Warren Buffett and Ford Motor Company Have Some Good Numbers to Show

Business Motivation for Getting America Back to Work

The Biz Desk
What a year it’s been in business! As some companies continue to hang on for dear life, others are still pulling in good numbers. A few years ago the auto industry was on the skids. They were closing down dealerships and scaling back manufacturing. But now they seem to be on the up-and-up.

Ford Motor Company is riding high in the U.S. even after not taking bailout funds from the government. The year in review is a good time for considering:

  1. Core – Think about what makes you strong and what for you is of central importance
  2. Floor:- Make plans to travel the distance starting from where you are right now
  3. Explore:- Develop your resolutions, move into new directions, make tough decisions
  4. D’jor:- Savor the joys of the holidays and the successes of the past season.

The holiday season can be a tough time for people who’ve experienced a job loss or some other personal loss. From a business perspective even after repeated financial loss Ford is again making strides. Let the end of year festivities be a celebration and motivation towards your next destination.

The Biz Desk invites you to post your comments below or you can send a personal note on Facebook or Twitter to @DocCunningham; on Linkedin to @DOCCommunications.

Work Life
Warren Buffett is one of the richest men on the planet. He’s built his wealth through business investments. His rise to the financial mountaintop has been for the most part slow and steady. He has a knack for buying low or making purchases for which others are saying no. It’s the way he approaches his investment decisions.

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway company holdings include GEICO, Fruit of the Loom and Pampered Chef. Most times he goes for underrated, under-funded companies that offer great untapped potential. Buffet’s career journey might represent the frugal and unglamorous sides of business but has been built around the fundamentals:

  • Keeping the boss happy (himself)
  • Upgrading his visibility
  • Providing a higher level of service
  • Finding more room to grow

Even as many industry insiders debate whether print media is losing its muscle, Buffet’s company recently bought an Omaha Newspaper group which makes you think he sees value that others don’t.

Life’s Work
These days Buffett is being quoted by many politicians. It’s often said that the current tax rate makes him pay less in taxes than his secretary. It’s one reason he’s open to the idea of the rich paying their fair share. But not every politician is on board with that idea.

He also raised eyebrows when he signed a pact to give away most of his wealth to charity and other philanthropic causes. Buffett life’s work reminds us of the fact that you can’t take it with you. A large portion of his portfolio is being earmarked for the Bill & Malinda Gates Foundation.

Street Talk (Social Commentary driving change!)
Newt Gingrich has been rising in the polls recently. Some believe it’s because he’s gained some of the Herman Cain supporters. Others think it’s just his turn for having “15-minutes of fame” in the Republican field. His comments about “poor kids working as janitors” made a few people hot under the collar.

Some politicians keep saying that President Obama is pushing “class warfare.” In one corner you have rich politicians beating up on the poor. Who’s in the other corner? They make it appear as if the poor are beating up on the rich. So, is this class warfare or is it just politicians doing social-class bullying?

What Can Tiger Woods Teach American Airlines?

Business Motivation for Getting America Back to Work

The Biz Desk
Is Tiger Woods back to his winning ways? The jury is still out. But his recent tournament win is a good start. Woods hadn’t won a major championship in two years. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, American Airlines recently announced that it plans to file for bankruptcy.

Woods has had to work hard to recapture his magic. American Airlines will be doing the same using the “reinvent yourself playbook:”

  1. Rethink – How you see yourself affects how you sell yourself
  2. Regroup:- Starting over doesn’t always mean from scratch but definitely from below the surface
  3. Retool:- Figure-out what you need that you don’t have and what you have that you don’t need
  4. Replay – Let’s see you perform again like old-times, just upgraded to the present time.

They say “you can’t teach an old dog a new trick.” That’s not always true for dogs, for people or for businesses. For Woods, American Airlines or someone unemployed to return to their past glory days, they might have to learn a few new tricks in order to be among the top picks.

The Biz Desk invites you to post your comments below or you can send a personal note on Facebook or Twitter to @DocCunningham; on Linkedin to @DOCCommunications.

Work Life
Woods has been one of the most dominant pro golfers in modern times. He’s rack-up championship wins even faster than some of his predecessors. Advertisers were thrilled to sponsor his events and fans were pumped to watch him play. Then things went sour for reasons you already know.

