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Business Advice from Seasoned CEO’s

When a Star Employee Quits

It’s difficult to let good talent go, but experts agree that counter-offers are not usually the answer to a bombshell resignation. The experience should instead serve as a lesson for employers who value their best producers.

Author’s Note: This blog post is being published today in honor of a great businessman and father, Jack Roseman. Mr. Roseman died in hospice on Monday. He was 88.

The Roseman Family

The Pittsburgh Business Times called him a “pioneer of Pittsburgh’s tech community as an entrepreneur, investor, advisor, educator and mentor.” But to me, Jack Roseman was a friend; and kind of a father-figure.

I grew up in the Roseman household as his daughter Shari’s BFF. Today, his eldest daughter, Laura, is one of my dearest friends, despite having started out as one of my babysitters.

Our moms were also besties; along with our dads. I’m getting emotional just thinking about the reunion that’s going on in Heaven right now! Days like this make me miss my parents.

Anyway, I wrote this article several years ago for a Human Resource industry magazine. Jack was my go-to CEO!

In honor of his memory, I plan to publish a series of business articles I’ve penned over the years for various magazines, newspapers and websites.

This series will eventually become a book, so stay tuned…

A LETTER OF RESIGNATION

Shawn Layden’s leaked resignation letter reveals what’s really behind the power struggle at PlayStation.

If a valuable employee – one of your best revenue producers – tells you that they’re leaving your company for better compensation, should you try to tempt them to stay with a counter-offer?

A study conducted by England-based Communicate Recruitment Solutions reveals that most employers have never made a counter-offer; and most employees would not accept one.

Jack Roseman, director of the Pittsburgh-based Roseman Institute; which provides coaching, mentoring and negotiating assistance to CEOs of growing enterprises, says that employers must seek out the underlying truth from an employee who says they’re resigning over deficient compensation.

“There are good reasons and there are real reasons; tell me the real reason,” is the proper response for an employer to give to the employee who says they’re leaving over money,” says Roseman.

“People don’t usually leave for more money. In most cases, it’s because they’re unhappy with the company, and it’s the job of the employer to find out why they’re leaving and if they have a legitimate gripe.”

—Jack Roseman

Roseman suggests that an employee who is particularly valued in a company be asked to stay and work things out with the management.  “it’s not really how much you make today, it’s what happens over the continuum of time,” he explains, adding that even during those instances when a real injustice occurs, it’s still ill-advised to give an immediate raise or counter-offer. 

“Instead, you say, ‘Let’s see if things can get better over time.’ A counter-offer opens the door for blackmail, but maybe you can create an atmosphere they would be happier in? Pay can always be fixed over time if the employee has faith in you and faith in the company,” says Roseman.

LOOK AT IT AS AN OPPORTUNITY

James Lock, CEO of Communicate, says that counter-offers are nothing more than last-ditch attempts to keep someone within a business.

“They make employers and their companies look needy and should never be relied upon for long term success,” says Lock, adding that the best way to retain high performers for as long as possible is to ensure that their compensation, recognition and culture are as good as they can be.

“Then, when they do resign, you know you haven’t done anything wrong and it is simply the right time for them to move on; which is often a personal decision as much as a professional one,” says Lock.

Employers should resist the urge to react impulsively to a star employee’s announcement.

“When considering a counter-offer, ask yourself whether you would be offering the employee a pay rise or increase in responsibilities if they hadn’t resigned,” says Lock, adding that there is actually an opportunity in every resignation.

“Bringing someone with new ideas and different qualities on-board is an exciting prospect, particularly when you can dictate the level you want them to work at and a remuneration package you can afford. Good bosses should realize that personnel change is all part of the ebb and flow of running a business.”

James Lock

DON’T EVEN GO THERE

Communicate’s Managing Director, Thomas de Freitas, believes that there is never a good reason to make a counter-offer.

“Under no circumstances should an employee be tempted to stay once they have tendered their resignation,” he says, pointing out that doing so will not solve the dilemma of having to fill a vacancy and re-train a new staff member.

“Good business leaders tackle issues head-on and do not delay them until a more ‘convenient’ time.”

“Going to great lengths to retain one employee can send the wrong impression to everyone else. They will question why preferential treatment is being shown to one individual and resent their colleague being cut a special deal, especially when they had one foot out the door.”

Thomas de Freitas

The success of any business relies on the sum of its parts.

De Freitas warns, “Don’t risk the relationship with your staff for the sake of one individual.” Communicate’s study drives this point home, because it showed that most employees who do end up staying for a counter-offer will leave within six months anyway.

BE PROACTIVE

Los Angeles Attorney Richard Frey says that employers should take a proactive approach instead.

“Key employees should be under contract instead of under an at-will policy, because it defines the terms of the employment and the terms under which employment could end. This way, supervisors won’t go around making reckless decisions; they must follow a cause standard in the contract to get out of it. So, if you have a good definition of cause, the employer can protect himself.”

