Holiday Cards and the Workplace

writing greeting cards

Workplace question: Should I send a holiday card to my boss or other members of management? Reference-checking firm Allison & Taylor answers in the affirmative.

It offers reasons why and tips for doing it correctly.

Why a traditional greeting card is a good idea:

  • Connecting with your bosses (or a former boss) will help keep you top-of-mind in their awareness, translating to possible future support or opportunity.
  • Staying in touch with bosses and colleagues via a holiday card is a subtle yet highly effective form of networking.
  • Sending your bosses (also former bosses, colleagues, suppliers, etc.) a card demonstrates a personal touch to accompany your business relationship.
  • Staying in the favor of your prospective employment references (particularly former bosses) is critical to your future employment success.
  • Developing and maintaining positive relationships with your management team, co-workers and former bosses will ultimately be a cornerstone of success in your career.

Sending the right holiday greeting card:

While sending out holiday cards is almost certainly a good idea, even this generous gesture can backfire if the proper protocols aren’t observed. 

  • Choose a high-quality holiday card that allows no possibility of offending its recipient. Remember that not everyone celebrates Christmas – be mindful of religious and cultural nuances.
  • Choose a design that is appropriate for your business associates.
  • Keep your contact list accurate and up-to-date. Make sure you’re not sending a card to someone who has left the department or the company.
  • Check the spelling of your contacts and their corporate name. Any good points you’ll score with a holiday card will be lost if you misspell your contact’s name or corporate information.
  • Include one of your business cards inside the greeting card. This small insertion ensures that your recipients have your most current contact information and will reinforce your name with the card’s recipient.
  • Sign each card personally. It only takes a moment to sign your name and write a short greeting, and your business associates will notice and appreciate this more personal gesture.

FCC’s Official Net Neutrality Decision Coming This Week

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will decide whether to overturn the Obama-era net neutrality regulations that currently govern the internet. It is highly anticipated they will decide to return to the pre-2015 regulations.

Net neutrality implies an open internet environment that internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or web sites.

The 2015 net neutrality laws reclassified high-speed broadband as a public utility under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act rather than the 1996 Telecom Act. These regulations applied to both mobile and fixed broadband networks. The reclassification changed how government treats broadband service and gave the FCC increased controls over internet service providers.

The office of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai recently issued this Myth vs. Fact statement on returning to the pre-2015 regulations. One issue the public is concerned with is if internet providers would block or “throttle back” certain content to the public. Another is if content developers would pay internet providers for accelerated data transfer. The bigger issue is whether internet providers can operate their businesses as businesses rather than as a public utility. Data show that private investment in internet services has slowed under the post-2015 regulations.

The Indiana Chamber supports free-market competition in the delivery of advanced communications services. The competition in a free-market environment among industry service providers is consistent with providing choice to consumers and an adequate service of last resort in extended service areas.

The Chamber opposes any attempt to impose new regulations on broadband and other next-generation telecommunications services by the FCC, especially through the unilateral reclassification of such services under Title II of the Federal Communications Act.  The Indiana Chamber supports the U.S. Congress examining and deciding issues such as net neutrality. We believe that advanced communications and digital infrastructure are critical to long-term economic development. Since 2006, private companies have invested more than $1.5 billion in new broadband capacity in the state, expanding service to more than 100 Hoosier communities and creating 2,100 new jobs within the industry.

If the FCC rules to return to the pre-2015 regulations, it is expected that Congress will entertain legislation to promote some of the concepts of net neutrality and limit the ability to stifle content.

Next Level Jobs: An Inside Look for Building and Construction

Building trades and construction are one of the five focuses of Gov. Holcomb’s Next Level Jobs initiative. A free one-hour webinar on December 14 – Next Level Jobs: An Inside Look for Building and Construction – will inform you how your company can benefit.

This webinar is specifically for building trades and construction. Additional webinars on other target industries will take place in early 2018. Learn how employers can be reimbursed up to $2,500 per employee (and $25,000 total) for your training programs. Leaders from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and Indiana Commission for Higher Education will discuss building and construction-specific occupations eligible for the Employer Training Grant initiative. Workforce Ready Grants for individuals will also be explained.

