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Propel Your Ideas Forward: How to Build Strong and Effective Teams
By Elizabeth (Lizzy) Brahin Have you thought about entrepreneurship? Well, one of the most important steps to building a company is constructing the right team. In fact, according to a study by CBInsights analyzing the top reasons for startup failure, nearly 23% of failures were attributed to not having the right team (CBInsights 2019). So the question is, how do we solve this issue? First, ensure you have a clear mission and purpose. What problem are you solving? Are there existing solutions? Does your company offer benefits that are greater than what currently exists? How will you empower your team? Setting out a clear goal from the start is crucial to having a successful company, one where there is a common purpose that everyone is working towards. Take it from Forbes 30 Under 30 Recipient and Founder of Eden Health, Matt McCambridge. “Hiring excellent people is super important to culture, which supports the organization by sharing problems effectively.” How do you do this? You must find people whose values align with you and those you trust. It is critical to ensuring the success of a company. While team members must be reliable and deliver high-quality products, they also need to be upfront about issues that may arise. Efficiency in the long-term requires a dedicated team, actively working to improve themselves while also preventing and addressing any problems before they spiral into larger troubles. Secondly, founding members must have a passion for the mission. While the founder is driven by their idea, employees may have other extrinsic motivations such as financially supporting themselves and their families. Building strong company culture is crucial to strengthening an employee’s intrinsic motivation to succeed and move the team forward. After considering the personality traits you are looking for, you also have to determine what your team will look like. This means diversity, or more specifically what the Harvard Business Review tags “two-dimensional diversity,” through the expression of both inherent and acquired diversity in the team: diverse identities, backgrounds, experiences, and more. In fact, “companies with ‘two-dimensional’ diversity are 45% more likely to report that they had captured a larger portion of the market and 70% more likely to have entered into a new market in the past year” (Harvard Business Review 2013). One often overlooked measure of diversity is in regards to age. When thinking of a startup, one tends to think of the Silicon Valley college dropout. But Marge Johnsson, a serial entrepreneur and Founder and Executive Director of the Entrepreneurship Education Institute, says that “multigenerational power and success propel teams forward.” Back to the same idea of two-dimensional diversity, teams with people from different age groups offer decades of industry and life experience, in addition to the intersectional diversity of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and more. You want your idea to reach as many people as possible, and diversity ensures that is attainable. So now that you’ve had a glimpse into how to form a strong team, what are your next steps? How will you take action and start changing the world one idea at a time?
Light At The End of The Tunnel: Young Restaurant Workers and COVID
by Ben Crotty Young restaurant (under age 25) employees are in crisis as restaurants have closed across the country. However, there is a positive future ahead. According to Pew Research, food services employees pre-pandemic only made an average of $394 per week which is $581 less than the overall average weekly income across all industries. In other words, food industry workers were already proportionally negatively affected pre-pandemic compared to other industries. Additionally, nearly half of all young workers are employed in the service industry and since the pandemic, there has been a 17% decrease in restaurant jobs totaling over 79,000 restaurant jobs lost in Illinois alone (Chicago Tribune, 2020). Thus young restaurant employees are even more affected by the pandemic compared to other age demographics and other industries. Since many families rely on income from younger workers whose income is already comparatively low, the impacts of their loss of employment could be devastating. Across Chicago and the nation, many restaurants were forced to close their doors for good, but many more have been able to reopen in some capacity. Reclaimed, a Chicago-based restaurant, was able to rehire their entire staff by May and began to hire additional staff by pivoting its business model. They created a new menu and expanded carryout. Craig Bell, the restaurant's owner stated, “We look to the individual who’s going to benefit our business in the best way possible...someone with experience but also attitude.” Many restaurants adopt a similar philosophy. A high school employee at another restaurant, Omar Chavez, states, “I get the same benefits as my older coworkers and my company is doing all they can.” Young restaurant employees should know that despite what statistics show, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The majority of restaurants have hired back their staff in full and many are hiring additional staff. While additional lockdowns cast uncertainty on the future of the industry, it’s clear that restaurants have learned valuable lessons from the past lockdowns and will continue to adapt to meet the needs of both their customers and employees.
