Leadership Lessons From General H Norman Schwarzkopf

H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. as a child dreamed of a military career.His father, H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr., had attended West Point, “served in WWI” and later in WWII rising to the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Army. At the end of WWII, General Schwarzkopf, Sr. was posted in Iran and remained to help “organize and train the national police force”. (achievement.org H Norman Schwarzkopf)

Developing Discipline and Character:

In 1946, Brigadier General Schwarzkopf, Sr.’s family joined him in Iran. Norman, Jr. was 12 years old and attended school in Iran, and later in Switzerland, Germany, and Italy. He became an outstanding student becoming fluent in French and German.

Developing Competence: Attending West Point:

Returning to the United States, like his father, Norman, Jr. attended the United States Military Academy at West Point. At West Point, along with his studies, he “played on the football team, wrestled, sang and conducted the chapel choir”. (achievement.org H Norman Schwarzkopf)

A Teacher’s Lesson Lasts A Lifetime:

While at West Point, Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr’s football team was taught by Assistant Coach Vince Lombardi his ’49’ “Lombardi Sweep”. This play would later become a staple in the Green Bay Packers dominance in the NFL under Lombardi’s leadership.

Lombardi Sweep: His ’49’:

Years later the eager, young Schwarzkopf was now General Schwarzkopf. He was 6’3″, and 240 pounds with a gruff and direct communication style, and he had a fearsome temper.

This temper and a hate for losing helped him lead his troops to victory during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. “He spoke French and German to coalition partners, showed awareness of Arab sensitivities and served as Gen. Colin Powell’s operative man on the ground.” (Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf-ABC News)

General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr would remember and use his own version of the “49 Lombardi Sweep” during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. This football play from his younger years helped play a crucial part in the United States Coalition victory of Desert Storm.

Ron Kramer, a former Green Bay Packer, All-American football player under Coach Vince Lombardi “was watching the news about Operation Desert Storm when he noticed General Norman Schwarzkopf detailing an assault by his forces into Iraq, using arrows and diagrams to illustrate the maneuvers.”

Kramer had played tight end for Green Bay from 1957 to 1964, squinted at his television screen. “He remembered that play. He had seen those arrows before!” Kramer recalls shouting at the television screen.

“I wrote a letter to General Schwarzkopf. I sent ’49’ to him and told him he had plagiarized Vince. He was at Army when Vince was there.”

General Schwarzkopf wrote back to Ron Kramer that “he had played football at West Point” and shared “his memories of the famous coach.” Related: Lombardi Sweep

Taking Action:

Schwarzkopf’s first assignment was “as executive officer of the 2nd Airborne Battle Group of the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment at Fort Campbell, Kentucky”. Then he went to work “with the 101st Airborne, and with the 6th Infantry in West Germany.” In 1960 and 1961, “he was aide-de-camp to the Berlin Command.” It was a critical period “in the history of that divided city.” (achievement.org H Norman Schwarzkopf)

Earning Engineering Master’s:

Returning to the United States, Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. earned his master’s at the University of Southern California in mechanical engineering.

Teaching Engineering at West Point:

Schwarzkopf returned to West Point in 1965 to teach engineering. Many of Norman’s classmates had gone to “Vietnam as advisors to the South Vietnamese army.” In 1965, Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. applied to join them.

Captain Schwarzkopf, Jr. worked as an advisor to the South Vietnamese Airborne Division and was promoted to major.

Returned to Teaching at West Point:

Schwarzkopf after completing “his tour of duty in Vietnam” returned to teaching at West Point.

Lieutenant Colonel & Marriage:

Major Schwarzkopf was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1968 and married Brenda Holsinger. They later had three children.

At Leavenworth, Kansas, Schwarzkopf continued his training at “the Command and General Staff College”.

Colonel Schwarzkopf “as U.S. casualties in Vietnam mounted, became convinced it was his duty to apply his training and experience there, where they might save the most lives.” (achievement.org H Norman Schwarzkopf)

Returning to Vietnam in 1969:

Colonel Schwarzkopf returned as a battalion commander to Vietnam.

Doing the right thing ethically: Courage under fire: Vietnam:

During the Vietnam War on May 28, 1970, when General Schwarzkopf was a Lieutenant Colonel, he “ordered his helicopter down to rescue his troops who had wandered into a minefield.

Some were airlifted out, but he stayed behind with his troops. A soldier tripped a mine, shattering his leg and wounding the colonel, who crawled atop the thrashing victim to stop him from setting off more mines. Three other troopers were killed by an exploding mine, but the colonel led the survivors to safety.

Lieutenant Colonel Schwarzkopf was willing to risk his life for his men.” (Robert McFadden’s New York Times article)

Barbara Walters was interviewing General Norman Schwarzkopf and asked him to define leadership.

General Schwarzkopf said, “It’s competence, more importantly, it’s character. It’s taking action. It’s doing the right (ethical)thing.”

In the business world these are the same four qualities needed for success.

Barbara Walters asked General Schwarzkopf “What do you want on your tombstone?”

General Schwarzkopf said, “I want it to say, ‘He loved his family and he loved his troops-and they loved him.”

If you were asked, “What do you want on your tombstone? What would you say?

Zig Ziglar, motivational expert, says, “Compassion, love, and sympathy are very definitely part of the success formula. Having the ability to walk in the shoes of another is of paramount importance. When you truly know how the other person feels, you can communicate with him or her more easily and lead more effectively.” General Schwarzkopf knew this!

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf said, “There’s nothing wrong with being afraid. And true courage is not not being afraid. True courage is being afraid, and going ahead and doing your job anyhow, that’s what courage is.”

What are the five leadership qualities General Schwarzkopf identified, exemplified, and taught for success?

1) Competence,

2) Character,

3) Taking Action,

4) Doing the right thing at all times (ethically) and having

5) Courage.

By developing these five leadership qualities of General Norman Schwarzkopf you too will become an exemplary leader!

