Author Archives: AZ Big Media

AZ Big Media

About AZ Big Media

AZ Big Media has grown to cover a multitude of niche topics and industries within its various publications, and become a host for a series of publication-related events and statewide expos.

Paint Pots

Five Things to Do This Week: Nov. 6 to Nov. 12

November kicks off with a traditional western cook-off and the annual Scottsdale Fall for the Arts festival. Don’t forget to share with us your photos of you enjoying these events with the hashtag #SL5 and follow us @scottsdaleliving on Instagram!

 

Nov. 7th-10th: 2nd Annual Scottsdale Fall for the Arts

Experience the artistic culture of Scottsdale and explore nearly 100 art galleries, world-class performances and museums this weekend. Located in the Scottsdale Arts District, this four-day celebration includes an art walk, Diavolo Dance Theater, West Select sale, Canal Convergence, Paint Out Quick Draw Auction, Conversations with Artists, street chalk event and a Beaux Arts fundraiser. Prices vary upon event.

Events Ticket Prices:

  • West Select Sale: $35-$125
  • Diavolo Dance Theater: $29
  • Beaux Arts Fundraiser: $125
  • Artwalk, Paint Out Quick Draw Auction, Canal Convergence, conversations with artists, street chalk event: Free admission

For more information, visit www.ScottsdaleFallfortheArts.com

 

Nov. 7th-10th: 24th Annual Arizona Classic Jazz Festival

Get jazzy this weekend at the San Marcos Resort (One N. San Marcos Place) in Chandler. Experience the musical styling’s of jazz bands from across Europe and the US. This swinging event celebrates the evolution of the jazz genre, featuring swing and ragtime, gospel and traditional jazz. Tickets start $15 and go up to $90.

For more information: www.azclassicjazz.org

 

Nov. 8th & 9th: Holiday-Themed Musical Comedy

The holidays are just around the corner and there’s no better way to get into the yuletide spirit than through your funny bone! Come join the Phoenix based comedy troupe The [SIC] Sense for a few holiday laughs in their annual holiday show ‘Tis the SICness. This comical event will begin at 9:30pm in the Basement Theatre at Phoenix Center for the Arts; located at 1202 N. 3rd St. Tickets are $15 online and $20 at the door. This is a 21+ event.

For more information: www.tisthesicness.brownpapertickets.com

 

Nov. 8th-10th: Chandler Chuck Wagon Cook-Off

Take a journey back to the Old West and witness a culinary showdown as teams from across the US battle it out in authentic 1880s chuck wagons using only historic cooking methods. Enjoy live music and taste the flavors of the wild, wild, west. Tumbleweed Ranch will be hosting this free event, located at 2250 S. McQueen Rd.

For more information: www.chandleraz.gov/default.aspx?pageid=289

 

Nov. 9th: Greater Phoenix Light the Night Walk

Grab your walking shoes, bring your friends and family, and come to Tempe Arts Park this Saturday to celebrate the lives of those affected by cancer. Hosted by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, this event will touch your heart as supporters light up the sky to celebrate survivors and honor the lives lost. There will be a one-mile walk, food and live entertainment. Tempe Arts Park is located at 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway.

For more information: www.lightthenight.org/az

stk135508rke

The 7 Deadly Networking Sins

From networking events, holiday office parties, to social networking sites, opportunities to “meet” new connections abound. Exactly how do you make the most of every introduction? Let’s start with what not to do. Whether you associate the “seven deadly sins” with medieval religious teachings or modern-day entertainment, they can be applied here to build your reputation and your business. Be sure to avoid these seven deadly networking sins:

Pride
If you don’t believe in you, who will? Self-promotion requires tact. Toot your horn too often or too loudly and all you can expect is a wave of unreturned messages and deleted connections. People are attracted to authenticity. Crafting a false image is a turnoff to all.

Solution:  Share your accomplishments and the spotlight with those who contributed to your success. You might even score bonus exposure by reaching beyond your network.

Greed
If your concerns are your only concerns, why should others care about you? But when you seek to meet others’ needs and do a great job, they’ll be more inclined to reciprocate. Reversing that sequence will surely prevent it.

Solution:  Focus your messages and offerings on the interests and needs of your audience, not what you’re looking to promote.

Lust
If you’re too eager or lusting after the attention of others, your otherwise professional efforts can lead to a very unprofessional reputation. Nobody invites crossing the line of acceptable and professional efforts with that of becoming a pest revealing personal cravings over that of the other’s needs.

Solution:  You can’t force someone to reciprocate. Do what you said you’d do or send what you promised and let the rest happen naturally.

Anger
If you read a comment with unintended sarcasm or interpret a short missive as an angry one, you might be tempted to reciprocate in kind. The power of a smile and laughter can produce priceless and ever-expanding opportunities, but the consequences of discourtesy are immediately and potentially irreversibly destructive.

Solution:  Consider communication carefully. Responding in anger can destroy your reputation and your relationships.

Gluttony
If you’re sending mass relationship-building emails or group texts in an effort to save yourself time and effort, you risk losing the opportunity for the gesture to be regarded as sincere and to be taken seriously. By default, “mass” is mutually exclusive of “personal.”

Solution:  Balance group messages by inviting personal responses of interest. Or, better, communicate one-on-one whenever possible.

Envy
If you’re building yourself up at the expense of others by putting them down, your need for the spotlight will backfire. Don’t focus on what others have or the connections others have made. Set your own relationship goals based on what you have to offer your network, not what you seek to gain from them.

Solution:  Congratulate others on their successes instead of stewing on what you haven’t yet accomplished.

Sloth
If your efforts to connect or stay in touch border on the apathetic, you need to shape up, perhaps in more ways than one. A lack of drive and determination to “exercise” meaningful connections and capitalize on opportunities will only result in relationship atrophy.

Solution:  Schedule regular communication and be sure to engage when opportunity presents–most certainly at holiday office parties and social gatherings. It may be drudgery as the start of any exercise regimen can be, but positive results will prove worth the time and effort.

Each and every one of these sins is easy to fall prey to but just as easy to avoid. However, it does take conscious thought, determined actions, and purpose of focus toward others to realize optimal relationship value that rewards all parties all the time.

What is ultimately at stake here is development of your personal brand. Fundamentally, there is no value in being unlikable. Generally speaking, the complete antidote to the seven deadly sins is nothing more than simply being nice to all people all the time. In fact, some relationship experts estimated that simply being nice can result in a 30 to 40% increase in success over those people and/or companies that are not nice. Who ever thought that simply being nice could in fact be the very thing that completely sets you apart and distinct from everyone else, and helps pave your road to success?

CRM pioneer Mike Muhney, the co-creator of ACT! software (credited as the catalyst for the “customer relationship management” industry), is CEO of mobile relationship management purveyor vipOrbit—the first relationship-centric contact manager solution enabling mobile business professionals to manage their contacts, calendar and client/customer interactions across Mac, iPhone and iPad platforms. He may be reached at www.VIPOrbit.com.

AllanKlose

Looming changes to lease accounting standards

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has been working to finalize changes to the lease accounting standards.  Recently, the AICPA Financial Reporting Executive Committee (FinREC) provided FASB with recommendations to the lease accounting proposal (see the full article at http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/News/20138910.htm).  FinREC believes its recommendations would simplify what will be a very complex process of adopting the new lease standards once they are finalized.

The momentum of this project suggests that the “right of use” model, which generally requires leases with terms in excess of twelve months to be captured as an asset and liability on the balance sheet, will become a reality.

With that in mind, companies should take a close look at their current property and equipment capitalization policies to make sure they are reasonable in light of the size and nature of the company’s operations.  A reasonable capitalization threshold may allow a company to determine that small leases would not be subject to capitalization under a “right of use model”.  At a minimum, this may reduce the volume of leases that would require retrospective adoption of the new lease standards.

 

Allan Klose is an audit manager with the Attest Division of CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann P.C.’s Phoenix office.  Allan serves clients in a wide array of industries and serves as a key member of the firm’s nonprofit practice group. His extensive experience focuses on complex accounting issues including contribution accounting, agency transactions, and endowment accounting as well as assisting clients with the complex fair value (FASB ASC Topic 820) and lease (FASB ASC 840) reporting requirements. In addition to serving his clients, he speaks at various educational events both within the firm and externally to the public.

flu

Who Should Get Their Flu Shot?

Getting your flu shot is even more critical when you are pregnant or have recently given birth, a University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix faculty member warns.

“Influenza is more dangerous in pregnant women than other women because the changes in the immune system while you are carrying your child,” said Maria Manriquez, MD, who is also an obstetrics/gynecological physician at Maricopa Medical Center. “That’s why it is imperative that pregnant women get their flu shot now that we are entering the season.”

The first Arizona flu case was reported earlier this month.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, influenza is five times more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant. Pregnant women undergo changes in their immune systems, heart and lungs while pregnant making them more susceptible. Pregnant women with the flu also increase their risk of premature labor and delivery, the CDC says.

Vaccination during pregnancy has been shown to protect both the mother and child up to six months of age. Flu vaccines are not given to children until six months after they are born.

“Millions of pregnant women have received flu shots over the last several years and it has not been shown that it did any harm to mothers or babies,” Dr. Manriquez said. “In fact, it likely saved many of these women from getting sick or passing on sickness to their infant.”

The CDC said women at any point in their pregnancy can receive a flu shot and should get the vaccine rather than the nasal spray. Physicians also say women should get inoculated after they have given birth, even if they are breastfeeding, and can receive either type of vaccine.

Z-SSH-M-0020

UA, SynDaver Announce Collaboration

Medical education at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix has received a big boost with the latest in simulation technology from SynDaver™ Labs – and the city will get an economic boost as well.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, UA College of Medicine – Phoenix Dean Stuart D. Flynn, MD, and SynDaver™ Labs’ President Christopher Sakezles, PhD, on Wednesday, announced an exclusive collaboration between the medical school and Tampa, Fla.,-based SynDaver™ Labs. Sakezles said it could create up to 1,000 jobs over the next several years.

“We are bringing SynDaver to the forefront of medical education,” said Teresa Wu, MD, an emergency room physician at Maricopa Medical Center and faculty member of the college. “We are developing a team of practitioners that is going to help enhance medical education and improve patient safety.”

The announcement was during in an exclusive demonstration event at the Arizona Center for Simulation and Experiential Learning, on the fourth floor of the Health Sciences Education Building on campus.

“This collaboration places our college on a trajectory as a national leader among elite medical schools in simulation technology,” Dr. Flynn said. “We are ensuring medical education is not just on the cutting edge, but visionary in preparing our students to serve for the decades to come.”

Developed by SynDaver Labs, the teaching tools helps in anatomy and physiology instruction for medical and other health-related education. The company manufactures the world’s most sophisticated synthetic human tissues and body parts.

“This is all about medical education and reducing the cost of health care in general,” said Sakezles, the founder of SynDaver™ Labs. “Simulation is one of the ways we are going to do that. This particular technology is transformational. It’s been in the works for about two decades now.”

The technology is used to replace live animals, cadavers, and human patients in clinical training and surgical simulation.

“SynDaver models are unique and they are one of the best in the country, they were actually developed to allow medical students the opportunity to practice procedures and to develop skills they normally would have to do on patients in the past,” Dr. Wu said. “But now they have these task trainers that are realistic and life-like that they can practice their procedures on prior to doing it on a live patient.”

