Women in Business: Carolina Toro-Gerstein, CEO and Founder of Poncho Baby Inc

Carolina Toro-Gerstein, CEO and founder of Poncho Baby Inc., is dedicated to designing products that are stylish, multifunctional, compact and eco-friendly. She was inspired to launch Poncho Baby after having her two girls, when she found it hard to find chic, multipurpose, made-in-the-U.S. baby products.



Prior to creating Poncho Baby, she had been in the corporate world, working for Citibank, Oracle and Yahoo!, where she gained extensive knowledge about online advertising, finance, marketing and product development, both within the U.S. and internationally. During that phase, Carolina was named one of the Top 100 Hispanics in Technology and listed in Top 50 Colombian Professionals.



Her extensive international travels affected her sense of design, as she observed each culture's unique sense of style and came to appreciate simplicity and functionality.



Poncho Baby began with a patent-pending nursing cover, and the product line has since expanded. The brand is carried in stores nationwide and has received multiple accolades, including the 2014 Family Choice Award, Mom's Best Award, Baby Maternity Magazine's Top Choice 2013 Award, and the National Parenting Publications Award.



Carolina is now focused on expanding Poncho Baby into the international market. She lives in Los Angeles with her family.




How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

The most significant experience was becoming a mother, which inspired me to launch Poncho Baby. But my previous corporate experience was with large companies-- Citibank, Oracle and Yahoo!--and international teams, spread from Asia, to Latin America to Europe. Working on a global scale taught me to be very agile, as the markets and customers' needs change very rapidly. Leading such diverse teams, I saw how important it is to develop a collaborative and positive environment, which motivates people to achieve their full potential.



How has your previous employment experience aided your position at Poncho Baby?

Because of the prior management roles --and my MBA--I have extensive knowledge about business management, online advertising, finance and product development, both within the U.S. and internationally. I saw businesses around the world, small to large, grow by creating successful products using a customer focus and effective marketing campaigns. My sense of design was strongly influenced by my travels; I love seeing each culture's unique sense of style, and I understand the importance of simplicity and functionality. This all provided an excellent foundation when it came time to run my own business.



What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Poncho Baby?

The biggest highlights have been all the positive feedback I get from moms around the country. The multiple awards from experts and moms have also validated all the work I've put into growing Poncho Baby. And it's been very rewarding to become part of a wonderful network of women and mom-entrepreneurs who support each other in growing our brands.



The biggest challenge was moving from the software industry into manufacturing. I had decided tolove challenges and have enjoyed learning about the garment industry in LA. I have been very fortunate to meet great mentors and very supportive and reliable teams, like my sewers, pattern makers, and cutting teams, which has been a great asset for Poncho Baby.



What advice can you offer women who are seeking to start their own business?

Surround yourself with a support group of friends, family and other entrepreneurs. And support other women. Understand the needs of your customer and the competitive landscape before you launch a new product. Be willing to take risks; while you'll create a business plan, you'll have to continually modify and enhance it. You may have to evolve your ideas when the need arises.



How do you maintain a work/life balance?

It's always a challenge. I have a wonderful husband, who is very supportive, and he provides the Dad's perspective when we develop new products. Since each day has new challenges, I believe it is very important to define your priorities and then move forward. When there are snafus, you adjust and keep moving. Moms always want to do it all, yet is very important to take care of ourselves. When I have a break, I love to do yoga, swim, bike, hike or read a good book.



What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?

The lack of work flexibility. Women are very talented, hard working and great at multitasking. However, due to the lack of work flexibility, many talented, career-driven women have moved out of corporate America to start their own business or to care full- time for their kids. With Millennials placing a greater emphasis on personal values, companies could benefit from providing flexible career paths to leadership, which will attract and retain talented Millennials and also women from all generations.



How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal lives?

It's been so important to me, and I think you need to have both male and female mentors. When I worked at Citibank, I had a wonderful male mentor who gave me a lot of support and taught me how to drive my ideas in the male-dominated, high-stakes trading industry that is Wall Street. Later, when I was in the process of launching Poncho Baby, I was very fortunate to meet with Melisa Fluhr, cofounder of Project Nursery, a children's design resource company. She has been an amazing mentor by providing great feedback about our products and helping guide me to the best venues to work with.



Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

I love that Sheryl Sandberg encourages women, from a young age, to become leaders and to help each other. She also encourages women to excel in a male dominated industry such as technology. Shakira, a fellow Colombian, has been a great role model for young people. She is a fantastic singer, but also a great philanthropist. She has devoted time and effort to her foundation Pies Descalsos (it means Bare Feet), which helps disadvantaged children get access to education. Lori Caden, CEO of Belly Bandit, launched a company with her sisters and transformed it into a worldwide brand. Lori has been a great mentor to Poncho Baby as well.



What do you want Poncho Baby to accomplish in the next year?

We'll keep creating products that are stylish, multifunctional, compact and eco-friendly, but we'll dramatically expand our suite of colors and products. We are planning to launch our new suite of products this fall. We're also going international with our distribution, which is really exciting.



Business Feed :


Publicis Groupe Buys Social Media Shop in Italy

Erik Oster - September 30, 2014 at 10:10PM

Publicis Groupe today acquired Ambito5, a leading social media agency in Italy.


The shop, which has 45 employees and works on brands such as Barilla, Swatch and L'Oréal, will be integrated into another Publicis Groupe unit: Saatchi & Saatchi Italy. Why? Because Ambito5 has already worked closely with Saatchi on ads for the likes of Toyota, Lexus, Procter & Gamble and Ferrarelle.


Ambito5 general manager Giuseppe Mayer will maintain his current role, while founder Max Brondolo will become president of the board of directors. Saatchi Italy CEO Giuseppe Caiazza, meanwhile, will join the board as well.


"We are confident that this addition will further strengthen our creative and digital leadership in Italy," Caiazza said, in a statement.


Brondolo, for his part, said that Ambito5 had been "looking for a way to bring a global dimension" to its services for awhile.


Publicis Groupe has been on acquisition spree of late. Also this month, the holding company bought Berlin-based business-to-business marketing agency Zweimaleins to create a new German b-to-b agency know as Saatchi & Saatchi Pro. Other deals involved design agency Turner Duckworth, design consultancy Nurun and digital shop Arcade, in which Publicis Groupe took a minority stake.






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Apple Gets Illegal Tax Rebates From Ireland, EU Says

Apple-ireland

BRUSSELS — Ireland appears to be granting Apple illegal tax rebates that may have to be recouped, the European Union's competition watchdog said Tuesday as it pressed on with an inquiry into the iPhone maker's overseas tax practices.


If the EU's preliminary finding is confirmed over the coming months, Apple could face a repayment bill worth billions of dollars because it funnels the bulk of its international sales through subsidiaries in Ireland, where it benefits from low, negotiated tax deals.


In a letter to the Irish government published Tuesday, the 28-nation bloc's executive Commission said the tax treatment granted to Apple "constitutes state aid" and therefore raises "doubts about the compatibility" with EU law. Read more...


More about Taxes, Apple, Eu, Business, and World





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Toyota Hilux: Unbreakable Drivers


















Advertising Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, Sydney, Australia

Executive Creative Director: MIke Spirkovski

Creative Director: Steve Carlin

Art Director: Wassim Kanaan

Copywriter: Emma Lord

Executive Producer: Adrian Shapiro

Agency Executive Producer: Llew Griffiths

Sound Design: Nylon Studios

DoP: John Toon

Agency Producer: Greg Fyson

Production Company: Scoundrel

Director: Tim Bullock

Post production: Cutting Edge

Editor: Jack Hutchings / The Butchery







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You Can't Study College Coaches Without Looking at the Players

According to Deadspin, in 2013 the highest paid public employee in 27 different states was a college football coach. In 13 other states, it was a college basketball coach. For some, this might suggest that the public is devoting too much money to college sports. In fact, one might even argue that these coaches are overpaid.






In a recent article in the New York Times , though, a different story was told. According to an unpublished study by two University of Vanderbilt researchers, college coaches are worth the money because of the revenue these coaches bring to the university. In the words of Randall Thomas (the lead author of the study): "Coaches are running large programs that have tremendous value. They are creating great value, and they are being paid for creating that value."






The Vanderbilt study reaches this conclusion by comparing the salaries paid to college football coaches to the salaries paid to CEOs of public companies. Although the authors acknowledge some differences between the two sets of leaders -- for example, college coaches tend to get fired faster and thus college contracts are more focused on how employment can be terminated -- they find that in general the compensation of college coaches compares favorably to the wages paid to CEOs. In both cases wages are high. However -- as the authors argue -- it appears this compensation is "structurally aligned with value creation" for the employer (shareholders of firms or universities). And if you think the level of CEO pay is warranted, you would have to conclude that what college coaches receive is reasonable as well.






