The fast food giant is changing its sourcing policies
McDonald’s new CEO, Steve Easterbrook, has pledged to reform the world’s largest restaurant chain into a “modern, progressive burger company.” He has taken a major step in that direction with today’s announcement that McDonald’s will stop selling chicken treated with antibiotics that are also used in drugs prescribed to humans. The overuse of those antibiotics is likely a major cause of the rise of “super bugs” that increasingly resist such drugs. Public-health advocates are hailing McDonald’s announcement as a major victory.
The phase-out will occur over the next two years, as McDonald’s works with its suppliers, which include the meatpacking giant Tyson Foods. Chickens used by McDonald’s will still be treated with antibiotics that aren’t used in medicine for humans.
Easterbrook started his new job just three days ago. This move is clearly intended to set the tone for his tenure as he takes on the massive challenges McDonald’s is facing.
A big part of that challenge is to revamp the company’s image. Mainly thanks to its size, McDonald’s is often made the whipping-boy for the ills of corporate America, and particularly the food industry. In any discussion of our unhealthy diets or our growing wealth disparities, it’s a safe bet that McDonald’s will come up, often along with Wal-Mart.
The decision on antibiotics, though, shows that McDonald’s still enjoys formidable industrial power. Few institutions can dictate terms to the powerful meatpacking industry, but that’s essentially what McDonald’s is doing here. And it means that other meat buyers will likely follow suit.
When it comes to chicken in particular, Chik-fil-A, as the country’s largest buyer of chicken, has even more clout. It announced a year ago that over the following five years, it would stop buying chicken raised with antibiotics of any kind.
The number of bacterial infections that resist antibiotics has leaped in recent years, with more than 2 million reported each year. About 23,000 people die from the infections. Public-health experts have long warned that the use of antibiotics in livestock is the main culprit.
Read next: 5 Reasons Why McDonald’s Will Win in 2015
How should boards and fellow executives come to terms with colleagues who have fallen victim to imperial presumption?
When I was consulting the board of a major financial firm years ago, I was astounded to see the directors, including former heads of state along with CEOs of other companies, served on paper plates with plastic forks while the CEO was served on fine China and silver—for “dietary” reasons.
Sandy Weill, when he ran Shearson, had a fireplace built into his 106th floor office in the World Trade Center in the 1970s. During his next three positions, at American Express, Primerica, and Citigroup, he had fireplaces installed in each skyscraper tower office.
James Dutt, as CEO of Beatrice, required that his photo be hung in each staffer’s office—as 40 of the 58 corporate officers departed during his failed six-year reign. Armand Hammer, as CEO of Occidental Petroleum, displayed a life-size bronze statue of himself in the corporate lobby. This past year, we have seen even more alarming examples of imperial conduct across a wide slice of enterprises.
Our society is ambivalent toward top business leaders. CEOs are worshipped as rock stars, if not nearly deified. They are dragon slayers one moment and the next moment vilified as the very dragons they presumably conquered. Most chief executives I have met, however deservedly proud they may be, are serious, devoted leaders who possess a grounded sense of their own vital roles. They generally show a humble appreciation of the contributions of their executive team and their shared responsibilities to shareholders, customers, coworkers, and communities. In fact, they are almost too quick to attribute their hard-earned triumphs to sheer good fortune. But then there are those prominent few in every era who have given way to eye-popping grandiosity, presumption, and arrogance.
How should boards and fellow CEOs come to terms with outlier CEO colleagues who have fallen victim to imperial presumption? These leaders believe the rules do not apply to them. They see themselves as transcendent, “more equal than other animals,” akin to the barnyard leaders in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. I studied this pathology in my book, The Hero’s Farewell. Boards, embarrassed by such rogue leaders—or feeling dependent upon them—whither in prolonged, uncomfortable deliberations before acting.
Consider the example of the three amigos of retail: American Apparel’s Dov Charney; Abercrombie & Fitch’s Michael Jeffries; and Lululemon’s Chip Wilson. Each presided over years of sinking market performance, soaring salaries, and conduct as bizarre as it was offensive.
