Why Your Small Business Has the Motivational Edge Over Big Companies

motivational edge0Are you looking to hire employees this year, wondering how you can keep the employees you do have from heading off for greener pastures, or struggling for ways to keep them motivated?

Sometimes it seems like small businesses are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to hiring, motivation and retention, compared to big corporations that can offer higher salaries, posh benefits plans and luxurious settings. But a recent article by McKinsey (targeted, ironically, at big companies) points out the advantage small businesses have that they may not realize.

McKinsey looked at how business leaders can develop and encourage top performers in their workforce and found that, while both IQ and EQ (emotional intelligence) are important skills for bringing out the best in your team, what truly matters is the “meaning quotient” (MQ) – in other words, offering them the chance to do work that’s meaningful to them.

How can you create meaning at work?

McKinsey makes three recommendations that are far more easy and natural for a small business to implement than a big one:

Don’t Just focus on How a Person’s Work Benefits the Company

Focus on how it benefits four other elements:

  • Society as a whole.
  • The customer.
  • The work team and the individual worker.

When you drill down to the individual level, whether that’s the customer or themselves, employees become more motivated. In a smaller business, it’s easy to think in terms of smaller groups and units and to see how what you do on a daily basis affects those around you.

If Steve in fulfillment doesn’t pull his weight, Cindy in shipping suffers for it.

Let Employees Write Their Own “Lottery Ticket”

In other words, let them choose what they want to work on and how they want to improve themselves and the company.

While you can’t give employees unlimited freedom here, you can (and should) encourage them to think about what aspects of your business they want to learn more about, what new skills they want to develop, where they want to be next year and the year after – and how this can benefit your business.

Motivate Employees with Small, Unexpected Rewards

Can’t afford to give a big bonus at year-end?

The good news is maybe you don’t need to. McKinsey cites studies that show smaller, random rewards given at unexpected times can prove just as effective.

In fact, because they never come to be seen as expected, such “surprise” rewards can be even more valuable in motivating workers. A thank-you note, small gift or random afternoon off are examples of ways to motivate with the unexpected.

Of course, the bigger picture when it comes to creating meaning at work is that as a small business owner, you’re closer to your employees. You can learn what matters to each of them, and what meaning they find in their jobs – whether that’s solving customers’ problems so they leave with a smile, meeting increasingly higher sales quotas every quarter, or helping the others on their team.

Then, you can make sure each person gets more of what gives his or her work meaning.

How do you create meaning at work in your business?


Final Fantasy XV Has an Early Release Date, Ending Streamed on YouTube

Final Fantasy XV Has an Early Release Date, Ending Streamed on YouTube

Final Fantasy XV Has an Early Release Date, Ending Streamed on YouTube
Final Fantasy XV is available in regions such as South America
The game’s official release date is November 29
Its ending has been posted on YouTube
The release date of Final Fantasy XV is November 29. And like nearly every big console game we’ve seen this year, the game has found it on the shelves in a host of regions prior to that. A little more than a week prior to the day, gamers in Peru, Argentina, and the UAE are already playing it. Unconfirmed reports have suggested those in the USA have got it early as well.

(Also see: Final Fantasy XV Day One Patch Details Revealed; Suggests Game on Disc Is Incomplete)

And while the game has a reportedly long playthrough time, it seems that eager fans have already finished it. Going as far as to streaming its ending on YouTube only for publisher Square Enix to take it down.

For a game that’s been in development for close to a decade, you’d think Square Enix would take more care to prevent early leaks like this. However this doesn’t seem to be case.
ffxv street date break UAE ffxv

We won’t be surprised to see the game available early in other markets soon enough. So much so that countries like India where role-playing games (RPGs) aren’t as popular as they are in the West, should see the game available well ahead of release.

Earlier in the year, Final Fantasy XV game director Hajime Tabata suggested that the game would come to PC.
(Also see: Final Fantasy XV Release Date Delayed. Here’s Why.)

“I’m quite positive about the idea of developing a PC version, but I would like to make a very different project if possible,” Tabata told French video gaming site JeuxVideo, which was translated by Nova Crystallis. “The reason I’m interested is that a PC version would propel the game to another technical level.”

“I have in mind a version of Final Fantasy XV that is more technically developed. This version could incorporate things that we were forced to abandon because of the limitations of home consoles. With the PC, this would be an opportunity to release a version far superior in terms of quality and tech.”

(Also see: Final Fantasy XV Platinum Demo Left Us Surprised)

While PC fans of Final Fantasy will be glad to hear they haven’t been forgotten by Square Enix, Tabata said it would take a while as they aren’t interested in doing a “simple port”.