He took some time-off from the spotlight to rethink and regroup. He made some changes to his support team and equipment. He spent time re-tooling his swing by watching video replays of past performances. It’s almost as if he had to ask himself the question, “What are you looking for career-wise?” The answers he had to choose from include:

  • A rigorous skills assessment
  • Being the boss
  • Attending Self-taught University
  • Networking in aisle 10

Woods’ play is not out-of-the-woods (pardon the pun) quite yet. He’s got to keep on working on himself as well as his game to be a top contender again.

Life’s Work
On a recent post-play interview, Woods was asked about his normal day. There was a time it was tough to get a scoop from his personal life. His response said something about his ongoing personal growth. He took pride in sharing how he was taking his daughter to dance lessons.

Maybe Woods wants to be an example of having balance in your personal and professional life. He may now think it’s better to give both the attention they deserve than to be good at work but lousy at home. Similarly, your vocation in and outside of your day’s work brings more meaning to your life’s work.

Street Talk (Social Commentary driving change!)
Grandma is upset with the TSA! It seems on recent trips to the airport, a few senior citizens were given the frisk search. They were surprised by how much “touching and feeling” had to occur. So grandma is planning to file suit or at a minimum work on her strip tease routine.

A few weeks earlier the complaint came from a family with a toddler. They felt that the agent went too far. Most people feel there’s got to be a better way. Has common sense been thrown out the window (like throwing out the baby with the bath water) or is airport security a “hard to please everybody” situation?

Shaq & “Magic” Got into Business with an Investment Perspective

Business Motivation for Getting America Back to Work

The Biz Desk
Shaquille O’Neal and Magic Johnson have been doing their media rounds. Both are talking shop about the recent NBA lockout. Shaq is also promoting his new book while Magic continues to be a spokesperson for AIDS awareness. They have used their NBA careers to become entrepreneurs and philanthropists.

Entrepreneurs come in different shapes and sizes. So it’s good to know the business models that apply:

  1. Creator – Some are known as serial entrepreneurs for starting many businesses
  2. Builder:- There are those who’re good at building something someone else started
  3. Investor:- This is how a venture capitalist entrepreneur makes his money
  4. Hustler – The art of any business is in how you turn an idea into a hustle.

Neither Shaq nor Magic went into pro basketball as entrepreneurs. Their earnings over the years have helped them to invest in franchise and entertainment ventures. This might also be true for many of today’s professionals. Starting a business may not be in your blood, but it may be in your future.

The Biz Desk invites you to post your comments below or you can send a personal note on Facebook or Twitter to @DocCunningham; on Linkedin to @DOCCommunications.

Work Life
Shaq announced his retirement earlier this year due to injuries. He played 19 seasons and won four championships with the LA Lakers and Miami Heat. He’s been on the NBA All-Star team for practically his entire career. When you consider his accomplishments as a player, he’s sure to be in the Hall of Fame.

Shaq grew-up on the streets of Newark and found basketball as a perfect fit for his physical stature. He played college ball on scholarship at LSU, leaving as a junior to go pro. He later returned to complete his degree and now that he’s retired from the NBA he’s showing how you create an upside in your career.

  • Find your inner motivator
  • Expand-on your passion
  • Develop your professional “itch” to get rich
  • Deliver exceptional results

Shaq has earned so many nicknames during his playing days. It just shows how he’s been able to mix passion and personality on and off the court.

Life’s Work
Where were you 20 years ago when Magic announced his retirement? It came suddenly and was immediate. He was diagnosed with the HIV virus. Doctors felt that for his own health, if he wanted to be around a while longer he should pack it in. Well, he’s still here thanks to early detection and medicine.

He shares how important it was to have a positive attitude. The support from his family went a long way. But maybe one of the things that kept him going is his life’s work in HIV awareness. Sometimes your life’s work happens out of natural or life-changing circumstances that give you a new sense of purpose and perspective on your existence.

Street Talk (Social Commentary driving change!)
The NBA players and owners have reached an agreement. The lockout ended as players return in a hurry. The reduced season is set to begin on Christmas Day. Players began losing money, owners were losing patience and fans were about to lose their minds watching millionaires argue with millionaires.

Whatever the revenue sharing agreement, let’s hope everybody’s happy. It seems the rich will shutdown the business to make more money and fight the government against paying more taxes. So, was it the pain of losing their paychecks that got them to settle or was it about them coming to their senses?

