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Also in This Issue... ■■

Oh, Say Can You See

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Understanding the Problems of Small Businesses

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“Everybody Counts or Nobody Counts”

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Don’t let adversity stop you!

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Key Communication Skills Necessary For Success

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Patriot’s Corner: Colin Powell

Good Sense

News

College Shopping 101

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he task of selecting a college for yourself or a family member is no easy matter. Even though the Education Department has required “net price” calculators on college and university websites since 2011, varying formats are still confusing. According to The Institute for College Access (ticas.org), which is an independent nonprofit organization, many of these calculators are not as useful for armed forces service members because they don’t indicate whether the estimated

net price includes GI eligibility or other military-specific benefits. Prospective college students and their families are now receiving a newly- introduced Financial Aid Shopping Sheet which estimates costs, tallies grants and scholarships, and describes payment options, such as through work-study earnings or with federal loans. This sheet is also required to be provided to military students by colleges and universities that accept tuition assistance and GI Bill money. If you’re still confused about tuition options, visit collegecost.ed.gov which provides a College Scoreboard to determine a college’s affordability and value plus other information areas that are critical to your college selection. Additional information is available on ticas.org. If you still have questions about tuition payment options, contact the school’s financial aid department.

vol. 1 • issue 5

How’s My Driving? Don’t worry; someone will let you know.

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s anyone who’s bought a relatively new car within the past few years can attest, electronic gadgetry has completely revamped the driving experience. The tools surround you when you hop in the car, from GPS navigation that plans your travel to in-board internet access to keep you current on a trip, from satellite-based radio services providing continuous entertainment to services that can remotely bail you out when you lock your keys in the car, from dashboards that remember who you are and how you like your seat positioned to something called “Bluetooth®” that lets you communicate without taking your hands off the wheel… the options just keep growing. technologies will become commonplace in the But alongside all of these spectacular electronyears ahead. ics is yet another gizmo that has been steadily, Telematic devices plug into your car’s diagperhaps quietly, gaining traction among drivnostics port (usually found in the vicinity of ers. It’s a telematic device being promoted by the steering column) and tracks the car’s oninsurance companies offering usage-based the-road experience. In other words, the device insurance (UBI) options to customers seeking records not only how far the car is driven, but a break on their insurhow the car was handled ance premiums. A popuwhile being driven. Eleclar example of this techreadings of speed, But alongside all of these tronic nology is the Snapshot® braking, and time-of-day device offered by Progres- spectacular electronics is yet driving are captured and sive Auto Insurance as another gizmo that has been transmitted wirelessly part of their Pay-As-Youto your insurer’s home Drive® program. Other steadily, perhaps quietly, gaining office, where the data is examples are Drivewise® traction among drivers. It’s a used to construct a risk from AllState and State profile for the car. Farm’s Drive Safe and telematic device being promoted Use of telematic driving Save™. State Farm’s is a by insurance companies offering monitors is optional, of bit different, since it intebut their growusage-based insurance (UBI) course, grates with installed coming popularity is tied to munications technologies options to customers seeking discounts that are made like OnStar or SYNC to a break on their insurance available to drivers who record the data. Regardrecord what insurers less of the approach, is premiums. determine to be a “safe likely that the use of these driving/low risk procontinued on pg.4


Oh, Say Can You See

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re you one of the six out of 10 Americans who know all the words and history of America’s national anthem? Or are you one of the four out of 10 who can recall the “perilous fight” line? Then you should be congratulated. As a result of a 2004 Harris Interactive Survey which indicated two out of three Americans didn’t know all the words of “The Star Spangled Banner,” the National Anthem project was formed in 2007 with the primary goal to enlighten Americans about the rich history behind its creation and encourage Americans to sing along with soloists in honoring the song and our nation. Written by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812, it was adopted as the nation’s national anthem on March 3, 1931. So each year on March 3, National Anthem Day is celebrated by proudly flying the American flag and singing “The Star Spangled Banner” at special community functions. Need the music to sing to? Visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_ Star-Spangled_Banner#Francis_Scott_Key.27s_lyrics

Understanding the Problems of Small Businesses – Uncertainty’s a Big Issue!

