Monthly Archives: March 2013

12 Rx For Effective Management

12 Rx for Effective Management

           Here is a compilation of ideas two entrepreneurs learned on their way to retirement.  “A” stands for Art and “G” stands for Gabriele (wife).

Rx 1 (A):  Harvard MBA – If you can find a way, get one.  Whatever the price, whatever the disruption in your life.  It will be the best investment you ever made.

Rx 2 (G):  The value of diversity – You learn from different cultures and from a variety of different perspectives.  A diverse group is more productive than a homogenous group.

Rx 3 (A):  You can’t manage what you don’t measure.  You have to measure everything you can.  Time is the most important resource you and your employees have.  Timesheets are essential for everyone, including you.  You must analyze them and fine-tune them.  Is the time invested matching your priorities?

Rx 4 (G):  What get’s rewarded, get’s repeated.  It’s simple – if someone does something you like, tell them.  The more you compliment, the more that task or job will be done the way you want.

Rx 5 (A):  It costs 5x more to find and sell a new customer than increase sales to a current customer/client.

Rx 6 (G):  Cut your losses as soon as you can.  Whether it’s a bad project, a client you’re losing money on or a poorly performing employee, stop stalling and do what you know you have to do – terminate.

Rx 7 (A):  Don’t talk price – talk added value.  More people go out of business because they want to be the lowest price rather than the ones who sell value.

Rx 8 (G):  The best way to predict the future…is to create it and you create your future by planning.  You need a business plan and/or a strategic plan.  At the very least you need a marketing plan.  It’s hard to get there unless you know where you’re going.

Rx 9 (A):  Options – things are rarely black or white.  Particularly in the face of adversity – think about stepping stones, think about all your options.

Rx 10 (G):  Think big – dream a little about what you can do with your business.  Don’t be willing to settle for small.  How big do you want to be?  What role do you want to play?

Rx 11 (A):  With all the current emphasis on team building and empowerment, in the final analysis, someone has to lead.  Management is about things and process.  People need leadership.

Rx 12 (G):  Remember success is not forever unless you can keep reinventing yourself and/or your business – and failure isn’t fatal.  There are always ways to recover and come back.

We hope you can keep some of these things in mind and use them to your advantage.

ArtSchwartzSig

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Blog

MAKING SURE EVERY VOTE COUNTS

Nothing is more fundamental in an effective democracy than an unimpeachable voting system.  This is an absolute necessity so that the electorate has confidence that each vote counts and the results are beyond question.

We don’t accurately know the extent of the voting problem, but there are obvious corrections needed all along the voting food chain.  To ignore them and allow them to grow is an invitation to be a determining factor in a close election.  That just isn’t good democracy.  Making all legitimate votes count is vital.

In order to insure a totally sound voting system we would suggest five steps to meet this criteria:

  1. Eliminate the Electoral College.  In this day and age it creates more confusion as well as selective campaigning.
  2. The election cycles need to be shorter, much shorter.  In the current system primaries run almost two years and the general election runs about six months.  The cost of this elongated cycle is obscene.  In 2012 it is estimated over $8 billion was spent on all state and national elections.  Perhaps worst of all the never-ending cycles turn voters off.  Maybe that’s why only 60% of the registered voters actually vote.

Primaries could be limited to 90 days for the expenditure of any money to reach the public in any media; broadcast, print, direct mail, internet or billboards on behalf of a candidate.  General elections could also be limited to 60 or 90 days with the same prohibitions.

  1. Voter registration rolls maintained by each state must be current and cleansed of illegal aliens, felons, duplicates and voters who have passed away.
  2. Voter ID cards are the simplest, easiest way to authenticate the person voting is a qualified, registered voter.  You need a card to fly, to prove auto and health insurance.  There is no rational reason to keep fighting this issue.
  3. The counting of ballots must be made as foolproof as possible and is perhaps the most vulnerable step in our current system.  Dr. Barbara Simons writing in her recent book, “Broken Ballots—Will Your Vote Count,” offers her advice on the best voting system we can use.

The first step, according to Dr. Simons, is to use paper ballots followed by scanning each ballot into a computer which can count results within minutes.  The paper ballot is always available as a backup checkpoint.

No other system, according to Dr. Simons, using machines, the internet or a computer is as error free.

The best insurance in a democracy is to make voting as foolproof as possible and get the most turnout possible.  It would also help if Washington stopped playing politics with some of these issues.

