CSR is Good Business

Successful Companies Incorporate CSR Into Business Models
Aug 08 2007

Superior product quality and competitive pricing may no longer rule as the most critical variables in the equation for business success, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer article by AHC Group president Bruce Piasecki. A third strategic factor is coming into play: social responsibility. A growing number of multinational business leaders are already demonstrating that successful enterprises are willing to devote unprecedented time and effort to incorporate social responsibility into their business models.

Piasecki points to the culture shift occurring at General Electric as an example. GE, according to Piasecki, sees green technology for what it is: a great business opportunity.

But it's the actions of Wal-Mart and its Sustainability 360 program, which goes beyond its direct environmental footprint to engage everyone the company touches: associates, suppliers, communities and customers, that signals the true significance of the trend, according to the article.

By requiring suppliers to reduce product packaging five percent by 2013, Wal-Mart expects to realize savings equal to removing 213,000 trucks from the road and saving about 324,000 tons of coal and 67 million gallons of diesel fuel per year, Piasecki writes. It will save millions more by making stores 30 percent more efficient by 2012, increasing fleet efficiency 25 percent by 2010, and reducing solid waste from its U.S. stores and Sam's Clubs 25 percent by 2008.

Dog Eat Dog

Say Goodbye to Dog-Eat-Dog
Trading in a corporate career for nonprofit work? You gotta be all business about the transition.
(Money Magazine) -- After 20 years in corporate sales, Pam Gaber was ready for a change. As a vice president of the veterinary division of a major pharmaceutical concern, she traveled around the world, earned a mid-six-figure salary and lived a life free from financial worry in Arizona with her husband Mike, a chief financial officer for a home-building company.

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But after two mergers and her company's shift from research to distribution, along with a travel schedule that kept her home a mere four days a month, Gaber decided that she needed a change, one more radical than any other corporate job would be able to provide.

So eight years ago, at age 42, she quit. And soon after that she adopted a Weimaraner puppy named Gabriel and started volunteering at a shelter for abused children.

One day she brought Gabriel along and was astounded at the effect her pup had on the kids. "Children who were mean or withdrawn were suddenly loving and responding to Gabriel," Gaber remembers.

Inspired, she used $20,000 in savings to start Gabriel's Angels, a nonprofit organization that provides pet-therapy dogs to abused children at crisis nurseries and shelters. Today, Gaber, 50, has six employees and is expanding across the country.

"I would probably own a bigger house had I stayed in corporate. But it isn't about the money," says Gaber. "It's about making a difference."

Gaber isn't the only person moving into nonprofits. Half of adults ages 50 to 70 polled in a 2005 survey by the MetLife Foundation and Civic Ventures say they are interested in work to improve their community. Meanwhile, the rapid growth in the nonprofit sector has made those organizations eager to lure businesspeople.

Hot Careers for 2007
Thinking about finding a new job or a new career path? See who's hiring:

Registered nurses
Postsecondary teachers
General and operations managers
Elementary school teachers (non-special education)
Accountants and auditors
Business operation specialists
Computer software engineers, applications
Maintenance and repair workers, general
Computer systems analysts
Secondary school teachers
Computer software engineers, systems software
Physicians and surgeons
Network systems and data communications analysts
Automotive service technicians and mechanics
Not that it's an easy transition: Saying good-bye to the daily grind also means saying good-bye to high salaries and hello to a world that can be just as frustrating and bureaucratic as the largest conglomerate. Of course, if you have what it takes, it can be the most rewarding work you'll ever do.

Do a Reality Check

It's easy to romanticize working for an organization whose mission is to make the world a better place, but nonprofit jobs have challenges just like any other workplace.

Are you ready to work in an environment of limited financial resources? It's one thing to take clients out to a fancy restaurant when you can make up the expense with an extra sale or two; it's a wholly different matter if your extravagance affects a group's ability to help the needy.

Are you okay with what's likely to be a lengthier decision-making process? Many nonprofits, with their board of directors, employees, volunteers and recipients, have to get everyone on the same page, not just the CEO.

Gaber says she's really had to put her ego aside. "You can't be as hard-charging as you were in the for-profit world. Everything is agreement by consensus," she says.

Lay the Groundwork Now

If, after some serious soul searching, you are still up for working at a nonprofit, do some research. Unless you're already involved with one, consider volunteering to get a better understanding of an organization and determine whether it might be a good fit.

If, like Pam Gaber, you want to start your own foundation, take a course on nonprofit management at your local university or community college to learn skills such as fund raising and grant writing.

Fine-Tune Your Finances

Salaries at nonprofits vary depending on the size of the organization, but it's still hard to earn the same level of compensation as at for-profit companies. A CFO at a mid-size nonprofit earns an average of $83,000 a year, according to a 2007 survey by the NonProfit Times.

"You can expect to take a pay cut from a for-profit job with a similar responsibility level," says Bridgestar's Carol Trager. That means it's important to prepare financially if you want to move to a career where you may be earning less.

Gaber says the fact that she and her husband have no children to put through college eased the blow of losing her high-powered income. But while she and Mike, 51, were both making good money, they got into the habits of living below their means and of saving prodigiously.

They've lived in the same house since 1995, for example, and spend most weekends at home with their three dogs and two cats. Today, Mike's pay, plus income from their nest egg, is enough to cover their living expenses, support the business and still help their elderly parents.

"I sacrificed while I was earning big money so I can do what I do now," says Gaber.

They've made other financial adjustments as well. Gaber traded in her four-year-old Lexus SUV for a Chevy Tahoe and no longer drops $2,000 on business suits. "I want my money to go to more than just stuff," she says.

Retool Your Résumé

To land a job in the nonprofit world, you'll need to state your skills in language your potential employers understand.

Capabilities that are valued: the ability to build teams, raise money, work with a board and put on special events, says Kathleen Yazback, a managing director at Bridgestar, which specializes in staffing nonprofit organizations.

Instead of burying your volunteer work at the bottom of your résumé, put that work at the top of the page. Helping a charity raise $10,000 is as important as the promotion you got at your day job.

Yazback says there's been an increasing need for people with expertise in business, particularly finance, marketing, HR and IT. People with an entrepreneurial background are also prized. "Nonprofits want resourceful people who can move quickly when things change," she says.

