Trying to Attract the Tourists

Unique tourism campaigns are nothing new. Governing magazine recently highlighted several:

As the saying goes, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. That’s exactly what South Dakota did with a new tourism approach a few years ago.

After hearing from focus groups across the country that the Dakotas were nothing more than a “barren wasteland,” the state tourism agency came up with a unique campaign angle: At least we’re not Mars, an actual barren wasteland.

The voiceover in a TV ad says: “Mars. The air: not breathable. The surface: cold and barren. … South Dakota. Progressive. Productive. And abundant in oxygen. Why die on Mars when you can live in South Dakota?”

Their efforts may have paid off: The state has had a record number of tourists in the past two years. 

Instagram on the Road

Last year, Minnesota decided to tackle the perception that the state is just a cold, snowy place by bringing its attractions to you. Really.

Explore Minnesota Tourism, the state’s tourism committee, created traveling photo booths featuring two of the state’s main attractions: the First Avenue music club, which was featured in the 1984 Prince movie Purple Rain, and scenes of the Minnesota outdoors.

The state set up the booths in cities across the country, ranging from Denver to Chicago to Kansas City, and modeled them after Instagram to encourage people to share their photos on social media.

The Prince booth came complete with a fog machine, purple lighting and a drum kit, while the other booth featured a canoe and a machine that generated morning mist and bird calls.

Come Get an Operation

San Diego doesn’t need to do much to convince people to visit: It has legendary beaches, a world-famous zoo and plenty of sunshine. Even so, the city is now betting it can convince tourists to get that elective surgery they’ve always wanted in between getting a tan or frolicking on the beach.

In 2017, city leaders launched DestinationCare San Diego, a public-private partnership to get more tourists to think of San Diego as a place to get medical care — and recover afterwards. The city hopes to compete with world-renowned medical destinations like the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota or the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

The city does have a strong medical sector. It’s home to the University of California health systems and Rady Children’s Hospital, which is ranked one of the best children’s hospitals in the country.

Freelancing Frenzy to Continue

(Originally published in smallbiztrends.com)

In the coming decade, the majority of workers in the U.S. are expected to be freelancers, according to a report from Edelman Intelligence.

The study surveyed 6,000 U.S. workers to determine changing working patterns and the impact freelancing will have on the future of working and employment practices in the U.S. This trend is being driven by the millennial generation, of which 47% currently freelance.

Technology is playing a huge role in changing workplace practices and ushering in the rise of freelancing, says Amy Sept, managing editor of the Upwork blog. According to the survey, 71% of freelancers said the work they acquired online has increased during the past year.

Despite income predictability being perceived as a barrier to freelancing, the report found 63% of freelancers believe working for a range of different clients, and therefore generating multiple income streams, is more secure than relying on one employer. Freelancers, on average, have 4.5 clients every month.

Savvy freelancers are also looking to the future, keen to learn new skills. The report found that 55% of freelancers took part in skills-related training, compared to just 30% of non-freelancers.

Airbnb’s Top Indiana Cities Revealed

In late 2017, Indianapolis was identified as a top trending American city for Airbnb. The company also announced that Indiana hosts welcomed approximately 175,000 arrivals in the past year – earning more than $20.7 million.

The 175,000 guest arrivals to Indiana via Airbnb represents 108% year-over-year growth. This comes as “Hoosiers increasingly embrace the home sharing platform as an opportunity to earn supplemental income and make ends meet.” There are now just under 3,600 Indiana hosts who share their homes via Airbnb, 37% of whom simply share an extra, unused room (i.e. empty nester).

The top Airbnb markets in Indiana in 2017:

  1. Indianapolis: 73,000 guest arrivals; $8.42 million in host income
  2. South Bend: 20,000; $2.89 million
  3. Bloomington: 16,800; $1.87 million
  4. Michigan City: 5,700; $867,300
  5. Fort Wayne: 4,250; $437,900
  6. West Lafayette: 3,050; $311,350
  7. Lafayette: 3,050; $383,500
  8. Nashville: 1,950; $207,700
  9. Fishers: 1,800; $200,600
  10. Evansville: 1,670; $163,700

These Students Are the ‘Major’ Switchers

(Published originally in Inside Higher Ed)

Almost a third of first-time college students choose a major and then change it at least once within three years, and students who started out in mathematics and the natural sciences are likelier than others to switch fields, federal data show.

