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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Kathy Mangold: Universal greeting prompts a new way ... just watch this schoolkid

By Kathy Mangold
Those who work within organizations, institutions and schools have been really interested in the concept of a universal greeting.

Designed to set the stage for a positive outcome, this is a modifiable script that can be used for your initial contact with someone.

When one of our consultants, Vanessa Holmes, learned this greeting, she immediately taught it to her daughter, Hannah. In this video, Hannah shows how even a young person can use this when approaching someone new.

It is as follows:

1. Greeting
2. Introduction
3. Explain your reason for the contact
4. Ask a relevant question

Now, you have enough information to decide upon the appropriate course of action.

While it sounds simple, it can open up a whole new frame of reference -- especially if you're in the business of telling others what to do:

"I have started working on my universal greeting with all of our new patients in the office," says Emily Meyer, a nurse from Milwaukee, Wis. "And, I am so accustomed to 'doing my own thing' for many years and I actually have to think of how to properly greet someone.

"I have always introduced myself and asked patients why they are being seen but I am so used to just telling them to do something rather than asking them. I always keep my professionalism when telling someone but it's interesting to have to think about changing my habits."

Think about your approach to others -- can you break your habits and use this framework to try something new?

-- Mangold is an award-winning newspaper reporter, magazine editor and freelance writer with degrees in journalism and German from Marquette University. She is a manager at the Vistelar Group, a speaking and training organization focused on the fundamentals of human interaction and their real-world application. Read her full bio.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Tom Still: Latest cyber-attack report underscores size of the threat - and need for defense

By Tom Still
In the bad old days of the Cold War, people worried about missile silos in the Soviet Union.

In the emerging world of cyber-warfare, the most pervasive threats may come from nests of sophisticated computer hackers in Shanghai, Tehran or Pyongyang.

The Feb. 18 release of a private report that tracked 141 corporate data thefts to China, perhaps even to units of the People’s Liberation Army itself, has heightened government and private concerns about cyber-attacks. Increasingly at risk are some of America’s lifelines – including its energy pipelines, its water supply, its health-care networks and its financial institutions.

Hackers have hit thousands of U.S. companies in the last few years, including Twitter, Facebook, Coca-Cola and Apple, but few publicly admit it for fear of looking weak to competitors, customers and shareholders.  Stolen data may include proprietary processes, blueprints, contact lists and, in the case of government data, national security information.

During his State of the Union address, President Obama noted the growing threat of cyber-attacks, saying “we cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy.”

Obama also signed an executive order in February encouraging information sharing about online threats between the government and private companies.

Strategies for guarding against cyber threats will be explored Feb. 26 during a Wisconsin Innovation Network luncheon meeting in Madison, where two experts on the front lines of defense will discuss how state expertise is being tapped.

Miron Livny, director of core computational technology at the Morgridge Institute for Research on the UW-Madison campus, will be joined by Josh Bressers, the founder and head of the Red Hat Product Security team, for a discussion about emerging threats and solutions.

Known for his work on the HTCondor system, Livny is part of a UW-Madison, Indiana University and University of Illinois team that won a $23.6 million cybersecurity grant from the Department of Homeland Security. They are developing a “Software Assurance Marketplace” to work closely with developers of software analysis technologies and “open-source” programmers to advance security of software.

Open-source software is computer software developed by multiple programmers in collaborative environments. It is designed to be widely available, but highly adaptable.

With offices in Wisconsin, Red Hat is responsible for working with product groups to incorporate software assurance practices into their development. Bressers was previously a senior software engineer in the Red Hat Security Response Team and has more than 10 years of experience working on security issues with the open source community.

Other private, non-profit groups such as the Milwaukee Institute and Wisconsin Security Research Consortium are also examining cyber threats and establishing research avenues.

The importance of cybersecurity to businesses of all sizes is hard to overestimate. Whether the hackers are a clever kid around the corner or highly organized efforts such as those based in China, the end result is the same: Hackers act as vampires, sucking away at the life’s blood of American innovation and security.