The simulation center is a new, state-of-the-art endeavor that combines technology with healthcare-focused education. Students get to learn the difficulties faced every day in the medical world, no matter how much experience they have. The simulation lab can be set up to encompass a wide variety of situations, training the students for the world they will soon enter in real patient care.

121277693

UA Offers Master’s Program in Health Administration

To help meet the growing demand for health care administrators, the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona in Phoenix will begin offering a new accredited Master of Public Health (MPH) in Health Services Administration program in fall 2014.

“In the rapidly changing healthcare environment, administrative positions are one of the targeted areas for growth,” said Dr. Iman Hakim, dean and professor of the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health. “The passage of the Affordable Care Act and roll-out of the health insurance marketplace only magnifies the urgency to fill the pipeline with highly trained health care professionals.”

The southwest and border communities face unique issues including high rates of uninsured, unemployment, and low education attainment.

“All of these issues affect health and well-being,” said Cecilia Rosales, MD, MS, associate professor and director of the college’s Phoenix programs. “They impact our agencies and health-care systems every day. Arizona needs a well-trained workforce that understands these issues and is prepared to manage the human and fiscal resources needed to deliver effective public health services.”

The health services administration program will provide students with the knowledge of how health care services function and the business and leadership skills needed to manage them effectively in health care services organizations. The curriculum is comprised of both public health and health administration courses, with a goal to graduate highly qualified health care administrators. Courses will be offered through a hybrid of online and classroom teaching at both the Phoenix and Tucson campuses.

Rosales said the accredited program will help state and local health agencies and health-care systems by providing a workforce with skills in leadership, financial management, health informatics, marketing and human resources.

“If you go into health services administration, whether a public or private entity, you can specialize in planning, organization, policy formulation and analysis finance, economics and marketing. Expertise in dealing with these issues can be exported to other states and applied to other constituencies throughout the U.S,” said Rosales.

Rosales added, “The array of administrative requirements necessary to successfully run a complex health care organization is broad, and the significance of providing training in this complex area simply cannot be overstated. The unique combination of public health and health care administration classes in this accredited curriculum will provide students with the tools they need to understand the multifaceted administrative and business aspects of health care.”

The master’s degree in Health Services Administration is a two-year accredited program for full-time students, and offers a part-time track for students who need the flexibility. The curriculum is tailored towards working professionals in health systems, health agencies, third- party payers and health-care supply chain organizations.

Students will have the added benefit of learning from local and nationally recognized faculty members who understand Arizona’s health care issues. “Our faculty are available to meet with students in person and provide timely and meaningful mentoring,” added Rosales.

For more information about the new degree program please contact Kim Barnes at the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health-Phoenix: (602) 827-2070, coph-phoenix@email.arizona.edu.

Deliver on Your ROI, Business Meetings

Keeping High-Profile Meetings Safe and Secure

Before the advent of smart phones, planting covert listening devices was the most popular way to illegally record content from a private meeting. Today, with an estimated 130 million smartphones in use in the United States, every user has the potential to be a covert meeting operative with their own Wi-Fi receiver, camera, audio recorder, keyboard and computer at their disposal.

Maintaining security and privacy for high profile meetings is vital whether it is a shareholder meeting, political fundraiser or internal executive meeting. When off-the-cuff comments made by Mitt Romney at a fundraiser were recorded and posted online, his political campaign took a negative hit. The theft of intellectual property costs American businesses billions each year. Discussions of proprietary information may include customer pricing, R&D and production processes, marketing and advertising strategies, legal issues and salary information. How can corporate and government leaders ensure that their meetings are safe and secure and that proprietary information is not leaked?

As a security and law enforcement professional, I have been responsible for the safety and security of Fortune 500 executives and have seen the positive results of a well-planned meeting. These guidelines can help establish processes and protocols to keep people and information protected.

Pre-Planning is Critical – About three months before the meeting, all critical parties (human resources, legal, internal security, external security, local law enforcement and facilities) should meet to begin the planning process and assess the level of risk associated with this meeting. Questions to ask include: how many people are expected, where the meeting is being held (off-site or at corporate headquarters) and what are the parking logistics? Will there be sufficient security personnel assigned to the meeting? What is the training of these officers?  Who would have an interest in the content of the meeting? How could this content be utilized?

While corporate locations generally already have significant security controls in place, an important meeting could attract crowds or protesters or the content of the meeting may be such that additional security measures are required. Additionally, off-site meeting locations such as hotels and convention centers demand more advance planning so that each area to be accessed is reviewed and accounted for from a security perspective.

Effective pre-planning also includes social media and news monitoring to assess what topics are prominent in the news and how the individual company may factor in. For example: if it is an energy company, how are their environmental practices interpreted by organizations such as Greenpeace, and what impact might that have? Active social media monitoring of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other channels can help intercept and prevent potential flash mob scenarios.

One month before the meeting, a tabletop exercise should be conducted where everyone is tasked with creating potential meeting crisis situations such as a medical emergency, disruptive attendee or water main break.

Establish Security Protocol – Access control is critical and every meeting attendee should be thoroughly vetted, ensuring their identity matches their state or federal identification. The security firm should engage in an electronic sweep of the meeting room right before it starts to ensure there are no surreptitious listening devices planted. Metal detectors at the point of meeting entry should be employed.

All meeting attendees should be aware that security protocol is in place which could include:

  • Pocketbook and briefcase check – Smartphones, computers, iPads and video and audio recorders should be removed and stored in a safe location.
  • Corporate Computer Used for Presentations – Speakers should provide their PowerPoint presentations in advance and all presentations should be run off of one master encrypted computer that is pre-screened for bugs.
  • Post-Meeting Material Check – There should be a review of all written material taken by meeting attendees to ensure that no sensitive information leaves the meeting room.

Attendees should be briefed by the security team on appropriate protocol both during and after the meeting. Many secrets have been divulged at the hotel bar or gym when executives are not aware that competitors are located at an adjacent bar stool or treadmill.

Security protocol should also account for meeting disruption. A shareholder who owns just one share of a company’s stock can lawfully gain access to a shareholder’s meeting. It is not uncommon for an activist to purchase a solitary share for this reason. While every shareholder has a right to ask questions during a shareholder’s meeting, no one has the right to be purposefully disruptive. It is important to pre-plan with corporate security and the company’s public relations department to establish protocols to handle a disruptive questioner, or even uninvited media.

Meeting Monitoring – Security and surveillance should remain in full force throughout the meeting. Security officers should conduct continual perimeter checks of the surrounding areas.  There should be electronic and physical monitoring during the meeting. Make sure that all unencrypted wireless microphones, which can transmit meeting content outside of the room, have been removed and replaced with encrypted ones.

Escape Clause – Sometimes even the best laid plans can result in an unexpected surprise. A meeting that becomes unruly, for example, may require that the CEO and other top executives are able to depart the premises safely and quickly. Advance of the meeting, all escape routes should be detailed along with vehicles staged with drivers who can whisk away executives at a moment’s notice. If it is not possible to get the executives out of the building, it should be determined what the shelter in place plan is and that that this temporary shelter includes sufficient food and water.

Effective meeting security must also consider the health and welfare of all meeting attendees.  If an attendee has a medical emergency, can the company access medical personnel quietly and without public incident? A CEO of a publicly traded company who suffers a heart attack, for example, should not be wheeled out to awaiting ambulances at the main entrance where people can observe his condition. Crowds can impede departure and news of a CEO’s negative health issues could adversely affect stock price.

Confidentiality for All –Everyone who comes into contact with the meeting personnel (event planning personnel, security, audiovisual technicians, foodservice, administrative personnel, etc.) should sign a confidentiality agreement on behalf of the corporation and/or hosting hotel or venue. This should include not just those assisting the day of the event but those involved in pre-event preparations as well.

Post-Meeting Review – Conducting a post-mortem meeting analysis is a valuable way to identify and document lessons learned from the project. The security and administrative team benefits from this post-meeting review of protocol and processes and is better equipped and prepared to face the next big meeting.

Meetings should not be publicized beyond the scope of meeting attendees. CEOs and other executives traveling to the meeting should be met by a driver who does not display the company name on their sign. There should not be any signs in the meeting location that draw attention to the nature of the meeting. Attendees should all understand that information should not be disseminated on any public Wi-Fi and that only secure, encrypted networks should be used.

These important events should never be an opportunity for corporate spies to gather proprietary information and intelligence. With proper planning, training and resources, all meetings can be safe, secure and productive.

 

Harlan Calhoun is Vice President, Operations for AlliedBarton Security Services, the industry’s premier provider of highly trained security personnel to many industries including commercial real estate, higher education, healthcare, residential communities, chemical/petrochemical, government, manufacturing and distribution, financial institutions, and shopping centers.

taxes

Taxpayers Should Take Advantage of IRS Changes

Unlike last year, tax planning for 2013 is not hampered by uncertainties over alooming fiscal cliff. Unfortunately, there is always some uncertainty and a few expiring provisions to warrant special attention by taxpayers.

Managing income taxes at year end involves techniques designed to address three issues:

• Accelerating or deferring income: If a taxpayer expects to be in the same or a lower tax bracket next year, it’s best to defer as much income as possible until after the yearend.
• Accelerating or deferring deductions: If a taxpayer’s overall tax rate is the same in both years, accelerating deductions achieves tax savings this year rather than waiting for those tax savings to materialize next year.
• Take advantage of tax provisions scheduled to expire at the end of 2013. There are several temporary tax provisions which can only be used this year.

Tax planning begins by projecting income and deductions for the year to determine your tax bracket and income thresholds that trigger higher and/or additional taxes, or limits the effectiveness of deductions.  One of the impacts ofthe American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA12)is the reintroduction of the Pease limitation, which can greatly limit itemized deductions.  Once a taxpayer knows what his or her income taxes will look like, it’s time to evaluate which techniques will help the most.

Strategies to accelerate or defer income:

• Adjust your elective deferral plans at work: Taxpayers who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, or in the Thrift Savings Plan can defer up to $17,500 this year.  Taxpayers age 50 and older can defer up to $23,000.
• Harvest capital gains or losses: Long-term capital gains are taxed at 0 percent for taxpayers in the 15 percent bracket.  Capital losses can be used to offset capital gains and reduce other income up to $3,000.
• Use the IRA. Taxpayers age 59 ½ and older can accelerate IRA distributions in 2013.  Contributions may be deductible depending on your income level and whether you’re covered by a retirement plan through work. Taxpayers under age 59½ can convert traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs to accelerate income.
• Health-care assistance: People with health savings accounts – available with some high-deductible health insurance policies — can save up to $3,250 tax-deferred for an individual and $6,450 for a family.Those who are55 and older can save an additional $1,000.  Flex spending contribution limits are capped at $2,500 this year.

Strategies to accelerate or defer deductions:

• Medical expenses: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) raises the income threshold this year to 10 percent of adjusted gross income for taxpayers under age 65.  The threshold remains at 7.5 percent for those 65 and older.  Taxpayers may need to prepare or defer medical bills to lump expenses in a single year to get the deduction.
• Gifts to charities: Use a donor advised fund (DAF) to maximize the tax savings from charitable giving.   A DAF makes gifting appreciated securities easier.  The DAF can be funded in tax years when the deduction will have the most impact.  Distribution to charities can be made at any time without tax consideration.
• Qualified Charitable Distribution: This year only, taxpayers age 70½ or older can choose to direct up to $100,000 of their IRA-required minimum distribution to charity.  By doing so, the distribution does not show up as taxable income, which can lower taxation of Social Security benefits and help reduce other threshold levels to further minimize taxes.