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econd only to the spiraling cost of employee health care, the unknowns and ambiguities surrounding the economy’s direction continue to be a major headache for business owners. With terms like “fiscal cliff,” “quantitative easing,” and “congressional divide” bombarding the airwaves, it has become so much more complex these days for the individual proprietor to plot a course of action. So, where does all of the uncertainty come from? The short answer, of course, would be that the wake of the “great recession” of 2008 has created a sea change in the business arena. The markers business owners previously used to make decisions for the future are out the window. The sheer breadth and depth of the recession has created a brittle decision-making atmosphere… no longer can options be evaluated on the basis of experience, since patterns of the past have been so violently altered. More than two years in to what some governmental sources call a “recovery,” consumer confidence continues to languish at all-time lows, meaning that the spending and enthusiasm that typically would fuel a rebound continue to be absent. What’s a business owner to In many respects, we’re in a self-fulfilling spiral which has do? Since consumer spending not shown any inclination to is tentative, does it make sense improve. What’s a business owner to to hire employees or increase do? Since consumer spending is tentative, does it make marketing? Is it better to sense to hire employees or maintain current facilities or increase marketing? Is it better to maintain current facilities or build for the recovery that we build for the recovery that we all hope will pick up steam? all hope will pick up steam? What’s going to happen with What’s going to happen with taxes? Will the country’s educataxes? Will the countr y’s tion industry be able to supply a workforce capable of meeting education industry be able to new technological demands? As an example of how this supply a workforce capable uncertainty tends to freeze of meeting new technological decisions, the National Federation of Independent Business demands? (NFIB) reported in its recent “Small Business Economic Trends” survey[1] that “Seventy percent of the owners characterize the current period as a bad time to expand…” When pressed for a reason, they report that they’re looking for the government to “chart an effective plan for strong, sustainable growth – or at least provide some rules so everyone knows how to play the game.”[2] The upshot to all of this, of course, is that hiring and job creation remain stagnant, capital spending remains at maintenance levels, wages generally remain frozen (or, worse, are declining), and so on. Until the headwinds of uncertainty let up, and until the effects of governmental indecision are better known, business owners will be treading water as they manage their day-to-day enterprises and scan the horizon for reasons to be optimistic.

[1] Source: NFIB Small Business Economic Trends – January, 2013

Francis Scott Key

[2] Source: http://casselsalpeter.com/in-the-news/dont-let-economic-uncertaintyprevent-business-decisions-for-2013/


“Everybody Counts or Nobody Counts” Don’t let adversity stop you! his phrase was used by novelist ied. Finally, she was told that there was uncer-

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Michael Connelly in “The Drop,” a novel featuring the work of fictional Los Angeles detective Heironymous (“Harry”) Bosch. While it served to explain the detective’s belief that all victims needed to be treated with the same priority, the phrase

In the face of incredible confusion, Pegg y began an exhaustive search for answers, first contacting the American Red Cross, then the International Red Cross, and then her Congressional Representatives seeking their assistance in unraveling the mystery. Her search continued for decades, with repeated contacts to her Representatives, most recently in 2005. applies equally to everyday life, and especially to the manner in which government bureaucrats sometimes treat our citizens. This is the story of Peggy Seale Harris, a quiet Texan, and the 62-year ordeal she suffered through after her husband gave his life for his country in World War II. Peggy and Billie were married in September 1943, six weeks before Billie’s Fighter Squadron was dispatched to Southeast England to fly missions over Nazi-occupied Northern France. For the next nine months, he executed between 60 and 100 missions and earned two Air Medals with 11 Oak Leaf Clusters as well as the Distinguished Flying Cross. By July of 1944, he had also earned the opportunity to come home to the United States, but fate intervened to prevent that. Billie wrote to Peggy on July 8 telling her he was coming home as soon as he could arrange transport. As circumstance would have it, though, he was again pressed into duty on a mission that ended in tragedy when his plane crashed near the small French town of Les Ventes. Here’s where the frustrating tale of miscommunication began, leading Peggy to more than 60 years of anxiety as she sought the truth. First, she was told that he was missing in action; then she was told he was on leave and coming home, and then she was told he was killed in action. Next she was given conflicting accounts of where his remains were bur-

tainty on exactly where Billie’s remains were. In the face of incredible confusion, Peggy began an exhaustive search for answers, first contacting the American Red Cross, then the International Red Cross, and then her Congressional Representatives seeking their assistance in unraveling the mystery. Her search continued for decades, with repeated contacts to her Representatives, most recently in 2005. She was assured by her Congressman that the National Archives still listed Billie as missing in action, when, in fact, Billie was listed as killed in action in the National Archives. In spite of this continuing miscommunication, she continued her search, now aided by Billie’s cousin Alton Harvey. Harvey began extensively researching Billie’s whereabouts, and his efforts paid off. He requested Billie’s military records and from there it was simple. He learned that there were some U.S. pilots buried in France, and that the files for these airmen had been released to the U.S. Department of the Army. Through these records, he finally tracked down Billie’s burial place, in the Normandy region of France, in Les Ventes. Despite the frustrations and anxiety, Peggy is not resentful, only satisfied that the mystery is solved. She is further consoled by learning that Billie is considered a hero to the townspeople of Les Ventes, since accounts of the 1944 crash reveal that he valiantly controlled his crippled plane long enough to miss the village, avoiding further casualties on the ground. And that is why, should you ever drive through the main road in Les Ventes, you will find it is named “Place Billie D. Harris,” a fitting tribute of the town’s esteem for a fallen hero. Everybody counts or nobody counts… a credo worth remembering.

