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Producers

A Looming Crisis — & a Call for Solutions

May 6th, 2013 // 3:51 pm @

Most Americans have no ideas it is coming. But it is just around the corner.

It’s one of those technical changes that only wonks pay attention to, so few people realize how big this will be.

In fact, it’s a serious crisis in the making. And unlike the Y2K scare in 1999, this crisis is a sure thing.

What is it?

Well, put simply, this coming January, many companies will be required to extend Obamacare health care to their employees.

The costs of this are significant, and will force many small and larger businesses to make some very tough choices.

The result will be a lot of layoffs, downsizing, reduced pay, and outsourcing.

Service will suffer, and response times will plummet.

Most families and individuals plan on a yearly basis, running January 1 to December 31, so they may not know how that a lot of businesses run on a fiscal year—from April 1 to April 1, July 1 to July 1, or October 1 to October 1.

This is very important, because we just witnessed the first big round of businesses (whose fiscal year is April to April) factoring in the costs of the January 2014 Obamacare requirements.

The number of layoffs and cuts is a serious concern.

But those who run April to April have only had to factor in three months of Obamacare costs so far, so the damage has been minimal.

It’s going to get increasingly worse on July 1, and then by October 1 it will start having a major impact.

By the first of January, when everyone will have to pay the higher costs, the effect will be huge.

Again, because this is a numerical concern, most people aren’t paying attention. Here’s the crux of the problem:

  • Our economy is already struggling with a weak recovery.
  • The increasing tax and regulatory burden on business has dampened innovation.
  • The schools seldom teach innovation or initiative—indeed they usually promote the opposite.
  • International innovation is rising.
  • Business is reticent to invest or spend, because the current environment in Washington is highly uncertain.
  • Big business, which has a high surplus right now, is finding better political environments in other nations—so the money will naturally flow to where business is treated better.
  • The Obamacare requirements are making business a lot more costly, and they mostly kick in this coming January.

A lot of businesses are scrambling.

For example, in the past few months I’ve received email from a number of friends who are business owners or who consult with small businesses—saying that their only choice is to either lay off a lot of employees or shut down their business.

One company, for example, is trying to prepare for next year, but has realized that the additional cost of Obamacare for their firm will be at least $18,000 a month.

This is a fairly small company, with close ties to its people.

The last thing it wants to do is lay off employees. But what to do? The costs are simply prohibitive.

Laying off is the obvious option; and after digging deeper, it may be the only option.

How would you counsel companies in this predicament? (Note that most companies are dealing with this right now.) What ideas do you have? I’m sincerely asking for input.

What can they do?

Thousands of companies are asking the same thing right now, and many others will do so before the end of 2013.

This is going to be a real shock to the economy.

A crisis is coming.

But back to the question. How can small companies that are already financially tight comply with the new regulations—without laying off or cutting salaries?

I’m hoping you see some real solutions.

The obvious one is to innovate—to expand sales into new markets and make a lot of extra cash.

The regulatory challenges of such a strategy are, alas, a serious problem. At least in the United States.

So, thinking like an owner, what would you do?

I know you don’t have financials or details in front of you for any one company facing this challenge, but take a stab at this problem anyway—because almost all businesses are doing the same thing right now. It’s the only realistic way to look at Obamacare, because it’s the way pretty much every business owner is looking at it.

Specifically: Costs are going up significantly, with no offsetting increases in income.

In fact, higher taxes and increased regulations make growth even more difficult.

In this environment, how can you absorb the Obamacare costs without laying off a bunch of employees?

Or letting them go and hiring all new people who are desperate for jobs and will work for much lower pay?

Or simply taking your business to Brazil or India or some other country where growth is actually rewarded?

Please send me your responses. What can be done?

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odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is the chairman of the Center for Social Leadership and co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

Category : Blog &Economics &Entrepreneurship &Featured &Government &Leadership &Producers &Prosperity

Why We Need a Third Party

November 17th, 2012 // 10:36 am @

by Oliver DeMille

In the aftermath of the 2012 election, there have been numerous emails, posts, articles and blogs by business owners who say they are planning to sell or close their businesses, or just lay off enough workers that they can afford Obamacare for the employees who remain.

One summary listed the following announced layoffs—all attempts to deal with the new costs of Obamacare:

  • Welch Allyn, 275 layoffs
  • Stryker, 1170 layoffs
  • Boston Scientific, between 1200 and 1400 layoffs
  • Medtronic, 1000 layoffs
  • Smith and Nephew, 770 layoffs
  • Hill Rom, 200 layoffs
  • Kinetic Concepts, 427 layoffs
  • Coviden, 595 layoffs
  • Abbot Labs, 427 layoffs
  • St. June Medical, 300 layoffs

There are many, many others.