ATRA12 extended—but did not make permanent—several tax incentives for individuals.Taxpayers should consider whether they can benefit from these incentives this year and plan accordingly.  The following provisions are set to expire on Dec. 31 unless extended again:

• State and local sales taxes deduction.  Taxpayer can choose between deducting state and local income taxes or the sales taxes they’ve paid through the year.
• Deduction for teacher expenses. Eligible educators can deduct up to $250 of any unreimbursed expenses.
• Deduction of mortgage insurance premiums. Payments of Private Mortgage Insurance premiums can be treated as deductible home mortgage interest in 2013.
• Discharge of principal residence indebtedness. This can be excluded from gross income this year.
• Qualified Charitable Distribution. Taxpayers can make tax-free charitable donations from their required IRA distributions.

2013 is certainly an exciting year for tax planning. Start now in order to minimize your tax bill in April.

 

Certified Financial Planner® Rick Rodgers is president of Rodgers & Associates in Lancaster, Pa., and author of “The New Three-Legged Stool: A Tax Efficient Approach to Retirement Planning.”

crash

10 Tactics Insurance Companies Use to Deny Claims

After any kind of accident, from boating and automobile accidents to a dog bite or boating crash, the moments after can be confusing and frightening. Depending on your injuries and the situation, you may be looking at a personal injury lawsuit and in that case, it’s important to be on guard and and ready for anything that may be thrown at you.

Many people look to their insurance company for help through this difficult time, but that can detrimental to your case. It’s important to know the motivation behind the actions of insurance adjusters and act accordingly. Their primary focus is to save the insurance company money which means they do not have your best interests at heart. What may seem like friendly and concerned banter, could potentially hurt you in the future when making a claim. That’s why Phoenix personal injury attorneys Triumph Curiel and Derick Runion put together this list of Ten Tactics Insurance Companies Use to Deny Claims as well as the top ten insurance companies known for using them. It’s a must read for everyone and helps us all be better prepared if we end up in a frightening situation.

 

Carli Leavitt. Carli handles outreach and public relations for Phoenix personal injury law firm Curiel & Runion.

salad-at-gertrudes

Gertrude’s Plans Salt Smitten Dinner Oct. 24

Chef Stephen Eldridge knows a good thing when he sees it, and beyond that, the guy knows how to cook too. A recent trip to Gertrude’s for their Crafty Beer Dinner Part II, featured the Grand Canyon Brewing from Williams and their award winning line of craft beers and unique Flavor Bomb brews.

I was lucky enough to attend the dinner with my husband, my son and new daughter in law, who are both currently serving in the Army. Together, they flew in from Germany after two years away from home and surprised us. Between such a special surprise, the superb dishes created by Chef Eldridge and the ambiance of Gertrude’s, that dinner will live on in my heart and my memory forever.

Gertrude’s is the Desert Botanical Garden’s newest star. Open since January, the restaurant focuses on bringing the best of Arizona’s fresh, local ingredients directly from farm and pasture and to the plate.

Chef Stephen Eldridge states that his focus is highlighting the amazing bounty that Arizona has available, including herbs and vegetables from the chef’s gardens at the Desert Botanical Garden. Eldridge’s style is known as ‘Modern American Cuisine’ which he believes includes good food, great company, and the garden ambiance. If you have the opportunity to dine at Gertrude’s, don’t miss it.

Chef Eldridge is also well known for collaborating with other professionals and creating amazing dinners with unforgettable dishes that accentuate fresh ingredients.

The next amazing dining adventure is Salt Smitten Gertrude’s, which is planned for October 24 at 6:30 pm. Gertrude’s has partnered with Go lb. Salt and the two will prepare an amazing 6 course dinner that will be ‘salt centric’ and will begin with a cocktail flight pairing featuring High West Handcrafted Bourbons and Ryes.

The dinner will feature creative dishes that include 60 day aged Beef Tartar with pickled mushroom, a sunny side up quail egg with sea salt, herbed lavosh and Mediterranean sea salt, local onions with beef broth, fresh tarragon and thyme with Gruyere cheese, and Sel Gris de Guerande and Fume de Sal. As well as confit of wild boar with root vegetable hash, blood orange chutney and mesquite smoked sea salt.

And for a sweet and memorable ending, a Marcona Almond S’More with bourbon an cardamom eggnog, with a pistachio and preserved citrus marmalade frangipane with roasted honey and bourbon ice cream will be served. Tickets are $65 per person, + $25 for bourbon flights.

For reservations, call 480.719.8600.

salad-at-gertrudes

Gertrude’s Plans Salt Smitten Dinner Oct. 24

Chef Stephen Eldridge knows a good thing when he sees it, and beyond that, the guy knows how to cook too. A recent trip to Gertrude’s for their Crafty Beer Dinner Part II, featured the Grand Canyon Brewing from Williams and their award winning line of craft beers and unique Flavor Bomb brews.

I was lucky enough to attend the dinner with my husband, my son and new daughter in law, who are both currently serving in the Army. Together, they flew in from Germany after two years away from home and surprised us. Between such a special surprise, the superb dishes created by Chef Eldridge and the ambiance of Gertrude’s, that dinner will live on in my heart and my memory forever.

Gertrude’s is the Desert Botanical Garden’s newest star. Open since January, the restaurant focuses on bringing the best of Arizona’s fresh, local ingredients directly from farm and pasture and to the plate.

Chef Stephen Eldridge states that his focus is highlighting the amazing bounty that Arizona has available, including herbs and vegetables from the chef’s gardens at the Desert Botanical Garden. Eldridge’s style is known as ‘Modern American Cuisine’ which he believes includes good food, great company, and the garden ambiance. If you have the opportunity to dine at Gertrude’s, don’t miss it.

Chef Eldridge is also well known for collaborating with other professionals and creating amazing dinners with unforgettable dishes that accentuate fresh ingredients.

The next amazing dining adventure is Salt Smitten Gertrude’s, which is planned for October 24 at 6:30 pm. Gertrude’s has partnered with Go lb. Salt and the two will prepare an amazing 6 course dinner that will be ‘salt centric’ and will begin with a cocktail flight pairing featuring High West Handcrafted Bourbons and Ryes.

The dinner will feature creative dishes that include 60 day aged Beef Tartar with pickled mushroom, a sunny side up quail egg with sea salt, herbed lavosh and Mediterranean sea salt, local onions with beef broth, fresh tarragon and thyme with Gruyere cheese, and Sel Gris de Guerande and Fume de Sal. As well as confit of wild boar with root vegetable hash, blood orange chutney and mesquite smoked sea salt.

And for a sweet and memorable ending, a Marcona Almond S’More with bourbon an cardamom eggnog, with a pistachio and preserved citrus marmalade frangipane with roasted honey and bourbon ice cream will be served. Tickets are $65 per person, + $25 for bourbon flights.

For reservations, call 480.719.8600.

Yoga - Scottsdale Living

Work-It-Out Wednesday: Refresh Your Yoga Routine

Getting bored of your yoga routine? Refresh your mind, body and spirit by taking things outdoors.

Getting out of the studio and into the fresh air offers many ohm-mazing perks you may miss when practicing in the studio.

Being outside and in a nature-based area allows you to engage deeper into your relaxation, putting the mind at ease while stimulating the senses. Moving your yoga session outdoors makes the practice more adventurous and free. It allows you to go at your own pace and focus on what your body needs. You can choose your location based on what’s comfortable for you.

There are many groups and health studios that host outdoor yoga classes and events in the Phoenix area. We recommend Yoga Rocks the Park, which hasn’t posted its Phoenix schedule for 2014 yet. Check with some of your favorite hotels and spas for rooftop yoga. Hotel Palomar is one such hotel that has an outdoor yoga season. As does the Biltmore Fashion Park. There are also different types of outdoor yoga such as hiking yoga and yoga in the park, many of which are posted on MeetUp.com

If you practice outdoors, bring water, sunscreen and a towel to protect yourself from the heat. You may want to buy a thicker mat so you can work on a smooth surface.

Kristin Bloomquist is executive vice president and general manager of the Phoenix office of independent marketing and communications agency Cramer-Krasselt.

Leveraging visual storytelling tools can boost business

According to the old adage, a picture is worth 1,000 words. But what about a six-second video? Or an impeccably curated pinboard?

A host of new photo and video-sharing platforms—and the evolving universe of digital devices that enable them—are opening up new opportunities for marketers to engage consumers. But like many forms of “new media” before them, apps like Instagram, Pinterest and Vine (Twitter’s six-second video app) demand that brands embrace new forms of communicating.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are now pillars of every brand’s social footprint, but it wasn’t so long ago that likes, shares, user-generated video and 140-character status updates were new to the brand lexicon. Now more than ever, the challenge for brands is to become fluent in the language of visual storytelling—from infographics to photography to short, simple videos.

Since its launch in January, Vine has attracted marketers such as GE, Target, Oreo and Marvel Entertainment (with the world’s first movie “teaser”), who are anxious to gain access to the app’s steadily growing base of 13 million users who share 12 million videos a day.

Not to be outdone, Facebook launched video capabilities on Instagram in June. Users can create and edit 15-second video clips, personalize them with the filters the app is famous for and then post to Instagram and Facebook. Putting this kind of functionality in the hands of Instagram’s 130 million users will only ignite interest in this kind of short-form video. But creating compelling content within this kind of time constraint can be challenging, to say the least.

So how do marketers make the most of these tools?

First, Be an Observer: Look (and listen) before you leap. How are other businesses in your category using the space? Are users already posting about your brand? What are the platform’s unique traits and tools? Vine and Instagram video in particular are still in their infancy. First movers may have the advantage, but if their approaches aren’t right for the brand or venue (see next point), they’ll do more harm than good. So first do your research.

Make It Contextual: These platforms demand a regular stream of engaging content—but make sure your approach is a strategic fit and appropriate for both your brand and the venue(s). Our work for Johnsonville offers a prime example, where we leverage each platform based on what it does best, all working in concert and with a common brand strategy – from the “Share Your #Bratshot” promotion on Instagram to daily Bratfirmations on Pinterest offering grilling quotes, wisdom and humor.

Make It Useful: Don’t just show up to the party – offer guests something of interest or value. Remember: these platforms attract a sought-after, tech-savvy audience that often shun more “traditional,” disruptive forms of marketing. Time spent curating an inspiration board on Pinterest, for instance, is “me” time—not “please bombard me with your brand message” time. Lowe’s strikes the right balance with its helpful how-to vignettes on Vine.

As revolutionary as they seem, these tools are just the tip of the iceberg. In this attention- starved, mobile-first world, marketers will have to become master visual storytellers and more, as new tools and technologies continually redefine how brands connect and communicate with consumers.

 

Kristin Bloomquist is executive vice president and general manager of the Phoenix office of independent marketing and communications agency Cramer-Krasselt.

Amy-Hillman

W.P. Carey dean wants the world to know about school

Amy Hillman, a renowned management professor and noted researcher, replaced Robert Mittelstaedt as dean of Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business in March and became the school’s first female dean.

Az Business sat down with the leader of the W. P. Carey School, ranked in the top 30 among the best graduate business schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, to talk about her goals as dean and how her background as a researcher impacts her leadership.

