Freelancing in America

Did you know that 36% of the U.S. workforce are freelance workers?  This equates to 57.3 million workers earning an estimated $1.4 trillion annually. By 2027, the majority of the U.S. workforce will freelance, according to findings in the “Freelancing in America Study: 2017” released in mid-October. The study conducted by Upwork and Freelancers Union defined freelancers as “individuals who have engaged in supplemental, temporary, project- or contract-based work.”
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To learn more about freelancing in America, check out the following:
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  • Click here for a complete guide from entrepreneur.com to the highest-paying jobs, companies, freelance jobs and more.
  • Prepare for the future as a freelancer by following these 3 tips here.
  • Want to quit your job to go freelance?  Here is a list of 10 skills that are in hot demand now.
  • Are we all fated to become “solopreneurs”?  Read here about the four key criteria needed to stay competitive and successful as freelancers.

Re-Envisioning the Future with Generative Design

Could the current manufacturing, distribution, assembly and maintenance processes become obsolete in the not too distant future?  Today, we take a look at generative design as an innovative approach to thinking outside the box when it comes to design and its implications to manufacturing.
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At Croixstone we are inspired by mavericks…those unconventional thinkers who can see past conformity and who can accomplish what others say can’t be done.  Generative design has the ability to generate unconventional design options that go beyond our imagination alone and can be used to create everything from running shoes, earbuds and airplane partitions, to a revolutionary approach to designing the office space and buildings of the future.
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So what is generative design? According to Autodesk, a leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software, “Generative design is a technology that mimics nature’s evolutionary approach to design. It starts with your design goals and then explores all of the possible permutations of a solution to find the best option. Using cloud computing, generative design software quickly cycles through thousands—or even millions—of design choices, testing configurations and learning from each iteration what works and what doesn’t. The process lets designers generate brand new options, beyond what a human alone could create, to arrive at the most effective design.”  To better understand what generative design is all about, click here for a short video.
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  • Learn how generative design and additive manufacturing (i.e., 3-D printing) is changing the manufacturing world here.
  • Check out how generative design could radically transform the look of our world here.
  • Delve into a new world of highly efficient products made by generative design here.
  • Take a sneak peak into the first large-scale generative designed office here.

Books That May Change Your Life

Did you know that one of the core habits that highly successful people have in common is reading?  Socio-economist Randall Bell spent 25 years studying success and found that, “Those who read seven or more books per year are more than 122 percent more likely to be millionaires as opposed to those who never read or only read one to three [books].”  Reading is not only a great source of knowledge and inspiration, but reading reduces stress and feeds your imagination.
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Billionaire Warren Buffett has been known for saying that a single book, The Intelligent Investor, written by Benjamin Graham changed his life.  In Buffett’s 2013 annual letter to shareholders he stated, “Of all the investments I ever made, buying Ben’s book was the best.”  Now, Buffett spends up to 80% of his day reading.  Billionaire Richard Branson once stated that the book that changed his life was Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie. “I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from the book. I’ve never really wanted to grow up and I’ve always wanted to fly!”
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Maybe one of the books from the below links may change your life!
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Check out 24 books successful people read here.
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Learn about 9 books Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett think you should read here.
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Looking for a great business book?  Check out the latest Financial Times & McKinsey‘s book list for 2017 here.
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Finally, here are 13 must-read books on success according to the Young Entrepreneur Council.
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Here’s to your next great book!

Gaining a Competitive Advantage Through Predictive Analytics

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to predict the future? According to a recent Harvard Business Review webinar, companies, governments, law enforcement agencies, hospitals, and universities are using the power of big data, new technologies, and analytics to predict whether we’re going to “click, buy, lie, or die.”
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So, what is the difference between forecasting and predictive analytics? Forecasting provides an estimate to anticipate trends for a large group over time, while predictive analytics goes much further and is focused on predicting the behavior of a single individual. For example, forecasting might provide an estimate of the total sales for a particular product line next quarter, while predictive analytics tells which customer will likely buy the product. Major industries such as Banking and Finance, Retail, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Oil and Gas Utilities, Government, E-commerce and Travel and Hospitality embrace predictive analytics to boost sales, improve operations, reduce risks, and gain a competitive advantage.
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  • What is Predictive Analytics? Learn the about the process, applications, software and more here.
  • Read how to convert analytics into action here.

