Redirect Your Outdated Directories

Does anyone still use telephone books?

And by use, I mean to actually look up phone numbers – not just prop up a wobbly table or practice your own version of “Mythbusters” Episode 106, when it was demonstrated that it took the force of two tanks to pull apart two interwoven phone books because of the friction between the pages. (That was pretty cool, though, so I don’t blame you for trying to re-create it at home.)

If you do use phone books for finding information, it’s more than likely that they are outdated. There are web sites that are continually updated to include new businesses and updated contact information; whereas the books, once printed, cannot be updated.

So what do you do with piles of old phone books? Instead of letting them clog up the bottom of your hallway closet like mine tend to do, why not participate in a new drive to recycle outdated phone directories?

Most Indiana communities certainly have a way for residents to recycle these directories. 

As part of the AT&T Real Yellow Pages Project ReDirectory phone book recycling program, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc., AT&T and Republic Waste Services & Recycling of Indiana are teaming up in the Indianapolis area to provide opportunities for residents and businesses to recycle old phone books while helping schools.

The seven-week contest encourages 11 Indianapolis schools to collect and recycle outdated phone books, while having the opportunity to earn money based on the number of books collected. Through December 3, 18 locations across the city will accept the phone books. For each ton of phone directories collected, AT&T is contributing $20 to each school (up to 10 tons each). Republic Services is adding an additional $250 to the school that collects the most directories.

For more information, as well as the list of recycling centers accepting the phone books, visit this web site.

Key 2008 Voters Moving to Sidelines?

Young voters, critical to the outcome of the 2008 presidential vote, may be sitting it out for the most part this time around. So says the latest poll from the Harvard Institute of Politics.

The reason: They voted for change and they haven’t seen the results.

Just 27 percent of Millennials — 18-to-29-year-old voters — say they will definitely vote this year. That’s down from 36 percent who said a year ago that they were likely to vote in this year’s elections. And it’s way down from the 51 percent of Millennials who voted in 2008.

John Della Volpe, the institute’s polling director, blamed the enthusiasm drop on first-time voters’ sky-high expectations of the president and economic woes.

"The expectations among young people have not been met relative to what they were thinking was going to be quick change," he said. "This isn’t just college students, this is an entire generation, and in many states the unemployment rates for this generation are twice as high as the overall unemployment rate. They don’t see the efficacy of voting relative to 2008 and 2006." 

Poor Chuck: Starting a Business in America

This sardonic, yet starkly realistic cartoon from the Institute for Justice raises some valid questions about the "American Dream" and the obstacles in creating a business in today’s America.

Hat tip to The Agitator.

Leadership Lessons from “Mad Men”

Even if you’re not a top-level executive who once stole a deceased man’s identity to build a new life for yourself, you can likely relate to at least one character in "Mad Men" or at least the hit show’s fictional advertising firm. As this season wrapped up, Fast Company gleaned some leadership lessons from the program’s key characters. Here’s an example:

Roger Sterling, Jr. – Sr. Partner, Head of Accounts

The best that can be said of Roger’s work this year is that he managed to avoid having a third heart attack. It wasn’t entirely his fault that the company lost Lucky Strike, which accounted for more than two-thirds of its billings. But Roger committed a grave leadership sin when he decided to keep the bad news to himself, let the other partners learn about it via the Mad Ave grapevine — then lied about flying down to Raleigh to patch things up.

Roger has been distracted and petulant, focused more on his memoirs and his disastrous affair with Joan than the account which was, so far as we can tell, his sole responsibility. Let’s not even mention the racist outburst that nearly scuppered the company’s chance at the Honda account. Had he not been so entitled, he might have seen that American Tobacco was bound to consolidate its accounts over at BBDO someday. The most damning judgment on Roger came from his old partner Bert: “You didn’t take yourself seriously, so neither did they.”

LESSON: No matter how bad the news is, share it with your fellow leaders. They can handle it better than you alone.

Telling Numbers in the Right-to-Work Debate

A California congressman wants to do away with right-to-work (RTW) laws in 22 states. A Kansas Policy Institute author and professor asks why, especially when RTW states added 1.5 million private sector jobs from 1999-2009, while non-RTW states lost 1.8 million jobs during that time period. From the Daily Caller:

Workers can form unions in right-to-work states but individual workers have the right to opt out and not pay dues. In states without right-to-work laws, unions can force employers to fire any worker who does not pay dues.

From 1935 until 1947, it was legal for closed shops to exist. If you wanted a job in a unionized factory, you had to join the union. Congress then passed the Taft-Hartley Act, restricting the power of union political action committees and allowing states to pass right-to-work laws. Taft-Hartley has been the law governing labor relations ever since.