Adjust to Your Environment

"It's a myth that you won't work as many hours or as intensely in nonprofits. People work hard and have to be good," says Gayle Brandel, president of the staffing firm Professionals for NonProfits. "We hear from people we place all the time that they're working just as much as or more than when they were in a corporate job."

What is different is that you'll likely have to live without the perks of expense accounts, limitless supplies and business-class travel. Gaber doesn't miss any of that: "It's all worth it to be doing something I really enjoy."

Three Fast Fixes

The Gabers gave up a six-figure salary to launch their nonprofit. Harry Horn of Lincoln Financial has ways to hold family and foundation finances together.

Diversify more: The Gabers saved early and accumulated a large amount of cash when they were both in the corporate world. Most of their investments, however, are in dividend-paying stock and bond income funds. Pam and Mike, in their early fifties, also need growth-oriented choices like equity REITs and international holdings to keep their savings growing faster than inflation.

Protect assets: The Gabers now live solely off Mike's salary (and some investment income), since Pam chose not to draw a salary from her foundation. Horn recommends that Mike buy an inexpensive term life policy so that Pam doesn't have to give up the nonprofit if he dies. Mike also needs a long-term-disability policy, through either his employer or an outside insurer.

Plan beyond their lifetime: Pam and Mike's long-term goal is to keep Gabriel's Angels thriving well into the future. They plan to leave their money to the foundation and to some of the charitable groups it supports. A charitable remainder trust would ensure that their wealth supports the foundation when they're gone while granting them a tax deduction today and income for as long as they live.

© 2007 Cable News Network.

Play to your Strengths

When Opportunity Knocks with a Pink Slip in Hand
By: Angus Loten,
Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling and other entrepreneurs launched successful ventures only after losing their day jobs. Who knew getting fired could be a great career move?

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When Charlotte Dulaney was five months pregnant with her third child, the furthest thing on her mind was launching a business. It was the late 1980s, and Dulaney, a 31-year-old IT manager for an electric subcontractor in Arvada, Colo., was busy enough juggling work and a growing family. To make matters worse, her daughter had recently suffered a burst appendix, forcing Dulaney to take a month off. Then, weeks before her maternity leave started, she was called into the boss's office -- and was fired for missing too much work.

"I honestly didn't know what I was going to do," Dulaney says. Too pregnant to start looking for a new job, she decided instead to try launching a business at home -- something to do with computers, she figured. "Computers were what I knew, so I thought I'd look into that."

The result was Baby-Cakes.com, an early online retailer specializing in gifts for baby showers. The business has since expanding into a 4,000-square-foot warehouse with four full-time employees and was once featured on HBO's Sex in the City.

"It never even dawned on me to run my own business," Dulaney says. "I was out of a job and knew I needed money coming in."

Dulaney's path to success puts her in good company. From Home Depot's Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank, to media mogul-turned-New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, some of today's most successful entrepreneurs launched their breakthrough businesses only after finding themselves out of work. And whether it's that extra nudge needed to pursue a long-formulating business idea, or simply the trigger of some latent survival mechanism, pink slips appear to be jump-starting the careers of more and more reluctant entrepreneurs in recent years.

This year alone, the number of job seekers turning to self-employment has climbed by 10.6 percent -- a 29 percent jump from a year ago, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based outplacement firm.

At least part of this sudden increase is the result of a wave of early corporate buyouts, mergers, and acquisitions by private-equity firms, says John Challenger, the firm's CEO. According to the Labor Department, 965 businesses reported layoffs resulting in 139,269 displaced workers during the first quarter of the year. At the same time, 24,865 workers lost their jobs completely to permanent business closures.

The inevitable job shuffling that follows buyouts, mergers, and acquisitions is leaving a high number of skilled employees by the wayside and increasingly wary of corporate job security. Consider that more than 80 percent of first-quarter start-ups this year were led by experienced workers in their 40s, according to Challenger.

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Another big driver of self-employment is the underlying strength of the economy.

"The economy, while showing some chinks in its armor, has not slowed to the point of discouraging start-up activity," Challenger says, pointing to weaknesses in the housing market and the automotive sector. "Other areas of the economy appear to be relatively healthy, a fact which has boosted the confidence of would-be entrepreneurs."

For Sastry Rachakonda, the director of Discover's business-card division, these entrepreneurs fall into two camps. The first is made up of highly skilled employees in a particular field -- usually technology -- who want to keep doing what they do best after getting fired or laid off from an employer. Many of today's successful Web 2.0 firms were started by creative young employees who lost their jobs in the late 1990s tech meltdown.

Yet, for all their technical knowledge, many new entrepreneurs in this group don't have the slightest clue about the nuts and bolts of running a business. "The biggest pitfall I've seen with this group is a lack of business skills," Rachakonda says. "They think that because they're great designers, or engineers, or developers, the business will run itself." Usually, these entrepreneurs end up hiring a business manager or going out of business, he adds.

The second group Rachakonda refers to as the dreamers. These are less-skilled employees who either want to pursue a bold business idea or simply want to be their own boss. "People in this group often suffer from a lack of appreciation for the amount of work involved in the day-to-day operations of running a business," he says.

Surprisingly, the failure rates among the first group -- those that have marketable skills -- tend to be higher, he says. "In the end, it comes down to a combination of experience, education, and hard work," Rachakonda says.

Two years ago, Tonya Thomas was an administrative assistant at a bank in Jefferson, Ala., when a merger collectively forced up to 4,000 employees out of work, including herself.

For years, Thomas had long considered the idea of launching an online service that helped smaller businesses with everything from planning special events to creating newsletters and calendars. Using the six months notice given to her and her co-workers by their new corporate bosses, she started putting her plan into action -- from securing a Web domain name to printing business cards.

Today, she runs her site, The Small Office Assistant, from her home, while taking care of her two young children. Despite the extra work involved in being her own boss, she says, it's also allowed her to be more flexible with her time.

"That layoff was a blessing in disguise," Thomas says. "If that had not happened, I would still be working in that bank today. It turned out to be a great opportunity."

Success means taking long term view

Success is owned by employees
Colorado's CH2M Hill, MWH and Hensel Phelps are among the top worker-owned companies.
By Tom McGhee
Denver Post Staff Writer
Article Last Updated: 07/15/2007 11:12:57 PM MDT

Colorado is home to three of the largest employee-owned companies in the nation, according to a new report.