One could easily argue that CEOs may not be worth their compensation. But I think there is a more significant problem with the argument made in this study. If you read through the 53-page study, you will not find any mention of one very large difference between the labor market a typical CEO faces and the labor market that exists in college sports.






A typical CEO must hire labor in a competitive labor market. This means that firms often have to offer higher wages to attract better talent. In college sports, though, this is not allowed. Teams are prohibited from paying their players beyond the cost of attending the institution.






We can see the impact of this restriction if we make another -- perhaps more relevant -- comparison. As part of my testimony in the Northwestern University football player's union case, I noted that in 2013 the 32 NFL head coaches were paid an average wage of $4.6 million. That same year, the average wage of the top 32 college football coaches -- according to data from USA Today --was $3.4 million. So top college coaches are paid about 74 percent of what a top NFL coach receives.






Now let's turn to a different comparison. The U.S. Department of Education reports how much revenue each college football program earned from 2003 to 2012. If we look at the top 32 programs (ranked in terms of revenue) in 2012, we see that the average program earned $56.9 million. That same year -- according to Forbes.com (data we can find at the website of Rod Fort at the University of Michigan) -- the average NFL team earned $286.5 million in revenue. So a top college program earns less than 20 percent of the revenue earned by a top NFL team. This disparity, though, is not reflected in the wages paid to the coaches.






One might argue that a college coach does more than an NFL coach. After all, a college coach has to not only coach the players, he must also recruit these athletes. In other words, a college coach is both coach and general manager. But even when we look at the wages paid to GM/Coaches in the NFL (i.e. Bill Bilichick and Mike Shanahan in 2013), it still appears that college coaches are paid much more than their organization's revenues would suggest. In 2013, Belichick and Shanahan were each paid 1.8 percent of their respective team's revenues. In contrast, the coaches at the top 32 college programs in 2012 were paid 5.5 percent of their respective revenues; or three times more than one might expect when looking at NFL compensation. In sum, it appears college football coaches -- relative to their counterparts in the NFL -- are overpaid.






But isn't the success of a college team -- unlike what we might believe about the NFL -- all about the coach? Certainly that seems to be the story told when a college fires a coach and spends significant money on a new leader for the program. A recent study in the Social Science Quarterly , though, cast doubt on this tale. Looking at data from college football from 1997 to 2010, the authors of this study found "that for particularly poorly performing teams, coach replacements have little effect on team performance as measured against comparable teams that did not replace their coach. However, for teams with middling records -- that is, teams where entry conditions for a new coach appear to be more favorable -- replacing the head coach appears to result in worse performance over subsequent years than comparable teams who retained their coach."






This study is consistent with a number of studies of coaching in sports. Academic research typically fails to find that coaches have a significant impact on outcomes in sports. And this may be why professional teams pay more to their players than they do to their coaches and/or managers.






Of course, that is not the case in college sports. Once again, wages in college football are restricted by NCAA rules. To see how much they are restricted, let's think about what professional players are paid. Stefan Szymanski at the University of Michigan recently noted that National Football League players were paid 52 percent of revenues in 2012.






A college football program has 85 scholarship players. If these players were paid 52 percent of team revenue in 2012, the average player at a top 32 program would have received $337,284. However, the average Football Bowl Subdivision program -- according to the USA Today -- offered a scholarship worth only $27,293 in 2011. This suggests that because of NCAA restrictions, college football players are dramatically underpaid.






And that suggests -- once again -- that college football coaches might be overpaid. Unfortunately, the Vanderbilt study doesn't touch upon the role the players play in this story. In fact, one might conclude from this study that it is the coaches who are primarily responsible for creating the value we see in these programs. And again, that story is inconsistent with other academic studies of coaching.






But anyone who watches college football has to notice that there are players on the field. And clearly those players matter. We can see this -- as Rod Fort and Jason Winfree noted -- by looking at the tremendous effort coaches expend to recruit specific players. In fact, the Vanderbilt study notes that prospective coaches are evaluated in terms of their ability to recruit. If those specific players didn't matter, coaches could just collect a few players from local high schools and then employ the coaches wisdom to achieve victory. Instead, coaches at each program search the nation (and in other sports, the world) to find the athletes they need to achieve success.






When that success is achieved, the coaches get paid while the players -- relative to what they would be paid in a professional sport -- get paid much less. To offer a study of college coaches that ignores the nature of the college sport player market seems to be -- at a minimum -- incomplete. And certainly not enough to conclude that college coaches are worth -- in the words of one agent for the coaches -- "every penny" they are paid.






