Phil Hauck's TEC Blog

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Great Quotes by TEC Members

• Bob Atwell, CEO, Nicolet National Bank
"The CEO is uniquely unqualified to solve his own problems."
"Dealing with the elephant in the room is necessary for both good leaders and good businesses."
• Jeff Rafn, CEO, Northeast Wisconsin Technical Institute
"I want to help everyone get to being an 'A' Player."
• Tim Weyenberg, CEO, The Foth Group
"The best way to take control of the organization is to give control up. It allows unencumbered growth."
• John Hemken, CEO, TBL Holdings
"Character-Building stinks."
• Ben Grigg, CEO, Aarrowcast
"As a Follower, you're never wrong. As a Leader, you're rarely right."
• Randy Rose, CEO, Enzymatic Therapy
"It's critical to move from Fixing Problems to Leading The Organization."
• Mitch Weckop, CEO, Skyline Technologies
"Change is like pulling a band-aid from a hairy arm. It's much better to zip it."
• Sam Khoury, an operations consultant to a TEC member:
Principles of employee engagement: -- Perform ... 100% of the time! -- If you make the same mistake twice, there is a penalty. -- Reports have to be succinct, very succinct. Did we or didn’t we? What info do we need to have to make a correction. -- Tough Love. Firm, but Appreciative! -- If I’ve asked you to provide me something, I’ll respond to it almost immediately. That means I adjust my schedule to be available when you will be providing it to me. -- If I show I CARE, they’ll walk over coals to make it happen.
The result, said the TEC member, is both Focus and Precision improved, as then did Attitudes.
• Jeff Shefchik, CEO, PTi Trucking
"Salespeople are coin-operated."
• Lee Bouche, CEO, Employee Resource Center
"Little pigs are cute. Big pigs get slaughtered."

Takeaways from a Green Bay Chamber panel on Marketing

• Biggest Gift: Ask "How can I help YOU?" Then, Listen!
• Have a Blog. Be seen as a "thought leader" voice in your space. People will come.
• Get past the Press Release flood by calling or emailing the appropriate editor to expect it, and explain briefly why it's important. It will implant it in his/her mind.
• If you have a public crisis, provide information immediately: What happened. Why it happened. What you're doing about it.
• People don't care WHO you are, until they know what you can DO for them.
• Get your whole team involved in marketing discussions so they're invested. Then, they'll think about it more continuously.
• Have different marketing thrusts for each marketplace you have: Prospects. Expanding Client and Prospect horizons. Keeping Clients and Prospects informed, up-to-date.

On the BUSINESS of the Green Bay Packers

By Andrew Brandt, former chief negotiator for the Packers to a St. Norbert CEO B'fast & Strategy session:
• The football side is very immediate. The business side is not. My job in negotiating player contracts was to be the caution. We never want to pay retail, to let the contract status get to the point where the player has the most leverage. Also, we want to have players in the pipeline because free agency is typically not a productive use of dollars ... with exceptions like Reggie White.
• Aaron Rodgers: "Off the charts intelligence, a natural leader, perfect temperament, great sense of humor, great arm, and quickness."
• "Look for individuals who influence positively the character of the team. People like Aaron Kampman, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones and Charles Woodson. Character makes a difference in this league."

On Servant Leadership

By Tom Thibodeaux, who teaches the topic at Viterbo University in Milwaukee, to a Festival Foods-sponsored audience in November:
• Slowing down allows great thinking.
• Can your employees tell if you're "All In"? Or not?
• Leadership is holding people accountable for achieving a greater good!"
• The greatest gift you can give someone is your 100% attention!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lots More on Fitness as the route to Health Cost Savings

Most of you know that I'm hung up on the problems within the sick care and health insurance agencies ... that are driving our costs up so well. I'm also hung up on the idea that if a person reverses their un-healthy lifestyles (also known as habits) and practices Daily Fitness, that they are on the road to dealing with this personal and national problem.
Recently, I have had an opportunity to listen to several people whom I think are truly on top of this ... people within the industries. Here are the messages that I heard. Please take time to read them. They're important.

