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4 Great Business Books That Aren’t Business Books

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Don’t Fear, Good Reads Are Here!

You already know how to win friends and influence people. Heck, you even can list the seven habits of the highly effective ones! And who moved your cheese is no longer a mystery.

In other words, you’ve business-booked yourself out of the business of reading business books.

Worry not! You still can satisfy the learnin’ part of your noggin and enjoy the dopamine rush of compelling storytelling through nonfiction narratives. While these books are not “business” by category definition, the tales they tell impart valuable business lessons for any reader, from the intern pool to the C-suite.

In no particular order, here are four recent reads well worth the time.

For Corporation Rehabilitation

Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway
Michael Riedel (Simon & Schuster, 2015)

Business Books - The Battle For Broadway

Long the theater columnist for The New York Post, Riedel offers a decades-spanning account of Broadway’s epic bounce-back from the near-disastrous 1970s, in which the Great White Way swam dangerously in the red thanks to a trashed economy, high crime rates and all that jazz.

The protagonists (and often antagonists) are The Shubert Organization’s Bernard Jacobs and Jerry Schoenfeld, who took over the corporation from nepotistic reins and rode it into the powerhouse organization it remains today. As the author puts it, “They bet on creative people who had strange ideas for shows — a boy who blinds horses, a bunch of chorus kids, a man-eating plant, a show about cats.” You’ll want to read it again and again.

For Foreign Deals

The Tetris Effect: The Game That Hypnotized the World
Dan Ackerman (PublicAffairs, 2016)

Business Books - The Tetris Effect

As it turns out, doing business in the capitalist-unfriendly Iron Curtain isn’t easy. Yet that didn’t stop many from trying when programmer Alexey Pajitnov created a simple computer game of falling shapes that we now know as the worldwide brand phenomenon Tetris. Ackerman’s book is a virtual investigation into the red tape-riddled web of rights holders, would-be rights holders, corporate executives and nefarious characters from around the globe, all wanting a sizable piece of Pajitnov’s ever-lucrative pie.

One such person is Hungarian software salesman Robert Stein, who sold Tetris rights all over the place … before he actually had the right to do so. And therein begins a fascinating legal battle, the moves of which CNET journalist Ackerman handles with the deftness of a seasoned Tetris player rotating that darned Z-shaped piece in the game’s speedier rounds.

For Project Mismanagement

Song of Spider-Man: The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Musical in Broadway History
Glen Berger (Simon & Schuster, 2013)

Business Books - Song of Spiderman

Six years’ worth of behind-the-scenes turmoil surrounding the creation of the Broadway flop Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is packed into a vastly readable account by none other than the musical’s scriptwriter. With acclaimed director Julie Taymor, Marvel Comics and half of the band U2 as its stars, the book is a cautionary tale of unchecked egos and uncontrolled costs.

You’ll cringe as the $25 million budget balloons to $65 million, as 20 songs had yet to be written with one month remaining, as dubious creative decision follows dubious creation decision, resulting in a train wreck of a project on which no one seemed willing to apply even a modicum of pressure to the brakes. As Berger writes of the daily chaos, “These were good questions. We didn’t ask them.”

 

For Marketing Innovation

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise
Chris Taylor (Basic Books, 2014)

Business Books - How Star Wars Conquered the Universe

The story of Star Wars has been told ad nauseam, but never quite like this: Every other chapter finds the author examining in depth the franchise’s penetration into — if not impregnation of — our pop-culture consciousness.

The standout chapter focuses on how marketer Charlie Lippincott rewrote the rules of promotion, not only pushing George Lucas’ buzzless science-fiction movie into a record-shattering blockbuster, but creating campaign avenues that have become today’s standard practices — most notably on the stage of the San Diego Comic-Con. Of that particular strategy, Lippincott now says with regret, “What I did led to something I’m appalled at.” Agreed, yet the force was with his innovative methods.


Rod Lott

by Rod Lott


Author Bio: As Paycom’s Creative Services Manager, Rod Lott brings more than two decades of experience in marketing, advertising, branding and journalism. A published author and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, he has worked with such brands as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Sonic Drive-In and OU.

Job titles

Jawbs: Sharks’ Similarities to Job Titles

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Just like you and me, sharks have their own set of personality traits, and these attributes have set both species apart as apex predators. In honor of one of the greatest weeks featuring our misconstrued finned friends from the sea, TV’s Shark Week, let’s discuss the parallels shared between sharks and job titles of corporate America.