Engineering, consulting and construction company CH2M Hill, engineering company MWH Global and construction company Hensel Phelps are each on the National Center for Employee Ownership's ranking of the top 100 majority employee-owned companies.

With 19,089 employees, Doug las County-based CH2M Hill is the largest employee-owned company of its type in the engineering industry and ranks sixth on the NCEO list.

Employees at the company can buy stock in CH2M Hill on an internal market and the share value is determined by the firm's profitability, said CH2M Hill spokesman John Corsi.

"Employee ownership is a key part of our culture. Every single employee shares in the firm's success. We think it is good for recruiting."

Since the company isn't publicly traded, executives don't have to chase quarterly earnings numbers to keep outside investors happy, Corsi said. "It allows us to have discipline and long-term vision," he said.

Giving employees a stake in a company can help to keep workers involved and engaged in operations, said Corey Rosen, NCEO executive director. But it doesn't guarantee that, he added.

"You need a company that gives employees a lot of input into the way their jobs are done. If you give people ownership but treat them the same as you did before, you actually see a decline in performance because you have raised their expectations but failed to meet them," he said.

Broomfield-based MWH has 6,100 employees and ranked 18th on the list. Hensel Phelps in Greeley has 2,100 employees and ranked 42nd.

Topping the list is Florida-based Publix Super Markets Inc. with 143,000 employees, followed by Iowa-based supermarket chain Hy-Vee Inc. with 46,000 employees.

The National Center for Employee Ownership is a private, nonprofit membership and research organization that provides information on employee stock ownership and other compensation plans.

Staff writer Tom McGhee can be reached at 303-954-1671 or tmcghee@denverpost.com.

Sustainable Strategies driving 25% stock rise

Last week's UN Global Compact Leaders Summit in Geneva, Switzerland,
brought together some of the world's biggest companies committed to
corporate social responsibility. It also left behind some potentially
powerful tools. For starters, there's a new online tool
(www.gln-openaccess.org/) aimed at helping companies "embed responsible
business practices as a driver of long term, sustainable competitive

A report released at the summit by Goldman Sachs showed that among six
sectors covered -- energy, mining, steel, food, beverages, and media --
companies that are considered leaders in implementing environmental, social
and governance (ESG) policies to create sustained competitive advantage
have outperformed the general stock market by 25 per cent since August

There's more: a group of chief executive officers representing some of the
world's largest corporations issued The CEO Water Mandate, urging their
business peers to take immediate action to address the emerging global
water crisis. The chief executives of 153 companies worldwide committed to
speeding up action on climate change and called on governments to agree as
soon as possible on measures to secure workable and inclusive climate
market mechanisms post 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol expires.

And a new report on business-NGO partnerships found that environmental
issues account for a third of all business corporate social responsibility
partnerships on a global level and that education projects are the
preferred corporate social responsibility partnerships at a local level.

Details on these and other Global Compact Summit actions can be found on
GreenBiz.com and at the Compact's site: www.globalcompact.org.

-- Joel Makower, Executive Editor

Hiring First Employee

Hiring Your First Employee
By Geoff Williams,
Posted: 2006-11-15 13:27:20
There comes a time when every entrepreneur can't do it alone anymore. Is it time to find your first employee?

"Good luck," your boss said, clapping his hand on your shoulder. Then the big cheese was gone, and you looked down at your desk. And there it was. Your employee handbook.

If you've ever worked for another company, you probably remember it. You barely glanced at it, but if you had a question, there was your manual, ready to solve all your problemsùfrom what to do with your 401(k) to where to park your car.

But now you're the big cheese, and you're likely the one with all the questions about the hiring process. So where's your employee handbook? Exactly. There isn't one. Luckily, in the following pages, we've put together most everything you'll need to consider when expanding your business beyond yourself. It's the closest thing to a handbook you're likely to get.

Good luck.

What to Pay
It should be obvious, but here goes: Pay what you can afford.

Jeff Medley, 35, offered his first employee $10 an hour, with no benefits and no cubicleùjust a chair and a table in the den of his house. Today, Medley's Indianapolis business, Netfor Inc., has 21 employees and 100-plus contractors nationwideùall with the goal of offering franchised businesses computer technology support. His company's sales, which have grown steadily every year, will clear $2 million this year, and his roster of clients includes such big names as Mail Boxes Etc.

And what did this new employee think of Medley's job offer, seeing that it had no benefits? "He was OK with that, because when I hired him, I made the promise that benefits were forthcoming, and they were," says Medley, who launched his business in 1995. "In 1999, we got benefits, and now we have one of the best benefits packages in the city."

Paying his employees a modest salary was also the approach 47-year-old Paul Storfer took in 1995, when he launched his Purchase, New York, human resources firm, HR Technologies: "In some cases, people would self-select themselves and say 'I'm not sure I'm a good fit for you,' but in most cases, we were able to establish a salary that everybody felt was fair."

"Salary is always where most [job applicants] fib," observes Barbara Bruno, who runs HR Search Inc., a Chicago employment agency. "They always quote a higher price than what they'll actually take."

But the bottom-line rule of hiring somebody is that your company has to have enough money coming in. Cash flowùmore than cashùis crucial to hiring your first employee, says Mary Wong, a principal and managing partner of HRizen Solutions LLC, a Houston human resources and consulting firm that specializes in helping emerging entrepreneurs. "I dealt with a start-up venture that had a lot of initial venture capitalùseveral million dollars," recalls Wong. "And they thought 'Let's go out and buy computers and phones and 10 sets of desks, and let's hire 10 people to fill them,' but there was no cash flow. As you know, that's probably the number-one killer of a business, and they immediately had to lay off three-fourths of their staff."

Finding Candidates
Medley put an ad in The Indianapolis Star and found three job candidates. He recalls the interview he had over lunch with his first hire, Mike Bankert, who, five years later, is still with the company and now on salary. "I played up the company like I knew it was going to grow," says Medley. "I gave him my vision, and I think he believed it."

If you're going with an ad, be logical in deciding where to place it-whether you decide to post it on Monster.com or in your local newspaper. "Pretend that you're looking for this job, and then select [your placement] that way," suggests Arlene Vernon, owner of HRx, a human resources consulting firm in Eden Prairie, a suburb of Minneapolis. She's been helping small businesses with their human resources needs for more than 25 years, and she's often found good employees for her clients through the newspaper classifieds.