Andrew Sykes: More Insights Into Fitness and Health Care ...
The "guru" who has guided much of what we are doing as a Co-op is Andrew Sykes, a TEC Special Interest Meeting on Sept. 15, and came away with these notes:
• Is your objective as an employer simply to lower health insurance costs? If so, DON'T include Wellness thrusts as part of your solution! There are cheaper ways to do that, primarily involving shifting more and more of the responsibility to employees, which is the major national (and appropriate) solution, anyway.
(Side note: Almost everywhere you look, the intrusion "third parties" with their self-interest and not yours primary, has resulted in uncontrollable higher cost trends. Look well beyond health care, even. Yes,you'll hit some political land mines.)
• Health Insurance doesn't make you healthy! You have to have initiatives beyond that, that will ALWAYS primarily focus on nutrition, volume and exercise, not prescription drugs. The latter are the secondary solution because we keep rejecting the uncomfortable primary solution. 5% of the world consumes 50% of prescription drugs ... AND their SIDE EFFECTS.
• Poor health is a result of: The Less-Controllables of Genetics, 20%, and incompetent sick care, 10%. The Controllables of Habits, 50%, and the Environment we pick and allow, 20%. Regarding the Environment, because we don't easily recognize our bad habits because they ARE habits, they are often "mimic-ing" those around us. If our friends and/or family aren't active, we won't be. If they eat badly, so will we.
• Our main culprit is SUGAR! (Bar any sugar drink from your home and your office vending machine!)
• Exercise: There is no better drug to reduce such a wide range of ills. One hour of active exercise gets you two hours more of higher productivity. Your kids? Kids who exercise regularly have higher math scores, for starters!
• Exercise: If you exercise, such critical soft skills as Decision-Making and Managerial Skills are all more effective.
• It's better to be FIT and have a risk factor, than to be UN-FIT (but "Healthy") with no risk factors.
• Education is the LEAST EFFECTIVE contributor to behavior change ... although it's an essential part of a System. A Fitness Mentality will drive all the behavior change you need. It leads to all the other critical factors, such as better eating, sleep, education, etc.
• Generally, Nurses and Teachers are very unhealthy, because they put others ahead of their self ... even though if they were "FIT," they would be even more effective.
• Never allow self-reporting within Health Risk Assessments. If renders them invalid for any comparison or improvement purposes.
• Wellness Incentives: Mostly they are costly ... when you could get the behavior you want for free.
• PS: Never use Cash. It's worth only its face value to the receiver. Instead, give them choices so they can pick something that's even more valuable to them.

Dr. Paul Summerside, CEO of Aurora BayCare, and CMO of BayCare, to a Healthy Lifestyles Co-op Board Meeting on Sept. 26:
Aurora BayCare's Philosophies regarding Fitness and Wellness
• In regard to Fitness/Wellness of their employee group (about 450 at BayCare), they take the position, as the Co-op does but even more forcefully, that "It's All About Nutrition and Fitness." If a person does the right things in those areas, all the other benefits will follow and they will need the medical system services, including prescriptions, at a bare minimum. Thus, they incent for Fitness ... and evaluate QUARTERLY employees on a range of fitness performance elements ... situps, pushups, step test for aerobics, and the like, with performance thresholds adjusted for age. The poorer a person does, the more they will pay for their health insurance plan ... but they have a chance QUARTERLY to show they are more fit, and earn a lower premium.
• "Trying doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is success."
• As an employer, "if you don't change the actuarial metrics of your employees, don't expect any insurance cost improvements."
• As an employer, "we feel the responsibility to put in place programs and incentives that help them achieve success in these areas. But we will reward only on achievement, not 'trying.'"
• "People have to know in advance what they'll be measured on, and the consequences. The tests have to be reasonable and achievable, and easy to understand."
• There are FIVE AREAS you have to impact: OBESITY, EXERCISE, SMOKING, ALCOHOL in moderation, and SEAT BELT USE.
• From a medical cost standpoint, this is what you are dealing with relative to norms:
-- Obesity will cost you about 40% more.
-- Smoking will cost you about 10% more.
-- Exercise will reduce your costs 10%-15%.
• Of interest, even though they are a medical organization, they don't include Health Risk Assessments as part of their program. They feel that the knowledge gained about risk factors in an HRA should be already known and worked on with a physician, and that it drives higher costs through use of drugs to control risks ... rather than a better lifestyle to do it (nutrition, volume, vigorous exercise).

Toussaint of Center for Healthcare Value
Recently, I had the opportunity to hear John Toussaint, former CEO of ThedaCare and now running the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value, which fosters research on improvements in medical system processes. Among his points:
• The objective has to be three-fold: Driving Costs Down, and Improving Quality Metrics and Staff Morale.
• We use Lean techniques to achieve the improvement results we need from a system that is both Unreliable and High Cost. Our objective is to Create Value for the Customer, while not Overburdening Staff and Physicians. We will do that through Improved Processes.
• Our current processes are perfectly set up to obtain the poor results that we do.
• Pharmacists are rarely part of the conversation. They're typically in the basement counting pills. Yet, they are usually the second-most trained person on a medical team. So, we are elevating them to full partners in the initial conversation with patients about their continuum of care.
• 60% of our cost is people, so it's about improving productivity. We've improved Operating Room Technician productivity by 30% by reducing their extra activities and distances. In one type of operation, we've reduced the cost to $5800 from $7800.
• Our objective is to create a Single Plan of Care. At a patient's admission, we convene a meeting of the Physician, Nurse and Pharmacist with the Patient to discuss what will happen. Regarding drug therapies, after explaining what each drug will do, we ask the Patient to explain what each is to do to be certain he/she understands and has buy-in.
• He's also involved with the Partnership for Health Care Payment Reform, whose charge is to incent the right behavior by the medical community. (Which means replacing Fee for Service, which incents volume, with a Value-Based method. As an indication of the degree of the problem, he said that for a Knee Joint Repair episode, the highest cost in the state is $55,000 and the lowest for the same episode is $10,000. "Something's wrong!" The Partnership is looking at one Acute Care (Knee Joint Replacement) and one Chronic Care (Diabetes) example to develop a Value-Based approach.
• Major statement: "If you look at the improvements we are seeing from an efficiency standpoint, I think we can potentially work well at Medicare payment levels."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

