Category Archives: Resources

Overtime Rules Update

The Department of Labor’s new Overtime Rules are causing a great deal of planning and decision-making very quickly, since employers need to comply by December 1, 2016 – just a few months from now.

These rules are predicted to cause 4.2 million employees nationwide to receive overtime pay who weren’t before, and to make it easier for 8.9 million people who already were eligible (but weren’t receiving overtime pay) to be fairly compensated.

One interesting note: this new salary threshold will not be static for several decades, like the last time it was set. Under this new regulation, the salary threshold will be reviewed and updated every 3 years.

Here is a handy collection of resources and responses.

The sources for these resources are from both the nonprofit community (MNCN website, which also includes several trainings) and the business community.

Here is the rule itself (with a video):   Extra Hours = Extra Pay

For further clarity, the US DOL issues some fact sheets to assist with implementation:

Brief Fact Sheet for the Non-Profit Sector

More Detailed Fact Sheet for Non-Profit Organizations and “white-collar” work including information on the duties test

Here is some additional information from AccountingWeb on these new rules.

And a variety of aspects from FastCompany:

 

There will be short-term adjustments and challenges, but we all do better when we all do better!
Further resources, helpful information welcome!

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Bookshelf Review: the Rise of the Naked Economy

In the ongoing re-organization called Life, I came across this book and skimmed/read it to make keep/discard decisions.

It’s in the ‘Keep’ pile, but only just barely; and only for the function of identifying fallacies and wishful thinking.

I found the facile tone and smudged glossiness of the imagery very off-putting.

This book described happily the new work reality, in which many of us are super-specialists, providing very highly polished skills to a perpetually delighted market.

Others of us are to be generalists _ also very crucial, we’re told_ filling in gaps and doing – you know – general things.

All the infrastructure and ‘normal’ trappings of work are to be discarded – offices, established work relationships and protocols, permanence of any kind. Except for managers perhaps  – they can have trappings. But none for the rest!

It mentions at the end a few minor glitches – health insurance (and other benefits), collections problems, taxation policies that burden entrepreneurs vs. customers.

So ok, in reality – those minor things are kind of major, and many unstated problems exist which vastly outweigh the benefits.

For one thing, earning enough money to live on as a freelancer is very difficult to do in conjunction with maintaining the skill sets and knowledge base of a specialist. Apparently these new roles come with some sort of time-turning magical device!

Most utilization of freelancers takes place within a mature, structured workplace; because of all the ways in which that structure is necessary. The main body of activity in ‘getting things done’ will always need to happen within a permanent structure. Large groups of people engaging in innovation or existing service provision require permanent physical locations, computer and telephone technologies, long-standing interpersonal relationships.

There won’t ever be a ‘flash mob’ of people who are able to come together all as strangers for a short period to get a new design from research through the marketplace etc..

The flicking-off of a small percentage of positions from employment to contractor status weakens the people in those positions, as well as the organization itself: whether the specifics are adjunct faculty or accounting contractors. A great deal is lost when functional responsibility is lost in the shuffle.

I strongly feel that this push will turn out to have been profoundly wrong-headed; beneficial to small sets of people who managed the provision of freelance service and also to the people making the outsourcing decisions – at least until enough time passes to make clear the full impact of those decisions.

Meanwhile, from day one all the way through until a more complete relationship is re-established, the person providing the service is under-compensated. Financially, and on the wider basis as far as ongoing stability and life-planning foundation and career-wise and so on.

So many building blocks of a solid future exist only within the employment relationship. To actually replace those for freelancers – sincerely and in good faith – would take much more generous monetary compensation as well as a range of other substantive realities that have not at all been even explored, much less implemented. The reality is that these relationships have not been in good faith, but have been part of the hollowing out of the middle-class.

These authors – Ryan Coonerty and Jeremy Neuner – are themselves not distanced observers, but directly within the paradigm they’re discussing – they are both involved with NextSpace, an early pioneer in the coworking model.  Which brings up another aspect of this book – it weaves present and future, concrete realities and wishful generalizations, coal and diamonds to such an extent it’s difficult to digest.

But coworking itself is fascinating, and a great environment for certain types of functions. For folks in social media for instance, I can see how it would be perfect. It has its downsides (one example set), and will have growing pains as it matures (real estate prices for instance). But as it solidifies it also becomes one of the ‘infrastructure’ pieces that it itself is replacing, reminiscent of the conclusion of Vonnegut’s ‘Player Piano’.

This book also suggest using free resources whenever possible as a freelancer, to support the no-overhead model. Those free resources are reminiscent of procurement-chain management, in which smaller business were replaced with corporate/global supplies. Both paradigms deprive small, locally-held businesses of needed volume, causing constricted decision-making and diminished futures. More evidence of the wrong-headedness of this model

“Fun to Read!” says the book jacket. Not always ‘Fun’ to live!