Joe Phelps, former CEO of Phelps, a marketing communications firm based in Santa Monica, California, also takes a proactive approach by letting his employees know exactly what they’re worth to the company. “Truly have a way of measuring people’s performance and make it available before they even ask for it,” he advises. “We don’t make counter-offers, but we also make it clear that our numbers for people’s performance are open for them to review any time. “

Phelps believes that a high rate of employee turn-over stands in the way of a company’s success. Phelps is one of the oldest independent communication agencies in Southern California.

“Our longevity is due to doing what’s right for the client and having a good, solid team that’s not always turning over,” he says. “When the CEO changes, it’s so frustrating, and it’s the same with lawyers and insurance people.

“Finding good people and keeping them is the key to keeping good clients. Do what’s right for your employees, and it will come back and help you.”

Joe Phelps

© Jill Cueni-Cohen

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Film Review of What the Bleep!?: Down the Rabbit Hole

Author’s note: This article was published in a Pittsburgh magazine in 2006. Both of my parents were appalled and disturbed by my open-minded review of this groundbreaking movie. They rarely agreed on much, but they both called my article “absolute rubbish”. #triggered

Is there a scientific explanation for spirituality? Are we connected with other beings and the entire universe at large? And what the #$*! is quantum physics?

“What the Bleep!?: Down the Rabbit Hole” is the extended Director’s Cut of the original documentary movie titled, “What the BLEEP Do We Know!?”, which was released in 2004. Both films portray the journey of a depressed professional photographer (played by Academy Award-winning actress, Marlee Matlin) as she begins to comprehend that if she changes the negative way she thinks, she can actually change her life.

Interspersed with interviews from an eclectic collection of scientists, doctors and mystics, as well as extraordinary animated sequences that take the viewer into the wacky world of our own cells, What the BLEEP… is as confusing as it is inspiring.

QUANTUM PHYSICS CHANGED THE WORLD

Down the Rabbit Hole looks much like its predecessor, but it’s quite a bit longer, because it contains an additional 105 minutes of in-depth interviews, and introduces Dr. Quantum: an animated professor who provides supplementary explanations about the science of the incredibly small.

WAKE UP, AMERICA!

Putting forth the notion that “there’s more to the world than what we perceive,” Quantum physics is touted in the film as “a new way of thinking about yourself and the Universe.”  And in Down the Rabbit Hole, the original storyline is condensed so that the experts may have more time to clarify the links between human consciousness, the reality of daily life and quantum mechanics. 

The notion of a movie about quantum physics may be enough to send the average person scurrying over into the comedy or action section of the video store, but both films serve to awaken the mind to possibilities by teaching us about our true nature — and how it is indeed possible to affect our realities through our intentions. And if you can sit through more than two and a half hours of mind-blowing information in Down the Rabbit Hole, you may well be inspired by the additional explanations of experts, including internationally recognized pharmacologist Candace Pert, psychiatrist Jeffrey Satinover, M.D and the ancient spirit Ramtha, who is channeled by a woman named JZ Knight.

By tackling subjects such as consciousness, addictions, emotion, and biology, Down the Rabbit Hole illuminates the human experience as a potential for self-realization. And its experts contend that our brains are designed to make thought more real than anything else, but our addiction to continually accessing the same emotions or the same attitudes will take us nowhere.

HOW DO YOU PERCEIVE REALITY?

Most of us are operating at an emotionally detached place, as if today were yesterday, but change means abandoning our old selves. Have you ever thought about who you could be just by changing your perception of the world?

Ramtha makes it clear that we can be the result of our own creation. “See the day as an opportunity in time to create your own reality,” says the spirit. “The day is a fertilization of infinite tomorrows.”

© Jill Cueni-Cohen

Watch the latest iteration of “What the BLEEP” below.

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ROSH HASHANAH EXPLAINED

Rosh Hashanah is one of the most important Jewish holidays. Literally translated, Rosh Hashanah means “head of the year.”

The New Year 5780 officially starts on September 30th, but all Jewish holidays begin at sundown on the evening before, so Rosh Hashanah actually begins tonight. The night before Rosh Hashanah is known as Kol Nidre, and then the holiday lasts until nightfall two days later, on Tuesday, October 1st. In regards to the Hebrew calendar, the New Year begins on the first day of the seventh Hebrew month; Tishri. 

Day of Judgement

The beginning of each year is considered a renewal; when people have the opportunity to be better, because they know that they are being judged by God. For this reason, the first day of Rosh Hashanah is officially known as the “Day of Judgment”. This is when our creator weighs the good and bad deeds each person has done throughout the previous year. He then chooses whether or not to “inscribe us in the next year’s Book of Life.” If it sounds serious, that’s because it is serious—it’s a matter of life and death!

