New Grads, Perk Up Your ears

????????????????A month after earning a bachelor’s degree in English, I launched my career at the Indiana Chamber. It seems like yesterday. But … it wasn’t. I celebrated my 15-year anniversary last week.

An interesting article on CNN.com reveals the top employers for new graduates based on a survey of business students at colleges around the world.

Among the coveted employers:

The Coca-Cola Company
Is there a more recognizable, more iconic American brand than Coca-Cola? That’s what draws young people to work for the company – the chance to work on products that they’ve been around, enjoyed and seen millions of advertisements for their whole lives.

L’Oreal
It’s no wonder that working for one of the world’s biggest beauty brands is attractive to young workers. With Kiehls, Maybelline, Urban Decay and Clarisonic under its umbrella, employees can have many different jobs with various brands while still staying within the company.

Plus, there are some great benefits, like flexible work options, paternity leave, adoption assistance and 13 weeks of paid maternity leave, among others. And yes, employees receive discounts on products.

Nestle
Sure, getting to work for a company responsible for some of the most famous chocolate brands sounds delicious. Even more appealing for young workers is the company’s policy of promoting people from within. In fact, 80% of positions within Nestle are filled by current employees, according to the company.

Bison Financial Group: Maximizing Its Investment by Boosting Visibility

Vorbeck_DavidNumbers are the name of the game in the financial world. But that’s only part of the equation.

Just ask Dave Vorbeck, president and CEO of Bison Financial Group, which he founded in 1999. He regularly showcases the firm’s MENTOR product by advertising in the Chamber’s award-winning BizVoice® magazine. In addition, Bison has sponsored a variety of events, such as the Wellness Council of Indiana’s regional wellness symposiums, and has been an Indiana Chamber member since 2011.

“People who are on the distribution list of BizVoice (the audience includes 15,000 CEOs, presidents and other decision-makers) want to be on the distribution list of BizVoice and the editorial content is important to them. MENTOR is our business-to-business product and being able to zero-in on those decision-makers in terms of brand development is incredibly valuable to us.

“We don’t need to get in front of 15,000 people. We need to get in front of 15,000 of the right people. BizVoice (readers represent) 15,000 of the right people.”

Based in Lafayette, Bison also has offices in Mishawaka; Terre Haute; Valparaiso; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and Melbourne, Florida. It employs 40 people firmwide and is affiliated with Wells Fargo Advisors.

“I’m looking at new MENTOR clients (and one is) a big coding company in Fort Wayne. The only way they’ve heard of us is through BizVoice because we don’t advertise in Fort Wayne,” Vorbeck stresses. “Advertising in BizVoice is an incredible value for us. For what we’re advertising, it absolutely is perfect.”

Dodge These ‘Dirty Dozen’

16010132Ah, “The Dirty Dozen.”

No, I’m not talking about the iconic western. The phrase popped into my mind when I read this Business Insider story about 12 ways you’re sabotaging your career.

Some of the mistakes are pretty obvious. Acting like you can’t learn anything new, for instance, has “bad move” written all over it. Some are less apparent – and the “offenders” may not even realize their blunders.

Career development specialist and author Sylvia Hepler offers comments on each of the missteps. Here is a memorable trio:

  • Criticizing your boss.
    Whispering behind his back, carping to her face or making your supervisor out to be wrong, pathetic or inept puts you in the danger zone, Hepler says. “If you’re doing this, don’t expect to land a promotion or last there.”
  • Wearing your emotions on your sleeve.
    Going overboard with disruptive displays of anger, whines of frustration and dramatic tears usually sends messages of warning to bosses, staff and peers, she says. “People may conclude that you can’t manage your feelings, and that’s never a good thing.”
  • Complaining.
    “Chronic complainers generally focus on the problems at hand rather than on the potential solutions,” she explains. “Instead of moaning about policies, processes and people, accept what you cannot change or make recommendations for positive change.”

Hendricks Power Cooperative: Maximizing Its Chamber Investment Through Compliance Resources

Lenardson_DebLearning the ropes when starting a new job is always challenging. Imagine your position changing soon thereafter to encompass the vast world of human resources.

Nearly a decade after launching her career at Hendricks Power Cooperative (located in Avon, it provides electricity and energy services to 30,000-plus members in west central Indiana), HR director Deb Lenardson credits the Indiana Chamber with helping to ease the transition.

She points to regulatory compliance publications, which cover worker’s compensation, the Family Medical Leave Act and a variety of other employment law topics.

“I wasn’t hired into HR, but after about three months I was hired into (an HR) position, which is kind of why those books became so important,” Lenardson emphasizes. “I was new and learning. They’re great, reliable resources for us.