From George Will (minorily paraphrased) ...

"From Greece to California, with manifestations in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Illinois and elsewhere, we have a demonstration of where a "dependency agenda" will take us ... more and more people depending on government largesse, supported by an increasingly smaller tax base. It also is imposing huge costs on voiceless future generations."
This isn't meant to say that we don't need government support for those who can't take care of themselves; it does mean that there are limits ... and it is evident that 23%-25% of GDP is past the limit. There is much support that it has to be in the 19%-21% range. We need to get back to that.

State Cost and Quality Reports by Provider

While Co-op members have access to Humana claims information, that isn't the only cost reporting source available to us ... though it's probably the best.
The Wisconsin Collaborative for Health Care Quality has great information, too at
It confirms again that Green Bay is a higher cost area than are other areas of the state, heading south.
For instance, looking at knee replacements, I can learn the following ... altho the data isn't that recent (2009):
Prevea/St. Mary's and Prevea/St. Vincent's are about $39,000, but Bellin was at $31,000.
But going elsewhere, here's what I would pay:
In Appleton, both Theda Clark and Appleton Medical Center would charge about $24,000.
University of Wisconsin Hospital, Madison, is $29,600.
Milwaukee is equal or higher than Green Bay, but Racine isn't: Wheaton Franciscan is at $27,000.

How about baby deliveries (normal vaginal deliveries):
Bellin is $4200, Prevea/St. Mary's $4600 and Prevea/St. Vincent's $5100.
But in Appleton, both Theda Clark and Appleton Medical Center are about $3500.
Milwaukee and Madison are equal to Green Bay or much higher.

Bellin is $13,000, Prevea/St. Mary's $14,000 and Prevea/St. Vincent's $17,000.
In Appleton, Appleton Medical Center is $10,000 and Theda Clark is $12,000.
The rest of the state is higher.

There are about 50 other QUALITY measures as well.

There's an important reason to ask for public disclosure of these Quality and Cost performances: Studies show that when public disclosure occurs, provider systems are much more aggressive in instituting systems that will improve quality and lower cost. Seems intuitive ... but without public disclosure, it doesn't happen!

Is public disclosure new to health provider systems? Hardly. For great examples, go to Norton Healthcare, Kentucky's largest health system (, and Integris Health, Okahoma's largest (

More on Immigration

A survey of the student finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search of high schoolers found that 70% were the children of immigrants. Remarkably, some 60% of the parents had entered the U.S. on H-1B visas, the ones for highly skilled workers brought in by companies. The annual allotment of H-1Bs is a mere 65,000 annually, well down from the 120,000+ authorized before 9/11.
Another survey showed that many U.S.-educated foreigners are returning home to found businesses; they find the atmosphere and potential greater back home, they say.
Unfortunately, the widespread publicity regarding "closing the borders" yields a backlash against other immigration opportunities as well. These well-educated don't feel very welcome, either. This is not a growth policy.

On China's Economic Development Planning: The U.S. is doing its part ...

"Over the last 10 years,the Institute of Biophysics, an arm of the Chinese Academy of Science, has received very significant investment by the Chinese government. Today it consists of more than 3,000 talented scientists focused on doing world-class research in areas such as protein science, and brain and cognitive sciences.
"We also visited the new Shanghai Advanced Research Institute, another arm of the Chinese Academy of Science. This gigantic science and technology park is under construction and today consists of four buildings, but it will grow to over 60 buildings on a large piece of land equivalent to about a third of a square mile. It is being staffed by Ph.D.-caliber researchers. Their goal statement is fairly straightforward: 'To be a pioneer in the development of new technologies relevant to business.'
All of the various institutes being run by the Chinese Academy of Science are going to be significantly increased in size, and staffing will be aided by a new recruiting program called 'Ten Thousand Talents.' This is an effort by the Chinese government to reach out to Chinese individuals who have been trained and currently reside outside China. They are focusing on those who are world class in their technical abilities, primarily at the Ph.D. level, at work in various universities and science institutes abroad. In each year of this new five-year plan, the goal is to recruit 2,000 of these individuals to return to China ..."
-- By Robert Herbold, former COO of Microsoft, in The Wall Street Journal, 7/9/11.