Days of Awe

The Jewish New Year leads into a 10-day grace period, known as the Days of Awe, during which people are encouraged to take the time to repent for their sins through “teshuvah, tefilah and tzedakah,” repentance, prayer, good deeds. During the Days of Awe, Jews ask God for forgiveness and promise to reform their evil ways, so that they will be worthy enough to be inscribed into the next year’s Book of Life. In addition, God requires every Jew to make peace with anyone they had a disagreement with in the previous year. They also have to pay off their debts and think about any mistakes made in the past year.

Thinking about mistakes leads people to ponder ways in which they can do things differently in the coming year. The goal of this entire process is to be inscribed in the Book of Life, because those who do evil and don’t repent risk having their names inscribed in the Book of Death and Misfortune.

“L’shana tova!” is how Jews greet each other during their New Year. Translated from Hebrew, it means “Have a good New Year”. Another popular greeting echoes the goal of living another year, “L’shana tova tika tevu” – may you be inscribed for a good New Year!

Cast Away Your Sins

It’s a tradition for Jews to symbolically cast off their sins into a body of running water. This is known as tashlikh, and the ceremony takes place just before sunset on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. During this time, we recall the last verses of the prophet Micah (7:19), “He will take us back in love; He will cover up our iniquities. You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

People who aren’t Jewish are surprised to learn that the Hebrew calendar date of Rosh Hashanah is not celebrated on the first day of the year. According to the Torah, the month of Nisan is really the first month.  “From now on, this month will be the first month of the year for you. (Exodus 12:2) Nisan is the month when Passover is celebrated.

Tishri, as mentioned previously, is the seventh month. The Babylonians may have had a hand in the origins of this tradition, but the rabbis who lived during the years following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE proclaimed this particular date to be the anniversary of the momentous day when humanity was created.

Celebrate 5780!

On Rosh Hashanah, apples and honey are a blessing.

During the Rosh Hashanah meal, it’s customary to wish each other a “sweet New Year.” This typically happens as everyone dips apple slices into honey; a gesture which is seen as a blessing for “a sweet New Year”. 

One way to make this tradition more fun is to do a honey tasting, especially if you have access to local honeys and a variety of versions. 

©️Jill Cueni-Cohen

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PRE-TEEN PROMOTES POSITIVE THINKING

Sam Kieffer is only 11 years old, but that doesn’t stop him from doing what he can to help fund research that could save his father’s life.

SAVE THE BRAINS

“When I was 7 years old, I found out the unfortunate truth; that my dad had an epidermoid brain tumor,” Sam recalls. 

The precocious pre-teen took time out from selling lemonade and cookies at a community event on Sunday to do a quick, impromptu interview. With the help of some friends and his Mom, Terri, Sam is raising money for the Epidermoid Brain Tumor Society.

Sam says that he felt helpless when he first heard about his dad’s diagnosis, but then he realized that there was a way he could actually help. Together with his younger siblings; brother Jesse and sister Savannah, the Kieffer kids began raising research funds for the rare tumor through their own “Save The Brains” campaign. Masterminding the operation, Sam has hosted so many lemonade stands and bake sales that his group has raised tens of thousands of dollars to become the single largest donor to Save the Brains.

MORE BLESSINGS AND A BOOK

When he’s not securing funding for Save the Brains, Sam is getting donations for his outdoor food pantry, which he calls Sam’s Blessings Box. Located in his Pittsburgh neighborhood, the Blessings Box is a way for people in need to obtain free food and toiletries.

But that’s not all–this whiz kid has published a book of poetry, titled “Freedom Zone”, in 2018. I reported on Sam’s accomplishment for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette more than a year ago. He had just hosted his first book signing at a local library and was getting rave reviews.

“This child takes what he’s feeling on the inside and makes it a positive thing to help his dad and other people,” Sam’s 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Brianna Amoscato, told me. 

Sounding like an adult, Sam credits her encouragement as the reason he published his first book. 

“I thought I would be terrible at writing poetry,” he readily admits, “But then we got to share our poetry, and my teacher loved it. She said, ‘Holy cow! These are really good!’”

“For a student his age, it’s a phenomenal talent,” said Mrs. Amoscato, adding, “Sam is very creative, and his language is sophisticated.”

Watching his young son do whatever he can to raise funding to find a cure, Sam’s dad has a new outlook on his brain tumor. “He sees it as a blessing,” Terri tells me, “because our son is doing so much to try to help others who also have it.” 

Fewer than 2 percent of the American population have this tumor. The Epidermoid Brain Tumor Society has been searching for a scientist to take interest in studying the rare tumor. They hope that the additional funding brought in by Sam and others like him will facilitate such research.

