Phil Hauck's TEC Blog

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sugar: The Very Costly Stealth Lobby

Not only is sugar the most addictive (and legal) “drug” extant and drives our national obesity epidemic, it’s also often ignored that because of the U.S. sugar lobby and cartel, Americans pay rates for sugar not lower, which you would think based on volume purchasing, but dramatically higher than the rest of the world.
By about 40% at a minimum!
It’s little known that until the 1900s, most of the federal budget dollars came from tariffs on imported goods. The sugar problem started in 1816 when high tariffs were imposed on imports to placate growers in the newly-acquired Louisiana territory. And they’ve been heavy ever since ... especially hiked during the Depression.
A 1998 study indicated that every U.S. sugar grower reaps an average of a $3 million benefit. At one point, sugar sold for 21 cents a pound in the U.S. when the world sugar price was 3 cents a pound.
This year, there has been more interesting developments, as the USDA began lowering quotas in response to sugar users who have heavy demand and feared the U.S. supplies would be insufficient.
An indication of the supply/demand squeeze: At mid-year, U.S. domestic sugar prices had increased 30% in the past 12 months to about 34 cents per pound ... while global prices were soaring to about 20 cents per pound.
This is the current situation, but the disparity isn’t unique. The U.S. quotas and tariff policies have been bolstered via the sugar lobby for decades ... and we as U.S. consumers have been paying the much higher price.

Being Entrepreneurial Older is Getting Better

According to a Duke University study of 549 successful technology startups, older entrepreneurs have higher success rates .. due to their greater accumulated expertise, deep knowledge of customer needs, and a larger network of supporters.
And, according to the Kauffman Foundation which studies business entrepreneurism, the highest rate of entrepreneurship in the U.S. has shifted to the 55-to-64 age group, with people over 55 twice as likely to found successful companies as those 20-to-34.
Other studies also suggest the dropoffs in creativity and productivity are happening much later in life than previously.

Where Wisconsin Rates Among Best, Worst States: 42nd

Chief Executive magazine, in its annual analysis of the best and worst states in which to do business, still ranks Wisconsin in the bottom 20% ... this year at 42nd compared to 43rd last year.
Here’s how we did:
• Taxation and Regulation: D (Bad)
• Workforce Quality: B+ (Good)
• Living Environment: B- (Okay)
• 2004-2008 GDP Growth (1 is highest): 40th. (Bad)
• 2000-2009 Population Growth (1 is highest): 30th (actually a loss). (Bad)
• State Debt/Resident (1 is lowest): 35th. (Bad)
• State/Local Govt. Employees/10,000 residents (1 is lowest): 6th. (Good).

Reflect Back To Your Customers

I appreciate a newsletter from marketing/branding specialist Steve Yastrow ( of Chicago. In a recent one, he reminded us of a Journal of Experimental Social Psychology article that said that when a restaurant server repeats your order back to you for confirmation, that tips were 68% higher than when he/she doesn’t.
Why? Several reasons based on the increased comfort that has resulted:
1. People like others who “verbally mimic” them.
2. It feels good that the server was unusually attentive and caring towards you.
3. People feel more “pro social behavior” after being mimicked.
It’s a matter of connection ... described in Neuro-Linquistic Programming ... via body language, laughing together, aligning moods, sharing language.
Implications: When you demonstrate that you have connected with what your customer says, as well as integrating the ideas and interests into your ongoing conversation, you build the relationship and the resulting trust, and increase the likelihood of an agreement.
Per Yastrow: “As Aristotle said, ‘The fool tells me his reasons. The wise man persuades me with my own.’”

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Zuckerman on Upgrading Skills

Mortimer Zuckerman penned this opinion in the Aug. 16 WSJ:
“If there is one great policy failure of this recession, it’s that we have not used the crisis to introduce structural reforms. For example, we have a gross mismatch of available skills and demonstrable needs. Millions drawing the dole to sit around should be in training for the jobs of the future that require higher education skills.
“Given that nearly eight in 10 new jobs, according to the administration, will require work-force training or higher education, it furthermore makes no sense that we have reversed the traditional American policy of welcoming skilled immigrants and integrated them into our economy. ... We send home thousands upon thousands of foreign students who have gotten masters and doctoral degrees in the hard sciences at American universities. These are people who create jobs, not replace them. The incorporation of immigrants used to be one of the core competencies of our economy. It’s time to return to that successful model.”

