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The Lead: Airbnb’s Content Marketing, Mixed Oil Prices, Employee Training for Quality Improvement

The Lead, AchieveForum’s weekly brief of leadership news and insights, provides quick clarity into relevant headlines and straight-forward analysis for applying effective leadership tools and techniques.

Airbnb’s Relevant Content Marketing

With more than 4 million listings, Airbnb has expanded into a multibillion-dollar business that spans 190 countries. Their storytelling method of content marketing helps set their brand apart from other accommodation-sharing platforms. Airbnb’s website and app provides relevant guidebooks and user-generated neighborhood guides that provide top-notch information for customers to maximize their positive experience with Airbnb.

Our View: Thought leaders create content that’s relevant, so discovering what is relevant is the first step to creating top-notch content. Stay ahead by studying industry-related trends, news, and searches. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner as an effective free keyword research tool to compare keywords by search volume. (You must register for a Google Adwords account to access the Planner, but you don’t have to pay for any ads to use it.) Further Reading

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Mixed Oil Prices Following a Steep Five-Day Fall

Oil prices fell for five days after the U.S. formally imposed sanctions on Iran, and oil prices were mixed on Monday. The U.S. allowed eight countries: China, India, Greece, Italy, Taiwan, Japan, Turkey and South Korea to temporarily continue to buy oil from the Islamic Republic.

Our View: People in formal leadership positions often learn quickly that their decisions and actions have consequences that extend beyond their immediate network. Leaders should always gather input when making big decisions, and sometimes it even makes sense for leaders to delegate decision making to the person on their team who is most qualified for the particular decision at hand. Evaluating the consequences of decisions is critical for learning, regardless of who was the ultimate decision-maker. Further Reading

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Employee Training for Quality Improvements

Training that links to business objectives can improve productivity, reduce errors, and create a competitive advantage. Companies, especially those in the life sciences such as pharmaceutical companies, find it challenging to link training outcomes to business objectives. Connecting training goals with business quality improvement goals can be done by using automatic quality event triggers to assign training tasks to the right people. Karl Kapp, director of the Institute for Interactive Technologies and professor of instructional technology at Bloomsburg University says that a “bill of learning” is also beneficial. He elaborates, “it addresses questions like, ‘Why am I learning this?’ or ‘How does it relate strategically to what I do on-the-job every day?’ Linking the strategic objective to the quality process allows learners to see training in the context of their everyday jobs.”

Our View: The blanket statement that “investing in training is a good thing” is not always true, but it is difficult to know when and when not to spend money on training. It is helpful to remember that employee training investments are most effective when they address a strategic learning need that is attached to strategic business outcomes. Further Reading

Spotify’s Plan to Play on All Platforms

Spotify plans to compete with giants like Google, Apple, and Amazon by forming key strategic partnerships that enable them to exist on all platforms. They plan to invest in features and functionality of the user experience at the temporary expense of profits. Spotify shared that it’s giving away a Google Home Mini to subscribers in the U.S. who have a “Premium for Family” plan, which will likely create a competitive advantage against Amazon Music.

Our View: Leaders can increase the value customers get from their business through strategic partnerships. Partnering with a competitor does not come without the risks associated with having the same customer base, but these types of partnerships can give you instant access to resources you don’t have and help you expand your products and service offerings. To be successful, both partners need to trust each other and promote transparency. Further Reading

The Toilet of the Future

About 2.3 billion people still do not have basic sanitation facilities like toilets, and an estimated $233 billion a year is wasted as a result. The Gates Foundation is sparking innovation for what is likely to be another great “green” story, financially and environmentally. They funded scientists to invent toilets that are self-contained, meaning that these toilets of the future take human waste and recycle it into products like electricity, fertilizer, and even clean water. Bill Gates spoke at the Reinvented Toilet Expo and gave details about the projects underway, explaining that these first self-contained toilets are still fairly expensive and it will take a while to produce the volume to take them down to the low end of the market.

Our View: While the Gates Foundation and other charitable organizations make leaps and strides toward making the world a better and more sustainable place for everyone, there are small improvements that every single individual can make that still have a significant impact. There is scientific evidence that tiny improvements can yield big results, which speaks to the power and benefits of consistency. A British cycling team used the idea of improving each element of cycling by a mere 1% and went on to win 7 out of 10 medals in the 2008 Olympics after only having one gold medal in its 76-year history. Further Reading

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