But if you don't have to hire somebody this minute, she recommends trying to find an employee through word-of-mouth. "Go to industry meetings," she suggests. "Hopefully, you're already doing that anyway, and as you're talking to people one-on-one, mention that you're looking for somebody to hire. Ask 'Who do you know that would be interested in a startup?'"

Mentioning that you're a startup is important, says Vernon, because certain personalities work well with the unpredictable nature of a new business, while others don't.

Questions, ask many questions. Ask them of yourself, and ask them of your potential hires.

You need to know exactly who you want to help you grow your business. What you don't need is to hire somebody just like you, says Bruno, whose agency assists in recruiting secretarial, administrative and human resource professionals. "You want their strengths to complement your weaknesses," she says.

But that's the easy part, according to Bruno, who insists that you investigate prospects' references. "Reference-checking is an art," she says. "And it has to be, because in this day and age, sometimes a person's entire resume is a fantasy." There is one crucial question you must ask every reference, and if you phrase it in just the right way, it's difficult for that person to give a vague answer. It's simply "Is this person eligible for rehire?" "If the answer is yes," says Bruno, "you've got a good person. If it's no, then no."

There are three basic guidelines you should stick to in a job interview, says Vernon:

Keep it legal. Because of federal guidelines and laws that vary from state to state, you can get sued if you ask questions that have nothing to do with the job, says Vernon. Stay away from topics such as your potential employee's religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, whether he or she is married and whether he or she wants children. "Just keep it focused on the job," says Vernon, "and you'll be fine." Be honest. For obvious reasons. "Even be blatantly honest," says Vernon. "If there are difficult parts of the job, let them know upfront." Ask tough questions. "Ask them to show you how they would do something," says Vernon. "If you need an administrative assistant, tell them to turn on the computer and get into Word and write you a letter." Or give them real-life examples of challenges they may face working for you and listen to how they think they'd handle the situation, suggests Vernon.

And how do you explain to your first employee that you're hiring him or her to do the tasks that you'd rather not do? "It's all how you frame it," observes Beth Ellenby, owner of Rest of Your Life Productions, a Norwalk, Connecticut, coaching firm for individuals and corporations. Ellenby's business has been running entrepreneurship coaching groups for women in New York City for the past two years. "For some people, the grunt work is doing the accounting. But for [other] people, there's nothing more fun than getting a big box of papers and sorting through them. For some people, they dread making cold calls. Others say 'Let me at it.'" And Ellenby adds that it's impossible to get rid of all the grunt. "When you're only two people, you're both going to have to do things you don't love doing."

Dealing With Paperwork
W-2s. Payroll taxes. Social Security. 401(k)s. Health insurance benefits.

Even if the latter two aren't part of your initial program, the paperwork that goes into hiring an employee can be mind-numbing. That's why the general consensus is: Have someone else do it for you. Do not go it alone.

So where do you go for help? If you're going to offer a health plan, you need to find a reputable health insurance agency to work with. But if you want to get payroll off your hands as well, Bruno suggests hiring a service such as Paychex or Automatic Data Processing (ADP) Inc., two services that can also help you with a 401(k), health benefits and just about anything else you'd need. There are plenty of other good payroll companies out there--just make sure you do your homework. You should be comfortable and confident that it's a reputable business.

What you will spend to have your checks printed and taxes taken out and everything else that goes along with payroll depends on what kind of deal you offer your employee. At first, Medley paid his payroll service about $40 per month--and that's exactly how often he paid Bankert: once a month. It made sense, because Netfor was being paid once per month. But it also saved money. The more often you pay your employees, the more benefits you offer and the more employees you have, the more expensive your payroll services will be.But it's well worth it, says Medley, explaining that somebody he knows well got into trouble with payroll taxes. "And upon learning how badly that can go, you realize very quickly that you want someone else doing your payroll," says Medley, who adds that if your business shuts down and you still owe payroll taxes, the government will come after you--not your defunct corporation. With a payroll service--again, a reputable one--"then your liability doesn't exist," says Medley. "The risk is all theirs."

To offer benefits or not? That is the million-dollar question, especially when you're not a millionaire. Barbara Bruno of HR Search Inc. has been in the hiring business for 26 years. She says you don't have to offer that first batch of employees a health plan or a 401(k), but if you want to be one of the good guys and find good people to work for you, you should find other, cost-effective perks to offer those working at your company. Two weeks of paid vacation is just a given. There is no national law requiring it (though some states do have such laws in place), but regardless, "You have to do that," says Bruno.

You can also offer flex hours, says Bruno, where employees can come and go as they please as long as they're working a set amount of hours per day or week. "You can also offer a casual dress code," she says. "People love to dress down and be relaxed." If you offer to pay $50 to $100 per month of an employee's day-care costs, that's a big perk because he or she will get it in pre-tax form, and you can write it off as a business expense.

And what's the biggest benefit that benefits offer your business? A happy, presumably productive, employee.

Working Together
You're hiring more than your first employee; you're bringing aboard somebody who will help your company grow, who will help create your business culture and who will have to understand that in the seven-course meal of the corporate world, you're still small potatoes. Which is why it's better to think of your employee as a partner, rather than yourself as the captain of the ship.

Medley had little choice but to remain humble. As he recalls of that first year working with Bankert, "I have two kids, and my 3-year-old would come busting down the stairs and run through the hall naked and pop through the [office] doors and yell, 'Look, Daddy, I'm naykee!'"

Fortunately, Bankert "thought it was hilarious," says Medley. The clients on the other end of the phone, however, were not as amused. So Medley had to bungee-cord the doors shut. (Later, his third and fourth employees worked out of his basement.) But even now, with the Netfor staff working out of real office space, Medley says he continues to maintain a partnership atmosphere with his employees: "I've never been a real power-trip person."

Creating a Handbook
So when should you write an employee handbook? You should probably wait until the third or fourth employee, suggests Storfer, who had one of his first hires write his handbook. Medley did the same thing, giving the task of writing it to his first employee. "When it's not coming from the employer's perspective, I think it turns into a more applicable tool. It's not a hierarchical dictatorship tool."

