Monday, August 29, 2011

What the...

Sitting in my office reading through summaries of bills making their way through the California legislature, I'm suddenly feeling like I'm about to channel my grandmother. Many a time in my youth, when we kids would pull a stunt that was stupid, or dangerous or both, Nana would lean out over the porch and holler "What in the Hell do you think you're doing out there?" That'll get your attention by golly!

Today, I want to holler that towards Sacramento. If only they were listening!

There remain (too) many job killer bills that continue working their way through committees in Sacramento that are stupid, or dangerous, or both. Instead of spending their time concentrating on creating private-sector jobs to help fix this lousy economy, they are writing nonsense bills that do nothing to spur job growth.

Take for instance AB 889 (Ammiano; D-San Francisco). If passed, this bill will require anyone hiring a domestic worker—including babysitters, yard maintenance crews and nannies—to provide a duty-free, 30-minute meal period at or before five hours of work and a 10-minute uninterrupted rest period at or before four hours of work.

Forgetting for a minute that the bill expands mandates to private homeowners that sophisticated businesses with professional human resources staff already struggle with, this bill does NOTHING to promote hiring in California. In fact, I can't imagine how you'd even enforce this. I don't know about you, but I'm not even home when my yard care crew shows up, so I've got absolutely no idea when they take a lunch break, let alone a rest period. If I was hiring a nanny, am I supposed to hire another nanny to watch the kid while the first nanny takes a meal period? Honestly?

While this bill is stalled for the remainder of this year, you can bet it will be back next year, and we'll be on the watch for it. This one falls squarely into the category of stupid.

Here are a few that cross over into dangerous from a job-creation point of view. We're continuing to follow, and strongly oppose, AB 22 (Mendoza; D-Artesia) that will limit an employers ability to use a consumer credit report when evaluating job applicants. We also strongly oppose AB 375 (Skinner; D-Berkely) that will increase Worker's Compensation costs for private and public hospitals by expanding injury presumptions.

AB 350 (Solario; D-Anaheim) requires subsequent contractors performing property services (cleaning, maintenance, cafeteria, etc) to hire the employees of the previous contractor when taking over a new property. This bill is headed to the Senate Floor, and we continue to oppose it. You should, too. This bill puts State government squarely into the realm of mandating who private business must hire.

The State legislature has clearly taken their eye off the ball when it comes to turning this economy around. While the private sector struggles to find ways to survive this economy, they continue to build roadblocks in the form of nonsensical regulations. It's time to STOP!

Here's an idea for any legislator considering writing a new bill, or supporting most of what's currently on the table. If it doesn't make it easier to create jobs in the private sector, JUST SAY NO. Stop wasting your time and our money. Get back to work on what matters, and what matters to everyone right now are jobs, plain and simple.

So, because it appears you folks in Sacramento haven't been listening lately, let us put it into grandmother terms for ya.

All together now...."What in the Hell do you think you're doing out there?"

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Blonde Days of Summer

Some days I'm wise to just let it all go and embrace my 'Inner Blondeness'. Now before anybody flies off the handle and calls me a hair-racist, let me explain.

For me, embracing my Blondeness has nothing whatsoever to do with hair color or even (gasp) intelligence. It's all about adopting a level of calm focus vs. my normal, frantic, control-freak overload. When I decide to have a Blonde day, I stop spending time worrying about things I cannot control (politics, the crazy ride on the stock market, teenage daughters on road trips) and focus all my energy on activities that can move my business plan forward and make my home life (read: husband) happier.

On Blonde days, I'm a lot more productive because I do just let it all go, take the pressure off of myself to fix every-single-little-thing that isn't perfect and just do what needs doing. I encourage everyone to try it sometime. Clearly this frame of mind has nothing at all to do with hair color, it's just that...a frame of mind. I could just as easily call it a Focus day, a Production day or a Flat-Heeled Shoe day. Whatever works.

What always puts me in the proper mood for one of these days is recalling a bit of history from Great Britain during the early days of WWII. The British Ministry of Information created a series of public messages intended to build morale and quiet the fears of British citizens facing the real possibility of enemy invasion. It was a terrifying, unprecedented time and the future was uncertain.

You could actually draw some parallels between what those folks were feeling and how many American business leaders feel in today's turbulent times. Certainly we don't have to worry about actual bombs dropping on our heads, but the metaphorical bombs from an unstable economy, high unemployment and low consumer confidence can be truly scary, too.

So what was the message that kept the British going in those dark days? It was simple, it was straightforward and it remains as strong and positive today as it was then.

"Keep Calm and Carry On". That's it..."Keep Calm and Carry On".

I'd be willing to bet that the businesses that have survived and thrived over the last 50 years or more have adopted this strategy in one way or the other. Somehow through the ups-and-downs of past economies, natural and man-made disasters, world conflicts and personal tragedies, these business leaders decided to keep calm and carry on.

If it worked for them, it can work for me, and for you.

In the coming weeks I plan to reach out to several of the successful companies that have survived and thrived locally for 50 years or more. I want to discover those strategic gems that carried them through tough times, the unforeseen landmines that forced them to step back, and ultimately the inner passion that keeps them moving forward in the face of adversity. In other words, how do they keep calm and carry on?

I plan to start with Fanno Saw Works, a family owned business spanning four generations that will be celebrating 90 years of success in Chico this year. 90 YEARS! I'm excited to hear their story and to share it with you. So keep checking back...

and in the meantime...embrace your own inner Blondeness while you Keep Calm and Carry On.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What's in a Legacy?

How much time do we waste worrying about our personal legacy? Likely too much. If we are making life decisions based on what other people will think about us 50 years from now, we are likely missing opportunities to do something great. It seems to me that if we just do the right thing, day-in-and-day-out the whole legacy thing will take care of itself. Trying too hard to steer it can take you pretty far off the right road.

That's not to say that legacy's aren't important. They are from the standpoint that they set an example for others to follow. Mother Teresa's legacy will bring positive change in the lives of millions of people she's never met over the course of human history. Lindsay Lohan's...not so much.

So if you're doing the right thing personally and professionally, your legacy will take care of itself.

It struck me like a baseball bat upside my thick skull last week, the Chamber of Commerce enjoys a partnership with many local businesses that spans DECADES! Let's call them "Legacy Members". I am absolutely humbled by the hundred businesses that have partnered with the Chamber of Commerce longer than 20 years, scores that have been with us for over 30 years, nearly a dozen that have belonged for over 50 years, and more than a handful that have been partnered with the Chamber for over 70 years! SEVENTY YEARS!

The Office of the President of CSU-Chico has been a registered member of the Chamber of Commerce for over 80 years.

The length of time these businesses have partnered with the Chamber is, in itself, not a legacy. The legacy is present in the decades of success these organizations enjoyed. The owners of Northern Star Mills, Shubert's Ice Cream, JC Penney and Peters, Rush, Habib & McKenna, along with many others, have been serving this community for over 70 years and all of that time they have partnered with the Chamber. Why?

I honestly don't believe its because they love Thursday Night Mixers and Ribbon Cuttings, although those are certainly fun and entertaining. I think its because they see the value in the important advocacy work of the Chamber of Commerce. I'd also bet my last 5 cents that they do it because they want to support the rest of the business community. Perhaps, simply put, they know its the right thing to do.

So think about it. Successful longevity in business and a partnership with the Chamber of Commerce. Coincidence? I think not...