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Rankings – Twin Cities

List of high rankings recently for Twin Cities

(Note, given our inherent modesty, it’s excruciating to pull this all together, but in moments like these the struggle is part of the reward).

Two of America’s Top 12 Cities – BusinessWeek

Bike City – # 1 (Bicycling Magazine)

Bike-Friendly City – #2 – CNN

Best City Park System  – Trust for Public Land

Top Best Cities for Young Adults: # 10 (Forbes Real Estate)

#1 City our size for National Night Out participation

Travel & Leisure: High rankings for multiple aspects including intelligence and summer

Dog Friendly Cities # 10 – Estately

Forbes #23 best place for business and career

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Storify and Journalism: An Exploration (via Anna’s Cubby Hole: Ramblings of a Cub Reporter)

Interesting, have heard about this but not explored it yet. Thanks for the info!

Storify and Journalism: An Exploration It's a little embarrassing for a media/journalism junkie to admit, but I just discovered Storify this morning. I'm hoping to use it for future blog posts, but my first story will be an investigation of Storify's impact on media and journalistic potential. From what I can tell so far, Storify is an interactive tool for people to easily create stories using tweets, Facebook statuses and links. From their FAQ: Storify is a way to tell stories using … Read More

via Anna's Cubby Hole: Ramblings of a Cub Reporter

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Google + Notes: on Circles

So one of my buddies on Google + mentioned this TechCrunch article about the challenges facing Google + in terms of early adopters being all interested in the workings of Google + itself, and that conversation not being interesting to normal people, basically.
And that just heightened my focus on circles, which I’d been thinking about anyway.
If those conversations were kept in circles for those interested, and not put in the public stream, there wouldn’t be that issue. (Of course the article mentioned more aspects than just what people see in the streams, but that’s the part that’s relevant to this post. Great article though!)

But for me, I’m more likely to put those in my public stream, and put personal items in my personal stream – which a public viewer wouldn’t see. But then, a new user to FB today wouldn’t see private content very likely either, only as they get added to friends list would it get interesting.

Then that brings up another thing I’ve thought about Circles. I wish there could be circles of circles. Google + suggests that I have one circle for ‘Friends,’ one for ‘Family;’ yet as far as posting goes, they would both receive personal posts.

Circles defined by relationship don’t match circles defined by content of post — would need 2 sets of circles to accomplish that.

So I could make my circles about post-content (not caring if folks in personal group are friends or family), or could get all database-y about circles, with a content ‘header’ term and then a descriptive term, could at least the ones with similar content will be next to each other.
Like this:
Personal-Friends
Personal-Family
Personal-Work friends

The other thing would be if Google + lets you create post ‘groups’ of circles.. so I could have a posting group called ‘Personal’ which contained Friends and Family. And a posting group called Professional which included Social Media and Site Members, etc..

But I don’t see that. It looks like there are ‘extended circles’ which is like FB Friends of friends, but not a way to group a subset of your circles (friends and family) together.

The other thing about posting in this circle-specific way is that that choice itself becomes an aspect of the conversation. If I’m understanding how circles work, people are not aware of their circle-assignment. And they’re not aware of who else is in the circle they’re in. Those audience-identification aspects of the conversation are important for context though. They color the meaning of the communication, whether it’s personal communication or social media communication.

Without that context, is the message intact still? And the responses of folks in the circle – seems they might respond one way if they know they’re in a ‘friends’ group or a different way if they know their circle assignment is ‘acquaintances’.

I wonder if practices will evolve that will include id of the group w/n the message in some cases, or will include the specific response that would be appropriate/desired.

I’m modifying this as I go this morning, which is not optimal perhaps, but I want the content to end up as valid and true as possible! One thing I just realized – each post does have a header on it that has the time, and then also whether that post is ‘Public’ or ‘Limited’. So that adds a lot to this discussion.. Limited posts being indicated as such is a good starting point.

I’m toying with the idea of including something in my About message about special interest groups I have, for people to let me know of their interests. Especially since I’m including work content – social media, links to these blog posts here. Like, maybe I’ll have some really generic, Highly Interesting & Fun content of interest to all circles in my public stream, then not only personal content will be circle-specific, but also most social media content (I’ve obviously posted too many notes on Google + recently!), other work content etc.. would be circle-specific.

And then, being the way I am (verging dangerously close to TMI), I have folks in multiple circles. Thinking about it more (after original posting): it’s not so much like an email that they’d get multiple copies of, it’s an ability to perceive the content. So folks in multiple circles included in one message – I’m sure they just see it once. They’ve just received the ability to see it multiple times.