“That said, if we choose to develop this project, the development will start from scratch by doing research of what would be the best technology to use. It might not be a simple port of the console version,” he added.

Tags: FFXV, FF15, Final Fantasy 15, FFXV street date break, FF15 street date break, Ps4, Xbox One


Final Fantasy XV Day One Edition Has a Special Surprise for Fans

Final Fantasy XV Day One Edition Has a Special Surprise for Fans

Final Fantasy XV Day One Edition Has a Special Surprise for Fans
Final Fantasy XV’s release date is November 29
The game is out early in several countries including India
Its day one edition has developer autographs
With Final Fantasy XV available in more than a few countries before release date, it was only a matter of time before India saw an early release of the game as well. Gadgets 360 managed to get an early copy and we noticed that the game has something extra.

Aside from the obvious day one downloadable content (dubbed as the Masamune DLC weapon), a reversible cover, and obligatory pamphlets that yields information on customer support, Square Enix also included the signatures of the development team with a background that reads: “Thank you for your support”.

(Also see: Final Fantasy XV Day One Patch Details Revealed; Suggests Game on Disc Is Incomplete)

It’s an interesting addition. More so considering most game companies don’t usually take this approach — allowing an entire or seemingly sizeable part of the development team to be known outside of the game’s credits.
FFXV disc 221616 181640 8574 final_fantasy_XV
Nonetheless, the developer autographs are present in the Peruvian version of the game which shares the same ESRB rating as the US version. Safe to say day one US buyers will get this as well. Considering that the day one edition of Final Fantasy XV is the same across the world, Indian buyers should get it too, along with extra DLC depending where you pre-order from.

(Also see: Final Fantasy XV Has an Early Release Date, Ending Streamed on YouTube)

So far, initial impressions of Final Fantasy XV seem positive. At least in terms of technical performance, what with performance before installing the patch being a whole lot better than what it was in Episode Duscae, the Platinum Demo, and the Judgement Disc Demo on a standard PS4. Stay tuned to Gadgets 360 for detailed, spoiler-free impressions soon.

Tags: PS4, Xbox One, Final Fantasy 15, Final Fantasy XV, Final Fantasy XV Day One Edition, Final Fantasy XV Easter Egg, FF15, FFXV, Square Enix


FantasySalesTeam Has Games that Make Sales Teams Better

fantasy sales team improvement gamification0

For those looking to give your sales team a bit more incentive to try their best, one company has created an app that makes their sales statistics as simple and competitive as fantasy sports.

The app, created by FantasySalesTeam, provides a creative alternative to boring sales contests by using your team’s own competitive spirit to drive sales and inspire them to do better both as individuals and as a group.

Recently, the developer behind the game, Incent Games Inc., was recently acquired by Microsoft. This means that within the next few months, you should see more features begin to pop up, and perhaps even more games for different fields.

While most sales competitions are designed in a way that gives a boost to the employee with the highest sales, FantasySalesTeam has creates a tiered rewards system based on popular online fantasy sport games that allows team members to compete in different categories: not just highest sales.

For example, one prize may be awarded to someone for making the most sales, while another employee can get an award for having the biggest improvement.

Developers claim the app is simple to use and provides an easy and fun way to keep track of productivity, taking a page out of fantasy football leagues to visualize competitors’ stats.

Players have their own profiles that display their performance and standings. They can access their teammates’ pages and stats as well. And they can also ‘draft’ those players onto their team, encouraging teamwork as well as friendly competition.

Even the interface for creating your sales game is designed to look like a game, with a bright rainbow path laid out with steps designed to help you create custom games in which your employees can compete.

Rather than having your team working against each other constantly in order to get one prize, the fantasy football inspired application allows them to work as a team while still being awarded for their individual performances. The interface designed to let you define your metrics in order to increase performance, drive and sales.

Using this application brings the ‘white board’ sales competition into the new era, putting information directly into the competitors’ hands. But does it work?

Reviews say yes. Some customers using the app showed staggering results. One team even saw an increase in sales of 176 percent.

Of course, you’ll have to try the app yourself to see if it’s the right fit for your team.