On Oil Vs. CREDIBLE Alternatives ...

"The 12 members of OPEC control roughly 78% of the world's oil reserves yet account for just a third of daily global production. Still, controlling that amount of production enables them to set the global price. How? If nonmembers produce more, OPEC simply produces less. And when governments introduce policies like higher CAFE standards designed to decrease consumption, OPEC members again scale back production to maintain the price of their choice. In short, we can't conserve our way out of this dilemma.
"The only lasting way to overcome a monopoly -- such as oil enjoys in the global transportation sector -- is to introduce competition. Fortunately, there is good news on that front. Over the past two decades, a variety of alternative fuels have become economically viable without subsidies. These include methanol made from natural gas, coal, or biomass; sugarcane ethanol; biodiesel and electricity to drive plug-in hybrid or electric cars. These technologies are proven and scalable, and the liquid fuels operate smoothly in conventional vehicles after about $100 per car modification on the assembly line. What is needed is to ramp up their production so that they are available when you go to the pump.
"Thirty years ago, the government of Brazil decided that it didn't want its people held hostage to OPEC, and it embarked on a program to develop sugar-ethanol as an alternative fuel. Today, 90% of new cars produced in Brazil are flex-fuel --- able to burn gasoline or alcohol or any combination of the two. Most of the flex-fuel cars sold there are produced by Ford, Chrysler and GM. And today, Brazil is self-sufficient with a choice of fuels. Indeed, Brazil exports both oil and ethanol."
-- By Robert McFarlane, former US national security advisor, in The Wall Street Journal, 7/9/11.

Start With Why!!

I commend to you a great 18.5 minute YouTube video by Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why (go to YouTube and search for those words), which has impacted my thinking ... and my work with my TEC and Senior Marketers Group members ... greatly!
So, as someone asked, "Why 'Why'?" Because 'Why' is emotional, and emotion drives behavior. If we can express what we do FOR our target customer or employee in emotional/'Why' terms, then it's much, much easier for those words/feelings to initiate behavior ... doing business with us or wanting to work for us!
USUALLY, we answer 'Why' in terms of 'How' and 'What' ... neither of which is emotional, but is much easier to describe. The 'How' is the things we do that bring value, and the 'What' is the value that the recipient (customer or employee) receives from the 'doing.' That's how we usually respond to questions about 'What are you all about?' We explain in non-emotional terms of what we do and what the result can be.
INSTEAD: Think through the feeling/emotion that makes the recipient truly "feel good/relieved/happy" as a result of your 'Hows' and 'Whats." It's NOT EASY!
But if you can get close to it, and be able to articulate it in words ... then you're closer to a much more impactful Mantra that more quickly gets your target prospects to use you!
Example: Apple and Microsoft. Microsoft is about "great products that make work easy." Apple is about "connecting you with ideas and people around the globe." Which is more powerful, more emotional, more uplifting? See?
If you like the YouTube video, you can buy the book.

Alert: August 20 is Lemonade Freedom Day!

Even kids' Lemonade stands have felt the impact of restrictive regulations. As a general rebellion against non-sensical over-regulation, a group of people have declared Saturday, August 20, to be Lemonade Freedom Day ... and are urging kids all over the U.S. to sell lemonade that day.
If you go to the website (, you will see a map with pins in it denoting locations that have regulations that control lemonade stands ... typically vendor permits or health inspections. (One of them is Appleton.) It also includes guidance for you to follow if someone tries to shut down your lemonade stand.
On August 20th, pledge to buy a lemonade from every kid with a stand that you see!!
PS: Appleton's event, according to the website: Appleton hosts an Old Car Show every year near Lydia Coenen's house. The nine-year-old and her friend have been selling lemonade and cookies to passersby for the last several years. This year, they were shut down by police. Vendors inside the car show didn’t appreciate the competition, so they convinced the city council to ban concession sales within a certain radius of the Old Car Show, putting young Lydia and her friend out of business.

Some more data:
• The cost of FEDERAL REGULATIONS is estimated at $1.8 trillion.
• The FEDERAL spending budget for the year ending in September will be $3.8 trillion, of which $1.5 trillion will be deficit.
• STATE/LOCAL government spending will total $1.6 trillion.
• The U.S. GDP will be about $15 trillion.
So ...
• The deficit will be increased by $1.5 trillion, making total U.S. debt about $15 trillion, equal to the GDP.
• Federal spending will be just over 25% of GDP ... the tipping point for countries that aren't resilient to economic shocks.
• Total government spending (federal/state/local) will be $5.4 trillion, or 36% of GDP. Regulations add 12% more.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Short Items ...

