How to Fail Your Way to the Top

As a company grows, often it becomes more averse to risk and failure. Mature companies are almost desperate for “tried and true” proven techniques to implement. The goal of fast growth companies should be to learn from (and not to repeat) failures rather than “not to fail”.

A company that cultivates a culture where it is okay to fail has a distinct competitive advantage, because we learn so much more from our failures than we ever do from our successes. When we succeed we often apply 20-20 hindsight to rationalize our decisions and reasons for our success. As the saying goes, “Success has many parents, but failure is an orphan.” That is, many people will jump at the chance to take credit for success, but very few will accept responsibility for failure when it happens. That group-think dynamic is what holds many companies back.

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Voice Control: Coming Soon to a House Near You

Tekbot

Oregon State University students use a TekBot that responds to voice command. 

IMAGE: FLICKR, OSU EECS
A startup called Wit.ai plans to make it easy for hardware makers and software developers to add custom voice controls to everything from smartphones and smart watches to Internet-connected thermostats and drones.While big companies like Apple and Google have their own voice recognition technology, smaller companies and independent developers don’t have the deep pockets required to create voice software that continuously learns from mountains of data.

Wit.ai, based in Palo Alto, California, is taking aim at the swiftly growing number of devices with small displays, or no screen at all, and at activities like driving and cooking, where you may want the aid of technology but don’t want to look at or touch a display.

And to give all kinds of developers access to a simple-to-use, always-learning natural-language service, the company is offering it free to those who agree to share their user data with the Wit.ai community. Collecting this data should help improve the accuracy of the system over time.

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The Biggest Time Savers for Business Travelers (Infographic)

Spending on global business travel reached $1 trillion in 2013 and is expected to grow more than 8 percent in 2014, according to data from the Global Business Travel Association.

Some of the tools being used to optimize business travel today include setting up push notifications via mobile devices to automate and anticipate traveler logistics. The gamification of business travel and an increase in traveler perks are also expected to help drive cost efficiencies.

The infographic below from American Express explains how innovation in business travel is helping maximize traveler productivity.

6 min read 7 Steps to Launch Your Freelancing Career Full-Time

Freelancing on the side is a great way to make a little extra cash or pursue a hobby. But for some passionate creatives and entrepreneurial types there comes a time when they wonder if they should make the move to full-time freelancing .

Deciding to quit your day job and freelance full-time is scary. I should know. I just quit a great full-time job to freelance. But I decided that the benefit of being able to work for myself on projects that I love would be worth the risk.

You can do it, too. With the right amount of preparation, information and courage, you will be ready to quit your day job and commit to a full-time freelancing career. Here are the steps to take to get started.

1. Have a vision.

The first obstacle on the road to starting a freelance business is the largest: overcoming the mental hurdle that’s telling you, “You can’t and you won’t do it.”

To overcome that imposter syndrome (the idea that you’re masquerading as someone you’re not and aren’t worthy), show yourself that freelancing can be reality. Your idea isn’t a whim; it is a business plan. Start the process by establishing a business name and creating a vision for your company brand.

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Castle Master 2

What is Castle Master 2?

Castle Master 2 is an MMO hack’n’slash title where you can do battle with other clans or go on various quests. The game’s main catch is that you can have online battles with up to 600 people (300 vs 300). It’s free to play in the Google Play Store and has in app purchases.Here’s how you play the game. You create a character, join a clan, and then you do pretty much what you want. There are quests and dungeons to conquer which you can do solo or with your clan mates which allows you to level up and gain more powerful items and equipment. You can also battle other clans in gigantic battles to see who can win. There is a trophy system to see which clans are the best.

The game play is your classic hack’n’slash. You run around and slash at things until they die. You have special abilities and the like to help you but generally you’ll be button mashing the attack button. The graphics are pretty decent even if they are a little cutesy. Everything seems to be straightforward in terms of mechanics and game play.

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6 Startups With the Most Humble Beginnings and the Greatest Successes B

Almost every big business today began as a startup–Apple, Google, Starbucks, you name it. In the beginning, most of them also had a shoestring budget and little investor interest. In fact, they were probably at a disadvantage compared to today’s startups. Even 10 years ago (let alone 20 or 30), “angel investors,” “crowd funding,” and shows like “Shark Tank” were not well known or didn’t exist. Startups from long ago had to build a reputation and get investors the old-fashioned way–with almost no digital tech for help.

If you’re thinking of starting a company or you’re already knee-deep in the process, you could probably use a little inspiration. Check out these startups that truly “started from the bottom”–and now find themselves more profitable and valuable than most companies.

1. Starbucks: The very first Starbucks opened its doors in Seattle back in 1971, founded by three former students from the University of San Francisco. One was a writer and the other two were teachers. They didn’t brew coffee or sell pastries–they simply sold beans after being inspired by roasting legend Alfred Peet. Eight years later, it was a savvy former Starbucks employee who ended up buying the company and helping to turn it into the mega chain it is today.

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