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A Vincent Van Gogh Still Life Is Up For Auction, All You Need Is $30 Million

NEW YORK (AP) — A bouquet of wildflowers painted by Vincent van Gogh weeks before his death is going on the auction block in New York City.



Sotheby's says "Still Life, Vase With Daisies and Poppies" could sell for $30 million to $50 million on Nov. 4. Van Gogh painted it at the home of his physician, Dr. Paul Gachet, in 1890. It's one of the few works he sold during his lifetime.



One of the founders of the Museum of Modern Art, A. Conger Goodyear, acquired it in 1928. It remained in the family for decades.



It was on permanent exhibition at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo for 30 years. The current owner purchased it around 1990.



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Bill de Blasio, Adam Smith and the Living Wage Movement

"It is but equity that they who feed, clothe, and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labour as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed and lodged." -- Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations



2014-09-30-smithdeblasio3.jpg





Don't let Adam Smith fool you. He wasn't talking about a "living wage." He was talking about a "minimum wage" that was set at a decent level. The difference matters, and will matter more as America confronts its income inequality problem.



A "minimum wage" is a government-established standard for what a private-sector employer must pay to a private-sector employee. It's been law since the New Deal, varying from state to state. It affects all employers, as defined in law, and is seen as a basic worker protection. The right says it depresses employment; the left says it assures decent compensation and has no long-term effect on jobs.



A "living wage" is something different, although there's a lot of sloppy verbiage about it and the two are often used interchangeably. A "living wage" is considerably higher than a minimum wage and is required only of those employers who receive significant public benefits. In other words, if you get taxpayer money to build your project, then people who are employed there are to be paid a higher wage than the marketplace would offer. If you get a public subsidy, you pay your employees enough to live on. If you don't want to pay a living wage, don't take the subsidy.



There's a lot more to living wage proposals than emotional appeals to help working families and reaction to corporate welfare. Increasing wages will increase spendable income, which will increase demand, which will increase economic activity that benefits everyone. It's anti-austerity economics turned into a workable program.



Whatever opposition exists to government wage setting, there's little intellectual basis for opposing government setting economic conditions when it gives public money to a private person. Developers and other corporate beneficiaries of taxpayer largesse don't have much of a place to stand when they oppose living wages. Even otherwise sensible developers like New York's Doug Durst fall back on untrue-isms used against the minimum wage: "If you mandate that people get higher benefits at projects that the city puts money into, you're not going to get tenants." That's just holdover nonsense from the Bloomberg era.



The rise in national concern about income inequality has been a little slow to develop workable remedies. They will come as more thinking is devoted to it and as Americans demand government action to undo the policies that have concentrated wealth and made it hard to live for average working families. Living wage proposals seem to be the fastest and easiest to explain of the current remedies.



The left's newest icon, Mayor Bill de Blasio, has just jumped to the front of the line of living wage proponents, deciding to greatly expand the number of workers covered and the amount they will receive. It's a solid proposal, but needs better explaining. The public has generally accepted the idea of minimum wage increases. But support for living wage increases, because they're tied to public subsidies for corporations, will be bigger, faster and more sustained. It should be Number One in de Blasio's ambition to create a progressive model for workable, efficient government.



Shifts in public opinion are faster than the development of concrete remedies. So it is with living wage proposals. But the combination of Bill de Blasio and Adam Smith should be enough to kick-start a national upsurge of living wage laws. It's good economics and it's good policy.



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Why Hong Kong's #OccupyCentral Used Nonviolent Action as Tactic

Coauthored by Jamila Raqib



The Occupy Movement has returned and is resurrecting itself in Hong Kong. But in this case, the "occupying" is not associating itself with the Occupy Wall Street of recent years. Instead, a new political initiative in Hong Kong -- called Occupy Central -- is becoming an important political force that may threaten China's continued domination of Hong Kong.



Occupy Central, or OC, was created with the primary objective of attaining universal suffrage -- the right to vote as determined by international standards -- which Hong Kong currently does not have. This year, OC plans to mobilize Hong Kong citizens and has planned a series of actions, including a sit-in involving more than 10,000 participants to block roads in the central business district of Hong Kong. Its primary means of struggle is the use of nonviolent action and, specifically, civil disobedience as a means to achieve its objectives.



When Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997, Beijing pledged "a high degree of autonomy," within a one country, two systems model. Yet, candidates for Hong Kong's political leader position, the chief executive, are currently chosen by an election committee that many believe is loyal to Beijing. Beijing has insisted that candidates must "love country" (i.e. China) and "love Hong Kong" in order to run in the elections.