One email dated November 7, the day after the election, read:

“Time to sell our business. We can no longer afford to provide a living for 14 employees as soon we’re forced to pay for their healthcare. So sad, too bad. On to new ventures.”

After responses about how sad this is and others pointedly blaming the Obama Administration, the same person continued:

“We are all Americans and need to find common ground and make this country great together. I’m not mad at anyone for voting different than me. They love their president, don’t lose friends over calling him a dictator. I’m excited to sell our business. We are adventurous!”

That’s the entrepreneurial spirit that made America great.

Not: “Oh no, we’re losing our job. Will the government help us?”

But rather: “Hey, change happens. We’re excited. This is going to be an adventure!”

That’s the American spirit.

And while rumors abound about how much Obamacare will cost each small business and which won’t have to make any changes at all, there are a lot of employers right now who are very concerned.

Those with under 50 employees aren’t supposed to be hurt, but smaller employers are still worried about exactly how the new laws will be enforced.

Sadly, we will likely see a lot of change in small business in the months and years just ahead.

More regulation, higher taxes and drastically increased costs of employing people will make things more difficult.

An exception may be in network marketing companies or compensated communities.

I’ve long considered them among the top entrepreneurial opportunities in free nations, and with the current changes and policies this is even more true.

“My son is a doctor,” Marge said proudly.

“Wow,” Betty said with a concerned voice. “How is your son dealing with the new regulations coming into effect under Obamacare?” she asked.

Marge nodded and her face grew serious. “He’s very concerned, to tell the truth.”

“Fortunately, my son is building a huge network marketing company, and the regulations aren’t hurting him much,” Betty said. “Maybe your son would like to meet with mine about an opportunity?”

This kind of conversation is taking place a lot right now, and all indications are that it will increase.

Some parents are recommending that their college children put school on hold and start a network business, and I know two medical doctors who have gotten out of the profession in order to build networking businesses.

One of them talked two of his sons into quitting college and doing the same, though the three of them all ended up building networking organizations with entirely different companies.

 

II. The Party of Small Business

All of this got me thinking today, and as I pondered I realized something. Something big.

Something we really need right now in America.

We need a third party.

Actually, we need a new party that becomes more popular than the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.

There are more independents than members of either big party, so this shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

Here’s the problem: The Democratic Party is now the unabashed party of big government, the welfare state, rule from Washington D.C., and everything that goes with these values.

The Republican Party touts itself as the party of freedom, limited government, free markets and business, but in fact it is the party of big business and a big-spending government at the same or just slightly lower levels than Democrats.

We have a party of Big Government (with big business as its co-pilot), and another party that emphasizes Big Business (with big government as its co-pilot).

The first is the Democratic Party, the second the GOP.

Neither is now effectively serving the needs of our nation.

As a result, we get bigger government regardless of who gets elected, and big business grows (to the frequent detriment of small businesses) regardless of who is in power in Washington.

In all of this, small businesses, families, communities and the middle class are the losers.

The solution? We need a party of small business.

We need a party whose top priority is the needs of families and small businesses.

This new party needs to reject the big-government and anti-free enterprise values of the Democrats and simultaneously the big-business and anti-immigrant attitudes of Republicans.

It needs to embrace toleration, diversity, reduced government regulations, lower taxes, decreased government spending, incentives for entrepreneurship, a charitable safety net, and incentives for more immigrants to bring their capital, businesses, labor and families to America.

It needs to get rid of the barriers to hiring (such as the increasing required health care costs) and drastically reduce government red tape for small businesses.

It needs to allow more innovation, shrink requirements on licenses and permits and other unnecessary costs that decrease entrepreneurship and growth, and create an environment of seamless partnerships between schools and businesses.

It needs to promote, encourage and incentive a lot more initiative, innovation and entrepreneurialism.

It also needs to push for more creative and independent thinking in the schools and less that is rote, conveyor-belt, and pre-scripted.

It should change the way schools are run, replacing an environment where administrators and bureaucrats feel comfortable to one led by proven innovators and others who have been successful in the real economy, the FOR-profit economy.

Forget teacher certification and unions—if we want to compete in the global economy we need innovators leading our classrooms.

As an example, principals and teachers should be hired who have excelled at implementing successful business plans rather than writing resumes.

