A warm late December evening in Miami awaited the 163 passengers who traveled on Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 from New York to Florida. During the otherwise uneventful trip, marriage proposals were made, a young couple looked forward to introducing their newborn baby to awaiting grandparents, and college students headed back to school after the holidays. But in a few hours, over 100 of the passengers and crewmembers would be dead. The tragically simple cause of their death will not only shock you, but as the leader of your organization, will also provide a fair warning lesson in the problem of over-focusing on one issue or problem at the expense of other risks.

On Dec. 29, 1972, Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 left New York’s JFK Airport and was approaching Miami International Airport at approximately midnight, when the nose landing gear indicator did not illuminate. The pilots had to identify whether the landing gear had indeed failed to extend, or more likely, if the indicator bulb in the cockpit had simply burned out. (read more…)

“Are you a tough boss?” asked an interviewer of John L. Weinberg, senior partner and de facto CEO of Goldman Sachs. A former Marine, Weinberg was a blunt-speaking, unabashed, and self-driven man who knew that most of Goldman’s employees sought to work as hard and as wisely as he himself did. During the period of his leadership, Goldman furthered and consolidated its rapid ascent as a global banking powerhouse.

Weinberg answered the question without hesitation. “Oh, tough is easy. Anyone can be tough.” What is really difficult, he explained, was getting a group of workers to perform to their absolute utmost and in coordination with one another. He was right, of course. The challenge facing Weinberg, and many managers, involves establishing an environment in which an already ambitious crew can deliver their best efforts and have those best efforts most advantageously applied. In my years at Goldman, that was our focus — seeking out the most able and appropriate resources within the firm to find solutions for clients and opportunities in the markets. (read more…)

Let’s talk taxes, and you needn’t flinch. The subject doesn’t have to be all bad news, and isn’t.

There were some changes for the 2014 tax year that you should be aware of as you undertake your small business’ tax prep, some of which may well be to your advantage.

Here’s the good news:

  • The Affordable Care Act and the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit. This credit is now available to you if have 25 or fewer full-time (or full-time equivalent) employees, pay an average wage of less than $50,000 and cover at least half the cost of your employees’ health insurance premiums.
  • Last year, the maximum credit was 35% of any premiums you paid; it’s now 50%. The IRS provides plenty of information on the particulars, and here’s more about the ACA and your business.
  • Another piece of good news: the standard business mileage rate changed in the 2014 tax year to 56 cents a mile.
  • (read more…)

CEO’s are normally quick to hop on ideas, products, services, etc., that can and do yield favorable economic results. Yet, despite encouraging statistics showing its beneficial bottom line impacts, there has been little movement in most organizations to include diversity and inclusion as a strategic business priority.

A Harvard Business Review analysis of top-performing CEOs found a mere 5% of CEO’s whose organizations excel at both year over year financial performance and social and environmental dimensions. Study authors note that performing well on both elements is a rare but possible achievement.

The type of diversity these organizations practice — transcending both visible (race, age, gender, etc.) and invisible (thinking styles, values, beliefs, etc.) differences in pursuit of inclusive excellence — is wicked hard work. Work that requires a healthy appetite for disrupting the status quo.

CEOs and academics offer valuable insights into areas where organizations must change if they are to gain the positive benefits of diversity. (read more…)

Positioning their properties for the future, hoteliers are focusing on the next generation of business travelers: millennials. This generation—a group born between 1980 and 2000 that numbers about 77 million—characterized by their devotion to technology expect hotels to provide unique experiences and environments, and cater to their desire for an on-demand lifestyle.

A recent SmartBrief webinar, “The Guest Experience: Top Trends to Look for in 2015,” presented by The Wall Street Journal, explored several hotel trends including how hotels are adapting to millennials’ needs. Hotel executives from leading brands as well as hospitality research and market experts who shared their insights into the financial health of the industry and trends in supply that will affect it in the next year.

The webinar drew an engaged audience who submitted dozens of questions for the panelists. In the interest of keeping the conversation going, we followed up on one particularly good question about hotels and millennials: “How much is the ‘focus on millennials’ really more of an overall cultural shift for travelers to seek more authentic, connected and social travel experiences? (read more…)