This Week in Business and Brands: Black Friday Boons, Rocketing to Success, and More

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Retail Rebound: Getting the Green on Black Friday

Black Friday, Discounts, Discount, Promotion, OfferDespite ominous forecasts for the future of retail, it seems there’s one weekend that still reigns supreme for brick-and-mortar shops across America. This year’s Black Friday looks to be no different, with bold sales and growth predictions giving retailers plenty to be thankful for. With a 47% increase over last year’s consumer spending, North Americans spent on average $800 over the course of the weekend, including their online Cyber Monday purchases. Those digital dollars are now outpacing the sales from three days prior, with a total of $3.39 billion spent online last year. But perhaps the one weekend isn’t enough: as 45% of shoppers reported plans to begin their holiday pickups before even November 1st, most retailers started their promotions almost five days before Thanksgiving itself. That kind of win-win for consumers and storefronts means extra gravy on the bottom line.

Leadership Lessons: Gift of the Gut

When the world’s most influential former CEO has something to say about what it takes to lead successfully, our ears are certainly pricked. And for management legend Jack Welch, that success all comes down to building two key essences in your organization: truth and trust. After all, “If your employees trust you, they tell you the truth, and when you get the truth, you act quickly.” So how can you make sure to lead by example and generate that kind of effective collaboration? First, be direct: tell your employees where they stand, and what they need to do to improve. Second, set the vision: have total conviction about where the company is heading, and make sure everyone is on the same page. Finally, have fun: make sure to think of employees first, creating an environment like “the cool kid’s basement,” and you’ll have a team that’s both appreciated and excited about their work. It’s the approach that worked for 400,000 people at General Electric – are you ready to make it work for you?

(Well) Worth the Long Read: Elon’s Long View

Between building rocket ships and electric cars, exploring the cosmos and the depths of the human brain, it can sometimes seem like there’s nothing Elon Musk can’t do. And in Neil Strauss’s profile of the self-proclaimed “technologist” for Rolling Stone, there’s perhaps little evidence to dispel that myth. But what is the secret behind his success (admittedly, after plenty of hurdles and failures)? It appears to be as straightforward as the scientific method itself. Elon’s version: 1) Ask a question. 2) Gather evidence. 3) Develop axioms and assign levels of truth. 4) Draw conclusions, and 5) Attempt to disprove them. 6) If you can’t, then you’re probably right. That direct approach forms the foundation for every one of his endeavors. But don’t forget the extra mile: “If you’re going to make a product, make it beautiful. Even if it doesn’t affect sales.” And that’s a formula that needs no explanation.

Suggested Reading: Business Book Club

Need to sneak away from the family for some quiet time this holiday season? Curling up with a good book is always a good move. From this list of 34 professional page-turners, we’ve got a few favorites of our own:

  • Principles by Ray Dalio: As the CEO and Founder of Bridgewater Associates, the largest private hedge fund in the world, Dalio knows a thing or two about what it takes to grow your company – starting with yourself.
  • Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss: The life-hacker and serial entrepreneur fills this book with the tips and tactics of the most influential individuals in every field, giving direct, applicable strategies for professionals of all kinds.
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman: If you haven’t had a chance to read this one yet, take this psychologist’s perspective on the two cognitive systems that we employ – consciously or not – to approach and solve decisions big and small throughout all aspects of our lives.

Video Victory: Ferocious Females

That’s all for this week! We’ll leave you with this look at Gatorade’s latest collaboration with Serena Williams, sharing inspiration for her newborn daughter and every girl on the field…