manager for legendary rock band Led Zeppelin, is the focal point of a new management course being offered by the Bristol Institute of Modern Music.
Grant was famous for his unconventional management style that many say transformed the music industry and Zeppelin's pocketbooks. Grant pushed hard for music purity and unique marketing and often went against the grain of the music industry.
Bloomberg Businessweek offers a colorful glimpse of Grant's management style and its applications to today's business world in this article.
SAVING THE SILVERTON STANDARD
The Poynter Institute describes how a tiny weekly newspaper in Silverton, Colorado (population 637) saved itself. It partnered with the county historical society.
“History and news are really the same thing,” Standard editor/reporter/circulation manager Mark Esper said. “It’s just a matter of what time it is.”
What led to this unique partnership? Read on to find out.
HOW TO CARVE OUT TIME TO MAKE MORE MONEY
A Talk Business reader linked to this post from the blog, 99%, on the subject of “money work” versus “busy work.”
Whether you're in a major organization or you're a solo entrepreneur, you have to invest a portion of your time to generating revenue. Writer Chris Guillebeau, author of the book, The $100 Startup, offers tips to make more sales to new customers and existing customers through time management and creative brainstorming.
For those looking for a kick-start to generating new revenue in your job or business, give it a quick read.