Advertising
Advertising

Dropping Out Doesn’t Mean the End of Opportunity

Dropping Out Doesn’t Mean the End of Opportunity

    Some of the biggest companies in the world were started by college dropouts. Google, Facebook and Microsoft, to name a few. But these very same companies, among hundreds of others, shun college dropouts.

    TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington, spoke about entrepreneurship at UC Berkley recently, where he claimed that college was for old school entrepreneurs and the trend of the day was to get into a good school to prove you’re smart enough and then drop out. He says, “The best thing in the world is to go to Harvard for a year and drop out because everyone knows you were smart enough to get in”. However, Arrington himself, is a College Graduate and has never possibly been rejected for low grades or dropping out. But he has also started one of the most successful and influential Silicon Valley blogs and has spent years observing entrepreneurs of the many billion dollar companies based there.

    Advertising

    In response to his speech, Vivek Wadhwa, entrepreneur turned Academic, Director of Research at the Center for Entrepreneurship at Harvard, says the following on Arrington’s own turf, TechCrunch, “Maybe Zuckerberg lucked out by being at the right place at the right time… To build a business, you need to understand subjects like finance, marketing, intellectual property and corporate law.”

    To support his claim, Wadhawa, does explain how the companies started by entrepreneurs have gone to be built by Senior Execs who are highly educated people; executives with knowledge about how to actually build a company, not just start one.

    The other reasons

    Turns out, that not only is it important to finish that degree. It is also essential to start off right. Speaking to New York Times, a few years ago, Johnny C. Taylor Jr., who is the HR head at a company that owns businesses like match.com and Home Shopping Network, says that in his 15 years of experience good GPA grades have been great predictors of work ethic and smartness.

    Advertising

    As Wadhwa says in his Tech Crunch post, a degree (and good GPA scores, we will include here), shows that you’re not going to ‘chase after every rainbow’.

    So what can you do to boost your chances of being hired if you have dropped out of college or have low grades?

    Omit the GPA

    If your GPA is way below average, experts recommend skipping it on your Resume altogether. In the same NYT story, whereTaylorglorifies the importance of GPA,

    Advertising

    Tory Johnson, the chief executive of Women for Hire inNew York, says the following, about mentioning a GPA lower than 3.0, “That is like saying ‘Hi, I’m mediocre,’”.  A lot of great skills make up for a low GPA score, communication, charisma and so on, especially in fields like Sales or PR. Getting a face-to-face meeting will greatly enhance your chances of making an impression that could negate you low GPA grades.

    State your reasons

    If you dropped out of college to start a business venture, but you are now looking to be hired, demonstrate what you have done with your time and the skills you have learnt in the process. However, if you dropped out to ‘find yourself’ but you’re now serious about getting a job, you might want to consider going back to college. If you simply can’t afford it, try to highlight skills that come naturally to you, without having had much training or education, like writing or communication.

    Entry Level

    Many success stories at big corporations started began in the mail room. Grabbing just about any position at an organization you want to work for, shows initiative and dedication. Take graveyard shifts, become the copy boy, doing what it takes makes up for a lot of missing fields on one’s resume. Also, equally important as getting the job you want, working in the field that you want to make your mark in, even as a mail boy, helps you gain important insights in how the industry functions.

    Advertising

    Use your connections

    New Yorker journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell has studied and written extensively about what it takes to be successful. He has repeatedly exalted the importance of connections and being in the right place. In his book, The Outliers, he compares super-intelligent people from vastly different backgrounds, such as genius Christopher Langan, who, having been brought up in a poor family, had no academic credentials and ended up working as a bouncer, to the ‘manor born’ Robert Oppenheimer. Essentially, use your connections if you have them. If you  have poor GPA or you dropped out of college but have plenty of potential, get this simple thing right: Network, network like crazy. Once you get that door to open for you, the sky could be the limit.

    Get a job. Any job

    In times like these, when jobs continue to be rare, and in an increasingly knowledge-based economy, where GPA scores and College degrees, despite being prohibitively expensive, are given priority, you can stand out. But you’ve got to keep doing something while you try for your big break. It’ll help you pay your bills, so you don’t have to depend on your parents or partner, get you out of the house and help keep some of that desperation out. Keep your chin up and keep trying, the importance of grades, scores and degrees may vary, but the one thing the remains as rewarding as ever is the ‘never say die’ spirit.

    More by this author

    Real Safety Solutions for Kids Growing up in a Virtual World Dropping Out Doesn’t Mean the End of Opportunity

    Trending in Productivity

    1 We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why? 2 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away 3 How to Reprogram Your Brain Like a Computer And Hack Your Habits 4 14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress 5 11 Things You Can Do to Increase Employee Productivity

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on January 6, 2021

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

    In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

    For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

    For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

    Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

    Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

    Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

    How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

    1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

    Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

    For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

    2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

    Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

    Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

    Advertising

    Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

    3. Create a System

    Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

    This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

    You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

    Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

    4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

    We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

    If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

    Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

    Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

    5. Use a Ratings Scale

    Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

    Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

    Advertising

    It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

    6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

    This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

    You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

    You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

    7. Offer Feedback Forms

    Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

    First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

    Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

    You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    8. Track Cost Effectiveness

    This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

    Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

    Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

    9. Use Self-Evaluations

    Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

    Advertising

    Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

    10. Monitor Time Management

    This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

    Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

      The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

      While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

      11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

      We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

      Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

      For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

      Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

      Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

      From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

      12. Utilize Peer Feedback

      This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

      Advertising

      Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

      Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

      It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

      13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

      When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

      Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

      Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

      14. Use an External Evaluator

      Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

      They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

      While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

      Final Thoughts

      These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

      The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

      The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

      More Productivity Tips

      Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

      Reference

      Read Next