But what about writing it yourself? What about throwing caution to the wind and taking it upon yourself to explain your company's mission and rules without seeming like a dictator? Medley laughs. "If there's an entrepreneur out there who starts a business and has the time to write an employee handbook for [his] very first person, I tip my hat to [him]," he says. "That was always my Catch-22. I didn't have time to write an employee handbook, because I didn't have an employee."

Hiring Resources
If you're still craving more information, reach for that mouse or visit the nearest library and check out these resources:

To read up on interviewing techniques, Impact Hiring: The Secrets of Hiring a Superstar, offers approximately 300 pages of solid and sage advice from authors Frederick and Barbara Ball.

For help with producing an employee handbook, purchase a software program. A quick Web search will list various options, including www.youremployeehandbook.com, which offers personnel policy and procedure manuals for small businesses.

HR.com is a free Web site for those interested in human resources. Here, you'll get advice, free human resource forms and free articles about human resource issues. Get out your credit card and you'll be able to purchase various products and services, such as a human resource agent to do some of the work for you.

To strengthen your knowledge and understanding of the numerous legal elements and government regulations that apply to hiring, click over to the U.S. Department of Labor, where you can get answers to all your questions.

Consumer Environmental Survey

2007 Cone Consumer Environmental Survey
By Cone LLC
Recently, the results of the 2007 Cone Consumer Environmental Survey were released. Brands would be interested in learning about how seriously Americans are now taking the environment, and the implications these feelings have on business practices.

The survey found one-third of Americans (32 percent) report heightened interest in the environment compared to a year ago. This brings the total of Americans who claim to be interested in the environment to 88 percent.

Additionally, consumers believe that corporations owe it to them to engage in sustainable and environmentally conscious business practices. In addition to pollution concerns, Americans are increasingly concerned over product packaging and transportation. With this in mind, consumers say they will either "reward" (purchase) or punish companies based on their actions.
May 2007

Corporate Social Responsibility

What an accomplished insurance executive and strategist had to say about the value of CSR and employee engagement;
Employees want to feel good about their employer. They tend to be happier working for companies that they believe to have either a higher cause, or at least are interested in something other than solely the almighty buck. They want an employer with a conscious, and one that gives back. This helps them to feel better about what they do and who they work for, almost like they are indirectly giving back themselves.
Companies that care about things other than just their business, give the perception to their employees that they care about them too.
Happy, prideful employees are more productive.
They are less likely to call in sick unnecessarily.
They are less likely to file fraudulent Workers' Compensation claims.
As green companies usually have cleaner, brighter, more comfortable facilities with newer equipment, employees are less likely to leave.
Lower turnover saves recruiting and training dollars.
Lower turnover leads to more experienced, more productive employees.
Lower turnover leads to fewer Workers' Compensation injuries, as roughly half of all claims come from employees in their first year on the job. Less turnover means fewer employees in this first year.

Living Your Brand

Living Your Brand
By John Williams
Take a look at who you are and how you want to represent your brand--and live it every day--to make yourself your #1 asset.

A great deal of time and energy are expended to create memorable brands that add value to company marketing strategies and--in the case of public companies--pique the interest of the investment community. While company brand equity is certainly important, the significance of making yourself an integral part of your company's brand shouldn't be overlooked as a key to success.

Here's a simplistic example that underscores the importance of personal branding. Let's say you own a franchise of a well-known quick printing company. Your logo's recognizable, and the attributes of your parent organization are well-documented through a dynamic national marketing campaign. While you may gain first-time business based on name recognition alone, if customers don't like you--if you're unable to positively establish your personal brand--you may never see them again.

As would be expected, personal branding is most important in service businesses, because customers demand a high level of personal attention. Your ability to establish and maintain rapport with your customers will result in long-term relationships as well as coveted referral business. And when customers know and like you, they're more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt if anything goes awry.

The Defining Process
The most important step to creating your personal brand is defining yourself. This includes taking stock of your strengths, values, goals and personality to determine the personal messages you want customers to take away from their encounters with you.

When you consistently present yourself based on the messages you've identified, you'll have created an effective personal brand. Those who interact with you will have a strong sense of who you are and what you stand for, and that can be any number of things, both inside and outside of the business realm.

The beauty of personal branding is its uniqueness. While some of your personal brand attributes may overlap with others', your overall messages should be one-of-a-kind--that's what'll differentiate you and make your personal brand stand out.

Components to consider for your personal brand include: your leadership abilities; your special strengths, talents or achievements; your personality traits; and your distinctive qualities. Think outside the box, and be as specific as possible so your brand doesn't mirror anyone else's.

Getting the Message Out
Once you've determined your personal brand messages, you need a strategy for broadcasting them to your target audience. Visibility and persistence are key to ensuring that your personal brand is communicated to your customers. That means you must live your personal brand at all times; if that's challenging, then you probably weren't honest during the defining process and need to think a little harder about who you are and what you stand for.

While there are endless options for getting your personal brand message out in the world, the most powerful is face-to-face communication. Personal interactions provide the greatest opportunities to make memorable impressions. If your customer base is too large or too spread out for that to happen, you can use other communications vehicles--including e-mail, direct mail and personalized letters--to get your messages across. Remember that all the choices you make, from your language to your font, can enhance or detract from your personal brand, so choose wisely.

In the best circumstances, when you're able to successfully project the image you've defined for yourself, you'll become the most important part of your company's brand. And that's critically important for entrepreneurs who wish to differentiate themselves from their competition.

What is Coaching?

What is coaching?
Coaching is a partnership designed to help you achieve success -- however you define success in your life. Each partnership is different depending on the client's goals. Coaching includes clarifying vision and purpose to addressing behaviors and tolerations that create barriers to success to problem solving and more. The relationship is strictly confidential.

As a client, your coach will help you:

Implement the plan of action, working through the inevitable changes and any obstacles
Maintain a healthy balance between your personal and professional life
Keep looking ahead to take advantage of opportunities that are just now formulating
Bring out your personal best, keeping focused on your needs, values and vision.
Why does coaching work?
Coaching works because it brings out your best. A coach believes you have the answers and is trained to bring them out (painlessly!) Specifically, this is what a coach will do with you during your coaching sessions:

Listen. A coach listens fully. You are the focus. The coach listens to what you say, what you are trying to say and what you are not saying.