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American Health Care Trends: Old, Fat and Lazy

The recent AMA Executive Summary “Health in the United States: Health Care Trends” contains both a little hope and a lot of gloom.

Population Trends

By 2050 the segment of the population over 65 will double from today to 83.7 million. This means that the prevalence of chronic illness will rise dramatically. Since 1990, smoking has decreased from 29.5% to 18.1% of the adult population. Probably as a result, stroke has declined 34%, heart disease 27%, and cancer 17%. This sounds good but…

Fat and Sluggish

Since 1990, the obesity rate in adults (defined as BMI over 30) has increased from 12% to 29.6%. During the same time diabetes increased from 4.4% to 10% of all adults. Not old adults, all adults. The CDC predicts that by 2050, thirty percent of adults will have diabetes. As a result, obesity is now the leading cause of heart attacks. Physical inactivity is a major reason. Only 21% of adults get the US Department of Health and Human Services recommended 150 minutes of exercise weekly. My observation is that most get no exercise. Many employers now offer wellness programs that give financial rewards for healthy behaviors. This could be a big step in the right direction. Of course, punitive actions denying health insurance to the morbidly obese or uncontrolled diabetics could also be coming, especially if the federal government leaves the health insurance business to private companies.

Is There a Doctor in the Zip Code?

The AMA reports that primary care doctors are closing their practices and either retiring early or moving to non-clinical areas like insurance, quality management, the pharmaceutical industry or even medical informatics. Since the demand for health services will increase dramatically, an increasing percentage of primary care will be provided by PAs and Nurse Practitioners. I expect they will have increasing independence. This is not necessarily a bad thing, many of these caregivers are excellent and offer compassionate and comprehensive care. A possible byproduct of this trend may be an increase in demand for referrals and subspecialty care, such as sending diabetics to endocrinologists and COPD patients to lung specialists.

Take Responsibility or Someone Else Will

A dystopian future looms where the cost of medical care is greater than our resources can manage. In this rather terrifying situation, someone will have to be denied services, probably either the powerless or those who refuse to adopt mandatory health guidelines. It hasn’t come to that yet. We still have time to make recommended changes in diet and activity. Remember, who could have predicted everyone would stop smoking?

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The Smart Woman’s Guide to Planning for Retirement by Mary Hunt – Personal Finance Book Review

Money maven, Mary Hunt, returns with a new book, “The Smart Woman’s Guide to Planning for Retirement,” to help women prosper financially in the New Year and beyond. While geared toward females, men can also benefit from Hunt’s money knowledge, honed after she amassed over $100,000 in debt earlier in life; and took 13 years to erase.

“Have you had a retirement wake-up call?” Hunt asks early in the book. “I can promise you they intensify with age.”

Hunt sites a 2012 survey that found that 92 percent of women of all ages do not feel educated enough to reach their retirement savings goals.

Saving for retirement requires determination and hard work; and Hunt believes women can succeed. “If we lack confidence, it’s because we lack knowledge and desire, certainly not because we lack intelligence and ability,” Hunt says.

Time trumps all factors when saving for retirement. The sooner you start, the better. But, Hunt emphasizes, regardless of what stage you are in life, you must begin now. “It’s only too late if you don’t start now. No matter where you are or how little you think you have, start now. Today. Start. Saving.” Take baby steps to produce long-term results.

Hunt’s teachings feature:

Retirement Savings Plan. Hunt promotes a six-step Retirement Savings Plan, which includes:

Build an emergency fund. Also known as a Contingency Fund. Save money for life’s unexpected expenses (car repairs, home repairs, etc.) This money needs to be liquid (easily accessible within two or three days), safe from erosion (build in a risk-free savings account) and able to fund at least six months of living expenses should a job loss or other compromised income event occur.

Get out of debt. Eliminate all unsecured debt (credit card debt, student loans, personal loans). Hunt says they’re like cancer stealing your future. Incorporate Hunt’s Rapid Debt-Repayment Plan (RDRP) to abolish the debt.

Own your home outright. Buy half as much house as your mortgage approval. Make monthly mortgage payments equal to the full approval amount to own your residence in half the time. Fiercely protect your home equity (the difference between your home’s market value and mortgage balance). Avoid taking a home equity loan or line of credit, which resets the clock on a thirty-year mortgage.

Consider hiring a financial planner once debt is eradicated or managed, a respectable amount in savings is amassed, retirement funds are growing, or an IRA inheritance or other cash windfall appears.

Hunt describes three types of financial planners:

  1. Commission-based. This planner doesn’t charge based on time, but by selling investment products. He or she earns commissions on those sales.
  2. Fee-based. This planner works on a fixed fee or charges by the hour. Fees are stated up front and the planner is a registered investment advisor (RIA). They’re required by law to meet fiduciary standards, making them responsible for putting the best interests of their clients first.
  3. Combo. This planner is a combination of the first two. Clients pay a fee, fixed or hourly and the planner earns commissions when the client buys financial products based on their recommendations.

Choose a financial planner with at least five years experience Hunt suggests. Ensure they act in your best interests, and can explain financial concepts on your level. Be wary of any planner who claims to be able to beat the market. Ultimately, collaborate with a planner; yet make your own investment decisions. Hunt underscores that, “An advisor’s or planner’s primary loyalty will be to the hand that feeds her. That is simply human nature.”

Hunt educates in a conversational tone, avoiding jargon, charts and mind-numbing data, which makes for an engaging read. A Christian, she teaches faith-based money management. Hunt believes that God is the source of all life’s blessings, including money. An employer, spouse, investments, trust account, parents or any other entity are the channels through which money flows, but not the ultimate source. She’s making reasonable preparations for retirement without obsession; and trusting God for the outcome.

While having a retirement nest egg is important, Hunt reminds readers there is more to life than money. Health, spirituality, nurturing relationships, staying active, continual learning and volunteering are some attributes of a well-balanced existence.