Benefits of Increasing African-American Enrollment in Business Programs
by Blake Berry The wealth gap between white and Black Americans has remained unchanged since the 1950s. Black people make approximately $0.50 for every $1.00 a white person makes ( Don Beyer, 2020). This disparity is due to many factors, the majority of which are a result of the systematic oppression in our society. Is education a way to start to begin closing this gap? The answer is yes. Increased enrollment and access to business-related degrees can be particularly impactful. African Americans account for only 7% of finance and marketing majors and are overpopulated in the lowest-paying degrees such as human services, psychology, and social work. Finance and marketing careers earn some of the highest average salaries, approximately $64,000 as opposed to psychology and social work degrees that have an average salary of $42,000 (Georgetown, 2016). In addition to higher salaries, Marcus Carvey the Associate Professor of Economics at UIC highlights some of the other benefits of pursuing a business degree.“these fields typically feature curricula that foster the development of a broad set of skills including critical thinking, writing, modeling, and statistical analysis that are in high demand in the labor market today.” Access to these business programs has always been a barrier for low-income African Americans. Thankfully, resources such as scholarships and mentorship programs are available to get students on track for a career. Rashid Carter, Professor of Economics and Business at Harold Washington College, shares ways students can learn about programs, “students should visit college websites, attend open houses and networking events, as well as speak with Black business school graduates, about their options.” One resource he shares, The Michigan Black Business Student Association works towards increasing minority enrollment at both the BBA and MBA levels. Having a business degree today is more useful than ever. Due to the recent spark in social justice awareness, many companies are looking to diversify their staff. Even as a high schooler it’s a good idea to start thinking about if you want a business career. Don’t be discouraged, there are hundreds of resources available to help you get there.
The Future of Digital Marketing: 3D printing
by Fathima Shaikh When thinking about digital marketing, your mind most likely drifts over to social media. However, 3D printing is becoming increasingly important in digital marketing campaigns. Using 3D printing for promotional marketing gives businesses a cost-effective method of advertising and increases engagement. 3D printing is inexpensive and expected to cause the next "industrial revolution" according to Aric Rindfleish, Jones Professor of Marketing. Rindfleish says that "3D printers... allows for products to be easily created and accessed by anyone with digital tools." Firms are taking advantage of the simplicity and low cost of 3-D printers by creating marketing models for the consumer to get a feel on how the real product would be. Along with being cost-effective, their visual marketing campaigns are boosted as well. 3D printing will be the future of promotional marketing as it allows for people to make and engage with prototypes of the object before they buy it. Big brands such as Coca Cola, Volkswagen, and Uniqlo have used 3D printing marketing campaigns, allowing consumers to interact with cheap promotional products. Promotional Products says that 85% of consumers do business with the advertiser after receiving a promotional product. With 3D printing marketing campaigns, customizability is becoming more of an option. According to Sodexo, 61% of people like having the option of customizability. Because firms are creating engaging marketing content with the utilization of 3D printers, they are in turn increasing interest in their product. 3D printing allows for firms to show the consumer what the product would look like, allows for them to engage, and allows for them to have more of a say in how that product would cater to their needs. Ava McDonald, founder of ZFluence stresses the importance of the improvement of digital marketing; "as a business owner, it's important to keep on top of these things to make sure your business never loses its competitive edge!"
How will Automation Affect the US Job Industry?