Despite hundreds of millions in losses, Charney proudly strut his stuff, posing in nothing but his own underwear in American Apparel ads and reportedly once led a meeting wearing nothing other than a sock, not on his foot. He was accused of sexually harassing multiple employees, including arranging for the online posting of nude photos of three of his accusers as retaliation. Charney was charged in lawsuits of rubbing dirt in the face of a Malibu store manager while screaming obscenities at him.
In 1992, the notoriously autocratic Jeffries revived the 113 year-old brand name Abercrombie and Fitch from bankruptcy. However, 15 years later, he was anointed by The Corporate Library as “The Highest Paid, Worst Performer” in the nation after he was paid $71.8 million for faltering performance. Seemingly gleeful over sequential PR backfires, Jeffries claimed he only wanted to market to “cool, good looking people. We don’t want to market to anyone other than that.” Abercrombie’s ads generally displayed far more of the toned flesh of its young models than the featured apparel. He hired male models for company roles that went beyond advertising.
Wilson told Canada’s National Post Business Magazine that he named his company Lululemon because he thought it was funny that Japanese people had trouble pronouncing the letter “L.” Wilson also spoke out over use of child labor in the Third World, in favor of the practice. An avid Ayn Rand fan, as chairman, he printed the name John Galt, the star of one the author’s books, on the company’s bags, without informing the company’s CEO. The company endured a massive recall of their yoga pants when it turned out they were unexpectedly see-through. Responding to complaints from women customers regarding the pilling of Lululemon’s pants, Wilson blamed the fabric‘s poor wear on the overweight physique of those customers.
Less grotesque personal indiscretions at work have felled respected CEOs like Mark Hurd while at HP and Harry Stonecipher at Boeing. According to The Wall Street Journal, Louis Chenevert’s successful six year reign as CEO of United Technologies came to an abrupt end in late 2014 over board concerns regarding the executive’s excessive attention to personal interests such as the oversight of the Taiwan construction of his 110-foot yacht. He apparently devoted similar attention to the construction of his 63-foot and 85-foot yachts.
We could add the narcissistic conduct of many elected U.S. Officials to this list, including the misdirection of public funds for personal luxuries by governors across parties, the reckless, even abusive, treatment of staffers, and the bizarre emails and Tweets to constituents.
It is simplistic to apply labels such as greed, vanity, or immorality to explain such grandiose behavior. No, these leaders have demonstrated a trait unfortunately common among people in positions of power: the drive for heroic stature. In addition to having a commitment to a mission or a desire to establish a meaningful legacy, heroic stature is just one of several hallmarks of transformational leaders. But this particular quality is most often distorted and poorly managed. When you trace the careers and even childhoods of top leaders, most display a lifelong drive for a distinctive identity, something that distinguishes them from the crowd. The priority placed on the perquisites of executive status, such as chauffeur-driven limos, personal jets, platoons of administrative assistants, and corner offices with luxury furnishings—without or without fireplaces—is all too common.
No one ever called Alexander III of Macedon Alexander the Great until he invented the title himself and manufactured a false lineage that connected him to the mythic Achilles and Odysseus. In the Frenzy of Renown, literary scholar Leo Braudy argues that societies generate a subset of people eager to live their lives in the public eye. Some court recognition on a grand scale in the belief that fame will somehow exempt them from the often suffocating expectations and standards that come with executive jobs.
The disappearance of a heroic platform can be disconcerting to leaders. In 1983, Gerald Ford hosted a gathering of former chiefs of state of who all voluntarily “retired.” As they reminisced, former UK Prime Minister James Callaghan commented, “I had to pinch myself and almost pinch the rest of them to remind ourselves that we were no longer in power.” France’s former president Valery Giscard D’Estang replied to a reporter who asked how he now felt, “How does it feel? It feels the same way you feel when you write a story that does not get in the paper.”