The Indiana Chamber is pleased to partner with the Department of Workforce Development to present this opportunity. Even if you cannot directly participate in the 10:30-11:30 a.m. (EST) webinar on December 14, do sign up and you will receive a follow-up link to the recording of the program.

Register today. You will receive a confirmation email containing webinar-specific information.

As a reminder, your Indiana Chamber is helping you tackle the workforce challenge in a variety of ways. This video explains some of our efforts:

Many Business Provisions Still Being Reconciled in Federal Tax Reform

We’re almost there. Tax reform has passed both the House and Senate. It now seems very possible that the President will have a bill to sign by Christmas. As some have described: All they need to do now is “sand the rough edges”. But another saying is equally applicable to the business tax components: “The devil is in the details”. Specifically, details directly relating to the taxation of both C-corporations and pass-through entities. Terms that will impact those who do business here and those who do business around the globe. In other words, details that will significantly affect big businesses, small businesses and everybody in between.

The process for reconciling the two versions of tax reform is already underway as the House and Senate name members to the conference committee that will determine exactly what will be in the package before it is voted on one last time. Indications are that majority leaders want to have a committee report for their respective bodies to act on by the end of next week. So while the details still have to be worked out, both bodies are very engaged and they’ve passed legislation that defines the general parameters.

There will continue to be debate, in public and in private, over the deficit, how much growth tax reform will generate, who benefits and who doesn’t, but the House and Senate are effectively committed to getting something done at this point. On the individual income tax side, they will need to find agreement regarding the limits on the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT), as well as mortgage interest. These items are important to individuals, important to the numbers and important politically. But the two sides really aren’t that far apart. A $10,000 SALT deduction of some kind and a healthy mortgage interest deduction will almost certainly remain in the final product.

But where they land on many items critical to business is harder to predict; a lot is up in the air. Let’s start with the corporate rate itself. While both plans call for a 20% rate, the President hinted it could still change slightly. That appears unlikely, however, but the rate is tied closely to the fiscal projections. And the fiscal projections are why the Senate delayed the effective date for corporate rate change to 2019, to reduce the cost of the bill. So when exactly the change goes into effect is at issue.

Similarly, the taxation of pass-through income is also unsettled. The House limits the pass-through rate at 25%. The Senate approach was to give a deduction to pass-throughs to keep their tax down. Effectively, the different approaches would not have drastically different bottom line impacts for most pass-through income recipients. The real complications come via provisions directed at guarding against individuals in higher brackets from categorizing personal income as business/pass-through income.

What about the issues of interest to multinationals who conduct huge volumes of business activity around the globe? The House and Senate agree that the U.S. must move to a territorial system and companies shouldn’t be taxed here on income they earn overseas. But beyond that basic principle, how multinationals and their foreign-sourced income is handled is anything but clear right now. Both the House and Senate have included forms of supplemental taxes intended to prevent their perception of “base erosion” and to discourage what they view as corporations “gaming the system”.

Likewise, they are still working through how best to address the repatriation of foreign-earned profits and are looking at special, one-time tax provisions to encourage companies to bring those assets back to the U.S.  Another item important to many businesses of all types and sizes is how quickly, to what extent and for how long will they be able to claim deductions for capital expenditures/investments. Two final differences to note: (1) The Senate preserves the corporate alternative minimum tax; the House repeals it; (2) the House and Senate versions both limit the interest expense deduction, but in materially different ways. (A good summary of all the differences can be found in this report from the Tax Foundation.)

Of course, there are many, many other pending issues wrapped up in this legislation for the tax folks in Washington to resolve in short order. They include the health care mandate, estate tax, exemptions for educational institutions and nonprofits, and the list goes on. Tax reform appears close. Let’s hope good solutions are close too.

Business Podcasts to Inform Your Commute

Radio

Who said video killed the radio star?

(Okay, some band from the late ’70s sang that phrase in a popular song that many associate with the rise of MTV.)

But the point is, radio never died. It is back and bigger than ever, thanks to a growing industry movement: the podcast.

With the ability to instantly stream or download radio programs on any number of topics, podcasting has invigorated audio listeners and broadcasters alike. Your phone most likely holds enough hours of programming to keep you awake for days bingeing everything from true crime (my personal favorite), to news and politics, health and wellness, music, pop culture, literature and business (and a whole lot more).

