Blinding Music Fans with Science

19188345Silence!

While I’m passionate about music, it’s rare that I don headphones and pop in a CD to inspire me during the workday. Perhaps I should change my tune.

Turns out there’s a melodious connection between music and productivity. Check out this Business Insider story to see – and hear – for yourself.

The story offers several approaches to boosting productivity. One involves choosing songs that feature sounds of nature:

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recently discovered that adding a natural element could boost moods and focus.

Sounds of nature can mask intelligible speech just as well as white noise while also enhancing cognitive functioning, optimizing the ability to concentrate and increasing overall worker satisfaction, the researchers found. The mountain stream sound researchers used in their study also possessed enough randomness that it didn’t distract test subjects.

Other examples include listening to songs you enjoy, songs you don’t really care about (the horror!), songs without lyrics, songs with a specific tempo and songs played at medium volume.

Let’s rock!

What’s in a Word? You’d Be Surprised

Metaphors are music to my ears. And puns? Forget about it! I love to playfully slip them into conversations. Reactions usually elicit delighted high-fives or bewilderment.

The good times really get rolling when history enters the picture. That’s why I’m so excited to share gems from a blog featuring 14 Expressions with Crazy Origins that You Would Never Have Guessed.

These idioms are especially fascinating:
Bite the bullet
Meaning: To accept something difficult or unpleasant
Origin: In the olden days, when doctors were short on anesthesia or time during a battle, they would ask the patient to bite down on a bullet to distract from the pain. The first recorded use of the phrase was in 1891 in The Light that Failed.
Mad as a hatter
Meaning: To be completely crazy
Origin: No, you didn’t already know this one, because it didn’t originate from Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Its origins date from the 17th and 18th centuries – well before Lewis Caroll’s book was published. In 17th century France, poisoning occurred among hat makers who used mercury for the hat felt. The “Mad Hatter Disease” was marked by shyness, irritability and tremors that would make the person appear “mad.”
Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater
Meaning: Don’t get rid of valuable things along with the unnecessary ones.
Origin: You won’t believe this one! In the early 1500s, people only bathed once a year. Not only that, but they also bathed in the same water without changing it! The adult males would bathe first, then the females, leaving the children and babies to go last. By the time the babies got in, the water was clouded with filth. The poor mothers had to take extra care that their babies were not thrown out with the bathwater.

Ontario Systems: Maximizing Its Chamber Investment Through Talent Recruitment

Lehman_JillGreat minds think alike.

Jill Lehman, vice president of administration and chief people officer at Ontario Systems (an Indiana Chamber member since 1992), views its collaboration with Indiana INTERNnet – an internship-matching program linking employers, students, high schools, colleges and universities – as a perfect fit.

Based in Muncie, Ontario Systems is a leading accounts receivable technology and services provider.

“Indiana has great students. It has great talent. We believe in trying to find that talent, keep that talent and grow that talent,” Lehman emphasizes. “Our mission is very similar to the mission of Indiana INTERNnet. It’s definitely something we want to be a part of.”

During a telephone conversation in July, Lehman raved about the 12 students participating in Ontario Systems’ summer internship program. Three were EARN Indiana-eligible. EARN (Employment Aid Readiness Network) is a partnership between Indiana INTERNnet and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education that allows employers to be reimbursed for up to 50% of their interns’ wages from the state.

Lehman’s take on the initiative? “It’s phenomenal.”

Ontario Systems’ summer interns included mainly college juniors, seniors and recent graduates. They gained experience in areas ranging from software engineering, client support, legal, human resources and marketing.

“We’re getting great ideas generated from the students as we look at different ways to approach how we do work and solve problems,” Lehman declares. “We’re really excited that our interns are wanting to continue their careers with us – whether it’s through part-time employment or full-time employment depending on where they’re at (college student vs. graduate). And we’re able to have quality jobs for them right here in Muncie, Indiana.”

Knox County ARC: Maximizing Chamber Investment Through Helplines

ODell_AmyKnox County ARC has 36 locations across the county, including five group homes, 25 waiver homes and several plants. Amy O’Dell, director of human resources, leverages Indiana Chamber membership to make sure HR operations are running smoothly.

The organization, which has been an Indiana Chamber since 1992, works with people who have developmental and intellectual disabilities, providing jobs/skills training, housing, and even school and preschool programs to the community.

To help O’Dell stay on top of industry regulations, she calls the Chamber at least once a quarter with HR questions.

“(I call when) I need to bounce ideas off someone else who understands where I am coming from with the HR laws and regulations,” O’Dell explains.

O’Dell notes that she has used the Chamber’s HR Helpline for everything from ordering posters to handling difficult staffing situations. She says Michelle Kavanaugh, human resources director at the Chamber, is like “an extension of the HR department.”

“I would recommend it because Michelle is very knowledgeable and has a lot of experience in HR, and I trust the feedback she gives me,” O’Dell remarks. “She is very willing to get on the phone and listen to all the details. She always has time to help.”

O’Dell has also used Chamber membership to attend conferences, at a discounted rate, that helped her gain additional training, including a workshop on the Family Medical Leave Act and the annual HR conference.