Decade-by-decade financial planning, the five necessary tools for a money management system, investment basics (automate all payments to avoid not making monthly contributions (out-of-sight, out-of-mind), reverse mortgages, and parents paying for their children’s college education (not required), are other money-saving/building topics addressed in the book.

Anyone committed to improving their financial fitness in 2014, will reap life treasures, beyond the bounds of cash, by inheriting Mary Hunt’s money practices.

To establish your baseline financial status, and/or monitor your progress, order your free credit reports from the three big credit companies: Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, visit: Annual Credit Report.

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Healthy Food – Eating For Life – 6 Simple Rules

Finding healthy food, eating it, and living a long life because of doing so isn’t science fiction. It is, however, science. Everyone tries to give you advice on how to eat right, but the simple fact is that almost no-one understands what happens inside your body when you buy healthy food and eat it. Detail on the subject is available for the people who have to know. Those of you who want the simple rules with no fluff or details, read on.

1) Eat whole foods. People say “whole foods” all the time, but no one stops to think what that means about healthy food. Eating foods that weren’t grown in a lab and haven’t been taken apart and put back together, that’s what it means. So no dehydrated-rehydrated potatoes, no homogenized milk, no flour, no sugar, and absolutely no corn syrup, high-fructose or otherwise.

2) Eat foods in as close to their natural state as possible. This sounds a lot like “eat whole foods”, but it’s a supplemental rule. Not only should your foods be whole, but they should be fresh, and cooked as little as possible. For millions of years, humans ate what they hunted and gathered without the benefit of stoves and ovens, much less food processors and blenders. Evolution hasn’t had a chance to ‘catch up’ to modern appliances: we still digest food in the same way our ancestors did. This is not to say “don’t chop your red peppers” or “don’t eat cheese because it’s not raw milk”. These are still healthy foods; eating them is just fine. Just eat your veggies barely-steamed or your meat almost-too-raw. Your body will get so much more out of them, you’ll feel the difference.

3) Don’t eat anything you can’t buy. That is to say, if you can’t buy a bag of pure sodium erythorbate or a dollop of hydroxypropylmethelcellulose, you shouldn’t eat anything that has those ingredients in them. It’s not healthy. Food eating should fill you with ingredients that are created by nature, not by a lab.

4) There are only 2 food groups: things that move, and things that grow. In other words, if it’s not obviously a plant or obviously an animal, don’t eat it. You should try to eat about equal amounts of each of the two food groups, and each has one additional rule to pay attention to:

5) Of the “things that move” food group, you should strive to get about equal amounts of fat and protein. This goes directly against the ‘fat-is-bad’ propaganda of the day, but it’s demonstrably true.

6) Of the “things that grow” group, you should deliberately eat as many different colors of plant as possible every day. Veggie colors form because of different substances in the plant; each substance represents a group of nutrients. Your body gets nutrients from meat, but not as much as you get from fresh fruits and veggies, so it’s important to get a variety – you don’t want to overload on some nutrients and leave others off, that’s not healthy food eating.

These rules read easy, but they’re tough to follow. It helps so much to understand food in a way that makes your body love you. Many factors, from societal to chemical, conspire to keep you eating a high-carbohydrate, highly-processed American diet – but that leads to the American midlife plagued with diabetes, heart troubles, infertility and impotence, and even cancer. Healthy food eating can keep you alive and feeling great.

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Essential HTML Skills For Article Authors – 7 Tips

Many successful authors close their mind to learning HTML because they figure they don’t need to know it. I’ve been in technology, marketing and writing on the Internet for a decade+ now and I too shut my mind to learning HTML… until earlier this year. My thinking was that HTML coders only make $8-$10/hr and why would I want to learn a skill that I can outsource to someone who specializes in HTML coding?

Guess what? You don’t have to learn more than 15 minutes of HTML knowledge to significantly improve the quality of your articles. In today’s issue, I’m going to show you the top 7 easy-to-learn essential HTML skills that can help any article author make better looking articles before the day is over.

The 7 HTML “MUST KNOW” article author skills include how to format a URL or an email address, how to enhance your text with BOLD, ITALICS, or the UNDERLINE font attribute and how to set up a bullet or numbered list in HTML.

  1. How To Make A URL/Website Address “Linkable”:

    This:

    http://EzineArticles.com/

    …will create this: http://EzineArticles.com/

    Just substitute your website address from the above code and now you know how to “link” up a website address. Some like to create anchor text links. Here is the code to create links out of keywords:

    EzineArticles

    …will create this: EzineArticles

    One Note: Use anchor text links *sparingly* when submitting articles to directories as some have limitations on the number of times the same URL can be linked up. For example, with EzineArticles.com, you are only allowed to have one URL in a given article that is the same and your article could be rejected if you have two links to the same URL regardless as to whether you linked it up like the first and/or second example above.

  2. How To Make Your Email Address “Linkable”:

    This:

    youraddress@your-domain-name.tld

    …will create this: [email protected]

    One Note: It is never a good idea to put your email address in your article because your email address will get harvested by spammers who use web email extractor bots to scour the Internet. Better to put a link to your contact information if you must.

  3. How To Make Something BOLD:

    This:

    <b>Make my words bold</b>

    …will create this: Make my words bold

  4. How To Make Something ITALICS:

    This:

    <i>Make my words italics</i>

    …will create this: Make my words italics

  5. How To Make Something UNDERLINED:

    This:

    <u>Make my words underlined</u>

    …will create this: Make my words underlined

  6. How To Make A Bullet Point List:

    This:

    </p> <ul>
    </p> <li>First bullet</li> <p>
    </p> <li>Second bullet</li> <p>
    </p> <li>Third bullet</li> <p>
    </ul> <p>

    …will create this:

    • First bullet
    • Second bullet
    • Third bullet

  7. How To Make A Numbered List:

    This:

    </p> <ol>
    </p> <li>First point</li> <p>
    </p> <li>Second point</li> <p>
    </p> <li>Third point</li> <p>
    </ol> <p>

    …will create this:

    1. First point
    2. Second point
    3. Third point

By opening up your mind to allow yourself to learn the above 7 essential HTML tips for article authors, you can improve the quality of your articles immediately.