Leaders can use their platform to direct public attention to key issues and promote important measures. Heroic stature imbues executives with the kind of authority that encourages people to support their ideas and strategies. But such authority can get out of hand very fast. And company boards, even those with truly independent directors, are all too often intimidated and embarrassed to take action. Nevertheless, boards can respect a CEO’s heroic stature without yielding to intolerable autocratic presumptions.
A company board’s compensation committee, if not the full board, should determine which perks are acceptable symbols of authority and which ones are simply wasteful expressions of vanity. And the nominating and governance committee should ensure that they have a good lock on strong successor candidates so they do not feel they are held hostage by the incumbent. Sometimes, CEOs simply offer up questionable candidates on paper that no one could really see as legitimate successors, what in Victorian literature could be called “beards,” or non-threatening escorts. It’s up to directors to root this kind of behavior out at the very beginning. Ultimately, good corporate governance does not mean giving control to the CEO or the board but establishing a working partnership. This requires agreeing to share power, from start to finish.
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld is Senior Associate Dean for Executive Programs and Lester Crown Professor in the Practice of Management at the Yale School of Management
This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.
“Are you smart? Are you going to waste my time?”
“The first time we met he walked into the room, looked around, realized that I was new, walked up to me and asked (all in one breath), “Are you smart? Do you know what you are talking about? Are you going to waste my time?”
So begins Brett Bilbrey’s 715-word response to the question “What was it like to deliver a presentation to Steve Jobs?” on the crowd-sourced Q&A site Quora.
It’s a response that has drawn some attention—315,000 views, 4,800 upvotes—since it was posted last month because Bilbrey was not just any third-party developer pitching a new app. He was a prolific Apple inventor and a key team manager whose name appears on more than 50 patents and whose engineers developed, among other products, Apple TV and the Mac Mini. From 2008 until his retirement in February he headed the company’s top-secret Technology Advancement Group charged with developing forward-looking technology for products of which he cannot speak.
But he can talk about what it was like to deal with a notoriously difficult boss.
Steve was wicked smart,” he writes. “I was always amazed at how sharp he was and how quickly he could focus on what was important. I don’t know ANYONE that even comes close to how good he was at being able to do that.”
Heaven on earth
The latest competitor to Dominique Ansel’s cronut has arrived.
London artisan bakery Foxcroft & Ginger will start selling on Friday the “cruffin,” a hybrid croissant-donut pastry, Business Insider reported Wednesday. The cruffins are hand-folded in-house with French butter and a “secret sourdough mix,” and then baked into a muffin shape with fillings such as chocolate ganache, custard and jam.
Foxcroft & Ginger isn’t the first to unveil the cruffin, though. Mr. Holmes Bakehouse in San Francisco, for example, already has its own cruffin, and it’s so popular the bakery says someone may have stolen their recipe. Other outlets have tried to cash in on the hybrid pastry craze, with chains like Dunkin’ Donuts offering a croissant-donut pastry.
Aim to meet a few people and begin a meaningful dialogue
You arrive alone. Your heart is beating a little faster than normal and suddenly all of your charisma and charm go out the window. You try to lock eyes with someone so that you can find a temporary home in what can feel like a sea of strangers. But everyone looks happily engaged in conversation.
While this might sound like your experience at a middle school dance, it’s also what many people feel when they enter a networking event. These are completely natural reactions, even for the biggest extroverts. The great news is that people go to these events to meet strangers, so you’re in the same position as everyone else. Here are 17 helpful tips for navigating a networking event and making the most of your time there:
- Find the bar! Whether or not you’re drinking, it’s always a great idea to position yourself at the edge of the bar. Many people run for the bar when they get to a networking event in order to get a short respite from an overwhelming entrance. If you position yourself a few steps from the bar, you can easily strike up a conversation as people turn with drink in hand.
- Be yourself. Networking events are meant as jumping-off points for relationship building. If you can’t be yourself, you’ll be starting off these new relationships with a lie. Don’t try to be the person you think others want to meet. Be genuine. The people you connect with when you are authentic are the ones you’ll want to stay in touch with.
- Set reasonable expectations. When attending an event, understand what you are there to do. Is your goal to feel out a new organization and get to know the vibe? Is it to meet five new people? Is it to meet one or two specific people? These are all reasonable expectations and it takes a little pre-planning to set these goals.