Labor unions have been trying to repeal Taft-Hartley since 1947, but they have been unable to do so as a coalition of Southern Democrats and Republicans blocked repeal. Sherman’s new legislation can be seen as a continuation of that cat-and-mouse game in Congress.

Private sector union membership has declined since the mid-1950s, especially as companies shifted production to lower-cost states in the Sun Belt. Robotics, automation, and globalization of the world economy put employers with high-cost manufacturing and industrial workers at a serious competitive disadvantage. Private sector union membership was once as high as 45 percent of the workforce but today it’s around 15 percent.

Unions blame right-to-work laws for their plight. But increasingly the number of union jobs declined because the companies where unions were dominant — the Big Three auto makers for instance — could not remain competitive under the old economic model. High wages, pension and health benefits hurt the ability of companies governed by the closed shop to compete. Steve Miller, chairman of Delphi Corporation (a General Motors spinoff) when it was going through bankruptcy, said the company simply couldn’t compete with its $65-per-hour “all-in” labor cost (pay and benefits for current and retired employees).

Let’s look at some facts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. From 1999 to 2009, right-to-work states have added 1.5 million private sector jobs for a 3.7 percent increase; states which are not right-to-work lost 1.8 million jobs over the same decade, for a decline of 2.3 percent. Some states, like Michigan and Ohio, home of the powerful United Auto Workers Union, have hemorrhaged private sector jobs, declining 17 percent and 10 percent respectively over that time period.

Last Call for Nominations/Indiana INTERNnet IMPACT Awards

Today is your chance to recognize internship excellence as Indiana INTERNnet makes a call for nominations in the categories of Intern of the Year (both college and high school), Employer of the Year (both nonprofit and profit) and Career Services Professional of the Year.  Last year’s winners were honored at the annual IMPACT Awards Luncheon and we’ll be doing the same this time around, recognizing finalists and winners on February 10, 2011. 

Nominations are open to interns, employers and educational institutions statewide.  Share your story of internship success by nominating yourself, your organization or another who is making an impact through internship connections. And, remember to mark your calendar for the luncheon in February. Registration for the luncheon will open in late November. Nomination deadline is Friday, October 29.

PICTURED: Tiffany LeFever, 2009 High School Intern of the Year, with Indiana INTERNnet Board Chair David McKinnis

Indiana’s Business Tax Climate: Not a Perfect One, But a Good 10

We’re No. 10! We’re No. 10! Not exactly the rallying cry one is used to hearing, but a refrain that deserves more plaudits than usual. Here’s why Indiana’s ranking in the Tax Foundation’s 2011 State Business Tax Climate Index is noteworthy:

  • It’s not easy to make substantial improvements in this area. Indiana has ranged between No.12 and No. 14 over the last five years
  • The top eight seemingly head the list by default as they do not impose one of the big three taxes (sales, income or corporate income). So, without too much of a stretch, you could say Indiana is second on the list
  • We’re far away from the bottom 10; in order from No. 50, that’s New York, California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Ohio, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Rhode Island and North Carolina

The Indiana Chamber’s advocacy efforts certainly are contributing factors to the state ranking. Historic tax restructuring in 2002 (including elimination of the inventory and corporate gross receipts levies) is among the Decade of Policy Victories document reflecting major legislative accomplishments from 2000-2009. The Chamber has also achieved success in general property tax reductions and an expansion of a variety of tax credits (good for business, but not earning high marks in this report).

According to the Tax Foundation, the worst tax codes tend to have:

  • Complex, multi-rate corporate and individual income taxes with above-average tax rates
  • Above-average sales tax rates that don’t exempt business-to-business purchases
  • Complex, high-rate unemployment tax systems
  • High property tax collections as a percentage of personal income

Indiana’s rankings in the five categories are: corporate tax index, 21st; individual income tax index, 11th; sales tax index, 20th; unemployment insurance tax index, 12th; and property index, 4th.

Since this tax analysis game is not for the faint of heart, a little more from the Tax Foundation on how it all works.

The methodology of the State Business Tax Climate Index is centered on the idea of economic neutrality. If a state’s tax system maintains a “level playing field” for businesses, the index considers it neutral and ranks it highly. However, each state’s final score depends on a comparison with the other 49 states.

The overall index is composed of five specific indexes devoted to major features of a state’s tax system. Each of these five indexes is composed of several sub-indexes.

Each state’s laws and tax collections were assessed as of July 1, 2010, the first day of the 2011 fiscal year. Newer tax changes are the subject of commentary in an appendix but are not tallied in the scores and rankings.