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The Car Rental Industry

Market Overview

The car rental industry is a multi-billion dollar sector of the US economy. The US segment of the industry averages about $18.5 billion in revenue a year. Today, there are approximately 1.9 million rental vehicles that service the US segment of the market. In addition, there are many rental agencies besides the industry leaders that subdivide the total revenue, namely Dollar Thrifty, Budget and Vanguard. Unlike other mature service industries, the rental car industry is highly consolidated which naturally puts potential new comers at a cost-disadvantage since they face high input costs with reduced possibility of economies of scale. Moreover, most of the profit is generated by a few firms including Enterprise, Hertz and Avis. For the fiscal year of 2004, Enterprise generated $7.4 billion in total revenue. Hertz came in second position with about $5.2 billion and Avis with $2.97 in revenue.

Level of Integration

The rental car industry faces a completely different environment than it did five years ago. According to Business Travel News, vehicles are being rented until they have accumulated 20,000 to 30,000 miles until they are relegated to the used car industry whereas the turn-around mileage was 12,000 to 15,000 miles five years ago. Because of slow industry growth and narrow profit margin, there is no imminent threat to backward integration within the industry. In fact, among the industry players only Hertz is vertically integrated through Ford.

Scope of Competition

There are many factors that shape the competitive landscape of the car rental industry. Competition comes from two main sources throughout the chain. On the vacation consumer’s end of the spectrum, competition is fierce not only because the market is saturated and well guarded by industry leader Enterprise, but competitors operate at a cost disadvantage along with smaller market shares since Enterprise has established a network of dealers over 90 percent the leisure segment. On the corporate segment, on the other hand, competition is very strong at the airports since that segment is under tight supervision by Hertz. Because the industry underwent a massive economic downfall in recent years, it has upgraded the scale of competition within most of the companies that survived. Competitively speaking, the rental car industry is a war-zone as most rental agencies including Enterprise, Hertz and Avis among the major players engage in a battle of the fittest.

Growth

Over the past five years, most firms have been working towards enhancing their fleet sizes and increasing the level of profitability. Enterprise currently the company with the largest fleet in the US has added 75,000 vehicles to its fleet since 2002 which help increase its number of facilities to 170 at the airports. Hertz, on the other hand, has added 25,000 vehicles and broadened its international presence in 150 counties as opposed to 140 in 2002. In addition, Avis has increased its fleet from 210,000 in 2002 to 220,000 despite recent economic adversities. Over the years following the economic downturn, although most companies throughout the industry were struggling, Enterprise among the industry leaders had been growing steadily. For example, annual sales reached $6.3 in 2001, $6.5 in 2002, $6.9 in 2003 and $7.4 billion in 2004 which translated into a growth rate of 7.2 percent a year for the past four years. Since 2002, the industry has started to regain its footing in the sector as overall sales grew from $17.9 billion to $18.2 billion in 2003. According to industry analysts, the better days of the rental car industry have yet to come. Over the course of the next several years, the industry is expected to experience accelerated growth valued at $20.89 billion each year following 2008 “which equates to a CAGR of 2.7 % [increase] in the 2003-2008 period.”

Distribution

Over the past few years the rental car industry has made a great deal of progress to facilitate it distribution processes. Today, there are approximately 19,000 rental locations yielding about 1.9 million rental cars in the US. Because of the increasingly abundant number of car rental locations in the US, strategic and tactical approaches are taken into account in order to insure proper distribution throughout the industry. Distribution takes place within two interrelated segments. On the corporate market, the cars are distributed to airports and hotel surroundings. On the leisure segment, on the other hand, cars are distributed to agency owned facilities that are conveniently located within most major roads and metropolitan areas.

In the past, managers of rental car companies used to rely on gut-feelings or intuitive guesses to make decisions about how many cars to have in a particular fleet or the utilization level and performance standards of keeping certain cars in one fleet. With that methodology, it was very difficult to maintain a level of balance that would satisfy consumer demand and the desired level of profitability. The distribution process is fairly simple throughout the industry. To begin with, managers must determine the number of cars that must be on inventory on a daily basis. Because a very noticeable problem arises when too many or not enough cars are available, most car rental companies including Hertz, Enterprise and Avis, use a “pool” which is a group of independent rental facilities that share a fleet of vehicles. Basically, with the pools in place, rental locations operate more efficiently since they reduce the risk of low inventory if not eliminate rental car shortages.

Market Segmentation

Most companies throughout the chain make a profit based of the type of cars that are rented. The rental cars are categorized into economy, compact, intermediate, premium and luxury. Among the five categories, the economy sector yields the most profit. For instance, the economy segment by itself is responsible for 37.7 percent of the total market revenue in 2004. In addition, the compact segment accounted for 32.3 percent of overall revenue. The rest of the other categories covers the remaining 30 percent for the US segment.

Historical Levels of Profitability

The overall profitability of the car rental industry has been shrinking in recent years. Over the past five years, the industry has been struggling just like the rest of the travel industry. In fact, between the years 2001 and 2003 the US market has experienced a moderate reduction in the level of profitability. Specifically, revenue fell from $19.4 billion in 2000 to $18.2 billion in 2001. Subsequently, the overall industry revenue eroded further to $17.9 billion in 2002; an amount that is minimally higher than $17.7 billion which is the overall revenue for the year 1999. In 2003, the industry experienced a barely noticeable increase which brought profit to $18.2 billion. As a result of the economic downturn in recent years, some of the smaller players that were highly dependent on the airline industry have done a great deal of strategy realignments as a way of preparing their companies to cope with eventual economic adversities that may surround the industry. For the year 2004, on the other hand, the economic situation of most firms have gradually improved throughout the industry since most rental agencies have returned far greater profits relative to the anterior years. For instance, Enterprise realized revenues of $7.4 billion; Hertz returned revenues of $5.2 billion and Avis with $2.9 billion in revenue for the fiscal year of 2004. According to industry analysts, the rental car industry is expected to experience steady growth of 2.6 percent in revenue over the next several years which translates into an increase in profit.