If you’re new to the podcast landscape, understand that you can access shows from just about any device that has an internet connection. There are plenty of apps to download to manage your podcast subscriptions, which makes it easier to know where you left off and what you’d like to save for the future.

EchoChamber

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce launched the EchoChamber podcast earlier this year, featuring conversations with Indiana leaders in business, education, government and more. New episodes are featured every other Tuesday and you can listen via the web site, www.indianachamber.com/echochamber, or subscribe wherever you get podcasts.

(If you listen, do us a favor and rate and review us on iTunes! It helps more people discover our content.)

Our most recent episode features Blair Milo, former LaPorte mayor (elected at age 28), Navy veteran and the state’s first Secretary of Career Connections and Talent. She discusses the challenge of aligning current workforce efforts and introducing new ones to tackle workforce issues in Indiana. Listen here.

There are other Indiana-focused business podcasts to tune into as well: Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar has been featured on The ROI Podcast from the Kelley School of Business. And Inside INdiana Business recently launched a podcast of its own, focused on its weekly television show.

If you’re looking outside of Indiana-specific business podcasts, Fast Company recently listed 10 popular business podcasts to check out:

  1. “Startup,” Gimlet Media

No podcast better captures the thrills and struggles of launching a company. Created as a remarkably candid docuseries on the birth of podcasting business Gimlet Media, it now traces the surprising stories of other enterprises.

  1. “Planet Money,” NPR

This show – launched in 2008 to help explain the financial crisis – offers fascinating explorations of the intersection between economics and culture.

  1. “Working,” Panoply

Each installment starts with the same question: “What is your name and what do you do?” Guests then reveal details of their jobs, whether they’re a neurosurgeon, a novelist, a pollster, or a clown.

  1. “Above Avalon,” Above Avalon

A giant bite of Apple. Hosted by analyst and technology writer Neil Cybart, this show goes deep into all things Cupertino, with some of the most informed analysis you’re likely to find.

  1. “Brown Ambition,” Brown Ambition

Journalist Mandi Woodruff and personal-finance expert Tiffany Aliche chat about news, relationships, and other topics, but they’re especially incisive when discussing their successes and failures in the business world.

  1. “How I Built This,” NPR

This series explores backstories of various big businesses, from AOL to 1-800-GOT-JUNK. The storytelling is simple and linear, leaving space for gripping personal tales to emerge.

  1. “Eater Upsell,” Vox Media

Editors from culinary site Eater glean insight from chefs and other industry pros, both famous (Anthony Bourdain) and less so (cookbook photographer Evan Sung).

  1. “Exponent,” Exponent

Tech watchers Ben Thompson and James Allworth tackle topics of the moment – fake news on Facebook, Uber’s scandals – and offer broader discourse on where the digital world is headed.

  1. “I Hate My Boss,” Wondery

Former Nike and Oprah Winfrey Network marketing executive Liz Dolan and executive coach Larry Seal offer advice on your stickiest workplace conundrums.

  1. “Loose Threads,” Loose Threads

Focused on innovation and technology in the fashion industry, this podcast digs into notable developments in manufacturing, design, retail, and other areas.

What’s playing on your drive home? Share your favorite podcasts in the comments!

Tech Talk: Moving Ahead on the Policy Front

2017 Tech Policy Summit

The discussions at the second Indiana Technology & Innovation Policy Summit last Friday were so plentiful and rich with content that three stages were utilized during the five-hour event. Seven sessions and a keynote address were part of the mix.

We’ll hit a few highlights below, but an overall takeaway: Our state has momentum, there is more work to do to continue that positive pace and one way for tech and innovation business leaders to get involved and help ensure success is communicating with your legislators. It’s a critical component.