And funding should flow to schools that excel in a true free market.

To ensure to that no child is left behind (for example in less-advantaged neighborhoods), even larger premiums should go to innovators who successfully turn dumpy schools into flourishing institutions whose graduates thrive.

The new party should apply similar principles to other kinds of organizations, from health care and community governments to every other sector of the economy.

Small businesses bring the large majority of growth in the economy, and the new party needs to begin with the specific needs of small businesses in mind.

It needs to identify things that hurt small business and repeal them, and find out what helps small businesses succeed and introduce more policies that encourage these things.

It needs to rewrite the commercial and legal code to create an environment where innovation is the norm, along with the values of growth, calculated risk, leadership, creativity, and entrepreneurialism.

It needs to be not the party of jobs, but the party of successful business ownership—and the jobs they naturally create.

 

III. A Bright Future?

We need a third party. The party of Big Government (with big business as co-pilot) and the party of Big Business (with big government as co-pilot) simply aren’t doing what our nation needs anymore.

It’s time for new thinking and new leadership.

There is an old saying that you can’t pour new wine into old bottles, because the residue of past wine always taints the new.

This is where we are in America.

The current parties, as much good as both have done at times, have peaked and are in decline.

New leadership is needed, along new values untainted by the baggage of two parties whose time has come and gone.

It is perhaps possible to reform one of the parties to get better results, but it is likely that only a new party with an entirely new focus and fresh thinking is going to take America where it needs to go.

Democratic nations are notorious for refusing to change until crisis forces their hand, and I suspect this is what we’ll witness in the 21st Century.

At some point, probably after major crisis and a superhuman American response, we’re going to need a new party.

Those who love freedom should start thinking about what it should look like.

One thing is clear: When it does come, it needs to be a party of small business.

Free enterprise and the entrepreneurial spirit made America great, and it will do so again if we let it.

Whatever comes in the economy, we want to be led by those whose attitude is, “It might sound bad, but this is an exciting adventure! Let’s get started…”

 

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odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is the chairman of the Center for Social Leadership and co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

Category : Blog &Business &Citizenship &Community &Constitution &Culture &Current Events &Economics &Entrepreneurship &Family &Featured &Government &Independents &Leadership &Liberty &Mission &Politics &Producers &Prosperity &Statesmanship

Resolve to read this book.

February 25th, 2012 // 8:37 am @

A review of Orrin Woodward’s game-changing new book, Resolved: 13 Resolutions for LIFE

by Oliver DeMille

The freedom of any society is directly related to the quality of books that are widely read in that society. That said, there are some books everyone should read, like The Federalist Papers and Democracy in America.* And in a society like ours where we are desperate for more leaders at all levels, truly excellent books on leadership are vital to the future of freedom.

I recently read a book on leadership that everyone simply must read. It is Resolved, by Orrin Woodward.

I’ve read Woodward’s books before, so when this one arrived in the mail I put away everything else and read it straight through. It kept me up most of the night, and it was so worth it!

This is a fabulous book on leadership. It outlines 13 resolutions every person should make in our modern world, and gives specific helps on how to turn them into habits. Indeed, this book could be titled The 13 Habits of Success and Happiness for Everyone. The stories and examples from great leaders of history and current events are moving and uplifting. I literally have never read a better book on leadership than this one.

Woodward’s book is on par with the great leadership works like:

It is truly a revolution in leadership books.

The 13 resolutions are exactly what we need leaders to adopt across our society. They are applicable to family and home leadership, community and business leadership, and societal and national leadership. They apply to the United States and other countries, and together they form a blueprint for renewing America and innovating a new and better Western Civilization.

The book is divided into three parts: private resolutions, public resolutions and leadership resolutions. Each of the 13 resolutions build upon each other, and together they create an effective and motivating system of becoming a better person and leader. They help the reader improve in career and in societal impact.

This focus on societal leadership is both timely and profound. In the 1950s we experienced a major “leader-shift” in society. Before World War II, most communities were led by professionals—doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants, etc.—and before that by big landowners and even earlier tribal chiefs. The management revolution started by Edward Deming and popularized by Ray Kroc changed the focus of leading society from professionals to managers. This was captured in William Whyte’s great 1956 classic The Organization Man.

By the 1980s another major leader-shift occurred, this time from management (“do things right”) to leadership (“do the right things”). The great transitional classic of this shift was The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. It outlined 7 habits that leaders needed in order to help their companies excel, and these habits became part of the mainstream language: for example, “Be Proactive,” “Think Win-Win,” and “Synergize.” Another great classic of this shift was Synergetics by Buckminster Fuller. The leadership revolution brought a whole new vision of what is means to be a leader.