Az Business: What is your biggest challenge as dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business?
Amy Hillman: Keeping the school nimble as an organization. Technology is playing a transformative role in higher education. The skills and expertise needed to succeed in an organization change as a result. We have to stay close to our corporate partners to make sure we stay on the leading edge of business education.

AB: How has the transition from second in command to dean been so far?
AH: Great. In the second-in-command position, I focused internally. We have amazing students, faculty and staff, and we work with some great partners within ASU, outside of the business school. Now, I also get to spend time with alumni, corporate partners and donors. In addition, I interact a lot more with other business-school deans. It’s a full circle.

AB: What are the W. P. Carey School’s strengths?
AH: We have hard-working students, dedicated staff, a supportive community, and a really desirable and unusual faculty combination. It’s not that hard to find good teachers or good researchers, but our faculty members are both, and that’s much more difficult to achieve. They are world-class researchers on the cutting edge of new knowledge in their fields, as well as excellent teachers. Therefore, what they discover one day, they teach in class the next. Add to this, they care about the students’ success in school and future careers. We have a dynamite combination. That’s why we’re currently ranked Top 30 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for all of our marquee programs — undergraduate business, full-time MBA, part-time MBA and online MBA.

AB: What makes you an effective dean for the W. P. Carey School?
AH: I love my work. I value relationships, but also performance. It also doesn’t hurt to be a management professor with real-world managerial experience. We have a lot of stakeholders to manage.

AB: How has your background prepared you to educate the entrepreneurs and business leaders of the future?
AH: In addition to my decades of work as a management professor and then executive dean, I also originally got my MBA because I needed skills to be a better manager in retail, before I ever went into academia. What I learned one night in my classes, I would apply the next day on the job. I also come from a family of entrepreneurs, so innovation and practicality loom large. I think this helps me stay focused on what we need to do to advance the practice of business.

AB: What are your goals as dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business?
AH: I’d like to build stronger — deeper and broader — corporate relations, increase lifelong value to our alumni, make our student experience a personal one, and make working at the W. P. Carey School of Business rewarding and fun. I’d also like to make sure the W. P. Carey School is no longer a “best-kept secret.” More people need to know all we do and how well we do it.

AB: What’s been the biggest change in education since you entered academia?
AH: I’d say one of the biggest changes to education as a whole — not specifically to business education — is the questioning of the value of education. This is unimaginable in developing nations like China. I was recently there with our executive MBA students in Shanghai. One of our speakers at an event was Nobel Laureate Ed Prescott, a W. P. Carey School of Business faculty member. Young kids wanted to have their pictures taken with him for his intellectual achievement. Sadly, I see too many people here in the United States who believe education isn’t the main driver of economic achievement.

AB: How has your background as a researcher impacted the way you educate the business leaders of the future?
AH: As a researcher, I’m strongly influenced by data, not anecdotes. So let’s analyze what’s happening before we jump to conclusions based on our personal observations. That said, most business research questions are big, complex ones without “one right answer,” so we need to train our students to look for patterns among data, but at the same time to embrace uncertainty. Make the best decisions with incomplete information. That’s the real world.

health.education

UA Cancer Center Director Earns Title

David S. Alberts, MD, director of the University of Arizona Cancer Center from 2005-2013, has been granted the director emeritus title by the Arizona Health Sciences Center.

The title is retroactive to July 1 and will accompany his current title of Regents Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology, Nutritional Science and Public Health. Anne Cress, PhD, was named interim director of the UA Cancer Center on July 19.

“Your career at the University of Arizona has been more than distinguished, and your years of service to advancing our institution is much appreciated,” said Joe G. N. “Skip” Garcia, MD, UA senior vice president for health sciences, in a letter addressed to Dr. Alberts on Oct. 4. “We value the renown and prestige you have built for the Cancer Center, and thank you for your dedication and leadership. The passion by which you have served is evident to all.”

Under Dr. Alberts’ leadership, the extensive research portfolio of the UA Cancer Center includes more than $60 million in annual research funding. Clinically, Dr. Alberts pioneered new treatments for advanced ovarian cancers, including in vitro tumor cell chemosensitivity testing for personalized medicine strategies, intraperitoneal chemotherapy and maintenance chemotherapy.

Currently, Dr. Alberts helps to coordinate Phase I and II and pharmacokinetic drug studies at the UA Cancer Center for molecularly targeted chemopreventive agents. His laboratory research is concentrated on the evaluation of new surrogate endpoint biomarkers for cancer prevention trials. His National Cancer Institute-funded drug and diagnostics research has resulted in more than two dozen patents and the co-founding of five Arizona pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

During his career, Dr. Alberts has served as an advisor to numerous cancer research foundations and committees, such as chair of the Oncologic Drug Advisory Committee to the Food and Drug Administration (1984-1986). And he was a member of the NCI’s Board of Counselors (to the Division of Cancer Prevention, 1990-1994), the Board of Scientific Advisors (1999-2006), and the coordinating subcommittee to the NCI’s Clinical Translational Advisory Committee (2006-2009).

Dr. Alberts has authored or co-authored more than 550 peer-reviewed publications, more than 100 book chapters and 60 invited articles, and has served as editor and co-editor of eight books. He has served on the editorial boards of several peer-reviewed scientific journals, including associate editor for Cancer Research from 1989-2002. Between 2002-2008, he acted as the co-editor-in-chief of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, the leading cancer public health research journal worldwide.

Dr. Alberts received his MD in 1966 from University of Virginia School of Medicine. He conducted his internship at the University of Wisconsin, before becoming a clinical associate in medical oncology at the National Cancer Institute’s Baltimore Cancer Research Center. Dr. Alberts conducted his internal medicine residency at the University of Minnesota and then served on the faculty of the University of California, San Francisco, for five years and obtained board certification in medicine and medical oncology in 1973. He joined the UA College of Medicine in 1975 as an assistant professor, where he has served for 38 years.

 

Tax Strategies for Subcontractors

With the individual tax rate increases starting in 2013, now is a good time take advantage of the many deductions and credits available. In addition to the tax rate increases in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) there are also two new taxes arising out of the 2010 healthcare reform legislation known as the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that also become effective in 2013.

Tax Rate Increases under ATRA

A big relief was that there was not an across the board rate increase as was feared if the Bush Tax Cuts were allowed to expire, however, a 39.6% rate will now apply to individuals with income over $400,000 for single taxpayers or $450,000 for married couples. The top rate on capital gains and qualified dividends was kept at 15% for taxpayers with income below the $400,000/$450,000 levels, but for taxpayers with income above those levels the rate on capital gains and qualified dividends will be 20%.

New Medicare Taxes

Under the PPACA there are two new Medicare taxes starting in 2013. The first one is a .9%
increase to the current Medicare tax on wages and self employment income from 1.45% to
2.35% on earned income above $200,000 for single taxpayers or $250,000 for married
couples.

The other new Medicare tax is the 3.8% surtax on net investment Income (NII). This tax
applies to the lesser of the taxpayer’s net investment income or adjusted gross income over
$200,000 for single taxpayers or $250,000 for married couples. A taxpayer must have both NII and gross income over the applicable thresholds in order to be subject to the 3.8% surtax. NII is defined as investment income less otherwise allowable deductions properly allocable to such income. Under the proposed reliance regulations issued by the IRS, NII can come from one of following three categories:

-Gross income from interest, dividends, annuities, rents and royalties (other than
such income derived in the ordinary course of an active trade or business)
-Gross income from any passive trade or business or business in the trading of
financial instruments or commodities
-Net gains attributable to the disposition of property (other than property held in an
active trade or business)

The inclusion of passive activities in the definition of NII represents a huge shift in
traditional tax planning. More emphasis will be placed on treating profitable activities as
active instead of passive to avoid the 3.8% surtax. However it is important to watch that
passive losses do not go unused and be aware that net income from an active trade or
business may be subject to self employment tax.

Taxpayers should review their current structure to see if any passive activities can be
grouped with non passive activities to avoid passive income. The proposed regulations
allow taxpayers a “fresh start” regrouping election to replace any previous grouping
election.

When you combine the new top rate of 39.6% with the new surtax, taxpayers whose
income is above the applicable thresholds will see ordinary rates go from 35% to 43.4%
(39.6% plus 3.8%). Likewise, the tax on capital gains and qualified dividends will go from
15% to 23.8% (20% plus 3.8%).

Expensing Provisions

The $500,000 section 179 expensing provision was also extended by ATRA through
2013. The deduction begins to phase out when total qualified purchases for the year
exceeds $2 million.

The 50% bonus depreciation was also extended for 2013. Under the bonus depreciation
provisions the original use of the property must begin with the taxpayer, therefore used
equipment will not qualify. Qualified property must also have a recovery period of 20 years or less. The IRS clarified that unlike regular tax depreciation; bonus depreciation is not required to be allocated to long-term contracts for those contractors that use the
percentage of completion method of accounting. This provision allows contractors to
benefit from bonus depreciation even when a contract is not completed in the same year
in which it began.

Domestic Production Activities Deduction

The Domestic Production Activities Deduction (DPAD) continues to be a popular
deduction for the construction industry. The DPAD generally is equal to 9% of the lesser
of the taxpayers “qualified” production activities for the year or taxable income (adjusted
gross income for individual taxpayers).

In order to qualify for the deduction, taxpayers must have Domestic Production Gross
Receipts (DPGR). The definition of DPGR is very broad, but includes gross receipts from
the lease, rental, license, sale, exchange or other disposition from a broad list of
activities, including construction or substantial renovation of real property in the U.S.,
including residential and commercial buildings and infrastructure such as roads, power
lines, water systems and communication facilities. Revenue from civil engineering and
architectural services performed in the U.S. for U.S. construction projects also qualify as
DPGR.

179D Deduction
This deduction is often overlooked but could be beneficial for subcontractors who are
involved in the design of energy efficient government-owned commercial buildings. The
deduction could be as high as $1.80 per square foot. Generally the owner of a
commercial building would get the deduction but if the building is owned by a federal,
state, or local government, such as a school or municipal building the IRS allows the
deduction to be allocated to the person primarily responsible for creating the technical
specifications of the building. This would include, for example, an architect, engineer,
contractor, environmental consultant or energy services provider. The governmental
entity is also allowed to allocate the deduction among firms if there is more than one
designer.

Other Provisions Beneficial to the Construction Industry

Many provisions that were set to expire at the end of 2011 or 2012 were extended under
ATRA through 2013, including but not limited to the following.

-15 year straight-line cost recovery for qualified leasehold improvements – this
also applies to qualified restaurant property and qualified retail improvement property
(Note, this type of property also qualifies for section 179 expensing up to $250,000
and the 50% bonus depreciation).
- Work Opportunity tax credit (WOTC) – for hiring persons who fall into one of the
designated target groups, including qualified veterans.
-Empowerment Zone credit – available to contractors hiring individuals who live
and work within an empowerment zone.
-Research and Experimentation credit (R&E) – examples of R&E credits claimed
by subcontractors include expenditures for design-build, fabrication, architectural and
engineering projects or activities.
-Railroad Track Maintenance credit – the railroad is allowed to assign this credit
to taxpayers that provide railroad related services to the railroad, including railroad
track construction.
-Energy efficient new homes credit – for contractors that cut energy use for
heating and cooling in constructed homes by 50% compared to the 2006
International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).
-Credit for alternative fuel vehicle refueling property – for the development and
installation of the infrastructure needed to deliver alternative fuels to clean-fuel
vehicles.
-Credit for biodiesel and renewable diesel used as fuel – if used by the taxpayer
as a fuel in a trade or business.