In the words of the presenters:

  • Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness: Indiana can largely check the box on enhancing its tax and business climate; today is about the innovation climate and building bridges between traditional industries and technology companies. And he says the IoT lab coming to Fishers will send a powerful message about aggregating talent.
  • Software-as-a-Service: The legislative mission is to provide “certainty and predictability to the tech community” about SaaS and tax treatment. Three states (Washington, Tennessee and Pennsylvania) have put up red lights on software development by taxing SaaS. Indiana seeks to join a similar number with a green light encouraging investment. Christopher Day of DemandJump: “It’s not just about SaaS. What it’s about is growing our wealth as a state. It’s time to transition the Crossroads of America to the Nation’s Nucleus.” SaaS panel
  • Certified Technology Parks: Fifteen of 23 tech parks in the state have met the $5 million funding cap. The proposal is to allow those parks that meet certification requirements to be eligible for additional funds to continue to provide technical assistance to companies within the facilities.
  • Larry Gigerich, Ginovus, on expanding investment capital: Twenty states have tax credits that are transferable, sellable or bondable with eight or nine more set to consider such action. Indiana is missing from that equation, its 20% tax credit is no longer competitive against many other states and the state’s cap is “middle of the pack.” Although the Next Level Fund approved in 2017 will be helpful, Gigerich gives preference to a stronger tax credit system.
  • Autonomous vehicles (AV): State Rep. Ed Soliday presented extensive data. Again, Indiana is looking to join other states (21 with legislation, five with executive orders) with some form of policy. Indiana’s goals: ensure public safety and encourage innovation/AV research and development in our state. Soliday says much work needs to be done to convince the public about the benefits.
  • Data centers: Rich Carlton of Data Realty didn’t argue with the general assertion that data centers themselves don’t create large numbers of jobs, but cited the related development and job creation that has taken place in South Bend. Tax treatment is preventing Indiana from being a participant in the national data center boom. A $2 million data center building with an additional $23 million in equipment would be taxed at the first figure in many states, but at $25 million in Indiana. Carlton: “Do we want to have part of something or all of nothing?”

Jeff Brantley, Indiana Chamber vice president of political affairs, connected the dots on legislative victories resulting from both political and policy involvement from the business community.

Micah Vincent, director of the Indiana Office of Management and Budget, shared that we can expect to see the initial Next Level Fund investments in the first quarter of 2018. And he projected that the 2018 Indiana General Assembly may very well end up being the “workforce session.”

Check out the two-page summary of how the legislative positions of the Chamber’s Tech Policy Committee can impact the state’s economic future. Look for continued coverage of these important issues through various Chamber communications.

BizVoice: Takeaways on Building a Business

The November-December edition of BizVoice® wrapped up a yearlong series with Fishers-based Recovery Force. The promising start-up develops wearable medical technology devices intended to increase circulation among other benefits.

BizVoice has followed the company’s progress over the last year, from early inception and beginning work to grow the organization to now, as the company is seeking advanced funding rounds and products are heading to market in 2018.

The first story highlights the Recovery Force beginnings, including the unique approach to solving an everyday medical challenge. Team building is featured in the series’ second story, and the third takes a look at the federal regulatory and grant environment.

Company advisors, from business experts to a former Indianapolis Colts player, discuss their roles with Recovery Force in the fourth story. And the fifth story puts fundraising front and center.

Recently, Recovery Force co-founder, president and CEO Matt Wyatt joined BizVoice editor Tom Schuman on Inside INdiana Business to discuss what’s next for the company in 2018. Watch the video below:

Find all of the Recovery Force stories and more from the November-December edition of BizVoice at www.bizvoicemagazine.com.

Check Out Indiana’s Winter Delights

Do you have room in your holiday calendars for a few wintry Indiana activities? Maybe you’re in need of something to entertain your children over winter break, or you’re in search of fun activities to get yourself in the holiday spirit.

We’re enjoying fairly mild weather now, but there are plenty of activities in Indiana to explore whether the weather is great – or frightful. If you’ve got time in December to get out and enjoy some sights and sounds of the season, here are a few things central Indiana has to offer:

