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Your reading list for the last Friday of 2013

Thinker pieces and ah-ha's from around the web

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It’s that time of year when people start making a list of resolutions that they will break by the end of February – eat better, exercise more, stop watching reality TV, and so on.

No problem – we’re here to help. Today’s reading list has – among other things – a few real-world, road-tested ideas that you can implement that are both realistic, and which can help you and your company become more successful.

For starters, stop bringing your cell phone or tablet into meetings. Doesn’t matter if you’re the chief or the low person on the totem pole. It shows a lack of respect, attention, listening and power. And that has real-world consequences both for the chiefs and the tribe members. From the article: "One of my clients took a chapter from saloons in the old West. He put a wicker basket at the entrance to his main conference room, along with a sign. The sign had a picture of a smartphone with the message, 'Leave your guns at the door.'"

Want to really be successful in 2014? Stop checking your email when you’re on vacation. And start using your lunch hour to work out. One company profiled doesn’t just encourage employees on vacation to stay out of touch – employees get reported if they try to communicate with the company.

“The results? Employees experience vacations as vacations: rejuvenation, reconnection and relaxation. And managers put more attention toward developing their folks  - because their folks can’tcall them when there’s an emergency during their absence; they have to be willing and able to handle it themselves.”

Short version of this story: Smart billionaires are taking advantage of South Dakota tax laws available to people of all income levels to escape inheritance taxes and establish perpetual trusts, and it rankles reporters at Bloomberg News. (Their headline: "Moguls Rent South Dakota Address to Dodge Taxes Forever")

If you can ignore the tut-tutting tone, it is fascinating to learn how one man has managed to create a haven for trusts that shields them from onerous taxation. After all, as Judge Learned Hand said: “Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes. Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands."

When the President returns from his three-week Hawaii vacation and starts planning his annual State of the Union address, it is expected he will complain about the economy and income inequality. He’s going to have a LOT of company in that gripe, here at the start of the fifth year of the administration.

Even though there’s been a surge in the stock market and housing is picking up, almost 70% of Americans think the economy is in bad condition, according to the latest CNN poll. While polls come and go, what’s concerning about this one is such pessimism has direct bearing on consumer confidence, spending and hiring. Most are optimistic about housing market in 2014, but that seems to be one of the few bright spots.

And finally, speaking of falling confidence, kids are staying off the Facebook lawn. The once mighty Facebook may be about as cool to teenagers as Bob Newhart in Fonzie’s leather jacket. (We’re dating ourselves with that reference, aren’t we?)

Seems teens increasingly see the king of social media sites as "dead and buried" – at best a place to keep in touch with older family members.

Increasingly they’re turning to sites and apps like Snapchat, WhatsApp, and even Twitter. They’re especially fond of social media that doesn’t put down silly thing they say or take pictures of in their Permanent Record™.

Facebook seems so embedded in the culture as to seem untouchable but it wasn’t long ago people couldn’t have pictured that MySpace would become a virtual ghost town, either. The worst thing a social media platform can be branded is uncool. The housing market was slow to embrace social media to their own detriment -- people might want to keep a close eye on what rises and falls in that arena if they're going to use it as a marketing tool.

Recent Articles by Trey Garrison

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