Monthly Archives: February 2010

How creative companies destroy themselvs

Dick Brass, a former vice-president at Microsoft, has an insightful commentary in the Sunday, February 7, 2010 edition of the  New York Times about how Microsoft (MSFT) “no longer brings us the future.”  If you are interested in Microsoft, the technology business or creative companies I highly recommend this article.  It points out, among other things, how rivalries among divisions can impede growth and development.  It also shows how being the leader in a business group can eventually be a barrier to continued success.  His article is more balanced than one might expect.

A suggestion for Democrats and Republicans

By choice I receive quite a bit of email from both political parties.  One thing I’ve noticed in these messages that seems unnecessary and self-defeating is that just about every message contains a negative reference to the other party.  That reference usually takes the form of hyperbolic spin.  When I read that part of the message I just turn off the rest of the message.  So, here’s a suggestion – even a challenge:

Try sending out messages for just one week without mentioning the other political party.  Just stand on your own message.  This voter would appreciate it.

Breaking News: This is not breaking news

Watching, listening or reading the media news for more than 30 minutes at one setting reveals that the term “breaking news” has lost its original meaning.  For example, at this moment (7:19 a.m., February 5, 2010) somebody apologized, a city reimbursed a parking meter company and a food company made a profit in the first quarter.  All of these are “Breaking News” stories.

This morning CBS News (“Toyota President apologizes for safety woes” ) and CNN (“Toyota: Apology but no recall”) say that somebody apologizing is “Breaking News.”  Breitbart says that Tyson Foods returning to profit is “Breaking News.”  All the “Breaking News” in Chicago is at www.chicagobreaking news.com.  Right now the top three “Breaking News” stories in Chicago are as follows:
“2 police officers hurt in West Side crash;”
“Dead burglary suspect got mixed up with wrong crowd:” and
“City reimburses parking firm for blocked off spaces.”

“Breaking news” used to mean that scheduled programing was interrupted. Now it seems that “Breaking News” is a scheduled program.  Makes one wonder what new term will replace “Breaking News” for stories that are really breaking news.

How to increase the number of entrepreneurs

The numbers are in and the conclusion is clear.  First, the numbers.  In 2009, there was an 8.9 percent increase in the number of new entrepreneurs, according to a study by Challenger, Gray and Christmas, Inc.  That is a four-year high.  Now for the conclusion.  Many of those new business owners were laid off from other jobs and HAD to start new businesses to survive.  Thus, if an increase in entrepreneurs is desired, which for years many economic development experts have said is the key to revitalization, the government should encourage layoffs.  I’m being facetious of course, but the message I take away from the above statistic is that Americans (and humans in general)are adaptive.  When the environment changes, we will change to adjust as necessary.   And no, I’m not advocating layoffs.

Interestingly, the biggest increase in the percentage of those new business owners was in the category of persons aged 55 and older.  That group would logically have the toughest time finding a similar job (with similar benefits) that they had been laid off from.

The five things that Americans really want.

Dr. Frank Luntz is a communications expert whom you have probably seen on television.  He is known for his “Instant Response” focus group technique.  He often takes a group of people and has them watch a major speech or debate and then interviews them to understand why they were emotionally moved at certain points in the speech or by the actions of the speaker.  Luntz also does polling and research for major corporations about what motivates people.  In his latest book, What Americans Really Want … Really, he says that the “five lifestyle attributes that really matter” are:

(1) more money;

(2) fewer hassles:

(3) more time;

(4) more choices and

(5) no worries.

More discussion on this subject in my Mississippi Business Journal column.

Economic Impact of EITC in Mississippi

The Earned Income Tax Credit or the EITC is a refundable federal income tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals and families. When the EITC exceeds the amount of taxes owed, it results in a tax refund to those who claim and qualify for the credit.

Mark Craven, IRS Senior Stakeholder Liason, Mid-South Area, provides useful information about IRS matters for small businesses and others through a regular e-newsletter.  Below is some information he shared recently about the effect of the EITC on Mississippi.