Something’s in the water … and it’s creating a feeding frenzy among your top talent.

Great White Shark | CEO

Two of the most popular figures within their respective domains, the great white and CEO are highly visible. Much of how people judge a company comes from the public perception of its CEO. The same is true for great white sharks, especially after the iconic 1975 movie, Jaws. Since Steven Spielberg’s beloved thriller, public perception was that every shark is a man-eating killer, just like the film’s shark antagonist.

Aside from the public spotlight, the two are active leaders within their defined areas. The great white is one of the most active sharks and can exceed 20 feet in length and weigh over two tons! CEOs are actively running their company and, many times, play the largest role in their organization. They make critical strategic decisions to place the company on its chartered course toward growth, profitability and transparency.

People are fascinated and intrigued by CEOs, just as they are the great white. There’s a reason the great white starred in Jaws, just as the CEO is the star in corporate America.

Bull Shark | CFO

Adaptability and strategy are the name of the game for CFOs. They face enormous pressures while protecting vital financial assets of the company, aligning business and finance strategies, and growing the business. Their adaptability is tested as they hold the key to financial solvency throughout their organization.

Like the bull shark’s ability to survive in both freshwater and saltwater environments, CFOs must be well-versed in many critical elements of the business, from finance to production to human capital management. With so much at stake tied to their performance, you can forgive them for possessing a little of the bull shark’s territorial nature.

Nurse Shark | HR

Similar to the roles of an HR professional, the nurse shark plays a vital role in its delicate marine ecosystem. The nurse shark is seen patrolling the reef floor where it cleans and preys on crustaceans and other marine life that otherwise would overpopulate the ocean. HR professionals often are seen cleaning up and maintaining employee documents and government compliance records regarding OSHA, FMLA, ACA and the list goes on and on.

In many offices, it is typical for HR professionals to be the voice of the organization; they are social beings who plan holiday parties while also administering benefits and welcoming new hires. Nurse sharks hang out in large groups, sometimes of 40 or more. They gather to help their fellow nurse shark, just as HR is there to aid their fellow employees.

Hammerhead Shark | Recruiting

The hammerhead shark is the recruiter of the open waters. Hammerheads are very social and take their job – hunting – very seriously.

Hammerheads are unique, as their eyes are set on the outer edges of their wide heads, allowing them a vertical, 360-degree view. This, coupled with their keen sense of smell, allows them to easily find prey.

Recruiters, too, possess a 360-degree view of not only their organizational needs, but also talent that exists outside of its walls. Recruiters use a number of media to source for candidates, including job boards and social media sites, but they also must rely on a strong applicant tracking system that filters the right guy or gal for the job.

Mako Shark | Sales

If you are in sales or ever have been contacted by a sales rep, you know it is all about being aggressive and timely. Many people say that the best sales reps are those who possess a “hunter’s mentality.” This means they are excited to catch the “big fish” and they do so with endless preparation, drive and mental fortitude. Like the fastest of the shark species, sales reps, too, are quick to strike up a conversation and must move promptly when closing a deal.

Makos are incredibly agile and have been recorded at speeds of 40-plus mph. Like sales reps, makos can cover a lot of territory; they have been known to venture as far as 1,300 miles in a little over a month.

Sharks in the Workplace

Sharks and business professionals are not so different. Both share a number of characteristics that help make them successful at life, whether on land or at sea. These varied species of sharks have unique traits that complement each other in much the same way as humans’ corporate structure.

This article was originally published  July 7, 2015 on the Paycom blog. 

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Posted in Blog, Featured, HR Management, Leadership, Talent Acquisition


Author Bio: A writer, speaker and business leader, Jason has been the communications pulse for a number of organizations, including Paycom where he is the director of public relations and corporate communications. A featured writer on human capital management technology, leadership and the Affordable Care Act, Jason launched Paycom’s blog, webinar platform and social media channels, helping empower organizations around the nation. Jason is attuned to the needs of businesses and helped develop a tool to aid organizations in their pursuit to comply with the ACA; one of the largest changes in healthcare the country has seen. While working in athletics for ESPN and FoxSports, Jason learned the importance of hard work and branding. In his free time he enjoys adventuring with his family, reading and exploring new areas to strengthen his business acumen.

Open positions

Why Its So Difficult to Fill Your Open Positions

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If you feel like it’s getting more and more challenging to find qualified employees to fill your positions, you’re right. New evidence from the Deutsche Bank indicates that the length of time a vacancy lays open has increased overall since 2010. Open positions are increasingly difficult to fill due to several trends within the current labor market. However, there are several actions you can take as a business leader to improve your ability to hire and retain a quality workforce.

