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Recent Blogs

Blaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Big city gun smoke, starring liberal policies

Smoke gets in your eyes. Thought I smelled smoke on Monday and saw fog this Tuesday morning. Wildfires in Canada. So that’s what they mean by global warming!

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Forward HR

with Diane Hamilton and Nilesh Patel

Creating a high-performing environment

Leaders play an important role in creating a motivating work environment. They set the tone by demonstrating respect, valuing employees, and creating a supportive and encouraging atmosphere.

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Financial Perspectives

with Michael Dubis, CFP

Back to basics: To hit retirement goals, start saving a large percentage of gross income

Financial independence is the primary savings and investing driver for most people, and with good reason. In order to be successful in retirement, most folks will require a higher-than-anticipated wealth position, appropriate insurance coverage, and adherence to a very controlled spending plan. Almost every new client I speak with is not adequately prepared for this reality. I spend a lot of time in the first year simply broadening the discussion and assumptions, and I hope to do a little bit of that here as well.

Comments: 2

Inside Wisconsin

with Tom Still

How to improve Wisconsin's poor startup ranking

There’s something counterintuitive about Wisconsin dropping to dead last among the 50 states in the latest business startup index published by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Comments: 2

Leader to Leader

with Terry Siebert

How enthusiasm can work for you

Dale Carnegie recognized that an enthusiastic attitude is fundamental to success, happiness, and personal growth. “Today is life, make the most of today. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you,” he wrote.

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Left Business Brain

with Tom Breuer

Handicapping Scott Walker’s potential presidential rivals

There’s something terribly revealing — and inadvertently uninspiring — about the Ready for Hillary PAC’s apt but deadly dull tagline, “Ready for Hillary.” It evokes a long-neglected, distasteful obligation, like going back to school after summer vacation or getting your first colonoscopy. It may very well be for the best but … hmm.

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Mind Your Business

with Corey Chambas

The worst shall be first — Why you need to do the hardest thing first

When I was 25, I thoroughly analyzed, wrote up, and prepared my very first commercial loan for loan committee. I was confident I had done a good job and was surprised when the chief credit officer (CCO) of the large bank I worked for called me into his office. He was a bit of a crusty old guy — probably about my age now!

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Smart Sustainable Biz

with Jessie Lerner

MPower Champions show Greater Madison businesses the meaning of sustainability

The MPower Business Champions were in a sharing mood at the Jan. 23 MPower Champion Public Showcase (video link). Reynolds Transfer & Storage and Shopbop shared their bike repair stand projects. Trek Bicycles and Aprilaire shared information about their sustainable food projects. And State Street restaurant Tutto Pasta shared its energy-efficiency projects.

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The Bottom Line

with contributors from Associated Bank

Help employees take control of their health and lower expenses

The toll that an unhealthy employee takes increases every year. Data from the 2014 employer survey “Purchasing Value in Healthcare” by the National Business Group on Health showed that, on average, each employee costs an employer $11,176 in a single year. This is an 8% increase from 2013.

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Mad @ Mgmt

with Walter Simson

Making the case for another stimulus package

In the aftermath of the 2008 Lehman collapse, most banks froze lending and, in fact, requested their money back. At one point, 74.5% of the banks said they were tightening their lending standards. This caused a full-blown banking crisis, in which money was leaving the economy at an alarming rate. In human terms, there was a lot of distress — after all, every dollar going to repay the bank’s call notice is a dollar that doesn’t go into the purchase of goods and services.

Comments: 5

Taking Stock

with Nathan Brinkman

When your child asks for a loan, should you say yes?

You raised them, helped get them through school, and now your children are on their own. Or are they? Even adult children sometimes need financial help. But if your child asks you for a loan, don’t pull out your checkbook until you’ve examined the financial and emotional costs. Start the process by considering a few key questions.

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Open for Business

with Jody Glynn Patrick

What’s your policy on hiring felons?

The least painful or expensive way to learn best business practices is not by making mistakes but rather by joining the IB family, where we highlight success stories and share cautionary tales about the missteps of others in workshops, in print, and online. Toward that goal, here’s another learning opportunity.

Comments: 12

Legal Login

with contributors from Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek

Bluffing IT: Five secrets of an IT vendor

As a general rule, IT vendors are knowledgeable, reputable, and valuable to business owners. After all, operating your company IT environment is a complex task and outside vendors bring supplemental expertise that you may not have internally. It's often a wise business decision to engage outside help as needed.

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The Web Chef's Cafe

with Paul Gibler

3 tools to support your visual content marketing

2015 is the year of visual content marketing. A big reason why is the explosive growth of visual social media networks like Instagram, Pinterest, and Vine. These networks allow for the distribution and sharing of a wide array of visual content, including slides, photos, videos, charts, infographics, and more.

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Open Mic

Send us your blog for consideration!

Teamwork pays off for Tingalls Get Fit challengers

The team at Tingalls Graphic Design is always up for a challenge — but it’s usually a creative challenge. To be honest, when the Get Fit Challenge was presented, we all thought, “Well, maybe …” But a few weeks into it, we’re shaping up, firming up, and proving our determination. Make no mistake — the sacrifices have been great — diet changes and daily, relentless exercise were necessary to get into the swing of things. We took a quick poll of the Tingalls Graphic Design team and here’s what they said about the challenge’s most difficult — and easiest — parts so far.

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The Gray Area

with Donna Gray

Become a power networker

I’ve been a power networker all my life. I think it’s my calling to connect with people. While I think in-person meetings are still best, I’ve been using some form or another of social media since 2002. At first, I joined several “chat rooms” with areas of interest to me. Then I started using LinkedIn way back when and, like others, I made some great business connections as it grew.

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Small Business, Big Ideas

with Jean Willard

5 tax-planning opportunities to think about right now

As 2014 draws to a close, you have more tax-planning opportunities available to you than ever before, but you also face more tax challenges. More than 50 popular tax provisions expired at the end of 2013 (many are projected to be reinstated, but as of today they have not been), so some new planning techniques are going to be needed.

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Van Lines

with Joe Vanden Plas

Trade leads the president’s small biz agenda

It won’t be long before the phrase “lame duck” is applied to President Obama, but he still has an ambitious small business agenda of tax reform, greater access to capital, and, especially, trade. That agenda was spelled out by Jay Williams, assistant secretary of commerce for economic development, on a recent visit to Madison.

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Transportation Matters

with Craig Thompson

Can our bad roads be good for tourism?

As the debate over the transportation fund continues to hold up passage of the state’s biennial budget, one is left to wonder if we are indeed through the looking glass.

Comments: 2

In Biz

with Bill Haight

A common-sense quiz about forced minimum wages

1) An appliance store sells a particular TV set for $500. A government tax or regulation requires it to raise this price to $600. The store will likely sell: a. More of these TV sets; b. Fewer of these TV sets; c. The same number of these TV sets.

Comments: 3

It's All About Content

with Thomas Marks

What your website’s ‘About Us’ page should say

Let’s talk About Us. Or we can talk about About, or even about Us. The point is, there’s some disagreement about About on your website. About how important About is, about if it should be About Us rather than About or even Us. But I’m stepping in to call a truce. I think it is important and it starts with some pretty interesting research.

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