Retirement Savings: It's About Leadership!
Worker retirement saving is actually dropping, not increasing ... even though regular savings rates have skyrocketed.
According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, during the 2009 recession, 35% of workers weren't saving anything for retirement. Now 41% aren't. Of workers offered a retirement savings plan at work, 21% don't participate, up from 19% in 2009.
If leaders promote it, workers will do a better job.
Good News: What's coming is the Auto-IRA ... a required vehicle in which every worker will put savings, matchable by an employer if desired, starting with your first real job. It'll be YOUR ACCOUNT, with investments directed by you from a limited selection, available to you when you retire. (A worker can "opt out," but if he doesn't, it applies.) No, it won't be an option. It will be government policy in a year or two ... as the supplement/replacement(?) for social security. Thanks to Michael Kiley, CEO of PAi, DePere, who has been part of the DC group developing it.

Oil & Gas Industry Tax Breaks
There has been controversy about whether deficit reduction should include these. But what are they? Fortune magazine explains:
"For example, they are allowed to deduct 'intangible drilling costs' -- including labor and drilling fluids - the moment a well is tapped (even it proves to be dry). And then there's the 'depletion allowance,' which allows certain extractors to shelter around 15% of a well's production from the IRS. And deductions for royalties paid to foreign governments. And the oil and gas liability cap that remains at just $75 million, more than a year after the BP rig explosion. Then there's Section 199, which allows profitable oil and gas companies to deduct 6% of net income."

The World's Power Is Shifting Fast
In the last two decades, "more than 2 billion men and women have joined the ranks of industrial producers, trebling the size of the world's industrial economy. This year, for the first time in history, both America and Europe are being outproduced, out-manufactured, out-exported, and out-invested by the rest of the world. The corollary of this change is that the next 20 years will also see another worldwide revolution, this time in consumerism, and it will be dominated by Asian workers, who will treble the world's middle class."
--- Gordon Brown, writing on

Your Strategic Positioning Statement

In eight words or less, you need to tell:
1. What you do.
2. What's in it for your customers.
-- Simon Mundell, Vistage Speaker


Here are Apple's "steps of service" for employees of their Apple retail stores:
A: Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome.
P: Probe politely to understand all the customer's needs.
P: Present a solution for the customer to take home today.
L: Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns.
E: End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.
(WSJ, 6/15/11)

Increased Choice ... not Decreased Choice!

"When given real choice, especially the choice to go elsewhere, consumers will drop even the most beloved of brands for options that enhance their experience and increase their autonomy. We have all witnessed and participatedin this revolutionary transfer of loyalty away from those who tell us what we should buy or think (monopolists) and toward those who give us tools to think and act for ourselves. No corner of the economy, of cultural life, or even of our personal lives hasn't felt the gale-force winds of this change.
"Except government.
"At a time when governments at every level have run out of money, the smart politicians will figure out how to unbundle policy options and speed up the sort of innovations that has made most areas of our lives better than they were 40 years ago.
"And the dumb politicians? They'll go the way of Kodak."
-- Nick Gillespie, Matt Welch, Wall Street Journal (6/18/11)

Outsourcing/Global Trade: To Be Embraced

Congress keeps getting askew from the understanding that trade and outsourcing is fairly critical to income growth. Perhaps not enough people truly understand why.

Two points: First, we can not easily increase the net worth of an area (say, Brown County, Northeast Wisconsin or Wisconsin) by selling to our fellow citizens within it. We best increase net worth by adding value to our products here and selling them to people outside our area (the U.S. or globally), and bringing that value added payment back to us. It can then be spent to increase our quality of life, or be reinvested in the form of higher wages and more jobs. So, it is imperative that we sell globally. Today, 8% of Wisconsin's jobs are due to global business (16% of manufacturing jobs). That's why we need free trade agreements with other countries.
Second, reflect back to the Law of Comparative Advantage that you learned in economics. Other countries now have greater skills and lower costs than we do in producing some types of goods needed globally. That's how and why they are growing and creating jobs. We are berated for "outsourcing" these jobs. They have a "comparative advantage" which "logic requires" that the work be done by them. Our charge is to develop skill and cost levels that "logically require" "in-sourcing" into Brown County, Northeast Wisconsin and Wisconsin. That's why NWTC and job training tax credits/grants are so important. Arguing for protectionism is counter-productive; it creates retaliation and reduced value, which we see time and time again.
This is one area where government spending benefits society ... by re-training employees to be better able to compete in the next era.