Listed on Amazon, “Freedom Zone” costs $10. “Half of the money I make from my book goes to the Epidermoid Society to help my dad, and the other half goes to my college fund,” says Sam. He has since found that he really enjoys creating his own comic books and intends to come out with a new book amidst his busy schedule. “Drawing is something I like to do in my free time.”

KIDS CAN ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS

“Don’t let anyone or anything stop you. Give it a try, and if it doesn’t work, always think of a different way to do it,” says Sam. 

It’s sage advice from someone in sixth grade. His attitude is positive, and he prefers to focus on a good outcome to any dilemma. According to this wise young man, “You hear a lot of things on the news about bad people, but there are good people out there, you just have to know where to look. I think perspective is everything, and a bad thing isn’t always a bad thing if you take a look with a new perspective.”

Sam plans to continue his efforts to help raise money and awareness of the Epidermoid brain tumor. You can help by purchasing his book on Amazon and following his Facebook page.  

I will certainly continue to follow Sam’s adventures and accomplishments. 

WHAT DOES SAM THINK ABOUT 9/11?

Sam is in the process of reading my book: Like It Was Yesterday, A Journalist’s Files Since 9/11. I took the opportunity to ask him his thoughts on it, and his reply blew me away!

“It’s a good book, but it’s also very deep and sad,” he told me, adding that prior to reading my book, he didn’t know very much about 9/11. “I knew that there were plane attacks and the Twin Towers were demolished, but that’s about all I could tell you. I knew that it was obviously a sad day, but I had no idea how actually tragic it was. Seeing how everyone reacted, all the phone lines down, people trying to call their loved ones…”

Sam’s mom also told me that while he’s reading the book, they have had insightful conversations about 9/11. “Your book started us talking about that day with him,” she told me. “Thank you so much for writing it.” 

I wondered if Sam was affected by knowing more details about America’s reaction to 9/11. Was he worried such an event might happen today? He said he’s aware that bad things can happen, but he’s not going to live his life in fear. “I try to look for the positive in most situations,” he explains.

ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE GOOD

With a thriving charitable “business” going on in the background, Sam has clearly learned how to make a sour experience sweet. 

“In the beginning, I thought I had no control and there was nothing I could do, “ he recalls. 

At the tender age of seven, Sam thought about his father’s situation and realized that by raising funds for research, he could take action all by himself. “That’s when I started looking for positive outcomes. It started with a hot chocolate stand and progressed from there,” he says. He’s not yet a teenager, but his wisdom is timeless… and timely.

People should inspire their kids, Sam advises. “The sky’s the limit, and you can do what you want if you believe in your heart,” he says, noting that he realizes that he’s become a role-model for other kids his age. “It’s a really good feeling to inspire other people.”

“Sam’s presentation at SNHL was beyond words,” described librarian Mrs. Ing Kalchthaler, Youth Services Coordinator, of his June 5 book signing. “So many people of all ages came out to hear him and were inspired. Here I am 46 years old, and I feel renewed and inspired.”

PLEASE HELP SAM SAVE THE BRAINS

Sam set a goal of reaching $15,000 by the end of summer, and he’s currently only about $140 away! Please help Sam reach his goal: www.gofundme.com/samandjessesavethebrains

©️Jill Cueni-Cohen

 

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CAN WE TRUST NORTH KOREA?

https://youtu.be/2SEd0Q_kPyc

IN CASE YOU DIDN’T NOTICE… While most Americans were obsessing over the ridiculous Mueller hearing and speculating on whether child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was nearly “suicided” by the Clintons last night, North Korea fired two short-range missiles early this morning.

According to news reports, South Korea’s military said that this was the first missile test since Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump agreed to start talking about denuclearization again.

Thursday morning, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff stated, “North Korea today launched two unidentifiable objects at 5:34 and 5:57 am.”

They said that the first missile traveled approximately 270 miles, while the second flew about 428 miles. Both missiles flew at a maximum altitude of approximately 30 miles.

Just after tracking the first launch, the South Korean military announced, “Our military is keeping close watch in case of additional launches.”

The missiles landed in the Sea of Japan. They reportedly were discharged from the eastern part of North Korea.

“By firing missiles, taking issue with military drills and showing a new submarine, the North is sending one clear message: there might be no working-level talks if the United States doesn’t present a more flexible stance,” said Kim Hong-kyun, a former South Korean nuclear envoy.

S. Korean military has speculated that what the North tested this morning “seems to be a new type of missile.”

But other analysts have opined that these were the same types of missiles previously tested by Pyongyang in May.

U.N. Security Council resolutions have banned Pyongyang from using ballistic technology in any kind of launch, so North Korea could face punitive measures, if this is found to be the case.

The rogue regime is required to make significant strides toward disarmament before the US will even consider removing the sanctions that have been imposed upon it.

Some experts think that North Korea may be using these launches in an effort to get the upper hand, once they restart denuclearization talks.