- Don’t spread yourself too thin. Start by spreading a large net to test out a handful of organizations and then commit yourself to a only a few as time goes on. You want to become a staple at these events. When you bounce around to too many events where no one knows you, you’re doing yourself a disservice by having to build your brand from scratch in each environment. You’ll also find that networking is a lot more fun when you become a regular. People will sing your praises to new attendees (this is always better than you doing it yourself) and you’ll see lots of familiar faces.
- Take notes. When you ask for someone’s card after having a great conversation, take notes on their business card after they walk away or immediately after the event. This will help you to be more specific in your follow-up.
- Introduce yourself to the organizer. A great way to get to know more about an organization and who is involved is to seek out the event organizer and introduce yourself. He/she can then help point you in the right direction and can introduce you to other attendees to get you off on the right foot.
- Treat people like friends. Would you go to a friend, interrupt his/her conversation, hand over a business card, talk about yourself and then walk away? Of course not. Treat new networking relationships as you’d treat your friendships. Build rapport and trust that business will happen.
- Ask great questions. The only way to get to know someone else is to ask them genuine and thoughtful questions. It’s always best to walk away from a conversation having allowed the other person to speak more than you did. Not only will they feel great about the conversation, but you’ll have gotten to know a lot about him/her, helping you plan and execute your follow-up more thoughtfully.
- Sharing is caring. This is no less true now than it was in kindergarten. If you are willing to share your contacts and resources, others will be more likely to help you as well. Develop a sincerity in your giving nature without expectation of something in return.
- Consider their network. When meeting people, it’s important to remember that even if they can’t help you directly, someone in their network probably can.
- Treat connecting like a puzzle. If you’re asking great questions and considering how you can help others, you’ll naturally start to draw connections between who you are talking to and others in your network. Offer to make these connections! Perhaps they are two people who have the same target client industry, or maybe you know that a contact of yours is looking for the service the other provides. Encourage both parties to follow up with you after they meet so that you can hear what came of their interaction. It will not only pay dividends for you, it will also help you hone your matchmaking skills.
- Don’t be a card spammer. The closest thing to you throwing all of your business cards away is handing them out to anyone and everyone you meet without them asking. If you haven’t built enough rapport with someone to encourage them to ask for your card, don’t offer one.
- Be specific. The more specific you can be about what you do and what others can do to help you (if they ask), the better. Tell them the names of a few specific companies you’re looking to work with.
- Ask yourself why they should care. Consider why the person you’re speaking to should care about what you’re saying. Craft your conversations accordingly. You only have a short time to make an impression, so try to make it favorable.
- Be engaged. Keep eye contact with your conversation partner. Nod your head and tilt your body towards them when you’re speaking. These small cues go a long way towards making them feel like you care, which helps you to build rapport and trust: the foundation on which you can later do business.
- Do NOT “work the room.” Don’t try to meet as many people as possible in a room; focus on making just a few solid connections. People can sense when you’re simply speaking with them to grab their card and go. These short interactions will not be memorable and therefore work against you. Aim to meet a few people and begin a meaningful dialogue.
- Don’t be afraid to join in. There is nothing wrong with joining a conversation and waiting for a natural break in the chatter to introduce yourself. In most cases, the people who are already speaking will enjoy the interruption because it gives them a chance to meet someone new. If you sense that you’ve entered into a serious discussion, it’s okay to politely excuse yourself.
Now you’re prepared to rock your next networking event and hopefully build some meaningful relationships in the process. And remember; do talk to strangers!
Stop working at 55? Fat chance
First, the good news: After creeping up incrementally since the 1980s, the average retirement age seems to have leveled off — at least, for men. The bad news: It’s probably later than you want to hear, and women’s average retirement age will probably continue to rise.
New research from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College says that, as of 2013, the average retirement age for men was 64, and roughly 62 for women.
Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research and author of the new study, says financial incentives to delay drawing Social Security, the shift from pensions to 401(k)s and the unavailability of Medicare until the age of 65 all are part of the reason behind the increase.