Hmmm, lots of interesting aspects to learn more about! I know there were groups and lists in FB, but I never used those. My impression is that most people used Groups, and everyone knew they were in that Group, cause they joined it in particular. Everyone is aware of group messages being for the group. So these being issues new to Google + Circles, that information not being available.

One Tip I just heard from comments on a post of Chris Brogan: two special circles you may want to establish are ‘bookmarks’ and ‘drafts’, and then have yourself only in those groups! For works-in-progress, items of interest, etc.. Another is, if you want to see what circles other people have used, type a few letters in the circle-naming box and other frequent choices will appear!

And from a post by Imad Naffa, one could hope that Google will make possible shared portions of two circles (venn diagram-like) and so forth, since those capacities exist in their regular search processes.

Also, circles can also be used as a viewing glass for your wall – you can look at posts only from people in this or that circle! Those posts you can see would be only the public ones of theirs, if they haven’t added you to any groups, or additional posts of theirs in the groups they added you to. As Mark Krynsky mentions at the end of this more-broad and excellent post, that won’t guarantee those posts are specific to that content, since most people post a variety of content. But it’s something.

PS I just have to say, love how the alert box (on the right top bar, shows red when there’s a comment) opens up to show the post itself being commented on, and lets you comment back right there, without having to scroll down to where the original comment was!

One more thing: Content from Google themselves on Circles!

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Google Plus: Content-rich snapshot of today’s information and reactions

from savvy early-adopters, via twitter! (see acknowledgements)

for a Google + invite, see this blog post from Nick LeRoy!

So, just over a week after the launch of this new super-suite of applications, and the response is intense! After seeing so many articles and blogs etc.. I decided to bring together the most useful bits I’ve seen, for the convenience of my readers.

For a quick, intense set of facts on Google +, here’s the Google+ 50 from Chris Brogan.

Google Plus – the new spectacular, all-in-one web-connection machine is kind of similar to Facebook and Twitter, is said to be possibly replacing both as well as Skype, yet is very different. It is intended for both personal and business use, and will soon have company ‘pages’ like Facebook. It provides an opportunity for you to interact with other pages (+1 them), similar to ‘like’ –ing them.

In referring to it, I’m using Google + and Google Plus interchangeably, mainly using Google Plus when it’s before some punctuation symbol that would look weird coming after a + symbol. Some also refer to it simply as ‘Plus’.

This fascinating article from Jay Baer (Convince & Convert) argues that Google + is the perfect fit for how our use of the web is now, because it’s not so much about whole pages as small bits of sharable content – posts and tweets and photos and whatnot. And that – having to do with popularity rankings and search processes, as well, Google + is perfect for both people’s personal use and business presences/interactions.

Besides these positive impressions, there are a few warnings. Or not so much warnings as things to be aware of. In particular, Google + is more like Twitter than Facebook in that the default is for everything to be public. You can restrict content to ‘circles’ of people, but if you don’t go out of your way to do that, it’s public. Similarly, your Google profile itself (that is at the core of Google +) is now required to be public for the minimal info (your name and gender). Other profile info can be private, but that data must be public as of a recent change.

The other thing-to-be-aware-of is in that same vein – privacy, or the lack of it. This article by NakedSecurity highlights all the policies that Google has instituted around privacy, that will especially come in to play with Google Plus (there are 37 all together).

Should you hurry up to get started with it as soon as possible? Well, one thing is, it’s in closed beta still to the general public, so you may not be able to.

Once the next phase comes, if you like being an early-adopter, if you have an active web community you often connect with, then probably yes. Sure, it will be there later on, but there is a lot of excitement about it and it looks like it’s worth the investment!

Be aware though – there are fake Google + invitations circulating at this point that are actually spam, containing only links to a pharmaceutical site!

Anyway, once you do get started, the web urls default for each person are long and cumbersome, so here is how to get a short ‘vanity’ url thanks to mobilelocalsocial.com.

For business owners, Google + shows definite promise of professional functionality, as ReadWriteWeb describes.

For businesses themselves, the site is not yet geared up for that, but according to searchengineland.com, ‘pages’ for businesses are coming very soon.

To get started, here is a video from ExploringSocialMedia taking you through all the steps involved (10 minutes). Also, here is an introduction from Google themselves. And here is a how-to guide written by early users of Google Plus. And here’s a list of tips.

By being an early adopter, you’ll join some pretty auspicious company. Here’s a list of power users put together by Steve Rubel, as of 7 days after launch!

So, lots more out there of course, but hopefully this is useful resource collection! All comments, tips, additional great resources welcome. I’ll review again in a bit then!