Share. A coach will share ideas, thoughts and views on your situation, dilemma or opportunity, speaking the truth from her or his perspective.

Suggest. A coach wants a lot for you. A coach wants you to be healthy, happy and successful. A coach wants you to be on a strong financial track. A coach wants you to enjoy your family and friends. A coach wants you to have a life that inspires others and yourself. A coach believes in your greatness. To that end, your coach will make requests and suggestions to guide and challenge you.

A coach works with you to:
Brainstorm options for effective action
Update or expand your vision and goals
Increase your ability to see high leverage opportunities
Find balance in life between work, family and community
Improve communication and languaging skills
Develop your management and executive leadership teams
How is coaching different from consulting? Therapy? Sports coaching? A best friend?
Consulting. Coaching is not an expert model of consulting. The coach facilitates a process of reflection and action. A coach also stays with the client to help implement the new skills, changes and goals to make sure they really happen.

Therapy. Coaching is not therapy. We don't work on "issues" or get into the past or deal much with understanding human behavior. We leave that up to the client to know and figure out while we help them move forward and set personal and professional goals that will give them the life they really want.

Sports. Coaching includes several principles from sports coaching, like teamwork, going for the goal, being your best. But unlike sports coaching, most professional coaching is not competition or win/lose based. We strengthen the client's skills versus help them beat the other team. It's win/win.

Best friend. A best friend is wonderful to have. But is your best friend a professional who you will trust to advise you on the most important aspects of your life and/or business? Have a best friend and a coach.

Coaching Improves Performance
Organizational strength
Customer service
Employee retention
Cost reductions
Bottom-line profitability
Working relationships with direct reports, immediate supervisors, peers and clients
Job satisfaction
Conflict reduction
Organizational commitment
An average return on investment of 5.7 times the initial investment in a typical executive coaching assignment or a return of more than $100,000.
Maximizing the Impact of Executive Coaching, Manchester Review, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2001. Results based on a recent study of 100 executives.

Executive Coaches deploy Fit Programs

April 03, 2007

Executive Coaches Help Vet Nonprofit Job Applicants
People seeking top-level nonprofit jobs can now expect to be interviewed not just by nonprofit recruiters and their potential bosses, but also by executive coaches who advise the organization's top executives, says The Wall Street Journal.

The extra step is part of an effort to reduce turnover, the newspaper says.

After interviewing candidates to help her run Family Justice, the New York charity she founded, Carol Shapiro finally found one she liked, but didn't pick the job candidate because her executive coach found the candidate lacking in managerial experience, the newspaper reports.

Another contender who won approval from the coach got the job and joined Family Justice as chief operating officer in late February.

The interview by the coach benefits not just the charity but also the job seeker "because an executive coach can describe what this new boss will really be like," says Marilyn Machlowitz, a New York recruiter who handled Ms. Shapiro's search.

Executive Coaches Shaping Leaders

Executive coaches hired to shape leaders
By Jay MacDonald • Bankrate.com

As the battle heats up to attract and retain the best and brightest talent available, American business is turning for help to an industry it once regarded as highly suspect: executive coaching.

Just a few years ago, when profits and top performers were plentiful, corporate giants pooh-poohed the idea of coaching as just pop psychobabble aimed at eroding their bottom line. The common refrain was, where's the ROI, return on investment? Even those more progressive companies that welcomed TQM, total quality management, and excellence seminars, based on Steven Covey's "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," placed it in the expenditures column.

Today, however, one-on-one executive coaching, not just training, is all the corporate rage. What has made companies suddenly embrace their softer side? You guessed it: ROI.

According to a 2001 MetrixGlobal study of one Fortune 500 company, executive coaching returned more than $5 for every $1 spent, 529 percent, in significant financial and intangible benefits to the company. When the financial benefits of employee retention were rolled into the mix, the ROI was nearly eight to one, 788 percent.

In the 2002 study, "The Economics of Executive Coaching," Harvard Business School Journal estimated that there were at least 10,000 coaches working in business, up from 2,000 in 1996. That figure was expected to grow to 50,000 by 2007. The International Coach Federation lists 8,461 members and more than 132 chapters in 34 countries. Companies reportedly pay fees ranging from $1,500 to $15,000 per day.

"It's certainly a hot item right now," admits Michael Markovits, vice president of global executive and organizational capability, who oversees IBM's in-house executive coaching. "We've done research to show that leadership behavior has a direct impact on climate, and climate has a direct impact on business results. We invest in leadership development because we believe we're going to be a better-performing company as a result."

"Business leaders are recognizing that good social skills are good business," says Peggy Post, great-granddaughter-in-law of etiquette pioneer Emily Post and co-author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business."

"It's not a sissy subject at all. It's a very timely business topic to help increase productivity, employee retention and client/customer retention. It just makes things run much more smoothly," she says.

Executive finishing school? In these downsized, belt-tightening times? That's right. At the new global dinner table, American business is starting to sit up straight and mind its manners.

Pumping up the EQ
Businesses rely on executive coaches in two main training areas: internally, to groom their junior executives to one day take the helm, and externally, to prepare their leaders to flawlessly represent the company when meeting, dining and socializing with customers and clients.

Small Business Responsibility

Doing It Right: Providing Daily Meaning
Source: GreenBiz.com

This essay is excerpted from True to Yourself: Leading a Values-Based Business, by Mark Albion.

There's a big difference between providing great benefits and understanding how to produce fulfillment for human beings.

In addition to the company that bears his name, Mal Warwick & Associates, Mal is the founder of three other companies that bring fund-raising and marketing services to environmental and human rights organizations. Now free from daily operations, he travels the world to teach fund-raising, principally in developing countries. A whirlwind of activity, Mal is frenetically committed.

He admits that he never thought about leadership until recently. He started his namesake company in 1979 and began hiring full-time staff in 1983. He didn't see himself as a good leader or manager. His company grew 100 percent a year for several years in the 1980s, a growth spurt for which Mal felt unequipped: "I had no idea what it meant to lead a small company, much less be 'values-based.' I had the strategic, creative and technical skills to be a well-paid consultant, but no experience or training in management, much less leadership."

He quickly learned that his leadership position gave his actions an importance he didn't know he had: "I was truly a workaholic, insensitive to the needs of a staff that wanted some balance in their lives. It took me a long time to understand that my role required me to think about how I might inspire or deflate the people around me."