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f you have attended a concert featuring the world-famous violinist Itzhak Perlman, then you are aware of the ritual that takes place before the start of the concert. Since he was stricken with polio as a child he has braces on both legs and walks with the aid of two crutches. To see him slowly and painfully walk across the stage is difficult to view, even though he walks majestically to his chair, sits down, put his crutches on the floor, releases the clasps on his legs, tucks a foot back and the other forward, picks up his violin, puts it under his chin and nods to the conductor to proceed. The audience has remained reverently silent. This ritual was repeated on Nov. 18, 1995 at an Avery Fisher Hall concert at Lincoln Center in New York City. But this time, something went wrong. Just as he finished playing a few bars of the music one of his strings broke with a sound like gunfire that resounded around the hall. There was a hush. The audience knew what he had to do—retrace the painful steps of his entry to get a new string or violin. But he did not move. Everyone realized he couldn’t play a symphonic score with just three strings. However, Itzhak Perlman didn’t! He signaled the conductor to continue and started playing with such passion and purity like never heard before. When he finished, there was a momentary silence. Then the audience rose and responded with a burst of cheers and applause in appreciation for a superior performance. Mr. Perlman rose from his chair to acknowledge the applause, raised his bow to quiet the audience and in a pensive and reverend tone said: “You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.” What a powerful thought. Perhaps this is the definition of life for all of us. While he made distinctive music with four strings on his violin, he made even more beautiful and inspiring music with the remaining three strings. You might say the moral of Mr. Perlman’s statement is: As we go through life and age saps our strength and agility, keep trying to fine tune and update our talents to meet life’s challenges and opportunities.


heard at the water cooler

Key Communication Skills Necessary For Success.

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don’t get it! I hear what the customers want, but I can never get it right! I can never satisfy them and frankly, they irritate me! What am I doing wrong?” Yes, it can be difficult to understand what your customers are asking and how to respond to help them and hopefully, close the sale. Effective communication involves many different skills to connect with your clients. Here are some key skills to develop and master: Communication begins with good eye contact and positive body language. “Smile and the world smiles with you” is effective when dealing with customers. Your body language will signal interest and warmth and help to begin building a good rapport with your customers, leading them in a positive direction. Active listening is a good way to ensure that you understand your customer and “get it right.” Active listening is a communication technique that requires you to give “feedback” to your customer on what you are hearing. Your customer will let you know if you are correct. In other words, you re-state or paraphrase what you think

your customer is saying and then you can clarify any misunderstandings. Smile at the customer, have good eye contact, and ask “How can I help.” Then you begin the process of active listening. By asking the customer “Did I understand you correctly?” or “ I share your frustration,” or “I know what you mean,” you are showing the customer that you are processing their statements and are on track with what they are saying. My wife and I were shopping for a car last year and we told the salesperson at the auto dealership that we needed to find an automobile that “fits” our different heights. We asked what car would solve our unique problem. Surprisingly, we never saw the inside of a car. We saw the inside of the sales office with questions on our financial history. The sales person never looked at us and never indicated that he heard us at all. After we repeated our request to look at a car with no action, we left. We bought our car at a dealership that had a salesperson that smiled, gave us good eye contact, and actively listened to our request. She

patriot’s corner

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hen at a fairly large conference in England, Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example of “empire building” by George Bush. He answered by saying, "Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return." His answer silenced the Archbishop.

then searched to find the car that would fit. We had a choice of three models and were pleased that all three solved our problem. Our sales person then asked how much we were willing to pay and found a car that fit our price range. When she “asked for the order,” we gladly complied. In fact, we referred several of our friends to that dealership! The customer service process begins with a smile, good eye contact, and actively listening to the customer. One sales rep didn’t listen and immediately did the financial qualification questionnaire, ignoring the customer’s desires. The other sales rep listened and understood what the customer wanted and gave them what they asked for. With a pleased customer, she was able to move the sales process towards a successful conclusion to the satisfaction of everyone, including her boss! The Secret to Success? Look, Listen, and Give the Customer What They Want. That is not news. It is just good sense.

How’s My Driving? Don’t worry; someone will let you know. continued from pg. 1

file.” In fact, Progressive and Allstate ads promoting use of the devices tout the potential for a 30% savings, while State Farm’s ads say “take control and receive discounts up to 50% (may vary by state) on your auto insurance.” So, discounts are great, but are there any downsides to the concept of telematics monitoring for drivers? Clearly there are obvious benefits, like more accurate matching of insurance premiums to risk, the potential for more attentive driving as motorists become sensitized to how their habits are measured, and lower premiums and deductibles for insureds. On the flipside, though, many consumers are concerned about privacy issues (that is, allowing insurers to compile data on how you drive), although some feedback indicates that consumers may feel the discounts are worth more than the loss of privacy. Another concern is that, over time, what initially is a discount will turn into a penalty for anyone not opting to use the technology. Insurance companies are, after all, for-profit enterprises. And one more… if the data tracks only the vehicle, what happens when there are multiple drivers? In any event, telematics will undoubtedly become a fixture in the automobile insurance world, and the pros and cons will likely shake out pretty quickly as more and more insurers offer the technology.

for more information on how to order the Good Sense Newsletter for your employees, visit: www.goodsensenews.com

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