THROWBACK THURSDAY: First Worker’s Compensation Agreement

On Jan. 26, 1695, America’s first workman’s compensation agreement was drawn up by a pirate, Capt. William Kidd, who William Kiddhad legitimate business headquarters in London and New York. The agreement set forth the business terms of employment aboard the 787-ton Adventure Galley, which included that one-fourth of the booty captured be divided among the crew; and “If any man should Loose a Leg or Arm in ye said service, he should have six hundred pieces of Eight , or six able slaves; if any man should loose a joynt on ye said service, he should have a hundred pieces of Eight.”

Source: This Day in Business History by Raymond L. Francis

WEDNESDAY WORKFACT: Civil Servants in the U.S.

According to the most recent report from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), there are approximately 4,185,000 U.S. civil servants including executive branch civilians, uniformed military personnel, and legislative and judicial branch personnel.

Categories of U.S. Civil Service jobs include:

Foreign Affairs

Human Resources

Management Analysis

General Accounting and Administration

Budget Administration

Legal Counsel

Passport Visa Services

Public Affairs

Contract Procurement

Information Technology Management

Foreign Language and Professional Training

(Source: https://careers.state.gov/work/civil-service/job-categories and opm.gov)

TIP TUESDAY: 10 Tips on Decluttering Your Business

One of the fastest ways to business success is to declutter your business. When you get rid of the old, you make room for the new. When you close doors, new ones will open. Business goals will be accomplished. Creative ideas will flow. Nurturing relationships will flow. Money will be in abundant supply. All will be well in entrepreneurial life.

Last week we gave you the first five tips; here are the last five.

6. Declutter your Customer Base

Chances are you have customers you absolutely love to work with. And then there are probably a few who completely drain your energy. You probably have prospects sitting in your CRM software that you haven’t touched, or may never turn into real clients. One of the beauties of owning your own business is you get to choose who you are going to work with. Take an honest look at your customer base and identify your ideal client. Start building your list of clients based on these criteria so you can begin weeding out the customers that no longer fit your business vision. Nothing will energize you more than waking up every day excited to serve your customers.

7. Declutter your Team

What business team would absolutely inspire you to be your best? What types of people will help bring your business to the next level? Your team, or lack of, will have a significant impact on your business success. Many business owners experience tremendous stress every year due to inadequate team members. While you cannot function successfully with a team that drags you down, it will also be difficult to fly solo with no support. Make it a goal to find and hire talent that will help you accomplish your business goals, not block them.

8. Declutter your Life

If there is clutter in your life, it will inevitably roll into your business. Personal stressors will distract you and keep you from being fully present. Pay attention to what drags you down and zaps your energy. Is it a marriage that needs work, or a child that could benefit from some much-needed attention? Make time for fun in your social life. Nurture your hobbies. Engage with people who lift you up, make you laugh and challenge you to be your best self. Your business will benefit when you allow your personal life to feed your soul. 

9. Declutter your Health

It takes physical and mental energy to be an entrepreneur. Without your health, you can’t run a business. The stressors of small business ownership will take their toll on you if you aren’t engaged in a healthy lifestyle program. We all know what it takes to tend to our health – adequate sleep, healthy food, and plenty of exercise and relaxation. So, if you aren’t doing this, ask yourself why. What’s standing in the way of making yourself a priority?

10. Declutter your Mind

The amazing result of decluttering all these other areas is an automatic clearing of the mind. You will be surprised to see how much better you feel mentally when you tend to all the clutter in your life. The reverse also works as well. When you declutter your mind from all the negative thinking, gossiping, anger and self-destructive habits, you open space to start removing all the junk from your business and life. Engage in a spiritual practice like yoga or meditation, walks in nature, or prayer. Let it all go. Create a mental phrase that will remind you to declutter your mind; i.e., “Go with the flow,” “It’s not the end of the world” or “Let it be.”

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Who-What-Where-When-Why Was the Office Cubicle Created?

Cubed bookIn his book, Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace (Doubleday, 2014), Nikil Saval quoted designer Geroge Nelson as saying, “One does not have to be an especially perceptive critic to realize that {this} is definitely not a system which produces an environment gratifying for people in general. But it is admirable for planners looking for ways of cramming in a maximum number of bodies, for ’employees’ (as against individuals), for ‘personnel,’ corporate zombies, the walking dead, the silent majority.” Whatever type of office you reside in, you might find these facts about “the cube” interesting.

1. Though Europeans referred to “Mad Men”-style offices as American plan, it was actually two German brothers, Wolfgang and Eberhard Schnelle who in 1958 dreamed up the first open-plan office, calling it Bürolandschaft, or “office landscape.” They designed the free-form layout that kept the idea of offices around the perimeter, but added “informal break areas, elegant plants and carpet!,” in the words of one architectural historian, and arranged desks not in straight rows, but in a free-flowing pattern with groupings based on how people worked. The key attractions? Flexibility and low expense, just as they are for managers today.

2. The person who invented the forerunner of today’s cubicle was an art professor with patents in playground equipment, heart valves and livestock-tagging machine.

Also in 1958, the Herman Miller Company hired a man named Robert Propst to help the company think beyond office furniture and expand its business into design for other industries. His first project was a rethinking of individual employees’ personal space. By interviewing workers, doctors, psychologists and industrial relations experts, Propst developed an early prototype in 1964 of what he called the “Action Office,” the forerunner to the cubicle.