Summary

Tax planning is increasingly important for 2013. Subcontractors should review their
current structures with their tax advisors and project their income for the year to see if
they will be affected by the rate increases. Also, check that they are claiming all
applicable deductions and credits in order to minimize their tax liabilities.

advice

J.D. Power’s 10 Things I’ve Learned in Business

After 50 years working with a range of companies—as well as founding and running my own company, J.D. Power and Associates—I have observed a good deal, and come away with a few thoughts about how to have the best shot at success in business.

The businesses I’ve seen grow, adapt, and thrive are the ones that keep a focus on satisfying customers by listening to them, anticipate their needs and desires, and maintain their organizations’ prioritizing of these principles.

Whether I’m speaking with business school students or seasoned executives, I find that my advice incorporates ten basic lessons I’ve learned throughout my career.

1. Listen—to your customers, your employees, and your stakeholders.
I have witnessed too many car manufacturers move further away from achieving satisfied customers by refusing to listen to them. One example that sticks in my mind is that of Peugeot back in the 1980s. They were trying to broaden their appeal and expand their share of the American car market, but they were unwilling to listen to customer complaints about difficulties starting their advanced fuel-injected cars. Peugeot was an early adopter of fuel injection, and American customers were “flooding” the engine by pumping the gas, something that was necessary in conventional engines at that time. Customers saw this as a quality issue, but rather than hearing this as a problem, they held fast, confident that fuel injection was superior from an engineering standpoint. No doubt they were right, but by not listening and adapting to their customers they lost them, and by the early 1990s they had to abandon the American market.

2, Remember who the client is. In a B2B world it is the organization or business you serve, not just the guy or gal sitting across from you.
This is important from two perspectives. It is critical that you not serve the desires of the representative assigned to work with you to the disservice of the organization. On the flipside, you must feel empowered to not let that person become an obstacle to the organization receiving the information necessary to take full advantage of your services. I frequently encountered a situation where the person assigned to work with us put up roadblocks to information reaching further up the chain of command because it undermined his own position within the organization. I worked around this by sending letters directly to top leaders or using the press to get out the critical information, knowing that it was only when our message could not be ignored that true change for the organization could occur.

3. Empower your employee to be curious, to do the right thing for the business, to speak up. You need the right kind of leadership and a strong culture to make it work but there is nothing more valuable.
At J.D. Power, if an employee came up with an idea, they owned it. This engendered tremendous initiative and loyalty, and may have been one of the greatest keys to J.D. Power’s lasting success.

4. Relationships matter, but they need to be built on a bedrock of respect and trust, not just friendships.
I never approached business relationships as requiring glad-handing or wining and dining. In the beginning, I simply couldn’t afford it, but as J.D. Power’s success widened, I found that true relationships with executives came from providing them with the clear, actionable information they needed to do their jobs, not time on the golf course.

5. Have empathy, be kind.
Of course this applies to all of the individuals in your own organization who come together to provide the support you need to run your business—from your CFO to the cleaning crew. It’s a Golden Rule in my book. I found that it inspires employees to show that you care about them enough to acknowledge them, and ask about their families. Another example is with regard to my clients. Sometimes you don’t agree with what they are doing, or you know that they are in an unwinnable the position. I felt a compassion for them and always tried to make sure that our information was there to help them.

6. Be willing to look at situations from unusual directions to seek the “truth.”
Don’t be afraid to take a counter-intuitive position in order to generate better ideas. The Jesuit education I received at the College of the Holy Cross provided a basis in questioning the status quo, a trait that has served me well.

7. Accept change.
I really believe that you need to anticipate changes, be flexible, and move with the trends. We are in the Information Age today. The rise of the Internet and its impact on retailing is the most recent example of the ways companies must adapt in order to survive, but there has never been a time when change was not actively underway.

8. Stay true to your values.
Part of your brand is what you are—and, at the core, what you are is made up of your values. Whether you are an individual or an organization, you must keep your compass aligned to the virtues that guide you. At our company, I really felt that we kept the organization focused on the “Three I’s”: Independence, Impact, and Integrity.

9. Find information and inspiration in the work of others.
I have long been a student of the writings of Walter Wriston, Peter Drucker, W. Edwards Deming, and Alvin Toffler. Their observations are still compelling today, as are myriad others who can offer insight and perspective that will be invaluable to your pursuits.

10. Don’t “torture the data till it confesses.”
Don’t be blind to all but the good news you may want to hear. Consciously or unconsciously interpreting information that comes across your desk in a way that supports past decisions rather than illuminates needed improvements is short-sighted and won’t bring you closer to the satisfied customers who will ultimately dictate your success.

These ten principles guided me through a successful and satisfying career. The individuals I dealt with who shared a similar view of business invariably had the respect of clients and colleagues, and the markers of success were realized for them as well.

James “David” Power is the founder of J.D. Power and Associates. Stories from fifty years in the auto industry are shared in the new book, Power: How J.D. Power III Became the Auto Industry’s Adviser, Confessor, and Eyewitness to History.

young.boss

How to be Your Boss’s New Best Friend

If there is any belief in the universe more ubiquitous than the belief that there is a universe, it is the belief that Boss’s are Idiots (aka iBosses).  The genetic pre-disposition (nature) crowd believes that many people in positions of institutional authority were imbued with the stupid gene at conception.  Subscribers to environmental influence (nurture) theory appear to believe that the boss’s need for around-the-clock adult supervision results from neurological damage caused by prolonged exposure to hypocrisy in high places and misleading mission statements.  Either way, the idea of boss-as-idiot is eternally popular across cultures and generations.

How many among us were socialized from early childhood to believe that boss’s are the bane of a working person’s existence?  Movies like Office Space, Nine-to-Five, and Horrible Bosses filled theatres.  Songs like Take This Job and Shove It and television shows like The Office filled the airwaves.  Scott Adams’ Dilbert is a desk calendar icon.  Our parents complained about their bosses at the dinner table.  We took up the crusade during pre-adolescence and complained about our teachers and school administrators.  After graduation, we settled into an adult lifetime of projecting our unresolved adolescent rebellion issues on the most visible and available target—the boss.  Bosses depicted in media have no character development arc (see Horrible Bosses).   Bosses are boobs in frame one and they are still boobs through the closing credits.  The bottom line: there is no known redemption for bosses.

On National Bosses Day, October 16, while the jury is out and scholars the world over debate whether or not the phenomenon of idiots in positions of corporate power is a cause or effect, chicken or egg, a deliberate conspiracy, or a hiccup in evolution, can we put enough love in our hearts to declare a truce in the barrage of boss abuse?  That’s right.  Give the boss a break.  Who knows, Louis, it might be the start of a beautiful friendship.  We can start by locking up the Killer B’s of boss-hood in a Ball jar.  Whether or not you unscrew the lid and let them out again on October 17 is up to you.

The Killer “B’s”

Turning one or more of the following killer bees, an alliteration for four behaviors beginning with the letter “B” (Boss Bashing, Boss Blaming, Boss Bickering, or Boss Baiting) that are best abandoned in the pursuit of positive relations with your I-Boss, loose on your boss might seem like fun—ultimately a fair thing to do in light of what the boss has forced you to suffer.  But, in the end, you’ll be the one who gets stung; perhaps literally and figuratively in the end.
Delayed gratification is the operative thought here.  Delayed to the point that you replace righteously indignant fantasies of wielding a sword of justice with a positive plan to engender and sustain a relational environment wherein you can serenely sail through whatever tropical disturbance your boss stirs up.

Killer B Number One: Boss Bashing

Don’t be part of a conversation that your boss couldn’t walk into unexpectedly without your needing to do some serious damage control.  When you find yourself headed toward the “B” topic with friends, family, coworkers, or perfect strangers, turn around 180 degrees and walk away from that evil place as quickly as possible.  Keep yourself and your reputation on the high road by turning at least 90 degrees and:

(1) Change the subject from the boss to a bigger challenge you’re facing in the marketplace.  It’s easy to fall into our pre-programmed habit of boss bashing instead of looking at who gets out of bed every morning with the expressed purpose of dis-employing you—your competition.

(2) Make a bigger play.  Refocusing the discussion on the state of the domestic and global economy and how to best swim in those waters is a far more important conversation and relevant to your long-term future.  In other words, go big picture.

(3) Acknowledge that many aspects of life are challenging.  So, what else is new?  Politely decline the invitation to bash your boss (or anybody else’s) and disconnect from the boss bashing by saying that you’re committed as a general life principle to finding ways in which everybody can win.  Then turn the conversation back to someone else in the room.

Killer B Number Two: Blaming the Boss

Being a blame thrower at work sends a strong message that you have no interest in being part of the team, part of the solution, or part of the future.  Remember, everything you say or do, don’t say or don’t do, and many things you merely think, all make a statement about you.  When tempted to transfer responsibility to the boss so as not to appear tarnished by any sort of failure on your part, think more broadly.  Regardless of the boss’s ineptitude, you’re part of a team.  More than likely, the Kahunas up the organizational food chain identify you as a member of “[insert boss’s name]’s team.”  They’re not going to see you as an innocent bystander if the team fails.  So, look at responsibility as a team effort.

(1)   It is self-incriminating to blame others for problems.  Why even go there?  Pointing the proverbial finger at your boss leaves three more equally proverbial fingers pointing back at you.

(2)   Any time there is accountability to be absorbed, jump on it as an opportunity.  When you say, “I’ll take responsibility for my part in that,” or “I’ll be accountable for this or that part of the program,” you’re sending a solid message that you aren’t going to stink up the room by stepping in the small stuff.  You’re invested in your success and everybody’s success.

(3)  Blaming is about people, not the problem.  Aim high, when the search for the scapegoat begins and lead the conversation quickly back to the problem you’re solving for.  What is the larger agenda and how do you break it down to produce a better outcome next time?  It’s about getting all energies focused on solutions and getting disentangled from blaming and personality disputes as quickly as possible lest you get sucked into that black hole of blaming.

Killer B Number Three: Bickering with the Boss

This “B” is often a killer because many iBosses are legendary for making horrendously bad decisions and forcing you to comply or even carry out the dirty deeds yourself.  Inasmuch as you can exert influence where you have limited authority, help your boss to make better decisions.  Consider when it’s best to go ahead and get the work done that will promote your boss’s agenda and save your energy to fight a more important battle.

When you find yourself wanting to be arbitrarily contrary and nit, nit, nit-pick at your boss, think better of it.  Like boss bashing, bickering with your boss will forge a reputation for you of being more of an annoyance than someone with generative ideas and sound judgment.  Is it really that important to win approval among your disgruntled peers?  Where do you want your picture in the dictionary, beside “annoyance” or “good ideas and sound judgment?”

(1)  No matter what you’re asked to do, carry it out with dignity.  There is no need to walk around singing The Greatest Love of All.  Unless you want to.  Yet, even if your iBoss compels you to do some crappy things, it doesn’t mean you need to conduct yourself in a crappy way.  Whatever you do, conduct yourself in a way that sends a clear message as to what you’re all about.