by Umair Ahmed Will automation destroy more jobs in comparison to the number of jobs it creates or will automation help create more US jobs in comparison to the number of US jobs it destroys? While this is a complex issue, evidence suggests that automation will eradicate a great percentage of low skill US jobs while also creating a greater percentage of higher - skilled US jobs. Many studies have projected that automation will wipe away a significant portion of US jobs. For instance, a 2013 forecast conducted by the University of Oxford found that "... about 47 percent of total US employment is at risk" of being automated away by 2030. Muzzamil, an uber driver, expressed concern when asked about automation. “ As the breadwinner of my household, I am concerned about automation. As an Uber driver, I am afraid that self-driving cars will wipe out the rideshare industry and I’m not sure how I would put food on the table for my family if other jobs such as cashiers become automated.” While studies project that automation will wipe away a significant portion of US jobs, these studies also project that there will be a great number of higher - skill jobs created. In a recent forecast published in October 2020 by the World Economic Forum, “...the organization said that the rise of machines and automation would eliminate a huge 85 million jobs by 2025. But at the same time, the WEF expects 97 million new jobs to be created, meaning an overall addition of 12 million jobs.”. Additionally, The World Economic Forum reported that automation will wipe out low skill jobs such as cashiers, payroll clerks, and factory workers while creating more high skill jobs such as data analysts, machine learning specialists and process automation specialists. Similarly, Mike Wychoki, Chairman & CEO of EagleRail Container Logistics, has a positive view on automation. “ I think it is a 70/30 benefit. I think there is some downside to automation but I also think there is way more upside.” While we can’t be 100% sure about how automation will affect the job industry, one thing is for certain. Earning a college degree reduces the chances of your job being automated away. “More than half of jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree are at risk of automation…”
Saving Success with Behavioral Economics
by London Gibson-Purcell Saving can be a hassle. There are temptations that exist in all parts of life. According to CPS student, Laylen Bates, “I spend most of my money on food and clothes, saving has always been difficult for me.” Being open to saving is the best way to start. One method of saving is through behavioral economics, which explores the psychological and social effects of the decisions people make. According to The Atlantic, “.. behavioral economists have a concept called the “pain of paying.” The phrase refers to the psychological discomfort experienced when parting with one’s money…” (Joe Pinsker, 2018). You may like that new purchase but your bank account surely won’t. Exploiting the pain of paying can help you save. According to Harvard Business Review, “...the majority of consumers with access to their financial information on mobile phones check their balances before making large purchases. Of those who check, 50% decide not to buy an item because of the feedback” (Shlomo Benartzi, 2017). Using a mobile banking app allows the pain of paying for something to be more apparent. Another strategy is through incentivizing the financial decisions you make. When you go a certain amount of time without spending money on items you don’t need, reward yourself with a gift. When you are close to going through with an impulsive buy, stop yourself and write down all the other things you could buy with the money. You are considering the opportunity costs of all the decisions you make. In the end, you will create a system where you are saving money and still splurging on the things you really want. Behavioral economist, Jason Reed at the University of Notre Dame says that specifically for teens, “you should try to follow the common 50/15/5 rule. That means you should aim to have no more than 50% of your take-home pay dedicated to essential expenses. You should save 15% of your pre-tax earnings in a retirement account, and also save 5% in a short-term savings account.” Physically removing money from your access will be favorable. Starting now to implement these strategies into your life could prove to be very beneficial. You have to overcome those temptations!
by Raina Koshal In 2004, when scientists Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov put a piece of scotch tape on graphite, little did they know that the layer of carbon atoms they received would spark a scientific revolution and global race to discover and implement the properties of “the wonder material,” graphene.
Only six years after the discovery, the two scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. Naturally, the question arises- what property of this two-dimensional lattice structure of carbon atoms makes it that extraordinary? The answer is not one, but numerous properties that possess the potential to revolutionize every industry. Graphene is extraordinarily thin, strong, stretchable, and hard. Furthermore, it is environmentally friendly and adequately available. Such uniqueness comes with demand- according to the global market report, Graphene’s market size was “estimated at USD 78.7 million in 2019 and is expected to expand at a CAGR of 38.7% from 2020 to 2027”.
So what’s holding industries back from the globalization and mass manufacturing of graphene? Firstly, there is still space for improvement in creating economically feasible production methods. The Executive director of The Graphene Council, Terrance Barkan, has a different perspective, stating that graphene’s true potential lies in combining small amounts with other materials to enhance their properties- small amounts lead to inexpensive production. Nonetheless, economic feasibility with companies’ unfamiliarity with the product, are big factors. Additionally, US-based companies are less able to implement the material as they receive less support from the government, making them behind the UK and China in graphene advances.