3. Workers actually liked the early concept of the cubicle and, ironically, saw it as liberating.

Once released, the Action Office received rave reviews from designers and the popular press. Though the first concept didn’t sell, it was seen as a liberation of sorts. The Action Office received rave reviews from both designers and the popular press. “Seeing office cubiclethese designs,” Saval quotes the publication Industrial Design as saying, “one wonders why office workers have put up with their incompatible, unproductive, uncomfortable environment for so long.”

4. The first cubicle was not a square with 90-degree angles.

After the first concept was a bust on the market, Propst created a smaller system of office furniture with interlocking walls that were mobile, lighter and made of disposable materials. The Action Office II looks more like the cubicle we know today, but it wasn’t designed to be locked into a square position. The three walls were obtusely angled and movable so that employees could customize their own workspaces.

In brochures, the half-hexagonal walls are peppered with tack-boards, maps and other displays. (1960s workers must have liked cubicle flair, too!) But in the original pamphlet promoting the new design, Propst “was unable to imagine a world in which [his designs] might be perverted to unfathomable ends,” Saval writes. “His optimism would be his undoing.”

5. The tax code is partly to blame for the cubicle’s spread.

The federal government played a role in expanding the “popularity” (if you can call it that!). Saval writes, “the Treasury in the 1960s made a slight but powerfully significant change in the tax code, making it easier for companies to write off depreciating assets. A shorter shelf life was established for furniture and equipment, while more permanent features of buildings had a longer range.”

7. The CEO-in-a-cubicle trend may have started with Intel’s Andy Grove.

Saval says the first company to implement Herman Miller’s cubicles was an architecture firm known as JFN. But the most famous, he says, was Intel. Like other Silicon Valley companies, Intel adopted cubicles not because it pretended those three walls were “a great place to be; instead, it pretended that it could foster an egalitarian work environment by insisting that even the staff of upper management work in cubicles, that there should be no ‘mahogany tower.'”Andy Grove, the company’s legendary CEO, himself sat in a cubicle, a symbolic move that has become popular: Zappos’ Tony Hsieh,  Morningstar’s Joe Mansueto sit in cubicles; Meg Whitman was famous for having one at eBay and moved her topoffice bathroom execs at HP out of their offices and back to cubicles.

9. Half of Americans said they thought their bathroom was bigger than their cubicle.

The corporate world of the 1980s and early 1990s — one of corporate raiders, massive layoffs and cost-cutting trends — radically changed the image of the cubicle. As companies merged, shrank and “de-layered” their middle management ranks, the cubicle was no longer associated with anything liberating. Making things worse, these little boxes were getting smaller in size. A BusinessWeek editorial Saval cites revealed that the average cubicle downsized by as much as 50 percent during the mid-1980s and mid-1990s. By 2006, the average cubicle measured 75 feet square. Saval also cites a 2007 press release that showed many Americans thought where they used the toilet was bigger than where they worked.

TIP TUESDAY: 10 Tips on Decluttering Your Business

Clutter comes in so many forms, but it all has the same effect – it takes up valuable space for creativity. It thwarts business growth because clutter attracts more clutter. If you want to see a burst in your business, your energy and your resourcefulness, start clearing space by eliminating clutter.

Here are the first five tips for you to consider; we’ll publish the other five next week.

1. Declutter your Scheduleclutter calendar

To start the process of decluttering, you will need to clear space in your schedule to dedicate some time to it. Set aside four hours per week to focus on clearing out all the disorganization and energy drains. If you can’t find four hours in your schedule, then it’s time to take a serious look at how you are managing your time. What meetings can you cut out or cut down? What tasks can you delegate to someone else? What time wasters do you need to eliminate? Decluttering your schedule will enable you to take the next step.


2. Declutter your Spaceclutter desk

Look around the space you are working in – your office, your vehicle and maybe your home. Is it nurturing you? Can you find what you are looking for? If not, it’s time to clean up. Having an organized space boosts your productivity, inspires trust with people you work with, and opens your imagination for new ideas. Create a visual of how you want your space to look. Take into consideration the flow of your workday. Keep “stuff” to a minimum and enclose as much as possible in files, storage cabinets or on your computer.

3. Declutter your Files

Speaking of files, when was the last time you cleaned out your filing cabinets? After taking the time to clean out my personal files, I decided it was time to go completely digital with my work files. Paperwork has a way of growing into monstrous piles. Since putting all my notes, documents, and to do lists in OneNote, I have everything in one organized place. Pick some type of filing system that works for you so you can find everything you need when you need it.

clutter email4. Declutter your Email

One prospect I spoke with was looking for a virtual assistant to organize and manage his emails. On a videoconference, he showed me his email software and I was completely overwhelmed with the thought of sorting through the 3000+ emails on his computer. And truth be told, he was distressed as well. To get your email life in order, start with setting up folders and get in the habit of storing new emails in the folders as they come in. Then dedicate some time to organizing the older emails. You can sort by date and file everything older then 6 months – 1 year in an archives folder. You can sort by email name and file everything by name. While you are sorting through what should be saved, do a bulk dump of all junk and promotional emails. You might not think that email needs to be decluttered, but every time you open email your brain is trying to sort through what it sees.

5. Declutter your Finances

Finances are a stressful topic for many small business owners. And managing finances is probably one of the tasks that is most avoided. Staying on top of your finances is crucial to business growth. It gives you a hard look at the numbers. What are your sales for the year? Is your business profitable? How much money are you earning? What are your expenses? Unless your finances are up-to-date daily, it is difficult to make appropriate financial decisions for your business. Get your business on financial software that enables you to easily and seamlessly manage your business finances. Hire a bookkeeper or virtual assistant with bookkeeping experience to keep everything organized for you.