Month: September 2016

Millennials Take on Economy

Millennials internalized the effects of the most recent recession and revealed their beliefs about the economy and jobs future in a recent poll conducted by EY, a professional services company, and the Economic Innovation Group. Nearly one-third believe their community is still in a recession and 78 percent are worried about having good-paying job opportunities, according to the poll. Hard work is an important factor to get ahead in life, say 88 percent of the 18-34 year olds, and two-thirds say having a college education is important, but just 49 percent believe the benefits of a college education will be worth the cost. More than half feel a great deal of confidence about the military and colleges and universities, but other institutions such as the government, organized religion and the news media garner far less confidence.  While 78 percent consider entrepreneurs successful and 62 percent have considered starting their own business, 42 percent cite the lack of financial means as the top obstacle to launching a startup.  Instead, Millennials appear to prefer to climb the corporate ladder, with 44 percent saying the best way to advance their career is by staying at one company and working their way up the ladder and another 25 percent cite moving between different companies and advancing along the way.  Only 22 percent felt that starting their own company would be the best way to advance.

From homeless to employed: Two programs show promise

For homeless individuals who seek employment, the barriers are high. While many struggle with mental health, substance abuse, or a criminal record, even more lack basic job-seeking requirements, such as a permanent address, a resume, and bathing facilities. By understanding their challenges, cities are creating more responsive programs to help homeless people achieve gainful employment.

Instead of citing panhandlers, Albuquerque, N.M., is finding them jobs (Huffington Post). “There’s a Better Way” is a city program that picks up panhandlers who want to work and drives them to temporary jobs around the city. Participants help with city beautification efforts, such as weed and litter removal, and are paid $9 an hour in cash.

“Often [when] we talk about employment, we use one model. It’s called full-time employment,” said Father Rusty Smith of program partner St. Martin’s Hospitality Center. “If you’re dealing with mental health issues, often working one or three days a week is all you can do.”

So far, the program has provided 932 temporary jobs, and 100 individuals have moved on to permanent employment.

In San Francisco, the tech industry has created incredible wealth, but the vast majority of employment opportunities in the region’s core industry are limited to highly skilled workers. To alleviate this imbalance, community leaders are providing opportunity on the other end of the job spectrum for the city’s 6,680-plus homeless. A retailer, the police, and workforce development specialists have teamed up to create a job fair geared specifically toward the homeless and other marginalized residents (Next City). Hosted by The Hall, a retail space adjacent to the impoverished Tenderloin neighborhood, the event brought together several employers seeking low-skill workers, none of which asked about criminal records or job history. Police helped raise awareness among homeless job-seekers by handing out flyers, and workforce development agency America Works provided resume-writing tips.

Harvard Business Review: How Senior Executives Find Time to Be Creative

This HBR article hit the spot with me. Why? Because I love creativity and being creative. Let’s find Ashtabula County’s creative advantage to build a next generation economy and workforce. How about it?

The number-one attribute CEOs look for in their incoming workforce (according to an IBM survey of more than 1,500 CEOs across 33 industries and 60 countries) is not discipline, integrity, intelligence, or emotional intelligence. It’s creativity.

After all, every company wants to be at the forefront of its industry and on the cutting edge of innovation. And for that, you need highly creative employees.

While much of the advice on becoming more creative is known, what’s harder to figure out is how busy executives actually find time to put it into practice. To find out, I spoke to some of the most innovative leaders across key industries, from technology to consulting to manufacturing. Here’s what they said.

Seek out unfamiliarity. Research shows that we are at our most creative when we are in an unfamiliar environment. One study showed that spending a few days out in nature disconnected from all devices — an unfamiliar and unusual experience for most people — led to a 50% increase in creativity.

But if you don’t have several days to retreat to the woods, how do you make time for new experiences? Terykson Fernando, former Creative Director at Hubbl (which sold to Airpush for $10 million) and now Creative Director at Sattva, tries to integrate observation into everyday activities. “The entire universe is filled with ideas and has in it what I am trying to create, so I take clues from everyday life by observing every little thing and being inquisitive about the how, why, what of things around me.”