“Higher education is another critical issue. As President Obama pointed out recently, we have fallen from first to 12th in college graduation rates for young adults. The unemployment rate for those who have never gone to college is almost double what it is for those who have.”

QR Codes: A Coming Thing!

QR stands for Quick Response. You’ll soon begin seeing a very visible square of mish-mash designs near the bottom of product labels and advertisements. If you have the right App on your smartphone, you can snap a photo of this Q/R design, and it will take you instantly to a website providing more information about that product.
Or, it might be on the product itself, and will take you instantly to a set of maintenance instructions.
Or, a set of discount coupons for another product.
Although initially used for tracking parts in vehicle manufacturing, QR Codes are beginning to be used in much broader contexts, including commercial tracking applications and convenience-oriented applications workable by mobile phones. Most Japanese mobile phones, where the technique is fairly advanced, come with the capability built in.
QR Codes store web addresses, URLs, and phone numbers ... and may appear in magazine ads or articles, on signs, etc. ... just about any object about which users might want more information.
Users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader App (like optiscan or QR scan) can scan the image of the QR Code by taking a picture of the image, causing the phone's browser to launch and redirect to the programmed URL or phone number.
Users can also generate and print their own QR Code/image for customers/prospects to scan and use by visiting one of several free QR Code generating sites (known as QR Code Generators).
Google “QR Codes” and begin your journey.

What Must Wisconsin Do To Stimulate The Economy ...

One way of looking at it:
If creating jobs is so important, why aren’t our governments putting in place initiatives that will do so, with enthusiasm!
For several years back in the late 1980s, Wisconsin ranked in the top three states for job creation. Now, it is back to well back in the pack ... and more than a few companies have moved operations out of Wisconsin to other, more inviting states.
Why can’t we be one of those inviting states ... especially considering that wherever business people go, others extoll the virtues of the upper Midwest work ethic.
There are several factors that keep businesses from expanding here or moving here:
1. We are not a Right To Work State. We’re heavily unionized, and they don’t want to run their businesses with a third party approving decisions.
2. We’ve got higher business taxes than the others (14th highest).
3. It still takes too long (longer than elsewhere) to get permitting to build a facility here.
4. Energy costs are still high.
5. Other states are more aggressive with incentives.
For a good example, Google Texas’ initiatives (or Georgia’s) which are receiving much publicity lately and are yielding much relative job growth. Texas’ income is largely from a sales tax, because there is no state income or property tax, for instance.
Why is this important? According to Fred Monique, GB Chamber VP of economic development, here are the corporate priorities in selecting an epansion location:
Highest: Income tax ranking.
High: College attainment, Right to Work, Individual income tax ranking, and Business inventory tax.
Here in Wisconsin, business research and economic development groups have made strong recommendations that don’t get much attention ... despite lipservice by politicians.
Here’s the website of a very recent set of recommendations (Be Bold Wisconsin) by a very distinguished list of Wisconsin economic organizations:
The recommendations they are proposing can be a great set of questions for candidates this Fall.

Leadership Green Bay's Mission

LGB is a Green Bay Chamber initiative that provides a one-day-a-month course for ten months for people to understand Green Bay, how it works, and how to improve it. It's very popular, with many companies supporting key employees' participation.
Their Mission is very well done:
Challenge the Process.
Inspire a Shared Vision.
Enable Others To Act.
Encourage the Heart.
Model The Way

Change is as Simple as a Ladder

Dennis Rader, the incoming president of the Bay Area Community Council, a study group of which I'm a member in Green Bay, led a recent discussion on how to create a Visioning meeting regarding Brown County's future, and shared the following story:
Change is as Simple as a Ladder
• Have a Firm Foundation.
• Go one rung at a time.
• Maintain Balance.
• Be ready with an Extension so you can go further.
• Know where the Top is. It’s where you’re going
• Be Strong.
• Don’t make the journey too steep.
• People only see your behind, so make sure they know where you’re going.