Lisa was super-friendly and always eager to serve me. She was one of the main reasons I parked my car every week at the off-airport parking facility where she worked. Arriving at Acme Executive Parking, I would pull into the facility and Lisa would be the driver who always rode with me to the terminal. After I got out and retrieved my luggage, she would give me a ticket and then drive my slick-looking sports car back to the lot to park.

As a full-service parking facility, Acme could also wash my car, gas it up or change my oil while I was away. When I landed at the end of the week, I called the phone number on the ticket and someone (usually Lisa) would come to the terminal in my car to transport me back to the parking facility to settle my debt. Since I parked there 40 out of 52 weeks and frequently had other services done to my car, I was what you might call a premium customer.…

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Engagement. Commitment. Morale. Satisfaction. Meaning. Happiness.

A lot of terms get kicked around in the human resources field and the so-called “employee engagement” industry to describe the worker attitudes they are trying to attain. Which of these terms is the right objective has lately become a debate.

“The idea of trying to make people happy at work is terrible,” Gallup CEO Jim Clifton told Fast Company last fall. “Measuring workers’ satisfaction or happiness levels is just not enough to retain star performers and build a successful business,” he wrote on his company’s website. Businesses need their employees “engaged,” he argues.

Pick any two of the terms above, and it’s possible to find a consultant who is against one and in favor of the other, although the main debate has centered on “engagement” versus “happiness.” The arguments will continue fruitlessly until there is, first, better agreement on the meanings of the terms and, second, a better appreciation of the bargain employees make with their employers.…

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Dimitris Politopoulos and his team heard their mobile phones ringing as soon as they turned them back on after landing in New York City for the Sunday start of the Summer Fancy Food Show, with calls of concern about the growing economic turmoil back home. The CEO of 776 Deluxe Foods, a producer of olives, oils and honey spreads, joined executives from a long list of other Greek food companies that filled more than three aisles of the trade show’s floor, making connections with the distributors and retailers with the power to help them start or expand their exporting efforts in the U.S.

Many of the companies at the Summer Fancy Food Show already export to the U.S., as well as Europe, Canada and Australia, and those international deals grow more critical as the economic turmoil at home continues. On Tuesday, Greece officially defaulted on a $1.7 billion loan payment to the International Monetary Fund, and on Sunday the citizens will vote on a referendum on whether to remain part of the Eurozone.…

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Education-badge-blue2The vast majority of us now work in environments where the ability to learn is more critical than what we know and where the most valuable currency is influence, not power. — Liz Wiseman, Rookie Smarts

The education landscape has shifted dramatically during the last 10 years. Tablets have replaced textbooks. Students use smartphones during class — for learning. Educators connect online to share best practices.

What does the next decade hold for education? What will become the future of schools? Educator and author Will Richardson took on the topic during his ISTE 2015 session, Tech in 10: Effective Teaching for the Next Decade.

“‘Knowledge’ isn’t the word any longer. ‘Skills’ is no longer the term. ‘Learning’ is the word,” Richardson said, noting that the jobs of tomorrow will require serial mastery. “If our kids don’t have the ability to learn, it really doesn’t matter how much knowledge we give them.”

“This is a very different world that our kids are stepping into,” he said.…

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Sadly, late last month we learned of the sudden death of Ed Gilligan, president of American Express. Gilligan spent his entire business career at American Express and was considered the likely successor to CEO Ken Chenault.

Also last month, David Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey and husband of Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, died unexpectedly when he fell while exercising on a treadmill in Mexico.

These tragedies are unquestionably and, thankfully, infrequent. Nevertheless, they are a reality and remind us that planning for casualty is a necessity both for families as well as the businesses and organizations we all inhabit.

Planning can take many forms, but within the context of businesses, it is succession planning that should take center stage. Who is next in line for a role? Jack Welch, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric, was a proponent of succession planning, and GE is often looked upon as the standard by which succession planning should be practiced.…

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