Green Bay ranks 121 out of 188 in Gallup's Well-Being Index

Boulder, Colorado, got a lot of publicity recently as being the nation's #1 Happiest city based on an ongoing Gallup Poll that rates attitudes and lifestyle behaviors to create a Well-Being Index. Boulder's main behavior that got them the #1 ranking was its citizens' commitment to fitness activities ... an active lifestyle whether intense or just fast walking.
So, where does Green Bay rank? It is ranked: #121 out of 188 cities. Madison was #6, Milwaukee #103. In 2009 we ranked 104.
Here's how we did:
2010 2009
Overall Rank 121 104
Life Evaluation 179 149
Emotional Health 23 33
Physical Health 52 25
Healthy Behavior 124 84
Work Environment 127 148
Basic Access 8 52
What dragged us down, obviously, is Life Evaluation. Here's how that is defined: It's a self-evaluation of two items: Present Life Situation, and Anticipated Life Situation 5 years from now.
Work Environment: Perceptions of four items ... job satisfaction, ability to use one's strengths, supervisor's treatment, and supervisor creates open/trusting work environment.
It would appear that our companies need to work on creating an improved work environment focusing on engaging and empowering employees.
It publishes its national index monthly.
For more information:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Best/Worst States for Business

CEO Magazine just completed its annual survey of CEOs as to where they think the best states for job creation are. Wisconsin in the past year jumped from 41st last year to 24th this year, the biggest improvement of any state. Texas and North Carolina remained in the top two spots ... and Illinois, which increased its tax rates on both businesses and individuals, has now dropped 45 spots in the last five years, ranking in the bottom three with California and New York, all of which continue to pass regulations and tax rates which drive job creation from their states. Also, anything which makes it harder to hire or discipline or fire a worker works against a company's decision to expand in that state, the article said.

More on Mortgages

Wall Street Journal Op Ed Contributor Arkadi Kuhlmann on April 11:
When banks have an incentive to keep loans on their own books, they are more likely to impose stricter standards on their borrowers. They are also more likely to work with borrowers to help them fulfill their obligations. The result is homeowners acquiring more equity in their homes, and fewer defaulted mortgages ...
A successful model exists to our north. In Canada, the interest on mortgages is not tax deductible, which gives homeowners good reason to pay down their principal as quickly as possible. Canadian banks also hold about 75% of their loans on their books, which encourages more prudent lending. Thanks to such policies, just 1% of Canadian mortgages are currently in foreclosure or delinquent, compared to about 14% of American mortgages. The Canadian real estate market has already rebounded above pre-recession levels.

Humana CEO: We Need To Get Our Employees Healthier, Fitter!

In a recent Fortune magazine interview, Humana CEO Michael McCallister said that finessing health insurance has reached its limit. Now, "we've focused our future on the idea of health, wellness and well-being because we know that's where this has to go next.
"As large employers sit down and think about their health costs ... they're really going to have to step up and address the underlying health of their employees, not only because of costs but also from the standpoint of productivity and absenteeism."
On Small Employers: They've "done the math on the future. They'll have to confront decisions based on the culture of their company and the importance of this benefit to their employees. But I can tell you the pressure and the bias will be to drop it (group health insurance)."
On Humana's Future Emphasis: "This idea around helping people get to a better spot from the standpoint of well-being is what's going to drive us, and we think that's a business for us. We're even trying to change the language -- instead of ROI ... Return on Well-being. We're trying to find ways to motivate behavior change. We're going to bring in incentives and rewards and a lot of things from the rest of the economy to get people to think differently -- about their interaction with the system and the way they take care of themselves."
Humana recently bought a company called Concentra, which operates worksite wellness at 200 locations, plus urgent care and some primary care. "I study my own population (35,000 employees and their families) in terms of their body mass index, their weight, smoking rates, and all that. We still have a lot of work to do. This is hard work because it really, fundamentally, requires a change in how people think."
More of his insights:
• On ObamaCare: "The biggest takeaway from the bill is, it doesn't do much fundamentally to help with the underlying problem, which is that costs are too high and are rising too fast."
• 'In health care, we not only tolerate bad service and bad products, we pay for them every single day without knowing any better. We've got a third party payment system where the payer is in a different froom from the seller and the buyer, and it sets up a perfect storm for inflation."
• "We're not taking care of ourselves. We're becoming an obese nation, leading to diabetes and other chronic illnesses. A lot of medical spending is tied to five chronic illnesses (diabetes, strokes, heart disease, pulmonary conditions, and hypertension), all of which are preventable. People don't really connect the dots when they think about why health care costs are going up."
• "30% of our kids are overweight or obese already, so we have another tranche of folks coming along who are going to suffer the same thing."

Teachers Union Leader on Dedication to Schoolchildren

Albert Shanker was head of the New York City teachers union several decades ago, and then head of the United Federation of Teachers: "When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of schoolchildren." Indeed, I have had several conversations with attorneys who represented school boards in negotiations with WEAC representatives, and each tells a story when the WEAC representatives have said similar things. Their allegiance is to the teacher, not to education of our children, despite their public words.
Not really being helpful.