How the nation comes to grips with cybersecurity is something of a mid-life crisis. The Internet is the defining technology of our era, but it’s nearly 40 years old and getting a bit long of tooth, especially when it comes to protecting digital data.

“The major glaring weakness (of the Internet) is the lack of security, because the protocols and the technology were not designed to support security,” warned Wisconsin computer science pioneer Larry Landweber, a member of the Internet Society’s Hall of Fame.

Wisconsin is a state with large health-care and financial service sectors, both of which come with growing cybersecurity needs. It’s also a state with the kind of academic and private resources that can help build a 21st century line of defense.

  -- Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

J.B. Van Hollen: Tackling white collar crime

By J.B. Van Hollen
White collar crime includes many species of fraud and dishonest conduct such as mortgage and bank fraud, embezzlement, identity theft, securities fraud, elder financial abuse, credit card fraud, and various Internet schemes, just to name a few. Although white collar crimes are termed "non-violent," the effects can be devastating. They can destroy victims' homes, jobs, life savings, and credit. They can even destroy entire businesses, charities or other organizations, and can usurp public funds that could have benefited those in need.

For example, my office is currently prosecuting a former title agent in Wausau for running an alleged scam in which the agent pocketed homeowners' money that was supposed to pay off their home loans when they were refinancing their mortgages. As a result, the homeowners, unbeknownst to them, became obligated to pay two mortgage loans. The total loss was alleged to be approximately one million dollars, and one homeowner ended up in foreclosure for non-payment of the first loan.

Unfortunately, people in economic distress are vulnerable to predatory criminals. Now more than ever, due to the recent mortgage and foreclosure crisis, homeowners are falling victim to these schemes. Wisconsin, like the rest of the country, has experienced a sharp spike in foreclosures. When foreclosure leads to a decrease in property values, or in some cases blighted neighborhoods due to abandoned properties, the entire community and state suffer.

Criminals are taking advantage of this crisis, and we have seen an increase in fraudulent schemes that falsely promise help in modifying loan terms so that a homeowner can avoid foreclosure. In a current case my office is investigating, a Wisconsin couple paid thousands of dollars to a fraudulent out-of-state business, thinking the money was going to the bank to help pay down their home loan. Now the homeowners are even further behind on their mortgage payments and at dire risk of foreclosure.

Unfortunately, white collar crimes can be difficult to investigate and prosecute. The crimes may be concealed in complex financial transactions and records, or may involve perpetrators from other states or even other countries. Cases can be time-consuming and resource-intensive to prosecute.

To enhance the ability of the Wisconsin law enforcement community to respond vigorously to white collar crime, my office is conducting a White Collar Crimes Investigation School in early March. The purpose of the training is to train investigators and prosecutors from around the state to handle specific forms of white collar crime, from mortgage fraud to Internet-based crime to elder financial abuse. Staff from our Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), joined by local and federal investigators and prosecutors, will conduct the training. Funding for the training is being provided through Wisconsin's share of the national mortgage foreclosure settlement.

As attorney general, I place a high priority on vigorously enforcing our laws and bringing white collar criminals to justice. The Department of Justice will continue its commitment to working with local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to maximize their ability to aggressively respond to white collar crime in their Wisconsin communities.

-- Van Hollen, a Republican, is Wisconsin's attorney general.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Tom Still: Investment capital is critical part of job creation equation in Wisconsin

By Tom Still
With Gov. Scott Walker poised to outline his state budget proposal for the two years beginning July 1, some components of his economic development strategy are already known.

* He's willing to invest in workforce development, which is crucial in a state that will be hit by a wave of Baby Boomer retirements.

* He supports a phased individual income tax cut.

* He's found a few things to like about the University of Wisconsin System's approach to job creation.

* He wants to invest more in the state's transportation networks, which is vital to moving goods and services.

* He understands that young companies – five years old or younger – are easily the biggest drivers of job creation, and has released a few modest ideas that will help.

One proposal that would go a long ways toward rounding out the budget strategy is a state-leveraged investment capital fund. If Walker adds this idea to the list to be announced Wednesday, it would attract private dollars to Wisconsin while helping to jumpstart a whole generation of emerging companies.