Mal realized that he had a more multifaceted role as teacher and mentor. He had to be more careful about what he said and think more about how to motivate and support staff. As he spent more time out of the office, these roles took on a greater importance. After all, management is about what happens when you're around. Leadership is what happens when you're not there.

In the 1980s, Mal was also a self-described "control freak," a handicap of most founders. He started off doing everything from opening the envelopes and licking stamps to analyzing results for his clients: "I knew I could do it better than anyone else. No one was as competent as I was. I could have made a lot more money solo, but I wanted to achieve more than I could do alone -- and I wanted my work to go on after me."

Mal joined the Social Venture Network in 1990 and talked with fellow CEOs about success and failure. It was a profound experience: "I concluded that I wasn't successful. I didn't have the kind of organization that could carry on. I saw that to support advocacy work at nonprofits and foster the kind of social change I wanted, it would require a lot more hands on the oars."

Mal's challenge was not simply about moving from managing to motivating. It was more about values, something he hadn't paid attention to beyond delivering a superior product with great customer service to clients whose work he cared about. He did have employee loyalty as his staff was dedicated to the clients and inspired by them. But his staff didn't have those same kinds of feelings about his company. Mal needed to bring those values inside his organization.

Mal asked himself how he might build that commitment through policies and practices. He spent a few years learning about profit sharing, creative benefits programs, and environmental stewardship. But his personal values and politics got in the way.

In many ways, 1988 was a high-water mark, at least for Mal. The company raised $7 million for Jesse Jackson's presidential campaign and got a lot of press, but the campaign almost bankrupted the company. The day after the election, Mal had to lay off forty of his eighty-seven people.

Mal had some personal problems, too, and went into a depression. He cut his salary to $25,000 and became largely inactive in the company from 1989 to 1994. He did some individual consulting and writing but had little energy for the business. When the succession of CEOs he promoted from within each encountered resistance from employees, Mal was forced to confront the issue why he wasn't involved and what it would take to get him to come back to full-time work.

Mal gave his board of directors his conditions: "I told them that I wanted to put into place a comprehensive set of socially responsible business practices that would make our company per se motivating for the staff, just as our clients' work motivated us." He had put in place good benefits, but he needed to do more.

The staff wanted a strong profit-sharing plan, a voice in management, and more environmental leadership. These priorities led to the election of staff representatives to the company's board and to intensive environmental and energy audits. The audits have made the company a showcase for services companies.

As for the profit-sharing plan, Mal proposed to the board that half of the company's pretax profits be set aside each quarter, with 20 percent of that half (10 percent) going to charitable contributions selected by staff. The remaining 40 percent would be divided up largely on an egalitarian basis of one person, one share. What was the board's reaction? "Well, the board flipped out," Mal chuckles knowingly. "'We could have a cash crunch!' I told them that they could be right, but it wasn't worth keeping the company alive if we couldn't make a statement about social responsibility." They ended up settling on 45 percent of profits going to the plan, with 35 percent going to the staff and the same 10 percent to charities.

Mal returned to astonishing results. From a base of no profits, the first quarter checks were $30 per employee. By the fourth quarter of the new profit-sharing plan, the checks amounted to $2000. The company has been profitable ever since. In a peak year, a staff member making a $20,000-25,000 in salary received an additional $8,000 from profit sharing. The plan jump-started the change in culture the staff had been waiting for.

In 2002, Mal began the transition from sole ownership to employee ownership. An ESOP (employee stock-ownership plan) was put in place, with 10 percent of the ownership in the ESOP, 24 percent among key employees -- a democratizing of ownership Mal intends to continue for many more years. Mal knows that it's never too late to reinvent your brand of leadership and reignite your company.

As Mal's story shows, few small business founders think about what it means to be a leader or what their role is in creating a culture that produces fulfillment for others. Becoming more of a teacher and less of an expert consultant and salesperson requires a shift in attention from consumers to employees. But if you want to make a difference in your industry, you must walk toward the talk and bring those values inside your organization on a daily basis.

Personal Branding

Brand Phobia: How to fight your personal brand demons and win
by Lyn Chamberlin

In the personal branding workshops that I teach, I can feel the air getting sucked out of the room when I ask the group of successful, savvy, world-smart women to begin the process of identifying their own distinctive brand by listing their accomplishments. Eager faces suddenly turn apprehensive. A couple of people make self-deprecating jokes. Then, dead silence. I tell them that, like the cobbler's children who have no shoes, this was not an easy exercise for me to do either. When I liken it to emotional Rolfing--digging into all the uncomfortable places until you've worked out the kinks and devised a brand identity--they all laugh, and with some additional coaxing and cajoling, the pens begin to fly.
There is no magic wand here. No brilliant, earth-changing discovery or patented formula. What happens is very simple: women get the go-ahead to pat themselves on the back, to acknowledge all the accomplishments in their professional and personal lives, and to look at themselves and their enterprises in a new way.

Why is it that the women with the guts to start their own businesses, women who have fought their way to the top of big, big companies struggle so mightily with branding themselves? Why is it that most of us would rather bungee-jump than take credit for our accomplishments, for our talents, for our contributions?

My non-scientific analysis is that we are caught in a self-perpetuating, interconnected web of myths, myths that have been handed down to us in one form or another ever since Eve took a bite out of the apple. Myths such as:

Myth #1: If I Am Good, They Will Come
Myth #2: Marketing Myself Is a Dirty Business
Myth #3: I Can't Control What Other People Think
Myth #1: If I Am Good, They Will Come
Being good is not enough. Being all of the things you are and have accomplished is not enough. Toiling away when everyone else has gone home will not leapfrog you to the front of the pack. Creating the greatest widget will not by itself drive sales. You must find a way to tell your story to people who will listen. And your story must be the answer to a question that your customers, clients, and colleagues need the answer to. Otherwise, it's the proverbial sound of one hand clapping. If a tree falls in the forest, and there's no one to hear it, does it make a sound? The answer, in an increasingly competitive, dog-eat-dog, 21st-century world, is a resounding NO.
We assume that if we quietly build it behind the scenes, they will come. We shy away from promoting ourselves, from taking credit for our successes, from being our own best advertisement. This is the biggest hurdle that we, as 51 percent of the population, must overcome--whether we're at home, in the workforce, or in the C-suite.