State County, Parish, Etc. Number of Net EITC Recipients Average Net EITC Amount Total Net EITC Amount
MS Adams 4,696 $2,440 $11,458,304
MS Alcorn 3,877 $2,275 $8,819,013
MS Amite 1,538 $2,376 $3,654,140
MS Attala 2,916 $2,542 $7,412,144
MS Benton 920 $2,383 $2,192,818
MS Bolivar 6,276 $2,625 $16,475,558
MS Calhoun 2,099 $2,432 $5,104,939
MS Carroll 1,264 $2,500 $3,159,903
MS Chickasaw 3,308 $2,369 $7,837,210
MS Choctaw 888 $2,440 $2,166,915
MS Claiborne 2,147 $3,168 $6,802,367
MS Clarke 2,333 $2,399 $5,597,412
MS Clay 2,920 $2,438 $7,118,136
MS Coahoma 5,407 $2,723 $14,721,986
MS Copiah 4,761 $2,483 $11,820,193
MS Covington 3,075 $2,607 $8,015,768
MS DeSoto 13,575 $2,219 $30,126,784
MS Forrest 11,792 $2,372 $27,969,491
MS Franklin 1,059 $2,454 $2,598,771
MS George 2,348 $2,228 $5,231,398
MS Greene 1,128 $2,480 $2,797,112
MS Grenada 3,287 $2,333 $7,666,962
MS Hancock 3,304 $2,199 $7,265,902
MS Harrison 21,389 $2,229 $47,669,156
MS Hinds 40,179 $2,626 $105,507,447
MS Holmes 4,653 $2,836 $13,194,358
MS Humphreys 2,147 $2,798 $6,006,982
MS Issaquena 160 $2,748 $439,670
MS Itawamba 3,086 $2,168 $6,689,430
MS Jackson 12,754 $2,261 $28,836,956
MS Jasper 2,811 $2,499 $7,023,567
MS Jefferson 1,668 $2,752 $4,590,385
MS Jefferson Davis 1,997 $2,537 $5,065,599
MS Jones 7,891 $2,383 $18,803,252
MS Kemper 1,573 $2,466 $3,878,955
MS Lafayette 3,462 $2,127 $7,364,550
MS Lamar 3,189 $2,322 $7,405,672
MS Lauderdale 10,613 $2,429 $25,777,575
MS Lawrence 2,307 $2,246 $5,181,321
MS Leake 3,386 $2,475 $8,379,285
MS Lee 11,110 $2,298 $25,530,735
MS Leflore 5,856 $2,660 $15,579,253
MS Lincoln 3,824 $2,298 $8,788,213
MS Lowdnes 7,440 $2,455 $18,264,963
MS Madison 9,206 $2,583 $23,887,307
MS Marion 3,757 $2,696 $10,127,154
MS Marshall 6,142 $2,284 $14,026,135
MS Monroe 5,003 $2,291 $11,463,926
MS Montgomery 1,884 $2,430 $4,578,101
MS Neshoba 4,591 $2,353 $10,802,392
MS Newton 2,705 $2,476 $6,696,536
MS Noxubee 2,267 $2,679 $6,072,564
MS Oktibbeha 4,479 $2,323 $10,404,332
MS Panola 6,235 $2,537 $15,815,539
MS Pearl River 5,695 $2,306 $13,131,916
MS Perry 1,420 $2,313 $3,284,591
MS Pike 7,026 $2,693 $18,921,531
MS Pontotoc 3,054 $2,234 $6,822,794
MS Prentiss 2,338 $2,294 $5,363,988
MS Quitman 1,367 $2,631 $3,596,114
MS Rankin 10,972 $2,190 $24,029,496
MS Scott 4,798 $2,537 $12,174,311
MS Sharkey 1,088 $2,824 $3,072,804
MS Simpson 3,618 $2,453 $8,873,758
MS Smith 1,696 $2,431 $4,122,536
MS Stone 2,018 $2,382 $4,807,744
MS Sunflower 5,380 $2,796 $15,042,976
MS Tallahatchie 2,338 $2,573 $6,016,232
MS Tate 3,205 $2,381 $7,630,915
MS Tippah 2,892 $2,247 $6,498,553
MS Tishomingo 1,873 $2,137 $4,002,172
MS Tunica 2,940 $2,727 $8,017,889
MS Union 2,973 $2,251 $6,693,473
MS Walthall 1,956 $2,735 $5,349,810
MS Warren 7,201 $2,537 $18,270,979
MS Washington 10,528 $2,862 $30,127,981
MS Wayne 2,550 $2,612 $6,661,731
MS Webster 1,725 $2,438 $4,205,004
MS Wilkinson 1,576 $2,422 $3,817,768
MS Winston 2,647 $2,403 $6,360,369
MS Yalobusha 2,269 $2,305 $5,229,483
MS Yazoo 4,084 $2,607 $10,646,713