“When I’m looking for local information about Indiana, that’s where I go because so many of my other resources (offered elsewhere) are more generalized on a national level.”

The Chamber’s free poster subscription service also fuels Lenardson’s compliance efforts. When there is a significant change to any mandatory Indiana or federal employment postings, the Chamber automatically sends subscribers the revised poster set(s) with an invoice for the postings.

“I love that because I don’t have to worry about, ‘Am I going to keep my required posters up-to-date?’ ” she declares. “Anything I can have that helps me just keep things moving along without having to be reactive – I can be proactive with those things. I love that.”

McKinney Takes Ag Role with IEDC; the Legacy Continues

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Amazing!

There’s no other way to describe my tour of the McKinney family farm in Tipton last spring. The occasion? A feature story on twins Ted and Tom McKinney in the July-August 2014 issue of BizVoice® magazine.

Tom is a seventh-generation Indiana farmer. Ted is director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) following a long career that included stints at animal health company Elanco, Eli Lilly and Company and Dow AgroSciences. The brothers inspired me with their passion for farming, family and the community.

What a legacy! They shared stories about their childhood, which was full of good-old fashioned hard work and play. They recounted the trials, tribulations and triumphs of corn-detasseling (they started managing their own crews at age 16) and wore their affinity for Purdue University on their sleeves – well, on their chests. The third-generation graduates of the College of Agriculture donned Purdue pullovers.

Earlier this month, Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and Indiana Secretary of Commerce Victor Smith announced that – in addition to his role at the ISDA – Ted will serve as director of agri-business development for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

Congratulations and best of luck! A new chapter begins.

Six Tips that Make Good ‘Cents’

19151085What do you mean money doesn’t grow on trees? Rats.

Now that we’ve got that nasty truth out of the way, it’s time to get serious. It’s time to start saving.

This Forbes article describes six easy ways people in their thirties can do just that – and how it will pay off in the long run.

Three of the tips include:

  • Embrace stocks: The financial crisis took its toll on many thirtysomethings. Nearly 40% of Gen Y-ers say they’ll never feel okay investing in stocks, MFS Investment Management has reported. Take note: Since 1926, a portfolio mostly in stocks has never lost money in any 20-year period while averaging gains of more than 10.8% a year, versus 4% for bonds. At age 30, you should have most of your portfolio in stocks, with about half in U.S. equities and nearly 30% in foreign equity.
  • Don’t cash out: More than half of workers in their twenties who leave a job do not roll their 401(k) into an IRA or their new employer’s plan, says Aon Hewitt. Bad move: On a $10,000 balance, you could be left with just $7,000 after taxes and penalties. If, instead, you keep that money growing at, say, 6% a year, you’ll have an extra $100,000 or so by the time you retire.
  • Sweat the small stuff: If you carry multiple credit card balances, you’ll save the most money by paying off your highest-rate plastic first, right? Wrong. Two Northwestern University professors have found that people who focus on their smallest debts before tackling bigger, higher-rate loans are more successful at erasing debt. The psychological boost from eliminating a loan entirely gives you the mojo to keep paying down debt.

Keep Your Hands Off My Coca-Cola!

Let’s pull a Marty McFly and go back 30 years … this time, to 1985.

That was the year Back to the Future became a cultural phenomenon (hence my McFly reference). Another staple of the times was Miami Vice, which won over a generation with its flashy music and fashion. But do you remember Coca-Cola’s disastrous rebranding campaign, which introduced “New Coke?”

You could say it fizzled.

As rival Pepsi ate up the success of its “Pepsi Challenge” (consumers participated in blind taste tastes and found they preferred Pepsi), Coca-Cola did the unthinkable: replace its classic version with something new.

People weren’t happy. In fact, they were outraged. So outraged, in fact, that Coca-Cola pulled the plug on the campaign after just 79 days.

Gulp.

Relive the drama with this History.com story. Here’s an except:

On April 23, 1985, Coca-Cola Company chairman and CEO Roberto Goizueta stepped before the press gathered at New York City’s Lincoln Center to introduce the new formula, which he declared to be “smoother, rounder, yet bolder – a more harmonious flavor.” The press, however, said what Goizueta couldn’t admit: New Coke tasted sweeter and more like Pepsi.

Had it been an opera, the Lincoln Center performance would have been a tragedy to devoted fans of Coke’s original formula. Rather than divide its market share between two sugar sodas, Coca-Cola discontinued its 99-year classic recipe and locked Formula 7x away in an Atlanta bank vault with the intention that it never again see the light of day.

“Some may choose to call this the boldest single marketing move in the history of the packaged goods business,” Goizueta said. “We simply call it the surest move ever made.” Coca-Cola president Donald Keough echoed the certainty: “I’ve never been as confident about a decision as I am about the one we’re announcing today.”