Image: Fantasy Sales Team


MacBook Pro With Touch Bar Has Non-Upgradeable SSD Chips, Users Report

MacBook Pro With Touch Bar Has Non-Upgradeable SSD Chips, Users Report

MacBook Pro With Touch Bar Has Non-Upgradeable SSD Chips, Users Report
MacBook Pro With Touch Bar has non-removable SSDs
This means users cannot upgrade their flash memory
Also, if the logic board fails, all data will be lost
The base MacBook Pro variant teardown has been done extensively, and all reports bear good news – the SSD is removable and replaceable. This is important because in the future, if users want to upgrade their SSD, they can do so. However, the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar doesn’t follow the same pattern. Apparently, some owners have found that the SSD chips in the Touch Bar variant are soldered to the logic board.

MacRumors readers have discovered that ‘memory chips and controller are soldered, seemingly on both sides of the motherboard’. This is problematic, as users do not have the option to upgrade their storage if they so desire. To put it simply, the amount of storage you choose at the time of purchase, cannot be upgraded later on, and you will be stuck with that much flash storage for the rest of the product’s life.

This soldering of SSD chips is seen for the first time on the MacBook Pro lineup. It is important to reiterate that the new MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar has removable SSDs, as per official teardown reports. The only other laptop from Apple to have the memory chip soldered to the logic board is the 12-inch MacBook.

This also puts emphasis on backing up of data that is stored on MacBook Pro, to prevent any data loss due to a logic board failure. The MacBook Pro with Touch Bar hasn’t gone through any official teardowns by iFixit and the others, and more clarity on its repairability will be known then.

In the meanwhile, another MacBook Pro with Touch Bar user said that once the laptop was opened up, a large gap was noticed around the batteries – almost as if smaller batteries were used in the slot. Separately, The Verge and Business Insider report that the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar units they tested had significantly lower battery life than advertised. While Apple claims a 10-hour battery life, the two publications reported battery life of 5-6 hours and 6-8 hours respectively.

Tags: MacBook Pro, PCs, Laptops, Apple, MacBook Pro 2016, Touch Bar, SSD Chip


If Google Has a Mobile First Strategy, So Should You

If Google Has a Mobile First Strategy, So Should You

There is a tendency within the digital sphere to uphold a future-oriented mindset. From social media to SEO, from algorithms to user experience, our approach and practices maintain a forecasting nature. Trends and methods are always observed and developed with the next step in mind and the future in sight, the end goal being to evolve with complexity and instinct matching that of users. How is search behavior changing? What will users respond to? How can we improve the digital practices that already exist? In what direction is search moving, and how can we stay ahead of the curve? The ability to effectively find solutions for these questions requires a marathon-like endurance, and, more than any other search engine, Google sets the pace.

Shifts in Search Behavior

For years we’ve anticipated a shift to mobile-first users, expecting and monitoring search behavior as smartphones continue to become more and more capable. That shift has arrived, and the necessity of adapting to a mobile-first world has become unavoidable. Of the ever increasing number of searches run on Google every day, more than half are made from a mobile device.

Mobile First Strategy - Shifts in Search Behavior

Smartphones, more than just a means of communication, have become a personal item for practically every member of society. Smartphones are a personal assistant, a planner, a map, and a genie that can answer any question by way of a simple search. So ingrained into modern culture is the smartphone/tablet/device that it’s now become the best, most effective place to reach consumers. The opportunity to reach consumers on a level as personal as the device in their pocket or purse holds significant potential for growth of any brand or business, but the tools to make that happen have to adapt to the ebb and flow of user behavior.

Mobile First Strategy - High Mobile Use

Get to Know Your Searchers

The importance of getting to know your searchers and/or clientele can’t be understated. In order to effectively market to new search patterns and habits, you have to be able to put yourself into the shoes of consumers-specifically the shoes of your consumers. As a general practice, I recommend spending time among the consumers you’re trying to target through your digital marketing campaigns. For example, if you’re trying to develop a PPC campaign for gourmet coffee, poke around the coffee culture forums on Reddit and take note of what consumers are looking for, respond to, what kind of language they use to talk about coffee, etc. Making observations about consumer preferences will keep you in the loop and allow you to understand your consumers best.

Google Sets the Pace in Mobile First Strategy

True to its trail-blazing performance, Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has unveiled the first of what will likely be many adaptions of e-commerce tools. To meet consumers and users where they spend the most time and run the most searches, Google AdWords has been revamped. Its re-imagined design pointedly addresses the mobile-first trends that have arrived, and puts an old but sharpened tool back into the hands of advertisers and developers. The AdWords makeover is optimized for screen sizes of popular smartphones and mobile devices, putting user experience at the forefront of campaign management and therein cashing in on the ‘new’ behavior of searchers. What sounds like more work is actually less, because these upgrades offer responsive ads auto-designed by Google, bid adjustments for each device type, and local optimization-all streamlined into an a simple, contained format.