(2)  If you want to argue a point with your iBoss, practice the proverbial “yes and” instead of launching with “Yes, but” or just plain, “but.”  Say, “If we’re going to follow that path, I think we should keep our eyes open and be prepared to flex and accommodate whatever unexpected responses we might receive.”  Okay, you said it.  Nobody can argue with that.  You’re being strategic and the boss will feel you have his or her back.

(3) When your peers or your own subordinates try to engage you in bickering behavior or to bicker with the boss, steer the conversation to some higher principle you’re operating under.  Say, “I know, I know,” because you do know.  You get it. But, immediately follow with, “The problem we’re solving for here is…”
 
Killer B Number Four: Baiting the Boss

Move over baseball, boss-baiting has become a national pastime for many people.  Some folks are so stuck in the boss-as-enemy space, regardless of who it is or what the circumstances are, that the day won’t be complete without a good poke at the person in charge.  The boss is under pressures you are not likely aware of and is probably stuck in a vise or a cage. Either way it’s a chicken poop play to poke at a trapped animal.

The loftier response is to view the vise-like pressure the boss is feeling as an opportunity for you to help ease the strain and do for your iBoss what you wish the boss would do for you.  In Aesop’s Fables, Androcles saved his own life by removing the thorn from the paw of his natural enemy, the lion.  If you’ve been raised to believe the boss is your natural enemy, you can turn the tables by deliberately and systematically engaging in acts of kindness and helpfulness.

Too warm and fuzzy?  Try calling it enlightened self-interest. The people I’m guessing you least want to be around are those who brown nose the boss all day long, giving every appearance of removing the thorn from the boss’s paw—perhaps even doing so—and then giggling maniacally as they strategically place the thorn on the boss’s chair.

(1)   If it becomes apparent that the boss is operating with one hand tied behind her back, be aware that she will be viewed with great sympathy by her peers.  There is a simpatico at her level that you don’t qualify for at your level.  How you respond will be on display for numerous audiences: your boss’s peers and superiors, your peers, and your subordinates.  Make sure the behavior you adopt vis-à-vis your boss is the same behavior you display with the other groups, especially your peers and subordinates.

(2)   Schedule acts of kindness.  Seriously, this stuff is too important to be left to chance.  Don’t wait for a good moment to arrive—make one.  This is not about fetching coffee.  Unless you want to.  It’s about managing by walking around.  Dave Packard of (Bill) Hewlett & Packard fame is credited with this notion.  If your boss isn’t doing it, go do a drive-by with your boss and bring a progress report about something important.

(3)   Make your boss’s cage more livable by keeping principles high and the personality stuff in check.  If you know where his or her stress is coming from, take on one “stretch” task that will relieve some of the pressure.  Not all of it—you have enough to do.  But, the gesture is all that may be required to send the distinct message that you have “chosen into” the firm and not “chosen out.”

This appeal for leniency for iBosses on National Bosses’ Day is as much for the benefit of beleaguered employees as it is for bosses.  No one even enhanced his or her career by making the boss look stupid.  Think about it.  If your boss truly is stupid, he won’t need your help appearing so.  Having said that, the conversation that determines whether you get a promotion or get fired will take place when you are nowhere around.  But, your boss will be.

Happy Bosses’ Day.

John Hoover, PhD is author of How to Work for an Idiot: Survive and Thrive without Killing Your Boss, an executive coach, leadership communications specialist, and a popular speaker and talk show guest.  He leads the executive coaching practice at Partners International in New York City and teaches for The American Management Association, Fielding Graduate University, and the City University of New York Graduate School of Professional Studies.  Complaints can be sent to www.HowtoWorkforAnIdiot.com.

celebrity fight night - business man with boxing gloves

The 7 Silent Business Killers

High blood pressure is a silent killer. Combined with other risk factors it can lead to death. Similarly, in business, there are 7 silent business killers that if combined, can lead to the death of a business. Here are the warning signs the health of a business may be at risk:

#1 Life Is Great
Things have been going well for a long time now. You hardly ever hear of any problems. The numbers look good, although lately they have been getting a little soft. You are not too worried because your people will tell you if something is wrong, although they didn’t the last time you lost a customer. You found that out by accident. Right about now you are feeling like you have this CEO thing down cold! Maybe it is finally time to work on that golf game. You couldn’t be more wrong.

* When you feel like this it is time to be on your guard. Dig hard into your operation to see what’s wrong. Peel back the onion of your financials and find out where the issues are. * * * They could be buried deep so look hard.
* Do a deep dive of every department. Remember, you are not trying to determine if you have problems-you do. You are trying to find out where they are.

#2 Everyone Makes Nice In Meetings
When your people have a meeting, they look more like an oil painting than an engaged team. Your meetings are oh-so-nice. No disagreements, no conflicts, no lively debates. If things do start to get a little heated, someone offers to “take it offline”. When there is a discussion, people look to you to see what your view is before they take a position. They are more concerned with being nice than moving the business forward. They live by the old Abraham Lincoln mantra of “better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt”. But you can’t move the business forward without conflict. So the absence of conflict should not be your goal. Productive conflict should be. Here is what you need to do:

* Encourage, insist, and even demand that people engage in conflict. Make it clear that the absence of conflict is not o.k. But just be sure it is the productive kind.
* Conflict needs to be managed, measured, and meaningful. Otherwise it turns destructive in a hurry. Train everyone on the team in conflict management skills.

#3 Innovation is DOA
Product development has been a little slow for a while. The company used to crank out new products all the time. These days, most of your product developments are minor enhancements that don’t yield better margins. But that’s OK, because the customer expects product improvements. Still, it bothers you that while they expect improvements, they won’t pay for them. You are on a death trajectory, just waiting for the competition to make you irrelevant. You need to re-energize innovation-fast.

* Make innovation the number one goal in the company (read: big incentives for achieving innovation goals). And just don’t make it a goal-make it an absolute requirement. Don’t restrict this to new products. It can and should include internal and external processes and procedures.
* Train everyone (and I do mean everyone) in the tools and techniques of innovation. This is a process that can be learned and applied by everyone, not just the “creative” types.
* Throw a challenge down for an annual innovation award. Whoever comes up with the most innovative product or process gets a large cash award.

#4 Your Sales Team Works For Your Customer
When a conflict arises between your company and a customer, does your salesperson side with the customer?  When it comes time for a price increase do your salespeople make it happen or do they sandbag you until you give up? Ever hear the expression “customers pay the bills”? Or how about this: “the customer is always right”. These are signs of sales people who may be on your payroll, but they work for your customer. If you think that is a good thing, think again. Your customer will put you right out of business by squeezing your margins to nothing if they can get away with it. Your customers are constantly advising your competition about how they can deliver better quality or lower price than you can. Your customers will abandon you in a minute for a better deal somewhere else. So why on earth would you want sales people who work for your customer? If this sounds like your sales team, here is what you should do:

* Sales people develop deep relationships with their customers. So deep they are afraid to offend them, give them bad news (like a price increase) or otherwise irritate them. Shake them up. Change account assignments. In the new assignments, change the incentive plans to include whatever it is you have been trying to get done, but couldn’t because they were working for the customer (i.e. price increase)
* Develop a new model for the sales person of the future. You’ll need it because some of the old guard won’t make the trip. Be prepared to act on them.

#5 Your Toxic Employees Killing Off Your Customers
Ever meet a rude flight attendant? Or how about a front desk clerk who could care less about your problems?  Have you ever walked into a restaurant and been ignored by the hostess? These are just a few examples of toxic employees. One toxic employee can destroy years of customer loyalty. One toxic employee can chase dozens of customers away every day. Imagine how much business they can destroy in a month, or in a year.  Don’t let his happen to you. Do a toxic employee checkup:

* Go toxic employee hunting. . Take this one organization layer at a time and start asking who the toxic people are. And don’t buy the excuse that no one knows who your toxic employees are. Someone knows.
* Once you have identified them, tell them they must change their behavior immediately or they can’t stay. And terminate them if they don’t come around. Don’t wait too long on this, because your customers aren’t waiting around for you.
* Set a new standard of behavior for the entire company. Once you have cleaned house, be mindful that weeds always grow back, so be prepared to prune the garden often.

#6 Factory Cost Is Under Control
Your manufacturing manager has been producing your widgets for what seems like forever. He knows exactly how to run that factory. He does a great job in scheduling the work, purchasing raw materials, and shipping the product out. However, it seems like a long time since he talked about cost reductions. He cites good reasons why cutting costs is hard to do, and he tells you that the answer to the problem of margins is to raise prices. He tells you costs are under control.  Under control is not good enough. If the Chinese don’t get you, some other developing country you never heard of will.

* Set a goal for improving productivity by 10% per year. And don’t play the shell game of “where did the savings go”? When you improve productivity that much, you either need to raise the top line or reduce the workforce. Otherwise you are just playing “fantasy factory”.
* Be willing to invest in capital equipment to automate, create work cells and implement lean methods.

#7 Hiding In the United States
You know the US market well, as do your people, because it is your only market, even though you are pretty sure your product could be applied internationally. The problem in the US is that margins are getting thin. You were surprised recently to learn that a foreign competitor took some business away from you. You had never heard of this company before, and your salespeople were dumbfounded. Now you’re worried that they are after the rest of your business. And they probably are. Don’t wait around to find out. Here’s how to get started:

* Hire an expert international consultant. But be sure he is an expert in your particular industry. There are vast differences within a foreign country from one industry to the next so you need to be sure you hire the right consultant with the right background.
* Get a passport if you don’t have one already. This may sound fundamental but you would be surprised how many CEO’s I talk to that don’t have one.
* Go to the Federal Government for help (no really!). The Commercial Service has excellent country/industry guides from all over the world. And their Gold Key Service can provide customized information based upon your industry and product. Gold Key also provides in-country introductions.
With more than three decades of management, executive, consulting and speaking experience in markets all over the world, Miller Ingenuity CEO Steve Blue is a globally regarded business growth authority and “turnaround specialist” who has transformed companies into industry giants and enthralled audiences with his dynamic keynotes. He may be reached at www.StevenLBlue.com.

medical.research

UA Seeking People for Breast Cancer-Vegetable Study

University of Arizona Cancer Center researchers are seeking participants in Maricopa County for a study designed to determine if a compound found in broccoli can enhance the health-promoting effects of the breast cancer drug Tamoxifen in women at risk of developing breast cancer or those previously treated for early-stage breast cancer.

Since receiving a $3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute in 2011, UACC researcher Cynthia Thomson, PhD, RD, and her team have recruited 106 women who are taking Tamoxifen for the DIME study. Enrollment will continue both in Tucson and Phoenix, through the early part of 2014 with a goal of 170 participants.

Tamoxifen is an accepted treatment for breast cancer. Dr. Thomson, a professor of Health Promotion Sciences in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona, notes that data from diet studies of people who have a higher intake of cruciferous vegetables – cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi and broccoli – suggest that intake may reduce the risk of certain cancers, including breast, colorectal, bladder and possibly prostate.

“We have previously shown that women taking Tamoxifen who eat more vegetables may decrease cancer recurrence risk. This study will test the potential health-promoting effects using one isolated bioactive compound found in cruciferous vegetables, diindolylmethane (DIM), and compare it to a placebo intervention in favorably changing hormone levels and breast characteristics like breast density,” Dr. Thomson says.

