BEP 371 – English for Startups 5: Demonstrating Leadership

English for Startups 5 - BEP 371 - Demonstrating Leadership

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on English for startups and demonstrating leadership.

In the early stages, startup companies are built on the ideas and energy of their founders. These are often smart, creative people with great technical knowledge and skills. And this creativity and technical know-how is crucial to bringing great ideas to life.

But very quickly, a startup becomes more than just one or two individuals. As it grows, it becomes a team of people. And as it changes, or pivots, the original founders need more than just creativity and technical skills. They need to be able to lead their team with passion.

Leading a team might not come naturally to every founder. Or to any manager in any type of company, tech startup or not. But you can learn and practice the skills of a being a great leader.

For starters, you’ll want to know how to be positive and show compassion for your team members. Taking care of your team will also involve responding decisively to needs. And people are depending on you to show them the vision behind all the hard work, and to underline the shared purpose of everyone on the team.

In today’s dialog, we’ll listen to a startup founder named Quinn, who has recently pivoted his online payments company to focus on business customers. He’s talking with lead developer Jill, and a new marketing manager named Colin. To execute this pivot well, Quinn will have to call on all his leadership abilities to guide his team to success.

Listening Questions

1. How does Quinn set a positive tone at the start of the conversation?
2. What is the big vision, or change, the company wants to make?
3. How does Quinn respond to Jill’s request for help with infrastructure needs?

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BEP 370 – English for Startups 4: Discussing a Pivot

English for Startups - BEP 370 - Discussing a Pivot

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on English for startups and discussing a pivot.

There are lots of business ideas and tech innovations that sound like good ideas. But the real test of an idea is the marketplace. People might like your idea, but will they buy it? Will enough people buy it to make the business viable? Even if you’ve done your market research, sometimes consumer feedback tells you it just won’t work.

This happens all the time with startups. And the smart ones don’t keep throwing good money after bad. Nor do they give up altogether. Instead, they pivot. When you pivot, you shift your business model or strategy based on the feedback you get from the market. That’s how Odeo, a podcasting platform, became Twitter. And that’s how YouTube gave up on video-dating and became a massively popular video-sharing site.

Pivoting well isn’t easy. It takes some tough conversations about new goals for the company and new needs. And one of the toughest aspects of the pivot is sacrificing some of your old ideas. You also have to remember it’s not just about you and your ideas. When you pivot, you need to consider your team and your investors as well.

In today’s dialog, we’ll listen to a conversation between a young entrepreneur named Quinn and his mentor, Kira. Quinn has been working hard to get his online payments business going. Now he sees that it would be wise to pivot his focus from individual consumers to business customers.

Listening Questions

1. What does Quinn say is the company’s most pressing need?
2. What is the old idea that Quinn needs to sacrifice to pivot his business?
3. What does Quinn say his investors need to understand?

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Skills 360 – Adapting to Change (Part 2)

Business English Skills 360 - Adapting to Change (2)

Welcome back to the Business English Skills 360 podcast for today’s lesson on how to adapt to an ever-changing world.

Our world has been undergoing massive changes. And it’s not just the global pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the economy. There’s political turmoil, rapidly evolving technology, climate change, and calls for greater social justice. Our work and workplaces look and feel different because of this. There’s less travel, increased automation, more remote work, and moves toward greater equity and inclusion.

Nobody’s untouched by these changes. But not everybody is equally adept at dealing with them. Now, more than ever, we need to learn to accept, if not embrace, volatility, uncertainty and ambiguity. If you’re waiting for the world to go back to the way it was in 2019, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

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Skills 360 – Adapting to Change (Part 1)

Business English Skills 360 - Adapting to Change (1)

Welcome back to the Business English Skills 360 podcast for today’s lesson on adapting to change.

You might have heard that “change is the only constant,” meaning nothing ever stays the same. That’s easy to say, but not always easy to deal with. Many of us like certainty and stability. We get comfortable and we want to stay that way. But being comfortable shouldn’t mean being complacent, especially in today’s world.

Change doesn’t always happen at the same pace. These days, change seems so fast. And the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new uncertainties and has accelerated certain trends, like the move toward remote work. Many industries have been battered. And the fact that people are tired of the word “pivot” only demonstrates how the pace of change has accelerated.

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BEP 369 – Scenario Planning 3: Discussing Strategic Responses

BEP 369 - Scenario Planning Meetings English 3: Discussing Strategic Responses

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on talking about strategic responses during a scenario planning meeting in English.

It’s impossible to predict the future exactly. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t bother trying. After all, we don’t create business strategies based only on today’s realities. We need to think about what will or might happen and how we will respond to these possible events.

So if we’ve done the work of laying out future scenarios, then how exactly do we plan our strategic responses? To start, you’ll need to choose an overall strategic posture. Are you going to take the lead in your industry? Or will you sit back and respond to things as they happen?

Your strategic posture depends in part on the possible impacts of future events and your choice of strategies. You need to discuss these impacts in order to choose the best course of action out of several possibilities. So this means you’ll be doing a lot of discussing alternative strategies.

In strategic planning, we often say that you can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want. For this reason, you will have to ask your team to prioritize, or decide which strategies are most important. And to make those decisions about priorities, you’ll need to discuss hypothetical results of different actions.

In today’s dialog, we’ll rejoin a meeting of executives at a large retail firm. Gwen is based in the US headquarters. She’s discussing strategies with Natasha and Daniel, who head up the firm’s operations in another country. The group is discussing strategic responses to future scenarios they’ve already mapped out.

Listening Questions

1. What strategy does Daniel suggest for their larger urban stores?
2. What does Natasha suggest instead of making big cuts to their operations?
3. What does Gwen say could be the ultimate result of the changes they’re discussing?

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