If that’s not quite enough of a push, Lars Bastholm, global CCO at Google, offers a tip: “I used to tell creatives who were stuck on a brief to go to the magazine store and buy three magazines that they’d never in a million years buy. Like Orthodontist Monthly, The World of Monster Trucking, that sort of thing. Then I’d suggest they read them cover to cover and try to reframe the brief they were trying to crack with the target audience of those magazines in mind. Usually it would not only be super fun, but it would also open up new avenues of thought that could then be applied to the original brief.”

Simon Mulcahy, interim CMO at Salesforce, recommends an exercise he calls “flipping the binoculars around.” For example, if you’re a bank branch trying to increase customer loyalty, look at a company in a completely different industry, like Starbucks, and ask how it keeps customers coming back.

Get feedback from diverse sources. While not every study agrees, there is a good amount of research showing that diverse groups are more creative. The leaders I talked to not only made an effort to bring together people from different backgrounds and perspectives but also took the time to talk to people outside their industry about their ideas.

Rufus Griscom, serial entrepreneur and CEO and founder of Heleo, puts it this way: “Ideas are like people — they don’t like to be isolated or treated jealously. They like to mingle, interact with other ideas.”

“Like most young entrepreneurs, I used to be worried that if I shared a new business idea too broadly, someone else would run with it, and I would lose the opportunity,” he told me. “Now, when I have a promising business idea, I literally share it with every smart person I encounter who has any interest in it. This results in introductions and new information, and it increases the likelihood that the idea will one day turn into a business.”

Phil Harris, SVP and Chief Strategy Officer at Riverbed, adds an important reminder. Inside an organization, really listening to this feedback is just as important as soliciting it: “When we are in a room, there are no titles, grades, seniority. All voices have equal weight and all have equal time. Everyone knows they are listened to, and their contribution is always given time. Everyone is in a relationship that is based on trust and honesty, and not always the easy kind of honesty.”

Give yourself space. Creativity requires space. This may explain why meditation has been shown to increase creativity as well. “I meditate so that I can let go of existing thoughts and patterns in my mind and make space for new ones,” Fernando told me. “To me, creativity is all about letting things well up from within.”

While many executives do meditate, I understand that lots of business people feel like they just can’t take the time. If this applies to you, there are other ways of capturing the benefits of mind wandering.

Taking walks has also been shown to increase creativity, because walking frees your mind up to daydream — which, it turns out, is our brain in active problem-solving mode. As Peter Sims, CEO and founder of Parliament, Inc., put it, “If you want people to be inventive, they need space. Steve Jobs took lots of walks. I see Mark Zuckerberg taking walks on the roof of Facebook’s new HQ.”

Google’s Bastholm recommends any physical, relatively mundane activity: “Vacuum the house. Get on an elliptical at the gym. Paint a fence. Anything that will allow your brain to work in the background.”

Griscom concurs. If I am working through something, I like to engage in low-intensity activities — walking, bicycling, driving, doing the dishes. I think because I am accomplishing something, however trivial (dishes are getting cleaner! blocks are being walked!), while ruminating on a given subject, it takes the pressure off the thought process and enables me to free-associate.”

Embrace constraints. You might wonder whether the need for “space” and the need for “constraints” goes hand in hand. After all, those seem like very different ideas. Yet research shows that creativity activates both a part of the brain that is associated with daydreaming and a part of the brain associated with “administrative control.” After all, success takes the ability for free-flowing insight combined with the ability to turn that insight into a thoughtful product.

The constraints should be part of the work itself, not arbitrary limitations. As Mulcahy says, “You don’t just say ‘take that hill,’ you say ‘Take that hill in order to do something else,’ so that if the situation changes, your soldiers know they no longer need to take the hill.”