It is also important to recognize there are many big-name companies already testing graphene for their products: Samsung has racked up over 400 patents with mentions of graphene and IBM launched a five-year, three billion dollar initiative working toward using graphene as a silicon replacement. The industry is progressing quickly. In an interview with Dr. Cerne, a professor at The University of Buffalo, he recalls a flake of graphene, twenty microns in size, cost “hundreds and hundreds of dollars” ten years ago and now he can get the “same sheet of graphene for a hundred bucks”.
Commercial Banking During the Pandemic
by Saransh Gupta Commercial banks are financial institutions that manage personal and business accounts. They make loans to people and small businesses and offer checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit. These differ from investment banks, which manage securities and help manage mergers and acquisitions for larger businesses. Commercial banks hold a significant amount of worldwide wealth. For example, Chase Bank and Bank of America are both large commercial banking divisions of global banks, and have more than $2 trillion in assets each. Commercial banking has changed greatly during the pandemic, and there are several ways that the industry is changing. The banking industry is greatly changing the way they interact with customers as they move to an increasingly digital system of money management. Banks are using digital solutions to solve paper money transactions, especially because of the WHO’s recommendation to use contactless payment. According to VP Avinash Prasad, “[banks] are using text message links for clients to fill out forms, upload documents, and sign through eSignature.” Many banks have begun to change the way they invest their money and their customer base. Banks are becoming more careful as they weigh their revenue vs earnings, analyze the creditworthiness of their customers, and set aside a greater amount of reserves. According to business teacher Mrs. Uhl-Alba, many banks aren’t well-diversified, “especially regarding loan and business portfolios, [which] they are working quickly to change due to the unknown length of the pandemic and the effects that it has had on the economy.” Commercial banks continue working to create a stable way to borrow during uncertain times.
The Rising Prices of Pharmaceuticals: Diabetes
by Karis Kelly Within the past 10 years, drug costs have risen dramatically. A combination of Big Pharma, insurance deductibles rising, and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) have been a catalyst for the rising pharmaceutical costs. According to Consumer Reports, diabetes medication Lantus has increased its price by 24% over six years. In 2014, this life-saving medication cost $408 a month. Whereas in 2019, Lantus cost $504 a month. The rising prices of diabetes medications have hurt families across the US. Dr. Kathy Starr, a pediatrician with a diabetic son, discussed “...it [insulin] has cost a co-pay of $30-50/month… [insurance] would not approve of more insulins so we had to pay over $300 for a small vial...his insulin pump and a continuous glucose meter. This can add up to $3000-4000/year, but it is so vital”. Proper medications and equipment for those with diabetes are vital for survival. Without treatments, a myriad of complications can occur such as heart disease, stroke, and more. Rising prices of diabetes medications can affect anyone, but especially seniors. According to the American Diabetes Association, 26.8% of diabetes cases are in adults 65+ in the U.S. Dr. Urvashi Thakkar, a pharmacist, discussed that many seniors have fixed incomes, which makes it hard for many to afford the expenses. Sometimes it is the choice between a needed medication and rent or food. Most will choose food or rent over their medications. This creates a tremendous problem. With rising pharmaceutical prices across the board, more and more families and individuals are struggling to keep up. The main concern of rising prices can affect anyone, but those with fixed incomes are especially affected. Some suggest that big pharma should work with PBMs to help lower the prices. Overall, diabetes medication prices are rising and are affecting more and more people every day.
Stock Investment Strategies Amidst a Pandemic
by Oscar Boccelli COVID-19 has put the world on lockdown, creating confusion everywhere. With the markets being so volatile, it has left investors perplexed as to the best course of action when garnering their biggest return per unit of risk. It is apparent that the two best strategies are not waiting around, and diversifying your portfolio of stocks. In an ever-changing market, it is very tempting to simply stay away from the unknown; however, nothing new comes from being stagnant. As quoted by David Rae from Marketplace, “Investors bold enough to invest in stocks during the dark days of the Great Depression would have seen their stakes grow tenfold by 1957.” By choosing not to engage with the stock market you endure a large opportunity cost, as you forgo all the benefits you would have reaped by having taken part in the first place. This ideology is further exemplified by Rae who states “if we were to go back to 1930, and an investor missed the S&P 500’s ten best days in each decade, total returns would be just 91%, significantly below the 14,962% returns for investors who held steady through the downturns” (Rae 2020). Though it is essential to engage with the market, one should diversify stock holdings to avoid risk. Jordan Farris, the Head of ETF Product Development at Nuveen states that “buying stocks across multiple sectors spreads the risk over many different positions, which allows a portfolio to do better over time. When one doesn’t put all their eggs in one basket, a portfolio doesn’t swing to the behavior of a sector completely.” Kelsey Renfro, Senior Strategic Product Manager at Northern Trust Asset Management agrees to “diversify on a security level, but to consider what stocks and sectors you’re investing in, and not to concentrate in an area that gives low returns.” Additionally, you can diversify by utilizing mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and indices, as they all provide diversification benefits and remove company-specific risk. When all is said and done, you should go engage with the market, while also creating a strategically managed, diverse portfolio.