CNNs Soledad O’Brien Looks at Silicon Valley as the Next Promised Land

Business Motivation for Getting America Back to Work

The Biz Desk
Soledad O’Brien recently hosted her latest “In America” documentary series. This time the focus was on whether Silicon Valley, the hot-bed for technology innovation, is the next Promised Land for African-American entrepreneurs. The program features eight startup companies trying to raise venture capital investments in their businesses.

All the entrepreneurs are modern-day geniuses. But to get to the next level they had to make a:

  1. Change: – Some quit their job, left family behind or relocated to make it happen
  2. Choice:- The living arrangement probably wasn’t their first choice, of being under the same roof
  3. Challenge:- They went through some experiences that could have made them complain.

The same is true in today’s unstable economy. If you’re unemployed, maybe you have to make a change in the short-run to reap some “change” in the long-run. If you’re underemployed maybe you can choose to make a greater difference to raise your value. The challenge is in how you overcome the obstacles.

The Biz Desk invites you to post your comments below or you can send a personal note on Facebook or Twitter to @DocCunningham; on Linkedin to @DOCCommunications.

Work Life
O’Brien got the bug for journalism during a broadcast internship. She took some time-off from her education at Harvard but later returned to complete her studies. Many might remember her from her days as co-anchor on NBC’s Weekend Today. A few years into the assignment her co-host passed away suddenly while covering the Iraq war.

She later went on to become co-anchor for CNNs American Morning before establishing a niche in special news coverage and documentary reports. She’s being tapped again to anchor CNNs morning line-up. O’Brien has received awards too numerous to mention. Her professional accomplishments, probably guided by a statement of purpose, are a story in:

  • Getting in the game
  • Leverage your expertise
  • The right can-do attitude
  • Landing the perfect assignment

O’Brien has taken some issue with the fire-brand, personality-driven style of news coverage that puts “making news” as a priority over reporting the truth.

Life’s Work
In O’Brien’s autobiography “The Next Big Story,” she chronicles her American journey through the land of possibilities. She tells of her bi-racial upbringing and how that has “colored” her life. She remembers having to convince her bosses of the importance of certain stories even though they were not “sexy.”

That was among the first situations that helped to define her life’s work. Her experience covering Hurricane Katrina was also a turning point. It allowed her to see how she could make a lasting impact in the lives of young girls. Her foundation continues to provide scholarship and other mentoring resources.

Street Talk (Social Commentary driving change!)
The Super Committee in Congress has proven what most thought would happen. They weren’t able to agree on deficit reductions to the Federal budget. Each side is blaming the other for falling short. It’s true that automatic cuts will kick-in anyway. But it shows how Congress is out to lunch.

It seems like they’re operating with a “lose-lose” approach to governing. Each side is concerned about its own issue at the expense of the larger issue which is accountability. Who do they think they’re accountable to? Is it to special interest and the campaign money trail, or is it to the American people?

Small Business Saturday is Coming to a Local Store Near You

Business Motivation for Getting America Back to Work

The Biz Desk
Have you seen those ads for Small Business Saturday? It’s a campaign to encourage consumers to support small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. In its second year, the idea is a niche-cousin of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It recently attracted $1 million in investment from FedEx.

The campaign focuses on building:

  1. Awareness: – Getting consumers plugged-in to spending their money on Main Street
  2. Advantage:- Partnering with public, private and civic organizations to create leverage
  3. America:- Giving the economy a boost in areas that need it most.

Whether you’re unemployed, underemployed or self-employed, these tough economic times require that you use your expertise to build awareness and advantage on the job and in the marketplace. If that doesn’t get you going, then just think about how you can use your skills to build America.

The Biz Desk invites you to post your comments below or you can send a personal note on Facebook or Twitter to @DocCunningham; on Linkedin to @DOCCommunications.

Work Life
CNBCs Maria Bartiroma has established herself as the “Queen of Wall Street.” Her financial knowledge and insider access make her an influential player in what’s typically a man’s world. Bartiroma has written three books with the most recent entitled “The Weekend that Changed Wall Street.”

The book gives a layperson’s account of the events leading up to the financial meltdown. Interestingly, it reads like a novel that could easily be describing aspects of the professional journey. To go from Bust to Breakthrough in your career or business, you have to manage:

  • The tension of having “no shame in your game”
  • The confusion regarding your professional intangibles
  • The decision to build a diversified portfolio
  • The vision to raise your passion intensity

If you can handle your career/business with these concerns in mind you’ll be able to look back and write about the week or weekend that changed your professional life.