The recession and its aftermath yielded two more counterbalancing trends: Many older Americans delayed retirement after their 401(k)s shrunk, but others who were laid off had a hard time reentering the workforce.
This isn’t the situation any longer, Munnell says. “By 2015, the cyclical effects have worn off,” she says. “The impact of the various factors that contributed towards working longer… largely have played themselves out,” she says.
At least, this is the case for men. “Male labor force participation has leveled off and, consequently, so has the average retirement age,” Munnell says.
Things are a little different for working women, whose historical retirement trends vary from men’s because women didn’t start entering the workforce in large numbers until the second half of the 20th century.
“Women’s [labor force] participation seems to have increased,” Munnell says. “This upward shift in the curves is reflected in the recent upward trend in the average retirement age.”
And this trajectory towards a later retirement is likely to continue, at least for a while, she says. “I think that it will continue to increase until it becomes very close to the average for men.”
But aside from the chance to earn a bigger Social Security benefit and shore up your nest egg, Munnell says there are advantages to the economy if more people keep working longer, calling this an “unambiguously positive” trend.
“The more people who are working, the bigger the GDP pie and the more output available for both workers and retirees,” she says.
All of the 10 best states had unemployment rates below the national unemployment rate in 2013
While the United States was founded on the principle of equality for all people, the 50 states are decidedly unequal in providing opportunities for business. For companies choosing to locate in the United States, deciding the state in which to base their operations can be very difficult.
To determine America’s best states for business, 24/7 Wall St. identified nearly 50 measures that contribute to the business climate and reviewed them in each of the 50 states. The measures were classified into eight larger categories that independently measured various risks and benefits of doing business in each state. (Click here for a complete methodology.)
The health of a state’s economy, the result of a confluence of factors, is perhaps the most important consideration for businesses choosing a location. The growth of economic output in 2013 in seven of the 10 best states for business was greater than the national GDP growth rate of 1.8%.
Another indication of a healthy economy, the job market, was also strong in the 10 best states for business. All of the 10 states had unemployment rates below the national unemployment rate of 7.4% in 2013. Four of the worst states for business had unemployment rates that exceeded the national rate.
However, while a state’s economy is tied to a host of factors, not all factors benefit businesses in the same way. The business climate in some states was more favorable to companies primarily concerned with minimizing the costs and risks of operating a business. These states, which include North Dakota, Wyoming, and Texas, tended to enjoy ample natural resources, low cost of living, and low regulation.
Some states benefit from a well-educated and highly skilled labor force. They are able to attract businesses that require these skills, such as professional and business services, health and education services, and information. In return, these businesses drive economic growth in these states through technology and innovation. These states include Massachusetts, Virginia, and Minnesota.
While it is emphasized more in some industries than in others, a low cost of doing business is a major reason to choose to operate in a particular state. The average cost of goods and services in six of the best states for business was lower than the national average. This was generally driven by beneficial tax climates, lower expenses from utilities and real estate, and lower average employee compensations.
Although the type and size of operating costs vary considerably between industries, wages are a major expense for many businesses. The average wage and salary in three of the 10 best states for business was roughly inline with the national average of $50,012 in 2013, while in five other states, average wages were below the national figure.
While lower wages lower the cost of doing business, they are also frequently tied to jobs with lower educational attainment. Among the five best states for business with lower than average wages, three had lower educational attainment rates than the national figure. In these states, including North Dakota and Wyoming, the prevalence of industries that require high-skilled labor was also relatively low.
Nevertheless, the percent of STEM jobs in a majority of the best states for business — jobs related to science, technology, engineering, or mathematics — was generally high. At least one in five of all jobs in eight of the 10 best states for business were STEM jobs. On the other hand, the percent of jobs in STEM fields was relatively low in the worst states for business.
In addition to a highly-educated labor force, access to capital can also drive innovation in a state. In 2013, 13.26 venture capital deals were made per 1 million Americans. In seven of the worst states for business, there were fewer than three such deals per 1 million residents. In the best states, on the other hand, investments were far more likely. In Massachusetts, there were 57 venture capital deals made per 1 million state residents, by far the highest nationwide.
