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.”

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

????????????????????????????????????

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.