The proposal under consideration calls for creation of a "fund of funds" that would include the state as an investor, with private funds matching state dollars on a 2-to-1 basis. The investment would be spread over multiple years, be tightly managed by seasoned fund managers, and help position Wisconsin to better compete for its logical share of the national venture capital industry.

It's not a grant program or a loans-of-last-resort to struggling companies, but a plan to invest wisely in some of Wisconsin's most promising young companies – especially those that stand to grow the fastest, create jobs and pay back on that investment.

Wisconsin is ripe for such an approach. Consider these figures: The state has 1.84 percent of the nation's population, but 2.11 percent of its annual patent production and 2.15 percent of its academic research and development spending. In other words, Wisconsin over-performs when it comes to producing intellectual property needed in the modern "knowledge economy."

While the state's angel investors have invested in a growing number of companies, the hand-off to venture capital firms hasn't gone as well.

In 2012, a total of $95.2 million was invested in Wisconsin venture capital deals, or a little better than three-tenths of 1 percent of the national investment total of more than $26.5 billion. The amount under management in Wisconsin is even smaller – one one-tenth of 1 percent. That's a fraction of the state's investment potential, given the ideas and talent available.

Is the gap because coastal investors have trouble finding Wisconsin on a map? In part, that's true. But mostly it's because the state has failed to work at attracting dollars from beyond its borders, something other Midwestern states such as Minnesota, Michigan and Indiana do well.

The angel and venture capital industry in the United States is north of $50 billion per year in total investments. Wisconsin has what it takes to compete for its fair share of that industry – if it makes the right moves. That means competing with at least 30 other states that are vying for the attention of investors, who in turn help create companies and jobs.

According to IHS Global Insight, venture-backed companies in the United States account for 11 percent of all private sector jobs – even though the asset class represents about 1 percent of investments. Smart economic development policy is a legitimate role of state government.

That's why the competition isn't standing still. Wisconsin put itself on the national map in 2004 with the creation of investor tax credits, which quickly contributed to an explosion in angel capital deals. In 2010 and 2011 alone, according to the Wisconsin Growth Capital Coalition, companies backed by those tax credits created more than 1,500 direct and indirect jobs.

Other states are catching up, however, and Wisconsin should build on that momentum while it can. If Wisconsin passes an early stage capital plan, the word would spread like wildfire in the nation's entrepreneurial and investor communities.

A well-balanced approach to economic growth in Wisconsin should include an investment capital plan that builds on existing assets, boosts the most vibrant companies and creates jobs that will attract and retain its best and brightest young people. In the state's economic development portfolio, it deserves a prominent spot.

-- Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Julie Lassa: Bills will help Wisconsin get in on manufacturing boom

By Julie Lassa
Nationwide, manufacturing expansion continues to lead the recovery of the U.S. economy. After slowing somewhat in the second half of 2012, manufacturing came back strong in December, posting its biggest gains since April, according to the Institute for Supply Management index of national factory activity. Both its new factory orders index and its manufacturing employment gauge showed big increases at the end of the year.

With its robust and diverse manufacturing base, Wisconsin should be well poised to take advantage of the uptrend in manufacturing. Yet our state continues to lag behind the region and the nation in new job growth. Clearly, Wisconsin needs to be more proactive to compete for jobs in the expanding manufacturing sector.

To address this need, Rep. Andy Jorgensen (D-Fort Atkinson) and I have introduced two bills that together are known as Marketing Manufacturers and Keeping Employees (MMAKE). Both address a key element of growing Wisconsin's manufacturing base – strengthening the supply chains of major manufacturers to increase orders for Wisconsin companies.

You've probably heard about the "multiplier effect" – job creation in one sector of the economy promotes job growth elsewhere as well. In manufacturing, a big part of the multiplier effect works through supply chains, the smaller manufacturers that produce parts and assemblies that go into finished products. Big manufacturers like their supply chains close at hand to reduce shipping costs and delivery times. These smaller manufacturers are important to our economy because they are the kind of small companies that create most new jobs. Acquiring a large new customer can allow a company like this to double its workforce quickly. One way that we can promote job growth is to help build awareness and relationships between these small manufacturers and the big companies whose needs they can serve.