These are the best (and worst) states for business.
The Best States for Business
> Real GDP growth, 2012-2013: 2.8% (13th highest)
> Average wages and salaries, 2013: $49,222 (14th highest)
> Pct. of adults with bachelor’s degree, 2013: 33.5% (10th highest)
> Patents issued to residents, 2013: 4,292 (9th highest)
> Projected working-age population growth, 2010-2020: 1.7% (9th highest)
Based on eight categories, including 47 measures, Minnesota is the 10th best state for business in the country. Informing the state’s high quality of life rank, just 8.2% of Minnesotans did not have health insurance in 2013, the fifth lowest rate nationwide. Also, the state was one of the safest, with a violent crime rate of 223.2 reported incidents per 100,000 people, among the lowest rates in the nation.
The state also received one of the highest scores for Infrastructure. Compared with other states, Minnesota businesses can also expect relatively well functioning transportation system. For example, just 11.5% of the state’s bridges were deemed structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, the lowest rate nationwide and less than half the national percentage of 24.3%. Businesses in the state also have the benefit of a relatively well-educated workforce. More than one-third of adults had at least a bachelor’s degree versus less than 30% of Americans. And 92.4% of state adults had completed at least high school as of 2013, the fourth highest rate in the country.
9. North Dakota
> Real GDP growth, 2012-2013: 9.7% (the highest)
> Average wages and salaries, 2013: $46,775 (20th highest)
> Pct. of adults with bachelor’s degree, 2013: 27.1% (20th lowest)
> Patents issued to residents, 2013: 111 (2nd lowest)
> Projected working-age population growth, 2010-2020: 0.4% (2nd lowest)
North Dakota’s oil boom has spurred strong growth throughout the state’s industries, in residents’ personal incomes, and in employment. Less than 3% of the workforce was unemployed in 2013, the lowest in the country. As a consequence of the high levels of investment and spending in the state, North Dakota’s GDP grew nearly 10% in 2013. While this was by far the highest growth rate nationwide and more than five times the national growth rate of 1.8%, growth may slow considerably if oil prices continue to fall.
In addition to high wages and job opportunities, residents benefit from a relatively low cost of living. In 2013, the cost of housing required 26% of a typical household income, the second-lowest median annual affordability ratio nationwide. As in other states with a low cost of living, North Dakota also had a healthy infrastructure. Partly as a result, workers in the state benefited from an average commute time of less than 18 minutes, versus the national figure of nearly 26 minutes. It was the third lowest commute time in the country.
> Real GDP growth, 2012-2013: 0.1% (3rd lowest)
> Average wages and salaries, 2013: $53,267 (10th highest)
> Pct. of adults with bachelor’s degree, 2013: 36.1% (6th highest)
> Patents issued to residents, 2013: 1,886 (21st highest)
> Projected working-age population growth, 2010-2020: 7.5% (21st highest)
Virginia’s large capacity for innovation, and high quality labor force helped make it the eighth best state for business. The Old Dominion State scored in the top 10 of states for the percentage of STEM jobs — jobs related to science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. More than 36% of adults in the state had completed at least a bachelor’s degree, which helped strengthen the labor force. The state also fared very well for its business-friendly regulatory environment, its relatively low poverty rate, and its comparatively low energy costs.
What held Virginia back from an even higher overall ranking was its weak infrastructure, which was ranked lowest among the states. Residents had one of the longest average commuting times of 27.7 minutes, and the state spent among the least per mile on road repair. Virginia also struggled with weak real GDP growth, 0.1% in 2013, third lowest in the country.