Competitive Rivalry Among Sellers

There are many factors that drive competition within the car rental industry. Over the past few years, broadening fleet sizes and increasing profitability has been the focus of most companies within the car rental industry. Enterprise, Hertz and Avis among the leaders have been growing both in sales and fleet sizes. In addition, competition intensifies as firms are constantly trying to improve their current conditions and offer more to consumers. Enterprise has nearly doubled its fleet size since 1993 to approximately 600,000 cars today. Because the industry operates on such narrow profit margins, price competition is not a factor; however, most companies are actively involved in creating values and providing a range of amenities from technological gadgets to even free rental to satisfy customers. Hertz, for example, integrates its Never-Lost GPS system within its cars. Enterprise, on the other hand, uses sophisticated yield management software to manage its fleets.

Finally, Avis uses its OnStar and Skynet system to better serve the consumer base and offers free weekend rental if a customer rents a car for five consecutive days Moreover, the consumer base of the rental car industry has relatively low to no switching cost. Conversely, rental agencies face high fixed operating costs including property rental, insurance and maintenance. Consequently, rental agencies are sensitively pricing there rental cars just to recover operating costs and adequately meet their customers demands. Furthermore, because the industry experienced slow growth in recent years due to economic stagnation that resulted in a massive decline in both corporate travel and the leisure sector, most companies including the industry leaders are aggressively trying to reposition their firms by gradually lessening the dependency level on the airline industry and regaining their footing in the leisure competitive arena.

The Potential Entry of new Competitors

Entering the car rental industry puts new comers at a serious disadvantage. Over the past few years following the economic downturn of 2001, most major rental companies have started increasing their market shares in the vacation sector of the industry as a way of insuring stability and lowering the level of dependency between the airline and the car rental industry. While this trend has engendered long term success for the existing firms, it has heightened the competitive landscape for new comers. Because of the severity of competition, existing firms such as Enterprise, Hertz and Avis carefully monitor their competitive radars to anticipate Sharpe retaliatory strikes against new entrants. Another barrier to entry is created because of the saturation level of the industry.

For example, Enterprise has taken the first mover advantage with its 6000 facilities by saturating the leisure segment thereby placing not only high restrictions on the most common distribution channels, but also high resource requirements for new firms. Today, Enterprise has a rental location within 15 miles of 90 percent of the US population. Because of the network of dealers Enterprise has established around the nation, it has become relatively stable, more recession proof and most importantly, less reliant on the airline industry compared to its competitors. Hertz, on the other hand, is utilizing the full spectrum of its 7200 stores to secure its position in the marketplace. Basically, the emergence of most of the industry leaders into the leisure market not only drives rivalry, but also it varies directly with the level of complexity of entering the car rental industry.

The Threat of Substitute

There are many substitutes available for the car rental industry. From a technological standpoint, renting a car to go the distance for a meeting is a less attractive alternative as opposed to video conferencing, virtual teams and collaboration software with which a company can immediately setup a meeting with its employees from anywhere around the world at a cheaper cost. In addition, there are other alternatives including taking a cab which is a satisfactory substitute relative to quality and switching cost, but it may not be as attractively priced as a rental car for the course of a day or more. While public transportation is the most cost efficient of the alternatives, it is more costly in terms of the process and time it takes to reach one’s destination. Finally, because flying offers convenience, speed and performance, it is a very enticing substitute; however, it is an unattractive alternative in terms of price relative to renting a car. On the business segment, car rental agencies have more protection against substitutes since many companies have implemented travel policies that establish the parameters of when renting a car or using a substitute is the best course of action.

According to Tracy Esch, an Advantage director of marketing operations, her company rents cars up to a 200-mile trip before considering an alternative. Basically, the threat of substitute is reasonably low in the car rental industry since the effects the substitute products have do not pose a significant threat of profit erosion throughout the industry.

The Bargaining Power of Suppliers

Supplier power is low in the car rental industry. Because of the availability of substitutes and the level of competition, suppliers do not have a great deal of influence in the terms and conditions of supplying the rental cars. Because the rental cars are usually purchased in bulk, rental car agents have significant influence over the terms of the sale since they possess the ability to play one supplier against another to lower the sales price. Another factor that reduces supplier power is the absence of switching cost. That is, buyers are not affected from purchasing from one supplier over another and most importantly, changing to different supplier’s products is barely noticeable and does not affect consumer’s rental choices.

The Bargaining Power of Buyers

While the leisure sector has little or no power, the business segment possesses a significant amount of influence in the car rental industry. An interesting trend that is currently underway throughout the industry is forcing car rental companies to adapt to the needs of corporate travelers. This trend significantly reduces supplier power or the rental firms’ power and increases corporate buyer power since the business segment is excruciatingly price sensitive, well informed about the industry’s price structure, purchase in larger quantities and they use the internet to force lower prices. Vacation buyers, on the other hand, have less influence over the rental terms. Because vacationers are usually less price sensitive, purchase in lesser amounts or purchase more infrequently, they have weak bargaining power.

Five Forces

Today the car rental industry is facing a completely different environment than it did five years ago. Competitively speaking, the revolution of the five forces around the car rental industry exerts some strong economic pressure that has significantly tarnished the competitive attractiveness of the industry. As a result of the economic downturn in recent years, many companies went under namely Budget and the Vanguard Group because their business infrastructure succumbed to the untenability of the competitive environment. Today, very few firms including Enterprise, Hertz and Avis return a slightly above-average revenue compared to the rest of the industry. Realistically speaking, the car rental sector is not a very attractive industry because of the level of competition, the barriers to entry and the competitive pressure from the substitute firms.