The good news here is that China is set to grant, albeit with some caveats, universal suffrage to Hong Kong by 2017. Hong Kong citizens fear that Beijing will not honor this agreement, however, which is why Occupy Central is preparing now, in advance. They hope to deter a possible future crisis that could result from China's failure to honor the agreement and to conduct a struggle if deterrence fails.



Led by Benny Tai, Professor Chan Kin-man and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, OC has a diverse coordinating committee and, according to Tai, major decisions will be made by the participation of every person. The final decision regarding the occupation of the business district, according to OC, will be determined by a popular vote, not by the leadership.



The plan to occupy is the last resort in the OC Hong Kong strategy. They're first seeking a dialogue with the government in an effort to reach a settlement before a call to direct action. The condition for civil disobedience, according to Tai, is that you have to exhaust all legal channels. If negotiation and bargaining with Beijing fails, then they will occupy, suggesting that the whole city may have to be closed down.



OC's aims are not solely short-term or suffrage-based. A large component of OC is to educate Hong Kong residents on the benefits of nonviolent resistance and prepare them to use civil disobedience as a means to place limits on the power of leaders they see as illegitimate, empowering Hong Kong to deal not only with this threat but with future threats as well. The movement's commitment to nonviolent resistance was visible on New Year's Day, when thousands of Hong Kong citizens marched for political reform. Participants used the march as an occasion to learn and practice nonviolent action techniques, forming human chains and protecting themselves from possible police violence.



The idea that a society can successfully develop and apply a defense policy based on nonviolent struggle is not new. OC, like many movements before it, is attempting to produce a defense capacity that is strong enough and organized enough to convince a potential attacker -- in this case, China -- not to aggress because the consequences of an aggressive action could be unacceptably costly and ultimately unsuccessful.



By announcing in advance its plans to nonviolently disrupt economic activity in central Hong Kong, OC is keen to increase the cost of Beijing's potential decision to not grant Hong Kong universal suffrage. The nonviolent strategy here is to make life very difficult for Hong Kong -- and, consequently, China -- if Beijing does not honor its promise.



OC is transparent and open about its demands and strategy because its members understand that nonviolent action operates differently than violent struggle. Secrecy in a nonviolent movement does little to prevent government surveillance or otherwise protect groups from any well-organized police or security forces. Rather, it closes the movement off from potential support. Nonviolent struggle does not depend on secrecy, but requires openness in order to be effective.



China is clearly concerned with Occupy Central, and has allegedly employed hackers and Beijing loyalists to infiltrate the movement. Going forward, how China handles the demands and actions of Occupy Central may, to a large degree, determine the future of the movement.



If China uses repression against people who are committed to nonviolent struggle it may face significant repercussions. Beijing may not be ready for blowback and the effects of "political jiu jitsu." China's capacity to apply punishment may inspire a greater number of supporters for the Occupy Central movement, cause fissures and fracturing within the Communist Party and its local supporters, and build sympathy and support among third parties in the international community. The wise move, then, would be for Beijing to honor suffrage-related promises and to pay heed to Occupy Central demands, because it's not going away anytime soon.



______________



Michael Shank, Ph.D., is associate director for legislative affairs at the Friends Committee on National Legislation and adjunct faculty at George Mason University's School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. Jamila Raqib is the executive director of the Albert Einstein Institution, a nonprofit organization founded by Dr. Gene Sharp in 1983 to advance the study and use of strategic nonviolent action in conflicts throughout the world. This op-ed originally ran in US News & World Report in March 2014.



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News Corp to buy property website firm Move for $950m

Purchase will provide new revenue source for Rupert Murdochs company in tough market for traditional media advertising

Rupert Murdochs News Corp has agreed to buy Move, a US property website business, for $950m (£586m) in a bet on the recovery in the worlds biggest housing market.


News Corp will buy 80% of the realtor.com owners shares and REA Group, an Australian property site controlled by News Corp, will buy the remaining 20%.


Continue reading...



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Is No One Legally Liable for a Defectively Installed Handicap Accessible Shower Bench?

The Tennessee Supreme Court recently declined to impose liability on either an independent contractor or a hotel owner when a defectively installed handicap accessible shower bench broke, causing injuries to a paralyzed hotel guest (Parker v. Holiday Hospitality Franchising). The independent contractor had improperly installed the bench with the improper installation covered by sheetrock. The independent contractor was not liable since a Tennessee statute of repose limits claims for negligent construction to four years from when a certificate of occupancy has been issued. The hotel owner was not liable since he had no "actual or constructive notice" of the defective condition. The manufacturer of the bench was never sued, likely because the installation instructions were not followed. Presumably the individual worker who improperly did the installation is unknown. Consequently, the injured hotel guest is unable to hold anyone legally liable for his serious injuries.