ArtSchwartzSig

1 Comment

Filed under Blog

The 6 Things All New Employees Should Be Told

THE 6 THINGS ALL NEW EMPLOYEES SHOULD BE TOLD (excerpted from an article by Robert Holland)

Among the most important communication activities an organization can perform occurs in the first few months of a new employee’s tenure.  Human resources folks often call it “onboarding” – orienting new hires to their environment, their jobs, and the company’s culture.

Here are the basic things an organization should communicate to new employees in the first weeks of their tenure:

1.               Roles and responsibilities.  Employees should understand exactly what their jobs consist of, what they are responsible for doing, and the parameters within which they can operate.  These should be clearly outlined before an employee is hired, of course, but they should be reinforced during orientation.

2.               Expectations.  Employees should know what is expected of them, both from a job performance perspective and behaviorally.  The more specific the expectations – with examples of desired behaviors and performance milestones – the better.

3.               Culture.  New employees should understand “how we do things around here.”  This is perhaps the most critical information a supervisor can share.  Each organization has a unique culture.  Moving from one to another can be difficult.  Mentorship by longer-term employees can greatly benefit newcomers when it comes to navigating the organization’s culture.

4.               Where to find the information and who to go to.  In order to be productive from day one, new employees must learn where they can go to learn all they can about the organization and to get answers to their questions.  A culture of honesty is important here; employees must be safe in asking even tough questions and they must expect the answers to be candid.

5.               How to get things done.  Each organization has its unwritten rules about how things get done.  Supervisors must coach their employees in the politics of the organization and how to build support for employees’ projects and ideas.

6.               Organizational values.  It’s rare to find an organization without a stated set of values these days.  The values should be clearly communicated and defined so that new employees understand what is expected of them from an ethical standpoint.

Orienting new employees properly is critical, for the employee and organization.  An employee who is given little guidance on navigating the organization may end up going in the wrong direction and making the wrong decisions.  His/her coworkers might then perceive that he/she lacks good judgment and can’t get things done – a perception that is difficult to overcome once it takes hold.  An organization that does a poor job of orienting employees misses the opportunity to get the most out of employees from the start because the employees and their supervisors are busy rectifying problems instead of moving forward.

ArtSchwartzSig

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog

A SHORT HISTORY OF A SMALL BEGINNING

A SHORT HISTORY OF A SMALL BEGINNING

            In the early dawn of the civil rights movement, about 1949, the confluence of two rivers of action joined at the University of Connecticut to create the first intercultural college fraternity in New England.

The University was set to open a quadrangle of dormitory buildings for the many national fraternities who had chapters at UCONN.  About the same time Gerry Brown and Donny Conn, two local boys who came back to attend UCONN after attending separate colleges in Ohio where they enjoyed the experience of interracial-interreligious fraternities.

They joined forces to start a similar group at UCONN and went to the University Housing officials with their idea.  The University had uncommitted buildings in the quadrangle and agreed to give the boys a chance.

This was how, in the fall of 1950, Beta Gamma Sigma was brought to life.  It started with a small group of UCONN students recruited by Brown and Conn who believed that equality and unity were the right measure of association rather than race, creed or national origin.

The dorm had about 40 double rooms and had a kitchen and dining room serving breakfast and dinner.  The new fraternity was responsible to run the meal service as well as furnish the first floor lounge.  The new dorm rooms not occupied by fraternity members were rented to other students.

The administration decided that each dormitory grouping should have a governing council to regulate the activities and behavior of that grouping.  The inter-fraternity council requested that it be the governing body for the fraternity quadrangle.  Beta Sig had no representation.  The administration agreed and notified the council that it must recognize every fraternity dormitory in its quadrangle or else a separate governing body would have to be formed.  The inter-fraternity council subsequently acceded to Bet Sig’s membership.

The fraternities’ initial coup was the confrontation with the inter-fraternity council.  Having applied for membership, the council requested an evaluation of Beta Sig’s constitutions.  The application was rejected as the council concluded that the basic tenets of a democratic system of accepting members made it more of a club than a fraternity.  The interracial/religious element, they concluded, would not create a cohesive group, therefore a brotherhood spirit would have difficulty existing.  In their eyes, Beta Sig did not exist as a fraternity.

There were skeptics and naysayers of every ilk.  Some thought everyone was segregated by floors or rooms and could not believe everyone lived together and randomly could be roommates, all religions – all races.