Trends Shaping the Consulting Industry

In the 2017 Management Consulting Outlook report prepared by Greentarget, a strategic public relations firm focused exclusively on business-to-business organizations, the global management consulting market has been growing revenue approximately 4 percent annually over the past few years. As the most mature market, the U.S. market grew 7.7 percent in 2015 to reach $54.7 billion, up from $50.8 billion in 2014. The global management consulting industry is now delivering an estimated $150 billion in revenue, and the growth trend is expected to continue, with the U.S. accounting for nearly half (44 percent) of the global market.
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We at Croixstone know it is important to keep abreast of the many forces and trends shaping the consulting industry. Demand for change as result of disruptive technologies and competition from new market competitors continues to drive investment in consulting.  What else is new in the consulting industry?
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  • Learn more about the who’s who of the consulting world in 2017 here.
  • What makes a great consultant?  Here are 10 attributes required for long term success as a consultant.
  • Read here about five consulting technology trends in 2017 that are more than buzzwords.

Sustainability in Business

On September 7th, the results of the annual 2017 Dow Jones Sustainability Index for North America were announced, and both Duke Energy Corp. and Bank of America Corp. made the list for their focus on environmental, social and governance issues. Like Duke Energy and Bank of America, companies continue to change their business models as a result of sustainability opportunities.

Sustainability is all about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability to meet the needs of future generations. Instead of today’s linear ‘take, make, depose’ economic model, companies like Hewlett-Packard, who recently unveiled the world’s first printer with closed-loop recycled plastic, and Procter & Gamble, with its ongoing focus on creating a new method to recycle plastic for reuse, are helping to drive the circular economy concept of ‘return and renew’ as part of their approach to sustainability in business.

  • Is it time to tie executive compensation to sustainability?  Learn more here.
  • Learn more sustainability in today’s business world here.
  • Read about the circular economy concept here.

Welcoming Week

Welcoming America returned to Charlotte on Friday, September 15th, for a week long series of events to celebrate National Welcoming Week. The events during Welcoming Week are focused on bringing together immigrants and U.S.-born residents to raise awareness of the benefits of welcoming everyone – including new Americans.  Croixstone’s founder, Mark Weber, is Chairman of the Board of Directors for ourBRIDGE for KIDS, a nonprofit afterschool program for immigrant and refugee children here in Charlotte that provides an inclusive and welcoming environment.

During Welcoming Week, ourBRIDGE is opening its doors and inviting the community to the inauguration of the organization’s new afterschool center in east Charlotte on Sunday, September 17th from 3 – 6 p.m. at 3925 Willard Farrow Drive, Charlotte, NC, 28215. The public is welcome to attend!

  • Learn more about ourBRIDGE for KIDS here.
  • Read about ourBRIDGE for KIDS’ new home and partnership with Aldersgate here.
  • See how ourBRIDGE for KIDS won Amazon’s #TickSaveMyCity contest here.

Agile For Business

Back in 2001, seventeen people at The Lodge at Snowbird met to talk, ski, and relax, and what emerged was the Agile ‘Software Development’ Manifesto.  Those seventeen individuals may not have predicted that the agile methodology would now go well beyond IT and impact all areas of business.

As agile becomes more and more popular, business teams across a broad range of industries and functions are continuing to adopt an agile approach as a wide-ranging global business strategy.  And, big businesses aren’t the only places where agile is flourishing.  Small businesses and startups are also benefiting from embracing agile strategies and mindsets.

  • Learn about the secret history of agile innovation here.
  • Read how to make agile work for the C-suite here.
  • When it comes to scaling agile, learn how the devil is in the details here.
  • Finally, read about changes required to make your organization truly agile here.

Keeping Up With Digital Transformation

Digital transformation has by now made its way to nearly all industries, and therefore, it comes up in Croixstone’s conversations almost daily. Why is digital transformation so important? Quite simply, if organizations don’t modernize and become fully digitalized then they will be left behind and the threat of disruption becomes very real. With companies investing millions to digitalize their businesses, they are hoping for outcomes that will increase revenue, reduce cost, create more products and services, improve customer satisfaction, enhance differentiation, and ultimately mitigate the risk of digital disruption.

Regardless of your area of expertise, digital transformation will impact everyone. Companies are looking for change drivers to help them weed through the digital transformation myths, create a culture that makes data-based decisions, and sift through an avalanche of digital initiatives to reshape their organizations.

Read about a new practical guide to a successful digital transformation here.

Learn some insights into helping your C-suite understand digital transformation here.

See how three companies are thriving with digital transformation here.


What’s Happening in the Financial Services Sector?

Those of us who live in the Queen City know that Charlotte is the third-largest banking center behind New York City and San Francisco.  According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, the Charlotte region is home to 16 banking institutions with $2.27 trillion in total assets.  So, what’s happening in the USA’s financial services sector overall?

Learn about the future of Financial Services here.

How are tech trends and FinTech affecting the Financial Services industry?  Learn how here.

Are technology firms the next Financial Services providers?  Let’s see what Forbes thinks here.

Finally, learn about the third way of innovation (AI and machine learning) in Financial Services here.