Alison Stopeck, MD, a co-investigator in the study and the director of the Clinical Breast Cancer Program at the UA Cancer Center, sees this research as a unique opportunity to determine the potential of non-invasive imaging to be a reliable biomarker for breast cancer risk. Women in the study will complete periodic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedures for measuring breast characteristics.

Study participants will be asked to take the supplement or placebo for 18 months and complete periodic clinical evaluation visits. The supplement is a patented, absorption enhancing formulation of diindolylmethane known as BioResponse DIM® (also known under the tradenames Indolplex® or BR-Dim®) supplied by BioResponse, LLC, of  Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the DIME study in Maricopa County, call Dianne Parish, RN, at 602-264-4461 for Central Phoenix or Patti Blair, RN, at 480-461-3772 for Mesa. More information is also available at azcc.arizona.edu/node/3628.

The DIME Study is supported by grant number CA149417 from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

Banner Good Samaritan Hospital

How hospitals, employers can help themselves with ACA

While employers in Arizona are bracing for the expected impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on health insurance premiums, the long-range theory behind the act is that the costs will eventually stabilize over time. This stabilization in employer premiums can be expedited if hospital ERs, who will be impacted most by the increase in patient volume, can be proactive in their efforts to educate patients on new coverage options and eligibility.

While the ACA is slated to insure an added 30 million Americans by 2019, it seems little to date is in place to inform consumers about the new options. And even though Arizona’s new Health Insurance Exchange will go live this October, experts predict that continued lack of awareness and confusion about options will hamper individual enrollment.

Nowhere does this cause greater consternation then at the point-of-care in hospital ERs as they lose billions of dollars each year largely due to unpaid ER bills. If the uninsured don’t get signed up, continued cost shifting will take place and employers will indirectly end up paying for these uninsured patients with higher group health premiums.
With 23 percent of the population of Arizona living in poverty and millions becoming newly-eligible for Medicaid and private coverage, hospitals will need to incorporate easy to use enrollment solutions to manage this uninsured market. These solutions are especially important in order to both protect patients and to aid in diminishing the high price tag of benefits for employers. Three solutions that hospitals should consider are:

1. Coverage options rather than instant payment
The demand for upfront payment for patient care creates an adversarial relationship between the uninsured patient and the provider. In order to establish amiability with a patient, hospital staff members should take steps to have a more comprehensive and engaging “insurance talk.” When hospitals change this dynamic by employing staff to assist the patient in finding possible government coverage options and explaining them, patients will feel as though the hospital is on their side. A two-year study we conducted of uninsured patients presenting at four busy emergency rooms at Sharp HealthCare in California revealed that 60 percent of the uninsured seeking treatment were actually eligible for government programs, but were not enrolled. Focusing on coverage options rather than instant payments will protect both the patient and the hospital in the long run. For example, if a patient with no income and no coverage ends up needing more care due to a chronic condition diagnosis, the patient will wind up having to pay the hospital’s third party collection agency. These bills may end up bankrupting the patient, resulting in negative feelings about the hospital.  Also, the tone of conversation between hospital staff members and patients will be far more positive if the hospital staff members aren’t acting as debt collectors.

2. Looking beyond Medicaid
The good news is that hospitals are becoming much more vigilant about Medicaid enrollments. To this end, it’s also important for hospitals to inform patients about lesser known coverage and discounted care programs, such as CHIP in each state, various cancer-assistance options, hospital charity care assistance, and third-party liability coverage. In addition to indigent coverage plans in Arizona, COBRA is becoming more widely used, as it covers formerly-insured employees and their qualified beneficiaries anywhere from 18 to 36 months beyond employment depending on the qualifying event.
3. Software solutions to eligibility awareness
The other good news is that technology has made the process of enrollment easier through the growing use of portable hand-held software programs that can instantly inform uninsured patients of their options. One technological medium, PointCarePA, a web-based eligibility software that consists of a simple five-question quiz, helps hospital staff to quickly and efficiently screen uninsured patients for their coverage options.  The screening produces a list of personalized coverage options that allows for a more positive and engaging conversation between the hospital staff member and the patient. The list includes program contact information, monthly costs, sign-up checklists of important documents needed to enroll, applications and online enrollment links. PointCarePA is currently being used in Sharp HealthCare’s four emergency rooms.

Ankeny Minoux is president of the Foundation for Health Coverage Education (FHCE) and COO of the newly-minted company PointCare, an outgrowth of the non-profit organization. FHCE created a five-step at point-of-care that gives ER patients and hospitals instant access to free or low cost coverage options.

Incoming Midwestern University students receive their white coats at a special ceremony just after the beginning of the fall semester. The University’s total enrollment in 14 graduate-level healthcare programs offered at its Glendale campus has surpassed 3,000 students for the first time this year.

Midwestern Glendale Enrollment Tops 3,000 for 1st time

Midwestern University, home to Arizona’s largest medical school and the state’s first College of Veterinary Medicine, announced the achievement of another milestone in the University’s history.

For the first time since the University’s Glendale campus was established in 1995, total enrollment in Midwestern’s 14 graduate degree programs exceeds 3,000 students. For comparison’s sake, only 136 students – 103 osteopathic medical students and 33 physician assistant students – were on campus during Midwestern’s first year of classes in the Fall of 1996.

“The mission of Midwestern University is to meet the healthcare needs of society by educating professionals who are committed to caring for others,” said Kathleen H. Goeppinger, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Midwestern University.  “We have achieved and sustained our growth by offering quality healthcare education and by developing new academic programs for professions that are in demand, and through the clinical institutes that serve the health needs of our neighbors.”

More than 6,200 medical professionals have graduated from Midwestern University’s Glendale campus since its inception, with over 40% remaining in-state to practice.

deaf

Deaf Awareness Week spotlights diversity

Throughout the month of September 2013, the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing (ACDHH) joins the world in promoting the annual Deaf Awareness Week (DAW). September 23rd – 28th is the time to celebrate the culture, heritage and language unique to Deaf people of the world.  Currently there are more than 55 million people in the United States experiencing some degree of hearing loss and in Arizona there are more than 700,000 people who are hard of hearing and more than 20,000 who are culturally Deaf.

Deaf Awareness Week is an opportunity to promote the rights of Deaf people throughout the world which includes education for Deaf people, access to information and services, the use of sign languages, and human rights for Deaf people.  Recognition of achievements by Deaf people, past and present is acknowledged.  The misconceptions of being Deaf and the challenges the Deaf population face during everyday life are brought to light and shared with the greater population. Learning sign language and other ways Deaf people communicate allows one to gain insights and better understanding of Deaf Culture and its norms.

Society should understand that Deaf individuals are just as capable, able, and intelligent as hearing individuals.  There is a difference in the way those that are Deaf communicate, but it is not a handicap or disability. Deaf Awareness Week is about promoting the positive aspects of being Deaf and “social inclusion” and raise awareness about Deaf people and its culture.
As we (the Deaf community) continue to face a variety of issues of barriers and oppression, we need to continue in being proactive with our actions, show pride in our identity as a Deaf individual, and constantly embrace and cherish the uniqueness of Deaf Culture.

An example of what ACDHH does in the community to improve the quality of life for the deaf and the hard of hearing is work with a variety of industries to better understand and communicate with deaf individuals. One of these industries is healthcare – a situation in which clear communication between a patient and service provider could mean the difference between life and death. ACDHH offers a free, comprehensive training course for healthcare providers in order to ensure proper information is being given and received.

Not only is it the responsibility of a healthcare provider to provide effective communication for the deaf and the hard of hearing, it’s the law. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, regardless of the provider’s size or number of employees. The healthcare providers’ curriculum offers valuable information on the options available to achieve the effective communication that is required without threatening the livelihood of the business.

Join ACDHH in celebrating Deaf Awareness throughout the month of September in recognizing the past, present, and future contributions and achievements that have paved the way to where we are today.

For more information on the events taking place during Deaf Awareness Week, please visit www.acdhh.org.

 

Beca Bailey and Sean Furman are both deaf specialists with the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing. Information and referral, community development and outreach education are among the services they help provide. By informing deaf and hard of hearing individuals about their rights and the laws and programs available to support those rights, they, too, can become empowered as self-advocates.

privacy

How Personal Employment Information Is Shared And Sold

In today’s competitive business world, employers constantly are seeking ways to increase efficiency and reduce cost.  One obvious option in this effort is outsourcing, and employers certainly should be free to delegate functions to third-party vendors when it makes sense to do so.  But what are the implications when outsourcing requires an employer to share with a vendor private information about the employer’s workforce?

For attorneys who counsel either businesses or individuals, it’s important to know what rules and limitations apply to the increasingly popular trend of outsourcing employee verification services.  The issues associated with this trend are far-reaching and beg the question:  How can we better regulate and improve this beneficial type of outsourcing, for employers and employees alike?

The key to answering these questions begins with an understanding of the dual role credit reporting agencies play as database sponsors in the employee verification industry.  For example, in addition to compiling consumer credit scores, credit reporting giant Equifax also is in the business of compiling other information that is equally personal; namely, confidential details about workers’ current and former employment.  In fact, Equifax might even be selling information as personal as your compensation level, the name of your healthcare provider, whether you’ve ever filed for unemployment benefits, and your paystub history.

What is “The Work Number”

The Work Number, a subsidiary of Equifax, provides various financial and employment verification services.  The Work Number uses its ever-expanding database to confirm employment and income information for commercial verifiers, social service verifiers, and potential future employers.  The Work Number’s database currently contains the employment and salary records of over one-third of U.S. adults, and it includes detailed employee information about weekly paystubs, healthcare providers, medical and dental insurance, and unemployment compensation claims.

The Work Number built its database with the cooperation of thousands of U.S. businesses.  The Work Number markets itself to these willing participants as a means for busy human resource departments to outsource the time consuming task of verifying a range of information on former and current employees.  This service is so attractive that participating businesses actually pay for the ability to send The Work Number all employee information typically needed in the verification process.  The Work Number fields verification inquiries on the employer’s behalf, freeing up employer staff time for other tasks.

While providing employers with a valuable service, The Work Number simultaneously funnels this information it receives from its clients to its parent company, Equifax.  In turn, Equifax sells the information to third parties such as debt collectors, student loan issuers, and financial institutions.

Although Equifax’s sharing of the personal information garnered by The Work Number under in its role as a verification service provider is indisputable, the extent of such sharing is in question.  In an interview with NBC News, Equifax spokesman Timothy Klein denied that salary information is sold to debt collectors.[i]  Klein’s statement is in conflict, however, with Equifax CEO Richard Smith’s 2009 NYSE Magazine interview, in which he stated “[W]e can provide information about a debtor’s location, income, and employment.  That can help prioritize which accounts to pursue first.”[ii]

Because employer use of The Work Number has become so prevalent, the District of Columbia has issued new guidelines for low-income housing compliance, which include a provision governing the treatment of applicants whose employment and earnings can be verified only via The Work Number.[iii]  Likewise, the current Code of Mississippi Rules actually includes The Work Number’s email address, phone number, and website address in a statutory provision that instructs applicants for State-funded childcare on how to provide income and employment verification.[iv]  Considering The Work Number’s fast-paced growth and the privacy concerns it poses for consumers, it makes sense to consider what safeguards, if any, are in place to protect us.