For example, the Nike Flyknit shoe is designed to combine sustainability goals with athletic performance. Hannah Jones, Chief Sustainability Officer and VP of the Innovation Accelerator at Nike, Inc., describes how they set out the project’s constraints: “We set a guiding principle called Zero Compromise. We’re going to make a great product that is beautiful and sustainable….We gave the team irritating constraints — you have to do double business in half the impact. These are unusual bedfellows, and you’re going to clash these two together. Those constraints drive a creative tension that forces a different conversation.” The company considers the project successful: According to Jones, the Nike Flyknit delivers on athletic performance while producing 60% less waste than traditional cut-and-sew methods.

If you want to be more creative yourself, or to foster more creativity on your team, the data and expert advice is clear, and putting it into practice may not be as time-consuming as it first appears. Step out of your comfort zone, give yourself room to think, learn about things beyond your niche, and identify useful constraints — all in the course of a normal workday.

Author: Emma Seppala, Ph.D., is the Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and author of The Happiness Track. She is also founder of  Fulfillment Daily. Follow her on Twitter @emmaseppala or her website

Learn from Rochester about Economic Gardening

Economic gardening is a business development approach that can help Ashtabula County young companies. We can learn from other places using this approach. One such place is Rochester, NY.

The Greater Rochester Regional Economic Gardening Program is designed to provide sophisticated, tailor-made technical assistance to local companies poised for growth in the Greater Rochester, NY region. GRE partners with the Edward Lowe Foundation, a national nonprofit organization that supports entrepreneurship, to provide this unique program to Rochester area companies.

Economic gardening is ideal for second-stage entrepreneurs because it focuses on critical strategic challenges they’re wrestling with – from developing new markets and refining business models to assessing competitive intelligence. By providing second-stage CEOs with action-oriented tools and information, economic gardening specialists point them to new opportunities they may never have thought of on their own. Selected companies will have access to a suite of high-end, high-speed development tools.

  • Identify qualified leads by sorting contents of extensive databases
  • Map geographic areas using GIS software to facilitate targeted marketing efforts
  • Review core strategies related to commodity and/or niche markets
  • Examine social media utilization to connect with customers
  • Place your website in front of more customers using search engine optimization
  • Analyze employee temperament to build strong management teams

Research on Career Earnings from College Education: Low-Income Vs. Higher-Income Family Comparisons

The Upjohn Institute has completed some insightful research on the impact of college education on career earnings for individuals from low-income and higher income family.

Individuals from low-income family backgrounds gain in career earnings from college, but these college earnings gains may not be enough to equalize economic opportunity. This handicap for individuals from lower-income backgrounds is driven largely by differential access to the upper tail of the earnings distribution. The relative lack of access to the highest earnings for low-income college graduates is of extra concern because the top of the earnings distribution has seen the fastest recent growth. Individuals from poorer backgrounds may be encountering a glass ceiling that even a bachelor’s degree does not break. Download the article here.

Five Business Personality Types and How to Deal with Them

Wilhelm Reich, a colleague of Sigmund Freud, laid the foundation for five classic personality types which, to this day, are well recognized in the field of psychology. Dr. Reich actually identified the body builds of these five types first, and then identified the personality types. Here, I discuss both. The theory of, and how to therapeutically deal with, these types is beyond the scope of this article. However, by knowing about and working with these five classic personality types, you can understand yourself better and become more effective at working with others.

The names of each of the classic types have been changed to better describe each one. The body build of each type has been included since it is the base of this model, and it is what sets this model apart from other personality models. The body build can also help with identifying our predominant type and others’. You can’t rely on the body type information alone, but when first starting to work with this model, it can make discerning the type easier. As you become more proficient in identifying and working with these types, your ability to understand and work with others will improve significantly. READ MORE HERE.

IEDC on the Driverless Car and Its Possible Future Home

If you recently woke up from a long coma, you may want to sit down. Driverless cars now roam the streets of Pittsburgh (Bloomberg). Ride-hailing company Uber is using autonomous vehicles to transport riders across the city (with a human in the driver’s seat just in case).