New Coke left a bitter taste in the mouths of the company’s loyal customers. Within weeks of the announcement, the company was fielding 5,000 angry phone calls a day. By June, that number grew to 8,000 calls a day, a volume that forced the company to hire extra operators. “I don’t think I’d be more upset if you were to burn the flag in our front yard,” one disgruntled drinker wrote to company headquarters. At protests staged by grassroots groups such as “Old Cola Drinkers of America,” consumers poured the contents of New Coke bottles into sewer drains. One Seattle consumer even filed suit against the company to force it to provide the old drink.

A Badge of Honor for Bilingual Grads

????????????????They say a picture speaks a thousand words. That notion also holds true for State Seals of Biliteracy, which recognize high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in one or more languages in addition to English.

California led the way nationwide in adopting the seal (in 2011). Indiana became the ninth state to do so during the current legislative session.

This excerpt from an NPR story has more:

Beyond shedding a more positive light on bilingualism, proponents say the seal allows employers to distinguish between people who can get by in another language from those who are truly fluent.

Each state determines who gets a seal, but several national language organizations have created guidelines. Recommendations include: passing the AP exam, the International Baccalaureate exam or the Standards-Based Measurement of Proficiency.

Today, 74% of students who earn these seals are bilingual in Spanish. More than 165 school districts are currently granting the award.

One big question about the value of the seals is whether employers care about them. UCLA professor Patricia Gándara explored that question in a 2014 study. She surveyed 289 California employers, and found that they overwhelmingly prefer hiring a multilingual person. And, they said, they would favor someone with a certification that proves it.

Kruse, the Indiana bill’s author, says the seal goes beyond the obvious choice of speaking Spanish and English.

“A lot of businesses want to know, ‘Do you know Chinese? And how do I know you know?’ And you can have your certificate as verification.”

Child Adult Resource Services: Maximizing Its Investment Through Compliance Resources

Teri King

Knowledge is power – and empowering. Just ask Teri King, HR manager at Child Adult Resource Services (CARS), a Chamber member since 1991 that has around 250 employees. CARS provides Head Start, group homes, employment and other services to people with a variety of needs. Headquartered in Rockville, it covers 40 Indiana counties.

“I count on the Chamber to keep me up-to-date and out of trouble,” she declares.

King shares how an email from the Chamber helped keep CARS in compliance with Indiana’s smoking ban law, which went into effect on July 1, 2012. As part of the law, businesses are required to post signage at public entrances indicating that smoking is prohibited within eight feet.

“I had missed that (component of the) law,” King recalls. “Had it not been for her (the Chamber’s Rhea Langdon, manager of business resource marketing and sales) email telling me there was new signage available, I would have been out of compliance.”

King also is a fan of the Chamber’s ePubs (“I’ve enjoyed the forms and links to different topics,” she remarks) and completed the Chamber’s human resources and safety compliance certificate programs by attending a variety of training events.

“Being a nonprofit, training dollars are very tight. Whenever I’ve submitted a training (request) to go to the Chamber, it’s always approved. Other trainings may not be,” she emphasizes.

“In HR, you get all kinds of sales calls. You get all kinds of flyers from companies that are trying to sell their stuff. I always tell them, ‘I’m getting it from the Chamber. I know I have the right stuff that way.’ ”

A Pocket Full of… Praise

?????????????????????????????????????????????I’m feeling sentimental today. Perhaps it’s because spring is in the air. No matter. There’s something I want to say: Thank you.

Thank you to my parents for cultivating in me a love of learning, a kind heart and confidence. They inspired me with their strength as they battled – and beat – cancer. They taught me right from wrong, coached my softball teams (you helped me soar, dad), played Barbie with me (I cherish those days, mom) and so much more.

Life humbles one along the way, but their continuous support has kept me strong. I look up to them as role models as I raise my amazing daughters.

Thank you to my third grade teacher. I was the new kid on the block at school and she was the new teacher in town. All of us thought she was one of the coolest adults we had ever met. She made learning fun. What an impact a child’s early learning experiences can have on her future.

Thank you to my fans – and critics. Ok, so I don’t actually have fans, per se. But I do have people who support me no matter what. And critics? We all have them, justified or not. Thank you for helping me to grow and realize that I don’t need your approval.

Thank you to kind strangers who smile at me in passing. I mean, how hard is it?

Thank you to friendly employees at Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks, who truly seem happy to see my girls and me when we’re on a morning adventure for coffee and goodies. That’s customer service.

One more shout out to you dad: Thank you for reminding me from time to time that life is a journey, not a destination.

I appreciate all who have helped pave that journey with wisdom and happiness.