This post is sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Dr. Michael R. Dicks is the director of veterinary economics at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and has, for the last three decades, advised groups around the world from the USDA to foreign governments on food and farm policy. Dr. Dicks sat down with us to discuss how the economics of the veterinary industry are changing and what the future holds.

Question: What is the role of economics in veterinary medicine?

Answer: The role of an economist is to define the problem, figure out strategies to address the problem and share potential consequences of those approaches. I want to give people information to help them make decisions; it’s not my role or the role of economics to make those decisions. In the veterinary field, the problem is excess capacity. Sources of this problem include the economy, prices, the increasing rate of new veterinary students and uneven distribution. (read more…)

More than 50,000 books are published per year on leadership — how to be an effective leader, how to grow into being a leader if you’re not one, what qualities constitute a good leader. And it’s not just books — there are websites, magazines, blogs, training seminars, not to mention graduate degrees from major universities.

The market for leadership development seems unlimited. Why? Because nearly everyone sees him or herself as a leader, or at least a potential one. Leadership seems to be the holy grail for which all business people should be striving. But what if there is another side to this coin? What if leadership is not always where your focus should be?

Here’s the nugget: You can’t be a leader unless you have willing followers. So you must follow first. You must learn to be a good follower. You need to see life from the trenches, understand the mindset of those you may one day lead. (read more…)

Your company has a shadow organization, whether you realize it or not.

That doesn’t mean that your company is running a spy collective worthy of the CIA. It means that your business has an unofficial set of relationships that influences how things are done in your organization.

Navigating these shadow organizations can be the difference between surviving and succeeding in the workplace. Here’s how you can find your way through:

1. Reframe “office politics.” Workplace surveys show that the majority of employees reluctantly engage in office politics, and nearly half of them believe it detracts from productivity. So how can you boost your career without engaging in dog-eat-dog politics? Start by reorienting your assumptions about what the term “office politics” means.

  • Replace the word “politics” with “awareness.”
  • Recognize that organizational awareness is all about communication and relationships.
  • Commit to using organizational awareness in a way that benefits everyone, not just you.
  • (read more…)

Todd VanderVen is President of BSI Group America Inc. Todd joined BSI in 2008 from SGS where he was Senior Vice President responsible for global strategy and development for all SGS divisions. Prior to this he held several senior positions at Eastman Kodak including COO for Kodak’s Healthcare business outside the U.S. and Chief Marketing Officer for their Healthcare Division.

In this post sponsored by BSI, Todd talks about the changing aerospace industry and how he plans to navigate the new trends.

Question: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the aerospace industry this year? Over the next 10 years?

Answer: Now and in the future, the aerospace industry will be continually challenged to manage all aspects of risk management, including risks in the supply chain. Information security, sustainability, counterfeiting, business continuity, conflict minerals are all areas of concern as well as instituting proper oversight and robust risk controls enterprise wide. (read more…)

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“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” — Jack Welch

The message didn’t really fit directly with the lesson that the professor was delivering. Perhaps that’s why I remember it most clearly from everything that he taught during that entire course.

In the late 1990s, I was taking a methodology class for teaching Social Studies at Roosevelt University in Schaumberg, Ill. The instructor did a wonderful job in helping his class understand the importance of making history come alive for students. We learned about engaging lessons with clear themes and plenty of opportunity for students’ creativity.

But where he really helped me as an educator was with a message that he shared following a conversation that he had with an executive at nearby Motorola. The topic of education had come up between the two men and the exec really laid into his professor friend. (read more…)