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.

A Valuable Lesson Learned

This summer, I’ll celebrate 15 years with the Chamber.

It was my first job out of college. An early lesson learned was this: No matter how hard you work, there will be days when you can’t complete every task on your to-do list. I’m a perfectionist and my own worst critic, so that was a difficult premise to accept. But I’m glad I did!

Are you tough on yourself at day’s end? Check out this Inc. article, which challenges readers to ask themselves five key questions.

My favorites:

  • What did I get done today that I’m feeling good about?
    Now don’t just give them a cursory glance – actually read through the list of things that you were able to cross off and give yourself a pat on the back for getting them done. This might sound kind of silly, but it is amazing how much better you feel at the end of the day when you acknowledge what you did instead of beating yourself up for what you didn’t do.
  • What am I going to do differently tomorrow?
    As you ponder the things you learned during the day, think also about how you will do things differently tomorrow. This might mean doing more of some things, less of others. It might mean deciding to smile more or be more patient. Or it might mean saying no more often, so that you can actually get more done.

A Day to Remember in Evansville

evilleArmed with my Starbuck’s latte, I stepped out into the cold. It was mid-January and I was headed to Evansville to conduct interviews for our education/workforce development issue of BizVoice® magazine.

I started the day around 7 a.m. and didn’t pull into my driveway until shortly after 7 p.m. that evening. You know what? It was worth it. In fact, it was unforgettable.

First up: Ivy Tech’s College Connection Coach initiative. The program places Ivy Tech employees in high schools to promote a culture of college attainment and to provide career counseling and advisement. Launched last fall, it stresses collaboration with guidance counselors, administrators and teachers.

Carrie Feltis, a College Connection Coach in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation, spends two days a week at both Central and Harrison High Schools. While visiting Central, I watched her interact with a senior named Lindsey, with whom she’s worked closely. What a rapport! They shared laughs – lots of them – and proudly conveyed Lindsey’s many accomplishments. Among them: She’ll be the first member of her family to graduate from high school.

Next was a visit to Ivy Tech Community College-Southwest/Wabash Valley Region hosted by chancellor Jonathan Weinzapfel, a former state legislator and Evansville mayor. He passionately expressed the importance of the program and its potential impact in leading students down a path that includes postsecondary education.

Then it was time to dive into my next story. It was time to step into Signature School.

Signature, the state’s first charter school, is nationally recognized for its challenging curriculum and unique culture. Located in downtown Evansville, its close proximity to libraries, the YMCA, the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra and more provides the backdrop for learning beyond the doors of Signature’s two buildings.

Executive Director Jean Hitchcock beamed as we stepped into dynamic classrooms and met the people who create Signature’s success. The teachers are passionate. The students are spirited. It’s a tight-knit team that lives by the Signature Way.

If there’s one word to sum up my impressions of Signature, it’s this: brilliant.

Brilliant minds. Brilliant opportunities. That’s Signature.

Wick’s Pies: Maximizing Its Chamber Investment Through Compliance Resources

foodserviceLife is sweet at Wick’s Pies

The family-owned business, which opened in 1944 and has been an Indiana Chamber member since 1984, has a tight-knit team that whips up flavors such as pecan, pumpkin, sugar crème (the state pie), coconut crème, German chocolate and more. During an eight-hour production shift, the associates can bake as many as 12,000 pies. In addition, they can make 40 shells per minute in a seven-hour period.

Wick’s has spawned Wick’s Foods (which makes pie glaze for Wick’s Pies) and a restaurant – all located within a block of one another in Winchester.

Human resources specialist Tonya Fouse notes that prior to joining Wick’s Pies in 2006, “I worked in the automotive industry and was a purchasing manager. I had strong managerial skills, but I didn’t know a thing about HR.

“It was baptism by fire and our tool to teach me was the Indiana Chamber – the seminars I went to, all the reading material I could get my hands on (citing publications that cover topics such as unemployment law, worker’s compensation and labor relations), and the (helpline) resources I could call.”

Fouse proudly shares that she earned the Chamber’s Human Resources Specialist Certificate in 2012 after attending a variety of training events. In addition, she routinely utilizes the Chamber’s HR Helpline, a free, confidential resource exclusively available to members.

“We’ve just about hit every topic there is. With FMLA (for instance), it seems there’s always something that evolves. I totally trust in that resource, and it’s wonderful for me to be able to shoot an email (to director of human resources Michelle Kavanaugh) and a response comes back within the hour. It’s been a lifesaving tool for me.

“(The Chamber) kind of formed me and molded me into the HR specialist I am today.”

Isn’t That Sweet? Valentine’s Day Spending is Soaring

FWho loves you, baby?

Valentine’s Day spending will reach $18.9 billion this year, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Gifts run the gamut, but candy takes the cake with consumers.

Here’s an excerpt from an NRF press release, which has the breakdown:

While most (53.2%) plan to buy candy for the sweet holiday, spending a total of $1.7 billion, one in five (21.1%) plans to buy jewelry for a total of $4.8 billion, the highest amount seen since NRF began tracking spending on Valentine’s gifts in 2010.

Additionally 37.8% will buy flowers, spending a total of $2.1 billion, and more than one-third (35.1%) will spend on plans for a special night out, including movies and restaurants, totaling $3.6 billion. Celebrants will also spend nearly $2 billion on clothing and $1.5 billion on the gift that keeps on giving: gift cards.

It turns out that Valentine’s Day isn’t just for lovebirds. Although 91% of those surveyed plan to indulge their significant others/spouses with gifts, 58.7% will dish out an average of $26.26 on other family members and $6.30 on children’s classmates/teachers.

Delectable chocolates, sweet gestures and a hearty economic impact – you’ve got to love it.