> Real GDP growth, 2012-2013: 3.8% (6th highest)
> Average wages and salaries, 2013: $51,537 (11th highest)
> Pct. of adults with bachelor’s degree, 2013: 37.8% (2nd highest)
> Patents issued to residents, 2013: 2,793 (14th highest)
> Projected working-age population growth, 2010-2020: 8.6% (14th highest)
Colorado’s business climate is among the best in the country largely due to a strong labor market and an especially strong and innovative technology sector. These features are interwoven as a highly educated workforce is essential for innovation. Nearly 38% of adults in Colorado had at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, the second highest rate nationwide. As of that year, 14% of adults had completed a graduate or professional degree, a higher percentage than in all but a handful of states. The state’s population is projected to grow by 13.4% from 2010 through 2020 versus an estimated national growth rate of 7.1%, which also contributes to a strong labor market. Nearly 22% of all jobs in Colorado were STEM positions, the seventh highest proportion in the country.
> Real GDP growth, 2012-2013: 3.7% (8th highest)
> Average wages and salaries, 2013: $50,643 (13th highest)
> Pct. of adults with bachelor’s degree, 2013: 27.5% (23rd lowest)
> Patents issued to residents, 2013: 9,222 (2nd highest)
> Projected working-age population growth, 2010-2020: 16.1% (2nd highest)
Like a majority of the best states for business, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s rated Texas’ credit among the best in the nation. The Lone Star State also led the states in the value of exported goods, which totalled nearly $1.9 trillion in 2012. There were also 386 public use airports, the most in the nation. Curiously, while Texas had the third most post-secondary schools in the nation at 420 in 2013, it actually had the second lowest percentage of adults who had completed at least high school, at 81.9%. Texas benefits considerably from its abundant natural resources. For example, the mining industry accounted for 11.1% of the state’s GDP in 2013, the sixth highest such contribution in the country. Other kinds of businesses do not do particularly well in Texas. The information, finance-insurance-real-estate, professional and business service industries contributed relatively little to the state’s GDP.
> Real GDP growth, 2012-2013: 1.6% (20th lowest)
> Average wages and salaries, 2013: $51,093 (12th highest)
> Pct. of adults with bachelor’s degree, 2013: 29.8% (19th highest)
> Patents issued to residents, 2013: 453 (15th lowest)
> Projected working-age population growth, 2010-2020: 8.9% (15th lowest)
Based on several factors, Delaware’s regulatory climate was the most favorable nationwide for business. With high percentages of tech workers and strong independent investments, Delaware is also among the best states for innovation. More than 21% of all jobs in the state were STEM jobs, the eighth highest proportion in the country. The average venture capital investment of nearly $14.2 million per deal in 2013 — the second highest such figure nationwide — also reflects the high level of innovation and easy access to capital in the state.
Not so strong was Delaware’s infrastructure, which rated worse than most states. However, the consequence for businesses may be relatively small as businesses are concentrated in industries not especially dependent on transportation. For example, the financial industry, in which goods and services are relatively intangible, accounted for 42.1% of state GDP in 2013, the highest such contribution nationwide.
For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.
Gas prices have rebounded a bit, but they remain low enough to kill the cost-saving argument for buying a plug-in electric car like the Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt.
Thanks to the dramatic decline in prices at the pump, the average American household is expected to spend $750 less on gas in 2015 than it did last year. We’ve already seen how some of this “saved” money is being spent, what with restaurants, casinos, hotels, and recreational activities all seeing a bump in business lately. Cheap gas seems to have affected big-ticket purchase decisions as well, exhibited most obviously by the spike in SUV and luxury car sales.
It’s an entirely different story, however, when it comes to the impact of cheap gas on electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf. Nissan just released its February numbers, and sales for the brand were up 1.1% compared with last year. Sales of the all-electric Leaf, however, were down 16%. That follows on the heels of a 15% decrease in January, the first such sales decline for the Leaf in two years. Overall Leaf sales dropped from 2,677 for the first two months of 2014 to 2,268 this year.
The recent sales performance of the Chevrolet Volt, the gas-electric pioneer that has been vying with the Leaf for the title of most popular plug-in among buyers, has been even worse. January was the worst month for the Volt since August 2011, with only 592 units sold, a decrease of 41% compared with January 2014. According to General Motors data, 693 Volts sold in February 2015, a drop of 43% compared with 1,210 the year before.