The report from the National Center for Education Statistics, drawn from the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study, finds that 33 percent of bachelor’s degree pursuers who entered college in 2011-12 and 28 percent of students in associate degree programs had changed their major at least once by 2014. About one in 10 had changed majors twice.

Students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs were likelier than those in non-STEM fields (35 versus 29 percent) to change majors.

And students who started out studying math were likeliest of all: 52 percent of those who initially declared as math majors ended up majoring in something else, followed by 40 percent of those in the natural sciences, 37 percent in education, 36 percent in humanities disciplines and 32 percent in engineering and general studies.

math

What does it mean that math majors are likelier to leave their major than students in other fields? Given the marketplace demand for math majors (and students in other STEM fields), is it a problem that STEM majors are abandoning their majors at a greater rate than other students are?

Ed Venit, managing director of the student success collaborative at EAB, which published a study last year showing that students who changed majors graduate at a higher rate than those who don’t, said many students who plan to major in rigorous fields like math because they excelled in high school may find themselves “in a little over their head” in the college-level discipline.

Given employers’ strong demand for math majors and other students with strong quantitative skills, and by extension the desire among students to pursue such majors, it’s essential that educators seek ways to make those fields less off-putting to students – and not by reducing rigor, Venit said.

Michael Pearson, executive director of the Mathematical Association of America, acknowledged that math has sometimes been seen as a barrier to postsecondary success and that math educators were striving to improve instruction and the perceived relevance of the discipline.

But he noted that enrollments in math courses at all levels of education are up about 20 percent in the last five years, and said that the interest in graduates with strong quantitative skills was strengthening the “pervasiveness of mathematics.”

Pearson said he was inclined to attribute the large proportion of students leaving math for other fields more to the reality that college students “are exposed to new areas of study, like engineering, that don’t have nearly as much visibility in high school” than to a decision against math.

“I suspect they’re choosing to use their math skills in new ways,” he said.

Room to Improve in Financial Literacy

Financial literacy

Indiana receives a “C” on a report card evaluating how well high school students are taught financial skills.

The Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College issued the report card on how well the 50 states are doing at sending students out into the world knowing the basics of personal finance. John Pelletier, director of the Center, said while high school students need to know how to handle things such as checking accounts, investing and credit cards, if they plan on going to college, they will also need to know how a student loan works.

“Two-thirds or more of all students across the country are graduating with student debt, and yet we’re not giving them the skills and the foundational knowledge they need to handle that debt responsibly,” Pelletier said. “I think we kind of have a moral obligation to do that as a country.”

The report gave fewer than half the states the highest grades – an A or a B – for their financial curriculum, while 27 states earned a C, D or an F. Pelletier said states that earned the top grade require high school students to complete a comprehensive, stand-alone course on financial literacy.

He said only five states earned an A.

Pelletier said the Center’s studies found that many people reach a point in life where they wish they had learned more about handling money when they were younger.

“They’re asked about things that they wish they had been taught when they were in high school – many of them talk about personal finance,” he said. “So I think people regret this much younger than in their 40s or 50s. It can be a regret in their 30s, because we all make financial decisions that impact us.”

Pelletier said the study shows financial literacy is linked to positive outcomes such as wealth accumulation, stock market participation, retirement planning and avoiding high-cost financial services such as payday lending and auto title loans.

Maryland Puts Focus on Computer Science

One of the Indiana Chamber’s top legislative priorities for 2018 is to increase computer science (CS) requirements for K-12 students. In Maryland, several similar initiatives are taking place.

Governor Larry Hogan kicked off “Achieving Computer Science Collaborations for Employing Students Statewide” (ACCESS) just a few months after signing on for Governors for Computer Science, a partnership of state leaders that have committed to increasing access to K-12 CS education.

By executive order and proposed legislation, the governor hopes to improve job readiness for graduates and draw a more diversified workforce to computing jobs.

Currently, according to the governor’s office, Maryland has 115,000 CS-related jobs in-state, with almost 20,000 openings. Demand for CS workers is expected to grow by another 12 percent over the next decade. Yet, state colleges and universities graduated fewer than 3,000 CS majors in 2015, just a fifth of whom were female.

Maryland is home to several cyber-related federal government agencies and military installations, including the National Security Agency, the U.S. Cyber Command and the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence. The state has 1,200 private sector cybersecurity companies. And 17 Maryland universities, colleges and community colleges have been designated as national centers of academic excellence in cyber defense.