Strategic Group Mapping

As a moderately concentrated sector, there is a clear hierarchy in the car rental industry. From an economic standpoint, disparities exist from a number of dimensions including revenue, fleet size and the market size each firm holds in the market place. For instance, Enterprise dominates the industry with a fleet size of approximately 600,000 vehicles along with its market size and its level of profitability. Hertz comes in second position with its number of market shares and fleet volume. In addition, Avis ranks third on the map. Avis is among one of the companies that is having issues recovering its revenue margins from prior to the economic downturn. For instance, in 2000 Avis returned revenues of approximately $4.23 billion. Over the course of the next several years following 2000, the revenue of Avis has been significantly lower than that of 2000. As a way of reducing uncertainty most companies are gradually lessening the level of dependency on the airline industry and emerging the leisure market. This trend may not be in the best interest of Hertz since its business strategy is intricately linked to the airports.

Key Success Factors

There are many key success factors that drive profitability throughout the car rental industry. Capacity utilization is one of the factors that determines success in the industry. Because rental firms experience loss of revenue when there are either too few or too many cars sitting in their lots, it is of paramount importance to efficiently manage the fleets. This success factor represents a big strength for the industry since it lowers if not completely eliminates the possibly of running short on rental cars. Efficient distribution is another factor that keeps the industry profitable. Despite the positive relationship between fleet sizes and the level of profitability, firms are constantly growing their fleet sizes because of the competitive forces that surround the industry. In addition, convenience is one of the crucial attributes by which consumers select rental firms. That is, car rental consumers are more prone to renting cars from firms that have convenient rental and drop off locations. Another key success factor that is common among competing firms is the integration of technology in their business processes. Through technology, for instance, the car rental companies create ways to meet consumer demand by making renting a car a very agreeable ordeal by adding the convenience of online rental among other alternatives. Furthermore, firms have integrated navigation systems along with roadside assistance to offer customers the piece of mind when renting cars.

Industry Attractiveness

There are many factors that impact the attractiveness of the car rental industry. Because the industry is moderately concentrated, it puts new market entrants at a disadvantage. That is, its low concentration represents a natural barrier to entering the industry as it allows existing firm to anticipate sharp retaliations against new entrants. Because of the risks associated with entering the industry among other factors, it is not a very attractive sector of the marketplace. From a competitive standpoint, the leisure market is 90 percent saturated because of the active efforts of Enterprise to dominate this sector of the market. On the other hand, the airport terminals are heavily guarded by Hertz. Realistically speaking, entry in the industry offers low profitability relative to the costs and risks associated. For most consumers, the main determining factors of choosing one company over another are price and convenience. Because of this reason, rental firms are very circumspect about setting their rates and that generally force even the industry major players in the position of offering more to the consumers for less just to remain competitive. Hertz, for example, offers wireless internet to its customers just to add more convenience to their travel plans. Avis on the other hand, offers free weekend specials if a customer rents a car for five consecutive weekdays. Based on the impact of the five forces, the car rental sector is not a very attractive industry to potential new market entrants.

Conclusion

The rental car industry is in a state of recovery. Although it may seem like the industry is performing well financially, it is nonetheless gradually regaining its footing relative to its actual economic position within the last five years. As a way of insuring profitability, besides seeking market shares and stability, most companies throughout the chain have a common goal that deals with lowering the level of dependency on the airline industry and moving toward the leisure segment. This state of motion has engendered some fierce competition among industry competitors as they attempt to defend their market shares. From a futuristic perspective, the better days of the car rental industry have yet to come. As the level of profitability increases, I believe that most of the industry leaders including Enterprise, Hertz and Avis will be bounded by the economic and competitive barriers of mobility of their strategic groups and new comers will have a better chance of infiltrating and realizing success in the car rental industry.

Sources

“Passenger Car Rental.” Encyclopedia of Global Industries. Dec. 2004. Gale group. 02 Feb 2005. http://galenet.galegroup.com.ucfproxy.fcla.edu/servlet/BCRC.

“Car & Truck Rental.” Hoover’s AB&D Company. Jan. 2005 . Hoovers. 04 Feb 2005. http://premium.hoovers.com.ucfproxy.fcla.edu/subscribe/ind/factsheet.xhtm. “

Rental car foes war on each other’s turf.” The Associate Press. Fall 2004. The Enquirer. 08 March 2005. http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/10/11/biz_rentalcars111.html.

“United States – Car Rental.” Data Monitor Industry Market Research. Nov. 2004. Gale. 12 March 2005. http://search.rdsinc.com.ucfproxy.fcla.edu/sessions?products=BNI.

“A synthesis of tactical fleet planning models for the car rental industry.” IIE Transactions. Sept. 2003. Gale. 12 March 2005. [http://www.fleet-central.com/arn/01stat3.cfm].

“Corporate travel plans moving to Web.” Crain’s Chicago Business. Apr. 2001. ProQuest. 12 March 2005. http://www.proquest.com.ucfproxy.fcla.edu.

“Tracy Esch.” “Car rental market leaders make rebound .” Business Travel News. May 2002. Gale. 12 March 2005. http://search.rdsinc.com.ucfproxy.fcla.edu.

“Avis Equips Rental Car with Satcomms 1999.” Newsbytes News Network. Oct. 1999. Gale. 12 March 2005. http://search.rdsinc.com.ucfproxy.fcla.edu.

“Car Rental In the United States.” Data Monitor Industry Market Research. Nov. 2004 . Gale. 13 March 2005. http://search.rdsinc.com.ucfproxy.fcla.edu.

“Global – Car Rental.” Data Monitor Industry Market Research. Nov. 2004 . Gale. 13 March 2005. http://search.rdsinc.com.ucfproxy.fcla.edu.

“Corporate and Travel Trends.” Travel Trade Gazette. Nov. 2003 . ProQuest. 14 March 2005. http://www.proquest.com.ucfproxy.fcla.edu.