Myth #2: Marketing Myself Is a Dirty Business
Successful personal branding means continually standing far enough away to see yourself and your work as if it were not you and your work that you were looking at.

Successful personal branding means taking a 50,000-foot view of yourself and your business, looking down on yourself from a remote-enough planet that your "buts" and "not reallys" and every other self-qualifier you can come up with cease to exist. Learn how to look at what's left of the former you as just another product on a very crowded shelf, where every other can of soup is jockeying for position and trying to knock you off in the process.

Successful personal branding means wearing labels such as "leading" and "expert," "sought-after," "popular," and "well-regarded." It means creating a brand identity that is authentic, consistent, and memorable, one that you own and are proud of.

Myth #3: I Can't Control What Other People Think
You must learn to be the marketing manager of your own brand campaign. Why do we associate Volvo with safety or FedEx with overnight delivery? Because millions of dollars were spent to create that association for us. Nike, Coke, Xerox, and Microsoft tell us how they want us to perceive their products--and we do, thanks to tightly honed messages that are reinforced and repeated over and over again.

Here are several simple steps you can take right now to bottle and market YOU:

Figure out who you are, what you stand for, and why you are different than anyone or anything else.

Create a story that communicates your value and your market differentiation.

Pull the key words that you have used to create that story and weave them into everything that you say, do and publish about yourself and your business.
Tell your story relentlessly, passionately, and unapologetically to anyone who will listen. You will refine and improve it as you go along, figuring out which parts work and which don't.
So don't be afraid to let your pen fly, to begin your exploration of your personal brand identity. Claim your rightful role as chief flag-waver for your company, your product, and ultimately, for yourself.

Walmart deploys Social Fit

Wal-Mart Expands Employee Sustainability Projects
Source: GreenBiz.com

BENTONVILLE, Ark., April 9, 2007 -- Wal-Mart's "Personal Sustainability Projects" will get a boost according to a new announcement by the company.

PSPs are employee-driven efforts through which Wal-Mart and Sam's Club associates develop individual goals to improve their health and wellness and the health of the environment. Throughout 2007, Wal-Mart's 1.3 million U.S. associates will learn about PSPs and have the opportunity to adopt their own personal sustainability goals.

Associates are encouraged to educate their colleagues, customers, families, and communities on personal sustainability and the impact it can have on their daily lives. Wal-Mart also plans to eventually expand the program into its international stores.

"Sustainability has become part of the Wal-Mart culture, and PSPs are one way for associates to become involved - in their stores, their communities and their daily lives," said Linda Dillman, Wal-Mart's executive vice president of risk management, benefits and sustainability. "PSPs are being created by and for associates to help make choices that can have a real impact on their personal health and happiness and on their families, neighbors, communities and the environment. We're excited about what we've seen and learned so far and about what can happen as this project grows."

In July 2006, associates in eight stores in the Denver and Indianapolis areas participated in a pilot PSP program through which they created personal sustainability projects and made a voluntary commitment to meet their goals. Associate PSPs included making healthier food choices, volunteering in their communities and using environmentally friendly products in their homes. After a successful pilot, the program was expanded in October 2006 to 130 Wal-Mart stores and Sam's Club locations in Denver, Indianapolis and Tampa test markets.

Through November 2006, associates have reported the following highlights of pilot PSP efforts:

More than 20,000 associates developed PSPs in the three test markets. In the Denver market alone, 84 percent of associates -- more than 3,400 people -- adopted PSPs.

More than 300 associates quit smoking.

In the Tampa market, 300 associates set up recycling programs in their homes. Paper recycling centers have been established in all stores in the Indianapolis market, and proceeds are donated to the local Children's Miracle Network Hospital. Overall, more than 16 tons of paper, aluminum, and plastic have been recycled as part of the pilot PSP efforts.

Collectively, associates have lost more than 2,000 pounds -- one ton -- by eating healthier and exercising more. Associates have also pledged to exercise more, and together they have walked the equivalent of two round trips between New York and Los Angeles.
As one example of a PSP, Kim Nicholson, a membership sales representative for Sam's Club, persuaded the company to offer a salad and water combination for the same price as a slice of pizza and soda in all Sam's Club Cafes. "Now associates can eat healthy at an affordable price during lunch," said Nicholson.

Throughout the year, "Captains" from the hourly and salaried levels will hold meetings to educate associates on PSPs. Associates choose their own personal sustainability goals and monitor their progress during a core time period of four to seven weeks, and are then encouraged to integrate their PSP into their daily lives on a long-term basis. In-store training and projects will help reinforce the associates' plans. Together, associates motivate and encourage one another to pursue their PSPs.

While individuals will focus on their personal goals, they will also work together at the store level to accomplish sustainability goals designed to improve the local community. For instance, some stores have developed recycling programs or are helping their local community to clean up wildlife areas.

"PSPs are about making and sustaining one simple change in life that you can be passionate about -- anything from riding a bike to work or using eco-friendly household cleaning products to eating healthy meals instead of fast food or recycling at home," said Andy Ruben, vice president for corporate strategy and sustainability. "It's about making choices that make a real difference in both your personal health and the health of the planet."

Start the New Year With a Clean Slate

The fresh, and cold, start to the New Year provides you the opportunity to begin with a clean slate. You have nearly a year to make the lifestyle, career, spiritual, mental or physical changes that you have been wanting to make.

A client recently pointed out his number one goal for 2007. Big surprise here...it is to discover and fulfill his True Calling, but more specifically for him, he will know he has found it if it provides the following which he sourced from Thomas Stanley's, The Millionaire Mind:

  • You love your work and it excites you every day.

  • You know that your chosen vocation is one that allows you full use of your abilities and aptitudes.

  • You get high self esteem from your work.

  • You are absolutely certain that your vocation will make you financially independent one day.

Don't we all want this? After reading them I realized they applied to all of us who truly want to be doing what we were put here to do.

Whatever your wish may be - begin it now - don't wait. Inertia begets inertia.

It is going to be a year of positive change and growth for Dynimus. We have some major changes coming up that will add tremendous value to your Career Development firm. Stay tuned!

By the way if you know someone who would benefit from one of our Programs please let us know. 90% of our growth has come from client referrals. Just make sure your referral uses your name once they start the Program and you will receive a $100 gift card.