Fair Credit Reporting Act

The most obvious consumer protection tool implicated by Equifax’s practices is The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).  The FCRA regulates instances in which “consumer reports” or “investigative consumer reports” are requested from a “consumer reporting agency.”[v]  For purposes of the FCRA, a “consumer reporting agency” includes any entity that regularly assembles credit or other information about consumers and furnishes that information to third parties via any means of interstate commerce.[vi]  Thus, Equifax and The Work Number are considered consumer reporting agencies for purposes of the FCRA.  “Consumer reports” include any communication of a consumer’s personal characteristics which will serve as a factor establishing the consumer’s eligibility for credit or insurance or for employment purposes.[vii]  By contrast, “investigative consumer reports” include reports regarding the consumer’s personal characteristics gathered during personal interviews, but do not include specific factual information about the consumer’s credit record.[viii]  Due to the more personal nature of information contained in an investigative consumer report, stricter guidelines are in place regarding disclosure of investigative consumer reports compared to ordinary consumer reports.  To the extent Equifax and The Work Number provide third parties with consumers’ personal and financial information, Equifax and The Work Number furnish consumer reports.

There are three types of recipients of the information provided by Equifax and The Work Number: prospective employers, financial institutions and creditors, and third party purchasers.  The FCRA applies differently to each recipient type.

Prospective Employers

The Work Number markets itself as a means for prospective employers to verify employment information of job applicants.  Thus, as its core business, The Work Number provides sensitive information to prospective employers.  Because the FCRA applies whenever employers request consumer reports from a consumer reporting agency like The Work Number, the FCRA is implicated by The Work Number’s information transfers to prospective employers.

The FCRA addresses issues such as what types of employers can obtain consumer reports, how they must obtain the report, what they must do before taking adverse action in response to the report, and what they must do after taking adverse action.[ix]  The Work Number contends that FCRA guidelines are met when it provides prospective employers with employment information.  Such guidelines include providing job applicants with written notice that information obtained from a consumer report may be used when making decisions concerning their employment.[x]  This notice must appear in a document containing only this disclosure.[xi]  Additionally, the consumer must provide written authorization of the procurement of the report.[xii]  To the extent The Work Number provides employment verification to prospective employers and meets these guidelines, it is within its rights to do so.  What the FCRA fails to address, however, is how other information in The Work Number’s database, such as salary and insurance information, is used for non-employment purposes.

Financial Institutions and Creditors

In addition to providing potential employers with consumers’ employment information, The Work Number also concedes to providing creditors and financial institutions with employment information from its database.  In an interview with NBC News, Equifax spokesman Timothy Klein admitted that pay rate information is shared with third parties.[xiii]  These third parties typically include mortgage, auto, and financial services credit grantors.  Klein said The Work Number provides such information to financial institutions and credit grantors in compliance with the FCRA, but denied that salary information is sold to debt collectors.[xiv]  The Work Number asserts that consumers give such third parties the right to access this information at the time the consumer applies for credit.

Section 1681 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act states that generally, a consumer reporting agency, like Equifax or The Work Number, may only furnish a consumer report to such third parties when the consumer reporting agency has reason to believe the third party “intends to use the information in connection with a credit transaction involving the consumer … and involving the extension of credit to, or review or collection of an account of, the consumer.”[xv]  Even assuming Klein’s assertion is true that consumers grant these third parties access to such information, other provisions in the FCRA raise the question of whether this authorization is sufficient.  Subsection (c)(1)(A) of the FCRA requires that “the consumer authorize[e] the agency to provide such report to such person.”[xvi]  This language suggests that a much more personalized authorization transaction may be required than Klein alluded to in his statement.  Namely, it appears that the consumer must furnish the specific consumer reporting agency in question with authorization to provide the report to the specific financial institution or creditor requesting the report.  Interestingly, although in certain circumstances a consumer may authorize all reporting agencies to give all creditors this information by executing a general waiver at the time he or she applies for credit, another subsection of the FCRA indicates the consumer may have an additional line of defense.  Pursuant to subsection (c)(1)(B)(iii), a consumer may elect to have his name and address excluded from lists provided by consumer reporting agencies in connection with credit transactions not initiated by the consumer.[xvii]

Unfortunately, the rules delineating when reporting agencies like Equifax and The Work Number can give creditors and financial institutions other information from The Work Number’s database are unclear.  It is not clear when, how, and with regard to whom the consumer must provide authorization for a reporting agency to share this information.  However, given that consumers must be clearly notified in writing and provide authorization prior to issuance of a consumer report when such report will be used for employment purposes, a strong argument can be made that this same proactive and consumer oriented approach should apply to all sections of the FCRA.

Equifax Information Sold to Third Parties

In addition to providing information to prospective employers, financial institutions, and creditors, Equifax also sells some of this information to interested third parties.  For example, Equifax heavily markets The Work Number’s services to student loan issurers.  Thanks to The Work Number’s information, student loan issuers have seen a 5.5% increase in Right Party Contact and a 7.3% increase in Collections Resolution.[xviii]  Additionally, Equifax provides information from The Work Number to financial firms.  In these transactions, the information is packaged as a “portfolio monitoring” service which allows financial firms to market their products to a specially selected group of consumers.  The Work Number’s information is also marketed to these firms as “proactive managing of risk.”  In this context, the firms analyze information from The Work Number for early warning signs about when someone might soon run into financial trouble.  The marketing campaign for these services touts “Using The Work Number to stay abreast of employment changes can expand your ability to mitigate risk while maximizing product and service potential.”[xix]

Strangely, the FCRA seemingly fails to address this type of information transfer at all.  While the FCRA provides guidelines for when a consumer reporting agency may furnish a consumer report, how and when a consumer report may be furnished for employment purposes, how and when a consumer report may be furnished in connection with credit or insurance transactions, and what added protections are afforded medical information, there is a lack of guidance regarding the sale of such information.  Nowhere does the FCRA expressly prohibit the sale of consumer information to third parties with a business interest in the information.  This is further complicated by the fact that Equifax owns The Work Number.  As a credit bureau, Equifax proceeds under the comparatively lax rules governing credit reporting agencies, which are distinct from those governing data brokers.  Thus, by virtue of Equifax’s affiliation with The Work Number, it can behave as a credit bureau, selling credit information to lenders.  The problem, however, is Equifax has access to a much greater wealth of consumer information than a credit bureau otherwise would, thanks to its affiliation with The Work Number.

The good news, however, is that the FCRA actually may address the problematic affiliation between Equifax and The Work Number.  Section 1681s-3 of the FCRA relates to affiliate sharing.[xx]  This section prohibits an entity that receives information which would be a consumer report from another entity under common ownership from using that information to make a solicitation for marketing purposes, unless the consumer is provided an opportunity to prohibit such solicitations after a clear disclosure has been made to the consumer explaining that information may be communicated amongst such entities for purposes of solicitation.[xxi]  However, even this provision of the FCRA might not be as helpful as it seems.  Although it may prohibit Equifax from using information it obtains from The Work Number to solicit business, that is only half the battle.  Equifax still could continue to sell the information it gathers by its own efforts to third parties.  The information might simply be less comprehensive.

Possible Solutions

In light of these revelations, the first question on many consumers’ minds is how to address this sharing or sale of private information, which appears to be lawful under the guidelines currently in place.

From an individual’s perspective, preventing sensitive information from ending up in The Work Number database seems like a futile proposition.  A job applicant, for example, could attempt to condition a prospective employment relationship on the employer’s agreement not to share any of the applicant’s personal or employment information.  However, given the current job market, most employees would have very little negotiating power, and most employers are unlikely to oblige, especially given the economy gained by utilizing The Work Number.  If an individual is unsuccessful in this negotiation, he or she can always turn down a job offer.  While doing so will keep the employee’s personal information safe for now, the applicant has cut off his nose to spite his face and remains unemployed.  It seems then that the only plausible way to regulate these information transfers is to address them before the consumer even gets involved.

Congress Should Revisit the Fair Credit Reporting Act

The most effective means by which to provide much-needed regulatory reform is to take legislative action.  Specifically, Congress should revisit the FCRA, taking into consideration the flaws and gaps that Equifax is exploiting.  One approach could include amending the FCRA to require a consumer’s written authorization before such information is sold.  Specifically, implementing the same comprehensive authorization guidelines currently in place regarding consumer reports used for employment purposes could serve as a model.  Under this approach, the consumer reporting agency would need to provide consumers with clear, conspicuous written notice of the possible sale of their information prior to the information being sold.  Such notice would need to be in a stand-alone document, and the consumer’s response, either authorizing the sale or not authorizing the sale, would also need to be in writing.

Another possible approach includes implementing stricter rules governing the flow of consumer reports out of credit bureaus, perhaps mirroring the already stricter guidelines governing disclosure of investigative consumer reports.  Additionally, Congress could amend the FCRA to clearly delineate exactly what information can be included in consumer reports.  Part of the current problem appears to involve the crossover between the personal and employment related information contained in The Work Number’s database with the credit information expected to be in the hands of a credit bureau, like Equifax.

John Balitis is a director and attorney with the law firm of Fennemore Craig in Phoenix where he co-chairs the firm’s Labor Relations and Employment Practice Group.  He represents businesses in all aspects of employment law. Kristin Penunuri is a student at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.  She is a legal writing intern at Fennemore Craig in Phoenix.


[i] Bob Sullivan, Your Employer May Share Your Salary, and Equifax Might Sell That Data, The Red Tape Chronicles on NBC News.com (Jan. 30, 2013, 4:44 AM), available at http://redtape.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/30/16762661-exclusive-your-employer-may-share-your-salary-and-equifax-might-sell-that-data?lite.

[ii] Id.

[iii] D.C. Mun. Regs., Title 14 § 5402 (2012).

[iv] Miss. Admin. Code, Title 18, Subtitle 7, Rule 2 § 102 (2012).

[v] Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 (2006).

[vi] Id. at § 1681a (2006).

[vii] Id.

[viii] Id.

[ix] Bob Sullivan, Your Employer May Share Your Salary, and Equifax Might Sell That Data, The Red Tape Chronicles on NBC News.com (Jan. 30, 2013, 4:44 AM), available at http://redtape.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/30/16762661-exclusive-your-employer-may-share-your-salary-and-equifax-might-sell-that-data?lite.

[x] 15 U.S.C. § 1681b (2006).

[xi] Id.

[xii] Id.

[xiii] Sullivan, supra note 9.

[xiv] Id.

[xv] 15 U.S.C. § 1681b (2006).

[xvi] Id.

[xvii] Id.

[xviii] Bob Sullivan, Your Employer May Share Your Salary, and Equifax Might Sell That Data, The Red Tape Chronicles on NBC News.com (Jan. 30, 2013, 4:44 AM), available at http://redtape.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/30/16762661-exclusive-your-employer-may-share-your-salary-and-equifax-might-sell-that-data?lite.

[xix] Id.

[xx] 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-3 (2006).

[xxi] Id.

 

 

How To Learn More About Your Work Number

Consumers who want to know what, if any, information about them resides with The Work Number may do so by visiting The Work Number website (www.theworknumber.com) and requesting an Employment Data Report (“EDR”).  Processing this request involves logging in and completing an EDR request form that is available in .pdf format.  Alternatively, interested consumers may contact The Work Number by telephone at (866) 604-6570.

If an EDR contains information that is inaccurate or objectionable to the consumer, he or she may submit online comments via The Work Number website.  The website suggests that The Work Number will embed the comments so that they are visible to subscribers that obtain the consumer’s other information from The Work Number.