Finding and keeping the top-talent your business needs is about to get tougher.

Open Positions Are Staying Vacant Longer

Currently, according to economist Torsten Sløk with the Deutsche Bank, positions are open on average 31 days before being filled. That’s significantly higher than the 24-day average in prerecession 2007, which was the longest span positions stayed vacant since 2001. Job vacancies were filled in about 15 days in 2009, and the length of time it has taken to fill open positions has increased steadily in the eight years since.

Many Business Struggle to Find and Keep Qualified Workers

What does this mean for business leaders? That finding the right worker has become increasingly challenging. The Federal Reserve’s recently released Beige Book notes tightening in labor markets nationwide.

In Pennsylvania, for example, “staffing contacts reported spending more time and money on recruiting labor and refilling positions after the initial hire quit, sometimes after just a few days.”

Additionally, the Federal Reserve’s contacts across the nation and in a variety of industries reported that hiring was limited because there were not enough qualified workers available.

Labor Trends Influencing This Challenge

Some of the reasons cited by the Beige Book included job hopping and a disconnect between companies and job candidates on compensation. Federal Reserve contacts noted “rising wage pressures” in both high- and low-skilled positions. Some also mentioned that the costs of benefits and variable pay were increasing.

Another possible reason employers struggle to find the right people to fill their positions is a growing gap between the skills needed in the workplace and the skills that are available among the workforce. In fact, according to SHRM, we are currently facing “the most acute talent shortage since the Great Recession.”

What It Means For You

It’s now more important than ever to retain your star employees, and attract candidates like them. Having competitive compensation and a culture that appeals to the job seeker can give you an edge in this job market. Consider implementing more in-depth, on-the-job training to address the skills gap, and ensure that you have efficient hiring processes in place to eliminate any wasted time, money and energy.

If you’d like to learn more about current labor trends and what they mean for your business, you can find a wealth of information in our on-demand webinar on current labor trends.

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Posted in Blog, Featured, Talent Acquisition

Jeff York

by Jeff York


Author Bio: Jeff York, Paycom’s chief sales officer, has more than three decades of sales experience and has held a variety of sales management positions; prior to joining Paycom In 2007, York spent 12 years with a legacy payroll provider, where he held a variety of sales management positions including vice president of sales for the major accounts division. York, a Texas Tech University graduate, also holds an MBA from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business.

IRS Continues to Enforce Affordable Care Act

IRS Continues to Enforce Affordable Care Act

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The IRS recently released an information letter indicating that the IRS continues to enforce the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Dated June 30, Letter 2017-0010 was sent to a member of Congress who reached out to the IRS at the request of a constituent, a tax-exempt entity concerned it may owe an employer shared responsibility payment (ESRP) because it did not comply with the ACA rules on offering health insurance to its employees, for both financial and religious reasons.

The letter first provides a brief summary of the circumstances that might lead to a large employer owing an ESRP, and notes that there is no provision in the ACA that provides for the waiver of an ESRP.

The letter then addresses the effect of the president’s Jan. 20 executive order on the enforcement of the ACA. Titled “Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal,” the order directed federal agencies to exercise discretion permitted to them by law to reduce potential burdens imposed by the ACA.

However, it did not change the health care law. The legislative provisions of the ACA are still in force until changed by Congress; therefore, taxpayers remain required to follow the law and pay what they may owe.

For more information on the executive order and the current tax filing season, visit https://www.irs.gov/tax-professionals/aca-information-center-for-tax-professionals.

What This Means for Employers

Since Congress has not yet passed a bill that would repeal the ACA, and Republicans have struggled to draft a bill that would receive majority support, employers should use caution and plan to comply with the law’s requirements unless and until the ACA is repealed and any new law’s provisions actually go into effect. Continued compliance may be required for a transition period, following passage of an ACA repeal bill, depending on the language of that legislation.

 

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Posted in ACA, Blog, Featured

Erin Maxwell

by Erin Maxwell


Author Bio: As a compliance attorney for Paycom, Erin Maxwell monitors legal and regulatory changes at the state and federal level, focusing on health and employee benefits laws, to ensure the Paycom system is updated accordingly. She previously served as assistant general counsel at Asset Servicing Group in Oklahoma City. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and a J.D. from the University of Oklahoma. Outside of work, Maxwell enjoys politics, historical mysteries and spending time with her family.

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