The Tennessee Supreme Court in reciting the facts noted that the guest saw that the bench supporting brackets were pulled away from the wall about an eight of an inch. He requested another room but none was available. The hotel maintenance man tightened the bracket bolts to the wall and then saw that it did not move. The guest also pushed on the bench and it "seemed strong." However, the Tennessee Supreme Court made no mention of assumption of the risk or an open and obvious danger in its opinion. To the contrary, the Court emphasized that the defective installation was hidden by a wall installed by the independent contractor.





The Tennessee Supreme Court wrote that "a property owner is not vicariously liable for injuries third parties sustain from the negligence of an independent contractor." While the Court noted that the "accepted work doctrine" and the "nondelegable duty to the public" rules might impose liability, neither applied in this case. The accepted work doctrine would transfer the negligence of an independent contractor to the premises owner, but Tennessee no longer follows this rule. The nondelegable duty rule applies when a private party assumes a duty that the government owes the public. That rule also does not apply to this case.





The Tennessee Supreme Court additionally wrote that business owners are required to exercise due care to the public (premises liability). However, that duty does not extend to conditions where no unreasonable risk would be anticipated or the risk could not be discovered with the exercise of reasonable care. The Court stated that to make the hotel owner liable in this case would "destroy the distinction the law makes between agents and independent contractors" and "transform property owners into insurers of the negligence of independent contractors." "We decline to adopt such a rule."





The Tennessee Supreme Court concluded that the hotel owner did not have notice of the defective bench. The owner did not have actual notice since he did not inspect the construction while it was in progress. He did not have constructive notice since he had never received any complaints concerning shower benches, the problem was hidden behind a wall, and visible inspections and physical pressure tests by the hotel maintenance man and the hotel guest failed to reveal any defects. Additionally, the hotel owner had no duty to inspect the independent contractor's work.





There are several forks in the road in this situation. The Tennessee Supreme Court could have concluded that the hotel maintenance man's work imposed a duty of careful work and complete inspection on the hotel owner. Precisely why were the bench brackets not tight against the wall? The Court could have applied the accepted work doctrine and transferred the negligence of the independent contractor to the hotel owner. The Court could have explored handicap accessible standards as creating a nondelegable duty of proper and safe installation. The Court could have decided that actual notice of a defect was provided to the hotel owner when it could be seen that the brackets were not tight against the wall.



The injured hotel guest could have filed suit more quickly in order to attempt to impose liability on the independent contractor. The certificate of occupancy for the hotel was issued on July 31, 2006. The hotel guest fell on May 13, 2010. The hotel guest first visited a hospital on May 14, 2010. Apparently the hotel guest discovered more serious injuries when he returned home to California. The four year statute of repose for negligent construction claims (running from July 31, 2006) apparently would not have expired at this point. The lawsuit was filed on May 11, 2011.



In any event, the initial question remains: Is no one legally liable for a defectively installed hotel handicap accessible shower bench?



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Alibaba gets OK to become a bank in China

China Alibaba IPO Tech Champions

Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group has won approval from China’s bank regulator to launch a private commercial bank in its home city of Hangzhou.






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33 Ways to Fix Being Utterly Bored at Work

28 Secrets of Exceptionally Productive People

7 Affordable Resources for Self-Employed Workers

Homeoffice

Today's career landscape is bizarre by Boomer standards: 23-year-olds are CEOs, working parents are running businesses out of their living rooms and work-from-home opportunities abound in almost every industry.


Given these recent trends in the career industry, it's unsurprising that more and more employees are considering becoming their own boss — and many get the opportunity to do so. The "virtualization" of jobs, the influx of startup culture and the rise of the gig economy are all contributing factors to increasing opportunities for self-employed workers.



More about Freelance, Job Search Series, Business, Jobs, and Mashable Careers





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Microsoft Overhauls MSN Ahead of Big Windows Announcement

Msn1

Microsoft released a completely redesigned MSN web portal ahead of its scheduled Windows announcement on Tuesday.


The company also announced new versions of its MSN apps on Windows and Windows Phone 8.1 will become available on Tuesday



The new site is built on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform, which the company says will increase its reliability and “agility for a cloud-first, mobile-first world.”