The first part of MMAKE would create a series of regional trade and marketing forums specifically for the purpose of developing business relationships between major manufacturers and Wisconsin-based suppliers, many of which cannot currently afford staff to promote their products on a national or global level. By helping to connect and foster relationships between major manufacturers and Wisconsin suppliers, we can make it easier for companies to expand their supply chain relationships and create good-paying jobs here at home.

The second MMAKE bill creates and funds a five-year marketing plan to boost business for small to mid-sized manufacturers and to help Wisconsin's large manufacturers establish mutually-beneficial supply chains within the state. Unlike traditional business development marketing, this program will focus specifically on the development of supplier relationships, taking a very targeted approach that focuses on the customer's motivation to enhance their bottom line on their existing products.

These MMAKE bills are an example of ways state government can work to promote the growth of home-grown companies to create good paying jobs that stay in Wisconsin. Because manufacturing growth is a leading trend in the national economic recovery, it makes sense to strengthen this sector in which Wisconsin has so often been a national leader. I hope these proposals will receive strong bipartisan support in the legislature.

-- Lassa, D-Stevens Point, represents Wisconsin's 24th Senate District.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Tom Still: After 40 years, Waisman Center still at forefront of research on the brain

By Tom Still
The telegram from President John F. Kennedy to University of Wisconsin President Fred Harrington was both eerie and visionary. Eerie because it was delivered Nov. 20, 1963 – just two days before Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas – and visionary because it seemed to anticipate the challenges confronting science in its quest to explore the human brain.

“My special good wishes go to Dr. (Harry) Waisman on the culmination of his dream and to the many young people who, through his efforts and that of the University of Wisconsin, will now be able to enter and soon conquer the vast field of mental retardation and its attendant problems,” Kennedy wrote.

The telegram was sent to mark the opening of the Joseph P. Kennedy Medical Laboratories at the UW Medical School, a precursor to what became the Waisman Center 10 years later.

Because the field of developmental disabilities is so “vast,” as the president noted a half-century ago, it has yet to be conquered in any sense of the word. Important strides have been made, however, and some of them have taken place in the four decades since the Waisman Center opened as one of the nation’s first wave of centers dedicated to study of the brain and the nervous system.

It is one of just 15 Eunice Kennedy Shriver research centers in the nation, but the Waisman Center doesn’t always get the attention received by other UW-Madison research centers. Even so, its accomplishments over time – in pure research and in dealing with patients in clinical settings – are impressive.

Over the past 40 years, Waisman scientists have discovered some of the causes of autism, disclosed the genetic roots of rare neurodegenerative diseases, manufactured cell- and gene-based pharmaceuticals to cure diseases, found ways to use medical imaging to “see” the brains of people with autism, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders, discovered how infants learn language and even shown how meditation can change the brain.

Its team of stem cell scientists has discovered how those basic building blocks can be turned into different types of brain cells that are lost due to the ravages of certain neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s, macular degeneration and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Since opening in 1973, the Waisman Center has provided clinical services to more than 160,000 children and adults, trained 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students and, more recently, operated a biomanufacturing center that helps emerging companies in the region develop tomorrow’s drugs.

“It is one of the main institutions in our community and state that contribute to scientific discovery while also providing hope for people of all ages and their families,” said Marsha Mailick, the Waisman Center’s director.

Waisman’s biomanufacturing center is an example of how research leads to economic growth. The state-of-the art cleanroom facility provides manufacturing and testing services for a broad range of pharmaceuticals and biotherapeutics in their test phases.

It’s an important link between researchers and moving cures and diagnostics to the market. Since opening in 2001, the biomanufacturing center has manufactured more than 300 clinical grade products.

Because the brain is one of the last frontiers of medical science, much work remains to be done at Waisman and similar centers. What Mailick describes as the “epidemic” of autism is a focus for some of its researchers. Some are examining how Fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition found most often in boys, is a pathway to autism. Down syndrome and Alexander disease are among other major study areas.