  • Festival of Trees: The Indiana Historical Society has 80 Christmas trees decked out in Hoosier-related flair through January 6. Dates, times and ticket prices are available here. You can also check out the Indiana Experience while you’re there.
  • Lights at the Brickyard: What’s more Hoosier than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? Take a drive around the oval and cross over the yard of bricks while you take in over 2.5 million twinkling lights (set to music, if you choose). This year’s expanded route is more than two miles long. Be patient on the weekends for long lines, but weeknights experience typically lighter traffic. Get tickets and times.
  • Christmas at the Zoo: Another Indianapolis staple, Christmas at the Zoo features the animals that don’t mind the cold and lights throughout the property. Get tickets online.
  • Jingle Rails at the Eiteljorg: If model trains are your thing, this is the place to be. Nine working model trains zip past Indiana landmarks and then out west to some of America’s natural and man-made wonders. New this year is a model train trip to Hollywood. The event runs through January 15. Tickets and dates available here.
  • L.S. Ayres Tea Room: Though L.S. Ayres department store closed downtown in 1990, the Indiana State Museum has recreated the famed L.S. Ayres Tea Room as a restaurant with a heaping side of nostalgia for those that recall dining in the original. It’s impressive – the ambiance and lighted windows give the feel of being on the eighth floor of the department store. The tea room is open through January 7 and includes special events such as Santa’s Holiday Breakfasts and Tea with Raggedy Ann.
  • Polar Bear Express: Put on by the Indiana Transportation Museum, the Polar Bear Express train ride departs from Kokomo or Logansport and features an approximately 75-minute trip, complete with candy canes, hot cocoa, a holiday story read aloud and, of course, visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Tickets are $35 per person (kids too) and reservations are required.
  • Veal Family Ice Tree – For several years, my family lived near Shelbyville and when we’d drive on Interstate 74, my brother and I would always keep an eye out for the colorful ice tree that peaked out among the foliage. That’s the Veal Family Ice Tree! While this one is definitely off the beaten path, it’s a nostalgic place for many. The ice tree typically takes shape in January and is melted by March. This one is, of course, dependent on the weather. So, if you’re one of those that loves a freezing winter, take advantage of a Hoosier original! Check their Facebook page for updates.

We know there are many more things to do in Indiana during the winter months than what we have highlighted here. Did we miss one you love? Let us know in the comments! What do you enjoy doing this time of the year?

Christmastime in Indiana

Indiana Business Leader Andre Lacy Leaves Legacy at Indiana Chamber

People know the name Andre Lacy – and for good reason. Lacy’s name has adorned the business school at Butler University the last few years, but his career as an accomplished business owner and philanthropist in his hometown of Indianapolis is legendary.

Yesterday’s Indianapolis Star captured Lacy’s impact following his sudden death from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident while he was in southern Africa.

“It’s a very sad day for us. Andre was a personal mentor and a dear friend to the Indiana Chamber,” offers Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

Lacy’s involvement with the Chamber stretches back decades. He joined the organization’s board of directors in 1984 and his family’s wholesale distribution company, LDI Ltd., has been a member of the Chamber since 1941.

Lacy was chairman of the board of directors in 2008. During his time at the helm, he encouraged the organization to continue improving, enhanced good governance practices and pushed the organization to elevate its public policy efforts to an even higher level.

He was also chosen as a Chamber Volunteer of the Year in 2008. Lacy was quoted in BizVoice® on the importance of business in the lives of Hoosiers: “Business is not a dirty word. Business is the means for you to pay your mortgage. It is the means that you can take a vacation. It is the means that you can pay for your children’s education … and sometimes to splurge. Business is the big engine (for all that).”

Read the full story in BizVoice® from that time.

Additionally, Lacy was instrumental with the Chamber’s political action committee, Indiana Business for Responsive Government (IBRG), helping establish a matching grant program. He was also well known for his involvement with the Indiana State Fair and many other philanthropic endeavors in the Indianapolis area.

“Andre was one of a kind. His determination, spirit and will to help the business community was on another level – and he showed that same passion in giving back to his community and state,” Brinegar states.

Andre Lacy

Andre Lacy receives his Volunteer of the Year award in 2008 from Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar.

Indiana Would Be Hit Hard by NAFTA Pullout

The U.S. Chamber recently released its analysis of which states would be most harmed from a NAFTA withdrawal.

Unfortunately, Indiana would be among the Top 10 most hard hit states, with more than 250,000 Hoosier jobs put at risk.

On top of that, nearly half of Indiana’s exports are destined for customers in Canada and Mexico, generating more than $16 billion in export revenue. Indiana’s farmers and ranchers would also suffer a blow, particularly those with soybean crops exported to Mexico.