And don’t forget, for a Google + invite, see this blog post from Nick LeRoy!

Acknowledgements: These wonderful twitter folks provided the material in this post: @ipHouse, @steveruble, @rjfrasca, @spinsucks, @HaggbergConsult, @timoreilly, @brainpicker, @glenn_ferrell, @GOOGLE_INFOS, @NickLeRoy.

Also here is a site listing: exploringsocialmedia.bloomfire.com, ReadWriteWeb.com, TheNextWeb.com, NakedSecurity, MobileLocalSocial.com, ChrisBrogan.com, PCWorld, convinceandconvert.com, zulucreative.co.uk, NickLeRoy.com, Google.com.

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Accounting Journal: The Absence of Normal

This is the first of a series of notes I would like to write about issues facing the business world – through the lense of accounting.

There are some particular accounting specifics I’ll mention, but mainly these notes will cover ideas widely applicable to anyone in business.

Normalcy provides solid ground, a foundation for strategizing and taking action. For most of our careers, it was probably assumed to be present, like gravity. It permits shortcuts and abbreviations – both in writing and thinking.

These days though, as well all know, hardly anything is normal. There are obvious consequences of that which we all are aware of. They vary among us.

But I suggest it’s important to look beyond those immediate consequences, dig deeper, and uncover other ways in which your thoughts or practices are based on a situation – normalcy – which no longer exists.

We always limit our attention, according to what matters to us, what we want, what we don’t want. Those limits are based on prior experience and long-standing patterns. Now, all those past indications are much less relevant.

One big area is relationships – whether it’s co-worker’s, managers, customers, suppliers, competitors: in every case, taking anything for granted isn’t as valid. It needn’t take long, but checking in with the folks in the periphery of your day could inform you of situations you weren’t aware of. The highly-effective among us check in with a wide swath of people regularly all the time already, but many of us are normally more relaxed, and fall in to a rut. Time to reach beyond that are reconnect more widely.

It also is a good time to widen your circle of people as possible. Whatever important vendors you use – check out their competition. In case something changes with someone you rely on, you want to have beginnings of relationships already in place. Know who is the best among the rest of the folks. Know who would not be a good fit for you, no matter the circumstance.

If your business or organization has seasonal variations in your activities, and you normally prepare a certain way for that next season – try to check in more extensively and earlier before making those plans.

Your contingency planning – that one area that is already based on the absence of normal – even that can become outdated or lax. Review those assumptions. What if your alternate location itself was unavailable? Are the resources needed in that scenario readily available? Are your current staff and any important contractors all as familiar with your plans as they need to be?

Staff redundancy/cross training is always useful. In these days, even more important. The time-worn preference that employees have for making themselves invaluable to increase their power is really non-optimal for the company/organization. You want the ability to continue in any circumstance. You want all the necessary information from every employee/contractor necessary to have that ability.

In accounting land, I’ll just mention two areas of consideration very briefly. If you would like the longer version, please contact me.

In terms of accounting, there are relationships between the balance sheet and the income statement that are relatively stable. The balance sheet – a snapshot in time – contains the results of the income statement – which shows results of a period of time.

Balance sheet accounts – snapshot data – is supposed to be accurate at every interim point. Oftentimes the various accounts also vary in the extent to which that is true. Some accounts are really only accurate at year end, but the variations during the year are small enough that everyone is comfortable with that. Accrued vacation/pto payable and accrued salaries are two of those accounts.

If, however, your staff size and/or your programs/sales are changing, then you may want to reconsider.

Going about things the normal way when operations are shrinking can overstate your expenses during the year, and misstate the detail revenue/expense data to a degree that you might notice if you pay close attention to those things.

Accrued vacation – if you have a significant % of your staff leave, and they are taking PTO payouts, and they had a large amount of that pto already accrued at the beginning of the year – consider booking that payout to the liability account rather than the expense. That makes your expense this year smaller, and the balance sheet more accurate.

Accrued payroll is a more complicated consideration, for those of you with payroll period that don’t match the calendar months. It’s complicated because for you, accrued payroll – to be accurate – would be different every month, but nobody does that. Payroll is so important though that making any change from actual is a big deal. So again, please contact me if you’d like to know the rest of my spiel about that.

The accounting reality though – of the balance sheet / income statement relationship being complicated – is similar to many business realities.

It is similar to the ongoing differences we all have between how we want to be, and how we are. Our intentions and our actions. ‘Mind the Gap’.

During periods of rapid transition such as this one, that gap can change dimension and depth and have an impact on us unexpectedly. For that reason, it is useful to look more closely at these areas we normally ignore, to become aware of small shifts in time to respond effectively.

In this way there is more likelihood all of us coming through this transition period as optimally as possible.

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