March 5, 2013
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I was interested in a headline that read "Retail sales slow due to payroll tax increase." There were, in other publications, headlines that had exactly the opposite view stating that despite the re-instatement of the payroll tax deductions the retail numbers had not changed all that much. Well, I'm not going to weigh in on either side at this point because the numbers take time to settle and because who knows, really, what is cause and effect and only correlation? Here's what I do know. I watched carefully and nobody had rousing headlines thanking the politicians for cutting the tax in the first place. There were only complaining headlines about how Social Security was under funded and so why give a payroll deduction holiday? But there are now lots of complaints when things revert back to where they were before the stimulus package. Go figure.
Our friends over at ITR state that "A shallow, but positive, leading indicator amplitude indicates the US economy will neither fall into recession, nor experience robust growth through late 2013. This agrees with our US Industrial Production outlook of moderate 3.0% growth this year." So, if you're one to try and plan for the economy's impact on your business, the word seems to be slow but continued growth for 2013 - plan accordingly.
And here's what the WSJ/Vistage Small Business confidence index is showing:
- The Confidence Index was 101.4 in February 2013, up from 94.2 in January, and well above the recent low of 83.9 recorded three months ago.
- 35% of small firms expect the economy to improve this year, up from 26% a month ago, and 20% three months ago.
- Nearly two-thirds of all small firms reported that tax credits and deductions had at least a moderate influence on how they operate their businesses.
- Nearly nine in ten small firms hire an outside accountant to prepare their business taxes.
Nearly half of small firms report that they had been audited at least once.
You can view the full results, and see information from previous months, at: http://www.vistageindex.com.
Nate Silver made a name for himself in several places. Lately it has been in the area of political predictions. Silver is what I call a "quant." He's a mathematician and someone who truly looks into and understands data. His book, The Signal and The Noise is definitely a good read and one that any of us relying on data, information and opinion should read. My review of his book is the first article below.
The second article, No Trust, was inspired by the latest round of "off the wall" rhetoric filling the airwaves, printed mater and blog-o-sphere around the sequester situation. It reminded me that things are really dire in the "trust" department and the cynicism that abounds in our country is affecting business. We ignore the changes at our own peril.
I read a lot of blogs from other coaches and leaders. This month, I decided to highlight a post from a good friend and mentor, Dwight Frindt. So the third article space is devoted to him and I hope you will follow him in the future.
Finally, in the Nullius in verba column, I allow myself to go on a bit of a rant! One of the things that I find enjoyable while I'm out jogging is being in the open air, being able to greet other pedestrians along the way and to occasionally dip into the wooded areas in our neighborhood. Yet recently, that closeness was a bit ruined by noise, litter and a sense that many of us are forgetting to take care of the common spaces we share.
I hope you find something useful in this month's offering. Enjoy!
CCE-Board Certified Coach
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The Signal and The Noise
Why so many predictions fail - but some don't
Ever wonder why economists, in general, seem to always "get it wrong?" Did the thought cross your mind that they seem not to be improving in their economic forecasting but get lucky once in awhile? How about the national weather forecasters - they seem to be definitely improving even though they drive us crazy showing us storm landfall models and giving us "percent chance of precipitation" numbers. Ever wonder how reasonable people can look at exactly the same data and come up with conclusions 180 degrees apart? The answers to these and many more questions are in Nathaniel Read (Nate) Silver's excellent book, The Signal and The Noise.
Silver introduces us to Bayes's theorem. He does so in his now familiar comfortable style which allows those readers who are not also math wizards to understand the practical use of this probabilistic formulation. What's important to understand is that Bayes theorem requires that we take new information and initial conditions (prior beliefs) into account so that we continuously improve the forecast or prediction. This is something that, regrettably, many of us do not do. "Bayes’s theorem requires us to state— explicitly— how likely we believe an event is to occur before we begin to weigh the evidence. It calls this estimate a prior belief."
Read the full review . . .
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No significant business transactions happen without trust
At the time I write this blog post, there is a great deal of "stuff" being thrown into the air, inked into headlines and typed into cyberspace about the so-called sequestration. This man-made "disaster" is, depending on who you listen too, just what we need to at least begin to get our fiscal house in order, or an unmitigated disaster that will be ruinous for many folks still suffering from the last recession and will throw our country into yet another recession. Most of the thoughtful people I know are paying little to no attention. The stock market all but yawned. It's not news, but it seems that nobody I know believes the rhetoric on either side of this argument. There is no trust. It's just rhetoric that the talking heads and pundits have long ago trained us to take with a whole bag of salt.
Read full post . . .
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Are You Overwhelmed By Circumstances?
“He has come to realize that the tyranny of the urgent is a false calling for one’s life.” -Paul Heagen. Guest post by
- Dwight Frindt at 2130 Partners
Ever increasing volumes of information, (accurate, conflicting, and false), the constant barrage of shrill rhetoric, and the absence of visibility of where things are headed are the order of the day. Recently, a small group of my Vistage members discussed the subject and not surprisingly, words like doubt, fear, and fatigue popped out quickly as the participants shared.
Some preferred to spend more time on sorting out what might be reliable data, some suggested paying closer attention to one’s spiritual traditions and connection, and several pointed to their Vistage Group membership as a place to connect and find sanity. All these approaches met with consensus.
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Nullius in verba
The Curmudgeon - Rant warning!
My day didn't start out to be this way. Being a curmudgeon is definitely not my normal mind set. Actually, the day began with gratitude. Mimi’s Cafe has a location close by my home. I use it, from time to time, to meet folks I’m mentoring since I work out of my home office. It’s a good place to meet except that it is generally a bit noisy (like most restaurants) and their WiFi never works. So I was surprised and very pleased when I met a client for an early breakfast meeting and about twenty minutes into the conversation I became aware of two things – first, the WiFi was actually working and so I could look up an article url to refer to him and the second was the sound of silence. No music blaring! So when the waiter stopped by to refill our coffee cups, I went out of my way to tell him that I’d noticed the WiFi and the “quiet.” His face lit up and he said, “We’ve noticed that many of our breakfast customers are here working and meeting with others. So we are trying to make it more pleasant for them to do that.” On the way out, I spotted the manager and told her how much I appreciated the “new” environment. She too was all smiles and told me the same story as her waiter. Thank you Mimi’s. But, for me, things went downhill from there.
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