Political: Importance of Training To Boost Income Potential

Fortune Magazine columnist Geoff Colvin: "Too few people now pay most of the country's bills. It could also symbolize the solution. The best news for the bottom half of earners will be when they're making a larger share of the nation's total income -- and paying more taxes."
Again, the argument for encouraging/incenting people to upgrade their skills ... using such resources as the Technical College system!

On the Value of Employee Benefits

"95% of my company assets drive out the front gate every night," says SAS CEO Jim Goodnight. "My job is to bring them back the next morning."
That's why his company, located in the Research Triangle in North Carolina, has lots of perks for its employees, so useful that the ratio of applicants to open positions for "white collar" jobs is 70-1. Many of the benefits acknowledge that if employees work hard all day, they don't have a chance to fulfill normal daily chores ... so it brings fulfillment of those chores to the workplace .. things like day care, barbers, massages, dry cleaning, and personal banking.

On ILLEGAL Immigration

My interest here has to this point been on LEGAL immigration, as I chaired a study by the Bay Area Community Council on the implications of moving legal immigrants through the economy to self-sufficiency. We avoided the study of Illegals because it is so complex to understand, and takes attention away from the benefits and needs of the U.S. to have immigrants.
However, recently I attended a short seminar by the Grzeca law firm of Milwaukee, which focuses on immigration issues, on the status of the Secure Communities federal initiatives.
Some perspective:
• There are an estimated 10-12 million "illegal/undocumented" but EMPLOYED immigrants in the U.S., and the controversy (i.e., unresolved policy) persists on how to deal with them as well as "control" ongoing immigration relative to needs.
• Therefore, law enforcement "generally" is focusing on dealing with undocumented immigrants who commit "violent" crimes, and having a "live and let live" attitude towards the others.
• Of Interest: Under federal law, being an undocumented immigrant (i.e., here illegally) is a civil ...not criminal ... offense. Civil offenses are punishable by fines. (Yes, there are proposals to make undocumented immigration a felony (i.e., a criminal) offense.)

Thus: the Secure Communities initiative, which all 72 of Wisconsin's counties are participating in. If a person is picked up for a violent crime and is found to be undocumented, his finger prints are put in a federal data base and his presence is reported to the FBI and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). The person will be prosecuted locally regarding the crime ... while ICE determines whether the person is truly undocumented and liable for deportation. If so, it deports the person.
IN 2010, 393,000 persons were deported in 2010 ... but 193,000 of them had no criminal record. Thus, the practice of treating lack-of-documentation as civil is "general" but not complete.

Also of interest: Some of these "undocumenteds" are former students who have over-stayed their visas and found jobs but not been able to "fit" into one of the prevailing visa quota allowances. Canada, in contrast, is loosening its standards to attract educated immigrants whom we educate but are unwilling to provide a path to permanent residence.

Want more? The tendency is to deny driver's licenses to persons who can't provide documentation. Opponents argue that the person will still be here, probably has a job or is in a family that is making it and paying taxes, and WILL find a way to get where they need to go ... AND if we WOULD provide a Driver's License, we get them into the data base, AND those with licenses are two-thirds more likely to have auto insurance.
Even more to come, for sure ...

Monday, April 11, 2011

On Servant Learning

Festival Foods has spent ten years on its Servant Leadership journey, and exposed guru James Hunter to a free community presentation recently. Its hope is to create a Servant Learning organization mentality throughout our area, and will hold quarterly sessions to bring together people interested in implementing the concept in their companies. Very proactive and community-minded! (What else might a local company champion?)
Among Hunter's points:
• Back in the day: Henry Ford said, "I kept hiring the whole person when all I wanted were his hands."
• "You already know how to be a leader. The elements are already a part of you. You just have to use them where you have passion."
• "Be the Boss you'd want your Boss to be."
• Servant Leadership: "Make a list of what people need, and then go help them get it."
• "Everyone has a deep, human need to be appreciated."
• "Where we aren't getting leadership, and it's many places nationally and around us, people are beginning to say, 'Enough!' They're starting to take action into their own hands."
• Max DePree: "Leadership is serious meddling in other people's lives!"
• Karl Menninger, asked what he would do if he knew someone was about to have a nervous breakdown: "Tell him to go help someone. Stop the fixation on yourself. Get the attention off of yourself."
• On Setting Expectations: Southwest Air attendants sometimes say to you when getting on the plane, "Welcome to my Living Room." It sets an expectation of how you are going to treat your experience ... orderliness, courtesy, friendliness.
• "In a nutshell, Leadership is Results Plus Relationships ... Spanking and Hugging."
• Bottom Line: Culture eats Strategy for breakfast. People make the difference. Build your people.
• Lombardi to his players: "My love for you will be relentless."