Surely, the prospect of new Chevy plug-in models has hurt Volt sales lately. The all-electric Chevy Bolt, expected to cost $30,000 and get 200 miles on a single charge, is planned to hit the market in 2017, while the 2016 Volt should be available for purchase during the second half of 2015. Many would-be Volt buyers are simply waiting for the newer model, which can be driven 50 miles on electric power, up from 38 miles for the current one.
That explains some—but not all—of the decline in Volt sales. Certainly, cheap gas prices have done damage to sales of the Volt as well as the Leaf, other plug-in vehicles, and even hybrids like the Toyota Prius to boot. After all, one of the big reasons to buy an electrified vehicle is that powering it is cheaper than filling up at the pump. Consequently, when the price of gas plummets, like it did month after month for nearly half a year recently, a prime argument for going the plug-in route is weakened.
It isn’t just new plug-in models that have taken a beating thanks to a combination of cheaper gas prices and emerging new tech that makes older models seem outdated in a hurry. According to the Wall Street Journal, the resale value of used electric cars has absolutely tanked:
In December and January, for instance, the average selling price of a 2012 Nissan Leaf at auction was about $10,000, nearly a quarter of the car’s original list price and down $4,700 from a year earlier, according to NADA’s guide. Three-year-old Volts, a plug-in car with a backup gasoline motor, were selling for an average $13,000 at auction in January, down from about $40,000 excluding the federal tax credit.
Nissan is coming off of the best-ever year for any plug-in, with Leaf sales in the U.S. topping 30,000 in 2014. The way things have started in 2015, it will be difficult for the automaker to beat last year, though Nissan has blamed bad weather for the Leaf’s recent struggles, and it expects a strong rebound in the spring. Meanwhile, at the start of 2014, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said he anticipated selling an average of 3,000 Leafs monthly that year, and 4,000 Leaf purchases monthly sometime in the near future.
Recent sales notwithstanding, Nissan isn’t giving up on electric cars anytime soon. Neither are many other automakers. At the auto show in Geneva this week, BMW, Volkswagen, and Fiat Chrysler were among the car companies showing off high-tech battery-powered vehicles that demonstrate their commitment to electrified cars.
At some point, rising gas prices will likely steer more interest back to alternative-fuel cars too. But that hasn’t happened yet. “Gas prices inched back up this month, but it didn’t appear to have much impact on shoppers’ choices,” Edmunds.com senior analyst Jessica Caldwell said in a report focused on February sales. “We’re still seeing a strong market for trucks and SUVs—especially compact crossover SUVs, which continue to ride an impressive wave of popularity.”
At least if the Leaf and Volt are struggling, Nissan and GM can take solace in the fact that some of their larger, less fuel-efficient and less environmentally friendly siblings are faring quite well during this winter of cheap gas, cold temperatures, and lots of snow. Two Nissan SUVs, the Pathfinder and Rogue, had record sales months in February, while GM pickup sales were up 37% for the month.
And not because you're over-caffeinated at work
Sleepy office employees may view Keurig’s single-serve coffee machine as a gift, but the sheer quantity of waste it produces has stirred regrets in the product’s inventor.
“I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it,” John Sylvan, who sold his share of Keurig in 1997 for $50,000, told The Atlantic.. “It’s like a cigarette for coffee, a single-serve delivery mechanism for an addictive substance.”
The waste production of the K-Cup, the non-recyclable, single-serve coffee pods that Keurig machines use, has long been noted. Keurig Green Mountain pledged to create a full recyclable version of its main product by 2020, but estimates say that the Keurig pods buried in 2014 would already circle the Earth 12 times.
Meanwhile, the Keurig’s popularity has made it ever more ubiquitous, bringing it to offices and homes across the country. The company sold a total of 9.8 billion Keurig-brewed portion packs last year, which include the new multiple-cup pods.
Plus, they aren’t cheap, another downside Sylvan notes.
“I don’t have one. They’re kind of expensive to use,” Sylvan said of Keurig K-Cups. “Plus it’s not like drip coffee is tough to make.”