Life’s Work
Bartiroma got her start as a CNN Business News reporter. After five years she left to join CNBC where today she’s the anchor of Closing Bell. The show airs during the final two hours of Wall Street trading. She’s often credited with being the first journalist to report live from the Stock Exchange floor.

Her major in Journalism and minor in Business in essence make her life’s work about civic economics. She tries to relay civics lessons from her varied business experiences. Bartiroma has made her life’s work the coming-together of her formal training and professional calling.

Street Talk (Social Commentary driving change!)
The holiday season is fast approaching and some retailers are ramping-up. For many, between now and the end of the year they’ll make upwards of 30-40% of their annual revenue. With the current slowdown in the economy, it makes you wonder where people are going to find the money.

A few big-box retailers don’t seem worried. They plan to kickoff Black Friday holiday shopping at Midnight. But is it really that critical that we want to reduce the time spent with family to go shopping? Some will get what they’re looking for and others will get the credit squeeze or freeze coming to them.

President Obama Declares November as National Entrepreneurship Month

Business Motivation for Getting America Back to Work

The Biz Desk
President Obama recently issued a proclamation marking November as National Entrepreneurship Month. Two individuals who are happy about this are Howard Schultz and Alfa Demmellash. Schultz who is Starbucks’ CEO has launched the campaign CreateJobsforUSA.org. Demmellash is the founder of the Global Entrepreneurship Week, a grassroots business incubation initiative that’s gone global.

Both campaigns are committed to spawning new economic activity through:

  1. Job Creation: – Small businesses are the economic engine of new jobs in the marketplace
  2. Business Motivation:- It takes more than just an idea to build something from the ground, up
  3. Media Distribution:- They’re connecting with traditional and social media networks.

These efforts are striving to make an impact in local and global commerce. The Starbucks Foundation contributed five million dollars to jumpstart their effort. While Demmellash, an immigrant from Ethiopia, is an example of how the American Dream is not dead.

The Biz Desk invites you to post your comments below or you can send a personal note on Facebook or Twitter to @DocCunningham; on Linkedin to @DOCCommunications.

Work Life
Who knew that people would pay $5 for a cup of coffee? Howard Schultz had a hunch and has turned Starbucks into an international brand. After traveling to Milan Italy in 1983, he was impressed with the popularity of espresso coffee. By 1985 he launched his own company in the U.S. which would later buy Starbucks. Schultz’s story shows how like his coffee, “A Business Connection Can Make Cream Rise to the Top.” This provides a way for you to:

  • Maximize your professional calling
  • Become a shining star
  • Deliver satisfaction guaranteed

Now that he’s built the world’s largest coffee house franchise, Schultz is also working on other aspects of the company’s mission. They include responsible growing practices, caring for the environment and community involvement.

Life’s Work
In 2009, Alfa Demmellash was named among the CNN Heroes of “ordinary people making an extraordinary impact.” Her interest in entrepreneurship was as a result of seeing her mother being underpaid as a seamstress. Her mother had the dress-making skills but didn’t have the business skills.

Demmellash went on to study at Harvard and later started a Venture Capital and Business Incubation company. Much of her life’s work is about preparing small ‘Mom-and-Pops’ type businesses to compete in the mainstream. Having survived on little money growing up in Ethiopia, she focuses her efforts in underserved communities, including immigrants/refugees and other minority groups.

Street Talk (Social Commentary driving change!)
It was recently reported that the world population has reached 7 billion. Seemed like yesterday when we heard it hit 6 billion. The population growth is increasing in leaps and bounds, similar to how technology improvements cut speeds down from seconds to nanoseconds. So how is our human technology doing?

A Grand Jury report indicates that officials at Penn State University allowed young kids to be abused and kept silent. Maybe firing coach Paterno and the President was recognition that their moral compass could do with major fine-tuning. Is our understanding for human decency lagging behind the technology gains?

Elon Musk Sold Paypal to Venture into Space

Business Motivation for Getting America Back to Work

The Biz Desk
Who’ll be the first to land on Mars, China or the U.S.? The answer is another ten to twenty years out. But Elon Musk and Dr. Bernard A. Harris Jr. are two who’d be interested. Spacex, the company founded by Musk has been awarded the contract by NASA to make it happen. Dr. Harris knows about the stars as he was the first African-American Astronaut to walk in space.