Microsoft released a preview of the site on Sept. 7, and let users test out several new features, including customizable topics and new mobile integration features. Read more...


More about Microsoft, Msn, Business, Media, and Dev Design





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The Employee Benefit That Costs Little But Delivers Big

Sponsored Post

Employee Benefit That Costs Little


Some high-flying Silicon Valley companies are famous for the perks they provide to their employees. One of those perks at the top of the list consists of free food and beverages.


Not only do many of those companies provide coffee, soft drinks and snacks, but quite a few r actually have full restaurants on site serving hot meals each day.


At one point about six years ago it was estimated to cost Google over $70 million a year to provide free meals to its employees.


Before you fall on the floor in a faint from hearing that number, keep in mind that no one is suggesting you go broke providing free food and drink. It is possible on a modest budget to get the positive impact that comes from providing a stocked break room.


We have a few suggestions for cost effective ways to stock your break room. But first, let’s take a look at why it makes business sense to provide beverages and snacks to employees.


Four Good Reasons to Offer A Well-Stocked Break Room


1. Employee Satisfaction


Small businesses like ours may not always be able to match salaries at some larger companies, but studies show that people work in small businesses in part because they like the atmosphere. Anything you can do to make the workday more pleasant, helps your business compete in the employment market, and retain loyal employees.


Remember to try to walk in your employee’s shoes. As a business owner you might prefer an upscale lunch out once a quarter or an offsite retreat, but employees may value the little niceties that make every day more enjoyable (such as free coffee or subsidized soft drinks).


2. Productivity


Snacks and beverages keep people at the office longer and minimize trips outside the office. People whose bellies are grumbling or who need a boost of caffeine won’t be running out to pick up coffee or snacks as often, if there are options right on site.


3. Health


By providing low-calorie and low-sugar snacks and drinks, you can give employees a healthy alternative to fast food and soft drinks. Nearby restaurants may be filled with fast food and high calorie choices. You can reaffirm your company’s commitment to staying healthy by the choice of snacks you provide, and potentially contribute to a healthier workforce.


4. Cost


Yes, it costs more to provide snacks and beverages in a break room than not to. But compared to the costs of other perks, such as tuition reimbursement plans or expensive holiday bashes, it may be less expensive and appreciated more. The break room may be available to more employees, too, as more can take advantage of it but may not necessarily be able to attend a holiday party or take advantage of some benefits. Also, snacks in the break room tend to have low overhead and fewer complexities in terms of administration, compared with some other benefits — mainly just stocking and cleaning.


And there are ways to save money.


Stocking the Break Room Inexpensively


Having a well-stocked break room doesn’t mean infinite choices or that everything needs to be free.


Limit the items you provide for free. You’re not Google, after all! Most companies look at providing coffee and tea service, a bottled water cooler, and perhaps some inexpensive snacks such as pretzels and fruit.


Provide vending machines for more choices. You can always subsidize the cost of items in a vending machine. For example, you pay half the cost of soft drinks and snacks, and employees pay the other half.


Make one day of the week or month special, where you bring in food. For instance, Fridays could be the day you bring in bagels and fruit salad for everyone. Or once a month bring in pizza or a sandwich tray for lunch. And don’t forget the healthy and low-cost alternatives on those days, such as veggies and yogurt dip.


Provide refrigerators and microwave ovens to encourage people to bring their own food. Just having a place to store and heat up the meal you bring to work with you, can be a positive thing.


Buy in bulk. And shop around. You can save a lot of money just through intelligent buying.


Finally, consider letting employees have a say in the choices. You may be surprised what they opt for if you indicate what the monthly budget is. You might even consider taking a company vote giving choices for break room items. Just giving a choice may build positive sentiment in its own right, because you are empowering employees by letting them decide.


Break Room Photo via Shutterstock


The post The Employee Benefit That Costs Little But Delivers Big appeared first on Small Business Trends.







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The Employee Benefit That Costs Little But Delivers Big

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Employee Benefit That Costs Little


Some high-flying Silicon Valley companies are famous for the perks they provide to their employees. One of those perks at the top of the list consists of free food and beverages.


Not only do many of those companies provide coffee, soft drinks and snacks, but quite a few r actually have full restaurants on site serving hot meals each day.


At one point about six years ago it was estimated to cost Google over $70 million a year to provide free meals to its employees.


Before you fall on the floor in a faint from hearing that number, keep in mind that no one is suggesting you go broke providing free food and drink. It is possible on a modest budget to get the positive impact that comes from providing a stocked break room.