Why Pittsburgh – a city better known for steel and Mr. Rogers? Home to Carnegie Mellon University and its world-renowned robotics department, Pittsburgh possessed the vital brain power to make the project a success (Chicago Tribune). (As well, the city’s notoriously hilly topography, its plethora of bridges, and snowy winters will allow for testing in hazardous conditions.)

As the technology progresses, cities and states are positioning themselves as the next home for the nascent industry by playing up their competitive advantages. While Silicon Valley arguably holds the advantage, Nevada, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Virginia, and Arizona all have skin in the game (GovTech).

Not to be outdone, Michigan, seeking to remain on the cutting edge of the automotive industry, is throwing its resources behind the American Center for Mobility, a driverless-car testing ground in the college town of Ypsilanti (GovTech). The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has invested $17 million in the project. The ACM is complemented by other Michigan testing facilities, including the 32-acre “ghost town” known as M City at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Google’s facility in Novi, and General Motors’ laboratory in Warren.

IEDC: Craft breweries drive neighborhood revitalization across Cleveland

It turns out long-vacant manufacturing and retail buildings happen to make ideal locations for mash tuns and fermenter tanks. The greater Cleveland area has seen the number of craft breweries nearly double since 2013, now occupying a total of 530,000 square feet of real estate (

One such operation is the BottleHouse Brewing Company, which located in a former cold-storage building that was scheduled for demolition, and has since expanded with a second production space. The pioneer, and now the city’s most recognizable beer brand, was Great Lakes Brewing, which started production in 1988. Since opening in the then-depressed Ohio City neighborhood, its turnaround has been dramatic (USA Today).

Other breweries and businesses — a pasta maker, a bike shop, a tortilla factory, as well as restaurants and bars — followed. Newcomers are flocking to the neighborhood, even though Cleveland’s overall population is still declining. The city repaved the quiet street next to the brewery, Market Ave., with cobblestones, and poured millions into renovating the West Side Market, whose origins date back to the 19th century. Today, more than 100 vendors sell produce, meat, cheese and other foods there.

But why the recent brewery boom? In 2012, Ohio passed a law eliminating the need for additional licenses to operate onsite taprooms. This has reduced costs and made it easier to sell directly to customers, thus increasing production. And while the national small business-lending landscape remains capital-starved, Cleveland’s small brewers are bucking the trend. Their ramped-up production has caught the attention of banks, which are now more willing to lend to enterprising brewers. In fact, BottleHouse Brewing owner Brian Benchek regularly turns down private-equity investors who want him to expand, preferring to keep things manageable and focused on serving his neighbors.

Source: IEDC

New report: Workforce training a smarter investment than “megadeals”

Incentives watchdog Good Jobs First takes aim at company-specific “megadeals” (projects receiving incentives of $75 million or more) in a new report, “Smart Skills versus Mindless Megadeals” (PDF). Using data from the organization’s Subsidy Tracker database, GJF finds the average megadeal costs $658,000 per job, thus delivering a negative return on investment in most cases. The report argues that customized workforce training programs are far more efficient incentives, typically costing less than $10,000 per job.

In addition to their expense, large, one-off projects don’t always deliver the number of jobs expected, and when they fail, can leave taxpayers with a large bill. Rather than an “eggs in one basket approach,” the report argues that investing in people, through workforce development programs, not only is cheaper but is a better allocation of risk. Citing census data, the report notes that 96.6 percent of U.S. workers don’t relocate within a given year, so “leakage” to other regions is not a large concern. Other strategies that are low-cost and lower-risk than megadeals include cluster development and entrepreneurship support, GJF argues.

The report advocates for more states to adopt dollars-per-job caps on incentives. GJF cites two federal programs as good models: SBA’s section 504 and HUD’s section 108 programs (with cost-per-job caps of $65,000 and $35,000 respectively).