No one knows if we’ll be around to see this history-making feat. One thing’s for sure, it’s going to take:

  1. Skill:- This means having more than just a ‘song and a dance’ or wishful thinking
  2. Will:- The motivation to succeed must be fueled by deep determination
  3. Thrill:- The thrill of victory tastes sweeter than the agony of defeats.

The current recession has caused some to stop looking for work. Others think where they are is not where they want to be. Maybe it’s time to use your skill, and will to experience a new thrill. Many success stories have come from people who went from feeling defeated to being celebrated.

The Biz Desk invites you to post your comments below or you can send a personal note on Facebook or Twitter to @DocCunningham; on Linkedin to

Work Life
Elon Musk is not a name many know. But you’ve seen his work before. He saw an opportunity for Internet marketing that led him to merge his tech company into what became Paypal. That company was later sold to eBay, some of the proceeds from which he used to launch Spacex. His success shows how ‘being first across the line or becoming best-in-class’ keeps you:

  • Employed for life
  • Wearing the business hat
  • Boosting your income
  • Experiencing happiness at work

Musk left South Africa as a teenager headed for Canada with little or no money. He believed in his ideas, stayed curious about new opportunities and was committed to a cause. These have taken his achievements to the edge of space, the edge of heaven and maybe even beyond his wildest dreams.

Life’s Work
Dr. Harris has since retired from NASA. He describes his new mission as helping others have the same opportunities he had growing up. His life’s work is focused on motivating youth in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). He wants to make a difference in their education.

Musk may be described as a Social Entrepreneur. He keeps one eye on making a profit and another eye on making a difference. Musk takes on causes that are bigger than just making money.

Street Talk (Social Commentary driving change!)
What’s the difference between the CEO of a company and the CEO of the United States? One depends on sales. The other depends on taxes. It seems more and more politicians are coming out with their own ‘tax plan’ these days. Well, it’s going to take more than that to get our country on the same page.

One CNN Analyst sees the political climate as being more ‘hate than fight.’  A Business Analyst sees it as more about ‘power than purpose.’ We might not agree on everything. But maybe citizens are looking for public and private officials to be leading with more of a sense of calling than a sense of entitlement.

Steve Jobs: The Greatest American CEO Ever?

Business Motivation for Getting America Back to Work

The Biz Desk
Over one million messages of condolences have poured-in to Apple. People are sharing how his ideas, products and vision impacted their lives. But some of his critics say he had a bruising leadership style.

The first authorized biography is already in stores. History shows how his success came from being:

  1. Perceptive:- He saw needs in the marketplace before others knew the need even existed
  2. Creative:- He took something familiar (like the phone) and made it fashionable
  3. Productive:- Think about the number of products Jobs developed during his ‘second act.’

That’s how you win in business even if you’re trying to go from unemployed to employed or underemployed to your own enterprise. The Biz Desk invites you
to post your comments below or you can send a personal note of reflection to rememberingsteve@apple.com.

Work Life
Steve Jobs had a major impact on how we use the computer, listen to music, interact with mobile communication devices and watch animated movies. When you “Think Like a CEO, Act Like You’re a Pro”™ you’ll know how to:

  • Reinvent yourself
  • Do what you love
  • Make the right impression
  • Network at work

These factors helped make Steve Jobs rich and famous. Trust and believe that they can do the same for the average Joe (or Jane) as well.

Life’s Work
How do you get fired from the company you co-founded? But that wasn’t the end of the story. He went on to achieve in ways that made him a legend. His legacy is seen in the products he marketed. Plus, many University Business Schools will examine case studies of his genius for years to come.

After being fired he started another company which was later bought-out by Apple. He then became the CEO, again. His life’s work shows how the right job,
business, career, or dream opportunity that’s meant for you will come back to you once you get over the job market blues or get over feeling sorry for yourself.

Street Talk (Social Commentary driving change!)
The “Occupy Wall Street” protests seem to have mixed support from regular folks. They’ve yet to develop a clear sense of purpose. President Obama recently said that the Wall Street financial collapse was as a result of people “gaming the system.” Maybe that’s what the fuss is really about?

If so, then some Politicians might be accused of doing the same thing. They seem more interested in getting re-elected than serving the people. No matter what kind of work you do, it should be less about gaming the system and more about expanding the system so that lots of people benefit along the way.