Governor Hogan’s Executive Order requested that the state’s Task Force on Cybersecurity and Information Technology study the development of pathways that meet targeted workforce needs in computing fields and identify new ways to promote gender and minority equity in the STEM and IT workforce. A report on the findings will be due in June 2018.

The governor also announced that he would support legislation during the 2018 General Assembly session to implement computer science standards statewide for K-12 students. The administration said it would work with the state’s teachers as well representatives from higher education and computer science organizations to develop those.

Additionally, the governor will be allocating $5 million to fund teacher professional development in CS and offer grants to districts and schools to create training models and equipment.

The governor also said his office would team up with Girls Who Code to launch the challenge, which would promote partnerships among state and local leaders, school districts, community organizations and industry to launch new clubs statewide. These clubs offer free after-school programs that allow female students in grades 6-12 grade to learn and apply CS to help their communities with the support of peers and role models.

Breaking Down the College Completion Numbers

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center has the numbers and Inside Higher Ed provides the analysis.

Almost 38 percent of students who began at a public two-year institution completed a degree in six years, according to a new study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center that tracked a cohort of students at public and private two- and four-year colleges and universities from 2011 to 2017.

Students who started at private four-year nonprofit institutions had the highest completion rates (76 percent), followed by students at public four-years (64.7 percent), public two-years (37.5 percent) and private four-year for-profits (35.3 percent).

Of public two-year college students who completed, about 70 percent did so at their starting institution, while approximately 30 percent completed at a different institution, according to the study.

Almost half of the students who began at a public two-year institution were no longer enrolled after six years, according to the study. About 15 percent were still enrolled. Rates of “stop out” –  students who had earned no degree or certificate, and had no enrollment activity during the final year of the study period –  were the highest (54.1 percent) at private four-year for-profit institutions, followed by public two-year institutions (47.3 percent).

Exclusively full-time public two-year students had the highest proportion of completions and lowest proportion of stop-outs, according to the study. The rate at which students were still enrolled after six years was higher among those with mixed enrollments than their full-time or part-time counterparts.

Of all students who started at public two-year institutions, about 15 percent completed at a four-year institution, including those who did so with and without receiving a two-year credential first.

Four Big Bad Sales Myths of 2018

Justin Jones, co-founder of the sales consulting firm Somersault Innovation, offers this perspective on approaching the sales profession in 2018.

Myth #1: Expertise is the Source of Our Credibility. Most of us are all too eager to demonstrate our product and business knowledge and quickly take control of a customer interaction to demonstrate expertise. We believe this will help our clients trust and buy from us. However, as Amy Cuddy finds in her recent book, Presence, competence is only part of what compels trust. And, it’s the lesser part!

Before clients consider our competence or expertise there’s something else they’re looking for: they’re looking for warmth. Are we real? Are we authentic? Unfortunately, the more we hammer our amazing expertise, the less authentic we appear.

I spoke the other day with an account management team from a leading mortgage technology firm, and here is how they approached a recent client meeting. They went in without an agenda except to talk with the customer about their business. The client responded by openly sharing information about two key initiatives that led to new opportunities. The team reported their delight in what felt like a “natural,” and “authentic” meeting and were eager to experiment with more clients.

Give less weight to expertise in your next meeting and see what happens.  

Myth #2: The Customer is Always Right. Today, our customers are much further along in their buying decision by the time we talk to them. This makes our job a lot harder because, thanks to many online resources, customers are much better informed and often have their eyes on a specific solution. But that doesn’t make them right, no matter how sophisticated a buyer they are.

If we slip into order-taking mode, we end up in commodity-ville, talking about a limited solution that can be easily compared to the competition.  However, if we press for more discovery we’re almost certain to find that the client’s definition of the problem is limited, or even incorrect. To the extent we can reframe the customer’s certainty and fixation, we graduate from “problem-solver” – just like every other vendor who calls on them –  to the more coveted and differentiated “problem finder” role.

Myth # 3: Big Data Will Save Us. The benefits of Big Data are all around us. AI and predictive analytics are already being used to make our lives easier. After clicking only once on an ad for online bedding retailer Brooklinen, they showed up on every site I frequent, making it easy to build a relationship, and, yes, place an order. Many of our clients are likewise experimenting with this technology to identify leads.

While this functionality is fantastic, we see it leading too often to limited engagements. Sales people are over-relying on data to close ready-made deals. In a fashion, they’re combining this myth with the previous two: they leverage data to quickly demonstrate their expertise in the specified areas and make a wrong assumption about the customer’s problem. The promise of big data is real, but only insofar as it’s used to enable greater problem finding – not quicker problem solving and selling.