“Car rental market leaders make rebound.” Business Travel News. May. 2002 . Gale. 14 March 2005. http://search.rdsinc.com.ucfproxy.fcla.edu.

“Car rental market leaders make rebound.” Business Travel News. May. 2002 . Gale. 14 March 2005. http://search.rdsinc.com.ucfproxy.fcla.edu.

“Ovation Travel.” Wall Street Transcript. May. 2002 . LexisNexis. 14 March 2004. http://www.lexisnexis.com.ucfproxy.fcla.edu/cis.

“Avis Offers New Deal for Free Weekends.” Newswire. Feb. 2004 . LexisNexis. 15 March 2004. http://www.lexisnexis.com.ucfproxy.fcla.edu/cis.

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Xiaomi Wowstick 1fs, Any Geek Like You Deserves It

For geeks, an excellent screwdriver is of the essence. However, at the moment, mobile phones and laptops come with too many screws. Thus, it’s difficult to manually screw down all of them one by one. If there is an automatic screwdriver, everything would be nice. Yes, with this Xiaomi electric screwdriver, Wowstick 1fs, all these previous manual screwdrivers can be thrown away. And now, let’s check this novelty in detail.

Packaging

Wowstick-1fs is packaged with a rectangular cardboard. And the product box looks like an ordinary glasses case. At the bottom of the box, there is the manufacturer’s information. Lying on the inside, there are 18 types of screwdriver bits and the electric screwdriver.

Product Features

Wowstick 1fs comes with a slim S2 aluminum alloy housing body with pen shape design, which makes it easy to use. And the ultra-precision flexible circuit design ensures a long lifetime. The USB port charging design provides the ample power timely. And the LED shadowless lighting with independent switch design offers clear vision when you using.

Equipped with the magnetic board, Wowstick 1fs holds the screws taking off from the repairing items, with no screws lost. At the same time, the automatic operation design ensures high working efficiency. This device supports multi-functions, including screwing, drilling, and threading, and meets your different working demands in daily repairing.

Built-in 2 batteries, it’s officially said that the battery can last for 8-24 hours. Generally speaking, you can replace the battery every three days. But I suggest that you can try to use rechargeable batteries for saving money and more eco-friendly.

Comparison with Wowstick 1f

Compared to its predecessor, Wowstick 1f, 1fs is upgraded to the whole aluminum body and increased by the shadowless LED light source. As for the annex part, all batches are made of imported S2 alloy steel. And the product box is also improved. The surface of the box can be cleaned and the internal magnet structure is reinforced. What’s more, the platen cover on the inside lining is incorporate.

Summary

In general, Wowstick 1fs is a very good screwdriver. Compared with most manumotive screwdriver currently on the market, it performs better in doing work. With a weight of 166g, it is not heavy and feels good when being held. The operation is also very convenient and easy. If you’re a geek or computer maintenance personnel, you deserve this Xiaomi Wowstick 1fs. And I trust it would be a good helper in your daily life.

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Sound System Rental – Exciting Sound Enhancements You Could Use In A Dance Party Setting

When you are putting together a dance party and are compelled for one reason or another to use sound system rental, there are several options that you can add to your rental that can significantly enhance the overall experience of the participants and can make your dance party an even greater success.

What makes a dance party memorable should have the components of unexpected, participatory, and emotional. The unexpected sound enhancements will catch the audience’s attention. Audience’s participation makes the event much more memorable, and, depending on what happens, also quite emotional.

When picking music system rentals, especially speaker rentals, it will behoove you to know what options you will have to choose from.

We will first go over the must-have sound components for a dance party, and then mention the possible optional extensions which enhance the unexpected components, participatory components, and emotional components of your audio visual equipment rental.

Must-have components of a sound system rental

These are the bare minimum components of a portable sound system for a good sound experience when throwing a dance party:

  • A pair of powered heavy duty speakers with the 800 Watt to 1500 Watt maximal power load. The speakers must come with high enough speaker stands for maximum sound clarity and range.
  • A minimum of four-channel mixer to allow mixing of iPod, turntable, CD, and microphone sounds. You want to avoid long pauses between songs, and want to be ready to bring on the music that will get people back to the dance floor.
  • The sound sources of choice, the iPod or an MP3 player, one or more CD players, and at least one microphone.

Sound enhancements to your DJ rental equipment to spice up your dance party

This is the additional audio video, AV rental equipment that, when used in moderation, can significantly enhance the sound itself, and make for a more memorable dance experience:

  • DJ machines, including DJ turntables, DJ CD turntables, and DJ MP3 turntables. Depending on your DJing skills, these could add significantly to the experience for dance parties. At a bare minimum, experience with mixing the music inputs will be very valuable.
  • Karaoke machines, could be valuable for certain parties
  • A multi channel mixer with digital effects, such as vocal reverb can add a new dimension and can enhance singers sound, when used sparingly.
  • One or two additional, wired or wireless microphones
  • A fog machine with sufficient fog supply. Works best in a dark, environment with a light show.
  • Tekno bubbles, a blacklight sensitive UV bubbles, they glow in the dark when shone on by the black light.

If you implement just a few of these additional sound enhancements in your dance party, you will likely find that people will come back to you after the event and thank you for a job well done. Your enhanced AV rental equipment will be well worth the money spent.

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Choosing The Right Insurance Agent

Personality of the Insurance Agent

Have conversations with prospective agents. Explain your situation and ask for a quote. Simply asking does not mean you have to work with them. This is a chance for you to get a feel for how they work and if you’re comfortable with them.

There are 2 types of Insurance Agents:

A. Independent Agents – These are people who own a small business who represents or an affiliate of a number of insurance companies.

B. Direct Insurance Agents – A direct insurance company sells directly to you without an agent, typically online.

Best choice:

Go with the Independent Agent since they have the opportunity to offer you a best match price and coverage for your needs. They have all the data that they can compare between insurance companies. They sell a variety of insurance and financial products, including property, life, casualty, health, disability and long-term care insurance. They are your one-stop-shop for insurance needs.