Why It’s Time to Shift Your Mindset

To spell it out in case it wasn’t already obvious: mobile users are having a moment. We now live in a mobile-first word; Google is adapting to it, and you should, too. The AdWords update and its modified controls are great, but this innovation is likely to be one of many. The emphasis on optimizing the mobile experience and, perhaps more importantly, finding ways to capitalize on it is why Google, the pace setter, is rolling out things like the Google Keyboard or even bothering with an AdWords redesign. More than an exciting and fresh way to meet consumers where it counts, it’s a move indicative of the overall shift towards mobile browsing and search. This assertion of permanence in regards to mobile browsing can’t be ignored and will undoubtedly prompt producers of all industries to rethink their strategy. While the shift to a mobile-first society by no means calls for the total abandonment of other marketing avenues, it does urge the recognition of quickly maturing user habits and a rethinking of how to naturally insert your brand or advertisement into the digital realm where users are doing the most. Clicking, shopping, browsing, local searches-all of the data Google has collected points to mobile, and that direction is where your future-oriented, digital mindset should be pointing, too.

Shifting Your Mindset: What You Can Do

Aside from getting to know your searchers, there are a handful of ways you can embrace this shift and participate in a mobile-first world.

  • Make your website mobile-friendly. The way your website looks on a desktop isn’t how it’ll convert on a mobile device. Ensuring that your site is mobile-friendly will keep users on your site and provide useful information for the on-to-go consumer. Also along the lines of having a mobile-friendly site, if you have any forms that a user would need to fill out for your business, try and keep them short. Remember: convenience is key in a mobile-first world.

Mobile First Strategy - Mobile Website

  • Make phones numbers and addresses visible and clickable. If your business has a physical location, having the contact information readily available can significantly boost foot traffic.
  • Evaluate your mobile page load speed. Fun fact via Kissmetrics: 40 prcent of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Page load speed most directly affects your revenue when it comes to mobile. Every second counts, so make should your load speed is up to snuff by testing it.
  • Update your mobile ads. Titles, displays-everything. Treat the re-imagined AdWords as your newest teammate, and use the new features to tweak your mobile ads for optimum performance. Are your ads responsive? Are you utilizing the longer headlines and description lines? Are your URL paths customized? By working through these things like a checklist, you can painlessly accommodate users from every device and participate in the mobile-first world.


Sony Announces It Has Shipped 47.4 Million PS4 Consoles

Sony Announces It Has Shipped 47.4 Million PS4 Consoles


  • Sony’s latest financial results show a dip in shipped PS4 consoles
  • The company still expects to ship 60 million consoles by March 31, 2017
  • This would include the PS4 Pro that’s launching on November 10

Sony has shipped 47.4 million PS4 consoles by the end of September 30 of this year. The news comes via the company’s latest financial results.

Compared to the same quarter last year, July to September 2015 saw the company ship four million PS4s. This year for the same quarter it is 3.9 million – implying a drop of 100,000 units.

(Also see: PlayStation VR: Almost There but Not Just Yet)

Nonetheless, it’s not gloom and doom just yet. The company is forecasting to ship 60 million consoles by the end of March 31, 2017. Considering that the PlayStation VR (PS VR) headset was met with a solid public reception and the souped up iteration of the PS4, the PS4 Pro is yet to hit the shelves, Sony shouldn’t be too far from the mark.

(Also see: The PS4 Pro Won’t Solve the PS4’s Biggest Problem)As for India, there’s no clarity as to when PS VR or the PS4 Pro would hit the shelves. Though if we were to take a guess given Sony India’s actions in the past, we’d peg them for a January release at Rs. 39,990 each. Reason being, both occupy the $399 price – which is what the PS4 was at launch. This translated to a Rs. 39,990 price. It will be interesting to see if foreign exchange fluctuations result in a higher price though.

Tags: PS4, PS4 Pro, PS VR, PlayStation VR, Sony, PS4 install base, PS4s sold

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Has an Early Release Date in the UK

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Has an Early Release Date in the UK

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Has an Early Release Date in the UK


  • The Legacy Edition of Infinite Warfare is already on sale
  • Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’s official release date is November 4
  • This hasn’t stopped copies from being sold early

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is out on November 4. Unless of course you’re in the UK. Retailer CEX – which specialises in used gadgets and games, has wrangled early copies for sale. Albeit for a princely sum of around Rs. 7,337.

“ Perks of working in CEX! 3 days early who wants to im selling for £90! Brand new! No codes used! Just opens seal!” exclaimed a description on an image posted on Instagram by user verace_ridz.