Today we are witnessing a similar leader-shift, this time from leadership of organizations (“do the right things”) to leadership of society (“move society in the right direction”). Woodward’s Resolved is a seminal classic in this change. In fact, some of the early books in this change include Launching a Leadership Revolution by Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady, The 8th Habit by Stephen Covey, and Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman.

Woodward is more than an author; he has actually put these 13 resolutions to work in his business leadership. For this leadership, Orrin Woodward was named the 2011 International Association of Business’s Top Leader of the Year Award. His book Resolved outlines how we can all become such leaders.

In Resolved, Woodward shares a host of ideas and effective means of using family, business and societal leadership to impact the world. For example, he shows how Gibbon and Toynbee taught the laws of decline that are now attacking our culture and modern free nations.

He shows the three types of freedom and why they depend on each other—and how the loss of one is actually a loss of all. He helps leaders understand how freedom and character are inseparable and at the root of all societal progress and therefore leadership. His model of “Leadership Legacy” alone is worth the price of the book, and adds a whole new dimension to leadership literature.

Woodward adds several other new models to the leadership genre. He shows how five important laws from science, economics and history (Sturgeon’s Law, Bastiat’s “Law,” Gresham’s Law, the Law of Diminishing Returns, and the Law of Inertia) are combing in our current world, and what leaders need to understand and do about these five laws—individually and collectively.

These five laws are already part of our mainstream culture, but the analysis of how they are working together and what future leaders must do about it is new, deep and profound. No leader can afford not to understand this cutting-edge thinking.

On a stylistic note, Woodward consistently uses fascinating quotes, ideas, stories, historical examples and even one equation in ways that make the reader see things in a whole new way. For example, he puts an intriguing new twist on Chaos Theory, the Butterfly Effect, a poem by Yeats, Systems Theory, the writings of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, credit card usage, American Idol, the “TriLateral Leadership Ledger,” the IBM way, Aristotle on true friendship, and many other delightful references from every field of thought –all written in a highly understandable and enjoyable way.

After I read Resolved the first time, I placed it next to my work chair and each day I open it randomly and read the quotes or stories on whatever page opens. It is always uplifting. Here are a few topics I’ve studied in Resolved during such random reading:

  • Why courage isn’t pragmatism
  • Producers vs. Exploiters
  • A commentary on Jim Collins’ Hedgehog Principle
  • The common reasons 23 major civilizations in history declined, and how we can avoid their mistakes
  • The combining of mind, heart and will
  • Charles Garfield on Success through Visualization
  • Will Smith’s work ethic
  • Never whine, never complain, never make excuses—and what to do instead
  • Woodward’s 10 principles of financial literacy (Wow! Every American should study these.)
  • Five steps for effective conflict resolution—in family, business and beyond
  • How to really build business systems that work
  • Henry Hazlitt’s economics in one lesson—and how to really understand the economy
  • The conflict between creativity and realism in national leadership

There is so much more. In one example, Woodward quotes G.K. Chesterton after he was asked to write an essay on “What’s Wrong with the World?” Chesterton wrote simply: “Dear Sirs, I am. Sincerely yours, G.K. Chesterton.” This, in summary, is what Resolved is all about. The rest of the book, all 13 resolutions, teaches us how to effectively become the leaders the world needs—and that we were born to be.

This book has articulated the leadership motto of the 21st Century: “It has been said that everyone wants to change the world but few feel the need to change themselves. Even a basic study of history, however, demonstrates that those who first focus upon self-improvement usually ending up doing the most good in the world.”

Gandhi taught the same sentiment when he said that we must be the change we wish to see in the world, and Woodward quotes Confucius in saying that those who want to improve the world must ultimately focus on bettering themselves.

Buddha is credited with saying that our purpose in life is to find our purpose in life, and then to give our whole heart and soul to accomplishing this purpose. Perhaps no generation more exemplified such leadership by example than the American founders, and Woodward discusses them and their words (especially Washington and Franklin) at length in showing us how to become the leaders we meant to be.

Woodward also shows examples of effective leadership from such greats as Sam Walton, John Wooden, Ludwig von Mises, and Roger Bannister, among others.

I could go on and on. Resolved really does, in my opinion, mark a leader-shift to a whole new level of leadership training for the new Century. If you are only going to get one book on leadership, this is the one. What a great book. Our whole society needs to study more about leadership, and apply what we learn.

*Links to book titles provided for your convenience in reviewing and purchasing referenced books. Any purchases on amazon initiated from these links result in amazon sharing a portion of their profits with TJEd. Thanks so much for your support!

 

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odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

Category : Blog &Book Reviews &Business &Entrepreneurship &Family &Leadership &Liberty &Mini-Factories &Mission &Producers &Prosperity &Service &Statesmanship

An Old Joke

July 13th, 2011 // 9:01 am @

Just One Wish

A society without adequate entrepreneurship will see little, if any, progress.

Disney’s Aladdin & the Genie

The old Cold War-era joke is told of an American, a Frenchman, and a Russian, lost in the wilderness, who find a lamp and rub it.

Out comes a Genie.

He offers them each one wish, for a total of three.

The American pictures the large ranch owned by the richest people in the valley where he grew up, and wishes for a ranch ten times its size, with flowing streams and meadows full of horses and cattle.

His wish is granted and he is transported home to his new life.

The Frenchman pictures the farm and cattle of the largest estate from his home province, and pictures one just like it.

Again, his wish is granted.

Finally, the Russian pictures the land and herds of the rich family in the steppes where he grew up, and wishes that a drought kill the cattle, dry up the grass, and bankrupt the aristocratic family.

This play on old stereotypes isn’t really very funny, though it brings big laughs with audiences of producers.

They get it.

The Frenchman, thinking like an entrepreneur, wants the good things that life provides, and is willing to go to work to produce them.

The American, who thinks like an entrepreneur and an investor, is willing to go to work also, but wants to see his assets create more value.

The Frenchman wants value, the American plans for value, increased market share and perpetual growth.

In contrast, the stereotypical-punchline “Russian” in this parable can only think of one thing—getting even with those who seem to have more than him.

This is the same as Steve Farber’s lament about the sad state of our modern employee mentality—where “burn your boss” is a slogan of millions of workers who see their employer as the enemy.

Even Washington sometimes likes to join the blame game by pointing fingers at Wall Street, Main Street and everyone in business.

Initiative, vision, effective planning, the wise use of risk, quality execution—all are the contributions of entrepreneurs and investors.

Without them, any society will decline and fall.

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odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is a co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

Category : Blog &Business &Culture &Economics &Entrepreneurship &Mini-Factories &Producers &Prosperity

The American Caste System

July 5th, 2011 // 6:57 am @

The American framers overcame domination by an elite upper class by establishing a new system where every person was treated equally before the law. This led to nearly two centuries of increasing freedoms for all social classes, both genders and all citizens—whatever their race, religion, health, etc.

During the Industrial Age this system changed in at least two major ways.

First, the U.S. commercial code was changed to put limits on who can invest in what. Rather than simply protecting all investors (rich or poor) against fraud or other criminal activity, in the name of “protecting the unsophisticated,” laws were passed that only allow the highest level of the middle class and the upper classes to invest in the investments with the highest returns.

This created a European-style model where only the rich own the most profitable companies and get richer while the middle and lower classes are stuck where they are.

Second, the schools at all levels were reformed to emphasize job training rather than quality leadership education. Today great leadership education is still the staple at many elite private schools, but the middle and lower classes are expected to forego the “luxury” of opportunity-affording, deep leadership education and instead just seek the more “practical” and “relevant” one-size-fits-all job training. This perpetuates the class system.

This is further exacerbated by the reality that public schools in middle class zip-codes typically perform much higher than lower-class neighborhood schools. Private elite schools train most of our future upper class and leaders, middle class public schools train our managerial class and most professionals, and lower-class public schools train our hourly wage workers. Notable exceptions notwithstanding, the rule still is what it is.

Government reinforces the class system by the way it runs public education, and big business supports it through the investment legal code. With these two biggest institutions in society promoting the class divide, lower and middle classes have limited power to change things.

The wooden stake that overcomes the vampire of an inelastic class system is entrepreneurial success. Becoming a producer and successfully creating new value in society helps the entrepreneur surpass the current class-system matrix and also weakens the overall caste system itself.

In short, if America is to turn the Information Age into an era of increased freedom and widespread economic opportunity, we need more producers.

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odemille 133x195 custom Why are We Still in Recession?Oliver DeMille is a co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.


Category : Aristocracy &Blog &Business &Culture &Economics &Entrepreneurship &Featured &Generations &Liberty &Mini-Factories &Mission &Producers &Prosperity

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