The Chamber’s helpline, though, may be a “best kept secret” for HR professionals, says O’Dell.

“It is something I use instead of calling an attorney right off the bat,” she explains. “It is definitely a huge resource to companies, so I hope they know it’s there and they utilize it.”

Sneaker Fans: Step Right Up!

What in the world is a Sneakerhead?

I hadn’t heard of the term until I stumbled upon this NPR story about a new exhibit that traces the history of sneakers. What a cool way to get your kicks!

Shoes of all shapes and sizes are on display at the Brooklyn Museum (future stops include Toledo, Ohio and Louisville):

The show begins with some of the first rubber shoes ever made. They were manufactured in Brazil and exported to America in the 1830s.

In the same case, there’s a crusty, brown, old canvas kick with a familiar shape. It’s a Converse All Star from 1917, the year that shoe was first produced. …

Every step here is shoe history. There’s a bizarre high-heeled sneaker from around 1925 and a TV ad for Keds from 1958.

One of the industry’s most famous designers, Chuck Taylor, hails from Columbus, Indiana. Special-edition Converse All Star Chuck Taylor sneakers featured an exclusive Columbus design last fall.

Share your memories on the fads that paved the way for today’s fashion. What were your favorites?

Behold the Power of Productivity

10061396Penny pinchers make every cent count. So do productivity pros – but their currency is time.

If you want to work smarter and faster, don’t waste another second! An Entrepreneur.com story reveals 11 things ultra-productive people do differently.

Among the techniques (if you kick off your mornings by “eating a frog,” you’re on the right track):

• They Get Ready for Tomorrow Before They Leave the Office
Productive people end each day by preparing for the next. This practice accomplishes two things: It helps you solidify what you’ve accomplished today, and it ensures you’ll have a productive tomorrow. It only takes a few minutes and it’s a great way to end your workday.
“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” – Benjamin Franklin
They Eat Frog
“Eating a frog” is the best antidote for procrastination, and ultra-productive people start each morning with this tasty treat. In other words, they do the least appetizing, most dreaded item on their to-do list before they do anything else. After that, they’re freed up to tackle the stuff that excites and inspires them.
They Go Off The Grid
Don’t be afraid to go off grid when you need to. Give one trusted person a number to call in case of emergency, and let that person be your filter. Everything has to go through them, and anything they don’t clear has to wait. This strategy is a bulletproof way to complete high-priority projects.

“One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.” – Charles Richards

Good tips. Good intentions. Good luck!

Steinberger Construction: Maximing Chamber Investment Through Employee Wellness

Blayne-HammelSteinberger Construction began building a wellness program nearly a decade ago, but its partnership with the Wellness Council of Indiana (WCI) is adding to its success.

WCI members can take advantage of benefits such as coaching, discounts on educational training, networking opportunities and more.

In 2014, Logansport-based Steinberger Construction (which focuses mainly on steel and concrete work) earned Three-Star certification through the WCI’s AchieveWELL workplace analysis and recognition program. It has three levels: Three-Star, Four Star and Five Star.

“For us, that’s where we stepped up our wellness initiative and kind of refocused our goals,” explains safety and wellness director Blayne Hammel. “The main thing I feel they helped us do was utilize our data (related to health risk assessments and biometric screenings, for instance) more efficiently.”

He also values networking at Connect and Collaborate luncheons (the 2014 statewide tour, which stopped in eight cities, emphasized wellness), employee training and the opportunity to seek guidance from WCI executive director Chuck Gillespie.

“We started a monthly wellness newsletter, and he helped us develop our focus,” Hammel comments. “Typically, when people think about wellness, they think about nutrition and staying fit, but don’t really look at the financial wellness portion of it and stress management options. Utilizing that for some of our articles has been great.”

MDWise, Inc.: Maximizing Chamber Investment Through Employee Training

Lux_LindseyAre great leaders born or made? The answer is simple: Great leaders are “made” – and embracing learning opportunities is a key step.

The Indiana Chamber’s annual Human Resources Conference & Expo provides a variety of tools to boost leadership skills. Lindsey Lux, a regular attendee, enjoys the panel discussions, legal updates and collaboration with fellow HR professionals.

Lux is vice president of operations at MDwise — an Indiana Chamber member since 2007. Headquartered in Indianapolis, the Indiana nonprofit health insurance company is focused on giving uninsured and underserved Hoosiers the compassionate service and care they want and need.

“The legal presenters at the conference have given interesting presentations with real-world applicability,” she comments. “The conference is the best in Indiana to earn strategic recertification credits necessary to maintain my SPHR (senior professional in human resources).”

Lux participated in a focus group with other past attendees regarding ways to enhance the event.

“Most conferences ask you to complete a satisfaction survey once you are finished. This is the first time I’ve been asked to discuss (my input) face-to-face with attendees,” she emphasizes.

Reflecting on an especially memorable experience at the Human Resources Conference, Lux describes a session about leadership development.

“I walked away with a workbook full of information after having clearly identified my values, my company strategy, goals, etc.,” she recalls. “It’s nice to leave a session feeling empowered to improve in areas as an individual and as an organization.”

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.”