Myth # 4: Focusing on Numbers Will Drive Revenue. This last myth is pervasive among both sales people and their managers. I understand the power of the maxim ‘What gets measured gets done.’ But we’ve taken this to an extreme such that sales managers and their teams spend an inordinate amount of time and emotional calories reporting on their pipelines. The unintended consequence: sales becomes dumbed down into a revenue drone. It’s no longer about our customers and the interesting things they’re doing with their businesses and how we can help them.

It’s about delivering our numbers – or at least paying lip service to doing so. The remedy for sales managers is as simple as asking your teams about the interesting things they’re seeing in their accounts. What’s something new they’ve learned from a customer? Which accounts are they feeling excited about and why? You’ll have a much clearer picture about progress in each account, and you’ll open up your conversations toward what really matters: how your business can help your clients solve their problems.

10 Gifts Great Leaders Give

Kris Taylor of K Taylor & Associates in Lafayette authored this holiday post as part of her Evergreen Leadership program. The “gifts” apply no matter the time of year.

I’ve worked with great leaders, mediocre leaders and one or two really poor leaders. I’ve done my work, to the best of my ability, with all of them. I’ve learned from all of them. Yet in reflecting back, the really great leaders gave me many great gifts.

These are the gifts that last over time. They are not very tangible but are always present. They’re gifts that altered the way I saw myself, or my situation, or the world around me – gifts that stuck, that keep on giving.

 I am eternally blessed by and grateful for these gifts.

  1. Confidence in my abilities, my potential, my judgment and my integrity
  2. Wisdom by sharing freely their truths, experiences and knowledge
  3. Mentoring and coaching to guide me to a better place, always challenging, at times seeing more in me than I could see myself
  4. Opportunities to test my skills and learn new ones, ones that pushed me further than I was comfortable with at the time
  5. Support for when I failed myself or others
  6. Unconditional respect even at my worst times
  7. Perspective and vision, especially when I wallowed in my narrow view of the situation
  8. Courage to do the things that are right, but not necessarily easy
  9. Focus on results insisting that I follow through, do what I was charged to do and to find ways to overcome the inevitable obstacles
  10. Navigation through the organization, helping me learn how these people in this place get work done

My challenge is this: rather than giving “things” this year, which of these 10 gifts might you give at work? At home? In your community?

Drop in College Students Continues

The bad news is that college enrollments for 2017-2018 declined for the sixth consecutive year. The good news is that the decrease came at its slowest pace in that time period.

Inside Higher Ed offered this upon reviewing the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center data.

The 1 percent decline (in fall 2017) was due to undergraduate enrollments, which fell by nearly 224,000 students, or 1.4 percent. Graduate and professional programs were up by 24,000 students, according to the center, which tracks 97 percent of students who attend degree-granting institutions that are eligible to receive federal financial aid.

And despite the recent focus by policy makers on associate degrees and certificates, four-year degree programs were the only ones up in the new enrollment data.

Among undergraduates, the center found an enrollment decrease of 2.3 percent for associate-degree seekers, and a 10.7 percent drop for students pursuing certificates or other nondegree credentials. But enrollments were up 1.5 percent among four-year-degree seekers.

Part-time-student enrollments fell by 3.3 percent, according to the report, while the number of full-time students increased by 0.3 percent.

The center also found that enrollments were down for first-time college students. This group saw a 2.3 percent decline, of 63,000 students, compared to the previous fall. Most of the decrease was due to adult students, with the number of first-time students over the age of 24 dropping by more than 13 percent. But 23,000 fewer traditional-age students enrolled in college this fall, a drop of 1 percent. (Adult student enrollments overall have declined by 1.5 million since 2010, the center found.)

“This suggests further declines to come overall in the years ahead, which will continue to present planning challenges for institutions and policy makers seeking to adapt to new economic and demographic realities,” said Doug Shapiro, the center’s executive research director.

For-profit colleges continue to be battered by sliding enrollments and revenue. The center found that 69,000 fewer students enrolled in four-year for-profit institutions this fall. That drop of 7.1 percent follows several years of even larger declines.

Community colleges have been the second-hardest-hit sector in recent years. But the enrollment decline of 1.7 percent this fall (97,000 students) was less than that of previous years, including the 4.4 percent drop in enrollment at community colleges three years ago.