We have a few suggestions for cost effective ways to stock your break room. But first, let’s take a look at why it makes business sense to provide beverages and snacks to employees.


Four Good Reasons to Offer A Well-Stocked Break Room


1. Employee Satisfaction


Small businesses like ours may not always be able to match salaries at some larger companies, but studies show that people work in small businesses in part because they like the atmosphere. Anything you can do to make the workday more pleasant, helps your business compete in the employment market, and retain loyal employees.


Remember to try to walk in your employee’s shoes. As a business owner you might prefer an upscale lunch out once a quarter or an offsite retreat, but employees may value the little niceties that make every day more enjoyable (such as free coffee or subsidized soft drinks).


2. Productivity


Snacks and beverages keep people at the office longer and minimize trips outside the office. People whose bellies are grumbling or who need a boost of caffeine won’t be running out to pick up coffee or snacks as often, if there are options right on site.


3. Health


By providing low-calorie and low-sugar snacks and drinks, you can give employees a healthy alternative to fast food and soft drinks. Nearby restaurants may be filled with fast food and high calorie choices. You can reaffirm your company’s commitment to staying healthy by the choice of snacks you provide, and potentially contribute to a healthier workforce.


4. Cost


Yes, it costs more to provide snacks and beverages in a break room than not to. But compared to the costs of other perks, such as tuition reimbursement plans or expensive holiday bashes, it may be less expensive and appreciated more. The break room may be available to more employees, too, as more can take advantage of it but may not necessarily be able to attend a holiday party or take advantage of some benefits. Also, snacks in the break room tend to have low overhead and fewer complexities in terms of administration, compared with some other benefits — mainly just stocking and cleaning.


And there are ways to save money.


Stocking the Break Room Inexpensively


Having a well-stocked break room doesn’t mean infinite choices or that everything needs to be free.


Limit the items you provide for free. You’re not Google, after all! Most companies look at providing coffee and tea service, a bottled water cooler, and perhaps some inexpensive snacks such as pretzels and fruit.


Provide vending machines for more choices. You can always subsidize the cost of items in a vending machine. For example, you pay half the cost of soft drinks and snacks, and employees pay the other half.


Make one day of the week or month special, where you bring in food. For instance, Fridays could be the day you bring in bagels and fruit salad for everyone. Or once a month bring in pizza or a sandwich tray for lunch. And don’t forget the healthy and low-cost alternatives on those days, such as veggies and yogurt dip.


Provide refrigerators and microwave ovens to encourage people to bring their own food. Just having a place to store and heat up the meal you bring to work with you, can be a positive thing.


Buy in bulk. And shop around. You can save a lot of money just through intelligent buying.


Finally, consider letting employees have a say in the choices. You may be surprised what they opt for if you indicate what the monthly budget is. You might even consider taking a company vote giving choices for break room items. Just giving a choice may build positive sentiment in its own right, because you are empowering employees by letting them decide.


Break Room Photo via Shutterstock


The post The Employee Benefit That Costs Little But Delivers Big appeared first on Small Business Trends.







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eBay to Spin Off PayPal

Facebook Is Just an ‘Ad Platform,’ Says CEO of Ad-Free Social Network ‘Ello’

Dan Kedmey

Ello, an ad-free, invitation-only social network, has been dubbed the “anti-Facebook” after its August launch, but even that characterization might be giving Facebook too much credit, according to Ello’s feisty CEO.


“We don’t consider Facebook to be a competitor,” said Paul Budnitz in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. “We consider them to be an advertising platform more than a social network.”


That was just the opening shot in a wide ranging interview in which Budnitz opened fire on Facebook’s design, content and ad-based business model. Budnitz says that Ello can turn a profit by selling add-on features directly to a few users.


He claims to have tapped into a wellspring of discontent with Facebook, signing up users at a rate of 50,000 an hour after Ello suddenly skyrocketed in popularity last week. That’s just a drop in bucket compared with Facebook’s 1.3 billion users, but Ello’s CEO insists that he only wants the users who share his team’s vision of what a social network should and should not be. The site requires users to agree to a manifesto that states, “You are not a product.” Those who select “disagree” are redirected to Facebook’s website.


[Bloomberg Businessweek ]






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Spotify streaming music service launches in Canada

Headphones

Online streaming music service Spotify is now available in Canada, five years after the Swedish company announced plans to expand.






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Microsoft Windows unveiling expected today

Microsoft Windows

Microsoft is expected to give an early look at 'what's next for Windows' during an event in San Francisco today.






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