The Tax Foundation has data charts, further analysis and a full 60-page report. By the way, you have to go west for most of the rest of the top 10 (in order): South Dakota, Alaska, Wyoming, Nevada, Florida, Montana, New Hampshire, Delaware and Utah.

And finally, going into a state budget year that will bring pressure to raise revenues, let’s all keep the vital importance of the tax climate in mind on business attraction and expansion decisions.

What You Should NOT Do with Your Business’ Facebook Page

Hubspot offers a great post here on what folks should NOT be doing with their Facebook pages. Some are obvious, though some — like not connecting it to your Twitter account — are popular in practice at the moment and should probably be reconsidered. Here are the 9 no-nos, with explanations in the full post. Since it’s what not to do, it takes on a double negative feeling in some cases so it can be confusing – but please don’t not understand it.

You Could Be Misusing Your Facebook Page, if You…

  1. Duplicate your Twitter strategy on Facebook
  2. Post Only Plain-Text Status Updates
  3. Don’t Allow Fans to Share Content
  4. Don’t Comment on Your Fans’ Content
  5. Don’t Share Your Fans’ Content
  6. Don’t use Facebook Questions to Find More Fans
  7. Use a Profile Image That has a Poor Thumbnail
  8. Don’t Share Your Facebook Page on Your Website
  9. Don’t Develop a Personality

‘Superman,’ Schools and What’s Next

Indianapolis may be leading the country in Waiting for "Superman" viewing parties. And that’s a good thing. I had the opportunity last week to catch the documentary being touted as the key to pushing the education reform battle over the top.

Many of the 200-plus people at the showing I attended did appear to be genuinely moved. Moved by the story of five young students from various big cities whose fates were largely tied to whether they gained the luck of the lottery in order to enter a school that would give them a good education and a chance at a solid future. Moved by the parents who were trying any way they could to create a better life for their children. By the way, it’s not just an urban problem, but a widespread challenge that does not discriminate by locale.

The attendees asked the right questions — primarily centered around "What can we do to help, to make a difference?" — of Indiana schools chief Tony Bennett after the screening. Bennett, as always, brought passion to his remarks and guidance.

Personally, I was not really surprised by what I saw during the documentary or entirely convinced that the well-told stories would be able to live up to its savior-type hype. On reflection, I think that means I’m getting old. I’ve seen too many solid reform efforts go by the wayside, too many political fights get in the way of sound policies, too many instances of people saying the right things, but the status quo prevailing in the end.

But all hope is not lost. I understand the importance of reform and not letting thousands (not just a few) of children fall through the cracks. I do believe now, more than any other time, offers promise. Not because of the movie, but because of the leaders rallying the troops. Kudos to Bennett, to the Indianapolis Star for its focus on education and others determined to change the complacency of adults, an attitude that plagues young people now and potentially for the rest of their lives.

My advice: go see the movie if you haven’t already; check out the "Superman" web site to learn how you can help; and if you’re not convinced there is a problem in Indiana, take this five-question quiz provided by The Foundation for Educational Choice. Yes, you have to submit some contact information to get the answers, but the wake-up call is worth an e-mail or two you might receive in the future. 

Bush Writes; Will You Read?

November 9 is a big day. Some think that is because former President George W. Bush will release his memoir titled Decision Points. I prefer the fact that the Indiana Chamber will be conducting its 21st Annual Awards Dinner (it will be my 13th); recognizing the Business Leader, Government Leader and Community of the Year; and bringing Tom Brokaw to the event to share his insights. More than 1,200 have already purchased tickets, but there’s room for more.

But, in order to give the second Bush his fair due, below (from the National Journal) is some info regarding his book. Will I read it? Probably. Not sure what I expect to learn new and it actually might be painful to relive some of the events of early this century, but it should offer some insights into the White House perspective.

Bush will recount some of the high and low points of his presidency, ranging from 9/11, sending troops to Afghanistan and Iraq to his victorious 2004 reelection campaign to his administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

"I decided to take an untraditional approach," Bush says in a video promoting the book. "Rather than provide an exhaustive chronological account of my life and years in office, I wanted to give readers a glimpse of the presidency from my perspective." Hence the idea to focus on major decisions, he explains.

Bush says the book begins with his decision to stop drinking at age 40 ("a decision I could not have made without faith") and tells viewers that after a biographical overview of his life, he’ll offer a chapter on how he selected his Cabinet and senior staff.

Then he launches into a summary of the decisions he writes about in the book. He closes by saying that the book will recount what he did wrong, and what he’d do differently if he had another chance.