By Dr. David Dotlich on July 16th, 2014 | Comment on this post

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In February, CVS announced it would stop selling tobacco products, and take a $2 billion hit to the bottom line, because they were starkly at odds with the company’s core purpose of promoting customer health. Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, said in a news release, “Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do … to help people on their path to better health. Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

More recently, Starbucks unveiled the College Achievement Plan for any Starbucks employee that will cover some or all of the tuition for Arizona State University’s online degree programs. If only 3% of its workforce takes advantage of the program, then it could cost Starbucks $50 million annually. That may sound like a lot of money. But, Howard Schultz, the founder and CEO of Starbucks, told the press that the program would not only lower attrition, increase performance, and attract and retain talent, but it is also in alignment with Starbucks’ mission: to “inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” What inspires and nurtures the human spirit more than getting a good education?…

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By Kanoe Namahoe on July 16th, 2014 | Comment on this post

Hundred dollars bookmarkWhen it comes to money matters, American teens are just barely average, according to the latest PISA results. The good news, though, is that U.S. K-12 schools are gearing up to do something about it.

American teens have a lot to learn about finances and money management, according to a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The OECD report detailed the findings from the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, a triennial survey that measures literacy in reading, math, science, general problem solving and finances among 15-year-old students across the globe. The test evaluated students’ basic knowledge of financial concepts, issues and decisions, with 2012 being the first year it was included in PISA.

About 29,000 students from 18 countries participated in the financial literacy assessment. Top scorers included Shanghai-China, the Flemish Community of Belgium and Estonia. In the middle of the pack are Latvia, the United States and the Russian Federation.…

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By Mat Franken on July 16th, 2014 | Comment on this post

There was a time, not so long ago, when the produce department was little more than the no-nonsense spot at the food retail store to stock up on life’s greener essentials. Stroll through a grocery store today, and you’ll quickly discover the produce section has become a whole new ballgame. From croutons to nuts, fruit juices to fruit fly solutions, the number of products vying for highly coveted space in the produce department is growing. We’re not just comparing apples to oranges anymore, folks.

A recent study found that 92% of shoppers report fresh produce was the single most important factor when choosing a grocery store. Having secured prime real estate near the front of stores, the produce department is a high-traffic hot spot where consumers make their first stop and purchasing decisions. Those initial minutes perusing the produce section set the tone for the rest of the shopping experience.

Location, location, location

Once banished to the back of the store with hopes of encouraging impulse purchases, many modern groceries are taking a hint from the produce section, and beginning to relocate dairy cases to the front of their stores.…

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By on July 15th, 2014 | Comment on this post

E-commerce is an industry that seems to be in a constant state of growth, with emerging technology and the increasingly mobile consumer. You don’t have to be an industry expert to know that Amazon is the major player in the U.S. e-commerce industry, but with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s IPO and growth plans that include the U.S., online retail could face a shake-up.

Scot Wingo is the co-founder and CEO of e-commerce software firm ChannelAdvisor, and he also contributes to the industry through writing, speaking and connecting with e-retailers across the U.S. SmartBrief spoke with Wingo about Alibaba’s entrance into the U.S. e-commerce market and what that could mean for the future of the industry.

Can you talk a little bit about Alibaba’s expansion plans, particularly in the U.S.?

Alibaba has been very active in their recent U.S. investments:

First they acquired two eBay selling tool vendors back in 2010.…

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By Willy Steiner on July 15th, 2014 | Comment on this post

Adapted from Organizational Behavior, Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, John Wiley & Sons, 2000, pgs. 311-15

Power or Influence? This is an important question as we navigate through our careers. The two are often confused for one another so our first step is to define them. Here are my definitions:

  • Power: The ability to get others to do something you want done, and perhaps even to complete the task the way you want it done.
  • Influence: A behavioral response to the exercise of power; you demonstrate your influence when others comply with your requests.

If you are the CEO of a company, the governance structure of that organization gives you a substantial amount of power. Unless it is a smaller organization with no board of advisors or directors, that power has its limits, and that is a checks-and-balances system that protects the interests of the various groups of owners or investors.

But there is a lot of “juice” in the comments or directives of the CEO or [resident of most firms.…

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