Now on the offensive, Beta Sig asked to examine the constitution of the fraternities and the inter-fraternity council to decide whether it wished to be allied with such a group.  Finding discriminatory clauses in most constitutions, Beta Sig notified the University they considered that such organizations had no right to occupy state-owned property.  The inter-fraternity council also had a blackball system of accepting members and Beta Sig could not be allied with such a group that was so undemocratic unless they changed its constitution.  The University gave the fraternities one year to erase discriminatory clauses.  If their national organization refused, they would have to become independent fraternities or abandon their dormitories.  The inter-fraternity council changed its constitution to accommodate Beta Sig’s request.

The other fraternities gradually came to accept Beta Sig mainly because a lot of the Beta Sig members were musicians and athletes.  The athletes helped Beta Sig win intramural championships in basketball and track.  The musicians had a corner on supplying bands for any frat that wanted to host a party.

To raise money to furnish the Beta Sig lounge, Donny Conn arranged to sponsor a George Shearing (modern jazz) concert.  This was the first time a popular recording artist appeared on an American college campus.  The concert was a great success, but a lesson in naiveté was learned from the experience.  The sponsor royalty to help finance the lounge never came through.

The Beta Sig credo and constitution were actually revolutionary for Greek letter society in its time.  New members were voted in by majority vote.  There was to blackball and no hazing of pledges.  But things changed on campuses in the early 60’s and almost all fraternities had their token “liberalism” and some became extremely radical toward the end of the decade.
So Beta Sig’s uniqueness was gone.  Beta Sig assimilated to the norm for other campus fraternities—less fun and craziness, more “social graces,” more serious about school and academics in general.  The fraternity was a place to live.

By the late 60’s college campuses all over the country were the leading elements in the counterculture, anti-war, anti-establishment feeling.  The UCONN president decided that fraternities should no longer be houses on State property.  He felt that they (the fraternities) were counterproductive, elitists, undemocratic, and unnecessary (he may have been right).  They all had short notice to move from the north campus dorms.  Only a handful of the fraternities were able to survive.  Beta Sig was one of the few who bought a big red house off campus.

About 560 men and, later, even a few women, carried the banner of Beta Sig over its 30-year lifespan.

There was a special feeling among the members of Beta Sigma Gamma.  We shared a common cause and a unique experience.  It all seems pretty tame now, but starting an intercultural fraternity back in 1950 without a blackball system, hazing, or many of the other trappings of Greek life really was quite an adventure in human relations.  Looking back at it now, it was sort of a “anti-fraternity” fraternity.

We survived the outside skeptics and even overcame our own naiveté.  We had a great debate over a quota system which fortunately went nowhere—and the comic drama that was created for a pledge induction ceremony was a total hoot.

It was more than just living with a bunch of guys at college—it was a rich and rewarding adventure and perhaps the greatest learning experience of our lives.

We’ll never relive—or bring back those days—but we often rekindle some very fond memories and light the spark of renewed friendships.  We shared a great deal at a very vital and formative part of our lives.

We were at the forefront of a movement we thought and hoped would spread to all the colleges as well as the adult communities across America.  It’s disappointing to note that it didn’t happen and today the whole trend on college campuses seems to be in reverse.  There appears to be much more selective choice and segregation at the colleges by race and ethnicity.  The status today is anti-diversity and will not help to foster understanding or bring people together.

“Some people strengthen the society just by being the kind of people they are.”  I hope in a small way we did too.

ArtSchwartzSig

6 Comments

Filed under Blog

A SHORT HISTORY OF A SMALL BEGINNING

A SHORT HISTORY OF A SMALL BEGINNING

            In the early dawn of the civil rights movement, about 1949, the confluence of two rivers of action joined at the University of Connecticut to create the first intercultural college fraternity in New England.

The University was set to open a quadrangle of dormitory buildings for the many national fraternities who had chapters at UCONN.  About the same time Gerry Brown and Donny Conn, two local boys who came back to attend UCONN after attending separate colleges in Ohio where they enjoyed the experience of interracial-interreligious fraternities.

They joined forces to start a similar group at UCONN and went to the University Housing officials with their idea.  The University had uncommitted buildings in the quadrangle and agreed to give the boys a chance.

This was how, in the fall of 1950, Beta Gamma Sigma was brought to life.  It started with a small group of UCONN students recruited by Brown and Conn who believed that equality and unity were the right measure of association rather than race, creed or national origin.

The dorm had about 40 double rooms and had a kitchen and dining room serving breakfast and dinner.  The new fraternity was responsible to run the meal service as well as furnish the first floor lounge.  The new dorm rooms not occupied by fraternity members were rented to other students.