The picture is that of the Legacy Edition of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare which includes Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered – an HD re-release of 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

This isn’t the first time CEX has had a game available for sale ahead of its official release. Earlier in the year, Uncharted 4 could be purchased two weeks ahead of time. Later Sony stated the copies for sale were stolen.

With the game due on November 4, it’s unlikely that India will see an early release. Activision’s distributor World Wide CD ROM is known for running a tight ship, particularly for popular titles such as this.

Nonetheless, if you prefer getting it digitally, you can pre-load Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare on the PS4 and Xbox One right now. There’s been no announcement of when it will be available for download on the PC, but according to some you can expect to download it from November 1, 10am PST (10:30pm IST) onwards. This is when the Steam store updates globally, and would put it on par with the pre-load of previous COD games.

Tags: CODIW, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare Street Date Break, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare Preload,Infinite Warfare, Activision, Infinity Ward, Call of Dut

Google Has Until October 31 to Reply to EU’s Android Antitrust Charges

Google Has Until October 31 to Reply to EU's Android Antitrust Charges


  • Google was accused of its Search and Android dominance
  • The initial date to respond to the charges was July 27
  • Google may lose around $7.4 billion as fine against charges

Alphabet’s Google has been given until the end of October, the fourth extension, to rebut EU antitrust charges that it uses its dominant Android mobile operating system to block competitors, the European Commission said on Monday.

The Commission in April said the US technology giant’s demand that mobile phone makers pre-install Google Search and the Google Chrome browser on their smartphones to access other Google apps harms consumers and competition.

The EU watchdog had initially set a July 27 deadline for Google to respond to the charges. This had been extended three times at the company’s request, with the previous deadline Sept. 20.

The new deadlines are October 31 for the Android case and October 26 and October 13 for cases relating to online search advertising and shopping.

In the shopping case, Google has been accused of favouring its shopping service over those of rivals in internet search results while the AdSense case centres on the company’s measures which block competitors in online search advertising.

“In each of these cases, Google asked for additional time to review the documents in the case file. In line with normal practice, the Commission analysed the reasons for the request and granted an extension allowing Google to fully exercise its rights of defence,” Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso said in an email.

The EU antitrust enforcer intends to hit the company with deterrent fines in the Android and shopping cases, according to charge sheets seen by Reuters.

Google can be fined up to $7.4 billion (roughly Rs. 49,684 crores), or 10 percent of its global turnover, for each case if found guilty of breaching EU rules.


MirrorLink Car Smartphone Network Has Vulnerabilities, Claim Researchers

MirrorLink Car Smartphone Network Has Vulnerabilities, Claim Researchers

MirrorLink Car Smartphone Network Has Vulnerabilities, Claim Researchers
A system of rules that allow vehicles to communicate with smartphones may be vulnerable to hacking, a new study suggests. Many of today’s automobiles leave the factory with secret passengers: prototype software features that are disabled but that can be unlocked by clever drivers, researchers said.

In what is believed to be the first comprehensive security analysis of its kind, researchers at New York University Tandon School of Engineering and George Mason University in the US found vulnerabilities in MirrorLink, a system of rules that allow vehicles to communicate with smartphones.

MirrorLink when unlocked can allow hackers to use a linked smartphone as a stepping stone to control safety-critical components such as the vehicle’s anti-lock braking system.

Damon McCoy, from the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, explained that “tuners” – people or companies which customise automobiles – might unwittingly enable hackers by unlocking insecure features.

“Tuners will root around for these kinds of prototypes, and if these systems are easy to unlock they will do it,” he said. “And there are publically available instructions describing how to unlock MirrorLink. Just one of several instructional videos on YouTube has gotten over 60,000 views,” McCoy added.
“The researchers used such publically available instructions to unlock MirrorLink on the in-vehicle infotainment system in a 2015 vehicle they purchased from eBay for their experiments,” said McCoy.

The automaker and supplier declined to release a security patch – reflecting the fact that they never enabled MirrorLink. McCoy pointed out that this could leave drivers who enable MirrorLink out on a limb.

MirrorLink is the connection protocol and allows the driver or passenger to control phone apps via the car’s dash and steering wheel controls. Created by the Connected Car Consortium, MirrorLink represents 80 per cent of the world’s automakers, is the first and leading industry standard for connecting smartphones to in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems.

However, some automakers disable it because they chose a different smartphone-to-IVI standard, or because the version of MirrorLink in their vehicles is a prototype that can be activated later.

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Tags: MirrorLink, Smartphones, Hackers, Hacking