As the Waisman Center moves toward a series of anniversary seminars and celebrations in the fall, tens of thousands of people in Wisconsin and well beyond can quietly appreciate how its work has touched and even transformed lives. As President Kennedy noted in his telegram to Harrington, the “vast field” of development disabilities remains precisely that – vast.

-- Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal. -- Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Tom Still: Wisconsin is poster child for why immigration reform can help the economy

By Tom Still
Here's an eye-opening statement about Wisconsin's workforce woes that explains why Republicans and Democrats in Washington, D.C., may finally come together over the issue of immigration reform.

"... Even if we are able to retrain Wisconsin's entire unemployed population and match them with available jobs, we will still fall well short of filling the projected 925,000 jobs created or replaced between 2008 and 2018. This is because our working age population already peaked in 2010 and is projected to continue declining through at least 2035."

That's from a recent report to Gov. Scott Walker from a working group headed by Tim Sullivan, the former Bucyrus-Erie chief executive officer who was asked to study Wisconsin's workforce needs. The conclusion: Immigration is good for the U.S. economy and Wisconsin shouldn't miss the chance to attract talent it needs to remain competitive.

In a global economy, Wisconsin looks much less international than even its neighbors. Compared to Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan, Wisconsin has a smaller share of foreign-born population and total labor force, as well as fewer foreign-born business owners.

The gap is most glaring when it comes to keeping foreign-born workers with specific skills needed in a knowledge-based economy. The United States annually graduates about 40,000 foreign-born students with master's or doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering or math, but only a fraction are allowed or encouraged to stay.

Eric Schmidt, the former CEO and chairman of Google, summarized it when he said: "Of all the crazy rules in our government, the craziest bar none is that we take the smartest people in the world, we bring them to America, we give then Ph.D.s in technical science, and we kick them out to go found great companies outside of America. This is madness."

It is madness that directly affects the American economy, which has historically depended on immigrants for labor – from manual to intellectual – and as a source of entrepreneurism. Immigrants founded Google, Intel, eBay, Sun Microsystems, Yahoo!, Hotmail, PayPal, U.S. Steel, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Pfizer and Procter and Gamble, to name a few examples. One quarter of American Nobel Prize winners since 1901 and 40 percent of the Ph.D scientists working today in the United States are foreign-born.

Three-quarters of all patents awarded to the nation's top 10 patent-producing universities in 2011 had at least one foreign inventor. During that same period, more than half of all patents (54 percent) were awarded to the group of foreign inventors most likely to face visa hurdles – students, postdoctoral fellows and staff researchers. Those findings were contained in "Patent pending: How immigrants are reinventing the American economy," which was published by the New American Economy partnership.

Aren't immigrants taking jobs from native-born citizens? Certainly not in the case of scientists, engineers and technicians, who remain in short supply nationally due to decades of decline in the production of American-born students in those fields. The Sullivan report addressed that perception, as well.

"… There is no evidence that immigration has a negative impact on native employment," it read. "There is evidence that immigration encourages U.S. natives to upgrade their skills through additional education or training. This would encourage native-born workers to shift into the middle class."

While American kids were majoring in finance or the social sciences, foreign-born students were competing to become scientists and engineers. Now that those foreign-born students are earning advanced degrees in U.S. universities, the immigration system is preventing most of them from staying – just as they're needed most.

The solutions include granting permanent residency ("green cards") to foreign students who earn graduate degrees in science and technical fields; creating a startup visa for foreign-born entrepreneurs who want to use their research to form companies; and remove caps on the H-1B temporary high-skilled visa. Also, cities such as Milwaukee can examine best practices in other metro areas that have attracted well-educated immigrants.

In Wisconsin, the Legislature could recast the existing Education Tax Credit so that employers could use it to hire people from outside Wisconsin – whether they're from Indiana or India – and help cover their education. A revamped "Workers of the Future Tax Credit" was outlined in a recent report on performance-based education from the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

"If Wisconsin wants a quicker economic recovery and long-term prosperity, we need to embrace immigration," the Sullivan report concluded. Finally, it appears, national policymakers may be reaching the same conclusion.

-- Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison.


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