The administration decided that each dormitory grouping should have a governing council to regulate the activities and behavior of that grouping.  The inter-fraternity council requested that it be the governing body for the fraternity quadrangle.  Beta Sig had no representation.  The administration agreed and notified the council that it must recognize every fraternity dormitory in its quadrangle or else a separate governing body would have to be formed.  The inter-fraternity council subsequently acceded to Bet Sig’s membership.

The fraternities’ initial coup was the confrontation with the inter-fraternity council.  Having applied for membership, the council requested an evaluation of Beta Sig’s constitutions.  The application was rejected as the council concluded that the basic tenets of a democratic system of accepting members made it more of a club than a fraternity.  The interracial/religious element, they concluded, would not create a cohesive group, therefore a brotherhood spirit would have difficulty existing.  In their eyes, Beta Sig did not exist as a fraternity.

There were skeptics and naysayers of every ilk.  Some thought everyone was segregated by floors or rooms and could not believe everyone lived together and randomly could be roommates, all religions – all races.

Now on the offensive, Beta Sig asked to examine the constitution of the fraternities and the inter-fraternity council to decide whether it wished to be allied with such a group.  Finding discriminatory clauses in most constitutions, Beta Sig notified the University they considered that such organizations had no right to occupy state-owned property.  The inter-fraternity council also had a blackball system of accepting members and Beta Sig could not be allied with such a group that was so undemocratic unless they changed its constitution.  The University gave the fraternities one year to erase discriminatory clauses.  If their national organization refused, they would have to become independent fraternities or abandon their dormitories.  The inter-fraternity council changed its constitution to accommodate Beta Sig’s request.

The other fraternities gradually came to accept Beta Sig mainly because a lot of the Beta Sig members were musicians and athletes.  The athletes helped Beta Sig win intramural championships in basketball and track.  The musicians had a corner on supplying bands for any frat that wanted to host a party.

To raise money to furnish the Beta Sig lounge, Donny Conn arranged to sponsor a George Shearing (modern jazz) concert.  This was the first time a popular recording artist appeared on an American college campus.  The concert was a great success, but a lesson in naiveté was learned from the experience.  The sponsor royalty to help finance the lounge never came through.

The Beta Sig credo and constitution were actually revolutionary for Greek letter society in its time.  New members were voted in by majority vote.  There was to blackball and no hazing of pledges.  But things changed on campuses in the early 60’s and almost all fraternities had their token “liberalism” and some became extremely radical toward the end of the decade.
So Beta Sig’s uniqueness was gone.  Beta Sig assimilated to the norm for other campus fraternities—less fun and craziness, more “social graces,” more serious about school and academics in general.  The fraternity was a place to live.

By the late 60’s college campuses all over the country were the leading elements in the counterculture, anti-war, anti-establishment feeling.  The UCONN president decided that fraternities should no longer be houses on State property.  He felt that they (the fraternities) were counterproductive, elitists, undemocratic, and unnecessary (he may have been right).  They all had short notice to move from the north campus dorms.  Only a handful of the fraternities were able to survive.  Beta Sig was one of the few who bought a big red house off campus.

About 560 men and, later, even a few women, carried the banner of Beta Sig over its 30-year lifespan.

There was a special feeling among the members of Beta Sigma Gamma.  We shared a common cause and a unique experience.  It all seems pretty tame now, but starting an intercultural fraternity back in 1950 without a blackball system, hazing, or many of the other trappings of Greek life really was quite an adventure in human relations.  Looking back at it now, it was sort of a “anti-fraternity” fraternity.

We survived the outside skeptics and even overcame our own naiveté.  We had a great debate over a quota system which fortunately went nowhere—and the comic drama that was created for a pledge induction ceremony was a total hoot.

It was more than just living with a bunch of guys at college—it was a rich and rewarding adventure and perhaps the greatest learning experience of our lives.

We’ll never relive—or bring back those days—but we often rekindle some very fond memories and light the spark of renewed friendships.  We shared a great deal at a very vital and formative part of our lives.

We were at the forefront of a movement we thought and hoped would spread to all the colleges as well as the adult communities across America.  It’s disappointing to note that it didn’t happen and today the whole trend on college campuses seems to be in reverse.  There appears to be much more selective choice and segregation at the colleges by race and ethnicity.  The status today is anti-diversity and will not help to foster understanding or bring people together.

“Some people strengthen the society just by being the kind of people they are.”  I hope in a small way we did too.

ArtSchwartzSig

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog