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Talented People Work for More Than Pay

Reevaluate your compensation and rewards to create a performance culture

Reevaluate your compensation and rewards to create a performance culture Many companies are changing how they pay to keep the people they need. People who want to remain on a fast career track need to monitor what is happening to pay and rewards. Companies no longer just use options to get and keep the best people. And, when they move to cash compensation, this creates tax problems for key people.

  • Options underwater? Don’t hold your breath for re-pricing options. But companies are making major option grants to key people. You may not get options on your company stock at the current price for a long time. So, if you are up for pay negotiations, it may be a time for more options.
  • 'Fearless Salary Negotiation' by Josh Doody (ISBN 0692568689) 2020 incentives sparse? Many incentive plans are based on earnings growth for their dollars. And some companies missed their goals near the end of 2020. It is time to look at the measures your incentive plan has for 2021. Do they start where the missed 2020 goals left off? Do you have financial goals that are realistic and based on what your company can do in 2021?
  • Base pay adjustments? This will probably be a 4 percent budget year for most companies. So you need to focus on variable pay in the form of incentives and stock options. Companies set their plans at the start of the year, and even if things get better, they don’t change their budgeting processes easily.

Paying Smart: Time of Transition

Talented People Work for More Than Pay This year will be a watershed year for pay and rewards. The game is changing fast. Leaders will have some critical decisions to make, as companies are transitioning from a period of economic growth to a time of uncertainty. In recent years, everything we did with pay and rewards seemed to work. Now companies need a powerful business case for everything they do. Pay and rewards must add value to the business—good news for a change. But people need to be agile and adaptable.

Hiring is changing—from recruitment that placed a premium on all skills to a situation where hiring is more selective. Companies should build a performance culture employment model. Rather than designing rewards to attract and keep everyone, now they need rewards that are attractive to people who add value. As businesses offer incentives and equity lower in the workforce ranks, it is important to link rewards to what drives growth. Use rewards as the engine to make the company grow again. We now know that stock options are not the “secret sauce” of financial rewards. This gives us a chance to restart equity-sharing strategies.

You need to know how to deal with a workforce that is more “pay and reward savvy.” We will now see a return to basic design elements, including workforce involvement, alignment with business metrics, win-win for company and people, and simplicity.

'Designing Effective Incentive Compensation Plans' by Sal DiFonzo (ISBN 0692568689) Companies need pay and reward solutions that are more cost justified and based on contribution to the business. Talented people work for more than pay: total rewards in the form of providing a compelling and attractive future; individual growth so people continue to add value and adapt as they grow in economic value; a positive workplace where people want to do well; and total pay comprised of base pay, incentives, recognition, celebration and benefits.

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Posted in Business and Strategy

Conspicuous Consumption

Conspicuous Consumption

Conspicuous consumption is the purchase of goods and services for the sake of publicly exhibiting wealth or status

The overt display of luxury goods and services by the ruling classes in the late nineteenth century led Thorstein Veblen to formulate his economic theory of conspicuous consumption. He wrote, “Conspicuous consumption of valuable goods is a means of reputability to the gentleman of leisure.”

In his influential book The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study in the Evolution of Institutions published in 1899, Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929) identified a distinctive feature of the newly established upper class of the late nineteenth century and the rising middle class of the twentieth century: their accumulation of luxury goods and services for the expressed purpose of displaying prestige, wealth, and social status. Veblen, a U.S. economist and social scientist, viewed this phenomenon as a negative symptom of the new rich that would inhibit social adaptation to the necessities of the industrial age.

The intention for exhibition embodied in the idea of conspicuous consumption is in contrast to the securing of goods and services for their intrinsic value or their originally established purpose. Focusing on the “conspicuous” aspect of the term, conspicuous consumption can conceivably occur among members of any socio-economic class, from the richest to the poorest. Acquiring status indicators can happen in any social setting. Focusing on the “consumption” aspect of the term, conspicuous consumption relates to the purchase and display of goods beyond what is necessary, and applies primarily to the middle and upper classes, who then set patterns of social behavior and consumption that are imitated by others. In this respect, it is closely tied to consumerism.

One ramification of Veblen’s insights into conspicuous consumption relates to the idea of a “luxury tax.” Such a tax increases costs on goods and services that primarily serve as declarations of affluence, in order to raise revenue and redistribute wealth with little loss to consumers who purchase for the sake of status and not utility. It may also gradually reduce conspicuous consumption of such “positional goods,” or “Veblen goods,” which bear the namesake because demand for them increases as price increases.

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Posted in Investing and Finance Philosophy and Wisdom

WSJ’s Jonathan Clements Thinks it’s a Good Time to be an Investor

In a recent interview with Vanguard, Jonathan Clements argues that this is a great time to be an investor:

'Money Guide 2015' by Jonathan Clements (ISBN B00PGE26A2) The financial world has become a kinder place for investors for three reasons:

  1. Investment costs have dropped sharply.
  2. The tax code has become much friendlier to investors.
  3. We have seen a proliferation of investment choices, so ordinary investors today can build extraordinarily sophisticated portfolios.

Jonathan Clements is a personal finance columnist at Wall Street Journal, and is the author of the immensely popular ‘The Little Book of Main Street Money’, the forthcoming ‘Money Guide 2015′ and several other books.

Jonathan Clements on thrift to wealth:

'The Little Book of Main Street Money' by Jonathan Clements (ISBN 0470473231) Over the years, I have met thousands of everyday Americans who have amassed seven-figure portfolios—and the one attribute shared by almost all of them is that they’re extremely frugal. When I was at Citi, I used to joke to the bankers that they would know a couple was wealthy if they pulled up to the branch in a second-hand Civic, wore clothes from J.C. Penney, and asked to have their parking ticket validated.

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Posted in Investing and Finance

The Third Chapter of Life: Retirement

The Third Chapter of Life: Retirement

The thought of retirement after a career as a professional can be both exciting and terrifying. The notion of going from 100 miles per hour during the first and second chapters of life—the early/mid-level careerist phase and senior-level professional phase, respectively—to zero can be anxiety producing for both the professional and his or her family.

Unfortunately, some professionals avoid the issue and never make a plan to retire; eventually retirement is forced upon them by health issues or by their organization or board. There is a lot to be said for going out when you are at the top of your game. Take the fabled Yankee relief pitcher Mariano Rivera, who chose his time and went out in a stadium filled with adoring fans wishing their hero farewell. The antidote for retirement anxiety is proactively planning for that next chapter of your life.

Research has shown that planning before retirement is a predictor of satisfaction after retirement. There are many benefits to retirement planning, the most important of which is that you have control. You are going toward something, as opposed to moving away from something that has been a large part of your identity for several decades. Prior planning with your spouse or partner can also make the transition easier for both of you. In addition, you can tell your colleagues and friends about your plans so they can share your excitement.

Predicators of a Satisfying and Fulfilling Life

Since ancient times, humans have been thinking about and debating the factors that need to be present for a satisfying and fulfilling life. In modern times the subject has been studied and researched. Based on my research about ancient teachings, current research on predictors of life satisfaction, adult life cycles, career planning literature and retirement planning literature, I would offer the following elements, which if present in your next chapter plan, should lead to a satisfying and fulfilling life. They are: engagement, meaning, relationships, intellectual stimulation, physical well-being, pleasure and financial security. Allow me to briefly describe each of these:

  • Engagement: Engagement, or flow as it is called by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychology professor noted for his work on happiness, is “being so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.” All of your attention, concentration, intellect and knowledge are stretched and consumed. These activities are not passive or relaxing. This description probably reminds you of your current job. While exhausting, engagement can bring great satisfaction for a difficult job well done.
  • Meaning: Meaning is doing something for others or the greater good. Meaningful endeavors may or may not meet the criteria of engagement.
  • Relationships: We were not meant to be solitary souls. Having relationships in your life that bring you joy and comfort are important for most people. These relations can be with family, friends or people with whom you share engagement and/or meaningful activities.
  • Intellectual Stimulation: Intellectual stimulation provides the challenges that keep you learning, curious and growing. Physical well-being by taking care of your well-being, you can remain physically active for as long as possible without limitations on your activities.
  • Pleasure: Pleasure is doing or experiencing things that bring you joy. These can be active or passive activities.
  • Financial Security: Financial security is having enough savings, retirement income or supplemental income during this next chapter to support the lifestyle you desire. If supplemental income is necessary, the previously mentioned elements can be used to determine the types of income-producing activities you may want to pursue to provide income as well as satisfaction and fulfillment.

Developing the Plan

The process resembles the journey you went through when you were deciding on what career path to follow. It requires a lot of introspection and some experimentation. But the good news is you now have a lot more experience and wisdom to draw upon. Developing the plan can be challenging to do when you are working full time, because so much of your intellect and emotional energy are expended on your responsibilities. Carving out the time, however, will position you for success.

If there is a spouse or partner in your life, planning this next chapter together can be exciting and satisfying. You can also learn more about each other and strengthen the relationship. Taking the time to do planning exercises individually and then sharing the results with each other keeps the playing field level. Sharing your results with each other can be very reaffirming and lead to some new insights about each other. Sharing also makes it your joint plan for the future. There will be things you want to do together and some, each on your own. Here are some ways to help you devise your plan:

  • Values: Think about what is important to you. What are your value strengths that you can put into action? There are online tools, like the Values in Action survey that can help you identify those values and strengths.
  • Knowing Yourself: This is the hardest part. Most of us identify our skills and knowledge in our job title. For instance, when someone asks what you do, your answer is probably something like “I am CEO of a capital goods company. I am vice president for patient care services. I am an IT consultant.” The challenge is to deconstruct your current job and other life experiences into the skills you possess and the types of situations you have experienced and then identify the ones that brought you the most satisfaction and fulfillment. For instance, you may have found great satisfaction in mentoring and coaching high-potential managers in your organization. The challenge then becomes a matter of identifying those skills you want to hold onto, those skills you are just as happy to let go and new skills you would like to acquire. You should also identify those life situations that brought great satisfaction, like coaching your child’s basketball team.
  • Relationships and Obligations: Next is identifying your relationships with family, friends, organizations, etc., and what if any obligations you have to them-for example, looking after an elderly relative who is in failing health.
  • Adventure: What have you always wanted to do? Where have you always wanted to go but just never had the time or opportunity?

Pulling It All Together

Now it is time for you and your spouse or partner to put the puzzle pieces together. Think about the predictors of a satisfying and fulfilling life. Then, take what you and your spouse or partner have learned about yourselves and each other, the knowledge of what has brought you satisfaction in the past, your financial circumstances, things that you have always wanted to do, and your obligations, and then develop some initial options for the next chapter of your lives.

You can then experiment, volunteer and find ways to experience the new roles and see if they are a good fit. For example, if you are thinking of teaching in a graduate program, try serving as a guest lecturer before you teach a course to see if doing so brings the fulfillment and satisfaction you desire.

With advance planning, you are now on your way to that satisfying and fulfilling next chapter of your life. All the best in your quest!

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Posted in Health and Fitness Investing and Finance

How Airline Frequent Flyer Programs Make Money

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Frequent Flyer Program

Airline frequent flyer programs were first launched in 1979 by Texas International Airlines, which in 1982 merged with Continental Airlines, which in turn purchased and merged with United Airlines. In 1981, lzmnyq American Airlines with it’s AAdvantage program became the second airline to start frequent flyer loyalty programs. Almost all the major airlines around the world, including the discount airlines, now have frequent flyer programs.

Frequent flyer programs were first introduced to foster brand loyalty among customers of the airlines, most importantly among high-yielding business travelers. Generally, frequent flyer incentives were based on miles or sectors flown.

For the most part, airlines are fixed-cost operations. The incremental cost of flying an additional passenger is relatively low if a flight is not full. Therefore, airlines allow customers to redeem their accumulated miles based on redemption charts decided by the revenue management departments at the airlines. Of course, there are blackout periods (customers cannot redeem their seats) during those times of the year when yields are likely to be higher and thus airlines could draw more revenue for higher demand seats from fare-paying passengers.

American Airlines AAdvantage Frequent Flyer Program

With the evolution of airline loyalty programs, airlines introduced the concept of elite tiers. American Airlines was also the first to introduce elite tiers as part of its AAdvantage program. For many elite travelers, access to lounges, priority check-in, fast track security lanes, and other benefits create enough incentives to entice them to stick with their favored airline. Thus, airlines increase the switching costs of using another airline for their customers.

Frequent Flyer Points: Cash Generation Machine

Over time, the bean counters at the airlines realized that the unsettled liability to provide award travel when customers might redeem in the future constitutes a very marginal cost compared to the commercial value of the earned frequent flyer miles for the customers. Airlines started selling miles to business partners and members of thier respective frequent flyer programs at prices significantly higher than their cost. These partners, typically car rental companies, cruise lines, and hotels, could then offer airline miles to incentivize their own customers. Under a co-branded airline credit card scheme, a member can earn miles not only directly with the airline, but also for purchasing the services or products of these business partners.

Co-branded airline credit cards that reward frequent flyer points for purchases

The most prominent of the business partners are credit card companies and banks. Airlines sell these miles to partners such as credit card companies who they offer them to customers to incentivize credit card signups and usage. Again, the AAdvantage program created the first co-branded credit card as a partnership between American Airlines and Citibank in 1987.

The business of frequent flyer programs has generated significant revenues for airlines through advance purchase of miles by business partners. Delta Airlines estimated that SkyMiles, its frequent flyer program, would rake in $1.6 billion in ancillary revenues in 2011.

Frequent flyer programs became such a lucrative business venture that some airlines spun off their frequent flyer programs to generate revenue. Air Canada’s Aeroplan is now a coalition loyalty program owned by Aimia. Aeroplan has evolved into loyalty marketing program with retail partners such as Esso, Home Hardware, Rona, Birks, Sobeys, Thrifty Foods, Nestle Canada and others. India’s Jet Airways recently announced that it is spinning off its JetPrivilege loyalty program.

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Posted in Airlines and Airliners Investing and Finance

Ask for the Raise You Deserve

Asking for a Raise Your chances of getting a raise depend on how valuable your company things you are to its mission, not on how much you have contributed to the company in the recent past. Make your move when you have newly proved that you are deserving of a raise.

Here is how to approach your boss with a request for a raise:

  • In your projects, demonstrate your distinguishing abilities or employ the unique skills that your competition does not have, both inside and outside the company.
  • Respect the chain of command. Beware of your company’s formal routes for asking for a raise and discussing career advancement. Work your way through the established channels.
  • Do not appear too anxious to get a raise. Managers will be reluctant to support you they get the impression that you are more concerned about your own success than that of your company.
  • Make a persuasive case, but do not push too hard or, worse, start a confrontation. Do not threaten to quit if your needs are not addressed.
  • One prudent tactic is to approach your supervisor to guide you on what you need to do to get a raise. That way, you are likely to get your supervisor to back you when you ask for a raise.
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Posted in Education and Career