Debt and Spending: Economic Concerns that COVID-19 Has Exasperated
by Sujan Garapati While COVID-19 has affected every aspect of our lives, a key source of the pandemic’s torment is demonstrated in the economy where unemployment has soared. To offer a sense of stability, the government continues to inject money in an unprecedented manner. However, with these short-term solutions come long-term problems. The pandemic has not only created economic issues of increased government spending but exposed existing ones such as a ballooning national debt that younger generations will be forced to deal with. An increasing national debt presents the danger of a collapsing economy. A common way to measure the national debt is to look at it as a percentage of our GDP. Through this lens, the national debt has grown at a worrisome rate. In 1990, it was 54% of our GDP; in 2010, it was 91.2%; in 2019, it was 106.9%; in 2020, this number could rise to 150% as a result of heightened spending. Although this issue is not an immediate one as low-interest rates allow for debt servicing to be completed at a low cost, “when a nation has high debt and its interest rate is high, there will be an issue,” says Tim Kendrick, a Latin School of Chicago Economics teacher. In addition to a ballooning debt, increased government spending will present economic growth issues in the future. Current expansionary policy is displayed through a recent Congressional Budget Office report that projects if current policies remain, federal spending will grow from an average of 21.3% of GDP from 2010-2019 to an average of 29.3% from 2041-2050. Tom Mazza, a Principal Investor at Metolius Capital, explains a danger of increased spending: “In terms of long-term impact, we certainly have moved forward a lot of the increase in GDP that would have happened in x years from now. So it is a good thing for people now, not so good in the future as growth will slow.” An increasing national debt and government spending policies present a danger to future generations—one that we must be aware of.
by Mia Booth In the spring of 2020, Black Lives Matter, a movement that was gaining momentum, was a trending topic. After seeing the importance of this movement in many communities, businesses became actively involved in displaying their support of the movement." The vast majority of consumers — over 72 percent — have reported that they will actively seek a brand that aligns with their values if price and quality are equal," writes Real Leaders. Prior to spring 2020, some businesses, for example, Nike, played a role in showing their respect and support of #BlackLivesMatter. Nike has a well-known reputation for creating advertisements that not only sell their brand but have a larger message. The advertisements are impactful, but are their intentions genuine? Are Nike and other companies showing authentic support or trying to gain profit by using a movement as a strategy? William Roper states, "41 percent of respondents said they felt it was either somewhat or very important for U.S. companies to make public statements on political or social issues” (Roper 2020). If companies fail to address political movements that are important to their customers, they are bound to lose customers and be subject to backlash. Hence, it became popular amongst companies to display their support to movements. Local businesses located right in the heart of Chicago are quite public with their support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Businesses such as Kilwin’s, UPS store, Starbucks, Ain’t She Sweet, and more. After interviewing a local activist and entrepreneur, David Mabry, I was able to gain a better understanding of why it can be challenging to support a movement via a business. “Transparency is important in order to know what the core ethics or the business/organization are,” David states. “It is also important to remind yourself that not everyone has the same relationship with activist movements in the way that you do...” It can be easy to appear as a performative activist when your form of activism or support does not share commonalities with the normal traditions of activists. Showing genuine support in the professional world can be challenging but it takes time. It may be easier as a smaller company/business to show your support and be a part of the activism because you are starting small.