From a panelist, Ken Coppens, a Barry-Wehmiller leadership instructor:
• When we acquire a company, our first initiative is to spend time with the front line people who interact with the customers and learn what's successful and what the problems are.
• We're experimenting with how to ingrain the S/L concepts after our training. Right now, we have a 12-week touchbase program that creates discussion after the training; at the end of training, people commit to do certain things. We then create S/L Groups of 5-6 people each to meet and work with each other on accomplishing the commitments.

On Progressive Income Taxes: The Rich Already Pay Much More

I'm finding that many aren't informed about the degree of progressivity of our federal income tax structure. Many complainers feel that companies shouldn't get tax breaks and the rich should pay more. Maybe so, but it's useful to know what already exists. Some thoughts ...

1. On companies and "tax breaks": Private companies/businesses are who create value that results in more jobs, and more taxable income. NO OTHER ORGANIZATIONS DO THIS. ALL TAXES DERIVE FROM THE SUCCESS OF PRIVATE COMPANIES. When we tax those companies, we take away dollars that can be used to develop new products that lead to new jobs. Yes, charge businesses for "use taxes," their use of sewer, water, and protection ... but not for making money. Instead, tax the people on the money they received ... when they receive it.

2. On Progressivity, here are the 2009 income tax figures, provided by the Tax Policy Center:
The top 5% of earners (Over $212,000) paid 40% of all federal taxes.
The next 15% (Over $106,000) paid 28%.
THUS, the Top 20% paid 68% of all federal taxes.

The next 20% (Over $65,000) paid 19% of all federal taxes.
The next 20% (Over $35,000) paid 10% of all federal taxes.
The bottom 40% paid 3% of all federal taxes.

On Rewards Within Fitness/Wellness Programs: Less is More

Recently, Sonic Boom Wellness, the San Diego-based organization that our Healthy Lifestyles Cooperative works with to provide the Daily Fitness Incentive we think is key to engagement and changing behaviors, had a webinar that included these points:
• Studies are showing that rewards are effective at changing behaviors, at least for the short term ... but NOT at changing health HABITS.
• The STRONGER your FITNESS/WELLNESS program (i.e., the more people it incents effectively), the fewer and lesser rewards you need. The necessity for rewards is inversely proportional to the progress of the program. Rewards create attention, and as correct behaviors become more of a habit, they don't need external incentives.
• IF you're going to provide incentives ...
• CASH is the LEAST effective ... creates a sense of entitlement rather than excitement, and is the most forgettable.
• Tangible, Non-Cash rewards the next best ... symbols of recognition and accomplishment.
• Best are Recognition rewards ... given with immediacy.
• Did you know: If you work out in the morning, you are 50% more productive for the LAST TWO HOURS of the workday!

Bob DeKoch, Boldt Construction, on Leadership

Bob spoke at a March St. Norbert's CEO Breakfast & Strategy meeting on "Leadership in the New Economy: Making a Difference, with Care!" He is a very thoughtful and insightful CEO, and has authored three books on CEO issues with Phil Clampitt, a UWGB professor of communications.
Here are some interesting excerpts from his talk:
• Objectivity Requires Listening/Listening/Listening. Think about it. It's not a simple idea.
• "Don't listen in order to solve my problem. Just listen! Accept and understand what I'm trying to say. Get to understanding. Then, when you understand, you can begin thinking about my problem." That's a paraphrase from Madelyn Burley-Allen.
• Negotiations don't usually equal Listening, but they should.
• Boldt's Values: "Honesty, Fairness, Hard Work, Performance and Love of Construction are what we value." I've never seen that a value is to "love the business," but it is! Very interesting.
• The Uncertainty Pyramid:
He contends that too often we fear uncertainty, and so we avoid it, even trying to "eliminate" it. More importantly, if we are to move forward and LEARN, Uncertainty should be EMBRACED as quickly as possible so that LEARNING can begin. That's how you begin to dominate your marketplace!
• "Leadership is a means to an end, not the end itself. The 'end' is to 'move the ball forward.'"
• "Take your idea, then wait for your second thoughts about it, then bounce it off of a trusted adviser, and then off your team, and then off your organization. Eventually, you'll have something that everyone will embrace because it's right."
• "The Leader creates the ENVIRONMENT for engagement, and employees provide the energy. When they meet, all things are possible." The Environment, he says, includes having the right people, a great cause, resources to remove barriers, and more.
• Bill Gates: "Develop people who make mistakes, and can make the most from them."
• Some of Bob's Advice for the Road:
Spend time in places and situations that inspire you.
Take time to think, away from the day-to-day.
Create balance in your life. Schedule it.