2. Credentials

A knowledgeable insurance agent can give advice when deciding what coverage and limits a client needs to protect their family and investments. An insurance agent who have credentials has attestation of qualification, authority or competence, and guaranteed professional in the field of insurance industry.

Nice to Have:

  • CFP – Certified Financial Planner.
  • CLU – Chartered Life Underwriter
  • CPCU – Chartered Property & Casualty Underwriter
  • ChFC – Chartered Financial Consultant
  • PFS – Personal Financial Specialist
  • CIC – Certified Insurance Counselor
  • ARM – Associate in Risk Management

Licensing

Before buying an insurance from an insurance agent, make sure that the agent has a license to sell insurance. It’s like a patient consulting a doctor and the doctor is required to get a license before they can provide prescriptions. Each state requires insurance agents to hold a license to sell policies. Some states require separate licenses to sell property and casualty insurance versus life and health insurance.

3. Client Feed Backs

While you’re checking whether the agent is licensed, also check to see if they’ve had complaints filed against them. For the company, you can check the NAIC’s CIS or call your state insurance department. The insurance department can also tell you if any complaints have been filed against the agent. You also might check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any consumers have filed complaints – or compliments – about the agents you’re considering.

4. Ask Questions

It is okay to ask questions when looking for an agent. In fact, you should be asking questions when deciding who you want to work with. Some good questions are:

  • What are your areas of expertise?
  • What is your reach? Are you local? Statewide? Nationwide?
  • What is your experience in my industry? How many years have you been writing this type of insurance?
  • Do you have any client references?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How many companies do you represent? Which ones?

Of course there are lots of factor to consider when choosing an insurance agent. Take note of the most important things when trusting someone to provide you with the best coverage for your business needs. You always have an option to switch agents, but it is much better to do a research beforehand to find the great insurance partner.

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Transformational Leadership Theory – The 4 Key Components in Leading Change & Managing Change

Transformational leadership theory is all about leadership that creates positive change in the followers whereby they take care of each other’s interests and act in the interests of the group as a whole. James MacGregor Burns first brought the concept of transformational leadership to prominence in his extensive research into leadership.

“Essentially the leader’s task is consciousness-raising on a wide plane. The leader’s fundamental act is to induce people to be aware or conscious of what they feel – to feel their true needs so strongly, to define their values so meaningfully, that they can be moved to purposeful action.”

In this leadership style, the leader enhances the motivation, moral and performance of his follower group. So according to MacGregor – transformational leadership is all about values and meaning, and a purpose that transcends short-term goals and focuses on higher order needs.

At times of organisational change, and big step change, people do feel insecure, anxious and low in energy – so in these situations and especially in these difficult times, enthusiasm and energy are infectious and inspiring.

And yet so many organisational changes fail because leaders pay attention to the changes they are facing instead of the transitions people must make to accommodate them.

In my view it is the responsibility of the director leading the change to supply an infusion of positive energy.
The transformational approach also depends on winning the trust of people – which is made possible by the unconscious assumption that they too will be changed or transformed in some way by following the leader.

The transformational approach also depends on winning the trust of people – which is made possible by the unconscious assumption that they too will be changed or transformed in some way by following the leader.

This is often seen in military commanders and wartime political leaders. An example of this would be the way in which Lady Thatcher – as Prime Minister of the UK Government during the Falklands War in 1982 – was able to engender an enhanced feeling of British national identity amongst the UK population.

Sounds like this leadership style is ideally suited to change management, doesn’t it? However – this approach requires absolute integrity and personal behaviour that is consistent and resonant with your vision and message.

I can recall a ridiculous situation, at one UK company I was involved with, where the directors were attempting to effect a culture change of greater inter-departmental trust and communication yet still retained a separate directors dining room and specially allocated car parking places closest to the office front door!

OK here’s the important bit – how NOT to apply transformational leadership theory to change management

– Be preoccupied with power, position, politics and perks
– Stay focused on the short-term
– Be hard data oriented
– Focus on tactical issues
– Work within existing structures and systems
– Concentrate on getting the job done
– Focus processes and activities that guarantee short-term profits

Doesn’t all this just sound like a description of a typical good project manager with a task driven mentality?

And hey, I have nothing against this style of leadership and management. There is a time and place for the Attila the Hun school of leadership. I have done it many times myself and very effectively – and with no regrets.

But, this leadership style is not enough in a change management situation and particularly in the current climate.

The four components of the transformational leadership style are:

(1) Charisma or idealised influence – the degree to which the leader behaves in admirable ways and displays convictions and takes stands that cause followers to identify with the leader who has a clear set of values and acts as a role model for the followers.

(2) Inspirational motivation – the degree to which the leader articulates a vision that is appeals to and inspires the followers with optimism about future goals, and offers meaning for the current tasks in hand.

(3) Intellectual stimulation – the degree to which the leader challenges assumptions, stimulates and encourages creativity in the followers – by providing a framework for followers to see how they connect [to the leader, the organisation, each other, and the goal] they can creatively overcome any obstacles in the way of the mission.

(4) Personal and individual attention – the degree to which the leader attends to each individual follower’s needs and acts as a mentor or coach and gives respect to and appreciation of the individual’s contribution to the team. This fulfills and enhances each individual team members’ need for self-fulfillment, and self-worth – and in so doing inspires followers to further achievement and growth.

Transformational leadership applied in a change management context, is ideally suited to the holistic and wide view perspective of a programme based approach to change management and as such is key element of successful strategies for managing change.

And, to ensure that you ARE employing successful strategies for managing change – that are appropriate to your organisation – you need to know how to apply: (a) these transformational leadership skills, AND (b) how to apply the supporting programme management based processes – to ensure that you avoid the catastrophic 70% failure rate of ALL business change initiatives.

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